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January 11, 2018

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What’s Hot: Trends in the Pipeline for 2018

January 4, 2018

2018 with house replacing 0

 

DECEMBER 2017 |  BY: BARBARA BALLINGER – REALTOR® Magazine

 

Every industry tracks innovations in its field, and housing is no different. As a real estate pro, here are the need-to-know products and services promising to transform homes and your clients’ lifestyles over the next year or so.

The big-picture view on housing trends in 2018 center around integrating technology and creating healthy and connected living environments. That’s why building materials, systems, and products that speak to these concerns are expected to generate greater buzz in the coming year. And with more generations living under the same roof, home-related features that provide an extra pair of hands or calming—even spiritual—influence are also being enthusiastically embraced. Here’s a sampling of coming trends that are important to understand and share with clients.

The Rise of the Tech Guru

Why now: Smart homes are getting smarter, with homeowners increasingly purchasing devices and apps that perform tasks such as opening blinds, operating sprinkler systems, and telling Alexa what food to order. But not all these helpers speak the same language, nor do they always work together harmoniously. “Even plugs and chargers aren’t necessarily universal for different appliances and phones,” says Lisa Cini, senior living designer and author of The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined (iUniverse, 2016). Also, with more devices competing for airtime, Wi-Fi systems may not be strong enough to operate throughout a home, which results in dead spots, she says. “What many homeowners need is a skilled tech provider who makes house calls, assesses what’s needed, and makes all the tech devices hum effortlessly at the same time.”

What you should do: More buyers want to see listings updated to take advantage of all technological possibilities from the moment they move in. Add a home technology source to your list of trusted experts. You might even be able to offer a free first visit as a closing gift.

Smart Glass Adds Privacy, Energy Savings

Why now: As more homes feature bigger and more numerous windows, homeowners will naturally look for ways to pare down the energy costs, lack of privacy, and harmful ultraviolet rays that can accompany them. Next year, glass company Kinestral Technologies will begin offering a residential option to their line of windows and skylights. Called Halio, the technology allows users to tint glazing electronically up to 99.9 percent opacity. The company claims this can eliminate the need for blinds, shades, and curtains. “You’ll be able to tell Alexa to tint your windows, which will also provide privacy,” says Craig Henricksen, vice president of product and marketing for Halio. He notes that previously, the commercial version only offered the choice between yellow, brown, or blue casts, but that they’ll now add in an appealing gray tint to the mix. Windows come in a variety of sizes, and contractors can install the cable and low voltage system required to change the tinting. Homeowners can control the tint by voice command through an app, manual operation with switch, or with preset controls. Henricksen says Halio can save homeowners up to 40 percent off their energy bill, and that while the initial cost is around five to six times greater than similar low-E glass, the fact that traditional window treatments won’t be needed means the investment gap narrows.

What you should do: This is an important option to keep in mind if buyers are unsure about big, long runs of windows in a listing. It may make sense to price out options for your particular listing to help home shoppers understand how much it might cost to retrofit the space with such technology.

Spiritual Gardens That Lift the Soul

Why now: Homeowners have long seen their gardens as a place for quiet reflection, so choosing plants and designs that have a physical tie to spirituality is a natural next move. The trend may have started with Bible gardens, which use any number of the more than 100 plants mentioned in the Christian text to populate a restful repose. “So many are good choices because they are hardy, scented, edible, and can withstand harsh climates and environments,” says F. Nigel Hepper, with the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, and author of Illustrative Encyclopedia of Biblical Plants (Inter-Varsity Press, 1992). But people of all faiths, or even those simply drawn to botanical history, can appreciate such spaces. “Around for generations, they feed the body and the soul,” says landscape designer Michael Glassman, who designed such a garden in the shape of a Jewish star as a meditative spot at one of Touro University’s campuses. He filled it with mint, pomegranate trees, sage, and other plants that are mentioned in ancient religious texts. Hepper says labeling and providing detailed context to plantings can transform a miscellaneous, obscure collection into an instructive experience.

What you should do: Find out if your local area has a peace garden that could provide examples of this trend. Homeowners might also find inspiration on the grounds of hospitals and assistance care facilities, which often create healing gardens for patients and family members.

