Stunning Ceilings: The Latest Eye Candy for the 5th Wall

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Ceilings are too often the plain Jane element of a home, but they can really assume a starring role and transform a space with minimal effort and expense. See how different options, from millwork to lighting, different shapes, paint, and even wallpaper, can make the 5th wall of a room really pop, which is especially important when you’re selling your home!

Erin Powell, design director and principal at RoOomy, an online staging firm out of San Jose, California, says that a well-planned ceiling treatment can help a listing stand out. “It usually won’t make or break a purchase, but it opens up the chance to make a buyer more interested,” she says.

Here are five ways to showcase a ceiling. Use them sparingly—certainly not in every room—to avoid visual confusion. “Otherwise, the concept may lose its specialness,” Pickell says.

dark blue ceiling

© Sherwin-Williams

Paint

This is the least expensive way to make a ceiling stand out and alter its look without major architectural change. New homes often feature the same white color on walls and ceilings, but painting the ceiling slightly lighter than what’s used on the walls to add depth. Steering clear of bold colors, though, except maybe in children’s rooms or media rooms.

Darker colors on a ceiling can create a cozy, almost a cocoonish, feeling, which can be paired with white trim to keep the overall feeling from seeming too heavy.  Sometimes, a wildly unexpected hue can be the easiest way to update a room. Go with flat or matte finishes to hide imperfections and produce a polished, clean look for any color choice. Otherwise, painting the ceiling is no different from painting walls.

Wallpapered ceiling

© Emily Gilbert

Wallpaper – Yes Really!

While many see this option as something of a throwback, wallpaper has found favor among more design professionals of late and for multiple reasons. “A graphic paper can define an activity area in an open-plan space; colorfully patterned papers can pull together a palette in a room, and gold, silver, or pewter leaf paper, which we use often, add stature, drama, and radiance when coupled with the right kind of lighting,” says Chicago-based designer Jessica LaGrange. “Wallpaper can hide cosmetic blemishes or introduce pattern in rooms where all the walls are taken such as a kitchen or family area with copious cabinetry.”

vaulted ceiling

© Lexington Homes

Shape

Ceilings don’t have to be a flat plane, though it’s certainly easier and less costly to make this decision before construction or during a major remodeling and in a one-story space. Coffered ceiling treatments are attracting a lot of attention these days among consumers. That could mean a pitched, vaulted, or arched shape that rises upward and provides a greater sense of airiness, drama, and light.

ceiling with millwork

© Emily Gilbert

Use of woodwork is another way to vary the “shape” of a ceiling.  Use of such an architectural trim, especially when wider and thicker, can make a house look more luxurious. It can also be used in more elaborate ways, for instance in recessed grids for a coffered effect or in one large central portion that’s recessed and higher, in what’s called a tray design. Merritt, in Mentor, Ohio, often designs these complex arrangements of wood in clients’ homes. The company recently fashioned an elaborate grid pattern from American white oak for a large Hamptons, N.Y., home. Haver and Skolnik Architects, in Roxbury, Conn., known for building and renovating traditional homes, frequently uses beams and other millwork to add coziness and an aged character.

But simpler uses of crown molding or ceiling trim can achieve effects such as unifying adjoining rooms for less than $1,000, says Julie Whitley, director of architecture design at homebuilder Red Seal Development Corp. in Northbrook, Ill. One DIY technique that’s attracted wide attention and adds an updated farmhouse feel is to use shiplap, basically manufactured boards with grooves that fit together snugly. The look picked up steam after celebrity TV couple Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” show began using them in countless projects, including on ceilings. For a more modern vibe, Zuber of Morgante Wilson Architects recommends trim with an angled or slanted profile rather than straight rectangular boards.

ceiling lights

© RoOomy Virtual Staging

Lighting

Ceiling lights have changed A LOT in recent years. In general, oversized fixtures are more on trend, along with ceiling fans with lights built in, and almost all bulbs are LEDs for better performance, greater efficiency, and new smart-home applications, says Joe Rey-Barreau, an architect, lighting designer, and education consultant for the American Lighting Association. Among some of the new LED uses are in linear strips that can be installed easily inside or on top of cabinets, in bookshelves, along toe kicks in kitchens and baths, and in ceiling coves and cornices. For sellers who want (or need!) to update fixtures before listing to improve how rooms show, Rey-Barreau says the number of attractive, affordable options has increased – which is great because simply changing lights from the outdated brassy look to more modern, clean lights can make a world of differnce. Affordability is especially helpful though, if sellers leave such upgrades behind, which typically is part of the sales contract.

