How highways will affect your home…

How Future Commuting Patterns Affect Architecture


The world we live in is a busy place, and all signs point to it just getting busier. These days, it seems that everybody is on the run and on the list of priorities; careers seem to take a top position. As superior technology leads us into a revolution of seamless communication worldwide, human beings have never been more connected. Everything has become instantaneous and people expect their commute to run as seamless and expedient as the rest of their technology-driven lives.

For architects, this poses a number of big questions. How does one go about designing well for a mass of people always on the move? Architects inherently look towards structures that are built to last, but these days, people function in a world that moves and changes quickly. While these paradox situations can be tricky, they are far from impossible to combine—it just takes a little soul-searching and a lot of patience.

One of the biggest questions that has come up for architects in the modern world is how the question of commuting affects their work and designs. Movement changes everything, including the basic layout of cities and countries. As commuting continues to become a more common situation for the average household, it’s important that architects look at how this affects what they set out to do within their designs.

train station

Ready to be the king of your closet?

5 Closet Upgrades That Make You Feel Like Royalty

LA Closet DesignA spacious and well-organized closet can make getting dressed a luxurious experience and help you look your best.

You may not have Kate Middleton’s wardrobe, but with these five closet upgrades you can create a luxury closet fit for royalty:

1. Cozy seating
A fur chair offers a gentle landing spot where you can slip on your heels. Jonathan Adler’s chic Maxime Fur Chair suits a variety of décor.

LA Closet Design

2. Deluxe drawer inserts
Felt-lined, specialized drawer inserts protect and display your jewelry, ties, glasses or lingerie. Rev-a-Shelf’s velvet-lined drawers put the perfect accessory for your outfit at your fingertips.

3. A 3-Way Mirror
Before she walked down the aisle at her sister’s wedding, Pippa Middleton probably checked in a three-way mirror to see how she looked to those sitting in the back of the church. You can check the rear-view, too, by installing a three-way mirror in your closet. If space and budget are issues, Bed Bath & Beyond sells a $129 over-the-door, three-way mirror in black or white.

4. Crystal Chandelier
The glittering light of a chandelier or crystal wall sconce will warm your closet and prevent you from putting on one black sock and one navy blue sock. Pescaso’s mini-chandeliers, available through Costco, lend a romantic elegance to your closet.

Gas prices & housing – what’s the connection?

Here’s how oil’s drop could impact housing construction

Moody’s: Moderate benefits for builders, homebuyers

house construction

Industries for which fuel is a direct and significant cost will see a positive effect from lower oil prices, as will consumer-dependent businesses more generally, since lower gasoline prices mean consumers will have more cash to spend on other items, a client note from Moody’s says. But oil and gas exploration and production companies, and the companies that supply them, will be hurt by lower crude prices.

“U.S. building materials companies that produce aggregates, ready-mixed concrete and cement will benefit moderately from lower oil prices in 2015.” Moody’s analysts write. “Costs associated with transporting materials will decline with diesel costs, but these companies will also benefit from broader economic gains from higher consumer consumption and healthier state and national budgets.”

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Grab those low rates while you can!

Is This the Right Time to Refi? 8 Tips to Smooth the Way

Successful Refinance Refi tips

Ready to consider refinancing your mortgage? It can seem like an overwhelming prospect. So we broke it down into the key tasks you’ll need to take care of. Here are eight checkpoints that can help make sure you’re on track, each step of the way. But it’s important to remember that every situation is unique: Consider consulting a real estate or financial professional to evaluate your specific scenario.

1. Identify Your objectives.

Are you trying to save money by reducing monthly payments, or do you want to take out equity from your home? Interested in switching from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage? (Or vice versa?) When you shop around with lenders, they’re going to want you to be able to answer these questions. Make sure you can clearly articulate why you’re looking to refinance.

2. Refresh old paperwork.

Remember all that paperwork you needed to obtain your first mortgage? Yep, you’ll need to dig it up and update each piece. (Remember, it’s important to be truthful.) Get a copy of your most recent credit report and make sure that you understand your score and take steps to correct any errors. (And remember, now is not the time to apply for a new card. Every time you open a new account, your credit score is affected — and lenders can (and will) check your credit again, sometimes days before closing on the refi.

3. Crunch the numbers.

Not a math genius? No problem. You can use online tools such as Trulia’s refinancing calculator to figure out what makes sense for you. Don’t forget to consider closing costs when you evaluate totals: Even “no-cost” refinancing options can have associated fees.

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Staging on a shoe string…

Staging a home for sale is simply preparing a house to be sold. There are many different aspects to staging, but there is a simple foundation to all of it.

Hiring a professional stager is worth the investment because they address all aspects of staging. But what if you have no staging budget?

There are several steps you can take to stage your home for sale — and many of them don’t cost a dime. Here are five free things you can do to prepare your home to sell.

Clean, clean, clean

Sparkling counters and appliances go a long way in home for sale.

The number one thing people think about while in a home is whether or not they believe it is clean. A home that is absolutely pristine presents as well cared for.

Clean all windows inside and out. Dust all door frames, light fixtures, ceiling fans and blinds. Don’t leave a single spot in your home untouched. Potential buyers look everywhere, so make sure the entire home is clean.

Depersonalize the house

Just furnish the room with the absolute minimum items. Source: Zillow Digs.

Do you know your mortgage docs?

It’s no secret that there’s a lot of paperwork involved in buying a home. After you select a mortgage lender to pre-approve you, you’ll be asked to provide all your most private financial documents, detail your income and residence history, and sign a stack of disclosures to get your loan approved. Then you’ll sign yet another stack of documents at closing.

The process can be confusing, but it helps if you go into it with a full understanding of the three most important closing documents you’ll be signing.

The settlement statement (aka “the HUD”)

Your settlement statement shows you the final versions of all line items you’re paying on your financed home purchase.

This document goes by many names, including estimated settlement statement, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development settlement statement, the “HUD,” or “HUD-1.”

Early in the loan process, you’ll see fees in disclosures lenders are required by law to give you, such as the Good Faith Estimate (GFE). However, the GFE doesn’t provide line-item detail.

Conversely, the HUD shows each individual fee clearly, starting with your total transaction summary on the left side of page one, then line-item fees on page two. These fees are broken down into the following categories:

  • Real estate agent fees, which are commissions you might pay to the real estate agent as the buyer.
  • Lender fees, including origination fees or “points;” any fees or credits for the rate you chose; and appraisal, credit report and other loan processing fees.
  • Prorated items like loan interest from the loan funding day to the end of that funding month, prepaying one year of homeowners insurance (which is required by lenders), and any required prepaid mortgage insurance.
  • Reserves deposited with the lender, which are only required if you’re setting up an “escrow” or “impound” account from which your lender will pay your insurance and property taxes. This is optional, and if you decline it, you won’t have to prepay these reserves at closing.
  • Title fees, which are assessed by the title/escrow company serving as settlement agent for your transaction. This section also includes the title insurance you’re required to purchase to protect yourself and your lender from any unwarranted third-party claims on your property.
  • Additional fees like contractors or pest inspections, or homeowners association move-in/move-out fees.

Critically, page three of your HUD shows how close or far your initial Good Faith Estimate was from your HUD, so you know if your closing terms match what your lender originally quoted to you.

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