NE TEXAS Real Estate News

Where are Home Values Headed over the Next Few Years?

Where are Home Values Headed over the Next Few Years? | MyKCM

There are many questions about where home prices will be next year as well as where they may be headed over the next several years to come. We have gathered the most reliable sources to help answer these questions:

The Home Price Expectation Survey – A survey of over 100 market analysts, real estate experts, and economists conducted by Pulsenomics each quarter.

Zelman & Associates – The firm leverages unparalleled housing market expertise, extensive surveys of industry executives, and rigorous financial analysis to deliver proprietary research and advice to leading global institutional investors and senior-level company executives.

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) – As the leading advocate for the real estate finance industry, the MBA enables members to successfully deliver fair, sustainable, and responsible real estate financing within ever-changing business environments.

Freddie Mac – An organization whose mission is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S. housing market in all economic conditions extending to all communities from coast to coast.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) – The largest association of real estate professionals in the world.

Fannie Mae – A leading source of financing for mortgage lenders, providing access to affordable mortgage financing in all markets always.

Here are their projections of prices going forward:

Where are Home Values Headed over the Next Few Years? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Every source sees home prices continuing to appreciate – just at lower percentages as we move through the next several years.

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Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Home Financing
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on October 29th, 2018 4:09 PM

Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control?

Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control? | MyKCM

Some homeowners have recently done a “cash out” refinance and have taken a portion of their increased equity from their house. Others have sold their homes and purchased more expensive homes with larger mortgages. At the same time, first-time buyers have become homeowners and now have mortgage payments for the first time.

These developments have caused concern that families might be reaching unsustainable levels of mortgage debt. Some are worried that we may be repeating a behavior that helped precipitate the housing crash ten years ago.

Today, we want to assure everyone that this is not the case. Here is a graph created from data released by the Federal Reserve Board which shows the Household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages as a percentage of disposable personal income. The ratio is the total quarterly required mortgage payments divided by total quarterly disposable personal income. In other words, the percentage of spendable income people are using to pay their mortgage.

Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control? | MyKCM

Today’s ratio of 4.44% is nowhere near the ratio of 7.21% during the peak of the housing bubble and is instead at the lowest rate since 1980 (4.38%).

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk recently commented on the ratio:

“The Debt Service Ratio for mortgages is near the low for the last 38 years. This ratio increased rapidly during the housing bubble and continued to increase until 2007. With falling interest rates, and less mortgage debt, the mortgage ratio has declined significantly.”

Bottom Line

Many families paid a heavy price because of questionable practices that led to last decade’s housing crash. It seems the American people have learned a lesson and are not repeating that same behavior regarding their mortgage debt.

Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Home Owner Tips
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on April 19th, 2018 3:45 PM

Is a Major Home Renovation Worth It in the Long Run?

Is a Major Home Renovation Worth It in the Long Run? | MyKCM

Last week, we shared 7 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Home To Retire In.For some homeowners, these seven factors can be taken into account with a home renovation, but is it worth it to remodel or change floor plans?

Let’s look at this example.

Let’s say you have a 4-bedroom colonial style home in a great school district. The neighborhood is amazing, and you are very comfortable there, but your kids are all grown up and the original benefits of the home no longer apply.

You’ve always wanted a huge master suite and are considering merging 3 of the smaller bedrooms on the second floor to achieve this dream.

In the short term, you are over the moon excited about your newly renovated oasis.

In the long term, when you go to sell your home down the road, you’ve now taken a 4-bedroom home in a great school district and turned it into a 2-bedroom home. Your pool of potential buyers has shrunk significantly and so has the value of your home (unless you are able to find someone who has the exact needs you have today!).

Why not consider listing your 4-bedroom home now and moving into a gorgeous 2-bedroom with a master suite? Your house can become a home for the next family looking for that perfect neighborhood with a great school district to raise their kids in!

You may even be able to achieve your dream in the same area you love, without having to give up your favorite restaurants and grocery stores.

Bottom Line

If you are debating a major renovation that would change the layout of your home, before you pick up that sledgehammer, let’s get together and discuss the available listings in our area that might meet your needs today!

Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Home Owner Tips
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on March 21st, 2018 10:13 AM

What Impact Will the New Tax Code Have on Home Values?

Every month, CoreLogic releases its Home Price Insights Report. In that report, they forecast where they believe residential real estate prices will be in twelve months.

Below is a map, broken down by state, reflecting how home values are forecasted to change by the end of 2018 using data from the most recent report.

What Impact Will the New Tax Code Have on Home Values? | Simplifying The Market

As we can see, CoreLogic projects an increase in home values in 49 of 50 states, and Washington, DC (there was insufficient data for HI). Nationwide, they see home prices increasing by 4.2%.

How might the new tax code impact these numbers?

Recently, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) conducted their own analysis to determine the impact the new tax code may have on home values. NAR’s analysis:

“…estimated how home prices will change in the upcoming year for each state, considering the impact of the new tax law and the momentum of jobs and housing inventory.”

Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Home Owner Tips
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on January 19th, 2018 10:53 AM
The Impact of Homeownership on Family Health | Simplifying The Market

The Impact of Homeownership on Family Health

The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled 'Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study confirmed a long-standing belief of most Americans:

“Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.”

Today, we want to cover the section of the report that quoted several studies concentrating on the impact homeownership has on the health of family members. Here are some of the major findings on this issue revealed in the report:

  • There is a strong positive relationship between living in poor housing and a range of health problems, including respiratory conditions such as asthma, exposure to toxic substances, injuries and mental health. Homes of owners are generally in better condition than those of renters.
  • Findings reveal that increases in housing wealth were associated with better health outcomes for homeowners.
  • Low-income people who recently became homeowners reported higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and higher perceived control over their lives.
  • Homeowners report higher self-esteem and happiness than renters. For example, homeowners are more likely to believe that they can do things as well as anyone else, and they report higher self-ratings on their physical health even after controlling for age and socioeconomic factors.
  • Renters who become homeowners not only experience a significant increase in housing satisfaction but also obtain a higher satisfaction even in the same home in which they resided as renters.
  • Social mobility variables, such as the family financial situation and housing tenure during childhood and adulthood, impacted one’s self-rated health.
  • Homeowners have a significant health advantage over renters, on average. Homeowners are 2.5 percent more likely to have good health. When adjusting for an array of demographic, socioeconomic, and housing–related characteristics, the homeowner advantage is even larger at 3.1 percent.

Bottom Line

People often talk about the financial benefits of homeownership. As we can see, there are also social benefits of owning your own home.

Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on May 11th, 2017 11:27 AM

Although your homeowners' insurance offers financial protection against property damage or destruction, your policy includes coverage exclusions if your residence is unoccupied. If you plan to leave your residence vacant for several months or years, you'll need to insure your house accordingly.

There are many reasons why you may choose to vacate your residence for an extended period of time, including: 

 

You own a rental property. If you own a rental property and are between tenants, you may leave the property vacant until you find a new tenant.

You moved to a new home. If you purchased a new residence but your previous house remains unsold, the latter residence may stay vacant until you sell it.

You are completing home renovations. If you embark on a massive home renovation project, you may need to vacate your home and find a temporary residence until the project is completed.

You are selling a house to close an estate. If you are the executor of a loved one's estate, you may leave the home vacant as you try to sell it.

Home insurance providers will use two questions to define a vacant residence:

  1. Is anyone living at the residence?
  2. Is there enough property inside of a home for someone to live there?

Ultimately, there are many risks for homeowners who choose not to insure a vacant residence, including:

Water Damage: If a pipe freezes and bursts in winter, substantial water damage could occur. Meanwhile, a vacant homeowner may fail to identify and resolve this problem immediately, which could cause the issue to escalate.

Vandalism and Mischief: An abandoned residence could become an "attractive nuisance," increasing the risk of vandalism and mischief. In addition, if an individual is injured on the property, a vacant homeowner could be liable.

Squatting: An individual may "squat," i.e. claim the rights to a property based on occupation rather than ownership. In this scenario, a vacant homeowner could face a legal battle to evict the squatter.

Theft: An unoccupied residence may be more susceptible to theft than others, which means any personal belongings or building elements like plumbing fixtures that are left behind could be in danger.

A vacant residence raises numerous concerns for homeowners, but there are several things you can do to safeguard your house, including obtaining a vacancy permit endorsement or vacant home insurance.

What Is a Vacancy Permit Endorsement?

A vacancy permit endorsement extends coverage past the 30 or 60 days that a homeowners' policy may give you for vacancy. It can also void vandalism, water damage, theft and other exclusions that commonly appear in a homeowners' policy for a set amount of time.

Obtaining a vacancy permit endorsement is paramount, and failure to do so could result in you paying for losses or a lapse in coverage. Fortunately, getting a vacancy permit endorsement can be simple, particularly for those who contact their insurance provider as soon as possible.

If you intend to leave your house for 30 days or longer, getting in touch with your home insurer will enable you to find out if you can obtain a vacancy permit and if you need a vacancy permit endorsement. If your insurance company fails to provide this endorsement, you will have sufficient time to find and purchase vacant home insurance from another provider.

What Is Vacant Home Insurance?

Your home insurer may determine it is too risky to offer a vacancy permit endorsement for your unoccupied home. Therefore, you may need to purchase vacant home insurance to supplement your existing homeowners' policy.

Vacant home insurance safeguards your residence against vandalism, theft and other issues that may arise with a vacant home. It is an ideal choice if you know you'll be away from your residence for many months or years and guarantees your unoccupied house will be protected against a broad range of risks.

Like standard homeowners' insurance, vacant home insurance includes costs that will vary based on several factors, such as:

Your Home's Location: Insurance companies will look at where your home is located and the risk factors in that area to guarantee you can receive the right vacant home coverage.

How Much Coverage You Want: Insurance providers may offer coverage recommendations for your vacant home, but the total cost of your vacant home insurance policy may increase or decrease based on your coverage preferences.

Your Home's Risk Factors: The age and condition of your home may cause your vacant home insurance rates to rise or fall accordingly.

When it comes to a vacant home, it is essential to get the necessary insurance to protect your residence even when you're not living there. With a vacancy permit endorsement or vacant home insurance, you'll be able to safeguard your unoccupied residence at all times.

Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Home Owner Tips
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on January 10th, 2017 1:57 PM

Five Reasons Why You Need To Buy A Carpet Cleaner


              

When the time comes to give your carpet the deep cleaning experience of its life, you really have 3 options: hiring a professional; renting a carpet cleaner; or buying a carpet cleaner. We think buying your own carpet cleaner is a worthwhile investment, and here are 5 reasons why:

1. Over time, it makes financial sense. A professional carpet cleaner with truck-mounted cleaning equipment might do a more thorough job, but at up to six times the cost of renting a machine for the day - 'easy but expensive' was the verdict of Consumer Reports. Meanwhile, the more often you clean your carpet, the more cost-effective it will be to buy rather than rent a carpet cleaner. Experts suggest you should be cleaning your carpet every 12 to 24 months, but if you have pets, kids or other sources of regular mess - and/or if anyone in your home has allergies that can be exacerbated by dust, dirt or pet hair - your carpet will thank you for a more frequent deep clean. If you can get into the habit of using your carpet cleaner regularly, you could extend the life of your carpet, too.

