What’s on Home Shoppers’ Wish Lists



A new Realtor.com® survey reveals the top desires of home buyers today: Ranch-style homes, big backyards, and updated kitchens.





More than half of home buyers say they’re on the hunt for a three-bedroom home, and 75 percent want a two-bathroom home as well, according to Realtor.com®’s home buyer survey. The survey also showed a strong demand for townhouses and row homes among younger home shoppers, as 40 percent said they are looking for a townhome or row home to purchase. However, as home buyers age, single-family homes clearly are the top preference.

“The insights from our most recent consumer survey provide a glimpse into what buyers are looking at today,” says Sarah Staley, housing expert for realtor.com®. “While we often think of dream homes as being big and bold, that’s not what we’re hearing from potential buyers today. These insights can help guide potential sellers in deciding which rooms or features to invest in before listing their homes.”

Here’s an overview of some of the top features that emerged on buyers’ wish-lists, according to the survey:


The most-searched attributes at realtor.com®Large backyards, garages, and updated kitchens

These three attributes were popular across all age groups. That said, younger home buyers with young children showed the most desire for finding a large yard and the greatest interest in living near a good school district.

The least-searched features among buyers: a guesthouse, mother-in-law suite, solar panels, and a “man cave.”


The most desired home style: Ranch homes

Forty-two percent of home shoppers say they’re looking for a ranch home, the clear leader. The second most common home style was a contemporary home at 28 percent, followed by Craftsman and Colonial styles.


The favorite room in the home: Kitchens

Eighty percent of home buyers ranked the kitchen as one of their three favorite rooms in a home, followed by master bedroom (49 percent) and living room (42 percent). (However, shoppers over 55 years old preferred garages over living rooms.)


The top goal when searching for a home: Privacy

The majority of home buyers said privacy and having a space that was solely their own was a top goal when in house-hunting mode. Buyers between the ages of 45 and 64 years old tended to value privacy the most, with privacy in the home topping other preferences like stability, family needs, and financial investment among this age group.


What motivates millennial home buyers the most: Family needs

Most millennials surveyed cited life events like an increase in family size, getting married, or moving in with a partner, as what primarily motivated them to find a new home. Home purchasers age 35 to 44 also cited family needs as the top motivation to buy. The majority of this age group also said they wanted to find a better school districts or that changing family circumstances was their motivation to buy. Home buyers over the age of 45, on the other hand, cited a chief motive to move as they were looking to downsize as they plan ahead for retirement.





Posted on July 19, 2017 at 5:07 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Sellers

Modifying Your House for Disabled Accessibility Without Compromising Home Value


While daily life can be challenging wheelchairwith a disability, innovations over the last few decades have made a new level of independence possible for
the disabled. Services and products now make it possible for such individuals to attend school, run daily errands, and live in private homes in ever increasing numbers. Being able to live independently also prevents depression, increases lifespans, and can even improve some conditions.

But while this stay at home movement offers many benefits to the disabled and elderly, it is not without its costs.  Extensive modifications and renovations often have to be made to homes to accommodate disabled residents. Some of these renovations are fairly unintrusive (such as intercom and camera systems), but some accommodations require major renovations, such as the installation of chair lifts or elevators. If a homeowner considering such renovations is disabled, any associated costs are often accepted as part of the price of independent living. But what about a scenario in which a disabled individual resides in but doesn’t own a private home? This could be costly for a homeowner in more ways than one.

Disabled friendly renovations to a home can be expensive in a couple of ways. There is the cost of the renovations themselves, which can be an ongoing process. They can limit a home’s functionality and visual appeal for potential buyers, as well. On the other hand, there are a number of cost effective resources and techniques that both allow these renovations to be made and make such a home appealing to both disabled and able-bodied residents. Read on to learn more about increasing a home’s accessibility without sacrificing its value.

What Does Adapting a Home for the Disabled Involve?
Adaptations of this type to private homes vary greatly depending on conditions of disability. And it’s possible that these adaptations may have to change over time, just as disabilities do. The vast majority of disability adaptations that are installed in private homes are considered minor ones. This means that they are relatively inexpensive to install, relatively easy to uninstall, and don’t lessen the value of the home in question. Examples of this type of adaptation include:

  • installing portable ramps
  • lowering stair railings
  • physically rearranging interior and exterior areas for easier access
  • lowering the heights of doorknobs, window latches, and light switches to be accessed by wheelchair users
  • adding or relocating interior and exterior lighting
  • installing cameras, intercom systems, and adapted telephones
  • installing modified latches and lock systems to accommodate those who have difficulty using their hands, such as arthritis sufferers
  • installing lower storage areas in kitchens
  • installing lever faucets in both kitchens and bathrooms
  • installing no slip flooring, grip bars, and shower chairs in bathrooms

These types of changes often cost under $1,000 and generally can be done by amateurs. These alterations also don’t cause issues that can affect home values. Adaptations that are considered major alterations to a home include:

  • installation of elevators
  • installation of chair lifts on stairs
  • installation of ramping floors
  • new plumbing in kitchens and bathrooms, including lower sinks, showers, bathtubs, and higher toilets
  • accessible kitchens
  • adding accessible rooms to house

These types of changes generally cost well over $1,000. Unless homeowners possess various renovation skills, they should be made by professional contractors. And once such changes are made, they generally become a permanent part of the house. If such changes could limit future use by new owners, this could affect a home’s value.

Saving Money and a Home’s Value When Making Adaptations
Many individuals are unaware that federal grants are available for home modifications to assist the elderly and disabled. These modifications are also deductible at tax time. Such monies can certainly help to defray the cost of adaptations, even minor ones.

Sustaining a home’s worth is probably not uppermost in a homeowner’s thoughts when making changes to accommodate a disabled relative, but making intelligent and thoughtful changes when doing so can help to preserve home value. These include:

1. Not making permanent changes that impair or interfere with the house’s basic functioning. In other words, the house should continue to be comfortable and accessible to all who use it, regardless of ability levels.

2. Going with the professionals. Yes, that internet video made dismembering your house look like a snap, but unless you truly have the time and skills needed for major renovations, paying a professional contractor now will save you and future occupants much money and heartbreak later. And given our aging population, a professionally adapted house done now could be much in demand in years to come.



Isaac Christiansen – RIS Media Housecall,  Jul 7 2017 


Posted on July 12, 2017 at 10:49 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design, Sellers

What Color Should I Paint My Front Door?

Extend a standout greeting with a memorable hue at your home’s entry

Decisions, decisions. For your front door, do you go for classic black or shocking pink, calming blue or stately green? For inspiration on how to make your front door the star of the street, check out the choices below.
Susannah Hutchison, Houzz contributor   July 9, 2017
Posted on July 12, 2017 at 6:23 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design, Sellers

REALTORS®: Home Staging Cuts Time on Market

Home staging offers a distinct advantage for sellers: a speedy sale.


Sixty-two percent of sellers’ agents believe staging a home cuts down the time it spends on-market, with the majority believing it “greatly” reduces the window, according to the new 2017 Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents believe staging a home helps buyers envision themselves living in it, and 40 percent believe it prompts buyers who first saw the home online to visit it in person.

2017 Home Staging Report (PRNewsfoto/National Association of Realtors)

Staging can also have a positive effect on home value. Thirty-one percent of buyers’ agents and 29 percent of sellers’ agents believe it adds anywhere from 1 to 5 percent, while 13 percent of buyers’ agents believe 6 to 10 percent and 21 percent of sellers’ agents believe 8 to 10 percent. The cost of staging is often fronted by the seller or sellers’ agent.

Buyers’ agents caution, however, that staging is only beneficial if the home is staged to appeal to general, not specific, preferences. Most buyers’ and sellers’ agents believe the living room is a key space to stage, as well as the kitchen, the master bedroom and the yard. They also believe decluttering, depersonalizing and a deep clean—beyond staging—are essential for a show-ready home.

Thirty-eight percent of sellers’ agents stage all of their listings before placing them on the market, while 14 percent only stage listings that require it. A near-even 37 percent do not stage their listings at all.

“REALTORS® know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home and, according to NAR’s most recent report, staging a home makes that process much easier for potential buyers,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “While all real estate is local, and many factors play into what a home is worth and how much buyers are willing to pay for it, staging can be the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value.”


2017 Home Staging Report (PRNewsfoto/National Association of Realtors)



Posted on July 10, 2017 at 6:51 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Sellers

Decor that Adds Value to Homes


A home’s price is based on many factors that can’t be changed, such as location, square footage, and age. While these fixed factors may seem like an end-all-be-all, you can present your home in other ways that may add perceived value for buyers. A full overhaul or shiny new kitchen are not the only options — choosing the right home decor can go a long way in bringing buyers.




Here’s a look at some top accessories and decor choices that are easy to snag and that just might help your clients reach that perfect selling price.



Ask any designer:  De-cluttering a home is one of the most effective ways to get it off the market and into the hands of a buyer. A cluttered, messy, cramped space can instantly detract potential home buyers.  After all, how can they visualize their family in this new home when all they can picture are piles of junk and countertops filled with toiletries?  Clutter may also send the message that the home does not provide enough room for the buyer’s needs.

Show buyers that your home offers plenty of space for all of their belongings.  External storage, like a pretty chest, a shelving unit, or an armoire is a great way to add a decorative element while allowing more room to store paperwork, movies, linens, desk supplies and other unattractive items that don’t add to the space.  Internal storage, like decorative metal bins or wicker baskets, are perfect for uncluttering bathroom cabinets and closets where buyers may sneak a peek.  Now you can present a more airy feel and cleaner sight lines in the home.


Window treatments

Whether it was in our first college apartment or an old family vacation rental, we’ve all experienced just how uncomfortable it is to be in a space with dusty, weathered, outdated window treatments.  Next to decluttering, window treatments can make a big difference in breathing new life into a home. The right window treatments can highlight and complement the home’s best features — from its natural light to backyard views — and can offer the top selling points of built-in privacy and improved energy efficiency (high on the list of many potential buyers).


Good idea to replace broken and outdated blinds with new blinds, cellular shades or roman shades.  They’re easy to install, and with a wide variety of finishes available, they’re a versatile and functional choice.  Drapes are also a quick fix, especially in living and dining rooms.  They add vertical interest and cohesiveness to a room, showing buyers a refined space.



It’s important to make the home appealing and cozy to visitors, but with a polished look that gives buyers something to aspire to.  Replace any well-loved duvet covers, bath towels, rugs, pillows or throws with fresh ones.  Swap out overstuffed bookcases with carefully placed books, baubles, and a piece of art or two.  Tuck away stacks of old magazines and remotes, and adorn tables with a chic tray and a few coffee table books.


It’s all about introducing fun yet neutral accessories that add to the overall theme of the house without filling the space with too much clutter. Show buyers how their new home could be a showpiece, and it’s sure to add to their perceived value.


Posted on June 26, 2017 at 7:54 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Sellers

That Old Home Decor Isn’t Always a Bad Thing





Some home shoppers say they’re drawn to these homes for the quality construction, distinctive design, and nostalgia, The Wall Street Journal reports.“The number of people looking for time-capsules houses [has], I’ll go out on a limb and say, exploded,” says Pam Kueber, who maintains a list of time-capsule homes on her remodeling blog, RetroRenovation.com.  Some real estate professionals are even specializing in mid-century or un-remodeled homes.


Ed Murchison with Virginia Cook, REALTORS®, in Dallas says that over the past five years he’s noticed more young home shoppers seeking Mid-century Modern homes, and they’re willing to pay a premium to get them, too. AMC’s “Mad Men” TV show may have been inspired buyers to appreciate 1960’s design.  So that means popcorn ceilings, shag carpeting, peach bathroom tiles, and baby-blue cabinets are hardly a turnoff to some select home shoppers. Indeed, Robin Miller was drawn to a home with such features that was built in the early 1960s in Weaverville, Calif. She purchased the home and plans to leave the retro design intact.


“It’s almost like the less you do, the better because it almost distracts from the architecture that’s already there,” Miller told The Wall Street Journal.


Many time-capsule homes are from the post–World War II housing boom. However, they are in short supply: Many of these homes have since been remodeled.  “We may be seeing the last era of true time-capsule houses in America,” Kueber says.


Real estate professionals say it’s not always smart to renovate a time-capsule home if you have one as your listing. There could be a niche audience out there looking for it.  “Once you remodel a house out of its time period, you have to perpetually remodel every 10 years to keep up with what’s fashionable,” says Alyssa Starelli with Living Room Realty in Portland, Ore. “But if you maintain it in the period it was, it always suits the house.”


For buyers who do find a time capsule home, they should also be vigilant about the condition of the home since it is older. For example, they should assess the home for building code violations and safety hazards, such as lead paint, asbestos, and non-tempered glass in windows or showers, Kueber says.


Source: “Life Inside a Time Capsule,” The Wall Street Journal (April 27, 2017)    


Posted on May 22, 2017 at 9:03 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Sellers

Curb Appeal: A Little Goes a Long Way

 Low-cost landscaping reaps benefits when it comes to curb appeal and home value.
According to the Appraisal Institute, homeowners spend between $1,766 and $3,227 on landscaping projects – and the expense is well worth it.
Updated landscapes can boost home values by up to 12 percent.
“Curb appeal is important to both appraisers and potential buyers, and homeowners don’t have to spend a lot of money to get it,” says Jim Amorin, president of the Appraisal Institute.  “In fact, it’s important that upgrades don’t exceed neighborhood norms.”
Inexpensive improvements ideal for adding value include planting perennials, power-washing walkways, raking grass clippings, replacing outdated flower pots – and sealing decks, driveways and/or patios.

Source:  Appraisal Institute



Posted on May 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Sellers

These Doors Can Modernize Your Listing’s Look

Barn doors leading to home office

Thinking of selling your home in the near future?   Consider these simple yet elegant options for dividing a space that increase its functionality while scoring design points.


A front door with pizzazz has always had a starring role in a home’s curb appeal. But lately, the doors inside a home are getting a closer look for their ability to add style and address design challenges. Strategically placed doors can offer privacy in open floor plan environments or increase the usability of cramped spaces.

Real estate pros Helen and Malte Strauss in Orlando, Fla., who also manage a staging blog, have used barn doors hung on sliding tracks above door frames and pocket doors, which tuck inside a wall, in several remodel and staging projects. “We use barn doors all the time in master bathrooms where there is a vanity area that is separate from the tub and commode area,” says Strauss, also a home stager.  In some older homes, vanities are located in the master bedroom rather than in the bathroom, a style that quickly can date a home. “Now we just close those off with a barn door, and buyers love that solution.”

She also recently used two barn doors hanging from each side of an open door frame to solve an open floor plan’s privacy issue.  The homeowners had built an addition off the living area that could be used as a guest bedroom, but they never installed a door to separate the bedroom from the main area. Strauss added the double barn doors so the space could be used as a guest bedroom or opened to expand the living area when not in use by a visitor. “It truly makes the room and provides an architectural interest to an otherwise bland wall,” she says.

But don’t be thrown off by the word “barn.”  Your listing doesn’t have to be country chic to benefit from this space saver.  The concept works in many styles, from walnut barn doors for traditional homes to galvanized metal doors for urban lofts, says Lynn MacMillan, with Gem Home Staging & Designs in St. Catharines, Ontario.  Pocket doors vary widely too, from all glass to all wood and from designs that stretch to the ceiling to those that are only waist-high.  Sliding doors can attach to a kitchen island and can be used to close off areas to pets or children when needed.

“I prefer using sliding doors in all my projects,” says designer and architect Lilian Weinreich in New York. Sliding glazed doors, she says, help create enlarged, obstruction-free bathrooms and walk-in dressing areas.

Homeowners needn’t break the bank on these door styles.  Costs vary, but barn doors start around $400 (with do-it-yourself installation). A pocket door can run about $550 (including installation and labor), depending on your local market.

But designers also point out the need for caution.  “You don’t want overkill with this trend.  A barn door is a statement piece. It’s artwork. You wouldn’t use it in every room,” says MacMillan.  But in moderation, barn and double-pocket doors “instantly elevate a home’s style in a way that will make others take notice.”



Melissa Dittman Tracey  –  REALTOR magazine, Jan 2017


Posted on March 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design, Sellers

Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

green shuttersIf you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

To make things easier for you, here are four remodels to avoid and four to invest in.


Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold.  It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool.  Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare.  Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money.  A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price.  Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.


Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of Realtors reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater.  The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in 7.5 years.  After that, panels are a big money-saving asset.  A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable.  New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer.  Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent.  Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring.  Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind.  Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

Brooke Nally  –  Housecall  Feb 23, 2017

Posted on March 15, 2017 at 9:12 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS, Sellers

What an Open-Plan Addition Can Do for Your Old House

Don’t resort to demolition just yet.  With a little imagination, older homes can easily be adapted for modern living


It’s no secret that many of the original homes we see in older, established areas simply don’t cut it when it comes to meeting our 21st-century lifestyles. Many of these homes feature individual, boxed-in rooms instead of the open-plan layouts that support our contemporary life. Small, badly positioned windows are also common in these older homes, which means they don’t make the most of views, outdoor living connections or passive-solar design principles.

The good news is there’s often no need to knock down an older house and start again. An open-plan addition and a rethinking of how the original home’s rooms can be used can change everything.

Janik Dalecki    Houzz.com  January 11, 2017
Posted on January 16, 2017 at 8:29 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Buyers, Sellers