Are Homeowners Glad They Own?

It might come as a surprise but a whopping 72 percent of surveyed homeowners nationwide are satisfied with owning a home. The other 28 percent, not so. They say they're dissatisfied and that's likely due to the devaluation of their homes.
But surprisingly, of those who were satisfied with owning a home, only 24 percent said it was because of home appreciation. The majority, 76 percent, had many other reasons they were happy to own their own home including the one that proves the American Dream is alive and well: pride of homeownership. Following closely behind were the freedom to control their home improvements and upgrades. All this according to HomeGain's 2012 National Home Ownership Satisfaction Survey.
Of those who were unsatisfied with owning their home, 63 percent blamed depreciation as the root of their dissatisfaction. However, the cost of owning a home, such as paying for property taxes, homeowner's association fees, upkeep, and routine repairs, also sucked the joy out of homeownership and led this group of 37 percent to be unhappy about homeownership.
On the bright side, most - three out of four - are very happy with homeownership even in spite of such rocky real estate times where declines in home values have crippled some homeowners severely.
The survey polled homeowners all across the country. So you might be wondering is there a connection between where you live and how satisfied you are with owning a home?
The highest percentage of satisfied homeowners comes from the Northeast where there is 77-percent satisfaction, according to HomeGain. Pulling in at a close second is the Southeast at 73 percent satisfaction. The West and Midwest were at 71 percent and 68 percent, respectively.
Those who purchased their homes within a timeframe of the past three to eight years were the least satisfied. If they bought more than eight years ago, they tended to be more satisfied.
The higher-end market was the least satisfied with owning a home, especially if they paid more than $800,000 for it. This group's dissatisfaction rate was 69 percent. But those who purchased homes for under $75,000 are cheering. This group's satisfaction rate was 77 percent.
Of course, a lot of homes are sold through foreclosure and short sale, which, depending on the side of the sale you're on, can leave you satisfied or very dissatisfied. Those purchasing a foreclosed or short sale had the highest satisfaction ratings; 79 percent and 83 percent, respectively.
New and existing homes didn't fare so well with homeowners. They were fairly dissatisfied and showed it in a 73 percent and 71 percent rating, respectively. Most seemed to have expected an increase in the value of their home and when depreciation hit, this highly disappointed them, making this the primary reason for their dissatisfaction.
An interesting statistic may reflect the need for freedom from being tied down to a home and its maintenance as well as other costs. Homeowners ranging from 18 to 25 were the least satisfied (45 percent) with owning.
On the other end of the spectrum, those homeowners between 55 to 65, were the most satisfied with their homeownership. This group's satisfaction rating was 76 percent.
HomeGain collected some comments from some of the surveyed homeowners. Here's how one satisfied homeowner summarizes homeownership, "Just knowing I own it. I rented a house two times after owning a home for 16 years, and I do NOT like relying on, and dealing with, a landlord! I also feel pride in owning my home. I just bought a house 8 months ago and am very happy!"

Winter Home Maintenance

It may be cold outside, but it's no time hibernate when it comes to home maintenance. Have you ever wondered how some friends or neighbors live in older homes that are still in good working order? This isn't just a lucky coincidence.
Houses require careful attention, especially in the Winter, in order to keep in good working order. If you take the extra time each season to check your home over and perform the necessary maintenance, then you'll be sure to have a sturdy home for years to come.
First, it's important to keep your family safe and warm when it's chilly outside. Do a twice yearly check on your windows and doors for air leaks. Under most circumstances you can easily fix these with caulking.
Are your windows in need of a more energy efficient upgrade? Have you thought about installing storm windows and doors? These are important questions to ask yourself. If you have older, non-insulated windows it may be time to replace them. You can even deduct some of these upgrades from your incomes taxes!
If you find leaks, then take the necessary action to fix them pronto. You may find that some doors continue to leak air even after you've made them "air-tight." This means it is time for Plan B. Storm doors work wonders for keeping out the elements. Many stores also sell draft blockers that sit at the bottom of you doors.
Next, schedule a time to service your heating system. Central heat and air units need to be checked over. When a unit is well-serviced it will save you fuel and thus money.
If your home is older, then you might consider a trip to the attic to check ductwork. You never know what critter has chewed through ducts or what parts have become disconnected.
While you're in the attic take a hard look at the state of your insulation. Is it adequate for your region? Is ductwork well-insulated? Older homes can sometimes be completely devoid of attic insulation. If so then it's time to bring in some reinforcements. Insulation is relatively inexpensive and can save you big in the long run.
Do you heat using a wood burning fireplace? Is it imperative for your safety to have your chimney cleaned and checked multiple times during the Winter season if you use your fireplace regularly. Chimney fires happen all the time.
There are smaller issues to attend to as well. Did you know that your ceiling fans have two settings for the blades? You want to be sure to reverse your fan in the Winter so that it pushes the hot air (which naturally rises) back down into your living spaces.
Gutters become full of leaves and other debris. If you fail to clean your gutters they can begin to hold water which can eventually rot away the siding and roof of your home.
When the weather drops below freezing you need to keep your pipes from freezing. Let faucets drip and unhook all outdoor hoses.
Finally, every responsible homeowner is stocked with the proper tools. Keep sand or salt on hand to de-ice slipper steps and sidewalks. Invest in a heavy duty snow shovel or snow blower.
Your home is your biggest asset and literally keeps a roof over your head. Be kind and take care even during the chilly Winter months.

Relying On An Agent

The latest NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed a growing trend among recent buyers.
The latest figures show that 89 percent of buyers purchased their home with the help of a real estate or broker. This is a sharp increase from a decade ago in 2001, when only 69 percent of buyers enlisted the help of an agent or broker.
Why do today's buyers buyers choose to work with an agent? Let's look at just a few of the many reasons an agent can be your biggest ally.
First, agents are licensed professionals, which means they had to complete coursework and pass an exam in order to become and agent. They have the education and experience to help you navigate what will be one of the biggest purchases of your life.
They also have access to a wide range of properties and can guide you to those that are the best fit for you, which can save you time and energy. If you are unsure what type of property you're interest in, an agent can help explain the pros and cons of things such as condo life versus single-family detached living.
Where are the up and coming neighborhoods? Which areas are more walkable or have access to better schools? These are all issues an agent deals with daily.
They can also ease the burden of buying by simplifying the process. They set up showings, drive you to appointments if needed, and help you handle the intricacies of negotiations.
Today's market also presents challenges that simply weren't present or didn't dominate the market a decade ago. Buyers are faced with some great deals, but through some complicated channels, such as short sale or foreclosure. How does one handle these sort of contracts? Your agent or broker will know.
According to the NAR, "More than ever home buyers are relying on real estate agents and brokers to help them with their home purchase regardless of whether the home they are buying is a foreclosure, short sale, or even a FSBO sale because they need a real estate agent to help them through the process."
Finally, buyers are unsure if now is really a good time to buy. They need to rely on someone with local market knowledge. Is this a good neighbor to invest in? Are prices still dropping in this community? How long do homes take to sell? What is the median selling price? Buyers want the best deal out there.
The 2011 Profile found that more buyers are opting against dual agency, where the agent represents both the buyer and seller. This could signal that today's buyers are very cautious about getting into the market. While a dual agent isn't supposed to harbor any bias, buyers now want to be extra sure they are getting the best deal possible. In fact, "60 percent of recent buyers had an oral or written arrangement with the real estate agent or broker so that the buyer's agent only represented the buyer and not the seller."
If you are considering entering buying a home this year, be sure to strongly consider using a real estate agent. They could be your biggest ally.