Kitchens That Do More Than Just Look Pretty

Why now: An emphasis on eating fresh, healthy foods may mean more frequent trips to grocery stores and farmers markets, but it could also change the architecture of our kitchens. Portland, Ore.–based designer Robin Rigby Fisher says many of her higher-end clients want a refrigerator-only column to store their fresh foods, installing a freezer or freezer drawer in a separate pantry or auxiliary kitchen. The container-gardening industry is vying for counter space with compact growing kits that often feature self-watering capabilities and grow lights. Fisher is also getting more requests for steam ovens that cook and reheat foods without stripping them of key nutrients, though she notes that these ovens can cost $4,000 and have a steeper learning curve than conventional ones. Homeowners also want to be able to use their kitchen comfortably, which means having different or variable counter heights that work for each member of the family, ample light for safe prepping, easy-to-clean countertops, and flooring that’s softer underfoot, such as cork.

What you should do: Be able to point out the beneficial elements of appliances and features in your listing, such as the antimicrobial nature of surfaces like quartzite and copper.

Home Robots to the Rescue

Why now: With lifestyles that seem busier by the day and many families inviting elders who require assistance to live with them, robots that can perform multiple services are gaining in popularity. IRobot’s Braava robots mop and vacuum floors, while Heykuri’s Kuri robot captures short videos of key life moments, including pets’ antics when owners are away. Some robots offer health benefits that mimic real pets, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, says Cini. She says Hasbro’s Joy for All line of furry robot dogs and cats can provide companionship for the elderly with dementia.

What you should do: Ask buyers about pain points in their current homes that might be mitigated by these new interactive technologies.

Black Is the New Gray

Why now: Palettes change all the time, and some feel the interest in black is a welcome contrast after years of off-whites, grays, and beiges. The hue is coming on strong in every category—appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting, metal finishes, hardware, and soft goods, according to commercial interior designer Mary Cook of Mary Cook Associates. She appreciates black’s classic, neutral, sophisticated touch and notes it can be a universal mixer. “Black is a welcome accent in any palette,” she says. Marvin Windows and Doors launched its Designer Black line this year, incorporating a hip industrial vibe. Designer Kristie Barnett, owner of the Expert Psychological Stager training company in Nashville, loves how black mullions draw the eye out toward exterior views more efficiently than white windows can. Kohler has released its popular Numi line and Iron Works freestanding bath in black. Even MasterBrand cabinets are available in black stains and paints. For homeowners who prefer to step lightly into the trend, Chicago designer Jessica Lagrange suggests painting a door black.

What you should do: Suggest black accents as an option for sellers looking to update their homes to appear more modern.

Air Locks Preserve Energy, Increase Security

Why now: Incorporating two airtight doors has become a popular way for homeowners to cut energy costs. The double barrier helps keep outside air from entering the main portion of the house and provides a better envelope seal. “We rarely design a house nowadays without one,” says Orren Pickell, president of Orren Pickell Building Group in Northfield, Ill. It’s not just energy homeowners save, though; Pickell says it also supports the trend of more people shopping online. “It keeps packages safer than being left in full view” because delivery services can leave them inside the first door. Homeowners will need a minimum area of five feet squared in order to make this work. Costs vary by project size but it could run homeowners as much as $10,000 to add a small space beyond a front or back door. This usually costs less in new construction or as part of a larger remodeling project, Pickell says.

What you should do: If homeowners are thinking about making changes to their main entryway, be sure to alert them to this trend so they can decide if it makes sense to incorporate it. It may be expensive, but it’s not likely to go out of fashion anytime soon.

Maximized Side Yards

Why now: As a national trend toward smaller lot sizes combines with surging interest in maximizing outdoor space, one area that’s often neglected is the side yard. But designers are beginning to pay attention, transforming these afterthoughts into aesthetically pleasing, functional places that buffer a home from neighbors, says Glassman. He suggests growing plants such as star jasmine, climbing roses, and clematis vertically along the siding or a fence. He has created a pleasant pass-through to a backyard, with meandering walkways flanked by ornamental grasses or honeysuckle. Homeowners who have extra space here might consider adding a small recirculating water feature or a tiny sitting area.

What you should do: Pay special attention to side yards when evaluating a home that’s about to go up on the market. Sellers don’t need to spend much to make this space stand out, and any little thing is better than the feeling that the space has been “thrown away, since real estate is so valuable,” Glassman says.

Battery Backup Systems Offer Resilience

Why now: Any home owner who’s experienced a weather-related disaster, such as hurricanes, forest fires, and torrential downpours, understands the peace of mind that comes from having systems in place to help withstand Mother Nature’s worst punches. One example of this is a battery backup that integrates into a home’s electric system and operates during power outages, says architect Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning in Chicago. The backup batteries can store either electricity from the grid or renewable energy generated onsite by solar panels or other means. A key advantage is that the system doesn’t create the noise and pollution you get with an old-school generator, because it doesn’t use natural gas or diesel fuel. While they’re generally more expensive than traditional fossil fuel systems, prices do continue to drop.

What you should do: Understand the difference between a battery backup system and a typical generator, even if you’re not working in an area that sees frequent extreme weather events.

Missing Middle Housing

Why now: Architect Daniel Parolek, principal at Opticos Design in Berkeley, Calif., sees a solution emerging for the mismatch between demand and the housing that’s actually been delivered over the last 20 to 30 years. “Thirty percent of home buyers are single, and their numbers may swell to 75 to 85 percent by 2040, yet 90 percent of available housing is designed for families and located in single-family home neighborhoods,” he says. Parolek says builders must fill in this demand with smaller housing of 600 to 1,200 square feet, usually constructed in styles such as duplexes and cottages communities, and preferably in walkable areas. He cites Holmes Homes’ small townhouses at Daybreak in South Jordan, Utah, as an affordable transit-oriented development that follows missing middle principles.

What you should do: Know where existing missing middle housing may be hiding in your community, so you can help buyers of all ages seeking smaller homes. Also, look for opportunities to invest, either for yourself or your clients, in a type of housing that will likely see more demand than supply in the coming years.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.

Prepaying Your Property Tax? I.R.S. Cautions It Might Not Pay Off

December 29, 2017

Trying to get ahead of the new tax law, Gail Trachtenberg and Lewis Eron prepay part of their 2018 property tax bill on Dec. 22. in Cherry Hill, N.J. The I.R.S. said that maneuver could work, but only under limited circumstances .CreditGeoff Mulvihill/Associated Press

 

The Internal Revenue Service has a message for the homeowners rushing to prepay their property taxes before new rules take effect on New Year’s Day: Not so fast.

The tax bill that President Trump signed into law last week sharply limited the itemized deductions for state and local taxes while raising the standard deduction for individuals and couples. Those rules do not take effect until 2018, however. That has led some homeowners, particularly in high-tax, affluent areas, to try to prepay their 2018 property taxes before the deduction disappears.

In an advisory notice posted to its website on Wednesday, the I.R.S. said that maneuver could work, but only under limited circumstances. To qualify for the deduction, property taxes not only need to be paid in 2017, they must also be assessed in 2017 — meaning that homeowners who prepaid their taxes based on estimated assessments, or who tried to pay several years’ worth of taxes at once, will probably be out of luck.

“Those individuals now are not getting the benefits of those prepayments,” Nicole Kaeding, an economist at the Tax Foundation, said of people who paid taxes that had not yet been assessed. “All that you’ve done is provided an interest-free loan to your municipal government.”

It is not clear how many people have tried to prepay their taxes. In Fairfax, Va., hundreds of people lined up to prepay taxes on Tuesday, according to local media reports, and communities in New York, New Jersey and other states have likewise reported a rush of prepayments.

Some states have encouraged residents to try to skirt the new cap on state and local tax deductions. Last week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed an executive order paving the way for residents to prepay their property taxes.

“We’re doing this to circumvent the bill the president just signed?” Mr. Cuomo asked at a Friday news conference. “You’re damn right I am.”

Those efforts could still succeed. The I.R.S. guidance is advice to taxpayers and tax preparers, not a legal ruling. And the agency did not define what it means for a tax to be “assessed.”

That could turn out to be a key question. Property tax schedules vary widely from state to state and even county to county. Some states have already sent out tax assessments for part of 2018, even if the payments are not due until next year. In those states, tax lawyers said, homeowners who prepay taxes will almost certainly be able to deduct their taxes under the 2017 rules.

Other states have not even begun the 2018 assessment process. In those states, prepayment almost certainly will not help taxpayers.

And in some states, homeowners may have received estimated assessments or taxes due in 2018 based partly on assessments from earlier years. Similarly, Mr. Cuomo’s executive order allowed local governments to levy taxes ahead of schedule. How the I.R.S. will treat such cases remains uncertain.

“It’s an open question right now,” said David Herzig, a professor of tax law at Valparaiso University. “It depends on your state. There’s going to be no uniform answer.”

Mr. Herzig said the I.R.S. guidance was also based on limited precedents and could be overturned by a legal challenge. As a result, he said, many taxpayers might prepay and hope that the courts rule in their favor.

That could be a risky strategy for some taxpayers, however. Andy Grewal, a professor of tax law at the University of Iowa, said that homeowners who paid their taxes into an escrow account — a common practice — could end up facing an audit if they prepay, because the tax payments they report to the I.R.S. will differ from those reported by their banks.

“I think people should be aware that there could be some administrative headaches that come out of this,” Mr. Grewal said.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.

