A farmhouse feel in this open floor plan home with a nice custom wood beam and fresh hardwood floors.

When it comes to the air in your home, it has become more important now than ever in this day in age. The COVID-19 pandemic kept the country indoors and in their homes a lot within the past couple of years. In the past, air pollution has been focused on the outdoor air quality but with the past stay-in-door orders, this has also brought our home’s air quality into the equation.

Our indoor air quality can affect our health and our well-being. Bad indoor air quality leads to colds, the flu, asthma allergies, impaired sleep and concentration, sluggish productivity, mood disorders and health problems.

Professionals in the industry report that more than half of the homes in the country do not have correct ventilation which leads to poor indoor quality. Surprisingly, indoor air pollutants can be found in your home’s paint, furniture, carpets and cleaning products.

“Understanding the sources and, more importantly, controlling the causes behind common indoor pollutants can help to protect the health of your family, and one of your most important investments — your home,” says Scott Rasmussen, president of Quality Edge.

Below are some tips on how you can improve your indoor environment at home to help with indoor air quality.

Proper Ventilation Is Crucial for Clean Air

While your home does need to be weatherproofed, it still needs to be able to breathe. Proper ventilation is imperative for this and helps alleviate those indoor pollutants.

“Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources, and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out,” Rasmussen says. He adds that proper ventilation is crucial for clean air.

Your attic is one of the first places you should start. A home’s attic needs continuous ventilation. An attic with no airflow causes mold, growth, mildew and rot. Make sure the ventilation at the eave edge can bring fresh air in through the roof exhaust vents.

If this is a concern for you and your home, you might want to consider investing in a high-performance roof ventilation system. This kind of system will do its job well but is architectural pleasing to the eye and will not stand out and ruin your home’s curb appeal.

Extend the Life of Your Home

A new roof with an adequate roof ventilation system will help do this. As a homeowner, you will be able to avoid costly repairs due to mold, rotten wood or odor buildup with this system.

Another way to extend the life of your home is to add vented soffit products that will not only help with the health of your home but will add to your home’s curb appeal. These products do this by elevating the look of your house’s exterior.

“Replacing your soffit also presents a great opportunity to update your home’s trim colors,” Rasmussen says.

Prevent Leaks

A home’s exterior siding can prevent water leaks. These leaks will seep into your home’s interior causing moisture damage and mold. Professionals suggest a moisture-wicking siding should be used on a new home or added to a remodel.

If you cannot afford to replace your current siding, then a regular maintenance check-up is suggested. Look for cracks that can be scaled up to help prevent any water leaks.

Other Steps to Take

There are many simple things you can do to your existing home that will help with air quality. Make sure to clean and dust regularly which will minimize indoor air pollutants. Also regularly check your HVAC system and replace their filters several times a year.

Remember the quality of the air in your home does not only affect those that live in the house but extends the health and life of the home itself. “High temperature and humidity levels in your attic spaces due to inadequate ventilation can increase your energy costs, reduce the effectiveness of your home’s insulation, cause premature aging of your home’s building materials and void your home’s roof warranty,” Rasmussen says.

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Simple modern design in this master bathroom. Featuring a huge walk in shower.

Covered front porch with real wood rustic columns welcomes you into this home.Home appreciation has been busy this year. According to many leaders in the industry, home prices have been skyrocketing all year and are still on the rise. Data shows all over the market that the percentages are still rising year-over-year.

The latest percentages of the year-over-year increase in home price appreciation are all-around 18%. The House Price Index (HPI) that is part of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported 18.8%, the S. National Home Price Index from S&P Case-Shiller 18.6% and the Home Price Insights Report from CoreLogic is 18%.

The increases are found across the board at every price point. CoreLogic’s HPI sees almost a 19% increase year-over-year in all price points. The low price point saw a 22.1% increase, the low-to-middle saw a 20% increase, the middle-to-moderate saw a 19.9% increase and the high price point saw a 19.1% increase.

