Making Home Improvements That Add Value, Avoiding Those That Don’t

You watch that TV channel. The one with all the stories about real estate and what improvements you can make to your home to increase its value. It all sounds great — simple even. Add a room, get better counters, slap down some hardwood, command top dollar at closing. Sorry to have to say this, but slow down. It’s not that simple.Do Home Improvements Really Increase the Sale ValueThe average return on home improvements will, of course, follow the ups and downs of the real estate market itself. In 2006, for instance, every dollar spent on improvements raised the value of the home by 76.1 cents. In 2007, the figure was 70 cents, and by 2008 it fell to just 67.3 cents.Looked at in terms of recouping the expense of the improvement itself, the ratio is rarely 1 to 1. You’re not going to get $20,000 more for a home you’ve put $20,000 into. There are, however, regional exceptions to that rule. In San Francisco, the addition of a deck, the number-one-rated improvement for that city, often returns more than 100 percent the cost of the work. This raises an extremely salient point.If you are making improvements specifically to increase the value of your home before selling it, talk to a real estate professional first and find out what upgrades the local market values. Even if you’re thinking of selling within five years, take the time to visit with a real estate agent. Some improvements are widely accepted as being of higher value than others, but each market may put a different emphasis on what constitutes “value” and what does not.Kitchen Renovations Are Always a WinnerIt’s difficult to go wrong with kitchen improvements since, for most people, especially families, that’s the room that is the heart of the house. At minimum, fresh paint, new or refreshed cabinets, and new flooring will go a long way. Higher end improvements might include granite counters or stainless steel appliances. On average, kitchen remodels return 75 percent of the amount invested.Bathroom Makeovers Are a Close SecondLet’s face it. No room in a house has the potential for a bigger “ick” factor than the bathroom. No one wants to buy someone else’s dirt. Even the cleanest tub in the world is going to look dirty with peeling, moldy grout or rust stains around the drain. Most of us never look twice at our own bathrooms, but will recoil in horror at one in a listing we’re viewing.At the very least, a bathroom in a home for sale should be so clean it sparkles. If there’s no way to get sparkle, then get new tile, a molded sink, marble vanity, and nice fixtures. So whatever you have to do to make the bathroom look pristine. You’ll easily see 75 to 80 percent of the cost coming back to you at the time of sale.New Emphasis on Green, Energy Efficient ImprovementsEspecially in Texas and the Southwest where brutal summer heat saddles residential customers with astronomical electric bills, green improvements to a home can significantly add value to a property. This could be anything from insulating doors and windows to a roof with a radiant barrier, high-performance insulation, and potentially alternative energy systems. The latter are most likely to be solar panels or small, residential wind turbines. At present, these sorts of modifications appeal to a highly select clientele, but such additions are likely to grow in acceptance and value rapidly over the next decade.Upgrades that Generally Don’t Add ValueNot all home upgrades are created equal. In picking things like counter tops, cabinets, and fixtures, try to match the overall “quality” or “range” of the home. Ultra high-quality upgrades in a fairly “normal” or “modest” home stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.Avoid adding rooms that make no sense in terms of the basic floor plan. Always preserve the flow from one room to the next, and don’t do things like adding on a family room only to cut off any view from the dining room. Worse yet, don’t add on a room that can only be accessed by going through the master bathroom! You get the idea. If it feels “tacked on” to you, the potential buyer will experience that same feeling to the tenth power.Finally, it’s best to avoid pools. Once seen as a premium enhancement to value, most buyers now perceive a pool as a home maintenance albatross. This is especially true in climates where the pool is only usable a few months out of the year. You might be able to make a case for a pool being a selling point in Florida. That likely won’t fly in South Dakota.Always Understand the Local Market for UpgradesThese are the kinds of factors that make a consultation with a real estate professional essential before you start knocking out walls. Find out which upgrades sell in your area and try to match a dollar figure to what “sell” means. Only undertake the improvements that make the most sense for your property and the ones that will largely pay for themselves when you sell the home.

Posted in Home Improvement | Tagged | Comments Off

The Do’s and Dont’s of Networking!

I just heard a horror story. A lady joined a networking company and proceeded to sign up all her relatives and friends, paying for their enrollments and packs to become business builders in her new venture. Another person joined multiple online programs, spending thousands of dollars trying to implement a online source for enrolling people in her business. Still others have spent thousands of dollars on website design hoping to attract thousands of people into their MLM business.What is wrong with these scenarios? Too many people get involved in Network Marketing or MLM’s not knowing what they are getting into or how to do the business. There is a right way and a wrong way to network. People need information and you are the tour guide. You do not have to twist someone’s arm to get involved in your business or buy them in or spend a fortune driving people to your website. Network marketing is a people business and you have to build a relationship with individuals first and grow your business from a know, like and trust standpoint. I have had multiple people in MLM companies call me and try to get me involved, telling me how simple it is and how I can make wheelbarrow loads of money by virtually doing very little. Just bring in two people, sit back and wait to see your organization ‘EXPLODE’. Nothing could be further from the truth. Have you ever heard people refer to Network Marketing or MLM’s as a pyramid or Get Rich schemes? I hear that all the time. Why do we get a bum rap from these type of people? There are a couple of very good reasons.1. They have been misinformed by other people.
2. They have not done their due diligence.
3. GREED.Lets examine each of these scenarios and see what we can learn.1. They have been misinformed by other people.Throughout the years I have been around MLM marketing. I have heard the pros and cons of Networking and have come to the conclusion that in every industry there are horror stories to tell, there are good and bad companies out there. Would you just let anyone paint your house or fix your car? Most of us rely on the good reputation of a company before we embark on their services. We would also ask for references or find out from others if they are reputable or check with the Better Business Bureau about their reputation. We do not categorize every painter and every car repair service as bad because some are. So why do we do that with MLM companies? There are very legitimate companies in the Network Marketing field that provide excellent products and services at very reasonable prices, products and services that cannot be just purchased anywhere. When someone has a bad experience they love to tell others and it spreads like wildfire and most often the facts are twisted and the story is so blown out of proportion that it becomes a juicy piece of gossip for all who will listen and not taking the time to examine the facts.2. THEY HAVE NOT DONE THEIR DUE DILIGENCE.You are very ill. You need advice on how to best treat your illness. Your best friend has a son who has just started medical college. You feel because he is in medical college you can get some FREE advice. After all he must know what he is talking about because he is starting medical college. Wrong! He needs to do his due diligence before he is qualified to give advice on anything. That will take years of training and education before he becomes a reputable doctor with the qualifications to treat you.Network Marketing or MLM is no different. It is very important to get properly trained to effectively network and share your opportunity with others. Education is an ongoing learning process and because the world is constantly changing, we need to continue to update our knowledge. When you are looking for a network company to join make sure you have proper sponsorship. Talk with the person who wants to enroll you, ask them questions, find out how active they are in the business, how capable they are of training you and what their level of commitment is to helping you. I would even suggest that you ask for a three-way into their upline so they can edify your potential sponsor and give you the confidence you need to become a part of his or her team. A qualified sponsor will plug you into the company’s system and teach you to duplicate what they do. They will also recommend you reading books and listening to CD’s and plugging into conference calls and attending Company events. I read or listen to CD’s and videos every day and continually work to fine tune my networking skills. It is a very competitive world out there and everyone needs to keep up with the newest and most effective way of building their business.About the Company: You need to investigate the integrity of the Company you want to join. Check with the Better Business Bureau of your community. Listen to some webinars before you join. What product are they selling? How consumable a product is it? What is the cost to get started and are you getting value for your investment? How lucrative is the pay plan? Check out the compensation plan very thoroughly. After all you want to know how much money you can make and how long it will take to make the money you want to make. All of these things are so very important if you want to be successful at what you do. Do not jump into anything on the advice of a well meaning friend. Do your Due Diligence and you will be ready to embark on a Networking career that will reward you for the work you do and provide you with residual income that will continue to grow and pay you for a life time.3. GREED!Buyer Beware! If it sounds too good to be true it usually is too good to be true. I constantly get emails in my email box touting the newest and greatest opportunity that will net you thousands in such a short period of time and make you a millionaire at the blink of an eye. Do not get sucked into such an opportunity. You are asking for trouble. Opportunists are a dime a dozen and these are the types of businesses that scam people out of their hard earned money and give Networking a very bad name. Especially in this soft economy people are desperate for find ways to keep the wolf away from the door and are very vulnerable to smooth talking people who promise the moon and give nothing in return but heartache and an empty wallet. Remember you must check out the integrity of the company, the viability of the product, the reliability of the person introducing the opportunity to you and the pay plan of the company. You also must be prepared to dedicate yourself to building your business for a period of two to three years, committing to working hard and continually educating yourself as you grow your business.Are you prepared to meet the challenge of becoming a successful network marketer? Then the world of Network Marketing is your playing field. There are many viable companies out there looking for you. Do your due diligence and you will find the right company for you.

Posted in Education | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

How to Find Cheap Flights to Europe?

So you want to visit Europe. Well you do not have to spend a fortune on your dream vacation. Flying to Europe can be as inexpensive as flying almost anywhere else if you keep a few tips in mind.First of all if the time of year is not important to you, try and pick a time that is more off season. You will find flights to Europe much cheaper during the winter months than you will during the summer. If you are concerned about sight seeing during this time don’t. There is actually more to do there during the fall and winter than there is during the summer with all of the wine festivals, and the skiing and so on.The first stop should always be your local travel agent when you are looking for good cheap flights to Europe. These travel agents work pretty much the same way as the internet travel sites. However your local travel agent can personalize your flight more to your liking. Make sure to compare prices at all of your big travel websites such as Travelocity and Orbitz. You will find that their discounts will usually be much cheaper than what you can get on your own. Remember to have all of your information such as dates and numbers ready so that you can fill in the forms. If you are a student, check with the airlines and see if they have any special student discounts. Almost every city that has a large college will have agencies that are set up just to handle special student discounts. If you are planning on traveling with a group, make sure you ask about group discounts. Most airlines will give group discounts, however, they aren’t going to offer these cheaper prices unless you ask for them.Another way to get cheap flights to Europe is get with a chartered flight. Now most chartered flights will offer the full package. You will get a hotel, meals, sight seeing trips and more. But, if you are only interested in the flight, they will usually discount the package and you will end up with a cheap flight. You can find these charter agencies in most any city in the world.When planning your trip look for cheaper flights into other cities or even countries. Traveling within Europe is very inexpensive by train. So if you find, for instance, that it is much cheaper to fly into Amsterdam that to Frankfurt and your final destination is going to be Frankfurt, you can save hundreds of dollars taking the train the rest of the way. Not only will this save you a lot of money, but it will also make the trip a lot more fun. Riding the trains in Europe is not like riding them in the U.S. You will meet some very interesting people and have a great time in the process.So as you can see, getting cheap flights to Europe is not a difficult task at all. All it takes is a little bit of research and planning.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off