Stress-Free Homes Are a Trending Niche

From family and jobs to finances and health, life can get complicated. “Zen is in demand,” as one real estate pro says. Learn how you can provide that.

n

Whether it’s a luxurious $45 million estate in California or a modest $250,000 two-bedroom house in Ohio, marketing a home’s stress-relieving qualities is a growing trend. Today, developers, builders, and interior designers are trying to make homes that offer that soft landing at the end of a day. And homeowners need it—about eight in 10 Americans say they frequently (44 percent) or sometimes (35 percent) encounter stress in their daily lives, according to a recent Gallup poll. 

Helping clients find a soothing place to come home to can become a niche in the real estate world. And, understanding what stress-relieving designs are available can help you and your agents guide clients to a happy purchase.

Reaching Female Homebuyers

Since 2003, Design Basics Inc., in Omaha, has been gearing many of its residential blueprints toward easing stress because that is one of the four important elements women look for in a home’s design. Why women, you ask? Well, 91 percent of home purchases are influenced by women, according to the Harvard Business Review. Additionally, the National Association of REALTORS® 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that the number of single female buyers continues to rise, and are currently the second largest buyer group at 18 percent behind married couples at 63 percent.

Paul Foresman, director of business development for Design Basics, says the company took data and research on female buyers of all ages and backgrounds and created the Woman-Centric Matters home design program. They discovered the four primary elements women are looking for in home design: entertainment, stress relief, storage, and flexible living. Foresman travels across the country talking to builders about the program.

“Everyone lives differently. But women tell us that they want to come into their home and feel like it is a place of respite. They look for homes that make their life easier, more convenient, more fun, and more inviting to others,” he adds.

The High End of Less Stress

Residence 950 infinity pool

Home designs by Greg Malin, CEO and founder of Troon Pacific in San Francisco, are adding amenities such as lap pools with underwater speakers that play music and art galleries with chaise lounges so you can take it all in.

“What’s the best luxury in life? My late wife would say it’s your health,” Malin says. So, he builds homes with his passion for sustainability and wellness in mind. Less stress in a person’s world can help with their health. For instance, cables in all bedrooms of his homes are shielded to mitigate electromagnetic field waves, which can cause the body to emit stress signals that can lead to high levels of adrenaline.

His company also uses biophilic design, which bridges a homeowner’s lifestyle with natural environment around them. “We’re trying to connect people to nature. One of our homes offers a yoga deck. Plus, each [development] project offers a wellness center with a sauna, steam room, a place to have a massage, meditation area, and outdoor shower,” he adds.  

Joel Goodrich, agent at Colwell Banker Preview International in San Francisco, has shown Malin’s stress-free homes several times to clients. He also is a friend of Malin. “Perhaps, we are living in more stressful times than ever before. People are looking for their homes to be an oasis or retreat from life, the world, and business,” he says. “These homes are designed to feel like a retreat. Zen is in demand.”

Tips for Alleviating Stress at All Price Points

Most home buyers are looking for respite in a haven from everyday stress. The good news is not all stress-free homes have to be multimillion-dollar properties. Here are some of the stress-reducing designs and products being showcased in homes across the country.

Natural light, plus dimmers. “People always gravitate to the bright, sunny spaces in a home. So, anything we can to do enhance natural light is popular,” Foresman says. Malin adds that lights with dimmers can also help reduce harshness, especially in bedrooms, for a more relaxing ambiance.

s

Automated shades. Shades programed to open at sunrise can be a calming way to wake up without an alarm. They can also be used to reduce sunlight for those not ready to rise, Goodrich says. In addition to setting times, homeowners can pair smart shades with a digital thermostat, so they automatically open and close based on temperature.

A water feature. “Water can be very calming,” Goodrich says. In one extreme example, an international architect put a waterfall in the middle of a living room design and branded it. But a simple fountain in a sun porch or patio can do wonders, too, he adds.

