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Sept. 18, 2017

4 Projects Pros Should Do

When You Just Shouldn't Do It Yourself

 

A do-it-yourself project can be an empowering way to save money, provided you know what you're doing. But making even one simple mistake could put a strain on your back or your bank account. Often, it's best to put safety first and call a professional. Here are four types of home improvement projects that are best left to the experts.

 

1. Plumbing or electrical projects -- There's a reason these are skilled trades. Both systems are complex, no matter how straightforward a repair may initially appear. Even small leaks can cause serious water damage, and faulty electrical wiring can lead to a house fire. Don't risk flooding or electric shock. Call a plumber or hire an electrician to make sure these jobs are done right the first time.

 

2. Renovations with possible code violations -- Structural changes require a licensed contractor. Not only can shoddy craftsmanship severely affect your home's value, but it can also put your family in danger. Accidentally removing a load-bearing wall, for example, could cause an entire room to collapse. Why take the risk?

 

3. Repairs involving heights -- More than 130,000 ladder-related injuries are treated in emergency rooms each year. Whether you're looking at a roof repair or trimming a tree, consider calling a professional before attempting to complete the job yourself.

 

 

4. Time-sensitive projects -- Weigh your work and family commitments before embarking on a home improvement project. Even if you're confident in your abilities, the added pressure of a tight deadline can lead to unnecessary and often dangerous mistakes.

 

 

Remember, just because a DIY project looks simple doesn't necessarily mean it's safe. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and call a professional.

Aug. 30, 2017

Home Changes That Affect Insurance

 

Homes often grow and change alongside the people living in them. If you've added expensive furnishings or made substantial upgrades, it's important to re-evaluate your homeowners insurance and make sure your policy reflects those changes. Here are four instances when it may be beneficial to review and adjust your coverage.

 

Remodeling or Renovation Work

Home improvement projects typically increase the value of your home, which usually calls for more coverage. But that doesn't necessarily mean your insurance rates will automatically increase. In fact, some projects, like adding a new roof, may help you save on your monthly home insurance premiums. Just be sure to notify your provider before any work begins.

 

Adding a Pool or an Outdoor Trampoline

Because these fun home features come with increased risk of injury, they're labeled an attractive nuisance. Upping your liability insurance can help keep you protected if there's ever an accident on your property and a subsequent lawsuit.

 

Acquiring New Valuables

Whether you inherit them or purchase them, expensive goods such as jewelry, art, rugs and antiques should be added to your policy. Increasing your coverage is the only way to safeguard them in the event of damage or theft.

 

Starting a Home Business

Many home-based business owners don't realize they have little, if any, coverage from a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Since a new home business likely means purchasing new technology and expensive equipment, you may need to get additional protection.

 

You worked hard for your home. Secure your belongings by updating your coverage to match your circumstances.

Posted in Home Selling
Aug. 25, 2017

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Aug. 16, 2017

Adding Secret Spaces to Your Home

For decades, characters like Batman and James Bond have popularized hidden doors and clandestine passageways. Many homeowners have followed suit, adding secret areas to store valuables, provide a safe place in an emergency or create a fun playroom. Could a hidden feature make you feel safer, secure your possessions better or add to your home's appeal?

Conceal a Room With Books
Sometimes the best part of a bookcase isn't what's on the shelves but what's behind it. These large structures create the perfect veil for a secret door to an undisclosed room. An architect can help you work with the space you have and figure out the details, like which direction a door should swing.

Secure Valuables in an Inconspicuous Safe
A safe is an excellent option for storing and protecting assets like jewelry, passports and cash. But if leaving it in plain sight feels too vulnerable, try concealing it entirely. A wall cutout behind a picture frame, cabinet or mirror makes for an ideal hideaway.

Make a Stealthy Escape
Want an inconspicuous escape route? Consider installing an underground passage with a secret switch to activate it. For example, chess pieces moved into a specific position or a particular book pulled from a shelf can reveal the opening. You can also choose from biometric authentication such as a fingerprint or eye scanner.

