September 23, 2016

5 Home Improvements to Sell Your Home Faster

Not all home improvements are meant to be enjoyed as a homeowner as much as they’ll benefit you as a seller. But Elite Homes, a homebuilder in Louisville, Kentucky, is here to show you some upgrades that may not be elaborate, but they could make or break the sale of your home. Here are five home improvements can increase the value of your home. 

1. Bathroom Remodel.  Bathroom upgrades can provide as much as almost 80% returns.  This includes new countertops, faucets, light fixtures and other simple, but essential features. No need to splurge on fancy fixtures, but instead keep things neutral and classic to appeal to all types of buyer tastes.

2. Landscaping. Your yard is the first thing people see, so any improvement will be valuable.  When deciding what upgrades to make first, start from your curb and work your way to the front door. This mimics what the buyer will see first as they arrive and begin making their initial judgments. Small year round plants add nice appeal, while larger trees and shrubs also help with erosion and water run off. 

3. Exterior Improvements.  New siding makes a huge difference aesthetically, but more importantly protects your home. Certain materials like fiber-cement provide much more return on investment than vinyl, for example, which can crack, rot or fade. Swapping in new energy efficient windows is also big for buyers as they make a home feel warmer and save significantly on utilities overtime.

4. Attic or Basement Conversion.  Whether your goal is to convert the space into a bedroom for guests/in-laws or an area to entertain and relax, some new dry wall, floors and lighting can reap significant return on investment. 

5. Build a Deck or Porch. While these areas provide potential buyers the chance to envision themselves enjoying family cookouts and gatherings, they also offer a nice, seamless transition from the inside out.  These additions typically recoup about 85% of costs and can make a huge difference in the eyes of buyers who appreciate the bonus living space a nice outdoor area can provide.

If you’re ready to move into an Elite home, then start thinking about what your buyers may want so that you can sell your home in the near future! Some of these improvements may not be as valuable to you as they are to the next owners, so it’s important to see how noticing the difference can be more of a benefit when you’re ready to move.

September 15, 2016

Goodbye to Summer and Goodbye to Junk!

If you’re putting off any major new home cleanup at your Elite Home until spring rolls around in Louisville, you’re just adding to your workload.  Spring cleaning is old news; the best time to start cleaning is right now.  As the kids head back to the great schools around our communities, take advantage of the time to welcome the new season with a fresh start. Say goodbye to summer by saying goodbye to the junk! 

Old Binders and Folders
Unless you have some binders and notebooks from the past that can survive another year, make a clean sweep of your used materials before you replace them.  A new school year is a great excuse for new supplies, so before you go shopping, look into various donation options such as Home Depot’s recycling program.

Summer ClothesAny summer clothes that you didn’t really wear this year or are pretty worn out will most likely get replaced by next summer anyway.  While prioritizing your fall wardrobe in your closet, make space for new clothing by tossing or donating old shirts, shorts, bathing suits, flip flops, etc.

Beach/Pool Toys
These toys get a lot of use throughout the summer, so if they’re beat up, throw them out.  Any old pool noodles, broken shovels, deflating rafts and rusty beach chairs are easy to throw in storage and forget about them until next year, so throw them out! 

Running Shoes
Most sneakers get about 400-600 miles of walking or running before they’re spent. Look for signs like worn-down tread, ripped toes or thin sock-liners, and make the call if it’s time for them to go. Check out various recycling programs that will gladly take an old pair of your hands in order to help others who need them.

Plastic Tupperware
After so many uses, plastic containers can get discolored or warped.  They can also be easy to over-collect to the point where they’re just cluttering your kitchen. 

AC Filter
Your AC has been running all summer, so now it’s time to check and replace the filters for the upcoming year. The hot summer days of heavy AC use are over, so swap them out now.

Outdated Electronics
You may be hesitant to get rid of that tangled mess of old headphone wires and chargers, but when’s the last time you’ve really used them? If it’s been more than 6 months, it’s time to let go.  Same with old iPods, phones and other electronics that you have since replaced with newer models.

Why wait for a fresh start by putting off the inevitable. As the season changes and everyone is getting back into their busy routines, there’s no better time to say goodbye to the junk. So what are you waiting for?

September 8, 2016

Prepare Your Home for This School Year

Summer quickly came to an end here in Louisville and now school is underway! It’s not always an easy transition to get back on schedule, but there are ways you can better prepare yourself- and your home- for the rest of the year.  Try a couple of these organization tips to make hectic mornings and busy after school schedules a little more manageable. 

Clothing Organizers. Cut in half the amount of time it takes to get ready in the morning by setting your kids up with clothing organizers.  These simple closet buddies prompt kids to figure out what they’re going to wear the night before and have it ready to go for the next day. No more running around for a missing sock or their favorite t-shirt minutes before the bus leaves.

Create a Calendar Corner. This area will be the central hub for the organization of all assignments, after school activities, sports, etc.  Use white boards or chalkboards for easy revisions and color code by family member for easier organization. 

Prep the Kitchen. Especially in the first couple weeks of the school year, premade meals are going to be a lifesaver as you get back into a routine.  Plan meals and healthy after school snacks before the week starts. Store the meals in the freezer and have the snacks in a designated spot, so they know where to go when hunger strikes!

Stock Up on Extra School Supplies. Pencils, pens and notebooks will all go missing or break throughout the year.  Take precautionary measures and make sure your home is fully equipped with the essentials for when that time comes. 

