Consider these tips to ensure a fun and safe Halloween night.
As we settle into fall, many of us start looking forward to Halloween. It’s a holiday adults can enjoy as much as kids. But, homeowners do have one serious obligation on this fun night: If you expect trick-or-treaters, you must make sure the path to your door is a safe one.
Take no trips
Inevitably, some giddy ghosts and ghouls will race excitedly to your door. Be prepared.
In the full light of day, inspect your lawn, driveway and front path for trip hazards like exposed tree roots, cracks in concrete or missing pavers. Make repairs where possible, or, at the very least, cut off access to unsafe areas.
Meanwhile, if you’ve decorated the front yard with decorations like light-up pumpkins and animated figures, keep electrical cords away from your walkways.
Light the way
Make sure the path to your house is bright enough for trick-or-treaters to approach safely.
You don’t need to install a full suite of year-round landscape lighting simply to accommodate visitors on Halloween night. There are plenty of temporary and affordable options for illumination, from glow sticks to tea lights.
And although it may seem more in keeping with the mood of this spooky night to switch off your porch light, it’s much safer — not to mention more inviting — to keep it on.
Resist flammable decor
Whether vandals or accidents are to blame, there are many more fires on Halloween than a typical October night, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Holiday decorations are often quite flammable, involving materials such as paper, hay and dried cornstalks.
If you can’t resist adorning your home and yard with such potentially dangerous items, then be sure to keep them away from candles and other heat sources. If jack-o’-lanterns or luminaries figure into your celebrations, illuminate them using LED tea lights, not open flames.
Curb your dog
Chances are yours is a friendly dog. But if some Halloween costumes are convincing enough to frighten small children, those same get-ups could be equally disturbing to your pooch — particularly on such a high-energy night.
It’s good sense to contain your dog in an indoor space that’s comfortable and secure.
A festive parade of goblins and ghouls, princesses and superheroes will soon be marching to your house. Do your part by clearing the path and lighting the way. Be safe out there, and have a happy Halloween!
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Discovered on The Modern House: St. Francis House, a monastic retreat transformed into “an exceptionally chic modern home.” Located in Cambridgeshire, a 45-minute train journey from London, the late-Georgian structure was built as a country estate. It was in the 1950s that a religious order moved in and purpose-rebuilt the place as a silent retreat, stripping out just about all of the original detailing and introducing, among other things, 22 spartan bedrooms on the second floor.
Ten years ago, when Anna Unwin and Willie McDougall spotted the property in a real estate listing, they were looking to relocate from London with their three daughters. Anna, who runs AU Bespoke, is an interiors stylist and sourcing specialist, and Willie is a developer—talents that enabled them to envision a new life for all 8,500-square feet.
They opened up the downstairs as a series of invitingly tranquil living spaces, and added one of the chicest pale pink kitchens we’ve come across. As for the upstairs monk’s cells, they converted those into five bedroom suites, glam bathrooms included. Their kids are now grown and the couple say they feel ready to roam—they both have business in Ibiza and plan to spend half time there—so their giant remodel is back on the market. Join us for a tour—and go to The Modern House if you’re tempted to move in.
Photography courtesy of The Modern House.
The roof tiles are Welsh slate, one of many details that look as if they’ve always been here but were in fact brought in by Anna and Willie.
The World War I brass bullet cases on the mantel are from Anna’s AU Bespoke collection.
Go to The Modern House to see more.
Here are some three more standout house transformations in England:
In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for making an awkward living-dining room more polished.
Question: The angled wall in my living room has me stumped, and I’m not sure what to put on my bare walls. Could you help me with furniture and lighting? — T.M., Dawson Creek, B.C.
Answer: You’re on the right track with your deep wall color, but the bare walls make the room fall a bit flat. A wonderful way to add architectural interest and texture to a space is to invest in built-in bookcases. Consider having shallow, wraparound built-ins made for both long living room walls, as well as the angled wall. Paint the bookcases the same dark hue and fill the shelves with books, art and decorative objets. Be sure to vary the “fullness” of each shelf to avoid a look that’s packed too tight. Treating all three walls the same way will also help disguise the awkward angle.
