Tuesday, December 19, 2017

5 Holiday Organizing Tips to Fill Your Cup With Cheer


From late November to early January, there will be more pumpkin pie, Hallmark Christmas movies and college football games than you can jingle a bell at.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all! But if you’re in charge of hosting your family’s holiday celebration, it can also be one of the most hectic.
It doesn’t have to feel that way. In fact, you can view the seasonal bustle ahead as an opportunity to start the New Year in a freshly organized home.
“Once, a woman asked me how to ensure that she and her husband regularly keep their apartment free of clutter. I advised her to give a dinner party once a month. So, instead of looking at holiday entertaining as a problem, look at it as a solution.”
Sharon Lowenheim | Organizing Goddess, Inc.
Ready to start containing the chaos? We rounded up five expert tips on holiday organizing that will keep your cup of cheer full.

Here’s How to Get Organized for the Holidays

Tip #1: Declutter and Organize

Organizing a Bathroom Before the Holidays
Getting rid of stuff can be very therapeutic—and will go a long way to keeping your home in order as guests come and go. So, your first step in organizing for the holidays is to make a decluttering to-do list. Here are the most important tasks to include:
  • Make room in your coat closet for your guests’ things.
  • Clear the clutter from your living room, dining room and other areas where guests will gather.
  • Get rid of the kitchen gadgets you never actually use so you’ll have plenty of free space for holiday meal prep.
  • Clear unnecessary items from bathrooms and spare bedrooms if you have overnight guests coming over.
According to Sharon Lowenheim, certified professional organizer at Organizing Goddess,focus on decluttering the areas where your guests will spend the most time: the living room, the bathroom and the kitchen or dining room:
“Go through those rooms to identify anything that doesn’t belong there, and move it to the appropriate rooms. Then tackle the stuff that does belong in those common rooms, and put it away.”
Sharon Lowenheim | Organizing Goddess, Inc.
Check out our Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Decluttering Your Home for room-by-room tips if you need a little more organizing inspiration.

Tip #2: Decorate Early

Bell-Shaped Ornament on a Christmas Tree
Don’t wait until the last minute to put up holiday decorations.
Showcasing your decorative pumpkins, cornucopia or your display of Christmas lights is one of the best parts of hosting your family’s celebrations. But putting up those decorations is a big job. So, one of the best holiday organization tips is simply to get that job done before the season is in full swing.
But remember that the idea is to minimize clutter. Don’t overwhelm your space with crafts and other decorations. Display your favorites and leave plenty of room for your guests to mingle and enjoy them.

Tip #3: Keep It Simple

A Simply-Decorated Table for an Organized Holiday
Being a host comes with its share of responsibilities, but don’t overwhelm yourself. You don’t need to plan dozens of side dishes, insist on 100 percent homemade desserts or display elaborate handcrafted centerpieces to host a wonderful holiday celebration.
Spending quality time with your loved ones is better than throwing the fanciest of fancy parties.
“If you are rushing to get everything done in time for the holidays, take a look at your to-do list. Are you doing things every year that you no longer enjoy, but that have become a tradition? Consider cutting some of them out. Maybe start a new tradition!”
Sharon Lowenheim | Organizing Goddess, Inc.

Tip #4: Practice Wise Wrapping

Gift-wrapping Supplies
One of the smartest ways to get organized for the holidays is to wrap gifts as you buy them. This way, you won’t be left with a major project to tackle at the last minute. And you won’t be tripping over piles of presents while you’re trying to declutter.
Stash all your gift wrap, ribbons, tape and scissors in a plastic bin you can slide under a bed or a tote that can be tucked away in a corner. This portable “wrapping kit” will make it easy to keep your home organized between shopping trips.

Tip #5: Call for Reinforcements

 Two Figures Cutting Out Holiday Cookies
Everybody knows that holiday organization is a big job. So, there’s no shame in asking for help. And there are plenty of simple ways to split up the work. For example:
  • The host is in charge of the main dish and each guest is in charge of bringing a side.
  • You are in charge of decluttering while your partner is in charge of the meal (or vice versa).
  • You handle the outside decorations while your partner handles the inside d├ęcor (or vice versa).
  • Ask for a few volunteers to come over early on party day to help with cooking and other last-minute chores.
  • Ask for a few volunteers to help with decorating.
Whatever would work best for your family, don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s the season of giving and most of your guests would appreciate the opportunity to lend a hand.
Now that you know how to get your home organized for the holidays, you can enjoy the spirit of the season without the stress. And if you know of any more holiday organization tips, let us know in the comments below.www.fullcirclehousing.comwww.fullcirclehousing.com

