6 Tips to Spruce Up Your Home

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 8.51.34 AMFrom the Washington Post: With the housing recovery gaining steam, Americans have more incentives to paint up, touch up and otherwise redecorate their homes. But there’s no need to spend willy-nilly.

From finding treasures on eBay.com to taking advantage of new offerings at department stores and discounters, there are plenty of ways to make your home more stylish on the cheap.

“There’s no excuse for an undecorated home on any budget,” said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, a retail consultancy. “Home has as much retail selection as fashion. And you can get a lot of buys.”

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, has expanded this year its assortment of window treatments like blinds, and is also bolstering offerings on rugs, decorative pillows, bathroom accessories and patio furniture. Under the discounter’s Better Homes & Gardens brand, decorative pillows range from $11.97 to $13.97.

Meanwhile, Target Corp., known for its cheap chic home designs, has launched a full line for the new store brand called Threshold, which offers a variety of goods from dinnerware sets to sheets and towels. And J.C Penney Co. is counting on a newly revamped home area that opens April 5 that houses new brands like Jonathan Adler, Sir Terence Conran, and Bodum. Michael Graves, who ended his 13-year partnership with Target last year and is known for his stylish tea kettles, is also joining Penney this spring.

Here are six tips for decorating your home:

— DO YOUR HOMEWORK: First, create a budget and search around to get inspiration. To get ideas, attend open houses to see how other people are decorating their homes. You can also find how-to videos and decorating blogs on such sites as HSN, HomeGoods, Lowe’s and Home Depot.

There are fewer home decor magazines than there used to be. But you can always flip through catalogs from stores such as Ballard Designs to get some tips.

Also, experts encourage you to do broad searches on the Web. EBay just launched a new technology called Feed that allows you to personalize your searches based on your style, like mod 1960s.

“It’s all about getting unexpected things,” said Chris Benz, an American fashion designer who is collaborating with eBay on various fashion collections. He said he has furnished his apartment and office with eclectic eBay finds like vintage Italian turquoise pottery pieces.

— PICK AND CHOOSE: Study your space and figure out what pieces of furniture you’ll be using more. So if you spend a lot of time in your living room, you may want to spend more on a sofa and an entertainment center that would house your flat-screen TV and books.

It’s like investing in good shoes or a handbag, said Pallavi Naidu, vice president of merchandising and product development at Atlanta-based Ballard Designs. Spending more on items that get lots of use means they will last longer and give you more satisfaction.

— IMPROVISE: You don’t need the real thing. If you don’t have money to spend on a granite backsplash for your kitchen turn to peel-and-stick wall tiles. Not sure if you want to invest in a carpet? An area rug could cost less and accomplish the same thing.

— REPURPOSE PIECES. Shop in flea markets and even your mother’s attic to find pieces that could be reinvented as useful home decor items. And think beyond the original purpose: WSL’s Corlett said that old sewing machines or leather-trimmed luggage can be used as tables.

— CHECK OUT FINANCING DEALS: If you’re strapped and need to stagger payments, instead of charging all at once on your credit card, check out financing deals from various retailers.

Most furniture stores have some kind of interest-free financing deal going most of the time. Just remember to keep up with the monthly payments or else you will wind up paying heavy-duty interest and sometimes extra fees.

— WHEN IN DOUBT, PAINT: Often, just a fresh coat of paint will make all the difference in a room.

“Painting is one of the affordable ways to change the decor,” Corlett said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Finding Your Style of Home Décor

Developing a comfortable home environment with touches of your own personal style can be overwhelming, especially since there are so many kinds of décor to choose from. Finding the right style to fit your personality is easier than you think, though and it can transform a home into a comfy sanctuary, whether residents rent or own.

Meghan Brozanic recently shared a simple explanation of styles in Design Psychology: Home Trends. You can read her article here or check out her nice primer below to help you figure out which type of home décor is the right fit.

Credit: Design:Shuffle

Credit: Design:Shuffle


Contemporary: This home décor style features clean lines and smooth, round surfaces. The contemporary color palette focuses on neutral tones such as beige, white, and tan, with light woods and metallic accents for a small pop of color. Fabrics in contemporary style homes are generally cottons, silks, and linens, which balance out the austere features with some needed texture. This style emphasizes ease, functionality, simplicity, and no-muss-no-fuss living.



