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4 Renovation Blunders That Can Hamper Value

Renovations are mostly done not only for a home owner’s comfort but to add value to their home. However, in some cases, home owners may end up making their home worth less depending on what they choose to do.

MarketWatch recently featured some of the most common renovations for home owners that potentially could decrease the value of their home, including:

1. Eliminating a bedroom: Even if the home owner plans to remove a bedroom in order to expand another one or make a living space larger, this renovation project likely could burn them at resale. The more bedrooms a home has, the higher the price it usually can get. “When you start eliminating bedroom space, you’ve completely changed the comparable value of your home in the neighborhood,” says David Pekel, president of Pekel Construction and Remodeling in Wauwatosa, Wis.

2. Renovating the garage into living space: Getting rid of the garage space in favor of an extra office, family room, or bedroom can be a turnoff to many potential buyers at resale, real estate professionals say. Seventy-four percent of recent buyers said that having a garage is extremely or very important, according to a survey of 7,500 people by Crescent Communities. For home owners who do choose to renovate the garage into living space, they may find leaving the garage doors on the outside a good move so that buyers could more easily convert the space back into a garage if preferable.

3. Removing closets: Michele Silverman Bedell, chief executive of Silversons in Westchester, N.Y., recalls a client who removed a closet out of the master bedroom in order to make a bigger master bath. But the renovation made the home much more difficult to sell, Silverman says. “People need closets,” she told MarketWatch. “They’ll walk in and count the number of closets per room.”

4. Too much wallpaper. While wallpaper can be removed, it has the reputation of being a lot of work to get it off.

These simple suggestions are only a sampling of other mistakes home owners commit when it comes time to sell their home. Paint colors, floor coverings, kitchen layout and non permitted add on are just a few more that come to mind from my past experience. If Seller can eliminate or correct issues before selling the more likely their home can compete in the market place. I suggest the Seller speak with a Realtor before doing any modifications, etc.

Source: MarketWatch

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Maximize Garage Space in 3 Steps

The U.S. Department of Energy cites 25 percent of homeowners with two-car garages have too much clutter to store vehicles, and 32 percent only have room for one vehicle.

“It’s ironic that many of us would rather store our boxes of unwanted stuff in our garage, leaving our valuable cars outside to deal with the elements,” says Lorie Marrero, professional organizer and author of The Clutter Diet. “Let’s rethink our storage priorities and turn our garage into a space that’s more organized and functional.”

Maximizing garage space doesn’t have to be a chore. Here are three simple steps to make the most of storage space in your garage.

1. Clear the Floor

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“Wire shelving is the perfect choice for ‘DIYers’ in need of a garage makeover,” says Marrero. “It is flexible and can be customized to fit in all types of spaces, suits any climate and is easy to keep clean.”

Since floor space is at a premium, get things off the floor and onto the wall. One option is heavy duty wire shelving, which can withstand the weight of some of your heaviest things and adapt to changing storage needs. This shelving will allow air to ventilate and is not affected by the humidity or sudden fluctuations in temperature.

Limit the dirt tracked inside the house with an area rug or repurposed carpet. For many, the garage serves as the main entry point into the home, so be prudent and keep the entryway as clean as possible.

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2. Store Hazardous Materials

Things like poisonous pesticides and anti-freeze or dangerous tools like hedge trimmers and power tools should be hidden safely out of reach from children and pets. Find a home for these items with heavy-duty cabinets.

3. Organize Smaller Items

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Can’t find your wrench or screw driver? Use a peg board to keep your favorite hand tools neatly stored and easily accessible. Hooks are another great way to keep track of your belongings. Use them freely for stowing hoses, extension cords, bicycles and step ladders.

Source: ClosetMaid

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Mortgage Loan Calculators

How Your Clients Misunderstand Mortgages

I found this bit of info important to share. Before a buyer looks to purchase a home the buyer should understand the total process involved from start to finish. The first step a buyer should take is find a competent and knowledgeable real estate Agent. Especially if a buyer does not understand obtaining a mortgage. According to the information there are those that think they fully understand mortgages.

Americans significantly lack understanding about minimum mortgage qualification criteria, particularly renters who plan to buy a home within the next five years, according to a survey of 3,868 consumers by Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group

When asked about key mortgage qualification criteria — down-payment percentages, borrower’s credit scores, and debt-to-income ratios — about half of consumers answered with “don’t know” or failed to provide a valid answer, according to the survey.

For those consumers who did provide an answer, many respondents thought the requirement for a minimum down payment was four times larger than Fannie Mae’s actual figure of 3 percent. When it came to minimum credit scores, many thought the requirement was 652 — when in actuality, Fannie Mae’s requirement is 620.

The survey also showed, not surprisingly, that consumers cite lenders as one of the most influential sources of mortgage information, but real estate professionals follow closely behind along with family and friends.

Prior Fannie Mae surveys have shown that “the aspiration to own a home remains strong and that consumers perceive the down payment and their credit scores as leading obstacles to obtaining a mortgage,” notes Mark Palim, Fannie Mae’s vice president of Applied Economic and Housing Research. “Advancing from aspiration to sustainable home ownership is more likely to occur if consumers have an accurate understanding of the requirements to qualify for a mortgage. While it can take years to improve one’s credit score or save for a down payment, undertaking such efforts based on inaccurate information may lead to a needless delay in reaching the goal of owning a home.”  Source: Fannie Mae

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5 Surprising Factors That Make Happier Homes

A realtor.com® article recently highlighted several new studies that reveal ways to increase happiness based on where you buy, how you renovate, and other characteristics on what makes a home happy. Among the recent findings to unlocking true happiness with home ownership:

1. Green or yellow walls: Could the color of your walls have the power to change your mood? A study from Vrije University in Amsterdam found that yellow and green walls brought about the most feelings of happiness. “Green gives a feeling of comfort and serenity, so it’s an ideal choice for a bedroom, while yellow brings out creativity and playfulness, so you might consider that tone for a playroom,” Victoria Shtainer, a real estate broker for Compass, told realtor.com®.

