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Driving the Smart Home Surge

September 15, 2017 - 10:01pm

More homeowners are adopting automation, according to a recent survey by CEDIA, a trade association, and HomeAdvisor, relying on professionals in a “smart home surge.” Seventy-five percent of the professionals surveyed, in fact, say they have received more smart home inquiries in recent months, and requests for maintenance once per month or more.

“This report shows that when it comes to smart home technologies, homeowners are migrating away from DIY to more of a ‘do it for me’ mindset,” says Dan DiClerico, smart home strategist at HomeAdvisor.

Smart home devices permeate every part of the home, including doors and windows, landscaping and security, the survey shows. Most professionals report including smart home technology in a larger renovation.

Over 1,400 smart home professionals were surveyed for the report.

Source: HomeAdvisor

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Categories: Real Estate

Understanding Energy Costs

September 13, 2017 - 2:00pm

I was recently contacted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, which provides consumers with unbiased information on U.S. and global energy issues. Its affiliates represent sectors from the energy industry, academia, small businesses, conservation groups to travel-related industries.

The CEA recently released a sweeping study of energy consumption across the country, and analyzed various regions, states, even major municipalities promoting ideas to enhance efficiency and preserve an uninterrupted flow of energy based on expected future population shifts.

To the end consumer, the report paints a fascinating picture of who is paying what for their energy, and why it costs so much, or, in some regions, so little.

According to the CEA study, the average mid-continent family currently enjoys some of the lowest electricity costs in the nation. While these low costs are attributable to the region’s access to natural resources and booming energy production, the report suggests that could end in only a few years unless new infrastructure and pipeline
projects are hastily approved.

This planning is especially important, as some of the nation’s poorest communities like Camden, Ark.; Opelousas, La.; Deming, N.M.; Commerce, Okla.; and San Benito, Texas, dot the mid-continent region. The average household income in these communities is $24,857—55.43 percent less than the national average, the CEA report states.

Even small increases in energy prices could have a devastating effect on families in the mid-continent region where median household incomes are $10,000 to $25,000 less than the national average. In this region, the CEA reported that low-income households pay roughly 22 percent of after-tax income on residential utility bills and gasoline.

While most mid-continent families currently pay, on average, a rate roughly 9 percent lower than the national average of 12.90 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), it is also home to states like Texas, where the average monthly bill is 17 percent higher than the national average.

In addition, the study found:

  • The bottom 20 percent of earners spend almost 10 percent of their income solely on electricity—more than seven times what the top 20 percent pays.
  • Of those low-income earners that spend 10 percent of their income on power bills, half are African-American families.
  • The average household in the U.S. currently pays 13 cents per KwH using, on average, 901 KwH per month totaling $116 in electricity bills. That represents almost one-fifth (4.78 percent) of the average income of the poorest mid-continent families.

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Categories: Real Estate

The Best States for Single Parents

September 8, 2017 - 10:00pm

Parents raising children solo have unique needs. A recent study by GOBankingRates identifies the states with the most favorable conditions for meeting those needs, including an ideal median income:

  1. New Jersey
    Median Household Income: $72,093
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program
  1. Rhode Island
    Median Household Income: $56,852
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program
  1. Michigan
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid and earned-income tax credit
    Bonus: The average grocery cost and home list price in Michigan are among the lowest in the nation.
  1. Washington
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program (effective 2019)
    Bonus: There is no state income tax in Washington.
  1. Illinois
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid and earned-income tax credit
    Bonus: Illinois has the fourth-lowest employee contribution amount for employer-sponsored family health coverage.

Source: GOBankingRates

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Categories: Real Estate

Consumer Confidence Keeps Improving

September 1, 2017 - 10:05pm

Consumer confidence kept improving in August, posting a 122.9 reading in the latest Consumer Confidence Index® from The Conference Board. The Expectations reading of the Index rose to 104.0, while the Present Situation reading rose to 151.2. July’s reading was 120.0.

“Consumer confidence increased in August following a moderate improvement in July,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board in a statement. “Consumers’ more buoyant assessment of present-day conditions was the primary driver of the boost in confidence, with the Present Situation Index continuing to hover at a 16-year high. Consumers’ short-term expectations were relatively flat, though still optimistic, suggesting that they do not anticipate an acceleration in the pace of economic activity in the months ahead.”

The percentage of consumers who believe business conditions are “good,” as defined by the Index, increased from 32.5 percent in July to 34.5 percent in August; the percentage of those who believe business conditions are “bad” decreased from 13.5 percent in July to 13.1 percent in August. The percentage of those who expect business conditions to improve decreased from 22.4 percent in July to 19.6 percent in August; the percentage of those who expect business conditions to worsen decreased from 8.4 percent in July to 7.3 percent in August.

The percentage of consumers who believe jobs are “plentiful” increased from 33.2 percent in July to 35.4 percent in August, according to the Index; the percentage of those who believe jobs are “hard to get” decreased from 18.7 percent in July to 17.3 percent in August. The percentage of those who expect more jobs in the coming months decreased from 18.5 percent in July to 17.1 percent in August; the percentage of those who expect less jobs in the coming months decreased from 13.2 percent in July to 13.0 percent in August.

The percentage of consumers who expect higher incomes increased from 20.0 percent in July to 20.9 percent in August; the percentage of those who expect a decrease increased from 9.5 percent in July to 7.8 percent in August.

Source: The Conference Board

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Categories: Real Estate

WalletHub: 10 Best Housing Markets

September 1, 2017 - 10:01pm

What makes for an attractive housing market? Analysts at WalletHub recently identified several indicators of desirability, using a 100-point scoring system in 300 markets to rank the top 10 in the nation:

  1. Frisco, Texas
  2. McKinney, Texas
  3. Allen, Texas
  4. Cary, N.C.
  5. Richardson, Texas
  6. Seattle, Wash.
  7. Bellevue, Wash.
  8. Carrollton, Texas
  9. Nashville, Tenn.
  10. Denver, Colo.

The indicators applied in the ranking included average days on market, median home price appreciation, the share of homes selling for a gain, and the share of underwater homes.

Five of the top 10 markets are in Texas, which also dominates as the state home to four of the top five in the ranking. No. 1 Frisco boasts the second-lowest home maintenance costs of the 300 markets evaluated, while No. 3 Allen has the third-lowest and No. 4 Cary has the fourth-lowest. No. 6 Seattle is tied for first for the lowest average days on market, while No. 7 Bellevue has the fourth-lowest foreclosure rate.

View the complete ranking and methodology.

Source: WalletHub

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Categories: Real Estate

Research: Gardening Knows No Borders

September 1, 2017 - 10:00pm

Homeowners the world over get down and dirty in the garden, according to recently released findings by market researcher GfK, with outdoor grooming most common Down Under. Forty-five percent of Australians spend time in the garden daily or weekly—the most of the 17 countries surveyed. Gardening is also popular in China, Mexico, the U.S. and Germany, where one-third or more of those surveyed get out in the yard daily or weekly.

Green-thumbing is a chore in some countries, however, especially in Argentina, Japan, Russia, Spain and South Korea, where most of those surveyed do not garden at all.

Twenty-four percent of survey respondents across all the countries surveyed garden at least once per week, while 7 percent garden “every day” or “most days.” Thirty-six percent of those aged 60 or older garden daily or weekly—on par with the 35 percent of those in their 30s who do the same.

Unsurprisingly, homeowners are twice as likely to garden daily or weekly than renters.

Source: GfK

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Categories: Real Estate

14 Times Pop Culture Predicted Future Technology

August 31, 2017 - 2:17pm

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

When the film-makers of yesteryear contemplated the future, it didn’t look like a very happy place—and not much has changed. You don’t need to look much further than the dystopian dramas that Hollywood is so fond of producing. But while sci-fi movies rarely predicted the nature of society, they did happen to predict a few items of futuristic technology. Did you know that 3D printing, the Roomba and Siri were all predicted by movies and television shows decades before they existed?

So the next time you scoff at a Hollywood blockbuster for being too far-fetched, take a minute to ask yourself if your grandfather would have believed that he would see a flying car in his lifetime. In the meantime, check out this visual guide which explores the 14 times pop culture accurately predicted the future!

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Categories: Real Estate

Most Important Features Millennials Want in Their Homes

August 28, 2017 - 2:10pm

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

There have been a lot of studies, think pieces and discussions trying to figure out millennials. Business owners were skeptical about hiring millennials a few years ago and now, as this younger generation continues to grow and succeed in life, the housing market seems to be the next millennial-facing industry.

There’s no doubt that millennials have finally entered the housing market. In fact, they currently make up 35 percent of buyers throughout the United States. Approximately 68 percent of all first-time home buyers fall into this age bracket, as well. But what do they want inside their homes?

Let’s take a look and see what millennials are looking for when it comes to buying a home.

Separate Laundry Rooms – Say what you will about millennials and their laundry habits, the majority of millennial homebuyers are searching for homes with an additional room just for laundry. Roughly 92 percent of homebuyers want a separate laundry room, coming in as the No. 1 thing millennials are looking for.

Outdoor Lighting – The second most desired feature for millennial homebuyers is exterior lighting. Roughly 90 percent of all people searching for a home in the current market want exterior lighting to illuminate their landscape.

Energy-Efficient Appliances – Another aspect of home-buying that cracks the top 10 for millennials is having energy-efficient appliances inside the home. (In fact, across every generation of homebuyers, 90 percent of people are looking for this feature.)

Hardwood Floors – Millennial homebuyers also prefer hardwood floors for their homes. Rather than choosing carpeting, approximately 82 percent of homebuyers are searching for properties with open hardwood floor plans.

There are still plenty of millennials who aren’t ready to buy a home just yet—but it looks like these are the kinds of features they will be looking for when they are ready to enter the housing market.

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Categories: Real Estate

What to Buy (and Not Buy) in September

August 28, 2017 - 2:07pm

The perfect storm of Labor Day, back-to-school and end-of-summer clearance sales make September ideal for bargain-hunters. From consumer watchdog DealNews.com, here’s the scoop on what’s best to buy in September—and what purchases to put on the back burner:

Summer Apparel – No surprise here—retailers ranging from big-box outlets to designers blow out summer styles in September. Pro tip: Buy for your family now and stow it for next year.

Grills/Patio Furniture – Like summer apparel, leftover grill and patio furniture inventory goes on sale in September. Look for items stacked at the front of hardware and home stores for the best bargains.

Big-Screen TVs – The best big-screen buys in September are on mid-size models (the perfect size for apartments or dorm rooms), but larger sizes are often marked down, as well.

Mattresses – Historically, the best times to purchase a new mattress were in April or May—but Labor Day sales are becoming another contender. Pro tip: Double-down on a deal by using coupons on top of sale prices.

Laptops – Seventy-five percent of laptops are discounted considerably for back-to-school season. Big-box electronics providers are your best bet for the best deals.
 
Previous Generation iPhones
 – There are appreciable savings to be had on older iPhones in September, when the new model typically rolls out. Rock-bottom bargains on these devices can be found on online auction sites, like eBay.

Textbooks – Both buyers and sellers of textbooks can expect deals in September, when need is highest.

DealNews.com advises shoppers to hold off on buying washers, dryers and other large appliances, as well as some electronics, in September. While the month brings decent sales on these items, Black Friday sales in November have historically yielded better savings.

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Categories: Real Estate

The Renter Budget: Most and Least Costly Cities

August 25, 2017 - 10:01pm

Renters’ budgets are being stretched in many cities—but some more than others, according to a new study by GOBankingRates. The most costly:

  1. San Francisco, Calif.
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $3,395
  1. San Jose, Calif.
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $2,505
  1. New York
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $2,395
  1. Washington, D.C.
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $2,271
  1. Jersey City, N.J.
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $2,200

The least costly:

  1. El Paso, Texas
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $555
  1. Detroit, Mich.
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $600
  1. Wichita, Kan.
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $625
  1. Tucson, Ariz.
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $628
  1. Fresno, Calif.
    Median Rent (One-Bedroom Apartment): $650

Source: GOBankingRates

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Categories: Real Estate

5 States Where Residents Lead Richer Lives

August 25, 2017 - 10:00pm

Select states have a quality of life that surpasses others in areas such as employment, housing and safety. A recent study by GOBankingRates ranks the top five:

  1. New Hampshire
    Median Household Income: $66,779
    Median Home List Price: $278,000
    Violent Crimes Per 1,000 People: 1.99
  1. Wyoming
    Median Household Income: $58,840
    Median Home List Price: $238,125
    Violent Crimes Per 1,000 People: 2.22
  1. Virginia
    Median Household Income: $65,015
    Median Home List Price: $299,950
    Violent Crimes Per 1,000 People: 1.96
  1. North Dakota
    Median Household Income: $57,181
    Median Home List Price: $201,500
    Violent Crimes Per 1,000 People: 2.39
  1. Delaware
    Median Household Income: $60,509
    Median Home List Price: $260,000
    Violent Crimes Per 1,000 People: 4.99

 

Source: GOBankingRates

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Categories: Real Estate

Nevada’s Creepy Clown Motel Is Now for Sale

August 21, 2017 - 1:34pm

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Located in the old gold and silver mining town of Tonopah, Nev., this Clown Motel is most certainly not the place for people suffering from coulrophobia (a.k.a., the fear of clowns). Not only is the lobby filled with hundreds of assorted clowns, from figurines and wall art to assorted trinkets, but each and every room is clown themed, as well.

Freaky enough for ya? It gets worse.

The motel shares a lot with a cemetery full of gold miners who died from a plague. The cemetery is literally right next door. It’s like a real-life horror film. Picture this: It’s after midnight and you’ve just checked into your clown-infested room when you realize: you left your phone charger in the car! No big deal—you’ll just have to leave your room, alone, at night, to run to your car that is more or less sitting in a probably-haunted cemetery full of things that go bump in the night. Not panic-inducing at all! It’s like House of 1,000 Corpses meets Stephen King’s It meets From Dusk Till Dawn. (Is it Halloween yet?)

Image Credit: Travel Nevada

The motel’s owner, Bob Perchetti, is ready to retire and move on from the creepy clown shrine he opened 20 years ago. We can only guess what kind of buyer is going to chomp at this bit—actually, we shudder to think.

The motel is for sale for $900,000, but one condition: the motel must keep its heritage.

Take a further look inside The Clown Motel in this video from Las Vegas Now.

Nick Caruso is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at nick@rismedia.com.

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Categories: Real Estate

The Best Cities for Retirees to Call Home

August 18, 2017 - 10:04pm

Ask any retiree what mattered most in their search for a new home, and most will tell you location. A recent study by WalletHub ranked the top locations for soon-to-be retirees, weighing cost of living, health care, quality of life and recreation—and in a not-so-unexpected twist, the top three locations in the ranking were all within the Sunshine State:

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Tampa, Fla.
  3. Miami, Fla.
  4. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  5. Atlanta, Ga.

Several other cities outside of the top five were named ideal for retirees, as well. Laredo, Texas was ranked No. 1 based on cost of in-home care and cost of living, while Plano, Texas, and Grand Prairie, Texas, were ranked No.1 and No. 3, respectively, in most employed retirees. (Many people of retirement age are simply forced to keep working due to a lack of savings, according to WalletHub.) Some sprawling metropolitan areas are suited for retirees seeking an active lifestyle; Washington, D.C., for instance, is tied for first for the most museums and senior centers per capita.

When it comes solely to weather, however, California cannot be beat: Glendale, Riverside and Bakersfield ranked in the top three for “mild weather,” followed by Scottsdale, Ariz., and Henderson, Nev.

Source: WalletHub

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Categories: Real Estate

Are You Checking Email on Vacation?

August 14, 2017 - 1:45pm

(TNS)—How does the U.S. stack up when it comes to taking vacation time?

