2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

Buying a home is a huge commitment and one which should be considered carefully before undertaking. Not only are you committing to years of the mortgage, but you are also putting down roots in a community for some period of time. As more and more Millennials consider the pros and cons of buying their first home, they are often confronted with a barrage of information containing half-truths and outright lies. Here are 2 common myths which cause my potential buyers to hold off buying a home.

Myth #1 – You have to have a 20% down payment. While it’s true that most 0% down loans have disappeared after the mortgage meltdown last decade, it’s also true that there are some very attractive loan options which do not require a 20% down payment. Although loans with less than an 80% loan-to-value do require private mortgage insurance, which add cost to the monthly payment, there are many options available with a lower down payment; many lenders offer conventional loans with 5-10% down payments, FHA loans for first time home buyers require only 3.5% down payment. Qualified veterans can also use the VA loan program to purchase a home with 0%.

Myth #2 – You need great credit While it is certainly helpful to have a high FICO score and great credit, there loan programs available for buyers will lower scores. In fact, a survey done last fall indicated that over 50% of new loans in the past year were for people with FICO scores in the 600-649 range.

The main point is that buying a home is a great investment in your future, both financially and personally. Before you assume you aren’t ready to buy a home, talk with a lender and learn your options. Don’t let these myths keep you from a new home.

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3 Benefits to Buying Your Dream Home This Year

Finding the perfect time to buy a home is a challenge that requires research and a bit of luck. While timing the purchase perfectly might be desirable, the truth is the right time is a personal decision. As we enter 2020, you might be wondering if this is the right time to buy your dream home. With a strong economy, low unemployment and higher household income, there are 3 great reasons why you should consider buying that dream home this year.

1. A Home is a Great Investment – Real estate remains one of the best investments one can have. Based on hard assets, real estate tends to weather the ups and downs long term better than other investment tools, such as stocks or bonds.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Low – Interest rates have fallen over the past year from 5% in November of 2018 and Freddie Mac expects them to level at an average of 3.8% in 2020. This extra purchasing power is important when buying your dream home and this is a good time to lock in that rate for the next 30 years.

3. Hedge Against Inflation – Rental costs continue to rise and as the economy heats up, inflation becomes more of a possibility. A fixed 30-year mortgage freezes your housing costs and works as a buffer from inflation which is impacting the rental market.

Owning property is almost always a good investment. If you’ve been thinking about exchanging your current home for your dream house, 2020 could offer the right time to move up.

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Quartz is the Countertop Buyers Want

Quartz countertops have been around for decades, yet they are one of the hottest design materials this spring. Available in a variety of colors, this natural stone is not only durable but beautiful, and more and more homebuyers are putting quartz countertops on their must-have list.

Quartz is a natural material best known for the beautiful crystals it forms. Quartz countertops are not pure quartz, however, and contain no crystals. Instead, the countertop is engineered using quartz, resins, and pigment. As a result, there is a quartz color palette for any design aesthetic. Home shows featuring the newest home trends for 2020 showcased quartz countertops of white, gray, slate and blue.

Quartz is one of the best choices for durability as well. Unlike granite or tile, which can crack and chip, the resin included in quartz countertops is almost indestructible. While other surfaces can scar and burn if subjected to hot cookware, quartz will stand up to the heat of cooking, making it a top choice for homebuyers of all culinary skill levels.

Quartz is also low maintenance compared to its more porous counterparts. Whereas natural stone and granite can absorb liquids, causing stains, quartz does not have this issue. No longer do homeowners need to fear dripping red wine or spaghetti sauce on the kitchen island. Along with this, quartz is antimicrobial— meaning that bacteria can be easily wiped away—making your kitchen countertop truly one of the healthiest surfaces in your home.

Quartz countertops are just one of the many improvements that homebuyers crave. Quartz is beautiful, durable, healthy, and sustainable; it’s no wonder homebuyers have made these countertops important items in their home search.

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3 Types of Decorative Molding for Accent Walls

Decorative accent moldings come in a wide variety of styles. Interior designers use these to add visual interest to rooms and spaces while highlighting desirable features and distracting from less attractive elements. Understanding the options and purposes of decorative molding allows use of a design tool that is relatively inexpensive and simple but will elevate any home style.

• Baseboards and Crown Molding – The most common of moldings include baseboards and crown molding. These essentially frame a wall and typically are painted bright white or soft cream to highlight the wall color.

• Chair Rails and Picture Rails – Chair rails are designed to serve a functional purpose: to protect the wall from damage caused by chairs, usually in a dining area. They also add a decorative element by delineating between two paint colors, or perhaps wallpaper and paint. A picture rail is comprised of the same kind of thin wood strip as used in a chair rail, but typically placed a few feet below the ceiling. A picture rail allows the homeowner to hang decor without damaging the wall. When coupled with crown molding, a picture rail can create the impression of a higher ceiling, adding a sense ofluxury.

• Wainscoting – Common in traditional homes, wainscoting is paneling placed against a wall, originally used to camouflage wall damage near the floor of older homes with water seepage. Modern homes have a multitude of choices from which to choose. These decorative treatments are often used to make a room look larger or cozier, depending on the height of the paneling. Moldings come in a variety of styles and sizes, and each can be used for a different purpose. Relatively simple to install, decorative molding can change the feel of any space.

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2 Things Home Buyers Really Want

Most home buyers have to sacrifice some of their wants to find a new home. Unless they have unlimited funds and time, chances are there are “must-haves” which outweigh the “like-to-have” items on the list. Yet, there are always features that these buyers refuse to part with, and they might surprise you.

