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Category Archive: ‘Remodel Projects’

Home Maintenance Costs

repairs

Back in 2009, we ran the first post entitled, Home Maintenance Costs:

http://www.bubbleinfo.com/2009/09/17/home-maintenance-costs/

After discussing the need for home maintenance with several clients  recently, I thought it would be a great time to review.

Every condo association in California is required to complete a Reserve Study so they are socking away enough money every month to repair and replace every item needed over time.  Homeowners should do the same!

Examples of things that need regular repair/replacement:  Air conditioning, appliances, BBQ, ducting, faucets, flooring, furnace, lighting, painting, roof, siding, sinks, toilets, windows, etc.

These are pure home repairs and replacements – they don’t include exterior maintenance or home improvements/upgrades/updating, which all matter too.

I came up with my own formula to estimate how much money homeowners should spend each year just on maintenance – try it out:

Age of home X square footage/15 = Annual spend

The 15 was derived from a reasonable number of years it will take to catch up on everything if you start today.  You may want to re-start again in year 16!

My formula is unscientific, but it is close enough.  Spend something!

Doing regular repairs will help you avoid multiple major expenses, and save you from needing a complete redo when it comes time to sell.

The joys of homeownership!

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Remodel Projects, Repairs/Improvements, Thinking of Buying?, Tips, Advice & Links | 0 comments

White is Hot

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From our friends at the wsj.com:

In choosing the color of the year, the team at Benjamin Moore found that Mascarpone was too creamy and Ice Mist too frigid. In the end, Simply White OC-177 was just the right white for 2016.

Never before had the New Jersey-based paint manufacturer chosen white as color of the year. (Last year’s winner was Guilford Green.) But in real estate right now, white is hot, with home builders, developers and designers going for a white-on-white look in everything from reclaimed barns to posh penthouses.

“Designers would be paralyzed without white,” says Andrea Magno, who heads the color team at Benjamin Moore, which offers more than 250 shades of white.

In Manhattan, Toll Brothers City Living has built its priciest property to date: a $29.5 million penthouse at 1110 Park Avenue. In the living room, white sofas and rugs play against a backdrop of muted gray walls. White marble surrounds the fireplace. The designer on the project, Cheryl Eisen, president of Interior Marketing Group, says she chose colors that wouldn’t distract from the space’s classic architecture. It is also unlikely to look dated and makes it easy for the buyer to imagine living there, she adds.

“It’s ideal for staging because it isn’t overly taste-specific, and creates a calm, clean, elegant feeling, which resonates with a broad buyer demographic,” Ms. Eisen says. She chose more dramatic neutrals to add personality, like in the den, which is painted greige, a mix of gray and beige.

Interior designer Geoffrey Bradfield says white radiates luxury, sophistication, and serenity. “I, for one, could never be depressed in a white room,” he says. For a project on New York’s Upper East Side, Mr. Bradfield chose white limestone flooring, white walls and Ionic columns and predominantly white upholstered furniture. The home, called White Hall, has a bright white painted stucco exterior.

The color works for practical reasons when clients are big art collectors, he adds. “White is one of the most incredible foils for art.”

Not everyone embraces the stark aesthetic. “That look may not be received as well in our other markets,” says Kira Sterling of Toll Brothers’ marketing division. She says the company would never use that look for a home in Bucks County, Pa., for example, an area renowned for its farms, wineries and covered bridges. “Perhaps too sterile,” she says. “It’s specific to geography and price point.”

Read full article here:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/white-is-the-new-black-for-luxury-real-estate-1469111043

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Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Remodel Projects | 3 comments

Home Facelifts & Prop 13

Those buyers who don’t mind a fixer can open up additional possibilities (ignore the part about people not selling and remodeling instead!):

http://www.wsj.com/articles/californias-hot-housing-market-drives-pricey-home-facelifts-1462456812

Justin and Michelle Wilson didn’t have much of a choice when they turned a $1.58 million ugly duckling into a $3 million swan.

There were very few options in Mountain View, Calif., within their $2 million budget, and each house they liked got snapped up in a bidding war. So they settled for a dated $1.58 million beige-and-brown Tudor-style house and gave it a $600,000 makeover that took seven months. Now, the contemporary home’s facade features stucco, stone and steel as well as a striking portico.

“It makes us happy to drive up and come home,” said Mr. Wilson, a 34-year-old financial executive.

While the dynamic is playing out in a number of U.S. cities, California’s plight is particularly intense because of Proposition 13, a 1978 amendment to the state constitution. It set property taxes based on 1975 assessments and capped future property-tax increases at 2% a year.

