The Number One Design Style for 2017 Is …

Jan 23, 2017 by

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

The Modern Farmhouse is on trend in home design this year, according to a newly released survey by Next Day Blinds. We may have Joanna and Chip Gaines from the HGTV hit show “Fixer Upper” to thank for the surge in popularity of this rustic style.

Meridian, Idaho Clark Falls Modern Farmhouse

This style can be channeled in a variety of ways, from planked walls, rustic sliding barn doors to mix-and-match fixtures, reclaimed wood tones, and black trim.

Here are some more findings from Next Day Blinds’ recent home design survey:

  • Men vs. Women: If it was up to men – and money was no object – they would invest in a new entertainment stand this year. For women, they’d choose to purchase a new kitchen table. Further, men tend to care more about the brand name of a home décor purchase than women do.
  • Neutral color palettes dominate: Nearly 39 percent of respondents say they prefer a neutral color palette for the interior of the home. Check out our prior post Beige Is Back And There Is No Blah About It
  • Millennial redos: Millennials are much more likely than baby boomers to update their home in the new year.



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What’s Your House Worth? 5 Ways to Find Your Number

Dec 17, 2015 by

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side of green house constructed ...

By Laura Agadoni

If you’re thinking about prepping your home for sale — or have already decided to sell — it’s important to have a good sense of what your home is worth in today’s market. Your real estate agent will pull comps — or prices of comparable properties — and go over the data with you. But there are things you can do on your own to determine your property value, such as getting a personalized estimate from a site such as Trulia.

Keep in mind that any time you ask, “How much is my house worth?” the figure your agent or Trulia’s valuation tool gives is only an estimate of what your house might sell for. “There’s no magic bullet,” says Josh Moffitt, president of Silverton Mortgage in Atlanta. “Your home is really only worth what someone will pay.” So you’ll have to wait until you start getting offers to know.

Not only that, but a home’s value changes all the time. Real estate markets fluctuate: Neighborhood school ratings go up and down, you may add a pool or rip down that screened-in porch, or the hoarder next door may finally decide to move (or not). These factors among many more may or may not be reflected by whatever method you’re using to find out your home’s worth.

With all that said, getting a ballpark figure helps give a pretty solid idea on how to price your home. If you start too high, you might not sell. If you start too low, you’ll shortchange yourself. Here are five ways to answer the question, “How much is my home worth?”

1. Figure Out Your X Factors.

Finding out what nearby homes have sold for is a great starting point, but you should also figure in what Mark Clement, contractor and co-host of the interactive video show MyFixitUpLife, calls the x factor: improvements you’ve made that could increase your home’s value.

Things such as adding a new roof or new insulation to increase your home’s energy efficiency are wise improvements that make your house “better than that house down the street,” Clement says.

And if the renovations don’t increase the value? “At worst, [they] help [the house] move faster than the house quite similar to it down the block,” he says.

Here’s a formula offered by Steven Lambert, a Washington agent: “Most homes, even with all the bells and whistles, will fall within a 2.5 percent range of the average sold price both below and over the number.” Lambert says to put comps in your area that have sold in the past six to 12 months into a bell curve. “This allows you to remove outliers on both the high and low ends and will produce a number that is very accurate for home valuations and market prices in a particular area.”

2. Use an Agent in the Know.

Although you’ll get valuable information from a site such as Trulia on what your house is worth, you’ll also benefit from getting the opinion of a real estate agent.

“Technology is a great part of the pricing tool kit, but it does not supplant a knowledgeable real estate agent any more than being able to read a legal case study online obviates the need for an attorney,” says Bill Golden, an Atlanta real estate agent.

Besides just inquiring, “What’s my home worth?” ask for a competitive market analysis (CMA) to get the most accurate value of your home. A CMA “consists of the real estate professional analyzing active listings as well as recently sold listings that are comparable to your property in the immediate vicinity,” says Matt Johnson, a Maryland agent. “The report is free and takes only about 20 to 30 minutes.”

A local real estate agent can tailor the estimate based on their familiarity with the area. But how should you find the right agent for you? “Survey two or three of the most successful real estate agents working in your marketplace,” says Edward Kaminsky, a Southern California agent. “State that you want a realistic price evaluation. Ask the agent what they think the home will actually sell for, not what they would list it for.” This helps ensure the agent isn’t inflating the price just to land you as a client.

3. Hire an Appraiser.

Although it isn’t always wise to hire an appraiser when you’re selling — it costs about $ 400 — in some cases you might want to, such as when you get widely different numbers from real estate agents.

If you want to go this route, “hire an independent appraiser that is familiar with the area,” says Ross Anthony, a San Diego real estate agent. “They will be able to compile the relevant data and use their experience to make adjustments for various features and locations.”

4. Know What Your Goals Are.

The price you set for your home could very well determine its worth. But if you don’t care how long your house sits because getting top dollar is your goal, you can price it high and see whether you’ll get that price.

“Ask your agent or appraiser what the range is on your house,” says Moffitt. That way, you can price on the low end for a quick sale or on the high end if top dollar is your goal.

5. Price Based on the 3 Cs.

If you like recipes, here’s a house valuation formula that could prove to be a winner. Just combine all ingredients:

Competition: It’s important because “you’ll need to know how many homes in your price range are on the market,” says Texas real estate agent Sissy Lappin, co-founder of Lots of them? Price aggressively. Not so many? You can price a little higher.

Consumption (or absorption): This refers to “the number of homes sold in a neighborhood per month,” says Lappin. Use neighboring homes as a benchmark. If nearby homes similar to yours sell on an average of two per month, for example, and there are three such homes currently on the market, with yours making four, it should take you two months to sell if you price it about the same as the others.

Condition: Compare your home with the others on the market. “Evaluate your home the way a picky buyer would, and have honest expectations,” says Lappin.


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Study: Housing Costs Cut Number of Households by Millions

Nov 3, 2014 by

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For Rent
amslerPIX/FlickrWhether it’s getting a roommate or moving back in with parents, doubling up has become a common way to cut costs.

By Emily Heffter

The housing recovery has come with some tough financial realities for renters. The bottom line: Rent is less affordable than ever, and incomes aren’t keeping up. New Zillow research looks at the way that phenomenon has changed the housing landscape across the country, and the numbers are striking: So many Americans have moved in together to save money that there are 5.4 million fewer households than there would have been under normal market conditions.

Doubling up — whether it’s getting a roommate or moving back in with parents — is an obvious way to cut costs. The research shows that Americans are, increasingly, splitting the rent. In 2012, more than a

“There is a silver lining behind this data.”

third of working-age adults were living with another adult with whom they were not in a marriage or partnership. In 2000, less than a quarter of Americans were doubled up.

The change has bumped up the median household size, from 1.75 adults in 2000 to 1.83 adults in 2012.

The new report surfaces that fact that there’s potential for housing demand to outpace population growth, because of the pent-up demand in all those guestrooms and basements. If salaries improve or housing costs fall, some of those doubled-up Americans will likely want a home of their own.

“The rise in doubled-up households is a troubling sign of the times and starkly illustrates one of the prime drivers behind weak home sales these days,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “But there is a silver lining behind this data. Like a coiled spring, all of these doubled-up households represent tremendous potential energy for the market.”

To learn more about the affect doubling up has on the housing market and to find data for your local market, visit Zillow Research.


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What’s your number?

Oct 8, 2013 by

This post is by staff writer William Cowie.

Are you curious to know how Warren Buffett succeeded so spectacularly at his investing? I am, so I’m working my way through his (thick) authorized biography. If there’s anything that matches his investing prowess, it’s his readiness to share his secrets with all who are interested. By now you’ve probably read tens of posts and articles listing his secrets of success.

What I’m after, though, is “the one thing” — the cornerstone, if you will, of his success strategy. The way he tells it, he got it from a library book he checked out when he was about 10 years of age. That book contained a lesson that set the course not just of his investing career, but of his entire life.

The lesson?


You may have heard of it before, but in case not, here’s the Reader’s Digest recap: If you invest $ 1,000 at 10 percent, you make $ 100 after the first year. If you reinvest that, you make $ 110 the next year. That may sound pedestrian, until you see that after 25 years that (one-time) investment has grown to $ 10,000.

Ten times. That’s how much your money grows when you invest. You may have heard that before, and see it as an interesting classroom concept. But has it changed your life and everything you do? It’s changed Mr. Buffett’s life and he parlayed it into billions.



What Warren Buffett did was turn that dry classroom concept into a single number. In his case, the number was 10, as in “if I invest $ 1 now it becomes $ 10 in 25 years.”

How did he use this magic number? Every time he saw something he wanted to buy, he multiplied its price by 10, and then asked himself again if he still wanted it.

He had a good job, so it’s not like he needed to scrape by or anything. But when he had to buy a car, he looked at it like this: I could get a $ 30,000 nice car, or I can buy still a decent used car for $ 10,000. The “real” cost of the first one is $ 300,000 and the second one, $ 100,000. The future value of the difference is $ 200,000. That other car is nice, make no mistake about it. But is it worth $ 200,000 more? Most of the time the answer was no.

That’s where he got a portion of the money he invested. When he saw a suit, it was the same thing: Do I really need another suit for a “real” cost of $ 10,000? Probably not. How nice is a steak dinner for two when the price jumps to $ 2,000? Not quite as nice anymore.

Rather than spend the money, he invested it — even if the amount was small.

It’s not a single decision that becomes a habit. It’s a few decisions like that that become a habit. And over time a habit becomes a lifestyle.

There are people who are frugal because they received some emotional or psychological knock along the way. He’s not one of them, and this is not about simply being frugal. He was frugal in order to obtain money to invest so he could tap into the miracle of compounding.

The miracle of compounding takes ordinary amounts and turns them into extraordinary returns.

You or I are probably never going to do as well as he did, because he turned investing into a career, and not all of us are that good at it, or going to make that our careers.

But that concept, a lifestyle based around a number, will make you a lot of money if you follow it.

Your Number

Warren Buffett picked his number from a book, and that number used 25 years. Life has changed a lot since then. You can expect to live well into your 80s. If you’re around 30 now, that means you have more than 50 years ahead of you.

So, back to the question: What’s your number? Warren Buffett used 10, for 25 years. You’d think that for 50 years, the number would be double, right? You’d be wrong.

Very, very wrong.

It’s not 20, it’s more than 110! (117 to be exact.)


Remember, we’re talking about investing only $ 1,000 without adding a dime to it ever after. As time goes by, your return grows exponentially, not linearly. That means the last 10 years make you more than double the previous 10 years. Ten years is 10 years, but the amount you make is more than double.

So your number is 110. If you’re math-challenged, round it down to 100. Anybody can multiply by 100.

How do you use that number?


If you’re like most people, investing is a challenge because you don’t have a few spare thousands lying around to go and compound like rabbits in springtime. In order to tap into the miracle of compounding, you need to free up some dollars to invest — because only through investing will you gain those returns.

In the beginning. it almost doesn’t matter what you invest in. Warren Buffett started with three shares for him and his sister. But in the bigger scheme of things, it almost doesn’t matter what you start with. An old-fashioned savings account is a good enough start. The key is just starting.

The miracle of compounding depends on time more than anything else. You might be tempted to think that waiting a year or two won’t make that much difference. Look at that chart again. Any delay takes away from the end of that curve, not the beginning. And it’s the end that’s the juiciest.

So the sooner you start, the better, even if it’s small.

Oh, and if you thought you’re too old to start now, think again: even if you’re 60, you probably still have another 25 years ahead of you. That long. So tapping into the miracle of compounding is for you, too.

So how do you use your number to find money to invest?

Your Lifestyle

Answer: Think like Mr. Buffett. That party you plan this weekend? The one you thought was going to cost only like 30 bucks? Think like Warren: that party’s true cost is $ 3,000. Do you want to spend $ 3,000 on a party?

That cool T-shirt you’re eyeing for “only” $ 20? Do you still want it now that you know its true cost is $ 2,000? Warren Buffett used that reasoning for every purchase, and that’s how it became a lifestyle. People still laugh at him because he lives such a plain life by the standards of the other rich and famous people, but they don’t laugh at his billions.

This is not about denial or being a social deviant. It’s about grasping a mind-set that will lead you to success and independence. Do you want to end up having to clear tables at McDonald’s? Because that’s the only job anybody will offer you when you’re over 70. Or do you want to have to move in with your kids, because you can’t afford your own rent? And have your grandkids keep asking you when you’re going to leave? Isn’t it nicer not to be dependent on others?

You have more control over your life than you might have thought. Start with using your number.


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