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Realtor.com®’s annual Hottest Zip Codes in America ranking reads like a tale of three states: California, Colorado and Michigan.

  1. Watauga, Texas (76148)
  2. Livonia, Mich. (48154)
  3. Kentwood, Mich. (49548)
  4. Medford, Mass. (02155)
  5. Littleton, Colo. (80123)
  6. Castro Valley, Calif. (94546)
  7. Colorado Springs, Colo. (80922)
  8. Overland Park, Kan. (66210)
  9. Mira Mesa (San Diego), Calif. (92126)
  10. Hilliard, Ohio (43026)

California, Colorado and Michigan nabbed six spots in the top 10 (another zip in California, 95758, stopped just shy at No. 11), thanks to three traits: affordability, good-paying jobs and millennials. Of California’s zip codes in the top 10, the median home price ranges from $536,394 (Mira Mesa/San Diego) to $728,267 (Castro Valley); of Colorado’s zip codes in the top 10, the median home price ranges from $273,222 (Colorado Springs) to $533,873 (Littleton); and of Michigan’s zip codes in the top 10, the median home price ranges from $118,833 (Kentwood) to $223,780 (Livonia).

Generally, homes in the top 10 are more affordable than counterparts in their county or metropolitan area, and the markets themselves have higher incomes, low unemployment and more millennials.

“While low inventory is a challenge, millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history and they are flexing their muscle when it comes to the housing market,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com. “Increasingly, the hottest housing markets are the ones that appeal to millennial preferences, and...

Read more: ‘Hottest Zip Codes’: A Tale of Three States

WASHINGTON (December 9, 2015) — Homeowners preparing to sell often make improvements, both big and small, to their homes that can help yield positive results and garner top dollar from buyers. According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors®, remodeling projects can also bring major benefits to homeowners who choose to remain in their homes.

"Realtors® know that certain home upgrades and remodels can be beneficial to get more buyer eyes on a property, potentially bring in more offers or gain more equity from a home," said NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida. "But remodeling projects are just as valuable to homeowners who simply want to get more joy out of their dwellings. Regardless of the situation, Realtors® know what remodeling projects bring the biggest bang for the buck and what projects are most likely to improve a homeowner's impression of their current place."

According to NAR's 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, which uncovers the reasons homeowners choose a remodel and the increased happiness certain projects bring once completed, 64 percent have experienced increased enjoyment in their home after completing a remodeling project. Additionally, 75 percent of respondents said they felt a major sense of accomplishment when thinking of their completed project. Fifty-four percent of respondents felt happy about the changes to their home, and 40 percent felt satisfied. As for their reasons to complete a remodeling project, 38 percent of homeowners said they wanted to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials; 17 percent wanted to add features and improve livability; and 13 percent believed it was time for a change.

Realtors® named kitchen upgrades, complete kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations and new wood flooring as the interior projects that most appeal to potential buyers. Similarly, Realtors® also ranked projects based on expected value at resale (without accounting for project price); the projects that ranked the highest in this category were complete kitchen renovations, kitchen upgrades, bathroom renovations and the addition of a bathroom.

When looking at the interior projects that yield the biggest financial results upon resale, Realtors® ranked hardwood flooring refinishes (100 percent of project cost recovered upon resale), insulation upgrades (95 percent recovered), new wood flooring (91 percent recovered), and converting a basement to a living area (69 percent recovered) as projects to consider.

Exterior projects are also important for both sellers and homeowners looking to increase satisfaction with their current home. Realtors® said new roofing, new vinyl windows, new garage doors and new vinyl siding are most appealing to potential buyers and are highly valued upon resale (both considering project price and disregarding project price). Upon resale, Realtors® said new roofing would recover 105 percent of its project cost, a new garage door would recover 87 percent, new vinyl siding would recover 83 percent, and new vinyl windows would bring back 80 percent of their cost. As for exterior projects that bring the most happiness for those not necessarily intending to sell, homeowners said new fiber-cement siding, new fiberglass or steel front doors, new roofing, and new garage doors brought the most satisfaction.

The 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, the first of its kind from NAR that examines personal satisfaction from remodeling projects, surveyed Realtors®, consumers who have completed their own remodeling projects, and members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

"Remodeling projects can greatly improve both the value of and satisfaction with one's home, which are great things no matter the reason for a project," said Judy Mozen, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. "This report highlights the best projects to consider in either situation and showcases just how much of a difference a good and professional remodel can make in real numbers."

