Put the Cool Back in Ranch-Style Homes

Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Re-posted from This common, one-story house with a low profile has a distinguished American pedigree. Yet, for decades it’s been overshadowed. As the ranch again attracts attention, learn about its best features and how older, dated examples can become strikingly modern.   January 2016 by Barbara Ballinger Cliff May, considered the father of the ranch house, drew his inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-style and Usonian homes, as well as later Arts & Crafts designs. May designed and built these ranch homes in Southern California from the 1930s on with a goal to develop a prototype that would suit home owners in a warm climate who favored informal living and easy outdoor access. After the Second World War, developers borrowed May’s concept to construct small variations quickly and affordably and meet growing housing demand. Some ranch-style homes were cranked out, cookie-cutter-style, in large tract developments such as Levittown on New York’s Long Island. Yet at the same time, other iterations grew into more sophisticated “California Modern” designs in the hands of developers such as Joseph Eichler, who had lived in a Wright home. Hot, Then Not In more recent times, the popularity of ranches has waxed and waned, depending on typical homebuying criteria: location, condition, and price. In Southern California, they remain a favorite that can command top dollar, especially if they’re near the ocean and good schools, says Kelly Morgan, sales associate with Troop Real Estate in Westlake Village, Calif. “A single-story in Thousand Oaks, closer to water, will bring a higher price than in Santa Clarita,” she says. Back East, they remain popular on New York’s Staten Island because they’re among the more affordable options and offer relatively open plans as opposed to Colonial- and Victorian-style layouts, says broker-owner Holly Wiesner Olivieri of Holly’s Staten Island Buzz. She and her husband bought a ranch 17 years ago for its private cul-de-sac location, proximity by ferry to Manhattan, and handyman-special price. In other parts of the Northeast and Midwest, ranches can be a tougher sell, as more home owners typically prefer a two-story Colonial or Cape, says Connecticut architect Duo Dickinson. Who’s Buying Now? Overall, the greatest interest nationwide is coming from two demographics: Young couples find them an affordable entry-level option that they see remodeled and decorated often, thanks to HGTV shows and hipster home magazines. “It’s the style that appeals to the young ‘hip’ L.A. buyer who’s interested in simplicity,” says Kate Guinzburg, a partner at Deasy/Penner and Partners, a Los Angeles real estate firm that specializes in mid-century modern and other styles of homes. And in certain markets like Austin, Texas, it’s a style that’s prevalent in neighborhoods that are close to downtown, which appeals to a young professional segment of buyers who want to avoid long commutes as their city gets more congested, says Austin-based builder Dominique Levesque of Another Great House. The second big cohort is baby boomers looking to downsize to one level and gain more maintenance-free living but remain in a single-family home environment. Craig McMahon, whose eponymous firm is in San Antonio, Texas., says boomers might also be inclined to choose a ranch when looking for a second home. To take advantage of this ranch revival, share with clients how these homes can both be livable and convey mid-century cool:...

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4 Surefire Tips for Better Listing Photos

Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Re-posted from [Editor’s note: This article is addressed to real estate brokers. But who says the homeowner him- or herself can’t take the photos? Our recommendation is to hire a professional but, if that’s out of the question and you’re broker isn’t a professional photographer, you can take on the challenge yourself. Just read and follow the steps below!] Simply understanding how to use a few key camera settings and pieces of equipment can make all the difference. May 2017 by Erin Vaughan             It can’t be stressed enough: Great photos help sell homes. The National Association of REALTORS®’ own research shows that well over 90 percent of home shoppers look online for at least a part of their search. For almost half of all buyers, accessing digital listings is the very first step in their process. And while there’s been much speculation as to the homebuying behaviors of millennials, this much is known for sure: Digital natives are much more comfortable with browsing home listings from mobile devices. None of this is breaking news, but it does highlight just how important digital representation can be when you’re trying to show a home. One industry study found that when listings were accompanied by high-quality photos taken with professional equipment, they spent significantly less time on the market and fetched a premium of $3,400 on average. Unfortunately, interior shots pose a variety of photographic challenges that are difficult for amateur photographers. Real estate pros shouldn’t be expected to transform overnight into professional camera wielders, but you can certainly benefit from a few tricks up your sleeve and some decent equipment. Don’t Turn Toward the Light   This scenario might feel familiar: You want to show off the new windows in your client’s living room, but every time you snap a photo, the image is totally blown out. Photos with dark foregrounds and overexposed windows are a common problem that happens when ambient light from the outdoors tricks the camera’s light meter into overcompensating. A flash will balance out the lighting in the room, giving you a better shot. Alternatively, you can use your camera’s manual controls and settings. The right settings depend on the kind of equipment you have, however. For many point-and-shoot digital cameras, it’s mainly a matter of adjusting the ISO, although you may want to set the aperture to f/2.8 as well, if your camera offers that flexibility. For shots near a window, typically an ISO setting of around 400 to 800 works well, although you may want to go higher if you have particularly low light in the foreground. If you have full manual control of your camera, you can increase the shutter speed, which will allow less light into the camera sensor. Try HDR Tonemapping   The main problem with photographing daylit interiors is that it’s difficult to balance between ambient daylight, artificial lighting, and dark shadows behind walls and in rooms away from the foreground. This situation presents a range of different exposures, and while the human eye automatically adjusts for the various levels, the camera will have a hard time making sense of it all. HDR, which is short for high dynamic range, is a common tool for handling such lighting situations. In essence, the photographer takes three or four photos in...

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Staging for a Cozy, Minimalist Look

Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Re-posted from Real estate agents often have to work with either barren rooms or sloppy, overstuffed spaces. But what’s truly attracting the most buyers right now is a deft balance of tidy austerity and a comfortable, lived-in feel. April 2017 by Barbara Ballinger While decluttering a listing before putting it on the market will help sellers keep their homes cleaner and get a head start on packing, this practice also helps the product that’s for sale shine through more clearly. “Staging isn’t about decorating, but putting a room and its architecture in the best light,” says Chicago-area designer and stager Paula Winter. But stagers also caution against stripping too much away, which can make a space feel stark and uninviting. The happy medium is instead a modern, minimalist look that permits buyers to imagine how their furnishings may fit in spatially while exuding warmth from some carefully added accessories. Staging, once mostly for vacant homes or high-priced listings, is now more widely used. Meridith Baer, who stages more than 140 properties a month through her eponymous California firm, says the practice can help increase the sales price and decrease the listing time for homes. The Real Estate Staging Association pegs the average time on the market for homes sold after staging at 21 days, an estimated 90 percent less time than unstaged properties. Bear in mind that different generations have slightly different design tastes and tolerance for clutter or spareness, as do buyers in different geographic markets and price points. “Many in the greater Los Angeles area have been asking for a more minimal look, but in Orange County and Northern California, high-end properties still reflect a rich layering that shows a well-lived, well-traveled life,” Baer says. Here are five recommendations to strike the right balance. 1. Set the stage. It’s called staging for a reason. The idea is to set the mood in the same way that a theatrical backdrop does. Think of how to use furnishings and accessories to tell a story about how a buyer may live there. You want the listing to look modern and gender-neutral to show a home’s bones, not to remind buyers of an antiseptic hospital or laboratory, says Winter. Certified stager Susan Batka of Aerie Interiors in suburban Atlanta suggests adding a few textured pillows, a rug, and maybe a large piece of modern, colorful artwork to give the space the necessary warmth so it looks alive but isn’t overwhelming or too personalized. 2. Declutter. This is still the number one mantra for stagers. “The key to the desired Zen feel is to pick interesting but fewer decorative items and keep upholstered pieces clean and lean,” Baer says. She describes the goal as leaving “some breathing room. Not every wall space needs art and not every surface needs accessories.” It can be difficult to decide what to keep, but one good rule is to retain only the accessories that play up architectural features and strengths of the listing. Items that draw attention to built-in bookshelves or fireplace mantels are especially helpful. For example, Winter removes half the books on a shelf and arranges the remaining ones with turned-out spines or groups them by colors that work well with the room. She’ll winnow down collectibles on a shelf or coffee table to three key items rather than...

