Coronavirus Forcing Home Buyers to Scramble to Close Deals


Real-estate agents are rushing to help home buyers and sellers close pending house sales, as the pandemic poses unprecedented obstacles to a high-touch process traditionally done in person.

House hunting usually involves a lot of contact, from the initial tour or open house to the final inspections and appraisal. The official closing is often an in-person meeting with a notary or attorney who oversees document signings.

With the coronavirus pandemic bringing shelter-in-place orders, the real-estate industry has been compelled to find workarounds for every step of this process, often having to navigate local requirements and consumer anxiety.

Home sales are now closing in parking lots where attorneys pass documents through car windows and throw away pens after each use, said Leslie Turner, founding partner at Maison Real Estate in Charleston, S.C.

“Everything’s just stopped” in terms of new business, she said. “We’re just trying to get the properties that we have under contract across the finish line to close.”

While some of the technology to enable remote home closings has existed for years, many real-estate companies are adopting it en masse for the first time.

“This is a business that time forgot,” said Vishal Garg, chief executive of online mortgage company Better.com. “It operates literally on paper and fax.”

Some state Realtor associations are recommending addenda for home-purchase contracts that extend closing dates if pending closings are delayed because of the pandemic. Buyers and sellers are also scrambling for alternatives to in-person inspections and appraisals, which are traditionally required for sales and loans to go through.

“It’s been a really challenging time,” said Kelli Griggs, co-founder of Navigate Realty in El Dorado Hills, Calif. “It’s just been a different focus—rescuing deals versus trying to procure them.”

Pending home sales rose 2.4% in February from a month earlier, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. Pending sales usually predate closings by one or two months, the association said.

Companies that sprang up in recent years to offer remote solutions for home buyers and sellers say they are seeing unprecedented demand.

Notarize, a five-year-old company that enables documents to be notarized online, expects to process at least $100 billion in transactions on its platform this year, up from about $10 billion last year, said Chief Executive Pat Kinsel.

“A lot of our partner industries are in crisis right now because they cannot complete really important transactions,” he said.

More than 20 states already have laws allowing electronic notarization, and a handful of others, including New York, issued executive orders in March to permit them. A federal bill on electronic notarization was introduced in the Senate in March.

Many notaries, home inspectors and appraisers are self-employed or employed by small businesses. Most of them are still allowed to work, even under various shelter-in-place orders around the country, but many are choosing not to out of health or safety concerns, according to industry groups. Moving companies are also still allowed to operate in many cities and states.

Nick Gromicko, founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, estimated that three-fourths of the 30,000 home inspectors in the U.S. and Canada are unwilling to do inspections right now. “Financially, it means that it’s going to hurt them,” he said.

Miller Samuel Inc., a New York City appraisal and consulting firm, stopped doing interior appraisals in mid-March, said Chief Executive Jonathan Miller. More lenders are accepting “drive-by” appraisals based on exterior inspections or “desktop” appraisals based on tax records and other documents, he said.

“We’re needed to help keep the economy going,” he said, but “I’m not knowingly sending my staff into harm’s way.”

The Federal Housing Finance Agency on March 23 directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to accept alternatives to in-person interior appraisals until May 17.

But some lenders are still requiring interior appraisals, said Bill Garber, director of government and external relations at the Appraisal Institute. “If [appraisers] do have concerns, our suggestion is to reject the assignment,” he said.

Another obstacle is each county’s recording office, which keeps property ownership records. As of midday Monday, 149 county recording offices around the U.S. were closed, another 998 had reduced hours or service, and the status of almost 2,000 was unknown, according to the American Land Title Association, which is crowdsourcing the information from its members.

In the counties with closed offices, “it’s near impossible to actually complete a mortgage closing,” said Steve Gottheim, senior counsel for the association.

Most Americans live in counties that allow electronic recording, but some offices are still paper-based, he said.

The longer these offices stay closed, the higher the risk that documents could be recorded in the wrong order or that the lack of timely property information could enable fraud, he said.

“Between appraisals and notaries and county clerk’s offices, there’s a lot of obstacles to just getting people to be able to close their mortgages,” Mr. Garg said.

As more companies enable remote closings, real-estate executives said the increased use of technology in the closing process could become permanent for consumers who prefer the convenience.

Darry Dykstra used electronic notarization in late March to remotely close on the sale of an investment home in Plant City, Fla. “It was pretty much a no-brainer,” he said. “Even without the coronavirus, I don’t see me going to the closing table anymore.”



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House & Home


Shaker style goes beyond utility for a pure perfection that stands the test of time.

The Backstory

The Shaker movement was started by Mother Ann Lee, a British expat who brought eight followers to New York in 1774. Outsiders called the sect “Shakers” for their ecstatic trembling and whirling during worship, yet its members were highly progressive, embracing gender equality, pacifism and technological advances.

