Wednesday, April 23, 2014

14 Ways to Reclaim Lost Counter Space

Counter space. No matter how big the kitchen, you hardly ever hear anyone complaining that there’s too much of it. Especially in a compact kitchen, clear counters are a precious commodity worth fighting for. Luckily, there are lots of smart storage ideas that can help you reclaim lost counter space. Here are 14 great solutions that are just begging to be a part of your kitchen expansion.

Roll me away

If you’re striving to save space, a rolling cart with a butcher-block top does double duty. Use the top for prep when you need it, and give dishes or other supplies a good home on the shelves underneath.


Get some hang time

Most kitchen utensils have a notch on the handle, perfect for perching up high. This way, you can save your limited drawer space for something else.

Source: Zillow Digs


Climbing the ceiling

Similar to the elevated utensil concept, hanging your pots and pans from a ceiling-mounted rack keeps them nearby and easy to spot. Even better, the cabinet they used to occupy gets freed up, making room for items that used to live on your counter.


Sink in

When you’re chopping, you can’t be washing, so why not use your kitchen sink as a prep area? Any cutting board slightly wider than your sink will do the trick.


Slide into home

If you’re lucky enough to be in the design stages, why not sneak a few pull-out surfaces into the mix? It’s a great way to gain extra space that appears only when you need it.


Beyond the block

Let’s face it, traditional knife blocks are counter hogs. A simple solution is to store knives on the wall with a magnetic holder, but make sure you dry your knives thoroughly before storing and place them carefully on the strip.

Source: Bright Designlab Interior Design


Top-shelf idea

Open shelving — whether it’s set on the backsplash, mounted on a painted wall, or even free-hanging from the ceiling — can greatly increase your kitchen storage capabilities. Although you’ll want to choose eye-pleasing items to house there, the net result will be an increase in space down below.


Trash it

Made famous by Rachael Ray, the “garbage bowl” can help keep peels and trimmings under control as you cook. Scraps go in the bowl until they’re all ready for the trash or composting, and the counters stay free of debris.


Another way to look at it

Having a limited amount of kitchen real estate can inspire creative, and at times beautiful, solutions. Mounting a few shelves inside a window not only gains surface area for storage, but also captures a stunning backdrop for anything placed there.


Island idea

Make your kitchen island work a bit harder for you by adding shelves for books, or bars for hanging towels or utensils.

Source: CBI Design Professionals

Hole in the wall

Even if your kitchen’s footprint is small, you may uncover a treasure trove of storage possibilities between the studs. In many cases, reclaiming this hidden wall space requires remodeling only this one area instead of the whole kitchen.


Corner pocket

Freestanding shelves like these from Beyond the Rack give you a clever, efficient way to use that often-neglected corner space.


Have your cake and eat it too

Use a simple cake stand to hold high-use items like salt, pepper and olive oil. If you need more room, you can easily transfer the stand to another spot in the kitchen.


Jar ingenuity

Ah, the all-purpose Mason jar. What a great idea: Affix the metal lids to the underside of a cabinet, and screw the jars on and off as you need them.



 

Why Being Pre-Approved for a Loan Matters

So much has changed in the past few decades that the old ways of buying or selling a home simply won’t work today. For decades, buying a home was pretty much the same thing: You shopped around, made an offer and then went to the bank to get a loan. If you were denied or there were problems, you walked away.
Today, a buyer needs to speak to the bank and get approved prior to shopping and definitely before making an offer on a home. Not being pre-approved today won’t get you past the front door. Here’s why:

Markets move faster today

With online listings and so many real estate resources available to buyers and sellers, it’s easy to quickly get a property in front of the masses. Buyers aren’t waiting on a call or fax from their real estate agent like they did in the 1980s. Instead, motivated buyers get push notifications from Zillow or texts from their agents and see homes as soon as possible. It’s more efficient.
Transactions happen at the same speed. If you’re not approved for a mortgage when you make an offer, the seller risks waiting weeks to see if your loan will go through. That’s not good for them. Show that you’re pre-approved, and you’ve eliminated one huge hurdle for the seller.


Know what you can afford

People today are focused on their monthly payments more than the total purchase price. Why? Because, unlike the typical buyer a generation ago, many of today’s buyers don’t plan on staying in their homes for 30 years. Instead, they can commit to 7 to 10 years and are open to alternate mortgage options that could save them money on their monthly payments.
It’s helpful to know exactly what a $425,000 mortgage will cost vs. a $500,000 mortgage on a monthly basis. Also, in some parts of the country, there are options for FHA loans with as little as 3 percent down. Knowing all your options before you start shopping allows you to shop and buy smarter. There’s no sense looking at homes in the $400,000 range if you can afford more, and vice versa.


Competing with pre-approved buyers

Few buyers today get into the real estate market without forging a relationship with a local mortgage professional. It’s simply smarter to have your ducks in a row. In a competitive market, you may face multiple offers on one property. If you don’t have a pre-approval letter to go with your offer, you have zero chance of getting your offer accepted. Not being pre-approved means you aren’t a serious buyer in the eyes of the seller.

Getting pre-approved means organizing all your documents, documenting your income, debt and credit, and understanding all the loan options available to you. There should never be a cost to be pre-approved for a loan. And you aren’t committed to a mortgage when going through the pre-approval. Got a signed contract from a seller? Then you’re ready to lock in a rate and choose the mortgage that’s best for you.


