4 Things You Should Be Doing With Your Home Equity

You may be sitting on a goldmine. Or a small fortune. Or at least a little chunk of cash. Rising home prices across the country means homeowners have some equity. So what can you do with it? More importantly, what should you do with it? If you’ve got money in your house, you’ve got some options.

“Done wisely, you can use the lower-interest debt secured by your house to pay off debts with high interest rates, like credit cards,” said houselogic. “It’s also a good choice if you know exactly how much you need to borrow for a big expenditure like a new kitchen.”

Historically low interest rates have ignited “a surge in demand for home equity loans this year,” said HOUSINGWIRE. James Chessen, chief economist for the American Bankers Association, told them: “The market for home equity loans and lines will likely continue to grow as a larger pool of qualified borrowers looks to take advantage of low rates to make property improvements or pay off higher-interest debt.”

1. Make smart updates to your home

Home improvement is “the No. 1 use” of home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), Kelly Kockos, senior vice president of home equity for Wells Fargo in San Francisco, told Bankrate.

Smart property improvements that raise the value of the home make sense for those who have a cushion. But, it’s important to keep in mind the increase in payments. Even if a kitchen remodel or an overhaul of the front-yard landscaping ends up raising the value of your home, you won’t recoup that money until you sell.

Make sure you’re not “increasing overhead to the point that it’s not affordable or comfortable for you,” Justin Lopatin, vice president of mortgage lending for PERL Mortgage in Chicago, told Bankrate.

You’ll also want to focus on smart renovations that provide return on investment. An attic remodel may not pay off like updates to your bathrooms. A new front door gives your home a fresh look and helps with that all-important curb appeal, and is the one item that pays back the investment at a minimum of 100 percent year after year.

2. Put your kids through college

“A HELOC or home equity loan can be an attractive way to finance a child’s education because the interest rate might be lower and the maximum loan amount higher than some other types of education financing,” Andy Tilp, president of Trillium Valley Financial Planning in Sherwood, Oregon, told Bankrate.

Interest rates on home equity loans and lines of credit are “roughly comparable” to rates federal Stafford loans, according to HSH.com, “but far less than the 7.21 percent interest rate currently charged for federal PLUS loans made to parents.”

HSH.com notes that as the economy has improved, the number of people using their home equity to pay for college has dropped. But “with the total annual cost of college hitting roughly $23,000 for the average four-year public school and about $46,000 for private schools, according to The College Board,” they said, it remains a reality some are going to have to face. Just be sure to check with a financial professional to make sure this new loan won’t put you in a financially risky position.

“I’ve seen parents struggle because they have to delay retirement, sometimes for many years, because of this huge debt. And if they lose their home, and with a bit of an ironic twist, they may be moving in with their new college grad,” Tilp told Bankrate.

3. Pay off those high-rate credit cards

Did you know that the average interest rate on credit cards is more than 15 percent?! If you have a $10,000 debt on a credit card at that interest rate and make the minimum payment, you’ll be paying it off for nearly 30 years, and it’ll cost you almost $12,000 in interest.

A HELOC with an interest rate around five percent that you use to get your card(s) paid off makes a lot of sense.

The Guardian
“HELOCs are often touted as a great vehicle for consolidating high-interest debt,” said nerdwallet. “Because HELOCs are secured by your home, their interest rates are significantly lower than credit cards. Additionally, rates on home loan products (including HELOCs) have been at historic lows since the Great Recession. This means that if you roll several cards onto one HELOC, you could save serious money on interest payments.”

The tax-deductible interest is also a huge advantage. “This could add up to savings when tax time rolls around.”

4. Leave it alone

If there’s one thing we learned from the downturn, it’s that reckless financial decisions related to your house can have dire consequences.

“The fact that you’re staking your home against your ability to pay off the debt is just the beginning of the potential drawbacks,” said HOUSELOGIC. “A home equity loan is a lien on your house that usually takes second place to the primary mortgage. As such, home equity lenders can be left with nothing if a house sells for less than what’s owed on the first mortgage. To recoup losses, second-mortgage lenders will sometimes refuse to sign off on short sales unless they’re paid all or part of what they’re owed.

Moreover, even though the lender loses its secured interest in the house should it go to foreclosure, in some states, it can send debt collectors after you for the balance, and report the loss to credit agencies. This black mark on your credit score can hurt your ability to borrow for years to come.”

Leaving your equity and letting it continue to grow while the home appreciates and/or you pay down the balance is the safest choice. But is it the one that works for you?

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Realty Times Article

7 Smart Renovations Under $500

If you’re thinking about selling your home, you may be stressed out about all the things you need to do to get it market ready, and all the costs associated with those updates. Renovations don’t have to cost you a fortune. By thinking smart about some of the updates that will have the greatest impact, you can minimize your spend and maximize your investment.

1. Give your kitchen some attention

If there’s one spot that can make or break your home sale, it’s this. You could spend thousands on new countertops and cabinets – and your agent may advise you to do some of these larger updates depending on the age and condition of your current kitchen and the competitiveness of your local market. But, for many of us, attention to a few key areas can help detract from the negatives and highlight the positives.

“Naturally, there are limits to what you can do on a budget. But many home-remodeling experts stress that moderately handy homeowners with just a little cash to spend can make a big difference in their kitchen,” said Bankrate. “And if the work looks good, you’re adding equity to your home,” Erin Davis, lead designer for Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, Oregon, told them.

For under $500, you can paint your kitchen cabinets – use white for a classic yet updated look – and add hardware. You’ll be surprised how much impact these two changes can have in an outdated space. Finish it off with a fancy new faucet that can be swapped out for under $100, like this brushed chrome single handle pullout.


Light in the Box

2. Get a new appliance

It’s not likely that you’ll find a new appliance package for under $500, but you may be able to find a great deal on a new fridge or dishwasher if yours is a bit ratty by looking at scratch and dent items. Sometimes, the scratch is in a place that will be obscured by a wall, meaning you can save tons of money and not ever see the issue. If you can only afford one, think about the fact that you can take the refrigerator with you to your new place.

3. Bring in the light

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your home for sale is to fill it with natural light. That means opening drapes and pulling blinds for showings—and making sure your windows are clean behind them! If your home doesn’t offer a lot of natural light, careful placement of mirrors can help bounce whatever light there is around. Painting lighter colors can also keep the space airy, and is recommended by stagers as well.

Bringing in new light fixtures to replace anything that is outdated or builder grade can help give the home a modern feel for little financial output. Hanging two of these pendants over an island or peninsula captures one of the hottest trends in lighting today and will only set you back $104.


Lighting Direct

4. Refresh the bedrooms

Making sure the bedrooms have just the right amount of furniture – not too much, not too little – is key. Remove unnecessary pieces to emphasize the space and add key pieces like nightstands in a master (if you don’t currently have them) to highlight function. You can pick up a pair at IKEA for under $30. Style them with a lamp and a book or stylish accessory and no one will know they cost less than dinner. Don’t forget to add a new comforter for another modern touch. This three-piece set is just $49 from Wayfair.



5. Create some architectural interest

Crown molding can make a room look elegant and is also one of the features that can woo a picky buyer. Having a pro come in to install it can get expensive, but if you can use a saw and are somewhat adept at math, you can do it yourself. Materials should cost you abot $1.20 a foot at Home Depot. You can get some DIY tips here.

Creating interest in a space that needs it doesn’t have to involve power tools. Peel-and-stick wallpaper is one of our favorite tools for dressing up a wall without the hassle of working with paste and now it comes in textured looks we love, llike this reclaimed wood version.



6. Create some curb appeal

Some of the most important things to do in the front of your house won’t cost you a thing outside of elbow grease: mow, rake, and clean up. Next, lay down a new layer of mulch, which will cost you a couple bucks per bag, and plant some fresh flowers or bring some flowerpots close to the door.

If your front door has seen better days, a fresh coat of paint will keep buyers from wondering what else needs work on the inside.

