Making the Shift: Teen’s Room to Guest Suite

After 18 years at home, your child is striking out on his own, whether to attend college or start an exciting new job. Though you may not be ready to do so immediately, you’ll probably want to convert the now-absent teen’s bedroom into a space you can use.

Teen’s Room to Guest Suite

from Zillow

One of the best and most popular strategies is to remake the space as a guest bedroom. That may seem like a tall order — especially if you’re peering into a chaotic, poster-lined teenager’s haunt — but you’re closer to the finish line than you might think. With luck, you can get the job done in only one weekend. Here’s how to organize the effort:

1. Clear out what’s left behind.

Before your child leaves, or the next time he or she is home, ask them to help you pack all the stuff their not taking with them. From sports trophies to old textbooks, there’s likely a wide and assorted range of keepsakes arranged (or strewn haphazardly) around the room. At least for the time being, pack these belongings into large plastic bins and then relocate those bins to an out-of-the-way storage area, be it the attic, basement or garage. Once you’ve finished packing and stacking the bins, the bedroom — free of all clutter — should already begin to look a lot more adult.

2. Introduce a new wall color.

Your goal now is to alter the mood of the space and give it a fresh identity. There’s no quicker or more affordable way to revolutionize a room than with a fresh coat of paint. Whereas your son or daughter might have chosen a neon shade or a light pastel, consider a neutral hue — something that rarely goes out of style. White or cream are popular options, meshing well with any decor, while leaving you ample opportunity to add punches of personality through accents (e.g., window treatments or wall art). For a room with more shadows than sunlight, consider lime green or ocean blue; these bright hues can actually make a dark room look brighter.

3. Rethink the furnishings.

You may be surprised to realize that most of the furniture in the room can probably be reused, if made to look more mature. For example, it’s fairly easy to refinish a dresser that’s been covered in stickers and decals. It’s just a matter of sanding it down to the bare wood and staining or repainting. By the same token, putting a new shade on an old table lamp can dramatically change its look. Another good idea: Bring in a tasteful area rug, particularly if there are any stains on the floor. Lastly, upgrade the sleeping arrangement to a guest-friendly queen-size bed. If the room is too small for a larger mattress, opt for a pull-out sofa that doubles as daytime seating.

4. Don’t forget the extras.

Think like a hotel manager and outfit the room with thoughtful details to make guests more comfortable. At the foot of the bed, a bench or chest serves as a suitcase-landing zone. A glass and water pitcher, meanwhile, are always welcome on the bedside table. When it comes to wall hangings, don’t limit yourself to landscapes or abstract art. Framed family photos not only personalize the space but also remind you of the room’s history.

This article was originally published  by Bob Vila on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Overlooking These 9 Things Could Lead to Buyer’s Remorse

Overlooking These 9 Things Could Lead to Buyer’s RemorseThe last thing you want after moving into your new house is buyer’s remorse.

With so many details to track when buying a home, items can slip through the cracks. Figuring out which areas you shouldn’t overlook is the first step toward mitigating remorse.

With avoiding that sinking feeling in mind,®spoke with a couple of agents about what to pay attention to when buying a home.

1. Lifestyle vs. resale value

Marty Winefield emphasizes this concept with his clients. Buying a home is a personal choice, so make sure you know whether you’re buying for resale value or for lifestyle. Some clients buy with the bottom line at the top of mind while others care more about their quality of life.

2. Size: It matters!

REALTOR® Nina Goldsmith of @properties in Chicago cites a house that seemed perfect on paper. She showed it 102 times in about three months. The house had three bedrooms and two bathrooms in a nice area. The downside? The bedrooms were extremely small—and small enough to turn off potential buyers once they saw the place.

3. Bathrooms

Winefield says two-bedroom, two-bathroom condos abound in Chicago.

But if one of those bathrooms has a shower without a tub and the buyers have children or plan to, that bathroom becomes “almost useless”.

Don’t overlook your future needs, or the needs of every resident of the house.

4. Bedrooms

You probably have an idea of how many you want.

But are they the right kind? Something large enough for an infant now may not accommodate a desk and bunk beds later.

A funky seven-walled bedroom may delight your design sense, but will your furniture fit in there?

Don’t overlook the practicalities of rooms as you fall in love with a house.

5. Traffic

That tiny house Goldsmith showed over a hundred times sat on the corner of a busy street, which also turned off buyers.

A fence used to guard part of the yard, but it was removed by a prior owner.

In an area with good schools, the house appealed to families—but a home with no fence on a busy block can be a deal breaker.

6. Wall color

Goldsmith reminds buyers paint is cosmetic. Bricks aren’t.

It’s easy to repaint a kitchen if you don’t like the color—go ahead and breeze past a confusing color choice

But falling in love with a home’s brick walls or dark wood paneling may prove tricky when you try to resell and you realize most buyers don’t share your aesthetics.

7. Yard

People moving from apartments may dismiss a tiny or nonexistent yard.

But a large yard helps resale value. And some might ask, “Why buy a house at all if you don’t want any land with it?”

8. Pools

Many buyers won’t buy a home with a pool, because they don’t want to deal with the upkeep, which gets expensive, Goldsmith says. But if you really want a pool, the upkeep may be worth it.

Just know that if you buy the home, you may wind up filling in the pool—or wishing the original owners did—when it’s time to sell.

9. The little things

Does the freezer door open all the way?

Does the layout mean in order to pass from kitchen to bedroom you’ll have to go through the living room?

Does the small living room push your overstuffed couch too close to the TV?

How You Can Avoid These 9 Traps

Listen to your real estate agent. If an agent expresses concerns about a feature or perceived fault, hear them out. You might buy anyway, but at least you’ll know what you’re getting into.

Listen to your brain as well as your heart. Don’t let emotion rule your decisions.

Visit often. Kick the tires, as it were—open all the doors, latch all the windows, and visit again and again to make sure you aren’t missing anything. You might see something the second or third time you didn’t see the first time you looked at a place.

“Take your time,” Goldsmith adds. “Is this really where you want to live? Is this good for you, your family and the way you want to live?”

Remember, an extra visit or two won’t cost much—but buying the wrong house could cost you plenty.

Based on an earlier version by Herbert J. Cohen.

This article was published by  on See the original article here.

Top 5 Reasons to Buy a House Right Now

Buying a house is a highly individual decision—and a local one—but current trends are creating a favorable situation for many would-be homeowners.

Top 5 Reasons to Buy a House Right Now

Interest rates are low, employment is rising, home prices—in most markets—are still well below their peaks, and rents are through the roof.

Every family and each individual has various factors affecting the ability and the decision to buy a home. If you live in a market where studio apartments are $2,400 per month—while nearby condos sell for $300,000—it might make sense to buy a house instead.

(Remember, a local REALTOR® always is your best resource in helping you assess market conditions.)

Five Compelling Reasons to Buy a House Right Now

1. Interest Rates Are Still Low

Mortgage interest rates are still low—for now.

A 30-year-fixed-rate loan now averages 4.16%, according to Freddie Mac, but many economists believe we will see 5% rates next year. As interest rates increase, so do your monthly payments.

A $300,000 house at 4.16% with 20% down would have a monthly payment of $1,168. With a 5% interest rate, that payment increases to $1,288.

2. There’s More Inventory

As more houses enter the for sale market, prices stabilize.

“Inventories are at their highest level in over a year, and price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels,” said Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of REALTORS®.

The upside is consumers now have more choices, if they are looking at existing homes.

New homes are another story: Yun says new construction needs to double its current production to meet market demand.

3. Home Prices Are Going Up

Home prices are rising.

The median price of an existing home was $223,300 in June, or 4.3% higher than June 2013. That’s the 28th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains, and economists expect that trend to continue. However, we are still at least 20% off the peak prices of 2006.

“Attempting to buy a home when the market is at its lowest point—or to sell at the peak—is tricky,” said Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for®.

He compares it to trying to time the stock market.

“You might get lucky one or two times, but overall, timing the market does not work,” Smoke added. “It all points to purchasing power, and that’s a reflection of price and interest rates, which will both be higher in the future.”

4. Rents Are Sky-High

If you live in a big city, then you know rent is astronomical. In San Francisco, many people are spending 42% of their monthly income to pay the rent. Nationwide, rents are rising at a 4% annual clip.

It’s not unusual to see adults rooming together in expensive cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago, but everyone needs his or her own space at some point.

Buying a home would lock in your monthly payment and stabilize your finances with a fixed-rate mortgage. This is, of course, assuming you don’t live the San Francisco area, where the average price of a home is $1 million.

(If you’re renting and never thought you could afford to buy a house, try our Rent vs. Buy calculator to see what’s possible.)

5. Employment on the Rise

Perhaps nothing is as important to the financial stability you need to buy a home as steady employment. The U.S. economy is finally adding jobs—about 200,000 new jobs per month.

The next generation of home buyers—the Millennials—has been particularly affected by the nation’s job slump. Saddled with student loans and tight lending restrictions, many in this generation have been living with their parents to save money until the economy picks up.

If your employment prospects look good these days and the other four factors check out, then it may indeed be the right time for you to buy a home of your own.

This article was originally published by  on See the original article here.

Either Way, You’re Still Paying a Mortgage

There are some people that have not purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either your mortgage or your landlord’s.

Either Way, You’re Still Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studiesat Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Also, if you purchase with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, your ‘housing expense’ is locked in over the thirty years for the most part. If you rent, the one guarantee you will have is that your rent will increase over that same thirty year time period.

And, as an owner, the mortgage payment is a ‘forced savings’ which will allow you to have equity in your home you can tap into later in your life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting since home values and interest rates are still at bargain prices.

This article was originally published on Keeping Current Matters. See it here.

9 fictional homes: What are they worth?

Finding exotic homes to lust after can be fun. Why limit your real estate envy to properties that actually exist?

© Loadmaster

What would it be like to own Hogwarts Castle, where Harry Potter learned to be a wizard, and what would it cost to buy it? What about SpongeBob SquarePants’ house, or Superman’s “Fortress of Solitude?”

© Aneurysm

Real estate website Movoto determined valuations of what content editor David Cross calls “un-real estate” — properties from television shows, movies or video games. Here are 9 make-believe homes and their real-life prices.

1. Wayne Manor

© mattbuck

© mattbuck

Value: $32.1 million

The voice-over on the 1960s “Batman” television show described it as “stately Wayne Manor,” and a role-playing game from the early 1990s provided the specs behind that description: 42,500 square feet, 11 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, a pool, gym, library, ballroom, game room and gallery.

Cross didn’t worry about including the “bat cave” when searching for comparable properties, reasoning that Bruce Wayne might sell his home but would never part with his secret lair. But his valuation is based on the controversial assumption that Gotham City is actually Chicago, not New York.

2. SpongeBob’s abode

© Nickelodeon

© Nickelodeon

Value: $76,000

What would you pay for a modest home with a view — of the bottom of the sea?

That’s the vista SpongeBob SquarePants enjoys from his residence, which happens to be a pineapple on the ocean’s floor. Cross estimates the 238-square-inch home is located in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where outsiders can’t buy property. So the valuation is based on what Movoto’s Mortgage Calculator estimates that SpongeBob, a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, could afford.

3. Ghostbusters’ firehouse

© Phillip Ritz

© Phillip Ritz

Value: $15.7 million

Manhattan real estate was cheaper in the 1980s, and paranormal activity in the borough wasn’t helping sellers get the best prices. But what would it cost you to buy a “Ghostbusters“-style headquarters today?

Movoto content editor Randy Nelson notes that a character in the 1984 film says the firehouse that serves as the team’s headquarters is 9,622.55 square feet. Based on comparable properties in the area, that space would sell for about $1,630 per square foot today.

Movoto estimates that the $15.7 million price tag for the property would buy you about 643 tons of marshmallows — plenty to recreate the movie’s gooey finale.

4. Hogwarts Castle

© Loadmaster

© Loadmaster

Value: $204.1 million

You can’t put a price on magic, but to estimate the value of Great Britain’s premier training facility for spell-casters, Cross says that you need three bits of information: Hogwarts’ location, its square footage and the price of comparable properties.

The location — Galloway Hills in Scotland — came via an online post. Another Harry Potter fan provided a clue to Hogwarts’ size by working out how many students would have attended the wizardry academy.

Cross decided that the whole building must measure about 414,000 square feet and that large homes — including castles — around Galloway Hills go for about $493 per square foot.

5. Fortress of Solitude

© Getty Images

© Getty Images

Value: $814 trillion

A firm handshake can be a career plus, but if you’ve got a grip that can turn lumps of coal into diamonds, you can afford a pricey retreat — even if you’re just an underpaid reporter moonlighting as an unpaid superhero.

Superman’s Fortress of Solitude is indeed expensive, not because of its location, in an Arctic wasteland, but because of its high-end building material: Kryptonian crystals.

Cross says that diamonds would be the best terrestrial stand-in, and he estimates you’d need more than 2 million of them — each the size of the $400 million Cullinan Diamond — for the dome-shaped roof.

6. Yoda’s hut

© Movoto

© Movoto

Value: $7,762

Afford it, you can.

Yoda first appears in the Star Wars movie “The Empire Strikes Back,” which finds the green Jedi master living in a spartan hut on the water-logged planet Dagobah. Movoto’s Nelson wondered what a place like that would cost if it were located in the United States, rather than in a galaxy far, far away.

He decided that swampy Morgan City, La., would be a good stand-in for Dagobah. Yoda’s residence was built of mud and the remains of his escape pod. But the average local price per square foot is $86, and Yoda’s abode is just over 90 square feet.

7. Tony Stark’s mansion

© Movoto

© Movoto

Value: $117.25 million

Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is a billionaire genius with an ego, so you know he has a nice house.

How nice? Cross says that he based his Movoto assessment on the latest cinematic version of “Iron Man,” which had Stark living in a cliff-side mansion in Malibu, Calif. The design of the computer-generated place was based on the work of architect John Lautner, whose 25,000-square-foot Casa Marbrisa was about the right size to be Stark’s abode.

The sale of a comparable Malibu mansion yielded $3,750 per square foot, which Cross boosted to $4,690, to account for the view.

