May the Chi be with You

Take a look at the dining room table you never use, the toys on the floor or maybe the pile of dishes in the sink. Clutter, for many people, can induce stress and is often the source when you can’t quite put a finger on what is bothering you. Understanding some basic principles of Feng Shui can help bring you and your home back into balance. A stress free home is not only important for every homeowner, but it is important to a potential buyer as well. A happy home is easier to sell.

Feng Shui Principles when Selling a Home

Chi is energy. Star Wars fans may identify more with the idea of The Force. The energy that binds the galaxy together is the chi that flows through us and our homes. When our chi is blocked, energy is zapped and we feel sad. Houses are no different than living beings when it comes to chi. When chi is constantly flowing through our homes – we feel good. That is why we often feel better after cleaning them. Clutter blocks chi, which is why we feel suffocated when it starts to build up. Continue reading

Austin Home Buyer Style Guide

They say you are what you eat. What kind of home you purchase can say something about you as well. Austin is known for being weird. The eclectic mix of art, music and culture are as unique as the architecture, landscaping and aesthetic designs of Austinites who call this city home. There is quite a buffet of homes styles in Austin to choose from.

Homes for Sale in Austin offer a unique blend of vintage and modern designs. In Austin, you can turn a corner and be in a different neighborhood with a completely different vibe. I’ve had clients in the past who refer to master planned communities as ‘Disney Word’, because all of the homes conform to the same aesthetic tone. Other neighborhoods in Austin look like something out of storybook with bungalow style homes and lemonade porches.

Bungalow homes for traditional buyers in Austin

I have found, more often than not, that who you are, as a buyer, has a lot to do with what type of home you pick. Buyers who like antiques, nostalgia or tend to like structure in their lives, tend to like colonial and bungalow style homes. These buyers don’t care if the floors creek, have no finish and are original from the 1940’s. To them, the floors as real wood and they appreciate the history and authenticity they represent. These traditional buyers also like defined rooms. They like a formal dining room, separate from the kitchen and other rooms, because to them every room has a unique purpose and therefore should have a unique identity.

Dated homes ready for a remodel attract creative types in Austin.

Unlike traditional personalities, progressive buyers roll with the times. In my experience these buyers tend to be creative, artist types who don’t always look at a house for what it is… but rather what it could be. These buyers are deciding what walls they are knocking down and how to expand the kitchen. These are the dreamers who know very well they may never get to every project they envision, but see the potential and possibility.

Modern homes in Austin for buyers who think out of the box.

Modern buyers are similar to progressive type, but have a flare for drama. These buyers are drawn to open floor plans and like mid-century, contemporary and trend setting designs. They feel boxed in with too many walls. They like vaulted ceilings with a uniform tone between living areas. To some people, these homes look like office buildings, but to modern home buyers, they are dramatic and unique – a work of art in their own right.

The funny thing is that you typically don’t like what you grew up with. For example, I grew up in a mid-century modern single story home, but my brother, sister and I have always lived in 2-story traditional homes. I find this to be the case with more of my buyers than not. Maybe it’s the rebel in us or simply that we know deep down change is good.

Austin New Home Building

UpgreadesAUSTIN, TX – New construction is happening all over Austin.  Having a home built is an attractive alternative to for many buyers. Building, however, comes with a price which is not what is advertised.  Understanding the real cost of a new home before walking into the sales office saves time to focus on details and a bit of frustration as well.

Austin New Home Search

The starting price can be a little misleading when it comes to building a new home. Buyers often think that houses can be purchased at the starting price.  In reality, every new home build has a starting and ending price.

Replacing the word ‘starting’ with ‘base’ clarifies the marketing message to buyers who want to have a home built. The total cost is built off the base price through the selection process for line items like lot premiums and upgrades.

Austin New Home Building Prices

The elevation and floor plan will initially set the base price. Both the floor plan and elevation will be available to be built on specific lots. The master plan for the community will limit and vary the elevations based on lot location. Limiting floor plans creates an architectural balance throughout the community. Lot sizes and set back requirements will also limit what floor plan can be built on any specific lot.

