Put the Cool back in Ranch-Style homes

This common, one-story house with a low profile has a distinguished American pedigree. Yet, for decades it’s been overshadowed. As the ranch again attracts attention, learn about its best features and how older, dated examples can become strikingly modern.

Cliff May, considered the father of the ranch house, drew his inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-style and Usonian homes, as well as later Arts & Crafts designs. May designed and built these ranch homes in Southern California from the 1930s on with a goal to develop a prototype that would suit home owners in a warm climate who favored informal living and easy outdoor access.

After the Second World War, developers borrowed May’s concept to construct small variations quickly and affordably and meet growing housing demand. Some ranch-style homes were cranked out, cookie-cutter-style, in large tract developments such as Levittown on New York’s Long Island. Yet at the same time, other iterations grew into more sophisticated “California Modern” designs in the hands of developers such as Joseph Eichler, who had lived in a Wright home.

Hot, Then Not
In more recent times, the popularity of ranches has waxed and waned, depending on typical home buying criteria: location, condition, and price. In Southern California, they remain a favorite that can command top dollar, especially if they’re near the ocean and good schools, says Kelly Morgan, sales associate with Troop Real Estate in Westlake Village, Calif. “A single-story in Thousand Oaks, closer to water, will bring a higher price than in Santa Clarita,” she says.

Back East, they remain popular on New York’s Staten Island because they’re among the more affordable options and offer relatively open plans as opposed to Colonial- and Victorian-style layouts, says broker-owner Holly Wiesner Olivieri of Holly’s Staten Island Buzz. She and her husband bought a ranch 17 years ago for its private cul-de-sac location, proximity by ferry to Manhattan, and handyman-special price. In other parts of the Northeast and Midwest, ranches can be a tougher sell, as more home owners typically prefer a two-story Colonial or Cape, says Connecticut architect Duo Dickinson.

Who’s Buying Now?
Overall, the greatest interest nationwide is coming from two demographics:

Young couples find them an affordable entry-level option that they see remodeled and decorated often, thanks to HGTV shows and hipster home magazines. “It’s the style that appeals to the young ‘hip’ L.A. buyer who’s interested in simplicity,” says Kate Guinzburg, a partner at Deasy/Penner and Partners, a Los Angeles real estate firm that specializes in mid-century modern and other styles of homes. And in certain markets like Austin, Texas, it’s a style that’s prevalent in neighborhoods that are close to downtown, which appeals to a young professional segment of buyers who want to avoid long commutes as their city gets more congested, says Austin-based builder Dominique Levesque of Another Great House. The second big cohort is baby boomers looking to downsize to one level and gain more maintenance-free living but remain in a single-family home environment. Craig McMahon, whose eponymous firm is in San Antonio, Texas., says boomers might also be inclined to choose a ranch when looking for a second home.

To take advantage of this ranch revival, share with clients how these homes can both be livable and convey mid-century cool:

Give it the right name.

Ranches share many similar features — a single story with low-pitched gabled roof, for example. But that doesn’t mean that one moniker works everywhere. In some areas, the term “ranch” won’t raise red flags. But Chicago architect Stuart Cohen of Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects thinks that for some buyers, it has a negative connotation in the same way “tract” housing does. “‘Mid-century modern’ is a better term since it connotes a classic collectible,” he says.

Three Families and Their Ranches
There’s no single reason buyers seek out a ranch home, nor is there one simple solution to the search for the perfect one. But these case studies can give you a glimpse into the process:
1. A young couple, Chrissy Saari and Dave Leonard, clients of architect Duo Dickinson, bought a 1,800-square-foot ranch house in Connecticut. Though they wanted to tackle a lot of the work on their own to keep the price down, they hired Dickinson to add new soaring windows and “edgy” building materials to distinguish surfaces. “We probably over-improved it, but love living in a small, designed environment where we can stay through our children’s school years,” Saari says.
2. Another young couple, clients of DeGraw, opted for a ranch for similar reasons, but only after a bid to enlarge their 1,300-square-foot, 1920s Craftsman-style house came in too high. “Our house had a lot of character, but one of our daughters’ bedrooms was more like a closet,” says homeowner M.J. Wieland. She and her husband instead found a larger-than-usual 2,300-square-foot ranch. “I never pictured myself in a ranch, but we were excited to do the remodeling to get new windows and an open-plan kitchen/dining/living area, thanks to Jeff and our contractor, Built Tough Construction,” she says.
3. Boomer clients of DeGraw, Edward and Deborah Sattler, moved from an Arts & Crafts–inspired, two-story home to a smaller 1971 ranch. The move allowed them to remain in their same Hudson Valley, N.Y., community while relocating closer into the center, decreasing their footprint and need to drive. “We knew that it would be in demand since most of our village’s housing stock is 100 years old and two stories. This is what others who are boomers want,” Edward says. “We were ahead of the curve,” says Deborah. They enlarged and updated the kitchen by eliminating an adjacent den and improved the mud and laundry room. They also added a new furnace, insulation, and bigger, more energy-efficient windows (by lowering existing sills). The move also increased their cash flow by $1,000 a month, they say.

In parts of the West, “ranch” implies that it’s a home where horses can be stabled, says Morgan, whose ranch-seeking buyers typically want land for a barn and sometimes a pool. That’s why she prefers to call ranch-style homes “single-story.” Other terms you might hear are “American ranch,” “rambler,” and “rancher.” “Split-” and “bi-level” connote ranches with an extra half-level.

Play up its manageable, affordable size.

Averages vary, but generally these homes are under 2,000 square feet, and some are less than 1,000 square feet. Rooms are usually small by modern building standards. Most were built with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, though this also varies, says Levesque. The small footprint, along with a typically small lot, works well for those interested in keeping down costs, maintenance, and taxes.

Highlight the open layout.

Most feature a small center hallway that separates living quarters from bedrooms; the living area often consists of an L- or U-shaped living-dining room with a small, separate kitchen, says Dickinson. While not as open as many of today’s informal loft-style plans, ranches offer more openness than other older traditional homes do. That arrangement works especially well for young families who want to keep a close eye on children, says Guinzburg.

Share how to improve profile and layout.

Because of the style’s simple form, roofline, and construction method, ranch homes’ low ceilings can be raised and vaulted to 10 to 12 feet or higher. A second story can be added and interior walls can be removed, says architect Jeff DeGraw of DeGraw and DeHaan in Middletown, N.Y. By replacing the genre’s small windows with bigger panes, the home can also look larger. In fact, new windows are often a good investment here, since the originals weren’t usually the most energy-efficient, DeGraw says. On Staten Island, most ranches were built with a basement, so Olivieri often hires an architect to draw a simple floor plan to show how an unfinished lower-level space can be transformed.

Explain how to modernize while respecting the facade.

The exteriors of ranch homes can easily be updated with paint or new siding materials. But the goal should be to respect the home’s roots and not turn it into a totally different animal, says DeGraw. “Keep it simple, with the same proportions and trim, so it still reads as a mid-century modern house rather than a New England–style Colonial with shutters,” he says. Levesque follows a similar mantra and also makes changes that fit the house into its site and neighborhood. Due to its small footprint and one-story design, adding on can be relatively easy if funds and the site, setbacks, and septic system permit, says Cohen. The key is to do so with similar proportions so what’s new fits with the original, he says. Levesque stresses the importance of respecting the site and existing trees.

Channel the modernist spirit.

To attract buyers who find it hard to visualize furnishing a ranch, consider staging with mid-century modern pieces. Reproductions are readily available online at sites such as Allmodern.com and Retrofurnish.com. Los Angeles designer Kimba Hills, owner of Rumba, a mid-century modern design store, also advises installing modern light fixtures and cabinet hardware, painting backgrounds white, and adding a skylight if the house is dark. “So many buyers want what’s modern, yet they also want something with character and a hint of nostalgia,” McMahon says.

When all’s said and done, the ranch provides a cool way to live for another generation. Ultimately, Dickinson says, “It’s more about the living that goes on within.”

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).

Shopping for a Home?

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will make. That’s why it’s in your best interest to choose an experienced real estate agent who listens to and understands your needs, and has detailed knowledge of the area in which you want to want to live.

When you choose a CENTURY 21® agent, you’re dealing with a professional who understands your concerns and will provide you with the personalized service that makes all the difference.

What should you expect in your first meeting with a real estate agent? A CENTURY 21 Agent will typically talk to you about the neighborhood where you want to live, home prices, schools, transportation, and the surrounding commercial and residential areas. They can also address the pros and cons of using a buyer’s agent versus a sales or dual agent.

When you’re ready to visit houses, ask your CENTURY 21® Agent to help you with:

* Arranging showings
* Tracking the properties you’ve seen
* Identifying homes that meet your criteria and keep track of your “what’s right for you” list

TIP: After touring each home, write down what you liked and didn’t like. Your CENTURY 21® Agent can help you develop a rating system to narrow the field. For example, pick the house you like best on day one and compare all other houses to it. When you find a better one, use the new favorite as your standard.

Century 21 Sweeps JD Power’s Satisfaction Study


Aug 6, 2014
For Immediate Release
Peter L. Mosca
Century 21 Real Estate
Phone: 973.407.5180
MADISON, N.J. (August 6, 2014) – CENTURY 21 Real Estate, the iconic brand with the world’s largest real estate franchise sales organization, announced that it has been ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction by the J.D. Power 2014 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction StudySM, released today. Specifically, CENTURY 21® Real Estate swept the awards by receiving the highest ranking among national real estate companies across all four customer satisfaction segments in the study, including: First-Time Home-Buyer Satisfaction, Repeat Home-Buyer Satisfaction, First-Time Home-Seller Satisfaction and Repeat Home-Seller Satisfaction.

“CENTURY 21 sales professionals understand that real estate is about developing relationships and building trust with their customers. Customer satisfaction is at the core of everything that they do each and every day,” said Rick Davidson, president and chief executive officer, Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “Our brand reputation is earned and measured with every customer interaction, and these J.D. Power results showcase the quality of our franchise broker network and their affiliated sales professionals.”

The study, now in its seventh year, measures customer satisfaction among first-time and repeat home buyers and sellers with the nation’s largest real estate companies. Overall satisfaction is measured across four factors of the home-buying experience: agent/salesperson; real estate office; closing process; and variety of additional services. For satisfaction in the home-selling experience, the same four factors are evaluated plus a fifth factor, marketing.

“The feedback from thousands of home buyers and sellers in this study shows that the dedication and commitment of the C21® System to caring about the consumer, delivering excellent service and establishing trust as a differentiator in the market,” said Bev Thorne, chief marketing officer, Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “This study comes at the culmination of three years of hard work and dedication to a strategic roadmap that our brokers have embraced since 2011. By focusing on the quality of their affiliated sales professionals, they have raised the bar for customer service.”

The 2014 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study includes 5,810 evaluations from 4,868 customers who bought and/or sold a home between March 2013 and April 2014. The study was fielded between March 2014 and May 2014.

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power is a global marketing information services company providing performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information, visit jdpower.com. J.D. Power is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About Century 21 Real Estate LLC
Century 21 Real Estate LLC (CENTURY21.com) is the franchisor of the world’s largest residential real estate franchise sales organization, comprised of approximately 7,000 independently owned and operated franchised broker offices in 77 countries and territories worldwide with more than 102,000 independent sales professionals. The CENTURY 21® System provides brand marks, marketing, communications and innovative technology solutions that help enable its franchisees and their independent agents to attract and engage prospects, nurture customers, and deliver a positive real estate transaction experience.

The CENTURY 21 Brand, as identified by consumers from a list of real estate agencies in the Millward Brown 2013 Ad Tracking Study, is the most recognized brand name in real estate, and the industry leader in brand awareness – a position it has held since 1999.

C21® System members are active members of the communities in which they live and work, having raised over $108 million in total contributions to Easter Seals since 1979.

Century 21 Real Estate LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services.

© 2014 Century 21 Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved. CENTURY 21, the CENTURY 21 Logo are registered service marks owned by Century 21 Real Estate LLC. Century 21 Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated.

REALTOR® Lands on List Among Most Mispronounced Words

  • Article from Realtor Magazine

Business Insider recently highlighted a list of “surprising words you’re probably mispronouncing,” and landing in at No. 8 on its list: REALTOR®. Business Insider says the word is often incorrectly pronounced “real-a-tor.” The correct pronunciation is “real-ter.”

The word “REALTOR® is trademarked by the National Association of REALTORS® to describe brokers who are members of the national association. Robert Wilson, an English professor who is also a real estate professional, told Business Insider that he speculates the mispronunciation comes from methathesis or transposing certain letters within words. He cites another common example: “aks” for “ask.”

REALTOR® joined other commonly mispronounced words on Business Insider’s list, such as “cache” (the correct pronunciation is like “cash”) and “prestigious” (pronounced “pre-sti-jus,” not “pre-stee-jus”). See the full word list at Business Insider.

Source: “11 Surprising Words You’re Probably Mispronouncing,” Business Insider (April 4, 2014)

Why Use a REALTOR®?

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR “®” logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84 percent of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.
Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®.

But if you’re still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen more reasons to use one:

1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power — that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders — banks and mortgage companies — offer limited choices.

2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.

3. Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

4. Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

6. Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.

7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

8. When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50 percent of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

10. Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

11. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing — a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).

Copyright © by Move, Inc.

Silence isn’t always Golden

communicateWhen trying to sell a home, silence isn’t always golden especially when you’re expecting your real estate agent to call. In fact, it’s one of the leading complaints among sellers in the real estate market. Often times you find an agent who is more than willing to take on your listing, but once the relationship is made, the seller enjoys getting a call at least once a week.

“A seller should establish with the agent up front the expectation that regular communication will occur. Even if it’s just to check-in, the seller will be more satisfied being kept ‘in the loop’,” said Tim Rash, Century 21 Properties Plus.

Keeping the communication lines open between the two parties assures the seller that the agent is keeping them apprised of any and all offers. In addition, agents often provide valuable tips on why prospective buyers weren’t interested. Often times, an agent is privy to the buyer’s dislikes of the property. For instance ‘this room’s too dark’ or ‘the kitchen has a funny smell.’ This allows the agent to give the seller constructive feedback and offer important tips on how to make the home more attractive to future buyers.

If you’re a seller and are not hearing from your broker, be sure to keep calling them until they get the message that you expect a regular update. If the broker doesn’t return your calls, leave a message for your broker’s office manager. The manager will see to it that your broker becomes more attentive to your listing.

Selling a home can be a lot of work and sometimes quite stressful. It is incumbent upon an agent to satisfy the seller’s expectations of routine updates, this will ensure the possibility of future business not to mention a successful sale. Furthermore, as a seller you must demand the communication exchange between you and your agent. If both parties work in a cooperative effort, the selling experience will be more successful and enjoyable for both the agent and the seller involved.


About Century 21 Real Estate LLC
Century 21 Real Estate LLC (century21.com) is the franchisor of the world’s largest residential real estate sales organization, providing comprehensive training and marketing support for the CENTURY 21 System. The System is comprised of approximately 7,100 independently owned and operated franchised broker offices in 74 countries and territories worldwide with more than 100,000 sales professionals. Century 21 Real Estate LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services.

©2013 Century 21 Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved CENTURY 21® and the CENTURY 21 Logo are Registered Trademarks Owned By Century 21 Real Estate LLC. Century 21 Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each CENTURY 21 Office is Independently Owned and Operated.



Summerville SC Real Estate Investment Opportunities

Summerville, SC and Dorchester County are growing and growing quickly. New business development is booming¹ and the County offers a Top Ten school district for the state². Real estate investment opportunities exist in single family homes priced under $100,000.

Attached is a listing of current Summerville, SC active listings for single family homes listed at or below $100,000. If you are interested in possibly purchasing any of these properties, contact me and we’ll get the ball rolling.

Click the image below for a PDF with information on the new 2014 listings:

SC Investors

¹ Dorchester for Business

² School District Ranking