Top Remodeling Projects Buyers LoveWith the rocky economy of the past few years, more Hendersonville homeowners have opted to stay in their homes for a little while rather than sell right away.  However, they may still need to make some modifications to their properties as their needs change.  Remodeling has fast become a hot commodity on the real estate front.  Even if you aren’t planning on selling your home right now, you should keep in mind the top remodeling projects buyers love for when you do eventually place your Hendersonville house on the market.

Kitchens
The heart of the home has always been the kitchen.  Hendersonville home buyers still love their kitchens.  It can easily make or break a sale.  Opening up a smaller kitchen, adding more shelving and storage, incorporating a pantry and/or adding an island are all ways to make your kitchen area more useful while you are living in it and more attractive to buyers when it comes time to sell it.

Outdoor Living Spaces
Studies have shown that, even during cold wintery weather, buyers still want an outdoor living space.  It is a natural extension of your Hendersonville home’s usable area.  Adding a deck (one of the best returns on investment, by the way), constructing a built-in barbecue and creating an entertainment area, complete with wiring for stereo and/or TV, are some options you may want to consider when creating your ideal outdoor space.

Smart Home
In today’s high tech society, we tend to be more and more dependent on electronic gadgets to get through our daily lives.  Upgrading your Hendersonville home’s wiring to accommodate this can be very appealing to future buyers as well as make your life a little easier.  This is especially true if you have an older home.  Upgrade your electrical panel so that it can handle a heavier workload.  Since more and more Americans are working from home, make sure your home is capable of utilizing internet service easily from any room.

Elderly Accommodations
As our population ages, our home needs change.  One trend that home builders have found recently is the request to have more elderly-friendly homes built.  Having at least one bedroom and full bathroom (with at least a shower) on the ground level is a popular floor plan nowadays.  Wider doors make it easier to maneuver a wheelchair.  Eliminating steps outside your Hendersonville home make entering less arduous for older folks.

If you’ve decided to sit tight in your Hendersonville home for a little bit but need to make adjustments to fit your lifestyle, keep these top remodeling projects that buyers love in mind before you begin construction.  Even if you aren’t selling your home today, you may eventually want/need to.  Wouldn’t it be better to have invested your money in something that makes it more attractive to buyers in the future?

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here: http://rich-cooke.com/2012/03/01/top-remodeling-projects-buyers-love/.

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Leaf Collection in AshevilleFall is a beautiful time here in Western North CarolinaAsheville trees begin to wear their gorgeous autumn colors and, eventually, fall to the ground.  Now is also the best time to start pruning back your flowering shrubs and overhanging tree branches to make way for winter.  But, what do you do with your clippings and dead leaves?

As of July 1st of this year, the City of Asheville approved changes in the collection of leaves and brush from residential neighborhoods.  Leaves and brush are not collected with regular trash pickups.  In an effort to lower costs and increase customer satisfaction, brush and leaf collection was changed to twice per month from its previous once a month collection schedule.  Also, the City of Asheville will only collect leaves that are bagged and ready for pickup.  The City will provide large leaf bags on a first come, first served basis as supplies last.  You may also get the larger leaf bags at any Asheville fire station.  However, you can use regular trash bags if you would like.  Bagged leaves must be set out at curbside by no later than 7am on the Monday morning of the week your area is scheduled for pickup (click here to view the City of Asheville brush and bagged leaf collection schedule).

When you gather together your tree and shrub trimmings for collection, make sure to place them in loose piles at the curb.  No other debris can be included in the piles.  “Other debris” would include grass clippings, vines and weeds from your garden (which the City of Asheville does not collect).  If you have thorny trimmings (from rose bushes, for example), put these in a separate pile from the tree and shrub trimmings.  No tree limbs can be longer than 4 feet or larger than 6″ around.  If you have a lawn service that takes care of these, they are responsible for hauling away the debris, not you or the City. 

Bags of leaves should not be tied or be placed in containers with lids.  When using a container for leaf collection, please write “leaves” or “brush” in large letters on the outside of the container so City collection personnel will be able to identify it without difficulty.  Otherwise, it may be mistaken for regular trash and not picked up at the proper time.  It is illegal to burn leaves within the City of Asheville.  People caught doing so can be fined anywhere from $250-$500 by the Fire Marshall, may be arrested and can receive additional fines from the City of Asheville as well.

Finally, one of the best possible ways to get rid of your leaves is to compost them for future use on your gardens and lawn.  This natural fertilizer works wonders for moisture retention, warding off bugs and cultivating beautiful landscaping.  By spring, you’ll be good to go!

