Exterior home improvements yield higher ROI for less money, report shows

February 7th, 2017 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – Renovation season is approaching. Do you know what home improvements will give you the best return for your money? Here’s a hint: step outside.

You might assume upgrades to interior spaces like kitchens and bathrooms have the best payoff, but most home improvements don’t return 100 percent of their value at the time of resale. Those that yield the best return on investment for the most modest costs are generally exterior improvements.

Outside the box

Interior projects like a minor kitchen renovation or bathroom upgrade return a decent percentage of your initial investment when you sell your home – about 80 percent and 65 percent, respectively, according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report. However, they can also cost tens of thousands of dollars.

By contrast, exterior projects like adding a deck or replacing a garage door deliver similar high rates of return, but for far less cost. Adding a composite deck can cost around $17,000 and yield an ROI of more than 65 percent, while a garage door typically costs less than $2,000 and returns nearly 77 percent of your investment when you sell.

In fact, six of the eight improvements with the best ROI on Remodeling’s report were exterior projects, and their average payback was nearly 75 percent.

Top exterior projects

Here are popular exterior projects that offer high ROI, according to the Cost vs. Value report:

* Roof replacement – A midrange roof replacement costs approximately $20,000 and returns nearly 69 percent of the investment. What’s more, a new roof helps protect your entire home from weather damage and can improve curb appeal.

* Composite deck addition – Costs vary, but Remodeling bases its evaluation of ROI on a cost of about $17,000. At that price, adding a composite deck delivers ROI of 65.2 percent. Of course, the value of your deck will depend on many factors, including the quality of the building products you choose. Capped board composites, like Envision Decking by TAMKO Building Products, are gaining popularity. Envision Inspiration, the latest in the TAMKO collection, was introduced in late 2016, and features striking color patterns for a visual effect that’s as appealing as the financial ROI of composite decking.

* Siding replacement – Another exterior feature that protects the whole home and greatly affects its curb appeal, new siding can cost around $14,500. When you sell your home, that new siding will recoup about 76 percent of your initial investment.

* Garage door replacement – Older garage doors may lack modern insulating qualities and a shabby-looking door can drag down the look of your home. Replacing the garage door costs roughly $1,700 and returns nearly 77 percent of that amount at the time of resale.

* Steel entry door – The single exterior home improvement with the greatest ROI is also one of the cheapest and easiest to do. Replacing a wooden door with a steel entry door will run you about $1,400 and you’ll recoup more than 90 percent of that cost when you sell your home.

Exterior home improvements not only enhance your enjoyment of your home and help maintain its security, they’re also the first things potential buyers see when they pull up to the curb. When you want to make cost-effective, high-ROI improvements, making exterior upgrades is money well spent.

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Tackle your DIY projects with these 3 multipurpose tools

February 7th, 2017 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – DIY projects are surging in popularity right now and it’s easy to see why. A successful DIY project can fix a problem or make a much-needed improvement to your home, while also providing you with the satisfaction of a job well done. Best of all, it allows you to save money over hiring a professional contractor to do the work.

But is it possible to conquer several DIY projects in a short period of time? Sure, you just need the right multipurpose tools for the job. Below are three tools you can pick up at any hardware store, and each will allow you to tackle a slew of projects with just one purchase, making each tool the perfect project time saver.

Add these three multipurpose tools to your lineup today:

Multipurpose tool 1: Stain

A staining project is an easy, cost-effective way to completely recreate a look in your home. You may purchase one color of stain or several, depending on how many staining projects you plan to do and the proximity of your projects in your home. When you purchase your stain, you can use it to:

* Stain your front door. Your front door is a focal point in your home and staining it gives the face of your home a completely new look.

* Stain your wood floors. Darker floors are growing in popularity and a fresh coat of stain can give your home that look without an expensive replacement.

* Stain a table or other piece of furniture. Whether you want it to be an accent piece in your room or you’d like it to match your new décor, a fresh coat of stain saves you from having to replace a cherished piece.

Multipurpose tool 2: GREAT STUFF(TM) Multipurpose Black Insulating Foam Sealant

Sealing the gaps and cracks around your home will save you money by making your home more energy efficient, while also increasing your home’s comfort. In fact, one can of GREAT STUFF(TM) has a multitude of uses in and around the home, including:

* Seal gaps and cracks around attic doors. This will prevent your home’s heat from escaping during the winter and will better control the temperature in your home.

* Seal areas around vents and duct work. In addition to helping better regulate the temperature in your home, these projects can also ward off pests and vermin that are looking for warmer temperatures inside.

* Tackle other jobs as well. The capabilities of GREAT STUFF™ Multipurpose Black Insulating Foam Sealant apply to projects outside the home as well, so whether you have a project in mind or one arises along your journey, it’s always handy to have a can on hand.

Multipurpose tool 3: Degreaser

If you have a heavy duty cleaning project to tackle in your home, a good degreaser can help. Degreasers dissolve water-insoluble substances and they can help you:

* Clean stainless steel and appliances. Grease and oil collect naturally in any kitchen and their particles can linger on kitchen equipment. Applying degreaser can remove them quickly and cleanly.

* Remove adhesives. Whether the sticker was supposed to go there, it was an accident or the subject of child’s whim, applying degreaser can clean the spot good as new.

* Eliminate heavy buildup around bike chains and engine parts. Buildup is a natural product of use, but it also jeopardizes efficiency. Apply degreaser to these areas to have your favorite objects running like new.

Your mind is already full of DIY projects you’d love to tackle, you just need to find the time to do them. Efficiency is key and the more projects you can tackle with one tool the better. Add these tools to your next home goods trip and you’ll have your DIY project start off on the right foot. To find more projects you can tackle with GREAT STUFF(TM) Multipurpose Black Insulating Foam Sealant, visit greatstuff.dow.com.

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Light solutions: What to do when your house feels like a cave

February 6th, 2017 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – A house with ample windows can win your heart with silent promises of sun-drenched rooms and warm breezes wafting through open windows. The truth, however, is that even a home with windows galore can have rooms that feel dark and cave like.

Some of the most-loved aspects of modern design – open, expansive floor plans, wood flooring in darker tones, walls of windows – may leave portions of a room dazzled with sun and other parts dim and poorly lit. For example, a room with a wall full of picture windows will often lack windows on other walls. Near the windows, you’ll get plenty of sunlight and some glare, but the natural light might not make it to the far corners of the room – especially if it’s a large space like a great room.

What’s more, interior spaces like powder rooms, laundry rooms, mudrooms and closets often have no windows at all, making them feel small and dark. No one wants rooms that look like caves – not even if your house has an actual “man cave” or “woman cave” in it!

Fortunately, a few smart decorating tricks and some budget-friendly, high-impact enhancements can help brighten rooms and relieve that cavelike feeling.

Sunlight solutions

Of course, the sure-fire way to get more light into a room is to add more windows, but that’s not always a practical or cost-effective solution. Instead, look for alternative ways to bring more sunlight into a room.

Daylighting systems can bring sunlight from a rooftop down into a room, allowing natural light to illuminate dark spaces where light from windows can’t reach. For example, the Solatube Daylighting System captures daylight with a rooftop dome. A highly reflective tube funnels light inside the home, where a decorative fixture on the ceiling spills the natural light into dim areas. The tube fits between rafters, so there’s no need to cut through critical structures, do frame work or make repairs to sheetrock.

An options light kit provides electric illumination on cloudy days or at night. The included integrated solar-powered nightlight provides gentle, low-level illumination at night, and qualifies the entire system, plus installation, for a 30 percent federal tax credit. With the tax credit, Solatubes start at less than $500 installed, making them a cost-effective option for any room in the house, and especially in master baths, powder rooms, mudrooms, hallways and laundry rooms. To learn more, visit Solatubedaylighting.com.

Another option is to amplify the sunlight coming into the room. Strategically positioning mirrors can help reflect natural light to dark corners. What’s more, a large mirror mimics the feeling of a window, making rooms feel bigger and brighter.

Window dressing

Maximizing the amount of light that comes in through the windows you do have is easy. Keep curtains light and airy, and use blinds or shades to control the amount of light coming from the window. Install curtain rods 2 feet wider than windows so that when curtains or drapes are open, they don’t block any of the window or the light coming through it.

You can also “dress” walls to mimic the look of windows. For example, if you have a windowless powder room, adding a transom above the door can help the room feel bigger while borrowing light from adjacent rooms. The tactic of borrowing light can also work if you’re able to put a pass through between a closed off room and an adjacent one that has windows.

Decorating tricks

Finally, don’t overlook the power of decor in making a room feel bright and welcoming. Light-hued walls of white, cream or pale yellow or blue not only make a room feel bigger, they evoke the visual qualities of natural light.

Large windowless rooms, like a basement play room, can benefit from large framed art. Select scenes that mimic the view you might get from a picture window, such as a seascape, mountain scene or city skyline.

Filtered overhead light can also create the effect of a natural light source. For example, drape light-colored, opaque fabric above a bed, so that the cloth conceals the overhead light fixture. As the artificial light shines through the fabric, it will imitate the diffused look of natural light.

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4 bathroom design trends that marry luxury, beauty and sensibility

February 5th, 2017 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – When you’re ready to create the bathroom of your dreams, it’s no time to chase fads. You want design trends with enduring appeal, concepts that blend luxury, beauty, sensibility and eco-friendliness. Striking the perfect balance between indulgence and practicality can result in a bathroom where you’ll happily spend time getting ready to face the world or decompressing after a busy day.

As you’re planning your bathroom remodel, here are four 2017 bathroom design trends that are as smart as they are luxurious and lovely:

Rediscover cork

Chances are, if cork is already present in your home, it’s part of a bulletin board or nestled in the neck of your favorite bottle of wine. However, cork has many advantages as a design material, and it’s especially appealing in modern bathrooms.

Cork is a beautiful natural material. With a wide variety of colors, grains and textures, each piece of cork is a unique work of natural art. It’s naturally water resistant (although not water proof) and anti-microbial, so it combats mold and mildew in bathrooms. As a flooring material, it’s soft, warm texture is friendly to bare feet.

