Investing in your home

Today’s Smart Homes

Many people grew up with the idea that one day we would all be living in homes like the Jetsons’, the 1960s cartoon family living in the future, with a closet that showers and dresses you and a robot that makes your breakfast. While homes aren’t yet quite there, smart home technology has advanced leaps and bounds in recent years and has become more popular than ever.

Technology has changed the way we live in and interact with our homes. Smart homes can be programmed to react to their owner and tailored to fit with a person’s lifestyle – homeowners can even design the home to meet their specific needs.

Here are a few ways smart home technology can be utilized:

Security. New products allow homeowners to monitor their homes from a distance—even internationally. Owners can lock doors and windows from their portable computers, or access security camera recordings from a mobile device. It’s not just about keeping the property safe, it’s about keeping you and your family safe too. Fire, carbon monoxide and gas leak alarms that connect to your smartphone can give you peace of mind that everything is all right in your home even when you aren’t physically there.

Energy Savings. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to program their home’s temperature and adjust it even after they’ve left, avoiding any needless heating or cooling of an empty house. Automated lighting programs let people turn the lights on and off in their home from their smartphone or laptop from anywhere in the world. Smart green features have been in high demand for years now. These products not only help the environment but also bring your electricity and water bills down, saving you money.

Convenience. One of the main appeals of smart homes is that they can make the home owner’s life easier. A garage door opener connected to your smartphone and a sprinkler system that syncs with the weather forecast so the lawn is never watered when it’s raining are all features that simplify day-to-day life. Soon, instead of having to check the refrigerator to see if anything is running low, a homeowner will receive a text message from their smart kitchen reminding him or her to buy eggs.

Although the benefits that these technologies provide are numerous, it is important not lose sight of the risks smart homes can pose to the owner’s privacy. As smart technology becomes more established in homes, it becomes even more important that the necessary precautions are taken to protect data and privacy. That’s why the National Association of Realtors® worked with the Online Trust Alliance, a non-profit with the mission to enhance online trust, to create the Smart Home Checklist. The checklist offers guidance to home buyers and sellers about how to stay in control of the privacy and security of their smart home technology.


Tips for Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Your home’s curb appeal is the first chance to impress potential buyers. Whether buyers are wowed by a beautiful and well-maintained yard or are repelled by dirty exterior walls and an overgrown lawn can significantly impact your home’s sales price if you’re thinking of selling it this spring.

When buyers pull up to a house, they want to be able to picture themselves living in and coming home to it. Dead grass and chipped paint can make that all the more difficult to visualize. Making sure your home is prepared, both inside and out, before you put it on the market could help it sell faster and for top dollar.

Here are a few tips to make sure your curb appeal is making the best impression on potential buyers:

•Clean your house.
It’s not only the inside of your home that needs to be kept clean of dirt and grime, the outside of your home should be just as spotless. Clean your outer walls with soapy water and wash your windows inside and out. According to Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS, washing your house can substantially raise the sale price.

•A new coat of paint.
After you’ve cleaned your home’s exterior, the next step is to apply a fresh coat of paint. A new coat of paint is like a face-lift for your home. But don’t try to make a statement with your home’s color. If your home is a wildly different color from the other homes in your neighborhood, it could negatively affect a buyer’s perception of the home’s value.

•A well-manicured yard.
Your front yard creates your home’s first impression to prospective buyers, so make sure that your lawn is green and trimmed and your shrubs and flower beds are well tended. It is important to keep your yard neat, raking any fallen leaves and pulling any weeds. If there is a barren tree in your front yard, cut it down and replace it with grass.

•Repair the roof.
If your roof is damaged, dirty or missing shingles, it can have a negative impact on the value of your home. If your neighbors’ roofs are well maintained or have been recently replaced, it will make yours look especially ragged. Sometimes a good cleaning is all you need to have your roof look like new. However, that isn’t a project you will want to take on yourself without the proper equipment; hire a professional with the right tools and training, who will be able to clean your roof without damaging it.

By making a few simple changes to your home’s exterior, you can increase your home’s value and hopefully help it sell more quickly this spring.

Realtors® Rate Most Cost Effective Home Improvement Projects

Realtors® from across the country have rated several home improvement projects that will not only add value to your home but will also recoup most of their costs upon resale. The 2015 Cost vs. Value Report helps owners decide if a project is worth the time and financial investments.

Deciding to take on a home improvement project can be overwhelming for many homeowners, and especially if they are trying to choose a project that will give them the biggest bang for their buck. Realtors® know hat features will be most attractive to potential buyers and this report provides homeowners with that insight.

Curb appeal has always been important, so makes sense that the top five remodeling projects from the 2015 Cost vs. Value Report that will give you the highest return on investment are all smaller, exterior improvements.

Steel Entry Door. For the second year in a row, Realtors® have named the steel entry door the number one home improvement project when it comes to seeing a return on your investment. It is also consistently the least expensive project in the report, costing about $1,200 on average; it was also the only project on this year’s list to recoup more than 100 percent of its cost at resale on a national level.

Manufactured Stone Veneer. This decorative building material is made to replicate the look of natural stone for a substantially lower price. This is the first year manufactured stone veneer has appeared in the Cost vs. Value report. On average, the project will cost around $7,150 and will recoup 92.2 percent of your investment.

Garage Door Replacement. Upgrading your garage door can update the entire exterior of your home, not to mention enhancing curb appeal. The garage door is one of the first things a potential buyer will see. It is part of the first impression your home gives, so it is important that it looks its best. A midrange steel garage door averages $1,595 and will recoup you 88.4 percent of your investment.

Fiber-Cement Siding. This high-end siding is resistant to termites, rot, moisture and fire. It is also incredibly stable and does not flex, meaning you’ll save money on less frequent repainting. This project will average you $14,014, and you can expect a return on investment of 84.3 percent.

Wood Deck Addition. An outdoor entertaining space is a large draw for many buyers. A deck provides a large amount of living area and at $30 per square foot it is a fraction of the cost of an indoor addition. The average cost for this project is $10,048 and recover 80.5 percent of your investment.

Before taking on any of these projects it is important to remember that all real estate is local. According to the Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS, every neighborhood is unique and the popularity and resale value of a specific remodeling project varies from community to community. This is why it is so important to work with a Realtor®. Realtors® have unparalleled knowledge of local market conditions and can help you decide which projects will deliver the most return on investment in your area.

The 2015 Cost vs. Value Report is published by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC and is done in collaboration with the National Association of Realtors®. Additional data from the report can be found at NAR’s consumer website,

Realtors Rate Remodeling Projects, Provide Improvement Guidance to Homeowners

When it comes to remodeling, homeowners often wonder if a project is worth the investment. According to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, several remodeling projects are not only valuable, but also return more than 78 percent of their costs upon resale. Many of those projects are exterior replacement projects, which Realtors® rated having the biggest bang for the buck.

Exterior projects such as entry door, siding and window replacements can recoup homeowners a substantial amount upon resale. These types of projects are essential to home maintenance, so the good news is many homeowners are already doing them. Another plus is that these projects are generally inexpensive, and besides keeping your home functioning properly, they also add instant curb appeal. This is especially important if you are considering selling.

The 2014 Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale value for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects in 100 markets across the country. Realtors® provided their insight into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. Overall Realtors® estimated that homeowners would recoup an average of 66.1 percent of their investment in 35 different improvement projects, an increase of 5.5 points over last year and the largest increase since 2005. For the second consecutive year, the value of remodeling is up for all of the projects included in the survey.

Eight of the top-10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior projects. Realtors® judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 96.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. It’s consistently the least expensive project, costing little more than $1,100 on average. Other worthwhile exterior projects included two different siding replacement projects, including fiber-cement siding, expected to return 87 percent of costs, and vinyl siding, expected to return 78.2 percent of costs. Two garage door replacement projects were also in the top 10, both expected to recoup more than 82 percent of costs. Rounding out the top exterior projects were two window replacement projects; wood window replacement and vinyl window replacement both recoup more than 78 percent of their costs.

Each neighborhood is different and the desirability and resale value of a particular remodeling project varies. That is why it’s important to work with a Realtor®. A Realtor® is the best resource for helping homeowners decide what improvement projects will provide the most return upon resale in your market. Realtors® have a unique understanding of local markets, desirable home features and buyer preferences.

In addition to the exterior projects, two particular interior remodeling projects can recoup substantial value at resale. An attic bedroom is expected to return 84.3 percent of costs, and a minor kitchen remodel is estimated to recoup 82.7 percent of costs. The improvement project estimated to return the least at resale is a home office remodel, estimated to recoup only 48.9 percent.

The 2014 Cost vs. Value Report is published by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC and is done in collaboration with the National Association of Realtors®. Additional data for the report can be found at NAR’s consumer website, The website includes a wide variety of ideas and projects to help homeowners maintain, enhance and improve the value of their home.

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Walkable, Mixed-Use Communities Most Desirable, Say REALTORS

Most homeowners would agree that the location of their home is just as important as the home itself.

That’s why consumers cite community as one of the most important factors when choosing a home. Recent research has shown that most homebuyers say their ideal community is one with a mix of houses, stores and other businesses that are easily walkable, rather than neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation.

According to the National Association of Realtors® 2013 Community Preference Survey, respondents noted that while the size of the property does matter, consumers are willing to compromise size for their preferred neighborhood and less commuting. When asked to identify their ideal community, the most popular choice was a suburban neighborhood with a mix of houses, shops and businesses. The least popular was a suburban neighborhood with just houses.

More and more consumers are being drawn to mixed-use neighborhoods that come with shorter commutes and more walkable areas. Realtors® care about improving communities and we recognize that growth patterns, economic development and quality-of-life issues are closely linked to the success of a community and its residents.

The survey showed that a majority of Americans prefer houses with small yards and easy to walks to schools, stores and restaurants, over houses with large yards that require owners to drive to schools, stores and restaurants. An even larger majority prefer a house with a smaller yard and a shorter commute to work, over houses with larger yards and a longer commute.

While Americans say they prefer walkable communities, it seems they do so only to a certain point. The survey found that a majority of consumers responded that they prefer communities where it is easier to walk and their commute is shorter; however, when comparing a detached single-family house to an apartment or townhouse, the detached home wins out – even with a longer commute and more driving.

Today’s buyers want a community where they can walk to shopping, restaurants and schools. Yet buyers aren’t willing to compromise on a single-family house; they want the house and the walkable community.

The Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS says the survey seems to suggest a growing momentum away from the sprawling suburban environments of the past and toward mixed-use and pedestrian-friendly communities.

Consumers’ attitudes are changing and it’s becoming evident that suburban neighborhoods – where amenities are spread out – aren’t as desirable as they once were. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task. Realtors® realize the healthier a community, the better the environment for consumers. That’s why we work hard to improve the community and the lives of those who live in it.

REALTORS Rate Exterior Replacement Project

REALTORS Rate Exterior Replacement Projects Among Most Valuable Home Improvements

2014 Home Trends – what’s in for new year

2014 Home Trends – what’s in for new year.