Home improvements that make your home more valuable

(BPT) – More and more homeowners are embarking upon home improvement projects, spending nearly $200 billion a year on home renovations, according to the National Association of Home Builders. If you’re looking to make some home improvements without breaking the bank, spend smartly and invest time and money now into the projects that will pay back later.

Curb appeal

When it comes to first impressions, house hunters first notice curb appeal, or lack thereof. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, curb appeal is important to 71 percent of homebuyers. So beautify the outdoor space to attract possible buyers by focusing on small exterior improvements that’ll pay off big like planting seasonal shrubs, painting the front door, refreshing a rusty mailbox or replacing old porch lighting with updated fixtures. These minor details will make a major and lasting statement. At the very least, you should clean the yard of any debris, trim trees and spread mulch in planting beds.

Take outdoor renovations to the next level by transforming the look of your home completely with a fresh coat of paint. Be mindful of your home’s location when selecting paint colors. Bold or bright colors might be the norm in Florida but wouldn’t look right in a region like the Pacific Northwest where neutral earth tones are popular.

You can also increase the value of your home by giving your siding material an overhaul. Remodeling magazine suggests replacing aluminum and vinyl siding with a durable fiber-cement mixture, which will recoup about 88 percent of its cost upon resale. It resists fire, rotting, moisture and termites – all potential hazards that could otherwise end up costing thousands.

“Let your insurance agent know whenever you complete a renovation project to make sure any new upgrades to your home are properly covered under your existing policy. If not, your agent can work with you to make sure you get the coverage you need,” says Erie Insurance Vice President and Product Manager Joe Vahey. “In addition, some home improvement upgrades may entitle you to discounts, especially if renovations make the home safer or more secure.” For example, Erie Insurance offers discounts for installing smoke alarms or a central station alarm. Erie also provides a discount for installing sprinkler systems in your home.

Bed, bath and beyond

As house hunters head indoors, there are a few things that are likely to increase a sale. Most tend to look at kitchens and baths first. Experts recommend timeless fixtures instead of trendy ones since they hold their own over time and appeal to buyers who favor both contemporary and classic looks. Don’t waste your money on fancy fixtures and features – they rarely make or break a sale.

Most people seem to think that a huge kitchen overhaul is necessary to snag interested buyers. However, Remodeling Magazine reports that you’ll actually recoup 8.5 percent more of the costs of a minor kitchen renovation compared to a major kitchen renovation. So instead of redoing the kitchen completely, accomplish a few minor DIY kitchen updates like changing out faucets and lighting fixtures, painting cabinets, adding new hardware to drawers and cabinets, and replacing old appliances with newer (and often more energy-efficient) models.

Experts also say that adding an attic bedroom and finishing the basement are two of the largest renovations that give you the best return on your investment, allowing you to recoup more than 84 percent and nearly 78 percent of the cost, respectively.

Before jumping into complicated or expensive DIY projects, take a moment to assess which ones are worth your time and money. Test your knowledge of which home improvement projects give you the most bang for your buck at www.eriesense.com.

No matter what updates you end up doing, it’s always a good idea to regularly assess the value of your home. This will assure you’re asking for an appropriate return on investment when you finally decide to put it on the market.

5 steps that can improve your credit score in 100 days or less

(BPT) – Low interest rates, a strong economy and the turn of the seasons are all causing the real estate market to heat up. More homes on the market bring more competition to buy the inventory that is out there. And one way to stand apart from other buyers who are vying for their dream home is to take steps to improve your credit score now.

“Preparing your finances is a must before the busy real estate season,” says Barrett Burns, president and CEO of credit score model developer VantageScore Solutions. “Knowing your credit scores and making improvements is essential to getting the best loan at the best rates. This also makes you a more attractive home buyer, especially in a competitive market.”

With limited time, you may think there’s nothing you can do to improve your score. Burns says that’s an incorrect assumption. While you can’t make dramatic jumps in just a couple months, there are several steps you can take that may influence your score to increase enough to get you prequalified for the loan you want.

Keep in mind, lenders will pull your scores from all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), so it’s wise to check your credit report from each of them. You can do so for free once every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. For best results, monitor at least one credit score from each of the bureaus. You also can check your credit score for free through a large number of online services, such as CreditKarma.com, NerdWallet.com or Credit.com. Other sites offering free VantageScore credit scores can be found at VantageScore.com/free.

Once you have your reports in hand, you can take steps that may have a positive impact on your scores.

Step 1: Check for errors

A credit report gives a comprehensive list of your lines of credit and payment history. The first step is to review your credit report for errors and take steps to make corrections, including past and present names, loan amounts and credit cards in your name.

When checking your credit score, bear in mind that some differences in credit scores across bureaus is normal. But if one of the three credit scores is an extreme outlier, it could be worth double-checking your credit report from that bureau to make sure it doesn’t reflect any questionable or erroneous activity.

Step 2: Don’t miss a payment

Creditors are interested in seeing how you manage credit, and the consistency of behavior counts. You should always pay at least the minimum amount due on bills on time every month. An easy way to ensure you don’t miss a payment is to sign up for automatic bill pay when available.

Step 3: Lower credit utilization levels

Credit utilization is the ratio of a credit card balance to the credit limit. If your balance is $5,000 and your credit limit is $10,000, then your credit utilization for that credit card is 50 percent. In general, a good credit utilization is less than 30 percent, so if you have a higher ratio, consider using your tax refund to pay down this debt.

Step 4: Don’t close old credit cards

If you have a credit card that is no longer used but was previously paid off on time each month, don’t close the account. Not only is this good for your credit utilization ratio, but it also is another indicator you’re a responsible candidate for a loan.

Step 5: Don’t apply for new credit

Avoid applying for any new credit, such as an auto loan or a new credit card account, between now and the time you will close on a home purchase. Lenders considering your loan application request your credit score from one or more credit bureaus. And these lender “inquiries” are recorded with one or more of the three national credit bureaus, which may lower your credit score by 10 to 20 points. The score decreases typically only last a few months, as long as you continue to make payments on time. But unless they’re absolutely necessary, try to avoid additional inquiries until after you’ve secured your mortgage.

If you follow these five steps, you may see an increase in your score within a few months so you can get a loan and be an attractive buyer when it comes time to put in a bid for your dream home.

Keep in mind, the more you can put toward the down payment, the more instant equity you’ll have, the lower your monthly payment will be, and the better your chances are of not needing private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly payment.

Plus, if you’re able to put down more than a lender requires, a mortgage company may be willing to give you a pass on other issues on your application, such as a less-than-stellar credit score.


Contact Teresa if you have questions or need more information about credit, 614-565-8161 or Teresa@TeresaButler.com

Are You Really Ready to Sell?

I love to sell homes. It’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of the process. I get great satisfaction from making my living helping people move on to the next phase of their life, whether it’s upsizing, downsizing, or simply relocating to a new neighborhood.

But there is one sort of home seller I can’t really help: The seller who’s not really ready to sell.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, don’t enter into the process lightly. It’s a big deal. There’s some stress and there’s a great opportunity for joy. There’s a big investment at stake. This, along with a lot of other reasons large and small, is why you want to be 100% sure you’re ready to sell your home. If you think you’re ready to sell, but it turns out you’re not, you waste a lot of time and energy (and sometimes money).

So how do you know if you’re really ready to sell your home?

  1. You’re fine with the process. You must have no problem with the idea of a stranger poking around your house, talking about renovating it, or treating it like a used car. If you’ve lived in your house a long time, it’s natural to have emotional attachments. So if the process of selling the house makes you feel protective or defensive, you may not be ready.


  1. You are flexible on the right price. Motivated sellers understand selling a home involves negotiation and competitive market pricing. If you have a number “you must get” in order to sell, then you might want to think again. Also, if all of the agents who price your home come back too low for your standards, take a breather and ask yourself if it’s go time or not.


  1. You know where you’re going next. Prepared sellers have plans, even if those plans aren’t 100% firm. They’re anticipating the move and they are probably even shopping for houses, if only casually at the moment. If you can’t clearly answer the question, “Where would you like to live after you sell?” then you’re not quite there yet.

If you’re iffy on any of these, take a step back and consider how you feel. While some markets favor sellers more than others, a home can sell in any market for the right price. Don’t jump into something before you’re ready.

However, when you’re ready, I’d be happy to help. Give me a call when the time is right:

Teresa Butler



These Affordable Home Remodeling Ideas can Add to Your Home’s Resale Value

If you’re on a budget, that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your home. While it’s true that home remodeling can be expensive in general, there are affordable home remodeling ideas that you can implement. Don’t underestimate these affordable home remodeling ideas. They will do a great job of improving how your home looks. They can also improve your quality of life.

With these things in mind, it’s easy to see why they add to your home’s resale value. This is why they’re a good investment. They can benefit you now with a better home and later on with a higher resale value.

Affordable Home Remodeling Ideas to Consider

Consider these home remodeling ideas if you’re on a budget:

  • Garage door replacement

Your garage door is one of the first things that other people see so it makes sense to make sure that it always looks good. Garage doors deteriorate due to normal wear and tear. In addition, they’re regularly exposed to the elements. In addition to deteriorating in appearance, they also deteriorate in functionality.

You can invest in a garage door replacement. Based on the national average, you’re expected to spend $1,595 for a garage door replacement. In addition to having a better looking door that’s back to 100% capacity, this project adds an average of $1,410 to your home’s resale value.

  • Vinyl siding replacement

Vinyl is one of the most affordable siding types available. For just $12,013, you can have vinyl siding replaced. Choose from the wide variety of styles and colors available for a new look for you home.

You can recoup 80.7% of your investment because it adds $9,694 to your home’s resale value. More importantly, you can benefit from having new siding since it can protect your home better and will also improve your home’s curb appeal.

  • Wooden deck addition

For more quality time, you can have a wooden deck installed. Your family will love it. You can even use it to entertain guests. Best of all, it will improve your home’s appeal. This explains why a $10,048 investment will add $8,085 to your home’s resale value.

  • Kitchen remodel

This is more expensive. A minor remodeling project will cost you $19,226. However, this will add $15,255 to your home’s resale value.

Besides, you have to consider how a remodeled kitchen is going to help you. You and your family spend a lot of time in the kitchen so it’s time to give it an upgrade. You’ll go back to loving your time in your kitchen as you prepare meals for your family and guests. With a remodeled kitchen, you’ll feel better inviting guests over.

Other Home Remodeling Ideas

There are other affordable home remodeling ideas shown in this infographic by Contractor Quotes. This infographic also shows more expensive home remodeling ideas but it will show how much of your investment you can recoup on average.

Prepare for Your Move

Moving is shown to be one of the most stressful situations a person can be put through and things can get even more stressful if you wait until the last minute to plan and organize your move. It is important to hire a Columbus real estate agent and movers, or at least ask for help from your family and friends ahead of time. You can also prepare for your move by renting from a Columbus self storage facility in your area. Be sure to get all of these things out of the way early so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.

A good moving day tip is to check the weather forecast. It is obviously best to move during the late Spring and early Fall if possible in order to avoid the Summer heat and cold Winters. If the weather is predicted to turn sour on your moving day, be prepared with shovels, salt, umbrellas and extra clothes if need be.

Not only is moving day a huge stress on you but it can be especially stressful and crazy for kids and pets. Be sure to make necessary arrangement with baby sitters, neighbors and friends if possible. Any distraction for your little ones and pets should keep them relatively calm during the move.

Once you have your storage unit reserved and movers scheduled, it is then time to pick up the rest of your supplies. No matter how much you think moving will cost or how much time it will take, it will always be more. Be sure to save extra cash for moving supplies such as tape, bubble wrap, boxes, food and drinks. Most movers will have dollies, blankets and extra boxes if you ask them but be prepared to pay for those as well.

Be sure to label each box prior to placing it on the moving truck so you can find items quickly and easily later. Putting a label on each box will save you a lot of time once you are prepared to unload the truck and you will know exactly what is in each box and where it goes.

Lastly, make sure to contact the utility and service providers in your new home as well as your old home. The last thing you need to worry about is if your new residence has power and water when you get there. You also don’t want to be charged for your old place when you aren’t there.

These few moving tips will have you less stressed on your big day. Be sure to check SelfStorageFinders.com to find local storage facilities in your area.

Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal with a New Fence


Summer is an ideal time to tackle outdoor renovation projects. From driveway paving to sidewalk repair, the fair weather can be an ideal time to not only enjoy the outdoors, but take some time to improve the curb appeal and value of your home.

One common outdoor project? A new fence. Whether you’re looking to install a decorative wooden garden fence, a chain link border for your pets, or a substantial privacy fence, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind before you begin:

  1. A permit may be required for fence construction. These may be issued by your county or your city, depending on where you live.
  2. The size of fence may dictate need for permit. Some communities do not require permits for smaller fences.
  3. If your fence shares a border with your neighbor, certain permits may require proof of your neighbor’s consent, plus plans and/or drawings that detail how you’ll go about building your fence.
  4. Permit fees for fences can range anywhere from $20 to above $100. If you use a company to build your fence, often they will secure the permits for you (but you’ll still be on the hook for the permitting fee).
  5. You’ll need to know how much concrete to buy for your fencepost footings. One easy way to figure this out is use this handy online concrete calculator: http://www.calculator.net/concrete-calculator.html
  6. Check YouTube for helpful fence tutorials, such as this handy and professional video produced by Lowe’s:


Best of luck with your summer project!

If you’re looking for a home with more land or new fences installed already, give me a shout. I can help you find the ideal property: Teresa@TeresaButler.com

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