Top 15 Home Updates #8

Top 15 Home Updates #8

#8 Deck, Patio or Porch Addition!
Average return at resale: 90.3 Percent

•Adding a 16×20 ft. pressure-treated wood deck with a simple pattern costs about $11,000. At resale, you’ll get about $10,000 of that back, a recoup rate of 90 percent.

•One simple but effective trick — add eye-appeal with decorative planters on the front porch, patio and decks.

•Give a courtyard an impressive entry with an inviting gate, lighting and mature plantings. These small improvements will have a big impact at closing.

•Use bold plantings to emphasize features, or to distract the eye from flaws.

•Run-down stairs lower your profit margin, so make sure porch railings are safe and attractive.

•And here’s an easy tip — camouflage unattractive air conditioning units with a wooden trellis.

•In the West, the recoup rate reaches nearly 100 percent, but it falls to 83 percent in the South.

This is one of our favorite updates, especially for the Summer!

Top 15 Home Updates #9

Top 15 Home Updates #9

#9 Basement Remodel!

Average return at resale: 90.1 Percent

  • The average basement remodel costs just over $51,051 and returns $46,010, so you’ll recoup about 90 percent of the cost.
  • What do you get for $51,051? A 20 x 30 entertaining area with wet bar, a 5×8 bath, recessed lighting and a laminate floor.
  • Finishing the walls is a must – but here’s an important tip: Keep dry wall panels a half-inch away from concrete floors, so they don’t show moisture.
  • Always fix flooding problems first. Add French drains, bigger gutters or re-slope the yard to keep water out. Test to make sure the fixes work before investing time or materials in a basement.
  • Want just the wet bar? Buy 10 linear feet of cabinets, a laminate countertop, a stainless steel drop-in bar sink and an under-counter refrigerator for about $2,500.
  • Cover concrete floors with an easy-to-install modular subfloor so floors won’t be cold. Add carpet squares with a traction backing for an amazing transformation.
  • In the West, basement remodels return 108 percent of cost, in the Midwest, 73 percent.


Isn’t this basement absolutely gorgeous?

How to Fix an Error on your Credit Report!

4 Steps on How to Fix an Error on your Credit Report!


STEP 1: Call the creditor that reported the erroneous information to the credit-reporting agency!

The customer service phone number should be listed in the credit report. Explain that you wish to dispute something that the company has reported and to speak with the appropriate person. Briefly and calmly explain why you disagree with the report listing.

STEP 2: Follow up your phone call with a certified letter and return receipt requested to the creditor!

This letter should reiterate that you are disputing a specific piece of information and briefly explain why it is incorrect. Keep this letter short and simple and also attach photocopies of any evidence you have to defend your position.\

STEP 3: Call the creditor again, and again and again if necessary!

Until you reach someone willing to help, if your initial complaint is rejected. Do your best to stay calm and patient when you call. Getting angry reduces the odds that someone will want to help you out.

STEP 4: Send the credit-reporting agency a certified letter and return receipt requested, disputing the erroneous information too!

Again, this letter should be short and simple. Why send a letter to the reporting agency when you already have raised the matter with the creditor? If the creditor agrees with your complain and changes its records, this letter ensures that the agency will learn of the change as well.

***Definitely keep copies of all you correspondence and enclosures and detailed notes of your conversations–including names of the people you speak with!

Changes for a Safer Life!

Changes for a Safer Life! 

Seven Decades of Public Health Initiatives- 

In the last 75 years, the life expectancy of Americans has jumped dramatically.Out ability to enjoy longer, healthier lives has much to do with advances in public health and safety.

Buckling Up!

Although it is estimated that seat belts reduce the risk for death from car accidents by nearly 50%, they were not required in new vehicles until 1974. In 1985, Michigan enacted its first seat belt law which skyrocketed seat belt use in the state from 20% to 58%! By 2009, Michigan was the first state to achieve 97.9% seat belt use – the nation’s highest!

Kicking the Habit!

