Relocating Your Home to Advance Your Career

Many of us dream of getting a better job. But when a promotion or new job opportunity comes with a request to relocate, the result can be very disruptive to your home life. There’s a lot to consider when making this kind of move, such as do you have a home to sell? Are you planning to rent or buy when you relocate? Is your employer covering some of the costs of your relocation? Should you hire a moving company or handle the move yourself? Following is an overview of some of the most important factors you should take into consideration when relocating.

Assessing the situation

The idea of moving to a new area and into a new job can be very exciting, but you’ll want to assess the situation carefully:

  • Do your best to make sure the job is a good fit, the boss is a good personality match (and plans to stay long-term), and that you’ll be comfortable in your new role for at least three years.
  • Meet with a human resources manager to make sure you understand all the details of the relocation package.
  • Thoroughly research your destination to ensure it’s a good fit for your entire family, and that there are other potential employers in the area in the event your new job doesn’t work out.
  • Use one of the online cost-of-living calculators to determine if there’s a significant difference between what you pay now (for rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, gas, insurance, and more) and what you can expect to pay in the new location.
  • If your spouse works or is planning to enter the workforce, he or she should apply for jobs in the area to test the employment conditions.
  • Ask your real estate agent to perform a detailed market analysis to estimate the value of your current home.
  • If you live in an apartment, review your lease carefully to determine if you are facing any penalties for moving out.

Renting versus buying

Once you have made the decision to relocate it’s time to consider your housing options—not only where you live and what type of home you want to live in, but whether to rent or buy.

Financially speaking, it makes more sense to buy today than to rent in most markets. According to the latest research on the subject, it costs 15 percent less to own a home than to rent an apartment in the current economy. That said, renting may be a better option if:

  • You can’t decide where you want to live.
  • You don’t qualify for a home loan.
  • You need to keep your current home and can’t afford a second home.
  • You’re moving to an area where home prices are extremely high (e.g., New York City, San Francisco, Orange County).
  • You’re not yet certain whether you’ll want to stay long-term in the new location.

Moving your belongings

Fewer and fewer companies are offering to pay employee moving costs today, which means it may be up to you to arrange for one of the following options:

  • Hire out the entire process (the moving company does all the packing, loading, driving, and unloading). Expect to pay between $6,000 to $8,000, on average.
  • You pack all the boxes while the moving company does all the loading, driving and unloading. Expect to pay between $3,500 and $5,500, on average.
  • You rent a truck and do all the packing/unpacking and driving. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000, on average.

Making the move easier

Relocating can be exhilarating, but also extremely stressful—especially if you have school-age children or teens. Here are four tips to make the process easier:

  • Get everyone in the family talking about their feelings and concerns. And make sure you’re doing as much listening as talking.
  • If you have children, include them in the planning and packing work to make them feel more involved. You may want to hold a going-away party for your children, to show that the move is worth celebrating.
  • If you have pets, ask your veterinarian, your moving company, and your airline (if you’ll be flying) to provide you with information, tips and any regulations.
  • To protect yourself from identity theft, only work with trustworthy moving companies; submit a change-of-address form to the post office about two weeks before your move; consider moving financial records and other personal files yourself.

Last year, the overwhelming majority of people (77 percent) who decided to move for work reported they were happy and had no regrets.

The post Relocating Your Home to Advance Your Career appeared first on Best Real Estate Agents in Northern Colorado.

Six Key Factors That Affect the Sales Price of Your Home

Pricing a home for sale is not nearly as simple as most people think. You can’t base the price on what the house down the street sold for. You can’t depend on tax assessments. Even automatic valuation methods (AVMs), while useful for a rough estimate of value, are unreliable for purposes of pricing a home for sale.

AVMs, like those used by Zillow and Eppraisal, have been used for many years by banks for appraisal purposes. They are derived from algorithms based on past sales. But producers of AVMs agree that they are not accurate indicators of home value. For example, Zillow.com states, “Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home. Remember, the Zestimate is a starting point and does not consider all the market intricacies that can determine the actual price a house will sell for. It is not an appraisal.”

