Help your property put its best foot (or room) forward.

When selling a home, presentation is everything. Successfully staging a property can help buyers visualize themselves living in your home, which ultimately can lead to more offers. 

While staging your home for photos has always been important, sellers now have to pay even more attention to their home’s “screen appeal” to get noticed. Since there are fewer in-person viewings and even fewer open houses than ever before, paying attention to how your home appears on desktops and mobile devices is critical. Buyers are relying on virtual home tours and virtual neighbourhood tours to browse properties, and sellers are adjusting strategies accordingly. 

By focusing on how your home looks in photos, videos, and online in general, you can give yourself the best possible chance to sell your home in today’s increasingly virtual market. Here are a few tips on upping your home’s screen appeal as you get your listing ready. 

Move or hide “accessories” (in other words, declutter)

Before taking any photos or videos, make sure you’re putting your home’s best features forward while also minimizing distractions. Do a sweep of the space and see what small items can be tucked away. This includes small kitchen appliances such as coffee-makers or blenders, remote controls, toys, toothbrushes, lawn ornaments, garbage and recycling bins, shampoo bottles, and so on. You should also remove fridge magnets, and overly personal photos and mementos. By removing clutter (even if it’s not clutter to you), you’ll make your home feel more open, and it will help allow prospective buyers to visualize themselves in the space. 

Play around with lighting

Indoor lighting translates very differently on a screen versus in person. So, first things first: take a lot of test photos and videos to see what’s working and where. Natural light looks much better on screen than artificial light. The time of day when your space will photograph best will depend on which directions your windows face. You want to find a balance so that natural light fills the space without casting harsh shadows or glares. Try raising blinds and opening doors to get the most amount of light in. Or, try putting up thin, white curtains to help diffuse the light if needed.

Next, layer lights and lamps at various heights to fill up the room. Test different combinations of overhead lights, standing fixtures and table lamps to find the best amount of coverage. No matter what, ensure the temperature (cool or warm) and type (LED, fluorescent, etc.) are consistent in the room you’re photographing. 

Use vertical space

Walls aren’t just for photos and artwork. When staging for a virtual home tour, keep in mind that choosing abstract art is a great way to add sophistication and style, and match many people’s tastes. Beyond that, using vertical space to get items off of the floor can help make a room feel larger, more open and less cluttered when viewed on a screen. 

Use shelves instead of floor-standing furniture whenever possible: hang a floating shelf beside your bed instead of a side table or line up a column of shelves in place of a large bookcase. Take your lighting off the floor, as well, and use wall sconces, table lamps and pendant lights instead of relying only on floor lamps. Check out this blog post on design tips to make a small space feel bigger for more ideas on the best ways to use vertical space. 

Organize pantries with glass containers

This trend was pulled straight from Pinterest and echoed by the always-organized Marie Kondo. By decanting all of your pantry staples into clear, glass jars, you’ll remove the distractions and cluttered-feel cause by labels and packaging. Since storage is often a key feature home buyers look for, this tactic will make your pantries a focal point of an image, instead of an eyesore. 

This method also works with bath and cleaning products. You can instantly glamourize your tub area by replacing plastic soap and shampoo packaging with antique-looking glass jars (that you can buy for cheap at a dollar or thrift store).

Add greenery

Plants are one of the biggest interior decorating trends flooding Instagram today, which can be attributed to the fact that they really pop in photos. A few well-positioned plants add brightness and life to a space and to an image. Adding a variety of sizes and species brings personality to a room. If you want to jump on this trend to enhance your home’s screen appeal, but don’t think you can keep a real plant alive, there are many artificial plants you can find today that will look real in a photo or video, but won’t require your ongoing attention once the virtual tour wraps. While introducing greenery definitely helps with screen appeal, be careful to not overwhelm a space. The “jungle aesthetic” isn’t for everyone. 

Artfully curate your shelves

To keep things visually interesting and make your bookcase screen-ready, there are a few steps you can take. First, don’t simply line books up library-style. Have some lined up vertically, others stacked horizontally. Then, fill up extra space with small plants, candles, keepsakes, artwork and photos (without making them feel cluttered or too personal). Finally, make sure the lighting around your bookcase is appropriate. Add some battery-powered lights to the shelves, surround it with sconces, or place a floor lamp nearby. 

Revert rooms to their intended use

If you’ve really customized how you use your space, you’ll want to consider that potential home buyers may not have the same needs as you. For example, many people have set up home offices in their dining rooms. Your potential buyers might want to prioritize an eating space over a working space, so seeing this change might be off-putting. Instead, show off the rooms of your home in the way they were intended to be used. Before starting your virtual tour, tuck away your computer and make the dining area meal-friendly again. If you’re using a patio as storage, tidy it up and make it part of the living space. You can always revert back to the way you use the space after your home tour is done, but this way your potential buyer can see themselves in the space, too. 

Getting your home screen-ready before a photoshoot or virtual tour can be similar to how professional stagers would set up before an in-person open house, with a few exceptions. By paying special attention to lighting, storage, décor, and how a space is used, you’ll create a photo and video-friendly space that will help attract buyers in today’s increasingly virtual real estate market. 

Read full post

The resale values of some houses these days are high in some areas. If you are selling your property, remodeling it beforehand can have a good return on investment. Those little changes that might not seem so obvious can have big impacts when it comes to reselling your house.


In hotter markets, doing some updates in your house will give as much return as its cost. Not unless it is in a rapidly inflating location. The lesson here is not to avoid remodeling, but to rethink your expectations. Try to ask yourself first if you want to enjoy the updates for some period of time or do you want to make it immediately appealing to homebuyers?


If you are remodeling your house, updating has a reasonable purpose which is unquantifiable. For example, when you increase the area of your house, update its systems and fixtures, or rearrange the traffic flow, you are improving the functionality of your home. You may also change the wall colors, window coverings, and flooring in order to add beauty to your home. If you’ll decide to sell it later, you'll already have an advantage that will attract homebuyers.


