4 Things You Should Know About Easements, Right Of Ways

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 21st, 2018

4 Things You Should Know About Easements, Right Of WaysRobert Frost once wrote that “Good fences make good neighbors.” The poet was not referring to people bonding over the task of mending fences. Rather, defined boundaries are an important facet of neighborly relationships.

Without clearly defined property lines and rights, otherwise good people too often become embroiled in land disputes. That’s why a basic knowledge about easements and right of ways can help property owners maintain a working friendship with people whose land abuts yours.

These are four of the important elements about easements and right of ways you should know.

1: Types of Easements

An easement allows another person the right to access a property for a specific purpose. There are two basic types. Negative easements prevent an owner from using their property in a certain fashion. This might preclude building another floor on a home that would block a water view. A positive easement might allow someone access to land for the purpose of clearing timber or driving over it. The right to passage over a property remains the most common.

2: How Right Of Ways Differ

A right of way is, in fact, a type of easement. The general difference is that it is often accompanied by a defined road or pathway that one party uses to cross over. Hunters often establish right of ways with property owners and landlocked homes generally have driveways running over another person’s land.

3: How Easements Are Created

There are several ways an easement may be legally created. The first is generally called a “permissive easement.” This basically means you give permission to another party to use your land in a specific fashion. Again, driving over it to reach their property is the most common.

A key element of a permissive easement is that, in most states, it cannot become permanent without the property owner’s express authorization. In other words, allowing someone to drive over your land does not give them the right to continue forever. You can decide at any time to revoke permission.

Another way that easements are formed is by adverse possession. This tends to lead to hostilities between neighbors because one party asks the courts for a legal right to use your land based on prior usage. The lawsuit generally offers little or no compensation. It’s basically a land grab.

The more amicable way to create an easement is by granting an abutter the right to use your land. This generally entails creating a land-use agreement in which the property owner receives reasonable compensation.

4: Easements May Have Time Limits

An easement does not necessarily last forever. Some are granted with a defined expiration date. Others are recorded with the deed and are passed on from owner to owner. When buying a home, a title search should be performed that provides detail about existing easements and right of ways. This is an important part of purchasing a property because land disputes can be financially and emotionally taxing.

If you have concerns about any type of easement on a potential property, be sure to discuss it with your trusted real estate professional.

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NAHB Housing Market Index Unchanged in September

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 20th, 2018

NAHB Housing Market Index Unchanged in SeptemberHome builder confidence in housing market conditions stayed flat in September. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index reported an index reading of 67, which matched expectations and NAHB’s housing market reading for August. Analysts cited recent tariffs on building materials as a significant cause of easing builder confidence.

While NAHB called September’s reading “solid” at 67, the reading was one full point lower than the average reading for 2017 and equaled the lowest builder confidence reading in 2018 to date. Readings over 50 in the Housing Market Index indicate that more builders than fewer are confident in housing market conditions.  

Components of the Housing Market Index were mixed as builder confidence in current market conditions rose one point to 74. Builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months rose two points to a reading of 74. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments was unchanged with a reading of 49.

Buyer traffic readings frequently fall below the benchmark reading of 50, so a reading of 49 indicates builders aren’t concerned about buyer interest in new homes.

Home Building Viewed As Cure For Housing Shortages, But Buyers Face Challenges

Housing industry leaders, real estate pros and mortgage lenders continued to look to builders for a solution to severe housing shortages in some areas. Rapidly rising home prices driven by high demand, few choices for buyers and aren’t likely to ease until inventories of available homes increase. Recently rising mortgage rates added to pressures on first-time and moderate-income home buyers.

NAHB Chief Economist Rob Dietz said that trade skirmishes and “burdensome regulations” also contributed to rising home prices. Real estate pros said that local market conditions affected market areas affected by natural disasters including severe red tide algae blooms in Florida and wildfires in Oregon and California. Home sales typically slow in August, but the combination of low inventories of homes coupled with rising prices and natural disasters resulted in lower than expected home sales in August.

Buyer fatigue was cited as a driving factor in slowing home sales as rapidly rising prices and few available homes took a toll on buyer interest. As the school year approached buyers were backing off instead of continuing to compete with cash buyers and bidding wars.

It is commonplace for markets to shift and for trends to change. Your best bet for success in buying a new home or selling your current home to rely on your trusted real estate professional.

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3 Things to Know About Winterizing Your Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 19th, 2018

3 Things to Know About Winterizing Your HomeTemperate fall weather means it’s time to put summer vacations behind you and start planning for winter weather.

Switching coveted leisure time to home chores can be a difficult challenge. More than a few homeowners want to keep kicking back on weekends. But autumn winds mean all hands on deck. Homeowners who procrastinate could find their properties vulnerable to seasonal changes. These are some things to keep in mind about winterizing your home.

Fill The Cost Gaps

Arguably the single biggest waste of money is allowing heating and cooling loss. The small gaps where doors, windows and other material meet can be a conduit for migrating air. Drafts cause utility bills to increase with homeowners reaping zero benefit. Consider addressing these areas.

  • Windows: It’s important to remember that window caulking has a limited life span. As it cracks, shrinks and expands, its efficiency diminishes. Check it annually and don’t hesitate to replace it.
  • Weather Stripping: If you live in a frigid region, weather stripping can save a boatload of cash. Most home stores carry products that act like tape and fill the seams around doors. It’s an easy DIY project that can more than pay for itself.
  • Door Guards: Similar to weather stripping, door guards are designed to eliminate drafts under the doors. There are permanent and temporary products that can address this issue.
  • Flues Need Support: Many chimneys allow mass amounts of air to flow freely into homes. You don’t need to call a mason and rework the hardware to fix this draft. Try inflating a balloon inside it to cut off air circulation. Just remember to remove it before lighting a fire.

Gutter Avoid Disaster

A common problem homeowners overlook is the gutters. When these become clogged with leaves, twigs and other material, water can back up and impact the outer walls of a home.

Water penetrations remain the single greatest danger to homes and homeowners. Moisture behind walls and under floor boards can spur dangerous mold growths. Certain molds can cause critical health conditions, particularly among our valued elders and young children.

If you live in an area that frequently suffers freezing temperatures, gutters can fill, freeze and break. Better to clean them out now than buy new ones in the spring.

Insulation Matters

When people think about insulation, the pink stuff in the attic usually comes to mind. While that remains an excellent product to mitigate energy loss, let’s talk about another type.

Water lines can be negatively impacted by cold weather. Frozen pipes can crack, burst and cause a flood. Check for areas that are exposed. It only takes one sharp cold snap to damage water lines and a home’s interior. The time and cost of wrapping exposed pipes could prove far less expensive than hiring a plumber and remediation contractor.

When preparing a home for winter, think in terms of air and water. Those are the culprits that will cost you money and jeopardize your family. 

Maintanence is a wise way to protect one of your largest investments. If you are looking to add to your portfolio or put your current home on the market, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

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It’s Pumpkin Spice Season: Plan A Neighborhood Potluck

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 18th, 2018

It's Pumpkin Spice Season Plan A Neighborhood PotluckFall is the time to get back into a comfortable routine, but it’s also a great time to incorporate social events into weekend work parties, and gather friends to offer neighbors a helping hand — or just moral support — to spruce up their property.

While building a new sense of community may be a side effect, it can’t be denied that giving homes in need of minor repairs a little TLC is good for the dollar value of the neighborhood as well as for the soul. REALTORS agree that the overall appeal of a neighborhood adds value to individual homes.

Police departments and security companies also note that cohesive communities are less prone to crime than neighborhoods where residents don’t really know one another.