Credit: recent settlers

Credit: recent settlers


Modern: Modern home décor also emphasizes simplicity, but it’s characterized by geometric shapes, symmetry, and a sleek feeling. Black, silver, gray, and white are popular modern design colors, but are often paired with a dramatic accent color. Surfaces tend to be granite or concrete, and hardware is generally stainless steel. Despite the emphasis on starkness, modern design is notable for the importance it places on eye-catching and vibrant art pieces.





Credit: coco+kelley

Credit: coco+kelley


Traditional: If you like luxurious fabrics and ornate patterns, the traditional style of home décor is for you. Generally inspired by homes of the 18th century, the most popular design movements for traditional home décor are British Colonial revival, 18th century English, 19th century neoclassical, and French country. Traditional homes are warm and inviting, with peach, red, tan, and green tones, dark wood paneling, and an emphasis on eye-catching and over-the-top accessories that often feature floral patterns, gold accents, and rich fabric.



Credit: Justin Beckley

Credit: Justin Beckl


Cottage: The cottage home décor style is all about comfort, coziness, and textured accents. The palette typically revolves around colors you’ll see in a garden; shades of greens, pink, and yellows, and white as a neutral furniture accent color. The soft colors are contrasted with rich textural elements like wicker, natural fiber fabrics, and weathered accessories. Cottage furniture is generally large and inviting. If you are drawn to the “shabby chic” aesthetic, cottage home décor is a good fit for you.




Credit: johnnyvintage

Credit: johnnyvintage

Eclectic: Why have just one home décor style when you can choose your favorite elements from all of them? The eclectic home décor style is gaining in popularity because of its flexibility and emphasis on building a décor strategy out of key pieces that you already own. Eclectic home décor mixes and matches colors, time periods, fabrics, shapes, and textures to create a space that is truly unique to the individual. Despite that, eclectic style is still held together by a neutral color scheme and allowing your personal style to shine with creative and bold accessories.









De-Cluttering 101

If you’ve dug through your supply closet for more than five minutes in search of one item, it might be time to re-organize and clear out the clutter. Try these simple tips for getting rid of the clutter and making more room for yourself!

Start Small, Think Big
Pick one space like a countertop or a messy drawer to tackle first and set aside just ten minutes to work. When you choose an area with strict parameters, you won’t feel quite so overwhelmed by the clutter and you’ll accomplish a lot more in the long run.

Let it Go
Are you keeping anything because you might need it someday? Chances are, some of these items may never be used enough to warrant taking up space. As you clean up around your home, start a “might use” pile for anything you don’t often use and dedicate time to deciding if you really need each one—then toss or donate what you don’t want.

Invest in Organization
There are lots of great products that make storage a snap. For a messy closet, consider a vertical shelf unit. A fabric model will hang from your closet rod, is inexpensive and can exponentially increase your storage space. Too many shoes? Try an under-the-bed bag with dividers for each pair or an over-the-door unit for easy access and visibility, plus you’ll never need to dig for that second shoe again.

Put Your Items to Good Use
Once you’ve cleared out your clutter, don’t just toss it—donate it! If old items like clothes, unused appliances or office supplies are in good condition, take them to your local donation drop-off or consignment shop. Many of these stores will be happy to take your donations or compensate you for your goods. Best of all, donating items not only helps local organizations, it could help you earn tax deductions next year!

When you set aside a little time and a few dollars to the cause, you can start clearing out your home for a fresher look and a cleaner feel, just in time for spring!


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Lessons From the Past

-1All markets including real estate markets go through cycles over time. As we look back, there are some lessons from history that are worth reviewing. How many times do we look back and see our missed opportunities?

Remember The Early 1980s – Disco was the rage and mortgage rates were in the high teens. What were the factors that caused such high rates and could that happen again? The economy in the late 1970s was stalled and the Fed started printing money to boost the economy. That worked in the short-term but eventually led to inflation. The Fed then used increasing interest rates to slow the economy and keep inflation under control. Sound familiar? The fed is currently printing $85 billion each month to buy mortgage securities and bonds to keep financing rates like mortgages artificially low. But we cannot do that forever due to the budget ceiling and mounting national debts. Many economists predict that we are heading toward another round of inflation and the Fed will have no choice but to raise rates again. In addition, our whole mortgage system is broken and the math simply does not work. The FHA (Federal Housing Authority) is basically insolvent and askin g Congress for money. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are also underwater and there is pending legislation to completely restructure these entities. To make this system work, we must bring back the normal investors to buy the mortgage securities that support the whole system. The key factor is the rates of return. With mortgage rates artificially low, the investor appetite is low. But if mortgage rates rise, the investors will return. Big change is coming to mortgages – the only question is when?

