Archive for September, 2012

Renovation project to begin at Oklahoma City’s Penn Square Mall in spring

An artist’s rendering shows how Penn Square Mall’s entrances will look after the remodel is complete. Photo provided

Penn Square Mall is about to get a new look.

The Oklahoma City shopping mall will be remodeled, mall management announced Thursday. Planned projects include redesigning the mall entrances, upgrading the food court and renovating restrooms.

New retailers will be announced during the project, which is expected to be complete in the spring.

The food court overhaul includes an expansion to include healthier food options and local flavor, plus new floors, tables and chairs.

Officials say work will be done in a way that minimizes customer inconvenience during operating hours.

Jeff Dozier, general manager of Penn Square Mall, said the remodel represents a complete transformation to better serve the needs of customers and visitors.

Penn Square Mall, owned by Simon Property Group, marked its 52nd anniversary this year. The last time it was remodeled was in 2000.

Mis Gaston, a mall spokeswoman, said she couldn’t release the cost of the upcoming project but that it represents “a significant investment” in the property.

CREATE Architecture Planning and Design in New York has been chosen to oversee the project and construction will be performed by Pepper Construction Group of Chicago.

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5 To Do’s When You and Your Mate Want Different Things in a Home

Early on in my real estate career, I noticed a recurring anthropological event among house hunting couples. They would come into my office and sit down to tell me about what they were looking for in their next home. In about 75 percent of cases where one of them had expressed an interest in a fixer-upper, as soon as the wanna-be-weekend-handyperson excused him or herself to go to the bathroom, their significant other would pull me aside. Then, eyes desperately darting around in a sort of optical Morse code, sweat beads dropping from their brow, they would initiate what I came to call “The Restroom Conversation,” which always went something like this:
“Please help me. I do not want a fixer. My husband/wife/significant other will never do the work. I don’t want to live in an expensive hovel.  SOS!”

The life-changing impact and bank-depleting dollar amount of a home purchase transaction renders it fertile ground for relationship discord. That said, if both sides proceed consciously and with the intention of peaceful resolution, there are strategies that can help make sure the deal closes without destroying the relationship – and without one side being disgruntled that their needs are not being met.

Here are my five techniques for resolving differences of opinion with your loved one when you’re buying a home together:

1. Get everything out in the open. Surely by now you’ve heard the saying about what closed mouths don’t get: fed. You’d be surprised at how many ‘restroom conversations’ culminated in an open conversation in which the fixer-averse member of the couple confessed to their mate that they didn’t share their Bob Vila fantasies for the very first time!

In this way (and many other ways, for that matter), real estate matters can reflect the deeper dynamics of the relationship. People who hate confrontation in the rest of their relationship tend to avoid vocalizing their disagreement with their partner’s real estate opinions, too.  This, in turn, can lead to one person owning and paying for a property they simply dislike, or otherwise failing to have their real estate needs met. Over years of home ownership, this can fester and snowball into a relationship-ruining avalanche of resentment and rage.

If you have a strong disagreement with some of your S.O.’s real estate priorities, make sure you voice them – respectfully, of course. (See #5, below.)  Biting your tongue can be both painful and costly, in the context of a home buying transaction.

2. Prioritize your conflicting wants and needs. Couples with a strong track record of reaching compromises and problem resolution may do this naturally, while newlyweds and other couples who tend to lock horns more frequently will find this to be a new approach. I recommend that each individual buyer sit down and write out their Vision of Home – what they want their lives to look like on a daily basis once they’re in the home they’re about to buy. Who all will live with you? What do you do in your spare time – scrapbooking or yoga or yard work or loafing – and where in or around the house do you do it?  Do you spend your weekends at the home improvement store or hosting brunches?

From there, each person should begin to drill down into how their vision translates into a property. This is the time to get into the nuts-and-bolts stuff: how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want or need?  Where will this home be located?  Are you wanting a townhome with a zero-maintenance exterior or a sprawling rancher on a few acres?

Once each individual is clear on their wants and needs, the members of the home buying couple should meet up, sit down and review, surfacing where your wants and needs align seamlessly, and also surfacing any disconnects or diverging priorities.

Then, take some areas of disagreement and prioritize them:

  • Is your desire for a townhouse a deal-breaker, or could you make do so long as the landscaping of a standalone home is low-maintenance or your spouse agrees to handle it?
  • Is your mate’s dream of investing sweat equity into a major fixer a must-have, or are they open to seeing other options?

I find it helpful to categorize areas of disagreement in terms of must-haves, would-likes, dislikes and deal-killers. You might find that what seems like the makings of a major dispute ends up being resolved pretty easily once you get clear on how important each of the sticking points is (or isn’t, as the case may be).