2. You have a better guarantee of quality than with a rental machine. Ask yourself this: if you inadvertently rented a carpet cleaner that was not in good repair, would you know? Would you be able to tell if it was releasing too much detergent, or too much water? We don't think we would. But if you buy a carpet cleaner, read the directions and keep it well maintained, you'll a) be assured that it's not been used before and b) get to know it, so you can tell when it's not working like it should.

3. It saves time. You see all that above about reading the directions and getting to know your carpet cleaner? If you rent, you're going to have to do that every time, even if you're able to rent the same model on every occasion (which is not guaranteed!). If you buy a carpet cleaner and use it regularly, you'll only need to figure out how it works once.

4. You can avoid hidden extra costs. Do you need extra accessories, like an attachment for cleaning the stairs? That could cost you extra if you rent a carpet cleaner. What about if your carpet is badly in need of a clean and you have to use your carpet cleaner twice? That's going to cost you extra with a rental, both in terms of the rental period and extra cleaning fluid. And don't forget about the cost - in money and in time - of picking up and dropping off a rental carpet cleaner: an extra hassle if you don't drive, or don't have a vehicle big enough to transport the unit.

5. You have more choice. As we hope our top 5 and top 10 lists show, there are a lot of carpet cleaners out there: but not all of them are available as rental units. If you buy, you have a better chance of finding a carpet cleaner that is right for you.

6. No judgey strangers coming into your home. Cast your mind back to the Jimmy Kimmel video. OK, if you buy your own carpet cleaner you will have fewer opportunities to pull pranks on carpet cleaning professionals, which is a definite con. But if your carpet has gotten so dirty that the idea of anyone taking a close look at it, besides close family members and maybe your regular cleaner, fills you with juuust a little shame, then consider the benefits of owning your own carpet cleaning machine to use whenever you like.

How Do Carpet Cleaners Work?

Professional carpet cleaners use a variety of methods to get the nasty out of your carpet - but since you've read the article above, we're going to go ahead and assume you're interested in buying your own carpet cleaner to keep and use at home, rather than having to call in the pros once or twice a year.

With the exception of spot cleaners like the #2 choice in our top 5 list, the vast majority of carpet cleaners available for you to buy for use at home use a method that is often called steam cleaning but is more accurately known as hot water extraction (it's actually about as 'steamy' as the Pope's Instagram feed, as opposed to the separate industrial process of steam cleaning, which is steamier than a screening of Black Swan shown in a sauna).

Hot water extraction involves spreading hot water, or more usually a hot solution of detergent and water, over the carpet, working it deep into the fibers, and then vacuuming it out (ie extracting it), along with a load of lurking dirt. It's important that your carpet cleaner performs this 'extraction' part of hot water extraction effectively, both to ensure a thorough clean and a speedy drying time. If your cleaned carpet takes forever to dry, not only is that going to be inconvenient for you - how long can you go without setting foot in an entire room of your home?! - but it could cause discoloration or even mildew in your carpet.

Some carpet cleaners also come with a 'pretreatment' solution. If you want to pretreat your carpet before deep cleaning, look for a solution that promises to rinse easily: you don't want to swap a dirty carpet for a carpet with trodden-in cleaning solution.

Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on October 30th, 2016 4:49 PM

10 Budget friendly ways to improve your home's value

Selling your home in today's market can seem like a challenge, especially if your home could use some tender loving care. But what if you just don't have it in your budget to invest thousands of dollars into a remodel? For many cash strapped homeowners this is the dilemma that keeps them awake at night.

Rest easy, there are many small projects that you can do around the house that will increase your home's value without breaking the bank. Let's take a look at 10 budget-friendly ways to increase your home's value:

  1. Landscaping

    By spending just a few hundred dollars on grass seed or replacement sod, new flowers, bushes, or trees, any homeowner with a shovel and some elbow grease can dramatically improve their home's curb appeal over a long weekend. For inspiration check out Landscaping.com.

  2. Wash instead of paint

    If you can't afford to paint the home, how about giving it a good wash? With a ladder and an extension brush any homeowner can give their home's exterior a thorough scrub down. Don't forget to wash the screens, windows, and gutters while you're at it. And when you're done outside, move inside.

  3. Paint the trim and front door

    Another way to revitalize your home's exterior is to paint just the trim and front door - two items buyers' eyes are naturally drawn to when driving by your home. Just be sure that the paint is a good match to the base color and to you avoid embarrassing drips.

  4. Clean the floors

    If you can't afford new flooring, consider steam cleaning carpets, washing or waxing laminate, hardwood or linoleum floors, and cleaning the grout on tile floors. Have a hole or permanent stain in the carpet? Consider replacing the flooring in just that room by talking to your local flooring vendor and ask about large remnants (left over materials from larger jobs that may fit smaller rooms).

  5. Re-caulk plumbing fixtures

    Over time caulk, the silicon that protects surfaces from water seepage around plumbing fixtures, can discolor, tear, or degrade. Stripping this material out and replacing it with a fresh bead of silicon is an inexpensive way to improve both bathrooms and kitchens. Caulk now comes in different grades and colors, so be sure to shop for a product that is appropriate for the job and matches your décor.

  6. Pressure wash sidewalks and driveways

    Over the years dirt, dust, and grime work their way into the driveways and sidewalks of every home. The good news is that a few hours with a pressure washer can turn back the clock on these surfaces. A word of warning: while it might be tempting to use the same device to wash your home, don't. The high pressure stream can easily peel the paint off your home ( which is not a good selling point).

  7. De-clutter the home

    A home packed full of furniture, clothing, collections, exercise equipment, and memorabilia can cause a home to look much smaller than its actual size. Have a garage sale, rent a storage unit, or start making trips to the landfill and be sure to whittle down your home's contents to a manageable size.

  8. Fix the small things

    Every homeowner keeps a list of the small projects that they never seem to have time to complete. Now is the time to jump on those projects. Need a gentle reminder? Replacing light bulbs throughout the home, fixing holes in doors or walls, greasing squeaky cabinets or doors, cleaning the gutters, fixing leaking plumbing fixtures, and changing the air filters would be a good start.

  9. Update lighting fixtures

    You can spend a fortune on lighting fixtures but you don't have to. Consider selectively changing lighting fixtures that date the home. Exterior garage lights, bathroom lights, or bedroom lights are all great choices.

  10. Deep clean the home

    A deep cleaning isn't just straightening up or rearranging the dust bunnies. It's a no holds barred war on dirt. Starting from the highest point in the home clean every single surface. Yes, you will have to move furniture, clean out closets, and lift up the couch, but the results will be well worth the effort.

Improving your home's value doesn't always have to mean taking out a second mortgage. Sometimes small projects can improve the value of your home in big ways. So roll up your sleeves, put on your gloves, and have fun!

Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Home Owner Tips
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on August 23rd, 2016 5:51 PM

Selecting the Right Interior Colors

Decorating your home is an exciting event, and paint offers you the ability to make colorful changes to your home. You can create a dramatic difference and make your home reflect your family's personality. It's easier than you think, too. You just need to know where to start!

Before beginning any project the most important question to ask is: What is the end result you want in your space? Once this question has been answered its simply a matter of determining how to use what you already have, or what you still need to acquire to complete your project.

Here are some basic ideas to consider when choosing colors for your interior painting project.

Light

  1. How much natural light is available in the area? Determine the dynamics of light in the space to be color styled. Does the light come from the North, which is softer; the East, which is strongest in the morning; the South, which is more intense; or the West, which is stronger in the afternoon and evenings?
  2. Studying the cycle of light in a space and considering your lighting needs will help you determine if you should use a light, medium or dark paint color. Additional artificial lighting may be added in many ways to assist you with manipulating your lighting requirements.

This is an excellent time to think about if you would like the space to be light and airy, in which case you may wish to select a color that is lighter in value. Conversely, if you’d like a dramatic area, you may want to select a deeper wall color.

Temperature

  1. Does the area feel warm or cold? Consider how you want the room to feel when it is complete. If you want to warm up the space consider colors that come from the warmer side of the spectrum.
  2. Colors such as reds, pinks, corals, copper, yellows, golds and beiges will have a decidedly warmer feel about them. If youd like a space to be cooler, you may wish to consider colors such as greens, teals, aquas, blues, violets, and greys that will provide a cooler feeling to the area.

Existing Elements

  1. What existing decorative items need to be considered in the overall design of the area? It is critical to consider what elements you will be keeping in your design concepts, such as upholstery, floor coverings, draperies or artwork. You will need to carefully examine the colors of these items to achieve harmony of all colors in the space.

Specific Colors

We have listed seven color areas below and the general color feelings that are associated with them. Explore each one to determine what color may best suit your project. Keep in mind that the lightness, darkness, or intensity of a color all must be considered in determining the overall effect that will be presented.

  • Red is generally considered an energetic color. If you wish to design a stimulating area that motivates, promotes alertness and enhances activity, select the red color family.

    The temperature of this color is interpreted as warm or hot. Warm colors from this area of the palette, include pink, rose, magenta, cranberry, maroon, burgundy, wine, mauve, ruby and crimson which have the feeling of advancing toward us.

    The effect of this color creates vitality, encourages achievement, enhances activity, increases pulse rate, nurtures passion, promotes alertness and stimulates excitement.

  • Orange is generally considered an active color. If you wish to create an active setting that promotes movement and excitement, select the orange color family.

    The temperature of this color is interpreted as warm or hot. Warm colors from this area of the palette, include melon, clay, salmon, coral, peach, rust and copper, which have the feeling of advancing toward us.

    The effect of this color creates a fun atmosphere, encourages movement, invites friendliness, promotes a pleasurable spirit and suggests joyfulness.

  • Yellow is generally considered an innovative color. If you wish to develop a creative atmosphere which nurtures a sense of freedom, select the yellow color family.

    The temperature of this color is interpreted as warm or hot. Warm colors from this area of the palette include ochre, buttercup, cream, gold, ivory, almond and lemon, which have the feeling of advancing toward us.

    The effect of this color encourages spontaneity, inspires creativity, has a lightness of spirit, raises alertness level and suggests a feeling of serendipity.

  • Green is generally considered a calm color. If you wish to compose a color scheme that provides a relaxing ambience and incorporates the feeling of stillness, select the green color family.

    The temperature of this color is interpreted as cool or cold. It should be noted that yellow-ish greens, may be considered warmer, while cooler greens tend to be on the blue side of the spectrum. Cool colors from this are of the palette include khaki, sage, moss, lime, mint, hunter, celadon, aqua, turquoise and teal, which have the feeling of receding away from us.

