The current trends are all about utilizing rich color, maximizing texture and creating comfortable interiors you can’t wait to relax in. Use these trends to get inspired to makeover your home’s interiors and create spaces you love that also appeal to your personal style. Remember, if you plan to sell in the next few years, you may want to avoid doing anything dramatic and instead incorporate small changes that would appeal to buyers. [Read more…]
Great curb appeal not only makes your home the star of the
neighborhood, it can also improve its value and help you sell
it for more. Whether you’re thinking of listing your home or
just want to make your home the envy of your neighbors,
here are several ways to increase your home’s curb appeal. [Read more…]
Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? [Read more…]
The holidays are a happy time for celebrating with family, friends, and co-workers. Unfortunately, this time of year can also be turned sour by a wide variety of clever frauds, unauthorized debit and credit card transactions, and bogus person-to-person scams. [Read more…]
Our world is full of risk at every turn—from perilous jobs to dangerous driving conditions. That’s why we all love to get back to our homes and not worry about everyday safety hazards. It’s great to feel comfortable and safe at home, but is it as safe as it can be? [Read more…]
The ‘smart home’ is the new ‘internet of things’, or objects that can serve you better by communicating with each other or directly with you through apps on your smart phone. [Read more…]
Whether you’re putting your home on the market this year or in the next five years, it is a smart decision to start building your home’s resale value now. Here are some ways to create a comfortable home while making it easier to put more money into your bank account on closing day. [Read more…]
Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Along with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.
This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate less than 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.
Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.
Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago; a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.
Should I Pay A Mortgage Interest Rate Over 4%?
Source: Simplifying the Market
Published: January 7, 2013
When you declutter your house, are you choking off your life energy or soothing your soul?
When it comes to decluttering your house, do you ever want to just throw in the towel (preferably on the floor) and stop trying so hard? Maybe a little clutter is a good thing.
After all, is life really better when we sort, color-code, and neatly stack everything in clearly labeled plastic bins? Or is an uncluttered life not worth living — antiseptic, alienated, a Stepford home that feels like nobody really lives there?
Clearly, mounting clutter stresses some folks. A UCLA study shows that cortisol (stress hormone) levels in women rise in sync with the amount of clutter in their homes.
Yet some people love their clutter and think a full house is akin to a full heart and an active brain. Lifestyle coach Jolanda Molenaar says that if you love the items around you, and you don’t feel overwhelmed, then clutter is a nonissue.
Teenagers, we know, seem happiest when sweaters and dirty dishes litter their bedroom floors. And when parents pick their battles, the clutter hill is not one many moms choose to die on.
Some adults hate clutter, but seem helpless to corral it. They turn to $150/hour professional organizers who crack the whip and force them to toss old photo albums and even the trophies that junior got for merely showing up to the pee-wee championship soccer tournament.
But I find that the more chaotic my insides, the more I must simplify and organize my outsides. Unfortunately, my clutter bug husband is the opposite; when he’s most stressed, clutter soothes him, like a security blanket of stuff.
If I get him to organize the garage, is that a fair compromise?
How about you? Are you a neat-freak or a clutter aficionado?
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook
Published: March 9, 2010
Learn how much your home can appreciate in value if you do regular maintenance — and what the risks are if you don’t.
If you think home maintenance is an unavoidable series of weekend-eating chores, remember the age-old advice of Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The fact is, proactive maintenance is essential to preserving the value of your home—without it, your home could lose 10% of its value. Regular, routine maintenance enhances curb appeal, ensures safety, and prevents neglected upkeep from turning into costly major repairs.
“It’s the little things that tend to trip up people,” says Frank Lesh, former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and owner of Home Sweet Home Inspection Co. in Chicago. “Some cracked caulk around the windows, or maybe a furnace filter that hasn’t been changed in awhile. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.”
Maintenance affects property value
Outright damage to your house is just one of the consequences of neglected maintenance. Without regular upkeep, overall property values are affected.
“If a house is in worn condition and shows a lack of preventative maintenance, the property could easily lose 10% of its appraised value,” says Mack Strickland, a professional appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va. “That could translate into a $15,000 or $20,000 adjustment.”
In addition, a house with chipped, fading paint, sagging gutters, and worn carpeting faces an uphill battle when it comes time to sell. Not only is it at a disadvantage in comparison with other similar homes that might be for sale in the neighborhood, but a shaggy appearance is bound to turn off prospective buyers and depress the selling price.
“It’s simple marketing principles,” says Strickland. “First impressions mean a lot to price support.”
Prolonging economic age
To a professional appraiser, diligent maintenance doesn’t translate into higher property valuations the way that improvements, upgrades, and appreciation all increase a home’s worth. But good maintenance does affect an appraiser’s estimate of a property’s economic age—the number of years that a house is expected to survive.
Economic age is a key factor in helping appraisers determine depreciation—the rate at which a house is losing value. A well-maintained house with a long, healthy economic age depreciates at a much slower rate than a poorly maintained house, helping to preserve value.
Estimating the value of maintenance
Although professional appraisers don’t assign a positive value to home maintenance, there are indications that maintenance is not just about preventing little problems from becoming larger. A study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University suggests that maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about 1% each year, meaning that getting off the couch and heading outside with a caulking gun is more than simply a chore—it actually makes money.
“It’s like going to the gym,” says Dr. John P. Harding, Professor of Finance & Real Estate at UConn’s School of Business and an author of the study. “You have to put in the effort to see the results. In that respect, people and houses are somewhat similar—the older (they are), the more work is needed.”
Harding notes that the 1% gain in valuation usually is offset by the ongoing cost of maintenance. “Simply put,” he says, “maintenance costs money, so it’s probably best to say that the net effect of regular maintenance is to slow the rate of depreciation.”
How much does maintenance cost?
How much money is required for annual maintenance varies. Some years, routine tasks, such as cleaning gutters and changing furnace filters, are all that’s needed, and your total expenditures may be a few hundred dollars. Other years may include major replacements, such as a new roof, at a cost of $10,000 or more.
Over time, annual maintenance costs average more than $3,300, according to data from the U.S. Census. Various lending institutions, such as Directors Credit Union and LendingTree.com, agree, placing maintenance costs at 1% to 3% of initial house price. That means owners of a $200,000 house should plan to budget $2,000 to $6,000 per year for ongoing upkeep and replacements.
Proactive maintenance strategies
Knowing these average costs can help homeowners be prepared, says Melanie McLane, a professional appraiser and real estate agent in Williamsport, Pa. “It’s called reserve for replacements,” says McLane. “Commercial real estate investors use it to make sure they have enough cash on hand for replacing systems and materials.”
McLane suggests a similar strategy for homeowners, setting aside a cash reserve that’s used strictly for home repair and maintenance. That way, routine upkeep is a snap and any significant replacements won’t blindside the family budget. McLane’s other strategies include:
Play offense, not defense. Proactive maintenance is key to preventing small problems from becoming big issues. Take the initiative with regular inspections. Create and faithfully follow a maintenance schedule. If you’re unsure of what needs to be done, a $200 to $300 visit from a professional inspector can be invaluable in pointing out quick fixes and potential problems.
Plan a room-per-year redo. “Pick a different room every year and go through it, fixing and improving as you go,” says McLane. “That helps keep maintenance fun and interesting.”
Keep track. “Having a notebook of all your maintenance and upgrades, along with receipts, is a powerful tool when it comes to sell your home,” advises McLane. “It gets rid of any doubts for the buyer, and it says you are a meticulous, caring homeowner.” A maintenance record also proves repairs and replacements for systems, such as wiring and plumbing, which might not be readily apparent.