Tag Archives: renovate or sell

Flipping Houses for Profit – Tips for How to Flip a House

Several years ago, I became friends with a young woman who was just getting started in real estate. She became a real estate agent, learned about renovation, and made a ton of money flipping her first house. Thanks to some luck and some serious persistence on her part, she ended up on an HGTV show about flipping houses, where she appeared in several episodes as part of an Atlanta investor team.

The show made it look simple: find a cheap home for sale, put some money and sweat equity into fixing it up, then resell it for a huge profit. So I asked her if flipping houses was as easy as it looked on TV.

She laughed and shook her head. “We make it look easy,” she said. “But it’s risky, backbreaking work. It can be fun, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re sunk.”

So how do you know if you’re up to the challenge?

What Is House Flipping?

House flipping is when real estate investors buy homes, usually at auction, and then resell them at a profit months down the road. Can you make money doing this? Yes. Can you make a lot of money doing this? Yes. But you can also lose everything you own if you make a bad decision.

Risk vs. Reward

Imagine buying a house for $150,000, investing another $25,000 in renovations, and then…nothing. No one wants to buy it. You now have to pay for your own rent or mortgage, plus the mortgage for your flip property, as well as utilities, home insurance, and property taxes. You might also have to pay for home staging and realtor fees when the house finally sells. All of this cuts into your potential profit.

According to CNBC, house flipping is the most popular it’s been in a decade, yet the average return for flippers is lower than in previous years. Thanks to a hot housing market that’s raising prices, low inventory, and soaring rents (which drive even more people into home buying), it’s getting harder to make huge profits.

The average gross profit on a house flip during the third quarter of 2017 was $66,448, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. That’s more than many people make in a year, and it lures plenty of newcomers who dream of quitting their day jobs and becoming full-time investors. However, the investors making this much money really know what they’re doing — and even they still go bust sometimes.

RealtyTrac found that in 2016, 12% of flipped homes sold for break-even or at a loss before all expenses. In 28% of flips, the gross profit was less than 20% of the purchase price. According to RealtyTrac senior vice president Daren Blomquist, 20% is the minimum profit you need to at least account for remodeling and other carrying costs.

House Flipping Requirements

If you’re still reading, it means you’re relatively unfazed by the high risks of house flipping. Here’s what you need to get started.

Great Credit

You can’t get into house flipping with lousy credit, end of story. Unless you have enough cash to pay for a home and all necessary renovations, you’ll need some kind of loan. And lending standards are tighter than they used to be, especially if you want a loan for a high-risk house flip.

Your first step is to check your credit report to find out your score. Federal law allows you a free credit report from each of the three national credit reporting companies every 12 months, so this won’t cost you anything. You can get your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

If you don’t have great credit, it’s time to start building a good credit score now. Pay your bills on time, pay down your debt, and keep your credit card balances low. There are plenty of other ways to improve your credit score, so take the time to do everything you can. The higher your credit score, the better interest rate you’ll get on a home loan. This can save you thousands when you start house flipping, freeing up more of your money to invest in the house itself.

Last, make sure you know what hurts your credit score. For example, taking out too many credit cards at once lowers your score. You don’t want to do anything to hurt your score in the months before you apply for a loan.

Plenty of Cash

If you want to flip a house, you need cash. New investors get into financial trouble when they buy a home without a sizable down payment, then use credit cards to pay for home improvements and renovations. If the house doesn’t sell quickly, or if renovations cost more than expected, suddenly the investor is in way over their head.

Don’t be that guy. If you want to flip successfully, you need plenty of cash on hand. Most traditional lenders require a down payment of 25%, and traditional lenders are where you’ll get the best rate. When you have the cash to cover a down payment, you don’t have to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI. Most PMI costs between 0.5% and 5% of the loan, so having to pay this each month can really cut into your profits.

Loans for flips also have higher interest rates. According to TIME, most investors take out an interest-only loan, and the average interest rate for this type of loan is 12% to 14%. In comparison, the interest rate for a conventional home loan is typically 4%. The more you can pay in cash, the less interest you’ll incur.

There are several ways to build cash in your savings account. Use an automatic savings plan to make saving money each month effortless. Or find ways to earn extra money on the side and then use this money to build your cash reserves for an investment.

If you’re buying a foreclosure from a bank or through a real estate auction, another option is to take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC), if you qualify. If you have enough in savings and manage to find a bargain-priced home, you can buy the home and then take out a small loan or line of credit to pay for the renovations and other costs.

What Makes a Good Real Estate Investment?

Not every house makes a good flip. Just because a home is selling for a rock-bottom price doesn’t mean you can put money in it and automatically make a fortune. Successful flippers are very discerning about the homes they choose to invest in. Here’s what should you look for in a potential house flip.

Great Location

Expert house flippers can’t stress this enough. Find a home in a desirable neighborhood or one that’s on its way up. You can improve a house all you want, but it’s next to impossible to improve the personality and safety of a neighborhood on your own.

Start by researching local cities and neighborhoods. Look for areas with rising real estate sales, employment growth, and other indications the town is thriving. Avoid neighborhoods with a high number of homes for sale; this could be a sign of a depressed local economy or a sign that neighbors are leaving due to crime or development.

Next, research the safety of each neighborhood you’re considering. Homes located in or near high-crime areas will be next to impossible to sell at a profit. Use crime mapping services like Crime Report and Spot Crime to find out what’s happening in the neighborhood. You’ll also want to check the National Sex Offender Public Website to see if any registered sex offenders live near the home.

According to Fortune, in 2016, flippers in the following cities saw gross profits of 80% or more of the price they paid for their homes:

  • East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania (212.1%)
  • Reading, Pennsylvania (136.4%)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (126.8%)
  • Flint, Michigan (105.8%)
  • New Haven, Connecticut (104.8%)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (103.7%)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (97.6%)
  • Cincinnati, Ohio (88.5%)
  • Buffalo, New York (85.1%)
  • Cleveland, Ohio (83.8%)
  • Jacksonville, Florida (81.8%)
  • Baltimore, Maryland (80.8%)

That said, there are also some markets that show signs of over-investment. This means inventory is so low and demand is so high that flippers are paying above-market prices for homes, which can drastically reduce net profit. According to Fortune, these ultra-hot markets include:

  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Naples, Florida
  • Dallas, Texas
  • San Jose, California

If you’ve found an affordable home in a neighborhood that’s on its way up, your next step is to research the local schools. Homes in good school systems sell faster, and command higher prices, than homes in mediocre or poor school systems. Use websites like GreatSchoolsSchoolDigger, and Niche to see rankings and reviews of local schools.

When considering an investment home’s location, you also need to think about its proximity to your primary residence. Remember, you’ll be working on this house daily in the weeks and months to come. Don’t invest in a house too far away from where you live or work; you’ll spend more money on gas and it will take longer to fix up.

Sound Condition and the Right Renovations

If you’ve ever done a home renovation project, you know some nasty surprises can be lurking just below the surface. And nasty surprises like black mold or a cracked foundation can ruin you financially.

Look for structurally sound homes, especially if you’re considering buying an older home. You may not have the opportunity to have a home inspected, especially if you buy it at a real estate auction. So you need to learn what to look for or bring someone knowledgeable about building, electric, and plumbing to look at the home with you and determine if it’s a good buy.

Focus on homes that only need some quick updates to resell.  Refinishing kitchen cabinets, adding new hardware, fixing up the yard, and updating paint and carpeting are all relatively inexpensive projects that can transform a home.

What should you avoid? A house that has mold, needs a roof replacement, or needs rewiring will require some serious time and cash to update and sell. Make sure you know which updates and repairs you can afford to make, which repairs you can’t afford, and which home improvements will increase the selling price of the house. Bear in mind that some home improvement projects can decrease resale value.

When you estimate the cost of any job, experts advise adding 20% to the final total as it will always cost more than you think it will.

Last, when considering a home, don’t forget to factor in the cost of building permits. These can cost anywhere from a few hundred up to several thousand dollars, depending on the type of work involved and the city you’re in. Not accounting for permit costs is a rookie mistake that can quickly ruin your renovation budget.

Market Value

Make sure the price of the home is below its value on the local market. Try to buy the worst house in a great neighborhood, versus the best house in a lousy neighborhood. The worst house in a great neighborhood has nowhere to go but up in value, due to the value of the other homes in the area.

Although you can search the web and see millions of foreclosed homes for sale, never buy a home without seeing it in person. This is the biggest mistake new flippers make. Keep in mind that an online photo gallery only tells part of the story. Out-of-date photos, awful neighborhoods, and black mold are just a few of the horror stories of foreclosed homes found online. Always investigate a property yourself before you decide to buy.

When you buy a home to flip, it’s important not to over-value the home by investing too much in renovation. You want to improve it just enough to make a healthy profit and keep it on par with what’s selling in the neighborhood. If you put too much into the home, you won’t make your money back.

home made from wood with word written market value

How to Flip a House

If flipping were as easy as finding a cheap house online, buying it, and selling it for a profit, we’d all be real estate billionaires. You must educate yourself before you even start looking at homes. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Learn Your Market

First, research your local real estate market. Where do people want to live right now? What kind of house do people want to buy right now? Don’t speculate about up-and-coming neighborhoods. Remember, you want this house sold fast.

2. Understand Your Finance Options

Next, become an expert on home financing options. Will you buy a house with cash? Will you apply for a home mortgage loan or take out a HELOC? Make sure you understand the ins and outs of home financing before you apply for a loan or make an offer on a house. This will allow you to make the best decision for your circumstances.

3. Follow the 70% Rule

Analyze how much house you can afford and how much you can afford to lose on any deal. Experienced flippers follow the 70% rule when analyzing how much they’re willing to pay for a house. This rule states that investors should pay no more than 70% of the after repair value (ARV) of a property minus the cost of the repairs needed.

Let’s say a home’s ARV (or value after necessary repairs) is $200,000, and it needs $30,000 in repairs. The 70% rule states that you should pay no more than $110,000 for this home:

$200,000 (ARV) x 0.70 = $140,000 – $30,000 (repairs) = $110,000

This rule is a good guide to follow when you first get into house flipping as it can help you avoid overpaying for a home.

4. Learn to Negotiate

The less money you invest in a house, the more money you can earn during the flip. Good negotiation strategies will help you effectively haggle with contractors and other workers.

5. Learn How Much Average Projects Cost

Do you know how much it costs to recarpet a 1,000-square-foot home? Rewire a house? Build a deck? Landscape a yard?

Every project is different, but with some experience, you can learn how to estimate the costs of many home renovations and get an idea if a particular home is a good buy or not. One of the best ways to build your experience with this is to do some renovations on your own home. This can also give you a general idea of the type of projects you like to do and which projects you’re better off hiring out.

Know which home improvements increase a home’s value and focus on these projects first. These might include upgrading kitchen appliances, repainting the home’s exterior, installing additional closet storage space, upgrading the deck, and adding green energy technologies.

