Monday, September 30, 2013

9 Ways To Save Money On Your Kitchen Remodel

Most homeowners spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, whether to entertain, heat up leftovers, do dishes, or... on that rare occasion, make a meal.  When looking to sell your home, if you do choose to invest in updates, you get your highest return on investment in the kitchen and bath.

If its time for you to remodel your kitchen, here are 7 ways for you to save money on your effort, courtesy of Zillowblog.

1. Carefully shop for your big ticket items

Take your time when shopping for cabinetry and appliances.  If you are able to whittle down 10% or more off of the cost of these items, simply by shopping around a little longer, you will end up with a lot more cash to play around with when looking at light fixtures or a new faucet.

Make sure you speak to your home contractor to avoid buying the wrong shape, size, or grade items.

 2. Stay away from the "professional" appliances

These are the items that can really break the bank.  Instead of going with the pro lines, go for home-appliance manufacturers that have the same functionality while mimicking the pro look - equaling some steep savings.  These types of appliances are often designed specifically for the home market, often including amenities that pro-versions don't offer, such as a self-cleaning oven.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

8.3 Million Underwater Homeowners Should Resurface by 2015 - Are You One of Them?

Currently 10.7 million homeowners across the nation owe, at the very least, 25% or more on their mortgages in comparison to what their properties are worth, according to a report from RISMedia.  However, another 8.3 million homeowners are brushing the surface, being either slightly underwater or slightly above water.  This means that they are on the right track to having enough equity to be able to sell, without a short sale scenario, sometime within the next 15 months.

These homeowners include those with a loan to value from 90 to 110 percent.  This means they have between 10% positive equity, and a 10% negative equity.  They additionally comprise 18% of all U.S. homeowners that have a mortgage, as of the beginning of September.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Make Your Bathroom Look Larger With These 5 Tricks

Bathrooms typically aren't the most inspiring spaces to design.  You've got all of the plumbing fixtures to deal with in an often cramped space, and your decor has to be moisture-resistant.

While I'm sure you'd much rather spend time and effort on a living room or bedroom, remember that the bathroom is one place that every guest in your home will be using.

So...where do you start?

Here are 5 great tips from Zillow Blog and Designer Jaque Bethke of PURE Design Environments, Inc.

1. Know your audience and set the scene

Who is going to be using this bathroom the most?  Guests you are entertaining?  The kids?
What about the frequency of use?  Is this an every day bathroom, or an on occasional bathroom?

If its a day to day bathroom, make sure you're using a classic and timeless design - you don't want to get tired of a "trendy" space.  However, if it is a space for guests, go ahead - have some fun.

If its used by guests, consider what you don't need, like a vast array of towels or soaps.  It can exist purely with good-looking function, without the frills.

If there's a shower involved, this will affect your design as well.  Make sure you avoid things like wallpaper, for example, which can deteriorate over time in the presence of humidity.

2. Save Your Space

Once you've established who is using the bathroom and how often it will be used, the next step is space optimization.  Storage is a priority, as clutter can instantly make a room feel smaller.

You can use a medicine cabinet alone, but many also need counter space.  Consider over the toilet storage shelves, or installing wall fixtures.

If you're undergoing a renovation, wall-hung sinks and toilets save space by hiding the pipes in the walls.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Is Waiting for Interest Rates to Come Down a Good Idea?

30 year fixed mortgage rates were previously at an all time low.  However, as you can see in this graph from KCM blog, they're now on the rise.

This makes many buyers wary about buying a home.  Surely they must come down some time, right?  Unfortunately, this may not be the best plan of action.  While no one can predict the future, professionals agree - waiting is not a good strategy in this market.

Most experts, including The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors, actually anticipate rates climbing rather than lowering.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Every Seller Should Stage Their Home - And It's Affordable

Home staging, despite its reputation, is not only a marketing device that homes with large price tags use.  In fact, most sellers would highly benefit from some level of home staging.

Here are some basic home staging myths:
  •  Myth #1: I can't afford staging
    There are many levels of staging.  It doesn't have to involve a high-end designer coming in and removing all of your furniture.  Instead, there are more affordable options like a one-time furniture placement and design consultation.
  • Myth #2: My home wont benefit from staging - my home already looks nice
    Just because you enjoy what your home looks like doesn't necessarily mean it is being marketed optimally.  Home staging experts know what sells, and a little home staging can go a long way.
So, what sorts of staging are there?  Here are 5 ways to stage your home, courtesy of Zillow Blog.

1.  A One-Time Consultation

Home stagers are truly home designers.  They specialize in looking at a space and evaluating what will make it most appealing to customers.  They may suggest a new paint job or new carpet, or even some landscaping to add to the curb appeal.

This is an extremely affordable option.  Designers can cost as little as $75/hour to $200/hour, depending on your location.  Their advice on colors, fixtures, and finishes makes sure you are putting your money to the right places, and can be some of the best money you spend before listing.

We feel so strongly about the value of staging, that we hire a home stager to consult with our clients before listing the home at no cost to the sellers.  Just ask!  Our favorite designer?  Shhh.... It's Gar Wilson with Better Spaces. Let me connect you.

Friday, September 06, 2013

5 Tips for Buying High-Quality Cabinetry For Your Kitchen

A lot of emphasis is placed on buying stainless steel appliances or updating countertops in the kitchen.  The foundation of the room, however, is your cabinetry.  This can make or break a kitchen, as cabinetry typically predominates the room.

Buying cabinets can be very intimidating.  There are, at least, 10 different tyles of wood to choose from, and from there over 500 different door styles to select, along with innumerable color combinations.  So where do you start?

2013 president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, John Morgan, and the Zillow blog put together this list of 5 Tips for Buying High-Quality Kitchen Cabinetry.

1.  Go with the pros

Any kind of kitchen redesign or remodel, according to Morgan, is best undertaken by an experienced team that you trust.  Grab yourself a designer, contractor, and cabinet installer with a solid reputation.  This team will know what quality products you can use, at whatever price point you're looking at.  Don't settle for anything less than the best team, because a shoddy team can lead to a shoddy product.  Make a good investment.