November 7, 2017

8 Quick Ways to Update Your Kitchen for the Holidays

Your kitchen is the hub of all activity, the central nervous center for your home. You share your life with those you love around the kitchen table or while baking cookies on the island. So why live with a dull and uninspiring space when you spend so much time there? The good news is that you can quickly update your kitchen, even if you have a limited budget or time frame. Here are some quick fixes that will boost your kitchen’s style points in no time.

Switch Out Cabinet Hardware

Time Required: 20 minutes  Price: $50-150

Fun cabinet hardware gives your old cabinets new life. Photo via home on Zillow.

Trade out tired and dull knobs for shiny new versions. Experiment with different kinds of pulls and knobs for a custom look that will fit your kitchen’s style. Even if you rent, you can change out the hardware temporarily and put back the old knobs when you move out. Class up your cabinets in minutes with minimal commitment.

Use Peel ‘n’ Stick Tiles

Time Required: 3-4 hours  Price: $100-300

You don’t have to be a professional to install a beautiful backsplash. Photo via home on Zillow.

Sick of your old, unsightly backsplash, but don’t have the time or the money for a full makeover? Try peel ‘n’ stick tiles like SmartTiles. They look like the real thing, but are actually made of a durable rubber that you can cut with an X-Acto knife. Just cut, peel, and stick for a stunning transformation that you can change or remove at any time.

Play with Window Treatments

Time Required: 30-45 minutes  Price: $0-100

Lighten up! Let the natural light help accentuate your kitchen. Photo via home on Zillow.

How light and bright or dark and dreary your kitchen is can really affect the mood. Remove heavy curtains to let in more light, or add airy panels for color, texture, and privacy. Trade out bent metal blinds for more fashionable wood ones. You’d be surprised to see how much window treatments can make or break a room – though sometimes the best option is just to go bare and let the windows shine on their own.

Switch Out Light Fixtures and Pendants

Time Required: 2-3 hours  Price: $30-70

Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles when it comes to light fixtures. Photo via home on Zillow.

Switching out light fixtures is surprisingly easy for the everyday homeowner to do. Simply turn off the power to your kitchen, and follow the instructions that come with your new fixture. Within minutes you’ll have a whole new space with pretty pendants or eye-catching fixtures that provide better light and a stunning focal point.

Mix it Up with Paint Color

Time Required: 1-2 hours  Price:$25-50

This sunny yellow kitchen isn’t overwhelming when combined with a more muted backsplash. Photo via home on Zillow.

Paint color is one of the easiest and quickest changes a homeowner can make to their kitchen. Pick out a whole new color scheme that reflects your true design style. Try a bright white or light gray for an instantly bigger space, or experiment with your favorite color for a room that will make you smile every time you make a meal.

Change Out Dated Faucets

Time Required: 2-3 hours  Price: $45-150

A new faucet can instantly upgrade your kitchen. Photo via home on Zillow.

If your faucets are dingy and outdated, it can really make your kitchen feel old and neglected. Instead, take an afternoon and install a new sink fixture, or have a contractor make even quicker work of it. Try an interesting design or an unexpected color like gold or oil-rubbed bronze. Add a sprayer to make doing the dishes more functional and fun.

Add New Coordinating Decor

Time Required: 20 minutes  Price: $0-100

You can keep it all one color or add pops of color by switching out furniture or accessories. Photo via home on Zillow.

If changing big things like cabinets or appliances isn’t in the cards, it’s surprising how much some new decor can spruce up a space. Find coordinating rugs, hand towels, and accessories in your favorite hue or a pretty pattern to instantly bump up the charm and provide colorful focal points for a cohesive feel.

Buy New Furniture Accents or Rearrange What You Have

Time Required: 1-2 hours  Price: $0-200

The open shelving on the floor adds function to a previously unused space. Photo via home on Zillow.

Buying new things like a kitchen table or bar stools can really transform the feel of your kitchen, as well as make it more functional. If you have the space, adding a dedicated coffee bar or breakfast nook can go a long way to making your kitchen feel custom. However, if you’re on a budget, simply rearranging what you have to work with and trading out different decor and furniture items from other parts of your home can give your space a breath of new life for next to nothing.

Bonus: Paint Your Existing Cabinets

Time Required: 1 week  Price: $100-200

A little bit of color goes a long way. Photo via home on Zillow.

