Monthly Archives: September 2014

Real Estate Headlines with $83 Billion, a $20K Mistake and Most Expensive City

Hope you enjoyed September because it’s about to take an 11 month vacation. Yes, autumn is coming with its colored leaves, crisper weather and clogged gutters. But before you realize that holiday shopping season is closer than you think, let’s get you going with your weekly dose of real estate headlines.

Here is a list of 8 states where homebuyers are getting 50% off on foreclosed homes.

Can the poor afford to live in New York? Bloomberg thinks so.

College towns are seen as prime for real estate investment.

US News has 8 ways to pay off your mortgage years earlier.

Here are a few quick facts about the hot Toronto housing market.

What is the most expensive city in the world to live and work? (Hint: It’s not in the far east)

Student debt is taking about $83 billion from this year’s real estate market.

Talk about hindsight being 20/20, look at 6 of the costliest home remodeling mistakes.

AOL Real Estate warns you about making a $20,000 housing mistake.

The “Greek Town” housing project has frat boys and sorority girls all pumped.

And finally, HGTV shares some Oscar worthy home theater ideas.

The post Real Estate Headlines with $83 Billion, a $20K Mistake and Most Expensive City appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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Water Conservation: Time for Some WaterSense!

Dallas, Texas, is not known for being a watery oasis. Rather, it’s known for its hot, arid climate. Our neighbor California is currently experiencing yearly water shortages, along with drought conditions — and Texas could be next, as the state’s population continues to expand, unless we start making serious water conservation changes. The Texas Water Development Board reports weekly on the drought status throughout the state. This past summer, Dallas found itself in a level 3 drought (extreme). What does that mean for Dallas-Fort Worth families? Every drop of water is precious. Here’s some ways for Dallas homeowners to improve your water conservation all year long.

Get Familiar with WaterSense

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that, while 70 percent of the planet’s surface is covered by water, only 1 percent of the earth’s water supply is available for human use. To help with this, the EPA created a water conservation program in 2006 called WaterSense. The WaterSense program was developed to help consumers find more water efficient products and partners, as well as to pursue national initiatives in water conservation. Since its inception, consumers have saved 757 billion gallons of water through innovative, water-efficient products and water-saving strategies. Best of all, conserving water reduces the energy used to treat and deliver water.

You can identify WaterSense products, which are marked with a label or logo. From faucets to toilets, shower heads, and even landscape irrigation, there’s a product available to conserve water. For example, a family can save 700 gallons of water per year by installing a Water Sense aerator on each faucet in your home. Toilets can use as much as six gallons of water per flush versus WaterSense toilets, which use 1.28 gallons per flush, a savings of 13,000 gallons per year. The EPA also has a goal to have all inefficient toilets replaced. They write: “Nationally, if all old, inefficient toilets in the United States were replaced with WaterSense labeled models, we could save 520 billion gallons of water per year, or the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls in about 12 days.” For more information about how much water you use and how much you can save, use their water conservation calculator.

Use a Car Wash

Yes, you read that right. In the ’80s, everyone avoided car washes, but thanks to advances in technology, car washes are now “in,” as long as they recycle their water. Washing your car at home can use up to 150 gallons, while a car wash averages 15–85 gallons. Modern car washes are an efficient and better-equipped way to wash your car using high-pressure sprayers, automated processes, and recycling water so it doesn’t end up in the groundwater, or creeks and streams. To find a water-saving car wash near you, visit

Create a Rainwater Harvesting System

For savvy do-it-yourselfers, here’s a conservation tip that can save you thousands. Create a rainwater harvesting system for irrigation. Rainwater is great for plants because it lacks chemicals and salts. By developing your landscape around rainwater collection, you can best utilize this natural resource. You can also add in a storage tank to hold the water and distribute it over time where it’s needed. For more information about rainwater collection, visit this helpful guide by

Ready to test your water sense? Try this fun Pac-Man-style quiz — a fun way to help introduce your kids to water conservation!

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Breaking a Lease in NYC: What You Need to Know

Breaking a lease in NYC is probably the last thing that people that move here ever think they’ll have to do. But life happens, and there may come a time when a renter will have to break a lease. If you ever find yourself in this situation, it’s a good idea to know your rights and obligations.

Check Your Lease for Early-Release Clauses

Many standard boilerplate leases don’t mention anything about what happens when a tenant leaves a lease early, but some landlords do have early-release clauses. These clauses usually say that if a tenant leaves an apartment before the lease is up, the tenant will have to pay one or two months‘ extra rent or give the landlord one or two month’s advance notice (in order to cover the period of time it will take the landlord to look for another tenant). It could also say that the tenant will have to pay the rent until a new tenant is found, even if that process ends up taking the remainder of the lease. Know your options.

