Homeowner’s Insurance in Delaware

Homeowner’s Insurance in Delaware

Courtney Aubrecht, freshome.com

You’ve done it. You’ve researched, reviewed, and assessed your next dream home and found the perfect match.

Beyond purchasing your new home, the next task to cross off the to-do list is finding the perfect homeowner’s insurance policy to protect it. In the event of an accident, having your home and your possessions covered will be the difference between a quick recovery and a very long struggle.

This doesn’t necessarily mean homeowner’s insurance is easy to understand, however. Assessing the value of your home or your property can be nerve-wracking since you want to make sure everything is covered without spending more money than is necessary. After all, at the core of this decision is protecting one of the biggest investments of your life.

Here at Freshome.com, we have learned as much as we can about the best homeowner’s insurance in Delaware so you can make an informed decision. We found quotes for the top insurance companies in the state, assessed the customer satisfaction and financial ratings of others providers, explained what you need to know when you’re ready to start looking for quotes, and, hopefully, answered all the questions you may have about homeowner’s insurance.

The Best Homeowners Insurance in Delaware

We found quotes from the top three recommended insurance companies to give you a general idea of what to expect. In the perspective of Michael Doyle, a real estate agent for Century 21 Emerald, the average amount of coverage that his clients deal with is generally between $300,000 and $400,000. Keeping within this average, we found a colonial-style home with three bedrooms and two baths that we used to gather quotes from Amica, Liberty Mutual, and State Farm.

Each quote was for an HO3 policy, which is the most commonly used — and highly recommended — homeowner’s insurance policy. The benefit of an HO3 policy is that it covers the losses from the standard 17 perils (fire, lightning, theft, vandalism, and others) as well as virtually anything else you can imagine, like the water stains on your ceiling from condensation in your attic or damage to draperies that froze to your window.

Beyond the three quotes we gathered, we analyzed other standout insurance companies that met a specific criteria of a J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction rating of three stars or more and an A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating of B+ or higher. We also listed their financial strength rating from Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s Global.

What You Should Know Before Getting a Quote

Getting a quote is the first hurdle in finding the best homeowner’s insurance policy. Now that you know what companies you’d like to get quotes from, it’s time to learn a little more about homeowner’s insurance and what information you’ll need when contacting an insurance agent.

Homeowner’s insurance protects both your physical house as well as your personal possessions in it, including appliances, furniture, and clothing. In addition, it provides liability coverage should someone on your property be injured. In Delaware, a general homeowner’s insurance policy is sometimes required in order to get a mortgage or even purchase a house.

Determining what coverage you need depends on a number of factors. Sometimes it may feel difficult to find the best policies to safeguard your home, but with enough time, research, and patience you can rest assured that the pieces will fall into place.

The best strategy is to shop around, and sometimes your real estate agent may be the best resource for this. We spoke with Michael Kelczewski of Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. He explained, “I try to stay within a real estate scope and connect clients with insurance brokers to recommend various policies…A main tenant of a successful agent is a professional network.”

Some companies may offer exclusive benefits, deals, and promotions that may be beneficial and save you some money. By shopping around, you can gather these special features and determine if they work for you. At the root of it all, though, is making sure your home and possessions are completely covered.

What To Know While Gathering Quotes
Homeowner’s insurance will cover the assessed value of your home, or the amount of money it will take to repair or rebuild the structure should it be damaged or destroyed. It is important to know that this number may be different from the market value of your home or what you bought it for.

If you do not have a recent assessment of your home, you can determine its assessed value by — logically — having it assessed. This can incur a hefty fee, however. Fortunately, most insurance agents will be able to determine the value of your home by reviewing past tax records or by considering the following:

  • Construction materials used
  • Total square feet of the building
  • Number and types of rooms
  • Type and style of garage or carport
  • Any special features of the home, such as pools or decks

As we mentioned earlier, another significant coverage homeowner’s insurance provides is the replacement of your possessions. After you have determined the replacement cost of your house, the next step will be itemizing your possessions. The best strategy for cataloging your possessions? Make a home inventory, complete with photographs or videos of all that you own.

A home inventory will allow you to estimate the value and replacement costs of your property, ensuring you will have sufficient coverage. It will also create a record of what possessions you had before disaster struck so you can provide your insurance company with a comprehensive list of what needs to be replaced.

To do this, first make a list that contains every piece of furniture, every appliance, and every important item for every room of your home. Included in this list should be artwork, window blinds, dishes and silverware, electronics, and even the number of CDs and DVDs you have.

For clothing, count every article of clothing. Make sure you don’t forget about your basement, attic, or garage. You can use this handy blank home inventory form from the Delaware’s Department of Insurance to keep track of all your possessions. Make sure you update it once a year to ensure you’re still receiving adequate coverage.

Typical insurance policies cover personal property between 50 and 70 percent of the policy limit. This means if your policy is worth $100,000, then $50,000–$70,000 will be given to cover any lost possessions. Additional coverage may be purchased, and limits do exist for valuable possessions such as jewelry, computers, and firearms. See the FAQs below to get more information.

What else is included in my homeowner’s insurance policy?
Another inclusion is liability which covers medical expenses and other losses should someone injure themselves on your property. It may also cover injuries in accidents (beyond auto accidents) caused by you, a family member, or even a pet when you are away from home. This can include accidentally hitting a pedestrian on your bike or if your dog bites someone at the park.

There are two types of coverages under the liability section: personal liability coverage and medical payments coverage. The former pays for any damages to other people or their possessions while on or passing through your property. Should you be sued, this section of your policy may cover the cost of litigation. Note that this liability coverage only applies if it has been determined that the cause of injury or damage was brought about by negligence.

For medical payment coverage, your insurance will typically pay the medical bills of others who were injured either on your property or by you, a family member, a pet, or a household employee. Payments will typically last no more than three years.

The coverage amounts for both of these sections will be displayed when you get a quote. When you purchase your insurance, review the liability coverage on your policy to understand what it covers and what it does not. Larger amounts of liability coverage is typically available for purchase at a relatively low cost.

Finally, it is also important to consider temporary living expenses should your property be damaged or destroyed. While it is being repaired or rebuilt, your policy should cover some, if not all, of the costs for you and your family to temporarily relocate. Make sure you review this section in your policy as well.

Ultimately, “you get what you pay for,” said Doyle. “You can save $200 on your insurance but if you get a $10,000 claim and your insurance doesn’t pay out, it’ll take years to hit even.”

