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Sept. 27, 2021

Should you Buy a Home - or Keep Renting?


It’s a big question with no easy answer: Should you keep renting, or is it time to think about buying a home? One of the major benefits of being a homeowner is building equity with each mortgage payment, instead of putting money into your landlord’s pocket.

But that doesn’t mean buying is always the best choice—as a renter, you enjoy more flexibility and avoid many of the costs that come with homeownership.  “This is an extremely personal decision, for those that want the flexibility to move quickly, have no desire to maintain a property, or need to save up money before making a purchase, renting is worthy of strong consideration.”  But there's more to consider. We understand the magnitude of your rent versus buy quandary, and we're here to assist.  Here are seven questions to ponder to help decide what's right for you.  

1. Will you even qualify for a mortgage?

If you qualify for a mortgage, buying a home might be a good next step. If not, you should first spend some time shoring up your finances.  “Qualifying for financing is a critical part of the home-buying journey. So if you have challenges in this realm, renting may be a good alternative,” Ross says.  You can also use the realtor.com® rent vs. buy calculator to see if the cost of homeownership is actually a better deal than renting given your location and budget.  

2. Can you afford the closing costs?

So you've saved up enough for a down payment—congratulations! But beware: If you want to buy, there are more upfront costs involved.  “Buying a home involves more money out of pocket than just the down payment,” says Michele D. Hammond, a Chase private-client home lending adviser. “Closing costs are used to pay for items such as appraisals, inspections, and much more. These can amount to up to 3% or more of the final purchase price.”  When you’re buying a home with a six-figure price tag, 3% or more can mean many thousands of dollars that you’ll need to pay upfront, in addition to your down payment.

3. Can you afford the neighborhood?

Some costs—such as the down payment, closing costs, home inspection and appraisal—are just the price of admission to homeownership. But other real estate expenses depend entirely on where you choose to buy.  “When considering the overall cost of homeownership, the price of insurance and property taxes will vary based on community and location,” Ross says.  You can check with your local tax office or assessor to confirm the property taxes in your area and calculate what you can expect to pay based on a home’s assessed value. Keep in mind that property taxes vary widely by state and city.

4. How long do you plan to stick around?

If you’re buying a home, you should plan to stay there at least two to three years if you don’t want to lose money. “Remember, there is a cost to buy and sell a home,” Ross says.  When you're buying, you have closing costs and a down payment. When you're selling, you'll need to factor in the real estate sale commission, which is typically 6% of the sales price. Considering that homes appreciate from 4% to 5% a year, he says, you might need to live there for a few years to cover the cost of a sale.

"If you’re confident you’ll stay in place for five to 10 years or more, that’s when you’ll find the prospect for meaningful wealth creation,” If you’re not sure you can commit to a home for at least 24 months, Ross recommends renting and setting aside any money you’ve saved for a down payment and closing costs. It's better to save that money in the meantime and have it available when you’re ready to buy a home.

5. How important is the freedom to renovate?

If you’ve got the itch to tear down walls, try your hand at tiling, or experiment with a bold new wallpaper, you’re better off buying than renting (unless you have a very open-minded landlord). Owning a home gives you the freedom to renovate and decorate to your heart’s content.

6. Are you up for the maintenance?

One major perk of being a renter is that your landlord is likely responsible for most of the maintenance and chores that homeowners have to deal with.  “When one goes from renting to owning, they are responsible for maintaining the property, which can be more expensive than many realize,” Hammond says.  From standard upkeep like replacing smoke detectors and shoveling snow to major issues like pipes bursting and foundation problems, homeownership comes with a long to-do list, and the maintenance can be as costly as it is time-consuming.

7. Are you comfortable with some market volatility?

The real estate market is hot right now, but it’s not guaranteed to stay that way.  “The housing market fluctuates, and although it has historically been an excellent investment in the United States, house prices do go down sometimes,” Parsons says.  “If you’re uncomfortable weathering inevitable ups and downs of any market, renting may provide more peace of mind,” he adds.




Author: Lauren Sieben, writer in Milwaukee.  Work has appeared in the Guardian, Washington Post, Milwaukee Magazine and other outlets.  Source: Realtor.com


Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 13, 2021

10 Practical Kitchen Improvement Projects Based on How Much Time You Have


Whether you’re a professional-level home cook or a take-out fanatic who uses the oven to store shoes, the design and function of your kitchen is very important. No matter its square footage or number of built-in features, the kitchen plays a big part in how you live at home.  That’s why time spent beautifying your kitchen is always time well-spent—especially if you plan on selling your home someday. And while “kitchen renovation” may set off alarm bells for a big-budget project, there are some simple DIY upgrades that can improve the functionality and appearance of your kitchen—as long as you have the time.

To find out what kind of kitchen refresh might be doable in the time you have, we reached out to a variety of design and home improvement experts. We found 10 projects that homeowners can execute themselves (or with the help of a professional) no matter how much free time they have. Have only 5 minutes to commit to cleaning up your kitchen? There’s a project for you. Ready to get your DIY on for an entire weekend? Grab your tool belt and get to work!

If you have 5 minutes

There are several low-cost projects that can be accomplished in a few minutes, tops. However, one that will make a world of difference quickly is removing dark scuff and dirt marks from surfaces, cabinets, and walls with a Magic Eraser, says Julie Bennett, the founder of Renovator’s Toolkit, a guide to making home renovations simple, in Seattle.  Cost: Around $7.   

You can also take 5 minutes to organize a junk drawer or cooking utensil drawer. Remove all of the items from the drawer, and purge anything you don’t use. Add in wooden or plastic dividers, group your items by type or use, and place them back in the drawers.  Cost: Dividers range from $5 to $30.

If you have 30 minutes

In well under an hour, you can transform the look and feel of your kitchen with simple cosmetic upgrades.  Outdated pendant lights or fixtures should go, says Lanna Ali-Hassan, co-owner and principal designer of Beyond the Box Interiors in Washington, DC.  If you’re feeling confident in your DIY skills, you can easily replace a funky old ceiling light with a more tasteful one. The installation instructions are fairly straightforward, but if you have any reservations about dealing with electricity in your home, go the safe route and hire an electrician.  Cost: $50-plus for the light(s) and hardware; $150 to $300 for an electrician.

Looking for a more low-key project? Ali-Hassan recommends swapping out cabinet hardware like drawer pulls and cabinet handles for an updated, clean look.  Cost: Depends on the number of cabinets and/or drawers. Hardware starts around $5 per item.

If you have 1 hour

An investment of just an hour can lead to instantly noticeable, significant changes. Faucets are easy to swap if you follow directions, and can make a huge difference in the appearance of your kitchen.  “Faucets are like the garnish of the kitchen,” says Jake Romano, who works for John the Plumber in Ottawa. “A beautiful faucet can modernize the room, or make it look classic. Plus, new functions that are touch-activated keep the kitchen more sanitary.”  Cost: Supplies are $50 to $500. A professional will install it for about $150.

An under-the-radar quick fix is adding LED lighting strips ($15.99, Amazon) under cabinets, which brighten up and modernize kitchens quickly.  Cost: $15-plus for lighting that can be hard-wired, plugged in, or battery-operated. A professional will install it for $150 and up.

If you have 3 hours

Three hours gives you enough time to take on projects that will reap serious aesthetic rewards. One option that may not occur to many sellers—but will have broad universal appeal—is a reorganized pantry with matching storage containers, says Nick Drewe, a home improvement expert for Wethrift, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.  The bulk of your time will be spent pulling all items out of your pantry, throwing away expired or unused food, and decanting your dry goods into plastic or glass containers. Use woven rattan or metal baskets to hold chips, crackers, cookies, and other bagged snacks.  “Use a 10- to 20-piece set to organize dry foods, and modernize the overall look of the kitchen and pantry,” Drewe says.  Cost: $50 to $199

If you have some extra wall space, floating shelves will give the kitchen an open, airier feel and add room for storage, says Hartmann.  Your local hardware store should have a number of prefab floating shelf options in a variety of finishes.  Cost: $20-plus for a single shelf, depending on size and material.

If you have a weekend

Giving yourself a full weekend means you can tackle a larger project like installing a new tile backsplash. Of course, novice DIYers should proceed with caution—but if your home improvement abilities are above average, you’ll be more than capable of completing this in a couple of days. If you need some extra help, pull up a tutorial on YouTube, or you can hire a pro.  Cost: Supplies will range from about $200 to $1,000, depending on the tiles and the size of your backsplash.