Pet center area in home

Pet centers. Many buyers nowadays are seeking pet-friendly abodes, so features such as cabinets with pullout drawers for dog food goes a long way. Some want a dog washing station or a room for the pet itself. Electronic doggie doors have also become popular, where the dog has a collar that automatically opens the door to go inside or out.

Nature’s beauty. The ability to see flowers or greenery outside your windows—even in a big city—helps create peacefulness. In Malin’s homes, he plants green rows of bamboo or cypress outside the main windows, even in the heart of the Bay Area.

Covered outdoor living space. Foresman says you don’t have to cancel your plans if it rains when you have a covered outdoor area, which eliminates worry. Plus, coffee on the patio can still happen on rainy mornings. A pergola cover or easy-to-assemble patio gazebo are cost-effective ways to accomplish this.

Work-in pantry. Taking the walk-in pantry to the next level, some buyers want a prep area, sink, dishwasher, and sometimes an oven in what’s dubbed the “work-in” pantry, Foresman says. This eliminates guests seeing any mess while keeping the heart of the gathering in the kitchen.

Relaxing sounds and white noise. Malin installs speakers in master bedrooms and bathrooms, allowing for the sounds of waterfalls, forests, or whatever keeps the homeowners tranquil. For existing homes without built-in speakers, try a Google Home or Amazon Echo—relaxing sounds at open houses may even entice buyers.

Shipping vestibule. This involves a door or cupboard that opens for delivery people. They can leave the package behind the door without entering the house, Foresman says. You don’t have to be home when the delivery is dropped off, and locks can used from your smartphone to avoid theft.  

Dual owner suites. This newer building plan has quickly become Foresman’s top seller. It includes two suites on the main floor that can be used for older couples who don’t sleep in the same bed, multigenerational households, boomerang kids, friends who have purchased together, or live-in caregivers. “In many ways for all involved it’s a great stress reliever, with a private bathroom and enough storage,” he adds.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Posted in Real Estate News | Leave a comment

Low 30-Year Rates Keep Buyers in Summer Market

Mortgage rates barely budged this week, keeping borrowing costs low for summertime home shoppers. Mortgage rates continue to hover near their 2016 averages. “We’re seeing a tug of war happen as the fixed-income market flashes warning signs while the equities market continues to march higher with optimism,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The data suggests the economy is weakening but is still on very solid ground, with high consumer confidence and a strong labor market. Closer to home, the housing market continues to slowly improve and gain momentum as we head into the second half of the year, which is good news and should keep the economy growing.”

Freddie Mac reported the following averages for mortgage rates for the week ending July 3:

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.75%, with an average 0.6 point, up slightly from last week’s 3.73% average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.52%.

• 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18%, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.16% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.99%.

• 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.45%, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.39% average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.74%.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Posted in Mortage/ Finance News | Leave a comment

Survey: Buyers Rank Commute Time Above Square Footage

July 5, 2019

Commute time is an important factor to buyers when they’re deciding on a home to purchase. Eighty-five percent of buyers say they would sacrifice other home features, such as lot size, square footage, and home style, in order to shorten their commute to work, according to a survey of more than 600 realtor.com® users. Forty percent say they are looking to reduce their commute time by up to 45 minutes.

In response, realtor.com® announced a new tool that enables buyers to filter their home-search results according to rush-hour and off-peak commute times. “Our commute time filter is different from others in the marketplace because it gives buyers the ability to toggle between rush-hour and off-peak commute times,” says Chung Meng Cheong, chief procurement officer for realtor.com®. “With a more holistic view of their drive to and from work, people are able to make more informed decisions about where to live and, hopefully, reduce some unnecessary stress from their daily lives.”

Home shoppers can enter basic search information, such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and location desired. They can then filter listings to match their preferred commute time. Commute times are offered in 10-minute increments up to 60 minutes or more. All of the available homes that match the search parameters and commuting distance will then be displayed. The Commute Time Filter is available on realtor.com®’s iOS app and will soon be available on Android, as well as mobile and web versions.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Posted in Real Estate News | Leave a comment

Gap Widens Between What Buyers Want, What’s for Sale

Home buyers are finding fewer homes for sale that are meeting their price expectations. Half of all home buyers say they’re looking for a home priced under $288,000. But that is 9.1% below—or $27,000 less–than the median list price of currently available homes, a new realtor.com® study finds.

“The price difference between what buyers are searching for, closing on, and what’s available on the market demonstrates just how big the gap is for entry-level home buyers,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “Buying a first home has always been a challenge, but with such a slim number of entry-level homes available, it’s especially difficult now.”

The median sales price of homes purchased in April was $267,000, which is about 15% or $48,000 less than the price of the inventory currently on the market, according to National Association of REALTORS® data.

Realtor.com® researchers estimate that about 94,000 more homes priced between $100,000 to $340,000—or a 15% increase—are needed to satisfy the imbalance between what buyers want and what is available. However, it’s homes priced above $750,000 that have seen the most growth in inventory lately, rather than the lower end of the market, researchers note.

“Entry-level homes continue to be difficult to come by as the inventory composition shifts more and more toward higher-priced homes,” Hale says. “This is causing smaller and more affordable homes to appreciate rapidly, resulting in a mismatch between what buyers are able to spend and what sellers expect to receive.” Smaller homes (those between 750 to 1,750 square feet) have appreciated 12.1%, or 3.5 times, faster than mid- to large-sized homes (3,000 to 6,000 square feet), realtor.com®’s analysis finds.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Posted in Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mouth-Watering Outdoor Kitchens (And Surprise! Their ROI Is Great)

Building an outdoor kitchen is more than an indulgence: These backyard beauties can improve your home’s value. Outdoor kitchens typically get a 71% return on investment, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of REALTORS® — and that’s on top of your own outdoor-cooking joy. The investment can be a little — or a lot. These five outdoor kitchen ideas fit a range of budgets and homes.

#1 A Tiny Outdoor Kitchen for Limited Spaces

If you boil down an outdoor kitchen to the basics, what more do you need than a grill, a little oven, cupboard space, and a cozy place to sit? This setup does it all efficiently, for as little as a few hundred dollars if you already have outdoor electricity. An electrician will add to the cost.

#2 An Outdoor Kitchen From a Kit

Modular kits, like this one from WWOO (starting around $1,500), can be customized to suit your backyard. Some companies even offer design help for additional cost.

#3 An Outdoor Kitchen Made of Concrete & Steel

DIY-savvy homeowners used concrete and cement board to create this L-shaped outdoor kitchen that mimics today’s indoor layouts. Guests relax at the counter while the host flips burgers — it’s open-concept living in the great wide-open.

No, this isn’t DIY 101, but if you’ve got the skill set you can do it for the cost of materials — and concrete is cheap. If you hire a pro, though, the typical cost is about $14,000 for a kitchen that includes an inset grill, steel drawers, ice chest, sink, and concrete countertop, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report.”

#4 An Outdoor Kitchen With Personal Style

Your outdoor kitchen doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. But it should match your home’s style if you want to get a return on your investment. This DIY kitchen fits the home’s rustic style and comes with enough storage any indoor cook would envy.

#5 An Outdoor Kitchen That Says “Sit a Spell”

Your outdoor kitchen can play the same role in your yard that your kitchen inside does: as the heartbeat of every gathering where guests will want to stay awhile. And bonus: The added deck and pergola could also kick up your home value a couple of notches.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

Posted in Home Owner Tips | Leave a comment

Mortgage Rates Drop to 2-Year Lows

This marks the sixth consecutive weekly decline for mortgage rates, leaving some borrowers wondering how low will they go. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.82% this week, the lowest average since September 2017. 

“While the drop in mortgage rates is a good opportunity for consumers to save on their mortgage payment, our research indicates that there can be a wider dispersion among mortgage rate offers,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “By shopping around and getting a single additional mortgage rate quote, a borrower can save an average of $1,500.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending June 6:

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.82%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.99%. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.54%.

• 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.28%, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.46% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 4.01%.

• 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.52%, with an average 0.4 point, alling from last week’s 3.60% average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.74%.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Posted in Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home Sizes May Be Indicator for Economy’s Health

June 4, 2019

The size of newly constructed homes may be a sign of how well the economy is doing, according to a new analysis by Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. “Typical new-home size falls prior to and during a recession as home buyers tighten budgets, and then sizes rise as high-end home buyers, who face fewer credit constraints, return to the housing market in relatively greater proportions,” he notes.

So, how are home sizes doing now? The median new-home size increased at the beginning of this year, but overall sizes have been falling since mid-2015. “Current declines in size indicate that this part of the cycle has ended, and size will trend lower as builders add more entry-level homes into inventory and the custom market levels off,” Dietz notes in the research.

After the Great Recession, builders were unable to build entry-level homes due to cost constraints on labor and available lots. Pent-up demand in the entry-level market could help lengthen this part of the housing cycle, Dietz told MarketWatch. If so, he says new-home construction may help cushion the economy from a near-term downturn. As such, Dietz—joined in a sentiment shared by other housing economists—has no recession fears in near-term forecasts. 

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Posted in Real Estate News | Leave a comment

Super-Busy People Reveal Their Habits for a Tranquil Home

Three young entrepreneurs give tips on staying organized and calm while living hectic lives.

Life is crazy. Cah-ray-zee. And while you wouldn’t have it any other way from 9 to 5 (OK, more like 8 to 7), the insanity should stop at your front door.

That’s why you bought your home, right? To have a place to rest, recharge, and come up with your next trailblazing idea. A few inspirational ideas for your home may be all you need to put it on the path to tranquility.

Three super-busy entrepreneurs — a brewery owner, website founder, and organic farmer — know exactly how important a tranquil home is to achieving personal success. Here, they share how they created Zen-like havens in their homes to foster stress-relieving routines.

A Nook to Bliss Out In

When hanging out at the local brewpub loses its appeal because, well, brewing is your business, home becomes your place for a mini getaway.

Tim Bullock, who co-owns St. Elmo Brewing Company in Austin, Texas, and his wife, photographer Heather Gallagher, created a perfect spot to chill in their own home with a little wallpaper and a daybed.

In the morning before his young son wakes up, Bullock often lounges on the daybed, reading the news, sending a few emails, or just listening to piano music before the madness of the day ensues.

The brightly colored tropical wallpaper mural covers an entire wall next to the daybed. Compared to the crisp black-and-white color scheme in the rest of the house, the vibrant space “really feels like a vacation room,” Bullock says.

Your blissful nook doesn’t have to be indoors: HypeGirls.com founder Nichole Dawkins created a tropical escape on her balcony. More than 20 strategically placed potted plants — including aloe, vegetables, herbs, small palm trees, cacti, and orchids — block out the neighbors and frame a calming water view from her Miami home.

Given the space’s appeal, Dawkins doesn’t have to remind herself to take a break throughout the day. She meditates there every morning, soaks in the sun while enjoying an afternoon cup of tea, and often reads or colors while her son naps. Sign us up!

A No-Fail System for Organization

With a young toddler running around, Dawkins is constantly battling toys that threaten to take over her living room. So the creative director and founder of the site for “millennial mamas,” invested in DIY shelving and deep decorative bins.

Because every bin houses one category of items — like puzzles, coloring books, games, and toys — she can easily clean up throughout the day, allowing her more time to enjoy that sense of adult orderliness every evening.

Instead of a mess facing her at the end of the work day, “I spend much more time relaxing in the space than I do cleaning it up,” she says.

A Drop Zone to Separate Work From Home

Is it difficult to leave the literal “mess” of work at the front door? Andrea Davis-Cetina, an organic farmer and owner of Quarter Acre Farm in Sonoma, Calif., can relate.

A one-woman operation, she might spend the day planting and harvesting, and then return home after dark to post social media updates, order seeds, or book guests for her radio show. She needed a place to stow her dirty farm boots and jackets, but her home doesn’t have a foyer.

So she carved out a small foyer drop zone at the front door, with a wall-mounted coat rack above a simple, three-level shoe stand.

“It stops the mess at the door,” she says, and helps draw that elusive line between work and personal life — even if there’s more work to be done after a long shower and an episode of “Scandal.”

For homeowners with devices instead of dirty gear: A charging station is a must-have for a drop zone. Plug ’em in, and leave ’em there.

An Easy Way to Spend Time Outside

Bullock says both his home’s location and his home’s yard help him de-stress simply by encouraging him to get outside.

Since his home is in a walkable neighborhood, Bullock says that encourages both him and his family to interact with nature, instead of watching it through car windows — either by walking to the local pizzeria or riding their bikes through the park. Their home’s locale makes it all possible.

But his favorite just might be the small herb garden in his front yard. He and his son routinely spend a few minutes most days watering or weeding it.

“That definitely is a big stress relief, and it’s right outside the front door,” he says.

Related: 5 Awesomely Easy Landscaping Projects

Windows will get you a dose of nature, too: Dawkins says the abundance of windows in her home is a natural mood-booster — and a significant reason she chose her home. She leaves the windows uncovered during the day to get as much of the benefits of daylighting as she possibly can.

A Focal Point to Find Peace and Motivation

“The power of visualization is very important when you’re trying to get focused, or relax,” Dawkins says, by way of explanation for the “inspiration board” in her home.

She gives her board a very personal touch. Every year, she takes a blank canvas and paints it with a new theme (this year, it’s reggae), then adds her visions and dreams to it.

It works as artwork in her home, but it also helps her to see her goals clearly — and let go of the day’s less consequential stressors.

You don’t have to be an artist to have an inspiration board: Davis-Cetina uses a simple bulletin board to hang her motivational messages and personal and professional mementos. In the evening, when she’s handling the office end of farm work from an extra bedroom, she likes to visit her board. “I like to hold onto things and look at them. It’s a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing,” she says.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

Posted in Home Owner Tips | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Super-Busy People Reveal Their Habits for a Tranquil Home

Consumers Say Housing Is a Strong Financial Investment

May 23, 2019

Sixty-five percent of households nationwide view buying a home in their ZIP code as a good financial investment, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Housing Expectations. Nearly 72 percent of renters say they would prefer to own instead of rent—if they had the financial resources to do so, the survey found. Renters ages 50 and older were more likely than younger renters to say they prefer to be homeowners.

Renters have the perception that access to mortgage credit is loosening, with 21 percent saying obtaining a mortgage is “easy” or “very easy”—the highest percentage since 2014. However, nearly 58 percent perceive obtaining a mortgage as “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult.”

As for existing homeowners, they’re eager to invest more in their homes. The percentage of homeowners who expect to invest at least $5,000 in their homes over the next one to three years continues to be elevated, according to the study. The average probability for the one-year horizon of spending at least $5,000 on a home stood at about 38 percent, while a three-year horizon stood at nearly 48 percent.

Housing as investment chart. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.
Homeowner Tenure chart. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

Housing economists announced the survey results Wednesday and struck an upbeat tone about the outlook for homeownership over the next decade. Assuming a strong economy continues, they said the nation’s aging population will likely increase homeownership since older households historically are more likely to own. Economists also noted that a majority of renter households are reporting they’d rather own than rent. However, renters also report facing obstacles, particularly from high student loan debt that may delay their entrance into homeownership.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Posted in Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Consumers Say Housing Is a Strong Financial Investment