The estate of romance novelist Jackie Collins is selling the fourth and last of the author’s properties, according to Variety. Collins, who sold a half-billion copies of her bodice-ripping novels during her lifetime, was nearly as prolific in the arena of real estate.
Collins’ four-bedroom home in Bel Air, CA, is listed for $4.95 million. Sitting on an acre of land, the 4,150-square-foot, ranch-style house has a formal entry, living room with vaulted ceiling and fireplace, wood-paneled study, and kitchen that opens to an entertainment area.
The master bedroom with fireplace has a walk-in closet and master bath with steam shower and his-and-her water closets.
The gated property features a brick courtyard, lushly landscaped backyard, and heated swimming pool.
It’s unclear if Collins ever lived in this property. But Variety says the property was available for rent in 2011 for $8,000 a month, and in 2016 for $18,000 a month.
Los Angeles has been awash in Collins-related real estate deals. Jackie’s 18,777-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion was sold last July for $21 million. Her older sister, Dame Joan Collins, recently listed her Sienna Towers condo in West Hollywood for $4.5 million.
Jackie Collins, author of “Hollywood Wives,” wrote 32 novels—all best-sellers—during her extraordinarily prolific career. She died in 2015 at age 77.
Your bathroom isn’t just a place to do your special business. Your bathroom can be a sanctuary. A place where you can relax and unwind. A place where you can be totally yourself. A place where you can get away from the kids.
And that sanctuary should be beautiful.
Luckily, we're here to help you create the perfect space for hiding from the family/boozing in secret/lounging in long bubble baths. We hunted down the best in modern bathroom design trends—and some inexpensive ways you can implement the look in your own home. These interiors are so cool, you may never want to leave.
2. Vivid colors
As you probably already know, neutral colors are soooo 2016. When it comes to paint, design tastemakers predict we'll go bold in 2017. So if you’re looking for something a little funkier, we suggest this bathroom. Sheathed in robin's egg blue, with lime-green accents underneath the sink and tub, the room gives you a subtle dose of color without overwhelming you with neon.
Get this look: You can hire a professional to refinish your tub and sink in any color you want (it'll run you about $300 to $500), or you can DIY. House paint or any water-safe paint will do the trick, but if you're going to DIY, make sure you clean and scrape the surface area thoroughly before you start.
3. Textured walls
Wallpaper is back, and some of the modern designs are simply gorgeous. But this bathroom takes things one step further. The textured tiles look like waves crashing on the wall, giving the space an immersive, visual appeal.
Get this look: That wall looks 3-D because it is—but it's also DIY-friendly and affordable. Lowe's sells a version of these textured panels (6 panels for $105). Or check out inhabit's Seesaw Wall Flats ($60 per 10 flats). Offered in a ton of patterns, the tiles are lightweight and paintable.
4. Modern bronze
Fitting a walk-in shower, soaking tub, and sink into a small and narrow space can be tricky, but this design found a way around the space constraints with an open-style shower. With its sliding barn door (another space saver), Moroccan tiles, and updated bronze, this bathroom is magnificently modern.
Get this look: Like we said, you can pick up subway tiles at most hardware stores. Copper fixtures aren't such an easy find at Lowe's or Home Depot (we tried), but we love the options at Signature Hardware (such as this vintage faucet set, $399.95). For modern Moroccan floor tiles, try Popham Design or Tierra Y Fuego.
5. Embellished ceilings
If you’ve been ignoring your bathroom ceiling, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to add some visual appeal. This bathroom’s exposed wood ceiling absolutely pops against the neutral subway tiles.
Get this look: Here the wood paneling is exposed (#shiplap, as Chip Gaines would say) and then treated to prevent damage from water and steam. Don't have wood planks you can expose? Try lightweight tiles or even wallpaper (yes, really). East Coast Rustic's reclaimed wood wallpaper ($239 per 20 square feet, Houzz) will give you the same feel without any risk of wood warping.
Homeowners love their bathrooms. We totally get it—you spend a decent amount of time in there, and you want it to be the ultimate Zen oasis. And since potential buyers want that, too, you're likely willing to splurge to make your lavatory lush and plush.
But one person's lush can be another's flush—as in flush away that weird or ugly bathroom decor before it drives you insane, or would-be buyers straight to another home.
No matter how lavish you think your loo is, beware of the design trends that will simply make buyers turn up their noses. And your bathroom doesn't have to be a lime-green, laminate horror show to turn off buyers; there are some more subtle design trends that can also cause buyers to take a pass.
The bathroom "can actually be a deal breaker for some people,” observes Bee Heinemann, an interior design expert at Vant Wall Panels.
So before you take the plunge, assess these seven trends that design experts and home buyers would like to flush from the bathroom right now.
1. The all-white box
Stark white kitchens and baths have been a huge trend over the years, but their time in the spotlight is mercifully coming to an end, reports Tonya Bruin, CEO of To Do–Done Handyman Services.
The problem? Homeowners are finding it's impossible to keep this room clean.
"White tile and flooring can stain very easily, and any little mark glares at you from across the room, tainting the crisp, clean concept of an all-white look," she explains.
"I have so many homeowners coming to me now to ask for these white baths to be torn out and replaced with a more varied color design," she adds.
If you're guilty of going all-white but don't want to tear out the whole room, there are ways to easily temper the look: Paint the walls, and add pops of color with bright towels, a bath mat, floral window valance, or sink skirt.
A sparse bathroom can be relaxing: No clutter! Clean lines! But if the look is too bare, you'll end up with a space that simply doesn't work for everyday life. Just ask design expert Jessica Filoso, of real estate company CLV Group, who's seen her share of near-empty bathrooms.
"The main issue with this trend is that you don't have enough storage," she points out. "With an overly minimalist design, you end up with all your stuff on the floor, which means your 'simple look' is one big mess."
If your bath is on the empty side, keep buyers' fears at bay by adding some more storage and personality. Étagères are a perfect spot for towels, toiletries, and tissue paper—and they're chic and lightweight, too, so you can keep your minimalist theme.
Need more pizzazz? Hang a colorful piece of art, add a textured hamper, or arrange a trio of potted palms or ferns in the corner.
3. Overly funky color schemes
Mustard. Salmon. Avocado. In small doses, they're nice hues (and delicious foods!). But they aren't very welcome in today's powder room.
"Colors like these tend to be tacky-looking and make your bathroom feel like it's stuck in the 1980s," says Scott Allis with Miracle Method, a bath and kitchen refinishing company.
A retro look is a fine goal, but when it comes to selling the bathroom, it's best to stick to a quiet palette—and balance the colors appropriately.
The most appealing, modern look is a mix of three colors in a 70/20/10 distribution.
"Use the neutral one most of the time (70% of the walls, floor, tile), a rich contrasting color for 20% of the look, and then an accent shade for the last 10%," Heinemann explains.
4. That huge bathtub
So you're willing to shell out the dough to update your bathroom before you put your home on the market. Bravo! But when it comes to replacing your bathtub, we have a word of caution: Be realistic.
You might have scoured dozens of design magazines and come to the conclusion that your bathroom won't be luxurious unless you can soak in a big, beautiful piece of porcelain. But who really has the time?
"This elaborate, oversize fixture is far from practical and actually has low resale value," Heinemann says.
Indeed, the appeal of bathtubs has declined in recent years. As long as there's one bathtub in the house (for buyers with kids), there's no need for more—or a big, ostentatious soaker.
"Homeowners use these tubs once a month, tops," Heinemann adds.
Instead, put your money into a quality, high-efficiency, water-saving shower.
"And if you really want a whirlpool, put in an outdoor version or an extension of an existing pool," suggests Bea Pila, design pro and author of "Sacred Spaces for Inspired Living."