6. Network with Potential Buyers

Network extensively and talk to potential buyers before you even start looking for a house to flip. Do whatever you can to build relationships with future buyers. If you have a buyer lined up when you purchase an investment home, the home sells as soon as the updates are completed.

You can also save money long-term if you take the time to get your realtor’s license, which will enable you to broker your own deals and avoid paying another agent.

7. Find a Mentor

If you know a successful house flipper, ask if they’d be willing to mentor you. You might even want to consider offering this person an incentive to be your mentor.

For example, ask if they’ll mentor you in exchange for a small percentage of your first successful flip. This way the mentor is motivated to tutor you, and you’ll be sure to get a high-quality education. Offering a financial incentive also enables you to approach experts you don’t know personally since being compensated for their efforts will make them more receptive.

8. Research Listings and Foreclosures

Many websites provide foreclosure listings. Some of the most popular include:

You can also find foreclosure listings through real estate company websites like Re/Max. Under search filters, select the option for “foreclosures.”

Your local newspaper is another source of foreclosure listings. Legitimate auctioneers put notices in the legal section of local papers, and you can usually find their specific listings by visiting their websites.

Another way to find foreclosures is through a bank. Search for a particular bank along with the letters “REO,” which stand for “Real Estate Owned.” This simply means that the homeowner no longer owns the home; the bank does. This search will take you directly to each bank’s foreclosure listings.

Once you find a home you want to buy, check out its background with BuildFax. For $39, BuildFax provides a comprehensive background check on a home. You can review extensive details about the home’s history, including repairs, remodeling, and additions. This can help save you money.

For example, let’s say you want to buy a home whose listing indicates its furnace was replaced 10 years ago. When you run a report on BuildFax, you learn the furnace is closer to 20 years old. You can now go back to the seller and negotiate a much lower price.

9. Make an Offer

Once you find a home you like, it’s time to make an offer. If it’s a great house selling for a low price, you might have competition. For many flippers, flipping is a full-time job, and they will likely know about this house too. You can sneak by the competition by targeting a neighborhood and going door-to-door making offers.

Before you make an offer, make sure you know the highest price you can pay for a house and still make a profit. This includes your estimate for repairs, interest, and taxes. Remember to pad your estimate by 20%. If the homeowner or bank won’t sell to you for this price, walk away. It’s better to keep looking than risk going broke from a bad investment.

10. Find Good Contractors

If you have some solid DIY skills, you might opt to do some or most of the renovations yourself. This can save you a significant amount of money – if you know what you’re doing.

Knowing when to DIY and when to hire a contractor is crucial. You should only tackle projects you’re sure you can do well and on budget. For projects you can’t do on your own, you need to find a great contractor.

A general contractor, or GC, is a building professional who manages the whole renovation project and hires their own subcontractors to do the necessary work. Hiring a GC can be expensive; they’ll add 10% to 20% onto what their subcontractors charge when calculating your final bill. However, they can be worth their weight in gold if you find a great investment opportunity, can’t do the work yourself, and are willing to incur the extra expense.

A good contractor can help you avoid costly renovation mistakes and save you a significant amount of time on a project. This means you can get the house up for sale faster and make fewer mortgage payments. If you’re flipping a house while working a full-time job, hiring a GC is probably a necessity; someone has to be available at the house to oversee the work at least part-time, or the project will never get done.

A general contractor will also be in charge of obtaining the necessary building permits. This means their name will be on every permit, and they’re responsible for making sure the job is done right for every inspection. Make sure to apply for permits as soon as the sale is final to save time and get the process moving.

Start building a network of contractors you trust, including plumbers, electricians, and landscapers. Services like Angie’s ListPorch, and HomeAdvisor can help you find reliable professionals in your area. When you interview a contractor, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did they arrive on time? Contractors who are habitually late will waste your time and slow up your renovation project.
  • Do they have quality references? Ask for references and call them. If a contractor doesn’t provide references, don’t waste your time dealing with them.
  • Did they reschedule your appointment multiple times? Again, if they have a problem with time management, it will affect your renovation.
  • Are they organized? Disorganization wastes time.
  • Can they supply a professional, accurate bid? Any bid they provide should be detailed and on paper. A verbal quote and a handshake won’t cut it with a flip, at least at the beginning of a relationship when you’re just learning whether you can trust this person.

It’s a smart idea to start building a network of quality contractors before you make an offer on a house. Remember, it can take a long time to find good help, and you don’t want to start this process after you invest in a home and are making two mortgage payments each month.

Keep in mind that most experienced flippers try to have a home bought, renovated, and relisted in 90 days. That’s a quick turnaround time, and for your first few flips, it might be out of reach. But the longer your home is tied up in projects, the less profit you stand to make; that’s why it’s so important to carefully weigh whether you should do the work yourself or hire help. Doing it yourself might save you money upfront, but if it takes you three times longer than a professional, it might not be worth it.

11. Relist and Sell

Many flippers end up listing their homes with a realtor. Realtors eat and sleep real estate, have access to buyers, and can list your house in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. They also know the current market fluctuations and have the skills and network to get you the best price quickly.

You can also choose to sell your house yourself. You’ll save money in realtor fees, but in some markets, you might end up waiting a long time for the house to sell. In addition, listing and showing a house takes time. If you can’t be available every time someone wants to see the house and you don’t want to host open houses, working with a realtor might be the best choice for you.

Final Word

There’s no doubt that flipping houses is a risky business. If you make smart decisions, you can make a lot of money flipping. But you can also lose everything if you make a bad investment.

Before you get into the world of house flipping, do your research to make sure it’s right for you. Books like “The Flipping Blueprint: The Complete Plan for Flipping Houses and Creating Your Real Estate-Investing Business” by Luke Weber can tell you everything you need to know to get started and avoid some rookie mistakes.

