8 Home Projects with a High ROI

Image2With warmer weather and longer days, summer is the ideal time of year to take on a project in or around your home. Many contractors and other pros often find this time of year a little slower, as many homeowners are waiting until fall to tackle big interior projects, which means that you’ll have an easier time finding the right person for the job.

These eight projects are designed to add value to your home, without breaking the bank at the same time. Tackling them now will make your home more comfortable for the coming months, while ensuring that you can get maximum ROI when the time comes to sell.

1. Fix Window Leaks

Air gap around your windows could be driving your air conditioning bill up higher than it needs to be this summer. Old or leaking windows can cause you to lose as much as 20% of the energy you use to heat and cool your home, which can also make it less comfortable as well.

There are two ways to fix window leaks: installing new replacement windows, or installing weatherstripping around your existing windows. While both will help you save money on your energy bills, replacement windows will also help you recoup about 73.9% ROI at time of resale.

Cost: Weatherstripping your windows costs around $168 on average, while replacement windows cost between $650 and $1,500.

Money Saving Tips: Get an energy audit done on your home before you start replacing windows. You may find that only a few need to be replaced, while the rest can be caulked or weatherstripped to save.

2. Basement Remodel

Remodeling your basement is a great way to increase your existing living space, without the hassle or expense of a major addition. Basements are often cooler in the hot summer months than the rest of the home, so remodeling can help you gain more usable living areas during this time of year. A basement remodel featuring things like waterproofing or french drain installations can also recoup you about 70% at time of resale.

Cost: A full basement remodel including a new bathroom can cost around $50,000. However, waterproofing costs around $5,000, while installing a new set of stairs costs around $1,000 to $2,000.

Money Saving Tips: Simply waterproofing your basement will help make the area livable, allowing you to simply paint the concrete walls and floors, and begin furnishing the room for less.

3. Bathroom Remodel

Bathrooms are among the most frequently used rooms in the home. During the humid summer months, older bathrooms can often become home to things like mold and mildew, which makes now the best time to start remodeling. A bathroom remodel, including all new fixtures, shower, and ceramic tile can recoup you around 64.8% at time of resale, while making your home healthier and more functional at the same time.

Cost: A full scale bathroom remodel costs around $18,000. However, there are many components that can be done for less, such as installing a new bathroom fan to help dry out the room for $350 – $400 or putting in a new mirror for $120 – $150.

Money Saving Tips: Cosmetic updates to an otherwise functional bathroom can save you a lot of money. Simply painting the walls or replacing the sink and faucet can give your bathroom a facelift for less.

4. Add Attic Insulation

Another way to help lower energy costs this summer is to add some insulation to your attic. Most homes are underinsulated, particularly in this area, which can contribute to higher energy costs. Insulating your attic will make your home more comfortable, while saving you money on your AC bill this summer. Best of all, attic insulation recoups a whopping 107% at time of resale.

Cost: The cost to insulate an attic is around $400 for fiberglass insulation.

Money Saving Tips: Purchase the highest R-value you can find for your climate, and you’ll save even more on your energy bills year round.

Image35. Build a New Deck

Enjoy more time spent outdoors this summer on a new wood deck. Decks increase your usable outdoor space, make entertaining easier, and have a rate of return at around 71.5%. Start this project early in the summer to make the most of your new space before fall.

Cost: The average cost to build a new deck is around $10,630.

Money Saving Tips: If you have an existing deck, consider having it repaired, rather than replacing it. Often pressure washing and staining a deck, while replacing some of the boards can help extend its life.

6. Replace Your Roof 

After a long winter filled with ice dams, your roof may be in poor condition and in need of replacement. Don’t wait until summer storms send water pouring in through your ceiling; have your roof taken care of at the start of the season to ensure that it’s in good condition for the rain to come. A new roof will help you recoup about 68.8% at time of resale as well.

Cost: The average cost of a roof replacement is around $6,000.

Money Saving Tips: If the majority of your roof is in good condition, you may want to opt for a partial replacement or roof repair to save money.

7. Replace Your Siding 

Siding is just as important as your roof when it comes to both protecting your home from the elements, and to giving it its curb appeal. The nicer weather of the summer makes this the ideal time of year to take care of this important project. Replacing your siding can recoup you as much as 76.4% at time of resale. Replacing your siding can also help you take care of other issues such as rotting fascia, and can improve the appearance of your home at the same time.