As vacation spending in the U.S. surpasses $1 billion, people are definitely getting away more—but what is the quality of that vacation actually looking like?

An Ipsos Global poll looked at the way the world vacations and found that more and more people are spending time away from home, but fewer are fully disconnecting while gone.

Six in 10 respondents in the 25 countries surveyed said they have spent or would spend at least one full week away from work.

The three countries where the most people take a vacation away from home are India (80 percent), Great Britain (72 percent) and China (70 percent). There were just three countries where a majority said they would not be taking time away from work and home life: Hungary, South Korea and Japan.

In the U.S., 61 percent said they would likely spend a week or more on vacation.

Across all countries, 65 percent of travelers said they use all of the vacation time that they are given; however, this number has fallen over the past decade, declining the most in China, Japan, Italy and Australia.

While people are taking more time away from home, that doesn’t mean they are disconnecting. Less than half of respondents say they don’t check work emails when on vacation. This was slightly better in the U.S., where 52 percent say they don’t check their emails while away.

Since 2009, the number of those who check work messages increased across almost all countries surveyed.

Where are people staying the most connected? Vacationers in Italy, Japan, Spain and Belgium can’t seem to put their phones and laptops away while they are away. There are just two countries where the number of people staying in touch with work has decreased: Mexico and Brazil.

Overall, a strong majority of Americans have or plan to take time off this year. What we really need to work on is putting the phone down when we do.

©2017 Travelpulse
Visit Travelpulse at www.travelpulse.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Real Estate

Want to Save for a Down Payment? Skip the Pre-Wedding Shenanigans

August 13, 2017 - 11:03am

Would-be homeowners can easily plunk down savings for a home—if they forgo their friends’ one last hurrah before the big day.

A recent report by Zillow reveals the cost of destination bachelor or bachelorette parties can equal up to one-third of a down payment on a median-priced home. With attendees spending an average $1,106 (for destination bachelorette parties) and $1,532 (for destination bachelor parties), according to The Knot, partaking in just nine pre-marriage celebrations—or three each year for three years—would total 34 percent, or $13,788, of a 20 percent down payment on a median-priced home.

Without question, the amount of parties needed to rack up one-third of a down payment varies by market:

Bachelor and bachelorette getaways are just one of several stereotypically “millennial” spending choices called into question as of late. Earlier this year, one real estate developer singled out avocados, telling Australia’s “60 Minutes”: “When I was buying my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for 19 bucks and four coffees at $4 each.”

“Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases someone will ever make, and for most first-time buyers, that means years of saving money to afford a down payment,” says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow. “Attending your friends’ bachelor or bachelorette parties can be a trip of a lifetime. While everyone’s budget and priorities are different, big-ticket expenses like vacations can add up surprisingly quickly—a lot faster than a $19 avocado toast.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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Categories: Real Estate

5 of the Best Cities to Flip Houses In

August 2, 2017 - 1:40pm

Flipping a house can be a profitable endeavor—especially in cities where flips thrive. The best cities, according to recently released findings from a study by WalletHub, boast a combination of a desirable quality of life, cost-effective renovation expenses and prime market potential.

The following cities, based on those criteria, are best for flips:

  1. El Paso, Texas
    El Paso earned the No. 1 ranking in WalletHub’s study, with a total score of 69.6. El Paso has the third-lowest bathroom remodeling costs, on average, of the 150 cities evaluated.
  1. Sioux Falls, S.D.
    Sioux Falls earned the No. 2 spot in the ranking, with a total score of 69.52.
  1. Fort Wayne, Ind.
    Fort Wayne earned the No. 3 spot in the ranking, with a total score of 67.38.
  1. Peoria, Ariz.
    Peoria earned the No. 4 spot in the ranking, with a total score of 66.6. Peoria has the fourth-lowest whole-home remodeling costs, on average, of the 150 cities evaluated.
  1. Oklahoma City, Okla.
    Oklahoma City earned the No. 5 spot in the ranking, with a total score of 66.56. Oklahoma City has the fifth-most real estate agents per capita of the 150 cities evaluated.

Source: WalletHub

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Categories: Real Estate