Election Year’s Impact On Housing Uncertain

THE CONFIDENCE GAME
Metrostudy, September 12, 2016

Expect a roller-coaster ride for consumer sentiment as election-year trends weigh on housing’s still-fragile recovery trajectory.

By John McManus

Elections do a number on consumer sentiment and confidence. Especially the every-four-year kind that result in a chief executive for our country’s government, and hold out the potential, at least, for re-tipped balances among Congressional representatives and partisan power.

Probably the most significant force or factor sitting in the soup of uncertainty ahead that could impact abundantly-evident strong demand for homeownership’s spectrum of new and used house and community options is a blow to consumer confidence.

National Association of Home Builders senior economist Jung Fu watches the most widely accepted measures of consumer confidence, from The Conference Board and the University of Michigan. She’s tracked us to the present, noting that The Conference Board’s latest readings–for August–blipped up for the total Index as well as for component measures for the “present” and “expectations.”

Read more at Metrostudy →

2016 Tour of Remodeled Homes On CultureMap

Check out this article at CultureMap: Inside 4 stunning abodes on Austin’s Tour of Remodeled Homes

The Austin NARI Tour of Remodeled Homes is back for its 14th year, featuring renovations by seven of Austin’s top builders. The self-guided tour takes place Saturday, September 24, and Sunday, September 25, from 10 am to 6 pm. Nine beautiful homes are featured on the tour, but first, we take you inside four of the stunning remodels.

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Read and see more online →

In The News: Zilker-area home on remodeling tour now a place where kids can hang

The Austin American-Statesman recently ran a nice article about one of the homes on the 2016 Tour of Remodeled Homes:

Susan Terrell and Don Brode moved into their Zilker neighborhood house in 2003 with just a dog. Their family grew to two dogs and two kids, George, 9, and Lily, 11. Ten years after moving in, Terrell and Brode realized they needed more space than the 1,750-square-foot house.

They went on a search but realized how much they loved their neighborhood. Instead, they decided to remodel and build an expansion that would satisfy their criteria: to create a house that was true to the 1956 era in which the house was built and create a space for their children’s friends to congregate. “We decided to have the house where people would come to our house instead of the kids always wanting to go to Joey’s house,” Terrell says. She says she wanted her kids to grow up with her and her husband instead of growing apart.

And unlike many home remodeling projects where walls are torn down to open space, Terrell and Brode decided to define the space, much like the original 1956 home, but with a better flow. They worked with CG&S Design-Build and architects Stewart Davis and Gregory Thomas and project manager Jay Schaefer and interior designer Mark Evans.

Read more here and be sure to visit this house and all the rest on the 2016 Tour of Remodeled Homes!

Five Mistakes To Avoid When Cleaning Your Deck

by TimberTown Austin

Spring is here! The grass is green, flowers are blooming, and it’s the perfect time to enjoy your outdoor space before the heat of summer. For deck owners, all you have to do is just step outside onto your porch or back deck and soak up the sun, right? Not so fast.

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If you own a deck or porch, you know there’s work to be done! After fall and winter, there’s bound to be stains, dirt, and grime that has been left to sit and settle into the boards and between the gaps. Before you bring the lounge chairs back out, there are a few ways you can actually ruin the look of your deck if you’re not careful.

by TimberTown Austin

Here are the top mistakes to avoid when cleaning or refinishing your deck:

Mistake #1: Letting Nature Do The Work

If you think the wind and rain that come during the spring will clean your deck or porch for you, think again. All the elements can do is move around dirt and grime, not remove it.

Mistake #2: Not Clearing The Gaps

Allowing any part of your deck to accumulate dirt, leaves, and anything else in between the gaps of your deck boards can lead to serious issues. Any organic matter that’s left to rot can cause discoloration and premature rotting of wood (especially softer woods like pine and cedar). Also, because water tends to accumulate in any area where it cannot run off, it will pool and potentially cause your decking to warp and twist. Do your boards a favor, mind the gap and clear them out thoroughly.