A Community Work Day

While it’s not uncommon for some subdivisions to sponsor periodic get-togethers, or hold multi-family garage sales and social events, the idea of a day to share work and expertise to tidy up individual homes is less common. But it represents an ideal solution for residents who could use a helping hand to accomplish minor upkeep and repair projects.

Especially if you live in a neighborhood with some older residents, planning a coordinated “home improvement day” can be a unique and wonderful way to bring different generations together. Community work days are a great way to complete seasonal maintenance projects before the weather turns bad. It’s also a way to make light work out of required tasks and to have some fun as well.

Here are some ideas on how to do it right — the results can be greater than expected.

  • Talk the idea up with your neighbors: Set a tentative date and divide up the planning tasks.
  • Start a checklist of neighborhood skills. Chances are you’ll find engineers, carpenters, painters, and neighbors with plumbing and electrical skills among the residents. And there are also apt to be artists and craftspeople, master gardeners and children who love to rake leaves or pull weeds!
  • Plan block party, potluck dinner or homemade ice cream social for the culmination of the workday or weekend, and get as many people as possible involved.

A weekend work project is reminiscent of old-fashioned barn raisings. It’s also a way to build a new sense of community, as well as to add neighborhood appeal and value. The food and the fellowship are bonuses!

There are, however, some cautions: Help should be freely offered, and readily accepted. But leave costly or complicated repairs to professionals. This kind of event should be strictly for easy DIY labor needs.

Done right, this kind of ongoing community effort can become a lasting and honored tradition. It’s worth a try, right? In the end, the entire neighborhood wins.

If a sense of neighborhood community is a priority to you when looking for a new home, be sure to tell your trusted real estate professional.

 

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 17th, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 17th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 17th, 2018 Last week’s economic news included readings on consumer credit, inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Fed Reports Consumer Credit Jumps in July

The Federal Reserve reported that consumer credit rose from $9 billion in June to $17 billion in July. Analysts said a majority of consumer credit was issued for education loans and auto loans. June’s reading was revised downward to $8.50 billion from the original reading of $10.2 billion.

Credit card debt increased by 1.50 percent in July after declining by – 1.40 percent in June. Non-revolving consumer debt rose by 6.40 percent in July after growing 4.0 percent in June. July’s reading was the largest increase in eight months. The Fed’s Consumer Credit report does not include mortgage loans.

Inflation increased by 0.20 percent in August, which fell short of analyst expectations of 0.30 percent growth. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by -0.10 percent and was lower than the expected reading of 0.20 percent growth. July readings for inflation and core inflation were 0.20 percent.

Mortgage Rates and Consumer Sentiment Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates for the third consecutive week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to an average of 4.60 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged seven basis points higher at 4.06 percent and mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.93 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Discount rates were reported at 0.50 percent for fixed-rate loans and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell last week to 204,000 claims filed against expectations of 210,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 205,000 first-time jobless claims filed.

Consumer sentiment rose in September. The University of Michigan reported an index reading of 100.8, which surpassed the expected index reading of 97.0 and the August reading of 96.2.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled releases include readings from the National Association of Home Builders, The National Association of Realtors® on sales of pre-owned homes and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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What Are The Housing Market Projections For 3rd Qtr 2018 — And Beyond?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 12th, 2018

What Are The Housing Market Projections For 3rd Qtr 2018 -- And BeyondThe National Association of Realtors (NAR), in its ongoing analysis of home sales statistics, believes that prices will continue to rise during the third quarter, but that uncertainty over elections could be a factor during the second half of the year.

However, NAR’s report noted that in July, a typically lackluster month, home prices rose by about nine percent, and days on market decreased significantly, perhaps signaling a strong start for the third quarter.

National statistics don’t necessarily tell the whole story, however. In addition, what will happen in the fourth quarter is, at this point, a bit more difficult to predict. Assessments about how home prices and real estate will end the year differ from one part of the country to another.

