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8 Storage Tips to Help You Clean Better, Clean Faster

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix, New Homes Tampa | Posted: March 25, 2017

Organizing ideas to keep all your cleaning supplies handy.Though there may be a dozen other items on your to-do list, you can’t hide from the one you wrote in red at the top of the page in all caps and circled twice: “Clean the house.” It’s a drag, and the task always takes twice as long as you expect it to.

But it doesn’t have to be a drag. Not if you’re organized, that is.

When everything is accessible and ready to go, you’ll be motivated to get started — and you’ll finish faster, says Jan Dougherty, author of “The Lost Art of House Cleaning.”

Try these ideas for a bit of motivation to grab your cleaning gloves:

#1 A $3 Tension Bar for Spray Bottles
The rooms that require the most cleaning accoutrements are the bathroom and kitchen. Fortunately, they both typically contain the gold standard for supply storage: the cupboard under the sink.

But this blank box can be a lot more efficient. Add a cheap and easy-to-install tension bar to hold your spray bottles where you can easily see and grab them.

Alternatively to a tension rod, Dougherty suggests installing a sliding rack at the bottom of the sink cabinet so you can easily pull out what’s under there without breaking your back to get it.

#2 Use S-Hooks to Convert Any Closet to a Broom Closet
Have just one broom closet, but three stories and nine rooms to clean? Or no broom closet at all? Turn any closet into an efficient space for cleaning supplies by using inexpensive S-hooks to hang mops and brooms right where you need them. And, wow, look at all that floor space for storing your buckets and other supplies!

#3 Use a Cart to Move With You
No closets? No problem. Do what hotel maids do — use a cart to haul your cleaning supplies around. The one pictured comes from IKEA (about $30), and does the job without taking up a ton of space.

#4 Build (or Buy) Shelves to Fit That Odd Corner
Your home is a special snowflake. Whether it’s small and open or huge and labyrinthine, locating your home’s unique opportunities for shelf space can be a great way to make cleaning supply storage more convenient. It could be that open area in the corner by the stairway, or that dead space at the end of the hall.

After all, you don’t want to run around looking for things.

Inexpensive shelving can be tucked anywhere, and you can configure units to fit your supplies. If you’d rather not look at your storage, you can always use a decorative curtain or screen to keep it out of view.

Can’t find room in the main house? Garage space — especially close to the door of an attached garage — can be an efficient spot for a set of shelves to live.

#5 Hang a Hook for Gloves
Below the sink is the natural spot for gloves, but finding them crumpled up and stuck to the side of a grimy spray bottle makes for a gross cleaning delay. Hanging them up makes rubber gloves easy to find, and keeps them clean and dry. Add some grommets to your gloves, or use a chip clip with a looped top for the same effect.

#6 Pull Out a Closet
This is the Cadillac of cleaning storage solutions — making a closet-sized pull-out rack. If you’ve got a foot or two of blank space between the right walls, you can have a pull-out closet custom fit for all your supplies. From the outside it looks like one of your cabinets. Inside, everything is visible and easily accessible.

#7 Hold It All in a Shoe Caddy
It’s cheap. It’s easy — and all those pockets! The beauty of using a behind-the-door shoe caddy is you can hang it in or on any closet or door depending on where you want your supplies. Clear plastic sections make products easy to see for grab-and-go cleaning. Drips and spills wipe right off. And to keep the cleaning product clutter out of sight, simply close the door.

#8 Pegboard the Lot
Pegboards are the Swiss Army knife of the organization world; they can do everything. You can hang small shelves, baskets and, of course, hooks of every shape and size on this baby — just need wall space. Pegboards keep cleaning products up off the floor and make them easy to locate.

The secret, says Dougherty, is the discipline to put everything back the same way every time.

Source: Houselogic.com

Why Single Women Are Buying Homes at Twice the Rate of Single Men

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix, New Homes Tampa | Posted: February 5, 2017


Skip the spouse, buy the house: Single women account for 17 percent of homebuyers in the U.S., vs. 7 percent of single men.
By 2007, Michelle Jackson, a 30-something writer in Denver, held a master’s degree, had traveled the world, and was enjoying her social life as a single woman. She also felt the pull to purchase her own home, a rite of passage she thought was reserved for the coupled.

