2/21/2014

Invite Inspiration When Decorating the Spare Room


Whether you have company arriving for a visit or want to design a room that offers more space to relax in your home, the spare bedroom is an excellent opportunity to explore trending design elements. The room is there, waiting for you to try a few simple but creative ideas to make everyone feel at home.


Color

It all starts with deciding on your color base. Use the guest bedroom as a place to test new colors in your home. A bold gray-and-yellow combo makes a statement, or use lighter wall colors, such as aqua, to create a soothing atmosphere. Select a clean, white-walled bedroom to provide an open and refreshing space for guests, or try a vibrant hue, such as orange, to create a fun, bold space in your home.


Flooring

Whether the room has hardwood flooring and area rugs or you choose new carpeting, keep it neutral to provide a strong base for furniture and accents. If you have a hardwood floor, select a dark or light stain to add depth to the natural coloring. Remember to keep your wall color in mind when deciding on the color of flooring, especially if you want the colors to play off each other. Use area rugs for texture, pattern and an additional pull to draw your guests in. The flooring is the foundation on which to build your room design, so take time to explore different possibilities.


Furniture

After your room is painted and ready, keep the color of your flooring and walls in mind when deciding on the furniture. Turn to magazines or online searches for inspiration. Use furniture you have in the home in new ways, or find new, one-of-a-kind pieces. Imagine a light, airy guest room with a dose of vintage charm and an antique iron bed. Custom-painted furniture and plush fabrics to contrast with your new wall colors can add to a relaxed ambiance. You'll want to curl up in your own guest room for reading and an escape during the day. If you have a pair of twin beds, cover them in the same fabrics and add a charming armchair to unify the room and offer seating. The possibilities and combinations are endless; have fun with it!


Bedding

Selecting the bedding is the icing on the cake. Be bold and brighten up a room with playful patterns and vivid colors, or stick to a corresponding palette to tie patterns together. Use a variety of pillows and fabrics, like quilts and throw blankets, for plush accents. Try tribal patterns and designs inspired by traditional Asian and African motifs, which are trending. Classic black and white are also hot colors in bedding. Whether you decide on traditional floral patterns or mod stripes, this is the best part - find the perfect look for your bedding to tie your design together.


Accessories

This is it: the big finish. But don't go overboard in the guest room with accessories. Even if you go in the direction of more dramatic design versus casual comfort, be sure to choose simple items that have great impact on your overall decor. Traditional accents like colorful table lamps, bookshelves stocked with great reads, beautifully framed mirrors, and useful wicker baskets keep the space feeling cozy and classic. Keep the wicker baskets stocked with adorable new soaps, petite shampoos and conditioners, new toothbrushes, and even new books and magazines to make your guests feel right at home.

2/13/2014

Understanding FHA-Insured Loans


One of the few blessings to come out of the Great Depression was the FHA-insured loan. Although, contrary to what many think, it wasn't created to help low-income buyers get into homeownership. Just as during our recent Great Recession, during the Depression foreclosure rates skyrocketed, leaving lenders in the lurch. The FHA-insured loan was created to protect lenders from losses should the economy once again tank.
That said, the borrower does receive benefits from the loan. First, she benefits from the meticulous appraisal of the home, and second, from the low down payment requirements and attractive interest rates offered by lenders.

Eligibility Requirements

Although the Federal Housing Administration won't be loaning the money to you directly (you'll see a conventional lender for that), they'll take a look at your credit profile to determine whether they want to offer insurance on your loan.
Recent FHA changes call for a manual review of applicants with credit scores below 620 and debt-to-income ratios of 42 percent or higher. While these conditions don't automatically disqualify a borrower, it does decrease the number of applicants who qualify.
Statistics show that successful FHA applicants in August of 2013 had an average FICO score of 691, according to FoxBusiness.com. Unsuccessful applicants had an average FICO score of 667.
Remember, the lender may have stricter requirements, so it's always a good idea to take a look at your credit reports, fix any errors, and pay down some of your debt before applying for a mortgage.


The Down Payment

American homebuyers love the low down payment aspect of the FHA loan. Although lending criteria has tightened since the economic downturn, down payment requirements are still low – as low as 3.5 percent of the purchase price of the home.
An applicant with a FICO score lower than 579 may have to pay a 10 percent down payment, while those with higher scores – assuming they have adequate income and meet other loan requirements – typically qualify for the lower down payment.

Mortgage Insurance

Most homeowners know what PMI is – Private Mortgage Insurance. It's that policy they pay for but derive no benefit from. PMI protects the lender in case the borrower defaults.
FHA-insured loans also mandate mortgage insurance, but it's known as the Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) instead of PMI. As with PMI, FHA at one time allowed borrowers with a 78 percent loan balance to cancel their mortgage insurance premium. As of June of this year, however, that changed.
New FHA borrowers (since June 3, 2013) with low down payments (a starting loan balance of more than 90 percent of the value of the home) must pay for MIP as long as they have the loan. Borrowers with balances lower than 90 percent can choose to stop paying for MIP after 11 years.
To top it off, in April of this year FHA announced that they would be raising MIP premiums by 10 basis points, making the FHA-insured loan far less attractive than it once was.
Before settling on an FHA-backed loan, ask your mortgage broker to run scenarios comparing it with conventional loans as well as Fannie Mae's "My Community" loan program and Freddie Mac's "Home Possible" mortgage. You may find a better deal than FHA.