Have you ever flipped a house? What was your experience like? What do you wish you’d done differently?

Source: Home Value Plus – By Heather Levin  May 23, 2018  –  

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Seven Renovations That Could Backfire and Hurt Your Home’s Value

If you live in an area where homes are selling like hot cakes, you may be feeling exceptionally confident in the value of your property. And as a result, you may be considering a home upgrade you’ve been dreaming of for years. Perhaps you want to add a pool, or maybe you want to add more square footage to your home. Or maybe you’re just aching to do something because you’ve been watching way too much HGTV.

Before you dip into your savings account or apply for a home equity loan, experts say you should think long and hard about your financial investment and your choices. Just because a specific upgrade seems like a good idea right now doesn’t mean it will pay off later. Plus, there are some upgrades that many homeowners regret almost instantly, either because they wind up overspending or because were a bad idea in the first place.

Seven Home Improvements You May Live to Regret

Home remodelers, beware. Spending money to “upgrade” your home doesn’t always pay off, and it could even hurt your home’s value in the long run. Here are some upgrades the experts suggest you steer clear of:

#1: Garage conversion

A garage conversation can seem like a good idea if you need more living space and don’t mind parking in the driveway or street. However, this remodeling project comes with plenty of risk. Not only are garage conversations often done poorly and in a way that makes them look obvious — and awkward — but you can face problems if you remodel your garage without getting proper permits.

Vincent Nepolitan of Planet Home Lending points out another potential problem: When you go to sell, you may find a more limited pool of potential buyers. Not having a garage for buyers to park their vehicle can limit the number of people you get through the door, thus preventing you from getting the sales price you want for your home. This is especially true in areas where all the neighboring homes have garages, Nepolitan says, and in areas with hard winters or sizzling-hot summers.

#2: Converting a bedroom for another purpose

With more people working remotely than ever before, it may seem like a good idea to convert a spare bedroom into an office. This can be a good idea if you only make superficial upgrades like replacing a bed with a freestanding desk. But there could be financial consequences if you pour a lot of resources into the renovation or make structural changes — converting the closet into a built-in desk area, for example — so the room no longer qualifies as a bedroom afterward.

The reason for this? Homes with more bedrooms can fetch a higher sales price and tend to attract a larger pool of buyers, says Georgia-based real estate investor Shawn Breyer. A buyer with two children might insist on having three bedrooms, for example, and be unwilling to consider any two-bedroom homes. They might also be willing to pay a premium to secure a home with a fourth bedroom they could use as a guest room.

The bottom line: When it comes to a home’s value, the more bedrooms the better — so don’t think long and hard before getting rid of one.

#3: Adding a pool

It’s easy to think having a pool would make your life more fun and more relaxing. After all, what’s better than spending a lazy day floating in the water with a cold drink or a good book?

Unfortunately, the reality of pool ownership doesn’t always line up with expectations. Pools may be great for summer, but they’re often expensive to maintain over the long haul, says CEO of Patch Homes Sahil Gupta, and require a lot of work, from adding chemicals to cleaning and maintenance.

And, you may not find your pool quite as fun in a few years’ time. Gupta notes that pools tend to go unused during winters and once kids leave the house, and that they may eventually become a safety hazard for grandkids or pets. (In fact, a pool can increase your home insurance premiums.)

Finally, only a limited number of buyers will even want a pool in certain parts of the country, so you might wind up selling your home for less than you wanted or waiting longer for a buyer as a result.

#4: Kid-related upgrades

While pools are commonly added by families with kids, there are other kid-related upgrades homeowners may rush into without thinking them through, says Julie Gurner, senior real estate analyst at TheClose.com. “Some upgrades consumers tend to regret are, for example, linked to children and their temporary place in the home,” says Gurner.

A solid example would be adding a basketball court to your backyard because your child is really into the sport. “Sports courts require maintenance and take up a large portion of the backyard recreation space,” says Gurner. And not every buyer will want a basketball court in their yard when you go to sell.

Before you go through with a costly upgrade that may only be needed for a few years, consider whether there are less permanent and less costly options available.

#5: Trendy interiors

Gurner points out another mistake that’s often fueled by HGTV mania — following fads and planning your home upgrades around what’s currently “hip.” Gurner points to the recent shiplap craze as an example, noting that the wooden-board wall cover that’s trending now may be the “wood paneling of the future.”

Other ubiquitous home improvement trends that could leave you wincing at your choices later on include stainless steel appliances, open kitchen shelves, brass accents, and basically anything that’s shabby chic. When it comes to fashion and trends, whatever’s “in” now is always on its way out at some point.

#6: Textured walls and ceilings

Speaking of outdated trends: Textured walls are so 1980s, but some people who never got the memo still slap a layer of popcorn on before they paint, even if it’s just to match other rooms in the house. But Breyer says that adding texture to walls and ceilings is a mistake — partly because it can turn off potential buyers when you go to sell, but also because it’s expensive to remove if you change your mind.

Breyer says that, most of the time, it costs $1 to $2 per square foot of space to have textured walls refinished with a smooth surface. Plus, you’ll also face the cost of repainting your walls and/or ceilings after the removal is complete.

#7: Over-improvements

Real estate agent Justin Moundas says that over-improvements tend to leave homeowners regretting their choices. “It never pays to be the nicest or biggest house on the block,” he says. “Often people regret investing so much into the home that it can’t be justified in the resale value for the area.”