Look for a New Tenant As Soon As Possible

As soon as you find out that you will have to break your lease, try to find a new tenant to replace you. By finding a qualified and reliable person to take your spot, you’ve fulfilled your obligation to your landlord, and under most circumstances, you should be able to leave without penalty (though the landlord may be able to turn down the new tenant if there’s a legitimate reason for doing so). The landlord can either give the tenant a brand-new lease or let the tenant sublet the apartment for the remainder of your lease. According to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, “If your landlord refuses to let you out [of your lease], you can ask the landlord if you can ‘assign’ the lease. This means that you would have to find a new tenant. The landlord can refuse to do so, but if his/her refusal is unreasonable s/he must release you from the lease in thirty days upon your request.”

Certain Circumstances May Allow You To Legally Break Your Lease

You may move into what you think is a great apartment, only to find that there are a host of issues and problems that you were unaware of prior to moving in or that sprung up after you moved in. This could include issues like damaged floors, leaky ceilings, and vermin infestations — conditions that make the apartment unsafe or violates New York health or safety codes. If you ask the landlord to fix the problems and the landlord neglects to do so, you have the basis for a situation known as a constructive eviction. Take these steps to pursue a constructive eviction:

  1. Document all the issues in the apartment; take pictures. Call a home inspector or use 311 to file a complaint with the city so that an inspector can come out and take a look. An inspection report listing out the issues will give you the irrefutable proof you need.
  2. Provide documentation and proof that you’ve been in touch with the landlord to resolve these issues, and they weren’t taken care of.
  3. Once you have proof of these issues, as well as proof that your landlord is not fixing them, you should have what you need to go through the process of breaking a lease in NYC.

Image Source: Flickr/Jess Liotta and Colin Liotta

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Home Tip of the Day: The Perfect Host Gift

How many times have you been invited over for dinner and when you ask your host what you can bring, he or she replies “nothing”? Of course, no one likes showing up empty handed, so what do you do? Bring a bottle of wine? A dessert? Well, we have just the thing! We share our secret to the perfect host gift for any dinner party in the below Home Tip of the Day.

If you’re looking for other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location for the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

If you have a handy home hack, we’d love to hear! Post your tip on the Coldwell Banker facebook page.

The post Home Tip of the Day: The Perfect Host Gift appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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6 Must-Try Manayunk Restaurants

Philadelphia is no stranger to uniquely named and somewhat difficult-to-pronounce places. The Schuylkill River is one, for example. Manayunk, a neighborhood located along the edge of the Schuylkill in the northwest corner of the city, is another. Manayunk is derived from the Lenape word for “where we go to drink.” So it’s fitting that there are plenty of attention-worthy Manayunk restaurants, even if they’re off the beaten path and a bit removed from downtown. If you’re looking to move to the area or are just looking for a place to enjoy a great meal, check out some of the best restaurants in the neighborhood.

1. Chabaa Thai

Every neighborhood needs a reliable, tasty Thai restaurant. In Manayunk, Chabaa Thai fits the bill. The executive chef/owner, Moon Krapugthong, offers a range of classic Thai dishes to diners. Chabaa, which is the Thai word for “hibiscus,” has earned high praise from restaurant critics and diners alike. The restaurant is bring your own bottle (BYOB), but does charge a corkage fee.

2. Couch Tomato Cafe/Tomato Bistro

The Couch Tomato Cafe and the Tomato Bistro are actually two Manayunk restaurants in one. The cafe opened in 2003, with a focus on casual dining. While pizza and salads are its major attractions, the cafe’s also known for its rotating selection of soups, which include a number of vegetarian options. Upstairs is the cafe’s more upscale cousin, the Tomato Bistro, which features table service and a fine dining setting, plus a liquor license.

3. Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar

If you’re in the mood for a restaurant that offers a fantastic wine selection, head to Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar. Open for more than 25 years, the restaurant has become a Manayunk institution. Its dinner menu offers a mix of dishes, from small plates to pizzas and from cheese plates to full entrees. There’s also brunch on Sunday.

4. Lucky’s Last Chance

It’s one thing to do fancy food well. It’s another thing to perfect casual dining. Lucky’s Last Chance shines at the latter, offering an eclectic mix of burger and hot dog options, as well as a selection of craft beers, wine, and cocktails. When it comes to burgers, Lucky’s isn’t afraid to get creative. Its PB and Bacon burger won the People’s Choice award during the 2013 Burger Brawl. If a burger mixed with peanut butter, bacon, and jelly isn’t your thing, fear not: the restaurant offers more traditional fare, too.

5. Manayunk Brewery

Located in an old mill, Manayunk Brewery has been making its own local beer since 1996. But beer isn’t the only attraction at this spot. It also offers a wide-ranging menu that includes stone-oven-fired pizza and sushi, as well as brunch. During the warmer months of the year, its outdoor deck overlooking the Schuylkill makes for an excellent spot to enjoy a brew and the view.

6. Taqueria Feliz

When you’re walking down Main Street in Manayunk, you can’t miss Taqueria Feliz, with its bright neon sign and brilliant yellow doors. Inside, the decor and the food are just as vibrant. Tacos are a focus of the menu, which also isn’t afraid to take chances. If you’re feeling daring, try the lamb’s heart skewers or the grasshopper tacos.

