Archive for January, 2014

Top Architecture Trends For 2014

Friday, January 24th, 2014

New home construction has seen consistent growth in the last three years and sales of new homes are expected to increase by about 16 percent, or 580,000 homes, in 2014, according to Kiplinger’s Economic Outlooks and as more homes are built, new architecture trends will begin to appear — slowly.

“Building is not an industry where big changes happen really fast,” said Amy Albert, editor of Custom Home Online. ”Things happen over time.”

Still, Albert named five home-design elements she expects to see more often in 2014:

1. Tranquility

More homeowners are seeing their homes as a place to get away from it all and relax, especially in certain rooms — particularly the bathroom. “The spa bathroom is really big as a result of more people traveling to nice hotels,”  Albert said. In 2014, we’re likely to see bathrooms with walk-in showers, roomy bathtubs and tranquil designs become a big trend for homeowners.


2. Mission Control

In the past the kitchen was often built at the back of the house, attached to the garage, and away from high traffic areas, but that tradition is changing. In 2014 we’ll see the kitchen as a focal point of the house, often placed in the center of an open floor plan, especially as more homeowners start to use their kitchen space as a multitasking room, or as Albert calls it, “mission control.” By having the kitchen centered and open, parents can help children with homework, talk or pay bills — all while making meals.

3. Traditional Design

While “midcentury modern design is thriving” and will continue to do so in 2014, more homeowners are looking at traditional home styles, Albert said. For example, Craftsman homes with large porches, front columns and detailed gables will make a comeback in 2014. Queen Anne-style homes with asymmetrical facades and detailed gables may also see a resurgence. However, attention to detail will be important as homeowners look for exact replicas of the original styles.


4. Passive Homes

More U.S.-based architects are expected to include passive-house elements in their 2014 designs. Originally a European design, a passive house is built to work with the climate. For example, its roof may be pitched to make use of wind power, or it could have large windows installed to attract sunlight that heats the home. A passive-house design can slash energy consumption by up to 90 percent, according to Passive House Institute U.S.

5. Flex Rooms

Between the recession and the growing number of senior citizens in the United States, more households are becoming multigenerational. That change is leading to a developing trend in home building – flex rooms. Typically bedrooms, flex rooms are designed to give more privacy to larger families and usually include a separate space such as a reading area or study off the main bedroom area. These rooms may also be built with a change in mind. “Many flex spaces include a private entrance, which could later become a rental unit,” Albert said

Home Equity Loans are back. Is it safe to borrow now?

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Is the home equity loan becoming a viable option again for homeowners? The housing boom led to a run on these loans against the value of a house, but recent years saw some homeowners left with little to no equity to borrow against. Now – as home values get stronger – it seems things are shifting once again. If you need money to make some renovations on your home or consolidate debt, a home equity loan can help. Interest rates are often lower than credit cards and unlike credit card interest, home equity loan interest is often tax deductible.

Rising Prices Bring Equity Back

A combination of rising demand along with fewer available homes has lifted prices. The nascent housing recovery has meant that many people are once again seeing value in their homes. Lenders, which shied away from these loans after the housing crisis, are beginning to market them again and new contenders are taking the stage. In April 2013, Discover Financial Services announced that it will offer home equity loans starting in the second half of the year. The company is expecting to make fixed-rate equity loans between $25,000 to $100,000 available to homeowners.

The rise in home equity loans is particularly strong in areas where home prices are rising quickly. Owners once again have more equity in their homes and it has been rising steadily since 2011. Lenders however, are still recovering from being burned. A recent Seattle Times article pointed out that during the third quarter of 2012 alone, according to federal estimates, banks wrote off $4.5 billion in defaulted equity loans.

Hesitancy On Both Sides Remains

Getting a home equity loan these days is a little trickier than it was in the past; lenders remain cautious and if you have missed a payment or two, or your credit is a bit shoddy, you may face difficulties. Lenders are also keeping an eye on market trends in particular areas to make sure that any bumps in price aren’t an anomaly. They are also loaning less on each individual home than they did in previous years.

There is still fear on the other side of the lending equation as well. Some owners are hesitant to put their hard-won equity at risk and worry that if home values fall again they may be caught in a tough spot. But as both lenders and borrowers learn to trust each other again these loans will continue to increase in popularity as long as prices continue to rise

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