You can also give your kitchen a face-lift with a few fresh coats of paint. Either repaint using your existing color or go for something bold and new.  Cost: Supplies for a 150-square-foot kitchen will be about $150, and if you want a professional painter, the total project will run from $300 to $1,000.



Author: Kathleen Willcox is a journalist who writes about real estate, travel, and food and wine.   
Source: Realtor.com
Aug. 23, 2021

5 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Sale!



So you have finally decided to put your home on the market.  You have planned your first open house, begun searching for a new place, and even made a mental packing list.  Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for the offers to roll in, right?

Well, sellers we don't mean to freak you out, but we have got bad news: You must might be sabotaging your home sale.  Obviously, that is the last thing you'd want to do, but one wrong turn or wrong decision, could hurt your changes of landing a buyer.  The most unsettling part?  You probably have no idea you're doing anything wrong.  Below are some of the ways you may be turning off buyers without even knowing it.


When your house is on the market, you want to make it appeal to as many people as possible.  And while your kitchen painted in your favorite shade of neon green might be attractive to you, it could repel buyers.  "When a buyer comes into your home, you want toe to imagine it as their future home.  the more difficult it is, the less likely they are to buy, says James McGrath, licensed real estate salesperson.  "The more muted the decorations and color schemes, the broader the reach and the better off you are."


It's not just bold colors you should avoid; beware of showing off too much of your style - at least while your home is on the market (Yes, we're even talking about your beloved lion statues on the front porch).  

"Odd decorations divert buyers' attention away from the home itself," McGrath says.  "I once say a home with a stuffed peacock, but not the bedroom itself."  When in doubt, think neutral: Replace loud patterns with muted ones, and put eccentric decorations and personal knickknacks in storage before your next open house.


You might have become nose-blind to cigarette or pet odor, but savvy buyers will instantly pick up on funky smells and that's a sure way to drive them away.  If you smoke, or used to smoke, inside your home, know this: residual nicotine can still be present in the drapes, furniture, carpets and on walls & other objects long after you've put out the last cigarette, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This isn't a problem that can be solved with air freshener.  You will either need to wash or dry clean your fabrics, shampoo your carpets and wash your walls.  If washing the walls doesn't work, you'll need to repaint.  Pet urine on baseboards and in carpets and rugs is also problematic.  Bleach, vinegar and water, or specially formulated cleaners can combat these smells.  No matter what, expect to do a deep, deep clean before you list your home.


The real estate market moves quickly, so if you want to sell your home you need to cater to the potential buyers' schedules.  "I get it, getting kicked out of your house for showings isn't fun, but to maximize the activity on your home, you have to be accommodating to potential buyers," says Jim Stevenson, a real estate agent.  If possible, require only a few hours' notice before showings, he recommends.

"It's so much easier for me and my buyers if we're able to schedule a showings when its' most convenient for us," Stevenson says.  "The sooner a buyer can see your house, the sooner they can make an offer, which lessens the chance of them finding something else."  And remember: One thing buyers definitely shouldn't see during a showing is you.  "When owners are home during a showing it adds a layer of uneasiness since buyers don't really feel free in the space," says Louisa Gillen, co-founder and principal broker.  "They feel like a guest in someone's home, and ... you want them to feel like it's their home."


In your quest to have a show-ready home, don't cut corners.  A fresh coat of paint might temporarily hide the appearance of mold, but it'll likely crop up in the home inspection.  "Savvy buyers know to look for mold, which is a fungus that could be toxic, if they don't find it, a home inspector will."  Structural issues are another concern for buyers.  "Hairline cracks over doorways could be a sign of settling, but they could be a sign of structural issues." Tina Tyus real estate broker explains.


Instead of trying to hide these problem areas, be sure to address them before you put your house on the market and be upfront with buyers if you decide to sell the home as-is.  Bottom line: don't try to use paint, rugs, or fancy lighting to mask problems that a buyer will probably uncover.



Author: Terri Williams is a journalist who has written for USA Today, Yahoo, the Economist, U.S. News and World Report, and the Houston Chronicle.


