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The heat is here, making it an especially appropriate time to highlight a fresh housing trend – the outdoor shower – which I’m seeing pop up in more and more residences. Many homeowners are adding this amenity to wash off before or after a swim, and an increasing number of people are enhancing their master bathrooms with an open-air component. In a world dominated by TV, smart phones and other forms of technology, nature and all its beauty often fade into the background. This phenomenon has inspired people to develop creative ways to incorporate the outdoors in their daily living environments. Installing a permanent outdoor extension of the master bathroom is an effective way to do so – for at least 10 minutes every day, an alfresco shower allows the a person to connect with nature in a most refreshing way. Of course, as with any remodel, there are several important issues to consider. Before [...]

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As Texas temperatures begin their annual ascent to triple-digit numbers, Dallas residents begin to fantasize about summer escapes. “Owning a home in Colorado sure would be nice…” Ranch houses, urban condos, mountain retreats, beachfront bungalows – second homes appeal to all tastes and lifestyles. Despite the diversity of options, however, there is now a common thread uniting them all: exceptionally low prices. If you desire a second home, I encourage you to take advantage of today’s real estate market conditions. There are several factors that make the current circumstances incredibly attractive. First, home prices in many vacation spots have dipped drastically – Napa, California prices are down 47-percent from their 2006 peak, for example. Prices in several spots are beginning to climb, however, leading most economists to believe that the bottom is behind us. Second, owners often rent out their residences to vacationers, which provides extra income and greatly increases the home’s resale value. As [...]