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WOODARD: This isn’t your father’s doghouse

Homebuilders and designers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of pets when designing new homes. For some buyers, selecting a home with special accommodations for their pet is a very high priority.

“From designing homes with amenities including ‘smart’ pet doors and elaborate washing and grooming areas to creating separate living spaces for pets, it’s clear that pets are an important factor when helping clients buy or remodel a home,” it was reported by Realtor Magazine, a publication of the National Association of Realtors.

The report noted, “Standard Pacific Homes was one of the first builders to make pet comfort a priority. Last year they built model homes that offered a pet suite as an optional amenity.

“These suites included 170 square feet of pet housing, wash and water stations, automated feeders, comfortable bedding, cabinets for pet toys and food, and access for a puppy run.

“Since then, more buyers are seeking out homes that keep their pets’ needs on the forefront, and with 79.8 million pet-owning households throughout the country, the demand for pet-friendly homes could grow significantly.

“The last thing a pet owner wants is to be tripping over food dishes, staring at a kennel in the middle of the living room, smelling the litter box or getting up in the middle of the night to let the dog out. These are some things to consider when building or remodeling a home to make it more pet-friendly,” the report pointed out.

Q: How long have mortgage rates been at historic low levels?

A: Interest rates have been holding at low levels for a surprisingly long period. In fact, rates have remained under 4 percent for the past 12 weeks.

Freddie Mac recently released its Primary Mortgage Market Survey. It showed average fixed mortgage rates nudging higher. However, the Fed’s comments suggesting it may not raise short-term interest rates soon, coupled with weaker than expected consumer demand, pushed Treasury yields lower.

Q: Do you have any spooky stories about homes?

A: In the spirit of Halloween, the National Association of Realtors asked its members to send them spooky stories they had encountered in their work. Here is an example:

“I always make a habit of knocking or ringing the doorbell, even if the house is vacant. My clients and I were standing on the porch as I rang the doorbell of a vacant house, and we all distinctly heard “Who is it?” in a gruff little old lady’s voice.

“We all looked at each other. I asked if they heard it, and they nodded their heads up and down. We went in and checked out the house (and all the closets) but found no one. We didn’t make an offer, needless to say.”

Q: What is “home staging” all about?

A: Staging is the process of preparing a home for sale in the real estate marketplace. The goal of staging is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, thereby selling a property more swiftly and for more money.

Staging techniques focus on improving a property’s appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want.  This primarily involves moving or exchanging furniture and decorative items. The homeowner could handle the changes, but often an independent “home stager” is hired to perform the service.

Q: Are home foreclosures phasing out?

A: Foreclosures actually increased in 32 states during the third quarter of this year, as RealtyTrac reported it.

The report “shows a total of 327,258 properties with foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — in the third quarter of 2015, down 5 percent from the previous quarter, but up 3 percent from the third quarter of 2014.

“The annual increase in the third quarter marked the second consecutive quarter where U.S. foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis following 19 consecutive quarters of year-over-year decreases.”

 

WOODARD has been writing about real estate news and trends since 1971 and is the resident storyteller at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

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