Cream Of The Crop: A Forgotten Dairy Barn in Jackson, Wyoming gets a Showstopping Reinvention

04 Jun 2018 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

It’s not every busy architecture firm that would delight in fielding calls about tumbledown structures, but JLF Architects isn’t your typical enterprise. “Our philosophy is making contemporary spaces with reclaimed materials— the parts and pieces of old buildings,” says firm partner Paul Bertelli, who notes that they occasionally drive around the country searching for old, neglected—and stunning—architecture, often in areas where the air is dry enough that logs are perfectly preserved. “As architects, we identify as critical regionalists, which essentially implies that all of our work identifies with the place. Anything we build, you would be able to say, ‘Oh that belongs in Pennsylvania,’ or ‘That’s Northern California.’”

Or the Wild West. When one of JLF’s masonry suppliers phoned their office one day to say he’d come across a roofless limestone dairy barn in an uninhabited agricultural community in far north Montana, they knew it was something special. “I saw the picture he took of it and said ‘don’t show it to anybody else!’” recalls Bertelli. “We flew up to Great Falls, got in a pickup truck, bounced around fields for thirty miles, and there it was, in the middle of nowhere in a cow pasture.”

All the legwork was well worth it, because, as the saying goes, they just don’t build them like they used to. This particular dairy barn was hewn of local stone in the 1880s and 1890s by a German Hutterite community. Bertelli says the residents likely immigrated to Canada and then down into the United States fleeing persecution, where they created their own self-supporting world, much like the Amish or Mennonites. “These were some very skilled masons, unbelievable,” says Bertelli, pointing to the hand-chiseled corners, window openings, and finished planes in the original dairy barn. “It’s rare to see something of that quality. We’re a very young country. You go to Europe and that stuff is ubiquitous, so we are very lucky to have something on our soil that really represents eighteenth-century architecture.”

The entire team at JLF Architects knew they had to have it; they called a client they’d been working with for seventeen years and convinced her to help them buy it. “She’s an antique collector, and we thought this could be the ultimate antique,” says Bertelli. The client too fell instantly, head-over-heels in love. The trouble was, where would they put it? It couldn’t stay on its current Montana plot, where cows were using it as a scratching post. They eventually moved the entire barn, stone by stone, rebuilding it nearly exactly the same way on a spot the client and her son purchased for it. The new location, just outside Jackson, Wyoming, features the mountains of the Teton Range rising like a postcard sprung to life in the distance. “I’m guessing it was about 30,000 pieces of stone, and at least a third of them we labeled so we’d know where to put them back,” says Bertelli. It was no easy feat, according to JLF Architects partner Logan Leachman. “The masons we worked with were probably feeling like, ‘Jeez, I could go work somewhere else for a lot less stress!’ It’s a testament to the team of people that got it back together.”

Now the antique has been remade into a modern 7,919-square-foot home with decidedly twenty-first-century technology, yet reclaimed-fir floors, steel windows, original limestone, and a long glass-walled hallway bring the outside in. The home’s interiors are filled with timeless, neutral pieces—Chippendale chairs, a French refectory table—that while beautiful, keep the spotlight on the natural stone and the cinematic natural beauty beyond the windows. Only the fireplace hearths detract the eye from the lush fields and snowcapped mountains beyond. “We oriented the tall slice in the gable so that when you stand in the hallway and look out the window, you see the Grand Teton,” says Bertelli. “We didn’t make it this huge, big, grand window; we wanted to create a more interesting form.”

One of Bertelli’s favorite things about the building? How little they did to it. “You’re looking across a beautiful field of grass and all you see is the little stone building, and the nature formed the frame,” recalls Bertelli. “Normally, someone would come to us and say, ‘I own a piece of ground and want to build a house.’ This project was inspired by the simplicity of the building, and then we found the right piece of property. It may never happen again. It took such courage for the owner to show such restraint and respect for the original form. It was faith and love of the process that drove us to something like this, and it’s probably the most extraordinary building we’ve ever done.”

