Long Island Real Estate and Community News

April 3, 2024

The Best Week To List Your House Is Almost Here

Are you thinking about making a move? If so, now may be the perfect time to start the process. That’s because experts say the best week to list your house is just around the corner.

A recent Realtor.com study looked at housing market trends over the past several years (with the exception of 2020, since it was an unusual year), and found the best week to put your house on the market this year is April 14-20:

“Every year, one week stands out from the rest as that perfect stretch of time when it’s great to be a home seller. This year, the week of April 14–20 is the best time to sell—that is, if sellers want to see lots of interest in their homes, sell quickly, and pocket some extra cash, according to Realtor.com® data.”

Here’s why this matters for you. While the spring market is a great time to sell no matter the week, this may be the peak sweet spot. And if you’ve been putting your plans on the back burner and waiting for the right time to act, this could be the nudge you need to make your move happen. As Hannah Jones, Senior Economic Research Analyst at Realtor.com explains:

“The third week of April brings the best combination of housing market factors for sellers. The best week offers higher buyer demand, lower competition [from other sellers], and fewer price reductions than the typical week of the year.”

But, if you want to get in on the action, you’ll need to move quickly and lean on the pros. Your local real estate agent is the perfect go-to when it comes to figuring out a plan to prep your house and get it on the market.

They’ll be able to offer advice to balance your target listing date with what you need to do from a repair and renovation standpoint. And they can walk you through exactly how to prioritize your list so you know what to tackle first.

For example, if your house is already in good shape, you’ll be able to really focus in on the smaller things that are easy to do and make a big impact. As an article from Investopedia says:

“You won’t have time for any major renovations, so focus on quick repairs to address things that could deter potential buyers.”

Here are some specific examples from that article:

Just remember, even if you’re not ready to list within the next couple of weeks, that’s okay. The window of opportunity doesn’t close when this week ends. Spring is the peak homebuying season and it’s still a seller’s market, so you’ll be in the driver’s seat all season long. 

Bottom Line

Ready to get the ball rolling? Let’s connect and schedule a time to go over your next steps.

Credits to Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Selling Your Home
March 21, 2024

Homeowners Today Have Options To Avoid Foreclosure

Even with the latest data coming in, the experts agree there’s no chance of a large-scale foreclosure crisis like the one we saw back in 2008. While headlines may be calling attention to a slight uptick in foreclosure filings recently, the bigger picture is that we’re still well below the number we’d see in a more normal year for the housing market. As a report from BlackKnight explains:

“The prospect of any kind of near-term surge in foreclosure activity remains low, with start volumes still nearly 40% below pre-pandemic levels.”

That’s good news. It means the number of homeowners at risk is very low compared to the norm.

But, there’s a small percentage who may be coming face to face with foreclosure as a possibility. That’s because some homeowners may have an unexpected hardship in their life, which unfortunately can happen in any market.

For those homeowners, there are still options that could help them avoid having to go through the foreclosure process. If you’re facing difficulties yourself, an article from Bankrate breaks down some things to explore:

  • Look into Forbearance Programs: If you have a loan from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be able to apply for this type of program. 
  • Ask for a loan modification: Your lender may be willing to adjust your loan terms to help bring down your monthly payment to something more achievable.
  • Get a repayment plan in place: A lender may be able to set up a deferral or a payment plan if you’re not in a place where you’re able to make your payment.

And there’s something else you may want to consider. That’s whether you have enough equity in your home to sell it and protect your investment.

You May Be Able To Use Your Equity To Sell Your House

In today’s real estate market, many homeowners have far more equity in their homes than they realize due to the rapid home price appreciation we’ve seen over the past few years. That means, if you’ve lived in your house for a while, chances are your home’s value has gone up. Plus, the mortgage payments you’ve made during that time have chipped away at the balance of your loan. That combo may have given your equity a boost. And if your home’s current value is higher than what you still owe on your loan, you may be able to use that increase to your advantage. Freddie Mac explains how this can help:

“If you have enough equity, you can use the proceeds from the sale of your home to pay off your remaining mortgage debt, including any missed mortgage payments or other debts secured by your home.”  

