Thursday, May 31 2012
We have all heard horror stories about what can happen when people hire the wrong contractor. “It took three times as long as it should have!” “They wound up charging me half again what they said it would cost!” “They never even called me back!”
Those kinds of tales can be enough to keep you from even considering starting any of the home improvement projects you may have been thinking about for this summer. But that doesn’t need to happen – and it shouldn’t happen: protecting and improving your real estate investment is too important to your financial future. Sometimes the difference between a successful outcome and a disappointment is as simple as getting started the right way. Just three simple steps (combined with your own good common sense) will get your own real estate improvement project off on the right foot:
1. Get Recommendations
Most important is the first step: get recommendations. Trusted real estate agents usually know some of the most reliable local contractors (I always have a few recommendations or know where to point you to get them.) Take enough time to collect as many names as possible. Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers – even the local hardware store proprietor -- can offer names and first-hand experiences. Then check reputations: use the Better Business Bureau for their accreditation, and see what people on the Internet have to offer (though I always take Web gossip with a grain of salt!). Usually the best recommendations come from people you know who relay their own experiences, good or bad.
2. Meet Each Contractor
You are looking for a licensed professional who does excellent work on time and on budget. After creating a short list of contractors, take the time to meet each of them at your house. The contractor can then give you a written estimate of how much the work will cost you and how long it will take.
After you have settled on a final candidate or two, don’t be shy about asking to speak to a couple of recent clients about their experiences. It’s not unreasonable to ask; after all, if your job gets done on time and on budget, won’t you be willing to answer a phone call or two?
If you want a stress-reducing way to protect and improve your real estate investment, hiring a great contractor is the vital first step. As your Evansville real estate professional, I will be happy to steer you in the right direction when it comes time to work on your home – don’t hesitate to call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, May 11 2011
With new-home sales down drastically the last few years, builders are scrambling to re-evaluate what buyers today want in new homes. Changing demographics and tighter lending standards are influencing buyers’ purchasing decisions when home-shopping and changing their priorities, industry experts say.
“There is a lot of pressure today to retool,” says Steve Brooks, CEO of Grand Homes. “We have to redesign houses and figure out what kind of product people would want to buy.”
For example, more younger buyers are bypassing the typical suburban tract of homes and showing a stronger preference for urban-style homes closer to the city.
“Trying to keep doing the same cookie-cutter houses is going to be increasingly difficult,” says James Gaines, an economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. “Home builders worry that the demand pool for the suburban home with the quarter-acre lot and the fenced back yard will be shrinking.”
Younger buyers also are saying they don’t need a ton of extra space in a home and that they want spaces configured differently in homes, builders say.
For example, the living room is on it’s way “out,” builders say, as more home owners instead show a preference toward a game room or media room. Plus, more home owners are finding they don’t need a fourth bedroom, which was once in high demand.
However, not all builders believe the “buying small” trend will last.
“With our typical single-family buyers, we’re not seeing them willing to give up much room,” says Bill Darling, a builder in Plano, Texas. “We have seen them willing to put fewer bells and whistles in the homes.”
Some builders are focusing on ways to cut maintenance costs of home ownership too by setting out to build more homes that are more energy efficient.
Source: “Stumped Builders Adjust Their Designs,” RISMedia (May 9, 2011) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2011050902?OpenDocument