To help put your home in a superior position over the other homes on the block, here are some tips to follow to stand out from the crowd.
Everybody needs their own space from time to time. For men, the “man cave” has long been a place to retreat to when a little time with the boys is on the agenda. But man caves don’t have to be dungeon-like when it comes to their design and ambiance. Today’s man cave is much more sophisticated and stylish, not to mention a lot more convenient.
Here are the latest trends in man caves that will rival other rooms in the house.
Think of all the noise that can be potentially made in a man cave: the deep bass from the stereo blasted on full volume, the roaring sound from the in-home theater, or the fellows hooting and hollering as they’re playing a round of pool or enjoying the football game.
Whatever the source of the noise, the rest of the home doesn’t have to hear a peep thanks to the soundproofed walls that are becoming more customary with man caves. Men can make as much noise as they want without having to worry about bothering the rest of the family.
This one might sound like a no-brainer considering how much technology has taken over virtually every aspect of our lives. That said, technology is a mainstay with man caves, powering up and operating just about every component of the space.
The surround sound system, media devices, appliances, gaming console, lighting, temperature, and just about anything else that’s connected to the electrical panel can be controlled by the touch of a button on your smartphone or another hand-held device.
Refrigerators are a given in man caves; after all, where else will the beer be kept cold and ready when the boys arrive? But today’s man cave calls for a lot more than just a bar fridge: today, you’ll be seeing more and more full kitchens taking over these male-dominated spaces.
Joining the fridge will be a dishwasher, microwave, counter space, cabinets, and maybe even an oven and stove top. If there’s access to the backyard from the man cave, a BBQ right outside the door is also called for.
Plenty of Light
When you think of a man cave, you probably conjure up images of a dark and sometimes gloomy atmosphere. But today’s modern man cave welcomes a lot more light.
Designers are outfitting these space around feature windows and different types of light fixtures to create a brighter area. From pot lights, to pendat lamps, to wall sconces and beyond, ample lighting is in high demand for today’s man cave.
Who says man caves should only be decorated in sports memorabilia? The sophisticated man cave of today is all decked out in stylish and often glamorous accessories, such as wall art, glass and metal sculptures, luxurious window treatments, and rich upholstery.
Man caves aren’t always the first room that homeowners typically hire interior designers for, but they’re becoming increasingly focused on as far as upping the style factor is concerned.
If there’s no room in the house that can be dedicated to a man cave, you might want to turn to some closet space. When it comes to the modern man cave, sometimes size doesn’t really count.
While this might sound absurd, consider the Carrie Bradshaw closets that women have been swooning over since Sex and the City first took the world of television by storm. If women can hang out in their opulent walk-in closets, there’s no reason why men can’t have their own version of the same thing.
When the space indoors is completely maxed out, there’s always the outdoors to consider when it comes to building a man cave. One of the rising trends for this type of space is what’s been affectionately dubbed the “bar shed,” which is pretty much what it sounds like – a shed that’s been converted (or built from the ground up) into a bar.
Simply add a bar area, stock it with your favorite spirits and beer, outfit it with a few comfy bar stools, install a wall-mounted TV and some lighting, and voilà: a bar shed that the boys will love to hang out in.
The Bottom Line
Today’s man cave needs a lot more than just a randomly-placed sofa and TV. These days, man caves are much more design-focused. By implementing any one of the above trends, you might just entice other occupants of the home to want to hang out there too!
From our company Chief Economist, Selma Hepp
- Recent financial-market hype around cryptocurrencies is partly driven by the value of promising innovations stemming from blockchain technology, not necessarily from future value of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
- Cryptocurrency mining requires enormous amounts of computing power and energy, leading to controversies around environmental impacts, especially as Bitcoin circulation approaches its limit.
- New emerging cryptocurrencies are attempting to address issues of scalability, interoperability, and governance.
- The Japan Financial Services Authority’s 2017 clarification of rules and protections in virtual-currency exchanges has heightened demand for Bitcoins.
- While Bitcoin is assigned a currency by its user base, the Internal Revenue Service considers it a property and thus taxes all exchanges, even for other currencies or real property.
- The proliferation of cryptocurrencies will continue as blockchain technology finds applications in many industries, including real estate.
- The volatility of Bitcoins and the IRS’s treatment of them as a taxable exchange will limit their mainstream appeal or use in real estate transactions.
Despite the rise of cryptocurrencies, and particularly the hype around Bitcoin, a general understanding of what it is and why its value has increased tremendously over the last few months remains opaque. The following analysis attempts to provide some basic information about cryptocurrencies, with an emphasis on Bitcoin, and the technology that allows the proliferation of cryptocurrencies, which is called blockchain. Lastly, we address how Bitcoin may affect the U.S. real estate market.
