Move over Subway Tile, Kitchens get Curated

As the trend of curated interiors takes hold, the kitchen becomes another space where you can put your unique touch on design. We’ll explore some alternatives for backsplashes that are putting subway tile back underground. In other news, the Olympics are over (boo!) and we are definitely going through withdrawal in our house. But, there was plenty of other news to keep us busy. New Fed Chair Jay Powell gave his first testimony to Congress, which caused plenty of market volatility. Then, Trump decided to announce that trade tariffs were coming, but provided very few details, leaving markets to fill in the blanks (which is never a good thing!).

DESIGN TRENDS
I will admit that I love white subway tile. It’s geometric, orderly and has timeless appeal. You can’t go wrong with it in your kitchen or bathroom. But, if you consider the myriad of alternatives available in tile and other materials today, the kitchen might just become the next space where you decide to take a bold step and express your personality. For the most adventurous, mosaic tiles are back – from Moroccan styles to classic blue and white Portuguese tiles. If a pattern is not your thing, how about a bright tile color offset against neutral cabinets? Another way to make a bold statement is to go for a marble slab, which can be visually stunning. If all of this feels like a bit much, consider subway tile in a different color or texture, or perhaps a white tile in a different shape or pattern? I love the herringbone pattern in the photo below. Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas!

LOCAL REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT
It’s unclear how much of an impact a rapid commute between Baltimore and DC would have on local real estate prices. But, local officials seems to be exploring all paths to creating high speed rail in our region. We have covered some of the different plans for magnetic levitation trains that are being considered. And, now, Elon Musk’s Boring Company has officially been given the green light to do a bit of digging on New York Avenue NE. The potential “NY-Phil-Balt-DC” hyperloop route would take 30 minutes one way.

In other local news, Maryland lawmakers are questioning whether the huge incentives offered to Amazon for their potential headquarters may come at too great a cost. With an estimated price tag of $7bn, will the return on that investment be worth it? It remains to be seen.

REAL ESTATE, INTEREST RATES & MORTGAGE NEWS

It was another volatile week in the markets. New Fed Chair Jay Powell was all over the news after his first testimony to Congress. First, he indicated that the Fed intends to hike rates at least three times this year, and perhaps more if conditions warrant. In particular, he highlighted the potential impact of recently implemented fiscal policies, like the new tax cuts, as playing a role in that. With regard to inflation, he cited the “Amazon effect” and its dampening of price and wage growth as something we don’t yet fully understand.

Then, there was the announcement by President Trump about tariffs on steel and aluminum coming as soon as next week. With scant details, this sent the markets into a tail spin. Fears of a trade war and retaliation from countries like Canada, Mexico and China sent the Dow down more than 400 points.

What does all of this mean for rates? Well, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, the 30-year mortgage rate rose for the eighth consecutive week, hitting a level of 4.43%. This is up from 3.95% at the start of the year. But, later in the week, the tariff announcement caused some safe haven buying of Treasury’s, sending yields lower, and mortgage rates hit 2-week lows. We shall see what next week holds.

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