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What Are The Most Coveted Features In Luxury Homes?
By Fatima
March 6, 2015

real estate companies

With over 115 million occupied homes, apartments, and townhouses in the U.S., all of which have the potential to go on sale at any given moment, it stands to reason that home sellers need to do whatever they can to stand out to potential buyers. And this becomes an even greater challenge in the higher end or luxury home market. Real estate agents have some surprising insights about the features that help homes sell:

Quirky Trumps Opulence

Homes for sale in Palm Springs, Calif. have an average listing price of $329,000; luxury homes in Los Angeles, Calif. are markedly more expensive, at average going rate of $1,264,386. While many of these houses have luxury features and amenities, such as expansive pools, wine cellars, and man-made waterfalls, it's the quirky, unique, and unusual features that set them apart and sometimes help drive sales.

Bill Gates' house, for instance, includes "a 2,100-square-foot domed library with oculus, a trampoline room, a 1,500-square-foot Art Deco theater, heated floors, and a 20-vehicle garage," according to Yahoo News. And these are just a few of the home's extraordinary amenities. Barbra Streisand's home is unabashedly odd, with a built-in, fake shopping mall that Ms. Streisand uses as a display for prized dolls, shoes, and purses.

A Stunning View Goes A Long Way

Top real estate companies agree: Just about any home with an awe-inspiring or jaw-dropping view will sell. The Richest magazine explains: "44% of the respondents to Realtor.com’s survey said a great view of the ocean, mountains, or city scapes surrounding their home, was an important feature." And some mansions have it all, like a truly unique $36 million home in Malibu, Calif. The one-of-a-kind home has a view of a nearby canyon, ocean, and mountain.

It can be an even greater challenge to sell high end property, real estate companies reveal. It is possible, however. And some truly unique or quirky amenities and/or a breath-taking view is often enough to do the trick.

Homes Near Starbucks Are Worth More
By Fatima
February 12, 2015

real estate agentsBuying homes for sale near Starbucks will reap significant rewards, a Feb. 3 CBS news report reveals. According to the new findings, which some describe as the Frappuccino Effect, "Homes located near one of the popular coffee shops (within a 1/4 mile) have appreciated 96% in the last 17 years, compared with the average American home appreciation of just 65%." The exact reasons for this sharp increase in real estate value are unclear, but the numbers speak for themselves.

Here are some other tricks of the trade, straight from real estate agents and the top real estate companies:

Don't Buy A Fixer Upper In A Nice Neighborhood
Conventional wisdom urges buyers to find homes with the highest real estate values, and purchase one of the "worst" houses in the neighborhood. The logic behind it is that homeowners can make improvements and fix it up, which will ultimately make the property just as valuable as the other homes in the immediate area. In the book Zillow Talk: The New Rules Of Real Estate, "Humphries and his team looked at homes valued in the bottom 10% of their neighborhoods, and how they fared over a 20-year period." The results were pretty clear; these homes did not experience a significant increase in value. Whether the exact location or other factors have been driving down the property's worth, it will -- more often than not -- stay comparably lower.

Look for Pre-Peak
There are all kinds of rules of thumb for selling one of the 115 million occupied houses in the U.S. List your home on a Friday (statistically the best day for results). Use a Realtor, and you'll be 120% more likely to close on a sale. Are there similar guidelines for buying homes? There are, but you may want to think twice about how much faith you put in them. For example, a lot of people recommend buying homes in trendy spots. This is likely to backfire. Homes in areas that have flourished are often past their prime. The best bet is to assess the immediate area, and purchase in where homes are doing well, but haven't necessarily peaked. (Think developing areas with Starbucks.)

Real estate agents agree, you can easily increase a home's value by buying the right home in the first place. Choose homes near Starbucks, and don't rely on a neighborhood that may have already reached its maximum value.

Smart Homes Rise In Popularity
By Fatima
January 28, 2015

real estate websites

There are more than 115 million households in the U.S. -- and experts expect more people to buy new homes in 2015 than they have in a very long time. Headlines about new homes for sale are not just about these promising numbers. People are also excited about what kinds of homes are for sale, and -- in particular -- many Americans are enthusiastic about the prospect of The Internet of Things and new smart homes.

What Is The Internet Of Things, And What Does It Have To Do With U.S. Homes?

The Internet of Things is a pretty broad term, referring to the idea that most products, including household appliances and alarm systems, can be connected through digital devices and, ultimately, the internet. Real estate websites and professionals are noting a rising trend in luxury real estate: More Americans want homes with smart features -- and the more, the better. Smart homes enable homeowners to turn lights on and off from their mobile device; homeowners may also be able to set alarms, turn off alarms, program thermostats, monitor smoke detector battery life, lock and unlock the fridge, and more.

