Most Important Rooms to Update

These room updates will give you the most enjoyment for your effort.

If money was no object, we would love to remodel our entire home, but many of us have to pick and choose which remodeling projects we tackle. Certain rooms are used more often and can greatly effect your home price.

The following rooms and spaces are the most important to update for many reasons. Either they are used a lot or they can greatly affect the price of your home and its ability to sell quickly.

KITCHEN: This room is the heart of the home and from an investment standpoint, it’s the most important room to do and one that potentially can recoup a chunk of the costs. A major overhaul (new cabinets, floors, counters and appliances) may get you back about 68 percent of your investment, but if your space needs just a minor remodel (refinishing cabinets, paint and counters), expect about a 72 percent return on your investment. Kitchens need to be updated if you have plans to sell.

Bathroom remodelBATHROOM: It’s a potentially expensive room to repair, but it’s another one that is important to have updated and in great condition. Kitchens and bathrooms are what buyers want, if you are considering placing your house on the market in the near future.Read More »

5 Most Expensive Home Repairs

Expensive home repairs can be worth it in the long run.

As a homeowner you have probably had to make a decision on how to spend your repair or remodeling dollars. Many times that decision is made simply out of necessity (you NEED a working bathroom). Other times you have to choose where the dollars and time will be best spent based on a combination of needs and desires, and which ones might have the best return on your investment. What are the most expensive home repairs and which rooms are probably most important to update?

Most Expensive Home Repairs

POOL: If you have one, you know why. Liners, filters, heating units, general maintenance and then there is the surrounding pool deck area as well. If a major repair is needed, you can be sure to spend a nice chunk of change.Most Expensive Rooms To Upgrade

WINDOWS: This can vary greatly in price, but if you need to replace all the windows in your home, you are looking at a big price tag. Windows and sliding doors have a multitude of options to choose from with a wide range of prices as well, from standard to super-efficient or custom-made (high price).

ROOF: Once a roof is shot, the replacement is costly and not very satisfying as a homeowner. Really, who notices your new shingles? Roofing materials also come in a variety of styles and prices. Hire a reputable contractor for a job as important as your roof.

KITCHEN: Major repairs to a kitchen can be costly if new appliances, cupboards and surfaces are needed. The good news is that a new kitchen IS a repair expense that is easier to swallow, because you will enjoy the new space every day.

BATHROOOM: Like a kitchen, bathroom repairs can add up fast. If the room needs to be gutted or if mold exists behind the walls, you will need a decent budget to fix it up. Having a safe and updated bathroom is worth the money.Read More »

What’s the Difference between a Townhome, Twin-home and a Condo?

A townhome, twin-home or condo could be perfect for you.

Many people want to own their own place, but don’t necessarily want the responsibility or expense of taking care of the yard or exterior of the home. What are their options? Typically, people turn to townhomes, twin-homes or condos. Aren’t they just about the same? Not really. What is the difference between a townhome, twin-home and condo?Townhome

Townhome

Generally a row of identical or mirror image houses sharing side walls (except for the end units who have just one common wall). They are owned separately and are allowed to maintain their small yard that is in the front or back of their home, but they also pay association dues, which usually cover the costs of shared property (common space, roof and exterior) and snow removal for the common driveways. Townhomes pretty much look just alike.

Twin-home

A twin-home is basically 2 homes that share a common wall, with 2 separate owners and two yards. The property line runs down the center of the home. You can do what you want with your side of the house and yard…they can have different roofs and be different colors and have different landscape designs.

Condos

Condos are in multi-level buildings and not only share walls, but they have units above and below them, as well. They own their own unit and patio or balcony, but don’t own really any land. They pay association dues which covers all the maintenance of the lawn and grounds, parking lot or garage, as well as any recreational areas like workout facilities, tennis courts or a pool.

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How to Find a Qualified Home Inspector

What to consider when looking for a home inspector.