They lived in communal families, sharing all possessions and profits, and shunning worldly goods. At a high point in 1840, there were 6,000 Shakers in the U.S. in 18 communities from Maine to Kentucky — since then, their numbers have dwindled to single digits.

Nonetheless, their legacy lives on. In preserved Shaker communities like Hancock Village, Massachusetts, and the Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon in New York near Albany, there are many examples of their beautiful, functional and innovative designs. Shaker style’s elegant austerity has weathered the winds of change well, so renovators take note: this aesthetic is built to last, and there are many ways to incorporate it into your home.

Looks We Love

Shaker style living room with two area rugs, a gray couch and old-fashioned built-in cupboards.

In this living room, design firm Jersey Ice Cream Co. chose vintage pieces to underscore the room’s old-school built-in cupboards, an organization system appreciated by the Shakers.

This Swallowtail wallpaper from Memo Showroom mimics the wooden joint detail from oval Shaker boxes.

Shaker Style kitchen with white vertical wall paneling and floating shelves.

To the Shakers, craftsmanship was considered a form of worship. Designer Emily Netz chose the simplicity and sturdy construction of Shaker cabinets — identified by a recessed panel set in a face frame — for her own kitchen. “I drew a lot of inspiration from the 18th-century Shakers,” she says. “Their ethos was simplicity and functionality, and I’m always striving for more of both in my life.” A peg rail under the shelf and hanging basket are two other Shaker hallmarks.

Shaker-style living room with a simple side table and beige couch.

In this Notting Hill, London, home, designed by Colin King, a Shaker table proves its timeless appeal: the clean lines complement contemporary art and furnishings.



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7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Kids’ Toys From Taking Over Your Home


Conquer the clutter and reclaim the precious space you once ruled.

If having your family at home all day, every day has made your space feel chaotic, and your days and nights seem to run together, regain a sense of order with these simple tips.

1. Reduce the clutter

It doesn’t matter how organized you are — a surplus of toys will always ensure your house is a mess waiting to happen. Fortunately, getting kids on board with the idea of ditching their stuff is a lot easier than it sounds.

The trick is to make it an opportunity for them to define themselves and their interests. Encourage kids to make a pile of ”baby toys” to donate, and have them set aside any toys that no longer interest them, such as action figures from a forgotten TV show. Separating these toys will help them appreciate how much they’ve grown and rediscover the toys they love.

2. Choose toys wisely

Since you’ll probably be stuck with them for a while, it pays to be picky when it comes to buying toys. To make toys more meaningful to your child, only buy them for holidays, special occasions and rewards — don’t shy away from asking relatives to do the same.

Avoid toys that are poorly made (cheap), not age-appropriate, unnecessarily large, pointless or anything tied to a movie — unless it’s that one you’ve been playing on repeat every day. The best toys are versatile, encourage creativity and can easily be expanded upon, such as Legos, wooden train tracks and dollhouse sets.

3. Leave some toys out of reach

If you’re constantly finding play dough and puzzle pieces in the sofa cushions, it’s time to put them on the top shelf of the closet. Designating these messy toys as ”family toys” will give you more quality time with your child instead of scrubbing pen marks off the curtains.

Also, try to set aside a tote of toys, games and puzzles for rainy days. This ensures you’ll always have a trick up your sleeve for sick days or when a boring relative visits.

4. Set boundaries

If toys are already sprawled out over every available surface of your house, don’t worry! You can quickly reclaim order in your household by setting a few ground rules, such as ”no toys in the kitchen” or setting limits on the number of toys allowed out overnight.

While that might seem a bit draconian, children are generally happier when they’re given clear expectations and few surprises. That’s why it’s important to follow through and pick up every night, no matter how exhausted you feel at the time.

5. Give kids ownership

Picking up toys doesn’t have to be boring. Babies, toddlers and big kids alike can have fun organizing and picking up, just as long as it’s not a negative experience. This means you should provide enough time for enjoyment without resorting to counting ”1, 2, 3” or shouting empty threats.

A great thing about setting aside extra time for picking up is that you and your child can do fun things like scoop up blocks with a blanket or deliver toys across the house via tricycle. If you make it fun enough, your kid will eventually pick up without even being asked.

6. Give every toy a home

Without a simple organizational system, picking up can be a major headache. Don’t throw everything into one big toy box; there’s a better way.

Buy a series of matching plastic bins and line them up along the wall where your child can easily put away and retrieve toys on his own. Designate one box for Legos, one for stuffed animals, one for train tracks … you get the idea.

Use stacking plastic boxes for smaller toys like matchbox cars and dolls. Organize them further by storing puzzle pieces, doll clothes and other annoyances in Ziploc bags.