    The effect of this color enhances concentration, facilitates judgment, nurtures relaxation, provides a refreshing atmosphere, renews the spirit and suggests a thoughtful essence.

  • Blue is generally considered a serene color. If you wish to provide a soothing environment which will offer a relaxing and peaceful surrounding, select the blue color family.

    The temperature of this color is interpreted as cool or cold. Cool colors from this area of the palette, include robin’s egg, azure, delft, sky, denim, wedgewood, blueberry, royal, periwinkle, cobalt, ultramarine and navy, which have the feeling of receding away from us.

    The effect of this color creates a calming spirit, combats tension, offers serenity, promotes thoughtfulness, provides introspection, has a soothing nature and supports relaxation.

  • Violet is generally considered an inspirational color. If you wish to create a sensitive environment that nurtures a sense of balance and purpose, select the violet color family.

    The temperature of this color is interpreted as cool or cold. It should be noted that some violets, which are bluer may be considered cooler, while violets that are warmer will tend to be on the red side of the spectrum. Cool colors from this area of the palette include iris, amethyst, lilac, orchid, purple, lavender and plum, which have the feeling of receding away from us.

    The effect of this color allows meditation, balances thought, expresses mystery, invites surprise, promotes elegance and has a sensitive nature.

  • Beige and grey are generally considered conservative and sophisticated colors. If you wish to create a thoughtful environment that exudes a feeling of comfort, select the color palette of beiges and greys.

    The temperature of the beige color area is interpreted as warm; while the grey color area is considered cooler. Beige colors include shades of off-white, tan, taupe, ivory, oyster, pearl, sand, bronze and brown; Grey colors include shades of white, frost, charcoal, slate, graphite, onyx, silver and stone.

    The effects of these colors suggest a comfortable attitude, imply stability and sophistication, promote a secure feeling, suggest a subtle environment and have a versatile nature.

Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on June 29th, 2016 2:12 PM

Top 10 Home Improvement Myths
                      
So you have decided to tackle a home improvement project, but like a mosquito buzzing in your ear a question lingers - Are you making the right choices when it comes to investing time and effort into improving your home? It's a valid concern because not all home improvements are created equal.

To separate fact from fiction let's take a look at the top 10 home improvement myths:

  1. Any remodeling project will add value to your home

    Not true - while many remodeling projects will add value to your home, some can be seen as a negative by future buyers. For instance, combining two smaller bedrooms to create one larger bedroom may better fit your lifestyle today, but it may cause the home to lose value in the eyes of a future buyer who needs the two separate rooms.

  2. Buying the highest quality materials attracts more buyers

    Installing the highest quality materials always seems like a wise decision, but it can backfire. For instance, using the most expensive tile in a bathroom may impress your friends, but value conscious buyers may opt for a more affordable home if you have over improved for your neighborhood.

  3. Adding square footage always adds value

    A better way to think about this statement is to insert the word useable into the sentence. Square footage in attics and basements that are finished, and by county standards considered livable, may not be attractive to a buyer if the space is sub-standard compared to the rest of the home.

  4. Colors and textures - safe and simple is better

    Keeping a home vanilla so that buyers can choose their own style and décor sounds like a safe bet, but it ignores the fact that most buyers just don't have the ability to visualize the home differently. Without splashes of color and mixtures of texture, you could lose value to other sellers that have taken the time to consult with an interior designer.

  5. Inside improvements are better than outside improvements

    Not necessarily. If a home buyer can't get past the exterior of your home because it has been neglected or doesn't offer good curb appeal, all of the work you have done on the inside may not net you any more dollars. To get the biggest bang for your remodeling buck, start from the outside and work your way in.

  6. Adding a bedroom is better than adding a bathroom

    It depends on the starting point. If you only have one or two bedrooms to start with, adding a bedroom before adding a second bath is probably a wise choice since most buyers are more attracted to a three bedroom home. On the other hand, if you already have three bedrooms and only one bath, your next investment would probably be in a new bathroom.

  7. Paint hides a multitude of sins

    Dry rot? Fungus damage? Mold problems? Carpenter ants? Termite issues? Nothing a can of paint can't fix, right? Wrong! Not only does this practice violate disclosure laws in most states, it can set you up for liability after the sale as most buyers will want you to foot the bill for these hidden issues.

  8. Converting a garage to living space is a great trade off

    Nope. A garage conversion is almost always viewed negatively by future home buyers unless you replace the lost garage with another space of equal size (but then what's the point?). If you are going to do one anyway make sure that the space can be easily converted back to a garage at the time of the sale.

  9. Doing the work yourself will save you money

    For many homeowners wiring a new lighting fixture or plumbing a new dishwasher is a no-brainer, for the rest of us it may end up costing us more later in repair costs when we have to order the work redone by a professional. Another consideration is local and state laws regarding remodeling work. In many states if you have purchased a home to remodel and resell, you must either hold a contractor's license or hire a contractor to do the work for you.

  10. Pools add value to your home

    This is only true if you live in areas where they are must have amenities. Be warned that this isn't true for most areas of the country and the idea of maintaining a pool for ten months out of the year when it can't be enjoyed won't appeal to most buyers.

Becoming an informed home owner is the first step in making wise and profitable decisions when it comes to choosing the right remodeling projects. But don't stop here. Talk to remodeling professionals, contractors, home improvement specialists, and local agents about what amenities are coveted most by home buyers in your market.

Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on May 23rd, 2016 3:05 PM

The Lazy Homeowner’s Guide to Prepping the Yard for Spring

The long-awaited arrival of spring means different things to different people: a physical and spiritual renewal, an eager farewell to that now-grungy Marmot and Canadian Goose outerwear for (hopefully) another year, a reminder that a new season of “Game of Thrones” is finally right around the corner. And for some of us, it means yard work.

So, throw out that OCD homeowner’s maintenance manual, and instead kick off the season with this installment of our Lazy Homeowner’s Guide—tricks and hacks that make springtime prep work for your yard and garden easier, faster, and cheaper.

Make a low-maintenance garden

Growing your own vegetables is time-consuming and expensive, especially if you factor in the price of your labor. I once did the calculations and figured out that a single tomato I grew had cost me $19.95! That’s some tomato.

Still, there’s plenty of satisfaction (and peace of mind) in knowing just where your veggies come from. So here’s how to make the process easier:

  • Plant veggies directly in a plastic bag of garden center soil, which is rich and weed-free. Mulch on top to hide the unsightly plastic. As long as the bag is at least quart-size, that’s plenty of growing room for most veggies, plus the plastic barrier will help retain moisture and cut down on watering. At the end of the season, dump the soil, which will help enrich your garden.
  • Save time and money watering your plants by installing drip hoses throughout your gardens. Drip hoses use far less water than sprinklers, which can be hard to regulate and require frequent moving.
  • Rather than being a slave to high-maintenance flower beds and lawns, plant ground covers such as pachysandra, which are easier to grow and demand less water, says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

 

Feed the soil

It’s a simple equation: Rich soil means healthy plants. So if you forgot to lime your garden last fall, you can quickly amend garden soil by raking in these quick-fix household items:

  • Coffee grounds: Grounds from your daily cup of joe will improve soil drainage, aeration, and water retention. Many coffee shops are happy to give you spent grounds, which you can dig into the garden beds or add to the compost pile. When your garden starts to grow, steep 2 cups of grounds in 5 cups of water and sprinkle on young plants. Make a fresh cup of java for yourself. You’ve earned it.
  • Fireplace ashes: Hardwood ashes are a good source of potash for gardens with acidic or low-potassium soil. Just make sure to spread 2 gallons per 100 square feet.
  • Eggshells: Place crumbled shells into planting holes. The calcium helps prevent tomato blossom-end rot, and the shards repel slugs and other garden pests.

 

And while composting is great for a garden, making compost is a tedious time-drain that typically takes 6 to 12 months. To speed up the process, pulverize your “brown” organic matter—branches, leaves, cardboard—in a wood chipper or shredder before adding to the pile. You’ll have rich compost in half the time.

Cut corners on lawn mowing

In the spring, it’s well worth your while to sharpen your mower blades right at the beginning of the growing season: This gives young blades of grass clean cuts that resist turf diseases, saving you time and energy in the long run reviving rough patches, says Chris Lemcke, national technical director for Weed Man USA. Also, when you mow, let clippings land on lawns; they’ll decompose and enrich the soil. If you must bag clippings, add them to your compost pile or use them to mulch flower and vegetable beds.

Eliminate weeds before they grow

The best weeds are ones that never sprout. Sabine Schoenberg, creator of This New House, tells homeowners to use a pre-emergent herbicide, which kills pernicious plants before they sprout. For areas where you plan to seed something—like your lawn, of course—seed first, then apply herbicide six weeks later (read the package label for timing, because pre-emergents vary). In those places you don’t plan to seed—like garden paths and vegetable gardens—spread herbicide then plant seedlings, which are strong enough to grow regardless.

If you miss the moment, kill young weeds by spraying them with horticultural vinegar (20% acetic acid) or carefully dousing them with boiling water. Make sure your aim is true, because both liquids can kill good plants, too. Once your wanted plants have sprouted, cover gardens with 2 to 4 inches of mulch to keep down weeds, retain moisture, and reduce water runoff. You can also lay down newspaper or old curtains in garden paths to block sunlight and prevent weeds from growing. I’ve used rolls of wallpaper I picked up cheap at yard sales.

Use these shortcuts to clean up

After many months in storage, summertime equipment can stand a thorough cleaning. Here’s how to lighten the workload:

  • To shine rusty tools, soak them in white vinegar for 24 hours, then scrub with steel wool. To keep them from rusting again, store tools in a bucket of builder’s sand. Really.
  • Clean stains on plastic patio furniture by rubbing marks with a dab of white toothpaste. To revive faded colors, polish with a small amount of petroleum jelly.
  • Clean gunky grills by heating up grates then scrubbing them with a crumpled ball of aluminum foil. Or, remove the top rack and place the grills directly in your dishwasher.

 

Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Landscaping tips
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on March 21st, 2016 4:42 PM

Modern Homes, Faster Fires: 10 Ways To Fireproof Your New Place

By Jill Russell | January 27, 2016

Follow these tips to help minimize your home's fire risk.

 

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From updating dodgy wiring to fire-resistant siding materials, here’s what to do to keep your home safe.

Every year, home fires kill more than 2,500 people and injure another 12,600 (to the tune of an estimated $7.3 billion in property lost!), according to the Department of Homeland Security. And some recent reports note that newer homes, and the furniture in them, ignite faster, due to an abundance of synthetic materials — in everything from carpet backing to upholstery stuffing. (Open floor plans could play a role in fires spreading more quickly too.)

The good news? Fires can be prevented with precautions and fire safety measures, whether you’re looking at homes for sale in Santa Fe, NM, or shopping around for a condo in New York, NY. Here’s what to look out for in your new home, plus steps you can take to minimize fire risk once you move in.

1. Don’t forget the extinguishers

Let’s start with the obvious: Fire extinguishers are an essential defense. When you’re moving in and outfitting your new home, extinguishers may not be on the top of your list, but they should be. Household extinguishers are classified as A, B, or C. The rating denotes what type of fire they work best on — trash/wood/paper (A), flammable liquids (B), or electrical equipment (C). Many home extinguishers are rated all three, and the main distinction is size; choose one that is easiest for you to maneuver. Experiment with using a larger extinguisher so that you’ll be comfortable wielding it in the event of a fire.

To be as safe as possible, you should have one extinguisher in an easy-to-grab spot on every floor. At the very least, have one in the kitchen, where fires are most likely to start, and one in the garage, where flammable materials like oil and gas are kept. Then make note of the expiration dates on all extinguishers and replace or refill them regularly.

2. Confirm smoke alarm installation

In terms of early warnings of fire, a smoke detector alarm is the most critical tool. Laws vary by state, but most newly constructed homes (generally built after 1994) must have hard-wired smoke detectors throughout (battery-operated detectors are permissible for older homes). If you have questions, double-check with your builder or city fire marshal.

Both hard-wired and battery-operated detectors should be tested at least twice a year to make sure the alarms are functional (and the batteries don’t need to be replaced). One easy way to remember? Check your detectors every time you change the clocks for daylight saving time.

3. Check all wiring

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), about 48% of home electrical fires involve “electrical distribution or lighting equipment.” No doubt, wiring is an important consideration before buying a home. Whether your home is very old, has been recently renovated, or is new construction, it’s never a bad idea to hire a licensed electrician to check all wiring and outlets just to make sure there’s no chance of overload or sparking (preferably before your closing date!). Also check for animal damage outside and around the house — mice and other rodents often chew on electrical insulation. Damaged wires are a fire hazard and need to be replaced.

4. Keep your fireplace clean (and safe)

There’s nothing better than cozying up to a toasty fire, especially in colder climates, but fireplaces require some know-how. Burning wood creates creosote, which over time builds on the lining of the chimney and can become a fire hazard. Once you move in, get in the habit of scheduling an annual appointment for a chimney cleaning.

Don’t assume you’re safer with a gas fireplace, though. Gas fireplaces are not free from hazards: Those glass coverings can heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and pose a major burn risk for toddlers or pets. If you decide to go with gas, make sure to invest in a screen barrier to go on the outside of the glass. And if it’s not properly maintained, a gas fireplace can be susceptible to explosions or sudden fires if there is a gas leak or malfunction — so be sure to get it checked annually, preferably by a technician whose company sells the brand you have.

5. Take care with space heaters

In those rooms or areas of the home that just don’t seem to warm up, a space heater can be a cozy option — but safety precautions are especially important here; the NFPA attributes one-third of all home heating fires to them. Get an updated model with fire safety features (like a thermostat auto-shut-off feature) and keep it out of the path of kids, pets, and flammable materials.

6. Mind the dryer (and lint trap)

The laundry room should be part of every fire safety inspection. Check that the dryer has a functioning, connected exhaust vent that’s in good shape and not crushed or restricted. And then there’s the lint trap. A clogged one can cause the dryer to overheat and catch fire, so make sure you clean it out after every load.

7. Use more natural materials

Homes constructed many years ago primarily used natural building materials such as wood, plant fiber, metal, and cotton fabric. New-construction homes incorporate more plastic into their building materials and furnishings, and unfortunately, plastic burns more readily and at a higher temperature than natural materials. While it’s not practical, possible, or even sensible to replace all of the potentially flammable building materials in your home, you can choose your decor and furniture — and that can make a big difference in a fire. If possible, try to limit the amount of plastic and synthetic fibers you bring into your home by purchasing wood furniture, cotton drapes and shower curtains, and carpets that meet federal safety guidelines for flammability.

8. Landscape smart

If you’re moving into a newly constructed home, you have a clean slate for landscaping; keep safety in mind when planting. The area around your home should be clear of dead grass and leaves (in California, where wildfires are common, local laws mandate a 100-foot clearance). It’s also good practice to trim branches that hang too low or too close to the home, and choose “fire-wise” plants.

9. Put a safe roof over your head

When looking for a new home or updating an older one, don’t forget the roof. Recommended noncombustible materials for exterior roofing include slate, concrete tile, metal, and fiberglass. If you’re building, consider fire safety in your material selection: Roofing materials such as asphalt shingles and wood shakes are less resistant to fire than the aforementioned materials. If you live in an area where wildfires occur, it’s extremely important to have a fire-resistant roof: Burning debris buoyed by heated air and wind can easily land on your house. Don’t give it the opportunity to ignite.

10. Inspect windows and walls

Windows and walls can be key in protecting your home from fire (again, especially if you live in a wildfire-prone area). Most experts recommend fire-resistant house siding material made of brick, plaster, or stucco, and tempered or double-paned glass. Once you’ve moved in, repair or replace any damaged or loose windows and screens too.

And one last tip: Talk to your insurance agent about any fireproofing you do — it might lower your premium so you can recoup some of the costs.

Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Fireproofing tips
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on February 25th, 2016 10:58 AM

ay not cover

  • 9 accidents homeowners insurance may not cover

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Have you read your most current homeowners insurance policy, or did you pay the premium and stash the paperwork for future reference?

