Friday, February 26, 2010

Foreclosure Bargains Getting Harder to Find

Home buyers hoping to snag a really good deal on a foreclosed home are finding it increasingly difficult because supply is shrinking.

The number of foreclosures that are available for sale nationwide fell to 617,000 in December, down from 845,000 in November 2008, reports Barclays Capital.

Not only have attractive homes in popular neighborhoods already been snapped up, but also government help for distressed buyers is delaying more foreclosures.

Demand is driving up prices. Investors say typical prices have climbed from 75 percent of appraised value to 85 percent or higher when there are bidding wars.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty (02/23/2010)

Are you ready to snag your next property?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Be Ready to Buy

If you find what you’re looking for in a home, you should be prepared to make an offer quickly. Even if homes are staying on the market a little longer in your neck of the woods, it only takes one other interested buyer to snatch the home or create a bidding war.

You can help the offer process by being ready. In addition to being pre-approved for a loan before you begin looking at properties, it’s wise to be honest with yourself. You know exactly what you want in a home and how much you can actually afford. Make sure to take into account utilities and other monthly expenses associated with homeownership.

Be advised, though, that a quick offer doesn’t necessarily mean a quick end to the transaction. There are myriad potential postponements in a real estate transaction. There may be contingencies, repairs, lender delays, or any number of other issues.

Purchasing real estate can be a tricky and detailed business, but a Texas REALTOR® can help prepare you for the process. He knows the value of properties in your local market and how to navigate the entire process to a smooth conclusion. He’ll use this information to help you submit an excellent offer.

When you have the information you need to make a good decision, your chances of making a successful offer on a property improve. Use a REALTOR® to increase your advantage.

Source:Texas Association of Realtors®

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fast fixes for foreclosed homes

(ARA) - The high volume of foreclosed homes on the market is allowing some astute buyers to turn eyesores into eye-catching properties with only minimal investment. While not every property can be fixed up affordably, there are some common projects that dramatically improve a foreclosed home's appeal and value.

"Many people are finding huge opportunities in fixing up foreclosures," says Tom Sullivan, founder of Lumber Liquidators, the nation's largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring. "Most of these houses can be completely transformed with just a few improvements. Often, the fixes are easy enough to be do-it-yourself projects."

Here are some popular cost-effective options for breathing new life into a home in need.

Add new countertops.

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in any home, since it is a space where people spend a lot of time - from cooking dinner to entertaining friends. One of the most dramatic changes that can be made to a kitchen is adding new countertops. It alters the appearance of the space by changing the color scheme, depth and texture of the whole room.

Countertops range in price depending on room size, type of material and mode of installation. In an average kitchen, a new laminate countertop starts at around $1,000, with granite or quartz ranging from $3,000 to $6,000. Butcher-block countertops are another attractive, yet cost-effective option. Williamsburg Butcher Block Company offers options in both maple and American cherry starting around $310.

Replace the bathtub.

Foreclosed houses frequently come with water stains left by standing water in sinks, toilets and bathtubs. Updating a bathroom by installing a new bathtub not only removes the problem, but, because the tub is a core item, it creates a more pleasant feeling in the room. Bathtubs are available in many different styles and sizes, so there is likely to be one that suits any taste, from traditional to contemporary. Bathtubs start at around $300, depending on the size and style.

Trade carpeting for new wood flooring.

Foreclosed houses are frequently abandoned with soiled carpet that continues to gather buildup over time. Mold is also common in homes that have been left bare for extended periods. To get rid of hidden odors, allergens, irritants and mold, replace carpet with wood, particularly in high-traffic areas such as living rooms and great rooms.

In addition to reviving these common areas, swapping carpet for wood adds style and creates a more spacious feel. The choice of wood can also make a big difference. Light wood colors can make a room appear larger, medium-toned woods can make a room appear more traditional and dark flooring can make a room appear warmer.

"The introduction of so many new species, colors and types of wood flooring in recent years gives homeowners a lot of options when renovating a room at different price points," says Sullivan.

Laminate flooring can deliver the appearance of solid hardwoods, but costs less than $1 per square foot at places like Lumber Liquidators. This allows budget do-it-yourselfers the ability to transform a 400-square-foot area for as little as $750.

