6 Home Renovations that Return the Most at Resale



The inaugural Remodeling Impact Report examines 20 home renovation projects, analyzing what they potentially return at resale. The report comes courtesy of the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, or NARI.

“In the past, NARI data suggested that a complete kitchen remodel could recoup 75% to 80% (at resale),” says Steve Carasso, director of marketing and communications for NARI. But this report pegged the resale return at 67%, he adds. That means kitchens didn’t make the top 6. Neither did bathroom remodels.

Here are the top 6 home improvements, ranked (from lowest to highest) by which renovation returns the highest percentage of your investment.

New Vinyl Siding
Replacing old siding with new vinyl siding costs about $12,000 on average. At resale, homeowners get back about 83% of what they spend.

While it’s something that can improve the home’s appearance, it’s probably not the kind of thing you’d do just before putting the home on the market—unless it’s damaged, of course. If it’s just dirty, a good power washing is all you need.

New Garage Doors
For many street-facing homes, a garage door is the “nose on the face of your home,” says David Pekel, national treasurer for NARI and the president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Pekel Construction & Remodeling.

A new garage door “has traditionally ranked as one of the highest returns on investment,” he says.

The cost averages $2,300 and returns about 87% at resale, Homeowners are opting for natural wood, doors with more windows, and carriage-style doors, which are currently trending.

New Wood Floors
Installing wood floors will get you most of that expense back when you sell, according to the remodelers’ report. The average cost of installing new floors is about $5,500. Homeowners recoup about 91%.

Recently, some wood flooring has been plagued by controversy over high formaldehyde levels and off-gassing. If you can, opt for hardwood over engineered products, some of which contain formaldehyde. If you prefer engineered wood, ask a lot of questions, and find a knowledgable, competent pro who can tell you what’s in various options.

Insulation Upgrade
No one comes out of an open house excited about the insulation. But an insulation upgrade does add value. On average, it will cost about $2,100, and homeowners can recoup about 95% at resale. Many homes are now being evaluated by energy efficiency as a matter of routine.

Refinish Hardwood Floors
Want to get back all of your home renovation dollars? Refinish those hardwood floors.

Refinishing costs an average of $2,500 and that’s about what it adds to home value, the study finds.

New Roof
Among home renovations that return the most, replacing the roof tops the list.

A new roof will set the average homeowner back about $7,600. But on average, homeowners recoup more than that —about $8,000. That’s a 105% gain.

It’s the only renovation project in the report that returned more than it cost. But, as anyone who’s been through it will tell you, there are plenty of easier ways to make $400.

Article courtesy of BankRate.com

Carpet vs. Wood Flooring: Should you Update Old Flooring when Selling?


What type of flooring provides the best ROI (return on investment) when selling your home?

Sanding and refinishing your existing hardwood floors is almost always your best investment.
If you have hardwood floors, great—hardwood sells and gives value to your home. If you have hardwood floors that are beaten up, your first consideration should be to refinish them. Most real estate agents anecdotally report that you will get your investment back threefold on this.
With refinishing hardwoods, you have the option of changing the color. Lighter colors make the space look larger and more airy and informal; darker colors are more dramatic and give the home a more formal and sophisticated look. Satin finish is usually the preferred sheen and tends to show the scratches less than a semi-gloss finish.
If you have hardwood underneath your carpet, by all means, rip up those carpets and refinish the hardwood…you have just found a gold mine. Hardwood sells; very few customers want carpet.

Add hardwood flooring to key rooms, if you can afford it.
Most homeowners strongly prefer hardwood for the main living space, common areas and the master bedroom. If you have hardwood in those areas, you are set; if you don’t, you may want to consider investing in hardwood for those areas. You will definitely get back that return on investment—probably at least twofold.

If your carpets are dirty, it’s best to replace them.  
Replacing the carpeting will not improve your selling value; rather, it will allow you to capture the potential selling price of your home. It will sell faster, appeal to more buyers; or said differently, it will prevent buyers from being turned off by your home. You will most likely just break even with this investment.

Kitchens are tricky and it’s best to consult your agent for opinions.  
We have all heard that kitchens and bathrooms sell. However, kitchens are usually the most expensive area of the home, and a full kitchen remodel will only give you about a 70% return on your investment. This is why it’s usually better to invest in your kitchen if you are planning to stay put for a while.
If your kitchen is out of date, however, you should consider your options. Sometimes it is not worth doing anything because the next homeowner will completely gut and redo the whole kitchen. So why invest more money? Other times, it is worth it to make some minor enhancements to either eliminate an eyesore or bring it up to an acceptable level.

What’s Your Home Worth? Get an instant estimate!


Are you curious about the value of your home if you listed it for sale today? Want to know the sales price of homes in your neighborhood? At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, we have a great resource for you.

Our website has a home valuation tool that allows you to instantly see the estimated value of your home from Zillow plus two leading real estate industry data modeling systems. To take into account any unique features or recent updates, you may fine-tune the property features for a more accurate estimate. When you’re ready for a more in-depth estimate, one of our agents would be happy to prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) to review neighborhood trends, current and past sales and factor in the overall condition of your home.

Please visit www.bhhsnw.com and take advantage of this powerful resource to help you keep tabs on the value of your investment!


10 Tips to Add Yard Privacy



Privacy is at a premium these days, and it is not just about prying eyes invading your space—you may want to shield your own view of your sunbathing neighbors and block out their chatter.

Here are 10 tips to add more privacy to your yard:

Raised Beds

Give your favorite plants better view-blocking power by growing them in raised beds or berms. It puts medium-size plants at eye level.

Create a Secluded Corner Pocket
Take one corner of your yard and transform it into a secluded getaway. A simple way to do this is to carefully place a couple of trees to form a pocket.

Use Lattice
Do you feel a little claustrophobic at the thought of fencing your yard? Try lattice. It’s an ideal way to add privacy and enclosure without closing off your yard too much.

Look for Interesting Materials
Build a fence from out-of-the-ordinary materials or decorate a fence with architectural detailing.

Plant a Tree
A single tree can be an effective and inexpensive way to block a view. It shields the yard and creates a focal point.

Use a Hedge
Enjoy a wall of green by planting a hedge. Look for evergreen varieties to provide year-round screening or try types that lose their leaves in winter but make up for it by putting on a show with attractive flowers or a blaze of fall color.

Reach Up
Vines are like the swiss army knife of the gardening world—there are so many ways you can use them. Plant a climber to cover a fence, dress up a wall, over a pergola, or travel wires to create a screen in any direction.

Use Containers
Big, bold container gardens are ideal for creating privacy, especially if you have a small space such as a deck or patio. You can find containers and plants to fit any landscape style.

Decorate a Fence
Let’s be honest: Fences can look dull and cold. But they’re easy to dress up with a border of easy-care annuals, perennials, or shrubs. And extra-tall perennials that rise above the fence provide additional screening.

Keep It Simple
There’s no rule saying a fence has to run the length or perimeter of your yard. Put a panel or two just where you need it. It’s a great way to save money.



This Week in Real Estate: May 31, 2016

Analysis of April results were reported This Week in Real Estate finding new home sales, pending home sales and prices registered significant increases. Below are a few highlights from the fourth week of May that influence our business:

* Pending Home Sales Surge to 10-Year High. Pending home sales reached their highest level in over a decade in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. All major regions saw gains in contract activity last month except for the Midwest, which saw a meager decline. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, hiked up 5.1 percent to 116.3 in April from an upwardly revised 110.7 in March and is now 4.6 percent above April 2015 (111.2). After last month’s gain, the index has now increased year-over-year for 20 consecutive months. Following the housing market’s best first quarter of existing-sales since 2007 and a decent increase in April, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects sales this year to climb above earlier estimates and be around 5.41 million, a 3 percent boost from 2015. The PHSI in the West soared 11.4 percent in April to 106.2, and is now 2.8 percent above a year ago.
Full Story…  http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2016/05/pending-home-sales-lift-off-in-april-to-over-10-year-high

* New Home Sales Roar Back, Crushing Forecasts With a 619,000 Annual Pace in April. Sales of new homes surged in April, a sign that builders are stepping up as demand for housing remains robust. Sales soared 16.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 619,000 the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was the biggest monthly jump in 24 years and trounced estimates of a 525,000 pace. The median price also jumped, rising 9.7% from 12 months ago to $321,100. Sales so far in 2016 have averaged a 553,500 annual pace, 10% higher than the 503,000 notched in 2015. Regional performance was mixed, from a 52.8% surge in the Northeast to a 4.8% decline in the Midwest. The south saw a 15.8% increase, while in the West sales were up 18.8%.
Full Story…  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-home-sales-roar-back-crushing-forecasts-with-a-619000-annual-pace-in-april-2016-05-24

* Home Prices Heat Up In Sun Belt, Pacific Northwest. Home prices rose 5.7% in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago, driven by growth in areas battered by the housing bust and in the hard-charging economies of the Northwest. It was the 19th quarter of price increases for the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s index, which tracks purchases of homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Prices were up in all states and the District of Columbia in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago, but there was a big gap between the biggest price appreciations and the lowest. Oregon (11.77%) and Washington (10.93%) respectively rank #1 and #3 in the country in year-over-year price appreciation. Seattle (15.39%) and Portland (13.69%) respectively rank #2 and #4 among all metro areas in the country in year-over-year price appreciation.
Full Story…   http://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-prices-heat-up-in-sun-belt-pacific-northwest-2016-05-25

* Foreclosure Starts Hit 10-Year Low. There were fewer foreclosure proceedings initiated during the month of April than in any month in the last 10 years, a new report from Black Knight Financial Services shows. According to Black Knight’s “First Look” at April’s mortgage performance data, there were 58,700 foreclosure starts in April 2016, which is the lowest number of foreclosure starts since April 2006. Black Knight’s report showed that foreclosure starts declined by 19.37% from March to April. Foreclosure starts were also down 16.62% from April 2015.
Full Story…  http://www.housingwire.com/articles/37105-black-knight-foreclosure-starts-hit-10-year-low?eid=322520585&bid=1413888

Have a productive week!