3. Bring your agent into the mix.  First, let me be clear: it is not an agent’s job to provide free therapy!  I’m not suggesting that you look to your broker or agent to resolve your relationship differences (though many have extensive experience doing just that, in a home buying context). However, agents know more about the subject matter of your disagreement – homes – than either you or your mate, and an experienced agent might even have worked with other couples through the precise issue or stalemate you’re facing, in the past.

Letting your agent in on the disagreement and seeking their input can be a powerful step in the right direction of resolving an impasse:

  • First off, your agent might know of properties or property types that can resolve your disagreement with little or no further negotiation. They might be able to instantly see some compromises or solutions that you would have no way to even think of!
  • Second, your agent might immediately spot how one or both of your impasse-creating needs are infeasible in any event. For example, if you want water views and your spouse wants to live downtown, your agent might know for a fact that neither of these is feasible on your budget!

Agents are great at helping resolve differing house hunt wants and needs by reality-checking both partners with the truths of the market, including surfacing property-based solutions that hold the potential to make both sides happy.

4. View properties that meet either side’s wishes, as well as compromise homes.  You’d be surprised how what we *think* we want in a home, in the abstract, changes up once we’re actually viewing real-life properties in the flesh (or, more accurately, in the brick, mortar and stucco). Buyers with a die-hard commitment to fixing up a property have been known to shift their stance when they actually see the fixers in their area (which may not be discounted as heavily as they expected), or when they see a beautiful, move-in ready property in their price range.

And the reverse is also true: I’ve seen numerous buyers who wanted to do little or no work to their next home become willing to take some work on upon viewing a cosmetically-challenged but otherwise perfect property in the perfect neighborhood – at the perfect price.

My advice to buyers who find themselves at a stalemate with their mate is to split your first couple of showings with an agent roughly equally between homes that:

(a) meet one or the other spouse’s deal-making or -breaking priorities

(b) reflect your best efforts to compromise with the other, and

(c) reflect your agent’s opinion of the sort of property that will support the most prominent features of the lifestyle(s) you each envisioned, whether or not it’s precisely what either of you has described.

This way, you have the best shot at allowing the reality of the homes on your market in your price range resolve the impasse for you, without further fuss or additional ado.

5. Don’t start or engage in power struggles.  Wanna know what happens when people think their needs or concerns are being dismissed, disrespected or minimized?  They get entrenched and oppositional, and power struggles ensue.  In a power struggle, the facts of the situation – the substantive disconnect between two people’s home buying wish lists – becomes completely secondary to the so-called “principle of the thing.”

Once that happens, there’s almost no solution, no compromise, or give-and-take that will satisfy the person who feels their needs are being overlooked. They might agree, begrudgingly, to a property, but express their martyrdom and resentment for years to come. Or they might flat out dig in their heels, being passively or aggressively obstructive to the home buying process by not bringing in documents as needed, making a unilateral purchase on credit or otherwise sabotaging the deal, albeit unwittingly. This is not necessarily intentional game-playing, either; most people who are engaged in power struggles can’t see it while they’re in them.  Only after cooling off, and only in retrospect, can they see the overarching relationship dynamics that got in the way of smart, proactive real estate decisions.

Accordingly, it’s essential that if you and your mate disagree on one or more major points of your house hunting criteria list, you each treat the other’s position respectfully.  Exercise class active listening techniques, like repeating back in your own words what the other person is expressing, so that they see you are paying them the respect of listening, and asking questions to more fully understand why they have the priorities and concerns they do.

At all costs, avoid teasing or ridiculing your mate or their wish list, no matter how frivolous some items on it may seem to you.  Instead, focus on the priorities that you do share, and engage in calm conversations devoted to determining what tradeoffs each of you is willing to make in order to achieve your common goal: a home that works for you both, for your family and for your finances, for the long haul.

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The Outdoor Shower: Frivolity or Practical?

After spending a week in the Caribbean, St. Martin’s to be exact, we enjoyed the “one with nature” feeling of spending all of our time outdoors.  When we first arrived at the villa we leased, we were amazed at the gorgeous bathrooms that were ensuite to the bedrooms. Ironically, they were barely used the entire time we were there.  It was such a treat to go for a swim and then rinse off in the outdoor shower completely private to each suite.
Before this week, I always saw outdoor showers as an area to rinse off chlorine from the pool or sand from the beach. Now, I see it as a wonderful, spa-like feature to add your outdoor space… if you have privacy.
Here is a photo of the gorgeous space we enjoyed as our outdoor bath while in the Caribbean.  Also a link to and their posts on Outdoor Showers.
For me, it is both practical and frivolous, which is a glorious combination.




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Annual AIDS Walk in Oklahoma City on Sunday

The AIDS Walk is an annual event held in different states throughout the country each year to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and help AIDS patients and organizations through fundraising efforts.  In Oklahoma City, this year’s annual AIDS Walk will be held on Sunday, September 23.

