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June 7, 2021

Will the Housing Market Frenzy Die Down? That Depends on Sellers

 

The coronavirus pandemic raised the temperature considerably on the nation’s housing market. The past year has been marked by soaring prices, logic-defying offers over asking price, and steep competition as sellers have been hesitant to put their homes up for sale.  But the heart-pumping, bank account–depleting housing market frenzy could die down—at least a little—in the coming months as more sellers list their properties and inventory slowly increases. About 10% of current homeowners plan to put their homes on the market this year—and more than half are more affordably priced, according to an exclusive survey conducted by realtor.com®. An additional 16% expect to list their properties within the next two to three years.

About 4,000 people were surveyed online, including 1,000 new homeowners and more than 650 potential sellers.  “There is a brighter light at the end of the tunnel for many weary buyers,” says Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu.  “A large influx of homes for sale would be welcome news for housing, especially as shrinking affordability has placed a wedge between many young buyers and their desired neighborhoods,” he adds. “More new homes would mean less competition, which would translate into a slowdown in the steep price growth we’ve experienced.

Typically, only about 8% of homeowners put their homes up for sale a year. This is about a 25% anticipated increase, which translates into about 1.5 million more homes. The increase may be due to folks holding off on selling their homes during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.  It still won’t be enough to fully relieve the current historic housing shortage—compounded by the fact that builders haven’t been able to put up enough homes to keep up with the increasing population, particularly millennials who are now in prime home-buying years. But it’s a start.  “In a market that right now only has close to half a million listings, a big boost in inventory can mean more choices for buyers and potentially a slowdown in price growth,” says Ratiu. He was quick to add that prices won’t drop, but the double-digit growth may taper off. “It’s signaling a return to normal for the economy and the housing market.”

Nationally, the median list price was $370,000 in March—up 16% annually, according to Realtor.com. As buyers duke it out, sale prices have gone much higher in many parts of the country. Historically low mortgage rates have helped to offset those high prices, as average rates fell to 2.97% for 30-year fixed-rate loans last week. But prices are still climbing much faster than incomes.  That’s why having more affordably priced homes hit the market is key. Roughly 58% of sellers who plan to list this year have homes valued below $350,000, according to the survey. This is expected to help first-time buyers get a toehold in the market.  About 63% of those who plan to sell this year have already listed their homes or plan to do so within six months. More than three-quarters have taken steps to begin the process, such as getting their homes into shape and reaching out to real estate professionals.

There would be even more homes coming online this year if sellers were confident they could find another home within their price range. In this turbocharged market, that can be difficult. Sellers are also worried about the economy and had concerns about showing their property during the pandemic, among other reasons.  “For many sellers, especially those who are looking to trade up, the shortage of homes has been just as challenging as for first-time buyers,” says Ratiu. “That’s a Catch-22 exacerbating the inventory situation, because the sellers don’t want to list and then not have a place to live after they sell their home.”

And that’s why even when these additional properties hit the market, they won’t be enough to end the housing shortage. Not yet, anyway.  “As we look to the year ahead, the demand wave will continue outpacing the supply inflow, even with more sellers coming to market,” says Ratiu. “We will not solve a decade’s worth of underbuilding and lack of listings in one year.”

 

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Clare Trapasso is the deputy news editor of realtor.com. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication, the New York Daily News, and the Associated Press. She also taught journalism courses at several New York City colleges and obtained a real estate license.  Source: Realtor.com

May 24, 2021

5 Bathroom Trends - DIY Ideas

 

We all wish our homes looked like they were touched by the magic wand of a designer. But the reality, especially now that many of us have been spending massive amounts of time at home, is that our personal spaces are looking messier than ever—especially our bathrooms.

Well, our Instagram trend report is here to bring you five luxe accents that will make it look like a pro pulled it all together. From bright brass accents to exotic textiles to bathtub chandeliers (yes, you read that right), our top picks from Instagram will make it harder than ever to turn down bath time.

1. Long brass drawer pulls

If your bathroom hardware is more than a little out of date, look no further than this classic and chic upgrade from @dotandpop. As if the sleek brass weren’t enough, these extra-long pulls take this bathroom design to the next level—and make it look way more expensive than it actually is.  “Brass hardware is hugely popular right now because it elevates any bathroom instantly,” says Sasha Dudleyof Interiors by Sasha. “Replacing outdated chrome hardware [with] brass refreshes and modernizes the bathroom, and makes it feel much warmer. Long brass drawer [pulls] are especially trending right now because they bring the sleek and modern without feeling sterile.”

