Living Color

Colors by Pantone

The leading expert in color, Pantone, Inc., has made it stated that Turquoise was the “it” color for 2010.  But before you deck the house from top to bottom in the gemstone hue, consider the other latest trends.

Behr paint company says neutral is still in–think light colors such as grays, camels and off-whites.  Experts suggest buying bigger furniture such as sofas and armchairs in these safe colors, which never truly go out of style.  Complement neutrals with aqua and gold tones, but stay away from the darker browns, which are becoming passé.

While monochromatic schemes are still versatile and dependable, HGTV says the real winners in the color game right now are bold jewel colors such as ruby red or emerald green and the brighter the better–especially if it’s a purple hue.  Experts advise pairing these daring tones with a smoky charcoal or a softer black to give a room a vintage feel.

Going green and getting back to nature is a major trend, too.  Earthier tones, such as sand or yellow-greens, are perfect for living rooms or kitchens.  But going back to your roots doesn’t just mean dipping into Mother Earth’s favorite colors.  Decorators say Asian-inspired or tribal patterns are adorning decorative elements consumers look to get the most bang for their buck.  Think pillows, area rugs or murals as key items this season.

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First-Time Buyers Prefer Move-in Ready Homes

A new survey by Coldwell Banker finds that 87 percent of first-time homebuyers who purchased their home within the past year preferred a move-in ready home to one that would require some work.

A home’s location to area amenities was also important to first-time buyers. Nearly four out of five buyers (78 percent) say it was important to find a home close to retail shops and services while three-fourths wanted to be close to their jobs and nearly two-thirds wanted to be near highly-rated schools.

Many buyers were surprised by the immediate benefits they received once they purchased their first home. For example, 67 percent said the market conditions provided them the opportunity to buy a home sooner than they expected, half said they found a home in a more desirable location than they expected, and 61 percent got a home for a better price than expected.

great information from CRS MemberConnect on-line newsletter

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No Short Sale Deficiencies

Starting January 1, 2011, a seller’s first trust deed lender cannot obtain a deficiency judgment against the seller after a short sale.  Providing written consent to a short sale shall obligate the first trust deed lender to accept the sales proceeds as full payment and discharge of the remaining amount owed on the loan.  This law applies to first trust deeds secured by one-to-four residential units, but does not limit the lender from seeking damages for fraud or waste by the borrower.  Senate Bill 931.  Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 1178, our sponsored bill, which would have extended California’s anti-deficiency protection to refinance loans.

The Issue of Zoning

 Zoning regulates what you can and can’t do on your property.  For instance, if the land you purchased is zoned as residential, you would not be allowed to establish a restaurant on the lot.

Other than restricting the use of the land, zoning also regulates the dimensional requirements for buildings on property located within a district and what types of animals you can have on your property.  Some zoning ordinances also regulate the extraction of natural resources within the area, provide space for hospitals, parks and schools, and protect places of historical significance.The most common zoning designations are residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural.  Knowing how your land is zoned is important because you need to know the restrictions that have been placed on your property. For example, if you own a lot with two structures that are suitable for living, you may want to rent one out.  Before doing so, you will need to find out if that is legal.You can find out how your property is zoned by stopping by your local zoning office or city hall.  Zoning ordinances and maps are public record, so all you need to do is ask to see them.  You also may find the information online or in your local library.

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Housing Starts Rise, Builder Confidence Improves

Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 626,000 in March, 1.6 percent higher than the 616,000 estimated in February and 20.2 percent higher than the 521,000 estimated a year ago, according to the latest figures compiled by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Permits for new residential construction rose 7.5 percent in March to 685,000 from 637,000 in February, and they were 34.1 percent higher than the March 2009 estimate of 511,000.

Builder confidence rose four points this month to reach its highest level since September 2009, spurred by increased activity from buyers, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. “An expected surge in buyer activity leading up to the expiration of the homebuyer tax credits and a gradually improving economy helped to brighten builders’ view of the marketplace in April,” says NAHB chief economist David Crowe.

However, builders are cautious about the next six months as several issues could continue to drag on the housing market, such as credit shortages, high inventory of foreclosures and concerns about the job market.

from CRS Member Connect e-mail newsletter

Home Improvements

          Updating Bathrooms

After kitchens, bathrooms are a home buyer’s biggest concern. The good news here is that bathroom renovations typically realize a homeowner an 80-90% return on their investment. For a small space, $1,000 can go a long way to helping you boost your home’s value.

In addition to tiling the floor, you could upgrade the vanity and sink. Depending on the size of your vanity and the number of sinks you would like to install you can buy a premade, finished piece at most “big box” home improvement stores and sink for several hundred dollars. Or opt for a pedestal sink (or two) and freestanding cabinets for storage – a hot new trend – and you’ll still come in well under your $1,000 spending limit.


                Get Efficient

Use your $1,000 budget to make a smart and eco-friendly investment in your home such as:

  • Going tankless. Installing a tankless hot water heater for $150-$1,000 (depending on size) is an attractive energy-efficient upgrade for today’s homeowners and buyers…and it will save you between 10-20% on your utility bills monthly.
  • Installing ceiling fans. Ceiling fans aren’t just decorative – they’re an easy way to reduce your overall energy consumption during hot summer months.

Not sure where to start? Hire an interior designer for a flat hourly fee to get some professional advice or ask a local realtor to walk through your home and give his/her opinion of the best renovations you could make given your local market.

Brian Ripp, CRS, GRI, Broker – your Bay Area Realtor  serving Fremont, Newark, Union City & surrounding communities. Real Estate & Property Management.