Selling your home is a marathon, not a sprint. It's a big decision that can take years of dreaming, years of waiting for home values to return all while second-guessing yourself, your life choices, and the market.
You've been patient. The house you expected to live in for a few years has turned into a 10-year hold. Rejoice! The housing market has rebounded, and the time to sell may be now: Home prices are up, interest rates are still low (but rising), and inventory is tight.
Of course, the first thing a potential buyer sees is your front yard and your home's exterior. Is your house as attractive as it could be? According to the Remodeling Cost vs. Value report by the National Association of Realtors®, home buyers are big on curb appeal.
Replace the entry door. Buyers are looking for safety and energy efficiency. Replace your dingy old door with a new steel entry door for a 102% return on investment, according to NAR. It is attractive, comes in different colors, and won't break the bank (price range is $99 to $500). This, however, is good only for median- to lower-priced homes (those priced below $200,000). For high-end homes, be sure your front door reflects the grandeur of the price and neighborhood.
Replace the garage door. Sometimes it's the first thing potential buyers see when they drive up to your house. If the garage door is dirty, worn, and hanging from a hinge, replace it. A new door can add pizzazz and, according to NAR, return about 89% of its value.
Wash the windows. If you don't do windows, hire someone who does. Clean windows show potential buyers you take good care of your house. This attention to detail makes them want to see the inside.
Repair/replace the roof. This is a big one. Roofs are expensive; we know that. But a leaky roof can end up costing even more. Buyers always, always ask their agents how old the roof is. They want to know that they won't get stuck with your postponed repairs. If you can't replace it, have a roofer patch spots that show wear. It's best to get this big-ticket item done before the inspector finds it and potentially destroys your sell.
Clear the gutters. If your gutters resemble potted plants, it's time to clean them. If they hang lower than the roofline, reattach them. A cluttered gutter signals to potential buyers that you've given up, and they likely will, too.
Replace the siding. Buyers place a premium on fiber cement siding, according to NAR. If your home is sagging from warped siding, upgrade from vinyl to cement. Make sure your agent tells buyers about your recent investment.
Tuck-point the bricks. If you live in a brick home, be sure to have it tuck-pointed. Not only does a freshly tuck-pointed house look better, it is also sealed against water damage.
Replace the windows. Yes, this is another big-ticket item. Replacing windows can cost thousands of dollars. A quick hack: Replace the windows seen from the curb. New energy-efficient, double-paned windows are high priorities for buyers. You may not be able to afford all new windows, but some are better than none.
Paint the exterior. If you live in a painted house that used to be yellow but now looks beige, it's time for a fresh coat. Don't underestimate the value of a freshly painted house.
Mow the lawn. Do we have to say this? And while you're at it, edge it, too.
Trim the hedges. There's no need to get fancy—just trim the outgrowth.
Plant flowers. Adding pops of color with flowers and ornamental grass can boost curb appeal while making buyers feel welcome. If you want to landscape, try adding low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants to entice the eco-conscious.
Trim trees. Don't make buyers duck down while walking to your front door. If the tree branches are hanging too low for the average person, trim them back. There should always be a clear path to the front door.
Powerwash the porch/deck. Buyers will always check out the backyard. If you have a deck, make sure it's washed, sealed, and ready for entertaining.
Check the doorbell. While it doesn't affect your curb appeal, a working doorbell matters. Sometimes open house visitors ring the bell before walking in. Make sure yours works!
Leave a light on. You can bet buyers are driving by your house at night, checking out the neighborhood. Sometimes they will drive by to make sure they want to attend the open house. To attract them, add strategically placed solar lights around your yard. Highlight your newly planted mums, your blooming roses. Make the house look as good at night as it does during the day, then watch (from a distance) as buyers line up to attend your open house.
Everyone deserves to live in a safe community where you don't have to think twice about taking a walk by yourself or sending your kids out to play. A great way to foster a neighborhood free from danger is to start a neighborhood watch program with your fellow residents.