If you have a week to dedicate and can afford some paint and brushes, painting your existing cabinets can completely transform the way your kitchen looks, without the cost and hassle of renovating your entire kitchen. Try trendy gray, classic white, or a number of other colors in between for an updated look that costs a fraction of the price of new cabinets and looks just as good.

So whether you only have an hour, an afternoon, or a weekend, you can absolutely revamp your existing kitchen without too much of a time commitment or effort. By incorporating your favorite colors and modern, updated fixtures and features, you can take your kitchen from drab to fab in no time flat.

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October 24, 2017

A Tale of Two Markets: A 6-Month Update

Six months ago, we reported that the mismatch between the type of inventory of homes for sale and the demand of buyers in the US was causing the formation of two markets.

In the starter and trade-up home categories, there were significantly more buyers than there were homes for sale, causing a seller’s market. In the premium, or luxury, home categories, the opposite was true as there was a surplus of these homes compared to the buyers that were out searching for their dream homes, which created a buyer’s market.

According to the National Association of Realtors latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of existing homes for sale in today’s market is at a 4.2-month supply. Inventory is now 6.5% lower than this time last year, marking the 27th consecutive month of year-over-year decreases.

Looking at the latest report from Trulia, we can see that not much has changed, and in fact, recent natural disasters across the country have made inventory conditions even more dire.

Trulia’s market mismatch score measures the search interest of buyers against the category of homes that are available on the market. For example: “if 60% of buyers are searching for starter homes but only 40% of listings are starter homes, [the] market mismatch score for starter homes would be 20.”

Bottom Line

Real estate is local. If you are thinking about buying OR selling this fall, let’s get together to discuss the exact market conditions in your area.

March 23, 2017

The Future is Almost Here

The countdown has begun! Our great brand is just weeks away from launching a new expression of luxury. As a global leader in luxury real estate sales, we are excited to finally bring this new expression forward. Since 1933, our mission was to deliver a luxury real estate marketing platform that would be second to none. We have stayed true to this quest, as we sought to enhance the program for the next generation of sales associates and their esteemed clients. During the week of April 11, we will bring our efforts to life across multiple platforms — in digital and print form, in national and local media.The countdown has begun! Our great brand is just weeks away from launching a new expression of luxury. As a global leader in luxury real estate sales, we are excited to finally bring this new expression forward. Since 1933, our mission was to deliver a luxury real estate marketing platform that would be second to none. We have stayed true to this quest, as we sought to enhance the program for the next generation of sales associates and their esteemed clients. During the week of April 11, we will bring our efforts to life across multiple platforms — in digital and print form, in national and local media.The countdown has begun! Our great brand is just weeks away from launching a new expression of luxury. As a global leader in luxury real estate sales, we are excited to finally bring this new expression forward. Since 1933, our mission was to deliver a luxury real estate marketing platform that would be second to none. We have stayed true to this quest, as we sought to enhance the program for the next generation of sales associates and their esteemed clients. During the week of April 11, we will bring our efforts to life across multiple platforms — in digital and print form, in national and local media.The countdown has begun! Our great brand is just weeks away from launching a new expression of luxury. As a global leader in luxury real estate sales, we are excited to finally bring this new expression forward. Since 1933, our mission was to deliver a luxury real estate marketing platform that would be second to none. We have stayed true to this quest, as we sought to enhance the program for the next generation of sales associates and their esteemed clients. During the week of April 11, we will bring our efforts to life across multiple platforms — in digital and print form, in national and local media.The countdown has begun! Our great brand is just weeks away from launching a new expression of luxury. As a global leader in luxury real estate sales, we are excited to finally bring this new expression forward. Since 1933, our mission was to deliver a luxury real estate marketing platform that would be second to none. We have stayed true to this quest, as we sought to enhance the program for the next generation of sales associates and their esteemed clients. During the week of April 11, we will bring our efforts to life across multiple platforms — in digital and print form, in national and local media.The countdown has begun! Our great brand is just weeks away from launching a new expression of luxury. As a global leader in luxury real estate sales, we are excited to finally bring this new expression forward. Since 1933, our mission was to deliver a luxury real estate marketing platform that would be second to none. We have stayed true to this quest, as we sought to enhance the program for the next generation of sales associates and their esteemed clients. During the week of April 11, we will bring our efforts to life across multiple platforms — in digital and print form, in national and local media.The countdown has begun! Our great brand is just weeks away from launching a new expression of luxury. As a global leader in luxury real estate sales, we are excited to finally bring this new expression forward. Since 1933, our mission was to deliver a luxury real estate marketing platform that would be second to none. We have stayed true to this quest, as we sought to enhance the program for the next generation of sales associates and their esteemed clients. During the week of April 11, we will bring our efforts to life across multiple platforms — in digital and print form, in national and local media.That brings me to one of the cornerstones of our new identity: content. Over the past year, we have invested considerable resources into content marketing efforts, such as our much-lauded Homes & Estates magazine (look for the Spring 2017 issue to drop next month!) and this very blog, which now hosts the popular “Home of the Week” video series. I encourage you to take a look around the blog. For instance, this month’s “10 over $10 Million” edition features some of our most enviable properties yet, whether you’re searching for a waterfront Italian villa in Miami or a Presidio Heights midcentury modern high-rise in San Francisco. Another must-read story is “Renovation Romance,” which features an exclusive interview with Hollywood house-flipping couple Corbin Bernsen and Amanda Pays. Thanks to the enhancements we made this year and the talent of the same award-winning team that made Coldwell Banker® one of the most influential real estate brands on social media, our luxury blog now has a reach of more than one million annually on social media! We will carry this incredible achievement with us as we move the blog under a new name in April. Look for us next month under the new banner ….

