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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Improve the Value of Your Home

Maintaining and increasing your home’s value can pay off in major ways. Not only does helping your home hold value help it sell for its full amount, it can also help your home sell more quickly, help maintain your neighbor’s home values, and ensure that you’re not overpaying in property taxes.
These 10 projects are listed from least to most expensive, and may help you increase your home’s value. Best part: None of these projects cost more than $2,000, so you don’t have to break the bank to take on these projects either.

—-Low Cost: Budget under $500—-
LAWN FERTILIZING
Fertilizing your lawn may not seem as though it’s doing much for your home’s value, but a well-maintained lawn plays a major role in your home’s curb appeal. Curb appeal is how well your property looks from the road, and has a major impact on your home’s value and resale. Fertilizing a dry, brown, or otherwise patchy lawn can help boost your home’s curb appeal, and in turn its value.
Cost: The average cost of lawn fertilizing is around $.03 a square foot assuming a 6,000 square foot lawn, for a total of $180. Total costs range from $.02 a square foot for a DIY job to $.04 a square foot during peak season.
Money Saving Tips
  • If you are able to tackle this job DIY, you can save a lot of money (which you can then use to plant shrubs or trees to further increase your home’s curb appeal).
  • Tackle this job at the beginning of the season to avoid paying peak prices.
INSTALL AN ATTIC FAN
The attic is one of the most overlooked areas of the home when it comes to the impact on the rest of the home. Attics that are not properly insulated can become superheated, which can overheat the roof, cause ice dams, and raise your energy bills. Installing an attic fan can help protect your roof, lower your energy bills, and improve your home values.
Cost: The average cost to install a gable mount electric attic fan is around $275 for spaces up to 2,500. Total costs range from $39 for a wind-powered vent to $321 for an electric fan to cool up to 3,000 feet.
Money Saving Tips
  • Look into getting a solar-powered fan, which will not only run when you need it, but will also lower your monthly energy costs to run it as well.
PAINT A ROOM IN YOUR HOME
Dingy, old, or out of fashion paint can really hurt the resale of your home. By giving a room in your home a fresh coat of paint, you can help remedy this problem. Choose neutral paints in light colors to get the most universal appeal, particularly if the rooms are small or dark, as these colors will help open them up and make them feel larger.
Cost: The average cost to paint a 200-square-foot room is around $378, with a full range between $162 for DIY to $459 for rooms that need more than one coat of paint on the walls.
Money Saving Tips
  • If you are able to tackle this job DIY, you can save a significant amount of money, allowing you to do more than one room.
  • Choose a color that is close to what you already have on the walls so you won’t have to apply more than one coat.
SMALL BATHROOM UPDATE
While a major bathroom renovation can be costly, you don’t actually have to complete one to help boost the value of your home. Sometimes it’s enough to tackle just one or two areas of the bathroom, replacing old or outdated items with new ones to help freshen up the space and help it function better. Things like installing a new, eco-friendly water saving toilet can have a major impact on the value of the room as a whole.
Cost: The cost to install a new toilet is between $300 and $500 with a total range between $100 for a DIY job to $700 for a higher-end model.
Money Saving Tips
  • Tackle small jobs yourself, such as toilet or faucet installation.
  • Look for lightweight acrylic tubs, which are less expensive to buy and install.
—-Mid-Range Cost: Budget under $1,000—-
INSTALL A KITCHEN BACKSPLASH
The backsplash is one of the most personal and trendiest places in the kitchen, because it’s so easy to install and update. Most backsplashes are only around 30-square-feet in size, so even costly tile doesn’t add up to a lot when installed here. You can use the backsplash to update an older or darker kitchen by using glass tiles to reflect light, or trendy mosaics to boost style, any of which will help boost resale value.
Cost: The average cost to install 16-square-feet of ceramic backsplash is between $400 and $600, with a total range between $300 for lower quality ceramic tile to $1000 for high end, premium tile.
