Tips to Increase your Home Value (2)

Last month we addressed the issue of home value-how it is a great financial investment and some preliminary tips on how to increase the value. This month, we will dig deeper into this topic.

Clean your house now pay for it later

If your house is on the market, the cleanliness of your house matters. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but the difference between a slightly dirty house and a clean shiny welcoming one makes all the difference in the world. If you make cleanliness of your house a priority it will not only reap dividends come time to let it go, it will also tackle several other issues at once. For instance, staying on top of maintenance issues by spotting them when you do a routine clean will help you to save on major expense cost. Second, you don’t allow particles like dirt and mold to build up over time. These items, especially mold, can go a long way in expenses down the road. Doing this will go a long way in helping you feel confident when it comes time to sell.

Curb Appeal Counts

If you really want to know what your house looks like in comparison to others, take a stroll down the block and look it over. Ask yourself, “does my house look attractive?” Look at the structure, ambiance, and placement for starters. After this, make a list of ways that you can make your house look more accommodating to someone driving by. If you have trees in the yard, make sure that there is enough visibility to see the outside of your house. If you have a walkway to the front door consider lining it with bushes or flowers. Take a photo and look it over. Ask yourself what are some ways that I can make this property look more inviting to others?

Upgrade the Kitchen

Any real-estate agent will tell you the number 1 interior remodel is the kitchen. Whether it is the paint that needs to be touched up or changed, new tile that needs to be put in, or the countertops that need to have a make over, upgrading your kitchen will go a long way in the attraction level of your house. An island in the kitchen does a lot to boost the welcome. Whether it is that, a pot or wine rack, incorporating several of these things will definitely increase the chances of getting close to what you ask for.

Beautify Your Bathroom

A final upgrade that you can look into is your bathroom. Of every room in the house, the bathroom is the one that is most used. Therefore, a lot of wear and tear will occur in this area.

  • Focus on the Faucet: Under-mount sinks are more preferred than drop-sinks
  • Go granite or marble with countertops: Trust me on this one. It will improve the look tenfold.
  • Add wall mounts instead of overhead lighting: It looks a lot more warm and welcoming.
  • Heated floors attract buyers like ants to sugar
  • Upgrade your shower: This can give you as much as an 85% return.
  • Keep it clean: Help to mitigate as much wear and tear as possible.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is enough to get you to think about some things you can do to your home to upgrade your ROI.

Tips to increase your Home Value

While buying a home can be somewhat tedious, especially for a first time home buyer, it is one of the best financial investments a person can make. As such, it is important to manage this asset well. In our last few posts, we discussed the necessity of a thorough inspection before purchasing a home. In this post, we will discuss several ways that one can improve the value of a home.

  • Plan your remodel

All good projects require a plan. Whether you have just purchased  or have spent some time in the home, a remodel requires a plan. As with anything in life, you will fare better of repairs or upgrades are made intentionally instead of on impulse. Home improvement projects cost 20 to 25 cents on the dollar while the other 77-80 cents go back into the value of the house. In mathematical terms this equals a 3-1 ratio in increased value!

Unless you have a huge savings laying around for such occasion, however, it is best to go slow. Do your research. Make a list of all the repairs or upgrades you would like to see accomplished as well as the fees for these costs. Also, factoring in how long you wish to live in the house will help you prioritize what projects are best to tackle and which ones are best to deter. Once you have made this plan, talk to a realtor in order to determine what type of returns these adjustments may bring. Some will bring considerably more value to your house than others.

Tackle One Room at a Time

As with any list, taking baby steps is the key to achieve success. With a home remodel it is no different. Tackle one room at a time. Whether it is adding a coat of paint to a wall or knocking it down, taking one room at a time will keep your emotions and costs in check. If you set out to do something with a room on a certain day, factor in the amount of time it will take, and move forward with your plan, it will get done near or in the time you slot.

Small Improvements can really pay off

If you are torn between such choices as adding to your homes resale value or home decor, make a list of both. Upgrades for your house may include preparing a leaky faucet or replacing some lights while decor upgrades may include furniture or window treatment. No matter what choice you make, a plan will help you bring it all together. For instance, after looking at your budget if you plan to spend a bundle one month on an improvement then spend the next several months contributing to smaller upgrades in other places. The plan will help you to accomplish this.

Whatever choice you make will be tailored to your personal interest. A plan will help you to organize yourself and put ideas into action. It is important to consider this, especially if you are invested in such a financial project.

Home Inspection: What to look for on the inside when buying a home

In last month’s blog, we discussed what to look for in some of the elements of a home inspection and just how crucial that is to determine the quality of house you will purchase. However, the issues we addressed in the last blog post dealt with the outside of the house. While these are perhaps the most important elements when going through the process of buying a home, there are several important factors to be aware of for the internal aspects as well. In this blog, we will address a few of the features to look at inside the home.

Interior

  • Appliances (if included)

Normally, a house will not include appliances unless you are renting. However, on seldom occasion the seller of the house might include the appliances left in the house factoring them into the price. If this is the case, some things to look for are

  • Do the appliances appear to be well-maintained?
  • What are the ages of the

Refrigerator?

Dishwasher?

Oven?

Are there any leaks under the bathroom sink/kitchen?

While these are minor grievances, they can add up and go a long way in factoring into the cost of the appliances.

Structural Elements

  • Has their previously been a fire in the home?
  • Do the walls show vertical or horizontal cracks?
  • Are there any stains on the floors, walls, or ceilings?

While not as crucial as the foundation or roof, if any of these situations has occurred, it could contribute to wear and tear on these external elements.

Ventilation and Sub-systems

  • Does the house smell? Can you identify the source?
  • Does the heating and AC appear to be working properly?
  • Does the water heater produce enough hot water?
  • Is there a working exhaust fan in the kitchen?

These are a few of the internal factors that must be paid attention to when dealing with questions about the inside of the house. As stated, they are not as crucial as the elements on the outside of the house such as the foundation and the roof, but they do matter and can add up to major nuisances over time if overlooked when inspecting a home. Below, we will address some miscellaneous features when looking at the home inspection.

Miscellaneous 

Electrical:

  • Do all of the switches work?
  • Is each outfit properly grounded?
  • Do the ceiling fans work?
  • Has the electrical panel been recalled?

Plumbing:

  • Are there any unusual noises?
  • Do the faucets and other fixtures have enough pressure?

Garage:

Check all of the following elements for signs of damage and wear

  • Slab
  • Walls
  • Ceiling
  • Vents
  • Garage Door
  • Lights
  • Openers
  • Windows
  • Roof

This checklist, while not as crucial as the external checklist does come in handy and can save a lot of trouble and heartache when browsing through the home-inspection list. Along with the list of items to look for on the outside, you should be well equipped to handle any issues when dealing with a major purchase such as a house.

 

Home Inspection: What to look for

While there are multiple factors that contribute to the purchase of a home on the buyer’s end such as credit, income-debt, savings, collateral and more, one of the things that you must be aware of on the opposite end is home inspection. While first time homebuyers can be quick to rush in to what looks like a good deal, often times if they are unaware of what to look for in the purchase of a house, they can end up regretting it later. For example, if you find what looks like a great deal on the house of your dreams and rush in to the purchase, in a couple of years, you might end up with the regrets of not looking at the foundation or roof. This could cost you multiple thousands of dollars in both resale value and labor that you must put into the house. Therefore, this blog post will provide a quick list of things to be aware of for the Exterior in a Home Inspection.

Exterior

While there are a number of things to look at on both the inside and outside of the house, one of the first places you want to spend some time is on the roof/attic. Ask yourself these questions in a physical or mental checklist as you look at this area of the house.

