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Screened-in Porches a Hot Commodity during Summer Selling Season

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For those looking to purchase a home, screened-in porches are quickly becoming a feature that can’t be overlooked. Not only do they provide protection against insects, they also offer shade from the sun and shelter from the rain, while letting inhabitants feel as though they’re savoring the natural world outside. Even more appealing is the fact that screened-in porches decrease ground temperatures, saving homeowners from spending an arm and a leg on cooling costs during the hot summer months.

Screened-in porches also go a long way toward reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches adjacent interior rooms. Additional levels of comfort can easily be incorporated into the space by adding recessed lighting, pendant lights and ceiling fans.

For those getting ready to put their home on the market, adding screens to an existing porch can go a long way toward attracting a larger pool of prospective buyers. In addition to helping your home stand out from the competition, taking the time to add screens to an existing structure will more than likely pay off when the home is sold.

If your property doesn’t currently have a screened-in porch – or you recently bought a spot that lacks this alluring amenity – you may want to consider incorporating one into the space if you have the room. However you decide to proceed, keep in mind that adding a porch won’t do anything to increase the total square footage of the home.

While there are numerous options to be considered when deciding which materials you’ll use to build a porch from the ground up – or add to an existing structure – experts suggest designing the porch in three phases: flooring, exterior materials and interior trim. Everything from pressure-treated Yellow Southern Pine to vinyl and up-cycled composites can be considered.

Before you get started, it’s important to carefully consider the positioning of the door so that it best suits your specific needs. For instance, you can build your screened-in porch with a door that leads directly into the house, or you can position the door to allow for easy entry from a pool or outside dining area. In most instances, aluminum doors are recommended because wood doors tend to warp over time.

You’ll also want to consider how you’d like the ceiling to look. Flat ceilings will provide an interior room feel, while vaulted or cathedral ceilings will allow for better ventilation.

If you’re not up to the task of building a screened-in porch with your own two hands, hiring a professional contractor will take the work out of the process. Not only will a contractor be up-to-date in regard to zoning laws, they can also deal with any issues that might pop up along the way.

Survey: Saving a Top Priority For Millennials, but Impulse Spending a Major Barrier

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One in three millennials (34 percent) ranked saving as their No. 1 goal for the year – ahead of living a healthy lifestyle (20 percent), paying off debt (19 percent), and losing weight (14 percent). But while saving was a top priority, a majority of millennials attributed their lack of saving to impulse buying (65 percent).

According to a recent survey from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Ad Council, for older millennials – those born between the early 1980s and early 1990s – saving is crucial as they work toward major milestones in their lives. When asked what they were saving money toward, respondents sought to secure their future by saving for an emergency fund (40 percent), saving for retirement (22 percent) or starting a family (15 percent). They also reported saving for larger purchases like a vacation (36 percent), a new house (27 percent), a car (26 percent), home improvements (20 percent), or a wedding (8 percent).

To provide Americans aged 25 to 34 with the tips and tools to take control of their personal finances, AICPA and the Ad Council’s national advertising campaign, Feed the Pig, is continuing to collaborate with new partners to deliver this critical content in a relevant and engaging way.

“Many young adults think saving is impossible,” says Gregory Anton, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “While low salaries and high debt levels can certainly be barriers to saving, the key is to create a budget and stick to it. Establishing a disciplined saving strategy early in life and avoiding missteps will reap substantial long-term dividends.”

In addition to impulse buying and lack of budgeting, an overwhelming majority of young adults say that their current salary (84 percent), having too many bills (81 percent), paying down debt (79 percent) and not establishing a personal budget (62 percent) are impediments to saving more. Regardless of the reason, almost half (44 percent) of those surveyed did not pay their full credit card balance each month or borrowed money from friends or family. Forty-one percent had less than $100 in their checking account, 30 percent paid a late or overdraft fee, and 23 percent missed a bill payment.

Over half (55 percent) of the young adults surveyed admitted that they were impulse shoppers, defined as making an unplanned purchase of $30 or more on a daily or weekly basis. Impulse buyers are more likely than those who never or rarely make an impulse purchase to have carried a balance on their credit card (45 percent vs. 35 percent) and have paid a late or overdraft fee (31 percent vs. 21 percent).