Money Saving Tips
  • Use small amounts of high end mosaic tiles and cut them into strips or square for borders and accents to brighten up a plain field of tile.
  • Install the tile yourself to save on the installation costs.
INSTALL NEW FLOOR TILE
Old floor tile can really bring down a room, particularly if the flooring is dingy, cracked, or just out of date. Installing new ceramic floor tile can brighten up the room and improve its value at the same time. Newer tile floors are much easier to clean and maintain, and have grout joints that are both smaller and easier to keep clean than in years past, which makes this job a lasting one. Most areas that use tile – entryways, bathrooms, or kitchens – tend to be small enough to keep the costs down as well.
Cost: The average costs to install ceramic tile on the flooring of a bathroom is around $700 to $900 with total costs ranging from $550 for low-grade tile to $1,000 for tile with radiant heat beneath it.
Money Saving Tips
  • Install the tile yourself to keep the costs of this job down.
  • Look for odd-lot tile sales to get higher-end tiles at a lower price to keep the overall cost down.
—-Highest Cost: Budget under $2,000—-
REPLACE AN OLD BATHTUB
Old bathtubs and bath/shower units can really lower the value of your home, particularly if they are filled with mold, mildew, and old water stains. Replacing your old tub can have a big impact on the way the rest of the bathroom looks, which can therefore have a big impact on your home’s resale value.
Cost: The cost of installing a new bathtub is around $1,006 for a standard fiberglass tub/shower with a total range from $143 for a low cost bathtub installed DIY to $1,857 for a high-end cast iron bathtub.
Money Saving Tips
  • Use a lightweight acrylic tub or tub/shower enclosure, which costs a lot less than cast iron tubs. They are also a lot lighter, and therefore cost less to install as well.
INSTALL BAMBOO FLOORING
New wood flooring can transform a home. Wood flooring also has a major impact on a home’s value and its ability to be sold in a timely way. Bamboo flooring is an eco-friendly wood flooring option that also costs less than many other hardwoods, giving you the look of wood for less, along with sustainable design.
Cost: The average cost to install bamboo flooring in a 16 x 16 room is around $1,250, although costs can vary greatly by region.
Money Saving Tips
  • Float the floor for an easy installation that you can tackle DIY.
  • Purchase the flooring from a local seller to cut down on shipping costs.
REPLACE OLD CARPETS
Nothing lowers the resale value of a home faster than old carpet. Carpets can be notorious for hanging onto smells, stains, and allergens, which make them a major turn off for home buyers. Replacing old carpet with new can have a major impact on your home’s value.
Cost: The average cost to install new carpet in a 16 x 16 room is between $1,200 and $1,400, although costs can vary greatly by region.
Money Saving Tips
  • Cover up old carpets temporarily using new throw rugs to hide stains.
  • Invest in stain-resistant carpeting to lengthen the amount of time before you need to replace again.
REPAIR WATER DAMAGE
Water damage can take a major toll on your home’s value. Water can cause wood rot, mildew, and black mold in your home, as well as unsightly stains, all of which can lower your home’s value if you don’t repair them in a timely way. Tackling water damage should always be done as soon as possible to help minimize the amount of damage that will ultimately occur.
Cost: The average cost to repair water damage in an 80-square-foot bathroom is about $23 a square foot, which translates to around $1874, although this figure can be impacted by what the damage is and how much needs to be replaced.
Money Saving Tips
  • Use fans after the water has receded to help dry things out before damage like mold can set in.
  • Do the tear out of damaged materials yourself to help eliminate some professional fees.
IMPROVE THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME
No matter how small your budget is, there are always things that you can do to help increase or maintain your home’s value.

Source: Realtor Magazine

Monday, April 18, 2016

Scam Warning

Scammers are diverting home purchase money by posing as one of the settlement service providers in residential transactions. They succeed by hacking into the email account of the consumer or lender or title agent and learning transaction details. Then they set up a false email and trick the buyer into sending the money to them.