You don't have to be a superhero or a secret service agent to enjoy hidden spaces in your home. No matter what you have to hide, a secret room or passage can keep it concealed.

Posted in Home Design
Aug. 4, 2017

Home design trends of the next decade

 

Over 500 residential architects participated in the American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends survey recently and the following emerged as the most significant home design trends for the next decade:

 

Smart home technology: everything from appliances to temperature control and security will see huge smart technology growth in the home designs of the coming decade.

Healthier homes: Expect an increase in earth-friendly, organic elements from paint to natural fiber, air purification systems and natural wood.

Disaster-proofing: They predict home homeowners will become interested in shoring up their homes against natural disaster with possibilities to include elevating homes, stronger windows, backup generators and even safe rooms, depending on the area of the country.

Energy-efficiency: This movement have been popular for quite some time, but the interest is expected to grow in solar panel, tankless water heaters and water reclamation systems.

Age-in-Place: Why not? Wider hallways, handrails, more one level living are convenient at any time, but especially for homeowners who want to age in place.

Home offices: As more people telecommute, home office space will receive a bit more attention.

Kitchens, both inside and out: The kitchen remains the heart of the home and they predict the open concept design will stay. In addition, outdoor kitchens/outdoor rooms are expected to become more popular with homeowners in the upcoming decade.

Posted in Home Design
July 27, 2017

Real Estate Trends and Perceptions

 

 

Whether you're interested in buying or selling a home this year, there's reason to be optimistic. See how a healthy real estate market and positive consumer sentiments are contributing to a buoyant housing sector.

 

Real Estate Trends

The U.S. housing market continues its recovery as home prices gradually increase, interest rates remain low and millennials represent the largest group of homebuyers for the fourth year in a row. There's been a slight increase in historically low interest rates, but that's an indication of an improving economy. Single women homebuyers exceed single men buyers in the U.S. by more than double, accounting for 17 percent of homebuyers (compared to single men at 7 percent). U.S. home values are expected to keep inching up while the inventory of available homes continues to decline.

 

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), there is considerable divergence among regions. Tighter federal regulations have reduced affordability and access to financing for potential homebuyers, sales are down and prices are trending soft. National sales activity is forecast to decrease 1.5 percent in 2017 and 0.8 percent in 2018.

 

Consumer Sentiments

The 2017 Q1 Housing Opportunities and Market Experience report published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows favorable sentiments among American consumers. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed thought it was a good time to buy, and 69 percent felt it was a good time to sell. More than half said they believed home prices in their community had increased over the previous 12 months. And renters and suburban homeowners, in particular, felt that prices would continue to rise in the second half of the year.

 

 

In another NAR report, the Aspiring Home Buyer Profile, nine in 10 nonhomeowners in the U.S. expressed a desire to own a home. Fortunately, if the market trends and consumer perceptions are any indications, 2017 could very well be the year many renters realize their dream of homeownership.

July 12, 2017

Ideas for Adding Shade

 

Adding Shade to Your Yard or Patio

 

Summer is a fun season to enjoy time outside with friends and family -- provided you have sufficient coverage from the sun. Stay cool and comfortable by adding shade to your yard or patio with the ideas below.

Overhead Hangs for the Patio
One popular way to create shade is to string up outdoor fabric and make a retractable awning or canopy. Shade sails are another versatile and inexpensive way to diffuse the sun's rays. If your outdoor space lacks the columns or posts to attach fabric, a large area umbrella is a fail-safe way to keep covered.

A Natural Solution
Like the idea of natural sun blockers? Potted citrus trees add a nice touch and can be moved around as the sun shifts. Wood structures such as a trellis or pergola also make a beautiful statement while creating shady areas. Both are designed to support climbing plants like ivy, morning glory, clematis and bougainvillea.

Surrounded by Shade
For a more closed-in arrangement, try canvas curtains, bamboo blinds or solar shades. Each of these sun blockers is adjustable, making it a breeze to raise them up or down (or to the side) depending on the sun's position and your desired level of coverage.

Whether you're looking to dine alfresco, relax outside with a good book or visit with friends and family, a covered patio is an ideal spot. Just remember: Before you start putting up structures to block the sun, review your homeowners association or rental agreement rules as some options may require permission.

Posted in Home Design
July 11, 2017

Seller optimism reaches all time high – with good reason. Time for an updated market analysis?



The market is dramatically different and seller optimism is at an all time high!

 

Did you consider selling your home a few years ago but decided against it because you had not recovered enough equity from the downturn?  Time to talk to your agent again because things have changed. 93% of homeowners have regained equity in their property.

Time for an updated comparative market analysis

Maybe you sat down with an agent several years ago and really wanted to list, but just could not pull the trigger at that time because the value was too low.  You’ll likely be happily surprised when you call back that agent for another market analysis. Home prices have been rising steadily in recent years and the Wisconsin real estate market is doing great. Buyers right now are fighting over homes. This is driving multiple over-asking offers within days of listing.  It is clearly a good time to be a seller.

 

A recent Fannie Mae survey indicated that seller optimism has reached a record high and other stats:

30% of consumers think now is a good time to buy a home, up 3% from May

39% of consumers think now is a good time to sell, up 7% from May

46% think that home prices will rise, up 6% from May

66% are not worried about losing their job

 

  or Create your own market report

 

 

June 28, 2017

Staging Tips to Help Your Home Sell

In real estate, staging a home and selling a home often go hand in hand. Though the process can be involved, the results are indisputable. Need some help executing an effective home staging? Browse this list of resources to help you dazzle prospective buyers and increase your chances of a quick home sale.

Clear Clutter 
Not only will decluttering your property make moving day easier, but clearing space also gives viewers room to visualize themselves living in your space. Some items you can sell or donate outright. What about the housewares or sentimental objects you want to hold on to but need to remove to optimize showings? Give them a temporary home in a storage unit or portable moving container.

Set Up Your Space 
Focus on staging the rooms that see the most action: the living room, kitchen and master bedroom. If reinventing multiple rooms in your home is too expensive, you do have the option of renting furniture and accessories. It's a quick way to supply art for the walls, lamps to improve lighting or even an entire suite of furniture. Just be sure to sign with a furniture rental company that offers delivery and pickup as part of their packages. When you're getting ready to move, the last thing you want is to ferry furniture between multiple locations.

Hire Help
Some homeowners aren't up to the task of a full home staging, and that's OK. Some selling agents offer the service as part of their contract, or you can hire an independent home stager to complete the job. The latter provide a valuable service, though it's important to carefully assess their qualifications before bringing them on. Review their certifications, testimonials and portfolio to ensure they can help you achieve the aesthetic your home needs for a faster sale.

June 14, 2017

Tips for Planning a Bathroom Update

Do you want to improve the aesthetics of your bathroom? Before you disrupt your household with the hassle of a remodel, make sure you're prepared. Familiarize yourself with this cost and ROI overview to help guide the planning process.

What Does This Type of Remodel Cost? 
The first step to organizing a bathroom remodeling project is setting a budget. Understanding the potential costs involved can help you decide whether you're working on a complete overhaul or focusing your resources on a few select changes.

Homeowners who make bathroom updates usually hope to recover at least a portion of their investment. An upscale bathroom remodel is among the projects that see the largest percentages of value increase year over year. But a high-end revamp can cost tens of thousands. If you're working with a more modest budget, going with simple changes like updates to light fixtures, sinks, toilets and the like can refresh your space for significantly less.

What Should You Change?
When planning bathroom renovations, it's always smart to fix what's broken first, especially since replacement projects see larger returns (74 percent) than remodeling ones (63.7 percent).

Once you've tackled any necessary replacements, make investment-savvy design selections that add value for you and your family. Trade out the garden tub for an expansive shower, add granite countertops or upgrade the vanity, ventilation or lighting. Finding what most benefits your family can lead to greater satisfaction years after the project's completion.

With budgeting sense and some design know-how, you'll have the confidence you need to initiate a successful bathroom remodel.