The Internet is viewed as a positive by millennials as an overwhelming majority (92 percent) agree that it has made it easier to get the best deal and 88 percent agree that they comparison shop for the lowest price before making a purchase. However, approximately one in four (28 percent) have seen a big ticket item they purchased for a lower price than they paid in the past year – underscoring the importance of being diligent when shopping for big ticket purchases.

“The good news is that millennials are internalizing the message that saving is important, but they still need help creating habits that stick,” says Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman. “We’re excited to collaborate with partners like Facebook and Games for Change to create new tools and content that will help make saving easier and more accessible for millennials.”

The Feed the Pig website offers a range of interactive tools, including calculators, podcasts and free subscriptions to weekly saving tips via email and text message to help foster positive saving habits.

To date, the Feed the Pig campaign has received more than $382 million in donated media through the Ad Council’s model. The CPA profession launched a unified financial literacy initiative, 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, 12 years ago. The effort brought together the AICPA, state CPA societies, and individual CPAs to address financial illiteracy.

Source: AICPA; The Ad Council

Brexit Vote Drives Down Mortgage Rates, Results Show

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Slow growth in China and the Brexit vote in the U.K., have played a major role in driving down mortgage rates, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released monthly Outlook for July. In the most recent Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.41 percent, just slightly above the all-time record low. This is likely to result in a boost in housing activity, particularly refinance, as homeowners take advantage of the current low rates.

“With the U.K.’s decision to exit from the European Union, global risks increased substantially leading us to revise our views for the remainder of 2016 and all of 2017,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Nonetheless, the turbulence abroad should continue to create demand for U.S. Treasuries and keep mortgage rates near historic lows; thereby, allowing home sales to have their best year in a decade, along with a boost in refinance activity.”

Results lead experts to expect growth rebound in the remaining quarters of 2016 to show GDP at 1.9 and 2.2 percent in 2016 and 2017. In light of recent global pressures, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage forecast has been revised down for both 2016 (by 30 basis points) and 2017 (by 50 basis points) to 3.6 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively.

Based on these low mortgage rates, expect the refinance share of originations to rise to 49 percent for 2016, 8 percentage points above last month’s forecast. This translates to about $100 billion more in originations, bringing the total for 2016 to $1,825 billion.

With June’s much-improved employment report over May’s release, expect unemployment to average 4.9 percent in 2016 and 4.8 percent in 2017.

The house price appreciation forecast for 2016 remains at 5.0 percent, and in 2017, 4.0 percent.

For more information, visit www.freddiemac.com.

5 Ways to Save Money and Energy This Summer

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Home improvements may improve the value of your home, but they often cost you a lot more. What if you could improve your home and save money at the same time? Summer is one of the best times of year to make some changes around your home that can help save energy, and therefore, save you money as well. These five home projects are designed to help make your home more energy efficient – even during one of the most energy-heavy times of year – so you can save and enjoy your home more this summer.

1) Maintain Your HVAC Unit
Your HVAC and AC unit need to be serviced each year, usually sometime in the spring or summer. Doing so can not only help ensure that it’s working when the temperatures hit their peak, it can also help save you money as well. Air conditioning maintenance helps ensure your unit is working at peak efficiency by keeping it clean and replacing any worn parts. This quick, yearly visit by a technician will help ensure your AC unit is working the way you want it to, when you want it to.

Cost
The cost of annual air conditioning maintenance averages out to around $100, but can go as high as $150, if you wait until the days are at their hottest.

Tips to Save Even More
Your AC’s filter is your best defense against dirt building up inside. Make sure you change it regularly to help the unit run more efficiently, which will help keep your monthly bills down.

DIY or Not?
Your HVAC unit should always be inspected and maintained by a qualified technician.

2) Repair Window Leaks
Did you know that even if your window isn’t leaking water when it rains, it could still be leaking air and raising your energy bills? Poor air seal or a large gap around your windows can account for as much as 40 percent of the money you use to heat and cool your home – a significant amount that just flies right out the window. Replacing your windows can help fix the air seal and save you a lot of money on your energy bills each month thereafter.

Cost
The average cost to replace your windows is about $830 for a vinyl sash window, but can go as high as $2650 for a wooden bay window replacement.

Tips to Save Even More
Replace only the worst windows first, then use caulk to seal up the edges of the other windows to help stop energy loss while you wait to replace them all.

DIY or Not?
Window replacements should be carried out by professionals, but you can seal up air leaks yourself in the meantime.

3) Install an Attic Fan
The attic is often overlooked as one area that is responsible for a lot of the heat gain in your home. Attics often become superheated in the summer months with the combination of rising heat from below and the sun beating down from above. Installing an attic fan can help drop the temperature in your attic, which will prevent heat transfer back down into the rest of your home, making it more comfortable and lowering your energy bills.

Cost
The average cost of installing an attic fan is around $275 for a fan that can cool up to 2,500 square feet. Total costs can go as high as $321 for a fan that can cool 3,000 square feet.

Tips to Save Even More
Install a solar powered fan, which will cool your attic and won’t cost anything to run.

DIY or Not?
Attic fans should always be installed by a licensed electrician to minimize the risk of electric shock.

4) Install Window Shades
A lot of people assume that installing draperies is enough to give you the privacy and light blocking that you need. But if you live in a climate that sees a lot of sun in the summer months, drapes alone may not be enough to stop solar heat transfer through your windows. Installing window shades can help dramatically reduce the heat gain in your home, keeping things cool and comfortable inside, while helping to keep your energy bills down.

Cost
The average cost of installing window shades is around $500 to $600 for eight honeycomb shades. Total costs range from $250 for eight roller shades to $650 for eight Roman shades.

Tips to Save Even More
Make sure that your shades have a white, reflective surface on the side facing the windows to ensure that they will truly block the light and heat from entering your home.

DIY or Not?
You can easily install shades yourself with minimal tools and a few hours of time to save even more money.

5) Insulate Your Attic
The vast majority of homes are under-insulated, which means that a lot of the money you spend to heat and cool your home is going to waste. Attics in particular are in great need of extra insulation, because of the heat gain from the sun beating down on your roof, which can lead to your whole home rising in temperature. Adding some attic insulation will help keep your whole home cooler and more comfortable all summer long, resulting in lower AC bills.

Cost
The average cost to insulate an attic is around $897 for blown-in cellulose insulation in a 1,500 square feet space. Total costs range from $617 for R-13 roll insulation installed DIY to $1501 for R-19 roll insulation.

Tips to Save Even More

  • Insulate the underside of your roof deck as well as your attic to help block additional heat transfer.
  • Use the highest R-factor insulation that you can afford to get the most energy savings.

DIY or Not?
It is possible to install roll insulation yourself, but blown-in insulation should be done by a professional.

Save Energy, Save Money
No one likes to take on projects during the dog days of summer, but these five projects can help make your home a lot more comfortable and energy efficient once you’re done. Take on these five projects any time this summer to help get the most out of this time of year. To find out more about what things cost on typical home improvement projects, be sure to visit both of these Cost Guides.

Heat Stroke

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Heat Stroke is the most severe form of heat illness and is life-threatening.

It is the result of long, extreme exposure to the sun, in which a person does not sweat enough to lower body temperature. The elderly, infants, persons who work outdoors and those on certain types of medications are the most susceptible to heat stroke. It is a condition that develops rapidly and requires Immediate medical medical treatment. Our bodies produce a tremendous amount of internal heat and we normally cool ourselves by sweating and radiating heat through the skin. In certain circumstances, such as extreme heat, high humidity or vigorous activity in the hot sun, this cooling system may begin to fail allowing heat to build up to dangerous levels.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke and/or Dehydration May Include:

  • Headache, dizziness or light-headed
  • Disorientation, agitation or confusion
  • Sluggishness or fatigue
  • Seizure
  • Hot, dry skin that is flushed, but not sweaty
  • A high body temperature
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Hallucinations
  • Thirst
  • Less-frequent urination
  • Dry skin
  • Dry mouth and mucous membranes

In Children, Additional Symptoms May Include:

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for more than 3 hours
  • Sunken abdomen, eyes or cheeks
  • High fever
  • Listlessness
  • Irritability
  • Skin that does not flatten when pinched and released

Treatment:

  • Call 911- Immediate treatment is important as heat stroke can cause permanent damage or death.
  • Get the person indoors and have them lie down in a cool area with their feet slightly elevated.
  • Remove clothing and gently apply cool water to skin followed by fanning to simulate sweating.
  • Apply ice packs to the groin and armpits.

Prevention:

  • Drink plenty of fluids – avoid tea, coffee, soda and alcohol.
  • Wear lightweight, tightly woven, loose-fitting light colored clothing.
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses and use an umbrella.
  • Increase time spent outdoors gradually to get your body used to the heat.
  • Take frequent drink breaks and mist yourself with a spray bottle.
  • Spend as much time indoors as possible on very hot and humid days preferably with air conditioning or fans going.