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, some remodeling projects that don’t offer a great bang for your buck include big-ticket investments like backyard patios (47.6% return), a master suite addition (48.3% return), a major kitchen remodel (53.5% return), and the addition of a bathroom (54.6% return).

Each of these projects may help you enjoy your home while you live there, but they may leave you wishing you had spent your money elsewhere if you move within a few years.

If you want a home that’s a lot nicer than the one you have now, Moundas says upgrading to a different home can be a better deal than remodeling. By finding a different home that already has the floorplan and upgrades you want, you can avoid the hassle and stress of remodeling along with runaway costs.

The Bottom Line

If you watch popular real estate shows on HGTV all the time, it’s easy to think that home remodeling projects always pay off. After all, the stars of shows like Flip vs. Flop and Fixer Upper almost always turn bargain basement homes into spectacular investments, mostly by choosing the right upgrades and getting them for the right price.

But real life is not like television. In the real world, home upgrades are usually only a good idea if you plan to stay in your home and pick finishes that would appeal to the masses if you needed to sell.

Before you spend your hard-earned dollars on a pricey remodeling project, ask yourself what your goals are. Do you want to enjoy your chosen upgrades for years to come? Or are you simply following trends and keeping up with the Joneses? Do you absolutely need to upgrade to make your home livable, or could you get by with the home you have?

Be honest with yourself, and you may find a home upgrade is the last thing you need.

Source:  The Simple Dollar –

Holly Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer and the author of Zero Down Your Debt. Johnson shares her obsession with frugality, budgeting, and travel at ClubThrifty.com.

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Top five home renovations that increase property value

home renovations, increase property value, Income properties, real estate, real estate wealth, real estate income, Genworth Canada

Looking to increase your homes property value? Here are five of the best renovations you can do to your home to increase property value. These five renovations can sometimes have a return on investment 5-6x what they cost.

#5 Flooring

Flooring is one of the most important aspects of your house. You will see an immediate rise in property valuation with the installation of hardwood floors. Existing hardwood floors that you can refinish are ideal as they are less costly to restore and in higher demand than new flooring materials. For the bathroom, tile will always be in demand and retain value exceptionally well.

home renovations, increase property value, Income properties, real estate, real estate wealth, real estate income, Genworth Canada

#4 Fixtures

Kitchens often look tired and dated, in large part due to old fixtures. Replacing or updating cabinet hardware, light fixtures, countertops and faucets will result in an immediate increase in your home’s value. This small, but effective upgrade will also revitalize the entire home. Pot lights are in high demand in open concept style homes.

#3 Bathroom

The bathroom is the second most important room in the home in terms of valuation. If you can add a three-piece bathroom to a home with only one full bathroom, you will see a dramatic rise in the market value of your home. While you should never compromise bedroom space for a bathroom, try sneaking one in dead space in the home. Scott managed to fit in a 3-piece bathroom under a staircase – the width of the room measured just 44 inches. As an added tip, use glass for the shower to make the bathroom feel more spacious.

#2 Kitchen

Kitchens are the single most important room in the home relating to valuation. The kitchen can make a significant difference in the value of your home. As such, it is crucial that you invest in having a modern, fresh and desirable kitchen. Modern cabinetry, under cabinet lighting and new appliances will all significantly increase the value of your home on the market. To save on cost without compromising construction and desirability, look at options like Ikea cabinets as opposed to custom cabinetry.

#1 An Income Suite

No surprise, but the single biggest way to increase the value of your home is to build an income suite within the property. Whether this is converting your basement into a rental, or another floor in the home, an income property will increase your home’s worth. The main reason for this is that it covers a portion, or sometimes all of your mortgage payments, and results in your home being cash flow positive – which creates real wealth that can supplement your income.

Source: Genworth Canada

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We recommended our contractor to friends and they hated his work. How can we repair this mess?

THE QUESTION

My husband and I recommended a contractor to friends of ours and they didn’t like the work he did. They not only bad-mouthed him but they also refused to pay. Now he’s upset with our friends, our friends are upset with us and we’re upset with our friends. I’m wishing we never recommended our guy (who has always done great work for us) in the first place. Please help! What do we do now?

THE ANSWER

I hear you. Similar scenarios have played themselves out in our lives a few times and, yes, it is upsetting – to the point where I’ve decided my new policy is not to recommend anyone to anyone anymore.

Why bother? It’s a mug’s game! If it works out, fine. But if not – everyone gets upset.

Example: We had “a guy,” and he always did good work for us. So we recommended him to a friend who, as in your case, not only wound up bad-mouthing him but also stiffing him, financially, for the work he did.

She had some story about how he tried to rip her off. Excuse me, we knew this guy for nearly two decades, and during that time he was in our house more or less constantly, like Eldin the painter from Murphy Brown, if you remember that show. Anyway, I/we knew him backward and forward and inside and out and knew he was above board and would never rip anyone off.

Long story short, I am no longer friends with that (ex-)friend.

Now, I’m not saying be like me and turn your back on your friend. But I truly hate it when someone stiffs an honest, hard-working person.

Of course, you can stiff people. That possibility always lurks in the do-work-now-pay-me-later arrangement.

But to me, it’s like “dine and dash” (where you eat in a restaurant then scamper off into the night before the bill comes): it sucks because civilized society is based on people trusting other people not to do that.

Except “reno and dash” is even worse because (at least in the case of my ex-friend) we’re talking not about hundreds but tens of thousands of dollars – money our (former) contractor could have used/needed to put food on his family’s table.

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And that’s serious, a.k.a., not a joke. When you mess with someone’s ability to earn a living, that is a profoundly uncool thing to do.

