When was the last time your home workspace or study station inspired you? For most people, the answer is, “Not recently.”

Whether you’re prepping an area for your work-from-home days or setting up a spot for young scholars to study , you can kick inspiration into high gear with home office solutions that will get your creative juices flowing again.

Window wonder

It’s no secret that sunshine does the body good. Fix up a space near the window so you can soak up plenty of vitamin D while pumping out price lists or writing that term paper.

Greenery looks great near a bright area, so a potted plant or two might help naturally bring your space to life.

Arts and crafts

The age of DIY is upon us. Embrace the casual-cool vibes and create your very own home desk area.

Need a semipermanent to-do list? Try using chalkboard paint to make yourself a giant notepad on a nearby cabinet or a framed chalkboard. Tired of the overdone corkboard for your sticky notes? Framed chicken wire with clothespins makes a more shabby-chic memo board.

The possibilities really are endless for this type of style. Just don’t let your DIYing get in the way of the tasks you originally sat down to do!

Photo from Zillow listing.

Collaboration is key

For those less focus-intensive projects, investigate a collaborative workstation with several small spaces or a giant community table. This type of work environment has been popular among small companies and creative agencies for the purpose of bouncing around ideas.

If you still want your own personal space, put a divider between you and the other desks for some extra privacy, and take it down when it’s time to meet and discuss. You know what they say: Teamwork makes the dream work.

collab sm
Photo from Zillow listing.

A clear mind

While many of us would like to think we have complete control of our habit of logging onto Facebook or checking what else our calendar has in store for us, most of us really don’t. And the greatest enabler of this sidetracked behavior is a cluttered workspace.

Set the stage for a clean slate with a bright white desk and matching chair, a simple light fixture and an inspiring element. Keeping your workstation simple and clutter-free ensures you have a productive day – even if your homework is less than exhilarating.

Whether you’re up all night cramming for exams or prepping for a work presentation due first thing in the morning, you’ll feel more focused and productive by incorporating any of these tips into your workstation.


Originally published September 7, 2016.

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images; realtor.com

Elizabeth Taylor’s former estate in Beverly Hills is ready for its close-up, this time with a price cut. Originally on the market for $16 million, the home has returned at $12 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“It’s a wonderful buy,” says listing agent Joyce Rey.

Rey also pointed out the home’s privacy and beautiful ocean views as stand-outs, but the feature that is hardest to find is the property’s size. “You can’t find many 2-acre lots with a flat pad,” she says.

Before it came on the market last year, the home hadn’t been available for two decades. The current owners added a guest apartment and updated the decor when they moved in. 

Views from Elizabeth Taylor’s former home


The living room opens to the patio.


Kitchen with island and prep area


Master suite with octagonal coffered ceiling


Two-acre lot with lush gardens


The extremely private, one-level property is built around a courtyard, and features city and ocean views. The serene space includes a gated entry, mature landscaping, pool, spa, and gardens.

The living room includes a fireplace, a beamed ceiling, and a wall of windows and doors that open out to the patio, gardens, and pool. The kitchen includes an entertainer’s island and prep area and opens to a side patio.


Watch: With a Major Price Cut, Will Elvis Presley’s Honeymoon House Finally Sell?


Other perks include an office with a fireplace and built-ins, and a spacious master suite with an octagonal coffered ceiling, a fireplace, and a sitting area with access to the outdoors.

Rumor has it that Taylor and her husband at the time, Michael Wilding, decided to buy the home after scaling a fence on the property to get a better view. The couple purchased the home in 1954, and raised their two boys there, until their divorce in 1957. One feature of the home, which apparently Taylor enjoyed but that no longer exists, was a moving wall between the bedroom and living room, “so she could make a grand entrance at her own parties,” says Rey. 

Taylor, who died in 2011, was a Hollywood legend. The Oscar-winning actress is known for “Butterfield 8,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

The post Elizabeth Taylor’s Former Beverly Hills Home Gets a $4M Price Cut appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

The deep freeze in the Canadian housing markets continues. The latest housing market stats show that housing sales and prices in January were lower than the ones recorded a year earlier.

A retrospective view of the housing markets raises significant concerns. The impact of stringent mortgage regulations appears to be longer lasting than was initially expected.

In January 2018, housing sales declined after stricter mortgage regulations, including a stress test, were enacted. The January 2019 numbers are the first piece of evidence suggesting that housing market slowdown is deeper rooted than a direct and immediate reaction to policy interventions.

The sustained slowdown in housing markets presents at least two alternatives to the government. The first alternative is to maintain the status quo and do nothing. The second alternative is to rethink the policy interventions made in the recent past and see if there is any new evidence that warrants a change in policy.

The decline in housing sales in January 2018 was expected. A whole host of new regulations designed to tighten  mortgage lending became effective on the first day of January last year. Sales in December 2017 were higher than usual as households rushed to close deals to avoid being subject to stricter mortgage regulations a month later.

When January 2018 sales were 14.5 per cent lower than the month before, there was no surprise, and the decline was attributed to the new stress test. Similarly, year-over-year sales were down 2.4 per cent from January 2017.

The January 2019 sales figures are more disturbing. Compared to the year before, sales last month were down by four per cent. In fact, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) revealed that sales in January 2019 have been the weakest since 2015.

In addition to sales, housing prices have also softened. The average house price across Canada was $455,000, 5.5 per cent lower than the same time last year.

The January 2019 statistics offer the first opportunity to compare the annual change in housing market dynamics after the stress test came into effect. The decline in last month above and beyond what was observed a year ago is indicative of the fact that the markets are not merely reacting to new regulations, but the markets have embraced a more systematic response that is characterized by fewer transactions and lower prices.

