As we are about to bring in the New Year, families across the country will be deciding if this is the year that they will sell their current house and move into their dream home. Many will decide that it is smarter to wait until the spring “buyer’s market” to list their house. In the past, that might have made sense. However, this winter is not like recent years.
The recent jump in mortgage rates has forced buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!! At the same time, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year.
Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:
Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2017, now may be the time.
Find out the biggest decor trends now, before they dominate on Instagram.
Although it hasn’t arrived yet, 2017 is already shaping up to be an interesting year for decor. There’s a sea change coming to our homes that designers have been sensing over the past few months, especially in areas that have long been dominated by one look. For example: granite countertops. For the longest time, you couldn’t watch five minutes of a real estate hunting–type show without hearing a potential homeowner wax poetically about the virtues of the pricey material. But a cursory glance through Instagram’s top design accounts shows a surprising lack of the ubiquitous material, which possibly signals the end of the granite era. Instead, trends for 2017 are all about options that express your unique perspective on decor — and this idea goes far beyond our kitchens.
“Home interiors and the concept of ‘living well’ [are] changing,” says New York, NY–based interior designer Heather Higgins. “It is less about opulence and fashion and more about comfort, ease, and a sense of personal style.” The emphasis on individualism is resulting in the rise of trends that are anything but traditional. Here are the top looks that have registered on the radar of design experts, along with a few formerly popular decor ideas that will be on the wane in 2017.
1. Cerused woods
Also referred to as a limed-wax finish, this technique adds color to wood while also revealing its unusual grain. It’s expected to be big for cabinets and flooring, especially in dramatic hues of black, “greige,” and dark gray.
2. Marble surfaces
If we had to name one of the biggest trends of 2017, marble would be it. In white or black, the material has jumped over from chic cafes and restaurants and into our kitchens and bathrooms. It’s not just for countertops, though: Look out for marble motifs in carpets, wallcoverings, and even fabrics.
3. Animal-inspired textures
Whether real or faux, leather, shagreen, and parchment will be hot materials for 2017. Mainly, these hides will be used as an unexpected pop of texture in accent furniture.
4. Statement headboards
Designers have noticed a pattern when it comes to beds: The emphasis is on a headboard rather than a traditional bed (the kind that comes with a matching footboard). And those headboards? They’re statement pieces with bold silhouettes and luxe fabrics.
5. Shiny metal finishes
Think shiny hardware is so ’80s? Think again. Polished brass and bronze knobs, knockers, pulls, and faucets are back in a big way. It’s a trend that’s easy to bring into your home — just swap out your current hardware.
6. Matte appliances
Stainless steel has long been the default choice for stylish kitchens everywhere. Not in 2017. Following the trend in beauty, matte-finish appliances in dark hues bring an element of drama into the kitchen.
7. Patterned wallcoverings
After years of solid walls, wallpaper is poised for a comeback. Designers are seeing an interest in all-over, dramatic patterns like paisley, overscaled florals, and abstract designs. You’ll see these wallcoverings in small spaces, like powder rooms, often in darker hues.
8. Jewel tones
No longer are homeowners (and renters with understanding landlords) content with blank white walls. Jewel tones like emerald and amethyst add warmth and personality to a space, particularly in entryways and small spaces. It’s not just about hue but also intensity. Even neutral paint colors like gray can go bolder.
9. Nailhead details
You’ve seen them on sofas for ages, but now nailhead details jump to accent pieces like storage chests, credenzas, and even light fixtures. They even form their own patterns — no longer limited to the edges.
10. Overdyed rugs
We’ll never see sisals and solids go out of fashion, but there is something new in the world of rugs. It’s all about an overdyed effect that features rich, saturated colors. These colorful showstoppers are practically pieces of art for your floor.
Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).
In a Forbesarticle, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief EconomistLawrence Yun predicts that by the end of 2016, the net worth gap will widen even further to 45 times greater.
The graph below demonstrates the results of the last two Federal Reserve studies and Yun’s prediction:
Put Your Housing Cost to Work for You
As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth. Every time you pay your rent, you are contributing to your landlord’s net worth.
The latestNational Housing Pulse Survey from NAR reveals that 85% of consumers believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. Yun comments:
“Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldn’t be overlooked.”
If you are interested in finding out if you could put your housing cost to work for you by purchasing a home, meet with a real estate professional in your area who can guide you through the process.
November’s Existing Home Sales report revealed that sales are now at an annual pace of 5.61 million which is “now the highest since February 2007 (5.79 million) and is 15.4% higher than a year ago (4.86 million).”
Total housing inventory (or the inventory of homes for sale) fell 8.0% from last month and is now 9.3% lower than November 2015.
Inventory has dropped year-over-year for the last 18 months.
The median price for all home sales in November was $234,900, up 6.8% from last year and marks the 57th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Mark three, four or even more people off your list at once with these gifts the whole family will love.
It’s always a challenge to figure out the perfect gift for a friend or family member, but it’s even more of a puzzle when you’re trying to pick a holiday gift for the whole family.
Family gifting is becoming more common as holiday celebrations get bigger and bigger. It’s a great way to honor the holiday spirit without breaking the bank or going crazy trying to figure out gift ideas for each family member. A family gift is meant to be something that the entire family can enjoy together. And with the holiday so close, we wanted to give you some last-minute ideas that you could easily organize without ordering anything online.
1: Movie Night
A gift card for Netflix is something that the whole family can enjoy together for months. You can choose different denominations depending on how many months you’d like to gift. Pair the certificate with a basket filled with a few different types of popcorn and boxes of movie theater candy.
Gift a bright, colorful pair of holiday socks for everyone in the family. You can choose coordinating colors and designs so that everyone can wear them together on Christmas. Also include gourmet hot cocoa mix or a selection of holiday teas.
Choose two or three games based on the ages of the family members. Classic, go-to games that usually work well are Jenga, Pictionary, Clue, Monopoly or Scrabble. You could also try finding games at your local thrift store and bringing five to six retro board games as a gift.
Though the kids might steal it away, a wireless mobile printer is a great family gift. These printers allow you to print pictures directly off your mobile phone or tablet. They’re small enough to toss in a bag, and they’re lots of fun to bring to parties (or even to break out and use on Christmas Eve!).
Gift: HP Sprocket Photo Printer, bestbuy.com Pair With: Batteries + Photo Paper Packs
5: Shopping Membership
Another gift that will keep giving the whole year is a membership to warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club. These stores offer great discounts on bulk items, but you can’t shop there unless you’re a member. Pair the gift with a classic Costco bakery item.
Put together the makings of a fun, homemade pizza party for the whole family. Pick up pizza dough, fresh mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce and toppings like fresh tomatoes or prosciutto. Pair it with a pizza stone or a pizza cutter. For an extra fun presentation, stop by your local pizza place and see if you can buy one of their large boxes. You can cover up their logo with a piece of paper and write your own note on top.
Through organizations like Global Giving, you can purchase gift cards that allow each recipient to go onto the site, choose the cause that speaks most to them and make a donation. It’s a lovely gesture and a great way to teach kids about the power of generosity and giving.
The gift of travel is one of the most amazing presents you could give a family to enjoy together in the coming year. A gift certificate to home-sharing site Airbnb would be a great way to help jump-start vacation plans, allowing the family to choose any spot in the world to enjoy their time away together. If you know there’s a specific place that they would like to visit, you could even include a travel guide book for that city or country.
If the family you’re buying for loves video games, then this Rock Band set is perfect. Everyone can take turns being a rock star and choosing their favorite songs. Set it up on Christmas Eve so everyone at your holiday dinner can join in on the fun.
It’s that time of year again when the days are shorter and the cold air means your home and family are going to start feeling the drop in the temperatures.While we all love the idea of cozying up around a warm fireplace while it’s blustery cold outside, most of us don’t enjoy our heating unit dying on the coldest night of the year!This season of colder weather termed the “hibernation season” is the hardest on your plumbing and HVAC systems, as well as on your family’s comfort.American Home Shieldand I have compiled an essential winter home maintenance checklist that will help your home get ready for the hibernation season instead of suffering through it in regret.We also give you some handy tips for organization to ensure your family is ready for canceled school days and winter vacation.
For most homeowners, the thought of having to check your plumbing pipes inside and outside of the house is only thought of right before the first freeze of the season.The hibernation season means colder temperatures and this is the time to ensure your plumbing lines are ready:
1.Water Heater Home Maintenance: Before the cold season fully sets in consider draining your water heater from sediment that has built up.Over time small pieces of sediments similar to small grains of sand can slowly shorten the life of your water heater.Consider draining it during before winter temperatures plunge below freezing and your water heater has to work harder.