Lean on Experts To Explore Your Options

To find out how much equity you have, partner with a local real estate agent. They can give you an estimate of what your house could sell for based on recent sales of similar homes in your area. You may be able to sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner facing hardship, lean on a real estate professional to explore your options or see if you can sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

Credits to Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Selling Your Home
March 6, 2024

Why Access Is So Important When Selling Your House


If you’re gearing up to sell your house this spring, one of the early conversations you’ll have with your agent is about how much access you want to give buyers. And you may not realize just how important it is to make your house easy to tour.

Spring is the peak homebuying season, so opening up your house to as many showings as possible can really help you capitalize on all the extra buyer activity we see at this time of year.

Since buyer competition ramps up in the spring, buyers are going to want to move fast to see your house once they find your listing. And, if they see it and fall in love with it at a time they know they’re competing with other buyers, you may be more likely to get the offer you’re looking for on your home.

It’s understandable you want to keep the disruptions to your own schedule to a minimum, and you may be stressed about having to keep it clean, but it’s worth it. As an article from Investopedia explains:

If someone wants to view your house, you need to accommodate them, even if it inconveniences you. Clean and tidy the house before every single visit. A buyer won’t know or care if your house was clean last week. It’s a lot of work, but stay focused on the prize.”

To figure out what’s best for you, your agent will walk you through options like the ones below. This list breaks things down, starting with what’s most convenient for buyers and getting less buyer-focused as the list goes on:

  • Lockbox on the Door – A key is available via a lockbox, which makes it easy for agents to show the home to potential buyers. This gives the most flexibility because the key is on-site and convenient.
  • Providing a Key to the Home – An agent would have to stop by an office to pick up the key with this option. This is still pretty convenient for showings, but not quite as simple.
  • Open Access with a Phone Call – You allow a showing with just a phone call’s notice, which can be great for someone who sees your house while driving by.
  • By Appointment Only – This gives you a more advanced warning so you can get the house tidied up and be sure you have somewhere else you can go in the meantime. But it’s also a bit more restrictive.
  • Limited Access – You might go this route if you only want to have your house available on specific days or at certain times of day. But realize this is the most difficult and least flexible of the choices.

As an article from U.S. News Real Estate says:

“Buyers like to see homes on their schedule, which often means evenings and weekends. Plus, they want to be able to tour a home soon after they find it online, especially if they're competing with other buyers. If your home can be shown with little or no notice, more prospective buyers will see it. If you require 24 hours’ notice, they may choose to skip your home altogether.”

Your agent is going to help you find the right path forward based on your schedule and what’s working for other sellers in your area. And if you’ve got a hardline on granting buyers more access or have interested out of town buyers that just can’t be there in person, your agent will get creative and help you explore other options like video tours, virtual showings, and more.

Bottom Line

When it comes to selling your house, you want to be sure to get as much buyer activity as you can. Let’s connect to talk about which level of access helps make that possible.

Credits to Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Selling Your Home
Feb. 26, 2024

Kitchen Trends to Watch for in 2024



Watch for the fusion of nature, technology and personalization to make a bigger statement in kitchens, with attention to sustainability, functionality and aesthetics, says Jen Nash, head of design at Magnet,(link is externa U.K.-based kitchen retailer. Nash offers her predictions for the kitchen trends she expects to catch on in 2024, including: 

Black Kitchens

Over the last year, black has become Magnet’s fastest-growing cabinet color, posting a 112% uptick in sales. The term “black kitchens” has surged in online searches, receiving more than 40,500 monthly hits on Google searches, and “#blackkitchen” has generated more than 138 million views on TikTok. 

“A classic yet bold design statement, black kitchens offer enduring appeal and will stand the test of time in home design,” Nash says. Also, “the versatility of black allows for effortless pairing with various colors and materials, and its practicality shines through, as it conceals dirt, stains and scratches.”

Moving Beyond White


Meanwhile, white-and-gray kitchens are quickly becoming outdated. Magnet reports a 46% decline in sales involving the color scheme and an even larger drop for gray kitchens—down 56% compared to the previous year.

“The pervasive popularity of white-and-gray kitchens in recent years has made them less desirable,” Nash says. “Although these colors are acknowledged for their timeless appeal, they can give off a clinical feel.” Instead, homeowners in 2024 are looking for more daring designs that showcase their individuality by adding in personalized design choices, Nash adds. “White and gray fail to deliver the desired level of flair and personal expression homeowners are looking for.”

One-Wall Kitchen Layouts

L-shaped, U-shaped and galley-style kitchens have dominated design, but homeowners appear to be increasingly focused on optimizing their available space and, in some cases, downsizing. One-wall kitchens are seeing a surge in popularity, with Google searches up 170% over the last month alone, Magnet reports.

“There has been a misconception that links the practicality of a kitchen with its size,” Nash says. “The common assumption is the larger, the better. However, homeowners are beginning to realize that practicality and functionality hinge more on how space is utilized rather than sheer size.” 

Homeowners are prioritizing multifunctional use geared toward cooking, socializing and relaxation. One-wall kitchens allow homeowners to optimize their space by condensing the kitchen along a single wall and reallocating space to other purposes in the kitchen besides cooking. 

‘All in’ With Sustainability

Magnet predicts that sustainability will be at the forefront of kitchen design in 2024. “There will be a big emphasis on bringing the outdoors in, as well as an increased focus on environmental responsibility,” Nash says. “The use of recycled and natural materials, such as wood, stone and plant-based accents, will become commonplace and will create a sustainable environment that echoes the serenity of the outdoors.”

The sustainability trend moves beyond just aesthetics, however. Nash notes that water-saving fixtures and innovative waste management solutions also will emerge as “indispensable kitchen features that’ll transform the space into an eco-conscious sanctuary.”

Written by: Melissa Dittmann Tracey

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 16, 2024

Why So Many People Fall in Love with Homeownership

Chances are at some point in your life you’ve heard the phrase, home is where the heart is. There’s a reason that’s said so often. Becoming a homeowner is emotional.

So, if you’re trying to decide if you want to keep on renting or if you’re ready to buy a home this year, here’s why it’s so easy to fall in love with homeownership.

Customizing to Your Heart’s Desire

Your house should be a space that’s uniquely you. And, if you’re a renter, that can be hard to achieve. When you rent, the paint colors are usually the standard shade of white, you don’t have much control over the upgrades, and you’ve got to be careful how many holes you put in the walls. But when you’re a homeowner, you have a lot more freedom. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

“The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.”

Whether you want to paint the walls a cheery bright color or go for a dark moody tone, you can match your interior to your vibe. Imagine how it would feel to come home at the end of the day and walk into a space that feels like you.

Greater Stability for the Ones You Love Most

One of the hardest things about renting is the uncertainty of what happens at the end of your lease. Does your payment go up so much that you have to move? What if your landlord decides to sell the property? It’s like you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Jeff Ostrowski, a business journalist covering real estate and the economy, explains how homeownership can give you more peace of mind in a Money Geek article:

“Homeownership means you are the boss and have the biggest say in your lifestyle and family decisions. Suppose your kids are in public school and you don't want to risk having them change schools because your landlord doesn't renew your lease. Owning a home would remove much of the risk of having to move.”

A Feeling of Belonging

You may also find you feel much more at home in the community once you own a house. That’s because, when you buy a home, you’re staking a claim and saying, I’m a part of this community. You’ll have neighbors, block parties, and more. And that’ll give you the feeling of being a part of something bigger. As the International Housing Association explains:

“. . . homeowning households are more socially involved in community affairs than their renting counterparts. This is due to both the fact that homeowners expect to remain in the community for a longer period of time and that homeowners have an ownership stake in the neighborhood.”

