Wednesday, April 07, 2021

10 Ways the Kitchen has been Evolving in the past year


3 Takeaways:

  • When space permits, an island has become the heart of the room.
  • White is still the go-to color for kitchens, but other colors are gaining momentum in personalization.
  • Zones for tasks like baking, coffee making, and working are the new way to separate space.

Kitchen trends are like fashion—wait a season and this color will be in and that one out. But the changes since the start of the pandemic a year ago have emerged to keep the room true to its moniker as the heart of the house.

With more people working remotely—and cooking all their meals at home—the kitchen has become more than a place to prepare food. It’s transitioned to an all-in-one work, gathering, eating, and storage hub, says designer Prosha Korangy of Prosha Design.

Or as interior designer Ximena Rodriguez, a principal and director of interior design at CetraRuddy Architecture, puts it, “It has become a space to enjoy living.”

From cabinetry and appliances to lighting and smart technology, 2021 kitchen trends have arisen as highly functional and beautiful, says Liz Brooks, executive vice president of sales and marketing at developer Belgravia Group.

While some changes started before COVID-19 hit, others kicked in after stay-at-home orders spread. Many homeowners realized “the importance of their home as their refuge,” says Mick De Giulio, owner of deGiulio Kitchen Design. That spurred homeowners with funds and access to contractors to proceed with remodeling projects, he says.

Here are 10 kitchen changes most sought after by homeowners in 2021:
 

Flexible kitchen layout

©Belgravia Group

1. Flexible instead of open layouts.

The number of homeowners renovating interiors to gain an open-concept plan has dropped since 2019, according to the 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. Instead, it’s evolved into a desire for flex space—a reimagined open concept. Since the pandemic started, designer Jodi Swartz found many homeowners hiring her KitchenVisions firm to take down walls “to keep an eye on their children while cooking,” she says. Other homeowners sought an adjacent space to keep work, hobbies, or play out of the main living space.

Within the kitchen layout, De Giulio says the work triangle of the sink, refrigerator, and cooktop being close proximity is still paramount. But with more people congregating in the kitchen, design is shifting to add ancillary zones. Peter Albanese, vice president of kitchen and bath at Bellari Home Remodeling, often puts a charging station near a kitchen entry. De Giulio likes to include a “LaMattina” or morning breakfast center. A baking center has gained interest, according to Houzz, as more homeowners prepare breads and cakes, and post in cooking groups like KitchenQuarantine. Many homeowners also want a comfortable seating area for eating, working, schmoozing, which Interior Makeovers designer Lori Gilder likes to put in a windowed corner, preferably with a banquette.

Longer kitchen island

©Werner Straube - Morgante Wilson Architects

2. Bigger islands.

“The bigger the better” seems to be the rule, and larger kitchen island designs could replace a table, says Linda Fennessy of Kitchen Magic. Just how big is big? “Enormous,” says architect Bob Zuber with Morgante Wilson Architects, who cites 7x14½ feet as common, so that it can fit several people sitting or working together, plus room for a sink, dishwasher, and microwave. Architects Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker like to make gathering around these islands more comfortable by rounding corner edges, while designer Susan Brunstrum of Studio Brunstrum recommends chairs or swivel stools with cushions and backs in a laminated fabric for comfort and easy cleaning.

Quartz countertop

©The Home Improvements Group

Quartz countertop

3. Healthier countertops.

Quartz and quartzite replaced granite as go-to surfaces years ago, primarily because they are less ubiquitous, more durable and nonporous, and associated with greater healthfulness due to their antimicrobial properties, says designer Chris Dreith of The Home Improvements Group. The main differences between them are that quartz is manmade and easier for fabricators to match patterns, while quartzite is a natural stone and it takes effort to find slabs with grains that work together. Quartzite can handle higher heat without burning—up to 500 degrees versus 275 for quartz, says De Giulio. There are also materials like Staron®, an acrylic option that’s engineered to be nonporous and is more affordable than quartz, quartzite, marble, and granite.

