Home Trends Includes Natural Mindfulness Designs

do-it-yourself-kitchen-remodeling-ideasUrban and suburban life offers wonderful conveniences and cultural benefits. But a downside that many families are experiencing is the pervasive use of electronics and disconnectedness from nature.

These lifestyle deficiencies have increased the popularity of yoga and meditation and the practice of mindfulness is topping the covers of national magazines. Everyday mothers and fathers are also working hard to engage their children in outdoor activities and nature. These things require an ongoing effort on top of already packed schedules. That’s why mindful home designs that bring nature into your living space have been trending.

Origins Of Mindful Home Design

There are plenty of home fads that come and go. Some may remember the intense oranges of the 1970s or tiles that covered over lush hardwood floors. Yikes.

One of the founders of the nature-infused home movement was America’s beloved architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His acclaimed Fallingwater marvel was built in 1935 directly on top of a waterfall. The design incorporated natural stone and timber in a way that brought the outdoors living experience into the home. The southwest Pennsylvania wonder forms the basis for the recent trend to incorporate natural elements into living spaces.

The idea that connectedness to nature improves mindfulness has been supported by a wealth of research. The Japanese use “forest bathing” as a way to feed the mind and spirit. The basic idea goes hand in hand with Wright’s architectural thinking that human senses benefit from a direct and discernable connection to nature.

Studies have shown that patients recovering from illness or surgery demonstrate marked health improvement through natural immersion. But the practical question is: how does this trend benefit everyday homeowners?

Natural Homes Improve Mindfulness

It’s not practical to bring an entire forest into your home. But creating semi open-air spaces go a long way to enhancing an outdoor feeling.

Many homes are including semi-enclosed spaces constructed from natural timbers, stone flooring and rich plant life that emulate the positive effects nature has on the human psyche. Although subtle, they help reduce the nature deficiency experienced by many tech-oriented adults and children.

By working with materials that further the experiences of nature’s sights, sounds, touches, smells and even tastes in some cases, living environments are bringing a touch of the natural world home.

When considering a remodeling project or new construction, consider looking at the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater project and contemporary home designers about infusing nature into your everyday life.

When you have decided what you want, the next step is to secure your financing. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to help you find the best options for you.

4 Tips For Downsizing To A Smaller Home

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You can make the most of a small home with smart design strategies and careful planning.

Maybe your youngest has finally gone away to college, and you have much more space than you really need. Or perhaps you want to minimize your lifestyle and shrink your carbon footprint.

Whatever your reason for downsizing, you can rest assured that moving into a smaller home will not cramp your style. Making a more modest space work doesn’t have to be difficult. These tips can help you make the transition with ease.

Identify Your Needs
Before you start organizing things for the move, identify your needs. Think about your lifestyle and what things you will need to support your lifestyle. Be aware of what resources you will absolutely need moving forward.

If you have a lot of pictures and other sentimental items, consider ways to preserve these things for your children or grandkids. Maybe you can scan and upload old photographs to a shared online family photo album.

Get Rid Of Rarely Used Items
It can be challenging to get rid of things — even if you don’t use them often. However, change is good. Downsizing your belongings can also simplify your life. If you have items that still have a lot of life left in them, you might try giving them to family members, charities or friends. Finding a good home for your things can make it easier to part with them. You could also try to sell items that are valuable.

Choose Smart Storage Solutions
Having less square footage doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of everything you own. You just have to be smart about how you organize your space. There are many storage solutions that can help you make the most of a small area. Maybe mount your television to the wall to enhance your floor space. Use storage ottomans for combination seating and storage. Built-in cabinets are also great storage solutions for tiny rooms.

Take Measurements
Before you move furniture and other larger items, measure the space to make sure that they will fit. Also, measure how much cabinet and closet space you will have available for use. You can use these measurements as a guide before moving anything to your new home. This simple step will save you the hassle of having to later get rid of items that you have already moved over.

To help with your transition, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your pre-approval and financing in order as soon as possible.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 13th, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserve

Last week’s economic reports included readings on job openings and inflation along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Job Openings Hit Third Highest Reading on Record

Job openings held steady at 6.70 million in June, which was the third highest reading since reporting started in 2000.

Analysts said that the high number of job openings combined with low unemployment rates indicates healthy labor markets. Fewer jobs were available in transportation, utilities and warehousing, but jobs in education increased.

Job quits remained at 2.20 percent for the fourth consecutive month. Quits are considered an indicator of worker confidence in job markets.

Inflation Inches Up

Inflation rose by 0.20 percent in July according to the Consumer Price Index. While analyst expectations were met, rising housing costs offset a decline in energy prices. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy readings, held steady at 0.20 percent as compared to the same reading for analyst expectations and for June.

The Consumer Price Index rose 2.90 percent year-over-year, which matched June’s reading. The less volatile Core CPI, which excludes inflation readings for food and energy, rose by 2.40 percent year-over-year and was the highest reading for core inflation since 2008.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 4.59 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 4.05 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.80 percent, which was three basis points lower than for the previous week.

First-time jobless claims fell to 213,000 new claims filed and were lower than the expected reading of 217,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 219,000 new claims filed. The less volatile monthly reading fell by 500 new claims to 214,250 first-time jobless claims.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s economic readings include reports from the National Association of Homebuilders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Guide To Buying An A-Frame House

a-frame-houseA-Frame houses have spiked in popularity over the last couple of years. These adorable homes can be quirky or sleek and modern. They are shaped like a triangle — hence the name. A-Frame houses are shaped like the letter A. The walls begin near the foundation and slope upwards in a slant. The walls meet at the top to form a triangle or A-shape.

A-Frame houses are popular all over the United States. They are ideal for second or vacation homes. The big windows make them especially popular in very picturesque locales. This feature allows homeowners to enjoy fabulous views of the ocean, mountains or countryside.

Characteristics Of An A-Frame House

A-Frame houses have very specific characteristics. Here are some of the features of an A-Frame house:

Open floor plan
Loft space
Large windows
Wood siding
High interior ceilings
Gables in the back and front
Benefits Of An A-Frame House

Many buyers love A-Frame houses for several reasons. They have large windows, which allows plenty of natural light to enter the home. The large windows also make them ideal for scenic views.

A-Frame homes are also quite inexpensive and straightforward, which is another reason that they are prevalent vacation homes.

Who Are A-Frame Homes Ideal For?

Many outdoor types of families love A-Frame houses because they are ideal for beautiful natural settings. A-Frame homes are also ideal for buyers looking for a vacation home in a pretty location. They are also great for investors or first-time home buyers.

If you are looking to buy in a prime waterfront location, you might consider an A-Frame house, as well. They are perfect for buyers wanting to build a private escape on a couple of acres of land.

Who Should Not Buy An A-Frame Home?

A-Frame homes aren’t for everyone. While they are an excellent option for first-time home buyers or buyers looking for a vacation property, they are not ideal for all buyers.

For example, buyers in Florida would be better served looking for a different type of home. A-Frames may not be suitable in some climates since they are constructed with wood. This fact makes them potentially more susceptible to storm and termite damage.

Also, A-Frame homes are probably not ideal for larger families that need a lot of storage space. A-Frame houses typically have limited storage space because of the shape of the roof.

Whether you are in the market for a traditional or a unique and interesting property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your financing pre-approved well before you decide to make an offer.

4 Important Reasons To Install A Home Generator

investing-in-real-estate-tipsHome improvements are key investments when it comes to quality of life and property value. While decks, solar panels and smart technologies are trendy options, installing a home generator may be even more valuable. That’s because backup generators not only improve market value, they also protect you and your home during severe weather incidents.

Consider these four reasons why a home generator makes good sense.

Protect Against Severe Weather

The impact of severe weather can reach catastrophic proportions. Thousands of people are left without electricity for days — even weeks — after storms. Heat waves also put an inordinate strain on the power grid when all of those air conditioners and HVAC go into 24-hour overdrive.

