The Property Brothers’ Latest Renovation Will Make You Cry-Guaranteed



“Property Brothers” stars Drew and Jonathan Scott often elicit tears of joy once they do their big reveal at the end of a project, but tears from start to finish? Now that’s something new!

In the latest episode, titled “Searching for the Heart of the Home,” we meet Sandy and her devoted husband, Pat, a tax accountant who just landed his dream job in Nashville, TN. So Sandy, a retired schoolteacher, insisted that they leave their dream home in Wisconsin and move south to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

For Sandy, leaving behind the state where she’d lived her entire life was hard, and it didn’t help that her Nashville living arrangements were far from ideal: They share a two-bedroom apartment with Sandy’s elderly father (who uses a walker) and the couple’s two sons-one in high school, the other in college.

Pat has promised Sandy a new, prairie-style dream home, with accommodations for Sandy’s father as well as a big, beautiful kitchen that Sandy considers the heart of the home. And luckily they have a generous $840,000 budget to spend on the purchase and renovation. The Scotts come up with a number of heartfelt and ingenious ideas that could work wonders for any home-and bring tears of joy to your eyes, too.

Property Brothers
Sandy wants a new kitchen that will become the heart of the home.


Homes that sit on the market are prime targets for negotiating

Drew finds a rare Prairie-style home that came on the market almost a year ago in the low $900,000, and has since been gradually reduced to $729,000. What’s up with that?

“When a house has been on the market and overpriced for so long, you kind of wonder if the seller is really motivated to sell,” says Drew. “Maybe they just don’t want to let it go.”

Looking at the comps, Drew suggests they offer $660,000 for the home. What have they got to lose? With what Drew claims is a combination of timing and luck, the sellers accept their offer.

A ‘submaster’ is the new in-law suite

There are a number of names for a bedroom with its own bath: en suite, guest suite, in-law suite, and probably more. But Drew goes out on a limb and calls the room they’re going to set up for Sandy’s father a “submaster.” You go, Drew! They make it bigger and more private by closing off the bathroom entrance from the hall and making it accessible only from the bedroom. Then they add the extra hall space to the bathroom.

Property Brothers
Jonathan’s designs look right at home in Tennessee or Wisconsin.


Accessible bathrooms can be stylish, too

Grab bars to help avoid slips and falls in the bathroom have come a long way since they were constructed to be purely functional. Jonathan has found some that are actually elegant and curvaceous, made of attractive brushed stainless steel. In fact, they’re so attractive they almost look like intentional design features.

Have a secret fund for something special

Tears flow in this episode even when Sandy isn’t around! Pat reveals he wants to do something especially nice for Sandy. Since she loved to sit outdoors in their former home, Pat asks Jonathan to install large glass doors leading to the enclosed terrace, which will allow the outdoors in. Jonathan tells him those types of doors are expensive, and could cost up to $7,000. But Pat says he has a secret fund to cover something special like this. This makes both grown men cry. (You might, too.)

Use native plants to feel at home

Jonathan recruits Pat and Sandy’s two sons, who are home from school, to go to the nursery with him to pick out some plants for the terrace that are native to Wisconsin and will remind Sandy of home. To make sure the plants don’t die, they consult with a plant specialist to find out which native Wisconsin species will do well on an enclosed Nashville terrace. The end result is thoughtful and looks great.

Try ‘framing’ wallpaper

Pat and Sandy’s new home has a two-story wall that Jonathan thinks would look great covered in dark gray wallpaper with a wavy pattern, but when he unfurls a roll of it down the wall from the second-floor balcony, the couple think it’s a little too dark-and altogether a little too much.

So Jonathan switches gears and selects a different wallpaper design. He cuts two rectangular swaths, adheres them to the wall, and then frames them, so there’s just enough pattern and not too much, This is an affordable, attractive, and practical alternative to wall art, and it looks just right.

Property Brothers
Finally, Pat and Sandy are dancing, rather than crying. Note the framed wallpaper in back.


So do the Scott brothers deliver?

Of course!

“It’s even better and brighter than the Wisconsin house!” declares Sandy. “I love it! It’s overwhelming.”

The only question is, how many are crying now?

