Wallpaper for the Fifth Wall: A Modern Fix for Popcorn Ceilings?

Some home designers want to make a bigger statement with the ceiling, and they’re turning to wallpaper to do it. Wallpaper is once again growing in popularity for walls, and some designers are now experimenting with it to dress up the ceiling too.

Some designers are using it to transform a ceiling’s living space with wallpaper in minimalist designs or in metallic. It can add texture and certainly some drama to a space.

Some designers are using floor-to-ceiling wallpaper all in the same print. Others may have the walls all painted white or a light color and then use a wallpapered ceiling to jazz up the room. Faux tin on the ceilings can be a way to create a statement ceiling too.

Use with caution, however: A dark or bold of wallpaper could make a ceiling appear lower.

But for spaces that can pull it off, a wallpapered ceiling can look chic. Plus, if you have a listing with dreaded popcorn ceilings, this can be a way to give the ceiling a modern, yet less expensive update. Check out some of these examples from designers at Houzz.

View the full article here at National Realtors Association

Study Says: It’s Easy to Get a Mortgage Again

For many, the path to becoming a first-time homeowner is an uphill climb. Student debt, low wages, high housing prices, and massive down payments can mean putting home-owning dreams on the back burner. But a new report provides a flicker of light for wannabe home buyers: It’s getting pretty easy to land a mortgage again, regardless of these hurdles.

People with higher levels of debt are getting approved for mortgages—and with lower down payments, too, says a new analysis from Core Logic, a real estate data and analytics firm. The study states that 20 percent of all conventional conforming mortgage loans (aka the ones that can be purchased and guaranteed by the federally-owned mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) are now going to traditionally “risky” borrowers (or those with large income-to-debt ratios of 50 percent). Additionally, conventional purchase loans with a down payment of less than 5 percent (compared to the standard 20 percent down) are now making up 9 percent of all these loans, compared to just 2 percent in 2014.

Now, if you’ve already paused at the word “easy mortgage,” don’t necessarily think we’re gearing up for another great economic disaster (thought experts have said there could be a new recession coming in the next couple of years). If you remember the Great Recession of 2008 (or you’ve recently streamed “The Big Short” on Netflix), you know these easy mortgages were one major cause in millions of people losing their jobs, banks needing bailouts, and stock markets across the globe crashing.

Unlike the time leading up the to 2008 recession, today’s borrowers must provide full documentation of their income and ability to repay the loan. The study also states that the average credit score for homebuyers to get a mortgage remains at 755—unchanged in the past year. This means that they’re fiscally responsible candidates, they just might have a little more risk than the banks have previously been comfortable with.

This may have something to do with the overall housing market slowing, too. It seems to be that the banks are realizing that there aren’t that many viable mortgage candidates left that can hit all the marks. So if they want to keep selling mortgages (and profiting off of them), they’re going to loosen up their restrictions. Still confused? Think of it this way, with a Tinder metaphor: For the past decade or so, banks have been mostly swiping right on objective hotties. But they’ve done that for so long that their Tinder feeds are now only showing still conventionally attractive, very date-abe people (the horror). Now, while they’ve usually swiped left on these people, they’re all of a sudden DTF (down to finance, that is).

Now, before you jump into a big bank’s king-sized bed, you need to ask whether this is financially beneficial for you, too. Easier mortgages are still fraught with risk, so it’s important to look at your financial situation before you decide to go out and apply for a mortgage.

For those who can afford the monthly mortgage, but not so much a 20 percent down payment, these smaller down payment mortgages might not be worth it, regardless if it’s “easy” or not. “It does call into question how much of a safety buffer exists,” says Douglas Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth, a financial advisor firm geared towards millennials. If the mortgage you can now be approved for would max out your monthly budget or come at risk of adding money to your long term savings, you should probably keep renting.

Whitney Morrison, a certified financial planner in Austin, Texas, echoes this statement, noting that even if your monthly mortgage payment is lower than rent in your area (and you have a low down payment), it will still take, on average, between two and four years (and more than 18 years in places like New York City) to break even on a home. That means when you factor in the down payment, closing costs, taxes, and other fees, your overall monthly cost, coupled with the equity you’ve appreciated, only actually becomes equal to renting after a couple of years (or maybe even decades). In short, if you’re looking for a way to save money on housing, these easy mortgages aren’t exactly an easy way to save cash.

