The Hidden Costs of Owning a Home: 7 Best Ways to Budget for Unexpected Expenses

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Top 10 Entrepreneurs to Follow in 2024

Amidst the vibrant landscape of business in 2024, today we introduce you to the 'Top 10 Entrepreneurs to Follow in 2024' – a group of leaders making waves as the 'Best Business Leaders' of the year. From digital marketing to real estate to success coaching, these entrepreneurs have made their mark in their respective fields and bring diverse backgrounds to the fore. Join us as we explore their stories, strategies, and find out why they are someone you will definitely want to keep an eye on on this exciting journey. 3. Joshua Morrow, Entrepreneur Meet Joshua Morrow, an Estate Director of AKG | Christie's International Real Estate which is a brokerage of 180+ agents. With over $1.9 billion in team sales by 2022, Joshua's leadership has shined, helping AKG | Christie's International Real Estate to become the #1 real estate team in Los Angeles. Hailing from Atlanta, Joshua transitioned from music to real estate, winning awards and selling dream homes. Now in Beverly Hills, he not only excels in property deals, but also advocates for issues such as homelessness, children with special needs, struggling youth, suicide prevention and supporting shelter animals. Despite professional victories, Joshua respects his friends, considering them an integral part of his family. After experiencing temporary homelessness at age 21, he understands the value of real relationships. His dream extends far beyond real estate success; He instinctively wants to support his family and provide shelter to needy children. His hobbies include flying, traveling, and learning about different cultures and foods around the world, having visited over 50 countries. In the symphony of Joshua's life, AKG | Christie's International Real Estate, friends and family create a harmonious chord of success, compassion and real relationships. https://biz.crast.net/top-10-entrepreneurs-to-follow-in-2024/

6 Features That are Devaluing your Bathroom Right Now, According to Realtors — How Many are in Yours?

Bathroom renovations don't come cheap, but this isn't a place for compromises. As one of the most practical places within the home quality should always be a priority, and skimping on the job could come at a bigger cost than you first thought. Whether you're planning a full-scale renovation or only have the budget for some DIY updates, you'll want to make sure your bathroom is free from features that could devalue your home. Be it a dated style or deeper underlying issues, there are plenty of things you might have learned to live with yet will stand out like a sore thumb to prospective buyers. If you want to increase your chances of a sale, it's vital that you pay close attention to the modern bathroom features that will add value, as well as those that won't. To find out more, we spoke with some professional realtors to learn exactly what to avoid to give your bathroom the biggest appeal possible. Here's what they had to say. 1. INADEQUATE VENTILATION It might not be an obvious thought, but a lack of adequate ventilation in a bathroom can really impact the value of your space, say experts. As steamy spots, it's vital you avoid a build-up of moisture and condensation which could lead to bigger problems further down the line, especially in small bathrooms. 'Overlooking ventilation is a big mistake,' explains Yawar Charlie, director of estates division at AKG | Christie's International Real Estate. 'Without proper airflow, your sleek bathroom could become a damp, moldy mess. It’s like hosting a fancy dinner and forgetting to ventilate the kitchen – a surefire recipe for disaster.' To keep everything smelling fresh and looking clean, be sure to install a fan or, at the very least, functioning windows. 2. A LACK OF LIGHT These days, it's increasingly common for bathrooms to be built without external windows. If you can't improve the natural light within your space, make sure you have plenty of artificial bathroom lighting, including a practical light source and one that serves a more aesthetic purpose. As California-based real estate agent Lindsey Harn notes: 'The bathroom should always be light bright and clean.' Yawar agrees. 