Dog-Friendly Designs Attract Home Buyers and Remodelers

Some eras are defined by bumper crops of new babies, like the 1980s and ’90s, when baby boomer parents birthed the millennial generation. Today, a new twist: We’re in an era of pets — dogs in particular. Sixty million U.S. households have a dog, and dog ownership grew 29% in the last decade, according to a recent survey from the American Pet Products Association.

Pet-crazy millennials, now ages 18 to 34, lead the pack, say pet products researchers, who keep a keen eye on dog demographics. And they spoil their pets. From calming shirts and fashionable attire to supplements and allergy-free organic foods, pet owners will go to just about any length for their beloved “fur babies.”

The next phase in extreme pet pampering? Entire communities and custom-designed home features dedicated to the physical and emotional well-being of canines.

Read on to see how architects, designers, homebuilders and remodelers are adding dog parks, dog concierges, built-in feeding stations, home elevators and more to make sure dogs — and their owners — feel right at home.

1. Buying and remodeling with dogs in mind

Eighty-one percent of respondents in a National Association of Realtors survey said they’d take their pets’ needs into account in choosing their next living situation.

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A laundry room can be outfitted with a pet-washing station.

Fences, dog doors and laminate flooring are the most common pet-friendly improvements Americans make to homes, the NAR adds. In Sacramento, national homebuilding firm Taylor Morrison shows buyers how they can modify some floor plans to add a pet-washing station, like this one, in the laundry room.

2. Sacramento’s a dog town

In the Sacramento, California, area, homebuilder Taylor Morrison has 15 communities. Most of its home buyers are dog owners, leading the company to design dog runs, built-in dog beds and other dog-friendly options that can be added to its properties. Aren Bazzocco, Taylor Morrison’s Sacramento division president, lives in the Calabria community in Newcastle, California. For the family’s Shih Tzu, Chloe, they added an outdoor pet-washing station and a laundry room dog door that opens onto a fenced exercise area with synthetic turf and a concrete walkway.

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The Bazzocco family includes Chloe, a Shih Tzu.

3. Options include a canine concierge

Taylor Morrison’s Esplanade 55-plus community at Highland Ranch, in Clermont, Florida, includes homes with cabinets that can be modified to accept pet beds and feeding stations.

built-in dog bed and feeding station

Cabinets can be modified to hold pet beds and feeding stations.

Esplanade communities — there are 13 in Florida — have canine concierges who coordinate services like visits from mobile groomers, “Howl-o-ween” costumed dog parades, wellness and behavior education, photos with Santa and monthly newsletters. “Yappy hours” give dogs and their owners a chance to socialize. “People seem to loosen up and meet each other more easily with dogs,” says Taylor Morrison communications director Colleen Rubart.

4. Fur babies get royal treatment

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Agnes’ patio boasts antimicrobial “grass.”

About half of architect Phil Kean’s clients consider their pets’ needs when planning their new upscale homes, he says.

A handful request entire rooms built for their dogs’ care and feeding. More often, clients ask Kean to design grooming and washing stations, food storage cupboards and feeding spots into family areas, usually the mudroom, of their new homes. Kean’s 6-year-old basset hound, Agnes, has an outdoor potty area “planted” with antimicrobial artificial grass at Kean’s home near Orlando, Florida. Behind Agnes are a dog door and washing station.

5. Whose lift is it anyway?

Taking the stairs can be hard on a basset hound’s spine. To protect Agnes, Kean added an elevator to his home. The cost: $30,000. “I don’t think there’s anything that hasn’t been done for Agnes. She’s the most spoiled dog I’ve ever met,” he cheerfully admits. Kean trained Agnes to stand next to the elevator when she wants to go up or downstairs.

Agnes_elevator

Agnes stands next to the elevator when she wants to go up or downstairs.

Managing dogs’ movement inside a home can be tricky. For one client, Kean built an air-lock-type entry consisting of a small dry chamber flanked by two dog doors to keep the home’s temperature constant. Kean says clients have requested baby gates to limit dogs’ movement indoors. Dutch doors, he notes, are a good way to contain dogs indoors while letting them hop up and peek outside through the door’s open upper half.

 6. No more tripping on dog bowls

A feeding station built into the end of a run of kitchen cabinets is the brainchild of Susan Cracraft, vice president of design at Interiology Design Co., a Boston-area interior design firm.

Elway has a built-in feeding station

Elway has a built-in feeding station.

Her dog Elway, a 2 1/2-year-old mini goldendoodle, enjoys it, and it solves a perennial problem for humans used to tripping on dog bowls underfoot. Mark Haddad, Interiology president, estimates the feature adds about $2,000 to $4,000 to their kitchen remodels, depending on materials. Cleanup is made easy by lining the station floor with the same stone from the kitchen countertops.

Interiology’s dog-owning clients like built-in storage space for supplies and equipment — and even for a dog. Solutions have included food-storage cabinets similar to trash-can pull-outs and an enclosed dog den built into the triangular area under the stairs. Is a built-in feeding station practical for your home? It depends on your cabinets, the height of the bowls and the size of the dog.

7. Lucky Kentucky canines

Norton Commons, in the northeastern corner of Louisville, is a planned community of about 1,300 condos, townhomes, single-family homes and rental apartments built around a village center with small businesses — including a wildly popular dog salon. 

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Norton Commons has three dog parks and an agility course.

The community has sold 500 canine memberships for its three dog parks and one agility course. But Marilyn Patterson, Norton Commons spokeswoman, thinks the dog population is higher — more like 800. Why? She orders the dog-poop bags. “We have 45 doggy cleanup stations scattered along our sidewalks and walking trails in the community. That’s a lot of doggy bags,” she says.

 8. Snug as a bug

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The step-in washing area works for dogs and humans, too.

Ken Perrin, owner of Artistic Renovations in Seven Hills, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, often fields requests from clients who want to make life with dogs both easier and aesthetically pleasing.

This built-in dog-bed cubby and washing station packs a lot of utility into a laundry room. The walk-in bathing area eliminates the need to haul a dog into a tub or utility sink, and is potentially useful for gardeners or small children, who can hose off muddy boots before entering the house. In another recent remodel, Perrin installed softer flooring to help an owner’s beloved old Labrador retriever keep from slipping on hard floors.

Photo credits: Featured image: Getty Images; (1) LUX Films; (2) Mike Hammons; (3) John Unrue, Unrue Photo; (4) Jeffrey A. Davis Photography/courtesy Timberlake Cabinetry; (5) Photo courtesy Phil Kean Design Group; (6) Jared Kuzia Photography; (7) Norton Commons; (8) Ken Perrin, Artistic Renovations of Ohio.

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Marilyn Lewis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mlewis@nerdwallet.com.

The article Dog-Friendly Designs Attract Home Buyers and Remodelers originally appeared on NerdWallet.


9/7 Radio Show:

Guest host, Linda Mallia, welcomes Kyle Evans & Sam Geraci to the show.

Kyle Evans is a leading real estate professionals working out of our Wheatfield branch and Sam Geraci is a Mortgage Consultant with HUNT Mortgage.

Together, Linda leads the discussion on rehab loans and fixer upper homes.

To find out more, listen to this week’s show.


8/24 Radio Show: Jill Jedlicka

Your host, Peter Hunt, welcomes Jill Jedlicka to the show.

Jill Jedlicka is the Executive Director and Riverkeeper at Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper®.

Together, Peter leads the discussion on current projects going on at Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, such as training volunteers to monitor the water quality.

To find out more, listen to this week’s show.


HUNT Real Estate Named Exclusive Listing Broker for The West End Luxury Development on Buffalo Waterfront

Artist render of waterfront condos

HUNT Real Estate ERA has been named by Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation as the exclusive listing broker for The West End, a new luxury waterfront community in Buffalo, NY. The 20-unit complex, located on Lakefront Boulevard near Ojibwa Circle, is now available for sale. 

Located on one of the last buildable waterfront parcels in the City of Buffalo, each townhouse will have 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a 2-car attached garage, and feature 2,700-3,500 square feet of living space. List price starts at $850,000.

Deacon Tasker, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson for HUNT Real Estate ERA and listing agent for The West End, points out that the development’s refined amenities will cater to a discerning clientele who desire modern living and an active lifestyle. 

“The West End offers luxury living with high-end finishes and beautiful water views,” said Tasker. “Combined with the convenient downtown location and its variety of entertainment, dining, and nightlife options, I’m confident this development will be in high demand.”

The development’s website, WestEndBuffalo.com, offers prospective buyers more information about The West End, as well as the ability to view renderings, floor plans, and make an appointment. The West End is currently under construction with the first units ready for occupancy in Spring 2020.


Does Staging Your Home Make a Difference? NAR and Real Estate Agents say, “yes”

Door open to living room with white couch and wood floors.

We’ve written quite a bit about how to stage your home. You can find our staging blogs here:

But does staging make a difference?  The National Association of Realtors latest report says yes.

It helps buyers’ agents.

83% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for their buyer to visualize the property as their future home. Staging helps your potential buyers visualize themselves in your home. It helps to depersonalize your home and make it appeal to the largest audience possible. It can also make you more money. ¼ of buyer’s agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered on a home between 1-5% compared to similar homes with no staging. 17% of buyers’ agents said staging a home increased the dollar value between 6-10%.

It helps your agent sell your home.

Sellers’ agents love when their clients stage their homes. Not one survey respondent said that staging had a negative impact on the home’s dollar value. 65% of sellers’ agents said staging a home increased the dollar value offered on their listings to some degree. Staging also impacted the number of days your home could be on the market. 71% of survey respondents said staging had some effect on the decreased time the home was on the market.

What rooms should you stage?

If you’re looking to stage your home, expect to dish out a bit of cash. The average spend on staging was $400. If you’re looking for what rooms to stage, buyers agreed that the living room was most important to them, followed by the master bedroom and the kitchen. To get ready for showings, agents suggest you declutter, clean the entire home, and clean the carpets. Don’t forget to remove pets during showings, too!  

If you’re looking for advice on staging, your agent can be a great resource. Your listing agent can give you tips and advice on how to set your home up for a successful sale.


5 Proven Ways to Increase Home Value

man cutting wood on a table saw

Some factors that determine what a house is worth are out of your control, like its location and the popularity of that market. But you can keep up with repairs and make smart improvements, both proven ways to increase home value.

When thinking about how to increase home value, root your expectations in reality. Updates rarely recoup 100% of their cost, but they can make your family more comfortable and even help your home sell faster.

Whether you want to build equity faster or get top dollar when you sell, use the tips below to raise the value of your home.

1. Make it more attractive

Curb appeal — how your home looks from the street — is your first chance to make a good impression, says James Murrett, president of the Appraisal Institute, a professional association for real estate appraisers. A home’s exterior needs to make a prospective buyer want to walk through the front door.

Make sure existing landscaping is well-maintained. If your yard seems dull in comparison with your neighbors, consider planting flowers or repainting the front door.

Once the exterior looks good, focus on the kitchen and bathroom. When these two rooms are outdated, they can keep a property from reaching its highest valuation, Lori Noble, a senior residential appraiser (SRA) in Charleston, West Virginia, said in an email.

And you don’t have to spring for heated towel racks or marble floors, either. A minor kitchen remodel recoups 81% of its cost in added value on average, versus 53% for an upscale kitchen remodel with stone countertops, custom cabinets and commercial-grade appliances, according to Remodeling magazine’s “2018 Cost vs. Value Report.”

The same is true for bathrooms; a midrange remodel — new flooring and a few updated fixtures — delivers a 70% return on investment, while an upscale bathroom remodel — heated flooring, custom cabinets and designer fixtures — sees 56% on average.

2. Make it low-maintenance

Since many home buyers worry about buying a home that will need constant maintenance, replacing a major component before putting it up for sale — like the furnace, water heater or even the roof — may calm fears of an emergency repair in the near future and help get you a higher price.

Improvements that make things easy to clean and maintain may also increase home value. Consider replacing easily stained carpet with hardwood floors or replace high-maintenance wood siding with vinyl siding.