Needless to say, I am very excited for the future of luxury at the Coldwell Banker brand. Onward and upward … to the next generation of luxury in real estate!

 

March 15, 2017

The Fed Just Hiked Interest Rates…What Does it Mean to You??

If you’ve ever borrowed money or opened a savings account, then the Federal Reserve matters to you.

As was widely expected, the US central bank just decided to raise its benchmark interest rateto a target of 0.75% to 1% at this week’s meeting, and it has signaled that more rate hikes are to come.

That rate, called the fed funds rate, serves as a benchmark for basically every interest rate in the US: government borrowing rates, mortgage rates, credit-card rates, savings-account yields, and so on.

The Fed uses it as a way to accelerate, or slow, economic growth. The rate is rising because the job market is relatively strong and the central bank doesn’t want prices rising too fast. Making it costlier to borrow will eventually slow spending by companies and consumers alike.

So, even if you’re not a titan of finance, the Fed’s interest-rate decision could still affect you if you’re planning to buy a house or save for retirement.

                                                                                                                                                           published by Rueters: AndyKlersz
March 10, 2017

Daylight saving time begins Sunday, March 12: 6 things to know about “springing forward”

October 30, 2015

Homes That Get You There in Style

By Air

DCIM100GOPRO

Ruskin, FL 33570
$4,995,000 USD

Who wouldn’t want their own private island estate? You might assume this furnished 3.51-acre luxury compound near Sarasota is accessible by water (given the fact that it’s surrounded on three sides by sea and boasts 800 feet of wide-open bay frontage), but nay—it’s best accessed via the air, thanks to a swanky helipad.

BLOG_33583MulhollandHwy75

33583 Mulholland Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
$7,495,000 USD

Anyone who has ever made the trip from Los Angeles to Malibu knows that the four-lane Pacific Coast Highway (known by locals as “PCH”) is one minor fender bender away from a major traffic jam at all times. Your time is worth more than that — which is why it’s preferable to hop on your personal helicopter, fly over the gorgeous Pacific and land right at home on your 50-foot helipad in this spectacular Ed Niles-designed masterpiece in the Malibu hills. Set on approximately 16 acres with endless mountain views of Boney Ridge, this steel and glass contemporary estate is the epitome of a lifestyle purchase.

BLOG_St. Tropez

St Tropez 83990, France
$39,949,778 USD

Sometimes driving is so…how you say…passé. For times when nothing but the extraordinary will do, this immaculate Provencal 18th-century estate in St. Tropez is the ultimate private getaway. The 14-bedroom residence rests directly on a beach featuring a small harbor with its own private pontoon, and it comes with its own helipad overlooking the water.

By Sea  

BLOG_Washington_14_print

6220 E. Mercer Way
Mercer Island, WA 98040
$5,600,000 USD

If traveling by water is more your cup of tea, this Cape Cod-inspired lakefront abode with sweeping panoramic views of Lake Washington and Mt. Rainier may be just the ticket. The five-bedroom residence offers a private dock, deep water moorage and two lifts for year-round moorage.

