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HGTV’s Breegan Jane Talks Spring Design Trends, Her Amazon Obsession, A New Television Project And More

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Breegan Jane uses the Amazon Echo Show in a kitchen.

Breegan Jane is more than just a reality star on HGTV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. She’s a busy interior designer and mother of two. But much like the rest of us, she is still working from home and trying to keep things in some semblance of order with two young boys. So how does she seemingly do it all? Jane’s biggest life hacks are maximizing smart home technology, a practical approach to interior design, and using Amazon for almost everything.

I recently spoke with Jane about keeping her home organized, when to say “no” to curated perfection, the best interior design trends, her new show for Discovery Plus and so much more.

How are you currently using smart technology at home?

I use Alexa to keep all of my to-do lists and to call people that I’m communicating with on a daily basis, like my assistants. It’s nice to just be able to say, “Alexa, call Design Assistant,” and have that ease.

I think creating a home is about creating a space that helps us get through the day. And technology is a big part of that. Next to my bed is my Alexa device and the printer. I am a workaholic and function has to come first.

Pretty things are pretty things, but your home should work for you. At the beginning of everyone staying at home, home offices became a design moment. But then everyone ended up sitting on the couch anyway. So having a device that can tell you your schedule makes more of a difference in my life than putting a pretty desk in a corner.

Do you really keep a printer on your nightstand?

Sometimes you just have to let things go. I’m a designer, so it is hard for me to have a printer on my bedside table, of course, because I want it to be perfectly curated, but it helps my life and, and that’s what matters more than anything.

Are there any other smart technology products you use regularly?

There are packages at my door every day. Now I can see those packages from my Ring Doorbell. It’s a nice security feature, being able to keep an eye on all the deliveries that are coming to my house right now. 

I also have two small kids and I might be upstairs. That camera aspect, as well as the ability to see who’s coming and going, gives me peace of mind.

How do you keep your home looking its best with two boys?

I am an all-white house with young kids, which always confuses people because they’ll walk into my house and say, “are you sure two young boys live here?” And I say, “Yeah. Do you know what it is? It’s bleach.” I’m able to touch up paint or bleach [things] out because boys are crazy. If I had beautiful wallpaper, or a nice, warm tone, they would just ruin it. So I leaned into that spa serenity white.

What are your best practical tips for designing a home around kids and pets?

I think that it’s important to have a home that’s lived in. I always say my designs are modern, approachable luxury. I want luxurious items that make a space feel elevated. But I also want people to be able to come in with sandy feet.

So don’t get an item that’s going to cause stress in your life, like a coffee table with sharp edges, even if it might be beautiful. If you’re going to spend every day saying, “Get off that table,” it’s not necessarily the right purchase for you. So I always try to encourage people to let go of what they think should be, really plan for [what is], and invest in that.

I also love bringing outdoor fabric in. I have two chairs in my living room [upholstered with] what is supposed to be an outdoor performance fabric. But I use it on my indoor chairs because of my kids and it looks great.

How else have you been using Amazon these days?

Amazon Handmade is another great layer to the Amazon brand because it connects me with artisans and handcrafted pieces. You get the same shipping from the brand you know and love. But it is more of a curated space where I can find things that have character and a little bit more charm.

It also feels more personalized. A lot of [my orders] have come with handwritten notes [that say something like] “I really enjoyed making this for you.” I so appreciate that connection point with a brand like Amazon, because it’s those little things that matter the most.

What are some other ways to mix up indoor and outdoor pieces?

[Plants] are the biggest thing. And I am not an obsessed plant owner. Let me just be honest— I’m a busy person. I’m constantly taking care of other people’s homes. Watering my own plants should be an easy thing, but it doesn’t always happen.

So one of my favorite tricks is that I have a lot of fake plants mixed with real plants to create the look that I have a lot more greenery. Two real plants sort of trick your mind into thinking that all the other ones are also real, but they’re not. So I have to keep fewer plants alive. 

What are some of your favorite spring design trends?

