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Here's the story of families blended: Bigger homes are in demand

By Chuck Green | Special to the Sentinel
Posted February 20, 2005

LOS ANGELES -- When it came to buying a house, size meant nearly everything to Dave and Jessica Gentzler. With five bedrooms and 3,800 square feet, the Manhattan Beach, Calif., home they wanted would accommodate Dave Gentzler's three children from a previous marriage, who live with them half the time, and a child the Gentzlers had together.

For many blended families, finding a home large enough means they sometimes must sacrifice style, condition or location to have a bedroom for every child. But even if providing individual bedrooms is not financially feasible, experts say, families should still strive to create a sense of privacy and belonging for each child.

Blended families are a growing segment of the population that is helping to fuel interest in larger homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The StepFamily Foundation in New York City estimates that in 50 percent of U.S. families, one or both members of the couple have children from a previous relationship.

"It seems like almost everyone is blended now," said builder-developer Dennis Cleland, owner of D.C. Construction & Development in Los Angeles, which builds town houses and single-family homes.

Of course, the preference for a larger home can be based on status and prestige, he added, but about 60 percent of his business consists of blended families.

For many, such as the Gentzlers, space needs narrow the search for a home.

"It was listed for about $989,000," Jessica Gentzler said of the home they bought, "but we really liked how big it was."

So, to head off an upcoming open house, the Gentzlers heeded their real estate agent's advice and bid high.

"He thought if we made an offer that was good enough," she said, "maybe they'd just take it."

That's exactly what happened.

"Beating the open house was critical," said their agent, Gary Richardson of Shorewood Realtors in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

The Gentzlers, who are both sales reps and who had house-shopped for about a month, paid $1,050,000 for the home, which they moved into in September.
 

said. She said one of her clients looked for a year to find a suitable house in a certain school district.

The Greater Orlando Association of

Realtors does not track neighborhood appreciation. But on Thursday the

association prepared a report that shows where houses sell the fastest

and fetch top prices.

Houses in Wekiva and Riverside in c Seminole County and Sand Lake Hills . in Orange all sold in about 40 days -

about half the average time it takes for a house to sell in metropolitan Orlando. And the neighborhoods where houses sold closest to their asking price are the Orange County

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