KELLER WILLIAMS DALLAS METRO NORTH

5 Steps for Boomers Preparing to Downsize

Although it can be difficult to move from the family home, the decision to downsize to a simpler and more affordable life can be a good one for aging baby boomers. Here are 5 steps on how to go about it:

  1. Dream, research & strategize – Make your wish list. Begin by dreaming and considering different scenarios. What matters most? Where do you want to be – city? suburbs? 55 & over community? What about location? Do you want to be close to medical? close to airport? close to family?
  2. Begin to Downsize in Place – That means begin to get rid of your stuff. Storage is a big issue when downsizing. One perspective is to imagine how many rooms you’ll have in your new home, then purge belongings to fit your new space.
  3. Use available resources to help market your home – Curb appeal and online marketing are important now. Use a real estate agent who can help you spruce up your home for sale. Impressions count – both in person and online.
  4. Make a detailed plan based on monthly payments – Downsizing savings typically come from lowering monthly mortgage payments by using cash from selling your existing home. Additional savings come from reduced property taxes, maintenance and utilities. Prepare for the long-term. A National Association of Realtors survey says downsizers on average plan to stay 15 years in their new home.beach House2
  5. Scout locations – This is the fun part. With the “business” side of downsizing taken care of and your wish list in hand, you can turn your dreams into reality. Hop on the internet to research – can you afford a London flat? How about the beaches in Mexico? Statistically, the trend for downsizing boomers is toward smaller, walkable U.S. cities with well furnished homes, high speed internet, and accessible services.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

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Know How to Spot Electrical Safety in a New Home

electricityWhen shopping for a home, you’re probably focused on things like the size of the master bedroom and the kitchen’s proximity to the family room, but you should also be on the lookout for electrical safety issues.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were over 380,000 residential fires in the U.S. in 2015, mainly caused by cooking, heating and electrical equipment malfunctions. Electrical device manufacturer Leviton suggests homebuyers and new homeowners take the following steps:

1. Electrical PanelCheck out the electrical panel. Make sure it was installed properly and in the right location. Panels must be in a spot that is easily accessible to firefighters in case of an emergency. The panel should not be hot to the touch and make sure it wasn’t part of a manufacturer recall in the past several years.

2. Make sure the home has enough amps. If you are constantly tripping a circuit, you may be using too many electrical appliances at once or you may need to consult an electrician to inspect further and increase your home’s electrical supply.

3. Make sure AFCIs are installed. An AFCI – or an arc fault circuit interrupter – breaks the circuit when it detects an electric arc in the circuit it protects to prevent electrical fires. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 50 percent of electrical fires that occur each year could be prevented by having AFCIs installed.

GFCI-1The CPSC also advises checking to make sure a home has enough ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). GFCIs can prevent electrocutions, so make sure they’re installed in locations required by the National Electrical Code, such as kitchens, bathrooms, garages, unfinished basements and near laundry tubs or wet bar sinks. GFCIs (those little red buttons on outlets) should be tested once a month.

Taking the above steps will help ensure that your new home is not only beautiful, but safe and sound.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs.

 

The Best Home Security Pins

Home Security1Even though Flower Mound was recently ranked the #1 safest community in Texas, it’s still important to be mindful about your home security. Is your home security PIN easy to guess? With four digits you have exactly 10,000 choices — and some pins are stronger than others. This SAFEHOME article suggests do’s and don’ts for personal identification numbers you may find helpful.

Security PIN Don’ts

The best home security PINs are easy for you to remember yet difficult for others to guess. Therefore the worst PINs are 1) common or 2) easy to guess with research about your household. Here are examples of PINs to avoid.

  • The Default PIN: Your home security system might have a default PIN. Do not keep this code! Replace a default PIN as soon as possible.
  • Your Usual PIN: Don’t use the same PIN in different places. Using the same PIN for bank cards and your alarm system, for example, increases your vulnerability.
  • Patterns: Avoid choosing PINs with common number patterns such as 1234, 2222 and 2468. These sorts of PINs are very common and relatively easy to guess with sheer luck. (Don’t try to get clever with pi either; 3141 is a popular PIN too.) Also avoid physical patterns that simply move across or down the keypad, such as 2580.
  • Address and Phone: Don’t use part of your address or phone number when setting your PIN. For example, if your phone number is 867-5309, then “5309” would be a not-so-secure PIN.
  • Birthdays and Anniversaries: A criminal can easily research the dates of importance to you and your family members. Therefore don’t use birthday numbers or a wedding anniversary date as a PIN.
  • Years: It’s wise to avoid any PIN that starts with 19 or 20, such as 1968 or 2017, because criminals have found that these PINs are rather common. Also avoid using years that have historical significance such as 1776.

Home SecuritySecurity PIN Do’s

With so many don’ts, what’s left? Here are tips for choosing a home security PIN that’s memorable but can’t easily be compromised.

  • Start with a Digit 2-9. The best home security PINs start with a digit from 2 through 9. These are much less common than PINs starting with 1.
  • Space Your Numbers. People tend to choose PIN digits that are adjacent to each other on a security keypad. Make your PIN harder to guess by choosing digits that are more distant from each other. For example, 4917 is more difficult to guess compared with 4569.
  • Use Letters. Use letters instead of numbers to remember your home security code. For example, the phrase “A Very Fine House” is abbreviated AVFH. On a security keypad the corresponding digits are 2834.

Extra Security PIN Tips

For extra PIN security, be sure that your alarm control panel isn’t in view of prowlers, including prowlers with binoculars.

fingerprintsBe sure to clear your fingerprints or other signs of control pad wear. If you leave prints on a touchscreen control panel, you could make it easy for an intruder to narrow down the possibilities for your PIN. With pushbutton control panels, occasionally changing your PIN can help ensure that all the buttons wear evenly.

