Outdoor Living Spaces: Three Things Homeowners Must Know

Outdoor Living Spaces: Three Things Homeowners Must Know

Anyone who has watched cable television’s popular shows on home remodeling or home selling knows that outdoor living spaces are all the rage. Capable of adding extra space and comfort to homes in just about any location, these spaces go beyond the porches, decks, gazebos, and bare patios that were once the only options for outdoor seating and entertaining. In addition to being popular, a beautifully designed, outdoor living space can offer even more benefits. If you are a homeowner who is wavering about whether or not to invest in adding an outdoor living space to your home, the following information can help you see what this type of space has to offer your family.

1. Increased Living Space Offers Comfort for Growing Families

No matter how carefully families choose the home they buy, there will still be many times when it feels too small for comfort. Growing children, visiting relatives, and many other situations can cause a home that was once spacious to feel cramped and small.

Adding an outdoor living space provides another area suitable for use from spring through fall in most areas of the country. If the space provides comfortable seating and cooking facilities, it can even become the chosen location for family dinners, helping to reduce traffic in the house and keep it cleaner and more organized.

2. Entertaining is Easier With an Outdoor Living Space

Many homes today are built without a formal dining room, making it difficult to host large gatherings for meals and snacks. An outdoor living area offers a spacious location that can be furnished to handle gatherings of any size. If the outdoor living space also provides electricity to power small appliances, along with a sink, cooking surface, and a cooler or refrigerator, complete meals can be easily prepared and served outdoors, making cleanup far easier.

Many people also add some type of heat to their outdoor living spaces, such as a fire pit, outdoor fireplace, or specially designed outdoor heating appliance, to make these spaces more usable in cooler weather.

3. Outdoor Living Spaces Add Real Value When Selling a Home

Just like porches and patios, outdoor living spaces are considered as part of the base area of the home. Although the base area is not the same as finished interior space, it will still be able to add value in the eyes of both a real estate appraiser and prospective buyers.

To get the most value from your outdoor living space, sellers will want to:

  • make sure the planned outdoor space fits well with the neighborhood and architectural style of the home
  • make sure the size of the planned outdoor space remains in balance with the size of the yard and does not diminish the usefulness of the backyard space
  • make sure the planned outdoor space is attractive both when in use and during the off season
  • make sure the planned outdoor space offers privacy from prying eyes of neighbors or people passing by

For more information about how an outdoor living space can be a benefit, homeowners should consult their real estate professional.

Through the use of recent listing and sales data for similar homes with and without outdoor living spaces, homeowners will be able to gain a better understanding of the amount of added value their home would have after the space is completed. This information can help homeowners  create a realistic plan for these improvements, as well as a suitable budget.

4 Simple Ways Homeowners Can Increase Their Home’s Value

4 Simple Ways Homeowners Can Increase Their Home's Value

Homes tend to appreciate over time, as long as you take care of them and keep them in good shape. However, there are some things you can do to your home that can increase their value, and you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money on them. Here are four simple ways homeowners can increase their home’s value.

Do a Kitchen or Bath Update

Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most-used rooms in a house, and they also are the rooms that buyers focus on the most. That’s why it’s important to make periodic improvements to these rooms. You don’t have to break the bank and spend thousands and thousands of dollars. In fact, minor remodels are the ones that tend to add the most value. Some simple things you can do include replacing appliances, replacing a vanity, switching out water and light fixtures and updating your tile and counter tops.

Concentrate on the Exterior

Most people focus on making interior improvements when remodeling their home, but you can actually get the most bang for your buck focusing on the outside. Many of the improvements that have the most return on investment are exterior ones. These include replacing your entry door or garage door, adding or repairing a deck, and sprucing up your landscaping. All of these improvements will be investments that pay back more than they cost to complete, when done correctly.

Structural Improvements

Doing things to the bones of your house aren’t cheap but they are necessary. Take your roof, for example. People do not want to buy a roof that leaks or has broken shingles. Some companies, such as Select Exteriors, know that if this is the case with your roof, you might consider investing to improve it. The same goes for your home’s foundation. Structural improvements can be expensive, but not doing them when necessary can greatly reduce the value of your home.

Make Energy Improvements

Many of today’s home buyers want an energy-efficient home, so you can boost your home’s value by making some simple energy changes. This can include installing a programmable thermostat and changing to compact fluorescent lights. If you want to make a bigger investment, replacing windows or installing solar panels can be good choices.

Making these and other improvements to your home can greatly increase your home’s value. Some improvements require a big investment, but others do not. Either way, you are likely to recoup most of what you spend on these improvements.

4 Key Characteristics To Look For When Choosing A Real Estate Professional

4 Key Characteristics To Look For When Choosing A Real Estate Professional

When it comes time to buy a home, you don’t want to work with just any real estate professional. Instead, you want to work with someone who takes an interest in who you are and what your housing needs are. Let’s take a look at some key characteristics of a real estate professional who is worth working with during your next home search.

This Person Should Be Personable

Ideally, the person who is working with you to find your dream home should be approachable and friendly. There will be times when you have to get in touch with this person early in the morning, late at night or on weekends. If he or she is not interested in working with you at all hours, it may be best to look for someone else.

This Person Should Be A Fierce Advocate

Your real estate agent is supposed to be someone who represents your needs and interests during the home buying process. Therefore, he or she needs to be a fierce advocate who is willing to stand up to the seller or seller agent on matters that are important to you. This could be the difference between getting a better deal on a home or feeling forced to close the deal on the seller’s terms.

This Person Should Be Part Of A Larger Firm

Real estate agents who work for established firms generally get jobs because of their skills and track record of success. They generally have large email lists full of available homes for sale before they are available to the public. Knowing that a listing is available before anyone else allows you to see the home and put in an offer before a bidding war can begin.

This Person Should Know the Area

A real estate agent should be able to narrow down your search based on the criteria on your wish list. If you want good schools for the kids, your agent should know which neighborhoods to look in. If you want a house for less than $100,000, your agent should know which parts of town are more suited to your needs.

You should never buy a home without the assistance of a qualified real estate agent, like the professionals at Re/Max of Boulder, Inc. Doing so could result in spending more money on a home that may or may not meet your needs. In addition to helping find a home, your agent may also know where to turn for financing or who to hire for a quality home inspection.

Remodeling for Revenue: How to Flip Your House to Increase Its Value

Remodeling for Revenue How to Flip Your House to Increase Its Value

Flipping homes can be an effective way to make money from real estate. However, you need to know what types of upgrades will yield the highest returns on your investment before you decide to make them. Here are just some strategies that you should employ to ensure that you maximize your profits from each flip:

More Living Space Generally Means a Higher Price

In some areas, homes are priced per square foot. Therefore, adding more living space will translate to a higher asking price for the house. Some ideas for adding more space include finishing the attic or basement. In some cases, adding an egress to an already finished space will allow you to advertise it when listing the home.

It may also be a good idea to put an addition on the home that can be used as an extra bedroom, office or bathroom. If you are going to add to the house, make sure that you have the proper permits to do so. On average, each additional square foot that you add of living space could equal $100 or more added to the listing price.

Update the Kitchen and Bathroom

For those who have a limited budget, it is in your best interest to focus on the bathroom and kitchen spaces. Kitchens are where those who live in a home are going to spend the majority of their time. Bathrooms are generally where an individual is going to start or end his or her day. Being able to do so in style will make it more likely that a buyer will pay more for the house.

Upgrading the kitchen and bathroom is also a good idea because it makes the home easier for the next buyer to sell in the future. That alone will make the home more valuable because no one wants to pay for something that they can’t liquidate if necessary. Depending on where you live a new bathroom or updated kitchen could add $20,000 to $100,000 to the value of a house.

Put a Hot Tub in the Backyard

A nice spa with all of the proper hot tub accessories in the backyard makes a home more appealing because it gives the owner a place to entertain or relax after a hard day at work. They can be used either in the winter or the summer, which makes it more versatile than a pool for those who live in more temperate climates.

While individuals may be able to install them themselves, it is generally better to have a professional install it for you. It should only take a few minutes to a few hours depending on how much electrical work needs to be done to accommodate the new item.

In some cases, your installer may suggest ways that you can further spruce up your yard to add value to the flip. In most cases, a home’s value goes up by whatever you paid for it, but it could indirectly increase your home’s value because it makes the home more appealing.

Add New Front and Garage Doors

Replacing the current front and garage door with new ones makes the home look cleaner, brighter and more attractive at first sight. Typically, you will increase the value of the home by as much as 400 percent of what you paid for them. Therefore, if you spend $5,000 for new doors, the home will be worth $20,000 more.

While flipping may not be for everyone, it can be lucrative for those who understand how to do so successfully. For the most part, you have to understand what buyers in a given market want and then tailor the home to those needs to make it as attractive as possible when it goes on sale.

Rental Remodel: 3 Things To Consider When Fixing To Lease

Rental Remodel

Renting out a home or apartment can be a great way to earn some extra income, especially considering the number of renters in the U.S. is continuing to rise year after year. Combine this with rising rental prices and a declining number of vacant properties and it spells out the fact that now is a great time to get into the property rental business.

However, before you dive straight in and immediately list your property for rent, you’ll first want to ensure that it’s in good enough condition to actually earn you a profit. While you may not want to undertake any major renovation projects, making sure your property is above minimum requirements and up to code will pay off in the long run. To make things easier, here are a few of the most important things you’ll want to be on the lookout for.

Old, Outdated Décor

Unless the property is brand new, you’ll always want to make sure you give the interiors a bit of a touch up before trying to rent it out. At the bare minimum, you’ll want to give everything a fresh paint job (neutral tones are always best). Still, you may want to consider tearing out those old carpets or linoleum floors and putting in new laminate flooring. Generally speaking, carpet is almost always a bad idea in rental properties. If you make as many repairs as is reasonable, making the space look clean and well-maintained, it will be easier to keep track of damage and needed repairs in the future.

Kitchen and Bathroom Furnishings

Pay close attention to your kitchen and bathroom cabinets and other furnishings, as these are fairly inexpensive to replace and can make a major difference in how much you can charge for the place. Making smaller changes like putting in new faucets or shower head also helps. You don’t necessarily need to remodel the entire room, as even making a few minor upgrades can go a long way.

Landscaping and Exterior

The outside of the property is just as important as the interior, and sometimes even more so, since this is the first thing a prospective tenant will see. If they don’t like what they see on the outside, they may not even bother to check out the inside. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to take a little time to spruce up the exterior of the property as well. Make sure the trees are trimmed, plant a few bushes or even just fix the dead spots in the lawn. Like with the interior, even a little help can go a long way. If you’re planning on renting through a realty company like Adams, Cameron and Co., Realtors, you will also want to ask them if they have any advice to give.

In many cases, it may be necessary to perform some more extensive renovations or repairs before a property is fully ready to rent out, especially if it doesn’t meet all local regulations. Nonetheless, even the more basic remodel tasks listed above should help ensure that you can get maximum value from your rental property.

4 Neighborhood Perks To Look For When Home Shopping

4 Neighborhood Perks To Look For When Home Shopping

When buyers are looking for a new home, they must consider many different issues, including price, size, and convenience to work, taxes and a host of other concerns. The neighborhood in which the home is located is another important factor to consider, because it not only influences how comfortable you will be in your new location; it also affects your home’s value in the future.

1 – Convenient Transportation

Convenient access to transportation is one of the top features of a desirable neighborhood. Communities that are close to major highways, provide commuter trains to nearby cities and those that provide local public transportation ensure that residents can get to jobs, shopping and community activities easily.

2 – Park And Preserve Areas

Attractive parks and natural preserved areas always increase the value of homes that are in the area. These settings are important for children’s activities and for family enjoyment, but also singles that enjoy being outdoors, cycling, running and engaging in sports. Many park districts also offer lessons and programs for people of all ages. Some park districts offer swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts or fields for ball games. These amenities help to make a community a vibrant place where people get together, play together and socialize.

3 – Neighborhood Festivals And Events

Another perk that helps to promote community enjoyment and increase home values is organized festivals and other community events. Communities may celebrate their history or the founders of the town, which gives an area a strong sense of identity and continuity. Other places celebrate national holidays and other topics. These events provide a central place where residents can meet and get to know each other, as well as to attract public interest in the community as a whole.

4 – Convenient Shopping Venues

The community should have one or more local shopping areas for purchasing food, clothing and home care items. These stores are the most frequently visited venues that will save time and gasoline expense if they are located in close proximity to residential communities. This convenience is important to homeowners now and will continue to be of interest in the future.

Homes that are located in areas with these features tend to be popular with buyers, which increases their value over time. These properties are a good investment for families. Work with a real estate agent, like those at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty, to find the perfect spot for your family. Carefully research the amenities in the area where you are considering a purchase, and find the desirable features that will keep neighborhood home values high.

Moving in with Mates: How to Break All the Myths and Truths

Moving in with Mates: How to Break All the Myths and Truths

Renting a house/apartment with one or several friends is a great way to save money and enjoy the company of other people. However, while this step is rather common during college and after high school, it’s rarely considered a long-term arrangement. As soon as one roommate gets married or is able to afford their own place, they go their separate ways. What if there’s no marriage in sight and the financial prospects of each individual involved are not enough to get their own property? Well, if the present roommate situation works, and you get along well, buying a house with your friend(s) can be a smart investment. Before you make that big move, you need to be aware of some things.

The Pros of Buying a House with Your Friends       

We’ve already mentioned some of the reasons people make this decision. The financial benefits are obvious. A joint property means that you’ll share all the costs including the deposit, transaction costs, mortgage payments, decoration, maintenance, monthly payments, repairs and household bills. Due to high prices on the housing market, many people don’t even consider purchasing a house. Joint ownership can be a useful solution for two families who could, in that way, afford a bigger property.

Agreeing on the Things that Matter

Agreeing on the Things that Matter

When the ownership status is regulated properly (each tenant can own different shares of the property and tenants can choose to leave their shares in a will or sell them, etc.), owning a property with a friend can save you a lot of trouble. It’s important to agree on things that can largely impact your co-habitation, especially money-related issues. That can include setting up a joint bank account for paying the mortgage or any other agreed shared expenses. A household rulebook is also a crucial point of discussion. You need to be very clear on the rules regarding guests, partners, pets, smoking, etc.

Starting from Scratch

Different people have different needs. Finding a property to meet the needs of one person (with or without a family) is hard. Finding a property that will suit two different people is next to impossible. If that’s the case for you and your friend, building your own home may be a better idea. This way you will be able to make everything just the way you like it from the ground up. The design can be adapted to provide you both with the privacy you need in order to lead independent lives. According to custom home builders from Brisbane your home can be built to individual specifications, but it can also be changed during the building process, so you can follow the construction and make decisions that will make cohabitation easier.

Consistency in Décor

Consistency in Décor

Congratulations, you’ve bought/built your own property. Once the moving in process begins, you will need to decorate the place. Much like with the very design, it is difficult to choose one décor style that suits different persons. Of course, your bedroom, bathroom and other personal spaces should be off limits to the other tenant, and vice versa. If there is a common area, it should be decorated in a neutral manner, except if both tenants agree on one specific style. Although you and the other tenant will decorate your own spaces based on your preferences, keep in mind that there should still be a certain consistency in décor, so try to settle on one color palette or design era.

A Trial Period

A Trial Period

You and your best friend get along great. You love spending time with each other, drinking coffee and hanging out in a cocktail bar. That seems as a great foundation for buying a house together, right? Wrong. If you have never before tried to live together you can’t be sure that your relationship will remain just as ideal. Maybe you’ll hate that your friend is smoking in the morning, or they will dislike your early bird habits. Maybe one of you is irresponsible with money. There are too many maybes to count. That is why it is better to have a trial period of renting a place, before going down the more permanent road.

Buying a house with your friend(s) can be a great decision, both financially and when it comes to social life. Still, there’s the danger of losing both a friend and an investment, so be very careful.

3 Simple Home Improvements Realtors Look For

3 Simple Home Improvements Realtors Look For

When it comes time to sell your home, leave yourself plenty of room to make a few improvements that will spruce up your house and property. While completely remodeling and updating will be attractive to buyers, it may not be worth the return on investment. If you aren’t sure what to upgrade, your realtor can give you some guidance for your particular property. Here are a few things you can do that won’t take a long time or cost you a fortune.

Put Some Care into your Landscaping

Curb appeal is very important when selling a home. The outside of your house is the first thing that potential buyers we. You want their first impression to be a good one. If you aren’t a DIY gardener, it may be well worth the money to hire a local landscaping company or nursery to clean up your lawn, gardens, and hardscapes. Weeding and planting fresh flowers or greenery will be a great asset.


Freshly painted walls and ceilings will brighten up your home. Go for lighter tones to achieve this. Chances are good that the new owners will want to customize the house with their own palette of colors. Give them a blank canvas to work with and imagine. It is worth hiring a painter to get this done quickly. Leave enough time so that the house doesn’t smell like paint when your realtor is showing your property.

While you are at it, wipe down the faces of all your cabinets in the kitchen and the bathrooms. Otherwise, they will look dingy next to a fresh coat of paint.

Expose Hardwood and Clean Tile

Do you have wall to wall carpet covering hardwood floors? If so, consider removing any carpet that is worn to show off the floors. You may have to hire a flooring company to lightly sand, seal, and buff the floors, unless they are in good condition. Hardwood flooring is something many buyers look for.

If you are in a beachside community and have more tile flooring than hardwood, this is a good time to have those tile floors professionally cleaned and resealed. If the grout in the joints is cracked or worn away, consider having the tile re-grouted or repaired. Many buyers are not looking to tear up tile flooring, as it is a big and messy job. If yours is nice tile, make it standout.

There are a lot of ways to add value and curb appeal to your home, but it’s important to pick the ones that will get people in the door. If you aren’t sure where to start, professionals like those at North Captiva realty Inc. can give you some ideas of what is popular in your area.

3 Secrets for Home Shopping


Everyone wants to have a home, but for many, this excellent goal is hard to achieve practically. What with high price inflation, and low salaries, the cost of a typical home in the United States is usually 4-5 times the annual wage of a typical worker. Many people throw up their hands in despair, and go for a long term mortgage loan in order to eventually meet their goal of home ownership. Sadly, this goal is often far away, and refinancing, along with recent housing crisis, causes it to not be as tangible as one might wish.

What are the secrets to becoming a home owner outright? For the first tip, Warren Buffett has a general phrase for all who want to practice his billionaire wisdom. “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful” How does this apply to housing?

When it comes to buying their first home, most people automatically jump to a multi-decade mortgage loan. The mortgage loan industry in the United States is gigantic for this reason, and the government incentives for refinancing are large. Citizens of this country are greedy in this area, judging by Buffett’s principle. Buffett would caution us to be fearful when others are greedy. Now, many people would say, “But how can I get a home then? The prices are so outrageous!”

This brings us to our second secret, sheriff’s and foreclosure auction web sites. Searching Google for auction and foreclosure brings up a lot of gems that just need a little polishing. Many places that are high crime, or have a reputation for being full of certain ethnicities that some are prejudiced against also have a very low price level. A great example is Detroit, Michigan. After the 2008 economic bailout of General Motors, the city of Detroit literally went bankrupt. There are still decent houses in Detroit selling right now for $1000 cash, out of the city’s desperation to sell. As a caveat, sometimes such houses have to be fixed up to code, but this is a far cry from a cracker box mansion that goes for 5 times a worker’s annual salary.

The third secret to home shopping is to look internationally. Sites like Land Watch and Craig’s List are a great place to start. Price levels overseas are usually far lower than in the US. Homes in China, the Philippines, or Mexico, are often within reach for 1 year of savings from a hard American worker. This technique profits from the distortions that are prevalent in global finance. Powerful countries often manipulate their currencies to be artificially high, so people will sell to them. Weak countries manipulate their currencies to be artificially low, so people will buy from them. This leaves a lot of undervalued assets just across the border. If an individual can swallow their patriotic pride, and consider investing overseas, the benefits are often immense.

Now, in selecting your home, it pays to remember what you actually need. Many people buy a home that is a cracker box mansion, but they are only in it for 3 hours a day. This home is pretty much a waste, and a drain on your personal finances. Identify what you actually need. If you need the huge mansion, then great, but the essentials are often met with much less.

