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Realtor Magazine - There is no inflation, says the federal government. The consumer price index rose by only 0.4 percent in 2015 so there will be no cost-of-living adjustment to Social Security checks this year. However, as most real estate professionals know, housing costs are still climbing. Rents rose at their highest pace in seven years and home prices nationally increased by 6 percent. That would be three times the pace of average wage growth. Housing costs are expected to keep rising in 2016 simply because not enough homes are being built.From 2009 to today, new construction of single-family homes, condominiums, and apartment units totaled 5.6 million. Over the same period, approximately 1.7 million housing units were deemed uninhabitable or obsolete and were demolished and removed from the housing stock. These two figures result in a net addition of 3.9 million housing units to the country’s stock. Is that adequate in light of 17.3 million additional people living in the country over the same period?
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(RealtyTImes.com) - Chic, iconic, and surprising, log cabins are one of the hottest trends in homebuilding, with amazing examples of craftsmanship standing all around the world. Some of today's most inspired log cabin designs are in unexpected places, while others command attention from a mountaintop while showcasing views that are nothing short of amazing. Either way, the log cabin attaches its own unique sense of history and architecture.
"The cabin is an icon. Think of the legendary mountain man Jeremiah Johnson building his own home in the Rocky Mountains, or the teams of lumberjacks that once shared a meal after a long day of work in the forests of Eastern Canada," said Digital Trends. "The log cabins built by those settling the Oregon Trail were the symbols of a life on the edge of the frontier, and as far back as the Viking age, the massive wooden structures were the centers of family and community life. Even today, cabins evoke a sense of comfort and freedom, representing a refuge from the stresses of modern life and serving as a symbol for shelter against the harsh elements of nature."
Check out these inspiring log cabins, ranging from traditional looks to modern adaptations.
Who says that just because the word "cabin" is in the name that it has to be small? "Timber Moose, this enormous fortress-like cabin, is the largest privately owned cabin in the US. It features a swimming pool, massive kitchen and dining areas, a crow's nest, and enough room to accommodate you and 60 of your friends," said Digital Trends.
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U.S. News - Spring is the perfect time to freshen up your current home or to remodel your current home for a quick sale. Here is a great article from U.S. News about the latest and greatest spring trends for the bathroom and kitchen. When it comes to bathroom remodels, the owner can expect to recoup up to 70% of the cost and for kitchen remodels it's slightly lower at 67%. This brings the question, is it worth it? The answer depends on who is the target market for your home. If you're selling a home as a fixer-upper, don't invest the extra money. If your seeking top dollar and want a quick sale to a younger family, updating the kitchen and bath will defiantly bring some eye appeal to your home. Below you will see the current trend of an open kitchen that leads to a family room which connects the two most important areas of the home for most.
You can find the whole story here from U.S. News
Houselogic.com - As adults, having an outdoor retreat adds an economic component: Upwards of 80% of homebuyers said patios and front porches are “essential” or “desirable,” according to the “What Buyers Really Want” survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
So how come when we move into our dream home, we hardly ever use our decks, porches, and patios?
An anthropological UCLA study, described in the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” blames our fascination with digital devices — tablets, computers, televisions, games — for keeping us cooped up. The UCLA research participants spent less than half an hour each week in their outdoor space. And these were Californians.
So this summer let’s make a pledge to pay more than lip service to outdoor living so we can be happier, create lasting memories, and generally take advantage of what home has to offer.
1. Go Overboard on Comfy
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic
When you step into your outdoor space, your first sensation should be ‘ahhhh’. If you’re not feeling it, then your space is likely lacking the comfy factor. Comfy is easy to achieve and can be as low cost as you want. Start simple with a cushion or two or even a throw. Some other simple strategies:
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/decks/outdoor-living-ideas/#ixzz3Z8Yd6kej
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Just because there are slim pickings at the start of this spring's housing season doesn't mean sellers are in the driver's seat entirely. Today's homebuyers are a nit-picky, recession-scarred bunch, and they want to get serious value for their hard-earned cash. Sellers need to not only price their homes carefully, but prepare their homes thoroughly for the process. Here are some tips:
First impressions matter, and this is a first date you don't want to end up paying for. Clean up the landscaping and freshen up the flowers. Take down your tacky tidbits and decorative flags, and consider some color updates. One new coat on the garage can make a difference.
