Real Estate Tips

5 DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Doing it yourself is a great way to save money. Home improvements and repairs can be costly, and any contractor you hire to do the job will mark-up prices on materials and labor. Some will also charge for an estimate, although that is rare these days. So, with that in mind, and with the Internet being such a vast resource of free information, it’s very easy to be tempted to do a lot of these expensive jobs yourself. However, you can soon find yourself out of your depth and spending even more money than the initial job would have cost to correct your own mistakes. Here is a list of jobs that you should think twice about attempting: 1. Tree Removal – If it’s a large tree, you need to know exactly how to make it fall in the right direction. If you do manage to plan it correctly, and it falls just where you want, you now have a stump to remove. A huge, heavy stump with a root system that could spread 20 to 40 feet. After all that heaving and pulling, probably with a truck, you now have a very heavy stump to haul away, plus the rest of the tree. Hire a tree service; they do this daily and they’re reasonably priced. 2. Major Plumbing or Electrical Work – If you have a blocked toilet or a leaky faucet, don’t pay big money on a contractor, installing a new ceiling fan or light is no big deal either. But when it comes to anything that involves rerouting pipe work or significant rewiring, don’t save a buck and do it yourself. This requires the work of professionals, it’s not worth the risk. 3. Installing New Windows – When you consider you are literally cutting a huge hole in the side of your house and have to make sure it is safe and watertight, is it worth saving the money? Even a small mistake could result in serious damage to your home and the contents. Hire a contractor. 4. Gutter Repair or Replacement – At first glance, it seems easy enough. But consider this — the guttering system is directly linked to the roof, and it is virtually impossible to repair it without impacting that roof. Save yourself the headache and the risk of injury to yourself and damage to the roof. Call the pros. 5. Attic Insulation – Just throwing a bit of insulation in the attic? No worries. Well, think again. If you don’t know which type of insulation to use, how much to use, and where to put it, you can actually create new problems. These include improper ventilation, home overheating, and even wood rot from moisture buildup. And if you don’t watch your step, you could come right through the ceiling. I would recommend a professional service.

Landscaping Affects House Values

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Landscaping can often enhance price and reduce a home’s time on the market. The question to consider: Is the landscaping attractive enough to make the prospective buyer walk through the front door? Landscaping is typically associated with lawns, trees, bushes and flowers. But other items also can be considered part of landscaping, such as fire pits, decks, patios, waterfalls, swimming pools and outdoor lighting … all of which could add to the value of the home. Curb appeal is essential when selling a home, it is the homeowner’s opportunity to make a great first impression. A home with lackluster landscaping or an exterior in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint will likely be unappealing to prospective buyers and ultimately could affect the home’s potential resale value. Homeowners should keep the design contemporary and in line with comparable properties in the area. Trim growth regularly, replant approximately every 5 to 10 years depending on growth and not “overwhelm” the house. Landscaping improvements could make an impact on resale value, and homeowners need to consider how long they’ll be in the home and whether to make short-term updates or plan for the long haul.

Affordability Remains High in Sellers Market

Blog, Market Updates, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Housing affordability remains high despite recent reports that show home prices saw their biggest year-over-year gains in more than seven years, according to NAR’s most recent report, reflecting data from the first quarter of 2013. The NAR’s quarterly reports on median pricing are a good measure of where prices in certain markets are headed generally, but their results can sometimes overstate the magnitude of price gains. “The supply/demand balance is clearly tilted toward sellers in a good portion of the country,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, in a statement. Low mortgage rates and stabilizing incomes are keeping home affordability high and giving home buyers ample buying power. Still, credit remains tight for some buyers, especially those with damaged credit scores and those who are not able to save enough for a large down payment. Prices have also risen in large part because inventories of homes for sale have plummeted. Low inventories in some markets have sparked bidding wars among buyers.

Today’s Housing Cycle

Blog, Buying, Market Updates, Real Estate News, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Only a year ago all the conversation was doom and gloom. Next we hear about the reviving housing market with talk of “green shoots”. Now it has become apparent that the real estate market is in a full upswing, with a rebound of 20% since the bottom of the downturn. However lately I have begun to hear talk of a housing bubble. Really, a housing bubble? Today’s market is driven by a shortage of supply, pent up demand and low interest rates. Not the abundant listings and lax lending standards as before. Lending standard remain stringent, and in the future the lack of easy money will act to temper any fever that may develop as prices rise. We tend to forget that real estate is cyclical. The market goes up and the market goes down. Right now the market is going up and should continue for several more years. Exactly how long is anybody’s guess.

The Psychology of Color at Home

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Color plays a huge role in any home. It can make a room feel warm and inviting or cold and stale depending the shade. While each homeowners personal tastes will effect the color scheme of any home, there are some psychological influences that should cause us to think about that next room painting project. What colors are right for you and why? And how we subconsciously react to them. Did you know blue is the best color for a study? Why? Because psychologically it’s the color that makes us the most productive. The infographic below from Painters of Louisville is really interesting. It breaks down the best colors for your state of mind in each room at home, but also gives you some background into how each color makes our minds react. Click here to see the full size infographic and find out which rooms you’ll soon need to repaint because they’re causing psychological problems…or not.

