Affordable Home Technology


Almost anything can be controlled from a cell phone or tablet these days.  You can start your car, turn the lights on in your house and deposit checks into your bank account.  We live in a society that demands convenience and instant gratification.   The Dreamstar office and Design Center use the Nest Learning Thermostat.  The Nest makes saving energy simple with control over Wi-Fi from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. Nest also remembers what temperatures you like and turns itself down when you’re away.  While we can not attest to the other products mentioned in this Houzz article, Dreamstar gives The Nest two thumbs up!

Click here to see Houzz article on affordable home technology.

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The Hallway – a waste of space or an opportunity to showcase your style?

Currently Under Construction

Generally speaking, when designing a home, you should try to eliminate hallways whenever possible.  A good home designer will be able to plan the most efficient use of space.  However, in every home one or two hallways are unavoidable, so you will want to add designer touches to these spaces to capture your home’s style and create a lovely transition between living areas.  Function wise, the minimum width for a hallway should be three feet.  If possible, add an extra foot to make the width four feet.  In longer hallways it is nice to break up the length by placing intermittent arches, cased openings or recessed art niches.  This can provide a great place to display art, floral arrangements or collectibles.   Do not forget about opportunities to allow functional and mood lighting to the hall through pinpoint high hats, sconces and reduced voltage lighting.  In this grand Mediterranean residence on Singer Island, we’ve incorporated a lattice pattern plaster treatment, arches and columns to create a transition space congruent with the architectural details throughout.


Designing your Custom Home for Today and Tomorrow


“How long do you intend to live in this home?“ is a careful consideration when designing a home that works for you throughout the stages in life.  Recent surveys show that most people live in their home an average of five years.  You may be thinking of longer than five years, which means you will want to plan your spaces for the ‘next stage’ of life.  Designing a home for today is important, but what will you do with the rooms when the kids go to college?  How will your young family’s needs change as they gain more independence?  Do you have extended family or parents that may move in with you later in life?  While all of our clients have their own custom needs, part of our job is to ask the questions and help our homeowners plan for these life milestones, incorporating the functionality aspect into a beautiful design that will bring years of pleasure.

Resale of your home is also critical when planning the design and functionality.  Balance your wants and needs for the home of your dreams with potential market appeal for future resale.  As you go through the design process we will counsel you on the areas of strengths and any potential weakness we see with resale of your custom home.

Our mutual goal is to build a home for our clients that provides years of pleasure and happiness, is a good fit for today and tomorrow, and is an asset to the homeowner should they have to move.

Discover the Dreamstar difference today – contact Brett Handler at 561-662-7700 with any design or build questions you may have.

“Build for the Cure” Supports Breast Cancer Awareness

Click here for article: “Build for the Cure” Supports Breast Cancer Awareness

Old Palm Golf Club recently joined forces with Dreamstar Custom Homes and its Build for the Cure program to raise funds for the South Florida affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Founded three years ago by local businessman and Dreamstar founder Brett Handler, Build for the Cure constructs custom homes as a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation is the world’s largest breast cancer awareness organization and makes a huge impact in the fight against the disease.

The funds to be donated will come from the construction of Palais de Tere, which is scheduled for completion in October 2013 in Old Palm’s Custom Estates neighborhood. The nearly 10,000-square-foot home will overlook the 16th green of our Raymond Floyd-designed golf course and feature five bedrooms, seven full baths, one half bath, a library, covered loggia, porte cochere, and a four-and-a-half car garage.

The contractors and vendors involved in the construction of Palais de Tere will be asked to discount their services, with the difference donated to the fundraising efforts. It’s hoped that $50,000 will be raised to benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

“Build for the Cure is an incredible program impacting lives throughout South Florida and nationwide,” said Connie McGinnis, Director of Sales at Old Palm. “We are honored to team with Dreamstar and look forward to raising funds and awareness to fight breast cancer.”

What are you thankful for?

I ask myself this question every year before the holidays – a time where additional demands on time and resources can cause a lot of stress. I find keeping the spirit of the holiday first and foremost allows me to enjoy the beauty around me.  And somehow, things all fall into place and they are perfect.

In our office, Mickey is thankful for family and friends.  All of her sisters are coming together this year to celebrate Thanksgiving down here in South Florida; her excitement and joy is contagious.  Anne Marie is celebrating Thanksgiving with her extended family on a 7 day Caribbean cruise.  Her anticipation has us all dreaming about cruising.  And like most Americans, Mike, Paul, Chris, Rachel, myself and The Handlers plan on spending Thanksgiving with family, eating way too much food and watching a lot of football.

