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13 Hot Home Trends for 2013

1.)  Smarter, less costly automated controls

With lives continuing to be busy and automation costs coming down, it's become more affordable to control a home's systems- temperature, security, electronics, lighting, etc.- through a single device such as iPhone or iPad.  This can eliminate multiple controls and make it easy for home owners to manage things around their home, even when they aren't there.  The average family has more than 80 different devices that can be controlled with one system. 

2.)  Outdoor living rooms and screened porches

A trend that began a few years ago continues to inspire home owners to think beyond terraces and decks.  These spaces have more of the feeling and function of an indoor room- better furnishings, fire pits, curtains, TVs and audio systems.  Some spaces are designed as courtyards for greater privacy, yet with high-efficiency glass windows and doors to make them energy-smart and seamless with indoor rooms.

3.)  Outdoor kitchens

Interest continues in outdoor food preparation of all kinds- as simple as a grill and as elaborate as a built-in cook's station with sink, storage, beer tap, pizza oven, refrigerator, and countertops.  Newer amenities include a hybrid grill that permits cooking with both gas and wood or charcoal and prefabricated kitchens that save money. 

4.)  Themed designs

After years of stark contemporary design, themed decorating is making a comeback.  There are more home owners seeking European flair- think antique sconces and velvet pillows.  British-style motifs continue to proliferate, including Union Jack flags, hounds tooth, floral, and crown patterns. 

5.)  Media frenzy

With more families remaining home for "staycations" rather than traveling, rooms are being devoted to TV and other multimedia entertainment with more comfortable seating, tables, and good lighting.  They're designed to have a more "home-y" feel than media rooms of the past.

6.)  New neutrals and color pops

Neutrals are still more popular than vibrant hues, but neutrals now aren't the same whites, creams, and beiges that we were once used to seeing.  A blue-gray that works well with the range of popular bllues and the purples they've replaced are making inroads and offering a fresh background.  In contrast, bright new accents such as raspberry-pink may attract greater attention than a straightforward red.  There's also a range of yellows, which complement blue-grays. 

7.)  More double-duty furniture

With homes continuing to be scaled back and many baby boomers moving into condos, more furniture and furnishings nee to do double duty in smaller spaces.  Expect to see ottomans used for seating and storage, couches that convert to beds, and coffee tables that can rise for dining. 

8.)  Lighter looks

Smaller homes and spaces call for scaled-back pieces and better illumination that makes rooms look larger.  To achieve this, swap out large bookshelves for wall-mounted shelves, opt for tailored furniture over clunky items, and welcome natural light.

9.)  Green merchandise

Interest in sustainable products and materials keeps attracting attention- particularly when it comes to choosing paints, adhesives, countertops, and flooring.  Most furniture companies and paint manufacturers have at least one item or line that fits the green movement.  Large paint companies such as Benjamin Moore, Kelly Moore, Sherwin Williams and Glidden, offer zero-VOC or odor-free paints. 

10.)  Energy and water efficiency

Efforts to conserve energy and water throughout the home continue to be popular, including low-water toilets and sinks, better functioning furnaces, and improved insulation.  Solar panels are more integrated into roofs so they're less or an eyesore.  Gray recycled water can be used in toilets and to water gardens.

11.)  Panelized homes

More factory-built homes help to cut building costs at the site by reducing the amount of labor time needed in the field.  Besides cost savings, there's the ability to improve quality control.  It can cut the cost in half and construction time from a year to eight weeks.

12.)  Handcrafted elements

Many home owners desire hand-crafted artisanal pieces for a great personalized look.  Some are made from reclaimed rustic wood, which addes an inviting feeling.

13.)  Stylish kitchens and bathrooms

These remain at the top of many home owners' wish lists, as they reflect the trend of remodeling rather than adding on.  The transitional look, a middle ground between traditional and contemporary, has become more popular.  This is evidenced by choices such as cove rather than crown molding, dark-stained or painted finishes rather than nautral maple or cherry, and larger format 24"x24" tiles rather than smaller ones. 

Government Shutdown Impact on Housing Market

After the federal government shutdown on Tuesday, some people are wondering how it will effect the U.S. housing market. According to real estate professionals, the extent to which it will effect home buyers will depend on how long the shutdown lasts. As long as this doesn't drag on for weeks, the impact should be minimal. However, borrowers who are in the process of obtaining home loans could see some delays. This is because lenders are not able to verify Social Security numbers or access Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts.

Without the income tax transcripts, loans are not able to close, which is a recent requirement that was put in place to help fight fraud after the mortgage crisis.

It is believed that if we go two weeks or longer, the shutdown will have an impact.

The Federal Housing Administration insures home loans for first time home buyers and for low or middle income buyers. HUD said that the agency will continue to endorse new home loans even with a reduced staff. Loan officers will be able to get a case number, which is the first step of the process, but they won't have enough employees to be able to answer questions as the loan moves forward.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will see business as usual and same with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

However, much of it will depend on where borrowers are in the process of buying a house and when they are scheduled to close.

For now, all we can do is sit back and wait to see how long the shutdown will last.

Helpful Tips to Stage Your Home

Home staging is preparing your home for sale in the marketplace. It will help make you stand out amongst your competitors and therefore hopefully lead to a quick sale. Staging focuses on improving your homes appeal. Most buyers walk into a home and only see what is in front of them. It tends to be harder for potential buyers to visualize what the home "could" look like. Therefore, we made a list of a few quick and helpful tips to get your home show ready.

1. De-Clutter: The most important thing you can do to stage your home is to clear out the clutter. Furniture can be a big contributor to the cluttered look. Too much furniture can make a room look smaller than it really is. Go room by room and ask yourself what you can live without.

2. Lighting: Lighting can make a home feel warm and welcoming. If you think your home seems a little dark, increase the wattage in your lamps and fixtures. You might also want to add another lamp. Don't depend on just one fixture to light an entire room.

3. Paint: To make a room appear bigger than it really is, paint it the same color as the adjacent room. This will essentially make both rooms feel like one big space. For large spaces like your living room, stick with neutral colors. Beige is a popular choice and has been for many years. If you want something different, you could try warm tans and honeys or even soft blue-greens.

4. Art: Most people hang their art/pictures in a line encircling the room. In doing this, it makes the artwork seem almost invisible because it doesn't stand out. Instead, hang your art and pictures creatively. This will draw attention to the art and will also show off the room.

5. Cabinets: If totally updating the kitchen isn't in your budget, just work with what you have. Paint your current cabinets and drawers and add new hardware.

Indianapolis Home Sales Rise in Month of July

Article courtesy of Indystar.com

Sales of existing homes in the Indianapolis area rose 34.6 percent in July, the biggest monthly jump so far this year.

Realtors in the 13-county metro area registered 3,324 home sales, compared with 2,470 in the same month last year, the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors said today.

It was the largest monthly jump this year, surpassing May’s 30.6 percent increase.

“The Central Indiana housing market continues to make consistent strides toward recovery,” said Rick Lux, MIBOR president, in a statement. “While prices are rising and mortgage rates have increased slightly, affordability remains attractive for central Indiana homebuyers. The impressive amount of closed sales activity proves that people are taking advantage of these conditions to get into the market.”

Sales increases for metro counties included Hancock (49.4 percent), Hendricks (46.8), Johnson (44), Hamilton (39.6), Marion (36.3), Shelby (34), Morgan (18.9) and Boone (2.8).

Statewide, sales were less robust but still strong, increasing 22.8 percent in July from a year ago.

Kevin Kirkpatrick, president of the Indiana Association of Realtors, predicted the sales pace will slow, assuming mortgage interest rates continue to tick up and the inventory of houses for sale shrinks.

“In fact, the number of pending home sales from last month shows a slight slowdown in its rate of increase,” Kirkpatrick said. “The long-term success of housing markets across the state depends on real employment and wage growth.”

Star reporter Jeff Swiatek

What Would Your Dream House Look Like?

brady exterior house

For Supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Quarterback Tom Brady, it is a 14,000 square foot megamansion in Brentwood California. Now, if you had $20 million dollars to spare you could have the same looking house as these two but most of us don't have that luxury so we get to live vicariously through them.

When the couple came across a piece of land in LA 6 years ago, they knew it was perfect for where they wanted to start their family. After 3 years of building, the home is finally complete. It offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and is very eco-friendly. It was very important to Gisele that the home be as sustainable as possible. Ninety percent of the materials in the house are recycled, antique or reclaimed, from the ceiling to the floors to the stones in the driveway, according to Architectural Digest editor-in-chief Margaret Russell. Also, 75 percent of the debris from the construction of the home was recycled. They even have a chicken coop on the property where they grow their own eggs. Two good looking people and they care about the environment...talk about a power couple!! You can pick up the October issue of Architectual Digest to get a more in depth look at the home.

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