Exterior Replacement Projects Provide Biggest Return on Investment for Homeowners

exterior_remodeling_roofStarting to plan your springtime projects but wondering if that remodeling project is really worth it when it comes time to sell? A recent article by RISMedia looks at the return on investment of different remodeling projects and suggests the kitchen, attic, and exterior siding may be the best places to focus your dollars.

Homeowners looking for the most return on their investment when it comes to remodeling should consider exterior replacement projects. According to the 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® rated exterior projects among the most valuable home improvement projects.

“REALTORS® know that curb appeal projects offer great bang for your buck, because a home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see,” says National Association of REALTORS® President Gary Thomas. “Projects such as siding, window and door replacements can recoup more than 70 percent of their cost at resale. REALTORS® know what home features are important to buyers in your area and can provide helpful insights when considering remodeling projects.”

Results of the report are summarized on NAR’s consumer website HouseLogic.com, which provides information on dozens of remodeling projects, from kitchens and baths to siding replacements, including the recouped value of the project based on a national average. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 85.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. The steel entry door replacement is the least expensive project in the report, costing little more than $1,100 on average. A majority of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects; all of these are estimated to recoup more than 71 percent of costs.

Three different siding replacement projects landed in the top 10, including fiber cement siding, expected to return 79.3 percent of costs, vinyl siding, expected to return 72.9 percent of costs, and foam backed vinyl, expected to return 71.8 percent of costs. Two additional door replacements were also among the top exterior replacement projects. The midrange and upscale garage door replacement were both expected to return more than 75 percent of costs.

According to the report, two interior remodeling projects in particular can recoup substantial value at resale. A minor kitchen remodel is ranked fifth and is expected to return 75.4 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000.

The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the attic bedroom, which landed at number eight and tied with the vinyl siding replacement with 72.9 percent of costs recouped. With an average national cost of just under $48,000, the attic project adds a bedroom and bathroom within a home’s existing footprint. The improvement project projected to return the least is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup less than 44 percent.

The 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 81 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 15th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with NAR.

REALTORS® provided their insights into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. The 2013 national average cost-to-value ratio rose to 60.6 percent, ending a six-year decline. The ratio represents nearly a three-point improvement over 2011-2012. Lower construction costs are the principal factor in the upturn, especially when measured against stabilizing house values. In addition, the cost-to-value ratio improved nationally for every project in this year’s report and is higher than it was two years ago for both remodeling and replacement projects.

“A REALTOR® is the best resource for helping homeowners decide what improvement projects will provide the most upon resale in their market,” says Thomas. “Each neighborhood is different, and the desirability and resale value of a particular remodeling project varies depending on where you live. When making a home remodeling decision, resale value is just one factor that homeowners should take into consideration. Consult a Realtor® to make sure you are making the best decision.”

Most regions followed the national trends; however the Pacific region, consisting of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, once again led the nation with an average cost-value ratio of 71.2 percent, due mainly to strong resale values. The next best performing regions were West South Central, South Atlantic, and East South Central. These regions attribute their high ranking to construction costs that were lowest in the country. While still remaining below the national average, most remaining regions showed strong improvement over last year. These are Mountain, New England, East North Central, Middle Atlantic, and West North Central.

To read the full project descriptions and access national and regional project data, visit www.costvsvalue.com. “Cost vs. Value” is a registered trademark of Hanley Wood, LLC.

For more information, visit www.realtor.org.

Property Owners Encouraged to Check New Floodplain Maps

From the Marietta Daily Journal

From the Marietta Daily Journal

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 100-year floodplain maps of Cobb County were recently updated and property owners are encouraged to see if their properties are in the Special Flood Hazard Area.

While the maps throughout Cobb County were changed, the primary focus of the updates was on the Chattahoochee River along the eastern edge of the county and Sweetwater Creek in the southwest, both of which impact multiple counties. These floodplain revisions have many benefits, including enabling residents and business owners to understand their current flood risk and receive more informed recommendations regarding flood insurance coverage options.

Property owners in the floodplain will probably receive notification from their lending institutions that they are required to have flood insurance. Owners who purchase the insurance before March 4 can take advantage of a lower cost “preferred rate policy.” That could mean the difference between paying $300-$400 per year and paying $3,000.

The current Flood Insurance Rate Maps as well as the rate maps that will become effective on March 4 can be accessed at stormwater.cobbcountyga.gov. You can read more about the changes and their impact at The Marietta Daily Journal.

