Design Tips

Heart of the Home Moves Outside

Blog, Design Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Many of us take pride in our homes, investing countless hours rearranging and remodeling the interior. But it can also be refreshing to step out of the confines of the inside and spend some time outside. As millions of Americans ready their outdoor space for summer season, a new study reveals just how enamored U.S. homeowners are with their backyards. Eighty-three percent of homeowners across the country say their outdoor living space is the favorite place in their home. And it is the most used space in American households just behind the kitchen, and way ahead of the game room, living room and dining room. According to Saber’s “Outdoor Living 2014″ survey, approximately 81 percent of respondents called their outdoor space “the heart of the home.”

As your clients are prepping their homes for the summer selling season, they may want to keep outdoor space in mind. The outdoor space s a major factor in today’s home buyers decision and they are very engaged in making it comfortable. Turning a yard, patio, porch or other outdoor area into a functional living space can be a rewarding task, and will expand your living space to the outdoors. Americans view their backyard as both a Zen spot and an entertainment zone and the space is outfitted accordingly with a grill, shade, chairs & dining sets and access to wi-fi. Universally, on the top of our wish list for our outdoor space is a pool or hot tub. Home seller should consider how this group and lead the way in defining how an outdoor space can be used and decorated. With the right setup, you can spend more time in the sunshine and fresh air, and host events al fresco for friends, family

Transform Your Yard With Outdoor Room

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Inviting, sophisticated outdoor rooms are in high demand among home buyers, and they serve as a way to extend your homes living space. Adding life to outdoor spaces will help sell the ifestyle of a home. Outdoor living spaces have become the new ‘great room’ in terms of must-have items for home owners. Way too often backyards are boring and not brought to their full potential. You can make a home stand out by showing buyers all the potential your property has to offer inside and out. Here are staging tips to help buyers imagine gathering spaces, or entertainment coves that are possible with your property. 1) Conversation Areas – group furniture around a tabletop fire pit to show it as a great spot for get-togethers. 2) Entertainment Areas – place a table and chairs in the middle of a garden area and string lights around the trees surrounding it, capturing a warm glow. 3) Built-Ins – outdoor kitchens add 130 percent to a home’s value. 4) Water Feature – whimsical fountains and quiet reflection pools 5) Lighting – light play can be an important part of any landscape and add a whole new dimension to a yard. An outdoor space doesn’t have to be huge to make a big impact, send buyers a subtle message of relaxation and entertaining by creating vignettes.

Green Home Could Mean More Green in the Bank

Blog, Design Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Those solar panels could help secure a larger home loan under legislation now pending in the U.S. Senate. The SAVE Act would require Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration — about 90 percent of the mortgage market — to add energy efficiency to their underwriting policies. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., filed the bill in June. SAVE stands for Sensible Accounting to Value Energy. Mortgage lenders and appraisers do not consider the value of a home’s energy-efficient technology. While utility bills are ignored in mortgage underwriting, they usually amount to more money than real estate taxes or homeowner’s insurance. The typical U.S. homeowner pays $2,500 on home energy bills annually. The organization estimates an energy efficient upgrade, even a small one, could reduce a home’s energy bills by 30 percent or more. Roughly 30% of new homes come with a home energy audit. The trick is understanding how a lender factors the energy audit and the estimate of expenses into the eligibility decisions. The mortgage industry has yet to get a tight a handle on this. It will take some time, but other criteria such as credit scores took years to develop.

Is Your Home Faucet Better Than Bottled Water?

Blog, Design Tips, Hermosa Beach News   |   Dunham Stewart
Tap or bottled, that is the question. We’re not quite sure when the negative stigma surrounding tap water first started, but we’re here to try and dispel it. Did you know that roughly 246.4 bottles of water were consumed, per American, last year alone? We support making the healthy choice of choosing water over other artificial thirst quenchers but when you’re at home the water from your sink just might be a better option than what’s in the plastic bottle. Bottled water is less regulated than tap and up to 40% of bottled water in the US and Canada is actually filtered municipal tap water. So join the revolution and switch to tap. We now know that tap is just as healthy, if not more, than bottled water. What we also know is that bottled water is not always healthy for the environment. Plastic takes years to decompose and only further burdens our already inundated landfills. Recycling water bottles is crucial, but it is still creating unnecessary waste given the fact that you can just as easily use that glass in your cabinet instead of that disposable container. There is also a really cool product out right now called Boxed Water is Better. Instead of using plastic, they chose to use a box which 76% of which is derived from trees, which makes for an easier recycling process. And while they are in the business shipping water out to millions around the world the company also states, “…we really care about the world’s water supply. 10% of our profit is donated to world water relief foundations.” Now that’s a great cause and incentive to make the switch away from using plastic!

Benefits of a Greener Home

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Once upon a time, living green meant doing with less and sacrificing on creature comforts. Technology has changed all that and provided the opportunity to reset consumers expectations. Today sustainability is not about sacrifice , but an improved quality of life. Green homes are more comfortable and healthier, and the trend is no short term fad. Green homes are expected to grow to over 30 percent of the market by 2016. Buyers today are looking beyond, location, floor plan and price point, now they are considering sustainability. Younger buyers have been raised on the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle. Active older adults come from a different perspective having been paying rising utility bills for years, and are ready for more efficient solutions. Homes now consume typically twice as much energy and water as homeowners actually utilize. Over a 30 year mortgage they waste more than $70,000 in utilities. Green improvements change the economics, they can make a home safer, more comfortable and healthier. Sustainable homes incorporate a range of systems, tactics and practices. The can use reclaimed building materials, water conserving measures, sustainable landscaping, smart home technology like multi-zone HVAC to lessen the environmental impact. Simple tips for homeowners include: 1) Log on to a free online tool that shows how to  make greener choices. 2) Schedule a home energy audit. 3) Check home insulation and ensure windows and doors are properly sealed. 4) Replace old appliances and furnaces 5) Swap out incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.

5 DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Doing it yourself is a great way to save money. Home improvements and repairs can be costly, and any contractor you hire to do the job will mark-up prices on materials and labor. Some will also charge for an estimate, although that is rare these days. So, with that in mind, and with the Internet being such a vast resource of free information, it’s very easy to be tempted to do a lot of these expensive jobs yourself. However, you can soon find yourself out of your depth and spending even more money than the initial job would have cost to correct your own mistakes. Here is a list of jobs that you should think twice about attempting: 1. Tree Removal – If it’s a large tree, you need to know exactly how to make it fall in the right direction. If you do manage to plan it correctly, and it falls just where you want, you now have a stump to remove. A huge, heavy stump with a root system that could spread 20 to 40 feet. After all that heaving and pulling, probably with a truck, you now have a very heavy stump to haul away, plus the rest of the tree. Hire a tree service; they do this daily and they’re reasonably priced. 2. Major Plumbing or Electrical Work – If you have a blocked toilet or a leaky faucet, don’t pay big money on a contractor, installing a new ceiling fan or light is no big deal either. But when it comes to anything that involves rerouting pipe work or significant rewiring, don’t save a buck and do it yourself. This requires the work of professionals, it’s not worth the risk. 3. Installing New Windows – When you consider you are literally cutting a huge hole in the side of your house and have to make sure it is safe and watertight, is it worth saving the money? Even a small mistake could result in serious damage to your home and the contents. Hire a contractor. 4. Gutter Repair or Replacement – At first glance, it seems easy enough. But consider this — the guttering system is directly linked to the roof, and it is virtually impossible to repair it without impacting that roof. Save yourself the headache and the risk of injury to yourself and damage to the roof. Call the pros. 5. Attic Insulation – Just throwing a bit of insulation in the attic? No worries. Well, think again. If you don’t know which type of insulation to use, how much to use, and where to put it, you can actually create new problems. These include improper ventilation, home overheating, and even wood rot from moisture buildup. And if you don’t watch your step, you could come right through the ceiling. I would recommend a professional service.

Landscaping Affects House Values

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Landscaping can often enhance price and reduce a home’s time on the market. The question to consider: Is the landscaping attractive enough to make the prospective buyer walk through the front door? Landscaping is typically associated with lawns, trees, bushes and flowers. But other items also can be considered part of landscaping, such as fire pits, decks, patios, waterfalls, swimming pools and outdoor lighting … all of which could add to the value of the home. Curb appeal is essential when selling a home, it is the homeowner’s opportunity to make a great first impression. A home with lackluster landscaping or an exterior in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint will likely be unappealing to prospective buyers and ultimately could affect the home’s potential resale value. Homeowners should keep the design contemporary and in line with comparable properties in the area. Trim growth regularly, replant approximately every 5 to 10 years depending on growth and not “overwhelm” the house. Landscaping improvements could make an impact on resale value, and homeowners need to consider how long they’ll be in the home and whether to make short-term updates or plan for the long haul.

The Psychology of Color at Home

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Color plays a huge role in any home. It can make a room feel warm and inviting or cold and stale depending the shade. While each homeowners personal tastes will effect the color scheme of any home, there are some psychological influences that should cause us to think about that next room painting project. What colors are right for you and why? And how we subconsciously react to them. Did you know blue is the best color for a study? Why? Because psychologically it’s the color that makes us the most productive. The infographic below from Painters of Louisville is really interesting. It breaks down the best colors for your state of mind in each room at home, but also gives you some background into how each color makes our minds react. Click here to see the full size infographic and find out which rooms you’ll soon need to repaint because they’re causing psychological problems…or not.

Easy Ways To Green Your Home

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
More home owners and buyers are ranking energy-efficient and environmentally friendly home features high in surveys.

  • Swap out the light bulbs: LED light bulbs are known as being 80 percent more energy efficient and lasting as much as 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
  • Have a programmable thermostat: These devices that allow you more easily to adjust the temperature can save a home owner about $180 a year in energy costs, according to Energy Star.
  • Trade in the old water heater: A heat pump hot water heater is known to be more than twice as efficient as standard electric resistance tanks, according to the AOL Real Estate article.
  • Add aerators to faucets and showerheads: These devices can limit the amount of water that is used.
  • Add ceiling fans: “Energy Star-qualified fans are 50 percent more efficient than conventional units and can save up to $15 per year on utility bills,” according to AOL Real Estate.
  • Use Energy Star appliances: For example, replacing a dishwasher that was made before 1994 with an Energy Star-certified one can save $40 on utility bills by using less water. Energy Star-rated refrigerators can save home owners from $200 to $1,100 over the life of the appliance.

Husbands Get Ready For Spring Cleaning

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Husbands, that day is coming. A sunny Saturday morning and your wife will turn to you and say, “I think we need to do some spring cleaning today.” Home improvement stores depict spring as a joyous occasion, the truth is no one truly enjoys the annual spring cleaning of your home. And most of the time, husbands aren’t prepared for this undertaking either. Well, it’s about time you got prepared. Here’s our list of things husbands will need: 1. A Full Tank of Gas – So you’re ready for wherever your spring cleaning travels may take you. On any given Saturday you might be asked to make 14 runs to your local hardware store for supplies, tools, and things that you did not even know existed. 2. A Shop Vac – If you already have one, you know how useful it is. If you don’t, you desperately need one. Why? Because it can suck up anything. Leaves, dirt, small rodents, you name it and a good shop vac will take care of it. 3. An Entertainment App – Pop in some earbuds and you’ll soon find that the hours spent sweating in the garage are passing sooner than you expected. A subscription to Spotify or the MLB At Bat app or so you’ll have a new form of entertainment to keep you occupied while you labor away at home. 4. OpenTable App – What on earth does this have to do with spring cleaning? Let’s say you get the dreaded statement that today is the day for a full on cleaning of the house. You can simply say, “Oh really? I was going to surprise you and take you to dinner tonight.” You’ve just set an end time for your spring cleaning schedule. Get the OpenTable app on your smartphone so you can secretly make those reservations whenever you get the chance 5. Better Hearing – No app or tool can help with this, but when spring cleaning arrives at your home you better have your ears cleaned out. You will be told 25 different things you need to do in the span of about 45 seconds. If you forget one of those things, you’re going to be in trouble. Good luck this spring gentlemen.
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