Archive for May, 2011

Avoid 4 common remodeling mistakes

By Josh Garskof, Money magazine April 11, 2011: 3:53 PM ET

(MONEY Magazine) — The road to bad remodeling is paved with good intentions. Anyone tackling a major project wants his home to look and work better — and to get a reasonable return on investment. But renos are packed with so much stress and emotion that it’s easy to go wrong.

“I see homebuyers discount brand-new kitchens and bathrooms all the time — especially in this market,” says Curt Schultz, a realtor-architect-builder in Pasadena.

Read on to learn how to keep from falling into these four common traps.

1. Being a slave to fashion

The more up-to-the-minute your project is today, the more out-of-date it will seem in five or 10 years.

Skip trends such as glass tiles, wire-hung track lighting, and vessel sinks (the kind that sit on the countertop like a salad bowl), says Schultz.

Instead, go with classic choices that match the house’s original style.

For a bathroom in a 1920s colonial, for example, that might mean a white pedestal sink and subway-tile wainscoting, but those choices wouldn’t look so timeless in a 1980s contemporary.

You can find retailers specializing in period products at traditional-building.com

2. Skimping on the design

The payoff you’ll get on a redo will diminish if the project isn’t well thought out, says Omaha appraiser John Bredemeyer, spokesman for the Appraisal Institute, a standards-setting organization.

If you’re building an addition or moving interior walls, it’s worth spending $1,000 to $3,000 to hire an architect (to draw a plan, not project-manage).

True, many contractors and showroom salespeople/designers can provide plans, but they don’t have an architect’s specialized training.

3. Over investing in the kitchen

Yes, great kitchens sell houses.

But there’s a limit to what you can recoup for granite countertops and commercial-grade appliances. Because the kitchen generally represents 5% to 15% of a home’s value, limit your kitchen renovation budget to that range — and do the work only if your kitchen is in really bad shape, says Bredemeyer. (Estimate your home’s value at zillow.com.)

4. Counting on a big pay-back for going green

Greater energy efficiency alone rarely justifies a pricey project.

Take windows. Window companies may tell you that replacing old ones ($300 to $1,200 each) will knock 50% off your energy bills. But windows really account for only about 15% of a house’s heat loss, says Jerry Thatcher of Energy Diagnostics, a green-building certifier in Valparaiso, Ind., so you’d save just $50 to $175 a year.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t go ahead with new windows. As long as they match your home’s style, new windows will add value. They’ll open and shut easier, tilt in for cleaning, and reduce draftiness — they just won’t pay for themselves too.

Home Sales Slow After Strong First Quarter

Vancouver, BC – May 12, 2011. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential unit sales in the province declined 14 per cent to 7,187 units in April compared to the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price climbed 16 per cent to $598,308 last month compared to April 2010.

“BC home sales edged lower in April as the result of home purchases that were pulled forward during the first quarter,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “The province’s housing markets continue to exhibit a two steps forward, one step back trajectory in tandem with economic and employment growth.”

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 14 per cent to $15.4 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales edged back one per cent to 26,334 units, while the average MLS® residential price rose 15.5 per cent to $586,466 over the same period.

For the complete news release, including detailed statistics, follow this link: www.bcrea.bc.ca/news_room/2011-04.pdf.

HST Feedback Survey, BC gov’t

http://www.hstinbc.ca/survey

REBGV Market Summary, April 2011

April Stats: Greater Vancouver housing market sees typical spring activity in April

Greater Vancouver saw a typical, solid month of residential home sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April, in contrast to the near record pace witnessed in the two preceding months.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver reached 3,225 in April 2011, an 8.2 per cent decrease compared to the 3,512 sales in April 2010 and a 21 per cent decline compared to the 4,080 sales in March 2011.

Looking back further, last month’s residential sales represent an 8.8 per cent increase over the 2,963 residential sales in April 2009, relatively unchanged compared to April 2008, and a 4.8 per cent decline compared to the 3,387 sales in April 2007.

“While it continues to be a seller’s market in Greater Vancouver, last month’s activity brought greater balance between supply and demand in the overall marketplace,” Rosario Setticasi, REBGV president said. “The year-over-year decline in April sales can be attributed to a less active condominium market on our MLS®, as there were more detached and townhome sales this April compared to last year.”

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