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How to Prepare Yourself for Becoming a Landlord

Rismedia Todays Top Story - 21 hours 33 min ago

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

If you own some property that you are not actively living in, you might be thinking about renting the property out and becoming a landlord. Renting usable property is a great way to make some extra money, but if not done carefully, it can turn into a disaster. Here is a list of some of the most important things to learn before taking the plunge.

Study Local Laws
Since shelter is a basic human need, a large body of legal rules and regulations apply to the process. Rental laws vary a great deal from state to state, so you’ll need to find a good resource for researching these laws, unless you are already a lawyer yourself. While looking around online is a good start, you’ll probably also need to consult a legal professional, or at least some books on the subject. Your local library is an excellent resource to find any of the information without spending an arm and a leg.

Set Up Your Maintenance Team
As the rental owner, for the most part, you will be legally liable for keeping up the property in terms of basic maintenance. Between electrical, gas, water, HVAC, and other systems, a home is a bundle of potential maintenance issues waiting to explode in your face. Hiring good people to keep everything working properly is important to staying ahead of the curve, especially if you are renting out multiple properties; the more locations you are leasing, the more maintenance hours you will log. Of course, sometimes the problems will go beyond what a maintenance team can cover. For those cases, you’ll want a working relationship with a good local contractor.

Get the Proper Insurance
However many steps you go through in your tenant screening process, the fact remains that problems can and will occur. Whether from unruly and careless tenants, freak accidents that cause serious damage, or simply from regular wear and tear, your property is at risk when you rent it out. You can protect your investment by making sure you are covered by the best home insurance possible, so you can recover against any losses. Protect your home further with a home warranty that can keep your pricey appliances covered in case of expensive damages.

Set Up Your Lease Properly
With all the knowledge you’ve acquired in the previous steps, you should be well prepared to put together a strong lease at this point. This document is hugely important to beginning your time as a landlord right, since it outlines the rights and responsibilities of both you and your tenant. As such, it protects both people in the relationship from problems, intentional and otherwise. You’ll definitely want to get a lawyer involved in at least one draft of the document, and ask him or her how to make sure you aren’t put in a dubious legal position.

Whether you are renting out a single property or operating multiple rental properties, the basic requirements for success are fundamentally the same. With a little work, you can turn that property into money in your pocket.

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Categories: Realty News

Realtor.com: Not Every Market Is a No-Go for Millennials

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 16:07

Millennial homebuyers are struggling against a tide of too-high prices—but not in every market.

Realtor.com®’s recently released Top Cities for Millennials ranks the markets with double the draw for millennials: (relatively) affordable housing and employment. The top 10:

  1. Salt Lake City, Utah
  2. Miami, Fla.
  3. Orlando, Fla.
  4. Seattle, Wash.
  5. Houston, Texas
  6. Los Angeles, Calif.
  7. Buffalo, N.Y.
  8. Albany, N.Y.
  9. San Francisco, Calif.
  10. San Jose, Calif.

Aside from being twice as nice, the markets in the ranking already have tracts of millennial residents, setting them up as home-buying hot spots.

“High job growth in markets such as Orlando, Seattle, and Miami, and the power of affordability in places like Albany and Buffalo, are making these markets magnets for millennials,” says Javier Vivas, manager of Economic Research for realtor.com. “But what really stands out is that all these markets already have large numbers of millennials, which translates into strong populations of millennial homebuyers.”

Breaking down the top 10:

  1. Salt Lake City

Millennial Hot Spot: Sugar House
Millennial Share of Population: 15.8 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 30 percent
Unemployment Rate: 2.9 percent

  1. Miami

Millennial Hot Spots: South Beach, Wynwood
Millennial Share of Population: 13.1 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 49 percent
Unemployment Rate: 5.1 percent

  1. Orlando

Millennial Hot Spot: Thornton Park
Millennial Share of Population: 14.6 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 34 percent
Unemployment Rate: 4.4 percent

  1. Seattle

Millennial Hot Spots: Belltown, Capitol Hill
Millennial Share of Population: 15.2 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 35.6 percent
Unemployment Rate: 4.2 percent

  1. Houston

Millennial Hot Spots: The Heights, Oak Forest, Timbergrove
Millennial Share of Population: 14.5 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 36.1 percent
Unemployment Rate: 5.4 percent

  1. Los Angeles

Millennial Hot Spot: Silver Lake
Millennial Share of Population: 15 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 64.1 percent
Unemployment Rate: 4.7 percent

  1. Buffalo

Millennial Hot Spots: Buffalo, North Buffalo
Millennial Share of Population: 13.4 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 22.7 percent
Unemployment Rate: 5.6 percent

  1. Albany

Millennial Hot Spot: Downtown Albany
Millennial Share of Population: 12.7 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 27.3 percent
Unemployment Rate: 4.5 percent

  1. San Francisco

Millennial Hot Spots: Mission, North Beach
Millennial Share of Population: 15 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 56.2 percent
Unemployment Rate: 3.7 percent

  1. San Jose

Millennial Hot Spot: Downtown San Jose
Millennial Share of Population: 14.2 percent
Share of Income Spent on Housing: 53 percent
Unemployment Rate: 3.7 percent

Salt Lake City takes the lead in the top 10 for not only having the highest millennial share in its population (15.8 percent), but also having the third most affordable housing costs as a share of income (30 percent) and the lowest unemployment rate (2.9 percent). Seattle (15.2 percent) and San Francisco (15 percent) have similarly high shares of millennials in their populations.

Albany and Buffalo, on the other hand, win when it comes to affordability, with Buffalo’s housing costs taking up the lowest share of income (22.7 percent) and Albany taking up the second lowest (27.3 percent).

Seattle and San Francisco round out the top three for their low unemployment rates, both at 3.7 percent.

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.