Looking Ahead

In 381 of 500 markets that were tracked, homes stayed on the market for fewer days in July 2018 than the median time on market the previous year, even in the highest price markets, typically a sign that demand is still outpacing supply.

Dallas-Fort Worth area mortgage lenders report a noticeable slowdown over the past several months, and the inventory of homes on the market has grown. But another Texas town, Midland, ranked as the nation’s hottest market for the second month in a row in July, based on continued high demand and the speed at which homes have been selling.

The list of fast-moving markets, compiled by by Realtor.com, also places Columbus, Ohio, Boston and Fort Wayne, Ind., at the top; Dallas-Fort Worth, interestingly, ranked 17th of 20 hot markets in the Realtor.com survey.

Potential Benefits

Some housing analysts note that even slight slowdowns in select markets, coupled with rising mortgage rates, may signal a wider downturn in sales nationally, adding that it is not entirely unexpected. Many real estate and mortgage professionals, however, view any potential “adjustment” as a good thing, with the explanation that the double-digit appreciation is unsustainable over the long term.

Prevailing wisdom is to take a wait and see approach leading up to midterm elections. Pollsters and pundits have widely variant opinions and, to date, trends are not sufficiently clear. In addition, the housing industry is seemingly healthy at this point and, barring unexpected major interest rate increases, demand for housing is likely to remain strong.

As one researcher at Texas A&M University explains, even a modest slowdown will likely only bring the real estate market down to 2016 levels and, in retrospect, that was a very good year! Other analysts are more positive, saying that an expected slowdown is positive and will prevent “a new bubble.”

As always, contact your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals to discuss the current situation in your local market.

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4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage Rates

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 11th, 2018

4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage RatesSecuring the best conventional mortgage rate possible can pose a challenge for even veteran property buyers.

Your mortgage rate will be determined by a variety of factors that pertain to your unique financial portfolio as well as economic forces. While no one has full control over all of the things that influence the process, understanding the manageable aspects can improve your negotiation position when securing a conventional mortgage.

Consider these four things that impact how conventional mortgage rates are determined.

1: Credit Is King

A borrower’s credit score has a tremendous impact on the final mortgage rate. The general rule is that the higher the score, the lower the rate. The opposite generally holds true as well.

Lenders usually require a minimum credit score of at least 620. Some will dip as low as 580. If yours falls lower, qualifying for a conventional loan may not be an option. But the good news about credit scores is that this is an element you have control over.

A credit report details your repayment history, previous loans, credit card and financial bandwidth, so to speak. Before mortgage shopping, get a copy of your credit report, clean up any blemishes and amp it up as high as possible.

2: Economic Growth Matters

The average home buyer has zero control over the economic forces that impact mortgage rates. But you do have choice about when to buy.

It’s no secret that the country is in the midst of tremendous GDP growth, historically low unemployment, improved consumer confidence and rising wages. This may seem like a good time to buy. Not necessarily when it comes to conventional mortgage rates.

Prosperity tends to create an uptick in consumers vying for home loans. That demand seems like a good thing. But the Fed often responds to high levels of consumer confidence by raising rates across the board. The theory behind this unfortunate environment stems from the idea lenders have limited resources.

It may seem counterintuitive, but weak economies often enjoy lower rates. For practical buying purposes, the U.S. economy looks like a juggernaut right now. You may want to buy sooner rather than later. Rates could go up again.

3: Price And Down Payment

Another set of facts that you have control over are the down payment amount and price of the home.

Conventional mortgages require a minimum down payment of 20 percent or higher. Like credit scores, the higher the down payment to better positioned you will be to secure the lowest possible rate. The basic concept trails back to the level of risk the lender takes by writing the loan.

For example, borrower defaults often force banks to take losses upwards of 30-60 percent of the loan. That 20 percent shows that you have real skin in the game and are less likely to stop paying the monthly premiums. Big down payments often correlate to lower mortgage rates.

