Finding the Right Pro: What a Handyman Can and Can’t Do

When it comes to which projects a handyman is capable of, it is difficult to give a definitive answer as not all handymen are created equal

 

A Handyman is the best professional to hire, if you are either:

1. Looking for a professional to perform one or more odd jobs around your home.
This includes projects such as, shelf hanging, window repair or cabinet hardware installation.

2. You already have materials for your project.
For example, if you are installing new flooring in your home, you may find that specific flooring contractors will have vendors that they work with for supplies. In this case, you may be better off hiring a good handyman to do the install if you have already purchased the materials. This is the case for door/window replacement as well.

 

What projects shouldn’t a Handyman do?

-Electrical

-Plumbing

-HVAC

In most states, these types of projects require specific licenses. If the professional does not hold the correct licensing, their work may not be covered by their contracting insurance nor your home insurance.

 

If you have a larger project, do you need a General Contractor?

If you have a project that isn’t particularly small or specialist and you are unsure if a general contractor or handyman would be the best fit, consider the cost of the project. Bruce Morse from Remodel Seattle suggests that “if your project is projected to cost under $10,000 then a handyman will be the best fit”.

 

Does your Handyman need a license?

This is on a state-by-state basis but generally a handyman will not require a license if the project is under $1,000. If your project costs more than this, check their license information against your state requirements. You can do this online by searching for “contractors board” in your state or by calling Porch’s Homeowner Support Team on (855) 494-5972.

Once you’ve decided what kind of professional is going to be best for your project.

Existing-Home Sales Retreat 1.8 Percent in June

Existing-Home Sales Retreat 1.8 Percent in June

WASHINGTON (July 24, 2017) — Existing-home sales slipped in June as low supply kept selling at a near record pace but ultimately ended up muting overall activity, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only the Midwest saw an increase in sales last month.

Total existing-home sales1, https://www.nar.realtor/topics/existing-home-sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 1.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.52 million in June from 5.62 million in May. Despite last month’s decline, June’s sales pace is 0.7 percent above a year ago, but is the second lowest of 2017 (February, 5.47 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the previous three-month lull in contract activity translated to a pullback in existing sales in June. “Closings were down in most of the country last month because interested buyers are being tripped up by supply that remains stuck at a meager level and price growth that’s straining their budget,” he said. “The demand for buying a home is as strong as it has been since before the Great Recession. Listings in the affordable price range continue to be scooped up rapidly, but the severe housing shortages inflicting many markets are keeping a large segment of would-be buyers on the sidelines.”

Added Yun, “The good news is that sales are still running slightly above last year’s pace despite these persistent market challenges.”

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in June was $263,800, up 6.5 percent from June 2016 ($247,600). Last month’s median sales price surpasses May as the new peak and is the 64th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of June declined 0.5 percent to 1.96 million existing homes available , and is now 7.1 percent lower than a year ago (2.11 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 25 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.6 months a year ago.

First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in June, which is down from 33 percent both in May and a year ago. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20164 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.

“It’s shaping up to be another year of below average sales to first-time buyers despite a healthy that continues to create jobs,” said Yun. “Worsening supply and affordability conditions in many markets have unfortunately put a temporary hold on many aspiring buyers’ dreams of owning a home this year.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate(link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage declined for the third consecutive month, dipping to 3.90 percent in June from 4.01 percent in May. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 28 days in June, which is up from 27 days in May but down from 34 days a year ago. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 102 days in June, while foreclosures sold in 57 days and non-distressed homes took 27 days. Fifty-four percent of homes sold in June were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory data from realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in June were Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 23 days; Salt Lake City, Utah, 26 days; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 27 days; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 29 days; and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., at 30 days.

“Prospective buyers who postponed their home search this spring because of limited inventory may have better luck as the summer winds down,” said President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California. “The pool of buyers this time of year typically begins to shrink as households with children have likely closed on a home before school starts. Inventory remains extremely tight, but patience may pay off in coming months for those looking to buy.”

All-cash sales were 18 percent of transactions in June, down from 22 percent both in May and a year ago, and the lowest since June 2009 (13 percent). Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes in June, down from 16 percent in May and unchanged from a year ago. Fifty-six percent of investors paid in cash in June.

