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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

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Housing Survey: A Third of Homebuyers Would Exceed Budget for the Right Home

September 17, 2014 1:30 am

The majority (61 percent) of Americans who say they're likely to buy a house in the next five years have put a home buying budget in place, but a third (36 percent) would go over the planned purchase price if they wanted the house enough, according to a recent survey by BMO Harris Bank. Among current homeowners, 49 percent stuck to their budget when buying, but 19 percent went over and 20 percent didn't have a budget for their current home.

On average, American homeowners who went over budget exceeded it by $31,587. Those who came in under budget (13 percent) went lower by an average of $25,083. Half (49 percent) set a maximum amount they could spend and stuck to it.

"A budget is an essential piece to the home buying process. Putting one in place takes time, and has to consider a variety of factors including savings, income and interest and mortgage rates," said Kevin Christopher, Head of Mortgage Sales, BMO Harris Bank. "What we're seeing from our survey is that homebuyers don't always leave themselves that cushion. Implementing and stress-testing a budget is key, not only during the pre-approval process but to ensure that when interest rates go up, homeowners are prepared."

Taking First Steps

First-time buyers are less likely to have a fixed budget that they will stick to (54 percent), and are more likely than those who have owned to say they are willing to go over budget (44 percent). A third (32 percent) say they expect their parents will help pay for the cost.

While only 13 percent of first-time buyers are currently pre-approved for a mortgage, 83 percent plan to go through the process before they purchase a home. There is some worry about the process, with 64 percent concerned they might not be pre-approved.

Putting Money Down
The survey of American homeowners also found:
  • The vast majority (89 percent) of homeowners had a mortgage at some point and half (52 percent) have had a home equity line of credit (HELOC) at some point.
  • A third (35 percent) are paying their original mortgage, while a similar percentage (30 percent) have refinanced, and 35 percent have paid off their mortgage.
  • Americans expect to have their mortgage fully paid off by age 59.
  • While not surprising that older homeowners are more likely to have paid off their homes, 40 percent of those over 65 are still paying off their mortgage.
The average down payment that Americans planning to buy in the next five years will make is 25 percent, and 87 percent feel confident they will have the down payment they're hoping for to buy their next house.

"Household balance sheets are now relatively healthy, helped by rising asset prices, moderate income growth and, most importantly, lower debt levels. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, from early 2008 to mid-2013, household debt was reduced by $1.5 trillion, as both borrowers and lenders came to terms with the housing and credit bubbles whose subsequent bursting is held to blame for the Great Recession," said Michael Gregory, Head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. "Household credit is starting to flow again -- nearly $480 billion in the past year -- led by mortgages, student loans and auto financing. However, both borrowers and lenders are approaching HELOCs more conservatively, a sign that greater prudence might be the ultimate -- welcome -- legacy of the recent recession. Borrowing within one's means is critically important to maintaining a healthy state of household finances."

Survey results cited in this report are from a Pollara survey commissioned by BMO Harris Bank using interviews with an online sample of 2,500 Americans conducted between April 1st and 7th, 2014. The margin of error for a probability sample of 2,500 is ± 1.96%.


Source: BMO Harris Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Keep Children Happy with Kid-Friendly Spaces

September 16, 2014 1:30 am

(BPT) - Would a great study space ease your child's transition from summer to school? Perhaps an awesome lounge area could convince your teens - and all their friends - that your house is the best hangout spot ever. Whatever your objectives, a few design and decorating tricks can help you create a kid-friendly space in your home.

Good design basics that make grown-up spaces appealing also work in children's spaces. When designing a kid-friendly room, however, it's important to keep in mind not only the purpose of the room (study, fun, sleep, etc.), but the age of the occupant, his or her interests, as well as incorporating fun into the design. Here are some tips to get you started:

Consider creating a theme.
Kids of all ages love themes. To decide which one might be right for your project, consider things your child has shown an enduring interest in. For example, she may be into princesses right now and hate the theme next year. On the other hand, if she's always loved the color pink and has a passion for animals, those elements could be worked into a theme that she'll appreciate for years to come.

Choose flooring that fulfills multiple needs. Carpeting absorbs sound (for when kids play loud video games or music) and is comfortable for youngsters who like to sit or lie on the floor while they do homework, read, watch television or socialize. Stain-resistant formulas and durable fibers ensure modern carpeting can stand up to the rigors of use in a child's room. And, according to the Carpet & Rug Institute, properly cleaned carpet can maintain indoor air quality, making it a viable choice for families impacted by asthma and allergies.

A child's space needs layers of lighting, just as adult spaces do. As you're choosing lighting, keep in mind how your child will use the room. If he will be doing homework, task lighting and desk lights will illuminate study areas. Will the room be a movie room or a "hangout" for older teens? Recessed and dimmable lighting may be appropriate. Don't forget to include natural light in your illumination plans. Avoid heavy drapery and opt for bright colors and lightweight materials for window treatments so windows admit ample light. If you have a larger budget, consider adding a skylight to provide light while preserving privacy.

Organization is key in a child's room, and ample storage facilitates good organization. Depending on the size of the room and how it will be used, shelving, portable cubes, book cases and other furnishings can provide plenty of storage space. For desks, look for desktop organizers that will keep important papers and supplies tidy and close at hand. By helping kids stay organized now, you'll be laying the foundation for a lifetime of good organizational skills.

Remember the fun factor. Whatever the purpose of a child's room, fun should be a universal theme. You can infuse fun in a room in many ways, from creating a video game center for lounge rooms to choosing colorful, texturally appealing carpeting for a bedroom. A touch of whimsy, such as a swing hung from the ceiling or a wall mural of your child's favorite cartoon character, can produce smiles every time kids see them.

With some creativity and the right decorating materials, it's possible to create a space that will make children comfortable, happy and ready to tackle the new school year.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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