Real Estate News

    • 7 On-Trend Kitchen Upgrades

      19 May 2022

      (Family Features) Designers from coast to coast are cooking up fresh ideas for kitchen upgrades. This year’s hottest trends bring numerous fresh aesthetic approaches while functionality also plays a leading role in top design ideas.

      If you are planning a kitchen upgrade, take inspiration from these on-trend elements spotted by the design experts at Wellborn Cabinet:

      Unique Tile
      In recent years, backsplash tile has taken a more prominent role in kitchen design and has continued to grow in popularity to the point where tile is now a full-stop focal point. From eye-catching colors and patterns to texture that brings new dimension, kitchen tile can make a big statement. In fact, bold tile is not just limited to the backsplash. Patterned tile is an on-trend option for adding character to your flooring and dressing up commonly under-designed spaces like the window jamb with a practical material, like tile, that is easy to clean and maintain.

      Multiple Appliances
      Function is front and center in residential kitchen design this year, and homeowners’ growing demands to go big on appliances is proof. From double ovens to extra dishwashers, homeowners are committing to more useful features. There are even some kitchens that boast two refrigerators, which may be a nod to the way grocery shopping habits shifted during the pandemic, with fewer, but larger, trips to the store.

      Walk-Through Pantries
      Whether you are capitalizing on the mystique of a “hidden” room or attracted to the idea of a more seamless aesthetic, a walk-through pantry can be a stunning and functional solution. With a walk-through pantry, you can add extra space to an existing pantry to create a better flow to your floor plan. Available in a variety of widths and heights, Wellborn Cabinet’s Walk-Through Pantry blends naturally into the rest of your cabinetry to create visual continuity. Integrated magnetic door catches add stability and keep doorways securely closed.

      Wood Finishes
      After years of painted cabinets and woodwork dominating kitchen design, wood grain finishes are making a comeback. The look is cozy and inviting, and with a wide span of stain options, it is equally possible to take the look ultra-modern or veer toward a more traditional style. Outside of cabinetry, there is plenty of room to incorporate the warmth of wood, such as butcher-block counters or exposed beams.

      Green, Blue and Earth Tones
      Jewel-inspired hues had their moment, but this season’s color scheme is more about subtle shades that meld with neutrals for lighter, brighter spaces that feel airier and more spacious. Greens, in particular, pair well with an array of wood finishes, whether cabinetry, countertops or furnishings. Integrating greens, blues and other nature-inspired colors allows you to bring earthy serenity to a bustling and busy room, and this motif lends itself well to a design that creates a cohesive connection with adjacent outdoor living space.

      Clever Storage Solutions
      The kitchen is a busy place prone to clutter, and this season you will find multiple examples of practical solutions showing up in showcase kitchens. The features that can make your kitchen chores easier and neater come in all shapes and sizes. For example, discreet knife blocks tucked into drawers, drawer dividers for maximum customization and sliders that make it easy to empty the trash and recycling bins.

      Marble Countertops
      Marble is not necessarily a new trend, but this year’s attention is on slabs of marble with eye-catching veins that make counters really pop. For a fresh take on marble, forgo the typical white, gray or black styles in favor of color. Standout gold veining or even full slabs with stunning greens, blues and reds can make a statement. If budget is an issue, or you are worried about too much of a good thing, consider using a bold slab on a smaller space, like the island, rather than outfitting the entire kitchen.

      Find more on-trend ideas to upgrade your kitchen at Wellborn.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Why You Should Check Your Credit Reports on a Regular Basis

      19 May 2022

      Financial institutions request copies of credit reports to help them decide whether to approve loan and credit card applications. Reviewing your credit reports regularly can help you correct any errors and better understand your overall financial situation.

      Find Inaccurate Data 
      Sometimes the information contained in credit reports is inaccurate or out of date. One person’s data may wind up in another person’s credit report if the two individuals have the same or similar names. Identity thieves may create fraudulent accounts using stolen personal data. Credit reports may list closed accounts as active or may not include up-to-date information on payments that have been made. Derogatory information, such as a bankruptcy, may still be included in a credit report when it should have been removed. If lenders base their decisions on inaccurate or outdated information, you may be denied a loan or credit card that you deserve.

      Get a Better Handle on Your Finances
      In your credit reports, you will see all the debt you have. If your credit utilization ratio— the percentage of your total available credit that you’re using—is too high, you may be denied credit. 

      Credit reports usually don’t contain credit scores, but you may be able to request them when you check your credit reports. Monitoring your credit regularly can help you spot trends. If you consistently make payments on time and keep your credit utilization ratio down, you may see your credit scores climb. If you make late payments or let your debt get too high, your credit scores may decrease. That information can help you figure out if you need to make changes to your spending habits. 

      Prepare for a Major Purchase 
      Many people don’t give much thought to their creditworthiness until they want to buy a house or a car. If you want to take out a loan, but your credit isn’t good, you may be denied. If you happen to get approved, you may have to pay a high interest rate. Keeping track of your credit standing will give you time to address any problems and get your credit in shape before you need to borrow money. 

      How to Get Copies of Your Credit Reports
      The three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) compile their own credit reports. Companies that you do business with don’t necessarily report information about you to all of them. Your three reports may contain different information, which is why it’s important to check them all. 

      You can go to annualcreditreport.com to request free copies of your credit reports from each of the three bureaus once a year. You can get them all at once or at different times. Requesting copies of your own credit reports won’t lower your credit scores.

      Beware of other websites that claim to offer free credit reports. In many cases, you’ll be required to provide credit card information and will be billed monthly fees if you don’t cancel your membership. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should You Take out a Jumbo Loan?

      19 May 2022

      People who need to borrow money to buy a new home typically take out a conventional mortgage. If you want to purchase an expensive property, a conventional mortgage may not be able to provide the amount of money you need. In that case, you may want to consider a jumbo mortgage.

      What is a Jumbo Loan?
      Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac limit the amount that a customer may borrow through a conventional mortgage. A jumbo mortgage is a non-conforming loan that allows a homebuyer to borrow more than is typically allowed. The limit depends on location. 

      Some lenders only allow a jumbo mortgage to be used for a primary residence, while others will approve an application for a vacation home or investment property. In some cases, a second appraisal may be required.

      Can You Qualify for a Jumbo Mortgage?
      Jumbo loans can’t be guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which means a lender won’t be protected if a borrower doesn’t make the required payments. Since jumbo loans are riskier for lenders than conventional loans, the requirements for jumbo mortgages are more stringent. 

      Lenders set their own jumbo mortgage criteria. If you apply for a jumbo loan, a lender may request more documentation than it would for a conventional loan to make sure that you have a consistent income and will be able to afford the monthly payments.

      Down payment requirements are typically higher for jumbo loans than for conventional mortgages. The percentage you have to put down may depend, in part, on your credit score. Minimum credit scores depend on the amount to be borrowed but are generally stricter for jumbo loans. Debt-to-income ratio guidelines are more stringent for jumbo loans than for conventional mortgages. 

      You may need reserves with enough money to cover 12 months or more of mortgage payments. The requirement may be lower if you have a large down payment, high credit score and low debt-to-income ratio. A lender may count a percentage of your retirement savings as reserves.

      A jumbo loan may have a fixed or adjustable interest rate. Rates for jumbo loans are typically close to those for conventional loans. Jumbo mortgages generally have higher closing costs.

      Is a Jumbo Loan Right for You?
      If you live in an area where home prices are high in general, or if you live in a place where houses are more affordable overall, but you want to buy an expensive property, a jumbo mortgage can help you get the home of your dreams. It can be risky, though. The payments may be a stretch, so you should be sure that your finances are in order, your job is secure and the house you want to buy is worth it before you consider taking out a jumbo mortgage.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • What You Need to Know About Cholesterol

      18 May 2022

      (Family Features) Understanding and improving cholesterol is important for people of all ages, including children and teens. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can help keep your heart healthy and lower your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke.

      High cholesterol usually has no symptoms. In fact, about 38% of adults in the United States are diagnosed with high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Understanding what cholesterol is, the role it plays, when to get screened and how to manage it are important aspects of protecting your overall health and prevent a heart attack or stroke.

      Understanding Cholesterol
      A waxy, fat-like substance created by the liver and consumed from meat, poultry and dairy products, cholesterol isn’t inherently bad for you. In fact, your body needs it to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. However, too much cholesterol circulating in the blood can pose a problem.

      The two types of cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is considered “bad,” and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which can be thought of as “good” cholesterol. Too much of the “bad” kind, or not enough of the “good,” increases the risk of cholesterol slowly building up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain.

      Cholesterol can join with other substances to form a thick, hard deposit on the inside of the arteries called plaque. This can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible – a condition known as atherosclerosis. If a blood clot forms, it may be more likely to get stuck in one of these narrowed arteries, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

      Understanding Risk
      Your body naturally produces all the LDL it needs. An unhealthy lifestyle can make your body produce more LDL than required. Behaviors that may negatively affect your cholesterol levels include lack of physical activity, obesity, eating an unhealthy diet and smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke.

      In addition to unhealthy habits, which are the cause of high LDL cholesterol for most people, some people inherit genes from their parents or grandparents – called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) – that cause them to have too much cholesterol and can lead to premature atherosclerotic heart disease. If you have a family history of FH or problems related to high cholesterol, it’s important to get your levels checked.

      Getting Cholesterol Checked
      Adults age 20 and older should have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every 4-6 years as long as their risk remains low. After age 40, your health care professional will use an equation to calculate your 10-year risk of heart attack or stroke. People with cardiovascular disease, and those at elevated risk, may need their cholesterol and other risk factors assessed more often.

      Managing Cholesterol
      If you have high cholesterol, understanding your risk for heart disease and stroke is one of the most important things you can do, along with taking steps to lower your cholesterol.
      Often, simply changing certain behaviors can help bring your numbers into line. Eating a heart-healthy diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean or plant-based protein, fish and nuts while limiting red and processed meats, sodium and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages is one of the best ways to lower your cholesterol. While grocery shopping, look for the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark to help identify foods that can be part of an overall healthy eating pattern.

      Other lifestyle changes include losing weight, quitting smoking and becoming more physically active, as a sedentary lifestyle can lower HDL. To help lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure, experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week, such as walking, biking or swimming.

      For some people, lifestyle changes may prevent or manage unhealthy cholesterol levels. For others, medication may also be needed. Work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. If medication is required, be sure to take it as prescribed.

      Controlling your cholesterol may be easier than you think. Learn more about managing your cholesterol at heart.org/cholesterol.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Design a Relaxing Home Yoga Studio

      18 May 2022

      As luxury homeowners increasingly seek out amenity-filled residences, interest in personal yoga studios is on the rise. After all, if you can’t make it to your favorite yoga class, there’s nothing better than having your own space to practice right at home. For those who want to relax the mind while getting in some exercise, here are several tips for designing a yoga studio right under your roof.

      Pick the Right Space
      Perhaps the biggest challenge is finding where to create your studio. Ideally, it will be somewhere that’s free from any distractions or background noises. A separate cottage or guest house can be great for this, but if that’s not possible, a quiet part of the home will do just fine. Additionally, large windows that allow natural light and frame a peaceful view can help take your studio to the next level.

      Focus on Design
      Often, a yoga studio has a minimalist feel, so you’ll want to focus on keeping it organized and decluttered above all else. A few houseplants and carefully chosen pieces of art could be all you need to create the right ambience. Also, be sure to pay attention to the color palette and try to decorate the studio with tones that you find soothing. 

      Consider Smart Tech
      For those who enjoy attending yoga classes with a professional instructor, you can get the same experience with smart fitness equipment like Tonal and Mirror. By installing this state-of-the-art equipment in your home, you can stream an endless selection of live and pre-recorded classes in your studio at any time.

      Embrace Imperfection
      While it’s easy to get caught up in creating an Instagram-worthy space, it’s important to remember that nothing is perfect. This is a room that should bring you a sense of peace and relaxation, so the last thing you should be doing is getting stressed over the design. Embracing the beauty of imperfection will help to ensure you get the most out of your yoga studio.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.