Nobody wants to see how you live and with whom you live. Take your babies off the walls and trade them for fancy-free, faceless photos that make potential buyers better able to picture themselves in the home. If you have seriously un-generic taste in art, put it in storage. It doesn't matter how pricy the pieces, buyers aren't art experts, and taste is entirely individual.
Don't just make the beds, but de-clutter and minimize. You might like the stack of magazines on the table, buyers don't. They don't want to know what you read. They might not agree with your fun pillow sayings. A little work and a big trash bag can make a huge difference. If your house is empty, you might have a professional come in and stage your home with rented furniture and design sundries.
Small projects = big returns
Don't do major renovations. You won't get the money back in the purchase price. Do choose some updates, especially in the kitchen and bath. Maybe you re-grout the tile, maybe it's a new countertop or backsplash. If you can, add space where it doesn't exist, like refinishing the basement. Believe it or not, a new front door offers one of the highest returns.
Check for cracks
Big cracks. In your foundation, in your stucco, in any structural area. Inspectors will come through and red flag this to potential buyers. Odds are it will cost you a lot less to fix it now than later, and you don't want buyers negotiating repairs into the purchase price.
Keep it cool
Don't turn up the heat on your buyers, especially if it's still cold out. They're coming in coats, and the hotter it is inside, the more they're going to want to leave. Warm doesn't always mean welcome.
Your barn door is open. No, you're not letting someone know their zipper is down. You're simply remarking on one of today's hottest design trends.
"From trendy bathrooms to hidden home offices, barn doors provide an ultra-stylish solution for cramped spaces," said Bob Vila.
But while barn doors may have once been used almost exclusively in small spaces that couldn't accommodate a swinging door, that is not the case today. Nor are barn doors strictly limited to the rustic/reclaimed look that once defined the feature.
"Barn doors are definitely trending right now, and there are so many ways to introduce them into a space. The finish of the doors can easily take them from the farm to an urban loft—and the actual doors are just half of the allure," said Popsugar.
"With all of the gorgeous hardware options available, it's almost like choosing a piece of jewelry or a handbag. Depending on how utilitarian you'd like the finished product to be, you could choose anything from sleek chrome to chunky iron. I pulled together a range of inspiring photos that will spark ideas for how you might be able to pull this look off in your home.
The great advantage of adding a barn door to your home: design trends come and go, but those that are pretty and functional tend to stick around awhile.
With winter in full force here in the Alexandria lakes area, here are ten tips to keep your home safe. With the cold temps home owners seek warmth and comfort thus the use of candles and space heaters skyrockets. Both of which bring the threat of a house fire. Read the ten tips below and together we can keep our families and homes safe!
1. Have your furnace checked. It's worth the money to hire a professional to inspect and service your furnace once a year. If it's going to conk out, it's better to know trouble is coming.
2. Have your chimneys and vents checked. Fireplaces produce creosote which can ignite. If you light fires frequently, you need a chimney sweep service once a year. When you burn wood, make sure it's dry and seasoned so that it produces more flame and less smoke.
3. Test smoke alarms. Make sure batteries are fresh. Place smoke alarms in the kitchen, laundry room and in bedrooms.
4. Cover the fireplace with a screen. Tempered glass or a metal screen helps protect sparks from leaving the fireplace. Even so, make sure that children and pets sit at least three feet away when you light a fire in the fireplace.
5. Beware of lit candles. Candles can set the mood for relaxation, and that's how they get forgotten or knocked over by kids or pets. Light candles only when you're around to watch them and blow them out when you're ready to leave the room. Ditto for cigarettes, pipes, etc. If you're going to smoke, try to do it outside.