For more information contact – The Arizona Heart Institute

2632 N. 20th Street • Phoenix, AZ   85006    602-266-2200

abrazo-medical-group

*Information may vary for all individuals. The Lloyds of Scottsdale are not liable for any condition resulting from the information in this post.

 

 

 

 

 

New Listing Open House

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***  New Listing Open House  ***

       July 24th 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM

       


 

Asking:   $ 325,000     MLS# 5472841

  

4424 Paradise Lane     Glendale, AZ. 85306
Residential | 3 bedrooms • 2 bathrooms • 2204 sq. ft. • 14984 lot sq. ft.

1/3 Acre Lot

Property Description
This 3 bedroom block built home with enormous master closet and 2 person tub with extra jets – separate large shower all replaced 2010. Home was remodeled in 2010 including:custom kitchen cabinets with pull out drawers/built in tv, granite countertops, RO System)undermount sink, bathrooms with all new fixtures, mirrors, large tile floors, 2010 roof, 2010 AC. Exceptionally large 2 car garage with third car garage/workshop(300 S.F.) in rear of home(over 32 feet of cement driveway)Loads of storage in these garages as well as an additional 10X10 metal storage bldg.Room for chain link fence around garden spot or dog run. Front and back yard have water with timers- 1/3 acre. This home fits the needs of family who wants huge amounts of storage with workshop.

Located at: 4424 W. Paradise Lane, Glendale Az. 85306

 

  

  

  

 

  

  

Features:

  • Slab Granite Counter tops
  • Custom Kitchen Cabinets w/Pullout Drawers
  • Undermount Sink w/R.O. System
  • Enormous Master Walk-in Closet
  • Master Bath Has Two Person Tub w/Extra Jets
  • 2 Car Garage + 3rd Car Garage/Workshop
  • RV Gate/Parking
  • 10′ x 10′ Metal Storage Bldg.
  • 1/3 Acre Lot
MLS: 5472841
Sq Ft: 2,204
Yr Built: 1981
Bdrms: 3
Baths: 2
Parking: 2 Car Garage
3rd Car Garage/Workshop
 

Asking:  $325,000

Address:   4424 W. Paradise Lane

                  Glendale, AZ. 85306

Ken and Sharon Lloyd
Sharon Lloyd

602-418-5467
Contact Agent
Realty One Group
Realty One Group
17550 North Perimeter Dr
Suite# #160
Scottsdale AZ 85255
602-418-5467

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
Agent and/or buyer to verify all information.

Scottsdale/Phoenix Market Has Changed

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The Phoenix/Scottsdale Market Has Changed – May 2016 Market Update

Market Update

With the 2016 home buying and selling season well upon us, we are starting to get a feel for what the rest of the year may look like. Just in January of this year I attended the Inman Connect NYC Conference, where many of the top real estate agents and industry partners attend on an annual basis. Some of the topics covered were 3D technology for selling homes, Virtual Reality to tour homes in the future, consumer sentiment of the real estate markets, weak global markets, a strong and improving US market, luxury sales, and much more. It was so intriguing to see how technology has, is, and will continue to shape our real estate industry. One thing is for sure; the role of the REALTOR® may change and be revised, but the necessity will surely stay.Interest Rates: The sentiment of the investment markets seems to be that the US Federal Reserve will raise rates at their coming meeting in June, with the expectation to be approximately by a quarter point. Whether this is warranted or not remains to be seen, but the first time rates were raised in a decade was just last December. With unemployment fairly low sitting at 5.0% currently, the US market seems to be on an individual platform when compared to the global markets, which is another reason they are considering raising rates, as the US market is a major driving market, to head the push. Whether or not they raise rates in the near future, let’s also be mindful that although there may be a perceived correlation between interest rates and home sales, there is no real proven relationship up or down.Distressed Sales: Practically non-existent, but still breathing, are the short sales and foreclosures of yesteryears. When looking at our market as a whole, the distressed property market consists roughly of 3.9% of our sales. Scottsdale however, a bit less impervious to the volatility of our cycles, for better or worse in regards to appreciation or depreciation, has distressed property sales at about half of the market at 2%. An additionally positive sign is that year over year from April 2015-April 2016, we decreased from 5,589 pending foreclosures to that of 4,146 pending foreclosures, a 25.8% decrease.Inventory: Our total inventory has slightly increased year over year. For example, in April of 2015, we had 25,889 total listings, whereas in April of 2016 we had 27,015 total listings. We are currently sliding between 3.25-3.5 months of inventory, which is still relatively low. For the Phoenix metropolitan area, we typically like to approximately 5 months of inventory to be a truly balanced market.