We do not expect to see mortgage rates back in the teens but we do expect to see rates in the 6-8% range again in 2-4 years. That is a 100% drop in your purchasing power and may cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. Sellers that are waiting for the values to rise on their current home before moving are going to be shocked on the other end of their purchase. It is predictable that home prices will rise and mortgage financing will get more expensive. The Spanish philosopher George Santayana said, ”Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it!” We want to make sure that does not happen to you and your loved ones.
If you or someone you know are considering selling their property, our award-winning Advanced Property Marketing System is the most effective methodology to get the highest market value. Learn more about it at www.PetersenPartners.com

Exterior Replacement Projects Provide Biggest Return on Investment for Homeowners, Say REALTORS®

exterior_window_replacementHomeowners looking for the most return on their investment when it comes to remodeling should consider exterior replacement projects. According to the 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® rated exterior projects among the most valuable home improvement projects.

“REALTORS® know that curb appeal projects offer great bang for your buck, because a home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see,” says National Association of REALTORS® President Gary Thomas. “Projects such as siding, window and door replacements can recoup more than 70 percent of their cost at resale. REALTORS® know what home features are important to buyers in your area and can provide helpful insights when considering remodeling projects.”

Results of the report are summarized on NAR’s consumer website HouseLogic.com, which provides information on dozens of remodeling projects, from kitchens and baths to siding replacements, including the recouped value of the project based on a national average. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 85.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. The steel entry door replacement is the least expensive project in the report, costing little more than $1,100 on average. A majority of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects; all of these are estimated to recoup more than 71 percent of costs.

Three different siding replacement projects landed in the top 10, including fiber cement siding, expected to return 79.3 percent of costs, vinyl siding, expected to return 72.9 percent of costs, and foam-backed vinyl, expected to return 71.8 percent of costs. Two additional door replacements were also among the top exterior replacement projects. The midrange and upscale garage door replacement were both expected to return more than 75 percent of costs.

According to the report, two interior remodeling projects in particular can recoup substantial value at resale. A minor kitchen remodel is ranked fifth and is expected to return 75.4 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000.

The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the attic bedroom, which landed at number eight and tied with the vinyl siding replacement with 72.9 percent of costs recouped. With an average national cost of just under $48,000, the attic project adds a bedroom and bathroom within a home’s existing footprint. The improvement project projected to return the least is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup less than 44 percent.

The 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 81 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 15th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with NAR.

REALTORS® provided their insights into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. The 2013 national average cost-to-value ratio rose to 60.6 percent, ending a six-year decline. The ratio represents nearly a three-point improvement over 2011-2012. Lower construction costs are the principal factor in the upturn, especially when measured against stabilizing house values. In addition, the cost-to-value ratio improved nationally for every project in this year’s report and is higher than it was two years ago for both remodeling and replacement projects.

“A REALTOR® is the best resource for helping homeowners decide what improvement projects will provide the most upon resale in their market,” says Thomas. “Each neighborhood is different, and the desirability and resale value of a particular remodeling project varies depending on where you live. When making a home remodeling decision, resale value is just one factor that homeowners should take into consideration. Consult a REALTOR® to make sure you are making the best decision.”

Most regions followed the national trends; however, the Pacific region—consisting of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington—once again led the nation with an average cost-value ratio of 71.2 percent, due mainly to strong resale values. The next best performing regions were West South Central, South Atlantic and East South Central. These regions attribute their high ranking to construction costs that were lowest in the country. While still remaining below the national average, most remaining regions showed strong improvement over last year. These are Mountain, New England, East North Central, Middle Atlantic and West North Central.

To read the full project descriptions and access national and regional project data, visit www.costvsvalue.com. “Cost vs. Value” is a registered trademark of Hanley Wood, LLC.

For more information, visit www.realtor.org. URL to article: http://rismedia.com/2013-03-04/exterior-replacement-projects-provide-biggest-return-on-investment-for-homeowners-say-realtors-2/

The Best Time of Year to Buy Household Items

Sale_092012_vr_tif_Homeownership can be costly when it comes to all of the furnishings, electronics, and tools it takes to run a household.  A great article recently posted by Realty Times reveals the best time of year to buy certain household items in order to score the biggest savings.

They looked at two studies, one by Decide Inc. and the Wall Street Journal, and the other by Sales.com. Other reports from AARP and LifeHacker offer month-by-month buying bargains for everything from appliances to power tools.

It seems there’s a deal every month on certain items. Here’s the rundown month by month:

January: Furniture, new flooring, and bedding and linens

February: Air conditioners and older model televisions that will soon be moving out for newer models

March: Gardening tools, china, and flatware

April: Vacuum cleaners

May: Barbecue equipment, patio furniture, and home office furniture

June: Tools

July: Kitchen appliances, such as refrigerators and ranges

August: Linens and storage containers

September: Grills and lawn mowers

October: Appliances and clearance patio furniture and outdoor items

November: Electronics, appliances, and tools

December: Televisions, electronics, and small appliances like toasters and blenders

Yearly Cleaning Tips

The experts at Merry Maids know how to keep a home looking it’s best. Check out their helpful tips on what you should be doing on a yearly schedule to keep your own home clean and fresh in this video.

GenY is Finally in a Mood to Buy (Houses)

Young Couple Moving HouseAccording to USA Today, the Housing industry should brace itself: The Millennials are moving in.

A generation that’s about 90 million strong, Millennials (or Generation Y) form the largest demographic wave in the nation’s history — even larger than the Baby Boomers. And now that the oldest are in their early 30s (the youngest are 12), they’re coming of age for home ownership.

It’s a momentous time for an industry still reeling from bad loans, foreclosures and price collapse. Now, builders, developers and agents are gearing up for the onslaught. Just this month, PulteGroup and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate each released a survey of what Millennials want — evidence of their impending influence.

They’re not that different from their parents, except they’re not as wowed by luxury and are more likely to demand technology and flexible space.

“This generation is coming at the right time,” says Fred Ehle, vice president for PulteGroup. “It’s the largest potential number of buyers coming in to the market.”

They would’ve come sooner had the recession and high unemployment not deferred many Millennials’ dreams. “We forget how tough it is right now for these young GenYs to have a down payment,” says Greg Tsujimoto, manager at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine, Calif. “They have student debt. Another obstacle is finding and establishing their careers.”

Slowing GenY’s entry into the housing market: delaying moving out of Mom-and-Dad’s house, delaying marriage and delaying kids.

“Right now, it’s either GenXers or Boomers buying,” Tsujimoto says. “It’s no secret Millennials want to own a home. That hasn’t changed. But there’s at least a four-year delay.”

The pent-up demand is starting to surface, and “that will more than offset a year or two we missed in the market,” Ehle says. “As soon as we get these folks out of their parents’ basement and into a job … ”

Unemployment for Millennials (born from 1982 through 2001) is just under 10%, more than two points higher than the U.S. rate of 7.7%, he says.

They will buy when they’re ready, says Tommy Stephenson, broker/owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Executive Partners in Augusta, Ga. “Millennials are more well-versed and educated in regard to today’s real estate industry and are prepared to buy when the time is right for them,” he says.

One advantage: Most are first-time buyers not hampered by underwater mortgages or having to sell one house before buying another.

“Why waste money to rent?” says Cristin Morton, 30 and single, who bought a house late last year in North Phoenix through Better Homes and Gardens. “I’m paying less for my mortgage than I was renting.”

What industry research shows:

More than half the Millennials who bought Pulte homes last year said the main reason was to invest and build equity.

Tiffany Troyer, 25, graduated in 2009 from Baylor University. She did what many of her peers did after college: moved back home. She stayed a year, got an apartment and has been renting ever since.

“My parents pressured me to look for a house the last two years,” says Troyer, area director for Nitro Swimming, an Austin swimming school.

One day, she agreed to do a rent-vs.-buy spreadsheet. “Rent has increased three consecutive years,” she says. “You’ll never get that back. Just looking at those numbers, I could own for less than rent.”

