The tiny house phenomenon is a social movement of people who intentionally downsize their primary homes to under 750 square feet. Now for most households, especially those with children or extended family, a house of this size is not always practical. But have you ever considered making your second home a “tiny” one? Watch this video for a peek inside why some people choose to live in small dwellings against the backdrop of a bigger landscape.
Adults over the age of 45 are prioritizing peace of mind over wealth accumulation, according to a recent retirement survey from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, reports Time. By a margin of 7 to 1, today’s pre-retirees want a sense of well-being that comes with a sufficient and dependable income. The survey found that guaranteed income and asset protection were four times more important than achieving high-risk returns.
Creating sustainable income during the retirement years is a critical goal for many. Michael Fliegleman, a financial advisor with Strategic Wealth Advisors Networks, says in a Depositaccounts.com article that pre-retirees are interested in long-term income that is shielded from “increased taxes, inflation, health care costs, and market volatility.”
While money largely contributes to an overall peace of mind, other variables are important. David Tyrie, head of Personal Wealth & Retirement for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said in an email that “family well-being, health, and having fulfilling goals and purpose” are among the non-monetary factors. Indeed, the Merrill Lynch and Age Wave survey found that respondents identify social connections and family as critical to peace of mind.
Retirement presents a new challenge for many boomers, according to The Wall Street Journal. ”Boomers have always paved their own way, and are once again pioneering new territory,” said Andy Sieg, head of Global Wealth and Retirement Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “They share a strong view that retirement is not an end but a beginning, an opportunity for reinvention. Their perspectives, concerns, goals and how they plan to achieve them are different. What they seek is clarity and confidence about what is possible in the context of their hopes and myriad uncertainties.”
Completed in January 2013, the Merrill Lynch study is based on a nationwide survey of over 6,300 respondents age 45 and older.
The home inspection is an important part of the home buying and selling process. A detailed inspection report provides the following information — a thorough evaluation of the property’s condition, what is in good working order, what needs immediate repair or replacement, and issues that will need to be addressed in the future. For more information, check out www.ashi.com.
North America birthed its first “active” house in St. Louis, Mo. in March of this year. What is an “active” home? Essentially, it incorporates a comprehensive green design on the interior and exterior of the dwelling and uses a variety of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly practices and guidelines, according to Time. The “active” design is built to produce and conserve energy, whereas the “passive” house focuses on the latter.
But is the active home affordable for the average homebuyer? Matt Blecher, principal of Verdatek Solutions LLC, a specialist in green building who managed the project, noted that it must be affordable if the marketplace is going to support it. The St. Louis home cost about $500,000 to build, more than double the average listing price of homes for sale in the same area. However, prospective buyers can rest assured that running an active house should cost considerably less than keeping a traditional property that requires external power and energy sources.
David and Thuy Smith, owners of the Webster Groves house, say that their new residence fits right into the older, more traditional neighborhood, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Their active property has clapboard siding, a stone-trimmed foundation, and a wraparound porch with tapered Craftsman-style columns, proving that environmentally friendly housing can take both traditional and modern forms.
For pictures and more details of America’s first active home, check out the website, activehouseusa.com.
Follow these tips from Time to run your air conditioning units without breaking the household budget.
Container gardening is an easy option for households that want to bring color to their backyard or patio but have little time to invest in the care and maintenance of large landscape beds. Check out Martha Stewart’s tips for easy container planting.
Interest rates for 15- and 30-year fixed mortgages continue to stay low, reports CNN Money. Last year, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.07 percent, but last week, it dipped to 2.56 percent. The 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.35 percent, which is only a 0.04 percentage point above the record low of November 12, 2012.
These interest rates help both potential homebuyers and existing homeowners. Competitive rates help drive consumer demand for houses and increase prices. Over the last 12 months, the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index measured a 9 percent gain in residential property prices, enabling underwater homeowners to regain some of their lost equity.
Mortgage refinance applications have gone up. Last week, they jumped by 1.8 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, and accounted for nearly three-quarters of all home loan applications. HARP’s share of refinance applications was 34 percent last week, marking a high point since the MBA started tracking such applications in February 2012.
As of May 1, 2013, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) decreased to 3.60 percent, the lowest since December 2012′s rate of 3.65 percent. The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 2.84 percent, the lowest rate since December 2012′s rate of 2.89 percent.
Houses are moving at the highest prices the market has seen since May 2008, reports The Seattle Times.
King County homes sold at a median price of $400,000 in April. That’s 11.1 percent above last year’s level and 2 percent higher than that of March 2013, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. In Snohomish County, the median price for homes sold was $295,000, which is 15.5 percent higher than the median in April 2012.
A total of 3,221 single-family homes were listed for sale in King County last month, which is 35 percent lower than the inventory that was available the same time in 2012. The double-digit rise in home prices is not sustainable over time, says Glenn Crellin, associate director for research at the University of Washington’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies. What the market needs for price stability is a combination of new construction properties, additional homeowners willing to list their properties for sale, and the release of foreclosed homes by banks. For homeowners who are looking to make a move, now might be that time.
Need more information? Check out Trulia’s map for King County’s average list and median sales prices.
Preparing your home for sale requires staging, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. Staging is about showcasing the essential features of the property. To that end, remove those items — bulky furniture, personal items, and clutter — that impede prospective buyers from seeing the home’s potential. Follow these simple guidelines by Ilyce Glink to get started.
Lumber prices in North America are rising as the U.S. housing market recovers, Chinese demand continues, and Canada’s export of lumber is constrained due to a beetle infestation, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. In March, sales of new single-family properties jumped 1.5 percent, and housing starts rose to a 1.04 million annual rate, the fastest since 2008. According to the National Association of Builders, a 2,400-square-foot home in the U.S. typically requires about 14,400 board feet of softwood lumber.
The mills that slowed production as a result of the housing bubble are now starting to ramp up, but builders are challenged by the rising cost of materials. Construction companies are paying more for lumber and other materials used heavily in residential building. For example, the Toll Brothers Inc., the biggest U.S. luxury-home builder, paid approximately $3,000 more per home in material and labor costs in its fiscal first quarter ended January 13, with lumber comprising two-thirds of that additional expenditure.
Gerry Van Leeuwen, vice president at consultant International Wood Markets Group in Vancouver, said that “for the first time ever, we have a recovery in North American housing alongside a very robust China market, and Canada cannot go back to peak production any time soon.” The combination of these factors are causing prices to go up around the world.
According to Finance & Commerce, the cost of certain building materials went up by double digits in the past year. Gypsum products jumped 14 percent, lumber and plywood 10.8 percent, and architectural coatings including paint 10.1 percent. Passing off the higher material costs to buyers is easier to do in places where demand for new construction is high but tougher in regions where inventory of existing homes can meet consumer needs. With the current trend of rising home prices, however, builders are better able to handle the higher costs. Shawn Nelson, president of New Spaces, based in Burnsville, Minn., noted that builders will be “able to sell their homes at price points that make sense for them now.”