Homeownership: “A Man Is Not a Complete Man, Unless He Owns a House”

30 May 2018 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

The famous quote by Walt Whitman, “A man is not a whole and complete man, unless he owns a house and the ground it stands on,” can be used to describe homeownership in America today. The Census revealed that the percentage of homeowners in America has been steadily climbing back up since hitting a 50-year low in 2016. The homeownership rate in the first quarter of 2018 was 64.2%, higher than last year’s 63.6%.

Chief Economist, Dr. Ralph McLaughlin, in his VUE Blog gave these new homeownership numbers some context:

“The trend is clear: the homeownership rate has been ticking up for five consecutive quarters, and the number of new renter households has fallen for four consecutive quarters. Owner-occupied households grew by 1.345 million from a year ago, while the number of renters actually fell by 286,000 households.

The fact that we now have four consecutive quarters where owner households increased while renter households fell is a strong sign households are making a switch from renting to buying. This is a trend that multifamily builders, investors, and landlords should take note of.”

In a separate article comparing the rental population in America to the homeowner population, Realtor.com also concluded that the gap is now shrinking:

“The U.S. added 1.3 million owner households over the last year and lost 286,000 renter households, the fourth consecutive quarter in which the number of renter households declined from the same quarter a year earlier. That could pose challenges for apartment landlords, who are bracing this year for one of the largest infusions of new rental supply in three decades.”

America’s belief in homeownership was also evidenced in a survey conducted by Pew Research. They asked consumers “How important is homeownership to achieving the American Dream?”

The results:

  • 43% said homeownership was essential to the American Dream
  • 48% said homeownership was important to the American Dream
  • Only 9% said it was not important

Bottom Line

Homeownership has been, is, and always will be a crucial part of the American Dream.

Source: KCM.com

What If I Wait Until Next Year to Buy a Home?

28 May 2018 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

We recently shared that national home prices have increased by 6.7% year-over-year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.

As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Reporthome prices will appreciate by 5.2% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

If home prices appreciate by 5.2% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

Bottom Line

If buying a home is in your plan for this year, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.

Source: KCM.com

4 Reasons Why Today’s Housing Market is NOT 2006 All Over Again

21 May 2018 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

With home prices rising again this year, some are concerned that we may be repeating the 2006 housing bubble that caused families so much pain when it collapsed. Today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago. There are four key metrics that explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Mortgage Debt
  4. Housing Affordability


There is no doubt that home prices have reached 2006 levels in many markets across the country. However, after more than a decade, home prices should be much higher based on inflation alone.

Frank Nothaft is the Chief Economist for CoreLogic (which compiles some of the best data on past, current, and future home prices). Nothaft recently explained:

“Even though CoreLogic’s national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were.” (emphasis added)


Some are concerned that banks are once again easing lending standards to a level similar to the one that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.

The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI).According to the Urban Institute:

“The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”

The graph below reveals that standards today are much tighter on a borrower’s credit situation and have all but eliminated the riskiest loan products.


Back in 2006, many homeowners mistakenly used their homes as ATMs by withdrawing their equity and spending it with no concern for the ramifications. They overloaded themselves with mortgage debt that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) repay when prices crashed. That is not occurring today.

The best indicator of mortgage debt is the Federal Reserve Board’s household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages, which calculates mortgage debt as a percentage of disposable personal income.

At the height of the bubble market a decade ago, the ratio stood at 7.21%. That meant over 7% of disposable personal income was being spent on mortgage payments. Today, the ratio stands at 4.48% – the lowest level in 38 years!


With both house prices and mortgage rates on the rise, there is concern that many buyers may no longer be able to afford a home. However, when we look at the Housing Affordability Index released by the National Association of Realtors, homes are more affordable now than at any other time since 1985 (except for when prices crashed after the bubble popped in 2008).

