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What’s the best remodeling project for your home? The answer, in part, depends on where you live. Every year, Remodeling Magazine evaluates which projects bring the most return at resale in different markets around the country in their “Cost vs. Value” report. For the purposes of this blog, we are focusing on the Pacific states (WA, OR, CA, AL) and the Mountain states (MT, ID, UT, CO, NV).
According to Remodeling Magazine, these are the six top projects in those two regions that currently have the best return on your investment when it comes time to sell.
Garage Door Replacement
The project with the most return from Washington State to Nevada? A new garage door.
In the Pacific States, replacing your garage door will cost an average $3,785, but will increase your resale value by $4,686, recouping 123.8 percent of what you paid for it. Homes in the Mountain States will also benefit from a garage door replacement, recouping 98.6 percent of their costs.
Due to its size, a garage door can have a big impact on a home’s curb appeal. But adding to your home’s aesthetic is only one advantage; the warranty that comes with the new garage door is also a selling point for potential buyers who can trust that they likely won’t have to deal with any maintenance issues in the near term.
Manufactured Stone Veneer
As long as the new stone veneer is consistent with your neighborhood’s overall look, this siding is the second-best project across the Pacific and Mountain states.
Stone veneer can replace your home’s existing siding, adding a fresh, modern look that conjures a cozy vibe all the way from the street, before buyers ever step foot inside. Along the West Coast, it can recoup 110.4 percent of the cost when you sell, and Mountain states will recoup 96.5 percent of the cost.
Wood Deck Addition
While building a deck might seem like a big undertaking, it’s actually a pretty cost-effective way to positively impact your home’s resale value. Pacific states can expect to pay around $15,000 and Mountain states just above $13,000, but they’ll see 87.8 percent and 74.3 percent recouped respectively when they sell.
Adding a deck extends the living space of your home and provides even more area for entertaining, relaxing, and enjoying the outdoors. Whether you choose a natural wood deck or a low-maintenance composite deck, you can pick from a variety of styles based on the lay of your land and the areas of your backyard you wish to highlight.
Minor Kitchen Remodel
No need to move walls or appliances around, a minor kitchen remodel will do the trick to recoup 87.1 percent of the cost in the Pacific states, and 80.3 percent in the Mountain states.
An outdated kitchen can go from drab to fab and become a focal point with a fresh palette. Replace the cabinet doors with new shaker-style wood panels and metal or metal-looking hardware. Switch out the old counter tops with laminate that matches the new look. Think about adding a resilient flooring option, then finish the project with a fresh coat of paint to the walls, trim, and ceiling.
Looking to improve your curb appeal and create an entrance that guests and homebuyers won’t soon forget? Add a fiberglass grand entrance. This project involves replacing a standard-sized front door with a larger opening with dual sidelights (glass panels). Typically costing around $8,000, Pacific states will see 85.1 percent of that recouped in the sale, and Mountain states will see 71 percent.
Depending on the size of your home, replacing the siding can be an expensive undertaking. However, it’s a project that comes with high returns. For Mountain states, sellers can expect 75.4 percent of the costs recouped, and Pacific sellers will see 84.3 percent.
Not only is siding one of the first things a buyer sees, but it also serves as an indicator of the overall health of the home. Broken or damaged siding could mean that there are other problems with the home, such as pests and rot. Replacing old siding is a cost-effective way to boost your home’s curb appeal and ensure buyers are going to walk through your front door.
You’ll never have a second chance at a first impression, so let’s make it count! When it comes to upping your home’s curb appeal, there are plenty of small changes you can make that have a big impact. And best of all, you don’t need to call in the pros or spend a fortune to get beautiful results. Below are some helpful and affordable tips.
A Well-Maintained Yard
Mowing: The first step to a well-manicured lawn is to mow it regularly. The experts recommending mowing high because mowing it too short can damage the grass and allow weeds to set root.
Weeds: To prevent weeds like crabgrass use a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring. These herbicides manage the weeds by stopping the seeds from sprouting in your lawn. Broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be stopped by applying granular weed control products.
Feeding: Lawns consume mostly nitrogen, so look for mixes of fast and slow release fertilizers; they will feed your lawn over time while keeping it lush and green.
Watering: Nighttime watering can result in long spans of moisture on the blades, potentially exposing your grass to disease. Consider watering your lawn in the morning – the sun helps dry out the blades throughout the day.
