Anyone visiting a weekend open house knows that most for-sale properties today have been “staged” to show them at their best and most appealing. Some would-be home sellers have wondered whether it might be better to go one step beyond staging and do a remodel of their home to increase its value. After all, who’s not impressed by a brand new, state-of-the-art kitchen and bathroom?

The remodeling industry chalked up sales of more than $340 billion in 2017—a 7.5% increase from the previous year. Are these homeowners onto some financial secret? Can remodeling increase the value of a home?

The simple answer is yes—but it is unlikely that spending money on a major remodel will translate into a high enough sales price to justify the expense. According to a recent survey completed by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the average recovery of remodeling costs is 56%. This means that spending $20,000 to update an older kitchen to a shiny new on will increase the value of the home by only about $11,200.

There are some improvements that may offer better numbers. Replacing and modernizing structural items, such as garage doors and windows, can give a return of 75% of their cost. Interior projects tend to have less favorable returns: adding a master suite, for example, may increase the value by 56.6% of its cost—and this represents a 14.7% drop from the previous year. Major kitchen upgrades return about 56%, down 10.9% from last year.

Reining in the cost and extent of remodels can provide better returns. A minor kitchen update can return up to 81% of its cost. Bathroom tune-ups are much the same. Buyers respond favorably to appliances and fixtures that are functional and new.

Many homeowners, aware of rising interest rates and prices, are turning to remodeling to avoid a move, choosing to spend money to make their homes more livable and attractive over a longer period, not so much for resale value.

If you are contemplating a remodel, you should decide whether you are hoping to increase the value of your home for resale in the immediate future, or whether you simply want to make your property more livable over a longer period. If you are planning to sell, you should think twice about spending the money, since you’ll only get a portion of it back in the form of a higher sales price.

 

Source: TBWS

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There are always people who seem to find scamming consumers to be a worthwhile career choice. This time, the miscreant is Michael Davenport, former bass player for pop-punk band, The Ataris. Davenport and his alleged co-conspirator, Cynthia Rawlinson, operated a telemarketing boiler room in Santa Barbara. According to the indictment, they collected more than $27 million dollars from unwary consumers over a seven-year period.

The scam was a common one: they placed ads on Craigslist offering houses for sale or rent at “favorable prices.” Hopeful consumers would pay $199 to be able to view the listings. Once the victim paid the fee, they would discover that many of the addresses did not exist.

Davenport and Rawlinson allegedly collected money from more than 100,000 people in all 50 states until their office was raided by FBI agents in October 2016. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $853,000 that was in a merchant processing account at the time of the raid, along with $104,000 in cash seized later fr0m Davenport at a Little Rock, Arkansas airport, where Davenport was arrested in December. If the two are convicted, they could face up to 30 years in prison.

This rental scam is not significantly different from the others. They all prey on the most vulnerable people who are facing ever-rising rents and prices. The best defense against scams like this one is simple: never pay a fee or subscription to see properties that seem too good to be true, and always verify that an owner’s representative is who they say they are. Scams like this one are always conducted by people hiding behind email addresses and mail drops, so the victims never meet the criminals trying to relieve them of their hard-earned money. Legitimate rental agents will always meet prospective tenants at the property and provide access.

Don’t be taken in by offers that appear to be too good to be true; there is always a catch.

 

Source: TBWS

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Buy Real Estate with Bitcoins? In Dubai, you can.

British entrepreneurs and real estate developers Michelle Mone and Doug Barrowman have begun offering units in their 2.4 million square foot buildings in Dubai…for Bitcoins. A studio apartment will go initially for the low, low promotional price of 30 BTC, while the more spacious 1-bedroom units will bring 50 BTC. The prices of the 150 units offered for Bitcoin payment are tied to the US Dollar, so they will fluctuate as the Bitcoin moves. The studio apartment was initially offered at $133,918—but that was when 1 BTC was trading at its high of $4,600.

At today’s prices, 1 Bitcoin is worth $3,850. No, wait: it’s $3,854. Hold on…it’s almost $4,000. Now it’s back to $3,850. It reached a high of $4,683 in August 2017. Bitcoin is somewhat volatile; you might say—this time last year, you could buy 1 BTC for about $600. Interested readers can find the history of Bitcoin prices online.

For anyone not quite familiar with the term, Bitcoin (BTC) is a form of “cryptocurrency.” It first appeared in 2009, introduced by an anonymous person using the name, “Satoshi Nakamoto.” No one knows for sure who this person is.

Part of the appeal for many is that transactions conducted in BTC are completely anonymous; the parties are identified using a unique, encrypted digital “key, ” and the transactions occur online. The anonymity of BTC transactions causes a certain amount of anxiety to security experts around the world. Some might consider it to be the equivalent of numbered Swiss bank accounts.