Lively backsplash with quartz countertops

©Kitchen Magic

4. Bolder backsplashes.

Backsplashes have become a way to add personality to a kitchen. Fennessy says more people are moving beyond traditional rectangular subway tiles to herringbone, hexagonal, picket fence, and penny-round mosaic patterns. De Giulio adds visual warmth and character backsplashes with a mix of materials such as textured wood and shiny metal. Another way to introduce boldness is with a single slab covering the backsplash, which eliminates cleaning grout lines, says Korangy. When homeowners tire of their choice, a backsplash is among the easiest, most affordable changes, according to Swarz. 

Module cooktop

©SubZero, Wolf, and Cove

5. Multitasking appliances.

With so many demands placed on the kitchen, homeowners are favoring appliances that serve multiple functions. Dreith says many clients are choosing steam/convection ovens and hot water/filtration systems. Cooking more at home has led to bigger appliances, from longer sinks—sometimes five feet and with features like sliding cutting boards—to tall columns designated for refrigeration or freezing, and more personalized components. SubZero, Wolf, and Cove now offer 15-inch modules that let the homeowner assemble their ideal cooktop, with options such as a wok, deep fryer, and gas or eclectic oven options, says Jeff Sweet, corporate manager of product marketing. Many homeowners are also looking for help from technology. SubZero’s new Cove dishwasher line has a partnership with Amazon and can alert homeowners when they need more detergent pods. And faucets now come in water-efficient, no-touch options.

6. Better ventilation and purer water.

Kitchen with better ventilation and access to outdoors

©Interior Makeovers

To stay healthy, safe drinking water and fresh air no longer mean having just a purification system attached to a faucet or venting odors and stale air through a range hood. Homeowners want a water purification system for their entire house, says real estate salesperson Tony Mariotti, CEO of RubyHome. He has clients who like to shower with “conditioned” water. To achieve proper ventilation, some homeowners are adding larger windows as well as installing a hood blower with a larger capacity. The size depends on room dimensions, odors produced, and the equipment’s cubic feet per minute (cfms). De Giulio likes to dial back vent noise by placing equipment in an adjacent space and suggests homeowners consult an HVAC specialist. “It’s a tricky science,” he says. But something as simple as houseplants can help purify air, says Gena Kirk, vice president of KB Design Studio for KB Home.

LED lighting

©Michael P. LeFebvre - KitchenVisions

7. Warmer, efficient lighting.

LEDs have grabbed the spotlight, whether under, in, and above cabinets, in ceilings, and along toe kicks. One reason, they’re more energy efficient; another—technology has made it easier to achieve a warmer, dimmable LED, which Gilder favors. She suggests a range between 3,000 and 4,000 kelvins (K). In addition, LEDs are programmable to vary in brightness and colors, says Dreith. Houzz found pendant lighting remains popular dangling above an island, but some experts, like Brooks, now prefer one substantial fixture.

8. More specialized storage.

Specialized storage drawer for utensils

©Kitchen Magic

Besides needing better storage for buying in bulk and making fewer runs to stores, homeowners are also looking to designers to help find places to better stash pantry goods, dishes, glasses, cutlery, and small appliances, says Mary Cook, president of Mary Cook Associates, a design firm. Some homeowners are adding on “super pantries,” akin to small, second kitchens, says Zuber. If space and budget don’t permit something that large, Fennessy recommends building a pantry cabinet with rollout shelves and room at the bottom for taller items.

When it comes to cabinetry, drawers are preferred to cabinets since they’re easier to access, says Dreith. Flat rather than shaker style is also favored for easier cleaning and they because they can be dressed up with hardware, says Brooks. Homeowners are interested in cabinet systems to organize everything from cookie sheets to spices to recycling bins, Houzz found. Those who prefer a modern look want some open shelves rather than all cabinets on top, says Rodriguez.

Handscraped floor

©Dave Burk Hedrich Blessing Photographers - deGiulio Kitchen Design

9. Sturdier floors.

More people at home equate to more wear and tear on floors, so durable, easy-to-clean choices rank high. The Houzz survey found that vinyl wood-style planks have become more popular than hardwood, but many designers like Fennessy say clients prefer hardwood and engineered wood over vinyl wood planks to mimic the modern farmhouse look. De Giulio’s clients favor wider planks, as well as old-fashioned, elegant, hand-scraped floors.

