The kitchen can be the heart of the home.  Here's how to design your kitchen to be an inviting, functional, and appealing space, according to Ty Pennington.

Knock it down and open it up

Sometimes less is more, but not when it comes to space.  Too many cabinets or big, bulky appliances can make a kitchen feel very cramped indeed.  When undergoing a remodel, consider a redesign of where your cabinets are placed, or adding an open doorway from the kitchen to the dining room - or knocking down that wall altogether!

Pick your focal point

Mortgage credit availability is the greatest that it has been in three years, according to Market Watch.  The standards are likely to continue to loosen in 2014 from stringent post-crisis criteria while banks are continuing to adjust to new rules and increase home-loan revenue.

A gauge from the Mortgage Banker's Association tracked an increase of mortgage credit availability to 114 in March - up from 113.5 in the prior month.  This is the highest reading in a the series's three-year history.  March of 2012 was, in comparison, at 100.

March's credit gauge is, nonetheless, far below the MBA's estimate in 2007 for a level of 800.

Is availability equal for all buyers?

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

Real Group Real Estate

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