The AIDS Walk of Oklahoma City is a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 with a mission of creating awareness about HIV/AIDS. The organization provides health services to AIDS patients as well as education on how to prevent HIV/AIDS. They also implement ways to further promote community awareness and advocate on behalf of these communities within the greater Oklahoma City area.

The AIDS Walk will start at 2:00 in the afternoon, and this year’s theme is “Each Step Brings Hope.” It will be a one-mile walk around downtown Oklahoma City starting at the Myriad Gardens. The walk will be free and open to the public.  Aside from the walk, there will also be a run, which will begin at 9:00 in the morning.

There will also be a doggie fashion show, which will start at 1:00 in the afternoon. Registration for the Pooch Parade is $5.00, and dogs will need to be in costume and on a leash.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors




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Design Tricks to Make Your Small House Appear Bigger

Small houses can be tricky when it comes to incorporating all of your furniture and appliances, yet still feeling a sense of spaciousness. And, if your family continue to grows, it can begin to feel a bit suffocating when you are at home.  However, there are ways to make small houses feel bigger, so you are able to enjoy the lower maintenance of a smaller house while still feeling like you have room to breathe.

There are several design tricks that can help make your house appear bigger:

  • Let the outside view in. If you have a small garden outside, consider it part of your house. This does not mean extending your house to meet your garden, but rather connecting to it visually by adding more windows or glass walls or doors to allow more natural lighting in your home and make your walls feel less confining.
  • Avoid closed doors. That includes cabinets and shelves inside the house. For cabinets that hold dishware, for example, try removing the doors or using glass doors instead. The added visual space will open up the area. In addition, try to avoid putting so many doors inside the house. As much as possible, minimize doors to your bedrooms and bathrooms and allow the rest of the house to flow.
  • Create small dividers. One of the reasons why smaller houses have smaller spaces is because of the wall dividers in every room. These take up precious space and give a feeling of confinement when you are in a room. Eliminate non-supporting walls if you can in order to open up your living room and dining room, for example.  If you need a divider, use things like open display shelves instead.
  • Let the light in. Give natural light a place in your house. Not only will it brighten the room and make it feel more airy, but it will also help you save money on your bills because you don’t have to use your lights as much.
  • Make use of your roof. If you have a flat roof, try using it as a porch or rooftop garden, where you can relax and enjoy the view of your neighborhood.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors




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Landscaping your Garden Without Breaking the Bank


Landscaping your outdoor areas is a very involved process, and although you may be adding curb appeal, you should also be prepared for additions to your ongoing home expenses. Beautifying your yard beyond basic care requires adding flower beds, trees, and pathways, which are not only costly up front, but also require ongoing maintenance

Thankfully, there are some ways you can reduce the overall cost of landscaping:

  • Use what already exists in your property. If you have trees and a few plants growing in your yard, make use of those plants instead of buying new ones. You can replant them to help them thrive and grow in number, which will allow you to easily fill your yard without having to spend on a lot of money.
  • Do the job yourself. Sure, it can be difficult and time consuming, but hiring a pro to create and maintain your landscaping for you costs a pretty penny. If you’re happy with a basic design versus something extravagant, then try to do the job yourself.  You can even ask friends or family to help you, which will alleviate some of the work and make it more fun.
  • Know the best time to shop. Buying trees and plants for your new garden can be quite expensive. But, there are certain times during the year when plants and trees are sold at a discount, usually when retailers are trying to get rid of them. So, if you aren’t in a hurry to fill up your yard, try to wait for sales to occur to you can maximize your budget.
  • Ask your neighborhood for free plants. There are certain communities that promote high standards for landscaping, and they often give away free plants and trees. If your community has a neighborhood association, ask them if they offer anything like that.
  • Borrow tools. Although it is a good idea to invest in quality tools you know you’ll be using frequently, if there are certain tools you only need once or infrequently, borrow them from a neighbor or rent them from a hardware store.  It will save you a huge amount of money, especially on the bigger tools.
  • Be organic. Stop constantly purchasing and using chemicals and pesticides on your plants. Instead, use mulch to rid of weeds in your garden and begin composting instead of buying fertilizer.

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Sales Tax Revenue in Edmond Increases

During the past two months, more sales tax revenue has been collected than what officials were expecting.  Edmond City officials said that the increase was due to the increase of purchases in roofing materials and the opening of two new grocery stores in the city.

Sales taxes collected were already approved by voters as was the allocation of these funds. An 8.25 percent tax is added to all purchases made within the city. Out of this 8.25 percent, 4.5 percent goes to the state and 3.75 percent goes to the city. Voters allocate 2 percent of the city’s sales tax percentage to a general fund and 0.5 percent to the construction of the public safety center. The remainder is then allotted to capital improvements and salaries for firefighters and the police department.

