Tips for Homeowners

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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August local housing stats http://www.lo

August local housing stats

Realtor® Code of Ethics Protecting Consumers for 100 Years


Working with a Realtor® gives buyers, sellers and investors many advantages they need to succeed in today’s real estate market. One of those advantages is the assurance that Realtors® subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics which provides their clients with the highest degree of professionalism, ethics and service. And this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Realtor® Code of Ethics.

Not all real estate licensees are Realtors. Only those who are a member of NAR can use the term “Realtor®” and subscribe to the Code of Ethics as a condition of NAR membership.

The Code is a comprehensive document spelling out professional responsibilities owed to clients, other Realtors® and the general public. All Realtors® must take comprehensive training on NAR’s Code of Ethics at least once every four years to retain their membership. Adopted in 1913, NAR was only the second trade or business group in the U.S. to adopt mandatory ethical standards for its members.

Real estate is a business based on trust, and working ethically is a way to build trustworthy relationships. Buying and selling a home is a major, life-altering decision, and buyers and sellers need to be able to depend on their Realtor® to guide them through the process with their best interests in mind. The Code helps provide an added layer of security to help Realtors® do just that.

Consisting of 17 articles organized into duties to clients and customers, the public and Realtors®, the Code outlines numerous professional responsibilities. For instance, Realtors® must be honest with all parties in the real estate transaction, including their client, other Realtors® or real estate agents and their clients. Realtors® should also be forthcoming with all parties by disclosing all pertinent facts regarding the property and the transaction. If something seems questionable about a property, the Realtor® is obligated to investigate and make recommendations that buyers consult their own expert and inspectors. In addition, Realtors® must be truthful in advertising and communications with the public. When distributing newsletters, creating websites or placing advertisements, Realtors® must represent only their work and not take credit for the work of another real estate professional.

Consumers can read more about the Code of Ethics and can find a summary of the Code that explains how it benefits them at

8 Tips to Make Your Remodel More Energy-Efficient and Your Home Healthier

January 2013 Blog 2

As long as you’re remodeling, why not cut your utility bills and make your home a bit healthier too?
Here are eight tips that can help save energy and create a healthier environment inside your home.

Check for water intrusion, condensation and excess moisture before you begin the project.
Excess moisture encourages mold growth. Fixing those issues during remodeling can improve your home’s indoor air quality.

Use the least amount of framing allowed by your building code when adding walls
Not only will you have to pay for less lumber, the contractor will have more room to put insulation in your walls, making your home more energy-efficient.

Resist the urge to splurge on multiple showerheads
Opt for a single low-flow showerhead rather than installing a car wash-style plethora of showerheads.

Add new HVAC ducts to parts of your home that are heated and cooled
Try not to place ducts in a space with unconditioned air (like the attic). If that’s not possible, insulate the ducts. Have an HVAC diagnostician analyze your system to make sure it’s sized correctly and balanced to properly exchange old and new air.

Insulate around recessed lights that protrude into uninsulated attic spaces
These are major sources of air leaks.

If you’re wasting water, you’re wasting energy
Look at high-efficiency or solar water heaters, and insulate your water pipes. If you want hot water faster, move the water heater closer to the faucet or install demand pumps to drive hot water to the fixture.

Install wall-mounted efficiency toggle switch plates
Install wall-mounted efficiency toggle switch plates to make it easy to cut off the power to electronics you’re not using such as your television and computer.

Install a humidistat that automatically turns on the bathroom fan
Reducing bathroom moisture reduces the chances that you’ll have mold.

Should you move or remodel?

Deciding whether you should move or remodel is a big decision. The most important things you need to consider, before you make this decision, are the four things you can’t change: 

*Your home’s value compared to the rest of the neighborhood
* How much you love your neighborhoodThe size of your lot
* The cost to move your stuff to a new house 

Just about everything else — remodeling costs, the hassle of living in a construction zone, or the ability to live happily without one more bathroom — is a personal preference.

 1. Will remodeling make your home better than everyone else’s?

To make the right move-or-remodel decision, you have to know:                      

*Your home’s value. Easy. Just ask a Realtor® to estimate it and tell you how it compares with the value of the other homes in your immediate neighborhood. Ask your Realtor® what your house will be worth after the improvements too.

*Your neighbors’ home value. Hit some open houses. Seeing the inside of area homes will inspire you; help you make good choices about finishes, room sizes, and how much to spend; and, admit it, entertain you.

*Your remodeling costs. Once you’ve got your renovation vision, get a quote from a home improvement contractor or, if you’re remodeling it yourself, tally the costs of the items on your supplies shopping list.

 *Then add the remodeling costs to the value of your home. If the number you get is more than 10% above the average value of homes in your neighborhood, you’re over-improving and probably won’t be able to sell for what you put into the remodel.

 2. Do you love where you live?

Want to keep your kids in the same school district, but can’t find or afford a bigger, better house? Love the neighbors? Have an easy commute to work? Stay put. If you’ve soured on the traffic, the neighborhood’s crime rate, or the nosy neighbors, move on. 

3. Do you have room to expand?

If your remodeling plans include increasing the overall size of your home, the size of your lot may be the deciding factor in whether to move or remodel. If you live in a 1,500 sq. ft. ranch on a 3,000 sq. ft. lot, you might be able to add a second story to turn it into a 3,000 sq. ft. two-story, but you’re not likely to add 1,500 sq. ft. at ground level. And if you have a septic tank and well, the location of those will limit how and where you add onto your home (or cost you a bundle to move).

 4. Can you afford to move?

Consider these moving costs: closing costs for your existing home, shipping your household goods, buying window treatments and possibly furniture for the new house, costs to fix up your existing home before the sale, higher utility costs (if your next house is larger), insurance cost differences, and property taxes.

 For help with making the final decision on whether to move or remodel, contact your local Realtor®.

REALTORS Help Keep Older Americans in their Homes

With a recovery in home prices and strong market conditions the housing market is beginning to show steady signs of improvement. Despite these positive signs many homeowners continue to struggle and face foreclosure. According to a recent AARP report, 1.5 million Americans over the age of 50 have lost their homes to foreclosure between 2007 and 2011, with older African Americans and Hispanics hit the hardest. 

AARP also reported that millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than 3 million are at risk of losing their home. Older minorities are facing foreclosure rates that are almost double those faced by white borrowers in the same age group.  

“REALTORS care as much about keeping families in their homes as they do about helping them find the home of their dreams,” said Louise Miller, President of the Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS . “When someone loses their home to foreclosure, families, our communities, the housing market and our economy all suffer. REALTORS are working hard to keep more people, especially older Americans in their homes.” 

The National Association of Realtors® has long urged lenders to take more aggressive steps to modify loans and keep struggling families in their homes. 

“Significantly reducing monthly mortgage payments will help more families remain current on their mortgage and allow them to remain in their home, reducing the impact of foreclosures on families and local home prices,” said Miller. “Loan modifications limit the losses incurred by homeowners, lenders, the federal government and taxpayers, which is good for everyone. The housing market has still not fully recovered and many more Americans will face foreclosure. We must do all we can keep homeowners in their homes.” 

When staying in a home is not possible, a REALTOR can help sellers navigate complicated real estate transactions, whether completing a short sale or finding a new home. According to the Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS, all REALTORS have access to advanced educational opportunities and training in real estate specialties, specifically short sales and foreclosures, as well as the senior market.

REALTORS who have earned the Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification have advanced training in managing the complexities of transactions that involve foreclosed homes and short sales. The SFR certification is the only one of its kind that focuses on both the buyer and seller sides of distressed property transactions.    

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation educates REALTORS on how to best serve the real estate needs of Americans over the age of 50 – the fastest growing market in real estate. Seniors are buying and selling for a variety of reasons that include being closer to family, living out post-retirement dreams and addressing health concerns.

“Understanding the life circumstances and motivating factors for why seniors move and having the ability to counsel these clients on their options is a distinction that sets a REALTOR apart from the pack,” said Miller “Buying and selling a home can be an emotional process, and REALTORS can be trusted to stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues that are most important to their clients.”

Invest in a home, not Facebook

Like many Americans, you may wonder if overnight success in the stock market is worth the risk of investing. With Facebook’s stock going public recently, interest in stock equity has risen significantly. However, the best way for Americans to ensure wealth is to invest in home equity.  

More than half of Americans invest in home equity while fewer than half invest in stock equity, showing the strength and reliability of investing in home ownership. Simply making house payments may be a better investment than risking money on the next big initial public marketing.

Some believe that renting a home is cheaper than owning a home and will save you more money in the long run. However, the exact opposite is true: owning a home rather than renting allows homeowners to see greater financial gain. Renters are more likely to spend money than save it, while homeowners are the opposite. That means more money in the bank for a longer period of time, which quickly adds up.

Money saved in the bank is less likely to go toward a major stock investment and is more likely to accumulate wealth as you head toward retirement. For more information and interesting statistics about home equity, keep checking back here.