Consumers Have Unreasonable Remodeling Budgets

Rising costs for construction materials and labor are making home improvement projects more expensive, yet too many homeowners are setting unrealistic budgets, according to the 2019 Kitchen and Bath Market Index report, which reflects second-quarter figures. The report, conducted jointly by the National Kitchen & Bath Association and John Burns Real Estate Consulting, is based on responses from 457 NKBA members.

The availability of skilled professionals, cost of materials, and trade issues top the list of overall challenges among contractors, according to the NKBA/John Burns report. A lack of skilled workers is the top concern among building and construction firms, while designers point to a slowing luxury market and shift to lower price points as the biggest barriers to growth.

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Fail to Shop Around for Mortgage, It’s Your Loss

More than a third of home buyers say they did not shop around before selecting their mortgage lender, according to new findings from Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey. That may mean they’re missing out in thousands of dollars in savings.

Comparison shopping for a mortgage can also be time-consuming and complicated. “Simply evaluating the ‘price’ of a mortgage involves looking at several interrelated components—including rates, fees, and points—and making an assumption about how long a borrower will stay in that mortgage,” Duncan notes. “While it’s easy to find ‘teaser’ rates advertised online, a true mortgage quote is based on a handful of variables that are unique to each buyer and evaluated differently by each lender.”

Credit history, down payment, and the ratio of monthly debt payments to income are usually given the most weight in determining a mortgage offer.

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How Many Homeowners Have the Amenities They Want?

Most buyers have to face a hard reality: They can’t expect to get everything they want in the home they buy. There often have to be some compromises—but those compromises don’t have to lead to regret.

Porch.com, a home remodeling website, surveyed more than 990 homeowners to learn how their expectations match up to the reality of homeownership. The majority of current homeowners ranked having a backyard, central heating, and central air as the most desirable amenities, and most say they got all of that with the home they purchased. But the top homeowner regrets after a purchase also include a lack of desirable amenities (58.3%); configuration and layout of their home (56.3%); and location of the home (49.4%).

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Some Buyers Feel Pressured to Overspend on Housing

Twelve percent of Americans say they felt pressured to spend more than they were comfortable with on a home in order to appear successful in the eyes of others, according to a new Bankrate.com survey of more than 2,700 adults.

Parents with children under the age 18 (at 21%) were most likely to have felt pressured to overspend on a house, according to the survey. Buyers between the ages of 23 and 38 were twice as likely as those older than 38 to spend beyond their comfort zone—18% and 9%, respectively.

Real estate isn’t the only area where adults report feeling peer pressure to overspend. The survey found that 49% of Americans also feel pressure to overspend on clothing, shoes, jewelry, dining out, and cars. The most common sources of peer pressure come from friends (37%), followed by spouses or significant others (30%), extended family (25%), and children (23%), according to the survey.

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Renovations With the Worst ROI

Some of the most popular renovations, such as a kitchen remodel or landscape upgrade, are likely to cost your sellers more than they’ll get back at resale. And a major mistake sellers make when undertaking home improvement is tailoring the project to their own personal tastes without considering potential resale value, Alex Lavrenov, a broker with Warburg Realty in New York, told Forbes.com. Some costly renovations may even hurt your sellers’ chances of attracting offers at all.

When a homeowner remodels, he or she should keep in mind the impact of the work on a potential sale. Amanda Lauren from Forbes.com recently interviewed real estate professionals to highlight remodeling projects that likely won’t add value to a home.

This Can Kill a Sale No Matter How Beautiful the Home

The home may look great, but if you don’t get this one thing right, buyers won’t be buying, real estate pros say. And that all centers around the smell—the sense that too many home sellers neglect to pay attention to.

Some home sellers may be noseblind to their home’s scent, and they need the real estate professional to offer a fresh unbiased opinion.

“One of the easiest ways to evoke pleasant feelings about a space is to enhance the way it smells,” Ben Creamer, a managing broker in Chicago, told realtor.com®. “It’s often the first thing a person will notice upon entering a space—and it’s one of the things that, when done poorly, can kill a sale no matter how beautiful the home.

To freshen up the smell, scrub all surfaces, wash all rugs, and have the carpets cleaned, suggests Barb Boehler, a real estate professional in Madison, Wis. “Until this is done, you’ll only be masking smells,” she says.

Real estate professionals offer some of the following tips.

Don’t Overlook Your Kitchen’s Design Star

Kitchen islands have become the focal point in many homes, and there are plenty of reasons why real estate pros are spotlighting them in their listings.

Kitchens have transformed into multifunctional spaces in recent years, and the kitchen island is turning it into a social gem. “The island gives families with children the opportunity to combine cooking, homework and socializing, the latter being especially valuable,” Lene Halse Hornemann, designer and owner of Multiform Design Center Copenhagen, told Houzz. “And for couples whose children have moved away from home, it’s the idea that one person can cook and the other can sit with a glass of wine on a bar stool by the island and enjoy the moment.”

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