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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

5 Smart Upgrades for Underwater Homes

In Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want, architect Duo Dickinson gives new meaning to the term ‘housebound.’ He uses the term to refer to homeowners who have decided to stay put instead of moving up to a larger home, including those who made that decision because they are upside down on their mortgages: they owe more than the place is worth. The premise of Dickinson’s book is something I’ve long believed myself: that staying in even an underwater home can be a smart move - and it doesn’t have to involve making do with a home that no longer works for your needs. Blinging out an upside down home with every gadget and doodad known to man can constitute throwing good money after bad, but there are a handful of upgrades that might make sense for homeowners facing negative equity. For the most part, sensible upgrades to upside-down homes can all be described as things that either:
  • make life in the place much more comfortable for the long term - alleviating the want or need to move
  • boost the home’s sagging value or saleability for a relatively small investment, and/or 
  • begin saving the homeowners money - or even earn tax credits - immediately.
Here are five upgrades that might have upside for your lifestyle or bottom line, if you own an underwater home: 1. Cosmetics that boost curb appeal. When your home is mired in negative equity, chances are good that you might have been investing your dollars and cents into keeping your head above water and the property in sound functioning condition - not necessarily keeping the exterior at its most pristine. But if you are looking to boost your home’s value to hit an appraisal mark for refinancing, or even just trying to lure in a buyer to purchase the place as a short sale, primping your home’s exterior cosmetics can be a smart investment. Keep costs down by doing it yourself, or even hiring a reputable handyman to tackle small, but impactful tasks like:
  • painting the shutters, eaves, doors and other trims - if you can paint the whole house, great - but if you can’t afford all that, painting the trims and accents can make a massive visual difference in the look and feel of your home, very inexpensively;
  • adding fresh, new hardware like a mailbox, house numbers, and a front door or door knockers and kick plates; and
  • landscaping - planting lush or fragrant flowers or trees, trimming up overgrown shrubs and even installing low maintenance ground cover can also transform the entire look of your home from the curb.
And while curb appeal is priority number one if you are trying to get your home sold, interior design projects of a similarly small scale can also create massive benefits for your emotions and comfort level for the buck if you’re planning to stay put for the long haul. It’s amazing what a basic paint job in your bedroom, opening (or ditching) your window coverings or installing lighting or shelves can do to make your family happier at home!
2. Economical expansion. If you crave more space and your home can be expanded within its existing footprint, consider an economical expansion - having a professional convert your garage or basement into a rental or mother-in-law type unit can be an especially good investment if you can house more family members or bring in some income within the new living space. In a similar vein, consider adding a prefab unit in your large backyard or even building on additional square footage, if you can afford it and truly need the space. Before you do, though, make sure you get permits and check in with your local real estate pro to be sure that you’re not just overimproving the place vis-a-vis the neighborhood, digging your negative equity hole beyond your financial or emotional tolerance level or even an extended timeline you might have in mind for selling the place. 