Monthly Archives: November 2016

Some Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Appraiser

A real estate appraiser can do more than help you determine the value of your home and property. Here are four ways a solid real-estate appraisal can help in other areas:

– Settle your estate. A real estate appraiser can help you valuate your property. A clear understanding of your estate’s worth will help you organize wills and inheritances.
– Purchase insurance. Without a recent appraisal, it’s possible to underinsure your home. Have a real estate appraiser determine the current value of your home before you buy insurance.
– Reduce property taxes. Have your property appraised if you suspect its value has decreased. A lower home value isn’t ideal for selling, but it will save you from paying higher property taxes.
– Determine future improvements. A professional appraiser will highlight the areas of your home that need work. Based on your appraiser’s recommendations, you’ll know where to start your home upgrades.

Learn More About Recoup Remodeling & Addition Investments

When undertaking large remodeling and home addition projects, it is smart to research your local real estate market to find out if your project will return your investment when it is time to sell. Depending on where you live, the right project may return 100% of your investment. That is why research is the smartest way to begin any remodeling project.

Recoup Your Remodeling Investment

Remodeling projects should be done when you are planning to stay in the house for several years, not simply for the sake of trying to increase resale value. Since you can’t guarantee that you will get a decent return, it makes the most sense to remodel when you will be able to enjoy the benefits in the long run. Only minor remodels should be considered if selling is your primary goal.

Here is a sample of returns for some of the most popular home remodeling projects. Statistics are compiled from multiple published surveys and based on major cities within states:

Minor Kitchen Remodel: 125% (Connecticut)
Basement Remodel: 98% (California)
Bathroom Addition: 96% (Missouri)
Major Kitchen Remodel: 92% (Kentucky)
Bathroom Remodel: 90% (Oregon)
Exterior Paint: 90% (Pennsylvania)
Master Bedroom: 86% (Florida)

In general, across many real estate markets, kitchen and bathroom remodeling consistently offer the highest percentage return on your investment (80-100%). Bathroom and family room additions offer a fairly high return also. A master bedroom remodel can potentially get a high return.

Certain projects such as converting a basement or an attic into functional living space varies widely from region to region. The same is true for deck additions.

Remember Curb Appeal

Repainting the exterior of your home also shows decent returns in most markets. When preparing to sell your home, at least sprucing up your exterior paint is important. Without curb appeal, potential buyers will not even stop or get out of their car to give your house a chance.

Repainting is only part of curb appeal, however. A well-manicured lawn and attractive landscaping will grab buyers’ attention as well.

Keep Your Home’s Original Design Intact

When considering a remodeling project or addition, you should not only do research in your local real estate market, but also look around your neighborhood. Any improvement you make should be consistent with other homes on your block.

An elaborate addition in a modest neighborhood will stick out and will not provide the return you are hoping for based on the fact that someone who can afford the extra money to buy your home will most likely search in a more expensive neighborhood.

Along those same lines, keep the original design of your home in mind. Stick with either the same materials or complementing ones. Aim for a flowing congruency so that your home remains tastefully appealing on the inside and out.

Think through color scheme and decor in much the same way. Bold, eccentric color schemes that will stay with the house after you sell can deter potential buyers who lean on the conservative side. Being flamboyant with your remodel is a fine idea for those homeowners who plan to stay in their home for years to come. For those of you looking to move in two to three years, choosing neutral colors for floors and walls will benefit you when it’s time to sell.

Remodel for Your Needs, Not for Resale

When trying to decide whether or not you should take the plunge and remodel, think of your own needs. If you absolutely want to add on a deck, go for it. If you have a spacious basement and could use a children’s play area, don’t hesitate.

By concentrating completely on the return you might get from a home improvement project, you are limiting your options and basing your decision on a factor that is constantly changing.

Depending on the economy and the real estate market in your area, as well as other factors, your remodeling return could be more or less than you expect when it is time to sell.

Just remember that for the immediate future, you will determine the value of a luxurious bathroom remodel or sunroom addition. The enjoyment of improving your home for the rest of your time living in it might far outweigh what money you get back when it is time to sell.

Get Your Landlord to Take You Seriously

From the old cities of the East with high-rise apartments in shoddy condition, to small college towns in the Midwest with rental homes that haven’t seen an ounce of remodeling or repair since the home was built, to rental units that must endure the long, fierce summers of the Southwest, and the moisture-ridden dwellings of the Pacific Northwest–there isn’t a region in the United States that is exempt from the renter’s nightmare scenario.

Broken appliances, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical and anything and everything that can go wrong with a home or apartment is something that can happen. Rental units that appear immaculate during the move-in process are far from immune to the scores of home maintenance repairs that every single building must endure. Hopefully, you’re fortunate enough to find a landlord who is willing to keep the unit in good condition and make repairs as needed. If not, you have recourse. Whether your unit is uninhabitable from heating, cooling, electrical or has a broken appliance, holes in the drywall or a pest problem, you need not suffer endlessly.

Chain of Commands: Ask, Demand, Act

There is no reason to be confrontational at the outset of a problem. Contact your landlord and plainly state the problem you’re having with your rental unit. The telephone may be the most efficient way, but email works well in the sense that you’ll have a built-in record of the request. One of four possible outcomes will result from this request: the landlord fixes the problem, actively refuses to fix the problem, ignores the request, or says he or she will fix the problem but then fails to do so.

If the problem isn’t fixed in a reasonable amount of time, you need to approach your landlord again. This time, be sure to create a paper trail that, in a worst-case scenario, can be presented in a court setting. Explain what is wrong with the unit, to the best of your knowledge what caused this problem, clearly give your landlord a reasonable ultimatum to remedy the situation and explain what you will do if the landlord continues to ignore the problem.

Possible courses of action that you can take if you still haven’t received a satisfactory response include finding a renter’s association or local housing authority to mediate for you, seeking judicial assistance in getting the unit repaired and having the problem fixed yourself and sending the bill to your landlord.

Proportional Response: Measure the Problem, Size Up the Landlord

If this summary of dealing with your landlord sounds vague, there is a good reason for this. The situation will play a large role in the exact timeline and how confrontational you should appear. Having your furnace or heating system fail in January can register as a true emergency that, by law, the landlord must fix within 24 hours of notification. Minor cracks in the drywall or a clogged garbage disposal, by contrast, don’t rank as emergency repairs. You should also take into account your landlord’s track record or for new landlords, the general vibe you got from signing the lease and moving in. If you have an uneasy feeling, you might consider being more stern during your initial approach.

Of course, the best thing to do is to try to identify and avoid negligent landlords from the start. In the case of an individually managed property, you should meet and discuss the lease before it’s signed. This will allow you to build a rapport with your landlord. If you can generate the impression that you’re a stand-up person, you may be able to get some leniency from your landlord from time to time or garner privileges such as being able to paint your new apartment the color you want. For a property management company, you should take a look at online reviews. Few companies will receive perfect marks, but you can also easily identify the worst offenders in your area.

Why Scribes Rule the World: Make a Record of Your Landlord’s Abuse

The golden rule of dealing with landlords is to keep a paper trail of everything. Although you never hope it comes to this, many disputes must be settled through renters’ associations, local housing authorities or small claims courts. In essentially every case, your ability to produce legitimate documentation of your landlord’s offenses against your rights as a tenant will determine the outcome of these proceedings.

In some cases, you can even game the system to your advantage. One renter from Chicago, IL recounted this anecdote. “I had a door that was out of jamb. I sent my landlord an email and made a copy. He didn’t respond. A few days later, I sent him a notarized letter, formally asking him to have the door fixed. I waited two weeks and then had a friend of mine, who had owned a small handyman business, fix the door. He didn’t charge me, but I gave him a beer in exchange for a receipt for $125. I made a copy of the receipt and submitted it with the next month’s rent with a rent check that reflected the difference. So, then, the landlord tries to sue me for the rent money, and the judge looked at the notarized letter and the receipt and upheld my actions.”

While few renters are in a position to duplicate this piece of deception, creating the same, solid paper record and hiring a professional contractor will often yield a similar result in terms of getting your rental unit fixed. Keep in mind, however, that this only applies to reasonable repairs and will vary from state-to-state and, possibly even, from judge to judge. Certainly, you can’t simply claim taupe walls as a decorating grievance, paint your interior neon pink and subtract the paint store receipts from your rent.