Read more: Real Estate Lessons From the Design World
“The interior space can enhance emotional experiences,” says Wayne Visbeen, an architect in Grand Rapids, Mich.
A room’s ability to evoke positive emotions and memories is directly tied to the design and amenities of that room, suggests a study sponsored by Napoleon Fireplace, which sought to identify the emotional connections homeowners have with their homes.
For example, features like fireplaces, high ceilings, and built-ins can help increase the appeal of rooms, the study noted.
The most popular areas of the home are centered around three elements: socializing, relaxation, and function. The greater of these elements a room has, the better job it does in creating a “hot spot,” researchers note.
BUILDER offers up an example: Designers can add a socialization space to a kitchen with an island or wet bar. Or, they can integrate the dining room with the kitchen to add greater functionality.
Visbeen and David Brown, partner at Hoffman York, a marketing and ad agency in Milwaukee, also said more emphasis should be placed on the design of the master suite. They say a “transition space” can make the bedroom feel more separate from the master bath and closet. This could be done in smaller areas too, such as with a small vestibule between the closet and bathroom. Then, “if one partner is getting ready in the morning and one is sleeping it’s a really nice feature,” Visbeen says.
Also, they emphasize accenting the fireplace in a home. Many special moments often occur around a fireplace, they say. Make sure to spotlight it or even add a firepit at the front entrance too.
Source: “Energize Buyers With Design Hot Spots,” BUILDER (Jan. 11, 2017)
In one session, Deryl Patterson, president of Housing Design Matters in Jacksonville, Fla., offered ideas of how to design, remodel, and market spaces so that they’ll be more appealing to older home buyers. She says one important element is to avoid treating baby boomer clients as if they’ve suddenly developed a whole new set of living preferences. Patterson told attendees it makes more sense to think of boomers as “mature” in the sense that they are experienced buyers who know what they want. She described their mindset about their home purchase as: “I’m going to do it right this time, finally.”
Here are some home features you can be on the lookout for when working with buyers in the 55-and-over age group, or items you can emphasize if you’re trying to ensure your listing appeals to them.
More ideas: Creative Ways to Market Odd Spaces
- Rethink the laundry room. After the kids move out, many home owners spend less time in the laundry room, but that doesn’t mean they want to ditch it entirely. As the house becomes less chore-centric, Patterson says, home owners are more prone to focus on fun. Try carving out a space for crafts or pet care if a huge laundry room feels like a waste of space to buyers.
- Boost the light. Patterson noted that as people age, the lens of the eye thickens and lets in less light. This means a 60-year-old needs six times as much light as a 20-year-old. Look for inexpensive ways to add light in unexpected places, such as inside drawers and cabinets.
- Be subtle about accessible features. Everyone wants to be able to age in place, but few want to think of a time when they’ll be physically limited. Thankfully, many features that make a home more navigable and safer for those with mobility issues aren’t very obvious, such as even, level surfaces that make it easier for those using wheelchairs, canes, or walkers. Patterson also noted that many bathroom product manufacturers are now making grab bars that look more like shelves and towel racks than institutional-style safety features.
- Point out low-maintenance features. Patterson said one of the first things that comes to mind when people are looking for a low-maintenance home is the size of the lawn, but she noted that there’s much more to taking care of a home than that. “I want you to think beyond yard maintenance,” she told attendees. She noted that stain-resistant quartz countertops and roofs that don’t have nooks where leaves can collect can be important qualities of a listing.
- Examine where the stairs lead. Steps can be problematic for those with mobility issues, but they aren’t an automatic no-no for communities targeted at older buyers. It just depends on what’s at the top of the staircase. A bunk room for the grandkids or an exercise room is a much better use for second- and third-floor space than a master bedroom or another place the primary resident might have to visit frequently. Also, landings and railings are both safety musts, Patterson says. “Stairs are the number one reason people go to the emergency room, and not just those over 55.”
—Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine
Some home sellers use the holidays to showcase the warmth and character of their home to potential buyers. But they need to be careful not to cover up their home’s finest attributes with their festivity.
Read more: Rules for Tasteful Holiday Décor
A recent article at Houzz provides some of the following tips for holiday decorating when your home is for sale:
Watch the size of the decorations. Displaying large multipiece holiday decorations on your fireplace, for example, may cover up this important selling feature. Ask yourself: Does this piece positive showcase the space, light, and charm of the room? Or does its large size distract from it? This includes the Christmas tree. Owners may want to choose a smaller size when they’re selling because larger trees and decorations can make a room appear smaller, notes Houzz columnist Neila Deen.
Don’t block the light. Make sure the holiday décor doesn’t cover up any natural light from windows and doors. Sure, owners love to display their Christmas trees in front of windows so you can see it from the outside. But they need to realize that they could be covering up a picturesque window as well as making a room appear darker. Instead, place the tree far away from the window so that it isn’t blocking any natural light from flowing in.
Coordinate colors. Keep the holiday décor in line with the room’s overall color-coordinated design. If the holiday decorations clash with a current color scheme, don’t use them. Metallics – gold, silver, or copper — are a good way to add holiday décor accents without fears of clashing. White also can be a good choice. Consider swapping out multicolored tree lights with sparkling white lights for a more elegant choice, Deen notes.
Here are some tips from realtor.com® recently for pet-proofing a listing prior to a showing:
Get the yard ready. Make sure the yard is clear of any pet droppings, and repair any spots where the family dog may have been digging holes. Be sure to double-bag any waste so it doesn’t smell up garbage cans in the garage. Also, address any brown or yellow spots in the yard created by pets’ urine. Realtor.com® suggests aerating and seeding any bare spots, or even consider replacing patches with new sod.
Watch the smells. Have a professional service clean the carpets and rugs to help remove pet odors. If the odor is too potent, replacing the carpet entirely may be necessary. Also, encourage clients to bathe their pets regularly to help prevent odors.
Check your insurance. An unknown visitor entering your clients’ home may prompt even a normally calm pet to lash out. If a potential buyer is scratched or bitten by a pet, your client could be held liable. Have your client check their homeowners insurance to see if they’re covered for such incidents. If their pet isn’t covered, it may be best to keep the animal out of the house during showings.
Stow away the evidence. Ask that all pet caretaking items — leashes, toys, water bowls — be put away during a showing. Don’t forget the cat’s litter box, too!
Crate or relocate. If the pets must stay during showings, ask your client to crate them or confine them to an area. Warn other real estate professionals the pets are there so they can let their clients know. The best-case scenario is that your clients will relocate their pets during the showing so they won’t distract potential buyers.
Source: “6 Essential Steps for Selling a Home with Pets,” realtor.com® (Oct. 25, 2016)
Read more: 9 Basement Revamp Mistakes to Avoid
“Buyers will definitely poke their heads down in this cold, dark place,” notes an article at realtor.com®. “So, imagine their pleasant surprise when it’s actually a functional, comfortable room where they might even want to hang out.”
Here are a few tips:
Declutter: The basement can be prime spot for towers of boxes and piles of belongings. “Make sure the space is organized and doesn’t appear to be a dumping ground,” Katie McCann, a professional organizer with Maeve’s Method, told realtor.com®. Add storage bins or shelving to give everything its place. And instead of showing it as a dumping ground show it as the perfect spot for organized storage.
Add some cosmetic improvements: “This part of the house often gets more wear and tear than the other rooms, so invest in new carpeting for a fresh feel and repaint the walls,” suggests Gale Sitomer of Gale Sitomer Interior Design in New York City.
Watch the smell: Address any musty odors. “Keep a fan on for circulation, and use subtle air fresheners as needed,” Lisa and Chris Gulliver with Showhomes suggests. For a damp basement, buy a dehumidifier.
