Thursday, March 16, 2023

2023 Kitchen Trends focus on Eco-friendly designs

Home Advice Home Improvement 2023’s Top Kitchen Trends Are All About Saving Money, Honey By Jennifer Kelly Geddes Jan 10, 2023 Is your kitchen begging for some updates or a full-on makeover? Then you’ll want to be up on the latest design trends and keep the environment in mind, too. A new survey of 3,600 homeowners by Houzz has found that an overwhelming majority of people planning a kitchen renovation this year (92%) are looking to include eco-friendly features. Some of the most popular upgrades chosen include energy-saving appliances (61%) and LED lights (65%), as well as more efficient windows (27%) and fixtures that conserve water (34%). Yet saving the earth is actually more of a side benefit to homeowners’ main goal: saving money. According to Houzz staff economist Marine Sargsyan, “the most frequent reason behind choosing sustainable options is long-run cost effectiveness, with environmental-friendliness as a secondary consideration.” Saving cash isn’t easy, though, given the median spend on minor kitchen renovations has shot up 40% year over year, to $14,000. Meanwhile, the money plunked down for major overhauls (which include replacing all appliances and cabinets) has remained steady at $45,000. Here’s a detailed look at the report’s findings, which might get some ideas cooking on how to change up your own kitchen, too. A new year, a new style As has been the pattern over the past few years, 83% of homeowners who are delving into a kitchen rehab are changing the room’s style. Top designs include transitional (23%), followed by modern (14%) and contemporary (12%). Still love the modern farmhouse look? It remains in the mix and even went up a point from last year, to 11%. Open floor plans are still going strong When it comes to kitchen design, the open plan is still in vogue. Last year, interest in this look dropped a bit, but per the latest numbers, 40% of renovating homeowners are opting for cook spaces that are open to the rest of their interiors, which is up from 38% in the previous year. What’s more, 20% of folks are even looking to open up their new kitchens to the outdoors, with a set of double doors or row of doors taking the top choice (46%), a single door after that (29%), and a pass-through window last, at 14%.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 24, 2023

What's the Scoop on Rental Prices?


 Rental Prices Continue To Tick Up, but the Wild Increases Appear To Be Over

 Rental Prices Continue To Tick Up, but the Wild Increases

 Appear To Be Over

 By Clare Trapasso

Feb 23, 2023

As the new year kicked off, the wild run-ups in rental prices                                            that terrorized tenants last year appear to have leveled off.

January was the 12th month in row where rent growth slowed,                                according to the® monthly rental report. Monthly                                        rents were down $ 80 from the peak in August, but they were still                              up 2.9% year over year, to hit a median $ 1,726 a month in the                            nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas.

( looked at rents for studios, one-bedroom and                                      two-bedroom apartments, condos, townhomes, and single-family                        homes in the 50 largest metros. Metros include the main city                                        and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.

“The biggest takeaway is while the rental growth is slowing,                                   the affordability concerns continue,” says                                           Senior Economist Jiayi Xu.

Tenants have been grappling with sticker shock as rental prices                              soared during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many couples and individuals                          moved out on their own, while others were would-be homeowners who were trapped in rentals after being outbid or priced out of the for-sale housing market.                      This strained the limited supply of rentals, driving prices upward.

Rents were the lowest in Oklahoma City, the only one of the 50 largest                      metros where tenants can still find a home for just under $ 1,000 a                            month. Median rents in the metro were $ 982. Louisville, KY,                          and Birmingham, AL, rounded out the top three most affordable                            metros with median rents of $ 1,167 and $ 1,178 respectively.

But renters in those lower-priced parts of the country shouldn’t                                    get too comfortable. Prices rose the most in the cheaper Midwest                            and South metros, going up 10.5% year over year in Indianapolis, 8.8% in Birmingham, and 8.3% in Columbus, OH.

Meanwhile, rents dropped the most in some of the hottest real                                      estate markets during the pandemic. Monthly rents went down                              6.2% in Las Vegas, 3.8% in New Orleans, 3.6%                                                  in Sacramento, CA, 3.4% in Phoenix, and 1.4% in Austin, TX.

“With high rents across the country, places that offer relative                                  affordability tend to be in high demand, which means more                                          competition and that these lower prices might not last                                                  ” Chief Economist Danielle Hale said in a statement.                            “Many of these metros have fewer available rental homes                                        than [in] previous months, and fewer apartments to choose from                            means prices are likely to go up.”

Rents also jumped the most for studios, typically the smallest units.                              They rose 3.9% year over year in January, to a median of $ 1,417 .                            For one-bedroom apartments, rents increased 2.8% to $ 1,609,                                for two-bedroom units, rents ticked up 2.5% to $ 1,934 a month.