Leaf collection in Asheville is fairly easy if you follow a few simple rules.  Keep our streets and gutters free of debris so that water can drain properly, reducing the risk of flooding streets.  Most of all, enjoy the beautiful fall picture that Mother Nature graces us with every year here in Western North Carolina.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here: http://activerain.com/blogsview/2563454/leaf-collection-in-asheville.

Water conservation tipsOfficials in the City of Hendersonville, much like other cities across the nation, have encouraged water conservation to help combat dry weather conditions.  Even little changes can help.  The following are the top five water conservation tips for Hendersonville residents to do their part in using less water:

Tip #1: Check the Plumbing.  Leaky plumbing makes up for approximately 15% of a Hendersonville household’s water use.  Replace O-rings on leaky faucets and tubs.  A couple of drops of food coloring in your toilet tank is a simple way to determine if you toilet is leaking.  If the color shows up in the bowl before you flush, you need to replace the flap.  If the water meter still moves after you have completely shut off all water coming into the home, you have a leak.  Check the connections to your outside hoses and faucets as well.  Replace or repair faulty plumbing as soon as possible.  Missing even one leak can waste as much as 500 gallons of water every month.

Tip #2: Curb Indoor Water Usage.  Flushing the toilets and bathing comprise approximately 70% of the entire Hendersonville household water usage.  If you can’t afford to replace your toilet with a low-flow model, you can achieve the same effect by placing a glass jar, a plastic jug or even a plastic bag filled with water, pebbles or other density items to keep it from floating in the toilet tank.  This will take up space, which means that the toilet will use less water to fill it.  If you want more water, use a smaller container.  Turn off water when brushing your teeth.  Limit your showers to between two and five minutes.  Take large buckets in the shower with you to capture water before it goes down the drain to use for daily watering of plants.  You can take bucketfuls of your bathwater when you’re done to water plants as well.

Tip #3: Use a Little Elbow Grease.  Yes, power washing does an amazing job when it comes to cleaning off your driveway and deck.  However, the particulates (debris, oil, etc) end up in our local Hendersonville waterways.  So, instead of busting out the garden hose, use a broom to sweep up. 

Tip #4: Be Smart When Using Appliances.  Only run a full load of dishes or laundry.  These activities account for approximately 20% of your Hendersonville home water usage.  If your dishwasher or laundry washer are older, purchase newer Energy Star appliances.  Ask your salesperson about rebates from Energy Star as well as local government agencies when you go to purchase.  You can save money when you buy the appliances as well as when you use them.  Good deal!

Tip #5: Use a Commercial Car Wash.  Most commercial car washes recycle their water.  This reduces the amount of water needed to clean your car by as much as 40 gallons per wash.

Following these top five water conservation tips for Hendersonville residents will significantly reduce water usage in our neck of the woods.  In turn, the precious water we do have can be used to keep our mountains green and beautiful for future generations.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Home remodeling projects your should focus onThe housing market across the country has undergone a tremendous change over the last several years.  Hendersonville homeowners are looking at ways they can improve or update their home to get the most return on their investment when it comes time to sell it.  According to recent reports, the best projects to tackle around your house aren’t the big expensive ones, but rather the quicker, more affordable projects.  Here are a few home remodeling projects you should focus on that give the best cost-to-value ratio:

Entry Door Replacement – This is an often overlooked part of the home when it comes to updating and maintaining.  It also places the highest in the cost-to-value ratio.

Garage Door Replacement – This doesn’t mean just replacing the old version that you lock up manually and have to open manually.  A motorized garage door appeals to a much wider variety of Hendersonville buyers, especially as our generation ages.

Wooden Deck Addition – Outdoor spaces are a major selling point for buyers, even during the colder winter months.  Having a space ready for entertaining at any time is a must.  A beautiful green expanse of yard is wonderful, but adding a wooden deck can transform your outdoor space into an extension of your home’s living area.

Kitchen FaceliftYou don’t have to completely gut and remodel the kitchen to make an impact.  Instead, utilize the space to make simple updates, such as a new paint color and flooring, adding or replacing cabinet hardware and updating the faucet.  Replacing older appliances with newer energy-efficient models will save you money when you purchase them (many Energy Star appliances offer rebates), when you use them (using less energy means you save money on your electric bills) and when you sell them (more and more buyers are looking for energy-efficient homes).

Room Additions – OK, this may sound expensive at first.  However, I am not talking about actually building a room addition onto your Hendersonville home.  This can be expensive and time-consuming.  First you have to draw up the plans, then you need to obtain the proper permits and then you pour the concrete, add the framework and finish it off.  Instead, take existing space (such as the attic or basement) and transform it into extra bedrooms, an office, a family room, that extra roomy master bedroom you always wanted or whatever your heart desires.  Since this area has already been included in the original plans and building process, you don’t have to mess with the expenses associated with actually adding on to your existing Hendersonville home.  And, it adds more functional, usable living space to your home, which can be a HUGE advantage when it comes time to sell.

These are just some of the home remodeling projects you should focus on when updating the look of your Hendersonville home.  Even if you aren’t planning on selling your home this minute, these projects will not only help make your home more attractive to you, but it will also be more attractive to potential buyers and your pocketbook in the future.  When you do decide to sell your Hendersonville home, don’t forget to contact me!

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

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.

The National Weather Service’s issuance of snow before 2pm today, rains and further snow after 2pm and winds up to 9 mph, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to prepare for cold weather here in Hendersonville.

  1. Make sure your fireplace flue is open and clear.  You want the smoke from the fire to go straight up instead of filling the room and causing a breathing problem.
  2. Keep all combustible materials away from any heat source, such as the fireplace, portable heaters and ovens/stoves.  This includes paper, matches, lighters, etc.
  3. Don’t use the oven/stove to heat up the room.  They are not meant to be used for long periods of time.  Also, an unattended, open oven/stove runs a high risk of catching your house on fire.
  4. Keep an eye on children and paper products near a heating source.  Paper is highly combustible, children can get burned if they get too close and children with blankets can accidentally get too close to an oven/stove, etc. and catch their blanket on fire.
  5. Check on your elderly relatives or neighbors.  Make sure they have enough food, water, supplies, etc. and that their heating source works properly.  If they don’t have a reliable source for heat, you may want to check with local government agencies to find out what programs they offer to help.

With the temperatures dropping in Henderson County, it is important to make sure you are prepared for cold weather here in Hendersonville.

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate expert

remodeling.Do you want to remodel your home because you are looking to sell it soon?  There are some smart remodel projects that will bring alot of bang for your buck and there are some remodel projects that may sound like a good idea, but won’t bring a good return on your investment.

Do:

Remodel the bathroom.  No costly, overdone bathroom remodel is necessary.  Change out old brass hardware for newer, updated brushed nickel ones.  Give a fresh coat of paint to the walls.  Replace old lighting fixtures.  Take out the tub and add a tiled-in shower with glass enclosure.  Buy a new pedestal sink and toilet to open up the bathroom.

Replace the exterior siding.  It’s like putting a new outfit on your home.  Vinyl siding is the most popular and inexpensive method for exterior siding.  However, fiber cement siding can be made to look like stucco, wood or even cedar shingles.  It is also fire resistent and can offer up to a 50-year guarantee.  It will cost about 30% more than vinyl, but will yield a much bigger return on your investment and offers more alternative looks than simple vinyl siding.

Update your kitchen.  You don’t have to overspend in order to bring your kitchen into the 20th century.  Replacing the old dishwasher, refrigerator and stove/oven with moderately priced stainless steel appliances can go a long way.  Changing out the old cabinet knobs or drawer handles can alter the look of the cabinets.  Rip up the old linoleum and replace it will newer, resilient flooring.  A fresh coat of paint will do wonders to brighten up the space.

Think about converting that attic space into another bedroom and bath area.  This is an especially good idea in a neighborhood with smaller homes.  Because the wiring and walls are already there, it is less expensive to create a new bedroom in the attic than to add additional square footage anywhere else.

Don’t:

Convert a spare bedroom into a fully custom office.  Adding custom cabinetry and tearing out a closet to create room for your filing cabinets is great for those who work from home.  However, when reselling a home, an extra bedroom will always outsell a custom home office.  Utilizing the bedroom space as a home office by buying office furniture is fine.  But make sure not to alter the room so that it can’t be used as a regular bedroom when you sell it.

Overspend in the kitchen or master suite.  While it is true that kitchens and master bedrooms sell homes, you don’t want to spend so much on these areas that you are way out of league with the rest of the neighborhood.  An $80,000 dollar dream kitchen or $100,000 deluxe master suite may sell well in Beverly Hills or New York City.  But, if you don’t live in an upscale neighborhood, the sales price of the home will not support this kind of an expenditure.

Construct an addition to the house for a nice family room.  With exterior siding, extra wiring, patio doors and flooring, adding extra square footage to a home can easily cost you $50,000 for a reasonably sized room.  Using that money to convert a basement into a game room or making the attic space into another bedroom and bathroom is a much better use of the money.

Remember that it is a smart idea to invest money into your home.  Just make sure that you are smart about what part of the home you spend your dollars on.