Owning a home has been a strong ingredient of the American dream for generations.  Besides providing shelter, privacy, and the psychological rewards of ownership, housing is the most tax-favored and politically protected investment around.  Homeowners receive tax deductions for interest on mortgage and property taxes.  And, starting in 1977, sellers have been able to pocket huge gains tax-free without rolling them over in a new dwelling.

If you're an empty-nester or planning to retire soon, there may never be a better time to sell and trade down to a smaller house.  Baby-boomers are looking to sell and move into condos,  townhomes and less labor-intensive dwellings.  Thanks to a 1997 federal tax law, up to $500,000 of any gain on a house sale is tax-free for married couples ($250,000 for single filers.)

And setting the correct price is key to selling your home quickly and profitably.  The longer a house sits on the market, the more it is stigmatized in the minds of buyers.


On colors to paint your home:  stick with neutrals since they don't date themselves.

On all projects:  Those that add square footage to bring a house up to - but not beyond - community norms pay off the most.  Those that add square footage to your house are those most likely to add value - as long as they bring your house up to the standard of your area.  Those that update styles may make the house sell more quickly, but only if you sell while it still IS in style,  Projects that take priority are those that will protect your home from deterioration and damage; roof replacement, and plumbing, and electrical upgrades.  Although such improvements don't do much to beautify your home, they will help preserve its value.

Don't undertake a big-ticket remodeling project if you plan on moving within a year.  You won't have time to enjoy it, and new owners will most likely want to do something different.  Instead, go for maintenance and repairs,  clear clutter, and paint.


2004 Cost vs. Value Report
How much of the cost of a remodeling project can be recovered at resale?Compare the cost-to-construct for a selection of common remodeling projects with the added value those projects bring at resale in 2004.

Minor Kitchen Remodel

Project Description - Minor
In a functional but dated 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops, refinish existing cabinets, and install new energy-efficient wall oven and cooktop, laminate countertops, mid-priced sink and faucet, wall covering, and resilient flooring. Repaint. Job includes new raised-panel wood doors on cabinets.


Market
Job Cost
Resale Value
Cost Recouped
2004 National Averages
15,273
14,195
92.9%
Orlando, Fl Average
14,160
9,781
69.1%

Major Kitchen Remodel/Mid-Range

Project Description - Mid-Range
Update an outmoded 200-square-foot kitchen with design and installation of a functional layout of new cabinets, laminate countertops, standard double-tub stainless-steel sink with standard single-lever faucet. Include energy efficient wall oven, cooktop, ventilation system, built-in microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposer, and custom lighting. Add new resilient floor. Finish with painted walls, trim, and ceiling. Include 30 linear feet of semi-custom grade wood cabinets, including a 3-by-5-foot island.


Market
Job Cost
Resale Value
Cost Recouped
2004 National Averages
42,660
33,890
79.4%
Orlando, Fl Average
39,347
23,875
60.7%

Major Kitchen Remodel/Upscale

Project Description - Upscale
Update an outmoded 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of top-of-the-line custom cherry cabinets, stone countertops, and imported ceramic tile back-splash. Include built-in refrigerator, 36-inch commercial grade range and vent hood; built-in warming drawer, trash compactor, built-in combination microwave and convection oven; and dishwasher. Install high-end undermount sink with designer faucets, garbage disposer, and built-in water filtration system. Add new general and task lighting including low-voltage under-cabinet lights. Install cork flooring, cherry trim. Include a 3-by-5-foot island.


Market
Job Cost
Resale Value
Cost Recouped
2004 National Averages
75,206
60,367
80.3%
Orlando, Fl Average
69,644
44,063
63.3%

Bathroom Remodel

Project Description - Mid-Range
Update an existing bathroom that is at least 25 years old. Replace all fixtures to include standard-sized tub with ceramic tile surround; toilet; solid-surface vanity counter with integral double sink; recessed medicine cabinet; ceramic tile floor; vinyl wallpaper.


Project Description - Upscale
Expand an existing 5-by-7-foot bathroom to 9-by-9-foot within existing house footprint. Add another window bringing total glazing area to 30 square feet. Relocate and replace tub with custom dual 4-by-6-foot shower with top-of-line fittings and full-body wash shower wall, tile and glass block surround. Relocate the toilet into a partitioned area and replace it with one-piece color unit. Add bidet. Add stone tops in custom vanity cabinet with twin designer sinks. Add linen/towel storage closet. Tile floor, papered walls, hardwood trim. Add general and spot lighting. Add humidistat-controlled exhaust fan.


