Fireplaces often become the focal point of a room. New technological advances are allowing home owners to do a lot more with their fireplaces too, according to Napoleon Fireplaces, a manufacturer of wood and gas fireplaces and other household products.
“We’re seeing some very interesting home designs that incorporate fireplaces in many creative new ways,” says David Coulson with Napoleon Fireplaces. “While the traditional hearth will be a mainstay for many homes, modern fireplaces with crisp lines and glass frames will continue to rise in popularity with new homes and redesigned rooms. That being said we’re seeing several new trends emerge this season that are really changing the way people are thinking about fireplaces.”
Here are a few of the trends, according to Napoleon Fireplaces:
1. Modern: There’s been continued growth of sleek and modern fireplaces with clean, linear lines with less metal and more glass. Home owners want the full flame and don’t want black or chrome metal frames blocking the view or interfering with the lighting, according to the company.
2. Gas: These fireplaces continue to remain popular, offering that convenience of flicking a switch to turn on your fireplace and they’re known as being easier to clean and maintain.
3. Outdoor retreat: Some home owners are putting outdoor fireplaces in to create a backyard oasis, the company notes. “The idea of turning a backyard into another room of your house is fueling the outdoor fireplace trend,” according to Napoleon Fireplaces.
4. Higher up: Some consumers are putting their fireplaces higher up on the wall, just like a television. New technology is allowing home owners to insert enclosed gas fireplaces anywhere in the house. Some fireplaces are also going in more unusual places, like a kitchen or bathroom.
By Brooke Wolford
Over the last several years, real estate educators have really pushed that we, as an industry, need to do something special to deal with my generation. Most of these speakers are not part of Gen Y themselves, but they seem to think they know everything about us. And despite these teachings, I have rarely met someone who fits the stereotypical Millennial profile that they are describing.
Now, I could be completely wrong here, but I personally only know one person who lives in their parents’ basement. When I was in my early 20s, I was buying a home, getting married, and having babies – and guess what…I paid off all of my student loans within a year of graduating. What’s even funnier is every single person I knew was doing the same thing. Even the younger Millennials I know still want the things I want. They want to purchase a home. They still want a family and all of the domestics that come along with it. But what I have found is that many of them just don’t know how to do it.
A perfect example is my little sister, who just graduated from college a little more than a year ago, and is writing her first offer on a house today. Not what you typically hear from real estate speakers, is it?
What’s true about Millennials is that they want to be heard. The problem is that nobody is listening. Here are some facts about my generation:
- The majority of our parents were divorced. So we are cautious about who we marry because we want to create a good home for our children.
- We are not lazy. We are exhausted. We have twice as many people to compete with for jobs, school, etc. We have to work at a pace that people like my grandmother think is insane. Our supposed entitlement stems from the fact that we really deserve something for all the things we do.
- We crave work-life balance because we have watched our parents work themselves to death, thus ending up divorce and all us poor kids grew up in a broken home.
- Yes, we have ADD, but we have twice as many people throwing some new thing at us. We can’t be on a social media site without someone spamming us. And because some expert marketing genius is telling everyone where to find us, it never ends.
If we haven’t purchased a home, it’s because everyone is “educating” us about how in debt we are and how unattainable home ownership is for us.
I could be completely wrong here. Maybe I am a member of some elite social circle that is different from the rest. Maybe it’s a Minnesota thing. But I look around to my fellow Millennials and I am amazed and, frankly, inspired. I’m still trying to find the entitled, lazy, and excessively in debt narcissist living in their parents’ basement playing video games. It’s just not happening.
Brooke Wolford is a real estate practitioner with Coldwell Banker Burnet in Woodbury, Minn. Follow her blog at www.thehousingword.com.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Bathroom styles are shifting to contemporary, spa-like styles that are accessible and easy to maintain, according to the latest trend report from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, which surveyed 420 designers to find the top bathroom trends this year. (Also, see last week’s post: 7 Trends Spicing Up Kitchen Designs)
“Spa bathrooms and Zen-like retreats are definitely desired aspects of today’s bathrooms, driving a more contemporary aesthetic,” says John Petrie, the 2014 NKBA president.
Simple styles, with an emphasis on clean lines and functionality, are in high demand, adds designer Maria Stapperfenne of Tewksbury Kitchen & Bath in Whitehouse Station, N.J.
Below are among some of the trends designers identified for bathrooms this year.
Trend #1: Shades of grey
Beige and bone color schemes remain the most popular, but the third most popular color scheme – grey – is gaining traction. Fifty-eight percent of designers predict that grey will be the fastest growing color scheme in 2014. (Read: The Power of Grey in Staging)
Trend #2: Universal designs
Sixty percent of designers say they anticipate doing more universal design/accessible bathrooms this year. For example, about half of designers specified the growing popularity of no-threshold showers. These showers allow home owners to more easily walk or roll into the shower without having to step over any small ledge.
Trend #3: Shower lighting
Spotlights are being turned on in the shower. More designers say they are incorporating lighting in showers. Designers also say they expect more benches and seats to be included in showers.
Trend #4: Steamy
Steam showers are growing in popularity –with twice as many designers specifying steam showers being incorporated than whirlpools in master bathrooms.
Trend #5: Higher toilets, vanities
Toilets and vanities are getting more of a lift. Eighty-four percent of designers said that comfort height toilets and vanities gained popularity in 2013 and are expected to continue to be a growing option this year.
Bathroom Features in Demand
Designers identified the following bathroom features as most in demand:
• Ceramic or porcelain tile for flooring
• Quartz for vanity tops
• Linen storage cabinets
• Undermount sinks
• Wall-hung floating vanities, console tables and open shelving
Similar to kitchen designs, designers noted a decrease in Provincial and Tuscan-style bathrooms, as well as a decline in rustic/country styles. Also, black was the least popular fixture color and is expected to decline even more this year, NKBA designers noted.
By Anand Patel
There are two great apps that I have been using for more than a year or so now that have served to be very helpful. I share these (and many more) apps with my agents during our company meetings and several of them also found these two apps in particular to be very practical and useful.
If you haven’t heard of Glympse, you need to scroll to the end of this section and download it now. Glympse is a location-based app that lets you tell a recipient your location for a set period of time. We use this with our customers all the time when meeting at a new location, running late for a meeting due to traffic, or just giving someone a heads-up that we are on the way. You set the time you want the recipient to be able to see your current location and once that time expires you are no longer visible on the map to the recipient. You can also request a glympse from someone via text asking them to share their location with you. This way you know how far away they are or you can guide them if they are lost. The best part is the recipient doesn’t have to have the app downloaded on their phone.
The user interface is really sleek as you can see in the screen shots of a glympse I sent to someone I was meeting for a business dinner in Tampa. You may notice I was stuck in rush hour traffic as I was only going 7 mph. Yes, Glympse lets the recipient see how fast you are traveling as well! About a year and half ago I was traveling frequently between Tampa and Orlando. At that time I started sending my wife a glympse of my location on the highway and set it for a duration of about an hour as she gets worried about me driving sometimes due to my “short attention span” on the road. One day I sent her a glympse and ten minutes later I got a call from here saying “Anand, slow down! Look how fast you are driving!” So be warned, this app can work against you! Needless to say, I don’t send her very many glimpses anymore. But you can also see how this app can be helpful. As a safety precaution, you could send your colleague a glympse of your location for the duration you will be showing property with a buyer you haven’t met before. Request a glympse from your kids when you are wondering where the heck they are (that’s if they’ll respond to your request). In any case, it is a very useful app and there are a myriad of uses where it can come in handy.
Glympse is free and can be downloaded here: www.glympse.com/get_glympse
Have you ever been out showing property with buyers and while standing in front of a house they start asking you questions about the neighborhood that you know are probably in violation of fair housing laws? I have my agents ask their buyers to download the Sitegeist app which pulls all sorts of public records data based on your geo-location. Sitegeist pulls from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, Foursquare, Yelp, Weather Underground, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The app will tell a user based on their location things such as:
- Do the people around you contribute more to Republicans or Democrats
- How people commute – car, public transportation, walk, bike
- Median home values
- Average rent
- Number of males vs. females in the immediate area
- Household incomes
- Number of children under the age of five
- Median age of homes
- Number of housing units
- And a lot more…
See how your customers may find this information useful? And also see how much safer it is when the data is coming from a third party without you having to tip toe around the questions? Believe me, your customers will be wowed and your broker relieved when you start using and sharing this app. I also personally use this app when analyzing commercial real estate in markets I am not too familiar with.
A common question that I get asked when I share this app with agents, colleagues and customers is “how far around me is this data pulling from?” Because the data is coming from multiple sources and each source has different criteria for what they consider to be “nearby” there is no single answer to this question. For example, the U.S Census Bureau data measures geographic area by the census tract, political contributions are measured by zip code, the EPA uses a 5-mile radius, and Foursquare and Yelp each have their own algorithm to come up with what constitutes a geographic area around you. Regardless of how far around you the data is pulling from, the aesthetically appealing graphics, easy to read design and quick access to relevant data make it a must have when your buyers are house-hunting.
Sitegeist is also free and you can download it here: sitegeist.sunlightfoundation.com
What other mobile applications have you found to be helpful not only to you as a practitioner but also for the benefit of your customers?
Anand Patel is broker and president of Pangea Realty Group based in Tampa, Fla. You can connect with Anand on Twitter: @anand_tampa, Facebook: www.facebook.com/prgtampa, or LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1.
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