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – were 4 percent of sales in June, down from both May (5 percent) and a year ago (6 percent) and matching last September as the lowest share since NAR began tracking in October 2008. Three percent of June sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales dipped 2.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in June from 4.98 million in May, but are still 0.6 percent above the 4.85 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $266,200 in June, up 6.6 percent from June 2016.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 640,000 units in June (unchanged from May), and are 1.6 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing condo price was $245,900 in June, which is 6.5 percent above a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

June existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 2.6 percent to an annual rate of 760,000, but are still 1.3 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $296,300, which is 4.1 percent above June 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 3.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.32 million in June (unchanged from June 2016). The median price in the Midwest was $213,000, up 7.7 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South decreased 4.7 percent to an annual rate of 2.23 million (unchanged from a year ago). The median price in the South was $231,300, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.21 million in June, but remain 2.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $378,100, up 7.4 percent from June 2016.

Central Florida home sales up 8.8% in May

More and townhomes/condos sold and the median sale price increased in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area in May when compared to the year-ago period, according to the latest housing data released by Realtors. In May, 3,428 homes and 983 townhomes/condos sold in metro Orlando. The number of homes sold was up 8.8 percent from May 2016, while the number of townhomes/condos sold rose 17.6%.

Along with an increase in units sold in the Central Florida area, median sales prices also were up. Last month, the median home sale price in the area grew 7 percent to $240,788 and the median townhome/condo sale price increased 12.1 percent to $150,000.

These year over year increases are no surprise to President of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, Bruce Elliott. “Orlando has strong job growth and a great quality of life that makes this area a great place to live. There have been a lot of third-party sources, from Forbes magazine to WalletHub, showing a variety of different statistics about how good Orlando is.”

Along with higher numbers in metro Orlando, the state also saw an increase in the number of homes and townhomes/condos sold in last month when compared to May 2016.

“Closed sales of existing homes in the Sunshine State not only rebounded from a relatively flat April, they positively surged to record highs in May of 2017,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Brad O’Connor. “To be more specific, May’s sale totals of 27,850 existing single-family homes and 11,538 existing condos and townhomes were the most ever recorded [by Florida Realtors] for a single month in either property type category. In both cases, these totals were also markedly higher than the very strong number of sales racked up in May of 2016.”

The median sale prices also rose when compared to last year. Last month, the median sale price for a home in Florida grew 7.7 percent to $239,000 and the median sale price for a townhome/condo rose 8.1 percent to $178,000 when compared to the year-ago period.

Sunbridge is a new, 24,000-acre master-planned community

Sunbridge is a new, 24,000-acre master-planned community in Central Florida
from Development Company that will include a diverse range of
neighborhoods, employment centers and commercial districts. Currently in
planning, the community is anticipated to begin construction in 2018.
Vision
A community focused on preservation and innovation, with diverse residential
neighborhoods and employment centers with miles of connected trails and
surrounded by thousands of acres of preserved conservation network.
Sunbridge will feature vibrant employment centers throughout the community
focused on innovation as an economic driver with a talent pool of residents that
attracts leading companies, bright minds, and innovative ideas.
With a philosophy rooted in responsible, long-term sustainable development,
conservation will play a central role in Tavistock’s development.
While still in the early planning stages, Sunbridge will incorporate best practices
and place-making principles from across Tavistock’s award-winning portfolio,
highlighted by the Lake Nona community, which ranks among the top-10, bestselling,
master-designed communities in America and was heralded
in Fortune magazine as “the future of cities.”
Size
Sunbridge spans 24,000 acres in both Orange and Osceola County.
• Total actual acreage: 23,898 acres
• Orange County acreage: 4,787 acres
• Osceola County acreage: 19,111 acres
Location
Sunbridge is located in the southeast quadrant of Central Florida in both Orange
and Osceola County. The region is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas
in the state. Sunbridge is in close proximity to key economic drivers like Orlando
International Airport, Port Canaveral, ICAMR, Lake Nona and the
University of Central Florida. Multi-modal transportation runs throughout the
development, including State Road 528 with future plans to accommodate
growth. A key element of the proposed road system includes a new north south
arterial roadway that will provide a new regional mobility corridor between
Orange and Osceola County.
2
Development Timeline
• Planning is currently underway with both Orange and Osceola County.
• On March 21, 2016, the developer filed a comprehensive plan amendment
with Orange County to begin the first phase of development.
• Construction is anticipated to begin in 2018.
• The development is a long-term project.
Proposed Development Program
The first phase of development in Orange County would include:
• 5,720
• 1,650 multi-family units
• 9 million square feet of commercial space
o 5,470,000 sf Office
o 2,900,000 sf Industrial
o 880,000 sf Retail
• 490 hotel rooms
Conservation
Nearly 13,000 acres will comprise preserved conservation space that includes
preserved wetlands and upland buffers.
• Total actual conservation acreage: 12,845 acres
• Orange County preserved acreage: 1,692 acres
• Osceola County preserved acreage: 11,153 acres
• Additionally, the development features: 1,100 acres of lakes
Ownership
Sunbridge is an independent development of the Tavistock Development
Company. Tavistock has a development agreement with landowner Suburban
Land Reserve (“SLR”) to serve as the master developer of the 24,000-acre
project. SLR is a national land investment company with holdings in various
regions of the U.S.