However, it is not the same case if you're remodeling for the next buyer because you will not be able to know if the elements that you choose will appeal to the next buyer. But there are some parts of your home where renovation have to be done. For example, you may replace your roof for approximately $20,000. According to Remodeling Magazine, it will only yield a return of approximately 72% of the costs. However, a new roof could make the difference whether or not an FHA or VA buyer will buy your home. It is also a way to pass the government inspection.



On the other hand, there are a number of small updates that can have big impacts in terms of curb appeal. It is affect the safety and building integrity of your property. Take a look at the top five cost-to-value projects that earned the most return in 2015 along with its corresponding percentage:

- Replacing the front door with a 20-guage steel door – 102%
- Manufactured stone veneer -- 92. 2%
- Fiber-cement siding -- 84.3%
- Garage door replacement -- 82.5%
- Wood window replacement – 78%


With the following information, you’ll see that the most rewarding projects for resale were all about curb appeal. Try to attract your buyers on the exterior to favour your home over the other properties.

Read full post

When you are selling your home, its smell and odour also play an important in attracting buyers. Just like the look of your home, the fragrance factor should also be considered. Here are five smells that you should avoid as it could make your home into a stinker:


A lot of homeowners caulked, blown insulation, weather-stripped and sealed their homes for greener utility bills. Sure, this will your home more energy-efficient, but the disadvantage of this is that you lock all odors in. It is goodfor a home to havesome air. If not in winter season, try to open the windows and feel the aromatic delights of fresh-mown grass and flowers. Also, rooms that aren’t used much typically have musty odors. Try to check the guest bedspreads, long curtains, and old carpets that are rarely replaced or opened.


If you have pets in your house, you have to deal with poop and pee. You have to deal with feeding as well. In times of selling it, these are the things that you should prioritize looking into. For dogs or or pets with fur, groom them. Maintain them properly by bathing and brushing their hairs. They might also get on your furniture or other items where they shed piles of fur. One great idea is febreeze these things. A thorough steam cleaning might also be needed of all fabric surfaces.



Food, smoke and grease odors
There are some foods that are really stinky such as cabbage and fish. When you're marketing your home, avoid such foods for a while. Meanwhile, if you like to cook, clean your oven, burners, and any other equipment and check for burned food or spills.


Dampness, mold and mildew
As time goes by, pipes may leak and gutters might clog. These will result in some moisture that later on will be turned into a smelly rot. Also, damp spaces in your home are liely to grow mold. Thus, if your bathroom smells like a wet, dirty dog and you don't have a dog, you might have some leak or mold in your walls or under the floor.


Human raging hormones
While we have secretions that make us attractive to sex partners, these can be offensive if the smell is too noticeable. Usually, these are common in bathrooms, bedrooms and laundry rooms.




Read full post

Home-buying is a challenging task. For you to be able to end up with your dream property and to avoid future issues, there are a number of factors that you have to take into account. Take note that when purchasing a real estate, it involves making a number of decisions which combine to address the essentials of a successful real estate ownership. For you to have a successful home-buying decision, here are some insights that are worth looking into:


Here, you have to find out the value-appreciation potential of the property. Try to think of its resale value to reveal current value deficits. Take note that you have to pay the mortgage and the costs for maintaining and improving the property over the years ahead. You want to recover these and make a profit to finance for your next plans in life. You can’t also say that it would be your ‘forever home’ since the future is full of surprises.


Also take a look at the lifestyle values that your chosen property emphasize. For example, if you want to spend your time, money, and effort on accumulating stuff, a bigger area, lots of storage, and a bedroom each is a good choice. You may also want to take a look at the surrounding community as well as the local amenities.

How will this property benefit you and your family? For example, a lot of buyers prefer a location near select schools over those adjacent to their workplace.

Time management
Is the property away from the city center? Most real estate prices are lower in locations away from urban centers. However, try to calculate the expense of commuting to your workplace. Also include the extra hours that the distance will take from your family, interests, health, and fun. After determining how much this time is worth, you can then evaluate the value of buying a particular property further from the city center.




Property management
This one answers that cost and the time required in order to maintain the property regularly. If you opt for a larger house, be aware that there’s a corresponding higher taxes. Also, the bigger the roof, the more plumbing and wiring involved, and more space to heat and cool. These things must be considered when setting the budget for a purchase.

Read full post

If you are planning to sell your house, some renovations might be needed in order to attract buyers. To make a sound decision, it is important to know which items will bring in the best ROI or return of investment. This year, renovation trends are geared toward the exterior of the home. The logic here might be simple: if buyers did not like by what they see when they drive up, they might lose interest for that particular property.


Here are the top home exterior renovations that will yield the highest return of investment based on the latest Cost vs. Value Report:


Garage door replacement
If you have a beat-up garage door, it can make your whole house look bad to the eyes of the buyers. Try to spend $1,595 for a garage door replacement and you'll get a return of $1,410. That’s 88.4% of the renovation cost.


Manufactured stone veneer
Manufactured stone veneer can add character to a home, making it more desirable. It also pays back well if you are planning to resell your house. It has a cost-value return of 92.2%.


Steel entry door replacement
Based on the Cost vs. Value report, steel entry door replacement is a home renovation that more than pays back its investment as it leads to a better resale value for the property. The said report stated that as much as 101.8% of the cost can be recouped with this renovaton. In cost-value ratio, the figure will express resale value as a percentage of construction cost. If the value is higher than the cost, the ratio will exceed 100% as in the case of steel entry door replacement.


Deck addition
Having a deck in your house will contribute significantly in selling your house. A lot of buyers are looking to get some enjoyment out of a property with such outdoor trend. It may require you to spend around $10,048, but it can pay back for about 80% of that amount once sold.


Vinyl siding replacement
If your siding is warped, cracked, or peeling, buyers may lose their interest in your property. So, do not overlook this aspect when putting your renovation dollars. For about $12,013 renovaton cost, that might not sound exciting as a property owner. But it will help you to get your home sold and later, you are able to regain around 80% of that amount once your house is sold.

Read full post

Many home sellers these days visit online home valuation sites like Zillow and Trulia to find out the value of their properties. They are pleased when such values appear higher than what they expected. But a lot of instances, they are shocked when the value of their homes come in far lower.