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Categories: Realty News

10 Tips for Homebuyers and Sellers This Spring

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 16:31

Spring is here, and so is spring home-buying and -selling. Buyers and sellers preparing to take action this season should put those plans into play now—according to Zillow Group’s Report on Consumer Housing Trends, the No. 1 regret for both buyers and sellers is “not starting their home search or prepping their home to sell soon enough.”

“This spring, both buyers and sellers should be prepared for fast-moving sales, intense negotiations, and even bidding wars,” says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow Group. “Home shoppers and sellers are motivated to become more strategic and knowledgeable about what’s happening in their neighborhood. Understanding whether you are in a buyer’s or a seller’s environment will help you manage your expectations and will give you insight into what you’re going to need to bring to the table in order to close the deal.”

For buyers, that means:

Keep your options open. More than half (52 percent) of homebuyers surveyed in the report said they also considered renting, and more than one-third (37 percent) of first-time buyers seriously considered continuing to rent. Savvy shoppers should have a Plan B in place, hoping to buy if it works out, but willing to sign a lease for a home if they don’t make a deal by the time they need to move.

Be realistic with your budget. Once you set it, stick to it. First-time home buyers are more likely to exceed their budget than repeat buyers (39 percent versus 26 percent), according to the report. Before you meet with a lender to determine how much mortgage you’ll be approved for, take a good look at your individual finances and spending preferences to determine the monthly payment range that you feel you can comfortably afford. (Use Zillow’s mortgage calculator to help with you with the math.)

Get your financing squared away early. Plan to meet a few lenders four to six months ahead of when you’re planning to buy to ensure you can make a competitive offer quickly when you find your dream home. The majority (82 percent) of buyers get pre-approved, with 77 percent getting pre-approval from a lender before finding a home on which they are interested in placing an offer.

Find an agent with a winning track record. Take the time to find an agent who has expertise in fast negotiation, leveraging escalation clauses, and winning bidding wars. Only 46 percent of buyers got the first home on which they made an offer, according to the report, demonstrating that competition is now part of the process. Use search tools, like Zillow’s Agent Finder, to choose an agent based on sales and listing activity, area of expertise and reputation.

Communication is key. Make sure your preferred method—and frequency—of communication matches that of your agent. One-third (33 percent) of all buyers surveyed in the report preferred phone calls with their agent over emailing (21 percent) or texting (15 percent). Buyers can use the agent reviews on Zillow to learn more about prospective agents and their clients’ experiences.

And for sellers:

Start early and be strategic. Sellers consider putting their home on the market for five months before they list it—but the top seller regret is that they wished they spent more time prepping for the sale. Many cities have a magic window in the spring when homes have a higher likelihood of selling quickly for more money.

Work with an agent from the start. The vast majority (90 percent) of sellers surveyed in the report who sold quickly and for more than list price worked with an agent, and two out of three (58 percent) began working with an agent at the very beginning of their selling journey.

Pay attention to your online curb appeal. The majority of buyers begin their search online. Sellers who sold their home for more than list price made imagery and home information available online: 48 percent had professional photos taken of the home; 30 percent shot video footage; and 21 percent shot drone footage. Zillow’s video walk-throughs give sellers an easy way to show home features that are hard to capture in photos.

Home improvements can be a worthwhile investment. Sellers who fetched above list price tackled home improvements before listing their home, being 50 percent more likely to take on a large project like modifying an existing home plan and 20 percent more likely to renovate a kitchen than the average seller.

Don’t be afraid to try again. In many markets, nearly half of listing views occur in the first week the home is on the market. Twenty-six percent of those who sold above list price took their home off the market once to adjust the sales price, opting to start anew, rather than letting the home languish on the market with minimal activity. 

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

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Categories: Realty News

When It Comes to Homeownership Decisions, Pets Rule

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 15:56

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

A lot goes into the decision to buy, sell or remodel a home. After all, this is one of the most significant investments of your lifetime, so there are a lot of factors to be weighed and considered…including how happy your pet will be.

Yes, you read that right. In fact, 81 percent of respondents to a recent report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that animal-related considerations play a role in determining their next living situations. In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either had a pet or planned to get one in the future, so it stands to reason that our animal companions will play a significant role in our housing decisions for the foreseeable future.

According to NAR’s 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report, 99 percent of pet owners said they consider their animal part of the family, and 89 percent of those surveyed said they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. In fact, 12 percent of pet owners have actually moved in order to accommodate their furry, finned or feathered family member, and 19 percent said they would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future.

No one knows the relationship between homeowners and their animal friends better than REALTORS®. Those surveyed for the report said that one-third of their pet-owning clients often or very often will refuse to make an offer on a home because it is not ideal for their pet.

Other interesting statistics from the report include:

  • 67 percent of REALTORS® say animals have a moderate to major effect on selling a home. If you’re selling your home, make sure you’ve cleaned or replaced any areas affected by pet damage or odors.
  • 52 percent of respondents said they had completed a home renovation project specifically to accommodate their pet, such as fencing in their yards, adding a doggie door or installing a pet-friendly laminate flooring.
  • 80 percent of REALTORS® consider themselves animal lovers, so you’ll have lots of support in accommodating your pet’s housing needs when buying!

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

In These Markets, You’ll Earn Enough to Cover Rent—and Then Some

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 13:10

Reasonable rent and a solid-paying job? Dream on…right?

According to a recent analysis by LinkedIn and Zillow, there are dream markets for renters—if their field of choice is finance, healthcare or technology.

The analysis identified markets where renters earn in excess of the necessary income to support costs of living, taking into account indicators such as “labor market velocity,” “job listings,” “salaries,” and “rental housing costs.”

By sector, renters have the most left over in:

Finance

  1. Charlotte, N.C.
    Disposable Income: $3,793 (51.2 percent)
  1. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
    Disposable Income: $3,597 (53.4 percent)
  1. Phoenix, Ariz.
    Disposable Income: $3,249 (50.6 percent)
  1. Boston, Mass.
    Disposable Income: $3,198 (41.7 percent)
  1. Chicago, Ill.
    Disposable Income: $3,453 (48.8 percent)

Healthcare

  1. Phoenix, Ariz.
    Disposable Income: $3,793 (52. 1 percent)
  1. Indianapolis, Ind.
    Disposable Income: $3,111 (53.7 percent)
  1. Boston, Mass.
    Disposable Income: $2,861 (40.1 percent)
  1. Denver, Colo.
    Disposable Income: $2,580 (40.5 percent)
  1. Austin, Texas
    Disposable Income: $2,846 (48.7 percent)

Technology

  1. Seattle, Wash.
    Disposable Income: $5,493 (54.3 percent)
  1. Austin, Texas
    Disposable Income: $4,336 (53.8 percent)
  1. Pittsburgh, Pa.
    Disposable Income: $3,681 (56.4 percent)
  1. San Francisco Bay, Calif.
    Disposable Income: $3,964 (35.6 percent)
  1. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
    Disposable Income: $4,121 (54.9 percent)

Four markets—Austin, Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Phoenix—rank in the top five in all three sectors. Austin makes a showing in both healthcare and technology, but ranks higher for healthcare, while Boston boasts for healthcare and finance, but also ranks higher for healthcare. Dallas/Fort Worth has opportunities in finance and technology, ranking higher for finance, and Phoenix’s prospects are in finance and healthcare, ranking higher for healthcare.

“High demand and inventory shortages have driven up housing prices in some markets so much that even if you land a great job, the salary might not cover living within commuting distance,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “On the other hand, the nation’s most affordable housing markets don’t always offer plentiful employment opportunities. Housing is the biggest line item in most people’s budgets, so we did the math for you and found ‘sweet spots’—places with great job markets and housing markets that will leave you with some cash at the end of the month.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Size Matters: Most Americans Dissatisfied with Home’s Square Footage

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 00:04

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

When it comes to a home’s square footage, Americans seem to have a Goldilocks mindset: too big, too small, jussstttt right. At least, this is the consensus from a recent Trulia/Harris Poll study. The study, which surveyed over 2,000 American homeowners, found that most folks want a different sized home than the one they’re in now; however, they don’t necessarily want to go bigger. Today’s average new home size is over 2,700 square feet, 57 percent larger than homes built about 40 years ago. It’s undeniable that homes are getting larger. But interestingly enough, just because the average home size is getting larger doesn’t mean everyone is looking for more square footage. In fact, 60.6 percent of those questioned were looking to downsize. It seems more space doesn’t necessarily mean more comfort.

Below are some key findings from the survey:

  • As expected, age matters when it comes to size. Only 26 percent of baby boomers surveyed would upsize their homes, whereas 46 percent of millennials would like to add more square footage.
  • Only 32 percent of those surveyed would choose a home the same size as the one they’re currently living in if they decided to move within a year.
  • Out of survey respondents currently living in homes larger than 2,000 square feet, only 39.4 percent would choose a larger home, compared to 60.6 percent looking to downsize.
  • One interesting takeaway from the study is based on income. It seems the more affluent hope to minimize their square footage, whereas those with smaller incomes want to score more space. Seem backwards? It isn’t. Fifty-three percent of those making more than $150,000 a year hope to downsize, whereas 65 percent of those making under $150,000 say that would snag a bigger spot if given the chance.

 

For more data from the survey, click here.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Surprise! The 10 Best Cities to Sell a House

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 16:29

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ at blog.rismedia.com:

Whether it’s your first house or your fourth, you’ve likely heard the phrase “location, location, location.” A recent Smart Asset study procured information on the very best city to sell a home based on five factors. They looked at the change in median home value, the percent of homes in the area sold at a loss, the average number days a home sits on the market, the closing costs and the number of real estate offices per 1,000 residents. The results were a bit surprising.

Colorado and Texas Slay
These two states seem to be the best places to sell, snatching up nine out of the 10 top city spots on the list.

No-No Northeast
Out of the top 15 cities ranked, only one Northeastern city made the cut. The winning city? Boston.

Big Wins for Denver
The Mile High City not only has an impressive growth in median home values, but Denver homes stay on the market for an average of just 27 days.

See the full rundown below and visit SmartAsset.com for more findings.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Americans More Confident in Housing Than Ever Before

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 16:06

Americans are more confident about their housing prospects than ever before, with more believing now is “a good time” to buy or sell a home, according to the just-released Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI), which hit high point after high point in February.

“The latest post-election surge in optimism puts the HPSI at its highest level since its starting point in 2011,” says Doug Duncan, chief economist and senior vice president at Fannie Mae. “Millennials showed especially strong increases in job confidence and income gains—a necessary precursor for increased housing demand from first-time homebuyers.”

The Index registered an all-time high, 88.3, in February. Forty percent of Americans surveyed in the Index believe now is a good time to buy a home, up 11 points from January, while 22 percent believe now is a good time to sell, up 7 points to an Index high. Seventy-eight percent—another Index high—believe they are secure in their jobs, and 19 percent—still, another Index high—report “significantly higher” incomes in the past year.

Forty-five percent, at the same time, believe home prices will rise.

“Preliminary research results from our team find that millennials are accelerating the rate at which they move out of their parents’ homes and form new households; however, continued slow supply growth implies continued strong price appreciation and affordability constraints facing millennials and first-time buyers in many markets,” Duncan says.

Source: Fannie Mae

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Categories: Realty News

Urban Living Comes at a Price for Families

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 16:20

Living an urban lifestyle comes at a price, especially for homeowners with children, according to a recent report by Care.com and Zillow.

Between child care, a mortgage and property taxes, households with children in the city spend over $9,000 more each year, on average, than households with children in the suburbs, racking up $43,000-plus in annual expenses. The difference is wider in many of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, including:

Chicago, Ill.
City: $67,266 (Annual Cost of Child Care, Mortgage and Property Taxes)
Suburb: $48,794
Cost Difference: $18,472

Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
City: $44,843
Suburb: $30,715
Cost Difference
: $14,128

New York, N.Y.
City: $123,158
Suburb: $51,921
Cost Difference: $71,237

In some metropolitan areas, however, costs are less in cities:

Baltimore, Md.
City: $24,271
Suburb: $35,061
Cost Difference: $10,790

Philadelphia, Pa.
City: $25,155
Suburb: $39,014
Cost Difference: $13,859

“Deciding whether to live in the city or suburbs is a personal choice, but when you do the math, it’s easy to see why moving to the suburbs is about more than just a bigger yard—it can also save you a lot of money,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “More than a third of families exceed their initial budget when buying a home, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Trends Report, so before embarking on a move, consider the cost of living beyond just the home’s sticker price.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Resort Towns Seek a Lift from Airbnb Taxes

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 00:00

(TNS)—In search of some extra cash, Jim and Janet Dooley started renting out a spare bedroom in their Big Bear home to skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“This has brought us a couple of hundred dollars a week,” says Janet Dooley, who listed the room about two years ago on the online booking platform Airbnb. Most of the guests have been young travelers, heading to the slopes at the nearby Bear Mountain and Snow Summit ski resorts.

The Dooleys are part of a fast-growing club. Nearly 2,000 homes, apartments and spare bedrooms are listed for rent on Airbnb in and around Big Bear Lake, Calif., up from only about 400 properties listed two years ago.

For ski resort towns, the growing popularity of Airbnb, VRBO and other online booking sites has become a mixed blessing.

The sites have created additional places to spend the night, often at an affordable price, bringing more skiers to the slopes. In contrast to hotel operators in the city, ski resort owners voice a surprising lack of anti-Airbnb sentiment, noting that cabins, condos and other vacation rentals have a long history in the mountains.

The complaints come from officials at ski resort towns, who are resorting to extreme measures to collect lodging taxes from properties listed online.

In Big Bear Lake, the City Council recently voted to spend $25,900 for software to identify homes and rooms that are listed for rent online but have not registered to pay the city’s 8 percent transient occupancy tax.

“We have been trying to be proactive to keep up with this issue,” says Phil Mosley, director of Community Services for Big Bear Lake.

For good reason. Last year, the transient occupancy tax generated nearly $4.6 million, or about 11 percent of Big Bear Lake’s annual revenue. But city officials think the tax collected should be much higher.

A spokesman for Airbnb says the San Francisco company is willing to collect taxes from property owners on behalf of the city, but that would require city or state lawmakers to pass new legislation. Airbnb already has agreements to collect taxes in more than 200 municipalities worldwide, including Los Angeles.

“We are eager to do so in as many places as possible,” Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty says.

The small town of Truckee, which sits a few miles north of the Alpine Meadows and Northstar resorts near Lake Tahoe, doesn’t have such an agreement to let Airbnb collect taxes. That’s why the city hired a consultant in June to find all the properties in town that are listed for rent on online platforms.

“They use data-mining techniques to pinpoint the houses for rent,” says Truckee City Manager Tony Lashbrook, who estimates there are about 1,200 properties listed as short-term rentals in Truckee on as many as 20 different online platforms.

The transient occupancy tax in Truckee generated $1.8 million in the last fiscal year, about 9 percent of the city’s general fund revenues.

Similar efforts were launched in Mammoth Lakes, a resort town in the Eastern Sierra. Since 2010, the city has assigned three full-time employees to identify short-term rentals within the city’s boundaries and ensure that they are paying the city’s transient occupancy tax.

Property owners who fail to register with the city and pay their taxes can face fines of as much as $1,000 a day.

In the first fiscal year after the crackdown was launched, the city collected $500,000 in new revenue, says Cyndi Myrold, finance manager and treasurer for Mammoth Lakes.

For ski resort operators, the growing popularity of Airbnb and other online booking sites has contributed to an increase in ski visitors. And even though several ski resort companies also own vacation lodging properties and hotels, they say the overall effect is positive.

“Ski areas across North America, particularly those in Lake Tahoe and Mammoth, we benefit from Airbnb and VRBO,” says Andrew Wirth, president and chief executive of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, parent company of the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts.

A study by AirDNA, which collects data on Airbnb, found nearly 1,000 properties in Mammoth Lakes are listed for rent on Airbnb, up from about 200 units in December 2014.

Mammoth Resorts, which owns and operates Mammoth and June Mountain resorts in the Eastern Sierra as well as Bear Mountain and Snow Summit in the San Bernardino Mountains, also owns and operates four lodges and inns at the base of Mammoth Mountain.

Despite the proliferation of short-term rentals, Mammoth Resorts’ rental properties haven’t lost business, Mammoth Resorts spokeswoman Lauren Burke says.

“We have not seen a negative effect on bookings in our lodging properties due in part to the variety of amenities that short-term rentals do not offer,” she says. “Our hotels are some of the only ski-in, ski-out properties in town and our guests continue to seek the premium experience with all our services and slope-side locations.”

Some ski resort operators worry that the growing popularity of Airbnb and other sites means that properties in ski resort towns that would otherwise be available as affordable housing for resort workers are instead listed for vacationers.

“We do feel like the expansion of (rentals by owners) has taken affordable units out of the market that could be there for employees of our resorts,” Robert Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, said during a December earnings report conference call. Vail Resorts operates nine mountain resorts worldwide, including Kirkwood, Northstar and Heavenly in California.

Vail Resorts is working on a project to add affordable housing near the Keystone ski resort in Colorado, Katz said.

Still, he added: “We think that’s a trend that’s certainly helpful to bringing more guests to the resorts.”

On the shores of Big Bear Lake, the Dooleys say they rent out their second-floor spare bedroom for $75 a night. But Janet Dooley says they don’t pay a nightly transient occupancy tax because they live outside the city limits in the unincorporated community of Fawnskin.

If San Bernardino County were to come calling to collect a bed tax, Janet Dooley says she isn’t sure it would be worth the hassle to continue renting out the spare bedroom.

“We’ll see,” she says.

©2017 Los Angeles Times
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

Boomer, Millennial Homeowners to Drive Remodels Over Next Decade

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 16:50

Generational shifts are set to give rise to more investment in remodeling, as baby boomer homeowners adopt accessible living, Gen Xer homeowners complete put-off projects and millennials become homeowners, according to a recently released report by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. Higher remodeling spending broadly signals confidence in the economy, household finances and the housing market.

The report, Demographic Change and the Remodeling Outlook, projects remodeling spending to grow an average 2 percent each year through 2025, driven primarily by rising home values and incomes. Homeowner and renter spending on remodels hit a record $340 billion in 2015.

“With national house prices rising sufficiently to help owners rebuild home equity lost during the downturn, and with both household incomes and existing-home sales on the rise, we expect to see continued growth in the home improvement market,” says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center.

Baby boomer homeowners will focus on improvements that support an aging-in-place lifestyle, according to the report, spending the most of the three generations at a 56 percent share. Millennial homeowners—with limited resources—will move to upgrade for automation and energy efficiency.

The majority of remodeling spending occurs in housing markets with high home values and incomes—a derailing trend, if affordability pressures continue to hamper millennial home-buying. In still-affordable Cincinnati and Detroit, for example, remodeling spending by millennials was more than double than that in Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2015. Millennial homeowners of houses built before 1980, also in 2015, spent 16 percent more than the national average. In 2017, remodeling spending overall is projected to increase the most in the East and Midwest.

Other shifts, however, could have a softening effect. The share of homeowners 65 and older—who typically spend less on remodeling—will grow in tandem with other generations, along with minority homeowners and homeowners without young children, who also spend less.

“Despite these challenges, the remodeling industry should see numerous growth opportunities over the next decade,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center. “Strong demand for rental housing has opened up that segment to a new wave of capital investment, and the shortage of affordable housing in much of the country makes the stock of older homes an attractive option for buyers willing to in invest in upgrades.”

Source: Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies

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Categories: Realty News

CFPB Explores Alternative Routes for ‘Credit Invisibles’

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 16:05

Twenty-six million Americans are “credit invisible,” or lacking enough credit history to generate a credit score—a factor most lenders use to evaluate loan applications. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has begun exploring alternative routes to determine creditworthiness, including cell phone bill and rent payment history, seeking feedback from the public on these and other assessment methods.

“Alternative data from unconventional sources may help consumers who are stuck outside the system build a credit history to access mainstream credit sources,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We want to learn more about whether this non-traditional approach can offer opportunities to millions of Americans who are credit invisible and how to minimize any risks in how this information is used.”

Specifically, the CFPB has issued a Request for Information on whether alternative data would boost credit accessibility and/or make credit decisions more complicated, as well as its impact on borrowers and lenders and privacy and security issues.

View the Request for Information here.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB)

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Categories: Realty News

Aging in Place? Prepare to Pay—or Change Your Mind

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 16:30

Forty-three million homeowners plan to stay put in their current home as they age, but lack the accessibility features to make it practical. A recent Insight from Freddie Mac reveals that adding those features—levered handles, widened doorways and hallways—could be costly, or impossible.

According to Freddie Mac, half of Americans age 55 and older and three-quarters of Americans age 75 and older have one or more “physical functional limitations” that necessitate accessible features at home. Approximately 1.5 million existing homes require some retrofitting to make them accessible—and 2 million will require retrofitting by 2030. Retrofitting includes relocating living space to a single floor and replacing stairs with ramps.

Simple retrofits, according to the Insight, such as grab bars and pull-out cabinets, can cost on average $100-$270. Complex retrofits, however—a bathroom remodel, for instance—can cost between $5,600 and $13,000.

Some homes, as well, are unable to be retrofitted at all. Fifty-seven percent of homes in the Northeast—which tend to be older than homes in other regions—can accommodate single floor living, compared to 73 percent in the Midwest and 80 percent in the Southwest and West.

“Nearly a quarter of all baby boomers are going to be faced with the financial realities of aging in place, which can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist. “Of course, the cost depends on the type and condition of the home. Many older homes, such as many of the Colonial-style homes common in the Northeast and Midwest, may not be good candidates for retrofitting. For some of them, aging in place until the bitter end may not even be a possibility. Like Bette Davis said: ‘Old age is not for sissies.'”

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University, only 3.5 percent of homes today have accessible features.

Source: Freddie Mac

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Categories: Realty News

On the House: A Crowdfunded Alternative to House-Flip Financing

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 00:00

(TNS)—Back when house-flipping was the major fad of the mid-2000s, Matt and Elizabeth Faircloth were not like most. As tens of thousands of people across the nation were securing mortgages they never should have received to fund flips, the New Jersey couple were tapping into money for projects in any way they could find: personal savings, money from friends and their inner circle.

They were the outliers: Only 30 percent of flippers were paying with cash, the majority instead borrowing from banks and other lenders to get a lot of money fast.

For years, the system worked. Until it didn’t.

At the peak of the flipping boom in second-quarter 2005, when 95,000 people across the country flipped single-family homes or condos, many flippers were holding two, three or four mortgages, experts say—partially driven by investors who lied on their applications, saying the homes would be their primary residences so they could get cheaper interest rates. Lenders who severely loosened their borrowing standards were also part of the problem.

When the housing bubble burst and values plummeted, flippers with multiple mortgages suddenly couldn’t sell their properties and couldn’t pay their loans. The rest is history.

Now, flipping—buying second-rate homes, rehabbing them quickly, and selling them for a profit—is back. In 2016’s second quarter, more than 51,000 U.S. homes were flipped, the most since 2010.

Can we ensure what happened in the mid-2000s doesn’t happen again? Industry experts say there’s something that can help: the internet and the crowd.

Thanks to websites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, we live in an era in which the public can fund almost anything. (Years ago, a man made headlines for receiving more than $55,000 on a project to make potato salad.)

It was only a matter of time before flippers got money the same way. But crowdfunding a flip is a bit more complicated.