But, as with anything financial, there is no one-size-fits-all answer: A lower down payment mortgage could be a great thing for you, especially if owning a home is a priority. If you have enough money in the bank and would prefer not to fork over more of your cash to the bank for a low-rate mortgage, then it would make sense to take advantage of one of these easier mortgages, says Boneparth. If homeownership is not your main priority—but you’re interested in a long-term investment that will pay dividends, there might be better options for you out there.

So what’s the final answer to the question, “Easy Mortgages: Good or Bad?” TLDR: It largely depends on your particular situation and priorities, and you may want to talk to a financial planner about your options.

 

View the full article here at Apartment Therapy

Can’t afford a bigger home? Try renting out the one you have

Today’s housing market is so competitive and pricey that even those homeowners who might want to move up to a larger home are staying put. They either can’t find or can’t afford what they want. A new strategy, however, is becoming increasingly popular — in order to afford that new home, keep the old one.

The number of investor-owned properties continues to rise, but the “investors” are not all big companies or landlords with multiple properties. More and more, they are just current owners using today’s very lucrative rental rates to pay for a bigger home.

Liz and Kevin Chamberlain, both in their mid-30s, needed more space than their Washington, D.C., home could offer, after the birth of their first child. They thought about renovating, but the cost to expand was incredibly high, and the footprint of their Capitol Hill row house was limited anyway. Their neighborhood, however, is commanding very high rents.

“We ran the numbers. I literally made a spreadsheet and ran all the different options,” said Liz, who purchased the Capitol Hill home several years ago, before she was married. “It made the most financial sense for us to keep our house in D.C., rent it out and buy here.”

Liz and Kevin bought a larger home with a big yard just outside D.C. in Cheverly, Maryland. She says many of their friends are doing the same thing as their families expand.

“It was great for us because we were going to be happier here in a bigger space,” she added.

Liz and Kevin had already saved money for a potential renovation, so they just used that for the down payment on the second home, and lenders today are becoming increasingly flexible with investment home mortgages. They have to be, because higher interest rates have left them with much less refinancing business. They need to make that up somewhere.

“They’re looking at the possibility of making more loans,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. “Several years ago, during the depths of the housing crisis, they would have been extremely strict, but now they are looking at the rental income as a mitigating factor for carrying two mortgages.”

Strategy offers dual benefits

Some Realtors are actually recommending the strategy to their clients, as the housing market becomes increasingly competitive and more and more potential move-up buyers feel priced out.

Not only do homeowners like Liz and Kevin get the rental income to help cover both mortgages, they will also continue to see price appreciation on their old home, which they would have lost had they sold it. Demand for rental homes is so strong in their neighborhood, and in most urban areas today, that they were not at all concerned with finding a renter.

The median price of a home sold in June hit another new high, according to the National Association of Realtors, and the supply of listings available continues to hover near record lows. Demand for housing, both owned and rented, is extremely high, given the improvement in the economy and the job market. That means both rents and home values are unlikely to falter.

Millennials, the largest generation, are finally forming households at an ever-increasing rate, moving out of their parents’ basements or out of shared living situations. Because they were delayed by the recession, many looking for single-family homes are older and married, but there are precious few starter homes for sale. Single-family rentals are therefore a hot commodity.

Of course, for current homeowners, becoming a landlord does add both liability, risk and potential headaches. Some may opt to use a rental company to handle the management of the property, including collecting rent and doing repairs, but that cuts into monthly profits.

“Certainly having an umbrella policy is a really good idea to make sure you’re covered insurance-wise,” advised Liz. “And then I do think living in the house, and really knowing it and making sure it’s in good shape before you leave and rent it out, is probably one of the best things you can do.

View the full article here at CNBC

An Intro to Architecture Styles (Explained Through The Zodiac Signs Because It’s 2018)

When it comes to architecture, there seems to be endless styles to choose from. Have you ever wondered which type is right for you? Interested in your horoscope? Well, what could be more fun than meshing the two? Here, 12 types of homes and their corresponding star match, for millennials’ sake.