So what does Zillow recommend sellers do instead? The same thing the real estate industry has been advising for decades: Ask a real estate agent who knows your neighborhood to provide you with a comparative market analysis. To accomplish that, I typically consider the following factors—plus others, depending on the house:

Location

The location of your home will have the biggest impact on how much it can sell for. Identical homes located just blocks apart can fetch significantly different prices based on location-specific conditions unique to each, including: traffic, freeway-access, noise, crime, sun exposure, views, parking, neighboring homes, vacant lots, foreclosures, the number of surrounding rentals, access to quality schools, parks, shops, restaurants and more.

Recommendation: Be willing to price your house for less if it’s located in a less desirable area or near a neighborhood nuisance.

Market

Another major factor that also can’t be controlled is your local housing market (which could be quite different from the national, state or city housing markets). If there are few other homes on the market in your local area (a situation known as a “sellers market”), you may be able to set a higher price. However, if there’s a surplus of homes like yours for sale (a “buyer’s market”), your pricing will also reflect that.

Recommendation: If it’s a buyer’s market and you can delay selling your home until things change, you should consider doing so. If you can’t wait, be willing to price your home extremely competitively, especially if you are in a hurry to sell.

Condition

The majority of buyers are not looking to purchase fixer-uppers, which is why any deferred maintenance and repair issues can also significantly impact the selling price of your home. When your home’s condition is different than the average condition of homes in your location, AVMs tend to produce the widest range of error.

Recommendation:  Hire a professional home inspector to provide you with a full, written report of everything that needs upgrading, maintenance or repair, then work with your real estate agent to prioritize the list and decide what items are worth completing before the property is listed for sale, and what should be addressed through a lower list price. Also, some defects are best addressed during negotiations with buyers.

Widespread appeal

If you want to sell your home quickly and for the most money, you have to make it as appealing as possible to the largest pool of prospective buyers. The more universally attractive it is, the greater the interest and the faster competing offers will come.

Recommendation:

Hire a professional home stager (not a decorator) to temporarily stage the interior of your home. Also spend time making the exterior look its best: address any peeling paint, make sure the front door/ door hardware is attractive, prune bushes and trees, remove old play equipment and outdoor structures, etc.

Compare homes

The only neighboring homes that should be used to estimate the value of your home are those that have been carefully selected by a real estate professional with special training, access to all sales records, and in-depth knowledge of the neighborhood.

Recommendation: If you’re considering selling your home, ask your real estate agent to recommend a professional appraiser.

Searchability

When working with a prospective buyer, most real estate agents will search the available inventory only for the homes priced at (or less than) their client’s maximum, which is typically a round number. If your home is priced slightly above or below that amount (e.g., $510,000 or $495,000), it will appear in fewer buyer searches.

Recommendation: Be willing to adjust your selling price to maximize visibility.

Periodic price adjustments

Pricing a home isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposal. As with any strategy, you need to be prepared to adapt to fast-changing market conditions, new competition, a lack of offers and other outside factors.

Recommendation: After listing your house, be ready to adjust your asking price, if necessary.

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Investing in Rental Property: The Risks, Rewards, and Benefits of Owning Rental Property

One area of the real estate market that is thriving right now is rental property.

All indications suggest that the rental market will continue to improve because of low vacancy rates and rising rents. In fact, the demand for rentals is predicted to far exceed supply through 2016, with 4.5 million new renters expected to enter the market in the next five years.

What to consider before buying a rental

Being a landlord has its challenges. The recession took a toll on rental prices for a few years and any future economic downturns could do the same. Once the job market returns to normal, there’s a strong possibility that more people will choose to move from rentals into homes of their own. And the demand for rental properties could become over saturated at some point, resulting in an investment bubble of its own.

What’s more, while the income from a rental property can be significant, it can take at least five years before you’re making much more than what you need just to cover the mortgage and expenses. In other words, the return on your investment doesn’t happen overnight.

However, in the long run, if you select the right property, it could turn out to be one of your best investment decisions ever—especially since rental real estate provides more tax benefits than almost any other investment.

Tax deductions for the taking

One of the greatest things about owning rental properties is the fact that you’re able to deduct so many of the associated expenses, including a sizeable portion of your monthly mortgage payment.

The commissions and fees paid to obtain your mortgage are not deductible, but the mortgage interest you pay each month is, including any money you pay into an escrow account to cover taxes and insurance. Whatever your mortgage company reports as interest on your 1098 form at the end of each year can likely be deducted.

For example, you may be eligible to deduct credit card interest for goods and services used in a rental activity, repairs made to the building, travel related to your rental (local or long distance), expenses related to home office or workshop devoted to your rental, the wages of anyone you hire to work on the building, damages to your rental property, associated insurance premiums, and fees you pay for legal and professional services. However, as is the case with any transaction of this type, be sure to consult your attorney or accountant for detailed tax information.

What to look for

As with any real estate investment, the location of the property and its overall condition are both key. But with rental properties, there are some other, unique factors you’ll also want to consider.

Utilities

Look for a building with separate utilities (water, electric, and gas, etc.) for each rental unit. This will make it far easier to legally charge for the fair use of what can be a very costly monthly expense.

Competition

If your property is one of the few rentals in the neighborhood, there will be less competition for interested renters.

Transportation

Rentals that are near popular public transportation options and/or major freeways (without being so close that noise is an issue) are usually easier to rent—and demand more money.

Landscaping

Properties with small yards and fewer plantings are far easier and less expensive to manage.

Off-street parking

Not only is off-street parking a desirable feature (people with nice cars usually don’t like to park on the street), it’s also a requirement for rental properties in some communities.

How to start your search

Unlike homes, rental properties do not typically have a visible ‘for-sale’ sign standing out front (as landlords don’t want to irritate, bring attention to their current renters, or turn off any prospective renters). Therefore, if you are interested in a rental property, your best option is to schedule an appointment with your real estate agent/broker to discuss your investment goals and identify what opportunities currently exist in the market place.

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Get Real

A story ran this week which highlighted the number of people who have moved out of Colorado.

Let’s get real, there are still a large number of people moving to Colorado.

In fact, 223,000 moved to Colorado from another state last year according to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The net migration into our state (after subtracting out people who left) was 30,859 people.

In Northern Colorado the net migration looks like this:

  • Larimer County = 7,001 people
  • Weld County = 7,117 people

So what does that mean for housing? Knowing that, on average, 2.5 people live in each household, the number of new housing units required for these new residents looks like this:

  • Larimer County = 2,800 new housing units
  • Weld County = 2,847 new housing units

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Do You Have ‘Average’ Credit? If so, Getting a Mortgage May Be Tough

This article originally appeared on Inman.com 

In the early 2000s, getting a mortgage was hardly difficult thanks in great part to lax lending standards.

This practice eventually led to a bubble forming in the nation’s housing market — which, as we all know, subsequently burst.

Since that time, the pendulum has swung the other way — to an extreme.

Today, lenders require nothing short of pristine credit to obtain a mortgage. We can never return to the reckless lending policies of the past, but I believe they’ve gone too far, and it concerns me.

What will your credit score get you?

I took a look at data produced by the Federal Reserve and was shocked by what I saw. Of the $426.6 billion in mortgage origination during the second quarter of this year, almost 62 percent went to households with a credit rating of 760 or higher.

Borrowers with a credit score in the range of 620 to 659, which many lenders view as below-prime credit, received just 6.3 percent of the dollar volume of mortgages in the second quarter.

Now, when we compare that with the same quarter of 2004, the group with 760-or-higher credit received 23.5 percent of the mortgages, and the 620-to-659 borrowers received 8 percent.

Although surveys say credit is loosening for some types of loans, standards are still far tighter than necessary.

Too risk-averse?

The data raises questions about whether regulators and banks have become too risk-averse. It’s also possible that borrowers without prime credit have just given up owning a home for now.

Figures from property-data provider CoreLogic show that home-purchase mortgage applications from borrowers with credit scores below 640 fell to 6 percent in 2015, from 29 percent in 2005. In other words, lower-rated borrowers aren’t even applying.

But why?

Rising home values might simply be putting property out of reach for a lot of lower-income people.

For example, prices in Seattle are up 55 percent from their 2012 post-crisis low, according to the Case-Shiller Index. Nationally, prices are up 35 percent from their 2012 low.

Higher prices require larger down payments and bigger mortgage payments, especially for borrowers with lower credit scores.

But equally as culpable as rising home prices are homeowners who went through a foreclosure between 2004 and 2015.

Of these 7 million homeowners, only 7.3 percent have obtained a mortgage again, and 69 percent still have a foreclosure on their credit score, thus precluding them from buying again.

The market is making it remarkably hard for many families to buy a home.

I would never suggest that we consider returning to the “old days” of sub-prime lending, but understanding that there are a large number of families who want to buy — and who meet acceptable standards for risk — should give lenders some pause for thought.

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, the second largest regional real estate company in the nation. Matthew specializes in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

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Great Design Element: Why Awnings Are Making a Comeback

Awnings are a valuable home design element that our grandparents knew all about. In the days before air conditioning, they were used to shade interiors and help keep homes cool. With the focus on sustainable design today, there’s renewed interest in the power of awnings. They block the sun from entering the house and warming it on hot days, and can be removed or retracted during the winter months when you’re craving light and warmth. Depending on the fabric you choose, they can also keep harmful UV rays from damaging your skin and fading your fabrics.

Awnings 1: Flagg Coastal Homes, original photo on Houzz

Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Besides all of that great money- and energy-saving function, awnings are an aesthetic asset. Colorful materials, stripes and scalloped edges are just a few of the options. Awnings bring softness, pattern, color and nostalgic charm to a home’s facade.

This photo shows awnings at work — you can see the shadows they create and how they’re protecting the interiors and the second-floor balcony area from the sun’s rays. Aesthetically, the stripes break up the white on the home — they are the home’s flirty false eyelashes.

Awnings 2: Christina Karras, original photo on Houzz

The retractable awning is curb appeal gold and transforms a space out front into a shady outdoor room. This style of retractable awning has poles that help support it, but there are other options that don’t require the added support.

Retractable awnings that don’t require support poles have retractable arms to support them. This provides a cleaner look. These can extend up to 14 feet.

Awnings 3: Exteriors by Chad Robert, original photo on Houzz

This style of awning, called a spear awning, adds to the style of the home. The decorative wrought iron rods have finials that pick up on the iron lantern and metal furniture frames on the patio.

These awnings are easily rolled up by hand when inclement weather is expected.(You will need to retract awnings when high winds are predicted. The awning company will let you know how many miles per hour their products can withstand.) There are also motorized versions on the market. Factors to consider when deciding whether to go hand-cranked or motorized include the ease of simply pushing a button versus the increased cost of the product, installation and maintenance.

“The motor is an up-charge and usually adds another $800 to the cost of the awning,” says Sandy Price of PYC Awnings. “The motor comes with a 12-foot cord and a plug, or you have an electrician hard-wire it for you.” (That cost is not included in the $800.) By the way, motorized awnings come with a hand crank in case the power goes out.

Awnings 4: Our Town Plans, original photo on Houzz

This roller shade protects those on the porch from the sun and wind. “It has a cable on each side that passes through rings at the bottom of the shade to keep it from flapping in the wind,” says Suzanne Stern of Our Town Plans. The shade has a crank for rolling it up and down by hand (which you can make out on the left side of this photo if you really squint).

Related: Patio Details: Awning-Covered Patio and Playhouse for a Shared Property

Stern also notes that this solution doesn’t change the look of the column and that the shade can be rolled all the way down below the railing.

Awnings 5: Becky Harris, original photo on Houzz

These valance awnings on a house on Florida’s Marco Island are more decorative than functional. They’re installed across extensive porches and tie into larger retractable awnings used in other spots on the home. “The customer used the Costa Track installation so they wouldn’t see any hardware and did a ceiling-mount installation,” Price says.

By Becky Harris, Houzz

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Selling Your Home? Go Through This Safety Checklist With Your Real Estate Agent

Selling your home can be stressful for many reasons. Not only are you trying to get the best financial return on your investment, but you might also be working on a tight deadline. There’s also the pressure to keep your home clean and organized at all times for prospective buyers.  One thing you can be sure of when selling your home is that there will be strangers entering your space, so it’s important for you and your agent to take certain safety precautions.

  • Go through your medicine cabinets and remove all prescription medications.
  • Remove or lock up precious belongings and personal information. You will want to store your jewelry, family heirlooms, and personal/financial information in a secure location to keep them from getting displaced or stolen.
  • Remove family photos. We recommend removing your family photos during the staging process so potential buyers can see themselves living in the home. It’s also a good way to protect your privacy.
  • Check your windows and doors for secure closings before and after showings. If someone is looking to get back into your home following a showing or an open house, they will look for weak locks or they might unlock a window or door.
  • Consider extra security measures such as an alarm system or other monitoring tools like cameras.
  • Don’t show your own home! If someone you don’t know walks up to your home asking for a showing, don’t let them in. You want to have an agent present to show your home at all times. Agents should have screening precautions to keep you and them safe from potential danger.

Talk to your agent about the following safety precautions:

  • Do a walk-through with your agent to make sure you have identified everything that needs to be removed or secured, such as medications, belongings, and photos.
  • Go over your agent’s screening process:
    • Phone screening prior to showing the home
    • Process for identifying and qualifying buyers for showings
    • Their personal safety during showings and open houses
  • Lock boxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes actually track who has had access to your home.
  • Work with your agent on an open house checklist:
    • Do they collect contact information of everyone entering the home?
    • Do they work with a partner to ensure their personal safety?
  • Go through your home’s entrances and exits and share important household information so your agent can advise how to secure your property while it’s on the market.

Your safety, as well as that of your agent and your home, is of paramount importance when selling a property. For more information, visit:

http://www.mercurynews.com/los-gatos/ci_26509084/realtors-issue-safety-tips-folks-who-are-selling

http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2014/09/safety-talk-you-need-have-clients

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How to Reduce Noise in an Open-Plan Design

Open-plan living spaces have many advantages for family life and entertaining, and they increase the opportunity to bring lots of natural light into your home. But they can end up being quite noisy. You may be surprised, however, at how easy it is to reduce sound travel with a few key additions to your furnishings. There are also structural changes you can make if you’re after a more robust fix.

Related: 8 Architectural Tricks to Enhance an Open-Plan Space

1. Dress your windows.

Large areas of glass, such as big windows and glass doors, act as bouncing-off points for sound to travel in an open-plan room. Introducing curtains will help deaden the noise. A sheer fabric works especially well, as it won’t totally block the light or views.

For maximum muffling, curtains work better than blinds, simply because there’s so much more fabric involved.

Reduce Noise 1: Environ Communities Ltd, original photo on Houzz

2. Introduce rugs.

Another way to deaden sound is to cover hard floors with rugs. Here, the use of a rug in the living space both minimizes noise and helps define the seating area, making the room feel more intimate.

When it comes to rugs, the thicker the pile, the better the soundproofing, so a cut-pile rug will tend to work better than a flat-weave design.

Reduce Noise 2: HelsingHouse Fastighetsmaklare, original photo on Houzz

3. Break it up.  If you can, try to break up your open-plan space to create zones. This will also help contain the noise. Here, the fireplace in a freestanding wall maintains a visual connection with the space beyond while breaking up the room to create a more defined living area.

If you want to incorporate a feature like this, bear in mind that you’ll need to position the fireplace so you can create a flue, which will need to go through the ceiling or an external wall.

Reduce Noise 3: Stuart Sampley Architect, original photo on Houzz

4. Add a storage wall. The wood-paneled wall in the middle of this large room works beautifully to separate the kitchen from the living area. This kind of feature can be a freestanding structure or a custom piece of furniture, making it a relatively easy and cost-effective solution to break up the space, since you won’t require any structural elements.

Reduce Noise 4: DTDA pty ltd, original photo on Houzz

5. Fit a feature screen. If you can’t bring yourself to divide the space with something permanent, a nice alternative is to introduce a screen as a buffer between zones. It won’t be as effective as a solid structure, but it will help diffuse the noise slightly. The louvered screen seen here allows a glimpse of the living space beyond.

Reduce Noise 5: Studio Revolution, original photo on Houzz

6. Panel your walls. Large, flat, hard surfaces can amplify sound, so adding texture will help reduce this effect. Lining one of your walls with wood not only creates an interesting feature, it does the sound-dampening job. It’s as simple as using flooring material on the walls instead. For a more traditional look, painted wood paneling works equally well.

Often, walls aren’t completely flat, so you’ll first need to add wood battens to the surface onto which you’ll attach your paneling. A good flooring contractor or woodworker can do this, or if you’re pretty confident at DIY, you could tackle it yourself.

Reduce Noise 6: Honka UK Ltd, original photo on Houzz

7. Bring texture to your ceiling. Just like walls, a large expanse of ceiling will encourage the spread of sound, so try adding a textured surface there too. In this example, the ceiling and walls have been paneled with wood boards painted white.

8. Fashion fabric panels. If wood isn’t your style, consider covering one of your walls with some form of acoustic material. These padded fabric panels are highly effective at deadening sound. You can also buy off-the-shelf acoustic panel systems, which can be fixed to your walls and are easy to install.

9. Go soft underfoot. Hard floor surfaces, such as tile, are less than ideal when it comes to controlling noise, so consider something like linoleum instead, which is a durable and practical finish in a kitchen. It’s also soft underfoot, meaning it will absorb the clunk and clatter of cooking.

By Denise O’Connor, Houzz

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Should I Move or Remodel?

There are a number of things that can trigger the decision to remodel or move to a new home. Perhaps you have outgrown your current space, you might be tired of struggling with ancient plumbing or wiring systems, or maybe your home just feels out of date. The question is: Should you stay or should you go? Choosing whether to remodel or move involves looking at a number of factors. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.

Five reasons to move:

1. Your current location just isn’t working.

Unruly neighbors, a miserable commute, or a less-than-desirable school district—these are factors you cannot change. If your current location is detracting from your overall quality of life, it’s time to consider moving. If you’re just ready for a change, that’s a good reason, too. Some people are simply tired of their old homes and want to move on.

2. Your home is already one of the nicest in the neighborhood.

Regardless of the improvements you might make, location largely limits the amount of money you can get for your home when you sell. A general rule of thumb for remodeling is to make sure that you don’t over-improve your home for the neighborhood. If your property is already the most valuable house on the block, additional upgrades usually won’t pay off in return on investment at selling time.

3. There is a good chance you will move soon anyway.

If your likelihood of moving in the next two years is high, remodeling probably isn’t your best choice. There’s no reason to go through the hassle and expense of remodeling and not be able to enjoy it. It may be better to move now to get the house you want.

4. You need to make too many improvements to meet your needs.

This is particularly an issue with growing families. What was cozy for a young couple may be totally inadequate when you add small children. Increasing the space to make your home workable may cost more than moving to another house. In addition, lot size, building codes, and neighborhood covenants may restrict what you can do. Once you’ve outlined the remodeling upgrades that you’d like, a real estate agent can help you determine what kind of home you could buy for the same investment.

5. You don’t like remodeling.

Remodeling is disruptive. It may be the inconvenience of losing the use of a bathroom for a week, or it can mean moving out altogether for a couple of months. Remodeling also requires making a lot of decisions. You have to be able to visualize new walls and floor plans, decide how large you want windows to be, and where to situate doors. Then there is choosing from hundreds of flooring, counter-top, and fixture options. Some people love this. If you’re not one of them, it is probably easier to buy a house that has the features you want already in place.

Five reasons to remodel:

1. You love your neighborhood.

You can walk to the park, you have lots of close friends nearby, and the guy at the espresso stand knows you by name. There are features of a neighborhood, whether it’s tree-lined streets or annual community celebrations, that you just can’t re-create somewhere else. If you love where you live, that’s a good reason to stay.

2. You like your current home’s floor plan.

The general layout of your home either works for you or it doesn’t. If you enjoy the configuration and overall feeling of your current home, there’s a good chance it can be turned into a dream home. The combination of special features you really value, such as morning sun or a special view, may be hard to replicate in a new home.

3. You’ve got a great yard.

Yards in older neighborhoods often have features you cannot find in newer developments, including large lots, mature trees, and established landscaping. Even if you find a new home with a large lot, it takes considerable time and expense to create a fully landscaped yard.

4. You can get exactly the home you want.

Remodeling allows you to create a home tailored exactly to your lifestyle. You have control over the look and feel of everything, from the color of the walls to the finish on the cabinets. Consider also that most people who buy a new home spend up to 30 percent of the value of their new house fixing it up the way they want.

5. It may make better financial sense.

In some cases, remodeling might be cheaper than selling. A contractor can give you an estimate of what it would cost to make the improvements you’re considering. A real estate agent can give you prices of comparable homes with those same features. But remember that while remodeling projects add to the value of your home, most don’t fully recover their costs when you sell.

Remodel or move checklist:

Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to move or remodel.

1.      How much money can you afford to spend?

2.      How long do you plan to live in your current home?

3.      How do you feel about your current location?

4.      Do you like the general floor plan of your current house?

5.      Will the remodeling you’re considering offer a good return on investment?

6.      Can you get more house for the money in another location that you like?

7.      Are you willing to live in your house during a remodeling project?

8.      If not, do you have the resources to live elsewhere while you’re remodeling?

If you have questions about whether remodeling or selling is a wise investment, or are looking for an agent in your area, we have professionals that can help you. Contact us here.

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How to Plan a Renovation That Matches Your Budget

When working with a contractor, you may feel like you have little influence over whether your remodeling project stays on budget and hits the finish line on time. But you have more control than you might think. Remember, the scope of your project and the specific materials are up to you.

The key to keeping a project on budget and on schedule is nailing down the details before ground breaks. If you’ve never renovated or built a new home, you may not be sure about how the seed of an idea turns into a completed project. Here’s a road map for two early steps: putting together your renovation team and nailing down your project’s cost.

Bookmark Part Two in This Dream to Done Series

Dream To Done 1: Serenity Design, original photo on Houzz

Who Will Help You Build Your Vision?

Before you meet with a professional, you should know what you want to accomplish. Is your goal to tear out your entire kitchen and start fresh? Or are you looking for less costly upgrades, perhaps replacing cabinet fronts and a tired back splash? Or do you want to remodel your whole house?

Some homeowners know only that the current home isn’t working for them but aren’t sure how to fix it. If you are in this group, you may decide to work with professionals who can help you develop a plan and advise you on cost. A recent survey showed that 85 percent of Houzzers who renovated in 2015 did so with professional help. The survey covered 120,000 registered Houzz users, including 70,000 who renovated.

Dream To Done 2: SALA Architects, original photo on Houzz

What Exactly Do Pros Do?

The most important documents you will need are the construction plans. Your building plans must be approved by an agency to make sure the home is safe and meets local codes. So unless you are familiar with building codes and construction methods, you will want to hire a professional to draft these plans. Rules for which pros can draft plans vary by state (and in some states by county or municipality) and with the size and type of project. Look to the local building department or the professionals you contact to explain the rules in your area.

Each profession has its special emphasis. Architects and interior designers create concepts and draw plans. General contractors build the plans. Landscape architects create designs and plans for outdoor spaces. Design-build firms offer both design and building services, some with in-house architects, others by contracting the design work out.

Houzzers who remodeled in 2015 said the most valuable contributions of general contractors and design-build firms were delivering a quality result, finding the right products and materials, staying on budget and managing the project.

Architects, interior designers, and kitchen and bath designers were appreciated for helping clients integrate their personal style into the design. Houzzers valued architects for understanding and complying with local building codes, and interior designers for finding the right products or materials. But these are only their most-appreciated contributions; each profession has a wide range of skills and resources to offer owners.

Ask About Options

Many pros offer a range of services, from initial design to project management, which may be priced as menu options or charged at per-hour rates. For just one example, architects can provide evaluation and planning services, which can involve site analysis and selection, economic feasibility studies and helping you determine what you want, need and are willing to pay for.

Architecture firms offer design services, including documents that define the space’s shape, and they may work closely with engineers as needed in relationship to the structural elements. They also may offer construction management services, involving consulting and coordinating with the various agencies overseeing your project, or manage the bidding process when you search for the right contractor. These are just a handful of the services your architect may provide, so it is worth asking about pricing and what is involved as you shop around. This AIA guide can be helpful. Also, there could be some overlap in the menus of services provided by the different pros, so be sure that you are clear on what you need and what services each will perform.

Even if you are not planning to hire a professional to design or manage your renovation, you may want to hire a pro on a per-hour basis to help you refine your ideas. “A small percentage of upfront money with a professional can really help clarify the scope of the project and the budget before you get too involved,” says John Firmin, general contractor at Build-A-Home Inc., in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who founded the firm 16 years ago.

Dream To Done 3: Tim Clarke Design, original photo on Houzz

Select Your First Team Member

When hiring your first design team member, you can start with a builder, architect, designer, design-build firm or remodeler, depending on your needs and priorities. If you already know a contractor whose work you like, he or she will probably have a list of architects and interior designers to recommend. That is also true if you start with other pros. You also can use Houzz’s directory to find individual professionals, see their past projects and read client reviews.

Narrow your list down to your favorites and then interview a few people. Ask for — and check — references, and drive out to see past projects. Also, see how it might feel to work together — make sure you have a rapport with the professional. You should find out whether they listen and whether they are good communicators, says Jon Dick, an architect with Archaeo Architects in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who has been practicing 30 years and worked on more than 100 homes. “Their design ability is very important,” Dick says. “But it’s also a long-term relationship. They’re going to ask pretty personal questions and know a fair amount about you.”

You should follow this same basic process with an interior designer, landscape architect, general contractor or design-build firm. Keep in mind that the average kitchen remodel takes about five months once construction starts, but three times that long from initial design phase to completion, according to a recent Houzz survey. So the professionals you hire should be people you like and can communicate with.

Whether to Hire One Pro — or More

Which pros and how many you hire is up to you. Among Houzzers who hired pros for their renovation projects last year, nearly half hired a general contractor, builder, kitchen or bath remodeler, or design-build firm — the professionals who actually build the project. About 20 percent employed an architect, interior designer or kitchen and bath designer.

A recent Houzz survey found that 2015 home buyers spent $66,600 on renovations, while would-be 2016 home sellers spent $36,300 on renovations.

Dream To Done 4: Original chart on Houzz

Be Up Front About Your Number

It’s helpful to be honest about your budget with the professionals you contact. Pros typically work with clients whose budgets are within a certain range. (Sometimes a pro’s range can be found on his or her Houzz profile.) If you fall in love with a pro whose projects start at $50,000, but you have $5,000 to spend, you’re probably not a match. Some homeowners pay a high-end designer to create the initial plan, only to realize that the products and materials suggested are out of range.

Homeowners without constrained budgets may be afraid to be too forthcoming for fear that pros will push them to spend more than they would like. That’s where checking references and finding people you can communicate with comes in. In the process of vetting the pros you are considering, you will find reputable people who will not push you but use your target number to help guide your plan.

Some Averages to Go On

If you have never renovated or built a home, you may have no idea how much it’s going to cost. To give you a sense of average budgets, here are some recent stats: People renovating kitchens had budgets ranging from less than $5,000 to more than $100,000, according to a survey of nearly 2,500 owners conducted by Houzz. One-quarter of renovators had budgets of $25,001 to $50,000, while 20 percent had budgets of $15,001 to $25,000. Only 10 percent had budgets of $5,000 or less, and only 6 percent had budgets of more than $100,000. The range of figures here is national; it should be noted that renovation costs vary by region and even city.

That said, not everyone stays on budget — and that’s true regardless of geography. Only about one-third of Houzzers who renovated last year stayed on budget, while just 3 percent came in below budget. Another third exceeded their budgets, while the remaining third had no initial budget at all. Among those who exceeded their budgets, the top reason was selecting nicer finishes or materials.

Major kitchen renovations cost an average of $50,700 for spaces 200 square feet or larger, while major renos in smaller kitchens cost about half that, according to Houzz data. A major kitchen renovation includes at least replacing cabinets and appliances. Major master bathroom renovations cost an average $25,600 in rooms at least 100 square feet and about half that for smaller bathrooms. A major bath renovation includes at least replacing the vanity or cabinets and countertops and toilet. Doing it yourself, of course, is less costly.

By Erin Carlyle, Houzz

The post How to Plan a Renovation That Matches Your Budget appeared first on Best Real Estate Agents in Northern Colorado.