Market
Job Cost
Resale Value
Cost Recouped
2004 National Averages - MidRange
9,861
8,887
90.1%
Orlando, Fl Average
8,817
5,713
64.8%

2004 National Averages - Upscale
25,273
21,629
85.6%
Orlando, Fl Average
22,412
20,135
89.8%

Bathroom Addition

Project Description - Mid-Range
Add a full 6-by-8-foot bath to a house with one or one-and-a-half baths. Locate near bedrooms over a crawl space. Include cultured-marble vanity top, molded sink, standard tub/shower with ceramic tile surround, low-profile toilet, general and spot lighting, mirrored medicine cabinet, linen storage, vinyl wallpaper, and ceramic tile floor.


Project Description - Upscale
Add a new 9-by-9-foot master bath to existing master bedroom over a crawl space. Include a 4-by-4-foot neo-angle shower with ceramic tile walls, recessed shower caddy, body spray fixtures, and frameless enclosure. Include a whirlpool tub that matches the acrylic shower pan; solid-surface countertop with two integral sinks; two mirrored medicine cabinets lighted by individual sconces; a compartmentalized commode area with one-piece toilet; and a humidistat-controlled exhaust fixture. Use larger matching ceramic tiles on the floor, laid on the diagonal with ceramic tile base. Add general and spot lighting including waterproof shower fixture. Cabinetry shall include a custom drawer base and optional wall cabinets for a built-in look. Heated floor and heated towel bars.


Market
Job Cost
Resale Value
Cost Recouped
2004 National Averages - MidRange
21,087
18,226
86.4%
Orlando, Fl Average
17,955
12,935
72.0%

2004 National Averages - Upscale
41,587
33,747
81.1%
Orlando, Fl Average
37,206
23,500
63.2%

Deck Addition

Project Description
Add a 16-by-20-foot deck using pressure-treated SYP joists supported by 4-by-4 posts set into concrete footings. Install composite deck material in a simple linear pattern. Include a built-in bench and planter of the same decking material. Include stairs, assuming three steps to grade. Provide a complete railing system using either a matching system made of the same composite as the decking material or a compatible vinyl system.


Market
Job Cost
Resale Value
Cost Recouped
2004 National Averages
6,917
6,000
86.7%
Orlando, Fl Average
6,009
4,594
76.4%

Siding Replacement

Project Description
Replace 1,250 square feet of existing siding with new vinyl siding, including all trim.


Market
Job Cost
Resale Value
Cost Recouped
2004 National Averages
6,946
6,445
92.8%
Orlando, Fl Average
6,543
8,994
137.5%

When Selling a Home

When selling your home there are no guarantees that a buyer will simply walk through the front door. In many cases you may have to bring your home to the buyer. Effective marketing will help ensure that your property receives maximum exposure to attract a ready, willing and able buyer. The appearance of your home, a buyer's first impressions, and other considerations can also affect the sale of your property. Be sure to explore tips for increasing your home's value. Have you considered that home prices in your neighborhood and the value of your property are also factors used for pricing your home?

Increasing The Value of Your House

When you're preparing your house for sale, remember the importance of first impressions. The market isn't the only factor that influences whether you get your asking price. Appearance and overall condition play a major role. Here are some easy things you can do to make your home more appealing to buyers. It is estimated that more than half the houses are sold before the buyers even get out of their cars. So stand across the street from your house and review its curb appeal.



Outside:

  • Sweep front walkway.
  • Remove newspapers, bikes and toys.
  • Park extra cars away from the property.
  • Trim back the shrubs.
  • Apply fresh, clean paint throughout.
  • Clean windows and window coverings throughout.
  • Keep pet areas clean.
  • Keep plumbing and all appliances in working order.
  • Maintain all sealant (window, tub, shower, sink, etc.) in good condition.
  • Make sure roof and gutters are in good condition. Mow the lawn more frequently and plant flowers.


Inside:

  • Kitchen and bathroom should shine.
  • Quick once-over with the vacuum; carpets should be clean.
  • Place fresh flowers in the main rooms.
  • Put dishes away, unless setting a formal display for decoration.
  • Make beds and put all clothes away.
  • Enhance the spaciousness of each room.
  • Open drapes and turn on lights for a brighter feel.
  • Straighten closets.
  • Put toys away.
  • Turn off television.
  • Play soft music on the radio/stereo.
  • Keep pets out of the way and pet areas clean and odor-free.
  • Secure jewelry, cash, prescription medication and other valuables.


Important Reminders

  • Potential buyers usually feel more comfortable if the owners are not present.
  • If people unaccompanied by an agent request to see your property, please refer them to your real estate professional for an appointment.
  • eave a number where you can be reached if you are leaving town, even for a weekend.
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407-207-5550


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