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News And Mortgage Reports

Zillow Mortgage Marketplace: 30-Year Rate Back Below 4%

2014-07-22 15:17:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Financing, Refinancing Zillow*The weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest in six-hour intervals. By Alexa Fiander Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.97 percent, down from 4.05 percent at this same time last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered between 3.96 and 4.08 percent for the majority of the week before settling at the current rate on Tuesday. "Rates dropped below 4 percent on Thursday amid the uncertainty and turmoil following the MH17 flight disaster and ongoing military activity in the Middle East," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "This week, despite a fair amount of domestic economic data slated for release, we expect events in the Middle East and Ukraine will continue to put a damper on rates." Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.01 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.77 percent. Purchase Mortgage Application Activity: Zillow predicts tomorrow's seasonally adjusted Mortgage Bankers Association Weekly Application Index will show purchase loan activity to increase by 4 percent from the week prior. To learn more about this Zillow analysis, click here. What are the interest rates right now? Check Zillow Mortgages for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state. Permalink | Email this | Comments

10 Rules for Arranging Furniture the Right Way

2014-07-22 12:31:00

Filed under: Design, News, How To By Fred Albert Like a blank page or canvas, an empty room can be either an opportunity or a challenge. With so many ways to fill it, how do you know where to start? I've taken some of the basic rules of furniture arrangement and distilled them into 10 simple tips. They'll help you figure out where to put things, where not to put things and how to prioritize the choices you make. These guidelines won't turn you into an interior designer overnight. But they'll steer you in the right direction and help you to achieve professional-looking results with a minimum of stress. Traditional Living Room by Wilmette Architects & Building Designers Boomgaarden Architects Function. Consider how the room is used and how many people will use it. That will dictate the type of furnishings you'll need and the amount of seating required Rustic Living Room by Birmingham Architects & Building Designers Dungan Nequette Architects Focal point. Identify the room's focal point - a fireplace, view, television etc.- and orient the furniture accordingly. If you plan to watch television in the room, the ideal distance between the set and the seating is three times the size of the screen (measured diagonally). Therefore, if you've got a 40-inch set, your chair should be 120 inches away. Eclectic Living Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Tamara Mack Design Priority. Place the largest pieces of furniture first, such as the sofa in the living room or the bed in the bedroom. In most cases this piece should face the room's focal point. Chairs should be no more than 8 feet apart to facilitate conversation. Unless your room is especially small, avoid pushing all the furniture against the walls. Traditional Living Room Symmetry. Symmetrical arrangements work best for formal rooms. Asymmetrical arrangements make a room feel more casual. Traditional Family Room by Other Metro Furniture & Accessories Indese Traffic. Think about the flow of traffic through the room - generally the path between doorways. Don't block that path with any large pieces of furniture if you can avoid it. Allow 30 to 48 inches of width for major traffic routes and a minimum of 24 inches of width for minor ones. Try to direct traffic around a seating group, not through the middle of it. If traffic cuts through the middle of the room, consider creating two small seating areas instead of one large one. Traditional Living Room by Vero Beach Interior Designers & Decorators L K DeFrances & Associates Variety. Vary the size of furniture pieces throughout the room, so your eyes move up and down as you scan the space. Balance a large or tall item by placing another piece of similar height across the room from it (or use art to replicate the scale). Avoid putting two tall pieces next to each other. Midcentury Living Room by Winchester Interior Designers & Decorators Kristen Rivoli Interior Design Contrast. Combine straight and curved lines for contrast. If the furniture is modern and linear, throw in a round table for contrast. If the furniture is curvy, mix in an angular piece. Similarly, pair solids with voids: Combine a leggy chair with a solid side table, and a solid chair with a leggy table. Traditional Living Room by Atlanta General Contractors Malone Construction Company Ease of use. Place a table within easy reach of every seat, being sure to combine pieces of similar scale, and make sure every reading chair has an accompanying lamp. Coffee tables should be located 14 to 18 inches from a sofa to provide sufficient legroom. Traditional Dining Room by Oviedo Interior Designers & Decorators Roman Interior Design Circulation. In a dining room, make sure there's at least 48 inches between each edge of the table and the nearest wall or piece of furniture. If traffic doesn't pass behind the chairs on one side of the table, 36 inches should suffice. In bedrooms allow at least 24 inches between the side of the bed and a wall, and at least 36 inches between the bed and a swinging door. Traditional Floor Plan by Brooksville Home Builders Historic Shed Planning. Give your back a break. Before you move any actual furniture, test your design on paper. Measure the room's dimensions, noting the location of windows, doors, heat registers and electrical outlets, then draw up a floor plan on graph paper using cutouts to represent the furnishings. Or, better yet, use a free online room planner (I like the one from Jordan's Furniture in Boston) to draw the space and test various furniture configurations. It's less work and a lot more fun.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