3. Greening it up. Upgrades that improve your home’s energy efficiency have inherent value in terms of scoring you points as a good citizen of the planet. But they can also improve your day-to-day living comfort - and decrease your utility bills. Buying solar panels can eliminate your electric bill entirely with an upfront investment; leasing the panels can cost you nothing upfront and keep your energy bills fixed for as long as 20 years! And on my own personal home improvement wish list is a tankless water heater - they eliminate the need to pay to keep that big old tank of water hot, and they produce endless hot water - no matter how many showers you take. Endless hot water! (As a side benefit, if you happen to live in earthquake country like I do, you don’t have to worry about strapping the tank or checking to make sure it’s still secure after every tremor or aftershock.)
In many states, green home improvements like these and dual-paned windows, adding insulation or installing efficient heating and cooling appliances might qualify you for tax credits; check with a local tax pro to see what tax advantages you might earn by going green at home.
4. Combining quarters. A home improvement show would be nothing without someone pointing out how gloriously spacious the kitchen/dining room, master bedroom or even two smallest bedrooms could be if they could just (say it with me, folks): “knock out this wall.” If you’ve uttered those very words about your own home, consult with a contractor - many interior walls are relatively easy and inexpensive to remove, even if you might need to leave in and finish off a support beam if the wall does turn out to be load bearing. I know it’s anathema to some agents to even think about combining two bedrooms into one; for resale purposes the rule of thumb is the more bedrooms, the better. But, here’s the deal: (a) two teeny-tiny, unusable bedrooms are not better than one, in the eyes of most homebuyers, and (b) most walls that are easily taken down can be equally easily put back up when it’s time to sell. If you’ve decided to stay put in your underwater home for the next 10, 20 or even 30 years, there’s no reason resale considerations should stop you from taking down a wall that is preventing you from fully enjoying your home. 5. Built-ins that make things work. Built-in work and storage spaces in your office, garage, craft rooms, kitchen and even otherwise unusable nooks and crannies are uber-useful and can give you the feel of a highly customized luxury home without moving - and without spending much cash. (And window seats? Don't get me started - who doesn’t love a window seat?!) Similarly, functional furniture like loft beds, Murphy beds, pot racks, pantries and armoires can create a highly customized feel and convenient lifestyle, but you can move them around the house - or even take them with you whenever you do decide to move! Investing to improve a home that is upside down should be done very carefully, and only once you have your personal endgame firmly in mind. The budget you set to spruce up a home you need to divest of via a short sell might be vastly different from the investment you’re willing to make to enlarge a home you plan to house your family in for the next 20 years. So be intentional: get clear on your finances and your future plans for your family and career before you start spending on home improvements in this market climate. Then, you’ll be in a position to create a regret-free home improvement plan. Homeowners and agents: What home improvements do you think make the most dollars or lifestyle sense for those who have decided to stay put in their upside down homes?

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Comments

By Lang Premier Properties,  Wed Feb 22 2012, 09:31
Another great post with excellent tips Tara! Definitely useful information for many people right now!
By Erika Wong,  Wed Feb 22 2012, 09:34
Kudos to Tara!

Source1homes.com
By Jennifer Ratcliff,  Wed Feb 22 2012, 16:55
Great article!!!!! #1 is so true.
By Pat and Steve Pribisko,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 06:44
In Northeast OH, many buyers are looking for homes with finished basements.
By Kajmama,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 09:42
Thanks for great advice
By Jennifer Hoey,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 09:44
Classy!
By Jana,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 09:48
How interesting...and I have done some already! Great tips Tara! I wish you'd write more often...!
By Helen Oliveri,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 09:49
Great Home improvement tips.
By Krys Fox,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 09:49
The most important thing that any homeowner can do to try and sell their property is to thoroughly scrub down and clean everything! Walls, woodwork, doors carpeting, floors, mats etc. -EVERYTHING. Washing woodwork and walls is cheap, only your labor, and can make a world of difference. Suddenly everything will be brighter and smell better. Clean or wash all curtains, drapes and bedding. Its a lot of work, but its well worth it to the seller to use some elbow grease. Sounds like a no brainer, but as a long time real estate professional I can tell you that its not the first thing people think of.
By Cynthia Maloney,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 09:51
I agree, Tara. Anything that makes you feel better about your house is helpful in these trying, but improving times...put it out there that you love your home and it will show in the marketplace.
By Dana Hollish Hill,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 09:53
Tara - I think there are many homeowners with little or no equity and #4 is a a great idea if it makes your home more functional to the owner now. Many homeowners are afraid to make decisions that may limit appeal to potential buyers, but if they make the decisions that work for them in the long run, they can always decide to change things when they sell.
By Carlos Silva,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 10:05
If you're under water, you should short sale your home before Debt forgiveness Act expires on Dec 31, 2012. Do not put more money into a home that you'll probably never have equity in again. Get out while you can.
By Susan Carlin,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 10:14
This is just what my business partner and I have been relaying to our sellers. Love the truth in cleaning the ENTIRE house. It smells great, looks great, shows great. Buyers are more likely to place an offer on a clean home than a soiled one.
By Kathy Ridick,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 10:21
These are good ideas for all homeowners, not just the ones under water. In this ecomonic times making the best of your investment is a smart thing.
By Stephen B Holben,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 10:41
Another great tip is to get a professional appraisal done using only arms length market transactions. Doing this made a $65,000 difference between what brokers were telling me a property was worth and what the appraisetr came up with. Find out who is determining your house is "undwerwater" Between the vast cornucopia of "housing data" sites who opine on houses they've never laid eyes on, much less the neighborhood or city and brokers wnating to use their next deal as the next lowest common denominator, I think sellers are being shortchanged on what their homes are really worth. I've seen this happen a whole bunch.
By Barbara Melone,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 10:48
A decorating update can be inexpense if you are a do-it-yourselfer. I think stripping off old wallpaper and putting on a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color can update a house instantly with a little effort and not too much money. Sometimes older wooden kitchen cabinets painted white or a light color will brighten up a drab kitchen. Doing one room at a time is doable for most people. The fresh, clean look is good for the sellers and the potential buyers.
By Melinda Shoote,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 10:58
Edging the lawn, and adding fresh bark is inexpensive and adds a fresh touch to old landscaping.
By Keith Jurow,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 11:24
I write Minyanville.com's Housing Market Report and Tara is encouraging underwater owners to stay in their homes rather than putting it on the market and taking their losses. I've been absolutely right for 20 months in saying unequivocally that there is no housing bottom in sight. Major metros are now showing signs of beginning to unravel. My latest article on BUSINESS INSIDER shows never-seen-before stats from the NYS Dept of Banking that there are at least 165,000 seriously delinquent mortgages in the five boroughs of NYC that have not yet been foreclosed and another 150,000 on Long Island. Do the math. When the banks finally begin to foreclose, prices there will collapse. My advice to underwater homeowners is to get it on the market now. If you take Tara's advice, you'll regret it for a long time. You can check out my articles and reports at Minyanville.com.
By Jeremy Garcia,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 11:27
if you have rusted metal landscaping board, use rustoleum green spray paint and a piece of card board to bloack off from painting the ground, it will really freshen up the look. door nobs, hardware, plumbing fixtures can all be easy changes as well that can make a difference too and not too expensive to do if you can get a packaged deal.
By Househunter123,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 11:43
To Carlos Silva and others who want to jump on the band wagon of tax incentives - you might read another article posted by Tara earlier this year. http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/taranichollenelsoninmancom/6-ways-save-your-underwater-home It looks like you either missed this article or failed to remember what Tara pointed out in that article.

There are many things to consider in doing a short sell. I trust that as a realtor "before" you offer advice like this to a client, you are working in concert with other professionals (lawyer and CPA). A realtor is simply not qualified to give legal and financial advice to a client. You may in fact be doing more harm than good by looking for a quick or seemingly simple solution to a bigger problem. What are the other factors involved in their financial picture besides the home? There are many issues to consider "before" giving individual counsel to a client. This is not one size fits all and falls under the category just because you can, doesn't mean that you should!
By Anne Meczywor,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 11:45
I absolutely agree with the thorough cleaning comment above, but it is also imperative that the homeowner declutter and organize. Not only will it make their space more livable now, and increase appeal to potential buyers, it could be "found" money in the form of a garage sale, or in items that would have gone unused because they were lost or forgotten. I question adding on square footage, since that isn't always a positive thing, especially if it infringes on great outdoor space or a desirable garage. BTW, Keith, I couldn't disagree more. While every market is local, nationally real estate is showing every indication that recovery is under way. Inventory is at lows not seen in many years, and there is pent up demand from a prolonged period of delays in new household formation. Lawrence Yun has prepared detailed information on this, available to Realtors on Realtor.org.
By Cliff Kavanaugh,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 11:47
I thought this article was going to help distressed homeowners who had to sell. Don't give up! Take action and move on if it is the best option for you and your family.
By Carol Smith,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 11:59
Strip off old wallpaper and paint instead. Most potential buyers look at wallpaper with the idea "I've got to strip all that and paint" which is work. Wallpaper also makes rooms look smaller but a good neutral, paint scheme can visually add square footage!
By Jchaump,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:00
Being underwater means that If you sold your home today, the proceeds would be less than the amount owed to the lender. Why would anyone sell for less than they owe if they didn't not absolutely have to? If you can afford your mortgage, taxes and insurance, absolutely maintain and even upgrade your house to fit your needs. Underwater only becomes a financial loss if you sell the house.
By Raytodd8155,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:02
I was ecstatic from the results of replacing my home's aluminum framed windows with double pane Lo-E energy efficient windows. I had expected an energy savings but I was really surprised by the reduction of outside noise. I also added enough insulation (attic & crawlspace) where it had exceeded the recommended levels.
It was my experience however, that potential home buyers here showed little interest in energy savings. They not only want rock bottom prices, but they want them with the amenities of a higher priced home........really rather frustrating.
By Bonnie Kelly,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:05
Thank you once again for the useful information that I will pass along to my sellers, whether they are underwater or not.
By Voices Member,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:14
Let us all as Realtors remember that an "underwater" home and a "distressed" home are two different things. Just because the home is worth less than market value currently, if the homeowner can afford their payments and enjoy the home there is no need for a short sale. Especially if a homeowner is planning to stay for many years! Sometimes affording to move now is not possible, however if payments can be made and the home upgraded so that you enjoy it more longer then staying is a good option. If you can't make your payments, then definitely find talk to a qualified short sale agent, your attorney and accountant and make the best choice for you to begin to get back on your financial feet.
By Derrick Hampton,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:18
Good stuff Tara.
By K Jones,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:44
This is insane. Take down walls and build additions?! Any idea how much these cost? Even IF the market improves, the money spent will never be recovered in at least next decade.
By Debbie Gardner,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:47
Great advice. Will definitely pass along this information to our sellers as a refresher!
By Becca,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:55
All you realtors live in a fairy tail world. Selfish pandering for yourselves. Every dollar you put into an underwater house now will return 15 cents to the owner, at best! And it will take a decade or two to get your dollar back. This inane "advice" makes a 0.1% savings account look like a gold mine by comparison. Way to look out for yourselves, myopic and self-serving realtors! And you wonder why people see you as money hungry, uneducated morons?!?
By John Crowe,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 13:13
Most important reminder - plan to stay if you take on the project. The numbers (expense vs. return) don't add up in the short-term, so making changes should be for your comfort.
By K Jones,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 13:24
Becca, you're so right - this board is by realtors FOR realtors. I'm unsubscribing and let them have all the fun!
By CAROL ONDER,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 13:32
Good advice Tara. If the homeowner is in underwater situation, cleaning and making some minor changes will help your property be the one to receive a contract. As for the market, it will constantly change - lets remember our homes give us shelter, a small tax break and a special place to build some of the best memories with our love ones.
By Side Kick Property Finders, LLC.,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 13:34
@ Krys Fox I totally agree 100% and I wish more people would realize this...It always amazes me how cleaning makes it to the 'bottom' of So many ppl's list, then again, SOME ppl's idea of cleaning is just not up to par. I always say that potential buyers (and renters) always remember the Cleanest & the Dirtiest homes they see!
By Kim Curry,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 13:47
...very much agree with you, Tara! This is very helpful information - and if you can't afford all of it, even if you just start with the low cost items like cleaning and painting as well as lightening things up, uncluttering...it'll make a big difference.
By Dan,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 13:53
You think you are underwater now?

Just wait till unemployment doubles and interest rates go up.

That will teach yas!

America is a has been nation state and now is a third world police state.
By John Lansdell,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 14:46
I am moving to Florida in November and first house improvement on my list is to install solar panels. I am amazed at how few there are and everybody griping about the cost of their utility bills! A lot of the green issues that are being addressed in England where I live are readily incorporated into the family home.
By Melissa,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 14:53
Just did the trim last weekend and did the window treatment upgrade in two bedroom! Thanks for the justify! I'm considering the knock out the wall or the window seats next!
By Sailor 1648,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 14:55
Thanks - Tara/ Already done Improve Refinancing- By using My VA Loan Certification, making REsale easier, by selling to another Vet.- an assumable Locked Loan in the Future of 3.85%! Hows that for SMARTS?
By Brandon Harper,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 15:51
Beth: You are clearly ignorant in your comment. As a realtor I work to get every dollar for my client. I am also a contractor and offer assistance to them at over 70% off average pricing just so they can get out. Staying is best but if you must short sale you likely weren't well prepared financially in the first place and as the author mentioned have probably neglected routine upkeep on your home. To get the most for it you will need to be competitive. We don't control our market but you can control your product. If you want a short sale on the market for 3 times average sale time and to live with the stress then don't clean, paint, touchup or organize. My clients who take my advice and spend very little (usually a $1k or less) get excellent market postitioning and move in a normal or above average amount of time. Short sales are taking your same pennies on a dollar, why not try to up those with smaller short term investments. A bank won't just take anything for the home, it still needs to sell. The cleaning comment is number one..its free, it should have already been done, and will help tremedously. Most other short sale listings I see are a war zone of uncaring chaotic mess.
By patric.chambers,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 16:00
If you're underwater in your house, but can still afford to live there, would this be a good time to add a large deck, gazebo, and waterfall feature in your back yard? Not planning to leave for at least the next 10 years.
By Reo Specialist,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 16:08
If you can't hope to get any money from the sale of your home, then you need to negotiate with your mortgage company, for a loan modification, deed in lieu of, or even a short sale, and remember only the homeowner can really get a loan mod.
By Mistydrucker,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 16:44
Great article. We are not underwater but have been debating whether to add on or move to something else.
By RDMBound,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 17:13
Getting the carpeting professionally cleaned before putting our house on the market was a waste of money. One buyer came in and tracked lots of mud on it.
By Norvie Ramos,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 17:17
Tara, your points are great. They take value, quality of life and smart financial planning into consideration. To answer your question. I believe general upkeep makes great sense for homeowners' dollars. Inexpensive upgrades and "updates" to fixtures, interior/exterior paint, trim, moldings and doors make a big difference. Built-in cabinetry and space saving storage to reduce clutter and give the perception of a larger space is helpful. Lighting can be make a big difference as well. Overall, staying on top of general maintenance to preserve the quality of a home makes a great difference when attempting to retain a home for years to come or put it on the market for the next homeowner. Old can be "new" again and perhaps better..
By Bob Stoeckle,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 17:37
Your high ... chasing good money after bad
By David Barr,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 17:50
Who in their right mind would spend more money on a major asset worth less than what you paid for it?
By Janet M Lange,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 18:04
David, Tara said, " For the most part, sensible upgrades to upside-down homes can all be described as things that either:
•make life in the place much more comfortable for the long term - alleviating the want or need to move
•boost the home’s sagging value or saleability for a relatively small investment, and/or
•begin saving the homeowners money - or even earn tax credits - immediately. "

And I think this answers your question!