Posted in Selling Your Home
Aug. 9, 2021

What Is a Contingent Offer? What It Means When Buying a Home

A contingent offer means that an offer on a new home has been made and the seller has accepted it, but that the final sale is contingent upon certain criteria that have to be met. These criteria, or contingencies, are clauses in a sales contract that typically fall under three major categories: appraisal, home inspection, and mortgage approval.  Such contingencies are mainly put in place so that buyers can back out of a real estate sale if something goes wrong, usually without losing their earnest money deposit. A seller might entertain other offers after a refusal, but won’t deal with another buyer until the contingent offer is settled in one way or another.

Home inspection contingent offer

A home inspection contingency could well be the most important one for home buyers. This contingency gives buyers the right to have their new home professionally inspected after putting down earnest money. And finalizing the real estate transaction usually hinges on this contingency. If something is wrong, a contingent offer allows the buyer to request that it be fixed and to renegotiate the price—or back out of the sale. It’s rarely advisable to waive an inspection contingency, and home buyers should generally consider this a must-have clause in a sales contract.

“Never in my life have I seen a home inspection contingency waived,” said Bishoi Nageh, vice president of branch operations for the Petra Cephas Team at Mortgage Network Solutions.  If something is wrong with the current home on the real estate market, a good inspection will find it.  Nageh recalled an instance of a first-time buyer who asked the seller to fix up some windows, then found that mold had been growing under the framework. This is how a contingency works during a home sale. Once you know the problems, you can talk with the sellers about what they need to fix before you buy the home.

Appraisal contingency

With this real estate contingency, a third party hired by the mortgage lender evaluates the fair-market value of the current home for sale. In the event that the appraised value proves to be less than the sale price, the appraisal contingency lets you back out of the deal.  “It’s in no one’s best interest to overpay,” Nageh said. “If the home comes in under the [asking] amount, you have the right to back out.”  In hot markets, eager buyers might feel pressured to waive a contingency, but they could end up paying more. However, the lender will only put up a certain amount of money for the appraised cost—which may not be the asking price—and the buyer will have to cover the rest.

For example, let’s say you have a fixed-rate loan that covers 90% and you need to put 10% down for a home selling for $500,000. If the property is appraised at $475,000, the lender is only going to cover 90 percent of that appraised value, or $427,500. In this case, instead of a $50,000 down payment, you would be expected to put down $72,500 to cover the difference. Waiving this contingency in the purchase contract can be a gamble.

Mortgage contingency

You don’t want to sign a property sale without having the money to back it up. A mortgage contingency is a contingency that protects the buyer and seller from getting into a real estate sale without a proper loan. Under this contingency, the buyer has a specified period of time to obtain a loan that will cover the mortgage after the offer is accepted. If the buyer can’t get a lender to commit to a loan, the buyer has the right to walk away from the sale with the down payment.

To expedite the process, “Know if you qualify sooner than later,” Nageh said. If you’re pre-approved, you won’t be wasting the seller’s time or yours during the loan-hunting period, which could take a couple of months.  Like an appraisal contingency, eager buyers and sellers in hot real estate markets might want to waive this contingency for the current home for sale, especially if cash is on the table. But waiving this contingency means that if your mortgage lender delays or denies your loan after a seller accepts your offer, you can lose the deposit during escrow, so it’s a risky venture.



Author: Angela Colley writes about real estate and all things renting and moving for realtor.com. Her work has appeared in outlets including TheStreet, MSN, and Yahoo.
Source: Realtor.com
July 26, 2021

Improve Your Outdoor Living Space!


With warmer weather here, the great outdoors is beckoning. And we’re going to guess that over the past year, you’ve already heard your backyard’s siren song—using it as a local watering hole, workout studio, and school.  Whatever the case, being stuck at home looking at four walls for months on end during the pandemic may have you thinking about ways to improve your backyard, side yard, front yard, or patio.

But where to start? For inspiration, we consulted with top designers from coast to coast to uncover the hottest outdoor living trends in 2021—what you need and what you’ll totally want. And let us just say: We are completely wowed. Get ready to spend as much—or more—time outside as you do inside with these comfy and chic ideas.

