Home Furnishings Trend: Brass is Back

After years of chrome, stainless steel, and nickel being the shining stars of interior metals, brass is back and starting to steal the show.

As with many home furnishings trends, the comeback was inspired by what’s occurring in fashion. In this case, gold and rose gold watches became influencers a few years ago, says Chicago designer Tom Segal of Kaufman Segal Design, who thinks that home furnishings styles tend to be cyclical. Now he’s adding small brass details to rooms in the same way a gold watch might peek out of a shirt cuff.

Using brass now is an easy, affordable way for homeowners to customize and stay on trend.  “Many people want a warmer look, which is also visible in fabrics as warmer colors return,” Segal says.

Erin Imhof, showroom supervisor at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Lansdale, Pa., has noted an increase in brass finishes. She attributes it to how they complement a wide range of colors and other finishes. “Many of today’s top color trends for kitchens and bathrooms, including all-white, blue, and black, pair beautifully with brass fixtures,” she says.

Others concur that brass is a universal mixer. “Our designers like to integrate brass into their designs, whether it’s an accent like a decorative bowl, object of art, light fixture, or metal base on an end table,” says Julie Sprouse, design sales manager at Ethan Allen, the home furnishings chain based in Danbury, Conn.

Caitie Smithe, a design coordinator and stylist at the Walter E. Smithe Furniture + Design retailer based in Itasca, Ill., also considers brass a material that can be used throughout a home, including light fixtures, hardware, and even light switches and vent controls. Other good places to use brass include bathroom hardware, plumbing fixtures such as sinks, and accessory details like candleholders or picture frames.

Here are five tips for using brass that you can pass on to your clients.

1. Use sparingly. Brass works best when used in small doses. Too much can create a “too matchy-matchy” look, according to Smithe. Overuse can make it start to look cheap, says Segal. “Moderation is key,” he says.

2. Mix finishes. Brass appears more timeless rather than trendy when it’s matte, brushed, or aged, which helps soften its sheen, Segal says. But be careful, Smithe says, when mixing brasses in a single space from different manufacturers. “There is a huge range in color and brightness. Some take on a bright yellow color while others can be more of an aged gold,” she says.

3. Combine warm metal colors. Brass, gold, and bronze can work well together since they share similar warm values versus shiny nickel, which leans toward the colder side, says Sprouse.

4. Mix metals. Some designers also think brass, satin, brushed nickel, stainless steel, and oil-rubbed bronze can be used together. But Imhoff still offers some caution. “Go with similar warm, muted undertones for some consistency,” she says. Chicago designer Summer Thornton likes mixing metals, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms where she might use brass, nickel, and steel combinations.

5. Consider longevity. How long brass will stay fashionable is unknown. When it becomes too ubiquitous in retail stores, shelter magazines, and on design websites, it may be time to move on. The good news is that brass touches are easy to add in and switch out.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

Home Offices Expected to Become Essential for Buyers

As more people shift to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate professionals predict that a home office will become a hot amenity for the long term. Fifty-five percent of homeowners and practitioners recently surveyed by remodeling website Houzz say they have a home office. A quarter of respondents say they work from their dining room or kitchen table, and 11% work from their sofa.

Respondents report that the top challenges of a sudden shift to working from home include finding a private or quiet location away from high-traffic living areas (30%), securing a computer with a strong Wi-Fi connection (25%), and creating a comfortable work space (25%).

Houzz U.S. editor Anne Colby offers tips for setting up an efficient work space at home, including:

  • Pick the right location. If you don’t have a dedicated space for a home office, consider transforming a spare bedroom, dining room, den, or even a backyard shed. Consider whether you want to be near family while working or need a quieter corner, Colby suggests.
  • Pay attention to the lighting. Diffuse the lights and position fixtures just right to avoid eyestrain from glares on the computer screen, Colby says. Layer lights from multiple sources—like an overhead light, desktop light, and natural light—to create the right ambiance.
  • Make it ergonomic. Keep your home office efficient and safe with the arrangement of your chair, desk, computer, keyboard, mouse, and phone. Make sure you’re comfortable. It will keep you working more productive and also prevent repetitive injuries, Colby says.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

Great News for the Real Estate Industry in WA

On Saturday, March 28th, in cooperation with Washington Realtors, Governor Inslee agreed to certain modifications to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order for the real estate industry.  Due to the fact that the vast majority of real estate brokers are abiding by the Order, several of the original restrictions on in-person activities have been revised – provided that strict protocols for social distancing are implemented.

The protocols that must be followed for the permitted in-person activities include:

  • In-person activities must be by appointment only
  • No more than two people, including the broker, may be at the property at any one time
  • Those two persons must strictly follow social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) by remaining at least six feet apart at all times.

The revisions to the Order are limited to allow the following in-person activities, provided the above protocols are followed:

  • Previews and showings of listings by appointment only
  • Listing presentations, photography, and creating virtual tours for new listings [Note: professional photographers are not considered “essential,” thus all photos must be taken by the broker or seller]
  • Inspections for pending transactions
  • Appraisals for pending transactions
  • Buyer “walk-throughs” for pending transactions prior to closing
  • Providing keys to buyers at closing

The Order strictly prohibits all other real estate brokerage services that are not conducted remotely from the broker’s home. Also, please note that staging and moving services are not considered essential and also remain prohibited by the Order.

Source: NWMLS 3/28/20

WA State Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order

Effective midnight on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, real estate brokers in the state of Washington are limited to providing services to their clients remotely from their homes using technology for a minimum of 2 weeks. You may read the document NWMLS created that provides details of how we’re effected. If you’re planning to buy or sell real estate soon, please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to explain what we may do to help you prepare to be ready when the order is lifted.

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Entryway Staging Essentials

Tips for staging a stellar entryway that will leave home buyers wanting to see more:

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression – and neither does your house. When potential buyers open the front door, they form an opinion within seconds. And it’s all based on what’s in plain sight. Whether the space is grand or petite, entryway staging can influence a client’s perspective on the entire house.

To avoid a negative first impression that sends potential buyers running out the door, consider these tips for staging a stellar entryway that hints at what’s to come during the showing.

1. De-Clutter

Touring a messy home won’t give potential buyers the opportunity to visualize their fresh start. After all, they’ll want to imagine their own shoes by the door without tripping over yours. Start by removing clutter from primary surface areas, including the floor, shoe rack, and table or hutch. Ensure that items like receipts, dog leashes and mail are out of sight. If you have an entryway closet, try to eliminate and relocate 50% of its contents (like coats) for showings. A half-empty closet will appear larger and more spacious.

Leaving a few garments behind looks polished while still being realistic. For example, try hanging a simple brown tote bag on a hook by the door. Consider which of your practical pieces look best on display and keep things very minimal.

2. Maximize Storage

There are plenty of multi-functional pieces available that serve as stylish furniture while providing sneaky storage. If you have a little square footage to spare, consider a bench with built-in storage – it provides a place to sit without wasting the space below and allows more room to accessorize. Additionally, look for pieces like this hutch designed specifically for shoes that still has ample surface area to serve as your main entryway table.

For truly tiny spaces, opt for creative storage alternatives like floating shelves and wall hooks. These highly popular, functional options still provide room for on-the-go essentials without usurping the limited floor space.

3. Refine Décor

A beautiful entryway will operate as a stand-alone space rather than an afterthought. Adding a cozy rug or runner – separate from the functional doormat – can be the framework to define an entryway’s space.

Make the transition from outside to inside more gradual with the addition of houseplants. Plants promote tranquility and fill space during showings after you have minimized personal décor, like family photos. While streamlining clutter is crucial, the space can’t end up looking neglected – a potted leafy plant, like a snake plant, atop your entryway table adds a pop of natural color, while preventing the surface from looking scarce. If you’re known to be an unsuccessful plant-parent, consider a realistic-looking artificial plant. Keep the space refined by having a small basket, jar or ceramic dish on the entryway table as the go-to spot for keys and other pocket-dwelling items.

4. Keep It Clean

Even the most masterful staging won’t distract from dusty surfaces and muddy floors. Regular cleaning of the floor, front door and tabletop will keep your entryway or mudroom from looking like a genuine “mud” room. If your house is on the market during rainy or snowy seasons, consider getting a doormat that will help prevent dirty shoes from stepping foot through the door.

The Global Demand for Affordable Housing

The subject of affordable housing in cities around the world is becoming a focus of discussion as we move into the next decade. Whether it be in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Sydney, or Cape Town, academics, politicians, and developers are trying to solve the growing problem.

It cannot be a solution to the demand for housing in thriving cities, to move people further away from the city in search of cheaper places to live. The cultural issue is how to bring about significant increases in supply to city precincts without resorting to building on green belts and other open areas. Various cities will require the incumbent powers and political leaders to align with housing providers, new financial models, and the market to support low-cost housing essential to creating economically successful and enduring living places.

LA’S CRISIS

Los Angeles’ affordable housing crisis is well documented. According to the annual report from the California Housing Partnership, LA county would need over half a million units of affordable housing to meet the demand from low-income renters. In most major cities around the world, the price of most market-rate units is out of reach for low-income earners.

Most definitions of affordable housing are homes affordable to those entering or in the housing market but unable to access current planned or available supply either because of income circumstances or the stage of their lives.

According to the California Housing Partnership, the crisis is more significant than single communities. No matter how hard local governments and citizens work, help is needed from state, provincial, and federal authorities. A report by Savills in Britain estimated that as many as 500,000 families a year are unable to access available housing supply.

In Sydney and Cape Town, demand for affordable housing far exceeds supply. A comparison between the 20 most affordable Sydney suburbs for low-income earners in 2006, and again in 2010, found dramatic reductions in the number of affordable properties. The suburb of Westmead, for instance, recorded a 90 percent reduction in affordable properties over the period. A study done in Cape Town by a prominent architect suggests that mixed-income high-rise residential developments have the potential to break the mold. Integrating private sector investment and provision of tax breaks to developers would allow a larger budget for better aesthetics in design, giving people from a spectrum of income groups the ability to be accommodated in previously exclusive city areas. Blended buildings would provide people with inhabiting social housing units more integrity and all the inhabitants a sense of value and strong dignity.

We have a way to go before viable solutions are found to this problem, but comfort can be found in the fact that some of the most qualified people are applying their minds to solving the global affordable housing crisis.

Source: Washington REALTORS®

Top 10 Outperforming Markets

Metro Areas NAR Expects Home Price Appreciation to Outpace in the Next 3 to 5 Years

The National Association of REALTORS® identified the top metro areas taking into account a myriad of variables, including domestic migration into the area, housing affordability for new residents, consistent job growth outperforming the national average, age structure of the population, attractiveness for retirees, and the area’s home price appreciation.

In alphabetical order, the markets are:

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Ogden, Utah
  • Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida

Read more on the National Association of REALTORS® website…