Why you need to plan your retirement lifestyle

November 28, 2014

in Tips

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Thinking about what you will do in retirement is not an activity you want to shortchange. Planning your retirement days puts you in the right frame of mind to retire. What would you like to do in retirement? You might want to golf, go out with friends, play bridge or all of the above. Not every fun activity will cost a ton of money, but you do need a bit saved so you won’t have to worry about where every dollar is going to come from. Think of how much the lifestyle will cost, and save enough to fund that dream life. Saving money isn’t a sacrifice, but a down payment on your future lifestyle. Maintaining a social calendar will prompt you to stay more active. Planning some actives and social engagements for retirement will give your days more meaning and leave you more satisfied. Once you know how your days will generally be filled, then it’s much easier to estimate how much to save for retirement. [Read this article]

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New study reveals what buyers want in an energy-efficient home

November 28, 2014

in Green Living

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Builder Magazine’s tenth annual Energy Pulse study (a national study performed with 2,009 Americans that mirror the U.S. population) found that the percent of respondents saying they are likely to buy or build a new home has remained consistent over the past three years, hovering at around 15 percent. Respondents who were likely to buy/build a new home were asked, “In comparing two homes for purchase, how much would energy efficiency impact your choice, assuming other features like price, size, location and major amenities were comparable?” Consistent with previous years, 80 percent responded that energy efficiency would have somewhat to very much impact on their selection decision. Seventy-one percent of potential new home buyers said they were likely to very likely to pay more for a high-performance home. [Read this article]

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Could decline in median new-home size herald return of entry-level buyers?

November 21, 2014

in News

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Newly built, single-family homes in the U.S. finally are getting smaller, a sign that a long-awaited shift of builders to slightly smaller, more affordable homes likely has started. Commerce Department data shows the median size of a single-family home built in the third quarter was 2,414 square feet, down 2.3% from the second quarter measure of 2,472. The third-quarter figure is the lowest since 2012’s fourth quarter, and it is the second consecutive quarterly decline following a 0.2% drop in this year’s second quarter. And early signs are emerging that entry-level buyers are coming back. Construction starts for single-family homes increased by 4.2% from a year earlier. The most likely source for that greater volume of starts is entry-level buyers. The median new-home size now stands 3% below its recent high of 2,491 square feet in the third quarter of 2013. [Read this article]

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Gradual U.S. housing recovery on track as single-family starts rise

November 19, 2014

in News

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Starts for U.S. single-family homes rose for a second straight month in October and building permits neared a 6-1/2-year high, suggesting the housing market was still on a recovery path. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday groundbreaking for single-family homes, which account for more than two-thirds of the market, increased 4.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted 696,000-unit annual pace, the highest since last November. At the same time, permits for single- and multi-family housing jumped 4.8 percent to a 1.08 million-unit pace, the highest since June 2008. It also was the second straight monthly gain. A separate report from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed applications for loans to purchase homes surged last week as low rates lured potential buyers. [Read this article]

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6 tips to organize your home in the new year

November 18, 2014

in Tips

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Top on everyone’s list in the new year: Get organized. But a carload of organizational supplies can be pricey. And those professional closet-and-garage organizers don’t come cheap. Luckily, you can pull it together yourself without spending a bundle. The trick: Maximize your efforts by setting up a home that’s designed for how you truly live. Not how you wish you lived. From here on out, when you do buy something new, evaluate how it serves your new, organized life. And keep an eye out for items that do double duty by adding a little extra storage, in addition to their main purpose. Here are six tips from pros who know how to make organization easy and beautiful without spending a fortune. [Read this article]

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Expanding a kid’s ideas about ‘home’

November 18, 2014

in News

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A classic theory of cognitive development says that as a kid grows up, her sense of membership in the world grows outward. A new app from Tinybop Inc encourages that growing worldview. Recommended for ages four and up, “Homes” invites open-ended exploration of how kids “live, sleep, eat, and play in unique households around the world”: A Brooklyn brownstone, a Guatemalan adobe house, a Mongolian yurt, and a Yemeni tower house, each cozy and inviting in their own way. In Homes’ interiors and exteriors, users can click, drag, and interact with domestic objects, some familiar to Western hands (checkers, books, and dolls are common appearances) and some less so: Firewood to load into a cookstove, as in the adobe; shears to clip sheep fur as at the yurt. “Homes” invites users young and old to imagine ourselves at home somewhere distant yet cozy, foreign yet not – an expanded sense of what it means to be a member of the world. [Read this article]

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Selling your home: how to accessorize a small living room

November 17, 2014

in Tips

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The living room is the heart of most homes, so it’s a crucial space to stage when you’re preparing to sell. The first thing you need to consider is the scale of your sofa and coffee table, said Mark Neuwirth, a senior associate real estate broker at Coldwell Banker Bellmarc in Manhattan. “It’s very important for the coffee table and couch to be appropriately sized for the space,” he said. If you have a modest-size room, he said, big furniture can make it look even smaller. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen living rooms overwhelmed with big pieces,” he said. That can create a negative impression at showings, and in your listing photos as well, which could result in potential buyers ruling out your home without ever seeing it in person. Assuming the furniture is the right size for the room, you can turn your attention to accessories. [Read this article]

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Housing markets inch toward full recovery

November 12, 2014

in News

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Markets in 59 of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the third quarter of 2014, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index. This represents a year-over-year net gain of seven markets. The index’s nationwide score moved up slightly from .89 in the second quarter to .90, meaning that based on current permit, price and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 90 percent of normal economic and housing activity. Meanwhile, 66 percent of markets have shown an improvement year-over-year. “The markets are recovering at a slow, gradual pace,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. “Continued job creation, economic growth and increasing consumer confidence should help spur pent-up demand for housing.” [Read this article]

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Selling your home: 6 cautions about overimproving

November 12, 2014

in Tips

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Can your home ever be too nice? Turns out, the answer is yes. Call it the curse of overimproving: sinking so much into upgrades, renovations or additions that you’ve burned off nearly all the equity of your home. When you sell, you “never get 100 cents on the dollar, no matter what the improvement,” says Erik H. Reisner, managing partner of Mad River Valley Real Estate in Vermont. “It may increase the value of the property, but not dollar for dollar.” That means homeowners need to be careful when they plan home improvements, renovations or additions. If it’s for your own use or helps you get more time in the house (like adding a first-floor bedroom), that’s smart. But if your sole purpose is to increase your home price or even “get it back at resale,” forget it. Want to be wise with your renovation dollars? Here are six points to consider. [Read this article]

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How to change your life by decluttering

November 12, 2014

in Tips

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It sounds like hyperbole, but for devotees of the KonMari Method of housecleaning, pioneered by Marie Kondo (who named it after herself), it’s reality. Kondo, author of the book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” preaches dramatic reorganization. Kondo’s advice gets to the psychological via the physical. By surrounding yourself with only the things that you love, your life is transformed. Kondo suggests holding “tidying marathons,” because doing as much as you can in one chunk of time will help change your mind-set. She suggests aiming for perfection because, she says, doing a little at a time and aiming low leads to a lack of confidence about tidying. And she suggests discarding “all at once, intensely and completely” before you even begin to clean and organize, so you’ll be starting with a less complicated slate. [Read this article]

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