A neighborhood watch is essentially an organized group of people working to prevent crime in their area.
"Neighborhood watch programs are one of the most effective crime-prevention programs in the country," says Justin Lavelle, a safety expert for BeenVerified, an online background check platform. "When neighborhoods and law enforcement come together to discourage and prevent crime, it makes our communities inherently safer.
"Neighborhood watch works because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur in the first place—rather than trying to change the criminal’s behavior or motivation."
With that in mind, here are some tips for getting your own neighborhood watch on the grid.
1. Get to know your neighbors
"Knowing the people that live next door and down the block from you can help stave away unwanted activity," says Lavelle, who suggests people get outdoors and walk through their neighborhood. "Be friendly and greet others who are engaged in yardwork, have small kids, or are out walking just like you. Knowing people by sight will help increase the feeling of safety in your neighborhood."
Welcoming new neighbors and attending block parties is also a good start toward building a solid community, he adds.
2. Build a neighborhood list
"We hold a party twice a year where we have an opt-in neighborhood list with email addresses and phone numbers," says Andy Weisser of Woodland Hills, CA. "There are about 70 families, and people can post things like lost dogs, LAPD neighborhood watch summaries, and road resurfacing details."
Having an email chain is a great way to spread the word, especially with so many people attached to their smartphones day and night.
3. Create a Facebook page
Once you create your official neighborhood watch Facebook page, it's time to get the word out.
"Canvass your neighborhood door to door, and invite everyone to follow the page to stay up to date on meetings and events," says Lavelle. A simple postcard or flyer will help let everyone know your intentions for the program.
"Choose a social media–savvy neighbor to serve as the Facebook page moderator and ask residents to post any incidences (such as home or car break-ins)," he says.
Make the group private so personal information doesn't get out to the masses and it feels like a neighborhood safe space.
4. Be on the lookout for out-of-the-ordinary occurrences
Put the "watch" part of "neighborhood watch" into practice every day by knowing who are your neighbors; this will make it easier to spot suspicious activity.
"Members of a community are in the best position to notice variances in the environment," says psychologist Thomas Boyce, founder of the Center for Behavioral Safety in San Carlos, CA. "That is, neighbors typically know neighbors, and things that look out of place can be addressed before they become problems."
5. Hold regular neighborhood watch meetings
Getting all of your neighbors together can be tricky due to scheduling, but it's also one of the best ways to keep communication open.
"Plan meetings well in advance (e.g., monthly or quarterly) at a neighbor's home or the local library, and offer a baby sitter—it will boost attendance," suggests Lavelle. "These gatherings will help residents get to know each other, allow you to plan strategies, and keep everyone in the loop."
6. Establish 'safe homes'
Designate a handful of safe homes that children playing or walking home in your neighborhood can come to in case of an emergency.
It is ideal if the safe house belongs to someone who is retired or works from home. Make stickers for the front door or window, and make sure the kids in your neighborhood know which homes are safe zones.
7. Limit door-to-door solicitation
Discourage door-to-door salespeople and other strangers from soliciting in your neighborhood. Lavelle notes that many burglars will use this method to case properties. This could be a good topic to bring up at a neighborhood meeting. Ask residents to put a small sign on their door that says “No Solicitation" to make it crystal-clear.
8. Distribute a safety reminder sheet
People get busy and sometimes forget basic home safety practices. Consider creating and distributing a flyer or pamphlet with reminders like turning on exterior lights at night (a well-lit neighborhood makes crime less likely) and locking cars that are parked on the street.
"Also remind people to lock their garage doors at night. They can be lifted open, and burglars can enter your home through your garage access," says Lavelle.
Recent waves of outside-the-box ideas in housing have brought us teeny-weeny homes, converted shipping containers, prefab modern palaces, and co-housing apartments with luxe perks for millennials.
But the latest “it” homes with builders and buyers have actually been around since the 19th century.
Townhouses, those classic rows of attached single-family homes that are a fixture in American cities and suburbs alike, got a second wind in the 1960s. That’s due to folks scooping up these existing, and often inexpensive, older abodes as they moved back into the big cities. And now the lovechild of a condominium and standalone house is back again and hotter than ever with both buyers and builders.
In fact, townhomes are now the fastest-growing segment of the single-family housing construction market, according to the National Association of Home Builders, a Washington, DC–based trade group.
Townhouse construction was up 17.8% from 2014 to 2015, according to the most recent data available from the NAHB. Meanwhile, construction on standalone homes rose only 10%, while co-op, condo, and apartment construction jumped 12.1% over the same period.
They made up about 12.4% of all new construction in the single-family home market last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
The secret of their popularity lies with first-time buyers, who are typically younger and cash-strapped. Townhouses and row homes sold for a median $198,000 in September—about 12% less than detached single-family homes, according to the most recent data available from realtor.com®.
About a quarter of current and wannabe homeowners plan to buy a townhouse this year, according to a realtor.com® survey released in October. It was the most popular form of housing after single-family homes. That percentage was even higher for millennials, about a third of whom plan to close on one in 2017.
“Townhouses are indeed the affordable solution to expensive land in more and more urban areas,” says realtor.com’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke. “For many people, it can be the most affordable way to buy a home and to get into a more desirable neighborhood.”
Many baby boomers also see the charms of a home that doesn’t require strenuous outdoor maintenance. (Residents of many townhome developments can pay their homeowners association to take care of those chores.)
Whether they’re in the city or the suburbs, townhomes are often located in trendier, more walkable areas with good schools and shopping nearby, Smoke says. They also often tend to be close to employment and transit centers.
If you’re not familiar, upcycling is the process of taking something old and turning it into something awesome. And once you start, it’s kind of hard to stop. Instead of buying a bunch of new things, find ways to upcycle everyday items you already have on hand, like old mason jars or tea cups.
2. GO NEUTRAL.
Ever notice how high-end showrooms or homes have a neutral color scheme? It’s because neutrals feel clean, clutter-free, and classic. Once you have a neutral base, it's easy to accent the room with accessories and pops of color. Kicking up the contrast also gives the room a sophisticated upgrade that’s both modern and fresh.
3. FAKE A BUILT-IN LOOK.
The library shelf look is so chic and can really make a home look upscale–– but if you’re like me don’t want to splurge on a custom design, use bookcases to create the appearance of floor-to-ceiling built-ins. This stacking bookcases from IKEA is a great (and affordable) way to achieve the perfect library effect (just make sure you secure the bookcases to the wall with anchors).
4. DON'T OVERPAY.
While statement pieces can make all the difference, they’re not always wallet-friendly. For online purchases, try using the Honey shopping tool, which can save you hundreds on West Elm, Crate & Barrel, and Amazon. For those who aren’t familiar, Honey is a free browser app that applies every promo code on the Internet to your shopping cart (in seconds!).
The joys of homeownership are many: Your own house is a place to make sweet memories, build a financial nest egg, and whittle down your tax bill. Wait, what? Yep, it’s true: Your home can save you a bundle on April 15.
We’ve rounded up every last way to take advantage of the tax benefits of owning a home. Read on for the full rundown just to make sure you aren’t missing any, then pat yourself on the back for all the moolah you’ll save!
Tax write-off No. 1: Your mortgage interestThis is the biggie tax benefit of owning a home: the ability to deduct the mortgage interest you pay over the course of a year. And the more recent your mortgage, the greater your tax savings.
“The way mortgage payments are amortized, the first payments are almost all interest—so that’s why the mortgage interest deduction is worth the most in the first few years of the loan,” says Wendy Connick, owner of Connick Financial Solutions. (See how your loan amortizes and how much you’re paying in interest with this mortgage calculator.)
