Luxe for less!

5 Ways to Design a Luxe Room for Less

Adding style to interiors doesn’t necessarily require wads of cash. Whether you prefer to keep money in the bank or desire to incorporate creative solutions, updating your home while saving money can be rewarding. From shopping your own space, to finding amazing lighting or re-purposing found items, consider these tips and tricks to create a luxe room — without breaking the bank.

Let there be light

kitchen lights

Does that dated, fluorescent light box in your kitchen have you feeling less than chic and savvy? Good news is that you have the electrical junction box already installed to connect a design-driven fixture instead. Whether you use a surface-mounted version or a sparkling chandelier, your kitchen will go from drab to fab in just a few minutes, and for not a ton of money.

Play out of the box

A black door is unexpected and chic. Source: ZIllow Digs

Acquaint yourself with other designer tricks, like painting interior doors black — instead of standard white — and adding architectural molding to less than lively spaces. You will soon be on your way to creating a rich-looking space without spending a lot of dough.

Pump up the details

Over-stuffed pillows are an easy luxe addition. Source: Kerrie Kelly

3 deal breakers (literally!)…

3 Big Reasons Why Real Estate Deals Collapse

instability  in the market ...

Real estate deals are never done until the deed is recorded. Until that time, a real estate transaction can be a topsy-turvy ride filled with red flags, bumps in the road and unexpected issues that need to be addressed, both on the side of the buyer and the seller.

The best way to prevent deals from going sideways is to prepare as best you can. All parties involved -buyer, seller and agents — need to do as much due diligence as possible before getting into the transaction. This may sometimes include having tough conversations, doing some work upfront and being open to collaborating when things get a little challenging.

Here are some of the biggest places where deals can get hung up – and how to avoid them.

Appraisal Issues: Homes not appraising at the contract value have been a problem since the housing crisis and will likely continue to plague the industry for years to come. Particularly in strong markets, where multiple buyers compete for the same property, the price sometimes creates a new comp for

If the buyer wants to buy, and the seller wants to sell, it means compromising, particularly for the seller.

the area. Even if multiple buyers have offered to pay a price, a third-party appraiser, who isn’t part of the deal, sometimes won’t agree on the seller’s price.

The best way to avoid appraisal issues is for banks and buyers to work closely once a deal is in contract. If you have a hot property that hit a number that the comps may not support, start speaking to the mortgage professional. Understand the appraisal process and make sure the listing agent is present at the time of the appraisal to tell the story to the appraiser. Seeing a contract price and address on paper is one thing. But to know there were 100 people through the home in three days and six offers received provides color and context.

Inspection Problems: It’s the call no buyer’s agent, seller or seller’s agent wants to get: The inspector found some major problems with the home. When that happens, the deal can easily fall apart.

Lounging on the cheap or in luxury?

Calculating the Cost of a Deck or Patio

home exterior patio with wooden ...
ShutterstockA new or revamped patio or deck could increase your home’s value and your household’s quality of life.

If you’re a homeowner with nothing special outside your back door, you’ve probably felt the pang of patio or deck envy. You go to a friend’s house, and he has an incredible layout in his backyard. Someone is grilling, and friends and family are lounging in comfortable chairs on the patio. Everyone’s laughing and having fun, and you remember your own place and think: I want this.

So how much does a patio or deck cost? And what should you know before building one? Here are some basic blueprints to go over before you get too deep into daydreaming and planning.

A low-frills patio or deck is pretty cheap. Everyone’s definition of cheap is different, but decks can be had for as low as $1,000, according to Jessica Piha, a spokeswoman for, a website that helps homeowners find the right contractor. But the average deck costs $8,300, Piha says.
And how much is a cheap patio? The cost to install a 200-square-foot concrete patio is about $740 to $840 on average, according to, an online reference for home projects.

But here’s why you probably won’t buy a cheap patio. If you’re pining over someone’s patio, you presumably don’t want a concrete slab. You probably want something like attractive patio pavers (flat stones) or rocks to tread upon.

Home improvement chain stores sell the patio pavers for around a buck and upward. If you need, say, 800 inexpensive patio pavers for a 200-square-foot patio, that will generally equate to the price of a concrete patio. Not too bad, until you factor in the price of hiring someone to put them in the ground and any other extras your patio might need. places the average cost of a 230-square-foot patio that uses patio stones from about $2,850 to $3,540. Want flagstone instead? Expect to pay between $3,530 and $4,440.

Curb appeal doesn’t stop at the curb…

Why Interior Design Is Essential When Listing Your Home | link

luxurious living room Why Interior Design Is Essential When Listing Your Home


The decision to list your home for resale is a big one. No doubt it came about after much thought, weighing pros and cons, and series of long discussions. However, once you decide to put your home on the market, get ready for the next big discussion: interior design.

Many times sellers assume that interior design is a waste. If you are look to get as much money as possible out of your home, why would you put money back into it just to make look prettier for the new owners?

While this line of thinking seems reasonable at first, listing a home without at least tweaking the interior design can seriously harm your chances of finding a buyer and lower your final profit. Read on to find out why interior design is essential when listing your home.

farmhouse dining room Why Interior Design Is Essential When Listing Your Home

Interior Design Generates Traffic

The first step toward putting any home up for sale is marketing it. When potential buyers look for a home, they are sent listings via email. Each property listing includes a short bio of the home, figures about how many bedrooms/bathrooms/square feet, etc, and some photos. Based on this information, the buyers decide which homes they would like to see. If you feel reluctant in doing the design yourself here are 10 reasons why you should hire an interior designer to help you.

Since buyers often look at multiple listings at once, it’s critical that you make your property stand out in the crowd – and that’s where interior design comes into play.

There are often lots of homes with similar in terms of square footage and number of bedrooms, so the choice to view one home over another comes down to the photos. Given the choice of two like properties, would choose the one that has newer appliances and a cohesive design or the one that looks like it hasn’t been updated in over a decade?

Do “Dear Seller” letters really work? Answer: that depends…

Do Letters to Sellers Work?

Brendon DeSimone | Zillow Blog | June 27, 2014 | link

Signing a contractIn hot, competitive real estate markets and those in which inventory is constrained, buyers often wonder whether a personal letter to the seller will give them an advantage. The answer? Sometimes.

Few sellers would willingly leave money on the table, no matter who the buyer is. The real estate transaction is both financial and emotional, but when it comes time to sell, finance always trumps. Writing a letter to accompany a weak offer, then, is a waste of everyone’s time and won’t get you a “deal” on the home.

Given two similar offers in a strong market, can a personal letter from one of the buyers help get a foot in the door? Absolutely. If you’re a buyer and you find yourself in love with a home alongside three, five or 10 other buyers, a letter can help. But don’t simply dash one off without giving it some thought, or you’ll be wasting your time.

Use the right approach

Find out as much as you can about the sellers and their situation. Ask the listing agent why they are selling, how long they have been in the home and what their experience has been like there and in the selling process. Deciding to sell a home is a big decision and not one that happens overnight. Try to get inside the seller’s head to better understand whom you are working with.

If it’s a longtime family home, for example, the sale may mean a major life change and will bring up lots of emotions. The seller may be attached to the home and might be more interested in knowing more about the folks who will be taking over the helm. A buyer in San Francisco, for example, once wrote a very sappy letter to an elderly gentleman who had been in the home more than 60 years. His wife had recently died, and all of his kids had moved out and had families of their own. This buyer, a newlywed with his first child on the way, talked about “continuing the seller’s legacy” and assured him that he would take care of the very well-constructed work area the seller had built out in the basement. He got the house.

For the not-so-sappy or shorter-term sellers, try to make some sort of connection based on what the listing agent tells you or what you see in the home. Can you tell by walking through the home that you are dealing with fellow art lovers? Let them know. Have you figured out that you are from the same home state or worked at the same company? Let them know by opening up about yourself or your background in a personal letter.

Read more…

Foreclosures costing more?? Time to rethink some assumptions about REOs…

Surprise! Bank-Owned Properties Actually Sell For More!

Jann Swanson | Mortgage News Daily | Jun 26 2014 | link

RealtyTrac recently analyzed residential sales over the year that ended in March to determine what drives discounts in the market value or premiums in the sales price for distressed properties.  They looked at four factors, foreclosure status, occupancy, equity, and property age, using them to construct 24 different distressed property profiles. Each profile was compared to a control group of properties not in foreclosure that sold in the same time frame.

As might be expected, the properties that sold at the largest discounts, an average of 28 percent, were vacant, had negative equity, and were older (but not the oldest), built between 1950 and 1990.   What is surprising is that some property profiles sold at a premium.

Bank-owned properties overall went for an average of 3 percent above market value while bank-owned properties that were built prior to 1950 brought 6 percent more than the control group.  The largest premium was paid for properties that had negative equity but were neither in foreclosure or foreclosed.  Those properties sold at a 19 percent premium. (Note: in the chart below, negative numbers indicate above-market-value sales prices).


Read more…

How do you win when cash is king?

How to Compete Without Cash

tug of warAs cash buyers continue to inundate recovering markets, it’s easy to feel like the underdog if your offer includes a pre-approval letter for a mortgage.

In some places — especially in the Midwest and Florida — more than half of sales in the first quarter of 2014 were closed with cash, according to a recent Zillow analysis.

“Cash is always the deal-sealer and the best way to get deals,” said Joe Spake, a longtime real estate agent in Memphis, where nearly half of first-quarter sales were all-cash. “Just, not a whole lot of people have it, especially in the regular-people realm. The average working person is going to have to get a mortgage.”

Across the country, cash buyers are on the decline, but in some markets you’re still very likely to be pitted against one. We asked agents in the country’s most cash-rich markets for advice for buyers who want to stay competitive without cash.

The bottom line is the bottom line

Cash buyers come in looking for a deep discount, said Tony Baroni, an agent in Tampa, which trails only Miami in the percentage of homes purchased with cash.

“At the end of the day, all the seller cares about is how much money they’ll get,” Baroni said. “Some sellers don’t care if it’s cash or financed.”

Tucson agent Spirit Messingham has seen buyers get intimidated when they go up against all-cash offers.

“What I tell people … is that most sellers don’t care if I give them a bag of dirty old cash or if I give them a loan from a local lender,” he said.

Read more…

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