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Jodi Bakst, Broker Owner of Real Estate Experts, Earns the Certified International Property Specialist Designation

Jodi Bakst, Broker Owner of Real Estate Experts, Earns the Certified International Property Specialist Designation

Certified International ProfessionalJodi Bakst, Broker Owner of Real Estate Experts located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina has earned the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation, placing her among 3,500 elite real estate professionals in over 45 countries.  The designation was awarded to her by the National Association of REALTORS® for completing rigorous coursework devoted to learning international real estate practices and demonstrating proficiency in international business.

The CIPS designation is synonymous with advanced expertise, a global perspective, and distinct understanding of a global buyer. As a designee, Ms. Bakst has the knowledge and resources to efficiently work with international buyers, including U.S. residents looking to invest overseas, foreign buyers purchasing in the United States, as well as recent immigrants who might be unfamiliar with real estate transaction practices in the United States.

For more information on the CIPS designation, visit www.nar.realtor/whycips.  To contact Ms. Bakst directly you can email her at [email protected] or call her at 919-928-5131 x2.

Home Improvements: Trends and ROI

Home Improvements: Trends and ROI

Home Improvements

Home Improvements

If you are considering making home improvements, one of the primary considerations will be the potential return on investment. Here are some of the most common home renovations and their ROI:

Home Improvements vs. Home Maintenance

If your roof is 20 years old, it’s time to replace it rather than remodel your bathroom to make it more aesthetically-pleasing. Many home buyers are finding it difficult to come up with a down payment and monthly mortgage payment, let alone the funds to maintain the property they just bought. Most home buyers don’t want the headache of extra costs following the actual purchase. First-time home buyers in particular are inclined to look for properties that require little to no home maintenance and are “move-in ready.”

Green home improvements can greatly impact a home’s energy efficiency, which has the added benefit of compounding savings over time. According to the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report (RII), a joint study from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Association of Realtors, here are some high ROI projects:

  • Insulation upgrade: approximately 95 percent ROI
  • Replacing old windows: approximately 80 percent ROI for new vinyl windows; approximately 58 percent ROI for new wood windows
  • HVAC Replacement: approximately 71 percent ROI
  • New roofing: approximately 105 percent ROI

Kitchen Renovations

An updated kitchen is a key selling point with home buyers; after all, it’s the heart of the home! According to the RII survey, 79 percent of remodelers say that kitchen upgrades are the secKitchen Renovationsond most popular renovation project in 2016. Kitchen colors are changing, and although white is still a popular choice,everything from cabinets to backsplashes will be done in less saturated tones, according to interior designer Jane Lockhart. “Charcoal, grays, and even neutral pastels like pale blue, pale green gray, and tinted whites are the new alternative to the standard white,” she says. Consumers are also interested in new ways to maximize kitchen storage, with cabinetry featuring deeper or multi-tiered drawers. Granite and quartz continue to be the most desired countertop materials, with neutral gray or brown color palettes. With a full kitchen renovation, you can expect up to a 67 percent ROI.

Bathroom Renovations

Bathroom Renovations

The major trend in updating bathrooms is removing the garden tub and replacing it with a large shower “room,” allowing the occupant to enjoy a spa-like experience. The room is typically completely tiled and often features a bench and storage nooks for soaps and towels. Add some square-shaped fixtures and shower heads to remain on-trend.  Shower seats and grab bars, once delegated to senior citizens, are going mainstream. Bathroom colors are trending toward cool tones that create a tranquil environment. Blues and greens can be paired with white and touches of wood for a fresh, serene vibe. According to the RII survey, bathroom models will yield an attractive ROI of 58 percent.

Hardwood Flooring Upgrades

Hardwood Flooring Upgrade

The top request of home buyers across the nation? Hardwood floors, according to HGTV. In fact, the National Association of REALTORS® found that 54% of home buyers were willing to pay more for a home with hardwood flooring. Home buyers want hardwood flooring because it easily unites many rooms and is the easiest to clean. Installing hardwood can be expensive–between $9 and $12 per square foot, compared with about $3 to $5 per square foot for carpet—so you may opt to install hardwood only in some rooms rather than throughout your home.You can expect an ROI of up to 100 percent by installing or refurbishing hardwood flooring in your main living areas, or even throughout your home!

An Open Floor Plan

Open Floor Plan

Up to 40 percent of home buyers prefer an open floor plan that seamlessly blends the kitchen, dining area, and family room. Tearing down walls to create open spaces is a big trend in home improvement right now. If you live in a single-story home, where none of the interior walls are load-bearing, removing them is relatively simple. In a multi-story house, however, you must ensure the wall you want to remove is not load-bearing. You will most likely need to consult with a structural engineer to advise you on the feasibility of taking down a wall, and what additional work you would need to do to shore up the house if you want to remove a load-bearing wall.The specific percentage of value recovered from the cost of opening up a floor plan is difficult to estimate due to the large range of construction issues that affect final costs.

If you would like more information about major or minor home improvements and their expected ROI, contact us today at 919-813-6449 or send us an email to  [email protected]. Visit us online at realestateexperts.net.

Home Improvements

Home Improvements

If you are considering making home improvements, one of the primary considerations will be the potential return on investment. Here are some of the most common home renovations and their ROI:

Home Improvements vs. Home Maintenance

If your roof is 20 years old, it’s time to replace it rather than remodel your bathroom to make it more aesthetically-pleasing. Many home buyers are finding it difficult to come up with a down payment and monthly mortgage payment, let alone the funds to maintain the property they just bought. Most home buyers don’t want the headache of extra costs following the actual purchase. First-time home buyers in particular are inclined to look for properties that require little to no home maintenance and are “move-in ready.”

Green home improvements can greatly impact a home’s energy efficiency, which has the added benefit of compounding savings over time. According to the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report (RII), a joint study from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Association of Realtors, here are some high ROI projects:

  • Insulation upgrade: approximately 95 percent ROI
  • Replacing old windows: approximately 80 percent ROI for new vinyl windows; approximately 58 percent ROI for new wood windows
  • HVAC Replacement: approximately 71 percent ROI
  • New roofing: approximately 105 percent ROI

Kitchen Renovations

An updated kitchen is a key selling point with home buyers; after all, it’s the heart of the home! According to the RII survey, 79 percent of remodelers say that kitchen upgrades are the secKitchen Renovationsond most popular renovation project in 2016. Kitchen colors are changing, and although white is still a popular choice,everything from cabinets to backsplashes will be done in less saturated tones, according to interior designer Jane Lockhart. “Charcoal, grays, and even neutral pastels like pale blue, pale green gray, and tinted whites are the new alternative to the standard white,” she says. Consumers are also interested in new ways to maximize kitchen storage, with cabinetry featuring deeper or multi-tiered drawers. Granite and quartz continue to be the most desired countertop materials, with neutral gray or brown color palettes. With a full kitchen renovation, you can expect up to a 67 percent ROI.

Bathroom Renovations

Bathroom Renovations

The major trend in updating bathrooms is removing the garden tub and replacing it with a large shower “room,” allowing the occupant to enjoy a spa-like experience. The room is typically completely tiled and often features a bench and storage nooks for soaps and towels. Add some square-shaped fixtures and shower heads to remain on-trend.  Shower seats and grab bars, once delegated to senior citizens, are going mainstream. Bathroom colors are trending toward cool tones that create a tranquil environment. Blues and greens can be paired with white and touches of wood for a fresh, serene vibe. According to the RII survey, bathroom models will yield an attractive ROI of 58 percent.

Hardwood Flooring Upgrades

Hardwood Flooring Upgrade

The top request of home buyers across the nation? Hardwood floors, according to HGTV. In fact, the National Association of REALTORS® found that 54% of home buyers were willing to pay more for a home with hardwood flooring. Home buyers want hardwood flooring because it easily unites many rooms and is the easiest to clean. Installing hardwood can be expensive–between $9 and $12 per square foot, compared with about $3 to $5 per square foot for carpet—so you may opt to install hardwood only in some rooms rather than throughout your home.You can expect an ROI of up to 100 percent by installing or refurbishing hardwood flooring in your main living areas, or even throughout your home!

An Open Floor Plan

Open Floor Plan

Up to 40 percent of home buyers prefer an open floor plan that seamlessly blends the kitchen, dining area, and family room. Tearing down walls to create open spaces is a big trend in home improvement right now. If you live in a single-story home, where none of the interior walls are load-bearing, removing them is relatively simple. In a multi-story house, however, you must ensure the wall you want to remove is not load-bearing. You will most likely need to consult with a structural engineer to advise you on the feasibility of taking down a wall, and what additional work you would need to do to shore up the house if you want to remove a load-bearing wall.The specific percentage of value recovered from the cost of opening up a floor plan is difficult to estimate due to the large range of construction issues that affect final costs.