10. Auxiliary outdoor kitchens.

Homeowners value outdoor space more than ever. Designer Cristin Michele Beavers, a real estate salesperson and founder of CMB Designs, outfits clients’ Southern California yards with all the bells and whistles, from pizza ovens and smokers to wine fridges, warming drawers, heaters, furniture, and fireplaces. The warm weather locations offer incentive to invest in the outdoor living area. De Giulio says many of his clients request a good grill, countertop, and maybe an outdoor sink. 

Outdoor kitchen grill

©Marc Nissim - Harmony Design Group

No matter the makeover a homeowner is planning, they should be aware of the lumber shortage in the U.S., which is increasing costs of materials and labor. Eventually, “when production and distribution rise to meet demand,” Zuber expects costs will decrease. “A lot was due to people getting sick and factories shutting.”

Is the White Kitchen Passé?

Despite a 4% decline from the prior year, white remains the most popular color choice for kitchens, according to the 2021 Houzz survey, followed by wood tones, then gray. But the bigger news is that many multicolor (often bold) kitchens are steadily growing in preference, says Brunstrum. Reasons cited are that homeowners want to personalize the room and have less concern about resale or what the next buyer wants.

White kitchen

©Michael P. LeFebvre - KitchenVisions

Colors and different materials and textures now appear in myriad ways. Swartz is designing cabinetry in pine green, robin’s egg blue, and navy. Albanese, says pink tiles are back but in a soft rather than bubblegum ‘50s hue. Designer Katja Van der Loo of Papyrus Home Design is wallpapering kitchens again, which might introduce a mix of colors. Korangy mixes it all up: In one kitchen, blackened steel countertops with marble backsplash and laminate cabinets, and in another, salvaged wood, laminate wall surface, quartz countertop, and stainless steel toe kick.

Even appliances come in colors. Brunstrum paired a red range with blue cabinets. Fennessy predicts orange and magenta will be huge, along with more perimeter and island cabinets and countertops displaying different palettes, a trend from years ago that is re-emerging. 

New condo developments, often tamer and more monochromatic, now offer greater color choices with their finish packages. At the Parkline Chicago development, residents can choose from four palettes to meet individual aesthetics, says Thomas Roszak, president of Parkline developer Moceri + Roszak.
 

 


9 Key Findings From the 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study

Houzz, a popular online design community, recently a report based on more than 2,000 U.S. homeowners’ responses to reveal the latest trends. Here’s what they found:

  • Open plan loses favor. The number of homeowners fashioning an open plan dropped 43% in 2021, but one in five sought a kitchen that opens to an outdoor space.
  • Storage. More than one-quarter of those surveyed added cabinets to their renovated kitchen, four times more than the prior year.
  • Recycling. The most common specialty drawers are pull-out waste or recycling drawers.
  • Cookies and spices. The most popular cabinet organizers are for tidying up cookie sheets, favored by 48% and spices at 39%.
  • Fewer appliance upgrades. Appliances and fixtures were less likely to be included in a renovation, declining by 51% and 74% respectively.
  • Wireless. Among appliances that have been replaced, wireless controls have grown by 5%.
  • Outfitted islands. Nearly two-thirds of renovated kitchens feature an island with half of those including an appliance—usually a dishwasher or microwave.
  • Neutral walls. While gray, white, and beige still reign supreme on wall surfaces at 28%, 26%, and 21% respectively, homeowners go for more multicolored backsplashes, black stainless appliances, and blue walls.
  • Dollars spent. The median amount spent on major kitchen remodels—which includes replacing cabinets—remained stable at $35,000.

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Image 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Why do Radon Levels in the Home Tend to Fluctuate Seasonally


Why do Radon Levels in the Home Tend to Fluctuate Seasonally?

Why do Radon Levels in the Home Tend to Fluctuate Seasonally?

A client asked this recently, a common question this time of year. After getting their radon test results, they questioned the range of results over the test period, so they did some research. They found there isn’t just one answer to their question; a variety of factors must be considered. One point that tends to hold true is that radon levels in homes are generally higher when houses are closed, including heating season, the summer season if you have AC, and even spring if you have allergies. In Connecticut, that can cover about 9 months of the year! It must be noted, these fluctuations are expected when testing, and have been taken under consideration by the EPA in creating the testing guidelines and the 4.0 action level.

In addition to these closed-house conditions, we must consider the “ground conditions” as contributors to indoor radon levels. Look out the window, is the ground wet, snow-covered, or frozen? Any of those conditions create a soil seal that will force more radon into your home, often referred to as “The Blanket Effect”.  Just as a blanket can trap body heat, covered ground at the exterior can trap radon gases. As a soil gas, radon will follow the path of least resistance.  When the ground is sealed, the path of least resistance is going to be through your home.

Having a Certified Radon Test conducted in your home is the best way to determine your radon exposure. Testing for radon now makes sense to understand what the potentially highest levels of radon in your home are. Call Tiger today to schedule your radon test by our Certified Radon Staff.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon

Radon levels can soar during the colder months when residents keep windows closed and spend more time indoors. As many as 22,000 people die from lung cancer each year in the United States from exposure to indoor radon.

EPA Recommends:

Testing your home for radon — it’s easy and inexpensive.

Remediate if your radon level is 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.

Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be reduced.

Read EPA’s “Citizen’s Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and  Your Family From Radon.”


Thanks to Tiger Home Inspections for sharing this information

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Friday, January 29, 2021

11 Tips for A Healthier Relationship with Your Tech

 

Breaking The Habit: 11 Tips For A Healthier Relationship With Your Tech 

 

vector image illustration of a tan man with blonde hair and light blue shirt craning his neck down to look at and use phone, on a light yellow background, breaking phone addiction

While it’s never been easier to track your health and fitness using technology, ironically, overusing electronics can be hugely detrimental to a healthy lifestyle. Hunching over a smartphone screen constantly leads to bad eyesight, poor posture, and can even increase anxiety.

On top of that, our phones are major distractors– recent surveys indicate Americans check their phones 96 times per day, or about once every ten minutesBut that doesn’t mean you have to throw your phone away completely to form a healthier relationship with your technology.

We’ve put together a list of simple ways to stop doom-scrolling and be more mindful of time spent online. If you’re looking for a way to unplug more often and break your screen addiction, these ideas should help.

 

1. Start keeping track of your screen time.

Nowadays, most phones offer an easy way for you to see how much screen time you’re logging in a day. Just seeing the numbers can be a great incentive to take control of your time again, and to stop aimlessly using your phone out of habit.

2. Schedule a little phone-free time daily.

Set aside a designated “phone-free” time, where you don’t plan to use your phone, and try to keep it out of reach during that period. Many phones also offer the option to limit your screen time, making it easy to take control of your schedule and regulate your usage.

3. Don’t be available 24/7.

This is crucial if you want to have phone-free time without spending every second stressing about what you’re missing out on. A healthy family/work/life balance means that no one should expect you to be available 24/7. Let the people you’re close to know you’re trying to unplug a little to better manage expectations. You’ll quickly find it’s okay not to respond to every message instantaneously.

4. Avoid looking everything up first.

When’s the last time you tried out a new restaurant without looking at reviews, or stopped by a museum before reading about their collection online ahead of time? Try to avoid the impulse to Google everything immediately, and you’ll rely on your phone a lot less (and maybe add a little spontaneity to your day, too!).

5. Try an app to boost productivity.

It might sound counter-intuitive to use technology to help you stop using your phone as often, but there are tons of productivity apps that can help you cut down on distractions and use your tech more mindfully—whether that’s by making a smarter to-do list or setting aside time to focus on one activity.

6. Turn off a few notifications.

Constantly seeing messages on your phone screen is tempting, and keeps us in a repetitive cycle of unconsciously scrolling through new notifications— and likely getting off task. Turning off any app notifications you don’t need can help keep you from mindlessly grabbing your phone.

7. Turn on ‘Do Not Disturb.’

Check your settings, and you should find a ‘Do Not Disturb’ option. This setting delivers notifications and calls without using sounds or alerts, making it ideal for times when you’d rather not be distracted by your phone. You can turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ manually, or schedule it for whenever you’d like. Try setting it from 30 minutes before bedtime until about 15 minutes before your alarm goes off.

8. Don’t charge your phone near bed.

Find yourself staring at your phone screen in the middle of the night a lot when you should be sleeping? Try moving your charger. Keeping your phone across the room when you’re headed to sleep keeps you from staying up looking at memes. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, even better– it’s the perfect encouragement to get out of bed in the morning instead of hitting snooze from your nightstand.

