Top 16 “Quick Picks” for Adding Value to Your Home (Part 2)

Get ready for another eight ideas to spark your Do-It-Yourself imagination with the second part of our top 16 list of “Quick Picks” for adding value to your Edmond, Oklahoma home.

  1. Finish the basement.  Take that unused, un-inviting space and transform it with a bar area, seating, and welcoming décor.
  2. Add a deck.
  3. Do a major bath remodel.  Turn that master bath into an oasis, adding his and hers sinks, separate shower stall, and a relaxing garden tub.
  4. Paint.  Inside or outside.  It is the least expensive, greatest bang-for-your buck improvement you can do.
  5. Renovate the attic.  Of course you have to have the space to start with, and if so, add some windows and turn that unused space into a small bedroom suite.
  6. Build up.  Add a second floor and double the living space of your ranch style home.
  7. Add a bath.  No one ever said “This house has too many bathrooms.”
  8. New roof.  Keeps the inside dry and looks great to potential buyers from the street.

Top 16 “Quick Picks” for Adding Value to Your Home (Part 1)

There are lots of home improvement projects for all our Edmond, Oklahoma DIYers that add both functional value to your home today and resale value down the road.  To spark your creative homemaking, here’s part 1 of our 2 part “Quick Picks” list of the top 16 home improvement projects that add value to your home courtesy of our friends at HGTV.

  1. Home office remodel.  More and more folks are working at home.  Make your home work space more appealing to potential home buyers.
  2. Add a sun room (and in-turn add attractive, usable square footage).
  3. Renovate your master suite with an open, cozy feel.  Be sure to include some killer closet space.
  4. Family room.  Take a slice of your open floor plan and turn it into additional, inviting family space.
  5. Spruce up the yard.  Make the back yard an entertainment destination at your home by adding luscious plants, seating and maybe even a water feature.
  6. Kitchen remodel.
  7. Make sure any additions blend with the original house design.
  8. New windows help save on energy bills AND let buyers know that you have taken care of the home.

Real Estate Tax Related Articles

It’s tax season again.  Most of you have already filed your income taxes.  Some of you haven’t yet.  I imagine some of our Edmond, Oklahoma friends and family are even filing for an extension.  Regardless, below are a handful of helpful links to articles on a variety of Real Estate tax related topics that I felt important to pass on to everyone.  Who knows, maybe one of these articles can help you save a little money this tax season…and the next, and the next…

Here are the topics and the links:

Top 10 Tax Deductions for Homeowners
Tax Implications of Selling Your House
9 Sins Homeowners Often Commit on Their Taxes
This Could Be the Last Time to Claim 3 Popular Tax Benefits
Moved Recently? Check Out These 5 Tax Tips
6 Home Deduction Traps to Avoid
Energy Tax Credits You Can Claim
Tax Deduction Options to Know About If You Work from Home

Until next time…

Most Popular Homeowner Tax Deductions for 2013

If you’re an Edmond, Oklahoma homeowner don’t miss out on any available tax deductions you may qualify for on your 2013 Federal income taxes.  Check these out, and check with your tax preparer to make sure you received all the deductions you deserve.  Here we go:

1.  Mortgage Interest Deduction
2.  Home Improvement Loan Interest Deduction
3.  Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Deduction
4. Mortgage Points/Origination Deduction
5. Energy Efficiency Upgrades/Repairs Deduction
6. Profit on Sale of Real Estate Deduction
7. Real Estate Selling Cost Deduction
8. Home Office Deduction
9. Property Tax Deduction
10. Loan Forgiveness Deduction

Want more detailed information on each of these deductions?  Check out this great article.

Close Quarters and the Neighbor’s Dog

Ugh!  That dog barks all day, and the cat cries all night.  Either way, your Edmond, Oklahoma neighbor’s pets are driving you crazy and you’re about to blow a gasket, unless…  Unless you are the neighbor with the annoying pets.  Does your outdoor kitty use the neighbor’s yard as a litter box?  Is your dog digging holes under the fence?  That’s bad enough.  Now, think about how the matter gets even more complicated if you live in a shared living arrangement like a condo, town home, or an apartment complex.

Whether you’re in a house, apartment, condo, or town home, and regardless of your furry best friend being a dog or a cat, here are a few tips on how a pet owner in close quarters can also be a good neighbor:

  1. Training.  Cat boxes, staying off the furniture, behavior on a leash, all domestic pet behaviors can be guided through proper training.  The trick is being consistent, rewarding with small treats, and frequent tidying of the cat box.
  2. Dog barking.  This is a big one for shared living complexes.  Our best advice?  Take your dog for a walk.  Get them (and yourself) some exercise.  Dogs bark when they need attention, so give them some!
  3. Keep indoor pets inside.  Domestic animals that spend their lives indoors do not know how to act when they get outside unsupervised and without restriction.  Cats can be attacked by other cats and dogs, and loose pet dogs can suffer the same fate with automobiles.

It’s also a good idea to know any local pet laws as well as HOA bylaws concerning pets.

Budgeting for Unexpected Home Repairs

Not all home improvements are as exciting as taking a dreary Edmond, Oklahoma basement and finishing it to include a fifth bedroom, home theater, game room, and personal pottery studio.  Some improvements can be categorized more under unplanned repairs (and unplanned expenses) necessary to bring a home back to normal, everyday working condition.  We’re talking replacing a dead furnace, re-roofing cracked and warped shingles, or replacing a dishwasher.

How do you plan for the unexpected repair expense?  One way is the 1% rule, that is to say, plan on 1% of the value of your home in repair costs annually.  This way, whether you set aside some money every month, or every paycheck you’ll have the funds available when costly maintenance issues arise.

