Northeastern Finalists Compete for Zillow Digs Design Awards

Interior designers and builders all across the northeast region of the U.S. entered their top design projects for your vote. During the month of August, Zillow Digs users selected their favorite designs from hundreds of submissions. Images with the most digs advanced to this regional vote.

Scroll through and select your favorite kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom and patio designs. As if money were no object, ponder your dream home and go with the style that moves you most. Revisit on October 14 to see the best designs in the Northeast. Will America’s favorites align with your picks?

The image with the most votes from each category advances to the national competition for the first ever Zillow Digs Design Awards.

Designers in the South and West claimed their winning spots for the national vote last month. Regional finalists for the Midwest are coming later in October. Be sure to vote in the remaining regions!


Living Room




Article source:

Sia Flipping Mediterranean Mansion in LA

SiaMaybe it was the post-VMA blues.

Less than four months after buying this enchanted Mediterranean-style mansion in the hip Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz, singer-songwriter Sia wants to sell it for $295,000 more than she paid.

The $4.995 million listing comes a few weeks after Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” beat out Sia’s “Elastic Heart” for MTV’s best female video of 2015. Sia won best choreography last year for “Chandelier.”

The 5-bedroom, 5-bath home has a fresh coat of paint, including in the sunken sunroom off the elaborately designed living room.

It also boasts an updated kitchen with marble counters and modern lighting to replace the medieval-looking chandelier above the breakfast table.

The upstairs master suite features a soaking tub, a wood-burning fireplace and a balcony with views of the city. There’s also a billiard room with a bar area, fireplace and outdoor patio.

Its classic architecture is complemented by a lawn alongside gardens, statues and a spa.

The listing agent is Richard Ehrlich of the Westside Estate Agency.

Hat tip to the Real Estalker at Variety for the find.


Article source:

6 Easy Steps to Efficiently Declutter Your Home

Buried in Paperwork with Surrender FlatDoes your home look like a storage locker or a pack rat’s dream? If so, it’s time to purge, declutter and refresh. It may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some quick, effective ways to declutter your home without feeling overwhelmed:

1. Set time aside. If you don’t plan for decluttering, you’ll probably keep putting it off. So, make yourself do it, whether you spend the entire weekend, one evening a week or just a few minutes or a few hours a day. If you’re not sure how or where to start, a home organizer can help you create a game plan.

2.  Make a list. A list will help you get organized, whether it’s your entire living space that needs work or just one particular area. Creating a list of what needs decluttering will also help keep you motivated from start to finish.

3. Start in one spot. Never attempt to declutter all areas at once. Start in one room — or a specific area of one room — and work your way out from there, understanding that it may take a few hours to get it done. Some areas commonly in need of a good declutter include:

  • Counters: Get rid of any old appliances, decorative pieces and utensils you don’t need or use.
    Shelving: Remove old books, trinkets and toys — anything that’s just sitting there gathering dust.
  • Closets: Gather the clothes, shoes and accessories you never wear. Donate the items that are in good shape and toss or make rags out of the rest. Invest in closet organizers for what’s left in your closet to ensure everything stays in its proper place.
  • Cabinets: Go through your kitchen or bathroom cabinets and remove everything that’s been “stuck in the back” or is otherwise cluttering the space. Old dishes, dishtowels and other items can go to secondhand stores or the trash.
  • Drawers: If you have a junk drawer, dump it out on your bed. Then go through it and remove everything but the essentials. When you go to put the drawer back, organize what’s left for easier access and retrieval.

4.  Take it one trash bag at a time. You don’t have to keep a box of trash bags on hand when you start decluttering. Just start with one and see how long it takes you to fill the bag. You might be surprised at how much trash and clothing you’ll come up with. If you can’t fit all of the secondhand store bags in your car, call one of the many donation groups that will pick the bags up from your home.

5. Give away slowly. If you feel that decluttering your space and giving things away will emotionally drain you, space out the process. Once you’ve rid the house of the absolute non-essentials — trash, junk, waste, broken toys and shoes, etc. — then it’s down to those items you hold onto for personal, emotional reasons. Work your way up to it one piece at a time. You might be surprised at how good it feels to give!

6. Designate a routine moving forward. Put a process in place to keep future clutter at bay, and include everyone in the house in that process. Kids should know where their clothes and toys go, and everyone may need to have a dedicated place for shoes and other items near the entryway. Developing a habit for where items go will help you keep your home better organized. For more tips on home organization, check out this post from HuffPost Homes.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall.  Check the blog daily for winning real estate tips and trends for you and your clients.

Article source:

Mortgage Rates Start Q4 Near 2015 Lows, But Will They Hold?

Mortgage rates began the third quarter (Q3) near their highest levels of 2015, and are starting the fourth quarter (Q4) near their lowest levels of the year. Specifically, rates are about .375 percent lower now than they were when Q3 began.

This .375-percent spread translates to material savings for home buyers:

  • If you were buying a $300,000 home with 20 percent down now versus in early July, the rate dip would save you $51 per month.
  • If you were buying a $1 million home with 20 percent down now versus in early July, the rate dip would save you $169 per month.

What a difference a few months makes. Let’s explore why this happened, and where we may go from here.

Rate impact of recent economic data and Fed decisions

This rate dip has to do with worsening economic expectations. Rates rise on positive economic expectations and fall on negative economic expectations.

