Is a Fixer-Upper the Right Investment for Me?

You’ve read the headlines: Build sweat equity. DIY special. Needs some TLC. These homes are far from turnkey, but they can offer good opportunities. With the right renovations, fixer-uppers can be a profitable investment.

But is this type of purchase right for you? To answer this question, consider three important factors.

Your plans. If you’re hoping to get a good deal on real estate and flip it for a profit, this can be a good option. Another great option is buying a fixer-upper and doing the repairs yourself in order to transform the house into your dream home. On the other hand, if you have watched a lot of real estate shows and expect to spend a couple of weekends working on the home and then make big bucks, you’re probably on the wrong path. Keep in mind that renovations are often costly, time-consuming, and far more complicated than they look on television.

Your budget. Consider whether you can realistically afford the renovations. How much would it take to make the home liveable? Would basic cosmetic changes be enough, or do you need a budget for more extensive repairs? If major construction is required, you may qualify for a home improvement loan program. If you’d like more information about current loan programs, I can review what is available and connect you with a lender to check your eligibility.

Your time. Examine your calendar. First, consider if you will have a place to live while renovations are completed. If you’re selling your current home and need to move out by a certain date, you’ll need to make plans for temporary housing. You must also consider the time required to manage this type of project. You’ll need to hire and coordinate contractors, or, if you’re doing the work yourself, you’ll need to budget significant time for your labor.

Think a fixer-upper might be right for you? I can help you find deals in your area. Just give me a call.

Should It Stay or Should It Go with You?

Moving is an immense undertaking. Among the myriad tasks on your plate are decisions about what to take with you when you move. Should you bring those living room curtains, or let the new owner enjoy them? Should you try to bring Spidey, your favorite houseplant, to your new home?

These can be tough calls. Following are a few things that most homeowners are better off leaving behind when they move.

Household documents: Do you still have the manual for your refrigerator? Did the furnace you installed last year come with a ten-year warranty? If you have any documents that relate to structural components, utilities, or appliances that are staying with the home, leave these for the new owner. You won’t need them anymore, but the new owners might find them very handy.

Curtains: Sure, you may have chosen the perfect bedroom curtains to match your comforter, but taking curtains with you when you move is usually not worth the hassle. The window coverings aren’t likely to fit on your new set of windows anyway, and buyers typically appreciate when they are included in the price of the home. Even if they want to switch them out eventually, the current curtains will provide privacy in the meantime. And it will give you the opportunity for a decorating fresh start at your new place!

Paint: Do you have a stash of old paint cans from previous renovations? Do not put these in the “go” pile. Often, buyers like to have these on hand to complete touch-ups in the home. Place the cans in a location where the new owners can easily access them. If you discover the buyers do not want the paint, check your local regulations about proper disposal and follow these procedures to get rid of the cans before you move.

Houseplants: If you’re moving a long distance, try to find new homes for your houseplants rather than transport them to your new location. The conditions in a moving truck aren’t conducive to plant life, and the plants are likely to get damaged or die during the move. Consider gifting your plants to your green-thumbed friends and neighbors instead.

Home Decorating: What to Finish Before You Start

When it comes to home decorating, deciding where to start can sometimes feel overwhelming. Should you start with furniture shopping or painting? Should you hire a pro or do it yourself?

You may be looking at the decisions you make today for many years to come, so you want to make sure they are ones you can live with. To get the best results, start with a few pre-project tasks. These will give you perspective and guide your efforts in a good direction.

1. Reflect: Consider your current surroundings. What do you like? What would you like to change? Think about what appeals to you most regarding colors, fabrics, and styles. Avoid choosing things just because they are familiar or match your current décor. Determine what you truly like and let that guide your redecorating plans.

2. Write: Make a wish list. If cost were not a factor, what would you do with your space? Write everything down. This will give you a starting point. From this list, you can prioritize and decide what projects you can and will do based on room size and budget size.

3. Review: Look at pictures. See what others have done with similar spaces. Get ideas on how you can accomplish the look and feel that you want for your home. Find inspiration online and in magazines that can help you nail down the details for your redecorated surroundings. This research will get your creative juices flowing.

