Millennials Are Moving to These 5 US Centers

With 43.5 million millennials making up the US population, it’s worthwhile to find out exactly where this generation is buying and moving. Whether they’re already existing homeowners who are relocating, renters who are entering the housing market for the first time, or are homebuyer hopefuls who are moving out of their parents’ homes, millennials are on the move.

Here is a list of US cities where millennials are flocking to in 2016.

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5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

While many millennials may have a warm climate on the mind, others are content to deal with cooler winters if it means paying less on their mortgages. The median list price for homes in this former steel town currently sits at $142,392, which is well under the national average home value of $186,200.

In addition to the low cost to buy a home, millennials also appreciate the convenient public transit in Pittsburgh, as well as the revitalized downtown core that contributes to a vibrant night-life. Right now, 12.3% of the population in Pittsburgh is made up of Generation Yers.

4. Atlanta, Georgia

Not only are millennials moving to Atlanta for better weather and a change of scenery, they’re also heading to this southern city in search of better job opportunities and more affordable lifestyles. Atlanta has been on the radar for a while now; in fact, it’s claimed top title for movers of all ages for the past few years.

But young Americans, in particular, are attracted to the cost of living, affordable housing market, and bustling night-life in Atlanta. The millennial population of the city currently sits at 13.6%.

3. Seattle, Washington

Thanks to a strong tech industry supplying tons of well-paying jobs, millennials who are moving to Seattle are able to afford the steep median home sales price of $510,000. Many techie big-wigs have their head offices in Seattle, including Microsoft and Amazon.

The city has easily become a powerful economic force, attracting high-tech employees, the outdoorsy type, and people who simply enjoy living in a city that’s loaded with top-notch arts and entertainment with a killer landscape. As of late, the population component of millennials in Seattle is currently 14.9%.

2. San Diego, California

While not exactly the cheapest city on this list with a median home sales price of $489,000, millennials are willing to sacrifice housing affordability for some of the amazing perks and amenities that San Diego has to offer. Southern California is already a target for many millennials – and other age groups – but San Diego is playing a particularly strong role in driving millennials to this prime part of the country. The population contribution of millennials in San Diego currently hovers around 15.5%.

The climate itself is already a trait that needs no help promoting. But in addition to the amazing landscapes and weather, young Americans are also attracted to the plethora of solid employment opportunities, predominantly in the biotech industry. They also appreciate the high walkable scores that San Diego boasts in many of its neighborhoods, as well as the ability to live, work and play all within flourishing mixed-use communities.

1. Austin, Texas

The Lone Star State is attracting millennials by the hoards thanks to the strong employment market. In fact, Austin is the fastest growing city in the US, and the 25 to 34-year-olds are playing a key role in this expansion. Right now, 16.5% of the population in Austin is made up of millennials, who are snatching up lots of tech jobs and keeping the unemployment rate in the city and surrounding communities at a low 3.3%.

Buyers: 6 Things to Know About the New "Know Before You Owe" Rule

If you’ve ever bought a home in the past, you’ve likely experienced some level of confusion over the cumbersome mortgage documents that came along with the transaction. Going through this paperwork can be like reading a foreign language. Many buyers have complained about confusing terminology, inconsistencies in information, and inadequate time to go through and understand the mortgage documents before signing on the dotted line.

What often resulted was buyers being stuck with fees that they weren’t even aware of, simply because of the complex paperwork that they were forced to navigate in a short period of time.

The good news is, the relatively new “Know Before You Owe” lending initiative, which includes the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule (TRID), was created to arm borrowers with the information needed to make an informed decision regarding mortgages. By more clearly understanding your loan options, you can avoid being unpleasantly surprised at the costs of your mortgage when it comes time to close.

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Here are 6 things you should know about new changes to mortgage disclosures.

1. Documents are much shorter in length.

The mortgage documents that you get will essentially be cut in half. What used to be four forms has now been reduced to two. Before the TRID rules took effect in October 2015, borrowers would typically receive both the Good Faith Estimate and Truth-in-Lending Act statements when applying for a mortgage. Final TILA-RESPA statements and an HUD-1 settlement would then be given just before closing.

Today, only the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure will be given to borrowers. The first document is supplied to the borrower within three days of the mortgage application being submitted, and the latter is sent out three days prior to closing. These new forms are a lot easier to understand, and don’t take as long to sift through given their shorter length.