Here’s how this deduction looks for a married couple in the 28% tax bracket (that means a joint annual income between $151,201 and $230,450) who bought a home with a $300,000, 30-year mortgage at a 4% interest rate. They will pay $11,904 in mortgage interest their first year. Once you add in the other itemized federal deductions below, these homeowners can expect to save at least $3,333 in taxes during their initial year of ownership.
Tax write-off No. 2: Your property taxes
Generally, your property taxes are deductible on your tax return, says Brian Ashcraft, director of compliance at Liberty Tax Service. And that could be a hefty savings. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household property tax is $2,127. If you have a mortgage, your taxes are built into your monthly payment.
You can also pay property taxes early and write off the entire expense if you’re staring down a large tax bill for any given year. Just note that you must claim the deduction in the year you wrote the check. For example, if you paid your 2017 property tax in 2016, claim that tax benefit on your 2016 return. Here’s more info on how to calculate property taxes.
Tax write-off No. 3: Private mortgage insurance
If you put less than 20% down on your home, odds are you’re paying private mortgage insurance, or PMI, which costs from 0.3% to 1.15% of your home loan. But Uncle Sam’s willing to give you a tax break here by allowing you to deduct this amount from your income, too.
How much you’ll save: If you make $100,000 and put down 5% on a $200,000 house, you’ll pay about $1,500 in annual PMI premiums and thus cut taxable income by $1,500.
Note: The deduction is due to expire this year, says Connick. “Unless Congress renews it, the deduction will not be available for the 2017 tax year.”
Tax write-off No. 4: Energy-efficiency upgrades
Don’t miss out on tax credits for any “green” updates you’ve done to your home in the past year, says Michael Banks, founder of FortunateInvestor.com. The Renewable Energy Efficiency Property Credit allows you to claim a credit for up to 30% of the cost of equipment you purchased that uses renewable energy sources (e.g., solar panels and wind turbines).
Other home upgrades like new HVAC systems, energy-efficient windows, and storm doors can also earn a tax credit of up to $500. For example, if you installed central air conditioning, you can claim a $300 credit. This credit for residential energy-efficiency improvements expired at the end of 2016, so hopefully you made these improvements last year. If not, there’s still time for solar panels, since this credit runs through 2019.
Tax write-off No. 5: A home office
If you work from home, your office space and expenses can be deducted from your income, too. According to Vincenzo Villamena, managing partner of Online Taxman, you can take a $5-per-square-foot deduction for up to 300 square feet of office space, which amounts to a maximum deduction of $1,500. Understand, however, that there are strict rules on what constitutes a dedicated, fully deductible home office space. Your accountant can lead you through it.
Tax write-off No. 6: Home improvements to age in place
Many older homeowners plan to stay put and age in place—and if that entails renovations such as wheelchair ramps or grab bars in slippery bathrooms, the cost of these improvements for you, a spouse, or dependent results in a nice tax break, says Jayson Mullin, owner of Top Tax Defenders.
“You can deduct the amount by which the cost of the improvements exceeds the increase in your home’s value,” says Mullin. To break that down, let’s say the cost of installing a ramp totals $10,000 and increases your home’s value by $7,000. Then the allowable deduction would equal $3,000.
Just remember, these “aging in place” deductions must cost more than 10% of your adjusted gross income. So if your AGI is $60,000, there’s no deduction for the first $6,000 of medical home improvement expenses. But if you’re 65 and older, the expense must exceed only 7.5% of your AGI.
Tax write-off No. 7: Interest on a home equity line of credit
If you’ve tapped into your home equity by taking out a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, the interest you pay on the loan is also deductible provided you use this money to pay for home improvements or repairs.
How much you’ll save depends on the amount borrowed, but let’s crunch some sample numbers: If you take out a four-year $20,000 HELOC at 4%, you’ll have an $800 deductible that will save you about $205 in the first year of your loan. Use this calculator to see how much you’ll save.