Mouth-Watering Outdoor Kitchens (And Surprise! Their ROI Is Great)

Building an outdoor kitchen is more than an indulgence: These backyard beauties can improve your home’s value. Outdoor kitchens typically get a 71% return on investment, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of REALTORS® — and that’s on top of your own outdoor-cooking joy. The investment can be a little — or a lot. These five outdoor kitchen ideas fit a range of budgets and homes.

#1 A Tiny Outdoor Kitchen for Limited Spaces

If you boil down an outdoor kitchen to the basics, what more do you need than a grill, a little oven, cupboard space, and a cozy place to sit? This setup does it all efficiently, for as little as a few hundred dollars if you already have outdoor electricity. An electrician will add to the cost.

#2 An Outdoor Kitchen From a Kit

Modular kits, like this one from WWOO (starting around $1,500), can be customized to suit your backyard. Some companies even offer design help for additional cost.

#3 An Outdoor Kitchen Made of Concrete & Steel

DIY-savvy homeowners used concrete and cement board to create this L-shaped outdoor kitchen that mimics today’s indoor layouts. Guests relax at the counter while the host flips burgers — it’s open-concept living in the great wide-open.

No, this isn’t DIY 101, but if you’ve got the skill set you can do it for the cost of materials — and concrete is cheap. If you hire a pro, though, the typical cost is about $14,000 for a kitchen that includes an inset grill, steel drawers, ice chest, sink, and concrete countertop, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report.”

#4 An Outdoor Kitchen With Personal Style

Your outdoor kitchen doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. But it should match your home’s style if you want to get a return on your investment. This DIY kitchen fits the home’s rustic style and comes with enough storage any indoor cook would envy.

#5 An Outdoor Kitchen That Says “Sit a Spell”

Your outdoor kitchen can play the same role in your yard that your kitchen inside does: as the heartbeat of every gathering where guests will want to stay awhile. And bonus: The added deck and pergola could also kick up your home value a couple of notches.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Mortgage Rates Drop to 2-Year Lows

This marks the sixth consecutive weekly decline for mortgage rates, leaving some borrowers wondering how low will they go. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.82% this week, the lowest average since September 2017. 

“While the drop in mortgage rates is a good opportunity for consumers to save on their mortgage payment, our research indicates that there can be a wider dispersion among mortgage rate offers,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “By shopping around and getting a single additional mortgage rate quote, a borrower can save an average of $1,500.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending June 6:

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.82%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.99%. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.54%.

• 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.28%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.46% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.01%.

• 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.52%, with an average 0.4 point, alling from last week’s 3.60% average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.74%.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Home Sizes May Be Indicator for Economy’s Health

June 4, 2019

The size of newly constructed homes may be a sign of how well the economy is doing, according to a new analysis by Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. “Typical new-home size falls prior to and during a recession as home buyers tighten budgets, and then sizes rise as high-end home buyers, who face fewer credit constraints, return to the housing market in relatively greater proportions,” he notes.

So, how are home sizes doing now? The median new-home size increased at the beginning of this year, but overall sizes have been falling since mid-2015. “Current declines in size indicate that this part of the cycle has ended, and size will trend lower as builders add more entry-level homes into inventory and the custom market levels off,” Dietz notes in the research.

After the Great Recession, builders were unable to build entry-level homes due to cost constraints on labor and available lots. Pent-up demand in the entry-level market could help lengthen this part of the housing cycle, Dietz told MarketWatch. If so, he says new-home construction may help cushion the economy from a near-term downturn. As such, Dietz—joined in a sentiment shared by other housing economists—has no recession fears in near-term forecasts. 

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Super-Busy People Reveal Their Habits for a Tranquil Home

Three young entrepreneurs give tips on staying organized and calm while living hectic lives.

Life is crazy. Cah-ray-zee. And while you wouldn’t have it any other way from 9 to 5 (OK, more like 8 to 7), the insanity should stop at your front door.