15 Design Features that Sell Homes



Over 2 million listings were screened (sold between 2014–2016), with keywords pulled for the home features that greatly influenced short listing times and above-average sale prices.

Here are the top 15 design features:
Heated floors
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.3%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 28
Craftsman-style home
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 5.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 14
Outdoor kitchen
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 3.7%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 19
Tankless water heater
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 43
Kitchen backsplash
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 46
Granite countertops
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Stainless steel
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.2%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 42
Frameless shower
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Pendant lights
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 48
Exposed brick
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 36
Quartz countertops
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.0%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 50
Subway tiles
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 63
Shaker cabinets
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 9.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 45
Farmhouse sink
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 7.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 58
Barn-style doors
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 13.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 57






Top Interior Design Trends for 2016



The modern home is always evolving. And to get an idea of what it’s evolving to, look no further than what’s happening within its walls today. Here are 10 of the top design trends for 2016.

1) Two-tone kitchen cabinets. Keep upper cabinets white or neutral for a clean, timeless feel, then go crazy with the lower cabinets by playing with various wood tones and deeper colors to take your kitchen in two different style directions.

2) Living rooms that ditch the tech for family. With so much screen time throughout the day and night, homeowners are looking for a calm respite where they can read a book, chat with friends and family or just sit quietly. Thus, the rise of living rooms devoid of digital distraction.

3) Niche appliances. Looking for a little added luxury in the kitchen? Steam ovens (shown here) promise to cook food more thoroughly and healthily than microwaves; warming drawers give cooks a little wiggle room to deliver hot meals to family and guests; induction cooktops save space and are safer for homes with young kids; and kimchi refrigerators offer fans of the popular Korean condiment a chance to make their own at home.

4) Bidets. The separate bidet unit in bathrooms never really took off in America. But since manufacturers began creating combination bidet and toilet units, like the Toto version shown here, they’ve been catching on. According to Houzz data, 5 percent of renovated master bathrooms now include bidets.

5) Heated entryway floors. Sure, heated floors are popular in bathrooms, but if you live in a cold region, consider putting them in your entryway to help melt snow and dry boots.

3d rendering of the modern bathroom6) Statement mirrors in bathrooms. So long, medicine cabinets. Hello, statement mirrors. Think large wood-framed beauties, backlit modern marvels and ornate vintage gems that boost style in a bathroom.

7) Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces. Graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces turn sterile spaces into ones that feel a lot more like home.

8) Fireplaces and fire features. New advances mean you can have all the ambiance without the smell, pollution or hassle of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. Plus, fireplaces are making a comeback as living room focal points in lieu of the dark void of a TV screen.

9) Farmhouse entryways. Stripping away the need for fancy flourishes or decor for decor’s sake, farmhouse style gets at the root of function. That’s why the style makes sense for mudrooms, where simplicity in storage and durability in materials are paramount.

StainlessSteel10) Colored stainless steel appliances. Black stainless steel is making a buzz on Houzz. In a poll, nearly two-thirds of Houzzers say they would consider the dark alternative to shiny silver metal. (Shown here is LG’s new Black Stainless collection.) Not into the darkness? Head to the light with Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze finish.

Article courtesy of Houzz.com.

Appeal to Male Buyers: Enticing Staging Tips

Professional stagers consult with homeowners to sell their homes quickly and for the most money possible. They consider buying psychology, design elements and lighting. Often lost in the process, however, is the fact that those with masculine tastes are also involved in the buying decision.

Learn how to make your home universally appealing to buyers with both feminine and masculine design preferences, and increase the odds of making a sale.

Personal space: Real estate agents report that the average male tends to gravitate towards rooms with gadgets and electronics. They often appreciate open spaces and high ceilings—clean, streamlined rooms that one can easily walk through without obstructions.

Cater to interests: Masculine doesn’t mean fancy or frilly. Think about enhancing niches to watch the big game with buddies or relax after work. Modern Home Theater Room Interior with Flat Screen TV angled perspective view

Simplified color scheme: Don’t overwhelm any potential buyer with wild colors or furniture, even if you feel it makes your home special. Warm interior tones are generally preferred over cool tones.

