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Help buyers and sellers evaluate their home fitness needs with this guide to workout space design.
Sure, home gyms are great for avoiding driving to a club and paying membership fees. But there’s another motivation behind the transformation of basements, garages, and spare bedrooms into home fitness centers: They’ve become a way to gather family members for healthy activity that everyone can enjoy.
Atlanta businessman and avid cyclist Steve Cesinger remodeled his home’s basement so that his family of four can exercise together. Thanks to stays at upscale hotels with gyms, he knew what he wanted to include. He hired design firm HammerSmith in nearby Decatur, Ga., for the remodel, arranging equipment in distinct areas for cardio, weights, yoga, and boxing, as well as creating a place for a sauna, massage, and shower. Designer Eric Rothman aligned equipment with wall mirrors to maintain good posture, and flat-screen TVs were wall-mounted in several locations to help exercisers vary their routines. Because of the basement location, Rothman provided sufficient and evenly spaced lighting that cuts glare and doesn’t create too much heat.
Such renovations can act as a magnet to attract buyers, says salesperson Stephanie Mallios with Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, N.J. “I recently showed a home with a huge gym in a basement with mirrors, professional equipment, big-screen TV, and sound system, and the home owner was finishing a session with a personal trainer. My buyer was very impressed and considered it a huge positive,” she says.
For a variety of price tags, you can duplicate national training manager Matt Elsessner’s examples of home gyms; prices are estimates based on his company’s Life Fitness line of equipment. The company’s Web site also has a room planner to suit specific home owners’ needs.
Advanced Gym: $12,707
T5 Treadmill: $4,399
X8 Cross-Trainer: $4,699
G7 Home Gym: $3,499
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball: $40
Foam Roller: $20
Small Gym: $2,907
LifeCycle GX: $1,999
Weight Bench: $199
Dumbbell Set with Rack: $599
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball: $40
Foam Roller: $20
Bedroom Gym: $2,109
X1 Cross-trainer: $1,999
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball: $40
Foam Roller: $20
Yet, fancy gyms aren’t a magic bullet for all buyers. Not everyone wants a space designated to this purpose, says salesperson Barb St. Amant, ABR, of Harry Norman, REALTORS®, in Atlanta. “Some may be excited seeing a gym, but others aren’t. In our area, there are many inexpensive opportunities for places to work out,” she says.
The key to the perfect balance is helping buyers and sellers understand what’s most important to meet their workout goals and the space and budget limitations. Here’s what the professionals advise.
Be honest about the level of interest. This is the first rule of thumb: Home owners should invest in equipment that will encourage getting started and staying motivated. If home owners are committed to working out regularly and think they’ll stay with a routine, it makes more sense to set aside a room or large area and equip it adequately. But if they’re not sure and may only exercise sporadically, they should start small in a room that can serve a variety of uses.
Set up a gym in the right spot. Out of sight can become out of mind, says Matt Elsesser, national training manager for Life Fitness, a manufacturer based in Schiller Park, Ill. A basement can offer more space than a spare bedroom, but if the bedroom will be more attractive because it’s above ground and has more natural light, that acts as a stronger lure, he says.
Home owners also need to leave sufficient circulation room, says Rothman of HammerSmith. Yet, even a small apartment can host some equipment if it’s arranged properly. Fitness expert Liz Neporent, author of Thin in Ten (Sunrise River Press, 2012) and emeritus board member of The American Council on Exercise, placed a treadmill behind a sofa in her New York apartment so that it faces a TV but isn’t visible when someone enters the room.
Focus on a three-dimensional approach.
- Cardiovascular workouts, which increase blood flow and lung capacity, can be achieved with numerous items such as an elliptical cross trainer, treadmill, or stationary bicycle. Consider equipment with built-in tracking options and a TV, or at least an outlet for an iPhone or iPad and headset. If home owners have no room or funds for those items, a staircase in a house or apartment building can provide a good workout, says Eugene Reynolds, a trainer with Equinox in New York. It’s most important that home owners figure out what they like to do, so they’ll keep doing it, he says.
- Strength or resistance training, to build muscles, can also be done with numerous items such as elastic bands, dumbbells, and kettlebells. All are inexpensive and can be stashed easily; bands can be purchased for $12 to $16, while an exercise ball can cost anywhere from $40 to under $100, says Alycia Kluegl, exercise physiologist and owner of Empower your Body in New York.
- Flexibility training, to improve the range of motion, can be done with a simple mat, jump rope, or medicine ball. Techniques and routines can be learned in just a few sessions with a personal trainer or by purchasing exercise videos. “There are hundreds [of videos] to consider from experts such as Richard Simmons and Jillian Michaels,” says Neporent.
Add in upgrades and frills as space and dollars permit:
- Different pieces of equipment from each category will help vary routines.
- Wall-mounted mirrors aid in checking positioning.
- A wall-mounted TV, if there isn’t one built into equipment or the home owner doesn’t have a workout buddy.
- Exercise apps can be downloaded onto iPhones and some Android platforms to provide workouts such as Life Fitness’s LFconnect, which syncs with specific Life Fitness cardio equipment to provide preset workouts and track results.
- Heart-rate monitors allow home owners to keep tabs on exertion levels.
- Occasional or regular sessions with a certified trainer will help improve skills and accountability.
- Wood and cork floors and skid-proof and electrostatic mats stay cleaner and won’t absorb sweat as much as carpeting does, while padding can add bounce and cut noise transfer.
- A bathroom, or at least a shower close by, is a big bonus.
- A tack board with photos and sayings will serve as greater inspiration and motivation.
Remind home owners not to forget to…
- Invest in footwear that’s safe rather than just trendy and decorative, says Kluegl.
- Buy the best equipment in their budget. Specialty sports stores with knowledgeable salespeople are a good place to start, says Neporent.
- Check that any workout area on a second or third story can support the weight of heavy equipment.
- Be sure the room or area offers sufficient head room—at least 7’8”—and the higher the better, says Rothman.
By Brett Martin of Popular Mechanics
We put our house on the market recently. This was our first home, which we’ve lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing and making some minor repairs that we’d been putting off. Here’s what we didn’t see coming.
White and bold wall colors are no-nos
We worked with a stager — a person who specializes in making homes more sellable. Walking through our house with her was humbling and a bit exasperating. In the past four years, I’ve painted every single room in the house and applied a decorative finish in the kitchen. I’d repaired any problems with the walls and filled all nicks, cracks and holes to make the walls look smooth. I used paints that were easy to clean to keep the walls looking fresh.
The problem? The colors. The white in the foyer and family room (too bland), the green in the dining room and the ocean blue in the kitchen (too bold), the blue-gray in the basement (too dark) and one bright red wall in our older son’s bedroom (too bright) were all the wrong choices to entice buyers. We ended up having to paint nearly every room in the house a neutral color.
What ‘cut the clutter’ really means
We knew the real-estate mantra that having the house tidy and organized, with only the minimum amount of furniture in each room, makes the space appear larger and more enticing. So we knew we’d have to clear out plenty of clutter. We didn’t expect to have to take out almost everything.
Three bookshelves in my office, one apiece in three bedrooms and one in the basement all had to go. That meant packing up and carrying about 600 books to the garage. We also had to remove sofas, chairs, dressers, cabinets, lamps, televisions, a desk, kitchenware and one-third of the clothes in our closets. Our garage is now filled to the limit with furniture and full boxes. Be prepared to park your car outside.
It’s not your home anymore
We’ve lived in this home for more than a decade, so the walls are covered in plenty of family pictures. Our stager wasn’t impressed. She told us that almost every picture had to go. To show the house, the walls had to be almost bare, with the exception of a strategically placed mirror or two and a couple of small scenic pictures in nice frames. This removes personality, allowing potential buyers to see the house as theirs, not yours.
The walls are in worse shape than you think
Once you start removing the clutter, you’ll find all kind of unpleasant surprises. Once we removed those dressers, we found myriad nail holes, gouges and cracks that were easily visible in the naked walls. They required filling the holes and fixing the damaged spots, then sanding the walls smooth and then vacuuming up all the dust. It proved to be a time-consuming project that we hadn’t planned to undertake. On the plus side, the new homeowners are going to have perfect walls.
Those large items might not come back out so easily
You may tell yourself that anything you got in a room in one piece will come back out in one piece. But as anyone who has ever moved can attest, getting a large item, mainly a sofa, through tight doorways can be like trying to solve a puzzle that weighs several hundred pounds.
Our absurdly heavy sofa with a hideaway bed refused to come out of a room. No matter how we twisted, flipped or contorted the couch, it jammed against the wall opposite the doorway before we could get it out. I ended up taking it apart and removing the bed to get it through the door.
Some cleaning projects will be frustratingly stubborn
A decade’s worth of hands running up and down our handrails had caused the brown-stained wood to turn dark and ugly. The wood grains were nearly black. We had cleaned the railings periodically with a wood cleaner, but it didn’t remove or prevent what looked like black stains running the length of the rails. Finally, we used a liquid dishwasher detergent mixed with water to cut through the grease. Then we used a lemon-based furniture cleaner and a lot of vigorous scrubbing to get the wood clean. There are going to be projects that won’t come clean with just a sponge, soap and water, especially if you’ve lived in a home for many years.
Fix those nagging problems — but don’t expect them to be easy
The pop-up sink stopper in the bathroom sink hadn’t worked in awhile. It was a problem we could live with — the water still drained just fine — but I wanted to fix it before listing the house; even small, neglected problems could put off buyers.
What should have been a simple fix turned into a major project. The replacement stopper wouldn’t work either. Since one of the faucet handles was cracked anyway, we decided to replace the whole faucet and drain assembly. After three trips to the home center — one for the stopper, one for the new faucet and then one to replace the shutoff valves that decided to start leaking after being turned off for the first time in years — and spending plenty of time working in the tight quarters behind the pedestal sink, the faucet and drain worked great. But it shot an entire afternoon.
Everything will take longer than you think
We made the decision to sell our home in early April. My kids and my wife, who’s a teacher, were on spring break, and I took the better part of the week off to get the house in order. With all four of us working, we expected to have the house ready for listing by the end of the week. And by working 12-plus hours a day, we almost made our goal.
We ate up four days filling nail holes, sanding and giving each room two coats of paint, which put us behind schedule. We also ran into the common problem most people face when they prepare to move: We had a lot more stuff than we thought, and it took a long time to pack it up. It also made us wonder why we didn’t have a garage sale a long, long time ago.
The house won’t stay clean
With the house freshly painted, thoroughly cleaned and filled with just a minimal amount of furniture in the rooms, our mission of making the home look large and inviting was accomplished. It actually looks better now than when we bought it. But maintaining that clean and organized look is a challenge that we have to answer every day because of constant showings.
Despite a new family-wide policy of not wearing shoes indoors and not touching the walls, the house won’t stay clean. The floor in the foyer seems to magically attract mud, the carpet constantly needs vacuuming, schoolbooks and backpacks appear throughout the house and the walls get dinged and need to be touched up. Some of this is unavoidable: You can’t live in a house without kicking up a little dirt. It’s what we’ll be dealing with until the house sells.
This article was originally published on MSN Real Estate. To see the original article, click here.
What happens if a Realtor doesn’t show up for a showing? Today’s question comes from Knoxville, TN.
Q: Today this was the second time this has happened to me. A Realtor was supposed to show my house between 6:15 and 7:15 pm.
I spent my day off preparing the house for the showing, including turning on extra lights and extra heat. It was another no show with no phone call advising me of this. Is this something I can report to the local board of realtors? I feel this was very rude, inconsiderate and extremely unprofessional.
A: I can understand your frustration. I’m sure you understand that there is nothing that your listing agent can do, other than letting the agent know about your frustration.
You do however have the right to know which agent was supposed to be showing your home. You should also expect feedback from your listing agent as well, with the positive and not so positive comments about your home. This allows you to make adjustments, to make your home more marketable (if they are feasible and cost effective). Although I agree that being a no-show with no phone call is rude and inconsiderate, I don’t think you would get any justice by calling the board. There isn’t much they can do in a situation like this as circumstances can vary widely as to why an appointment is cancelled. Good luck and hopefully your next showing will be ‘THE ONE.”
– Troy Stavros, REALTOR® Gables & Gates, Realtors
This post was published by Deidre Woollard on realtor.com. See the original post here.