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Category Archives: Home Maintenance and Renovation

Information on home maintenance and renovation that will inform Frederick Home owners

Home Design Trend – Built-In Dog Beds

Home Design Trend – Built-In Dog Beds

Let’s face it dog-lovers…the fur children are part of the family. They need their space. Pet parent-homeowners have lots of options today with the latest home design trend – built in dog beds. Architects are coming up with some creative and tasteful plans to incorporate the fur child’s bed into the cabinetry of the mud room, the laundry room or kitchen.


Home Design Trend – Built-In Dog Beds


For all the pet lovers who also love their homes, there is a new design trend you will appreciate: Built-ins for your dog’s bed.  Here are some beautiful images of the home-design trend – built-in dog beds from Houzz website:


Dog Bed traditional kitchen
traditional kitchen design by Minneapolis interior designer RLH Studio


Most dogs just love to be near their humans, but having them under your feet can be a nuisance, as well as dangerous. Wasted space can easily accommodate an out-of-the-way bed that is also near the family. There are many smart ways to incorporate your dog’s digs into your everyday life.


Staging Ideas kitchen

Built-In Dog Beds in the Laundry Room


home design trend - built-in dog beds

These tile floors in a laundry room are great for a dog. This Los Angeles laundry room is equipped with a convenient cubby under the cabinet for Bubba. ♥ It is not only perfect for a pet, it’s still smart for resale. If you ever wanted to sell your home, a potential buyer who doesn’t have pets could easily use this space for other purposes. It would work well for recycling bins, any other storage ideas, or for laundry hampers.

home design trend - built-in dog beds

This under-cabinet space in the white laundry room is certainly not under-foot. As a home design trend – built-in dog beds are a flexible and popular idea.

home design trend - built-in dog bedsGiving the furry family member his own door makes the space under the stairs not only convenient, but able to be out of sight when you want it to. It also adds just a bit of architectural interest. It may even be a conversation starter at dinner!

These pet spaces can easily be ignored, or used for another purpose. Again, if the home is ever on the market, it isn’t obtrusive. Any family with children will see this space as an instant play room. win-win!
Home improvements like these should never be so nuanced that they are a nuisance to potential buyers, if you should ever decide to sell your home.

Other Built-In’s to Accommodate Pets

What about further enhancements for pet owners? Here is a great idea for a dog-wash! Save the bathtub for the humans and save yourself from an aching back. The tiles can easily be stensled for a fun design touch.
home design trend - built-in dog beds
This laundry room has it all covered, the built-in dog bed, which could easily be a cubby to hold a laundry basket, and the dog wash. Any future homeowner without pets would appreciate a place to wash off muddy boots or shoes, or sports equipment. A gardener would love this cleanup area. Garden equipment or boots can be stored in place of the dog bed.
home design trend - built-in dog beds
The great thing about this laundry room dog wash is the height, which would save a lot of bending over to wash a large dog. It’s large enough to be used to clean a lot of household items.
home design trend - built-in dog beds

 Additional Articles for Pet-Lovers:

Check out Houzz for more Real Estate design tips like the home design trend – built-in dog beds.

Chris Highland 
eXp Realty
Frederick, Md 21701
TEXT US: 301-401-5119

Enjoy Some Pet Art

I’ve added some adorable Pet Art from some talented artists on Sketchport. (A wonderful site to support budding artists) Enjoy!

home design trend - built-in dog beds
Image credit: Ichiban Yada on Sketchport, Breakfast in Bed


home design trend - built-in dog beds


home design trend - built-in dog beds


home design trend - built-in dog beds


home design trend - built-in dog beds


Are Stainless Steel Appliances Still Popular in 2018?

Are Stainless Steel Appliances Still Popular in 2018?

Is Stainless Steel Still Popular?

Stainless Steel appliances have been a long-lasting trend in home appliance choices. For more than 2 decades homeowners have loved appliances and fixtures in stainless. But will the trend continue? Are stainless steel appliances still popular, and more importantly, will they be popular in the future? We’re seeing a wave of new finishes that rival stainless in their appeal. Here are a few that are trending in 2018. But first, there are two housing design trends that are setting the stage, Integrated kitchens in open floor plans, and Personalization

A. Integrated Kitchens

House plans have increasingly opened up over the recent years, allowing the kitchen to be integrated into the other living spaces. Modern cooks prefer to be part of the party, rather than be shut away behind the walls of a separated kitchen.

What this has done for the decor of the kitchen is integrate it with the rest of the home. Now we see many different choices in appliances, from colored refrigerators and stoves, to a variety of metals and finishes.

According to a recent study from Houzz, nearly two-thirds of homeowners in the survey spent more than three hours in their kitchens. Kitchens are now places to watch TV, entertain and read, as well as cook and bake. Today’s kitchens are styled and furnished with the rest of the living spaces of the house in mind.

B. Personalization

As kitchens keep shifting to look more like the living rooms, they are more posh, less utilitarian. Homeowners are personalizing kitchens with bold appliances, cozy seating, stone surfaces and cool fixtures — from sculptural faucets to interesting pendant lights.

As kitchens become more and more our living spaces, homeowners are making them more comfortable. Personalizing the kitchen adds to the comfort of the room. Comfortable upholstered chairs, cozy reading nooks and even a small couch are right at home in today’s kitchen.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular? Yes.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

The Houzz study reported that 3/4 of the respondents still planned to have stainless steel appliances. Their popularity continues, even though more homeowners are opening up to other styles and finishes. People like stainless steel. It matches every wood tone and finish. Dark wood, light wood and white cabinets all look good with stainless steel.

Other Metals

Most major manufacturers have been trying out many different metals over the last 5 years, trying to be the first to find that “next big thing”. Think of Jen-air “oiled bronze”, Whirlpool’s “sunset bronze”, Miele’s “truffle brown”, or Viking’s “graphite”. In the right kitchen, all of these finishes will look great. But none have really taken off like stainless steel…not yet.

Mixed Metals

As the kitchen becomes more integrated, many homeowners are personalizing with greater boldness. As brass and gold have made a comeback, as well as bronze and other metals, there is less reason to stick with just one finish. Mixing metals, although it must be done carefully, is a growing option in design. In high-end homes, look for designers to play with metals more than in the past. “It’s all good” is the motto.

Satin and Matte Finishes

Appliances that have a satin or matte finish, whether in steel or other metals, are appearing in showrooms. Matte is used to describe something that lacks shine, so it looks more dull and flat. The appeal is two-fold, they are easier to keep clean, and they easily blend in with other finishes.

