Green LivingGoing "Green" is a top homeowner trend for 2014, and one that can be very exciting to implement.

Making your home "green" essentially means you're optimizing your home to better take care of the environment.  This most often includes making efficient use of the resources your home consumes (electricity, gas, water), and cutting down on waste (kitchen garbage, wasted paper, unused resources).

Here are 10 great ways you can make your home a little greener, some courtesy of Redfin.

1. Cut down your "paper fingerprint" by online enrolling and getting off of junk mail lists

Most families receive a sizable amount of unneeded mail on a daily basis.  You can help reduce this amount of unused paper by transitioning as much as you can to digital mail.

Receiving online statements from utilities providers and your bank is a great way to start this process.  You can also opt out of unsolicited commercial mail (i.e. credit card offers, insurance offers) via the FTC webite.

2. Take off those shoes!

"Housing is stronger today than at any point since the Great Recession began and hit bottom in 2009," FreddieMac stated in a recent blog post.  Additionally, even more growth is are expected this year, with these encouraging statistics:

  • Home sales are up 13% since their low point. Home sales are expected to continue to increase in 2014 - to the tune of about 3% - while the market continues to grow.
  • Housing starts are up 50% since they bottomed out.  20% growth is expected in this aspect as well in 2014, easing tight inventories in many markets.
  • House Prices are up 16% since their trough.  Positive increases are still expected (though at a more moderate pace) in 2014.  Home value increases should increase at roughly 5% this year.

Mortgage Rates Remain Near Historically Low Levels - Though Rising

Chicago-area residents may be interested to hear that the home prices in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Bucktown are nearing the peak that they had reached in 2007.  In fact, according to Chicago Real Estate Daily, an index of single-family homes in the North Side were merely 2.5% shy of the 2007 peak.

The broader area Chicago market is looking great as well.  In fact, 2013 yielded raising prices in all 235 Chicago-area zip codes - for the first time in 7 years.

Some Chicago area neighborhoods are even topping peak prices.  In Lincoln Park, homes on Paulina, Burling, and Menominee streets are selling for even more than their peak-era prices.

Last year underwent many bidding wars, resulting in numerous properties selling for more than asking price.

Are all Chicago-area homes nearing peak levels?

What is the best long-term investment option in 2014?  According to the April Economy and Personal Finances Poll just released by Gallup, Americans believe real estate is the best option.  

Real estate tops stocks/mutual funds savings accounts/CDs, bonds, and other investment categories.  It even tops gold, which was the most popular long-term investment back in 2011.

Why is it topping the list?  With the housing market improving across the US and home prices gradually rising alongside this, investing in real estate now is a smart, if not the smartest, way to invest your money long-term.

Real Group Real Estate

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