7. Hit the books

It’s not your imagination. That pile of storybooks by the couch really is getting taller, and if you wait much longer, it will likely turn into a giant heap.

Worse yet, your kid uses those books to stall and push back bedtime a little later with each passing night. That’s why it’s important to either keep the books in your child’s room, or keep a small selection of favorites in a basket for easy retrieval.

Related:

Originally published December 2017



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Working From Home? Here’s How To Create A Stylish Home Office In Any Room


In September 2019, the Bureau Of Labor Statistics reported that 29 percent of Americans worked from home. Since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that number has increased substantially. As if this situation isn’t difficult enough for everyone personally and economically, working from home has its own challenges, especially if there isn’t a dedicated home office space. This is particularly true in New York City, where most of the population lives in smaller apartments.  

Since most of the nation is likely working from home for the next couple of months, it’s essential to establish a dedicated home office space whether it’s located within a larger room, a closet or even a nook with a tiny footprint. Here’s are the best ways to convert any space into a home office. 

Setting Up A Home Office In The Bedroom Or Guest Room

While it isn’t ideal to work and sleep in the same room, the advantage of having an office in your bedroom is that unless you live in a loft or studio apartment, every home has a bedroom with a door that closes. Interior designer Alexis Rogers of Home With Alexis suggests most bedrooms can accommodate a workspace with one of three configurations.  

“If you have a closet that can be sacrificed, you can remove the doors of the closet and convert the closet space into an office nook,” she says. “Even if it’s a shallow closet, having the desk in that nook creates a purposeful workspace while also giving it a separate feel from the rest of the bedroom.”

If you’re only going to be working from home temporarily, this might be a smart idea because you can put clothing into storage and then re-attach the doors when you return to your regular office. Not sure where to store the doors? Try under the bed.  

Another option Rodgers recommends is swapping out an end table for a desk, if you have room to do so. “This will work out better if you can keep your desk tidy, or if you just need a dedicated place to sit and work on your laptop that’s away from the noise and activities of the rest of the house,” she explains. 

A third choice is either adding a desk to the existing bedroom furniture configuration or switching out a dresser for a desk. “If your closet has extra drawers and shelves and you can edit the contents of your dresser into those drawers and shelves, or if your closet has room for the dresser itself and you’d prefer to keep your desk in a main area of the bedroom, use the dresser’s former location for your desk,” she says. 

Then bring in desk accessories. “Add a stylish chair, lamp, and beautiful piece of art above the desk. Create a little work sanctuary, and when it’s not in use, it still looks beautiful.”  

Turn A Living Room Into A Working Room 

The next most obvious choice for a workspace is the living room. Under the best circumstances, to turn your living room into a home office, consider purchasing a desk and then creating a small work corner. Then consider using a room divider. This can be particularly helpful if you have children because it sets a physical boundary. They also make excellent backgrounds for Zoom calls.

But if there isn’t a space for that, Sara Ianniciello, who is the director of design at Whitehall Interiors has some strategies for working on the sofa, if you must. “Make sure to keep proper ergonomic heights with the placement of your laptop, especially if you are working on a couch and coffee table,” she says. “This can be done with items that you already have in your home, like setting your laptop on a thick book or box to avoid neck strain.” 

In most homes, miscellaneous objects tend to find their way into living rooms. Clutter can really hinder productivity, so Ianniciello suggests decluttering as often as possible. “This is something easy that you can do in any room of the house that makes a big difference. A clean workspace will help you stay organized and focus better,” she says. 

Then bring in decor intentionally. “Candles, plants, picture frames, and art are great accessories to have at or near your workspace, even in the living room. Consider adding things like this or a table or task lamp during working hours and reverting back to normal when you are done for the day. This will help put you in work mode,” says Ianniciello.   

Cook Up Productivity By Turning A Kitchen Into A Home Office

Yuna Megre of Megre Interiors suggests starting by de-cluttering your entire kitchen. “Clean out your kitchen cabinets, organize them and move anything you can from surfaces into the closets,” she says. “This is vital not only providing you with extra space, but in decluttering your thoughts. If there is a lack of space in your kitchen, grab a box, and put anything you don’t use on a daily basis and move the boxes to another room.”

Then strategize the best way to use the space you have. “Don’t forget your vertical surfaces—your walls, windows, cabinets, and fridge. These can all be spaces for Post-Its, notes, drawing, and putting up documents you need in front of you when you work,” she says. 

But then the question is where to establish your workspace in the kitchen. The best-case scenario is having an eat-in kitchen without an attached family room, explains Raf Howery, CEO of Kukun. Kukun is a recently launched app that allows users to estimate and compare costs of home remodeling, which is something many people will likely be doing once the pandemic ends. “If you have an eat-in kitchen and you don’t have an attached family room,” he says, “Use your kitchen table, moving it so that it backs to a wall. You can move it back for meals. Avoid frying during that time.”

