Get it Done: The 5 Projects You Always Say You’ll Do

These resolutions always make the rounds. This is the year they will actually get done.
Clean Out Your Closet

San Antonio a big Draw for Relocation

Texas ranked the seventh-largest inbound moving destination in the country in 2014, according to a recent survey by United Van Lines
United Van Lines has been tracking the number of inbound and outbound domestic moves for nearly four decades, enabling it to identify the most and least popular states for residential relocation, United Van Lines spokeswoman Melissa Sullivan said in a news release. This year, United Van Lines also surveyed customers to determine why they were relocating.

The survey found that 38 percent of the people moving to Texas did so because of a company transfer, while another 38 percent did so because of a new job. Meanwhile, affordable housing has been a factor in people's moving decision.

Michael Stoll, economist, professor and chair of the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the current migration patterns reflect longer-term trends of families moving to the Southern and Western states, where housing costs are relatively lower, climates are more temperate and job growth has been at or above the national average.

San Antonio's housing market ended the year strong as more families moved to the city in 2014. The San Antonio area has experienced more growth in single-family home construction, rising home prices and higher housing values, Metrostudy Regional Director Jack Inselmann told the Business Journal toward the end of the year. San Antonio is also one of the most affordable housing markets in America.

Source: SA Business Journal

FHA Lowers Mortgage Costs

The Federal Housing Administration is reducing its annual mortgage insurance premiums by 0.5 percentage points in a move "to expand responsible lending to creditworthy borrowers," according to a White House statement. FHA also said it would take added steps over the next few months to "cut red tape and clarify lending standards" in reducing mortgage costs for hundreds of thousands of creditworthy borrowers, according to the White House.

The FHA's move comes after several calls from industry trade groups, associations, and members of Congress urging the agency to lower its insurance premiums, which were increasingly blamed for sidelining thousands of would-be buyers. FHA-backed loans allow buyers to put down as little as 3.5 percent of the purchase price, and they are a major financing resource for first-time buyers. FHA's mortgage insurance premiums will be reduced from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent. The reduction in premiums on mortgages could save an average borrower $1,000 a year on a $200,000 loan, says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

"We are optimistic that more affordable FHA loans will have a positive impact on first-time buyers who have been entering the market at a lower-than-normal rate," National Association of REALTORS® President Chris Polychron said in a statement. "NAR is a strong supporter of the FHA and its vital role in the mortgage marketplace for home buyers. We will continue our work with the administration to help make the dream of home ownership a reality for millions more Americans."

In 2013, the FHA required a $1.7 billion bailout from the government after suffering losses from a high number of loan defaults in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Since 2008, FHA has increased its annual premiums for FHA borrowers five times. The National Association of REALTORS® has estimated that nearly 400,000 creditworthy borrowers were priced out of the housing market in 2013 because of the higher costs in FHA insurance premiums. But in recent months, FHA has turned a profit, which has renewed calls from other groups to lower their insurance premiums to help open the credit box to more qualified borrowers.

"This action will make home ownership more affordable for over two million Americans in the next three years," says Julian Castro, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees FHA. "By bringing our premiums down, we're helping folks lift themselves up so they can open new doors of opportunity."

Source:Realtor Magazine

Adding Winter Color to your Porch or Patio

South Texas gardeners can choose from an array of cheery flowers to brighten winter flower beds. Some winter flowers prefer sun, while others like shade. South Texas encompasses USDA hardiness zones 8 and 9 with average lows of 10 to 25 degrees F.
It may be too late to plant these hearty flowers in beds, but they will still do well in containers. They will add a welcoming touch to your curb appeal.

Geranium - In the sunny climate of south Texas, geraniums grow and flower year-round. These bright flowers come in hues of red, pink, purple and white. Most varieties of geranium prefer a part-sun environment, though some types like Strawberry Sizzle or Violet can be planted in full sun, according to Texas A&M. Geraniums can reach up to 3 feet tall. As they grow, their stalks become woody. Geraniums feature soft green leaves and delicate ruffled bloom


Primrose -A wildflower native to the southern United States and Mexico, there are many types of flowering primrose, including some that bloom for only one day. Primrose comes in a tall and a short variety. According to Texas Gardener, tall primrose tends to be pastel in color, while short primrose may feature red, orange or blue blossoms.
Cyclamen - This plant's bright green foliage and delicate white, red or pink blossoms brighten up a south Texas winter garden. Cyclamen can be planted in November or December and will bloom until April, according to Texas A&M University Extension. Cyclamen can live as a perennial if given regular water and fertilizer. The plants prefer full shade in hot months and part shade from late fall to spring.
Pansy - Throughout south and central Texas, pansies are a great choice for winter color. Pansies need at least six hours of sun to thrive. These small flowers come in variegated hues of white, yellow, purple, maroon, orange or pink. Texas A&M recommends starting pansies in soil that's 40 to 70 degrees F so the plants can get established before any winter chills. Pansy plants need regular watering; Texas A&M suggests watering twice a week.