Homebuyers Took 'Road Less Traveled' to Affordability

2014-07-22 12:12:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Economy, Financing ShutterstockDenise and Jim Carbone were offered a half-a-million dollar loan to buy a house in Chicago, where they were renting. America: What's your money story? contributor Bob Sullivan is hitting the road to ask the people he meets across the U.S. that very question. Whether it's your struggle with student loans, what you did when you lost your job, how you dealt with a house that was underwater or the ingenious way you paid off a major debt -- we want to know about it. Everyone's story is unique, but the concept of money -- and the challenges and triumphs that come with it -- is universal. Bob's travels are taking him through Chicago, Iowa City, Omaha, Denver and then Seattle. If you're along that route and want to share your money story, you can reach out to him on social media, using the hashtag #AmericanMoneyStories. Here's one of the dispatches from Bob's time on the road. Courtesy of Bob SullivanDenise and Jim Carbone at home in Munster, Indiana. By Bob Sullivan MUNSTER, Ind. -- Denise and Jim Carbone walked into a bank several years ago and walked out with an offer to borrow $500,000 to buy a home. They were renting in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood at the time, home to their beloved Cubs. That might have been enough to buy a place not far away -- but the young couple knew that was way beyond their means. "A half-million dollars? That was crazy," Denise, 42, said. With other friends choosing to extend themselves to stay in Chicago, the Carbones took the road less traveled to Indiana. They bought a lovely $297,000 home with a huge backyard for their golden retriever, Beaker, in Munster, Indiana, the first exit over the state line. The commute is long -- they both work close to downtown -- but the peace of mind that a reasonable mortgage gave them is priceless. The Carbones bought the home in 2006, probably the single worst time to buy a home in modern times. They shudder to think what might have happened if they'd listened to the bank. Instead, they are on such solid financial footing that they were able to refinance into a 15-year mortgage last year, which will get them out of debt even faster. And they make the best of distance. Jim and Denise commute together, which gives them two hours of "quality" time every day ("Well, not always," joked Jim, 38.) Meanwhile, as long as there's not a traffic surprise, the drive into downtown from Indiana isn't really any longer than their train or car commute was from Wrigleyville. Sure, they go to a few less Cubs games, but because they work downtown, they use happy hours to stay connected to friends in the city. And many of those friends enjoy coming out to the suburbs for fresh air and space once in a while. "On New Year's Eve, everybody came to our house," Denise said. "It was great." Want to read more of Bob's #AmericanMoneyStories? You can follow his road trip on Permalink | Email this | Comments

Existing Home Sales Rise to 8-Month High

2014-07-22 10:21:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Economy, Selling Michael Dwyer/AP By Jason Lange WASHINGTON -- U.S. home resales rose in June to their fastest pace in eight months, a signal that the housing market was pulling out of a slump. The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday existing home sales increased 2.6 percent to an annual rate of 5.04 million units. That was above analyst expectations and marked the third straight month the pace of home resales accelerated. The housing recovery stalled in the second half of 2013 as interest rates increased and a dwindling supply of properties available for sale pushed prices sharply higher. But mortgage rates have eased a bit in recent months and the nation's job market has improved, helping the market for homes. May's rate of sales was revised upward to a 4.91 million unit pace from the previously reported 4.89 million unit rate. Also supporting home sales, more homes are being put on the market, keeping prices from rising as quickly. The number of homes on the market for resale rose to 2.3 million in June, the highest level since August 2012 and 6.5 percent more than in June of last year.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

13 Thrifty Ways to Update Your Bathroom

2014-07-22 07:45:00

Filed under: Design, News, How To ShutterstockThe easiest way to cut costs on a bathroom renovation is to keep the old bathroom footprint. By Teresa Mears Nobody likes a house with an outdated bathroom. Of course, you can use a blue toilet and bathe in a pink tub, illuminated by eight naked light bulbs shining on a stained 1970s laminate countertop. But do you really want to? Building the spa bathroom of your dreams may cost more than you want to spend. But you don't have to empty your wallet to improve your bathroom. A little bling and a few luxurious touches can give you a big impact for a small amount of money, and that's a good place to start. "One little thing creates that luxury instead of worrying about everything else," says Laura Redd, an interior designer in Greensboro, North Carolina. "I think sparkle is a big thing." The easiest way to cut costs on a bathroom renovation is to keep the old bathroom footprint. Keep the toilet, sink and tub or shower in the same locations, just replacing the old with the new. That saves the thousands it costs to add to the footprint of the house or relocate plumbing and electrical wiring. You should also avoid adding a $100,000 bathroom to a $200,000 house, Redd notes, because you'll never recoup your investment. [See: 8 Home Remodeling Projects That Are Worth the Money.] But there are other ways to save, too. "Paint is always, on a budget, your best quick option on a makeover," says Justin DiPego, senior editor of And you can do that yourself. But with a bathroom renovation, you want to be careful about getting in over your head, especially if your home has only one bathroom. "Know your limits," DiPego says. If you've never laid tile before, a bathroom is probably not a good place to start. Sometimes, it's cheaper to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of the job. "You'll end up saving money in the long run because you won't screw it up." Hiring a contractor is usually smart for plumbing and electrical work, as well as for complicated tile jobs or ones that require tearing out walls. But, Redd says, don't let the contractor choose the materials. Shop for them yourself instead. You'll be sure to get what you want, and you won't have to pay for the contractor's shopping time. Here are 13 ways to save money while improving your bathroom: Bring in some posh accessories. Search for items that can change the look of your bathroom dramatically without anyone picking up a wrench. Those could include a new shower curtain, plush bath sheets, a new rug, a magnifying makeup mirror or perhaps a flower in a vase. "Don't cheap out on your towels," Redd says. "Bamboo towels are phenomenal. They last forever." Paint the walls. Avocado fixtures against white may look extremely dated. But change the walls to a complementary color, and "suddenly the avocado green is a player," says Mary Anne Brugnoni, a designer with Renovations by the Morton Group in Fairport, New York. "Paint is your best friend." [Read: How to Remodel Your Kitchen for Thousands Less.] Change the showerhead. You can buy a rain showerhead, massage showerhead and other models that will give your bathroom a spa look and feel as well as improve your shower experience. Most of the time, you can make the change in five minutes with a wrench. Shop around for vanities and fixtures. Compare prices online, in big-box stores, in specialty stores and even on Craigslist. Watch for sales and clearance items, too. You can find deals online on everything from faucets to vanities, and the online selection is much larger than what you'll find at any store. Use granite remnants for counters. Granite shops often have small bits of granite left over from bigger jobs and will sell you enough for a bathroom vanity counter at a discount. To find out what's available, call your local shops first then drop by to see the granite and negotiate the price. Shop around for tile. You can find nice floor and wall tile for $1 to $2 per square foot. Use that less expensive tile for most of the work, and then incorporate luxury tile as accents. Tile a smaller area. Instead of tiling all the bathroom walls, tile only around the tub and shower, and use drywall for the rest of the area. Create a vanity from a piece of old furniture. "If you want to get creative, and you have that creative gene ... you can create something unique," Redd says. If your vanity is wood, refinish or paint it rather than buying a new one. She bought a used piece of furniture for $45, a cultured marble top for $150 and two sinks on closeout for $50 each, creating a unique double vanity for just $245. Renovate just part of your bathroom. If you can't afford to tear the entire bathroom down to the studs and rebuild it, consider renovating just the tub and shower area. "It's going to give them the impact of a new bathroom," Brugnoni says. [Read: Which Home Remodeling Projects Are Worth Your Money?] Use a shower curtain instead of a glass shower enclosure. "A curved rod with a really cool shower curtain is going to save you a lot of money," Brugnoni says. Plus, a shower curtain adds color and can be changed out easily. Choose chrome rather than brushed nickel fixtures. It's cheaper, and there are more choices. And chrome is even making a comeback, Brugnoni notes. Buy a framed mirror or frame your existing mirror. That small change can quickly give your bathroom a more glamorous look. If your mirror is small, you may be able to buy a frame at a yard sale or thrift store. For a large mirror, use molding to build a frame. Have everything planned and materials in hand before you start. Changing course in midstream always costs time and money. You should know what you're doing and when you expect to finish before launching into any grand bathroom renovation. Permalink | Email this | Comments

Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel Will 'Let It Go' for $2.995 Million

2014-07-21 15:57:00

Filed under: News, Celebrity Homes, Selling ZillowTaye Diggs and Idina Menzel's house has large living areas in an open floor plan spanning nearly 5,000 square feet. Getty ImagesIdina Menzel and Taye Diggs By Emily Heffter Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel, who in December announced plans to divorce after 10 years of marriage, are letting go of their home in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles. Menzel has had a huge year as the voice inspired little girls sing with while listening to the "Frozen" soundtrack. She voiced Elsa in animated film, and its signature song, "Let It Go," was nominated for an Oscar. Diggs is a stage, movie and TV actor best known for his roles in films such as "Rent" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" and the TV series "Private Practice." He and Menzel met while filming "Rent" in 2003. The home at 3121 Oakdell Lane in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley is listed for $2.995 million. They bought the six-bedroom, five-bathroom house in 2010 for $2.09 million. The sleek traditional has a two-story foyer, vaulted ceilings and large living areas in an open floor plan spanning nearly 5,000 square feet.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

Evicted Undertakers Reportedly Left Bodies at Funeral Home

2014-07-21 13:32:00

Filed under: News, Foreclosures, Renting AOL OnA screen grab of the Johnson Family Mortuary building in Fort Worth, Texas, where eight bodies were reported found. By Christine DiGangi At the start of the foreclosure crisis, struggling consumers got into the trend of trashing their houses. People poured paint on the carpet, let their animals defecate indoors and punched holes in the walls as a sort of retaliation for the banks taking their homes away. In Fort Worth, Texas, a recently evicted business reportedly left behind a different kind of mess: Dead bodies. The owner of a building that used to house a funeral home went to the building and found eight bodies, including that of a baby. The Fort Worth Police Department called in its homicide unit to investigate, CBS Dallas-Forth Worth reports. Two weeks prior to the discovery, the tenant, Johnson Family Mortuary, received an eviction notice, though it is unclear why the building owner ousted the business in the first place. The report didn't specify the condition in which the bodies were found, merely that there were "multiple unattended deceased persons in the building." When asked about it, one of the owners Dondre' Johnson said no bodies were purposely left behind and the ones recovered by the police "were already in a casket; already had a funeral." Details of the business' eviction were not explained in the news coverage (see video below), but landlords can boot a tenant if the tenant violates the lease. Failure to pay rent is a common cause of eviction. Trashing a foreclosure is illegal, and you'll likely get charged for damaging a rental home, too. The landlord may bill you for the costs of clean up and repairs (or, in this case, body removal), and if you fail to pay, that bill will likely be sent to a debt collector. Both the eviction and the collection account may make it difficult for you to rent another property. Credit standing is also crucial to finding a place to live (collections hurt your credit), so if you're looking to rent a home or workspace, make sure your credit is in good shape when you submit an application. #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-28421{display:none;} .cke_show_borders #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-28421, #postcontentcontainer #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-28421{width:570px;height:411px;display:block;} try{document.getElementById("fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-28421").style.display="none";}catch(e){} Permalink | Email this | Comments

