Paying Extra for Paradise

Boulder real estate agent Tim Goodacre sees it on the faces of his clients all the time: sticker-shock.

It’s going to cost more than they thought to live the idyllic, walkable life they envisioned when they moved to the Colorado city.

“If they’re coming from the Midwest or other lower-income places, frankly they can get a little mad and irritated,” Goodacre said. “And I say, ‘well, you have to make your sacrifice.’ ”

Goodacre’s clients aren’t alone. While median-income buyers are paying a higher percentage of their paychecks than the national average (15.1%) for median-priced homes in New York, San Francisco and other historically expensive cities, they also have to put a larger portion of their income toward their house payments in college towns and vacation spots.

According to Zillow data, here are five places where home buyers may sacrifice affordability for the perks of living in areas others only visit.

Santa Cruz, CA

This home in Santa Cruz, for sale for $334,000, would be affordable for a median-income buyer.

This home in Santa Cruz, for sale for $334,000, would be affordable for a median-income buyer.

Median income: $63,574

Median mortgage payment: $2,314

Median percentage devoted to mortgage: 43.7 percent

In this boardwalk town at the north end of Monterey Bay, the median house payment is 43.7 percent of the median income. That’s more than in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Santa Barbara, and certainly a sign that prices are outpacing local salaries. Median-income homeowners spend 15 percent more on their house payments than they have historically.

But with 29 miles of coastline, Santa Cruz is a college town and surfer’s paradise at the foot of the Redwoods. Plus, it’s got personality — a counter-cultural history, with a burgeoning local-food movement and fashionable shops.

Napa, CA

At $310,000, this 2-bedroom, 1-bath home is affordable in Napa.

At $284,900, this 2-bedroom, 1-bath home is an affordable option in Napa.

Median income: $65,980

Median mortgage payment: $1,786

Median percentage devoted to mortgage: 32.5 percent

Land in this wine-producing valley is protected as farmland, which means a shortage of homes — especially in the range affordable for people making the median income.

Most buyers are wealthy, and they’re looking for second homes they can afford to buy with cash, said Jill Levy, an agent with Heritage Sotheby’s International Realty.

“They’re in a profession now where they can afford to buy anywhere,” Levy said. “Their primary reason for moving to Napa is a lifestyle choice.”

Ocean City, NJ

This beachfront condo has ocean views from the deck. At $279,900, it is affordable for the average buyer.

This beachfront condo has ocean views from the deck. At $279,900, it is affordable for buyers earning the area’s median income.

Median income: $54,177

Median mortgage payment: $1,263

Median percentage devoted to mortgage: 28 percent

In this shore town, everybody turns out with their folding chairs for the 4th of July parade.

“It’s like turning the clock back,” said Ed Hildebrandt.

He and his wife, Mary Kay, met at the local Chatter Box Restaurant when he was in college, then summered in Ocean City while they raised their four kids. Now retired, the couple bought a single-family home to live in full time. They anticipate visits from their grandkids.

The town is sentimental like that for a lot of buyers, said Ocean City real estate agent Cheryl Huber. Among the shore towns on the Jersey coast, Ocean City — an island — stands out as particularly family friendly. It’s a dry town with a community center, a boardwalk and miles of beach.

“As soon as they drive over the bridge, they start to feel relaxed, and they get excited,” Huber said.

Boulder,CO

This 604-square-foot condo is close to downtown Boulder and for sale for $297,000, which is affordable for a median-income buyer there.

This 604-square-foot condo is close to downtown Boulder and for sale for $265,000, which is affordable for a median-income buyer there.

Median income: $67,893

Median mortgage payment: $1,381

Median percentage devoted to mortgage: 24.4 percent

How about a foodie, family friendly college town in the mountains, with a vibrant downtown and boundless recreation? It sounds great to a lot of people, which is why buyers looking for a house in Boulder are willing to double-bunk the kids or give up having a dining room, Goodacre said.

“A million dollars is a ton of money for a house, right? But in Boulder, you’d be surprised what that gets you,” he said.

For a buyer making $67,893, the median-priced $350,000 home is a big stretch.

Bend, OR

This cottage on Bend's coveted West Side is $264,000, which is affordable for a Bend buyer who makes the median income.

This cottage on Bend’s coveted West Side is $264,000, which is affordable for a Bend buyer who makes the median income.