You may wonder how these sites come up with valuations. For property taxing purposes, all property is registered with the city and county as well. What these home valuation sites do is they contract major title companies like the First American in order to have access to county tax roll data. And to obtain current listing data and recent solds, they try to become affiliated with local multiple listing services, which can be subsidiaries of real estate associations or owned by local real estate brokers.



Out of these tax roll data and listing data, home valuation sites then come up with their own algorithm to estimate the values of what homes in a given area are worth. While the results are precise sometimes, it can also be inaccurate. There are a number of things that alters the results given by the algorithm.


First, let us take a look at the transaction data. It has to be recorded with the county and it could take weeks. But the algorithm includes those properties that are not currently on the market. Such properties don’t contribute to recent market values as they have not been tested by the current marketplace.

Another factor is that algorithms may also include whether or not a home has been updated. If you think of it, these are subjective information that’s hard to quantify. These are things such as how well the house is being maintained, its curb appeal, interior design, window and yard views, as well as the neighbourhood popularity. With these reasons, you may regard online valuations as just a tool to estimate a particular home's value.


Still, one of the best ways to choose a listing price is to ask a real estate professional for a comparative market analysis (CMA). The recent listing asking prices and sold comparables he/she provides in your neighbourhood are likely to be accurate.



Therefore, if for instance, your home has been estimated for far less value on a certain home valuation site compared to what your real estate professional had shown, you may argue with such pricing to your potential buyers.

In the same case, if your home has been valuated higher at a certain home valuation site, you can’t also expect that that’s the real value. Again, recent comparables provide you a more accurate data regarding the current market.

Read full post

When you are looking for house properties during the fall, there are a number of advantages which you can’t find on any other season. These might include the buyer traffic which is low in this season, the sellers might be willing to drop prices, and your realtor might have more time for you, among others. However, don’t be vulnerable when choosing a home too quickly. There are a number of things that you have to keep in mind to end up with a property that suits well for you and your family. Take a look at the following:


Get pre-approved

Based on your income and debts, your lender will quote you a price limit that you can afford. These are considered as effective formulas to handle your finances so that you won't be house-rich but cash-poor.


Select the right size for your home, not the biggest

With a big house, it is also expected that you’ll have more operating costs on heating, cooling and maintaining the space. All of these are additional expenses for you. That’s why opting for the biggest home is not always a good idea.


Consider your activities

Beforehand, you have to think on how you actually use the home. For example, do you need a space for home office or art studio? Or you want an impressive kitchen because you cook most of the time?


Take into account the commute

There are a lot of nice homes with great amenities, but they are far from the city centers. Also consider your travel in going to your job every day or your kids’ distance in going to school.


Look at the bones of the home

There are a lot of aspects in your home that you can update later on like wall colours, flooring, etc. But there’s one thing that should go well for you and that is the basic floor plan. Before buying the property, take a look at the traffic flow of the house like if you have a pet, can you easily clean its mess when it comes in. Or where do the kids put their backpacks when they come home from school?

Ensure that you’ll have those year-round amenities

You may be buying that particular property during the fall season but you to consider those amenities that you should have during other seasons like will you be able to garden, swim, or entertain outdoors with this property? Find it out beforehand.

Read full post

Homeowners associations or HOAs have a number of roles in a particular neighbourhood. They provide amenities like parks, landscape maintenance, club houses and pools in return for monthly or annual dues. On the homeowners’ side, they may find it challenging to accumulate the funds needed to provide a reasonable level of services and maintenance for the HOA. However, it can be avoided if the board makes cost-cutting a priority. They have to identify the high-ticket items first. Consider the following:



For those HOAs having high utility costs, try to hire a utility auditing company. What they’ll do is they verify the accuracy of utility bills, notes discrepancies and also assists in refund claims.



In order to save on insurance premiums, HOAs can raise the deductibles and to offset this additional risk, owners may try to get a ‘loss assessment’ coverage for very little money. Such coverage will be available when the HOA has to special assess for the deductible to be covered on an insurable event.



You can replace turf with drought-tolerant native species to save water as well as maintenance costs. Installing rain override sensors is also a good practice.


Pools and spas

To save, you may adjust the heater temperature and pump cycle times. For water conservation and to reduce heating costs, try to use a pool solar blanket.



In terms of lighting, a high-efficiency outdoor lighting such as a compact fluorescent, metal halide, halogen and mercury vapour is a good choice.


Preventive maintenance

This one can be your biggest money saver. What it does is it finds out and fixes the problems ahead of time when they are small enough to resolve cheaply. So, you have to determine beforehand those items that need inspection and repair. Then, maintain a schedule for maintenance.


Review contracts annually

You should also review those fixed costs. These include the insurance, management, landscape and pool contracts. You have to communicate with those providers every year and ask if there are some ways to cut down the costs. 

Read full post

Recently, we heard a lot of stories regarding the spying of NSA to almost anyone including big companies as well as regular individuals. This just means that if the government wants to spy on you, they can. With this, our liberty and privacy can no longer be taken for granted. We can have due diligence as well in order to protect our freedom that we long cherish. You can actually use some modern tools in order to minimize the effectiveness of the government’s snooping. Take a look at the following:


Counter surveillance tools

Spying tools these days are getting smaller and silent, making them nearly impossible to find. There are actually a number of right tools to do the job. Counter surveillance as it is called. There’s a camera detector which can cause lenses as small as a pin tip to reflect light. As you are able to track it, you can then eliminate it. Another tool is a bug detector which will alert you of radio frequencies in a particular vicinity. 


It may cost $3,000 upwards if you avail on government-grade speech protection systems. But you can also have an all-in-one bug, RF and lens detector for under $100, which is effective if you are living off-grid or far from neighbors and other buildings.


Range finders

You are already familiar with binoculars which is a universal tool for monitoring your home and seeing things at long distances. Another effective tool is the rangefinder which is commonly used by hunters and golfers. With rangefinders, they bounce lasers off objects in the distance and measure the time it takes to get back. The laser travels at light speed. What this tool does is calculates the distance of the object from you. You can buy the least expensive laser rangefinders around $150-$200 which is accurate up to 600 yards.

Sound amplifiers

One of the best ways to prepare for the inevitable is to hear it before it gets there. You can do that with sound amplifiers. It simly increases the volume of a distant or quiet nearby noises. For as low as $50, it will allow you to potentially hear a cricket jump from one blade of grass to the next outside your house.


Read full post

Michael Bruno, the founder of 1stdibs, has a passionate approach to the art of collecting.


Michael Bruno has always had an eye for great design and a knack for thinking big. His love of architecture and grand old houses led him to obtain a real estate license when he was 19, and after a lucrative career as a broker for Sotheby’s, he moved to Paris. One day he was shopping for antiques at the Marché aux Puces when he was struck with an ingenious idea: Why not put the famed flea market online, and make all these amazing finds available to the world? It would be a first, a virtual marketplace for high-end, one-of-a-kind items.


In 2001, Bruno turned his pioneering vision into a reality when he founded 1stdibs. Over the next decade, the site would expand its reach worldwide and revolutionize the way luxury goods are bought and sold. By 2014, it had logged more than $1 billion in transactions and become the premier online source for antiques, fine art, furniture, estate jewelry, and vintage couture—“a place,” as Bruno has described it, “where collections are born.”

Naturally, Bruno is also an enthusiastic collector—of antique and vintage furnishings, as well as noteworthy real estate. We spoke with him about the art of assembling a great collection, shopping in the digital age, and trends in luxury buying. Now 51, he has relinquished his role as CEO of 1stdibs to focus on a new project, an app called Housepad whose functions include managing all that stuff collectors tend to accumulate.


Are there risks in buying collectibles online?

You have to make sure you read the fine print, so that you know the condition of the piece, whether there’s a no-return policy, and what the dimensions are. Sometimes people just look at the image and go for it. I’ve done that myself. I was buying an antique dining table and chairs­—from two different dealers­—that I just knew would be so perfect together. But I didn’t bother to check the actual size of the chairs; I thought dining chairs were dining chairs. And you know what arrived? Sweet little children’s chairs!

Any other advice for collectors?

Keep an open mind—that’s an essential aspect of collecting. Here’s an example of that. I was sure I wanted a round center table—dark wood, single pedestal—for the gallery in my main house. So I started searching the site and there were quite a few good choices. But then I saw this irregular, light-colored limestone table and I thought, Whoa! Wait! That’s much more striking. If you see something and think whoa—pay attention. Don’t ignore that instant gut reaction. I would add this, too: If you see something you love and it’s special, don’t hesitate to buy it. Great things do sell fast and you may never see it again. I happened upon a ’20s display cabinet embellished with fish motifs that I fell in love with, and when I heard the price—$18,000—my jaw dropped. But I said to myself, when will I ever see that again? And you know what? It’s one of the things I own that will be going out after I do.

Is going with your gut the best way to build a collection?
It is for me. I buy what I love, and it doesn’t have to be the best of anything. It just has to appeal to me. I feel a collection should unfold, should be a natural, organic process rather than a deliberate one. I’m a passion collector. But there’s another type, and that’s the studied collector who approaches acquisitions like stocks—investments that will appreciate in time. Studied collectors have a more precise, strict point of view. They want a specific thing and they’re only going to collect the best examples of someone’s work. I wouldn’t find that nearly as much fun as collecting out of pure passion, but I’m sure it’s far more rewarding financially.

What is your greatest collecting passion?

I’m a real estate junkie, an incurable collector of property. And that’s a tricky thing to collect, because you can only have so many at one time.


I’m particularly drawn to old houses that need renovation. When I was in my early 20s, I was working as a real estate broker in La Jolla [Calif.], and I bought a 1920s Mediterranean-style villa by William Templeton Johnson that was in danger of being torn down. That fired up my passion for restoration and preservation. If I have a chance to buy a historic property by a notable architect in a prime location, then I sort of go into studied-collector mode because I know I’ve really got something.


Tell us about your real estate portfolio.

At the moment I have two 14,000-square-foot brick houses in New York. One is in Southampton, and it isn’t old but it has a glorious 40-acre meadow view. The other is in Tuxedo Park, a gated enclave about an hour from Manhattan that’s known for its Gilded Age mansions. The main house was designed in 1900 by John Russell Pope. It sits on 20 acres overlooking the lake, and there’s a guesthouse and a boathouse as well. Behind the property is a 55-acre garden—well, a park, really—that I just bought, designed by the Central Park landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. Paths, brooks, a waterfall, just gorgeous. And I own three other buildings in Tuxedo Park. I recently bought the Loomis Laboratory, a spectacular 1901 stone castle that originally belonged to Spencer Trask, the financier who founded Yaddo, the artists’ retreat in Saratoga Springs. Trask then sold it in the ’20s to Alfred Lee Loomis, a Wall Street tycoon with an interest in science who turned it into a private lab. It’s a dream—I haven’t been so excited about a piece of real estate in a long time. I’m going to convert the entry, living room, and gallery into one big space and use it as an office. I also have two old commercial buildings in the village, and I’ve made an offer on another, a James Brown Lord carriage house that I want so badly, I can hardly stand it.

Any smaller-scale collections?

Oh, sure. I’ve got to have something interesting to fill all these spaces. What I have more than anything are animal-themed objects, well over 100. They’re scattered everywhere in my houses, all kinds of species—a 5-foot-tall Italian rooster, a German cookie jar that looks like a bear, 18th-century ceramic parrots, iron horse heads, plaster camel heads, resin tusks, chandeliers made of shed antlers, a stone elephant . . . I could go on and on.

What is that all about?

I’ve always had an affinity for animals, and I like to feel connected to nature. I’ve even got a collection of wooden mushroom sculptures. All these pieces just make me smile. They’re happy objects and they uplift the rooms, make them fun; otherwise my interiors might feel pretty stiff. I like to move my smaller objects around from time to time, change the tablescapes. My displays will be static for a while, but often with a new season, a weather change, I want a different look or a new mood. Lately I’ve been buying pinball machines, which are in my guesthouse. I like lighthearted things that are a little bit nostalgic. They give me a lot of pleasure.

Isn’t pleasure the whole point of collecting?
If it isn’t, it ought to be.


What is trending now in the luxury sector?

Limited-edition contemporary furniture design is very hot—spectacular museum-quality pieces that sell at incredibly high prices to collectors, like fine art. The influential Australian industrial designer Marc Newson has created everything from furniture to cars to yachts and aircraft for some of the most prestigious clients in the world. His Lockheed Lounge, an aluminum-and-fiberglass chaise, is the most expensive object ever sold by a living designer—it went for $3.7 million in April of this year at a Phillips auction in London. Joseph Walsh, a self-taught Irish designer, creates sinuous free-form compositions inspired by nature that are in many significant private collections and museums. And the Dutch designer Joris Laarman uses digital technology as a tool for his works—his sensational Bone Chair is in the permanent collection of MoMA. David Ebner, an American master woodworker, makes extraordinary sculptural studio crafts furniture. The Campana Brothers, from Brazil, are known for making cutting-edge furniture out of ordinary materials such as cardboard and scraps of wood, and some of them sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

What is on the downswing?

I think midcentury modern has really kind of peaked. That pared-down look of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s has run its course. Not that the best of the furniture isn’t beautiful in its clean-lined simplicity, but because it is so simple, the original designs have been copied too much by companies like Ikea. And I think there’s been a movement toward more luxurious materials.


Furnishings from the ’70s have been in vogue for a while now. I’ve always liked that period. That’s when designers began to use a lot of chrome, suede, leather, smoked mirror, faux tortoise—materials that weren’t used in midcentury design. I have a few ’70s pieces, including a pair of sofas by Milo Baughman and a kitchen table by Jules Wabbes.


Can a collection get out of hand?
Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, if I get that carriage house in Tuxedo Park I’ll have to say, “No more!”

Smart House

If there is one thing Michael Bruno insists on, it is a beautifully maintained home. But when he became frustrated with the “convoluted mess” of managing the multiple properties that make up his real estate collection, he dreamed up a solution: a new app called Housepad. Introduced earlier this year, the app functions as a private communication network connecting homeowners to staff, family members, guests, and anyone else involved with the house, including interior designers, architects, contractors, and gardeners.

Images are the foundation of the app. For example, a “lookbook” stores photos of rooms or specific areas to show housekeepers exactly the way things should be—how the pillows should be arranged on the sofa, the beds made, the towels folded. Users can assign to-dos by sending existing images or snapping new ones, accompanied by a note.
Housepad also can be used to compile a comprehensive inventory of the user’s belongings. “That’s a particularly valuable feature for collectors,” says Bruno. “You can shoot every single item and create a corresponding digital record of invoices, warranties, serial numbers, care instructions, where you bought it, who the designer is, the provenance.”


Other features organize emergency information, create a master list of the products used in the home, control Nest thermostat temperatures, and book repair services and cleaners from


Read full post

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Oct. 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc. (NASDAQ:WHLR) ("Wheeler" or the "Company"), a fully-integrated, self-managed commercial real estate investment company focused on acquiring and managing income-producing retail properties with a primary focus on grocery-anchored centers, announced today it has sold three single-tenant retail properties to Ladder Capital (NASDAQ:LADR) ("Ladder"), a leading commercial real estate finance company.


The three free-standing properties, Harps, Jenks Reasor's, and Bixby Commons, were sold under separate contracts for a combined price of $28.2 million at a weighted-average capitalization rate of 7.26% based on a net operating income for the trailing twelve months. The Company originally acquired the properties for $26.6 million which equated to a weighted-average capitalization rate of 7.70%.


Jon S. Wheeler, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "The sale of these three freestanding properties reflects the execution of our strategy to remain focused on acquiring multi-tenant properties, monetize non-core assets and use proceeds to re-invest in our specialized markets. Acquired just over two years ago, we believe that the market for such properties are favorable and plan to generate strong returns for our shareholders once the proceeds are re-invested."


The properties are located in Tulsa and Delaware Counties, Oklahoma and total approximately 187,705 gross leasable square feet. The assets were listed for sale as the Company streamlines its acquisition focus onto multi-tenant retail properties. The Company intends to reinvest proceeds from the sale into assets best aligned with its business model.


About Ladder Capital

Ladder is an internally-managed real estate investment trust that is a leader in commercial real estate finance. Ladder originates and invests in a diverse portfolio of commercial real estate and real estate-related assets, focusing on senior secured assets. Ladder's investment activities include: (i) direct origination of commercial real estate first mortgage loans; (ii) investments in investment grade securities secured by first mortgage loans on commercial real estate; and (iii) investments in net leased and other commercial real estate. Founded in 2008, Ladder is run by a highly experienced management team with extensive expertise in all aspects of the commercial real estate industry, including origination, credit, underwriting, structuring, capital markets and asset management. Led by Brian Harris, the Company's Chief Executive Officer, Ladder is headquartered in New York City and has branches in Boca Raton, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

About Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc.


Headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc. is a fully-integrated, self-managed commercial real estate investment company focused on acquiring and managing income-producing retail properties with a primary focus on grocery-anchored centers. Wheeler's portfolio contains well-located, potentially dominant retail properties in secondary and tertiary markets that generate attractive risk-adjusted returns, with a particular emphasis on grocery-anchored retail centers.

Additional information about Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc. can be found at the Company's corporate website:


Forward-looking Statement

This press release may contain "forward-looking" statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When the Company uses words such as "may," "will," "intend," "should," "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "project," "estimate" or similar expressions that do not relate solely to historical matters, it is making forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results to differ materially from the Company's expectations discussed in the forward-looking statements. Specifically, the Company's statements regarding the market for freestanding properties and ability to reinvest the proceeds and generate returns for investors are forward-looking statements. There are a number of important factors that could cause the Company's operations to differ from those indicated by such forward-looking statements, including, among other factors, local conditions such as oversupply of space or a reduction in demand for real estate in the area; competition from other available space; dependence on rental income from real property; the loss of, significant downsizing of or bankruptcy of a major tenant; constructing properties or expansions that produce a desired yield on investment; the Company's ability to renew or enter into new leases at favorable rates; its ability to buy or sell assets on commercially reasonable terms; its ability to complete acquisitions or dispositions of assets under contract; its ability to secure equity or debt financing on commercially acceptable terms or at all; the Company's ability to enter into definitive agreements with regard to its financing and joint venture arrangements or its failure to satisfy conditions to the completion of these arrangements and the success of its capital recycling strategy. Additional factors are discussed in the Company's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which are available for review at The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly revise these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that arise after the date hereof.

Read full post

NEW DELHI: Times Network has launched India's first real estate and property business television channel, Magicbricks NOW, which will start broadcasting on November 1, 2015. "I hope Magicbricks NOW will do the required magic for the sector...bricks are always required to construct houses, and housing is the most important aspect of anybody's life," said housing and urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu at the launch of the new channel.


The minister said the government is planning to introduce the long-pending Real Estate Regulation and Development Bill, and is trying to simplify the bottleneck of project approvals for real estate developers. "We are in talks with CREDAI, NAREDCO and officials to chalk out a mechanism to fasten the approval process," he said.


MK Anand, managing director and chief executive officer of Times Network said Magicbricks NOW has been launched to guide the consumer through the complex and seemingly intimidating world of real-estate transactions.

"While real estate is of paramount importance in the life of every Indian, equally, the space is full of complexities, jargon and confusion. Magicbricks NOW will provide unbiased, trustworthy and the most authoritative perspectives on the property business to help the consumer 'be unconfused'," he explained.


The channel plans to target consumers who are looking to buy, sell or rent real estate as well as businesses and service providers like brokers, builders, interior decorators, paint companies and others. The target audience of the 24/7 channel will be NCCS A and B viewers in the 25-37 and 38-50 years age groups.


The marquee programming on the channel would include The Property Guide, The Home Buyer's Guide, Property Hotline, The Interiors Show, The Vastu show, Real Estate Tycoons and, of course, The News, every hour on the hour.

Sudhir Pai, chief executive officer of said, "Our endeavour has always been to make our brand ubiquitous across media so as to provide consumers with rich and in-depth information when it comes to matters of property. With this launch, we strengthen the offering and make ourselves available at every touch point to consumers."


Times Network is the television broadcast arm of Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL), the publisher of this paper.


Read full post

MUMBAI | NEW DELHI: Stuck investments and low returns in India's realty sector are acting as deterrent for investments from ultra-high networth individuals (HNIs), who are now making a beeline for the country's startup space, where rapid growth promises to offset losses.


Take the case of Amit Maheshwari, for instance. Maheshwari, partner at audit firm Ashok Maheshwary & Associates, like many other investors had substantial exposure to real estate, but with price of his properties remaining stuck in low gear, he has now turned his attention to startups.
"Most HNIs have a skewed exposure to real estate, which is changing very fast due to lower returns in the sector and booming returns in the startup space. However, investments in the startups are also driven sometimes by the vanity attached to the angel investors these days, rather than just pure economics," said Maheshwari, who has invested in two startups in the last few months.



Several hundred startups including Zophop,,, and have seen investments from angel investors in the last one year.

A recent ETpoll of 100 randomly selected CXOs in India revealed that as many as six in 10 CXOs have invested a portion of their wealth in startups.


"Real estate was the favourite asset class for Indian HNIs. However, due to expected stagnant returns in real estate going forward, not only are HNIs avoiding investing more money into real estate, either directly or through funds, but are also exiting them wherever possible, and now are investing in the upcoming new asset class such as startups, where the amount invested could be as low as Rs 10 lakh and hence the risk can be spread across multiple startups," said Jeenendra Bhandari, partner at tax and audit firm MGB and Co LLP. Bhandari has himself invested in several startups. According to industry trackers, the average investment in a startup is about Rs 1.3 crore, but in many cases where seed-stage funding is involved, it could be as less as Rs 10 lakh. This is many because HNIs are also coming together for investment in startups. Many HNIs are creating SPVs or funding vehicles which buy stake in startups against part moneypart advisory kind of services. Both Maheshwari and Bhandari have invested in startups through investment vehicles.

Industry trackers said that while earlier an investment in a good residential project would double in three to four years, that hasn't been the case for the last few years. The days of 20% yearon-year returns, or in some cases abnormal returns for investors, are gone.

Sandeep Madan, a New Delhibased HNI who has been investing in property, said his investment in real estate has reduced but money will always seek better opportunities. He has put his bet on two startups in the ecommerce segment, but not the plain vanilla variety. "These are two businesses that are trying to take offline businesses online. For me, putting my money where I can add value is a better option," Madan said.

According to him, there are several large investors who are put ting money on multiple startups, but many of them are doing it blindly. "That probably happens because of lack of time," he said.


Even in the real estate market, Madan said, there are plenty of opportunities today for people who are ready to look for them. "You need to cherry pick, but the picking needs to be very careful with strong due diligence," he said. While investment in a startup may be a punt, for many it is not just about returns. Some angel investors are also attracted to the sector due to the vanity and the media attention an investment attracts, said an angel investor.

The philosophy of a typical angel investor is to invest small amounts in a large and diverse number of startups. Angel investing involves high risk and less returns, said industry trackers.

While some HNIs are investing the additional money in picking up stakes in startups, others are going a step ahead and exiting from real estate private equity funds and selling property to fund startups. These new-age HNIs are also investing in startups outside India.

Anckur Srivasttava, chairman of GenReal Property Advisers in Gurgaon, said he has looked at a few startup investing opportunities in recent months. His incremental investments in real estate, though, have reduced as his previous investments have become illiquid. "The churning of money has stopped," he said.

Srivasttava points out that returns in real estate haven't really come down but the timeline for these returns have stretched. Also, with many investors unable to exit their older investments because of the slow market, real estate as an asset class is not looking as great. "But smart investors are still investing in the asset class," he said.

A CEO of the real estate fund said he has invested in three startups so far, with an average investment of about Rs 25 lakh. "The amount I am investing in real estate has reduced because of my older investments being stuck and startup is emerging as a new opportunity," he said. "In a nutshell, today no one wants to invest in real estate and everyone wants to invest in startups. That was not the case three years back."

Read full post

VANCOUVER -- The Bentall Centre, with its four distinctive office towers and mall, is being put up for sale by its majority owner, Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc.

The offering, which has not yet been listed but was confirmed Wednesday by Ivanhoé Cambridge, will likely be one of the largest transactions in the Vancouver’s history, according to observers.

The buildings, built between 1969 and 1981 and located between Burrard and Thurlow and Dunsmuir and Pender streets, have long been the epicentre of Vancouver’s central business district; the towers at Bentall 1,2,3 and 4, ranging from 21 to 35 storeys, house many of British Columbia’s established businesses and law offices.

The sale will attract interest from major investors around the world, said Arthur Lloyd, Ivanhoé Cambridge’s executive vice-president of office for North America.

“We believe there is appetite from global institutional investors seeking stable returns in core assets such as Bentall Centre,” he said in a statement.

Ivanhoé Cambridge spokesman Sébastien Théberge confirmed the company was selling the Bentall Centre but declined to comment on the specifics or details.

The four buildings contain nearly 1.5 million square feet of office space, along with 53,000 square feet of retail space underground. The complex is co-owned by Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc. and Great West Life Assurance, one of the original investors in the project.
How the sale will be arranged given the shared ownership is unclear, but such co-operative ownerships usually have buy-sell clauses that require one partner to first offer to the other partners. In this case Great West Life owns 40 per cent each of Bentall 1,2 and 3, and 25 per cent of Bentall 4, according to real estate experts with knowledge of the arrangement.

Calls for comment to GWL Realty Advisors, Great West Life’s real estate arm, were not returned.
The news surprised both the city and commercial real estate agents, who say the property is “irreplaceable” and is coming on the market at a strategic time.

“This is a big deal in a market that has been constrained for offerings like this,” said Kirk Kuester, the executive managing director of Colliers International. Kuester’s company isn’t involved in the listing but he agreed to discuss the impact of Ivanhoé Cambridge’s decision.

“We are in a market that is absolutely devoid of product in general, let alone trophy real estate, irreplaceable real estate, such as this. I mean you just don’t replace this kind of real estate,” Kuester said. “We continue to field inquiries from domestic, Canadian, foreign and international investors looking to acquire this kind of real estate and it just isn’t available.”

Vancouver’s Class A downtown business real estate is largely controlled by “less than half a dozen major institutional investors,” he said. “They are all looking to expand their holdings because economies of scale are ever so important when you own this kind of real estate.”

That demand, he said, will put the Bentall Centre sale off the charts.
“What is more relevant is that it will set a record in pricing — there is no doubt about it. We are at a point in time today where valuations are at all-time highs and supply is at an all-time low and liquidity is at an all-time high,” he said. “There is a massive, massive amount of liquidity in the capital market looking for these kinds of opportunities, which don’t exist.”

Kuester said he couldn’t estimate the total value of the offering.
However, by comparison, in 2009 German investment firm Deka Immobilien Investment GmbH bought the newer Bentall 5 building from a Quebec pension fund for $297 million. Three years later Deka sold it for $400 million to several Canadian pension funds whose investments are managed by Bentall Kennedy, a firm once related to the Bentall family, which built the original four buildings.

That sale in 2012 equated to about $686 per square foot, according to real estate reports. At that rate, Bentall Centre’s 1.53 million square feet would be worth just over $1 billion.
The Bentall Centre includes potential development of a fifth tower. Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s retiring chief planner, said there is unused development potential on the block that would allow a tall tower with a small floor plate.
Jackson was unaware that Ivanhoé Cambridge had decided to sell the block but he noted it is a significant development in the city’s business district.

“It is an enormous component of the downtown office supply and therefore maintaining part of that is very important,” Jackson said. “There is an opportunity for an office tower like the new Oxford tower, with a relatively small floor plate to fit in and among the other towers.”

Quebec-based Ivanhoé Cambridge, which has seen its total holdings jump from $31 billion in 2010 to $48 billion in 2015, has a number of major developments and properties in Metro Vancouver, including the Metrotower buildings in Burnaby and the Oakridge, Metropolis at Metrotown, Guildford Town Centre, Richmond Centre and Mayfair Centre shopping malls. It is also building the new Tsawwassen Mills shopping centre.

Read full post

When planning to sell your home, you want to make it as presentable as it is in order to attract buyers.  While it’s a good idea to hire a home stager in order to make your house look best, the disadvantage is it can cost you a significant amount of money. But the good news is you are able to achieve great results by following some of home stagers’ tricks without having to hire them. Take a look at the following:


Clear it out and clean it up


This one is an automatic protocol. When preparing your home for sale, clear it out and clean it up beforehand. You have to get rid of those clutters and other unnecessary personal items. It will make your property look better than the house down the block.



Another tip is to depersonalize your house. You will havea hard time attracting buyers if it reflects your personal style from floor to ceiling and all over the walls. Try to remove the photos of you and your family so that prospective buyers are able to picture themselves out in your house.


Update your bathroom

A bathroom renovation prior to selling may involve a considerable amount of money. But you can do smal but smart changes that can make a big difference in your house. For example, if you wantto change a dated tile, you can do so by painting it. Coat the tiles with a high-adhesion primer first. Then, brush it on with a special ceramic epoxy covering. This is a much cheaper alternative compared to buying a new one.


Pay attention to design details

After decluttering unncessary items, try to create simple yet elegant designs. Try to remember the basic of designs like groupings of odd numbers always do the trick.


Pay attention to odors

This is one factor that may not be obvious to you as you might already get used to your environment. Have a trusted friend for example to do a walkthrough in your house and give you an honest assessment like how it smells. Some of the things that might want to take a look at is your carpets and upholstered pieces.


Consider landscaping

As you are presenting your house to potential buyers, you are also making a great first impression. With this, don’t forget that the facade is the first part of your house that anyone will see. Try to consider having a little landscaping and putting potted plants around the front door for a welcome charm to your entryway.

Read full post

When putting your home on the real estate market, you should make the majority of its potential. You can do some changes to make it more appealing to potential buyers. However, decorating your home can be an overwhelming task since you have endless options to choose from. One of the most important aspects that you should not overlook is the choice of colour in your house. In this article, we will discuss some tips regarding the appropriate use of colour and paint before you put your house on the real estate market:


The choice of paint colour matters a lot. The effects of colour are subtle and significant, as well as physical and psychological. Wherever we go, we respond to colour. Thus, we can’t underestimate the importance of colour. In our case, it is putting our home in a real estate market.





It helps attract potential buyers if the interior of your house has calm and bright colour. It has to be appealing while being subtle. One’s colour preference depends mainly on personal taste. However, try to use a neutral colour scheme for a safer choice as it is the ultimate way to go when preparing your home for a purchase.




The right use of paint can also perk up a dull and lackluster home interior. With the appropriate paint, you are able to hide the defects of the walls and roof of your house. The imperfections in the general appearance of your property can also be corrected with the right paint. Choosing the right wall colour can make larger spaces more attractive, while it gives the space a sense of warmth.


If you want to de-personalize the interior of your home and make it more appealing to buyers, use a white paint throughout your home. In this way, potential buyers can also better visualize their particular choice of colour palette, fabrics and furniture. 

Read full post

Now that the summer is fading out, the introduction of the fall season might automatically make us think of boots, sweaters and snowball fights. But as we prepare for the snowfall, we must not overlook some important things that we should do to our home. Here are the following:


Air leaks throughout house

Air leaks are one of the main causes for energy loss in a home, and that would incur more costs. Thus, it is important to check and eliminate these issues in your home. Have a detailed visual inspection of your home, both on the interior and the exterior. Try to spot for those areas where the old caulking has failed. These would reveal the gap between the window or door frame as well as your home's siding. After discovering the air leaks in your home, it’s time to seal them up.


Check your roofing

Check for any damage or issues in your roofs. Do it before the winter comes and brings snow with it. You may call your insurance company for a free visit to come and check its condition.





Check your filters throughout your house to ensure that they are clean. It is even recommended that the filters in your home should be changed either once a month or once every three months. Try to check the product information of your filters. There, it has the manufacturer's suggested frequency of change.


Smoke detectors

With regards to your smoke detectors, check the batteries if it needs to be changed. It is also important to clean out your dryer vent in order to clear any build up of lint as this may cause fire.



The fireplace is also a very important part of your house especially during the winter. Safety should be the priority here. Thus, inspect this area thoroughly. For instance, if you have wood-burning fireplaces, it needs to be cleaned due to the potential buildup of soot and creosote. Also check the gas fireplaces for debris. The chimney structure should be secure with no cracks or crumbling mortar joints.


Read full post

In real estate industry, there are a lot of different players. However, the real movers and shakers are those people that constantly move between and communicate with these players. One of these movers are the agents. Real estate agents can be defined as salespeople and other licensees who need to work for and under the umbrella of a designated broker.


In legal terms, the word ‘agent’ can be referred to the strictly defined relationship between a real estate salesperson and the buyers and sellers with whom he or she is conducting the business. Being an agentyou are there to assist people through the process of buying, selling and renting land, homes or any other property. Real estate agents have a long list of responsibilities. They should also meet licensing requirements and have a comprehensive understanding of real estate laws.



In this article, we will discuss some considerations to help you fulfill your responsibilities as an agent, while at the same time advancing your career as a real estate agent.

Sphere of Influence
Having a real estate sphere of influence (SOI) business model is one way to build contacts and generate leads. It is a networking strategy that focuses on generating real estate leads through the people you already know. These may include your family, friends, classmates, business associates, etc. Keep track of all the names and contact information in one place like a spreadsheet program. With more people on your list, you’ll have better chances for a referral.



Developing a Professional Image

It is vital to your success as a real estate agent. Your image can be projected on your appearance, face-to-face meetings, marketing and advertising materials, phone calls, web presence, and written communications. Keep in mind also that any presence you have on the internet including your business and personal life will lasts forever. It can also find its way to your potential clients. Thus, try to work toward your professional image both in and out of your real estate career.



Utilizing Tools and Technology
On the other hand, yo must also make use of tools and technology. These will help you organize and promote your real estate business. Some of the tools you can use are contact management tools, agent websites, marketing tools, and apps.

Read full post

You might think that having a small backyard has limited options in terms of what you can add to them. But in fact, there are several ways to decorate it. You can try some landscaping options in order to transform it into a beautiful spot with that feeling of an open ambiance. Consider the following ideas:


Try to install a deck

This is a quick and efficient way to add something to a small backyard. Given the small size of the area, it will also cost you less. You may opt for two levels. For instance, you can one for dining and another one for plants. With this, you are able to separate the yard from another type of space with less room or space being used.




Opt for smaller furniture

Another tip is to buy smaller furniture for your backyard, especially if you are not planning to hold a large party on that area. You may opt for loveseats and chairs, and a circular table since these will not occupy much space. With smaller furniture, you’ll have more space available for movement and other decor that you may want to put on it. Having an awning over the furniture is also a good idea.


Hang potted plants and boxed gardens

This option is great if you want to enjoy several flowers and shrubs while saving more space. Here, you are optimizing the roofs, walls, and windows of your home. Try to install wooden shelves or hooks in order to hang flower boxes or potted plants.





Keep it simple and clean

Given that you have a small area, try to keep your landscape design simple. Just focus on the essentials of the backyard such as grass, some shrubs and flowers which are being placed properly. For easier management, you may install flower beds and potted plants.


Have a fencing that's visual rather than private

Install a fence that's not private. Rather choose one that is visual such as lattice, picket or chain link. The sunlight may just accent the yard. In terms of materials, choose wood or vinyl in order to add to the natural appearance of the small yard.


Read full post
Moe Pourtaghi

"Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my buyers & sellers have success in their Real Estate endeavours. I hope you find the articles on my blog inspiring and educating in your ventures." - Moe Pourtaghi

Subscribe to receive Market Updates & Tips

The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.