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  • Myth No. 1: An appraisal is the same thing as a home inspection

    Although both the appraisal and the home inspection are used as safeguards for the buyer (and the buyer's lender), don't confuse thetwo. Home inspectors and appraisers have completely different jobs. Sure, they both poke around your home. But the inspector's job is to uncovereverything that's problematicor could potentially become problematicwith the home, while the appraiser's job is to find the objective market value of the property. Got that?

    To do thejob, the appraiser will use comps (the same thing you used to determine your list price), but that's just for starters.Appraisers take into account a home's condition, square footage, and location. Appraisers also note the quality and condition of the plumbing, flooring, and electrical system.With data in hand, they make their final assessment and give their report to the lender.

    Myth No. 2: The appraiserworks for the buyer

    The buyer pays for the appraisal, but the appraiser works forand is hired bythe lender. Itdoesn't matter if you and the buyers have agreed on a price. The buyer's lender needs to be on board because it's the lender's investment, too.

    But don't fear: Even though the appraisal is meant to protect the buyer's lender from a bad deal, appraisers aretrained to be unbiased and ethical. In fact, it's a crime to coerce or put any pressure on an appraiser to hit a certain value.

    Myth No. 3: An appraisal will give you the magic number of what the buyer willpay

    The appraisal process isn't an exact science. In fact, the appraisal is only oneopinionof what your home is worth. It doesn't dictate how much the buyer should pay, or how much the seller should accept.

    So what happens if the appraisal doesn't match the contract price?

    If your home is appraised lowerthan the price you and the buyer agreed upon, the lender isn't going to pony up more money to make up the difference. Instead, it'll be up to you and the buyer to figure out who pays for the shortfall. Can the buyer throw inmore? Or do you, as the seller, need to cover the difference just to make the deal go through? Well, let the discussions begin.

    Myth No. 4: The bigger the house, the higher it will appraise

    Consider a supersized home built on an average-size lot in an otherwise modest neighborhood. Although the home might dwarf its neighbors, that doesn't mean it will be appraised for that much more than neighboring homes.

    The value of the home is measured as if it were similar to others in the area that would commonly be expected on that same lot, Buchele says. In fact, some people might consider the bigger home more of a burdenafter all, theres more to be heated, cooled, insured, and maintained.

    Myth No. 5: The more bells and whistles, the higher the appraisal

    Wait a minute: What do you mean your $100,000 investment in fancy appliances isnt worth $100,000 extra in the appraisal? OK, take a step back. This situation can be hard for sellers to wrap their heads around. But if youve overly improved your space with amenities that don't exist in surrounding homes, theres no nearby sales data the appraiser can use to decide just what those amenities are worth.

    And that goes for your dcor, too. You might think your home is worth more because of the impeccable vibe that you or your stagerhave given the house. But appraisers aint got time for decorating divas. They make a straight value judgment on the quantifiable aspects of the housethat is, the square footage, number of rooms, and other measurabledata.

    Myth No. 6:All amenities are created equal

    Ifyou've equipped your home with an in-law suite, a sexy Tiki bar, or a home exercise spacethat actually makes you want to work outwell, we applaud you. But if you converted your garage to do so, don't expect the home appraiser to give you props.

    Your house has a garage for a reason, points out Austin Fernald, a home appraiser in Orange County, CA. Most people want to park their cars where they are safely protected from the elements and break-ins, he says.

    The moral of the story? Be careful any time you remove one amenity in order to add anotherit mightcome back to bite you in the appraisal.

  • Theres no doubt that moving can be a life-draining experience under the best of circumstances. Add in kidsand it most certainly does not qualify as the best of circumstances. In fact, complete chaos can ensue. But dont despair: Here are some tips to minimize the insanity of relocation with little tykes in tow.

    Give Them an Early Heads Up

    Kids are insightful little critters, and even the really young ones have likely gathered that something is up. Rather than letting them fret, give them the low-down on the plan as soon as you know you are moving.

