According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, “outdoor living” has taken a whole new meaning in the luxury home sector. With the cost of travel and security concerns on the rise, people have been choosing to stay at home more and are spending their vacation budget on creating a home away from home….at home!

             What used to be a place for the occasional grill and beer get-together, the backyard is turning into a mini resort outfitted with state of the art kitchens, plasma screen TVs, Japanese infinity spas, waterfall showers, and even outdoor bedrooms.

               Last year homeowners spent almost $300 billion dollars in home improvements and Harvard’s Center for Housing Studies predicts that improvement spending will increase by 45% over the next 10 years. While much of that money has gone to standard kitchen and bathroom upgrades, some has been spent on outdoor fireplaces, $20,000 four person hammocks, designer tree houses and pergola covered living rooms.

            Forget all the hassle with luggage, jet lag and those tiresome details that accompany planning a vacation. Create a vacation spot in your backyard and you can step out your door into your own little piece of paradise and enjoy it any day of the week!   

Good News in the Face of Mortgage Problems

Every day we hear about mortgage banking organizations closing and certain mortgage products being eliminated.  Stocks of many surviving lenders are low, and it is common to find shares in the industry that have lost 90 percent of their value in the past few weeks and months, according to a report from the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

This economic downturn is mostly the result of the relaxed credit activity of subprime lenders over the last six years. The interest rates on these subprime loans are now adjusting to higher rates, making them unaffordable to many investors and homeowners, and causing delinquent mortgage payments and home foreclosures. Borrowers with good credit, however, are having no difficulty in making their mortgage payments, and new mortgages are available to them today just as they were a year ago.  Fannie/Freddie/FHA/and VA mortgages are fully available, underwriting is unchanged, and funding for closing as reliable as ever. In fact, mortgage applications are increasing, according to a recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.  Subprime loans are still available, but they are more difficult to find and their rates and terms have toughened up.

The rising inventories of unsold homes are benefiting today’s home buyers.  They have more homes to choose from and mortgage financing with historic low rates is still available for buyers with good credit histories.  Sellers are also becoming more realistic in the pricing of their property, and more open to negotiations.

Different Generations Want Unique Features in a Home

generations-featuresIf you are preparing to sell your house in an area that is dominated by a certain age group, it’s important to do a little “market research” about what your buyers are looking for in a home. Although there are many aspects of a home that are universally desirable to most homebuyers, some features are more “generation specific”.

The era that each generation was born into has as much influence on their tastes and needs as their stage of life does. For example, members of the Silent Generation, born in the Great Depression, want economy and are looking to retire in a smaller home fitted with safety “age in place” features. They want to stay close to family, doctors and medical facilities and have easy access to social gathering places.  While Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964), born in more affluent times, want space and luxury.  They want a private retreat for retirement and put state-of-the- art kitchens, whirlpool baths, fireplaces and walk-in closets at the top of their must-have lists. This “sandwich” generation homebuyer is often looking for that “granny flat” outside, to house a parent or a grown child.

Be sure to ask your REALTOR® what cost effective features you can add to your home to make it more attractive to the buyers in your area.