By Brian Sodoma Special to Your Home Las Vegas Review Journal May 12, 2018 – 8:05 am
If you find yourself wanting to get out of the house a little more than usual, it may be for good reason. Your home may be giving you the blues, or even worse, it may have some serious negative effects on your body. Plants can remove harmful volatile organic compounds in the air. It’s recommended to keep a small plant in each room of the home.
Each day, most Americans move from one built environment to another. For those spaces, designers and owners have put thought (be it very little or a lot) into how to set up those spaces and what amenities to install. All those decisions impact the mental and physical well-being of individuals.
Our home is a place where we seek refuge. However, many houses face design hurdles or have amenities and features that could produce negative impacts on our health. Here are six ways your home may be bringing you down.
- Sleep barriers
Dr. Robert Brown, the author of the recently released “Toxic Home/Conscious Home: A Mindful Approach to Wellness at Home,” said many homeowners may not realize the effect their home has on their ability to enjoy a good night of sleep. One of the primary reasons for disrupted sleep may be tied to technology.
Light from phones and laptops, along with electromagnetic frequencies from Wi-Fi routers, will disrupt the body’s pineal gland from producing melatonin, which regulates sleep cycles, the physician explained.
“Even looking at your laptop or cellphone for a time before going to bed, studies have shown it can delay the production of melatonin by your brain,” Brown said.
Even if a modem or router is in a distant room, precautions should still be taken.
“EMF travels a good distance, and the brain receives information. … I recommend people put it (routers or modems) on an appliance timer so it shuts off automatically (at night when sleeping),” he added.
- Indoor air quality
Consumers are more conscious than ever about paints containing harmful volatile organic compounds and other products that may bring air toxins into the home. However, they are often misled on two points when it comes to in-home air quality, Brown said.
When it comes to VOCs, air purifiers like HEPA filters do not remove them. Plants do. That’s why the physician/author suggests keeping a small plant in each room of the home.
Home filtration systems, such as HEPA filters, do eliminate micro-particulates found in air fresheners, candles and even fumes from cooking. On another note, Brown strongly advises against using any plug-in air fresheners.
“The association you may have with a fragrance may affect emotions, but it’s not the same with an air freshener, even though it may kind of smell like that fragrance. It doesn’t have the same reaction,” he said.
- Full-spectrum lighting
A home’s lighting can strongly impact mood, adds Atilla Lawrence, an assistant professor of interior architecture and health care design at UNLV. More specifically, full-spectrum lighting, which covers the full magnetic spectrum from infrared to near ultraviolet, promotes a good mood, the professor says. Natural sunlight is considered a full-spectrum light.
“It will help you be more energetic. It’s going to put you in a much better mood. … It supports the circadian rhythm,” he added.
If you are in the design stage of a home, Lawrence said, a lighting pro who can design a space with ample natural full-spectrum lighting while suggesting the best full-spectrum light sources and bulbs may be well worth the investment.
- Picture perfect
Nature promotes happiness, and that’s why going to the ocean or mountains has a calming effect, Lawrence said. This is largely because the air contains negative ions, he explained. However, a similar calming effect could occur with large wall images containing visuals of nature.
“You’re not getting the negative ions, but there is a calming effect,” he added.
Dak Kopec, Ph.D., an associate professor and master of health care interior design at UNLV’s Paul B. Sogg School of Architecture, said research from the 1980s and ’90s involving children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder showed these children were able to better control symptoms with brief and periodic exposure to nature. He and Lawrence recommend finding large digital technology images for the wall.
Atmosphere North America, a Las Vegas-based company, offers a wall-hanging product that includes four televisions in the portrait position. Its “films and moods” setting allows people to have large nature scenes streaming throughout the day. Colors are displayed in a rich digital format and give depth to the room.
The product has been used in bars, lounges and hotel rooms. Technology like this could be helpful for homeowners who have homes on small lots in crowded subdivisions and may feel boxed in, Kopec said.
“In today’s housing market where land has become more valuable, many housing developments are placed too close to one another, and the ability to look off into the distance has been compromised by walls,” Kopec added.
- Home arrangement for elders
Lawrence also speaks to the importance of social interaction in a home and how it can encourage healthier, happier families. Today, multigenerational homes where grandparents are living with their children are becoming more common.
