Most everyone loves natural hardwood floors because they can bring beauty and charm to almost any space. The downside is their durability. Pets, kids and everyday wear and tear can wreak havoc on real wood floors. To get them back looking new is a feat within itself. There are several great alternatives that give the same look.

Scratch- and Water-Resilient Substitutes

This option is great for everyday wear and tear, spills, kids and pets. Laminate options not only look good but withstand water damage and scratches because they have extra protection. These floors look and feel like hardwoods but last much longer.

“Laminate’s core is made from wood byproducts,” says Randy Lovelace, executive vice president of sales and merchandising at Southwind Building Products. “It’s environmentally friendly but has extreme wear resistance.”

Long-Lasting Vinyl

Like laminate, vinyl is water-resistant and resists scratches, dents, and fading. Vinyl alternatives are much cheaper than hardwood floors and easier to clean and install. Experts say they can last up to fifty years or more! In fact, vinyl is a top choice for commercial buildings. Vinyl can look like hardwoods and can be installed by gluing down and click-together the pieces.

Waterproof Protection

Over time, hardwood floors can be severely damaged by even small sprinkles of water. Damage can consist of warping, buckling, and staining. Usually when this happens hardwood floors have to be completely replaced. Alternative flooring has several layers of protection which include a UV surface layer so they will not fade, a urethane layer to protect from stains and scratches, a dent-resistant film layer, several waterproof core layers, and an underlayer cushion.

Classic Color Options

Vinyl and Laminate flooring can come in many colors which resemble natural hardwoods.  One of the most remarkable things about today’s wood floor alternatives made of vinyl is their uncanny resemblance to the real thing. The latest products are designed to closely mimic the grains, colors and textures found in natural hardwood flooring.

If you are in the market for new flooring, check these products out. They are easy to install, easy on the pocket and great to look at. A great tip to follow is to find a style and color that compliment your existing home.

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A nice home that is custom built in a beautiful community.

The is a relationship between mortgage rates and purchasing power. The lower the mortgage rate, the higher your purchase power. Rising mortgage rates will increase your monthly payments.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is above 5%. Professionals in the industry are saying that they are more than likely going up. If you are thinking of purchasing a home, now is the time before your purchasing power is too impacted.

Your mortgage rate will determine how much your monthly payments will be which in turn shows how much home you can afford. For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is between $2,100 – $2,200 with the current mortgage rate, you would be able to purchase a home for over $400,000. If the mortgage rates were to increase to 5.75% you would be looking at a house between $360,000 to $380,000.

“Get preapproved with where rates are today, but also consider what would happen if rates were to go up, say another quarter of a point, . . . Know what that would do to your monthly costs and how comfortable you are with that, so that if rates do move higher, you already know how you need to adjust in response,” says Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for

If you are ready to purchase, find a trusted Realtor and mortgage lender who can help you through the buying process. Remember, mortgage rates are predicted to be rising, which will impact your purchasing power.

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A farmhouse feel in this open floor plan home with a nice custom wood beam and fresh hardwood floors.The home inventory shortage is making purchasing a home still under construction a normal financial decision. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says that the country is facing a sharp decline in available housing to purchase. The NAR report includes housing such as condos, castles, and everything in between.

Once again, this shortage is stemmed from low-interest rates and high buyer demand. Soaring home prices and low listings mean this is a seller’s market. Professionals in the industry are seeing 20 to 30 offers on the same property. In fact, buyers are willing to put a contract on a homesite and wait up to six months to close and start construction.

A new construction home purchase is a lot different than purchasing a traditional resale. The biggest difference is that you are purchasing a home that does not exist yet. The seller is the builder or a company instead of the owner of the home. If you are closing on a home that is not yet built, you will not be able to obtain a traditional mortgage instead you would pay cash or finance the land purchase at the beginning and then take out a separate construction loan to build.

One of the biggest benefits of new construction is a buyer will get a brand new never lived-in home. A buyer will not have to battle the market and get outbid on an existing home. If you get in at the beginning you can have a say in your home design.

On the flip side, there is a chance that the construction of your new home is terrible and there are delays on materials and workers. “If you’re not buying from a really good builder, the odds of problems cropping up increase substantially,” Sheehan says. “It’s quite important who is doing the work,” says Realtor Joey Sheehan.

If you do decide to go this route, do your homework on the builder. Go to some of his existing projects and get testimonies. Remember open communication is the key, stay in communication with your builder and record both verbal and written conversations. New construction is an exciting way to go, especially in today’s housing market.