It’s always possible to use the kitchen island as a desk. However, Kukun cautions this setup can be uncomfortable for your back. 

If that is the only choice in terms of set-up, Alexis Sheinman of Pembrooke and Ives proposes a few ways to work around this. “Whether at a bar-height counter, dining table or kitchen island, clear the surface off and match the table height with the most comfortable work chair you can find. If you have a wood or metal chair, bring a cushion [or pillow] along,” she says. 

Accessories are also key to establishing the space. Consider buying a desk lamp. “Light can make or break the ambiance and brightness and is key to productivity. If your kitchen doesn’t get enough natural light, bring a table or floor lamp. Then, adjust the light level throughout the day according to the weather and time of day,” Sheinman says.

From there, you can accessorize to improve the aesthetic. “Make it pretty – a small vase with flowers, a pretty table cloth, mason jars with pencils and pens, etc can make your workspace super fun,” shares Megre.

Convert A Playroom Into A Home Office 

Remember when you thought it would be great to turn that extra room or basement into a playroom for the kids? Are you now regretting that decision? Turning the space into your office might be a great lesson in sharing for them. Luckily, this doesn’t require major construction and is simple enough to DIY using The Container Store’s entirely customizable Elfa Closet System.

The Home Edit’s collaboration with The Container Store on a homework station is a versatile workspace setup that can be used as a home office now and then for homework likely in the fall. It’s worth noting that this set up can work in any room that has a free wall.  

First, measure the wall and then install an Easy Hang, which is available in a range of finishes. From there, choose a shelf to function as the desktop. Then build up with shelves and choose organizers depending on your needs. Utilizing the wall is essential if you don’t have a large footprint to work with. 

Products like the Elfa Utility Board can help keep accessories neat and the desk clutter-free. Color coordinate everything in true Home Edit style for a whimsical look that both kids and adults can appreciate. 



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12 Glimpses of the Stylish Set Sheltering at Home


Rearranging, sanitizing, trying to stay healthy–and taking photos. These last few cooped-up weeks have been a time of interior introspection. And an opportunity to take part in some Instagram Show and Tell. For design voyeurs, there’s been a steady flow of inspiration to distract from the news and the fear. Here, a dozen inside looks from creatives sheltering at home.

We&#8
Above: We’ve been turning to artist Wayne Pate for inspiration for years now: see Julie’s 2010 Steal This Look on his home office, and Bloomsbury in Brooklyn, my more recent post on his wallpaper and fabrics. Wayne captioned this glimpse of his living room “Isolation Nation.” (N.B.: Wayne often sells work directly from his own walls via Instagram.)
Dutch illustrator, photographer, and mother of three Saar Manche specializes in capturing quiet. (The rug is a washable wool design called Sun Rays from Woolable.)
Above: Dutch illustrator, photographer, and mother of three Saar Manche specializes in capturing quiet. (The rug is a washable wool design called Sun Rays from Woolable.)
&#8
Above: “Haven’t left this room in two days,” writes Amanda Cutter Brooks from her Oxfordshire farm. Browse her collection of English-meets-American country chic at Cutter Brooks.
French rattan specialists Atelier Vime&#8
Above: French rattan specialists Atelier Vime‘s “office for the coming days and weeks” is their farm in Baie d’Audierne, Brittany. Note the painted wall drape. The 1940s oak table and chair are by Brittany decorator Jean Lachaud; the pink suzani is from Uzbekistan. Go to Rattan Revival to see their main quarters in Provence.
French interior designer Marianne Evennou is our doyenne of color and composition: see her Paris Work Quarters and A Postage Stamp-Size Paris Apartment. These days we look forward to catching glimpses of her own home just north of Paris; this shot is &#8
Above: French interior designer Marianne Evennou is our doyenne of color and composition: see her Paris Work Quarters and A Postage Stamp-Size Paris Apartment. These days we look forward to catching glimpses of her own home just north of Paris; this shot is “Confinement, Day 6.”
Our pal Megan Wilson (@ancientindustries), art director at Vintage and Anchor Books, is home with her husband, artist Duncan Hannah, at their place in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Tour their DIY remodel in Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home—Megan also wrote the Remodelista 0 chapter, a roundup of our favorite everyday objects.
Above: Our pal Megan Wilson (@ancientindustries), art director at Vintage and Anchor Books, is home with her husband, artist Duncan Hannah, at their place in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Tour their DIY remodel in Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home—Megan also wrote the Remodelista 100 chapter, a roundup of our favorite everyday objects.
Munich-based designer and blogger Sarah Van Peteghem of Coco Lapine (@sara_cocolapine) is already accustomed to working from home—&#8
Above: Munich-based designer and blogger Sarah Van Peteghem of Coco Lapine (@sara_cocolapine) is already accustomed to working from home—”I have a daily routine and even though it’s flexible, I find that applying ‘office hours’ works best,” she says. We like her stripes combination: her own print, Plissé no. 1, paired with Studio Oyama’s Kalligrafi cup and saucer from Fine Little Day.
Spring light, 6 pm: an eye-opening pairing of lilac and rosy orange in our interior designer friend Victoria Kirk&#8
Above: Spring light, 6 pm: an eye-opening pairing of lilac and rosy orange in our interior designer friend Victoria Kirk’s (@victoriakirkinterios) Westchester living room.
My friend Laura Jones (@joneshunt_uk_us) is home writing and baking Mark Bittman&#8
Above: My friend Laura Jones (@joneshunt_uk_us) is home writing and baking Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread in her Dreamiest Dream Kitchen in Yorkshire, England.
Photographer Charlotte Bland says she &#8
Above: Photographer Charlotte Bland says she “shoots film and photographs real life.” Here, the return of sunlight on her kitchen table in Dulwich Village, in South London.
John Derian (@johnderiancompany) is sheltering at his Cape Cod quarters in Provincetown. This glimpse is by his husband, photographer Stephen Kent Johnson. See their seaside garden on pages -3data-src=
Above: John Derian (@johnderiancompany) is sheltering at his Cape Cod quarters in Provincetown. This glimpse is by his husband, photographer Stephen Kent Johnson. See their seaside garden on pages 18-31 of the Gardenista book.
June Home Supply of Winnipeg, Canada, specializes in elegantly simple household tools and accessories. We&#8
Above: June Home Supply of Winnipeg, Canada, specializes in elegantly simple household tools and accessories. We’ve been asking owners Danielle and Joël Cyr to show us their own home—”still in progress,” they always report. So we were delighted to see this bedroom, with a canopy frame found on Wayfair and wicker Flynn Wall Sconce from Serena & Lily. The sheets are fragrant with lavender courtesy of June’s French Eau de Linge.

