What If I Wait A Year to Buy a Home?
National home prices have increased by 5.4% since this time last year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained near historic lows which has allowed many buyers to enter the market and lock in low rates.
As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.8% over the next 12 months.
What Does This Mean as a Buyer?
If home prices appreciate by 4.8% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:
If buying a home is in your plan for this year, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.
Modern kitchens are getting more and more inclusive. People have realized that kitchen design plays a huge part in how and to what extent kitchens will be used. They are being used for get-togethers, socializing, entertaining, parties, and of course family meals. Most importantly, the environment of your kitchen plays a vital role in your family’s health and happiness. Did you know that children who eat home-cooked food together with their families on a regular basis fair better in their academics? It’s true and it also helps them in their social circles as well. An aesthetically pleasing kitchen give positive vibes to the entire house. Now, to make your space functional, healthy and beautiful, you need to bring in some changes or makeovers.
Here are 7 décor trends that will make your kitchen last for a lifetime:
1. Smart will only get smarter
Technology is dictating terms everywhere, so why keep it out of the kitchen? After all, it is making things much easier and simpler. Smart kitchens are a reality today. From cutting-edge appliances to intelligent sensors to well-equipped faucets, the overhauling of the kitchen is happening for a better good.
Smart technology is paving the way for a future where personalization of recipes and meals will be a norm. There is a substantial role of Artificial Intelligence and Internet in future kitchens. That is why remodeling is incorporating connected home features. According to the forecasts by technology research firm, Gartner Inc., 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year and that the number will reach 20.4 billion by 2020. A good number of these devices will be used in smart kitchens….
2. Innovative LED lighting
There is no doubt about the fact that lighting spruces up the décor. When innovation combines with versatility, you get energy-saving credentials and pulsating brilliance. As opposed to its chilly, unfriendly look, LED lighting is being applied in innovative ways. Also, LEDs do not emit heat which means that you can keep them on day and night. This new-age light is more efficient and longer-lasting than halogen and fluorescent bulbs.
3. Integrated appliances
A functional kitchen with integrated appliances is a lasting trend. Your kitchenette should not look like a place where appliances are jumbled and cluttered. Instead, the long-lasting design demands to integrate the appliances into your kitchen with clever paneling and built-ins. Today, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, and stovetops have become a seamless part of your space that gives it an ultra-modern look. Furthermore, as we discussed, today’s modern kitchens are increasingly used for connecting, partying, and hanging out, it needs to be made extremely comfortable. For that, appliances, layouts, and furniture should also contribute to differing priorities for a great environment.
Personalization is the key when it comes to setting a new trend that can last for years. From adding exciting colors to updating hardware and even bringing mix and match styles, personalization can take your kitchen to the next level. So, far from being over anytime soon, this trend will keep updating itself. Among all these elements, an extra character of color can add an interesting contrast to your kitchen environment. You can refurbish your shelves by putting custom canning labels on containers in which different cooking items are stored. You can also dress-up your faucets into many shapes, sizes, and colors. For that, you can find anything from simple to decorative options. Also, open shelving is the new personalization trend that shows no signs of slowing down, at least soon.
5. Quartz is timeless
Quartz is hard and highly durable so much so that it is nearly indestructible. It keeps your countertops safe and bacteria-free. That is why, for modern kitchens, quartz still reigns supreme and it’s not going to be outdated. The closest competitor of quartz is granite, which requires slightly more maintenance. Initially, quartz used to lack colors and finishes, but with time, a range of colors and patterns are available on the market. Its unique designs have become highly popular today. Today’s trend is indicating toward softer and more neutral colors; most homeowners are opting for grey, taupe, creamy or white finishes. It is also adaptable to fit any kitchen design that you and your kitchen designer can come up with.
6. Single level islands
Kitchen islands are becoming more and more popular for kitchen remodeling. You can hardly find a new kitchen without an island. Their utility stems from the fact that they are a multi-functional workhorse that can provide a cooking area, an eating zone, a prep space, or an entertaining hub. Since your kitchen island is separate from the rest of your counters, you can be creative about the color, finishes, and countertop you choose. In other words, it allows you to make a unique design statement. You can modernize and add customized detail to give the island a timeless look. Any option can be a wonderful addition to your kitchen.
7. Effective storage cabinetry
Kitchen cabinets are one of the most essential kitchen elements for practicality and aesthetics. The future trends require your cabinets to be spacious that make cooking and storage effortless. The fact is waste of space is one of the biggest challenges with kitchen cabinetry. So far drawers and shelves were being structured in such a way that leaves a lot of wasted space. Inadequate space will leave you with endless frustrations and annoyances.
So, a functional kitchen is one that can utilize every bit of storage’ while modern cabinetry is providing better storage solutions to the homeowners. This is the trend that can surely stand the test of the time.