Brighten up the space: Don’t let the space feel dark and cold. Sitomer suggests painting the walls an off-white, use light-colored window treatments, and adding in plenty of lamps to warm up the area.
Show the possibilities: “Where possible, try to include a spot to watch TV, a place to lounge at one end, and a kids’ play area a the other,” suggests Jack Menashe, an interior designer and owner of Menashe Design. He also recommends an open library wall in-between spaces as a stylish way to help define the separate areas.
Source: “Home Staging Ideas to Take Your Basement to the Top,” realtor.com® (Sept 16, 2016)
Want summer comfort but hate the AC? Follow these tips on how to keep your house cool without frosty air conditioning.
You don’t have to switch on the air conditioner to get a big chill this summer.
These tips will help you keep your house cool without AC, which will save energy (and avoid AC wars with your family.
Block That Sun!
When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.
Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.
Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.
Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.
Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.
Here’s more information about energy-efficient window coverings.
Open Those Windows
Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.
To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.
- Fix Energy-Sucking Windows for Good
- Repair or Replace Your Old Windows?
Fire Up Fans
Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.
Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.
Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.
Power Down Appliances
You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.
Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.
Plant Trees and Vines
These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.
Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.
Climbing vines, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.
Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.
Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.
Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup.
Daily Real Estate News | Monday, July 25, 2016
Houses built for sale took the shortest amount of time – 6 months to complete after obtaining building permits. On the other hand, homes built by owners averaged the longest time at nearly a year. Homes built for rent averaged about 9 months from permit to completion, the data shows.
Home buyers will likely have the longest waits for their new home in the New England area, which had the longest time from permit to completion at 10 months. On the other hand, the Mountain region had the shortest amount of time at 6 months. The region also has the shortest waiting period from permit to construction start.
Here’s a breakdown by region of the average months from permit to completion of single-family new homes:
- Pacific: 8 months
- Mountain: 6 months
- West north Central: 8 months
- West South Central: 7 months
- East North Central: 8 months
- New England: 10 months
- Middle Atlantic: 10 months
- South Atlantic: 6 months
The Census data also reveals the average days by region from permit to start on the new home:
- Pacific: 31 days
- Mountain: 15 days
- West North Central: 20 days
- West South Central: 35 days
- East North Central: 23 days
- East South Central: 25 days
- New England: 28 days
- Middle Atlantic: 27 days
- South Atlantic: 27 days
Homes in metro areas took, on average, nearly 7.5 months to complete, about 2 months shorter than homes started in non-metro areas.
The data also shows that in 2015 the share of single-family homes sold while under construction was 66 percent. Thirty-two percent of those homes sold before the construction started and 12 percent sold during the same month of completion, according to the Census data. The percentage of single-family homes completed last year that were unsold was only 6 percent, as of the first quarter of 2016.
Source: “Time to Build a Single-Family Home in 2015,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (July 20, 2016)
Read more: How Long It Takes to Save for a Down Payment
In honor of American Housing Month, the American Bankers Association Foundation recently featured several tips to help consumers cut their household costs and start saving for a down payment.
Determine how much you need. Find out how much you’ll need for a down payment. From there, create a budget by figuring how much you can realistically set aside each month. Then, you can set a timeline.
Create a separate savings account. Separate a savings account that is just for the down payment. Make monthly contributions automatic.
Find ways to reduce your monthly bills. Check your car insurance, renter’s insurance, health insurance, cable and Internet plan rates. See if there are any promotions that could help you save money by revisiting your contracts.
Investigate state and local home-buying programs. Several state, counties, and local governments offer first-time home buyer programs that offer down payment assistance. Find out if you’re eligible for one.
Celebrate. Set smaller savings goals as you work up to the larger goal. For example, if you need to save $30,000, celebrate — such as with a nice meal — every time you hit the $5,000 saving milestone. “This will help you stay motivated throughout the process,” ABA notes.
Source: American Bankers Association