Real Estate

Save Your Time + Money: Worthwhile Home Improvement Projects

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, the overall value added by home renovation projects—especially those focusing on upgrades, replacements, and curb appeal—has improved for the first time in six years.

The study focused on the “cost-value ratio” of 35 common home improvement projects (this ratio expresses the value a project retains once the house sells in relation to the original cost of the project; the greater the percentage of the original cost a seller recoups once the house sells, the greater the cost-value ratio). The continued decline in construction costs (down 6.0%) combined with relatively stable resale values (down only 1.4%) has finally created favorable conditions for homeowners to make those upgrades and remodels they’ve been putting off in recent years. For all 35 projects studied in the survey the cost-value ratio rose, making for an average 60.60 cost-value ratio across the board.

Sixty percent may not sound like much of a return on investment, but keep in mind that the 60.60% figure is merely an average of the cost-value ratios of all 35 projects. The projects at the top of this year’s list boast a cost-value ratio of 90% or higher in many cities. Nationwide, the top 10 lists are dominated by outdoor replacement projects that cost relatively little but have dramatic impact on curb appeal, a very strong factor in raising the perceived value of a home in the eyes of potential buyers.

The most worthwhile home improvement projects in our region were no exception. Below are the five projects with the highest return on investment in western Kentucky:

  1. Replace entry door (steel) – Replacing your existing front door with a steel door is inexpensive and relatively easy for an experienced DIYer. It can be painted an eye-catching color or made to match your home’s existing color scheme, and paired with quality hardware it can make for a simple, but impactful little facelift for the front of your home. The door’s steel outer layer will be susceptible to denting, so swing for a kickplate. Not sure if you want a steel door? Here are more details on the pros and cons of fiberglass and wood doors too. Estimated ROI: 87.60%
  2. Add a deck (wood) – If you’re looking to add living space, a deck is an easy and cost-effective alternative to a full addition, and it provides a great way to enjoy the outdoors when the weather’s nice. If you keep it simple and build the deck yourself with pressure-treated lumber, you can knock off almost 50% of the cost. Clean and seal it annually to keep it in good shape. Here are some tips on how to plan for a deck that suits your home, meets your budget, and offers the best possible return on your investment. Estimated ROI: 86.40%
  3. Replace siding (vinyl) – There’s a good reason why vinyl siding is so popular; it’s reasonably priced, it’s durable (good-quality vinyl siding can last 30 years or more), and its light weight makes it easy to install. Plus, it comes in almost any color you can imagine. Here’s more information on vinyl siding, as well as other siding options such as fiber-cement and wood. Estimated ROI: 79.90%
  4. Garage door replacement – This is a GREAT way to improve your home’s curb appeal. An attractive, mid-range garage door can do wonders for the overall appearance of your home, and a skilled/brave DIYer can install one in a weekend. For smart garage storage ideas and how you can exploit more storage space visit goodgarage.us.
  5. MINOR kitchen remodel. Resist the urge to do a complete kitchen overhaul, and keep your remodel to-scale—installing big, fancy appliances in a small home will rarely ever pay off. Stick with high-quality fixtures, and make smart cosmetic updates to modernize the look of your kitchen. For more tips on remodeling your kitchen without going overboard and over budget, click here. Estimated ROI: 76.60% and also you can keep the house plants san diego in your kitchen for fresh air.

As you tackle your own home improvement projects, keep in mind that your end goal is to increase the value of your home, and work to-scale. For example, if you live in a neighborhood full of mid-sized three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath homes and your home only has one-and-a-half baths, you will likely benefit more from adding a bathroom to bring your home up to the neighborhood standard than by doing a complete kitchen overhaul. Think strategically, shop smartly, and do the work yourself when you can. Here’s to a high cost-value ratio for all your home improvement projects to come!

Buying a New or Old Home :: Which is Right for You?

Which is better, a new or old home? Either option has its perks and its drawbacks, as does every home—be it a charming old Victorian or a newly constructed ranch house. The choice is a matter of personal preferences and priorities, but there are some points all homebuyers should consider before deciding which route to take.