2. Sage-green vanity

From couches to cabinets, green seems to be everywhere this year—but there’s still nothing quite like the queenly of-the-moment vibes of these sage-green cabinets from @mydiyhappyhome.  “Sage-green cabinetry has been trending in kitchens for a couple years now and has finally found its way into the bathroom,” says Dudley. “Sage green feels fresh, organic, and inviting. It also looks great with brass or matte-black hardware.”  

3. Moroccan-style rugs

We all love a good bath mat, but this North African–influenced rug from @anitayokota goes above and beyond the normal threads on your bathroom floor.  “Moroccan-style rugs get my vote every time,” says set designer Dejon Gee, who insists that their power to transform a bathroom is positively magical. “This trend is so popular because it makes a space look like it's been put together over time."

4. Bathtub chandelier

If you really want to go all-out luxe this season, then a statement piece like this trending bathtub chandelier from @mmlighting might be just the thing.  “The easiest way to make your bathroom feel like you hired a designer? Add a bathtub chandelier,” says Dudley. “Bathtub chandeliers are here to stay, and there’s nothing more inviting than the glow of a chandelier over a bubble bath. You can go boho, glam, modern, minimal, whatever you want. My pro tip: Get a dimmer. I promise, after a long day you'll thank me. No candles needed.”

5. Minimalist floating shelves

Mixing and matching the essentials with extra glam is just one of those things designers excel at. But the rest of us? Not so much. Somehow, these minimalist floating shelves from @themerrythought are actually making it possible.  “Floating shelves are huge,” says Dudley. “I love adding natural wood ones in the bathroom to soften the space. They’re also a great place for jars of toiletries, a stack of hand towels, or a couple decorative items.”

 

 

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Source: Realtor.com, Author: Larissa Runkle, divides her time between living a cabin in the San Juan Mountains and traveling in a converted van with her partner and pup. She writes for real estate, finance, and lifestyle publications, and is also at work on several fiction projects.

May 15, 2021

Join Us for Business After Hours!!

Come and join us for food, drinks, networking and friends!!  Sponsored in part by the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce and our office, visit us on May 20th between the hours of 5pm and 7pm.  Everyone is Welcome!

 

For questions about this specific event -

email: events@buenavistacolorado.org / call 719-395-6612

 

Posted in Community News
May 10, 2021

8 Red Flags Home Buyers Will Notice!

 

The Red Flags and How to Address Them Correctly:

When my husband and I were house hunting, properties that had plastic taped over the windows or draft catchers below the exterior doors gave us pause: Did that mean the house wasn’t energy-efficient or warm enough in colder months? Newly retouched areas on the ceiling made us wonder if the sellers were covering up water damage from a leaky roof that had been patched but not replaced.

We weren't wrong to be spooked.  “When buyers walk into a home, they want to know it’s been well-maintained,” says Lynn Pineda, a Realtor® with eXp Realty in Southeast Florida. “Corroded air-conditioning vents, loose hinges on cabinets, and leaky faucets lead buyers to think, ‘If the seller can’t keep these things up, what big things are lurking behind the walls that haven't been taken care of?'”

As a seller, you should already know that legally, you can't hide any major problems with the house. So if your home needs some attention, don’t slap on a quick fix—you’re not fooling anybody, and you may just send potential buyers straight back out the door, says Chicago-based Frank Lesh, ambassador for the American Society of Home Inspectors.

“Sellers have to be careful not to put lipstick on a pig,” he cautions. “Just do the right thing, fix the problem, and make the deal go through a lot smoother for everybody.”  Here’s how to tackle eight common repairs properly to swing the odds in your favor.

1. A fresh coat of paint on one room's ceiling

The issue: A stained ceiling, possibly from a leak - “When we inspectors see cans of new stain-killing primers in the garage, we know that something happened,” says Lesh.  Do this instead: If you paint over a stain without making sure you don’t have an active leak, that stain can reappear in a month, adds Lesh, so bring in a professional who can rule out a leaky roof or some other problem.

2. Bathroom water is shut off

The issue: Your toilet runs constantly.  Do this instead: “The most common failure is the flapper in the toilet tank. There may be debris caught under it, preventing it from closing, and flappers wear out and need to be replaced from time to time,” says Lesh. “This is an inexpensive repair that any handy person can do.”

3. Newly painted trim

The issue: Wooden window frames past their prime - “A lot of times people paint over rotten wood, and think nobody's going to see that, but we can tell that it’s rotting. We just put our fingernail on the trim to see if it goes through the wood,” says Lesh.  Do this instead: Pull out the rotten trim and replace it.

