Home Décor Trends in 2019 – Part 1

We’re nearing the end of the first month of the new year, and the popular home décor trends in 2019 are already becoming clear. If you’re looking for an inside home improvement project while it’s chilly out, this series will provide a few ideas for different areas of your house that can keep your home current and up to date. Let’s start with the walls….

Living Coral

For the past 20 years, the Color of the Year from Pantone plays a strong role in multiple industries from packing to fashion to home decorating/design. For 2019, Pantone’s Color of the Year is Living Coral. Siting that it symbolizes “our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits,” Pantone believes “Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.” With all that in one color, you may see it several places throughout 2019 in addition to where it fits into your home.


It’s not just for hot dogs anymore! A few years ago, a brighter, sunshine yellow (paired with shades of grey) was a common color. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the color of mustard could easily be spotted in home and office décor as well as fashion. Through time, it faded as a trend and resigned to just being a condiment. Now, everything old is new again. As an accent color or the chosen color of a large furniture piece, mustard is making a comeback this year. Not to go it alone, it’s often paired with jewel tones such as teal or emerald green.Pop of the color of Mustard

The Dark Side
While the Pantone Color of the Year and the above-mentioned mustard are both on the brighter side, balance is key. Many believe homeowners will also give in to their dark side in 2019. Both professional and novice home decorators are using navy, forest green and even black on cabinets (we’ll get to the kitchen shortly) as well as entire walls. The darker hues can offer a much-needed relaxing and comforting atmosphere to a room.


If painting isn’t your thing, perhaps wallpaper offers a better solution. There can be an underlying fear of wallpaper. It gives the impression of a huge commitment – because of the time it takes to install and difficulty you encounter if you decide you don’t like it. Still, it can offer shapes and designs that help your room foster the perfect ambience. Also, if you have a rental property (or haven’t quite made the move from renting to buying), removable wallpaper opens a new world to you. What once was impossible for temporary living situations is not a reality. This can also be a good idea for children’s rooms whose tastes and interests may change as they grow older. The new “easier” options make it a popular choice.

No Walls At All
For several years now, open concept homes have been very popular. With the kitchen opening up into the living room and then into the dining room, it’s helped create a sense of togetherness. Sometimes, there’s been too much togetherness. A growing option is to create some division without actual walls. Glass or steel room dividers provide designated spaces without complete separation. These options still allow the airiness of an open concept and the light to flow throughout while providing privacy and blocking some noise.

In part two, we’ll take you to the bathroom…

Chad Peterson
Senior Vice President, Communications

December 2018 Housing Market Recap

After 2 months of steady gains, existing home sales dropped in December. Sales fell in all four regions, but prices continued to climb, as they have for almost 7 years. The pace of sales was slower than it was in November, and slower than a year ago. Inventory was down from the previous month, but it remained higher than the previous December. The December 2018 Housing Market Recap contains mixed news, but the increase in inventory is a bright spot for buyers.

December existing home sales fell 6.4 percent from November, and were 10.3 percent lower than December 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) December Existing Home Sales Report, released January 22nd.

Inventory decreased from November to December, but increased year-over-year. At the current sales pace, the supply of unsold inventory was 3.7 months, up from 3.2 months a year ago.

Home prices continued to increase year-over-year. The median price of existing homes sold in December was $253,600, an increase of 2.9 percent from December 2017 ($246,500). We’ve now reached 82 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

Days on the market (DOM) were up from November, moving from 42 to 46. A year ago, homes typically stayed on the market for 40 days, so the sales pace is slower year-over-year.

According to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, “Several consecutive months of rising inventory is a positive development for consumers and could lead to slower home price appreciation,” says Yun. “But there is still a lack of adequate inventory on the lower-priced points and too many in upper-priced points.”

Regions: Sales down across the country. Year-over-year and month-over-month, sales fell. Comparing December to November, sales fell 11.2 percent in the Midwest, 6.8 percent in the Northeast, 5.4 percent in the South, and 1.9 percent in the West. The Northeast led year-over-year price increases at 8.2 percent, followed by the South at 2.5 percent and the West at 0.2 percent, while the Midwest was unchanged. Chico, CA took the top spot on the hottest metro areas list (measured by days on the market/listing views per property). The rest of the December Top 10 were Midland, TX, Odessa, TX, Columbus, OH, Fort Wayne, IN, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA, Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade CA, Colorado Springs, CO, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH, and Stockton-Lodi, CA.