An alternate method for budgeting for the unexpected is using the $1 per square foot rule.  With this method you simply take the total number of square feet in your home and put a dollar sign in front of it to estimate how much your annual maintenance expenses may be.

It’s important to keep in mind most household appliances last 10 – 15 years before needing to be replaced.  So if you bought your home with all brand new appliances, and you’re nearing your 10 year anniversary, you may want to start budgeting for a new dishwasher, stove, water heater, fridge…

“Need to Know’s” Before Grandma Moves In

In years past it was a common occurrence for Grandma (or Grandpa) to move in with their adult children at some point during their retirement years.  Three generations (or more) in the same Edmond, Oklahoma home can have its benefits.  If your children are still younger you have a built-in babysitter so Mom and Dad can have a date night every once in a while.  Financially, the arrangement makes a lot of sense because it can be significantly less expensive than paying for Grandma to have her own place.

But for every positive that can come out of having your mother move in with you there is also a potential negative.  Making the decision for financial reasons is one thing.  But what if your decision is based on Grandma’s health?  Will she need a responsible adult in the home with her at all times?  Does she have a condition (like Alzheimer’s, for example) where her health will continue to deteriorate and eventually require a more dedicated caregiver?  Grandma’s health is just one consideration you should take into account before moving her in with you.  Here are some other considerations to ask yourself when evaluating the prospect of having Grandma move in:

  1. How has your relationship been with your mother historically?  Aside from the normal, inconsequential disagreements any two individuals can have how have you gotten along otherwise?  If your relationship has always been strained what will it be like when you’re back under the same roof?
  2. Who will be paying for what?  Avoid disagreements down the road by discussing and agreeing ahead of time who will be responsible for which expenses.
  3. What does your spouse think?  As important as it is to you to take care of your elderly parents, it’s just as important to take care of your spouse and children.  What does your spouse think about moving Grandma in?  Be clear on what Grandma’s role will be in the house in relation to the children.  Will she be “in charge” while Mom and Dad aren’t home?  Have a nice long talk with your spouse, and include the kids so know you’re taking their feelings into account too.
  4. Be realistic with time commitments.  Is your schedule going to allow you to be available as much as your mother may need you?  With all the other demands on your time can you realistically be the primary caregiver for someone who’s failing health requires more consistent attention?

From Buyer Beware to Seller Beware

You’ve heard the old sales axiom, “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware,” right?  But following on the heels of a down economy a disturbing trend has come about that should be a warning to all Edmond, Oklahoma home sellers.  Sellers beware: failure to properly (read legally) disclose defects in Real Estate up for sale will come back to bite you.

Here’s the impetus.  In good and bad economies alike homeowners across the country periodically end up in a financial situation where they need to move.  Could be unemployment, under-employment, or any combination of factors compounding the issue.  Then consider the mounting differed maintenance issues in a home where the owners’ cannot afford repairs, let alone the mortgage payment.  The thing is, when the economy takes a hit, as it specifically relates to the housing market, home values depreciate.  When values depreciate, and equity is lost, homeowners needing to move suddenly find themselves unable to afford to sell.  So the choice is eventually to forfeit a property via foreclosure, or to try to sell a home already in need of some serious help.

Perfect storm, right?  Now, homes can be sold in as-is condition, just as mortgage companies can deny a loan on a home they see as having serious defects.  The problem arises when home sellers neglect to disclose known defects in a property, defects that only come to light after the sale is complete and the new owners have moved in.  Many of these defects are addressed by law as well as in sales contracts, and suddenly the unscrupulous home seller is held accountable for more than just the price of rectifying the defect.

What are the most common non-disclosed defects resurfacing after the sale?  Termites, water damage, mold, and lead.  Even non-disclosure of previous known repair work, or the fact that a property lays within a flood plain or earthquake zone can come back on a seller.  The short solution to avoiding post sale repercussions?  Disclose everything.  The alternative?  Best not to find out for yourself.  The best advice is to talk to your Real Estate agent about creative, legal ways to facilitate the sale of problem properties.

After You Buy

All the papers are signed, house keys have passed across the table, and you leave the closing with an arm full of paperwork asking yourself, “Okay, now what?”  After the obvious, moving into your new Edmond or Greater Oklahoma City home, there are still a few important tasks you’ll want to address before you get too far past day one of this new chapter in your family’s story.

  1. Move in.  Yes, obvious, however, don’t be surprised when you move into your new home that you discover some slight blemishes you hadn’t seen before the last owners moved out.  Contracts generally state the property will be left in “broom clean” condition for the new owners.  This does not mean spotless.  So when you find a few scuff marks on the walls don’t panic.  This may be your opportunity to give the interior a fresh, clean coat of paint, and have the carpets steam cleaned or even replaced.
  2. Store those important closing papers.  If nothing else they will help you and your tax preparer establish deductions on your next round of tax returns.
  3. Protect it, and everything in it.  You undoubtedly obtained a new homeowner’s insurance policy for the new home.  Great start.  Now complete a video inventory of all your personal belongings in the home as part of your documentation for the insurance company.  Speak to your insurance agent for tips on how best to complete your video, and be sure to keep your video log in a safe place like a safety deposit box at a bank.

‘Tis the Season

Before we plunge into the holiday season we want to send a gentle reminder out to all our Edmond and Greater Oklahoma City friends and family:  ’Tis the season to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.  While you’re out on Black Friday why not pick up a couple extra packs of nine volt batteries to swap out with the tired old used ones that have done their job well over the last year?  So here’s the first of our holiday wishes:  That while the turkey is baking you go ahead and walk your home, count the number of smoke detectors you have combined on all levels, add replacement back-up batteries to your Black Friday’s shopping list, and have a happy and safe holiday season!