AMAZON SELECTS LAKE NONA FOR HIGH-TECH FULFILLMENT CENTER

Amazon today announced plans to open a new fulfillment center in Orlando, Fla. When the site opens in 2018, Amazon will create 1,500 new full-time jobs with benefits and opportunities to engage with Amazon Robotics in a highly technological workplace.

“We are excited to join the Orlando community, creating more than 1,500 full-time jobs at our new fulfillment center,” said Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s vice president of North America operations. “We very much appreciate the state and local elected leaders who have supported Amazon’s arrival in Orlando and we look forward to bringing more jobs and investment to the state in the coming months.”

Amazon employees at the more than 850,000 square-foot fulfillment center located at Lake Nona will pick, pack and ship small items to customers like books, electronics or consumer goods.

The project is located at the intersection of Boggy Creek Road and Jeff Fuqua Boulevard just south of Orlando International Airport.

“We are bullish on attracting well-respected, global brands like KPMG and Amazon to Lake Nona,” said Jim Zboril, President of Development Company. “Lake Nona has positioned itself nationwide as an ideal location, offering a collaborative approach, innovative amenities, and infrastructure. We have a strong business development team that is out there every day competing against some of the nation’s top metropolitan markets. Lake Nona’s neo-urban location coupled with our innovative vision creates a compelling backdrop for companies looking for that next great place to call home.”

Since Tavistock’s initial acquisition of Lake Nona years ago, Tavistock has continued to partner with government to fast track the development of key infrastructure projects in Southeast Orlando/Orange County, from the construction of the Lake Nona Blvd/SR 417 interchange to the major expansion of Narcoossee Road, regional parks and more. In early 2017, Tavistock Development Company advanced plans with Orange County to expand Boggy Creek Road to accommodate this project. Tavistock Development Company will oversee the construction of these improvements.

Infrastructure work and roadway improvements (widen Boggy Creek from 2-4 lanes), which Tavistock Development is overseeing, already began last week.

“We have always said that Lake Nona is a long-term project for us – a marathon and not a sprint,” Zboril said. “Every step of our development is carefully contemplated and thoughtfully designed for the future – the future of cities perhaps. We are creating the ideal place that inspires human potential through innovative collaboration. This bold vision drives everything that we do, every day. We are tenacious.”

Home prices on the rise in metro Orlando

House . Real Estate Sign in Front of a House.

If you want to buy a home in metro Orlando, be prepared to spend more, according to a new Zillow report on affordability.

“Home values have soared in recent years, sending the national median as high as it’s ever been and forcing home buyers to pay more – even though their incomes do not always keep up,” Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell said. “While low mortgage interest rates have helped keep the typically valued U.S. home affordable by historical standards, the real prices on actually available to buy is hurting affordability in many areas.”

In metro Orlando, the median list price of homes on the market was $259,900 in first-quarter 2017, which means mortgage payments would take up 23 percent of the area’s median income, compared with the 20.4 percent required between 1985-2000.

It’s also more than the 18.2 percent of the area’s median income currently required for mortgage payments for a median valued home (many of which are not for sale). Orlando’s median home value was $203,500 for first-quarter 2017, according to the report.

The median list price for a U.S. home in the first quarter was $246,900 – well above the $197,100 median home value, according to Zillow

Further, mortgage affordability in Orlando is forecast to reach between 20.7 percent to 25.6 percent of the median income, depending on if the mortgage interest rate rises to between 5 percent to 7 percent.

To see the full report, click here. (And see the slideshow for a look inside the mansion once owned by former NBA star Horace Grant, which now is back on the market.)

Kyle Swenson is a general assignment reporter.

Pending home sales drop 1.3% in April as spring housing market shows weakness

  • The spring continues to be plagued by a lack of
  • Home shoppers signed 1.3 percent fewer contracts to buy existing homes in April compared with March
  • That drop comes after a larger-than-expected drop in closed home sales in April.
  • Home for sale in Miami.

    Pending home sales down 1.3% in April  

    Home buyers pull back again in April, signing fewer contracts

    The spring housing market continues to be plagued by a lack of homes for sale. Home shoppers signed 1.3 percent fewer contracts to buy existing homes in April compared with March, according to a monthly index from the National Association of Realtors. March’s reading was also revised down. The index is 3.3 percent lower than April of 2016.

    “Much of the country for the second straight month saw a pullback in pending sales as the rate of new listings continues to lag the quicker pace of homes coming off the market,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors, adding that foot traffic is higher than a year ago.

    The drop comes after a larger-than-expected drop in closed home sales in April. More sellers listed their homes in April, but the number of listings was still 9 percent lower than a year ago. Tight supply continues to put upward pressure on home prices, which are now rising at three times the rate of incomes.

    “We know two things heading into the summer selling season. One, home prices continue to leap forward. Two, homebuyers continue to jump into the market.”-Nela Richardson, chief economist, Redfin

    “The unloading of single-family homes purchased by real estate investors during the downturn for rental purposes would also go a long way in helping relieve these inventory shortages,” said Yun. “To date, there are no indications investors are ready to sell.”

    Weaker sales are not due to a lack of potential buyers, especially this year, as millennials age into their home-buying years and confidence in the U.S. improves. Home buyer demand surged in April, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. The number of clients requesting home tours jumped 12 percent.

    “We know two things heading into the summer selling season. One, home prices continue to leap forward. Two, homebuyers continue to jump into the market,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. “A pop of new listings only encourages more homebuyers to barge their way into this crowded and competitive, low-inventory market in order to take advantage of still-low mortgage rates.”

    Regionally, pending home sales in the Northeast decreased 1.7 percent for the month and are 0.6 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 4.7 percent for the month and 6.1 compared to a year ago. In the South, sales fell 2.7 for the month and are 2.3 percent below last April. The index in the West rose 5.8 percent in April but is still 4.2 percent below a year ago.

A Former Lehman Brothers Trader: I Bet My Reputation That This Bubble Will Pop In A Year

Summary

In 2000, we had the dot-com bubble.

In 2007, we had the housing bubble.

In 2017, we have the everything bubble.

It wasn’t always this way. We never used to get a giant, speculative bubble every 7–8 years. We really didn’t.

In 2000, we had the dot-com bubble.

In 2007, we had the housing bubble.

In 2017, we have the everything bubble.

Why do we call it the everything bubble? Well, there is a bubble in a bunch of asset classes simultaneously, like:

  1. Real estate in Canada, Australia, and Sweden
  2. Real estate in California
  3. Cryptocurrencies
  4. FANG, plus Tesla, and a few others
  5. Corporate credit
  6. EM sovereign credit
  7. Autos
  8. Indexing
  9. Dramatic television series
  10. Sports
  11. Animated movies

For the last few, I am just screwing around… though they are also bubbles.

I don’t like going around and calling things bubbles. It’s a good way to lose credibility (especially if you started in 2013).

I haven’t been exactly bullish over the last year. But I have refrained from calling it stupid, because it could always get stupider.

But now, I’m not sure how much more stupid things will get.

Bitcoin Pushed Me Over the Edge

First, let’s define what a bubble is. A bubble is not simply a matter of overvaluation. It has to be accompanied by an obsession or preoccupation with an asset class.

When you see people making haystacks of cash all out of proportion to their intelligence or work ethic?

Bubble!

That is kind of what is happening right now in cryptocurrencies.

Am I some kind of Luddite? No.

Do I see the potential of blockchain? Yes.

But when I see people behaving this way—literally throwing money at each other—you’re probably closer to the end than the beginning.

People are comparing Bitcoin to tulip bulbs. I think those comparisons are apt. But at least with tulips, you had something tangible—a plant.

What to Consider in a Remodel

The kitchen should reflect your lifestyle. It should accommodate your cooking needs, provide the type of space you need for dining and offer plenty of storage. Its décor should complement your home’s architecture and set the tone for gatherings that happen there. A lot of factors play into kitchen design, but the first step before choosing appliances or visiting a cabinet showroom is to set some goals for your space.
Start by reflecting on why you’re remodeling and what you really need to get out of it. A kitchen remodel is not an easy task, so why are you doing it? Download and complete the Day in the Life of Your Kitchen Questionnaire and Kitchen Goals Worksheet. Your answers to these questions will help you create a remodeling checklist and budget.
When Deborah Pierce, principal, Pierce Lamb Architects, West Newton, Mass, works with clients, she works through an organic process that involves addressing each of these key variables:
  • Size of the space
  • Orientation of sunlight
  • Connection of kitchen to adjacent rooms
  • Homeowner’s lifestyle
  • Budget
  • Condition of the building

Kitchen Remodeling Considerations

As you start planning your remodel, consider these factors:
Size (Square Footage). “Every inch of space is important, especially in a small kitchen,” Pierce emphasizes. The size of your kitchen will dictate the layout: Is there room for an island? Does space allow for a prep sink? Where can you squeeze in extra storage?
Will you knock out a wall or extend the kitchen by adding on to your home? How much space can you conceivably add to your kitchen layout? These are questions to consider with a kitchen designer or architect, who can help you devise a solid plan.
Existing Layout. Don’t feel married to your kitchen’s existing footprint. “Windows and doors are seldom in the place you want them,” Pierce says. “They might be on the wrong wall, or in the wrong place entirely.” If you must maintain the windows/doors of your kitchen, you may be locked in to your layout—but there are always ways to modify. For instance, you can add a peninsula to an L-shaped kitchen and create a horseshoe layout that offers more counter space and efficiency. Learn about different kitchen layouts.
As you consider kitchen layout, take time to think about what you like about your current kitchen:
  • How do you move in the space?
  • Does the workflow accommodate your cooking routine?
  • Can you easily move from the range to the sink?
  • How effective is your kitchen when more than one person is cooking?
These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself as you begin to plan your kitchen remodel. To see a complete list of questions you’ll need to consider, download the Day in the Life of Your Kitchen Questionnaire.
Infrastructure. Depending on the age of your kitchen, you might confront electrical or plumbing concerns as you remodel. Work with an architect-engineer team to ensure that the “guts” of your kitchen can accommodate the technology (appliances, lighting, etc.) you will install.
“In an older house, you may find yourself with sagging floors that need to be addressed or crooked walls that need to be straightened out,” Pierce says, pointing to a couple of budget busters that many homeowners do not plan for. “Keep an open mind at the start of the process,” she continues. “Understand your needs, but recognize the variables that a designer or builder might need to deal with during the process.”
Lifestyle. How will you use the kitchen? What type of cook are you? How do you entertain? Answer the questions in the Day in the Life of Your Kitchen Questionnaire as you prioritize features for your new kitchen. Peterson likes to keep the conversation general when first identifying kitchen likes/dislikes, “identifying problems rather than solutions, and wishes rather than details,” she says. “This is because the design will evolve as all variables are considered, and locking on to a specific feature at the start may solve one problem but preclude a better design that solves five other problems.”
For example, choosing professional appliances that take up 80 percent of the space may not allow enough room for cabinetry storage or area to expand a window to let more light into the kitchen.
Budget. For a more detailed discussion, visit our Budgeting Your Project section. As Roberta Bauer-Kravette, LEED AP, AKBD and director of Nieuw Amsterdam Kitchens in New York, N.Y., says, “The fastest way to go over your budget is to change your mind on materials and finishes.”
Decide where to save and where to splurge. Set a realistic budget, figuring between 6 and 10 percent of your home value for a complete kitchen remodel. Brad Burgin, Burgin Construction Inc. in North Tustin, Calif., says his clients that spend about 10 percent of their overall home value realize a return on their investment at resale. View and download our budget worksheet to help you decide where to spend your budget.