Advantages of buying NEW:

  • Customization. In many cases, you’ll have the chance to be a part of the building process from the ground up. Many components of new constructions are open for personalization. YOU have a say in the end product.
  • Choice in location. If you get in on the project early enough, you can usually have a say in the location of your home within the neighborhood or subdivision.
  • Energy efficiency/low energy costs. New homes must be built to meet today’s energy standards. That means energy efficient appliances, plumbing, wiring, and construction, which in turn means lower energy costs for you. You can get financial support from loanigo.co.uk if you need one.
  • Low maintenance. In theory, a new construction filled with new appliances will require fewer repairs and upgrades in the near future.
  • Modern design and features. Newer homes tend to feature open floor plans, large windows, bigger rooms, and other features that are popular with and make sense to home buyers today.
  • That new home feel. It’s exciting knowing that you are the first to ever own or live in your home—you get the unique opportunity to be part of the home’s history from the very beginning.

Disadvantages of buying NEW:

  • Construction issues. Just because a house is new does not mean it’s well-built. The quality of a home’s construction depends on its builders, and with financing becoming more and more difficult to come by, some builders are having to cut corners and use cheaper materials.
  • The wait. In most cases you will have to wait for months before your new home is move-in ready. For many people that means moving into transitional housing in the interim, which can be a big hassle.
  • Higher cost. A newly constructed home typically costs about 20 percent more than a comparable resale home.
  • Limited negotiation room. A builder negotiates from a purely business-minded, financial standpoint, which leaves less of a chance for you to talk down the price.
  • Cookie-cutter design. Though home builders tend to offer options for customization in the details of a new home, they usually start from a template that’s been used many times before and will be used many times after, often for homes in the same neighborhood.

 

Advantages of buying RESALE:

  • Quality and character. The craftsmanship and quality construction of older homes is incredibly expensive and nearly impossible to recreate today. Not to mention that the character and quirkiness that comes with a house with history is simply something you can’t find in a newly constructed home.
  • Availability. There are more resale homes on the market to choose from, and once purchased you can usually move in right away. No wait. No transitional housing necessary.
  • Better deals. Resale homes typically start out at lower prices than their newly constructed counterparts, and you have better luck getting a bargain or considerable concessions from a seller than from a builder.
  • Track record. In the case of an older, well-maintained home, many upgrades and repairs will have already been made by the time you come into the picture. By now the home’s strengths are well established, its weaknesses known.
  • Established neighborhoods. An older, well-maintained home in a well-maintained neighborhood that has retained its value over the years is very likely to continue holding its value.

Disadvantages of buying RESALE:

  • Old construction/safety/energy standards. Older homes were built to the standards of the year in which they were constructed, not today’s. Oftentimes this can lead to issues with plumbing, wiring, and energy efficiency.
  • The negotiations can get personal. Unlike a builder of a newly constructed home, a seller likely has emotional ties to the house and may see it as being worth more that it actually is. This can lengthen the negotiation process, creating more stress for you.  
  • Costly renovations. Depending on how much work has already been done on the house, and how comfortable you are with DIY projects, fixing up a resale home can turn into a costly affair. A home that seemed like a steal in the beginning may end up costing just as much as a comparable, newly-constructed home. Mentally, you should include the cost of any renovations you envision for the house in the home’s overall cost, and negotiate accordingly.

Whichever route you take, avoid falling head over heels for a home too soon. Get the facts and do your best to see your prospective home’s reality as critically and objectively as possible—that’s where we can help. For a professional home inspection, give us a call anytime at 270-933-7242.

Why the Holidays are the BEST Days for Buying or Selling a Home

Most people shy away from the holiday season housing market—folks are busy spending money on gifts and time with family, and they figure others who might otherwise buy from/sell to them are busy doing the same. While this is largely true (only 8.1% of home sales occur in December), the shortage of holiday season home buyers and sellers creates a real estate phenomenon almost as magical as the holiday season itself: Only those who are serious about buying or selling continue their efforts into the winter months, which is good for ALL involved.