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The shortage of building products has been a big issue for home builders these days. With the delay in orders and shortages of home building materials, home builders are choosing alternative products for their home building projects.

The alternative materials include some such as rammed earth, adobe brick, and volcanic rock. These natural materials are great for insulation with heating and colling benefits. The downside is higher costs for skilled labor. Home inspectors and energy consultants could also have a hard time evaluating these items because they are unfamiliar with them.

An important long-term effect that builders do not want to ignore is mold. Earthen materials are made up of many organic substances that house mold. Natural building materials include cellulose or carbohydrate-based products which are a great source of food for mold.

Mold can be avoided by builders, it is important to understand the relationship between construction materials and their susceptibility to mold in the presence of moisture.  “Buildings will never be designed, built, maintained, or utilized perfectly; and weather and natural disasters cannot be predicted. The one thing we can have complete control over, the materials within the building, should be selected wisely,” reports Aaron Cooper.

The National Association of Home Builders has a guide for reviewing building materials called Assessing Building Materials. Builders can assess these materials by talking with the manufacturers and distributors. A couple of the questions they can ask do I understand the make-up of the building materials is similar to building materials available from another manufacturer that can provide more data, is the data that was provided complete, do I have confidence in the manufacturer and does another manufacturer improve my confidence in these building materials?

NAHB wants to help its members find the most important and pertinent information when it comes to evaluating new materials or products. Builders can make more informed decisions with this guide.

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Buying a home is a huge deal in anyone’s life. It is said to be one of the most stressful times in someone’s life. Here are some questions to ask to help you make an informed decision when it comes to buying a home.

Is now the time to buy a home?

Again this is one of the most important purchases a homeowner will ever make. Determining to take the leap of homeownership, is one of the most important financial decisions to make. Make sure your finances are in order before you decide to start your home search.

Are you ready to invest in a home?

A home is a wonderful investment, however, it is a big expensive one. Assess where you are in your life, is homeownership right for you? Make sure you want to stay in the home. Selling a house right after you purchase it will cost you a good bit of money.

Do you have a target home price?

Currently, we are in a seller’s market which means homes are going to have multiple bids and sell at higher asking prices. December 2021 reported the median home price in the country was up 15.1% higher than the same time last year. Before you start your search, find a number that you are comfortable with and stick with it.

Do you have enough savings?

Purchasing a home is not just paying the listing price. You need to have some savings not only set aside for any home updates or projects but also for other costs associated with purchasing a home. Here are some of the costs associated with buying a home. You will need 3-5% of the purchase price for a downpayment and money for closing costs and inspection fees.

Do you have credit concerns?

In order to obtain a mortgage, you will need a good credit score. By rule of thumb, anything under a 620 will not qualify. Anything between 620 – 740 will get you qualified but with a higher rate. Anything over a 740 will not only get you qualified but will get you the best available rates.

Do you have money allocated for unexpected costs?

Don’t get caught off guard by surprise costs through the process of buying a home. Remember inspections, insurance, taxes, and utilites. The more informed you are, the better decision you will make. Contact a Realtor who knows the process from start to finish.

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Habitat for Humanity is building a new 154-home community close to Terrytown. The New Orleans affiliate says this is the largest-ever project that they have built in the New Orleans metro area. Fifty of the homes will be built for people 55 or older.

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has given the local Habitat for Humanity $4.5 million for the project. Marguerite Oestreicher, executive director of the local chapter, praised Scott for her generosity. In fact, Scott’s donation is the largest donation both the local and national Habit organizations have ever been given.

“When you get a transformative gift like this it gives you an opportunity to innovate,” said Oestreicher.

The new community will be located on the property site that was formerly Plantation Golf & Country Club. The 44-acre tract is off Behrman Highway and is planned to be called Rising Oaks. The $56 million project will be developed by Woodward Design & Build along with architect Garrity & Accardo.

The neighborhood will consist of a mix of two, three, and four-bedroom homes. The remaining 50 homes will be cottage-style homes for older residents. The remaining land will house a community center and retail center, including a health center, restaurant, pet store, bank, and many other retailers.

This will be one of the first projects Habitat has started from the ground up in the area. It was a rare opportunity for the chapter to build a live, work, and play community from scratch.

“It has allowed us to plan a community that is livable, walkable, green, and beautiful,” she said.

In order to be allowed to live in these mid-century architecture homes, you will have to qualify. Residents will qualify if their income is between 30% and 80% of the median New Orleans income which is around $20,000 to $57,000 a year.

