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Projects That Make Homeowners Happier

Certain home remodeling projects are making homeowners happier and proving to be well worth the cost and time when they sell their properties, according to a new survey from the National Association of REALTORS®.

After completing a home remodeling project, 74% of more than 2,100 consumers surveyed reported having a greater desire to be in their home, 65% say they experienced increased enjoyment, and 77% felt a major source of accomplishment, the 2019 Remodeling Impact Report shows. Researchers examined 20 projects and surveyed REALTORS® and consumers on home renovation projects.

NAR calculated a “joy score” for each home remodeling project studied. The score, a scale from one to 10, is based on homeowners’ overall perceived happiness with their renovations. The higher the joy score for the project, the more homeowners felt satisfaction from it.

Some of the highest joy scores for interior projects centered on complete kitchen renovations, closet renovations, full interior and interior room paint jobs, kitchen upgrades, and basement conversions to living areas.

The exterior jobs with the highest joy scores were new fiberglass or steel front doors, new vinyl and wood windows, and new roofing.

Mortgage Rates Likely to Go Lower in 2020

In the last month, mortgage rates have fallen to their lowest monthly averages in more than three years, and economists predict they’ll stay there well into 2020—and even possibly lower.

The lower rates are translating into savings for home buyers. For example, the average borrower taking out a $300,000 mortgage is unlocking savings of about $225 on their monthly payments, or about $2,700 per year, CNBC reports. Freddie Mac economists predict that 30-year rates will average 3.7% in the fourth quarter of 2019, Fannie Mae predicts rates to average 3.9%, and the Mortgage Bankers Association is forecasting a 3.8% average.

Next year, according to Fannie Mae, rates could drop as low as 3.4%.

Homeowners Show Preference for DIY Renovations

Eighty percent of homeowners anticipate taking on a home improvement project in the next year, and more than 70% of that group plans to do the work themselves, according to a new survey from Chase Home Lending. The top motivators for sprucing up a home include adding value to the property, creating a comfortable space for family and entertainment, and accommodating a DIY hobby, the survey of 1,000 homeowners found.

“More and more, homeowners are taking matters into their own hands by doing the work themselves,” says Amy Bonitatibus, chief marketing and communications officer for Chase Home Lending. “While cash is still king, we are seeing an increase in the number of people who are taking advantage of the recent drop in rates and paying for their renovations by tapping into the equity in their home.”

About 58% of respondents say they plan to spend up to $10,000 on their home remodeling project; 21% intend to spend $10,000 to $25,000; and 21% say they will spend at least $25,000. Many homeowners say they plan to use a mix of cash, savings, credit cards, and home equity lines of credit or a cash-out refinance to pay for their updates.

Read more HERE.

Buyers Give Fireplaces the Cold Shoulder

Fewer new homes are being built with a fireplace, a sign the cold-weather amenity is falling out of favor with home buyers. A record low percentage of newly constructed single-family homes—41%—last year included a fireplace, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the National Association of Home Builders. The share of single-family homes with fireplaces has been declining since 2015, the NAHB reports.

“An obvious explanation for the declining trend is that builders are foregoing fireplaces in some of their homes so they can bring them in at prices their customers can afford,” the NAHB reports on its Eye on Housing blog. “Keeping new homes affordable has become a considerable challenge lately.”

Fireplaces are usually considered a desirable amenity but not a must-have, the NAHB notes. Fifty-five percent of buyers rate gas-burning fireplaces as desirable, while 48% say the same of wood-burning fireplaces as desirable, according to the survey.

Designs That Do the Master Bedroom No Justice

Design experts say an uninviting master retreat could negatively affect resale value, so there’s more at stake in the bedroom design than a restful sleep.

“One thing to keep in mind is that form follows function, meaning the visual appearance of your bedroom comes second to bedroom functionality—especially since roughly one-third of your life is spent in your bedroom,” Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations at Power Home Remodeling in Chester, Pa., told realtor.com®.

Design experts shared with realtor.com® some of the most common bedroom design mistakes they see.

Could Your Listing’s Landscape Be Too Perfect?

There’s a such thing as having your curb appeal that appears too good. It could even scare off some buyers.

“I see many home buyers looking for yards that don’t require a lot of maintenance,” Monica Kemp, a real estate professional with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and a staging professional in Leesburg, Va., told realtor.com®. “It can be generational—a lot of younger, first-time buyers don’t want to be home all day gardening or dealing with the lawn.”

A large landscape filled with perfectly manicured, abundant flower beds may appear as too much work with upkeep for some potential home shoppers.

Read more HERE.

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