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Wednesday, February 06 2013

After years of sluggish growth, home remodeling is rebounding and more home owners are tackling long-delayed house projects to spruce up their homes.

The growth in remodeling is coming at a time when more home owners are once again seeing equity in their homes as the overall housing market picks up. “Home improvements can further boost home values and help sustain both the housing recovery and economic growth,” Realty Times reports.

Spending on home improvement projects rose 9 percent in 2012 — the first increase since 2007, according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

"With the U.S. economy and housing market now recovering, investment in the nation's housing inventory is also picking up,” according to the JCH report. “Lenders and new owners are rehabilitating millions of foreclosed properties. Older home owners are retrofitting their homes to accommodate their future needs... And with the huge echo-boom population moving into the home buying market over the coming decade, the remodeling industry can look to an even more promising future.”

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry expects growth to continue in home remodeling, particularly as more clients feel more stable in their finances and employment situations.

Source: “Home Improvement Growth Latches onto Housing Recovery,” RealtyTimes (Feb. 5, 2013)

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 11:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 25 2013
“What doesn’t bankrupt us makes us stronger,” writes Josh Garskof, a serial remodeler and contributing writer and/or editor for Money magazine, “This Old House,” and Martha Stewart Living. Local property owners who have attempted a remodel anytime recently are likely to find the humor – and the truth – in his wisecrack. 
With the spring selling season just over the horizon, this would be about the right time for Evansville homeowners who are considering bringing their property to market to finalize plans and firm up any remodeling arrangements. Whether the project is just to freshen up a bathroom or re-landscape a whole backyard, Garskof offers the following tips:
Plan to Overspend – Yes, we all hate to acknowledge it, but surprises happen with predictable regularity. If you don’t allow for that cushion, you may find yourself in a tight spot when your contractor discovers a missing drainage system under the house.
Magnet Sweep – If you’re planning exterior work, have your team do a magnet sweep of the outdoor space when they are finished. Dozens of old, rusty nails can find their way into your lawn and into the mulch – nothing you want bare feet to encounter when summer comes (and the last thing you want potential visitors or agents stepping on during Broker’s Tour!)
Permits – Be sure to secure copies of a Certificate of Occupancy or other local code clearances from your contractor before you issue the final payment. It’s one way to help ensure the work is safe, up to code – and to have the paperwork handled when a sale is being finalized.
If you are preparing for spring and plan to do some remodeling before bringing your local property to market, I hope you will feel free to consult me before spending a single dollar. I’m here to help my clients save money where they don’t have to spend it -- and make money where they can. Especially when it comes to property improvements in Evansville, knowing today’s homebuyers can make a real difference. Email me at today!
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 12 2011
For the most part, the real estate markets around the country have flattened out, and homeowners are breathing a tentative sigh of relief. So, where do homeowners go from here? It will be a while before we start to see home values appreciate on their own, because demand will need to drastically increase before that happens. So, if you want to increase the value of your home, you’ll need to do it the old-fashioned way. Here are seven ways to improve your home’s value:

1. Remodel the Kitchen. Take into account the value of your home. If you have a $750,000 house, you should probably put $50,000 into a kitchen remodel. If you have a $250,000 house, you can get away with $5,000 to $10,000 in remodeling. Instead of replacing cabinets, try refinishing or re-facing them. New tile flooring, upgraded countertops, and a new sink are great things to update that don’t cost a ton of money.

2. Remodel the Bathrooms. This doesn’t need to be a lot. A new vanity, new flooring, a fresh coat of paint, and new fixtures can be done for less than $5,000.

3. Put up a Privacy Fence. You’ll get 100% return on your money by putting up a privacy fence, and when you go to sell the house, your house will appeal to people with children and pets.

4. Replace the Windows. This is a great upgrade that many savvy buyers will look for when they are shopping for a house. New windows helps improve energy efficiency to the home.

5. Finish Your Basement. We don’t have basements in Florida, because 10 feet below us is water. But many of you do have basements that are not being used or collecting junk. You can drastically improve your finished living space by putting up drywall, paint, and some carpet or laminate flooring.

6. Replace the Roof. You drastically improve the re-sale value of your home if you roof is new. Not only can you sell it for more money, but your house will stand out above other houses when trying to sell it. If a buyer is torn between your house and another house, a new roof can seal the deal, because many buyers don’t want to deal with buying a new roof when they first move in.

7. Add a Deck. EVERYONE loves wood decks. They never go out of style and they are great for entertaining. Decks are always a great selling feature. My advice would be to have your deck professionally installed, unless you are great with carpentry. No one wants an uneven deck.

There are many improvements you can make to your home, but only few of them will actually increase the value to your home. Also, make sure that you factor in where you live. You don’t want to put $100,000 into a house in a neighborhood full of $150,000 houses. Find the most expensive and the cheapeast homes in your neighborhood, then make improvements to put your value somewhere in between the median home prices and the most expensive prices.

By: Heather Levin


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, April 07 2011

More investors are finding a sweet spot in flipping foreclosures, but it’s not the same type of house flipping seen during the real estate boom.

During the housing boom, investors would take advantage of skyrocketing real estate prices and loose lending regulations by buying a property, remodeling, and then selling it for profit.

Today’s flippers are buying at ultra-low prices mostly in cash deals and are doing mostly only minor repairs, such as repainting, replacing appliances, and sprucing up the landscaping. Their profits aren’t as large when they sell, but they may sell more properties in a year, says Penny Boling, the broker-in-charge of Century 21 Boling and Associates in Myrtle Beach.

The 'Street Sweepers'
Keith Gamble has made foreclosure flipping a full-time job. He purchases properties at a monthly foreclosure sale and usually has about four properties at any given time.

“Some people’s bad fortune is other people’s opportunity,” Gamble says. “I know that sounds callous — I know people doing what I’m doing at the courthouse each month are there to take advantage of that opportunity, but I also feel we provide a backstop to the market.”

The flippers are often taking the neighborhood’s blight and helping to fix up the homes that had been badly trashed from the previous owner. Boling says the investors’ abilities to also pay cash will help the market get through the abundant foreclosures that are plaguing sales.

“They’re kind of like the street sweepers,” Boling says of the property flippers. “They’re part of the cleanup committee of this marketplace.”

Source: “Foreclosures Offer New Twist on Old Game: Flipping Houses," RISMedia (April 4, 2011)

Posted by: Rolandso Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 01 2011

The do-it-yourself home improvement market has faced a 21 percent drop from 2005-2010, according to the latest research from market researcher Mintel. Yet, that’s not due to lack of will on home owner's part, but more about lack of money, according to the survey.

More than a quarter of DIYers surveyed said they would undertake a major home renovation or addition to their home if they had the funds.

Nearly 40 percent of DIYers say that making a major home improvement is the best long-term investment they can make.

However, with the sagging housing market, many home owners have opted to put off major renovation projects, but forecasters are already seeing signs that is changing.

“We forecast growth to accelerate in 2011 and, presuming a stabilization of the housing market, to remain positive through 2015,” says Bill Patterson, senior analyst at Mintel. “Pent-up demand, ongoing need for repair and maintenance, retro-fitting, and renovations from boomers approaching retirement and demand from millennials should all propel DIY spending.”


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, December 22 2010

As part of the 2010-11Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® recently rated exterior replacement projects among the most cost-effective home improvement projects, demonstrating that curb appeal remains one of the most important aspects of a home at resale time.

“This year’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report highlights the importance of exterior projects, which not only provide the most value, but also are among the least expensive improvements for a home,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “Since resale value can vary by region, it’s smart for home owners to work with a REALTOR® through the remodeling and improvement process; they can provide insight into projects in their neighborhoods that will recoup the most when the owners are ready to sell.”

Nine of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects. The steel entry door replacement remained the project that returned the most money, with an estimated 102.1 percent of cost recouped upon resale; it is also the only project in this year’s report that is expected to return more than the cost. The midrange garage door replacement, a new addition to the report this year, is expected to recoup 83.9 percent of costs. Both projects are small investments that cost little more than $1,200 each, on average. REALTORS® identified these two replacements as projects that can significantly improve a home’s curb appeal.

“Curb appeal remains king – it’s the first thing potential buyers notice when looking for a home, and it also demonstrates pride of ownership,” said Phipps.

The 2010-11Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 80 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 13th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine.

REALTORS® provided their insight into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. Overall, REALTORS® estimated that home owners would recoup an average of 60 percent of their investment in 35 different improvement projects, down from an average of 63.8 percent last year. Remodeling projects, particularly higher cost upscale projects, have been losing resale value in recent years because of weak economic conditions.

According to the report, replacement projects usually outperform remodel and addition projects in resale value because they are among the least expensive and contribute to curb appeal. Various types of siding and window replacement projects were expected to return more than 70 percent of costs. Upscale fiber-cement siding replacement was judged by REALTORS® the most cost effective among siding projects, recouping 80 percent of costs. Among the window replacement projects covered, upscale vinyl window replacements were expected to recoup the most, 72.6 percent upon resale. Another exterior project, a wood deck addition, tied with a minor kitchen remodel for the fourth most profitable project recouping an estimated 72.8 percent of costs.

The top interior projects for resale value included an attic bedroom and a basement remodel. Both add living space without extending the footprint of the house. An attic bedroom addition costs more than $51,000 and recoups an estimated 72.2 percent nationally upon resale; a basement remodel costs more than $64,000 and recoups an estimated 70 percent. Improvement projects that are expected to return the least are a midrange home office remodel, recouping an estimated 45.8 percent; a backup power generator, recouping 48.5 percent; and a sunroom addition, recouping 48.6 percent of costs.

Although most regions followed the national trends, the regions that consistently were estimated to return a higher percentage of remodeling costs upon resale were the Pacific region of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington; the West South Central region of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas; the East South Central region of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee; and the South Atlantic region of the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The regions where REALTORS® generally reported the lowest percentage of costs recouped were New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), East North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin), West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota), and Middle Atlantic (New York and Pennsylvania).

“It’s important to remember that the resale value of a particular improvement project depends on several factors,” said Phipps. “Things such as the home’s overall condition, availability and condition of surrounding properties, location and the regional economic climate contribute to an estimated resale value. That’s why it is imperative to work with a REALTOR® who can provide insight and guidance into local market conditions whether you’re buying, selling or improving a home.”

Results of the report are summarized in the January issue of REALTOR® Magazine. To read the full project descriptions, access national and regional project data, and download a free PDF containing data for any of the 80 cities covered by the report, visit “Cost vs. Value” is a registered trademark of Hanley Wood, LLC.

Hanley Wood, LLC, is the premier media company serving housing and construction. Through four operating divisions, the company produces award-winning magazines and websites, marquee trade shows and events, rich data, and custom marketing solutions. The company also is North America’s leading provider of home plans. Founded in 1976, Hanley Wood is a $240 million company owned by JPMorgan Partners, LLC, a private equity affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

REALTOR® Magazine is published by the National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate” and America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 10:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 27 2010

Here are the products grabbing the attention of the home building and remodeling industries, according to Bill Millholland, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Case Design/Remodeling in Maryland, and Jamie Gibbs, a New York-based interior designer:

· Appliance Drawers. Small warning drawers, modest-sized dishwasher drawers for small loads, refrigerator drawers and microwave drawers.

· Counter-depth refrigerators. Some are only 24 inches deep.

· Motion-detecting faucets. Like you'd find in the restrooms of businesses.

· LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. These are used under cabinets and in ceiling fixtures as a longer-lasting, more efficient alternative to compact fluorescent lamps and incandescent bulbs.

· Electric heated floors. A nice touch in bathrooms,

· Showers with multiple heads and body sprays. Bathtubs are out.

Source: The Washington Post (09/25/2010)

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 03:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 09 2010

Working with a contractor takes effort and know-how in order to keep your project on time and on budget.


You’ve chosen a great contractor, you have a clear and well-designed project plan, and now you’re ready to sit back and watch your dreams become a reality. Unfortunately, the hardest part of your job has yet to begin. No matter whom you’ve hired to construct your home improvement project, you’re going to have to actively manage the process in order to keep it on target, on time, and on budget.

Get apathetic or lose your focus for even a single day and you may pay for it—quite literally. Here’s what you need to know to stay organized and maintain strong communications with your contractor and construction team.


Avoid allowances

An allowance is a line item in the contractor’s bid for something that’s yet to be determined. Let’s say you haven’t chosen your plumbing hardware for your new master bathroom or the decking you’ll use for your new three-season porch. The contractor will put a number in the budget as a placeholder. But with such a wide range of price points for these products, his guess may be far lower than what you wind up spending, which can lead to cost overruns. Try to eliminate allowances by sorting out all of your material and product selections before the contractor gives you an itemized bid for the job. Otherwise, at least do enough shopping to give the contractor an accurate ballpark price for the materials you’re considering.

Establish a communication routine

Ask the contractor how he prefers to communicate with you. Depending on the size of the job and how his team operates, he may say that he’ll be on site to talk with you every morning before you leave for work. He may give you his cell phone number and say, “call me anytime,” or tell you that his foreman can handle whatever comes up. In any case, try to meet with the project leader at least once a day. This is an opportunity for you to hear progress reports and find out what work is scheduled over the coming days—and to ask your questions and voice any concerns you have.

Keep a project journal

Part scrapbook, part diary, part to-do list, a project journal will help you stay organized. Use a notebook to record progress, note things you want to ask your contractor, jot down ideas, record product order numbers, and anything else that comes along. It’ll help you keep things on track, communicate with the team, and provide a record of exactly who said what when—which could help you iron out disagreements later on.

Track all changes in writing

No matter how thorough your planning is, your home improvement job will inevitably evolve as it moves along. You may encounter unforeseen structural issues, or you may decide to include additional work as you see the project take shape. Any good contractor can handle these changes—just make sure that he bids them in writing first. Tell the contractor at the outset (and put in the contract) that you want to sign off on written change orders for anything that’s going to add to the bottom line of the job. That means he has to give you a bid (a description of the change and a fixed price for what it will cost) and you both have to sign it before the work is done. This eliminates the risk of expensive changes happening without clear communication about how much more you’re spending, and it helps you keep track your bottom line from one change to the next.

Check their work

It’s much easier to nip problems in the bud than to undo mistakes after the fact, so try to be proactive about checking your contractor’s work. As fixtures arrive on site, compare the model numbers on the boxes against your receipts, invoices, and the contractor’s bid to ensure that the right product was delivered. As walls get framed, check their locations and the locations of window and door openings against the blueprints. To the extent that it’s possible, conduct these investigations after hours or during lunch breaks so you don’t seem like you’re looking over the workers’ shoulders (even though you are).

Pay only for completed work

Money is power. As soon as you’ve paid the contractor, you no longer have the upper hand, so it’s crucial that you keep the payment schedule in line with the work schedule. The contract should establish a series of payments to be made when certain aspects of the job are completed. For example, your contract could stipulate that you’ll pay in three equal installments, with the last payment to be made after the project is complete, and after you and your contractor agree the work is satisfactory. Never put down more than 10% upfront; that’s too much cash to hand over before any work is complete. Your contractor should be able to get any necessary supplies on credit.

Be a good customer

One of the best ways to get quality work out of a construction crew is to make them enjoy working for you. That means being decisive with the contractor—and giving him a check promptly at the agreed-to points in the project. It also means being friendly and accommodating of the workers in your house: designating a bathroom that they can use, greeting them by name each morning, and perhaps serving them cold lemonade on a hot day. Complimenting their work (as long as you feel it’s worthy of praise) can be a great way to motivate them to do their best for you.

A former carpenter and newspaper reporter, Oliver Marks has been writing about home improvements for 16 years. He’s currently restoring his second fixer-upper with a mix of big hired projects and small do-it-himself jobs.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 04 2009

Home remodeling business is picking up all over the country. Contractors began noticing the trend at the end of what was a long, slow summer.

The reason for the upturn is that home owners, unable to sell properties, are deciding to stay and fix up the deficiencies. An added incentive is the $1,500 federal tax credit for energy-related improvements.

The National Association of Home Builders' Remodeling Market Index, a measure of contractor confidence, rose slightly last month and its futures index also increased, indicating contractors are more confident that business is improving.

Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects and Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, agrees that the remodeling industry hit bottom during the summer, but he doesn’t expect substantial improvement until Spring 2010.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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