Black Stainless Steel

Black is an exciting newer color and finish that we’re seeing more often. After using the KitchenAid black stainless appliances in the 2015 House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year, their popularity has increased. Now other manufacturers are making them, including LG and Samsung.

Black is becoming popular in all rooms of the house, not just the kitchen. Black is the new Neutral in 2018. The PPG Porter Paints color of the year 2018 is a faded black called Black Flame.  A more elegant version of black, I think we’ll be seeing it more in appliances.

Matching Panels

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

Since the kitchen is more integrated into the rest of the home in modern floor plans, adding panels to the appliances that match the cabinets is becoming popular.

The appliances are hidden behind, so other features of the kitchen can shine. This is a great way to create a focal point somewhere else.

This uniform look creates a less fussy style, which blends into the living spaces well. In the right home, this is the perfect solution to a more “livable” kitchen.

To Paint or Not to Paint?

Thinking about painting your kitchen cabinets? Check out (The Flooring Girl) Debbie Gartner’s series of useful articles on the topic:

Colored Appliances

Smeg is one of the manufacturers who have come out with a lot of colors, from pastels, to bright shades to black and white.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

Colored appliances in an open kitchen add design and style that help it match the rest of the house. Viking has had a line of colored appliances for several years. They look great in a mid-century modern home, or an eclectic, ultra niche home. They are perfect for the homeowner who loves to have fun with their decor.

Slate Appliances

Slate appliances are on trend this year.Are stainless steel appliances still popular  GE is the first to make them. A matte slate finish is easy to keep clean and resists the dreaded fingerprints that make stainless steel difficult. Like stainless, slate matches any cabinet or countertop finish, and is style-neutral. The brushed stainless handles add a pop of shine, complimenting other appliances. [Kitchen by Southington Appliances Kathy from Connecticut Appliance]

What Appliances Should I Choose?

If you’re asking are stainless steel appliances still popular…My opinion as a homeowner…choose what you like. You live with it. As with most things concerning the home, do your research and read all the pros and cons of each style and finish. Then choose what you will love to see and work with and clean every day.

Personal Story: We just bought a slate appliance package for our kitchen...I love them! We have an open floor plan (you can see from the front  door all the way to the back of the house where the kitchen is...they look beautiful.)

My opinion as a REALTOR®…it depends on your home. If you have a traditional home, choose something that goes with your traditional home’s style. If you have a modern, contemporary, or mid-century modern home, choose what compliments it.

Of course, all this depends on whether you’re considering selling soon, or if you plan to stay put for a while. The average life expectancy of appliances should be taken into consideration. If you’re going to sell before your appliances wear out, then you’ll want to keep resale in mind.

Average life expectancy of appliances:

  • Refrigerator – 9 – 14 years
  • Oven/ranges – electric: 13 – 15, gas: 15 – 17 years
  • Dishwashers – 7 – 10 years

If your home has a broad appeal, and if you want to appeal to the broadest group of buyers, the studies are still showing that stainless steel has the most popularity. Stainless appliances will be a safe choice for at least another 5 or 10 years. If you want to play it safe, choose stainless.

If you like to live bold…choose whatever your heart desires!

Related Articles:

Stainless-Steel Still Shines

Kitchen Remodeling and Decorating Trends for Homeowners

Increase Your Home’s Value – Maintain and Repair

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Thinking about selling your home in Central Maryland? Use our free online valuation to instantly

Find out what your home is worth.

Contact the Highland Group for a personalized CMA – Comparative Market Analysis. 301-401-5119

Kitchen Remodeling and Decorating Trends for Homeowners

Kitchen Remodeling and Decorating Trends for Homeowners

Considering a kitchen remodel but want to keep costs low? Here are some of today’s kitchen remodeling and decorating trends for homeowners that emphasize options and high-tech features at affordable prices.

Kitchen Trends 2018

The way that we live in our homes has changed over the decades. Homeowners have moved from formal living rooms to open floor plans. Great rooms that open to the kitchen have increased in popularity since the 90’s, demonstrating the desire for more gathering and connecting in our living spaces. Here are the latest kitchen trends to consider when selling your home to help you get the most return on your investment.

Many designers are predicting that the kitchen spaces, as we have always known them, will disappear with even more “open-concept” designs.

The need for dedicated rooms has switched from living spaces to rooms with specialized purposes, like offices, craft rooms, exercise rooms and music. Even pets are receiving the attention of specialized spaces in our homes. The trend for smaller, but smarter homes also continues, including the kitchen.

Trend #1: Remodeling has Scaled Back

A new focus on moderation and value has entered the remodeling mind-set. Trends that are showing up in kitchens lately include:

  • Repairing existing items instead of replacing them. More homeowners are extending their life with good maintenance and care. When replacing cabinets, they’re more likely to build around current appliances rather than choosing new models.
  • Scaling back cabinetry purchases, with an increased emphasis on kitchen storage and functionality over elaborate decoration. For example, rather than stacked crown moldings throughout the kitchen, more homeowners are putting their money into practical roll-out trays and drawer organizers. Function trumps appearance in today’s kitchens, but that doesn’t mean it has to look inferior.
  • Small-scale kitchen projects are big news. Changing out cabinet hardware, replacing a faucet, and refacing your cabinets upgrades your kitchen without major expense. As more homes today have some form of open floor plan, kitchens are outfitted to flow with the other living areas nearby. This includes light fixtures and window treatments, as well as the small details like oven mitts and tea towels.
  • Appliance Trends. Stainless steel appliances have been popular for 2 decades, longer than most design trends. They are still very popular, but we’re beginning to see other popular options in growing demand, like brushed nickle, pewter, copper, polished chrome and oil rubbed bronze. French door refrigerators, and bottom freezer drawers are still most popular. Professional-style appliances such as free-standing stainless steel gas ranges, the trend for years, are being outpaced by sleek induction cook tops paired with double wall ovens. Under-counter options are a growing trend, with drawers that double as refrigerators, wine storage or a pull out microwave.

    Follow The Highland Group’s board Kitchen Trends on Pinterest.

    Be sure to check out my Pinterest boards for design inspiration!

Trend #2: Simpler, warmer styles are popular

Fussiness and excess have faded away in favor of pared-back looks that present a more timeless, value-conscious style.

  • Cabinet decoration continues to streamline. For example, massive corbels, once fashionable as undercounter supports, are giving way to sleeker countertop supports and cantelivered countertop edges. Stacked moldings have pared back or disappeared entirely. Elaborately glazed finishes have yielded to simpler paints and stains. Bottom cabinets or islands are often a different color that upper cabinets, but in a toned down matte finish.
  • Streamlined Looks. Minimalist and uncluttered. Cabinetry is following the “less-is-more” trend with clean lines and simple moldings and finishes, which are easier to maintain as well. Flat-panel and Shaker doors are popular. People are also mixing it up with horizontal cabinets. Hiding appliances behind cabinet doors is a continuing trend, in keeping with the minimalist trend. Open shelving is becoming more popular, with fewer cabinets and easy access to items.
  • Streamlined Looks. Minimalist and uncluttered. Cabinetry is following kitchen decorating and remodeling trends for Homeownersthe “less-is-more” trend with clean lines and simple moldings and finishes, which are easier to maintain as well. Flat-panel and Shaker doors are popular. People are also mixing it up with horizontal cabinets. Hiding appliances behind cabinet doors is a continuing trend, in keeping with the minimalist trend. Open shelving is becoming more popular, with fewer cabinets and easy access to items.
  • Kitchen finishes have gotten warmer and darker, and feature natural and stained woods. Walnut especially is growing in popularity. Although stainless-steel appliances are still popular, various other metals with toned down finishes are becoming popular.
  • Appliance Trends. Stainless steel appliances have been popular for 2 decades, longer than most design trends. They are still very popular, but we’re beginning to see other popular options in growing demand, like brushed nickle, pewter, copper, polished chrome and oil rubbed bronze. French door refrigerators, and bottom freezer drawers are still most popular. Expensive professional-style appliances such as free-standing stainless steel gas ranges, the trend for years, are losing popularity. They are being replaced by sleek induction cook tops paired with double wall ovens. Under-counter options are a growing trend, with drawers that double as refrigerators, wine storage or a pull out microwave.
  • kitchen decorating and remodeling trends for Homeowners

Related: 12 Hot Kitchen Appliance Trends

For Fixtures and Finishes Throughout the Home: . Follow The Highland’s board Fixtures & Finishes for Home Decorating Trends on Pinterest. .

Trend #3: Technology expands its kitchen presencekitchen decorating and remodeling trends for Homeowners

Many of the techno products and trends that relate to your smartphones and tablets are not only making their way into your local showrooms and home centers, they are an everyday occurrence in homes we show.

  • Appliances are equipped with USB ports and digital screens so you can display your family photographs and kids’ artwork.
  • Smart, induction built-in cooktops ($500-$3,000) remember your temperature settings as you move your pans across their entire surface.
  • One light finger touch is all it takes to open the electronically controlled sliding doors of your kitchen cabinets — a boon to people with limited mobility. You’ll pay 40% to 70% more for cabinets with electronically controlled doors than standard models.
  • Use your smart phones and tablets to control lights and appliance settings from anywhere you have a wi-fi connection. Shop for appliances from major manufacturers right from your device.
  • Technology in the Kitchen is increasing, with Wi-Fi enabled kitchen decorating and remodeling trends for Homeownersappliances, Energy Star rated appliances, and low-E windows. This app —> goes with the above coffee system, an example of smarter appliances! Look for more home-centered technologies in the next few years, as the “internet of things” increases, and more and more new tech products receive crowd-funding.
  • Many are opting for LEDs for recessed lights, under-cabinet task lighting and color-changing accent lighting. We see more LED-powered pendants and chandeliers from major manufacturers as inefficient incandescent bulbs continue their march toward extinction.
  • A wide selection of affordable microwave ovens with convection and even steam features gives owners of smaller kitchen spaces more high-end cooking power.

Trend #4: Eco-Friendly Kitchens

  • Eco-Friendly Design. Glass walls, French and sliding doors, and large windows are desirable in today’s kitchens, to bring the outdoors in. Patios, decks and “outdoor rooms” are ideally suited directly off the kitchen. Reclaimed wood is hot, and bamboo is growing in popularity for more than just floors. Bamboo countertops are showing up in kitchens.
  • Repurpose and Upcycle works just as well in the kitchen as the rest of the house. The big trend is the industrial look. Using industrial light fixtures works well in the kitchen. Repurposing large industrial pieces like shelves or cabinets for use in a kitchen is also very trendy.

Trend #5: Universal Design

  • Aging in place is becoming important to boomers. We’re also seeing many more families living multiple generation households. Design trends include fixtures and features that are ideal for aging in place, like touch-activated and pull-out faucets, widened door and hallways, multi-level cabinets and non-slip flooring.
  • While many homeowners are planning to stay in their homes longer, they are thinking about selecting a style they like today, and will still like in the future. Classic looks are in.

Today’s Kitchen Design is Full of Choices

  • Lighting is another aspect of kitchen design that has changed over the last few years. There is no longer a sense of “right and wrong” lighting. As our kitchens are on display from several living areas, people are choosing light fixtures that are not traditional kitchen choices. Whatever you choose, just make sure that you have adequate lighting for three types of needs: overall lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. As with appliances and cabinets, there are a plethora of colors and metallics to choose from in the coming years.
  • Kitchen Sinks are no longer one of two choices, stainless or white. Colors are coming back into style in today’s sinks. Colors that will blend with the rest of the decor are being considered.  The latest kitchen decorating and remodeling trends for homeowners include a variety of color-friendly choices.
  • Natural flooring materials such as ceramic, stone, hardwood and cork are favorites, along with reclaimed and distressed wood finishes in wider, hand scraped planks.
  • Backsplashes of glossy ceramic, porcelain or glass tile in either subtle or bold color combinations – sometimes even a combination of both are in demand. Again, kitchens are increasingly “on display”, so more thought is put into the design of each aspect.
  • Task specialization is a growing consideration in kitchen design, with
    kitchen decorating and remodeling trends for Homeowners
    Coffee Systems – Very Specialized!

    thought to smarter, if smaller spaces. Pot fillers, built-in cutting boards, coffee and drink stations, appliance “garage” storage spaces, pull-out drawers instead of traditional cabinet doors, warming drawers, and specialized home management spaces are examples.

    [Coffee System image from Sharon’s Style Portfolio]

  • Kitchen Color Trends. Modern kitchens are open to the living spaces of the home, and have a need to blend in with the rest of the decor. Kitchen colors are moving away from stark whites and more toward creamy neutrals, with pops of color. Nature is a strong influence on color choices today, with greens, blues and browns popular. Gray is still the hottest neutral, and is showing up in kitchen cabinets.
  • Cabinet color choices include painted, stained and matte finishes, with muted earth tones and pastels as popular choices. When cabinets are on display from the other living spaces, color choices open up from the usual wood finishes, although still popular and with more choices than ever, to colors that are in keeping with the whole design. So it’s not surprising that darker cabinets are becoming popular. Mixing uppers and lowers is also a trend.

Helpful Resources for Kitchen Design and Decorating:

Why You Should Care About Decorating Trends

If you are thinking about selling your home in the near future, making updates, whether small touches or renovations, you will want to research kitchen trends to consider when selling your home. There are several reasons kitchen decorating and remodeling trends are important for homeowners to stay on top of. There are several reasons why updating your kitchen is worth the effort:

  • A home that is outdated will be less appealing to today’s buyers. There are sure to be other homes on the market in competition with yours. Presenting your home in the best possible condition will give you a competitive edge.
  • An home that is outdated is judged more harshly by buyers. Buyers tend to draw the conclusion that other items in the home have not been kept up either, like maintenance and care.
  • Even small updates and decorating choices can send a subliminal message to buyers…that the home is up-to-date and well-kept.
  • Staging a home for sale can help the home’s presentation, allowing buyers to “see” themselves living in the spaces in the home.
  • Kitchens and baths are important rooms in a home, often requiring the most money to update. When a buyer sees an outdated kitchen, if they aren’t deterred, they start to subtract from the offering price.
  • It can be amazing to see a home be transformed by a little bit of decorating and staging, that is in otherwise great condition!

Plan Your Kitchen Design or Redesign Carefully

Remember the basics in kitchen design. While kitchen trends come and go, some things will always need to be considered. Design specialists refer to the sink, stove and refrigerator as the kitchen triangle, the area of greatest activity which requires careful planning and lots of access. When in doubt, it may be worth it to consult a professional designer. Botching a kitchen design or renovation can be a very costly mistake. Many of the large home improvement stores have design services and software that could prove to be very helpful.

Are You Designing a Kitchen for A New Home?

Lucky you! Here are some helpful tips on Kitchen Design from National Home Builders Association.

  • Home Buyers want multi-functional islands
  • Multiple seating and wrap-around seating is popular
  • The island is the focal point
  • Pantries are in demand
  • People want decorative light fixtures in the kitchen that are also functional
  • Recessed lighting is still popular
  • Layered lighting is desired to achieve the previous two
  • Consumers are not stuck on stainless-steel appliances anymore.
  • Color is back in the kitchen
  • Mixed Metals is a big trend

Read more at: So much cooking in the latest kitchen designs.



For more Design Inspiration all Over the House:

Home Design Trends

Follow The Highland’s board Decorating Trends on Pinterest.


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eXp Realty
Frederick, Md 21701


kitchen design trends

Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating

Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating

Want a better way to decorate, renovate, or prepare your Frederick home for sale? Rather than running to every store to check out every possible combination of paint, flooring materials, countertops, fixtures, appliances and furniture, it’s now possible to do all of the leg-work virtually. Virtual remodeling and redecorating is no longer a future promise. You can view a large number of decorating options by working with the free design software offered on many home-store web sites, as well as other cloud-based tools and apps for homeowners.

Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating

Home Improvement? Thanks to today’s technologies, you can do so from your desktop, laptop or your tablet or your smartphone. Most likely… There’s an app for that! 

virtual remodeling and redecorating

Big Brand Stores

It is now possible to view an amazing selection of decorating options by working with the free design software offered on many home-store web sites. Home Depot, Lowes, IKEA and other major retailers offer on-line visitors the opportunity to experiment with virtual remodeling and redecorating tools without ever leaving the comfort of their home or office chair.

1. On the Home Depot website, DIY designers can virtually remodel every room of a home, from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen.  While in the kitchen, homeowners can use the “Kitchen Visualizer”, with the ability to choose by brand, kitchen layout, or style. With this tool one can combine paint colors with cabinet and flooring options.  Appliances can be added in white, black or stainless, with a choice of several kinds of cabinets.  You can finish it off with multiple types and shades of countertops…you might have a beautiful end product, or you might find that your imagination is a nightmare! In that case, you simply direct your mouse to start over again.

The Home Depot Mobile App is a great tool to use “augmented reality” to see how a new door, or faucet, or appliance… or practically anything, will look like on or in your home. And of course, you can snap a picture and share it with friends and family. The same principle applies when it comes to bathrooms, bedrooms, living and dining rooms.  The software provides opportunities to create color palettes, save design schemes and even order paint, floor coverings and other products on-line.

2. On the IKEA website, several helpful tools are available for planning your rooms as well as your storage solutions. With most of the design groups and with major rooms, there is a “plan your storage” solution.

IKEA’s Kitchen Planner Tool allows a kitchen to be created from dimensions the user supplies.  This kitchen remodeling software also allows users to add and remove cabinets, change drawer fronts and handles, replace the work tops and appliances.  Once the design is complete, the final plans can be emailed to IKEA’s Home Shopping Kitchen Consultants who will review the plan and provide information on appliances, sink, faucets, countertop and interior fittings.

3. Using Lowe’s Virtual Room Designer, reinventing a home on-line is made simple.  Users have the choice of redesigning a room from scratch or using one of the room templates that is available through the software.  The redesigned rooms can be viewed from a variety of angles and perspectives.  The final designs can be saved and printed.


Our 8 Favorite Decorating Apps

Home Improvement Websites

4. On the General Electric website, do-it-yourselfers can choose a kitchen that most closely resembles their own from a variety of kitchen design photos.  The kitchen can be reassembled from the floor up, and colors and product options are many.  Clicking on a appliance or other kitchen feature brings up information about each model.

5. House Beautiful website has a Custom 3-D Design tool for designing your dream kitchen (with Tyler Florence, no less!) You can try out new cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and accessories with a drag-and-drop feature to create a custom, 3D design.

virtual remodeling and redecorating Virtual Tools

6. Google offers a free design tool that allows users to create 3D virtual models of any room in a home, including the bathroom, kitchen and living area. The level of technical savvy is a bit more complicated with Google SketchUp, but the rewards are many.

The tool projects rooms from different angles and the angles can be changed at any point.  A home can even be viewed from the outside looking in. The elements library provides templates for couches, beds and kitchen tables to see how they look within the layout.  Other features of Google SketchUp include creating blueprints of the designs, and printing out layouts to take to a contractor or hardware store.

7. I just read about a new app, called TapMeasure, that you can use to easily measure spaces and objects. You can create 2D floor plans and simple measurements, as well as use it for “smart leveling,” to make sure your pictures are perfectly straight. The service also features something called 3D Room Builder which basically lets you create a 3D model of your space quickly, where it can then be uploaded to 3D modeling software, SketchUp. ⇑ You can add doors, windows, whatever you might have in the space, and generate accurate models of your room because TapMeasure is constantly measuring everything for accurate representations.