She qualified for a 3.25%, 30-year fixed mortgage with 20% down and bought a new 1,900-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath ranch-style house in Leander, a northern Austin suburb. Her mortgage: less than $1,500 a month, compared with $1,600-a-month rent for a 1,000-square-foot apartment.

“I get double the space,” Troyer says. “My goal was to buy something that, long-term, if I have a family and kids, it’s a place I can stay in.”

Pulte’s January online survey of 521 adult renters ages 18-34 just released found that efficient use of space is an important feature to 84%. More than two-thirds want an open layout for entertaining. Most want ample storage, and 63% want outdoor space to extend living areas.

“What may be different about this buyer is that they may have more stuff,” Ehle says. “It’s different kind of stuff: technological gadgets, gaming. They also do work from home.”

Better Homes and Gardens’ online survey of 1,000 adults ages 18 to 35 finds that Millennials are not keen on traditional floor plans or traditional rooms. They’re a “fix-it” generation who would rather do home improvements themselves than ask parents for money. They want their homes to be as unique as they are and each room to represent aspects of their lives, from hobbies to gaming, the survey shows.

One in five say “home office” is a more appropriate name for their dining room, and 43% want to turn their living room into a home theater.

Morton, a medical sales consultant, lives in a 2,300-square-foot, four-bedroom house. The dining room is not a dining room but an entertainment room. “I really want to utilize every room,” Morton says. “My parents have a traditional living room. Nobody ever sits there.”

Miguel Berger, president and broker of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Tech Valley in Albany, N.Y., was showing a house to a couple recently. Their reaction: “Who uses a dining room?”

The survey shows they would rather have extra space in their kitchen for a TV than a second oven, and that tech features are more important than curb appeal. Almost two-thirds say they would not buy a house without up-to-date tech capabilities.

Yet “they’re more frugal because they have lived through a recession,” Berger says. “They’re very concerned about value. … They like to know the per-square-foot value.”

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/03/28/millennials-dream-of-owning-a-home-stalled-but-not-dead/2029379/


See Inside: The Staging of Celebrity Homes

Photo credit: Meredith Baer HomePhoto credit: Meredith Baer Home

In this month’s issue of REALTOR(R) Magazine, Beverly Hills real estate pro to the stars Myra Nourmand and Brett Baer, a luxury home stager with Meredith Baer Home, shared with me how to add some Hollywood magic to your listings.

Take a look at some of their ideas for sprucing up the homes of A-list celebrities.


Photo Credit: Nourmand & AssociatesMyra Nourmand, a real estate professional with Nourmand & Associates, preps the kitchen to her $15 million listing belonging to singer Sheryl Crow using colorful accents like a bowl of red apples, a white bowl filled with strawberries, flower arrangements, and freshly baked cookies and a tea set to invite buyers to sit back and stay awhile.

Photo credit: Meredith Baer HomeColorful accessories — like red lampshades, patterned orange pillows, and large red-orange colored artwork — are used against the neutral backdrop in staging a Bel-Air home once rented by “Twilight” actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.

Photo credit: Meredith Baer HomePhoto credit: Meredith Baer Home / Using books as a staging prop. Colorful coffee table books were sprinkled throughout this home recently purchased by TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer to show areas where a home buyer could sit back and unwind after a long day. For example, the book “Luxury Toys” was left on the table stand in the living room.

Photo credit: Meredith Baer Home / The books can be placed strategically around the home to show places where buyers could sit back and unwind after a long day. In this sitting area, books were sprinkled on a table, showing a quiet retreat to relax while enjoying views of the home’s backyard.

Photo credit: Meredith Baer HomePhoto credit: Meredith Baer Home / A must-have in staging a master bedroom: A seating area, Baer says. He says the seating area gives the room a suite feel. In this home recently purchased by producer Jerry Bruckheimer, a light blue chaise was situated overlooking the patio, as well as two wingback chairs framing the fireplace.

Photo credit: Meredith Baer Home / Stretch dining areas to their max to show the possibilities of the spaces for entertaining. In this dining room, a large table was used to show exactly how many people the space could accommodate.

Photo credit: Meredith Baer Home / The master bath is turned into a spa with the display of luxury soaps, fluffy white towels on the counters, flowers in a vase, and topped off with a modern chandelier.



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