Is It A Necessity Or A Luxury?

Luxury home sales are thriving. In Los Angeles, CA, the average home will sell for $1,264,386 and, in Palm Springs, CA, homes sell for an average of $633,969. Smart home products at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) raised the question, is it a necessity or a luxury? "At CES, Whirlpool showcased dryers that can run at a slower, energy-saving cycle if you aren't home and thus aren't in a rush," according to The Denver Post. Similarly, there are smart products that automatically adjust shades (again for energy savings) while users aren't home. Coffee makers that adjust the amount of caffeine in your coffee according to your sleeping patterns (more coffee for a lousy night's sleep) are also in the works.

Real estate websites and professionals agree: Smart homes are popular in the luxury market. Over time, average consumers will likely begin to demand these features as well.

Three Advantages Of Buying Homes In The Winter
By Fatima
December 3, 2014

real estate valueIn 2013, homeowners and real estate agents sold more than 5,090,000 homes. Believe it or not, a large portion of these homes were sold in November, December, and January, some of the least likely months to buy and sell apartments and houses. In fact, winter months can be the best time to buy a new house. Here are a few reasons why.

Winter Homes May Be The Most Reasonably Priced
Real estate values and homes for sale in winter months tend to give the advantage to the buyer. There are a few reasons. First, fewer people are buying homes in the winter. Second, fewer people are selling their homes in the winter. And, lastly, people selling their home in winter months can be motivated by time-sensitive issues, such as military or job relocation. 

"Home prices tend to dip, sellers can be more motivated and the holiday spirit just makes people want to be in a home," Veterans United writes.

Get To The Bottom Of It -- Without Waiting
There may be a lot of unanswered questions when you purchase a home. What are the winter heating bills like? Is the house truly well-insulated? Are there drafty windows and doors? Does the hot water stay strong in the winter? All of these answers to these questions can be something of a gamble if you purchase homes during the spring and summer months. In winter, however, you can really get a sense for these things before you make an offer on any particular home.

Less Competition
There are a few general rules that apply year-round. Friday is the best day to list your house. One in 200 homes become foreclosures, which typically sell at lower real estate values. And one of the very worst things about buying a home at any time of year is finding the perfect home and putting in an offer, only to have someone else get it first. During the winter, fewer people are buying homes -- so this is much less likely to happen.

You can -- and should -- buy homes in the winter. In the winter, buyers generally get better prices, deal with fewer competitors, and may even be able to truly evaluate a home (including how well it holds up in the winter).

Two Ways To Keep Coastal Areas Festive During The Holidays
By Fatima
November 25, 2014

homes for saleLet's face it. Winter in New England does not just entail a few, scenic snow flurries here and there. In fact, the snow that has pummeled Buffalo, NY for the past few days (now amounting to more than eight feet) may set several historic records. Thanks to this snowfall, some may be reconsidering living in states with harsh winters and frigid cold temperatures -- and real estate companies reaffirm that relocating isn't such a bad idea after all.

Americans who still hesitate are most reluctant to give up the changing of the seasons, but -- with the right location and a few adjustments -- most people won't miss it at all. Palm Springs, California, for example, is one of the best places to settle for the best of both worlds. Why is Palm Springs one of the best places to celebrate the holidays -- whether you are talking to a Palm Springs Realtor or just passing through?

Enjoy Mild Weather, And Drive Up To The Mountains To See The Snow, If You Want To
Who says you can't have your cake and eat it, too? Nearly all locations and homes for sale in Palm Springs boast mild winter temperatures (think 60s and 70s) and snow-free roads and walkways. But people who are just itching for a glimpse of powdery white snow for their "White Christmas" won't be disappointed, either. How is this possible? The mountains -- with various ski lodges and resorts -- are located just a short drive away. There are also ice skating rinks open to the public during winter.

Don't Miss The Spectacular Christmas Lights
For some, one of the best parts of the season are the many twinkling Christmas lights -- and Americans eyeing homes for sale and/or working with real estate agents in Palm Springs won't miss out on them, either. Annual WildLights Holiday Festivals feature more than 750,000 lights, with a different theme each year.

People all over the U.S. are living in 115 million houses and apartments, and -- last year -- Americans and the 2 million licensed Realtors successfully sold over 5 million. If you want a summer home -- or a permanent home in a milder and sunnier climate -- Palm Springs is one of the best places to take the leap.