The concept in theory is still the same: Potential flippers who can’t get mortgages from banks and lending institutions solicit internet and crowdfunding sources for loans.

At some of these, loans are created using funds from individual investors—some of whom pay as little as $5,000 to get in on the deal. The smaller loans are packaged together. In return, the investors receive 10 percent to 15 percent interest back on the loan they provided. Terms may differ by lender.

Founded in 2012, Fund That Flip, based in New York, is one such company, created to fill what founder Matt Rodak saw as a void in the industry.

“I was doing some house-flipping on the side…and found the (funding) process to be very frustrating, filling out lots of applications and dealing with a sometimes opaque process,” Rodak says.

He touts a more simplistic process: Borrowers have less paperwork and fewer hidden fees. And in most cases, he promised, interest rates are not as high as with loans from hard-money lenders, in which the loans are secured by the properties.

In return, investors make safer bets, Rodak says. Instead of writing large checks for one borrower, Fund That Flip investors can “take that same $200,000 and spread it over 20 or 40 deals and diversify their risk.”

It’s something the Faircloths have explored, and with the right opportunity they would try to team with Fund That Flip, Matt Faircloth says.

“People are getting sick and tired of Wall Street as the only place they can go to invest hard-earned money and to build long-term wealth,” Faircloth says. “Crowdfunding allows you to invest in something that’s down the street from your house.

“I’d like to be a part of that space as it becomes more popular— we need another choice for building wealth.”

©2017 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

Pets Have Pull for Homebuyers and Renters

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 16:00

Three bathrooms? Check.

Garage? Check.

Doggy door? Check.

Pets are family—and homes have to accommodate family. According to a recently released report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 81 percent of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation—so much so that 89 percent say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction. What’s more: Nineteen percent of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet, while 12 percent have moved for their pet.

Moving is not the only option for pet owners, however. More than half (52 percent) of Americans in the report completed a renovation for their pet, such as adding a dog door, building a fence around the yard or installing laminate flooring.

Pets also have pull when it comes to buying or renting a home, according to the report. One-third of pet owners will not make an offer on a home that does not meet the needs of their pet, while 61 percent have a hard time finding a pet-friendly homeowners association or rental.

“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either had a pet or planned to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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Categories: Realty News

Looking for Love? 20 Singled-Out Cities

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 16:53

Love is all around…but if you relocate to one of Trulia’s “Dating Destinations”—cities with scores of educated, employed singles ready to mingle—your chances of finding the one shoot up like a stray Cupid’s arrow.

According to Trulia, the top 10 cities where there are more single men than women are:

  1. Bakersfield, Calif.
  2. Salt Lake City, Utah
  3. San Francisco, Calif.
  4. Las Vegas, Nev.
  5. San Jose, Calif.
  6. Honolulu, Hawaii
  7. San Diego, Calif.
  8. Seattle, Wash.
  9. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  10. Austin, Texas

The top 10 cities where there are more single women than men are:

  1. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
  2. Birmingham, Ala.
  3. Winston-Salem, N.C.
  4. Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, Md.
  5. Greensboro, N.C.
  6. El Paso, Texas
  7. Dayton, Ohio
  8. Philadelphia, Pa.
  9. New York, N.Y.-N.J.
  10. Baltimore, Md.

It’s clear—after taking the love blinders off—that the highest concentrations of single men are on the West Coast, with most bachelors located in the Bay Area. The highest concentrations of single women, however, are spread out on the East Coast. The takeaway? Compromise is key to any relationship—so if you’re looking for love this Valentine’s Day, try meeting in the middle…of the country.

Source: Trulia

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Categories: Realty News

7 New or Improved Tax Breaks for 2017

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 13:06

(TNS)—Have you done your taxes yet? Your W-2s or 1099s probably have started to trickle in with the mail over the past few weeks. You might also be in the process of gathering the right receipts and pertinent statements.

Before you sign an IRS tax return and send it off, though, make sure you know about these new or improved tax breaks for this year’s tax season. By taking advantage of these tax breaks, you can reduce your total tax debt.

  1. IRA Rollover Self-Certification

Take heart if you missed the 60-day time limit for transferring distributed funds from your IRA or workplace retirement fund to another qualifying fund. Thanks to a new rule, you might qualify for a waiver that will prevent you from having to pay early distribution taxes.

Prior to Aug. 24, 2016, those who missed the deadline had to write a letter to the IRS requesting a waiver. Now, a new IRS self-certification process lets you receive a waiver for 11 specific reasons if you missed the 60-day deadline. Some examples of these 11 reasons are:

  • Serious illness or death in your family
  • Financial institution mistakes
  • A lost and uncashed check
  • Severe damage to your home
  • Postal errors

To make things easy on the taxpayer, the IRS website has a sample letter that you can fill in and print to explain which of the 11 reasons applies to you. Look for Revenue Procedure 2016-47.

  1. Gift Tax Exclusion for ABLE Accounts

An ABLE account—achieving a better life experience—offers tax-advantaged opportunities for disabled people and their families. It helps them save for and pay for expenses related to the disability. Although the legislation was passed in 2014, the specialized accounts only became available on a general basis in 2016.

Anyone—including a family member or friend of a disabled person—can contribute up to $14,000 to an ABLE account without having to pay a gift tax. Earnings and distributions are tax-free when used to pay for qualified disability expenses such as:

  • Housing
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Prevention and wellness
  • Employment training and support
  • Assistive technology
  • Personal support services

These accounts offer both state and federal tax advantages. In addition, the first $100,000 in an ABLE account does not count as income or assets when disabled individuals try to qualify for public assistance programs.

Although only nine states currently have ABLE programs, you can open an account—or contribute to one—in a state other than your own.

  1. Higher Tax Thresholds

The positive effect of getting a cost-of-living increase or raise at your job can be a mixed blessing if it lifts you into a higher tax bracket. Fortunately, the IRS raised the tax thresholds for 2016, meaning you’re less likely to have to pay a greater percentage of your wages toward taxes if you earned more last year than you did in 2015.