The Emotional High of Achieving Your Dream

Becoming a homeowner is a journey – and it may have been a long road to get to the point where you’re ready to take the plunge. If you’re seriously considering leaving behind your rental and making this commitment, you should know the emotions that come with this owning a home are powerful. You’ll be able to walk up to your front door every day and have that sense of accomplishment welcome you home. 

Bottom Line

A home is a place that reflects who you are, a safe space for the ones you love the most, and a reflection of all you’ve accomplished. Let’s connect if you’re ready to break up with your rental and buy a home.

Credits to: Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 29, 2024

The Housing Market Just Showed a Sudden, Miraculous ‘Return to Normal’—Take a Look

 

What does the real estate market need after years of being first overheated during the COVID-19 housing boom and then effectively frozen by the high mortgage rates that followed? A run at plain old room temperature.

The market appeared to be heading in that more typical direction in the week ending Jan. 20.

“This past week, the housing market showed the early signs of a return to normal, with slowing median listing price growth, a growing inventory of homes for sale, and mortgage rates which have fallen more than a percentage point from their recent peak,” says Realtor.com® economic data manager Sabrina Speianu in her most recent analysis.

Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed-rate home loan ticked up to an average of 6.69% for the week ending Jan. 25, according to the latest Freddie Mac data. Yet that figure “has remained within a very narrow range over the last month,” says Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater. (Last week’s rate averaged 6.60%.)

With nearly two months of winter left, will buyers and sellers brave the cold to take advantage of a surprisingly temperate market?

We’ll explain what the latest housing market data means for anyone tempted to get off the sidelines and into the real estate game in the latest installment of “How’s the Housing Market This Week?

Where mortgage rates might be headed

All market watchers will be tuned in to see what the Fed does at its next meeting at the end of this month. Why? Because the Fed’s relentless raising of interest rates to tame ballooning inflation is what essentially triggered mortgage interest rates to double over the past two years.

Now, the Fed is poised to cut rates this year as inflation falls closer to its 2% goal. This will likely put pressure on mortgage rates to fall. However, those eagerly anticipated rate cuts aren’t likely until the spring or summer.

“Looking forward, recent employment and inflation data came in relatively strong, suggesting that the Fed will likely opt to hold the policy rate steady in their upcoming meeting,” explains Speianu. “Continued progress toward the 2% inflation rate target is expected, and this will eventually improve housing market conditions in 2024.”

Home prices finally budge

While the median home list price rose by 1.9% for the week ending Jan. 20 compared with the prior year, the growth in prices declined from the previous week. (The median listing hit $410,000 in December.)

This is good news for buyers who have been grappling with the high price hikes over the past few years. While prices are still rising, they’re doing so much more slowly than the double-digit price hikes experienced during the pandemic.

“Listing price growth appears to be cooling after reaching a 35-week high during the week ending Jan. 6,” says Speianu. “If this trend continues, homebuyers stand to benefit from a decline in mortgage rates and slower, moderate home price appreciation.”

The ongoing inventory uptick

The new year has brought a welcome trove of new homes for sale, which were a rare sight during a considerable stretch of last year.

New listings were up for the week ending Jan. 20 by 3.4% from one year ago. While this growth is less than last week’s 7% growth rate, “newly listed homes continue to rise above last year’s levels for the 13th week in a row,” notes Speianu.

Active listings (a measure of both old and new homes for sale) grew by 8.6% for the week ending Jan. 20 compared with the year prior. That marked an 11-week streak of annual growth.

And in promising news for buyers, there’s “no sign yet of a slowdown as growth in inventory,” says Speianu.

The case for not waiting for the spring market

Some buyers and sellers might be tempted to hold out for the busy spring housing market to kick into gear before getting off the proverbial bench.

Yet many home shoppers are already in the game—and snapping up properties.

The typical home flew off the listing pages four days faster in the week ending Jan. 20 than in the same period last year. (In December, homes spent an average of 61 days on the market.)

