Lydia Craft Blackwell

Associate Broker

My Blog

Architectural Diversity in Mobile's Historic Districts

3/2/2015

First of all, I hope everyonewho attended Mardi Gras in Mobile and elsewhere had an amazing time!  I know I definitely did.  I attended The Military Mardi Gras and LaShe balls and they were a total blast.  It’s always fun to get dressed up and let loose!  With all of the events associated with Mardi Gras that have been going on this last month, I’ve gotten to thinking a lot about the history of Mobile and, more specifically, the architecture and neighborhoods here.  These stories and historic neighborhoods are part of the very old and gorgeous fabric that makes up our wonderful little city and I think they are worth a quick conversation, especially as real estate in these areas is very unique and sought after!

Mobile began as the Capital of French Louisiana in 1702, way before the United States was even an idea.  Over the next century it came under both Great Britain’s and Spain’s rule before the US obtained it during the War of 1812.  By 1817 Mobile was officially part of the Alabama Territory.  Just imagine the richly diverse architecture of the city in 1817 after having been ruled by three world powers of the time, all three with vastly different styles.  I imagine it was one of the most gorgeous cities this country has ever seen around this time period.

Three major fires in the 1800s destroyed many of the city’s original buildings but didn’t stop the immense growth of our city.  Huge amounts of people were flocking to Mobile and the city had tripled in size by the 1950s.  This led to “urban renewal” in the 1960s and 70s which, unfortunately, destroyed the original character of lots of the remaining historic buildings.  Finally in the 1980s the Mobile Historic Commission was established and set out to regain and restore much of the cities rich architectural history as part of the String of Pearls Initiative.

Mobile’s historic homes mostly come from what we call the Antebellum Era or the time before the American Civil War.  Officially, the styles of historic homes in Mobile fall under the categories of Italiante, Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Federal, Queen Anne RevivalCreole Cottage and Gulf Coast Cottage.  Mobile has seven historic districts that are highly sought after by buyers.  Below I’ve listed these districts along with their architectural styles and a bit about their time period:

  1. Ashland Place Historic District: Mainly comprised of homes from the early 1900s in Victorian and Craftsmen styles.
  2. Church Street East Historic District: Containing both residential and commercial buildings, there are Federal, Greek Revival, Italiante and Renaissance Revival homes in this area, dating back to the time period between the 1820-1900.
  3. De Tonti Square Historic District: Mainly residential with majority Federal, Italiante and Greek Revival architecture styles built between the 1840s and 1860s.
  4. Leinkauf Historic District: These homes were built between the 1820s and early 1900s with architecture styles focused mainly on Victorian to Craftsmen.
  5. Lower Dauphin Historic District: Like Leinkauf, these homes range from the 1820s to the early 20thcentury with architectural styles rooted in Federal, Greek Revival, Italiante and other Victorian varieties. 
  6. Oakleigh Garden Historic District: Homes dating from the 1820s to 1940s and ranging from Greek Revival to Italianate to Queen Anne styles.
  7. Old Dauphin Way Historic District: Mobile’s largest historic district dates back from the mid-1800s to early 1900s.  It includes homes in the Queen Anne, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival and Craftsmen styles. 

Reading about the history of our beloved little city makes me so proud to be a part of it and I hope it does for you too! Mobile is so rich in architectural history it’s no wonder that people love to buy homes here.  You can view some of the homes that we have for sale in various historic districts here

When is the Best of Time Year to Sell Your Home?

1/28/2015

When homeowners decide to sell their house they want to get the most money as they possibly can for it.  It is their biggest investment and asset, after all!  Everyone knows that there is a lot of work and planning that goes into getting a house ready to put on the market, but few people know that getting the best sale price for a home can depend on when you sell it.  Don’t spend hundreds of dollars and multiple weeks getting a house ready to sell, and then miss out on the highest possible sale price because you’re uniformed. 

So, the question remains, when is the best time of the year to put your house on the market?  Years of market trend observation and research tell us that the majority of home sales in the US occur between the months of April and July.  A closed deal in April means that you should start preparing to sell your house right around…now.  With the time it takes to go from deciding to sell to closing the deal, homeowners who are considering selling should stop considering and start preparing.  Below are some of the major reasons why the most houses sell between April and July and why sellers should be preparing for a spring-time deal.

It’s warm outside. 

Obvious, I know.  But the fact of the matter is that people are more likely to seriously house hunt when the weather is nice.  We don’t like to go to the grocery store when it’s cold let alone tromp from home to home, going in and out of the freezing cold.  Prospective buyers will be more inclined to take more time at each house and really appreciate the details about it that you love too.