2.Plumbing Pipes: Leave water dripping in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and any room you have sinks when temperatures are expected to plunge below freezing.Open under counter cabinet doors around pipes to keep air circulating.
3.Garden and Drain Hoses: Now that the weather is getting colder it is time to disconnect your garden hoses before water freezes inside of them!Disconnecting the hoses also helps your faucet not back up into your internal plumbing system inside your home when frozen.
Preventative Measures:For exterior water pipes and pipes consider covering them with insulated sleeves.These will help your pipes stay warmer than the outdoor freezing temperatures.
Ensure your Fireplace is Ready for a Warm, Crackling Fire:
When temperatures get cold many homeowners rely on their wood burning fireplaces to help heat their homes.Unfortunately, many accidents occur during the winter season due to dirty chimneys and improper ventilation can cause smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation.Here are some tips to make sure your fireplace is ready:
4.Winter Home Maintenance: Hire a professional chimney sweep:While there are creosote sweeping logs you can burn in your fireplace to remove creosote from your chimney, it is still important to have a professional take care of what you can’t see.
A chimney sweep will:
Inspect your chimney, smoke ducts, flue pipes
Help prevent soot fires and gas emissions by inspecting the firebox, smoke shelf and other areas of your fireplace that you can’t reach.
5.Tips you can do for fireplace safety: Once your fireplace is professionally cleaned each season try and keep the firebox free of soot and ashes before you start a new fire.
Open a window:When using a fireplace allow for fresh air into your home to prevent smoke build-up.Don’t worry the air coming in will go up through the chimney.
Keep flammable items away:Ensure furniture, throw rugs and blankets, pillows and other furnishings are at least 4-5 feet away from the fireplace while in use.
Keep your House Warm and Air Clean with these HVAC Maintenance Tips:
Your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system (HVAC) are one of the most important systems in your home as it controls the comfort level, humidity, and quality of air in your household.During the colder months, your heating system or furnace can run double duty trying to compete with the outdoor temperatures.These American Home Shield recommended maintenance tips should be checked now to ensure a comfortable winter.
6.Hire an HVAC professional to inspect system:Each season your system should be inspected to ensure it’s working up to its potential.Higher energy bills and your home having problems heating and cooling could be signs of a larger problem.
7.Change your air filters monthly:This tip is one of the easiest because it doesn’t involve a professional and you can do it yourself.Check for the air filter size on the air handler unit and keep a few in storage so they’re no excuses when it’s time to change.
8.Learn how to properly use your thermostat:Many homeowners assume they know how to use their thermostat but several thermostats, especially Smart thermostats can actually learn your behaviors and lifestyle habit and adjust to save you energy.Take time to educate yourself and your family on how to properly use your thermostat before the cold weather sets in.
Organize and Clean your Home Before your Family Stays Indoors:
Each winter the opportunity for your family to stay in the house for longer periods of time is inevitable.Whether you’re getting ready for extended family and friends for the holidays or you’re gearing up for snow days from school, these organizing and cleaning tips from American Home Shield will help.
9.Clean out the kitchen and pantry:Have you noticed around hibernation season is when we like to cook, eat and entertain more?Your kitchen becomes the main hub of activity and cleaning out your refrigerator, pantry and utensil drawers will help the chef and family find exactly what they need.Throw out expired food in storage cabinets and why not install new shelf paper where one-too-many containers have spilled?
10.Declutter closets and entertaining rooms:Playing board games, video games, watching television and lounging around the family room are popular pastimes throughout the colder season.Before the chill sets in why not purge old toys and magazines?Donate old coats, boots and winter weather in your hall closet and give to charity or your local church.Visit your local discount store and stock up on new games, crossword puzzles and adult coloring books for those cold nights when the electricity goes out.
This hibernation season is going to be cold, but before it sets in you will be prepared with these home maintenance tips to ensure your family is warm, healthy and comfortable.If you’d like to find more tips from American Home Shield onpreparing your home for winter, take a look at this video:
Is your home protected in case of an unforeseen problems occurs?American Home Shield can help with a home warranty.It can repair and replace all of your broken appliances and home systems.
Whether you are ensuring your plumbing and HVAC systems are working properly or you’re gearing up for more time indoors, you will be ready this winter season.
Moving can be tricky, so make sure you’re well-prepared before packing up your things.
Recently found a new home? Check out moving tips & tricks offered by professionals.
Whether you recently purchased a home or signed a lease, you’ve already made it past the hard part — finding a new home. But packing up and settling into your new place isn’t going to be a walk in the park if you’re unprepared.
While moving into a new home is exciting, it’s important to be ready for what can be a perfect storm of last-minute packing, your buddy’s truck breaking down, or hidden costs from a shady moving company.
It’s easy to put off planning your big move, so to help you make this process simple and stress-free, we reached out to the professionals for the best moving tips.
Why is hiring a moving company so important?
“People move an average of once every seven years, whereas a moving company does it every day. Hiring a professional moving company means giving the physical and mental heavy lifting to practiced hands. Professional moving companies know how to properly wrap furniture, how to handle tight stairwells and door frames, and how to properly pack a truck to save the most space and keep the furniture safe during transportation.
“Moving is one of the most stressful things we go through, and hiring a moving company will help ease that stress and it will also save you time, and time is money. Hiring a moving company is also important if you want to minimize effort, maximize efficiency, and move to a new home as seamlessly as possible.
“Renting a truck and recruiting friends is an option for small, local moves but certainly not ideal for long-distance moves, large moves, or family moves. If someone doesn’t have a lot of free time and is unable to move by themselves or with the help of some friends, hiring a moving company is an absolute must.” — Angela Gonzales of Unpakt
What advice do you always give to those starting a move?
“1. Do your research. Take time to do your homework before hiring movers, and don’t be afraid to ask the questions you find most important. What does insurance coverage on your items look like? Are the movers background-checked and drug-tested? Come moving day, you’ll want to ensure you’re protected, and having the right movers can make all the difference.
“2. Book early! To guarantee you have professional movers on the day most convenient to you, we recommend booking two to four weeks in advance.
“3. Find out what your movers cannot move ahead of time. Federal laws ban moving companies from transporting any hazardous materials, including paint, ammunition, and propane, to name a few. This means items that contain gas, such as grills and lawn mowers, are also prohibited and must be moved by the customer. Other items may include food or living things such as plants. By asking ahead of time, you won’t be surprised come moving day.” — Jessy Herman of Two Men and a Truck
What are common mistakes you see people make while moving?
“The number one mistake is not being picky with your mover. That’s right. You have to research the company you are entrusting your belongings to. Check [their] license with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and reputation online as well. Do not sign incomplete paperwork and acquaint yourself with all accessorial charges [you] may incur upon delivery. For example, if movers cannot park near the entrance of your residence and have to carry belongings more than 75 feet, they will charge for that additionally.” — Manuela Irwin of The Moving Blog
What are the major differences between moving families and individuals?
“Moving families and individuals certainly changes the volume of belongings, so it’s even more important to work with a reputable mover that can ensure the safety of all items. Plus, adding children and pets into the mix means parents have even greater responsibility throughout the moving process. The last thing they’ll want to worry about is protecting their fragile belongings or treasured antiques.” — Jack Griffin, CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board at Atlas World Group Inc.
What are some stress-free ways to unpack and settle into a new home?
“1. Start packing as soon as you have your moving date to avoid the mad rush of last-minute packing. This will mitigate the risk of items being damaged or improperly sorted and labeled.
“2. Be prepared with an assortment of boxes, packing supplies, and packing tools. This will ensure everything has a proper place, and you won’t have to waste time and energy thinking about where it will go and how it will be moved.
“3. Make sure you’ve got some old boxes and bags to pack up those items you are purging so they can be swiftly lifted out and off to the secondhand store or recycling depot, or collected by a junk disposal service.
“4. Begin with your storage areas. Anything you haven’t used for a year and cannot guarantee you will need again, and items that have no sentimental value, should be the first to go.
“5. Move on to the rooms you will use infrequently prior to moving day. Box up the items to be transported to your new home, while focusing on “less is more” by setting aside those things you won’t need again.
“6. The last items you pack up prior to your move will be your everyday kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom belongings. Try to consider what may not suit your new home, or furnishings and household things you won’t have room for. These can be part of your purge.” — Anjee Gill of You Move Me
Deck the halls with lots of lights, fa-la-la-la, oh whatever. To celebrate the holiday season, we’re gifting you with a selection of five holiday light fails, so you can feel better about the light choices your neighbors make.
A little too much milk there, Santa. Funny or crass? We will let you decide!
For those feeling underwhelmed this holiday season, this light job is ideal.
Greetings from your friendly neighborhood Scrooge!
Now this is just messed up. Way to make all the neighborhood children weep, buddy.