Next, update your sofa with a contemporary charcoal-colored version with subtle texture. The tone-on-tone effect of the sofa, walls and bookcases will create a snug, cocooned feeling. Consider choosing a sofa that’s slightly less deep than your current one to gain back some of the space that will be taken up by the new bookcases.
(Source: Kimberly Sofa in Midnight by Distinctly Home, $1,599, thebay.com)
I recommend swapping out your love seat for two luxurious club chairs in a channelled black leather.
(Source: Schuler Club Chair, $999, shelterfurniture.ca)
Then, add a smoked glass coffee table for a modern touch; the glass, although tinted, will make the table feel lighter.
(Source: Verre Square Coffee Table in Grey, $599, eq3.com)
A round wooden accent table placed between the club chairs and a nubby wool rug underfoot will bring in a touch of warmth.
(Source: Trill Round Wood Side Table, $499, cb2.ca)
(Source: Hand-Woven Chunky Woolen Cable Rug in Off-White by NuLoom, $444, homedepot.ca)
In your adjoining dining area, replace the exposed bulb fixture with a more streamlined shaded version that will cast a softer glow. Its classic style will also temper the more modern pieces in the living area.
(Source: Piaf 39 Inch 4 Light Chandelier by Thomas O’Brien for Visual Comfort, $1,467, robinsonlightingcentre.com)
This mix of textures and styles will add plenty of interest to your space and give you a cozy but dynamic room, perfect for relaxing or entertaining.
Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to email@example.com.
Remodeling for when one room leads to the next and the next
“After” photos by Pixy Interiors for Sweeten
For every homeowner, there are certain household features that just aren’t negotiable: from space layout to square footage and modern features. Some owners are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure their home matches their preferences which was certainly true for Lavanya and Regis, a couple who had to try (and try again) before finding a space that truly felt like home.
They had sold an apartment that she had loved, and proceeded to buy and move into another that they both really disliked. Lavanya, the executive producer for Artifex Productions, a New York City-based production company, decided to give it another try, saying, “We were on the hunt for something like the old place.”
The renewed search was for a railroad-style layout with distinct spaces that could serve different purposes for home and business activities. When she and her partner Regis, who manages an NYC-based restaurant, and Frankie, their 11-year-old Jack Russell terrier, saw it, they knew it was the one. They snapped up the place, posted their project onto Sweeten, a free renovation platform connecting homeowners with vetted general contractors, and quickly found a contractor with the chops to help them implement their vision for their unusually-shaped home.
The long-skinny layout, which was introduced in New York City in the mid-19th century and is also referred to as a “floor-through,” is known for its small, narrow rooms. However, with some help, it can become the perfect layout for a couple with at least one work-at-homer. Lavanya knew from the first apartment she and her husband had that a long, rambling railroad-style flat could be configured to create a private office for her to work in without feeling like the rest of their home life was overlapping with her space.
They found their new apartment in South Park Slope, Brooklyn. The two-bedroom condo was 700 square feet and, as is typical, stretched from the front of the prewar building, built around 1910, to its rear. One thing railroad-style apartments are known for is the immodest “bathtub in the kitchen.” Although their new apartment didn’t feature one of those, the overall layout still didn’t fit the couple’s day-to-day needs.
When Lavanya and Regis signed their Sweeten contractor, they understood that they would need a six-month renovation to cover work across multiple rooms. To begin with, the condo was strangely configured: the master bedroom was at the apartment’s back end, far from the bathroom, and next to it was the dining area, which, as the former owners had it arranged, was separated from the living area by the kitchen. To the couple, the apartment’s arrangement felt backward.
To help the couple, their contractor recommended Jennifer Levy of CAVdesign Interiors to make sense of the space they were working with and create the right flow that would work for them. The team decided to flip the layout so that the area that had been the living room would become their bedroom. The rear bedroom, which was large, would become a living area and office.
[P]ocket and barn doors…saved a ton of space and made our whole home feel modern and cool.