“I wanted to have my own place,” Jackson said.“A lot of people in my circle of friends were women purchasing their homes when they got married, but I still felt like I wanted to build my own wealth and buy. If and when I met someone, it’s something that just added to what I bring to the relationship. It didn’t make sense to wait.”

A few open houses later, Jackson was preapproved for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and had put an offer in on a small, one-bedroom home in a triplex in Denver for $72,500. She still lives in the home, which was appraised last year at more than double the price she paid, and said she plans to renovate it and perhaps buy an additional property nearby.

“I’m so happy,” Jackson said. “It’s completely changed how I feel connected to the place where I’m living. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

The news and research about women and money can be dreary. Women earn less than their male counterparts, pay harsher workplace penalties for pursuing parenthood, struggle more with debt, and save less for retirement.

But there’s one area of personal finance where single women are outpacing men in the U.S., and it’s a significant one: home ownership.

Nearly a century since the publication of A Room of One’s Own—Virginia Woolf’s essay on women’s urgent need for a private physical space in which to flourish—and a legacy of laws that restricted women in owning property or considered them to be property, single women account for 17 percent of homebuyers in the U.S., compared with 7 percent of single men. The data, from last year, are from the National Association of Realtors.

“I’m not married, I don’t have kids. I can live alone, and fabulously. I feel empowered”
Although women have been ahead of men in NAR’s data since 1981, the gap has widened even further in recent years, said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research and communications. Property values and mortgage lending imploded after the 2008 financial crisis, and low interest rates have made lending more appealing to new, more frugal buyers.

Single women are also likelier than single men to be parenting on their own, Lautz noted, and therefore likelier to seek stable housing for raising children. There were 8.6 million single-mother households in 2011, more than three times the 2.6 million single-father households, according to the Pew Research Center.

“If you have children, it’s definitely going to play a role in where you’re thinking of living and how,” Lautz said. “And a mortgage can provide financial security. I think women, even with lower incomes, want a place where they can have roots and really own a place. The psychological desire to do that is great.”

With that comes an increase in financial sacrifices women are willing to make to own a home, Lautz said, such as taking a second job or working their budgets to save for a down payment. “They really value home ownership, and they’re willing to give up a lot to have a home of their own.” Source: National Association of Realtors
Then there are single women’s sheer numbers. As millennials postpone or shrug off marriage, more women are unmarried than ever before. Today, one in every five Americans 25 years and older has never been married, a sharp contrast to just 9 percent in 1960, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More of them are men (23 percent) than women (17 percent), according to the Pew Research Center, but it’s the women who dominate as homebuyers, for the reasons above, and more.

For one, unmarried women may be likelier than men to seize singledom as a lifestyle, said Bella DePaulo, a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the author of Singled Out.

“Despite the stereotypes that insist that women care more about marriage than men do, it may actually be single life that women embrace more than men,” DePaulo said. “Some research suggests that single women are especially unlikely to be lonely—again, contrary to our stereotypes. … I think that buying a home is a way of living your single life fully, rather than seeing your single years as just marking time until you find The One.”
When single women do buy their first homes, they do so at an older age than men, 34 compared with 31, according to NAR research from last year. And women are buying at a lower average price: $173,000 compared with $190,600.

Single women also have long had a slightly higher foreclosure rate than men: 73 per 10,000 vs. 70 per 10,000, Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions, said. 1 One reason may be that men’s properties involved larger initial sales and appreciated faster than women’s.

“There’s a domino effect,” Blomquist said. “Because of the wage gap, you see women having to purchase lower-value homes, and they’re more open to risk when they do. Typically what causes a foreclosure is some kind of shock, like a job loss. If you have a lower-value home that’s appreciating less quickly, you have less of a cushion than someone who has seen their value appreciate more.”

For Rachel Weiss, a fashion executive in New York, the thought of owning a home in Manhattan “always seemed so unattainable.” Having spent her 30’s and some of her 40s in a rent-stabilized studio in the West Village, she accumulated a pile of cash that was sitting dormant in a savings account and was hungry to invest. On a whim last spring, she began to look at properties, and she said she was surprised when, running the numbers and being pre-approved for a mortgage, she saw that a one-bedroom in a co-op in the area could be within reach.

