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As we count down to a New Year (Good-bye 2013…), MSN Real Estate has been busy thinking about home sales. Home prices even made the news last evening (CBS News: San Francisco Real-Estate Boom: Taller Buildings, Steeper Prices). So it is a topic on many minds, as people either look to get into housing, change residence, or relocate.

Whether you live — or wish to live — in an area of plentiful housing, or an area experiencing a severe housing crunch, these tips will definitely help.

1. Make your home comparable to a “model home”

  • PACK personal belongings
  • TIDY clutter – including in the closets
  • TONE DOWN your color palette: neutralize paint colors

a personal view: my mother has NEVER forgotten the personal photos (all of the homeowner) that littered a property we viewed together. She recalled the owner’s narcissism more than the house! I, on the other hand, still joke about the homeowner whose stuffed bears and rabbits peeked out of every spare corner; the house’s already petite size SHRANK before my eyes.

wood carving on door

2. Freshen up …

  • Your Front Door’s paint & hardware. A “sparkling” door knob (and door knocker, if you have one) can make a bold First-Impression
  • Cheap & Easy: Replace & Update those time-worn plastic switch plates with something a bit unusual

a personal view: I changed out many when I first moved into my home; my favorite: an Art-Deco-inspired metal pair for the living room. Makes me happy every time I shut the lights off!

3. Let there be LIGHT

  • Add higher-wattage light bulbs (note the limit on each lamp!), or if possible, add more lamps
  • Old lamps? Dusty, rusty ceiling fan? Swap them out!
  • Clean windows, inside and out
  • Utilize “lighter” window treatments

measure windows

4. Little Updates can mean a LOT

  • Renew tub & tile grout
  • Replace old faucets
  • Replace old toilet seats
  • clean – clean – clean the bath and kitchen until SPARKLING clean

5. REVEAL that Curb Appeal

  • weed – seed – plant color

xmas evergreens planter

read the entire MSN article

a personal view: a friend, selling her house before she retired from teaching, did the ONE thing she’d been dying to do all the years she lived in her home: she took up the wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room and had wood floors installed. I’ve never been back into the house, but, after it sold, the living room’s large picture window got swapped out for a standard window, and the front porch got enclosed for more living space. Gotta wonder: what happened to that flooring the departing owner loved so much?

In short, don’t take the opportunity of sprucing up your home just to put it on the market! Mke the effort for yourself. All of the above are great tips for any home, big or small, old or new, house or apartment.

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Every once in a while I check out The New York Times; today’s website carries this story on its front page. Truly sitting here with my mouth agape, in astonishment, I pass it along to readers of The Inside Scoop at

Owners since JUNE, John Hoffman and Steve Sells had plans — not for the house but for the land. The twosome purchased the Frank Lloyd Wright property with an eye to “splitting the lot”. According to The New York Times, “their plan was to build two luxury homes and make a killing. ‘The dirt alone,’ in the heart of the Arcadia neighborhood and in the shadows of Phoenix’s picturesque Camelback Mountain, ‘would be worth $1.2 to 1.4 million,’ Mr. Sells said.”

Hoffman and Sells paid $1.8 million for the property – which, the paper stresses, was $1 million less than Wright’s granddaughter sold the property for (date of that previous sale is not mentioned).

“They {Hoffman and Sells} felt the approval to divide the lot implied permission to demolish the house, which Wright had built for his son and daughter-in-law, David and Gladys…” A red plaque, signed by Wright, can be found near the front door:

At one point, in August, Sells and Hoffman HAD their demolition permit! By the end of September the city invalidated it, after Preservationists moved to protect the house, asking that it be given landmark status. “Mr. Sells, 50, a technology entrepreneur, said he had no idea of its significance, or of the difference ‘between Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wright brothers’.”

Preservationists have a tough job ahead: Arizona’s landmark status only applies for three years. If the house – which is back on the market – doesn’t find a buyer, Sells is quoted as saying that he’ll wait the three years, “‘Then I’m going to knock it down to recoup my losses.'”

Here’s some brief descriptions of the house – which, unless Federal Historic Preservationists get involved, may not grace the landscape much longer:

Priced at $2,379,000 (heaven forbid there’s no profit in five-months of ownership and a little oil dabbed on the woodwork), the Wright house features four-bedrooms (and four baths); it’s made of galvanized steel and concrete. Built in 1952, there are wood cabinets, shelves, sofas – all designed by Wright:

Join the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s online campaign
to save and protect the David Wright House.

click on photo to go to the Foundation.

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Read More:

Learn from another country’s past:

New York Times articles:

Watch these CBS News features:

This past week, CBS News ran a story crowing about an Ohio company — EdenPURE — which had brought back well-paying manufacturing jobs to the US.

By reducing its manufacturing costs, EdenPURE was able to reduce its labor costs and that meant their pricing stayed competitive. What does EdenPur make? Heaters! Endorsed, according to their website, by the “home expert” Bob Villa and “Home Improvement” actor Richard Karns.

The news piece centers on the company’s decision to find ways to economize in the production of their product — without compromising their product — which then enabled them to manufacture the heaters in the States.

The most interesting part of the broadcast concerned the “trickle down”. Increased production at EdenPURE not only brought jobs to their company,

  • their power cord supplier added 13 jobs;
  • the metal stamper added 20 jobs;
  • the plastic-molding facility added 18 jobs.

And the workers now proudly label their EdenPURE heaters with “Made in the USA” stickers at the end of the manufacturing process:

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