The kitchen had issues, including old, honey-colored wood cabinets and a layout that was far from its efficient capacity. The floors throughout the apartment were uneven and stained a reddish color which felt outdated. Their goal was to make the main rooms bright and airy by integrating glossy white-painted wood floors, built-in storage, and recessed lighting on dimmers.
Next up for redesign was the bathroom. The tub had been shoved into a corner and closed off by an unattractive partial wall, creating a very narrow and dark opening. The toilet and sink were installed too close together and the bathroom had minimal storage. Ultimately, the duo wanted to reconfigure the room to create a more spacious, spa-like environment.
Their Sweeten contractor installed solid oak wood floors and painted the planks with a high-performance floor paint. They ran into challenges while updating the lighting when the electricians realized that installing the dimmable lighting would require replacing the wiring to bring it to code. This ended up creating many new holes in the walls, which then needed to be patched and skim coated putting the project behind schedule. One bright consolation was the brand new dimmer switches—one of their favorite features.
The kitchen was a success without many problems to solve. The contractor suggested hiding the refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher behind panels that matched the cabinetry. The room was spacious enough that their new washer and dryer found their place behind a closet without conflict. The finishing touches included handmade tiles for the backsplash and a custom butcher-block counter.
Lavanya was especially excited about the closets custom-designed for the bedrooms, with sliding shoe racks to accommodate her self-professed “footwear addiction.” That organizational theme continued on many of the interior thresholds with pocket and barn doors; this idea, which their contractor embraced, saved significant space and made their whole home feel modern and stylish.
The bathroom redesign was a creative collaboration between Lavanya and Regis who enjoyed both the planning process and end result. They opted for a hand-poured concrete floor and custom cabinets, along with luxurious hand-made tiles for the shower and a deep, cast-iron soaking bathtub (a non-negotiable for the couple.) New shower fixtures, including a rain showerhead, a towel heater, and a dimmable backlit mirror pulled it all together.
Every step of the way, their Sweeten contractor was fantastic: “Relaxed and professional from the outset, he helped me stay calm, even when delays and surprise expenses came up. The electricians and plumbers were exceptional as well,” said Lavanya. During the renovation, their contractor came up with ideas to keep costs at the right place and also substituted some expensive ideas with affordable ones.
“We love our gleaming floors and the brightness of the rooms, and our beautiful, modern bathroom. It’s like we live in a white palace!” Lavanya shared.
Thank you, Lavanya and Regis, for sharing your space with us!
LIVING AREA RESOURCES: Corotech floor paint in Bone, wall paint in China White: Benjamin Moore. Ceiling fan: The Home Depot. Dimmers: Lutron.
KITCHEN RESOURCES: Ringhult kitchen cabinets: IKEA. Brushed steel cabinet hardware: Sugastune. Craft-Art American Cherry butcher-block countertops: Specialty Kitchens. Foundation Brick Paper Matte backsplash tile: Ann Sacks. Faucet: Grohe. Sink: Kohler. Refrigerator and dishwasher: Blomberg. Range: KitchenAid.
Sweeten founder and CEO weighs in on what to know before renovating a brownstone.
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 on Sweeten.
Keller Williams has launched its new neighborhood-based home search app to coincide with the updated website that was launched earlier this year.
The new home search tool is web- and app-based, and aims to give homebuyers and sellers a deeper understanding of the city they are searching in by neighborhood.
On Jan. 1, the real estate company launched a redesign of its website, becoming more user-friendly and hyperlocal.
The experience will be continually updated to feature Keller Williams’ expanding home-search capabilities, the company said in a release. It is powered by data feeds from Keller Williams’ acquisition of Smarter Agent, announced in September 2018.
“I believe that in a lot of ways the cell phone is the remote control for people’s lives,” Keller Williams Vice President of Industry, Jason Abrams said to HousingWire in January. “…The app is less about the company and more about the relationship with the consumer and the real estate agent. When I think about an app, each real estate agent needs to have their app in the consumer’s phone.”
