Save Energy Around the Home [Infographic]


Here is how much you energy you can save in each room around your house with just one simple upgrade. When you save energy around the home, it saves money for the household, as well!

save energy around the home


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2014 4th Quarter Market Report: Too Many Buyers with No Where to Go


The fourth quarter of 2014 saw a significant jump in buyers over sellers. Leading into the fall, the buyer/seller ratio was about even, but seller activity dropped to end the year. On the surface this looks like it would be a good thing for sellers, but tight inventory appears to have lead buyers to the decision to just keep house hunting into 2015. Both buyer and seller activity stalled a bit in the last quarter, but nothing alarming given the time of the year. Below is the complete 2014 4th Quarter Market Report!
2014 4th Quarter Market Report

2014 4th Quarter Market Report

Home Prices

According to the most recent Current Market Conditions national grass roots survey conducted by, home prices continue to rise in most areas of the country. 89% of communities surveyed saw price appreciation year over year. This is exactly the same as the report from last quarter, but less than the 4th quarter in 2013 which saw 91% of agents reporting price appreciation. 8% of communities say home prices have actually gone down since last year, which is a slight increase from last year’s 6%.

Most of those markets saw over 10% price appreciation since last year; 36% of markets saw price appreciation in that window. 26% of markets saw 0-5% appreciation and 27% saw price increases in the 5-10% window. 3% of communities remain unchanged since last year and only 8% have actually decreased in value.
In terms of home price, HouseHunt agents saw greater appreciation in 2014 than projected by the National Association of Realtors.

The end of the calendar year saw more sellers settling for less than 95% of their asking price.
This is surprising because there are so many more buyers on the market than sellers. However, this trend is common for the winter months, a traditionally slow time for the housing market. Those who have their homes on the market are usually trying to move under a deadline and are often willing to wiggle on the price more than in the flexible summer months.

  • 89% of markets saw price appreciation year-over-year; consistent with last quarter, down slightly from 91% last year.
  • 40% of markets indicated that average time for a home on the market has increased from last year, compared to 36% last quarter and 20% last year.
  • 44% of markets report that the time a house sits on the market is decreasing, while 16% report that time on the market is unchanged.
  • 15% of agents surveyed saw more new foreclosure and short sale listings. This is 2% more than last quarter, but down from 20% this time last year.
  • 56% of listing agents said their listings sat on the market for 0-60 days. This is down from 63% last quarter and 57% last year.

The third quarter saw steady growth in new construction and housing inventory. That positive growth has continued; 44% of markets report a good supply of houses. This is up 39% from the previous quarter and 32% from last year. This number may decrease when the large number of buyers on the market actually begins closing on properties, but it is still lower than the historic average.

Buyer v. Seller Activity

Last quarter, the buyer to seller ratio was about even. In the final quarter of 2014, we saw buyer presence drastically pick up, even though buyer activity actually dropped. 50% of agents surveyed reported more buyers on the market than sellers. This is an 11% jump over last quarter, but is in sync with what usually happens in the last quarter of the year. 2013 ended with 51% communities reporting more buyers than sellers.

Only 24% of communities surveyed reported even buyer to seller ratio.

So what did those buyers look like? First-time buyer activity picked up to make up 24% of agent’s buyer clientele. This far surpassed the FTHB rate from the previous quarter (16%), and even the rate from the same time last year (22%).

Considering a nationwide concern that first-time buyers were largely disappearing, this uptick is welcome news. The trend is due in part to historic low interest rates. The first-time home buyer rate is still lower than the historic average of 40%. The percentage of repeat buyers and investors dropped to 76%.

What’s concerning is not the buyer presence in the market right now so much as the buyer activity. There is a general slow-down in market activity in general, which is normal for the end of the calendar year. The slow-down is more noticeable in buyers though, which indicates that even though a lot of people are looking for homes right now, few are actually pulling the trigger and purchasing.


This lack of buyer activity is most likely attributed to buyers in flexible living situations. They are not pressured to close on a home under a certain deadline. Instead, they are likely living with parents, in month-by-month rentals, or are waiting to sell their own property. This is most evidenced by the increase in first-time buyers, as well as the decrease in seller activity.