The yard: A lawn that is well-maintained can really help boost your home’s appeal along with thick, healthy grass, minimal bushes to trim and easy-to-maintain flower beds.

GarageWorkBenchToolsGarage envy: Think about painted walls, clean floors and enough storage for various hobbies. A built-in workbench, organized shelving as well as clean, spacious areas for tools, equipment and maintenance supplies are a great draw.

Staging your home to visually appeal to men as well as women will ensure a better joint response from potential buyers.

The Hidden Costs of Homeownership

If you’ve never owned your own property before, there are some costs you should prepare yourself for ahead of time. Should you take out a mortgage, you’ll have your monthly mortgage payment, but often there are additional costs and fees added that a new homeowner will not expect. Listed below are items you should expect to pay once you become a homeowner.

Property Taxes

When you rent, you are not responsible for the property taxes on the property. But when you become a homeowner, you’re expected to pay yearly property taxes, of which go to public works, wages for government workers or public school boards. Based on the current value of your home, property taxes are assessed every year and will likely change to reflect an increase (or decrease) in your home’s value. Property taxes can be paid at one time, or they can be divided into 12 payments over the course of a year and added to your mortgage payment. When you’re trying to determine what your mortgage payment will be each month, don’t forget to factor in property taxes.

Girl painting homeHome Maintenance

When you live in a rental property, most maintenance is performed by the landlord or a property manager. When you become a homeowner, those maintenance costs fall upon you. When you purchase a home, all maintenance items should be considered when it comes to your overall budget. Will you want to replace all the appliances? Will the property need new windows or a new roof? Does the home need basic upgrades? Most people in the industry suggest you allocate 1% of your home’s worth for maintenance costs every year, but the reality is that 1% is likely the minimum – you should plan on more than 1% maintenance costs each year as a homeowner, and if you plan on any larger renovations, bet on the costs to be even higher.

Mortgage Insurance

Most people, when they buy a home or property, are able to do so by taking out a mortgage loan. If you put less than 20% of the cost of your property down, you’re required to have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI protects lenders if the borrower defaults on their loan. PMI is charged annually, and it will typically cost 0.5% to 1% of the entire loan amount. The payments are generally paid each month rather than in a large one-time payment. If you plan on taking out a mortgage loan, and you don’t have 20% to put down, expect to add private mortgage insurance payments to your other monthly bills.

Supplemental Insurance

Do you live in an area prone to natural disaster? As a homeowner you’ll need to have regular home insurance to protect your home or property from typical things (plumbing issues, roof leaks, etc.) that homeowners encounter. Should you live in an area that’s prone to weather-related issues (floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes) you will want to purchase supplemental insurance to make sure your home is covered should nature decide to show herself.

landscaping and lawn careLandscaping and Lawn Care

When you rent a condo or an apartment, it’s highly likely you are not spending a lot of time outside in a yard. When you buy your own property (should it have a yard or some kind of outdoor area), expect some hidden costs to come in the form of lawn care. Does the yard need some major landscaping? Are you going to mow it yourself, or will you hire a company to do it? Do you have a lawn mower, rakes, snow or leaf blower, yard tools, shed, and any other items needed to keep your yard looking great year-round? A yard comes with extra costs, so be sure to know how much you want to spend on upkeep per year.

HOA Fees

If you’ve been renting your previous residence, it’s likely you haven’t had to pay Homeowners Association (HOA) fees for your apartment or rental. Should you buy a house, condo or townhouse in a neighborhood with common areas, a clubhouse, pool, or any other kind of community meeting places, it’s likely you’ll move into a neighborhood with an HOA. HOA fees can vary in terms of what the HOA covers within the community, but unless you know through your Realtor or through the homeowner the monthly fee, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars per month on HOA fees.
Buying your first home or property is a huge step in anyone’s life. Before you start your property search, make sure you consider all of the items above when you’re thinking of buying a home or property and during your property search.

Interested in home ownership, but can’t get financing? Or do you prefer to rent a little longer?

A lease with a right to purchase program may be a good option for you. We’ve teamed up with Home Partners of America (HPA) to help you get into the home of your dreams without having to qualify for more than a rent payment.Turn your rent into mortgage

You choose a home in the Portland metro area, and we work with Home Partners of America to purchase the home.

HPA buys it and leases the home to you on a one year lease with a guaranteed purchase price. You have the option to buy or renew the lease, taking up to five years to get financing and complete the purchase — all while enjoying your new home.

Qualifying single family homes must be in approved school districts, be priced between $100,000 and $550,000 and meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify. Ask a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate professional for details or use the Home Partners Address Checker to see if a home not listed on the website is in an approved area.

Review this list of frequently asked questions and apply online at www.HomePartners.com.

©2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently operated subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and a franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity.