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By Steve Quintana | Agent in Albuquerque, NM

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Los Ranchos, Investment Properties in Los Ranchos, Home Ownership in Los Ranchos  |  February 13, 2014 6:57 AM  |  375 views  |  No comments

    Realtors® Rate Exterior Replacement Projects among Most Valuable Home Improvements

    A home’s curb appeal is crucial because it can be the first thing buyers notice about a home. That’s why Realtors® rated exterior projects among the most valuable home improvement projects in the 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report.

    “Deciding what remodeling projects to undertake can be a difficult decision for homeowners,” said National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown.  “Realtors® know what home features are important to buyers in their area, but a home’s curb appeal is always critical since it’s the first impression for potential buyers. That’s why exterior replacement projects offer the greatest bang for the buck. Projects such as entry door, siding and window replacements can recoup homeowners more than 78 percent of costs upon resale.”

    NAR’s consumer website HouseLogic.com highlights the results of the report in its “Best Bets for Remodeling Your Home in 2014” slideshow. The site also provides information and advice on various home improvement projects, including a guide to kitchen remodeling with the best payback and dozens of exterior replacement projects.

    Realtors® judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 96.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. The steel entry door replacement is consistently the least expensive project in the annual Cost vs. Value Report, costing little more than $1,100 on average.

    Eight of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally are exterior projects. A wood deck addition came in second with an estimated 87.4 percent of costs recouped upon resale. Two different siding replacement projects also landed in the top 10, including fiber-cement siding, expected to return 87 percent of costs, and vinyl siding, expected to return 78.2 percent of costs. Out of the top 10 projects, the fiber-cement siding replacement project improved the most since last year, with costs recouped increasing by more than 15 percent. Two garage door replacements were also in the top 10; a midrange garage door replacement is expected to return 83.7 percent while an upscale garage door replacement follows closely at 82.9 percent of costs recouped. Rounding out the top exterior remodeling projects were two window replacements; a wood window replacement is estimated to recoup 79.3 percent of costs, and a vinyl window replacement is estimated to recoup 78.7 percent of costs.

    According to the report, two interior remodeling projects can recoup substantial value at resale. An attic bedroom is ranked fourth and is expected to return 84.3 percent of costs. The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the minor kitchen remodel. The project landed at number seven and is estimated to recoup 82.7 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000. The improvement project likely to return the least is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup 48.9 percent.

    The 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 100 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with NAR.

    “Every neighborhood is different, and the desirability and resale value of a particular remodeling project varies by region and metro area. Before undertaking a remodeling project, homeowners should consult a Realtor® as they are the best resource when deciding what projects will provide the most return upon resale,” said Brown. “Realtors® have a unique understanding of local markets, home features and buyer preferences and know that there are a variety of factors that affect a home’s value, such as location, condition of surrounding properties and regional economic climate.”

    To read the full project descriptions and access national and regional project data, visit www.costvsvalue.com. “Cost vs. Value” is a registered trademark of Hanley Wood, LLC.
  • Patio Spacer Replacement

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Los Ranchos, Property Q&A in Los Ranchos, Home Ownership in Los Ranchos  |  August 10, 2012 9:57 AM  |  639 views  |  No comments
    The wooden spacers separating the concrete sections of your patio need occasional replacement.  Using pressure treated wood for the replacement is one option, but is tricky because the replacment wood has to be cut just so and the space where the wood goes is rarely square. 

    An easier way to fill these gaps is to use a mixture of course sand and pea gravel.  Simply remove the old wood and loose debris from the space so you have a reasonably clean work area.  Wet and tamp the space.  Then fill it half way with a mix of 1/3 course sand and 2/3 pea gravel.  Wet and tamp to secure the material into place.  Then fill the space, wet and tamp again.  When this settles in a few days or few weeks you can refill, wet and tamp the low spots.    
  • What if the Inspection Reveals the need for Expensive Repairs?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Los Ranchos, Home Selling in Los Ranchos  |  May 31, 2012 9:12 AM  |  200 views  |  No comments
    In situations like this, repair costs are entirely negotiable. It all depends on how much the buyer will accept and how much the seller will pay. In a buyer's market, it is easier to get seller to pay for repairs. But some sellers are stubborn and would rather lose the sale than give in to repair demands. Buyers will need to decide how strongly they feel about buying the property and whether it is worth the additional cost of repairs. From that perspective, buyers can decide their negotiation strategy. 

    The seller, on the other hand, has to work it out with the buyer or continue marketing the property and disclose the need for repairs to future buyers.  This gives the seller incentive to negotiate and be done with the property and its problems. 

    Homes in Albuquerque.  Call me when you are ready to buy or sell your dream home in Albuquerque. 


    Posted Under: Home Selling in Los Ranchos  |  May 23, 2012 8:49 AM  |  202 views  |  No comments
    Are there any negative effects from changing the listing price of a property?  This question haunts Brokers/Agents as well as sellers of property every day.  At present, there does not seem to be a consensus answer to this question within the professional real estate community.  Fortunately, this question was scientifically investigated by John R. Knight. Unfortunately, few know the results of Professor Knight’s research.

    In Knight, the impact of changing a property’s listing price is investigated.  Additionally, the types of property that are most likely to experience a price change are also estimated.  The findings from this research indicate that, on average, properties which experience a listing price change take longer to sell and suffer a price discount greater than similar properties.  Furthermore, bigger price changes are found to experience even longer marketing times and greater price discounts.  Finally, as for which properties are most likely to experience a price change, Knight finds that the greater the initial markup; the higher the likelihood that any given property will experience a listing price change. 

    Implications for Practice

    Sellers as well as Brokers/Agents should therefore be aware of the critical necessity of getting the price correct from the start.  Sellers wanting to over list will ultimately take longer to sell and will sell their property for less, on average, according to Knight.  Brokers/Agents’ desire to take a listing and get the price right later will ultimately lead to their working harder according to Knight, and they are not doing their sellers any favors.  Thus, an initial and detailed analysis of the proper price is much more critical than many originally thought.  Therefore, get the price right from the beginning.  It is best for all.


    [1] Knight, John, R.  (2002).  Listing Price, Time on Market, and Ultimate Selling Price: Causes and Effects of Listing Price Changes.  Real Estate Economics.  30:2, 213-237.

  • Neighborhood social networking site taking off

    Posted Under: In My Neighborhood in Los Ranchos  |  May 22, 2012 2:46 PM  |  354 views  |  2 comments
    Launched in October, Nextdoor is up and running in more than 2,000 communities

    David Milliron lives in Avondale Estates, a small, historic city about seven miles east of downtown Atlanta.

    Never heard of it? Well, you should have, because Avondale Estates is home to the very first Waffle House, a restaurant chain very important to early morning Southern society, where folks meet up for hot waffles, coffee and who knows what else all the while exchanging gossip and important local news.

    Milliron, who had been an Avondale Estates council commissioner, was looking for a more modern and efficient way for citizens of his community to exchange information and came upon Nextdoor.com, a free platform that enables neighbors to create private social networks for their neighborhoods.

    "Nextdoor has worked out beautifully," Milliron said. "We have over one-third of our city already participating. Although I was involved early on, it has taken roots and no longer do I have to be the one. Organizations are posting; real estate agents are posting; people are making reservations and buying and selling things."

    He added, "It has been an invaluable tool to bring our community closer together."

    Nextdoor is slowly snaking its way across America.

    The small technology company was founded in 2010 by a group of Silicon Valley veterans who had experience creating online communities going back to the 1990s.

    "They recognized there was a lack of community in the world, and what is a better way to bring people back together than through social networking?" said Dabney Lawless, vice president of communications for Nextdoor.