  • Buyer activity is increasing in 48% of the markets this quarter compared to 39% last quarter and 56% last year.
  • Seller activity increased in 37% of the markets surveyed, compared to 59% last quarter and 44% this time last year. This indicates sellers had a particularly weak season.
  • 33% of markets reported a decrease in buyer activity, while 19% reported no change.
  • 37% of markets reported a decrease in seller activity, while 26% reported no change.


HouseHunt’s Quarterly Comparison Chart For the U.S. | 4th Quarter 2014 Results in Red

2012 2013 2014
Quarter 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Buyer-Seller Ratio
More Buyers 58% 64% 76% 67% 57% 51% 61% 54% 39% 50%
More Sellers 21% 15% 10% 17% 26% 21% 19% 24% 37% 26%
About Even 21% 21% 14% 16% 17% 28% 20% 22% 24% 24%
Average Days On Market
0-60 Days 39% 40% 46% 65% 65% 57% 60% 63% 63% 56%
Sold in 60 Days Plus 61% 60% 54% 35% 35% 43% 40% 37% 37% 44%
Unsold Inventory
Good Supply 47% 34% 29% 24% 26% 32% 24% 28% 39% 44%
Tight Supply 53% 66% 71% 76% 74% 68% 76% 72% 61% 56%
Annual Price Appreciation
Up 0-5% 29% 35% 33% 21% 18% 29% 24% 27% 26% 26%
Up 5-10% 19% 16% 21% 24% 17% 31% 26% 29% 38% 27%
Up 10% Plus 6% 18% 29% 43% 54% 31% 42% 37% 25% 36%
Unchanged 18% 9% 7% 6% 5% 3% 3% 3% 4% 3%
Negative Appreciation 28% 22% 10% 6% 6% 6% 5% 4% 7% 8%
Buyer Activity
Repeat / Move UP / Investors 67% 73% 74% 81% 85% 78% 79% 77% 84% 76%
First-time Buyers 23% 27% 26% 19% 15% 22% 21% 23% 16% 24%
Ask vs. Sale Price
Less Than 95% 38% 37% 31% 30% 23% 30% 23% 9% 22% 28%
More Than 95% 62% 63% 69% 70% 77% 70% 77% 91% 78% 72%
Multiple Offers?
Yes 76% 77% 87% 88% 91% 87% 83% 86% 83% 76%
No 24% 23% 13% 12% 9% 13% 17% 14% 17% 24%


In Conclusion

Consumer confidence has continued to steadily improve in the housing market. This is most evidenced by the sudden first-time buyer activity and the patience of buyers to wait for the right home to become available. This buyer confidence is due to the lowest unemployment rate in many years, as well as historic low interest rates.

The boost in the economy has given buyers more patience, but has also made sellers more stubborn. Home prices have continued to increase, even if slightly more people are having to settle for less than asking. When the overall economy is strong, there is less reason to buy or sell with any compromises. We can expect this stand-still to be short lived as buyer and seller activity will increase in the first quarter of 2015 with the approach of spring.

Home prices grew in 2014 and are expected to continue at a similar rate throughout 2015. NAR economist Lawrence Yun expects a 5% increase in home prices and 7% increase in home sales, saying, “There is a pent up market for home sales” after the stall at the end of 2014. Overall, 2014 was a strong year and gives excited expectations for further growth in the next calendar year.
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Tiny House Movement: A Solution to Homelessness?


Micro-living, or, the tiny house movement, has been sweeping the nation. Homeowners trying to leave a minimal carbon footprint have build and purchased small houses designed to meet all their basic needs without any of the excess. In the midst of the fashionable trend, another practical purpose in the movement has revealed itself. Is it possible that these tiny homes could be the key to eradicating homelessness?

tiny-house-movement 1


Tiny house villages are popping up across the country. These villages aren’t just a collection of people who have drank the micro-living kool-aid; these are assemblies of people who are in tiny houses to help give them the boost they need to get back on their feet.

Homeless communities are assembling in tiny house villages share in common both goals and kitchen spaces. To understand this new trend, it’s important to look back at the nationwide movements that led to this.

The first idea that lent itself to the Tiny House Village concept is the Tent City idea that began all the way back in the Great Depression. Groups of homeless would gather with their tents and sleeping bags in unused city lots, by rivers, or wherever else they could safely gather for an extended period of time. This movement picked up again after the housing crash in 2007, and was simulated for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The latter influence is the Tiny House movement. 2014 saw record awareness of the micro-living concept, with everything from an award-winning documentary to breakout blogs and books. The homes are usually less than 500 square feet, and developed primarily as a counter-culture concept to avoid ridiculous real estate costs and ecological excesses.

The combination of these two ideas allowed for homeless groups to gather for safety and community in numbers, while still giving individual residents the privacy of their own space to sleep and spiritually and mentally center.

Tiny houses are quickly becoming the only option for lower-class Americans who don’t want to sleep under a bridge every night. The idea of single room occupancy housing, similar to a boarding house – has all but died off because construction on new homes exists solely for the middle class expectations. Most of the country would turn their noses at the idea of shared kitchens or bathrooms, so such housing simply isn’t built anymore.

Other cheap-but-permanent housing options are also becoming unaffordable (or simply impractical) due to federal regulations on building structures. Tiny houses however, since they are not founded into the ground, exempt themselves from most of the government regulations.

TINY house movement opportunity village

How They Operate

Sometimes a charitable company or a non-profit will found and monitor tiny house villages, but it’s becoming more common than not for the communities to be completely self-governed by the homeless residents themselves. This precedent was set by successful communities like Dignity Village, just outside of Portland, OR. This self-governed operation keeps tiny house villages from turning into Hoovervilles.

The villages all have certain expectations for the residents and standards for the community. There is usually a small rent that has to be paid for a spot on the lot, usually around $25 a month. The residents often have to be on lists for permanent housing and government aid, to show proof that they’re trying to find more fiscally responsible solutions to their living situations. They’re usually required to be actively working, not just looking for work. Whether it’s construction or a part-time gig, they have to have some sort of income while they look for whatever is next.

There are many other regulations that vary from village to village. The idea behind each stipulation is that it will create a revolving door atmosphere in the community, where there is a proven track record of people finding success through the stability of the tiny house neighborhoods.

Some of these micro living villages look like scrap yards. They are filled with shacks, all thrown together to accommodate the number of residences. These serve all the functions of giving individuals privacy and space, while keeping costs and regulations low to be manageable for whatever circumstances.

Other villages – with a few more regulations – look like a Desperate Housewife’s dream come true. The tiny houses are evenly spaced, with micro-front porches and small, green lawns. They just happen to be on along the fence of an industrial factory or in an area prone to flooding.

TINY house movement Quixote Village

Do They Work?

Andrew Heben is the founder of the blog, Tent City Urbanism, and authored a book by the same name. The content is all about micro living in big metros. Heben has been studying the trend for years, and says that these villages are not just a passing trend. “They’re an early example of something that’s coming,” as environmental and economic concerns are forcing Americans to reevaluate their cost of living. “People see that a lot of us will be living like this in the future.”

The micro living movement has been growing. And the whole time, advocates for the concept have been saying the lifestyle will go from fashionable to commonplace – and even necessary. With each passing month, the idea has proven more and more accurate.

In this light, tiny houses are not just a way to alleviate homelessness – they are a way to prevent homelessness.

So are tiny houses actually effective in getting struggling Americans back on their feet? Success stories at the existing villages have proven that the reduced fear and stress that comes with homelessness will indeed lead to better chances of finding permanent employment and eventually housing.

Even just having an actual physical address to print on job applications can make a world of different in the career search.

These tiny house villages provide a home base for people that wouldn’t otherwise have one. They serve as a reset button for people who have stumbled upon hard times.

The success rates are obviously not 100% for these communities. The natures of the villages attracts a lot of the handicaps that are unfortunately associated with homelessness. There is a high population of individuals with mental illness in these villages, as well as other things that hold people back from success in different fields. This is not a problem so much with the tiny house movement, but with the homelessness crisis in general.

There is also the issue that many metros with the biggest homeless populations simply lack the ability to host a tiny house village. When the cost of land is too high, the low cost of housing doesn’t make much of a difference. Areas like New York and Silicon Valley simply don’t lend themselves to this modern tent community.