“I outgrew my apartment 10 years ago, and buying a home was always in the back of my mind,” Weiss said. “But I didn’t know what to do and never knew if I could afford an apartment. I started looking online at Trulia and Streeteasy, and the next day [real estate agents] started calling. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. It was almost like I was on Tinder for an apartment.”

After a few open houses, Weiss had narrowed her search to apartments in smaller buildings with lower maintenance fees. She was OK in a walkup, but location was still a priority. She put an offer on a one-bedroom co-op in Chelsea for $640,000. It was accepted. She moved in last August.

“There was a psychological aspect to it, too,” Weiss said. “I’m in my 40s, and I looked at what my life was like. I’m not married, I don’t have kids. I can live alone, and fabulously. I feel empowered.”

Source: Bloomberg: Mary Pilon; January 31, 2017

10 Real Estate Trends in 2016

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: September 3, 2016

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Home prices are up year-over-year and new home sales are on track for the best year since 2007.

What will 2016 still hold for homebuyers, sellers and renters? Here are the top real estate trends to watch for this year.

1. Home prices will continue to rise…moderately.
Economists and housing experts surveyed by Zillow expect home values to grow an average of 3.5 percent with most markets experiencing modest gains. That’s closer to historical averages and more sustainable than double-digit increases. However, some economists are worried that price appreciation may be approaching bubble territory in some hot markets like San Francisco, Denver, and Dallas.

2. Interest rates will inch up.
Economists widely agree that the Fed will increase its fed funds rate gradually throughout the year. Rates on adjustable-rate mortgages, which are tied to the prime rate that tracks the fed rate, will react immediately to a Fed hike. The rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage will increase slower, because it follows the yield on the 10-year Treasury, rather than the fed rate.

Rates on a 30-year mortgage currently stand at about 4 percent, up from record lows but still extremely attractive by historical measures. The Mortgage Bankers Association expects rates to reach 4.5 percent in 2016.

While some worry that higher interest rates would dampen the housing market, job security and wage growth are larger factors on home activity than interest rates.

3. First-time buyers will continue to struggle.
Part of the reason for the muted housing recovery is the lack of first-time buyers. These buyers—who traditionally fuel the market—have had difficulty saving for a down-payment due to stagnant wages and high rents. “The investors came in and helped accelerate the housing recovery by being willing to buy when the market was bleeding, but they have pushed up home prices rapidly in some markets, and all of the sudden those markets are unaffordable for the traditional, first-time buyers,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

The median age of first-time homebuyers—currently at a record-high 33—will head even higher next year, according to Zillow. Another headwind facing first-time homebuyers: Prices for entry-level homes are increasing faster than prices at any other price level, according to CoreLogic. That’s because developers have been building larger, more expensive houses rather than starter homes.

4. Credit will get—a little—looser.
While the days of no-doc loans and drive-by appraisals will likely never return, the pendulum is inching closer to center after several years of tight credit restrictions. The average FICO score on all closed loans in the third quarter was 723, the lowest level in at least four years, according to Ellie Mae. Two years ago, the average score for denied applications was 729.

Banks may be even more willing to work with homebuyers over the next year as the volume of refinances falls as interest rates rise. “There will be more competition for borrowers,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “We may start to see more flexibility in credit standards and underwriting.”

5. It will still be cheaper to buy than rent.
Rental rates have risen even faster than home prices in some markets. Buying a home is 36 percent cheaper than renting nationwide for millennials and now is the best time to buy since 2012, according to Trulia. Buying is cheaper than renting in every one of the country’s 100 largest metro areas. The disparity could likely grow as rents are expected to increase by 8 percent next year, according to a Rent.com survey of property managers.

6. The suburbs will make a comeback.
The suburbs are once again becoming a potential destination for buyers as downtown living increases and Millennials start families, according to a new report from the Urban Land Institute. The most attractive suburbs are close to a city and have walkable Main Streets, job opportunities and public transportation. In the largest metro areas, more than four out of five jobs are located outside of the center-city core.