Home Appraisers Looking for the Equity

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Appraisers are the eyes into the local markets and the backbone of the real estate industy. We recommend staying engaged and understand their vision of the marketplace.”Slightly over half of appraisers in a recent survey expressed a degree of confidence in the housing market and nearly half reported appreciating home values in their markets. Appraisers tend to be realistic, focused on their local markets and unmoved by news stories and national numbers, they provide a good gauge of the status of the housing market. Opinions were slightly rosier regarding home values. Some 46.2 percent reported a mild increase in values in their area. Some 15.6 percent were seeing a moderate value increase, while 24 percent were neutral. Despite somewhat tepid feelings on the market in general, most appraisers reported increased order volume: 26.1 percent saw mild increases, 17.8 percent saw moderate increases and 18.5 percent reported significant volume increases. Only 15.3 percent of respondents reported any reduction in their order volume.

Easy Ways To Green Your Home

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
More home owners and buyers are ranking energy-efficient and environmentally friendly home features high in surveys.

  • Swap out the light bulbs: LED light bulbs are known as being 80 percent more energy efficient and lasting as much as 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
  • Have a programmable thermostat: These devices that allow you more easily to adjust the temperature can save a home owner about $180 a year in energy costs, according to Energy Star.
  • Trade in the old water heater: A heat pump hot water heater is known to be more than twice as efficient as standard electric resistance tanks, according to the AOL Real Estate article.
  • Add aerators to faucets and showerheads: These devices can limit the amount of water that is used.
  • Add ceiling fans: “Energy Star-qualified fans are 50 percent more efficient than conventional units and can save up to $15 per year on utility bills,” according to AOL Real Estate.
  • Use Energy Star appliances: For example, replacing a dishwasher that was made before 1994 with an Energy Star-certified one can save $40 on utility bills by using less water. Energy Star-rated refrigerators can save home owners from $200 to $1,100 over the life of the appliance.

Husbands Get Ready For Spring Cleaning

Blog, Design Tips, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
Husbands, that day is coming. A sunny Saturday morning and your wife will turn to you and say, “I think we need to do some spring cleaning today.” Home improvement stores depict spring as a joyous occasion, the truth is no one truly enjoys the annual spring cleaning of your home. And most of the time, husbands aren’t prepared for this undertaking either. Well, it’s about time you got prepared. Here’s our list of things husbands will need: 1. A Full Tank of Gas – So you’re ready for wherever your spring cleaning travels may take you. On any given Saturday you might be asked to make 14 runs to your local hardware store for supplies, tools, and things that you did not even know existed. 2. A Shop Vac – If you already have one, you know how useful it is. If you don’t, you desperately need one. Why? Because it can suck up anything. Leaves, dirt, small rodents, you name it and a good shop vac will take care of it. 3. An Entertainment App – Pop in some earbuds and you’ll soon find that the hours spent sweating in the garage are passing sooner than you expected. A subscription to Spotify or the MLB At Bat app or so you’ll have a new form of entertainment to keep you occupied while you labor away at home. 4. OpenTable App – What on earth does this have to do with spring cleaning? Let’s say you get the dreaded statement that today is the day for a full on cleaning of the house. You can simply say, “Oh really? I was going to surprise you and take you to dinner tonight.” You’ve just set an end time for your spring cleaning schedule. Get the OpenTable app on your smartphone so you can secretly make those reservations whenever you get the chance 5. Better Hearing – No app or tool can help with this, but when spring cleaning arrives at your home you better have your ears cleaned out. You will be told 25 different things you need to do in the span of about 45 seconds. If you forget one of those things, you’re going to be in trouble. Good luck this spring gentlemen.

April Fools’ Day Reminder of Foolish Mistakes

Blog, Real Estate Tips   |   Dunham Stewart
In a survey conducted by Harris Interactive released to coincide with April Fools’ Day, buying a house made a national list of the most foolish mistakes American adults feel they have made. 4 percent of the 2,216 adults participating in the survey said buying a house was a foolish financial mistake. Nearly half of U.S. adults said they have made a foolish financial mistake they wish they could undo, according to the national survey. 4 percent of the 2,216 adults participating in the survey said buying a house was a foolish financial mistake. Financial slipups are bound to happen, it’s important for consumers to be well-educated on money matters and prevent small mishaps from affecting their long-term financial health. When making the most important financial decision in your life, real estate is at the top, getting the right advise is imperative, make sure to consult a realtor. Get the advise and council necessary to make a decision you will not regret.

Inside The Mind Of Today’s Home Seller

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
How real estate has changed in just a few months! For six years, real estate professionals have struggled to get buyers back into the market, now, suddenly, it’s the seller’s turn. Every forecaster says the worst is over and real estate markets will continue to heal and improve. Buyers’ markets are turning into seller’s markets this year, driven by inventories of homes for sale are at record lows. In fact, tight inventories are a problem. There are so few houses listed that in many markets sales falling short because there’s nothing to buy. Today the greatest challenge facing real estate is not foreclosures, subprime loans, access to financing, threats to the mortgage interest deduction or FSBOs. The greatest threat is inventory…we don’t have enough of it. From 2007 to 2012, potential sellers were held captive in their homes by low prices. Even though at that time about 30 percent of homeowners with a mortgage were underwater and could not move, about the same percentage of all homeowners, 31 percent said they’d be motivated to sell their home if prices would just rise by 5 percent. In other words, the combination of pent up demand plus a modest financial incentive would have jump started the housing markets. Now that they have experienced incremental increases in values, they are not large enough to motivate them to move or something else is going on. Moving isn’t just about money. Other factors are equally important or more important than values.
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