Median income: $49,564

Median mortgage payment: $957

Median percentage devoted to mortgage: 23.2 percent

This high-desert town is at the foot of Mount Bachelor, and the quaint downtown is minutes from hiking and mountain-biking trails.

“Most people, the first thing out of their mouth when they come to look for a house … they have this vision of being able to get a cup of coffee, go to the grocery store, take the kids to school — everything’s within walking or biking distance,” said Chris Sperry, an agent with Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty.

They soon learn that experience is going to cost them at least $300,000. Sperry said she has sold a lot of homes to telecommuters looking for a better quality of life. Locals who work in the service industry?

“Those are the people that aren’t going to be able to live in town,” she said.

Related:

Emily Heffter, a reporter and writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties, and other real estate topics. Read more of her work here.

You’re Been Cutting Tomatoes Wrong, But This Hack Shows You To Cut Them Like A Ninja (VIDEO)

Cutting cherry tomatoes can be a messy undertaking with squirting juice and goo getting everywhere — but it doesn’t have to be that way.

This simple cooking hack will teach you a method to cut cherry tomatoes so obvious, it’ll have you do a face palm.

To find out the trick, watch the video above!

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Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Lifestyle blogger Carrie Waller knows how to throw a party. For ample proof of that, just take a look at her charming DIY wedding. She makes it look so easy.

And easy entertaining is the subject we’re interested in here. Easy outdoor entertaining, specifically. We asked Carrie to show us how she’d set her backyard deck up for a little dining al fresco with a few friends. It’s part of our Patio Style Challenge series in which we send a Home Depot patio set to prominent lifestyle bloggers to see the amazing patio decor ideas they come up with.

Carrie served up a delicious grilled pizza recipe, a couple of easy DIY projects for the table setting and tips for a simple tablescape guaranteed to make guests feel welcomed.

Read on to see her ideas for easy outdoor entertaining.

When it comes to entertaining, for me it’s all about simplifying. I fill the gaps between platters of homemade finger foods with store-bought goodies, have a running collection of special occasion dishes within easy reach and grab up budget linens whenever I see them on sale to make last minute parties a cinch to pull off.

But outdoor entertaining? With so many additional layers, like indoor/outdoor fabrics, casual (read: unbreakable!) party ware and chic accessories fit for the outdoors, it was only recently that I gathered the gumption to try it out myself.

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Happily, pulling it all off isn’t nearly as daunting as I had initially thought!

Indoor/outdoor fabrics? The options are endless—colorful pattern is not, in fact, limited to sofas and chairs surrounded by a roof and four walls.

And what about party ware and outdoor accessories?

There may not be anything better…Fears, begone, because outdoor entertaining is one of the most exciting parts of the season—one well worth a celebration.

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

But first things first before jumping straight to the celebration.

Whenever I start a project, there are three things I like to check off my main list before getting down to business. The first is an armload of supplies, the second a killer foundation and, finally, the accessories to bring it all together.

My one stop shop this time around was The Home Depot. As part of this year’s Patio Style Challenge, I had a blast dreaming big and mentally reiterating those three little words: “Let’s DO this.” It all got done on budget, on time and on trend with just a few creative thoughts and more than a little corner-cutting to make it just right for us and our family.

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

The Patio Dining Set

To get this party started (literally!), we had some pretty fabulous inspiration—namely the Hampton Bay Edington Butterfly Extension Patio Dining Table and Edington Patio Dining Chairs.

The heavy-duty aluminum dining set is lovely and durable—a magic formula I’ve found to be a bit elusive up until now. With pretty scrollwork across the entire surface of both the table and the chairs, plus a ingenious built-in leaf extension system, this set is likely to be with us well into our old age.

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

To add a little bit of vibrancy to the oil rubbed bronze finish of the set, I tossed a colorful collection of Martha Stewart Living Charlottetown throw pillows at the backs of the chairs. The outdoor fabric makes them ideal for exposure to the elements, but they are still as soft as ever.

DIY Placemats

Playing off of the poppy red theme established by the pillows, I created DIY placemats made from what, you might ask? Vinyl flooring!

I bought a single run of flooring (it comes in 12′ by 1′ lengths, minimum for about $6) from the Home Depot and then, using a box cutter, cut it down into four 1×2′ rectangles—with several feet left over, of course.

