Financing is Out. Home Buying is in!

Month: March 2014

Are you thinking about refinancing your home this year?  Take a breather and listen to what the expert economists have to say about mortgage rates, housing starts, and new household creations in 2014.

Let’s take a look back.

When our economy was going through the housing boom, the U.S. was producing 1.4 million additional households every year.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, there is a significant pent-up demand to form households and even to build homes.  At least 3 million fewer households formed over the past five years than would normally have been expected.  During this period, many college graduates were forced to double-up or move in with their parents.

However, we have come an incredibly long way since then.  Over the past year, there has been a significant revival of single-family home production.

What does this mean for 2014?

Housing will continue its climb toward higher ground this year.  According to NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, consumer confidence has returned to pre-recession levels and year-over-year household formations are on the rise.  In fact, they are now averaging 620,000 compared to just 500,000 during the housing downturn.

There will be an upward pressure on mortgage rates this year, but don’t worry – it’s not enough to harm housing affordability.  As mortgage rates gradually rise, fewer homeowners will look to refinance. Also, purchase originations are expected to increase as the overall housing market strengthens.

“As we move into the 2014 home buying season, it will be a market dominated by home buying originations rather than refinance originations,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac.  “This will be the first time since 2000 that purchase originations will dominate the market.”

It’s easy to dream of perfectly pristine outdoor spaces when looking at the decks in magazines and online, but too often what we want and what we have don’t align. If your deck suffers from weathered wood, loose railings or dated balusters, you’re not alone. The good news is there are surprisingly simple ways to give your deck a facelift and transform it into the outdoor oasis you want in as little as one weekend.   Consider these five ways you can update your deck and grow your real estate value:

1. Add or update post caps

One of the easiest ways to add a dash of design and even some color and light to your deck is to update your post caps. If you currently have post caps, most can be removed by gently tapping them with a mallet. Then it’s an easy DIY project to add new post caps simply by using exterior construction adhesive. These decorative caps come in a variety of styles, including basic wood that can be stained to perfectly coordinate with your existing color scheme. If you want to add a bit more pizzazz to your outdoor space, try classic copper post caps or solar powered caps that illuminate once the sun sets.

2. Replace balusters

Balusters are connected to the railing vertically and provide an important safety feature. But they also add to the visual appeal of the deck and are a main feature in your line of sight. If your wood balusters are worn, you can instantly upgrade your outdoor space with new options. Metal balusters, for example, come in a variety of designs to match any home’s style – from contemporary to traditional. Have a stunning view from your deck? Enjoy uninterrupted sight lines with glass balusters that simultaneously maintain a deck’s safety and visual appeal.

3. Bring back deck boards

After seasons of changing weather and lots of foot traffic, your wood deck boards may be showing wear. Protect the integrity of the wood and refresh the look of your outdoor space by cleaning deck boards and giving them a new coat of paint or stain. Start by scrubbing or power spraying off dirt and grime, and then let wood dry thoroughly. Next, use stain or paint made specifically for decks to help protect the wood from the elements. Just as indoor paint transforms a room inside your home, new stain or paint on your deck boards will make your outdoor area look new and refreshed, making you feel like you have a whole new outdoor area.

4. Refresh railings

When it comes to deck railings, there are endless options to match any style or price point. You can go with an off-the-shelf product or customize one to fit your personal design aesthetic. For example, Deckorators co-extruded composite CXT railing is ultra-low maintenance and gives you the options to mix-and-match railings, posts, balusters and caps for a look that’s entirely your own. Not looking to do a full railing replacement? Sand down wood railings and apply a new coat of stain for an instant update.

5. Install lighting

A great deck will serve as an extension of your home both day and night, but if you don’t have proper lighting, you’ll be heading indoors once the sun goes down. Add visual appeal and an element of safety to your deck with easy DIY lighting options. Lighting on your stairs adds a splash of drama and makes it easy to get around. Balusters are an often-overlooked item that can provide a great lighting location too. Solar Baluster Lights install around 3/4-inch round balusters with nothing more than a Phillips screwdriver. Finally, Solar Accent Lights can be placed on posts to illuminate pathways and deck edges. Expanding a home’s livable space to the outdoors is a top home improvement trend. With these simple tips, your deck will find new life and you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of time outdoors with Mother Nature.