When it comes to the layout of a multigenerational home, Lawrence said it’s important to arrange environments in a way that allows for the inclusion of older family members. Arrange seating areas so that people are not more than 6 feet apart, he said, so that conversations can be easier to have, especially for a person who is hearing impaired.
“A grandparent hard of hearing that is 10 feet away may not hear what’s being said. … This can lead to some level of isolation,” he added.
- Water woes
Every faucet or showerhead in a home can directly contribute positively or negatively to one’s health. Having clean water available is critical, especially in a desert environment known for poor water quality.
More than 90 percent of the valley’s water is recycled, and there is simply no way for the local water authority to purify it to a drinking water level, explained Greg Eisenhauer, general manager of Sunny Plumber in Las Vegas.
Consumers should know there are basically three types of water systems available: water softeners, water filtration and reverse osmosis systems. Softeners only reduce the hardness of the water by exchanging one ion of calcium or magnesium for an ion of sodium or potassium — whichever is used by the homeowner.
Softeners, however, do not eliminate chlorine, which municipalities use to keep dangerous bacteria at bay. Chlorine, however, is not good for one’s health. Other toxins like chromium also may also be present in the water.
With water filters, Eisenhauer said, “Filtration is only as good as the media,” meaning whatever the filter is designed to remove, it will, but these systems often bring limitations.
RO water, he added, removes all toxins, including chlorine. Some residents will seek out the local municipality’s water report to better understand which contaminants may still be in the water. Then they can seek out a filtration system that can remove the targeted toxins. Or they may spend more with a whole-house RO system.
“The only way to purify is with RO. … A whole-house purification is expensive, but in the long run it’s worth it,” he added.
LAS VEGAS – Lake Las Vegas is known for its beauty, million dollar homes, and as a popular staycation spot. But it’s also had its share of setbacks, from shuttered businesses to home foreclosures and bankruptcy.
The area is on the far east side of town in Henderson. You can see it on the way out to Lake Mead, and recently Lake Las Vegas has seen a big boom in development.
The lake is the center of attention in the area, so many developers are using it to their advantage to lure more people. From new homeowners to out of town visitors, and their strategy appears to be working.
“It’s a pretty special place,” said Jim Andersen, executive director of Lake Las Vegas Rowing Club.
Lake Las Vegas is home to the first collegiate rowing regatta that will take place in Nevada this weekend.
Andersen coaches the Nevada State College team. He says the lake is the perfect spot for the competition.
“This is very unique,” Andersen said. “Normally, with rowing courses, you can see maybe the last 500 meters, but here you can stand on a hill and see the full 2000 meter course.”
“It’s just one of many ways developers are working to bring people to the lake. Residents say they like the new vibe.
“I’ve seen a lot more people on the weekends down in the village so yes it’s picking up,” said Tawnya Palma, resident.
Developers say the growth isn’t just about visitors looking for a day of fun outside; they said they’re seeing a big demand.
In fact, six new communities are being built at Lake Las Vegas. Each neighborhood would house about 60 homes.
“There is a need. “We’re feeling a lot of people coming this way; coming to the east side of the valley and a lot of people looking for homes on this side,” said Cody Winterton, executive vice president of Raintree development. “As we’ve added these amenities and added community we’re getting a lot of interest.”
Amenities such as the Lake Las Vegas Sports Club which opened at the start of the new year.
“When you drive in now, this is one of the first icons of Lake Las Vegas now,” Dann Battistone, the general manager of Lake Las Vegas Sports Club said about the sports club.
With more than 700 members already signed up, the sports club is something residents have been waiting to see come to life.
“In fact, I drove by this building every day thinking something is going to be great and possible that happens here and here it is happening. It’s fantastic,” resident Dan Smithman said.
With all the changes, Smithman who has lived in Lake Las Vegas for eight years says it’s really starting to feel like home now.
“It’s just a place where we all come together as a community,” Smithman said.
Developers say one of the reasons for the growth is the direct access now from U.S. 95 off of Galleria Drive. There’s also a new elementary school opening up nearby.
Come April 1, Proof Tavern is expected to open and it will reportedly have gaming.
Some other things to consider for first time home buyer
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Real estate agents say median home prices in southern Nevada topped $229,000 in May.
The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that the median sale price of existing single-family homes was up 8.5 percent, from about $211,000 a year ago.
Condominium and townhome prices were up 5.4 percent from a year ago, at a median price of $118,000 last month.
Association president Scott Beaudry says he thinks a tight housing supply is driving prices up.
The organization says almost 3,350 existing homes, condominiums and townhomes sold in May, or about the same number as in May 2015.
Beaudry says 4.5 percent of local sales in May were short-sales, for less than the value of the mortgage.
That’s down from 7.3 percent of all sales a year ago.
Las Vegas home prices went through a wild roller-coaster ride the past decade or so: they soared, crashed, shot up again, then downshifted.
Today, the ride seems almost boring. For the first time in a long time, prices are flat.
The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes — by far the bulk of Las Vegas’ for-sale housing market — has hovered around $220,000 since June. Prices still are up 7.5 percent year-over-year but have been roughly the same for the past nine months, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.
The stalled prices are good for buyers — who wants to pay more for a house? — and industry analysts say the trend reflects a more stable and more normal market after years of price swings and other volatility. It also comes as investors, who revived Las Vegas’ resale market after the economy tanked, continue pulling out.
The stagnation, however, could give sellers heartburn. And considering Las Vegas is the underwater capital of America, the plateau in prices prevents homeowners from escaping upside-down status.
But Brian Gordon, a principal with Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis, said it was “probably a good thing over the long run” that prices have flattened.
In a normal year, analysts say, home values grow 2 to 5 percent. After last decade’s boom and bust, resale prices for single-family homes grew 24 percent in both 2012 and 2013, 10 percent in 2014 and 6 percent last year, GLVAR data show.
Gordon said he expected price-growth to keep slowing, but he’d be “hesitant to suggest we’ll see any material downturn in prices.”
He said prices grew much faster than wages in recent years, but now they’d become “better aligned.” He also noted the economy was on “more-solid footing,” indicating a continued demand for homes.
Gordon also pointed out that housing sales no longer were dominated by distressed properties, which blanketed the valley after the bubble burst.
In 2015, foreclosed homes comprised 7.7 percent of single-family resales; short sales, 7.5 percent; and traditional deals, 84.7 percent, according to the GLVAR.
“Stability really has emerged,” Gordon said.
Amid flat prices, house shoppers might have more time to save money for a down payment “without the worry of prices continuing to go up and possibly out of reach,” said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist for San Francisco-based Trulia, a home-listing service.
This, however, can create competition for sellers. For instance, they might have to spend more money to spruce up their house to lure a buyer, McLaughlin said.
Overall, home-value growth around the country is “coming back down to Earth” and becoming “more sustainable,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist with Seattle-based listing service Zillow. But in cities like Las Vegas, he noted, the trend makes it harder for borrowers to get above water.
Some 21 percent of Las Vegas-area homeowners with mortgages are underwater, meaning their debt outweighs their home’s value, according to Zillow.
That’s down from a peak of 71 percent in early 2012 but still highest among large metro areas — reflecting how high prices soared during the bubble, how badly they crashed, and how much room they have before reaching peak levels again.
Underwater borrowers typically can only sell their homes through short sales, in which lenders approve selling the property for less than what’s owed on the mortgage. It’s a potentially time-consuming, paperwork-heavy process that can badly bruise a seller’s credit score, and there’s no guarantee a bank will approve the deal.
According to Terrazas, many underwater borrowers are unable to sell their homes. The result is a reduction in listings, especially among lower-priced houses that draw first-time buyers, he says.
Zillow called negative equity “one of the most persistent reminders” of America’s real estate bust and “a major barrier to a full recovery in certain markets.”
As Terrazas sees it, underwater borrowers will linger “for a long time,” especially in places like Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, house prices have leveled off as investors, who gobbled up cheap homes in bulk after the economy crashed, have continued backing out amid the shrunken inventory of bargains and a crowded home-rental market.
So-called institutional investors — or non-lenders who buy at least 10 homes per year — accounted for 2.2 percent of home purchases in the Las Vegas area last year. That’s down from 7.6 percent in 2014 and 14.1 percent in 2013, according to RealtyTrac.
The result is the market must rely more on mom-and-pop buyers. If Las Vegas relied heavily on them a few years ago and didn’t have investors propping things up, the market would have stayed dormant much longer.