'Treating lighting like a trivial detail?' he asks. 'Think again. The right lighting can make your bathroom look like it’s straight out of a luxury magazine. It’s the difference between a masterpiece and a missed opportunity. Aim for a mix of overhead and accent lighting to keep your bathroom looking lit (in all the right ways).' A simple way to improve your bathroom and add a hint of luxury to appeal to potential buyers is by adding some strip lights behind a mirror for a backlit effect or flanking a vanity with sconces. 3. SIGNS OF MAINTENANCE NEGLECT 'Any signs of mold, mildew, or cracked tiles can really devalue a home, as it may be signs of even more problems that you can’t see,' Lindsey says. While you may have ignored these niggles for so long that you no longer notice them, visitors are sure to spot any signs of neglected maintenance as soon as they cross the threshold, so make sure you carry out any updates before your property goes on the market. In the majority of cases, these sorts of updates are easy to do yourself. Treat any mildewy areas or flaking paint with a fresh lick of anti-mold paint, and consider regrouting and resealing your shower or bath if it's looking worse for wear. The same goes for the likes of dripping faucets, chipped tiles, or poor water pressure. these inexpensive bathroom upgrades can make a world of difference. 4. UNIFORM MATERIALS You might think that mismatched materials make for the cleanest, most appealing look in a bathroom, but Yawar says that couldn't be further from the truth. 'Using the same material everywhere is like wearing socks with sandals – just don’t,' he says. 'Your bathroom deserves better.' While decking your space with the latest bathroom trends might be tempting, a space that's dominated by only brushed brass hardware could be overkill. The same goes for stones like marble, too. 'Mix it up with different textures and materials,' says Yawar. 'It’s not just about functionality; it’s about creating a space that has its own personality. A little variety can transform your bathroom from blah to beautiful.' 5. OUTDATED FIXTURES AND FITTINGS Outdated bathroom trends are a surefire way to turn buyers away from your home, according to realtors. 'Outdated flooring, such as carpet in the bathroom or vintage vinyl, can be a real turn-off,' says Lindsey. Rather than buy into passing fads that quickly date your space, opt for timeless features instead that will guarantee a return on your investment even in years to come. The same goes for unique design choices, too. While we're all about expressing your own personal style, it might be worth toning things down if you're trying to sell. As Lindsey points out: 'Super loud colors, wild wallpaper, or outdated chandeliers can really devalue a space.' A lick of neutral paint before you put your home on the market can bring bathroom space back down to earth and will have wider appeal. 6. INSUFFICIENT STORAGE Last but not least, don't fall victim to the pitfalls of bathroom storage - and by that, we mean a lack of it. 'Neglecting storage is like having a library with no shelves - chaos ensues,' says Yawar. 'Sleek, smart storage solutions are essential to keep your bathroom looking organized and elegant.' 'A cluttered bathroom is a style faux pas you don’t want to commit,' he goes on to explain. 'Remember, a place for everything and everything in its place.' If space is at a premium, look for multifunctional solutions that don't sacrifice style for seamless storage that isn't even noticeable (but be sure to point it out to any prospective buyers!) 'By steering clear of these pitfalls, your bathroom renovation will be less about fixing mistakes and more about basking in the glory of a job well done,' Yawar adds. Now you can have a bathroom that buyers won't be able to forget! https://www.livingetc.com/advice/6-features-that-are-devaluing-your-bathroom-right-now-according-to-realtors-how-many-are-in-yours