1. More comfortable outdoor furniture

Sure, creating an outdoor living room has been popular for a while.  “Yet now there’s also outdoor furniture made in the style of indoor furniture,” says Mark Cutler of Los Angeles–based Mark Cutler Design.  Gone are the days of limiting yourself to wicker and metal; now you can snag a comfy couch or even an accent chair you’d swear would never withstand the elements. (You’d be wrong.)  And furniture that feels more indoor-comfy than outdoor-functional makes for more relaxed interactions outside.  “Furniture like this is also allowing people to mix and match styles in a way that was never done before outdoors,” adds Cutler.

2. Enhanced lighting

Skip the purely functional lights of yore and instead, look for fixtures that are stylish enough for the interior of your home but durable enough for the outdoors, says Andra DelMonico, interior design expert at Next Luxury.  To make your outdoor living space feel peak cozy, place a couple of vintage lamps around and hang fairy lights in trees or shrubs. Or use LED strip lights to create accent lighting for a stunning effect after the sun sets.

3. Dedicated potting areas

Over the past year, interest in raising plants and vegetables has exploded. While planting may have been a hasty undertaking in 2020 as lockdown set in, now people have time to plan their gardening needs.  And so the potting shed, or even simply a potting table, has become a popular addition in many backyards.  “It gives a dedicated space for replanting, supply storage, and a unique talking point in the garden,” says Cutler.

4. Birds and bees

Backyard flocks of chickens are now increasingly common for urban and suburban folks alike.  “Coops are a source of fresh eggs and a fun addition for a family with kids,” says Cutler. “Backyard hens are the new potbelly pig.”  An ever-growing number of people (including Chris Hemsworth) are also entering the world of beekeeping motivated by sustainability.  “Bees are environmental champions and play a crucial role in pollinating our food crops and other wild plants,” says Rita Tennyson of Flow Hive, which sells backyard hives. “And they bring us honey.”

5. Homey front porches

“From drive-by celebrations, cocktail parties, and general neighborhood camaraderie, the front porch is stealing the show and emerging as a new entertaining space,” says Mark Feldman, chief home officer at Riverbend Home, a home decor online marketplace.  Whether you have a wraparound porch, corner-wrap porches, or a half-width porch, make your porch more appealing by adding an outdoor rug, hanging hammock, or a bench and planters.

6. All-season upgrades

Your great outdoors isn’t just for summer anymore. So look to warm up those chilly days and nights with some all-season upgrades.  “For those with more backyard space and flexibility, custom-designed fire pits ringed with benches or Adirondack chairs are in demand,” says Tim Bakke, home design expert at The Plan Collection, an online destination for home design plans.  If you’re limited by space and budget, fire pits now come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. And if you’re space-constrained, heat lamps are an affordable solution to chilly spring, autumn, and even winter evenings.

7. Backyard igloos

Move over, Sunbrellas: There’s a new kid in town.  “A frequent request from my friends and clients these past few months is for a garden dome igloo,” says New York–based Gina Harper, who runs Harper’s Nurseries, a site that’s all about urban gardening.  While there are still those who love the typical umbrella shade, many people want to install a stylish igloo in their yard. Why? You can still enjoy the view from inside the igloo, and it can withstand rain, strong winds, and all seasons of the year.  Bonus: Igloos are a great place to hang out with family and friends, or to achieve your ultimate glamping dream. Simply add a sofa, a table, and decorative plants inside.

8. Outdoor office spaces

Working from home became the norm in 2020 and may be here to stay. As spring hits, many workers are further breaking the ties to cubicle life by moving their indoor workspace to the backyard to work from outside.  Whether it’s your porch, patio, or backyard, the keys to success for an outdoor office include shade to limit glare on your computer screen and decorative screens or planters to create separate workspaces, says Feldman.

9. Entertainment upgrades

Another big trend in the outdoor space this year is to add technology such as hidden speakers, a flat-screen TV, or LED lighting.  “With the rapid evolution of technology, we’ll see more elaborate systems outdoors, such as TVs, projectors, and outdoor sound systems,” says Alan Wiener, chief operating officer of Elegant Strand, a luxury decor site.



Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine.  Source: Realtor.com

July 12, 2021

Good Reasons to Accept the First Offer on Your Home


7 Reasons to accept the first offer on your home!

How do you know you've found "the one?"  The one offer on your home worth taking, that is.  It is entirely natural for sellers to consider multiple offers form interested buyers, but in certain circumstances, the first offer you receive may actually be the on you should accept.  Why?  Because for many of you, selling a home is about more than getting top dollar - it is about a smooth transaction and moving onto the next phase of your life.  Here are some specific instances when accepting the first offer makes the most sense.

