5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Homeowner Should Make for 2017

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2016 is coming to a close, and with the new year just around the corner, people across the world are gearing up to set their intentions for the upcoming year in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. And while you’re bound to make at least one standard resolution (like “finally get in shape” or “eat more vegetables”), as a homeowner, there are some home-specific resolutions you’ll want to think about to get the most out of your property and the experience of owning a home this upcoming year.

Here are 5 New Year’s Resolutions every homeowner should make for 2017:

1. Bump Up Your Mortgage Payments

If you have any sort of expendable income in 2017, you might want to think about putting it towards your mortgage. Making extra payments on your mortgage can have a huge impact on the total you end up paying out over the course of the loan. It can also shorten the amount of time you’ll be saddled with payments and can have you owning your house free and clear sooner than you expected.

The more you can contribute, the better. But even if you can only make a few extra payments per year – do it. Those extra dollars will add up and end up saving you serious dollars in interest over the course of your mortgage.

Create a 2017 budget and look for any areas where you can shave a few dollars, like your daily trip to the coffeehouse or an expensive gym membership. Then, re-purpose that cash and put it towards paying down your mortgage faster.

2. Explore Refinancing

2016 saw near record low interest rates on mortgages, and while they’ve slowly crept up towards the end of the year (current rates are around 4%), they’re still HALF of the average interest rates over the past 40 years (which averaged at 8.45%).

If you haven’t refinanced your mortgage recently, now is the time to do it. With a new president taking office, the economy may shift, and interest rates may rise.

Talk to your loan officer about refinancing and getting a lower interest rate. And if you’re in a variable rate mortgage, shift over to a fixed rate mortgage and lock in the low interest rates while you can.

3. Review and Renew Your Homeowners Insurance

A lot of homeowners roll over their insurance year to year, but if you haven’t reviewed your policy in a while, you might be missing out on some money-saving opportunities.

Shop around and get quotes to see what rates are competitive in the current market and if you’re paying more, see if your current company will match the lowest quote. If you have a stand-alone policy, think about bundling your auto and homeowners insurance with one company. Insurance companies will often offer discounts for customers who hold multiple policies. If you’ve made any major improvements to your home that could impact the insurability of your house (like clearing trees, installing a high tech security system or adding storm reinforcements), let your agent know. Improvements can often lower your premiums.

4. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

While spring is traditionally the time for organizing (in the form of “spring cleaning”), there’s no better time for a fresh start – and a more organized home – than the New Year.

Cleaning out closets, getting rid of things you no longer want or need and taking a more minimalist approach to life can have huge benefits. Not only will your home look better, but you’ll also FEEL better as a result. Messy, cluttered homes can cause increased stress and anxiety, making it much harder to relax and enjoy your space. Clutter has also been shown to decrease creativity, productivity and focus, so if you want to have a happy and productive 2017, it’s time for the stuff to go.

Plan a day to go through all of your closets, cabinets and storage space. If you’re not actively using something, get rid of it. The benefits you’ll reap from decluttering will far outweigh the value of the things you get rid of.

5. Get Up To Speed On Safety

The new year is the perfect time to review the current state of your property and take any precautions necessary to ensure that you’re safe in the upcoming year.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace them if necessary. Check your house for radon, a common, carcinogenic gas that can increase your chance of lung cancer (you can pick up a radon testing kit at the hardware store for less than $10). Meet with your family to review emergency evacuation plans in case of a fire, flood or other emergencies.

With these 5 resolutions, you’ll get the most out of your property – and of owning your home – in 2017 and beyond.

A Trendy Solution for Home Interiors: The Barn Door

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By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Sliding barn doors can add a modern twist to an interior space. Malte Strauss, broker and owner of Trust International Real Estate LLC in Deltona, Fla., says the barn door trend has caught on in central Florida.

“They are great for locations where a swinging door would infringe on the space and where there is not a conventional doorway,” Strauss says. “We use them all the time in master bathrooms where there is a vanity area that is separate from the tub commode area.”

They can also be a great solution in modernizing the vanity area of homes from the 1970s and 1980s, which tended to have the vanity in the master bedroom rather than in the bathroom. “Now we just close those off with a barn door and buyers love that solution,” Strauss says.

 

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Source:  Realtor.org

Three ways to ease your fears about making a move.

With low inventory in many markets throughout the country, many homeowners are afraid to sell their homes because they’re concerned that they may not be able to find a new one. This can be a real problem, but if you are seeking to sell—whether to upgrade or find a new neighborhood—there are a few ways to combat the low inventory.

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Look to buy first In most markets it is a real mistake to put your home up for sale before you start looking for your new property. Identify the geographic area where you are interested in buying. Even if you don’t see anything on Zillow, it doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t find the right home.

Think outside the box Be proactive! Keep in mind that there are probably many people like you who want to make a move but are afraid as well. Have your real estate agent send a letter to the neighborhoods in the geographic areas where you want to live. The letter should be heartfelt and personal while announcing that you are ready to buy a home in that neighborhood. You could find a home to buy that may not even be currently listed or for sale.

Protect yourself legally Each state varies in how the purchase process is conducted. Talk to your real estate professional about adding a clause in the purchase contract for the home you are selling that will enable you to not sell the home if you cannot find a suitable home to buy.

 

Five ideas that can dramatically improve your living room

Can’t seem to create a living room that feels quite right? Looking for some styling tips that will bring your living room up a notch? Here are five ideas that can dramatically improve your living room.

  1. Move the furniture away from the walls: The tendency is to place your furniture against the walls, but giving it a little room to breathe will make the seating area seem cozier while also making the room seem more spacious.
  2. Mix old and new pieces: Using the same furniture set to furnish an entire room can make it seem a bit sterile. Try mixing and matching different pieces and styles to give your living room a more eclectic feel.
  3. Keep everything low: Arranging photos and artwork lower on walls will make a room appear larger, and can also draw more attention to the pieces themselves.
  4. Place a bookshelf behind the sofa: It doesn’t have to be your entire personal library. Mix and match books with knick-knacks and other items to add some depth and texture to the space behind your sofa.
  5. Try a smaller coffee table: Your current coffee table is probably larger than it needs to be, and it may be dominating the room. Try downsizing to a table that can still hold magazines, a centerpiece, and a few drinks, but will also give you a bit more room to move around your furniture.

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Houzz TV: This Amazing Lake House Made a Couple’s Dream Come True

 

Karen and Grant Richards bought a 5-acre parcel of land between a creek and the shores of Lake Austin, in Texas, with the dream of building a home that would serve as a retreat from their careers in San Francisco and, someday, as a place where they could spend their retirement years enjoying the outdoors. They turned to architect Brian Comeaux of Lake Flato Architects to help them create a modern lakeside home. But quickly, the forward momentum of their dream came to an abrupt stop.

How to Organize Your Bedroom for Better Sleep

Rethink your nightstands, TV, once-worn clothing and more for restful nights of slumber

Imagine a clutter-free space dedicated to luxuriously restful slumber — a room where everything from the scent in the air to the sheets is carefully chosen to enhance feelings of relaxation, peace and (yawn…) sleep. You’ve got the blackout shades, now here are 10 little things, from bedtime rituals to smart storage solutions, to help turn your bedroom into the ultimate sleep cave.

 Source:  houzz

Barn-Style Never Looked So Elegant

Houzz Tour: Saddled-Up Chic for a Modern Barn-Style Home

 A mix of textures makes this family-friendly house comfy, welcoming and stylish

These homeowners found interior designer Tineke Triggs after admiring a very colorful room she’d completed for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase. “He called me up superexcited and said, ‘I loved your showcase room,’ but it was nothing like what I wound up doing for them,” Triggs says. Instead, a neutral color palette highlights brushed beadboard, rich saddle leathers, glittering brass accents, poofy faux fur and fringe — just a few of the textures the designer wound up weaving into this family-friendly modern barn-style house.
Source:  houzz