Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Five Tips to Make Summer Home Renovations Pay Off

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Younger homeowners are likely planning renovations this summer, according to a new study, with some improvements benefiting property values more than others.
The Zillow Digs Summer Home Improvement Trend and Spending survey found that 71% of those aged 18 to 34 plan a home improvement or addition compared to 51% of homeowners 55 and older.

The survey found that 40% plan to work on their outdoor spaces while 17 percent plan to improve their bathrooms.

"As we head into the long days of summer, we are seeing increased interest in outdoor spaces with very natural elements such as stone fireplaces as well as bringing more light into bathrooms with clear glass on the walls and shower enclosures," said Cynthia Nowak, a trend expert with Zillow Digs.

Overall, 60% of American homeowners plan renovations and expect to spend $1,200 with 65% of homes housing children planning three or more home improvements compared to 57% of homes without children.

But not all home improvements pay off and positively impact property values, according to the Appraisal Institute, a professional association of real estate appraisers.

Siding replacement, entry door replacement, attic bedroom addition, minor kitchen remodel and garage door replacement rank among the projects with the highest expected return on investment, according to Remodeling magazine's most recent Cost vs. Value report.

"Projects that take a home significantly beyond community norms are often not worth the cost when the owner sells the home," said Appraisal Institute President Richard L. Borges. "If they don't match what's standard in a community, they're considered excessive."

Other renovations with high expected pay-offs include basement remodel, deck addition and window replacement.

"Consumers should be aware that cost does not necessarily equal value," Borges said.

Below are 5 tips to consider before launching home renovations:
  • 1. Arrange a feasibility study for an unbiased evaluation. "During a feasibility study, a professional real estate appraiser will analyze the homeowner's property, weigh the cost of rehabilitation and provide an estimate of the property's value before and after the improvement," said Borges.
  • 2. Add green and energy-efficient renovations. "Adding Energy Star appliances and extra insulation are likely to pay the homeowner back in lowered utility bills relatively quickly. Lower utility costs also are a draw for potential homebuyers," said Borges.
  • 3. The longer a homeowner stays in a property, the greater the opportunity for a return on investment. As a result, Borges advises holding off on big renovations when a homeowner isn't sure how long they will be in their home.
  • 4. Check online for home renovation ideas. About 37 percent of homeowners look to the internet for home improvement ideas and inspiration, according to the Zillow Digs survey., Pinterest and Zillow Digs were among the most common online sources for inspiration.
  • 5. Download the Appraisal Institute's free Remodeling & Rehabbing brochure at
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Five Things to Know Before Beginning Your Bathroom Remodel

Our very own Patricia Davis Brown was featured in the magazine Design Bureau, sharing her expertise on remodeling your bathroom. Learn from Patricia the 5 things to know before beginning your bathroom remodel:


“Most people make the mistake of going to the builder first, but a professional plan puts the ball in your court. This allows the homeowner to get accurate bids and be able to determine if the project is in their budget. If you find you’re out of budget, then you are able to value engineer it by substituting less expensive materials to bring the cost into budget.


“Every room needs good lighting, but the kitchen and bathroom are the rooms that need a layered lighting plan. A layered lighting plan covers general lighting, task lighting, and ambient lighting for the multiple purposes of a bathroom.”


“You do not want to date yourself on a brand new remodel by putting in last year’s trends, so stay on top of the latest products and technologies for the bathroom. One of the good things about using a professional designer is they are in the know on the latest looks and will bring them to you.”


“I recommend bidding with three different builders or subcontractors so you can get a good picture of what the bids should be. And remember, the lowest bid is not always the right one.”


“A full bathroom remodel takes about three months to complete in full, so you want to make sure that you pick the right contractor to work with. I always recommend asking for three references before I consider hiring such an important person. And before you meet with anyone, make sure they are licensed and insured.”

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