Sales tax revenue saw a significant increase during the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August. It was 18.98 percent higher than what was collected the same month last year.  Already, $15.4 million in sales tax has been collected this year, which is $4.3 million more than what officials are expecting.  The notable increase is said to be a result of the purchases of materials for roof repairs caused by a recent hailstorm.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors




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Signs Your Roof Needs Repair

The roof is one of the most important parts of your home because it offers protection from the weather and outdoor conditions.  By properly caring for and maintaining your roof, you can do your part to ensure it remains in excellent condition.  However, there are sometimes influences outside of your control that can cause harm to your roof, which is why it is important to check it regularly for possible damage and then make repairs immediately.

Below are some of the signs that your roof needs repair:

Leaky Attic – Is your attic leaking? If so, then there is undoubtedly something wrong with your roof. A leaky attic means that parts of your roof are no longer functioning and allowing rainwater to easily seep through your house.

Missing Shingles – Storms and extreme weather can cause your shingles to be blown away or chip off. If that is the case, then expect penetration of water into your roof and eventually a leaky ceiling.

Mold on the Roof – Seeing mold anywhere is unpleasant, but when it’s on your roof, it can pose a risk in addition to being unsightly.  The best thing you can do is remove the affected area and replace it with new materials. The last thing you want is mold to spread and cause deterioration to other areas.

Rotting Wood – Are the woods in your roof already rotting? If so, then it is a sure sign that your roof needs repair. Water damage and too much moisture cause wood to rot. So, aside from replacing your wood, check also the possible cause of rotting to your wood.

Damaged Materials – One sure sign that your roof needs repair is if the materials are damaged. If you spot any damage, check the cause of the problem and have it repaired immediately.  Being proactive is important because, if left unattended, the damage will only escalate and become worse.  Address the issue while it is still small and inexpensive.

Water Spots on Your Ceiling – If you see water spots on your ceiling, that means your roof is leaking. Check your attic for leaky spots and repair those first before you repair your ceiling.  You want to be sure the problem is fixed before you spend money refinishing the interior of your home.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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Maximizing Your Kitchen Remodeling Project

Working in a kitchen that is inefficient due to limited space or poor layout can be very frustrating.  It can be difficult on a daily basis, but it becomes even more challenging when you are entertaining guests.  When you find yourself in that situation, it is time to consider remodeling your kitchen to make it more efficient and suitable to your needs.

As straightforward as it may sound, kitchen remodeling can be very difficult and costly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Many homeowners find themselves doubling their expenses when they have to buy more materials to compensate for errors occurring or when they hire contractors who are not as efficient as they need to be. Kitchen remodeling projects are often the most expensive projects you will face.

There are several phases of a kitchen remodel. First, you need to hire a contractor to do the job. At this point, homeowners are already at risk of generating more expenses than they expected. Not all contractors come at a bargain price, which is why it is important to meet with several of them before you make a decision.  That will give you an idea of what a realistic price is and who you believe will give you the best quality for that price.

Finding the best contractor will also positively influence the work outcome of your laborers, which will, in turn, provide you with higher quality in less time….and often less money.  Treating your workers well will also encourage them to work their best. Always treat them with respect and always keep in mind that they are people too. Show them that you appreciate what they are doing for you and offer signs of gratitude from time to time, like refreshments in the afternoon. Also remember to give them the time and decision-making ability to work on their own. You want them to create what you have envisioned, but when it comes to the technical work, let them be.

Planning is an important way to stay on track, and it also helps you work smoothly with your contractor. The best way to maximize your planning time is to finalize what you really want and provide your contractor with those details. It is important that they know what you want, down to the smallest details, so they can work quickly and smoothly with the clear understanding of what you want.

Once you finalize your plans, you will be able to budget properly.  Allot a flexible budget for your remodeling project to give allowances for possible problems along the way. However, always stick to your budget range, so you will not end up spending more than you can afford. In addition, don’t skimp on the materials of your kitchen remodel. Seek suggestions from your contractor, as he or she probably already knows which options are the most practical and cost-efficient.

Keep in mind that what you want to do is cut costs without skimping on important factors like multi-functionality and cost-efficiency. Consider recycling old kitchen materials when possible, so you stay in line with your budget.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors




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New Bridge on Bryant Avenue, Edmond Set for Construction Next Week

More traffic can be expected starting next week along Bryant Avenue in Edmond when construction for a new bridge box set begins. Only one lane of the road will be open in each direction, and city officials  are asking residents to change their routes if possible in order to avoid congesting the area.

The Bryant Bridge is part of the 1996 sales tax money projects that voters approved for capital improvements.  A budget of $1.48 million has been allotted for the entire project.

One of the reasons for constructing the Bryant Bridge is due to the frequent flooding within the area due to poor drainage systems.

The construction of the new bridge is set to start on September 17 north of 15th Street. The project is expected to take six months to complete.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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