Sadly, it doesn’t work on my iPhone 6…it’s too old. 🙁

Here’s a video demonstration on TapMeasure:


8. Magic Plan takes photos of your space and converts them into floor plans with accurate measurements. This tool is perfect for virtual remodeling and redecorating. For an added fee, these plans can be exported in PDF, JPG, and DXF formats to share with contractors, designers, or realtors.  Available for iOS; free

9.  Home Design 3D Gold A new interior or exterior design plan is as easy to devise as dragging and dropping. This architectural app lets you import floorplans and change the space itself. You can visualize new openings, raise ceilings, or take out entire walls. Then add in the furniture and other amenities of your choice. Work in either 2-D or 3-D, and share projects with collaborators who can make modifications with you in real time. $9.99 for Android and iOS

Virtual Landscaping

10. On the Better Homes and Garden website, free software is available not just for room planning, but to help sculpt the landscape of front and back yards.  The software, Plan-a-Garden, allows the homeowner to design anything from a patio-side container garden to the entire yard.  Utilizing the “drag-and-drop” method, users can select and view more than 150 trees, shrubs, and flowers for their landscape.  Dozens of structures like buildings, sheds, fences, decks — even a pond can also be added to the picture. The software then allows the designs to be printed to take to home centers and garden stores.

All of these sites are full of how-to’s and tutorials, videos, and blog articles, as well as photos galore for inspiration.

As you can see, the choices are many for virtual design tools. Any DIY homeowner can get a good start on updating or personalizing their home. Even if you plan on hiring a professional, these tools can be very useful for initial planning and visualizing what you want to accomplish. And they can be fun to use!

Design Inspiration

11. My favorite site for inspiration, planning, organizing, saving and even buying, is You can set up your own “ideabooks” and save images, designs and products you like. You can follow your friends and find professionals in your area. If you sign up for Houzz, be sure to find me there and follow me! I’m always interested in anything concerning decorating and home improvement.

And be sure to join me on Pinterest! I’m looking forward to receiving and sharing all the good ideas!

Follow The Highland Group’s board Decorating Trends 2015 on Pinterest.

Choosing a Paint Color

12. Color Capture: Benjamin Moore’s cool app allows you to snap a picture of any color inspiration you see. It will match you to the most exact paint available to purchase from its collection of 3,300 color options.

13. Color911 Create and save color palettes for your next decorating project with the Color911 app. Color specialist Amy Wax has generated more than 80 downloadable color themes. Additionally, you can create a palette based on a photograph taken on your device and organize favorite colors into folders, then share by email.  Available for iOS; $4

14. ColorSnap  Sherman-Williams has solved your desire to splash the palette of your favorite landscape—or textile, or work of art, or any other source of inspiration—onto your interior. The app can analyze the colors of any photo on your smartphone and let you know which shade of Sherman-Williams paint it matches.  A 1,500-shade inventory makes it very handy. Free for Android and iOS

Shopping Appsvirtual remodeling and redecorating

15. LikeThat Decor: When you see a piece of furniture you like, take a picture on your phone, and the app will instantly match you with similar pieces available to purchase. It makes shopping super easy.

16. Rooomy Visualizing how new furniture will look in a space can be a challenge. This app has the ability to convert 2-D photos into 3-D renderings. Rooomy allows homeowners and designers to envision different configurations of art and furnishings in a specific space, with direct links to retailers when they settle on the perfect pieces. Available for iOS; free

Bonus App!

17. iHandy Level – a must when it comes to hanging shelves or art, iHandy level is a super-sensitive digital device to ensure that everything in your home hangs straight. Free, available for iOS and Android

Here’s to more doing! If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.

Thanks to David Goldberg for contributing to portion of this article on virtual remodeling and redecorating.  David Goldberg is our home inspector of choice, we’ve been referring our buyer clients to David for over 25 years.  He’s the best:)

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector
phone: 301-913-9213
fax:  301-774-4554
Reliable Home Services, Inc.

PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

Chris Highland with eXp Realty
Frederick, Md  21701
301-401-5119 Direct
888-860-7369 Broker

Bathroom Design Trends 2018

Bathroom Design Trends 2018

Bathroom Trends for Best ROI

If you’re considering a remodel, or even a sprucing up your home, it’s always a good idea to check out the latest design and decor trends. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to update, and they often can make or break a home sale. A little research into what’s on trend is always wise if you plan to sell your home in the near future. Bathroom design trends 2018 are eclectic and broad so you’ll be sure to find something that fits your home.

My search around the world wide web has brought me several sources of reliable information…Elle Decor, Huffinton Post, House Beautiful and DIY Network, and, of course Pinterest, are faithful stand-by’s. Angie’s List has some great information about bathroom design trends for the coming year, and its’ a great resource to find contractors.

Bathroom Design Trends 2018

Trend #1:  Conservation Rules

In many areas around the country, water reserves are stressed. In response, regional governments are implementing conservation measures. As a result, there are likely to be new regulations that’ll affect your construction or remodeling plans. Here’s what to watch for:

Environmentally Friendly

Water-saving toilets are more in demand. The flush that used to be 7 gallons a decade ago is now 1.2 gallons. Consider a dual-flush version, or any low-flow toilet coming on the market that meets your style preferences. You’ll find them at home improvement centers from $100 to luxury showroom models for thousands more.

The WaterSense label, launched in 2006 by the Environmental Protection Agency to promote water conservation by plumbing manufacturers and home owners, is becoming as well-known as Energy Star. We’re seeing more low-flow shower heads and faucets with the WaterSense symbol on the box. Just as with Energy Star appliances, there is no cost premium associated with WaterSense savings — there are faucets in every price range.

Water-saving shower heads are the norm. Low-flow shower heads of today have beautiful designs, especially rain shower models. A typical shower head will use anywhere between 5 to 8 gallons of water per minute, while a low-flow head lowers that to 2.5 gallons or less with the same amount of water pressure. By adding air, not water to the mix, these shower heads put out strong water pressure. They’re available in every price range, from ultra-affordable standard heads to luxury rain showers.

Modern motion sensor faucets are increasingly available to homeowners. Most major bathroom fixture manufacturers have them.

Trend # 2: Technology

Hand showers, high-tech faucets, LED lighting, and advanced electronics are in demand, but not just for the sake of the technology. Homeowners are looking for more control and convenience. You’ll can create a custom showering experience more affordably.

Consider a Digital Showering System…with smart features like a warm-up mode, a timer, and a way to pause water flow. And you know you’ve always wanted an LCD TV in the door! Remote control is becoming common in the bathroom…TV, stereo, windows and window treatments are subject.

For $300 for simple controllers to $3,500 or more for a complete luxury installation, programmable showers let you digitally set your preferred water temperature, volume, and even massage settings before you step in. To achieve a personalized showering experience, you’ll need a 120-volt power source, and a thermostatic valve and controller in addition to your standard shower head or heads. Luxury models may include a steam system, a wi-fi source for music, multiple body spray outlets, tankless water heater, and a secondary controller to start the system from another room. I don’t even want to find out how much these systems might cost, ha.

bathroom trends 2018

Heated floors are common these days. It is actually more cost-effective that most methods of heating.

Many home shows across the country offered the smart toilet, from several major brands. The smart toilet features include luxury conveniences such as hands-free flushing, automated lid opening and closing, and seat heating. (no more middle-of-the-night surprises when someone left the lid up;)

Dock your iPhone or MP3 player directly with your speaker-equipped, high-tech toilet so you can entertain yourself on the commode. While you’re not likely to invest $4,000 for a Kohler Numi toilet using this technology today, start looking for competitive models with lower prices as this technology becomes more available and in demand.

Catch up on news and weather while you brush your teeth. Television screens are being integrated into medicine cabinets and vanity mirrors. The cost is still at a premium: $2,200 to $2,400 price tag.

Plug your smart phone or MP3 player into your medicine cabinet so you won’t miss a call or song while getting ready for work or bed. A built-in jack keeps your unit charged (and away from wet countertops) and linked into a built-in speaker system.

Trend # 3:  Aging Demographics Emphasize Safety in the Bathroom

It’s not just high-tech that’s bringing an “experience” to the bathroom. Trends in universal design features add comfort, convenience, and safety. But that doesn’t mean your bathroom has to look institutional. Here are some universal design innovations that can fit into your bathroom remodeling plans:

Sleek, low-profile linear drains are ideal for creating safe, zero-threshold shower designs. Unlike standard round drain covers that are typically mounted near the front end of a shower, these long, straight drains can be installed in different locations to minimize the slope of the shower floor. One popular location is at the outside edge of the shower, creating a wheelchair-friendly curbless shower. More offerings in more finishes — including nearly invisible tile-in channel models that are largely covered by shower floor tile — are becoming the standard for upscale spaces. You’ll spend $500 to $900 for a quality linear drain.

The accessible tub is no longer limited to the high-walled, narrow-door format that dominated the market in the last decade. Newer models, such as Kohler’s Elevance, employ rising panels in front that give more of a traditional tub look with easier entry and exit. Others use standard hinged, sealed doors, but are increasing door width by several inches for better accessibility and appearance.

The rapidly-expanding selection of porcelain, glass, and ceramic tiles makes it easy to find slip-resistant, low-maintenance floors that don’t skimp on style. Expect to see faux wood, linen, and uniquely-textured looks for tiled bathroom floors and walls. The texture adds both visual impact and better traction for wet feet.

Trend #4: Overall Decor… Old Rules are Out… Zen is In!

Modern bathroom design trends are moving towards a bathroom that fits in with the decor in the rest of the home. The color combinations, architectural designs, and a blend of luxury and comfort are more personal and individual.

Today’s homeowners are demanding more style choices, more elegance and more choices in lighting and fixtures. Personal style reigns in the bathroom. A lot of the old rules are out, so go ahead and hang a chandelier over the tub. A touch of elegance adds to the luxury feel. Artwork is showing up in the bathroom…you might as well have something to gaze upon as you luxuriate in your own home spa!

Industrial Decor bathroom design trends 2018

Like the design trends in the main living spaces of the home, the bathroom can easily be treated to industrial decor. Light fixtures, shower rods, exposed pipes and re-purposed industrial pieces are at home in the bathroom. A variety of metals can mix comfortably with industrial design.


We are more in tune to the experience we have in our homes, how our rooms make us feel. More than before, people want to have a spa-like experience at home. As life becomes more stressful, the ability to have a relaxing retreat in our own bathroom is in demand. Look for:

  • Expansive Walk-In showers, with various shower heads and spray systems. Multi-head showers are the epitome of luxury in a large shower. Doorless and curb-less showers are really hot. And they are great for seniors. As we see more multi-generational housing, we see universal design features like no threshold showers on the rise.
  • More frequently, people are opting out of a bathtub. Or, to save space, more stand-alone tubs are being purchased. In the past, free-standing tubs have been very expensive designer features, but as demand goes up, generally prices come down. Hopefully this will be true for these gorgeous bathroom features.
  • Steam showers are reported to have many health benefits. More people looking for a spa getaway at home are incorporating steam showers.
  • For new homes, we’ll be seeing a fireplace in the bathroom for the ultimate luxury and comfort experience.


Natural and organic materials like natural stone, concrete, timber and timber veneers are increasing in popularity. Timber paneling reminiscent of the 70s sauna, but in an updated version, is making a quiet comeback. On trend with the rest of the home, designers are bringing plants, wicker, baskets and natural materials into the bathroom to enhance the spa-like feel.

Form and Function Meet


Bathroom Design Trends 2018Along with the need for Zen in a complicated world, the bathroom styles are becoming more streamlined, hiding hardware and pipes, for a cleaner look. Lines are simple, materials are less fussy.

In case you haven’t had a chance to get one of those trendy bowl-shaped sinks, they are going out of style. People are opting for under-mounted sinks. Pedestal sinks and sinks with legs are becoming popular.

Dedicated Spaces

There will be more individual spaces, zones—dedicated dressing and makeup areas and water closets.

Colors for 2018

Colors seem to fall in and out of favor quickly these days. Every paint company comes out with the “color-of-the-year”…and every new year you’re out of style! According to House Beautiful, the overall trend for several years has been moving to bolder and richer colors. The bathroom seems like a great place to play with color. You can try Benjamin Moore’s Caliente, or Behr’s In the Moment, or Sherwin Williams’ Oceanside. It’s easy to change out curtains, towels and accessories in a bathroom without committing long term to colors that might end up dating your bathroom in a couple of years.


While the style is becoming more minimalist and streamlined, many bathroom designers are balancing the clean lines with warmth, texture and furniture. The bathroom is being treated as one of the “heart of the home” spaces, just like the kitchen. You’ll find glossy wood, fabrics, and wallpaper.

Mirrors are more than just functional, they can be of different shapes, full length, and backlighted, an addition to the overall design.

Quartz countertops are the new thing. Marble is also showing up in the newest designs. Granite is not as popular as it has been in the past, but still demand. Other innovative countertop materials that have been showing up in the kitchen are now showing up in bathrooms… like manufactured products, bamboo, concrete and recycled glass.

Glass tile is still very popular. The colors are many and can fit in with any design concept. Subway tile is also very trendy and compliments any design or color scheme.


