Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Considering a Home Remodel? Make Sure It Will Pay Off

If your family has to wait in line to take a shower, or if you're storing pots and pans in the laundry room due to lack of cabinet space, it could be time to consider a home remodeling project. Not only will an updated space make your house more pleasant for you and your family, it can pay off in higher resale value.

To find out if your project will add to the resale value of your home, take stock of other houses in your neighborhood. Have many of them been upgraded in the past few years? If everyone on the block has added a bathroom or upgraded their master suite, these projects would be worth considering. On the other hand, you may not want to price your house out of the market by adding a third or fourth garage if that's not the standard in your area.

Remodeling Magazine conducts an annual survey that compares construction costs with resale values. Over the past four years, bathroom and kitchen remodeling have consistently shown good returns on investment. In 2005, a kitchen remodel that included updating cabinet fronts; replacing the oven, stove, sink and faucet; adding new paint or wall coverings; and replacing existing flooring recouped 98.5 percent of the job cost at resale time as a national average.

Bathroom remodels pay off even better. Updating a bathroom that is 25 years old with new fixtures, tub, and toilet; adding new tile, a solid surface vanity counter, ceramic floor and wallpaper recoups on average 102.2 percent.

Of course, you won't want to tackle a home improvement project solely for the resale value, especially if you intend to stay put for a while. A remodel can contribute to a better quality of living for your family while your house increases in value. "Choose an improvement that makes sense for you and your family and one that you can afford," says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education for Experian, a global information solutions company.

To decide if a home remodeling project is right for you, make a list of features that you would like in the room to be renovated, taking into account how you and your family use the space. Consider traffic patterns, lighting and special features you'd like, such as a wet bar or walk-in shower.

Next, figure out how much you can spend on the project. You might want to consider taking out a home equity loan to finance the remodel. Because the loan is secured by your home, it will likely have a lower annual percentage rate, and you may get some tax breaks, too. The amount you can borrow is limited by the equity you have in your home. Other factors that may influence the amount you can borrow include your credit history, income and current financial responsibilities. Also, be sure to have a plan for how you will repay the loan. You don't want to put your home at risk or add too much stress to the family budget.

To make sure your financing is ready when you are, visit a credit reporting company online such as to quickly and easily access your credit report. "If you notice anything questionable, such as accounts you don't recognize, or payment disputes, deal with those issues before applying for a home equity loan," says Sweet. "It can also be helpful to have your credit score which will tell you specifically the factors in your credit history that could be considered risky by lenders."

Finally, get bids from several contractors to see how your budget and the cost of your dream remodel compare. Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations, or ask your lender if they're familiar with the contractors you're considering. Another great way to check out a company is SmartBusinessReports, also available through Experian. These business credit reports provide consumers with background information, comprehensive financial information and credit risk facts about the business they are considering using in an easy-to-read, online format.

As with any big project, you'll need to be flexible and not let the inevitable glitches get in the way of the big picture - when you're done, you'll have a beautiful new space for you and your family to enjoy for years to come. (ARA)

If you would like input from a real estate professional as to whether or not your home improvement project will add resale value to your home or if you are over-improving for the neighborhood, just give me a call at 732-548-5555 #314. I am glad to help.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Post-Contract Pitfalls

Selling a home is like climbing Mount Everest – getting a signed contract is a great accomplishment, but that's only half the journey. The typical home sale today involves more than 20 steps after the initial contract is accepted to complete the transaction.

Much of what needs to be done before the closing is the responsibility of appraisers, loan processors, attorneys, and inspectors — my role, as your REALTOR®, is to coordinate those responsibilities, helping to ensure that others do their jobs promptly and correctly and that the closing isn't jeopardized.

Many steps between contract ratification and closing involve the cooperation of both buyer and seller, and it takes attentive REALTORS® on both sides of the transaction to troubleshoot and keep everyone on track.

When things go wrong, closing can easily fall behind. Here's how much time to expect on particular delays:

One-Week Delays
1. Buyer submits incorrect information to lender.
2. Source of downpayment changes.
3. Escrow fails to notify parties about missing documents.
4. Principals leave town without signing all necessary papers.
5. Unknown defects are discovered in the property.
6. Last-minute liens discovered.
7. Cloud on title.
8. Move-out date changes.

Two-Week Delays
1. Lender decides at the last minute it doesn't approve of the borrower or the property.
2. Lender raises interest rates.
3. Lender requires last minute reappraisal or repairs.
4. Appraisal too low.

I have extensive experience in handling problems that may arise during the time between contract and closing; I can anticipate difficulties and address them in time to ensure a smooth settlement for all involved.

To ensure a smooth settlement when buying or selling your home, give me a call, 732-548-555 #314. I'm here to help!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Housing Market To Stay on High Plateau

Home sales should remain strong this year according to a report just released from the National Association of Realtors. The association expects sales to move up and down somewhat over for the rest of the year, but are predicting 2006 as being the third strongest year in history.

NAR President Thomas M. Stevens from Vienna, Va., said home prices are expected to cool, but not as much as in earlier projections. Click here to read the full report.

So if you were waiting for the real estate market to go bust before you buy, you probably shouldn't hesitate any longer. Visit my website,, or contact me by phone, 732-548-5555 #314 or e-mail. I will show you how you can take advantage of this strong market and low interest rates.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Homes For Sale In Central New Jersey

Metuchen Charm. Wonderful home 4 Bedrooms, 2 Baths. Eat-In Kitchen with Butler’s Pantry. Large Formal Dining Room. Welcoming Living Room with fireplace and French Doors. Original woodwork and stained glass windows. Expansive Master Bedroom. Sparkling hardwood floors. Full Basement and Detached Garage. Walk to Metuchen town center and direct train to Manhattan. Asking Price: $499,900

Park-like setting in Piscataway. Large Family Home in great location, just across the road from Lake Nelson. 4 Bedrooms, 1.5 Bathrooms. Large, sunny living room leading to dining room. Expansive Family Room. Garage. Private yard with deck. This is a lot of home for the money. Asking Price: $399,900

Classic North Edison Colonial. 4 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths. Eat-In Kitchen. Family Room with brick fireplace and wet bar. Large rooms. Finished Basement. Central Air. 2 Car Garage. Private half-acre parklike lot, fully fenced with oversized deck and hot tub. Desirable Livingston Acres. High School: J.P. Stevens. Asking Price: $599,900.

For virtual tours of these homes, visit: – Featured Homes

And for more information on how I can help you purchase a home in Central New Jersey or for my interactive guide, What You Need to Know Before Buying A Home, visit my wehbsite, or give me a call, 732-548-5555 #314. I'm glad to help!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Important Tax Information For New Jersey Homeowners

The April 15 tax deadline is only a few days away and hopefully you are well on your way to completing your tax return and you won’t be one of those people in line at the post office late at night on April 14!

If you purchased a home in 2005, you will need the HUD-1 Statement from the closing on your new home, when calculating your taxes. This is the document itemizing the monies at closing. Your accountant or tax advisor will be able to tell you which of your closing costs are tax deductible.

The mortgage interest that is reflected on the HUD-1 is not calculated in the interest reflected on your year end statement that you will receive from your mortgage company. So, be sure to add the interest in the HUD-1 to other interest paid for the year.

If I can help with any other questions concerning the purchase of your home last year or if you are considering buying a home this year, give me a call, 732-548-5555 #314. I’m glad to help. Or visit my website, You will find a wealth of information there.