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Are your client’s home improvement projects actually decreasing the home’s value?

Not every home improvement project is an upgrade – some may leave your client’s bank account empty and turn potential buyers away.

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Home improvement projects can require a significant time commitment and huge financial investment. Homeowners make improvements for a wide variety of reasons, but almost all expect to increase the resale value of their home according to the money they put down.

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Know your buyers’ needs

Unfortunately, not every project will yield the resale value that homeowners hope. For those of us in the real estate industry, it is important to give smart advice to our clients before they begin a major renovation.

Always research your market and decide which upgrades will add to your home’s appeal without pricing it out of the market.

If your client lives in a neighborhood where comparable houses are being sold for millions of dollars, then it makes sense to add some high-end features. But if houses in their community sell for $150,000, adding a luxury bath and entertainment room will probably mean losing money in the long run. Ironically, small projects often make the biggest difference in terms of adding resale value to a home.

Here are some common upgrades that homeowners should be wary of:

Luxury Bathrooms

Bathroom upgrades rarely regain more than half their original expense. Buyers want to see clean, useable bathrooms, but many aren’t impressed by over the top features like waterfall showers, fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and expensive tiling. These features may not appeal to the preferences of your buyer, and can require unwanted maintenance. If your client plans to remodel their bathroom, remind them to remain practical. A nice, modern shower is likely to be a better investment than a high-end tub.

Swimming Pools

According to HouseLogic, in-ground pools only increase a home’s value by 7 percent. Not only are pools expensive and hard to maintain, they can be hazardous for small children. Many potential buyers won’t consider buying a home with a pool, especially if they live in an unaccommodating climate. Above-ground pools are an even worse investment, as they can actually decrease the value of your home. Many buyers will remove the pool immediately upon purchasing the home, or negotiate for it to be removed as part of the sale.

Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Although new carpeting can really help spruce up a room, it is quick to show signs of dirt and wear. Also, prospective buyers may dislike the carpet color and texture you choose, or prefer hard wood or tile flooring.

Sunroom Addition

It can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 to build a sunroom. As one of the most expensive upgrades, it’s very important that homeowners build their sunroom to match the climate. In Minnesota, you will likely get more value from a four-season porch than a patio. According to Remodeling, sunrooms return only 48.5% of money expensed.

Built-In Aquarium

Although they might look cool at first, built-in aquariums are another feature that requires difficult and expensive maintenance. Potential buyers must either take on the responsibility of upkeep, or spend money to remove the aquarium entirely.

Garage Additions

Most one-car garage additions cost an average of $20,000 to $40,000, and homeowners are unlikely to recoup the full price in resale. Though the extra space might be convenient, buyers are often willing to settle for a standard two-door garage for a better price.

High-End Landscaping

Expensive landscaping may improve curb appeal, but it may also discourage buyers that don’t want the extra work or have different landscaping preferences. Simple landscaping is less likely to deter buyers, especially when it looks nice year round and requires little to no upkeep.

Built-In Electronics

A home movie theatre and media room may seem tempting to your client, but potential buyers may easily perceive these features to be a drain on energy costs and a poor use of space.

Personalized Décor

Home improvements should appeal to people generally—not just your particular family. Quirky designs like bright pink walls and colorful tiling might just turn buyers away. Neutral designs are always more likely to increase the value of your client’s home.

#HomeImprovement

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Hannah is currently a writer and student in Colorado Springs, pursuing her master's degree in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. Before becoming a Staff Writer for the American Genius, Hannah wrote website content and grant applications for a law office in central Minnesota.

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Homeownership

Modpools repurposes shipping containers into residential pools

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Pools are getting hipper and cooler and Modpools is the proof. Make a splash while swimming in a shipping container – yep, you read that right.

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Treat yo’self to a cutting edge, futuristic pool. Canadian company Modpools repurposes shipping containers into fully-functional swimming pools for residential properties.

Sounds trashy, but this isn’t the dumpster/tarp situation that may come to mind when you hear “re-purposed pool.”

These are post-apocalyptic chic, like when society starts reusing everything for luxurious purposes instead of just survival.

Creators of Modpools, Paul and Denise Rathnam, have worked in the modified shipping industry for over a decade. They wanted to create a pool for their three kids, and eventually released their first Modpool to the public this March.

Containers are purchased from Chinese suppliers after the cargo is shipped to North America, and modified in Modpool’s Canadian factory. Modpools ship anywhere in the world because, well, they’re literally shipping containers.

You can get an 8’x’20 or 8’x’40 pool installed and filled up in a matter of minutes unlike regular pools that can take weeks to be ready.

The pools come standard in a sleek black, and feature a huge clear window to reduce the potential claustrophobia element of hanging out in a shipping container.

Think traditional above ground pools look like trash but live in a state (hi, Texas) with notoriously hard ground?

You’re in luck.

According to the creators, “You can put it in ground, but it’s designed to be above so you can just pop it in.”

Plus, the pools look awesome with decks designed to wrap around the edges.

Oh and hey guess what? There’s a hot tub element too. Every pool features a removable divider to instantly convert half the pool into a hot tub.

If you’re looking for more reasons to love this thing, it’s totally app controlled, and can operate remotely.

Yep—this is a smart pool. Heating, jets, and color-changing LED lights are all programmable via app.

Ultraviolet sanitation keeps all the nasties out of the water and means you won’t end up with weird chlorine halo vision after a long swim session.

For more customization, customers can request specific colors for the outside of the pool, go windowless, or even make it into an endless swim spa.

Modpools also offers a wide variety of pool covers, from snap button to child safe electronically retractable ones, to prevent any mishaps.

It takes around six to eight weeks to create a Modpool, so start saving up your lemonade stand money now.

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Homeownership

NAR launches first ever profile of LGB homebuyers and sellers

(REAL ESTATE) For the first time ever, NAR has extracted data from their massive national profile of buyers and sellers to observe preferences of LGB (lesbian, gay, and bisexual) consumers – pretty interesting insights!

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LGB homebuyer profile

To celebrate Pride Month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) dug into four years of data from their Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers to unearth similarities and differences between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual Americans.

“The American Dream of homeownership traverses across the spectrum of our society – including sexual orientation – and Realtors® always have and will continue to advocate so that anyone who wants to, and is capable of purchasing a home, is able to do so,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota and broker at Edina Realty.

Smaby added, “Realtors® have always embraced the significance of the protections secured by the Fair Housing Act, and have encouraged efforts to extend them by amending our Code of Ethics in 2009 to prohibit discriminations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

For the purposes of this report, it appears NAR has broken the data down into three categories to observe: Heterosexual, Bisexual, and Gay/Lesbian buyers are combined into a third group.

The segment of the population most likely to indicate they’re first time homebuyers is bisexuals (at 58%), followed by gay and lesbian buyers (36%), and heterosexuals (32%).

The most likely to be a first-time home seller was bisexuals (50%), while lesbians, gays, and heterosexuals equally indicated it was their first time (36%) being a home seller.

Bisexuals were observed to be the youngest buyers, a median age of 36 years old, and had the lowest median income of $62,400. In comparison, lesbian and gay buyers were the oldest buyers at 45 years old. Heterosexual buyers reported a median age of 44 and a median income of $91,200, similar to $92,900 for lesbian and gay buyers.

Regarding each group’s preferences:

  • Homes purchased by bisexual buyers are a median of 1,840sf, with a median year built of 1966.
  • Gay and lesbian buyers purchased homes with a median of 1,900sf, and a median year built of 1974.
  • Heterosexual buyers’ median home size is 2,060 median sf, and 1985 is the median year.
  • Bisexual buyers were the most likely to purchase a detached single-family home (86%).
  • Gay and lesbian buyers were the least likely (79%), and only 10% purchased a multi-generational home.
  • Heterosexual buyers were the most likely to purchase a multi-generational home (13%).
      • Lesbian and gay buyers were most likely to purchase in an urban area or a city center (28%).
      • Bisexual buyers were most likely to buy a home in a small town (22%).
      • All sexual orientations were equally likely to purchase in a resort or recreation area (2%).
      • Bisexual buyers were most likely to have made at least one compromise in their home purchase, most likely on the price (28%), style of home (23%) or distance from their jobs (23%).
      • Lesbian and gay buyers were the least likely to have compromised on convenience to schools (7%).

