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Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle, Bryant, Benton, Sherwood and surrounding areas

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Budget Kitchen Remodeling: 5 Money-Saving Steps

Budget Kitchen Remodeling: 5 Money-Saving Steps

Can’t afford an entire kitchen remodel in one fell swoop? You can complete the work in 5 budget-saving stages (and still cook dinner during the down time).

Stage one: Start with a complete design plan


Your plan should be comprehensive and detailed — everything from the location of the refrigerator to which direction the cabinet doors will open to whether you need a spice drawer.
To save time (and money) during tear-out and construction, plan on using your existing walls and kitchen configuration. That’ll keep plumbing and electrical systems mostly intact, and you won’t have the added expense — and mess — of tearing out walls.
Joseph Feinberg, vice president of Allied Kitchen and Bath in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recommends hiring a professional designer, such as an architect or a certified kitchen designer, who can make sure the details of your plans are complete. You’ll pay about 10% of the total project for a pro designer, but you’ll save a whole bunch of headaches that would likely cost as much — or more — to fix. Plus, a pro is likely to offer smart solutions you hadn’t thought of.
For a nominal fee, you also can get design help from a major home improvement store. However, you’ll be expected to purchase some of your cabinets and appliances from that store.

  • Key strategies: Once your plans are set, you can hold onto them until you’re ready to remodel.
  • Time frame: 3-6 months

 

Stage two: Order the cabinets, appliances, and lighting fixtures

 
Cabinets  and appliances are the biggest investments in your kitchen remodeling  project. If you’re remodeling in stages, you can order them any time  after the plans are complete and store them in a garage (away from  moisture) or in a spare room until you’re ready to pull the trigger on  the installation.
Remember that it may take 4-6 weeks from the day you order them for your cabinets to be delivered.  If  you can’t afford all new appliances, keep your old ones for now — but  plan to buy either the same sizes, or choose larger sizes and design  your cabinets around those larger measurements. You can replace  appliances as budget permits later on.
The same goes for your lighting fixtures: If you can live with your old ones for now, you’ll save money by reusing them.
You’ll  have to decide about flooring, too — one of the trickier decisions to  make because it also affects how and when you install cabinets.
You’ll  need to know if your old flooring runs underneath your cabinets, or if  the flooring butts up against the cabinet sides and toe kicks. If the  flooring runs underneath, you’ll have some leeway for new cabinet  configurations — just be sure the old flooring will cover any newly  exposed floor areas. Here are points to remember:

  • Keep old flooring for cost savings. This works if your new cabinets  match your old layout, so that the new cabinets fit exactly into the old  flooring configuration. If the existing flooring runs underneath your  cabinets and covers all flooring area, then any new cabinet  configuration will be fine.
  • Keep your old flooring for now and cover it or replace it later.  Again, this works if your cabinet configuration is identical to the old  layout.

However, if you plan to cover your old flooring or tear it out and  replace it at some point in the future, remember that your new flooring  might raise the height of your floor, effectively lowering your cabinet  height.
For thin new floor coverings, such as vinyl and linoleum,  the change is imperceptible. For thicker floorings, such as wood and  tile, you might want to take into account the change in floor height by  installing your new cabinets on shims.

  • Key strategy: Keep old appliances, lighting fixtures, and flooring and use them until you can afford new ones.
  • Time frame: 2-3 weeks

Stage three: Gut the kitchen and do the electrical and plumbing work

 
Here’s   where the remodel gets messy. Old cabinetry and appliances are  removed,  and walls may have to be opened up for new electrical  circuits. Keep in  close contact with your contractor during this stage so you can answer questions and clear up any problems   quickly. A major kitchen remodel can take 6 to 10 weeks, depending on   how extensive the project is.
During this stage, haul your refrigerator, microwave, and toaster oven to another room — near the laundry or the garage, for example — so you’ve got the means to cook meals. Feinberg suggests tackling this stage in the summer, when you can easily grill and eat outside. That’ll reduce the temptation to eat at restaurants, and will help keep your day-to-day costs under control.

  • Key strategies: Encourage your contractor to expedite the   tear-out and installation of new systems. Plan a makeshift kitchen while   the work is progressing. Schedule this work for summer when you can   grill and eat outside.
  • Time frame: 6-10 weeks

Stage four: Install cabinets, countertop, appliances, flooring, and fixtures

If   you’ve done your homework and bought key components in advance, you   should roll through this phase. You’ve now got a (mostly) finished   kitchen.
A high-end countertop and backsplash can be a sizable sum of money. If you can’t quite swing   it, put down a temporary top, such as painted marine plywood or   inexpensive laminate. Later, you can upgrade to granite, tile, solid surface, or marble.

  • Key strategy: Install an inexpensive countertop; upgrade when you’re able.
  • Time frame: 1-2 weeks

Final phases: Upgrade if necessary

Replace the inexpensive countertop, pull up the laminate flooring, and put in tile or hardwood, or buy that new refrigerator you wanted but couldn’t afford during the remodel. (Just make sure it fits in the space!)

What it takes to sell your home!

What it takes to sell your home!
This is not rocket science these days, but it isn’t always what you see on HGTV either.  Today’s market is a “Price War” and a “Beauty Contest”, the first time we have been in both, at the same time.
Everyone thinks their home is the best in the neighborhood, but for most of us living in a developed neighborhood or subdivision, in a home built by a generic builder, your home is most like 99% of the homes in the neighborhood in terms of features (flooring style, crown molding, trimwork, etc), and probably the same exact house as yours is every 3rd houses down the street.  It is a big ‘awakening’ when I take my sellers and show them other homes for sale in their neighborhood.  Usually, the comment is “yeah, our house is just like theirs”.
In Central Arkansas for 2012, we are experiencing a high inventory of homes for sale, which has kept us in that “buyer’s market” mentality.  I say ‘mentality’ because whether your neighborhood has a stable, declining, or increasing market, the buyers today still think it is their market.
So, what does it take to sell your home?  Focus on the main areas:  Curb Appeal, Kitchen, Bathrooms & Staging/Detailing.
The goal is to eliminate any ‘negative’ thoughts from a buyer.  Yes, ‘any’!  Why, because most people ‘overestimate’ the cost of fixup by at least double the actual amount, and if they get ‘negative vibes’ from your home, they will just go to the next one.
Curb appeal is your first priority.  If it doesn’t appeal to the buyers from the outside, it will be hard to convert them with the inside.  Not impossible, but definitely a challenge.  I had buyers recently, who didn’t even want to go inside just because the outside was not appealing to them.  Good lawn, good landscaping features, clean exterior, pickup, fresh colorful flowers, fresh mulch, etc.  Most of this is easy stuff.
Once inside, buyers go ‘ga-ga’ over kitchens and bathrooms.  To have the limited buyers choose your home over the others, look into updating plumbing and lighting fixtures in these two areas, and keep them spotless.  New cabinet knobs and hinges go a long way.  What about a fresh paint job on cabinet doors, and maybe a little effect like ‘glazing’.  It seems stained cabinets are the ‘in’ trend right now for buyer preference, with granite countertops.
Finally, stage the home.  Clean it, declutter, properly place furniture to maximize space perception and flow.  You may even have to eliminate some furniture.  Put it in storage, or move it to another room that doesn’t have enough furniture.  This would be an excellent opportunity to bring in an interior design professional.  (Insert ad here – Have I mentioned that all my clients have access to a licensed Interior Designer, at no charge.)
Buyer are different these days.  They want the perfect house at a fair market value….maybe even a little discount!

Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: 5 Essential Steps

Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: 5 Essential Steps

Conduct a do-it-yourself home security check by walking around your house to assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in.

1. Keep your home well-maintained on the outside.
Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that’s obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.
2. Install motion detector lights.
All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.
3. Store your valuables.
Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that’s where you’re likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns. 

Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that’s bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don’t use on a daily basis.
4. Secure your data.
While you probably won’t be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer when not in use (you’ll save energy, too!) Don’t overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.
5. Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens.

  • Take a photo or video inventory of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe.
  • Check that you’re properly insured for theft. Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.

End-of-Summer Checklist for Home Sellers

A recent article was published by rismedia about taking care of your home by providing an “End-of-Summer Checklist for Home Sellers”

The article highlights some maintenance projects that homeowners need to check, whether their home is on the market for sale or not before Winter arrives.
This article emphasizes the resources that local real estate agents provide to our market.  We understand what directly affects the value of a home, and what steps can be taken to insure that you protect your investment.  We also have reliable vendors who can help with these projects if you are not able to complete them.
Another important highlight of this article is the value of having your home inspected by a licensed home inspector.  Even if your home isn’t on the market, a home inspection can provide valuable maintenance projects that need to be looked into.  Some of these projects could be very expensive if not corrected right away.
Again, for reliable vendors, including a home inspector, for anything to do with your home, let me know.  I can steer you in the right direction.
 

End-of-summer projects agents can suggest to their home sellers include:
1. Outdoor painting.
2. Outdoor caulking and sealing.
3. Concrete and asphalt patching.
4. Patio and deck maintenance.
5. Landscaping.
You can see the entire article at http://rismedia.com/2012-08-13/end-of-summer-checklist-for-home-sellers/

Pulaski County Property Taxes Reassessed This Year

Pulaski County Property Taxes are scheduled to be reassessed this year and many of you have already received your notices from the county.  As you know you can appeal your notice of value to the county for reconsideration.  You can go to http://pulaskicountyassessor.net/  for more information.
I would suggest that everyone review your notice of value change.  It is very possible that due to our down market over the past few years, that the value of your has actually decreased, which would result in lower taxes for you to pay to the county.  If you would like to speak to someone at the Pulaski County Assessor’s office please call any of the following numbers. 501-340-3305,501-340-3306 or 501-340-8817. These are direct lines without going through the main switch board.
The Board of Equalization goes into session August 1, 2012 and the deadline to set an appeal appointment with the Board of Equalization is the close of business on August 20th.
If you feel you want to appeal you assessment, I would be glad to provide a current market analysis on your home that will provide you with the documentation you need to appeal with the county.
See the attached document for further information.

