WASHINGTON, DC — The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced an increase in conforming loan limits (CLLs) for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) in 2022.
In most of the U.S., the 2022 CLL for one-unit properties will be $647,200, an increase of $98,950 from $548,250 in 2021, according to the FHFA.
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 requires that the baseline CLL for the Enterprises be adjusted annually to reflect changes in the average U.S. home price. According to the latest FHFA House Price Index (HPI), house prices increased 18.05%, on average, between the third quarters of 2020 and 2021. Due to rising home values, the baseline CLL in 2022 in all but four U.S. counties or county equivalents will increase by the same percentage, the FHFA said.
“These increases are an important step to ensure that government-backed mortgages keep pace with the sharp rise in home prices over the past year,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. “Supply-side challenges, including building material bottlenecks and lot and labor shortages, will continue to place upward pressure on construction costs and home prices in 2022.”
For additional information, visit https://www.fhfa.gov/CLLs.
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NEW YORK — Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) and the Italian Trade Agency have announced that the 2022 Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition is open for entries.
The annual awards program celebrates the exceptional work of top North American architects, designers, and students who use Italian ceramic and porcelain tile in their projects “to create innovative solutions that demonstrate an understanding of the material’s practical, aesthetic, and sustainable benefits,” competition sponsors said.
An international jury of design experts will select winners and honorable mentions in four built project categories, including new construction and residential, as well as a winner in the student category. Architects and designers based in the U.S. or Canada and students currently enrolled in a North American college or university are invited to submit their work through January 7, 2022.
Winners and honorable mentions will be notified in February and announced during the next edition of Coverings, the largest international tile and stone exhibition in North America, scheduled to take place in Las Vegas April 5-8, 2022. Winners will be invited to attend the show and present their projects in front of an audience of design and trade media, manufacturers, and tile industry professionals, sponsors said, In addition to a cash prize of $1,500, the four built project category winners will receive a five-day CEU trip to attend Cersaie, the world’s largest exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings, set for Sept. 26-30, 2022 in Bologna, Italy.
Competition guidelines, submission forms and additional information can be found on the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition website, www.tilecompetition.com.
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PALO ALTO, CA — U.S. homeowners are increasingly turning to their master bathroom as a safe and peaceful respite from a world that often seems chaotic and threatening, a major new survey has found.
According to the 2021 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, whose results were released last month, two in five surveyed homeowners report using their renovated bathroom for rest and relaxation. The survey also found that cleanliness and a lack of clutter are keys to creating a “spa-like atmosphere” in the bath.
The annual online survey was fielded between June and July 2021 to nearly 3,000 U.S. Houzz users who are in the midst of, are planning, or recently completed a bathroom renovation, according to the Palo Alto, CA-based online platform for home renovation and design.
“In the midst of the chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing homeowners turn to their bathrooms for respite, creating calming sanctuaries with premium features, hygienic surfaces, and plants and other greenery,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz senior economist.
“Given the major changes involved, homeowners renovating their bathrooms are (also) seeking professional help at a growing rate,” Sargsyan added.
According to Houzz, modern, transitional and contemporary styles remain the leading choices for renovated bathrooms. Other features gaining popularity include dimmable lighting and greenery. The percentage of homeowners who relax in their renovated bathroom by soaking in the tub was up six points compared to last year, outpacing the share of those who unwind with long showers, Houzz said.
More than three quarters of homeowners incorporate premium features into their bathtubs and showers, the company added. Top premium features for the bath include soaking tubs, space for two and silent whirlpool baths, while premium shower upgrades include rainfall showerheads, dual showers, body sprayers and thermostatic mixers.
Additional survey findings include:
n Marble in Vogue: Marble is being adopted at a higher rate by renovating homeowners, with increased usage in shower flooring, non-shower flooring and non-shower walls.
n Colorful Vanities: While white continues to be the dominant color chosen across all bathroom features, blue and wood vanities have become more popular over the past year, bringing warmth and texture to bathrooms.
n Lighting Upgrades: Homeowners cite both insufficient lighting and no natural lighting as issues before a bathroom renovation, which may explain why more than four in five homeowners upgraded their lighting fixtures this year, Houzz said. Wall lights and recessed lights remain the top two choices in upgraded lighting. However lighted mirrors, pendant lights and chandeliers all inched up in popularity from last year.
n Toilet Technology: More than a third of homeowners who upgraded their toilets during renovations incorporated technology. Bidets remain the most popular tech feature for one in five homeowners, followed by self-cleaning, heated seats, overflow protection and built-in nightlights.
n Lighted Mirrors: Three-quarters of renovating homeowners installed mirrors in their renovated bathroom, with over half installing more than one mirror. Some upgraded mirrors have advanced features, such as LED lighting and anti-fog systems.
n Custom Medicine Cabinets: Nearly one-third of renovating homeowners install custom or semi-custom medicine cabinets, many of which include features such as hidden plugs and lighting on the inside.
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