 

Home security information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified realtors eager to assist you!

 

Homeownership & Well-Being: It’s Complicated

Model house in female hands.Homeownership has come to represent security and wealth – the American Dream, realized, for millions who place their stake through property. There is evidence, even, that homeownership lends itself to overall satisfaction.

Financially, homeownership is also associated with well-being, according to a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB defines “financial well-being” as “a state of being wherein a person can fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations, can feel secure in their financial future and is able to make choices that allow them to enjoy life.”

The first factor is key. The ability to afford a home affects sense of well-being, the report shows. The CFPB assigned respondents to a survey, on a scale of zero to 100, scores of well-being. In comparing homeowners and renters, homeowners averaged a 58, while renters averaged a 49. (As a whole, respondents to the survey averaged a 54.) Generally, Americans in good enough financial straits (in the context of income and savings) are in a position to purchase a home; the capacity to own, therefore, rather than ownership itself, is a predicator of well-being.

Business 01Affordability is also impactful in that those with a lower share of their income spent on housing have higher scores of well-being. Respondents paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing averaged a 46.5, roughly 10 points below the 56.51 of respondents who shell out 30 percent or less.

Respondents with “non-retirement investments” have higher scores of well-being, as well. (A house, often, is an appreciating asset, building wealth, as other investments do, over time.) Respondents with even one non-retirement investment averaged a 62, while those without averaged a 51. (Real estate, relatedly, has ranked as the No. 1 investment in several studies.)

“Housing satisfaction” is connected similarly. Respondents “very satisfied” with the place they live averaged a 60; those less than “very satisfied” averaged a 50. One distinction, however: The ability to improve level of satisfaction (buying in a more costly but safer neighborhood, for example) hinges on having the wherewithal to do so.

New Home - family - 01Financial well-being is also linked to homeownership in unanticipated ways. According to the report, age, education and physical health are the top three influences on financial well-being. Age has implications: Americans at a certain life stage, for instance, could be of the perception that “now” is the time to own a home. If they do not meet that expectation, their sense of well-being could suffer.

A cushion for emergencies, likewise, is related. Respondents with access to at least $2,000 for the unexpected (within 30 days) averaged a score of 62 – leaps ahead of the 39 for those without. On the other side of the coin: Respondents who have experienced a “financial shock,” such as a major home repair, averaged a 52, while those who have not averaged a 57.

“The strongest relationships to financial well-being appear to be related to savings and security nets,” the report states. Homeownership, for most, is both – but its relationship to well-being? It’s complicated.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs.

Monthly Review of the Texas Economy

Texas1Texas’ labor market has recovered from the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey. The state gained 316,100 non-agricultural jobs from October 2016 to October 2017, an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent, higher than the nation’s employment growth rate of 1.4 percent.

According to the Real Estate Center’s latest Monthly Review of the Texas Economy, the nongovernment sector added 279,300 jobs, an annual growth rate of 2.8 percent, also higher than the nation’s employment growth rate of 1.6 percent in the private sector.

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October 2017 was 3.9 percent, lower than the 4.8 percent rate in October 2016. The nation’s rate decreased from 4.8 to 4.1 percent.

All Texas industries except the information industry had more jobs in October 2017 than in October 2016.  The mining and logging industry ranked first in job creation followed by other services, manufacturing, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, professional and business studies, and transportation, warehousing, and utilities.

All Texas metro areas except Texarkana, Waco, and Beaumont-Port Arthur had more jobs in October 2017 than in October 2016. College Station-Bryan ranked first in job creation followed by Corpus Christi, San Antonio-New Braunfels, Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Dallas-Plano-Irving, and Fort Worth-Arlington.

The state’s actual unemployment rate in October 2017 was 3.5 percent. Amarillo had the lowest unemployment rate followed by Midland, College Station-Bryan, Austin-Round Rock, and Lubbock.

by Ali Anari, November 27, 2017 (Texas A&M University – Real Estate Center)

Monthly Review provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today for help with your real estate needs!

Most Important Features Millennials Want in Their Homes

shutterstock_626492420There have been a lot of studies, think pieces and discussions trying to figure out millennials. Business owners were skeptical about hiring millennials a few years ago and now, as this younger generation continues to grow and succeed in life, the housing market seems to be the next millennial-facing industry.

There’s no doubt that millennials have finally entered the housing market. In fact, they currently make up 35 percent of buyers throughout the United States. Approximately 68 percent of all first-time home buyers fall into this age bracket, as well. But what do they want inside their homes?

Let’s take a look and see what millennials are looking for when it comes to buying a home.

Interior Laundry RoomSeparate Laundry Rooms – Say what you will about millennials and their laundry habits, the majority of millennial homebuyers are searching for homes with an additional room just for laundry. Roughly 92 percent of homebuyers want a separate laundry room, coming in as the No. 1 thing millennials are looking for.

Outdoor Lighting – The second most desired feature for millennial homebuyers is exterior lighting. Roughly 90 percent of all people searching for a home in the current market want exterior lighting to illuminate their landscape.

Energy-Efficient Appliances – Another aspect of home-buying that cracks the top 10 for millennials is having energy-efficient appliances inside the home. (In fact, across every generation of homebuyers, 90 percent of people are looking for this feature.)

Hardwood FlooringHardwood Floors – Millennial homebuyers also prefer hardwood floors for their homes. Rather than choosing carpeting, approximately 82 percent of homebuyers are searching for properties with open hardwood floor plans.

There are still plenty of millennials who aren’t ready to buy a home just yet – but it looks like these are the kinds of features they will be looking for when they are ready to enter the housing market.

Information about Millennial homebuyers provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 outstanding agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!