1. Outdoor Space – Over the past decade or so, outdoor spaces have become extensions of the home. From outdoor kitchens to outdoor living rooms, the line between interior and exterior has blurred. Home buyers have embraced this way of living and are insisting on some kind of outdoor patio or space when looking for a new home.

2. Garages – Today’s home buyer wants a garage. True, some of them plan to use it for non-traditional purposes, such as for storage or home gyms, but they still insist on a garage. Even with the rise of rideshare services and public transportation options, statistics show that the average household owns 1.95 cars and studies demonstrate they are looking for a home with at least a single-car garage. Homebuyers realize they might have to make sacrifices when searching for a new home. Surprisingly, while these buyers might be willing to compromise on other aspects of the home, outdoor space and garages are among the “must-have” items in 2020.

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4 Ways to Instantly Upgrade your Mudroom

The original purpose of a mudroom was to ensure that the dirt and grime of the outdoors never made it inside your home, where visitors could see it. Believe it or not, the modern mudroom is often the first thing your guests see, as more formal entries are shunned in favor of the casual entrance to the house. As a result, these functional rooms are now gaining the attention of homeowners and designers alike.
If your mudroom could use some sprucing up, here are 4 ways to instantly upgrade your space.
1. Change the Entrance – Changing out that old dull door for a fresh style can instantly change the mood of the room. Adding windows to bring in natural light makes the space warm and inviting.
2. Fresh Paint – Almost every article about updating your home’s look includes new paint for a reason; paint instantly changes the look and feel of a space. Merging bright colors with clean white accents creates visual interest and provides a perfect segue to the rest of the house.
3. Update Your Fixtures – From lighting to doorknobs and hooks, upgrade your functional fixtures with contemporary styles. Double check that the room has adequate lighting which also complements your design aesthetic.
4. Rethink the Storage – Does your mudroom have adequate storage for your needs? A storage bench is a great addition which adds extra space, as well as a place to sit while you remove your bulky items. 
Mudrooms are often dirty, damp repositories for the mess which isn’t appropriate for the main house, but there is no reason it can’t be functional and beautiful. By making a few simple changes, you can transform your mudroom and welcome your family and visitors through a fresh space.

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3 Major Factors in Choosing a Neighborhood

Buying a new home is exciting. Whether you’re moving across the country or across town, finding the right house is just one part of choosing the best option. The neighborhood in which the home is located is a critical component of lifestyle as well.

Here are 3 of the most important considerations as you search for the right community to call home.

1. Safety – First and foremost, the safety of the neighborhood is important. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to get details concerning safety. Search local crime statistics through local police sites and public online search sites. Spend time driving through the community, talk with neighbors, and pay attention to the security of the homes themselves; a community where most homes have extra security could be a sign of trouble.

2. Schools – Regardless of whether you have children in the home, or plan to, the quality of the local schools is a big factor in home values, and is easy to research. Visit the district’s website and read about their test scores and rankings. Extracurricular activities are also a large factor in the desirability of the schools; watch for art, music, and athletic programs.

3. Conveniences – Remember that you’ll need to shop for groceries, work out at a gym, enjoy entertainment, and dine out. As you drive through potential communities, take note of the local availability of the extras you need.

Finding the right home is not enough to live a nice lifestyle. The neighborhood is just as important. Not only for your enjoyment, but it affects the resale value as well. Choosing the right community takes a little research, but it’s well worth it to love where you live.

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Pantone Color of the Year 2020

A timeless and enduring blue hue, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue is elegant in its simplicity. Suggestive of the sky at dusk, the reassuring qualities of the thought-provoking PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue highlight our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.

Imprinted in our psyches as a restful color, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit, offering refuge. Aiding concentration and bringing laser like clarity, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue re-centers our thoughts. A reflective blue tone, Classic Blue fosters resilience.

For over 20 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

The Pantone Color of the Year selection process requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis. To arrive at the selection each year, Pantone’s color experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb the world looking for new color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.

How will you use the color of the year this year ?

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5 Tricks to Keep Your Pipes from Exploding This Winter

Even if you think they’ve already started to freeze.

New homeowners may have heard that winterization is important, but in the hubbub of your first year living in a home you own (finally!), it can be easy to overlook the need to prepare for the cold weather ahead. After all, it’s just not something renters deal with; prepping pipes for winter is often the landlord’s job.

Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you’ve forgotten and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a deep freeze, there’s still time to prevent disaster.

Here are some easy techniques to save your pipes from bursting:

1 Turn On Your Faucets

If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets — both indoors and out — can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There’s no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.

2 Open Cabinet Doors

During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won’t help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.

3 Wrap Your Pipes

If your pipes are already on their merry way towards freezing, wrapping them with warm towels might do the trick. You can cover them with the towels first and then pour boiling water on top, or use already-wet towels — if your hands can stand the heat (use gloves for this). This should help loosen the ice inside and get your system running again.

4 Pull Out Your Hairdryer

A hairdryer (or heat gun) can be a godsend when your pipes are freezing. If hot rags aren’t doing the trick, try blowing hot air directly on the pipes. Important note: You don’t want to use a blow torch or anything that produces direct flames, which can damage your pipes and turn a frozen pipe into an even worse disaster. You’re trying to melt the ice — not your pipes.

5 Shut Off The Water if Pipes Are Frozen

Have your pipes already frozen? Turn off the water immediately. (Hopefully you know where the master shut-off is, but if not, now’s the time to find it!)

Make sure to close off any external water sources, like garden hose hookups. This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes — the worst-case scenario. This also will help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system — and thus, your home.

For more helpful homeowner information, see HouseLogic, a site owned and operated by the National Association of Realtors.

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