2. Mortgages can be more easily compared.

Shopping around for a mortgage and comparing them to each other is much more feasible thanks to the simplified Loan Estimate document. Finding a mortgage package with terms and conditions that best suits your financial situation is essential, which is why it’s a good idea to weigh one mortgage against another.

The Loan Estimate makes this job a lot easier because it itemizes each cost associated with a mortgage, such as the interest rate, the monthly payments, and how much the mortgage will cost over a five-year term. Having these numbers listed in detail makes side-by-side comparison easy.

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3. Lender fees are outlined in detail.

Any loan origination fees that your lender may charge will be spelled out on the Loan Estimate. Costs incurred for their services include underwriting fees, points, and application fees. By knowing what these fees are, you’ll be able to compare them among various lenders before you settle on one. 

4. You’ll have a better idea of how much money you’ll need to close.

There’s no secret when it comes to how much money you’ll need to close on your mortgage these days. The “Estimated Cash to Close” section of the Loan Estimate will outline details about approximately how much money will be needed to complete the transaction. This amount will include the down payment, less your deposit or any adjustments or credits from the seller. Any closing costs that are added to the mortgage amount will also be listed on the Loan Estimate.

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5. You’ll have three days to go over your mortgage documents.

Your lender must supply you with the Closing Disclosure no later than three business days before closing. This three-day time period gives you a chance to take your time going over the terms of the mortgage, and compare the final expenses to those outlined on the Loan Estimate. Having a few days to review these details gives you the opportunity to raise questions you might have before sealing the deal.

6. The new disclosures shouldn’t delay your closing.

For the most part, the new disclosures won’t cause a delay in the transaction’s closing, as long as there aren’t any changes to pertinent items in the mortgage. However, your lender will have to give you another three-day review period if there is an increase in the APR by over 1/8% for a fixed-rate mortgage or 1/4% for an adjustable-rate mortgage. In addition, three extra days will also need to be provided if a prepayment penalty is added, and if there is a change to the loan product itself.

The new “Know Before You Owe” mortgage rules make it easier than ever before to understand the stipulations in your mortgage documents, and give you plenty of time to review them before you decide to go ahead with the mortgage. If there is anything you find confusing, it’s always best to consult with a lawyer or housing advisor to have any questions answered before closing on your mortgage.

Tips to Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

The whole idea of taking a vacation is to get away from the everyday stresses of life and change the scenery, if only for a temporary amount of time. The last thing you need is to worry about the security of your home while you’re gone.

Just as much as you take the time to book your hotel and plan out your itinerary, you should also make an effort to take certain precautions before you head abroad. Make yourself a checklist of all the things that you should do to ensure your home is safe without you there; doing so will make all the difference in keeping your home and its contents safe while you’re not there to police them. That way, you can focus on having fun on your vacation, and leave your worries behind.

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Get Someone to House Sit For You

To keep a close eye on your home while you’re away, consider getting someone to house sit on your behalf. If you’ve got a family member or close friend who is willing to house sit for you while you’re gone, great. If not, ask a neighbor that you trust to keep a close watch on your home, and to contact you if they see anything suspicious.

At the very least, have someone water your plants, gather up your mail, and pick up newspapers that would otherwise pile up at your doorstep. If worse comes to worse – and if you can afford it – you may want to consider professional house sitting services that will cover all aspects of caring for your home while you’re not there to. 

Put Your Mail and Newspaper Delivery on Hold

An alternative to having someone pick up your mail and newspapers for you is to simply put these deliveries on hold until you get back. A stack of newspapers is a definite tip-off to shady characters that no one is around, inviting them to target your home for a potential burglary. Call the newspaper delivery service and postal office and request that a hold be placed on your deliveries. You might even be able to do this online depending on where you live.

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Make it Look Like Someone’s Home

Potential thieves will hone in on properties that they suspect are presently vacant. When action stops, it’s a sure sign that no one is around. To help make it appear as if someone is home, put your exterior and interior lights on timers so they can be programmed to go on and off at certain intervals. Ask your neighbor to put the trash can by the curb on garbage day and put it away after it’s been picked up. Take the time to ensure that your home looks occupied, even if it’s not.

Keep the Lawn Manicured

Overgrown grass is another sign that homeowners have bailed for a little while. Have a friend or neighbor cut the grass for you while you’re gone (and don’t forget to offer a gift to show your appreciation). Or else, hire a lawn maintenance company to tackle the job for you so that no one suspects that you’re not around.   