15 ways to conserve energy in your home
There are two simple reasons why saving energy in our homes is more important than ever: rising energy prices and the threat of climate change. We’re going to tell you how you can do it, from small changes that can add up to complete overhauls that will save you a lot of money (and the environment will owe you a ‘Thank You’ card).
Instead of regurgitating what you’ve read elsewhere, these recommendations have been split into three manageable levels (Easy, Medium Hard). This should help you to find something that’s within your situation and budget; if you’re renting and can’t change much, our Level 1 tips will still help you save money. For those of you who own your home and have the capital to invest for long-term savings, head to Level 3.
Level 1 (Easy/Cheap)
Lower the dial
This fix is quick and straightforward. During those cold winter months, it may be tempting to put your central heating system to work. But it’s not always necessary to max out your temperature gauge. Lowering the temperature to under 70 can save an additional 3% off your bill. Bonus tip: decrease the heat to just under 60 at night. You’ll sleep more comfortably, and it’s cheaper!
Work the drapes
This is a quick fix that needs a little bit of discipline. Open the curtains to let in the sunshine during the day, close at night to keep that heat in. Presto!
It’s surprising how many people complain of the cold in their homes while walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. Dress accordingly. We’re not talking winter jackets indoors, but use insulating materials and remember to layer for maximum effect.
Isolate your HVAC
Other appliances should not surround your unit. If possible, move televisions, lamps, computers, and any other heat sources to a reasonable distance away from your HVAC. This increases its efficiency.
Replace furnace filters
Don’t let your furnace work harder than it needs to. Either clean or replace the filters every three months.
Wait till its full
Your dishwasher and washing machine use a lot of energy. Ensure you maximize their efficiency by only running them when they’re full.
Level 2 (Medium/Requires Investment)
You can slash 10% off your heating costs by merely eliminating air leakage. This is most common in duct work and windows. For duct joints, all you need is duct tape. For windows, winterize movable parts with weather stripping and use calk for non-moving parts.
Go for low-flow
Sure, Kramer doesn’t like low-flow showerheads. But he never paid any bills. To avoid wasting water when you shower, we recommend opting for a showerhead that features a flow rate under 2.5 GPM. You may also want to take shorter showers; reducing your daily clean by 4 minutes a day will save 3650 gallons annually. Not bad.
Look for the star
Energy Star-qualified bulbs (of the CFL and LED variety) are far more efficient than the traditional incandescent bulb. Expect to use 20-25% less energy.
You may benefit from giving the exterior of your home a facelift. Your garage door is a comfortable place to start. For example, brighter colors are better for hot climates, while colder regions benefit from darker shades. White roofs can also keep your home cooler by around 30%.
Level 3 (Hard/Expensive)
Weather the storm
The installation of storm windows and doors requires a bit of investment and DIY skills, but it’s worth it: for some homes, it can lead to a reduction of heat loss by around 20%.
Planting evergreen trees on the north side of your house will block those chilly winter winds. Windbreakers such as the Chinese juniper can reduce 35mph winds right down to 10mph. They also look good and are a plus for the environment!
Insulation is vital both in summer and winter. The key areas where padding can make a real difference are your walls, attic, floors, crawlspace, and basement. If you want to get a green badge, go for natural sheep wool where possible.
Many of us think that sticking to older devices is environmentally friendly, as it means not buying unnecessary new things. However, sometimes ditching the old can be the best option for Mother Earth and your wallet. Responsible for 13% of your home’s energy use, replacing appliances with newer Energy Star equivalents can lead to a healthy reduction in your monthly bills (9-25%).
Smartening up your home is not just for the fancy techies of this world. Using smart thermostats can shave $180 off your annual bill. Much more convenient than the standard programmable varieties, smart thermostats can integrate with services such as Google Home and Alexa and have advanced learning mechanisms (adapting to your way of life).
Article Source: TourWIzard.net.
The 4 Key Trends Home Buyers and Sellers Should Watch in 2019
We’re entering the home stretch of 2018, when you can actually say, “See you next year!” to someone you’ll see in just a few weeks. It’s a time to look ahead, to make new plans, to achieve new dreams.
And if those dreams include buying your own home, you should keep an eye on the ever-changing tides of the housing market. Now, markets are like the weather: You can’t entirely predict how they will act, but you canget a sense of the forces that will push things in one direction or another.
The realtor.com® economic research team analyzed a wealth of housing data to come up with a forecast of what 2019 might hold for home buyers and sellers—and it looks like both groups are going to be facing some challenges.
Here are the top four takeaways. For more information, see the full realtor.com® 2019 forecast.
1. We’ll have more homes for sale, especially luxury ones
We’ve been chronicling the super-tight inventory of homes for sale for several years now. Yes, homes have been hitting the market, but not enough to keep up with the demand. Nationwide, inventory actually hit its lowest level in recorded history last winter, but this year it finally started to recover. We’re expecting to see that inventory growth continue into next year, but not at a blockbuster rate—less than 7%.
While this is welcome news for buyers who’ve been sidelined, sellers must confront a new reality.