The FHFA reported an increase across the country. The highest increase year-over-year in the second quarter in 2021 was in the mountain region is 22.9% and the lowest was seen in West North Central with a 14.9% increase. The remainder includes New England at 20.4%, Pacific at 20.1%, South Atlantic at 17.3%, Middle Atlantic at 17.1%, East South Central at 16.4%, East North Central at 15.7%, West South Central at 15% and West North Central at 14.9%. Overall the United States saw an average of a 17.4% increase.

Prices in 2022 should also increase. The future still sees a low housing inventory with high demands. Home appreciation will still be going on in 2022 but more moderate.

“Given the widespread demand and considering the number of standalone homes built during the past decade, the single-family market is estimated to be undersupplied by 4.35 million units by 2022,” reported CoreLogic.

If you are in the market for a home, contact your local Realtor who can help you along the way. The next year 2022 will hopefully see a great boost in the housing market.

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A nice foyer with double entry doors.Ninety-five percent of new single-family homes built in 2020 were built with central air conditioning (AC) systems according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC). Homes with central AC have been increasing since 2000 when there were only 85.5%.

The percentage of new single-family starts with central AC is different in the nine Census divisions. In West South Central, South Atlantic and West North Central divisions 100% had central AC installed, in East South Central 99%, and in East North Central 96%, in New England 83% and the lowest in the Pacific with 80%.

Ninety-nine percent of new single-family homes were built with an air or ground source heat pump or a forced-air system for the primary heating source of the home. As for each division, in the East South Central 77%  air or ground heat pumps were used, in the South Atlantic 75% and in the West South Central 20%. Air or ground heat pumps are primarily used in warmer climates because they are less efficient in colder regions. As for fuel, 50% of new homes built in 2019 used natural gas while only 45 used electricity.

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The wood trim above the garage is a custom feature.

With a strong housing market and shortage of inventory, many buildersA rocking chair front porch that welcomes you to this home. have gone from building custom homes to speculative homes only. Builders do have to still target buyers. Smart homes and healthy homes are a way to do this.

The industry leaders report that buyers will pay a premium for energy efficiency, smart home tech and healthy homes. Once the pandemic began, health and energy savings have become even more of an important factor. In fact, former National Association of Home Builders Chairman Randy Noel has turned to building spec only.

Noel, from Reve, Inc., spent 30 years building custom homes only. He is now currently building a spec home for the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans’ Parade of Homes. The home features products and materials that are efficient, resilient, healthy and smart home tech.

“You can, with a great deal of confidence, build a healthier home for your customers going forward,” Noel stated following the (WWYW) certification process.

Healthy homes are recognized under the pilot the Wellness Within Your Walls (WWYW). There is a list of Healthy Home Features which include:

  • Maximizing natural light,
  • Detaching the garage from the home and connecting it via a breezeway,
  • Installing locking cabinets for pharmaceuticals and garden chemicals,
  • Controlling humidity for the outside fresh air being brought into the home and reducing stress on the heat pump,
  • Removing contaminants from the incoming utility water through reverse osmosis water filters,
  • Installing automatic faucets to reduce touch points,
  • Incorporating an electromagnetic field (EMF) control cabinet — the interior of which is painted with a special electromagnetic wave-blocking paint — for electronics charging,
  • Integrating automatic vents in the bathroom to exhaust damp air from the home,
  • Installing a non-combustible, electric fireplace and induction cooktop,
  • Incorporating a kitchen herb wall.

If you are interested in seeing a healthy home, the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans’ Parade of Home is located in Ashton Plantation in Luling, LA. The home has been given the 2020 Best in American Living Gold Award for Healthy Home and was a finalist for the 2020 NAHB Global Innovation Award International Home the Year.

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Nice new custom built home close to the city of New Orleans.

June 2020 saw a small decline in single-family new home sales to around 6.6% according to the National Association of Home Builders Eye on the Economy. The annualized rate fell to 676,000. Although the past several months have seen a small monthly decline, the new home sale is still 13.5% higher on a year-to-year basis from 2020.

The small decline according to some industry professionals is from the lack of inventory and the higher construction costs while other industry leaders believe it is caused due to the higher new home prices. New home prices have risen 10% since January 2020.

The new home inventory is down by 44% which is a little over 34,000 homes over the last year. Supply factors including the material, labor and lots are holding builders back. The survey also indicated that today’s buyers are not happy with housing affordability. In fact, the share of buyers who can afford less than half the homes available for sale worsened from 63% at the end of 2020 to 71% by midyear.

Although the market is still going strong, those who did not purchase during the second quarter of 2021 was due to pricing. The higher construction cost and development costs have hindered housing prices. The GDP growth for the second quarter was at a low of 6.5%. The good news is that NAHB is predicting an overall growth rate of just under 7% for the whole year. This will be the best rate seen since 1984.

This is still a good time to buy as mortgage rates are still reasonable. If you are in the market for a home, contact your local Realtor.

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Custom built new home that is close to New Orleans.

During the release of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Survey of Construction (SOC) it was reported that over half (65%) of new single-family homes built in 2020 were constructed on slab foundations. The remaining accounted for 22% with a full/partial basement and 12% with a crawl space.

In fact, there is a wider gap between a slab and full/partial basement and this gap is still widening. This can be seen in the reports from previous years. In 2000 only 46% of new single home starts were built on slabs. This is not the case with new homes constructed on a basement. In 2000 36.8% were built on basements while only 22% were in 2020.

The percentages differ from region to region. New homes that were built on slab foundations were predominant in the West South Central (95.7%), followed by the South Atlantic (79.4%), next was the Pacific (97.7%) and still strong but a little under half in the Moutain Region (48.1%).

Over the past decade, most new single-family homes were built on slab foundations. Experts say this is due to the warmer climate. In the East South Central division, 43% of the new single-family homes were built on a crawl space which outnumbered the 38% that were built on slabs.

The climate in each region plays a big part in what types of foundations are used in that area. Homes that are built in colder areas must have their foundations built below the frost line. This means that the majority are built on partial or full basements. New England saw 79.8% of new homes built with full/partial basements, West North Central (77.2%), Middle Atlantic 69.5% and East North Central 54.3%.

The survey also reported the average area of a finished basement in the colder regions. In the East North Central new single-family construction homes had 1,156sq. ft., while West North Central had 998sq. ft., Middle Atlantic 921 sq. ft. and in New England 734 sq. ft. According to the survey nationwide the average finished basement area was 1,137 sq. ft. in 2020.

If you are in the market for a new home, now is a great time to buy. Check with a local Realtor who can help you with the process from start to finish.

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Nice new custom built home close to the city of New Orleans.

According to the US Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC) and information gathered by NAHB two-story homes are on the decrease. They found in 2020 the same amount of two-story homes started was equal to single-story homes.

Nationwide, the share of new homes with two or more stories fell from 52% in 2019 to 50% in 2020, while the share of new homes with one story grew from 48% to 50%.  The South region has seen the most increase in one-story homes for three straight years. One story new homes started in 2020 shows the most in West South Central with 62%. The least was in New England with 15%.

The 2020 Survey of Construction shows each region divided by new homes with a single story and new homes with two or more. The Pacific region shows 39% built were one story while 61% were two or more, Mountain showed 51% single while 49% were two or more, West North Central had 57% one story while 43% were two or more, West South Central had 62% one story with 38% two or more, East North Central showed 56% were one story while 44% were two or more, East South Central showed 61% one story and 39% two or more, the South Atlantic came in with 48% one story and 52% two or more, Middle Atlantic with 28% one story and 72% two or more, and New England with 15% one story and 85% two or more.

That means that four of these nine divisions saw the greatest newly-built homes with two or more stories. In fact, two or more story homes were seen in greater amounts in the divisions along the coasts around the country. As far as single-story homes, the Midwest and South won.

A surprising twist to the current home market that might have stemmed from the pandemic. If you are in the market for a new home, call a local Realtor in your area. A Realtor will be able to help you with your home search.

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The nice gray is a pop of color in the kitchen. The house features hardwood floors and a nice white wall.

A nice foyer with double entry doors.One of the most important parts of the home sale process is staging your home. According to industry leaders, staging your home prior to putting it on the market will not only make you more money but will also help your home sell faster.

The National Association of Realtors reported that 96% of realtors believed staging had an impact on the buyer. Here are some great tips for staging your home before you put it on the market.

Go on a Cleaning Spree

For those on a budget, this is a great way to start the process of getting your home ready to sell. Most homeowners do weekly tasks to keep their home clean like dusting and vacuuming. When getting your home ready to sell, go the extra mile by scrubbing the grout in the bathrooms, soaking faucet heads in vinegar to remove limescale buildup, clean the baseboards and deep cleaning all the remaining areas of the house.

Declutter Everything

A big room can look small and cramped when it is filled with clutter. When staging a room, remember less is more. Just think, if you declutter now, there will not be as much stuff to pack when moving.

Keep Flat Surfaces Clear

Shelves, countertops, desks and tables should be cleared. According to top professional home stagers, this is one of the top on the list.  A few decorations here and there are fine, but clean lines are a home staging staple.

Remove Personal Items

A buyer does not want to see that this home belongs to the seller. The buyer wants to be able to envision themselves in the home. Remember you want to showcase your home’s potential and keep distractions at bay. Removing family photos, knick-knacks or memorabilia that can distract potential buyers is a must.

Paint Walls with Neutral Colors

Bright or dramatic paint color can give a negative impression on buyers. In order to appeal to the widest range of buyers, repaint your walls in a neutral color. Use color schemes such as white, cream, beige or light gray. Studies show that neutral paint in homes can bring a seller an average of 107% return on investment.

Refresh with Mild Scents

Another sense that buyers use when touring a home is smell. Bad odors such as pets or cigarettes can detour buyers. If your home has been exposed to such elements over time, take baking soda and sprinkle it on soft surfaces such as carpet and furniture. You will want to leave it there overnight and then vacuum it up the next day. Another trick is to wash your windows and clean the walls with mild soap and water. Steaming cleaning your floors will also help with pet odors and stains.

Remove Evidence of Pets

Not all potential buyers are pet lovers. Pets can cause damage to the home such as scratch marks, odors and stains. If these reminders are left, it can detour many buyers from purchasing your home. A tip for pet stains is to treat them with a mixture of vinegar, water, baking soda, peroxide and detergent. If a pet has scratched hardwood floors, purchase a hardwood repair kit to fix the scratches. Just like the sellers leave when someone tours your home, the pets should also.

Let in Natural Light

When looking at home listings many always talk about the open and bright spaces. Letting in the sunlight is a free staging tip and can make a world of difference in a space. Both professional home stagers and real estate photographers believe a well-lit room is a strong selling point for those looking to purchase a home.

Choose the Right Light Bulbs

Most homes still need light fixtures to brighten the rooms. Do not use fluorescent bulbs rather use soft white bulbs that some say mimic natural light. Some homeowners often use daylight bulbs which send a blue hue into the rooms. These work well in kitchens, bathrooms and home offices.

Create More Space with Mirrors

Just like magic mirrors can give the illusion of more space in a room. In order to make your square footage “stretch,” you will need to strategically place mirrors. An example would be to take a large mirror and place it at eye level near a light source in a room. This makes the room feel bigger and more comfortable.

Upgrade the Cabinets

Dated cabinets can make your kitchen look old and run down. A way to fix this problem without breaking the bank is to transform your existing old cabinets. To do this you can add a fresh coat of paint and new hardware.

