Spring historically marks a time when real estate activity increases. Activity is already positive. The National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index rose 8 percent over January of 2011 and 2 percent over December. The index is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos and co-ops. NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, says this is a hopeful indicator going into the spring home-buying season. “Job gains, high affordability and rising rents are pushing the market into what appears to be a sustained housing recovery. If and when credit availability conditions return to normal, home sales will likely get a 15 percent boost.”

For homeowners who are underwater due to home values dropping, this is good news. It is also a sign that now is a good time to buy before prices rise.

JUST ASK Q: Is this home really for sale?

A: Not all sellers are motivated to sell. A motivated seller typically works with their agent to make a thorough analysis of local comparable listings as well as sales statistics for the last 12 to 15 months before they set their sales price. An unmotivated seller is often hoping for a qualified buyer who will pay cash and make a quick close. This type of seller is hoping for a buyer who doesn’t care about market research and will pay whatever the asking price is. In really hot markets, the unmotivated seller may just get lucky. But no seller wants to price their home so high it just sits on the market. As sellers, they not only want to price their home right, they’ll want to know what it will take to make it one of the first properties shown in their market niche. This is where a real estate agent’s expertise can help them position their house for high activity and, ultimately, a successful sale.

MY TOWN Spring begins on March 20th this year. That’s the day of the vernal equinox. This is one of two dates (the other occurring the first day of autumn) when the earth’s axis doesn’t tilt either towards or away from the sun, making the day and night each about twelve hours long. The name equinox itself comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). Spring is a favorite season for many people, when the earth comes back to life after a long winter. Outdoor enthusiasts look forward to enjoying nature in warmer weather. It’s one of the best times to get out and garden, or start in on home improvement projects to increase the value and livability of your home. What do you look forward to most this spring? 🙂

When you hear “spring cleaning,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably the clutter in your garage or your home office. But how about cleaning up your computer? Free up disk space and improve its performance by following these tips. Whether you use a PC or a Mac, move those stray files on your desktop into Documents, Photos and Music folders. If you’re a PC user, look at your taskbar at the bottom right corner. It takes time for your computer to find and load all those icons, increasing the time it takes to boot up your computer. Right-click on the icons to close or delete the unnecessary ones. Remove any programs or files you don’t need. Videos especially use up a lot of space. Make sure you empty the Recycle Bin afterward. If you’re a PC user, you’ll need to use the Uninstall utility found in the Control Panel to remove a program. If you’re a PC user, defragment your hard drive (search for this in your computer’s Help). Over time, info is stored in fragments on your hard drive, slowing your computer’s performance. Performing a defrag reorganizes all this information. Macs don’t need this as much as PCs do, but you can find a number of free utilities too that will improve your hard drive’s performance by doing a web search. Use the keywords “mac spring cleaning” in your search. Finally, clear your browser cache. This will make browsing the web faster and clear up hard drive space. This function can be found in different menu locations in different browsers, so it’s best to do a web search for “clear browser cache” followed by “PC” or “Mac” and the type of browser you use (IE, Firefox, Safari, etc…).

Sources: Signature Title Monthly Buzz