Perhaps the smell of fresh baked cookies takes you back to the kitchen in your childhood home. Maybe that perfect sky blue paint color on the bedroom walls makes you instantly feel serene and safe. And it’s probably the crunch of the pebble stone walkway that gives you a hint of anticipation as you approach the front door. Our senses – hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste – are so strongly bound to our perceptions, emotions, and nostalgia, it’s no wonder that you rely on all five when looking for your perfect home.
To get to the heart of the sensory triggers that appeal or detract from a home shopping experience, Trulia recently surveyed real estate agents on what stands out to the five senses of potential buyers during open houses or showings.
If you are preparing to stage your home, here are a few findings from the survey to consider, as well as some tips on where to focus your efforts to create the best sensory experience to turn shoppers into buyers.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled:
Put away the Legos. Clear the desk clutter. Vacuum up the dog hair. Nearly 74 percent of real estate agents said that the cleanliness of a home is the most important sight-based feature to home buyers. Someone looking for a new home doesn’t want to have to use their imagination (or the “mind’s eye”) to determine if the house is a fit for their lifestyle.
The Smell of Home:
Vanilla and fresh scents (think mountain air or clean laundry smell) are the most popular and appealing fragrances when staging a home. In fact, vanilla is such a powerful scent, studies have shown it’s linked to positive nostalgic memories, reducing stress and anxiety and producing a sense of calm*.
First Impressions Make a Lasting Impression:
While the majority of real estate agents said the most important rooms to focus on staging are the kitchen and living rooms, they emphasize not to forget about the entryway. The look and feel of the entryway is the first opportunity to make a full sensory impression on the home buyer. Additionally, homeowners should consider incorporating ambient music, fresh flowers, and a clear path to the rest of the home.
Primary colors are great for preschool walls, but are definitely a no-no when it comes to selling your home. Bright or funky color palettes such as reds, oranges, and yellows are the least appealing (you don’t need a fast food restaurant in your living room). Instead, neutral colors such as eggshell, white, and ivory are the most appealing because they represent a clean, blank canvas.
The dominant senses of selling a home are sight and smell, so focus your efforts on fresh, calming fragrances, a neutral color palette, and an inviting first impression as potential buyers walk in the door.
What have you done to entice home-shoppers senses? Share your experiences in the comments!
Methodology: Trulia designed and analyzed an online survey of 223 self-identified Real Estate Agents living in the United States. The survey was fielded utilizing an in-product invitation appearing in the ZillowGroup Premier Agent Desktop application from August 23 – 26, 2016. The survey has a margin of error 6.8% +/- at the 95% confidence level. Participants were provided a $10 Amazon gift card for their participation in the survey.
From stone fireplace surrounds to built-ins, craftsman-style details bring character to a builder-basic home.
The American craftsman architectural style originated (by and large) in sunny California at the turn of the 20th century. It is a distinctive American style that incorporates natural materials and clean lines.
While the exterior of craftsman homes offer details upon details — like columns, exposed beams, and stone work — the interior maintains a clean and simple vibe with hand-hewn elements and a down-to-earth feel.
Adding craftsman-style interior elements is a great way to add warmth to a home, especially new construction. Here are five budget-friendly ways to do it.
Craftsman style is very no-nonsense, so stone is a natural fit in this aesthetic. Stone accents throughout the house add a warm touch, especially on a fireplace surround or as an accent wall.
Stone’s natural beauty is perfect for the fireplace. Add a large wood mantel and decorate with earthy colors to make the fireplace surround a truly craftsman-style masterpiece.
To use stone in an accent wall or backsplash, make sure you choose a color that lends itself to the surrounding areas of the home. Favorite types of stone include slate, honed granite, and soapstone, especially in the kitchen, where it can truly shine.
The craftsman palette pulls straight from nature. This aesthetic puts a focus on simplicity, but not a lack of color.
