Creating the Perfect Guest Room

download (85)As premier tourist destinations, several towns offer top-class recreational activities all year round. From swimming, boating, fishing and waterskiing in the summer to skating and cross-country skiing in the winter, the serene waters and surrounding rural environment mean there is always something for visitors to do.

For those who have bought property in the towns and enjoy lakefront living, the local amenities may take on a further significance.

As the number of reasons to visit increases, there’s a fine chance that the number of people who wish to do so will too. Whether friends or family, hosting guests is a pleasure that many people enjoy. The main stumbling block for most is knowing where to put them.

To be able to share the joy of lakefront living with as much company as possible, a thoughtfully designed and fully-equipped guest room is ideal.

Laying out the layout

Keeping the guest space separate to the homeowner space is essential in maintaining a harmonious home. This means, if possible, providing your guests with all the amenities they need in a self-contained guest room.

For those with space enough to do so, providing a lounge area to relax, read or watch TV is a good idea. Smart use of an oversized chair can make a partition between the lounge and sleeping area should children wish to rise early or parents choose to stay up later.

As a space saving exercise, it’s also worth remembering that most short term guests won’t bring many clothes; especially those who have come to enjoy summertime lakefront living. Closets can be eschewed in favour of more floor space for luggage, fold-out beds, and anything else your guests may find more useful than a redundant empty wardrobe.

Break up the bathroom

Although there may be numerous guests sharing the one guest room, providing any more than one bathroom will be in most cases impractical. However, that’s not to say a few design features can’t make things more convenient for those who have come to experience lakefront living.

Placing a separate sink and mirror outside the bathroom will help multiple guests to freshen up or prepare for bed more quickly while maintaining privacy.

As another measure to keep the guest space separate from the homeowner space, this can reduce the temptation to use other bathrooms throughout the house.

The appliance of convenience

While fitting anything like a full kitchen in a guest room is out of the realm of reality for most families, certain appliances can be added if the space is there.

A small coffee machine and a microwave will help your guests to feed themselves should they wish to, but a mini-fridge would arguably be the most useful addition to those enjoying a taste of lakefront living.

Being able to refrigerate snacks, drinks, baby milk and even medications will cut down massively on trips to the fridge in the main kitchen, which is especially important should the guests’ sleep patterns be out of sync with their hosts’.


America’s Most Haunted Vintage Homes

images (15)According to a “Haunted Housing Report,” 35 percent of homeowners claim they’ve had paranormal experiences in their vintage homes, or in a home that they have previously owned. While an individual’s perception of what is “haunted” is subjective, that percentage might be just high enough to cause you to think twice about that noise you heard in the basement yesterday.

Certain factors increase the likelihood of homeowners experiencing paranormal activity in their new vintage homes. These may include whether a house is located on or near cemetery property; if the property is over 100 years old; if there were numerous transitions between owners; and whether the house is built near a battleground or other area where multiple deaths occurred, thus creating negative energy.

Joshua Ward House, Salem, Mass.

The name “Salem” conjures up images of witch hunts and accusations. These are what took place in this vintage home. The brick mansion was built for Joshua Ward in the 1780s; however, the home’s previous owner, Sheriff George Corwin, also known as “the Strangler,” killed many women accused of witchcraft. Their souls are said to sulk through the corridors of the home.

Farnsworth House, Gettysburg, Pa.

The famous Civil War battle at Gettysburg was one of history’s bloodiest combats. The Farnsworth home was dedicated to Confederate sharpshooters and acquired at least 100 bullet holes over the course of the war. The home is rumored to still house deceased souls of misery-ridden Confederates.

The house is still in use today as a bed and breakfast. Visitors claim there is a spiritual presence in the house that isn’t quite alarming, but still noticeable.

LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans

If you’ve watched American Horror Story, you’ll recognize the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans as the same mansion depicted in the show. Located in the city’s French Quarter, the mansion was where the family of Dr. Louis Delphine LaLaurie resided in 1832. They were an affluent family with a dark secret-Madame Delphine tortured slaves in the attic. Supposedly, the souls of the deceased slaves still torment the home.

Visitors are continuously attracted to the spooky home and reputation of Madame LaLaurie.

Villisca Ax Murder House

The final house contains a tragic history similar to the tortures that took place in the LaLaurie Mansion. In 1912, six children and two adults were murdered with an ax wound to the skull. The Moore family’s death was never solved, and little evidence was found to determine who murdered them. Reports by people who have spent time in the house claim that there are sounds of children crying, ladders moving, and doors opening and slamming shut all on their own.

It is clear that these homes are filled with rich history. Those with an interest in the dark arts or haunted abodes will likely find great pleasure in continuing to research these vintage homes and their murky histories. Others may need more convincing.

Real Estate Trends – The Most Popular Home Styles

download (83)Year after year, trends change in what the most popular home styles are. In the early 20th century, small homes that looked like little pill boxes dominated many American cities, while mid-century developers used ranch homes predominantly. So what are the current trends in home styles today? Read on to learn more.

Craftsman homes are still the most popular design in home styles, and have been for a long time. They are well laid-out homes with reliable designs inside. The homes tend to be a bit boxy, but they are classically styled and often feature a fine porch to relax on. Eaves are deeply overhanging for increased shelter from the sun – and the rain. You will find Craftsmans throughout the country and they allow for great air flow from room to room wherever you are. They often feature a mix of materials like stone and wood and cherish the work that goes into building them – hence the craftsman name.

Traditional homes are the most common in snowier areas like the Rocky Mountain west, the Midwest, and the Northeast. They look a lot like the homes built in the colonial period by European immigrants. They have a specific floor plan and a particular layout of windows. You will often have two windows next to the door, one on each side, and the upper floor has five front facing windows, with one immediately above the door.

Second, and sometimes third, floors will feature dormers. Kids love those as play areas, and parents like to set up their home offices in these niches. They often have big porches and lots of details like shutters and trim.

Out west you’ll find ranch styles, particularly in the Southwest. Ranches were set up to be on true cattle ranches in the west, but they became popular all over. Ranch homes are single-story dwellings, which makes them great for families with small children or elderly parents. They can be small, 1,100 square feet, or they can be huge rambling homes that cover over 2,000 square feet. Current developers don’t often use ranch styles as much any more, but they certainly hold a place in many people’s hearts.

Then there are the grand homes of the European style. Think of the big houses of France and Germany, with the stone work and high walls trimmed by large wood beams. Floors are often made of stone or marble, and metallic trims are common.

Farming is not as common anymore as it used to be, but farmhouse style homes are as popular as ever. The house plan is usually a simple rectangle with perhaps a sunroom or a porch on either end. Windows are tall and narrow allowing for gentle breezes to cool the home naturally. Siding is almost always done in wood, while the roof is made of either wood, composite, or metal.

Whatever style you like best will often be the one that speaks to you. Not every home style is meant for everyone, which is why there are so many out there. One of the ways to find the one you love is to look through architecture books and design magazines. Part of the joy in finding the home you love is the process, so have fun dreaming!


The Myths and Truths Regarding the Colombian Real Estate Bubble

images (14)As an increasingly bigger number of visitors, investors and business people arrive in Colombia and see the all of the countless new constructions happening all over the place, one of the first questions everyone asks is, “is there overbuilding in Colombia? Is there way too much inventory? Is the real estate market overvalued? Could this be a real estate bubble?” The answer to all of the above is no (or, more precisely, not yet).

Colombia has had many beneficial international publicity since 2007, five years after former president Alvaro Uribe’s administration, who went to great lengths to ensure urban safety concerns that had been that bane of Colombia’s existence during the 80’s and the 90’s.

As a matter of fact, since 2002, real estate prices soared everywhere in the nation. Just that year alone they jumped up to 20 or 25%. From 2003 to 2007 many regions in Colombia saw annual gains along the lines of 10 to 15%. During the global recession, during which many countries from the western world were experiencing real estate prices sinking at the tune of 30 to 50%, Colombia basically remained status quo. Part of Colombia’s coming out relatively unscathed was due to the fact that it had been hiding from international economy for so many years.