7. Throw some accessories at it

You may not have money to make large changes to your home, but you can make it look freshened up with a little smart staging. Make sure furniture arrangements in living spaces make sense—it costs you nothing to move stuff around or store an extra-large chair that’s impeding the flow of traffic in the garage while the home is for sale.

Some fresh flowers, a few throw pillows, an inexpensive new rug to anchor the seating area, and maybe a few modern knickknacks scattered around can make the space feel inviting.

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Realty Times Article

Home Sellers: Create a ‘Millennail Magnet’

Sellers whose homes are ideal first-time-buyer starter homes may count on attracting millennial buyers to purchase this real estate. If so, sellers benefit from learning how to look at their homes from the millennial point of view since this group does not represent the force that it has in the past.

With more than 83 million millennials — a larger group than boomers — needing a roof over their head, millennial home buyers should represent very significant proportions of the real estate purchasers in many markets — but they don’t.

According to the National Association of Realtors 2015 2015 annual home buyers and sellers survey, the percentage of buyers who were first-timers was down to an almost historic low of 32%. Only one-third of these first-timers are millennials, where traditionally this group represented the majority of buyers. The thirty-something millennial segment that is buying has the income, borrowing clout, dual income status, and parental-boosted down payment to afford home ownership, where their millennial colleagues are renting or living with their parents.

“Millennial” is a popular label (replacing Generation Y and Echo Boomers) that business gurus and authors apply to those born in years ranging from the early 1980s to the first years of the 21st Century — that’s the Millennium connection. The millennial label has no absolute definition. The defining range of years is usually chosen to prove the user’s point. Popular start years are 1980 or 1982 while wrap years run from 1992 to 2004.

As more millennials reach traditional home buying age, buyer ranks will swell since the age 23 cohort is currently the largest in the overall population. Until then, sellers intent on attracting millennial singles and couples — and other first time buyers — will benefit from understanding how to transform their home into a “millennial magnet.”


Five Seller Perspectives Create a “Millennial Magnet”

1. New Functionality & Cool Design Matter

To millennials, many rooms have new functions and, therefore, should look very new and different from the decor many sellers preserve from their move-in decades ago. TV rooms are now media rooms; bedrooms are now sanctuaries; bathrooms are spas; recreation rooms are man caves; garages are studios; closets are to die for. Keep in mind that rooms themselves are on the out. Open concept is the preferred “dream home” configuration. Sellers must disregard how they have used and enjoyed specific rooms to concentrate on transforming old rooms look to like the right new space. Hot real estate markets have millennials feeling that they are settling for less than they want. Give them something to be excited about when they prepare a an offer to buy your property.

2. Fun-Filled Low Maintenance Yards Are Mandatory

“High maintenance” is out everywhere in, on, and around a house and especially in the garden. Temperamental roses, shrubs that demand pruning, bulbs that must be dug up each fall, plants that must be watered, lawns that need mowing, and anything that adds to millennials’ “To Do” lists does not add value according to their appraisal of the property. Environmentally-friendly, low maintenance landscaping along with anything fun, like hammocks, earn “wow’s” and add value for buyers. Fire pits, outdoor kitchens, and party zones display more value that high-maintenance fish ponds and fountains. Real estate professionals know when swimming pools are a plus or are considered a work zone by buyers.

3. Storage Plus

Millennials are moving from their family home or a rental condominium, neither providing enough storage. Adding storage is equivalent to adding space — you can never add too much storage.

4. Walkability Is Key

What’s in the neighborhood can hold more value than what’s in the house. Proximity to cool places and hot spotsrepresents big value to buyers. Millennials think of their dream home as the center of a universe of fun and convenience. Sellers need to switch from evaluating the area from their own point of view and consider it the way thirty-somethings do.

5. Bearable Trade-Offs

Urban lifestyles in major cities like New York are irresistible to most millennials until they start a family. Then, the less expensive, traditionally-safe suburbs look attractive. Sellers in the burbs should check with their real estate professional to learn which benefits local millennial buyers value most — proximity to train a station, a large entertaining-friendly yard, a detached home, great schools…to understand how the seller’s home will rate against local attraction factors. According to a recent study of counties by California-based CoreLogic, a global property information, analytics, and services provider, millennials favor the more affordable properties found in counties in the middle of the country over higher-priced east and west coast real estate. The top 10 counties are in central states like Utah, Colorado, and Minnesota; the bottom 10 counties are in coastal states including Florida, California, and Massachusetts. The study revealed that “millennials are buying in markets they can afford, and specifically, where there are good paying jobs.”

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Realty Times Article

Trend Alert: How to add Shiplap to your Home

Shiplap is having a moment thanks to HGTV’s Fixer Upper. But you don’t have to live in Waco, TX or other parts of the south where shiplap was used in the construction of many older homes to add his bit of character to your home. If you want to jump on the shiplap train, here’s how to get it and what to do with It.

“Characterized by long horizontal (or vertical) panels formed by overlapping ‘rabbets’ (grooved boards), weathertight shiplap has long been popular in areas with harsh climates,” said Remodelista. “Because of this functionality, and due to the fact that it was often made from relatively inexpensive pine, shiplap has traditionally been associated with less formal structures, such as woodland cabins and coastal cottages.”

But, as architect Sheila Bonnell of FRAMe Architecture + Design showed on Remodelista, shiplap has more versatility than you think and can work in nearly any space and any style of home.

Look how well it pairs with marble counters and open shelving in this kitchen.



Here it sets a unique foundation for eclectic furnishings.



But those who want the look without the expense of real boards also have options. Emily, a DIYer from website Table and Hearth, “researched all kinds of materials that you can use to achieve a plank wall; real wood planks themselves, reclaimed wood, or ripped-down panels of hardboards or plywood. I wanted the classic wood look, in wide planks, but couldn’t afford ones that were already cut. Plus, I REALLY didn’t want to have to remove and reinstall our baseboards so I needed something that was 1/4″ thick or less.”

Here’s how plywood shiplap looks in another room using 6″ boards.


Hooked on Houses

You can also get a great look using shiplap without covering an entire wall. This shiplap treatment clads a fireplace using untreated cedar fence boards that have been cut and washed prior to installation and then stained in walnut.

Paper Daisy Design

Take the focus up to the ceiling. Whether you’re using authentic shiplap, new or reclaimed boards, or plywood, a planked ceiling treatment creates interest in an unexpected place. “Rough-hewn pine boards overhead draw the eye up to the vaulted ceiling in this bedroom designed by Chip and Joanna Gaines,” said HGTV.



Why should the inside of your home have all the fun? The shiplap look can bring interest and distinction to your exterior as well.

Go au natural,



use a rich stain,


Photo by AdvantageLumber.comSearch contemporary exterior pictures

or combine it with other materials for a truly unique look.

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Article by Realty Times



Earth Day 2016 – 10 Easy Ways To Go Green With Little Effort


Earth Day always makes us recommit to eco-friendliness, but I don’t think we’re alone in saying that many of our grand efforts can be short-lived. Thankfully, even if you’re not ready to start compositing or devising an elaborate rainwater catching system, you can still have an impact. Another benefit to being nice to the Earth – green measures are also money savers! Ready, set, go green!

1. Change your light bulbs

What could be easier than swapping out a few bulbs? Choose compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) to see the biggest change.

“They consume about 75 percent less electricity and last up to 10 times longer,” said Better Homes and Gardens. “Replace one 75-watt incandescent bulb with a 25-watt CFL and save up to $83 over the life of the bulb.”

2. Recycle

You don’t need to lay out some complicated assembly line to dispose of every piece of trash. Start small by setting aside your plastic bottles and glass containers. If you have a recycling bin, use it. And if you live in an area where you can get money back for your recyclables, by all means, take advantage of it.

Recycling glass alone can reduce “related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent,” said 50 Ways to Help the Planet. “If it isn’t recycled it can take a million years to decompose.”

3. Ditch the bottled water

Remarkably, close to 90 percent of plastic water bottles are not recycled. A pitcher with a filter can make a huge difference—you can conserve up to five gallons a day with this one little change.

Shorten your showers

Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. If you live in California or another area being impacted by the drought, this is probably already on your mind. For everyone else, shortening a couple showers a week is a start.

5. Turn off computers at night

“By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day,” said 50 Ways to Help the Planet. “That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year.”

6. Turn off everything with an LED

Why stop at the computer? “Anything that has an LED (light emitting diode) that glows even after you turn it off continues to draw energy,” said Better Homes and Gardens. Your TV, cell phone charger, and printer are likely culprits. Unplug the offenders from wall sockets and plug them into power strips instead. When you leave a room, flip the strip switch to cut the flow of electricity. Unplug appliances and electronics that glow and you could save $200 a year.”

7. Don’t forget about video games

Getting the kids into the habit of flipping the games off when they’re done is another easy way to save energy and money.

“You’ll win back about $100 per year,” said Good Housekeeping.

8. Slash your junk mail

50 Ways to Help the Planet estimates that the average American gets 40 pounds of junk mail per year. That equates to 100 million trees! Take an afternoon and go on an unsubscribing spree. You’ll save some trees, some space in your mailbox, and your sanity!

9. Stop paying your bills

It’s estimated that almost 20 million trees could be saved every year if Americans paid their bills online and opted to receive e-statements. We would also eliminate more than two billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste, said 50 Ways to Help the Planet.

Buy some new appliances

Here’s one more reason to go get that French door refrigerator you’ve had your eye on: it could help save the Earth and save you money.

“When it’s time to replace a household appliance, choose a product with an Energy Star label,” said Better Homes and Gardens. “A household with Energy Star products uses about 30 percent less energy than the average household—an annual savings of about $570. You may even be eligible for a tax credit when you purchase an Energy Star product.”

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Article by Realty Times



Spring Must-Haves for Your Home!

A home that’s ready for spring needs a bit more than just a good scrubbing. The season is also  great time to take a look around and think about areas that can be freshened up. Here are the must-haves that will help give your home new life.

A power washer

You didn’t think we were going to get out of here without one spring-cleaning tip, did you? While it’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about spring décor, a power washer can do wonders for the look of your home.

“Winter can leave a lot of your home covered in gunk. Dirt, debris, mold, moss and who-knows-what-else always seems to adhere itself to your deck, your driveway, the outside of your gutters and even the siding of your house,” said Dwell Beautiful. “Rent a power washer on a nice day and go town on any place that could use a good wash down. The results will be stunning and an instant facelift!”

A great rug

You may be focused on paint color or furniture pieces, but don’t fo
rget to look down. “A rug is a great layering essential that sets the foundation for a room,” said elysian. “Rugs can also be used to make a statement with a pop of pattern or a bold color.”


Niche appliances

Today’s kitchen has to do double, triple, and sometimes quadruple duty for busy families. One of the ways it can become more efficient is with niche appliances that allow the chef of the house to be more creative or specialized during meal prep.

“Steam ovens promise to cook food more thoroughly and healthily than microwaves; warming drawers give cooks a little wiggle room to deliver hot meals to family and guests; induction cooktops save space and are safer for homes with young kids; and kimchi refrigerators offer fans of the popular Korean condiment a chance to make their own at home,”said Houzz.


Something floral

Floral patterns and spring are an easy combination, but choosing a bold pattern with bright colors creates a look that continues to wow all year long.


Something geometric

It’s the trend that shows no sign of slowing. Try it on the walls, on the backsplash, on your couch pillows, or on the floor, where a bold rug can provide a new point of interest or help you build a new color story.

Geometric shapes are also impactful when applied to surfaces other than textiles.


Something striped

It’s one of the spring fashion must-haves, which means you’ll want to get a head start on this interior design trend. Used judiciously, stripes can offer a chic backdrop in your space.

Striped-Walls-Painted-Tile-Design-Ideas.jpg-550x0 (1)

Light wood

Lighter wood tones have begun dominating flooring, and they’re making their way through other parts of the home as well. Interior designer Jane Lockhart told Forbes that she “foresees kitchens sporting lighter wood tones, including walnuts, whitewashed woods and white oak in rift grain.”

A home that’s ready for spring needs a bit more than just a good scrubbing. The season is also a great time to take a look around and think about areas that can be freshened up. Here are the must-haves that will help give your home new life.


Explore the idea without ripping out your whole kitchen by bringing in a key piece of furniture, like this dining table.

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Article by Realty Times


House Flipping: A Guide to Success!


Flipping a house means buying a home with the intention of fixing it up and selling it within six months for a profit. Americans flipped 26,947 single-family homes in Q3 2014, accounting for 4 percent of all home sales in that period, according to real estate data firm Realtytrac. The average gross return for investors was $75,990 per home, up 2 percent from Q2.

Flipping houses can be profitable, particularly when home values are rising and interest rates remain at historically low levels. The Federal Housing Administration stopped enforcing anti-flipping regulations—which prohibited insuring any home for less than 90 days—in 2010. If you’re looking to get into the home flipping business, follow these four guidelines for the best chance of success.

Build a Bankroll

Everything in life requires money, and house flipping is no exception. You could take out loans to buy properties, but then you are just creating debt in the hopes of making money. A smart house flipper who wants to profit immediately will often use his or her own money.

The best way to build a bankroll is by saving over time. Consider selling your own home if the proceeds will pay off the mortgage and leave you with enough to get started. Those currently receiving regular payments from a structured settlement or annuity can consider selling their future payments to a company like J.G. Wentworth for a lump sum of cash now. Make sacrifices like selling off an extra vehicle, disconnecting cable television and giving up the $5 lattes in the morning to pad your bankroll further.

Buy at Discount

You’ll make the most money if you buy a house for less than its actual value at the time of purchase. The best way to do this is by seeking out motivated sellers. These are people who need to sell quickly to relocate for a job or simply need to make fast money.

Use your social media networks to generate referrals. Inform friends and followers that you are looking to buy properties. Knocking on doors in prime neighborhoods can also generate leads—target homes with “for sale” signs and distressed properties that appear neglected.

Location, Location

The total value of all homes in the U.S. was $27.5 trillion at the end of 2014, according to data compiled by Zillow. That represents a 6.7 percent increase from 2013 and the third consecutive year of positive gains. But certain markets are doing even better.

Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Orlando and Las Vegas experienced the largest gains for 2014, with each up at least 11.5 percent on the year. These markets offer the largest margin for error for those flipping homes, particularly with a major housing market correction being predicted by several economists for 2015. This is mostly due to the Federal Reserve ceasing its quantitative easing program and no longer artificially inflating the markets.

A good rule of thumb when buying in areas that experienced low or negative year-over-year home value change (i.e., Indianapolis and Phoenix) is to only purchase homes at 10 percent or more below current market value.

DIY Where Possible

You’ll likely need to hire plumbers, electricians and other contractors to tackle major home improvements. But the more you do yourself, the higher your profits will be. You and a few friends can install new sinks and countertops and even shingle a roof. Youtube has hundreds of instructional videos that cover everything from replacing water heaters to installing shower faucets. Creative landscaping can increase the value of a property by 13 percent, according to a study by Virginia Tech University. The DIY Network has several ideas for easy landscaping projects that anybody with a little ambition can complete.

House flipping is a cyclical endeavor that is only profitable when economic conditions are positive. Now is a great time to get started.

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302

Article by Realty Times




Top Interior Design Trends for 2016

Getting the itch to redo your house? Truth: We have it all year round. But, there’s something about the ushering in of a new year and the literal renewal it brings that makes the idea of a fresh look even more inviting.

Check out a few of the interior design trends for 2016 for some more inspiration and a little direction.

French Country 

For some, this French country design motif never went out of style. But the influence of shows like HGTV’s popular “Fixer Upper” have brought it to the forefront. Waxed and weathered paint on furniture, shiplap treatments, and accessories bearing the show’s signature style are everywhere, and being assumed into all types of interiors to create a rich, eclectic look.

Pastel Colors

If you’ve heard about Pantone’s dual Colors of the Year for 2016—the baby pink Rose Quartz and the baby blue Serenity—you know that pastels are hot for the coming year. It’s going to be showing up everywhere from wall color to upholstery to accessories, so pick your pastel poison and go for it!

The “Glamily” Room

Who says your family gathering space has to be sedate? It’s time to up the ante.

“What’s an immaculate aesthete to do with a dog around — or a Doritos-loving tween? Let her living room go? Hardly! Turn to hardworking-yet-fabulous fabrics paired with sexy silhouettes,” said House Beautiful.

Metal Mania

Metals have been hot for several years, with everything from silver to gold to pewter to copper to rose gold having its moment. The trend for 2016 is a metal mix and match.

“Platinum, gold, copper, steel — as long as they’ve got metallic sheen, they go together in our book,” said House Beautiful. “It’s bling like you’ve never seen before.”

Pretty Pendants

Lighting trends continue to move away from chandeliers, embracing pendants in all shapes, sizes, materials, and price points.

“Pendant lighting is the one design element that gives permission to invite drama, glam, and interest,” said A Light Reflection.

For 2016, expect to see an even wider range of options using glass, metals, and painted finishes.

Organic Shapes and Textures

“From dinnerware to furniture, undefined shapes and natural textures are making an appearance everywhere right into the year 2016,” said The Ace of Space.

Expect to see dining and coffee tables embracing the natural shape of the wood, with live edge tables and organic-shaped chairs being a top trend in luxury interiors and tile that better represents natural shapes gaining ground on the straight lines of subway tiles.

Artisan Goods

“From tassels and basketry to macrame and crochet, weaving is in,” said interior designer Macala Wright. “To embrace this trend, lifestyle expert Justina Blakeney advises consumers to be inspired by local finds. LG Studio artistic advisor Nate Berkus encourages shoppers to buy locally made and globally crafted goods. Berkus also states that consumers should not be afraid to mix vintage and artisanal items with mass produced goods. Pair a Mongolian lambskin pouf and Moroccan rug next to a Target coffee table, for example.”

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Buying a Historic Home

De Tonti Square Historic District

You’ve fallen in love with an old Victorian house and want to bring her back to her glory days. With dreams of starting the next row of “painted ladies,” you close the deal.

You may already have some ideas of things you want to do to your new home, but before you make any changes to the structure itself, do a little research and make sure you have the answers to these three questions:

1. Is your home designated as historic – part of a state or federal historical building or neighborhood registry? If so, you may have to adhere to a number of regulations and be subject to some historical preservation oversight in order to update the home.

2. How extensive do you want the updates to be? Do you plan to “take it back to the studs,” or simply do some cosmetic work like refinishing floors?

3. How authentic do you want the renovations to be? The more accurate the details, such as spindle bannisters and egg and dart moldings, the higher the cost in materials and labor.

Your home and its state of repair may dictate which course of action you choose. For example if your home has serious structural damage or decay, then preservation may not be possible. However, you’ll still be able to reconstruct and renovate.

Not sure if you should preserve, restore or renovate? Here are a few definitions that may help you form a plan:

Preservation means restoring and using the building for its original purpose, with as much of the original features and décor saved as possible.

Restoration means tearing out improvements made over time that don’t reflect the original age and style of the home, and then repairing those areas to closely match the original size, shape, color, etc.

Reconstruction means making major changes to the floor plan such as adding new rooms and dramatically altering and repurposing parts of the home.

Renovation or remodeling freshens the look of the home using modern materials such as updating an older kitchen with custom cabinetry, farm sinks and granite countertops.

Before you begin, find out if there are any local or state subsidies for historic preservation for homes in your area. You could get tax breaks and special home improvement loans or other assistance. Contact your local tax assessor-collector for more information, or your local housing authority.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has some excellent resources for homeowners of older or historic homes. Also, check out historicproperties.com and thisoldhouse.com for more information.

Untitled-2Interested in restoring a beautiful historic property right here in our hometown of Mobile, AL? Check out 3703 Old Shell Road, an 1862 historic home located in the heart of Springhill. This creole cottage known as “Chinaberry” is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Call Michelle Rogers for a personal showing, 367-2107 or 344-5925.


How to Sell your House During the Holiday Season

Generally speaking, most people will recommend that you wait until the summer or spring until you try to sell your home. This time of the year is usually considered the peak selling season in the real estate world. However, you may not be able to wait that long. In fact, you may need to sell your home during the holiday season.

The holiday season is not looked upon favorably by real estate agents because it signifies a down time for real estate business. Home buyers aren’t out house hunting during the holidays because, first of all, they are too busy enjoying the holidays. Secondly, those few buyers that can get away from their extended families for an afternoon or two aren’t going to want to trek through the cold weather in order to view your property. Unfortunately, things happen and sometimes owners are forced to sell as soon as possible, whether it’s the holiday season or not. If you need to sell your home during the holidays, then be sure to use the following six tips to give yourself the best chance at selling your home quickly:


1. Work with a real estate agent

If you’re trying to sell your home quickly, which you probably are if you’re selling during the holiday season, then you’re not going to want to try to do it on your own — especially if you have no real estate experience in the past. A real estate agent will do all of the leg work for you by marketing your home to attract active buyers as well as to provide valuable advice concerning all aspects of selling your home. An agent will also have the networking capabilities in order to find buyers that are on a similar deadline as you and need to find a home to purchase as quickly as possible.

2. Be smart about pricing your home

Most buyers that are active during the holidays will have no problem waiting if they think that your property is priced too high. They will assume that either they’ll find a different house that’s priced lower when spring comes around or that you’ll eventually lower your price. Be realistic about what the market expectations are and price your home fairly based on the demand of your neighborhood and the real estate comps your real estate agent will provide you with.


3. Make your home on the market stand out

You’ll need to put a little extra effort into your home on the market in order to get potential buyers out of their current homes to brave the winter weather and come see your property. Make sure you provide detailed information about all of your home’s features — provide these details in bullet points to make them easy to read. A good listing will need lots of photographs of every room inside your house as well as of the exterior. Consider having a professional photographer come to take high quality photos — a professional will light each room in a way that makes them look as appealing as possible. If you are able to, provide photographs of your home’s exterior during the spring or summer season as well so that buyers can see what the property looks like throughout the year and not just during the winter.


4. Provide incentives for buying your home

One way to get buyers through your door is by offering incentives that they won’t be able to turn down. For example, you could install brand new appliances in your kitchen or even cover all the closing costs. These kinds of additional home improvements and concessions will spark the interest of buyers and can be exactly the kind of push a buyer needs in order to sway from mildly curious to extremely tempted.


5. Don’t ignore your curb appeal

Just because foliage is dormant during the winter months, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to worry about your home’s curb appeal. If your home looks neglected or abandoned, buyers won’t bother going in. Consider a few holiday decorations to help create a more inviting atmosphere that will beckon buyers to come inside. For example, hang a wreath from your front door or string some lights up on your front porch. Just avoid going overboard and make sure that you don’t put up any religious decorations – you don’t want to put off or offend potential buyers that may not share the same religious beliefs as you.


6. Create a warm and inviting environment

The winter can be really miserable for buyers that are focused on finding a new home as quickly as they can. You’ll want them to feel cozy and warm as soon as they walk into your home from the bitter winter weather that they’ve just trudged through outside. If you have a fireplace, light a fire. Light a few candles here and there to add a warm glow to your interior design. You may even want to bake some cookies or make some warm beverages (such as hot cocoa or coffee) to offer to buyers as they walk in. Not only will snacks and drinks make buyers feel more at home, but the scent of cookies and cocoa can help make your home feel more cozy as well.

The holiday season is not typically considered a good time of the year to try and sell a house. However, you may not have a choice. If you need to sell your home quickly during the holidays, then be sure to use these six tips, from pricing your home properly to creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for visiting buyers.

Find us at www.BHHSCooperRealtors.com or download our FREE Mobile App! Text BHHSAL302 to 87778 or go to: www.app.bhhsre.com/BHHSAL302