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2/07/2014

Paint to Sell: Painting Tips to Ensure a Quick Home Sale

No matter how much you rearrange or decorate a room, nothing affects appearance like a fresh coat of paint. When you enter a house, your eye may be drawn to little decorative touches, but all the staging in the world will fall flat if your paint is drab, dirty, or goes against the potential buyer's taste. Considering that a gallon of paint is only about $25, it's also an inexpensive way to give your home a makeover.



Choosing Colors to Appeal to Homebuyers

Using colors that make the buyer feel "at home" will help you sell your home more quickly. You want them to look at each room and be able to literally see themselves and their belongings fitting inside your walls. Inspire a feeling of peace and relaxation, and part of the sale is already done!
Neutrals and soft colors create a soothing, calm atmosphere. Homebuyers can more easily visualize the paint colors they want when other colors aren't bombarding them at every glance.
Avoid bold, vibrant or dark colors. Even pure white can prove overwhelming. Stay away from trendy colors no matter how good they look to you.
Keep in mind color psychology. Not only do certain colors calm you, but the shade can also affect the room itself. Light colors make a space appear larger. Dark colors, on the other hand, make the room feel smaller. Of course, sometimes a darker color is good if you want a certain effect. A cozy den with a darker color and a bright, cheery kitchen with a lighter color may work best to highlight each room's appeal.


Neutral Shades

Even with neutrals, you still have a variety of colors to choose from. Off-white is a popular, all-purpose color, but it's not the only one. Beige, tan, eggshell and ecru are other colors that work well with almost any style. But your choices range even further: pale shades of blue, green, yellow and gray, for instance, can blend with the house and complement the room. Aim for colors that don't overpower the room or furnishings. Keep the color variations to a minimum to lend a sense of continuity to the house. If every room is a different color, it can prove overwhelming. It's much better to pick two or three colors to use throughout the house.


Painting Tips

Take the time to paint properly. Mask off areas that will be left unpainted. Throw down floor and furniture coverings to ensure you don't create damage during the process. Most importantly, prep the wall properly.
You may wish to spread a primer first to block bold colors. If the walls don't require color or stain blocking, sanding the walls slightly or washing with a solution of trisodium phosphate are other options. Both sanding and washing with TSP will remove dirt, oils and other contaminants that prevent the color from adhering well and looking good.
While you paint, take time and care to cut in the corners and avoid drips. Aim for the best paint job of your life – it will be worth it when the buyers sign on the dotted line!
If you can't afford to repaint your entire house, concentrate on a few select areas. The first room the buyer enters is the place to start – remember, first impressions count! Consider painting cupboards, trim and doors along with key rooms. Let your instincts guide you. Look around at other homes for ideas. If your home has a "parade of homes" that local builders showcase, you can glean a lot of tips in a short amount of time.
With a minimum investment, a little time and elbow grease, it shouldn't take long for you to have your home ready for its next owner.



 Thinking about making a move?  
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2/05/2014

Feeling Snowbound? Top 10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

10) Make snow people (or snow dinosaurs) with your kids, relatives, or friends!
Pro tip: building snow dinos will give you an opportunity to sneak in learning with fun!


9) Drink hot cocoa and snuggle up. Use the excuse of cold weather to make cocoa with a loved one (or five), then indulge in a movie you've been meaning to watch, read a book, or go through a photo album. 

8)  Take a community class. The winter can be long and dreary in the mitten if you let it - brighten up this time of year and take advantage of the slowed pace. Take a class offered by your city or town. Community classes are usually very affordable and offer a chance to get out during the dark days. Consider enrolling with your significant other, or a child. 


7) See the Huckleberry Rail Road. If you live in the area, check out Crossroads Village in Flint. It's home to the railroad, old time shops, a carousel, and fun activities for the family. 
 
 Around Christmas the whole village is lit up with lights!


6) Make a home movie. Dig out some toys and play with your kids, friends, or family. Write a script together, then act it out! Set up a home recorder (or smart phone) and record the movie. Years down the road this will be a great memory!



5) Host a dinner party. Get all the people together that you love (and don't always have time to pencil in) and invite them for a dinner party. It can be formal, or not. Let each guest bring a dish to make the night less stressful, and plan a night of board games, movies, or cards for after.


4) Make snow slushies. Get clean snow, put it in a cup, and add a favorite drink! 



3) Go to a museum. The Metro Detroit area has a bunch of wonderful museums. The DIA, Cranbrook, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Wayne State Planetarium, and many more! If you have a child, nephew, or niece, consider the Michigan Science Center in downtown Detroit on John R. It has a lot of interactive learning for kids!
 

2) Go on a family vacation nearby. For a fun getaway for any family try the Avalanche Bay at Boyne Mountain, Great Bear Lodge, or Great Wolf Lodge.


1) Plan a library day. Take the time to catch up on work, homework, or reading. Let the kids run around in the play area-if available. Otherwise take the child(ren) to the kids section and let them look through books and videos. See if there is a class or presentation coming up. 

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