DCIM565MEDIADJI_0030.JPG

Miami Beach, FL 33139
$40,000,000 USD

Set on Star Island, this exclusive and private estate rests on an impressive 58,332-square-foot corner lot with 240 feet of sparkling waterfront and unobstructed views spanning from Biscayne Bay to downtown Miami. You’ll not only be able to travel around the city by yacht — which you can park at your private dock — but you will also be completely protected by tropical foliage and palms. Watching the sunset views over the bay will never be the same again.

BLOG_49 Margin - hires house aerial

49 Margin St.
Cohasset, MA 02025
$18,900,000 USD

The Oaks, New England’s finest waterfront estate, is a yachter’s paradise through and through. Set on its own private 9.41-acre peninsula only about 25 miles south of Boston, the magnificent renovated 20,000-square-foot Georgian revival mansion offers everything you could want for a life by the water’s edge: over 1,800 feet of ocean frontage and a protected 112-foot deep water dock.

By Land

BLOG_049_9105_Hazen9105 Hazen Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
$24,995,000 USD

You know that 1982 song with the refrain, “Nobody walks in LA?” It’s true for Beverly Hills, too. Some affluent 90210 residents love their cars so much that they often select their vehicle based on mood — and perhaps, where they’re going. For example, a leisurely drive down Rodeo Drive on a Sunday afternoon calls for the show-stopping Bugatti. Meeting a friend for lunch at Barney’s? The trusty Mercedes. A drive up the coast with the family? The spacious and utilitarian Range Rover. This gated, Italian-inspired view estate is primed for all of that four-wheeled finessing with a long, private gated driveway, six-car private garage, a second garage for up to 10 cars and an eight-car motor court.

BLOG_22430 Dogwood Lane_Washington

22430 Dogwood Lane
Woodway, WA 98020
$7,950,000 USD

This magnificent Woodway, Washington estate inspires the driver (or car lover) in us all. After all, it offers not one, not two, but three garages, with more than enough space for 14 cars. The 6,000-square-foot mansion, with its stately Corinthian columns, picturesque garden views and a regulation-size Little League baseball field and tennis court, can be accessed via a sweeping motor court.

BLOG_536 Ridgemoor Drive

536 Ridgemoor Drive
Willowbrook, IL 60527
$2,999,999 USD

Willowbrook is only a 22-mile drive from Chicago — the perfect amount of distance for a Class A drive. Set on 1.5 acres, this classic estate beckons drivers with a spacious five-car garage and motor court spanning the voluminous 13,000-square-foot residence. Grand. Expansive. One of a kind. And truly meant to go the distance in luxury living.

June 18, 2015

Fed signals it’s on track for September rate hike

 

 Paul Davidson, USA TODAY9:10 p.m. EDT June 17, 2015

But Fed policymakers continue to expect the federal funds rate to rise from 0.125% to 0.625% by the end of the year, in line with their median estimate in March. Economists have said there almost certainly would have to be two rate hikes to reach that level, with the first likely coming in September.

But debate among the officials on the timing of the first rate increase is becoming more heated. Seven of the 17 policymakers now expect no more than one rate hike this year, up from three in March, .that suggests the initial bump in rates could slip past September, says Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist of Barclays Capital.

The Fed depicted an economy that largely has emerged from a first-quarter slump. Its statement said “economic activity has been expanding moderately after having changed little during the first quarter.” It added that job gains have “picked up,” household spending has been “moderate” and housing “has shown some improvement” — all upgrades over its previous assessment in March.

And it said slack in the labor market, such as the large ranks of the long-term unemployed and part-time workers who prefer full-time jobs, “diminished somewhat.”

Fed officials, though, reiterated that they will hike rates only after seeing continued improvement in the labor market and being “reasonably confident” that unusually low inflation will head toward their annual 2% target by next year. The central bank’s key interest rate has been near zero since the 2008 financial crisis.

“My colleagues and I would like to see more decisive evidence that a moderate pace of economic growth will be sustained,” Yellen said.

But she said there are signs inflation could soon edge up, providing the Fed more a more solid basis to boost rates. “There has been some progress in the sense that energy prices appear to have stabilized,” she said. Low oil prices that have held down inflation have risen in recent months.

Yellen also said, “The dollar has largely stabilized.” A strong greenback has been the other big factor holding down inflation, making imports cheaper for U.S. consumers.

At the same time, policymakers lowered their forecast for the benchmark rate from 1.875% to 1.625% at the end of 2016, and from 3.125% to 2.875% in 2017, suggesting they expect a more gradual rise.

The Fed’s estimate of the rate over the long term was unchanged at 3.75%.