Chalk the faster pace of sales up to the influx of fresh listings and lower mortgage rates in a market filled with hungry buyers ready to pounce once they find homes they can afford.

Buyers ready to make the move and sellers who need another home to move to might want to act fast before prices—and the competition—rise even more.

“This year, the first few weeks of January are shaping up to look more like slower seasonal growth seen in the years 2017 to 2020, where listing prices begin to pick up later in February,” says Speianu.

Article from Realtor.com

Posted in Community News
Jan. 12, 2024

Ways Your Home Equity Can Help You Reach Your Goals

If you’ve owned your house for at least a couple of years, there’s something you’re going to want to know more about – and that’s home equity. If you’re not familiar with that term, Freddie Mac defines it like this:

“. . . your home’s equity is the difference between how much your home is worth and how much you owe on your mortgage.”

That means your equity grows as you pay down your home loan over time and as home values climb. While it’s true home prices dipped slightly last year, they rebounded and have been climbing in many areas since then. Here’s why that price growth is good news for you.

In the latest Equity Insights Report, Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains:

With price gains continuing to help homeowners build wealth, equity has reached a new high and regained losses that resulted from declines last year. And while the average U.S. homeowner gained over $20,000 in additional equity compared with the third quarter of 2022, some markets are seeing larger increases as price growth catches up.”

And that figure is just for the last year. To help you really understand how that number can add up over time, the report also says the average homeowner with a mortgage has more than $300,000 in equity. That much equity can have a big impact.

Here are a few examples of how you can put your home equity to work for you.

1. Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

If your current space no longer meets your needs, it might be time to think about moving to a bigger home. And if you’ve got too much space, downsizing to a smaller one could be just right. Either way, you can put your equity toward a down payment on something that fits your changing lifestyle.

2. Reinvest in Your Current Home

And, if you’re not ready to move just yet, you can use the equity you have to improve your current home. But it’s important to consider the long-term benefits certain upgrades can bring to your home’s value. A real estate agent is a great resource on which projects to prioritize to get the greatest return on your investment when you sell later on.

3. Pursue Personal Ambitions

Home equity can also serve as a catalyst for realizing your life-long dreams. That could mean investing in a new business venture, retirement, or funding an education. While you shouldn’t use your equity for unnecessary spending, using it responsibly for something meaningful and impactful can really make a difference in your life.

4. Understand Your Options to Avoid Foreclosure

While the number of foreclosure filings remains below the norm, there are still some homeowners who go into foreclosure each year. If you’re in a tough spot financially, having a clear understanding of your options can help. Equity can act as a cushion if you’re not able to make your mortgage payments on time.

Bottom Line

If you want to know how much equity you have in your home, let’s connect. That way you have someone who can do a professional equity assessment report on how much you’ve built up over time. Then let’s talk through how you can use it to help you reach your goals.

Credits to: Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 4, 2024

Support Seniors Struggling with Housing Challenges

Here are some facts from the report, Housing America's Older Adults 2023, that paint a daunting picture for seniors:

  • In 2021, an all-time high of nearly 11.2 million older adults spent more than 30% of their income on housing.
  • Fewer than 4% of U.S. homes were accessible and featured single-floor living, no-step entries, and wide hallways and doorways.
  • Caregiving is costly and in short supply. For example, long-term care services average over $100 per day, and when those costs are added to housing costs, only 14% of single people aged 75 and over can afford daily visits from a paid caregiver. Just 13% can afford to move to an assisted living facility.
  • Though accessibility modification programs exist, income limits and lack of awareness limit their impact.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and cohousing may solve some challenges, but local zoning laws often discourage them. Also, the "Village" model, a neighbor-to-neighbor network offering services like transportation, tech support, home repairs, and social events, helps with aging in the community. However, more communities need to adopt the model.
  • Climate change affects older adults, particularly those in spots vulnerable to significant weather-related damage like wildfires and hurricanes. Plus, insurers are pulling out or raising rates in such areas. Home upgrades like more efficient insulation, storm shutters, and fire-resistant roofs can lower risks. Still, older adults may need help—physical and financial—making improvements to adapt to climate-related dangers.