9. Stay offline until after breakfast.

This step is a lot easier if you’re not scrolling through social media in bed before even getting up. Stop browsing before you brush your teeth to help get your day off to a productive start. Feeling extra motivated? Try setting aside a few minutes of mindfulness before you grab your phone for the day.

10. Put a rubber band on it.

Find yourself mindlessly browsing Instagram before you even realize you’ve picked up your phone? Try putting a rubber band around it. That way, there’s a physical barrier that you have to remove before you can use your phone again. This is a great way to make your tech usage more mindful!

11. Make it a game.

If you have friends who are also interested in reducing their screen-time, turn your next lunch date into a competition by stacking your phones in the center of the table as soon as you sit down. The first one to grab their phone has to pay the bill.
If no one succumbs to temptation before the meal is over, everyone pays for their own food instead. It’s a win-win; you’ll get to spend time connecting to friends, and have a shot at a free meal while you’re at it!

 

Start 2021 off right by committing to healthier online habits, and spend more time IRL doing what you love. Break internet addictions so you can use your technology, instead of letting it use you.

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More Buyers Open to Relocating

 

 
 
Home Buyers Say They're Open                                                                    to Relocating

Remote work has Americans spreading out and the trend doesn't
look likeit's going anywhere any timesoon. More and more,
Americans are moving further from city centers and into suburbs
and exurbs.  In fact, according to one recent survey, two-thirds
of participants said they either already had, or would like to, move 
somewhere within 50 miles of their current home. Some even 
wanted to move further, with 4 percent saying they moved more
than 50 miles away and 10 percent said they'd like to in the future.

In short, there are a lot of Americans who are using their newfound
ability to work from home as a reason to move elsewhere - whether
for extra space, privacy, or to save money. It's not surprising. It's also
likely to continue. That's because, just 17 percent of respondents said
they thought their work-from-home arrangement would end when the
pandemic subsides, while 72 percent said they expect it to be
permanent.

More here.
 
 


 
 
Mortgage Demand Rises 17% After                                                                  the Holidays

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly
Mortgage Applications Survey, demand for mortgage applications
was up 16.7 percent during the first week of January. The increase
includes an adjustment for the holidays, but represents a significant
spike from the previous week. Refinance activity
was up 20 percent, while purchase demand rose 8 percent.

Joel Kan, MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry
forecasting, says the numbers contain evidence that first-time home
buyers are becoming more active in the market. "Sustained housing
demand continued to support purchase growth, with activity up nearly
10 percent from a year ago, " Kan said. "The lower average loan
balance observed was partly due to a 9.2 percent increase in FHA
applications, which is a positive sign of more lower-income and
first-time buyers returning to the market. " Also in the report, average
mortgage rates were up slightly from the previous week, with increases
seen for both 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances
and loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. The MBA's
survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all
retail residential mortgage applications.

More here.  
 
 

MORTGAGE NEWS

 
 
More Buyers Buying Homes Sight Unseen

How we buy homes has undergone a significant transformation
in the past year. The proof is in newly released data that shows
a record number of recent home buyers made an offer on a home
without having ever visited it in person. The numbers, from an online
real-estate portal, show 63 percent of buyers who purchased a home
last year made an offer without having seen the property. That's
up from 32 percent one year earlier and 45 percent in July 2020.

So what's driving the trend? Well, mostly it's the COVID-19
pandemic. The virus caused us all to changethe way we do
things,including buying a home. After its onset,home buyers
became more comfortable using technology like virtual home
tours to further explore listings that caught their eye online. It
also meant more Americans working from home,which lead home
shoppers to look for houses in areas that weren't as easy to get to
for an in-person walkthrough. The combination of pandemic,
technological advancement, and remote work means an
increasing number of us have had to - or have chosen to
- take our home search virtual. It remains to be seen, though,
whether or not the trend will continue after
the virus subsides.

More here.
 
 

ECONOMIC NEWS

 
 
Will There Be a Buyer's Market In 2021?

A buyer's market means there are more homes available for
 sale than there are interested home buyers.
When this happens, home shoppers have more negotiating
power and time to choose - since sellers are
less likely to have more than one offer to pick from. This was
the case after the housing crash and
financial crisis, when the market was flooded with homes but
had few buyers, outside of real-estate
investors looking to capitalize.