The company said the app is designed to empower agents, not replace them.
Via the app, homebuyers can view the market stats for any neighborhood, discover what neighbors have to say about an area, calculate commute times to popular destinations, check the report card of nearby schools, explore restaurants, grocery stores, shops and more.
Buy and sell guides are also available in the app, with real-time information about the status and full steps of a home transaction.
“With the release of the new KW App, agents will be able to enable their client to navigate the entire real estate transaction straight from their phone,” Gary Keller, co-founder and CEO of Keller Williams said in a release. “All while keeping the agent at the center of everything.”
How to detect and avoid five of the most common household hazards.
Home is where you feel comfortable and safe. It’s where you tuck your kids into bed and lazily watch hours of Netflix on the couch.
Without your care and vigilance, however, your home may develop conditions that can make you severely ill — or even kill you.
Here are five ways your home can potentially harm you and expert advice on keeping these issues from affecting your household.
Though mold isn’t a pathogen (a disease-causing agent), it’s still an allergen that you don’t want hanging around your house.
“When people say they have a mold allergy or they have a mold condition, it’s an allergic reaction,” says Peter Duncanson, director of business operations for disaster restoration specialists ServiceMaster Restore. “[Molds] generally considered toxic are ones like stachybotrys, which are black in color — but not all black molds cause the same reactions.”
Molds, including black molds like stachybotrys, form if moisture concentrates in an area where a food source is present, such as skin cells or paper. You know you have mold growing in your home if you smell an earthy, musty scent. Though mold exposure won’t severely harm the average person, repeated exposure is not advised for your health.
“The buildup [of mold] causes a more violent reaction, and those reactions are generally respiratory in nature and pulmonary, so you have trouble breathing,” Duncanson explains. “A very severe reaction to mold can be anaphylactic — you can’t breathe, and you go into an anaphylactic shock.”
Luckily, you can prevent mold by keeping your home dry, running the exhaust fan when taking a shower, and purchasing a dehumidifier for the basement in the summer.
If you do find black mold (or what’s commonly referred to as toxic mold) in your home, don’t panic. Contact a professional who can safely remove the mold and eliminate the water source feeding it.
2. Exposed asbestos
Asbestos was a commonly used building material up until the mid-20th century, when it was determined to be a very dangerous carcinogen that causes mesothelioma cancer. Though builders aren’t legally allowed to use asbestos in building materials and other products anymore, traces of it are often found in older homes.
“Asbestos is not harmful to you if you don’t disturb it,” Duncanson says. “The problem arises when you start cutting or doing demolition and asbestos becomes airborne.”
It may be tempting to DIY an open-concept living space in your vintage bungalow, but if your home was built before the 1980s, seek the advice of a professional before you start knocking down any walls. The latency period of mesothelioma cancer can be years, so problems may not arise until much later in your life.
Handling asbestos is a dangerous task, and professionals have the equipment to remove it safely without risking your health.
3. Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills thousands of people each year, occurs when there’s too much carbon monoxide in your blood. This can result in tissue damage or death.
Improperly ventilated appliances like stoves, water heaters and gas appliances can release carbon monoxide. Improperly cleaned chimneys cause smoke to circulate throughout the home — this can also give you carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Andy Kerns, a home maintenance researcher.
To protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, properly ventilate appliances and clean heat sources like wood-burning stoves every year before use. Call a professional if you have any doubts about the safety and security of your appliances or ventilation within your home.
Seven people in the U.S. die each day from house fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Most of these house fires are the result of normal, everyday use of appliances, candles and cooking equipment. The most surprising fire starter, however, lives in the laundry room.
“Dryer lint can collect in the dryer and become an electrical fire starter,” says Kerns. “Dryers are the number one cause of house fires.”
To prevent house fires, ensure that your appliances have the right rating before you plug them into outlets. Always extinguish candles after usage and carefully watch the stove when cooking.
5. Slippery bathroom surfaces
The bathroom is often ranked as the most dangerous room in the home. Wet, slippery surfaces often lead to falls — and result in anything from embarrassment to a fractured hip.
“Bathtubs, especially, are an area where you can fall and hit your head,” notes Kerns. “A lot of people get pretty severely injured in the bathroom, particularly when they’re older.”
As we get older, bathroom safety gets more pertinent, so it’s a great idea to install things like grab bars or a walk-in tub for ease of use as you age. Be sure to wipe down any wet surfaces, and place bath mats by the sink and tub to prevent bathroom falls.
Keep tabs on your home
Taking the time to slow down and keep your home safe is essential for any homeowner. Give your home a monthly, semiannual and annual checkup to keep it in tip-top condition for years to come.
“Given how busy our lives are, and all the different things we have to keep track of in our digital environments, it’s harder and harder to keep some of the physical maintenance issues top of mind. I think a lot of people tend to let things go until there’s a problem,” says Kerns. “Don’t leave it up to your memory. Have a good, reliable organizational system that keeps you up to date.”
Using data from the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers we can break down household composition, and the relationships it has on home purchasing choices.
Among all recent home buyers, 61% were married couples, 17% were single females, 9% were single males, and 9% were unmarried couples.
3% of recent buyers identified as gay or lesbian, and 1% identified as bisexual.
Among first-time buyers, 53% were married couples, and 67% of repeat buyers were married couples.
Among first-time buyers, 17% were unmarried couples, and 5% of repeat buyers were married couples.
Among all home buyers, 83% purchased a detached single-family home, 6% purchased a townhouse/row house, 5% purchased an apartment or condo.
87% of married couples, and 86% of unmarried couples purchased a detached single-family home.
Married couple buyers were typically 46 years old with a household income of $106,900. They typically purchased a home that was a median of 2,020 sq. ft., for $294,000.
Unmarried couple buyers were typically 34 years old with a household income of $91,700. They typically purchased a home that was a median of 1,700 sq. ft., for $227,660.
Single female buyers were typically 54 years old with a household income of $65,000. They typically purchased a home that was a median of 1,500 sq. ft., for $200,450.
Single male buyers were typically 52 years old with a household income of $72,800. They typically purchased homes that were a median of 1,500 sq. ft., for $189,920.
15% of all buyers were influenced to choose their neighborhood based on the convenience to a vet or outdoor space for their pet. 27% of unmarried couples chose their neighborhood based on the convenience to a vet or outdoor space for their pet.
For more information on how relationship status and household composition affects homeownership choices, check out the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
Jon Bon Jovi fans may often wonder what his rock star life is like, and here’s their chance to take a sneak peek: His New Jersey mansion is for sale, and the photos show that his digs are worthy of his legendary status.
Located on 15 acres in Middleton, NJ, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Navesink River, an hour outside New York City, High Point Estate boasts six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, all in an 18,000-square-foot French-inspired château.
So how much is it worth? Bon Jovi has decided to leave that number a mystery. According to the listing from Christie’s, the price is available “upon request.”
Inside Jon Bon Jovi’s NJ mansion
Designed by the celebrated architect Robert A.M. Stern, High Point Estate features stately solid wooden double doors, large windows, French balconies, and even a double-wide entrance driveway.
And this isn’t even the only building on the property. The mansion comes with four additional outbuildings, including a three-bedroom carriage house and Bon Jovi’s recording studio. It’s a perfect mix of history and rock and roll.
But the most impressive features of this home are on the inside. The living room is huge, with a 12-foot ceiling and gorgeous fireplace. The living room flows to the bar, which features a large window so that guests can enjoy the riverfront views.
Of course, we can’t forget the stunning dining room, designed to accommodate a round dining room table for optimum dinner conversations. The dining room isn’t the only place perfect for congregating. There’s a luxurious in-home theater, a family room with a fireplace, and even an outside sitting area complete with an outdoor fireplace.
Upstairs, there are two wings, one for staff and one for the family—the latter of which includes four en suites—including the luxurious master bedroom, worthy of a rock god.
With so much space, the property might be better used for something other than a family residence.
