September 1, 2014
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From the Editor

What We Really Want from Our Homes

In this home and design issue, you can marvel at the creative feel of three architects’ homes (see p. 88) … at the stunning beauty of three innovative pools (see p. 94) … at home furnishings with some panache (see p. 104). Along with all this, I wondered what it takes to put the people in these kinds of settings, what they want most and least in buying and decorating a house. So I went to professionals who put them there—their friendly Realtors. Eben Moran (Prudential Florida Realty), Michele Harrison (John R. Wood, REALTORS) and Mary Waller (Old Naples Realty) laid out some clear particulars for me—along with a few of the quirkier requests from their clients.

Eben Moran: ‘It’s Less the House and More Where They’re Buying’

Eben says it’s all about the lifestyle and amenities: “People will go for a condo or villa just to be in a certain community.” They’re looking, he says, for updated kitchens and bathrooms. The granite countertops in the kitchens, the nice vanities in the bathrooms. There’s a move away from carpet to tile and hardwood floors throughout. Interestingly, Eben notes, people who had downsized in recent years are now upsizing to accommodate visiting members of their growing families. And he sees more construction now and people willing to buy in communities like Treviso Bay and Lely—a little farther from central Naples—to hit their price points.

Memorable clients? The man from Canada who saw a listing and flew down overnight against Eben’s advice. “He didn’t end up buying that house,” Eben recalls. “The next time, I showed him a video of a home I recommended and he bought it without ever seeing it first. Thank goodness, he loved it.” Eben also remembers the man who made four trips to a home in a single day to check the angle of the sun on the pool. It had to do with his not wanting to have to heat the pool in the winter.

Michele Harrison: Loving Less Formal Gathering Rooms

Michele, too, says buyers first want the right location and great views. “They’ll overlook flaws in the house if they’re in the area of their choice,” she says. People talk about formal dining, living and family rooms, but really prefer to gather in kitchens, great rooms and outdoor living areas. “They imagine the flow of activity from inside to outside and they tell me, ‘My friends and family will love this.’” People want nice radiant showers and spa fixtures in the master bath, and Michele reports that tubs are not being used. The office or study is not so important anymore, as the new electronic devices allow you to do your work from anywhere in the home. And many people now use the smart home features where you can set the alarm while driving away; turn lights on and off ; and, with a pre-wired video camera, see your home from, say New York City, and change the temperature of the house, if you wish.

Mary Waller: Going for Neighborhoods and Lifestyles

It’s unanimous with our Realtors. As Mary says, “The lifestyle comes before the house. The young families with kids are looking for places where the schools are good. Other folks want to be able to walk to the beach or have their golf course right at hand.” Mary has conducted some interesting searches for her clients. One fellow from Maryland had a two-story home there and wanted the same thing here. There aren’t too many in Southwest Florida, but this man was determined. “A number of the possibilities were in South Fort Myers,” Mary says. “This gentleman had to be at work at 7 a.m. in downtown Naples, but twice a week for two months we drove up there first to check out every one of them—plus both days on the weekend. He didn’t care about the age and condition of the house. He just wanted the two stories. In the end, we found a very nice one in Naples in Tall Pines.” Another client, from France, seemed to know just two words in English—“Gulf access”—and that was his request. “We looked and looked,” says Mary, “but there was nothing in his price range. It turns out all he really wanted was privacy. I showed him a place in Old Lely on the golf course; he walked in and it was all over. He had his privacy.” He built a sundeck so he could sunbathe in the nude and forgot all about Gulf access.

Ah, home, sweet home. It’s so many different things for so many people. Bless us all … and may the living be truly sweet.

 

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