Smoking used to be the norm – in homes, offices, airports, restaurants and elevators. However in 1964, the Surgeon General issued a report on the health risks of smoking. Our nation gradually began to kick the habit with the help of education campaigns and restrictions on public smoking. Today, only about 18% of people still smoke, down from approximate 50% in 1964!

Protecting Workers!

In the early 20th Century, severe injuries and death related to manufacturing,  mining, construction and transportation were very common. New protection put in place in the 1970’s changed that. Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), setting safety standards for workers. Since 1980, the rate of fatal occupational injuries in the U.S. has dropped by about 40%.

Preventing the Dangers!

In 1942, a fire in a Boston nightclub claimed the lives of almost 500 people and changed fire laws in our country. Since then, codes regarding exit signs, egress doors, flammable materials and more have greatly improved fire safety.

Top 15 Home Updates #7

Top 15 Home Updates #7!

#7 Major Kitchen Remodel!
Average return at resale: 91 percent

•A complete kitchen remodel in a mid-range home averages $43,862 and returns $39,920 at resale. That price buys 30 ft. of cabinets, an island, laminate counter-tops, stainless sink, wall oven, cook top, vinyl flooring and appliances.

•If your home’s value rises and your kitchen’s finishes don’t, do a major remodel rather than small fix-ups. Budget 10 to 15% percent of your home’s value remodeling the kitchen.

•Kitchens feel bigger when there are fewer obstacles. Removing cabinets over a counter gives a wide open feel. Make those counter-tops truly useful by creating an eating bar.

•An eat-in kitchen is a big plus – give it a deluxe touch with a built in banquet or bench and nice pillows.

•Local granite dealers that sell (or even give away) remnants then charge for cuts and installation can be a bargain option if you need 8 feet or less of counter-top.

•Planning to sell? Stick with neutral colors for walls and window treatments. Remodeling to please yourself? Choose colors you love.

•Tin ceiling tiles make an affordable, custom back-splash.

•Put your home in the best light. Perk up a dark kitchen with French doors that’ll let the sun shine in.

44.57% of people say they spend about 2-3 hours in their kitchen! So make sure you love your kitchen and feels like home!

Top 15 Home Updates #6

Top 15 Home Updates #6

#6 Major Bathroom Remodel!

Average return at resale: 93.2 percent

•A major bathroom remodel involves expanding an existing 5-by-7-foot bathroom, relocating and replacing the tub and toilet and adding designer sinks and faucets, a linen closet, lighting, a ceramic tile floor and exhaust fan for a cost of $26,052, which brings in $24,286 at resale.

•Start at the bottom. Dated flooring can seriously drag down value. Replace old floors with fresh tile in ceramic or stone for a solid payoff. Buy extra tiles in case you break a few during installation. Set some tiles aside at the end of the job in case you need to make repairs in the future.

•Give an old vanity a face-lift with a new counter-top for a clean fresh look buyers will love.

•Use eye-fooling tricks to make a small bath look larger. A new pedestal sink is a smart replacement for an old cabinet. The smaller footprint gives the illusion of space.

Tips on How to Stay Cool this Summer!

Today we are taking a break on our Top 15 Home Updates and giving

Tips on How to Stay Cool this Summer!


It is all about the Windows!

Close your curtains and blinds, ideally with a sun-deflecting white on the window side.That will actually help reduce the amount of heat that passes through your home by up to 45 percent! Another great tip comes from rangers in Death Valley, Calif. “Hang a damp sheet across an open window, so that when the breeze comes in, it will cool you and your entire home.”

Air-Dry Everything!

Machines use so much heat, and during the summer, you just don’t want to add that to your house. Instead, let dishes air-dry after running a wash cycle, and hang your clothes on the line after doing a load of laundry to avoid the excess heat from the dryer.

Beware of Unexpected Sources of Heat!

You’re probably not thinking about the fireplace in the summer, but make sure that you close the damper before the summer starts. Leaving the damper open can suck hot air into your home as opposed to pushing it out.

