Real Estate News

Posted by    |    February 18th, 2014 at 8:57 am

The National Association of Home Builders’ Remodeling Market Index shows remodeling activity at its highest reading since the first quarter of 2004. The index was at 57 in the fourth quarter of 2013. Any reading above 50 indicates more remodelers report market activity is higher than those who report lower. The index’s future market conditions rose to 58, the highest reading since recording of that measure began in 2005. “Steady existing home sales, historically favorable interest rates for home buyers and rising home equity have combined to release some of the pent-up demand for home remodeling from the past few years,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This quarter’s RMI reading shows that the slow but steady improvement in the remodeling market will continue in 2014.” The National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s fourth quarter Remodeling Business Pulse data also showed an uptick in remodeling activity. The biggest reasons cited for an increase in home remodeling were home owners needing to do projects they had postponed and improving home prices. Source: Realtor Daily News

Investors are flipping houses again, a trend that had become popular during the housing boom but fell off after home prices started dropping. Now, with home prices back on the rise again, many markets are seeing flips on the upswing. Homes that were purchased and then resold within six months accounted for 4.6 percent of all U.S. single-family home sales during 2013, according to RealtyTrac’s fourth-quarter 2013 Home Flipping Report. House flipping was up 16 percent from 2012 and up 114 percent from 2011, the report shows. Rising home prices have helped investors see profits again. The average gross profit on flips was $62,761 in the fourth quarter of 2013, up from $52,746 a year earlier. “Strong home price appreciation in many markets boosted profits for flippers in 2013, despite a shrinking inventory of lower-priced foreclosure homes to purchase,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. In 2013, 21 percent of all homes flipped were purchased out of foreclosure, down from 27 percent in 2012 and 32 percent in 2011, the report shows. But investors are still finding homes to buy at an average discount of 13 percent below market value, the same average discount as 2012, “indicating that investors are finding discounted buying opportunities outside of the public foreclosure process — particularly in those markets with the biggest increases in flipping for the year,” Blomquist says. Source: RealtyTrac  

The 5 Kitchen Spots You Can Organize Today

Posted by    |    February 15th, 2014 at 11:48 am

Whether you have just 10 minutes or a full 30, you can tackle your kitchen’s messiest spots in a few simple steps.
This piece originally appeared on

1. If you have 10 minutes: 
Clear off the countertop.
Find a new home for any appliances you don’t use daily (or close to it). If you hand-wash dishes, dry them on a rack like the Siliconezone by Karim Sink Roll ($50); it rolls up for easy storage when not in use.

2. If you have 15 minutes: 
Sort out the cleaners under the sink.
Pull out your cleaning supplies; toss anything that has dried out or been used beyond recognition. Arrange the remaining cleansers by room or type (e.g., “bathroom,” “dusting”) and place each group into a plastic bin — they’ll be easy to grab at chore time.

3. If you have 25 minutes: 
Take on that overloaded utensil drawer.
Two questions: Has it been over a month since I used this? Do I have something else that works better? If you say yes to both, donate it! Can’t decide? Put it into a box in the basement; write the date on top. If the box is unopened a year from now, give it up!

And then:
Streamline your storage containers.
Recycle lidless, discolored, or warped plastic containers, then assess your needs: Most families of four are fine with 12 pieces total. Stick to vessels that are all the same shape so they’ll stack neatly and take up less space.

4. If you have 30 minutes: 
Reorganize the refrigerator.
Toss anything that’s expired, group like with like, and stash small items (yogurt, fruit) in clear plastic drawers like Fridge Binz ($8 to $20 each). Check the freezer: If you don’t recognize it, can’t remember when you froze it, or know that it’s more than six months old, chuck it.

The CEO and the Second Home

Posted by    |    February 15th, 2014 at 11:40 am

Homes That Invite Shop Talk

For business leaders, vacation homes become places to hold conferences, strategize and make deals

Wall Street Journal 
February 13, 2014 

Martin Puris, an advertising veteran, invited a Sony Corp. marketing executive for a summer weekend last year at his second home in the swank hamlet of Sagaponack in Long Island’s Hamptons.