In addittion, she added, "if you are looking to boost your home’s value to hit an appraisal mark for refinancing, or even just trying to lure in a buyer to purchase the place as a short sale, primping your home’s exterior cosmetics can be a smart investment. Keep costs down by doing it yourself, or even hiring a reputable handyman to tackle small, but impactful tasks..."
By Raytodd8155,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 18:12
What ever happened to the days when those that disagreed with an opinion, did so with common decency? It's now all about sarcasm and name calling.
By Jim Cramer,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 18:38
Great Tips as usual! Thanks Tara
By Mrsluke,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 18:55
My house on the river has all upgraded wood paneling on the inside. I try to decorate rustic or country look but what if I go to sell this house---would it be better to change all this paneling. It is a large house so it would be a big job and it is very nice wood paneling.
By Gisela Donahue,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 19:17
Thanks Tara! Whether you're planing to sell your home or have decided to stay put & "love the one your with", how we feel when we approach & enter our living spaces should be our gauge to what we do to improve. Search for ways to generate positive feelings for yourself or prospective buyers. Think... welcoming, well maintained, clean, fresh, healthy, bright, open, new, comfortable, safe. Isn't this what we all want? If you've decided not sell now & this is not how you feel about your home then do whatever your budget & creativity allow to make it so! Good Luck!
By Erica Doran,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 20:51
Great Tips. I will share.
By Stuart B. Scholer,  Fri Feb 24 2012, 08:24
Keeping your house clean and in good condition are not upgrades. It is just common sense. If anyone is truly thinking about an upgrade or major maintenance to their house that is underwater, they need to stop! Even if underwater homeowners ARE NOT thinking about upgrades the first thing that those homeowners need to do is get out their calculators and calendars and make sure that they are going to be in this potentially wealth killing trap for a MINIMUM of 5 to 10 years more. Because in most cases that is what it is going to take just to break even! Underwater homeowners need to look at these circumstances in a very realistic way or they may end up throwing away more good money after bad. In many cases....financially speaking, it is better to walk away from or short sell these bad busness deals. It might be an excellent idea to bring in a CPA to join the conversation and make a timeline and a plan on how to execute whether you will stay, short sell or walk-away. Then you can start thinking.....or forgetting about updates.
By Margaret Ferrell,  Fri Feb 24 2012, 20:33
The phrase "underwater" denotes either a home that has lost market value, or a homeowner that cannot continue to make house payments. In the first instance it would be a good idea for a homeowner to contact a real estate professional and get some good information on their local market, and some ideas on cost-free ideas to "reshen up" their home. In the second case, a homeowner who cannot make house payments has no money for even paint--but a good cleaning and decluttering costs nothing and may help with a sale, and at leas mayt help them feel better about their surroundings while they are there.
By Rachel Cheeney,  Sat Feb 25 2012, 05:40
"When life hands you lemons..."
Re-purposing or purposing for 'economical expansion' as Tara suggests can be a savvy and practical alternative to jumping ship. Generate revenue with a home office carved into a spare niche in exchange for a commercial lease?
By Jody Hope,  Tue Feb 28 2012, 14:04
Here’s some things you will really need to consider before doing anything. As the title of this article says, 5 smart upgrades for underwater homes. Remember, your underwater meaning that you owe more on your house than it is currently worth. Before doing anything you need to decide how long you plan on staying. Will you be moving in the next 3, 5, or even 10 years? If so, than you may want to consider avoiding improvement numbers 2, 3, and 4. You also need to know just how far underwater you actually are. If homes actually start appreciating once again (as they are indicating) then at a rate of 2-3% each year, how long will it take your home to be valued for what you actually owe? That is a very important number and one that every homeowner should know. However, you will need to spend some money to get your home appraised and a professional market analysis performed. If your considering spending thousands of dollars on upgrades, you really should spend $300-$500 on an appraisal.

Number 2: You need to be very careful that you don’t out price yourself. Yes, you could bring the value of our home back into check on paper but no lender will ever lend anyone the amount of money it would take to actually purchase the home (the sum of your total investment). Lending and appraisals are based not only on square footage, condition, and age, but also local comps (known as comparable homes of similar size and value as yours). I’ve seen many homeowners add square footage to their homes spending 10’s of thousands of dollars to only to get minimal return because the appraiser cannot find any other house nearby of similar size and value. Having the biggest/nicest house in the neighborhood can actually have disadvantages believe it or not, especially when it comes time to sell or refinance. Before considering adding square footage, please make sure you research your local comps.