      Regarding other demographic info:

      • Bisexual home buyers were less likely to identify as white/Caucasian than lesbian/gay or heterosexual buyers (77%, compared to 88% and 85%, respectively).
      • Bisexuals are nearly twice as likely to identify as Hispanic than both groups (13% compared to 7%).
      • Fully 14% of bisexual buyers were born outside of the U.S., versus 7% of lesbian and gay buyers.
      • 38% of bisexual home buyers identify as single females.
      • 25% of gay buyers identify as single men.
      • 22% of lesbian and gay buyers identify as an unmarried couple (38% as a married couple).
      • 15% of bisexual buyers identify as an unmarried couple (34% as a married couple).
      • 7% of heterosexuals identify as an unmarried couple (66% as a married couple).
      • 38% of heterosexual buyers have children in their household.
      • 29% of bisexual buyers have children in their household.
      • 11% of lesbian and gay buyers have children in their household.

      “The number of home buyers and sellers who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has remained steady at 4% since we first included the question in our HBS survey in 2015,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Given that Millennials now make up 37% of home buyers and attitudes regarding sexual orientation continue to shift even among Generation Z, we expect to see this percentage increase in future surveys as younger generations are more likely to self-identify as LGB.”

      Editor’s note: For the purpose of citing this study and for logistics, we used NAR’s terminology, making an exception to our internal policy to only use the acronym “LGBTQIA+” in all stories.

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Boomers are downsizing, leaving unwanted heirlooms

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) As baby boomers downsize and capitalize on senior management, heirlooms and antiques are falling to the wayside (they just don’t spark joy).

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There’s nothing quite like moving to make you realize how much stuff you have. When every single item in your household has to be boxed up and carted elsewhere, it’s easy to be startled by the sheer volume of material possessions you own.

Often, when we move, we end up taking an opportunity to purge our belongings. Bags and boxes are donated to thrift stores. Hand-me-down clothes are passed to the neighbors. Keepsakes are re-gifted to friends.

This can be a painstaking process at any age, but a particularly emotional one for aging retirees.

The numbers show that, between the ages of 18 and 54, we tend to move into ever bigger houses. It makes sense – you start out with an affordable one bedroom place. You get married, have kids, and need to move into something bigger.

Retirees are on the opposite tip.

Their grown children have moved out, they are getting older and would like to lighten their load of housework and maintenance. After age 55, people typically move from larger dwellings into smaller ones.

A growing “senior move management” industry has arisen to fulfill the particular needs of the older set. The trade group, the National Association of Senior Move Managers boasts 950 member companies.

These companies handle everything from hiring the moving trucks to changing your address to renegotiating your cable contract for your new home.

Industry insiders say that one of the trickier aspects of their job is managing those precious items that won’t fit in the new home, but that the mover would like to keep “in the family.” Parents and grandparents often hope that their children and grandchildren will adopt their treasured heirlooms and collections. But the younger set isn’t having it.

The adult Millennial children of the Baby Boomer generation have their own style and taste that may not match their parents’. Many are living in small dwellings themselves with minimalistic aesthetics. An antique oak hutch simply isn’t going to mesh with a twenty-something’s Ikea-inspired bachelor pad.

The younger set also doesn’t entertain in the same formal style as the older generation, making silver flatware and fancy china obsolete. It’s not about being ungrateful, it’s about wildly different styles between generations.

What it boils down to is: just because mom thought it was precious, doesn’t mean that daughter gives a damn.

Says Kate Grondin of the senior move management company Home Transition Resource, “We can help soften the blow if the kids don’t want anything but are afraid to tell their parents.” Sometimes the kids flatly refuse to inherit items like furniture, art, or dishware that their parents have held onto for decades, or even generations.

Other times, in order to avoid hard feelings, the kids might take items, only to turn around and throw or give them away.

When moving elders ask senior move manager Anne Lucas of Ducks in a Row, “‘What do I do with my crystal and china?’” she tells them “‘Drink your OJ out of it. Who cares if the gold comes off? The kids don’t want it.’”

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