2019’s Top Must-Have Home Features and Interior Design Trends

2019’s Top Must-Have Home Features and Interior Design Trends

It’s the billion-dollar real estate question: What are the must-have home features that home buyers simply have to have in 2019?

The surprising—and extremely practical—answer: laundry rooms! An overwhelming 91% of home buyers said laundry rooms are an essential, or at least desirable, feature they want in their abodes, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ newly released 2019 home trends and buyer preferences report.

The report was based on a survey of about 4,000 home buyers. It was presented this week at the group’s annual convention, along with new research from design and remodeling site Houzz.

Having a room devoted to washing soiled clothes, as it turned out, outweighed some of the far sexier and trendier home features out there, including hardwood floors or a tricked-out, outdoor living space, according to the NAHB report.

“Laundry rooms have become so popular because most people no longer want to see or step over messy lumps of dirty clothes in the hall or in the kitchen,” says Rose Quint, who oversees survey research at NAHB. “Buyers want all that behind a door they can close and get to when they have time.”

Next up in popularity were Energy Star windows (officially certified to be energy-efficient); outdoor patios; Energy Star appliances; and ceiling fans.

Meanwhile, the least popular home feature was an elevator. Hey, stairs are cheaper and better for your figure!

Buyers also said they could live without wine cellars; day care centers; plant-covered green roofs; and trendy pet-washing stations. (Sorry, Fido.)

Buyers also have some strong preferences for the type of homes they want to live in and where they want those residences to be. The vast majority of shoppers, 77%, prefer detached, single-family homes, compared with 13% for townhouses, 4% for multifamily units such as condos, and 4% for manufactured (typically mobile) homes, according to the report.

When it comes to location, nearly two-thirds of buyers, 64%, want to be in the suburbs, while 11% pine for the big city and 24% prefer rural areas. But no matter where they live, they want to be near retail space where they can grab a bite or go shopping and walking or jogging trails.

“Suburbs are preferred locations since they offer a better possibility of getting a larger home—necessary for growing families,” says Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist.

The hottest kitchen design trends right now

Buyers aren’t the only tastemakers out there. Homeowners undergoing remodels are also weighing in on the features and design trends they crave. And they’re focusing on the kitchen more than anything else, according to Houzz research presented at this week’s NAHB convention.

“Kitchens will continue to be the hub of the home, the place where homeowners invest the [bulk] of their savings,” says Nino Sitchinava, the chief economist at Houzz. “It’s becoming a showpiece.”

The transitional-style kitchen is the biggest trend, according to the research. The marriage of traditional and modern styles is signified by features such as Shaker cabinets, contemporary light fixtures, and more traditional marble countertops.

The second most popular style is contemporary, which features “a pop of slightly more industrial features,” says Sitchinava. The farmhouse style, popularized by HGTV shows like “Fixer Upper,” is also gaining in favor.

Homeowners are still clamoring for white-toned kitchen cabinets, but Houzz is seeing more creamy, off-white or oyster shades with a hint of yellow. Wood cabinets are the second most desired.

Remodelers also prefer stronger, engineered quartz over granite for countertops.

“It’s more expensive than granite,” says Sitchinava, “but it’s extremely durable. You don’t have to worry about chipping, heat, or cold.”

The most popular kitchen floors are ceramic or porcelain tiles, followed by engineered wood or laminate and hardwood. Resilient vinyl flooring is also growing in popularity, particularly with aging baby boomers who prefer a textured floor that’s more slip-resistant.

And homeowners are doing more to open their kitchens to the outdoors. That could be by turning a single door outside into double doors or installing a wall of windows.

The hottest master bathroom trends right now

Master bathrooms are another hot remodel, often paired with a master bedroom renovation, according to Houzz research.

“It’s becoming one larger, private retreat,” says Sitchinava, noting that folks are creating complementary spaces with similar color schemes, fixtures, and cabinetry. Some homeowners are even removing the doors to their bathrooms to create one continuous room. Yikes! But fear not: They usually create toilet rooms—with doors or walls—to create somemeasure of privacy.

The contemporary style reigns supreme in this space, followed by the traditional look, according to Houzz. The farmhouse style, which incorporates lots of wood and more rustic elements, came in third.

But Victorian-style bathrooms are also on the rise.

“It’s all about the details” with this style, says Sitchinava. “They are a reflection of a past century.”

Article first published on Realtor.com.

7 Gardening Ideas for 2019

7 Gardening Ideas for 2019

This is the perfect time to start planning your garden for 2019. It’s too early in a year to actually do any yard work, but if you make a plan and prepare for it right now, there will be much fewer stressful and time pressing tasks in the spring.

When it comes to gardening trends, it’s perfectly fine to make your garden fashionable and to try to be innovative this year. However, have in mind that trends are often short-term and therefore fleeting. A neat and nicely managed garden looks good no matter what.

Asymmetry

Asymmetrical patterns have been popular for a while now and they will really take the over suburban gardens in 2019. This is partly due to the fact that ordinary and well-kept symmetrical gardens have been around for decades. Suburban homes are now using this change to appear more interesting.

It’s best to use this fact to make your garden stand out. When patterns and plants aren’t designed symmetrically, you can also experiment with different materials, colors, and the overall aesthetic of the garden.

Low maintenance gardens

Usually gardens are seen as more of a hobby than just an aesthetic choice for your home design. It’s something to do when you have time to spare and something to plan for and organize around. However, this too is changing. There’s a growing trend of making low maintenance gardens that you can enjoy throughout the year.

The key to having a low maintenance garden is to choose the plants that don’t need that much work. For the most part, it’s about selecting plants that don’t need watering on regular bases. Equally important is choosing a suitable soil for such plants.

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Patios

One of the biggest projects you could undertake with your garden is to try to merge the outside and the inside with a patio that’s an extension or even a part of your garden. Adding cantilever umbrellas and some lighting to create the atmosphere and make the patio useful is the biggest part of the job. What remains after that is just to design it as a part of the garden.

Patios can be a great place to entertain guests and they can really increase the value of your property. However, if they are set up with proper materials, they can also be easily pulled apart and you can use most of your yard.

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Green fences

Good fences make good neighbors! And the way you decide to distinguish your garden from your next-door neighbor could mean quite a lot. Installing green fences will make the transition from one yard to the other feel more natural. However, keep in mind that these type of fences mean a lot more work, especially when it comes to trimming and maintenance.

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Edibles

Planting edible plants in the back yard isn’t something that many suburban homeowners consider doing. However, there are a few reasons to try to get into it this year and to decide whether the operations could expand in the years to come.

It’s a way to make sure you have much less-expensive green and healthy food. In the end, many eco-aware homeowners should consider how their real estate could be used in a more productive way.

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Garden decorations

It’s fashionable to make your own garden decorations and you should dedicate a portion of your time to such creative projects in 2019. This is also less expensive and gives your garden a homey look.  They don’t require that much artistic talent and can be made from all sorts of stuff, usually lying around the yard.

Old barrels just need to be painted over and used as a canvas, as long as they are wide enough and you know how to draw. Decorative bird feeders are also a good idea. They look nice and can be quite useful, especially during the winter.

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Adding structure

In the end, 2019 should be the year to finally install and organize the supporting structures that will keep your garden maintained and clean. For the most part, you’ll need just one or two solar-powered small buildings. Taking the time to make these structures both well-organized and nice looking will make your future garden work much easier.

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It might be possible to leave this part of the work to a professional contractor, but there’s no real need for it. A DYI project can be lots of fun!

The New Year is going to be great for gardening because there are a lot of new eclectic trends to try. Some of them are here to stay, like focusing on more eco-friendly gardening, while others are aesthetic choices and have an expiration date.

One more time… you do not need 20% down to buy a home!

One more time… you do not need 20% down to buy a home!

The largest obstacle renters face when planning to buy a home is saving for a down payment. This challenge is amplified by rising rents, which has eaten into the amount of money renters have leftover for savings each month after paying expenses.

In combination with higher rents, survey after survey has shown that non-homeowners (renters and those living rent-free with family or friends) believe they need to save upwards of 20% for their down payment!

According to the “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership”  study commissioned in partnership between the Urban Institute, Down Payment Resource, and Freddie Mac, 39% of non-homeowners and 30% of those who already own a home believe they need more than a 20% down payment.

The percentage of those who are aware of low down payment programs (those under 5%) is surprisingly low at 12% for non-homeowners and 13% for homeowners.

In a recent Convergys Analytics report, they found that 49% of renters believe they need at least a 20% down payment.

The median down payment on loans approved in 2018 was only 5%! Those waiting until they have over 20% may already have enough saved to buy now!

There are over 45 million millennials (33%) who are mortgage ready right now, meaning their income, debt, and credit scores would all allow them to qualify for a mortgage today!

Bottom Line

If your five-year plan includes buying a home, let’s get together to determine what it will take to make that plan a reality. You may be closer to your dream than you realize!

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability

Headlines spotlight the fact that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in more than a decade. Those headlines are accurate.

Understandably, buying a home is more expensive now than immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history. Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many that this lowered the prices of non-distressed homes in the same neighborhoods. As a result, mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy.

Prices have since recovered. Mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has impacted housing affordability. However, it’s necessary to give historical context to the subject of affordability.

Two weeks ago, CoreLogic reported on what they call the “typical mortgage payment”. As they explain:

“One way to measure the impact of inflation, mortgage rates and home prices on affordability over time is to use what we call the ‘typical mortgage payment.’ It’s a mortgage-rate-adjusted monthly payment based on each month’s U.S. median home sale price. It is calculated using Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment…

The typical mortgage payment is a good proxy for affordability because it shows the monthly amount that a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to buy the median-priced U.S. home…

When adjusted for inflation, the typical mortgage payment puts homebuyers’ current costs in the proper historical context.”

Here is a graph showing the results of CoreLogic’s research:

As the graph indicates, the most recent calculation remained 28% below the all-time peak of $1,275 in June 2006. That’s because the average mortgage rate at that time was 6.68%. As seen in the graph, both today’s typical payment and CoreLogic’s projection for the end of the year are less than it was in January 2000.

Bottom Line

Even though home prices are appreciating at a slower rate, home affordability will likely continue to slide. However, this does not mean that buying a house is an unattainable goal in most markets. It is still less expensive today than it was prior to the housing bubble and crash.

Do You Know How Much Your Home Has Increased in Value?

Do You Know How Much Your Home Has Increased in Value?

Last year we saw headlines about a possible housing market bubble, and many wondered if Americans still felt confident about the value of their homes. Recently, the 2018 Houzz & Home Study revealed:

Homeowners with mortgages have seen their home equity more than double since 2011, increasing to a record-setting $8.3 trillion in 2017.”

The average homeowner gained $16,200 in home equity between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018 according to the latest release of CoreLogic’s Home Equity Report.

Since 2011 home values have increased significantly throughout the country, with prices rising by 5.1% in 2018 alone. When surveyed, homeowners revealed the top four reasons why they felt their homes had increased in value.

  1. Desirable Location
  2. Improved National Economy
  3. Improved Local Economy
  4. Low Home Inventory in My Area

As we can see, not only does the data show that the homes have appreciated, but homeowners also believe they know why. Many have taken advantage of the opportunity to use their newly found equity to sell their current house and move up to their dream home!

2019 will be a good year for the homeowners that still want to take advantage of their home equity! CoreLogicforecasts that home prices will increase by 4.8% by the end of the year.

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner who would like to find out your current home value, let’s get together to discuss the hidden opportunities in your home!