“More inventory for sellers means it’s not going to be as easy as it has been in past years—it means they will have to think about the competition,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com‘s chief economist.
“It’s still going to be a very good market for sellers,” she adds, “but if they’ve had their expectations set by listening to stories of how quickly their neighbor’s home sold in 2017 or in 2018, they may have to adjust their expectations.”
Although next year’s inventory growth is expected to be modest nationwide, pricier markets will tell a different story. In these markets—which typically have strong economies (read: high-paying jobs)—most of the expected inventory growth will come from listings of luxury homes.
We’re expecting to see the biggest increases in high-end inventory in the metro areas of San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; Worcester, MA; Boston, MA; and Nashville, TN. All of those metro markets, which may include neighboring towns, could see double-digit gains in inventory in 2019.
2. Affording a home will remain tough
It’s no secret that home sellers have been sitting pretty for the past several years. But is the tide about to change in buyers’ favor?
“In some ways, life is going to be easier for home buyers; they’ll have more options,” Hale says. “But life is also going to be more difficult for home buyers, because we expect mortgage rates to continue to increase, we expect home prices to continue to increase, so the pinch that they’re feeling from affordability is going to continue to be a pain point moving into 2019.”
Hale predicts that mortgage rates, now hovering around 5%, will reach around 5.5% by the end of 2019. That means the monthly mortgage payment on a typical home listing will be about 8% higher next year, she notes. Meanwhile, incomes are only growing about 3% on average. That double whammy is toughest on first-time home buyers, who tend to borrow the most heavily and who don’t have any equity in a current home to draw on.
3. Millennials will still dominate home buying
Just a few years ago, millennials were the new kids on the block, just barely old enough to buy their own homes. Now they’re the biggest generational group of home buyers, accounting for 45% of mortgages (compared with 17% for baby boomers and 37% for Gen Xers). Some of them are even moving on up from their starter homes.
As we mentioned above, things will be tough for those first-time buyers. But the slightly older move-up buyers will reap the benefits of both their home equity and the increased choices in the market.
And regardless of whether they’re part of that younger set starting a career or the older set that’s starting a family, “they’re going to be more price-conscious than any other generation,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.
That’s because they typically are still carrying student debt and want to be able to spend on experiences, like travel. That takes away from the funds they can put aside for a down payment, or a monthly mortgage payment.
“They want to maintain a certain lifestyle, but they still see the value in owning a home,” Wolf says.
So they might compromise on distance from an urban center, or certain amenities, or space—70% of millennial homeowners own a residence that’s less than 2,000 square feet, Wolf notes.
There’s plenty of time to expand those portfolios, though, as millennials’ housing reign is just beginning: This group is likely to make up the largest share of home buyers for the next decade. The year 2020 is projected to be the peak for millennial home buying—the bulk of them will be age 30.
4. The new tax law is still a wild card
At the time of last year’s forecast, the GOP’s proposed revision of the tax code was still being batted around Congress. While there was talk that it might discourage people from buying a home, no one really knew how it might affect the real-estate market.
This year … well, we still don’t really know. That’s because most taxpayers won’t be filing taxes under the new law until April 2019. And while some people might have a savvy tax adviser giving them a better idea of what’s in store, for many, the reality check will come in the form of a bigger tax bill—or a bigger refund.
Renters are likely to have lower tax bills, but might not be tempted to buy while affordability remains a challenge, and with the new, increased standard deduction reducing the appeal of the homeowner’s mortgage-interest deduction.
“I think the new tax plan will affect mostly homeowners and home buyers in the upper parts of the distribution,” says Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. “Those who either own or are buying higher-priced homes are going to pay a lot more.”
Sellers of those pricier homes will also take a hit, as buyers anticipating bigger tax bills won’t be as willing to pony up for a high list price.
The biggest change resulting from the new tax law, Hanson predicts, will be in mortgages, since people will be less inclined to take out large mortgages.
“If anyone is going to be upset about the tax plan, it’ll be mortgage bankers,” he says.
This article was first published by Realtor.com.
‘Tis the Season to Sell: 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take Your Home Off the Market for the Holidays
As we careen at warp speed toward Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all of the joyous festivities in between, you might be tempted to take your home off the market—or hold off on listing it—until after the new year. After all, you’re swamped with cooking, shopping, and decorating, and the last thing you need is a bunch of potential buyers traipsing through your house, right?
Wrong. It’s a big mistake to either remove your home from the market during the holiday season, or to not put your home on the market if you’re getting ready to sell.
Why? The first reason is painfully obvious: Your house can’t actually sell if it’s off the market. Leaving your home on the market is the right choice. Sure, people are busy, but wouldn’t you rather see people in your house when it’s messy with baking in the kitchen than miss the house? Let somebody else take their house off the market and miss out!
In fact, this time of year can actually be ideal for selling. Here’s why.
1. Your listing will rise to the top
If homeowners in your hood take a break from the market because they don’t want to bother keeping their properties in show-ready condition over the holidays, that makes for reduced inventory. And that means buyers who are actively searching will be more likely to uncover your listing.
During the busy spring market, for example, you have way more competition than during the holidays. So you’re much more likely to get your home sold when you’re not competing with more potential sellers.
2. Your house looks (and smells) amazing during the holidays
With festive greenery, the sweet aroma of cookies baking, and a warm fire in the hearth, you’ve got built-in ambiance—meaning you can appeal to buyers’ senses in a way that you can’t during other times of the year. With that nice, homey feeling, homes tend to show a lot better during the holidays, while making people feel really good. Plus, chances are good you’ll tap into some buyer sentimentality: During the holidays, we tend to feel nostalgic about family, home, and memories. That can cause a nesting instinct to kick in—and that often results in a sale.
Don’t go overboard with decorations, though. Even though it’s the holidays, you still don’t want too much clutter. And remember: Buyers need to imagine their furniture in each room, so avoid blocking important selling features such as large windows and fireplace mantels. And if you live in a colder climate, be sure walkways and stairs are always shoveled clean, and turn your thermostat up before each showing to keep things toasty. When you walk in and it’s warm and cozy, that helps in the selling process.
3. Holiday buyers aren’t messing around
Yes, things typically slow down in the weeks leading up to the holidays. But there are still people actively looking for homes and ready to pounce—or those who just entered the market on a short timeline and need to buy fast.
The people who are out there looking at homes during the holidays are serious buyers. And in areas where you have bad weather, these buyers are going to weather the storms—pun intended—to visit your property. Potential buyers who take the time to set up home tours during the holiday season are also more motivated to move forward if they like what they see. These are not tire-kickers just looking around because it’s fun; those are all weeded out.
4. Families often search during school breaks
Speaking of serious buyers: Relocating families often capitalize on the holidays as a time to move without tumult on the kids. They want to find the right property, have stress-free negotiations, and get their brood settled before school starts up again in January. It’s a good time to show your house to people from out of town.
5. It can be easier to close a transaction in December
Buyers can often get their loans processed and approved faster in November or December than they would in the traditionally busy spring months. It all comes down to the holiday slowdown: Fewer home sales are on deck to process, plus lenders are motivated to close deals before the end of the year.
6. The holidays give you a chance to adjust your selling strategy
If your home’s been languishing on the market for several weeks—or months (eek!)—you might be feeling antsy. Maybe the best solution is to take it off the market and try again after the new year.
Fight the urge! You’re better off staying the course and using this slow time to tweak your selling strategy. Would home staging draw in buyers? Do you need to tackle that paint job you’d been putting off? Should you reassess your asking price?
Generally, the reason a house does not sell is because it’s not priced right, and if it’s been sitting on the market, nothing will change over a 30-day period if you’re pricing it the same. You’re much better off getting the price in line with where it should be, and leaving it on through the holidays.
If you are on the fence about listing your home this season, call me, let me walk you through your options. I’d love to talk to you personally about your real estate needs. Norma – 469-450-2559
5 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home
The lack of existing inventory for sale has forced many homebuyers to begin looking at new construction. When you buy a newly constructed home instead of an existing home, there are many extra steps that must take place.
To ensure a hassle-free process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you are considering new construction:
1. Hire an Inspector
Despite the fact that builders must comply with town and city regulations, a home inspector will have your best interests in mind! When buying new construction, you will have between 1-3 inspections, depending on your preference (the foundation inspection, the pre-drywall inspection, and a final inspection).
These inspections are important because the inspector will often notice something that the builder missed. If possible, attend the inspection so that you can ask questions about your new home and make sure the builder fixes any problems found by the inspector.
2. Maintain good communication with your builder
Starting with the pre-construction meeting (where you will go over all the details of your home with your project manager), establish a line of communication. For example, will the builder email you every Friday with progress updates? If you are an out-of-state buyer, will you receive weekly pictures of the progress via email? Can you call the builder and if so, how often? How often can you visit the site?
3. Look for builder’s incentives
The good thing about buying a new home is that you can add the countertop you need, the mudroom you want, or an extra porch off the back of your home! However, there is always a price for such additions, and they add up quickly!
Some builders offer incentives that can help reduce the amount you spend on your home. Do your homework and see what sort of incentives the builders in your area are offering.
4. Schedule extra time into the process
There are many things that can impact the progress on your home. One of these things is the weather, especially if you are building in the fall and winter. Rain can delay the pouring of a foundation as well as other necessary steps at the beginning of construction, while snow can freeze pipes and slow your timeline.
Most builders already have a one-to-two-week buffer added into their timelines, but if you are also in the process of selling your current home, you must keep that in mind! Nobody wants to be between homes for a couple of weeks.
5. Visit the site often
As we mentioned earlier, be sure to schedule time with your project manager at least once a week to see the progress on your home. It’s easy for someone who is not there all the time to notice little details that the builder may have forgotten or overlooked. Additionally, don’t forget to take pictures! You might need them later to see exactly where that pipe is or where those electrical connections are once they’re covered up with drywall!
Watching your home come to life is a wonderful experience that can sometimes come with hassles. To avoid some of these headaches, keep these tips in mind!
If you are ready to put your current home on the market and find out what new construction is available in your area, let’s get together to discuss your options!
The Difference an Hour Will Make This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click the image to download.
Every Hour in the US Housing Market:
- 596 Homes Sell
- 278 Homes Regain Positive Equity
- Median Home Values Go Up $1.20
Like your mother always told you, you don’t ever want to play with fire.
Fireplaces should be inspected and/or swept once a year to prevent fire damage and to keep your home safe.
To be sure that all of your systems are in working order and operating as they should, it is recommended that homeowners get an annual chimney inspection. The specialist will generally open and adjust your damper, caulk the flashing on the roof if needed, and clean & adjust the fireplace screens & doors. They will also generally check the condition of the chimney spark arrestor and clean the fire chamber. Most chimney sweep companies will put you on an annual inspection plan once you work with them. During this inspection they will tell you if it’s time to sweep. Many homeowners opt to have a chimney cleaning done every year as well at this time, especially if they use their fireplace on a regular basis.
Don’t delay, get your fireplace inspection scheduled before the cold weather hits!
For those of you who own multiple properties – vacation homes, lake homes, second homes, rental properties – real estate taxes can become an issue. Here is a brief discussion on real estate taxes to take to your tax accountant or attorney when you prepare for this years taxes:
Are there any income tax benefits to owning multiple homes in the U.S.?
Extra residences are not often a huge benefit or tax haven for investments, according to William Kambas, a partner at Withers, an international law firm with offices around the world.
Property taxes are due on each property, but owners can save when filing their federal income taxes. For starters, state and local property taxes on second homes are still deductible from one’s federal income returns, according to Mark Stone, a partner at New York City-based firm Holland & Knight.
The same goes for mortgages, although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 limited both of these. (The tax changes are in effect for the period between Dec. 31, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2025, although Congress is considering making them permanent.)
That means $10,000 of one’s combined property taxes for all residences is deductible, he said. However, keep in mind that state and local income taxes are also included in that bucket. And up to $750,000 in mortgage interest, again, for one an owner’s principal residence and one additional residence is also deductible.
For rental properties, there are additional tax benefits, Mr. Kambas said. To qualify, the home must be rented out for more than 14 days a year, or 10% of the total days it is rented, whichever is greater. So if an owner spends 30 days a year at a residence, he or she must rent it for 300 days or more to qualify for the deductions, according the IRS.
Then, “the expenses of doing business will be deductible,” he said. That includes travel to do work on the home or to show it, costs of advertising the property and other activities that benefit the business.
Maintenance, cleaning, professional fees and insurance, utilities and common charges are also deductible, Mr. Kambas added.
If owners are operating multiple homes as a business, they are likely eligible for a 20% qualified business income deduction. The company needs to be set up as a sole proprietorship or through a limited liability company, partnership, S corporation, trust or estate, according to the IRS.
LLCs are most commonly used by real estate investors. Those businesses do not pay income taxes; the tax is instead passed through to the owner or owners of the company. For individuals with less than $157,500 of income (or less than $315,000 of income for couples), there is a 20% deduction. So the owner ends up only being taxed on 80% of the income from that business.
For those with a higher income, the taxes are a bit more complicated. Individuals making more than $207,500 ($415,000 for couples), can deduct either the lesser of 20% of the qualified business income, or the greater of 50% of the W-2 wages paid from the business; or 25% of the W-2 wages paid from the business, plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis of the qualified property, according to the IRS.
Either way, the owner is taxed at his or her individual rate, not the corporate rate.
Many real estate investors buy property under an LLC for that reason, but Mr. Kambas warned that it is a “highly scrutinized area by the IRS.”
Article originally published by Mansion Global 2018.
Why not turn a family activity into a tradition? Check out these12 fun ideas!
Incorporating a family ritual into your regular routine can be fun and end up being a tradition that will last for years. Traditions make memories your children will cherish for years to come and create family bonds that will last a lifetime.
- Family video night. Rent a movie, order in a pizza, make popcorn. Agree to something the whole family wants to watch (and is appropriate for teens and younger children). Make it an event around a special occasion like a child’s birthday or a special family movie.
- Pumpkin Carving. Make an event out of going to the local pumpkin patch and picking out individual pumpkins for each member of the family to take back and carve up for the Autumn season. Make it a contest of skill and creativity where everyone is a winner!
- Sharing the Sunday newspaper over a special breakfast. This is a ritual with Mom and Dad in mind. Do you still get the Sunday Newspaper? Read a particular comic or opt ed that can entertain and inform the entire family. Then dig in to a family style brunch at your favorite restaurant or at the family table.