Before you buy and move into that darling colonial house on the corner, it’s imperative to know the house is structurally sound and the systems are in good working condition. You need an expert’s opinion on what issues are a simple fix and what problems might end up as a deal breaker. How do you find an inspector and how can you be confident that the inspector you hire is qualified?Inspector

Recommendations

Your real estate agent has likely worked with many inspectors over the years and has their favorites. That is a good place to start – but it shouldn’t be your only option. Make sure you get not only recommendations, but references, and get them from more than just your agent.

Certification

There isn’t any official licensing to become a home inspector in the state of Minnesota, but you can find inspectors who have taken courses and are certified through the Professional Home Inspection Institute (PHII) and are members of reputable organizations, such as ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors) and MSHI (Minnesota Society of Home Inspectors). These organizations have rigorous requirements for membership, offer continuing education classes for technical skills and customer service. These organizations offer search engines on their web sites for you to find an inspector in your area by simply plugging in your city or zip code.Read More »

Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

What to consider when buying a vacation home.

What to consider when purchasing a vacation home.With the unpredictable Minnesota weather, it’s easy to fantasize about that vacation home of our dreams. Maybe for you it’s on the beach somewhere…or in the mountains. Or up north tucked away in the woods. Regardless of where you dream about that vacation home being, you will need to consider a lot of things before pulling the trigger. Here are some tips for buying a vacation home.

Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

Location – The majority of second home-buyers choose a vacation home within driving distance of their primary residence and near a metropolitan area (for conveniences). But many too, opt for a place in a warmer climate or in the mountains. Consider the risks regardless of where you choose to look. Beachfront homes obviously have the risk of hurricane or storm damage. Any river or lakeshore property has flooding potential. And picturesque mountain or cliff-side residences have snow removal issues and a mud-season. Just do your research and know the risks before buying.

Rent Before You Buy – You may think you know exactly where you want to be – maybe it’s a special place that you’ve vacationed to every year and you are SURE that is the place for you. But have you spent time there in the off-season? And as a resident vs a vacationer? You need to do that first – many owners of vacation homes rented for an entire season or year prior to purchasing. This allowed them to really determine where they wanted to be and where they didn’t want to be – based on traffic patterns, shopping options, restaurants, etc. You might be surprised what you learn while renting.Read More »

How to Qualify for a Home Mortgage

What You Need to Qualify for a Home Mortgage What you need to qualify for a home mortgage

You think you’re finally ready to start shopping for a home. You have been saving for a down payment, and trimming your debts. That’s a great start but what else do you need to do in order to qualify for a home mortgage?

Check Your Credit Score:  Order your credit report from one of the reputable services and review it carefully for any errors or inaccuracies.  If need be, work with the credit bureau to clear up those discrepancies.  You will want your credit score to be as high as possible.  Knowing where you stand before seeking a mortgage is very helpful.

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Myths Surrounding the ACA and Housing Liens

Another Facebook Misconception Floats Around the Internet How to use Facebook as a realtor.

ATTN: All State and Local GAD’s –

There is an Affordable Care Act (ACA) related item that is making it’s rounds on Facebook and getting plenty of forwards via email that we’re sure you’ll get a few questions on.  Wanted to share, since incorrect news tends to travel quickly.

The posting being circulated claims that the IRS can attach a lien to a home if the owner fails to comply with the health reform individual mandate. The posting is wrong. The IRS cannot attach a lien.

Here’s an independent third-party piece from the non-partisan Kaiser News Network that addresses the claim. Michelle Andrews is one of the top health care reporters. The piece is posted here.

Q: I am seeing rumors on Facebook that if people opt out of buying health insurance and don’t pay the penalty for not having it, the Internal Revenue Service will be able to put a lien on their home. Is it true? Could they end up facing this type of penalty?

A: It’s not true. Starting next year, most people will have to have health insurance or face a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater. The penalty increases gradually to $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016.

The penalty will be treated like income tax due, says Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at CCH, a tax and business information publisher.

Normally the IRS can garnish wages and file liens and levies to collect unpaid income taxes, but the health care law specifically prohibits those activities if people don’t pay the penalty for not having insurance, says Luscombe.

So if someone doesn’t pay the penalty, “all the IRS can do is offset the refund,” he says.

Spread the word.

The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® is the largest professional trade association in the state with more than 17,000 members who are active in all aspects of the real estate industry.