News, Photos & Up-Comming Events of the CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes Sales & Marketing Team

Monday, September 29, 2008

Colonial Revival (1880 - 1940)

In its early phase (1880-1915) the Colonial Revival tended to involve grandiose structures that incorporated designs characteristic of the original Colonial style: Palladian windows, gambrel roofs, pedimented porticos, columns, classical detailing such as swags and urns and crisp, white trim. While these larger homes showed more restraint than did the showier Chateauesque and Romanesque styles, they were rarely historically correct copies. It wasn't until later, between 1915 and 1935, that Colonial Revival fashion shifted toward a truer facsimile of the Colonial prototype.
In the 1940s and '50s, a further simplification was made (largely due to the depression and changing postwar fashions), and Colonial Revivals were built that only suggested, rather than replicated, their Colonial predecessors.

The Colonial Revival style began after the American Centennial in 1876. It was then that the public developed a new fascination with their Colonial roots. The anti-England sentiment that had spawned the Greek Revival had largely abated, and American expatriates found themselves suddenly hungering for their homeland. By the 1890s, architects could not build houses that fed that nostalgic fervor fast enough, and the Colonial Revival became a staple of American domestic design. It continues in all its various forms and deviations to this day.

Identifying features:

  • Front door accentuated with decorative crown and/or entry porch.
  • Façades with symmetrically balanced windows and centered door.
  • Windows with double-hung sashes, usually with multiplane glazing in one or both sashes.
  • Windows frequently in adjacent pairs or triples

Monday, September 22, 2008

Increased home sales may be sign of recovery.

By: Kevin Smith and Sandra Emerson, Staff Writers - San Gabriel Valley Tribune / Published Sunday September 21, 2008

As Washington lawmakers spend the weekend hammering out what may be the largest financial bailout in U.S. history, local real estate experts say the Southern California housing market may be bottoming out.

After more than a year of plummeting prices, sales in Southern California counties picked up in July and August over the same months last year, according to statistics released last week.

"It's a slight but steady monthly uptick," said Tom Adams, owner of Century 21 Adams & Barnes in Glendora and Monrovia. "But it's continuing, and once we get past the election, I think it will uptick even more."

A total of 19,366 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in Southern California in August - down slightly from July but up 9 percent from August 2007.

At the same time, home prices fell 34 percent from a year earlier to $330,000.

"Borrowers who thought they would never buy a house are buying some very nice homes," said Dave Coy, a Realtor for Century 21 in Redlands. "There are payments out there right now for buyers to purchase a nice home for $300 a month less on an FHA loan than what the going rent is."

Even with sales improving, however, experts don't expect a quick turnaround in the market. Prices may continue to decline and level off as sales increase.

The nation's financial markets also continue to struggle under the the historic debt left in the wake of record defaults, leading many experts to compare the state of today's markets to the days leading up to the Great Depression.

Twelve federally insured banks have failed this year, and the federal government has committed hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to prop up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and American Insurance Group, Inc.

On Friday, President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asked Congress to approve hundreds of billions more to buy bad debt from struggling banks and financial institutions. Some experts think the government bailout could top a trillion dollars.

Real estate experts are divided as to what immediate impact the government's bailout plan for Wall Street will have on the housing market.

Adams is optimistic.

"If all of that bad debt could be shuffled off to the corner, the rest of the financial world could return to some kind of normalcy," he said. "Right now, people are having a lot of trouble getting loans. But this would allow lenders to soften up a little bit ... and maybe have some middle-of-the-road guidelines that make more sense."

Adams stressed, however, that all of the debt would have to be removed.

"The costs associated with with insuring the risk has gone through the roof," he said.

But government bailout or not, Adams said sales in his area already have picked up.

"We've got one home we're working on where we got our sixth offer this week," he said. "Two of those were all-cash offers. When you start seeing multiple offers mixed in with all-cash offers - which we're starting to see - that's a good indicator that if we're not at the bottom, we're close enough that smart money is coming back into the market."

Steve Johnson, director of the Riverside office of Metrostudy, said most of the recent activity in Southern California's real estate market has been at the bottom end as more bargain hunters jump back in seeking good deals.

"There are lots of Americans out there who are great bargain shoppers," he said. "They've waited on the sidelines and now they're snatching up homes. And it's a lot easier to qualify for a $200,000 home than to try for a home that's $600,000 to $800,000 with a jumbo loan."
Johnson figures the housing market can't get much lower.

"Are we near the bottom? We're probably very close at this point in regard to the volume of activity," he said. "The problem is in San Bernardino and Riverside counties about 58 percent of the home sales are foreclosed properties."

Chris Vigil, a broker with Keller Williams in Whittier, said he's seeing increased activity as well.
"We're in a good market now," he said. "A lot of buyers who have been sitting on the fence waiting are coming out now."

In some cases, the increased interest is pushing home prices higher, Vigil said.

"We're getting multiple bids on some of these properties," he said. "We had a house in Santa Fe Springs that listed for $300,000 and it ended up selling for $410,000."

Coy believes the drop in home prices is a much-needed correction.

So will the government's bailout plan for banks pump new life into the real estate market? "I think it's all lip service," Vigil said. "Earlier in the year when they raised the FHA loan cap to $719,000 they made all of this hoopla about it. But we didn't see anything happen. Trying to get someone to qualify for a loan is still a lot of work."

Vigil said most lenders have been burned by bad loans and are being overly cautious.

"The underwriters will still be reluctant to write loans," he said. "But I think we're seeing the bottom. All signs indicate it won't get much lower. And by the time we know what the bottom is ... prices will be going up."

Southland economist Christopher Thornberg, a principal with Beacon Economics, doesn't think the government's multibillion-dollar rescue plan for banks will do much for the housing market.

"Liquidity is not relevant - it's not the problem," he said. "People just bought homes they couldn't afford, and they couldn't refinance because they couldn't pay their mortgages."
The housing market is choking because home prices were artificially inflated, Thornberg said, putting them well beyond the reach of average buyers.

Prices have fallen significantly over the past year, he said, but they still have a ways to go.

"Falling prices will create liquidity and then a lot more people will qualify," Thornberg said. "In terms of a recovery, we're halfway there. Prices had to fall 40 percent just to get back in line with historic norms. I think things will bottom out when they fall 50 percent."

Edward Leamer, an economist at UCLA, has his own theory about what needs to happen.

Rather than reward Wall Street investors for making bad decisions and exposing taxpayers to hundreds of billions in losses, Leamer said the government should be providing incentives for first-time homebuyers to get into the real estate market.

In Washington, Democrats appeared likely to push for additional help for homeowners before sending legislation to Bush as soon as next week.

Of the 1,682 houses on the market in Fontana, 422 are real estate-owned properties and 628 are short sales, said Bill Velto, managing broker for Tarbell Realtors in Upland.

"That's about two-thirds of the properties in Fontana," he said.

Still, Velto said, lower prices finally are translating into more sales.

"It's good news because about 20 percent of properties are selling every 30 days," he said. "It's an indication that properties are moving."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Ranch House (1932-1980)

"The ability to move in and out of your house freely, without the hindrance of steps, is one of the things that makes living in it pleasant and informal." -- Sunset magazine's 1946 edition on Western Ranch HousesThe Ranch Style, also known as the California Ranch, Texas Ranch or Western Ranch Style, was the ultimate symbol of the postwar American dream: a safe, affordable home promising efficiency and casual living. The style is loosely based on early Spanish Colonial precedents of the American southwest, modified by influences borrowed from Craftsman and Prairie modernism of the early 20th century.

The Ranch Style became become the dominant style throughout the country during the decades of the '50s and '60s. In the 1950s almost any one-story, close-to-the-ground, rambling house was called a California ranch house. With its open kitchen/living area, the ranch was specifically geared to casual entertaining. Another key selling point was the desirable indoor/outdoor living promised by the one-story layout, which featured glass doors, picture windows, and terraces and patios secluded in a rear yard. Having the ability to move freely about the house, without steps, into large private porches and patios from almost every room was living the "good life". Gone was the street-oriented Victorian front porch; that was replaced by a private rear one. The garage also became an integral part of this house design.

The popularity of "rambling" ranch houses was made possible by the country's increasing dependence on the automobile which in turn, created the suburb. Because land was cheap, homebuyers were able to buy larger lots. Larger lots meant bigger homes so the sprawling house, a.k.a. the Ranch Style, was born.

A variation of the Ranch style, the Split Level rose to popularity during the 1950s. This multi-story modification retained the horizontal lines and low-pitched roof of the Ranch house, but added another story in such a way as to create three floor levels of interior space. This addition served to create "quiet" and "noisy" areas that many families in the newly emerged TV area were seeking.

Identifying features:
  • Asymmetrical one-story design.
  • Low-pitched roof, with the hipped version the most common.
  • Moderate or wide eave overhang.
  • Partially enclosed courtyards or patios.
  • Large picture windows.
  • Built of local materials (wood, stucco, brick, or stone)
  • Shaped like an L or U and surrounds a patio.
  • Large expanses of glass.
  • Visible inclusion of cars, children's play areas, etc.

Source: with Permission

Monday, September 15, 2008

Streamline Moderne (1920-1949)

"Simple lines are modern. They are restful to the eye and dignified and tend to cover up the complexity of the machine age…they allow us to feel ourselves master of the machine." Paul T. Frankel.

