As the real estate market continues to rebalance, an interesting shift is occurring among homeowners. Not so long ago, a homeowner's goal was to sell and move to a larger home. Now the priority for many appears to be shifting. More and more homeowners are remodeling and upgrading. This focus has a variety of reasons.
The first reason is a rebate of up to $10,000 offered by the state of Alaska's Energy Rebate or Weatherization program for energy-efficient upgrades. The most common upgrade -- a new furnace -- can bring homeowners a sizeable refund covering a portion of the cost. You still have time to take advantage of the rebate, but you must follow the guidelines. For more information go to: www.ahfc.state.ak.us/energy/energy.cfm.
Another reason driving the remodel trend is a sluggish real estate market. Until the market turns around, many homeowners have turned their energy to maintaining the value of their current investment. However, the question is always what items to do first. To help you decide, here are a few ideas that we think will have the most impact.
• Consider replacing the entry and/or garage doors to enhance the exterior appearance with a fresh new look and create a great first impression on visitors. However, don't just buy what is on sale. Make certain to complement the style and color of the home.
• If you work in the garage, consider a garage door with windows or with extra insulation. Windows will let in more light for increased visibility, and the extra insulation will help keep the garage warmer in winter. Also consider splurging a little more for a quieter door opener to reduce the noise when opening and closing.
• New flooring and inside paint are always excellent ways to give your home a lift because of the large amount of visual surface covered. Since most Alaskans remove their shoes at the door, carpet is still preferred on the stairs and in bedrooms. Carpets cushion bare feet and provide additional warmth. Laminate or hardwood flooring is popular in living and family rooms for easy cleanup of higher-trafficked areas. Tile or stone are popular options in the foyer.
• Changing the home's exterior color can also give a needed face-lift. Depending on your budget, you can simply update the color scheme or re-side the home with pre-painted siding. The second option means that you or a future buyer not will have to worry about painting anytime soon.
The age of a home also contributes to the need for remodeling. Many of Anchorage's homes have reached the 20 to 30 year mark and need more remodeling than just cosmetic repairs to maintain value. At this age, the kitchen and baths need updating, and the roof likely needs replacing. A kitchen remodel, while expensive, is a justifiable expense; many people consider the kitchen the most important room of the house. Replacing the roof before a major problem develops will save you money in the long run.
Homeownership requires work to maintain property values. If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, but you are thinking of remodeling, now is the time to act; local new construction is still sluggish and contractors are looking for work. Many sellers have told us that they wished they had updated their homes sooner for their enjoyment, instead of when they were trying to sell to the next buyer.
Clair and Barbara Ramsey are local associate brokers specializing in residential real estate. Their column appears every month in the Anchorage Daily News. Their e-mail address is email@example.com.