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Ten Things You Can Do Now If You Plan On Buying In 2004 The decision of whether to buy a house in 2004 may seem daunting. Will prices increase? Will interest rates rise? How will the economy fare this year? The process may seem overwhelming, especially if you're buying for the first time. But many industry experts say the general outlook appears promising. For starters, price increases overall are expected to slow down a bit -- at least compared to 2003, when the national existing home price rose 9.1 percent to $172,600; the new-home price
Mortgage Rates U.S. averages as of January 29, 2004:30 yr. fixed: 5.68%15 yr. fixed: 4.97%1 yr. adj: 3.59%30 yr. jumbo: 6.98%-->
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rose 3.6 percent to $194,400. The National Association of Realtors predicts existing home prices to rise 4.7 percent this year and new-home prices to go up by 5.1 percent.
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Give Your House A Decorator's Touch When Selling Today's average homebuyers are demanding more than ever in the houses they are buying. Common requests are kids' own rooms, playrooms, hobby rooms, home offices, larger laundry rooms, kitchens with all the bells and whistles, and luxurious master bedrooms. And then there's the obsession with improving and decorating, fueled by a string of TV shows like Trading Spaces and the swelling number of decorating and design magazines. With perfectly decorated rooms sealed with designers' touches increasingly in the back of our minds, would-be buyers could be more impressed when the houses they are viewing look like -- or close to -- the houses they see in magazines and home decorating shows. First one word of caution: Because everyone's tastes are so different, don't do anything extreme. Try to stay mainstream and conservative. Curb Appeal As with any style house, curb appeal -- the first impression -- is crucial. Even if your house is on the small side, if
Changes Prompt Review Of Your Homeowners Insurance If you've recently gotten married or divorced, have improved your kitchen, or made your home safer, then the insurance industry says you should review your homeowners policy. You might be eligible for lower premiums, or you may need to increase your coverage so you're not underinsured. The start of the new year is a good time to reexamine your coverage, according to California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. The state was hit hard by the Southern California firestorms, which devastated some 3,600 homes. The resulting mudslides in the San Bernardino area and the San Simeon earthquake also caused insurance nightmares for many. "Financial trauma can be reduced or even eliminated if we all just take the time to update our homeowners policies ..." he said. As many as one-third of the victims of the Southern California fire victims didn't have homeowners insurance; another one-third was underinsured, The Kansas City Star reported on Dec. 25, 2003. Laman and Carmen Sadler, 73 and 69, had insurance, but not enough to replace the two-bedroom house where they had lived for 27 years. "Our homes, our modes of transportation, our jobs, and our entire lives are constantly changing," Garamendi said. "Our insurance
Tips For Buying Furniture Once you buy a house, chances are you'll soon be buying new furniture. With all the expenses attached to homeownership, coupled with the one-time expenses that come in the first year decorating and furnishing the house, it's important to carefully plan your furniture purchases. "In the first twelve months after purchasing a newly built home, owners spend an average of $8,900 to furnish, decorate and improve their homes -- more than twice the $4,000 spent by non-movers," the National Association of Homebuilders says in its report, "Housing: The Key to Economic Recovery." The report says about 77 percent of it goes toward furnishings and changes to the property. The rest is spent on appliances. Those who buy existing homes spend $3,766 more than non-moving homeowners in the year after they buy a home. The Eastern Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont branch of the
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