If you think your policy protects you from every home-related loss, you may sadly discover when you try to file a claim that your policy doesn't cover everything you thought it would. Even more distressing, your policy may not protect you if your insurance company determines that your loss resulted from failing to properly maintain your home.

Knowing before disaster strikes which losses your insurance covers -- and which ones it doesn't -- provides you with more helpful options:

o  You can take preventive measures to avoid damage or loss from homeowner negligence.

o  If available, you can pay extra to purchase protection for certain losses that a standard policy doesn't cover or doesn't cover adequately for your circumstances.

 

  • What homeowners insurance does cover

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Homeowners insurance: standard coverage

First things first -- here's what you can expect your insurance to cover. If yours is a "Named Perils" policy, it lists the specific perils covered. Open Perils policies list those risks that are excluded. Standard insurance policies -- Basic form (HO-1), Broad form (HO-2) and Special form (HO-3) -- cover sudden damage to your dwelling and its contents caused by these common perils:

o  Fire and lightning

o  Smoke

o  Explosions

o  Riots or civil disturbances

o  Vandalism/malicious mischief

o  Theft

o  Vehicles/Aircraft

o  Erupting volcanoes

o  Windstorms and hail

Unless specifically excluded, the Broad and Special form policies also cover loss to the dwelling and its contents from the following:

o  Falling objects -- everything from trees to space debris

o  Heavy ice, snow and sleet

o  Leaking pipes caused by accidental cracking, bursting or freezing

So what does that mean for what homeowners insurance doesn't cover?

  • Does homeowners insurance cover flooding?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Floods. Homeowners insurance never covers floods, so if you live in a flood zone, you may be required to purchase separate flood insurance. Don't expect to get reimbursed either for wet basements unrelated to flood waters. Improper grading is typically the cause for water to flow toward the house instead of away from it, in which case, you're responsible for maintaining the grading.

 

  • Does homeowners insurance cover windstorms?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Windstorms. In most places, damage from tornadoes, hurricanes, and high winds is covered up to the limits you choose for your policy, but there are notable exceptions. Your home may not be eligible for a standard policy because of its age or condition. In some states, you're required to pay a separate deductible for damage from windstorms, and in areas prone to heavy windstorms such as the Midwest and coastal Florida your policy may exclude coverage entirely. You may have to purchase a separate policy or an endorsement for windstorm damage. Protecting your home with wind-resistant roofing and replacement windows may be some of the best protection in wind-prone areas -- and may also qualify you for a discount on your premium.

 

  • Does homeowners insurance cover earthquakes?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Earthquake. Your standard policy does not cover damages or loss if the earth moves -- unless it causes a fire that results in damage or loss. You must purchase a separate earthquake policy or endorsement from your insurer to cover other types of damage or loss to the structure or its contents in the event of an earthquake. In California you also have the option of purchasing earthquake insurance from the California Earthquake Authority.

 

  • Does homeowners insurance cover sinkholes?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Sinkholes. In Florida, sinkholes can open up under your house -- and in the case of one unfortunate homeowner, swallow you up. Florida insurers must offer additional coverage for "catastrophic ground cover collapse" at an increased premium.

 

  • Does home insurance cover foundation issues?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Foundation cracks. Unless it's a direct result of one of your covered perils, your insurer considers structural damage your responsibility. Take steps to maintain the ground and grading around your home's foundation. Something as easily avoided as a clogged gutter or downspout could be the cause of serious foundation problems that can eventually affect your entire house.

 

  • Does homeowners insurance cover nuclear accidents?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Nuclear power plant accidents. No homeowners policy protects against nuclear accidents; however, nuclear plants by law must carry liability insurance that covers homeowner losses, including living expenses if your home is uninhabitable, property damage, and illness.

 

  • Does homeowners insurance cover acts of war?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

War. NBCR attacks -- nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological -- are considered uninsurable and excluded from coverage, even without a formal declaration of war. Damage or loss from acts of terrorism, however, can fall under the category of civil disturbances, explosions, and/or smoke, which are covered by standard homeowners policies.

 

  • Does homeowners insurance cover mold damage?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Mold and other damage from leaks. Most policies protect you if a pipe bursts in your house and your home has water damage as a result. They also cover you if a tree, a piece of an aircraft, or a meteor falls on your house, and if heavy snow, ice, or hail cause your roof to spring a leak. In those instances you're expected to stem the damage in a timely manner, but at least you're covered. On the other hand, if your pipe bursts and it's been leaking long enough to cause extensive mold, rot, damaged ceilings, walls, and floors, don't expect the insurance to cover it.

 

  • Does homeowners insurance cover sewage issues?

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 18, 2016

Sewer or drain backup. Did you think that your old sewer pipe was the city's responsibility? Unfortunately, it's yours. Causes of sewer backups include roots growing through the pipe, sewer systems that combine storm runoff and raw sewage, and blockages in the city main. Even if you have a sump pump, it may not be able to handle the run off. If you want to be safe rather than sorry, you can take a number of measures to prevent sewer backup, as well as purchase additional coverage for around $40-$50.

The expense of additional policies or premiums can really add up; the average cost of homeowners insurance nationwide is $1,034, according to figures compiled in 2015 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). That may seem like a lot, but if you can't afford to replace your home or its contents in the event of a catastrophe, take steps to make sure you are adequately protected.

Posted in:Home Owner Tips and tagged: Home Insurance
Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on February 20th, 2016 11:50 AM

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