Follow us on Instagram @remodelista and @gardenista.

We love visiting creatives at home. Here are three more favorites:



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Working From Home? Tips For Creating A Home Office That Promotes Health, Comfort And Creativity


If you are like millions of Americans, you are ‘working remotely.’ For many of us, that new reality produces additional stress as we squeeze work responsibilities into spaces not designed for them.   

Whatever space you have to work with, it’s more important than ever to make it one you feel good spending time in. Here are some tips for creating work and study spots that promote focus and clear-headedness, while still unmistakably feeling like part of your home, whether that spot is a seat at the kitchen table, a cozy corner or a dedicated desk space. 

First, give yourself a healthy environment.

Many people avoid all contact with the outside world in hopes of reducing the spread of Corona virus. But research published by the Urban Land Institute shows that opening windows can make airborne contaminants less potent. That’s especially useful for apartment-dwellers, who may breathe in recycled air through a ventilation system.

The Corona virus actually thrives in low-humidity, air-conditioned spaces. Adding humidifiers is an easy fix.

Plants make for a happy place. Research shows that interacting with nature, by adding natural light or even looking at potted plants, reduces stress and curbs anxiety.

If you don’t have space for plants, think color: if you are missing out on interacting with nature, bring the outside in. Using the colors of nature, like greens, browns, ocher reds and soft blues, can sometimes help you feel just that little bit closer to the world outdoors.

Be intentional:  Cheryl Eisen, Celebrity Interior Designer and Founder and CEO of Interior Marketing Group, says, “To create a workspace that is conducive to productivity, establish a designated room or space. If you don’t have a home office this can be a desk or table. Try to choose a space away from the TV or the fridge to avoid distractions and mindless snacking.”

She also points to the importance of decluttering and choosing proper lighting. 

“Eliminate any items you don’t need to create a space that feels clean and organized, especially if your workspace is in another room of your home. Use functional and stylish storage solutions to keep the surfaces clear and help boost productivity.” 

Especially for those who stare at a computer screen all the day, lighting has a major impact on productivity. Natural light is the best, so if you can, set up a workspace facing a window. If your workspace doesn’t have access to natural light, opt for LED lighting; it creates clean, comfortable light without glare in addition to being energy-efficient.

Eisen adds, “An organized workspace is crucial to creativity. It prevents distractions to help the flow of ideas. Everything should have a place; this helps keep your mind clear to allow your imagination to flow freely.” 



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Sheltering in Place? Keep Your Business Humming with the Perfect Home Office


The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new world order for businesses, including real estate: working from home during government recommendations to self-quarantine. And with more people telecommuting, the home office is becoming more of a property focal point. Here are some ideas to make your space more inviting.

