The belief that people want to Love Where They Live is the central theme for why our firm exists. When I hear that phrase it's like hearing a musician play the most perfect cord on his guitar. When I just reread it I heard a harp this time. It's just right on - you and I want to love where we live - and it may mean something entirely different for you and for me, but it's the same dream.
The good news is people are starting to take hold of that dream again. A few weeks ago we shared a story from the GR Press that housing starts were up 159 percent over last year at this time. A really cool note about that is so many of those new homes were for 1st time home buyers. It's very exciting to think back to the joy of walking into your first home for the first time. This Spring existing home sales were up almost 30 percent in response to tax credit incentives. Our phone has been ringing steadily for new projects too!
"According to a survey from American Express, 49 percent of homeowners are making improvements to their house. Nineteen percent are making repairs that can't be put off, while 11 percent want to increase home value, and 5 percent are fixing up to sell."
The new activity is different though. Projects have been focused on making practical changes to beautiful custom homes versus making homes glitzy. Project design has also become very personal for our clients who want to fix up versus trade up. The clients who feel "trapped" by the recent housing market are using our expertise to wait out the market and we're advising them in these ways.
What NOT To Do:
1) Don't over improve for the neighborhood. This is one of those universal real estate laws like, "Location, Location, Location!"
2) Please do not try to remodel to make up lost equity.
Very few types of projects give an immediate dollar for dollar return on investment and at the moment market pressures are holding that return down.
What To DO:
1) Remodel to help your home better fit your lifestyle.
2) Make sure your home is clean & well-maintained & well-landscaped. These efforts give you the best return on your investment. It also makes your home much more appealing to potential buyers whenever that time may be. This is the elbow grease of remodeling. Easy to do, easy to hire it done. We can help you with a checklist of items to have done. Also, many of our clients choose to experience our Maintenance-Free Home program.
3) Curb appeal - building on the previous point - is your house attractive from the curb?
4) Is your home missing amenities for your neighborhood? Does everyone have a deck but you? Does your home only have 1 full-bathroom? Well, if your family would benefit from another bathroom today then adding a bathroom may make a lot of sense. Do you have a mudroom?
5) His, Her & Kids Spaces - if your kids are already in high school then maybe it's worth it to consider finishing the basement to keep those young adults as close as possible for these next few years before they're off to college. Also, most people have enough square footage in their homes, it just feels like they're cramped because of poorly utilized space. Repurposing existing space is the most high value design help we give our clients. If everyone in a household has a space that reflects their unique needs, everyone's happiness goes up. That may mean a truly functional mudroom, home office, kitchen, master suite, or closet. It's sometimes just one pinched area of a house that can be addressed to make everyone's enjoyment so much greater.
There you go, five considerations for a time like this. Happy home improving!
Acknowledgments: I'd like to cite Brian J O'Connor / Detroit News Finance Editor whose story, "Home Fix-ups on the rise, but experts urge caution" was the take off point for this blog post and radio interview on West Michigan Morning News with Gary Allen & Steve Kelly on WOOD 1300.