2. Short commutes: Home owners prefer a shorter drive to work while long commutes have been shown to hamper contentment levels with home ownership. A study from the Office for National Statistics shows that commutes under 15 minutes make happier home owners, while over 15 minutes, commuters start to get anxious. For commutes that stretch over an hour, home owners say they’re depressed.

3. Cleanliness: Clutter creates stress, according to the UCLS Center on Everyday Lives and Families. Its study found that a “higher density” of objects in a home caused women especially to see increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Men, on the other hand, in the study did not tend to show any physical reactions from clutter. “Clutter definitely costs you both emotionally and financially,” says Dana Korey, a professional organizer. “If your rent is $2,000 a month and half of your home is filled with nonusable space, then it is effectively costing you $1,000 a month. One short-term solution is to pack this stuff into boxes and pay to have them put into storage. That way when you see the actual dollar amount every month that the clutter is costing you, you are likely to take action and unload.”

4. Pay off more of your home. Paying down a home loan can also increase home owners’ moods. Home owners without mortgages have the happiest homes, according to the Halifax Happiest Home Report.

5. Get friendly with the neighbors. “Relationships with neighbors” also creates a sense of well-being with home ownership, according to the Halifax Happiest Home Report. “I’d recommend that people make it part of their routine to cultivate a sense of neighborhood,” says Grant Brenner, co-author of “Irrelationship: How We Use Dysfunctional Relationships to Hide From Intimacy.” “This is missing nowadays, especially in large urban centers where people tend to isolate from one another.”  Source: Realtor.com

Apparently these tips have been proven to be effective. You probably have your own ideas on what makes a happy based home. Just add this to the list. Make it work where you live now or when you move to another location.

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Kitchen Design Dilemmas and How to Solve Them

Kitchen design is an art form, one where function and beauty harmoniously co-exist. Achieving that balance, however, isn’t always easy. When renovating a kitchen, homeowners can find themselves facing challenging design dilemmas – They are not alone.

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“When redesigning or refreshing a kitchen, the goal is to create a space that is hard-working, yet beautiful,” says Nate Berkus, renowned designer and artistic advisor to LG Studio. “Look for items that really represent who you are and your design personality, and you’ll create an area that you and your family will love both now and 10 years from now.”

Here are six common kitchen design dilemmas and offers suggestions on how homeowners can remedy those issues:

1. Space Challenges

When you don’t have enough room for the large table that your family needs, get creative. Consider building a L-shaped bench around a farm table and adding extra chairs. It’s a clever use of space and will create a cozy nook where your family can gather for meals, or where kids can do homework. Plus, the bench can double as storage space.

2. Last Year’s (or Last Decade’s) Cabinets

Cabinets are one of the first things you notice in any kitchen, and they’re also one of the most important in terms of functionality. If your cabinets provide ample space but look dated, Berkus suggests giving them a facelift with varying materials and finishes, like a wood or paint color that’s different from the rest of the kitchen.

“I always appreciate a simple, clean style, but with cabinets, I tell my clients they shouldn’t be afraid to mix it up,” Berkus says. “I recommend sticking with a neutral palette for cabinets, whether you’re installing brand new ones or painting your existing cabinets. White, charcoal and gray will always be elegant, and you can’t go wrong with black – it’s absolutely one of my favorites. It makes a dramatic statement and looks fantastic paired with stainless steel appliances.”

3. Small Budgets, Big Taste

When you long for that sleek, built-in look but don’t want to break the bank, counter-depth appliances are a great design choice. They seamlessly integrate with cabinetry no matter what the material, supporting that clean look you ultimately want your kitchen to reflect.

4. Unattractive, Inefficient Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important design elements in any room, and it’s the one thing people often overlook when re-designing their kitchens. “Lighting can instantly change the whole feel of a space,” Berkus says. “I believe it is one of the most important decisions you can make in any room, especially the kitchen, which, let’s be honest, is usually the hardest working room in your home.”

To create lighting that is both useful and beautiful, remember to light the room in layers – from above, under cabinets to illuminate work areas and all-around accent lighting to create ambiance.

5. Counter Space Confusion

Figuring out how much counter space you’ll need is always tricky. Start by considering all the ways you’ll be using your counters. You’ll need food prep areas, of course, but will you also want a breakfast bar where your family can sit for meals and snacks? Will you need extra room for counter-top appliances?

“My rule of thumb is, to always double the amount of counter space you think you’ll need,” Berkus says. “You can never have too much, especially if you like to cook and entertain.”

6. A Too-Clean Slate

A large, open-concept kitchen can seem appealing, but it can also be daunting to design and decorate.

“Don’t be afraid to do something unexpected in the kitchen to break up the space,” Berkus says. “I love the idea of creating an unexpected seating area in your kitchen. Shop your weekend flea markets or online stores for a vintage sofa, coffee table and rug to set up an area for your family to relax in.”

Ultimately, Berkus says, keep in mind that the kitchen truly is the heart of the home. “Kitchen design is about creating a space in your home that brings the whole family together, and is the best place to reflect your sense of personal style.”      Source: Home Consumer Resorces

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