Flowers: You can quickly and affordably dress up your yard with colorful pre-made flower pots and containers. When placing your flower pots and containers remember that asymmetrical arrangements and staggering plants will provided the liveliest setting.
Dress up the Front Door and Porch
Paint: A fresh coat of paint in a pop color can give your home a well-deserved facelift. Get some color inspiration from House Beautiful.
Replace Old Hardware: Clean off any dirty spots around the door knob, and use a metal polish on the fixtures. Change out house numbers for an updated feel, put up a wall-mounted mailbox, or add an overhead light fixture. Keep in mind that well thought through elements, instead of mix-and-match pieces, will add the most curb appeal.
Create Perfect Symmetry: Symmetry is one of the simplest design techniques to master and is the most pleasing to the eye. Maintain symmetry by flanking your front door with two sidelights (just make sure that your hardware matches); find two urn planters or a unique visual detail to put on either side of your door.
Downsizing is on the minds of many homeowners today. Some are ready to retire, others want to live more simply, and many want to save money and say goodbye to home maintenance.
If you can relate to any of those sentiments, ask yourself these five questions:
Have you done the math?
The financial savings that can be generated by downsizing can be significant – especially as they add up over time. When doing the math, make sure the move will save money, rather than spend unnecessarily.
Have you researched elder-care options?
Many homeowners hold on to their current home longer than they should because their parents / parents-in-law may need to come live with them in the future. While a noble gesture, there are many excellent elder care living options available today. Often, all it takes is a tour of those facilities to realize that your loved one may actually be happier, and far better served, in a place devoted to their care and happiness.
Have you considered off-site storage?
You don’t need to immediately discard a big chunk of your belongings in order to downsize. In fact, trying to do so in one fell swoop only creates needless stress. Most people find it works much better to move some of their belongings into off-site storage for six months. During that time, you can gradually incorporate some of those items into your new living arrangement, and slowly figure out what to do with the others.
How do you feel about sharing costs and decision-making?
Townhomes and condominiums are popular downsizing options. But both require that you share the decision-making and expenses associated with any maintenance and improvement projects with your neighbors and potentially an HOA. If you’re a people-person and agree that two heads are better than one, and you like the idea of sharing the cost/responsibility for expensive repairs, you’ll enjoy condo living. If not, this may not be the best option for you.
Have you consulted with a real estate agent?
Many homeowners don’t think to consult with a real estate agent until they’ve made the decision to downsize. This leads to guesstimating about some of the most important factors. The truth is, your real estate agent is someone you want to talk with very early in the decision-making process.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Savers will suffer longer with zero returns on their accounts. Home buyers, companies and governments will keep on borrowing cheaply. And questions will grow further about whether central banks are creating bubbles in financial markets by keeping interest rates near or below zero.
The British vote to leave the European Union shook up markets and lowered growth forecasts for Britain and, to a lesser degree, the other 27 members of the European Union. Economists say that means central banks are likely to have to keep in place for even longer their massive, extraordinary stimulus efforts that have helped keep the global economy afloat in the wake of the 2008-9 financial crisis. Some central banks might even have to unveil new stimulus or rate cuts.
Single-family house values in Seattle shot up 10.8 percent year-over-year in March, the second highest in the nation after Portland, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller index.
It’s a new record, surpassing the previous peak in the summer of 2007 — and we saw how that turned out. Nationally, the increase was 5.2 percent. Here, it’s especially good news for homeowners and bad for buyers.
Perhaps, but probably not.
The old bubble was a nationwide phenomenon, stoked by subprime mortgages, Wall Street hustles, high leverage, and compromised regulators. While the latter two always bear watching, the same dangerous confluence of factors from 2007 don’t apply to today. The Case-Shiller 20-city index remains below its 2007 levels.
Instead, the biggest price increases are tied to low supply, high demand and strong economies in certain very desirable cities, such as Seattle, Portland and Denver. Elsewhere, it is a natural consequence of the recovery.
Black swans do appear. So, for example, an economic meltdown in China, a trade war under President [real-estate developer], earthquake or volcano eruption could ruin your whole day. The more likely outcome is a slow moderation caused by higher interest rates, deflation of a tech bubble, slowed jobs growth or, in some places, new inventory of housing coming online.
Even then, if San Francisco is an example, prices will soon begin marching up again.
The issue of high prices doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There’s not a linear connection between housing costs and the very diverse problems lumped under the sometimes-misleading term homelessness. But economists have found that less affordable housing is a factor behind rising inequality.
House prices have been disconnected from median incomes since the early 2000s. So the issue is not merely housing affordability but stagnant or falling incomes. And bubble pops only make this worse.
This article originally appeared on The Seattle Times website.
If there’s one thing that unites this great country—especially once the weather starts getting warmer and barbecue season gets ever so tantalizingly closer—it is our passionate, even obsessive love for our outdoor decks. Truth be told, just about all of us desire a perch from which to survey our backyard (or rooftop) kingdom, lazily hang out, or busily entertain.
One story behind the origin of decks is that they were inspired by boat decking. But unlike new yawls or yachts—which will depreciate in value by an average of 24% in just three years—a brand-new wooden deck addition to your home will net you a 75% return on investment when you decide to sell, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report.
That’s why in honor of summer’s sweet approach, we take a look at the ROI for decks in our latest installment of Renovations That Really Pay Off. Whether you are building one from scratch or just want to make the one you have bigger and better, here’s how to get your deck on this summer in ways that will pay off awesomely down the road.
Before you pick up a hammer, review the wildly useful free deck guide from the American Wood Council. Did we mention it’s free? Here you’ll find safe construction specs so you can get your rim joists and ledger boards just so. This should also be when you decide on deck size—a 200-square-foot deck will run you about $4,836—keeping in mind an addition could jack up your property taxes and insurance. Getting those hard numbers will help you figure out your overall budget (handy deck cost calculator here).
The average contractor charges $35 per square foot to build a deck, but where the cost can vary enormously is in the material. Hollow-core PVC can cost as little as $7.50 per square foot, cedar even less at $3.50—while the Brazilian hardwood ipe goes for a nosebleed-inducing $22 or more (compare prices here).
A great way to save money? “Design your deck for standard lengths of lumber: 6-, 8-, 10-, or 12-foot boards,” says Chris Peterson, author of “Deck Ideas You Can Use.” This will eliminate any wasted wood from cutoffs. Peterson also suggests buying secondhand. “Organizations like Habitat for Humanity sell reclaimed wood from demos, as do some local salvage shops.” In addition to possibly scoring unique hardwoods, “the savings can be significant.”
Protect your investment
Your deck is constantly exposed to sun, rain, snow, and the occasional melted Creamsicle. Peterson advises “waterproofing wood decks regularly to ensure longevity … even if you’re letting the cedar or redwood age naturally. Water can cause direct damage in the form of rot and indirect damage like mold.”
Harry Adler of Adler’s Design Center & Hardware in Providence, RI, recommends protecting vulnerable surfaces with a product such as C2 Guard, a nontoxic waterproofer designed for use on unsealed wood and concrete surfaces.
Pure, quality wood is the gold standard for decks. But there are other options, according to Bill Leys, aka The Deck Expert.
“Wood decks need yearly maintenance, and those costs can rapidly add up over the 20 years they’re expected to last,” Leys says.
James Brueton of EnviroBuild recommends using a quality wood composite, “which initially has a slightly higher cost. But without the need to treat the deck every year, you’re soon saving money over traditional wood.”
TimberTech is the only premium wood composite decking that is capped with a protective polymer on all four sides. Better yet, all TimberTech decking comes with a 25-year limited residential warranty.
Eye on entertaining
Outdoor entertaining should be the key focus of any deck design, Brueton says.
“Especially when reselling your home, any new buyer will immediately see the appeal of barbecue days and summer nights” on a deck, he says. Since all these revelers will need a place to sit, one easy way to add that is a built-in bench made out of the same wood as the deck itself. It generally offers a strong ROI.
This look is not only streamlined but also relatively budget-friendly, costing $500 to $1,500, says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a national home improvement franchise. Best of all, such seats will withstand the elements as well as the flooring underneath.
That said, don’t throw style and comfort under the bus. Make sure to add cushions and choose at least one statement piece of furniture with a “pop of color to reflect your personality and design taste,” suggests Sassano. Like this bright yellow chair for $140.
Light the way
If you plan to hang out on your deck well after sunset, fireflies aren’t going to cut it as a light source. Modernize—a website that empowers homeowners to get home improvement projects done—suggests simple ground lights ($28 each) to stringing fairy lights (starting at $15) to solar lights.