In addition to making a foreclosed home look new again, completing these easy and affordable updates can go a long way in restoring the value of the property when it comes time to sell.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Friday, February 5, 2010

Color trends for 2010

2010 color decor and design trends: influenced by life's richness

(ARA) - Indicators are implying that the U.S. economy is finally showing some signs of improvement. The markets are rising, and overall consumer confidence goes up every day. To the relief of people across the country, one area that is at last seeing some light at the end of the tunnel is the housing market.

As the economy stabilizes, homeowners are expected to begin investing more money into their homes, particularly the aesthetics of their homes. But the recession did have a profound impact on the manner in which people approach design and decor.

In economically prosperous times, design and color trends tend to be heavily influenced by tangible, worldly items that are created or manufactured by people and businesses. These items represent the more affluent lifestyles we enjoy during those times.

Correspondingly, during more difficult time periods, design influence returns to holistic, spiritual and simplistic elements that represent the richness of life that abounds in nature, relationships and spirituality.

This year's color trends are rooted in that richness, says Dutch Boy Color Marketing and Design Manager Donna Schroeder.

"Colors that provide hope and affirmation that the greater economic market will continue to improve are at the forefront of decor for 2010," Schroeder says. "People are much more introspective about color this year and will be painting in a way that not only is aesthetically pleasing, but also 'saturates the senses' and is reflective of a society eager to reconnect with education, nature, spirituality and world culture."

According to Schroeder, Dutch Boy's 2010 design trends have been categorized into four different "personalities." These "personality" palettes are composed of colors that embody a homeowner's personal style and taste. Each of the trend personalities, along with images of the paint colors, can be found at


This trend reflects the elements of nature: colors of branches, grasses and dark earth underneath the feet. It's a soothing relief. A retreat from the hectic. It's terra firma ... brought indoors. Purists are concerned about their impact on the world and care deeply about finding balance. Purist colors are natural shades of herbal teas, the stones in the river as the water rushes over them, and the yellow-green of buds as they push up through the springtime earth.

Colors in the Purist palette include: Urban Nature, Naturalist Stone, Lemon Balm, Gingered Root, Catalyst Steel, Natural Canvas, Repurposed and Budding Fern.


Seeker goes beyond the ordinary to showcase shades brought forth by history and architecture. Rich, complex hues give this color personality rooms that have a carefully curated, beautifully symbolic touch. What matters to a Seeker is creating meaning, spirituality and beauty in life. Colorful objects made of precise, hexagonal tiles to stylized, architectural furniture are quintessential to the Seeker.

Colors in the Seeker palette include: Antique Rosewood, Medieval Cloverleaf, Olde Stone, Soul-Quenching, Alabaster Frame, Kimono Red, Crossing Midnight and Cathedral Gray.


Muse is a palette that's all about feeling and experiencing. These are colors that swaddle and soothe the soul. It's a color style that reflects the need for sanctuary. Attention to design detail and just the right sensory colors bring Muse to life. This palette is infused with, and inspires, rich details, fine fabrics and soft twilight shades of blush pinks, rosy peach and lilac.

Colors in the Muse palette include: Quiet Drizzle, Aroma Garden, Melodious Peach, Silken Raspberry, Blossomed Lilac, Composed Bloom, Nightingale's Song and Meadow Pear.


The Storyteller collection shows off color that reflects a life well-lived through traveling and varied interests. Furniture and colors from afar add a vibrant touch to the home and bring life to tales from foreign lands. Everything a Storyteller sees in her travels inspires her home design and color choices. The Storyteller is an experiential explorer.

Colors in the Storyteller palette include: Grecian Sea, Edge of Time, Narrative Cream, Clementine Tart, Journey's End, Treaded Grapes, Wide Open Sky and Spanish Door.

Though these four trend personalities will certainly be prolific this year, many people will combine the four palettes and blend them all into distinctive personalities. Recognizing this, Dutch Boy has collected a "Blend" palette.  What colors are in this palette? All of them.

Blend is exciting, eclectic and adventurous. Blend is, appropriately, a blending combination of two or more of the previous four trends. A person with a Blend personality has a home that is a reflection of the owner's many moods and styles. An airy, light-filled room might be held to earth by chunky furniture or given flight with watercolor prints. Blend personalities could have a Muse kitchen, Storyteller family room, and a combined Purist and Seeker dining room. Coexistence is at the heart of the Blend personality.

Courtesy of ARAcontent