If you’re like alot of people nowadays, you may not be able to sell your Hendersonville home right now.  Instead, you are looking at updating your home’s look for the possibility of making a larger profit later.  Here are a few tips on how to get the most bang for your buck in remodeling projects:

Adding crown molding or a chair rail to a room like the dining room makes a dramatic difference in the room's appearance.1. Crown Molding – Easy to install, adding crown molding to the ceiling or a chair rail along the wall can instantly transfer a drab room into a fab room.  You can even dress up a light fixture with a simple medallion.

2. Wood Floors – Are your wood floors looking a little worse for wear?  Refinish them for a fresher look.  If they are completely worn out, opt for replacing them.

3. Light Fixtures – Are you still using fluorescent lights in the kitchen or bathroom?  Recessed lighting or updated light fixtures can increase the warmth and feel of any room for a reasonable price.

4. Entryway/Foyer – If your entryway/foyer area is stuck in a bygone era, you may want to freshen it up with a fresh coat of paint, newer wallpaper, refinished stairway and/or new flooring.

Adding a kitchen island increases your surface area and storage space.5. Kitchen Island – Storage is one of the toughest things to accommodate in a kitchen.  Adding a kitchen island with shelves or cabinets included in the design not only increase your storage capacity, but also your surface area.   Try using butcher block or concrete for the kitchen island’s work surface as an alternative to expensive granite or marble.

6. Pantry – Adding a simple pantry to your kitchen can increase your food storage in a small area quickly and easily.

7. Shower – Simply changing the showerheads in your bathrooms can make a dramatic difference.  One of the more popular fixtures is a large pan showerhead that simulates a rainfall.  Also, you may want to consider adding a multi-head or second showerhead in your master bath.

8. Fixtures – Updating the fixtures for your kitchen or bathroom sinks increase the room’s appeal.  In the kitchen, consider adding a pull-out sprayer with a retractable hose to help clean the sink and reach those pots or pans that are too big to sit in the sink under a traditional faucet.  While you’re at it, update the cabinets and drawers with new handles, knobs or pulls.  If your cabinets don’t include any fixtures, the look can be dramatically altered quickly.

9. Porch – Adding a porch creates a more welcome appearance and brings your living space to the outdoors.  You’ll need to make sure to check the building codes in your area first for setback requirements and obtain a building permit, if necessary.

10. Siding – Check your home’s siding for any damage.  If your siding is in good condition, you can find products at your local home supply store to restore the finish to its original condition.  If it’s time to replace, vinyl siding is the most affordable in a variety of colors and styles.  It’s not your parents’ ugly siding anymore.

These are just a few of the simpler ways to get the most bang for your buck in remodeling projects.  I’d love to hear what projects you have done to increase the value of your Hendersonville home.  What you do now will help you when you decide to sell your Western North Carolina home later.

Don't get a lemon.  Contact Rich Cooke for all your Hendersonville real estate needs.

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$8000 Tax Credit Extended

November 12, 2009

The $8000 tax credit has been extended and includes a $6500 tax credit for existing homeowners.The $8000 First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit has been extended both in time and to include a $6500 tax credit for existing homeowners.  Previously, only first time home buyers (those buyers who have not owned a home for at least the three previous years) were eligible for an up to $8000 tax credit based on the purchase price of the home.  This was set to stop December 1, 2009.  However, President Obama has just signed an extension to the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit that applies to all homes purchased by April 30, 2010.  If you have a signed binding sales contract in effect by April 30, 2010, you have until July 2, 2010 to close escrow.

In addition to the $8000 First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit, President Obama made available a $6500 tax credit for current homeowners looking to purchase a new home.  Existing homeowners must have used their home as their primary residence for at least five consecutive of the last 8 years to qualify for this new tax credit.

Income Limits:

If you are a single home buyer or married filing head of household, you cannot make more than $125,000.  If you are married and file jointly, you cannot make more than $225,000 to receive the total tax credit you are eligible for.  You are eligible for a partial credit if you are single or a head of household filer and make between $125,000 and $145,000 or married filing jointly with an income between $225,000 and $245,000.

Homes That Qualify:

Only a home that is purchased and used as a primary residence is eligible for the appropriate tax credit.  That means that vacation homes, rental properties and commercial properties do not qualify.  Also, the purchase price cannot exceed $800,000

These tax credits do not have to be paid back provided you use your house for your primary residence for at least three years.  However, if you sell your home before the three year time period is up, you will be required to pay back all the tax credit you received.  For more information on the tax credit extensions and how they effect you with your Western North Carolina home, please contact me.

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate expert

What does the government bailout mean for the housing market?

Are you left wondering what exactly the recently approved government bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac means for you, the homeowner or potential homebuyer?  According to Jay Brinkman with the Mortgage Bankers Association, this should signal the marketplace that there will be a floor on interest rates.  This means that, while the government continues to pump capital into mortgage securities, there is more money available for home mortgage loans at much more favorable rates.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is as easy as it used to be to get a mortgage.  If you have lower than desired credit or are below the required income level for the loan you are trying to acquire, you will have difficulty getting that home loan.  The upside of this is that you won’t be allowed to buy outside your means, putting you in a potential cash crunch that so many families are experiencing today.  Provided that the bailout package is successful and creates much needed consumer confidence, the lower home prices and modest interest rates should kick the housing market into gear again.  Before the bailout plan, many financially strapped homeowners were headed straight for foreclosure.  Now, the government has temporarily put a halt to foreclosures to see if there is a way to work out a deal with those homeowners to repay the loan at terms they are better able to afford.  It may be months before we find out the exact details of what the government’s bailout means for everyone.  But, rest assured that the housing market will come back again.

The kids have all recently gone back to school and we are already stunned by what they’re learning. The Van Allen belt? Subjunctive clauses? Quadratic equations? Oh, how I wish we could all soak up such new knowledge so efficiently!

Most of us grownups are on a new learning curve, too. Whether we like it or not, or think we need it or not, the upheaval of our economy is giving us a crash course in credit management. And, the more you know, the more comfortable you will be that you are making the right decisions when it comes to your credit and buying a new home.

So, how well do you know your credit? As a Realtor, I can tell you that when it comes to buying a home, good credit is the most valuable asset you can own. Always keep in mind your credit determines how much you’ll pay on your next loan.  Those with excellent credit will, of course, get the best rates possible because they are less risky for lenders. So, how much difference can that make for someone with a lesser credit rating? Well, those with the better credit rating are paying 3 ½ percentage points lower than those with lower credit ratings. Here’s an example: On a $250,000 mortgage, those with top credit will pay $588 less each month than those with low credit. That’s an impressive $7,056 a year savings.

When buying a home, you will always run into the traditional questions such as how much you earn annually, how much you have in savings, and how long you’ve been at your current job. All will have a bearing on your ability to keep up with your payments. But, the biggest factor you will encounter is your credit score. Your score rating reflects how promptly you’ve paid bills, how long a track record you have as a credit user, how much you owe, what type of credit you have, and all new credit activity.

Some great ways to manage and re-establish your credit is to look for foolproof ways to pay off your debts in a timely fashion and be sure to take advantage of your once a year free credit report. Or, you can always use a credit monitoring agency. They are inexpensive and you can get online to see your credit score and anything else going on with your credit anytime.

A home is a valuable asset to anyone, but you can’t get your dream home without credit. So, keep an eye on your credit score as often as you can.

FHA Offers More

July 25, 2008

FHA is offering help to more at-risk homeowners. Homeowners who are experiencing difficulty in making their mortgage payments due to adjustments in their interest rates may be able to refinance their home through FHA’s refinance program: FHASecure.
 
Although, the program was established a year ago, it seems that many homeowners are not aware that they may be able to refinance their home and avoid foreclosure.
 
FHA has temporarily increased its loan limits, which will allow the FHASecure program to help more families keep their homes. Due to the increase in the loan limits, you may still be able to qualify even if  your property has depreciated in value. The increased loan limit is  currently scheduled to end on December 31, 2008.
 
Homeowners at risk of defaulting on their mortgage payments (or currently in default), but have otherwise maintained a good credit history, may qualify for the FHASecure refinance program.
 
Contact an FHA approved lender as soon as possible to make an appointment to discuss your particular circumstances.

FHASecure Facts

FHASecure Questions and Answers

Related article: Homeowners Get Help for Mortgages at Risk