Although 20 percent remains the industry standard, borrowers can secure a loan with less down. If you qualify for a conventional loan with less than 20 percent down, expect a less than desirable rate and the additional cost of private mortgage insurance. It’s kind of a double whammy.

4: Loan Types Differ

There are several variables in the loan-writing process that directly impact rates.

Most loans have terms of 15-30 years and lenders are more apt to offer lower rates on shorter term mortgages. Fixed- or adjustable-rate types are also profoundly different. Adjustable mortgages tend to enjoy lower rates in weak economies. But when the country ramps up, so does your interest rate and monthly premium.

Fixed-rate conventional mortgages are static throughout the life of the loan. The rate may be slightly higher at the closing. However, you won’t be betting against the economy.

Lastly, borrowers have the ability to buy points. This practice allows borrowers to pay more upfront costs and enjoy lower mortgage rates for the life of the loan. It’s one method some people use to overcome less-than-perfect credit scores.

Contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss the best plan for finding and securing the home of your dreams.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 10th, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 10th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 10th, 2018Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending, along with public and private-sector jobs growth. The national unemployment rate, weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Rises in July

July construction spending ticked up to 0.10 percent from June’s negative reading of -0.80 percent. Year-over-year, construction spending was 5.80 percent higher than for July 2017.Public-sector construction accounted for most of the growth and increased by 0.70 percent as private-sector construction projects decreased by -0.10 percent.

Month-to-month spending readings can be volatile, but analysts said that construction spending for the first seven months of 2018 were up 5.20 percent from the same period in 2017. July’s slower spending rate suggested that construction projects are slowing.

Given ongoing shortages of available homes, this is not good news for housing markets. High demand has driven home prices up, but affordability has become an issue in areas where home prices outpace inflation and wage growth.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 4.54 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.99 percent and were two basis points higher.

Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged eight basis points higher at 3.93 percent. Analysts said that home prices continued to rise as demand for homes softened Higher home prices and mortgage rates sidelined first-time and moderate-income home buyers as slim inventories of homes for sale sidelined buyers who could not find homes they wanted to buy.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 213,000 claims filed. Analysts expected 212,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 213,000 first-time filings. The national unemployment rate held steady at 3.90 percent.

ADP payrolls dropped to 163,000 private-sector jobs in August as compared to 217,000 private-sector jobs added in July. The Commerce Department’s Non-Farm Payrolls reported 201,000 public and private-sector jobs added in August, which fell short of the expected reading of 212,000 jobs added and the prior month’s reading of 213,000 jobs added.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic readings include reports on inflation, retail sales and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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Want To Buy A Home? Here’s How You Can Save Your Own Down Payment

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 7th, 2018

Want To Buy A Home? Here's How You Can Save Your Own Down PaymentBurdensome student loan debt and a penchant for purchasing new electronics by 20- and 30-somethings can make saving up for a down payment on a home seem impossible. But Millennials and other potential home buyers may be surprised to discover that previous generations had money-saving challenges of their own.

Consider for a moment that many of our valued elders did not have the level of opportunity to attend college and earn a high-paying job. Look further back and you may realize that the Greatest Generation suffered through the Great Depression only to fight World War II.

Somehow, these outstanding Americans found a way to save money and become homeowners. So can you. By employing these money management techniques, you can cull together a down payment and still enjoy the latest gizmo.

Do The Math On Savings

It doesn’t make a great deal of sense to mindlessly squirrel money away without a comprehensive savings plan.

First steps should include discussing your pre-approval limit with a mortgage professional. By knowing your mortgage threshold, you will be able to work backwards and calculate a down payment amount.

One tried-and-true savings approach remains the 20-30-50 financial disbursement method. Structure your spending so that 20 percent of your earnings are going directly into debt reduction or savings. Approximately 30 percent should cover rent and the other 50 percent can be allotted for incidentals.