Why are Delaware’s rates so low?

Looking back at the quotes provided earlier in this article, you may be wondering how Delaware stacks up compared to other states in the country. Considering the quotes earlier in this article, the best homeowner’s insurance in Delaware actually sounds like a pretty good deal compared to the rest of the country.

It’s true. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Delaware has one of the lowest premium rates compared to other states. The average annual premium for Delaware residents is $709, while the national average is $1,096.

In the eyes of Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart, the fact that Delaware offers the seventh lowest homeowner’s insurance rates in the U.S. (based off of the most recent data in 2013) is a mark of honor for residents.

It does raise the question: why are insurance rates for Delaware so low? There are a number of reasons. Lower premiums are a result of increased safety measures taken in your home, including burglar alarms, modernized electrical or water systems, and fire sprinklers or extinguishers. Additionally, most coverage holders can find discounts when they bundle their home, auto, and other insurances under one company. A higher deductible will result in lower premiums as well.

Another reason why Delaware has maintained such a low premium rate is because of a statewide ban on “price optimization,” as of 2015. When implementing price optimization, insurance companies determine an individual’s premium not only based on determined risk, but also on consumer behavior. The company will break down a number of “non-risk factors” — such as a customer’s likelihood to renew coverage or the most a customer will pay before seeking out coverage elsewhere — in order to set rates, something that the state of Delaware has logically deemed unlawful and discriminatory.

FAQs

What are common coverage gaps?
Common coverage gaps for homeowner’s insurance in Delaware include flood insurance and coverage to replace valuable personal items. Additionally, if you are running a business or provide day care services out of your home, additional liability coverages may be needed in order to remain lawful.

Another add-on to include with your premium is the relatively new Identity Fraud Expense Coverage. This coverage, for an extra cost, will provide financial support for you or a family member if you are a victim of identity fraud. Expenses covered may include long-distance telephone calls to creditors, notary service costs, and the cost of making copies of documents.

The best strategy is to have an open and honest conversation with your insurance agent to find the best coverage for your needs.

What is valuable possessions coverage?
There is usually a limit under most policies that determines how much you will be reimbursed for certain kinds of items, including jewelry, fine arts, camera equipment, coin or stamp collections, computer equipment, and satellite dishes. The typical coverage limits for these items are as follows:

  • $1,000 for loss by theft of jewelry, watches, or furs
  • $200 on money and coins
  • $1,000 on stamps, tickets, securities (stocks), deeds, and passports
  • $1,000 for trailers (not used for watercraft)
  • $2,000 for loss by theft of guns and firearms
  • $2,500 for loss by theft of silverware
  • $5,000 for computer equipment

These numbers are average, so it will be important for you to talk with your insurance agent or review your policy to know the exact amount of coverage you have for these items. If this coverage does not seem satisfactory, speak to your insurance agent to discuss adjustments.

What about flood insurance?
Standard homeowner’s insurance does not come with protection against floods. Some flood insurance companies provide their own flood coverage, however, more often than not the flood insurance you’ll purchase is backed under the National Flood Insurance Program through the U.S. federal government.

The premiums for coverage are determined by your home’s risk of flooding as well as the age and construction of the home, but the average annual premium is $438, nationally.

There are excellent tools online, such as Flood Tools, to research your flood risk and look at the county-wide flood claims and losses over the past 10 years.

Are there any other ways to save on premiums?
When continuing conversations with agents, it is a great idea to address any special discounts offered by insurance companies. Some may offer reduced premiums for special conditions, such as staying with the company for a certain length of time, updated plumbing or electrical systems, or if there are no smokers in your home.

Take Action

You’re equipped with the information you need to gather quotes and find the best homeowner’s insurance in Delaware for your home and your family. Remember to catalog the value of your possessions as well as determine the replacement cost of your home to make sure you’re getting adequate coverage. Annually updating your information, possessions, and coverage will ensure you and your home will be protected should disaster strike.

And lastly, take your time! It is never a good idea to jump at the first quote you get. Finding the best policy takes time; by considering all options available, there’s a better chance you’ll end up with exactly what you need.

source: http://freshome.com/best-homeowners-insurance-in-delaware/

How Much It Costs to Keep Up with the Joneses

Jamie Wiebe, houselogic.com

Jealous of your neighbors’ new master bath? Who wouldn’t be? It’s got heated floors, a sauna, and a massive whirlpool tub. To be honest, your own bathroom looks like the shower station at the public pool in comparison. And you have been thinking about renovating it. Maybe a sauna isn’t such a bad idea after all. And how about one of those new tube lights? Yeah, that’d be cool.

Actually, doing the opposite — resisting the urge to keep up with the Joneses makes you the smarter neighbor.

Just ask Michael Kelczewski, a REALTOR® whose client added a spa with a downtown view to his Philadelphia home, which was way out of sync with his urban neighborhood, making the home difficult to sell.

“He liked to sit in the tub with his Belgian ale and look over the city while it was snowing,” Kelczewski says. “But the feature decreased the home’s value significantly. Needless to say, the property sold after a year — with a significant price reduction.”

Renovating your home into the nicest digs in the neighborhood comes with big risks. Best to think twice before replicating the Joneses’ extravagant additions, lest you end up with an over-renovated house that’s undervalued by the market.

Here are the questions to ask yourself before one-upping the neighbors:

Is This Your Forever Home?

It’s hard to believe, but the average American moves 11.4 times, and according to the data-crunchers at FiveThirtyEight, most 25-year-olds still have more than six moves (!) remaining. So, statistically speaking, you’re going to move.

And you’ll need to sell your house when you do. Which means you should think about how any project will affect your home’s value. It’s not as simple as you think. Just because you improve, doesn’t mean you recoup (more details on that coming up — just watch for the tables).

On the other hand, you may truly plan to stay put. Newer studies find that today’s first-time buyers want to stay in their first homes longer than previous generations. So if you’re one of the ones bucking tradition, then by all means, do what you want to do without regard to resale value.

“Some people just want to buy a house, and live in it and turn it into a giant, English estate,” says Kelczewski. “That’s fine. That’s your prerogative.” (Although you might want to look into any homeowner association rules.)

But if you’re planning a move anytime between now and eternity, let the Joneses keep a good lead on you in the renovation race. You’ll come out better financially. Guaranteed.

How Does Your Home Rate?
“You don’t want to be the best house in the neighborhood,” says Las Vegas-based Cristine Lefkowitz Jensen, a REALTOR® and former interior designer. Otherwise, literally every other house around you looks like a better deal. It’s only smart to keep up with the Joneses if everyone on your block does. Keep an eye on comparable properties nearby, and use those prices to know how much is too much to invest in upgrades.

“Don’t put in Carrara marble and $80,000 cabinets in a market that won’t bear that selling price,” says Kelczewski. It’s just not smart.

If the average home in your area sells for $500,000, and you purchase a fixer-upper for $400,000, don’t invest more than $100,000 — otherwise you’re wasting cash.

Are You Tempted to Finance Your Project?
As a general rule, taking out a loan for a renovation is a bad idea. Any large-scale upgrades that require begging the bank for cash should get an automatic “no” (sorry!). Even if you know for a fact that the Joneses financed their dream bathroom, that’s just all the more reason to march to your own home ownership drum.

Think about it: Even if the Joneses are increasing their home’s value a bit, they’re also paying interest, which eats into the benefit.

That said, don’t feel guilty about financing smaller, low-risk projects that are sure to increase your equity. For example, upgraded insulation may not be sexy, but according to the National Association of REALTORS’® “Remodeling Impact Report,” its median cost is just $2,100, and it recovers 95% of its value in a sale. So a small loan (that you can pay off quickly) might make sense, especially when you consider the energy savings.

Good bets include:

Project Median Cost Recoup in $$
New Roofing $7,600 $8,000
Hardwood Flooring Refinish $2,500 $2,500
Insulation Upgrade $2,100 $2,000
New Wood Flooring $5,500 $5,000
New Garage Door $2,300 $2,000
New Vinyl Siding $12,000 $10,000

Have You Done Your Research?
Some projects — like refinishing your hardwood — are no-brainers because they’re relatively small and recoup most of their value in a sale.

Other, bigger investments, like updated kitchens, are a big draw for future buyers.

Old, dated kitchens are “the number one killer of all deals,” Lefkowitz Jensen says. According to the “Report,” a typical kitchen remodel costs $30,000 and recovers $20,000 in equity. And no, that $10,000 difference isn’t wasted. You’ll love the upgrades while you live there, and get most of your money back when you move. (And enjoy a shorter selling time, too.)

Here are some popular projects and their typical costs. But a REALTOR® will know what’s ultimately best in your neighborhood.

Project Median Cost Recoup in $$
New Vinyl Windows $15,000 $12,000
New Fiber Cement Siding $19,100 $15,000
New Steel Front Door $2,000 $1,500
HVAC Replacement $7,000 $5,000
Basement Conversion to Living Area $36,000 $25,000
Kitchen Upgrade $30,000 $20,000
Complete Kitchen Renovation $60,000 $40,000
Attic Conversion to Living Area $65,000 $40,000
New Fiberglass Front Door $2,500 $1,500
Bathroom Renovation $26,000 $15,000
New Wood Windows $26,000 $15,000
Closet Renovation $3,500 $2,000
New Master Suite $112,500 $60,000
Add New Bathroom $50,000 $26,000

Another equity-rich option is creating an open floor plan. “Not everyone eats dinner like Norman Rockwell, but that’s how the properties were designed at that time,” Kelczewski says. “Increase the home’s value by knocking down those walls and adding square footage.”

Will Your Project Add Curb Appeal?
Improved curb appeal can increase the price of your home up to 17%, according to a Texas Tech University study, so don’t shirk away from jazzing up your front patio and lawn. So if the answer is “yes,” go with the Joneses on this one.

“That’s 50% of the sale,” says Lefkowitz Jensen. “You only have one chance to make a first impression.”

Get a sleek and modern exterior by replacing your crumbling wooden front door with a gorgeous steel model, which looks stunning and recoups 75% of its cost in a sale, according to the “Report.”

Adding trees and bushes brings dimension to your lawn. Even just maintaining your yard makes a big difference. Additional lighting along the walkway is a worthwhile investment, too — in addition to making your home safer.

Will Your Remodel Bring You Joy?
It’s your retreat, your place. It should bring you joy when you walk in the door. You can’t put a dollar figure on the value of that.

However, the “Report” does give some insight into what projects homeowners are happiest with, regardless of cost. REALTORS® asked some of their clients what renovations brought them the most satisfaction.

Here’s how some popular projects ranked, according to the Report’s Joy Score (with 10 being the highest score); and note that “joy” and “recoup” don’t always pair up like you think they would:

“You only have a short time on this earth,” Kelczewski says. “If you want to paint your house purple and put in a hot tub, that’s your choice. It’s your property. Enjoy.”

So, yeah, sip that Belgian ale in your new spa. Cheers!

source: https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/home-renovation-tips/

Ultra-Luxury Real Estate: What’s Hot, What’s Not

Amy Fontinelle, investopedia.com

A major driver of demand for luxury homes after the global recession was a coterie of wealthy international investors seeking a safe place to earn superior returns in a low-interest-rate environment. As they’ve pulled back due to international events such as plummeting oil prices and slowing economic growth in China, as well as tax and interest-rate increases in some areas, prices have fallen in some key cities. Other important cities are still expected to see significant growth in 2016 – just not at levels as exciting as their post-recession gains.

Here’s a look at seven key cities and what’s happening in their luxury residential real estate markets. We’ll also share some expert advice on how smart it is to invest in a declining market.

1. Shanghai
Shanghai’s luxury housing supply grew like bamboo last year, with a remarkable 440% increase over 2014 inventory, according to research by Knight Frank, a company that provides global residential and commercial property advisory services. The city also saw the average sales price increase by 14% over the same period. Downtown luxury apartments experienced above-average growth in the fourth quarter, and Pudong and Huanpu have some of the highest prices in the city.

Lower mortgage rates and new rules that make it easier and less expensive to get a mortgage for a property in another city contributed to the boom. Knight Frank projects a 5% increase in average luxury home prices in Shanghai for 2016.

2. London
A year and a half ago, London’s luxury real estate market was hot. But it started cooling in 2015, and as of late January, sales had slowed considerably. Homes are taking longer to sell, and listings are experiencing multiple price cuts. Price drops for 2015 were greatest in posh districts like Knightsbridge (–6.1%) and less significant in neighborhoods like Hyde Park (–1.8%); prices actually increased in Islington (6.4%).

Possible causes of the overall slowdown include tighter lending standards designed to prevent a housing bubble, higher property taxes and political and economic uncertainty. Overall, values of prime real estate (the priciest 5% of homes) in the center city rose only 1% last year.

