7 Home Improvement Projects for $1,000 (or Less)

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: November 1, 2011

Americans still think buying a home is one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Here are some ways to increase your home’s value and comfort for less than $1,000.

We knew reports of the death of American home ownership were greatly exaggerated (nod to Mark Twain), and now we’ve got the numbers to prove it.
A just-released survey by the Meredith Corp., which publishes Better Homes and Gardens magazine, says the vast majority of people polled believe owning a home is a smart financial move and a source of pride.
Here are some results of the 2,500 people surveyed online:

  • 86% of home owners still feel owning a home is a good investment.
  • 85% feel “owning a home is one of their proudest accomplishments.”
  • 69% of Americans who don’t currently own a home agree with the statement, “No matter what happens in the U.S. housing market, owning a home is still an important goal in my life.”
  • 68% of Americans plan to spend money on their homes in the next six months, with roughly half (49%) expecting to pay up to $1,000.

A thousand bucks may not seem like a lot, but it goes long way toward improving the value and comfort of your home. Here are some projects we recommend:

1. Add a new entry door. Spruce up your curb appeal and save energy by upgrading your exterior door. Steel doors, which can mimic many types of wood, typically run for $400 at big-box stores and offer the strongest barrier against intruders.

2. Get organized. Decluttering and maximizing storage space are inexpensive ways to transform a home. Add space to kids’ rooms by installing platform or bunk beds ($400-$600); neaten piles of shoes with shoe organizers ($20), which can do double duty as catch-all organizers in family room closets and kitchen pantries; extend bookshelves to the ceiling, creating storage in otherwise dead space.

3. Save with a programmable thermostat. Switching from a manual to a programmable thermostat (less than $500) can save you up to $180 a year in energy costs. The latest models offer remote programming via the Internet.

4. Replace cabinet hardware. If you’ve got traditional knobs and pulls, try contemporary; change from staid to whimsical. Big-box retailers often have huge selections for budget prices. (10-pack for $20).

5. Update bathroom flooring. Give bathrooms a quick facelift by replacing old tile with vinyl flooring or ceramic tile, which can cost as little as $3 per square foot for material and installation.

6. Create luxury with a shower panel. Turn you bathroom into a spa with a  programmable shower panel with adjustable spray jets, fog-free mirror, and multifunctional shower head. Most systems easily attach to existing plumbing. Panels typically sell for $360.

7. Turn a mudroom into a garden room. Bring nature inside by recasting your drab mudroom into a flower-filled garden room. (If you already have a utility sink, you’re halfway there. If not, it will cost you $200 to $350 to tap into existing, nearby plumbing, and $80 for a plastic tub.) Repurpose an old wood table into a potting bench. And hang your basket collection from J-hooks attached to a forged iron curtain rod ($100).

What improvements have you made recently under $1,000? What are you planning to do in the next six months?

**Article from; thanks to NAR.


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New Construction in Montesano!!

Beautifully built home at Swiss Meadows in Montesano by Adam Laneer Construction.  There are two other homes also available.  Call for an appointment to see them!  They are priced right!


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Wordle: Northwest Blog

Many homeowners try to buy and sell at precisely the same exact moment – and that very rarely is the case.  The seller’s bank may take longer than expected to close, or the buyer’s bank is slow to sign off on the appraisal value.  In any event, if you are selling your home, before your purchase will be complete, know that it’s okay to ask of a “rent back” where you can stay in the property for as long as a month or more after the sale closes by agreement with the buyer to pay them rent on the property in the amount of their mortagage payment, taxes, and insurance for the time you remain in the home.

On the other hand, if you are buying after your sale closes, some sellers will allow you to move in before the closing on a similar arrangement – essentially a lease or early move-in arrangement.  They may ask you to sign a document waiving their liability for your belongings and anything else that goes wrong while you’re there, before closing – you will have to negotiate and decide what works for all involved.

There are very few things that we can count on in this crazy world of ours – but one thing is certain: the high probability that your escrow closing will be late!  Having a back up plan in place is just a great idea!  You may even need to consider saving extra cash in case you need to double payments for a couple months; or, consider renting a vacation home or hotel suite in the short term.