4. Lights are off in just one room

Issue: Flickering lights in that room.  Do this instead: “Electrical issues can be dangerous, so if you’ve tried the lightbulb in another fixture and it works, then there may not be power going to the light,” says Lesh.  Pick up an inexpensive voltage tester, which lights up when electricity is present at the switch and fixture, he suggests. A handy homeowner may be able to trace the problem, but to be safe, call an electrician to make sure the wiring is correct.  “Old wiring can be a concern to some buyers, so sellers are better off just fixing it ahead of time,” adds Pineda.

5. Small space heaters or air conditioners set up

Issue: Some rooms are too cold or too warm - “If a home has central air conditioning, but in one room you see an additional AC unit sitting there, buyers are going to wonder why it’s not working,” says Pineda.  Do this instead: If you have a forced-air furnace, check to make sure the furnace filter, blower fan, ductwork, and grills are clean, advises Lesh.

“Sometimes debris clogs the system, and the further the cold room is away from the furnace, the harder it is to get heat,” he explains. “If you have radiators or baseboard units, make sure they’re clean and not obstructed.  "If the colder rooms are over an unconditioned space like a garage, then there may be poor insulation in that room, which will make the room harder to heat and cool," Lesh adds. "A home inspector who uses an infrared camera should be able to find the problem.”

6. Dehumidifier and air freshener in place

Issue: A bad smell in a damp room - “It raises my radar when I see or smell that,” says Lesh. “That's a real tipoff, because either there's mold or mildew, or something else.”  Do this instead: “There's typically a root cause for a room being damp, so you want to correct the cause, not put a Band-Aid on it," Lesh says. "If there's moisture getting in the house, that moisture is generally coming from outside. Figure out how to prevent water from getting in, not how to handle it after it gets in.”

7. Plastic wrap taped across every window

Issue: Old, drafty windows.  Do this instead: “Sealing the areas around the windows would be a good alternative to plastic wrap,” says Lesh, who suggests buying caulk in rope form, which can be molded to fit around large openings and cracks. “That’ll form an airtight seal, which will help keep drafts out.”

8. Strategically placed planters or shrubs

Issue: Puddles of water near your foundation.  Do this instead: Water should always drain away from your foundation, notes Lesh, so if it’s collecting against your house, this needs to be corrected.  

“Ask a professional why this is happening,” suggests Lesh. “Ask: Is the land sloping toward the house, which means water might eventually run into the lower level? Are the gutters clogged so water is pouring over the top and landing alongside the foundation?”  Taking the time now to fix things properly instead of rushing through a shoddy half-repair will pay off in the long run, advises Pineda.

“When you're selling a home, everything has to look pristine if you want to interest buyers and get the most money for your home,” she says. “Get it in tiptop shape. If don't you want to do all the repairs and the cleaning, then hire someone to come in and take care of it for you.”

 

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Source: Realtor.com, Author Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist and TV producer who covers real estate, architecture and design, DIY, gardening, and travel. Her work has appeared in Woman's Day, Metropolis, Costco Connection, Garden Collage, Parenting, Canadian Living, Canadian Gardening, and more.

April 19, 2021

Spring Maintenance Tasks that Shouldn't be Overlooked

 

Ah, the telltale signs of spring: trees in bloom, slightly warmer weather, allergies flaring—and a long list of chores to tackle around the house.  Before you pause to savor the sunnier days, it’s important to make sure your home is ready for the season. Here’s what experts say you need to include on your spring home maintenance checklist.

1. Check for leaks and water damage

Between winter storms and spring showers, this is a key time to check for water damage around your home and prevent small leaks from growing into major headaches.

DIY: Walk around the house, and check the rubber seals or metal flashings around vents, flues, and chimneys.

“When these seals begin to crack or rust, water will start to seep into the home,” says Craig Gjelsten, vice president of operations at Rainbow International Restoration. “If this issue isn’t resolved right away, you may experience mold and water damage throughout the home.”  You should also check window seals to see if any need to be replaced.  “Dampness around the edges of windows or on window ledges and cracking are signs that window seals may be deteriorating,” says Jason Metzger, senior vice president and head of risk management at PURE Insurance.

Call in the pros: If you catch a leak, it’s a good idea to call in reinforcements.

“Contact a professional and have them inspect and fix any cracked materials around the chimney or outside vents,” Gjelsten says. The cost of a standard chimney inspection starts around $100.  If your windows are still under warranty, you should be able to get busted seals fixed for free. Otherwise, you may be better off buying a replacement window, which runs from $175 to $650.