Inventory increases are positive for buyers. It’s slow going, and not spread evenly across price ranges, but the year-over-year increase in inventory is good news for buyers. Are you thinking of buying a home this year? Consider a broad search, including homes that might need renovation. A not-perfect home in a neighborhood you love may be the right home for you. The Crosby Team at First Choice Loan Services Inc. can explain your home loan options, including a purchase + renovation loan. Happy hunting!

Timothy M. Sheahan, Jr.
Executive Vice President | Secondary Marketing

Up On The Roof

When thinking of features you love about your home, rarely does the roof come to mind. We often think about the updating the kitchen, adding a bathroom and redoing the floors, but what is up on the roof frequently is forgotten (until a leak or other trouble arises). However, investing in the roof for your home can not only enhance the look of your property but can also add longevity of your home.

Asphalt Shingles

With an organic or fiberglass base, Due to the easy installation, lower cost and passable life expectancy, asphalt shingles can be found on roughly 80% of all homes.

•In areas where the weather can change drastically, these tend to crack.
•As they are made from weaker material than other options, asphalt shingles become more damaged more quickly than other option.
•While the life expectancy is decent, it tends to be shorter than that compared of others, lasting anywhere from 15 to 40 years.

•Asphalt shingles tend to be the most affordable roofing option, running approximately $5 per square foot. This largely depends on the type of shingle material chosen and the regional labor cots.*
•If you’re an experienced “do-it-yourself” type of home owner, the installation process may be within your scope.
•You’ll find a good variety of colors, styles and sizes of this form of roofing.
•More recent versions of asphalt shingles meet Energy Star standards, helping you save on electric bills.

Slate Roof

Slate roofs are made from actual stone pulled from rock quarries.

•Installation requires a professional and costs run a wide (and high) range of prices, beginning with estimates at $10 per square foot and going up to $75 per square foot.*
•Due to the specialization required for this roofing style, if repairs are ever needed, they can be costly.
•Like tile roofs, slate roofs can be quite heavy so your house must be able to hold the additional weight.

•This tends to be the most durable type of roof.
•Slate roofs can last 100 years or more, so while the installation costs may be high, that might be the only penny you spend on your roof.

Standing-Seam Metal Roof

These roofs are made of large panels of steel, aluminum, copper or zinc. They are laid with seams overlapping; the raised ridges align vertically with the slope of the roof.

•Installation is not a “do-it-yourself” process; professional services will need to be used.
•The look is specific and doesn’t necessarily fit the aesthetic of every style of home.
•When rain and/or hail storms hit, the roof can create more noise than other options.

•Installation costs run lower than other options, depending on the material used. Steel or aluminum can run $10 per square foot. Zinc can be $13 per square foot. Copper can reach up to $18 per square foot.*
•The life of a standing-seam metal roof can typically last from 30 to 50 years. Depending on when you purchased the home and the roof was installed, this could outlast your time in the home.
•A standing-seam metal roof tends to serve houses in zones known for wildfires well.
•This type of roof is known to be durable and typically free of maintenance concerns.

Tile Roofs – Cement or Clay

Primarily a choice for homes in California, Florida and the southwest region, roofs made of clay or cement tiles are sturdy and strong. Installed in overlapping layers, the tiles are typically made of terracotta clay or ceramic tiles from fired clay.

•Professional installation is required and can be pricier than other options; estimates are $10 per square foot for concrete tiles, $15 to $20 per square foot for terracotta tiles, $20 per square foot for Spanish clay tiles, and $20 to $30 per square foot for ceramic tiles.*
•Your house must be able to hold the additional weight; they tend to be heavier than other roofing selections.

•Tile roof roofing tends to open up more color options.
•Repairs are made relatively easier than other roof styles by sealing or filling cracks or holes with plastic roofing cement or prying up the broken tile and replacing it.
•When well maintained, this roof style can last 100 years or more which will outlast most home owners.

Wood Shingles

Are you sitting down? Wood shingles are shingles made out of – wood (shocking, right?). Cedar, redwood or yellow pine are more commonly used.

•If you live in an area with a high fire risk (or just don’t want to increase that worry), wood shingles might not be your best choice.
•The look of your home may not be the best match for this style.
•Since this is not a “do-it-yourself” project, professional services will be needed.
•The lifespan for a wood shingle roof runs 25 to 30 years on average. If you plan to be in your home that long (or purchase the home well into the age of the wood shingle roof), a replacement may be in your future.

•Wood shingles offer a more environmentally friendly option.
•This style is energy-efficient.
•While a bit higher than some options, wood shingles still run lower than others. Running between $6.50 to $11 per square foot, the initial installation costs could seem reasonable.*
•The character wood shingles provide could be the perfect icing on top.

While new roofing can be a costly endeavor, it can be a noticeable investment in your home, both visually and financially. If you would like help investigating this and other renovation projects on your home, contact The Crosby Team at First Choice Loan Services today!

*Prices are provided strictly as estimates. For more accurate and current pricing, please contact your trusted local roofing provider.

Keep Unwanted Visitors Out of Your Home

When you read the title of this blog, did your mind go to certain relatives? Or bugs and beasties? You’re on your own with the relatives (pretend you’re not home), but here are some suggestions for crawling, scurrying, slithering, buzzing intruders and ways to keep unwanted visitors out of your home. If this also describes your unwanted relatives, you have my sympathy, but you’re still on your own.

No Welcome Mat. The first thing to do is eliminate anything that attracts pests, or makes it easy for them to enter your home. Trim trees and shrubs away from your home so there’s no highway for rodents. If you have a woodpile, keep it away from your home. Check for easy access points, such as holes in the roof, gaps in the siding or stucco, and open dryer vents. Ants and rodents love sugar and crumbs, so keep your kitchen clean and store food in sturdy containers. Make sure your trash is in a container with a tight-fitting lid, and keep it in the garage if you can. Trash left outside will invite attention from rodents, dogs, coyotes – yes, even in urban areas – and even curious crows.

Exclusionary Tactics. Now that you’ve identified potential trouble spots, it’s time to get to work. Seal cracks and gaps, and install door sweeps. Make sure your window and door screens are hole-free and fit properly. Stuffing cracks and crevices with steel wool or copper mesh works well to keep rodents at bay, but depending on the size of the gap or hole, you may need more extensive measures. These might include new roof shingles, a properly installed dryer or kitchen fan vent, or wood cut to the right dimensions and secured with sturdy nails and caulk. One more tip. If a squirrel should happen to fall down your chimney while you’re on vacation, you will think that sooty-footed vandals have trashed your home. (Little known fact: A hungry, thirsty squirrel will eat ground coffee and drink balsamic vinegar.) Close the flue, make sure the spark arrestor is in good shape, and don’t ask me how I know this.

Removal. It’s going to happen. Mice will get into your house, especially if someone leaves a door open when you go on vacation (but that’s another story). Ants will appear as if by magic. Giant horrifying malevolent centipedes will stalk you at night. (Really. I know they are out to get me.) Snakes will sneak in – I don’t know why. Squirrels will fall down the chimney. What to do? I confess I used to go for the nuclear option every time. Now I take a more measured approach. Living in a rural area of the Southwest, I’ve learned that kitchen tongs work for both centipede and (non-venomous) snake removal. (I also speak to them sternly about staying outside.) I don’t use glue traps for mice, but a snap trap is fast and effective. Ants sometimes leave as mysteriously as they arrive, but there are times when I use a pesticide. I keep something pet-friendly on hand and use as little as possible.

Pest Inspection. If you are buying a home, consider a pest inspection. This is particularly important if you live in termite country, and it’s a requirement for VA loans. A pest inspection may cover more than creepy crawlies, and extend to dry rot and black mold. Be sure to ask the inspector what’s included. As with any service, make sure the inspector has any required state/local licenses or certificates, look for online reviews, and check the Better Business Bureau. Your Realtor® will probably have recommendations, and if you’re getting a VA loan, there will be a list of approved inspectors. In addition, when you are thinking of selling, an inspection will alert you to anything you need to remedy before you list your home.

A final caution. Be vigilant. If you notice that pieces of your garden hose are missing, bits of shiny objects are lying in your yard, and strange piles of sticks, debris, and leaves have appeared, seek professional help. Trust me. Packrats are not your friends.

Jane Burns
Content Manager, Marketing/Communications

Does a New Year Mean a New Home?

Very soon, we’ll be entering a new year. It’s an exciting time that can lead you to reflect on your personal and professional goals and ambitions. While taking inventory of where you are and where you want to go, why not use the time to think about your current living situation. Does a new year mean a new home?

When deciding if it’s time to expand your living situation, here are a few aspects to consider.

More Heads, More Beds

Has the number of people living in your home increased?
Have you added a baby? Sharing a room with a sibling may work for a while, but after a certain age, bunk beds and splitting a closet may be more difficult.
Has an elderly parent moved in with you? Multigenerational living is very common now and offers a strong alternative to senior residential communities or nursing homes.
Did a child return from college (aka, “boomerang kids”)? You may have changed their room to a study after they left for school. In the 4 (or 5… or 6…) years that they’ve been away, you’ve grown accustomed to the new space. You may not want to convert it back to their bedroom. If one or more of these situations happened, you may find the number of bedrooms in your current house not to be sufficient.

Work Related

Since you purchased your home, your job situation may be different. Maybe you work for a completely different company or your employer moved to a new location. In either case, the commute you had to work on the day you closed on your home may be considerably longer than it is now. Sometimes the investment of time and money involved in going to and from work justifies looking for a living situation closer to your professional home.

Get Social

Perhaps you purchased your home before really knowing your town. Not every neighborhood is the perfect fit. Do you feel comfortable with your neighbors? On top of that, is the location of your neighborhood conducive to the social life you desire? Some folks enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with the outskirts of the city but purchased a home in a crowded area. Conversely, some buy a home in the suburbs when they really prefer to enjoy what’s happening downtown. Did you buy a home far from where you like to spend your leisure time? It might be time to relocate closer to how you recharge your soul.

Let Me Entertain You

Speaking of being social, some people love hosting parties. Fourth of July backyard cookouts, Halloween soirees, winter holiday festivities… whatever the season, they find a reason to invite friends and family over to celebrate. However, not every home is designed to entertain. A small or even no backyard can make the cookouts difficult. A lack of convenient parking can make Halloween get-togethers challenging. Not having enough room for great Christmas décor and guests can make holiday parties pointless. If you need space to spread your inner Martha Stewart, it might be time to look for a new home.

The Bottom Line

You may not be motivated to move to a new home for personal, social or professional reasons. It may just come down to the numbers. A variety of factors could directly affect your neighborhood and property. In some cases, the changes could increase your property value. Other influencing events could possibly decrease your property value. The tricky part is that you frequently and most likely do not have control over these aspects. Keeping tabs on them, however, helps you stay aware of the level of equity that exists in your home and assists you in knowing when it might be a good time to stay or when it might be a beneficial time to move.

In every way, we want the new year to be a prosperous one. As you look at your homeownership needs for 2019 and beyond, remember that the trusted Crosby Team at First Choice Loan Services is eager and excited to help!

James Iley
Executive Vice President, National Production

Avoid These Six Rookie Mistakes

Buying your first home is a major milestone and a life-changing event. It’s also unfamiliar territory, with new terminology, contractual obligations, and important decisions that have to be mastered, met and made in a short period of time. Get ahead of the game so that you can avoid these six rookie mistakes.

Not Even Starting. You want to buy a house but you’ve heard that there’s no way you can qualify for a loan. Your credit score isn’t high enough. You don’t have enough saved for a down payment. You’re self-employed. Unless you heard this from a mortgage loan originator who analyzed your income, assets and credit, don’t believe it. Just because a friend or family member said that you need a certain credit score or a certain percentage of a home’s sale price as a cash down payment doesn’t make it so. Get the facts by meeting with a mortgage loan originator. (Of course, I’d recommend you choose RJ Crosby from First Choice Loan Services Inc.)

Looking For Houses Before Discussing Financing. The exciting part of buying a home is finding the house (or condo or townhouse). The home loan? Not so much. But here’s the deal. Unless you know how much you can afford, you are setting yourself up for disappointment when you fall in love with a home you can’t buy. In addition, a good Realtor® will insist that you have your financing organized before you look so you can focus on the right properties. Start by meeting with The Crosby Team.

Working Without A Realtor®. The internet is a wonderful thing. You can look at thousands of properties. You can take detailed virtual tours. You can research cities and neighborhoods down to the micro level. Why bother to have a Realtor® represent you? First, a knowledgeable real estate professional will help you narrow your search to properties that you like and can afford. Second, the purchasing process is complicated, so you need someone who understands contractual language and deadlines. Third, you will need other professionals, like a home inspector. Realtors® have contacts and can make recommendations. Finally, real estate transactions are human interactions. Negotiations may become heated. There may be after-sale issues. You need someone experienced, levelheaded, and tenacious to fight in your corner.

Ignoring Your Loan Originator’s Advice. When your loan originator tells you how much you can borrow, and what loan program(s) will work for you, you’ll also hear what you need to do to maintain your ability to take out the loan. Listen carefully and follow the instructions to the letter. If you change jobs or even the way you are compensated at your job (salary to commission, for example), or you open a new credit account, or you deposit a large sum of money into your bank account, you may wreck your deal. Always check with your loan originator first.

Letting Your Heart Rule Your Head. When you fall in love with a home, you may ignore warning signals that would normally make you pause. You may gloss over things that, if you saw them at a friend’s house, would make you wonder why they put up with them. Think of your home as a long-term relationship and consider carefully before you commit.

Not Budgeting For Expenses. When you’re a renter and the pipes burst, the furnace dies, or the roof leaks, you call the manager or property owner. When you own a home, that’s you! Remember also that if you take out a fixed rate loan, insurance and property taxes will probably (almost certainly) increase over the years, so while your principal and interest payment will be stable, you’ll need more money for those items. Make sure you understand the ongoing costs of homeownership, and be prepared to set money aside for both expected – and unexpected – expenses.

Ready? What’s your first step? Call The Crosby Team with First Choice Loan Services Inc. today!

Paul Heckman
Executive Vice President, Operations

Don’t Make it Harder to Sell Your Home

There’s an old expression: One man’s meat is another man’s poison. To put it another way, your dream home may be someone else’s nightmare. Worse, your choices could make it difficult to sell your home. It’s hard to think of selling a home you haven’t even purchased, but here are some things to consider before you buy. If you own a home and are thinking of remodeling, some will apply to you too; all are designed so you don’t make it harder to sell your home.

School House Rocks? If you have children, you may like the idea of living close to their school. You could walk them to school, and when they are old enough, they might be able to walk by themselves. Schools also bring bells, traffic, noise, and kids. Lots and lots of kids. When you have school age children, you’ll probably take it for granted that there will be buses and playground noise, but that may be a turn-off for some buyers.

Too Busy. You want to wake up in a city that never sleeps. You enjoy walking to the grocery, the coffee shop and the hip new diner. If you need a car, you’ll rent one. However, there’s a difference between living in a cool urban area and a gridlocked crush. Check out the neighborhoods you like at different times of day so you can see the traffic patterns and gauge the noise.

Over-Improved. You love your house and you don’t want to move, so you decide to renovate. Look at your neighborhood before you embark on that epic spa bathroom and the professional kitchen. Make sure you don’t do so much to your home that it no longer fits in. Remember, you don’t want the most expensive house on the block when it’s time to sell.

Cool At The Pool. When you live in Phoenix or Fort Lauderdale, a pool is a no-brainer. In some neighborhoods, you’ll be at a disadvantage if you don’t have one. In a cooler climate, it can be a drawback, and the number of days you can use it will be limited by the weather. Pools are expensive, too. They require cleaning, maintenance and security measures. If you must have a pool, enjoy it, but remember that you are unlikely to break even on your investment when it’s time to sell.

Idiosyncratic décor. Yes, Ultra Violet was the 2018 color of the year. Yes, it’s a very striking color. But a little goes a long way. Similarly, one interior wall of varnished pine may be charmingly rustic. An entire house (true example and it wasn’t a log cabin) will send most buyers running, or at the very least result in a lower offer as they look forward to hours of sanding and gallons of paint to cover that shine. Are you a collector? Your delightful display of vintage salt and pepper shakers may require walls of shelves that will obscure the room. Enjoy your collection, but be ready to pack it away and remove the shelves before you put your home on the market.

One bathroom. One bathroom was the norm for many years. It was a great improvement on a cold tap in the kitchen and an outdoor privy! Now, people look for 2 or more baths. If you find a home you love with only one bath, consider renovating immediately with a purchase + renovation loan. When it’s time for you to sell, you’ll be ahead of the game. As a bonus, if other homes in your neighborhood haven’t added a second bath, your home should be more desirable. Just remember not to overdo it.

Dated. I haven’t seen a big demand for 1970s kitchens yet, and even people who love Victorian architecture tend to want kitchens and baths with the latest in fixtures and appliances (although they might look vintage). If you’re thinking of selling, look online at houses in your area and go to some open houses if you can. See how your home measures up, and consult your Realtor® about changes to improve your chance of a quick sale at a fair price.

Dave Lewis
Senior Vice President, Renovation

Holiday Theme Party Ideas

The holiday season is full. Full of joy. Full of love. And full of activities. For those who are brave, in addition to all that is already going on, some decide to host a holiday party. Between the decorating, shopping and cooking, it can be a lot. If you’re throwing a festive holiday get-together this season, here are a few holiday party theme ideas to help you.

Elf It Up. Yes, Halloween was not long ago, so you may feel costumed-out. But, if you didn’t get your fill of theme parties, why not throw an elf-themed party? If you have bold friends, have them come dressed as elves, stripped tights and all. If you want to let them show off their winter wardrobe, then you can just provide them elf-inspired head gear. Use an online elf name generator and make name tags for your attendees. As all good elves do, have your guests bring a toy. Donate those that are collected to a local toy drive. Have one area of your event decorated with a great background for pictures so that people can take plenty of #elfies.

Crafty Contests. Start the night in the kitchen. Have an area of cookie decorating where your attendees can create their own special batch of cookies. Provide various colors of icing and toppings so that they can decorate their cookies however they like. Offer different cookie cutter shapes to choose. While those are baking, move from Top Chef to Project Runway. Anyone can throw an ugly Christmas Sweater party, but how about *making* ugly sweaters? There are kits available, and you can also purchase additional supplies to provide more options. Have a contest and allow people to vote for a winner. Don’t let the creativity stop there.

Colors. Maybe you want less activities and more socializing. That’s perfect. To help make your holiday party stand out from the others, though, encourage your guests to arrive wearing certain colors. Consider a Candy Cane Striped Night. Ask your guests to wear all red and white. You’ll find plenty of paper plates and cups that will help carry the color scheme throughout. For an added touch, have all the presents under your tree wrapped in red and white. Of course, you can cut the red entirely and have your own White Christmas. Again, asking your guests to arrive in all white outfits. You’ll find plenty of white ornaments to decorate your tree (with white lights, of course). Feeling crazy, add some shiny translucent items throughout your space. (You can have a Blue Christmas too with the same ideas.)

Turn Up the Heat. You’ve heard about Christmas in July… what about July in Christmas? Throw a Mele Kalikimaka party and have your guest dress for the beach… Hawaiian shirts, shorts, flips flops and all. Serve piña coladas and other light summer hors d’oeuvres. Don’t forget the leis!

Whichever direction you decide to take your holiday party, we hope above everything else it is full of joy and merriment. Don’t allow hosting a party to cast a cloud of stress over you. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with those you love, so be sure if you’re throwing a party that YOU have fun too!

Chad Peterson
Senior Vice President, Communications

October 2018 Housing Market Recap

Our October 2018 Housing Market Recap shows existing home sales rose nationally for the first time in 6 months. Sales increased in 3 of the 4 US regions, with only the Midwest dropping slightly. Prices continued their steady climb, as they have for well over 6 years. The pace of sales was slower than it was in September, but still faster than a year ago. As you might expect with an increase in sales, inventory was down from the previous month, but it’s important to note that it is still higher than the previous October.

October existing home sales rose 1.4 percent from September, but are 5.1 percent lower than October 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) October Existing Home Sales Report, released November 21st.

Inventory decreased from September to October, but increased year-over-year. At the current sales pace, the supply of unsold inventory was 4.3 months, up from 3.9 months a year ago.

Home prices continued to increase year-over-year. The median price of existing homes sold in October was $255,400, an increase of 3.8 percent from October 2017 ($246,000). We’ve now reached 80 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

Days on the market (DOM) were up from September, moving from 32 to 33. A year ago, homes typically stayed on the market for 34 days, so the sales pace is slightly faster year-over-year.

According to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, “As more inventory enters the market and we head into the winter season, home price growth has begun to slow more meaningfully,” said Yun. “This allows for much more manageable, less frenzied buying conditions.”