Mistake #3: Excessive Powerwashing

Decking materials, whether they be as strong as Ipe or made of composite materials, are not steel or glass. They can be damaged by prolonged power washing, using the wrong tip, or too high of a PSI. If you have never pressure washed a deck before, you need to do the following:

  • Use a fan tip
  • Wash along the grain and the length of the board
  • Never aim too close to the deck surface

Mistake #4: Not Cleaning Your Deck Prior To Refinishing

So, let’s say you have a new deck made of Ipe and it’s due for its very first annual refinishing. Instead of reading the directions, you simply sweep off some leaves and dirt and apply the oil. Everything looks fine the first day, but after a while you notice strange markings on your deck. Surely, it must be the oil! Nope. The oil did its job. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to sweep off your deck prior to oiling it. It has to be thoroughly cleaned so the finishing solution of your choice can adhere to the grain and protect the wood. If there’s dirt still left in the wood, the oil cannot properly soak into the surface. Use a wood deck cleaner and brightener to prevent giving yourself more work and an ugly deck to look at.

Mistake #5: Not Checking The Weather Prior To Refinishing

It’s Saturday morning and you are going to oil your hardwood deck first thing in the morning. You oil your deck in no time flat. Sunday morning, everything still looks good. Then it rains. You don’t notice it at first, but after a few days you notice the finish is uneven and it looks like the wood has spots all over it. What happened? Because the oil had not yet fully dried and settled
into the wood, the finish became uneven. To prevent this from happening, make sure your deck is completely dry 24 hours prior to and after applying any finish or sealer.

The Exception To The Rule

The best way to ensure you never make these mistakes is by building a deck out of composite decking. Popular brands like Trex, TimberTech and Fiberon are wrapped in a protective plastic shell which won’t rot and come with 25-year stain and fade warranties. You can also use a 100% PVC product like Azek or Zuri which don’t use any organic materials and have longer warranties. Composites are the best low-maintenance option since all it takes is a little soap and water to keep it looking brand new.

Conclusion

Avoid these mistakes and you can give yourself the best chance of not spending a lot of time and money on future deck maintenance and repairs. Instead, you can clean your deck, apply a finish, and enjoy it for the remainder of the year. Or, you can build a composite deck and save yourself a little time and elbow grease.

Top Reasons Why A Home Remodel Is Just What You Need In Your Life

by Stephanie Sylvester

Remodeling your home can be an overwhelming endeavor, but it may be exactly what you need in your life right now. You can turn your house into your dream home where the rest of your dreams can manifest. Remodeling a room will spark inspiration, creativity, and perpetuate new goals. At Modernize, we love to see homeowners find new life in their homes through simple DIY projects or major renovations. Need a little push out of your remodeling comfort zone? Here are the top reasons why a home remodel is just what you need in your life.

A Happy Home

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Don’t waste another year with items that you don’t love or that don’t serve you well. The very trendy and popular book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo addresses the need to get rid of anything that does not “spark joy.” Many of my friends have been using this book to clean out their closets and junk drawers, but I believe this is a useful exercise when it comes to home fixtures as well. I am vertically challenged and find it a nuisance to drag my step stool around the kitchen for items that I use every day. My small DIY project for spring is to place a shelf that runs the length of all of my wall cabinets, so I can have easy access to items that I need every day. If you have a leaky faucet that multiple repairs have failed to fix, it’s time to upgrade once and for all. Invest in something beautiful and functional so that you are not annoyed every time you take a shower and have to jangle the fixture to turn it off. Simple fixes will improve your quality of life. There will be less time to grumble about inconveniences and more time to love the room that you are in.

You Need Space For Your Passion

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If you have the means to make big changes this year, consider creating your dream space for your passions. If you love to cook, create the kitchen of your dreams. Are you a writer or an artist? Imagine an addition that is dedicated to your craft. Surround yourself with the tools and space that you need and watch your talent blossom in the most ideal environment. If you are not worried about distractions or inconveniences, you can focus on your hobby or your work. Sure, you can make do with what you have, but if it’s possible to truly love the space where you are performing your passions, your creations will benefit from your bliss. Put some work into your home now so you can pour your heart into your art, cooking, or other hobby later.

You Need To Sell

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Maybe you can imagine your dream home, but it’s located somewhere else. If you know that you need to sell in the future, making renovations will help increase your home’s resale value, and also make it more enjoyable to live in until it’s time to go. My husband and I intend to do just that with our 1980s bathroom. I know that we eventually want to move into a new home in a different neighborhood. But this move is at least a few years away, and I don’t want to live with my outdated bathroom for that long. While my husband and I will not be spending money as if this is our dream master bath, we will be happy to retreat to a sparkling clean bathroom with modern cabinets and updated lighting fixtures. We are staying neutral and bright to appeal to potential buyers in a few years.

Remodeling takes a lot of planning, patience, and money, but you will realize that those minutes, deep breaths, and dollars were well-spent when you love walking through the door of your home.

National NARI Meeting In Austin A Success

The National NARI 2016 Spring Business Meeting was held in Austin from April 6th through April 9th and a grand time was had by all.

James M Spink, the owner of NARI member Bin There Dump That – Indianapolis has written up a great recap of the conference, which you can read here. One of our favorite parts is excerpted below:

One can’t visit Austin and not enjoy the night life and live music! A special thanks to the NARI Austin chapter for hosting a first class networking reception on Thursday night in historic downtown Austin. In addition to a wonderful spread of food and drinks all attendees were mesmerized by the entertaining and comical Spazmatics band. This networking event was another excellent opportunity to speak and mingle with other chapter executives and their wonderful members!

Austin NARI was honored to host this event and we greatly appreciate everyone who attended!

5 Home Improvement Projects to Consider in 2016

by Kaitlin Krull

There are so many benefits to owning your own home, the least of which being the freedom to complete home improvement projects however you like, whenever you like. Of course, with such freedom comes great responsibility, and even greater choices. If you’re struggling to choose from your list of remodeling projects, let us help you decide. Here are five of the top home improvement projects that will help you and your home stay up to date (and on trend) in 2016.

Open Up Your Home

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If you’re itching for a significant remodeling project, consider opening up your living space. Channel Chip and Joanna and give your home a Fixer Upper style remodel by breaking down non load bearing walls and creating a large, open plan area in your home. We particularly love the idea of an open plan kitchen and dining room area that will bring the heart of the home, not to mention your family, together.

Remodel The Kitchen

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For tired, outdated kitchens, choose an on-trend remodel like one of Forbes’ list of 9 Kitchen Trends to Watch Out For in 2016. From muted tones to high-tech kitchens (think hidden charging stations in your work surfaces, integrated lighting systems, and smart appliances), this list has it all. At Modernize, we love clean, traditional kitchens with perfectly placed details (think stylish Scandinavian simplicity). If you want to kill two home improvement birds with one stone, bring your kitchen and living areas together by knocking down adjoining walls and updating your kitchen with a large, functional island with seating.

Restore Fireplaces

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While it might seem like the wrong time of year for a fireplace project, it’s actually perfect if you want to do a large scale remodel or installation of a new fireplace, which will substantially increase the value of your home and offer a sustainable heating source for living spaces. For a less costly but equally fun DIY project, upgrade and restyle your mantel area with reclaimed wooden beams or stone, adding a bold modern art print or a few heirloom home decor pieces to complete your look.

Make Your Home Smarter

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Bring your home fully into the 21st century by installing smart thermostats and/or other home automation products such as integrated HVAC, lighting, and security systems throughout the home that allow you to access and change preferences even when you are away from home via smartphone and tablet applications. These kinds of high tech products may cost you initially, but are more than worth it in the long run in terms of energy savings, decreasing bills, and convenience with regards to home connectivity. The best part about these kinds of systems is that they are usually very straightforward to install and are fully functional within minutes.

Repaint A Room (Or Two)

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Never underestimate the power of a coat of paint. If you want to change the look and style of your home without knocking down walls and completely renovating rooms, a simple paint job with quality materials will instantly do the trick. Stay up to date with the latest color trends, which include jewel tones, neutrals (make sure to offset the lack of color with bold, bright home decor accents), black, and even white (Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year for 2016 is Simply White). For something completely different, consider the Pantone Colors of the Year for 2016, which are an intriguing and subtle combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity, or pink and blue to the less artistic homeowners among us.

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