The men relaxed by the 75-foot outdoor pool, dined in the adjacent airy sunroom—and struck a deal. Mr. Puris, former chief executive of ad giant Ammirati Puris Lintas, snared the Sony Music Entertainment unit as the third major client for Puris & Partners, his new corporate-strategy consultancy.

Mr. Puris frequently entertains business contacts at the 12-acre property, where he also conceived his startup. “It doesn’t feel like work,” Mr. Puris explains. He can comfortably accommodate 16 people on his estate, which has a main house, a separate guesthouse and a large guest bedroom above a detached garage. The property has a total of nine bedrooms, 11 full baths and about 9,000 square feet of living space.

Like everyone else, top executives need time off to escape high-pressure jobs. Unlike everyone else, their vacation homes are often critical to their work. Beyond setting up computers, they must devote several hours a day to email and conference calls. Some interrupt their stays to fly back to headquarters for an unexpected meeting.

Visits to his vacation residence in Hawaii’s Hualalai Resort helped Harry H. Frampton to devise turnaround strategies during the 2009 downturn.

“Coming to a place like Hawaii allowed me to not be overwhelmed by the problems,” says Mr. Frampton, executive chairman of East West Partners, a property developer, manager and brokerage in Avon, Colo.

For instance, he recalls, he was at that vacation home when he decided which of his company’s resort development projects to defer due to the recession.

Mr. Frampton enjoys stunning sunset views from the main house in his nearly 5,000-square-foot compound on the Big Island. The estate, set on half an acre, also has two guest cottages, though they tend to be used only by other family members.

Vacation-home sales in the U.S. are rebounding. Sales rose 10% in 2012, after tumbling 56% between 2006 and 2010, the National Association of Realtors reported.

Hualalai Resort, half owned by Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell, sold more second homes and lots in 2013 than any year since 2007, a spokeswoman says.

Prices are bouncing back as well. “I expect close to double-digit gains in second-home prices this year,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. He thinks primary homes will appreciate by only about 6%.

The median sales price for a vacation home in the U.S. was $150,000 in 2012, up 24% from 2011, according to the Realtors association. The increase reflects greater sales of higher priced properties. Their pricey amenities range from movie-screening theaters to wine cellars, private boat docks and golf-cart garages.

The second-home experiences of Mr. Puris and Mr. Frampton give insights into how an upscale residential retreat can benefit business leaders.

Mr. Puris started his career as a stand-up comedian, co-founded his ad agency in 1974 and later invented memorable slogans, such as “the ultimate driving machine,” used since 1975 by BMW AG to sell cars in the U.S.

He has cooked up other business ideas at his Hamptons house, where he and his wife, Mary Herrmann Puris, drive almost every weekend from their Manhattan loft apartment. He works during roughly a third of their typical three-day stays.

“This vacation home is where I have some of my best creative thoughts,” the 74-year-old executive explains. “This peaceful setting allows my brain to be uncluttered and focused.”

In November 2012, for example, he decided to stop running a U.S. joint venture for a U.K. marketing-services firm. He had forged the arrangement with his future British partner during a chat alongside the estate’s pool.

Mr. Puris pondered his next career move from its study. The book-crammed office, whose tallest windows overlook the pool, originally was the master bath. He remembers feeling inspired to launch Puris & Partners while there. The year-old firm employs playwrights, screenwriters and magazine columnists to teach companies to tell their story better and “capture the imagination of the marketplace,” he says.

He calls his bucolic estate Whimsy Farm. It has “secret gardens all over the place, fountains, odd places to have a drink or lunch,” he adds.

The ad executive unwinds there in other ways, too. He regularly uses its fully equipped exercise room and he races his 30-foot sailboat when weather permits. Until a few years ago, he owned and rode horses.

Whimsy Farm evolved from a 2.5 acre parcel that Ms. Herrmann Puris purchased in 1982, a decade before she married Martin. She spent $250,000 to build a small house with a 24-foot-high cathedral ceiling in the spacious living room.

The couple has completed three major additions since 1992. Among them: a glass enclosed sunroom that seats 30, an extra kitchen and a three-bedroom wing with floors made of 18th-century wood planks. The current master bathroom features a sunken whirlpool tub. Close by are their bedroom’s six closets and roaring gas fireplace.

Visiting relatives and business acquaintances usually occupy separate guest quarters. Expanding, renovating and landscaping the estate cost at least $4 million, Ms. Herrmann Puris says. But now, she says, “we’re out of add-ons.”

Mr. Frampton is sweating after a workout at the Hualalai Resort’s fitness center, but still feels comfortable as he enters his sun-drenched Hawaiian home. The reason? He routinely opens three sides to catch balmy breezes. The temperature fluctuates between 72 and 82 degrees this mid-January day.

Mr. Frampton and his wife, Susan, spend about 12 weeks a year in Hawaii—mostly during spring mud season in Vail, Colo., where their primary residence is.

The compound, completed in 2008, is the fourth vacation home built by the couple in their 48-year marriage. They spent more than $8 million to buy the property, and then construct and decorate the house, two guest cottages and the garage, Mr. Frampton estimates.

“We made a real effort to make it an inside/outside house,” says the 70-year-old executive, wearing a yellow T-shirt and Nike shorts.

A trio of sliding glass walls recedes into pockets. Interior and exterior floors, made of soft sandstone, extend the living area to a covered rear veranda. This “lanai” faces a pool, hot tub, gazebo, and the Pacific Ocean. “We eat 100% of our meals outside,” he says.

The four-bedroom, 4.5-bath compound has no inside showers. “There is nothing much nicer than taking an outside shower,” Mr. Frampton says. Occasional raindrops during showers don’t bother him because “you were wet to start with.”

Mr. Frampton, who founded East West in 1985 and remained CEO until 2012, wants to apply his “outside living inside” approach to its Kauai residential project. Among other things, he says the homes will have receding doors like his “so they can open up a lot.” He monitors the Kauai project by flying there a few times each time he vacations in Hawaii.

The executive used this second home throughout the recession. Far from his stressful, 65-hour workweeks, he says he was better able to remain upbeat, set priorities and deal with lenders. His introspection led him to conclude the company would survive by continuing “to treat our employees with respect” and being as truthful as possible with business partners.

“I work hard,” he says, “But you can work too hard.”

How to Add a Kitchen Backsplash

Posted by    |    February 15th, 2014 at 10:15 am

The options for kitchen backsplashes are pretty much limitless in terms of material, color, size and cost. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what’s best for you and your lifestyle. Knowing how to navigate the process of installing a new backsplash can help ease some of the stress. Here’s what to expect.

Project: Adding a new backsplash.
Why: A backsplash can act as a focal point in the kitchen, creating interest and balance between the other materials and elements. 
Details: The difficulty and expense of the project will depend on the complexity of the design. First you’ll want to decide what kind of backsplash you’d like to have. As mentioned, the options are endless, from smooth, backpainted glass to complex ceramic tile patterns and custom murals. Look at photos, research materials, meet with a designer and visit showrooms to decide what’s best for you.

Click here for the full article on

5 developments in Dallas to look forward to in 2014

Posted by    |    January 2nd, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Great article from Pegasus News on plenty of changes to travel in our area.

DALLAS — Late December is a great time to look back and think of the best restaurants, most scandalous moments or any other excuse to make a “best-of” list for Big D. And why stop now? But for something different, let’s focus on the year ahead and think about some very important transportation, infrastructure and real estate developments that’ll take Dallas to the next level. From projects that began more than 100 years ago to ones that were just dreamed up in the Internet age, here are my top 5.

Skip the brick for a statement-making chimney

Posted by    |    December 8th, 2013 at 1:50 pm

This new article on looks at alternative materials for chimneys from metal to concrete or masonry for a dynamic architectural element.

While their main function is to provide ventilation, chimneys do double duty when they’re elegant architectural statements. Standing tall and prominent on the exterior, they add visual interest to a home and — when covered in a complementary material — can provide a provocative contrast to the other volumes in the structure. Click to continue.

Overdoing a trend

Posted by    |    October 23rd, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I love the look of Chevron but I would have serious concerns if a client wanted to commit to this tile pattern on a more permananent basis. It’s one thing to swap out a pillow down the road but this is really putting a ring on it.