Remodeling just got more expensive

The recent round of new tariffs is likely to result in a 7-8 percent increase in remodeling costs according to industry experts.

Products such as lighting, countertops, laminates etc. are commonly produced in China and the new tariffs will increase from 10 percent to 25 percent.

The National Association of Home Builders anticipates that many remodeling projects will be put off or delayed. Many contractors say that projects are already being scaled back.

High tech upgrades on a budget

Smart homes are here to stay but if you live in an older home and have a tight budget there are still plenty of ways to add useful devices to your home.

  • Voice commands: Devices such as Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Home and Amazon Echo Dot can perform tasks such as playing music, making phone calls and searching the net.
  • Smart security camera: More than a convenience, today’s security cameras are more affordable and can deliver 360-degree coverage in HD.
  • WiFi smart power strip: A great way to control and charge your smart devices from phones to TVs to laptops.
  • Streaming sticks: Connected to your HDMI port on your smart TV, streaming sticks such as Roku let you watch movies and TV episodes as well as Netflix, YouTube and more.

When to renovate – and when not to

The prospect of renovating or remodeling a home can be exciting but it’s often wise to take a step back and consider it thoroughly. Sometimes it’s more prudent to wait and sometimes it’s wiser to postpone it indefinitely – if not completely.

First of all, consider the expense. It’s almost guaranteed that a big project will cost more than the the original estimate, especially if contractors are involved. If you’re looking to significantly increase the value of your home, make sure the return will justify the expense.

Secondly, projects are going to be disrupting. Just how long is it going to take to put in that new flooring? Of course, the complexity of the project will determine how long it will take, but take the time to consider how long life will be turned upside down.

Finally, it all comes down to: is it worth it? Unless the answer is an unequivocable YES then why not wait and consider the ramifications more thoroughly.

How to attract Millennials

Millennials are one of the largest markets these days and it’s important to know what they’re looking for and the best way to attract them.

  • Millennials prepare – and are in no hurry, Millennials grew up with the internet at their fingertips so it’s no surprise that they’re interested in all the information they can get before making a purchase. They research, they explore options and since many of them are currently living with their parents or a long-term share house they’re not going to rush into a decision.
  • Millennials like tech. Quality, integrated smart home appliances and internet connected cameras, locks, thermostats, lighting etc. are very important to this demographic, They’ll also count the outlets, check the ethernet connections, and, of course, make sure the house gets good cell service.
  • Energy efficiency is important. Since they lived through the recent recession and many are currently paying off sky-high student loads, millennials are always looking for ways to save money. At the same time, they’re also aware of the fragility of the environment and thus are more likely to be interested in home with good insulation, solar panels, efficient lighting etc.

Millennials abound and many are ready to buy; their approach is just different than their parents’.

The value of a roof replacement

When thinking of selling their home, a homeowner will add a coat of paint, spruce up the yard and even update some appliances. But there is potentially no greater impact to a home’s value than the roof.

  1. A faulty roof can be a deal killer. Because of the expense and hassle involved, most buyers will walk away from a potential deal because of roofing issues.
  2. Roofing problems can lower the value of a home. If problems come out in the buyer’s home inspection, roofing issues will result in either lowering the price of the home or replacing the roof prior to the sale going through.
  3. A new roof is a major selling point. Knowing that the roof is new – especially on an older point – alleviates a buyer’s worries and assures them they won’t have to worry about this problem for years to come.
  4. A new roof can enhance curb appeal. Certainly an old roof with shingles missing will hurt curb appeal – even online listings – but a new roof can make a home look well-cared for.

Where you can rent in the Bay Area on “only” $100,000

It’s no secret that rents in the Bay Area have risen dramatically since 2012. If you make $100,000 a year, you will be able to afford approximately $2,500 per month – and your options are extremely limited. Forget San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland (except for pockets near Oracle Arena), Hayward and San Leandro have a few zipcodes which might fit the bill, parts of Walnut Creek and Concord are affordable, and there’s always Pittsburg and Antioch.

You have to go to Solano County (and beyond) in Vallejo and parts of Fairfield where rents are in the $1,600 range. By comparison, the zipcode with the lowest rent in San Francisco (near San Francisco State) is $3,450.

Should you write a personal offer letter?

During a time of intense competition for homes for sale and bidding wars, many real estate agents urged their clients to write an “offer letter” explaining why they wanted that particular home. The idea was that the letter would let the potential buyer connect withthe seller on a more personal basis and, hopefully, influence the decision to sell in their favor.

Now some agents are arguing against the idea as it might limit the would-be buyer’s potential to negotiate or even lead to discrimination based on the information disclosed in the letter.

Home sales decline in San Francisco

San Francisco home sales dropped 13% during the first three months of 2019 compared with the same period last year. The median home price was $1.39 million at the end of March, down 1% from 2018.

Analysts attributed the decline to fewer homes over $2 million being sold. Home prices are expected to increase by 2% to 3% this year, down considerably from the double digit increases during the past few years,

A slow down in condo construction is also partly responsible for the decrease according to experts.

Home value appreciation slowing in major markets

According to the Zillow Home Market Real Estate Report annual home value growth slowed in more than 50 percent of the country’s largest housing markets in the last year. Seattle saw a drop from 12.4 percent to 5.0 percent from December 2017 to December 2018 while San Jose declined from 16.8 percent to 9.9 percent over the same time period.

Despite the drop in 19 of the top 35 metro markets, overall the nation’s home value appreciation was up 7.6 percent over the past year. More affordable Southern markets, such as Atlanta, showed an even greater increase.

Natural disasters caused $11 billion real estate damage in 2018

According to CoreLogic’s Natural Hazard Report there were 11 major natural disasters – floods, hurricanes, and wildfires in the United States in 2018 causing more than $11 billion in commercial and residential real estate losses.

Hurricane Florence caused widespread flood damage in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia with 85 percent of the losses not covered by insurance policies.

Wildfires burned the eighth highest number of acres in U.S. history. Eleven states (all in the West) had a least one wildfire that burned more than 50,000 acres with California and Oregon suffering the most.