    Set up a special dinner night with pizza or their favorite food and inform your kids of the move, recommends BradPaulyof Pauly Presley Realty in Austin, TX.

    Explaining detailsthat mom has a new job, that the house will have a room just for them, and that the new town has a great parkwill help to allay their concerns. Reassure them that all their familiar items will go with them, and that they will have ample time to say goodbye to friends.

    Let Them Decorate the Boxes

    If you have younger kids, consider doing the majority of packing while they are with a baby sitter or friend, or at night. Not only are they likely more interested in unpacking boxes, but they also might be upset seeing their things go away, even if its only temporarily.

    Older kids can help fill boxes, and then let them unleash their creativity with stickers and markers.

    Allowing them to personalize their box of belongings keeps them busy and also makes it easier for you to identify what goes to their room when you arrive at the new house, Pauly says. Kids will want to set up their new digs as soon as they can.

    Keep Kid Essentials on Hand

    Set aside one box of items you will need ASAP, and take it with you in your own car rather than placing it onthe moving truck. Let your children choose the essentials in their life and place them in this box. For them, it might be a certain teddy bear or toy. No judgments!

    This box is all about what your kid will want on hand. That way if the moving truck ends up late or boxes getlost, your kids know theyve got the things they love most within reach, which curbs the odds of a first-night-in-new-house meltdown.

    Keep Important Family Paperwork Around, Too

    Also keep in your own car a box of any important school-related documents (e.g., birth certificates, medical records, and transcripts) to ensure your kids are prepared for their new school.

    Its easy to misplace papers when moving, so making sure important documents are ready to go will make the move less stressful on the other end, Pauly says.

    Purge While Packingwith consent

    Kids are hoarders by nature, and that can spell trouble when you realize you are paying to movethe bottle cap collection or stuffed animal menagerie.

    However, you want to make sure they have bought into the whole letting go thing; if theyre overly upset, it might be wise to table the purge.

    While you might be tempted to get rid of that broken toy or that shirt that no longerfits, you should keep it unless youre certain your kid is OKparting with it, Pauly warns. Young kids tend to be attached to all their things, and ensuring they see their familiar belongings in their new home will provide comfort.

    Say Farewell Properly

    Closure is tough for everyone, but especially for kids, who may be incredibly anxious about whether theyll find a new BFF or if their new teacher will be as kind as Ms. Jacki.

    Have kids take photos of their room, yard, school, friends, and anything else thats important to them so they can create a memory book of this chapter in their lives, suggests Chace. You also might want to throw a going-away party to allow for proper goodbyes.

    Enjoy the Journey

    If youre moving out of the region (road trip!), make the drive part of the excitement. Show them the route youll be taking, and highlight areas of interest youll see along the way. Try to plan a few fun stops along the way. And dont forget the souvenirs.

    If youre traveling across many states, collect a magnet from each place you visit and display them on your new refrigerator, says Chace.

    Stick to Routines

    Make sure to stick to your schedule throughout the moving process, including naps and rituals like family meals or family game night, says Pauly: Maintaining familiar routines as much as you can is reassuring.

    Finally, remind them that the most familiar thing they are bringing is still with them: their family. Cheesy we know, but deep down, your kidsreally do care.

    Contributions byCathie Ericson

  • If you're thinking of making some home improvements, you will want to understand a concept called ROI. What is ROI? It stands for return on investment how much money you stand to get back on any particular renovation whenever you decide to sell your home.

    Were not saying you shouldn't renovate for other reasons, of courselike the sheer enjoyment you'd get out of new soapstone countertops or the addition of a half bath near your home office. But it turns out that certain upgrades aren't just highly valued by you, but by many other people who might pay a premium for them if you decide to put your house on the market. In other words, a lot of that money you poured into renovations could come right back at cha! Read on to learn exactly how much.

    How to calculate ROI

    A return on investment is calculated using two numbers: the cost of the investment (in this case, a renovation or addition) and the investments gain (how much it will increase your homes selling price).

    Lets say you replace linoleum flooring with beautiful oak. The contractor charges you $2,500 that's the cost of the investment. But when you list your home, your real estate agent says you can increase the selling price by $3,000. Thanks, rad oak floors! That's your investment gain.

    Subtract your costs from your gains to get $500, then divide that number by the original cost. Ta-da! You've got a 16.7% return on investment. Or, another way to look at it is to merely divide the gain by the cost. In the above example, that would be $3,000/$2,500 = 1.2, or 120%. That's the cost you'll recoup from the upgrade; in this case, you've actually made money, which is why that percentage is over 100%.

    Sadly, though, the above example is more fantasy than reality:As much as wed like to think that the money we pour into renovations will come back at us in full when we sell our home, that's rarely the case. According to Remodeling Magazines Cost vs. Value Report, homeowners will recoup an average of only 64% of what they paid for a renovation.

    That said, ROI runs the gamut from great (think the renovation equivalent of Apple stock) to abysmal (Bear Stearns during the subprime meltdown), depending on which reno you do. So, it pays to know which home improvements have the highest ROI, if you hope to make some of that money back down the road.

    Renovations with good (and bad) ROI

    Determiningwith any degree of certainty which projects will result in good ROI mayfeel likegazing into a crystal ball, but there are a fewtried-and-true guidelines.

    Energy-efficient modificationspay off. New fiber glass attic insulation is actually the one renovation that will reap you more cash than you cough up, at 116.9%(not to mention savings on your energy bill!).Buyers lovesafety improvements. Installing a steel entry door recoups 91.1% of its cost, and new garage doors will return about 90%.Less is more. In general, lower-cost projects result in better returns. According to Remodelings Cost vs. Value Report,four of the five projects that cost less than $5,000 rank among the top five for money back when you sell. For instance, the renovation with top returns,attic insulation, costs a mere $1,268.Big isn't better. The five renovations that offer the worst return on investment all cost over $40,000. The addition of a master suite, for instance, will run you $245,474 but only add about$140,448 to your homes sale price, recouping only 57.2% of your costs.Smallkitchen changes can have a big impact, like replacing the hardware (new knobs often cost $2.50 or less). Or go big:82% of homeowners prefer wood floors in their cooking area. A minor kitchen remodel will return about 83% of its cost (and think of all the great meals you'll make).Skip the majorbathroom remodel, which only earns back 65.7% of the cost, to focus on smaller projects. For a few hundred bucks, a modern sink will make the entire place look sleek. And ever-popular subway tiles only cost about 21 cents each.Curb appealcan add 28%to your homes value. A tree sapling costs $10 and can add up to $10,000 to the value of your home. But skip the swimming pool, which recoups only 39% of its cost.

    Want more info? Contact Jonathan Hawkins today at (714) 625-5287 orjhawkins@amaviproperties.com

    Contributions by:By Jamie Wiebe via www.Realtor.com

  • Gazing into a crystal ball requires a leap of faith, but if youre willing to take a look, you might find a few insightful nuggets that could help you make more informed decisions. Achange in course for the housing market as it continues to reflect the nations economic recovery is expected.

    1. Cities will get cozier

    Smaller homes will crowd each other in new, denser developments, and they will be closer to public transit and urban centers. Knowing that square footage is off the table, the focus will be more on finding homes with upscale features or green technology.

    2. Millennials will move out of the nest

    In 2017, millennials will continue to drive up the homeownership rate by finally buying homes of their own. As millennials are the most racially diverse cohort, it also means more people of color will become homeowners.

    3. New construction buyers will pony up

    Labor shortages in the construction industry have resulted in rising construction wages, which will be passed on to buyers who choose new construction homes. It's vital thatbuyers know they can negotiate for upgrade credits or floor plan options to recoup some value when they choose a new construction home.