2. Spruce up the yard

Now is the time to tend to your outdoor space, including any trees or foliage that are looming a little too close to the house or power lines. These trees can pose risks, including “infestation of bugs [and] foundation issues from the tree roots getting too close to the house and becoming a fire hazard,” Gjelsten says.  Plus, if you live in an area prone to hurricanes or tornadoes, heavy winds could bring a tree down, which is dangerous if it gets close to the house.

DIY: Pick a pleasant day, head outside, and get to work.  “Clean up the yard, and get rid of any dried-up bushes or dead plants, as those could be a fire hazard down the road,” Gjelsten says.

Call in the pros: While it’s perfectly safe to take on some pruning, more extreme tree maintenance is best left to the pros.  Quotes range across the country and depend on the number of trees you need to trim, Gjelsten says. They begin around $200 on the low end.  This is also a good time to schedule an annual tree inspection with a certified arborist. An initial consultation might be free, or could run $80 to $150.  “They can identify both hidden and visible health issues and weaknesses that could make a tree more vulnerable to the strong winds or excessive rains of spring and summer storms,” Metzger says.

3. Deep-clean your carpeting

Between the coronavirus pandemic and harsh winter storms across the country, most of us have been staying inside more than ever––and all that time indoors is taking a toll on the carpet.  “Deep-cleaning your carpets is a home maintenance task that might be more popular this year than others, with homes doubling as classrooms, offices, and rec rooms for an entire year now,” Gjelsten says.

DIY: Any homeowner can handle a simple spot clean. Just “be sure to pretest your cleaning solution in an inconspicuous location and allow it to dry to test for colorfastness before using it on the rest of the carpet,” Gjelsten says.

Call in the pros: For a big job, Gjelsten suggests hiring professionals rather than renting a carpet cleaning machine from the hardware store.  “By the time you purchase the cleaning solutions, this entire process would have cost you more money and time than what you originally thought.”  Plus, portable machines aren’t as powerful as professional equipment.  The cost to hire carpet cleaners depends on the size of the space and starts around $100, Gjelsten says.

4. Check on your sump pump

April showers bring May flowers—and flooding, if your sump pump fails.  “It’s easy for sump pumps to fail during severe storms, so it’s crucial to test yours quarterly to check for any concerns or backup,” Metzger says.

DIY: Keep your sump pump clean and free of debris to keep it working properly.  “You may want to consider connecting it to a backup power source or installing an alarm to prevent emergencies,” Metzger adds.

Call in the pros: When the sump pump stops working, homeowners often find out the hard way when they discover moisture in the basement. Watch for signs of a sump pump in disrepair, and call in a pro if you notice anything unusual, Repair costs typically run about $300 to $700, according to HomeAdvisor.

5. Flush your water heater

Don’t take your long, hot showers for granted.  “If you have not been flushing your water heater yearly, now is a great time to start,” says Mike Mushinski, president of bluefrog Plumbing + Drain. “The liner in your tank expands and contracts, especially during the winter, if it is in an area that is not insulated. This expansion and contraction can cause sediment to break free.”  Over time, gunk builds up in the water heater, and you need to flush it out periodically to keep it running smoothly.

DIY: Handy homeowners can tackle this task on their own within a few hours. Online tutorials outline everything you’ll need, from a bucket to a shop vacuum.

Call in the pros: If you don’t have the equipment (or you just don’t want to get up close and personal with the gunk that’s been built up in your water heater), you can hire a plumber to handle it for about $100.

6. Replace fire extinguishers

Spring is a good time to check the fire extinguisher(s) in your house.  “It is recommended that fire extinguishers are replaced every 10 to 15 years, as they tend to lose their charge,” Gjelsten says.

DIY: This is a task any homeowners can accomplish on their own. Check the tag that shows the last time the extinguisher received maintenance, and inspect the gauge to make sure it’s in the green.  “The pin should also pop back up when pushed down, to signal that the extinguisher still has the right amount of pressure, should you need to use it,” Gjelsten says.

 

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Author: Lauren Sieben is a writer in Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Washington Post, Milwaukee Magazine, and other outlets.  Source: Realtor.com

April 5, 2021

When is the Right Time to Sell Your Home?

 

Is now the best time to sell your home? That's an intensely personal question that depends on a number of factors -- many of them beyond your control. In 2006, some sellers might have been wondering if they should have waited another year and netted even more profit ... but today we know that those sellers would have kicked themselves for making that decision.

Still, major economic shifts aside, there are ways you can manipulate your home's sale to best benefit you and your family as you move into a bigger place or downsize to better fit your lifestyle. When you're trying to target the most opportune time to put your home on the market, it helps to consider all of the factors involved and control what you can to maximize your price and profit.

 

The annual real estate doldrums ...