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Don’t Announce Your Departure on Social Media

As excited as you probably are about your vacation, don’t blab about it on Facebook or Twitter until you’re back. Resist the temptation to post photos to your Instagram account every day while you’re gone, and save them for your return. You just never know who is looking at your page, and has bad intentions. The less you post, the less you put your home at risk.

Shut the Water Off

Heaven forbid the pipes under your kitchen sink burst while you’re away – who’s going to be there to shut it off and deal with the situation before it gets out of hand? Anything can happen, so instead of taking that risk, shut the water off altogether before you leave for your much-anticipated holiday.

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Install a Security Alarm

If you don’t already have one, consider installing an alarm system before you leave. No matter how simple or in-depth you go, having such a system in place can do wonders to both deter burglars, and alert neighbors and even the authorities that your home has been violated. Not only will this help keep your home safe, it will also help you shave a few bucks off your home insurance bill.

Spend your time away without being burdened by concerns about the safety of your home by taking certain precautions before you go. A little bit of effort to secure your home before you embark on your voyage can go a long way to keeping your home and belongings safe.

7 Things to Look Out For at Open Houses

You can learn a lot about a home from an Open House. While you’re not going to be climbing through the attic or sticking scopes down the plumbing pipes (leave that to the home inspector), you can still find out plenty about a property just by being vigilant.

The next time you attend an Open House, make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the following.

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1. The Neighborhood

Before you even get to the house, be sure to have a look around at the neighborhood in general. If you’re going to consider living in the area, you’ve got to make sure that it fits your lifestyle, whether it’s a quiet or bustling one that you’re looking for. Scope out all the amenities, such as nearby schools, shops, and parks.

While you’re at it, keep an eye out for the neighbors, or at least their homes. You want to see how they take care of their properties, especially those that are adjacent or backing onto the property in question. You’re buying the neighborhood just as much as the home itself, so make sure it’s a place you’ll be happy living in.

2. The Home’s Exterior

While you might want to dart right into the home’s interior, take a walk around the perimeter of the home first to check out the structure’s exterior. Have a look at the siding, brick, or whatever the exterior walls are made of. See if anything is chipping, peeling, or fading. Check out the roof to see what shape it’s in, and look for any cracks in the foundation.

What’s the state of the gutters and exterior windows? What about the driveway and exterior walkways? If there are a number of issues on the exterior that need repair or replacement, you’ll want to take them into consideration if you decide to put in an offer.

3. The Layout

Professional photos posted online may give you a good sense of what the home looks like, but it’s nearly impossible to get a feel of the exact layout of the space, and how it flows. While some homes have a more attractive and practical layout than others, what works for one type of family may not necessarily work for another.

Open concepts are hot these days, but there are still many families that prefer to have rooms sectioned off for more privacy and defined spaces. Some families want all bedrooms on the same floor, while others don’t mind the master taking up its own floor, for instance. It’s important to determine what the exact layout of the home is, and if it’s suitable to your family’s lifestyle. 

4. Room Sizes

Many homeowners make descriptive brochures available at open houses which outline a number of pertinent details about the property, including room dimensions. You’ll want to get a good idea of how large the rooms are so you can determine if the furniture you’ve already got will fit in the space or if you’ll have to buy new pieces to accommodate for the room sizes.

If such information is not readily available, ask the real estate agent on site who’s hosting the Open House for these numbers. At the very least, they should be detailed in the actual listing.

5. Privacy

Most likely, you’ll want to enjoy the comforts of your home in peace, without constantly being on display. Is the backyard fenced in, or surrounded by hedges? Does the neighbor’s master bedroom window abut the bathroom window of the home you’re checking out? Such issues don’t have to be deal-breakers; there are ways to deal with them, but it’s still a good idea to see what you’re working with.

6. Smells and Stains

Pay special attention to any stains on the floors, walls, and ceilings. These may be signs of major issues, such as roof problems, draining issues, or previous floods. Any moisture in the house can lead to serious issues, such as mold and mildew, which are dangerous to be exposed to for an extended period of time.

Not only will your eyes point to potential issues, but so will your nose. Even if you can’t see any obvious stains, any musty smells will tell you that something may be lurking. Don’t ignore your senses; instead, find out more about what’s behind what you’re seeing and smelling.

7. Closet and Storage Space

Organization is key to keeping your home neat and tidy, but without adequate storage space, your home can get cluttered extremely quickly. During the tour of the home, don’t be afraid to open up every door. You want to see how many closets and storage rooms there are, as well as how much they can house. You now how much stuff you have, so make sure the home is able to accommodate it all before you get emotionally attached to it.

While there’s only so much that you can identify when meandering through a property during an Open House, there’s certainly a lot that can be learned just by being aware of specific issues. Keep the above factors in mind so you know what to look for, and what questions to ask.

7 Features Homebuyers Will Dish Out Extra For

Everyone knows that location is a key factor in dictating how much a property can sell for in a given market. But while close proximity to employment, amenities, and green space are all important to boosting property values, the physical features of the homes themselves obviously also play important roles in how much buyers are willing to pay for them.

Buyers often have a list of features that they ideally want to see in a home before they consider putting in an offer. While different buyers may have their own unique needs and wants, there are specific features that seem to be universally considered valuable, so much so that buyers are willing to may more for them.   

If you’ve got any of the following traits in your home, you’ll likely be able to find buyers that will dish out more for them.

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1. Ensuite Bathroom in the Master Bedroom

There’s something about a master ensuite that offers a personal retreat right in the confines of your own home. A master ensuite has been a popular feature for homeowners for the last decade or so, and continues to be a highly coveted feature. It’s a staple in the design of new homes, but older homes typically require a renovation job to squeeze this extra space in.

If your home boasts a master ensuite, almost half of the buyers out there will pay over $2,000 more versus a home down the street without one.

2. Walk-in Closet in the Master Bedroom

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It seems like the master bedroom is more of a sanctuary than just a place to lay your head at night. In addition to a master ensuite, having a walk-in closet in this room can bring even more money to the table.

Having extra storage space to house clothes and shoes for more effective organization and easy access is something that about 60% of homebuyers are willing to pay an extra $1,300 for. And the bigger the space and more features it boasts (think Carrie Bradshaw’s amazing closet), the more attention – and – money – you’ll draw in.

3. Hardwood Flooring

If your home is still lined with old-fashioned wall-to-wall carpeting – especially on the main level – it may be time to switch things up, especially if you’re considering selling anytime soon. Hardwood flooring has now become an expected trait in homes for sale, so much so that many buyers will simply dismiss listings that don’t have this trait.

This is especially true among the younger millennial demographic of buyers, who have more modern tastes when it comes to home decor. Hardwood not only looks sleeker, it’s also easier to maintain compared to other surfaces like carpeting. More than half of buyers are willing to pay over $2,000 more for hardwood flooring, so it’s a feature you may want to consider if you’re thinking of selling soon.

4. Open Concept

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More and more prospective homebuyers desire an open concept where they are not separated by walls. They are especially attracted to homes with an eat-in kitchen that’s large enough to seat the family for meal times.

Cooking dinner, keeping an eye on the kids, watching TV and conversing with guests can all be done with an open concept layout, and if your home is laid out in this manner, almost half of buyers would be willing to pay an extra $1,700 for it.

5. Kitchen Island

Not only does a kitchen island create a much more impressive room, it also allows for a lot more counter space to prepare meals and house your small appliances. It also adds more functionality and practicality to the room by offering additional storage space for your pots, pans, dishes and kitchen utensils. They’re great for entertaining guests, and offer an alternative seating space for casual meals. Buyers love kitchen islands – nearly half of them are open to pay over $1,300 more for a home that has one.

6. Brand New Kitchen Appliances

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A new set of stainless steel appliances can do wonders at improving the look and feel of a kitchen. And high-end brands, as well as unique and modern appliances like wine fridges, can really up the ante when it comes to what homebuyers are willing to pay for your home. Nearly 70% of buyers are open to coughing up an extra $1,800 if your kitchen boasts new appliances.

7. Central Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is a must, especially if you live in the southern part of the country. In fact, the majority of homebuyers consider A/C to be an extremely important feature in a home, and will pay over $2,500 more to get it.

If you’re planning on selling soon, you may want to make certain improvements to your home to get top dollar. However, it’s important to note that certain projects will cost more than what you might necessarily recoup upon the sale of your property. Make sure you speak with your real estate agent about any potential home improvements that would yield the highest returns before you start making major changes.