    4. Commuters will get comfortable

    In their cars, that is. As homeowners move deeper into the suburbs and farther away from viable public transportation in search of affordable housing, the percentage of people who drive to work will increase.

    5. Current homeowners will continue to prosper

    National home values rose 4.8 percent between December 2015 and 2016, and the trend is likely to continue past the New Years celebrations. In 2017, estimatedhome values will grow 3.6 percent.

    Is now the time to buy, sell or invest? Contact Jonathan Hawkins today at (714) 625-5287.

  • If you or someone you know is looking to buy, sell or refinance their home, NOW is the perfect time!WHY? Interest rates have risen .25-.5 percent (depending on your loan type). According to my mortgage professionals, a 30 year fixed $415k loan just raised for one of his clients from 3.5 to 3.89 overnight.WHAT'S WORSE? According to Bankrate.com, rates are continuing on a steady rise. Although it may not seem like much, the price difference in that example above had a monthly payment increased of $74. If that played out for the entire 30 years, that's a total of $26,640 just from that small raise. Imagine a full percent rise?!With housing prices expected to rise nearly 8% by this time next year, it is a great time to buy to lock in a great rate before rates go higher and prices go higher.It's a great time to refinance and lock in the lower rate on your home.It's a great time to sell because you have more qualified buyers that can purchase. As rates increase, the amount of qualified buyers will decrease.Call, text or email me ASAP to discuss further and put your plans into action. Send a friend, family or co-worker my way and I'll be sure to provide the same quality service they deserve and will repay the favor.Have a blessed day!
  • SEAL BEACH, CA Residents of Seal Beach are far too familiar with the parking problems that come with living in their fair city.

    The Seal Beach Police Department recently released a statement that all of the current permits are extended through October 31, 2016. After that, the permits will expire.

    "From this point forward, permits will expire on October 31 of each year, which allows renewals to occur annually in October," the Seal Beach Police Department stated in release.

    Parking permit renewal information will be distributed to permit holders in early October regarding the renewal process and the issuance of permits.

    "If you are a resident and do not currently have a permit please obtain the needed permits at the Finance Department," they said. "Visit the city website before coming to City Hall to purchase your parking permit for updated information."

    A valid driver's license, current automobile registration and proof of residency such as utility bill or parking permit is required.

    "Thank you for your patience while new procedures and processes are implemented to ensure the process is easier and more expeditious for residents and merchants," they said.

    Visit: www.SealBeachca.gov for further information.

  • 1. Build in time and money before staging

    Typically, agents work with a network of staging companies. You can pick two or three, conduct brief walk-through meetings with them at your place, and solicit bids. This process can take upward of two weeks, so it pays to get a jump on the consults well before you intend to list.

    If youre going to use a staging company, make sure you have the cash on hand. In San Diego, partly staging our two-bedroom homeran us a cool $3,000, which was due immediately upon signing the contract. On the plus side, staging usually pays for itself (and then some) once the house sells, experts say.

    2. Clear your closets and bedrooms by at least 50%

    Whitney Parrott, lead designer at Everything Creative Designs, suggests declutteringfor her clients who choose to stay (at least part of the time) in a staged or listed home. You want your place to look inviting, but not necessarily lived-in.

    Takeyouout of the home, she says. Remove your emotional attachment and look at the home as a product youre selling, which I realize is easier said than done.

    This means reducing the stuffin closets and bedrooms by half. This is a good time to get rid of things you dont use; you can put the rest into storage.

    3. Secure storage space

    Even if you arent going to have your home professionally staged, youll likely need a storage unit for your excess belongings. Get a slightly larger unit than you think youll need. In an attempt to save a buck, we chose a smallish unit that ended up barely fitting our stuff. Now, as we approach close of escrow with no new home in sight, wellneedto rent a second unit for the remainder of our day-to-day items.

    4. Hire movers to put your stuff in storage

    Trust me on this oneyou do not want to be moving your stuff into a storage unit yourself or with your partner or spouse. Save the headache, and hire professionals to maximizeyour storage spacewith their professional packing hacks.

    5. Find a place to crash

    I was adamant that we minimize the time spent in our staged house, mostly because I was afraid of the havoc my toddler, infant, and highly inconsiderate pooches would wreak on the rented furniture.

    Sowith our tails tucked and pride wounded, we turned to my husbands parentswho fortunately live a mere 10 minutes from us.

    Clearly, living (rent-free) with family is the best choice if you can swing it. But if you dont have that option, consider some others. For example, my neighbor lived at a Hampton Inn for five weeks while between houses. (I was both horrified and intrigued.)

    This can obviously become expensive rather quickly, so consider extended-stay hotels, which offer longer-term suites at a lower weekly price than their average daily rate. Some apartment communities also allow short-term or month-to-month rentals of furnished executive units. And theres always the VRBO/Airbnb option.

    At the end of the day, the key is to either get out or make it look like youdid.

    6. or get insanely organizedand stay that way

    If you must stay in your home while its up for sale, heed these expert-approved tips that willhelp you (and your Realtor) stay sane.

    Create a cleaning schedule, and stick to it. If you can afford it, invest in a weekly cleaning service. Before each showing, vacuum the floors, dust all furniture, and wipe down all kitchen and bath surfaces.In the kitchen, keep countertops clear. Stash paper towels, sponges, and dish soap under the sink when theyre not in use. Make a habit of placing dirty dishes immediately in the dishwasher, and keep most appliances off the countertops.Buyers will open cabinets. Be sure your glasses, plates, pots, and pans are well-organized and stacked neatly.If you do a lot of cooking, use natural air freshening methods like boiling lemon slices or cinnamon on the stove to neutralize odors.Use totes or bins to keep daily bathroom items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap out of sight.Immediately sort mail when it arrives at your house, and dispose of anything that isnt vitally necessary.Stash a few of your kidsfavorite toys in a large decorative bin or tote in a corner of the room or hall closet, and clear the rest away.Put your iPhone cords and enormous charging block in a drawer out of view.Avoid the lockbox, especially if you have pets or children. Ask your agent to schedule showings in large blocks of time a few afternoons a week to ensure you can get everyone out of the house.If you have a 9-to-5 office job and pets, consider boarding the pets on weekdays when showings might occur.

    Source: Realtor.com by Holly Amaya

  • With a successful and multiyear career serving as a military officer in the Army, Jonathan Hawkins knows a thing or two about servicing his clients and earning respect in the real estate industry. He now devotes his time and efforts to helping his clients find the perfect home somewhere along the Orange County coastline.

    Hawkins real estate journey began when he applied for an internship while attending UCLA, a process that was unique and confidential.

    It was a blind interview I didnt know who or what company I was interviewing for until I was there. Hawkins recalls of the experience.

    Fortunately for Hawkins, he was placed in the hands of world renowned Coldwell Banker REALTOR Joyce Rey the executive director of the luxury brand, Previews International. He remarks that Reys phenomenal approach to marketing, client interactions and servicing her clients were three qualities Hawkins admired. In fact, he ended up carrying those three qualities into his own business, building the foundation of his motto, Service, Integrity, Success.

    With a degree in international relations from UCLA and his military intelligence background, Hawkins is confident he has all the skills and the upper hand during negotiations in the industry. Along with his military service experiences lending a unique perspective, he also has vast knowledge and experience in management, public relations, residential lending and mortgage servicing.

    Its not just his skill set that differentiates him from other agents. Hawkins explains that hes just a normal person, and his priority not just within real estate is helping others. He describes his life as a new father to a 6-month-old, as family-oriented. He loves taking trips to Disneyland and traveling. An Orange County native, he elaborates on his love for the beach life. He now resides in the Huntington Beach area where he describes his oceanfront office as the Surf City USA lifestyle.

    Im the shorts, sandals and beach kind of guy, Hawkins says.