Source: National Association of Realtors®
Fraud Alert Video

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tax Credits for Homeowners

Homeselfe, a home energy assessment app and web service for homeowners, recently released a list of several significant tax credits available to those who made energy efficiency upgrades to their homes in the 2015 tax year.

Homeowners can earn up to $500 on their return by taking into account small upgrades made last year, including:
  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Advanced main air-circulating fans (tax credit amount of $50)
  • Insulation (10 percent of the cost, up to $500)
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar earns a tax credit of $300)
  • Windows, doors and skylights (tax credit amount is 10 percent of the cost excluding labor)
Homeselfe includes flowcharts and other information to help homeowners determine whether they qualify for energy-related tax credits.

Source: Daily Real Estate News, Homeselfe http://www.homeselfe.com/home-energy-tax-credits/

Monday, November 2, 2015

List in the Winter

Some home owners may be hesitant to list in the winter, believing the cold-weather season won’t attract many buyers or leave the best impression of their property. But while spring may be the peak home shopping season, owners may be able to sell their home for more in the winter.

The real estate brokerage Redfin found that on average, sellers net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than they do from June through November. The study found this is true even in cold-weather cities like Boston and Chicago. What’s more, homes listed in the winter tended to sell faster than those in the spring too.

“Timing always depends on supply and demand,” says Christine Dossman, a real estate professional in Indianapolis. Evaluate the number of days on the market for current and recently sold listings. If most listings are lingering for more than 60 days, home owners may find waiting until spring when more buyers emerge as more beneficial.

But “if properties are selling quickly, take that as a green light to list,” Peggy Vee, a real estate broker in Vienna, Va., told TIME.

However, winter home sellers need to be wise with their approach, agents say. The winter season needs special pricing considerations since there tend to be fewer shoppers, and as such, it can be a bad time to test the market and list high. Also, winter buyers will be more attune to issues like heating – the cost and maintenance. Also, home stagers say that the gray days ahead can leave a gloomy impression of the home too. They urge home sellers to still place a high importance on curb appeal such as with basic landscaping and cool-weather plants like holly to liven up the outdoor landscape. Home sellers can also try to create a sense of warmth inside the home, such as with throw blankets in the living room and stacked wood by the fireplace.

Source: TIME

***Many homeowners that were trying to sell during the warmer months, decide to take their home off the market as the cooler weather and holidays approach. Their thought is to relist the property in the springtime when there are more people "looking" at homes that are for sale. Not only are there more people looking, there are more properties to choose from.

In my experience, those homeowners that keep their property available for purchase during the "slower" months ultimately find that the prospective buyers are more serious about buying and there is far less competition. These are reasons to consider prior to deciding to take your property off the market.

- Scott Snyder

Monday, October 26, 2015

Happy Halloween - Haunted Houses


Ever wondered what it’d be like to live in a haunted house? Skip the ghost tour and buy one of these haunted listings, perfect for those unafraid of sharing space with the supernatural.
Ann Starrett Mansion
AnnStarrett
Photo: John L. Scott Real Estate

Port Townsend, Wash.
$750,000
Overlooking Puget Sound, the Queen Anne-style Ann Starrett Mansion is reportedly haunted by a red-headed female specter in the home’s 70-foot tower, seen by an innkeeper from outside the locked residence. Constructed in 1899 by contractor George E. Starrett for his wife, the home features an octahedral dome atop the tower that acts as a solar calendar, with ruby-colored glass casting a red glow inward as the seasons change. In recent years, the property was a bed and breakfast and boutique hotel.
As the listing description states, “frescos of angelic maidens painted in Ann’s image will enchant you”…and give you nightmares.
Kenworthy Hall
Kenworthy_Hall
Photo: The Realedyne Group
Marion, Ala.
$950,000       
Presently home to a horse farm, Kenworthy Hall is an Italianate-style villa purportedly haunted by a female apparition in the tower room on the fourth floor. The woman is thought to be Lucinda, wife of Edward Kenworthy Carlisle, an established cotton broker and planter who commissioned architect Richard Upjohn to design the home in 1858. The property was named a National Historic Landmark in 2004.
Neither furniture nor horses are included in the list price, but we think a ghost is a fair trade-off.
Related: 'The Silence of the Lambs’ Home Hits the Market 
John Sowden House
SowdenHaunt
Photo: Sotheby’s International Realty
Los Angeles, Calif.
$4,799,000
Drawing comparisons to a Mayan temple and a great white shark, the John Sowden House was designed by Sowden’s friend, architect Lloyd Wright, and built in 1926. The home, located in Los Feliz, was later occupied by Dr. George Hodel, the prime suspect behind the grisly Black Dahlia murder. (Hodel’s son maintains the slaying occurred inside the home.) Successive residents report Hodel haunts the property, and many have heard the sound of heavy chains dragging, among other strange noises.
Creeeeepy!
Schweppe Estate
Schweppe
Photo: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff
Lake Forest, Ill.
$9,950,000
The Schweppe Estate, also known as the Mayflower Palace, was built in 1915 as a wedding gift to Marshall Field’s heiress Laura Shedd and her husband Charles Schweppe (of Schweppes carbonated drinks). The property sat empty for more than 45 years following Schweppe’s suicide, brought on by the discovery that his wife had left him just $200,000 of her $10 million fortune after her untimely death. Several accounts claim both Charles and Laura haunt the estate’s bedrooms, and one master bedroom window has remained eerily free of dust, despite the age of the home.
Does that mean we’ll save on maid services?

Source: RisMedia Housecall by, Suzanne DeVita
 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Mortgage Disclosure Rules Coming Soon

REALTORS® say they plan to change their purchase agreements to allow for a longer timeline for the closing process due to the upcoming changes from new mortgage disclosures rules.

Starting on Oct. 3, the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule is to go into effect, which will merge the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, the Good Faith Estimate, and the Truth-in-Lending disclosure form into two new closing forms: a Loan Estimate and a Closing Disclosure. The new rule also aims to provide consumers with more time to review the total costs of their mortgage prior to closing. The Loan Estimate form is due to consumers three days after they apply for a loan, while the Closing Disclosure form is due three days prior to closing.

The current HUD-1 settlement form can be revised and delivered up to the day of settlement, but the new mortgage forms must be finalized and in the borrower’s possession three days prior to closing. If that deadline is not met, borrowers will receive another re-issuance of the closing disclosure and wait another three days.

As such, some real estate professionals are extending their contract timelines due to the uncertainties of dealing with the new regulations, says Ken Fears, NAR's director of regional economics and housing finance.

Eighty-two percent of real estate professionals say they've taken some training to prepare for the TRID rule.

Source: "Real Estate Agents to Extend Contracts for New Mortgage Disclosures," National Mortgage News (Sept. 1, 2015) and "REALTORS® Train for TRID," National Association of REALTORS®' Economists' Outlook

This September a Great Month for Buyers

 



Buyers who are willing to close on a home purchase during the off-peak seasons – like fall and winter – tend to have the upper-hand, according to Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®'s chief economist. September, in particular, is the best month of this year to sign a contract to purchase a home, according to his analysis.

For one thing, supply is rising, providing home buyers with more choices of homes for sale than they've had in the past 10 months. In the third week of August, inventory was at 1.91 million units, an increase from 21 percent since January, according to realtor.com®.
"Normally inventory peaks in August and begins to slow as the nights grow longer," Smoke says. "But this year the typical seasonal decline will start a bit later. There will be more choices in September than any other month in 2015."

Also, he says that overall demand is down now that the school year has started so buyers will provide less competition this month too.

"And, of course, with less competition for the most listings all year, pricing power weakens as inventory takes longer to sell," Smoke says.

As an added incentive to home buyers, mortgage rates are remaining low, for now. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ended the week under 4 percent due to recent stock market turbulence. In June, 30-year rates were averaging 4.2 percent, but have since fallen.

Source: Daily Real Estate News
Realtor®Magazine