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Website makes shopping for homes easier

Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

On June 1, reader Jo Anne Caruso wondered out loud whether there’s a single online site where she can search for new homes. Builders try to drive prospective buyers to their own company websites, which all of us understand. But ads and billboards with no addresses can be frustrating.

Here’s a helpful update: You’ll now find lots of additional information about new homes at

The National Association of Realtors authorized the changes and additions in June, not long after Caruso posed her question. She clearly wasn’t the only frustrated home shopper.

Visitors to, both online and mobile, can search 44,000 new home plans from builder marketing company Builders Digital Experience. BDX is a joint venture partner with Move Inc., which operates the site.

Users can conduct specific searches for new homes in the “New Homes & Communities” section, according to a release from the association. New home plans appear with resale listings on the main search results page, as well as the area map display.

The national Realtors also plan to reinforce the idea that an agent can provide valuable help when you’re shopping for a new home.

Smoking hurts resale values

Earlier this month, I wrote that smokers could have more trouble renting new, upscale apartments in the years ahead. There’s a trend toward smoke-free complexes.

A new survey says they’ll have less money when they go shopping for apartments, too – because they could get less for their existing homes when they sell.

A survey in Canada showed that smoking in a home could lower its value by as much as 29 percent. That would be a potential loss of up to $87,000 on a $300,000 house.

The survey was conducted by Pfizer Canada, which quizzed agents and brokers in Ontario. Almost half of the pros said that smoking affects resale value, according to a release from the healthcare company. About a third of those said that smoking could lower the value by 10 to 19 percent, and another third said that smoking could lower the sale price by 20 to 29 percent.

An impressive majority – 88 percent – agreed that it’s tougher to sell a home where owners have smoked.

One of those who agreed was David Visentin, whose name you’ll recognize if you’re an HGTV junkie. He’s a host on “Love It or List It,” and a top agent in southern Ontario. “It stains walls and carpets, and leaves a smell that can be hard to eliminate,” he said in the release. “Many prospective buyers are really put off.”

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