Prices might wind up rising in some of the nation’s priciest metros                                as companies order workers back to their offices. That could mean prices jump in places like Silicon Valley’s San Jose, CA, and San Francisco. The median rents in the cities were $ 3,005 and $ 2,809 a month respectively.

“People may move from suburban or cheaper metros to tech hubs because of return to office mandates,” says Xu. “It will boost rental demand once more and increase rental prices.”

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 27, 2023

Thinking About What You Can Do With Your Stuff?


January 23, 2023

Thinking About What You Can Do With Your Stuff?

By: Barbara Ballinger

Whether selling or staying put, most homeowners could benefit from a little decluttering.

Decluttering makes moving easier for everyone—and less costly, too. It is also helpful for those who want to live simpler in their current residence. In fact, having less clutter and being more intentional about what homeowners bring into their space is a positive for mental health and financial health.

Many saw the wisdom of doing so during the pandemic when they were stuck at home, looked around, and wondered: Why do I have all this stuff that I never use?

Now, in the dead of winter when many again are indoors for long stretches can be a good time to begin. Think of it as an adventure to pursue gradually rather than feel pressure to tackle all at once.

Truly effective—and lasting—decluttering represents a multistep process that varies according to each person’s situation. Those who’ve inherited a roomful of “brown” furniture from the 1950s and ‘60s, stacks of books, photo albums, crystal, and more may feel overwhelmed if they don’t want or can’t fit these furnishings in their home or apartment or find consignment shops interested in selling pieces, often because they have so much that’s similar from others hoping to unload possessions.

The following toolbox is offered up as a resource so that anyone can get started on their decluttering journey.

What Experts Advise

Marie Kondo became a world-touted expert on the benefits of decluttering with her first book, "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up." It extolled the virtues of owning fewer belongings to have more space to display things that spark joy. Kondo went on to write more books,  and developed two Netflix series: "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" and "Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo." She also opened an online store, KonMari, and started a certified-consultant training business.

If the Marie Kondo method doesn't quite spark joy, there are alternatives. The “Swedish Death Cleaning,” which involves getting rid of anything not needed to relieve others of the task to discard a loved one's possessions after they’ve died. Margareta Magnusson, author of "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives More Pleasant," says the practice offers an underlying message of caring for our heirs.

Decluttering, even if moving isn't on the immediate radar, is a great idea for many reasons. First, you never know when a move might be necessary. An intentional approach to decluttering well before moving ever becomes a questions takes a lot of stress out of the moving process. Doing so can save time in packing up later, slash moving costs and help reduce the amount of new living space someone might require. Even before it's time to move, there's the listing process to think about. Decluttered settings help present a better visual, which helps maximize sales, says Christopher Matos-Rogers, associate broker, Coldwell Banker Realty in Atlanta. 

While many find it tempting to put off the difficult decisions about what to keep and what to toss until after they move, consider the wisdom of being realistic about what can fit in their new home, says Barry Izsak, an Austin, Texas-based move/relocation expert and founder of PackingMovingUnpacking, an online service that helps those moving find movers in their area. “This is especially important for those moving long distances," he says. "Consider clothing in a new climate. They might be able to ditch most of their winter clothing and that snow blower, too,” he says.

Know When to Seek Professional Help

Homeowners who can’t handle the task on their own should consider hiring a certified member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) or the National Association of Specialty and Senior Move Managers (NASMM) or even someone with years of experience, says Izsak. As a former president of NAPO, Izsak says the national hourly rate professionals typically charged hovers between $50 and $100, depending in part on their locale.  Your Realtor may also be able to help you with this process, or suggest professionals who can help.

Rhea Becker—who offers organizing services for homes and offices in Boston—says many of her clients appreciate how professionals speed up the process by keeping them focused on maximizing profits and avoiding digressions over each object’s history. “With a professional, you have the best chance to cut the time and get some money on the table since they know what will sell,” she says.

Consider Grouping Items Into Categories

Whether or not you decide to bring in a professional, it helps to categorize each item in a given area into one of five groupings: keep, store, sell, donate or toss. Izsak says the litmus test he uses and shares with clients is to save an object only if it fits one of these three criteria: It’s useful, beautiful, or loved. Becker suggests homeowners snap photos of favorite items that are difficult to part with to give them a visual memory they can retain rather than keeping the item itself. Here’s specific help you can offer them for each pile:


Midcentury modern furniture and contemporary art both appeal widely to buyers of all ages, especially if they’re good quality and in decent condition. Create a list of estate sales specialists and consignment shops in your area that are known for fair dealing. However, be aware that many services that do the work of selling take a big cut, often half the sales price. If you are inclined to try to sell items yourself, try eBay for the best prices. However, if you’re not willing to go through the trouble of shipping sold items, post goods on hyperlocal online sites, such as neighborhood Facebook groups or Craigslist.