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Study: Small Homes Appreciate Faster

Posted by on July 28, 2017 in Buying, Market | 0 comments

Re-Posted from DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2017 Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to appreciation. In fact, a new study shows that smaller homes likely will offer a bigger percentage return on a home shopper’s investment. A new study conducted by NerdWallet culled three years of listing data from® of the 20 of the largest U.S. metro areas and shows that smaller homes, in general, appreciate at a faster rate than larger homes. Markets can vary greatly, however. In 17 of the 20 metro areas analyzed, listing prices of the smallest 25 percent homes rose faster when calculated as a percentage, according to NerdWallet. The median annual growth rate for the smallest quartile of homes was 8.9 percent from 2013 to 2016, the study showed. The second smallest group of homes had the second-fastest growth rate: a median annual growth of 7.4 percent. Florida had two of the metro areas that saw the fastest rate of price appreciation among smallest homes. In Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, the smallest quartile of homes appreciated by a whopping 19.5 percent each year from 2013 to 2016. In close second, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater saw its smallest quartiles of homes appreciate by 16.6 percent annually. Still, while the smallest homes appreciate fastest when viewed as percentage, larger homes appreciate fastest by absolute dollar amount, the study showed. That’s not surprising given a larger home often comes with a heftier price too. Case in point, the smallest homes in the metro areas NerdWallet analyzed saw appreciation, on average, of about $57,535 between 2013 and 2016. Within that same time period, the largest homes saw prices rise, on average, by $99,790. Richard K. Green, a professor and chair of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California, says one reason smaller homes are likely appreciating faster is due to less inventory of starter homes available. Buyer demand for starter, smaller homes remains high, however. That could be pushing prices higher, he says. Source: “Small Homes Can Offer Big Returns,” NerdWallet (Feb. 7, 2017)...

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Do a Foundation Check: 5 Things to Watch For

Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Buying, Home and Garden | 0 comments

Re-Posted from by Melissa Tracey on February 6, 2017 Take a closer look at the home’s foundation before buying, says Matt Stock, president of U.S. Waterproofing, based in the Chicago area. An undisclosed structural foundation repair could leave a new buyer facing a price tag of $20,000 or more. “We’ve seen foundations sink 8 inches,” says Stock. “That was a $150,000 repair for the homeowner.” Stock offers the following tips on how to detect foundation issues on your own and when to call in an inspector for further investigation: 1. Does it smell like mold or mildew? A foundation leak could be the cause. 2. Look for cracks in outside foundation outside and cracks in brickwork. Do you notice a leaning or tilting chimney? 3. Investigate the driveway and garage door too as well as the concrete patios looking for cracks as well. 4. In the basement, are there signs of water damage (e.g. peeling paint; chalky deposits left after water dries)? 5. Do doors or windows stick when opening/shutting? That is a tell tale sign of foundation damage. If you suspect any issues, be sure to have a licensed home inspector do a thorough inspection of the foundation. “The last thing we want people to go through is a surprise $30,000 foundation repair charge upon moving into their dream home,” Stock...

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Get a Clearer View of Clutter