So what should we expect from 2021? Well, most likely, not a
buyer's market. The number of homes
for sale fell significantly last year and remains low. Conversely,
home buyer demand is elevated and
has been for a while. That means, more buyers than homes,
 which leads to competition and higher
prices. But while home buyers aren't likely to find a buyer's
 market, they will find conditions softening
from last year. With mortgage rates still at record lows and
 new-home construction improving, experts
expect home-price increases to moderate and inventory to
begin its recovery. In other words, the 2021
housing market won't be a buyer's market, but it should be
 better than last year.

More here.

Thanks to Sue Baxter at FM Home Loans for sharing this information

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Monday, January 13, 2020

National update on Real Estate and Mortgage Activity

HOUSING NEWS
New Home Sales About 17 Percent Higher
 From Last Year

As 2019 comes to a close, there are several signs that the
housing market will be strong in the year ahead. Among them,
new home sales might top the list. For example, according to
 the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and
 the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales
 of newly built single family homes are now nearly 17 percent
 higher than they were at the same time last year.

Additionally, the amount of new homes for sale is now at a
5.4 month's supply. In short, demand for new homes is high
 and that's good for the economy and the housing market.
 So, what's driving the increased demand for new homes?
A large part of it is mortgage rates. Rates fell in 2019 and
 helped offset home-price increases, keeping affordability
 levels manageable.

Combined with a strong job market and rising wages, lower
borrowing costs motivated more Americans to want to make
 a move. With buying conditions expected to remain fairly
 stable in 2020, more of the same is expected in the year ahead.

More here.
FINANCE NEWS
Most Markets More Affordable than
Historic Average

Measuring housing-market affordability typically involves
 making some comparisons. Of course, with any comparison,
 what you discover depends on what you're comparing.
 Home prices, after all, could be down from where they were
 last month but up compared to the same time last year.

That's why the best comparison is usually one that takes
the broadest and longest view. For ATTOM Data Solutions'
 fourth-quarter 2019 U.S. Home Affordability Report, they
calculated current affordability levels then compared them
 to their long-term average. What they found was 53 percent
 of the 486 counties included in the report were more
 affordable than their historic average. That includes
counties in and around Chicago, Washington D.C.,
and New York, with areas like Orange County, CA and
 Bay County, FL showing big gains in the past year.

Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM, says mortgage
 rates and wages are key. "Homes were actually a bit more
 affordable because of declining mortgage rates combined
 with rising pay to overcome the continued price run-up,"
Teta said. "As long as people are earning more money and
shelling out less to pay off home loans, the market should
 remain strong with prices continuing to rise, at least in the near term."

More here.
MORTGAGE NEWS
Mortgage Rates Remain Flat, Just Above Historic Lows

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA)
 Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates were
 flat last week from the week before. There were slight
increases to rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with
 both conforming and jumbo balances and loans backed
 by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Rates for
 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were unchanged week-over-week.

Despite rates remaining just above historic lows, demand for
mortgage applications fell from one week earlier. Michael Fratantoni,
 MBA's senior vice president and chief economist, said home-buying
activity is typically slow at this time of year. "We are in the slowest
time of the year for the purchase market," Fratantoni said.
 "Purchase application activity declined after the seasonal adjustment,
but still remains about 5 percent ahead of last year's pace.
 The increase in construction activity will bolster housing
inventories, which should be a positive for purchase volumes
 going into 2020."

Refinance activity also fell last week, though it remains 128 percent
higher than last year at the same time. The MBA's weekly survey
has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail
 residential mortgage applications.

More here.
ECONOMIC NEWS
Personal Income Up 0.5 Percent

The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported on personal income,
 which has gone up by 0.5 percent. Disposable personal income, which
is the money left over after taxes, increased at the same rate. Personal
 income was mostly unchanged the preceding month, so the most recent
 increase could be a sign of a new trend.

Personal consumption expenditures (the money that people spend)
 increased by 0.4 percent after staying flat the preceding month. The
 personal savings rate was at 7.9 percent, which is under the recommended
10 percent, but is still a good sign that Americans are saving some of
 their money.

In short, Americans are earning more, spending more, and are saving
a decent amount of money. If this trend continues, 2020 could shape
out to be a good year for the economy and consumers.

More here.

Thanks to Sue Baxter at FM Loans for the use of this information.

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