A few coats of red spray paint later made them a natural accompaniment to the tablescape for a fraction of the price of designer placemats or tablecloths, just a couple of quarters a piece. Plus, now our nice new table is protected from things like errant barbecue bites and red wine spills.

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining: DIY vinyl placemats

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining: DIY vinyl placemats

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

 

DIY Vases

The last piece to our DIY tablescape? The centerpiece.

I made the DIY vases from PVC pipes of varying diameters cut to size using a miter box and saw, then coated each in a couple of layers of crisp white spray paint. Once the paint was dry, I nested pre-planted flower pots in the openings, allowing the different heights to give each of the plants a moment in the spotlight.

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining: DIY vases made from PVC pipe

 

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining: DIY vase made from PVC pipe

 

Grilled Pizza

But of course, no party is complete without the fixings!

You may have already gotten a taste—pun intended!—of our homemade grilled pizzas as set on the table. These tasty made-to-order treats were a breeze to make thanks to a dual-purpose DIY workstation and our brand new Brinkmann Range 2-burner Propane Gas Grill.

Simply assemble each individual pizza on naan bread, complete with toppings of choice, and pop on the grill at a low heat until the cheese is melted and the crust crisps up.

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining: Grilled pizza

 

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining: Grilled pizza

 

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

 

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining: Ingredients for grilled pizza

 

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

 

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

 

Strawberries

 

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

 

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Rethink Your Reservations

If you, too, feel a bit anxious about the idea of outdoor entertaining, I personally challenge you this season to rethink those reservations! As they say, practice makes perfect, so start small, keep it simple and above all, enjoy each and every lovely moment that spring has to offer.

Patio Decor for Easy Outdoor Entertaining: Dog patiently waits for the dinner to begin

Now, as Vinny the dog would say, let’s eat!

Carrie Waller is a freelance writer, designer and blogger living in Lynchburg, Virginia with her husband, John, and pets Rocky, Luna,  Ginny and Tonks. (Vinny the dog lives with Carrie’s parents, but he often visits.) She writes about DIY, design and life on her blog Dream Green DIY. See more photos of this patio styling project on her blog. 

To decorate her deck, Carrie started with the  Hampton Bay Edington Butterfly Extension Patio Dining Table and Edington Patio Dining Chairs from The Home Depot.

For more outdoor decorating ideas and inspiration, see other Patio Style Challenges as well as our Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest. And browse our online Outdoor Living Department for everything you need for your patio, yard or garden. 

Style Challenge is a series of posts from guest contributors who aim to bring you fresh inspiration and ideas for your home and garden using a single Home Depot product as a starting point. Carrie received the patio set from The Home Depot and a gift card. The opinions and ideas Carrie expressed are her own.

Persimmon’s forward sales up a third

The government’s Help to Buy shared equity scheme continues to boost the bank balances of major housebuilders with Persimmon reporting a 35% leap on forward sales revenue on the back of the policy.

Persimmon’s revenue from private sales for the first 15 weeks of 2014 is 35% ahead of last year’s figure. It has approximately 7,200 new homes sold forward into the private sale market for 2014 which is 38% ahead of the same point last year, with an average selling price up 3% to £200,400.

The Help to Buy scheme in England was introduced on 1 April 2013. Persimmon sold 2,203 homes to customers using mortgages associated with this scheme in 2013. With take-up accelerating, it has sold a further 2,800 homes to Help to Buyers already this year.

Persimmon holds its annual general meeting in York today. Shareholders will be told that the company’s strategy “remains focussed on exercising capital discipline through the cycle whilst growing the business as market conditions allow”.

Persimmon currently has approximately 395 active sites across the UK and has opened 75 of the 90 new outlets targeted for the first half of 2014. 

“Our build activity continues to support the improved rates of sale and we remain confident of delivering further growth in the number of new homes legally completed for 2014,” the company said.

It has also extended its £300m revolving credit facility with its banks until 31 March 2019.

Telford Homes has also provided a trading update ahead of its preliminary results for the year ended 31 March 2014, which will be released on 28 May 2014. Profit before tax is expected to be more than double last year’s £9.0m and reach a cumulative £120m over the next four financial years. Operating margin before interest is expected to be in excess of 15% for the last financial year, up from 9.7% the previous year.