- Buy a special dessert to transform dinner into an occasion, and not just on birthdays, wedding anniversaries and graduations. Celebrate family members’ achievements. An unexpected high grade on a test at school or a promotion at work deserves a cake—with candles and an inscription. Be creative!
- Spiritual pursuits bring many families together, whether it’s attending services or saying grace or toasting together at the dinner table.
- Sit around together flipping through old photo albums or watching vintage family videos and home movies. You’ll relive fond memories and give one another hiccups laughing at the sight of certain members’ now-outdated hairstyles and assorted fashion faux pas. “Wow, Dad: Really nice leisure suit.”
- Take a car ride. Where? Anywhere. Take the slow, scenic route and stop off at whatever looks interesting. Plan a special weekend outing during the Autumn season to see and photograph the beautiful foliage.
- Go bowling together. Golf and miniature golf are two other examples of individual sports that you can do together. Perhaps you have a family league or summer miniature golf events that you can repeat every year.
- Build a fire in the fireplace, or at a camping ground, or on the beach, and share stories. Why not have a “first lighting” of the fireplace event complete with hot chocolate and sweet snacks!
- Cook dinner together, with each member of the family taking part. Wednesday cook night, where every family member has an assigned task to help mom and / or dad prepare “hump-day” dinner
- Play board games, cards, dominoes and so on. Pop popcorn, or set out veggies and hummus for a competitive round of family games.
- Communal chores or collaborating on a household project can be a lot of fun. How about Saturday clean up once a month? Assign indoor and outdoor activities to clean and organize then end it with a special pizza party!
The ideas are endless to plan activities and events for your family to celebrate being a family! Think outside the box, add it to the calendar and make a plan. These moments will be remembered and talked about for generations!
When it comes to buying or selling a home there are many factors you should consider. Where you want to live, why you want to buy or sell, and who will help you along your journey are just some of those factors. When it comes to today’s real estate market, though, the top two factors to consider are what’s happening with interest rates & inventory.
Mortgage interest rates have been on the rise and are now over three-quarters of a percentage point higher than they were at the beginning of the year. According to Freddie Mac’s latestPrimary Mortgage Market Survey, rates climbed to 4.72% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week.
The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.
Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.
The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $400,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments between $2,020-$2,050 a month.
With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be over 5% by this time next year.
A ‘normal’ real estate market requires there to be a 6-month supply of homes for sale in order for prices to increase only with inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), listing inventory is currently at a 4.3-month supply (still well below the 6-months needed), which has put upward pressure on home prices. Home prices have increased year-over-year for the last 78 straight months.
The inventory of homes for sale in the real estate market had been on a steady decline and experienced year-over-year drops for 36 straight months (from July 2015 to May 2018), but we are starting to see a shift in inventory over the last three months.
The chart below shows the change in housing supply over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. As you can see, in June, July, and August, inventory levels have started to increase as compared to the same time last year.
This is a trend to watch as we move further into the fall and winter months. If we continue to see an increase in homes for sale, we could start moving further away from a seller’s market and closer to a normal market.
If you are planning to enter the housing market, either as a buyer or a seller, let’s get together to discuss the changes in mortgage interest rates and inventory and what they could mean for you.
The 5 Interior Design Rules You Should Never, Ever Break
Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Always do this. Rules, rules, rules. Where’s the fun in that? I definitely think you should design and decorate your home the way you want. But adhering to just a few simple mandates brings order to the chaos, and more luxurious, simple beauty.
When you walk into rooms that are designed using specific principles—geometry, proportion, scale, pattern—you feel relaxed and at ease. As humans, we thrive on order, and that’s what good design is—using rules to make sense out of what is otherwise random.
Once you know the rules, you can play with them.
For most people, there’s an art to the way the eye sees design in terms of color, shape, texture, and proportion. First you have to understand it, and as you get more confident in applying those rules, you can really have some fun.
These timeless principles prove that “rule” doesn’t have to be a four-letter word.
Rule No. 1: Layer your lighting
Unless you’re going for the feel and comfort of an interrogation room, make sure you’ve distributed light equally around your room. Start by considering natural light sources—which can be maximized and accentuated with mirrors for a full-room glow—and fill in any blanks with a combination of lamps, wall sconce lighting, and overhead fixtures.
But never rely on a single source—especially if it’s overhead lighting.
Layered lighting is the best way to set the emotional tone of a space. One source of lighting will always struggle to carry an entire room.
Rule No. 2: Keep your base neutral
Put away the paintbrushes dripping with statement colors. It might sound boring, but plenty of designers agree—painting with neutrals is a smart way to ensure that your space ages nicely and doesn’t drive you crazy before you’re ready (or have the budget) to switch things up.
We’re so inundated with different design options these days, and keeping a neutral base makes it easy to keep the room looking timeless. If you’re craving color, express yourself with art and accessories—not paint.
