Kitchen Tweaks Broaden Littleton Homes’ Market Appeal

Kitchen Tweaks Broaden Littleton Homes’ Market AppealJust as the kitchen is a magnet for family activity, when a Littleton home goes up for sale, it’s the one room guaranteed to get rapt attention at every showing. Older Littleton homes can be at something of a disadvantage here, especially when structural design elements prohibit their being transformed into one of today’s popular airy open plan kitchens.

Perhaps you’ve already taken a paintbrush to your cabinets to give them a new look, or discovered the transformative power of inexpensive subway tile on a dingy backsplash. If your kitchen is still looking a bit uninspired, enhance it before the home showings start with a final inexpensive tweak or two.

Where empty wall space is present, you may be able to create additional storage space. Open shelving is a trendy look that’s both aesthetically pleasing and functional. A blank wall can be transformed by installing rustic wooden or sleek metal shelving units…but with one proviso: open shelving does double duty as display space—and that’s no place for mismatched or over-the-hill china and glassware!

A little of the right kind of handiwork can go a long way toward adding some 21st Century features to an aging Littleton home. Where an outlet is handy, transform a cabinet shelf into a docking station for smartphones and tablets. A small wall-mounted flat screen monitor can bring TV (or web video) to liven up the area. Hooks mounted near a back door can be made available for hanging backpacks, grocery bags, keys, or leashes. A bottom kitchen drawer can be transformed into a rollout pet feeding station.

No matter what else, it’s a plus whenever a kitchen space can clearly function as a gathering place as well as the meal preparation hub. It may be as simple as placing stools on one side of an island, adding a pub table and chairs, or transforming a neglected corner into a coffee station (those Keurigs make it a snap!)—giving your Littleton home yet another spot for a family to congregate.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry reported that kitchens were the top remodeling project in last year. In fact, 82% of NARI members stated that kitchen remodels represent their primary work—and I think we can guess what the results for 2015 will be. It makes a good argument for putting in a little elbow grease and creativity to spruce up the kitchen before you put your Littleton home up for sale.

You can also give me a call: I’m pleased to do a no-obligation walk-through for my feedback on how your listing should fare in today’s market!

Nightline says Reality TV House Flipping isn’t Realistic

1-14-houseflip-300x122ABC’s Nightline recently aired an interesting segment about house flipping, which included a magic number that’s probably never been seen before. Littleton house flippers would have been glued to their TVs if they’d stayed up late enough to catch Nightline, because if authentically magical, it’s a good number to know.

The segment was part of a series called “Realty Check.” This one was about new strategies in the “ever-competitive world of flipping.” The show started with some background about how expensive house flipping can be if it’s done in a hurry and on the cheap. Just slapping a coat of paint on the walls can result in an investment that languishes on the market, often until the asking price is reduced to an unprofitable level. The narrator stated that in the past, house flipping was often approached with the idea that the sooner a renovation could be completed, the better: “Get in, get out, move on.” We were shown how TV series like Flip It to Win It, Flipping Vegas, Rehab Addict, and Flip or Flop turned rehab projects into races against the clock: exciting drama for TV, maybe, but not necessarily a profitable real estate investment strategy in today’s market.

Nightline interviewed one new house flipping Phenom with 28 successful house flips to her credit. She says that “I call reality TV unrealistic.” She considers that the goal should be to produce a quality result—a house that’s “the best in the neighborhood.” That may take months rather than weeks, particularly if you want to avoid blowing your budget. Time, plus meticulous attention to detail, good taste—and a magic number.

It’s the magic number that has to interest anyone contemplating some Littleton house flipping of their own. It comes from an expert: RealtyTrac’s VP Daren Blomquist, who posited that the data reveal that “the more you put into a property, the more return you get.” Even if it takes half a year. But the amount you should budget only “Up until this magic number which is 23%.”

The magic number? It’s 23%. The goal is to make the final product the best in the neighborhood, so that a buyer coming into the neighborhood sees it as “their first choice.”

That’s a pretty tall order around here. Littleton has some fairly steep competition for best in the neighborhood. And six months between buying a property and being able to put it back on the market could seem like an awfully leisurely use of investment capital.

Without judging whether it’s truly magic or not, there is that 23% number. What was never explained was whether the magic number was meant to be 23% of the asking price, 23% of the purchased price, 23% of purchase plus rehab costs…or 23% of something else. Still—it’s nice to know there is a magic number.

If you have been thinking of undertaking some house flipping in Littleton, or even readying your own property for the market as-is (23% of $0 is $0); the New Year should be a great time to get going. Give me a call!

 

What Improvements Add the Most Real Estate Value?

