7 Household Expenses You’re Probably Wasting Money On

There are better ways to spend.

The washer/dryer combo was perfect! Such a delightful way to brighten laundry day — with a cheerfully colored front-loader set. They could actually make laundry fun!

“They were this gorgeous, greenish-teal, and they looked great in my laundry room,” says Eliesa Prettelt, avid DIYer and author of “A Pinterest Addict” blog.

But after barreling through three sets in four years, she knew she’d made a mistake. “They looked so pretty, but I had nothing but problems with them,” she says.

She eventually gave up and got nondescript, white, commercial-grade top-loaders she scored for less than half the cost of her original machines. They may be plain, she says, but “I’ve had no problems since.”

Lesson learned. The hard way. Now for learning the easy way. Here are seven common money mistakes homeowners make — and now you won’t.

1. Contractor House Calls

Think you need a pro to fix that leaky toilet? You’d be surprised how easy it can be to fix it yourself — and save the typical $45 to $150 per hour plumbers can charge (and don’t forget the boost in your can-do attitude!). You can often find home remedies for small jobs like a leaky faucet or broken garbage disposal on YouTube. Just be sure it’s a reputable source. And check out several videos on the same repair. That’ll help make sure no crucial step is missed.

“We save a couple hundred dollars per year by doing small home repairs ourselves,” says Lauren Greutman, frugal living expert and author of “The Recovering Spender: How to Live a Happy, Fulfilled, Debt-Free Life.”

For those who prefer an expert, Greutman suggests smaller, local retail appliance stores. “It’s a little-known secret that they usually have repair men that are very inexpensive,” she says.

2. Extended Warranties

It’s tempting to insure your new, big purchase, but according to Consumer Reports, you’re probably already as covered as you need to be.

How’s that? Most major appliances come with at least a 90-day manufacturer’s warranty. Buy with a major credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express) and it will likely double that standard warranty.

Combine that with the fact that “Consumer Reports” found most products won’t break during the standard two- or three-year service contract period. When they do, the repair cost is usually just a few dollars more than the cost of the warranty.

Instead of paying for an extended warranty, stash the cash in a savings account earmarked for home repairs. When you need it, it’ll be there.

3. Flashy Feature Appliances

The newest appliances come with super fun features. Who wouldn’t want an oven that talks, remote access to your A/C, or bottle jets in the dishwasher (paging new parents!)? Still, it may not be financially wise to replace a fully functioning older model just to gain modern perks. So says Arthur Teel, owner and operator of The Handyman Plan in Asheville, N.C.

Circuit boards break, and energy efficiency numbers don’t always add up,” he says.

Yup. That’s even true for some energy-efficient appliances that boast cost savings. “Spend $1,000 on a new, energy-efficient stove and it could take 10 years of energy savings to offset the cost of the new stove,” he says. “Unless you have a really old appliance, it’s probably efficient enough for your needs. Also, putting the appliance into the landfill isn’t exactly great for the environment.”

4. Budget Bulbs

Incandescents may be easy on your everyday household budget, but they’re tough on your energy bill. Start replacing them now with LEDs. To help swallow the initial costs, just replace them as they die out. A typical LED bulb can recuperate its cost in a little over a year (at least according to manufacturers, so in reality it’s probably a bit longer, but not enough to quibble about). Even better, since LEDs can last a decade or more, you won’t have to buy bulbs as often, and your energy costs will be lower!

5. Commercial Cleaning Supplies

Even if you’re buying off-brand products to save costs, you’re still wasting money. You don’t have to spend anywhere near the cost of commercial products.

“Vinegar will clean a lot of things, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying pricey cleaning supplies,” says Prettelt. She also likes baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, each of which can be found for just a fraction of the cost of their popular store-bought equivalents.

“You can use these natural products in your dishwasher, in your garbage disposal, in your wash,” Prettelt adds. Easy peasy. And it’s super cheap.

That’s right. You can make dishwasher soap from a cup each of borax and washing soda, a half-cup kosher salt, and five packets unsweetened lemonade mix. Or whip up your own window cleaner with these simple ingredients:

  • half-cup white vinegar
  • rubbing alcohol
  • two cups of water
  • two tablespoons of cornstarch

All those ingredients cost pennies. And to think you were paying $2-$4 for the commercial kind.

6. A Storage Unit

If it doesn’t fit in your home, is it really worth keeping? Ditch nostalgia and think with your bank account: At a cost of between $50 and $300 per month, it may be time to purge the junk.

If you can’t bear to part with something you don’t use regularly — say, great-grandma’s heirloom china — rethink your home’s organizational storage. Clean out the closet, craft shelves beneath the stairs, or build window seats with drawer storage. You’ll be investing in your home instead of giving money to a storage vendor.

7. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Bought your house with less than 20% down? You’re probably paying for PMI (a type of insurance that guarantees your mortgage lender will be covered if you default). It costs between $600 and $1,200 per year for a typical home. But once your loan-to-value ratio drops to 80%, you’re not required to pay it. But the lender isn’t required to drop it until it reaches 78%.

That 2% difference could cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars, depending on your home’s mortgage balance. So, keep an eye on your statement and whip out that calculator when you’re getting close. Then, if you’re feeling really savvy, keep paying that amount every month — but apply it to your mortgage principal instead. Do that, and you could recoup your PMI fees. Because as you pay down your principal, you’ll pay less in interest, potentially saving thousands. Now how savvy is that?

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

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7 Projects That Make Your Backyard Staycation-Worthy

But not all are equal when it comes to investing in your home.

Mow the grass, weed the garden, seal the deck, rake debris. You may spend plenty of time in your backyard, but if it’s all boot camp and no getaway, you may not be feeling the love for your home you once did.

Time for a second honeymoon with these ideas that’ll turn your labor-loving yard into a leisure-loving one. Some will even enhance your home’s value. Others, at least, won’t ding it. (You definitely don’t want to do that.)

Let the backyard staycations begin with these ideas:

#1 Al-Fresco Dining

Ample, built-in seating and wood-fired pizza on-demand. And while wood-fired ovens are famous for pizza, this isn’t a one-note investment: You can serve up any meat, veggie, or bread — making this a full-on outdoor oven. Low-maintenance hardscaping means you can focus on your party, instead of mowing grass.

Or go for the full farm-to-table concept:

Pluck some veggies from some chic, metal raised beds (easy to maintain), prep them in an outdoor cooking island with a built-in grill (and green roof, which keeps it cooler underneath), and treat yourself to the freshest cuisine around for your backyard staycation.

Even better, since the entire ground area is pea gravel, you can spend less time mowing and more time dining.

But does it add value? Outdoor living and cooking spaces (rooms, really) almost always do. As do low-maintenance hardscaping features — like the patio. Raised steel garden beds, not so much, though.

#2 An Outdoor Room Just for Leisure

Spend Saturday afternoon napping in your outdoor space — not laboring over it. Easy-care plants look lush with minimal intervention, including ground cover and stone to replace grass.

Install horizontal privacy fencing, and you’re ready for one legendary siesta (adorable dog recommended, but not required).

But does it add value? See above about outdoor rooms (and the lovely plants definitely boost it, too). Win-win.

#3 A Yard for Playing

You don’t have to give up playing in the backyard just because you’re an adult. Make your yard a grown-up rec center with a fire pit and bocce ball court (or cornhole, ladder ball, even giant Jenga).

Wood-paneled privacy fencing elevates the adults-only aesthetic, and low-maintenance gravel keeps the focus on fun instead of maintenance.

But does it add value? Seriously doubt it (except for the fence). But it’s your yard. Remember, joy is an ROI of a different sort. Plus, the court is easy enough to erase with some basic landscaping (always a good value add).

#4 A DIY Pool and Pit

A stock tank pool and a fire pit with seating in a backyardImage: John and Caley Duffty of Home Wood Designs

An affordable, stock-tank soaking pool paired with a DIY fire pit and seating is everything good about a Funny how something most of us love can actually make a house harder to sell. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.Read More InDo Swimming Pools Add Value to Homes? pool (laps, shmaps, right?), without all the cost and maintenance.

Add a little wood-fired heater, and it’s a hot tub, too (just make sure it’s one designed for hot tubs — for obvious reasons).

But does it add value? Only to you. And since it’s easy enough to remove, it’s not hurting it either. If you love it, then you’re getting a whole different kind of ROI — where dollars don’t apply.

#5 A Me-Only Retreat

A Malibu spa day may not fit into your schedule (or budget) this year, but stealing away to this hideaway for 30 minutes at a time can be easily penciled in. Now where’s the “Do not disturb” sign?

Colorful backyard shedImage: Megan M. Greene, photo/Amber Lee Garrison

But does it add value? Not really, especially since the shed isn’t plumbed and lacks power. But backyard sheds-as-rooms never seem to disappoint buyers.

#6 An Epic Slide

A modern treehouse with a purple slideImage: Ryan Garvin

Jack up a playhouse with a slide that makes their friends go “Whoa.” And while they’re spending a few hours running up the stairs (or climbing up a cargo net) and racing down the slide, you get some much-deserved “me” time: not a lousy ROI.

But does it add value? The slide, no. The playhouse? Again, no plumbing, no electricity, probably no gain — but the landscaping is a sure-fire win.

#7 Lighting for After Dark

A backyard with pool and covered patio at nightImage: Donny Mak

Do resorts shut down at dusk? They do not. To make your backyard an all-hours destination, incorporate outdoor lighting into your vision. Forget tiki torches; opt for permanent overhead, task, and mood lighting — just like you would indoors. Efficient solar and LED lights are great for outdoors. With the right glow, you can squeeze even more hours of delight out of your backyard staycation.

But does it add value? Oh, yeah. A no-brainer. Outdoor lighting is great for curb appeal (and safety).

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

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Metro Home-Price Growth Quickens to 5.7% in the 1st Quarter

WASHINGTON (May 14, 2018) – Inventory levels hovering at all-time lows weighed down home sales and fueled faster price appreciation during the first three months of the year, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors®.

The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter was $245,500, which is up 5.7 percent from the first quarter of 2017 ($232,200). The median sales price during the fourth quarter of 2017 climbed 5.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016.

Single-family home prices last quarter increased in 91 percent of measured markets, with 162 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas1 (MSAs) showing sales price gains in the first quarter compared to a year ago. Fifty-three metro areas (30 percent) experienced double-digit increases, up from 15 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says record low inventory levels caused the housing market to get off to a slow start in 2018. “The worsening inventory crunch through the first three months of the year inflicted even more upward pressure on home prices in a majority of markets,” he said. “Following the same trend over the last couple of years, a strengthening job market and income gains are not being met by meaningful sales gains because of unrelenting supply and affordability headwinds.”

Added Yun, “Realtors® in areas with strong job markets report that consumer frustration is rising. Home shoppers are increasingly struggling to find an affordable property to buy, and the prevalence of multiple bids is pushing prices further out of reach.”

Total existing-home sales2, including single family and condos, decreased 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.51 million in the first quarter from 5.59 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, and are 1.7 percent lower than the 5.60 million pace during the first quarter of 2017.

At the end of the first quarter, there were 1.67 million existing homes available for sale3, which was 7.2 percent below the 1.80 million homes for sale at the end of the first quarter in 2017. The average supply during the first quarter was 3.5 months – down from 3.7 months in the first quarter of last year.

The national family median income rose to $74,7794 in the first quarter, but overall affordability decreased from a year ago because of rising mortgage rates and home prices. To purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent down payment would need an income of $55,732, a 10 percent down payment would require an income of $52,779, and $46,932 would be needed for a 20 percent down payment.

“Prospective buyers in many markets are realizing that buying a home is becoming more expensive in 2018,” said Yun. “Rapid price gains and the quick hike in mortgage rates are essentially eliminating any meaningful gains buyers may be seeing from the combination of improving wage growth and larger paychecks following this year’s tax cuts. It’s simple: homebuilders need to start constructing more single-family homes and condominiums to overcome the rampant supply shortages that are hampering affordability.”

The five most expensive housing markets in the first quarter were the San Jose, California metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $1,373,000; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California, $917,000; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, California, $810,000; urban Honolulu, $775,500; and San Diego-Carlsbad, $610,000.

The five lowest-cost metro areas in the first quarter were Decatur, Illinois, $73,000; Cumberland, Maryland, $86,200; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $91,300; Elmira, New York, $100,800; and Binghamton, New York; $103,000.

Metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 61 metro areas – showed the national median existing-condo price was $231,700 in the first quarter, up 5.9 percent from the first quarter of 2017 ($218,800). Eighty-five percent of metro areas showed gains in their median condo price from a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

Total existing-home sales in the Northeast slipped 8.5 percent in the first quarter and are 8.1 percent below the first quarter of 2017. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $267,400 in the first quarter, up 4.6 percent from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales fell 6.9 percent in the first quarter and are 1.8 percent below a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest grew 5.9 percent to $187,100 in the first quarter from the same quarter a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 3.7 percent in the first quarter and are 0.7 percent higher than the first quarter of 2017. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $220,400 in the first quarter, 5.5 percent above a year earlier.

In the West, existing-home sales in the first quarter declined 1.1 percent and are 2.2 percent below a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 8.2 percent to $371,300 in the first quarter from the first quarter of 2017.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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

 

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Quick Home Sales in Kennewick & Richland

Homes in Kennewick and Richland averaged 31 days on the market in 2017.  These statistics put them at the top of the national 2017 list for quick home sales.  The average days on the market in over 200 metropolitan areas in 2017 was 67. This is a large reduction from 2011 when the average days peaked at 120.  In some local housing markets the conditions are much faster with average sales transactions taking less than 40 days to go under contract according to a report from Nationwide Economics titled Health of Housing Markets.

Source:  Nationwide Economics

 

 

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The Everything Guide to Buying Your First Home

How to find exactly what you want, and how to work with the experts who’ll help you get it.

So you’re thinking about buying your first home. Your very own house (and mortgage). A place to call — and make — your own.

It’s a big move, literally and figuratively. Buying a house requires a serious amount of money and time. The journey isn’t always easy. It isn’t always intuitive. But when you get the keys to your new home — that can be one of the most rewarding feelings pretty much ever.

The key to getting there? Knowing the home-buying journey. Knowing what tools are at your disposal. And most importantly? Creating relationships with experts who can help you get the job done.

That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll show you not only the major steps you’ll take during the home-buying process, but also explain the relationships and experts you’ll need along the way.

You ready to live the dream? Here we go.

Do Your Homework

Oh sure, everybody wants to jump right into open houses. But before you even set foot into a foyer, you should identify your list of “musts” and “wants.” This list is an inventory of priorities for your search. And there’s so much to decide: Price, housing type, neighborhood, and school district — just to name a few.

If you’re planning to buy a home with a partner (in life or in real estate), you want to be on the same page while buying a house. If you’re not, you’ll be less able to give agents or lenders the information they need to help you. And you risk wasting time viewing homes you can’t afford — or don’t even want in the first place.

Start Shopping

Once you know what you’re looking for, the next step is to start looking at listings and housing information online. (This part? You’re going to crush it.)

Find a Great Agent

Your relationship with your real estate agent is the foundation of the home-buying process. (And your agent = your rock.) He or she is the first expert you’ll meet on your journey, and the one you’ll rely on most. That’s why it’s important to interview agents and find the agent who is right for your specific needs.

Choose a Lender

Once you’ve found your agent (AKA, your new best friend), ask him or her to recommend at least three mortgage lenders that meet your financial needs. This is another big step, as you’ll be working with your lender closely throughout the home-buying process.

Pick a Loan

Once you’ve decided on a lender (or mortgage broker), you’ll work with your loan agent to determine which mortgage is right for you. You’ll consider the percentage of your income you want to spend on your new house, and you’ll provide the lender with paperwork showing proof of income, employment status, and other important financials. If all goes well (fingers crossed) you’ll be pre-approved for a loan at a certain amount. (Sweet.)

Visit Open Houses & Look Around

Now that you have both an agent who knows your housing preferences and a budget — and a lender to finance a house within that budget —it’s time to get serious about viewing homes. Your agent will provide listings you may like based on your parameters (price range, ZIP codes, features), and will also help you determine the quality of listings you find online. Then comes the fun part: Open houses and private showings, which give you the unique opportunity to evaluate properties in a way you can’t online.

Make an Offer

Once you find the home you want to buy, you’ll work with your agent to craft an offer that not only specifies the price you’re willing to pay but also the proposed settlement date and contingencies — other conditions that must be agreed upon by both parties, such as giving you the ability to do a home inspection and request repairs.

Negotiate, Negotiate

Making an offer can feel like an emotional precipice, almost like asking someone out on a date. Do they like me? Am I good enough? Will they say yes? It’s stressful! Some home sellers simply accept the best offer they receive, but many sellers make a counteroffer. If that happens, it’s up to you to decide whether you want your agent to negotiate with the seller  or walk away. This is an area where your agent can provide real value by using their expert negotiating skills to haggle on your behalf and nab you the best deal.

Get the Place Inspected

If your offer is accepted, then you’ll sign a contract. Most sales contracts include a home inspection contingency, which means you’ll hire a licensed or certified home inspector to inspect the home for needed repairs, and then ask the seller to have those repairs made. This mitigates your risk of buying a house that has major issues lurking beneath the surface, like mold or cracks in the foundation. (No one wants that.)

Ace the Appraisal

When you offer to buy a home, your lender will need to have the home appraised to make sure the property value is enough to cover the mortgage. If the home appraises close to the agreed-upon purchase price, you’re one step closer to settlement — but a low appraisal can add a wrinkle. Not one you can’t deal with.

Close the Deal

The last stage of the home-buying process is settlement, or closing. This is when you sign the final ownership and insurance paperwork and make this whole thing official.

When it’s all said and done — break out the rosé. You’ll have the keys to your new home!

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

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5 Things That Will Totally Ruin Your Bathroom Remodel

There is one paint color you must avoid at all costs (see #5)

A clean, well-planned, and stunning bathroom is every homeowner’s goal. But creating it can be a bit of a sticky wicket.

All that water, humidity, and artificial lighting, and those tight corners make the space a real challenge. Don’t make it worse by wasting money on materials that won’t withstand the task or will need replacing when they don’t work out. Dodge bad bathroom decisions by avoiding these five things:

#1 Wallpaper

Bathroom with red wallpaperImage: Iriana Shiyan/Shutterstock

In a high-steam area such as a bathroom, wallpaper may start to peel in a few years, according to some designers. In fact, steam is used to strip old wallpaper off walls.

Despite the many photos of stylish, wallpapered bathrooms in magazines, unless it’s a half-bath or guest bath that’s seldom used, skip it. Really want the unique look wallpaper

#2 Laminate Flooring

Love the look and affordability of laminate flooring? Use it in another room. Water and laminate floors don’t mix. Even tiny amounts of water will seep between the planks, causing them to expand, peel, swell, and lift from the floor.

Even laminate manufacturers advise against installing in high moisture areas. The good news? There are plenty of other products out there that work extremely well in bathrooms. Take another look at linoleum. It’s eco-friendly, budget-friendly, and comes in a wide variety of looks.

#3 Slippery or Glossy Tile or Stone

Bathroom with a slippery tile floorImage: Iriana Shiyan/Shutterstock

Many ceramic, porcelain, and stone floors will become slippery in wet conditions. The more polished a tile, the more likely it will become slippery when wet.

Solution: Select your bathroom floor surface carefully, vetting each against slippery conditions. Look for tiles certified to meet slip-resistance standards specified by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

#4 Wall-to-Wall Carpet

Man removing carpet from a home bathroomImage: Michelle Roth Writes

If you really want the cozy touch of carpet in the bathroom, fluffy bath mats add color and comfort — and can be regularly laundered.

#5 Yellow Paint

When selecting paint colors, remember that color will appear more intense on your bathroom walls than it would in most other rooms, especially if the bathroom relies heavily on artificial lighting.

“In that smaller space, where the mirror multiplies the impact of the lighting, the walls tend to reflect and magnify color from other walls,” says Amy Bell, an interior decorator and owner of Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, N.C. Be especially wary of yellow or other colors that contain yellow — even neutrals — as yellow can feel brash in a bathroom, and you won’t like what you see in the mirror. Instead, opt for grays with a hint of green or blue, which can feel spa-like.

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

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10 Bathroom Materials That’ll Withstand Any Abuse

We don’t ask much from bathroom surfaces.

Just that they be beautiful and withstand every cleaning chemical invented, steamy showers, piles of damp towels, and, did we mention, tantrum-induced line-drives with bath toys?

Oh, and they should be easy to clean. That’s all.

So what materials can live up to the ask? We asked the experts. Here are 10 they recommend:

#1 Engineered Stone Countertop

Dying for a white marble countertop? Join the club. But get ready to seal, reseal, and reseal. Then repeat. Year after year.

Or, go for engineered stone, which can mimic marble (and other stone materials) for about the same cost, but minus the hassle. It’s non-porous so it resists bacteria, mold, stains, and water damage better than the real thing. Better! And it never needs sealing!

#2 Glazed Porcelain Tile Floor

It won’t hold onto water like laminate and porous materials, and porcelain tiles glazed with glass are nearly stain-proof — as are today’s high-quality epoxy and urethane grouts, which don’t require sealing.

#3 Vinyl Floor

Time to rethink vinyl. Hear us out. Luxury vinyl tiles, which mimic stone and wood, are awesome at resisting moisture.

Other affordable options like laminate just can’t keep up. Plus, vinyl sheets are so large, you can cover a small bath without a single seam or grout line, making it easy on the eye and easier to keep clean.

#4 Plywood Cabinets

Yup. We said plywood. But today’s “grade A” offering isn’t your mother’s plywood. (Or your Swedish cousin’s, which is actually particleboard.)

Composed of pressed layers of alder, birch, or cedar, “grade A” plywood (also known as furniture-grade) remains more stable in the face of moisture than solid wood, which will shrink and swell in response to bathroom humidity (causing cracks in painted surfaces and even warped panels).

As for the finish, you don’t need to spring for anything fancy: The factory finish applied to cabinetry nowadays will hold up to the moisture. Isn’t living in the future great?

#5 Tempered Glass Shower Doors

While you need your glass to be tempered for safety, you don’t need a special spot-resistant treatment or upgraded texture to have crystal-clear shower doors.

“Glass is easy to clean,” says Ebony Stephenson, a certified kitchen and bath designer. “I tell my clients, ‘I’ll give you a squeegee and you can save $2,000. It’s a lot of money when you can just wipe off your glass.’” So definitely get tempered glass, but skip the add-on treatments that promise no spots.

#6 Glossy or Semi-Glossy Paint

Mold and mildew are real concerns, even on the walls, thanks to bathroom humidity.  So paint sheen matters.

A full-on glossy paint has a shiny, sealed surface that blocks out moisture and wipes clear of residue, say from hairspray, without leaving a mark like a matte finish will. But the sheen can be a bit overbearing on anything more than trim, and calls attention to wall flaws.

A semi-glossy finish will hold up nearly as well to cleaning and moisture, without calling quite as much attention to bumps, dents, and other imperfections.

#7 Cast Iron Tub

A tub forged from molded liquid iron is likely going to be the toughest thing in your house — maybe even your neighborhood, depending on where you live.

You may need extra support for your floor (and your pocketbook) to bring it home, but cast iron won’t chip, scratch, or dent like fiberglass, acrylic, and even porcelain can.

This tub is your forever tub. And probably your children’s forever tub. And their kids’.

#8 Porcelain-on-Steel Tub

Don’t let its acronym, POS, misguide you: Heat-fused enamel on steel will resist corrosion, abrasion, and chipping better than synthetic materials, and it is much more affordable than cast iron.

#9 Acrylic Panel Shower Walls

Despite their lightweight, acrylic wall panels, often called shower surrounds, are not lightweights. They resist chipping, cracking, and peeling, and are much easier to maintain than stone tiles or slabs. Unlike tile, they nail directly to wall studs or glue to the wallboards, so they don’t require grout. Acrylic is tougher than fiberglass and colored all the way through — so it’s less likely to scratch, and even a deep cut won’t be as obvious. They’re also more affordable than tile and available in textured patterns, if you want to look like you splurged on a fancy design.

#10 Stainless Steel Sink

Stainless: not just for kitchens anymore. Corrosion- and stain-resistant, it won’t melt under a hot curling iron like acrylic can, and won’t dent or chip like porcelain if nail clippers plummet down from the medicine cabinet.

And it’s the perfect match for the industrial-chic look that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

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

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Tech Up Your Style

 

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

ces-logoThe mega consumer electronic showcase, CES, lands in Las Vegas this week. It may not be the place you typically go to for décor trends, but technology is having an undeniable influence in home design, like see-through refrigerators and smart lighting.

Consumers look to you for expertise too. Forty-two percent of Americans say they would look to their sales agent to provide suggestions about how staging their home with smart home products could impact the sale of their home, according to a newly released Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey of more than 3,000 Americans.

So what do we see that has potential this year to spice up some designs? Here are a few picks from CES 2018.

Accent Wall Light Show

 

Photo credit: Nanoleaf

Photo credit: Nanoleaf

Nanoleaf’s color-changing Aurora light panels would make for an attention-getting accent wall in small or big doses. Connect them in any configuration you like. They just stick to the walls. The panels change colors, and you can sync the lights to music and also with one of your AI’s, Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. The panels are touch-sensitive so with a tap you can turn them on and off, dim them, or change the color.

Statement Refrigerators

Refrigerators just keep getting smarter. LG’s new InstaView ThinQ smart refrigerator features a 29-inch touchscreen that becomes transparent if you knock on it twice. You can also use the touchscreen to manage your food and get automatic reminders when items are running low.

Photo credit: LG

Photo credit: LG

Samsung has a similar model in appearance with its 2018 version of its Family Hub smart refrigerator. This year’s model offers support for Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant to handle voice commands. It can connect to other third-party devices for the smart home too. So you can actually view what’s happening outside your front door from your refrigerator door.

Photo credit: Samsung

Photo credit: Samsung

Notice both the Samsung and LG models are both featured in black stainless, which we still believe will be a growing competitor to traditional stainless steel.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall … 

Photo credit: Kohler

Photo credit: Kohler

Check out this smart mirror. Kohler is introducing a new Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which is a bathroom mirror that has Amazon’s Alexa built-in. It features a dual-microphone solution for accuracy in voice-control and speakers are housed in the casings. There is also a motion-activated wayfinding nightlight for safety, and LED lights for makeup application or other grooming needs. It can also communicate with other connected products in your Wi-Fi network.

Is that an AI in your ceiling? 

Photo credit: GE

Photo credit: GE

Talk with your ceiling lights. You’ll be able to with GE’s Smart Ceiling Fixture. It is a large disk that boasts a speaker in the middle. You can give it voice-driven tasks on anything, like adding an item to your grocery list or telling it to play music. You can also tell it to adjust the warmness or coolness of the lights. It responds to your commands. Flush mount or recessed can lighting options will be available.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine’s award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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

 

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When to Drop Your Listing Price

Daily Real Estate News |

Though low inventory is prompting buyers to raise their offers in order to beat out competitors, you still want your sellers to know: an overpriced listing will linger on the market. Buyers pay attention to time on market and may erroneously assume something is wrong with a property that has gone “stale.” Real estate pros say it’s critical to determine what time frame is considered stale in your market and drop the price of your listing before getting to that pivotal moment.

“I typically drop the price after the second week on the market, usually in $5,000 to $10,000 increments,” says Laura Barnett, CRS, GRI, a sales associate with RE/MAX DFW Associates in Coppell, Texas. “But I may be more aggressive than most.” Price cuts in the hot Dallas-area market, where Barnett works, haven’t been common lately, she says. But “there is a strange change that is in the air, and sellers are starting to have to become more humble. I would not say it is a buyer’s market, but a new balance between buyers and sellers has been hitting us since August.”

Soaring home prices may make buyers pause, but houses are still selling fast. Nationwide, the average time a home spent on the market was 34 days in September, down from 39 days a year prior, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Some sellers may be adamant about “testing the market” with a high asking price, so you should have a game plan for what to do if it backfires. “I don’t believe in testing the market, but if we enter the market [with a list price] pushing the top of the range, we can easily gauge response within seven to 10 days,” says Dana Rice, a sales associate with Compass in Washington, D.C. “It’s almost a certainty that if we don’t get an offer within that first 10-day period, then we’ve missed the mark.”

Rice says she’s seen sellers do a rapid price adjustment that can then result in a quicker sale. You can “bring those same buyers back—the ones who liked the property in the first place and who will view the price adjustment as ‘the seller is listening to me,’” she says.

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

 

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