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Real Estate News
Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2017

Light Up Your Home Movie Room by Creating a Star-filled Ceiling

Can you imagine the look on the faces of friends and family when they walk into your home theater room, look up at the ceiling and discover that its covered with twinkling stars from wall to wall?

If youre not afraid of DIY projects involving power tools and if you have the patience it takes to wire up a large ceiling to make this dramatic focal point, youre ready to begin a project that adds a perfect finishing touch to a room youve already fitted with a sound system, flat screen TV, theater seating and creature comforts.

Where to begin? By recruiting an equally-handy friend whos willing to help you get this surprisingly easy-to-accomplish project off the ground, both literally and figuratively. Its going to take time to do this job right, but once youre done, expect to be thrilled every time you walk into your four-star theater.

8 Decisions to make before you begin:

1. Will you cover the entire ceiling with stars, just the center or the periphery?
2. Do you prefer twinkling stars, static ones or will you be just as happy with either?
3. Are you more comfortable using cable or do you prefer to use fiber optic filament?
4. Would you like a sky thats densely crowded with stars or just sprinkled across the ceiling?
5. Will you have to install a dropped ceiling over the current one or do you have access to an attic?
6. Will the illuminator you install to power the stars require a dedicated outlet?
7. Is your ceiling area so large, youll need more than one illuminator to handle your field of stars?
8. Do you have the time and patience to undertake an installation that could run 30 to 40 hours in total?

Finances, kits and options

Your ceiling size determines the amount of money youll spend on your project, but if youre looking for a ballpark figure to decide if its worth your while to undertake this challenge, expect to achieve a 4-to-1-star ratio on the ceiling of a small theater room using 1000-feet of .50mm fiber optic filament and an illuminator this unit provides the light, with or without a twinkle wheel, for about 500.

Make life simple by purchasing a kit that includes the items you need as well as instructions for undertaking this ceiling remodel. Alternatively, hire a contractor to do the job for you using the following suggestions, but this is a time-intensive job, so keep the checkbook near.

Basic instructions

While you can tackle this job on your own, things could get tedious as you methodically drill into your room ceiling from your attic access to thread filament into holes, so a helper can save you time and frustration. Using single strand filament costs less money and theres less waste, too. Follow these steps to do the job:

  • Mark ceiling joist locations with a pencil so you avoid cutting into them when you drill your holes.
  • Use a bright room light to illuminate the ceiling from the floor so those pencil marks are visible.
  • Drill each hole "up" from the theater room rather than down from the attic to avoid ragged holes.
  • Thread a length of continuous thread optical fiber into each hole.
  • Secure each "star" in pace with a drop of epoxy to keep it stationary.
  • Once all fibers are installed and sealed, collect them and attach them to the illuminator.
  • Plug or wire the illuminator to your electrical system, adding a dedicated switch.
  • Make your theater room a "one of a kind" creation

    Finish your home theater room by adding drama worthy of any blockbuster. Assuming youve money left in your movie room budget, go further with your design scheme by adding touches of authenticity. For example, "Architectural Digest" magazine featured an over-the-top movie room design sure to be coveted by movie fans everywhere.

    Designers started with a ceiling filled with twinkling stars and then installed the trappings of a drive-in movie theater, complete with refreshment stand, theater seating that mimics vintage cars and cut-out palm trees that bring Hollywood to mind.

    You may not wish to go to this extreme or plunder your childs college savings to replicate this ultra-cool environment, but you should be prepared for guests who drop by and refuse to leave, even if you cut off their popcorn supply

    > Full Story

    Can You Trust Zillows Home Price Zestimate? In a Word: No.

    I got an email from Zillow last week. Seems my house has gone up in value another 2,000 dollars in the past 30 days. And its going to rise another 3.5 in the next year, according to their Zestimate. Fab

    Except that its just speculation. When it comes to Zillows Zestimates, you have to take the numbers with a grain of salt. Make that a big shake of salt, right over your shoulder. And maybe a stiff drink. And a frank conversation with your real estate agent.

    "Shoppers, sellers and buyers routinely quote Zestimates to realty agents - and to one another - as gauges of market value," said the Los Angeles Times. "If a house for sale has a Zestimate of 350,000, a buyer might challenge the sellers list price of 425,000. Or a seller might demand to know from potential listing brokers why they say a property should sell for just 595,000 when Zillow has it at 685,000. Disparities like these are daily occurrences and, in the words of one realty agent who posted on the industry blog ActiveRain, they are the bane of my existence."

    Are faulty Zillow estimatesirritating, dangerous, somewhere in the middle? It all depends on your personal situation. A real estate investor, a seller in a high-end neighborhood, or an obsessive real estate watcher ahem may be able to brush off a 15,000 error. But for many people across the country, the word of Zillow might as well be the word of God. So, yeah, dangerous.

    Price errors

    Errors in sales prices are one of the issues Investopedia pointed out in its look at Zillows Zestimates.


    "Zillow factors the date and price of the last sale into its estimate, and in some areas, these data make up a big part of the figure. If this information is inaccurate, it can throw off the Zestimate," they said. "And since comparable sales also affect a homes Zestimate, a mistake in one homes sales price record can affect the Zestimates of other homes in the area. The Zestimate also takes into account actualproperty taxespaid, exceptions to taxassessmentsand other publicly available property tax data. Tax assessors property values can be inaccurate, though. The tax assessors database might have a mistake >

    In June, Zillows much-maligned by industry experts, anyway Zestimates got an upgrade with a new algorithm. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff has famously called his companys price estimates, "a good starting point" and copped to a median error rate of approximately 8. With their new algorithm, they say its dropped to 6.1.


    John Wake, an economist and real estate agent from Real Estate Decoded, applied Zillows updated 6.1 margin of error to "Zillows own estimate of the median sale price in the U.S. in May 2016 of229,737and got atypical error of 14,000. He then took a sample city, Denver - a city in which estimates areactually more accuratethan average" - and found "the error spread in 2016 is a lot tighter and more focused on the bullseye of the actual sales price," but that "their Zestimates are scattershot."

    In his example, "aDenver home has a fair market value of 300,000.According to ZillowsZestimate Accuracy Table,10 of their Zestimate priceswere off by more than 20 from the actual sale prices. Half of that 10 are Zestimates that are too high by 20 or more, and half are Zestimates that are too low by 20 or more. That means you have a 5 chance Zillow will give you a Zestimate of 360,000 OR MORE, and a 5 chance Zillow will give you a Zestimate of 240,00 OR LESS.Yikes"

    Missing data

    It gets even more complicated without all the data that gets fed into Zillows algorithm. Limit the available info and the margin for error grows.

    That same email I received included a couple of new listings and info on recent sold homes in the area. Notice anything interesting about these recent sales?

    Yep, no sales prices. Texas is one of about a dozen states without a mandatory price disclosure law, which makes property appraisals challenging and which makes it even more difficult for Zillow to come up with an accurate Zestimate since it eliminates one of their key data points.

    In the case of my home, theyre a good 11,00015,000 high on their sales price estimate. And thats based on my direct knowledge of sales prices in my neighborhoodnot list prices, not tax assessments, and not assumed sales prices based on trends.

    Which brings up another issue that leads to inaccurate estimates. In many neighborhoods, sales trends and prices vary street to street. But Zillows estimates are a one-size-fits-all program. In my masterplan, the building of high-density units on the southern edge of the community a few years back took a bite out of the value of homes on the perimeter streets. Sales of homes with a first-floor master also get a bump here.

    And then theres the fact that this community is also split between two elementary schools. Zillow wouldnt know which one buyers prefer and wouldnt account for a difference in sales price between two otherwise comparable homes. But, people who live here would, and so would the local real estate agents.

    Which only reinforces the importance of working with one, BTW.

    > Full Story

    Maximize Your Listing Price While Minimizing Your Expense

    Its almost spring and in many parts of the country the housing market is already starting to thaw. Some markets like Denver, Seattle, and Portland are red hot. According to the S amp; P Co>

    The Price is Right

    Theres generally two schools of thought in regard to listing price. One philosophy is to list at top price and lower the price progressively until it sells. Sellers who choose this strategy are usually in less of a hurry and more risk averse. A second strategy is to list slightly under expected sales price. These sellers are usually trying to sell faster and hope to bring multiple offers, boosting the final selling price. The latter is, counterintuitively, the better strategy for getting the most money for your home. Heres how to do it:

    Price Under a Typical Search Limit

    If you home is worth 400,000, set your listing price at 399,000. This way, you capture everyone who might be setting their search ranges at 400,000 or less. Like how products are priced at retail stores, psychologically, a price that ends with 99 appears to be a better value. Better yet, such that it deviates from both, such as 397,400 which studies have shown also increase the perception of value.

    Create Demand

    It might seem risky to underprice your home what if your home is worth 400,000, you list for 375,000, and the offers all come in at only 375,000? First, thats your homes actual market worth. Two, if you receive offers you dont like, you can counteroffer or decline them. Listing your home under value creates a psychological sense of urgency. You want buyers to visit your home and become attached enough to put in an offer. If enough people do this at once, you have created a buyer frenzy and increased your chance for multiple offers and escalated prices.

    Use Comprehensive Comparables

    Your agent should create a comparative market analysis of recently sold homes but also those currently active, expired and off-market. What is selling is as important as what is not. According to Zillow, ensure your home is priced within 10 percent of the average home price in your area. If there are few sold comparables nearby, price your home 10 percent under any currently active or expired listings.

    Home Improvements Before Listing

    There are many home improvements that might enhance your homes value, such as putting in an expensive new kitchen or bath, but stick to the lowest cost for the highest possible value. Your goal is to make a positive first impression and sell your home quickly.

    Replace Tired Flooring

    If your carpet is more than five years old, has unsightly stains or is starting to buckle, its time to replace it. You can replace carpet with carpet but todays buyers see more value in hard floors. Buyers with kids or pets tend to prefer engineered floors, bamboo, or cork for their sustainability. One continuous floor of the same material also creates the appearance that the home is bigger, creating an impression your home is worth more.

    Paint, Paint, Paint

    A coat of paint can cover scuff marks and dirt and brighten a room. Did you love flamingo pink for your hallway and forest green in your kitchen? Thats great But chances are buyers wont have your tastes so instead opt for neutral colors such as grays and earth tones when readying your home to sell.

    Revitalize Your Kitchen

    Fully remodeled kitchens are a great return on investment but dont spend the money if you are looking to sell. Instead, paint them with Annie Sloan chalk paint. Chalk paint looks so good the buyers will ba>
    > Full Story

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