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25 February 2011

Week in Review: What We Liked From the Week That Was

As Mercedes Benz Fashion Week recently wrapped up in New York, conversation has swirled around the latest style trends. So what are the housing market’s fringes and feathers?  With consumers nationwide downsizing their digs, craving more amenities and aiming to be closer to cities, townhouses are now the new black, while McMansions are “so last season.”

In numbers news, a decline in 30-year mortgage rates to 4.750{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} last week sent applications up 13.2{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c}.  A “bright spot” indeed, but borrowing rates are expected to reach 6{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} in the near future.

One of the scariest outcomes of the foreclosure crisis is its effect on those homeowners who are on top of their mortgages.  Being surrounded by foreclosed homes in their neighborhoods dramatically reduces  the value of their own homes, creating a vicious cycle.  With the average period of default for a homeowner facing foreclosure at 17 months, the lag continues to create near-vacant neighborhoods despite the fact that The Great Recession has ended.

Speaking of foreclosures, the sales of distressed properties resulted in a 2.7{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} increase in used home sales last month.  In January, 32{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} of sales were all-cash transactions, nearly double that of a year ago.

Do you have some wood that you don’t know what to do with?  Put it to good use!  Get inspired by these homebuilt sheds, which homeowners nationwide have handmade into woodshops, gardening sheds and even steamy saunas.

Vancouver

In lifestyle news, Vancouver took the top spot in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of the world’s most livable cities. The firm takes “stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure” into account when ranking the list.  Pittsburgh was the highest-ranked U.S. city on the list.

As you begin to offer advice on staging a home to sell in the wake of spring buying season, The Wall Street Journal has provided a list of things that should be considered mandatory to create an appealing, luscious, luxurious bath escape (think bottles and bowls, oils and soaps, chairs and brushes).  From one room to another, creating the right atmosphere in the kitchen is just as essential.  Bestselling author Nigella Lawson considers this room the “heart of the home” which should be comfortable and conjure up “warmth and welcome, safety and security.” What advice do you give to your staging homesellers or nesting new homebuyers?

And finally, are you watching the 83rd Academy Awards this week?  As someone who is very fond of social media, I found The Social Network a riveting story.  Speaking of which, be sure to check in with the Oscar Website during the show.  The site promises this year will be the “most interactive awards show ever.”

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