1.  If it's the most unwonderful time of the year for real estate

The sweet spot for home sales is the spring.  As the months tick by and the weather cools, the real estate market tends to do the same.  "If you find yourself selling between Thanksgiving and New Year's, you will want to consider the first offer, as it might be a while until you receive another," says Nancy Wallace-Laabs of KBN Homes.  "This is typically a slower selling season and many buyers will wait until the new year to start their home search."

2.  If your house has been on the market more than three months

When properties sit on the market whatever the reason, buyers will assume there's something wrong.  So when an offer rolls in - assuming the number's not an extreme low ball - it means you may have finally found the best possible buyers. You don't want the property to continue to lose value by being on the market longer than it should be.

3.  If you get an all-cash offer

Even if a buyer comes at you with an all-cash offer that's lower than you'd hoped for, you may want to accept it.  "Cash buyers are a safe bet since they don't have to wait on the loan processing to be approved," says Wallace-Laabs.  And cash buyers usually don't come with any contingencies, like having to sell their current home before they can buy yours.  Just be sure to vet buyers to ensure they have the cash on hand.

4.  If you're going through a major life event

Starting a new chapter in your life?  You may want to accept the first offer if you're experiencing a major life event like relocating for work or going through a divorce.  Closing the book on your home sale will ease what can be a difficult transition.

5.  If the buyer goes the extra mile

Dora Hererra accepted the first offer she received on her house 2 days after listing because the buyers had a complete package together when they made the offer.  Not only did they have solid financials and a pre-approval letter from the bank, they also included a letter explaining why the house would be ideal for their family.  "We received a higher offer that same day but went with the well-prepared offer instead," says Hererra.

6.  If you have no skin in the game

Perhaps you've inherited a home from a deceased loved one and you plan on selling it.  It's likely that your main concerns will be getting a fair price and unloading the house as soon as possible so you can move on.  The first attractive offer that comes your way may be the one worth accepting - in that situation, you can either pay two mortgages.  "We recently helped a client who inherited a house," says B. Cornelius Charles, co-owner of Dream Home Property Solutions.  "Her only care was that she wanted to break even after paying off the remaining mortgage."

7.  If you've already found a new home

Most sellers are also involved in their own home search, and there's a chance they'll find a house before a buyers comes around for theirs.  If you find yourself in that situation, you can either pay two mortgage (not ideal) or make a contingent offer on your new home that's dependent on your finding a buyer.  "If the seller has a contingent offer on another property they're purchasing, then time is of the essence."




Author: Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY.  Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and Boston Magazine.  Source: Realtor.com

Posted in Selling Your Home
July 3, 2021

Happy 4th of July!

Posted in Community News
June 21, 2021

Backyard Renovation?!


How much does a backyard renovation cost?  It's a question that many homeowners ponder if they're on the verge of upgrading their yard from an overgrown thicket to a beautifully landscaped oasis.  But how much money should you budget for this project?  According to Home Advisor's True Cost Guide, the average cost (including labor) to put down a new lawn with modest plantings and trees on a quarter acre of land runs anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000.  Looking for a more detailed breakdown?  Here's what you can expect to pay, how far your dollar will go and tips to help you save.

How much does a backyard renovation cost?

Several factors go into the cost, including the size of the lot, the quality of the soil and how extensive you plan to be with new plantings and irrigation.  But some of the most common line items on an average backyard renovation bill are sod installations, a deck or patio and landscape design.  Here is what you can expect to get in three ranges (estimated) of renovation costs:


In this price range, you will be able to buy plants, plant grass seed and cut back or trim trees.  "Plants usually make up one half of the landscaping," says Robert Himmaugh, manager of Acadian Windows & Siding - and outdoor renovation company.  "The costs will vary on the type of plants that you use."  A small tree can set you back $100, while a hardy Leyland Cypress hedge costs perhaps $34.


For this much more money, you will be able to do the same sort of landscape upgrades highlighted above and you can replace the lawn with new sod.  "Lawns that come from sod rolls can be anywhere from 25 cents to $1 per square foot," says Himmaugh.  If not more!  You will likely meet with a landscape designer who will lay out your backyard and charge you anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 +/- for a detailed plan.  "The price also jumps if you do anything with masonry work, because you have to hire a professional and permits are mandatory," says Triple Kocurek of Trine Agricultural Services.