Posted by on June 30, 2017 in DIY, Home and Garden, Selling | 0 comments

Re-Posted from [Note: This article was originally addressed to real estate brokers. To minimize your confusion, I’ve made a few minor changes. All changes are in brackets and all omissions are noted with ellipses.] Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized, by Meg White on March 14, 2017 OK, it’s confession time: I haven’t even been in my house for a full two years yet, and it’s already time for a decluttering session. Maybe part of it was moving into a place that didn’t need much work (oh I know, poor me!). When we moved in, my husband and I just got unpacked and settled as soon as we could without putting a lot of thought into how to organize our stuff. On the flip side, it could be the boxes we never unpacked in the move before last, which we just trucked along to our next place where storage was much more plentiful than before. But Amanda Sullivan, author of Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide to Getting—and Staying—Organized (De Capo, 2017), would probably point to her belief that pretty much everyone needs to incorporate the habit of continually of decluttering into our daily lives. “Your home is a living, breathing thing, like a garden. You must constantly weed and winnow items because, with no effort on your part, it will always be growing,” she writes, suggesting readers keep a dedicated bag or box for getting rid of unneeded items. But what if [you] haven’t employed this trick and have years of built-up reservoirs [you] need to purge before putting [your] home on the market? Honestly, I’d recommend picking up a copy of this book…. I was only a few minutes in when I was inspired to go home and tackle my closet. Despite being the owner of the intimidatingly titled professional organizer/coaching business The Perfect Daughter, Sullivan is exceedingly nonjudgemental and concentrates her advice on making homes livable, rather than immaculate. Indeed, Organized Enough hangs on the principle of FLOW: Forgive yourself. “Having a disorganized home does not mean you’re sick or dysfunctional,” Sullivan assures readers. Let stuff go. She suggests beginning with with the easy stuff (which is why I’m headed to the closet and not those unpacked boxes in the basement) that will make the greatest visual impact. Organize what’s left. Don’t head to the Container Store until you’ve accomplished the above steps! You have to take stock before you know what you need. Weed constantly (addressed above). So keep this one in your back pocket . . . . Sullivan also includes tips to motivate specific types of people (photo journaling or Pinterest boards for the visual learners, using a notebook to craft a narrative of change for the storytellers, questions to ask for those who prefer to talk it out interpersonally, etc.). Here are three ideas from Organized Enough you can use [for] some organizational assistance. [Take] a tour, [noting] where [you] see systems as working and where they aren’t. Meanwhile, take note of places where random things are being squirreled away, spaces aren’t being used to their full potential, or where dust might be gathering. These are spots that can easily be targeted first. Sullivan also suggests looking at spaces through mirrors and photography to help bring a fresh perspective. Connect . . . with practical solutions for...

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How Long Do Common Household Items Last?

Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Buying, Selling | 0 comments

  *This infographic was produced by Re-Posted from

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Ten Ways to Boost Your Home’s Value on a $200 to $2K Budget

Posted by on June 2, 2017 in DIY, Home and Garden, Market, Selling | 0 comments

Re-Posted from Submitted by Maintaining and increasing your home’s value can pay off in major ways. Not only does helping your home hold value help it sell for its full amount, it can also help your home sell more quickly, help maintain your neighbor’s home values, and ensure that you’re not overpaying in property taxes. These 10 projects are listed from least to most expensive, and may help you increase your home’s value. Best part: None of these projects cost more than $2,000, so you don’t have to break the bank to take on these projects either. —-Low Cost: Budget under $500—- LAWN FERTILIZING Fertilizing your lawn may not seem as though it’s doing much for your home’s value, but a well-maintained lawn plays a major role in your home’s curb appeal. Curb appeal is how well your property looks from the road, and has a major impact on your home’s value and resale. Fertilizing a dry, brown, or otherwise patchy lawn can help boost your home’s curb appeal, and in turn its value. Cost: The average cost of lawn fertilizing is around $.03 a square foot assuming a 6,000 square foot lawn, for a total of $180. Total costs range from $.02 a square foot for a DIY job to $.04 a square foot during peak season. Money Saving Tips If you are able to tackle this job DIY, you can save a lot of money (which you can then use to plant shrubs or trees to further increase your home’s curb appeal). Tackle this job at the beginning of the season to avoid paying peak prices. INSTALL AN ATTIC FAN The attic is one of the most overlooked areas of the home when it comes to the impact on the rest of the home. Attics that are not properly insulated can become superheated, which can overheat the roof, cause ice dams, and raise your energy bills. Installing an attic fan can help protect your roof, lower your energy bills, and improve your home values. Cost: The average cost to install a gable mount electric attic fan is around $275 for spaces up to 2,500. Total costs range from $39 for a wind-powered vent to $321 for an electric fan to cool up to 3,000 feet. Money Saving Tips Look into getting a solar-powered fan, which will not only run when you need it, but will also lower your monthly energy costs to run it as well. PAINT A ROOM IN YOUR HOME Dingy, old, or out of fashion paint can really hurt the resale of your home. By giving a room in your home a fresh coat of paint, you can help remedy this problem. Choose neutral paints in light colors to get the most universal appeal, particularly if the rooms are small or dark, as these colors will help open them up and make them feel larger. Cost: The average cost to paint a 200-square-foot room is around $378, with a full range between $162 for DIY to $459 for rooms that need more than one coat of paint on the walls. Money Saving Tips If you are able to tackle this job DIY, you can save a significant amount of money, allowing you to do more than one room. Choose a color that is...