7. Buyers will want green and smart homes.
Despite the higher costs, home builders and remodelers are increasingly incorporating eco-friendly features into projects to meet growing demand largely from affluent Baby Boomers who prioritize energy efficiency, a healthier indoor environment and durability. More than half of builders and 39 percent of remodelers say they are working on green projects, according to a study from Dodge Data & Analytics for the National Association of Home Builders. Those percentages are expected to rise over the next five years.

Sellers that don’t want to invest in full-scale renovations are turning to smart thermostats and lights that can be controlled by smartphones to pump up their eco appeal. “It’s a great way for sellers to differentiate their properties from others on the market,” says Budge Husky, chief executive officer at Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “You’re not only getting the energy savings, but it becomes a lifestyle feature.”

8. Videos will be the new photos.
High-quality, professional photographs have become the norm for online listings. To stand out in today’s market, more sellers are working with their real estate agents to create virtual tours and videos to highlight their properties.

Videos can help create positive reactions and emotional connections to younger buyers accustomed to sharing photos and videos on social media. Los Angeles real estate agent Scott Tamkin has been using video game-like 3D tours to allow potential buyers who may be abroad to virtually “walk through” a property to get a real feel for it.

9. All-cash sales will continue to decrease.
About a third of home sales in August went to all-cash buyers, down form a high of more than 46 percent in January 2011, according to CoreLogic. That share will likely continue to decline in 2016, which is good news for mortgage-dependent buyers who have had trouble competing with all-cash offers in some markets.

10. New homes will come back big time.
New home construction was one of the hardest-hit industries after the housing bust. At their lowest point in 2009, developers had scaled back production by nearly 79 percent. They’re finally starting to ramp up again. Single-family starts increased 10 percent this year and are expected to rise another 23 percent in 2016, according to the National Association of Home Builders. That coincides with healthy sales. New home sales grew 15 percent this year and are forecast to jump 26 percent in 2016.

Source: By Beth Braverman- The Fiscal Times

Housing Forecast: What To Expect In The Second Half Of 2016

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: July 8, 2016

checkbook
Where have all the houses gone? That’s the question economists and, more importantly, would-be homebuyers are asking themselves. Demand is healthy and home values are rising. Owning a home remains a better deal than renting one and mortgage rates are near record lows, meaning borrowing money to buy is cheap. Nevertheless, inventory is scarce and falling.

“At a time when rising prices should be inducing inventory, exactly the opposite is happening,” explains Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at real estate data firm Trulia. “That has been the biggest story in the last six months and it will continue to be a story for the rest of the year.” According to Zillow, also a data firm, in May inventory of low- and middle-tier homes fell 8.9% and 9.7% respectively, compared to a year earlier. Top-tier inventory fell 0.5%.

Now that we’re halfway through 2016, here’s a glimpse how the rest of the year is likely to play out.
The Dynamics: Mortgage rates could reach all-time lows. Fitch Ratings expects U.S. mortgage rates to reach all-time lows following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union. This is because Brexit pushed the Treasury rates that serve as a benchmark for mortgage rates to new lows. The 30-year fixed-rate hit a record low of 3.31% in 2012 and is currently about 3.6%. Low rates could spur demand for homes, as well as a spat of current loan refinancing.

Brexit has drawn new attention to rates, but mortgage have been relatively cheap for so long that economists have finally stopped forecasting a rise. According to a Trulia survey this is in line with average consumers, who rank interest rates a distant third among their housing market concerns–behind finding a home they like and qualifying for a mortgage.

In May, groundbreakings stood at an annual rate of 1.138 million, below the 1.5 million needed to get supply back in line with demand. Adding to the pain–most of the homes that have been built in recent years have been for the luxury consumer, rather than lower price starter homes.

The median home price has risen 5.4%. Economic theory suggests rising starter home prices should entice new construction in the segment, says McLaughlin.

Meanwhile, people aren’t moving as often, meaning fewer existing homes are coming onto the market. Prices have risen so much that potential sellers can’t afford to buy that next level home in their current neighborhood. McLaughlin calls the phenomenon “gridlock.” While Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, describes it as a game of musical chairs where someone is left without a seat. Says Nela Richardson, chief economist at web-based broker Redfin: “Yes people can sell their home in a New York or San Francisco minute, but they won’t have anything to buy.”

