To remodel or not to remodel?

Remodeling Update: Putting on a Pretty Face Pays Off Best

Remodeling Update: Putting on a Pretty Face Pays Off Best

A home’s curb appeal is crucial because it is the first thing buyers notice about a home. That’s why Realtors rated eight exterior projects among the top ten most valuable home improvement projects in the 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report.

“With many factors to consider such as cost and time, deciding what remodeling projects to undertake can be a difficult decision for homeowners,” said National Association of Realtors President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors in Dayton, Ohio. “Realtors® know what home features are important to buyers in their area, but a home’s curb appeal is always critical since it’s the first impression for potential buyers. That’s why exterior replacement projects offer the greatest bang for the buck. Projects such as entry door, siding and window replacements can recoup homeowners more than 78 percent of costs upon resale.”

Realtors judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 96.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. The steel entry door replacement is consistently the least expensive project in the annual Cost vs. Value Report, costing little more than $1,100 on average.

Eight of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally, in terms of value recouped, are exterior projects. A wood deck addition came in second with an estimated 87.4 percent of costs recouped upon resale. Two different siding replacement projects also landed in the top 10, including fiber-cement siding, expected to return 87 percent of costs, and vinyl siding, expected to return 78.2 percent of costs. Out of the top 10 projects, the fiber-cement siding replacement project improved the most since last year, with costs recouped increasing by more than 15 percent. Two garage door replacements were also in the top 10; a midrange garage door replacement is expected to return 83.7 percent while an upscale garage door replacement follows closely at 82.9 percent of costs recouped. Rounding out the top exterior remodeling projects were two window replacements; a wood window replacement is estimated to recoup 79.3 percent of costs and a vinyl window replacement is estimated to recoup 78.7 percent of costs.

Read more…

Know your remodel numbers…

Nail your home renovation budget

Josh Garskof | @Money | June 13, 2013 | link

With the real estate market heating up, it appears that American homeowners are ready to start remodeling again.

After years of decline, home-improvement spending increased 9% in 2012, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, which predicts a double-digit surge for 2013.

 Planning to get in on the renovation revival with a project of your own? You’ll want to utilize a tool that some home appraisers say was too often neglected during the last housing rush: a budget.

Establishing a project cap and looking for painless ways to reduce your overall cost will stop you from spending more than you can hope to recoup when it’s time to sell.

Here, a primer on setting — and sticking to — a renovation budget:

Find your number. To figure out what’s safe to spend, you’ll need to determine how much of your home’s value is represented by the room you’re planning to redo, says Omaha appraiser John Bredemeyer, a spokesperson for the Appraisal Institute, which sets national standards. Read more…

Owning a home – good for your wallet and good for the soul…

3 unexpected upsides of homeownership

Mood of the Market

Tara-Nicholle Nelson, Inman News,  Monday, June 18, 2012, link

 

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=51825523" target=blank>Homeowners painting wall</a> image via Shutterstock.Homeowners painting wall image via Shutterstock.

Lately, I’ve been surprising myself at how often I hear myself reference an event that happened 20 years ago or describe a dear friend as having been my “bestie” for the last decade. But there was no denying that I’m a bona fide grown-up when last year I got a note in the mail announcing my 10-year reunion — for law school, not high school!

Having moved to the San Francisco Bay Area specifically to go to law school, this means that I’m staring down my 15th year in the area; and having bought my first home just months after graduation, I’m looking at my 10th year of homeownership — though I’ve owned three different homes in that time, they’ve all been within the same metro area.

And it strikes me that, besides the obvious tax and long-term financial advantages of homeownership, I’ve become conscious of some of the less obvious, unintended advantages of owning a home in the same area for a relatively long period of time. I’d like to share some of them with you:

1. New, deeper relationships. I have relationships with neighbors, with local vendors and even with the natural beauty of my area that I likely would not have if I hadn’t owned my home and stayed in the same place for so long. I say this is an unexpected upside of homeownership because homeownership, especially given the down market of the last few years, has meant staying put, and because many of these relationships only deepen after years and years; I’m finding new depth in them, even now, that I didn’t have two or three years ago.

Some of these things seem relatively trivial, like the fact that I know that my tailor’s Maltese, Momo, leaves her brood at home while she gets to come to work with her mom every day. I know that every May, the private school campus across the street from my house dresses itself up as Hogwarts. I can count on Vernon, the park ranger at the lake, to keep me honest on how many laps I’ve run on any given day — and to gently relocate any snakes I happen to encounter en route.

Angelina at my favorite restaurant? She knows my order as soon as I give my name on the phone: No. 64 — no tomatoes, no onions.

Collectively, these sorts of relationships, not to mention those with my neighbors, are not trivial; in fact, they are part of what makes home feel like home. So are all the nooks and crannies of my street, the hidden spots and stairs and secret spaces that took me years to discover. And I’m not saying that a very long-term renter could never develop such relationships or have such discoveries, but I know these people are part of my commitment to the area that is intertwined with my experience of homeownership.

2. The ability to customize your home with your personality and your life as they change. When you own a home, you can tailor it precisely to whatever is going on in your life at any given time. The same backyard in which your kids’ playhouse and ball games take place when they’re 10 can quickly be repurposed for your vegetable garden and outdoor living room when they go to college. You can morph your family’s den into a chic dedicated office or yoga room as your needs change — or your man cave can convert into a nursery, as the facts require. To some extent, renters can put different furniture in rooms over time as they need to, but most (wisely) prefer not to invest serious cash into truly converting or remodeling rooms in homes they don’t own.

3. The ability to leverage your space. I’m not talking about refinancing, pulling cash out or flipping your home when the market goes up. Rather, I’m talking about how, if push comes to shove (or if you just have extra space), you can rent a room, a floor or the whole place out, for a night, a season or a year.

I’m talking about the writer I know who dog-sits while she works, letting her little canine charges run amok in their homes and yards and earning a side income at the same time.

I’m talking about the ability to put a pin in your place in the market, continuing to grow your equity and harvest your homeowner tax advantages, while you explore adventures by renting out your home or even trading it with another homeowner across the country (or the globe).

Owning a home is not for everyone, and it has definite pros and cons. But as I embark on my 10th year of homeownership, I wanted to share some of the unexpected upsides I’ve encountered with you.

It’s a seller’s market – time to spruce up!

Cheap ways you can increase your home’s value

Do your research before starting that project to know what buyers want

Bethany Lyttle, Forbes, June 8, 2012, link

Image: Backyard

Houlihan Lawrence Inc.

Create multiple seating areas. An empty stone terrace becomes an instant second dining room with the addition of patio furniture.

Selling your home this summer? Cheap tweaks can pay off big-time. “And even when these don’t equate to big dollars, they may help sell your property faster,” says Adam Hade, an associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence in southeastern New York state.

But choosing which improvements to make is where many homeowners go wrong, according to Hade. “They over-improve or improve in ways that don’t really matter to the buyers in their particular area,” he says. Exactly the reason you should consult with a qualified realtor in your neighborhood before investing in any improvement projects. They can tell you if buyers are looking for nurseries or extra bedrooms and can actually save you money by preventing well-intended but unnecessary upgrades.

One such superfluous improvement is splurging on high-end kitchen appliances. “While a buyer may appreciate chef-quality ranges or top-of-the-line fixtures, a well-kept lower-price brand will rarely break a deal,” says Hade. “On the other hand, worn carpet, dirty grout and clutter will give the impression that the house is not well-maintained and lacks sufficient storage,” he adds. Details like these make it difficult–and even impossible–for many prospective buyers to envision themselves living there.

A home’s layout is another adjustable feature sellers should take advantage of. Dina Landi of Rebecca Riskin & Associates in Montecito, California, suggests reconfiguring your home’s layout to meet market demands. Substituting one room’s use for another is a cheap way to transform a three-bedroom home with a den to a four-bedroom home. Or a home that has a dining room with doors can be reconfigured for use as a main floor master bedroom.

Landi also recommends pausing to inventory all the things you’ve collected over time and reassessing what to keep. As life unfolds, as children grow up, as careers take off, things accumulate. “Taking rooms back to their basics can make a huge difference, allowing a room’s millwork, architectural details, and distinctive details to shine,” she says. The price? Almost zero. All you have to do to make your rooms look bigger is remove pictures, souvenirs, all those stacks of books and magazines.

The best way to improve home values on the cheap is to do what needs doing–and nothing more. Why buy a new ceiling fan when replacing the blades will do? Why paint the entire exterior of your home when touching up any peeling paint will suffice? Taking this approach allows you to make several small improvements instead of taking on just one or two bigger ones. In short: Know your buyers. Choose projects carefully. Know when to quit.