Where are the buyers?

A recent study showed the Top Three issues preventing buyers from completing purchases, and the top issue was one that hasn’t been around for the past few years.
According to the survey, the #1 reason keeping buyers from purchasing real estate for 2012 is “Economic Insecurity”.  While difficulties obtaining financing were cited as the leading challenge among buyers in 2010 (61 percent) and 2011 (65 percent), in 2012, the percentage noting this challenge dipped to 49 percent. Problems selling their current homes, similarly, declined in 2012 to 43 percent, down from 59 percent in 2011 and 57 percent in 2010.
Economic insecurity was not in the top three in 2011, nor 2010.  I was telling this to a seller of mine just yesterday.  Recent buyer activity has dropped drastically in Central Arkansas.  Since January 2012, the current inventory in Central Arkansas has risen from 1.7 months to 5.98 months of inventory!  That is a 250% increase in just 6 months.
There is a good amount of inventory now and some at great prices.  We all know that interest rates are at an all time low, again.  So what is the problem with the slow down in buyer activity?  We had experienced increases in the number of closed transactions til May 2012, but saw a drop in June, and I would expect another drop for July as activity has been slow so far this month.
It is actually getting easier to obtain financing, and most buyers know that pricing probably won’t continue to go down since 2010 & 2011 were the worst real estate years for our state in 15 years, and Arkansas prices actually increased by around 1% (not much, but better than the other alternative).
I did some recent research on my own to see what is going on.  Here is what I found out.
The number of buyers to active listings in January 2012 was 1 buyer for every 2 listings.  We experienced a huge January 2012.  For June 2012, it is 1 buyer per every 6.25 active listings.  Wow!  The listings are out there, but the buyers have shut it down!  I couldn’t understand why, but my guess was the economy and current policy.  Didn’t have any proof, until this survey was released today.

Secret Weapon to Boosting Home Values

Secret Weapon to Boosting Home Values
A recent study came out from the Center for American Progress, showing that home values in an area can get a big boost by reducing the amount of violent crimes in that area.  Communities that reduce violent crimes by 10 percent could potentially see billions of dollars in home price appreciation for the community or about a 0.8 percent increase in home prices, the study says.
Researchers found that reducing murders in a particular ZIP code followed a “predictable and significant increase in housing values in the same ZIP code in the next year.” For example, reducing crime by one homicide in a ZIP code in a year can lead to a home price jump of 1.5 percent for the next year, according to the study. Researchers also found that reducing homicides by 25 percent could lead to an estimated 2.1 percent increase in housing prices over the next year.
“The basic idea is that crime has a big negative effect on property values, and if you do a cost-benefit analysis, it will be a good investment and the impact on home values is statistically significant and very large,” Kevin Hasset, director of Economic Policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute, said during a conference call.
What’s more, the study finds that a 10 percent decrease in homicides and increase in home values could also drastically expand a community’s revenues from property taxes.
Wow, what a coincedence!  On June 11, 2012, Little Rock was ranked as the 6th Most Dangerous City in America due to violent crimes!
6. Little Rock, Ark. Violent crimes per 1,000: 14.9
Our city officials had better find a way to lower the violent crimes in our communities by finding ways to lower the poverty rates, lower unemployment, and increase the household median income, or our local housing market is going to have an even harder time recovering.

Homes for Heroes Program is now available in Little Rock and North Little Rock

Homes for Heroes Program is now available in Little Rock and North Little Rock
Guess who is Little Rock & North Little Rock’s newly appointed real estate agent to the Homes for Heroes Program?  That’s right, I recently became the official REALTOR with a national program called Homes for Heroes®.
Homes for Heroes® is an organization that was formed after the tragic events of 9/11 as a way say “Thank You” to the heroes of our nation.  It is an organization that gives back to our local heroes who include, but are not limited to: Military personnel, Police/Peace Officers, Firefighters, First Responders, Teachers, and Health Care Workers.  This program allows me to give back to my local community heroes by giving them discounts and rebates when they buy or sell homes, commercial real estate, or land with me.
We also have other professional affiliates that are willing to give back to our local heroes creating a well rounded savings package for our community heroes that continues to give back to them even after they close.  These include, but are not limited to: insurance companies, home inspectors, pest inspectors, title companies, stagers, contractors and other local businesses.
So get the word out!  Homes for Heroes® is available to our local heroes anywhere in the United States and you may be a hero or know of a hero that would benefit from this program.  This program does not stop at giving back when our heroes utilize our services.  We also offer the Homes for Heroes Foundation®.  The Homes for Heroes Foundation® is a public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its mission is to provide or coordinate financial assistance and housing resources to our Nation’s Heroes such as Military personnel, Police/Peace Officers, Firefighter and First Responders who demonstrate neediness.
For more information about Homes for Heroes® or the Foundation, please log onto www.HomesForHeroes.com. For your convenience please see the frequently asked questions attached.
This is where you, or a loved one who is active or a retired, can register for more information. Or you may contact me, Scott Deaton with Deaton Group Realty at 501-580-9151 or email: scottadeaton@sbcglobal.net or website: www.ScottDeaton.com