11/15

What Self Employed Borrowers Should Expect

 

Obtaining a home loan can seem difficult even for people who are W-2 employees.  If you are self-employed the task may seem even more daunting.  However, take hart Mr. or Mrs. Self-Employed, there is no need to fret.  Here what you can expect if you are a self-employed borrower.

1)      Expect to provide 2 years of tax returns – all schedules.  Even if your tax returns can deplete a rain forest, underwriting is going to want to see the whole thing.

2)      Expect to show a qualifying debt-to-income ratio.  If you are tempted to make a lot of deductions come tax time, it may end up biting you when you want to apply for a home loan.  For instance, if you gross $200,000 but show $150,000 in expenses, your $50,000 income may not qualify you for the $400,000 loan you need for your dream home.  Remember, for many loans, your front-end dti ratio cannot exceed 28% of your monthly income, and your back-end cannot exceed 36%

3)      Expect to plan in advance.  This is especially true if you made the big no-no of making too many deductions.  You should talk with a mortgage professional to go over guidelines and come up with what figures will be necessary for you to purchase the home you want to buy.  This may require you planning out the next few years to get everything in order.

For more information please contact one of our representatives today!

11/9

Garage organization: De-cluttering and storage tips

The garage is probably one of the most preferred stash places in your home. The attic is great, but it can be difficult to access. The basement is good, if you have one, but you might worry about dampness. Or you have a finished basement that’s already full.

Rather than continue to pack and stack boxes and bury items so deep that they are essentially lost, spend some time reorganizing your garage. Take back the space! Here are some de-cluttering and storage tips for garage organization.

  • Start with a blank canvas. Remove all the clutter from the garage. Otherwise, you will be shifting things around, not truly organizing them. Sort things out as you go. Set up bins for “Discard”, “Donate”, and “Keep”. Eliminate all items that really aren’t worthy of valuable space (like your t-shirt collection from the 80s). Will you ever repair that broken thingamajig? Be honest with yourself. If these things are buried in your garage, are they worth keeping? Once the garage is empty, sweep and clean the floor. An empty garage is perfect for cleaning the various stains and repairing cracks. You might even consider painting the floor for a really fresh start.
  • Plan the storage zones. Think about the uses of your garage: tools, car care supplies, seasonal décor and clothing, sports gear, lawn and garden care, and paint/home repair, to name a few. You probably also need an area for your trash and recycling. Once you determine the storage zones, choose the most suitable place for each, based on the frequency of use. Label each area so you know where everything will go, and you can visibly see the flow from zone to zone.
  • Design the storage spaces. Your garage offers many options for creating storage zones. In addition to the walls, you have the overhead area where you can attach hooks and shelves. You can install cabinets and pegboards. Explore the local home centers to get ideas for smart storage systems. Invest in a lockable cabinet to store potentially hazardous items (chemicals, sharp tools).
  • Respect the new and improved space. Place the items from your “Keep” stash in the designated storage zones. Give all household members a tour of the new and improved garage and remind them that your garage storage system must be maintained.

Look at your calendar and schedule a weekend for garage organization. Use the reward of not just having a perfectly organized garage but also finding the treasures that have been long lost in the clutter!

11/1

Housing Starts Strong in North Texas

Thankfully, due to the more-northern location of DFW, Hurrican Harvey’s path of destruction, so evident in the Houston area, was not duplicated in Dallas-Fort Worth.  Minimal disruption in the home building market in North Texas means the robust construction of homes continues, unabated.  Impressively, housing starts in DFW within the last 10 years have reached their highest level – this, according to Dallas-based Residential Strategies, Inc.  North Texas home starts climbed by 9.8% year-over-year during the third quarter while new-home closings increased by 14% year-over-year.

 

Ted Wilson, principal of Residential Strategies, tells us that home-builders give two reasons for the success of North Texas’ new-home sales:  price point and location in the market.

 

Pricing and Buyers

It should, probably, come as no surprise that homes priced at $500,000 or more are not selling as readily as they did in the past.  Prospective buyers are not as willing to cater, as they have been, to further price increases.  And who can blame them?  Residential Strategies shares an astounding fact:  Over the last six years, Dallas home prices have risen by a whopping 52.7%!  Because of buyers’ demands, builders of homes in the $500,000 and higher bracket are adding incentives and discounts.

 

The millennials, as a home-buying group, are positively impacting the housing market.  Wilson strongly believes this group of young adults, as home-buyers, will remain robust for a good five years.  Because of the buying potential that millennials offer, home-builders are zeroing on more-moderately-priced homes in the $200,000 to $500,000 range.  It is within this price range that the most growth has occurred for new-home starts – a 14.5% increase year-over-year, ending in the third quarter.

 

Builders responding to home-buyers desiring more-affordable housing options has paid off.  Wilson says home prices under $300,000 were brisk throughout the 2nd quarter of 2017.  The influx of new homes priced under $300,000 has pushed the quarterly home starts, of 8,912, to the highest level North Texas has experienced since the fourth quarter of 2006!

 

And what about housing starts for homes priced under $200,000?  Interestingly, they decreased by 16.5% year-over-year in the third quarter due, mainly, to the price of land.  This is frustrating for home-builders and potential home-buyers, alike.  Wilson says there is no lack of demand for homes under $200,000 but the difficulty rests with actually locating more-reasonably priced land that would yield lots for less than $40,000.

 

More Homes Needed

Residential Strategies goes on to tell us that, as of right now, there is a 2.66 month supply of new-home inventory which equates to 22,475 homes on the North Texas market.  That figure is well below what is considered equilibrium, which would be a six-month supply.  Along with that, tens-of-thousands of new residents flock into North Texas each year; and North Texas has added 682,200 new new net jobs over the last seven years – an expansion of its workforce by 23%.  What it all boils down to is the fact that even though builders are feverishly constructing homes in North Texas, it will take a while for the new housing supply to be more buyer-accommodating, in terms of sheer numbers.

11/1

Has the Dallas-Area Home Market, Peaked?

Dallas has maintained its real-estate reputation as a hot-spot when it comes to the housing market.  Case in point:  One of the things Realtor.com does is generate rankings concerning the hottest home markets in America.  The DFW area is included on its latest rankings list and is rubbing shoulders with Silicon Valley and San Francisco in terms of locations where residential transactions are known to move the quickest – this is in-spite of the fact that DFW’s home prices are rising faster than the national average.  Stunningly, since 2013, home prices have increased by more than 40% in the DFW area; and this has severely outpaced income growth.

 

There is a new breeze blowing in a different direction, however.  Dallas News tells us that, in North Texas, fewer bidding wars for properties are taking place; and buyers are not as willing to invest in residences that are overpriced – something buyers were more willing to do, over that last few years.  Sellers shouldn’t be too quick to assume overpriced homes will continue to be quickly sold.  It is a fact, right now, that many North Texas neighborhoods have their ‘For Sale’ signs in their yards, longer.

 

More Housing Inventory

The number of homes in the North Texas market is becoming more generous.  Listed homes associated with real-estate agents in this region was almost 22,300 during October 2017 which represents an 11% increase from September 2016.  This is positive news when one realizes tens of thousands of people move into North Texas each year; and having ample housing inventory is crucial.

 

If we look back over the past few years, we find a shortage of homes for sale in DFW; and those shortages have be unprecedented.  As a result, housing prices skyrocketed due to a sellers’ market.  Currently, we find about a 3-month supply of listed homes; but that is, still, only about 50% of what it should be.  There is still a shortage of moderately-priced properties on the market – those homes that are under $250,000.  DFW homes in this price category created the largest increases in sales for 2017 which shouldn’t be too surprising due to the affordability factor.

 

Housing Prices

Dallas News shares some interesting info:  The first nine months of 2017 experienced a 9% increase in the median price of sold homes in North Texas when compared with the median price of sold homes during the first nine months of 2016.  That 9% figure is two or three times the conventional price growth in the housing market; though, it is a bit of a slowdown of recent gains of 10%-12% a year.

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index is one of the most closely-monitored housing value measures.  In its latest report, it states that Dallas-area home-price increases have been at the slowest pace since the middle of 2014.

 

Higher-priced DFW homes that are valued above $500,000 are experiencing slower sales in 2017 compared to 2016 – this, according to local real-estate agents.  Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center, says:  “You’ve still got a good market – just a little slower that what we’ve recently seen.  We’ve seen a several-year run of way-above average growth in home prices.  You don’t want to see prices jumping up so high since that causes problems with affordability.  Things are getting back to normal with a more-balanced market.” Gaines is confident DFW home prices will continue to rise in 2018, but not at double-digit percentage rates.