For this style of home, think mossy green, rusty brown, and clean white. Accent with natural finishes and tones like wood and stone, and make sure to use the colors in different decorative elements, like tiling, flooring, wall covering, and trim.
Clean lines and simple silhouettes are key to accomplishing craftsman style, and built-in shelving is a go-to way of creating this particular look.
Stay away from ornate or overly detailed structure, and opt for a clean and classic shelving unit.
Ample storage arranged in a polished way with built-in shelving perfectly reflects the unique and straight-forward craftsman aesthetic. Inside the built-ins, keep decor simple and neat so the sleek shelving can be the focal point of the space.
Perhaps the most distinctive detail of craftsman style is interior columns, particularly those that are squared off or tapered. This recognizable look can be found on the exterior as well, as it helps support the home in a beautifully simple way.
If your home comes equipped with columns, celebrate them! Keep the decor around them simple, and let the columns do the talking. They are best shown in earthy tones, or a simple, bright white.
Contributing to the uncomplicated aesthetic of craftsman style, statement lighting and task lighting are unfussy and simple. Composed mostly of glass, iron, and bronze, the lighting pays homage to the natural materials used in this classic turn-of-the-century style.
To honor this simplicity, look for straightforward silhouettes that add just a touch of style to a space.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about home prices and if they are accelerating too quickly. In some areas of the country, seller supply (homes for sale) cannot keep up with the number of buyers out looking for a home, which has caused prices to rise.
The great news about rising prices, however, is that according to CoreLogic’s latest US Economic Outlook, the average American household gained over $11,000 in equity over the course of the last year, largely due to home value increases.
The map below was created from CoreLogic’s report and shows the average equity gain per mortgaged home from June 2015 to June 2016 (the latest data available).
For those that are worried that we are doomed to repeat 2006 all over again, it is important to note that homeowners are investing their new found equity in their homes and themselves, not in depreciating assets.
The added equity is helping families put their children through college, and even invest in starting small businesses, allowing them to pay off their mortgage sooner or move up to the home that will better suit their needs now.
CoreLogic predicts that home prices will appreciate by another 5% by this time next year. If you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by moving up to your dream home, contact an agent in your area to discuss your options!
Spending a little time on DIY and professional upgrades now can pay off big come spring.
Fall is the season for posting apple-picking photos on Instagram, enjoying pumpkin spice–flavored everything, and spending weekends enjoying the autumn scenery. Just peek out your window —whether you live in Boston, MA, or own a piece of Atlanta, GA, real estate — the cooler temps and changing leaves are hard to resist. While beautiful, fall is also the perfect time for rolling up our sleeves and tackling those home improvement projects we put off during the summer.
“Enjoying the weather can put you in a great state of mind and allow you to focus on the task at hand — and do it well. Beyond that, most building materials are at their best when they are installed at moderate temps,” says Phil Eby of Eby Exteriors in Akron, PA. Plus, contractors typically have fewer projects during the fall, so you’re more likely to find help quickly if you don’t want to go the DIY route. Especially if you plan on listing your home in the spring (or anytime within the next year), you’ll want to prioritize the best home improvements for resale. To figure out what’s worth your time and budget, we asked real estate agents and other professionals for their expert opinions. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Paint the front door
ROI: 80% to 140%
Hands down, the easiest exterior project is also the one that reaps the biggest rewards. A freshly painted front doorhelps your home stand out from the block, and it can be finished in less than an afternoon. Fall is usually the perfect time for this activity; just pick that afternoon wisely. “Normally, exterior painting should be done at a time when the temps are at least 50 degrees or so and aren’t dipping below the 40s at night. This allows the paint to adhere properly and prevents it from freezing before it is fully dry,” Eby says.
2. Refresh (or repair) the deck
ROI: 80% to 120%
A deck is only as good as its condition. If the wood is splintering, the finish faded, or the rails shaky, call in the experts. “A buyer who sees a dirty deck that’s in disrepair may sour their feelings about your house, and even if they still want to buy your home, they will certainly use it as a negotiating point,” says Eby. Even if you have to outright replace the deck, it’s worth the expense. (Just remember to get a permit!)
3. Enhance the exterior
ROI: 60% to 100%
If your exterior paint job is in decent shape, a few touch-ups could suffice. But for those with chipping paint or a 1970s color scheme? Call the pros immediately. “The last thing you want is to scare buyers away before they even get inside,” says Than Merrill, former host of A&E’s Flip This House and CEO of FortuneBuilders. On average, you’ll spend $1,000 to $3,000 (for a 500- to 1,500-square-foot single-story home), but he estimates that the investment in curb appeal can help properties sell for up to 10% more than others on the block. Just stick to neutrals: This isn’t the time to try out a statement color.
4. Replace or repair your roof
ROI: 50% to 110%
“The peace of mind offered by a functionally sound roof is invaluable to its respective occupants and is weighed heavily by those intent on making a purchase,” Merrill says. A new roof can be basic or with details that enhance curb appeal, but its main value comes from instilling confidence in a prospective buyer. This holds true for repairing leaks and for cosmetic damage, which buyers often use to negotiate a lower price.
5. Power-wash the exterior
ROI: 40% to 110%
The ROI for this project can vary based on just how dirty your home was before the wash. If the home was merely a little dirty, the ROI may not be as great as it is for one that will look almost new after the wash. If your home falls into the latter category, it can be worth it to hire a pro. “The ROI could be 100% or more, even if done by a pro for $1,000 or more,” Eby says. If you decide to go DIY, Eby cautions to take care to avoid spraying water in a direction that’ll force it behind siding or under shingles.
6. Window replacement
ROI: 50% to 80%
Windows can be hit-or-miss investments, mainly because they are expensive to replace and almost invisible to buyers. “It’s been my experience that unless the windows are damaged or so poorly insulated that your utility bills are sky-high, most buyers don’t consider windows to be a major deciding factor,” says Wingfield.
7. Update your HVAC
ROI: 20% to 50%
This project ranks as one with the lowest payoff, simply because current buyers have come to expect all homes have central air. An upgrade isn’t a selling point unless the system was old to begin with. “If your existing system has been in place for more than 10 to 15 years, it’s likely that you’ll soon need a new one. It becomes an area that a potential buyer will most likely use to negotiate a lower price,” Eby says. Even then, you might have to show proof of gains in efficiency to recoup your costs.
8. Clean the gutters
Here, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. “While you may need to wait for inclement weather to realize your return on investment, a mere 30 minutes of routine rain gutter maintenance could prevent thousands of dollars in damage to the foundation of a home,” Merrill says. If you outsource this chore, expect to pay $3 to $9 per foot.
Your home should be your sanctuary … not a health hazard.
Ergonomics is a major trend in the working world. Small changes in the ergonomics of the workplace decrease the risk of serious falls, back pain, and joint injuries.
The same is true at home, especially in three common home ergonomic warning zones: the kitchen, bathroom, and garage or attic.
Here are some organization tips to extend the same level of health safety into your home life, whether you’re a senior citizen or a senior in college.
Your kitchen is filled with shelves and cabinets that are just waiting to be organized. Your cooking prep will be easier and safer without having to dig through drawers or take heavy items off of shelves.
Use a Lazy Susan. Placed in corner cabinets, Lazy Susans can make use of those hard-to-reach areas. Put one in your fridge and you can spin what you need to the front where you can easily grab it.
Use a step stool and grab claw. When living alone, don’t take the risk of climbing on your counters. With a step stool and a grab claw, everything will be within reach.
Organize your cabinets. Only use your gravy boat once a year? There’s no need to have it front and center. Store it off to the side or in a cabinet with other less-frequently used items. Place the things you use daily right up front instead.
Use floating storage. Attach magnets to small jars and attach them to your fridge. Fill with spices and snacks for beautiful and convenient storage.
It’s tempting to stuff your toiletries and extra bathroom supplies into hard-to-reach cabinets. But add a wet, slippery floor to the mix, and reaching for more toilet paper becomes a dangerous activity.
With a little creativity, you can create more easily accessible storage space.
Hang tension rods in cabinets. For extra storage space, hang your spray bottles on tension rods set up inside cabinets. This will reduce the need to stuff your cabinets or shelves full of supplies.
Place a shower caddy in the bathroom. A shower caddy hanging from your showerhead will keep all your toiletries in one place and leave the floor clear.
Use back-of-door space. A hanging shoe organizer can be used for more than just shoes. They are perfect to store toiletries and cleaning supplies.
Rearrange often-used items. Do you use it regularly? Place it front and center on your countertop. You should be able to reach the items you use all the time with ease. Items used less often should go in your medicine cabinet.
Garage or attic
Garages and attics are notorious for being the most disorganized rooms of the home. Getting supplies from the attic usually requires lifting and digging through heavy boxes.
Reduce your risk of back strain with these reorganization tips.
Use clear bins with descriptive labels. With once glance you will be able to see what you need and where it is. No more digging through each and every box.
Organize by season. You want to be able to access your winter decorations, but you only need to use them once a year. After the holidays are over, group everything together and place them behind other seasonal items that you will use first.
Use toilet paper rolls. Need to store wrapping paper or unused power cords? Slide them in a toilet paper roll to keep them from tangling.
File important documents. Rather than stacking documents in boxes, use a filing cabinet or folder to store your important documents. Be sure to neatly order and label each folder.
Organized and safe
An organized, ergonomic home reduces your risk of back strain, falls, and joint pain.
Your home should be your sanctuary, not a danger to your health. You deserve to have everything you need within safe and convenient reach.
CoreLogic released their most current Home Price Index last week. In the report, they revealed home appreciation in three categories: percentage appreciation over the last year, over the last month and projected over the next twelve months.
Here are state maps for each category:
The Past – home appreciation over the last 12 months
The Present – home appreciation over the last month
The Future – home appreciation projected over the next 12 months
Homes across the country are appreciating at different rates. If you plan on relocating to another state and are waiting for your home to appreciate more, you need to know that the home you will buy in another state may be appreciating even faster.
Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine your next steps.
It’s worth emphasizing now more than ever: Diversity is what the United States of America is all about. The country, of course, was cobbled together on this very idea—diversity of geography, beliefs, people. And even the homes they live in! We’ve got architectural styles rooted in the history of our nation before it was a nation (Colonial, Pueblo), a variety of imports (Spanish, French, Mediterranean) and lots of utterly contemporary styles.
So what is an American home, really? It might be easier to come up with a definitive answer to the question: What’s the ultimate American TV show or ’80s rock band? (For the record, “Breaking Bad,” and the Replacements, respectively). But just as with pop culture or food, there are some tastes that unite us and others that are regionalpreferences.
We thought it was the ideal time to dive deep into our own data to find the architectural home styles that best define our nation. We looked into realtor.com®’s listing descriptions to find out which types of homes are mentioned the most, where they are most popular, and whether their prices are going up or down as they fade in and out of vogue.
Here’s what we found: some seemingly ironclad regional preferences. Some changes. A few surprises. And one clear winner for the title of the American home.
Most regional architectural styles in the United States have their roots both in history and in the environment: They grew out of the types of building materials, such as stone, wood, or clay (for bricks), that were readily available during the early period of development, and the climates that these homes were constructed to withstand, says architect Mark Hogan of OpenScope Studio in San Francisco. They were also often reminiscent of popular styles in the regions where the builders and buyers hailed from—including European influences for Spanish, French, and Tuscan-style homes.
For those reasons, “when people were first settling the West Coast … it ended up looking very different than what was being built on the East Coast at the same time,” Hogan says. “They were very limited to what [materials] they could find nearby.”
And yet there is one style that has managed to conquer most of the nation. Drumroll, please. The most popular home style in 29 of the 50 states is….
The ranch home.
To housing experts, this is no surprise. Ranch houses can be built quickly and inexpensively and can be customized easily to suit the whims of buyers. Although the low-slung style is inspired by the Old West, it spread across the country with the rise of automobile culture in the 1960s. Able to accommodate one or two cars, the sprawling homes quickly populated the new suburbs.
“The ranch style signals a lifestyle change of that age. Front porches went away, and people are more into backyard living and protecting privacy,” says Tim Cannan, president of PreservationDirectory.com.
The second most popular architectural style is the “traditional,” a somewhat vague classification encompassing a variety of classic designs, defined by simple rooflines and symmetrical windows, along with the inclusion of formal living and dining rooms, a welcoming front porch, and often cozy fireplaces. Its popularity will come as no surprise to anyone who has visited the South, where it reigns supreme.
The maps above reflect a bit of American history as well. Colonial homes, unsurprisingly, remain popular in the Northeast, where British colonists originally settled. The rectangular or box-shaped homes typically have a decorative crown above the front door.
“They were easy to construct,” says Stephen Glasheen, architectural project manager at Polhemus Savery DaSilva, in East Harwich, MA. “That’s why they’re so common on the East Coast. It’s where they started, and it has [continued] through the generations.”
Meanwhile, Victorians, most popular on the East Coast and into the Midwest, have a wealth of detail, with intricate moldings and ornate shapes carved into beams above, says Glasheen. The style originated when Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire, from the mid- to late 19th century.
“It has an iconic feel to it,” Glasheen says of the homes, best known for their signature pitched roofs, textured shingles, and long front porches. “It’s recognizable no matter where you are.”
Cape Cod homes, named for the strip of land defining Massachusetts Bay, where they first became popular, are plentiful as far west as the Mississippi River, but their presence remains strongest on their home turf of New England. And the prevalence of rustic cabins maps pretty well onto the locations of the Appalachian, Rocky, and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.
At the state level—once you have filtered out all those ranch houses—some fascinating preferences emerged. Who knew that Illinois was so crazy about Georgian homes? Listings there cite the style more often than in any other state. (Come to think of it, one was featured in “Home Alone,” which took place in the Chicago suburbs.) Meanwhile, the Spanish style—another colonial legacy—rules in California, from average homes to its best-known state prison.
The architectural styles that’ll really cost you
In recent years, the Mediterranean or Tuscan style home has become the favorite among luxury builders. The median size of Mediterranean homes is 3,325 square feet—after all, it has to be big enough for breezes to flow freely through those open arches and verandas. Plus, you can’t have a Mediterranean home without an extravagant garden! Duh.
But in the past four years, the median price of a Mediterranean home stalled at $749,900. Could this love affair be growing stale? Meanwhile, the average home appreciated by 9%, and modern homes made the biggest gain since 2012, 37%.
“Modern homes are built to be more energy-efficient, and modern-looking,” says Canan. “It’s easier to heat and cool them, and they’re cheaper to repair as opposed to Mediterranean or Spanish style—those red clay roofs could wind up costing much more. So it’s really the size and scope that determines what people can afford.”
The same case applies to Craftsman homes. You don’t just wander into the Home Depot and expect to find handmade doorknobs or hinges to go with your elaborately crafted home.
And at the other end of the price spectrum, affordable bungalows are looking good, as the lack of inventory drives up home prices nationwide. The median price of $134,000 represents a 28% increase since 2012.
“Bungalows typically have very large roof overhangs … which provides a whimsical aesthetic,” architect Glasheen says. They resonated with buyers because they were one of the first styles that allowed owners “to have their own unique style of home.”