Put your Computer to Sleep!

Laptops are always warm, so if you’re going to be away from your computer for more than 10 minutes, set a timer for sleep mode. If you’re going to be away for any more than 10 minutes, just power it down completely.

Water is your Friend!

Keep hydrated and stay away from beverages that include alcohol, excess sugar, and caffeine. Another great tip? Keep a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator, and spray the inside of your wrists when you get warm. It cools the blood running through your veins and encourages thermal regulation.

Dress the Part!

Sweat-wicking clothes worn by athletes and other clothes made of lighter fabrics can help you avoid feeling sticky in the summer. Choose something that’s thin, lighter-colored, and more loose and flowy.  That allows the air to flow next to your skin and evaporate that moisture to keep you cool. Lose the shoes to cool your body from the bottom up.

and Eat Right!

There’s a reason why people gravitate toward salads and lighter foods in the summer. Look for items that contain a lot of water like fruits and vegetables. Hydrating foods will help cool you from the inside out.

Enjoy these tips and stay cool once this summer heats up for good!

Top 15 Home Updates #5

Top 15 Home Updates #5

#5 Attic Bedroom Conversion!


Average return at resale: 93.5 percent

•The average attic bedroom in a two- or three-bedroom house costs $39,188 and returns $36,649 at resale.

•That price includes a 15 x 15 ft. bedroom, a 5×7 bath with shower, a 15-ft. dormer, four windows and a closet.

•Add insulation in your attic to lower your utility bills. Just make sure the foil vapor barrier is installed down toward the ceiling to prevent moisture from seeping up.

•Can your existing HVAC system handle the load of another room? If not, factor in the cost of a second unit.

•A solar-powered attic fan is a super-efficient way to save on cooling your house. The attic fan exhausts heat from above your home and is powered by a solar cell on the roof – so it doesn’t add a cent to your utility bill!

This is also a perfect idea to add more available space in your home even if you are not planning on selling right away!

Would you consider making your attic a bedroom or other type of living area? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Top 15 Home Updates #3

Top 15 Home Updates. #3

#3 Minor Kitchen Remodel!

Average return at resale: 98.5 percent

•A minor kitchen remodel averages a recoup rate of 98.5%. Go for the minor remodel when your kitchen needs a cosmetic update and not a drastically different floor plan.

•A $15,000 kitchen update covers 30 feet of re-facing for cabinets and drawers, a new wall oven, cook-top, sink and fixtures, laminate counter-tops and resilient flooring.

•Put recessed lights 3’ to 5’ apart on center and 18″ from cabinets to light the counter-tops.

•If your home is worth more than $500,000 go with stone or trendy glass counter-tops.

•Cover the old vinyl with floor leveler so the pattern doesn’t bleed through. You can’t put a second layer of vinyl on if the sub-floor in below-grade concrete.

•Brighten up the kitchen by giving your old wood cabinets new character. Just sand and paint — it’s a whole lot less expensive than buying new ones.

•Don’t forget window treatments. Changing drapes and window molding is an inexpensive way to add decorator detail.

Look and see how small modifications can change the entire look of your kitchen!

Top 15 Home Updates #4

Top 15 Home Updates #4

#4 Exterior Improvements!

Vinyl Siding, Paint, Updated Front Entry!

Average return at resale: 95.5 percent

•A gallon of paint covers 400 sq. ft. of house.

•Paint color cards take the guesswork out of choosing the right color combination for doors, trim and siding.

•If you think your house was painted before 1978, test for lead before sanding or scraping.

•Upscale, fiber-cement siding costs $10,393 and returns $10,771 at resale, an even better recoup rate of 103.6%.

•If your columns have to hold up the structure, make sure you purchase the load-bearing type. Fiberglass composite columns are popular and durable. Check salvage yards for unique historic columns.

•For an updated look, remove old awnings from over windows and doors.

•Swap damaged wrought iron railings for real wood supports for a more inviting entry.

•Give a bare, charmless porch a dramatic makeover by adding a pergola and columns.

Now that Summer has come, it is the perfect time to start thinking about updating the exterior of your house!

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Top 15 Home Updates #2

Top 15 Home Updates #2

#2 Landscaping!

Average return at resale: 100 percent

•The average homeowner spends about $3,502 for landscaping and another $1,465 on a designer, according to the American Nursery and Landscape Association.

•Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services, or ask the neighbors what works for them.

•Sod costs about 30 to 35 cents a square foot, so a 5,000 sq. ft. yard would cost about $1,500 to sod. Budget for a delivery fee if you buy less than 1,000 sq. ft.

•A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. For maximum impact, choose one color and vary the height of plants.

•If your doorway is overwhelmed by greenery, then get out the shears. Replace overgrown shrubbery with flowering foundation plants mixing heights and colors for dramatic effect.

•A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property. Roll a sealant on flagstones for a permanent wet look that enhances the color.

We would love to hear about your landscaping ideas and experiences!

Top 15 Home Updates #1

Top 15 Home Updates. #1

#1 Minor Bathroom Remodel

Average return at resale: 102 percent

•It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. You’ll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent.

•If you can pipe a child’s name on a birthday cake, you can re-caulk a tub. Use a softener like CAULK-BE-GONE® to get rid of the old caulk. Fill the tub with water after you’re done to stretch caulk while it dries.

•If your old tub is too large to fit out the door, re-glaze it for a like-new finish. Cost: $300 to $400.

•Remove dated wall coverings and apply a fresh coat of paint. For damaged walls, spray on texture provides quick coverage.

•Old shower doors can ruin any bathroom. Removing or replacing them will add the illusion of space.

These simple alterations are an amazing way to update your home and on a budget!


How Much Will It Cost For A New One?
“Time to give away the Trade Secrets”
$1,350… High Efficient Furnace
$ 125… Sheet Metal Fittings
$ 50… Condensate Pump & Piping
$ 50… Fuel Piping
$ 75… Smoke Pipe and Fittings (Flue)
$ 30… 4” X 8” X 16” Solid Concrete Blocks
$ 100… Electrical Wiring, Service Switch & Receptacle
$ 25… Fire Safety Switch
$ 60… Digital Thermostat or Digital Programmable Thermostat
$1,000… Installers Labor
($75 per hour for the Licensed Installer and $50 per hour for the helper x 8 hours)
$ 716… 20% Net Profit
$ 398… 10% Sales Commission
$ 80… Installers Incentive if they do a superb job
$ 258… Connecticut Sale Tax (6.35%)
$4,317.00… Total Fair Price Installed

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Diabetes Fighter

When researchers studied 4,497 healthy adults’ diets for 20 years, those who consumed the most magnesium (about 200 milligrams [mg] per 1,000 calories) were 47% less likely to develop diabetes than those who consumed the least (about 100 mg per 1,000 calories).

Theory: Magnesium enhances enzymes that help the body process blood sugar.

Self-defense: Eat magnesium-rich foods, such as almonds (one-quarter cup roasted, 97 mg) and spinach (one-half cup cooked, 77 mg).

More sources: Whole grains, legumes, leafy green vegetables, fish and yogurt.

Investing in a Stronger Rural Economy

Investing in Rural Housing

U.S. Dept. of Agricultural Rural Development State Director for Michigan, James J. Turner, commemorate Homeownership Month in Michigan at a closing ceremony for Stacy Opper and her family at their new home in Williamston.
From Left: Turner, Mason Area Office Director Kevin Smith, new homeowners James, Cameron and Stacy Opper, Jeff Peck of J.S. Peck Real Estate, Loan Officer Andrea Marsich of Mortgage1 and Mortgage1 President Rick Holcomb. Mortgage1 is the leading participant lender in the pilot mortgage refinancing program and is number two in volume of total SFH Guaranteed Home Loans in Michigan.