Does the change of seasons have you itching to refresh a tired, lackluster room? Or maybe you're looking for some small ways to make a big impact on your home's style? Whatever the case, here are some of this season's most buzzed-about trends and how you can incorporate them into your next project.
* Wood is the new neutral. This season's strong trend toward wood textures pairs the warmth, richness and texture of real wood with limitless design flexibility. Think wood-textured textiles, tree-printed wallpapers and embossed soaps that look like wood. Installing engineered wood ceilings and wainscoting can bring the unique look of reclaimed wood into any environment - an easy do-it-yourself project with striking results.
* Ode to the elements. Mother Nature is inspiring design in a big way this year and homeowners are finding unique ways to incorporate rocks, minerals and other natural elements into their home's design. Try replacing a common-place item like an alarm clock with one encased within a multi-colored agate. Bring this look to the kitchen with a stainless steel backsplash, or swap out run-of-the-mill hardware with mineral-inspired drawer pulls and knobs.
* Shore thing. Homeowners, inspired by the calm, care-free attitude of coastal living are all about bringing the beach inside this season. Beach-inspired design elements are popping up throughout the home. Weathered and white-washed wood ceilings are a subtle but stunning on-trend addition - especially when finished with interior accents like decorative shells, drift wood furniture and marine-themed prints.
* Contrast in texture. Step aside Pantone, texture is spring's hottest new color. Homeowners are putting down their paintbrushes and adding interest with texture through high-gloss finishes, metallics, sequins and mirrors. A textured tile wall brings visual and tactile interest, especially when paired with contrasting high-gloss lacquer or low-gloss matte accessories.
* Visual punch. Reawaken the senses this spring by incorporating a striking visual element to the home. Multi-dimensional surface treatments in pearl, metallic and gold/silver combinations add panache as a coating used for hardwood, or can be applied to wallpaper, furniture or decorative accessories. And don't forget to look up - coffered ceilings bring a striking je ne sais quoi to any room.
* Manipulated metals. The versatility of manipulated metal makes it a great addition to any style home - from hand-crafted artisan to contemporary high gloss. Copper, pewter and nickel are getting in on the action and can be styled in a variety of ways, including hammered metal sink basins, tin-look ceiling tiles, antiqued copper light fixtures and brushed stainless steel cabinet hardware.
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I've been saying this for months and I am happy to report that some associations are doing it. The story below details how an association can deal with pets can be turned from a burden to an opportunity.
How to handle poop - particularly pet poop - is becoming a growing problem for community associations.
Owners are always required to pick up after their dog, and many associations actually provide free "poop bags" to assist in this clean up. But not everyone complies with the rules. There are reports of owners who pretend to use the waste bags, especially when others are watching.
A New Jersey association has adopted a novel approach: As of Nov. 1, all dog owners in the Grande at Riverdale condominium must have their pet's DNA registered, or face a $100 fine. The dog's mouth will be swabbed for DNA, and waste located on common grounds will be tested to determine the owner. Fines for not picking up the waste will be $250 for the first offense and can go as high as $1,000 for subsequent violations.
If an association's legal documents permit pets, the board of directors has the authority to enact reasonable enforcement rules. Typically, those rules would require that all dogs be leashed while on common grounds, be registered with the association management, and be vaccinated annually, pursuant to applicable local law.
DNA testing for dogs is not new. The American Kennel Club (AKC) said that it collected more than 600,000 DNA profiles in its data base through Dec. 1, 2012. The top breeds are labrador retriever, Yorkshire terrier, dachshund and poodles. Why collect DNA? "DNA offers the AKC the possibility of ensuring the accuracy of the registry in a way never before possible," accordingto its Web site. However, it cautions that "DNA profiling is for parentage verification and genetic identity purposes only. It does not provide information regarding genetic health, conformation, performance ability, coat color, etc."
1. Mortgage rates are still dropping. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan is 4.50 percent at the time of publication. While this is a 1.15 percent increase from the historic low of 3.35 percent at the end of 2012, it's still an attractive rate for prospective homebuyers. The housing sector is getting stronger and inflation rates are low, which promotes low mortgage rates.
2. It's still cheaper to buy than rent. If you live in a metropolitan area, it may make more financial sense to buy a home than rent a house, condo or apartment. According to a 2012 Trulia Trends study, buying a home is 44 percent cheaper than renting in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States. While this data was calculated based on last year's lower mortgage rates, there is still a significant price difference in total monthly costs with today's rates.
3. Home prices are relatively low. Housing price trends vary significantly by location and even by neighborhood, but the average housing price trends across the country look promising for prospective homebuyers. The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas increased only 1 percent this past season, so 2013 could still be a great time to buy.
4. It may be easier to get a mortgage. Credit unions and banks may be making it easier for some prospective buyers to qualify for a mortgage. Less stringent requirements and qualifying criteria may help some people finally get that home loan. If you have good credit and some savings available for a down payment, you might just be able to get a loan for your dream home this year.