Have a question about enhancing your “5th walls”? I’m always ready with opinions and advice on the latest trends and on what buyers are looking for if you’re considering selling! So don’t hesitate to get in touch. 🙂

5 Real Estate Reality TV Myths Explained

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Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there, watching entire seasons of “Love it or List it,” “Million Dollar Listing,” “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” and so many more all in one sitting.

When you’re in the middle of your real estate themed show marathon, you might start to think that everything you see on TV must be how it works in real life, but you may need a reality check.

Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life:

Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and decide to purchase one of them.
Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search.  

Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.
Truth: Everything is staged for TV. Many of the homes being shown are already sold and are off the market. 

Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.
Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy. 

Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the open house.
Truth: Of course, this would be great!  The dirty little secret is that while open houses can get you exposure to buyers interested in your area, they rarely if ever help sell the actual house itself. I’d say 99% of the time, homes are sold during regular showing appointments, not open houses. 

Myth #5: Homeowners decide to sell their homes after a 5-minute conversation.
Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives/goals.

Bottom Line

Having an experienced professional on your side while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee that you can make the home of your dreams a reality!  I happen to know a very good and experienced real estate professional too – of course, that’s me. So if you’ve been having that American dream of homeownership, let’s get that done for you in real life!

Why Have Interest Rates Jumped to a 7-Year High?

Did you get that Van Halen song Jump! in your head when you read that title?? It was on purpose! Seriously though, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have climbed from 3.95% in the first week of January up to 4.61% last week, which marks a 7-year high according to Freddie Mac. The current pace of acceleration has been fueled by many factors.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, had this to say:

“Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week.

Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season.”

But what do gas prices have to do with interest rates?

Investopedia explains the relationship like this:

“The price of oil and inflation are often seen as being connected in a cause-and-effect relationship. As oil prices move up or down, inflation follows in the same direction.”

You may have noticed that filling your gas tank has become substantially more expensive in recent months. The average national gas price has climbed nearly $0.50 from the beginning of the year, leading to the highest price for Memorial Day weekend since 2014.

As rates go up, your purchasing power goes down, but don’t worry; rates are still well below the averages we’ve seen over the last four decades.

“Freddie Mac said this year’s higher rates have not yet caused much of a ripple in the strong demand levels for buying a home seen in most markets, but inflationary pressures and the prospect of rates approaching 5 percent could begin to hit the psyche of some prospective buyers.”

Buying sooner rather than later will help lock in a lower rate than waiting, as the experts believe rates will continue to climb. Even a small increase in interest rates can have a big impact on your monthly housing cost.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on buying a home this year, keep an eye on gas prices the next time you’re at the pump. If you start to feel a big jump in price, know that rates are probably on their way up, too.  Call me if you have questions about any of this, I’m always ready to talk about real estate!

The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW!

 

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If you are debating whether or not to list your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait!

Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace the Supply of Homes for Sale

The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently commented on the current lack of inventory:

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season – as evidenced again by last month’s weak reading – was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand. 

That is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”

The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market, and 6.1% lower than last year’s inventory level.

The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced over the last 12 months:

The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW! | MyKCM

Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a “seller’s market.”

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss the market conditions in your neighborhood so that I can assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing, and able to buy right now!  The 2018 Summer selling season is ending soon so if you want to make a move quickly, it would be best to make a move now! Give me a shout!

