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How To Modernize Your Home on a Budget



How To Modernize Your Home on a Budget

We all have spent a great deal of time in our homes over this past year. And like the rest of us, you probably spent a good chunk of time browsing your favorite real estate app. If so, it’s probably safe to say you have been inspired by looking at the interior of hundreds of houses and now you’re considering ways you can improve your own space, right? Or if you’re looking for inspiration, check out which home improvement and interior design trends can help increase home value or resale. 

Though it may be common to assume that home renovations or improvements will inevitably cost you a fortune, that isn’t always the case. If you want to learn how to modernize your home on a budget, here are 7 ways that you can affordably give your space the lift it needs.

1. Address the first impressions

Old, worn-out doors and windows can really make a property look dated. If your budget can handle it, consider replacing your windows with hardwood frames or even steel ones. If not, repainting them in a more modern shade will instantly improve the look of your home – classic yet fashionable shades such as blues, sage greens, and soft greys work wonders.

Another tip on how to modernize your home and make a world of difference is having the outside of your exterior cleaned with a pressure washer. If you live in a wet climate like Portland, OR, or Vancouver, BC, this will take years of dust, dirt, and moss off your siding and roof. It can really bring your property back to life, and even take years off its appearance.

2. Revamp your kitchen to modernize your home

A brand new kitchen could set you back thousands of dollars, but there are several clever ways to breathe new life into your kitchen without doing a full remodel. Kitchen upgrades such as repainting your cabinets and replacing the cabinet handles can easily modernize your kitchen and make it feel clean and fresh. 

You can also reface your cabinets, which is a cost-effective way of modernizing your kitchen without replacing all of your cabinetry. Basically, it’s like giving your kitchen a facelift since you’d only be swapping out your cabinet doors for new ones, giving it a fresh, clean look.

Kitchens can also easily become a place of clutter and simply tidying away the excess and focusing on minimization can make a big difference to your kitchen’s appearance and usability. The kitchen is usually the centerpiece of a home and should be at the top of the list when it comes to important areas to keep clean and tidy.

3. Give your bathroom a facelift

It’s common for people to leave bathrooms until last when it comes to making home improvements because without a full remodel, it sometimes feels as though there isn’t much of a change. There are, however, several easy superficial ways to modernize your home bathroom.

To begin, dated bathrooms often need a good, deep clean. Giving tiles and grout lines a deep clean and scrubbing limescale off the sink, bath, and toilet is the perfect start to freshening up a tired bathroom. From there, replacing accessories such as towels, mats, shower curtains, and even toilet seats can make a sizable impact. Also, you should consider re-painting any walls that may be darker in color or dated with old wallpaper. Instead apply a bright, cleaner color to your walls. All of these small changes can make a big impact on the look and feel of your bathroom. 

bath 4005 NE 57th Street Seattle WA

4. Declutter

Minimization is the way to go for a more modern look and feel, so consider modernizing your home with a major decluttering project – think minimalist. 

Make a point of not only maximizing your storage space but becoming a little picky when it comes to deciding what should stay and what should go. If an item hasn’t been used in a year and doesn’t add any value to you, toss it.

Whatever is left that you simply can’t live without, find a home for it that is out of sight. Under the stairs, in the cupboards, in the basement or attic – whatever you can do to minimize the amount of ‘stuff’ on display. Minimalist interiors tend to calm the mind and body and are certainly the more modern approach to designing a living space. If the process of decluttering your home is too much or overwhelming, consider hiring a professional declutter to help you with the project. 

5. Freshen up your walls 

Refreshing your walls with paint or wallpaper can be the best bang for your buck when it comes to affordable home improvements. But with so many different options for paint colors and wallpaper, it’s important to carefully consider color schemes.

Dark shades can leave a room feeling smaller, whilst brilliant whites everywhere can feel too cold or stark. Depending on your tastes, you may want to opt for neutral tones and soft, lighter hues that freshen up and add warmth without being too intense. If you are having trouble picking the right colors to match your space, consider reaching out to a color consultant to assist you and ensure you choose the right shades for your space. 

6. Have your floors refinished 

Floors are the foundation of your home and set the tone for your color palette and decorating style. If you want to know how to modernize your home on a budget and have hardwood flooring that has not been refinished in years, consider having your floors re-sanded and re-sealed. This project can significantly rejuvenate a room and make all the difference. 

Additionally, many homeowners don’t realize that you can change the color of hardwood flooring when you refinish your floors. You can go light, dark, and anywhere in between. So, if you are trying to modernize your house opt for textured warm or cool tones to tie your space together. 

6. Upgrade your lighting

You can transform the look and feel of your home with lighting, turning dated, dingy spaces into cozy, warm areas that feel inviting. There are so many different types of lighting to choose from, whether you want super modern pieces or more classic timeless lighting, they have it all. 

Whether it’s a pretty table lamp, some hidden spotlights, or a statement pendant light over a kitchen island, you can easily modernize your home and create a dynamic new aesthetic with some carefully considered lighting for your home.

7. Add finishing touches

Shopping around for decor such as lamps, art, rugs, and furniture can be fun, especially in today’s online world. Use your creativity and possibly the help of an interior designer to assist you in putting the finishing touches on your space and bringing your home together into a modernized, inviting space. 

You can also save money while putting the final touches of the house together by using home decor coupons, so be sure to shop around to find the best prices and look for online stores that have great deals.

With a little imagination and these tips on how to modernize your home on a budget, there is no end to the improvements you can make, so let your creativity flow and have fun with it.

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Real Estate

A Monument To Catalan Modernism Asks $5.9 Million In Barcelona



Palau de la Musica

The distinct architecture of Barcelona, with its curved shapes, floral motifs and ornamentation, is defined by its Catalan Modernism. The aesthetically pleasing style was a major force in the larger Modernisme movement, which also permeated art, theater and literature at the end of the 19th century.

This recently refurbished Modernist house is located in the area of Tibidabo Mountain, the tallest hill in Collserola Natural Park, an expansive green space within Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia.

Villa Paula, as it is known, was designed in 1912 by Spanish architect Jerome Granell Manresa. He is known for creating the stained-glass windows of Barcelona’s famed concert hall, Palau de la Música Catalana. Other examples of the stained-glass maker’s work can be found locally in the landmark Navàs House and the Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul.

Manresa’s use of sgraffito on stucco exteriors—to create contrasting color designs by scratching through the facade to reveal the layer below—remains in evidence on select residential buildings today.

The more than 8,200-square-foot home retains such original and restored Modernist features as the facade, the mosaic tilework, the high ceilings with moldings, the stained-glass windows and the Arabic-style roof crowned with green tiles. The four floors are accessed by a marble staircase and an elevator. The watchtower can serve as a guest house, an office or a studio.

The light-filled rooms have hardwood, marble or mosaic-tile floors, air-conditioning and in-floor heating. There are eight bedrooms, a conservatory, a home theater, a gym, a wine cellar and eight bathrooms.

The 10 acres of grounds contain gardens, terraces and mature trees. A gently curved staircase off the house leads to a terracotta veranda surrounding an infinity pool. A wooden deck below the pool level creates another outdoor lounging space. Views take in Barcelona and the coastline along the Mediterranean Sea. 

A two-car garage and a workshop complete the gated property.

Cristina Martinez of Immobiliaria Rimontgo is the listing agent for the estate, priced at approximately $5.93 million (EUR 4.95 million).

Villa Paula is located about five kilometers, or three miles, from Barcelona’s city center. International flights are available from Barcelona–El Prat Airport, about a 20-minute drive away.

Immobiliaria Rimontgo is a founding member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.

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Real Estate

Here’s Where Property Taxes Are The Highest And Lowest



Mansion in San Francisco

Buying a home is exciting, but it’s also a huge commitment. And one of the responsibilities of homeownership is paying real estate taxes. How much you will end up paying can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors — from how much your home is worth to where you live.

To illustrate just how much variance there is in the amount of property taxes people pay, LendingTree looked at the median amount of real estate taxes paid in each of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. In doing so, the online lending marketplace found that homeowners in some metros can expect to pay thousands of dollars more per year than homeowners in other parts of the country.

“Different county and state governments assess property value in different ways, which can contribute to why tax amounts vary so significantly across the country,” says Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree, explaining that individual areas also have different tax rates and offer different tax breaks to homeowners, which can also affect how much people are paying in real estate taxes.

Revenue generated from property taxes is generally used to fund local projects and services such as fire departments, law enforcement, local public recreation, education, street maintenance and sanitation.

The median real estate tax amount in Las Vegas — where homeowners pay the least in property taxes — is about $7,700 cheaper than in New York, where real estate taxes are highest.

Las Vegas and Birmingham, Alabama are the only two metros where median real estate taxes amount to less than $1,000 a year. The median property tax amount paid by homeowners is $696 in Las Vegas and $892 in Birmingham.

Besides New York, homeowners pay the most in property taxes in expensive cities like San Jose, California and San Francisco. The median amount paid is $8,400 in New York, $7,051 in San Jose and $6,181 in San Francisco.

“Despite these regional differences, how much homes are selling for in a given area is usually the most important factor in determining an individual home’s value, regardless of where you live,” says Kapfidze. “As a result, places where home prices are higher like New York and San Francisco are more likely to pay higher real estate taxes than other parts of the country, even adjusting for variations in tax rate or appraisal practices.”

Real estate taxes are an average of $641 lower on homes without mortgages. Because property taxes are based in large part on home value and homes without mortgages tend to be worth less than those with mortgages, it makes sense why this is the case. Nonetheless, real estate taxes on homes without a mortgage can still be pricey, especially in areas like Salt Lake City and Seattle.

“I think it’s fair to say that knowing how much you’ll pay in property taxes is about as important as knowing how much your mortgage payment will be,” says Kapfidze. “After all, both are things you have to pay in order to keep your home, and both can be significant expenses.”

Many lenders will roll your property taxes into your monthly mortgage payments, and then use that money to pay your tax bill for you when it’s due to the government.

“As a result, while you should always double check to be sure you’re paying what you owe in taxes, you might only need to keep track of one payment a month,” explains Kapfidze. “If you’ve paid off your mortgage, then you definitely have to keep a closer eye on property taxes as you’ll likely no longer be able to count on your lender to keep track of them for you.”

Here’s the LendingTree report, including the methodology, and full list of cities where real estate taxes are highest and lowest.

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Real Estate

How Digital Technology Changed The Face Of The Mortgage Industry



Focused man and woman using laptop, checking financial documents

The rise of digital technology ushered in a new era for the mortgage application process as borrowers took advantage of historically low interest rates and lenders embraced digital mortgages more than ever before.

A new survey on borrowing and lending by ICE Mortgage Technology finds that the pandemic has permanently changed the way consumers utilize technology, and those looking to buy or refinance a home are seeking lenders who offer online tools to complete their mortgage loans from home.

The overwhelming majority (90%) of lenders believe that technology can help improve the mortgage application process, citing benefits that include simplifying the entire process (74%), reducing time to close (70%) and minimizing data entry (67%).

“Last year brought our industry a perfect storm,” said Joe Tyrrell, president of ICE Mortgage Technology. “You not only had COVID, which required lenders to shift to virtual workforces, but you also had to continue to conduct business in a safe and socially distanced way with borrowers, all happening at the same time that we were experiencing a historical increase in loan volume.” 

He added, “This caused many lenders to re-evaluate their technology partners, how they were leveraging technology, the systems that they employed, and the tools that they relied on. We heard many stories from our lenders across the country that had to completely and permanently shift the way they served borrowers.”

According to the survey, the importance of lenders offering digital solutions such as online applications during the lending process increased for borrowers in 2020, with 58% saying it would likely affect their lender decision (up from 50% in 2018). While still important, the offering of a mobile app specifically was less likely to influence borrowers’ lender selection, with 47% saying availability of one would factor into their decision in 2020 (compared to 40% in 2018).

Homeowners who used an online application appreciated the simpler application process (55%), reduced time to close (53%) and resulted in fewer in-person interactions (49%).

Not surprisingly, decreased in-person interactions grew in importance in 2020, as just 37% of consumers in 2018 cited “no need to meet in person” as something they liked about their online application process. Whether they had been through the mortgage loan process or not, 64% of consumers surveyed believe that an online mortgage process would make buying a home or refinancing easier than an in-person process.

“From a borrower’s perspective, the pandemic has accelerated the demand for a consistent, digital first borrowing experience,” said Tyrrell. “Signing documents electronically is quickly becoming the minimum, and borrowers expect a seamless experience from start to finish. In 2020, many lenders cobbled together different solutions to meet borrower demands, but that often led to a more confusing, fragmented process. Covid highlighted the need for a single consistent digital experience for consumers.”

Currently, online applications and online portals are the digital tools most offered among lenders, with more than nine in 10 offering both options to borrowers (91%). Of lenders who offer online applications, 64% said more than half of all loan applications are submitted online, while 38% said more than 80% of their applications were completed online in 2020. However, traditional loan application methods may be more common at larger organizations. Half of large institutional lenders, or those with 200 or more employees, indicated that less than 50% of their loan applications were submitted online.

Borrower respondents who were offered online and/or mobile options by their lenders took advantage of those tools during the mortgage loan process. Sixty-one percent of borrowers used an online application in 2020, slightly up from 58% in 2018. Sixty-one percent also used an online portal for electronically signing and notarizing documents, compared to 56% in 2018.

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