    More importantly, the concept proved so intriguing that it was funded by a couple of major equity investors, Benchmark Capital and Shasta Ventures, both of Menlo Park, Calif. One of the outside board members is Rich Barton, chairman and co-founder of Zillow.

    After about a year testing its program in 176 neighborhoods across America, the company was officially launched in October 2011. Nextdoor claims more than 2,000 communities are now on board.

    Growth has been all word of mouth, Lawless said.

    "Nextdoor was created based on the idea that the neighborhood is one of the most important and useful communities in a person's life," according to Nextdoor.com. "Our mission is to bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood."

    OK, all sounds good. Even warm and fuzzy, but how does it work?

    Basically, each neighborhood creates a private Nextdoor website that is -- and this is important -- accessible only to the residents of that neighborhood. The information on the website is not sold to others nor is it indexed by Google or Yahoo. The only people who can see what's going on in your neighborhood vis-à-vis Nextdoor are the people who live in that neighborhood.

    It's even difficult to fake belonging to a Nextdoor neighborhood because addresses need to be verified.

    "These are privately closed networks specifically created for neighborhoods," Lawless said. "You decide how you want to set up Nextdoor in your neighborhood. You create the boundaries. Whatever makes logical sense. We have some neighborhoods that are almost a whole town, and we have neighborhoods that are just two or three streets."

    Inviting neighbors to join the network is easy. Simply click the "invite neighbors" link on the website. Or, one just as easily can do emails, print fliers or send postcards. If postcards are sent, Nextdoor will pay for the postage and mail on your behalf.

    Another cool feature of Nextdoor is that it includes a neighborhood map and directory of residents, so it becomes a little easier to understand with whom you might be exchanging messages.

    These messages might include: the city is doing roadwork in the neighborhood; finding a babysitter; old furniture for sale; organizing a barbecue; recommending a local restaurant; or creating alerts if there have been, for example, burglaries in the neighborhood.

    The success of Nextdoor in the Marin County, Calif., community of Laurel Grove had a lot to do with perceived threat to property.

    "Back in December, I had just read about Nextdoor in my local newspaper and I thought it looked promising for organizing a playgroup," said Heather McPhail Sridharan. "I thought it would be fun to try this out online, a lot easier than getting all the emails and coordinating times."

    To Sridharan's surprise, Nextdoor just took off. "It was viral. Now, we have almost 300 members."

    What really spurred Nextdoor participation was a crime wave in the neighborhood, a series of break-ins stretching over a couple of weeks.

    "A group of us decided to put some fliers into everyone's mailbox saying this site exists and it could keep us connected," Sridharan said.

    "If we heard about someone soliciting door to door, it would be posted on the Nextdoor site," Sridharan said. "People wanted to be in the know about what was going on relating to the break-ins. If solicitors came in the neighborhood, the police were called."

    Not surprising, the crime wave dissipated entirely.

    "Our neighborhood is a mixed bag of younger families and older residents," Sridharan said. "The ones that are really posting a lot and being active are the older generation. I don't know if they are not on Facebook or they remember a time when neighborhoods used to be connected, but we had a couple of neighborhood meetings and overwhelmingly the people who attended were the older generation of folks."

    If you're wondering how much Nextdoor costs to use, the answer is zero. The company is in a startup phase, focusing on building out the network in the best possible manner. It can do that because of the venture capital funding.

    However, the model is designed to make money. The vision is to partner with local businesses in a Groupon kind of model.

    "We've got several years before we have to think about monetization," Lawless said. "Right now the main focus of the company is perfecting the user experience."

    By Steve Bergsman
    Inman News®

  • Deck footings: How low should you go?

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Los Ranchos, How To... in Los Ranchos  |  May 22, 2012 2:34 PM  |  436 views  |  1 comment
    Frost depth a key factor in structural design

    Q: How do you determine the depth of the deck footings to assure you have gone below the frost line?  I've seen conflicting information. Do you have a reliable resource? --Frank G.