11/1

Five Good Reasons to Make Dallas Your Home

If you are thinking about moving to a locale filled with diversity, a robust economy and a plethora of family-friendly cultural and recreational options, then Dallas could, very well, be exactly what you are looking for.  According to The Dallas Morning News, Dallas ranked #1 out of the top-ten cities in the US, in 2016, as the hottest city for relocation for professional reasons and employment opportunities.  Along with that impressive statistic, Dallas attracts nearly 80,000 people every year for a myriad of reasons and, according to D Magazine, Dallas positioned itself as #1 in the nation for population growth, in 2016.

 

Want to know more? – Here are five reasons why you just might want to consider this powerhouse of a city as your next home.

 

The Economy

Dallas residents enjoy a robust real-estate market, reflective of an economy that is thriving.  With jobs and population that are continually expanding, home-owners relish the economic strength Dallas offers where the stability of homes’ market values remain very strong.  New-home construction is potent; and one of D Magazine‘s headlines in 2016 was:  “The Hottest Dallas Real Estate Market, Ever! (Still!)”.  Zillow tells us that the double-digit appreciation of home values positions Dallas as one of the fastest-growing real-estate markets, anywhere.

 

Workers, companies and investors continue to flock into this thriving metro region; and Dallas can boast of being home to 18 of the Fortune 500 companies and 18 of the top wealth holders on Forbes Magazine’s list of richest billionaires.  According to the North Texas Commission, DFW has the 4th highest GDP in the country.

 

The Jobs

For the past several years, Dallas has been embedded in the Forbes’ list of America’s fastest-growing cities.  Due to this area of Texas being an economic powerhouse, new residents continue to flock into the DFW metro area.  New college grads are drawn to companies such as Toyota, Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Exxon, Texas Instrument, Dr. Pepper/Snapple, and more.

 

Dallas is a hotbed for commerce; and with population increases, relocations and overall increases in productivity, Dallas is, according to the North Texas Commission: “The best place for anyone to be”.  Due to Texas’ business-friendly environment, major companies are leaving states, such as California and others, and many are setting up shop in Dallas; and those companies are creating thousands of jobs.  Bloomberg – a major global provider of financial news which operates 24/7 – tell us that as of 2015, Dallas has added jobs at a faster pace than any of the nation’s other 15-largest metro areas.  Bloomberg continues, by saying:  “Metro Dallas has been, by just about every metric, the nation’s job-creation leader, with pay being above the national average.”

 

The Amenities

The types of amenities residents enjoy, here, is a huge part of what makes the Dallas area so coveted.  A mere sliver of amenities that stand out, include the following:

 

***  DFW International Airport is the 2nd-largest, in acreage, of US airports and is the only airport in the world with 7 operational runways – O’Hare has 7, but only 6 are operational.  Dallas Love Field Airport is located only 7 miles from Dallas’ downtown central business district.  A bit of trivia:  DFW Airport covers a land mass almost larger than Manhattan and hosts the largest parking lot in the world, with 40,000 spaces.  Whether one wishes to travel nationally or internationally, the close proximity of both airports is a huge convenience for those, especially, who travel on a regular basis.

 

***  Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail line provides efficiency and ease of commuting to work, entertainment venues, sports activities,  shopping districts, educational facilities and more.  The Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail line moves 220,000 passengers, every day!

 

***  Four Major Sports Leagues offer exciting family entertainment throughout the year:  The Dallas Cowboys (football), the Texas Rangers (baseball), the Dallas Mavericks (basketball), and the Dallas Stars (hockey).

 

*** Six Flags Over Texas is a world-class theme park that covers 212 acres with more than 100 rides.

 

***  White Rock Lake spans 1,000 acres where seagulls, herons, and pelicans congregate while fun-lovers enjoy sailing, paddle boats, fishing, hiking and more.

 

The Education

If seeking a higher-education is on your agenda, Dallas has no shortage of colleges and specialty schools in or around the metro.  In fact, there are 45 colleges within 40 miles of Dallas with well over a dozen educational institutions within Dallas, itself.  For beginners, there is El Centro College which is a small, 2-year community facility.  It offers undergraduate programs for any high-school graduate or GED-holding student.  KD Conservatory College of Film and Dramatic Arts is a personalized 2-year, private college where undergraduate programs are available.  Are you wishing to attend a religiously-affiliated university?  If so, Southern Methodist University is a mid-size, 4-year private college where under-grad and graduate programs are offered that are affiliated with the United Methodist faith.  Also, the Dallas Christian College is a 4-year, private college connected with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ faith.  Perhaps Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Dallas or the University of Phoenix Dallas Campus might trip your academic trigger – regardless of your interest, there is no shortage of choices when it comes to broadening one’s educational horizons!

