Vero Beach home improvements can cost tens of thousands of dollars – but they don't have to. Landscaping upgrades are among the most popular improvement projects because of their relatively inexpensive price tag. In addition, a landscaping facelift can dramatically transform the way a home appears, often adding value by recouping the investment made. Whether your goal is to improve your home’s curb appeal, grow a colorful flower garden or create a relaxing backyard wonderland, by following these simple tips you can save money with Vero Beach home improvements to your home’s surroundings.
Vero Beach Home Improvements: Decks
If you have a wooden deck that needs to be brought back to life, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Take time to carefully inspect the structure and foundation of the deck. Pay close attention to the load-bearing posts, the stair stringers and ground-level support joists. Check to make sure bolts and screws are tight and secure. If you see any boards that are showing signs of deterioration, replace them now – they will only get worse. Also, be sure to tap down any nail heads that have popped up on the good boards.
The next step is to swab the deck, matey! You’ll be surprised at what a thorough cleaning can do for the appearance of a tired or worn-looking deck. So, after you’ve made any repairs, scrub down the deck with the following mixture: Mix a quart of regular household bleach and 1/3 cup of your favorite powdered laundry detergent into three quarts of warm water. Use whatever scrubbing method or material is best for you, but experts recommend a stiff-bristled, long handled brush – or an old broom you’re planning to throw away. Once you’ve given it a good scrubbing, hose down your deck and take a look at your revived surface. If you choose to finish the deck, a semitransparent stain is a popular choice for the protection and enhancement of old wooden decks.
Vero Beach Home Improvements: Fences
Fencing is a favorite item on homeowners’ lists of Vero Beach home improvements. A good, sturdy fence is important for giving you privacy and for keeping children and pets safe and secure. The downside of good fencing? It can be expensive. Fencing materials alone can cost upwards of $14 per linear foot for select grade picket fence board. In addition, because properly installing a fence requires the right tools and some expertise, it’s usually not a recommended do-it-yourself project for the average homeowner. However, if you’re considering replacing an old fence with something newer, homeowners can save a good deal of money in doing the tear-down and removal themselves. All that’s usually required for that stage of the Vero Beach home improvements project is a sledgehammer, a crowbar, a hammer or two and a truck to haul off the old fence – plus a generous helping of “elbow grease!”
The pricing of new fencing is usually based on the materials you select. Decide what best suits your needs and meets your budget. Homeowners often find a less expensive fence provides the same results as a top-of-the-line model that can throw your budget for a loop. Lastly, before you start swinging that sledgehammer, take another look at your fence. If it’s still sturdy and solid, but just needs a new look, try a fresh coat of paint. You may be surprised at the results, and you’ll save money, too.
Vero Beach Home Improvements: Landscaping
Let’s be honest. You can spend a small fortune on sod, plants and flowers – but you don’t necessarily need to. While greenery and flowers are important parts of your Vero Beach home improvements landscaping makeover, you can save money and still get what you want. The best time to buy trees, shrubbery and plants – including mulch and garden accessories – is late in the growing season. Visit the big-box stores where the prices are lower because they buy in bulk. Be careful, however, to inspect their plants and flowers carefully. They likely don’t receive the care and treatment they would at a professional nursery and garden center.
Experts suggest you buy perennials, since as the name implies, they reappear every year. You can also get some plants for free, by organizing a neighborhood garden swap or by sharing cuttings from neighbors’ yards. All you have to do is snip from the areas of new growth, pot the cuttings and water them sufficiently.
Vero Beach Home Improvements: Patios
Patios are popular, and keeping them updated shouldn't cost a great deal. If it’s time for a patio makeover, follow these tips from the experts. Inspect the concrete floor. As long as the structure and foundation is sturdy and sound, a worn appearance can usually be spruced up with concrete paint. Specially made paint for concrete floors comes in a variety of colors and, with a little creativity and ingenuity, you can make your patio as unique as you want.
If you’re considering starting a patio from scratch, consider this: Devote a portion of your yard to pavers. They’re easy to work with, easy to take care of and fairly inexpensive. Professional installation of pavers can cost as little as $5 per square foot in some areas of the country.
The final step is to update the furnishings on your existing or new patio. You can save money by looking for deals on various websites like DealCatcher, or by going to eBay or Craigslist. Garage and yard sales may also offer great bargains on gently used, pre-owned furniture that’s perfect for your patio. If you currently have patio furniture, but need to give it a little TLC, you can sand the metal frames and give it them fresh coat of spray paint. Adding new weather-resistant seat cushions and a medium-to-high-quality patio umbrella is also a nice touch.
Vero Beach Home Improvements: Gardens
Creativity is your friend when it comes to creating and cultivating a garden gallery as one of your Vero Beach home improvements. Dishes from a dollar store or containers and canisters from a flea market or yard sale can be used as unique flowerpots. Plus, before you go out and buy something new, take stock in what you have that can be reused or recycled for a different purpose. An old chest of drawers or dresser can be used as a potting station for all your garden implements and tools. In addition, an unused dining cart can be transformed into a mobile grill accessory. Be careful, however, not to overdo it. The last thing you want is for your facelift to look junky. That will defeat the whole purpose of your improvement project.
By using your mind’s eye to envision the transformation of the outside of your home, you can find interesting and useful ways to use your imagination without spending a lot of money to make these and other Vero Beach home improvements.
You can find more articles pertaining to home improvements in the Vero Beach Home Improvements section of our site below Vero Beach Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. We also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook and would love for you to follow us there as well.
The Vero Beach real estate market, like most housing markets throughout the U.S., presents a challenge for that segment of the population commonly referred to as “Millennials.” Millennials are generally identified as men and women between the ages of 25-34. Let’s look at the ongoing dilemma many Millennials face in today’s complex real estate environment.
Vero Beach Real Estate: Where Do Millennials Fit?
It wasn’t long ago that home ownership was a goal every red-blooded, hard-working American citizen aspired to achieve. Parents scrimped and saved to provide their children with at least a portion of the down payment needed to buy their first home. Home ownership was viewed as an expectation by some, and a mark of success by others. Being able – or willing – to buy a home was somewhat of a rite of passage, after all, who wants to “throw money away” on rent each month?
Today, more than a few things have changed – no doubt as a result of what a large segment of Millennials have personally experienced – shaping their thoughts, opinions and goals. During the housing crisis of less than a decade ago, millions of Millennials witnessed firsthand the effects foreclosure can have on a family. Even if they weren’t directly affected by rampant foreclosures, they surely know friends or relatives who were. It’s perfectly understandable that for many, the scars associated with the financial battles they and their families faced were both real and memorable.
Couple the housing crash with a recessionary economy and a job market that consistently failed to meet their growing expectations and it’s no wonder many Millennials who probably could be buying homes have opted not to for now.
Vero Beach Real Estate: Statistics
Generation Progress, a national progressive advocacy and action network for young people, recently cited data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They expressed an optimistic outlook of the current Millennial labor participation market. Generation Progress said for older Millennials – between the ages of 25-34 – the participation in the U.S. labor force is much higher than the national average. While many Millennials are working again and presumably earning more, the possibility of buying a home is a reality within reach. The question that remains, however, is will they buy?
For many of these potential first-time purchasers, the home buying process is rather daunting. They are finding that a home they can afford now may not fill the bill for their “forever home.” Even though the cozy little two-bedroom starter home is affordable and larger than their one-bedroom apartment, Millennials are pausing to ask themselves, “What happens when we want more room, start a family, or want to move to a nicer neighborhood?” When you’re young, the chances of outgrowing your first home are pretty good. Thus, the Millennial dilemma continues. Should they buy a home they can afford now knowing they will want to move sooner than later, or keep saving for a down payment on a larger home?
Consider this statistic, courtesy of the National Association of Realtors: “… for the last three years, Generation Y/Millennials (buyers 18 to 35) is the largest share of home buyers at 35%.” So, the good news is a number of Millennials have entered the Vero Beach real estate market and have purchased homes. Let’s take a quick look at the positives and negatives that Millennials still wrestle with.
Vero Beach Real Estate: Positives
Nationwide, home prices are expected to continue to rise through the rest of the year. In addition, mortgage interest rates are still very low – despite rumblings from the Federal Reserve that they won’t stay low. Simply put, it’s a good time to buy a home. The most important thing to consider is compared to next year, today’s Vero Beach real estate market may look like a bargain.
Vero Beach Real Estate: Negatives
While many Millennials may have saved enough money for a sufficient down payment, some may not realize that’s only the beginning of their cash needs. In order to close a home sale they’ll need closing costs, property taxes, homeowners insurance, maintenance, utilities and more. In addition, if they plan to do any remodeling, even painting or re-carpeting, they’ll need additional money.
Experts say maintenance and repairs usually run home owners 1% – 2% of their mortgage costs annually. So, conservatively, if your mortgage is $150,000 that 1% would cost you roughly $1,500 per year, or $125 per month. Another point to consider: If you move to the suburbs and have formerly been a one-car family, you may now need two cars. Statistics show most Americans spend nearly half of their household income on housing and transportation.
Millennials, like most first-time home buyers will eventually learn their best option may be to buy something now they can get into relatively inexpensively while interest rates are low and prices haven't gone any higher. Then, as the newly-acquired property appreciates they can sell and move up to a larger home – hopefully enjoying the profits of their investment. With soaring rents nationwide, that may be more appealing than continuing to pay rent.
You can find more articles pertaining to real estate news in the Vero Beach Real Estate News section of our site below Vero Beach Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.
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The Vero Beach mortgage market remembers – as do we all – the U.S. housing crash of less than a decade ago. One of the hallmarks of the crash was mortgage lenders who required little or no supporting documentation. When the housing market was booming, they were called “stated income” loans and were advertised as “low-doc” or “no-doc” loans. After the dust settled and the ashes cooled, they were named “liar loans.” That time in American financial history was notable because it represented a reckless, irresponsible precedent that none of us hope repeats itself. Lenders and borrowers alike could essentially put anything they so desired on the mortgage lending application to close the deal. Now, one bank is offering a loan product that brings back memories — most of them bad.
Vero Beach Mortgage Market – What’s up with Docs?
An FDIC-insured community bank in New York City has recently unveiled a new loan program known as “Lite Doc.” The program requires verification of the borrower’s employment and two months of bank statements. For borrowers that are self-employed, the bank requires documentation of just one year of the P&L, profit and loss statement. By comparison, most mortgage loan applications currently require two years of Form 1040 income tax statements, two years of employment W-2s and a minimum of four pay stubs. In addition, they require bank statements and credit reports.
The Lite Doc loans, offered by New York based Quontic Bank with offices in New York City and Miami, are not required to comply with the stringent new “ATR” rules, or “ability to repay” requirements established in the aftermath of the housing crash as part of the Dodd-Frank legislation. Why? Because of a new loophole that allows the bank an “out.” Quontic Bank has been designated as a community development financial institution, or CDFI, by a U.S. Treasury program designed to provide funds to revitalize low-income communities.
According to the Treasury website, “The fund,” established in 1994, “serves mission-driven financial institutions that take a market-based approach to supporting economically disadvantaged communities." Quontic qualifies since it makes loans to borrowers in a low-income community, Queens, New York. In addition, CDFI lenders enjoy exemption from compliance with the “ability to repay” rules.
To be fair, the “Lite Doc” loans aren’t exactly the “low-doc” loans of the early 2000s. Lite Docs require a 40% down payment and a minimum FICO credit score of 700. In addition, the borrowers must be able to substantiate that they have a minimum of 12 months of principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) in the bank at the time of loan closing. Lastly, Lite Doc loans are only made for the purchase of owner-occupied primary residences.
A Quontic spokesperson said a large number of the bank’s customers are immigrants comprised of half-dozen or more family members who pool their money to meet the required down payment. They don’t have the normal or traditional income documentation available to them that other borrowers may have, because many are paid in tips and bonuses.
While Quontic Bank is able to make Lite Doc loans to anybody in any city in America, so far they have chosen not to do so. The Quontic program is only a few months old and the bank has made just seven Lite Doc loans to customers in New York and Miami. There are others in various stages of processing, the spokesperson says.
An attorney who specializes in consumer financial services issues had this to say about the CDFI banks. "The CDFIs get this privileged status because their sole purpose is to help consumers. They don't have a traditional profit motive. The concern about steering borrowers into inappropriate loans isn't there.”
However, the attorney admits, while the Lite Doc product may not be a “prudent loan,” it is not an illegal loan. And if there’s no strict verification of income, there’s always the possibility that borrowers will falsify or overstate it.
Banking insiders contend lending programs like Lite Doc can be successful, but only if the underwriting guidelines are adhered to and aren’t relaxed. In addition, they warn, the lending documentation that is gathered needs to be accurate because federal regulators will examine the loans on a regular basis.
So what, if anything, does this new product mean to the Vero Beach mortgage market? Maybe nothing… but it’s worth keeping an eye on. In the last decade the mortgage lending business has implemented stricter underwriting rules – frankly, because of the billions of dollars in legal settlements they were ordered to pay as a result of their reckless lending practices.
While some in the Vero Beach mortgage market will argue that credit restrictions have been overcorrected in an effort not to repeat the financial sins of the past, others feel lending standards should be more relaxed. No doubt a happy medium is required to further stimulate home ownership, which is at an all-time low. However, we've seen the results of families borrowing more than they can afford to repay. Millions of Americans endured the pain of foreclosure brought on, in part, by irresponsible lending practices in combination with a recessionary economy. Here's hoping the Vero Beach mortgage market will never experience those misfortunes again.
You can find more articles pertaining to Vero Beach mortgage market in the Mortgage Info section of our site below Vero Beach Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.
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The Vero Beach economy grew only slightly less than expected during the first quarter of 2016. This was due, in part, to a surge in home-building and a slow but steady increase in inventory investment by businesses. The U.S. Commerce Department had projected the gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at a rate of .9%. In actuality, the GDP grew slightly less than that, at .8%.
Vero Beach Economy: What to Expect
The rise in GDP of .8% was higher than the .5% pace reported last month, the Commerce Department reported. It was at the weakest level since the first quarter of last year. The upward revision to the GDP growth estimates the result of improved trading than was previously anticipated. In addition, government reports included a slight rebound in post-tax corporate profits. Profits increased at a rate of .6% in the first quarter after suffering an 8.4% decline during the fourth quarter of 2015.
Looking at the income side of the equation, the U.S. economy grew at a 2.2% pace following an increase of 1.9% during the fourth quarter of 2015.
The Vero Beach economy – as is the case throughout the U.S. – has been damaged by a relatively strong dollar and stagnant-to-sluggish demand in global markets. That slowed demand has resulted in eroding growth in exports. The economy has also been hurt by lower oil prices, undercutting profits for major oil companies and causing them to curtail or suspend equipment spending.
Economists argue the government’s model to selectively dissect seasonal patterns from reporting data isn’t working. Government agencies including the Commerce Department spent considerable time in the past year trying to address the reporting problems.
First-quarter GDP data has suffered due to the residual seasonality inherent in the reports, with growth underperforming in five of the last six years. There are some signs that the economy gained traction in the second quarter in retail sales, industrial production, the export of goods, housing starts, and home sales increases in April.
While the Atlanta Federal Reserve is currently forecasting a second-quarter increase in the GDP of 2.9%, the continuing higher than expected inventory levels presents a risk to their estimate. In a recent poll of U.S. economists by Reuters, most had anticipated the first-quarter growth in GDP would be revised upward to .9%. The U.S. economy grew at a 1.4% rate during the fourth quarter of 2015.
Spending on residential construction in the Vero Beach economy increased 17.1% in the first quarter – representing the fastest growth rate in just over three years. The increase was previously reported to be 14.8%. Nationwide, businesses amassed over $69 billion worth of inventory, up from the $60.9 billion estimated a month ago. Inventory was reduced slightly by .2% from the first-quarter GDP growth projections of .33%.
Consumer spending levels, which account for over 66% of the activity in the U.S. economy, were not revised. Spending increased at a rate of nearly 2%, slightly lower than the fourth quarter’s 2.4% pace.
U. S. households were apparently more frugal in the first quarter. There was a noticeable cutback on the purchase of long-lasting manufactured goods like automobiles and home appliances. Disposable household income after taxes and inflation was revised upward to reflect a 4% growth rate during the first quarter compared to the previously reported 2.9%.
Savings in accounts were revised upward to nearly $783 billion from $712 billion. While exports were initially anticipated to be weak, first quarter results showed improvement, resulting in a smaller trade deficit.
Economists expect cheap gas and lower airfares will result in a spike in summer travel and an overall slight increase in the U.S. economy.
While building permits issued remain relatively high, the actual number of home starts concern some analysts insight of what has already been termed a "low inventory home market."
Furthermore, many U.S. economists are concerned that the Federal Reserve, in an effort to cling to the misguided belief that full employment causes inflation, will raise interest rates at their next meeting. Defining "full employment" as a maximum unemployment rate of 5-6%, the Fed is exhibiting signs leading to "stagflation" – the condition that largely plagued the U.S. economy during much of the 1970s and early 1980s. Stagflation was defined as rising inflation doubled with a high unemployment rate and low-to-negative economic growth.
Economists fear the Fed doesn't fully understand that full employment and stable prices can co-exist. They argue that having more workers producing goods and services will never, on its own, contribute dramatically to an economy of soaring prices. The recent pace of hiring was the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2015. In addition, job creation has churned to a sluggish average of 200,000 net new jobs created for the past three months. Most concerning is the fact that this slowdown comes on the heels of a five-year high of 282,000 jobs per month during the fourth quarter of 2015.
It remains to be seen what the Federal Reserve will or won't do and how their decision will affect the Vero Beach economy. In the meantime, there are bright spots that can hopefully be expanded. As is usually the case, an election year may have anticipated changes and consequences.
Read more articles pertaining to the Vero Beach economy in the section of articles on the Vero Beach Economy just below Vero Beach Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. And remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out there, too.