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Negative equity seems to be declining nationwide. About 43 million homeowners now have positive equity while about 6.5 million are still negative equity. Homeowners equity rose by $2.1 trillion last year to $10 trillion. Positive equity makes it easier for homeowners to refinance and to sell their properties. California leads the pack with about 12.5% still underwater (13.3% nationwide) while Nevada tops the chart with 30.4% still underwater. Equity of less than 20% is considered "under-equitied" which is still better than negative equity but not as good as 20% equity. Call us if you in the "Under-Equtied" category for refinancing programs available for you. 

However, there is a flip side to the story. Homeowners are frustrated due to their inability to tap their home equity. Despite low interest rates, it's become harder to borrow. Banks are requiring pristine credit since the great recession of 2008. Banks must now hold more money in reserve for each home-equity credit line they extend. So home-equity lines have become a less attractive business for banks than loans that require lower reserves. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can now send home loans that default back to the banks that provided them inflicting losses on the banks. Fannie and Freddie also view cash-out refinancing as riskier now and have imposed higher fees to guarantee them. This makes such loans costlier for banks and consumers. Banks are increasingly focusing on the most credit worthy borrowers requiring an average credit score of 780 to get a home equity loan (barely 30% of households have scores that high).

Posted by Sam Kader on March 16th, 2014 11:37 AM

a) An Updated Kitchen. An updated kitchen such as newer appliances, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, convection ovens, professional ranges, and high-quality floorings, such as wood, laminate, tile or stone. cabinetery must also be in good condition.

b) Modern Bathrooms. A big asset is a spa or whirlpool tub or master baths that give a little room to roam. Separate showers with steam or multiple jets, a dole sink and a separate room for the toilet.
c) A Master Suite. A luxurious bathroom, lounging areas and walk-in closets. Fireplace, feeling of privacy.
d) Natural Materials. In floor coverings especially bathrooms or kitchens, look for ceramic tile or wood rather than linoleum which can tear.
e) Landscaping. Water features (yes even in Seattle), gardens, and mature trees and shrubs.
f) Storage. Pull-down storage, rack systems and hidden storage off garage or bedroom areas.
g) Smart home. Controlling lights and air conditioning with a phone to connection home security systems from work. 

 

4 Things that can reduce a house's value.
a) A pool.
b) No garage or small garage.
c) Garbled floor plan.
d) Outmoded appliances or systems.

Small Budget Fixes

  • Swap out old light fixtures to modernize the feel of the interior.
  • Buy a new bathroom vanity. Add a new faucet and inexpensive peel-and-stick tiling.
  • Add a colorful flowers in a planter on the front porch.
  • Buy a new mailbox to replace a shabby old one.
  • Touch up paint on the door and shutters.
  • Apply neutral-colored paint with white trim to help the home's architectural details stand out.
  • Replace the oldest kitchen appliance specifically a dishwasher.
  • Have the air-ducts cleaned.
  • Upgraded/installed home's trim molding.
        

Things to consider before remodeling:

  1. Is it truly necessary or are you just trying to keep up with the neighbors?  Sometimes a big remodeling job is so expensive that you might be better off moving to a newer home.
  2. Can you afford it? Is your income secure?
  3. How long you intend to stay in the house? If less than 5 years, consider simple improvements.
  4. Prepare for the worst. Remodeling is a messy, inconvenient and costs more than anticipated.          
Things NOT TO DO in remodeling: 
  1. Convert the garage into an additional room. When it comes to sell, that enclosed garage may be a turnoff to buyers.
  2. Not having a second bathroom
  3. Illegal additions and failure to obtain permits. Your must get permits and use licensed contractors and be in compliance.
  4. Poor home maintenance such as clog-up gutters, not changing air conditioning filters.
  5. Losing bedrooms such as if you remove walls between bedroom, or eliminate closets or make structural changes that eliminate a bedroom - you may decrease the value of the house.
  6. Not updating worn-out flooring.
  7. Not replacing old and dated kitchen appliances.
  8. Not replacing worn draperies, counter tops or light switch covers.
  9. Over-kill on landscaping such as too much outdoor living - pool, fire-pit and outdoor kitchen.
  10. Having trampolines and above-ground pools. (no matter how nice it looks)   
Remember - at the end of the day the neighborhood determines the value of your home.

When do you need  design help? 
  • If your project involved adding more square footage or structural changes. 
  • If you are changing the use of the space
  • If you project will affect egress and safety. 
  • If intricate details are required for construction and installation. 
  • If a specialty need is involved such as aging in place of accessibility. 
  • If you are reconfiguring spaces and floor plans in the living areas or basement. 
  • When the project involves more than removal and replacement. 
  • For assistance with color and finish detail selections. 
When do you need a building permit? 
  • When adding onto or expanding the current footprint. 
  • When the project involves making strutural or wall changes. 
  • When changing the use of space like turning a rec room into a bedroom. 
  • When it affects egress and safety. 
  • In commercial or multifamily properties expecially those with ADA requirements. 
  • When the scope of work involves utilities such as gas, plumbing, water, sewer, eletctrical etc. 
  • If the project involves work not listed on the jurisdictions permit exemptions list. 





























































































































































Posted by Sam Kader on September 6th, 2010 8:54 AM

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