• Spiff up the front entry. One way to stay on top of your home's maintenance and protect your investment is to look at it as though you're a stranger considering it for purchase. Perform repairs as the need arises and try each year to add a little to the home's attractiveness on the outside. One good way to boost curb appeal, as real-estate agents call it, is to make the entrance more appealing. Once the weather is dry, check steps, decks and porches for wood rot and peeling paint. Repaint porch steps and railings yearly with durable deck paint. Wash winter grime and dust off the front door and door frame. Repaint or stain the front door to protect wood doors and give the whole home a little face lift. Consider using a fun accent color such as barn red, black, hunter green, navy blue or gold, depending on the other colors on your home's exterior. You may want to add built-in planters to a deck or front porch and change the plants with the season.
When the housing bubble burst, a damage-control mentality replaced decades of conventional real estate wisdom. With the housing market now rebounding, there is still uncertainty. The old rules - such as getting a fixed-rate mortgage and refinancing when you can - don't apply. But the post-bust rules don't work either."There's a new, new emerging wisdom," says Erin Lantz, director of the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace for the Zillow.com real estate site.
Old: Interest rates have to go up, so you better act quickly to make a purchase.
New: Interest rates are not going to zoom in any particular direction, so take your time.
"The one thing we can say with certainty is that rates will go up and down," says Keith Gumbinger, vice president at HSH.com, a mortgage information website. When they will rise and fall, and by how much, is an open question.
The housing recovery has pushed up home prices nearly everywhere. Over the past year, home prices rose in 225 of the 276 cities tracked by Clear Capital, a provider of real estate data and analysis. (See how home prices are shifting in 276 metro areas.) Prices nationwide rose by 10.9%, pushing the median price for existing homes up by $30,000, to $215,000. For people who have waited to sell their home or refinance their mortgage, that's good news.
In the past year, sales of existing homes and condos rose by 11%, to 5.29 million-almost the highest level in four years. The National Association of Realtors expects sales to remain about the same in 2014. Sales nationally have increased across all regions and in all but one price category, signaling a broad-based recovery.
Page 2 of 2