So I think you’re well within your rights to speak to your friend, to the effect of: “Hey! What’s up with stiffing [name of contractor here]? That is completely uncool, not only in its own right but also because it reflects on me.”

Not only does it reflect on you, (you could furthermore add), “But now I have to deal with it. I have to apologize to him for hooking you up with him in the first place.”

Expect some backlash. I gave a similar speech to my former friend (the one who stiffed our contractor), and it led to a friendship-ending conversation.

I’m not suggesting you follow my example there (I’m always an advocate of hanging on to friends and all loved ones through thick and thin). “Do as I say not as I do” would be my watchwords in this circumstance.

But I wouldn’t let your friend off the hook too easily. Ask yourself: “What kind of person refuses to pay for work honestly, even if perhaps not-so-wonderfully, performed?”

I’ve had people do work for me I wasn’t crazy about, and I wasn’t crazy about their work-ethic either.

Some of them were just unreliable. A guy who built a set of bookshelves for us comes to mind. He was all like, “Tra-la-la, I’ll come at 10 tomorrow,” and then just wouldn’t show up.

But the bookshelves got built in the end, and it never occurred to me to stiff him, to look him in the eye and say: “You know what, the whole experience was a pain and I’ve decided I’m just not going to pay you.”

I think you should seriously ask yourself if you want a friend like that, and beyond that (even though I’m an advice columnist), I’m not going to tell you what to do, except to say: comport yourself accordingly.

Source: SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL

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Top five home renovations that increase property value

Looking to increase your homes property value? Here are five of the best renovations you can do to your home to increase property value. These five renovations can sometimes have a return on investment 5-6x what they cost.

#5 Flooring

Flooring is one of the most important aspects of your house. You will see an immediate rise in property valuation with the installation of hardwood floors. Existing hardwood floors that you can refinish are ideal as they are less costly to restore and in higher demand than new flooring materials. For the bathroom, tile will always be in demand and retain value exceptionally well.

home renovations, increase property value, Income properties, real estate, real estate wealth, real estate income, Genworth Canada

#4 Fixtures

Kitchens often look tired and dated, in large part due to old fixtures. Replacing or updating cabinet hardware, light fixtures, countertops and faucets will result in an immediate increase in your home’s value. This small, but effective upgrade will also revitalize the entire home. Pot lights are in high demand in open concept style homes.

#3 Bathroom

The bathroom is the second most important room in the home in terms of valuation. If you can add a three-piece bathroom to a home with only one full bathroom, you will see a dramatic rise in the market value of your home. While you should never compromise bedroom space for a bathroom, try sneaking one in dead space in the home. Scott managed to fit in a 3-piece bathroom under a staircase – the width of the room measured just 44 inches. As an added tip, use glass for the shower to make the bathroom feel more spacious.

#2 Kitchen

Kitchens are the single most important room in the home relating to valuation. The kitchen can make a significant difference in the value of your home. As such, it is crucial that you invest in having a modern, fresh and desirable kitchen. Modern cabinetry, under cabinet lighting and new appliances will all significantly increase the value of your home on the market. To save on cost without compromising construction and desirability, look at options like Ikea cabinets as opposed to custom cabinetry.

#1 An Income Suite

No surprise, but the single biggest way to increase the value of your home is to build an income suite within the property. Whether this is converting your basement into a rental, or another floor in the home, an income property will increase your home’s worth. The main reason for this is that it covers a portion, or sometimes all of your mortgage payments, and results in your home being cash flow positive – which creates real wealth that can supplement your income.

Source; HomeOwnership.ca

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How much should it really cost to renovate a kitchen?

kitchen renovation

It can cost between $25K-$50K. Here are pointers to help you figure out a budget

My kitchen renovation last year was filled with surprises, most of them unwelcome (after all, our house is 100 years old). But by far the biggest surprise was the cost: After an initial meeting with our designer, we realized we needed to rethink our budget and come up with more cash (about 30% more on top of what we’d planned).

Turns out I’m not alone: Experts say most people don’t realize how much a kitchen renovation will cost and, as a result, they don’t tend to budget enough.

That could be because home renovation TV shows are notorious for showing unrealistic budgets for major work — so while a family might get a brand new kitchen for $20,000, it’s never explained what that price includes.

So how do you figure out what you should be spending?

Nancy Peterson, Founder and CEO of Homestars, a website that connects consumers with contractors and other home improvement professionals, says that, according to their data, the average kitchen renovation in Canada costs $25,593 — but, she adds, that number depends on how extensive the work is and whether you’re doing an outright gut of the space and replacing everything with new stuff. “A major renovation can cost as much as $50,000,” she explains, “especially if you’re buying high-end appliances or cabinets, which are by far the biggest expense in any renovation.”

So how much should you budget for your home renovation? Here are some pointers to help you figure it out:

Know where your money is going

Whether it’s cabinets, tiles or appliances, it helps to know how much each element of a renovation will likely set you back. Here are the top things you’ll be spending on, according to Peterson, including what the average Canadian spends on each during their renovation:

• New cabinets and countertops: $7,483.16
• Wood flooring: $6,392
• Stone countertops: $3,839
• Cabinets (refinishing): $3,819
• Ceramic flooring: $2,333

The 20% rule

Experts say to add between 20% and 25% on top of your budget to handle surprises and unexpected costs. Based on the average cost of a Canadian renovation, a healthy buffer would be $5,118 to $6,398 to cover anything that pops out of the woodwork (in our case, it was an old stove pipe lurking behind our kitchen wall — big bucks to get rid of that, and it put us off schedule to boot!).

 

You don’t have to splurge on everything

Depending on how you use your kitchen, there are some things you can do on the cheap and others where it might be worth spending more. In our case, we splurged on a high-end stove (we cook all the time), but we bought pre-made cabinets from Ikea. Peterson also recommends saving money by refinishing existing cabinets instead of replacing them. Flooring selection can also make a difference – ceramic is a lot cheaper than wood.

You’ll be eating out more

Remember, you are going to be without a kitchen for a month or longer. That means cooking will be limited – and you’ll probably be relying on prepared foods and restaurant meals more than you usually do. Be prepared to spend a bit more to feed yourself and your family while your space is shut down.

Source: MoneySense.ca – by  

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Move or improve? – Before embarking on an expensive move, consider renovating instead

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When my husband and I first bought our house in Guelph, Ont., 11 years ago, it was something Goldilocks surely would have approved of: not too big, not too small. Just right. Our first-born was still in diapers. Who needed a second bathroom? Then, seemingly overnight, the place felt cramped and entirely impractical. We’ve now got two kids, and our-nine-year-old has outgrown her teeny-tiny bedroom. Weekday mornings mean slapping together breakfasts in the cramped kitchen. And forget inviting more than one family over for dinner unless they don’t mind yelling over the din. (Basement play room? What basement play room?)

Not surprisingly, my husband and I have been discussing our options. Move to a larger, more suitable home in our neighbourhood or stay put and renovate what we have? Finish the basement or build an addition? And most importantly, what would each scenario cost?

I’m hardly the only Canadian faced with the choice between moving or improving to increase usable square footage. Back in 2012, Canada Post released numbers indicating that of the 850,000 people who changed addresses, 37% moved to upgrade their home for family reasons. More recently, Altus Group measured the boom in Canadian residential home renovation spending, valuing it at $68 billion in 2014, roughly $20 billion more than what was spent on new builds.

Families grow, possessions multiply, aging parents move in, or a new job means building a home-office space. Although everybody’s situation is different—and let’s face it, you can’t always buy a great neighbourhood but you can change your home—deciding to love it or list it usually comes down to finances. What will it cost to move versus renovate and stay?

It’s not the house, it’s you

Cut the clutter and uncover valuable unused square footage

First, let’s start with the biggest bang for the least bucks: creating more usable space by simply clearing out the junk and getting your house more organized. That’s been our own family project for the past few weeks. Snowshoes that have never seen powder? Gone. An ill-advised yogurt machine purchase? Ditto. Three boxes of baby shoes? Now that’s just embarrassing.

We decided to take on this Herculean project after chatting on the phone with Elinor Warkentin, a Vancouver-based professional organizer who runs goodbyeclutter.ca. She says some clients have hired her to stage their homes for selling, only to decide to stay put after uncovering unused square footage they never knew they had: “Sometimes people can’t see the forest through the trees. Decluttering and organizing give people a lot of clarity.”

Although the act of breaking up with unwanted belongings is free, tackling chaos can be overwhelming without some help. Hiring a professional organizer can be one of the most cost-effective ways to gain much-needed space—with no jackhammer or moving van required.The least expensive option

In order to command her $85/hour fee, Warkentin spends 15 minutes on the phone with potential clients to suss out their junk issues, then does a two-hour walk-through consultation, giving specific advice based on what she sees. While she may recommend storage solutions—anything from new shelving beneath the stairs, to under-the-sink storage hacks for soap and rags—she also tackles behavioural issues. Toys littering the floor? Maybe it’s time to teach the kids to pitch in and clean up. And yes, like all those clutter consultants on TV, she helps clients separate items into piles: some go to the garbage heap, others will be given away and the last pile are keepers. She’s on-site with bins and garbage bags, picking through items one by one. (Warkentin once spent hours matching up single black and navy socks for a client.)

Between hiring a professional organizer’s services and installing new storage solutions in previously unused spaces, expect to spend $2,000 to $10,000, depending on where you live and whether your new shelves are cheaper prefabs or pricier customs. If that sounds unreasonable, consider that “for every box of clutter you remove from your home, you increase the equity by $500,” Warkentin says. But think hard before building new pricey storage solutions if you don’t like your neighbourhood or hope to move to a new school district someday. There’s no point spending the money if you’re just going to sell anyway.

Luckily, there are a number of options that range from cheap and cheerful to extreme and expensive that could get you a house that works for you. Here we’ll take a look at four scenarios, from least to potentially most costly, to see how each choice adds up.

Building a better house

Renovate the existing space make a house feel more spacious

Earlier this year, Scott Sheppard, an air traffic controller living in the Greater Toronto Area, decided it was time to give his mother, who lives in his basement, a room of her own. A bathroom, that is. “As she’s been getting older, we’ve realized that we needed to build something for her, rather than expect her to walk two flights of stairs to use the shower,” says Sheppard. In the end, it was a relatively easy fix: They simply converted their old attached garage into a laundry and mudroom, and moved the basement’s washer, dryer and deep freezer into it. This freed up space for Grandma’s corner shower, sink and toilet.

The second-priciest option David Kloss, co-owner of LoganSienna Design in Toronto, says that, for homeowners like Sheppard, it makes sense to maximize space with the footprint that you have—particularly if living in a semi-detached or row house with restrictive zoning bylaws. Moving a wall to, say, create two bedrooms out of one means you can stay in a home you love, while making it fit your lifestyle. And even if the house doesn’t become physically bigger through these renovations, a little ingenuity can go a long way toward making a house feel more spacious. For instance, at a recent reno job in Toronto’s High Park area, Kloss removed a hall linen closet and knocked down walls to create a bigger, more open washroom.