Organize the Closets

Buyers always look at how much storage space a home has. Storage space is one of the top features on the buyer’s list. A great trick to use is to organize and clean out your closets. Clear floors and neatly hung clothes can make a closet appear bigger. You want to create the feeling that there is a lot of empty space that can be used.

Rearrange Your Current Furniture

When working on a tight budget, a good solution is to work with what you already have. Make sure your floorplan and furniture create an easy flow for potential buyers to navigate. Change your furniture around to create a nice flow to each room.

Use Existing Items

As mention earlier, use what you got. If you need to purchase something on a budget a great place to find items is at estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores, antique stores, Facebook Marketplace or Etsy.

Place Decor Using the Rule of Three

A great insider tip is to group decorative pieces by three. For example take a large, medium, and small decor piece and place it next to one another on a coffee table. Another great idea is to take a tall vase and place it with two smaller candles.

Buy New Bedding

Worn bedding or mismatched bedding can mess a whole bedroom design. A well-made bed is a plus in staging a bedroom. Use neutral color bedding when staging.

Put Slipcovers on Furniture

Give your outdated or dirty sofa and throw pillows a lift. An easy way to do this is by putting slipcovers over the sofa and throw pillows. A tip is to always choose slipcovers that match the room decor. This is a much less expensive way to update a room over buying all new furniture.

Try Virtual Staging

Sometimes it is hard for buyers to envision a room when it is vacant. A vacant property can still be stage without bringing in furniture and decor. Virtual staging is a great way to stage a home on a budget. Virtual staging makes the area look really staged and can be completed by a virtual stager at $50 per photo.

These tips won’t break your bank and will help you get more bang for your buck when you sell your home. It is still wise to hire a Realtor that is experienced in selling a home in your area.

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Private soaking tub in the master bathroom that has a window above. There is a lot of natural lighting in this master bathroom.

While today’s housing market is not in the buyer’s favor, people are still purchasing homes. Most potential buyers will need a mortgage and there are many steps to this process. When deciding if this step is right for you, take into consideration the following things regarding the process.

Now may still be a good time to buy a home

This is a personal decision, there is no right or wrong time to purchase a home in general. Whether a buyer’s market or a seller’s market you should take the leap when it makes the best sense in your life. Ann Thomspon, with Bank of America, says that consumers will always want to purchase a home and need to purchase a home.

Especially with the changes we have seen in the last year due to COVID-19, our home has become our live, work and play space. People have placed a greater emphasis on the value of a home.

“A second bedroom that can be used as a home office, or an outdoor space, are now more desired, prompting many people to move or buy for the first time,” says Rick Rudman, CEO at Curbio, a home renovation technology company.

Get pre-approved ASAP

The first step before even looking at listings is to see how much home you can afford. Pre-approval is the first step to let you know what you can afford and to prove to others that you are financially able.

In the current seller’s market, a buyer needs to prove to agents and sellers that they are serious. “These days, in some markets, you need a pre-approval just to start looking at homes,” says Ann Thompson, retail sales executive of the West with Bank of America.

Prepare for bidding wars ahead of time

A seller’s market means bidding wars are inevitable. The record-low mortgage rates coupled with low inventory is causing a panic among buyers. Sellers are entertaining multiple offers, many receiving multiple all-cash offers.

“Potential buyers now should prepare themselves by discussing, with their real estate agent, how much a home is worth beforehand, so that they can go into a bidding war with the strongest offer tactics, while also knowing when to back away if the price escalates,” says Thompson.

Understand appraisal gaps

With bidding wars comes bids over the asking price. These high bids cause appraisal gaps. An appraisal gap is a disparity between the offer you put on a property and what the property is deemed to be worth by a lender.  Even if you are approved for $350,000 and you offer $350,000 on a $300,000 listing price that doesn’t mean the lender will give you the full $350,000 on the home. If the appraisal comes in at $300,000, you will have to come up with the $50,000 out of pocket.

“In this market, we are seeing a lot of appraisal gaps being written into contracts. Please be sure to understand how that works before agreeing to it,” says Shanon Schinkel, branch manager and mortgage lender at HomeTown. “Also, check with your lender before agreeing to it. Using that money for an appraisal gap can change your ability to qualify.”

Keep track of changing rates and terms

Today’s mortgage rates are beginning to rise and the historical low rates we have seen in the last year will be a thing of the past. Schinkel reports that over the last six weeks, the rates have crept up. You will want to keep track of where the rates are and where they will be going during your home buying process. Shop around for rates and terms for the best deal.

Research down payment assistance programs

This market is hard for buyers but especially challenging for new home buyers. Down payment assistant programs can help. There are programs offered through government organizations and private agencies. You will want to research all of these avenues to see if you are eligible.

“There is a shortage of houses in many markets. This is creating bidding wars, offers over asking, and appraisal gaps—houses are going quickly,” says Schinkel. “But there are still many great opportunities if you’re patient and have a great real estate agent and lender.”

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Summer is a fun time where most of us can enjoy the outdoors. When it comes to your home, you want to keep the hot summer days out. There are several things you can do to help keep cooling costs down and prevent hot-weather mishaps. Getting your home ready for the hot, humid summer days is a task every homeowner should do. According to the Good Housekeeping Institute and Trane Residential, there is a must-do summer checklist.

“Between the soaring temperatures and uptick in extreme weather, your home might have to work a lot harder this summer,” says Rachel Rothman, the institute’s chief technologist. “Plus, you want to make sure all major systems are in order before heading off on any long holidays.”

Take Care of Cooling Equipment

Many homeowners forget these important tasks, in order for your central system to work efficiently a homeowner should change the HVAC filter every 90 days. A dirty filter can send dust and dander back into your home. Worst of all a dirty filter can add stress to your HVAC system.

Your central AC system should be serviced at least once a year, preferably every season. A professional will run a range of maintenance duties that a homeowner is not able to do. Annual tune-ups will extend the life of your equipment by several years or more. A typical service will run between $100 to $300 per service.

Check the Temperature

Having a thermostat that will adjust the indoor temperature throughout the day can save tons on your utility bill. In fact, Wi-Fi-connected devices can lower cooling costs by as much as ten percent according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Keep Humidity and Air Pollutants in Check

Bugs and other pests love humidity. Moist air creates a perfect environment for dust mites, mold, and other allergens in your home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a homeowner should keep humidity levels below 60%. The study concludes that ideally, a home should have a humidity level between 30 and 50 percent.

A stand-alone dehumidifier is a perfect tool to lower moisture levels in a small space such as a basement. If you live in a drier climate, then a humidifier can help put moisture back into your home’s air.

Be Prepared for Extreme Weather

Summer means unpredictable weather and is a high time for storms in many areas. Storms mean power outages and for this, a homeowner should look into getting a backup generator. Storms can also wreak havoc on your gutter system so make sure they are in good working order. Clean them out and make sure the water drains properly away from your home.

FEMA suggests every homeowner have an emergency kit with 72 hours worth of supplies. Each kit should include (3 gallons per person), non-perishable food, a battery-powered or hand crank radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, dust masks, a whistle to signal for help, and a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

Be on the Lookout for Pests

Summer is the season for ticks, termites and carpenter ants. These insects love moist soil and rotting wood so make sure your gutter system is cleaned out and working properly. Keep things like mulch, firewood and dense shrubbery away from the foundation.

A good way to determine if you have any pests is to look for piles of sawdust along baseboards—a telltale sign of carpenter ants. Termites, meanwhile, like to shed their wings along windowsills, walls, and other entry points.

Make your home and its surroundings a negative space for insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. Remove all standing water from birdbaths, gardening pots or any other container around the outside of your home. Keep your grass mowed. Ticks love tall grass in shady parts of the yard.

Being a homeowner is a lot of work but well worth it. If you are in the market for a new home, contact your local Realtor.

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