Home values are currently appreciating an annual rate of 5%, well above the historical average of around 3% to 3.5% and a pick up from a year ago. Gudell attributes the strength to low inventory, low mortgage rates and a strong labor market. (Yes, the May jobs report was disappointing, but trend is still solid and wages seem to be picking up.)

Plus across the country buying remains more attractive than renting. Zillow finds that the current breakeven point for home ownership–the time you would have to live in a house before buying would be financially advantageous over renting–is 1.8 years. Trulia judges that interest rates would need to cross 7% for that national dynamic to change.

What it means for you: Have your checkbook ready.
Right now the typical home is selling in just 42 days; in markets like Denver, Portland and Seattle sales are happening in a week or less. That is the shortest time on market Redfin has seen since it began tracking in 2009 and it is a full week faster than a year ago, meaning this ultra-fast market is speeding up. With no clear supply bump on the horizon this trend is likely to continue.

What moms look for when buying a house

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: June 27, 2016

Open floor plans, a mud room, and an office so parents can keep tabs on their kids

William Ryan Hampshire Model-17

William Ryan Hampshire Model-9
Open floor plans are high on moms’ wish lists.

Traditionally, when people with children have looked to buy a new home, they were more concerned with neighborhood schools, walkability and convenient shopping than with the actual layout of the home they’d be occupying.

But that is changing, says Jeff Martel, a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE) agent in Boise, Idaho. “Ten years ago, the only thing families were looking for was square footage and a large yard,” he said. “Configuration of the home is more important now,” as people prefer open floor plans rather than separate dining and living rooms.

“We see less and less formal spaces,” Martel said, as floor plans with separate dining rooms aren’t as preferable as a larger kitchen, often not just with one large central island, but two islands. “Everything happens in the kitchen,” he said. “Kids use the islands now for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said.

Separate home offices are out too, replaced by an office nook off the main living space so that parents can keep tabs on what kids are looking at online. “You want a family office that’s very visible with a direct sightline to the kitchen,” he said.

Lindsay Alteri, who works for BHGRE in Raleigh, N.C., and is a mother of two young kids, said she’s seeing moms wanting the same thing — a large kitchen space, open floor plan and even laundry space on the same floor with room to fold laundry so they can keep an eye on everything. “What I hear is, ‘I can’t leave my kids unattended,’” she said.

Location of the garage also counts with many moms and parents, Alteri says. “If there are stairs to and from the garage, are you going to be willing to go up and down them carrying a child” in from the car, she asks.

Stacy Barry, a realtor at Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis, agrees. “You want an open area floor plan with wide stairs for carrying little ones and laundry baskets,” she said.

Barry, along with BHGRE’s Martel, says the garage should be attached with a walk-in area to the laundry for muddy kids.

“You want a ‘mud room’ that has a bench and some storage for boots that’s done in a hardwood or laminate where you can drop everything like backpacks and jackets,” Martel said. The mud room should be a separate entrance to the house from the main entrance so that guests don’t see it, he said.

Above all, as parents know all too well, “kids come with clutter,” Martel says.

As a result, Martel and Barry both say that, not surprisingly, parents want lots of built-in storage in bedrooms, attics, spaces under stairs and even hidden storage behind bookshelves where you can pile toys and clothes when company comes.

As kids get older, agents say that some clients want separate living areas for kids and adults.

“Young families desire to be on the same floor,” said Martelm but “as the kids get older, have the master bedroom retreat on the main floor, and have the kids have their own space,” with bedrooms on the separate floor and separated so they don’t share a common wall to allow for privacy.

Source: DANIEL GOLDSTEIN : PERSONAL FINANCE REPORTER, Marketwatch.com June 19th 2016

New-home sales exploded in April: What it means for you

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: May 26, 2016

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The spring home-buying season has definitely sprung. Sales of new homes soared 16.6% in April, blowing away economists’ expectations for a rise of 1.8%, the Commerce Department announced Tuesday.

Steve Udelson, president of real estate brokerage Owners.com, breaks down what it all means.

Q: What do you think of today’s new-home sales data?

A: Sales of new homes increased in April to the highest level in eight years and jumped 16.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 619,000. This signals a healthy real estate market, especially coming on the heels of an increase in existing home sales announced last week.