Most advice you'll hear about selling will be different, but there's one time of year that most experts believe you should avoid when it comes to listing a home: wintertime.

It makes sense. Between the holiday season and, in some parts of the country, the weather, there aren't too many buyers incentivized to disrupt their lives and move into a new home, which means they aren't really thinking about shopping for one, either -- at least in some markets. And fewer buyers means less of a chance that your home will be one of the homes that sell.

Winter also isn't a very fun time of year to be a seller, logistically speaking. You might think you'll get out of yard work (and you'll be right), but you'll probably be cleaning up after visitors tracking rain and snow through your just-cleaned house while they tour it in exchange.

There will be circumstances under which you have to sell in the wintertime -- and there are almost always buyers who need to find a place to live quickly, too. And if the housing market in your neighborhood is really hot, or if you can find a buyer who needs to relocate with some urgency, then it might not matter that there's snow on the ground; more buyers will want to find a home because right now is when they can buy. So, like any "truth," this is one to run by the real estate professional helping you make the decision before you turn against winter sales forever.

 

... And the peak selling season

Just like many experts will warn you against winter, springtime is commonly considered one of the best times of the year to sell a home. Buyers are interested in making a fresh start, yards look lush and green, days are starting to get longer, and tax season gives some buyers a leap ahead on any down payment savings.

So does that mean you should sell in the springtime? Maybe ... but be aware that other sellers are going to have the same idea. There will be competition in the form of more homes available on the market, and that might mean you need to spend a little bit more money to fix it up before you list it, and spend more time vacating the premises while potential buyers take a look around.

Those buyers also might have the options available to be pickier in the home they end up buying, and that could mean they demand changes to yours before paying for it -- or pass altogether. And you may need to be more aggressive in your marketing tactics to capture their attention in the first place.

One benefit of listing in the spring, however, is that because it is typically the busiest sales season of the year, if you're hoping to nail down the best price at which to list your home, there will also be more comparable listings (comps) available to help you find that figure.

Summer and fall aren't as popular as spring for listing homes, but either might be a better choice for your particular home, depending on its features.

 

Your home's favorite time of year

Here's the thing about all conventional wisdom: It's geared toward the median, the "normal," the middle-of-the-road. But the reality is all over the map, and the conventional wisdom for your home could be very different from the norm.

For example, if you live in a ski resort town, then wintertime could be the very best time of year to list your home -- when the area is full of visitors who are enjoying themselves and wondering whether they might be able to make a permanent move work.

Perhaps you own a family-sized house with a little room to grow that's just a two-block walk from one of the most desirable elementary schools in your metro area. In that case, it might make less sense to list your home in the early spring, when many families with young children will be preoccupied with the end of the school year, and instead list in early summer, when they're able to seriously consider a move.

Or perhaps the fall foliage in your part of the world is something tourists travel hundreds of miles to absorb, and you've got a grove of beautiful deciduous trees in your yard. Perhaps you have a swimming pool or deck area that really shines in the summertime. Or maybe it's your flower garden that makes passersby stop and stare at your house, and the spring really is the best time for you.

 

Does the day of the week matter?

Actually, it might. According to a couple of different studies, homes that were listed on Thursday or Friday have been found to sell in the shortest length of time for slightly higher prices than any other homes.

It's possible that the timing of the weekend is what's honing Thursday's and Friday's edge over the other days of the week. Buyers are more likely to have time to schedule home tours or attend open houses over the weekend, and there are likely to be more of those buyers looking at each house (and therefore more chances of getting an offer, or maybe even multiple offers). And if the home was just listed and buyers see that competition for themselves, they're more likely to put in a full-price offer for the home.

It's usually not a good idea to list a home on a weekend, and you're less likely to see buyer appointments to tour homes earlier in the week, so if you can't swing a Thursday or Friday, try a Wednesday.

 

Timing isn't everything

Even if you think you've nailed the absolute best time to sell your home and you've done all you can repair-wise to maximize your chances, there's one big mistake that could shoot all your efforts right in the foot: Pricing your home incorrectly when you first list it.

Some sellers don't think this is the huge deal that it really (really!) is. Serious buyers sign up to property watch lists and get an alert as soon as a home is listed on the MLS. Most of the buyers who could buy your home are going to see its listing within the first 48 hours of that listing being "live."

Unless you overpriced it, of course. Then those buyers won't see it until you reduce the price down to a more realistic level -- and you might think that the price is a starting point of negotiation, but a qualified buyer is searching for "homes I am qualified to buy right now," not "homes I am not qualified to buy right now but that might drop into my price range later."

So you get one big chance to make your home's big debut in front of its buyers. And if you set the price too high (or too low, for that matter), you've blown it.