Article from SRES.realtor
Posted in Community News
Jan. 2, 2024

On the House: Why You Should Consider Buying a Home Before Mortgage Rates Fall

Q: Should I wait for mortgage rates to fall before I start looking for a home?

There are likely millions of aspiring homebuyers diligently biding their time until mortgage interest rates fall into the low 6%—or even 5%—range before they jump into the housing market.

However, doing so might wind up costing you more than if you’d bought when rates are higher. Waiting might even make it more difficult for you to find a home that meets your needs—and then beat out the competition to emerge with the winning bid.

On the surface, waiting for rates to fall might seem like a sound financial plan.

If rates fell from 7% to 6%, buyers would save just over $221 a month on the mortgage payment of a median-priced home. (This assumes a 20% down payment on a $420,000 home and financing through a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.) If rates dropped to 5%, they would save more than $430 a month.

However, if you’re considering entering, or reentering, the market once rates go down, you won’t be alone. Each time mortgage rates fall a half-point or a point, more buyers will be able to qualify for mortgages and larger loans. That’s going to lead to a whole lot more buyers competing for a limited number of homes for sale.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen what happens when demand exceeds supply: Bidding wars erupt, prices spike, and first-time buyers competing against investors and older buyers often lose out. Higher prices have the potential to wipe out any potential savings provided by lower mortgage rates.

We expect to see this play out again, provided the economy remains strong and there aren’t any unexpected catastrophes.

While lower rates could encourage more homeowners to list their homes, those properties are likely to be swarmed by buyers. Ironically, lower mortgage rates could worsen the housing shortage, especially if demand exceeds supply.

Whatever is listed—provided it’s in good condition, in an area where buyers want to be, and is priced well—could sell very quickly, like what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic when some homes sold in just a few days.

These are things that determined first-time buyers should consider. Rates have already fallen to an average 6.61% in the week ending Dec. 28, according to Freddie Mac. The Realtor.com® economic research team anticipates rates will drop even more to about 6.5% by this time next year. That is likely to entice many would-be buyers off of the sidelines.

Now, I’m not encouraging anyone who can’t comfortably afford the monthly payments at today’s rates to buy a home. I’m not a proponent of stretching financially to purchase a home you can barely afford. Homeownership is so much more expensive than most first-time buyers imagine. Expensive emergencies can strike at any moment—and will—and when they do, you’ll want to make sure you have enough in the bank to cover whatever might arise.

Instead, I would advise those who can’t afford a home just yet to continue saving and explore ways to increase your income, look into house hacking, and consider smaller homes and those located in cheaper areas.

For those who can afford today’s mortgage rates, it might be a good time to see what’s on the market. The very end and very beginning of the year have traditionally been slower, with less competition from other buyers. And while there’s often not as many homes for sale, motivated sellers might be more willing to negotiate if they don’t have multiple offers.

If you purchase today and rates go down a point or two, you can consider refinancing your mortgage. The process often costs a few thousand dollars, but it can save homeowners much more depending on how much rates have fallen.

Even if you wait until rates come down, getting prepared to become a homeowner now can give you an edge when the market heats up.

Try to save up what you can for a down payment, clean up your credit score so lenders will look more favorably on your application, and pay off debt so you can qualify for a larger loan.

You can also start touring homes and exploring neighborhoods. Check how much the homes you liked sold for and if they went for more than the asking price and how quickly they went under contract. This way you’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a home, how much you should expect to spend, and the communities in which you would like to live.

When the time comes to make an offer on a home, you will be ready.

Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 28, 2023

Start Small, Dream Big: 7 Expert Tips To Make Your Starter House Feel More Like a Forever Home

 

With mortgage rates continuing to hover around 7%, many starter homes purchased in the past few years are quickly becoming more permanent residences.

If you’re a first-time homeowner facing the possibility of staying longer than expected in your starter home, keep reading.

We spoke to home renovation experts to find out what projects are worth tackling in 2024 to make your fixer-upper feel more like a forever home.

Here are seven projects you should consider spending that Christmas bonus on to improve your quality of life and your home’s (eventual) resale value.

1. Apply fresh interior paint

Giving everything inside your home a fresh coat of paint isn’t just a staging trick—it’s something you can do while still living in your house to refresh the entire look and feel of the place.

“This year, we saw interior painting as the second most popular project in our annual State of Home Spending report after regular maintenance, and it’s a great affordable upgrade,” says Angie Hicks of Angi (formerly Angie’s List).

Hicks advises choosing colors according to how you’d like a room to feel rather than simply hopping on the latest color trends.

“A coat of paint can go a long way in making your home feel more like you—especially if you pick colors that inspire you,” says Hicks.

2. Invest in new appliances

Another home upgrade that will benefit you and make your home more valuable to its subsequent owners? Investing in new appliances.

“Getting new appliances was the third most popular project in 2023—a big change from 2022, when this project wasn’t even in the top 10,” says Hicks. “Getting an updated appliance that allows you specific features and a look you want—it’s a great upgrade that won’t need to break the bank.”

Another upshot of getting your new appliances now instead of in years past? The supply chain has gotten a lot better.

“In 2023, we also saw fewer delays from appliance suppliers than in recent years, which made it even easier for new homeowners to make this upgrade,” says Hicks.

3. Do a minor kitchen or bathroom remodel

When it comes to living in a starter home, two spaces tend to feel the most dated: kitchens and bathrooms. This is why smaller remodel projects in these rooms make No. 3 on our list.

“A super affordable upgrade that falls into this category is refinishing the cabinets,” says Abigail Baker of the home services group BELFOR Franchise. “Refinishing cabinets not only gets rid of the previous homeowner’s grease, grime, scratches, and dings but also allows you to refinish them to a color that better represents your style.”

Other ideas for your minor upgrades in these rooms? Consider redoing the tile, adding a new bathtub, or finally splurging on that farmhouse-style sink you’ve been eyeing.

4. Expand your deck

If you spend a lot of time outside your home, upgrading the deck can go a long way in how “forever” it feels.

“Adding a nice outdoor space where the family can hang out, where you can entertain guests, or dine al fresco can really be like adding additional square footage to your house,” says Baker.

The best part? Adding a deck doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, especially if you opt for wood instead of composite material.

A smaller deck between eight and 10 square feet starts at just $1,200, according to Fixr.

5. Install hardwood flooring

Speaking of wood-based upgrades, one of our favorite ways to make a starter home feel a bit more permanent is by upgrading its materials—like ripping out that old carpet and upgrading your floors.

“If you have old or outdated carpet in your home, installing some new hardwood floors can make it feel like a new home,” says Hicks. “It can bring increased resale value along with matching your aesthetic.”

6. Finish the basement

If you’ve got a basement that’s just gathering dust bunnies, now might be the time to invest in transforming it into a more livable space, like an in-law suite or entertainment den.

“While refinishing your basement is a large project, it comes with some great benefits—like a lot of extra space that can be used for an expanding family or guests,” says Hicks. “It also has a nice return on investment for a potential sale in the future.”

When planning your basement remodel, make it as livable as possible. This can be achieved by increasing the natural light with windows or a glass door, opening up the floor plan, and investing in high-quality flooring that will withstand moisture and colder temps.

7. Improve the curb appeal

Ultimately, how you feel about your home has a lot to do with what it looks like on the outside.

So go ahead and paint the door your favorite color, upgrade the porch with a few fun knickknacks, and even consider spending some of your hard-earned cash on leveling up your landscaping.

“Improving the landscaping around your home can have a dramatic impact on curb appeal and make you happier every time you pull into your driveway,” says Hicks. “Consider planting new garden beds, building raised beds, planting trees, or even upgrading your outdoor lighting.”

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