Bathroom Design Trends 2018

    Farmhouse Bathroom by Kohler Kitchen & Bath Fixtures Kohler


Bathrooms Matter

According to Remodeling Magazine, kitchens and baths sell homes. In the hottest housing markets, updating a kitchen or bath is often a good idea, with a return on investment nearing 100%.  Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas are one of those hot markets. Keep bathroom design trends 2018 in mind.

For More Ideas and Eye Candy, Enjoy Karen’s Pinterest Board: Kitchen Trends:


For further reading:

Decorating Trends 

Kitchen Trends

A Carbon Monoxide Detector Could Save Your Life

A Carbon Monoxide Detector Could Save Your Life

Home Safety Tips from the Home Inspector:
A Carbon Monoxide Detector Could Save Your Life


What is Carbon Monoxide and why do I need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and potentially dangerous gas produced when fuel burns without enough air for complete combustion. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, paleness and cherry red lips and ears.If symptoms are noticed, it is advised that you immediately open windows and doors to ventilate the home or structure, call 911 and get outside into fresh air. Later, have appliances checked carefully by a qualified heating contractor.

Purchase and install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home and near sleeping areas, in rooms over or near a garage, in the basement or other isolated area, and in rooms where space heaters are used. Detectors that have been verified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and have been manufactured after October 1995 conform to minimum alarm requirements. Those marked UL 2034 or IAS 6–96 have met the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines. Follow the directions for installing and using the detector carefully.

As you can see the prices and types vary:

carbon monoxide detector saves lives

To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Have your chimney and flue cleaned every year.
  • Get a qualified inspector to check appliances and heating systems each year.
  • Be sure all home appliances have adequate ventilation.
  • Don’t rely on carbon monoxide detectors as a substitute for maintaining appliances, furnaces or chimneys.
  • Be sure burner flames in appliances and heating systems are blue, not orange.
  • Never use a gas range for space heating.
  • Never run an automobile or gasoline engine in an enclosed space.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors.

Thanks for this helpful guest post from our favorite home inspector!

David Goldberg  –  Home Inspector
phone:  301-913-9213
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
ASHI Member #101584 
MD License #29322

a carbon monoxide detector could save your life

Chris & Karen Highland 
eXp Realty – 301-401-5119

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

There are several things you can do as a homeowner to spruce up your home to help maintain value or even increase your home value.  Sometimes in the busy-ness of life we forget about home maintenance.  When we decide to sell our home, the mile-long list of things we need to do to get it market-ready can be daunting.  If you find yourself in that position, consider doing the less costly fixes first.

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

1. Consider First Impressions. Cleaning up the yard and entrance to your home takes little more than muscle and energy. Cut back overgrown shrubs and plantings.  Spray or sprinkle some kind of weed-and-feed product (Scotts has always been my fave.)  Power-wash sidewalks, walkways, decks, and the outside of house, if needed. You can rent a power-washer for a day and it will make a huge difference.  There are also power-washing companies that will take the work off your hands.

If you don’t do anything else, paint the front door and replace an old, worn door handle, and the kickplate if it’s dingy. Plant some inexpensive flowers, in pots if you don’t have a suitable garden area. These curb appeal items can be an easy part of yearly maintenance. Keeping your front entry in good shape can be an easy task throughout the time you own your home, so it can be checked off the list before you even decide to sell.

2. Consider flooring. Look down. If your carpet is not too worn, a simple cleaning will do wonders.  If you need to replace carpets, find a mid-grade, neutral color.  We’ve always recommended “Tea Stain”, but with today’s decor trends, a light gray is also a good choice.  It will appeal to the most people.  If your hardwoods are dingy, first try buffing to renew their gleam.  If there are too many scratches and dings, you might need to refinish them.

Increase Your Home Value - Maintain and RepairAs with all home maintenance, keeping your carpets and floors in good shape will help you get more longevity out of them. The expense of new flooring can be saved if the floors are already in good shape when it’s time to sell. Covering high traffic areas with throw rugs can help with longevity of your floors. One of the best ways to increase your home value is to take care of, and update the large areas, like flooring.

3. Consider lighting. Look up. If your light fixtures are dated, get some new ones at Home Depot or Lowes, or any other big box store.  You can find some very nice fixtures for a reasonable cost.  Make sure you use the brightest bulbs possible.

Keeping your lighting updated throughout the time you own your home will not only save you a chunk of money when it’s time to sell…you get to enjoy greater energy savings and more stylish fixtures while you live in the home.

Clean and Neutral

4. Paint covers a multitude of sins. And it’s not expensive. Again, select neutral colors, as they have the broadest appeal. Remember, neutrals don’t have to be white and beige. Grey is a very popular neutral shade today. Most buyers need to be able to envision their furniture in your home, and if your colors and style are too much out of their comfort zone, they will usually not stretch their imagination too far. Even if a potential buyer likes bold colors, its still easy for them to “imagine” their favorite colors in your home if you have a palate of neutrals for them to start with.neutral colors

Most homes take wear and tear with daily living. Decorators recommend painting every 5 to 6 years, just to keep the walls fresh and clean.

5.  Get rid of the stuff!  Its amazing how much stuff we collect, without even trying.  Pare down, thin out, pack away, de-clutter, whatever.  Consider renting a storage unit if need-be, people need to see themselves living there, with all of Their Stuff, so give them room to do so.

6.  Give your house a good cleaning, even if it means hiring maid service for a single clean.  A dirty house is a turn-off to prospective buyers.  When you have it all clean, start making the small repairs that you’ve been avoiding.  Replace window seals, fix the leaks, grout, etc.

7.  Consider Staging.  A professional stager will make a big difference.  The psychology of space is an important factor, and the stager will help you present your space in the best possible light. [We know a couple of good local Stagers]


Kitchens and Baths Sell Homes

Increase Your Home Value - Maintain and Repair

8.  Pay attention to Bathrooms and Kitchens.  Now we’re talking about more expensive fixes, but you can start small and work your way up over time.  Start with small tasks, like cleaning or redoing grout, or caulk.

Replace fixtures one at a time. If you need a new appliance, make sure you replace it with an energy star appliance.  Check out Lowes or Best Buy for their “Open Box” sales, the demos that they sell for 30 to 40% off.  [We got a great dishwasher that way.]

They are the most expensive to update, so if they require little to no work, buyers tend to be more interested. Cosmetic updates can go a long way, but keep in mind the comparable homes that are on the market. If the norm for your home is granite counters and stainless-steel appliances, (although there are alternatives to stainless-steel appliances), then you will want to be competitive when your home goes on the market.

Keeping up with repairs and maintenance throughout the time you own your home is the best way to increase your home value and be prepared to sell without a lot of last minute, expensive work.

Related Articles:

Kitchen Trends

Bathroom Trends

Quick and Easy Bathroom Updates


Contact us for recommendations for Stagers, Home Repair, Roofing, Handyman services, HVAC… we have a list of trusted services.


Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment in My Maryland Home?

Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment in My Maryland Home?

Residential Solar Panels in Maryland

What You Need to Know

Many studies have shown that solar panels can generate half the energy needed in a typical home. Even though their efficiency is not in question, there are many issues surrounding residential solar panels that should cause Maryland homeowners to pause and ask, are solar panels worth the investment?

Eight Points to Understand About Solar Panels

1. Buyers are willing to pay more

Buyers are willing to pay more for a home with solar generated energy. Several surveys and studies over the last decade have shown the increasing interest in green home technologies, including solar panels, or photovoltaic (PV) systems. One of the largest studies was done by Berkeley Labs, an electricity markets and policy group, sponsored by the Department of Energy. The 9th edition of the Tracking the Sun report concludes, among many things, that buyers are willing to pay on average 4% panels

Keep in mind that buyer sentiments differ in various parts of the country. In areas where energy costs are significantly high, buyers are eager to purchase a home with energy efficient systems and features. Also, in areas of the country where the climate is ideal, like the West and Mid-west, and the Southeastern states, solar panels are much more efficient and more in demand.

2. Among other things, the Cost of Installation Effects Demand

The cost of installation has decreased since 2008, according to the above-mentioned Tracking the Sun report. This is partly due to the decrease in costs which happens over time, and also due to the increase in incentives like tax credits and rebates, as well as the rise of third-party owned systems that lease panels to homeowners. Leasing has brought the cost of installation down significantly over the last decade.

Over the last 20 years, solar panels have become more efficient as new technologies have come to the industry. Understandably, the cost of solar panel installation is lower on new home construction than it is in a retrofit for an older home. In the last few years, PV systems for new construction have become smaller and more efficient. At this point in the solar industry, purchasing solar technology on a new home makes good sense.

solar panelsGovernment initiatives have brought the cost of PV systems down. The Maryland Energy Administration backs the state government’s “EmPOWER Maryland” initiative, working to reduce energy consumption by 15%. As part of the initiative, Maryland’s five utilities offer many programs to help homeowners save on energy costs, including Renewable Energy Credits (REC) and a Residential Clean Energy Grant Program. Check to see if your state has incentives.

There may also be Federal incentives for solar energy systems. One of the most well-known incentives is the the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a federal 30 percent renewable energy tax credit, which has been extended by Congress through 2019.

3. Appraisers and Lenders Enter the Picture

Buying and selling real estate complicates what seems like a simple issue…buyers want them, homeowners want them, people who love the planet want them, and we all like the effect solar panels have on our energy costs. But the tricky part comes when the appraiser needs to determine if they add value or not, and the lender needs to agree with the value-add.

Appraisers and lenders have been trying to catch up with solar technology, along with other energy-saving features, in terms of calculating the effect, or lack of, on home values in any given market. Any time new items or features enter the picture, appraisers need time to see their effect on the market. Lenders need even more time to make sure the value is really there.

Fannie Mae Weighs In on Solar Panels

As of mid-2014, according to the Berkeley Labs report, more than a half-million homes had solar systems. Fannie Mae has used the findings of the report to begin to work on guidelines for appraisers, and by extension lenders, to consider solar systems. If a house has an owned solar system the appraiser should analyze the system and the market to see if it adds value. So, at least the ball is rolling on the process of determining value.

In the end, the only thing that matters is if the lender sees value….

“Remember the Golden Rule – He who has the gold makes the rules.”

4. Do Solar Panels Add Value?

The answer depends. If PV systems are purchased by the homeowner, they certainly may add value, depending on several things: the area of the country and their efficiency, depending on demand, depending on lenders and loan products, and depending on whether they save significantly on energy.

Green home improvements are on the rise, and in general, do get a higher sales price, according to many studies, as this Realtor Magazine article points out: Do Green Homes Fetch Higher Sales Prices? Green features include many things, like dual-paned windows, energy-efficient appliances, geo-thermal heated floors, low-flow faucets and toilets, and certifications from programs such as Energy Star or LEED. But among the many green items, most are more affordable and not as extensive as solar panels.

Don’t Forget Appearance

solar shingles
Solar Roof Tiles

One point that often gets overlooked is the simple aspect of aesthetics. Some solar panels, particularly the blue panels, which happen to be the least expensive, well…they’re just plain ugly. Depending on where your home is located concerning direct sunlight, solar panels can be an eyesore. There goes your curb appeal.

If the solar panels are leased, as is increasingly popular due to cost, they do not add value to the home. The PV system belongs to the third-party company in this case, not to the homeowner.

They may even end up decreasing your net return. Let me explain.

5. Lease Vs. Purchase of Solar Panels in Real Estate

The cost of installing a PV system can run between $15,000 and $20,000 in most places in the country. That is a lot of money upfront. Sometimes it can be financed, but that is often cost prohibitive. Many companies offer a lease contract which usually lasts 15 years or more.

Leasing solar panels has made them much more affordable for the average homeowner, which has contributed to the recent growth in the industry.

6. Buyers May Balk

The problem comes when a homeowner tries to sell their home with a leased solar panel system. Many home buyers are wary of buying a home with a solar panel lease. They either aren’t keen on having to take over the lease payments, or they aren’t keen on going through the credit requirements of the solar company.

As solar technology gets better all the time, sometimes the solar panels a homeowner leased 5 or 10 years ago have been eclipsed by the latest technology in the industry. Some buyers don’t want to be saddled with outdated PV systems.

7. Sellers May Pay More

We’re hearing more and more lately about sellers not being able to get their home sold because of problems with leased PV systems. Transactions fall apart over disputes about a leased system. Some sellers end up buying out the remainder of the lease just to get their home sold.

8. If You’re Considering Solar Panels – Do Your Research

  • Do the math. If you might end up moving before you finish out the lease, or before you recoup the expense of the purchase, it doesn’t make financial sense. Here’s a solar savings calculator.
  • How old is your roof? If you get a solar system and need to replace your roof in five or ten years, the cost will be much greater to remove the panels and then replace them on the new roof.
  • Get a complete financial analysis from several solar companies. Make sure to research municipal, state and Federal incentives.
  • Read the paperwork. Make sure you understand the lease or purchase contract with the solar company. If you need to transfer the lease, make sure it can be accomplished without a lot of hassle.

Solar companies will gladly tell you in their sales presentation that solar panels certainly add value to your home. And they will usually come up with an option to make them affordable. But when it comes to buying and selling the home, there are many more complications. So do your homework!

Additional Reading:

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