Foreclosures, bankruptcies and short sales swept through the valley during the recession, wrecking people’s credit and making it all but impossible for many of them to buy a house for years.
Today, Las Vegas’ economy remains at the bottom of the pack nationally in many ways. The valley’s unemployment rate, 6.5 percent, is second-highest among large metro areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and its foreclosure rate is fifth-highest among metro areas, says RealtyTrac.
But it’s on the mend — jobs are growing, mortgage lending is slowly climbing after falling for years, visitor levels hit a record-high last year — and mom-and-pop buyers appear to be picking up at least some of the slack from investors.
Moreover, people sometimes forget that home prices typically grow just a few percentage points a year, said John Restrepo, founder of Las Vegas-based RCG Economics.
The housing market is becoming “more normal,” and that’s not a bad thing, he said.
“I don’t see any major catastrophes out there at this point,” he said. “It’s just slower.”
By Eli Segall (contact) Eli Segall
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Helping Nevadans Feel at Home
Welcome to the State of Nevada’s Home Is Possible Down Payment Assistance Program page. The Home Is Possible grant program helps make the dream of home ownership a reality for qualified Nevadans. Introduced in 2014, this program helps those who can afford the monthly mortgage payments, but whose savings may fall short of the necessary down payment.
The down payment assistance grant amount can be as much as 5% of the loan amount, to be used for covering down payment and closing costs. For example, on a $ 200,000 loan amount, your down payment assistance grant, pending the qualifications specified below, may be as high as $10,000. This grant never needs to be repaid.
- Fixed interest rate 30-year loan – current rate click here
- No first-time homebuyer requirement
- Grant is non-repayable
- Available state-wide
- No asset limits for homebuyers
- Now offering up to a 4% grant with government loan types and up to a 5% grant with conventional loan financing
- Grants are based upon the loan amount and can be used for down payment assistance and/or closing costs.
- Can be combined with The Mortgage Tax Credit (MTC) Program. For more information, click here
- Minimum credit score generally 640 for government insured loans and 680 for most conventional loans
- Qualifying income on mortgage application must be below $95,500
- Home price below $400,000
- Must be homebuyer’s primary residence
- Homebuyer education course is required
- Must meet normal government or conventional loan underwriting requirements
- Effective February 1, 2016, manufactured housing loans will be available for government loans
How to Get Started
- Find an approved lender (link below)
- Complete homebuyer paperwork with the lender
What’s your home worth on the market? A Quicken Loans index suggests valley homeowners and appraisers are close to agreeing.
The Detroit-based mortgage lender ranked Las Vegas 11th of 27 U.S. metropolitan markets on its Home Price Perception Index for December. In the valley, appraisers’ home-value assessments exceeded homeowners’ expectations by 0.35 percent in December the index showed, up from 0.23 percent in November.
For all of 2015, appraisers’ values exceeded homeowners’ expectations by 2.25 percent in Las Vegas, the company said.
Las Vegas and the West seemed to buck the national trend reflected in the index, which derives from mortgage activity across more than 3,000 American counties. Quicken Loans said that overall, average appraised values for U.S. homes in December were 1.8 percent lower than homeowners’ expectations.
Although December was the 11th straight month in which appraised home values fell short of homeowners’ expectations nationally, it was the fourth straight month in which the appraiser-homeowner expectation gap narrowed, Quicken Loans said.
Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters said his company’s data reflect patterns seen before and after the housing bubble, he said. Before the crash, homeowners’ assessments were much higher than appraisers’; the appraisers, on the leading edge, saw the fall first, he said. As the market began rebounding, Walters said, appraisers were again ahead of the curve, seeing the rise before homeowners did.
Homeowners might be expected to subjectively skew expected values — a granite countertop’s beauty is in the eye of its beholder.
“(But) there’s a point at which homeowners and appraisers end up on the same page, and in many places we seem to be reaching a sort of equilibrium,” Walters said, reflecting on Las Vegas’ score. “It doesn’t tell you that home values will rise or fall dramatically, it just tells you the market is what the appraisers and homeowners say it is.
“We’re starting to conform to the things we saw seven or eight years ago, outside the crisis,” Walters added. “The shocks that put valuations out of whack have started to cure and we’re back to a more ‘normal’ situation.”
Walters said Las Vegas seems to have reached value perception stasis, which helps buoy both home sales and mortgage refinancing, a little ahead of other markets that were especially hard-hit by the crash. He attributed this partly to churn. Las Vegas homeowners are less likely than peers in other markets to stay in homes for 20 or 30 years, he said; more frequent address changes may offer a more current, and accurate, sense of the market.
Also, he said, websites including Zillow, Trulia and Redfin, which let homeowners price their own homes and those in their neighborhoods, are helping boost market knowledge and bridge appraiser-homeowner price gaps everywhere. Sizing up markets used to be a lot harder, Walters said, requiring spotting “for sale” signs and knocking on doors.
Phil Dwyer, owner of Las Vegas-based Dwyer Home Appraisals, said he’s seeing fewer disagreements about home values, perhaps because distressed homes, which once dominated the market and skewed prices, are far less common. Banks are no longer dominant sellers, he said; homeowners are dealing directly with buyers.
“The values (between the parties) seem to be a lot more closely aligned than they were five years ago,” Dwyer said. “There are real buyers and real sellers and they’re coming to similar expectations.”
R. Scott Dugan & Associates Appraisal Co. owner Scott Dugan pointed to Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors data from 2015 showing that the average difference between a home’s list price and sale price was 2 percent and the median was 1 percent.
“Apparently, sellers will list homes for what they think they are worth, but the market will only pay 1 to 2 percent less,” Dugan said by email. “It’s the appraiser’s job to appraise the property based upon the definition of ‘market value’ not the definition of “owner value.’ In most cases, the value will be within range, however, in many cases, especially the higher-end product, sellers/appraisers may have a much larger gap.”
Silver State Appraisers owner Bruce Feldman wasn’t sure what to make of Quicken Loans’ data. Home values, he said, can vary widely based on homes’ age, amenities, condition and surrounding neighborhoods.
However, he said, informed real estate agents, armed with appraisers’ reports, can inform clients about reasonable price expectations and limit disagreement.
“People only go by what they know and what they see,” Feldman said. “A Realtor can come to me and say, ‘This is what the client thinks (the home is) worth and this is what I think it’s worth. It’s worth doing an appraisal on it to find out what’s right.'”
Find Matthew Crowey on Twitter @copyjockey
Southern Nevada real estate agents say the area’s median home price has climbed to $218,000 in July.
The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Monday that the median home price is up less than 1 percent from June but up 9 percent from the same time a year ago.
Association president Keith Lynam said home prices aren’t growing as quickly as they have in the past few years, but are still rising. He said it was a good sign that more homes are selling this year than last year.
The total number of homes sold in July was more than 3,800, up from about 3,300 a year ago.
Median home prices remain between their June 2006 peak of $315,000 and their January 2012 trough of $118,000.
Freddie: 3%-Down Loans Make Strong Debut
Freddie Mac’s new mortgage product that allows borrowers to put down just 3 percent is off to a strong start, says Freddie Mac’s Chief Executive Donald Layton.
Read more: 3% Down Payments May Be Game Changer
Layton wouldn’t provide specific numbers on the 3 percent loan performance, but he reported that the mortgage giant netted a $4.2 billion total profit during the second quarter.
Lawmakers had expressed concern about Freddie Mac’s 3 percent down payment option loans, which debuted in March, arguing that it could lead to losses at the government-backed company. The Federal Housing Administration also supports low down payment loans but requires more insurance from home owners than Freddie Mac’s.
Freddie Mac is charging more to guarantee mortgages as they gradually shrink the size of their loan portfolios.
Freddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, remain under government conservatorship and send their profits to the U.S. Treasury.
Freddie Mac reported that more than 40 percent of its net interest income in the second quarter was from management and guarantee fees.
By the end of June, Freddie Mac’s post-2008 business has increased to 63 percent of its single-family credit guarantee portfolio. Also, its single-family serious delinquency rate – loans that have payments late by 90 days or more — stood at 1.53 percent in the second quarter, the lowest since November 2008 and below the national rate of 4.24 percent.
Source: “New 3%-Down Mortgage Off to ‘Good Start,’ Freddie Mac Chief Says,” MarketWatch (Aug. 4, 2015)
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