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Credit Crisis and Your Home - Don't Move, Improve!

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Posted by Natasha Kennedy on April 23, 2010, 4:33 pm
The financial crisis of 2008 has hit potential home movers badly,
since house prices have fallen, foreclosures have risen and the market
itself has stalled. So unless you are a forced house seller perhaps
you should think again. In fact if you have to move now you should
consider renting somewhere new and simultaneously renting out the
current home you own, at least until markets show sign of recovery.
A good alternative to moving is improving the house you are in. Indeed
if you calculate the cost of a move, (removals firms, storage costs,
and taxes on property transactions) and factor in the cost of
customising your new home then suddenly you will find a sizable budget
that will allow you to improve the home you are in. If you do the
correct improvements you will also improve the attractiveness to
buyers and the market value ready for a revitalised property market.
So what should you do?
Top "Dos"
Add space: an extra room is a valuable asset. Consider a loft
conversion to create an extra bedroom with ensuite bathroom. Or extend
the property and and create a combined large kitchen/informal dining
area/family room as these are proving very popular with 21st century
home owner. In contrast remodelling your basement would only be of
value if your property is in an area in which space is at a premium -
e.g dense urban area. A properly designed property extension with well
thought out natural lighting and access is probably the single change
that will add the greatest value to your property, often in excess of
Optimise existing space: improve storage facilities; capitalise on
poorly used space such as the void under the staircase. Board out the
loft of the house or garage to use as seasonal storage. Put up high
quality racking & shelving in the garage from floor to ceiling and
get stuff off the floor so you can once again get your car in!
Add ensuite bathroom facilities: many buyers are attracted if each
major bedroom has its own bathing facilities - typically toilet,
shower and sink. It may seem overkill to invest in this but houses
with just a single family bathroom are at a disadvantage. But don't
over do it if you don't have the space, otherwise your home might end
up looking like a bed and breakfast hotel or guest house.
Go green: certain aspects of energy efficiency are expected, such as
thermal insulation in roofs and walls but the jury is still out on
whether solar heating or solar-electric systems or grey water systems
attract or deter buyers. There is no doubt that public and government
attitudes are changing and if you can make your home energy efficient
(especially if you can get financial grants or tax breaks to help the
capital investment) then it makes sense to do so.
Stay legal: If you are doing serious improvements make sure work
complies with building codes and you have planning permission and
relevant certificates. Otherwise, even if everything looks good, the
eventual sale may fall at the legal hurdle if you cannot find
appropriate documentation.
Off road parking; particularly valuable in urban areas, even if this
results in the destruction and paving over of the small front garden.
Kitchen improvement. In many modern homes the formal dining room no
longer exists or is hardly used. As a result the kitchen has become
the hub of the house, so an attractive and functional kitchen
definitely enhances property and can add up to 10% value to the sale
Top "Don't Dos"
Extreme customisation; this means making your home so unique and
personalised that it will appeal to a real minority of people (perhaps
a minority of one i.e. you). Two recent examples that gained great
publicity in the press were a conventional apartment completely
replicating the bridge and other parts of the Star Trek USS Voyager in
Hinckley, England and a semi-detached suburban home in Ipswich,
England converted internally into the insides of an ancient Egyptian
temple! Both attracted column inches not buyers.
Poor quality workmanship is a real no-no! So unless you know what you
are doing, employ professionals for anything serious (electrical or
plumbing) or anything structural.
Pools, hot tubs and decking. Unless you live in a pool friendly
climate they are seen as a liability by most buyers, who will be put
off by the effort needed to keep it looking good and by the cost of
heating the water. Hot tubs on garden decking are a less costly no-no
and in due course will be revealed as a fad of the 1990s.
Following the latest design trends: sadly as fast as new cutting edge
trends appear, they disappear, leaving your house trapped in a
particular time warp. It is a dull but inevitable truth that property
dressed in neutral inoffensive decor is more likely to sell since it
is least like to offend buyers.
And finally
Follow these tips to improve your own lifestyle without the stress of
a home move. And by the time the housing market recovers you should
have a more valuable asset on your hands.

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