Holiday Fire Safety

During the holiday season, homes are often beautifully decorated with candles, fresh garlands and trees adorned in lights. While the wonder of the season is exciting, it is important to be aware of potential fire hazards. Follow the tips below to make sure your home is festive and free of potential danger.

  1. If you choose to decorate a live tree, try to find one that is fresh. Fresh trees are safer for your home because they are less likely to catch fire. Some indicators of a fresh tree are:
  • Vibrant green color with needles that are not easily plucked
  • A trunk that is sticky with resin

Watch out for trees that have a greenish cast to their trunks and branches, as some growers spray trees with green paint to make them more appealing to buyers.

  1. When decorating your Christmas tree (live or artificial), ensure your tree won’t start an electrical fire. Some good tips include:
  • Use only lights that have been tested for safety (a label from an independent testing laboratory should appear on the box)
  • Check each set of lights for broken sockets, frayed wires or loose connections
  • Use a maximum of three standard-sized strings of lights per single extension cord
  • Keep cords and lights away from the tree’s water supply
  1. To dispose of your tree, take it to a tree recycling center or have it hauled away by a community pick-up service. Never burn trees, branches or needles in a fireplace or woodstove. Fir trees and pine trees have a copious amount of sap, which can explode.

For more on holiday fire safety, click here. If buying a new home is on your list of resolutions for the new year, I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your homebuying needs! Let’s plan to meet soon.

The Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) has increased the amount of money that can be borrowed through a standard home loan.

The Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) has just increased the amount of money that can be borrowed through a standard home loan to more than $500K for the first time ever. In some areas, the limit is even higher.

This is great news for buyers and owners alike.

  • Buyers may be able to borrow more money through a conventional, typically lower-rate loan.
  • Owners may be able to refinance their “jumbo” loan to a lower rate and possibly drop mortgage insurance too.
  • Combining (or avoiding) smaller 1st and 2nd mortgages may be an option.
  • The increase reaffirms the health of the housing market and your decision to invest in a home.

Here are the specifics about the change:

  • The standard loan limit, also known as the conforming loan limit, rose by 5.38% to a maximum of $510,400 in most areas.
  • The percentage increase is equal to the national appreciation average over the last year.
  • This is the 4th year in a row that the FHFA has raised the limit, after a decade of no increases. The limit has risen almost $100K over four years.
  • King, Snohomish, and Pierce county High Balance Loan Limit: 741,750.00
  • Purchase price with little as 5% down or more = 780,790.00 and borrowers can still stay in FNMA / Freddie Guidelines!

Margery L.

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Real Estate Appreciation Data: Q4 2018

The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently released year-end price figures. Just click on the image below to explore an interactive map with the most up-to-date rates of change in home values, as well as appreciation rates over a number of different time periods. Data at this site is updated quarterly, so feel free to bookmark it for easy access.

Understanding recent and long-term trends can help you remain an informed consumer, whether you’re comfortable in your home or considering to move to a new home.

If you have questions or if we can ever be of service to you, your family and your friends, please let us know. We are here to help and happy to do so.

Home Prices Continue to Rise, but Should Level Off

For the past two years, mortgage brokers nationwide have been seeing increasingly greater increases in home prices. In February, the average price of a home was up 12.2 percent over February of 2013. This was also .8 percent over the previous month.

The greatest rises in price were experienced in California, which saw an appreciation of 19.8 percent, Nevada, with 18.5 percent, Georgia, with 14.2 percent, Oregon, with 13.8 percent, and Michigan, with 13.5 percent. Meanwhile, there were no states reporting a negative annual appreciation.

According to CoreLogic president and CEO Anand Nallathambi, “The consistent upward movement in home prices should ultimately prove to be an important stimulant for higher levels of sustained market activity and growth in the housing economy.” With this in mind, and considering the continued lack of home inventory, CoreLogic is expecting prices to continue to rise throughout the year, but at a more moderate pace.


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