Cost: The average cost of replacing your siding is around $7,510 for vinyl siding.

Money Saving Tips: If your siding is in decent condition, consider making repairs to those areas that require it, and painting the entire exterior to give it a fresh look for less.

8. Universal Bathroom Design 

Universal design is one of the newest trends that’s recouping costs in a big way. In many cases, universal design costs less than a complete bathroom remodel, but can make your home easier to sell because it appeals to a wider group of people. Take on the project this summer when plumbers aren’t as busy to get the job done faster. This type of project also recoups about 68.4% at time of resale.

Cost: The average cost of universal bathroom design is around $9,000.

Money Saving Tips: Many things in a universal bathroom can be installed DIY for less, including lever handles on faucets and a universal height toilet.

 

Source: Fixr.com “8 Home Projects with a High ROI,” Styled, Staged & Sold Blog, REALTOR Magazine (August 7, 2017)

Mortgage Tips for Newbie Buyers

The more home buyers know about mortgages, the better prepared they’ll be. The Motley Fool recently featured a range of mortgage tips to help educate first-time buyers, including:

Know your credit score. Credit scores can be a big key to knowing how much you can afford and how much interest you’ll be paying. Check your credit report and FICO score before even starting the homebuying process.

Estimate how much can be borrowed. Lenders generally don’t like to see a monthly housing payment—one that includes taxes and insurances—that’s more than 28 percent of a pretax income. The percentage threshold often cited for total debt—which includes the mortgage payment—is then no more than 36 percent. Some lenders will offer differing percentages but these are the most commonly used.

Gather the docs. Buyers will need documents showing their income, employment situation, identity, and more when applying for a mortgage. Start collecting your latest tax returns, bank and brokerage statements, pay stubs, W-2s, Social Security card, marriage license (if applicable), and contact numbers for your employer’s HR department.

Get pre-approved. A preapproval is similar to a full mortgage approval and can be submitted with an offer on a home. It shows the seller the seriousness of the buyer, who has already secured financing to purchase the house.

Add up closing costs. Closing costs generally range from 2 to 3 percent of a mortgage principal amount. Make sure you factor in closing costs to their overall homebuying budget.

Shop around. Gather several quotes from mortgage lenders; it could be worth thousands of dollars in savings over the course of a 30-year mortgage. Mortgage applications that take place over a short period of time won’t have an adverse effect on a credit score either, The Motley Fool notes.

Source: “Mortgage Tips for Newbie Buyers,” Daily Real Estate News (July 17, 2017)

Mortgage Rates Aren’t Budging

Mortgage rates have mostly held steady the past few weeks, with the 30-year fixed-rate loan still averaging below 4 percent.

“The 10-year Treasury yield was relatively flat this week, as was the 30-year mortgage rate, which rose 1 basis point to 3.93 percent,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Despite a strong advance estimate for second-quarter GDP, markets are erring on the side of caution.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Aug. 3:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.93 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from a 3.92 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.43 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.20 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.74 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.15 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.18 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.73 percent.

Source: “Mortgage Rates Aren’t Budging,” REALTOR Magazine (August 4, 2017)

Home Renovations That May Not Be Worth It

Not every improvement made to a house will ultimately raise its value. Here are a few projects that may not pay as much back at resale as others, according to AOL Finance:

Home office remodels.

More people work from home nowadays, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily want a dedicated office. As such, investing more than $20,000 in a new work space may not be worth the expense when it comes to selling. “Instead of a great place to work, [buyers may] see it as a room they’d have to remodel should they want to use it for something else,” AOL Finance notes.

Master bedroom upgrades.

Homeowners may be drawn to visions of a grand bathroom, walk-in closet, custom cabinets, and a sitting area in their master bedroom. But the expense may be way more than what a homeowner will net at resale. “Between the amenities and materials and the cost of reconstruction, you’re going to at least pay thousands for an upscale addition,” according to the article. “Your return on investment, however, is about half of that amount.” Instead of a complete renovation, homeowners may be able to find simpler ways to enhance the space.

Sunrooms.

You’ll likely shell out more than $50,000 to add one and net only about half that in a return, according to AOL Finance. Many buyers may not perceive the sunroom as a functional room and, therefore, might not be as willing to pay extra for a home that has one.

Special-purpose rooms.

Homeowners who opt to add entertainment rooms may want to brace themselves for the fact that the payback at resale may not be nearly as much as what they paid to add it. Special-purpose rooms give the appearance of adding value to a home, but not everyone will opt for the same type of use that the owner might.  As such, the added movie theater, game room, or kids’ play area may require more upfront costs than the extra value it’ll bring at resale.

If you are looking for projects that will pay back at resale, let our experience and knowledge of the local market help you determine whether the project would help boost your home’s value. Contact us at info@petersenpartners.com.

Sellers Need to Know: Report on Sales of New and Existing Homes in June

According to Realtor Magazine, a joint report released by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows home sales dropped by 6.1 percent in the South in June, but the greatest number of new homes was sold in the South in June.

Nationwide, new-home sales inched up 0.8 percent in June. Indeed, it seems like new construction seems to be popping up all over the metro Atlanta area, but the report notes that the inventory of new homes is tight and the discrepancy in sales of existing homes is also largely due to lower inventory levels.

What does this mean for you if you’re considering selling your home? It could be good news! Lower inventory can mean a better seller’s market. If you’re considering selling your home in 2017, knowing the latest data and trends in your neighborhood can make all the difference. Find out how many potential buyers are looking for a home just like yours AND get 3 home value estimates (including a Zestimate)! Check out Berkshire Hathaway’s new home value estimator: Buyside. It’s free and instant; try it today!

Aspects of a Home Buyers Shouldn’t Overlook

As a buyer, it’s important to consider that after moving in to a home, you will discover a lot about your new home—you may wish you had paid closer attention to some items before signing the sale contract. You can avoid regrets by assessing a property carefully before purchasing it. Realtor.com® advises giving particular consideration to these areas:

Nighttime atmosphere. View a home at different times of the day and night. “A community can change drastically when everyone is home from work and school,” says Aaron Norris of the Norris Group in Riverside, Calif. For example, Norris says he learned after purchasing his own home that college students pack into nearby houses and party on the weekends.

The commute. Test the morning and evening drive between your potential home and work. Does traffic make it difficult to get to work on time? You should know whether the location of the home will require you to leave earlier in the morning.

Homeowners association rules. If the home you want to buy falls under a homeowners association, be sure to review a copy of the bylaws. The association’s conditions, covenants, and restrictions describe regulations around what homeowners can do with their property. You’ll also learn what neighbors are allowed to do—in case, for example, you are uncomfortable living next to a home that is being rented out.

The need for specialty inspections. The home may contain items that need to be assessed by specialists who go beyond a general inspection. For example, if the property contains a septic system, well, or solar panels, you may want a special evaluation.

Source: “Aspects of a Home Buyers Shouldn’t Overlook,” Realtor Mag (July 10, 2017).

TLC’s “Trading Spaces” Looking for Atlanta-Area Participants

After 10 years, TLC is rebooting their hit show, “Trading Spaces”, and they are looking for people in the Atlanta area for the show. According to their website:

We are searching for sets of neighbors to redesign and decorate one room in each other’s houses.

You’ll work with our team of expert designers and contractors to create a new space for your neighbors to enjoy!

Relatives, best friends, coworkers – all pairs are encouraged to apply if you live on the same block or street.

Are you and your neighbors the perfect candidates? Apply below!

But first, see if you meet the requirements!

Before submitting your info, please make sure you meet the requirements.

  • Participants (Neighbors) must submit 2 pairs (teams) that wish to trade spaces.
  • All participants must be over 18 years of age at time of submission.
  • Participants must have a room in their home they are willing to have renovated/decorated at the discretion of the designer assigned to their space.
  • Participants must be residents of the home they wish to trade.
  • Participants must own the home they wish to trade.
  • Teams must live no further than 1/4 mile from one another, with preference to those that live next door to one another.
  • Neighbors must have a preexisting relationship with the team they wish to trade spaces with.
  • All applicants must pass an extensive background check to be considered for the show.

To apply, visit their website or email them at info@tradingspaces.com

 

source: “TLC’s “Trading Spaces” Looking for Atlanta-Area Participants,” Scoop OTP (July 17, 2017)

The Best Paint Color to Sell a Home

Lure potential buyers with a simple and clean palette. Shades of white and off-white are the top colors for a quick home sale, Jody Finglas of Finglas Painting in Ossining, N.Y., told USA Today.

“White is the foundation that anchors the home,” adds Friley Saucier, a broker-associate with Sotheby’s International Realty in Naples, Fla. “This is absolutely what is most requested when I’m working with home buyers.”

Finglas says less is more. “We’re seeing a lot of requests for lighter, brighter colors,” he notes.

When working with a white backdrop, the trick is to add in color through the furnishings and accessories, Finglas says. He says selecting the right shade of white paint isn’t easy. “A white kitchen can mean 40 different colors,” Finglas says.

Homeowners should still bring home paint swatches, says Dwayne Bergmann of Dwayne Bergmann Interiors in Fort Myers, Fla.

“Whites can have a more blueish hue or more of a brown or even pinkish hue depending on the exact lighting,” Bergmann says. “Even a pure white is going to look different.”

Source: “The Best Paint Color to Sell a Home,” Realtor Mag (July 13, 2017).

4 Things Home Inspectors Don’t Often Check

Most home inspectors carefully scrutinize a house from top to bottom, many with checklists that contain more than 1,600 features to evaluate. But some items require a specialist for a more thorough evaluation.

The fireplace and chimney

Inspectors often open and shut dampers to make sure they’re working properly. They may shine a flashlight up the chimney to look for any obstructions. But for anything further, buyers likely will need to hire a fireplace inspector to look for things like soot and creosote buildup, which are possible fire-starters. Those extra inspections could cost anywhere from $80 to $200.

Foundation issues

A geotechnical or structural engineer may need to be brought in if a buyer has concerns about the ground underneath the home, such as whether any shifting, tilting, or sinkholes have caused damage. Professionals will test the soil for several potential problems. Basic testing likely will cost between $300 and $1,000, while more invasive testing can cost upwards of $5,000. Buyers on a budget might consult a free site called PlotScan, which reveals any history of sinkholes and other natural catastrophes in the vicinity of the home, to better understand whether they need further inspection help.

Well and septic systems

Some home inspectors trained to evaluate septic systems may be willing to do an extra inspection for an added fee to test a home’s well water and septic system. Otherwise, buyers will have to hire a well inspector. These professionals will collect water samples to test in a lab for coliform, arsenic, and other harmful bacteria and chemicals. They’ll also make sure that seals, vents, and screens have been properly maintained and that the well and pump are producing enough water. That typically will cost about $250 for an inspection.

Roof

“We’ll go up on roofs if it’s safe,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors. “But if it’s raining or it’s too high, we’re not able to get to it.” A specialized roof inspection, which costs about $500 to $750, offers a closer look. Some roof inspectors will even do an initial consultation for free. Those who don’t go on the roof can sometimes conduct an infrared inspection to look for any temperature differences along the roof to see where heat or air conditioning might be escaping.

Source: “4 Things Home Inspectors Don’t Often Check,” realtor.com® (June 28, 2017)

Summer Home Security Tips

An increase in burglaries during the summer months means it’s time to help safeguard your while you’re away on vacation or if you’re absent while your home is on the market. Realtor Magazine offers six tips for preventing break-ins.

  1. Front door surveillance. Because 34 percent of break-ins happen through the front door of a home, a good recommendation is to install a smart doorbell that routes to your phone. Other security options include two-way speakers that will give visitors the impression the owner is home, or video cameras so your clients can see who’s at the door from their phone.
  2. Secured windows. The second most common break-in location is a first floor window, the access point of 23 percent of burglars. Install sash locks and wireless motion sensors that will alert you if a window is opened or broken.
  3. Don’t forget the AC unit. Pushing in a window air conditioning unit is another common break-in method. Remove the AC unit while you’re away or install motion sensors near the unit.
  4. Barring patio and sliding glass doors. Sliding doors should not only be locked, but should also have a barrier bar in the tracks. Consider installing motion detectors in this area as well.
  5. Leave the lights on. The goal is to make the home appear lived in, even if you are vacationing or have already moved out. At the very least, use light timers or try smart lights that can be controlled from your phone.
  6. Call 911 from afar. A homeowner trying to reach the police from a remote location can take valuable minutes. Many home security companies, such as Ooma, offer remote 911 calling.