Everything looks better in the Spring

Picture the front of your house in the winter.  It’s surrounded by dead, brown grass, trees without leaves and a grey, uninviting sky. None of your neighbors are out and your rose bushes are covered in trash bags.  Now picture your house in the Spring.  Your grass is green and vibrant just like your trees and shrubs.  Flowers are blooming, the sky is bright blue, the Sun is shining, and the neighborhood kids are outside playing, their shrieks of delight echoing up and down the street.  Even the prospective buyer who has the greatest ability to look past things like the barren landscape of Winter is going to feel more invited and swayed by a home that lively and colorful.

Kids end school in April or May and start school in August or September.

The majority of homeowners are families with children.  Whenever a family has to move, often their number one priority is making the transition as easy as possible for the children.  Allowing them to finish at their old school, move into a house over early summer and get settled with their new surroundings is ideal to parents.  This means they will be looking to buy sometime in April through July.

Budgets have recovered from the holidays. 

Almost all of us are guilty of racking up some credit card debt during the holidays.  With the financial tensions associated with buying gifts, traveling and hosting parties, the worst time of year to sell a house is in December.  By the time that April rolls around, most people have recovered financially from the holidays—they’ve paid off their debts and replenished their savings accounts.

Tax Refunds have come.

Most people, or at least those in a solid enough financial situation to buy a home, have just gotten their tax refunds.  An extra thousand dollars or so could be the cap to a buyer’s savings account for a down payment or just the emotional security blanket they need to make the decision to start looking to buy.

With all things considered, it makes sense that most house sales in the US are recorded between April and July.  With an abundance of buyers looking for homes during these months, you can list your house at it's best price and potentially sell it for more with multiple interested buyers.  Don't miss out on the season of selling and as always, we are here for you if you need any advice or help.

Happy selling,

The Lydia Craft Team

Tips for Sprucing Up Your Home in 2015!

12/31/2014

Houses are like wardrobes…if you leave them alone for too long they start going unnoticed or, worse yet, over-noticed. Imagine if you never changed an item in your wardrobe since 1989. You’d still be wearing swishy sweatpants, scrunchies and legwarmers while people talked about you behind your back at the grocery store. Now imagine if you walked into a house that hadn’t been updated since 1989. You might see conference-like dining room tables made of glass, entire floors covered in mauve paint with furniture to match and a lot of wallpaper borders around the top of every room. The point I’m making here is that your house is probably your biggest asset and it’s important to keep it up-to-date. Here are some easy things you can do to keep your house from looking like this:

Picture courtesy of the Huffington Post

PAINT

Painting is so simple and it can easily take a room from drab to fresh in a weekend. If you can afford it, hiring someone to paint will save you time and effort. If you can’t afford it, carve out a weekend and get to it yourself. Painting has the ability to not only bring a room in to style, but can also make it look cleaner, especially if it’s been awhile since it's last paint job. Don’t know what color to choose? If you’re looking to sell soon always choose neutrals. If you’re not, paint it whatever color your heart desires! If you need a place to start on your color selection check out Pantone’s Color List for 2015. Every year Pantone puts out the colors of the year and these colors influence everything from couture designers to custom home builders. If you choose a neutral from this palette you will ensure that your home will be on trend this year as well as appealing to potential buyers in years to come. No matter what color you choose, have fun with it!

CURB APPEAL

Curb appeal is akin to a first impression. Those first few seconds that a person lays eyes on the outside of your home has an immense effect on how they view the house as a whole. It doesn’t matter if you have three 24 karat gold toilets inside of the house, if the outside has chipped wood siding and a dying pine tree blocking the living room window they are going to always have a negative impression about your house. It is important to be proud of where you live. Even if you aren’t selling you should come home from work every evening to a house that you enjoying looking at. If you are thinking about selling, having good curb appeal is important for a variety of reasons. The first is obviously the first impression a potential buyer is going to get. They may think the inside of it is absolutely perfect but when they go to consider buying the home the first thing they are going to say is “it needs a lot of exterior work.” That may mean concessions in price on your end or possibly even no deal at all! Secondly, living on a street where every house is well maintained raises the value of the entire street. Which then spreads to the next street and the next street until you’re living in a highly sought after neighborhood.  When you go to reevaluate your landscaping plan keep your own tastes in mind. You don’t have to plant 30 hostas if you just can’t stand looking at hostas. Make sure your grass is cut and green. Accent corners of your home with well-maintained bushes. If you like flowers, plant them! If you don’t, there are a variety of plants that require little maintenance and will add dimension to your lawn.

DECLUTTER

  No one likes to walk into a house that looks like a hoarder has been living in it for five years—not even other hoarders. By getting rid of unnecessary things it will make your rooms look bigger as well as more modern. You don’t need 50 seashells on your fireplace mantle and you don’t need that fern your mother-in-law gave you as a belated birthday gift eight years ago hanging from the corner of your dining room. It’s creeping your dinner guests out. Not only is it important to get rid of excessive home décor items, it is important to get rid of YOUR stuff that isn’t being used as well. It’s much easier to maintain a clean house when clothes aren’t shoved into drawers and shoes aren’t spilling out of your closet. For sellers, this is especially important because buyers want to be able to visualize that their stuff will fit into your space. If it’s cluttered, they won’t be able to form that mental picture. Go to Home Depot and buy shelves to add to your closet, buy baskets to organize your things and most importantly, get rid of it if you don’t use it!

UPDATE YOUR ACCENTS

Even the home owner with the best taste needs to do this every once in a while. Having drabby, shabby and outdated throw pillows is uninviting and unnecessarily ages the home. Those pillows aren’t structurally part of your house so why are you letting them make your house look old? The same goes for rugs that have been overused, throws that are pilling, candles that are burned out and home accessories that are just outright dated. Places like Target, Pier1 Imports, Marshalls, Homegoods and TJ Maxx all carry home décor items that are up-to-date and affordable. Switch out your stuff for some fresh items that go with the new paint you just slathered all over the walls. Another nice touch is to switch out accessories as the seasons change. I don’t mean put your off-white couch in storage because winter came. I mean switch out your year-round throw pillows for some orange and brown varieties during fall to usher in the season. Change your bowl of decorative grass balls for some pine cones and put out some candles that smell like Fall. This shows guests and potential buyers that you not only maintain a house, you care for a home. Buyers are more comfortable if they feel like they making an investment into something that has been well cared for.

As we begin 2015, I hope everyone is not only loving their house but enjoying their home! Here’s to a great new year,

The Lydia Craft Team

 

5 Tips For Keeping Your Home Secure This Holiday Season

11/23/2014

The holidays are rapidly approaching and with that comes the opportunity to spend time with our families.  Often times we find ourselves traveling over Thanksgiving, Christmas or both holidays to see family in various parts of the country.  While this is such a fun and exciting time for everyone, it can be anxiety-inducing to leave your home and possessions alone for extended periods of time.  Here are five tips to help keep your house secure while you’re away for the holidays!

Check your doors, windows and locks

Take a few hours this weekend and do a sweep of all of the doors, windows and locks in your home.  Here are some things to look for:

Are the locks themselves functioning properly?  Burglars will be more likely to move on to the next house if they encounter difficulty entering your home. 

When the doors and windows are closed do they seal completely?  You can tell this by looking for any daylight coming in through the perimeter of the frame or feeling a draft from the outside coming in.  If you notice either of these things, it may be time to replace the insulation on your doors and windows.  If your home is older, it may be worth looking into updating the windows all together.  Not only will this be beneficial to the security of your house, but it will help keep heating costs down as the winter sets in.  New, energy efficient windows also increase the value of a home so you can look at it as in investment towards your biggest asset.

Do you have a deadbolt on doors that lead to the outside?  Having a deadbolt on your doors will significantly reduce the instance of burglary as it is very difficult to break into one.  Doors that only have in-handle locks are extremely easy for criminals to get into.  If your house has a sliding door, make sure to place a wooden dowel between the closed door and the other end of the frame.  This will make it nearly impossible for a thief to enter through this door.

Timed lighting

In this day and age it’s become so easy to install timed lighting on your fixtures that there is no excuse not to do it!  For those of us who aren’t so tech savvy, head to your local Lowes or Home Depot and take a look at their programmable lighting options.  You can choose something as simple as a plug in fixture for a few lamps or programmable outlets that will control a whole room.  You can see more details on those options here.  If you’re more advanced in the technology department, there are a variety of options that can be controlled from your smart phone while you’re away.  You can control anything from garage doors to coffeemakers to lights to sprinkler systems—all from the palm of your hand.  Check out this blog for more information on different systems you can buy.

No matter what kind of timed lighting you choose, make sure that the lights are going on and off at hours that they normally would be.  Also make sure to have your shades and curtains drawn as you normally would.  Criminals pick up on things like dark houses with closed shades.  Keep your house looking normal and they will be more likely to move to the next!

Let Your Neighbors Help

If you know and trust your neighbors, tell them the dates that you will be leaving so they can be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.  Ask if they can collect your packages for you while you’re gone so they don’t pile up and give away the fact that you’re on vacation.  And lastly, offer to do the same for them when they are away!  Neighbors who help each other in terms of keeping an eye on their street are less likely to experience any kind of crime in their area.

Get a Safe

When you leave on vacation for a week or even two, you’re not going to take every valuable piece of jewelry or important document that you own along.  Buy a safe to store those valuables that aren’t coming on the trip.  This could include jewelry, valuable art or china, high-priced electronics and important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, car titles, etc.  In the event that something does happen, your most precious items will be safe.

Get A Security System

If you can afford it, having a security system will give you the greatest peace of mind possible while you are away.  Knowing that an emergency responder will be called in the event that someone tries to break into your home will have you resting easy on vacation.  Security systems come in a variety of packages varying from basic entry alarms to high-level moving motion detectors.  They range greatly in price and most people are surprised at their affordability.  Even if you think you can’t afford one, take a look at the options so you’re not missing out on the peace of mind that comes along with having a home security system.  Check out an overview on different options here.

Securing your house for the holidays not only means enjoying your time away, it means making updates to your home that increase the value.  Having these mechanisms in place are a big plus to potential buyers in the event that you ever want to move.  As the homeowner, you’re benefiting twofold-peace of mind and value!

Happy holidays from The Lydia Craft team to you and yours!

Appropriate room staging

10/10/2013

Remember to try and stage rooms as they were intended to be used.  Today I showed a house with a bedroom that was used as an office.  My buyer said "Well I guess you could use this as a bedroom".  I thought that was very evident but not everyone has vision.  So make it easy on the propspective buyers and put furniture where it belongs.

2013 Housing Predictions

2/7/2013
Here is a link to a youtube video from Dave Liniger, the founder of RE/MAX, and his housing predictions for 2013.http://blog.al.com/live/2011/01/matt_walker_sentenced_to_three.html. 

Guanacaste Costa Rica

12/28/2012
In Decmeber, earlier this month, I visited Costa Rica for the second time and I LOVE IT.  This trip I went to the Guanacaste Region which is the Northwest part south of Nicaragua and on the Pacific.  The area I stayed was on the Papagayo Golf (Gulf) in the small villages of Coco, Hermosa, and Playa Panama.  The tourist gurus are calling this the new Hawaii and I can see why, it is beautiful.  The locals, Ticos, are a very friendly, kind, unobtrusive, and proud people.  They may not have McMansions like we do in the US but their front yards are swept everyday and their public bathrooms and extremely clean.  Here is the link to the map for this Region of Costa Rica:  http://goo.gl/maps/qvtqa

learning to market with videos

5/10/2012
I am teaching myself to market using videos on my website www.lydiacraft.com and www.youtube.com and through emails.  I know these are awfully amaetur by I think it is more realistic.  I would love to have some feedback although knowing me I will keep using them for the time being.
I am planning on making videos of highlights of Mobile, AL and include them on my listings and the other one is to market my customers that come from by lead generating website.  We'll see.

<iframe width="640" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lts0vLgOXvY?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

<iframe width="640" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6JpkFiTWbsM?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I need to figure out to make a smaller link or how to make them open up immediately.  Any ideas just let me know.

Improving Market

4/2/2012
According to USA Today, the market went up 9% alone in February."This spring will be the litmus test for housing demand," says Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist for Mizuho Securities USA. The spring season typically runs March through June but may have started early this year because of unseasonably warm weather. Economist are saying that the spring season will be the best this year than it has the past 4-5 years.




http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/story/2012-04-01/spring-home-buying/53935318/1

Money Ball

1/31/2012
I just watched movie "Money Ball" with Brad Pitt and there was a great scene in there.  The owner of the Boston Red Sox said the first person to make changes is the first person to hit the wall, always.  It makes other people feel like they are going to lose the reins, their job, their position, their whole way of thinking would have to change and that makes them go (**%^%^)).
I am going to play that scene (end of 15th chapter) for my agents next week at RE/MAX Partners' sales meeting and remind them to be the one that hits the wall, the one that gets the broken nose because if we stay the same well, we stay the same.


Page:  of 000  |    
Google+