We’re likely to hear more about cryptocurrencies in the future.

It’s not likely that we’ll see Bitcoin used to purchase real estate in the U.S. anytime soon, if ever. Large financial transactions, such as anything involving real estate, requires a detailed accounting of all the funds involved. A wealthy buyer can’t walk into the title company with a wheelbarrow full of cash—or a digital “wallet” full of Bitcoins—and expect to close escrow. A “cash” buyer must document the source of the funds to avoid any possibility of money laundering.

While the units in the Dubai luxury complex will almost certainly sell out quickly to wealthy cash (Bitcoin) buyers, those who hold Bitcoins in the U.S. will still have to settle for paying for their real estate acquisitions with good old dollars.

Source: TBWS

 

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WASHINGTON (November 6, 2013) – The majority of metropolitan areas in the third quarter experienced robust year-over-year price gains, with the national median price showing the strongest annual growth in nearly eight years  Read full article

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National Home Prices Nearing Pre-Crash Levels
Aug 26 2013, 11:11AM – From Mortgage News Daily

Home prices keep edging closer to pre-crash price levels and today’s Home Price Index report from Lender Processing Services (LPS) indicates that national prices are now back within 15.2 percent of that peak.  The index for June rose to $229,000 from 226,000 in May, an increase of 1.2 percent and is up 6.9 percent from the end of last year.  The peak, in June 2006, was $270,000.

LPS used its loan-level databases and June 2013 residential real estate transactions to conduct a repeat sales analysis of home prices.  The LPS HPI represents the price of non-distressed sales by taking into account price discounts for bank-owned real estate (REO) and short sales.

States with the biggest month-over-month appreciation were Nevada, up 2.4 percent, Florida, 1.7 percent, and California and Illinois at 1.6 percent each.  Other states with increases exceeding one percent in a month were Delaware, Georgia, Utah, North Dakota, Colorado, and Arizona.

 

 

All states showed some appreciation from May to June but the smallest gains were in Nebraska at 0.4 percent, Alaska at 0.5 percent, and Iowa at 0.6 percent.  Click Here for Full Article

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7/22/13 Wall Street Journal

” Over the past two months, mortgage rates have jumped by a full percentage point; this has only happened twice since 1994, an article in The Wall Street Journal said.

However, rates could rise to 6% or prices could rise an additional 20% before housing would become unaffordable relative to historical levels, the article noted.

But even though rates are low historically, they still will put a larger dent in borrowers’ budgets. A $200,000 home with a 10% down payment soared more than $100 a month, while the cost of a $450,000 home increased by $250, the article explained.  ”

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Home Prices Increase at Fastest Annual Pace Since May 2006- Case Shiller

2013_2D00_04_2D00_30-case-1

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Z Glass Micro Dwelling by Tumbleweed Tiny House CompanyThe real estate market has started to recover from the downturn over the last few years in many areas of the country, and more people are thinking about buying a new place to live.

With this new energy in home buying, an interesting trend seems to be developing.  

Instead of going for larger homes, which was an overwhelming trend in years past, many people are choosing micro-dwellings.

What is a micro-dwelling?

There are a number of different styles of micro dwellings being built.  This is a relatively new concept for homes in the United States and individual creativity abounds in this space.

The most common factor in micro-dwellings are their size. They tend to be less than 500 square feet of living space.

Some densely populated metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York City are planning apartments as small as approximately 300 square feet!

Think this shrinking of real estate space applies only to multi-family dwellings?

Think again. You can also find tiny single-family homes — some of which are even portable.

If you’re still not convinced, read on to discover a few of the factors drawing buyers to smaller living spaces.

A lower price tag – The cost of these homes can be significantly less than that of standard homes, which means you may not have a large mortgage over your head for the next 30 years.

More free time – A smaller house means less cleaning. Who isn’t on board with that idea?

Less clutter – If your home is less than 500 square feet, you have to get rid of everything you don’t absolutely need.

Mobility – Many of these tiny homes are equipped with wheels or built-on trailers, so moving is no longer the stressful and expensive undertaking it used to be. Simply close the door and go!

Smaller is greener – It makes sense that if your home is smaller, you will automatically reduce your energy consumption, which means more money in your pocket every month and a smaller carbon footprint.

Micro-living might not be for everyone.  It does offer an option for those who are just starting out, those who love to travel, or those nearing retirement.

And even if you don’t opt for the smallest living space, reducing energy usage and saving money are ideas most anyone can take to the bank.

Photo Credit: Tumbleweed Tiny Homes

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