How To Fall In Love With Your House – Again!

How To Fall In Love With Your HouseDo you remember the thrill you had when you walked through your home when house-hunting?  When you were handed the keys after signing the contract?  When you walked through the door for the first time and thought to yourself, “This is mine!”

Do you still feel that way?  Or is the carpet showing wear?  Have the kitchen cabinets lost their luster?  Do the creaks in the floorboards grate on your nerves?

We spend most of our non-working hours in our homes, just as we spend most of our non-working hours with our loved ones.  So it stands to reason that like with people, we have a connection with our home.  And like personal relationships, sometimes they go sour.

So what do you do to remedy the situation?  Moving is an option, although a very expensive one, and not necessarily convenient.  There are other, less expensive options, however.  Let’s explore some of them:

1.  Sort it out!  Take a good look at every room in your house.  Is there clutter everywhere?  Are there appliances on the kitchen counters?  Piles of magazines and mail on the dining room table?  Random bottles of toiletries in the bathroom?  Clothes spilling out of closets and dresser drawers?  It’s time to de-clutter!  Your needs have changed over the years; so has your lifestyle.  Get rid of what you don’t need or use anymore.  De-cluttering your home will de-stress your life.

2.  Clean it up!  And we’re not just talking dusting the surfaces here.  Give your house a good scrubbing from top to bottom, inside and out.  That means moving the furniture, pushing back the curtains to get to the windows, and taking a rag to the slats on your mini-blinds.  Wipe the fingerprints off the switch-plates, too!  You’ll be amazed at how different your home looks once the smudges are gone.

3.  Move it Around!  Now that the house is clean and clutter-free, look at the furniture.  If you can’t afford to purchase a new sofa or arm chair, re-arrange what you have.  The fresh layout will give the feel of new furniture without the expense.

4.  Fix it up!  The sliding door on your shower is always falling off the track.  There’s a cracked tile in the middle of your kitchen floor.  The dimmer switch in the dining room doesn’t dim anymore.  None of these are significant, but added up with every other little thing, they all nag at the back of your mind whenever you notice them.  And it sullies your relationship with your home.  Fixing these little things can make a big difference in your attitude.

5.  Add it on!  If you still feel you don’t have enough space in your house after de-cluttering and rearranging your furniture, consider adding on to your house.  This, of course, is an expensive option, so one to be thought about carefully.  Re-evaluate how you use all the rooms in your home.  Is there anything you can do differently to add more useful space?  Would adding on increase the value of your home when you sell it?  Do you have enough money in your savings, or would you need to take out a home equity loan?  Can you afford another loan payment?  Talking with a mortgage originator can help you make this decision.

6.  Look it over!  Step back from your home and try to view it objectively.  If your house was on the market, what would visitors think about the rooms?  Would they see dated wallpaper and art work where you see your first effort at decorating?  What features do friends and family like or dislike about your home?  Can you find new appreciation for the good, or easily fix the bad?  Have a close friend over to help with the assessment.

7.  Put it down!  On paper, that is.  Write down your monthly expenses and compare it to your income.  Has the home become too expensive for you to maintain?  Is that the underlying cause of your stress, perhaps?  If you don’t want to move, look at your budget.  Where can you cut back?  Are there any energy improvements you can make, like using CFL bulbs, to lower your utility bills?  Don’t let your home become a financial burden.

8.  Think about it!  Sometimes it’s all about attitude.  After all, you fell in love with the house years ago.  The house is still the same.  There are features you loved about the house when you bought it.  Perhaps it was the view from the kitchen, or the tree-lined streets in the neighborhood.  Think back to all the good you saw.  This includes the people living in the home.  Your family makes your home, too, not just the four walls and roof over your heads.  Appreciating the people and furry friends living with you can change your attitude about your home.

What feature do you love best about your home?  What would be the first thing you would change?

Move-up Buyers: Should I Buy A Bigger House Or Add On To This One?

So you just came home from the grocery store, arms full of bags.  You trip over the dogs that smell the meat, step on the shoes your children left in the back hallway, and head for the kitchen counter.  But the clean dishes from the dishwasher are still there, along with the cookbook and slow cooker you’ll need for making dinner tonight.  Do you drop the bags on the floor and hope for the best with the dogs while you get the rest of the groceries from the car?  Or do you take the groceries back to the car, crawl into the driver’s seat, pick up the phone and call your spouse, saying “Honey, we need a larger house.”

While one bad day won’t decide such a large undertaking, if this has been building over the weeks, months and years, you may truly be at the end of your rope.  The tiny closets in your Victorian home don’t hold all your clothes.  The bathroom sink is just wide enough for your toothbrush holder and soap dispenser, and your three daughters aren’t happy sharing a bedroom when their brother gets a room to himself.Move-up Buyers Should I Buy a Bigger House Or Add On To This One?

When you bought the home with child number one on the way, it was perfect – three bedrooms, two baths, a large yard for the kids and dogs.  The schools are great and the families are all young with children of their own.  Now what?  The house is too small.

But do you want to move when the neighborhood is ideal?  What about adding on to your home instead of buying a new one?  Wouldn’t that be better?

The answer isn’t an easy one.  There are many factors that go into the decision, from emotional to financial.  So how do you decide which is right for you?

If You Remodel

  • If you add on to your existing home, where would that put you in the neighborhood compared to other homes?  Would yours be the largest on the block?  That could negatively affect the selling price in the future.  If you renovate, would you bring your house up to par with others in the neighborhood, or be comparable to them?  Over-improving can be a costly mistake.
  • Remodeling always costs more than you think.  Get some bids on what you want to do.  Your plans may change once you talk to an architect or contractor.  That bigger kitchen you want?  It may not be a simple matter of tearing down a wall.  A good contractor will give you an accurate bid, which may just be an eye-opener.  And if you choose to do the work yourself once you see the bid?   Be prepared to have a house that LOOKS like it was a DIY home improvement when you sell it later.
  • Will your house stick out like a sore thumb in the neighborhood once you’re done?  Are you trying to create a Bungalow in a neighborhood full of Cape Cods?  Will your renovations flow with the rest of your home once you’re done?  If you add on a modern master bath with slate floors and glass tiles, but still have linoleum floors in the kitchen, your home will look exactly like what it is – a small house with an addition.
  • Consider the extra costs involved over and above the construction.  If you stay in your home while remodeling your kitchen, you’ll probably be eating out more. If you move out during the remodel, you’ll have the additional cost of renting another place.  You may also need to rent a storage unit to hold your furniture and belongings while remodeling.
  • Adding on to your home increases the square footage, which will increase your taxes. Can you afford the extra cost?

If You Decide to Buy

  • What is your ideal home?  Is it just a larger version of your home, or a completely different style?  If you currently live in a raised ranch, but would love a Queen Anne near the town center, you’ll never be happy where you are, no matter how many renovations you do.
  • What can you expect to receive for the sale of your home?  Will you have enough for a down payment on a new home?  Will your monthly payment go up significantly?  Often, it’s cheaper to move up than renovate if you calculate the cost per square foot for each choice.
  • Will your commute to work be better or worse if you move to your ideal neighborhood?  Maybe you’ll be closer to the highway, or have less traffic in the area.
  • What is the age of your old home compared to the new?  If your current home is 40 years old, maintenance costs will be more than if you purchase a home that is only ten years old.

Are you still confused as to what to do?  Remove yourself emotionally and do a cost analysis.  First, call a real estate agent to do a Comparative Market Analysis.  This will reveal what your home is worth compared to the rest of homes in your neighborhood.  Your agent can also tell you what the value could be with your home improvement projects.  Next, call a mortgage originator to see if you qualify for the bigger home you want to purchase or a home improvement loan.  They can help determine how much house you can afford or the size of the improvement project. After you consult these two professionals, will you be able to make the determination that best meets you and your family goals.

Only you can make the final decision, but answering these questions honestly will help you decide.

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