And don’t forget the attic. It’s a square footage gold mine, particularly in older homes with steeply pitched roofs. To determine if you can turn your attic into a usable loft, shine a flashlight up there. Got W-shaped trusses holding up the roof? The reno will likely be too costly to be worth it. But if you’re looking at a wide open space with ample headroom in the centre, it might be worth building stairs up through a closet, and adding insulation and heating ducts.

Not all spaces are appropriate for renovations, however. Even though adding a room in the basement typically saves you between 25% and 50% of the cost of adding a room to upper floors, some aren’t worth finishing. There are foundation cracks that result in leaks. The furnace is smack in the middle of the room. The ceiling is low. Digging down to gain a few extra feet would cost in the range of $60,000. And to fix everything else? An extra $75,000. That’s before all the fun décor decisions.

All rooms aren’t created equal when it comes to pricing either. Contractors tend to quote in the $90 to $225 per square foot range, but if you’re aiming to add a bathroom to the mix or make your kitchen bigger, expect higher outlays: Plumbing, granite, fixtures and new appliances drive costs way up, while simply drywalling a basement or attic is going to be much cheaper. There are a lot of ways to save money—or blow through cash—so plan carefully before giving any project the green light.

Building a bigger house

Add value and living space to your home with an addition

Michael Berton and Cathie Hurlburt have had 13 years to live with their decision to turn their once small two-bedroom bungalow in North Vancouver into a 2,000-square-foot home by adding a second storey. They couldn’t be happier.

The Vancouver market was just heating up when the couple dragged their kids to open houses looking for a larger home—but eventually they decided to stay put. “We kept looking at houses that were three times more money than ours, were just as old and probably needed renovating anyway. It just didn’t make sense,” says Berton now. Instead, they hired a contractor, convinced the bank to help finance the $200,000 reno, moved into an apartment down the street for five months, and then waited for the plaster dust to settle.

Although hard to fathom today, the couple once worried about owning a half-million dollar home in Vancouver. But the gamble to increase the space paid off. Not only were they able to raise The third-most expensive option their three girls in a spacious home, but they made their house even more desirable to buyers. Their home—assessed at $320,000 before the reno—is now worth about $1.5 million. “But I don’t know if the math works like that everywhere, because I live in Lotusland where the house prices are nuts,” Berton cautions.

He’s right to question whether building an expensive addition is the best option everywhere. Most house prices don’t appreciate as quickly as they do in hot markets like Vancouver and Toronto. It can take decades before homeowners can recoup costs come selling time. An expensive renovation usually only makes sense if you plan on living in your home for the long haul, says Suzanne Ethier, a realtor in Kitchener, Ont. But for people who aren’t sure if they’ll need to move in five or 10 years? “Without fail, the numbers say sell the house and buy a new one,” she says.

The truth is that building onto a house is expensive. Location, size, finishes and labour costs will vary, says Brennan Waters, owner of Oakwaters Construction Ltd., based in Everton, Ont., but generally speaking, “$200 a square foot will give you options.” But expect to pay more if you’re digging down to expand the basement, or if you’re planning wholesale kitchen moves requiring all new plumbing and wiring.

What’s more, extensions can come with nasty and expensive surprises—from opening a wall to find old knob-and-tube wiring, to having run-ins with neighbours who are fed up with the construction noise and debris. Banks don’t finance the demolition work either, so that’s coming out of pocket, unless you get a construction loan. All of this isn’t to say building an addition can be the right choice, but just be sure you know what you’re getting into before the backhoe arrives.

Making the big move

Upgrade your living space by relocating to a new home

Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of Dodge and find a new place to live. That was Kate Kuok’s story when she moved from her suburban Toronto townhouse to Oakville, Ont., about four years ago with her husband Gabriel and their newborn.

Although their former property had three bedrooms and three bathrooms, soon the baby gear spilled out all over the living areas. Plus, they weren’t enamoured with their neighbourhood, what with drug deals going down on the street. “I always said to myself, ‘I’m going to see how we are with a kid in this place.’ I had my son in June and by August I was saying, ‘We’ve got to get out of here,’” Kuok explains, recalling all the factors that motivated their decision to find a new home.

The most expensive option So what does it cost to move? Put it this way: It ain’t cheap. Even if you clear a cool $100,000 after selling your old home, moving into a larger house will likely cost more than that. Take houses in Halifax’s hot South End neighbourhood. A three-bedroom, one-bathroom home is listed at $465,000. Move up to a similar four-bedroom, two-bathroom house and you’re likely spending about $200,000 more. Plus financing.

And don’t forget the extras. Realtor fees run around 5% to 6% of the final sale price, so count on at least $23,250, while lawyer fees cost $1,200 to $1,500. With the exception of Alberta and Saskatchewan, there are also land transfer taxes, which vary depending on where you live—for instance, you’ll pay $6,475 on a $500,000 home in Ottawa, while Torontonians can expect to pay $12,200 for that same-priced house. Plus, don’t forget moving costs that run additional thousands of dollars.

Despite the financial costs for Kuok’s family, it was a good idea to move. Although the couple spent a little more on the mortgage than they’d budgeted for, they ended up with something money can’t buy: a great low-traffic street with neighbours who look out for each other. You’ll find them on summer nights hanging out in the yard socializing over a beer while the kids whiz around on bikes and scooters. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s just as important as saving a buck.

“I would do anything to stay in this house because we love the street. I would put an addition on it, refinish the basement and make more space for the kids,” Kuok says. “We could never buy neighbours like these again, ever.”

Source: MoneySense.ca – by 

 

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