The Rise In The Popularity of Granite Countertops

If you’ve watched ten minutes of any home remodel show on cable television, there’s a good chance you’ve probably witnessed the popularity of granite counter-tops. There’s a good chance you either already have granite countertops in your home or you wish you had them. But why has granite exploded in popularity in the last 15-20 years?

Back When Granite Countertops Were Rare

There’s little chance of seeing a granite countertop in a home that hasn’t been remodeled since the 1990s. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that granite countertops truly came on the scene. Even then, only the most opulent homes could afford the luxurious granite countertops. It was seen as a tremendously expensive add-on for kitchen remodels. The reason why it was once so expensive and is now nearly affordable stems from two changing variables — availability and workability. When granite countertops first came on the scene, they mostly imported from Italy and manually cut. Between finding the granite, mining it, shipping it, and cutting it, granite remained a luxury afforded to few.

What Made Granite More Available

As demand for new housing grew leading up to the Housing Bubble of 2008, so too did the demand for granite countertops. Those buying existing houses during this period were also remodeling the houses they would buy, often opting for granite. At this point, you’re probably wondering how granite suddenly became so much more available. The two obstacles to attaining granite suddenly changed — source and ease of preparation. Whereas granite used to be sourced almost exclusively from Italy, the majority of granite found in American homes these days is either from Brazil or India — places that show no shortage of granite. The required preparation for the granite also simplified with advances in computerized cutting machines. It wasn’t long before granite could be easily mined, shipped, and cut at competitive rates.

The Future of Granite

As of the publish date of this piece, granite is still king of the countertop world. With its strength, allure, and consistent availability, it’s not hard to see why. While there are currently no signs of the allure of granite fading anytime soon, there are a few up-and-coming competitors. Quartz, for example, has been shown to require much less maintenance than granite and is becoming more competitive in price. Marble is also starting to make a comeback from its past popularity. You can learn more about these countertop materials and more with help from the property experts at Perry Hood Properties.

Building a Home vs Buying an Existing Home

For most individuals, buying a home will be the largest single investment they make. The majority of home buyers have already begun to design their ideal home in their minds even before officially shopping around. Preferences range from floor plans and house style to what side of a particular town or city they would like to call home. Most families shopping for a new home also weigh the option of buying an existing home or building an entirely new home. In this piece, we’re going to weigh some of the pros and cons of buying an existing house versus building an entirely new home.

Purchasing an Existing House

As a person or family establishes what kind of budget they have to work with based on what style of mortgage they choose (fixed vs adjustable rate or 30-year or 15-year), they can begin to weigh their options. Most people who will lean in the direction of purchasing an existing home will do so for two reasons — convenience and price. Matters of convenience can range from being able to immediately have the keys to an existing house as well as being able to choose more specifically what established neighborhood in which to live. The convenience of price means savings for a home that may be older or may require additional maintenance. Some of the negative aspects of buying an existing house range from a lack of customization to maintenance issues that come with an older and possible improperly maintained property. Still, choosing a house with its own history and character can be a major selling factor for many looking for a new place to put down roots. 

Building a New Home

Many shopping for a new home may ask, “Why would I build a new house with there are literally thousands of existing homes to choose from?” This is a good question. It’s true that new home construction is most likely to occur in a new neighborhood and the house itself may lack some of the history that some home shoppers seek. Also, due to their age, existing homes may be somewhat less costly than new home builds. On the other hand, a new home build allows the homeowner to design a home precisely to their own specifications. Floor plans, room dimensions, and even individual fixtures are completely up to the buyer when it comes to new home construction. For those who desire to live in historic neighborhoods, there are frequently ways to build on open lots when coordinating with the local homeowner’s association or a historical society. The process of building a new home has also been greatly simplified by using subcontractors who can manage every stage of the building process.

Whether you’d like to buy an existing new home or custom-build the home of your dreams, your friends at Perry Hood Properties can be of assistance.

Fixed-Rate Vs Adjustable-Rate Mortgages: The Pros & Cons

As owning a home begins to look much more appealing than continuing to rent, you will have a lot of decisions you’ll need to make, one of the most significant will be concerning your mortgage — a 15-year vs 30-year and fixed-rate mortgages vs adjustable-rate mortgages. In this piece, we’re going to look at some of the positive and negative aspects of adjustable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages.

What is an adjustable-rate mortgage?

Every home mortgage is a loan from a lender towards buying a house. The interest rate on a mortgage is the extra amount of money you pay in order to make offering the mortgage loan lucrative for lenders. An adjustable-rate mortgage is a home loan in which the interest rate is allowed to fluctuate depending on market conditions. Some of the positive aspects of these types of mortgages are that a dip in interest rates can mean some savings for the mortgage payer. However, the opposite is also true, as the lender would then be allowed to increase interest rates. Adjustable-rate mortgages can be great deals for those taking out home mortgages when interest rates are looking steady and low. Because of their allowance for fluctuation, adjustable-rate mortgages can sometimes have lower setup costs but can be a little bit of a gamble for borrowers.

What is a fixed-rate mortgage?

On the flip side, a fixed-rate mortgage is a loan on the price of a house with a monthly interest rate that is locked in place for the duration of the loan. One of the biggest advantages of a fixed-rate mortgage is the predictability of knowing precisely what a house payment will cost every month for potentially decades to come. Because of this, even if the interest rate is a little bit higher or the plan requires higher setup fees, many borrowers are willing to pay the difference for the convenience of being able to properly plan out their finances to the dollar. One of the downsides of a fixed-rate mortgage is not being able to take advantage of lowering interest rates without refinancing — a process that can be somewhat expensive.

Whichever style of mortgage you decide upon, the property professionals at Perry Hood Properties can help you find the perfect home for your family.

The Pros & Cons of a 15-Year-Fixed Mortgage

For those wanting to enter the ranks of home ownership, getting a mortgage is probably your first step. While most realty and mortgage websites will guide you in the direction of a 30-year-fixed mortgage, for those who would like to speed up the process of gaining equity in their homes, a 15-year-fixed mortgage is an available option. In this piece, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of a 15-year-fixed mortgage.

Because we’d all like to get the bad news out of the way, we’re going to start with the cons of going with a 15-year-fixed mortgage.

Cons of a 15-Year-Fixed Mortgage

Higher Monthly Mortgage Payments
Obviously, if you’re cutting the time it takes to buy a home in half, the money has to come from somewhere. This increase in your mortgage may mean you can’t save or spend nearly as much as you normally would in the meantime.

You Can’t “Afford” As Much House
Most people, even without doing the exact math, could give you a rough idea of the amount of house they could afford based on their income. Those same people will likely be sadly surprised to find that a 15-month-fixed mortgage provides much less wiggle room in their budget as well as much less house.  

Tax Disadvantages
Because you’re paying off your house twice as fast with less interest, you may end up missing out on as many mortgage interest tax deduction dollars.

Now that the bad taste of the medicine is out of the way, let’s look at the advantages of a 15-year-fixed mortgage.

Pros of a 15-Year-Fixed Mortgage

Lower Interest Rates
As lenders aren’t as nearly as susceptible to risks on a 15-year-fixed mortgage, this usually makes interest rates lower. Lower interest rates over the course of your mortgage plan means that you’ll actually pay less in the long run.

You’ll Build Up Equity Faster
As you pay a higher mortgage payment every month, you’re on your way to bonafide home ownership that much faster. While these higher mortgage payments may be harder to weather for those 15 years, at the end of it, you’ll own your home outright and will be able to quickly grow your savings.

The ultimate decision on which type of mortgage to go with depends on many different factors. Whichever decision you go with, know that the home building process is one less thing to worry about with help from your friends at Perry Hood Properties.

4 Ways To Maximize Space In Smaller Homes

Whether you live in a smaller home out of choice or necessity, making the most of every square foot is the key to making the space livable. In this piece, we’re going to look at some clever techniques for making even the smallest spaces as functional as possible.

1. Downsizing Material Goodskeep or sell itemsWhile we like having “stuff,” there are only so many items crucial to our happiness. Living in a smaller home or apartment makes minimizing the number of items we have a necessity. Start downsizing your belongings by getting rid of duplicate and single-purpose items. Fortunately, we live in an age when selling these items has never been easier. Using Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for local transactions, remembering to always practice safety by making transactions in a mutual space — never giving out your address or location.

“But how do I begin to tackle downsizing?”

  • Don’t tackle your entire house in one go. Go from space to space.
  • Don’t think “will I use this?” but rather “when was the last time I used this?”
  • Ask yourself “do I like this item?” or “does this item bring me joy?”

Some find the act of downsizing stressful, but the end result is often quite liberating. For additional questions to ask yourself when deciding what to keep, Apartment Therapy has offered up their 5 questions to ask yourself when deciding to keep or purge

2. Go Vertical With Storagehigh shelf reachingMany homes have walls that stretch higher than we can humanly reach. Why not put this space to good use? By creating storage in the form of floating shelves or cabinets in higher places, you can free up a lot of living space. A good rule of thumb is to store items according to the frequency of use. Store frequently items where they can be easily accessed with lesser-used items stored in higher places. You may need to get out a step-stool to retrieve these items, but this also helps keep clutter out of eye-level. Out of sight, out of mind.

3. Use Double-Usage Furnitureunder bed storageFurniture can quickly clutter a smaller home and lead to usable space. Maximize the usefulness of every cubic foot in your home by using furniture that serves multiple purposes. Look for nightstands with lower shelves, desks with large storage drawers, and bookshelves that can be used as room dividers. If you’re in the market for a bed frame, look for frames with large storage solutions underneath either in the form of drawers, shelves, or space for items. Consider a comfortable sleeper-sofa in guest rooms or even in living rooms in houses where guest room options aren’t available. Give your furniture multiple jobs.

4. Only Use Furniture That Fits

blue mid-century couchOversized furniture can have a luxurious appeal in larger homes but quickly fills up smaller homes. When shopping for sofas, consider appealing sleek mid-century styles that don’t fill up rooms with extra unused fluff. Massive dining room tables may give off the vibe of elegant dining, but if you’re not actually using that amount of table space for dining on a regular basis, go with a smaller option. Smaller dining tables also mean less space for clutter to accumulate.

If you can only declutter and organize your small space so much, perhaps it is time to consider upgrading to a larger home. Let the home building experts at Perry Hood Properties help you build your next dream home.

4 Tips On Getting To Know New Neighbors

Purchasing a home is a huge financial investment, but let us not forget that you’re also joining a new community — albeit a neighborhood community. Though you may be fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood where new neighbors are lined up to greet you with a basket of cookies, many people’s busy lives have made reaching out to new neighbors an afterthought. Still, you’re laying roots here, so wouldn’t you like to know the people living among you? After all, there are few things more awkward than sharing an awkward nod with your neighbor of many years because you never took the time to learn each other’s names. In this piece, we’re going to look at some ideas on how to become better acquainted with your new neighbors.

1. Scope out your neighborhood with leisurely walks.

If you have a dog to walk or you’re an avid jogger, you may have already surveyed your neighborhood on foot. Even if that’s the case, concentrating on your dog or noise-canceling headphones may keep you in your comfortable bubble. In order to get to know your neighborhood better, make an effort to take the occasional walk without the headphones or the dog. Acclimate yourself with the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. Some of the best times may be in the morning when you may appear less threatening. The morning is also a good time as you may catch some neighbors while they’re getting their paper, moving trash bins, or going to work. The evening around dusk may also be a good time to take a walk. If your neighborhoods don’t seem too rushed, feel free to introduce yourself, making sure to say that you’re new to the neighborhood.

2. Strike up a conversation with commonalities.

Meeting new people can be nerve-racking. Fortunately, when it comes to meeting new neighbors, you already have the advantage of having something in common — you both live in the same neighborhood. Feel free to ask them what brought them to the neighborhood, what they think of the area, and what they do for leisure nearby. You can extend the commonalities by asking them about any concerns they may have, how they handle their trash and recycling, asking about family and pets, and if there are any parks nearby. There’s a good chance that you have quite a bit in common just by way of living in the same neighborhood. You may even already have several mutual friends!

3. Continue the conversation by looking for uncommon commonalities.

While meeting new neighbors can be fun, you will eventually need to find more to talk about than just the neighborhood itself. While talking about what you have in common, keep an ear out for what some refer to as “uncommon commonalities.” Uncommon commonalities are unique things you may have in common on which you can build a relationship. If they have they attended a college out of state and you know someone who attended that college or you did so yourself, you’ll have that unique thing in common. Being in marching band in school, being a diehard Seinfeld fan, or any other nugget you can expand will help you forge a unique relationship with a new neighbor.

4. Maintain the relationship with regular communication.

By this point, asking your new neighbor for their contact information shouldn’t be too awkward if for no other reason than that you’re neighbors. However, don’t just stow their contact information in your mobile device and never use it. Use it to invite them and their family over occasionally for backyard cookouts, touch base on a new neighbor you’ve seen move into the neighborhood or any other relevant occurrence. Also, actually speak to them when you see them out and about — more than just the awkward nod acknowledging their existence. Make sure to gauge their comfort level with your communication and respect their privacy while remaining a warm and friendly neighbor.

6 Valuable-Enhancing Renovations For Your Home

Just perusing through houses in your price range, even if you’re a complete novice to home buying, you’ll soon develop a checklist of home attributes that make a home appealing to you. These would-like-to-haves of a home are not only preferences but their absence can be a deal-breaker for potential buyers. In this piece, we’re going to look at a few zones in your home that you may consider renovating if you’d like to increase your house’s value

1. Bathroom

While it may have something to do with it being a place where you’re at your most vulnerable or possibly where quality is most evident, but the condition of a bathroom is incredibly important to potential buyers. Many homebuyers are always looking to upgrade their bathroom experience from one home to the next and may even want to feel pampered, making the need for bathroom facilities to be of a higher caliber than you’d expect. Don’t feel like you’re throwing your money away on bathroom renovations as you’re almost guaranteed to recoup nearly all of the necessary expenses.

2. Garage Door

More than just a device meant to close off the front of your garage, your garage door is also frequently one of the most prominent determiners of a house’s curb appeal. Not only will a new garage door make your home look great from the street, but the smooth operation of a recently-installed garage door can add a certain freshness to any home tour. This often overlooked renovation also happens to be one of the most affordable, considering its impact, usually ranging between $2,000-$4,000. According to one study, homeowners recouped as much as 98% of the price of the garage door replacement.

3. Kitchen Remodel (Even a Minor One)

While an extensive kitchen remodel can nearly break the bank, a minor renovation to your existing kitchen’s aesthetic is not only manageable but can add great appeal to your home. You don’t always have to install granite counters or completely install new cabinets as existing countertops can be resurfaced and kitchen cabinets can receive new life with new doors, paints, or stains. If your home is on the upper range ($500,000 in value or more), it is recommended to splurge on kitchen renovations in order to keep it competitive in the housing market, but even the most basic detail enhancements can make an average home feel slightly above average

4. Home Exteriors

Even if the inside of a home is incredible, the first impression of a home is often set by the home’s exterior. In order to make your money go further when it comes to attempting to sell your home, one place to definitely not overlook is your home’s siding and paint. Replacing the siding on a home or giving your home a new paint job is a fairly inexpensive way to breathe new life into what may feel like a dated residence. Some other exterior aesthetics to consider are a few landscaping features to make the outside of the home stand out. Landscaping requires a bit more maintenance but helps give the impression that homeowners are attentive to the house. Overall, you want to aim for a welcoming feeling to your home for prospective buyers instead of waiting to them impress on the inside.

5. Patio or Deck Renovations

Home buyers want to picture themselves living their lives in your home which is why helping them see the potential of the outdoor spaces is a must. Either renovating existing patios or even building new deck or patio structures can be a major selling feature for those who love to spend time outside. Renovating outdoor living spaces also helps any home feel larger as it provides another location for leisure on the property. Whether you want to build a firepit from pavers or overhaul an existing deck, this is money well spent when it comes to enhancing livable space on your property.

6. Replacing Windows

If your windows are dated, they not only look too hot to buyers, but they’re also grossly energy inefficient. Because most people are not incredibly selective when it comes to the brand or model of windows they want to use in a home, this allows you to make a renovation that will appeal to most every home buyer. Even if you’re not selling your home, the money you’ll save in energy bills will nearly pay for your window replacement. It’s best to stick to the following saying for window replacement: when in doubt, change it out.

4 Home Owner Fall & Winter Safety Tips

That brisk bite in the morning air can be a welcomed guest as the fall rolls in, but should also prompt us to stay safe when using different forms of indoor heating. The following are a few tips to help keep your family safe in your home this fall and winter season.

1. Check Your Heater For Safe Operation

If you haven’t kicked on your heater this season yet only for that fun burned smell on the first day, the days until you do are probably numbered. Even if you already have or you’re about to, it pays to check out the working condition of any heater for safe operation. If any components seem to function oddly or cause any particular smells out of the usual, notify a certified heat and air specialist. Also, make sure to change out the filters in any forced-air systems to keep your home fresh and safe.

2. Exercise Space Heater Safety

Sometimes, there’s nothing quite like a strategically-located space heater just to keep your toeies toasty or to keep a garage warm while working. Though this is true, the improper use of a space heater can result in tripped breaker switches, blown fuses, or even fires. Inspect your space heater’s power cables for any damage. If any damage is spotted, the space heater should not be used until professionally repaired. Also, never leave space heaters running when they’re out of sight and never use extension cords, as they are not equipped to handle the kind of power required by space heaters. Exercising intense space heater safety is the key to a safe winter. 

3. Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Detectors

The more sources of heat inside also mean the increased chance of either a carbon monoxide leak or fire from a faulty heater or fireplace. Change out the batteries for both of these devices, test them using the appropriate buttons, and make sure they are both appropriately located in your home.

4. Make Sure the Outside Of Your Home Isn’t a Slipping Hazard

As the temperatures begin to cool outside, there is an increased chance of slipping on ice and other moisture outside of your home. Make regular checks of your property to spot ice and slippery services where they may appear. Treat hazardous areas with salt to melt the ice for a safe pathway.

For some, fall and winter are definitely the most wonderful times of the year and they can be for your family with these helpful tips for the winter homeowner. What other tips would you add to our list?

6 Home Maintenance Tasks To Do Before It’s Too Late

You’ve already sunk untold sums of money into making your home a great place to live so maintenance of your home should be a no-brainer. With this being said, many easily-treatable problems could have been prevented and helped you save thousands or even tens of thousands on extensive damages. In this piece, we’re going to give you the beginnings of a checklist to help prevent these damages to your house.

1. Periodically Checking For Termites

Nobody likes to think about termites because, frankly, they’re icky and the damage they can cause makes us plug our ears with our fingers and go to our happy place. As much as you’d prefer to not think about what damage they may be doing to your property, it pays to make it a regular home maintenance habit to check for any termites. We would rather not imagine our precious home investment being little chewed to pieces, but stopping them before they do too much damage can save thousands in exterminations and repairs. It may not be a bad idea to schedule a routine inspection with a termite professional.

2. Using Caulk To Seal Up Problem Areas

Not only is caulking up drafty window openings a great way to make your home more energy efficient but doing so can also reduce moisture damage within your home. Taking a walk around your house with a caulking gun to fill up problem areas fairly straightforward, doesn’t take a lot of time, and is a cheap preventative tip against mold.

3. Inspect Pipes & Plumbing

Whether it is a pipe getting slowly clogged or a bursting, plumbing issues can be a messy and expensive fix on any budget. Penciling in some time on your calendar semi-annually can be a great prevention against a disgusting and pricey call to the plumber. In the case of the plumbing of your home, you can’t afford to ignore the signs that you may be destined for a plumbing disaster.

4. Inspect & Test Sump Pumps

Typically found in basements and other high-humidity areas of houses, sump pumps are your first line of defense against flooding in your home and potential damage to your house. Make a point to periodically inspect and test your sump pump to make sure that it will be up to the task of protecting your investment when the time comes.

5. Clean Our Your Rain Gutters & Downspouts

If the gutters on your home or the downspouts running down your home become clogged, they’re not only rendered ineffective for properly draining rain from your roof, but can actually be damaged by debris buildup. Make it a seasonal point to clean debris out of your gutters for an easy drainage of water. Don’t forget to also check out your downspouts for clogging or you may wind up with an expensive mess on your hands down the road…perhaps literally.

6. Check Your Roof Before Problems Get Worse

“A roof over my head” is the common phraseology for being thankful for a home, but we typically don’t pay our roof much mind until it’s too late. With semi-annual roof inspections as well as roof inspections following severe weather can help us assess problem areas before they add up. Even just a small amount of damage to your roof can lead to extremely costly water damage to the rest of your home. Nip it in the bud with the occasional roof inspection.

These are just a few home maintenance tips for you. What home maintenance tips would you add to a home maintenance checklist for homeowners? Let us know!

4 House Hunting Deal Breakers You Can’t Afford To Ignore

Shopping for a new home can be a very exciting time – a very exciting, nerve-racking time. Whether you’re in the market for your first house or you’re looking for the home you will end up retiring to, there are some home buying deal breakers to consider when shopping for a new house.

1. Home Value of Surrounding Houses

In order to gauge the true value of a home, it pays to take into consideration where the neighborhood is going. If the house seems like a steal but is still one of the more expensive homes in the neighborhood, take this into consideration.

2. How the School District is Ranked

While we’d all love to be able to help support lower-performing schools, the sad truth is that these underperforming schools will impact the resale value of your home. Before pulling the trigger, you check out the ranking of your school district with a tool such as Niche

3. Flood Risk

It is true that there’s no place like home – a feeling the imbues us with sincerity. What doesn’t fill us with sincerity is when our backyard turns into a pond. That incredible deal of a home may very well be built in a flood zone. In order to gauge the likelihood of your investment washing away, FEMA has put together a very handy Flood Map Service Center.

4. Structural Damage

If the floors of the home you’re visiting don’t seem quite level or you notice actual cracks in the base of the house you’re thinking about making an offer on, definitely bring this up to the realtor. When touring the house, check to see if the doors open and close easily as this can be impacted by structural damage to a home – one of the most frustratingly expensive fixes to houses, if fixable at all. In the end, it pays to have any home professionally inspected for structural damage.

While these are just a handful of home buying deal breakers to consider, there are many others that you will want to discuss with your realtor and home inspector. Buying a home is an investment – an investment you want to last with a great possible resale value. In these instances, you cannot afford to avoid the home buying deal breakers.

What are some house hunting deal breakers you would add to this list?