Whether you’re looking to buy a home and settle down in Manayunk, or are just visiting from another part of Philly, Manayunk restaurants are worth checking out. You’ll find top-quality picks for all tastes and budgets.

Image Source: Flickr/Lucius Kwok

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Design Styles: When You’re a Little Bit Country and She’s a Little Bit Rock ‘n’ Roll

Oh, wouldn’t it be amazing if our significant others always shared our same exact taste in design styles? We’d go shopping together, exchanging loving glances as we danced through the fourth-floor linen department at ABC Carpet & Home, scooping up snowy-white 400-thread-count linens before heading downtown to the Century 21 department store, where our eyes would fall on the very same massively discounted silver tray set. Instead, we find ourselves with people who cringe at our bohemian vintage armchairs or think that black, puffy faux-leather sofas are the absolute height of style. How do people successfully marry completely different (and often clashing) design styles? If you’re ready to look for a new apartment in NYC with your partner, read these tips before you furnish it.

1. Sit down together and make a list of deal-breaker design styles.

The way your home is decorated is going to directly impact on how you feel every time you walk through the front door. If you hate a decor element so much it makes you see red every time you see it, it should not be in your home — so make sure it’s on this list. Once you’ve each compiled a list of things you dislike, share your lists with each other and discuss. If your partner despises something you love (and vice versa), now’s the time to negotiate and see if there’s any wiggle room; if not, make sure to keep those design styles out of your home.

2. Visit design stores together.

Now that you’ve got the items of hate out of the way, join together to find items that you both love. You could flip through magazines … but you live in NYC! Design inspiration is all around you. Take a weekend to visit several furniture stores so that you can get a handle on what you both like. Head to SoHo to DwellStudio if you’d like to see a mix of vintage and modern furniture, or check out Jonathan Adler’s store on Greene Street if you really want to see how you both respond to color. The Ikea in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is always great because it showcases fully dressed rooms or apartments. Just hop a train to Borough Hall and take the free shuttle there.

3. Give a little.

If you’ve ever seen the classic sitcom Frasier, you’ll remember Frasier’s restrained, luxurious contemporary apartment filled with modern furnishings — and his father’s cozy, worn, and totally out-of-place Barcalounger that took center stage. You’ll remember that Frasier despised that chair with the heat of a thousand suns … until one day, it just wasn’t a big deal anymore. The chair made his father happy and welcome in the apartment, and in the end, that’s what mattered most to Frasier.

If your loved one insists on a certain item that clashes with your taste, evaluate the situation. How much does it mean to the other person? Is the offending item something you could warm up to over time? Pick your battles, and try to work things out.

4. The person who rules a room decorates it.

Have more stake in a certain room than your partner does? Then it should be yours to decorate. It’s only fair. If you’re the one who does all the cooking and washing up, you should be able to make the kitchen look exactly the way you want it to look since you’ll be the one spending all your time in there. If your partner disagrees, let it be known that you’ll blend design styles — if your partner shares the chores.

Image Source: Flickr/Dave Pinter

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Home of the Week: A Waterfront Compound in the San Juan Islands

In our newest ‘Home of the Week‘ we move from a palatial estate in New Jersey to a stunning private waterfront compound in the most popular town in the San Juan Islands – Friday Harbor.

This estate is located on the south east corner of San Juan Island on its own ultra private rocky point that overlooks the crisp blue water of Puget Sound. The main residence on this expansive estate is almost indescribably beautiful. With such a beautiful landscape enveloping the home, the residence invites those waterfront and snow-capped mountain views right into your living space.

The home is outfitted with the finest modern amenities you could ask for but they are integrated expertly within the home to maintain a strong connection to the heritage of the great Pacific Northwest. The wood and stone textures are delightfully soothing and play perfectly with the Brazilian crystal black granite and mahogany floors. The home is certainly zen-like, but it is also an entertainer’s dream as it features large open spaces, patios, a library, fitness center, spa, greenhouse and so much more.

If you were lucky enough to call this place home, you would certainly have a host of family and friends eagerly ready to pay you a visit. Luckily, this estate offers ample accommodations, as it has a 2 bedroom guest home just 200 feet off the main residence that offers up easy access to fishing and kayaking. The private getaway has the distinct benefit of being located in the most popular town in the San Juan Islands, which means you can venture out into town to enjoy the fine restaurants and abundant local shops and stores.

Click here to see more of this once in a lifetime home listed by Merri Ann Simonson with Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands, Inc.

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Home Tip of the Day: Getting Sand Off Your Feet and Hands

One of the greatest parts about going to the beach is feeling the sand between your toes. And one of the worst parts about going to the beach is bringing that sand between your toes home with you. To avoid making your own sandbox at home, try this easy solution for getting sand off your feet and hands. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is!

If you’re looking for other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location for the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

If you have a handy home hack, we’d love to hear! Post your tip on the Coldwell Banker facebook page.

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