by Suzanne De Vita9

The heart of the home is the kitchen—and buyers are eager to fork over for a showpiece.

According to an analysis conducted recently by Zillow, adding commercial-grade features to the kitchen pays a premium. Evaluating 4.6 million home listings in the past year, Zillow discovered that the features garnered anywhere from 24-34 percent more at sale.

Of the 10 biggest moneymakers, six are common in custom, entertainer’s kitchens—and restaurants:

Steam Oven – 34 percent premium

Professional Appliance – 32 percent premium

Wine Cellar – 31 percent premium

Pot Filler – 27 percent premium

Waterfall Countertop – 26 percent premium

Prep Sink – 24 percent premium

The boost comes with a caveat: longer timelines. Because these amenities appeal to specific tastes, and are common in higher-end homes—and homes in the luxury market move slower, typically—cashing in could take a while. Against comps, homes outfitted with a steam oven, for instance, were on the market for 22 days more than the others.

What about buyers at the entry level, not in the luxury market? They’re also drawn to well-appointed kitchens, and prepared to spend on them:

Pot Filler – 49 percent premium

Wine Cellar – 47 percent premium

Pizza Oven – 46 percent premium

Prep Sink – 39 percent premium

Dual-Range Oven – 36 percent premium

“Having a steam oven, a heated floor or other luxury features in the home is a signal that there are more than the home’s basic features at play,” says Skylar Olsen, director of Economic Research at Zillow. “These homes are special. They likely come with an elevated design sense and the extra touches valued by home shoppers who are willing to pay.

“If you have these features, flaunt them,” Olsen says.

By Ryan Tollefsen

For some, the thought of designing and building their dream home can serve as motivation for a good portion of their lives. Others may be willing to take it a step further by not only building their dream home, but selecting the perfect building site for it to sit on. A large lot on a cul-de-sac may be ideal for some; others may desire a beach or lakefront view. And some may be drawn to the mountains and a home built up on a ridge.

Selecting a suitable building lot involves more than just buying a piece of land. Assessing land is an intricate process, and there are buildability considerations with any piece of land. From the type of soil to accessibility to zoning, there’s a long list of potentially costly and time-consuming roadblocks that can stand in one’s way. Knowing these obstacles and performing due diligence before purchasing a property can go a long way in keeping your dream home from becoming an expensive nightmare.

If you’re considering a build-on-your-lot adventure, here are some tips and strategies to keep in mind when assessing land:

Choosing an Improved Lot or an Undeveloped Location

The first significant choice a homeowner will have to make is choosing the right location. This will generally involve selecting between an improved lot, where a new-home community is planned, or selecting an undeveloped site. An improved lot will make access to utilities like gas, water and electricity easier, but may not offer the privacy of an undeveloped site. A raw piece of land may offer the seclusion desired, but will be costly to upgrade and access.

You’ll want to become familiar with any zoning issues, easements, property line restrictions and architectural requirements the property may have. Further research may be needed if the goal is to create a self-sustaining homestead—potentially needing professional opinions on soil quality and solar power potential.

Much of this information can be found on an accessor’s parcel map in the local area. These tract maps will frequently contain notes about the parcel like “not an approved building site” or “subject to site approval.” Your local office of zoning and planning can be helpful as well. Keep in mind that even an approved site can have its challenges, such as trees to be cleared, foundation requirements and other issues. This is where an experienced builder can be invaluable.

Choosing a Builder, Building a Team

The builder you choose should be based on whether you’re building on an improved lot or an unimproved location. Selecting a builder experienced in the construction of the type of home you desire will reduce the odds that they are unequipped to complete this project efficiently. A builder with good experience, buying power and reputation—a builder who stands behind their work—will be ideal.

Many builders enjoy unique challenges in helping their clients create the perfect home. Depending on the uniqueness of the property you may also require the assistance of an architect and structural engineer. If you have plans to build a deck or add a pool, discuss this with your builder to ensure the lot size is sufficient to accommodate future plans.