When discussing the recent hype around cryptocurrencies, it is critical to understand that while blockchain technology enabled rise of them, speculative market euphoria can be viewed with skepticism. Part of the financial-market hype is driven by the future value of promising innovations stemming from blockchain technology, not necessarily from the future value of Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrencies that have gained interest such as Ethereum and Litecoin.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are most frequently defined as “a peer-to-peer, decentralized, digital currency whose implementation relies on the principles of cryptography to validate the transactions and generation of the currency itself.” Peer-to-peer and decentralization are intended to ensure that exchanges do not require a third party such as a bank and are not governed by any bodies such as a treasury department, a central bank, or a country.
The role of cryptography is to guarantee the security of the transaction and to generate new Bitcoins. New Bitcoins are created through a process called mining, in which computers solve complicated mathematical problems. Once a problem is solved, a new Bitcoin is generated and is assigned a digital signature that guarantees its authenticity and uniqueness. The solution or key goes into the blockchain, an electronic distributed ledger, which cannot be faked since each new key must be confirmed by other independent miners. The validation ensures that there is no fraud and double-spending. Every Bitcoin includes a blockchain, an anonymous digital record of the unit’s transaction history.
However, as more and more people mine Bitcoins, the cryptographic codes get longer and more complicated. Hence, the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies and trading has led to controversies around their environmental impacts. Mining requires enormous amounts of computing power and energy; Bitcoin’s computing network has grown at an 1,100 percent average annual pace over the last five years. At the current growth rate, Bitcoin would use more electricity than the entire world uses today by 2020. Since most of this mining goes on in China, where energy is mostly derived from coal, the environmental implications could be disastrous. Furthermore, as the number of Bitcoins in circulation approaches its limit of 21 million, minting algorithms are increasingly more difficult and demand greater energy sources.
Energy demand is one of the biggest pitfalls of Bitcoin and the reason that some other cryptocurrencies are gaining momentum. The appeal of Ethereum, for example, is that it differs from Bitcoin in the way new coins are created, which requires less computing resources by giving mining power proportional to the number of coins already held by a miner. With Bitcoin, the first miner to solve a block transaction problem gets a coin. While Ethereum’s mining process may lead to distributional inequality issues since those who own more can theoretically mine more, the proliferation of cryptocurrencies illustrates the desire to overcome constraints with existing methods: scalability, interoperability, and governance issues. Since Bitcoin governance is decided primarily by miners and the core development team, greater adoption as a store of value in the traditional finance structure may hinge on some clarification from regulators such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Japan is a leader when comes to cryptocurrencies, a reflection of its deep history with Bitcoin. The technology was supposedly invented by a Japanese person or group of people called Satoshi Nakamoto, though the inventor’s identity remains a mystery. Nevertheless, in 2017, the Japanese government passed an act legally clarifying Bitcoin as an asset that can be used as a method of payment, though it has not yet declared it a legal currency. The Japan Financial Services Authority was granted the ability to regulate and license virtual-currency exchanges in Japan. This was especially important, as it established an official Bitcoin market in Japan, where the rules are clear and consumers can be protected. This in part helped increase demand for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Japanese yen still represents 50 percent of national currencies that are traded for Bitcoins.
Nevertheless, the question remains whether Bitcoin is money or an asset. The classic economist’s definition holds that there are three functions of money: a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of account. And while all three measures have already been prescribed to Bitcoin, cryptocurrency still has many obstacles to overcome to ensure its viability and longevity. As a store of value, Bitcoin still makes a difficult case, since its daily average variation in value is more than 4 percent. By comparison, while the U.S. dollar’s value also varies, the average daily variance is only 0.3 percent, and the largest-ever one-day change in the dollar was less than 2 percent.
Despite its wide variation in value, Bitcoin has gained popularity as medium of exchange in countries where local currencies are even more volatile or where a lack of conventional banking services and stability create a productive market for Bitcoin. South Africa, for example, has seen a surge in Bitcoin trading. It would be remiss not to mention that Bitcoin has long been popular as a money-laundering and terrorism-financing mechanism and a way to circumvent reliance on the U.S. dollar and involvement of banks that are required to report transactions.
Potential Impacts on the Housing Market
Going forward, it appears that Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency will increase its function as a medium of exchange. In 2017, companies started accepting Bitcoins for payments, and more are expected to do so in 2018. Also, the further explosion of cryptocurrencies is very likely, as blockchain technology permeates a greater number of industries and finds more applications. Blockchain has the potential to be quite disruptive in real estate services, with the biggest impact on providers of title insurance. In some countries, the technology has already been employed for land-titling registry.
