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Budget friendly projects with a big ROI

7/20/2016

Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some renovations may cost a lot but not add significant value to your home. This list goes in the opposite direction: Here are some inexpensive home improvement projects that will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, but will also increase the home’s value.

High quality ceiling fans: In a recent National Association of Home Builders survey, ceiling fans rankedNo. 1 as the most-wanted decorative item. If your ceiling fans are outdated, replace them with something in the $400 range—it’ll make a big difference when it’s time to sell.


Trees: Mature trees can be worth as much as $10,000 toward the value of your home. Trees also protect your home from the elements and prevent erosion.


Energy efficiency: Buyers are increasingly interested in saving energy, so any efficiency update is worthwhile. Switching from a wood to gas fireplace is a great start.


Outdoor lighting: Exterior lighting is great for highlighting the accents of your home, and you can typically expect a 50 percent return on investment.


Molding: You can finish a room with crown molding or railing for as little as $1.50 per foot if you take a DIY approach, and it’s extremely desirable among prospective buyers.

Five places to inspect in your home

7/18/2016



Our homes require regular maintenance, both to protect our personal safety and to avoid costly repairs. Here are five of the most important items you should check in your home.


The fire extinguisher: It’s recommended that you keep at least one fire extinguisher on every floor. You should also keep one in the garage and in the basement.


Staircases and banisters: A loose railing or banister could spell disaster. Regularly check your stairs and the accompanying railings to make sure they’re secure.


Smoke detectors: Be diligent about testing your smoke alarms (and carbon monoxide detectors) and replacing batteries. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month, and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries when you adjust your clocks for daylight savings.


Electrical outlets: Outlets in kitchens and bathrooms should have a “test” button. It’s part of a system that prevents electrocution. Plug in a hair dryer, and push the “test” button—the hair dryer should turn off right away.


Water quality: If you’ve never tested your water for harmful contaminants, you can purchase a kit to test it yourself, or hire a professional.

 

Home staging: Does it make a difference?

7/7/2016

 

It seems to be universally accepted that home staging will help your home sell faster or for the best price—it’s been the common practice in the real estate business for a long time, and on the surface it seems like a no-brainer. Of course potential buyers will be more interested if a home is properly decorated, right?
That’s not necessarily true, according to a recent academic study. The study surveyed 820 homebuyers by showing them one of six virtual tours of the same property. In some instances the home was decorated with traditional furniture and color schemes, while in others more eccentric furniture and colors were used. In other tours there was no furniture at all, just empty rooms.
The overall results of the study were that staging is unlikely to increase a home’s sale price, and that staging isn’t quite as important as everyone believes.
Of course, real estate trends vary greatly from market to market. If you have questions about staging, talk to your trusted real estate professional.

 

What's It Worth?

7/1/2016

What's it Worth?  

Maybe you're thinking of selling, maybe you're thinking of refinancing, or maybe you're just curious about the market. But the question is, "What is that domicile of your's worth?”

Such a simple question should be returned with a simple answer, right? Well unfortunately, determining the value of your home--or any home for that matter--can be a tricky process. You can go online and nowadays there are endless websites that will promise you a fast answer with fancy charts and graphs. As tempting as it may be to trust this information, be wary of letting a computer program tell you what your largest investment is worth.

The trouble with these websites is that they have little to no local market information. They are not aware that a new park is being built, or that a four-lane highway is being re-routed, or that you've lovingly cared for and maintained your home.

The bottom line is this: If you're serious about getting an informative valuation for your home you should contact a local real estate professional. These professionals work with the actual people who will ultimately determine the value of your home--the home buyer themselves. This is their profession and they will be happy to sit with you and explain the current market conditions that affect your home value.

How HOA's Work

6/27/2016

How do HOAs work?

 

When you purchase a home, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a homeowners association fee, especially in gated communities, townhouses, condominiums, and other similar planned neighborhoods. The idea is to keep common areas clean and maintained, and there’s usually an HOA board that is responsible for setting the rules and regulations.


Each HOA is different, but most have the same core elements. You’ll typically pay your HOA fees either monthly or annually, and it’s an important factor to consider when you’re weighing your options for a new home. So what is typically included in your HOA fees?
First, the fun stuff Amenities are typically the big perk of living in a community with an HOA. While you lose out on some of the freedom of living without an HOA, you instead get community amenities like a maintained pool, gym, clubhouse, tennis courts, and other amenities. The HOA fees pay for cleaning and maintenance, so—in theory—you’ll always have a clean pool whenever you want to use it.


Protecting the community HOA fees often contribute to insurance for the community amenities, as well as a fund for unexpected repairs to damaged community property—think damage from weather or accidents.


General maintenance Your HOA fees will go toward maintaining the general safety and upkeep of the community. This means things like elevator maintenance for condominiums, snow removal, and trash/recycling services.


Be active in the association There may be a board of directors, but homeowners associations exist for the betterment of the entire community, and every voice matters. HOA meetings—and the amenities they support—provide great opportunities to meet your neighbors and make your community a better place.  

Three ways to ease your fears about making a move

6/23/2016

 

With low inventory in many markets throughout the country, many homeowners are afraid to sell their homes because they’re concerned that they may not be able to find a new one. This can be a real problem, but if you are seeking to sell—whether to upgrade or find a new neighborhood—there are a few ways to combat the low inventory.


Look to buy first In most markets it is a real mistake to put your home up for sale before you start looking for your new property. Identify the geographic area where you are interested in buying. Even if you don't see anything on Zillow, it doesn't mean you can't or won't find the right home.


Think outside the box Be proactive! Keep in mind that there are probably many people like you who want to make a move but are afraid as well. Have your real estate agent send a letter to the neighborhoods in the geographic areas where you want to live. The letter should be heartfelt and personal while announcing that you are ready to buy a home in that neighborhood. You could find a home to buy that may not even be currently listed or for sale.


Protect yourself legally Each state varies in how the purchase process is conducted. Talk to your real estate professional about adding a clause in the purchase contract for the home you are selling that will enable you to not sell the home if you cannot find a suitable home to buy.

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