Remember the adage, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” If you have older children ask them to claim beloved items from their childhood. Becker says it’s important to set a time limit for those who are interested to pick up what they want. Take note of what charities will accept and when, and even which ones will pick up donations, saving your clients time and hassle. Some charities have gotten choosier about what they accept. For instance, many won’t take mattresses, box springs, pillow cases, or sheets. Real estate salesperson Christopher Flores with Keller Williams Larchmont in Los Angeles suggests a local halfway house that helps troubled young adults stabilize their lives as a great destination for used goods. “That way they provide furniture and clothing they don’t need to those who may have nothing,” he says. You may be able to secure a tax donation from the IRS if items are contributed to tax-exempt organizations.  Because of recent changes in the tax code, it’s best for clients to keep detailed notes of what they donate and to consult their tax adviser for the exact percentages they will be able to write off.



Sometimes it’s easier and will save time to contact companies such as JunkLugger to haul away unwanted items.  Homeowners can also consult HomeAdvisor’s list of trash-hauling service providers by ZIP code. Also, it’s important to be aware of laws governing trash. Some municipalities allow homeowners to leave stuff by the curb with a sign that reads, “please take me,” while others levy fines for such activity. A more organized version of this idea comes in the form of local Freecycle  chapters, part of a grassroots nonprofit where local people post stuff for free pickup in their own towns to help keep usable goods out of landfills.


Store Off-Site

It may be tempting to store certain household items off-site, and one in three Americans do, There are numerous reasons why. Aside from apartments getting smaller, people are unwilling to part with stuff permanently. The pandemic required a bit of a shuffle as well, requiring work-from-home space that didn't exist previously. Some families moved in with one another and needed a place for the extra stuff.


Picking self-storage requires homework. If you choose this option, consider units that are locked, insured, climate-controlled, and offer access whenever they want. Prices can vary widely. Self-storage isn’t a great long-term solution, as months can extend into years and beyond. “Often storage is a matter of postponing the inevitable. It’s better to get rid of whatever you don’t need,” Izsak says. “If you know you’re storing something for a granddaughter who will use it in a year that makes sense. Otherwise, get rid of it now!”

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Americans Woefully Misinformed About Nation's Housing Market

Daniel DeVise   The Hill  January 23, 2023

A new survey finds Americans are woefully misinformed about the nation’s mercurial housing market, even as millions of them prepare to buy homes.  

Twenty-eight million Americans plan to purchase a home in 2023, according to a survey released Tuesday by NerdWallet, the personal finance company. On average, they hope to spend $269,200. 

But that figure falls more than $100,000 short of the median home price, which was $388,100 in December, according to the real estate brokerage Redfin. Home prices crossed the $269,000 threshold sometime in 2013, Federal Reserve statistics show. 

If prospective homebuyers sound oddly optimistic about prices, that may be because they are pessimistic about the state of the housing market. Two-thirds of Americans surveyed said they expect an imminent crash. 

Real estate economists do not. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, forecast an average sale price of $385,800 this year, about the same as last year. Redfin predicts a 4 percent drop: bad news for sellers, but hardly a crash.   

“Home prices already have been falling, especially on the West Coast, and prices will fall in some cities in 2023,” said Holden Lewis, a home and mortgages expert for NerdWallet. “But a drop in home prices isn’t necessarily a crash.”  

Another head-scratcher: 61 percent of Americans told pollsters current mortgage rates are unprecedented, meaning that they have never been seen before.  

“We actually defined it,” said Elizabeth Renter, data analyst for NerdWallet. 

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage hit 6.15 percent last week, according to the Fed. That’s higher than most mortgage rates of the past few years, which have ranged below 3 percent at times.  

But it is not unprecedented. Over the last 50 years, NerdWallet reports, 30-year mortgage rates have averaged 7.75 percent. Mortgage rates in the 6 to 7 percent range were common as recently as 2008.  

Homebuyers have basked in a climate of historically low rates for more than a decade. The Fed cut rates dramatically in the Great Recession of 2008 to stimulate the economy, a campaign that continued, on and off, through the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Runaway inflation prompted a dramatic series of hikes in 2022, which pushed mortgage rates back to “normal” levels, at least in a historical sense. 

The new survey of 2,051 American adults, conducted by the Harris Poll for NerdWallet, is the latest iteration of an annual poll. Pollsters have found overconfident home shoppers for several consecutive years.  

“We know from the past five years, roughly 10 percent of Americans say they’re going to purchase a home in the next 12 months, which is wildly optimistic,” Renter said. “Part of it could be that they’re unaware of what’s going on in the housing market.

The survey found more realism when asking respondents how their homebuying plans had panned out in 2022.   

Seventy percent of Americans who had planned to buy a home in 2022 did not succeed. Some of them made offers that were not accepted. Others shelved their plans because they couldn’t find affordable homes.  

Labels: , , ,