Despite what sounds like a lot of bad news, England’s central bank, unlike the Fed, has not increased its target interest rate yet. That means mortgage rates remain low, and that’s one reason why Knight Frank anticipates a 2% increase in London’s prime central real estate prices for 2016. (For related reading, see Is It the Right Time to Buy a Home in London?)

3. New York City
Prime residential real estate prices grew 5% last year and are expected to do the same this year in the city that never sleeps, Knight Frank reports. The biggest risk to prices there is a higher-than-anticipated increase in the Fed funds rate, Knight Frank says, because higher rates would make housing less affordable for borrowers and for foreign investors whose financial position weakens as the dollar strengthens. Other concerns about New York’s market include slower economic growth worldwide and slow wage growth. Also, the supply of new luxury homes in New York City is growing; if the supply gets too large, prices could suffer. (To learn about the broader housing market, read New York City Real Estate: A Safe Haven?)

“In Manhattan we see a very strong market,” says Daniel Blatman, a luxury real estate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York City. “The products that are very good are still moving, whereas the over-the-top luxury goods may be slowing a little bit.” Luxury homes that meet people’s needs and are priced well are the most active, according to Blatman. “The product that manages to include a built-in espresso maker to charge more tends to sit a little longer,” he says. (Check out Manhattan Luxury Condos As Investments.)

4. Singapore
In Singapore, the second priciest luxury housing market in Asia (only Hong Kong is more expensive), prices and sales volume fell slightly in 2014 and 2015 after a nearly 80% price increase from 2008 through 2013. The government increased taxes on foreigners who buy property there because Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian investors were contributing to an overheating market, and the increase has caused these investors to consider other major global cities. Many new homes in Singapore now sit vacant.

Some investors and analysts have positive feelings about Singapore’s luxury housing market because of the country’s overall attractiveness to the ultra-wealthy; others see the potential for further declines as interest rates rise and investors worry about the market and the broader economy. Knight Frank expects prices to go down by 3.3% this year. Prices may be bottoming out.

5. Sydney
Australia’s largest city is the brightest spot in Knight Frank’s 2016 luxury housing market predictions, with projected price increases of 10%. That follows a spectacular 2015, when prices rose by an estimated 15%. Sydney is experiencing high demand from the Chinese, who are seeking stability in investments abroad, and from local investors.

The biggest threats to Sydney’s luxury housing market are weak oil prices, as demand for the commodity declines and supply rises, and a larger-than-anticipated slowdown in China’s economic growth, which also impacts oil and commodity prices and ultimately affects the demand for exports, the report says. Also, one lender has publicly called Sydney’s high-end housing market “significantly overvalued.” (For related reading, see How To Finance Foreign Real Estate.)

6. Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s housing market faces a number of moderately serious risks, including a faster than expected rise in U.S. interest rates (a problem because Hong Kong’s currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar), global political crises that would disrupt trade and increased government regulation of the housing market, according to Knight Frank.

The firm predicts a 5% decrease in prime residential city price growth for 2016 after a 1.5% increase in 2015, making Hong Kong the weakest city on the list. Contributing to the problem is an increase in the city’s housing supply. One thing Hong Kong probably doesn’t have to worry about is low wage growth creating affordability problems and depressing demand. (Learn more in Tips For Buying Luxury Real Estate and Top 6 Billionaires Living in Hong Kong.)

7. Los Angeles
While not included in Knight Frank’s report, Los Angeles remains a key city for luxury real estate. Global investors are drawn to its solid track record and astounding growth potential, says Jay Belson, president and CEO of Jay Belson Luxury Development in Beverly Hills. But compared to other key cities, prices look like a bargain because L.A. has something those cities don’t: land.

“When you look at the most expensive cities in the world, with an average price per square foot in London at $5,300, Tokyo at $7,600, and Hong Kong selling at $11,000, Beverly Hills is a terrific bargain at $3,000 with half an acre of land,” Belson says. The city attracts international buyers who visit their L.A. homes just a few times a year, he says, while it also sees consistent demand from current L.A. residents. (For related reading, see Become a Real Estate Agent for the Ultra Rich.)

Still, upscale areas such as Malibu Beach have too much inventory, and homes there are selling below list price, according to Sotheby’s International Realty’s greater Los Angeles market update for the fourth quarter of 2015. One of LA’s strongest submarkets is Pacific Palisades, where inventory is low and homes are selling almost at list. And the average price of the 29 homes sold in posh Bel Air in 2015 was almost 19% higher than that of the 39 homes sold over the same period in 2014.

Investing in a Slower Luxury Housing Market
Should you invest in luxury residential real estate given current market conditions? Consider what three luxury real estate agents told us.
“It depends upon the buyer’s motivation and plans for the home,” says Danny Batsalkin, co-founder and CEO of TBG Homes Worldwide in Beverly Hills, Calif. “If this is a principal residence and the buyer plans on living in the home, then, yes, it always makes sense to invest in luxury real estate. If the intention is to buy and sell quickly, then it may not make as much sense in a down market because there is a risk of losing money on the project.”
However, if you are thinking of buying now and selling five or 10 years down the road, Batsalkin is bullish: “I’m always confident that real estate will be higher. If you look back to the last down market that started in 2007, the people who bought while the market was ‘down’ between 2010 and 2012 have benefited greatly – in some cases, those homes have doubled in value since that time!”

Michael Kelczewski, a realtor with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Centreville, Del., says that “outside of a few major metropolitan areas and recreational destinations, the luxury market can be challenging.” When investing in a challenging asset class, he says, it’s important to focus on metrics like these:

  • How many luxury properties were traded within the subject market?
  • What was the average time on the market?
  • How large was the difference between list price and sale price?

If you’re buying as an investment, Kelczewski adds, you want to look at value and appreciation. Further, in any market, even an overheated one, you can develop a successful investment strategy and turn a profit, he says.