Tuxedo kitchens are leading strong right now. Black and white are just classic tonalities. The definition in itself means that it’s going to be a little bit more of a luxurious space for your kitchen. I really like putting a dark color on the bottom and a white color on the uppers because I think it grounds you in and elongates the space so it seems bigger. 

What’s your next television project?

I have a new show coming out called The House My Wedding Bought for Discovery Plus. One of the things I love doing is helping people create their lives and their next homes. And so I go with a couple and I show them home options and wedding options. They have their savings. It’s like this big moment for them, but they’ve never been through the process. And I make sure that they end up with both and that they’re happy. It’s a really fun process, but it’s also super relatable.

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Landmark La Jolla Estate Surfaces For Sale At $8.9 Million

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english tudor landmark estate  7231 Monte Vista Avenue

A landmark English Tudor-style home in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego has come on the market for $8.85 million.

The storybook home, dating to nearly 100 years ago, was designed and built by noted San Diego architect Edgar V. Ullrich as his personal residence, according to Regin Daniels Rubin of Willis Allen Real Estate, who is co-listing the property with Linda Daniels and Marta Schrimpf. In the late 1920s, it was later owned by Philip Barber, the pioneering New Jersey developer who created the area’s charming Beach-Barber Tract, where the house is located.

Although development of the tract was slowed in the 1930s by the Great Depression, Rubin says the area remains an idyllic area filled with architectural treasures. English, French Normandy and Spanish-style homes designed by celebrated architects such as Ullrich are found throughout the quiet neighborhood, which stretches west of La Jolla Boulevard to Windansea Beach. The combination of pedigree and location has made the Beach-Barber Tract one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in all of San Diego.

“The neighborhood is highly coveted for its historic charm and its proximity to both the ocean and the amenities of La Jolla’s beloved Village area,” Rubin said.

Approached by a brick-lined walkway, the three-story residence has all the trappings of a timeless classic: A steep shingle roof, half-timbering, leaded windows and a whimsical rotunda with a Juliet balcony. Ornate details around the front door create both interest and fodder for local lore.

“Many original details can be found throughout the home, most notably being the sculpture on the home’s front gable showing two monkeys holding the Ullrich family crest,” Rubin said. “It’s said that Edgar Ullrich was commissioned to build many Catholic churches throughout San Diego County, and he often argued with the archbishop about the ‘Scopes Trial’ of that time. These monkeys are said to be a tongue-in-cheek detail that he added to his home’s design as a symbol of his Darwinist beliefs.”

Inside, the main house has seven bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms and a dedicated office within about 5,250 square feet of space. A vaulted-ceiling living room with stenciled ceilings, a formal dining room and a large family room area among the common areas. The cozy eat-in kitchen charms with its original brickwork. A 400-square-foot guest studio above the detached garage provides additional living space.

According to Rubin, the home has twice been renovated and taken to new heights since being built in 1924.

“The first addition took place in 1928 when Barber hired Ullrich to design a second level to the then single-story, three-bedroom cottage,” she said. “The second (and largest) addition took place in the mid-1970s when the current owners added a third level to the home and three additional bedrooms as well as a sprawling family room with a showpiece fireplace inspired by Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Lodge.”

The property is the latest trophy offering in a La Jolla market that has remained red-hot since mid-2020. According to Rubin, inventory levels at or near five-year lows have kept the market “incredibly competitive” through the first quarter of 2021. Single-family home inventory, in particular, fell 37% year-over-year in Q1 2020, while pending sales and sold homes increased 49% and 22% year-over-year, respectively.

Intense demand for La Jolla real estate resulted in a 26% increase in average price month-over-month (from $2.84 million to $3.51 million) and a 41% increase year-over-year (from $2.534 million to $3.51 million).

“La Jolla’s seller’s market is showing no sign of cooling off as we finished April with record monthly growth,” Rubin said. “These numbers are unprecedented in our luxury market and are making the purchasing process increasingly competitive among active buyers.”


Willis Allen Real Estate is a founding member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.

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Yes. America Still Has Affordable Homes (Gasp!). Here’s Where They Are

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The beauty of patterns of Washington streets

America’s torrid housing market isn’t showing any signs of slowing down—at least for now.

In April, every home sold in the U.S. had at least 5 offers on average according to the National Association of Realtors, while three-quarters of offers for homes represented by Redfin agents resulted in bidding wars. In some markets like Westchester, NY, homes are for up to 30% over ask with no contingencies and 48% of houses nationwide last month sold for more than their original list price.

One suburban Washington, D.C. 4-bedroom home reportedly recently had 76 all-cash offers within 72 hours of being listed and eventually sold for 70% over asking price.

The current hyper-caffeinated housing market isn’t just isolated to the U.S.

Home prices in 37 of the world’s wealthiest countries comprising the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (a.k.a. the OECD), including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Turkey, Korea, and virtually all of Europe, rose 7% year-over-year between 2019 and 2020, the fastest pace of international housing inflation in two decades since before the Great Recession.

For Millennial first-home buyers in the U.S., current homeowners and Baby Boomers looking to downsize or pull new-found equity out of their homes, or growing families needing to trade up, all of the panic buying raises two essential questions. How long will the current boom last? And, more importantly for buyers who don’t have the time to wait around to find out, are there any affordable houses in America left?

On the former question, there are mixed opinions on how long the current froth can sustain itself against persistently high unemployment and low wage growth on the backside of the pandemic. But most real estate economists and experts largely agree that the fundamentals of the present housing upswing are strong—unlike the glass house that was 2008 and despite predictions that the pandemically-induced economic contraction last year could force tens of millions of Americans into foreclosure and eviction, triggering another national housing crisis.

The reality is that the opposite happened.

For an American economy that’s still recovering, this is all great news for current homeowners, recent buyers, and investors who’ve gotten in early enough to get a piece of the action on one of the hottest asset classes right now outside of the stock market.

But the panic homebuying has driven up prices beyond most current buyers’ financial capabilities, which in turn is exacerbating an affordability and housing supply crisis that’s been building in the U.S. for years since the Great Recession, particularly among the approximately 5 million Millennials turning 30 every year and entering prime first-time homebuying years.

As to the more important second question: Where are affordable homes in vibrant, stable American cities still available?

It turns out a lot of places—if you know where to look and don’t have to commute every day to a top ten U.S. metropolitan area like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, or Washington, D.C., which fortunately tens of millions of Americans don’t have to any longer in the new remote work normal.

Against most buyers expectations, most of these affordable cities right now are also in some of America’s hottest destinations currently when it comes to everything Millennials and first-time homebuyers want according to real estate experts, including thriving local hubs for food (Louisville), music (Memphis), sports (Pittsburgh), tech (Indianapolis), and jobs (Birmingham).  

What’s ultimately driving affordability in America’s last attainable housing markets are prices that already were reasonable priced in the first place before the pandemic hit, say most experts. As a result, compared with currently super-charged markets like South Florida and Austin that just got tighter and more irrational over the past twelve months, many homes in these cities already were within most first-time homebuyers’ financial limits in the first place despite nationwide housing supply constraints.

“These affordable markets are not necessarily any less competitive than many others around the country. The crucial difference is price point,” says Arpita Chakravorty, a Zillow Economist. “In some of these cities home values are up almost 20% from a year ago, which are some of the highest growth rates in the country and not far off from what we’re seeing in places like Phoenix or Austin. But even with the strong appreciation in the markets on this list, they remain among the least expensive large U.S. metros in terms of home prices overall.”

The new remote work normal is also empowering millions of potential homebuyers to look at cities and neighborhoods that were never on the map before because they needed to commute to jobs in major metropolitan areas. That’s making homes in formerly lesser know cities in the Midwest and South that always had thriving downtowns and sustainable economies before the pandemic some of the best places to invest in real estate after it based on year-over-year appreciation.

“The explosion of remote work has caused many to reimagine what and where they want their home to be,” continues Chakravorty. “So more affordable areas of the country are in high demand as buyers look for homes that offer more room to spread out. That could mean moving farther from a downtown core into nearby suburbs, or from a more-expensive metro to a less-expensive one which is in part what’s driving price appreciation in these smaller, Midwestern and Southern cities. The bottom line is that we are still in the early stages of what we call the Great Reshuffling as many are taking advantage of more flexible remote work policies to rethink where and how they want to live. Some who have been working remotely during the pandemic may be called back to the office. But others will receive firm guidance from their employer of a permanent ability to work remotely and take advantage of that freedom for years.”

As for the future of America’s housing affordability crisis, few are bold enough to predict what comes next. But everyone agrees on the most obvious solution: more supply—particularly when it comes to first-time, women, minority, and immigrant homebuyers.

“More housing is the clearest path to a more balanced market between buyers and sellers,” says Chakravorty. “Ideas like down payment assistance can help, especially for younger generations who are competing in today’s incredibly competitive market with long-time homeowners who have built up equity from the home price gains in recent years. But demand shows no signs of meaningfully slowing any time soon, so without more supply to meet that demand it’s likely that prices will continue to grow at a fast pace and make down payments a bigger and bigger challenge for first-time buyers. Builders are doing their part, but it will take years, if not decades, to catch up from the underbuilding that took place following the Great Recession.”

In the meantime here are fifteen of America’s most affordable cities where home prices still are attainable with some of the most, vibrant up-and-coming cultural, entertainment, hospitality, and tech scenes in the country.

[NOTES: Cities are ranked from high to low based on mortgage affordability as determined by Zillow and based on the share of a metro’s median income that would be needed to pay a mortgage on the median house in that metro area. A negative number in mortgage affordability Y-O-Y means that city got more affordable between Jan. 2020 and Jan. 2021. All data courtesy of Zillow]

Scranton, PA

·     Mortgage Affordability: 11.1%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -2.2%

·     Median Home Price: $139,985

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 14.2%

Jackson, MS

·     Mortgage Affordability: 11.1%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -6.9%

·     Median Home Price: $157,611

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 8.8%

Little Rock, AR

·     Mortgage Affordability: 11.3%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -7.2%

·     Median Home Price: $166,580

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 7.6%

Baton Rouge, LA

·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.6%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -5.4%

·     Median Home Price: $198,547

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 3.3%

Birmingham, AL

·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.6%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -2.9%

·     Median Home Price: $195,643

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 10.7%

Oklahoma City, OK

·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.7%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 0.8%

·     Median Home Price: $179,922

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 8.9%

Indianapolis, IN

·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.8%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -1.2%

·     Median Home Price: $212,334

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: $13.7%

Columbia, SC

·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.8%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 2.1%

·     Median Home Price: $179,785

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: $10.3%

Augusta, GA

·     Mortgage Affordability: 12.9%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 1.4%

·     Median Home Price: $177,614

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 12.2%

Louisville, KY

·     Mortgage Affordability: 13%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -6.8%

·     Median Home Price: $205,647

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 10.6%

Memphis, TN

·     Mortgage Affordability: 13.3%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -0.7%

·     Median Home Price: $182,914

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 13.2%

Pittsburgh, PA

·     Mortgage Affordability: 13.4%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: -0.1%

·     Median Home Price: $185,063

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 13%

Winston-Salem, NC

·     Mortgage Affordability: 13.4%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 0.5%

·     Median Home Price: $184,526

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 15.1%

St. Louis, MO

·     Mortgage Affordability: 13.7%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 0.4%

·     Median Home Price: $205,604

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 11.5%

Cleveland, OH

·     Mortgage Affordability: 14%

·     Mortgage Affordability Y-O-Y Change: 0.8%

·     Median Home Price: $184,224

·     Y-O-Y Price Appreciation: 13.5%

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Seven Steps To Running Your Real Estate Business On Auto-Pilot

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Architect working on computer in office

Kevin is the Founder of Marker Real Estate, an innovative firm with a transparent, inclusive, client-focused strategy.

If you grew up in the 1990s as I did, you might be familiar with a video game called Cruis’n USA, an auto racing game with multiple checkpoints. I once heard someone compare Cruis’n USA to running a business. 

In the game, each checkpoint has a time limit. If you don’t reach a checkpoint before the timer hits zero, the game ends, and you’re out of the race. Business is similar. There are checkpoints (business goals and objectives), and you have to reach them in time. But how do you navigate your way through multiple checkpoints as easily and quickly as possible? 

Here’s how to put more of your work on cruise control so you can fly through your checkpoints faster than ever before. 

1. Choose one CRM and use it religiously.

Choose one customer relationship management platform (CRM), investigate its features and customize it until you’re comfortable using it. Don’t worry about using all the features because it can be overwhelming. I focus on notes and task reminders.

There are lots of CRM options on the market. A good one will provide you with information from prospecting calls and assist with communications (e.g., auto texting, email drip campaigns, video messaging and follow-up scheduling). Also look for a platform with access to clear dashboards and analytics. Having a full line of sight on your past activity, current efforts and future activity is a must.

2. Automate communications with potential leads.

There’s a limit to what a single person can do, so if software can take over some of the repetitive, time-consuming work, let it. For example, every online inquiry we receive results in an automated text, email and live phone call. 

We also recently started testing a brand new software that uses artificial intelligence (mainly text and Facebook messenger) to communicate with prospects. In our case, we use it to answer buyer and seller questions like “What’s your price range?” and “What’s your time frame for buying?” The messages come from my account, so the client experience is seamless and it feels like they are talking to an experienced agent. 

3. Create a lead generation system.

The turnover rate in my industry is extremely high. I support my own agents and head off frustration and failure by providing them with quality leads. 

Whatever your industry, if you’re in sales, generating leads is essential. If you have employees, generating leads for your sales team is also crucial. The challenge is to constantly generate quality leads with the lowest possible investment. Thinking outside the box is the best place to start.

4. Make your first admin hire.

For office tasks that can’t or shouldn’t be automated, an administrative assistant will pay dividends. This person can process paperwork and manage HR-related tasks. With these jobs covered, you’ll have more time to step away or give your attention to dollar-producing activities. Also, a good administrator doesn’t just fill out forms. They also keep a finger on the pulse of the business, offer advice and alert you to problems.

Of course, some of us have a problem “letting go.” A good way to overcome this problem is by writing down all your tasks every hour for a week. Separate the tasks into two groups. Add all the tasks you want to keep to Group A. Everything else goes into Group B. Group B tasks will become the basis of your job description for an admin assistant. Depending on your workplace setup, also consider hiring a virtual assistant. They may be just as helpful as hiring someone to work onsite. 

5. Stay nimble and stay lean.

Managing a business is like a carnival act: It’s spinning plates while juggling chainsaws. You have to constantly stay on your toes and quickly move your attention and resources around. You also have to remain flexible and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities should they arise. Keep overhead low. For office space, use a small satellite office that is cost-effective. Also, rather than signing expensive long-term leases, make short-term arrangements. If consumer behavior dictates the need to “cut bait” at a given location, you’ll avoid being saddled with the expense of a space you no longer need. 

6. Take yourself out of production.

This step takes the most courage by far, and if you’re a control freak like myself, it may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But if you want to succeed, you need to give yourself the option of stepping out of production. If your business relies upon you doing all the deals, you won’t have time to automate and build an empire. 

7. Stay hungry.

Once you’re out of production, have leads flowing in and systems in place, it’s easy to get complacent. Things might seem good now, but you need to stay hungry. Costs might suddenly increase. Essential people on your team might quit. The market might shift. Stay alert and keep yourself sharp. Always be ready to jump back into the trenches if you feel the heat coming around the corner.


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