“A great buyer might be a boutique hotel operator or an events company,” says Jeanne Whipple, owner of the Philly Home Girls at Elfant Wissahickon Realtors®. “This property wouldn’t only be a great palace to live in, but a great place to work or stay if the local ordinances allow it. I’d love to go to a luxury music camp there for a week.”
So, how much is Bon Jovi’s house really worth?
But the question still stands: Why keep the price tag a secret?
“There are all sorts of reasons the exact price of luxury houses like this one aren’t listed,” says Tyler Drew, a real estate developer in California. “Many times, the owner simply doesn’t want to advertise it to the world. ‘Price available upon request’ in the luxury market usually means ‘You can’t afford it.'”
“Often when celebrities or high net worth individuals sell their homes, they are seeking discretion and privacy,” agrees Brad Bateman, a real estate agent in New York.
“When I have shown celebrity homes in the past, it is standard for the listing agent to ask that we sign a nondisclosure agreement, so that we don’t discuss anything about the home or its famous owner to our friends or colleagues.”
But Cara Ameer, a real estate agent licensed in California and Florida, also points out that real estate agents don’t disclose the price in order to add an aura of mystery and pique the curiosity of the public.
“There are varying viewpoints on this, but some real estate professionals feel that assigning a public price tag to an exquisite property sort of cheapens it, and it may eliminate some buyers from considering it altogether,” says Ameer.
“By disclosing a number, some buyers may judge the property by that alone and eliminate it, feeling that it doesn’t measure up to the number being asked for.”
This tactic could also prove useful for those who aren’t celebrities—in fact, we could see more mystery prices in the future.
“We see the ‘Price to be determined by market’ or ‘Pricing upon request’ moniker frequently in the commercial sphere,” Kurt Westfield, MBA, managing director, WC Equity Group. “I feel it does serve some purpose and also acts as a prescreening for potential buyers. Plus, by not listing a price, the market value is then determined by purchase offers and not by a seller’s opinion.”
Still, real estate agents can wager a guess as to what the price would be.
“Given its size, location, and amenities, I’d say at least $100 million,” says Drew.
Westfield has a way different figure in mind. “There is another listing in the same ZIP code at just under $3 million,” he says. “Granted, it has roughly 60% less square footage and isn’t being sold by a celebrity. There is another at just under $12 million, with 10% more square footage and just slightly less acreage. I would assess pricing Bon Jovi’s property at roughly $14 million.”
Are any of these guesses correct? Only time—or Bon Jovi himself—can tell you that.
Purchasing a home can be one of the most stressful financial transactions most people ever make, causing about a third of buyers to lose sleep.
That’s according to a new survey from Seattle real estate startup Flyhomes asking 1,000 people about the stress of homebuying. About 15% of respondents said they were reduced to tears during the process while 20% got in a fight with their spouse or partner because of the stress.
Almost two-thirds of the buyers said purchasing a property “was more stressful than they expected,” the Flyhomes report said.
“Stress and homebuying tend to go hand-in-hand, even more than people think,” it said.
About 40% said they spent more than they expected to when purchasing a home, the report said. Half of the people who overspent say that they paid more than $20,000 more than they expected to – and 14% went more than $50,000 over budget.
Almost a quarter of buyers said they had some regrets about their purchase. When asked about specifics, over half say their new home required unexpected repairs or maintenance, a quarter said property taxes were higher than they expected, and 20% said maintenance was more work than they expected.
There were other regrets:
Almost 1 in 5 said they weren’t happy with the location.
About a third said they wished they’d bought a larger house.
One in 5 said they wished they had more bathrooms.
Nearly a third said they wished for a larger kitchen.
Campaign ads are already airing. Debates and town halls are being held. Democratic primaries and caucuses are underway. Some eight months away from voting day, the 2020 election cycle is ramping up. However, while some presidential hopefuls are laying out their housing policies, the impact of the electoral process on residential real estate is yet to fully unfold.
Across the nation, the market still seems set on its normal trajectory. In January, nationwide inventory continued to decline, while median listing price climbed to nearly $300,000. According to realtor.com, last month marked a re-acceleration in price gains, as an increasing number of cities posted yearly growth of over 10%.
