You’re tired of the white walls. You’re sick of not having a pool in the summer. You’ve been dreaming of a granite counter top since you were moved out of your apartment. You’re ready to upgrade your home.
Most experts agree, upgrading your slice of the “American Dream” will dramatically improve the quality of life where you work, sleep, eat or play. “A home is one of, or for most people, the single largest investment made in their lifetime
and it should be maintained and updated when needed for quality of life,” says Steve Tedesco, owner of Stevens Kitchens, Inc. Not to mention, upgrades will improve resale value when the time is right. “Home improvements are one of the biggest factors when determining a home’s value,” says Realtor with Weichert Realtors-Hallmark Properties, Jarrod Robbins. “Homes will definitely hold more value when the right improvements have been made.”
Right now, if your funds allow, is an especially good time to find stellar deals from contractors, suppliers and even the government if you are upgrading to be more energy efficient. “Items covered by the Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency to consumers are: windows and doors, insulation, metal and asphalt roofs, non-solar water heaters and biomass stoves,” says Billy White, accredited financial counselor with Billy G. White & Associates. “You can receive tax credits of up to 30 percent or $1500 of cost depending on what and when you purchase.” As far as supplies go, Tedesco says that granite counter tops are at an all time low and many companies are offering free services or upgrades previously unavailable to entice buyers. The upgrade market is showing similar trends to the real estate market in that it’s a buyer’s market.
Perfect. So now is the time to buy, right? Well, if you’re serious about a major home overhaul, White suggests to begin budgeting and saving right now and purchasing or financing only if you’re sure your wallet can allow. “When creating a budget to do large home improvements a family should start saving immediately, regardless of the amount being saved,” he says. “Start by determining where the money will come from and opening a savings or money market account, whichever is paying highest interest at the present time. Then, make weekly deposits to achieve the desired financing for the project.” If you wish to go to outside sources for financing, such as taking a loan, White stresses checking current interest rates at various banks and credit unions and, no matter what, do not touch loan options tied to your retirement account.
Great – so now you’ve got your funds set aside. Now, what should you upgrade? “To me the most valuable upgrades to homeowners are neutral paint colors on the interior and exterior of the home, 42″ kitchen cabinets, nice counter tops, upgraded fixtures, and laminate or wood flooring,” says Robbins.
Now that you’ve got the funds and your ideas, the next step is getting it done. Odds are, you will want to hire a licensed professional. Remember to take the surrounding neighborhood into account. “It can be overdone,” warns Tedesco. “Don’t let a salesman oversell you – look at your neighborhood and upgrade accordingly.” Robbins warns of the same mistake: “The biggest thing to remember is to not to ‘over-improve’ your home based on the neighborhood you live in,” he says.
No matter the neighborhood, they agree home improvements are generally a good investment however. “Remember, the average home improvement has a minimum return on investment of 59 percent,” says White.
The only thing left to do now is get moving.
Article by Corey Gehrold