January 2009 Fast Takes

Jennifer Pickert, an Atlanta-area associate with Prudential Georgia Realty, has given house hunting a new twist.

September 1, 2009

Selling By the Busload

Jennifer Pickert, an Atlanta-area associate with Prudential Georgia Realty, has given house hunting a new twist. Five months ago, she started offering the Home Hunter Tour, loading up to 12 buyers on a minibus and taking them on a tour of eight or 10 houses that fit their criteria.

"Initially, we were just going to show foreclosed properties," Pickert says in an Oct. 18 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But the tour's been so well received that we're now doing all properties."

Pickert told the paper she focuses on one neighborhood during each trip to give buyers an appreciation of what's available in a variety of price ranges. "It puts into perspective the difference between a house at $375,000 and another at $425,000," she says. The tours are big gas savers and get a lot of people through sellers' homes at one time.

Remodeling: Beyond the Fads

Ground-floor master and secondary bedrooms are a home design trend that will stand the test of time because people love the convenience, says Katherine Salant, author of The Brand-New House Book (Three Rivers Press, 2001) and a syndicated home design columnist.

Young couples like to use that secondary bedroom for a nursery, middle-aged households for aging parents, and older households for accommodating shifting sleep patterns. Other enduring design trends: home offices connected to the main house by a breezeway and smaller kitchens connected to a large dining room. Salant discussed the trends in her Oct. 18 Washington Post column.

Lots for the Money

Forbes set out to find cities in which households get the most value for their homebuying dollar, based on a formula that compares an area's median home price to its median household income. 

At the top of the magazine's list are several Texas cities—Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio—and a number of growing cities like Charlotte, N.C.; Denver; Indianapolis; Minneapolis/St. Paul; and Portland, Ore. Cities the magazine says provide less value include many of the biggies: Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C.

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