Saturday, January 24, 2015

5 bathroom renovation trends you shouldn't miss - By Jason Rickett

If you are looking to add some change in your life or need a project to occupy your free time, consider renovating your bathroom. Bathrooms are popular rooms for remodeling projects due to their typically small size, making renovations less expensive than in other rooms. We’ve compiled a list of common

Creative storage ideas: Because bathrooms are typically smaller rooms, homeowners need to get creative about where to store their extra towels, hair products, and other bathroom supplies. Vanity cabinets with installed outlets, storage towers and tall, thin cabinets are a few popular built in features.
Entertainment features: Bathrooms are becoming larger and more comfortable – places where homeowners often spend time relaxing in privacy. For this reason, bathroom speakers and remote controlled entertainment centers have become favored.

Let in the light: Letting more natural light in the bathroom can make the room seem more peaceful, and can save you money on your electricity bill. By installing windows and skylights to you bathroom, you can give it a brand new look and make the room seem larger. Adding more mirrors will also brighten the room and enhance the appearance of extra space.

New fixtures: The knobs and spouts on showers, bathtubs, and sinks are something that homeowners rarely think about, but they can make a surprising difference to your bathroom when they’ve been updated. After all, since there are few pieces of furniture to show off in the bathroom, installing nice faucets can add the slightest sense of elegance.

Go green: By installing a water-saving showerhead and low-flow toilet, you can cut down on your water usage by a surprising amount. In addition, use sustainable, fluorescent light bulbs to reduce energy usage. By going green in the bathroom, you can help save the planet while at the same time saving money.

Home renovation mistakes that can cost you - By Carrie Colby

Part of the fun and satisfaction of owning a home comes from renovations – it’s your house, and you can make it exactly like you want it. Unfortunately, some homeowners get caught up in renovating their homes and fail to take into account what those changes will do to the resale value of the property. You have every right to turn your house into an ideal dwelling for yourself, but you should keep a few things in mind if you ever plan on selling the house in the future. If you plan on selling in the near future it’s important to understand what home improvements have some of the lowest return on investment.

Before you dish out any money on a renovation with an expectation that it will add value to your home, pause for a moment and consider the long-term implications. You may be thinking to yourself that the purpose behind making these changes to your home has nothing to do with re-sale value and everything to do with personal enjoyment. While that of course is perfectly acceptable (after all it’s your home), just don’t forget this when it comes time to sell your place.

There are many home owners who incorrectly believe that every home improvement they make to their property comes back to them in the form of increased value. This is not the case and in fact there are things you can spend money on that not only don’t add value, but can actually make your place more difficult to sell.

The homes in the surrounding area have a lot to do with the market value of your property. This remains true no matter how much you invest in your house. It is understandable that you want to make your home as nice as you can, but you risk possible resale problems when you upgrade too extravagantly. You may still be able to sell the house, but you may not get your money back if the renovations are too far beyond the standard for your area.

Do it yourself projects can be fun and rewarding, but they can also affect the value of your home negatively. Crooked tiles in the bathroom and unreliable wiring in the finished basement are not selling points, even if they were learning experiences for you. Most of the time it pays to bring in a professional to do your renovations. This way the additions you make to your home will actually add value.

Don’t think this matters and nobody will notice? This is one of the first things a good home inspector will look for. Most home inspectors will immediately be able to distinguish do it yourself work from that of a professional. It is an obvious mistake to make home improvements you are not qualified to do.
There are classic choices and there are trendy choices. For people interested in selling their homes, classic is usually the safer bet – at least if you want to get back the money you spent on the improvements. Avoid the styles of the moment if you want to add lasting value to your home.

Choose a neutral paint color. It is your home and you can paint it whatever color you like. However, to get the best price on your home you should have a fallback paint plan before you put it up on the market. Lighter, more neutral colors – think off white – are much more appealing to potential buyers than anything else out there.

Your child’s room may be bright purple and your game room may be lime green, but you should be ready to change them back before you begin the sale process. If you can’t stand the thought of any kind of off white then choose colors that are “earth tones.” A large percentage of buyers are attracted to shades of brown. Use these colors to spruce up your home and you will be happy with the results they bring.

If you have the attitude that it is just paint and any buyer can just look past my colors then you don’t understand the psychology of selling. Buyers can not visualize and can not look past a weird paint color. For those that can they just don’t understand how this could stop a sale, it can, and it does.

Carrie Colby
Premier Properties

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ture or False? Test your coverage IQ - From Tricia Zwirner at State Farm Insurance

Only 45 percent of Americans feel confident enough to make insurance decisions, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
Where do you stand? There’s no time like the present to enhance your insurance literacy. The more you know, the better able you are to protect yourself, your family and your largest investments. Test your knowledge and learn more with this short quiz:

1.      Your homeowners coverage should equal the estimated replacement cost of your home, not the purchase price​
2.      Your homeowners insurance policy covers flood damage.
3.      A solution for people who want extra levels of liability insurance protection above the limits provided by their auto and homeowners policies is called an overflow policy.
4.      Your address may impact your auto insurance rate.
5.      Your life insurance policy should cover 10 times your yearly income. 