Balancing quality and price are important as well. In the Detroit homes above, many people would shy away from such a purchase because of the perception of low quality. However, an ancient Jewish king once observed, “He who builds a high gate invites destruction.” Having a fancy home in a nice neighborhood can often make you a target for vandalism and theft. It is important if your home is nice to have at least a small home warranty, which adds an additional expense to an already overpriced asset. Keeping things simple, and laying aside prejudices can make even the poorest of us happy home owners.



A Few New Tools All Real Estate Investors Should Know About

real estate investor tools

Successful real estate investors know it’s a numbers game. Being able to analyze statistics, evaluating them and then reacting to your analysis can separate the good real estate investor from the not so good.

Emotions play a part when one selects a home to live in. But when buying or selling property strictly as an investment function, leave the emotions at the door. As Sergeant Friday used to say on the old Dragnet television show, “just the facts, ma’am,” facts are what you need to base your investment decision on.

There are a number of new technology tools available to help investors separate facts from blue-sky fiction and over enthusiastic promoters.

Here is a list of some of the best:

1.Mortgage Calculator & Mortgage Rate Apps

Zillow has one of the best mortgage calculators apps around. Whether you’re looking to calculate payments on a possible property purchase or prepare a financial deal or refinance an existing mortgage, this app is both fast and easy to use.

A quick glance at the Zillow app on your iPhone or tablet when you are evaluating real estate projects to determine if the deal fits into your plans saves not only time but the danger of making snap decisions without knowing the numbers.

2.Real Estate by Trulia

This app is a very effective and user-friendly adaptation of the original Trulia Website. Always known for its investor-friendly tools, Trulia’s Real Estate app helps you find listings on properties and surrounding comparables in any area of the country. Coupled with an incredible interactive mapping feature, this is one app every serious real investor should have in their arsenal of tools.

Another similar site is the flat fee MLS listing site, Fizber. One of the biggest killers of margins is closing costs and realtor costs. Fizber allows you to get your property listed on the MLS for a small fee, giving you access to nearly 80% of US homebuyers.


If you’re not using Skype in your real estate investing business, you’d be wise to get on board and add it to your tool box.

Skype was a pioneer in free internet voice and video chat. They continue to dominate the market as one of the cheapest phone service providers around. Their face-to-face conference call function brings clients and buyers and sellers together from anywhere in the world. Once thought of as only science fiction, Skype has given us the incredible ability to converse in live pictures from a mobile device at any time of the day and anywhere around the globe.

4.Genius Scan

Going paperless, a goal of most innovative real estate investors, is made easier with the Genius Scan app. You no longer need a computer of a fax machine to forward documents to clients or banks. The Genius Scan turns any image into a pdf document in only seconds that has the finished look of a high-quality regular scanned document. And being that this quality app is FREE, it’s a tool you need to look at right away.

5.PlanEASe Software

This software program helps you analyze commercial property for financial and cash flow projections. It offers the investor a comprehensive management tool to deal with multi-unit residential and office properties. The base unit has extensions that include graphics, reporting, with the ability to combine files for portfolio analysis.

6.REO Wise Software

With his program, you can take commercial real estate analysis into the cloud. With a paid cloud subscription, it’s PowerBroker suite includes investment, leasing, financial modeling and marketing tools. It also features a transaction platform for real estate investors with a virtual deal room and document center.

7.Property Fixer App

If you’re an investor who flips properties for a fast gain, the Property Fixer is the tool for you. Using your smartphone, you can analyze property in five minutes and study the figures for holding it from 0 to 12 months in order to determine maximum profitability. Using the Property Fixer app, you can then email the resulting figures directly your clients under you company brand name with your logo.

8.Easy Kilowatt Hour Calculator

Commercial property investors can use this app as a watt hour meter to help determine the energy usage and cost of a possible acquisition.

To keep up in the competitive real estate investing game, where facts and current information are critical, it’s important to keep up with what’s new in the field of technology tools. Subscribing to a couple of commercial real estate newsletters and keeping current with real estate web sites that promote technological advances could be the key to keeping you successful.


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