The post The Property Brothers’ Latest Renovation Will Make You Cry-Guaranteed appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.


Get your units into rent-ready condition in 5 steps

How to Make Your Apartment Rent-Ready: 5 Steps | Buildium

One of the best ways for property managers and landlords to maximize revenue from their properties is by keeping vacancies to a minimum. “Easier said than done,” you might be thinking. After all, it can take time to re-lease a property after a tenant has moved out.

But how much time it takes to re-lease is well within your control. Even in weaker rental markets, property managers who are proactive, thoughtful, and have the proper systems in place can rent units in record time. It’s not uncommon to see two units of similar quality and price, managed by different property managers, lease up at dramatically different rates.

The key is understanding what it takes to make an apartment “rent-ready” in your market. Here’s how to make your apartment rent-ready in 5 steps.

How to Make Your Apartment Rent-Ready

Step #1: Understand the Renter Mindset

Some owners use an impending vacancy as an opportunity to spruce up their property-and with good reason. Once a renter has moved in, it becomes much harder to make upgrades and repairs.

That said, it’s important to understand the renter mindset. A resident won’t care if you’re making repairs to the furnace or roof. They won’t find much value in new windows or a retaining wall. They care about how their unit looks and functions, and this is something that you won’t be able to change once a renter has moved in.

When a unit turns over, focus on what residents care about most: The kitchen, bathroom, and living area. Even if your property is on the older side, fixing up these areas can make a huge difference in terms of how quickly you’re able to rent a unit.

How to Make Your Apartment Rent-Ready

Step #2: Clean from Top to Bottom

When a prospective renter tours your property, it should truly be sparkling clean. To attract high-quality residents, you need to show that you have high standards for how your properties are maintained. All appliances should be cleaned inside and out. All floors and surfaces should be cleaned. Consider downloading a cleaning checklist to guide you through the process if you plan to clean the unit yourself. This will remind you to clean things like the living room blinds, or the inside of window sills-areas that are often overlooked.

We generally recommend hiring a cleaning crew if you want to get units in rent-ready condition quickly. Aim to have a cleaning crew in the unit the day the unit turns over. This will allow you to begin showing the unit ASAP if you haven’t begun to do so already.

How to Make Your Apartment Rent-Ready

Step #3: Focus on Paint & Walls

We’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again: A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for an apartment. Walls should be patched and sanded prior to painting. Pick a light, neutral color to appeal to the broadest group of renters. This has the added benefit of making small rooms look larger. Don’t skimp on the quality of paint: Good, high-quality paints usually only require one coat and hold up well over time.

If your budget allows you to do so, we recommend hiring a professional painter. A painting crew can get in and out of your unit quickly, which helps you to get units in rent-ready condition faster than if you were to take on all of the work yourself.

One last point on walls: If you haven’t replaced wallpaper or wood paneling yet, now’s the time. You’ll be shocked at how much more modern your unit will look without it!

For more home improvement tips and tricks, check out our DIY Maintenance Guide.

How to Make Your Apartment Rent-Ready

Step #4: Upgrade Flooring & Replace Carpets

Your rental’s floors should be at least relatively modern. Outdated carpet, vinyl, and other flooring can drastically decrease the desirability of a rental. At a minimum, you should be steam-cleaning carpets. If the carpets are particularly beat up, consider replacing them altogether, either with new carpet or with hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are more expensive, but they hold up better over the long run, are much easier to clean, and have the best ROI of any home renovation.

How to Make Your Apartment Rent-Ready

Step #5: Spruce Up the Yard

First impressions are everything. Be sure that the grass is cut, the hedges are trimmed, the leaves are raked, and the property is well-lit. Consider adding some new planters out front to add a touch of color and stress to prospective renters that you care about how the property is maintained.

Final Tips

Before you make any changes, consider how these upgrades will translate into increases in rent. Many property managers and owners become overly focused on larger-scale investments, such as replacing appliances. If your apartment is on the older side, adding shiny new appliances may not be worth the cost.

Case in point: We recently spoke with an owner who invested $25,000 in a kitchen renovation for a property located in a blue-collar neighborhood where the average home value is $150,000. He then increased the rent from $1,200 to $1,600 per month, but the unit sat vacant. He dropped the price by $100 each month until the apartment finally rented for just $1,300 four months later. It wasn’t the price point the owner had hoped to achieved, and he later realized that he had overspent on the renovation. Generally speaking, your updates should be in line with the value of your house.

When you’re thinking about what will make your unit rent-ready, go back to the renter mindset. Think of what matters most to them: Cleanliness, paint, floors, and outdoor areas. The savviest property managers know that focusing on these areas will get an apartment in rent-ready condition quickly-without breaking the bank. Treat your “rent-ready” process like a beauty pageant by spending money where tenants will see it.

“Days to Rent-Ready” is a key performance metric that we encourage all owners to track. Benchmark your performance relative to other properties in the area to see where you can make improvements to stay competitive and reduce the time a unit sits vacant.

Leasing season is almost here! Learn 5 steps to make your units rent-ready on the #BuildiumBlog.

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In our experience, if you follow these best practices, there’s no reason why you can’t have a vacant apartment in rent-ready condition within a week after a tenant moves out.

P.S. Be sure to subscribe to the Buildium blog to stay up-to-date on industry news and the issues you care about. Click here to sign up now!

The post Get your units into rent-ready condition in 5 steps appeared first on Buildium.

What Is a Passive House? The Next Big Thing in Eco-Friendly Building


Passive House Institute

What is a passive house? It’s a home designed to require minimal heating or cooling, making it an eco-friendly and economical choice for home buyers.

While passive houses might not sound all that exciting, they’re stirring up plenty of buzz within real estate circles-and that could mean you’ll see a lot more of them in the near future.

So here’s the lowdown on how they’re built, how much they cost, and everything you need to know about whether a passive house might be right for you.

What is a passive house? How it’s built

To qualify officially as a passive house, a home must meet minimum criteria set by the International Passive House Association. Basically it means a house must consume 86% less energy for heating and 46% less for cooling compared with other code-compliant buildings in the same climate.

To reduce or even eliminate the need for heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, a passive house is built airtight, using strong exterior insulation, triple-pane windows, and construction methods that ensure no heat is transferred across the exterior of the building. No outdoor air seeps in, and no indoor air escapes.

Passive houses might also be situated to capture maximum sunlight in the winter and shade in the summer.

“If you have large southern exposure, you might plant a tree there that will drop its leaves in the winter so the sun will come in,” says Douglas McDonald, whose company Purehouse designs and builds passive homes. “But in the summer, the tree grows leaves and provides shade.”

The Karuna house in Yamhill County, Oregon is a passive house that has won green building awards.
This house in Yamhill County, OR, has won green building awards.

Passive House Institute and Alliance US

Where to find passive houses

Passive homes are popular in Europe, especially Germany, where energy is expensive. And while passive houses are still rare in the U.S., rising energy costs could change that.

“The first passive houses were built in North America in the ’70s, when energy prices were extremely high, but then oil prices dropped and some people lost interest,” says Michael Knezovich, spokesperson for the Passive House Institute U.S. “It’s only been over the past decade or so that passive houses have taken off here.”

There are only 250 certified passive buildings in the U.S., but the number of projects seeking certification has been growing for many reasons: People crave a smaller carbon footprint, protection from unpredictable energy costs, and the independence of living “off the grid” (many passive houses achieve off-the-grid status with solar panels).

The Vonde family's Passive House in Boise, ID means cozy winters and low energy bills.
The Vonde family’s passive house in Boise, ID, means cozy winters and low energy bills.

Gabe Border Photography for Vaughn Yribar Architecture

“It used to be that passive buildings were mostly in the Pacific Northwest, because of the eco-conscious culture there,” says Knezovich, “but we’re now seeing them built in more extreme climates, such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.”

The below-freezing winters and scorching summers in Boise, ID, are what led Ann Vonde and her husband to build a passive house there in 2015.

“We were attracted to the energy conservation, both for environmental reasons and to ensure lower energy bills in the future,” says Vonde.

How much does it cost to build a passive house?

Building a passive house will typically set you back 10% to 15% more in upfront costs. But you’ll quickly recoup that initial outlay in lower utility bills, since these homes use up to 90% less energy.

“Last winter was a cold one, and my aunt who lives nearby said her energy bills were around $600, while our highest one was $112,” says Vonde.

But there are also benefits you’ll notice even before your electric bill arrives-Vonde felt the difference right away.

“There are no drafts or hot spots, and it’s extremely comfortable to have the temperature so constant,” she says. “Plus it’s very quiet. We don’t hear any outside noise.”

This traditional home in Bethesda, Maryland was the first Passive House in the Washington, DC area.
This traditional-style house was the first passive house in the Washington, DC, area.

Passive House Institute and Alliance US

Passive house benefits beyond energy conservation

Typically in a passive house, fresh air is brought in, and stale air removed, by a ventilation system, which passes through a filter to remove allergens and pollution. Some passive-house owners find that this reduces smells, and even that they sleep better because the ventilation system prevents carbon dioxide buildup at night.

Passive houses can be especially beneficial to people with allergies or sensitivities to mold and mildew, because their tight envelopes seal out irritants.

“When you have hot and cold air mixing in the walls, you get condensation. Water creates mold and environments for bugs,” says McDonald.

Passive house styles

Passive houses tend to have a modern, minimalist look, all clean lines and expansive windows-but they don’t have to.

“It’s possible to build a very traditional-looking passive house,” says Knezovich. “You’re not limited to saltbox designs.”

But there’s one feature of a traditional home that you probably won’t find in a passive house: a fireplace.

“Fireplaces, stove vents, vented dryers, anything that requires puncturing a hole in the envelope of the house can lead to heat transfer,” points out Vonde. For that reason, she and her husband chose a ventless dryer. “Because it creates heat and humidity in the house, I don’t use it in the summer and line-dry laundry in the sun,” she says.

Although the passive house standard doesn’t require the use of eco-friendly building practices beyond minimizing the energy use of the finished house, most architects and builders who work on passive houses also incorporate nontoxic and sustainably sourced materials.

“While we’re building this very healthy, high-performance envelope, why would you bring in your water through plastic pipes?” McDonald asked. “We try to build without harmful ingredients.”

The post What Is a Passive House? The Next Big Thing in Eco-Friendly Building appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Big Unit, Big Deal? Randy Johnson Slices $3M Off Price of Arizona Mansion

Randy Johnson

Jennifer Stewart/Arizona Diamondbacks/Getty Images)

Strikeout king Randy Johnson is in a bit of a funk when it comes to selling his enormous estate just outside of Scottsdale, AZ.

The Hall of Fame pitcher and Arizona Diamondbacks legend owns a 25,000-square-foot mansion in Paradise Valley that’s been languishing on the market since September 2014. Now the “The Big Unit” is ready to cut a big deal-he knocked an additional $3 million off the list price this week.

The seven-bedroom, 12-bathroom home hit the market for $25 million nearly four years ago. Then early last year, the fearsome hurler knocked $5 million off the price. And now, it can be yours for the relatively low price of $16.5 million.

OK, while it’s not exactly a low price, a total discount of $8.5 million is still substantial.


This house offers the sort of luxury wealthy buyers step up to the plate for. The Mediterranean-style home was built in 2006 and sits on 5 acres with mountain and city views. Amenities include a 1,800-square-foot fitness facility, home theater, music room, recording studio, tennis court, and pool. There’s also a two-bedroom guesthouse.

Every room in this over-the-top estate is lavish and designed on a grand scale. The dining room, den, and even the bedrooms seem larger than expected. But considering Johnson is 6-foot-10, it’s understandable the lanky lefty wanted plenty of room to stretch out.

Family room
Family room

Dining room
Dining room


Fire pit
Fire pit

Since his retirement from baseball in 2009, Johnson has pursued his passion for photography, specializing in snapping some of the most famous rock stars on the planet, including Elton John, Bono and U2, and hard-rocking Slayer.

Johnson was named the MVP of the 2001 World Series, which he won with the Arizona Diamondbacks. With 4,875 strikeouts over his 22-year career, he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.

The post Big Unit, Big Deal? Randy Johnson Slices $3M Off Price of Arizona Mansion appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.