Finally, cork is exceptionally sustainable; it’s renewable, recyclable and biodegradable, and cork trees need not be cut down in order to harvest the material.

Win with wall-mount toilets

Already widely found in European homes, wall-mount toilets are gaining in popularity in the U.S. Wall-mount toilets offer many design advantages that are both beautiful and practical. Mounting a toilet on the wall allows greater design flexibility, and makes cleaning beneath and around the fixture easy. Great in any size bathroom, wall-mount toilets work particularly well in smaller spaces to create an uncluttered and open visual effect.

Leading manufacturers like TOTO offer wall-hung toilets that feature leading edge technology and eco-friendly elements. The newest addition to TOTO’s line of wall-mount toilets, the MH Wall-Hung High Efficiency Toilet, delivers an elegant appearance, powerful Dual-Max 3D Tornado flushing, a nano-technology glaze that repels waste and reduces the need for harsh cleansers, and a planet-loving 1.28 gallons per flush for solid waste and 0.9 gpf for liquid waste.

Delightful daylighting

The concept of daylighting – using natural light from multiple sources to illuminate a space – has been around for a while, and this is the year to welcome the trend into your bathroom. Incorporating natural light into a bathroom can help reduce electricity consumption, improve visibility, positively affect your mood, balance your internal clock and increase your home’s resale value.

Windows are the most common way to bring sunlight into a room. If your bathroom has an exterior wall that’s lacking a window, consider adding one. Windows with glass blocks or simple frosting on panes can allow you to enjoy sunlight while retaining privacy.

Skylights and tubular skylights are another tactic for bringing daylight into a bathroom. For rooms with direct roof access, professional skylight installation can be a cost-effective way to daylight the room. For ground-floor powder rooms and second-floor bathrooms with an attic above them, tubular skylights use reflective tubes and mirrors to transmit sunlight from the roof into the room.

Wonderful wet rooms

Showers, like TOTO’s Aero Shower System, have been trending toward larger and luxurious for some time now on the bathroom design scene. For a shower that truly stands out in terms of visual impact and luxurious experience, consider creating a wet room. Another bathroom design concept that’s popular abroad, modern wet room bathrooms eliminate shower doors, enhance accessibility, make cleaning easier and create a more expansive shower experience.

To turn your standard bathroom into a wet room, you’ll need to waterproof the walls and floors, and have the floor gently graded to lead to a central floor drain that carries excess water away. Whether you have a large bathroom or a smaller space, the wet room concept can make your bathroom look and feel bigger by eliminating shower stalls, doors and curtains that take up space.

The average mid-range bathroom remodel recoups more than 65 percent of its value upon resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. By choosing design trends that combine good sense with luxurious style, you can create a bathroom that will enhance your enjoyment of your home while increasing your home’s value.

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What you should know about rising interest rates

January 29th, 2017 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – Homeowners planning to refinance and buyers searching for a home may have an idea of what’s in store for them with regards to interest rates, but they never really know until they lock in a rate. This is in part because rates can change direction fast, and when they rise—as they have been recently—it can cost borrowers a great deal of money and time.

The effect of rising interest rates on your home purchase

Today, the median existing home price in the United States is around $235,000, and the average mortgage interest rate is near 4 percent. If you were to buy a home at that price, an interest rate increase of half a percent would cost you an additional $70 per month on your loan payment. And that assumes you’ll put the standard 20 percent down in advance. A more dramatic rate increase—say from 4 percent to 6 percent, even over time, would increase your monthly payment by almost $300.

Home price gains

For homebuyers, it’s not just rising interest rates that can increase your payment, but so can home price appreciation. In fact, in most markets, housing prices have increased past highs previously set before the financial crisis in 2007/2008. For example, in citing this recovery, the Federal Housing Finance Agency recently increased the maximum loan amount for mortgages that meet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines for the first time in more than a decade.

The new conforming loan limits increased only slightly, to $424,100 in most parts of the country. This will enable home buyers in higher-cost areas to access larger home loan amounts and more affordable loan products, in line with local housing prices.

The home buying season may start early this year

Spring/summer is traditionally the busiest home buying time of the year as many sellers wait to list their homes after the cold winter weather is over and to coincide with the summer school break. However, with both home prices and interest rates on the rise, more buyers are expected to enter the home buying market earlier this year, making for a more competitive home buying season. Potential buyers will need to be aggressive to find the home they want at a rate they can afford.

Starting your loan search today

If you’re in the market but haven’t found the home of your dreams yet, there are tools available to guard against increasing mortgage rates. Lenders like loanDepot help customers save by giving them the opportunity to lock a quoted rate and hold (lock in) that rate for 45 to 60 days, protecting them from potential fluctuations in the market. And with rates rising, now is a great time to lock your loan at a more favorable interest rate.

If you do choose to lock your loan, you’ll need to provide an appraisal deposit which can range from $450 to $750. This is not a fee, and is returned when working with loanDepot if there is no appraisal performed on a home.

Navigating your options can seem confusing at first, but a loanDepot licensed lending officer can help. You can learn more by visiting loandepot.com or by calling (888) 983-3240 today for more information.

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