July 2009 Press & Charter
Floor Plans That Evolve With Life
Katherine Spreeman, Building Designer
Many of the home design projects we’ve worked on in the last two years have reflected the national trend of shrinking square feet. Today’s new-home builders and new-home buyers are interested in homes with flexible floor plans featuring rooms that serve more than one purpose, or expand as the family’s needs evolve.
A combination of factors have created this phenomenon: a tighter economy has people looking to spend less; people are staying in their homes longer rather than moving when the kids leave; a renewed interest in smaller, more energy-efficient homes; the ageing population may be developing disabilities.
Another influence in the smaller-is-better trend is architect Sarah Susanka. Just over ten years ago, the “build-better-not-bigger” message from her book, “The Not So Big House,” became the rallying cry for professionals and homeowners seeking houses designed with quality and character, rather than simply to impress the neighbors. We are seeing this trend in Northern Michigan: smaller, more comfortable homes built with quality materials where rooms are used for more than one purpose and home maintenance is more manageable.
A smaller home is not an entirely new idea. In the historic archives of Preston Feather, we have a Home Catalogue published in 1952, which features “expansible” homes. These home plans demonstrated how the basic home could be remodeled or expanded as the family changed. While the square footage from the 50’s is a little too small for today’s families, many of the plans are quite suitable with a little altering.
Today’s home buyers are thinking about how they use each room and how they will use it in the future. At Preston Feather Building Centers, our home design service is available to assist with the development of a home design that will be suitable for the family now and into the future. Give me a call; I am happy to meet with you and your homeowner to work on creating a home plan that will evolve with their life.
New Guidelines Needed to Appraise Distressed Properties
Nation’s Building News - NAHB
Using foreclosed and distressed sales as comparables with appraisals on single-family homes without adequately reflecting the differences in the condition of the respective properties is needlessly driving down home values, according to NAHB.
“Any home buyer can recognize the difference between a well-kept home and a distressed property that is damaged or not properly maintained. So it only makes sense that an appraiser should be required to consider the overall condition of a property and the specific factors related to a foreclosure or distressed property sale when selecting and adjusting the value of comparables,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson.
Appraisers are often only required to conduct exterior inspections of properties that are being used as comparables because they are normally unable to enter these homes and examine their interiors. Too often, properties that have been subject to foreclosure or distressed sales have issues related to deferred maintenance or internal damage that an external inspection simply cannot reveal.
“While most appraisers do a fine job, there needs to be proper regulatory guidelines for those who use distressed or foreclosed properties as comparables when determining home values,” said Robson.
In neighborhoods where comps include a large number of short sales or foreclosures, appraisers should have the option of expanding the geographic area or extending the time frame for eligible sales to get a more representative basket of the value of homes sold in the area, Robson added.
Currently, improper or insufficient adjustments to the comparable values of foreclosed and/or distressed homes often result in the undervaluation of new sales transactions.
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