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What makes your listings unique so that your buyers will be attracted to them?  First of all, in your marketing, you must make a claim that is totally different from what the other agents are using.  Case in point:  If your listing is among those with the “stunning view” or “waterfront”, which will be on all the competitions’ flyers – then find some other unique thing to promote on your listing to get it noticed and sold faster!

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Hello world!

The following was written by my colleague at Greene Realty Group – and she is “spot on” with her ideas.  I want to share with you what she has to say:  Please read the following; and I invite your comments!
“Written by Missy Watts, Greene Realty Group
Are you pricing your home to sell, or are you pricing your home to stay?
So, you are ready to sell your home.  You know what you owe on it, and you know what your neighbor got for her home two years ago.  But what price will your home fetch in today’s market?  How much money will that leave you?  Will you be able to move to your next dream home/retire to the desert/downsize to a condo with the money you make on your sale?
The process starts with a market analysis.  You call your Realtor to set it up and as he/she previews the home you demonstrate the updates you have done during your ownership; the new furnace, the new hardwood floor, the faucets in the master bath.  Next comes the news you have been waiting for, what is fair market value for your home?  We usually give a tight range based upon comparable sales in the area…..the same information an appraiser will use once you get them home under contract with a buyer.  You, the seller, will most likely choose the high end of that range, feeling confident that there is that one magical buyer out there who will see the value of your house above other similar properties and write it up within days of it hitting the market.  Or, you have a price in mind that is even higher than the range given to you because you need to pay off loan balances and have enough to make the next move and you want to test out the market to see if someone will pay that amount. 
Well hold on for a moment and let’s discuss this strategy.  Testing the market at a higher price is seldom a good strategy in today’s market. 
Today you need to get ahead of the market if you want to sell your home.  You are competing with bank-owned homes, short sales and other distressed properties that are priced aggressively and sometimes bring multiple offers.  I know that your house may have new counter tops that cost $8000, but the identical home around the corner is bank owned and priced to sell quickly, and that comparable will be used by the appraiser who will appraise for your buyer.  That lower value is your new reality.
In Thurston County there have been 1,133 homes sold in the past six months.  The average market time for these sold homes was 90 days. The seller received an average of 97.3% of their asking price.  This is consistent with what we see “on the ground” in our everyday real estate practice.  Buyers will typically offer as low as 5% below list price (sometimes more) and will settle a bit above that.  What these numbers don’t tell us is what the sellers are paying toward the buyer’s closing costs.  Buyers have been bombarded by the media for the past year about what a fantastic time it is to be a buyer.  Sellers are in dire straights!  Offer low!  Ask for closing costs!  Ask the seller to throw in the tractor!  And they will ask for all this, and more. 
So that means that, as a seller you need to buffer your price to allow for that low offer and closing costs, right?  Yes and no.  You still want to be careful that you are pricing for activity.  I tell my clients that when their house hits the market, if they are not getting any showings it is because of price.  If they are getting showings and no offers, it is typically something else.  A home priced above competing homes is not going to get activity and you are just burning time on the market, your broker is spinning their wheels and spending money and time marketing a home that is really not priced to sell.  What often happens is that you fire broker #1 thinking that the home has not sold by some fault of theirs.  Then you hire broker #2 who says to you, “You have tested that higher price and it didn’t work for you…..drop the price and let’s see if that brings you some activity”.  Then the home sells.  We see this happen all the time.

I either want to be broker #2, or I want to set my sellers up for success the first time.  Trust that your broker knows the pricing and the comparable sales and is equipped to price your home correctly for the market. If you don’t like what your broker has to say you can always find a broker willing to list at your price and you will continue to live in that home.  If you are really ready to sell, listen to your broker and don’t miss a spring/summer market or become stale on the market at the wrong price.   Remember, our commission is based upon your sales price so we want you to realize the highest price for your home possible.  But, we also want to be successful.  Get real, and get sold!”