Bottom Line

After using four key housing metrics to compare today to 2006, we can see that the current market is not anything like the bubble market.

Source: KCM.com

This Just In: Data Says May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home

18 May 2018 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

According to a newly released study by ATTOM Data Solutions, selling your home in the month of May will net you an average of 5.9% above estimated market value for your home.

For the study, ATTOM performed an “analysis of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017” and found the average seller premium achieved for each month of the year. Below is a breakdown by month:

ATTOM even went a step further and broke their results down by day.

Top 5 Days to Sell:

  • June 28th – 9.1% above market
  • February 15th – 9.0% above market
  • May 31st – 8.3% above market
  • May 29th – 8.2% above market
  • June 21st – 8.1% above market

It should come as no surprise that May and June dominate as the top months to sell and that 4 of the top 5 days to sell fall in those two months. The second quarter of the year (April, May, June) is referred to as the Spring Buyers Season, when competition is fierce to find a dream home, which often leads to bidding wars.

One caveat to mention though, is that when broken down by metroATTOM noticed that while warmer climates share in the overall trend, it turns out that they have different top months for sales. The best month to get the highest price in Miami, FL, for instance, was January, and Phoenix, AZ came in with November leading the charge.

If you’re thinking of selling your home this year, the time to list is NOW! According to the National Association of Realtors, homes sold in an average of just 30 days last month! If you list now, you’ll have a really good chance to sell in May or June, setting yourself up for getting the best price!

Bottom Line

Contact a local real estate professional who can show you the market conditions in your area and get the most exposure to the buyers who are ready and willing to buy!

Source: KCM.com

How Much Has Your Home Increased in Value Over the Last Year?

16 May 2018 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

Home values have risen dramatically over the last twelve months. In CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, they revealed that national home prices have increased by 6.7% year-over-year.

CoreLogic broke down appreciation even further into four price ranges, giving us a more detailed view than if we had simply looked at the year-over-year increases in national median home price.

The chart below shows the four price ranges from the report, as well as each one’s year-over-year growth from February 2017 to February 2018 (the latest data available).

It is important to pay attention to how prices are changing in your local market. The location of your home is not the only factor that determines how much your home has appreciated over the course of the last year.

Lower-priced homes have appreciated at greater rates than homes at the upper ends of the spectrum due to demand from first-time home buyers and baby boomers looking to downsize.

Bottom Line

If you are planning to list your home for sale in today’s market, find a local agent who can explain exactly what’s going on in your area and your price range.

Source: KCM.com

New Study Shows ‘Best States for Millennials’

14 May 2018 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

A new study by WalletHub used “30 key metrics, ranging from share of millennials to millennial unemployment rate to millennial voter-turnout rate” to find out which states are the ‘Best States for Millennials.’

The Top 5 Best States for Millennials are:

  1. Washington, D.C. (also ranks highest in percentage of millennials already living there!)
  2. North Dakota (lowest unemployment rate)
  3. Minnesota (highest millennial homeownership rate)
  4. Massachusetts (highest percentage of millennials with health insurance coverage)
  5. Iowa (ranked #1 in lowest housing cost for millennials)

Below is a map with the rankings for each of the 50 states:

We recently reported on a study that set out to find out “How Much You Need to Make to Buy a Home in Your State,” which may have left you wondering what the average salaries are in each of the five states listed above.

According to WalletHub’s research, the top 5 states with the Highest Average Millennial Salaries are:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. New York
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Washington
  5. California

Every day, more and more millennials are aging into the ‘Responsibility Zone,’ the time in their lives when their responsibilities start to dictate their behaviors. For many, this includes buying a home. The top 5 states with the Highest Millennial Homeownership Rate are:

  1. Minnesota
  2. West Virginia
  3. Indiana
  4. Utah
  5. Delaware

Bottom Line

If owning a home is next on your list, meet with a local real estate professional who can answer your questions and set you on the path to homeownership!

Source: KCM.com

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