This Home Improvement Project Offers the Worst Return on Investment

ImageMany home remodeling projects do wonders for the value of the home. Certain upgrades and renovations pay dividends when it comes time to sell, and you often can recoup the money you’ve invested in the upgrade.

There are exceptions, however. And one stands head and shoulders above the rest (or should I say below) when it comes to return on investment: 

The home office. 

Surprised? It may seem like a home office would be a boon for your home at sale time, especially considering the number of people who telecommute and work online. But the fact of the matter is, a home office seldom recoups more than 45% of the money invested in the remodel. 

Why? Multiple factors.

First, even people who work at home often don’t work at home. When was the last time you walked into a coffee shop and didn’t see a laptop open? Many people still find space outside the home to work. 

Second, a full-on home office renovation often takes up a bedroom which new owners might want to be able to convert back into a bedroom. If you’ve spent the time and money having built-in furniture added, media wiring, and other “office like” details installed, it represents a cost to restore or lost-usage for the new owners.

Of course, if you need a home office and want to have the home office of your dreams, it might be worth it to you to put the return on investment aside. But don’t undertake the project thinking it will pay off down the line. 

Curious which home remodeling projects pay off at the sale of your Lehigh Valley home? Let’s talk about what you’re considering: call me at 484-893-1234 or email joe@debandjoe.com.

Emotional Traps of Selling Your Home

I absolutely feel for clients who are stressed out during the sale of their home. While we do everything we can to make the process as smooth as possible, there are always high-stakes feelings on the table. Unfortunately, these mistakes can cost sellers thousands.

In the interest of protecting sellers everywhere, here are some of the common “emotional traps” that can directly impact how well (and for how much!) a home sells:

Emotional Trap #1: Pricing High

You’ve loved your home. You may have raised kids or started a marriage there. Everywhere you look, you see history, memories, and the reasons you fell in love with the place. I guarantee you: Buyers can’t see these. Remember: What you may think is an amenity might not be for a buyer, too. It could even be a negative. Distance your emotions from the list price.

Emotional Trap #2: Hovering at Showings

Sure, there may be times when you need to be there. But 9 out of 10 times, you’re only going to make buyers uncomfortable, get your feelings hurt when the buyers don’t like something, or take each minor complaint as commentary on how you’ve treated the place. Perhaps worst of all? You might prevent them from giving the agent honest feedback that would help you and your agent sell your home faster.

Emotional Trap #3: Turning Down the First Offers

Some of the sweetest interest in your home is going to happen in the first 14 – 21 days it’s on the market. If offers come during this time, consider them seriously! The longer it sits, the more likely it is you’re going to face price reductions. Don’t get cocky early on when offers come in and think there will be a steady stream. You might end up selling the home to these same people for less down the line.

Emotional Trap #4: Feeling Insulted by Negotiations

This may sound crazy, but when you’re in the middle of a sale, it’s a very real phenomenon. Remember: They’re not buying you, they’re buying the house. Negotiations prove the buyer is serious, so unplug from the nitpicking fast.

We provide our clients with the rational balance and support they need during the marketing and sale of their home. We’ll be glad to help you sell yours: just call us at 484-893-1234 or email homes@debandjoe.com

I Can See for Miles at this new Listing!

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Where oh where can you find this great view and still be only two miles away from I-78?  How about beautiful Weisenberg Township near Fogelsville?  We just listed this great home there at 8490 Cliff Forest St and I can’t wait for people to see it!  It’s a 2702 square foot home that was built in 1993.  The owner has done some great things with this one, adding a family room and adjacent Florida room to the existing home several years ago.  The roof was replaced a year ago and the vinyl on the front of the home was redone with brick.  The master bedroom is huge and of course there’s a master bath.  The other bedrooms are also spacious and one of them has a balcony, which is where I shot the photo at right.  The current owner uses this bedroom as an office.  Imagine taking a break from work to sit outside catch this view!  The home is listed for just $350,000 and you can get more information at The Lehigh Valley Home Store!

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Beware the Phantom in Your Home!

LED lightsIf it seems like your energy bills keep going up and up while you’ve been doing everything you can to reduce your usage, read on! There’s a “phantom menace” that’s at work here and it’s all the rage in consumer electronics.

While increased energy costs are certainly playing a part, long gone are the days when shouting at the kids to “turn off the light!” was a sure way to save on electricity (though installing reduced-energy bulbs is a good move, too).  75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while products are turned off, according to the The U.S. Department of Energy.  The term to describe this is known as “phantom load.”

Home entertainment systems with remote controls, wireless routers, appliances with clocks, electronics that use a power adaptor (i.e. a wall cube) and computer printers are all good targets for reducing phantom loads. If you can feasibly eliminate these loads, you can save a lot of money over the course of the year.

So how do you eliminate phantom load? Unplugging devices every day is a hassle, but one sound alternative is the use of power strips which allow you to kill the connection to the main outlet without having to unplug devices.Check out Staples or your favorite office supply store to find a variety of options for allowing certain devices to “pass through” while others are shut off. This can be useful when you have certain devices which do need to be “on standby” while others do not.

While going green is a perfectly good reason to reduce your power consumption, the money you save on power can go to other household expenses, family vacations, and perhaps even the down payment on your next (or first!) home.

Keep an eye out for those energy vampires! Usually you can tell who they are by their LED lights glowing in the night.

I love to help my clients get the most out of their home. If you’re thinking of selling or searching for a home soon, please get in touch today by calling my office at 484-893-1234 or by email at joe@debandjoe.com.

New iPad Reminds Me of Great Apps for the Home

Photo of iPad

The announcement of the new iPad this week got me to thinking about some really cool apps I’ve seen over the last several months.  Here are the five best, most of which are free. (Even the ones that aren’t free are so worth it that you might want to try them out anyway.)

Who would have thought that you could control your TV with your iPad? And match colors you see in the world to exact hues with Sherwin-Williams? And carry a comprehensive wood grain library with you everywhere you go? Oh, and did I mention: An app to measure your rooms and a different one to help you decorate them? 

ColorSnap: Capture real world colors and match them to Sherwin-Williams paint colors—for free.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/colorsnap/id316256242?mt=8

Remodelista: Looking for the perfect couch, stylish DIYs, or inspiration to refresh your space? Get your daily deco fix with the new Home Design App from Remodelista.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/remodelista/id377290615?mt=8

 Control4: Turn your iPad into a touch screen remote! Control your TV, lights, sound system and home security from one place:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/control4-my-home-for-ipad/id364304056?mt=8 

Photo Measures Lite: Photo Measures is the most elegant and the easiest way to save measures on your own photos on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photo-measures-lite/id417222688?mt=8

I.D. Wood: A powerful reference guide to help you ID any kind of wood, or choose a color and grain for future projects.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/i-d-wood/id325838725?mt=8 

Not a homeowner yet?  I can help you with that! I guide first-time buyers through a pain-free process all the time. Reach out to me today and I’ll send you a free copy of a great book called “Your First Home”.  E-mail or call me at 484-893-1234 to get yours!

What van Gogh can teach us about Real Estate

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found those dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

Vincent van Gogh, Dutch painter (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890)
http://www.vangoghgallery.com/

Artists take risks. They pursue their vision, often without financial security, facing long odds while stewing in their own self-doubt. When the world tells them “it’s not safe,” they listen to their own voice despite “prevailing wisdom.” They have a vision and they pursue it.

Occasionally, if they’re very lucky, they get to look back on their life and see the path that lead them to create a masterpiece. At the time, the path wasn’t easy, yet in retrospect, it looks very much like the only possible path they could take.

I think in twenty years or even ten years, we’re going to hear the collective sound of people kicking themselves because they did not buy a home this year. As their teenage sons and daughters graduate and enter the future job market and begin searching for their first home, they’ll turn to their parents and say, “Seriously? You’re telling me when I was in middle school, you could get a 30-year fixed for under 5%?”

Too many remain terrified by the last great storm in the housing market. They stand now on the shores of incredible opportunity, but can’t shake the vision of all those values sinking into oblivion.

Think about the future. Who might need a home? Is there an opportunity to “be the bank” when the time comes? The descendants of those savvy collectors who bough a Van Gogh painting for mere dollars in 1885 are surely grateful for their grandparents’ eyes today, aren’t they?

Yes, there is uncertainty, but this is the calmest water you’re ever going to see. Set sail now and buy a home. Those that do will certainly be rewarded. As for the masterpiece? It will be the satisfaction of looking back and realizing they bought at just the right time.

There’s certainly no risk to exploring the opportunity. I’d love the opportunity to sit down with you and plot a possible course to the best investment you could make. Contact me today at: homes@debandjoe.com or 484-893-1234.

FHA Mortgage Fees Increase on Friday

Once again the cost of borrowing money using an FHA loan is increasing! The increase in the Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) will add about $40 to the monthly payment for a typical home sold in the Lehigh Valley. The amount of the increase will vary slightly depending on the percentage of the sale price a buyer puts down. The minimum requirement for an FHA mortgage is 3.5%. The fee increase takes effect Friday, so if you’ve found the home you love call me and we’ll get an FHA case number assigned in time to beat the deadline!