Selecting an Existing Home Plan or a Custom Home Plan

Choosing between an existing or custom home plan may come down to preference, need, or some combination of the two. Many households decide to build their own home on their own lot by first selecting an existing home plan that appeals to their budget and lifestyle. These plans can usually be modified, at least to some degree, to fit the homeowner’s desires.

When a lot or home plan is particularly unique, a homeowner may decide to choose a custom-built home to best suit the property. Custom-designed homes will typically be more expensive, but may be able to take full advantage of the lot, the view or vision of the buyer more effectively than an existing plan.

Approving Plans and Permitting

Once a site, builder and plan have been selected, there will be plans to approve, permits to apply for and inspections to be scheduled throughout the construction process. The outlining and due diligence performed in the early staging of planning your home can pay off through this period with fewer delay-causing surprises. When building on an improved lot, this process is generally pretty smooth—especially with an experienced builder, and barring any unforeseen hurdles.

The more unique a property is, the more potential there may be for challenges involving drainage, groundwater, soil composition, and more. For example, there will typically be fewer challenges when building on an improved lot in an existing neighborhood than there may be when building on the side of a mountain.

Preparation Is Everything

Building on your own lot, especially an unimproved one, is considered to be a bit more risky than purchasing an existing home. The best thing one can do is be prepared about the potential stumbling blocks that may need to be overcome. Keep in mind, a piece of property that is less accessible will also provide unique challenges during the construction process that can add significantly to the cost. You’ll also want to imagine the property throughout the seasons of the year so you’re choosing land that will bring joy and value. If the extra effort, planning, cost and potential challenges aren’t too daunting, this path may be the one for you.

Some people want a home that reflects who they are. Some homeowners are willing to sacrifice some space and convenience in order to gain living space with a view they can enjoy for the rest of their lives. Before buying or building your next home, do your homework, look at all your options and choose the path that brings the lifestyle and excitement you desire.

Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group.


By Katie Kuchta

Homes with great curb appeal typically have a well-maintained yard. Taking the time and energy to create a beautiful garden is one of the best ways to bring the best offer.

Related: Tips for Reviving Your Lawn After Winter

Draw potential buyers through the door by creating an enticing landscape. Consider these seven ways to make your landscape pop this spring:

Plant a Tree

It may seem silly to plant a young tree in your yard given the fact that it won’t provide much immediate shade, but homebuyers will see the potential that new trees have. This can help create an idea of what the home will look like years after they purchase it. Trees are also beneficial because they grow deep root systems which help keep water from running off the soil.

Add New Color

An easy way to make your landscape pop is to plant new colors in your garden. Choose a bloom that will be in season while your home is on the market. Plant larger flowers, but also include some smaller blooms in pots near the entryway or walkway. Adding reds and yellows can help create interest in the home.

Tend to the Lawn

Dead spots in the lawn can be an eyesore and may deter buyers. Be sure to keep your yard maintained by cutting and watering it often. Feed your lawn with a quick-release fertilizer that’ll provide hardy growth and reseed any visible bare spots. Also, if you don’t have time to maintain the lawn, consider hiring a landscaping company that can bring your yard back to life quickly.

Spread Some Mulch

Mulch is one of those landscaping elements that puts a finishing touch on your entire yard. Spread organic mulch—such as bark dust—under and around plants to help keep weeds from growing. Mulch also provides a beautiful base color to your yard and keeps plants hydrated all year long.

Place Outdoor Seating

Potential buyers will want to be able to sit outside and enjoy the landscape that you’ve created. Make sure both your front and backyards have a spot to rest. Front porches could feature a small café table and/or rocking chairs. Consider placing a full outdoor dining set on your back patio. Providing a spot for new owners to spend time outdoors is an essential part of making your landscaping intriguing.

Install New Lighting

Landscaping isn’t always just about the plants. Lighting can provide homebuyers the best views of your garden. Consider installing new lighting in the yard that’ll help draw attention to your home no matter what time of day it is. Potential buyers who tour the home after dusk will still be able to see the yard with the right lighting. Solar spotlights can make certain plants stand out, and string lights can help create ambiance in the backyard.

Clean Up Hardscapes

The structure of your yard is another place that can either make or break a home tour. Pressure wash walkways, patios and decks. Also, be sure to remove any weeds around the pavement so the hardscapes look their best.

You spend a lot of time making sure the interior of your home is clean and inviting. A few improvements to your landscape will help entice potential buyers through the front door!

Katie Kuchta is a gardening and outdoor living guru, and self-proclaimed foodie. She currently covers the lawn care industry for LawnStarter Lawn Care. Kuchta can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos.

If you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

To make things easier for you, here are four remodels to avoid and four to invest in.

Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold. It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool. Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money. A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price. Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of REALTORS® reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater. The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in seven and a half years. After that, panels are a big money-saving asset. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

Related: Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels?

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable. New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer. Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent. Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring. Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind. Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

From random phobias to crippling anxieties, all of us battle with some degree of fear in our daily lives. But imagine how your quality of life would improve if you could overcome your fears. How would it change your life?

Here are four tips for tackling your fears from someone who knows. Jay Platt—the subject of the new documentary, “Living Unstoppable”— was living his dream as a U.S. Marine when a cancer syndrome called von Hippel Lindau (VHL) exploded like a bomb on his life. It caused tumors in his brain and on his spine, as well as kidney cancer and the loss of his left eye. After a personal journey of acceptance, however, Platt went on to accomplish feats many world-class athletes wouldn’t consider, including swimming across the Mississippi River while handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded!

Here are four areas Platt focused on that helped him overcome fear and anxiety in order to rebuild his body, mind and spirit:

 Focus on the joys in life: When you realize it’s not all about you, the annoying voice that tells you to be afraid begins to shrivel and loses its poison. Platt’s family, friends and those to whom he donates money through various charities gives Platt strength.

• Spiritual preparation: Just as Platt trains physically for his feats, he finds it essential to work out spiritually in order to stand up to the fear and anxieties that life’s trials bring. To that end, he surrounds himself with positive messages and positive people.

• Use setbacks as a motivator: When something bad happens, one of the most common responses is fear – fear that it will happen again; fear that you’re less than you used to be; or irrational fear. Platt always knew he’d be a Marine; when he was forced to retire early, he had to recalibrate his entire life. One of his favorite quotes is “What are you doing now?” – it doesn’t matter what you used to be.

• Remember a greater good: When he started experiencing complications from VHL, which first manifested in his left eye, Platt promised God that he’d devote his life to others if he got through the scare. He has kept that promise – his Appalachian Trail hike alone raised $109,000 for charity. According to Platt, staying true to a promise might be the most emotionally solid aid to overcoming fear.

By Cary Teller

Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. But are you spending extra money unnecessarily on upkeep? Here are the 10 most expensive mistakes you could be making in your home.

1. Using Traditional Light bulbs

If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its life span, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home’s bottom line.

2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet

A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.

3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size

We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems or accidentally buy the wrong size. But using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won’t regret it.

4. Not Customizing Temperature

Invest in a customizable thermostat. If you’re away at the office all day, you can program your heater to shift down a few degrees while you’re gone and then shift back up shortly before you return home. Heating or cooling an empty home wastes a lot of money in energy costs.

5. Not Adjusting Air Vents Properly

Is one room in your home hot, while the others are cold? Oftentimes homeowners will crank up the air conditioning in the whole house to combat hot temperatures in one area. Instead, adjust air vents to direct the flow of air more evenly throughout your entire home. Professionals will come regulate this to ensure that your entire home is receiving the same amount of air conditioning or heating.

6. Over Watering Lawn

Many homeowners have their sprinkler systems programmed to come on in the early morning hours for optimum lawn health. This can become a problem, however, if you’re never around to see what you’re actually watering. A broken sprinkler head could be causing a fountain, or the trajectory of your sprinkler may be directed at a fence instead of your lawn. Periodically run your sprinklers during the day so you can see how they are performing when you’re not around.

7. Water Heater Temperature Set Too High

Unless you have a tankless water heater, your water heater is keeping the water in its tank hot 24/7. If you don’t keep an eye on the temperature as each season changes, you may be paying too much to heat your water. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up when winter comes.

8. Leaky Windows and Doors

Leaky windows and doors are great places for cold, winter winds to enter your home. Many homeowners simply ignore them and crank up their heaters. Caulk leaky windows and put rubber seal around doors to keep winter winds out and warmth in.

9. Paying a Handyman

Don’t pay a handyman for a job that is simple enough to do yourself. If you’re unsure of how to do something, look up video tutorials online. Doing simple tasks yourself can save you a lot of money.

10. Ignoring Curled Shingles

It may be easy to ignore problems on your roof, but it will only lead to bigger problems later. If you see any possible issues with your roof, repair them as soon as possible, as this will save you significant costs later.

Use these 10 tips to cut maintenance costs on your home today.

When you go searching for a real estate agent, you are likely to hear a number of sales pitches speaking of the necessity and desirability of an open house. Many agents will speak of their enthusiasm for open houses and how they will do well for you with all the traffic they draw. What you may not realize, though, is that a real estate open house typically has far more benefits for your agent than for you. The question of course that is on the minds of many homeowners is does an open house sell homes? One thing is certain – statistics don’t lie!

What may be a real shocker is the fact that less than two percent of all homes sold nationally are a direct result of a buyer visiting an open house unaccompanied by an agent. Real buyers are with real estate agents who schedule appointments. The people who come through your home on any given Sunday open house are not likely going to be the ones opening up their checkbook and handing over an escrow deposit!

So when people ask is an open house necessary when selling a home, the answer is clear, cut and dry – NO!

Problems with Open Houses

  • Wrong Kind of Traffic – One of the biggest issues with open houses is that real buyers rarely attend them. You may get a number of different people walking through and viewing your home, but legitimate buyers are usually rare. Your neighbors might come by to satisfy their curiosity and you may get people taking a walk-through to get ideas for their own renovations. You may even get a few people who dream of one day owning a home just like yours – only they do not currently have money to purchase something as expensive as yours.
  • The Unqualified Buyer – The likelihood you will get some buyers who are actually thinking about purchasing a home are pretty good. The problem however, is the vast majority of these people will not be qualified to pay your asking price. What is ironic is that most real estate agents will drive home the point about how important it is to qualify a buyer looking to purchase your home. This gets thrown out the window like the baby with the bath water when it comes to an open house.
  • Busy Work – Your REALTOR® wants to appear valuable to you and an open house is a great way to accomplish this. It is one of the few tasks a REALTOR® can engage in that is easily viewed by clients. You see all the work the REALTOR® puts into the open house and it makes you feel like you are getting your money’s worth.  In reality though, most of the work that goes into selling a home happens behind the scenes. Connecting with other REALTORS®, listing a property across a number of different marketing channels, and using social media all happen out of sight. Hence, clients don’t always see everything they do.
  • Mainly for Your REALTOR® – All sorts of people will wander into your home, even if few of them are truly interested or capable of buying. This is not advantageous for you, but your REALTOR® knows how to utilize this traffic. It allows an agent to make connections or network – one of the most important components of growing a real estate business. The agent will meet your neighbors who may need to sell a home in the future. He or she will also meet those that don’t qualify for a home as expensive as yours but who may be in the market for another home the agent happens to be selling. That home of course would be in their budget and not at the price point your home falls into. Your agent will also add another successful showing to his or her belt, and therefore be able to tell you, “I have shown your home X amount of times and drawn X amount of traffic.” Very few real estate agents are going to tell you that the real reason they are holding an open house is to get additional clients.
  • Security Issues – What many real estate agents fail to do is inform their clients about the drawbacks of an open house. Rarely are both the pro’s and con’s of an open housediscussed. It is usually just the potential benefits. Unfortunately an open house is the perfect invitation to invite unqualified strangers into your home. When you do this you are potentially opening yourself up to a whole set of issues you probably have not given much thought to. Numerous sellers have reported theft both during the open house as well as on a later date when thieves who have visited come back and take what they like. It’s no surprise this happens as an open house invites anyone and everyone into the home. If the open house is busy, it is impossible for a real estate agent to watch everyone.

See Past the Curtain     

You certainly need a good agent to sell your home. A skilled REALTOR® can help you get a better price and move your home much more effectively than you can selling as a for sale by owner. However, do not be fooled by the illusion that an open house presents. Yes, some homes are sold through open houses, but the statistics are not encouraging. Far more homes are sold through hard work and the skill and talent of good REALTOR®.

If you still want to have an open house, by all means have one. But do not be fooled by claims from various real estate agents that having an open house is a “must” or that this or that agent is great because of them. Some agents are better at selling homes than others, but no one that is good will pretend that an open house should be a main priority. Very few top producing real estate agents hang out in someone’s home waiting for a buyer to show up.

The bottom line despite what some agents may tell you is this – a buyer who really wants to see your home will always schedule an appointment to see it. If you were in the market to purchase a home and saw something you really wanted to look at, would you be saying to yourself “If they don’t have an open house I’m not interested,”? Of course not! Sounds pretty absurd when you think about it.

Like the popular old movie “The Wizard of Oz,” make sure you know who is behind the curtain when selecting a REALTOR® to work with. The easiest way to do this is by asking good REALTOR® interview questions. When you do so, you will be more apt to find a true real estate wizard and not someone who will disappoint you.

By Bill Gasset.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past 27-plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. In 2013, he was the #1 RE/MAX agent in Massachusetts.

There are several places in the U.S. where millennials can be found due to the high employment rates and beautiful settings. For adults who are in their 20s and 30s, there are several places where it’s smart to invest. When you’re looking to move, these are a few cities that millennials are flocking to throughout the country.

Salt Lake City, Utah

The high job growth in Salt Lake City makes it a desirable place for young adults to live as they look to obtain steady employment. The city is affordable to live in and has a median home price of $233,000 with job growth of 2.4 percent. Salt Lake City also has a lower unemployment rate compared to other markets throughout the U.S. with 2.9 percent, which is below the national average by a few points.

Seattle, Wash.

Seattle is considered to be a hot spot for millennials, which make up 24.1 percent of the population. Its busy nightlife scene and generous median incomes of $67,000 make it an ideal place to live for younger generations. It also boasts a job growth rate of 10.8 percent. The beautiful views of the water and the long list of activities and attractions in the area are additional reasons that many millennials relocate to the city.

Austin, Texas

Millennials are drawn to Austin for its real estate market, which includes homes that have a median price of $226,000. The job growth is also 4.2 percent, and it’s the second top city in the country for the number of jobs that are becoming available. Some of the top companies that are run out of Austin include Dell, Apple, and Google, making it known as “Silicon Hills.” The average median income is also $58,932, which allows many young adults to afford to purchase their first home.

There’s also a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, making the city desirable for millennials who make green practices a priority. Austin is also known for selling more renewable energy than other nations.

Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte is one of the best places to live in North Carolina with 14 percent of the population between the ages of 25 and 34. Many of the youth are post-college graduates who have relocated to the city to seek employment and purchase a home in a neighborhood that has a suburban family profile. The draw of millennials is also causing many companies to relocate their headquarters to Charlotte in hopes of hiring talented employees.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas continues to grow each year and attract young out-of-towners due to its job growth rate of 3.9 percent and median home price of $175,000. The big city boasts plenty of shopping opportunities and attractions for those who want to stay busy without spending a lot to live close to the downtown area. The city hasn’t attempted to control ride sharing, and many places are also easy to access by walking. There are also neighboring cities that are affordable to live in for those who don’t mind commuting to work.

Remodelers across the country took a hit last summer as the cost of building materials spiked dramatically, and the picture for 2019 isn’t much rosier. The percentage of return on investment (ROI) is projected to trend downward for all the replacement projects listed in Remodeling magazine’s newly-released Cost vs. Value Report.

Larger indoor remodel projects took a hit as well, but weren’t impacted as greatly as replacement projects as they rely more on labor costs rather than material costs.

“With the increasing costs of building materials and labor, we urge remodelers to think like real estate professionals first,” says Clayton DeKorne, editor-in-chief of Remodeling magazine. “When you adjust your focus to think like a broker first, you can dull clients’ No. 1 pain point—cost—with a discussion of the amount that can be recouped.”

Nationally, here are the five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s mid-range cost category:

Manufactured Stone Veneer (94.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $8,907
  • Average Resale Value: $8,449

Minor Kitchen Remodel (80.5% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $22,507
  • Average Resale Value: $18,123

Deck Addition (Wood) (75.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $13,333
  • Average Resale Value: $10,083

Siding Replacement (75.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $16,036
  • Average Resale Value: $12,119

Entry Door Replacement (Steel) (74.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $1,826
  • Average Resale Value: $1,368

And the five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s upscale cost category are:

Garage Door Replacement (97.5% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $3,611
  • Average Resale Value: $3,520

Window Replacement (Vinyl) (73.4% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $16,802
  • Average Resale Value: $12,332

Grand Entrance (Fiberglass) (71.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $8,994
  • Average Resale Value: $6,469

Window Replacement (Wood) (70.8% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $20,526
  • Average Resale Value: $14,530

Bathroom Remodel (60.2% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $64,743
  • Average Resale Value: $38,952

Nationally—and on the other end of the spectrum—here are the five projects with the lowest ROI in the mid-range cost category:

Backyard Patio (55.2% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $56,906
  • Average Resale Value: $31,430

Master Suite Addition (59.4% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $130,986
  • Average Resale Value: $77,785

Bathroom Addition (60.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $47,427
  • Average Resale Value: $28,726

Roofing Replacement (Metal) (60.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $38,600
  • Average Resale Value: $23,526

Major Kitchen Remodel (62.1% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $66,196
  • Average Resale Value: $41,133

And the five projects with the lowest ROI in the upscale cost category are:

Master Suite Addition (50.4% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $271,470
  • Average Resale Value: $136,820

Bathroom Addition (58.1% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $87,704
  • Average Resale Value: $51,000

Major Kitchen Remodel (59.7% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $131,510
  • Average Resale Value: $78,524

Bathroom Remodel (60.2% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $64,743
  • Average Resale Value: $38,952

Window Replacement (Wood) (70.8% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $20,526
  • Average Resale Value: $14,530

Advice on the tradeoffs of cost vs value is an essential part of the real estate sales process. When you are ready to sell your house, contact us at Dupont Real Estate.

By Brentnie Daggett

Year after year, many homeowners find themselves surprised when their first heating bill arrives. The frugal-minded tend to turn to extra blankets and multiple layers in lieu of paying expensive heating bills, but at the end of the day, you should be comfortable in your own home.

With a little knowledge and a few behavior tweaks, you can heat your home much more efficiently, without sacrificing your comfort or your hard-earned paycheck:

Turn down the temperature.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your winter thermostat to 68 degrees while you’re awake, and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home. You can save up to 10 percent a year on heating (and cooling) costs by simply turning your thermostat back anywhere from 7-10 degrees for approximately eight hours a day, like while you’re at work or sleeping.

Change your filters.

Dirty air filters restrict airflow and increase your energy use. Changing the filters on your furnace or heating unit at least every three months can save you anywhere from 4-6 percent a year on heating costs! If you have pets in your home, your filters are probably even dirtier—changing them once a month is recommended. Taking this step will not only save you money, but also likely prolong the life of your furnace. Be sure to regularly service your furnace to make sure things are running properly.

Seal cracks and ducts.

Windows and doors account for a large amount of heat loss in homes; in fact, installing weather-stripping or caulking leaky doors and windows can save you up to 10 percent on heating costs. Ducts are another culprit of heat loss—leaking ductwork accounts for 25-30 percent of heating costs in the average home. Consider hiring a contractor before the cold weather hits to test the tightness of your ducts and repair any leaks or restrictions.

Keep your chimney closed.

If your home has a fireplace, remember to keep the damper closed when it’s not in use. Consider a chimney balloon—an inflatable device that goes in the chimney—to further keep the cold air out and the warm air from escaping.

Use your fan.

While ceiling fans are excellent tools for staying cool in the summer, they can also be adjusted to help you stay warm in the winter. Many fan models have a switch that allows the blades to spin clockwise, which will push warm air that rose to the ceiling back down into the room.

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Brentnie Daggett is a writer and infographic master for the rental and property management industry. She loves to share tips and tricks to assist landlords and renters alike.