Roof/Attic:

  • Are there shingles missing?
  • Is there flashing and trim installed?
  • Are there any signs of leaks?
  • When will the roof need to be replaced?

Running through these questions will help you determine some of the most crucial aspects of your home purchase. The next list, might be even more important.

Foundation:

In what could easily be one of the most crucial elements in your house, the foundation is what is necessary to carry the weight and load of all the other elements in a home. If you have a poor foundation due to corrosion or termites, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the house comes crumbling down. Therefore, a poor foundation can diminish the value of the house by 30-45%. Look at this before the purchase of a house.

  • Are there any visible cracks on the outside of the wall?
  • Are there any trees near the foundation?
  • Has there been any repair on the foundation previously?
  • If so, what for?

Yard:

  • Does the drainage slope away from the house?
  • Are there any soggy areas you can identify?
  • Are the walkways and driveway in good condition?

As said above, a home inspection can go a long way in the determination of the value of a house. That’s why it is crucial to understand certain elements of what to look for before the purchase of a house. In the next post, we will list a set of requirements to check on in the interior of the home.

 

First Time Homebuyer-Need to know: How to raise your credit score

In the last blog, we established the fact that your credit score plays a major factor in determining many of the variables in a person’s financial stature when buying a house. The difference between a good credit score and a poor one could result in tens of thousands of dollars. Therefore, in this blog we will discuss several potential possibilities to raise ones credit score.

  • Pay Down your Credit Cards quickly

Credit cards can be a blessing or a curse. If used responsibly, they can be used to build up credit. For example, if you have a credit card with a limit and have it set up to be paid off each month, it can go a long way in boosting your score. If, however, you miss a payment due to external circumstances this can prove to be a nightmare. Not only will this put a black mark on your credit score sometimes lowering it by 50 or more points, it will also cause the interest rate on the card to soar sky high. If you have a card with a 3% interest rate or lower, missing just one payment could vault it to 18% or higher! This is why so many financial advisors like Dave Ramsey say to stay away from credit. His debt-snowballing principle is worth looking into if you have made some of these mistakes. However, for the purpose of this blog, it is important to know that your credit utilization ratio-the percentage of credit you are using on your credit cards-accounts for 30% of your credit score. The higher balance you have on your credit cards, the lower your credit score will be. This is why it is imperative to pay down your credit card balances as low as possible before applying for a mortgage. 

  • Pay for “delete”

Another factor that puts a “black mark” on your credit score is a collection. This occurs when money is owed to some institution or business and they seek to obtain it through a collection agency. This too can have tremendously adverse affects on your credit lowering it by 100 points or more. If something like this has happened, most creditors and collection agencies will work with you. One of the ways they will work with you is a “pay for delete”. When you contact them, you can ask them if they will delete this mark on your score if you agree to pay all or a % of the balance in a timely manner. If they work with you in this regard, it can bring your credit score up multiples of 10s of points.

  • Become an Authorized User

The last thing you can do to raise your credit score is to become an authorized user. If you have a family member with a credit card, and they are in good standing you can contact the company and ask them to add you as an authorized user on their account. This will include their entire credit history on your credit report. It is a quick and easy way to accumulate up to 30 points of credit.

There are several more ways to raise credit, but these three ways will go a long way in getting you ready to move into preparations for the purchase of a home. If you put these principles into practice, within 6 months to a year you could possibly raise your score 100 points and be ready to take on your first mortgage!

First Time Homebuyer: Need to know-Credit Score

For most people, the purchase of a home is the largest financial transaction that they will ever incur. Due to this, first-time home buyers can feel overwhelmed with such a monumental task. Your Credit Score will play a major factor in this process. Because of this, we will focus on the importance of Credit Score and what steps can be taken to raise it in this blog.

Know your Credit Score

Chances are that with a first time purchase, a homeowner will have to take out a loan. Therefore, it is imperative to know your credit score when going into the negotiation of a contract because it will affect many factors including the interest rate on your loan. There are three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S. These are TransUnioin, Equifax, and Experian. Usually, creditors will run your score through all three of these agencies and go with a median score between all three.