When asked, “What are you thankful for?”  around the office, I received the usual responses:  family, friends, freedom, the beauty of our surroundings.  However, every single one of our ‘Dreamstar family’ said, “I’m thankful for a great place to work.”  We are so fortunate and blessed to work with such a talented team and wonderful clients.  Building a home is putting thousands of pieces together for the homeowner’s enjoyment.  Can it be stressful?  Sure.  It’s how we handle it that makes the difference.  We start with the end in mind: our homeowner, what they want and how they will enjoy their new home.   Our approach to building custom homes, combined with our insightful and dynamic team, creates the recipe that makes Dreamstar such a great place to work.  As Chris Handler so aptly puts it, “A Dreamstar home reflects the beauty of the homeowner.”

On the eve of the holiday season, we hope your home is filled with joy, memorable times with family and friends, and may your home reflect the beauty that is uniquely yours.


As in any large investment in life, we watch and analyze market trends, news and other information to ensure we purchase real estate at the right time.  I found this article interesting and pertinent to our South Florida market.  Whether our clients are purchasing a lot or a tear down for cash or through a bank loan (which ultimately is considered cash to the seller at closing) we have noticed the market is tightening.  We are seeing far less time on the market, as well as offers at or over asking price.

Trends: More cash sales, shrinking time on market

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nov. 13, 2012 – All-cash buyers have surged since the housing downturn while the typical amount of time it takes to sell a home is shrinking, revealing the changing dynamics of today’s home buyers and sellers.

Academic experts took a closer look at cash buyers and how time-on-market impacts home sales during the “Changing Dynamics of Recent Home Buyers and Sellers” session at the 2012 Realtors® Conference and Expo. Funding for the research was provided by the Realtor University Center for Real Estate Studies.

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase in cash buyers since the housing downturn that we haven’t seen before in history,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Yun said a decade ago, cash home purchases were less than 10 percent of the market, but they’ve increased steadily since 2008 – up to 30 percent of sales.

Yun said the increase in cash buyers results from tight lending conditions and an increase in investor sales, which make up the bulk of cash purchases. Increases in the number of international buyers, who often have financing difficulties when purchasing a home in the U.S., are also adding to the cash sale rise; 62 percent of international purchases were all cash, a percentage that has increased since 2007.

Recent NAR research may offer insight into how cash buyers receive funds for home purchases. According the 2012 NAR Home Buyers and Sellers Profile, 40 percent of repeat buyers use proceeds from the sale of their primary residence as a source of down payment, but downsizing boomers may have enough equity left from their home sale to pay all cash for their next purchase. Yun also noted that one in 10 buyers rely on proceeds from the sale of stocks or 401K disbursements for down payments. Those with stable jobs and who had investment gains in recent years may use those cash funds to buy a home outright rather than financing the purchase.

Dr. Grant Ian Thrall, president of the American Real Estate Society, agreed that cash sales have increased dramatically in recent years. Thrall spoke at the session and conducted an in-depth market analysis to gain greater insights into cash buyers.

“Research shows a bias toward cash sales for newer and lower priced homes,” Thrall said. “Many of those sales are occurring within the first 60 days that the home is on the market, and more than half sold within the first 120 days.”

Thomas Springer, professor of Finance and Real Estate at Clemson University, discussed how time-on-market responds to employment changes, and shifting market and economic conditions. Springer analyzed market data from more than two dozen metro areas. His findings indicate that time-on-market is a function of property characteristics, price and market factors for a specific home; however, at market level, time-on-market for an area is a function of local, national and global economic and market factors.

Yun said that tightened inventory conditions also impact time-on-market, which has steadily decreased nationally since the start of the year.

“Tightened inventories in some places mean homes are selling more quickly and reducing time-on-market,” Yun said. “Our research shows that last year, homebuyers saw 10 homes before buying, down from 12 the year before. And more than half of buyers reported that finding the right home was the hardest part of the home search process.”

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Working with Real Numbers


When we work with people designing their custom home, we take great care to honor the budget presented by our clients.  There is a budget for the lot, the architecture, the finishes – you get the picture.  We spend a considerable amount of time asking questions, and major decisions are collectively made to keep the home in budget.  Sometimes, after many hours are spent by our design team and clients to create the design, features & needs within the budget they presented, we find out the clients had a secret “stash” of money – they had more to spend than they originally told us during our preliminary meetings.

It is amazing to us when people use this approach.  How counterproductive this is!  And inevitably, it leads down a path of delays and frustration.  After spending countless hours working to meet their budget, we end up going back to the drawing board to start various aspects of the design process over again.  The end result is construction comes to a standstill until the new product/finish/design is approved, ordered and ships (think of a 6 – 12 week time frame).  A client who envisions entertaining guests during the Holiday using this strategy may end up throwing a Spring Break party instead.

A better approach is to be upfront about your budget , and insist that your builder sticks to it.  Hire a reputable builder that can deliver the home you want and can afford on time and on budget.