 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Open House Next Weekend!

Come Join us This Saturday 4/12/14, 1-4pm 
105 Wyoming Ave, Portsmouth, VA 23701 
For more info call 757-535-4884

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Your Dream Kitchen For $5000!

Got a bottomless budget for your dream kitchen?  You could pay for the sleekest pro-style appliances, the most luxurious stone countertop, and the trendiest hardwood flooring and still end up paying again to fix things that break down, crack, or dent. Or you could use our advice to make every dollar count by sidestepping high-priced pitfalls in the first place.
 



 

Monday, April 14, 2014

HOUSING UPDATE: RELIEF FOR UNDERWATER SELLERS EXTENDED?

Important housing update: The Senate Finance Committee has passed a two year extension of tax relief for home owners who have had mortgage debt forgiven by a lender as part of a short sale, loan modification or foreclosure. This bill would be retroactive to January 1st, 2014, when the law expired.

The tax relief provision expired at the end of last year, and unless both the United States Senate and House of Representatives approve the extension, homeowners may have to pay tax on the forgiven debt.

“Even though the housing update for the real estate market has recovered from the housing crash, many homeowners still remain under water.  Home Owners and those advising them need to know that this tax on forgiven debt does not just apply to short sales and loan modifications.  It also applies to foreclosures, so ignoring the problem and just letting your home foreclose will not protect you from being liable for the tax. Home Owners need to pay attention and consult with a tax preparer on the IRS tax consequences of forgiven debt”. Says David Blank, CPA Founder of Homehelpusa.org.
NAR President Steve Brown says. “We applaud the Senate Finance Committee for approving a bipartisan compromise bill today This is, at its core, an issue that’s all about fairness. It is unfair to ask homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage and who make the prudent decision to do a short sale instead of allowing their mortgage to go into foreclosure to pay tax on the forgiven amount of the loan.”

The mortgage forgiveness tax relief act provided in the past has been one of Congress’ bipartisan success stories, and there’s a good chance an extension will pass Congress this year, too, analysts say.
Some 350,000 households could be affected by the tax if relief isn’t extended, because that’s the number of households who sold their house last year as a short sale. “And we expect a large number of short sales [an estimated 300,000 to 350,000] this year,” says Brown.
To read up on the tax law go to http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/The-Mortgage-Forgiveness-Debt-Relief-Act-and-Debt-Cancellation.


 

Friday, April 11, 2014

OPEN HOUSE!


Come Join us This Saturday 4/12/14, 1-4pm 

5906 MCGINNIS CIRCLE, NORFOLK, VA 23502

For more info call 757-535-4884

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Positive Signs Crop Up Heading into Spring Homebuying Season

Recent month-to-month volatility in the housing market has softened the ongoing recovery. However, the majority of the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey indicators on consumer attitudes have continued to move in a positive direction during the past year, which may portend a pick-up in homebuying and selling activity this spring. According to Fannie Mae's March 2014 National Housing Survey results, the share of survey respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home climbed to 38 percent last month, compared to 26 percent at the same time last year. In addition, the share who believe it would be easy to get a mortgage today increased to 52 percent, compared to 47 a year ago, and tying the all-time survey high. Americans' attitudes regarding their personal finances have also improved those who expect their financial situation to worsen during the next 12 months decreased to 12 percent, a significant drop from 21 percent at the same time last year, and the share who say their personal financial situation improved during the past year reached an all-time survey high of 40 percent.

"The housing recovery continues to proceed in fits and starts. Rising mortgage rates and a lack of supply have dampened housing market momentum," says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "However, we see several positive signs going into this year's spring homebuying season, compared with last year. For example, consumers are less pessimistic about their personal finances, and more optimistic about the current selling environment and their ability to get a mortgage. Still, those who are pessimistic about buying or selling a home today tend to point to economic conditions as the primary issue, and most consumers continue to say the economy is on the wrong track. Looking forward, we expect to see a pick-up in economic growth later in the year, and this may boost the confidence of prospective buyers and sellers."

Homeownership and Renting

The average 12-month home price change expectation decreased from last month, to 2.7 percent.

The share of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months decreased slightly to 48 percent, while the share who say home prices will go down decreased to 5 percent, an all-time survey low.

The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months decreased to 54 percent, and those who say they will go down fell to 3 percent, tying the all-time survey low.

Those who say it is a good time to buy a house increased slightly from last month to 69 percent and those who say it is a good time to sell a house increased 4 percentage points from last month to 38 percent.

The average 12-month rental price change expectation decreased slightly from last month to 4.2 percent.

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, a slight increase from last month.

Fifty-two percent of respondents thought it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today, tying the all-time survey high first reached in January.

The share who say they would buy if they were going to move increased 2 percentage points to 68 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

The share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track continued on a downward trend decreasing 2 percentage points from last month to 33 percent.

The percentage of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to stay the same over the next 12 months increased 4 percentage points to 45 percent, tying a survey all-time high.

The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased 3 percentage points, to 21 percent.

The share of respondents who say their household expenses are significantly lower than they were 12 months ago fell one percentage point to 8 percent, tying the all-time survey low.

For more information, visit http://www.fanniemae.com/progress.