Layer in lights. Minimize the strain on your eyes when you’re staring at computer monitors all day. Heed advice from the American Optometric Association, which advises workers to direct light away from their line of sight. For example, the home remodeling website Houzz suggests layers of light may be best for a home office. Use a desk lamp to shine down on paperwork, have an overhead light, and use natural light from windows if you can.


Also, consider using a mirror to bounce light around the room—particularly if there are no windows.


Create a calming view. Consider positioning your desk so you can look out a window and enjoy the natural landscape.


Add comfy seating. Of course, you want your desk chair to look stylish, but don’t sacrifice comfort here. Look for an upholstered chair. Consider adding extra chairs to your space, too.


Add a plant. Plants around your desk can help improve air quality by reducing airborne dust levels. Plants also are known to help improve moods.


Or dress up the space with colorful flowers on your desk.


Use an adjustable desk. It’s never good to sit for hours on end. Consider an adjustable desk to get you on your feet. Desks that adjust so you can sit or stand are a hot trend in office spaces. Other ergonomic accessories also are popular, such as flexible footrests and adjustable keyboard platforms with padded wrist rests.


Bring in pops of color. Freshen up the paint color, or bring in colorful accents like curtains, artwork, or bright office supplies.




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2020 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Atlanta


The costs to remodel in Atlanta in 2020; including  kitchen, bath, and whole-home (plus outdoor budgets and permit tips!)

Atlanta home remodel costs 2020(Above) Remodel by Sweeten general contractor Kimberly in Atlanta. Photo: Tomas Espinoza.

There’s no denying Atlanta is a booming city. Between 2010 and 2018, Atlanta was the fourth-fastest growing city in the nation, adding a little less than 700,000 people and now sits at close to six million inhabitants. 

In other words, it’s a great time to put down roots in Atlanta—from restoring a bungalow in Decatur, adding to a classic Georgian-style home in Druid Hill, or remodeling a loft apartment in the Old Fourth Ward. Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their project, offers this guide detailing costs to remodel in Atlanta as a starting point. 

When embarking on a renovation, ‘How much will it cost?’ will likely be your first question. It’s notable in Atlanta that once a renovation budget reaches a couple $100,000s, building a new house instead becomes a major consideration. In this situation, you’ll need to factor in costs to tear down the existing structure and remove debris.

Read on for a breakdown of typical starting costs for remodeling across Atlanta, Georgia, focusing on five categories: full home, kitchen, bathroom, outdoor spaces, and permits.

  • Gut renovation: Starting at around $70$100 psf (per square foot)
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: Starting at $20,000$30,000
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: Starting at $35,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: Starting at $65,000
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: Starting at $12,500$15,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: Starting at $20,000
  • High-end bathroom remodel and reconfiguration: Starting at $35,000+
  • Deck composite: $20,000 or $61 psf
  • Wood deck: $14,000 or $44 psf

How much an Atlanta home remodel costs per square foot

A total gut renovation in Atlanta that brings your home down to the studs and dresses it back up again with low-range finishes will likely start at around $70 to $100 psf, according to Atlanta-based Sweeten general contractor Dexter.

He recently worked on a renovation that redid everything except for the basement. “We renovated about 85 percent of this house,” said Dexter. It was a 1950s house that involved redoing the siding, repairing and polishing the original wood floors, remodeling two bathrooms with a custom shower in one and new tub in the other while adding gold-look faucets and an oversized kitchen island with a farmhouse sink. Because of the high-end finishes and custom elements, that renovation came in $120,000 for the end budget. 

Sweeten general contractor Kimberly is currently working on a 3,200 square foot farmhouse renovation. The budget is at $150,000, which includes renovating three bathrooms and expanding the fourth for a larger master suite and a kitchen remodel that includes custom kitchen cabinets and quartz countertops. “We will be making some smart choices to make it look brand spanking new without breaking the budget,” said Kimberly, adding that the owners were rolling their sleeves up to do some work themselves to reduce the budget. 

But still, Kimberly is about to start demolition on the project which will reveal if any rewiring is needed to bring the old building up to code. One issue common in Atlanta’s older homes is subpar work that might have been completed previously by an unlicensed contractor. “The budget could go as high as $225,000,” she said, bringing the farmhouse reno to about $75 psf.

Another factor that can have a big impact on a budget for an extensive renovation is the age of the house and whether it had lead paint or asbestos, according to Dexter. Anything built before 1978, could have lead paint in it. Anything built between the ‘30s and the end of the ‘80s could have asbestos. That’s why Dexter gets homes built in those time periods tested. If it comes back positive, the removal of lead or asbestos could add a few thousand dollars to your budget while pushing your timeline back.