Days on Market Indicators: As consumer sentiment increases, typically we see the days on market average decrease, as long as supply and demand remain fairly balanced. Please remember that our market is split up into several submarkets, but when looking at it as a whole (Maricopa County), we are seeing our average days on market hover near 78 days currently. While looking at this number year over year, which is how we can be the most accurate with working days and holidays, etc, our average has decreased by 6 days from 84 days last year in April.

Sub-Markets: This is where the rubber meets the road. For market update purposes, you should see how the market is performing overall for days on market averages and medians, but for Scottsdale, we will lean towards evaluating the top 3 ranges. The submarkets can be defined as 250k-500k being in a sellers’ market, 500k-750k offering a balanced market, and 750k plus certainly in a buyers market, with the higher the price point, typically the more negotiating power the buyer has depending on how the property is priced.

cdom
*DOM summations courtesy of Tom Ruff @ The Information Market and ARMLS.

**High Sales Year-to-Date in Scottsdale:

1. $13,700,000. 23036 N. Via Ventosa Dr. Scottsdale, AZ 85255. Sold off market on 4-22-2016: 25,989 sq. ft., situated on 6.61 acres was comprised of 9 bedrooms, 17 baths, it’s own two story exercise building with racquetball court, tennis court, spa facility, and olympic sized pool, and more, located in Canyon Heights.

2. $6,000,000. 6415 E. Exeter Blvd. Scottsdale, AZ 85255: Sold through MLS on 1-6-2016: 9,221 sq. ft. on a .95 acre lot, comprised of 5 bedrooms and 8 baths, a glass conservatory and a 1000+ bottle climate controlled wine cellar, located in Lombardi Estates.

3. $5,700,000. 10891 E. Mountain Spring Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85255. Sold through MLS on 5-23-2016: 8,015 sq. ft., situated on a 1.21 acre lot, comprised of 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, single level home and is new construction, adjacent to the NAOS preserve, located in Silverleaf at DC Ranch.

4. $5,400,000. 18833 N. 101st Way Scottsdale, AZ 85255. Sold through the MLS on 1-6-2016: 8,300 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, situated on a 28,000 sq. ft. lot, w/ guest casita, located in Silverleaf at DC Ranch.

Source: Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors Logo

 

Need Roof Work? 5 Tips to Avoid Scams

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Replacing or repairing a roof is a costly undertaking – one that for many homeowners has been marred by disreputable roofing contractors. To avoid roofing scams, follow these tips, courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety (IBHS):

1. Research roofing contractors diligently before hiring one. Consult the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and search for reviews and ratings online. Avoid contractors who have generated complaints, lawsuits, etc.

2. Confirm all credentials before hiring a contractor. A reputable roofing professional will be licensed, insured and bonded, and will be able to provide locally-based references. Request to review their license number, federal tax identification number, and certificate of insurance – a qualified professional will provide them. Fact-check this information with the appropriate authorities.

3. Get detailed estimates (in writing!) from contractors you’re considering hiring – more than one is best.

4. Do not enter into an agreement with a roofing contractor who solicits business at your doorstep, particularly after a storm. This could be a sign of an imposter.

5. Exercise caution when dealing with contracts. Be sure to read and re-read all documents, or have a third party review them with you, before signing them. Do not sign a contract with missing information – a fraudster may fill these blanks with inaccurate information. Do not feel pressured to sign a contract on the spot.

Most importantly, never pay upfront in full for roofing work. Scammers will make off with the money, never to be seen again.

Water Heater Replacements a Good Bet in Modern Energy-efficient Driven Market

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When considering purchasing a home, prospective buyers often have a long list of questions they’d like answered before making a final decision. And, with more buyers being energy-conscious today, they may be put off by large energy, heating and water bills that are a direct result of old systems and non energy-efficient offerings.

While savvy house hunters will most certainly ask about the age and condition of the basic systems and appliances in your home, it’s important to think carefully about which upgrades make the most sense before placing your home on the market.

One change to strongly consider is the water heater. If your unit is anywhere between 10 – 15 years old, upgrading can be a big improvement, catching the attention of a prospective buyer. New models are up to 20 percent more efficient and can save up to $700 in energy costs over the life of the unit. Of course, it’s always a good idea to research your options before choosing a replacement.

The most popular water heaters today are electric, but those running on fuel, geothermal energy, propane, solar energy and gas are also available. Conventional water heaters have a large tank that stores hot water for future use, while tankless water heaters heat water directly when needed, reducing both storage and heating costs.

Currently, five categories of water heater are designated as Energy Star rated, including high-performance gas storage, whole-home gas tankless, advanced drop-in or integrated heat pump, solar and gas condensing. For each type of water heater, the Energy Star rating can help you determine just how energy efficient a model is.

According to Energy.gov, the type of water heater you choose may affect your water heating costs. For instance, an electric heat pump water heater is typically more energy efficient than an electric conventional storage water heater, however, an electric heat pump water heater might have lower energy costs than a gas-fired conventional storage water heater because of its higher efficiency.

Even if your water heater is currently working, if it’s an older, inefficient model, you could reap real cost benefits by replacing it with a more energy efficient one.

Adding an energy efficient water heater and maintaining it properly before you put your house on the market will help reduce energy bills significantly and attract more buyers. Keep yourself out of hot water and make a change that can only benefit your sale.

For more information about water heaters, contact our office today.

By Keith Loria

HUD Awards $42 Million of Counseling to Those with Housing Needs

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded more than $42 million in housing counseling grants to hundreds of national, regional and local organizations to help families and individuals with their housing needs and to prevent future foreclosures. HUD’s housing counseling grants and the additional funding they leverage will assist more than 1.4 million households find housing, make more informed housing choices, or keep their current homes.

June is National Homeownership Month, a time HUD recognizes how homeownership enhances lives and contributes to thriving communities. “Dare to Own the Dream” is the theme of this month-long recognition, reinforcing the long-held belief that owning a home remains one of the cornerstones of the American Dream. The grants awarded were announced at a White House gathering to mark National Homeownership Month.

HUD Secretary Julián Castro says, “Housing counselors provide potential homeowners with the tools they need to ensure they’re ready and responsible. Their efforts give countless families a real shot at the American Dream of homeownership. The counseling organizations HUD supports are on the front lines in providing the full spectrum of services households need – from locating affordable rental housing, offering advice on how to become a homeowner, and preventing foreclosure.”

More than $40 million will directly support the housing counseling services provided by 31 national and regional organizations, five multi-state organizations, 17 State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs) and 181 local housing counseling agencies. In addition, HUD is awarding $2 million to four national organizations to train housing counselors who will receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs.

National and regional agencies distribute much of HUD’s housing counseling grant funding to community-based organizations that assist low- and moderate-income families to improve their housing conditions. In addition, these larger organizations help improve the quality of housing counseling services and enhance coordination among counseling providers.

Counseling improves housing outcomes for homebuyers, homeowners, and renters. Last month, HUD published research findings summarizing the impact of housing counseling has on families’ housing options and choices. In addition, recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Urban Institute continues to find substantial benefits to housing counseling for families who purchase their first homes and those struggling to prevent foreclosure.

Grant recipients address the full range of families’ housing counseling needs. This includes helping homebuyers evaluate their readiness for a home purchase, understand their financing and down payment options, and navigate what can be an extremely confusing and difficult home-buying process. The organization also helps households find affordable rental housing and offers financial literacy training to individuals and families struggling to repair credit problems that restrict their housing options.

In addition to providing counseling to homeowners and renters, these organizations assist homeless persons in finding the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live. Finally, grantees also assist senior citizens seeking reverse mortgages. These agencies provide counseling for the rapidly growing number of elderly homeowners who seek to convert equity in their homes into income that can be used to pay for home improvements, medical costs, and other living expenses.

Housing counseling agencies support fair housing by assisting borrowers in reviewing their loan documentation, to avoid potential mortgage scams, unreasonably high interest rates, inflated appraisals, unaffordable repayment terms, and other conditions that can result in a loss of equity, increased debt, default, and even foreclosure. Likewise, foreclosure prevention counseling helps homeowners facing delinquency or default employ strategies, including expense reduction, negotiation with lenders and loan servicers, and loss mitigation, to avoid foreclosure.

For more information, visit www.hud.gov.