If you are concerned about safety, the local police department is your best source of information--consider a visit/call and ask all your questions, they'll gladly help and you will have heard all firtshand. If you are not familiar with the area, do visit more than once and at different times of day, look at everything that is important to you and then make a determination, will your comfort level be reached--real estate professionals are prohibited from "steering" enticing a buyer to purchase/rent, or not, in specific neighborhoods, complexes, etc.... more
It all depends on how nice you want to make your improvements. The must-have granite countertops can be pricey, as are the trendy stainless steel appliances (I just saw a pretty ordinary stainless steel fridge at Home Depot listed at $1500). I'd say budget $3000 for basic appliances, for starters.
As far as demo or construction work goes, it pays to do everything by the book, with permits. This is because when you sell your house, you can actually claim the legal improvements in the listing.
If you're tempted to do everything yourself, I read somewhere (This Old House Magazine, I think) a convincing argument against being your own general contractor and in favor of hiring one. If you're the general contractor, all the liability is on you. If anyone working on your property gets injured, you and your homeowner's insurance are liable. Instead, get a construction attorney, all the permits and a general contractor, and let the pros do what they're good at.
Of course if you are a licensed contractor that's a different story.... more
Interesting. Why do you think that you overpaid? When did you close? Was there a CMA done on the house? An appraisal for a mortgage? Real estate tends to appreciate over time. Even if you did actually overpay by a little, if you are there a while it should go up in value.... more