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4 March 2011

Week in Review: What We Liked From the Week That Was

I think this is such a tantalizing time of year.  Spring-like weather comes in fits and starts before finally hitting its stride.  Here’s hoping spring breaks into a jog soon!

I’m not the only one with spring fever.  This week, aside from stories about Charlie Sheen and Libya, there was a lot of news in support of the spring home buying and selling season.

As you begin spring cleaning, think about doing it in an eco-friendly manor

Of course, spring means a lot of things for housing, from spring cleaning to prime selling season.  This year, as you begin cleaning, think about doing it in an eco-friendly manor. U.S. News suggests swapping old socks or t-shirts for paper towels, using natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda and recycling as much as possible.  Think green when you clean!

Gearing up for housing’s spring fling, Fox News published new rules for potential homebuyers navigating the current market.  Among them, consumers should spend about 25 percent of their monthly gross income on their mortgage — as compared to 30 percent during the boom. The golden rule of course is to know financial limits.  (As Warren Buffet recently stated, “our country’s social goal should not be to put families into the house of their dreams, but rather to put them into a house they can afford.”)

On the other side of the coin, there are some principles home sellers should follow, especially as competition is at record-levels with short-sale and foreclosed properties vying for buyers’ attention.  First, of course, is being realistic about price.  Also, don’t underestimate staging to sell; Décor, color and de-cluttering can do wonders to making a house look inviting.  A recent survey showed that staging, on average, costs between $300 and $400 and may increase a sale price up to $2,000.  A 500{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} ROI is pretty good in any market.

Vacant homes, however, create more of a challenge for sellers.  Stagers across the country are starting to do more than populate these homes with appealing furniture: they are bringing in occupants in order to create a “lived-in” look and feel. People who need temporary housing, or want to live in a home they could not otherwise afford (even if it is temporary), are jumping at the chance to be these so-called “home managers.”

Also this week, SmartMoney reports on the booming market in luxury Retirement communities.  The story notes that Toll Brothers didn’t open a single “high-end, age-qualified community” in 2009 but opened four in 2010 and plans to open another four in 2011.  Becoming more commonplace for communities for those 55+ are expanded classes (think: yoga, photography and Tai Chi), five-star chefs whipping up organic plates, concierges and tennis pavilions. Oh, the good life!

Next week, I am heading off to the 25th Annual South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas.  I hope to see you there!

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