The catch: When a home in California is sold, the property is reassessed based on its current sale price, resulting in a large tax increase for the new buyer. To avoid this tax hit, many homeowners simply stay put rather than move, which further suppresses the inventory of home listings and keeps prices high.

“Prop. 13 has a strong tendency to keep people in homes longer than they otherwise would be,” said Paul Habibi, a professor of real estate at the Ziman Center for Real Estate the University of California, Los Angeles. “If the market is rising faster than the assessed values, you have all the economic incentive to stay in place,” Mr. Habibi said.

A study released in 2005 by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Cambridge, Mass.-based think tank, found that in California, on average, homeowners stay put for 1.4 years longer than in other states due to Proposition 13. In coastal cities, the “lock-in effect,” as the study called it, is even higher. Homeowners in Los Angeles stay put over two years longer, and San Francisco homeowners keep their homes over three years longer than homeowners in other states.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/californias-hot-housing-market-drives-pricey-home-facelifts-1462456812

Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Remodel Projects | 8 comments

Renovate America HERO

2016-03-10 15.53.17

Renovate America finances energy-efficient home improvements, and is part of the PACE program.  Because the ensuing loan gets put on your property-tax bill, it becomes a negotiable item when selling.

This film is a public service to help participants learn the basics – because you will come across these HERO loans when buying and selling.  Renovate America has been approved by 350 municipalities in California, and have every intention of expanding throughout the country – they have 600 employees!

They have the potential of becoming the Zillow of the home improvement sector – they think big. They have already implemented several customer-care benefits like monitoring the contractors – who don’t get paid until the consumer signs off – and providing contractor-dispute resolution whether the company is involved or not.

Loans are based on the homeowner having at least 10% equity based on a recent appraisal, or values from four AVMs (no income-qualifying required).  The loans are sold on Wall Street as HERO bonds.

Here is an introduction:

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Market Conditions, Remodel Projects, Repairs/Improvements | 13 comments

Communal House Flipping

flippers

The building of the next bubble won’t look the same as the last one, but a common thread will be lenders who are hands-off. Hat tip to daytrip for sending in this story about crowdfunding for flippers:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-crowdfunding-house-flippers-20160214-story.html

An excerpt:

Although data providers don’t track the number or dollar-volume of loans going to house flippers as opposed to developers of larger projects, more than a dozen real-estate-focused platforms offer loans to them. And a handful of Southern California start-ups specialize in the market.

Patch of Land in West Los Angeles made about $61 million in loans last year, mostly to house flippers, and PeerStreet in Manhattan Beach made $40 million, almost entirely to them.

“There’s a crowdfunder popping up once a month now, and the low-hanging fruit is the fix and flips,” said Jonathan Lee, a principal at George Smith Partners, a Century City real-estate-financing firm.

Like hard-money lenders, crowdfunding platforms guard against risk by securing the loans to the property and lending for less than its full value.

If a borrower goes bust, the lender takes title to the property, which, in theory, can be sold for more than the loan principal. PeerStreet, for instance, typically will lend only about 75% of a home’s value.

“They don’t look at income or tax returns. They’re looking at the property and the project. Is there profit to be made?” said Christian Fuentes, a Pomona real estate agent and house flipper.

Patch of Land can issue a check in just a couple of weeks, assuming that a loan meets its underwriting standards. The loan is then offered up to the 17,000 investors signed up on its site.

Golden Bee in November bought a two-bedroom house on Greenfield Avenue in West L.A., not far from the Westside Pavilion. The company paid about $1.2 million, with $1 million coming from Patch of Land at an annual interest rate of 12%.

Berneman is planning a $750,000 renovation that will add more than 1,500 square feet of space, along with new plumbing and wiring. He estimates that the house, built in the 1930s, hasn’t been renovated in 50 years.

“We’ll be knocking some of it down to the studs,” he said.

Berneman hopes to sell the house for as much as $2.5 million once it’s back on the market this fall. Golden Bee would stand to make $575,000, not including the cost of financing.

Posted by on Feb 13, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Mortgage News, Real Estate Investing, Remodel Projects | 1 comment

Kitchen Backsplashes

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It doesn’t take much to turn your kitchen backsplash into a stunning decorative feature, without having to spend millions.  Here are some ideas:

https://www.decorpad.com/photo.htm?photoId=126177

http://www.purewow.com/home/The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Backsplashes

https://www.pinterest.com/kitchenideas/backsplash-ideas/

Here is my tour of the local tile store:

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Remodel Projects, Vendors | 1 comment