1. True. It’s up to you to choose the coverages and limits that meet your needs, but it’s best to insure your home for at least 100 percent of its estimated replacement cost —the cost of repairing or replacing your home to restore its original condition. Estimated replacement cost is different from market value or purchase price. If you select a coverage amount lower than the estimated replacement cost, certain coverages may be unavailable to you. Periodically review your coverages and limits with your agent and notify your agent of any changes or additions to your home.

2. False. Homeowners policies typically exclude flood coverage. Adding coverage may be worth looking into, no matter where you live. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), more than 20 percent of all flood claims happen in moderate- to low-risk areas. State Farm® agents enrolled in the NFIP Direct Program are able to write and service flood insurance coverage for qualifying homes directly through the federal government program, NFIP Direct.

3. False. A Personal Liability Umbrella Policy layers on top of your existing underlying policies to provide extra protection when home and auto liability limits are exhausted. Your agent can help explain how a Personal Liability Umbrella can help ensure that your family and financial health are protected in the event of an accident or lawsuit.

4. True. People who live in densely populated areas—noted for higher occurrences of accidents and theft—will likely pay more for auto insurance than those who live in rural areas, where accidents and theft are less prevalent. Other factors that may influence the cost of auto insurance: Vehicle type, coverage and driving record.

5. False. There is no “one-size-fits-all” formula for selecting life insurance coverage—it’s a personal matter. The State Farm Life Insurance Calculator can estimate the amount of coverage you may need to help protect your family.
Want to know more? Enhance your knowledge of insurance by talking to your State Farm agent. Establishing an open dialogue with your State Farm agent is the best way to answer any questions you may have.

Because insurance protection is a contract, any coverage descriptions in this article are general only and are not statements of contract. All coverages are subject to all policy provisions, including applicable endorsements.

2015 - What will it bring? - By Rick Yost

It is the time of the year when newspapers, magazines, and television are full of 2014 recaps and 2015 predictions. So in the spirit of the season, here are my predictions for real estate in 2015.
The economy will continue to improve. GDP was up in 2014 and will continue to trend higher in 2015. This will result in more job creation and higher consumer confidence. These two are ingredients for stronger housing demand.

Mortgage rates will remain low. The Federal Reserve ended their quantitative easing in 2014 and mortgage rates stayed low and even dipped below four percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages. Freddie Mac predicts that mortgage rates will average 4.6 percent in 2015. While this is not as low as 2014, it is still historically very low. Interest rates should be at around five percent for 30-year fixed rate by the end of 2015.

Mortgage originations for single family homes will be down and multi-family originations will be up. 2014s low interest rates combined with slowly rising rates in 2015 will lead to a decline in refinance activity which has been more than half of single family homes originations over the last few years. Multi-family originations will be pushed higher by demand fueled by record rental rates. It is a good time to be a landlord.

While new housing starts have been healthy in Windham, they have been tepid in other parts of the state and the country. Expect that to change in 2015. Builder confidence and consumer confidence will combine to drive housing starts hire. This will create rising demand and pricing for raw, build-able land.
Foreclosures and distressed sales will continue to decline. 2014 saw foreclosures fall almost 30 percent and distressed sales fall as well. This trend will continue in 2015. The strengthening economy and home price appreciation will help more homeowners avoid foreclosure and short sales.

Home prices will continue to rise, but at a much slower rate. 2013 and 2014 saw abnormally high home price appreciation. 2013 home prices ended up 9.3 percent and 2014 will end with price appreciation of around 4.4 percent. This trend will continue in 2015, but at a more normalized rate. Expect a 3 to 3.5 percent rise in home prices this year. 

New home prices continue to be high in 2015. New home sales usually make up over 15 percent of home sales, but have only been 9 percent in recent years. New home prices still rose substantially this year. This suggests the new homes are overpriced and push down demand. New home prices will still be high, but the economy will help demand.

Inventories will loosen in 2015. Higher prices and lower foreclosure rates will decrease large investor participation and increased home values will allow more homeowners to sell. These will combine to create more inventory available for the average home buyer.

So what does this all really mean? If you have not refinanced your home in the last few years, do it now. Multifamily homes are a great investment in 2015. If you are thinking about trading your home up or down in the next few years, do it in 2015 while interest rates are still historically low and home price appreciation is normalizing. Great deals on foreclosures and distressed sales will be harder to find, so act now. New construction homes will offer substantially less value than a similar existing home in 2015. These some of the opportunities and pitfalls that 2015 holds.

 Here is hoping for a happy, healthy, and profitable 2015.