The consequences of extended power losses are generally fouled foods in the refrigerator and freezer, unbearable temperatures and an inability to take corrective measures to the physical property itself. When the grid goes down, you may be left powerless as the losses mount.

Keeps Critical Systems Operational

When the power goes down for an extended period of time, important electronics become inoperable. If you work from home or rely on electronic devices to earn a living, either you’re putting in for vacation time or losing money. But beyond the financial implications, many people need power for vital medical equipment to function. It’s simply too risky to not have a backup plan if you or a loved one suffers from a health condition.

Backup Generators Improve Home Security

We have all seen the national news coverage about post-storm or brownout crime waves. Looting and burglary ran rampant when residents are evacuated. That’s because criminals know full well that your alarm system went down with the power.

Consider the accumulated wealth you have at home and irreplaceable personal items. Those could be lost if your home gets robbed during a power outage. Fortunately, installing a home generator will allow you to keep the lights on and thugs away. Just having your lights on at night demonstrates that you have electricity and that acts as a powerful deterrent. A backup generator provides peace of mind against theft.

Backup Generators Improve Property Values

It only makes sense that a home generator will increase your property value. After all, home generator installations are direct financial investments.

According to Consumer Reports, installing a home generator can improve your home’s value by as much as 3-5 percent. Similarly, Remodeling Magazine indicated that the return on investment for a home generator installing can range as high as 150 percent. Of course, those figures may be weighed against the money you saved by being powered up when the grid was down as well.

The point of this discussion is that while new kitchens and smart homes are exciting ways to amp up your home’s values, improvements such as backup generators have a quiet value worth considering.

If you are interested in improving your property and need additional funding, contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about the types of programs available to help you access the equity in your home.

Should You Buy A Fixer Upper?

fixing-up-a-historic-homePopular TV shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers have brought the charms of owning a fixer upper to light. A fixer-upper can be a great option if you are prepared for the experience of owning a house that needs work and time.

A house that needs work can be a great investment if you are ready to invest the time and money into it. On the other hand, buying a fixer upper might be a problem if you are not aware of what you are getting into.

Not sure if owning a fixer upper is worth it? Here are some considerations to think about.

Start With This Easy Equation

Start with the likely market value of the house after renovations will be made. Then, sum up the cost to renovate the home. Then, add another 25 percent to the renovation costs for unforeseen problems that will no doubt come up during the renovation process.

Next, subtract the renovation costs from the probable market value of the house after the renovations are made. Use similar real estate prices in the area to get your estimate.

What number is left? This number what you should offer.

So, if the comparable estimates are $100,000 and the house needs $25,000 in work, then you should offer no more than $75,000 to break even. Most professionals recommend deducting 10 percent from the asking price just to make the investment of time worthwhile.

Determine How You Will Pay

If you buy a fixer-upper, you’re going to need some way to fund the renovations. It can be hard coming up with the funds for repairs and upgrades after paying closing costs. Some options for funding renovations include a renovation loan, like Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Loan. This loan is rolled right into your mortgage, which makes things easier.

Another popular option is an FHA 203(k) loan. This loan is a little easier to qualify for than the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan and it only requires 3.5% down.

Decide If You Want To Invest The Time

Buying a fixer-upper is an investment. You will have to invest your time in making a lot of decisions. You’ll need to decide on things like building materials and aesthetics.

Do you have a design or architectural background? Do you enjoy remodeling projects? These are questions that you’ll really want to think about before buying a fixer upper.

Your trusted mortgage professional will be your best resource to help you secure the right financing for your new home project.

Downsizing? Here’s What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a Condo

best-maryland-mortgage-rates-300x236Whether the kids have moved out or you just aren’t using the extra bedrooms, having a house that feels ‘too big’ is rarely fun. In today’s post, we will share a few changes you can expect when you downsize from a large house to a smaller apartment or condo.

Why Downsize At All?