Salomone said the report not only assists homeowners who are preparing to sell in choosing the best projects to attract buyers, but it also helps those looking to get more personal satisfaction out of their homes. "Realtors® know that remodeling projects aren't just done to get more money for a home once it's time to sell - a home is your sanctuary, the place you raise your family and where you make lifelong memories, which is why the report can also help consumers decide which projects could enhance their current quality of life and happiness," he said.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry is the medium for business development, a platform for advocacy and the principal source for industry intelligence. NARI connects homeowners with its professional members and provides tips and tricks so that the consumer has a positive remodeling experience.

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Read more: Homeowners Reap Remodeling Benefits Whether Selling or Staying, Say Realtors®

WASHINGTON (December 8, 2015) – The National Association of Realtors® has joined forces with Boys & Girls Clubs of America in an effort to strengthen communities and support the country’s youth.

Beginning in 2016, NAR and BGCA will begin collaborating to make a positive impact in communities across the country. Realtors® are the most trusted resource for real estate information, with unparalleled knowledge of local market conditions, while BGCA, the premier youth development organization in the U.S. serving nearly 4 million kids and teens annually, has helped put young people on a path to a great future for more than a century. Both groups are essential to their communities and integral to American society.

“BGCA has been close to my heart for many years, and as I begin my NAR presidential term, I am very excited that Realtors® will be partnering with their local Clubs and offering their time and resources to make a difference in the lives of their communities’ children,” said NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida. “Every Realtor® knows building strong communities is an important part of the job, and working with BGCA allows us the chance to contribute meaningfully to the lives of children in the neighborhoods we help to create.”

Every local Boys & Girls Clubs has specific needs, so local and state associations of Realtors® and their members will work with their local Club to determine the best way to volunteer and offer resources and have the greatest impact. Activities could include planning a clean-up day for the Club, sponsoring a holiday-themed party, offering tutoring assistance or hosting a career day for teenagers. Associations participating in the BGCA partnership may be able to meet either their “Community Involvement” or “Community Investment” requirements under NAR’s Organizational Alignment/Core Standards policy.

“We are proud to partner with NAR, state and local Realtor® associations and the more than 1 million Realtors® nationwide. This partnership will have an immediate and profound impact on Clubs, communities and most importantly, young people across the country,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of BGCA. “Realtors® live and work in every zip code in the country and, like Boys & Girls Clubs, are woven into the fabric of the communities they serve. We look forward to this impactful partnership and working together, hand-in-hand, on volunteer projects, Clubs improvements and mentoring, as well as fundraising and awareness initiatives to enable more young people to achieve great futures.”

NAR and BGCA have created a co-branded website, www.realtor.org/BGCA, as a resource for associations, members and consumers. The site includes a Club locator, toolkits for getting involved, success stories from associations, Realtor® volunteers and Boys & Girls Club alumni, as well as a list of sample volunteer activities, videos and more.

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at Facebook and Twitter.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Read more: Realtors® Partner With Boys & Girls Clubs of America

skylightIf you’re looking for a way to add style and value to your home, skylights might be the perfect solution. It will take some planning, but a well-designed skylight comes with a multitude of benefits — not just beauty and value, but possibly energy savings and health benefits, as well. Here is an in-depth look at some of the rewards that skylights can bring to your home.

Letting Natural Light into Your Home
It isn’t easy to fill your home with natural lighting. Some rooms have limited (or no) exterior walls for windows. In the rooms that do have windows, you likely use curtains or blinds for privacy. Skylights are an excellent way to bathe your home in sunlight without giving your neighbors a view.

Make sure to align your skylights according to the type of natural lighting that you want. Southern-facing skylights will give rooms a sun-kissed look, but they can also heat those rooms during the summer. Eastern- and western-facing skylights will let the light in as the sun rises or sets, and northern skylights add cooler, more diffused lighting to rooms since the sun doesn’t shine directly into them.

Saving on Heating and Cooling Bills
A poorly planned skylight can wreak havoc on your energy bills, but with some thought as to the positioning and design of your skylights, you can save money on heating and cooling costs. South-facing skylights will increase the temperature of your home year-round because they will pick up more of the sun’s rays than a skylight facing in any other...

Read more: 4 Major Perks of Adding a Skylight to Your Home

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