Let’s finish out the year with a holiday basket packed with good news: We’re ending 2016 in better economic shape than in recent years. Unemployment is down to 4.6%, its lowest level since August 2007; consumer confidence is higher than it has been since July 2007; and home values nationally and in more than half of the major markets in the country have recovered.
We’re employed, confident, and have recovered equity in our homes. The stock market is up and flirting with all-time highs.
That sounds like the perfect backdrop to buy a home in 2017, whether it’s a first-time purchase, a move up, a downsize, or a relocation. Right?
Maybe. But before you take the plunge, you’re going to have to come to grips with two factors that are now decidedly worse for buying than they were at the end of last year: Mortgage rates are higher, and the inventory of homes for sale is lower.

Mortgage rates are a bit more than a quarter of a point higher now than they were at the end of 2015. That translates into payments that are 3% higher. Still, that increase can be managed by most.
The key challenge for potential buyers is that rates are now likely to move up more—as much as three-quarters of a point in 2017. That would be increasing payments by an additional 9%.
Tight inventory levels have been a problem for more than four years. As sales have grown, supply has fallen. We’ve seen the age of inventory—how long homes sit on the market—drop dramatically as home buyers burn through the available stock.
We’ve had an abnormally strong autumn for home sales because frustrated buyers are keeping at it even after the end of peak buying season. We also saw more new buyers emerge later in the peak season. Then as mortgage rates started to move up in October and then accelerated their rise in November and December, a new sense of urgency was added to the mix.
As a result of this unusually strong demand in the slower time of the year, we will end this year with at least 10% fewer homes for sale than we had last year. And we thought last year was bad!
Get started on your home hunt now
If your New Year’s resolutions include buying a home, I would suggest getting an early start. January and February typically are the slowest months of the year for sales, as harsh weather in most of the country dissuades most potential buyers.
Buyers in January and February face far less competition from other buyers, yet inventory is only marginally lower than in the spring.
Since mortgage rates are likely to move up as the year progresses, the beginning of the year represents the best time to lock in rates before they get even higher.
Early-year buyers can use the holidays to get ready. Organize your financial information to make getting pre-approved for a mortgage easier.

Retired professional stock car racer Mark Martin has put his lakeside mansion in North Carolina on the market for $2.55 million. Martin bought the home a little over three years ago for $2 million.

Martin, 57, is one of five drivers who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. He raced professionally from 1977 to 2013, completing 882 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Martin famously never won a Sprint Cup championship, placing second in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2009.

He’ll likely have better luck selling his four-bedroom, 4.5-bath home in Cornelius, NC, a wealthy suburb north of Charlotte. Built in 1994, the 5,767-square-foot home was designed to maximize its 190 feet of Lake Norman shoreline, with large windows in nearly every room looking out on the lake.
Read more and see pics here.

If you’re looking to sell your home during prime house-shopping season this spring, you’d better get cracking now. After all, it’s not as easy as slapping an ad on Craigslist; if you want your humble abode to stand out from the competition, that could take months to do right.
read more here


Tech investor Braden Pollock recently closed on a four-bedroom, Spanish Revival-style mansion sitting atop a hill with an unobstructed view of downtown Los Angeles. The house, built in 1925, comes with a library and a ballroom and sits on nearly two-thirds of an acre in the hilly neighborhood of Los Feliz. Pollock got the place for a steal at a probate auction back in June.

There was a reason for the bargain. The home comes with something else, too: a history. An unfortunate one.

Known in popular imagination as “The Los Feliz Mansion,” the house was the site of one of the most haunting and highly publicized murders in L.A. history. Early one morning in 1959, cardiologist Harold Perelson beat his wife, Lillian Perelson, to death with a ball-peen hammer, and then tried—and failed—to slay his 18-year-old daughter by bashing in her head with the same weapon.  Read more here. 

Listing agents love to use secret code words—phrases that sound pretty on paper but mean something entirely different in reality. Here are a few you should know so you don’t walk away feeling fooled.  Click here to learn more.