In Medellin, for example, there was basically a side market from 2007 to 2009. Sales stayed normal for a bit and did not really move upwards or downwards at this point. But then 2010 saw a price spike of 5.8% followed by 6.2% in 2011 and 5.9 in 2012. This is by no means an occurrence exclusive to Medellin.

So is there an impending real estate bubble?

This is one of the questions that people ask the most around Medellin, since there is a lot of pre-construction high rise development right now, everywhere in the city, particularly in Medellin’s version of Beverly Hills, El Poblado. More often than not, people visiting ask “how is it possible to continue building up this inventory? It can´t possibly sustain itself so prices have to collapse”.

Here are some of the reasons why many experts believe that not only is there no bubble in Colombia, but that right now is the absolute best time to buy real estate, especially in Medellin:

· Real estate bubbles have a number of characteristics some measured by numerous financial indicators such as price to income ratio, affordability index, deposit to income, housing debt to income, etc. For Medellin, and I feel many parts of Colombia, we are seeing a reduction in poverty levels and an emerging middle class. Thus more people can afford homes and demand is going up.

· Plus wages are pegged to the annual inflation rate which from 2002-2008 ranged from 4-8% and from 2009-2012 ranged from 3-4%. Thus more than 50% of each year’s price increases in real estate are offset by higher annual wages that are pegged to the national inflation rate. So there are no signs of runaway price increases by this measure.

· The five characteristics of a real estate bubble are displacement, boom, euphoria, profit taking and panic. Colombia is just now moving into the boom phase. It has many phases left to go before the bubble occurs.

. And again the “wild card” – what happens when the world wakes up and learns the truth about this great country and why it is wise to invest here and own assets denominated in Colombian pesos and not declining U.S. dollars?

Some experts, based on the reasons above and many others, believe that the “impending Colombian bubble of doom” is nonsense. Demand for real estate that surpasses the ability for inventories to meet the demand actually seems likely to grow, given that the country has a strong emerging economy, a top-performing stock market, Foreign Direct Investment growing to the tune of 20 to 30%, exporting gold, silver, oil, gas, coal, hydro-electrical power and important agricultural commodities, an yearly GDP increase of 4-6%, a low inflation rate and an expanding middle class.


Pune Is An Ideal City For Owning Your Luxury Home

download (82)Reasons behind Pune’s transformation into a luxury real estate delight

Pune referred as the “Oxford of the East”, is one of the top cities in the country to live in. It is also called the Cultural Capital of India as it is home to people of different values, who bring in a lot of cultural diversity. Pune is located in the western end of the Deccan plateau, hence called the “Deccan Queen”. It is also known for its beautiful weather, which ranges between 15-35 degrees throughout the year. Pune is also one of the fastest growing cities in India, not only in terms of development, but also as a tourist destination and educational hub.

Pune is no longer just a Pensioner’s Paradise; three factors defining the city’s increased demand in the real estate segment in recent times are – The growth of Information Technology, the massive spread of organized retail in the city’s ever changing demographics and the rapid growth of its industrial sector. In the recent years, Pune has observed defence, manufacturing and many other crucial sectors making it their headquarters, transforming it into a major business centre. Considered as one of the greenest cities of India, Pune has more than 40% of its area covered by greenery. With every passing day the face of Pune is changing and the infrastructure challenges are also increasing. Due to the increased number of upcoming projects and developments taking place in the city, Pune’s population is also rising.

Another significant change noticed is the demand for homes has shifted from basic towards luxury properties. With the presence of the IT & manufacturing sectors paying large salaries in Pune, aspirations of home buyers to lead a good life have also increased. Now many Puneites are expressing their desire for open spaces, independent homes and luxury penthouses & villas rather than pocket-friendly smaller units. To cater to these demands, Pune developers are also evolving and offering you a niche product based on a strong foundation of design & innovation.

Locations just right for Luxury Homes in Pune

Luxury homes are in high demand at present and many renowned developers across the city are offering you a wide selection of exclusive luxury homes in Pune’s most sought after locations like Koregaon Park, Boat Club Road, Bhosale Nagar, Magarpatta, NIBM Road, Kharadi, Wagholi, Balewadi, Bavdan and Baner. These apartments, penthouses and Villas redefine the way luxury is perceived and offer residents’ a better and fuller living lifestyle. Home Automation, Plunge pools on private terraces and private spas, gyms and home theatres in your apartment are some creature comforts offered to the discerning few. Thus, many developers in Pune are moving towards the luxury segment which caters to the urban demand of the city. The city skyline is transforming from small buildings to skyscrapers which will shift Pune into the ‘Developed Cities’ club. Developers in Pune by their unique building designs, landscaping and amenities are attracting residents by providing them with better living opportunities.

Safety Precautions in the Real Estate Market

download (84)Today, more than ever, we are, as a society, more safety conscious than in any other time.

It was not very many years ago, that many people did not lock their doors, and in some cases, left their keys in their cars overnight. Kids could wander neighborhoods, or vacant land, or forests, or just around small towns. The only rule, was that kids had to come in before dark, or when the front porch light flashed. There was a great deal of trust in the world, and danger was something that existed in another country or in very large cities. Even in large cities, the dangers were more along the line of auto accidents, industrial mishaps and the like.

We live in a very different world now and are very watchful at all times for the unknown danger that may be lurking around any corner.

Subdivisions have been designed around safety, i.e. gated communities, homeowner associations, neighborhood parks and pools, etc. Organized sports have taken the place of roaming the countryside for kids. Parents are ever-vigil and accompany most kids everywhere. Recently, news reported that a set of parents were arrested for allowing their kids to wander the neighborhood and walk to school.

Homes, as well, have security systems, that in the past, would have rivaled a commercial building in a bad neighborhood.

Safety Tips for Buyers and Sellers

At each showing, people whom you do not know are coming into your home. You have no idea what intentions, if any, they may have for your possessions.

If you are listing your home, be sure that your Realtor is a member of the local board, installs an electronic lock box on the door, and keep your alarm set. If you have security cameras, be sure they are in working order. You always want to know who is in your home, what they are doing and that your representative is in good standing with the local board. All MLS boards have background checks and fingerprinting of their member agents.

If you feel that you can sell your home by owner, you should be sure that you, too, know who is coming in your home and if they are really looking for a home or just curious. Never show your home to a stranger alone. Always have someone there with you in case there is a real problem. This advice is for Realtors, as well as sellers: When showing your home, never walk in front of a prospective buyer-you really do not know the real intent until you get to know them. Always walk behind them, allowing them to see the rooms, keeping an escape option, just in case you need it. This may seem paranoiac, but all it takes is one time to convince you that your safety is first and foremost.

Protect Your Belongings

As a Realtor, I have seen expensive watches laying on dressers, prescription drugs left out on counters, and in one case, a diamond ring sitting on the kitchen counter. We want to believe that everyone is just there to see our home, but it takes just a second for items such as that to be slipped into a pocket. A good practice is to put all jewelry, regardless of its value and medicine of any kind out of sight at all times. It may be a pain, but in the long run, you will still own the items when you sell your home.

Protect Your Kids

In a society that A little bit of warning for parents of young kids. We teach our kids that there are those in the cyber world that could do you harm.

When listing a home for sale I ask the parents to take down plaques with kids names in them. MLS is public and anyone can see the pictures, worldwide–they have your address.

Facebook and other social media is no different. Pictures of kids in their rooms with their names on the wall, visible to all, can be dangerous. It is very easy to look at a Facebook name, location, look up address in tax record, and armed with a kid’s name—well you get the picture.

I love kid’s pictures too but when they are coupled with their names, it could be disastrous.

The Internet, though a powerful tool for all of us, is also a powerful tool for those who are up to no good.

Good sense should always prevail. Caution should be the first and foremost thought when posting kids pictures.

Protect Yourself

Buyers like to wander new subdivisions and pop into homes that may be in the last stages of construction. Be careful from entering vacant buildings of any kind, especially at night. New subdivisions, with few new residents, can be a haven for those who are up to illegal activity and you would certainly not want to be in the position of surprising someone that could hurt you.