Home Buyer Blunders

December 21, 2017

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.

Solar Products for Your Home

December 14, 2017
Solar shinglesCredit: SunTegra

 

Article by: Ascent Real Estate

Solar power in your home is good for more than just going green and reducing your carbon footprint, it will help you save money on electricity and gas! In addition, if for any reason your power goes out, solar products are still going to work for you. The world is working to move towards more renewable energy, especially where homes are concerned, so stay ahead of the curve and invest in these solar products for your home today. When it comes to selling your home, your home may have a higher value from these investments. Living in sunny San Diego makes solar energy appealing since we have sunny days the majority of the year. Learn more about the large variety of solar products for your home.

 

Credit: Flickr

 

Solar Garden and Patio Fountains

For outside enthusiasts who enjoy sitting and relaxing in their yard, solar garden and patio fountains are a great investment. Instead of having to place a fountain near an outlet, these fountains can go anywhere, no wires or batteries to worry about. The calming sounds of the flowing water and the ease of mind knowing you don’t have to worry about tripping over a cord or replacing the batteries makes solar garden and patio fountain a great addition to your yard décor. Some fountains have separate panels that stake next to the fountain, while some have a panel integrated into the top bowl for a more aesthetic appeal and to maximize ray catching.

Solar Stepping Stones

solar stepping stonesCredit: Wayfair

 

 

Throw out your plastic PV stake lights and replace them with solar stepping stones. The solar stepping stones are stylish and provide the same amount of light the stakes would. These are a great addition to your yard if you don’t have a pathway and want to create one, or to place next to a pathway in your yard.

Solar Generator

solar generator
Credit: Goal Zero

Although it’s unusual, power outages happen, especially during hot days in the summer. It’s best to be prepared as well as you can. With a solar generator, you can feel confident that you will always have some power at the ready in case an emergency does happen. Although solar generators do not provide the same amount of power as a gas generator, they do provide enough energy to power essentials for survival like mini fridges, phones, and other small items. Having one of these handy could save a life.

Solar Attic Fans

solar attic fan
Credit: Flickr

Running the AC all summer can take a toll on your electric bill, which is where solar attic fans can come in handy. Solar attic fans blow in your attic to help cool it down, which will cool down your entire home. This will result in the AC turning on less and thus saving you more money on AC in the summer. This is a good first step in creating a more energy efficient home in San Diego.

Solar Powered Pool Heaters

solar pool heater
Credit: Flickr

It’s quite common for a San Diego homeowner to have a pool in their backyard. Unfortunately, the pool is only swimmable for barely a quarter of the year because the water is too cold. Luckily, there are solar powered pool heaters that can help keep your pool warm all year. Solar powered pool heaters have panels installed on the roof where cool water from the pool circulates and flows through tubes in the panels and then goes back into the pool.

Solar Powered Water Heaters

Solar Water Heater
Credit: Flickr

Solar powered water heaters come in different types, one is an active heater (it has pumps and controls) and a passive heater which doesn’t have pumps or controls. Active systems tend to be a bit pricier but allow for more leniency in design and placement to hide the tank. Solar powered water heaters require certain needs like the geography of the house and other concerns so it’s best to speak with an expert when considering it.

Solar Powered Security Lights

Credit: Real Goods

Even if you live in a generally safe neighborhood, security lights can always scare off a criminal or potential burglar. Save yourself from the hassle of replacing batteries or worrying about the cost of electricity and install solar powered security lights for the security of knowing you will always have a light on when you need it. These are exceptionally handy during power outages and in yards with long driveways or houses that are on dark streets.

Roof Mounted Photovoltaic Solar Panels

solar panels
Credit: Flickr

These are the most common solar panels you will see on people’s houses and they are nothing new. These panels have the same photovoltaic cells that have been used for the past 20 years. The most current solar panels are thinner and more aesthetic today and soak up more of the sun’s rays than before which means you won’t need as many as before to get the job done.

Solar Shingles

Solar shinglesCredit: SunTegra

These are your alternative to solar panels if those aren’t for you. Solar shingles are placed with your other roofing material for a less obvious solar solution. Although they are more aesthetic than the panels, they don’t handle as much energy consumption as the panels.

 

If you have questions on solar products or finding a solar-powered home, just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.

Homeownership Has Its Benefits

December 7, 2017

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.

Real Estate @ A Glance – November 2017 Edition

November 28, 2017

Local Market Update - San Diego County - Real Estate
Here is the latest scoop on the local and state housing markets. For specific information on your neighborhood or a market analysis on your home please  Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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