Credit Score Range

Though the credit score varies from 350-850, qualifications for loans don’t start until a person is in the 500 range. Below is the categorization of credit score.

  • 500-579 Bad Credit Score
  • 580-619 Poor Credit Score
  • 620-679 Fair Credit Score
  • 680-739 Average Credit Score
  • 740 and higher Great Credit Score

As mentioned above, your credit score will affect many factors on your purchase of a home. For instance, did you know if you have a 580 credit score you will only need 3.5% downpayment for a FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan. However, if it is 500-579 you will need at least a 10% downpayment to qualify! Your Credit Score will affect your interest rate as well. The poorer the Credit Score the higher the interest rate and monthly payment will be, the higher, the opposite.

  • 579 and lower-if you are approved for a mortgage with this low of a score you will have an interest rate 2% higher than the current rate.
  • 580-619-you can expect an interest rate 1% higher than the current rate.
  • 620-679-you can expect an interest rate .5% higher than someone with great credit.
  • 680-739-is the rate most homebuyers are at. Your rate will not be affected much at all in this range.
  • 740 and higher-you will be offered the best mortgage rates that companies have to offer.

While 1-2% may not seem like much, it could result in 10’s of thousands of dollars over the long term. For instance, if you finance your house for a mere 3.5% at 30 years, you will end up paying for the property almost twice with interest included! Imagine if you have a poor credit score. It could be 3-4 times the initial cost of the house! This is why your credit score is a major factor in the amount of money you will need and can save when it comes to the purchase of a home! In the next blog, we will discuss ways that you can bring your credit score up to par if you have bad credit.

The Skinny on Butcher Block Countertops

One of the latest fads to take hold of our kitchens: the butcher block counter top. Whether edge grain, face grain, or end grain, it can be an awesome additional to your home with a range of colors and patterns from woods like oak, to birch, to cherry, to even bamboo.

butcher block countertops

Besides being highly desirable for their looks, wooden counters have a range of features:

  • Lasts a long time and absorbs dings and scratches.
  • Plays well with other materials like metal, plastic, or rock.
  • Less noise than harder surfaces with dishes and utensils.
  • Wood tends to be antimicrobial and antibacterial.

A few properties to keep in mind are:

  • Wood is prone to shrinking, growing, or cracking due to humidity or dry weather.
  • If not sealed properly, the wood may rot or change color.
  • Heat or spills can burn or change the color of the wood, though this could be sanded out.

I hope this inspires your kitchen creativity and let us know if you pick a wooden countertop or have one currently!

What is the difference between a landscape designer, landscape architect, or a landscaper?

Each of these landscaping professionals has their own specialties and knowing who to hire for your particular project or home can be difficult if you don’t know how to differentiate between them.  You want your yard to compliment your home and curb appeal is something to consider for homes and for investment properties.

A savvy homebuyer knows that the landscaping of a yard is a huge part of their property value; mature trees, a beautiful lawn, a cute patio, and well-placed shrubs can all add to your home’s value.

Here’s the lowdown on what each professional can do well and which one is right for your home’s needs.

Landscape Designer

This professional is typically one with a nursery or horticultural background and specializes in designing landscapes for renovated or new home areas.  They’ll work with a computer program to provide you with a blueprint of your yard that includes the optimal placement for plants and yard features such as sculptures, paths, patios, and more.

Hiring a landscape designer is a smart move to save you money and time in the end.  They typically specialize in the balance of color, size, texture, and proportion of yards to help you use the parts to make a whole picture that comes together as your garden.

Landscaper

Landscapers are the right choice for a simple job: taking out old trees, planting new ones, modifying existing plants, garden beds, or lawns.  They can also offer help with regular maintenance of your lawn.

Landscape Architect

These professionals usually have a more advanced education or formal training; they often work on complex commercial or residential projects.  If you’re thinking of adding a water feature, or large sculpture to your garden, this is the choice for you.  They specialize in collaborating with architects, surveyors, and engineers to bring unity and complimentary features to your home and garden.

Your custom home builder probably has a unique connection with someone in each of the professions listed above, be sure to speak with them about which is the right choice for you and ask for recommendations.  Often they can point you in the right direction and give you a name and number of someone that they have worked with in the past.

Most Popular Housing Trends for 2017

The past few years have seen a rise in several housing trends that we predict will continue on through this year and even 2018.  Many millennials are buying and building homes and they are looking to make a smaller footprint and simplify.  The architectural features that were important to older generations are no longer needed or are out of place in the modern home.

Green Living

Energy efficient appliances and windows are a must for any new homes, long-term savings and the environmental implications are something that most people consider now.  With the onset of low-flow faucets, solar heating, tankless water heaters, and duel-flush toilets, it’s becoming easier to make every aspect of a home save time, money, and resources.

Disappearing Living Rooms

Livings rooms as a separate room are becoming less and less common, instead what homebuyers or homebuilders are looking for is a “great room”.  This is an open floor plan that combines that family, kitchen, and dining rooms into one huge common room.  This room has space for homework to be done, meals to be eaten, parties to be had, and more.

Kitchens

Walk-in pantries and huge islands are on their way out while recessed lighting and large farmhouse style sinks are becoming increasingly popular.  Resell value is a big thing with the more transient millennials, and therefore the modern sleek kitchen is making way for the cozy and comfortable kitchen which has proved itself popular through many different kitchen trends. 

Copper

Copper is the new hot metal for fixtures, and mixing copper or gold with wood is becoming even more popular, though gold and bronze are also becoming more sought after.  Grays and blacks are making their way up to the top of most desirable neutrals as well.  All of these colors work well together or separately, and also mix well in many different mediums, shades, and materials.

Raw Materials

Materials such as stone and wood are making their way back into homes in place of stainless steel and tile.  Featuring the raw organic beauty of nature (whether manufactured to look like nature or truly from nature) is the way to go; everything in its natural form.

Pros and Cons of Concrete Countertops

Concrete countertops are quickly becoming more popular; whether they are DYI concrete counters or you pay a professional, they can be arguably cheaper and more durable than other countertop material choices.

Pros of Concrete Countertops

Durability

Concrete countertops are very durable; they are not only heat resistant but also scratch resistant as well.

Cost

The ability of concrete to be molded into any shape and dyed or stained almost any color as well as endlessly customizable with colors, designs, embedded objects such as fossils, tiles (whole or pieces), recycled glass, rocks, and much much more.  The organic look and feel of concrete draws most people to it, when you can’t find the perfect shade of granite, or right pattern for Corian, you can create it in concrete.  Whatever shape, whatever color, and whatever size you want, concrete can be that for you.

Cons of Concrete Countertops

Maintenance

Applying a sealer is the key to maintaining a concrete countertop, because concrete is naturally porous and when is a lighter color, it will readily show blemishes when not properly sealed. Don’t wait until there is a problem with your counter to start taking care of it, you should be sealing the countertop regularly and caring for it in order to prevent problems from occcuring

It is also important to clean concrete counters right away when there is a spill on them, this will help prevent staining.  Make sure that the cleaner and sealer that you are using are made for cleaning concrete countertops as using other types of cleaning products can end up damaging your counters in the end.

Imperfections

It is very difficult to pour a perfect concrete countertop, stains or other imperfections are usually present in any concrete whether it is a do it yourself project or a professional job.

Hairline Cracks

Concrete countertops that are poured in place instead of precast may develop hairline cracks as a result of your house shifting or settling, or other issues such as your kitchen faucet being screwed in too tightly.  Larger cracks are easier to fill and fix, hairline cracks are not so easy to fix and may require a professional.