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Home Alone: More Women Are Buying Homes on Their Own
 
"Skip the spouse, buy the house" was a line from a recent Bloomberg news story about single women buying homes on their own. It's catchy, but also true: as the article reported, single women currently account for approximately 17% of new homebuyers in the U.S., versus 7% of single men.

Why? Despite the wage gaps that remain between men and women in the workforce, many millennial women appear to value homeownership more than their male counterparts do, and are adjusting their lifestyles accordingly to make it happen.

In the Bloomberg article, Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM Data Solutions, noted that single women typically buy at a lower price point ($173,000 compared with $190,600) and have a slightly higher foreclosure rate than men (73 per 10,000 vs. 70 per 10,000). This may be a result of the aforementioned gaps in wages, or possibly because more women raise children on their own than men do - a scenario with major financial implications.

Single women homeowners say there's a sense of independence and a comfort level that comes with owning your space, and that despite the need for often-expensive home maintenance and other costs, homeownership can be personally fulfilling.

For both single men and women, buying one's own home requires more financial independence than does buying with the support of a partner. It's essential not only that prospective buyers have a down payment and months of mortgage payments saved, but also that they're emotionally prepared for the stresses that come with homeownership - and are ready to take them on alone.

 
Ostriches and Egos: How We Create Our Own Realities
 
Information avoidance is a common human tendency. It doesn't seem to matter that we're living in a hyper information age. We listen to news that supports our point of view, avoid information we don't want to hear, and convince ourselves we have the facts we need in order to make informed decisions - even when we don't.

In an article detailing recent research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Shilo Rea explains that people "are remarkably adept at selectively directing their attention to information that affirms what they believe or that reflects favorably upon them, and at forgetting information they wish were not true."

In other words, we tend to create our own reality - because we like it that way. We choose what we want to believe and ignore what we don't. Apparently, ignorance is bliss after all. Writer Chris Fleisher notes, in an article for the American Economic Association, "This behavior drives economists nuts. Ideally, we should absorb all the information we can get so that we can make rational decisions. But it doesn't work that way."

In Psychology Today, Alain Samson calls it "the ostrich effect." Referring to the work of the CMU researchers, he writes: "Information avoidance has immediate benefits for people if it prevents the negative (usually psychological) consequences of knowing the information." And while we all like to think of ourselves as savvy information consumers, we may be more like ostriches than we'd like to admit. Even more embarrassing, we're probably egoists too. Says Samson: "Information avoidance is particularly pertinent when ego threat is involved."

 
Higher Education: Easing the Cost Burden of College
Higher education is a huge financial undertaking. According to a recent U.S. survey, families spent, on average, $23,688 in the 2015-2016 school year (including scholarships and grants) to send their kids to college or university. And even though that figure is slightly less than the year before, and students borrowed 13% of their school costs in the form of student loans, it's still a financial struggle for most parents.

No question, deciding which college or university to attend, what to study, and how to pay for it looms large. And it's not just about tuition, fees, and room and board; there are other factors, including the cost of living, transportation, books, and more, that affect the decision. Location is also a key consideration; attending a school close to home can save on travel costs.

Students and their parents will also need to consider the possibility of any scholarships and/or financial aid packages available to help pay for college or university tuition. Aside from taking out student loans and working part time, there are other ways students themselves can help out. Here are some strategies worth considering:
  • Get a student bank account. Many major banks offer free banking for students.
  • Buy and sell your used textbooks online.
  • Ask about student rates at movies, museums, concerts, attractions, and activities.
  • Take advantage of free events and activities, especially if these events will include free food.
  • Pack your lunches and snacks.
  • Use the school gym and other on-campus facilities.

 
Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?
 
How has the price of your home or rental changed in today's market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?

If you're wondering what's happening to prices in your area, or you're thinking about selling your house or investment property, I'll be able to help.

Just give my office a call for a no-fuss, professional evaluation.

I won't try to push you into listing with me or waste your time.

I'll just give you the honest facts about your home and its value.

And maybe I'll also give you the "inside scoop" on what's happening in the housing market near where you live!

Just give my office a call or reply to this email to arrange an appointment. Alternatively, stop by at the office.

 
Rules Differ in a Condo Remodel: Here's How
 
You're ready to renovate. Your creative juices are flowing, and you're excited to create that perfect space.

But wait. Are you remodeling a condo? If so, this requires some special considerations. The game rules differ from those for a detached home. Here's the playbook:

Read the regulations: Condos come with associations. These come with rules. The association has put certain standards in place to maintain the best possible conditions for your building. Before forging ahead with any plans, read through the regulations of your association and consult with your board or property manager for anything that will need the association's approval.

Consider condo limitations: Your unit may be linked to others, so you may not be able to alter certain aspects of your home: plumbing fixtures might have to stay where they are; you may not be able to remove walls that support the structure, or install pot lights in ceilings. But don't let these limits stifle your creativity or dash your renovation hopes. Just keep them in mind as you plan.

Plan ahead: If your renovations are extensive and the space small, your contractor and workers may require an extra space in which to work. Ask if there is a workshop or outside space they may be able to use.

Don't fear the painter: One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to transform a space is by painting it. However, many condo owners are concerned about personalizing their walls, especially with deep, dark colors. Unless you're renovating for an immediate sale, go ahead and make the space your own. Enjoy it while it's yours. When you are ready to sell, you'll likely need to apply a fresh coat of paint anyway, and you can make it neutral then.

Get out: For your own sanity, stay with a friend or relative during construction, or treat yourself to a hotel.
 
 
 
 
 
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Thai-Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges
Serves 4
2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
4 lime wedges
Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub all surfaces of the sweet potatoes with olive oil. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and season with salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.

While potatoes are in the oven, cook the sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, lime, ginger, brown sugar, and chili garlic sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with a bit of warm water.

Remove sweet potatoes from oven and drizzle with sauce. Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.

Ask the Agent: This Month's Question
Should I get a reverse mortgage?

If you want to increase your income in retirement, a reverse mortgage may sound appealing. But there are pros and cons:

With a reverse mortgage, you're essentially borrowing against the equity you have in your home. You don't make monthly mortgage payments; instead you receive the money from the lender either as a lump sum or in some other form. The amount depends on several factors, including the equity you've built up. The bonus: you still own your home; a reverse mortgage isn't paid back until you move, sell, or die.

The cons? Fees are typically higher than for a conventional mortgage, and they along with the interest that builds up reduce the equity in your home. And there may be other financial considerations. While your retirement may be worry-free, your heirs may be faced with a big mortgage when you die. Is it for you? Be wise: discuss it with an advisor.
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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