As you might imagine, having too much space is the primary reason that couples and families downsize. Larger homes cost more to maintain and can feel empty if it’s just one or two people living there. In many cases, old items and clutter tend to build up as there is so much storage space. Downsizing to a smaller home helps to maintain a lifestyle that is more efficient but no less luxurious.

Ask Yourself: Are You Ready?

Another consideration that you will need to make: are you ready to move? If you are retired from work, then you likely have enough time on your hands to manage a move. Conversely, if you and your spouse are both working full-time and live near your workplace, you may want to source a smaller home nearby.

Don’t forget that if you own the house you are living in now, this might mean having to list and sell it while buying your new home. This is a common situation and isn’t a significant problem, but it will require a bit of scheduling and financial planning.

The Hardest Part: Choosing What To Keep

Ask any couple or family that has downsized their home about the toughest part, and many will share that it was choosing what stays and what goes. When space is at a premium, everything from shoes to appliances needs to be considered.

Spend some time going through each room in your house, taking an inventory of what you have. Are there any family heirlooms or other emotional items that you can’t part ways with? After that, is there anything that will be usable in your new home? Everything else should be considered fair game. Sell it, donate it or toss it out.

Moving to a smaller home can seem challenging at first, but it is a lifestyle choice that can pay significant dividends. When you are ready to make a move, contact our professional mortgage team.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 6th, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller, Commerce Department reports on pending home sales and construction spending and an FOMC statement. Labor sector reports on job creation and the national unemployment rate were released along with the monthly Consumer Confidence Index. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Holds Steady in May

Home price analysts Case-Shiller reported national home prices rose 0.40 percent in May and were 6.40 percent higher year-over-year. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index was 0.20 percent higher in May and 6.50 percent higher year-over-year. Only seven cities reported home price growth in May, but home prices were higher than gains reported in April.

Home price gains were highest in in Seattle, Washington with a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year gain of 13.60 percent: Las Vegas, Nevada; reported seasonally-adjusted home price growth of 12.60 percent. San Francisco, California reported a seasonally-adjusted annual home price growth of 10.90 percent. Analysts said that home price growth may be slowing, but it grew faster than wages and inflation, which continued to present challenges for first-time and moderate-income hone buyers.

Pending home Sales Grow as Construction Spending Dips

The National Association of Realtors® reported an index reading of 106.9, which was 2.50 percent lower than in May. June was the sixth consecutive month that year-over-year pending sales were lower than in the preceding year-over-year period. Pending home sales increased by 0.90 percent in June as compared to a negative reading of -0.50 percent in May.

Construction spending fell by 1.10 percent in June as compared to 1.30 percent growth in May. Analysts expected construction spending to rise by 0.90 percent in June. Home builders continued to face headwinds such as rising materials costs, labor shortages and slim supplies of buildable lots.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the federal funds rate, which held steady at a range of 1.75 – 2.00 percent. This news did not stop average mortgage rates from moving up. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose six basis points to 4.08 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also rose six basis points and averaged3.93 percent.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 218,000 new claims and fell short of analyst expectations of 220,000 new claims filed, which was based on the prior week’s reading of 217,000 new claims.

Unemployment rate Falls Below 4 Percent

July’s National Unemployment Rate dipped to 3.90 percent and matched analyst expectations. In May, unemployment reached 4.00 percent.

Jobs grew in July with ADP posting 219,000 new private-sector jobs and the Commerce Department reported 157,000 new public and private sector jobs added in July. Analysts expected 195,000 new jobs to be added to Non-Farm Payrolls based on 248,000 mew jobs added in June.

The University of Michigan reported that its Consumer Confidence Index gained 0.30 points for an index reading of 127.40 percent.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on consumer expectations, July job openings, inflation and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Top Real Estate Predictions You Should Know About

investing-in-real-estate-tipsWhether you are a homeowner looking to get the maximum return on investment, a buyer interested in fair market value or an industry insider grappling with the moving parts of the real estate industry, these are some trends and predictions you should know about.

Lower Home Supply Causing Significant Value Growth

Indicators point to a U.S. economy that has settled into a nice growth period. Unemployment rates have touched some record lows, wages appear to be on the rise and Millennials are entering high earning and home-buying years. Couple these factors with the fact that last year’s tax reform laws will likely put more money back in everyday Americans’ pockets and homes could be a hot commodity, so to speak.

Home supply — on the other hand — does not appear ready to meet the rising demand of buyers. Experts are predicting that rising demand will collide with the housing shortfall and prices will ramp up in 2019.

Home Values Could Rise Another 5 Percent By Year’s End

Some real estate insiders are pointing to National Association of REALTORS information that the number of available homes for sale has dropped for 35 consecutive months. The volume of sales is down because there simply are not enough homes being put on the market. Coupled with the uptick in the economy, sellers are in the driver’s seat right now and they are demanding top dollar for their homes.

That being said, it may be in the best interest of first-time homebuyers to get into the market sooner rather than later. The improved wages from the surging economy may not be able to keep pace with a potential 5-percent increase in property values by the end of 2019. It looks like a buy now or pay later real estate market.

It’s Not A Housing Bubble And Won’t Burst

The housing market has been on a tear over the last three years. Property values have appreciated fairly consistently for 35 straight months. Such data mirrors that of the housing market right before the crash. While some experts are calling for another housing bubble to burst due to an unforeseen flaw in the system, tough legislation and oversight are in place. It’s only human nature to be cautious when conditions appear similar to those leading up to a bad outcome.

This time around, rising home prices appear to be based on solid economic factors. Either contractors are going to start massive home-construction builds all over the country or the shortage will continue to drive prices up. While experts say we are not in a so-called housing bubble, the market may level off down the road to get in tune with consumer affordability.

If you are in the market for a new home, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your financing pre-approval!

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage Ready

builder confidence is upThe garage is often the last thing on seller’s minds when it comes to home staging. It is prudent to make sure your kitchen and bathrooms are perfect for showings. Make sure that you don’t neglect your garage when getting your home ready to sell.

A good-looking garage can be a great selling point. Has your garage become a greasy, junk-filled space that you don’t like to visit? If so, then buyers won’t want to see it either. Fortunately, it is easy to get your garage in top shape before your showings. Up the appeal of your garage with these easy tricks.

Get Rid Clutter

The first step to getting your garage in tip-top shape is to remove all of the clutter. The garage often becomes a storage place for random things. Purge everything that you don’t need. Getting rid of junk can help make moving easier and more comfortable, as well. Divide your stuff into piles: trash, donate and keep. Get rid of all garbage. Recycle broken items. You can give things that you don’t need anymore to Goodwill or another charity.

Organize

Buyers love organized homes, and this goes for the garage too. Organizing your garage can also help make your move easier. Install a pegboard on your wall. Pegboards are inexpensive, and they can make a garage look neat and clean. You can use ceiling space to hang items. Ceiling-mounted racks are easy to install and not too pricey. Buyers will appreciate the extra storage space as well.

Paint the Floor

Is your garage floor stained with rust or oil? A dirty garage floor can turn buyers off. You can brighten up your garage and make the concrete look brand new with a couple of coats of epoxy garage floor paint. It isn’t very costly or time-consuming to refinish your garage floor. This is a project that most people can do in a spare weekend.

Add Light

Most garages don’t have windows. As a result, they tend to be dark and dreary. The first step in adding light to your garage is to replace any light bulbs that aren’t working. If your garage still looks dark, consider installing additional lighting. You can replace your standard bulb with a multi-directional LED fixture if you only have one lighting fixture in your garage. These are kind of pricey but they don’t require expensive rewiring. They simply screw into your existing socket and offer about four times more lighting compared to a traditional 60-watt bulb.

It can be tedious work preparing to sell your home. One of the best things you can do to ease the transition between selling your old home and purchasing your new home is to make sure that you have your financing pre-approved. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get the process underway!