Rule No. 3: Avoid matching furniture
Furnishing a room is not a vacation package, so take a pass on the all-included furniture bundles (you know the ones: sofa, loveseat, end tables, coffee table, recliner, and lamps for one low price).
And even if you’re not buying a full-meal deal, steer clear of the matchy-matchy trap by mixing furniture styles. Go for an 80/20 formula, in which the majority of the furniture is the same style and the remainder represents a different era or design trend.
If everything in your house is traditional wood furniture, it can get boring pretty fast – throw in a few surprising wildcard pieces of a completely different style, that makes it fresh and gives the room some soul.
Rule No. 4: Pile on different textures
Got a thing for pretty, shiny objects? We get it. But everything that sparkles is not going to make for a well-designed room. You’ve got to mix things up. That means making sure your bedroom isn’t just a sea of silky fabrics, sequins, and mercury glass.
Every room should have five textures: shiny, matte, smooth, flat, rough – start there. Adding an array of textures always makes a room look more expensive.
Rule No. 5: Decorate in odd numbers
It’s well-worn advice, but it’s still worth repeating. The “Rule of Three,” which holds that anything presented or arranged in odd numbers is inherently more engaging and interesting, is sacred in the design field (and in marketing, advertising, education, and a host of other disciplines).
Following this rule can mean the difference between a polished space and one with a ho-hum, amateur vibe.
When it comes to accessorizing furniture like side tables and shelving, pairing things in groups of three is a timeless standard. Try arrangements with odd-number groupings. They will always look more appealing to the eye than those with an even number.
Keeping Up With Your Home This Fall : 3 Important Tasks
We are heading straight for Autumn here in DFW and you know what that means! Time to take care of some very important maintenance tasks on your home. So break out a cold one and turn on your big screen TV for some football this weekend and get busy!
Gutters need to be cleared of leaves and debris that may have accumulated in order to function properly. Clogged gutters can wreak havoc on your roof, siding, and foundation. These repairs can be extremely expensive.
Many homeowners opt into a service contract with a gutter cleaning company that schedules twice a year. We recommend these plans because they are typically affordable and there is potential danger involved with accessing the gutters on many homes. Generally these specialists will get up on a ladder and check & clear the gutters & downspouts of debris. Clearing them can often be challenging due to baked on foliage (spring) or frozen leaves (winter) attached to the insides of the channels, so if you are doing this yourself, make sure you have a good ladder and a spotter helping you out. Water is generally run through the system after the channels are cleared. Make sure that all of your downspouts are extended away from the foundation at the ground level. Often, it may be necessary to regrade your soil in some spots so that all water is directed away from your home.
Annual furnace maintenance is mandatory for ensuring its optimal working condition. A poorly maintained and/or inefficient furnace could be costing you huge amounts of money and could prove to be a safety risk.
We highly recommend that annual service be completed by a certified HVAC or other heating specialist. Some of the main things they should do in this annual service include but are not limited to the following:
- Replacing the furnace’s air filter
- Cleaning its burners
- Clearing vent lines
- Checking for any small leaks
- Cleaning its exterior
- Monitoring its efficiency and performance
The attic is an integral part of your home that needs to be visually inspected annually. Problematic attics can lead to health hazards and/or expensive repairs mostly caused by water or mold damage. Inspecting an attic doesn’t take long and requires almost no specialized expertise.
The main thing you should be looking for are signs of water damage. Is any wood warped or water stained? Are there any wood surfaces that are cracked or sagging? If the answer to either of these is “yes”, you should contact a roofing/attic specialist immediately. Water seepage is akin to slow acting poison for a home’s structure. Pay special attention to areas around chimneys, roof vents, and sky lights for signs of water damage as they are often quite vulnerable. Proper ventilation is also key in an attic. If there are any roof vents, blockages caused by nests or leaves are common. Make sure to clear these out by hand. Furthermore, make sure that all of the pipes and ductwork that run through the attic are properly connected and are correctly venting to the outside. If you have an attic fan, test that it’s functioning properly.
There is a lot more to take care of your home after a hot and active summer, winterizing your home and yard is next on the agenda…. stay tuned for more this fall and enjoy the season!
The ABC’s Of House Flipping
While house flipping can be very lucrative, you can lose everything with one bad decision. It’s important to approach this profession with caution and educate yourself as much as possible.
Before you even dream of entering this field, you have to be great with your hands or at the very least well versed on the topic of trades and renovations. You should also have a feel for the market. The last thing you want is all your profits sunk because you bought at the wrong time. It’s not as fun and easy as it looks on TV. This is a job that is not only very stressful but requires a lot of hard work.
It goes without saying that you need investment capital and excellent credit before embarking on a project of this magnitude. This step-by-step guide will set you in the right direction, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t an exact science. Never be complacent and always stay on your toes.
1. Scouting Homes
The most typical way to find homes is through the regular channels, finding a real estate agent, searching online, etc. However it’s important to be patient, always look out for the right deal.
The best bang for your buck is foreclosed homes. Make a habit of routinely checking the Internet for new foreclosed homes. Once you find one that looks good, never buy it on a whim. Always see it in person and bring an inspector.
The real estate market is generally steady, but there can be significant fluctuations from time to time. The last thing you want is to be a victim of these fluctuations. The most important thing to take into consideration when scouting a new home is locations. The better the location, the easier to flip. Selling fast mitigates the risk of these fluctuations. It’s also important to have great relationships with contractors so you don’t get caught with them dragging their feet.
3. What to look for in a house
It’s important not to purchase a potential tear down. What you’re looking for is a home that is structurally sound and only requires cosmetic upgrades. That’s why it’s important to have an inspector to verify that there is no mold or asbestos and that the wiring is sound. You also have to ensure that it’s built on a solid foundation.
4. Which renovations to focus on
As mentioned in step 3 you want a house that only requires cosmetic renovations, structural ones are very pricey. Even when narrowing it down to cosmetic, make sure you are focussing on cosmetics that will actually increase the value of the house. For example, installing a swimming pool is very costly and while it attracts more buyers, it won’t make you any extra money.
The most important room to focus on is upgrading the kitchen. Fresh tiles, a new backsplash, and marble or granite counter tops are essential. It’s also vital that you upgrade the appliances to stainless steel.
Other essential renovations include upgrading the bathrooms, installing fresh hardwood floors and fresh paint of course. Be sure not to neglect painting and landscaping the outside of the house to increase curb appeal.
Once you’ve located a sound house in a good location and finished all the renovations, flipping it should be a cinch. Also, it’s a good idea to be proactive and look for buyers before the project is complete.
When you bought the house with the pool, it looked like it was going to be all fun in the sun and splishin’ and-a splashin’, but now that the first signs of fall are appearing (the emergence of Pumpkin Spice signals just six more weeks of summer), it’s time to figure out how to protect that pool through the winter.
Before You Start Closing, Consider the Climate
Depending on where you live, you may need to take further or lesser measures to protect your pool through the winter. Your goal, ultimately, is to keep that pool and its systems from experiencing any sort of freezing. A frozen pipe, a frozen filter, anything like that could be a very expensive replacement in the spring when you open your pool again.
If you know for a fact that it never gets below 50 degrees Fahrenheit where you live, for example, you might not want to close your pool all the way. But, if it freezes frequently and there’s lots of snow, well, you’re going to have to break out bigger firepower. Living here in DFW, we are a little bit inbetween, it may or may not freeze or snow, but you want to be prepared! This meant as a general guide to pool closing, that being said, your mileage may vary.
Pool Closing Made Easy
Closing a pool isn’t that big of a deal if you have all the right tools and materials on hand. It can be a complicated situation, though, because of all the parts that you’ll need to check as you go. Take your time, keeping in mind the risk of freezing in your area versus the cost to replace the frozen component, and you’ll be ok.
These are the necessary basic steps to closing a pool in a middling sort of climate like here in DFW:
Step 1: Deep clean your pool. Vacuum the entire pool, brush the walls, skim the surface, remove any and all debris. This way you’re starting fresh again in the spring.
Step 2: Test the water. Check that your pool is properly balanced before you put it to bed. This means a pH between 7.2 and 7.8 and alkalinity between 80 and 120 parts per million. If you’re running toward the high sides of these ranges, that’s ok. Check the hardness, too, since calcium deposits can form in your equipment over time.
Step 3: Shock the pool. Shocking the pool right before closing will help it stay as clean as possible over the winter. A 15 minute fast dissolving shock treatment is absolutely fine since you won’t be using the pool again. If you have chronic algae problems, a winter algaecide will be a good addition. Use the same dose as is listed on the bottle for opening the pool.
OPTIONAL: Many pool owners skip the manual adjustments and use a winter closing kit to prepare their water for the long dark march of winter. If you choose to go this way, read the instructions carefully. Some require you run the filter, others do not.
Step 4: Time to plug it up. Remove the eyeball fitting on your return line and plug it with an appropriate plug. Remove the skimmer basket and put it into storage. You can leave the skimmer in the pool if you use a winter skimmer cover to protect it from accumulating water. With a skimmer cover, you can also leave more water in the pool, rather than having to drain the pool below the skimmer level.
Step 5: Protecting the moving parts. The pump, chlorinator and all the hoses (including the skimmer hose) need to be drained and brought inside to prolong their lives and protect them from the cold. Filters should also be winterized according to the type you have installed and kept indoors.
Step 6: Put the cover on. Start by inflating your air pillow, then tossing it toward the middle of your pool. If you have a hard pool cover or are otherwise concerned about the water level, this is a good time to lower it a bit. Cover the pool and, when needed, install a winter cover pump to keep water from accumulating on the pool’s cover.
That’s all there is to it! You can totally do this — piece of cake.