That’s why you bought your home, right? To have a place to rest, recharge, and come up with your next trailblazing idea. A few inspirational ideas for your home may be all you need to put it on the path to tranquility.

Three super-busy entrepreneurs — a brewery owner, website founder, and organic farmer — know exactly how important a tranquil home is to achieving personal success. Here, they share how they created Zen-like havens in their homes to foster stress-relieving routines.

A Nook to Bliss Out In

When hanging out at the local brewpub loses its appeal because, well, brewing is your business, home becomes your place for a mini getaway.

Tim Bullock, who co-owns St. Elmo Brewing Company in Austin, Texas, and his wife, photographer Heather Gallagher, created a perfect spot to chill in their own home with a little wallpaper and a daybed.

In the morning before his young son wakes up, Bullock often lounges on the daybed, reading the news, sending a few emails, or just listening to piano music before the madness of the day ensues.

The brightly colored tropical wallpaper mural covers an entire wall next to the daybed. Compared to the crisp black-and-white color scheme in the rest of the house, the vibrant space “really feels like a vacation room,” Bullock says.

Your blissful nook doesn’t have to be indoors: HypeGirls.com founder Nichole Dawkins created a tropical escape on her balcony. More than 20 strategically placed potted plants — including aloe, vegetables, herbs, small palm trees, cacti, and orchids — block out the neighbors and frame a calming water view from her Miami home.

Given the space’s appeal, Dawkins doesn’t have to remind herself to take a break throughout the day. She meditates there every morning, soaks in the sun while enjoying an afternoon cup of tea, and often reads or colors while her son naps. Sign us up!

A No-Fail System for Organization

With a young toddler running around, Dawkins is constantly battling toys that threaten to take over her living room. So the creative director and founder of the site for “millennial mamas,” invested in DIY shelving and deep decorative bins.

Because every bin houses one category of items — like puzzles, coloring books, games, and toys — she can easily clean up throughout the day, allowing her more time to enjoy that sense of adult orderliness every evening.

Instead of a mess facing her at the end of the work day, “I spend much more time relaxing in the space than I do cleaning it up,” she says.

A Drop Zone to Separate Work From Home

Is it difficult to leave the literal “mess” of work at the front door? Andrea Davis-Cetina, an organic farmer and owner of Quarter Acre Farm in Sonoma, Calif., can relate.

A one-woman operation, she might spend the day planting and harvesting, and then return home after dark to post social media updates, order seeds, or book guests for her radio show. She needed a place to stow her dirty farm boots and jackets, but her home doesn’t have a foyer.

So she carved out a small foyer drop zone at the front door, with a wall-mounted coat rack above a simple, three-level shoe stand.

“It stops the mess at the door,” she says, and helps draw that elusive line between work and personal life — even if there’s more work to be done after a long shower and an episode of “Scandal.”

For homeowners with devices instead of dirty gear: A charging station is a must-have for a drop zone. Plug ’em in, and leave ’em there.

An Easy Way to Spend Time Outside

Bullock says both his home’s location and his home’s yard help him de-stress simply by encouraging him to get outside.

Since his home is in a walkable neighborhood, Bullock says that encourages both him and his family to interact with nature, instead of watching it through car windows — either by walking to the local pizzeria or riding their bikes through the park. Their home’s locale makes it all possible.

But his favorite just might be the small herb garden in his front yard. He and his son routinely spend a few minutes most days watering or weeding it.

“That definitely is a big stress relief, and it’s right outside the front door,” he says.

Related: 5 Awesomely Easy Landscaping Projects

Windows will get you a dose of nature, too: Dawkins says the abundance of windows in her home is a natural mood-booster — and a significant reason she chose her home. She leaves the windows uncovered during the day to get as much of the benefits of daylighting as she possibly can.

A Focal Point to Find Peace and Motivation

“The power of visualization is very important when you’re trying to get focused, or relax,” Dawkins says, by way of explanation for the “inspiration board” in her home.

She gives her board a very personal touch. Every year, she takes a blank canvas and paints it with a new theme (this year, it’s reggae), then adds her visions and dreams to it.

It works as artwork in her home, but it also helps her to see her goals clearly — and let go of the day’s less consequential stressors.

You don’t have to be an artist to have an inspiration board: Davis-Cetina uses a simple bulletin board to hang her motivational messages and personal and professional mementos. In the evening, when she’s handling the office end of farm work from an extra bedroom, she likes to visit her board. “I like to hold onto things and look at them. It’s a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing,” she says.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Consumers Say Housing Is a Strong Financial Investment

May 23, 2019

Sixty-five percent of households nationwide view buying a home in their ZIP code as a good financial investment, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Housing Expectations. Nearly 72 percent of renters say they would prefer to own instead of rent—if they had the financial resources to do so, the survey found. Renters ages 50 and older were more likely than younger renters to say they prefer to be homeowners.

Renters have the perception that access to mortgage credit is loosening, with 21 percent saying obtaining a mortgage is “easy” or “very easy”—the highest percentage since 2014. However, nearly 58 percent perceive obtaining a mortgage as “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult.”

As for existing homeowners, they’re eager to invest more in their homes. The percentage of homeowners who expect to invest at least $5,000 in their homes over the next one to three years continues to be elevated, according to the study. The average probability for the one-year horizon of spending at least $5,000 on a home stood at about 38 percent, while a three-year horizon stood at nearly 48 percent.

Housing as investment chart. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.
Homeowner Tenure chart. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

Housing economists announced the survey results Wednesday and struck an upbeat tone about the outlook for homeownership over the next decade. Assuming a strong economy continues, they said the nation’s aging population will likely increase homeownership since older households historically are more likely to own. Economists also noted that a majority of renter households are reporting they’d rather own than rent. However, renters also report facing obstacles, particularly from high student loan debt that may delay their entrance into homeownership.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Report: Owners Aren’t Saving Enough for Remodeling

Homeowners significantly underestimate the costs involved when planning a home improvement project, finds a new study from Discover Home Equity Loans, based on a survey of 1,200 Americans.

Eighty-two percent of consumers believe the home they own is a financial asset, the study says. As such, they want to tackle home improvement projects to increase the value of their home even more. More than half—52 percent—of consumers say they plan to take on a home improvement project in the next year. Kitchen and bathroom remodels lead in projects.

But many consumers have failed to save enough. Sixty-four percent of consumers say their home improvement project will cost under $15,000. However, bathroom remodels can cost anywhere from $19,000 upwards to $61,000; significant kitchen remodels can cost upwards to $125,000, according to the study.

Given their low estimates for projects, homeowners are falling short in paying for their projects. Only a quarter say they’ll have enough funds to cover the likely cost of the project, the study showed.

“Home improvement projects can quickly add up and oftentimes cost more than someone anticipates,” says PK Parekh, senior vice president of Discover Home Equity Loans. “Which is why people should be financially prepared and determine which payment method makes the most sense within their own financial situation.”

Homeowners differ on how they’re financing their home improvement projects. Thirty-four percent prefer to use cash for a home improvement project, followed by 23 percent who say they plan to use a credit card. Other owners say they are considering borrowing against the equity in their home, such as through a home equity line of credit (18 percent), home equity loan (13 percent), or cash-out refinance (7 percent).

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Gen Xers’ Adult Children Influence Their Buying Decisions According to Realtor® Report

WASHINGTON (April 1, 2019) – One in six Gen Xers purchased a multi-generational home, overtaking younger boomers as the generation most likely to do so; with 52 percent of those Gen X buyers indicating that they did so because their adult children have either moved back or never left home.

This is according to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2019 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, which evaluates the generational differences1 of recent homebuyers and sellers. The report also found that older millennials who bought a multi-generational home, at 9 percent, were most likely to do so in order to take care of aging parents (33 percent), or to spend more time with those parents (30 percent).

“The high cost of rent and lack of affordable housing inventory is sending adult children back to their parents’ homes either out of necessity or an attempt to save money,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “While these multi-generational homes may not be what a majority of Americans expect out of homeownership, this method allows younger potential buyers the opportunity to gain their financial footing and transition into homeownership. In fact, younger millennials are the most likely to move directly out of their parents’ homes into homeownership, circumventing renting altogether.”

Millennials as a whole accounted for 37 percent of all buyers, making them the most active generation of buyers for the sixth consecutive year. 2019 is the first year the report separated younger and older millennials, accounting for 11 and 26 percent of buyers respectively. This separation was deemed necessary as younger millennials now account for a larger buying share than the silent generation (7 percent). Gen X buyers were the second largest group of buyers (24 percent), followed by younger boomers (18 percent) and older boomers (14 percent).

Dividing millennials into younger and older cohorts highlights the disparities between the two age groups, and paints a picture of older millennials that is much closer to Gen Xers and younger boomers. Older millennials have a median household income of $101,200 and purchase homes with a median price of $274,000, comparable to Gen Xers ($111,100 income, $277,800 median home price) and younger boomers ($102,300, $251,100 respectively).

Yun says this is to be expected as millennials continue to age and advance through various stages of their lives and careers. “Older millennials are now entering the prime earning stages of their careers, and the size and costs of homes they purchase reflect this. Their choices are falling more in line with their Gen X and boomer counterparts.”

Younger millennials, meanwhile, are purchasing the least expensive homes and smallest homes ($177,000 and 1,600 square feet), meaning they face the greatest challenge in finding affordable inventory. They also report a median household income of $71,200.

Downsizing to a smaller home is not currently common among any of the generations. Sellers over the age of 54 only downsize by a median of 100 to 200 square feet. Gen Xers and boomers who may have been interested in downsizing could have been hindered by a lack of smaller inventory; or may have been impeded by the increase in multi-generational living these generations are reporting to accommodate the needs of adult children and aging parents.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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45% of Millennials Expect Their First Home to Be Their ‘Dream Home’

Young adults have waited longer than past generations to jump into homeownership. As they wait, that may have upped their expectations over what their home will look like for when they finally do take the plunge into ownership. Forty-five percent of millennials surveyed say they expect their first home to be their “dream home,” according to a new survey of 2,000 millennials between the ages of 22 and 37, released by Northshore  Fireplace.

But whether millennials will actually be able to afford their dream home from their first purchase may be questionable. Half of millennials surveyed say they have only $2,000 or less saved for a down payment. Millennials believe their first home will cost $218,152 (average). The median cost of an existing home in the U.S. is $249,500, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ housing report, based on February data.

In a separate study by Porch.com, a home improvement website, millennial buyers were the most likely compared to other generations to pay more for must-have amenities. Many of the amenities they most sought out related to convenience or comfort, such as a private backyard or patio (they are willing to pay $7,009 more for a home with one); a swimming pool (they’d pay $6,346 more for one); central air conditioning and heating ($6,194); and solar panels ($5,469), according to the survey.

Some millennials may be willing to wait until they can afford their dream home. Their top fears delaying ownership: the burden of paying a mortgage (41 percent); unforeseen maintenance issues with the home (35 percent); being locked into one location by buying (17 percent); and the upkeep of the home (7 percent).

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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The 3 Most Important Rooms to Stage

Staging not only results in a quicker sale but also tends to increase the home’s value too, according to the newly released 2019 Profile of Home Staging report conducted by the National Association of REALTORS®. One quarter of buyers’ agents say that staging a home increased the dollar value of a home between 1 to 5 percent compared to similar homes on the market that weren’t staged. Seventeen percent of agents said that staging increased the home’s dollar value between six to 10 percent.

Which rooms are the most important to focus on in the house?

Staging the living room was found to be the most important for buyers (47 percent), followed by staging the master bedroom (42 percent) and staging the kitchen (35 percent). The least important area to stage? The guest bedroom, according to buyer agents. Only 8 percent of buyer agents said it was “very important” to stage a guest bedroom in the home.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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