Don’t play with fire
Built-in or portable fire pits are warm, cozy, and “the source of deck fires. Whether embers blow out of the pit or the heat from the pit ignites the wood deck, the result is often tragic, with homes burned to the ground,” says Leys. Er, not such a great ROI. Place your fire pit in the backyard far from anything flammable. And to safely heat things up on your deck, buy a patio warmer ($150 to $400) says Sassano.
This article originally appeared on Realtor.com
Seattle-area home prices surged in December, posting the fourth-highest annual gain among 20 metros, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday.
The average price of existing single-family homes sold in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties climbed 9.9 percent over the year in December, its fastest pace in 2015. In the 20-city index, Seattle trailed only Portland (11.4 percent), San Francisco (10.3) and Denver (10.2) in annual price increases.
Nationally, prices in the 20-city index climbed 0.8 percent over the month in December, slowing a bit from a 1 percent increase in November. The index recorded a 5.7 percent annual gain.
Home prices in all but one city are rising faster than inflation, said David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee. Some might take that as a sign of trouble, especially given the stock market’s turmoil this year and the current age of this economic expansion.
“The recovery is 6 years old, but recoveries do not typically die of old age,” Blitzer said in a statement.
Higher home prices are encouraging builders: “Housing construction, like much of the economy, got off to a slow start in 2009-2010 and is only now beginning to show some serious strength,” he said.
Average prices in the Seattle metro area in December were less than 3 percent below the peak set in summer 2007, according to Case-Shiller data. The 20-city index is still about 12 percent off its 2006 peak.
Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Seattle-based Zillow, the real-estate website, said in a statement that the nation’s housing market faces a few challenges this spring: Low housing inventory is a factor in nearly every market now. Low oil prices are a drag on job growth in the Dakotas, Alaska and Texas. And the stronger U.S. dollar will affect demand from foreign buyers, while keeping mortgage-interest rates low.
This article originally appeared in the Seattle Times.
Depleted inventory is contributing to "overwhelming" traffic at open houses, shifts in strategies for both buyers and sellers, and escalating prices, according to officials with the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Dick Beeson, a former chairman of the MLS board, said the lack of inventory in almost every county is, "without question, a 2016 game changer." He described traffic at open houses as sometimes simply overwhelming. "There haven't been any battle royals on the premises, but it could happen any day now," quipped Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma.
The latest figures show a drop of nearly 28 percent in the number of active listings in the MLS database compared to a year ago. Members added 6,670 new listings during the month across 23 counties in the MLS service area. That's down nearly 4.6 percent from twelve months ago. At month end, members reported 12,357 active listings, which compares to 17,082 at the end of January 2015.
Measured another way, there is just under 2.5 months of inventory which compares to 3.8 months the MLS reported for January 2015. Supply was especially tight in King County, at 1.4 months of inventory, and Snohomish County, with just under 1.6 months.
Condo inventory (excluding single family homes) fell sharply, from 1,793 active listings a year ago to last month's total of 1,145 at month end, a plunge of 36 percent. In King County, the inventory of condos dropped 42 percent.
For the area overall, there is just 1.7 months of condo inventory, with Snohomish County reporting the tightest supply (1.1 months) followed by King County (1.2 months).
The inventory shortage took a toll on last month's sales. The number of pending sales (mutually accepted offers) fell about 5.3 percent area-wide during January, although half the counties in the report tallied increases compared to a year ago. The 5.3 percent drop marked the first negative change in year-over-year comparisons since April 2014.
Member brokers reported 7,253 pending sales last month, down from 7,658 for the same month a year ago. Despite January's downturn, industry leaders remain upbeat.
"Only three other Januarys since 2000 had more homes go under contract in the four-county region area of King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties," noted Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. "This, in the face of stock market scares, shows the viability of real estate as the better investment for both homeowners and investors," he suggested.
Commenting on last month's activity in King County, MLS director Joe Deasy said sales are down nearly 15 percent compared to last January because inventory is down more than 31 percent. "Demand is still really strong based on multiple offers and high-volume open house traffic," added Deasy, the co-general manager of Windermere Real Estate/East.
Other industry leaders agreed. "We're selling virtually all new listings, many with multiple offers in all the market areas of King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties in the price range where 90 percent of the sales activity is happening," said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott.
Scott also said his analysis of the number of homes selling in the first 30 days is double what a normal, healthy market would look like.
"The Greater Seattle area housing market remains out of equilibrium," stated OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. He said sales will continue to suffer at the current pace of transactions without adding new inventory. "At the same time, prices will continue to appreciate and could outperform our expectations if inventory levels and mortgage rates remain at current levels."
MLS director Frank Wilson said the Kitsap County market is "taking off again right out of the gate," adding, "We are seeing an increase in open house activity as well as more multiple offer situations."
Wilson said Kitsap County, where there is only 2.4 months of inventory, is "deep into a seller's market." He expects the market will become more unbalanced throughout the first half of 2016. "First-time home buyers are probably being hit the hardest in this type of market," observed Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott's Poulsbo office. In general, he said financial resources are thin for this segment, their confidence is low, and the types of loans they use are often not as favorable.
A strong fourth quarter in 2015 is reflected in January's closed sales of single family homes and condos (combined), which rose 11.6 percent from a year ago. Members reported 4,985 completed transactions; a year ago, they tallied 4,467 closings. The year-over-year median price on these sales increased 7.5 percent, rising from $279,000 to $300,000. Ten counties reported double-digit gains.
Single family home prices (excluding condos) jumped 7.6 percent from a year ago for the area overall. For the four-county Puget Sound region, the median price for a single family home rose 12 percent, from $325,000 a year ago to last month's figure of $363,975. Snohomish County reported the largest increase at 16.6 percent. A comparison of prices by county shows King County tops the chart with a median sales price of $490,970, up 11.2 percent from a year ago.
Condo prices spiked 16.3 percent from a year ago, rising from $219,900 to $255,750.
Rapidly rising prices and low inventory are worrisome, according to some brokers.
"A true conundrum exists," said George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. "For sellers there is no better time in history, but the concern we hear is there's no place to move." He said since most sellers are looking to move up to larger homes, the ripple effect is "more like a tidal wave as it rolls back to the first-time buyers in the market who are quickly getting priced out of the possibility of purchasing a home."
Moorhead, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors, reported doing a recent search of homes for sale in Bellevue with asking prices between $500,000 and $800,000. That search yielded only about a dozen properties in the database, a result he described as "staggering" and well below the norm.
Despite such challenges and complaints by buyers, Moorhead said buyers are still presenting offers that are very aggressive.
The increasingly competitive market is prompting hesitation among some would-be sellers, reported Bobbie Chipman, principal managing broker at John L. Scott in Puyallup. She said potential sellers are expressing reluctance to list their existing home prior to finding a home to move into due to limited inventory.
"A strong strategy is for sellers to list their home, sell and close, and move into temporary housing," suggested Chipman, one of the MLS directors. "This approach allows offers to be written that are not conditioned upon their sale closing, and it strengthens their position as a buyer," she explained.
Echoing the notion of being flexible, Frank Wilson said a seller's decision to accept an offer does not come down to sales price alone. "Type of loan, lender, closing time, amount of earnest money, and other concessions like closing costs and offer price all play into a seller's decision," he stated. "On top of that, a seller can choose any offer for any reason, even a lower price offer if other variables are favorable. Escalation clauses, back-up offers and finding funds or a bridge loan are all tools that buyers will need to employ to be successful in today's market."
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of nearly 2,100 member offices includes more than 25,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in Washington state.
This was a news release from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
We probably don’t need to tell you that 2015 was a crazy year in real estate, especially in our city. Bidding wars and listings lasting mere days on the market is something we’ve all grown accustomed to. But it turns out we’re not alone. Redfin recently came out with a list of the 30 most competitive neighborhoods from all across the U.S.. What’s the most mind blowing thing about this list? Of the 30 neighborhoods listed, 13 of them are in King County.
Seattle neighborhoods that made it onto this list are Roosevelt (4th), Phinney Ridge (9th), Stevens (11th), Greenwood (12th), Victory Heights (16th),Green Lake (17th), Madrona (20th), West Woodland (22nd). I mean, we all knew it was stormy out there, but this felt like a snow storm in Waikiki. It’s hard to say exactly what 2016 has in store, but our very own Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, has a few ideas (such as expecting that housing in Seattle will continue to appreciate in value, but at a slightly lower rate than 2015).
Read more on Seattle Curbed.
This article originally published on Windermere Seattle's blog.
According to a recent REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey Report, 2016 is projected to be a very strong market for local area sellers.
With inventory at historic lows, prices at or near record highs, and multiple offers the norm, it’s an exceptional time to get top dollar for your home.
Washington is one of only three states in the country projecting a “very strong” market for single family home sales.
This information was originally posted on Windermere Eastside's blog. Read more here!