4 Reasons to Buy Your First Home in Your 30s

Dec 7, 2017
There was a time in my life when I thought I’d never own a home. As someone who had preferred life in big cities and prioritized travel above homeownership, the idea of settling somewhere permanently never really appealed to me.
Then I got married, then I got pregnant, and suddenly the idea of living in an actual home to call my own (with a little more space, to boot) became very appealing. By the time my husband and I closed on our first-ever home, I was 32 years old, and I’m so glad I waited until then to buy. Here’s why.
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1. I had saved enough for a 20% down payment

My husband and I were married almost three years before we bought our first house, which gave us plenty of time to start putting cash aside in a separate savings account—specifically for a down payment. That meant that we were able to put down 20% of our home’s overall value (the recommended amount), putting us in a good position for a low-interest mortgage loan.
You may not be able to sock away that much in cash by the time you’re ready to buy, but at least when you’re solidly in your 30s, you’re likely making much more than you were in your mid-20s. So you should be able to put down more than you could when you were younger. It should also be easier to refill your savings after spending that money.

2. I knew where I wanted to settle down

Places I’ve called home include New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and Colorado, along with a few others. In other words, I had been around the block enough to know what I was looking for in a long-term home and a place to raise my family. As it turned out, Colorado was that place, and so far, it’s all I could have wanted and more.

3. I was secure enough in my career to make big financial moves

Because I’ve been freelancing successfully for the past few years, I’ve built up enough of a steady client base to feel financially safe as I took the plunge into homeownership. Buying a house is a lot more than forking over a down payment and paying a mortgage—utilities, homeowners association fees and insurance, and general maintenance and upkeep all add more weight on the monthly budget. By waiting until we were more settled in our careers, though, my husband and I felt more prepared for whatever our new house might throw our way.

4. I could afford a house that didn’t need much work

While I can certainly tackle the occasional DIY project, I’m never going to be someone who wants to place hardwood or redo a bathroom. As such, waiting until I was in my 30s to buy my first house meant that I had the money to buy a home that didn’t need a lot of work. It was essentially move-in ready, which was exactly what I was looking for.

When’s the right time to buy a home?

Buying a home before you’re in your 30s certainly isn’t a bad thing, as long as you’re financially prepared to put down a sizeable down payment and to pay for the added expense that comes with it. For me, though, waiting just a couple more years until I was in my 30s proved to be invaluable, since I now feel as prepared as possible for whatever new financial responsibilities head my way.
Also, no matter how old you are, make sure you’ve had a chance to build your credit before you buy. Credit plays a big role in buying a home, so make sure yours is as good as possible before you start shopping for a loan and check it frequently.
This article was written by Cheryl Lock and originally published on Credit.com.

Capitalize on Construction

Declines in residential purchases can boost multifamily construction-investment efforts
Capitalize on Construction
No one is surprised that interest rates are going up. After hitting all-time lows for an extended period of time, there was only one direction rates could head. At the same time, mortgage rates overall are still very low compared to historical averages.
These days, the most pressing pressure on commercial mortgage brokers and lenders isn’t the concern that interest rates are poised to head upward. Rather, on the commercial end — and particularly for larger projects — the challenge these days is to find some creative alternatives to traditional loans, depending on the type of project and the financing requirements relative to the equity invested. This can be especially true of construction financing.
The housing bust and the recession that followed left an indelible mark on the manner in which the average person or family purchases a single-family home. Gone are the days of no income-verification loans. Regulators now agree that it makes good business sense to know whether the person borrowing money actually has the ability to repay it.
In this environment, commercial mortgage brokers should analyze the impact and role of construction financing as it relates to projects in the multifamily sector and also examine how closing more loans will raise the satisfaction levels of the lenders and borrowers they do business with.
To avoid any appearance that the federal government is careless with taxpayer money, new lending restrictions typically require homebuyers today to make significant downpayments on residential home purchases. The problem with that new normal — although it makes perfect fiscal sense — is that most individuals on the lower end of the income scale do not have enough available equity to meet the newer lending requirements. As a result, many of these potential buyers cannot qualify for a home loan, even if they have the income to accommodate the calculated mortgage payments, taxes and insurance.
“ Low-income homebuyers will likely continue to find it difficult to qualify for a mortgage because of a lack of available equity. ” 
With the likelihood of a home purchase decreased, many of these potential borrowers are forced to rent instead of buy. There are other factors that go into this, beyond the difficulty of saving for a downpayment. Those include larger amounts of student debt among millennials and the increased relocation flexibility renting offers.
Low-income homebuyers will likely continue to find it difficult to qualify for a mortgage because of a lack of available equity to invest in a home purchase. Under current lending requirements, there is little that mortgage brokers and originators can do to assist. This does provide an excellent opportunity, however, for the construction of multifamily rental properties.
To develop these projects, borrowers — in this case, owners or developers of multifamily properties — not only need a commercial mortgage loan, but they also typically need construction financing. For most of the last 10 years, this required both a short-term construction loan and permanent financing upon completion of construction, but some lenders have recently reported that single-close, construction-to-permanent loans are making a comeback.

Lower inventory supply

The increased flexibility of a construction-to-permanent loan is important, especially in a market of generally rising home values. Mortgage brokers should recognize the recent availability of construction-to-permanent loans and, in the right circumstances, make them available to clients working in the multifamily rental sector.
This is relevant because, in a rising-rate market, the value of the completed and improved property often exceeds the acquisition and construction costs. The increased property values greatly enhance the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. The additional equity in the property makes the conversion to permanent financing attractive to the lender and buyer, as well as the mortgage broker who is looking to satisfy both parties.
The typical inventory of existing homes for sale is usually enough to last for about six months. Across the country, however, available inventory is significantly lower than that. In central Florida, for instance, recent reports indicated the market was at an extreme low of 3.42 months of housing inventory supply. That’s simply not enough available inventory for all the willing homebuyers to purchase the homes they want.
This reduction of supply has the correlating effect of driving up home prices. Higher prices, of course, drive away some potential buyers. Add in the fact that interest rates are on the rise and this situation is bound to self-regulate one way or another: Either the allure of higher prices will entice more sellers to list their homes, which will increase available inventory and likely drive down home prices because the available inventory will increase, or potential buyers will decide to avoid the marketplace. If rates go high enough to chase away a significant number of buyers, then prices will likely decrease. Until the housing market does adjust over the longer term, however, the demand for rental housing and multifamily construction projects is likely to remain strong.

Construction by the numbers

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) calculates a figure called the Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI). According to ABC, the CBI “is a forward-looking national economic indicator that reflects the amount of work that will be performed by commercial and industrial contractors in the months ahead.” ABC defines backlog as “the amount of work, measured in dollars, that construction companies are contracted to do in the future.”
“ Future indicators show that until 2019 or 2020, at least, the construction industry is poised to remain steadily busy. ”
As the CBI’s value rises, theoretically, contractors should be more comfortable in regard to their short-term economic outlook. Excessively small backlogs, however, imply that contractors are running short on work and need to identify and secure additional sources of future revenue. This past October, ABC reported the CBI fell to 8.6 months during second-quarter 2017, down 4.1 percent from first-quarter 2017. The second-quarter figure, however, was up 1.4 percent year over year.
Backlog increased significantly in the past first quarter, however, so there is a common thought that the construction industry is in a historically significant period of economic growth. Yes, there is a recognized shortage of skilled construction labor, resulting from both fewer entrants into construction fields and the departure from the field of seasoned construction workers who found themselves without jobs following the Great Recession. At the same time, future indicators show that until 2019 or 2020, at least, the construction industry is poised to remain steadily busy with increasing revenues and profits.
Because commercial mortgage brokers can anticipate their clients will need loans to purchase newly constructed multifamily buildings, they also can anticipate a significant increase in commercial lending, both for financing these projects during construction and for obtaining permanent financing. Thus, commercial mortgage brokers and lenders operating in the multifamily sector are likely to see both an increasing demand for mortgages as well as increased competition to lend money for projects in the sector.
•  •  • 
Overall, the outlook for commercial mortgage brokers remains positive, the construction industry remains strong, and the backlog of commercial and industrial construction projects is on the rise. Making the situation slightly more challenging for brokers, however, is the fact that rates are rising and forecasts generally indicate rates will continue to increase.
Despite the upward momentum with interest rates, amplified by the near-term expectation of further rate hikes, by historical standards, rates remain low. Because of the positive future construction indicators, mortgage brokers are likely to find opportunities in the multifamily sector for the foreseeable future.