How to Calculate Square Footage (And Why Most People Mess It Up)

If you’re looking to add a useful life skill to your metaphorical tool kit, consider learning how to calculate square footage. There are countless situations when calculating how many square feet are in a space comes in handy, from renting or buying a home to furnishing a place. The ability to calculate square footage also unlocks the door to lots of DIY projects. To help teach you how to calculate square footage and how to use this knowledge to your advantage, we consulted two experts who work with this metric every single day: Greer Bronson, a Los Angeles–based real estate agent for AKG | Christie’s International Real Estate, and Anne McDonald, a Minneapolis-based interior designer with a background in construction. Thanks to their insight, we’ve outlined everything you need to know. What is square footage? Square footage is the two-dimensional area of a space measured in square feet (which is sometimes denoted as sq. ft.). It’s the total area of every bit of floor in a room, home, or building. The term “usable square footage” is often used in real estate or interior design settings to describe the portion of the square footage that can actually be lived in, so it wouldn’t include an unfinished basement or a technical closet. How do I calculate square footage? Bronson and McDonald agree that, in the simplest terms, the formula for calculating square footage is length (in feet) multiplied by width (in feet). But in reality, calculating square footage is more complicated than this basic formula, because many rooms are not a perfect rectangle. So the two experts helped us break down what you need to do, step by step. Step 1: Measure the space. Before you can calculate the square footage of a space, you need to determine its dimensions. Dimensions typically include length, width, and height, but you won’t be using height to calculate square footage. You can easily determine the length and width of your space with a tried-and-true old-school tape measure, which is how McDonald prefers it be done. Simply stretch the measuring tape from one side of the wall to the other and record each accurate measurement on a piece of paper. For rectangular rooms, measuring the length and width is straightforward because there are only two measurements to take. When it comes to oddly-shaped rooms, we recommend dividing the space into smaller, rectangular sections and measuring the dimensions of each one. Measuring each niche and nook on its own will make it easier to calculate the square footage. If you’re calculating the square footage of an entire home, you should also measure closets, hallways, and staircases. You can also use newer technology, like a laser measuring tool or a 3D camera, to determine the dimensions of your space. Appraisers often use such tools because they have the ability to calculate square footage for you too. “There are a lot of ways to measure digitally and I've seen that becoming more prevalent,” Bronson says. “The top two machines that I’ve seen are the Magpie and Matterport. Magpie is a laser that you can shoot at the wall and it'll calculate it all for you and create a floor plan. Matterport is a 3D camera that creates 3D house tours.” Step 2: Apply the square footage formula. Once you have measured your dimensions, you apply the formula, length x width, to determine how many square feet are in your space. If you’ve divided your space into smaller rectangles to account for an oddly shaped room, you apply this formula to the dimensions of each rectangle and then add all the products together to get the total square footage of the space. The same formula works if you’re determining how many square inches, square yards, or square meters are in a space, assuming you’re measuring in those units of measurement. Alternatively, you can use an online square footage calculator, which does the math for you when you plug in your measurements. Why should I know how to calculate square footage? For renting, buying, or listing a home. According to Bronson, knowing how to calculate square footage is crucial if you’re renting or buying a home because the listing is not always accurate. “On a lot of listings, there'll be a caveat like, ‘Agent does not confirm square footage. Please measure yourself.’ Or something along those lines so they can't be held liable if they’re a few square feet off,” she shares. Calculating the home’s square footage yourself will ensure it’s accurate and you’re getting what you pay for. Similarly, knowing how to calculate square footage is helpful if you’re a homeowner listing your home too. “It allows you to get the best, fairest price for your listing,” Bronson explains. “If your house is actually larger than you thought, then you could get a lot more money for it. And vice versa, you don't want to dupe your seller or your potential buyers. You want to give them as much information as possible so there are no bad surprises.” For designing a home. As an interior designer, McDonald uses the square footage of a home to dictate the cost of a project. “Right out of the gates, planning how much the client is going to spend on furniture, as well as how much time it’s going to take us to do what we do, comes down to square footage,” she confirms. And though it’s not an exact science, she’s currently developing a formula to calculate how much her average client spends per square foot on furniture, materials, and design fees. Square footage also comes into play when McDonald sources and arranges furniture, especially in a living room. Of course, larger rooms require more furniture than smaller rooms in order to fill the space—but they’re also styled differently. Living rooms with more square footage tend to have floating furniture, which means the furniture stands away from the walls. The sofas are closer to the center of the room, while accent pieces occupy the perimeter. In smaller rooms, the walls are used to anchor the furniture. “Larger rooms, you float and smaller rooms, you don’t,” McDonald says. “When I think about the potential of a room, I immediately think, Are we floating the furniture or not? And if we’re floating it, then everything gets upped. The amount of spend on that room gets upped. My design time gets upped because it’s just a lot more involved. It just breaks down to square footage.” For a DIY home improvement project. General contractors use square footage to figure out the amount of materials they need for any given project by dividing the square footage of the space by the square footage of the material. This then makes it possible for them to determine the total cost of materials. You should do the same when embarking upon a DIY home improvement project, whether you’re painting the walls, installing new flooring, or tiling a bathroom. This will allow you to both acquire everything you need with one trip to the store (or online shop!) and be prepared for the financial undertaking of a project before you start. Just remember to buy 5–10% more materials than you’ve calculated that you need, in case of unforeseen events like spillage and breakage. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/how-to-calculate-square-footage