Married couples filing jointly slid up from a 15 percent tax bracket to 25 percent once they earned more than $74,900 in household income in 2015. In 2016, such filers had to earn more than $75,300 before moving into the 25 percent bracket.

  1. Increase of Standard Deduction for Head of Household

Those filing as head of household in 2016 will enjoy a $50 increase in their standard deduction, from $9,250 in 2015 to $9,300 in 2016.

The standard deduction didn’t increase for other filers. Singles still receive a $6,300 standard deduction and married couples filing jointly receive a $12,600 standard deduction.

You can get a larger standard deduction if you are blind, age 65 or older, or both. Depending on your circumstances, the increase can be as much as $1,550.

Enter your standard deduction on line 40 of Form 1040. Instructions in the left-hand column of your tax return help you figure out how much you can claim.

  1. Increase of Personal Exemption

Line 42 of Form 1040 lets you claim personal exemptions, which are amounts you can deduct from your adjusted gross income for yourself and your dependents. Such exemptions are in addition to your itemized deductions or standard deduction.

In 2016, the per-person exemption rose $50 to $4,050 per person. Note that a person can only be claimed as an exemption on one tax return. So, let any of your working dependents know that they cannot take themselves as an exemption even if they earn enough money to file their own tax return.

The exemption phases out once you reach certain income levels. Your exemptions decrease by 2 percent for each $2,500 above these income levels.

  1. Increased Earned Income Credit

If you have low or moderate income, you might qualify for the federal earned income credit. The income-based credit is for single, head of household, married filing jointly or widowed taxpayers with or without children.

The maximum credit for 2016 is $6,269 for filers with three or more qualifying children. The amount reflects a $27 increase from 2015’s figure of $6,242.

Low-income people without children receive the lowest credit. Single, head of household or widowed taxpayers receive a maximum credit of $506 if they make less than $14,880. Those who are married filing jointly receive the same amount provided their income is less than $20,430. The credit amount reflects a $3 increase from the 2015 credit of $503. Income limits have increased $60 for singles and $100 for those in the married filing jointly category.

Take advantage of the earned income credit by filling out Schedule EIC and attaching it to your tax return if you have a qualifying child and meet the income requirement. Then, enter the amount of your credit on line 66a of Form 1040. If you don’t have a qualifying child but meet the income requirements, simply enter your credit amount on line 66a.

  1. Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

If you live and work overseas, you can exclude a portion of your income and foreign housing expenses from gross income on your U.S. tax return. To claim the exclusion to income you earned in a foreign country, you must meet one of the following:

  • You have been physically out of the U.S. for at least 330 full days during any 12-month period.
  • You have been “a bona fide resident of a foreign country or countries for an uninterrupted period that includes an entire tax year,” according to the IRS.
  • You have been a U.S. resident alien who is a “citizen or national of a country with which the United States has an income tax treaty in effect,” according to the IRS. In addition, you must meet the second requirement above.

If you qualify for the exclusion, you can exclude up to $101,300 of income earned in a foreign country, $500 more income than 2015’s $100,800 tax exclusion.

To claim the exclusion, you must file a U.S. income tax return even if the money you made was less than the $101,300 exclusion. Fill out Form 2555 or 2555-EZ.

©2017 GOBankingRates.com, a ConsumerTrack web property

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Categories: Realty News

Moving? Chances Are You’re Headed to Atlanta

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 16:00

More Americans migrated to Atlanta than any other city in 2016, according to Penske’s annual Top Moving Destinations ranking, which is based on one-way rental truck reservation data. A-Town has taken the top spot every year since the list’s inception in 2011. One look at its housing costs, and it’s not hard to see why.

The full top 10:

  1. Atlanta, Ga.

Median Home Value: $198,100

Median Rental Price: $1,574/month

  1. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Median Home Value: $117,100

Median Rental Price: $1,148/month

  1. Phoenix, Ariz.

Median Home Value: $200,900

Median Rental Price: $1,055/month

  1. Denver, Colo.

Median Home Value: $363,500

Median Rental Price: $1,577/month

  1. Tampa/Sarasota, Fla.

Median Home Value: $216,350

Median Rental Price: $1,264/month

  1. Orlando, Fla.

Median Home Value: $158,200

Median Rental Price: $1,322/month

  1. Seattle, Wash.

Median Home Value: $611,509

Median Rental Price: $2,133/month

  1. Las Vegas, Nev.

Median Home Value: $205,100

Median Rental Price: $950/month

  1. Houston, Texas

Median Home Value: $310,000

Median Rental Price: $1,392/month

  1. Charlotte, N.C.

Median Home Value: $178,200

Median Rental Price: $1,169/month

The majority of the top 10 cities in the ranking are in the South, and none of them are in the Northeast. Seattle continues to draw residents in droves, despite having the highest housing costs, both for owners and renters, of the top 10—and at a time when most markets are plagued by too-high rents, Las Vegas remains relatively affordable. Still, when it comes to desirable features and overall quality of living, Atlanta’s seven-peat can’t be beat.

Source: Penske

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Categories: Realty News

Feast on ‘Santa Clarita Diet,’ a Comedy about Real Estate (and Zombies)

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 16:26

A lot of things can go wrong when showing clients around a property. Nerves can get the best of you—especially when your boss has already told you you’ll be fired if you lose this listing. That being said, never in a million years would you expect to puke your guts out—literally—in front of your clients. And while I wish I could say this hasn’t happened, that’s not the case for Drew Barrymore in her new Netflix show “Santa Clarita Diet.”

In the newly released horror/comedy, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) Hammond are a pair of run-of-the-mill real estate agents. They live in between two cops whose constant bickering make the Hammonds look even more sane and ordinary. That is until they’re halfway through one of their listing tours. After complimenting the laundry chute accessible to the master bedroom, Sheila proceeds to projectile vomit all over the carpet.