With continued job growth and low mortgage rates, the demand for housing is solid. From a regional perspective, sales in the South and Northeast climbed, and sales improved in the West as well. In addition, the Midwest set a fast pace for existing home sales as reported last week.

Taken together, this is all good news for the housing market.

Q: What are your observations about sales so far this year?

A: While the early start of the year was a bit slower than usual, the spring real estate market has heated up and is on a steady incline.

It’s a strong market from an inventory perspective as well. Buyer demand is exceptionally high in the midpriced market but a bit softer than usual in the very low and very high ends of the market. I project that a solid spring real estate season will continue well into the summer.

Q: What are your thoughts on the effects of a possible interest rate increase by the Fed in June?

A: There is no doubt interest rates can impact the real estate market and mortgage rates. However, we saw very modest changes during the first interest rate increase last year and anticipate the same this time around.

That said, if interest rates go back up to more normal levels, we can expect this will have a bigger impact on mortgage rates and create more pressure from an affordability standpoint.

Q: Any advice for buyers right about now?

A: Buyers should do their homework and get smart and informed about the home-buying process as the first step. It’s no surprise that potential home buyers are using online tools to narrow down their home search and identify their “dream” homes, learn about the market in certain neighborhoods and understand key facts like a home’s price history.

Source: USA Today Lisa Kiplinger, May 24 2016

How To Create a Well-Designed Floor Plan in Your New Home

Categories: New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: May 11, 2016

create floorplan

Congratulations, a new home! It is an exciting time full of countless to-dos. One to-do is frequently overlooked. It’s the step that saves you money on moving day and quickly transforms a new house into your new home. Lay out your future before moving day!

It is essential to create a floor plan for your new home BEFORE you move. If you have a plan for where each piece of furniture will be placed in your new home, you will save time and money on moving day. The movers will not be rearranging your furniture for hours while on the clock. Sadly, the easy act of creating a floor plan before a move is a rarity. If you are not an interior designer it can be extremely challenging to know how to create a floor plan and envision a layout for your new home. So naturally, I called upon an experienced pro, Interior Designer Kathy Geissler Best of Kathy Best Design, to unwrap the secrets behind creating a beautiful and functional floor plan.

Here are Kathy’s seven steps to create a well-designed floor plan:

1. Edit: Edit your furniture. Move only pieces you love and use. Now is the time to get rid of furniture. You want your new home to look open and feel fresh. Give items that you no longer love to the Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, a family member, or sell at a consignment store.

2. Measure: Once edited, measure your key pieces. You don’t need to measure every piece of furniture, just the large items like sofas, beds and main tables.

3. Take a Field Trip: With furniture measurements in hand, take a trip to your new home. Stand in each room and think about how you are going to use each space. Rooms will be used more often if they have multiple purposes. For instance, a living room can be both for entertaining and a family game room, and a guest room can double as a home office.

4. Don’t Rush: Walk around the new home. Experience the light in each room at different times of the day and if possible on different days. Think about how you want to use each room and what will be the focal point of each room.

5. Take Note: Once you have a purpose and a feel for each room, it’s time to make a sketch. Draw a rough sketch of the room and jot down measurements. Note locations of electrical outlets, windows, light switches, chandeliers. This information will help you place furniture and décor later. Be sure to measure the path of entry to be sure big furniture items will fit through doorways, halls, and stairs.

6. Play & Design: Another way to get ready for the move, is to make templates of the large furniture pieces on butcher block paper. Move the templates around and play with them, rearranging them in different places of the room, until you find a layout that feels right. Then adjust to these pro rules:

a. Think about where you want to look in each room. At the fireplace, the view, TV? Face the furniture to work with this focal point.

b. Figure out where you want the bigger pieces and then build around them.

c. If you can, place dressers in the bedroom closets to open up space in the bedroom.

d. Leave an open welcoming path into each room. For example, do not have the back of a sofa facing the entrance to a living room.

e. Think about seat heights. A dining chair is taller than a lounge chair. You want chairs and a sofa to be at the same level in a sitting area.

f. Leave at least 18 inches to walk around beds. If guest rooms are not large, a queen bed will make the room appear bigger.

g. Use rugs to define areas. For instance, define a reading space in the living room with a separate rug. Be sure to make note of where rugs go so the movers can lay them down first in the correct locations.