Always tour homes with your Realtor! If you want to look at a FSBO, take your Realtor! Not only can they do a great negotiation job, but an additional person creates a safe environment.

3 Ways to Keep Your House Ghost-Free

images (13)When it comes to moving, it’s understandable to feel a bit spooked. New homes can make people uncomfortable for a number of reasons; sure, it’s exciting to get a new start-but it’s also overwhelming. Being in an unfamiliar place can make you feel anxious; everything is in boxes, nothing is where it should be, and the hallway light won’t stop flickering no matter how many times you change the bulb. Fortunately, these three easy tips will help you keep your house free from ghosts and bad energy. Don’t believe in all that stuff? Well, why not do something to ease the post-move jitters anyway? It can’t hurt!

1. Death Disclosure

Some folks aren’t bothered by the fact that someone may have died in their new house. In fact, if you’re purchasing a historic home, it may be almost unavoidable. For the more sensitive souls among us, though, this can be a deal breaker. Laws about death disclosure vary state by state-for example, in California a seller must tell you of any death that has taken place in the house in the past three years, while in South Dakota only suicides and murders must be disclosed. If you’re looking to avoid the body count altogether, it might be best to look at building your own place through a company who specializes in entirely new homes.

2. Cleanse the Space

Whether you’re moving into an older building or scoping out new homes, cleansing your abode will give you a sense of comfort and security. Bad energy can lurk anywhere, even if there haven’t been any deaths on the property, so if you’ve just moved in, it’s time to whip out the sage and commune with your inner hippy. There are plenty of cleansing rituals available on the Internet, but the main idea is to open all the doors and windows in your house and burn a tightly packed bundle of sage (also known as a smudge stick) while repeating a prayer or chant of protection. This will ward off any bad juju, as well as help you claim the space as your own.

3. Bless This Mess

If researching violent deaths and burning weird herbs isn’t your speed, why not turn to your faith? There are plenty of prayers, mantras, and rituals to help bless and protect new homes, from religions as diverse as Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. Most of these blessings require only simple props, such as candles, salt, or rice, and can be easily performed by yourself and your family members. Why not mark this exciting new chapter of your life with a spiritual act? Blessings can also help ease your nerves and bring a sense of peace and prosperity to the house.

What Are Some of the Main Benefits of Custom Houses?

download (81)Many people dream of one day purchasing their dream home, and a custom designed and built house is one excellent way to achieve that. An alternative to buying an older property or a standard new build, there are many benefits in store for the person who decides on a customized option.

The first major advantage of investing in custom homes instead of buying another property is that this provides complete freedom to create a house that is exactly the way you want it. This not only includes the size, shape and layout of the property, but every single detail of the interior and exterior of the home too.

Some people can rightfully find this quite daunting, as there are so many things to be designed and decided upon it can be difficult to know where to start. With this in mind, it is wise to look for a custom home builder that offers a complete service to take you from start to finish of your project with ease.

This total control over the appearance and layout of the home has another major advantage too, and that is that this gives you complete control over your budget. When buying a new build home, there are many fittings, features and finishes that have been decided in advance, leaving you little room to negotiate the build budget.

This is different with custom homes; again, you can choose to work with an expert custom builder who will be able to advise you on how to keep your costs down so your project stays within budget. You may be able to compromise on some of your interior finishes, or source inexpensive but reasonable quality building materials elsewhere if you find yourself going over budget.

Those who are looking to create a green and energy efficient home should also consider investing their budget in a custom built home rather than buying an older property. The reality is that many older houses are not very energy efficient, leading to a greater waste of resources to heat and power the property.

In contrast, custom homes can be as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as you desire and as far as your budget will allow. You will have the option to use responsibly sourced materials, increase the amount of natural light into your home and install the most efficient insulation on the market if you so wish – it is all up to you.

Another big advantage of creating and designing your own unique property is that you can incorporate luxuries that you will be hard pressed to find within budget if you are considering buying an older or a new build property.

Examples of popular luxuries include gyms, swimming pools and home cinemas, which do not necessarily have to be expensive to install when you build your home from scratch. In contrast, installing these in an existing home can be costly, resulting in major renovation work in some cases.

Lastly, there is a big advantage in the fact that you will be starting out with an entirely new product when you purchase a custom built home made to cater to your own wants and needs. This results in a lot less maintenance work – in fact you will not likely need to carry out any renovation or maintenance work for a very long time indeed.

This can be compared with older properties that are likely to at least need refreshing or redcorating to your tastes after you move in. In the worst case scenario, you may find yourself with major work needing to be carried out after you move in.

In conclusion, there are many advantages to buying custom homes, including the chance to create your dream home exactly the way you envisioned it and avoiding the disadvantages of buying an existing property. If this concept appeals to you, contact a custom house builder in your local area to see what they can offer you.

The Largest City in Turkey, Grows Up Fastly in the Real Estate Market

download (79)The largest city in Turkey, has a surprising 16 million amount of citizens living in various residential settings. It, being a historical and cultural center for the country, has become the main pillar of controlling the tide of the economy in Turkey. The increasing population in the urban areas has poured constant stress among the margins of the city, it is slowly encroaching over the outer areas, and scavenging the unpopulated areas to commuter towns and societies that have the best facilities provided in the inner city.

The residences for sale in Istanbul are manifold, which include villas, apartments, and residences. There are various areas that have different commodities. Three of the regions that have the best residences in Istanbul are; Istanbul Central City Region, Waterfront Property, and New Istanbul Area.

Istanbul Central City Region has four cities that have multiple assortments of the most expensive residences. Beyoglu is the cosmopolitan center, it is always busy with entertaining and artistic nightlife areas. The neighborhood is the best area to live with the busy lifestyle in mind. Nisantasi is on the European side of the river, it is an expensive are with magnetic mid-rise apartments. This area is lively, and has the majority of the foreign population as residents. The heart of Istanbul, Taksim, is an expensive and leisurely place to live. There is a rise in smaller apartments for sale in Istanbul so the larger high-rise apartments are being quickly overtaken by the less expensive flats.

The Waterfront Property is rapidly becoming the most popular mid-rise residential area. It includes three major areas which offer residences for sale; Bebek, Galata, and Karakoy. There are numerous villas for sale in Bebek, which runs along the waterfront. It is located on the European side of the Bosporus and has a chic atmosphere that gathers its international and national appeal. Galata is present on the shore of Golden Horn, there are many apartment buildings, which go well with the popular shopping and entertainment areas. However, the best area to look for apartments of all prices ranging from Euro 50,000 to 300,000 is Karakoy. This area is rapidly improving in popularity thus, has the best and cheapest residences in Istanbul.

All About Duplex Houses

download (78)Duplex houses are one of the best houses that you can have. They come with many benefits which include:

Renting: if you don’t have a large family, you can rent the top or bottom house and be collecting rent. In short, you will be living and renting the same property.

High resell value: compared to traditional houses that tend to have granny flats added onto them, duplex houses have a higher re-sell value; therefore, if you are moving to a new area you will sell the house at a high price.

Great designs: if you are planning of constructing the house, there are many designs available for you. For example, you can have a design where the house looks like one large house on the outside, but in reality there are two.

If you are planning of renting one of the houses and you don’t want to be meeting the tenant every now and then, you should ask your architect to design the house in such a way that the top and bottom houses have different amenities such as parking spaces, main doors and laundry areas.

Designing the house

The most important part of any house is the design. For a great design you should have a professional architect with great experience in designing duplex houses. The design should ensure that all sections of your house are private. This means that there should be a wall that splits your home into sections.

At the same time the design should allow you to easily expand on the house if need be. To make this possible, you should ask the architect to plan the house in such a way that it’s located at the corners of your plot so as to leave enough room for future developments.

Things you should note when constructing the house

While duplex houses are popular, they aren’t allowed everywhere. Your architect should research and decide whether the design is allowed in your area or not. There are some areas that require you to construct specific designs of duplex houses. You should research and find out the designs allowed in the area.

Just like any other house you need to take good care of your house for it to retain its great looks. For example, you need to paint the house on a regular basis.