    A: As you can imagine, frost lines vary widely by region. Also, most codes require that your footings be an additional 12 inches below the frost-line depth, as an added precaution against rare deep-freezing conditions. So, your best bet is to simply call your local building department and ask.

    However, if you would like to try to figure it out yourself, there is a good booklet available for free from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Go to www.huduser.org. In the search box, enter "Structural Design Loads for One- and Two-Family Dwellings," which will take you to the booklet. It's about 50 pages, in PDF format, so you can read it online or print it out. You can also order a copy from them if you'd prefer.

  • Grab Bars: Proper Installation

    Posted Under: How To... in Los Ranchos, Property Q&A in Los Ranchos  |  May 18, 2012 9:03 AM  |  445 views  |  No comments

    Q: As my parents have gotten older, they have using the  towel bar in their bathroom as a grab bar. Last week someone used the towel bar as a handle and left behind a dangling towel bar and a nice quarter-size hole where the screw used to be.

    Two questions: How do I fix the hole in the drywall, and what's the best way to install a grab bar to make sure it stays put?

    A: Grab bars can do double duty as towel bars, but it doesn't work the other way around. Even the best towel bars just aren't beefy enough. Also, they generally aren't fastened to a stud -- wall anchors are usually the preferred hardware.

    Drywall Repair:

    1. Use a utility knife to cut a 6-inch-square piece of drywall from the damaged part of the wall. Make sure the failed screw holes are in the center of this piece. Try to make a clean cut because you will save this piece and replace it once the wood backing is installed. Don't worry if the piece you remove is too badly damaged. Worst case, you'll have to head down to the big-box store to buy a half sheet or beg a small piece from some damaged goods.

    2. Once you have a hole in the wall, cut a piece of scrap wood a little wider than but not as long, as the 6-inch-square opening. An 8-inch-by-5-inch piece of 1/2-inch plywood will do.

    3. Drill a small hole in the center of the wood and thread a string through it. Knot the string or tie a nail or metal washer to it so that the string can't be pulled out.

    4. Once this backing is prepared, apply construction adhesive around the edges of the plywood and, using the string, pull it securely against the back of the wall.

    5. While holding the backing in place, drill a couple of pilot holes through the wallboard and into the plywood. Then secure with 1-inch drywall screws, making sure they are countersunk. While it's possible to do this by yourself, a helper will make things go more smoothly.

    6. After the construction adhesive dries -- 24 hours to be safe -- glue the piece of drywall you saved to the plywood backing.

    7. Tape the joints with drywall tape and finish the patch with joint compound. It will take at least three coats of joint compound to properly finish the job.

    8. Sand, texture to match and paint.

    We realize that this seems like a lot of steps and a lot of time waiting for glue, joint compound and paint to dry, but if you fix it this way, no one will ever have to fix it again -- providing it's not used as a grab bar.


    When installing grab bars we have three words for you: Find a stud. Grab bars, whether attached to drywall or a tiled tub and shower, need to be rock solid. We've seen them installed with metal toggle bolts, and although they seem sturdy enough, we just don't trust them.

    Bill has just finished a total bathroom remodel, and since he's not getting any younger, grab bars are part of the design. Because all his walls will be open, the job will be easy. His plan calls for 2-by-8-inch blocking between the studs around the entire room, beginning at 30 inches from the floor. That way, when the drywall is up and the tile is in and grouted, he can place the grab bars just about any place he wants and be sure of hitting solid backing.

    If we were in your shoes, we wouldn't want to open up the walls. If the grab bar doesn't hit studs on both ends, we suggest that you angle it upward so that the fastening points are 16, 32 or 48 inches apart. (Remember, in standard construction, studs are 16 inches from center to center.) Plumb and level isn't important. It's all about safety.

    Designer grab bars are now available.  Check these ones: Gatco 851 Latitude II 12-inch grab bars.

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