That's why the best way to maximize your home's price is to talk to a qualified agent, who can help you figure it out -- and why the best time to sell is when you're ready.

 

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Posted in Selling Your Home
March 15, 2021

Financing Tips on Buying

 

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril.  Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that "for sale" sign on your new home.

Get Pre-Approved.

Sub-primes may be history, but you'll probably still be shown homes you can't actually afford.  By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can't afford.  You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house  Unlike pre-qualifications  which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based your actual incomes, debt and credit history.  By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you'll be less likely to get in over your head.

Choose your mortgage carefully.

Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible.  Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it's better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year.  this way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good.  Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate.  If you plan to stay in the house for a long time - and given the current real estate market, you should - taking the points will save you money.

Do your homework before bidding.  Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood.  Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months.  For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent more than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8-10 percent higher than what the seller is asking.  

 

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(Article derived from an outside source and not necessarily the views of this company)

Posted in Buying a Home
March 1, 2021

5 Ways to Repurpose Old Windows

 

Windows bring light, warmth, and beauty to a home. But over the years, like other components of a house, they get worn out and eventually need to be replaced.

The life expectancy of a window will vary based on its materials and your location, but most should last about 20 years. When it's time to upgrade, don't just toss those old panes—upcycle them into something cool.  “The five signs you need to replace your windows are: rising heating and cooling costs, drafts on windy days, difficulty raising and lowering windows, condensation between glass panes, and cold-to-the-touch glass,” says Brad Roberson, president of Glass Doctor.

Once you've determined it's time for a window refresh, consider what you can do with those old frames. Old windows can be repurposed into pieces of art, furniture, and even organizing solutions for your home.  Not planning on replacing your windows any time soon? You can also find discarded old windows at junkyards and thrift stores.  So gather up those antiquated panes and try out one of the following creative projects.

Wall art, picture frames

The most common way to repurpose window frames is as wall decor, using them to frame photos or paintings.  “Place patterned paper inside the old window frame, to create an inexpensive work of art,” says David Flax, vice president of operations at Window Genie.

Or unleash your inner Picasso and paint your own work of art. Maggie Houseknecht, who runs Rightupmyalley on Etsy, has been repurposing old windows since the late 1990s. Her shop features repurposed windows made into beautiful hand-painted art and furniture.  “Flowers brighten my day, so I love to create various flower scenes, in the hopes of adding cheer to any home,” says Houseknecht.

Entryway key holder

Turn something old into something new by reusing your old window to liven up your entryway and provide a handy place to leave keys.  “With the help of a few hooks, an old window can be made into a rustic key holder for your entryway,” says Flax.  After sanding and repainting the frame, he suggests, simply attach a few hooks along the bottom for keys, hats, and other small items.

Message board

With a little imagination and a single old window, you can create a one-of-a-kind message board for your home.  Secure colored or patterned paper behind the glass panes and write on the glass, as you would on a dry-erase board.  “Your family will love writing little messages and reminders to one another!” says Flax.

Old windows can also be reused to make a blackboard for the kitchen, mudroom, or breakfast nook. Flax says you can do this by painting the panes with chalkboard paint.  If your window frame is missing glass, apply chalkboard paint to the wall in the shape of a square, and hang the frame in front of it.

Coffee table

The coffee table is the centerpiece of any living room, and sometimes it can even serve as a conversation starter. Show off your DIY skills by building a piece of furniture out of an old window.

“This project requires a bit more effort, but the results can be stunning. You’ll need to replace the old panes with safety glass, mount the frame to scrap wood for extra stability, and attach a leg to each corner,” says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations at Mr. Handyman.

Marty Walden, who runs the blog Marty’s Musingssays it took her and her husband three to four hours to repurpose a window into a coffee table. They even installed a hinge, so that the top of the table opens up. Books and magazines can be placed underneath and exposed through the glass.

Jewelry organizer

Showcase your necklaces and earrings—and keep them from getting tangled—with a wall-mounted jewelry organizer made from an antique window.  “Replace the glass with chicken wire, and install a few hooks on the frame,” says Flax. “Now you have the perfect place to store and display your jewelry collection.”

 

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Author: Anayat Durrani is a freelance education reporter for U.S. News and World Report. Her work has been featured in Military Officer, California Lawyer, the American Scholar, and PracticeLink magazines.  Source: Realtor.com

Feb. 15, 2021

11 Tips for Buying a Home

Buying a house -- whether it's your first or fifth -- can be a bumpy process. Between the financing, the availability (or scarcity) of homes on the market in your price range that meet your needs, the offer process, the appraisal and the inspection, there's a lot that can go wrong between deciding that you are in the market for a new home and turning the keys for the first time in your new front door.

But there's a lot that buyers can do to make the process smoother. Here are eleven tips.

Get a handle on your finances

1. Check your own credit
If you're like most Americans, you'll need a mortgage loan in order to purchase a house. The amount of money that a lender is willing to loan you will depend on several factors, including your current income, the amount of down payment that you're bringing to the table, and your credit.

You might or might not have a lot of influence over your current income, and you might or might not have wiggle room to save up for a down payment, but one thing that you can almost always work on is your credit. Get copies of your credit report to ensure that everything on it is accurate; fix any errors, and consider talking to a credit expert who can tell you which payments to prioritize and how to improve your score.

2. Research sales price in your area
While you're considering exactly what kind of home you want yet (and we'll get to that), you'll also want to think about how much that home might cost. This would be a good time to talk to an expert, like a real estate agent, about the sales prices in the area. An agent can show you current active listings and is also a good resource to tap when you have other financial questions about homeowners' insurance or other costs of homeownership, like common maintenance costs in the area.

 

3. Nail down the down payment
Different loans have different down payment standards, but if you are bringing less than 20 percent of the home's sales price to the table, then you'll wind up paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your mortgage loan.

There are a number of programs that will help you secure some or all of your down payment if you know where to look. Start at downpaymentresource.com to see what's available in your area for your demographic.

4. Consider all the costs
There's more than PMI to think about when it comes to a mortgage loan -- you will also be paying property taxes and homeowners' insurance premiums on the house. Depending on where it is, you might also need to spend some money on flood insurance, and often supplementary earthquake policies are worth considering, too. You will likely need to pay closing costs, and you probably have furniture and items to move, so you'll have to cover those expenses. And then there's the wear and tear on the home and the cost to repair it, and the costs of utilities from month to month; a good local real estate agent can help you figure out what to expect.

 

5. Figure out what you can afford
There might be some solid financial reasons why you want to buy a house, but you also want to make sure that you're not getting in over your head. Ideally, your monthly mortgage payment (which includes taxes, insurance, and other costs) should comprise no more than one-third of your monthly take-home income.

Talk to a loan officer about your options. Expect to provide a ton of paperwork (including your credit report) before you can get preapproved for a mortgage, but once you get this step out of the way, you're ready to start seriously shopping -- your preapproval means you won't need to deal with all that paperwork when the time comes to make an offer (never an ideal moment, especially in a hot market).

Start searching

6. Understand what you want
Hand-in-hand with what you can afford is what you actually want in terms of a place to live. If you have three large dogs, then a fifth-floor condo in the city probably isn't a great option for you, for example, but you might be able to look beyond a single-family home. (Perhaps there's a big duplex with a large fenced backyard on the market, for example.) Again, this is an area where an experienced local real estate agent can help you see alternative choices.

And understand how your wants and needs might shift as you own the home. Expect to be there for at least a couple of years, but probably closer to five or even ten. Maybe you don't have kids now, but if you and your spouse have been thinking about it, then it's probably a good idea to consider school districts.

7. Get to know your dealbreakers
Almost as important as knowing what you want in a home is knowing what you definitely don't want. But don't confuse a "dislike" with a true and genuine dealbreaker -- a feature of the home that you can't realistically fix.

If you haven't tapped into the expertise of a real estate agent yet, now would be the time. An agent can help you understand what's fixable and what's not in the house you're just not sure is a good fit.

8. Search accordingly
One tool that real estate agents have that the general public doesn't is access to the local multiple listing service (MLS), where homes are actually listed for sale. Once you understand your must-haves and your dealbreakers, your agent can set up a personalized alert anytime a home that meets your exact criteria is listed on the market.

Offer smart and close strong

9. Think competitive but reasonable
You probably want to avoid a bidding war (not great for your wallet!), so you'll want to make an offer that the seller will consider competitive. At the same time, you don't want to pay more when the seller would accept less; an experienced real estate agent can help you navigate the field of exactly what to pay and come up with an amount that's a good deal for you and priced high enough to capture the seller's attention.

Don't forget that there are other concessions you can make to sweeten the deal beyond sales price -- like giving the seller control over the closing timeline or offering to split the price of any necessary repairs discovered in the inspection. Your agent can walk you through popular options here, too.

10. Hire the inspector
One aspect of the closing process where you probably want to retain control is the inspector. Make sure you are present for the inspection and listen carefully to any concerns that he or she has about the property. Ask questions about common problems that the inspector sees and whether there's any evidence of them in this home. And consider what you'll ask the seller to fix (above and beyond what they might be mandated to fix) and what you're okay tackling yourself once the place is yours.

 

11. Think beyond the close
You'll be in your home for a few years, so it's a good idea to keep tabs on the market in at least a casual way so that when the time comes to renew your homeowners' insurance policy, you have a clear idea of whether you're under-insured or not. And obviously, the better you maintain your home while you live in it, the less chance that you'll be surprised by something you must fix at the inspection when the time comes to sell it.

Your agent can remain a resource for you by providing market statistics and connecting you with local contractors who can fix any issues you encounter in your new era as a homeowner.

 

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Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 1, 2021

Kitchen Design Trends You Can Break

 

The kitchen is a major focal point of a home—after all, it's where meals are made to nourish your family, and where guests (when you can host them safely again) tend to gather, no matter how carefully you've arranged your living room. Because of that, the kitchen is a key selling point, which may intimidate some people from thinking outside the box when it comes to kitchen design.

But here's the thing: Kitchen design experts say 2021 is not the year to hold back. You may appreciate your kitchen’s look now and think, “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” But the new year represents hope and new beginnings unlike any other in recent memory. So when it comes to updating the heart of your home, allow yourself to get creative and break some rules.

Rule No. 1 to break: You must have bulky upper cabinets

What’s a kitchen without necessary storage space for all your glasses, mugs, and plates to live? Sure, you need a place to put all of your dinnerware, but there is such a thing as too much cabinetry. And eliminating cabinetry can actually significantly improve the look of your kitchen.

"The formulaic approach to kitchen storage includes upper-wall cabinets, but that's one of my favorite design rules to break,” says Houston-based interior designer Nina Magon. “I like to eliminate the upper cabinets altogether; it makes the space feel larger."  Getting rid of upper cabinets frees up wall space for something visually stunning like art or a full-slab backsplash that extends to the ceiling in a dramatic colorway, Magon adds. “It instantly elevates the aesthetic.”  But where will all your salad bowls and small appliances live?  Magon suggests maximizing storage in an island or base cabinets, where everything is easier to reach.

Rule No. 2 to break: The kitchen island must be stationary

While you might think islands need to be fixed to the floor with cabinets below, that design doesn’t always work in smaller kitchens.  “Look beyond traditional design to create spaces that are more flexible,” says Toronto-based interior designer Ashley Rumsey. "A mobile kitchen island with an open base allows the piece to be an active element that, when equipped with lockable casters, can move to meet your needs rather than simply serving as a storage component.”

A floating island can serve as a homework station by day and food prep station at mealtime—the perfect multitasking piece for quarantine.  “To achieve this, bring in a bar-height table, clad with ultradurable surfacing like Silestone or Dekton by Cosentino, into the mix,” says Rumsey.

Rule No. 3 to break: Keep the kitchen all white

When redoing a kitchen, the first thing you might be thinking about is color scheme. White is always a popular and safe choice. But for designers like Magon, the all-white kitchen is often her first design rule to break, and she expects others to do so in 2021.  “I’m a big fan of a dark, moody kitchen and the combination of black and white,” Magon says. She says going dark with countertops (made of a high-gloss material like quartz or Dekton), cabinetry, or appliances brings a more luxurious look.  (We're also in favor of cabinets in midnight blue or dark green.)

Rule No. 4 to break: Match all your kitchen finishes

Faucets, lighting fixtures, cabinet hardware, and appliances in the kitchen should all match, right? Wrong! Mixing these finishes is highly encouraged from here on out.  "Sticking to one finish may seem like the safe and easy route, but mixing metals can completely elevate a kitchen's aesthetic,” says designer Lori Paranjape of Redo Home + Design in Nashville, TN.  One of Paranjape's favorite combinations is a kitchen faucet in matte black juxtaposed with a brass pot filler or brass cabinet hardware.  “The key to breaking this rule is installing a design element that brings the two metals together, such as a light fixture that incorporates both,” says Paranjape.

Rule No. 5 to break: Install lights just for function

Most people use lighting to illuminate their kitchen so they can see what they're cooking, but accent lighting can also be used in this space to give it more visual interest.  “I love using vanity and picture lights above kitchen sinks and even above open shelving," says Los Angeles–based interior designer Ryan Saghian. "It can really look fabulous in unexpected applications." “These are so much nicer than a flush or can light, and can give a sophisticated feel," Saghian explains.

 

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Author: Anayat Durrani is a freelance education reporter for U.S. News and World Report. Her work has been featured in Military Officer, California Lawyer, the American Scholar, and PracticeLink magazines.  Source: Realtor.com