Create a Homework Station. Especially as kids get older, it’s important for them to have a designated space to study and do homework that isn’t the dining room table.  Create a distraction-free space in a bedroom, living room or an office with a desk or bookcases and no TV!

Sweet Surprises Stash. A simple surprise may be all it takes to make a tough assignment and stressful test seem not so bad. Keep candies, post-its and other little surprises on-hand to stick in their backpacks and lunchboxes when they have a big day ahead.  Nothing like an afternoon sweet or pick-me-up note to get them through the day!

The start of another school year doesn’t have to be a struggle if you take advantage of a couple of these home organization tips.  Your kids may not be ready to let go of summer and go back to school, but at least your house will be!

August 31, 2016

12 Ways to Lower Energy Bills AND be More Eco-friendly!

Saving energy doesn’t always mean getting new appliances, installing insulation, or replacing windows. Even if you live in a brand new, super efficient home, there are plenty of ways to lower your energy bills and protect the environment.

1.     Use your laundry machines wisely. Cutting costs on laundry is easy… Simply stop using heat whenever possible, pack the right amount of clothing into the machines, and do laundry at night.

2.     Use the dishwasher wisely. Utilize the same tactics as the laundry machines. Primarily, reduce the amount of heat you use, and load the machine as efficiently as possible.

3.     Replace air filters monthly. Dirty filters restrict airflow, causing the HVAC system to run longer and use more energy. And check your vents. If they’re closed, open them! Closing vents will actually raise your energy costs.

4.     Actually program the programmable thermostat! A lot of energy costs come from heating and cooling empty (or unused) spaces. Program the thermostat to warm or cool your home when you’re actually there, and to switch off when you’re away or asleep.

5.     Close the door. Close attic, basement, garage and exterior doors to prevent drafts and keep in heat or A/C.

6.     Unplug electronics.  Any electronic gizmo that stays plugged in when not in use is sucking up your money. Do a nightly sweep to make sure all your electric devices are turned off before you go to bed. It may be a pain, but the savings from simply turning everything off can add up quickly. 

7.     Consider your light bulbs. Turn off lights you aren’t using. Replace 60-watt light bulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs.

8.     Set the water heater at 120 degrees. Not only does heating your water too hot create the danger of scalding, it costs you cash. The EPA estimates that a heater set at 140 degrees or higher can waste $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses to keep water at that temperature, and more than $400 to bring fresh water up to that temperature.

9.     Take a shower instead of a bath. And install a low-flow aerator or flow restrictor on an existing showerhead.  By doing both, you’ll use less water.

10. Think before you cook. The stove or oven may not always be the best choice. Crockpots or a microwave oven may be more energy efficient.

11. Help your refrigerator/freezer work more efficiently. Leave room in front of a refrigerator/freezer to allow cold air to circulate better. Since frozen food stays cold longer than air, it’s good to keep the freezer full, but not packed.

12. Soften those rays. Closing the curtains and lowering the blinds on the sunny side of your house will help keep you cooler on hot days.

August 29, 2016

So it's Time to Make the Big Move!

The thought of owning your own home may have always seemed like something for the distant future. As one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, it’s easy to find reasons why the timing just isn’t quite right.  Despite the hesitation you may have, owning your own home can add incredible value not only in the future, but right now too! Here’s why it’s time to make the big move.

First Off, You CAN Afford It. In all but two of the top 100 biggest US housing markets was it cheaper to buy than rent a home. In fact, buying a home is currently about 23% cheaper for millennials than renting one.  Interest rates are nearing record lows, and homes are more affordable than ever. You may have felt like renting is a safer bet, but really, you’re getting a lot more mileage for your dollar when you buy. How?

You Build Equity. In a sense, paying your mortgage is a form of savings.  With each payment, a portion goes toward reducing the amount you owe, increasing your equity as a result.  It also increases as your home appreciates over time.  With sound equity, you can qualify for home equity loans, which can be used to help pay off medical, educational and other expenses you may have.

You Enjoy Added Tax Deductions. Unlike renting where your hard earned dollar simply disappears into your landlord’s pocket, your home expenses can actually reduce the amount you pay in income taxes.  Mortgage interest, property taxes and even certain closing costs may all be tax deductible, and in the first couple of years when interests are a big part of your mortgage payments, this could mean a lot more money back in your wallet.

You Can Build Strong Credit.  As long as you’re paying your monthly loan payments on time, you’re proving to other lenders that you’re low risk.  In the future, when other large purchases or expenses arise, you’ll have a better case for getting that loan.  It’s important to plan for the future, but remember you can’t predict everything…

Don’t Try and Time it Perfectly.  Waiting for the “right” season or timing isn’t a guarantee.  For starters, despite there typically being more homes on the market in the spring, competition can be lower in the fall and winter months. If you’re building a home, starting the process now can get you a nice spring time move in.  A fall start can also be an advantage because builders can work through cold and snow, while heavy rain is a different story. 
In terms of value, you can’t predict where the market will be in a couple of years, but you can do the research and ask the right questions to make a smart decision now.  And when you do, you’ll enjoy the greatest benefit of all…

Creating the Perfect Home for YOU. Say no more to staring at that horrible floral wallpaper or bright pink bathroom tile your landlord couldn’t care less about.  But more importantly, owning a home means you can create a place that reflects your own unique personality and needs.  By taking advantage of all the freedom homeownership offers, it’s not just an investment, but also something much more meaningful.