Monday, March 24, 2008

With Home Sales Rebounding in February is an Improving Housing Market Right around the Corner

By Mark J. Donovan

There is a sign that the housing market may be beginning to bottom out. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that home sales increased 2.9% in February.

This is certainly a positive sign in the housing market; however the rest of the news with this report was not so good. The report also indicated that housing prices dropped precipitously, with the average medium sale price on existing homes falling to $195,900. The NAR reported this was the biggest year over year price drop in existing home sales since 1999.

Whether or not this is truly the beginning of a recovery of the housing market or not, getting a little positive news in a market that has gone through a major correction over the past couple of years is a good sign of things to eventually come. Readmore »»

Friday, March 21, 2008

With Declining Interest Rates is now a Good Time to Buy a Home?

By Mark J. Donovan

Interest rates on home mortgages are at their lowest levels in several decades. Thirty year fix rate mortgages are now available below 6%. In addition, the housing market has been in a decline for the past couple of years. If there was ever a time to buy a home, now is the time. Yes, you could try to time the bottom on the housing market, but similar to predicting the bottom of a bear market, it is a very tough endeavor.

Also, many are predicting the housing market to begin to rebound in late 2008 or early 2009. Personally, I think it may take a little longer. Regardless of exactly when the housing market will rebound, the fact is there are few times in modern history where both home prices and interest rates have declined so significantly.

In addition, there is a glut of homes on the market today, both new and used. Builders have inventory that they need to dump in order to pay their creditors. There are also many homeowners who have been trying to sell their homes for a year or longer. It is truly a buyer’s market, and both the used home sellers and builders are willing to negotiate.

Trying to time the bottom of the housing market by waiting a few more months could cost you more, both in terms of a higher purchase sale price, and in higher interest rates. Though the Fed has been cutting interest rates dramatically over the past couple of months, there is the real threat of rapid inflation. If inflation begins to rear its head to any appreciable level, the Fed will quickly reverse its position and begin to ratchet interest rates up.

So if you have been considering buying a home don’t wait. Now is the time, with both declining interest rates and reduced home prices. Readmore »»

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How to Build a Simple Computer Desk

By Mark J. Donovan

Back a few years ago I decided I needed to buy a computer desk. After looking around at a half dozen furniture stores and department stores, I came to the conclusion that there were only two types of computer desks on the market; very expensive ones from high end furniture stores and pressed board garbage from low cost box stores. Neither suited my budget or tastes, but I needed a computer desk.

It was during this realization that I came up with an idea of building my own simple computer desk. I remember seeing standalone kitchen cabinets for sale at one of the local home improvement stores. I thought, hey if I could affix a countertop surface to two kitchen cabinets I’d have a functional computer desk.

Finding the Components for my Computer Desk

With the idea in mind I grabbed my tape measure and drove to a local home improvement store. The store had numerous standalone kitchen cabinets for sale, made from all types of wood. Some were low end constructed, while others were more high-end constructed. I found one cabinet that consisted of a top drawer and a large front door with adjustable shelves. I then found another cabinet consisting entirely of a column of drawers. After pulling them aside, I then visited the countertop area of the store, and surprisingly I found pre-fabricated 5 foot countertops for sale. I selected one that was aesthetically appealing to me and rested it on top of the two kitchen cabinets. I spaced the two kitchen cabinets apart so that they were located at the far ends of the countertop to allow room for a chair and seating. I then made a height measurement and determined that the only modification required was to cut about 2 inches off the bottom of each kitchen cabinet.

Building a Computer Desk

With my desk idea nearly realized, I purchased the two kitchen cabinets and countertop and brought them home for assembly.

Using a skill saw I removed two inches of the base of the cabinets. This was easy to do since the cabinets had about a 3 inch area below the fixed base cabinet shelf and the drawers that was effectively empty space. I then positioned the two cabinet pieces in my office area and mounted the kitchen countertop to the two cabinets using screws and brackets.

Finally, I mounted a keyboard tray slider to the underside of the countertop and my good looking and functional computer desk was ready for use.

Note: Keyboard tray sliders can be found at most office stores. Readmore »»