Archives for the month of: December, 2012

Home Values in The Black For First Time Since 2006

Home values increase more than $1.3 trillion

After five straight years of dropping home values, Zillow is reporting that by the end of 2012, overall home values should increase by more than $1.3 trillion. The last time home values went up instead of down was in 2006, when total home values rose $438 billion from 2005.

Considering home values dropped nearly $800 billion last year, this year’s gain is particularly noteworthy.

Home values up in 29 out of 30 major metro areas

The report covers 177 metro areas — of the 30 largest metro areas, there was only one, Philadelphia, that did not show an annual increase in average home values. The five markets showing the biggest gains were Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose (all in California), Phoenix, AZ and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In fact, of the 177 metropolitan areas surveyed, more than 75% showed an increase in average home values over last year.

Median home price rises more than 10%

The median home price rose to just over $180,000 in November, reflecting a 10.1 percent annual increase in the median price.

Housing market recovery steady

With improved employment numbers and better consumer confidence, experts seem to agree that the housing market is trending strongly towards continued recovery. Existing home sales rose nearly 6 percent, to the highest rate in nearly three years — while the number of owned homes on the market is at its lowest since 2001.

Via Zillow, Bloomberg and  Businessweek.

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From Dorothy to Mr. Blandings to E.T. — They All Have One Thing In Common

  • “There’s no place like home.” ~Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
  • “It may only be four walls and a couple of nail kegs, but it will always be home to me.” ~Bill Cole in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
  • “Tara! Home. I’ll go home.” Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind
  • “Phone home.” E.T. in E.T.
  • “I never realize how much I like being home unless I’ve been somewhere really different for a while.” ~Juno MacGuff in Juno

How Your Lights Can Be Safe, Stunning and Saved for Posterity

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Image from Landscape Illuminations on Houzz

Holiday lights in and outside your home can be a lovely way to celebrate the season — not to mention light up the nights that come earlier and earlier as the year draws to a close. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your lights are hazard-free, pretty and commemorated.

1. Safety

  • Be sure to check that the lights you use outside are labeled “for outside use”
  • Don’t string together more lights than the manufacturer warrants is safe
  • Make sure all the lights inside and out are off (or on a timer) when you leave the house
  • Fasten lights securely against wind and weather
  • Use insulated or plastic hooks or nails to attach lights where you want them
  • For more, check out these Safety Tips from PG&E

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Image from Lowes Home Improvement on Houzz

2. Beauty

  • Plan your lighting and make sure you have enough lighting to bring your vision to life
  • Come up with a theme or idea — take advantage of features of your home: outline all your windows and roofline, scatter lights throughout the shrubbery fronting your home, wrap all the tree trunks
  • Create the simply and stunning luminaries pictured above with some vinyl flashing and a drill (and a few candles) — for details on this DIY project, go to Lowes Home Improvement Idea Library

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Image from Ebirge9’s Holiday Cheer Board on Pinterest

3. Photography

  • Remember the “magic hour” — that time of evening when the sky is lit by a magical, mystical blue and the sun has dipped below the horizon but hasn’t actually set
  • For shooting outdoor lights, try turning the flash off
  • Remember that the higher your ISO setting, the better you can shoot in the dark (higher ISO also means more “noise” — so you may want to experiment to find your personal compromise between lighting and noise)
  • If your camera has an “Auto” setting, look for a night or night scene mode
  • Indoors, try shooting both with and without your flash, for completely different results — you may be surprised which you like more
  • If you’re using your smartphone, check out apps like Snapseed (iOS, Android and desktop), Camera+ (iOS) and After Focus (iOS and Android)— for shots like the one of the lights behind the bench above — to help you take or make better pictures

From Safety to Décor, These Visual Statistics Cover It All

From Brightnest comes a handy list of safety tips to see you through the season.

MetLife Insurance wants to make sure your entertaining goes off without a hitch with these tips and facts about preparing “for your seasonal shindig.”

Overstock offers inspiration for crafty decorations you can do yourself or with your family.

Bonus Infographic (not actually for your home, but seasonally interesting).

The tree in Rockefeller Center (New York, NY) may be one of the most famous erected each year, but it’s not the tallest. That honor actually goes to the tree installed in… Phoenix, AZ — at least according to this Christmas Tree Smackdown of 2010.

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