THE BUZZAs predicted, spring is proving to be a time of growth for real estate. Pending home sales nationwide are strong this quarter. This follows an upswing from the first quarter of 2011, where resales were up 3% in the South and 2% in the West.

The National Association of Realtors projects an 8% gain in existing home sales for 2011, with an annual total of 5.3 million units based on the following:

  • Housing is more affordable now. The Housing Affordability Index is at an all-time high.
  • The national median home price in March was $159,900. This is essentially a return to 2002 price levels.
  • Jobs are anticipated to rise by 1.8 million in 2011.
  • The stock market has seen a $12 trillion gain in the past two years. This amounts to an increase of about $38,000 net worth per investor.
  • Rental prices are on the rise.

Investors paying cash represented 35% of all existing home transactions in March. Foreigners are also taking advantage of the high valuation of their currency and see the U.S. real estate as a solid investment value.


Q: What’s hot in real estate today?

A: It seems that buyers would rather buy a new or remodeled home than take on a fixer-upper. Brand new homes in established neighborhoods often sell for higher prices. In existing homes, newly remodeled kitchens and family rooms are high on everyone’s wish list.  For the seller, it’s important to have as many updated amenities as possible.

The National Association of Home Builders’ Remodeling Market Index (RMI) rose to 46.5 in Q1 of 2011, compared to 41.5 in Q4 of 2010. This marks the highest level for the RMI since Q4 of 2006. Furthermore, construction of new homes increased by 1.4% in March.


According to the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, summer is a peak time for burglars looking for empty homes. While you’re packing for your vacation, consider these tips to keep your home safe while you’re away.

  • Connect with trusted neighbors. Exchange phone numbers and give them a key. Ask them to keep an eye on your house and pick up flyers, newspapers or mail. If you’re gone for an extended period of time, ask a neighbor to move your car every week or so.
  • Stop all deliveries. Go to the USPS website to put a hold on your mail. Even if you do stop your mail delivery, have someone check your mailbox just in case.
  • Contact your alarm company and let them know the dates you’ll be out of town.  
  • Turn down the volume on your answering machine or have calls forwarded.
  • Trim shrubs and don’t hide a key. Burglars love places where they can hide, and they love finding keys in the usual places, such as under the door mat, rock or planter.

You’ll have a more peaceful and relaxing vacation knowing your home is in good shape while you’re gone. Happy traveling!


This is the last piece in a series of articles on painting your home. 

Take your time with prep – Experts suggest you spend most of your time doing prep-work and not painting. Spend the first day patching cracks, cleaning and scraping walls. Test loose paint – put some duct tape on the wall and pull it away. If flakes come off, you may need to scrape. Put blue masking tape around doors and windows. Remove light plate covers, fixtures and all hardware (knobs, plates, cabinet hinges, etc…).

Skip the paint pan – Professionals don’t use them, why should you? Instead, buy a 5 gallon bucket and a paint grid. You’ll probably never use a paint tray again after trying this method. It’s less messy since the bucket holds an entire gallon of paint so you don’t have to keep refilling. Plus, you can mix, tint or thin your paint right in the bucket.

Put a few dollars into better equipment – Low-stick (blue) masking tape, better quality brushes and rollers (such as those made by Purdy) can make all the difference in the quality of the job. Canvas drops are inexpensive, absorb spills better than sheets or plastic, and are reusable. An extension pole will save you time and effort and give you better control than running up and down that ladder.

Paint in the right order – Always paint in this order: ceiling, walls, trim, cabinets, then doors, always working from top to bottom. If you plan to take a day or more off from painting, you can always just put the brush and roller into the freezer. Thaw for an hour before you return to work.

One final tip – make sure you have adequate ventilation. You want to take care of you as well as your paint job!