Mortgage Lingo Made Easy

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Buying a home can feel overwhelming, especially when you add in the loan lingo used by lenders and real estate agents, according to Alex Parker, sales manager at Home Team Mortgage – Ebby Halliday Realtors’ affiliated mortgage source (he’s a smart guy!). To help alleviate some of the confusion, below are some common terms frequently used in the mortgage process:

FHA Mortgage

FHA is a type of mortgage that offers lower down payments, allows for lower credit scores and less income to qualify. These mortgages are government backed by the Federal Housing Administration, hence the FHA acronym!

VA Mortgage

VA mortgages are loans that can only be used by qualified veterans, active-duty military personnel and reservists. These loans require no down payment and are guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs. They are a great benefit to our brave military population!

Conventional Mortgage

Conventional mortgages are loans offering a wide range of options for borrowers. Some features may include monthly or single premium mortgage insurance, second liens, and higher loan amounts.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

This is a mortgage loan for which the interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. The principal and interest payment does not vary. As with every loan, the escrowed portion of the payment may fluctuate up or down depending on the property tax or homeowner’s insurance changes. Most mortgages in our market place are fixed rate mortgages, meaning that regardless of whether they are FHA, VA or conventional, they have a fixed rate.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

This is a mortgage loan for which the interest rate may change annually, often after a set number of years (for example, 5 years). ARMs are tied to indexes which are used to determine changing rates to align with the current market. The principal and interest payment may vary up or down, along with the escrowed portion of the payment.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The APR illustrates the annual cost of financing, including interest rate, fees and charges and is expressed as an annual interest rate. Because you may be paying loan discount points and other prepaid finance charges at closing, the APR disclosed is very often higher than the interest rate on your loan. This APR can be compared to the APR on other loan programs to give you a consistent means of comparing rates and programs.

Pre-Qualification

A process by which a lender assesses whether a borrower qualifies for a mortgage based on information provided by the customer. Typically, a prequalification is an INFORMAL review as a preemptive to pre-approval and full loan approval.

Pre-Approval

A process by which a lender verifies information including credit, income and asset information to assure the borrowers qualify for the mortgage. A pre-approval is more FORMAL and is much more powerful in negotiating as it provides peace of mind for buyers, sellers and agents.

To learn more about the mortgage process and to determine how much you qualify to borrow for a home purchase, contact me and I’ll get you some great mortgage contacts who can help set you on the right path to homeownership or to a new home!

Homes are More Affordable Today Than They Were 20 Years Ago!

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With both home prices and mortgage rates increasing this year, there’s a lot of concern about our continued ability to purchase a major part of the American Dream – owning a home, especially for first-time homebuyers. However, if you look at some stats and compare housing affordability today to what it was in the late 1900’s and early 2000’s, you can see that we’re actually in much better shape than a lot of what the hype out there might have you believe!

In Black Knight’s latest monthly Mortgage Monitor, they revealed that in the vast majority of the country, it is actually more affordable to purchase a home today than it was between 1995 to 2003 when looking at mortgage payments (determined by price and interest rate) compared to incomes. Yes, it is true that home prices are up compared to 1995-2003, BUT mortgage rates are still much lower now than they were at that time. Today, they stand at about 4.5%…compare these to today’s rate, and you’ll see that things are pretty good…

  • 1995 – 7.93%
  • 1996 – 7.81%
  • 1997 – 7.6%
  • 1998 – 6.94%
  • 1999 – 7.44%
  • 2000 – 8.05%
  • 2001 – 6.97%
  • 2002 – 6.54%
  • 2003 – 5.83%

In addition, wages have risen over the last twenty years.  Black Knight’s research revealed that, when comparing “the share of median income required to buy the median-priced home” today to the average between 1995 to 2003, it is currently more affordable to purchase a home in most areas of these fabulous United States, specifically in 44 of 50 states.

Here’s a state map of the percentage change in the price-to-payment ratio. Positive numbers indicate that it is less affordable to buy (shown in RED), while negative numbers indicate that it is more affordable (showing in light and dark BLUE).

