‘Fixer Upper’: Is This The Best Home Show, And The Best Marriage, On TV?

‘Fixer Upper’: Is This The Best Home Show, And The Best Marriage, On TV?

From Yahoo TV 4/27/16

There are a ton of home-improvement shows on cable television, but none of them possess the amount of charm, humor, and how-to details of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines are a Waco, Texas-based couple who’ve developed a large following for the selection, rehabbing, and decoration of homes for new buyers. That’s the show’s premise, which not much different from what you can see on Flip or Flop, Property Brothers, and that colossus of the home-improvement genre, the series that comforts millions of lonely insomniacs everywhere, House Hunters.

But what Fixer Upper really has going for it are Chip and Joanna. He’s the Texas boy who likes football and bashing sheet-rock with a sledgehammer; she’s the savvy business-woman/interior designer who can sweet-talk home-buyers into coughing up a few extra thousand dollars to make that dream home a reality.
“We take the worst home in the best neighborhood and we turn it into into our client’s dream home,” Chip chirps in the intro to every episode of FU. The show follows the genre’s standard format: The buyers are shown three houses, they pick one; Chip starts his renovation while Joanna goes to antique stores and snaps up suitable items; then there’s the big reveal: the transformed home presented to the gasping, delighted clients.

What distinguishes Fixer Upper is the personalities. Joanna and Chip embody the idealized fantasy of a great marriage — they live and parent together (they have four young children), they work together, and they seem perennially besotted with each other. Normally the most tedious parts of home shows are the interstitial two-shots where the hosts just stand there and describe what needs to be done next on the house; on FU, these usually-tedious scenes have become the golden moments that fans savor. As Chip and Joanna look into the camera and talk, one usually has an arm slung over the other’s shoulder. Chip will stop Joanna in mid-sentence and reach other to flick something away from her upper lip, saying casually, “You’ve got some asbestos in your mustache there.” She ribs him about being a show-off who likes to juggle nail-guns; he acts mock-appalled at the amount of time she spends rooting around in antique stores. (My favorite moment during one of the fan-favorite outtakes is when Chip folds back a t-shirt sleeve to joke about his biceps and we see a band-aid on his upper arm. “Your heroin-shot is showing,” remarks Joanna drily.)

Online, there is endless speculation about the pair, including frequent questions about Joanna’s ethnicity, with many viewers certain she’s at least part-Native American. She has responded this way: “I love hearing all the guesses. Although I did play Pocahontas in high school, I am not Native American. My father is half-Lebanese, half-German, and my mother is full Korean.” As for Chip, he’s all-goofball: “I just wanna break stuff,” he says frequently, and a high point of every episode is what he invariably, and lustily, calls “Demo Day,” wherein he gets to demolish things, grunting happily while yanking gross bathroom sinks from trembling walls, pulling down posts supporting a dowdy porches that need to go.

The subliminal appeal of FU is its version of good old American values and workmanship — the spectacle of watching people labor with their hands, of creating something lovely for clients who have Waco-area budgets that seem fairly reasonable, if not downright cheap, especially to those viewers who may live in big urban areas. My own taste doesn’t align with Joanna’s: She goes pretty consistently with Southwestern chic that can be repetitive, and when it comes to items that add character to a room, I use books for reading, not as bought-in-bulk shelf decoration. I had no idea what “shiplap” was before watching FU (it’s a kind of rough-sawn wood she favors for its lived-in look) but I do know she uses too much of it. And her regular idea of “distressing and antiquing” a piece of furniture such as a dining-room table — well, I’d prefer to find a real antique than create a faux one.

But such quibbles melt away when you’re in thrall to the Gaines’ fixed-up magic. Fixer Upper recently wrapped up its third season, but reruns are shown regularly throughout HGTV’s weekly schedule, and Joanna recently tweeted that they’re in the midst of filming season four to air later this year. Let’s hope Chip and Joanna never go through a Jon and Kate Gosselin implosion—there will be tears staining distressed dining-room tables throughout America.

Fixer Upper airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV

15 ways to improve your finances in a week

From Business Insider 3/4/16

 

15 ways to improve your finances in a week

A financial tune-up doesn’t have to be a daunting process. It doesn’t require a financial planner or MBA — it doesn’t even have to take up much of your time.

There are several actions you can take starting today that will improve your finances and set you up for future success.

We rounded up 15 simple strategies that won’t take long — and that you can complete over the course of a week — but can make all the difference with your money.

 

For full article click here

Best Cities to flip homes

The best cities to flip homes in the US

It’s a good time to be in the house flipping business.

 Yahoo Finance

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Source: RealtyTrac

It’s a good time to be in the house flipping business.

Over 110,000 investors flipped at least one home — selling a property within 12 months of purchasing it — in 2015, the highest rate we’ve seen since 2007. And they’re making a killing. The average gross flipping profit was $55,000 in 2015, making the average gross return on investment 45.8%, according to housing data firm RealtyTrac. That’s up from 44.2% in 2014 and up from a 35.3% in 2005, which is when flipping activity last peaked.

Flipping is still a long way off from 2005 levels, when throngs of flippers were 260,000-strong and the housing bubble was close to bursting. Today, the average flipper is only running through one or two homes per year, which is the lowest rate per investor since 2008. That’s a good thing. Too much flipping activity is usually a bad sign for everyday homebuyers.

“By its very nature, flipping is pushing up home prices faster than you would see if you were just a normal buyer coming in a purchasing a property,” says Daren Blomquist, spokesperson for housing data firm RealtyTrac.

Their data shows that the cities with the biggest flipping profits  — the usual suspects like San Francisco and New York— don’t necessarily offer the highest percentage return on investment.  (The average gross flipping profit is simply the difference between the purchase price and the selling price, but it doesn’t include the cost of rehabbing the property).

Keep an eye on these five markets. They don’t necessarily generate the highest returns, but they have seen the largest gains in ROI between 2014 and 2015.

View gallery

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Idaho – Boise – Max Robinson in the garden – June 1975

Boise, Idaho: Gross ROI was 36.4% in 2015, up from 19.6% in 2014 (an 85% increase year over year)
Hartford, Conn.: Gross ROI was 79.3% in 2015, up from $52.6% in 2014 (a 51% increase year over year)
Ocala, Fla.: Gross ROI was 67.1% in 2015, up from  in 2014 (a 49% increase year over year)
Homosassa Springs, Fla.: Gross ROI was in 2015, up from 45.2% in 2014 (a 41% increase year over year)
Huntsville, Ala.: Gross ROI was 45.4% in 2015, up from 32.6% in 2014 (a 39% increase year over year)

You’ll find highest average flipping profits on the coasts:

San Francisco: $145,000
San Jose, Calif.: $145,000
New York: $120,000
Los Angeles: $115,000
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.: $110,000

But you’ll find the greatest ROI going off the beaten path, where homes can be found for much less than high-priced markets on the coasts:

Pittsburgh: 129.5%
New Orleans: 99.2%
Philadelphia: 98.4%
Cincinnati: 89.7%
New Haven, Conn.: 89.6%

Peak flipping?

There are signs that hot markets are beginning to cool off, despite rising flipping activity. Home values in San Francisco began to cool earlier this year and that trend will likely be seen in other expensive markets, Blomquist says.

That’s because there are a couple of key differences between the pre-housing bubble housing market and today’s market. Mortgage lenders, for one, aren’t doling out toxic home loans to buyers who couldn’t afford them like we saw in the early aughts. Lending standards are much stricter these days. And as cash investors move out of super expensive markets for cheaper pastures elsewhere, sellers are going to have lower prices enough to attract the average homebuyer with a mortgage looking to put down a minimal down payment.

“Flippers are going to have to keep that in mind,” Blomquist says. “If they take a home and over-improve it to a price point where first time home buyers can’t afford it, then those flippers are going to have trouble selling that property.”

Southern California home prices surge in March; sales inch up

Southern California home prices surge in March; sales inch up

Summer gas prices will be the cheapest in 12 years, U.S. agency predicts

Summer gas prices will be the cheapest in 12 years, U.S. agency predicts

Rob Nikolewski

Drivers across the nation this summer may pay less than they have in years at the pump and that goes for motorists in California, which consistently ranks as the most expensive place in the continental United States to gas up.

“It looks like, optimistically, we may get the lowest prices since 2005 … but it’s probably more likely the average will be similar to what we had in 2009,” said Marie Montgomery Nordhues, spokeswoman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Nationally, the story is similar.

“U.S. drivers are expected to pay the cheapest summer gasoline prices in 12 years, as low crude oil prices mean more savings at the pump,” Adam Sieminski, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said in a statement as the agency came out with its summer fuels forecast Tuesday.

With the U.S. starting the spring and summer driving season with gasoline inventories nearly 15 million barrels higher than last year, the agency estimated that for all of 2016, the average household will save about $350 on gasoline compared with last year.

The national average for regular grade gasoline is $2.06 a gallon, the lowest for this time of year since 2009.

California’s average gas price, typically the highest in the continental U.S., was $2.77 on Tuesday, down from $3.10 a year earlier, according to the AAA price survey. The Los Angeles average was $2.84, down from $3.15 a year earlier.

“Barring any other problems with our supply, it looks like this could definitely be good news for California drivers,” Montgomery Nordhues said.

In February 2015, an explosion at the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance led to higher gasoline prices in the state. The South Coast Air Quality Management District voted this month to allow Exxon Mobil to fully restore operations.

“When that’s up and running and making gasoline, then that’s going to take a big hunk of the additional cost out,” said David Hackett, president of Stillwater Associates, a transportation energy consulting company in Irvine.

8 Things You Should Never Say When Buying a Home

Great info 🙂

House of Brokers Realty, Inc.

Man: selimaksan/iStock; face: yuoak

If you’re in the throes of house hunting, chances are you’re excited—whether it’s your first home or your fifth. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride!

Seeing something you love (or hate) can often cause you to blurt all kinds of things, some of which you might regret. Because while you can (and should) always be upfront with your Realtor®, you might not want to be quite so candid around the sellers (or the listing agent working for them). The reason? Just like in “Law & Order,” what you say can—and will—be used against you.

So before you step into a home and stick your foot in your mouth, heed these top things never to say to sellers or their agents when you’re shopping for new digs.

‘This is my dream house!’

You ever play poker? Well then you should know that if you want to maintain a strong negotiating position, never tip your hand, advises Ryan Gibbons

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RIVERSIDE: Toro participates in water conservation challenge

RIVERSIDE: Toro participates in water conservation challenge

A nonprofit organization is reaching out to individuals and cities to cut water and energy usage

A national water conservation contest in which cities compete to get pledges from residents to save water is at the mid-way point.

The Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation is supported in part by The Toro Company, the Riverside-based irrigation company.

Founded by single-named marine-life artist Wyland, the non-profit foundation is dedicated to promoting awareness of water and conservation issues.

The challenge, which started on April 1, asks participants to go to http://www.mywaterpledge.com, and click in to find their city.

Participants make a series of promises to work at home for conservation, including taking shorter showers, fix leaky faucets, landscape with appropriate plants, use lawn sprinklers wisely, recycle, and make other efforts such as walking, biking or taking a bus more frequently.

Cities with the highest number of participants in their population size category win the friendly competition, and one of those cities will be selected for a “pocket park landscape makeover’” with irrigation supplied by Toro.

Individual participants in winning cities have a chance to win a 2016 Toyota Prius. There are an estimated $50,000 in prizes overall, including $1,000 gift cards for home improvement center shopping, plus earth-friendly cleaning product baskets, dimmable LED light bulbs, water-saving shower heads and other products.

In 2015, Riverside was 10th among cities with populations of 300,000 to 599,999.

Toro is making a daily giveaway of its Evolution irrigation controller with a wireless weather sensor, said Toro senior marketing manager Burnett Jones.

This is the Riverside company’s third year of involvement with the Wyland challenge, Jones said.

“We really view this more as a partnership,” he said. “It’s a way to get the message out about how to use water more wisely” that also has business traction for Toro, he said.

There were 42,000 who took part in the 2015 challenge, with support from mayors from 36 states, the foundation reported.

“By sticking to their commitments, the collective efforts of these residents will reduce national water waste by 1.5 billion gallons, reduce waste sent to landfills by 47 million pounds, eliminate more than 141,000 pounds of hazardous waste from entering our watersheds and save 139 million kilowatt hours of energy,” the foundation claimed.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

What: The Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation

Website: http://www.mywaterpledge.com

Prizes: 2016 Toyota Prius, $1,000 shopping spree at a home improvement store, 50 “Greening Your Cleaning” gift baskets from ECOS Earth Friendly Products, 50 Toro landscape timers and wireless weather sensors, 50 Cree six-packs of dimmable LED light bulbs, 50 sets of two Avex Brazos Autoseal water bottles, 25 EcoFlow showerheads from Waterpik

City categories (population): 5,000-29,999; 30,000- 99,999; 100,000-299,999; 300,000-599,999; 600,000-plus