7. Sketch & Post: Now that you have figured out where you want each large piece of furniture, complete your sketches. Tape the drawings of each room layout in the rooms. The movers will know where to place the furniture.

Congrats again, you have a plan and the fun part is just beginning! At the end of move day, you will be walking into a home that fits you. The furniture staples will be placed just where you want and need them and now you get to add the décor accents! Furniture is like a wardrobe, dress it up with seasonal throw pillows, side tables and other accessories. You want to feel happy when you walk into each room. With the layout done now you can make your new home your happy place.

Source: Huffington Post, 05/03/16

Up Your Pantry Prowess: 7 Great Ideas

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: April 30, 2016

William Ryan Hampshire Model-13

If you are on a budget but want to change the feel of your pantry, a bright pop of color may be all you need. The pantry is often behind closed doors, so don’t be afraid to use a shade you may be hesitant to paint throughout your entire kitchen.

Unless your door is being used to hang extra storage, consider swapping a hinged door for a pocket door or barn door. These sleek alternatives eliminate the door swing and help with kitchen congestion. On the same note, make sure that the design of your door matches the kitchen’s look. Try drawing inspiration from your cabinets; it is more than ok if the pantry door is different from but complementary to the rest of the home’s doors.

When it comes to shelving, adjustable shelves are worth the investment; you’ll be thankful when it comes time to stack awkward holiday pans and odd-sized items that wouldn’t ordinarily fit standard shelves. Depending on your storage and usage, you may also consider vertical shelves for larger, flatter items like baking sheets and cutting boards. The benefit to vertical shelves is that you eliminate the need to remove a heavy stack of items on top of the desired bottom item.

Painting done, hardware installed – it’s time to stock up! Keep these tips in mind to reduce clutter and maximize storage space:

– Use clear or wire bins for storage so you can easily discern what’s inside.

– Under-shelf baskets (often short baskets attached to the underside of the shelf below) help to maximize storage if shelf height isn’t adjustable.

– Corner storage is often awkward at best and unreachable at worst. A Lazy Susan can help make corners more accessible and usable.

– For collectors of reusable plastic containers, a plate rack can help keep lids organized by size and shape.

Source: Living; Best In America Blog, April 24th 2016

Disabled Stoughton veteran receives new house

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: April 10, 2016

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Iraq war veteran and Stoughton resident Russell Dennison and his family are getting a new, mortgage-free house thanks to national nonprofit Homes for our Troops, complete with handicap accessible features and single-floor access.

An IED explosion in Afghanistan took both of Dennison’s legs in 2012, though Dennison, known for his positive attitude, is making the best of a bad situation.

“Before I had a chance to say anything, he goes ‘It’s all right, because it looks like I’m going to be taller than you now,” Grant Dennison, Russell’s brother, said. “It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard.”

Dennison heard about Homes for our Troops while at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, filling out applications between rehabilitation sessions.

While the organization has been active across the country since 2004, this is only the fifth house being built in Wisconsin through the program.

Piggly Wiggly and many other businesses from the greater Dane County area have donated to help build Russell Dennison’s home, including William Ryan Homes, which is taking on the majority of construction duties.

“Homes for our Troops sent us a video on Staff Sgt. Dennison and his experience,” Christopher Ehlers of William Ryan homes said. “We rallied and said we absolutely have to build this house for this gentleman.”

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the VFW in Stoughton Saturday. Russell and his wife, Samantha, along with their two children, will most likely be able to move into their new home in nine or 10 months, according to the builder.

Source: Channel 3000

Tax Refund Used as a Down Payment to Buy a Home

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: April 7, 2016

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Tax Refunds can be used as a down payment on a house on any type of home loan
During tax season, many renters use their tax refund as a down payment to purchase a home as a first-time buyer.

Down payment is one of the biggest obstacles for prospective first-time buyers to buy a home. So this time of year is an important one because so many people receive sizable tax refunds ranging from $2000 – $8000 or even more. This amount of money can contribute to some or all of the down payment for homes first time buyers would be interested in.

Source: OVM Financial Feb 2016