Home Price Appreciation
How can I improve the value of my property?
Outside of a homeowner's control, the biggest factor is market conditions. Other important issues are:
condition of the property
specific home improvements
neighborhood stability and safety
The greatest rise in home prices occurs when the economy is strong and the number of home sales is increasing.
Specific home improvements can increase the value above the cost of the improvements.
remodeled bathroom returns, 81 percent to the owner
bathroom addition, 89 percent
master bedroom suite, 82 percent
Remember, quality pays. Well-planned and well-executed remodeling jobs are a good investment while bad work seldom enhances value or livability.
The safety and security of a neighborhood can affect property values, too.
If you live in a high-crime area, an organized community watch program not only will lower the crime rate but give home values a boost, too.
How can I increase the value of my property?
Specific home improvements can increase your property value above the cost of the improvements themselves,
such as remodeling a kitchen, adding a bathroom, finishing a basement or upgrading landscaping.
Just be sure that quality pays with remodeling. A bad remodeling job will do little to boost your property value.
If you live in a high-crime area, an organized community watch program not only will lower the crime rate but can enhance property values, too.
It also helps to live in an area where other homeowners are upgrading their homes, which can help pull up your property value, too.
The bottom line is to measure the cost of any improvements you want to make against the overall values in your neighborhood.
If you over improve for the neighborhood, you may not necessarily recover your costs or boost your property value significantly.
What repairs should I make before putting a home on the market?
If you want to get top dollar for your property, you probably need to make all minor repairs and selected major repairs before going on the market.
Nearly all purchase contracts include an inspection clause, a buyer contingency that allows a buyer to back out if numerous defects are found or negotiate their repair.
The trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs, especially if there are few houses on the market but many buyers willing to buy at almost any price.
On the other hand, making such repairs may be the only way to sell your house in a down market.
How do I find out how much my home is worth?
A comparative market analysis and an appraisal are the standard methods for determining a home's value.
Your real estate agent will be able to provide a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on comparable sales in the neighborhood.
What are the differences between market value and appraised value?
The appraised value of a house is a certified appraiser's opinion of the worth of a home at a given point in time.
Lenders require appraisals as part of the loan application process; fees range from $200 to $300.
Market value is what price the house will bring at a given point in time.
A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker.
Either an appraisal or a comparative market analysis is the most accurate way to determine what your home is worth.
Condos and Home Associations
Are condos a good investment?
Condominiums have held their value as an investment despite economic downturns and problems with some associations.
In fact, condos have appreciated more in the past few years than when they first came on the scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, experts say.
While there are lots of reports about homeowners association disputes and construction-defect problems, the industry has worked hard to turn its image around.
Elected volunteers who serve on association boards are better trained at handling complex budget and legal issues, for example,
while many boards go to great lengths to avoid the kind of protracted and expensive litigation that has hurt resale value in the past.
Meanwhile, changing demographics are making condominiums more attractive investments for single homebuyers, empty nesters and first-time buyers in expensive markets.
What kinds of rules and regulations do Associations regulate?
Typical covenants, codes and restrictions (CC&Rs), which govern condo associations, give the board authority to make and enforce reasonable rules
for the use of common property. But that would not apply to interior spaces owned by smokers themselves.
A homeowners association's board of directors can restrict smoking if it applies to indoor common spaces such as hallways or recreation rooms.
Outdoor spaces are a different story, say legal experts.
Any restriction would probably hinge on local laws
(i.e. if a city banned smoking outdoors, a homeowners association probably could restrict smoking in its outdoor spaces).
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act does not require strictly residential apartments and single-family homes to be made accessible.
But all new construction of public accommodations or commercial projects (such as a government building or a shopping mall) must be accessible.
New multi-family construction also falls into this category.
In all states, the Federal Fair Housing Act provides protection against discrimination for people with physical or mental disabilities.
Discrimination includes the refusal to make reasonable modifications to buildings that aren't accessible to the disabled.
What fees can I expect to pay a home association?
Condominium owners pay a fee, usually monthly, to the homeowner's association to cover the costs of managing and maintaining all common areas.
In addition, you may pay extra assessments for major maintenance projects.
In general these must be voted on by the association board or in some cases by all of the owners.
The particular cost of monthly fees and the rules regarding special assessments vary from association to association.
When considering a condominium, it's a good idea to thoroughly research the fees and bylaws of the condo association.