There are many big cities, however, with tiny house villages just outside the city borders. Los Angeles may not have many villages, but surrounding areas like Ventura and Santa Clarita have a strong presence. If you’re interested in a map of all the recorded tiny house villages, click here.

TINY house movement communal yurt

The Big Picture

2014 was a great year for tiny homes and the micro living movement. Luckily, this doesn’t appear to be a trend that’s going away with the calendar year. It’s a growing movement that is gaining momentum as more and more practical implications come to light. The idea was popularized for its ecological and economic implications, but now it will clearly play a pivotal role in a global issue that plays a role in all aspects of the human race.

More and more people believe the tiny house movement is the future. This new facet of the revolution could be its most significant contribution yet. The purpose of real estate is the same now as it ever was; real estate provides shelter, security, and a sense of accomplishment. The appearance of real estate, however, is evolving in new and exciting ways to include everyone for the betterment of our ultimate home – this planet and each other.

To Read More About the Tiny House Movement:

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Treasure Map to Home: Financially Ready to Buy a House


Real estate is likely the biggest investment you’ll ever make, but it shouldn’t have to break the bank. This infographic shows how to make financially responsible decisions in the home-buying process. If you’re financially ready to buy a house, you can have a mortgage and still protect your booty!



1. Save Money

Orient yourself by saving 10% of every paycheck for a house before you start the buying process.

2. Budget

A budget based on income and savings will be your anchor. If possible, pay all cash for real estate.

3. Get Pre-Approved

If you can’t pay cash, find a lender to approve a loan. A 15-year mortgage is more responsible than a 30-year.

4. Find an Agent

Hire someone you can trust and who understands your financial limits.

5. House Hunt

Finally, the fun part! Stay under budget to leave room for closing costs, repairs, etc.

6. Make an Offer

Keep in mind, your down payment should be at least 20% of the cost of the home.

7. Inspections 

You don’t want to purchase a treasure that turns out to be cursed!

8. Insurance

Protecting your new treasure may cost a pretty penny, but it could save a fortune down the road.

This infographic inspired by Dave Ramsey Financial Freedom teachings.

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6 DIY Oscar Party Ideas


The Academy Awards – taking place Sunday, February 22 – are an elegant night to honor excellence in cinema. They’re also an excuse to throw a party and drink wine and champagne! Here are some creative DIY projects to help you throw the perfect Oscar party! These ideas were accumulated from around the web and feature links to blogs with more details about the project.


 1. Paparazzi and Red Carpet

Roll out the red carpet – literally – on the way into the house. Even if it’s just a long strip of cloth, people will feel like Hollywood royalty. Up your game even farther by using craft paper to cut out silhouettes of paparazzi to line the hallways on the way in.

oscar party 1


Picture Courtesy of:


2. A-List Popcorn Bar

Popcorn is the official snack of cinemas across the world. For a night as glamorous as the Oscars, it’s only right that you amplify the popcorn bar to include every type of variation on the classic possible. Have some caramel corn, kettle corn, butter and salt. Throw in some peanuts, M&Ms, ranch seasoning, and whatever else someone may want to do to achieve that gourmet snack!

Oscar Party 2

My Boys and Their Toys Blog

For more inspiration, visit:


3. Tuxedo Champagne Glass

Your Oscar party needs classy beverages, and they should be served in equally elegant glasses. Dazzle your friends with champagne glasses in little tuxedos.

Oscar Party 3

For a step-by-step instructions on how to make these festive glasses, visit:


4. Oscars Photo Booth 

Since you’ve already provided red carpet paparazzi, be sure to snap some fabulous photos of your guests with a festive photo booth. Include props of decadence such as bowties, monocles, and more!

TheManicMoose Etsy

TheManicMoose Etsy

For more ideas on what to include, check out:


5. Predictions Ballot

No Oscar party is complete without ballots for each attendee to share their hopes and predictions. Be sure to have a prize ready (see #6) for whoever guesses the most categories correctly.

oscar party 5

Download this year’s printable ballot from Fandango:


6. Homemade Oscar Statues

These silly gifts make a great party favor or Oscar predicitions prize. You’ll need time to prepare, so paint those Ken dolls with a few days to spare. Mount them on coasters or some other kind of platform with super glue.

DIY Candy

DIY Candy

To learn more about this silly prize, visit:


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