Kate Bosworth Sells Her Airy-but-Private LA House

2014-07-21 12:31:00

Filed under: Design, News, Buying, Celebrity Homes Courtesy of Sally Forster Jones of Coldwell BankerAt Kate Bosworth's just-sold house, French doors lead to multiple outdoor areas, including a lap pool. APKate Bosworth After just a few month on the market, Kate Bosworth has just sold her airy and Bohemian-esque Los Angeles home for $2,375,000. It's a little less than what she was hoping to get for it (original asking price was $2,499,000), but the blonde beauty has by no means sold at a loss. The 'Blue Crush' actress paid $2,100,000 when she purchased the three-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom place in 2005. This private pad is set behind a discreet gate that leads you down a long drive to this contemporary home on over half an acre. Inside and out, the home has incredible space for entertaining and casual living -- and it's decorated just as you'd expect from the fashionista actress, who has perfected the "minimalist chic" look. The floor plan is open and flowing, with the dining and living areas seamlessly connected. In the heart of the home, a chef's kitchen features professional appliances and huge windows that overlook the patio and views beyond. The home's three bedrooms and 2.5 baths include the upstairs master retreat with sitting area, two walk-in closets, spa-like bath with double Carrara marble vanity and a jetted tub. French doors lead to multiple outdoor areas, including a lap pool and an outdoor living room with incredible light and canyon views. See more photos and details on the Trulia listing.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