Julio Ybanez, a real estate agent with The Keyes Co./Luxury Portfolio International, specializes in luxury and ultra-luxury real estate between Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. Even in a slow market, he says, there are several ways to look at buying a luxury home:
Evaluate how much the purchase will enhance your personal or business life.
Ask for advice from reputable, local, high-end real estate brokers.
Get a full history of similar sales for the last three to five years to get a broad view of prices in various market conditions so you can make the right offer (see 10 Tips for Getting a Fair Price on a Home).
The cities that usually command the highest price per square foot for luxury properties, Ybanez says, are “mega economic hubs” like London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich, where buyers use these homes as primary residences. That’s true even though ultra high net worth individuals often spend more on their second and third homes in places like the French Riviera and the Cayman Islands, he adds.
Cities like Hong Kong or Singapore may experience a down market because of higher taxes on prime properties, difficulties approving new residents or the slowdown in China’s economy, he says, but the fundamentals are there, and those two cities are Asian hubs that are here to stay.
If you’re concerned about selling, be aware that marketing a $10+ million home takes longer, and the higher the price goes, the longer it takes, Ybanez says. If you’re not looking to flip the property, that’s probably fine, and it’s difficult to tell what market conditions may look like in three to seven years or more, when you’re ready to sell. Sometimes ultra-luxury homes take years to sell, Ybanez notes.
The Bottom Line
While analysts don’t expect 2016 to offer spectacular returns to real estate investors for luxury homes in major global cities, Sydney could see average returns of 10%, and the worst projection of the bunch, Hong Kong’s, only calls for a 5% decrease, which is hardly a reason to panic. Luxe enclaves, such as Beverly Hills, Calif., and Aspen, Colo. are also running counter to the trend (see Mansion Prices Are Hitting New Highs). As always, interest rates, property taxes, economic growth, politics and commodities prices, to name some key factors, will influence prices.

Look not just at current sales volume and prices, but at what other ultra-high-net-worth individuals are doing and at indicators of long-term value – for example, London’s and New York’s importance as major financial centers – when considering whether a particular city might be a good bet for solid returns on luxury real estate. (Want in on the action? Read Investing in Luxury Real Estate.)

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/wealth-management/013016/ultraluxury-real-estate-whats-hot-whats-not.asp

Home Buying Strategies for Millenials Today – Interview with Michael Kelczewski

Nick Blair, themoneychamp.com

This week, I welcome Michael Kelczewski on the show to discuss home buying strategies for millennials . Michael is a Realtor with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty.
As a Millennial, himself Michael experienced job loss and debt incursions early in his career, so he has a great deal of incite when it coms to working extensively with first time home buyers.
On this episode, Michael will be sharing his own tips for millennials who are just getting started with their careers. Michael councils first time home buyers to consider job security, area residence expectations and financial concerns before purchasing a home. We’ll be discussing this in more detail on the show.

Listen Here

source: http://themoneychamp.com/home-buying-strategies-for-millennials-today-interview-with-michael-kelczewski

Queen of the Hill: 1893 Victorian Lady Still Stands

Maureen Milford, The News Journal

The years have been hard on this once-grand dame as decades of urban growth encroached ever closer to her hilltop property.

Never mind. She has refused to give up the stately demeanor of a proud Victorian lady.

“She must have been the Queen of the Hill,” when she was built from 1892 to 1893 at the corner of North Clayton and Seventh streets in Wilmington, said Patricia Maley, senior planner for design and review with the city.

“The view must have been spectacular,” she said.

Built in Victorian style with Queen Anne and Eastlake architectural influences, the 5,000-square-foot house would have been “pretty fancy” in its day – even in the fashionable district in which it was located, Maley said.

Although hard to believe today, the house would have been in an outer ring of the city where homes enjoyed wide yards and clear vistas of the Christina River. Trolley lines provided transportation to and from the downtown business district.

Land on which the house was built had been owned by the Pepper family, which subdivided it, according to city records.

The building permit for the house was issued in September 1892, said John Kurth, a city planner. A year later, Charles F. Thomas was listed as the home’s occupant.

Kurth said Thomas was the proprietor of C.F. Thomas & Co., a bookseller, stationer, printer and bank book manufacturer at 421 N. Market St. In 1888, the Thomases had been living not far away at 1321 W. Eighth St., according to a city directory.

But by 1897, Thomas’ business, which was the successor to a business dating to the 1700s, was in trouble, according to The American Stationer.

Still, the house was secure in Thomas’ hands. He died there in 1917 at the age of 73, according to American Stationer and Office Outfitter.

The house then passed to his son, Victor, a Wilmington attorney. Victor stayed in the house until at least 1955. By 1959, John Del Negro was listed as the occupant, according to city directories.

The next time it changed hands was in 1981 when it was bought by Dr. Emilio Valdes Jr. for $160,000, according to public records. Valdes wanted the three-story building for a medical practice and he converted rooms to exam areas, offices and other uses.

Yet, most of the original elements remain, making it easy to visualize what the Thomases’ home life was like in the late 19th- and early 20th-century.

A visit on a recent winter evening – when the house was decorated for the holidays – felt like being in a time machine. The Thomases must have thought they’d arrived when they moved into such a gracious property.

Today, it’s clear that the waiting room was the former parlor and the reception area with its fireplace was the hall.

The biggest change, next to the elimination of the kitchen, was the division of the large former dining room into offices. But the spacious library remains.

Throughout most of the house the floors, millwork, stained-glass windows, pocket doors and indoor shutters are original. It has three working fireplaces, including one in the hall, and curved windows in a castle-like tower.

The only thing that is not recognizable is the former kitchen, which is now used for record storage. For Valdes, the once-tiny kitchen in such a large house was the most surprising thing to him when he took ownership.

Still, the built-in cabinets of the pantry remain, including an early intercom for the cook to announce to the Thomases that the soup was on.

Michael Kelczewski, a real estate agent with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing, said it is not known who designed the house.

When Valdes bought the house from Del Negro, it was still a residence. Del Negro kept a huge garden on the side of the house.

Valdes said he used to eye the property every day when he was at St. Francis Hospital. As an ear, nose and throat doctor, Valdes thought it would be a perfect location for his practice.

When Valdes would see Del Negro in the yard, he’d ask Del Negro when he planned to put the house up for sale. Time after time, Del Negro said he wasn’t interested.

Then one day, Del Negro responded he was ready to move to Maryland and take up farming, Valdes said. After buying the house, Valdes turned the side garden into a parking lot for the practice.

Now, Valdes, 79, who has been focusing on allergies in recent years, says it’s time to sell.

Valdes, who was born in the Philippines, talks about the property:

What was the property like when you bought it?

It needed fixing – a new roof, siding.

Why were you so fascinated with the house?

I thought it would be convenient for patients and doctors. At one point, we had five doctors here and they could go across the street to do surgery.

Was Del Negro’s garden really lovely, with flowers?

Not, really. It was corn. It had 100-year-old beech trees on the property, but slowly they died.

Did you find any hidden surprises when you bought the house?

No. The only thing that caught my attention was that the kitchen was so small. But then, they didn’t have big refrigerators and stoves.

Now, you’re ready to sell. How come?

Five years ago, I decided that I was going to retire. I had a target date – I turn 80 come this spring. I had stopped doing surgeries and have an allergies practice. I told the doctors here that I planned to retire in five years and sell the building.

source: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/12/31/queen-hill-victorian-lady-still-stands/21103607/

House Hunting: 7 lovely Victorian-era Homes

theweek.com

Wilmington, Delware. This Richardsonian Romanesque home was built in 1901 with iron ore bricks. Details include original stained-glass windows, hand-carved reliefs, and oak molding. Commercially zoned, the property is close to area hospitals and public transit. $1,250,000. Michael Kelczewski, Brandywine Fine Properties/Sotheby’s International Realty, (302) 645-6500.

source: http://theweek.com/articles/441341/house-hunting-7-lovely-victorianera-homes

On The Market: English Manor on Chester County countryside

Shannon Rooney, Philly.com

Gail Sanders and her husband Dariel partnered with renowned local architect Peter Batchelor to custom design their new Chester County estate with one goal in mind: turn the rolling hills of Chester Springs into English countryside.

“The home was designed to emulate an English Manor,” said realtor Michael Kelczewski.

The nearly 9,000-square-foot manse sits on more than five and a half acres of perfectly manicured grounds that one could easily imagine passing for the Lake District.

Inside, the couple decorated and designed the home to ensure its Anglophile bona fides extended beyond setting and appearance.

“Mrs. Sanders applied her personal artistic touches to every aspect of the property,” Kelczewski said.

A private English pub room in the lower level, adjacent to a stone hearth fireplace and billiards room, make it easy to feel closer to London than Philadelphia.

Kelczewski said he thought touches like walls of windows might appeal to a variety of buyers. “A new owner would appreciate the abundance of natural light and quality craftsmanship of the home,” he said.

Stunning architectural finishes also include custom millwork throughout the home. Coffered and tray ceilings are common throughout the property, along with customized built-in cabinetry and storage.

“The property’s bucolic setting, combined with the architectural attributes, define the uniqueness of the property,” Kelczewski said.

The kitchen, imported from luxury British interior design house Clive Christian, features a French limestone floor and soapstone counters as well as a commercial-grade range.

“There is a certain ambiance associated with this property,” Kelczewski said. “From the majestic English gardens, to the grand vaulted ceilings, all positioned upon a Chester County hillside affording a scenic vista.”

In addition to the natural beauty of Chester County, the vista includes a pool, gazebo and several stone patios for entertaining. Farther afield, the property also includes a private brook and springhouse.

The Snyders have recently decided that now is the time to downsize. The home is listed with Kelczewski through Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty for $2,495,000.

source: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/real_estate/residential/On_The_Market_English_Manor_on_Chester_County_countryside.htmlShannon Rooney, Philly.comShannon Rooney, Philly.com

Bid or Bad? The Appeal and Risks of Buying a Home at Auction

Jeff Wuorio, Deseret News

It’s easy to get caught up in the competitive excitement of an auction.

Bidding up the price of your spouse’s baked goods for charity or snagging an antique clock at a fraction of its value is one thing. But the stakes rise considerably when it comes to landing a solid deal via a home auction.

“It’s really a case of caveat emptor — let the buyer beware,” said Michael Kelczewski, a Realtor with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “When acquiring a property sold as is, significant due diligence is required.”

Although hundreds of thousands of homes are available through some form of auction, real estate professionals caution that availability doesn’t necessarily translate into sensible opportunity.

To reduce the inherent risks it’s critical to know the system in and out — and the pitfalls, which can be numerous.

The basics

Any property can be auctioned, although most are foreclosures. According to the website RealtyTrac, in early 2016 nearly 900,00 properties were in some stage of foreclosure. Some 40 percent of those homes were available through auctions, either in person or online.

Although procedural differences vary by state, a trustee of the property is generally assigned by the lender or a court officer. The trustee then oversees a foreclosure sale to recover the balance of the loan in default.

Data confirm that an auctioned home can be a bargain. As of early 2016, the median sales price of a foreclosed home was 42 percent less than a non-distressed home.

Whether buying a home for a quick turnaround sale or for occupancy, home auctions are growing in popularity, said Steve Udelson, president of the online home auction marketplace Hubzu.

“More traditional buyers are beginning to see the significant value that properties found at auction can offer,” he said. “Many of these are bank-owned homes, which are in good condition and move-in quality.”

Nor are home shoppers geographically confined. Online auctions allow buyers to pursue homes throughout the country or internationally.

“Online auction marketplaces can be a great option,” said Udelson. “For instance, we offer a large inventory of properties and give participants the opportunity to place bids, get real-time updates on properties and schedule appointments.”

Caveats galore

However appealing purchasing through an auction appears, professionals urge caution throughout the entire process. First off, it’s critical to understand the nature of properties that end up on the auction block.

“Most of these properties have been … vacant for some period of time. The maintenance on the property is probably lacking,” said Jolie Williams, a Plano, Texas, Realtor. “If the previous owners were desperate, they could have possibly stripped the entire house, selling off what they could.”

Another obstacle is investigating the property. Not only do online auctions make an on-site inspections difficult, legal restrictions can preclude prospective bidders from entering and examining nearby properties, particularly if the home is occupied.

“You probably will not be able to access the property prior to the purchase. Without access to the property, you will not be able to see any damage caused by lack of maintenance or the previous owners,” said Williams. “If you can’t get in and inspect the property, the utilities are often not able to be turned on. There’s a risk that there could be issues with the electricity, gas, water or sewage.”

You could end up buying a home with a “squatter” — someone living in the home illegally.

“If a squatter’s living in the property you have purchased, it is on you as the owner to evict them,” said Jamal Asskoumi, owner of CastleSmart.com, a United Kingdom-based online estate agent.

Financing is another challenge. Asskoumi said buyers are often obligated to pay a percentage of the price on the day of purchase, if not the entire amount: “That means now you are completely liable for a house you’ve never even seen before,” he said.

But Udelson noted that an accepted bid can be offered on the contingency that suitable financing be arranged.

Due diligence

For home auction shoppers to ensure a good deal and reduce untended outcomes they should consult with a real estate attorney. “A strong understanding of construction and law will be required for any serious attempt,” said Kelczewski.

Research the estimated market value of the property via any number of Internet sites and check with a local real estate agency for sales of comparable homes in the neighborhood. Find out how much the borrower owes on the mortgage and whether there are any liens against the property you could be saddled with. A title company or attorney can run title searches on properties of interest.

If possible, do a drive-by to check for any notable exterior damage or necessary repairs.

Knowing the relevant financing requirements, whether it is full payment the day of the auction or a grace period to complete the transaction, is essential.

“If you are financing, get pre-approved. This will help you know how much you can afford,” said Udelson. “Also, set aside money for the deposit. Home auctions move fast, so it’s important to be prepared.”

Lastly, don’t let the prospect of picking up a property for a fraction of its apparent value blind you to the real reasons why the deal seems so good.

“I had a Realtor friend who purchased a house at auction for what he thought was a great deal — until he gained access to discover the whole back of the house had been destroyed by a fire,” said Williams. “Even real estate professionals sometimes get burned when it comes to purchasing properties at auction.”

source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865652290/Bid-or-bad-The-appeal-and-risks-of-buying-a-home-at-auction.html?pg=all

Homeowners Reveal: 6 Reasons To Buy A Unique Property

Trulia, via forbes.com

Erica and Aaron Garner always knew they wanted to live on a big property with a lot of land and very few neighbors. “We wanted to get out of the concrete jungle,” laughs Erica. “We didn’t want to smell our neighbors’ smells, hear their arguments, or be told how we can live.”

So after purchasing a foreclosed home in an upscale gated community outside San Diego, CA, and selling it for double the price years later, the couple actively sought out a property that was not only located in a rural area with few neighbors, but also one that the family of four could work on as farmers so that their kids “could experience country life and to really work for what you have,” as Erica describes it. It took only one visit to the two-bedroom home on a 6.5-acre avocado farm for the Garners to know they’d found the perfect match. “At first, I wasn’t sure about the size of the home,” says Erica. “But when we drove up, the orange blossoms were blossoming, and the smell was heavenly. The views literally made me well up. I knew we could make it work.” And they did. The family maintains their avocado groves and, one day, plans to open a winery on the property. “If the soil is good enough to grow avocados, we hope it’s good enough to grow grapes!” says Erica.

Unlike a traditional residence such as an apartment, townhome, or single-family home, unique properties such as horse farms, apple orchards, wineries, historic castles, and more can all come with great advantages. Here are five reasons to buy a unique property of your own.

1. You could discover a new passion

What’s not to love about having unlimited access to a food that’s the staple of something as awesome as guacamole? While the Garners didn’t set out to become avocado farmers, the simple act of purchasing a home surrounded by hundreds of avocado trees left them with tons of the good-for-you fruit.

“One advantage of owning a unique property such as this is personal enjoyment with the potential for market value increases,” explains Michael Kelczewski, a real estate agent with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. But he cautions against assuming there will be hordes of buyers out there when you’re ready to sell. “Perhaps an individual has dreamed of owning a farm or rising in the morning to a verdant vineyard. But personal residences are best considered a luxury item — and outside of major metropolitan or resort areas, the luxury market is challenging.”

2. You could be your own boss

Daydreams of handing in a resignation letter can become a reality when you own a unique property. For Bill and Eleanor Seavy, opening up a bed-and-breakfast put them in a position where they own a business and answer to only themselves (and their guests, naturally). “Being 69, I’m starting to slow down and would like to work less,” explains Bill. In between guests, the couple enjoy the rural setting of Her Castle Homestay Bed & Breakfast Inn, located on a picturesque property with rolling hills in Cambria, CA. While being self-employed comes with its own set of challenges, the Seavys value the freedom to be in charge of their own destiny.

3. You’ll have a great story to tell

Dinner party fodder aside, it’s pretty cool to live in a home where people like Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, and Kurt Vonnegut once stayed. Such is the case with the windmill-turned-home on Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, NY, where those celebrities (and a handful of others) purportedly stayed back in the 1950s. “Back when I was 10 years old, my cousin and I rode our horses up to Quail Hill because we’d heard Marilyn Monroe was staying there,” says homeowner Bill Schweg. “So my cousin climbed up the top of the hill and watched as Marilyn Monroe played tennis.” The property includes a large main house, but it’s the adjacent guesthouse that’s the pièce de résistance. Originally a working windmill, it was converted into a two-bedroom, one-bath guesthouse in the ’50s for Samuel Rubin, creator of the Fabergè cosmetics company. “I went to dinner last night and my friends were asking me about all of the celebrities who have stayed on [the] property,” laughs Schweg. “It’s always an ongoing topic!” Homes like this can reap big rewards when it comes time to sell too. “The benefit of a unique home is its differentiation from the market,” explains Justin Udy, a real estate agent with Century 21 Everest Realty Group in Midvale, UT. “It can be perceived as high class, select, and even environmentally friendly. These types of homes receive a premium when you can create an exclusive and distinct feel.”

4. You could be on TV

DIY, renovation, and history shows love a unique property. After all, it’s the exact reason shows about houseboats, log cabins, and tiny dwellings continue to air. Schweg’s Quail Hill was featured on Bravo’s Property Envy in August 2013. The boasting rights that go along with having a home featured on a major national home show are significant, especially when it comes time to sell: It gives the home a little “star power”— if producers thought it was fantastic enough to be featured on TV, it must be a great home.

5. You can design a (super) custom home

Sure, you can buy some land and have a builder create a custom home to fit your lifestyle. But with a unique property, you can retrofit a custom-designed interior into an existing, awesome exterior. Take Liz Blondy in Detroit, MI, who with her husband recently purchased an old church to renovate as their home. “The first thing we did was put a new roof on it. Now we need to tear out the plaster ceiling so the trusses are exposed, then see what we have to work with,” says Blondy. “Our hope is to build out a one-bedroom apartment in the back of the church — about 800 square feet — and then turn the entire 2,600-square-foot sanctuary into our living space.” The high ceilings and vast space of the nave are like a blank canvas, with the church’s beautiful architecture already in place to “frame” their customized interior. For those able to handle a renovation, custom-designing an existing unique building can be a great option. And Blondy is up to the challenge: She and her husband currently reside in another nontraditional space — an old storefront in Downtown Detroit.

6. You’re a part of history

For Raina and Marcus Simpson, who asked for their names to be changed for this story, it’s not uncommon to walk out the front door of their circa-1775 home in Colonial Williamsburg, VA, and be greeted by a Revolutionary War performer. The couple’s home is located in the city’s historic district, where the cobble-lined street does not allow cars, and is a frequent stop for visitors looking to glean a bit of history from the well-versed performers who roam the town. “We literally have horses and carriages driving by our house all day long,” says Raina.

The hip-roofed, early Georgian home with a 60-foot facade — the first property John D. Rockefeller ever restored during the Williamsburg restoration project of the 1920s — is also home to a friendly ghost, Lucy Ludwell Paradise, who reportedly makes an appearance now and again. Unfortunately, when it comes time to sell, all that living history can make the process a bit challenging. “Though you may love living in a 19th-century renovated chapel, it may not appeal to the broader market,” explains Ross Anthony, a real estate agent with Willis Allen Real Estate in San Diego, CA. “However, buyers that are open to the option tend to be passionate about the idea of occupying a unique space.”

source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2016/07/29/homeowners-reveal-6-reasons-to-buy-a-unique-property/#6844d533ce79

Should First-Time Buyers Bypass the Venerable Starter Home?

Brian O’Connell, thestreet.com

Han Chang doesn’t believe in starter homes — and he shares that sentiment with a burgeoning number of younger Americans.

Chang, co-founder of Investmentzen.com, recently moved from San Francisco to Austin to become a first time homebuyer, but he’s aiming higher than first-time buyers historically have.

“My wife and I are totally ignoring starter homes and looking into multifamily properties to owner occupy,” Chang says. “In particular, we’re going big and shopping for a four-plex residence, since those still qualify for standard conventional mortgage loans.”

Chang says the minimum down payment starts at an affordable 5%, but there is a catch. “That forces us to pay private mortgage insurance on the loan, but we think the tradeoff is totally worth it since our tenants will be helping out with that,” he says. “As long as the property cash flows with all tenants in place, in the worst case scenario, we can move out and keep renting out the place.”

That, he says, will allow him to build significant amounts of equity faster than he could have otherwise, since he’s leveraging other people’s money.

What Chang and others are doing is a real game-changer in the housing market. After all, the so-called starter home has, historically, been the gateway to the American Dream. Traditionally, homeownership is a statement-maker for generations of young adults, who can point to their first home and say, “See, I made it — I’m a homeowner and now the sky is the limit.”

But what if the starter home is becoming largely ignored by young would-be homeowners, just like Chang? That could be happening right now, according to Bank of America’s first Homebuyer Insights Report.

In it, a whopping 75% of first-time buyers “would prefer to bypass the starter home and purchase a place that will meet their future needs, even if that means waiting to save more.” Most survey respondents told Bank of America they have to put off a starter home, anyway, thanks to abundant student loan debt and credit card debt.

“In many cases, we found today’s buyers are taking a long-term view of homeownership,” notes D. Steve Boland, a consumer lending executive at Bank of America. “They want to purchase a home that will meet their future needs and understand that, in some cases, that will require saving more, waiting longer and making sacrifices.”

As they get closer to purchasing a home, younger homebuyers are more willing to give up some features in their dream home, Boland says. “The reality is that many buyers today are balancing important financial priorities,” he says. “To them, saving for a home is as important as saving for retirement. Plus, they’re coping with student loans, credit card debt and college savings for their children.”

Taking a long-term view may not be a bad idea, as long as buyers take a much-needed reality check.

“Buying a home is a big decision that is significantly motivated by life situations including accommodating a growing family, living near a job, a city’s amenities and retirees downsizing and upsizing,” says Kathy Cummings, first-time homebuyer expert at Bank of America. “Whether it’s a starter home or a bigger house, buyers need to balance a mortgage with their overall financial situation, assessing how much they should borrow without putting the rest of their financial plans on hold. For some, it is a great time to buy a bigger house or a house for the long-term versus a starter home due to historically low interest rates, relatively affordable homes and more stable incomes.”

Cummings says potential buyers should look at their full financial picture, including student loans, how long they plan to stay in one home and job changes, when deciding whether to buy. “Homebuyers should look to invest in a home that will hold its value through various real estate cycles,” she adds. “That way they’re not in danger of losing money in case they have to sell, should one of the aforementioned life changes — like a job change, growing family, etc. — occur unexpectedly.”

Other real estate insiders agree with that sentiment. “Whether someone should buy a starter home or a larger home, will depend on their financial position,” says Mark Ferguson, a realtor, real estate investor, author and the creator of Investfourmore.com. “I love the advice a lender gave me the other day: figure all of your expenses, save 20% of your income and then see how much you have left over for a house payment. When you get an idea of how much you can spend on a house and still save money, you’ll get an idea of how much home you can afford.”

Yet with the high transaction costs specific to real estate — perhaps the notion of a starter home is unrealistic for many, says Michael Kelczewski, a Millennial and a realtor with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “If financed, in order to recoup financing charges and closings costs, the general rule of thumb is one must own a property for five years,” he says. “So, bypassing a starter home may make sense.”

Then there are the real estate professionals who believe bypassing the starter home is a lousy idea.

“I don’t believe that first time buyers should pass over the starter home for many reasons,” says Amber Dolle, a Los Angeles-based real estate agent. “Most first time buyers don’t really know what they like or dislike about a home until they’ve owned their first home. So a starter home is a good chance to get to know what you really want in a more permanent home in the future.”

“Additionally, if the market ever goes down, you have less equity to lose on a home that costs less,” she adds. “Plus, on a positive note, if and when the market comes back up, starter homes are the first to make a come back and sell.”

source: https://www.thestreet.com/story/13523101/1/should-first-time-buyers-bypass-the-venerable-starter-home.html

Project Joy Score Recoup in %
New Fiber Cement Siding 10 79%
Add New Bathroom 10 52%
Complete Kitchen Renovation 9.8 67%
New Roofing 9.7 105%
New Master Suite 9.7 53%
Hardwood Flooring Refinish 9.6 100%
New Wood Flooring 9.6 91%
New Steel & Fiberglass Front Door 9.6 68%
New Garage Door 9.5 87%
Kitchen Upgrade 9.5 67%
New Vinyl & Wood Windows 9.4 69%
Basement Conversion to Living Area 9.4 69%
Attic Conversion to Living Area 9.4 61%
Bathroom Renovation 9.3 58%
Closet Renovation 9 57%
New Vinyl Siding 8.9 83%
Insulation Upgrade 8.7 95%
HVAC Replacement 8.7 71%