Once a floor plan is selected, a buyer will then select a lot based on those that will accommodate that particular style. Lot premiums are added to the price of the house and will vary greatly based on size, location and desirability. It is not unusual for lot premiums to cost anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000.

The Process of Building a New Home

If the buyer can get passed the cost of the lot premium and floor plan, upgrades are often a larger hurdle, but can be managed with some self control. Some buyers feel overwhelmed with the selection when they go the design center, while others feel like a kid in a candy store. Regardless of what end of the spectrum the buyer is on, everyone tends to feel a bit overwhelmed in the end. Upgrades can be pricey.

New Home Features and Upgrades

Frugal and savvy buyers will go with as many base levels as possible and only upgrade a few features they don’t want to replace or install later on. Tile would be a good example of something to upgrade. Nobody wants to replace tile down the road. Paint color is another popular upgrade. Standard choices are often white, white or white. Painting can be a big project not everyone will want to tackle later with a different color.

Buyers need to approach upgrades just like shopping for groceries. They should go with a budget and a list of a few items that may be worth upgrading. They should also go alone. There will be time to show friends and family everything later. Bringing friends to the design center can be like taking kids to the grocery store. Suddenly, the basket is full with a bunch of items that are nice to have, but not really necessary. The extra $100 spent at the grocery store, equates to about $10,000 at the design center.

There is nothing like a new home. Brand new appliances, fresh paint and new carpet under your feet are an experience, as a whole, you only get once – if at all. With a bit of a frugal mindset and understanding that the starting price is typically about 10-20% less than the final cost – you can do it.

Ready to sell in Sellers’ Market Austin

sellers' market austinThe sellers’ market Austin is experiencing is showing no signs of slowing down. Statistics from March 2016 in by Austin Board of REALTORS® show Austin-area single-family home sales up 9.3 percent totaling 2,552 home sales compared to March 2015. A sellers market indicates inventory is low and demand is high. There is still competition within specific markets and there are still buyer certain expectations when it comes to condition.

Sellers’ Market Austin

When you have owned a home for a while, things tend to disappear. The do-it-yourself crown molding project that stops half way across the wall is now invisible. The trim around the replacement window from 5 years ago that never got repainted is just a distant memory. You don’t see them anymore, so they have been removed from the perpetual to-do list. Now you want to sell your house and the memories come rushing back of how you couldn’t cut the angle right or find the paint color.

Sell a Home in Austin

Unfinished projects disappear two ways. One way is to pay a professional to come in and finish or redo the project. Yes, there is a cost here, but it eliminates the question in the buyer’s mind of what it will take to finish it. The second way to deal with an unfinished project is to make it go away again.

Money can have the magical power of making things go away and may come into play even in the Sellers’ market Austin has. If a seller does not have the money to finish a project before putting it on the market, making a price concession either on the home’s sales price or even offering some closing costs will help.

Unfinished projects tend to haunt buyers just as they may have weighed on a seller at one point in time.

The truth is that not all unfinished projects ever get finished. That little thing called ‘life’ happens and often gets in the way. They are often in a constant state of either being the elephant in the room or invisible. It’s all a matter of perspective.

May the Chi be with You

zenTake a look at the dining room table you never use, the toys on the floor or maybe the pile of dishes in the sink. Clutter, for many people, can induce stress and is often the source when you can’t quite put a finger on what is bothering you. Understanding some basic principles of Feng Shui can help bring you and your home back into balance. A stress free home is not only important for every homeowner, but it is important to a potential buyer as well. A happy home is easier to sell.

Feng Shui Principles when Selling a Home

Chi is energy. Star Wars fans may identify more with the idea of The Force. The energy that binds the galaxy together is the chi that flows through us and our homes. When our chi is blocked, energy is zapped and we feel sad. Houses are no different than living beings when it comes to chi. When chi is constantly flowing through our homes – we feel good. That is why we often feel better after cleaning them. Clutter blocks chi, which is why we feel suffocated when it starts to build up.

Buyers pick up on positive and negative chi very quickly. When the energy is good, they immediately light up even if the house is not exactly a match. On the flip side, when the energy is bad, buyers either can’t wait to leave or start picking the house apart.

Home Selling Tips

If you are just trying to feel more at harmony with your home, sometimes a good cleaning is all you need. That cleaning also includes a certain level of decluttering. Everything on that dining room table needs to go to its proper home, papers need to be filed and everything lining the stairs needs to go to the second floor. If you are selling a home, it is time to take things to the next level. You have all seen the TV shows – it’s time to keep it, sell it, toss it or donate it. Don’t move things you don’t want and don’t shove them in the closet either.

Good Chi in Homes

When selling, living space needs to have good chi and closets do as well. Buyers want to open closets and feel like there is room. When a closet is disorganized and stuffed to the max – the buyer’s brain says “there is no room in here for my things.” Garages and cabinets need to be organized too. If you want to keep things, but know your house is overstuffed, renting self-storage space may help. You can often rent climate controlled space for just a few months until closing on a new home. You may not need a very large space and can cram things in to your heart’s content.

Giving a home space to breathe will help you do so as well. The positive chi will flow, which will not only make you feel good, but feel good to be home.

The Reality of Remodeling

remodel HGTV is powerful. I cannot even begin to tell you how many homeowners I speak to who got an idea to attempt a do-it-yourself project as a result of watching a home makeover show. If you are chuckling on the inside, it may be because you are one of them. I use the word ‘attempt’, because while these shows inspire and educate, they also tend to make projects seem simpler than they are.

Reality TV Shows vs. Remodeling in the Real World

Remember, it’s an 10 hour project shown in 30 minutes. TV shows have the power to edit and often have a team completing the handiwork behind the scenes. It’s a reality show, just like any other.  I laugh on the inside and try not to show my angst on the outside when I go on a listing appointment with those who lost their drive on a remodel. The results range from unfinished faux painted walls, tile put in place that was never grouted and crown molding that doesn’t completely go around the ceiling. All of these unfinished projects are going to affect the sales price of your home.

It is easier to sell a dated home that is fully functioning and completed, than a home that seems to stop mid sentence. To a buyer, the project needs to be finished. I often have to change the perception of the seller, to see these things with buyers’ eyes, because after a while the seller doesn’t see the projects anymore. They have been living with them for so long; they just tend to blend into the background.

Do-it-yourself Projects

Many home supply stores offer classes on do-it-yourself projects. I often recommend someone take one before making a decision to start a project. We are all good at something, but certainly not good at everything. Have a reality check with yourself when you are watching those reality shows. Get a real education on what’s involved with a do-it-yourself project, before you begin one.

Kitchens Designed for Living

kitchenMy first house was built in 1939 and had a door on every entry point to the kitchen. The purpose was to keep the smells of the kitchen contained and possibly to keep traffic out while cooking. My how times have changed. Kitchens are not just for cooking anymore.  People find themselves multitasking constantly, so it’s no wonder why modern kitchens are designed for multiple purposes.

Austin New Home Builds

Open concept kitchens are common floor plan designs in new home builds in both single family houses and condos. The size of the home does not matter. I recently started planning a new build for a client in Northwest Austin. Every size and floor plan includes a desk area, bar area or center island.   New kitchen designs welcome people to congregate, provide more organization for home office space and sometimes even include a built-in dining space for your pets.

Kitchen Designs for Today’s Living

An open concept kitchen is often an extension of a living area in today’s new homes. When I am a designing home with a client I try to get them to think about the kitchen and living area as a unit. The idea is that you want the kitchen finishes to compliment the look of the living room furnishings. The selections available today in cabinetry, range hoods and back splash are more ornate in design and diverse in material, often becoming the focal point in the home.

Open Concept Kitchens

When I am showing older homes, many buyers have thoughts and ideas of taking walls down to open up the kitchen floor plan. Although HGTV and other home design programs make taking a wall down look easy – it often is not. Those walls were put there for a reason, so it is important to hire an engineer or building professional before breaking out that sledge hammer to find out what wall or column is load-bearing. Modifications may need to be made to help you achieve the look you want without compromising the structural integrity of the house.