Number 3 is a good idea. However, remember most paybacks on energy efficient appliances and window can be 5-10 years. It’s hard to determine an exact payoff because everyone is different. It really depends on the quality and age of your appliances/ windows, the region you live in, the temperature you keep your home/refrigerators/freezers at, and the age of your home/windows/appliances. The same goes for leasing or purchasing solar panels. In fact, because panels are so expensive, your payback would be much longer. Remember, at the end of a lease, you will most likely have a “buyout/payoff” payment if you’re actually looking to take ownership of the product. You can either pay upfront or at the end but make no mistake about it, you’re paying for it!

Number 4 is a really bad idea. Unless you’re a licensed contractor, most do-it-yourselfers should not consider tearing down interior walls. Though this sounds very appealing to many, you must keep in mind that unless you have the original architecture plans, you won’t know which interior walls are loadbearing. If you tear down a loadbearing wall by mistake, you will affect the structural integrity of the home causing it undue stress, damage, and potentially causing the roof to fail. Insurance companies love this one!

I do love number 1 and 5 and highly recommend these. Also, don’t ever underestimate the power of good old fashion spring cleaning.

I hope this helps.

Good luck to all!
By Chris 832-607-8073,  Sat Mar 3 2012, 23:25
Thanks Tara! Great information.
By DeeDee Riley,  Tue Apr 10 2012, 12:59
Tara,
Great tips. I would however caution homeowners on the economical expansion idea. I believe garages are more important to buyers than we might often think and no offense but a prefab unit in some locations would do more harm than good. Love #1 though as keeping neighborhood values up makes great sense for everyone living there!
By Voices Member,  Wed May 29 2013, 13:11
#1 is so true! Great work!

David | http://www.vandoornroofing.com/
By Voices Member,  Tue Aug 20 2013, 15:38
My home has never been underwater but I just may try some of these to improve its value! Thanks for the help! :)

David | http://www.carpetsuperstores.ca/laminate-m.php
By Voices Member,  Tue Aug 20 2013, 15:56
Tara, your articles are so much above average! I will keep reading because they are so awesome! :)

David | http://www.fleetservicechicago.com/SERVICES.html
By Voices Member,  Tue Aug 20 2013, 16:13
I am going to try these because I know that they are going to work! Thanks again, Tara! :)

David | http://www.jpdentalgroup.com/services.html
By Voices Member,  Tue Aug 20 2013, 17:12
I have always loved reading your articles because they are so real and effective! Keep it up, Tara! :)

David | http://www.effectiveair.com/webapp/p/3/flow-through-humidifier.html
By Voices Member,  Mon Aug 26 2013, 15:44
Underwater homes can be a good thing and a bad thing. It all just matters how you weather the experiences that come with them...

David | http://www.kingrecycling.ca/garbage-bin-rentals.html
By Voices Member,  Mon Sep 9 2013, 15:32
Why have an underwater home when you can just have a boat! ;) I am just kidding but you know what I mean!

David | http://freeinternetmarketingquote.com
By Voices Member,  Mon Sep 9 2013, 15:33
I am going to try and utilize this practices and see how far they can take my home! Thanks for sharing! :)

David | http://www.smbautorecycling.net
By Voices Member,  Mon Sep 9 2013, 15:35
Tara, I am so happy that you shared this awesome article! Keep sharing and I will keep reading! :)

David | http://barnabyheatingandairtx.com
By karablader,  Mon Jun 16 2014, 13:32
We knocked out the wall separating the kitchen from the living room. It really did open up the space a lot more. I also like being able to converse with my family while I'm in the kitchen cooking. That is one home remodel that I would do again in a heartbeat.
Shelly Slader | http://www.mbabuildinggroup.com/home-renovations.jsp

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