NAB’s Ivan Colhoun discusses the outlook for Fed policy with Bloomberg’s Angie Lau on “First Up.”Bloomberg

ANALYSIS: Fed’s no news is good news for markets

The caution partly reflects the bumpy start to the year. The economy shrank in the first quarter, largely because of extreme winter weather and a work slowdown at West Coast ports. Job and income growth, retail sales and the housing market all have gained momentum recently.

But even with solid growth expected in the second half of the year, Fed policymakers said Wednesday they expect the economy to expand by 1.8% to 2% in 2015, down from their March projection of 2.3% to 2.7%. In 2016, the Fed estimates the economy will grow 2.4% to 2.7%, a bit above its previous estimate of 2.3% to 2.7%.

The Fed expects the unemployment rate, now 5.5%, to fall to 5.2% to 5.3% by the end of the year, a bit higher than the 5% to 5.2% projected in March. It estimates the jobless rate will be about 5% at the end of 2016.

The Fed projects its preferred measure of inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, will be little changed at year-end, rising 1.3% to 1.4% on an annual basis. But the pace is expected to pick up to 1.6% to 1.9% in 2016, slightly faster than it previously forecast and a trend that could give policymakers added confidence to hoist rates this year.

At the same time, supporting a measured rate increase are headwinds towho growth. A strong dollar is hammering the exports of U.S. manufacturers and low oil prices have led to a pullback in drilling activity that has dampened steel production and business investment.

Many economists expect those effects to abate in the second half of the year as both the greenback and oil prices stabilize. Still, the drags on growth pose challenges for a Fed that is eager to nudge its benchmark rate toward normal levels of 3.5% to 4%, but is wary of moving too soon and derailing the recovery.

Yellen also has cited lingering vestiges from the Great Recession that argue for lower-than-normal interest rates over the long-term, such as tighter bank credit, more modest business spending and weak new-firm formation.

“Although progress has been achieved, room for further improvement remains,” she said.

April 20, 2015

The Market is HOT!

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 391,680 units in March, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide.  Sales in March were up 6.3 percent from a revised 368,400 in February and up 7.3 percent from a revised 365,120 in March 2014.  The year-over-year sales increase was the first back-to-back sales gain since December 2012 and the largest observed since May 2012. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2015 if sales maintained the March pace throughout the year.  It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

“The housing market is picking up momentum and continuing its upward trend as economic conditions improved throughout the state”, said C.A.R. President Chris Kutzkey. “A better economy, improved job creation, and an increase in inventory in Central Valley and Southern California, in particular, are pushing sales higher, which led to the strongest February-to-March increase we’ve seen since 2008.”

The median price of an existing, single-family detached California home jumped in March from both the previous month and year. The median home price was up 9.2 percent from $428,970 in February to $468,550 in March, the highest level in seven months. The increase was stronger than the long-run February-to-March average of 3.9 percent. March’s median price was 7.2 percent higher than the revised $437,100 recorded in March 2014. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in values.

With home sales growing at a faster rate than active listings in March, the available supply of existing, single-family detached homes for sale statewide declined, with the Unsold Inventory Index falling from the 5 months reported in February to 3.8 months in March.  The index, which indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate, stood at 4 months in March 2014.  A six- to seven-month supply is considered typical in a normal market.

“While housing supply has been improving in real terms in recent months, the growth rate in housing demand continues to outpace that of inventory, pushing the Unsold Inventory Index lower,” said C.A.R Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “The shortage in housing units relative to demand, along with the attractive rate environment, pushed home prices higher.”

Other key facts from C.A.R.’s March 2015 resale housing report include:

  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home also fell in March, down from 47 days in February to 39 days in March but was up from 35.1 days in March 2014.

    • According to C.A.R.’s newest housing market indicator measuring sales-to-list price ratio*, properties are again generally selling below the list price, except in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a lack of homes for sale is pushing sales prices higher than original asking prices.  The statewide measure suggests that homes are selling at a median of 98.3 percent of the list price, essentially flat compared to a ratio of 98.6 percent at the same time last year. The Bay Area is the only region where homes are selling above original list prices due to constrained supply with a ratio of 105.9 percent.

    • The average California price per square foot** for an existing single-family home was $223 in March 2015, an increase of 6.1 percent from the previous month and a 5.6 percent increase from March 2014.  Price per square foot at the state level has been showing an upward trend since early 2012, and has been rising on a year-over-year basis for 38 consecutive months.  In recent months, however, the growth rate in price per square foot has slowed down as home prices level off.  San Francisco County had the highest price per square foot in March at $761/sq. ft., followed by San Mateo ($741/sq. ft.), and Santa Clara ($566/sq. ft.).  The three counties with the lowest price per square foot in March were Siskiyou ($112/sq. ft.), Tehama ($115/sq. ft.), and Madera ($115/sq. ft.).

    • Mortgage rates moved upward in March, with the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 3.77 percent, up from 3.71 percent in February but down from 4.34 percent in March 2014, according to Freddie Mac.  Adjustable-mortgage interest rates also rose in March, averaging 2.46 percent, up from 2.43 percent in February but down from 2.48 percent in March 2014.

Graphics (click links to open):

Note:  The County MLS median price and sales data in the tables are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state, and represent statistics of existing single-family detached homes only.  County sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales.  Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as changes in the cost of a standard home.  The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical than average prices, which are skewed by a relatively small share of transactions at either the lower-end or the upper-end. Median prices can be influenced by changes in cost, as well as changes in the characteristics and the size of homes sold.  Due to the low sales volume in some areas, median price changes in March exhibit unusual fluctuation. The change in median prices should not be construed as actual price changes in specific homes.

*Sales-to-list price ratio is an indicator that reflects the negotiation power of home buyers and home sellers under current market conditions.  The ratio is calculated by dividing the final sales price of a property by its last list price and is expressed as a percentage.  A sales-to-list ratio with 100 percent or above suggests that the property sold for more than the list price, and a ratio below 100 percent indicates that the price sold below the asking price.

**Price per square foot is a measure commonly used by real estate agents and brokers to determine how much a square foot of space a buyer will pay for a property.  It is calculated as the sale price of the home divided by the number of finished square feet.  C.A.R. currently tracks price-per-square foot statistics for 33 counties.

March 7, 2015

The Real Estate Market is Springing Forward

That hasn’t happened this year.

published by KCM March 2015

Demand for housing has remained strong and is currently three times stronger than last year at this time.

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 datessellers listed their homes in 2014 all fell in April, May or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2015, call Patty Lance, 949|933|4742,  to evaluate the opportunities in your market.

November 19, 2014

What does the squeeze on affordability mean to you?

For now, the Fed is not going to touch the Federal Fund Rate. They are looking for specific signs in the overall economy: inflation and unemployment. Inflation has been flat and comfortably below their 2% target. Unemployment, on the other hand, has been steadily and surprisingly dropping and is inching closer to their target. As employment improves, the economy could overheat and the threat of inflation increases. 2014 is looking like the biggest gain in employment in 15 years. If the trend continues, we could see an increase in the Federal Fund Rate sometime next year. It is currently at just about ZERO, so there is only one direction it can go, UP.
The bottom line remains, as the economy improves, interest rates will rise. Eventually, that will occur and locking in on today’s historically low interest rates is an incredibly smart decision for today’s buyer. In five years from now when today’s buyers look back at their purchase in 2014 and 2015, they will see their decision to buy a home as a genius move. Rates will definitely be a lot higher then.
There is a wonderful way to illustrate why purchasing today at the current ultra-low rates is a “genius” move. As interest rates rise, affordability diminishes. The higher the increase, the more it impacts how much a buyer can afford. For example, if a buyer is looking for their mortgage payment to be around $2,000, based upon today’s 4.125% rate, a buyer can afford a $516,000 home with 20% down. At 4.5%, close to where rates were back in January, a buyer would only be able to afford a $494,000 home, or $22,000 less than today. At 5%, it would be $50,000 less. Prior to the downturn, interest rates were at 6.5%, which would be $112,000 less, or a $396,000 home.
The difference is even more staggering in the higher ranges. Buyers looking at a $3,000 per month payment can afford a $774,000 home today versus a $719,000 home if rates increase to only 4.75%. And, buyers looking at a $4,000 month payment can afford a $1,032,000 home today compared to $959,000 with an increase to 4.75%.

Historically speaking, today’s interest rates are astonishingly low. They were at 6.5% prior to the downturn, 8% back in 2000, 10% back in 1999, and staggering 18% in 1981. These levels are not mentioned to scare buyers into purchasing today, because rates are not allowed to skyrocket overnight. Instead, buyers should look at the incredible opportunity that is available today. The smart bet is to pull the trigger now while buyers can afford to purchase more of a home. Buyers who wait until sometime down the road are looking at a highly likely scenario of higher interest rates and a much smaller purchase price.