When Renovating, Keep it Simple

From our friends at Realtor Magazine, here are some great suggestions to keep in mind when considering a home remodeling project.


Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.44.15 AMWhen it comes to remodeling, it’s best to keep it simple. Small cost-effective home renovations will likely get the best return on investment, according to surveys, appraisers, and real estate professionals.

According to the 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, large-scale home remodeling projects are often a gamble, and aren’t likely to return their full cost. Small home improvements like upgrading to a steel door, updating the garage door, replacing wood windows, and making small updates to the kitchen will recoup nearly 100 percent of their cost. Bottom line? Simple replacements cost a lot less and provide a bigger payback to homes than remodels or additions.

“The point is that the more expensive the work you do on a property, the higher the risk is that the buyer is not going to be willing to pay for it,” Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel, a New York appraisal company told the New York Times recently. “If your kitchen is old and dated and you completely renovate it, you’re gambling that the buyer is going to like your taste.”

Focusing on renovation projects that improve the curb appeal of a home is a good strategy. Refinishing hardwood floors, replacing light fixtures, re-grouting bathroom tiles, giving the walls a fresh coat of paint are all simple renovations that can add big value. “A lot of these minor upgrades relate to appearance, and the first impression a buyer might get for a property,” says Michael Vargas, an appraiser in Manhattan. “They’re not necessarily concerned about what’s behind the wall; they’re just concerned about how the property looks.”

While not all remodeling jobs earn a killer payback, the Cost vs. Value survey found that minor kitchen remodels that focus on upgrading the cabinets, appliances, and countertops are often a good bet, with a national average payback of 79.3 percent.

Still, remodeling projects are not “one size fits all” and what sellers can hope to recoup from improving their home depends on many factors, including where they live, the condition of the home, the quality of the work, and if the upgrades are comparable to those in the neighborhood.

Top renovations for apartments and houses:

  1. Refinishing hardwood floors
  2. Painting walls
  3. Replacing kitchen countertops
  4. Installing new kitchen appliances
  5. Replacing kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts

Top renovations for houses only:

  1. Replacing the front door with a new steel-and-glass door
  2. Replacing the garage door
  3. Replacing siding
  4. Adding a wood deck
  5. Replacing windows with wood windows

Sources: “Small Renovations, Big Payoff,” The New York Times (April, 24, 2015), “The 10 Most Cost-Effective Renovations,” The New York Times (April 24, 2015) “2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value: Less Is More,” REALTOR® Magazine (Jan. 2015)

We Remember Our Heroes!

Memorial Day (May 25th) is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.
Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving. Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.
This Memorial Day, we remember that freedom comes at great cost – freedom is not free.

3 Easy Steps to Determine What Your Home Is Worth

The website of financial guru Dave Ramsey recently posted a great article about determining your home’s worth. The article offers some good tips and make a great point about the value of hiring an experienced and professional real estate agent.


 

Selling your home is a big decision. But once you’re ready to make the move, nothing can break your stride.

Except the market value of your home.

Screech!

Yep, that pesky number has stopped many a seller in their tracks over the past several years. But we’ve got great news! A recent report by CoreLogic found that 90% of mortgaged homes now have positive equity—and yours could be one of them!

So how do you know for sure what your home is worth? It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

A Home Value Primer

Before we dig into the steps, let’s take a moment to define true market value. In a nutshell, market value is what buyers are willing to pay for your home. It has nothing to do with your mortgage statement or how many special memories you’ve built there.

Of course, if you search online, you’re bound to find all sorts of values for your home out there. Many of these estimates are automatically generated based on public information like tax records, sales history and comparable sales. Sounds great . . . until you realize that your home’s unique features and overall condition were never part of the equation.

Clearly, these figures aren’t a reliable measure of your home’s actual market value. But that doesn’t make them worthless. Let’s explore one way you can use websites like Zillow to your advantage.

Step 1: Test the Temperature

If you search for your address on Zillow, you’ll find a line graph on your home’s feature page. This handy tool provides a snapshot of market ups and downs.

Look for the solid blue line, which represents your home’s estimated value. Track its overall movement, doing your best to ignore the figures associated with it.

  • Does your estimated home value trend upward or downward?
  • How does it compare to your city (green dotted line) and ZIP code (blue dotted line)?

If values across the board show consistent growth, that’s a good sign your market’s heating up!

Step 2: Survey the Landscape

For an at-a-glance view of how homes are moving and shaking near you, use Zillow’s map feature to expand your search. Pay attention to these three things:

  • Foreclosures:  Foreclosure rates have dropped dramatically over the past few years, so they shouldn’t be a huge worry. But keep an eye out for any neighboring foreclosures that could put a dent in your home value.
  • Current listings: Want a sneak peek at your competition? Check out what’s for sale around you to see how they’re priced. Just keep in mind that current listings generally reflect what sellers hope to bank from the sale and not necessarily what buyers will pay.
  • Recently sold homes: Completed sales provide better insight into actual market conditions. Look for homes with similar features and square footage in your neighborhood. If they’ve fetched healthy prices over the past six months, it might be a great time to break out the for-sale sign.

Step 3: Get Specific

If all signs point to go, you’re ready to home in on the perfect price for your home. As we mentioned, you’ll find all sorts of values for your home floating around the Internet. But the real deal? That comes from a pro.

Here’s why: A real estate agent doesn’t pull stale information from the shelf. They use the power of human intelligence to compare your home’s nitty-gritty details with recent sales and current listings. Let’s say you installed a new roof last year, but your kitchen’s straight from the ’70s. An experienced agent knows how to weigh those factors against the rest of the market to determine a competitive price for your home.

No computer can do that. Yet your success as a seller rides on it.

Price it too high, and buyers will pass you up without ever stepping through the door. Price it too low, and you could lose thousands of dollars. The right price gets you the most money in the least amount of time.

Don’t Miss Out on Free Advice!

If you want to know what your home is worth, ask a real estate agent you trust for a free comparative market analysis. A true pro puts service above sales and takes time to explain your options so you can make the decision that’s right for you.


If you are considering selling your home, let our experienced team help you determine your home’s real value based on the very latest data for your area. We are the #1 team in Georgia for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, with the experience and professionalism you can trust. Find out more about our team at www.PetersenPartners.com or email us at info@petersenpartners.com for your free home valuation.

Metro Atlanta’s Real Estate Market – Spring 2015

The spring real estate market is here and sales activity is very high. Inventory is very low in many areas, even though the overall metro area shows higher levels. Large corporate moves are having significant impact in the Central Perimeter, North Fulton and Intown markets.

  • Closings for Metro Atlanta in April were down 3.5% compared to last month and up 1% compared to last year. This reflects a normal slowdown due to spring breaks in early April.
  • The average sales price was $274,000 in April versus $260,000 in March. The ASP for the past 12 months was $250,000 which was up 45% from the bottom of 2011.
  • Listed inventory was up 5.8% from last month and up 3.1% compared to last year. Inventory is up 36% from the recent bottom of February 2013. But the limited availability of highly desirable properties in select markets is still driving multiple offers and very quick sales. Remember, real estate is local and markets can be very different.
  • Months of supply increased slightly to 4.1 months versus 3.8 months in March. Six months is considered normal. Desirable inventory is starting to get very low in many areas.
    The latest Case-Shiller Index (4/28/15) reports that Metro Atlanta home values are up 44% from the recent bottom of March 2012.
  • New Homes are moving fast – but the problem is that many builders cannot build them fast enough. Visit www.NewHomesServicesGA.com to view new home communities.
  • Commercial real estate is also making a comeback in Metro Atlanta. Smart RE Data reports that land sales, industrial sales and office leases are improving. Our Commercial Real Estate Division specializes in these areas and would be happy to help you.

We would be honored to assist you or someone you know with their real estate needs. We are experts in the local market and have access to proprietary information sources that are not available to the public. Visit www.PetersenPartners.com for more information on our award winning team. Better information leads to better decisions!

The 7 Most-Needed Repair Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Sooner or later, owning a home comes with necessary maintenance. Sometimes you will need to  hire a professional. But many smaller repairs can be easily fixed yourself. So, relax. Lisa Kaplan Gordon of Houselogic has put together a great guide that shows how to make short work of seven very common repair annoyances from a leaky toilet to a sticky window. Watch quick videos on these top maintenance issues:

1. Fix a leaky toilet. Running toilets not only rob sleep, they waste water and jack up your bill. Here’s how to change a flapper — the usual suspect — and solve other likely problems. Fixing a dripping faucet is a repair you can also tackle on your own. Just don’t forget to turn off the water supply before you get started.

2. Repair drywall holes. The hardest part of drywall repair is making the patch flush with the existing wall. A “pumpkin patch” is an easy repair that cuts down on sanding.

3. Adjust cabinet doors. Changes in humidity can make cabinet doors rub, refuse to close, or just look cockeyed. Adjusting them is easy and generally requires only a screwdriver.

4. Open a stuck window. Windows stick when paint, dust, or moisture builds. Use a utility knife (or a pizza cutter) to remove old paint. Be careful not to gouge the wood sash. If high humidity is making windows hard to move, run a humidifier that sucks moisture out of air.

5. Stop a leaking faucet. A dripping faucet can waste 5 gallons of water per day. If you can’t replace the faulty part immediately, tie a string around the faucet and let it fall into the drain: Dripping water will silently flow down the string.

6) Silence door squeaks. Take the squeak out of doors by lubricating top and bottom hinges with a little WD-40 or white lithium grease. If you don’t have any on hand, olive oil is a quick but temporary fix.

7) Turn off the main water line. Don’t wait until water gushes into your house to search for the main water line. When things are calm and dry, locate and practice turning it on and off.
See the guide, watch the videos, and read more at: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/preventative-home-maintenance/home-maintenance-101-things-every-home-owner-should-know/#ixzz3ZBDFzVJH

Lights, Camera, Action!

Did you knScreen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.11.26 AMow that Georgia has become the Hollywood of the South, ranked #4 behind California, New York, and Texas? In 2014, TV networks, Hollywood studios, and more created $5.1B in economic impact in Georgia. If you’re a property owner and want to get in on the action or dream of spending time in the spotlight, check out the state’s departments geared toward the entertainment business. Start by exploring www.georgia.org/industries/entertainment. This website offers permitting information which may seem only relevant to producers, however, there is a section on listing your property as a film location as well as how to be an extra. To find out which shows are currently in production in Georgia, visit www.cometourgeorgia.com.