5. Less competition from home flippers. Investors looking to buy and flip houses can't move as quickly as they did in recent years. Housing prices in some markets are increasing, making house flipping less attractive. This gives prospective homebuyers more inventory to choose from and the benefit of having less pressure to close a deal because of another pending offer. This could be the time to enjoy the freedom of shopping around for that perfect home and making an offer.
6. Avoid the cost of rising rent. A buyer's market means it might be time to say goodbye to renting for good. If you're tired of rent increases at your current location or want to move but will experience a spike in rent, consider the benefits of buying a home instead. You may be able to secure a great rate with your credit history and end up paying the equivalent or less in monthly payments as you build equity in a home. Renting can be a more affordable option for the short term, but renters still have to face rising rental costs year after year.
7. Invest in your future. Buying a home gives you a chance to start building equity, and you are investing in your future. Even if you end up selling your home in five or 10 years, you could profit from the sale and invest that money elsewhere. If you've been dealing with rising rent or the hassles of costly moves for the past few years, settling in to a home can stabilize your housing expenses -– especially if you get a fixed-rate loan at a great rate. You won't have to worry about your monthly housing expenses changing significantly for a few years, and you will pay for something that has more value than a rental property. Consider the benefits of making this type of contribution to your future month after month.
The three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian -- sell their services under different names, but they all use the same formula to arrive at their numbers. Your score may vary slightly between the bureaus, however, because each has different information in your file. For example, one bureau’s records may go back longer, or a previous lender may have shared its info with only one bureau and not the other two. Unless the scores are wildly at odds, many lenders will use the one in the middle when they consider your application.
Having too many credit accounts can negatively affect your credit score, but canceling them may not improve it. In fact, it could do harm. To measure your ability to manage debt, credit bureaus look at the amount of credit you’re using compared with the total amount you have available. So closing unused accounts reduces your untapped credit and may make you appear overextended. Closing your oldest accounts is even worse because the longer a line of credit is open, the more history you’ve accumulated. If you do close an account, consider closing your newest one and transferring any balance to an older one.
When a lender makes an inquiry about your credit, your score has the potential to drop up to five points. For this reason, some borrowers are afraid that comparison-shopping for a mortgage or auto loan will result in multiple deductions. This isn’t the case. The score is set up to take into account that even though you are only looking for one loan, multiple lenders may request your credit report (i.e. make an "inquiry"). For that reason, all mortgage or auto inquiries made in the 30 days prior to when you choose your loan will not affect your score. To determine your score, the credit agencies also look back at any auto or mortgage inquiries that were made in the past two years (but are older than the 30 day window). If there are any within that 2-year window, all of the inquiries that fall into a normal "shopping period" are counted as just one inquiry when determining your score. The length of the "shopping period" varies depending on the version of the FICO scoring formula used by your lender and can be either 14 days (older versions of the scoring formula) or 45 days (newer versions of the scoring formula).
Here's an example: Say you are applying for a loan and are talking with four lenders. All four pull your credit report. If you choose a loan within 30 days of those first credit pulls, the inquiries will not affect your score. The score then looks at the past two years of your credit report. Say you applied for a car loan a year ago with three lenders. If your current lender is using the older version of the scoring report, all three inquiries will count as only one inquiry, as long as they occurred within 14 days of each other.
Your credit score is a measure of your past performance, not your current debt load. Paying off your credit cards and settling any outstanding loans will certainly help, but if you have a history of late or missed payments, it won’t undo the damage overnight. Improving your credit score takes time, so after paying down your debts, make an effort to consistently pay your bills on time.
You may receive an offer from a company that claims it can fix your bad credit rating. The truth is if the credit bureaus have accurate information, there’s nothing you or anyone else can do to quickly improve your score if you haven’t managed your debts well in the past. (The only way to influence your score is to start managing your debt wisely.) And if there are errors in your file, you can contact the bureaus directly -- you don’t need to pay someone else to do it. The three major bureaus have instructions on how to do this on their Web sites.
Credit bureaus do not penalize you for checking your own score, nor do they deduct points for inquiries from landlords or employers who may check your score with your permission. On the contrary, it’s a good idea to check your credit score with all three bureaus occasionally, especially if you plan to apply for a loan. This gives you an opportunity to correct any errors in your file before lenders make their inquiries.
Home pricing including distressed sales jumped a whopping 14 percent in each of South Florida’s counties, with Miami-Dade leading the charge as usual, according to CoreLogic.
In Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 14.5 percent in August 2013 year-over-year. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 1.4 percent in August compared to July.
Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices increased by 17.6 percent in August 2013 compared to the same time a year ago. On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, the CoreLogic HPI indicates home prices increased by 2.3 percent in August 2013 compared to July 2013.
In Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 13.9 percent in August 2013 compared to last year. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 1.9 percent in August compared to July.
Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell for the third straight week to their lowest point in three months, as a decline in consumer confidence and the onset of the government shutdown forced rates down.Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 4.22 percent from 4.32 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan declined to 3.29 percent from 3.37 percent.Both are the lowest averages since early July.Rates began to fall last month after the Federal Reserve held off slowing its $85-billion-a-month in bond buys, which have kept rates low. They fell further this week as the shutdown prompted investors to sell stocks and buy Treasury bonds. Mortgage rates tend to follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.The 10-year note traded at 2.63 percent Thursday morning, down from 2.71 percent on Sept. 23.The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of U.S. home mortgages, says that if the partial shutdown continues for an extended period and the agency’s funding runs out, it wouldn’t be able to continue approving loans.
Selling your home can sometimes involve spending money on home improvements that put a dent in your wallet, especially when it comes to updating your kitchen. Fortunately, there are low-cost alternatives for kitchen renovations so it will stand out to buyers interested in your home and create the best first impression. Here are 5 easy and inexpensive ways to make your kitchen stand out without busting your budget.
1. Paint. A fresh coat of paint is a quick and relatively cheap way to add some color and brighten up your kitchen for a great eye-catching look. Painting the walls with a lighter color will open up the kitchen, making it look brand new and bigger.
2. Lighting. Adding under cabinet lighting is a cheap way to update your kitchen. Strip lights and puck lights are especially helpful because they cast light onto the countertop. When choosing the type of light bulb, it is important to know that although fluorescent bulbs and L.E.D.’s save energy, they don’t show certain colors accurately including reds, oranges or purples. Halogen and xenon lights do not save as much energy, but they show colors more accurately.
3. Organizers. Cabinet organizers are also a great way to update your kitchen, which can be as low as $30. For a clean look and more appealing kitchen, it is important to make sure everything in your kitchen and cupboards are organized and take advantage of wasted cabinet corners.
4. Flooring. Kitchen flooring can become very expensive in a hurry. Depending on the flooring currently installed, you should evaluate your options as your get ready to put your home on the market. Vinyl flooring is a cheap option, but it can be a hassle to install and laminate flooring may take more effort to fit the kitchen just right. For a cheaper and simpler alternative, consider adding area rugs and carpet runners to make your kitchen impress homebuyers without the major expense.
5. Rearranging. Lastly, an easy and cheap way to update your kitchen is to move things around. If there is an eating area in the kitchen, you can open up some new space by rearranging the table and chairs. It is all about eye flow when you walk into a kitchen for the first time, so moving things around can make a world of difference.
With a little work and some planning, it is certainly possible to renovate your kitchen while sticking to your budget. These easy and cheap alternatives for renovating your kitchen will ultimately help you sell your home to the best buyer for the right price.
Passenger rail company All Aboard Florida expects to spend a total of about $2.4 billion to connect Miami to Orlando by private train and to develop the real estate along the track.
That total includes about $320 million spent on real estate development alone, according to sources who asked not to be named. The commercial development is expected to include offices, retail, residences and entertainment. The train would run mostly on existing FEC train tracks, with stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Orlando airport.
The Miami station alone, which All Aboard has characterized as a Grand Central-like facility, is estimated to have a little more than 1 million square feet of development at a cost of $325 million. The projected rent is $35 million, according to sources, who asked not to be named.
The Miami station has also recently been in the news because of its proximity to two parcels in Overtown that All Aboard is seeking to buy from a Miami community redevelopment agency. Company officials have said they plan to incorporate the Overtown parcels into the Miami station.
All Aboard has applied for a transportation-related federal loan to help cover the $1.5 billion cost of the upgrade to the rail infrastructure.
Compared to the national average of 40% of cash home sales, this is remarkable!
With one of the nation's highest foreclosure rates, South Florida has a large supply of bank-owned properties. Lenders aren't interested in waiting for traditional buyers to qualify for mortgages, preferring instead to sell to investors paying cash.
And that has virtually shut out entry-level homebuyers.Much of the cash buying in South Florida is from foreigners who view condominiums as safe investments. In the past year, large funds have entered the region, buying single-family homes and renting them out for a year or longer.
Cash sales made up 57 percent of Florida's home sales a year ago and 61 percent of all sales in June of this year, compared with the 66 percent reported in July, according to the report released today by the real estate research company RealtyTrac Inc.
South Florida home prices rose in July as buyers continue to battle frustration in a decidedly seller's market. Broward County's median price for existing homes soared to $275,000, 28 percent higher than a year ago, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said Wednesday. There were 1,475 homes that changed hands, a 13 percent increase from July 2012.
In Palm Beach County, the median price has declined since April, but July's $249,000 was still up 15 percent from July 2012, according to the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. Sales rose 21 percent, to 1,486 from 1,233. Steady demand and a shortage of properties for sale over the past year have given sellers all the negotiating power. Many homes are selling quickly near or above the asking price.
The number of new listings in July increased across both Broward and Palm Beach counties from a year ago. But the total available inventory of homes remains down compared to July 2012, the Realtor data show. About 40 percent of all Broward home sales last month went for cash. In Palm Beach County, nearly half of the buyers didn't need a mortgage. Many of the cash sales are from large investment companies buying properties with plans to rent them out.