Atlanta remodel costs 2020

How much an Atlanta kitchen remodel costs per square foot

The typical quote detailing costs to remodel a minor kitchen in Atlanta ranges between $20,000 to $30,000 for a 200-square-foot space which includes labor and rough materials such as drywall. This number doesn’t budge all that much because it is mostly calculated on installation rather than materials. In a lower-end kitchen remodel, it’s a good idea to keep lighting where it is while refreshing the fixtures, according to Sweeten expert Kimberly. For a mid to high-end budget, you should be able to change the location of lights.

Additional material costs include elements such as replacing cabinet fronts, a basic granite countertop, basic lighting, energy-efficient appliances, faucets, and resilient flooring. For example, you could go for a good value kitchen appliance package with a dishwasher, fridge, microwave, and oven for $3,500 from Home Depot. A similar package from high-end brands could set you back $20,000

Here’s a look at some mid- to high-range kitchen costs:

  • Mid-range kitchen: Expect the average mid-range kitchen renovation to come in around $175 psf or $35,000 for the Atlanta area. A 200-square-feet space would reveal laminate countertops, a 15-square-foot island, semi-custom wood cabinets, and a double stainless steel sink with a standard single-lever faucet. It also contained a built-in microwave, dishwasher, and custom lighting. Keeping your layout the same will be the biggest factor in keeping your budget down.
  • High-end kitchen renovations came in at around $325 psf or $65,000. A 200-square-foot kitchen would include custom cabinets, built-in sliding shelves, stone countertops, and imported tile backsplashes. The appliances were also kicked up a few notches to include a commercial-grade cooktop and vent hood as well as upscale faucets and a water filtration system.

Atlanta home remodeling, Atlanta bathroom remodel(Above) Remodels by Atlanta-based Sweeten contractor Dennis

How much an Atlanta bathroom remodel costs per square foot

For a typical bathroom quote, expect the cost to come in between $12,500 to $15,000. The budget focuses on installation and does not include some key materials. This gives renovators the freedom to shop for what they want while having greater autonomy over their project’s budget. This cost range does include a vanity with a basic granite top, toilet, and tub or shower. Homeowners can shop for finishes such as faucets, tiles, and mirrors. For a project with a lower budget, Dexter advised renovators to stick to tiles in the $2 psf range and faucets made from chrome or brushed nickel. 

Here’s a look at mid- to high-end bathroom budgets:

  • In the Atlanta area, the average cost of a mid-range kitchen remodel comes in about $20,000 or $571 psf. This range applies to a 35-square-feet space and installing a new porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting. A renovation of this level can add about $13,000 to a home’s value, which recoups close to 65 percent of the project’s cost, according to Remodeling’s Cost vs Value report. Not a bad investment.

A popular remodel is taking out the tubs to put in showers. Avoiding this and working with the layout that you have can easily shave off $4,000 in a bathroom budget. 

  • The average bathroom remodel cost in the upscale category starts at around $35,000. For this budget, you could expand your bathroom from 35 square feet to around 100 square feet and can play around with elements like a freestanding soaker tub and a shower with recessed shelves, a frameless glass enclosure, and body spray fixtures. You’re also likely to afford a double-sink and double-mirror vanity with custom draws and wall cabinets. In Kimberly’s experience, a high-end bathroom remodel typically involves using marble or quartz, replacing a rod and shower curtain with glass and adding elements like double shower heads.

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Costs for adding outdoor space in Atlanta

If you don’t mind a bit of humidity, an outdoor area can be used year-round (although, a fan and mosquito netting is a smart addition for summer). Add or renovate your deck or patio and it will be like adding another room to your home. 

  • The average price for a 320-square-foot deck made from composite is $20,000 or $61 psf, according to the Cost Vs Value report for 2020. Composite is a mix of wood and plastic, making it more durable to weather and termites than just wood. A project using this material will add about 60 percent of the cost back into your home’s value. If you do use wood, it will reduce your budget by more than 25 percent to $14,000 or $44 psf. A deck made with wood will add 70 percent of the project cost to your home’s value.

Consequently, the majority of Dexter’s clients go with a wood deck rather than composite. A recent client had him rebuild a deck and cover it with flyscreen. It was about 300 square feet and the job was done for a total of $20,000 or about $65 psf.  

Adding stone to a concrete slab for a patio will start at about $12 psf, according to Kimberly. If you want to add lighting and ceiling fans, then add another $5,000 to your budget for fixtures and wiring. An outdoor kitchen could range from $5,000 to $20,000. “In Atlanta, people plan spaces for entertaining purposes,” said Kimberly.

Permit costs in Atlanta

Building permit fees are often calculated by the square footage of your project, or by the overall budget cost. To see how your area’s permits are calculated, check with your local building department. Your general contractor will likely put an estimated amount in your initial budget before a final amount is calculated. “There’s no rule of thumb when it comes to the cost of permits,” said Sweeten contractor Dexter. “Some areas I can pull a permit for $50, but the same job in another county could cost $200.”