Why the holidays are the perfect days to BUY a home

  • You will be one of FEW holiday house shoppers. This means little competition and big chances at getting a good deal. The scarcity of others like you who are willing to brave the cold to look at homes turns you into a serious buyer with serious negotiating power.
  • You’re more likely to get favorable mortgage terms in the holiday months than at any other time of the year. The low demand for buying homes during the holiday season means fewer mortgage money requests for lenders, allowing them to offer you better deals.
  • Buying and closing on a house before the year’s end may qualify you for a generous tax break.
  • As a serious buyer in the holiday season, you’re likely to find seriously motivated sellers. It’s a match made in real estate heaven.

Why the holidays are the perfect days to SELL a home

  • As aforementioned, those who are shopping for homes during the holidays tend to be serious and ready to buy, which is exactly the type of buyer you want to attract.
  • People are typically more generous and willing to spend money during the holidays. Take advantage of it while you can.
  • Homes look their best during the holidays. When it’s cold outside, your festively decorated home will look warm, inviting, and enticing to potential buyers, and will feel even more homey than usual.

A few tips to holiday home SELLERS

  • Make your home cozy and inviting for the holidays, but don’t overdo it. Stick to fall and winter decorations rather than overtly religious ones—aim to please a broad audience. Play instrumental, festive music and have freshly baked goodies ready for people coming to see the house. Make them want to stay. The more time a potential buyer spends touring your home, the more time they have to picture themselves in it.
  • Since your yard will be more subdued in the winter months, the winter months are your house’s time to SHINE. Make sure your home is looking its best, inside and out. Get a pre-sale home inspection to catch any imperfections before the buyers do.
  • Find a reliable realtor, one who won’t disappear during the holidays and is as committed as you are to selling your home before year’s end.
  • Online presence is everything these days, especially in the winter. Having high quality, appealing photos of your home available to potential buyers online is MUST. When it’s cold and sometimes treacherous traveling from house to house, many potential buyers will rely heavily on the Internet to decide which houses are worth the trip. You want YOUR house to be on their shortlist.

The holidays are busy and sometimes stressful, but—if you’re up for it—the holidays could be the BEST days for finding or selling your home and finding one more thing to celebrate.

Haunted Real Estate: Recent study reveals “stigmatized property” sellable, but at mysterious price

Here at AP Home Inspection, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide thorough, professional evaluations of properties, whether on behalf of buyers, sellers, or builders. However, there are some things about a home that even our skillfully trained eyes can’t see–the spooky and chill-inducing things people seek when they watch scary movies in the dark, but aren’t necessarily seeking when buying a home.

In honor of Halloween (which is only a week away today!), we bring you some interesting new findings from realtor.com on public perceptions of avenue3realty.com real estate:

Between September and October 1st, realtor.com surveyed roughly 1400 people on their sentiments regarding haunted real estate. Over half those surveyed said they would consider buying a “haunted” property (36% said maybe, 26% said yes), while only 38% said absolutely not. Of those who said they would consider buying a haunted property, only 12% said they would be willing to pay full market value or more for it. The majority of respondents, if they were willing to consider such a thing at all, said they’d expect a significant discount on such a house.

The sentiments this study reveals have serious implications for both sellers and realtors of houses rumored to be haunted. While the study suggests that haunted houses are indeed sellable, they’re rarely sellable at near-market value. For home buyers who are willing to put up with the possibility of ghostly housemates, a "stigmatized property" may be a chance to purchase a home that might otherwise be unaffordable.

Even if a home’s inspection comes back squeaky clean, the mere suggestion that something mysterious or violent occurred on-site can stigmatize an otherwise desirable house. Perception shapes reality, and in this case, it can make or break realty.

In most states—including Kentucky (see KRS 324.162)—realtors have no legal obligation to disclose stigmas such as reported paranormal activity, murder, suicide, or violent crime that occurred on-site in the past. This creates a tricky situation for realtors handling “stigmatized property.” If a seller prefers to keep a house’s dubious past hidden, what should a realtor do if a potential buyer asks about it point-blank? The law is unclear, and the ethics are murky.  

For buyers, finding more information about a potential home’s past may be best left to the buyers themselves. One site recently featured on USA Today, DiedInHouse.com, will dig through multiple sources to see if anyone has died at a specific address. For those who don’t put much stock in stories of ghosts and goblins, it may still be interesting to know your home or future home’s history, even if only for laughs, or fodder for spooking dinner guests.

We leave you with a handy infographic of realtor.com’s findings below: