How to Take the Stress Out of Renovating Your Home

Even if your new home is move-in ready, part of the fun of home ownership is putting your own personal stamp on it. Sometimes just a little paint and your own furnishings and photos are enough to personalize your space; but sometimes, taking down a wall or two can be just as gratifying!

I have worked with some buyers who love the home renovation process. Over the years many have gotten great at executing each stage so they save time, money, and manage the updates from start to finish in a way that doesn’t disrupt their lives too much!

Actually, other people’s mistakes are a great way to learn. I’ve put together a quick list of things to consider before you even make your first Home Depot run!

  1. Let yourself be inspired. Sites like Pinterest and home improvement websites in general will give you plenty of options to consider. If you haven’t attempted any home improvement projects in a while, you’ll be surprised by how much easier it is to achieve high-end looks with DIY kits and tools designed for non-pros. There are also millions of ideas out there of ways to recycle what you already own for a “greener” DIY.
  2. Shop. Once you’ve got the concept, compare pricing so you get the most competitive ones on materials and tools.
  3. Make your budget. Now that you’ve got a good idea of what your renovation could cost, this is the point where you decide how much money you really want to allocate. A good rule of thumb is to subtract about 25% from the max you want to spend and use that amount as your bottom line. That 25% can then be your margin for error and is cash that can hopefully go back in the bank because you won’t need it, but it is a great way to maintain your budget and have a financial contingency.
  4. Make your project plan. Depending on the complexity of the job, your list may or may not be really detailed. I always like a comprehensive list that breaks down what has to be bought, what has to be done before the renovation is begun, and the priority and timeframe of every step. If you are ordering online (which can be less expensive than buying the item from the retail location) factor in a possible delay in shipping and/or an out-of-stock status.
  5. Know your limitations. If you know nothing about wiring an outlet, don’t learn how to on YouTube. Hire an electrician.
  6. Make a sketch. Visuals are powerful. After you’ve taken the measurements of the space, draw up a floor plan to scale. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but taping it to a wall near the construction zone with your notes and steps will come in really handy.
  7. Prep the adjacent space. Whatever you can do to mask the areas surrounding your renovation from being impacted by dust and dirt, do it. Nothing takes the fun out of a DIY than having to clean furniture, etc. that you wouldn’t have had to if you just used some well-placed drop cloths.

Whether you are moving in or selling a house, there’s a ton of changes you can make so it feels like home or so that it appeals to buyers. And never underestimate the satisfaction of a done DIY project in general. Especially when it gets done on time and under budget!

Posted in Blog, Tips for Buyers | Tagged | Leave a comment

Top Five Reasons to Buy a Home in 2014

While it’s apparent to sellers that the last few years have favored buyers, home prices have continued to stabilize.

We have also been seeing a resurgence of bidding wars in certain areas at particular price points, so we can no longer still call today’s real estate market a buyers’ one.

I can say that the time for a buyer to make his or her move is right now. Many factors need to align for a real estate purchase to make sense…and they are.

  1. Rates. They are currently low. There are a variety of loan products available from conventional to FHA to VA, and right now according to Freddie Mac, a 30-year-fixed-rate loan averages 4.16%. They are however projected to go up a point next year according to many economists.
  2. Market. We can assess what your monthly rent is versus what your mortgage payment would be. The chances are, your Florida rental property could be costing you significantly more than a mortgage and earning you no equity.
  3. Inventory. There is once again a really nice inventory of well-maintained homes from which to choose. According to Chief Economist Lawrence Yun at the National Association of Realtors, “Inventories are at their highest level in over a year, and price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels”.
  4. Prices. They are on the rise. Buying low and selling high is the dream of home ownership, but finding the perfect window to buy obviously takes perfect timing. Grabbing the right house before it goes out of reach is achieved by keeping your eyes open and remaining in touch with your Realtor. (I use Listingbook as a tool for my clients to stay on top of changes in their market of interest.)
  5. Jobs. In certain industries (for many areas of the country), employment is once again available. Along with more Americans learning how to live on a budget (and consequently stabilizing their personal finances), there is a more grounded feeling of financial confidence through gainful employment.

There’s no doubt it was a perfect storm that caused the meltdown of the real estate market. It is now these five factors that serve as the foundation of its stabilization.

Posted in Blog, Tips for Buyers | Tagged , | Leave a comment