Friday, September 18, 2009

Sell It Later (2nd in a series)

Sell It Later - or Never (7+ Years)
If your intention is to hold on to your home for longer than seven years, then a return on your remodeling investment should be a fairly low priority. After seven years, trends change quite a bit. As I said earlier, trends right now are for simple lines, warm wood tones, and a very uncluttered look. Seven years ago, in 2002, the trend was for heavy, Olde World design - distressed painted finishes, heavy moldings, and lots of detail. Seven years before that, in 1995, everything was crisp white: white cabinets, white appliances, white floors. See what I mean? Here are some recommendations for people planning on holding on to their home for the long run.

Focus on Your Lifestyle
You are going to be using this kitchen for a long time. Take a while to be introspective. Explore how your family lives, functions, and entertains in your kitchen.
Who cooks? And how many people cook at one time?
What activities besides cooking occur in your kitchen? Homework? Bill Paying? Crafts? Can specialized areas be planned to accommodate your needs?
What are your shopping habits? Do you do one big run to the grocery store each week or do you make a stop on the way home every night specifically for the evening's meal? One habit will require more pantry storage than the other.
What about entertaining? Do you do it frequently? How many people do you typically host at once? Do you get your guests involved in meal preparation?
Research, Research, Research
You have the luxury of time. Make sure you take the appropriate steps now to ensure you are doing what will suit your lifestyle for the long haul. There is nothing worse than realizing that a better solution was available after the remodel is already complete.

Structural Changes
Moving walls and mechanics to accommodate your lifestyle should be an acceptable expense in this scenario. If the kitchen seems too small or you want to pull other living spaces together with the kitchen, then go for it. Load bearing walls (the ones that hold up the roof or second story) are more difficult and expensive to modify than partition walls (the ones that merely separate two rooms).

Don't Be Afraid of Color
A splash of color can add some much needed drama to a space. Not brave enough to do electric blue appliances or fire engine red cabinets? Me either. Keep the permanent items (like cabinets, countertops, and floors) in versatile neutral tones, then make a pop with wall tiles, accents, and wall coverings. Painting the walls a deep tone is a great way to start if you're afraid of color. Afterall, a new color is only a brush stroke away.

Your Personal Stamp
So what is your personal style? Maybe you've got a collection of antique cookie jars. Perhaps you love the color blue. An avid baker? Find a way to make your space reflects your personality - whatever it is.

Proper Lighting Is a Must!
Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine? Great lighting can make or break a room. And don't let someone convince you that proper lighting means as much lighting as you can get in a space. Sometimes ambient lighting and shadow cna have as drmatic an impact as a spotlight.

Be Value Conscious
Just because something is more expensive doesn't necessarily mean it's a better option for the long-term. Like I said above - do your homework. Understand the good and bad of each option. Rarely is there one solution that's right for everyone. Conversely, sometimes spending a little extra now makes sense in the long run. Just amke sure the extra price tag is warranted by extra value.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sell It Soon

It’s a question I get asked all the time, “How much should I worry about resale value while I’m remodeling my kitchen?” The truth is, there isn’t a single right answer for everyone. How long do you plan to live there? How extensive are your remodeling plans? Are your lifestyle needs different than the average homeowner? How important is the return on your remodeling investment?
If you were to narrow it down to one question, I think the most important has to do with the length of time you intend to own the home. For my clients, I break it down to 3 timeframes: Sell It Soon; Sell It In a Little While; Sell It Later (or Never).
This is the first of three sets of recommendation to make sure you maximize your remodeling experience…

Sell It Soon (<3years)
If you’re planning on putting your home on the market within the next 3 years, then return on investment should be near the top of your remodeling priorities. Even in this sluggish real estate market, if sold within 2 years, a homeowner should expect to realize between a 76%-79% return on investment for the Tampa Bay Market. To help you get the most bang for your buck, here are some tips:
Determine Your Target Market
Does your neighborhood cater to the young and hip or is it a more established and traditional area? Either way, you want to adjust your design style accordingly.
Focus on Aesthetics
Go for the most visual bang for your buck. If your budget doesn’t allow for both the all-wood cabinet and the fancy doorstyle, opt for the fancy doorstyle. Remember, looks count. Longevity doesn’t.

Code Beige
Even though you might be turned on by bold uses of color, homebuyers generally aren’t. Skip the color wheel and opt for light wood tones and neutral finishes (most homebuyers visualize better with a blank canvas).

Skip the Extras
His & Hers warming drawers, motorized spice racks, and built-in espresso machines might be just what you always wanted in your dream kitchen. But when it comes to resale value, you’ve just thrown a lot of money out the window. Stick with the basics – pick an appliance line that’s appropriate for your home (too entry-level can turn off a discriminating buyer; too luxurious is a waste of investment) and stick to the basic models. When in doubt, pick the stainless steel finish in a less-expensive line. For storage conveniences – no more than a few well-placed roll out trays and a lazy susan in the corner.
Minimize Structural Changes
Nothing eats up a kitchen budget faster than moving walls and all the mechanics that go with it. Don’t try to make all the design changes that have bugged you while you lived there. You’re not trying to solve your problems, you’re trying to sell your home. If you aren’t sure, ask a design professional if a structural change is a wise idea.

Follow the Trends
If you’re selling your home soon, it pays to follow the latest styles. Right now, simplistic is in – simple lines, warm tones, stone countertops, stainless steel appliances. The more current the kitchen looks, the more attractive it will be to potential buyers.

Proper Lighting is a Must!
Lighting is so often an afterthought, but it needs to be a priority for resale. A good lighting design can change the whole demeanor of a small kitchen. Plan it from the beginning.
Focus on the Negative
If your kitchen seems small, consider reducing the amount of cabinetry you have. Creating a focal point with negative space is not only visually pleasing, but it will cut down on your budget by reducing the amount of cabinetry you require.

If you follow these basic rules, you should end up with a kitchen that potential buyers love – at a price that won’t break your bank!