Key West = Aquarius

The free-spirited, unconventional Aquarius would mesh with a Key West-style home. Named for the eccentric beach town in Florida, these unique homes feature bold, playful colors and decorative wooden elements.

French Provincial = Pisces

Pisces tends to hover somewhere between fantasy and reality, and so does French Provincial architecture. The style, inspired by estates in the French countryside, is full of romantic touches but is practical enough to be replicated in suburban housing.

Mediterranean = Aries

(Image credit: InnaFelker/Shutterstock)

Bold, ambitious, and full of joie de vivre, Aries will feel right at home in a colorful Mediterranean home. The style channels the buildings of its namesake region with balconies, porticos, and ornate details like multicolored tiles.

Prairie = Taurus

(Image credit: littlenySTOCK/Shutterstock)

Taurus enjoys relaxing in serene, rural settings, so Prairie architecture is a perfect fit. Made famous by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his contemporaries, the style comprises windows to let the outside in and plenty of horizontal lines to mimic the endless prairie horizon.

Mid-Century Modern = Gemini

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Gemini is intellectually curious and never afraid to try something new—and so were the pioneers of mid-century modern, a forward-thinking style that utilized new materials for a new age. Think large windows, open spaces, flat planes, and clean lines.

Cottage = Cancer

(Image credit: mubus7/Shutterstock)

Sensitive Cancer thrives in cozy spaces that feel safe and comfortable, and the adorable cottage style is sure to do just that. Inspired by the dwellings of European peasant farmers, these homes are quaint and inviting, with curving front walkways and lush florals.

Tudor = Leo

(Image credit: Susan Law Cain/Shutterstock)

Leos are natural leaders who enjoy the spotlight, and the dramatic Tudor style, which originated in England, is sure to draw just enough attention. These homes boast contrasting facades and steeply-pitched, multi-gabled roofs.

Ranch = Virgo

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

Logical and practical Virgo is an ideal fit for a ranch home. Originating in the 1930s and made popular post-World War II, the design was created with practicality in mind, typically comprising of attached garages, open-floor plans, and easy-outdoor access.

Colonial = Libra

(Image credit: chrisbradshaw/Getty Images)

The symmetry-obsessed Libra will thrive in a traditional Colonial home. This style is recognizable for its perfect symmetry, featuring evenly-spaced windows and evenly-proportioned chimneys, columns, and dormers.

Greek Revival = Scorpio

(Image credit: Anne Power/Shutterstock)

Passionate and powerful Scorpio should appreciate the imposing form of Greek Revival architecture, which gives the impression of wealth with tall columns and pediments, as well as bold embellishments and moldings.

Spanish = Sagittarius

(Image credit: jessicakirshcreative/Shutterstock)

Sagittarius is adventurous and loves to travel, so a home inspired by far-off lands, like Spanish design, is just the ticket. The hallmarks of this style are clay roof tiles, arched corridors, arcaded porches, and bell towers.

Contemporary = Capricorn

(Image credit: Tom Merton/Getty Images)

Sometimes perceived as cold and unemotional, Capricorn will appreciate the no-frills appeal of contemporary architecture. At the same time, many homes of this type champion eco-friendly practices, which makes sense with Capricorn being an earth sign.

 

Read the full article here at Apartment Therapy

NAR: Using an agent to sell your home could bring you in an extra $60,000

The concept of “buyer’s remorse” is fairly well known, but those who think they can save a few bucks by selling their home without the aid of a real estate agent could well find themselves experiencing an alternative feeling – seller’s regret.

That’s according to the National Association of Realtors, which published data from its 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey this week which shows that homes sold without the aid of a real estate pro often sell for considerably less money. According to the study, for sale by owner transactions earn an average of $60,000 to $90,000 less than those that involved a real estate agent.

The NAR says that agent-assisted home sales pull in an average of $250,000, which is the national median selling price. FSBO homes however, pull in just $190,000 on average, and it gets even worse when the seller knows the buyer personally, with the average price falling to just $160,300.

The NAR says the discrepancy should cause sellers to question the wisdom of going it alone, without a real estate agent. Sellers usually think they can save money on agent commissions, but the NAR says this is a small price to pay if it means getting a better price on their home.

“Talk to an agent and find out what they suggest for the commission, and then do the math yourself,” researchers wrote on the NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog. “The closing price for the agent-assisted seller is likely going to be way above a FSBO. [But] in reality, homes sold by the owner make less money overall.”

The NAR seems to be getting its message across, as just 8 percent of sales last year were FSBO, a new all-time low, the researchers said.

We should of course note that the data comes from the NAR itself, which has a clear interest in protecting its members by convincing consumers to use the services of an agent.

View the full article here at Realty Biz News

Famous designer flips Dunthorpe estate: The Emily Henderson House is for sale at $2.6 million

If only your smart, witty best friend were a talented designer. Imagine the fun you’d have making your living space into something personal and pretty, and that works for you too? Plush rugs for bare feet. A soaking tub that doesn’t make your back stiff. A laundry room that hides the cat box.

Followers of HGTV’s Design Star and author Emily Henderson’s blogfeel as if they’re getting solid advice from a friend, along with observations served with humor.

According to Henderson, before you install a rain-like shower head, consider if having “water in your eyes for 20 minutes is annoying.” She then suggests other options.

In a Portland home remodel, she installed three types of nozzles, including a handheld one. “I want this shower so badly,” she coos in her blog, Style by Emily Henderson.

For a year, her fans have been reading about her ambitious project to transform a serviceable 1980s daylight ranch in Dunthorpe into a three-story showstopper. The property at 02008 SW Military Road, which Henderson’s brother Ken Starke and his wife bought as an investment in January 2017, is now back on the market at $2.6 million.

But don’t call this a flip, instructs Henderson, who grew up in Coos Bay and Lake Oswego, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.

“I mean, who buys an $850,000 flip?” she wonders, and then who invests in high-end doors and other custom features to create a larger, upscale and livable house on a newly landscaped property.

“Traditionally, flips feel more big box, not custom,” says Henderson, who wrote the New York Times bestselling book, “Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves.”

She wanted the remodel, for a yet-unknown client, to be timeless, classic and worthy of the neighborhood. There would be “splurge-y finishes,” typically beyond her budget, but the end result would be “still ‘me,'” she says.

Henderson specializes in coaxing a fresh flavor from formal elements — from edgy marble mosaic tile to lantern sconces. She describes the style that guided her in this project as a combination of simplified traditional and California casual.

A quicker way to say it: Traditional in a modern way.

Walls have been taken away to open up chopped-up interior spaces that now ease into the outdoors. Large, black-framed windows allow people to peer out to lounge chairs near the lawn and sleek glass French doors open to a deck warmed by a fireplace.

Dramatic changes were made on every level: The dreary daylight basement has been updated and integrated into the entire house, prompting it to be renamed the “ground floor” by Henderson and her design team.

Here, people enjoying the media room and wet bar can easily step outside to the new patio. Or they can wander around inside to see two light-filled bedrooms, a white-tile bathroom and a huge, attractive laundry room that Henderson has long fantasized about.

The second floor, which sits at street level, now has a wide covered front porch. Open the double front doors to an enlarged entry. Walls have been removed to step down to the updated living room and a large office has been reconfigured to accommodate stairs to the top floor addition.

The main floor’s most used space — the scrunched-up family room, kitchen and breakfast area — has been granted breathing room. A fireplace wall between the family room and the original master suite is gone and the master suite is now an elegant, but not stuffy, dining room with views of the yard.

The third-floor addition has a new master suite with romantic open trusses and a private deck. A sitting area faces a fireplace, one of four in the house.

In the master bathroom, there is a free-standing, Victorian-inspired claw-foot tub with built-in back support. The floor is Ann Sacks‘ mosaic marble tile designed by Kelly Wearstler, whom Henderson affectionately calls a “crazy genius.”

Although most of the walls in the almost 5,000-square-foot house are painted a warm white, Henderson selected charcoal Dark Cyberspace by Sherwin-Williams for accent walls here. It’s a cool backdrop to the large glass shower and two vanities: “No more sharing, folks!,” she writes. Keep going to find the handsome walk-in closet with plenty of built-in storage.

Faucets and some fixtures are not classic chrome or brass. “I’m currently having a love affair with polished nickel,” she confesses. “Don’t tell brass. She can be very jealous and scary.”

Two more bedrooms also benefit from the view on the top level. For convenience — a big consideration for Henderson — there is also a small laundry room.

Towering trees shade the 0.7-acre lot, which also has a bocce court.

Real estate agents Alex Sand, Christy MacColl and Carrie Gross of Windermere Realty Trust said this was the first time one of their listings was covered in social media while under construction.

“Normally when we help clients with a remodel project it’s all happening behind the scenes and not in such a public forum,” says Sand. “This has truly been a front and center project with Emily’s followers weighing in on every little detail of the remodel. It’s been exciting to get valuable feedback in real time.”

Although the project has her brand name attached to it, Henderson credits product sponsors and the remodel team, including Portland-based general contractor JP Macy of Sierra Custom Construction and architect Annie Usher.

The new owner, writes Henderson, will be buying a well-designed, basically brand new house that can be purchased fully furnished, an idea the busy working mom covets.

“Can you imagine no furniture assembly,” she writes. “No hours shopping to then realize that the piece doesn’t fit. No returns. No indecision. No arguments with your partner…. The towels will be perfectly folded and the beds will already be made.”

View the full article here at Oregon Live

Lofty Starridge condos capture views from their Portland Heights perch

 
 
 
View the full article here at Oregon Live

Innovation in College-Town Real Estate

It would be an understatement to say that the University of Kansas and the local real estate market in Lawrence, Kan., are linked. In fact, Nicholas Lerner struggles to come up with a single example of a real estate transaction he’s participated in over his dozen years in the business that didn’t also involve his alma mater, a Division 1 basketball powerhouse. “I’ve helped everyone from people who’ve worked in the welding shop on campus to administrative people and parents buying houses for their students to investors,” Lerner, an agent with McGrew Real Estate in Lawrence, says. “Lawrence and KU are tied inextricably.”

What agents like Lerner have long understood about the close connection between real estate and colleges, city planners, developers, and school administrators are starting to notice as well. While universities don’t typically add to the cities’ financial ledgers through property taxes, they have always contributed to the local economy and real estate market by creating jobs, training people, and bringing in new residents. Still, relationships between colleges and their surrounding neighborhoods are changing as both public and private investors look for ways to turn innovation into entrepreneurial expansion.

Over the past decade or two, communities and schools have become more aware of the interconnectedness of the “town and gown” relationship. Meagan Ehlenz, assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, points out the growing consensus that the fortunes of universities and their surrounding neighborhoods are bolstered by similar economic forces, leading to greater collaboration. In a study examining the association between university revitalization activities and neighborhood trends published in 2017 in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, she wrote: “Universities report mounting pressure to establish porous boundaries with the neighborhood, fostering a ‘sense of place’ in both town and gown to support institutional stability.”

In the case of public universities, at least, part of that mounting pressure is financial. “Higher education in general is in sort of a crisis today, in that federal and state funding is flat or declining,” says Rebecca Robinson, director of economic development at the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization. “Universities are having to figure out other ways to be sustainable and create value. For us, that trend is partnering with industry.” While most private colleges have successfully recovered from the Great Recession, a recent report by the Council of Independent Colleges found that many of them are introducing innovations and partnerships that create new sources of revenue to combat both declining enrollment due to demographic challenges and increasing pressure to offer tuition discounts.

Picking a Major

Specialization is one clear path to success in real estate, and it’s no different in the effort to differentiate a college’s mission or strengthen a town’s economic development. The city of Harrisonburg, in Virginia’s picturesque Shenandoah Valley, has found a way to attract new residents by capitalizing on the local university’s cybersecurity program. Brian Shull, the city’s economic development director, says that after James Madison University became the first school in the mid-Atlantic region to offer an online master’s degree program on cybersecurity about a half a dozen years ago, Harrisonburg embarked on an effort to incorporate this specialization into its economic development plans. “We found that JMU had some very unique niches,” says Shull. “They developed a reputation in that world.”

The city organized a cybersecurity forum last April, inviting professors and an advisory committee from the program to help figure out the best way for Harrisonburg to capitalize on the initiative to spur its own economic development. “We came out of there with a nice to-do list of things to work on,” Shull says. One takeaway was that a tech conference could help showcase the area to companies that might be interested in relocating and taking advantage of the talent at JMU. The school, the city, and a private developer worked together to open Hotel Madison, which features 235 rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. Because it’s the largest conference space between Roanoke and Northern Virginia, “it’s going to bring in a lot of people who normally wouldn’t have thought of the Shenandoah Valley,” Shull says. In September, the hotel will host Valley TechCon, a direct result of the cybersecurity forum.

Halfway across the country, another development project linking private and public institutions demonstrates that technological innovation sparks growth even in the oldest of economic sectors: agriculture. Established in 2008, the Knowledge Based Economic Development program came about as an LLC that would allow Kansas State University, the city of Manhattan, Kan., and private industry to create collaborative spaces to foster development and innovation. Robinson, who helps manage the more than 30,000 square feet of office and lab space that came out of the project, estimates that hundreds of jobs have been created over the past decade thanks to the partnership, which has enticed more than 18 companies to come to or expand in the area. Many food and bioengineering companies choose to lease space on campus due to the subject matter expertise at the school’s Department of Agricultural Economics. The so-called “Silicon Valley of biosecurity” has attracted a $1.25 billion investment from the Department of Homeland Security, which is currently building an infectious disease laboratory with the highest classification of biosafety possible on campus.

The on-campus office park offers coworking environments, business incubators, and build-to-lease office and research space. Developers brought in a local company to provide high-speed fiber internet and undertook a variety of infrastructure projects such as widening streets, adding lighting, and incorporating design features that would make the space feel like a natural extension of the campus, rather than a corporate add-on.

Tapping Into Entrepreneurship

Robinson says it’s hard to overstate the importance of sourcing the right types of real estate in bringing new companies to town: “One of the biggest challenges that we have with economic development in the region is having an appropriate space for the partners we’re trying to attract.” She says commercial real estate professionals are a key part of bringing new businesses to the area, especially when it comes to off-campus space.

However, town-gown friction is sometimes expressed in real estate. Kate Ryan, commercial leasing and engagement manager for the Kansas State University Foundation, remembers one chamber of commerce committee meeting where a commercial real estate broker didn’t want to have to compete with the university, which was trying to recruit companies to its on-campus incubator spaces. But “once he understood that we weren’t going after the same businesses that were downtown and thriving, he really grasped the vision we had and he jumped right on board,” she recalls. Robinson notes that because typical commercial rent on campus is so much higher than what companies will find in downtown Manhattan, campus officials serve businesses that have no other choice than to be located at the school.

Real estate pros can help business owners interested in relocating or opening up their doors in a college town by looking for incentives built into the landscape. For example, tech businesses that start up or relocate to the Harrisonburg Downtown Technology Zone get a three-year exemption on business, professional, and occupational license taxes and fees and a free water and sewer connection. The zone also provides incentives for renovating properties and assistance securing tax credits.

But Shull notes that economic development isn’t just about attracting new businesses. He says it’s important to maintain a good quality of life through amenities and affordable housing options: “It’s a mix: We need to have apartments downtown for young adults as well as quality single-family homes.” Like Shull, Manhattan city officials have had their eyes set on a variety of programs to achieve a healthy mix. In the 1980s, the city began a series of downtown redevelopment plans that were crucial to creating the vibrant community that today attracts new business owners and college students alike. One of the first steps was securing a $10 million federal grant to develop a shopping mall downtown, after turning down proposals to move a local mall in from the outskirts. As part of a second redevelopment plan initiated in the early 2000s, the city established tax increment financing and transportation development districts and secured $50 million in state and U.S. bonds, which helped transform an old steel warehouse mill into a walkable retail–restaurant area, among other projects. These redevelopment plans introduced a wider spectrum of amenities to attract young people, established professionals, and families to the area. “Downtown is a complement, more than anything, because of the quality of life it produces,” Robinson says. “It’s necessary for the types of companies we’re trying to attract.”

Keeping the Talent You’ve Got

Cities and universities shouldn’t rely solely on external recruiting to fuel innovation—sometimes the best catalysts for growth are already in town. “Being in a college town, we have a lot of students who are considering starting a company right after school. That’s really the perfect time to take that risk,” Shull says. “So it’s great to have the opportunity to work with those who want to stick around after graduation.” Harrisonburg offers up to $25,000 in low-interest bootstrapping funds to help new companies set up shop anywhere in the city.

Sometimes real estate companies make lasting connections with universities unrelated to the transfer of property. Lerner admires the willingness of his broker—fellow KU alumnus and 2017 NAR Treasurer Mike McGrew—to bring in college students to work on videos and marketing projects for agents and the brokerage at large. “Every year you have new blood and new energy that comes into this town,” Lerner says. Why not take advantage of the fresh perspective these new residents offer?

Real estate professionals can help turn students into long-term residents. But with rising student debt, many recent graduates find it difficult to transition to homeownership. Lauren Rogers, an agent at Kingsmill Realty in Williamsburg, Va., relies heavily on her work history with renters and landlords when helping recent alumni from the nearby College of William & Mary. While her background as a property manager has boosted her business, she also notes that renter-to-homeowner conversion contributes to a healthier market. “It helped our neighborhood to continue the cycle of growth,” she says.

Though Rogers’ rental and listing work is now concentrated in the upscale gated community of Kingsmill, she works as a buyer’s agent for many alumni with smaller budgets throughout Williamsburg. “A lot of young people from William & Mary stay here because there are a lot of large companies they can work for after graduation,” she says. And even if new grads aren’t quite ready to make the leap, Rogers recommends agents stay in touch and remain available to answer questions about the local market. “A year really flies by. If you make that connection and they trust you, they’re going to call you when they’re ready.”

Many of the same strategies apply when helping faculty buy in to the community, but there are a few additional considerations. Because Ryan Zimmerman, ABR, GRI, an agent with Wheeler Steffen Sotheby’s International Realty, has lived in Claremont, Calif., all his life, he’s a helpful resource for the many transplants drawn to the southern California area for jobs at one of the seven schools that make up The Claremont Colleges. His website features pages devoted to what makes the community special, and you can sense his passion when he talks about the preponderance of trees and independently owned retail. He also promotes college-funded lending programs that make it easier for faculty to buy homes near their new employer. Loan terms vary but can be 2 to 3 percent below market rate. “When I’m writing an offer, I always highlight that as a plus, because you don’t have to deal with a traditional bank,” he says. “Those transactions on the lending side of things are so much easier.”

How Your Expertise Fits In

Cities and universities benefit from working with agents and brokers to understand just what the local real estate industry needs in order to expand and thrive. Shull is regularly in touch with 15 to 20 residential and commercial real estate pros in Harrisonburg. “I use them as my sounding board quite often, to give me a barometer of the local market,” he says. “It’s great to have people with real estate experience to lend their expertise.”

Real estate professionals play a big role at Kansas State, both on and off campus. Ryan notes that communities and colleges do have ways for business leaders to get involved, but that they often go by a variety of names. Agents and brokers should seek out chambers of commerce, technology transfer offices, corporate and industry relations centers, and community engagement officers to find out more. “Not every institution will have those, and they don’t always work together,” Ryan cautions. “But I encourage people to participate in those things. You never know who you’re going to connect with.”

While economic development professionals clearly value the specialized knowledge real estate pros bring to the table, they also see them as front-line boosters for their communities. “When people are checking out the area, they’re calling a real estate agent first,” Shull says.

Part of working in a university town is not taking yourself too seriously. Back in 2008, Nicholas Lerner was considering marketing his real estate business on magnets that also featured the schedule for the popular KU Jayhawks basketball team. “Basketball is life in Lawrence, Kansas,” Lerner says. But rather than just posting his business contact information on the magnet, he wanted to get creative with it. Each year, he comes up with a funny new way to edit his face into the sports scene depicted on the magnet. One year, he even tried to insert himself interacting with highly regarded head coach Bill Self, but that concept didn’t make it through his company’s marketing review process. So instead of using the head coach’s likeness, Lerner replaced all the faces on the magnet with his own (see right). Now he says customers and local business owners keep the schedule up well past the basketball season and, when they see him, they ask when his next one will come out. Lerner says the $200 he spends on 250 magnets each year is well worth the investment in terms of branding and name recognition: “It became this kind of quirky thing that people expect of me. It’s hard to track that sort of thing, but people definitely look forward to it.”

View full article here at Realtor Magazine

A Pair of Downsizers Give the Portland ‘Skinny House’ a New Face

“Skinny houses don’t encourage demolition. Townhouses do.”

Blink and you’ll miss this slender North Portland house. When the owners wanted to downsize from their three-bedroom bungalow—without leaving their beloved neighborhood—they eyed the empty lot next door. It wasn’t really wide enough to build a house like the one they had, but what if you didn’t need a traditional home?

Completed last October, the new 1,550-square-foot “skinny” house is exactly that: long and deep, with a Z-shaped cross-section to break up space without adding walls. Zoning code is restrictive on skinny houses, explains lead designer Diana Moosman of MWA Architects, with a maximum height topping out at 24 feet, or roughly two stories. Moosman maximized space for the Reids’ house by stacking two floors atop a sunken basement, which doubles as a guest room (with a built-in Murphy bed), laundry area, and yoga workout space. A short, seven-foot-wide staircase splits the ground floor into the kitchen and living areas. To keep a sense of privacy with maximum light exposure, Moosman added a high window above the living room and made the sides mostly solid, with a few tall windows staggered so they aren’t facing the neighbors’ windows.

“It feels bigger than their old house because there aren’t as many interior walls,” says Moosman. She adds that the skinny house principle is perfect for adding living spaces without demolishing existing homes. (The owners still own the bungalow next door.) “There’s a way to create more density without just having a townhouse. Skinny houses don’t encourage demolition. Townhouses do.”

In a city where many houses built on narrow lots greet the street with nothing but a garage door and a front door, an unexpected feature is the floor-to-ceiling kitchen windows.

“We came up with the idea of the kitchen/dining room being a big farmhouse kitchen that faced the street,” says Moosman. “They’re pretty introverted folks, but I warned them, [this] is going to turn you into a party house. And sure enough, it’s made them more social people.”

View full article here at Portland Monthly

Dinosaur Days: How a T. Rex Costume Helped Dress Up a Texas Home

Remember the real estate agent who dressed up in a panda suit to try and sell a home in Spring, TX? It worked like a charm, and got her 12 showings in the first two days. You can’t argue with that kind of success.

But you can move up the food chain. The real estate agent selling this two-bedroom, one-bathroom lake house in Granbury, TX, has hired an extra straight from the Cretaceous era to help out with the listing photos: a giant T. Rex.

Among the lovely shots of hardwood floors, lake views, and a screened-in patio, we see ol’ Tyrannosaurus raiding the fridge, taking a nap, fishing in the lake, and even mowing the grass. That’s pretty impressive for a guy with such tiny arms, no?

“We came up with the idea a few years ago and have been waiting for the right client and right house to try it,” explains listing agent Casey Lewis. “It was a great way to get extra exposure to an already great property.”

Quite apart from filling in as a Jurassic Park testing facility, the 796-square-foot house has a fireplace, two porches, and a deck, and access to a community boat slip around the corner. The asking price was just $89,900.

So did it work? “The reach was amazing,” says Lewis. “The listing has been featured on local news, shared hundreds of times on social media, and I’ve received calls from all over the country asking for information about the property.”

Lewis had over 45 showings, and was in contract within the first two days. It might be a goofy gimmick, but it certainly did the trick. The real question is, why aren’t more real estate agents putting on wacky animal costumes for listing photos? Next time someone tells you they’ll do what it takes to sell your home, send them to the costume shop!

View the full article here at Realtor