Latest articles

Staging and Style

Prefab Housing: What It Really Is and Why You Should Care


Example of modular housing; Photo credit: Method Homes

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Prefab housing is shaking up the architecture world, touting attention-getting designs that are giving factory-built housing a new reputation. Manufacturers are also adding in greater abilities for home buyers to customize these homes, despite sections of them being mass produced in a factory setting.

Known for faster build times, prefab housing is making more in the building and real estate industry to take notice too. They’re eyeing prefab housing as the answer to adding more inventories of housing in markets that desperately need them. And with the ease,  in some cases, of designing homes right from the Internet, your new-home buyers may especially be intrigued about their growing options with prefab.

Manufacturers say real estate professionals are a big piece in helping prefab overcome its sometimes bad rap, mostly from the public’s misunderstanding of what it is and what is not. Read more: Shunning Prefab Preconceptions

Also, as this building style grows in popularity, make sure you’re aware of it yourself — and not spreading misperceptions either. Here’s a quick overview

What is a prefab?

This generic term (abbreviated from “prefabricated”) often refers to a home partially or fully produced in a factory, later delivered for assembly onsite. Factories may create everything from roofs to entire rooms.

Bob M_

Example of panelized housing; Photo Courtesy of Landmark Home and Land Co.,

Prefab types encompass several categories:

  • Panelized: Prefabricated sections like walls, floors, and roofs are created in a factory and delivered to the job site.
  • Modular: Some 70 percent or more of the home may be completed in the factory, with full rooms or modules built and then delivered to the site, where they’re connected to create the home.
  • Manufactured: Formerly called mobile homes, these are built on nonremovable steel frames and transported to the site. They must meet federal building codes and are subject to different financing requirements than modular, panelized, and traditional housing.

Prefab also often is used to describe a more specialized type of homes, such as dome homes, modular log cabins, tiny home kits, or shipping container homes.

How common is it?


Photo Courtesy of Landmark Home and Land Co.,

Prefab still makes up a relatively small supply of housing. Around 14,000 to 15,000 homes a year are built using modular methods, which only makes up about 1.5 percent of housing starts, according to data compiled by Fred Hallahan, a housing consultant with Hallahan Associates in Baltimore, Md. Modular housing is most common in the Northeast, where construction costs are highest. There, modular housing made up about 4 to 6 percent of all homes built in the region in 2015. Hallahan says it’s more difficult to quantify how many homes are being built using a panel method. He estimates that around 100,000 panelized homes and 80,000 manufactured homes are built each year.

Can you tell a difference?

Hallahan says you’d have to be a building expert to be able to tell the difference between a panelized or modular home versus a stick-built one. Obviously, manufactured, shipping container, and dome homes are easier to distinguish from traditional homes.

Photo Courtesy: Method Homes; San Juan Island Custom Design
Fisch Mackay Architects; Photo by:





Photo Courtesy: Method Homes; Method Cabin model 4 design Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects; Photo by: Sun Valley Photo


Don B_















Photo Courtesy of Landmark Home and Land Co.,


Staging and Style

How to Create a Warm, Inviting Winter Listing

Patti image

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

A Welcoming Curb Appeal

Maintain a polished look by keeping gutters clean and shrubs trimmed. Be sure to also remove any hazards by shoveling, sanding, and removing any ice or snow from the driveway, walkways, and sidewalks. To engage buyers on a gloomy day, keep the front porch well lit, use potted evergreens or berry branches, a wreath on the door, lanterns, and a seasonal welcome mat.

Simple and Elegant Holiday Decor

Do not overdo! Buyers want to see the home’s permanent features and a fireplace or window covered with too many ribbons and stockings will distract from key focal points. Instead, incorporate elegant finishing touches such as mercury glass votives and ornaments for some sparkle paired with candles, pine cones, berries and twigs.

Create Warmth With Lighting

Use modest lighting as an accent to create an inviting ambience. Scatter a few lightly scented tea lights in votives, candles in varying heights on beautiful pillars or lanterns and soft white string lights on the front porch, entry stairway or fireplace.

Splashes of Minimal Color

Too much traditional green and red can compete with existing decor and command a room’s attention. A couple of red plaid throw pillows or a red wool blanket draped on the sofa will add just enough festive pop. We also love using silver and gold paired with fresh, white seasonal flowers to complement freshly painted neutral walls that appeal to nearly all buyers.

Keep It Bright

With shorter days, let in as much natural light as possible by opening blinds and curtains. Make sure that all lights are working, light bulbs have been changed, and be sure that the property is well lit both inside and out for late afternoon showings.

PattiABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company has received Houzz 2015 and 2016 Awards for Customer Service. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to REALTOR® Magazine’s Styled, Staged and Sold. For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or

Staging and Style

Get Shopping! Black Friday Deals for the Home

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Are you looking for a bargain this Black Friday with home goods? Deals on household products and appliances are abundant this season. Need to add to your staging inventory or looking for that perfect housewarming gift for your clients? Peruse the ads to spot the best deals. has posted the ads for numerous retailers, from Target, Lowe’s, and more. offers some shopping tips for those in search of some of the best home good offers.  or housewarming gifts for clients during the week of Black Friday, including:

Go after small appliances for the kitchen: Some products – like toasters, kettles, pressure cookers, and more — may drop as low as $3. Look for such deals and their sitewide coupons at mega department stores like Kohl’s, Kmart, and Bon-Ton, according to

Scan sales on major appliances: If your clients are planning a kitchen remodel, they may want to act this week on big appliances. Stores generally offer up their best deals of the year for washing machines, refrigerators, and other household essentials during Black Friday week. Look for dishwashers as low as $250 from some retailers. Sears Outlet often carries some of the best appliance sales of the season, along with free sitewide shipping.

Stock up on cheap tools: Black Friday week may also be the best time to stock up on tools. Power saws may start at $20 and drills from $55. Check out major department stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot to snag some of the best tool deals.

Hunt for household goods: To outfit your home, suggests checking out Sear’s for cheap bedding offers and Kohl’s and JCPenney’s for more dinnerware and bedding deals.

Staging and Style

Home Trends to Watch: Adding the Bathtub Back In

Eubank_freestanding tub

Photo credit: Karen Eubank, Eubank Staging & Design

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

The National Association of Home Builders has in recent years pointed to a dwindling interest in whirlpools in the master bathroom, but that doesn’t mean home owners are ready to banish bathtubs all together.

Sure, home owners have been swapping out built-in bathtubs with supersized walk-in, lavish showers.

However, now some home owners say they want to add the tub back in.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association noted a trend this year among remodelers incorporating more freestanding soaking tubs. Since it’s not built in, there is more flexibility in the placement of these tubs too. They can be placed anywhere from along a window to the center of the bathroom to even, in some cases, inside the shower.

Indeed, the tub stands alone nowadays. Freestanding tubs are becoming a focal element in the bathroom, says Karen Eubank with Eubank Staging & Design in Dallas.

North Bondi House
Pool House & Wine Cellar
Whole House Renovation - Beechwood