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Revisit Curb Appeal: Have You Done Enough?

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in DIY, Home and Garden, Market, Neighborhood, Selling | 0 comments

Re-Posted from By Caroline M. Carter, guest contributor You’ll want to leave potential buyers with a great impression of your listing’s exterior, that is if you want to motivate them to want to see more. But what do you do if the front entrance to a house looks dated, insubstantial and unwelcoming? Change it. What impression does this front door create for the potential buyer? Does it communicate value to the buyer? Is it worth their time to schedule a showing? No. The front door currently presents as an unimpressive–utilitarian front door with a tarnished, pitted brass doorknob and mail slot. With a quick trip to the nearest home improvement store, the updated entrance goes from drab to fab. A critical investment of $300 for new black paint and polished brass handset, knocker, mail slot and kick plate transformed this entrance and creates value in the mind of the buyer. It now presents as more polished and welcoming. It’s substantial, safe, secure and well-maintained. As a result of this quick fix, the buyer will now assume that the interior of the house is worth their time to schedule a showing. But wait, not so fast. All doors are important. The basement door facing the main street of this same house is unsightly, insubstantial and creates confusion in the eyes of the buyer–where is the front entrance? What is this door and where does it go? A simple black painted lattice framed outer door with no handle creates a more artistic and secure looking distraction so the buyer instantly knows that it is not the main entrance. Here’s another simple, inexpensive way to spruce up the curb: Update the house numbers. In the photo below, we added a newly installed black plaque with 4” house numbers on the stone wall closest to the stairs to the main entrance. It’s visible from the street and leads buyers to the actual front entrance. So, view your entrance and front door with a more critical buyer’s eye. Does it create a positive impression of perceived value? Does it compel the buyer to make time to schedule a showing? If not, it’s time to enhance it. First impressions...

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The Essentials to Styling Your Home to Sell Quickly

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Re-Posted from By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating It’s hard to believe the early spring selling season is already upon us! This means that homeowners who haven’t prepared their homes to list now should implement some of the following PJ & Co go-to styling tips if they want to get their listing noticed and sold quickly when the market gets flooded in April and May.   Remove clutter to maximize space. Play up key features such as windows, hardwood flooring, walk-in closets, spacious cabinets and counters by removing clutter and personal items that are distracting to buyers. Enhance the size of a room or storage area by doing the following: Remove heavy window treatments, replace or cover carpeting with bright, modern area rugs, paint walls and dark trim in lighter neutral tones, and rearrange or remove furniture. Give each room a purpose. Savvy buyers are looking for a house that will match their lifestyle and accommodate their needs. Therefore, it’s important to put yourself in their shoes and determine how a room should function instead of how it already functions for that homeowner. If along the way the owner had converted a living room into a game room (as shown in the photo above), you’ll need to take the space back to its original purpose. That may mean bringing back the sofa and coffee table that’s hiding in the basement so that the home doesn’t look deficient in any way. Freshen walls with neutral colors and artwork. The perfect starting point for an instant boost is a fresh coat of neutral wall color, such as a warm grey or beige. It not only brings a fresh, modern feel to a space, but it also creates a backdrop that showcases the other elements in the room, such as the bright white trim, wall art, and furniture. It’s also a great fix after taking down dated wallpaper as well as for covering up imperfections.   Use bright, modern accents for inviting style. When possible, we like to add furniture with clean lines for universal appeal and complement beautiful bold accents that really bring a neutral room to life. And if the homeowner decides to keep their tired, worn or more traditional furniture, camouflaging with modern pillows, throws, rugs, lighting and colorful accents in geometric patterns, fabrics and finishes will create the warm, inviting vibe that today’s buyers are attracted to. Don’t forget about curb appeal! Especially after the cold winter months, it’s just as important to style the outside of your home to welcome buyers inside. Spruce up the yard, make necessary repairs, and update the front porch with cheerful accessories such as a fresh welcome mat, potted flowers, colorful throw pillows on a bench, and a floral wreath for the door....

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