The weakness in housing markets also affects mortgage lending, a business The Big Five banks continue to dominate in Canada. The continued slowdown in housing sales may have influenced banks’ mortgage portfolios — the first signs of such an effect could soon be visible when the banks release their updated earnings report in the coming days.

The past few weeks have witnessed diverse voices both questioning and supporting the efficacy of the more stringent mortgage regulations. Some believe that stress tests are working fine. Phil Soper, CEO of Royal Lepage, thinks that the stress tests are needed “for the longer term health of the economy.”

Others believe that the stress tests have adversely impacted homebuyers who are either unable to buy at all or are forced to consume less adequate shelter space than they would have afforded in the absence of stress tests.

After reviewing the sustained decline in housing sales, Dave Wilkes, President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), believes that the stress test “has overshot its target.”

BILD has advanced two proposals for the feds to contemplate. First, to consider lowering the stress test threshold that requires borrowers to qualify at 200 basis points above the contracted rate. As the interest rates have been revised upwards since the stress test was implemented, there is merit in reviewing the threshold.

Housing trade groups are also advocating to reintroduce the 30-year amortization for CMHC insured mortgages, which was available until July 2012.

First-time homebuyers are likely to benefit more from these changes. The ability to stretch the amortization period to 30 years lowers the monthly payment and allows many to participate in homebuying who would otherwise be forced to rent at a time when rental vacancy rates are at historic lows in large urban housing markets.

Critics of the 30-year mortgage point out its two obvious shortcomings. First, borrowers end up paying considerably more in interest. Second, longer amortization periods contribute to house price inflation.

Good public policy should be responsive and rooted in evidence. Recent housing market data indicates that the impact of tighter mortgage regulations has been longer lasting than what most housing experts expected. A course correction might be a prudent way forward.

Murtaza Haider is an associate professor at Ryerson University. Stephen Moranis is a real estate industry veteran. They can be reached at www.hmbulletin.com.

Important Post !

Posted To: Pipeline Press

I like economists and math PhD.’s but there is some truth that “experts” have picked 8 of the last 4 recessions. While the U.S. economy is considered to be broadly healthy, as shown by yesterday’s GDP data, at some point they’ll be right, right? Experts point to banks appearing to tighten criteria for commercial and industrial loans, the number of new consumer credit accounts has fallen 6% from its 2016 peak, a University of Michigan survey shows consumer confidence dropping, orders for capital goods are falling , a slowdown in the sale of business equipment continues, and the National Association of Realtors has reported sales of existing homes fell last month to the lowest level since November 2015. Lender Products and Services ISGN Solutions, a premier provider…(read more)

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If you are a Native American and have trouble getting home loan financing, there could be help with the Section 184 Home Loan program. This HUD program helps Native Americans afford home ownership by allowing low down payments and low interest rates. HUD guarantees the Section 184 Loans 100%, which means they work in much the same way that other government-backed programs, such as the FHA loan work.

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Finding a Bank

HUD sets the guidelines for the Section 184 Loans and even guarantees them, but they don’t underwrite them. Instead, the funding bank does it. The banks have the final say in which loans get approved and which don’t.

It’s the lender’s job to make sure that the loan meets the Section 184 guidelines at a minimum. Lenders can add their own rules or overlays on top of it, but at a minimum they must follow the Section 184 guidelines. It’s often easier to use lenders that other tribe members have used and you may even find an approved list of lenders from your tribe.

How to Qualify

Qualifying for the Section 184 Loan means that you meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a member of a Federally recognized tribe
  • You don’t need a certain credit score; the bank decides if you are a good risk or not
  • You will need a debt ratio that doesn’t exceed 41%, but there are exceptions to the rule, especially if you have a strong financial record
  • You must live in one of the approved Section 184 states
  • You should have a two-year employment history
  • You can be either a first-time or repeat home buyer
  • The home must be for your primary residence

Click to See the Latest Mortgage Rates.

The Benefits of the Section 184 Loan

If you are part of a Native American tribe, you have a low credit score, and low income, it can seem impossible to find a loan. That’s where the Section 184 loan steps in and helps. Aside from being a loan that can help Native Americans in this situation, it provides the following benefits:

  • You may only need to put down 1.25% on the loan if you borrow $50,000 or less. If you borrow more than $50,000, you must make a 2.25% down payment.
  • You can still qualify for the Section 184 Loan if you have bad credit. The loan program isn’t based on credit score. Lenders look at each loan individually in order to make a lending decision.
  • You can buy single-family properties or 1-4 unit properties as long as you live in a unit as your primary residence.
  • You can use the loan to help you pay for home renovations or rehabilitation; it isn’t just to buy a home.
  • You can use the loan to build a new home or to refinance your current home.
  • You can only get a fixed rate loan – adjustable rate loans aren’t allowed.

Paying Mortgage Insurance

Like most government-backed loans, you will need to pay mortgage insurance on a Section 184 Loan. First, you pay 1.5% of the loan amount at the closing. If you don’t have the money to pay the fee at closing, you can opt to roll it into your loan amount.

If you borrow more than 78% of the home’s value, you will pay monthly mortgage insurance equal to 0.25% of the loan amount. This amount changes as you pay your mortgage principal down, though. For example, if you borrow $100,000, you would pay $20 per month. As you pay the principal down, the premium you pay would decrease even further.

The Section 184 Loan is a great way to help Native Americans with poor credit and low-income get a loan. It’s a great way to get flexible financing with low, affordable interest rates. As with any loan program, make sure you shop around to find the deal that is just right for you.

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Click to See the Latest Mortgage Rates»

The post Understanding the Section 184 Home Loan for Native Americans appeared first on Blown Mortgage.