12-10-valuebooster-277x300“The best real estate value in Englewood!” is certainly a little bit over-the-top when it’s used in a listing, but in truth, that’s pretty much what most prospective homebuyers in every price range actually hope to find. For homeowners planning to list their own Englewood homes, it’s good to keep in mind. When home improvement projects are going to be part of the preparations, adding real estate value without inflating the asking price is a goal worth pursuing.

Since there are so many improvements that could add to a Englewood property’s real estate value, comparing how they have fared recently when it comes to the bottom line is worth doing.

The Home Office: Myth?

Home office conversions haven’t appeared near the top of major Return On Investment (ROI) analysis lists for very long, so their performance is ambiguous. According to the yearly “Cost vs. Value Report” by Remodeling magazine, home office remodel projects don’t even break the 50% ROI mark. That’s a precipitous fall from earlier projections. I would guess the reason is that the analysts pegged the average cost at $28,000—but with the proliferation of laptops, tablets, and home Wi-Fi, why should a home office cost that much? (As a side note, it’s probably a reasonable guess that the same technological progress has incrementally lessened consumer demand for designated home offices).

Cost Matters in the Kitchen

The kitchen remodel is what most people picture when they think of big home improvement projects, and rightly so. But it’s here that planning pays off: not all kitchen upgrades register as equally good real estate value boosters. The kitchen is already the most complex room in your home, and it’s also a place where you can spend a fortune on fancy appliances and sleek cabinet replacements. The numbers don’t lie: when it comes to kitchens, your best ROI comes through limited budget-conscious projects. Leaders in cost recouping: new sinks, replacement counters, and highly targeted improvements like backsplashes.

Energy-Saving Doors = High Value

Replacing the front door with an attractive, energy-saving variety remains the top dollar-for-dollar investment. It makes sense when you remember how important curb appeal is. A properly insulated and sealed door will also save money by cutting down heating and cooling bills—savings that show up in utility bill receipts when you’re queried on the cost of running your home.

Before you hit the hardware store or call a contractor, remember that maximizing the real estate value return is the ultimate goal. Some home improvement projects won’t add as much value as one might assume, which is why I keep an eye on the latest cost vs. value reports—and share them with my clients!

Buying a Home in Englewood While Avoiding a Money Pit

For many decades, Hollywood has made box office gold creating comic films about the hilarious possibilities that nightmarish house remodels present: from Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House to The Money Pit (and even Under the Tuscan Sun), audiences delight in the shifty tradesmen and rotting timbers that define the genre.

If you’re an energetic Do-it-Yourselfer without much remodeling experience, Job One is to gather professional opinions to minimize the likelihood of costly discoveries. But before you even get that far, there are some general concepts that veteran turnaround investors know. These are disqualifiers that make it much more likely that buying a home in Englewood will be a shrewd investment instead of dollar demolisher.

Bad house, bad neighborhood

Is it worth buying a fixer-upper in a rundown or otherwise somewhat undesirable neighborhood? It can be tempting—especially when the asking price makes buying such a home a seemingly unbelievable value. But ignoring the ‘location, location, location’ truism is risky business. In many cases, such an investment may yield a diamond in the mud—a renewed structure that will never rise in value until the whole neighborhood rises in value (which could be never). Safer choices will be found in neighborhoods that don’t need remodeling themselves.

Bad house, good intentions

Buying a home in Englewood—especially when the neighborhood is fine and the price is more than right—can give rise to overly emotional decision-making. It can be tempting, when a property is almost okay, to make an instantaneous decision…but if you find yourself making excuses for this or that drawback, or finding yourself indulging in a bit of wishful thinking here and there, take a breath! Hopeful eyes may easily transform to fixer-uppers into mansions, but that’s the only time ‘easily’ will apply. Buying a home that needs major renovation is a probable mistake for home buyers who are uncertain about the money, time, or construction expertise that lie before them. A realistic mindset is the first ‘tool’ you need as you transform a fixer-upper into a winning investment.

Bad house, bad budget

Sometimes, buying a Englewood home as a fixer-upper seems exciting not for the challenge of the remodel but simply because you can’t afford that much house in any other way. Sure, fixer-uppers offer the tantalizing prospect of more house for less money—but down-to-earth budgeting for big repairs such as a new roof, a cracked foundation, or all-new floors will produce a realistic bottom line. Sometimes less house (but good house) is the call that yields a lot more restful nights!

Bad house, bad house

Finally, buying a house that seems like a fixer-upper—but would more accurately be called bulldozer fodder—is actually pretty easy to avoid. If your home inspector tells you about critical issues with a home’s bones (foundation, roof), infestations, or dangerous wiring issues, it’s most likely one of those.

Have faith: your home is out there! Remodels can be (in fact, often are) great investments. With a clear vision and a savvy team, you could be one renovation away from your dream home. Give me a call to check out the best of today’s Englewood prospects.