Still, research and industry experts agree that the closer the election gets, the more likely its effects on housing, regardless of who the candidates are. In general, presidential races breed uncertainty in the housing market, which alters attitudes among home shoppers, sellers and investors and, thus, sways sale volumes and values.
“Why [presidential elections] affects the market more than any other elections is simply because people fear change,” says Matt Laricy, managing broker of The Matt Laricy Group in Chicago. “Whenever people get nervous, they don’t make rational decisions. They make emotional decisions.”
On a large scale, though, that behavior tends to mature with the progression of the election year and intensifies in the second half of that year.
How predictable the outcome of a presidential election appears to be can also influence real estate sentiments. When an incumbent arises as a likely winner, cementing the continuation of familiar policies, the housing market may experience less jitters, said Arlene Reed, a real estate agent with Warburg Realty in New York City.
When the election result evades easy forecasts, “people get a little tentative,” Reed says. “There’s some uncertainty how the new president’s policies will affect the economy, the stock market, taxes.”
Sales slide down, but prices may not budge
In a recent study that analyzed the last 13 presidential election years, which stretch back to the 1980s, Meyers Research, a housing consultancy firm, found out that new home sales record a drop in median sale activity of 15% from October to November, when the nation chooses its president. In the year following the election, the traditional seasonal decline in the sales of new construction abodes is only 8%.
Appraiser Jonathan Miller, owner of Miller Samuel, made a similar observation for Manhattan’s co-op sales in a data crunch he originally conducted for the real estate publication The Real Deal. Between 2008 and 2019, co-op sales began to dip in July of federal election years (both midterms and presidential elections), leading to a nearly 13% weaker market in September.
“Even though the election is at federal level and we’re looking at the local market, it’s still very visceral to consumers,” Miller says.
In most markets, though, the rebound is quick, if not instantaneous as pent-up demand gushes out after clarity dawns in the Oval Office.
“In December [following an election], and in the following year, the sales that are lost during November are recovered,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research for Meyers Research. “It isn’t that consumers say, ‘I’m nervous, and I never want to buy.’ They say, ‘I’m nervous. Let’s just wait to see how things play out.’”
The impact of presidential elections on prices seems less clear-cut. Because any fluctuation in sale volumes occurs for only a limited number of months, prices may not have enough time to reflect that change. In New York City, Miller says, “it really takes anywhere from one to two years in sales pattern to have a permanent change or a significant change in price direction.”
This year, Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at online brokerage Redfin, says prices may not budge much, buoyed by a consistently tight inventory. Fairweather said that “prices are pretty stable.”
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors and fellow Forbes.com contributor, echos that assertion, saying that he “hope[s] the price increase in 2020 is more moderate at 3% or 4%,” compared to past years.
If prices do post smaller gains in 2020, however, the presidential election might be one factor for that. In 2012, analyzing data by the California Association of Realtors, Movoto, a real estate technology company, concluded that in presidential election years price appreciation falls about 1.5% behind the gains made in the year preceding and the one following the vote.
Potential winners and losers
The effects of presidential elections on residential real estate usually reverberate louder in the upper echelons of the market. Yun says, “Upper-income people will probably wait until after the election compared to more middle-class, everyday people just because any changes to a new tax law or new regulations could have a bigger impact for them.”
During a presidential election, many foreigners also choose to postpone purchasing property in the U.S. as the rules that govern the tax and residency implications of such an action could change with the arrival of a new administration. Laricy says he has several international clients who have already decided to wait out the outcome of the November vote.
However, with today’s favorable economic outlook when it comes to mortgage rates, unemployment and consumer confidence, the upcoming presidential election might do little to impede first-time buyers or those shopping for lower-to-median values homes.
“They’re really more concerned about, ‘Do I have a job? Is the economy going to continue to grow?’” Wolf says. “Who gets elected can impact that but as long as there’s not some wild policy, those groups will generally continue to fare well in an election year or not.”
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