This price range includes the same renovations mentioned earlier, plus hardscaping: any human-made features such as a patio, gazebo, path, firepit or pond.  "A new patio can cost anywhere from $3,000 upwards to $50,000, depending on size and materials," says Himmaugh.  Another popular backyard renovation is an outdoor kitchen.  According to Home Advisor, the average cost to build an outdoor kitchen is over $10,000, with some projects reaching $50,000.  This is mostly due to installation costs of electric, gas and water lines.  Keep in mind that additional costs can come up unexpectedly and quickly.  "If the yard has poor drainage, laying underground pipes to address the issue will add hundreds, if not thousands to the bottom line," says Home Adivsor's home expert, Dan DiClerico.  Or you may discover that you need to regrade the lawn, to direct water away from the foundation walls, for an average of $2,000.

How to save on the cost of a backyard upgrade

The American Society of Landscape Architects suggests that homeowners budget the cost of a major landscaping project at 5-10% of their home's value.  But that doesn't mean you can't use your smarts and DIY skills to save more than a couple of dollars on the cost of remodeling.  Here are some tips to keep your bottom line down:

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, for every dollar you spend on a pool, let's say you will probably recoup only 35 cents or so when you sell your home.

What is the best return on investment?

You will feel the pinch of a remodel of course.  But you will get some of that money back if you ever decided to sell your home, because curb appeal is real.  According to landscape economist John Harris, landscaping can contribute up to 28% or more of your home's overall value.  You will see even more if you add a deck, according to the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling Magazine.  A decking project that costs about $20,000 in 2020, here in the Mountain Region of the United States will deliver about a 66.7% return, when you sell.  Bottom line: If you have a few extra dollars, it makes sense to spend money on beautifying your house now in order to make more money later.




Source: Margaret Heidenry and Cost vs Value Report, 2020 - Remodeling Magazine.

June 7, 2021

Will the Housing Market Frenzy Die Down? That Depends on Sellers


The coronavirus pandemic raised the temperature considerably on the nation’s housing market. The past year has been marked by soaring prices, logic-defying offers over asking price, and steep competition as sellers have been hesitant to put their homes up for sale.  But the heart-pumping, bank account–depleting housing market frenzy could die down—at least a little—in the coming months as more sellers list their properties and inventory slowly increases. About 10% of current homeowners plan to put their homes on the market this year—and more than half are more affordably priced, according to an exclusive survey conducted by realtor.com®. An additional 16% expect to list their properties within the next two to three years.

About 4,000 people were surveyed online, including 1,000 new homeowners and more than 650 potential sellers.  “There is a brighter light at the end of the tunnel for many weary buyers,” says Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu.  “A large influx of homes for sale would be welcome news for housing, especially as shrinking affordability has placed a wedge between many young buyers and their desired neighborhoods,” he adds. “More new homes would mean less competition, which would translate into a slowdown in the steep price growth we’ve experienced.

Typically, only about 8% of homeowners put their homes up for sale a year. This is about a 25% anticipated increase, which translates into about 1.5 million more homes. The increase may be due to folks holding off on selling their homes during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.  It still won’t be enough to fully relieve the current historic housing shortage—compounded by the fact that builders haven’t been able to put up enough homes to keep up with the increasing population, particularly millennials who are now in prime home-buying years. But it’s a start.  “In a market that right now only has close to half a million listings, a big boost in inventory can mean more choices for buyers and potentially a slowdown in price growth,” says Ratiu. He was quick to add that prices won’t drop, but the double-digit growth may taper off. “It’s signaling a return to normal for the economy and the housing market.”

Nationally, the median list price was $370,000 in March—up 16% annually, according to Realtor.com. As buyers duke it out, sale prices have gone much higher in many parts of the country. Historically low mortgage rates have helped to offset those high prices, as average rates fell to 2.97% for 30-year fixed-rate loans last week. But prices are still climbing much faster than incomes.  That’s why having more affordably priced homes hit the market is key. Roughly 58% of sellers who plan to list this year have homes valued below $350,000, according to the survey. This is expected to help first-time buyers get a toehold in the market.  About 63% of those who plan to sell this year have already listed their homes or plan to do so within six months. More than three-quarters have taken steps to begin the process, such as getting their homes into shape and reaching out to real estate professionals.

There would be even more homes coming online this year if sellers were confident they could find another home within their price range. In this turbocharged market, that can be difficult. Sellers are also worried about the economy and had concerns about showing their property during the pandemic, among other reasons.  “For many sellers, especially those who are looking to trade up, the shortage of homes has been just as challenging as for first-time buyers,” says Ratiu. “That’s a Catch-22 exacerbating the inventory situation, because the sellers don’t want to list and then not have a place to live after they sell their home.”

And that’s why even when these additional properties hit the market, they won’t be enough to end the housing shortage. Not yet, anyway.  “As we look to the year ahead, the demand wave will continue outpacing the supply inflow, even with more sellers coming to market,” says Ratiu. “We will not solve a decade’s worth of underbuilding and lack of listings in one year.”



Clare Trapasso is the deputy news editor of realtor.com. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication, the New York Daily News, and the Associated Press. She also taught journalism courses at several New York City colleges and obtained a real estate license.  Source: Realtor.com

May 24, 2021

5 Bathroom Trends - DIY Ideas


We all wish our homes looked like they were touched by the magic wand of a designer. But the reality, especially now that many of us have been spending massive amounts of time at home, is that our personal spaces are looking messier than ever—especially our bathrooms.

Well, our Instagram trend report is here to bring you five luxe accents that will make it look like a pro pulled it all together. From bright brass accents to exotic textiles to bathtub chandeliers (yes, you read that right), our top picks from Instagram will make it harder than ever to turn down bath time.

1. Long brass drawer pulls

If your bathroom hardware is more than a little out of date, look no further than this classic and chic upgrade from @dotandpop. As if the sleek brass weren’t enough, these extra-long pulls take this bathroom design to the next level—and make it look way more expensive than it actually is.  “Brass hardware is hugely popular right now because it elevates any bathroom instantly,” says Sasha Dudleyof Interiors by Sasha. “Replacing outdated chrome hardware [with] brass refreshes and modernizes the bathroom, and makes it feel much warmer. Long brass drawer [pulls] are especially trending right now because they bring the sleek and modern without feeling sterile.”

2. Sage-green vanity

From couches to cabinets, green seems to be everywhere this year—but there’s still nothing quite like the queenly of-the-moment vibes of these sage-green cabinets from @mydiyhappyhome.  “Sage-green cabinetry has been trending in kitchens for a couple years now and has finally found its way into the bathroom,” says Dudley. “Sage green feels fresh, organic, and inviting. It also looks great with brass or matte-black hardware.”  

3. Moroccan-style rugs

We all love a good bath mat, but this North African–influenced rug from @anitayokota goes above and beyond the normal threads on your bathroom floor.  “Moroccan-style rugs get my vote every time,” says set designer Dejon Gee, who insists that their power to transform a bathroom is positively magical. “This trend is so popular because it makes a space look like it's been put together over time."

4. Bathtub chandelier

If you really want to go all-out luxe this season, then a statement piece like this trending bathtub chandelier from @mmlighting might be just the thing.  “The easiest way to make your bathroom feel like you hired a designer? Add a bathtub chandelier,” says Dudley. “Bathtub chandeliers are here to stay, and there’s nothing more inviting than the glow of a chandelier over a bubble bath. You can go boho, glam, modern, minimal, whatever you want. My pro tip: Get a dimmer. I promise, after a long day you'll thank me. No candles needed.”

5. Minimalist floating shelves

Mixing and matching the essentials with extra glam is just one of those things designers excel at. But the rest of us? Not so much. Somehow, these minimalist floating shelves from @themerrythought are actually making it possible.  “Floating shelves are huge,” says Dudley. “I love adding natural wood ones in the bathroom to soften the space. They’re also a great place for jars of toiletries, a stack of hand towels, or a couple decorative items.”




Source: Realtor.com, Author: Larissa Runkle, divides her time between living a cabin in the San Juan Mountains and traveling in a converted van with her partner and pup. She writes for real estate, finance, and lifestyle publications, and is also at work on several fiction projects.