8. Fawlty Towers



Value: $9.94 million

After Monty Python, John Cleese starred as a hotel proprietor in the British sitcom “Fawlty Towers.” Cleese claimed his character was based on a real person, and his establishment was based on a real inn in the seaside town of Torquay, England.

Cross says that he was dying to value the property using the mini-fridge method, which assumes a hotel is worth 10,000 times the price of a soda in the hotel’s mini-bar. But Fawlty Towers didn’t offer its guests such in-room amenities. So Cross used the room-rate multiplier approach for the hotel, which has 22 guest rooms and a daily rate of 35 pounds, or $46.

9. Spencer Mansion of ‘Resident Evil’

© Capcom

© Capcom

Value: $1.75 million

Most visitors to Spencer Mansion back in the 1990s were too busy blasting away at mutants to focus on the property itself — encounters with zombie dogs can shake up your priorities like that.

But Movoto’s Nelson, a fan of the original “Resident Evil” video game, wanted to know what its setting would list for on today’s market. His research convinced him that Springfield, Mo., was the best real-world stand-in for the game’s fictional Raccoon City.

He also found that Spencer Mansion measures 10,125 square feet and that similar mansions in the Springfield area sell for about $173 per square foot.

This article was originally published by By Scot Meyer of SwitchYard Media on MSN Real Estate. See the original article here.

5 Best Ways to Research Your Property History

Property history research gives you a picture of how the history of your property developed through the years. The history may purely serve to staunch your curiosity.

5 Best Ways to Research Your Property History

But you may also learn why some things were built as they were and—potentially—learn more information to help you fix or update your home.

If you’re embarking on a remodel, for example, you’ll need to understand the genesis of your home, how it was built and possibly added on to, and what might lie behind the walls or under the carpeting.

Plus, sometimes it’s just fun to know the provenance of your abode.

Property History Research Methods

Ask your inspector: If you’re buying an older home, check with the expert you’re paying to look at all the nooks and crannies—and about the history of those nooks and crannies. For example, an inspector might note a beautiful hardwood floor beneath modern carpeting or know where to look for a historic foundation stone in the basement.

Talk to your neighbors: Maybe also talk to the previous owner and others who used to live in the area—and their relatives. Many will be happy to share memories. Once land records are accessed, your property history search will yield valuable historical information about the house and its original owners, including when it was sold and to whom.

Visit the library: Old newspapers or local history publications may offer insight into events at your address or give you a sense of the neighborhood and town at the time the home was built. Try to go during a slower time of day—not, say, a raining weekend afternoon—and a librarian may have more time to assist you with this research.

Check the deed: You need to know the legal description of the property, the official address and the subdivision lot number. The legal description also includes the section number, portion of the section, township and range of the property.

Deed transactions are also recorded at local county courthouses in the Register of Deeds. These records may be on microfilm, computerized records or other physical publications. Most staff who work with deeds can help you find what you’re looking for off the address.

When you start your search, begin with the most recent deed transactions and work backward to earlier records.

Scour The online clearance center for home projects, design ideas and contractors also encourages owners and others to note a home’s history. You can check out past work permits, local stats, and who’s done what work on the house.

Other resources: The patent records of the Bureau of Land Management’s General Land office will show you when the federal government first sold the land parcel to a private owner and who that owner was.

You can find other documents online or in local archives or libraries. They include census data records, marriage and death records and insurance maps which show how a property changed over time.

There are commercial sites to help you locate and search online databases to get this information. Genealogical research databases can also give you valuable information to help you uncover your property history.

Happy digging!

Updated from an earlier version by Wendy Dickstein.

This article was published by  on See the original article here.

Shark Week Special: 6 Amazing Aquariums

Although it’s Shark Week, we weren’t able to locate any homes with a built-in shark tank.

So … we opted for the next best thing: homes on the market with awesome built-in aquariums.

Care and upkeep of these huge watery enclosures is likely a job in and of itself, but the reward of being able to bliss out and behold the fish swimming within your walls may be worth it.

We found six stunning tanks in cities from coast to coast, and the beauty in Boca truly stole our hearts. When you see the enormous aquarium in this gleaming penthouse unit, you may not want to scroll any further.

But please peruse all of these interesting homes—including the enormous mansion in Urbandale, IA, we’ve written about before.

If any of the aquariums prompt you to dive in, just click on the image to learn more.

450 SE 5th Ave, Penthouse 1Boca Raton FL, $3.995M.






1320 Kennesaw Creek WayFisherville, KY, $670,000.




2220 Avenue of the Stars, Unit 2706Los Angeles, CA, $1.395M.




13031 Oak Brook DrUrbandale, IA, $4.9M.




560 S Peralta Hills DrAnaheim Hills, CA, $4.995M.




7 Durham RdLarchmont, NY, $2.995M.



This article was originally published by  on See the original article here.