    Influences and Moving ForwardIn 2013, he received the Presidential Call to Service Award from President Barack Obama for the countless hours he devoted to volunteer organizations, which included Wounded Warrior Project, American Red Cross and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

    Hawkins credits his grandfather for being the driving force in his life. He explains that his grandfather had a way to push him outside of his comfort zone and to achieve the insurmountable success he has reached today.

    At 19, I was the youngest commissioned Army officer, Hawkins explains. He always pushed me to work harder and never give up.

    In the real estate realm, Hawkins quickly credits his clients. Finding the perfect house and locking in that purchase is one of the greatest rewards to him. When asked how he knows hes found the right home for his clients, Hawkins shares that though its clich he can confirm its the right fit by their reaction when they first step foot on the property.

    I love the unknown because I think a lot of people dont realize that the majority of what you learn in real estate school hardly ever applies to the ever-changing transactions, Hawkins says.

    One of the more difficult parts of the job is dealing with extremely emotional clients who are in stressful situations, such as divorce, loss of a loved one, bankruptcy and foreclosure. While it can be difficult at times and for REALTORS not accustomed to those types of situations or clients, it remains a great source of satisfaction when Hawkins can provide solutions for his home-seeking and home-selling clients.

    He also acknowledges and advises other real estate agents, especially those in the Orange County beach areas where prices for houses average about a million dollars, to remember that even when a million dollars isnt an issue for a buyer, its still a large sum of money and a significant investment.

    Moving forward, Hawkins has two goals in mind continue growing in the luxury division and expanding his clientele in distressed situations. He explains that the emotions run 10 times higher than other situations, but it is a task most REALTORS stray from, which makes it a sector of the industry in demand. Working with those types of situations and clients allows him to build a stronger luxury division reputation as well, such that his luxury clientele can see his demonstrated calm and confident demeanor when it comes to high-stress situations.

    He is the principal for The Hawkins Group of Coldwell Banker and proudly serves Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Newport Coast and Corona del Mar among many other cities, both in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

    For those interested in pursuing a career in real estate, Hawkins offers two pieces of advice that intertwine.

    It is next to, if not impossible to work another job, Hawkins begins. This is not your typical nine to five job and I recommend that you invest in it as a full-time agent because the best way youre going to make strides forward is to put the client first. Putting the client first relies heavily on responsiveness to their demands. If youre not available to show a property at a phone calls notice, they will not hesitate to move forward with another agent. Its important to put the client first and the only way to do that is to be a full-time agent.

    Hawkins is truly redefining relationships one client at a time. He is the epitome of a servant leader and does not hesitate to lend a helping hand. His past clients speak to the level of confidentiality, professionalism and humor that he is able to bring with him no matter the situation. With compassion and integrity, Jonathan Hawkins is truly paving the way for others and is always in search of the next client to demonstrate his Service, Integrity, Success.

  • Inflatable, portable PhotonGrill cooks your food with nothing but the sun

    The barbecue of the future is here. Meet PhotonGrill, an inflatable 100 percent solar-powered grill that lets you ditch the charcoal for greener cooking. Perfect for camping and areas with fire bans, the lightweight, fire-free and fuel-free PhotonGrill is designed for portability and easily folds down to fit in a backpack. The best part? Its NASA-inspired technology is so efficient the grill reaches 500F in just five minutes.

    Recently launched on Kickstarter, the PhotonGrill is available at a discount for early bird backers and comes with a lightweight carrying case, solar-optimized pan, BBQ tongs, and an air pump. The portable and durable grill weighs only seven pounds and can easily be set up in just three minutes. A pot can also be attached for cooking. An optional add-on module will transform the PhotonGrill into a highly efficient power generator so you can charge your electronics with sun-powered electricity wherever you go.

    Heres how the PhotonGrill works: once fully inflated, the grill, made of lightweight plastic film, takes on the form of a reflective parabolic mirror that concentrates the energy contained in the rays of light into a small area, creating highly-localized energy thats powerful enough to cook with. The design team says the technology was based on experiments carried out by NASA in the 1960s

    By using heat to thermally deform the plastics polymers structure, the plastic is able to remember and transform into the desired parabolic shape when inflated, says the PhotonGrill team, who also claim the grill has 1,000 watts of power. Set atop a stable tripod, the parabolic mirror is made with highly robust polymer foils tested to ensure they can withstand all contingencies, even a large splash of boiling grease. PhotonGrill is looking to raise $111,964 on Kickstarter to bring the solar-powered grill to production.

    Courtesy of California Association of REALTORS. Click Here for Original article.

  • Americans Think Homeownership is a Sound Investment

    Media Contact: Jane Dollinger / 202-383-1042 / Email

    WASHINGTON (October 14, 2015) A vast majority of Americans believe that buying a home is a solid financial decision, and most believe they could sell their home for at least its initial purchase price, according to a new survey from the National Association of Realtors. The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey also found that a preponderance of Americans think that now is a good time to buy a home.

    The survey, which measures consumers' attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas, found that more than eight in 10 Americans believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision, and 68 percent believe that now is a good time to buy a home. Seventy-one percent believe they could sell their house for what they paid for it, a jump of 16 percentage points from 2013.

    When asked for reasons about why homeownership matters to them, respondents answers did not change significantly from past years. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top three reasons to own a home.

    "Homeownership is part of the American Dream, and this survey proves that dream is alive and thriving in our communities," said NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. "Realtors believe that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream in a safe, responsible way, which is why NAR advocates homeownership issues and educating potential buyers about achieving their property investment goals."

    The number of renters who are now thinking about purchasing a home has increased since the last survey in 2013, up from 36 percent to 39 percent. Sixty-one percent of renters stated that owning a home is a priority for their future. According to the survey, 80 percent of respondents believe that pre-purchase counseling programs and classes are very or somewhat important. Forty-five percent of homeowners who said they did not take a counseling program, reported they would have taken part in one had it been easily available to them.

    Attitudes about the housing market have improved in recent years. Forty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they feel activity in the housing market has increased in the past year, compared to 44 percent in 2013 and 12 percent in 2011. Eighty-nine percent expect home sales in their area to either increase or remain the same. Concern about foreclosures has also declined, with only 15 percent of respondents indicating that foreclosure is a major concern.

    In addition to improved attitudes about the housing market, survey participants also showed an improved outlook regarding the economy. Only 36 percent think that job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, a substantial drop from 45 percent in 2013.

    Perceived obstacles to homeownership have remained mostly unchanged compared to recent years; 78 percent of respondents point to college debt and student loans as the main obstacle to making a home purchase affordable. Seventy-six percent of participants said they have a full-time job but still did not make enough money to purchase a home. Seventy-four percent believe they do not have enough money for a down payment and closing costs.

    As the market has improved, concern about the cost of housing has increased. Two-thirds of survey participants said that home prices are more expensive than they were a year ago. There is additional concern over the lack of available housing; 41 percent said the lack of affordable homes is either a very big or fairly big problem in their area, an increase of 9 percent points from 2013.

    For adult millennials under the age of 35, the burden of student debt is their chief concern, with 86 percent of respondents naming college debt as an obstacle to homeownership. Over half reported that their housing costs are a financial strain on their budget, 65 percent are concerned about high rental prices, and 60 percent are concerned about high home prices. However, millennials tend to have a more upbeat and positive view about the future of the nation than older Americans, with 42 percent of millennials saying that the country is headed in the right direction compared to only 20 percent among those aged 50 and older.

    The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NARs Housing Opportunity Program. The telephone survey polled 1,000 adults nationwide in the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. An additional 250 interviews were conducted with millennial adults (born after 1981) from the same geography. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

    The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

    Courtesy National Association of Realtors. Click Here for Original Article.