» MORE: 7 ways to pay for emergency home repairs

3. Make it more efficient

Energy conservation features can have a significant impact on home value, depending on what area of the country you’re in, Joanne Theunissen, chair of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers, said in an email. Energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs) allow borrowers to take on additional debt to cover both the purchase of the home as well as energy-efficient upgrades. EEMs can also offer lower mortgage rates to increase purchasing power, according to Energy.gov.

Consider double-paned windows, enhanced attic insulation, LED lighting and efficient appliances as a way to increase home value and entice energy-conscious buyers.

If you’re willing to go bigger, put solar panels on the roof. Thirty-nine percent of agents surveyed recently by the National Association of Realtors said solar panels increased perceived property value. But since solar panels are a big financial and structural commitment, they only make sense if you’re hoping to increase value over the long term, not looking for a quick boost in resale value.

Schedule an assessment with a certified energy auditor or your utility company to determine where your home is wasting energy and which upgrades will save you the most money.

» MORE: 6 energy-efficient upgrades that increase home value

4. Make it bigger

“Square footage has a huge impact on value,” Angie Martin, director of operations at Hales and Associates in Overland Park, Kansas, said in an email. Price per square foot is one way she helps clients compare homes that are similar in style and upgrades.

Bigger homes often command higher values, and even if an appraiser doesn’t officially acknowledge the full value of added space, a buyer will likely notice.

Adding a room is the obvious way to make your house bigger, but you can also create additional living space by finishing the basement or building a deck.

5. Make it smarter

Safety-enhancing gadgets top the list of “smart” technologies buyers want in their new homes, according to a 2018 survey by Coldwell Banker. These safe and smart devices include thermostats, fire detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, door locks and lighting.

While smart tech doesn’t always increase home value, it does add appeal, Tavia Galvin, a licensed Realtor in Arvada, Colorado, said in an email.

Those who see themselves as “techies” are more likely to pay more for these items, Martin said.

Unlike replacing the roof or renovating the bathroom, you can usually install these devices yourself for about $1,000 or less.

How to pay for improvements that increase value

If you can’t pay for home improvements in cash, be sure to choose the right method of financing.

Credit card: Putting home renovations on a credit card may be OK as long as you’ll be able to pay off the entire balance in a short amount of time.

Personal loan: If you don’t have enough equity for a home equity loan or HELOC, consider a personal loan. The interest rate will be higher than home-equity-based financing, but lower than a credit card in most cases.

Home equity loan or line of credit: These second mortgages turn your home’s equity into easily accessible funds. Home equity loans pay out in a lump sum while home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, are a line of financing you can borrow against over time. Both home equity loans and HELOCs have interest rates, fees, monthly payments and tax advantages to consider.

Cash-out refinance: If you’ve built up equity but don’t want a second mortgage, consider a cash-out refinance. You’ll take out a new home loan for more than your current mortgage balance and, after closing, the proceeds will be paid to you in cash. A cash-out refinance won’t make sense if your equity is limited or current mortgage rates are higher than your rate.

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Beth Buczynski is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: bbuczynski@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @bethbuczynski.

The article 5 Proven Ways to Increase Home Value originally appeared on NerdWallet.


The ‘Good Enough’ Home May Be Just Perfect

brown and tan home with green front lawn and blue sky

Constructed from aspirational Instagram feeds and reality TV, the dream home floats in the imagination like a castle in the sky but dissolves in the rain of hard numbers.

Chasing the dream can lure buyers to overextend themselves financially. Or the high prices can lead first-time home buyers to delay a home purchase — and the opportunity to start building home equity.

For many homebuyers, buying a “good enough” home can be a sounder strategy, particularly for those most eager to become homeowners.

“I’d rather see people buy a good enough home versus buying a dream home and being cash-strapped over the next 20 years,” says Alyssa Lum, certified financial planner and founder of Luminate Financial Planning in Herndon, Virginia.

Here’s the beauty of a good enough home.

It has the essentials

A good enough home may not have artisan tile or stainless steel appliances, but it has the essentials.

Look for a home that’s well-maintained, has “good bones” and is in a good location, says Kelly Roth, a real estate agent with Pearson Smith Realty in Ashburn, Virginia. A well-maintained home in a good location will likely increase in value and probably won’t be a money pit.

Buyers tend to home in on cosmetic upgrades, Roth says, but she advises focusing on basics, like windows, the roof and the heating and air conditioning system. Then you’re less likely to face surprise repairs just to make the house functional.

If you can’t have it all — and most people can’t — list the features you want, and decide where you’re willing to compromise.

Amber Miller, a certified financial planner with The Planning Center in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, bought her first home two years ago. It has features she wanted, such as hardwood floors and a separate dining area, but isn’t flawless.

One of the bathrooms has outdated salmon-pink tile. “I thought, well, it’s not beautiful but it’s clean and functional,” she says. “This isn’t going to be the house I’m in forever, but it’s good enough for now, and I love it.”

It fits your lifestyle

Roth tells of a couple who fell in love with a home that looked like a dream. But the commute to work — 90 minutes each way — became a nightmare.

“They bought it in August and sold it in March,” Roth says.

“Good” is personal. A big yard could be a must for a family with a dog, but a pain if you hate yard work.

And a good home matches your timeline. It should meet your needs for the years you plan to live there, which probably isn’t forever if it’s a first home, Roth says.

It doesn’t squeeze your budget

A good enough home has a reasonable price for your budget. Lum recommends keeping your debt-to-income ratio under 30%. That’s the percentage of gross monthly income that goes toward debt payments, including the mortgage.

Lenders will qualify buyers with considerably higher ratios. But that may not leave much for other expenses, says Trey Reed, a loan officer with MVB Mortgage near Washington, D.C.

“Maxing out (debt-to-income) is something I see people do, but not something I recommend,” Reed says.

A good enough home leaves you with enough money for other priorities, such as saving for retirement and emergencies, and for all the costs of ownership besides the mortgage. That includes home insurance, property taxes, utilities, and maintenance.

Fifty-five percent of homeowners — 68% of those ages 21 to 34 — had regrets about their preparation for the homebuying process, according to Bank of the West’s 2018 Millennial Study. The top regret for all age groups: costly maintenance.

Miller says to budget about 1% to 3% of the home’s value annually for maintenance.

It can be transformed

Over time, you can add dreamy features.

When shopping for a home this year in Leesburg, Virginia, Jenny and Mike Virbickis found a beautifully upgraded house priced $75,000 more than they planned to spend. They kept looking and found a home that fits their budget.

“I’d rather have a house my family can grow into and we can fix up to make it our own rather than something we can’t afford,” Jenny says.

Their home has space for their toddler to play, is structurally sound and is in the neighborhood they wanted. Eventually, they’ll make home improvements. But for now, it’s perfect. After a block party in their cul-de-sac recently, Jenny says, “I came home and said, ‘This is where we were meant to be.’”

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

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Barbara Marquand is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: bmarquand@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @barbaramarquand.

The article The ‘Good Enough’ Home May Be Just Perfect originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Look Who’s Moved to HUNT Real Estate ERA

We are pleased to welcome the following sales professionals to the HUNT Real Estate ERA family. Their association further affirms our commitment to offering the highest level of service to our clients.

Buffalo/Niagara Region


Rochester Region


Central & Northern NY Region


Capital Region


Arizona Region


WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN HUNT?
HERE ARE JUST A FEW REASONS…

The Most Productive Agents 

The HUNT® Reputation
Rankings & Accolades

  • #1 Family-Owned and Operated Real Estate Firm in New York State
  • Top-Ranked Broker in the ERA Real Estate network 
  • Ranked #35 on REAL Trends Top 500 Brokerages Survey* 
  • Gene Francis Memorial Award Winner Honoring ERA’s Top All-Around Company 
  • Member of Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate 
  • Ranked one of Western New York’s Fastest-Growing Companies

The Most Productive Agents 

  • 1600 Licensed Real Estate Professionals in 50+ Branches
    • 13,000+ Transactions
    • $2.756 Billion in Closed Sales
    • Per Person Productivity of Nearly 9 Transactions

If you’re ready to take advantage of everything we have to offer AND make more money, join HUNT Real Estate ERA today!

*Source: 2019 REAL Trends 500 | Ranked by Closed Transaction Sides