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Thanks for making my homeownership dream a reality. Although I have some work to do it is a picture perfect dream. Your guidance and assistance was greatly appreciated and I will let everyone know about your professionalism and expertise. You are both greatly appreciated. Sharita Bolling
You made buying a home so easy for my wife and I. We were grateful for how much patience you used in answering all of our questions and taking us to look at so many houses. You never pushed us into looking at something we were not interested in. We strongly recommend you to anyone looking at buying a new home. Smantha Rogers
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Housing stats and analysis from NAR

More Workers Filed Unemployment Insurance Claims in January 2016

  • The number of workers starting a period of unemployment is on the rise. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that in the week ended January 30, 2016 285,000 claims were filed, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week’s level. Some of the increase may be due to weekly volatility, but even four-week moving average which strips out the weekly volatility shows an increase in jobless claims (Chart 1). In the four weeks of January 9 – 30, an average of 284,750 workers filed unemployment insurance claims, an increase compared to 263,000 claims filed in October 2015.
  • The uptick in the number of claims filed appears to be associated with the steep fall in oil prices, plunging from about $100 per barrel in 2012-2014 to about $32 in January 2016[1]. This has led to a cutback in jobs and investment spending in the oil-producing states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, and New Mexico (Charts 2). In the fourth quarter, the economy expanded at a slower pace of 0.7 percent as spending across most sectors declined, save for residential investment which grew at a healthy pace of 8.1 percent (Chart 3).
unemployment insurancechart 2chart 3
  • Given the headwinds coming from falling oil prices, NAR projects existing home sales of 5.34 million in 2016, a modest increase from the 5.26 million existing homes sold in 2015.


[1] West Texas Intermediate, spot price.

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Styled, Staged & Sold

Design Trends That Make People say … ‘No!’

By Justin M. Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency

Design trends are just that: trendy. They change from day to day, year to year, and decade to decade. The ones that are popular now won’t be soon. The ones that were popular years ago aren’t now and the ones that were popular decades ago are already back again.

Interior design trends tend to follow fashion trends about three years later. As colors gain popularity in fashion, they follow shortly thereafter in interior design.  The trick is being able to see what are trends and what is classic.  The difference is that classic will never go out of style, whereas trends always eventually go out of style.

Here are some major trends from our recent past that are turning people away from houses:

 1.   Carpet in the master bathroom. The 1990’s brought us so many fine trends, carpet in bathrooms was one of them. The thought was that cold tile on your bare feet was unpleasant. You know what else is unpleasant? Mold in your carpet pad.

2.   Plantation shutters. They are expensive, I know. Every single one of my clients who has them tells me over and over how expensive they are. Plantation shutters were designed for plantations. Hot, muggy places. The shutters were designed to block light and still allow a breeze to come into the house. The issue today is that they still block light, over 50 percent of the light that would have come through a window is blocked by plantation shutters. The fact of the matter is that nobody wants to buy a dark house. If the shutters aren’t there, they won’t miss them.

3.   Curtains over closets. The odds of the next buyer having the same taste in curtains as you is slim. Curtains over closets scream “YOU HAVE WORK TO DO” to your potential buyers.  Do yourself and the buyer a favor, take the curtains down and put the doors back up.

4.   Family, Friendship, Love, Laugh, Dance… BARF! Word art inevitably tells a story of the seller’s life and is distracting to the buyer.  Nobody cares how deep your family roots run, or that this is Emma’s crib. Take it down.

5.  Accent walls. The term “accent walls” is a misnomer, they should instead be called focal walls as they tend to provide a focus point for the room. Unfortunately, as the focal point of a room, they tend to dictate how a room should be set up and what the color scheme should be for the room. If you have a purple accent wall and all of your buyer’s furniture is red, they are going to have to work to remove that paint or more than likely just buy some other house.

6.   “Faux” is french for fake. No matter what language you translate it to faux paint is fake and is as out of style as pleats on men’s dress pants. The overwhelming commonality of all of cultural trends is truth — people want real food made by real people in real time. The time of fake and fast is over. Faux painting will send your buyer away faster than you can say “marbleized”!

7.   Wallpaper. Wallpaper is hard to take down and, again, the chances of them having the same taste as you and having furniture that will go with it is slim.

8.   Curtains.  See item 7. Wallpaper and item 3. Curtains over closets.

9.   Platform beds and other Feng Shui items.  Feng Shui is the Chinese thought system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy, and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when siting and designing buildings. It most likely works great in China where most people are acutely aware of the thought system, but in Western culture it just looks like a giant platform bed with a mirror and a stick above it. Your buyer will most likely have no idea why you did it and it will distract from the room.

10. Collections. Using a collection to highlight built-in shelves works well, so long as the collection does not overshadow the shelves themselves. Completely overwhelming a house with a collection or series of collections will overshadow the house and positively or negatively take attention away from the house. Pre-pack these items to proudly display them in your next house.

11. Rounded outside gypsum board corners.  These became popular in the building boom of the 1990’s because they required less time and skill for laborers to mud and tape. This, of course, was a very cost effective way to build homes. However, we quickly realized that rounded corners left us no place to end wall finishes like paint and wallpaper.  Needless to say, the trend faded away and now we have tons of houses with rounded outside corners.

headshot_JustinRiordanABOUT THE AUTHOR: Justin Riordan, LEED AP, is founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency based in Portland, Ore. As the creative energy behind Spade and Archer, Riordan fuses his formal training as an architect with his natural design savvy to create beautiful and authentic spaces for clients. Prior to opening Spade and Archer in 2009, Riordan practiced interior architecture and interior construction for 12 years, bringing an esteemed skillset and diverse background to home staging. Since founding Spade and Archer, he has personally prepared more than 2,100 homes for market.

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Mortgage Information Disclaimer:

Any mortgage information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon.  Please contact a lender directly to learn more about its mortgage products and eligibility for such products.  Lifelong Realty, Inc. is not a mortgage lender, but is one of the top independent and locally owned real estate firms in RVA.