It isn’t just the cost of the actual permit that needs to go into the budget. Additionally, you also need to pay your contractors for the time it takes them to pull the permit. In some counties in Atlanta you can file electronically. Other counties, a contractor or architect will need to show up in person with paper plans, said Kimberly. A typical fee to have someone file your permits can range between $300 and $1,000.

The cost of building permits for the city of Atlanta, the area including and immediately surrounding the downtown area, is $7 per $1,000 for construction. Electrical, plumbing, and mechanical permits also have their own fees, which start between $75 and $175 per project. Your general contractor will be familiar with the costs and will also be filing your building permits on your behalf. 

Permits vary greatly in different areas of Atlanta. Neighborhoods like John’s Creek and Alpharetta typically have more fees to consider. Permit fees are less expensive in Sugar Hill in Gwinnett County and Forsyth County.

To confirm a budget, a general contractor will want to see the site for a more accurate assessment of costs. Having your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” list paired with a realistic budget will have you on your way to your dream home. 

Remodeling your home in Atlanta? Sweeten can help!

Now that you know the costs to remodel in Atlanta, post your project on Sweeten and we’ll match you with vetted local general contractors to provide estimates for your remodel, plus we’ll support you throughout your project duration. Meet with your contractor to develop an accurate budget, and you’ll be on your way to the home you’ve always wanted.

Remodeling an old house? Here’s what you should know from energy efficiency to layout changes.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.



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An Essential Element In A Small Home


While researching small houses, one of the aspects at the top of almost all homeowners “want” lists is adequate storage. This can be particularly challenging in a small house where every inch of it must be well used. Clutter is also much more apparent in a small space – so having a place to store all items becomes even more important than when living in a larger house.

Although many people are willing to downsize to a smaller house, they want to be able to take a good percentage of their belongings with them. This requires a good amount of creativity when designing the space. Many of the storage areas are built in, so they need to be planned in the design stage.

I have seen many interesting ways that architects/designers have found to use the space that exists to achieve the best storage in the small space that exists. The most common way way to include storage in the house is with a variety of types of built-ins. Cabinets and bookshelves are the most common types of storage used in homes. But there are also other types of creative ways to store items.

One excellent way to find storage is in crannies and areas that would otherwise not be used. Below is an example of storage created under the built-in bed and to the sides of it.

Special racks have been designed for storing athletic equipment. Above is a photo of a rack holding several bicycles. This was designed for two avid bikers living in a 1462 square foot house. Without a garage to store the bikes, this was an ideal plan.

Architect Scott Mooney designed his 624 square foot accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with storage on the exterior of the house. The storage can be accessed from the interior as well as the exterior.

Open shelving in metal and wood provide storage for books, small appliances kitchen ware, craft items and so on. These shelving systems can be easily bought in stores and on-line at a variety of hardware and specialty stores such as The Container Store, Home Depot and IKEA.

One impressive way to add storage was found in a very creative house design by GO Logic. For this house in Freeport Maine, they created storage unit as a division between private areas and the living space. Minimal hallways is an optimal design concept in a small house so that energy is conserved and less excess building is required. This wall unit has open shelving and built-in lighting.

The more creative the storage space, the more open and spacious the house will feel.



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Self-Quarantining? Keep Your Business Humming With the Perfect Home Office


The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new world order for businesses, including real estate: working from home during government recommendations to self-quarantine. And with more people telecommuting, the home office is becoming more of a property focal point. Here are some ideas to make your space more inviting.

Layer in lights. Minimize the strain on your eyes when you’re staring at computer monitors all day. Heed advice from the American Optometric Association, which advises workers to direct light away from their line of sight. For example, the home remodeling website Houzz suggests layers of light may be best for a home office. Use a desk lamp to shine down on paperwork, have an overhead light, and use natural light from windows if you can.


Also, consider using a mirror to bounce light around the room—particularly if there are no windows.


Create a calming view. Consider positioning your desk so you can look out a window and enjoy the natural landscape.


Add comfy seating. Of course, you want your desk chair to look stylish, but don’t sacrifice comfort here. Look for an upholstered chair. Consider adding extra chairs to your space, too.


Add a plant. Plants around your desk can help improve air quality by reducing airborne dust levels. Plants also are known to help improve moods.


Or dress up the space with colorful flowers on your desk.


Use an adjustable desk. It’s never good to sit for hours on end. Consider an adjustable desk to get you on your feet. Desks that adjust so you can sit or stand are a hot trend in office spaces. Other ergonomic accessories also are popular, such as flexible footrests and adjustable keyboard platforms with padded wrist rests.


Bring in pops of color. Freshen up the paint color, or bring in colorful accents like curtains, artwork, or bright office supplies.




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