Mansion above Sunset Boulevard pushes up asking price to $43M

The Bird Streets and adjacent neighborhoods want to fly high on asking prices. A newly constructed mansion in Hollywood Hills West at 1680 North Doheny Drive listed on Jan. 24 for $43 million, making it one of the priciest offerings in the enclave above Sunset Boulevard. The seller is Texas-headquartered entity Caydon La Hills Residential Property, a limited liability company linked to Australian developer Caydon Property Group, which bought the property in 2018 for $5.4 million. At a time when the luxury market is soft, a number of sellers in the Hollywood Hills and Bird Streets markets are looking up. According to a Zillow search, the next priciest option in the neighborhood is in the Bird Streets at 1380 Mockingbird Place, priced for about $40 million. Another area home in the same price range is 1851 North Stanley Avenue at $38 million. Outliers include the mansion at 1898 Rising Glen Road, which listed for $78 million during October. The Doheny Drive home’s listing agents are Aaron Kirman of AKG | Christie’s International Real Estate and Branden and Rayni Williams of The Beverly Hills Estates. Kirman said he was bullish on the price for the house because of its architectural design by Vantage Design Group; it’s built into a rocky promontory overlooking Los Angeles. “It’s a super trophy site,” Kirman said. Jason Oppenheim, a veteran of Bird Streets deals and president of The Oppenheim Group, forecast the property would sell somewhere in the $30 millions. “I think it’s on the low end of aspirational,” Oppenheim said of 1680 North Doheny. While he forecast that the Bird Streets area market would eventually command asks of $100 million, the current market probably would not justify the asking price for 1680 North Doheny. Oppenheim brokered area deals such as 8408 Hillside Avenue, where he served as a co-listing agent for a $36 million deal in 2019. He currently represents a neighboring house to 1680 North Doheny. His listing with Mary Fitzgerald at 1375 North Doheny Drive has an ask for $28.5 million. Based on more than an acre, the 13,500-square-foot house features concrete and steel materials, according to a listing description. The home also offers amenities such as a commercial elevator, 4,000 square feet of outdoor deck space, an infinity edge pool, a spa and gardens with a citrus grove. https://therealdeal.com/la/2024/01/26/mansion-over-sunset-boulevard-pushes-asking-price-to-43m/

‘Case Study’ Architect Pierre Koenig’s Own Modernist House Is Selling for Nearly $5 Million

The personal Los Angeles residence of Pierre Koenig—a mid-century architect behind some of the city’s iconic Case Study Houses, including one of the most recognizable homes in the U.S.—has hit the market for $4.995 million. “Pierre Koenig is one of the greatest architects of our time and created the most photographed home in Los Angeles, the Stahl House, so to own his residence is a trophy unto itself,” said Dalton Gomez of Christie’s International RE | AKG, who is handling the sale of the property with colleague Aaron Kirman. Koenig built the steel home—historically archived as “Koenig House No. 2” by the L.A. Conservancy—for himself and his wife, Gloria, in 1985. Staggered over three-levels, the light-filled three-bedroom residence has an open floor plan with rooms that either flow together or are divided by glass walls. At its center is a three-story atrium, crisscrossed by walkways and staircases that connect the two sides of the upper floors. The house “is extremely unique because of the all-metal infrastructure,” Gomez said. “The bedrooms open up to the living space, which then opens to the courtyard, which gives the home this type of jewelry-box feel,” Gomez said. “The front room was used as [Koenig’s] office,” he added, and the space is still intact. “It’s interesting to think what properties and work he created in that office.” For potential buyers, the most appealing part of the home could be that “it comes with bragging rights that it was chosen by Pierre to be the space he lived and created in for so many years,” he said. The house remained in Koenig’s family for some time after his death, and was restored by his stepchildren. It last changed hands in 2017 for $3.46 million. The owners couldn’t be reached for comment. Koenig, who was also a professor of architecture at the University of Southern California, died in 2004 at the age of 78. His “sleek glass-and-steel houses became emblems of the progressive values of Postwar suburbia,” the Los Angeles Times wrote in his obituary. He was integral in the creation of the city’s Case Study Houses, which were experiments in American residential architecture sponsored by the now-defunct Arts & Architecture magazine. Prominent architects like Koenig, along with Charles and Ray Eames, A. Quincy Jones and Ralph Rapson, were challenged to design and build replicable, inexpensive and efficient model homes as the U.S faced a housing boom caused by the return of millions of soldiers following the end of World War II. Koenig’s Case Study House No. 21, the Bailey House, and No. 22, the Stahl House, are possibly the most famous of them all. The Stahl House, which in 2013 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1959 and has since been the backdrop in numerous fashion shoots, films, and advertising campaigns. It was made famous by a Julius Shulman photograph showing two women relaxing in a corner of the house with a panoramic view of the city through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls behind them. https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/case-study-architect-pierre-koenigs-own-modernist-house-is-selling-for-nearly-5-million-9d26b122

You Can Own This Architecture Icon’s Personal L.A. Home for $5 Million

It’s rare to own a home from one of the greats of modernist architecture, especially one that remains true to the architect’s original design. It’s even more extraordinary to own one designed by the architect as his own home. Archived by the L.A. Conservancy as “Koenig House 2,” a 3,000-square-foot residence in L.A.’s Brentwood neighborhood that midcentury master Pierre Koenig built in 1985 as his personal residence is now available for $4.995 million. Aaron Kirman and Dalton Gomez of AKG | Christie’s International Real Estate hold the listing. Koenig died in 2004 at the age of 78, and his wife Gloria owned the carefully maintained home until 2017, when it was sold for almost $3.5 million. The kitchen and bathrooms have since been updated in a manner that respects and complements Koenig’s original designs. A series of interconnected cubic volumes that step back from the street, the home represents the late-career apotheosis of the innovative architect’s design ethos and his vision for residential architecture in the 21st century. Koenig was an early adopter and champion of industrial, prefabricated, and economical materials, and his designs often made use of natural ventilation. The three-bedroom and two-and-a-half-bath home’s I-beam steel-frame armature supports vast expanses of glass and a 30-foot ceiling in the central atrium that is crisscrossed by a geometric assemblage of bridges and staircases. Beyond the secured gates and serene courtyard entry, the main-floor living spaces include a fireside lounge, a cozy, shelf-lined library nook, and a sleekly updated, open-plan kitchen and dining area that spills out to the swimming pool. The 30-foot interior atrium creates a vertical space where, on hot days, warm air rises and escapes through the atrium to cool the home. Clerestory windows shower the atrium with natural light, and interior walls of glass allow the sunlight to filter into the upper-level bedrooms. And because the Koenigs were music lovers, ceiling heights were carefully planned for an optimal environment for listening to and playing music. At the back, between the house and a detached garage, a courtyard patio has a small swimming pool with an automated cover. The back of the garage cleverly peels open to create a huge, covered patio for alfresco entertaining. Koenig is best known for Case Study House #22 (the Stahl House) in the Hollywood Hills, often cited as one of the most photographed houses in the world. The previous year, he designed the less dramatically sited yet no less innovative Case Study House #21 (Bailey House), also in the Hollywood Hills, for which he and Gloria posed for promotional photographs. https://robbreport.com/shelter/celebrity-homes/pierre-koenig-los-angeles-home-for-sale-1235488356/

Mansion Built Into a Hollywood Hills Cliffside Lists for $43 Million

A newly constructed Los Angeles trophy home that takes living in the Hollywood Hills to another level has hit the market for $43 million. Not simply within the neighborhood, the 13,500-square-foot contemporary abode, set among the city’s posh Bird Streets, is built directly into the hills themselves. It’s also among the priciest homes currently for sale in the Hollywood Hills. “The home is recessed 110 feet into a granite cliff,” explained architect Russell Holthouse of Vantage Design Group, which designed the property. “Very few homes have this site and situation.” It’s “a structural concrete house,” Holthouse added. “Which is extremely rare in Los Angeles, and designed to last an eternity.” The five-bedroom property took a whopping eight years to build, according to Aaron Kirman of AKG Christie’s International Real Estate, who is handling the sale of the home alongside Branden and Rayni Williams of the Beverly Hills Estates. The result is “the ultimate castle in the sky,” that’s “one of the most unique trophy estates in Los Angeles,” Kirman said. Inside, the open-plan home has a cantilevered glass living room, a dining space, and a kitchen with stone counters. Its many amenities include a gym, a yoga room, a spa, and a primary suite with a private sitting area, a spa-like bathroom and a walk-in closet. There’s also huge walls of glass that open up to the outdoors, a sculptural staircase, warm wood accents, automated blackout shades, a commercial elevator, a 12-car garage and far-reaching views. Outside, drought tolerant landscaping is joined by walking paths and a citrus grove, as well as a sizable 4,000-square-foot deck space that has an infinity edge pool with a spa and a sunken seating area. “The sunken fire pit with jetliner views of the city gives you the quintessential L.A. life,” Branden Williams said. https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/mansion-built-in-a-hollywood-hills-cliffside-lists-for-43-million-e3d59109

Steve Wynn lowers the price of Beverly Hills estate to $75M

Raising the stakes for Steve Wynns’s Beverly Hills estate seems out of the question at this point in the game. The casino mogul’s 11-bedroom, 16-bathroom mansion at 1210 Benedict Canyon Drive has been on and off the market for a few years. On Jan. 17, its price dropped about 12 percent. The property is currently listed for $75 million, or $2,762 per square foot, according to listing websites. A year ago, the 27,000-square-foot estate was listed for $85 million. Its initial off-market ask in 2020 was $135 million. The price cut for Wynn’s house follows a tough year for L.A.’s luxury home market, where agents have counseled sellers in almost every segment to bring down prices. However, the cuts raise a perennial question on ultra luxury properties: How do you price a one-of-a-kind home? The answer depends as much on the seller as the buyer. Sellers of ultra luxury homes often start high with aspirational pricing, said Anthony Marguleas of Amalfi Estates headquartered in Pacific Palisades. And few comparables to these estates exist to confirm a value, Marguleas added. “Most never sell and are ultimately taken off the market. So it is more unusual when one sells than when it doesn’t,” Marguleas said. Eventually, the over-priced aspirations come down to meet reality. Price reductions of 30 to 50 percent are not uncommon for luxe homes in this market, Marguleas noted. The air is rare indeed for the upper reaches of L.A.’s residential market. Marguleas’ research, based on MLS data and public records, found that only about 13 properties in Los Angeles County sold for more than $100 million between 2016, when 301 Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills sold for $100 million, to 2023, when music stars Jay-Z and Beyoncé bought 27712 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu for about $200 million. Aaron Kirman, the agent who started AKG Christie’s International Real Estate brokerage, recommended not counting out the viability of deals for homes asking $100 million and above. There are buyers willing to pay more than $100 million for these homes, he maintains. ”But it has to be worthy,” Kirman said of individual ultra luxury listings.“Prices in the uber luxury segment have gone down. We have to meet where the buyers are. … We also have to see how far you can push the envelope on behalf of sellers.” Wynn’s Beverly Hills estate stretches out over 2.7 acres and offers amenities such as a championship tennis court and a resort-style gym. It is listed by Kurt Rappaport and Drew Meyers of Westside Estate Agency. Rappaport did not return a text requesting comment by press time. https://therealdeal.com/la/2024/01/18/steve-wynn-lowers-price-of-beverly-hills-estate-to-75m/

7 Things That are Devaluing Your Kitchen, Say Experts — ‘Get Rid of Them if you Ever Plan to Sell!’

The kitchen is the sort of space where nobody likes to compromise. As the heart of the home, this room takes a higher priority than virtually any other for potential buyers, so every choice you make for yours matters more than you think. Whether you're planning a full-scale renovation or just a few easy updates, you'll want to make sure you aren't falling victim to some common pitfalls if you want your kitchen to see a return on your investment. Even if you've found your forever home, it'll inevitably be on the market one day. When the time comes, you don't want to be carrying out costly renovations just to increases the chances of a sale. That's why it's important to pay close attention to the features that will add value in the interim - or, more importantly, those that won't. We spoke to real estate agents and expert kitchen designers to find out what could be devaluing your modern kitchen right now and here are seven answers that might surprise you - get rid of them now if you ever plan to sell. 1. BOLD COLOR CHOICES A bright white kitchen with white cabinets, wooden drawers, wood flooring, and marble countertops Ask any real estate agent and they'll tell you the same thing - the most easily avoidable error when it comes to your home's value is choosing bold, garish colors or 'out there' designs. If you want wide appeal, it's best to opt for a neutral color scheme and a pared-back style. That applies to kitchens, too. 'When choosing color combinations, it's advisable to approach more unconventional palettes with caution,' suggests Bob Bakes, designer and co-founder of Bakes & Kropp kitchens. 'Opt for designs are widely approachable, as potential buyers seek designs that align with their tastes and lifestyles. If you're considering more distinctive elements, tailor their design to fit within the greater scheme to make it more palatable for broad tastes.' This doesn't mean you can't choose characterful colors or make unique design choices, but you should ensure these features are easily adaptable and make the effort to turn down the dial before putting your home on the market. 2. IMPRACTICAL COUNTERTOPS A kitchen countertop that isn't hard-wearing is hardly worth spending your money on. Yes, we want our surfaces to be aesthetic choices as well as practical ones, but marrying both form and function must absolutely be on the agenda. That means that some of those beautiful countertop materials could actually be devaluing your space if they don't rank highly on the durability front and yes, that includes marble. 'Marble countertops are less well-perceived than they once were as better options for durability have entered the market,' explain Bob. 'Materials like quartz and quartzite not only provide stunning aesthetics but also offer enhanced durability, making them more suitable for the demands of avid cooks and active families.' 3. INADEQUATE LIGHTING A bright, light, and airy kitchen isn't only pleasant to look at and spend time in, but a marker of a expertly designed and well-rounded space - something which will certainly appeal to prospective buyers. Although not all of us are blessed with lofty kitchens with huge skylights of floor-to-ceiling windows, there are some simple changes you can make to add value to your space through kitchen lighting. 'As functionality is often a top priority, inadequate lighting can significantly diminish the value of a kitchen,' notes Bob. 'Strategically light key food preparation and cooking areas with focused task lighting, and incorporate warmer, ambient lighting in spaces designated for entertaining or dining.' This could be as simple as installing some wireless under-cabinet lighting strips like these ones from Walmart, or just introducing a table lamp to your countertop. Sometimes, you might have to make more drastic changes such as add a window, or knock down a wall for an open plan space that invites more natural light. As California-based real estate agent Lindsey Harn notes: 'A kitchen without a window, that is small, tight and dark can certainly bring down the value of your home.' 4. DATED OR SHABBY CABINETRY It goes without saying, but dated, worn, or shabby cabinets won't be doing your kitchen any favors. Sometimes this calls for a renovation, but other times it could just be a case of fitting new hinges or adding some fresh hardware. Lindsey identifies misaligned cabinetry or cabinets that don't fully close as a common pitfall. 'They make the whole home seem cheap and give the signal the whole home may have taken shortcuts,' she says. If your budget permits, swap out old kitchen cabinets for new ones, but don't be pulled in by short-lived trends. 'Today's trendy is tomorrow's tacky,' explains Yawar Charlie, director of estates division at AKG | Christie's International Real Estate. 'Go for timeless over trendy to keep your kitchen from looking like a kitchen design time capsule.' 5. CLUTTER OR A LACK OF SPACE Clutter is so easily avoided, and while a lived-in look paints a picture of reality, it won't be adding value to your home when potential buyers come looking. Luckily, it's easy enough to declutter a kitchen in just one day, and making the effort could secure you a sale. Cluttered countertops aside, however, there may be a more systemic issue at play. If your kitchen lacks storage, you might want to invest in some smart solutions to avoid devaluing your home. 'A countertop shouldn't double as a storage unit,' says Yawar. 'If you can't find space to chop an onion, it's time to rethink your design. Likewise, squeezing in chairs like it's a game of Tetris is not cool. Balance is key – a kitchen should be a place to move, not a hurdle course.' 6. BUDGET APPLIANCES 'Appliances are another key indicator of perceived value, so investing in premium, high-end appliances can markedly elevate the kitchen's appeal,' Bob says. Sometimes we have to settle for budget-friendly options when it comes to appliances, but if you want to avoid your home looking cheap, make sure they're out of sight when staging your home or - better still - commit to an upgrade. 'Mis-matched appliances or low end appliances that don't match the rest of the quality of the home can bring down the value,' adds Lindsey. 'On the flipside, missing important features - like a trash drawer, garbage disposal or dishwasher - when those things are considered customary, can also bring down the value.' If you really want to add value to your home, smart kitchen appliances could make or break a sale. 7. TOO MANY APPLIANCES On a similar note, however, one too many appliances can overwhelm anyone looking to buy your home. 'Imagine a kitchen where you can't find the fridge for the forest of gadgets,' says Yawar. 'Keep it sleek, and hide away what you don't use daily.' Opting for integrated appliances, as pictured above, is a simple way to keep unsightly appliances tucked away. Use these seven points as guidance when selling your home if you want your much-loved kitchen to be a real return on your investment, and don't fall victim to passing fads that could cost your more in the long run. As Yawar summarises: 'Remember, a kitchen should be functional, stylish, and above all, a reflection of good taste!' https://www.livingetc.com/advice/things-that-devalue-a-kitchen

As ‘Mansion Taxes’ Catch On in US Cities, Los Angeles Offers Lessons

The new villain on the seventh season of the hit reality real estate show Selling Sunset wasn’t a sassy new luxury broker not there to make friends. It was a real estate tax. “Makes me nauseous even thinking about it,” real estate agent Mary Bonnet said of the so-called mansion tax in the season’s first episode, as she surveyed the living room of a $26 million eight-bedroom home in Brentwood. The tax, known as Measure ULA, was pitched in 2022 as a fix to Los Angeles’ dire housing crisis. Passed by ballot measure with 58% of voters in favor, the measure created a new land transfer fee on real estate transactions over $5 million, and directed the proceeds to affordable housing projects, tenant protections and homelessness prevention efforts. Researchers projected it could earn the city upwards of $900 million annually, money that could start bringing people off the streets. But since Measure ULA went into effect in April, it has only raised about $142 million — far off track of reaching that estimate. A mix of political and economic forces have helped to slow sales of high-value real estate. In the year after the mansion tax passed last November, national interest rates spiked and home sales slumped, while strikes shut down Hollywood. But resistance to the tax may have also influenced the market. In March, sellers rushed to push through sales before it went into effect. Landlords and an anti-tax lobbying group challenged the tax in court, delaying the disbursement of funds for affordable housing. Concerns that the tax is a chief obstacle to selling luxury homes have been amplified by a Netflix-sized megaphone: On Selling Sunset, agents have been able to share concerns with millions of global viewers. “You don’t have as many buyers out there trying to buy; we don’t have as many sellers willing to sell,” Bonnet, who is vice president of The Oppenheim Group, said on camera. Some critics say the tax is also deterring the development of multifamily housing that would help alleviate housing constraints. “To say that this tax has been counterproductive is an understatement,” said Bonnet in a follow-up email to Bloomberg CityLab. The backlash in LA comes as many cities look to advance similar measures. “I think we could preemptively declare 2024 to be the year of the mansion tax,” said Andrew Boardman, a local policy analyst for the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning think tank. As the housing market stabilizes, the real estate industry adapts, and various lawsuits move through the appeals process, advocates say the tax will prove its worth. By November, monthly sales over $5 million had nearly tripled since cratering in April, bringing in nearly $14 million for Measure ULA. “It’s not a silver bullet, even at its fullest manifestation,” said Greg Good, a senior advisor to the Los Angeles Housing Department. “But it is the closest thing to a needle-mover that we’ve even come close to.” Other cities faced with local housing crises of their own aren’t waiting to jump aboard the mansion tax train. Nearly 70% of Santa Fe voters approved a tax on residential real estate sales over $1 million in November 2023, with the proceeds earmarked for affordable housing; Chicago voters will have the chance to decide on a similar tax this year. In Seattle, the vast majority of voters approved a broader property tax increase that’s expected to raise nearly $1 billion to support low-income renters over seven years. And while the “mansion tax” branding and momentum may feel novel, applying taxes on real estate transfers to fund public priorities is tried and true. Such measures already exist in more than a dozen other localities, including New York City and San Francisco, according to Boardman. “Economically, practically, politically, they've proven quite effective, especially within the very limited toolbox of local government finance,” he said. Until now, most of these transfer taxes have done their job “really without much fanfare or controversy,” Boardman said. The story is different in Los Angeles. Not Just Mansions In the campaign for Measure ULA, the sell to voters was simple: Help us pay for affordable homes by taxing super-expensive ones. “It seems like a no-brainer — we still think it’s a no-brainer — to put a tiny tax on mega-mansions to have a big impact on our affordable housing crisis and to prevent our growing crisis of houselessness,” said Joe Donlin, the director of United to House LA, a coalition of more than 100 advocacy groups, tenants’ rights organizations, nonprofits and unions that authored and organized around Measure ULA. Seventy percent of the proceeds are meant to be put toward affordable housing production, and the other 30% to homelessness prevention. The redistributive impulse has inspired other cities, says Yonah Freemark, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. “People do not think that the distribution of resources in our society are fair, and think that one way to fund affordable housing is to ask that there be some redistribution.” But one of the biggest sticking points among LA developers is that despite the marketing, Measure ULA doesn’t only apply to mansions. Although single-family homes represent the largest share of its projected revenue at 38%, the tax also applies to most multifamily developments, office buildings and hotels. “If the community really knew that this was a tax on every single property that exists north of $5 million, I don’t know if the outcome would be the same,” said Richard Heyman, a real estate developer in the LA area and the founder of Heyman Development. This isn’t unique to Los Angeles, says Boardman: Nearly all US property transfer taxes apply to more than just single-family homes. Because Measure ULA applies to apartments that could include affordable units, there were fears even before the tax passed that it could deter the development of sorely needed housing. With construction costs, inflation and interest rates all elevated, developers consider the tax another blow. Sellers must pay an extra 4% of the entire purchase price for any sales over $5 million, or an extra 5.5% on sales over $5 million. The tax “creates a layer of extra precaution for people to really start a project,” said Jason Somers, the founder and chief executive officer of Crest Real Estate, an LA-based project management firm for the industry. A 2022 UCLA study somewhat assuaged concerns about affordable housing, suggesting that the tax would have little impact on multifamily construction, in part because developers rarely sell their properties right after building them. Experts say the cost of the tax can also make it harder for developers to get financing from banks, however. Shane Phillips, the housing initiative project manager at the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and one of the authors of the UCLA paper, warns that because of this, applying the tax to first sales of multifamily units could kill more affordable apartments than it ends up paying for.

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