Are You Getting the Homestead Tax Exemption?

imagesGeorgia law provides that every homeowner is eligible to claim the Homestead Exemption as a tax benefit that can amount to a considerable annual savings for the homeowner. Whether you are a new homeowner or have lived in your home for years, make sure you’ve filed for the tax savings!
A Homestead Exemption allows a partial exemption on a portion of the assessed value of your home.  The amount varies from County to County.  To qualify for the property tax exemption, the HOMEOWNER must file for Homestead Exemption either in person or by mail depending on the County in which you reside. You can read more about Homestead Exemptions here.
While some counties have an April deadline to apply for the current year, Georgia law recently changed allowing most counties to have a March 1 deadline for filing.  You should contact your local county assessor to determine if any exceptions apply to the deadline date for your county.  Many counties offer Homestead Exemption application forms and information on their county web site to expedite the process.

 County Tax Offices

7 Ways to Save On Energy Costs this Winter

home_inspector_metersFinding simple ways to cut energy costs is always a good investment no matter the season. Winter weather in particular can mean high utility bills. This winter, there simple things you can do to cut your costs while still keeping your home cozy and warm. Here are some great tips from real estate blogger, Ed Michelson that can really add up:

1. Turn off unused electronics: Everyone has heard our Mom or Dad tell us to turn off something when we are done with it. This still holds true today. When you leave a room, turn off the light. When you go to bed, close your laptop. If you go on vacation, it might be a good idea to disconnect the garage door opener.

2. Use power strips: Simply having appliances plugged in drains energy, so when possible, plug as many electronics into power strips as you can. When those items are not in use, easily switch them off by using the switch on the power strip.

3. Unplug chargers: Many houses have multiple devices that require charging. From laptops to tablets to smartphones, chances are that on any given day one could have a few items charging at once. When the device is fully charged, unplug it. Even though it is charged it still uses energy from the outlet.

4. Invest in a power monitor: Having a power monitor is a good idea for any home. It tells you how much energy you are using, and which household items are draining the most power.  By knowing where large amounts of your bill are going, you can adjust your usage accordingly.

5. Use appliance programs: A lot of new household items have self-regulation options.  Take advantage of them. This can range from power management options on a computer to programming setting for heat or air conditioning. Many appliances have some form of power-saving settings, and it is beneficial to utilize them.

6. Be smart in choosing light bulbs: Light bulbs have changed a lot the past few years. LED bulbs and compact fluorescents are much easier on power than older bulbs. They are also inexpensive, so there are multiple benefits to updating your light bulb inventory.

7. Use cold water in washing machines: A cold wash will keep clothes just as clean and uses less energy than hot water. Another fun fact: Hot water can make colors run and helps stains set, crises avoided!

The Elements of Curb Appeal: A Check List

The classic color scheme, beautiful front door, and careful landscaping give this house curb appeal. (Photo: Mark Tenniswood/istockphoto.com)

The spring selling season is almost here. Chaya Kurtz of Networx.com reminds us: You only have 10 seconds to make a first impression, and details make up the whole.

These are the two things you need to know about curb appeal: You have seven to ten seconds to make a first impression; details make up the whole. Paying particular attention to details will ensure that the whole front view of your house makes a super first impression.

This check list will provide you with a rubric of details to pay attention to when you are putting your house on the market. You can read the full article here or see below for some great tips.


1. Is the lawn trimmed and neat? Have brown patches in the grass been replaced or repaired?

2. Have all borders been edged?

3. Are trees and bushes neatly trimmed?

4. If your yard lacks trees and bushes, do you have plans to plant some?

5. Have you hidden unsightly features, like a central air conditioning unit, with green plants?

6. Have you removed all clutter and debris from your lawn and driveway?


1. Is your driveway cracked or chipped? If so, repave it.

2. Is your walkway in good repair? If you have a walkway made of bricks or pavers, weed in between the bricks or pavers, and replace any broken or chipped bricks or pavers. Be sure to edge around the front walk. For paver replacement inspiration, Artistic Paver Mfg., a concrete contractor in Miami who specializes in pavers, has posted some awesome pictures on Hometalk.com.

House facade:

1. Does your house have a neutral, classic color scheme?

2. Is your paint fresh-looking, with no moldy, bubbled, or peeling spots? If not, you need the services of a professional painter.

3. Your inside window treatments are visible from the outside. Do they match? Are they neat-looking and in good repair?

4. Have you installed shutters next to your windows? Adding matching, attractive shutters is a classic way to improve curb appeal.

Front door:

1. Is your front door new-looking? If not, replace it with a new door.

2. Update front door hardware with shiny, new hardware. Make sure that the hardware is consistent with the style and period of your house.

3. Is your mail box attractive? If not, replace it with a modern and attractive mail box.

4. Are your house numbers prominent? New, bold, attractive house numbers are a detail that improve curb appeal.

5. How do your exterior light fixtures look? Up-to-date, fashionable exterior light fixtures are attractive to buyers.


New Car Tax Rules Go In Effect March 1st

-1Starting March 1, 2013 all motor vehicles titled in Georgia are subject to a one-time Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) fee. The TAVT replaces the former ad valorem and sales tax. Here are some highlights of the program:

  • When a vehicle owner applies for title the TAVT is collected based on the fair market value (not purchase price). Any vehicle subject to TAVT is exempt from sales tax. Lease and rental vehicles are exceptions.
  • Motor vehicles purchased in Georgia between January 1, 2012 and February 28, 2013 may opt in between March 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013. Law defines this time frame and there are no exceptions.
  • Vehicles already on the annual ad valorem system that are not eligible to opt in remain on the annual ad valorem tax system.
  • Registration requirements remain the same for all vehicles regardless of whether they are on the TAVT or annual ad valorem tax system.

– Annual decal renewal by your expiration date
– Valid Georgia driver’s license or identification card
– Valid emission certificate
– Mandatory Georgia liability insurance

Click Here For More Information and Frequently Asked Questions

Buy-Sell Indicator Shows Uptick in Metro Housing Markets

buysellHousingWire reports: The buy-sell method as an indicator of trends works well for home prices because it shows a significant amount of upward momentum in the market, Pro Teck Valuation Services said in its Home Value Forecast (HVF).

The HVF examines how many of the national metropolitan areas are experiencing housing recoveries, while exploring various short-term housing indicators that gauge the market by identifying turn points.

“The outlook for the residential real estate market in 2013 is quite different from a year ago. A number of important metros have experienced significant price increases in the past year as the available inventory of homes for sale has decreased by double-digit rates and buyer sentiment has improved markedly,” said Tom O’Grady, CEO of Pro Teck Valuation Services.

The top best performing metros for January included Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; and Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla.

“A number of Texas markets have been in the Top 10 list for a number of months and did not experience meaningful price corrections since their prices were never extended,” said Michael Sklarz, principal of collateral analytics of Pro Teck Valuation Services.

The worst performing metros for January included Boise City-Nampa, ID;Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR; and Syracuse, NY.

“The bottom-ranked metros also represent an interesting mix with two being in the greater New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area. Most have high single or double-digit months of remaining inventory,” Sklarz said.

If you’d like more detailed information on metro Atlanta trends, visit www.PetersenPartners.com and watch a free market update video report. These helpful video snapshots of the local market are updated monthly on the latest available data. To find your neighborhood, just select your area from the drop down menu. Better information leads to better decisions!


6 Ways to Improve Your Garden

Camellia_sasanqua_October_Inspiration_with_Heuchera_Although it’s still winter here in Georgia, spring will be here before you know it! It’s the perfect time to start thinking about your garden. Southern Living‘s expert horticulturist and garden advice columnist, Erica Glasener, offers 6 easy steps to improve and enhance your garden right now:

1. Hire a garden designer to draw up a plan for your garden or garden renovation.

Take photos of your garden before, during and after you make changes (adding and removing plants), and in every season. These photos will document events that occur over time; so you can decide where you want to make additions or deletions. They will also show you how quickly change occurs and plants grow. Use this plan as a guide for the New Year when choosing new plants for your landscape. Knowing which plants will thrive (right plant, right place) can save you time, money and disappointment.

2. Add some evergreen structure: Winter is the perfect time to evaluate the layout and design of your garden. 

Once deciduous trees and shrubs shed their leaves (with the exception of beech trees and a few others that hold on to their foliage until early spring) you can see the framework of your garden. Are there evergreens that enhance the space and provide enclosure? They don’t have to be tall, even waist-high shrubs will help define your garden space and serve as a backdrop for your herbaceous plants. Now is a good time to add shrubs and trees to your garden. Don’t forget to water if it doesn’t rain. Remember too, small plants that are container grown will quickly catch up with larger sizes that are balled and burlapped.

3. Feed your soil. Spread a layer (about 1 inch thick) of compost in your garden beds.  Keep it away from stems and trunks. Your plants will thank you with lush, healthy growth in the spring.

4. Reduce the size of your lawn. Enlarge your planting beds.

Once established shrubs and perennials require fewer resources (ie. water and fertilizer) to survive and thrive than turf.

5. Add some fragrance to your garden. 

Site fragrant plants along paths or walkways, making it easy to access their perfume. For an evergreen shrub with deliciously scented flowers, try Jubilation Gardenia.

6. Plant some spring bloomers including bulbs, perennials and shrubs. This will give you something to look forward to.

For more tips and planting ideas, visit http://southernlivingplants.com/feature/6_ways_to_improve_your_garden.

What Color Are Your Throw Pillows this Spring?

Pantone+color+chart+2013Most home sellers have far too much on their minds to worry about what happens at Fashion Week in New York. But maybe they should.

We all know fashion is fickle. As soon as one trend catches on, another has begun to take its place. Fashion has a dizzying pace that’s costly for any wardrobe to keep up with.

When it comes to home decor, trends change rapidly, too. Painting and decorating your home is a lengthy, often costly process you can’t just change every season with every new trend. But, if you’re trying to stage your home for a quick sale, a few fashion forward decorative items may be just the ticket. A few new throw pillows or decorative items in the latest colors may not get you any more money for your home, but they can give your home a fresh look. More importantly, they can send some invaluable positive messages to buyers. Home buyers see the new fashions in stores, commercials and magazines, too. Seeing them in your home could suggest you keep up with (ie. maintain) things and that’s attractive.

For over 20 years, Pantone has surveyed the designers of New York Fashion Week to bring consumers the new season’s most important color trends.Pantone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Rite, Incorporated, is the world-renowned authority on color and provider of color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries. The PANTONE FASHION + HOME Color System is a vital tool for designers in the apparel, home furnishings and interior design industries for selecting and specifying color used in the manufacture of textiles and fashion. Pantone publishes a biannual report forecasting seasonal color trends for multiple usages, including menswear, women’s wear, cosmetics and industrial design. In 2004, PANTONE began publishing its Pantone View Home, a comprehensive forecasting tool for the home furnishings industry. If the color’s in Pantone’s report, countless goods have probably already been produced in that shade and are already in or on their way to a store near you.

So what’s THE color for spring according to Pantone’s just released report for 2013? Green. Pantone reports: The prevalence of green this spring is undeniable. Similar to the many shades in our natural surroundings, this season’s greens offer a stunning foreground or the perfect backdrop for all other hues. Like the first signs of spring, Tender Shoots, a vibrant yellow-green, is invigorating, active and cheerful, while Grayed Jade, a subtle, hushed green with a gray undertone, brings about a mood of quiet reflection and repose. Sophisticated Emerald, a lively, radiant green, inspires insight and clarity while enhancing our sense of well-being. From one extreme to the other, combining all three greens presents an intriguing choice much like Mother Nature intended.

Other top shades this spring are African violet, poppy red, nectarine, lemon zest, dusk blue and Monaco blue. To download the complete report, visit www.Pantone.com.

Sneak a Peak at Luxury Homes & Estates for Sale in Atlanta!

-1There are some really beautiful luxury homes and estates for sale in and around Atlanta right now and you can easily view them all in the latest edition of our Luxury Homes and Estate Properties digital magazine. These properties represent some of the finest luxury real estate in Metro Atlanta, North Georgia, the Southern Crescent and West Georgia. You can view the magazine at www.atlantaluxuryhomesmagazine.com.

This digital magazine is an innovative format to display the visual beauty of these luxury properties. It is also an eco-friendly option that supports our company initiatives to be respectful of our environment. The digital magazine is best viewed in the fullscreen mode. Just click on the navigation tools to view pages or zoom in & out. The thumbnail pages also make it easy to navigate and select an individual page.

The Luxury Homes & Estate Properties magazine is organized into the following sections:

  • Welcome To Luxury Living In Metro Atlanta
  • Welcome To Luxury Living In The Southern Crescent
  • Welcome To Luxury Living In Lake, Mountain & Estate Properties

We will be updating this digital magazine each season to present you with fresh articles and our latest luxury homes & estate properties.

Right now, there are incredible buying opportunities for luxury properties in our market. But this will not last forever. Take your time and enjoy the tour. But be careful – you may just find the home of your dreams! If you know someone else who might be interested in receiving a customized report about the latest trends and issues in the real estate market, please visit us at www.PetersenPartners.com