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Nearly 2 million homeowners no longer 'seriously' underwater on their mortgages

Surging home prices have helped nearly two million homeowners get back above water on their mortgages over the past year.

During the first quarter, 9.1 million, or 17%, of homeowners were seriously underwater on their home, meaning their debt exceeded the home's value by 25% or more, according to RealtyTrac. That's down from 10.9 million, or 26%, of all properties a year earlier. States with the highest percentage of seriously underwater homes included Nevada, Florida and Illinois. Read full article at CNN
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Your Guide to a Smooth-Running Construction Project

Imagine walking into your newly built or remodeled home and seeing it exactly as you had imagined it at the start of construction: the windows are all in the right places, the flooring is the right color, and the kitchen cabinets are a perfect fit.

Now allow me to pinch you on the arm, because for most people, reality is often different from that idyllic scenario. You might see missing trim around the bedroom doors or wonder why that small change in the kitchen cost so much. Looking back, you might ask, “And why did we have to hire another subcontractor to finish the bathroom?”

Of course, there are things you just can’t plan for, but there’s plenty that you can. Costly changes and additional time-consuming work can be kept to a minimum if you fully understand what you are building before you start. By understanding the construction process, being part of the team and keeping a firm grip on the budget, your construction project can result in the home of your dreams.

Read the full article at Houzz.com

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5 Things Everyone Over 55 Should Do In Orlando

Retirement demands the most comfortable location for living and relaxing. Orlando, Florida is considered one of the top places people 55+ tend to move to for their retirement. But what is it about Orlando that is so appealing to this group of people? The climate? Perhaps the attractions? Orlando offers so much for both retired and younger people to do to maintain an Active Lifestyle.
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Help The Earth!

So, I am going out on a limb with this post (almost literally) and am going to introduce you to a new way of living called "up-cycling"! Up-cycling is taking something old and non-useful, and finding a new purpose in this life. This could be anything as simple as turning an old pair of jeans into a new throw-pillow, or taking your husband's old toolbox, and giving three baby blue-jays a new home. Imagination is key to this concept, but, it is honestly one of the easiest, Eco-friendliest, and cost-effective method of getting that perfect motif on the outside of your home. If you are a crafty person with a love for the unusual, check out these few links I have found, I think you will really appreciate them! living.msn.com www.curbly.com www.theshabbycreekcottage.com  
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Putting the Recession in the Rearview: Home Values at or Near Peak Levels in 1,000+ US Cities

Home values in more than 1,000 cities and towns nationwide either already are, or soon will be, more expensive than ever, erasing any losses in value experienced during the recession, according to Zillow.

U.S. home values climbed 5.7 percent year-over year in the first quarter, to a Zillow Home Value Index of $169,800. National home values have climbed year-over-year for 21 consecutive months, a steady march upward that has helped put the housing recession almost entirely in the rearview mirror in 1,080 of the more than 8,700 cities and towns covered by Zillow. In these areas, home values are already at or expected to reach pre-recession levels in the next year, including in many hard-hit areas. Among the 6,781 cities and towns covered by Zillow that experienced home value declines of 10 percent or more during the recession, values in 527 have either fully recovered or are expected to recover fully by the first quarter of 2015. Read full article at Zillow
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Preparing Your Florida Home For Spring

We've all heard it, "April Showers bring May Flowers".

Well here we are, smack dab in the middle of April, in what is usually sunny Florida. On the bright side, every storm runs out of rain eventually, leaving a beautiful rainbow and blooming life in its wake. But, what about your home? Have you prepared for the gallons of water that will be dumped upon your house this Spring? In his article "Preparing Your Home For Spring", Andrew Penner mentions a few aspects of your home to take an extra look at.
  1.  Gutters
  2.  Wood Trim and Caulking Around Windows, Doors, Railings, and Decks
  3.  Roof Shingles, Flashing, and Caulking
  4.  Outside Faucets
  5.  Clean and Service Outside A/C System
As a homeowner, you probably already know that there are many more maintenance jobs that your home will require over the years. Hiring maintenance crews to do your "dirty work" (literally) for you can get pricey. There are many do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that can be done inexpensively, and you can even get the entire family involved. For ideas and inspiration, check out my Pinterest page or visit one of the many home improvement stores in your area like HomeDepot.com or Lowes.com
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5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Where to Retire

Are you facing retirement soon? Are you trying to decide between staying near family or choosing real estate in Central Florida, or elsewhere? Should you sell the home you are currently in to give yourself some freedom? You have a lot to consider when it comes to making a decision. The five questions below are great ones to ponder if you are considering a move.

First, how far are you willing to move?

Making a move of any kind is both exciting and challenging for any person, especially those past the age of retirement. It is important to consider just how far you are willing to move. Are you ready for a big change?

Second, where have you always wanted to live?

What's your dream? Is the Florida sunshine where you have always wanted to spend your retirement? Or do you love the changing seasons? Do you want a home by the ocean? Or is a golf community the priority? How do you want to spend your days?

Third, how close do you want to be to your loved ones?

If you decide to make a long distance move, it might mean having a substantial distance between you and some of your loved ones. This can be refreshing! But it can also be a challenge. Are you willing to put distance between yourself and your children or grandchildren? Would you like to divide your year and live in two places?

Fourth, how much money are you able to spend?

Once you have decided where you want to live, it is time to determine just how much you can afford to spend. This needs to be decided before you can start to find a place to live. Work on your budget and determine just how much you will be able to use toward this move and toward your future home. If you are moving away from family, remember to include money in your budget for going back to visit them.

Fifth, do you want to own or rent?

This is something that needs to be considered carefully. When you move, do you want to get into a condo or apartment, or would you rather own a little home of your own? Do you want the responsibility and freedom of a home, or do you want to relax in a maintenance-free place?
Take your time to answer these questions, decide where to retire. Then take the leap and make every day count wherever you are!
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Spring Cleaning: Tips To De-Clutter Your Life For A Fresh Start

As baby birds are hatching, the bees are buzzing, and the flowers are blooming, something inside of us is going to emerge as well...stress! We live in a "go, go, go" world, having little time to get done what needs to be done, let alone stopping to smell the roses. Yet, we always seem to be on the hunt for "relaxing" or "stress-relieving" methods, which, ironically, can be done with something as simple as stopping to smell the roses. Clear schedule, clear mind. Simple. Trick: Suss Out Time Sucks. First off, what? Time sucks are hours, minutes, or even seconds in your day that you are not using in a beneficial manner. Challenge: For one week, take 30 minutes at the end of your day to look back on your past 16 hours or so (from when you wake, to when you lie down), and write down everything you did for that day. You will soon realize how much of your time is wasted each day on social media, television, and other mind-numbing tasks, that you could be being productive. What's trash, is trash. Clear your clutter. Trick: Differentiate between Treasure and Toss-Able. The costume jewelry that your grandmother left you? Treasure. The Lisa Frank diary from 2nd grade, with poorly drawn unicorns and "I love Johnny" written all over? Toss-Able. Some items may seem like they hold tremendous value, but in all actuality, you don't need it to remember all the good times that went with it. Challenge: Take this scenario as a starting point. Lightning hit a tree in your yard, causing a fire, creating an enormous monster of fire and rage, leaving nothing in its wake, including your house. Thanks to amazing insurance and the support of your community, you are in a new home in no time. Now, what are the first things you will buy, apart from the necessities like clothes and a bed? These are the items will be the "Treasure".  All else that does not fit will be the "Toss-Able". Clear your mind. Trick: Control only what is possible. This one is pretty self-explanatory. You can only do what you can do, no more, no less. So why worry about things that are not even possible? It is a negative attribute that each and every one of us has, and we need to learn to let go of will not be, and focus on what will. Challenge (Hint-it involves more writing): After you have written down all that you have done in your waking moments for the day, take the next five minutes to write down everything that you worried about that day as well. You will be shocked by two things:
  1. Just how many things you worry about in a given day
  2. How many of those things are completely irrational, and  only cause more stress
Visually seeing what it is that worries you may help with that worry, yes, but it is also going to help you stop stressing over the little things in your life that you have no control over, and consequently, freeing your mind of excess negativity. View the full article on spring cleaning your life on www.huffingtonpost.com!