Six Things Real Estate Agents Think You Should Know

1.  Price Competitively

Want to sell your house quickly? Consider setting the price a fraction under market value. This will make your property compelling to potential buyers. For example: If similar homes in your neighborhood are priced at $210,000, consider pricing yours at $200,000 or $198,000 to attract potential buyers.

2. It Doesn’t End at the Preapproval Letter
When buyers get preapproved for a mortgage, frugality is often tossed aside. Buyers sometimes open other lines of credit thinking that they can take that money and run. What they don’t know is that a lender re-examines a buyer’s financial situation just before closing, and could clock the buyer with a higher interest rate if things are worse off than before. Never get new loans or start using credit cards more heavily before closing; better yet, be frugal until a few months after you have closed so that you know how homeownership affects your finances. (more…)

US Postpones Hike of Mortgage Fees

Currently, borrowers seeking loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are set to pay higher upfront fees starting April 1. The fees are meant to help safeguard banks against risky borrowers and were ordered by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) earlier in December. Experts, however, say that it will add thousands of dollars to the cost of mortgages and will hit borrowers with imperfect credit histories especially hard.

On Friday, the incoming chief of the FHFA, Mel Watt, said he intends to postpone the fees — and perhaps even cancel them — until more analysis is done. The mortgage industry has been bracing for 2014, as it is believed that prices will rise in the upcoming year.

Electric Bills by State

Electric Bills by State

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In 2012, Hawaii had the highest electric bills in the US, registering an average monthly bill of $203; New Mexico, on the other hand, registered the lowest bill at $74. Louisiana has the highest consumption of electricity, while Maine has the lowest. This data was released by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), which measures the average price and consumption of residential, commercial, industrial and transportation energy. The agency says that residential consumers account for the highest number of electricity sales and generally pay the highest prices for electricity.

Greiner Hall, UB-Kaleida Building Win Architectural Awards

Greiner Hall, UB-Kaleida Building Win Architectural Awards

Greiner Hall at Sunset on the Noth Campus Photograph: Douglas Levere
From the UB News Center:

The University at Buffalo won two awards from BUILDINGS magazine’s eighth-annual America’s Best Buildings of the Year (ABBY), a contest for commercial and institutional facilities.

William R. Greiner Hall, a residential hall for sophomores on the university’s North Campus, won the grand prize for new construction, while the UB-Kaleida Health building on the Downtown Campus won a merit award in the same category. The latter edifice houses Kaleida Health’s Gates Vascular Institute and UB’s Clinical Translational Research Center (CTRC).

ABBY award-winners “exemplify innovative performance standards for renovation and new construction projects including: energy efficiency; streamlined facility operations; sustainability measures; forward-looking designs; purposeful renovation; and community engagement,” according to the magazine.

Greiner Hall creates a new standard for student living in Buffalo and beyond. Many structural components, including flooring, wall paneling and counters, were developed from rapidly renewable resources. Ninety percent of the interior, which hosts student housing, offices and classrooms, is bathed in natural light.

With guidance from the IDeA Center, the design team integrated features that make the building accessible for students with a much wider range of physical and cognitive abilities than traditional residence halls can typically accommodate. Amenities include roll-in showers that wheelchair users can access easily, and ground level entrances that allow residents to enter without the use of stairs or ramps.

The UB-Kaleida Health building received the merit award for its “cutting edge, 10-story ‘vertical campus.'” The structure is divided into two sections – clinical and research centers – separated by a common space that encourages cooperation between the disciplines.

The building, which includes colorful LED lighting, warm woods and artistic wall fixtures, also features a floor plan that allows for more efficient and economical installations of medical equipment and basic utilities.

The facility was designed by Cannon Design with significant input from UB researchers to maximize collaborations that could lead to medical breakthroughs and inventive treatments.