Homes are More Affordable in 44 out of 50 States | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Whether you’re moving up to the home of your dreams or purchasing your first house, it is a great time to buy!  And that isn’t just this realtor talking, that’s based on FACTS and historic affordability data. 🙂  Want to know more about what’s going on in the market?  Get in touch with me, I’m always ready to talk real estate!

Getting Pre-Approved Should Always Be Your First Step

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In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes is way more than the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you’re serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you’re in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a real estate pro (like me!) is that we generally have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you’ve selected a lender, you’ll need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you’ll be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you’re ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to get that home you’ve been dreaming about, so give me a call and let’s start strategizing about your home search!

 

The Future is Bright for the Ebby Halliday Companies!

I’m not sure if you’ve heard this or not, but some big news just hit the wires, and it involves a company you might have heard of – Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc. 😉  The news story was presented in this way: “The company leadership recently announced that it intends to be acquired by HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. The acquisition will include Ebby’s three real estate brands: Ebby Halliday Realtors, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, and Williams Trew Real Estate, as well as the firm’s affiliated mortgage and title companies. The Ebby Halliday companies will continue to operate under their current brand names. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.” I myself am sad about that, I would’ve loved to know the sale price! Inquiring minds want to know! I guess we never will, but I bet it was more than the average sale price of a home in North Texas, that’s for sure! 😉

As you know, the brokerage that I’m proud to call my broker has been serving North Texas residents since 1945, and Ebby Halliday is one of the country’s most widely respected real estate companies. With sales of more than $8 billion, the firm ranked 12th in the nation in 2017. With our memberships in Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Luxury Portfolio International, Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, and numerous other industry networks, agents of Ebby Halliday are ideally and uniquely positioned to represent clients across North Texas.

Mary Frances Burleson, the current President of Ebby Halliday, Inc. described the company purchasing Ebby in the following way: “HomeServices of America is the nation’s second-largest residential real estate brokerage company and one of the largest providers of integrated real estate services. HomeServices of America is the owner of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Real Living Real Estate and Prudential Real Estate franchise networks.”

The Ebby Halliday purchase won’t change anything in the short term. The long-term vision, I’m not completely sure of, but one thing I am sure of is that regardless of what company owns Ebby Halliday, I as an agent will continue to serve my clients as I always have – with hustle and heart and integrity and stellar communication, if I do say so myself!  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

3 Floor Plan Fads You’ll See More Often

Home floor plans can take much longer to evolve than design trends. Changes tend to occur over years, as some designers and architects look to push the envelope and take a gamble on what they believe will resonate with buyers. But a few trends are starting to emerge.

BUILDER recently weighed in on some of the hottest fads that could impact more floor plans in 2018, including:

1. Flexibility for multigenerational households. More homes are being built to accommodate multigenerational households, such as with a main-level bedroom suite or even an in-law unit to offer privacy to cohabiting relatives. Flexible layouts that can accommodate a variety of living arrangements are growing in demand, builders say. In 2014, 60.6 million Americans resided in multigenerational households, according to the Pew Research Center. Homeowners may not need the extra space quite yet, but they desire to use it one day. The extra bedroom on the main floor may be outfitted as an office or study until it’s needed. This is something that a lot of buyers are looking for and it’s not super easy to find yet!

2. The modern farmhouse. White “farmhouse” designs are in high demand. These homes are 90-2characterized by large windows, simple roof lines, and bright white siding that may be paired with dark windows. “The modern farmhouse aesthetic seems to have struck a chord with the American home buyer because it relates back to a more bucolic era while also embracing all the needs of modern life,” says Jonathan Hyman, architectural department manager at Donald A. Gardner Architects. “The simplicity and clean lines, along with a little nostalgia, help the modern farmhouse create a relaxing environment in our chaotic contemporary lives.” Some designers are experimenting with adding more color to the farmhouse look, like in soft pastels of light green or soft tan colors.