Economic expectations aren’t just focused on monthly economic data such as jobs growth, inflation, GDP, retail sales, and home sales. They also hinge on the Federal Reserve’s role in rate markets.

Just like rate markets fluctuate when economic data come in stronger or weaker each month, they also fluctuate based on what the Fed says it will do with rates after each of their eight rate-policy setting meetings per year.

The Fed held two such meetings in Q3 — one on July 29 and one on September 17. Global economic expectations called for the Fed to tighten rate policy as this year progressed, with September 17 being a probable time for the Fed to announce a rate hike.

When the Fed maintained its highly stimulative rate policy on September 17, bond markets rallied and rates dropped. Subsequently, this rate drop was aided by two other factors:

The outlook

These factors form the basis of the Q4 rate outlook. Last quarter, we noted that rates had risen to start Q3, but that a further rise during Q3 was unlikely due to non-U.S. weakness being generally offset by U.S. strength.

The big unknown at the time was what the Fed would do. Now that the Fed not only held off a rate hike, but also U.S. data has weakened, rates could hold at or slightly above current levels during Q4.

Since the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve isn’t just a rate market regulator; it’s also a market participant. To help the economy in its most dire state, the Fed started investing directly in the bond markets that move rates daily.

As such, the organization is just as “data dependent” as any other market participant, meaning it changes its expectations and market actions based on how U.S. and non-U.S. economic data reports each month.

Because the Fed is now just as reactionary to monthly data releases as the rest of the rate market, we can expect more big rate swings in Q4, especially leading up to and after the Fed’s October 29 and December 16 rate-policy meetings.

But barring any major unforeseen economic events, the current economic tone suggests rates could hold near these current 2015 lows as we move into the final months of the year.

Watch rates daily or weekly

To keep up with rates along the way:


Article source:

5 Biggest Home-Buying Fears (and How to Face Them)

Buyers’ biggest real estate fears sometimes hold them back from buying — not just around Halloween, but throughout the year. The scary thing is, these fears are sometimes well-founded.

Here are some of the issues that commonly keep home buyers awake at night, and what you can do about them.

“The house has a cracked foundation, dry rot, or a leaky roof”

Renovating, fixing and repairing are on few buyers’ wish lists. When faced with the home of their dreams, they fear the inspection. What if there is dry rot, or a roof or foundation issue?

Most homes will need routine maintenance, and a good inspector will point this out. But it’s important not to let your fears get the best of you. Much of what the inspector comes up with during the inspection is for informational purposes only. Every problem does not need to be repaired right away.

The inspector’s job is to point out every issue he sees in the house. Ask him to explain how bad the issue is, and how long it can go before needing replacement or repair.

If an issue arises that needs immediate attention, go back to the seller and see if they will repair or credit you back to repair after you close.

“I’ll lose my deposit”

Buyers typically put in an earnest money deposit with a signed contract. Typically, this is 3 percent of the purchase price. The seller does not cash the check. Instead, the money sits in an escrow account and can’t be released without both parties’ signatures.

It’s nearly impossible for a buyer to lose their deposit. If you have an inspection, disclosure review or loan contingencies, work closely with your real estate agent to mark those timeframes.

If you need to remove these contingencies in writing, plan to firm things up a day in advance. If you are in negotiations around a contingency date, be sure to extend the contingency date to keep yourself under contract.

“I’ll lose the house”

If you find the home of your dreams, you may have to move fast. Particularly in competitive markets, many homes sell before the first open house to quick acting and super-motivated buyers.

If you see a new listing hit the market, be sure to let your agent know right away. Try to make an appointment to see the home as soon as possible.

Also, find out immediately how the seller’s agent plans to handle any offers received. Sometimes they will take the first offer, especially if it’s a good one. More often than not, the seller and the agent will have an offer date to review offers or ask for best and final offers by a certain day.

If you are travelling or busy with work, be sure not to miss out on your dream home. Be in constant contact with your agent, and flag potential homes that look like a great fit.

“My agent doesn’t have my best interest in mind”

Great agents are always on the prowl for new properties, checking out the market and protecting your best interest at all times.

Some buyers fear that their agent might have different motivations, or that they aren’t on the same page. If you have doubts, change agents. Never settle or take any random agent that comes along as your buyer’s agent.

You and your agent should be committed to each other. Sit down before you begin the process and speak to your agent, much like a job interview. And if you have any doubts about your agent’s abilities or motivations, find another agent.

“We’ll never find a house in time for…”

A real estate purchase should never be rushed. If you have a firm deadline creeping up, make a plan B.

For example, many buyers face an expiring lease or a school application deadline. If you are three months out from a deadline and you haven’t found a house, take the pressure off by putting an alternate plan in place.

Home buying is an expensive and complicated transaction. You don’t want to rush into a purchase and make a mistake. It’s much easier and safer to get another rental or find a temporary address or try some out-of-the-box idea. It may be a little inconvenient, but you can handle it.

If something scares you about a home, the buying process, or a third-party involved in the sale, voice your concerns. Listen to your voice of reason, and stick with your gut.

Many home buyers’ initial fears will fall by the wayside as the buyer gets into the market. Take it slow, and don’t be afraid to take a step back to allow time and space to think things through. It’s better to take your time than to let buying your dream home become a nightmare.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Article source: