Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Get The Most Out Of Your Next Home Upgrade

Upgrades to the home come pretty far and few in between, so it makes sense that we would want to get the most out of each and every instance. To do this, you need to use your brains and think of where your money would be best spent.

One way to do this is to think about which part of the house gets a lot of use. Kitchens and bathrooms are particular places of interest here. The bedroom gets various amounts of use, and even then it is not used with a lot of activity involved. The living room is usually pretty sedate too. The dining room is used at meal times, and maybe not even then, if you are the type who likes to plop down in front of the TV when having dinner.

Truly, it is the kitchen and the bathroom that get the most active use across different demographics. In addition, these two get a lot of focus from home designers. There are multitudes of choices to pick from and a seemingly infinite number of options available to the home owner.

If you have a pretty loose budget, then you might want to consider getting high-quality eco-friendly upgrades – things like more energy-efficient appliances, tank-less and solar water heaters, half-flush toilets, and so on. These tend to be more expensive than their standard counterparts, though that is a principle that can be overturned quite easily.

Getting solid granite slab countertops, whether for the kitchen or the bathroom, is a good way to go. That way you can get a solid surface to work on, and a visually pleasing one at that. Remember to choose granite slabs and not granite tiles, especially in the kitchen.

Many kitchens are built to include an island, and this is one thing that you might want to revamp. In all likelihood, your kitchen island is not big enough or is at a height that makes it a little difficult to use. Having it adjusted is okay, getting it replaced is better. Make sure that you have enough space for all your kitchen gadgets, with the exception of the oven-stove combo unit.

Your cabinets all throughout the house could use some sprucing up, if not total replacement. The fact is, most basic cabinets are not spacious enough to contain all the stuff that we gather from years spent in the same house. Replacing your cabinets, or even just rearranging the partitions, can give you the storage space you need. Changing the wood used can also change the visual appeal, in addition to improving functionality.

Rearranging your electrical outlets and increasing their number can be very helpful, especially if you are a techie who loves his or her gadgets. At the very least, you won’t have to rely on extension cords and outlet-multiplying power strips!

Still, a home without a heart is just a house. In the same way, you need to listen to your heart as well when deciding what upgrade to get. That way you can be happy with your purchase, whatever it may be!

Susan Felt of The Arizona Republic

Monday, May 03, 2010

Rush Clean Your House In Two Minutes!

It is as if time just planned this one against you. Your house is normally squeaky clean and organized, but for some reason it is now in a sorry state. And right at that moment you receive a phone call that people are coming over in two minutes!

Now whether those are friends, business associates, the prospective buyer of your house, or your in-laws, one thing is for sure, if you do not do something in less than two minutes, then you can kiss goodbye to your good image.

But of course, for every emergency situation, there is an emergency protocol. Just keep in mind these easy to follow guidelines and discover what you can accomplish in merely two minutes time.

Plan Ahead

One way to have better chances of surviving such a predicament is to expect it to happen sooner or later. You can do this by always keeping cleaning materials in one place so you do not have to expire the whole two minutes just looking for them. You might also want to use paper plates instead of china wear to avoid a pile of dirty dishes.

Also, try to condition yourself not to panic when such situations really do come. You will need to think straight to make quick decisions and you cannot do that if you are panicking.

The Illusion Of Clean

OF course, doing a real clean up in only 2 minutes is absurd. So what you are really going to do here is to make an illusion of clean. Here is how to achieve that.

1. Smelling Good – If it smells nice, then it must be clean. So just wipe dirty surfaces with a damp cloth and spray air freshener or perfume. You can also hide halved lemons on corners.

2. Looking Good – If things are arrange properly, they can create the illusion of clean. It only takes a while to line up magazines, books, picture frames, DVD cases, and others.

3. Spot Treatment – You do not have to clean the entire place. Just go from one dirty spot to another and hand pick dirt to save time.

4. Cover Up – It is easy to hide a big pile of mess by keeping only the surface presentable. For example, you can stock up all your laundry in a basket and neatly place a towel or cloth on top.

5. Eliminate – when you failed to replace something like a curtain or the bouquet in a flower vase then just remove them and do not bother about making a replacement.

6. More Light – People usually associate light with cleanliness. So open those windows and let in some natural light. Just make sure the light will not reveal anything uglier.

Do Not Forget Yourself

All those running around the house while fixing things in a rush will definitely take its toll in your appearance. You may have successfully done a quick makeover to your house, but now you look like a mess. So just quickly change into clean clothes. White shirts have the effect of hiding imperfections, and do not forget the perfume and deodorant.

So there you go! With these quick home patch up guides, that mess will be gone in a matter of two minutes. Just keep in mind to do these procedures only when necessary. Try not to make a habit of doing them everyday.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Long-Term or Short-Term Arizona Homes: What’s Your Priority?

People have their own reasons for purchasing their homes, but you can usually boil down these reasons into two main categories: long-term or short-term plans.

If you are looking to own a home for you and your family to live in, then you would definitely want to look at the long-term properties of a home. If you are simply looking for a home to sell or to occupy for a short time, then you would be most interested in the short-term values of a house and lot.

But what exactly is the difference between long-term and short-term plans for real estate?

Long-Term Plans – Maintenance and Management
There are homeowners that buy a house and lot with the full intent of living in it for a very long period of time. Many such homeowners plan to raise a family in these homes, grow old in them, retire and reside in these houses to their dying day.

If this is what you want in your home, then you have to focus on managing and maintaining the house.

If you are unable to buy your home through straight cash, then the least you can do is find a mortgage plan with steady and predictable interest rates. This allows you to better manage your finances to prevent foreclosure; allowing you to make the most of your home without having to sacrifice it.

You also need to be very specific about maintaining the condition of your home. Having it regularly inspected every five or so years will help you spot any structural and internal problems before they become serious. This will allow you to take preemptive measure to protect your home.

Oh, and don’t forget to pay your taxes. Failure to do so will result in the state seizing your property, so make sure that you put aside some extra money during tax season.

Short-Term Plans – Monitoring and Marketing
If you are looking to profit from real estate, then you will want to monitor the prices of properties as well as market your own property. You will need to maximize the profitability of your home, which means cutting down on expenses while selling at the highest possible price.

This is a bit, trickier than long-term planning, but can prove to be lucrative if you know how to work the market.

For starters, you should look for properties that are being sold for less than their actual value. Foreclosures are still plentiful in the current market, so snap those up as soon as you can.

You also need to keep a sharp eye on the price of nearby properties. Most properties in Arizona tend to rise in value over time, but there are some properties that are more valuable than others. Find these properties and invest in them.

One thing you can do to increase the value of is to make it look great. A little d├ęcor, a fresh coat of paint and a new lawn can go a long way in greatly increasing the value of your property. You can even hire professionals to dress up your home if you prefer things that way.

Keep these pointers in mind, and you will be able to reach your goals – whether they are short or long-term ones.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Top 3 Benefits of Luxury Living

Some people scorn living in luxury, but these are the types that can’t afford the life in the first place. The benefits that come with living the high life aren’t to be scoffed at, either. These benefits are real and can significantly affect your private, public and professional lives.

Here are some of the more prominent benefits of luxury living:

Sense of pride and accomplishment
Where you eat, sleep, relax and play is a powerful indicator of what you have done in life. What better way to showcase your own accomplishments than to purchase a high-end home?

Purchasing your own luxury home is one of the most effective ways to reward yourself for your hard work. The accompanying pride that comes with it isn’t too bad, either. Looking at your home after a hard day’s work is a great way to encourage yourself and strive to work harder. Other people that also visit your home will admire it not just because it is beautiful, but because of the work and effort you put into the house. This simple method of self-encouragement is a lot more powerful than most people give it credit for, especially when you lounge back in your den and just relax the night away.

Introduction to higher social circles
Impressing the right people will get you in high places, and owning the right residence is one of the most effective ways to do just that. A classy house on the seven or high six digit scale is definitely an effective way to impress these people.

Holding a dinner, luncheon, party or other social event in your luxurious home will send a powerful message of your financial and social prowess. This might not seem like much to people who do not understand the value of network connections, but you can bet that these connections are as valuable as gold ingots. Getting a favorable impression will open up opportunities that you can use in the future, even if you cannot use them immediately. The important thing here is that you are able to leave a good impression with the house or property you have purchased. This is an important consideration, so keep your properties classy even while you add your own personal touch to the estate.

Top-tier investment in real estate
Owning a luxury home also has tangible financial benefits, especially if you are looking for ways to increase your own wealth.

For starters, property has a tendency to appreciate in value over time. This means that the value of property increases as more and more people are looking for property. You can take advantage of this by buying property, keeping it in good condition for years and then selling it when the price reaches desirable levels. Just be mindful that some properties increase in price faster than other properties, so select properties that could sell for good money in the long run. This also counts for the design of the house, which is why timeless designs make for better investments than contemporary ones.

The New Normal and Your Property’s Value

If you are selling your home in today’s real estate market, then you definitely need to appeal to the needs of the ‘new normal’ buyer.

New normal buyers are focused more on saving money and making the most out of a purchase. This might seem like a difficult position for a real estate seller like you, but it will be surprisingly easier to sell to the new normal crowd if you know how to appeal to their whims.

Here are a few methods for you to do just that:

Package your house as budget-wise
If there is one thing that defines a new normal buyer in real estate, it is pragmatism. New normal clients are looking for homes that are well worth the money put down in them. Luxuries and extra amenities are simply out of the question, especially if the new normal client you are dealing with has been bitten hard by the recession. Present your property in such a way that it addresses these basics without going overboard with luxuries, and it will be a whole lot easier for you to convince a new normal buyer that your home is worth every penny.

Toss a few extras in the deal
New normal clients are not just looking for the cheapest house on the block – they are looking to purchase a home that gives them what they want at minimum cost. Providing a few incentives like federal tax cuts or extra appliances will sweeten the deal; adding value to your home without you actually having to sacrifice the overall costs. Give a new normal client the impression that he or she’s getting something extra in the deal, and it will be easier to justify the higher price in negotiations.

Point out investment potential
Another thing about new normal clients is their desire to both save and make money with their purchases. The value of your property will typically increase over time, especially when the economy fully recovers from the blow it received in recent years. Make sure to point this out while providing numbers to solidify your claim, and the new normal client will find your property a lot more attractive as a long-term investment of good money.

Adopt a strategic stance in negotiations
A strategic stance in negotiations is where you keep yourself open to the deals of the buyer without being too aggressive or passive in the process. List down your essentials, concede on a few deals and seal the deal once you are done. This is not a method to directly raise the value of your property, but it is nonetheless an essential step in persuading a new normal client to part with his or her money.

Remember to keep these tips in mind, and you should be able to raise the value of your property while selling to a new normal crowd. Just don’t be too stiff with your prices if you do not want potential clients backing away and looking for better deals out there.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Luxury Homes: Not Just Another House Around the Block

Some people find it difficult to buy a home, while other people find it difficult to decide what home to buy. If you are part of the latter group, then luxury homes might be just the thing you are looking for.

For starters, luxury real estate is geared towards the upper strata in socio-economic terms. This simply means luxurious homes and properties are designed for those who prefer quality, and these people are those that have the means to reach for that quality. It would not be uncommon to find luxury real estate in the seven or upper six digits, and you can bet that prime pieces of property will be great investments as well.

If you have an eye out for these luxury properties and real estate, then it would be best to keep these tips in mind:

List down what you want in your luxury home.
Whether you want a heated indoor pool or a major entertainment and multimedia center, make sure that you write down a list of what you want before you look for an agent. This will help you prioritize your wants and needs, making it easier for your agent to match them to an existing property.

Find an agent that specializes in luxury real estate.
These upper-end properties are not going to be listed in the papers or on other forms of common advertising. The circle of luxury real estate is quite small, and only a select few high-end agents take on these listings. These high-end agents are also going to be your tickets to inspect luxury properties, since not just anyone is allowed to enter these types of homes.

Leave room for additions and improvements.
Coldwell Banker Real Estate has released a survey indicating that 41 percent of luxury homeowners plan to add on their houses in the near future. It would then be a good idea for you to leave some space for additions and improvements just in case something in the future catches your fancy – like an indoor court or Jacuzzi, for example.

Be prepared to fork over cold, hard cash.
Financing or credit are words not associated with credit, so you will have to show your real estate agent a nice, plump bank account to dip his or her fingers in. You will then have to work on building your own fortune if you want to live in these types of luxury homes. This is the entire reason only those in the upper socio-economic strata of society look for luxury homes.

Oh, and one last thing – bigger need not always be better.
37 percent of luxury homeowners go for homes around 2,400 to 3,999 feet – typically small in size. What matters here is the style of the house and how luxurious the amenities are. You would be surprised how impressive a million-dollar compact home looks like, especially when you walk around the rooms and inspect the additions.

Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be able to find luxury real estate that will leave a big, wide smile on your face the first time you call it your own and step into it.

Multigenerational Homes: The Next Big Thing in Real Estate

Many people have been hit hard by the recession, which continues to batter lives and homes to this day. More and more people are starting to be practical, and multigenerational homes are one of the most practical decisions for families.

What are multigenerational homes? Simply put, they are houses where multiple families can reside in. That means that parent and child, brother and sister, grandparent and grandchild live and work in one residence.

It is often believed that the fiercely independent nature of Americans would scorn these kinds of homes, especially when any sort of dependence is implied within the family. However, a recent study by Coldwell Banker has pointed out an increasing number of multigenerational homes being sold in recent times.

Practicality is the primary driving force behind these types of homes. Money is tight, and people are looking to save money by pooling family resources and purchasing a house that they can all reside in. This significantly cuts down rental and mortgage costs while spreading out the financial strain among multiple families.

Health reasons are also another strong force that pulls people to buy multigenerational homes. Some aging or disabled members of the family find it easier to live near their younger, stronger family members. Assistance is then much easier and more convenient for both parties.

Another less obvious benefit of these multigenerational homes is the strong psycho-social development within the family. Schedules are less hectic thanks to the sharing of household chores. Caring for children and elderly members is made a lot easier due to the close proximity. And finally, families share many bonding activities with each other – something that has slowly been dying away as people move further and further away from family.

So what makes these multigenerational homes so special in the first place?

Truth be told, there is nothing much that separates multigenerational homes from regular homes. Some houses only need an extra bedroom to be called multigenerational, where more than two families share everything else from the toilet to the kitchen. Other houses can have larger garages, separate kitchens and multiple toilets to accommodate privacy-oriented families.

This brings us to the other side of multigenerational homes.

The first thing people consider is their comfort in sharing space, utilities and other essentials with other family members. Some people find no problem with this while others cannot tolerate having their lives under constant scrutiny.

Another consideration is the sharing of household responsibilities. The question of how the dishes or the laundry will be done can be a very serious when you’re living with other people. A written contract may sound extreme, but it extremely useful in this situation, especially if you want to avoid slacking in the chores around the house.

If these considerations are not a problem for you, then a multigenerational home may just help you out here. You’ll be able to save money, help each other out and develop deeper family bonds while you’re at it. Just remember to iron out the details of who gets to use the toilet first in the morning, and you’ll have one less problem to worry about!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hey Big Spender!

Interesting article in the New York Times on the growing luxury concierge business. Affluent clients are turning to concierges for convenience (of course) and also to help ensure they are getting good value for their money spent. It goes on to say 'The economic downturn has not stopped the word's wealthiest from spending, but it may have made them focus more on value. And as the market gets more crowed with luxury brands, products and services, the rich are increasingly turning to concierge companies for information, recommendations, and what they hope will be better deals, because of partnerships with luxury suppliers the world over.....
Perhaps less obvious, some of the newly affluent are turning to concierges for their knowledge of luxury products, services, and culture, knowledge which the client may lack. Interesting...

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Waterfront in Scottsdale Gives a Sophisticated Riverfront to the Desert
That there is a Scottsdale Waterfront may comes as a surprise.
After all, Scottsdale is smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert - a landscape known more for cactus than for rivers.
However, long before the glitzy resorts, golf courses and spas, the area's first inhabitants - the Hohokam people - engineered miles of canals across the Phoenix valley between the years 500 to 1450 AD.
These canals diverted water from the nearby Salt River to the Hohokam's many farm fields.
Archaeologists consider this ancient canal network to be one of the largest and most sophisticated irrigation systems ever created by using pre-industrial technology.
Centuries later, when European settlers moved into the area, they used the Hohokam's long-abandoned but still-standing canals for their own crops.
Nowadays, the Phoenix valley's water district - the Salt River Project - has cemented many of the Hohokam canals and uses them to deliver water across the region.
For years, the Arizona Canal, which runs through downtown Scottsdale, was a dull eyesore and a dumping ground for all manner of unwanted items.
Today, $700 million later, the stretch of Arizona Canal between Goldwater Boulevard and Scottsdale Road has been transformed from an ugly duckling into a glamorous - and hip - swan.
Now known as the Scottsdale Waterfront, the canal is sleek, with a higher water level and schools of fish, carefully landscaped banks and sinuous pink sidewalks.
The new waterfront is as much for residents as it is for tourists.
While it's not the French Riviera - or even San Antonio's River Walk - locals have taken to the Scottsdale Waterfront the way desert dwellers take to any water feature in a dry land - with enthusiasm and affection.
You can't miss the signature feature of the waterfront - the two 13-story, $250 million luxury Scottsdale Waterfront condos.
City leaders and retailers hope the condos will encourage 24-hour occupancy and use of downtown Scottsdale.
As if there wasn't enough shopping at Scottsdale Fashion Square, which is right next door to the waterfront, the district has over 1 million square feet of upscale retail space.
Scottsdale Waterfront shopping is a mix of locally-owned shops, and national retailers including the Sur La Table cooking store, Urban Outfitters edgy clothes and Borders Books and Music.
One-of-a-kind boutiques are high-end:
Mahsa carries trendy shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories from designers like Stella McCartney.
Estilo Boutique has chic, flirty dresses and high end jeans.
Twist Boutique features classic women’s fashions by designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg.
Haus has hip decor for the home including mid-century vintage furniture and Jonathan Adler vases.
Swoozie’s is party central with its high-end stationery and party supplies.
When your credit card needs a break from retail therapy, the waterfront offers several trendy and upscale restaurants for a meal or a cocktail.
Olive and Ivy Restaurant and Marketplace is one of the most popular spots, for both dining and just hanging out.
Part of the Sam Fox restaurant empire, Olive and Ivy's canalside outdoor tables are always so filled with locals that it's euphemistically referred to as the "Scottsdale Yacht Club."
While Olive and Ivy hasn't been as popular with food critics, its safe California-Mediterranean-inspired cuisine draws crowds with dishes like Moroccan-style lamb and oven-roasted halibut.
Olive and Ivy's Marketplace is a good spot to pick up gourmet, picnic-ready fare such as flatbread sandwiches, quiches, salads and pastries.
Another popular Scottsdale Waterfront restaurant is Pink Taco.
It's the brainchild of Harry Morton, who got his start as the son of the founder of the Bally's Casino and the Hard Rock Hotel empire.
Pink Taco serves Mexican style food in a casual, nightclub party atmosphere.
The Pink Taco has received more attention for its sexually suggestive name that for its food.
However, nachos, tacos, margaritas and a large tequila menu have made it a hit with the young and trendy crowd.
Other Scottsdale Waterfront restaurants include:
PF Chang's China Bistro: this modern and upscale take on Chinese food, started by a local Phoenix entrepreneur, has expanded into a national chain. The menu features updated takes on Chinese chicken salad, Mongolian beef and wild Alaskan salmon steamed with ginger.
Sauce Scottsdale Waterfront: another successful installment in the Fox Restaurant Concepts empire, Sauce features pizza, pasta and salads in a casual atmosphere. It's less expensive than the other Fox ventures.
Wildfish Seafood Grille: from the creators of Eddie V’s Edgewater Grille and the current proprietors Roaring Fork, this restaurant is a high energy spot serving prime seafood and steaks including lemon sole in a parmesan crust, oysters on the half shell and 22 oz. bone-in Ribeye. So, what if you don't want to shop and you aren't hungry?
The Scottsdale Waterfront is home to the Fiesta Bowl headquarters and museum.
The Fiesta Bowl is a 35-year Phoenix valley college football tradition.
The museum is free and displays memorabilia from Fiesta Bowl games and festivals.
Interactive kiosks help you relive memorable game moments.
And if that still doesn’t interest you, the waterfront in Scottsdale is just a pleasant place to take a stroll with its neatly landscaped open space, public art and fountains.
The pedestrian-only bridge crosses the canal to the new Southbridge district.
Beyond, the shops, art galleries and restaurants of Downtown Scottsdale's eclectic districts are waiting for you to explore.

Fast Facts: The Scottsdale Waterfront, Scottsdale AZ
Location: The waterfront in Scottsdale is in downtown, just southwest of the intersection of Camelback and Scottsdale roads and south of Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. The district stretches from Scottsdale Road to Goldwater Boulevard.