6. Beware of space heaters. The name should give you a clue -- space heaters need space. Like fireplaces, people and pets should not be allowed to sit any closer than three feet. Don't put space heaters near curtains, tablecloths or other fluttering fabrics. Make sure the space heaters you buy have automatic shut-offs before reaching dangerous temperatures.
7. Know how to put out kitchen fires quickly. Water doesn't help a greasefire, which can get out of control. Keep salt and baking soda on hand to sprinkle liberally on pan fires. Keep lids handy to put on top of pots and pans that get too hot.
8. Practice an escape route. Businesses have fire drills, your family should, too. Teach your family to crawl to the nearest exit from every room. Show them how to drop and roll if their clothes were ever to catch on fire.
9. Fire extinguishers can be life-savers. Store one under the kitchen sink, and in the hall closet near the bedrooms. Make sure you use the correct setting -- A for paper, wood and trash; B for grease and flammable liquids; C for small electrical fires.
10. All household members should know 911. You've heard the stories -- the four-year old who saved his grandmother's life with a 911 call. In a fire, every person in the home can be a potential hero if they know what to do.
Is 2015 the year to sell your house?
Yahoo Finance - Home price gains are slowing, credit is thawing and more first-time buyers may be hitting the real estate market in 2015.Better balance in the housing sector is "in" next year, as far as trends go. That's likely to put buyers and sellers on a more even footing.
Some prospective sellers sound especially bullish on housing. In a recent Trulia survey, the biggest chunk of consumers – 36% – said they expect next year to be much or a little better than 2014 for selling a home.
To be sure, like politics, all real estate is local. Some sellers have stayed on the sidelines in recent years, investing in improvements amid a dearth of buyers. For others, low inventory and rising home prices meant a bidding-war bonanza.
The landscape next year's sellers are likely to encounter depends a lot on where they live. But here are a few broad trends to bear in mind.
Realtor.com - A recent editorial in the New York Timesfocused on homeownership and wealth creation, drawing on research from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University and concluding that “as a means to building wealth, there is no practical substitute for homeownership.”
But just why is homeownership so important to building wealth? Here’s what the researchers at Harvard found in their 2013 research, and what it means for you today.
A Mortgage Forces You to Save
Buying a home through a mortgage forces savings through the form of the monthly payments of principal. Rent vs. buy arguments normally focus on the monthly payments, and the buying cost is a function of the monthly mortgage payment as well as escrows (insurance and property taxes).
But the mortgage payment comprises an interest component and a principal component, and the way the payments are split between interest and reduction of principal (the total amount borrowed) changes over time. In general, more interest is paid at the beginning of the mortgage. The longer you have the loan, the greater the share of your payments that is going to pay it down.
The payment of principal as the loan ages is, therefore, a forced savings plan whose deposits are growing—without any more being taken out of your pocket.
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Buying Luxury properties: What you should know
Across the United States, the sale of luxury homes and condos has increased and hitting new records. Thanks to the many different designs, styles, and sizes that are available for luxury homes, sales in 2013 reached an all-time high in sales of homes priced over $2 million. There are many different reasons for this increase including a better job market, rise in international buyers, and out of the places that have luxury homes, the United States is considered relatively inexpensive. Here are some things that you will need to do or know in order to get best deal on your new luxury home or condo.
As with any real estate purchase it is good to do your research before approaching a real estate agent or going ahead with the buy. In many cases, luxury homes or condos are larger and have amenities that you will need to do further research on. For example, Privé offers many comforts for their residents including: private elevator access, massage rooms, toddlers’ playroom, two-story gym/spa, concierge, and pools. It’s up to you whether or not you think that you would use amenities such as these that are offered at many luxury condos and home complexes. There are many that would find certain amenities frivolous, and others that would use them every day, it all just depends upon your lifestyle. It's always good to search online for different areas within the same city, compare them to each other, determine what you do and don't like about certain places, and bring it all to an experienced real estate agent that can help you find what you are looking for.
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