Make certain the 20 percent consistently finds its mark each month. Once you have cleared out the debt and are going full-bore on saving for a down payment, it can be motivating to watch your goal become a reality.

Eliminate High-Interest Debt

According to reports, the average American carried upwards of $6,375 in credit card debt during 2017. Folks, that is simply too much to effectively save money for a home down payment.

The high interest rates everyday people incur from credit card debt remains a significant impediment to saving money. If you have several cards with high balances, there is no quick fix to this problem. It will fall on you to be disciplined and methodical about paying them off.

Start with the card that charges the highest interest rate and work diligently to eliminate its balance entirely. Once you clear out the worst interest-rate offender, move on to the second worst. As these debts fall, you will have an opening to shuffle funds into your down payment savings account. We call that winning.

Pick Up Part-Time Gigs

The down payment effort can be accelerated by creating an additional revenue stream.

A few years back, the idea of the “gig economy” was trending. Stringing together a series of short-term and part-time jobs was considered cool. Although the so-called gig economy may have been the byproduct of a business sluggishness, such is no longer the case.

These days, unemployment is at record lows and employers are chomping at the bit to hire people. Consider picking up a few hours each week doing something you enjoy. It could entail anything from bartending to working as a coffee house barista. Make it fun and make certain the money goes only toward your home down payment. Talk about a win-win.

With strategic financial planning, people of all walks of life can earn the American homeownership dream. It’s time to stop thinking about the generational obstacles. Adapt, overcome and make it happen.

Your trusted real estate agent is skilled at finding great real estate investments. Be sure to use this valuable resource when you are ready to find the home of your dreams.

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Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 6th, 2018

Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your HomeDownsizing at any stage of life can offer multiple benefits. Less square footage may come with a smaller price tag and usually means less space to clean. However, when downsizing a home, there’s usually the question of what to do with everything. That’s when creative storage ideas become essential. 

Before Downsizing, Take Stock

Before selecting the best storage options, it’s important to first take stock of all personal items, from furniture to clothing, kitchen gadgets, and keepsakes. Sort into items to keep, donate, discard, and place in long-term storage. Long-term storage may mean investing in a self-storage unit to hold things like seasonal decor. Less stuff can mean less storage space needed in a smaller home.

Maximize Closet Space

It doesn’t need to be a walk-in closet to have the capacity to store an array of personal items. Maximize any closet’s storage space with a few tricks. Install a second tier hanging rod and rely on an expandable shoe rack to keep the floor clutter-free. Reduce the number of hangers used by layering outfits on a single hanger — blouse, sweater, and necklace or dress shirt, tie, and jacket. Store seasonal clothing, linens, and pillows in space-saver bags that remove bulk.

Rely On Under-the-Bed Storage

Even in homes with expansive square footage, under the bed often is an under-utilized space. Shoes, books, and other items are shoved out-of-sight, collecting dust and remaining unorganized. When downsizing, every space should have a purpose. Depending on the bed height, consider flat storage boxes ideal for clothing, blankets, and other items. Storage boxes with rollers can make it easy to access and act like an additional set of drawers.

Choose Space-Saving Furniture

The popularity of tiny houses and the number of people downsizing has created a boom of innovative space-saving furniture options. For the living room there are ottomans that open to reveal storage space for pillows, blankets, or video cases. Consider a couch with built-in drawers that slide out. In the bedroom, there are multiple bed choices that have built-in drawers and storage, perfect if the room doesn’t have dresser space. 

Open Shelves Provide Functionality Plus Style

Whether in the kitchen, bedroom, or main living area, open shelves offer great functionality in a smaller space while providing style to the home’s decor. Use them as storage for books, collections, and artwork. They’re ideal when there isn’t space for large bookcases or a coffee table. In the kitchen, open shelves can hold everything from dishes to glassware and potted herbs.

When downsizing a home, trust a local real estate professional to find the right space to fit lifestyle and budget needs.

 

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