Home for the Holidays with Herman Chan


EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday December 16, 2013

Herman Chan is a man you want in your corner when it comes to real estate advice. And once you've purchased your dream home, keep him around for interior design and decorating tips that will keep you on budget and on trend.

Featured in a myriad of media outlets including HGTV, Logo, MTV, Epoch Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and more, Chan has been dubbed "The Real Estate Celebrity and Expert" and with good reason. More than 38,000 followers tune in to his social media outlets to hear what he has to say about the real estate market and how to make the most out of your home.

EDGE chatted with Chan about basic strategy when shopping for a home and how to spruce it up for the holidays without breaking the bank.

Chan’s Eye for Style

Chan studied Mass Communications at University of California, Berkley and dabbled in visual merchandising. He realized the potential in the real estate market and the organic blend of home sales and design. Having studied in both France as well as Asia, Chan's international exposure has impacted his design aesthetic.

"My parents were immigrants and I grew up in the suburbs - I didn't know this whole world existed out there," says Chan. "The thing is about France is that there is a historical legacy of artistic value. The architecture really caught my eye. We like to think that everything new is better. But there is beauty in built-ins and hardwood floors and I developed an appreciation for the past. In Asia, everything was tiny. I was taken aback at how people live in such small spaces and appreciated minimalism. Using space purposefully and with intention, they make it work."

Chan’s 3 Tips for Home Buying

Chan offers three tips to consider when shopping for a new home:

1. Representation
The most important thing is choosing the right representation - who represents you can make or break a deal. It's like dating, someone who communicates like you and has the same values. Avoid a realtor who might pressure you to buy in a different neighborhood or different price bracket. You want someone who truly has your best interests at heart - someone who has your back.

Real estate agents are good with the flash, so honestly you need to follow your gut. The biggest flash can be the worst agents, covered up with glitz and glam. Vet your agent - 90 percent of the business is done by 10 percent of agents. Find someone who is doing this full time. One or two hours can make all the difference in closing a sale. In some states you can look up their licenses online. You can even do some research via social media.

2. Realistic Expectations
People watch HGTV, look at three homes and you've got a house in 30 minutes. Reality shows are a great educational tool, but it's a lot more than one weekend or a trip to Home Depot or IKEA. Location. Price. Condition. It's rare to get all three so you have to be willing to compromise - or pay the price not to compromise.

3. Preparation is Half the Battle
People are looking online, which is easy. But they're not pre-approved and they'll lose out on a house because they don't have their ducks lined up. You need to know what's in your wallet before you go to the store. People love the fantasy. They get caught up in the shopping aspect. Getting pre-approved by your lender is the first and most important thing you should do.

New Space, New You

Chan says there is a basic strategy when moving into a new home. "No matter whether you're in a small space or big, old or new - your furniture should match the architectural style," he suggests. "People get paralyzed with not knowing what to do. Get a consultation for an hour - it's worth it!"

"Keep things neutral by creating a blank canvas. I prefer to do walls first. The walls set the tone for everything," says Chan. "Gray is very popular right now and is both classic and elegant. Consider slightly different shades throughout each room. And a lot of furniture matches gray."

Chan also says it's helpful to loosen your grip on those furniture pieces you don't want to let go. "People get attached to furniture first and space second. You have to understand the space and cater to the space. Everything must be cohesive. What is the overarching idea before you start shopping? Sleek and modern? Contemporary with a touch of vintage? A guideline will keep you line."

Finally, Chan says that there is such a thing as buying too much: "There is beauty in negative space!"

Holiday Bling on a Dime

Particularly around the holidays, when many homeowners go overboard with QVC bling, Chan says there are ways to create a festive environment without breaking the bank. "

"I'm a fan of repurposing things on the cheap. Spruce up your holiday dťcor with a huge branch. Leave it natural, or paint it white. Use that branch and create a temporary mantle to hang stockings. Or put it in the corner like a minimalist Christmas tree. Or if it's compositionally beautiful enough, suspend it over a dining room table. Create a cascade wreath by combining unused ornaments to make a bouquet instead of a traditional round one."

In terms of palette, Chan says gold, silver and black are popular this season. As the economy slowly bounces back, people are looking for a bit of glitz and glamour by incorporating mercury, mirrors, sparkle and jewel boxes to create an old world vintage-style Gatsby holiday.

Want more Herman Chan? Visit www.habitatforhermanity and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.