Nevertheless, the use of Bitcoins as a currency in real estate transactions still has many obstacles. First, the IRS does not view Bitcoins as currency. Instead, they are treated as property and are subject to capital-gains taxes. Thus, when someone purchases something with Bitcoins, the IRS views the transaction as selling Bitcoins to obtain dollars, and when property is sold (Bitcoins in this case), it must be reported on a tax return. Also, if the value of Bitcoins changed from the time a user obtained them to the time they “sold” them, they must pay a capital-gains tax. Furthermore, the recently passed tax-reform package limited exemption of 1031 exchanges to “real property” only. Thus all “property” transactions — including digital currency exchanges for other currencies, dollars, or physical goods — are now taxable events. This could be one of the bigger issues holding back the mainstream appeal of Bitcoin going forward.
Furthermore, given Bitcoin’s volatility as a store of value, real estate service providers such as escrow businesses and lenders are still reluctant to accept it for home transactions, especially since typical closings take around 30 days, a period in which Bitcoins’ value can vary greatly. There have been some accounts of real estate transactions conducted with Bitcoins, but it appears that the Bitcoins were exchanged to dollars then back to Bitcoins after the sale. Thus, the transactions were not really financed in cryptocurrency. Also, in accounts of individuals who chose to accept Bitcoins as an all-cash transaction, the motivation was solely driven by the desire to own Bitcoins. Real estate brokers that engaged in transactions with Bitcoins charged a premium to cover the extra costs of ensuring that all parties and exchanges accounted for the currency volatility.
In closing, here is an image captured in Los Angeles recently. For many, it may resemble the moment during the 2008 housing market peak when everyone was claiming a stake in real estate, even though many shouldn’t have.
Original post on PacificUnionLA.com
Selma Hepp is the Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence for Pacific Union International. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.
With one of the world’s most celebrated dates less than a week away, we couldn’t help but notice how so many holiday traditions are centered around our homes themselves, the heart and soul of families everywhere. From stringing up vibrantly-colored lights to hanging fragrant wreaths outside the door, spreading holiday cheer requires one to adopt a heap of decorating measures that have stood the test of time. So, in the spirit of the holidays, we thought we’d deconstruct five of our cherished at-home holiday traditions. The next time someone comments on the holly gracing their dinner plate, you’ll have a story to tell.
‘Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree’
Why do living trees become the adored centerpieces of our holiday decor each season? The tradition dates back to medieval Germany and northern France, where plays recounting the creation of the world were a popular mid-winter tradition. In every production, performed on the 24th of December, there was a tree on stage decorated with apples and ribbons, which symbolised the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. It was Queen Victoria who made Christmas trees fashionable in Britain after her German husband, Prince Albert, decorated his own at Windsor Castle in 1841.
‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Candle Bright, Burning on this Special Night’
Also known as the “Festival of Lights,” Hanukkah, like Christmas, is celebrated during the darkest days of the year and incorporates light for both religious and seasonal reasons. The candle-lighting holiday is a warm, cozy ritual to celebrate the miracle that occurred when the Maccabees (a clan of Jewish freedom fighters) reclaimed the Holy Temple. Upon reclaiming the Temple, the fighters found only enough oil to light a lantern—by which to read the Torah—for one day, yet the lantern blazed for eight full days.
‘Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly’
Decorating the home with evergreens like holly, mistletoe, and fir trees is linked to pagan observances of the solstice. For early pagans, these plants were seen to have magical properties because they did not lose their leaves in winter—they remained evergreen—thus symbolizing hope for the coming spring. Greenery was also brought inside homes to brighten them up in the bleak season. And those popular Christmas wreaths? Beyond being a hopeful sign of warmer days to come, the green foliage symbolizes everlasting love while the circular shape represents the never-ending cycle of God.
‘Hang Them By The Chimney With Care’
History suggests that hanging stockings by the fireplace actually has roots in a story about Father Christmas, who began as Saint Nicholas, a bishop of Myra (in modern-day Turkey). A generous man, Saint Nicholas was noted for his kindness to children, upon whom he bestowed gifts having first established their good behavior during the preceding year. He was also a shy man who was happier imparting charity anonymously. It is said that he once climbed the roof of a house to drop a purse of money down the chimney, and can you guess where it landed? In a stocking hung in the fireplace to dry.
‘Strings of Street Lights, Even Stop Lights, Blink a Bright Red and Green’
Outdoor Christmas light displays evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. The tradition of lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe. The small candles were attached to the tree branches with pins or melted wax (surely this wasn’t the safest custom). During the 1880 Christmas season, Thomas Edison introduced the first outdoor electric Christmas light display to the world. He displayed the lights outside of his laboratory compound, which sat near a railway where many people could see it each night.