Monthly Archives: December 2013

What is a Contemporary House Style?

What is a Contemporary House Style?

Even though they are not “contemporary” to anyone who is living in the 21st century, the name contemporary most often represents the mid-century modern house style that can be found in small pockets throughout Metrowest. In my opinion, they look best when they come with commanding views such as when sited on hilltops or near the water.

Perhaps the most famous of all contemporary homes is the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his famous “Falling Waters” house in western Pennsylvania.  There are no homes designed by him in Metrowest, but there are quite a few that show inspiration from his use of native materials, combining inside and outside spaces into one and design simplicity.

Builders and buyers liked the clean lines and contemporary styling and the great use of space associated with these multi-level homes, and built them here primarily in the 1960’s and 1970’s although they are still built today. There is no exact defining set of elements, almost all of these homes are architect-designed and can range from minimalist to deconstructionist to Bauhaus to A-Frame styles

Some of the common characteristics are: garage placement on the front of the home to cut building costs: shallow, pitched roofs that often extend from a higher level down over the lower level: simple, linear rooms that are cost effective to build and often attempt to “bring nature inside”; windows that are very large and sometimes trapezoidal following the roof pitch in gables; and exterior finishes that are a mix of natural materials like wood, brick, or rock combined with Texture-111 and cedar board-and-batten vertical siding.

Because split-levels, raised ranches and multi-levels are sometimes considered less desirable than many other house styles, realtors often label those three styles as a “contemporary”. So a word to the wise, if you find a contemporary on the listing services or one of the real estate portals and it’s living area is less than 2000 square feet, it probably has some kind of feature that with a little hyperbole could be considered to make it a contemporary, but it’s usually a split.

Contemporary homes appeal to a limited buyer pool in Metrowest (unlike colonials) so because of this their market value is usually lower than similarly sized more traditional house styles. Also because the pool of buyers is smaller their time on market is usually longer. However, if you like them (and I do), there is a diverse assortment of terrific contemporaries available in the Metrowest market.

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For some great examples of Contemporary Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link

 

 

If you had to choose would you pick a bigger backyard or a bigger house?

If you had to choose would you pick a bigger backyard or a bigger house?

Whenever anyone engages me a conversation about real estate (which is quite often) or when I’m at a party and need a little conversation starter I ask “If you had to choose would you pick a bigger backyard or a bigger house?” You’d be amazed at the answers I get. There is one consistent response. The answer I get the most is … “It depends on how you live your life”.

If you’re wrestling with this very question, I think the best thing you can do is make a personal list of pros and cons to help you with making the decision. Here are some of the responses I’ve gotten, I hope they might help you jump start your own list.

Reasons to go with a bigger yard:

  1. Having other houses close to you an issue
  2. Less house to keep clean and the kids can play outside
  3. Vegetable and flower gardens, picnics and campfires
  4. Active kids with any sport involving a ball and a stick
  5. Beautiful weather year-round makes the yard an extension of the house
  6. Large animal pets, barnyard animals, chickens
  7. Enjoy working outside
  8. Bigger house is just too expensive to maintain/clean/heat/keep cool/etc.
  9. You can always add on to your house but you won’t be able to add on to your lot size
  10. A larger yard tends to mean more privacy
  11. Hate house work and cleaning
  12. The amount of time, energy, and effort to maintain a big house is too much
  13. Bigger house means you have to own more stuff to fill it … just too much temptation to accumulate stuff.
  14. Yard is more environmentally friendly than house
  15. Like big kid toys like motorcycles, snowmobiles, boats, etc.

Reasons to go with a bigger house:

  1. Grew up in Cambridge, what’s a yard for?
  2. With unpredictable weather a bigger house gives you more inside space to spend your time
  3. Really love house cleaning (yes, some people really do)
  4. Large yards take lots of maintenance
  5. Into crafts and cooking and love to entertain
  6. More storage space
  7. Hate yard work and it’s just a burden
  8. If you can afford a housekeeper, a bigger house is all living space
  9. Additions are expensive if you need them later
  10. Public parks are everywhere and they’re free
  11. You’re in your house more than you’re outside in general
  12. We went from a small house and a bigger yard to a bigger house and smaller yard and I definitely like the bigger house
  13. A large home is the home of our dreams
  14. A large home stimulates more social interaction among the members of the family
  15. Really love to decorate

As I said before, your decision really depends on how you live your life. I personally don’t think there really is any one right answer for everyone, but the results of my totally unscientific research suggest that the majority of people tend to want a bigger yard.

Mortgage Rates Today and A Historic Perspective

Mortgage Rates Today and A Historic Perspective

Interest rates today have gone up a bit but are still at historic lows and they’re still very favorable for buyers. I’ve put together this simple chart to illustrate how historically low they really are.

  • Today……………………………….4.625 %
  • 2013………………………………………….4.125 %
  • 2004 & 2005……………………………..5.71 %
  • 2003………………………………………….5.92 %
  • 1998………………………………………….6.79 %
  • 1990’s (average)………………………….9.80%
  • 1979 – 1989 (double digits)………….10+ %
  • 1987 drop…………………………………..9.2 %
  • 1980’s (average)…………………………12.62 %
  • 1973-1980 (average)……………………9.43%
  • 1973-1982 (range)………………………7.44 – 17.49%

 

Note: these rates are for 30 year conventional fixed notes with grade A credit scores on single family homes, your experience may vary. Data courtesy of Keith Munsell at Leader Bank.

When I bought my first home, in the late ’80s, I remember paying an extra point to lock in the interest rate at 14.5%, and thought I had gotten such a fabulous deal as the rates were going up weekly Sure enough when we closed they had gone up to 15.75%.

Interesting aside, as of today the rate for a 30 year fixed JUMBO mortgage is lower (4.25%) than it has been in a long while. Great news for buyers looking to upsize.

Experts are predicting that all the rates will continue to stay low at least for the next year, so if you’re thinking of selling or buying, now is a really good time to call a realtor (shameless plug for me). I hope you found this interesting.

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