If you would like more information about major or minor home improvements and their expected ROI, contact us today at 919-813-6449 or send us an email to  [email protected]. Visit us online at realestateexperts.net.

Home Loan Down Payment

Image courtesy of housingwire.com.

If there is one area in real estate that confuses potential home buyers, it’s the preconceived notion that you are required to make a 20% home loan down payment. Consumers, particularly millennials and first-time home buyers, are tentative about taking the plunge toward home ownership due to this belief, according a recent survey (Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers) by the National Association of REALTORS (NARS).

This perception runs contrary to data collected by NARS over the past 35 years.  The data indicates that the average median down payment for first-time buyers is five percent on average.

“It’s possible some of the hesitation about buying among young adults is from them not realizing there are mortgage financing options available that do not require a 20 percent home loan down payment.

Consumers are wary about their ability to save the funds they believe they will need for a down payment, with house prices and rent continuing to rise each month. According to the NARS survey, 19 percent of current homeowners stated that they have received financial assistance toward a down payment from a parent or relative. Of these, most were age 34 or younger, living in the Northeast, or living in an urban area.

Still, the NARS survey found that the appetite for home ownership remains strong, with 78 percent of homeowners and 60 percent of renters saying now is a good time to buy.

Loan Officer Teresa Parker of Cunningham & Company Mortgage Bankers agrees. Parker is a preferred lender with NC Housing and has extensive experience working with the organization’s affordable housing products for her clients. “Many clients are not aware that for eligible borrowers, a down payment could be as little as 3 percent,” she said. “In addition, there are both loan and down payment assistance programs I can help my clients obtain that, combined, can provide home financing at close to 100 percent.” These down payment assistance programs are not necessarily limited to first-time home buyers. Move-up buyers may also take advantage of these programs, if eligible.

Parker also points out that eligible first-time home buyers can obtain the Mortgage Tax Credit (MCC) along with their loan closing, which enables eligible first-time buyers and military veterans to save up to $2,000 a year on their federal taxes. In addition, consumers who buy homes in certain targeted census tracts may be eligible for the MCC program, even if they are not first-time home buyers. The MCC leaves homebuyers with more money to put toward their mortgage payment. “If you qualify, you can claim a federal tax credit for 30% of the interest you pay on an existing home (50% on new construction)—up to $2,000 per year for every year you live in your home,” says Parker.

Am I Eligible To Make Less Than a 20% Home Loan Downpayment?

You may be eligible for a Mortgage Credit Certificate if:

  • You are a first-time home buyer or military veteran
  • You meet the income and sales price limits
  • You are purchasing a new or existing home in North Carolina
  • You occupy the home as your principal residence within 60 days of closing
  • You are a legal resident of the United States

What Properties are Eligible?

  • New and previously owned single-family homes
  • Townhouses
  • Condominiums
  • New or used manufactured homes

For more information about down payment options, contact Teresa Parker, Loan Officer at Cunningham & Company Mortgage BankersNMLS # 2024 at (919) 697-2598 or [email protected].

To see Real Estate Experts’ newest listings, click here, and feel free to give us a call anytime at 919-813-6449 or send us an email to  [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Costs vs. Resale Value of Home Renovations

True Costs vs. Resale Value of Home Renovations

HOME-REPAIR-200x200
And cost versus resale value also depends on where you live. You may love the idea of a fancy new bathroom–and you may not care what it costs–but how does much does a renovation like that really add to the value of your home? Turns out, it depends, and some of the most aesthetically pleasing re-dos may not be the projects that help you recoup your investment. Let’s take a look at what’s popular nationwide for home renovation projects: landscaping, a new roof or windows, a bathroom upgrade, and a kitchen remodel all top the list. But when you flip that equation—what gives homeowners the most bang for the buck nationwide—the answer is a deck addition, followed by a roof replacement and new vinyl windows What’s tops in our region, and how does that change your renovation outlook? This graphic can help you sort through the details.


Source: eReplacementParts.com

We at Real Estate Experts are always looking to provide timely and relevant information for clients here on our blog. We want to hear from you! Do you have any questions or topics you would like to see covered in our blog? Contact us today at 919-813-6449 or send us an email to  [email protected]. Visit us online at realestateexperts.net.

Durham SmART Vision Plan Underway

Durham SmART Vision Plan Underway

Arts2

Foster Street vision.

The Durham Arts Council recently received an award of $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the Phase 1 implementation of the Durham SmART Vision Plan, which will utilize public art and urban design to create an exciting and vibrant Arts and Entertainment Corridor. The SmART Vision Plan proposal, a 10-year, $10 million project, was revealed in June 2015, with the goal of pulling foot traffic from the historic Durham Athletic Park to the modern DBAP by steeping surrounding public and private spaces with appealing art and streetscaping. The Plan connects three distinct districts along Blackwell, Corcoran, and Foster Streets: American Tobacco, City Center, and Central Park, respectively.

Arts1

Corcoran Street vision.

The $100,000 grant, along with another $100,000 in local and state matching funds, will be used to solicit and design a wrap and artistic lighting for a city parking deck that sits across from the Durham Performing Arts Center, as well as a pattern on the pavement at the nearby railroad line and intersection.

“The SmART Vision Plan is a multi-year public art and urban design strategy that fully envisions a dynamic, art-infused, colorful, and connected North/South corridor that draws pedestrians into an exciting daytime and nighttime environment where they will be enticed to stay and visit multiple locations along Blackwell, Corcoran, and Foster Streets,” said Durham Arts Council Board President, State Senator Mike Woodard. “This arts-driven economic development strategy can be a key factor in downtown Durham’s future development and success.”

daytimeart

Blackwell Street vision, daytime.

An Artscape Vision Plan for the Durham SmART Initiative was completed by urban design artist Mikyoung Kim in 2015 as a framework for a re-imagined downtown Arts and Entertainment District. Kim’s design process, which was led by the Durham Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council, focused on a north-south corridor with significant historic and cultural roots. The corridor will provide improved pedestrian access and artfully-designed public spaces that will support arts-based events and greater participation for Durham residents.

nightimeart

Blackwell Street vision, nighttime.

“Durham has long understood the importance of the arts to downtown revitalization and vibrancy, which is why it was one of five cities and towns selected as a demonstration site for the NC Arts Council’s SmART Initiative,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the NC Arts Council. “The NEA’s recognition and support of Durham’s stunning vision plan for the Blackwell/Corcoran/Foster Streets corridor comes at the perfect time.”

For more information about what living in Durham has to offer, contact us today at  919-813- 6449 or [email protected]. Visit us online at realestateexperts.net.

Pet Friendly Flooring: A Primer

Pet Friendly Flooring: A Primer

Pet Friendly Flooring

What is pet friendly flooring?  As every pet owner knows, our furry friends can wreak havoc on our home’s floors, from leaving scratches and gouges on hardwood floors to potty mishaps. If you are considering buying a new home or remodeling your existing residence, there are some excellent options available for durable, attractive pet-friendly flooring. Whichever option you select, you will want to keep four qualities in mind when shopping:

  1. Resistance to damage
  2. Pet traction
  3. Resistance to scratches
  4. Pet comfort

Pet Friendly Flooring or Not?

Tile Flooring

Stone or porcelain tile is a top pick for durability. The tile’s nonporous surface won’t stain or scratch, plus it’s moisture-proof, making cleanup a breeze. As for appearance, the tile can be made to look like either stone or wood. Other ceramics also work well; just avoid porous stone tile, as it needs to be sealed periodically. The only downside to tile is that its cold and hard surface provides little to no comfort underfoot. You may consider radiant heating and area rugs to add comfort and warmth. And don’t forget the pet bed to give Fido a cozy place to relax!

Pet Friendly Flooring - Tile

Porcelain tile flooring. Image courtesy of mannington.com.

 

Concrete Flooring

Concrete floors in a home? You bet! Today’s concrete floors are stylish and can be sealed with a protective film sealer or floor finish so that pet urine can’t leak through the pores. Concrete flooring provides numerous advantages to pet owners: it is easy to clean (just swipe with a towel or mop and water), it resists pet dander and allergens, and it is scratch-resistant. Another plus is that concrete flooring is nontoxic. “Volatile organic compounds,” or VOCs, can be emitted by carpet, padding, and adhesives that are used under vinyl and linoleum. Since concrete floors are stained with nontoxic pigments, they don’t release VOCs, which can be harmful to your pets. Disadvantages: concrete provides little to no comfort underfoot, and it can be quite cold. The good news is that you can use radiant heating to keep your pets comfortable in cooler temps.

Pet Friendly Flooring - Concrete

Concrete flooring. Image courtesy of concretenetwork.com.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is another option that seems to be everyone’s favorite choice for its clean, classic look; however, it is not always the best choice for pet owners, as wood is more prone to scratches, stains, and water damage. The best wood choices are harder species such as oak, hickory, Brazilian cherry, mahogany, sycamore, walnut, and bamboo. Softer woods, such as larch, hemlock and pine, are much more prone to scratches and dents, particularly if you have a larger breed dog. The harder the wood, the more resistant it will be to your dog’s nails. If you do decide to purchase hardwood floors, you may wish to choose a factory-finished wood. Pre-finished wood floors are stained and sealed in the factory with multiple layers of tough-as-nails aluminum oxide-urethane finish. If you are refinishing your hardwood flooring, you will want to use oil-based polyurethane, which lasts much longer than water-based polyurethane. Water- based polyurethane is thinner, and you often need four to five coats to equal the durability of three coats of oil-based. In addition, oil-based polyurethane costs less than water-based, generally 10-25 percent more.

 

Hardwood Flooring is not so pet friendly

Hardwood flooring damaged by pet nails.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is an ideal flooring choice for pet owners, and there are a plethora of attractive styles from which to choose. Vinyl flooring is budget-friendly, durable, low-maintenance, and easy to clean. Other advantages: vinyl provides excellent traction for your pet, promotes low levels of allergens, and is quiet underfoot. The only disadvantage to vinyl flooring is that water spills can cause lifting or mildew growth.

Pet Friendly Flooring - Vinyl

Vinyl flooring. Image courtesy of manning.com.

Laminate Flooring

If you love the look of hardwood but not the expense, you may consider laminate flooring. Laminate looks similar to hardwood, but is more durable, provides a much easier clean-up after your pet, and is water-resistant. However, despite its hardness and durability, it can be quite slippery, particularly if you are interested in a smooth or high-gloss laminate floor. The best choice for pet owners is a laminate that has a textured finish to reduce slipping. The downside to laminate is that it is not as long-lasting and timeless as hardwood.

Pet Friendly flooring - laminate

Laminate flooring. Image courtesy of manning.com.

Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is the go-to choice for green living, and it is finding increasing popularity among those who are looking for eco-friendly flooring. Cork flooring has several advantages: it requires little maintenance, it is water-resistant, and it is a naturally antimicrobial material that will reduce the growth of mold and other allergens. It is quiet underfoot and sound-absorbing, as well as warm and pliant: sure to keep you pet’s paws comfortable. Keep in mind, however, cork can become scratched by sharp nails, and it can discolor over time from exposure to sunlight.

Cork Flooring

Cork flooring. Image courtesy of solib.org.

Bamboo Flooring

Like cork, bamboo is an excellent choice for homeowners interested in green living, because it won’t wear out and is completely renewable. Bamboo can be pet-friendly; however, its strength and durability depends upon the type of bamboo. Bamboo is technically a grass, but it’s classified as hardwood. There are two types, “regular” and “strand” bamboo. Strand bamboo is much stronger, and strand woven even stronger. Regular bamboo (unstained) is stronger than carbonized/camelized (stained) bamboo; the process of carmelizing the sugar weakens the wood during the heating process. Finally, the quality of bamboo varies greatly, since it is usually imported from China. You will want to avoid purchasing bamboo from one of the “big box” stores, where the flooring is cheaper, but typically hasn’t been treated properly. Big box store bamboo can have several flaws:

  1. The bamboo is harvested too early and hasn’t had enough time for proper growth.
  2. The products are air-dried rather than oven-dried, resulting in softer, less durable flooring.
  3. The softer part of the bamboo has been harvested.

Prepared properly, bamboo can be a great choice for pet owners, as it will resist scratches and is stain-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about accidents.

If you are interested in bamboo, it is imperative that you buy from a reputable flooring store and purchase a quality brand.

bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring. Photo courtesy of theflooringgirl.com.

 

Carpet

Although carpet provides cozy comfort for paws, it is definitely not an ideal choice for pet-owners: carpet collects hair, pet dander, stains, and unpleasant odors. If you must select carpet, look for colorfast solution-dyed fibers, as well as a moisture-proof synthetic backing and a moisture-resistant pad. Since dog nails can snag on loop styles, select a cut pile carpet. There are also new options such as STAINMASTER® PetProtect® carpet, which has built-in stain resistance that won’t wash off.  It is made from SuperiaSD® fiber, a solution dyed nylon 6,6 polymer engineered with inherent stain resistance and built-in color that resists fading.

Carpet is not pet friendly

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