As we close out the first month of the year, we’ll discuss one of the design trends expected to continue to grow in 2018, the curated space. A collected, eclectic approach to design that makes your home a truly unique space. The end of January also means that we get lots of economic data for 2017. For instance, 2017 was the best year for existing home sales that we have seen since 2006! The impact of tax reform continues to be felt as more companies announce employee bonuses. On the flip side, several high tax states are banding together to fight the cap on state and local taxes implemented by the tax bill. Enjoy!
As January is about to come to an end, it’s a good time to revisit the trends expected in 2018. One in particular that I personally love is the move from a “designed” space to a more “curated” space. What does this mean? You can “design” a room right down to the accessories and everything will work together beautifully, but a “curated” space contains a layered collection of objects that are unique and perhaps personal to you. It means that no two living rooms should look alike. Now, it can be challenging to create this look because ideally it means you have been acquiring objects over the years. But, it also means that you can take a more involved and creative approach to your home. If you look around and see objects that mean something to you, you will necessarily feel more comfortable and happy in your home. Think of it as your own personal version of “A Few of My Favorite Things”! Check out my Pinterest board for some beautifully curated spaces.
LOCAL REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT
There has been plenty of community response to the planned development for the Westbard Shopping Center in Bethesda, and generally, it hasn’t been positive. Now, it looks like the original plans have been scrapped and the new plans take a much scaled down approach, cutting the planned square footage by more than half. The original developer, Equity One, has since been acquired by Regency Centers. There is a community meeting scheduled for Jan 31 to discuss the new plans.
TAX REFORM IMPACT
As we continue to monitor the impact of the recent tax overhaul, I will periodically highlight some of the latest news here. Recently, I had written about the companies giving bonuses to their employees on the back of the new tax cuts. CNBC has a new list, that they will continue to update, in case you want to keep track. Again, it’s interesting and important to note the number of bonuses vs permanent wage increases. In another interesting development, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are banding together to sue the federal government over the cap on state and local taxes (the SALT deduction), declaring it a violation of state’s rights and the Equal Protection clause of the constitution. “The top 12 states that get hurt (by the bill) coincidentally all happen to be Democratic states,” Cuomo said. Hmm.
REAL ESTATE, INTEREST RATES & MORTGAGE NEWS
This week, we saw the release of GDP for the fourth quarter of 2017. While Wall Street was expecting the measure to reach the President’s target of 3%, it came in lower at 2.6%. The details are not all bad though. Consumer spending rose at the highest pace since 2014. It drove a big increase in imported goods, however, which detracts from GDP. While exports of US goods was strong at 6.9%, import growth more than outpaced it by rising a whopping 13.9%. All of this consumer spending also means higher inflation. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index rose 1.9%, the quickest pace in more than a year. Persistent higher inflation could mean the Fed takes a more aggressive approach to raising interest rates. A positive development in the report was that investment in home building rebounded after declining for the last two quarters. We also learned this week that Existing Home Sales for 2017 as a whole increased 1.1%, marking the best year of sales in 11 years!
Meanwhile, the stock market continues to hit record levels, with the DOW hitting another record on Friday, its 11th record high in just 18 trading days. All of this means higher rates and the 30-year mortgage rate jumped up to 4.15% in Freddie Mac’s weekly survey.
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