With a little reflecting, writing, and reviewing, you’ll be ready to tackle your redecorating projects with confidence. Now go ahead and get started!

Finding the Perfect Hues for Your Home

How do you usually choose the colors for your walls? Many consider their favorite shades, or they try to match existing furniture or other décor. This is how some people like to do it, but did you know that there are optimal colors for each room type?

The next time you’re ready to splash a new color on your surroundings, consider choosing a hue that suits the room’s purpose. Here are some guidelines you can use as you pick your paint.

Bedrooms: Green. This color is typically associated with calmness and relaxation. Green in the bedroom can help you rest well after a hectic day.

Offices: Blue. This shade is a productivity booster. As a calming color, it can help lower your heart rate so you can focus, yet it also stimulates energy so you can work hard.

Dining rooms: Red. The color red is believed to make people hungry. It’s an exciting color that whets the appetite, making it ideal for the dining room.

Kitchens: Yellow. When cooking, this bright, cheerful color adds to the joys of food preparation. It also creates an inviting atmosphere for the heart of your home, where family and guests often gather.

Living rooms: White. By reflecting light, white makes a room appear larger. This hue also encourages relaxation. These qualities make it the perfect choice for lounge spaces.

Media rooms: Black. It sounds extreme, but consider the atmosphere of a movie theater. Black, or another dark shade, allows viewers to focus on the screen as the only light-colored area of the room. The darkness also reduces reflections and improves viewing color.

Thinking that some of these may be too bold? Is your kitchen white, and you want it to stay that way?

If these colors don’t appeal to you for paint selections, consider adding splashes of these shades in each room. Add red decorations around the dining table. Add some green throw pillows in your bedroom. You might be surprised at how well these accents enhance the ambiance of each space.

You Don’t Want to Forget This Maintenance Task

Many homeowners focus on fall clean-up and winterizing in September, but don’t forget an often-overlooked task: dryer vent cleaning.

This seems like a simple to-do, and it is. Yet it’s commonly forgotten, which can lead to serious issues such as fire and carbon monoxide poisoning when the ductwork cannot vent properly.

To prevent these hazardous situations, make it a habit to clean your dryer vent regularly. Clean the small lint trap after each load, and clean the entire vent system once a year.

Depending on your laundry habits, you may need to clean the vent more often. If your clothes require more than one cycle to dry, your clothing has an odd, burning smell, or your laundry room feels unusually warm while the dryer is running, these are warning signs that you need to clean your vent.

When it’s time for this cleaning, use the following simple procedure to get the job done quickly and effectively.

1. Disconnect: Complete this process carefully. Start by unplugging your dryer from the power source. Then, remove any clamps from the vent pipe so you can detach it from the dryer. Next, pull the pipe away from the wall duct. If you have a gas dryer, take extra care during this process. You may need to contact a professional to avoid the risk of disturbing the gas line.

2. Clean: Use a vent cleaning kit to thoroughly clean your duct and vent. This kit will include a brush that extends the entire length of the duct to remove all debris. It might be easiest to work from the exterior of your home.

3. Reassemble: Reattach everything and enjoy a clean, efficient, safe dryer.

Property Appeal: What Makes a Home Safe?

Location. Layout. Landscaping. A host of home features affect a property’s appeal. One quality that tops many “must-have” lists is safety. What should buyers look for if they want a home that offers the best safety possible for themselves and their families?

Several features can improve the safety of a home to make it more desirable. As a bonus, these devices can also reduce the cost to insure a home. If you want to modernize your home with innovative safety measures or are looking for a new home with the latest safety features, consider these list toppers.

Smart Devices

The internet of things has taken home security and convenience to a new level. Homeowners are empowered with a host of tools and systems to keep their homes safe. In fact, technology has become so prevalent that few items aren’t equipped with smart features. Appliances offer improved safety and efficiency. Garage doors offer additional security. High-tech lawn systems prevent overwatering and flooding. A few devices are particularly desirable for homeowners interested in boosting the safety of their surroundings. These include:

Water alerts: Did you know one of the most common homeowners insurance claims is water damage? Smart leak-detection sensors can now prevent these calamities. They alert homeowners of leaks so they can take immediate action to prevent damage.