Telford Homes targets more affordable parts of London. It is starting this month on a 31-storey development in Stratford, east London, comprising 181 new homes, including 157 open market properties.

With 492 open market sales last year, Telford Homes is a much smaller business than Persimmon. And, in contrast to Persimmon, it has yet to make a sale to a customer using a Help to Buy mortgage.

 

 

 

Hockey Great Wayne Gretzky Lists Masculine Manse

Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky and his wife, actress Janet Jones, have fixed up their Thousand Oaks, CA mansion and are selling it for $10.5 million.

Source: IMDb

Source: IMDb

Gretzky has been called audacious, and so might his house. But he has also been called The Great One, and the listing promises the estate “merely leaves you breathless from the very first footstep of the front door.”

The 8,711-square-foot, 5-bedroom, 6-bath home doesn’t hold back on luxury, with pillars, molding, dark carpets, a gold fireplace, and masculine black chandeliers in the living room and entry hallways.

The front door is flanked by emaculate hedges and a tiered black fountain, and several rooms open up to a veranda with a large swimming pool and pool-house with an exercise room.

The Gretzkys bought the house in 2009 for $2.765 million and added the pool and pool-house, among other things, according to The Real Estalker. Listing agent Nicole Van Parys of Engel & Volkers Westlake Village was not available for comment. 

 Related:

Emily Heffter, a reporter and writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties, and other real estate topics. Read more of her work here.

50 Ways To Update Your Living Room For $50 Or Less (PHOTOS)

We often use our budgets as an excuse for not making our homes reflect what makes us happiest. But short of an HGTV makeover show, a “good” room doesn’t happen overnight — and a stylish space isn’t always made up of a bunch of expensive items. Here’s a list of easy ideas and updates that cost less than $50 a piece. Some are even free.

- Pick up a few cheap IKEA frames for your photos

- Put magazines in magazine holders

- Organize with a tray

- Actually display pretty things on your coffee table

- Organize your bookshelves

- Try a gallery arrangement

- Add candles

- Roll out an inexpensive rug (IKEA and HomeGoods are your best bet)

– Bring in a bouquet

- Rearrange your furniture

- Cover up an old sofa with a nice throw

- Paint a coffee table

- Change your curtains

- Hang curtains higher to create the illusion of a higher ceiling

- Paint a feature wall

- Turn cheap blinds into “custom” shades

- Re-cover old pillows

- Reupholster a chair seat

- Add a ceiling medallion (Home Depot and Lowe’s have lightweight, affordable versions)

- Or, paint the medallions in a contrasting color and hang them on the wall:

- Contain clutter in baskets

- Swap out a heavy blanket for a new, lighter throw

- Hang art ON your bookcase

- Paint the backing on your bookcase

- Stencil part of the floor

- Makeover an old table with neutral fabric and nailhead trim, like Bliss@Home did:

- Swap out light switch and outlet covers

- Hang up shadowbox-style shelves, like these from Etsy seller The807

- Display small items on a ledge-style shelf

- Arrange your books by color

- Decorate the top of your bookcases with a collection

- Update an inexpensive mirror with rope

- Bring in a houseplant or two

- Get a new side table

- Organize odds and ends in a pretty box

- Try a new table lamp

- Switch out a lampshade

- Make a statement with bookends

- Hang up a few terrarium-style vases

- Install a candle sconce or two

- Arrange art around your television

- Fill in your (unused) fireplace with wood, candles or other small items

- Use a garden stool as an occasional table

- Hang plates on the wall

- Use colorful fabric as a tablecloth

- Mount a map on canvas and use it as art

- Turn burlap (or canvas dropcloths) into drapes

- Upgrade cheap mirrors with paint

- Paint an end table

- DIY a bar cart

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: A Lush, Eclectic, Bohemian LA Patio

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: A Lush, Eclectic, Bohemian LA Patio

Outdoor decor should be bold, bright and fun. At least that’s what Justina Blakeney says. 

Justina is a designer and stylist in Los Angeles who has created a one-of-kind patio for her vintage bungalow that proves you can pull out all the stops when you’re decorating your outdoor space.

Justina writes about her eclectic, international design sensibilities on her blog simply called Justina Blakeney. We were thrilled she agreed to take us up on our Patio Style Challenge– we sent her a Home Depot patio set, and she styled a gorgeous patio around it. 

It’s a tour de force of bohemian style, with delicious color, dazzling patterns, lush greenery and easy comfort. Take a look at the photos, and read on for her distinctive outdoor decorating ideas. 

A patio overhaul at my Los Angeles 1920s bungalow (jungalow!) rental was LONG overdue. Ever since I had my baby girl eighteen months ago the plants in our container garden were dunzo–only the kale survived the drought.

Trees were overgrown–and not in a ‘rustic’ way–in a neglected way. The hodgepodge of furniture that I had more-or-less dumped out there was looking, well, dumpy, and as the spring rapidly approached I knew something had to give.

Enter the Home Depot Style Challenge (and the help of Sara Bauer from Immaculate Space) to give it the makeover it so desperately needed.

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: First we had to get rid of all the junk

 

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: An exotic retreat

First we had to get rid of all the junk. So after sorting what was to stay and what had to go, we took several loads to the recycling bin and to our local donation center.

Next we started on the overhaul.

I knew I wanted the patio to look like an exotic retreat–that’s pretty much what I want my whole life to look like! So I selected the Brown Jordan Marquis Patio Set–it was neutral enough to go with anything–and I loved the tapered legs because they feel very mid-century modern.

The patio, which is long and thin, needed to be divided into two spaces. Sara suggested we separate the patio into a lounge area (where the vegetable garden “cemetery” was) and a dining area, where we had a large umbrella and a few lawn chairs.

 

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: A lounge area

When the patio furniture arrived, I was pretty giddy. I’ve never had upholstered patio furniture. All the stuff we’ve had in the past was just not that comfy, and so I never spent a ton of time out there.

After assembling the furniture, we moved the umbrella over to the new lounge area and set it all up.

We put the two side tables together to create a coffee table. We slipped some wallpaper under the glass of the side tables to add a little pop of color.

We also covered the lounge chair with a vintage suzani and plan to use it both as a lounge chair and as a bench. We replaced the back cushions of the chairs with pillows with upcycled “babushka” scarves. My Moroccan side table fit in perfectly with the new scene.

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: Moroccan table, upcycled "babushka" scarves

Next it was time to get our hands dirty. We painted an old tree stump that we had lying around a poppy orange. We also painted an old shelf we found on the street last year a pretty aqua color that would go with the new outdoor rugs.

We spray painted the black lantern we found at The Home Depot a pretty turquoise.

We took one last trip to The Home Depot and filled our car with a new trellis and plants–from bougainvilleas to tropicals and succulents to replant all of the pots with new lush lovelies.

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: We painted an old tree stump that we had lying around a poppy orange

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: We painted an old shelf we found on the street last year a pretty aqua color

We put the white trellises up onto what was before just a bare cement wall. We hung a collection of vintage planters and hanging plants from it–along with a few accessories to add life to the grey wall.

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: We accessorized whole patio with pieces from my vintage collection

Next, I raided my prop closet (being a stylist comes in handy sometimes!) and we accessorized whole patio with pieces from my vintage collection.

Now when I look out of my living room window onto my patio I just smile.

I can’t wait to spend more time out there with my family, dine al fresco and entertain family and friends. It’s ON.

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: A Lush, Eclectic, Bohemian LA Patio

Outdoor Decorating Ideas: A Lush, Eclectic, Bohemian LA Patio

Thanks Home Depot!

Design Director and magic maker: Sara Bauer 

Creative Direction and photography: Justina Blakeney

Justina Blakeney is a Los Angeles-based designer, stylist and mother. She writes about decor, style, crafts, cooking and living in her eclectic “jungalow” on her  blog Justina Blakeney

To decorate her deck, Justina started with the Brown Jordan Marquis Patio Set from The Home Depot.

For more outdoor decorating ideas and inspiration, see other Patio Style Challenges as well as our Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest. And browse our online Outdoor Living Department for everything you need for your patio, yard or garden. 

Style Challenge is a series of posts from guest contributors who aim to bring you fresh inspiration and ideas for your home and garden using a single Home Depot product as a starting point. Justina received the Brown Jordan patio set from The Home Depot and a gift card. The opinions and ideas Justina expressed are her own.