 

The Shopping and Eateries

Though shopping would, indeed, fall under the category of “amenities”, in this case, it deserves it’s own attention since one of the best things to do in downtown Dallas is shop.  Take, for example, the city’s West End Historic District – it’s a hot-spot for locals as well as tourists.  Here, one will experience an ambiance of charm and delight coupled with an eclectic atmosphere.  With more than 675 acres, this prized destination is embedded with diverse restaurants, museums, shops, horse-drawn carriage rides, and entertainment.  Kiss Bartique is a stunning boutique for fashion lovers; Kokopelli Candy is filled with chocolates, nostalgic candy & hand-made cookies; and Wild Bill’s Western Store is an 1800’s redbrick building where one will find leather boots, hats, belts/buckles and handmade jewelry – these delicious options are only the tip of the shopping iceberg!

 

The Uptown area features a multitude of trendy, international chains; and nearby Highland Park offers upscale boutiques.  Then, there is the huge Galleria in north Dallas which features a gigantic ice-skating rink with a delightful kids’ play area.  The trendy Knox-Henderson area provides a plethora of home goods and furnishing outlets.  One can immerse oneself in over-the-top luxury boutiques where Gucci, Prada and Chanel strut their stuff as well as venues with less-exclusive options.  Perhaps, Dallas’ most-famous shopping destination would be the renowned Neiman Marcus which is headquartered in the Big D.  The old Main Street store remains Neiman Marcus’ flagship location.

 

After it’s all said and done, it cannot be argued that Dallas is alive with excitement, on so many levels!  One has access to a lifetime of arts and entertainment opportunities, a myriad of educational options,  never-ending sporting events, and a growing economy.  Dallas is a wonderfully exciting place to call home!

11/1

Money Pit or Dream Home?

There are, indeed, advantages to holding on to an older home just like there are benefits to buying a new home, instead.  It can’t be denied, however, that older homes can become money pits as they age:  HVAC systems break down, old windows invite heat and cold to enter, mold/mildew/termites can be hiding behind drywall, and structural problems can create a shift in the framing.  Whether a homeowner is dealing with consistently minor problems or an emergence of very costly ones, a home that drains one’s wallet is cause for concern in itself; yet once those costly improvements are addressed, homeowners can be in for an additional expense: raised property taxes.  Property taxes are based on the market value of a home; and once a home’s value has increased, property taxes do, as well.

 

After it’s all said and done, one has to ask oneself:  “Do I really want to allow this home to nickel and dime me or do I want to build the home of my dreams and gain peace of mind knowing everything is new, from top to bottom?

 

Here are only a few reasons why ditching a money-pit and building a new home make so much sense:

 

Personal Style is Included

When one decides to purchase a new home, perks abound; and one of those perks would be customization.  Buyers can participate in the process of creating a living space specifically tailored to one’s personal preferences.  Flooring, counter-tops, cabinetry and other niceties can be selected by the new-home owner where one can display one’s personal signature on the finished product.  Even if a new home is already under construction, buyers can step in and select finishing touches before construction is completed.

 

Energy Efficiency is Optimized

The building envelope of new homes translates into impressive energy efficiency.  New building codes demand much higher energy-efficiency standards; and top-quality new homes will meet or exceed energy-efficiency requirements.  For example, a tighter-sealed building envelope prevents conditioned air (whether cool or warm) from escaping.  Low E windows have protective coatings that keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer.  High-efficiency HVAC systems along with sealed air ducts and programmable thermostats help equipment operate far more efficiency.  When sustainable building products are combined as an entire energy-management system, homeowners win and so does the environment!

 

Utility Bills are Minimized

Reducing utility bills is of great interest to any home-owner; and newly-constructed homes which include ‘green’ systems and appliances allow homeowners to put more money in their pockets.  Energy-Star appliances –whether stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers, water heaters, furnaces and AC systems –  perform, collectively, to make a noticeable impact with reduced utility bills.

 

As a side note, emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants are greatly reduced when high-efficiency features are utilized, thereby, leaving a smaller footprint on the environment.

 

Everything is New

Perhaps you know, first-hand, how ongoing maintenance and repairs in an older home are emotionally and financially daunting.  The monetary burden associated with remedying mold, faulty electrical systems, broken-down AC units, or termite or structural damage, for example, can run into many thousands of dollars.  New homes, on the other hand, offer everything new – from the roof, to the plumbing, to HVAC systems to electrical components – and new homes are carefully inspected by building officials to ensure they fully comply with strict building codes.

 

You are the first to walk barefoot on your floors, the first to relax in your shiny new tub, and the first to use those gorgeous new appliances.  That feeling of ‘new’ is a feeling of excitement and anticipation in addition to peace of mind knowing maintenance issues from an older home have become a distant memory.

 

Lifestyles are Enhanced

 

Many new-home projects are part of what are called ‘master-planned communities’ which are exquisitely designed to offer a multitude of coveted amenities.  Those amenities can include parks, bike and hike trails, community pools and clubhouses, golf courses, amphitheaters, easy access to schools and transit, lakeside living, and more.  In master-planned communities, the number and variety of amenities are, noticeably, above and beyond what one would experience in a normal plan for a housing subdivision or in an area where one would find older, more-traditional homes.

 

Master-planned communities are about enjoying how one lives where lakes or hike trails, as well as thematic or seasonal, events, encourage family members to spend time together and neighbors to become close friends – the actual ‘feel’ of the community comes alive due to the elevated quality of life.

 

Leave the worry and frustration of an older home behind and set your sights on a dream home that can become your reality!

11/1

What is the Uniform Residential Loan Application?

If you’ve ever applied for a home loan you know there are a lot of forms to fill and paper work to gather. One of these standard forms is called the Uniform Residential Loan Application, also know as a 1003 (ten-o-three).
The 1003 form has all the pertinent information about a borrower that a lender needs to qualify her or him for a home loan.
The Uniform Residential Loan Application consists of ten sections which are as follows:
  1. The Type of Loan being applied for, for example: conventional, FHA, or Jumbo
  2. Information about the property, such as its address, as well as how the property will be used: Will it be a primary residence, secondary residence, or investment property?
  3. Personal information about the borrower, including: date of birth, social security number, marital status, and address information
  4. Employment information – Are you self employed, employed by other? Name of employer, and length of employment etc.
  5. Income and expenses – How much money the borrower makes monthly, as well as monthly recurring debt like credit card payments, student loans, other mortgage payments, etc.
  6. Assets such as savings accounts, 401K, and liabilities such as child support payments, or liens.
  7. Transaction Details – Details items such as closing costs, points being paid (if any), and total loan amount
  8. Declarations – Other information about the borrower such as – citizenship, past credit delinquencies, and bankruptcy history
  9. Acknowledgement – Signed portion of the form that shows you have read through the terms and obligations
  10. Government Tracking Form – Information about the borrower that the government can use for statistical purposes
It’s very important that the information on this form is as accurate as possible, because it will be reviewed by underwriting along with all supporting information, and effects loan approval.
For more information about the Uniform Residential Loan Application or other loan forms, please contact us today.
10/26

Look ahead at kitchen cabinetry trends for 2018

One of the first things people notice when they walk into your kitchen are the cabinets. Your choice is a major factor in both the aesthetics and the function of this all-important room. Before you decide on the kitchen cabinets for your new home or renovation, consider some of the style shifts happening. Here’s a look ahead at kitchen cabinetry trends for 2018.

You can never go wrong with white or light. White, off-white, and light gray continue to dominate kitchen cabinet colors. The brightness these neutral tones bring to your kitchen is unbeatable, and they work with just about any color you want in the room.

Mix and match. You don’t have to choose just one color for your cabinets. Kitchen designers are leaning toward one color for the base and another for the wall, or a complementary color for the island.

Put more behind the doors. Today’s (and tomorrow’s) cabinets are more efficient than their ancestors were. Pull-out drawers and shelves enable more efficient usage. A narrow, vertical cabinet door can hide a sliding spice rack or pull-out holder for trays, cookie sheets, and racks. Deep drawers provide more convenient access to your dishes.

Raise your cabinet standards. You know that gap between the top of your cabinets and the kitchen ceiling where you either display things or stash them? Cabinetry is now reaching to the ceiling, a design trend that gives the perception of a bigger room.

Show-offs. Glass doors on some of your upper cabinets allow you to proudly display your most eye-catching pieces, like crystal, pottery, dishware, and kitchen collectibles.

I know the fridge is here somewhere. If you find the front of your refrigerator or microwave a bit disruptive, you’ll appreciate the trend toward masking them with a door that matches your kitchen cabinets.

Mix in a few shelves. Open, “floating” shelves in a contrasting material—like rustic wood with white cabinetry—and a few less cabinets add an airy feeling to the kitchen.

Unjunk your junk drawers. The kitchen drawers are now featuring dividers and even multiple tiers to make organization easier than ever. Whether you’re separating silverware or the mounds of miscellany, these new and improved kitchen drawers are the clutterbug’s new best friend.

Park your appliance in a cabinet garage. Homeowners want a tidier look to their kitchen, so a place to store your small appliances (toaster, coffee maker, mixer, juicer) out of sight, but not out of reach, is essential.

Accessorize. Kitchen cabinets are being finished with more accents that resemble fine furniture. Decorative corbels, carved feet, moldings, and arches are easy ways to embellish your kitchen’s style.

You spend a lot of time in your kitchen. Why not make it as stylish as every other room in your home?

10/25

The 27th Annual SMU Cox Dallas 100™ Awards Ceremony and Banquet

The 27th Annual SMU Cox Dallas 100™ Awards Ceremony and Banquet will be held at the Omni Hotel on Thursday, November 16 at the Omni Dallas Hotel, 555 S. Lamar Street in downtown Dallas.

The Cox School’s Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship ranks the top 100 Dallas entrepreneurial companies annually based on percentage growth and absolute dollar growth over the previous three years. The Institute, working with the accounting firm BKD LLP CPA and Advisors examined sales from hundreds of companies for 2014 to 2016, the last year for which complete data is available. The winners represent a broad spectrum of Dallas-area businesses. The ranking of the top 100 fastest-growing companies will be revealed at the awards ceremony.

Dallas 100™, co-founded by the Caruth Institute, honors the ingenuity, commitment and perseverance of the fastest-growing privately held entrepreneurial businesses in the Dallas area. According to Caruth Institute data, this year’s winning companies collectively generated billions of dollars in sales over just the past three years.

According to Jerry White, the Linda A. and Kenneth R. Morris Endowed Director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship, “The entrepreneurial spirit that drives these companies helps make Dallas a dynamic city for business. We feel it’s only right to shine the spotlight on their hard work and the contributions they make to our economy.”

The Dallas 100™, presented by the Caruth Institute at SMU Cox, was sponsored this year by Avison Young; BKD LLP; CARR Intellectual Property Law; Mass Mutual; Allegiant Wealth Management; The Dallas Business Journal; Executive Press; and KRLD 1080 News Radio. The event recognizes fast-growing privately held corporations, proprietorships or partnerships headquartered in the Dallas area that often don’t get attention, but which have created jobs and generated wealth for their founders and employees and dramatically enhanced the area economy.

For event information, contact: D100info@smu.edu or 214.768.3689

10/12

Tips for choosing the right wall colors for your home

For some people, changing colors in a room is like changing your hairstyle. It’s nice to try something different—and it’s easy enough to change back if you don’t like the result. For others, the prospect of switching is a scary proposition.

Painting a room is one of the most affordable ways to make a big change in your home. The only hard part can be the color choice. Looking at the array of paint chips in the store can be overwhelming. Before you head there, narrow down your choices.

Here are some tips for choosing the right wall colors for your home.

Look at your wardrobe. What colors do you like to wear? That’s a big clue to your color preferences. If you’re drawn to neutral colors, you’re comfortable with those soft shades, making this palette a smart choice for your interior walls. If your penchant for lime green or sunshine orange feels too daring for your walls, tone it down a bit.

Inspect your photos, artwork, and other accents. What colors prevail? You chose these decorative pieces for the message they communicate, but was color a factor as well?

Pull the paint color from a print. You might have a favorite pillow, upholstered chair, or even table linens. Zoom in on the shades that might work well on your wall. Take the fabric to the paint store and ask them to match it.

Use a color wheel. See how colors relate to each other. A color wheel gives insight into the hues that work harmoniously together. You might like a monochromatic color scheme, with variations of a particular color (lightness and saturation). A complementary color scheme uses colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, usually a warm and a cool one (yellow and blue, for example). An analogous color scheme combines colors that are next to each other, like blue and green, or orange and red, and varying shades of those colors. There are several other options for color schemes, but this will get you started. Once you choose the color scheme, you build your palette of specific colors.

Check out color trends. Home décor colors are like fashion. They change with the seasons and the years. Greenery was the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year. The foliage-inspired shade is like a springtime refresh. Home décor watchers are expecting 2018 interior color palettes to move from pastels to more intense hues. With palettes named “Far-fetched”, ”Resourceful”, and “Resourceful”, you might find one to suit your taste.

Think holistically. Your house is a sum of its parts, which includes your wall colors. Make sure you have smooth flow from room to room. This is where organizing a whole-house color palette will help.