Regional trends showed little variation. Year-over-year, prices rose but sales fell. Month-over-month, only the Midwest showed a drop in sales. Comparing October to September, sales were strongest in the West (up 2.8 percent), followed by the South (1.9 percent) and the Northeast (1.5 percent), with the Midwest lagging behind with a drop of 0.8 percent. The South led the year-over-year price increases at 3.8 percent, followed by the Northeast at 3.0 percent, the Midwest at 2.4 percent, and the West at 1.9 percent. Midland, TX remained at the top of the hottest metro areas list (measured by days on the market/listing views per property). Interestingly, there was no change from September in the Top 10, as Midland was followed by Fort Wayne, IN, Odessa, TX, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH, Columbus, OH, Colorado Springs, CO, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA, Janesville-Beloit, WI, Boise City, ID, and Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN.

Should you buy or sell over the holidays? December is almost here, and with it the holiday whirl of parties, shopping, family, friends, and travel. Some people think they should wait until spring to list their home or start looking for one, but if you have the stamina – or the need – this time of year offers advantages for both buyers and sellers. Sellers will find motivated, serious buyers and less competition from other sellers. Buyers will find – you guessed it – serious sellers and less competition from other buyers. It can be a win-win, but you need every advantage. My advice remains the same. Do your homework online. Work with an experienced Realtor® who knows your market, and if you need one we are happy to refer one of our trusted Realtor® partners. Remember, if you’re buying, get your financing lined up first by talking to RJ Crosby with First Choice Loan Services Inc.

Timothy M. Sheahan, Jr.
Executive Vice President | Secondary Marketing

A Grateful Family

During this season of Thanksgiving, we wanted to share a few reasons why members of our First Choice Family are thankful. Their words paint a picture of why we are a grateful family.

“Grateful to have my health, family, a home, and employment”
– Thomas Babigian | Senior Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS#: 7989 | Westborough, MA

“I am thankful for my family, the support and love of my wife, the love of my children, and for my friends and co-workers who have always have been there for me.”
– Joe Baio | Senior Vice President, Collateral Services | NMLS#: 1116466

“What I am thankful for this year is Family, the ones we are born into and the ones that we choose like the family here at First Choice.”
– Heidi Berryhill | Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS#: 1561339 | Long Beach, CA

“I’m thankful for my new addition to our family, Jack, our Irish Doodle.”
– Lori Black-Taylor | Sales Assistant | NMLS#: 773228 | Auburn, AL

“I am grateful for the ability to love unconditionally that I inherited from my mother and for the family and friends I love fiercely with that unconditional love.”
– Aimee Box | Senior FHA Insurer | East Brunswick, NJ

“I am grateful for my job, family and especially my husband.”
– Kendall Brown | Jr. Processor | San Diego, CA

“I am forever grateful for my family and our support for one another. I am truly blessed with the amazing work family at First Choice.”
– Terry Chung | Senior Vice President, Business Solutions

“I am most grateful for being alive to see my grandchildren and my youngest daughter go to college. My health and good friends.”
– Tracie Deskins | Shipper | East Brunswick, NJ

“I am thankful for time, both yesterday and today. I am thankful for the opportunity to love and serve all the people in my life.”
– Yolanda Esquer | Jr. Loan Processor | Scottsdale, AZ

“There are a lot of things I could list, such as: my job, bills paid, food on the table and so forth. But this year, I have to say, it has been a trying one, with the new house purchase. We have run into a few issues with the house, and when each one seemed like it was going to be too much, assistance appeared, and the end result taken care of with almost minimal cost. I am extremely grateful for that. With so many people out in the cold or losing homes due to jobs being lost, extra income being lost, or some other misfortune, I truly am grateful, I have a roof over my head. I am also grateful for the assistance that has come our way. We could not have made the repairs without their help or knowledge. So, this year, I am saying an extra prayer for our blessings we have received, and for all of FCLS employees have a wonderful Thanksgiving too.”
– Amy Forsman | Processor | Westborough, MA

“I am very thankful to all of the people that work here at First Choice Loan Services. They make me feel like I’m part of the family which means a lot to me and my family.”
– Jerry Frye | Branch Manager | NMLS#: 173762 | Dallas, TX

“I am grateful for good health, my wonderful husband and loving children as well as my extended family!”
– Jen Goldstein | Vice President, Accounting | East Brunswick, NJ

“I’m grateful for my health because truly, Health is Wealth (as cliché as that sounds). To me, being healthy means; being able to live out your best life.”
– Joy Grajo | Underwriter | East Brunswick, NJ

“I’m grateful for God, my family, good health and my job!”
– Emilee Harris | Underwriter | Addison, TX

“I am thankful for the health and time God has given me. 4 years cancer free.”
– Fernando Hernandez | Quality Assurance Analyst | East Brunswick, NJ

“I am most grateful for my family, and all of their continued good health.”
– James Iley | Executive Vice President, National Production

“I am thankful for propel with open hearts and minds.”
– Barry Jones | VP, Regional Manager | NMLS#: 212497 | Auburn, AL

“I am grateful. As I am blessed with a wonderful supportive family both at home and at work that are an absolute joy to be around. I am grateful so be surrounded by so much Love.”
– Jaime Joyner | Branch Manager | NMLS#: 373182 | Concord, CA

“As a mother of seven awesome people, its pretty obvious what I am thankful for. I would like to say, I feel extremely blessed for all the wonderful people that come into my life daily and believe in me and fill my life up with Respect, Love and Joy. Thankful to be excited with the opportunities I have in front of me everyday.”
– Kim Kerns | Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS#: 1748728 | Auburn, AL

“While I’m always thankful for my job here at First Choice Loan Services and being a part of the great work family that we have while being able to provide for my family, without question Kellie, Jake and Jordan and their continuous good health and happiness is what fulfills me the most!”
– Darren Kidder | Senior Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS#: 52922 | Costa Mesa, CA

“I’m forever grateful for my family, my girlfriend Kristy, our First Choice Loan Services family, and the men and women who sacrifice their lives each and everyday to protect our freedom.”
– Norman T. Koenigsberg | Senior Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer

“I am thankful for an amazing work family.”
– Sarah Lauman | Processor | Southampton, PA

“I am always thankful for my family, work family, friends & good health. However this year our family is especially thankful for this little gem……… my granddaughter ( aka the light of my life).”
– Ann Marie Lepore | Senior Vice President, Closing & Funding

“I thank God for all my families: church family, work family and my home family. I am thankful that we all have each other to lean on and share all our happy times and not so happy times and know that they will be with me always.”
– Frank Leyva | Branch Manager | NMLS#: 201664 | Riverside, CA

“I am thankful for the Lord who sent His only son to cover my sins so that I may have eternal life with the great Almighty.”
– Ted Matosich | Senior Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS#: 39903 | Consumer Direct

“I am grateful for the wonderful, supportive people I have in my life. Friends and Family are my true blessing.”
– Raya Mercey | Processor | Westborough, MA

“When it comes to grateful thoughts mine are simple… the roof over my head, the food in my cupboards and my job. I am sincerely grateful for our company.”
– Lisa Nonemaker | Senior Processor | Consumer Direct

“Honestly, I am thankful for this job!”
– Tami Nugent | Appraisal Coordinator | East Brunswick NJ

“I am grateful for my family. I have a new great nephew, and my brother-in-law is doing good with his cancer treatments. We are all here for one another.”
– Susan Papa | Shipping Department | East Brunswick, NJ

“I am most grateful to God for letting me see another Thanksgiving season with my family and having my son home from the Military for good, having a job, food on my table, good health.”
– Diane Phillips | Senior FHA Insurer | East Brunswick, NJ

“I am thankful for my family, friends, my cats, and good health.”
– Ian Rimerman | Senior Loan Originator | NMLS#: 5215 | Southampton, PA

“I am grateful for my family, friends who are family and a new home for the upcoming holidays.”
– Susan Roemer | Shipper | East Brunswick, NJ

“I am thankful for my struggles because without them I wouldn’t be able to appreciate my triumphs.”
– Siobhan Singh | Senior Vice President, Project Management & Corporate Development

“I am most thankful for my family; they have been there through everything and I am blessed to have them.”
– Shannon Skalski | Assistant Vice President, Post Closing

“SO much to be thankful for…my heart is full. Family and friends, including my work family.”
– Lila Sutherland | Regional Coordinator | San Diego, CA

“I am grateful for my First Choice Loan Services family!”
– Kelly Tong-Berry | Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS#: 1137825 | Danville, CA

“I’m thankful for a loving family, great friends, and the incredible opportunity I have at First Choice!”
– Jeff Wilson | Senior Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS#: 824368 | Consumer Direct