Art Deco and its derivation, the strikingly designed Streamline Moderne, were two of the more dramatic examples of American architecture that broke with the tradition of reviving historical styles. While Art Deco captured the spirit of the moment, the modern age, Streamline Moderne offered a glimpse of the future. It was this vision of a near-Utopian, sci-fi world that helped to lift the American public out of the gloom of the Depression.

The Streamline Moderne's unique style boasted a fully automated world in which machines, controlled by man, were everywhere -- and yet, at the same time, virtually invisible. Even the building's mechanical system was invisible: pipes, ducts, electrical conduits, and air-conditioning units were all hidden behind a smooth exterior.

This ultra-modern style displayed an intense fascination with speed. Its visual vocabulary (the curve, the teardrop and the uninterrupted horizontal line) was derived largely from the form of high-speed modern transportation machines: the airplane, the automobile and even the ocean liner. A rapid sense of movement was imparted by narrow horizontal bands of windows that often wrapped around corners and by horizontal layering on the building's façade that used changes in colors or materials. For the limited number of Americans who could afford to build, a Streamline Moderne made them appear progressive, scientific, and avant-garde.

Identifying features:
  • Surfaces of concrete, stucco, or metal.
  • Horizontal rectangular container.
  • Facades asymmetrically composed.
  • Accents in terra cotta, glass block.
  • Dramatic rounded corners, semicircular bays and other details suggesting motion.
  • Small round windows reminiscent of portholes on yachts and ocean liners.
  • Metal window frames and doors

Source: with Permission

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Craftsman Bungalow (1905 - 1930)

The bungalow was the dominant style for smaller houses built throughout the country during the period from about 1905 until the early 1920s. The Craftsman, the most popular style of bungalow, originated in Southern California and quickly spread-via pattern books and popular magazines-throughout the rest of the country. Anyone, anywhere, as long as they lived near a train depot, could pick a bungalow style out of a Sears Roebuck or Aladdin Redi-Cut catalog and have the whole house-plumbing and all-shipped to them.

The roots of the American bungalow are found in the Indian province of Bengal. Eighteenth-century one-story huts with thatched roofs were adapted by the British, who used them as houses for colonial administrators. In the 19th century, the "bangla" or bungalow's economy of space, simplicity of form, and closeness to nature inspired the English architects for the Arts and Crafts (Craftsman) movement.

Some people believe that the bungalow is indeed the true American house, giving a physical place for such bedrock family values as practicality, simplicity, and openness. "It was in Southern California that the bungalow…found its true home," said the authors of Architecture in Los Angeles. "Here a young family on the make, a sick family on the mend, or an old family on meager savings could build a woodsy place in the sun with palm trees and a rose garden. The California bungalow, whatever its size or quality of workmanship, was the closest thing to a democratic art that has ever been produced."

Indentifying features:
  • Low-pitched, gabled roof (occasionally hipped), with wide, unenclosed eave overhang.

  • Roof rafters usually exposed.

  • Decorative beams or braces under gables.

  • Porch support bases extending to ground level (without break at level of porch floor).

  • Porch supports usually squared and sometimes slanting inward.

Source: with Permission

Friday, September 5, 2008

How To Buy A Home

Here’s some good news for homebuyers: this bad market is actually a great market for homebuyers. If you have been waiting on the sidelines because you couldn’t afford a house, now is the time to get into the game. With housing prices going down, it’s a good time to get your money together, get in the marketplace and start asking questions.

What can I afford?

  • You only want to spend one third of your gross income—that’s income before taxes—on your home. Here’s why: there are lots of other costs beside your mortgage that you have to think about—insurance, maintenance, and taxes.
  • It’s important to really take a hard look at all your numbers to make sure you have a handle on what you can truly afford.

How much should I put down?

  • You should try to put 20% down, but no more. This shows lenders that you are a serious buyer and they will be more likely to give you good terms (provided you have a good credit score).
  • Most people find that once they buy their house there are a lot of other costs involved that many don’t expect. For example, you may have to repair something—your roof, your furnace, etc.
  • It’s better to have enough money on hand to deal with unforeseen expenses that arise.

How do I find a home in my price range?

  • Most people, especially women, search on the web first to find a home—it’s a great place to start to see what you can afford.
  • All the major broker houses ( will have web sites and you’ll easily be able to sort through houses to see what that appeals to you in your price range.

How important is location?

  • It’s best to look for a house that is close to basic services in the area—malls, dry cleaners, grocery stores—you want these things really close to your house so that it is an easy place to live.
  • Some people buy a home where there are no services and it can be really unpleasant to have to drive a distance just to go grocery shopping.
    Buying a house in a location that is near services also helps with resale, because people buying your house will want to be close to services as well.

Should I buy in an emerging neighborhood?

  • In this market it’s really not necessary to buy in an emerging neighborhood. There are some great houses in very good neighborhoods for sale right now.

About CENTURY 21 Adams & Barnes

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Monrovia, California, United States