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This custom home features this nice breakfast area with hardwood floors and plenty of sunshine.

The kitchen counters are solid and white that pops with the nice stainless steel applainces.The environment is precious to us and if we respect it, it will respect us. When we think of ways we can improve our footprint, most real estate transactions do not come to mind. Most realtors and those that are involved in some way with the National Associaton of REALTORS® (NAR) are familiar with the Preamble of the Code of Ethics.

“Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. REALTORS ® should recognize that the interests of the nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership. They require the creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful environment.”

“REALTORS® will have to make sustainability a primary focus — because our customers and our planet demand it,” states NAR 2022 President Leslie Rouda Smith.

Every way we can, we should think about how it affects the Earth. Real estate transactions should not only focus on the clients but on the impact, they will have on the land itself. Here are three aspects to think about when respecting our environment.

First, governance.

Decision-making is the first step to take when thinking about how a real estate transaction will affect the earth. The National Associaton of REALTORS® under the 2022 NAR Leadership Team has created the Sustainability Advisory Group. The group consists of all Chairs who sit on the Public Policy Coordination Committee and the National Association of REALTORS®’ Vice Presidents of Advocacy and Association Affairs. They are currently working on joining in a partnership with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to help keep those in the real estate industry up-to-date on how weather events affect housing and markets.

Second, resilience.

The National Associaton of REALTORS® is working on how it can change and sustain the environment. An example of what they are currently working in is the Flood Factor on This provides flood risk data on each listing, allowing property owners to accurately assess their risk and better prepare for future flooding events.  Another great example is NAR’s Smart Growth Grants and Placemaking Program. This program supports both state and local associations giving them the resources to build parks, trails, and community gardens. NAR is backing FEMA’s Risk-Rating 2.0 which helps with rating individual homes when it comes to flooding rather the rating flood zones. By doing this, homebuyers will have a better perspective on how flooding will affect the specific property they are looking to buy.

Third is environmental stewardship.

Data has shown that homebuyers will pay a premium for homes that are certified Energy Star or the National Green Building Standard. Realtors are also encouraging healthy green communities for homebuyers of all income levels and backgrounds.

If you are in the market for a new home, contact a Realtor who can help navigate the green housing market. Everything we do from the products we use to the homes we live in can impact the beautiful earth we live in.

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This custom home features a nice white exterior with black trim.

Custom Built-Ins with a nice dark paint pops and is a great addition to this dining area.The COVID-19 pandemic played a large part in the current strong housing market. Bidding wars have been predominant for the past year and a half. Now that the interest rates are starting to rise, the competition is getting even stronger. Here are five new rules to follow when buying a home in 2022.

1. Lock in a mortgage before you start your search

In the past, homebuyers would find a home and then get pre-approved. This is not the case in 2022 because of the strong demand. This fast-paced market makes it essential to get pre-approved before you start the homes search process.

“You should be pre-approved by a lender and knowledgeable about your finances before you even begin your home search,” says Beverly Burris, an agent with William Means Real Estate in Charleston, SC. “With houses going under contract as quickly as they are right now, often within days or sometimes hours of going to market, there is no sense in going to see a property before speaking to a lender and learning what you can afford.”

2. Shop for homes priced below what you can afford

Once you get pre-approved you then know how much you can afford. Homebuyers in the past have purchased a home on the high end of their mortgage approval and that resulted in a recession. Today, homebuyers are encouraged to purchase a home below the top of their price range.

“These days, houses are selling for more than their list price and, as a buyer, you’re more than likely going to end up in a bidding war,” Lori Ozley, a manager with Birmingham HomeBuyers explains. “If you look at properties that are under your budget, you’ll have room to submit a competitive offer that goes above the asking price.”

3. If you love a property, act fast

Purchasing a home is a big deal so most homebuyers want to think on it before they make the big leap. Today’s market does not afford homebuyers this luxury.

“If you are interested in a property, you must act quickly or you risk losing out to another offer. When you really like a property, you should sit down with your real estate agent, go through the comp research, and work on putting together an offer the very same day,” says Bill Samuel, the agent and investor behind Blue Ladder Development.

4. Put your big number out there from the start

When it comes to purchasing property, negotiations have always been part of the process. This is not the case today in this hot market. Homebuyers need to put their best offer forward at first.

