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Filed under: Buying, Economy, Selling Gustav Dejert/Getty Be prepared for a race to the finish if you're looking to buy in California these days. As they did in the Gold Rush of 1849, Americans are racing westward in 2015. Trulia's Housing Economist Ralph McLaughlin noted that five of the 10 fastest-moving real estate markets this year are located in the Golden State, while sales have slowed in such eastern states as New York, Tennessee, and South Carolina. It looks like 2015 is seeing its next Gold Rush, but this time, it's with homes -- and they're selling incredibly fast. In fact, less than 30% of homes for sale in three San Francisco Bay Area metros remained on the market after two months. Why are people racing to buy in California? Well, each one of the cities on this list has its own charm. Let's see what you can buy in the Golden State's hottest markets. 1. San Francisco You almost have to ask what the City by the Bay doesn't have. Great food, great sights like the Golden Gate Bridge and Park, and lots of business opportunities. And with the average home selling for more than $1 million, the real estate market in San Francisco is just as fast-paced as its tech innovations. So what can you get for $549,000 (roughly the midpoint of the median)? You could vie for this one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in the Castro or this teeny, tiny 678-square-foot home in Mission Terrace. Either way, come prepared to battle it out with dozens of other buyers. 2. San Jose Tech companies and their employees clearly know the way to San Jose, nicknamed the "Capital of Silicon Valley." The third-largest city in California, San Jose reached the 1 million population milestone last year and shows no signs of slowing. This is home to the headquarters of a number of huge tech companies (Cisco Systems, Adobe Systems, PayPal, eBay, and so many more) and buyers are scooping up newly built condos, roomy Victorian single-family homes, and everything in between. If you can pony up the median asking price of $800,000, you can look forward to harvesting lemons from the mature fruit trees and hosting some epic barbecues in the backyard of this 1960s ranch-style home. 3. Oakland Across the bay from San Francisco lies Oakland, a city with a rough reputation -- Anna Bloom of the New York Times described growing up there as "a mix of growth, grit, and crime." But things are changing as newcomers and businesses are beginning to take advantage of Oakland's proximity to San Francisco, according to Fortune magazine. With homes half the price of those across the bay, more buyers could afford this tidily renovated Montclair cottage (listed at $599,000). 4. San Diego Almost any native of this city will give you the following advice: "Get a California burrito and carne asada fries. You'll thank me later." San Diego can boast the Gaslamp Quarter, beautiful Coronado Island, Comic-Con International -- and the fact that it was home to Will Ferrell's "Anchorman" movies. Earlier this year, San Diego was ranked the second-most-expensive city to buy a house in, making it a seller's market. (And buyers are digging it.) Live the dream in this cozy 560-square-foot Mission Beach cottage. It'll cost you, though -- it's listed at $559,000, well within the average for this sunny city. 5. Orange County Widely known as "The OC" (even off TV), Los Angeles' suburban neighbor is experiencing a big economic upswing. Last month, The Orange County Register's Jonathan Lansner reported that local businesses are booming and the amount of money spent on cars is at a seven-year high. Orange County is home to such affluent beach communities as Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, as well as Disneyland over in Anaheim. Chapman University and the University of California at Irvine also call The OC home. All those California vibes don't come cheap -- if you want to soak up the coastal views in a cliffside home like this one, be prepared to fork over a cool $18 million. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: News, Buying, Celebrity Homes Zillow Tommy Hilfiger took three years to renovate his two-story, 6,000-square-foot penthouse at New York's famed Plaza Hotel. It is taking him about as long to sell it. The American fashion tycoon has dropped the price of the four-bedroom duplex to $75 million, the Real Deal reported. Hilfiger listed the penthouse in 2013 for $80 million just before he married his second wife, Dee Ocleppo. Before another round of renovations, Hilfiger once had it on the market for $50 million, according to Curbed. Hilfiger purchased the classic unit and a neighboring unit for $25 million in 2008 when it was marketed as a "fixer-upper," reported AOL Real Estate. Hilfiger says he likes that this residence is in an iconic building on Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park. "I always wanted to acquire trophy real estate because location, location, location is very important. As an investment you can't do better than that," he says in a CNNMoney video. The condo, on the 18th and 19th floors, has views of Central Park and Fifth Avenue from a private terrace. The Plaza is a fully staffed 24-hour white-glove condominium with a separate entrance from the hotel, according to the listing. Residents are offered the full complement of hotel services, including maid, valet and Todd English room service. "Only the most luxurious finishes and materials were used to restore this property to its original grandeur, complete with 21st Century conveniences," according to the listing. A round, domed room in a turret contains a custom mural paying homage to Eloise, a character from Kay Thompson's 1950s books about a girl who lives in the "room on the tippy-top floor" of the Plaza Hotel. "If you surround yourself with things you love, it makes for a great home design," Hilfiger told CNN. Zillow Zillow Zillow Zillow Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: How To Greg801/GettyThe disgusting stuff on your wall could be mold, black mold or mildew. Figuring that out is the first step in getting rid of it. Removing black mold from your home can sound like a daunting task. Just the term "black mold" sounds scary enough. If you're willing to buy the proper safety equipment and can stomach scrubbing and removing mold damage for up to a few weeks, you can save hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars. Deciding when to call in a professional is a personal decision, but there are two signs that black mold has progressed too far to easily remove it yourself, says David Olson of PuroClean, a property damage restoration company. "When the odor is becoming so bad that it's giving them a headache," or a finger can be pushed through drywall damaged by black mold, Olson says. Removal is charged by the square foot and varies by where you live, he says. Removing mold from and repairing a standard shower can cost from $1,600 to $4,500, Olson says. To avoid such costs, here are some ways to remove black mold in your home on your own: 1. Determine What it Is The musty smell under a sink may not be black mold -- which is a mold that has been left for quite awhile -- and may just be simple mold, Olson says. The difference is that mold is a live spore, while black mold could be toxic. Mildew, for example, is often confused with being mold, but it can be easily cleaned with bleach or other surface cleaners. Not all visible molds that are black are dangerous, and mold testing may be needed to confirm if toxic spores are in your house, according to the website BlackMoldRemoval.com. Homeowners should test their homes every three to five years for potential mold problems, says Caroline Blazovsky, a healthy home expert. "Not all mold problems are visible," Blazovsky says. "Sometimes, you get lucky and see mold growing on areas like basement walls or bathroom walls to know there is a problem. But, many times mold is in between walls behind showers, underneath flooring and under kitchen appliances -- places we cannot get to." She recommends doing a mold air test with a professional air pump sampler, either with a certified inspector or a DIY kit. 2. Find the Source and Stop the Damage If you see or smell black mold in your house, it's probably in an area of high moisture, such as a bathroom that isn't vented well enough, or from a water leak such as a leaking pipe. Repair the leak before deciding if you're going to repair the damage yourself. Once moisture from water damage or condensation has been provided, mold will use a food source such as insulation, fabric, drywall or carpet to grow and cause damage. 3. Get an Inspection Hiring a professional to determine the amount of damage can be the safest way to figure out how much black mold is in your home and help you understand how to fix it. An industrial hygienist can test rooms other than where the mold was found to determine if it has grown to other areas. If you decide to go with a professional mold removal company, their experts will tell you what steps to take next, such as possibly leaving the house while they do their work. To protect your family's health, a professional mold removal company is the best way to go. If you decide to do the work yourself, continue the following steps. 4. Wear Protective Gear According to BlackMoldRemoval.com, you'll need to start by buying mold removal gear to protect yourself from airborne mold spores. Use an N-95 respirator, available online or at a local hardware store for from $20 to $50. You'll also need gloves, goggles, long-sleeved shirts and pants. Everyone else should leave the house during cleanup. 5. Seal Affected Areas Water damaged rooms and rooms with potential mold growth should be sealed with heavy-duty plastic sheets to contain airborne spores. Force mold spores out windows with negative pressure from an exhaust fan. 6. Discard Water-Damaged Material After the water damage has been contained, allow the area to dry for up to 48 hours. Porous materials such as carpet, drywall and fabric may retain moisture. Toss water-damaged materials that show signs of mold growth. 7. Scrub Away Visible mold can be scrubbed off hard surface with water and detergent. Then allow the surfaces to dry thoroughly. If mold has dried, lightly spray the area with water before cleaning to prevent the release of airborne spores. Commercial mold removal products can be used, but the EPA discourages using chlorine bleach to remove mold. Natural mold removal agents include hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, tea tree oil, and baking soda. There are a lot of misconceptions about how to get rid of and prevent mold, with one of the most popular being that bleach is best, says Pete Duncanson, a mold remediation expert at ServiceMaster Restore. Bleach has a reputation of killing mold and everything else, but it doesn't because the mold doesn't die. It only goes dormant, Duncanson says. "Consumer products reduce discoloration and the appearance of mold," he says, "but the only way to truly get rid of mold is to cut it out of an area," or call in a professional to manage larger issues such as mold in an HVAC system. 8. Clean All Surfaces To prevent mold from returning, clean all surfaces thoroughly to remove residual spores. Allow all surfaces to dry. Dry vacuum the room with a HEPA filter vacuum to remove embedded spores. 9. Toss Mold-Cleaning Equipment Put anything that was used in the black mold cleanup in a heavy duty, sealed garbage bag. This should include clothing, sponges and other cleaning material. When to call a professional? Olson's recommendation is when mold returns after you've made numerous attempts to clean it yourself. That's a clear sign that something you're doing isn't working. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling ZillowThis bedroom in the West Hollywood home of Harold Perrineau, star of "Lost," is appealing, but modest as L.A. goes. By Melissa Allison It's not often you can peer into the bedrooms of the rich and famous, but these homes for sale or rent are your chance. Harold Perrineau Zillow Lost? Nope, he's just down the street. After buying a house nearby, Perrineau listed this Spanish-style compound that oozes old-time Hollywood charm and boasts a walk-in closet big enough for the family's wardrobe and its own, um, island. The listing agents are Josh and Matt Altman of Douglas Elliman. Larry Ellison Zillow If the Winklevoss rental is out of your league, maybe this tech mogul's place will do. The Los Angeles Times reports that Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is asking $65,000 a month for his Malibu cottage with ocean views, including from the bedroom. The rental agent is Beata Mandell of Executive Realty Group. Liam Gallagher Zillow Check out these Wonderwalls! The Oasis frontman, who's reportedly getting the '90s pop band back together, has been trying to sell his Manhattan digs with the snazzy leopard-print bedroom for the better part of a year. The listing agents are Tal and Oren Alexander of Douglas Elliman. Trent Reznor Zillow Not to be outdone, the frontman for Nine Inch Nails, a band that already staged a comeback, has listed his place in Beverly Hills, Trulia reported. It has a private balcony with show-stopping views of the city and is listed by Richard Stearns of Partners Trust. Josh Hamilton Zillow And finally, it's the embattled baseball star's bedroom with the fireplace, the chandelier and the ocean view. The Dallas Morning News -- which recently reported the Los Angeles Angels player had filed for divorce around the time news of his substance-abuse relapse broke -- also reported the listing in the Newport Coast community in Orange County, California. (Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant also recently put a house on the market there.) The agent is Kevin Aaronson of The Aaronson Group. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Design, Home Improvement, How To Courtesy of MandibuleThe Positive Energy ECOXIA House in Yerres, France, is a certified Passivhaus, built for sustainability and efficiency. There are many options available for those who want to build a "green" house. The number of sustainable and energy-efficient options used in the construction is dependent on budget, taste and the level of desire to be independent of the grid and utilize sustainable practices. Here is a checklist of things to consider when building or remodeling a home to be sustainable and energy efficient: 1. Insulation First and foremost, use excellent insulation. Be sure there is adequate insulation, whether it is spray foam, cellulose, fiberglass, etc. The foundation, attic and exterior walls must all be properly insulated. 