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Mud Rooms, Offices Rank High for Homeowners

October 4, 2016 12:51 am


A mud room and an office come in at the top of homeowners’ wish lists—and a gym and a movie theater have dropped off it, according to the recently released American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey.

“Heavy investment in outdoor living spaces, mud rooms and home offices indicate that consumers are placing a premium on practicality and functionality,” said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, in a statement on the survey. “Things have changed a lot from a decade ago, when home theaters and exercise rooms were some of the most popular ‘special function’ rooms in homes.”

In addition to a mud room, an office and outdoor living space, homeowners are remodeling for a designated guest room (e.g., an Au Pair or in-law suite) and a sun room or three-season porch, according to the survey.

Remodeling for accessibility is also common, though somewhat less so as more new homes are being designed to accommodate “aging in place.” Popular accessibility projects, the survey found, include adding a first-floor master bedroom, an elevator and handles.

“Although accessibility features remain an important issue to homeowners, demand for some of these features has leveled off in the custom residential arena,” Baker said. “As more homes become equipped to handle an aging population of homeowners, less custom work needs to be done to address specific accessibility issues.”

Automated features are in-demand, as well, some with the dual benefit of convenience and energy efficiency. Up-and-coming features that homeowners have begun to request, the survey found, include an air purification system, a backup power generator, an electrical car docking station, solar panels and “super” insulation.

Source: American Institute of Architects (AIA)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Want to Get to Know Your Neighbors? Take Fido for a Stroll

October 3, 2016 12:51 am


Every one of us believes we’re a good neighbor—99 percent of the homeowners recently surveyed by the Community Associations Institute (CAI), that is. According to the CAI survey, most of us believe we possess neighborly characteristics, including being “friendly,” “helpful,” “quiet” and “respectful” of privacy.

Being neighborly goes beyond a passing wave, however. The survey found neighborly behaviors foster a sense of community, with 86 percent of respondents having pride in their neighborhood, and recommending it to those in their circle. Seventy-four percent of respondents routinely participate in social gatherings in their community, as well, while 54 percent volunteer for neighborhood activities and 30 percent take part in neighborhood recreation.

“Across the nation, Americans are demonstrating how to make home more enjoyable—they're volunteering, taking part in their local government, and participating in neighborhood social activities,” says Thomas Skiba, CEO of CAI. “As champions of building better communities, we know there is usually a strong correlation between the level of homeowner involvement and the long-term success of a community.”

Interestingly, 83 percent of respondents become acquainted with their neighbors not at neighborhood events, but while walking their dog. Remember that the next time you move to a new neighborhood!

Considering a move to a new community? Contact me for assistance today!

Source: Community Associations Institute (CAI)

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Just In: Credit Report Change Could Benefit Buyers

October 3, 2016 12:51 am


An upcoming change on credit reports could be beneficial for homebuyers.

Equifax, one of the nation’s three leading credit reporting bureaus, recently announced the addition of up to two years of debt balance and repayment history on its credit reports. The change became effective Sept. 24, 2016.

The change, Equifax stated in a release, will impart heightened understanding of creditworthiness as it relates to approval of a loan. Recent research out of Fannie Mae shows that borrowers who pay off their credit card debt every month are 60 percent less likely to become delinquent on their mortgage, compared to borrowers who only make the minimum payment. Including debt balance and repayment information in the report will give mortgage lenders deeper insight when evaluating an application, beyond assessing the applicant’s credit score.

“For nearly three decades, mortgage lenders have used the same static formula to determine whether or not someone receives a home loan,” stated Craig Crabtree, general manager of Equifax Mortgage Services, in the release. “Leveraging trended credit data to evaluate how borrowers actually manage and pay off their credit debt could have enormous potential in terms of opening up credit and providing many Americans with access to mortgage loans that they previously may not have qualified for.”

Planning to buy a home soon? Contact me today to discuss your credit and lending options.

Source: Equifax

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What's Good for Homebuyers Is Good for the Housing Market

October 3, 2016 12:51 am


What’s good for homebuyers is good for the housing market.

That’s the takeaway from two recently released reports from Freddie Mac—one that confirmed mortgage rates at a 10-week low, and one that revealed two more metropolitan areas have transitioned to normal levels of housing activity. Both indicators bode well for homebuyers.

“Investors flocked to the safety of government bonds, causing the 10-year Treasury yield to continue its descent following the FOMC's decision to leave rates unchanged,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage responded by dropping six basis points before landing at 3.42 percent—a 10-week low.”

The average rate of the 15-year fixed mortgage also declined, down to 2.72 percent, according to Freddie Mac’s mortgage survey.

Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index® (MiMi®), on the other hand, showed that housing activity in Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Ind. has picked up—overall, housing in 38 states (plus the District of Columbia) is at normal levels.

The metropolitan areas with the most marked improvement in housing over the last month, according to the Index, are Lakeland, Fla., Youngstown, Ohio, Chicago, Ill., Orlando, Fla. and Las Vegas, Nev.

Source: Freddie Mac
 

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5 Wise Ways to Use $100

September 30, 2016 12:51 am


Maybe you got a tax refund. Maybe a friend paid back an old debt. Maybe you got from one paycheck to the next and—amazingly—had $100 left over. You may be tempted to blow your windfall, but $100 doesn’t buy all that much these days. Far better, according to The Motley Fool, is to use that $100 in one of these 5 wise ways:

1. Start/Add to an Emergency Fund – Surveys reveal a shocking number of Americans do not have enough money set aside to cover a $1,000 emergency. Ideally, an emergency fund should hold three to six months of living expenses.

2. Start/Add to a Retirement Fund – It may not seem like much, but if you were to put that $100 in a 401(k) or IRA and choose investments that generate an average annual 8-percent return, after 40 years, it would amount to almost $2,200!

3. Pay Down a Credit Card – Carrying a credit card balance, no matter how small, means losing money every month to interest. Granted, that $100 on its own probably won't save you a lot in interest, but it will get you one step closer to becoming debt-free.

4. Buy Stock – A single Ben Franklin won't make you a fortune in the stock market, but you can use it to open a low-cost, no- or low-minimum brokerage account and start investing for your future.

5. Invest in Yourself – If a certification or skill is standing in the way of a higher salary, use that $100 to pay for a course or license that helps you command more money—if a $100 online web design course results in a $1,000 bump in salary, that’s a 900-percent return on investment!
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Rid Your Home of Pests Before Winter Hits

September 30, 2016 12:51 am


No matter where you live, there’s always the potential for neighborhood residents—pests—to make your home their home.

Ridding your home of pests is best done before winter sets in, says Steve Evans of Underwriters Laboratories (SafeBee.com). Evans warns that mice and other rodents are known to chew the protective sheathing off electrical wires, leaving the underlying metal exposed. Unprotected wiring can short-circuit and spark, possibly leading to a house fire.

Fortunately, most homeowners can prevent pests from ever becoming a problem by sealing up every crevice in their home—but only if the situation is under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pest problems that call for professional evaluation should be dealt with as soon as possible, and preferably by a licensed exterminator.

If sealing is outside of your skill set, a drywall or masonry contractor may be needed, adds John Drengenberg of the CDC. Ensure the contractor fills holes inside the home first—outside holes should remain open temporarily so that rodents can exit.

Be cautious when cleaning, Evans says. Avoid sweeping or vacuuming in areas that have been infested—doing so can stir up dust and waste. Instead:

• Open windows to air out the infested area for at least half an hour before cleanup. Stay out of the area while it airs out.

• Wear protective gloves, goggles and a mask to avoid coming into contact with contaminated air or dust.

• Spray the infested area with bleach solution (one-part bleach to 10-parts water) and let it sit for 10 minutes. Use disposable rags to remove any waste. Mop the floor with the same bleach solution.

• Dispose of trash in a sealed plastic bag.

• Remove your gloves and scrub your hands with hot, soapy water.

Do not attempt to clean the area if it is heavily infested, Drengenberg says. Consult with a pest control professional—he or she will not only perform the cleanup, but also educate you on health and safety.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Spruce Up for Fall with Color

September 30, 2016 12:51 am


From cool blues and smoky greens inspired by scenic mountaintop views to warm neutrals reminiscent of transitioning leaves, this season’s paint trends, according to Ace Hardware design experts Nathan Fischer, Katie Reynolds and Julie Richard, create classic, elegant palettes that bring the outdoors in. Below, the designers’ top paint picks and ideas for fall:

• Changing the color of the front door to a natural green, with accents like Adirondack chairs or planters in the same color family.

• Make your home feel warmer with colors like chocolate brown or creamy beige in a variety of accessories, such as lampshades or a rug.

• Neutrals don't have to be boring. Try incorporating rich beige with lavender undertones to add a whimsical twist to a room.

• White walls are anything but simple. Go for soft, off-whites to achieve a clean, polished and timeless look.

• Use darker neutrals—think cool charcoal or deep brown—sparingly on accent pieces, such as a side table or a headboard, to add sophisticated dimension.

• Implement forest greens, which create a masculine aesthetic, in intimate spaces, like a bedroom or library.

• Mix in darker teal hues as an accent color, with more muted greens on walls or larger visual areas.

• Paint interior window frames in a cool-toned black to create the steel-frame, “modern-farmhouse” look popular this season.

• Go for the bold with a wowing red on kitchen stools, side tables or even picture frames—statement-making colors complement a neutral space.

Source: Ace Hardware
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Gym-Free Fitness Ideas

September 29, 2016 12:51 am


(BPT)—There’s no question visiting the gym is beneficial to your health—but a busy schedule, a tight budget (or, we’ll admit, laziness) can keep you from committing to a gym routine.

Being fit, fortunately, doesn’t require a gym membership, says Tavis Piattoly, an expert nutritionist and sports dietician who is the co-founder of My Sports Dietician. Piattoly’s gym-free, no-fuss regimen includes these anywhere, anytime ideas:

At Home – Don’t feel like trekking to the gym? No problem, says Piattoly. Do jumping jacks, lunges, planks, push-ups, shoulder presses with dumbbells, sit-ups or squats at home.

At Work – Overcoming the sedentary office lifestyle is as simple as parking farther from the door or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a five-minute break every hour to complete chair squats or seated leg raises, Piattoly advises.

On Errands – Avoid making the “I don’t have time” excuse—take a walk (or run) in the parking lot while you wait for your children to attend their extracurricular activities.

Outside – Outside, the fitness possibilities are endless, Piattoly says. Fishing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, paddle boarding and skiing are all excellent forms of outdoor exercise.

With Friends – It’s a fact: fitness is fun with friends. Piattoly suggests organizing a group for Frisbee, a pick-up game, a recurring relay race or swimming.

Fitness, gym-free or otherwise, is not complete without a balanced diet. The best meals, according to Piattoly, are ones with complex fiber carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean protein, eaten every three to four hours. And, if your nutrients are lacking, Piattoly recommends a daily omega-3 supplement, which benefits several areas of the body.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Painting Tips When Selling Your Home

September 29, 2016 12:51 am


Getting ready to sell your home? One of the easiest home improvements to get buyers’ attention is a fresh coat of paint—plus, it's a cost-effective fix that will make your home look updated, which can translate to increased value.

Sara McLean, color expert and blogger for Dunn-Edwards Paints, offers the following tips on choosing interior colors that appeal to buyers:

• First, McLean cautions painting everything white or beige, because your home might end up looking more utilitarian than stylish. Stick to earth tones and nature-based colors—warm browns and milky tans (think latte). Light greens and blues are classy, and even some reds and oranges. Warm grays are popular now, rather than cool grays.

• Take the flooring into consideration, McLean recommends. Lay color chips on the floor to see how they pair—warm tones tend to look better with most hardwood, whereas tile, terrazzo or carpet may warrant other colors.

• While neutrals are safe, don’t make the entire home so neutral that it’s boring, McLean adds. An occasional accent wall in a darker or complementary shade will add a designer look.

• Give a room life without getting too personal, says McLean. Many people have a visceral reaction to bold colors—and buyers’ first thoughts may be that they will need to repaint.

• The best rooms to paint, according to McLean, are the kitchen and baths. In the kitchen, soft buttery yellows with slight brown undertones are popular, and olive and sage greens can make it feel garden-y and fresh. If you don't have a tile backsplash, create one with an eggshell or semi-gloss paint, either in a solid color or with a decorative stencil. Bathrooms (and the laundry room) can tolerate brighter colors because they’re smaller, so play around a bit, McLean suggests—oranges and reds are trending now and through next year, as well as teal and turquoise.

• “Once you have chosen a color, pick up a few samples and paint a section of the wall, near permanent structures like fireplaces, flooring and cabinetry,” McLean says. “Live with the samples at least a full day to see them in all light sources. What looks light and bright in the morning may look dungeon-y at night.”

• Remember to consider the gloss level, McLean adds. Flat, velvet or eggshell finishes are­ good for interior walls, while a higher sheen looks pretty on trim and in kitchens and bathrooms. (The higher gloss levels are easier to clean, so they are ideal for high-traffic areas.) Look for trim paint that is water-based, but with the upscale look of oil-based, suggests McLean.

Source: Dunn-Edwards Paints
 

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Outdoor Renos Valuable Now and Later

September 29, 2016 12:51 am


Remodeling your house? Add an outdoor redo to the project.

According to a report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), an outdoor renovation can add significant value to a home come resale. The most valuable updates, per the report, are:

• Seeding the Lawn (Reaps 417 percent of its cost)
• Implementing a Standard Lawn Care Program (303 percent)
• Sodding (143 percent)

An outdoor renovation can also up the enjoyment factor—the “Joy Score,” according to the report. The highest project on the Joy Score scale? A pool, though it is one of the least profitable at a 50 percent return-on-investment.

The most appealing projects following a pool, the report found, are an overall landscape upgrade and a new wood deck.

“Realtors® understand the importance of curb appeal because when it is time to sell, a home's exterior is its first impression to potential buyers,” says 2016 NAR President Tom Salomone. “Realtors® also know that these projects—from flowerbeds to fire pits—can bring homeowners who have no plans to sell even more enjoyment and satisfaction in their home.

"Homeowners looking to take on large, expensive outdoor projects should do so for themselves, for the enjoyment they and their family will gain from the finished results, and not only to improve the value of their home for when they sell,” Salomone continues. “Smaller projects will bring potential sellers the most value back upon resale—and have the benefit of costing less up front.”

“Homeowners working with a landscape professional to embark on renovations—whether that means enhancing their turf and growing a lush lawn, rehauling their entire landscape, or incorporating new features like patios and exterior fireplaces—can rest assured that they are making a smart, worthwhile investment,” adds Missy Henriksen, vice president, Public Affairs, NALP. “Further, that investment is coupled with the immediate happiness received by beautiful landscaping and the long-term enjoyment of outdoor living spaces, which are priceless.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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