3. Greater storage options. Storage is getting more emphasis on floor plans. This is probably one of the things I hear most from homebuyers – we need lots of storage! Mudrooms and laundry areas are showing up on more home layouts as separate spaces rather than combined areas. Homes with open layouts are finding more need for storage to tuck away items. Mudrooms are popular as drop zones for backpacks, coats, and shoes. Also, the placement of this storage is getting more consideration in regards to homeowners’ lifestyles. For example, some layouts from the Nelson Design Group in Jonesboro, Ark., feature master bedroom closets that open directly into the laundry room.  I also see built-in cabinets just inside garage doors a lot – these are great for backpacks, coats and purses too, and are very popular with homebuyers!

Want to talk more about home trends, or what you might be looking for in a new home?? I’m just a phone call away!

Source: “The Top Five Trends in Floor Plans,” BUILDER (March 6, 2018)

LUXESELECT: Homes for $5 Million Plus

LuxeSelect is a monthly feature showcasing homes from Luxury Portfolio International® members around the world starting at $5 million USD. I thought you would find this interesting because, after all, who doesn’t love to look at BEAUTIFUL homes?!  Take a look by clicking on the website links provided…and I challenge you not to envy the lifestyles of the rich as you do!  I have to say that I especially like the one without the price even listed, it’s “Price Upon Request”. I think I’ve only seen that at a restaurant (and it scares me)! 😉


Web ID: MIWB

EXTRAORDINARY HOME ON EXCLUSIVE LONG NECK POINT | $8,495,000

Houlihan Lawrence
Janine T./Doug M. — +1 203 246 7518
Darien, CT

Sweeping views of Noroton Bay & New York City’s skyline await at this stunning Nantucket Colonial set high on Darien’s exclusive Long Neck Point. Windows galore offer views of the Long Island Sound and 158′ of direct waterfront. Soaring ceilings brighten the kitchen & family room, with French doors to a spacious terrace for watching unforgettable sunsets. Master suite includes fireplace & private deck: the perfect place to start or end your day. WEB ID: MIWB


Web ID: RRMU

WATERFRONT VILLA IN PORTO ROTONDO  |  PRICE UPON REQUEST

Immobilsarda
John T. Bracco — +39 348 748 4890
Porto Rotondo, Sardinia, Italy
WEB ID: RRMU

Web ID: YPHC

EXCEPTIONAL PROPERTY SURROUNDED BY MAIDSTONE CLUB  |  $13,250,000

Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales – The Hamptons
Martha P. Gundersen — +1 631 903 6131
East Hampton Village, NY
WEB ID: YPHC

Web ID: FFMW

EXPERIENCE PERFECTION: 16140 MATILIJA DRIVE  |  $10,700,000

Alain Pinel Realtors
Sandhya Murthy — +1 510 304 2703
Los Gatos, CA
WEB ID: FFMW

Web ID: DWXW

MAJESTIC EUROPEAN GATED ESTATE  |  $8,850,000

Harry Norman, REALTORS
Patty Webb — +1 404 414 7644
Atlanta, GA
WEB ID: DWXW

Web ID: DDGU

EXPERIENCE THE ULTIMATE WATERFRONT LIFESTYLE  |  $8,500,000

Robert Paul Properties
Robert Kinlin — +1 508 648 2739
Osterville, Cape Cod, MA
WEB ID: DDGU

Web ID: SPTB

A BREATHTAKING VIEW IN SAINT BARTHELEMY  |  $8,000,000

Sibarth Real Estate
Christian Wattiau — +59 059 029 8891
St Jean, Saint Barthelemy
WEB ID: SPTB

Web ID: QFYW

PRISTINE THREE BEDROOM CONDOMINIUM ON CENTRAL PARK  |  $7,995,000

Stribling & Associates
Charlotte Van Doren — +1 212 585 4521
New York, NY
WEB ID: QFYW

Web ID: ALIC

MAGNIFICENT HOME EXUDES ELEGANCE  |  $6,900,000

Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales – The Hamptons
Martha P. Gundersen — +1 631 903 6131
East Hampton Village, NY
WEB ID: ALIC

Now if you are interested in something priced at this level in the Dallas area, I’m more than happy to help, or if you prefer a little more reasonably priced home, give me a call for that too, of course! 🙂

-Heather

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