Beaufort Food & Wine Festival

(Published on - 4/24/2017 7:29:12 PM)

Beaufort Wine and Food is gearing up for its 11th annual festival weekend, which will take place Wednesday, April 22nd through Sunday April 26th, 2015. Beaufort Wine and Food has become one of Eastern NC’s premier tourism destinations, winning many accolades along the way including being named a Top 20 Event for April 2015 by the Southeast Tourism Society.  More information is available at

4 Bathroom Fads That Turn Buyers Off

(Published on - 4/24/2017 7:21:57 PM)

4 Bathroom Fads That Turn Buyers Off

For some buyers, the bathroom is a deal breaker. So if your listing includes these fading bathroom trends, you might have a harder time selling it.® notes some fads you may want to suggest your sellers change before putting their home on the market.

How about the most popular bathroom trends for 2017?

All-white bathrooms: They're tough to keep clean, so this trend is definitely reaching its end. "White tile and flooring can stain very easily, and any little mark glares at you from across the room, tainting the crisp, clean concept of an all-white look," says Tonya Bruin, CEO of Canada-based To Do-Done Handyman Services. "I have so many homeowners coming to me now to ask for these white baths to be torn out and replaced with a more varied color design." To offset an all-white look without a complete overhaul, paint one wall a different color or add colored towels and a bath mat, Bruin suggests.

Too many funky colors: However, you don't want to be too bold with your color scheme. Mustard, salmon, and avocado, for example, aren’t the most desirable colors in a bathroom. "Colors like these tend to look tacky and make your bathroom feel like it's stuck in the 1980s," says Scott Allis with Miracle Method, a bath and kitchen refinishing company. Go for a more muted palette for your listing, such as a mix of three colors in a 70/20/10 distribution. "Use the most neutral color for 70 percent of the walls, floor, and tile, a rich contrasting color for 20 percent of the look, and then an accent shade for the last 10 percent," says Bee Heinemann, an interior design expert at Vant Wall Panels.

A big bathtub: Design magazines may celebrate the luxurious standalone bathtub in the center of a bathroom, but it doesn't always work in reality. "This elaborate, oversized fixture is far from practical and actually has low resale value," Heinemann says. Bathtubs are used less often than showers, and if there's at least one bathtub in the home, there's no need to spotlight one in another bathroom. For bathroom remodels, designers recommend investing in a quality water-saving shower.

Subway tile and nickel finishes: Subway tile and cool finishes such as nickel and chrome are on their way out, designers say. Instead, "large format tile is a good way to go, as are mini mosaics and geometric tiles," says Nicole Rojas, a designer with Tellus Design in Southern California. Also, brushed gold and even black finishes are gaining popularity. "The silhouette is still clean and streamlined," adds Bea Pila, author of Sacred Spaces for Inspired Living. "But these newer tones add an element of modernity and sophistication."

Source: “7 Bathroom Design Trends Home Buyers Want to Flush Away,”® (April 19, 2017)

10 States With Highest Property Tax Rates

(Published on - 4/6/2017 6:40:26 PM)

10 States With Highest Property Tax Rates

The average annual property tax in the U.S. was $3,296 in 2016, with an effective tax rate of 1.15 percent, according to a new report released by ATTOM Data Solutions. The report encompasses a 2016 property tax analysis of more than 84 million single-family homes.

Read more: How You Can Address Your Clients' Property Tax Concerns

The effective tax rate, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, is the average annual property tax expressed as a percentage of the average estimated market value of homes in a geographic area. ATTOM Data Solutions identified the following 10 states as having the highest effective property tax rates in 2016:

  1. New Jersey: 2.31 percent
  2. Illinois: 2.13 percent
  3. Texas: 2.06 percent
  4. New Hampshire: 2.03 percent
  5. Vermont: 2.02 percent
  6. Connecticut: 2 percent
  7. Pennsylvania: 1.89 percent
  8. New York: 1.88 percent
  9. Ohio: 1.68 percent
  10. Rhode Island: 1.64 percent

"Ohio, in recent history, has among the highest average property taxes in the nation, even though housing is among the most affordable," says Matthew Watercutter, senior regional vice president and broker of record for HER, REALTORS®, in Dayton, Ohio. "Typically, the more populated urban and suburban counties have a higher effective tax rate than their more rural counterparts. This issue affects the affordability of housing, as property taxes do affect the ratios for potential buyers. By continually raising property taxes to support schools, as well as other infrastructure in lieu of other funding sources such as sales tax—which generates revenues from property owners as well as non-property owners—property taxes limit a buyer's ability to purchase as well as the property's ability to appreciate in value."