Fire detection: What happens if no one is home to hear the smoke detector? A smart fire detector will alert a homeowner via a Wi-Fi-connected device anywhere in the world. This can improve emergency response times and minimize damage.

Burglar deterrents: Smart technology has enhanced security on many fronts. Homeowners can deter thieves with timed lighting, access smart door locks to maintain tighter security, and monitor video surveillance from anywhere.

Wondering what features make the most sense for your market? Contact our office. We can review current trends and determine what safety features to look for in your next home.

Top Design Trends for Today’s Homes

Wondering what’s hot and what’s not for interior design? Whether you’re hoping to create a buyer-friendly look as you prep your home for sale or simply want to stay on trend, these finishes will help you keep your surroundings looking sharp.

On the walls: Neutral is still in, but cold whites are fading away. Designers are reducing their use of these cold tones in favor of softer whites. These trending paint colors help make modern spaces feel warmer and more welcoming.

In the kitchen: Designers are moving away from all-white kitchens to add splashes of color. Deep blues, greys, and greens are growing in popularity for kitchen cabinet choices. All the cabinets don’t have to be the same color, either. One hue may be chosen for top cabinetry and accented with another shade for bottom cabinets. Contrasting metals in the hardware and fixtures complete the trend.

Off the presses: Recent enhancements to printing processes and modern materials have increased the quality of faux finishes. This emerging technology is allowing homeowners and designers to achieve the look of stone and other high-end finishes for flooring at a fraction of the cost and with easier installation. Choices such as marble and concrete will likely see a downturn as they are replaced by faux options.

From the outdoors: Homeowners are looking to connect with nature in their décor. Wood finishes are a top solution. Wood offers beauty and flexibility to apply to a variety of surroundings and suits a broad range of tastes. Designers can also incorporate this material to create a lighter and airier space, which is what many clients are seeking.

For the future: Builders and buyers are more environmentally aware than ever before. Current trends include eco-friendly materials and processes that reduce a home’s carbon footprint. Contractors and homeowners are striving to make sustainable choices that have a positive long-term impact on the environment.

What do you think about these trends? Have your design preferences changed over time? If you’re looking for any of these in a new home or thinking of making changes to your home, let me know how I can help.

Moving? Avoid These Major Mistakes

You might say that moving involves a lot of … moving parts. It can be difficult to coordinate all the aspects of pulling up stakes and putting down roots in a new place. Considering these challenges, it’s no surprise mistakes are made. From minor inconveniences to major disasters, moving blunders make the entire process even harder. Here are some of the most common missteps to avoid during your next move.

Making it a DIY project: Many moves can be handled by the homeowner, but not all. Be honest with yourself (and your friends). Do you really have the strength, time, and skill to pack, load, unload, and unpack all of your belongings? Consider any fragile or valuable items. Keep in mind any oversized belongings. Movers come with a cost, but so does trying to handle a project beyond your capabilities. Personal injury and property damage often end up costing more than movers would have.

Allotting the wrong amount of time: How long will it take you to pack? Many people under- or overestimate this time period. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you will be rushed and stressed when moving day arrives and you’re not ready. If you start too early, you may have to unpack and repack things that you need before moving day. A good rule of thumb is to count the number of bedrooms in your home, then add one. This is the number of days it should take you to pack. If you have a lot of items that will require careful wrapping and storage, add another day.

Skipping the purge: Moving is the ideal time to get rid of things you no longer need. As you pack, make three piles: trash, donate, and keep. This requires a little effort and organization, but the process will make your move more efficient and will save you time, money, and hassles in the long run.

Forgetting to call a real estate agent: When it’s time to move, a real estate agent is one of your most valuable resources. This professional can sell your current home, find your new dream home, and walk you through the entire process. Agents have been through all this before and can provide resources and advice as you transition from one home to another. Don’t miss their input!

Why Is ‘For Sale by Owner’ Such a Bad Idea?

When it’s time to sell your home, you may wonder which route to take: partner with a real estate agent or go it alone with FSBO. Which will deliver better results? Here are three reasons you should avoid the FSBO path.

The paperwork is daunting: Buyer offers. Real estate contracts. Lender forms. Inspection reports. Closing documents. Not every homeowner is prepared for the piles of paperwork involved in a real estate transaction. Details and deadlines can easily be missed. Bad deals can be made. A real estate agent is familiar with all the documentation involved, will walk the seller through the process, and will handle much of the paperwork required.

The process is challenging: Buyers want to see your home when it’s convenient for them. Without an agent to show your home, it’s up to you to make all arrangements for showings. This includes getting your home ready for the market. What work should be done? What’s worth the investment of time and money? An agent could answer these questions for you. If you don’t have one, you’re on your own to prep your home, show it to buyers, negotiate offers, and get the deal to closing.

The cost is more than you think: A common reason for choosing FSBO is to try to save money. FSBO isn’t as cheap as you might think. You’ll have to cover all marketing costs, and you’ll have to devote your personal time to these efforts. And it might take longer to sell due to the limited exposure you can get without an agent marketing the home. To top it off, FSBO homes typically sell for less than homes listed by real estate agents. The net result: zero savings.

Downsizing Prep: Common Heirloom Errors

The kids have all moved out. As you approach retirement, you know downsizing is in your future. It’s time to start considering what that will entail.

Realistically, you won’t have room in your new home for everything that has accumulated over the past two or three decades.

Don’t make the same mistakes many downsizers do by holding on to items that should be purged.

Before it’s time to move, take stock of what is in your home. Have you kept anything for your kids that they really don’t want? Have an open conversation with your children to determine whether what you consider a precious family heirloom would simply be clutter in your child’s home.

Put the following items at the top of the list to discuss. These are three of the most common things parents keep that their kids would prefer never to inherit.

Books: Even if your children love to read, it’s likely they don’t want your old books (and they probably have their own growing collection they will have to purge some day). If you suspect any of your books are valuable, do a search online or contact a book antiquarian. Otherwise, consider donating the books to a library or used book store.

Fine dinnerware: Has your child ever used a cup and saucer for morning coffee? Would he or she use silver flatware? For that matter, have you used any of these dishes in the past year?

Children and grandchildren typically don’t want to store multiple place settings of porcelain dishes. Go ahead and sell them to the consignment shop or to a company that offers replacement pieces for consumers seeking specific patterns.

Paper piles: Do you have shoeboxes of greeting cards, letters, and photos stashed under your bed? Piles of paper are overwhelming and nearly impossible for others to sort through.

Before downsizing, go through these papers and say goodbye. Read through cards once more; then recycle them. Scan photos to create digital files, or frame your favorites to pass along. Then get rid of the rest.

Moving? Make Yourself at Home Anywhere

Moving to a new home, a new city, or a new country can be exciting, but it can also be challenging. In the midst of unfamiliar surroundings, newcomers may find it difficult to get plugged in to the area. Fortunately, there are a few tried and true steps you can take to help yourself feel at home after a move. Try these tips.

Tap your hobbies. Look for local communities built around something you enjoy. Are you a runner? Seek out a running club. Do you love making crafts? There’s probably a local crafting group. From stamp collecting to scuba diving, your favorite hobby can help you connect with like-minded individuals and form connections in your new locale.

Use an app. If you know about a move in advance, you can use social media and other apps to find out about the people and places near your new home. Look for restaurants you might want to try, parks you’d like to visit, and unique shops you might enjoy. Get recommendations from locals. Armed with online research, you may feel like you already know your new home far before moving day arrives.

Find current connections. Are you a member of any organizations? Use alumni associations, professional affiliations, or service groups to help you connect. As with hobby groups, other members of these societies are potential sources of information, referrals, and friendship.

Say yes. One of the fastest ways to get plugged in to your new neighborhood is to make a habit of saying yes. If you get invited to do something, don’t turn down the invitation. If you’ve never tried salsa dancing before, don’t say no because it’s outside your comfort zone. Be willing to try new things. Look for unique opportunities and seize them. You might be surprised at how many new enjoyable activities, people, and places you discover!

Ask your agent. As experts in their local markets, real estate agents are another great source of information. For the inside scoop on transportation, events, and other helpful tips, make use of this valuable resource.

Do You Need a Property Manager?

If you already own a rental property, or you’re looking to get into the business, the idea of having to deal with tenants and managing the property might be daunting.

But that’s where property managers step in.

A credible property manager will take over the responsibilities that rental owners might not want to handle. This could include surveying the market and area to determine a reasonable and competitive rate to charge for rent. Property managers can also help you sell a home by generating solid leads through a variety of channels, including social media, advertising, and the multiple listing service.

Once your property has caught the eye of prospective tenants, the property manager can help you vet the tenants to make sure any potential renters will be responsible and reliable. Once the tenants have been screened and approved and have moved in, property managers will even be able to protect you from potential lawsuits by staying up to date on your city’s laws, rules, and regulations to make sure you’re in the clear.

From there, they’ll be able to take over the less desirable parts of property management, like handling emergency repairs, creating monthly expenditure reports, taking care of important tax filings, and performing home visits. Given the wide range of services that property managers provide, you might now be wondering how much they charge. Fees vary widely depending on where you live, but most managers will charge one month’s rent to secure a tenant and then charge a monthly fee to manage the property.

As with all things related to buying and renting property, you’ll want to make sure you do your research before hiring a property manager. But once you find one that is experienced and dependable, you might be amazed by the peace of mind their services can bring.

Your real estate agent can assist by recommending a reputable company.

Five Interior Design Disasters to Avoid

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that saying rings true for how one chooses to decorate one’s home. Therefore, one person’s love of leopard print could be another person’s decorating disaster. If you are looking to sell your home this year, change up or avoid these top five no-nos.

Wall-to-wall carpeting. Having wall-to-wall carpet is the number one no-no. According to Jonathan Scott of the famed Property Brothers, no one is looking to buy a house with carpet – which can hold many of life’s unsavory side effects like dirt, stains, and hair.

Mirrored walls. In theory, this decorating idea should make a small space appear larger. However, according to Scott, the effect can actually make your room look like an “’80s dance hall.” Let the dance hall die and opt for full-length mirrors instead.

Clutter. When it comes to decorating to sell, less is almost always more. Be particularly picky about the foyer, since this provides the initial impression of the interior. Keep shoes, winterwear, bags, and other daily-use items organized and out of sight. Rearrange or remove furniture and décor throughout the home to make each room appear as spacious and inviting as possible.

Loud wallpaper. Although wallpaper can add that pop of color that a room desperately needs, a loud or dizzying pattern can turn off buyers. If you want to add appealing hues, stick with paint.

White on white. Although beautiful, the color white is not realistic when it comes to life’s many mishaps. Realtor.com recommends that homeowners gravitate toward rich shades such as rust browns, black, and forest green.

Could Driverless Cars Drive Real Estate Values?

Imagine a world where humans never have to worry about wasted commute times. Imagine being able to use that time to work, spend quality time with your kids, plan dinner, or catch up on some much-needed z’s.

Sounds magical, doesn’t it? That magic could be coming to a street near you, as driverless cars are poised to become mainstream technology worldwide.

As Tesla, GM, and BMW clamber to get their fleets on the streets, these autonomous cars could have a far-reaching effect on industries other than auto.

When the human is removed from behind the wheel, the potential for error diminishes. Therefore, safety precautions such as auto insurance, parking tickets, speed traps, and law enforcement may no longer be needed.

These vehicles could also have a significant impact on the real estate market. When autonomous cars become the new norm, public transit will no longer be the go-to for those who are unable to drive.

The loss of public transit could have a domino effect on the real estate industry, since cities would no longer be built around transit systems. What was once considered less desirable residential real estate may become more popularbecause of the distance from transit hubs. According to an article in Forbes, these areas could offer a “greater appeal [that] could translate into increasing demand and rising property values.”

The long-reaching impact these cars will have on society is still being mapped, but it should make for an interesting ride.

Increase Property Value by Avoiding These Landscape Blunders

Everyone knows the importance of making a good first impression. It’s no different when it comes to your home’s curb appeal, which refers to your property’s overall appearance from the street.

To make your home’s “frosting” as appealing as possible, you’ll definitely want to think about planting stunning blooms and making sure your landscaping is well manicured and maintained. Implementing a long-term landscaping plan can help increase your property value when it comes time to sell.

When you go to plant, make sure to avoid the below common landscaping mistakes that homeowners make when planting trees and shrubs.

First, avoid planting invasive tree species. Some such species, like bamboo, grow quickly and actually push out native plants, which does tremendous damage to an area’s biodiversity.

Another no-no is planting too much and too close together. When too many trees and plants are crammed together, the greenery doesn’t have enough space to grow bigger, stronger, or healthier. While aesthetically this could look good for the first few years, the plants will eventually mature and fight each other for light and nutrients. So, unless you want a property covered in dead leaves and branches, it’s best to save your coins and plant less.

When planting anything, you’ll want to make sure you’re not too close to home. This, professionals warn, is a nightmare in the making. Trees planted too close to the home will, over time, get woody and grow too close, which will bring bugs and moisture inside. The resulting dampness could actually lead to rot inside your house, and the tree’s big roots could damage your property’s foundation or basement.

When it comes to planting and maintaining your home’s green exterior, do your research and exercise restraint. While trees and shrubs certainly boost your home’s value and curb appeal, some green mistakes could cost you.

Learn the Language of Lighting to Enhance Your Living Space

A beautifully lit home is warm and welcoming. A distinctive glow can set the scene, enhance a room, highlight a detail, or make a workspace downright workable. But lighting has a language all its own.

Do you know the lingo? Flush, recessed, pendant, starbursts, pots … the list goes on. Where should you begin?

In a recent houselogic article, columnist Emily Dunham writes, “… lighting can be a bear to understand. The world has its own language (know what lumens and Kelvins are?), and increasing costs can make decisions intimidating.” Dunham notes that LED lights can cost as much as $35, and Apple sells a new number that goes for about $65.

But with careful planning, you can light up your life and go easy on the budget. Here’s a quick lighting language lesson to get started.

Kelvin is a scale of measurement for the “color” a light produces.

Wattage tells you how much electricity a bulb consumes.

Lumens are the amount of light or brightness you get from a bulb.

The next important lesson is lighting layers. Since every room has different lighting requirements, it’s important to think in these three layers: ambient, task and accent.

Ambient is the general lighting in a room, often coming from overhead. Task lighting illuminates an area where a particular task is completed. Accent lighting highlights something to which you want to draw attention.

Think of the activities you do in each room and consider the options. For example, in the kitchen, you’ll want to avoid overhead lights that create shadows on the counters. Instead, choose side lights or under-the-cabinet lights to illuminate the tasks at hand.

The size of your room also dictates the lighting you need. It’s wise to use at least two types of lighting to create the ideal effect.

Now that you know the basics, go shed some light!

Want to Sell Your Home Faster? Try These Tips

When you’re getting ready to list your house, the goal isn’t just to sell – it’s to sell quickly! The longer your house is on the market, the less likely it is to fetch top dollar.

Want to sell your house as quickly as possible? These tips are essential.

Hire a Real Estate Agent and follow their advice

Some sellers are tempted to go it alone. But for a quick sale that maximizes profit, go with a Real Estate agent – and listen to their suggestions. Their market knowledge is invaluable when it comes to pricing and marketing your home.

Boost your curb appeal

Give your front door a fresh coat of paint (punchy red, blue, or yellow is a nice way to switch it up), add hanging baskets and planters to your front stoop, and resod your lawn. A home that looks well cared for is more inviting to prospective buyers.

Stage it

If you really want to sell fast and you have the budget required, allow a professional stager to come and work their magic. Can’t swing the cost? Borrow some of their tricks: Get rid of all personal items, use mirrors to create the illusion of light and space, add throw pillows and blankets to seating, and put fresh flowers or small potted plants in each room.

Be flexible

Selling fast means maximizing the number of buyers coming to see your house, so be willing to vacate at a moment’s notice. Work with your agent to create as many viewing times as possible.

Is Remodeling Worth the Effort for Resale?

At some point during the chaos of every remodel, one question is asked. “Is it worth it?” Is it worth the upheaval? Is it worth the cost? Most important, is it worth the effort when it comes time to sell?

The answer: it depends.

It depends on where you live and what you choose to remodel. For example, the West Coast sees a higher return than does the Mid-Atlantic, according to CNBC.

With regard to specific projects, the 2018 cost-vs.-value report from Remodeling Magazine shows that smaller upgrades vs. larger remodels get you the most bang for your buck.

According to the report, those who remodel on a massive scale should expect a return of 56%. This is less than the steady return of 64% over the past two years.

Why the drop? Craig Webb, editor of Remodeling Magazine, believes it is because some real estate professionals suspect their local market may be reaching its peak. He explains, “Consequently, spending a lot of money does not automatically mean your house will just ride the escalator up and be worth a lot more.”

So, if you are planning a remodel in 2018, the rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Forgo a major kitchen overhaul for a simple upgrade that could recoup you 81.10% vs. 53.50%.

Instead of building that addition to the master suite (ROI 48.3%), consider something with more curb appeal, such as a new garage door (ROI 98.3%), manufactured stone veneer (ROI 97.10%), or a wood deck (ROI 83%).

When asking yourself if all the effort is worth it, keep your real estate agent in mind. This professional knows your market inside and out and can best advise you about whether your potential remodel will help sell your home quickly. Seek his or her input before starting your next project.

Closing Costs: It’s about More Than Your Down Payment

The first step in buying a home is deciding on a budget. How much house can you afford? Within what price range will you shop?

A down payment is, unfortunately, only one part of that budget. To correctly determine the affordability of a home, it’s essential that prospective buyers consider the costs that arise at the time of closing.

Closing costs vary from state to state. There are different kinds of closing costs, too: lender costs, including origination and document preparation fees, and nonlender costs, including appraisal and survey fees. Some of these costs are required in certain states, while others are not. It’s also important to note how the market can impact closing costs. In New York City, for example, home prices are higher, which can result in higher lender fees.

In today’s market, buyers seeking a conventional loan typically need a 20% down payment to receive optimal rates. As buyers plan their purchase, it’s important to factor in closing costs on top of this 20%.

The final total is dependent on the location of the property. Here’s a look at how approximated closing costs add up in a handful of cities across the country, assuming a loan amount of $200,000. Consult with your real estate agent about closing costs in your area – he or she knows the local market best.

    • Denver, Colorado: $1,980
  • New York, New York: $6,843
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: $2,417
  • Portland, Oregon: $2,122
  • Los Angeles, California: $2,197
  • Birmingham, Alabama: $2,112
  • Anchorage, Alaska: $2,138

“Is It Done Yet?” Home Remodeling with Kids

Spring home improvements can be stressful, especially when you’re living in the middle of it. Add children to the mix, and the tension increases.

But you don’t need to take a vacation while your home is being remodeled – even if walls are coming down. Here are some tips on how to continue to live as a family during a major renovation.

Your children’s space – and their routines – will be disrupted. To avoid comments like “When can we use the kitchen again?” share the construction schedule with them.

Prepare for disruptions: Kitchens and bathrooms are often the rooms being remodeled; unfortunately, they’re also the most used. If possible, consider completing one room at a time. Set up a temporary kitchen in another room and prepare meals in advance that can be quickly reheated. Get the kids to help you devise a bathroom schedule; they may be more inclined to follow it if they’re involved.

Make safety a priority: Know where your kids are during work hours. Make sure they understand the safety risks, and put lots of space between them and the work. Also ensure your contractor stores tools away safely at the end of the day.

Dust can be hazardous for anyone with allergies. Plastic sheeting should be used to seal off the area under construction from your temporary living space, but you also may want to consider closing the heating and cooling vents. As well, your contractor should use nontoxic paints and stains.

Choose your contractor wisely. Make sure the company has a reputation for completing jobs safely, and be prepared to pay more for contractors who are properly insured and follow regulations. Ask them how comfortable they are with children on site and make sure everyone agrees to and obeys the safety rules.

Finally, when it’s finished, have fun together in the new space. After all, you – and the kids – deserve it.