“Be prepared to make your best and final offer from the beginning,” advises Jodi Dougherty, a luxury broker at Downtown Realty Company in Chicago. “Since sellers often receive multiple full-price offers, you may not get an opportunity to counteroffer if you come in too low.”

5. It will probably take multiple tries before you succeed

Don’t give up, there are tons of other homebuyers looking at the same homes in the same market. It might take more than once to put your best foot forward and have your offer accepted.

‘You can almost plan on having several offers not go through before one is accepted,” explains Brian Chinn, leader of the Brian Chinn Team at Newberry Real Estate in Tyler, TX. “While that isn’t always the case, it happens more often than not in this market.”

If you are interested in purchasing a new home, contact a Realtor who can help you through the process. “It’s easy to get frustrated,” Chinn adds, “but having patience is key.”

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Secondary bedroom with a unique ceiling that has recessed lighting and a custom chandelier.

A nice master bedroom with french doors leading outdoors. The bedroom also has custom lighting and hardwood floors.With the new year comes new trends in home designs. Glen-Gery, a premier brick and stone manufacturer, says to consider incorporating materials like stone and brick, which bring color, texture and functionality while complementing some of this year’s leading design trends. Here are the trends for 2022 that Glen-Gery shares.

Warm Colors

This year the trend is using warming colors. These include beige, tan, caramel, cocoa and even black. Designers are beginning to take a shift from cool tones like gray to the warmer “coffee-inspired palette.” These colors give materials such as brick, stone, siding, doors and shutters a warmer feel.

Textures and Patterns

These are becoming a staple in the 2022 home designs. Texture can draw a person to a room by adding depth and complexity. Using brick or stone is a perfect way to provide visual texture to any space.

Outdoor Inspiration

This year’s design elements are nature-inspiring. Homes will have more glass that will bring in the natural light and nature scenes. During the stay-at-home orders from the pandemic, homeowners learned to use their homes for outdoor enjoyment as well as indoor enjoyment. Bringing the indoors outdoors is a big trend for this year. The transitional indoor-outdoor spaces are great for this trend. Indoor kitchens, fireplaces and electronics are popular for outdoor spaces.

Clean Lines

Clean line designs are a designer’s best friend this year. These clean lines make a space inviting, comfortable and serene. Glass and brick are great materials for this. They both can transfer light giving a space an illumination from a higher sheen which creates a sense of balanced calm and strength in a space.

Bringing On-Trend Design into Your Home

Brick is a great versatile material that can be added to any home design. Brick comes in tons of different colors, textures and sizes. From modern designs to traditional designs brick brings flexibility. Brick is also a material that is low maintenance, resilient, durable and ascetically pleasing.

If you are planning to build or renovate, these trends are a must to use. Following these trends will not only update your home but add value to your investment.

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This kitchen features a nice kitchen island with custom lighting. The kitchen also has hardwood floors.

This custom home features a nice white exterior with black trim.Just because you are single doesn’t mean owning a home is not a reality. In fact, Freddie Mac reported that 28% of all households are sole-person. That is roughly 36.1 million and is still increasing.

“Our calculation suggests that there will be an additional 5 million sole-person households in the United States by the next decade. This means 42% of the household growth will be contributed by sole-person households,” concludes Freddi Mac.

Here are several tips to follow if you are single and want to make the dream of homeownership come true.

1. Know Your Credit Score

When you purchase a home solo, you will only have your credit score to depend on. In order to qualify for a loan, you will need stable finances and good credit history. According to Investopedia, since lenders are only looking at one score it needs to be in tip-top shape. They recommend reviewing your credit report before starting the lending process.

Knowing where your credit score falls will help your decision on if and when you should take that leap of faith in purchasing. If your credit is not so good, focus on improving it before starting the home buying process.

2. Explore Down Payment Options

A down payment is another factor to consider. If you do not have enough saved up, there are down payment programs that can help you determine how much and how to save for a home. A loan officer can help you determine which loan program best suits your personal financial needs.

3. Think About Your Future Home and Your Needs

There are so many homes to choose from when it comes to styles and options. Spend time thinking about what type of home will fit your lifestyle. Here are some questions to think about when considering what type is best for you. Do you want a short commute to and from work? Do you want a big yard for a pet or space for outdoor entertaining? Do you want an extra bedroom for guests? Do you want a home office due to working from home? Do you want a condo with lower maintenance than a detached home?

The process seems daunting and can be a challenge but with a Realtor on your side, it becomes a much easier process. A professional sales agent can help you make the best choice for the right price.

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