Some of 2021’s hottest new looks reflect 1970’s taste, including natural wood finishes and seamless cabinetry without any hardware. CHICAGO – The pandemic pushed kitchens in new directions. They became a place for more than eating, thanks to Zoom calls and schoolwork. Realtor.com asked top designers to chime in on some of the hottest kitchen trends of 2021. “We’re seeing some dramatic shifts as a result of the pandemic,” Janice Costa, president and founder of KB Designers Network, says” 1. Supersized kitchen islands The island has become a focal point in the kitchen. It’s not just a place for food preparation, but also work, school and a place for households to gather. That means the bigger, the better. Many new-home floor plans incorporate larger islands into their new builds due to demand. Enlarging the kitchen island has also become a popular remodeling project since the pandemic. “Larger kitchen islands are here to stay,” Ariana Lovato, owner and principal designer of Honeycomb Home Design in Shell Beach, Calif., says. “People want to have as many workspaces as possible, with the kids now doing virtual school.” READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON FLORIDAREALTORS.ORG ...

Image: valentinrussanov, E+, Getty Images A monthly seller-sentiment index recorded a notable spike in the number of homeowners who think it’s a good time to sell – a possible sign of more future listings. WASHINGTON – Fannie Mae’s latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index, based on a survey of 1,000 consumers, suggests that more homeowners view home selling favorably. The index’s component on home-selling conditions month-to-month rose 16 percentage points on net last month. “Overall, the index’s monthly increase was driven largely by a substantial jump in the share of consumers reporting that it’s a good time to sell a home, with many citing favorable mortgage rates, high home prices and low housing inventory as their primary rationale,” says Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan. “Among owners and higher-income groups, however, the other five components of the index remained relatively flat or slightly negative, suggesting to us that some consumers are waiting to gauge the effectiveness of any new fiscal policies and vaccination distribution programs on both housing and the larger economy,” he adds. Duncan also noted that lower-income and renter groups reported more optimism in January across nearly all of the index’s components. Overall, the January index found that 57% of consumers feel it’s a good...

Curb appeal applies to the front entry, yard, driveway and sidewalk. Once your house is listed, make sure it’s always looking its best from the curb. Get in your car and drive by your own home, it will give you a fresh perspective. What’s your favorite front yard feature?  ...

PHOTO: Klaus Vedfelt, DigitalVisi, Getty Images ARTICLE: By Dara Kam, Jason Fischer How – and who – should oversee Fla. vacation rentals? The Florida Legislature has debated the topic for years, and it’s still a high priority issue for Florida Realtors. This year’s version would make Airbnb collect taxes, remit them to the state, ensure proper licensing and more. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A years-long effort to block local governments from regulating vacation rentals is on the move again, as House and Senate leaders revive a proposal to prevent cities and counties from inspecting and licensing properties offered on platforms such as Airbnb. In a 10-7 vote on Wednesday, the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee gave an initial nod to the latest iteration of the proposal (HB 219). While the legislation has morphed over the past few years, the controversy over the issue has remained consistent, and it’s a top priority for Florida Realtors heading into the 2021 session of the Florida Legislature. Read full article on www.floridarealtors.org...

Lower costs are coming for homebuyers seeking a Federal Housing Administration-insured (FHA) mortgage. FHA announced that it's cutting annual premiums for mortgage insurance from 0.85 percent to 0.60 percent, a move the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says breathes new life into the program. With FHA loans, buyers pay mortgage insurance to protect FHA's funding in exchange for downpayments as low as 3 percent. "FHA mortgage products exist to serve an important mission: providing homeownership opportunities to creditworthy borrowers who are overlooked by conventional lenders," says NAR President William E. Brown. "The high cost of mortgage insurance has unfortunately put those opportunities out of reach for many young, first-time- and lower-income borrowers. Now, we have a real opportunity to get back on track." Following the Great Recession, FHA increased its monthly mortgage insurance premium from 55 basis points to 90 basis points; then, in April 2013, it increased them again due to post-recession concerns over credit risk and the need to strengthen FHA's Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF). At the time, however, NAR research found that the overall 80 basis point increase nixed 1.45 million to 1.65 million renters out of the market. Since then, the MMIF has shown continued good health, including...

Consumer sentiment among Floridians increased slightly in November to 90.2, up four-tenths of a point from October's revised figure of 89.8, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey. This is the first reading after the national presidential election. Because the survey procedures attempt to spread out the interviews over every day of the month, around 40 percent were completed before the presidential election was decided, and 60 percent afterward. "Consumer sentiment in Florida remained stable throughout the presidential election process. Over the past year, consumer sentiment has fluctuated between a low of 88.1 and a high of 94.1, averaging 91.1 points," said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Among the five components that make up the index, two decreased and three increased. Perceptions of one's personal financial situation now compared with a year ago showed the greatest decrease this month, dropping 4.1 points from 84.8 to 80.7. This downturn is shared by all Floridians with the exception of those with incomes above $50,000. Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket item such as an appliance rose 2.5 points, from 90.3 to 92.8. "As the election approached,...

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The personal builders at Generation Homes are creating a spectacular new home in the heart of beautiful Beauclerc. The five-bedroom, three and a half bath, 3,089 square foot, two-story home is conveniently located off San Jose Boulevard at 10015 Scott Mill Road. Generation Homes’ passion is to build homes in neighborhoods for families that have lasting value - for today, tomorrow and generations to come. The home is designed for comfort and utmost livability with one of two owner’s suites on the first floor, a separate library or office, laundry room, front porch and three car garage. Many buyers prefer new-construction homes because they want to direct the details — everything from the stain on the entry foyer staircase to the layout of the chef’s kitchen cabinets. "That's the beauty of choosing a new home built by Generation Homes," said Heather Allen of Cornerstone Homes Realty. "The timing for looking at this new home is excellent. Selection of cabinets and interior finishes are still available." Priced in the $460s, the home features include pavers, spacious lanai, high, smooth finish ceilings throughout, large base boards, wood door casings and wood floors. A gorgeous and functional kitchen design is accented by granite countertops, Bosch stainless...

When it comes to credit scores, numbers – namely, your three-digit score and the amount you have to pay to access it – are all that really matter. In simpler terms, it doesn't matter what type of credit score you get – whether FICO or Vantage, for instance – or where you get it, as long as the source is reputable and you receive maximum access for minimal cost. And if you don't buy into that notion, here are four fundamental reasons why seeking out a certain type of score – or ever paying for one – is a fool's errand. 1. You're looking for a needle in a haystack. There are more than 1,000 different types of credit scores currently in use, according to Experian, and each model produces a unique result depending on which of the three major credit bureaus is supplying the underlying information. In other words, you're going to have a very hard time trying to identify the exact type of credit score a given lender will use to evaluate your application. Further complicating matters, there's no way to tell whether a given lender runs the numbers based on more than one bureau's data. And even if you somehow...