Among the 217 metro areas with populations of at least 200,000, ATTOM Data Solutions reported these areas as having the highest effective property tax rates:

  1. Binghamton, N.Y.: 3.10 percent
  2. Rochester, N.Y.: 2.99 percent
  3. Rockford, Ill.: 2.96 percent
  4. Atlantic City, N.J.: 2.77 percent
  5. Syracuse, N.Y.: 2.67 percent


The Most Irish City in America

(Published on - 3/17/2017 6:38:30 PM)

The Most Irish City in America

About 32.7 million Americans—or 10.2 percent of the U.S. population—claimed Irish ancestry in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, do you know which U.S. city is the most Irish of all?® researchers scoured the data in the 300 largest U.S. cities to find the percentage of Irish-Americans living there.

New England boasts the most Irish descendants in the nation, with Manchester, N.H., leading the pack. Nearly one in five residents living in Manchester claim Irish heritage.® flagged the following cities as the Irish epicenters of the U.S. (based on the percentage of the population claiming an Irish ancestry):

  1. Manchester, N.H.: 19.4%
  2. Lowell, Mass.: 17%
  3. Pittsburgh, Pa.: 16.2%
  4. Naperville, Ill.: 15.9%
  5. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: 15.4%
  6. Worcester, Mass.: 15%
  7. Centennial/Highlands Ranch, Colo.: 14.8%

Source: “Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day? Here Are the 10 Most Irish Cities in America,”® (March 16, 2017)



HUD Programs Trump's Budget Would Cut

(Published on - 3/17/2017 6:37:02 PM)

HUD Programs Trump's Budget Would Cut

The Department of Housing and Urban Development would see its funding drop by 13 percent under President Donald Trump's fiscal 2018 budget proposal. The cuts, combined with others elsewhere in the federal government's discretionary budget, would offset proposed increases in defense and homeland security funding, including an increase of $54 billion for Department of Defense programs. The proposal, Trump said, "follows through on my promise to focus on keeping Americans safe."

Trump's proposal is only the first step in a long process for setting the federal budget, and it identifies the priorities of his administration. But ultimate responsibility for passing the budget rests on Congress, which can incorporate all, some, or none of the Trump administration's suggestions in the final budget. So far, many members of Congress—including many Republicans—have expressed concern that the proposed cuts go too far.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said proposed cuts to community development grants are especially troubling because the funds are vital to many rural districts around the country. "I am optimistic that we can work with the administration to responsibly fund the federal government, including those agencies which serve as vital economic lifelines in rural parts of the country that are still working to overcome substantial challenges," he said.

The National Association of REALTORS® is looking carefully at the proposal, for which details will be released in May.

What Would Be Eliminated

Under a summary provided by the administration, HUD's budget will total $40.7 billion in fiscal year 2018, down from $46.9 billion this fiscal year. Here's what's on the chopping block.

  • Community Development Block Grants would be the biggest casualty of the cuts. The program, which was created in the mid-1970s to provide funding to states and localities for a wide range of uses, including property acquisition, infrastructure development, and new affordable housing, would be completely eliminated. "The federal government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results," the administration's budget summary says. "The budget devolves community and economic development activities to the state and local level, and redirects federal resources to other activities." The program is funded at $3 billion this fiscal year.
  • In addition, funding would be eliminated for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a block grant program targeted exclusively to housing projects, as well as Choice Neighborhoods, which provides money to fix up distressed neighborhoods where there is publicly assisted housing, and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, which helps nonprofits buy land or improve streets as part of an affordable homeownership effort. The budget summary notes that HUD already maintains support for homeownership through mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. It does not detail any proposed changes to federally insured mortgage programs through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Rural Housing Service.
  • In a change to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would be important to NAR, the budget would eliminate the Flood Hazard Mapping Program to save the federal government $190 million. In its place, FEMA would be directed to instead "explore other more effective and fair means of funding flood mapping efforts." In addition, user fees under the National Flood Insurance Program would be restructured "to ensure that the cost of government services is not subsidized by taxpayers who do not directly benefit from those programs."
  • One item that would stay: A program for lead-based paint removal and abatement would actually see a modest funding increase of $20 million to $130 million, which would contribute to "lower healthcare costs and increased productivity," according to the budget summary.

More will be known once the administration releases its detailed budget proposal in May. Read the White House summary.

—Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine