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, June 08 2011
Construction spending in April posted its biggest gain in six months — getting a boost by spending on home remodeling.
While overall construction spending increased only slightly by 0.4 percent in April, the increase in spending on home improvements helped offset some drops in single-family homes and apartment construction, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
Construction spending for residential homes increased 3.1 percent in April mostly due to the uptick in home remodeling, the Commerce Department noted. Instead of buying a new home, more people seem to be opting to remodel their existing home. The National Association of Home Builders recently reported that the home remodeling industry saw some of its biggest gains in more than four years. NAHB’s remodeling index recently reached its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2006.
Meanwhile, construction of single-family homes dropped 1 percent in April, the Commerce Department noted. On the other hand, nonresidential construction increased slightly by 0.4 percent for the month, with the increase mostly attributed to a rise in spending on health care, schools, and power plants.
Overall spending on construction projects in April remains far below the $1.5 trillion annual amount that economists consider healthy for the sector. In April, construction projects totaled a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $765 billion — only slightly above the 11-year low reached in February of $761 billion.
"The overall story here is that housing is hugely depressed, but it has probably hit bottom," says Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.
Source: “Builders Began More Remodeling Projects in April, But Construction Spending Near 11-Year Low,” Associated Press (June 1, 2011) and “Renovations Lift U.S. April Construction Spending,” Reuters News (June 1, 2011)
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
Thursday, January 06 2011
FIVE TIPS FOR DO-IT-YOURSELF WORK AROUND THE HOME
· Make a list: Spend some time taking stock of the kinds of maintenance and improvement projects you'd like to begin. A well-considered list will help you to set reachable goals.
· Assess your skills: Make sure that you carefully consider which projects you are fully capable of completing. For example, unless you have sufficient experience with electrical, plumbing or construction work, you should probably leave those tasks to the professionals.
· Establish priorities: Which projects are most important to you? Which projects will be the most costly? Which is more important: timeliness, quality or cost? Before beginning any do-it-yourself project, it is always wise to determine specific goals and priorities so that you are fully prepared when it comes time to begin.
· Create a budget: For each project that you want to complete, make certain that you have a firm budget in place. Allowing for unexpected circumstances (such as errors or the need for additional materials) in your budget will keep you from overspending.
· One step at a time: When it's time to begin, remember to pace yourself! Rome wasn't built in a day, and your new garden terrace will take time as well. Complete one task at a time, and soon you'll feel the wonderful sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that doing-it-yourself can bring!
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 www.costvsvalue.com. “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.
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.