9 Creative Ways to Open a House to the Outdoors

2014-07-21 11:47:00

Filed under: Design, News, How ToBy Eric Reinholdt Spaces that are neither indoors nor completely outdoors are often among the most trafficked spaces in a home. And they make for good design: We use them to negotiate changes in elevation between inside and outside, for entertaining, to reduce the apparent scale of our structures, to temper weather extremes and for visual screening. By using the most basic architectural devices -- columns, rafters, walls and floor planes -- these indoor-outdoor buffer zones can be designed to feel every bit a part of the architecture. The examples here range from the tightly enclosed and controlled to the minimal. Let's take a look at a few approaches to designing transition spaces that successfully unite inside and out. Contemporary Patio by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Malcolm Davis Architecture Outdoor Rooms This home overlooks a bluff but sits on a very narrow lot that's constrained by neighboring homes on either side. This led to the incorporation of a protected outdoor room that acts as a buffer, preserving privacy for both properties while still permitting an outdoor-focused space for the residents. To mitigate the proximity issues, the architect simply continued the exterior wall of the house to create a cloistered terrace space. The pivoting shutters open toward the view but act as blinders, screening any sense that the neighboring house is only a few feet away. The bedroom space at the top of the image shares a connection to the room as well, and the pivoting-shutter idea was borrowed for its outside window. In this transition space, thrifty use has been made of simple architectural elements, walls, pivoting doors and an understated ground plane to create a gathering space where one might not have otherwise been possible. Contemporary Living Room by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Malcolm Davis Architecture In this view from the living room of the same home, one can appreciate that the interior space benefits equally from the exterior connection, borrowing light and a view to the sky without peering into the neighboring residence. The kitchen connects directly to the outdoor room (behind the fireplace) allowing for outdoor cooking and eating, and the outdoor room mediates the vertical transition to the rooftop deck. The simple addition of one changeable wall lends great architectural diversity to the plan. Modern Patio by Burlington Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Wagner Hodgson This outdoor room is another example of how a simple transition space can support multiple functions. The linear structure serves as a guesthouse, an outdoor dining area and a screen between the driveway and pool. The solidity of the copper-clad enclosed space dissolves into its component architectural parts -- columns, walls and rafters -- to define the poolside outdoor dining area. The large opening in the screening-wall element visually connects the approach to the property via the driveway to the view while maintaining privacy for the dining and pool space. The trellis overhead defines a place for gathering without the correlating weight of a solid roof. Modern Patio by Los Angeles Architects & Building Designers NEW THEME Inc. Courtyards A version of outdoor rooms, courtyards generally feel more inwardly focused and enclosed, bound by the walls of the surrounding architecture. They're an especially popular strategy in warm climates where the interior courtyard mediates temperature changes, providing shade and acting as a natural ventilation chimney of sorts for the spaces opening onto it. Of course it shares features with the other examples here too: walls, floor plates and even porches, combining them into one large permeable buffer zone. With its glazed walls that slide open, it's difficult to tell where the interior of this house ends and the exterior begins. Courtyards are excellent devices to use when privacy is hard to come by, and they're a great way of introducing natural light into tight sites. Industrial Kitchen by Chicago Architects & Building Designers Vinci | Hamp Architects It's apparent just how strong an organizing device the courtyard can be when viewed from inside this home. In urban areas where typical views are to other structures, a courtyard can provide a vegetated counterpoint. I also like how the architect here has used a brick wall to capture and reflect sunlight back into the interior spaces. Modern Deck Courtyards bound by neighboring architecture, which we can't control, can benefit from the introduction of plantings to provide some level of privacy and soften hard edges. Porches Another common architectural device used to mediate transitions is the porch. Porches can be fully or partially enclosed or much more porous and open, as in this example. They offer shelter from the sun and elements while framing views to the site beyond and a way of navigating the grade difference between the terrace and the house proper. Modern Pool by Los Angeles Architects & Building Designers Marmol Radziner Modern Pool by Los Angeles Architects & Building Designers Marmol Radziner The gauze-like scrim above abstracts the tree canopy here, while the thin columns appears as tree trunks. Note that although the architect used simple rectangular elements, the look doesn't suffer. These simple shapes are overlapped -- the pool edge, the overhead scrim and the terrace seating -- to make the design visually complex and dynamic. Even the transition zones overlap from the covered porch to the shaded seating area. Transitional Exterior by Edina Photographers Sethbennphoto Pergolas Lighter, more permeable and less protective than typical porches, pergolas make excellent transition elements between interior and exterior. Here one reduces the perceived scale of the two-story home while filtering the sunlight entering the large glazed openings. A solid roofed porch would've blocked the light and felt much heavier, but the pergola marks an appropriately sized single-story gathering spot next to an otherwise tall wall. The overhead plane is an important scale element that establishes how comfortable we feel in an indoor-outdoor space. Here's it's aligned naturally with the top of the door, an element whose size we're familiar and inherently at ease with. Modern Exterior by Oakland Architects & Building Designers Lorin Hill, Architect This pergola serves a host of functions. It's equal parts sunshade, wall screen and scale device. Breaking up the tall wall, it offers a nicely proportioned place to sit on the deck and modulates the sunlight striking the facade. Paired with the deck below, the two elements thoughtfully span the grade difference between inside and out. Modern Exterior by Oakland Architects & Building Designers Lorin Hill, Architect The versatility of it doesn't end there; the architect has also created a vertical rhythm of support columns in discreet places. Here the wall screening provides privacy for an outdoor shower; a lack of slats in the overhead plane permits light into the shower area. The simple modular system used for this pergola transition zone is infinitely adaptable based on the requirements of the nearby spaces. Modern Landscape by London Interior Designers & Decorators Luxe Interior International Walls As seen here, walls don't need to be full height to make great transition spaces. These low walls hold back the grade on the site and provide ample seating for gathering. There's a reason for them being sized and shaped the way they are, and their terraced design makes for a diverse experience in this outdoor transition space. Site walls such as this can help us to utilize the full vertical space on a lot and markedly enhance privacy. The bridge above adds interest, definition and sense of enclosure as well. Below-Grade Transitions (Light Wells) Taking the previous idea one step further, this project proves that even the most private of spaces can benefit from the blurring of interior and exterior space and vertical site development. Here we see an outdoor shower area adjacent to the bathroom. The architect has cleverly used etched glass to handle the privacy concerns while maximizing the vertical space on the site as well as the amount of natural light available to the bathing space. Modern Bathroom by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Levy Art & Architecture Viewed from the nearby bedroom, the outdoor space is bound by a variety of simple elements; the walls are by far the strongest elements defining the space. The stairs appear carved from the earth at the lowest level and become lighter (and wider) as one moves upward. The layering of these simple elements makes this transition zone so successful. Note that the scale of the space at the lowest and most private zone is appropriately small and intimate. Modern Patio by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Levy Art & Architecture Here's another light well and outdoor room used on a steeply sloping site to permit daylight in the lower-level bedroom and create a private outdoor sitting space. Transition zones that admit daylight can make small quarters feel much larger. Modern Bedroom by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers yamamar design Contemporary Deck by Seattle Architects & Building Designers chadbourne + doss architects Ceilings Another means of marking a sheltered transition zone is seen here; it uses a large cantilevered roof plane. It provides protection from the sun or rain when necessary and a frame of reference for the building scale, but also appears weightless and simple, like the brim of a hat. The guardrail wall helps to subtly suggest enclosure and protection too. Contemporary Landscape by San Francisco Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Arterra LLP Landscape Architects Here the overhead plane doubles as a deck area above to offer varying levels of privacy on a tight lot. Much like the earlier wall example, level changes were manipulated here to enhance privacy and visual separation by changing the horizon line and field of view. Contemporary Exterior by Alexandria Architects & Building Designers Moore Architects, PC This project has an overhead ceiling plane that transitions the arrival area as well as relaxation areas of the site. It's echoed in the hovering floor plane and the minimal column supports, achieving a weightlessness and simplicity of form fitting of the architecture. Farmhouse Pool by Chicago Architects & Building Designers Northworks Architects and Planners Decks Perhaps the simplest of all transition gestures is manipulating the ground plane. The decking here marks the change from lawn to pool seating. It's every bit as architecturally crisp as the dry-laid stacked stone retaining wall and the sharp lines of the pool. Simple deck transitions alone work best when the building isn't too big or tall. Here the orthogonal geometry of the wood deck plays off the organic site, which brushes up against it. The deck carefully delineates an intimate place for sitting in the forested site and offers a simple means of entering the master bedroom cottage. Transitional Exterior by Mount Desert Architects & Building Designers Eric Reinholdt Contemporary Exterior by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Zack|de Vito Architecture + Construction Pavilions The theme of simple architectural elements continues in this image. Straddling the line between enclosed and open, the pavilion can be deployed almost anywhere in the landscape. This image reminds us that transitions happen in all aspects of our living environments, not only those used for repose. Carports and porte cocheres are good examples of pavilion transition elements that often act as gateways to arrival. Using them as screens against less desirable views or noisy areas of the site is particularly useful and appropriate. More: Design Workshop: The 'Disappearing' Guardrail  Permalink | Email this | Comments

Where Does the Housing Recovery Stand Now?

2014-07-21 11:14:00

Filed under: News, Advice ShutterstockNational home values are forecast to return to their prior peaks in first quarter of 2017, at the earliest. By Cory Hopkins Roughly three years after the housing recovery began, how far do we still have to go until homes in the majority of local markets have regained all the value lost during the recession? In many areas, the answer is years and years, at least. The housing recovery is still very much in its middle stages. Nationally, home values remain 11.3 percent below their 2007 peak. Looking ahead, U.S. home values are expected to rise another 4.2 percent through the second quarter of 2015, according to the Zillow Home Value Forecast. It will take "In dozens of markets, homeowners who bought at the peak of the market in 2006 or 2007 will have to wait until 2017 or later to get back to the breakeven point on their homes, a lost decade in which they will have built up no home equity." 2.7 years for national home values to re-achieve their pre-recession levels, assuming a steady rate of appreciation at the forecasted level. In other words, national home values won't get back to their prior peaks until at least the first quarter of 2017, almost a decade after the beginning of the housing recession. And full recovery could take even longer, as the pace of home value appreciation is expected to slow in coming months and years. Locally, in 50 of the nation's 100 largest metro markets, it will take three years or more for home values to reach prior peaks. Notable large metros where full recovery in home values will take longer than a decade include Minneapolis (14.5 years), Kansas City (12.5 years) and Chicago (11.7 years). "In dozens of markets, homeowners who bought at the peak of the market in 2006 or 2007 will have to wait until 2017 or later to get back to the breakeven point on their homes, a lost decade in which they will have built up no home equity. This is reflected in stubbornly high negative equity and effective negative equity rates, with more than a third of Americans with a mortgage lacking enough equity to realistically list their home for sale and buy another," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "But there is a silver lining as we navigate these tricky middle innings of the recovery. Because home values remain so far below their peak levels in so many areas, it is still possible for buyers to find bargains. This will be critical to maintaining home affordability over the coming years, especially as mortgage interest rates rise." U.S. home values climbed 6.3 percent year-over-year in the second quarter to a Zillow Home Value Index of $174,200, the slowest annual pace of appreciation recorded so far this year and a sign that the market is returning to more normal levels. In a more normal market, home values appreciate at roughly 3 percent per year. Home values nationwide were up 1 percent compared with the first quarter and 0.5 percent from May. Nationally, rents rose 2.5 percent year-over-year in the second quarter, to a Zillow Rent Index of $1,310 but fell 0.3 percent compared with the first quarter. The quarterly decline was the largest recorded since Zillow first began publishing the Zillow Rent Index in late 2010. U.S. rents were flat month-over-month. For a deeper analysis and to see what home values and rents are doing in your area, visit Zillow Research. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Last updated on Jul 22, 2014.