Joel tries his best to continue the tour since their jobs are on the line—yet while he’s pointing out the fancy framing, the spacious room and the great lighting, all you can hear is Sheila’s incessant and incredibly violent moaning. The clients obviously end up bolting and Joel runs upstairs to check up on his wife.

Joel finds Sheila dead on the floor. The show allows him to cry for a couple of seconds before bringing the undead Sheila back to life. Soon enough, the family finds out (thanks to the neighbor’s odd kid) that Sheila is now a zombie.

Will the Hammonds be able to recover the lost listing? Will Drew Barrymore get to dazzle as a real estate agent? Or are the Hammonds moving to other kinds of real estate (read: like eating people!)? You’ll have to watch “Santa Clarita Diet” to find out!

(P.S.: If you get an offer from Coby Real Estate, maybe don’t take it.)

Stream season 1 of “Santa Clarita Diet” now on Netflix!

Gabrielle van Welie is RISMedia’s editorial intern. Email her your real estate news ideas at gvanwelie@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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Categories: Realty News

‘She Sheds’: Space for Fun, Creativity, Relaxation and Escape

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 16:21

(TNS)—Sometimes, you just want to get away. You crave a little personal space—a place you can relax, work, get creative and make a mess without guilt.

The best refuge might be waiting in your backyard. That special room may be a she shed.

A distinctly female counterpoint to macho man caves, she sheds are springing up worldwide.

“There are many in California, but I also found them in Australia, the United Kingdom, all over,” says author Erica Kotit e, a home and lifestyle expert.

Kotite spent almost a year studying the phenomenon—as well as building a she shed for her sister—for her new book She Sheds: A Room of Your Own.

“Women see them and…you can almost see the mental calculations they’re making as they imagine where they could put one in their yard,” Kotite says.

Part of the appeal is cost. She sheds allow for expanding living space without adding an actual room. That makes them particularly attractive in California, where housing prices are high and space often scarce.

“It’s almost like a grown-up playhouse,” Kotite says. “It’s your space, and you can do whatever you want with it. It’s a combination of privacy and permission. You can set boundaries.”

Kotite featured more than 35 examples in She Sheds. “My favorite was in San Luis Obispo on a crest overlooking Central California,” she says. “It was simple, but it had everything; a really pretty chandelier, a day bed and that view. All (the creator) really uses it for is to rest and look at photos of her grandchildren. But it gives her a place to relax, her own personal retreat, and it’s just glorious.”

What makes a she shed?

“By definition, it’s some sort of outbuilding, not attached to the house,” Kotite explains. “Normally, it would have been utilitarian storage space for tools or garden supplies, that sort of thing, that’s transformed into a woman’s space.”

Instead of storage, sheds become dedicated to something of particular interest to the woman of the house, she says. For example, Sonoma jewelry and clothing maker Anne Freund needed space to work on her jewelry and sew. By adding electricity and lighting, she turned a small wooden tool shed into her private studio.

“She lived in a small house and wanted a studio,” says Kotite. “She created her own boho she shed with a lot of repurposed finds including a wonderful chandelier and a lot of lace. She used old printer drawers to store beads and brooches. The overall result was very pretty, very Northern California and very cool.”

A she shed can give creative women room to work, Kotite notes.

“Painting, sewing, crafts; it involves a lot of stuff,” she says. “A she shed gives you the freedom to make a mess and leave stuff out, instead of constantly pulling stuff out and putting it away.”

The most popular use: gardening room.

“What I find interesting: Smart companies are helping people build these things,” Kotite says. “They’re capitalizing on a great niche.”

Charlotte Owendyk of Roseville created her “Tulip House” from a pre-fab kit, bought online from Summerwood of Canada.

“It is a special hideaway for me,” says Owendyk, a retired state worker and lifelong gardener. “It is even better than I had anticipated. I store all my garden tools in the shed, but I also have a desk where I can work. I will sit at my desk with my computer or garden journal. It is one of my favorite places to work. I am surrounded by the garden, and I love listening to the birds sing.”

Her gardening friends adore the Tulip House, she says. She kept it fairly simple. She has a Wi-Fi connection from her house, but no electricity or heat. “It faces south, so the space heats up nicely during the day.”

Owendyk advises taking time to “determine what you want. It is yours to enjoy so it should reflect your personality and needs.”

Katrina Sullivan of Rancho Cordova, author of the popular blog “Chic Little House,” found her extra space for an office and studio in a tricked-out Tuff Shed.

“I didn’t even know what they were called when I started mine,” says Sullivan, a mother of two. “We have a small house and I needed a little office. I got that in a 10- by 12-foot shed. I love it! It’s my little creative hideaway from the kids.”

Sullivan and her husband, Hasani, tackled the she shed as DIYers, equipping it with electricity, Wi-Fi, heat and air-conditioning. They installed insulation, dry wall, vinyl flooring and other finishing touches.

Her she shed makes for less mess in the house. “My husband appreciates it. My creative space used to be the dining room table. It was always messy and overflow. I had to push things aside to eat dinner. Now my mess stays in my she shed. When friends come over, I don’t have to rush around to clean up.

Before hauling the tools out of the backyard shed, there are some things Kotite says to consider:

  • Most pre-fab sheds often are short and dark, with six-foot ceilings and without windows.
  • Sheds can be cold and drafty, needing insulation to keep them comfortable year-round.
  • Other creature comforts—electricity, lighting, Wi-Fi access—make the shed more usable, but also more expensive. Such upgrades may also need building permits or other approvals.

The least common upgrade, Kotite finds, is indoor plumbing. “Then, it starts to become a mini-house,” she says.

She sheds become a creative outlet in themselves.

“What’s really fun is finding stuff to furnish and decorate the shed,” Kotite says. “That’s what gives it personality.”

Owendyk agrees. “I had so much fun decorating it,” she says of her Tulip House. “It is exactly like I wanted. Most everything are found items I had around the house or that people gave me. It is full of memories of good times and wonderful friends.”

©2017 The Sacramento Bee
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

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