2. Air Sealing Be sure to check for air infiltration. This can be done with a blower door test that will show where outside air is coming into the house. A tightly sealed home requires less heating and cooling. 3. Windows Buy the best windows you can with your budget. Today there are many options in design, frame material, color and efficiency of windows. There are double and triple-pane windows, as well as gas-filled ones. Even frames can be insulated. Also, when designing a home, it is wise to have more windows on the south side of the house to take advantage of solar gain. Having fewer windows on the north side of the house prevents solar loss in those areas. 4. Appliances Use ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. They consume far less energy than non-rated ones. That saves energy and dollars throughout the life of the appliance. 5. Non-toxic Materials Make sure all stains, finishes, paints and adhesives are no-VOC or low-VOC. These toxins can continue to seep into the air and can cause illness and discomfort. 6. FSC-certified Wood Using wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council helps provide healthy forests for future generations. 7. Passive Solar Orientation Orient the house for optimal solar gain, if possible. This limits the need for artificial lighting and saves money on electricity, while also reducing energy costs. 8. Footprint Limit the hallways in the house. Space should be used efficiently so there are fewer square feet to heat and cool. When a house is well designed, less space can still provide all the areas and functions desired. 9. Multi-functional Rooms For example, a guest bedroom can easily work as an office or playroom when friends or family are not visiting. Courtesy of Jim TetroThe 4D House built by Team Massachusetts for the Solar Decathlon has a partition wall that can be closed for privacy in the bedroom or opened to increase the entertaining area. 10. Flexible Rooms Walls can sometimes be moved to open up space for entertaining, as seen in a house built by students at the University of Massachusetts for the Solar Decathlon, a competition staged by the U.S. Department of Energy. 11. Ventilation To maintain a healthy indoor environment, a tightly built house requires adequate ventilation. Heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators are systems that continuously exchange the stale inside air with fresh outside air, while retaining the warmth or coolness already created in the house. 12. Low-flow Faucets and Showerheads and Dual-flush Toilets Both of these substantially reduce the water being used in the house. 13. Recycled, Reused, and Reclaimed Materials This limits our depletion of natural resources as well as the amount of material that goes into landfills. There are many types of recycled, reused and reclaimed materials -- including countertops made with recycled glass, reclaimed flooring and antique furnishings. 14. Lighting LED and CFL lighting uses less energy than incandescent bulbs and the bulbs last much longer. The cost of these efficient bulbs is going down, and the variety of bulbs available has expanded. 15. Large Overhangs Large overhangs around the house block the sun's heat in the summer months when the sun is high in the sky. In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky (in the northern hemisphere), overhangs allow the sun to come in through the windows and help heat the house. 16. An Efficient Water Heater Traditional water heaters maintain a tank full of warm water and are continuously using energy. Tankless water heaters heat water on demand. 17. Native Plant Landscaping Using plants indigenous to the area limits the need for irrigation and fertilization. 18. Permeable Paving Using paving materials that are permeable, such as gravel, allows rainwater and melted snow to return to the water table. 19. Solar Hot Water Panels The cost of solar panels is coming down and there are subsidies available to reduce the cost further. Hot water panels can be used to heat the household's water or be used as part of a radiant heating system. 20. Photovoltaic Panels PV panels can be used to reduce or eliminate the electric load. While connected to the grid, they can provide electricity when it is needed and receive electricity when the sun is not out. Extra electricity can also be returned to the grid to reduce electric costs. 21. Thermal Mass Stone and other high-mass materials can be used to absorb energy when the sun beats down on them. That heat (or coolness) can later be released when it is needed. Some houses have stone around the periphery of the room where the sun is most likely to hit. 22. Heating System A heating and cooling system that limits the energy consumed should be used. Heat pumps are becoming more popular in this country and quite popular around the world. They can be used successfully when the house is built with a very energy-efficient envelope. Permalink | Email this | Comments
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