The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move?

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCM

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you’re a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you’ll need access to capital: the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCM

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners’ equity. The graph below uses data from CoreLogic to show the average home equity gain in the first quarter of the last nine years:Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, quantifies the amount of equity homeowners gained recently:

“Remember U.S. households own nearly $35 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $11 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$24 trillion in equity. In inflation adjusted terms, homeowners in Q2 had an average of $280,000 in equity- a historic high.”

As a homeowner, the money you need to purchase the perfect home or renovate your current house may be right at your fingertips. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you’ll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you’ll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you’ll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you’re one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you’re one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

First Step: Determine the Amount of Equity in Your Home

If you’re ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you’ll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you can pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate professional who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report.

Bottom Line

If the past 18 months have refocused your thoughts on what you want from your house, now may be the time to either renovate or make a move to the perfect home.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers

Create More Space in your Kitchen

Need more storage space in your kitchen for your growing collection of cookware, tableware, and supplies? You don’t have to do a renovation or even add a new table or cupboard. Here are a few simple ideas:

Pantry dividers. These enable you to store baking sheets, cutting boards and platters in an upright position, effectively doubling the storage capacity of that area.

Removable wine rack. This is simply an X made with wood and then slid into a cabinet space. You can make one yourself or find one that’s the right size at a kitchenware or home improvement store near you.

Hanging baskets. These are ideal for storing cooking utensils, fruit, vegetables, pasta and other items.

Hanging rod. This is similar to a towel rack, except you use S-shaped hooks – which you can find at any home improvement store – to hang pots, pans and other items. Restaurant kitchens often use these.

High shelving. A shelf installed high up the wall – near the ceiling – that wraps around the kitchen and dining area, can easily double your storage space.

There are many other products on the market that can help you make the most of your kitchen space. Look for options at your local home improvement or kitchenware stores.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers

The Benefits of Hiring an Interior Designer or Decorator

When it comes to updating their living space, some homeowners enjoy doing the research and then planning, designing, and decorating on their own. Many believe they will save a substantial amount of money. 

While that may be true, they may also be doing themselves a disservice by overlooking the benefits of hiring an interior designer (who can create and maximize functional living space) and/or an interior decorator (who can furnish and adorn a home or room for aesthetic appeal).

While homeowners may seek inspiration from magazines and websites, designers and decorators know how to adapt those concepts to the available space. They can also ensure that their suggestions and recommendations are practical and attainable and take advantage of the latest products and systems available. In addition, they can offer the added benefit of applying rebates and discounts from manufacturers, importers, and trade showrooms – which the average consumer simply can’t get.

Those discounts may even help offset the cost of the professional fees. But perhaps the greatest benefit of hiring professionals is the peace of mind that comes from knowing they can save you a great deal of time, especially if you have too many ideas or none at all.

Selling Your Home? Here Are Some Affordable Staging Ideas


Selling Your Home? Here Are Some Affordable Staging Ideas

“Staging” is all about making a home look as appealing as possible and highlighting its best features. Through the careful placement of furniture, decorative items and other efforts, you can have your home looking picture perfect in no time — and that’s essential if you’re prepping to sell.

Is Staging Really Worth It?

Absolutely. When you’re still living in a home, staging can help “erase” your presence so that buyers can better see themselves in the space. If you’ve already emptied out a home, staging can help buyers envision what it’s like to live there — and show off big spaces and dramatic touches so that buyers can better see the property’s potential. That can translate into more money for you. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, staged homes can bring in bids up to 5% higher than homes that aren’t staged.

Depending on the size of your property, professional staging can cost between $1,000 and $5,000, so a lot of homeowners look for ways to handle the job themselves. Fortunately, there are plenty of no-cost and low-cost steps you can take to stage your place before it goes on the market.

If staging has a cardinal rule, it would be “Decrease and Declutter.” Less really is more in this situation. Anything that you can define as clutter needs to be picked up and thrown out or put away — but that’s just part of what needs to happen.

Unless you embraced a minimalist philosophy and style years ago, the odds are good that there’s far too much stuff in your space. Everything from the tchotchkes on your mantle to the art on your walls has your personality and stamp on them, and that makes it harder for buyers to envision the place as their own. With that in mind:

• Pull down all of the family photos. You want buyers to see their family in the house, not yours.

• Pack away almost all knickknacks. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than one or two “objects of interest” in a given room.

• Clear off the countertops. The breadmaker, blender, and other things you normally keep out may be useful, but they detract from your kitchen’s beauty.

• Get rid of memorabilia and personal keepsakes. You want buyers to see your home, not showcase your personality or interests.

• Eliminate extra furniture. Too many end tables, footstools and plant stands can make a home feel crowded and uncomfortable to buyers.

• Invest in a few baskets for easy pick-up. If you’re still living in your home, it’s difficult not to have a little clutter. Baskets can be used to quickly gather up television and game remotes, kids’ toys and more when prospective buyers are coming.

The goal is to make your home as relentlessly neutral as possible. The more it resembles a nice, cozy hotel that’s just waiting on its next occupants to arrive, the better.

Half-Empty Your Storage Spaces

When you’re in the process of decluttering, don’t simply shove everything into the closets and storage spaces around your home. Trust us: Interested buyers are going to look inside every nook and cranny — and they don’t want your stored items falling out on their heads when they do.

Since buyers want to be able to see how much storage they’re going to have in a home, a half-empty closet or cupboard is ideal. That helps visually reinforce the idea that there’s plenty of storage space available. With that in mind:

• Organize your closets. Coordinate all your hanging clothes and line up the shoes.

• Clear out the kitchen cupboards. Get rid of all the extra cups and seldom-used plates or pans.

• Clean the pantries. Throw out any expired food items and donate a lot of the rest. Leave just enough in your pantry to make cooking practical.

• Scale-back the linen closet. Stack blankets, sheets and towels neatly and put anything you aren’t likely to use soon, including seasonal items, in storage.

Don’t forget to cull through any other storage areas in your house, like cubby holes, the spot beneath the kitchen sink and the bathroom cabinets. The more spacious your home seems to buyers, the better.

Focus on the Buyer’s First View

What’s the first thing potential buyers see when they enter your home? If their choices are walking through a claustrophobic foyer that’s lined with coats and shoes or a cluttered side-entrance through a dirty garage, you’ve got some work to do.

• Paint foyers and mudrooms a bright, neutral color to make them seem more open and inviting.

• Eliminate utility items like coat racks, shoe benches, umbrella stands and keyholders, or any other type of clutter.

• Consider adding a mirror on one wall to make the foyer or entrance seem larger.

Make sure that you carefully clean and declutter any area that your potential buyers will be walking through, including the attached garage. As always, you want buyers to feel like there’s plenty of room in a space for their needs.

If you do the work yourself, your biggest expenses might be a storage unit for your extra belongings and seasonal clothing or the paint you use on your walls. You may also want to spring for professional landscaping or a few flower pots to make the front of your home look especially welcoming. It might also be helpful to hire a professional cleaning crew to make your home sparkle once you’ve done all of the decluttering and sorting.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
The Tumbarello Group

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DIY Projects You Can Do at Home

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DIY Projects You Can Do at Home

During the last several weeks, you may have noticed some things around your home that need some attention. You may have even tackled a few projects. Need ideas? Here are a few DIY projects that can easily be done and will make a difference in your space.

Paint an Accent Wall in Your Living Room

Paint is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to transform the look of your home. If you’ve been dying to try a bold color in your living room but don’t want to commit to anything drastic, an accent wall can let you experiment.

If you’re looking for inspiration, Classic Blue is Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year and considered a great shade to match with virtually any kind of decor, whether you prefer a modern, classic or rustic look. You can also simply choose whatever color you’re already using as an accent and go bold. Since this is such an easy project to do (or re-do), there’s no reason to fear; if you hate it, you can simply paint over it again.

Create a Gallery Space for Your Art

Now that you’ve got a fantastic accent wall going, why not use it to highlight your favorite artwork? Grab a bunch of old frames and paint them the same neutral color (black or white or brown, depending on the remainder of your walls) and group several together in one spot. Since mirrored walls are also popular, you may want to gather several mirrors and intersperse them among the artwork for a creative combo.

Don’t be concerned about sizes or styles. Part of the goal is to create some visual interest that keeps rewarding people as they continue to look at your choices. The only rule is to hang what you love since this is your space. Don’t have enough spare art sitting around? Put your kids to work with crayons or fingerpaint and frame the results!

Fix Those Screen Doors

Screen doors get pretty neglected, especially over the cold winter months when they’re sitting in storage or otherwise ignored. Now that the weather’s getting nice, however, you don’t want those tattered screens to stop you from opening the door and letting in the spring air.

This requires a minimum of tools (you’ll probably only need a Phillips-head screwdriver, an awl and something that you can use to trim the replacement screen) and strength to accomplish. If you’ve never fixed a screen door before, don’t feel intimidated — there are plenty of videos available that will walk you through the steps needed to re-screen a door.

Add Some “Smart” Features

If you’ve been meaning to explore some “smart” additions to your home, now is the time to do it. You can easily order home automation components through the mail that will work with your existing technology, and most upgrades are inexpensive and easy to self-install.

Some fan-favorites that you may want to explore include:

• A smart thermostat: These programmable devices can connect to a voice-assistant like Alexis or your smartphone — or you can set them and forget them at will. Either way, they’re bound to keep your home more comfortable and keep your utility bills more tightly controlled.

• Smart lights: Imagine being able to adjust your lights without getting out of bed, or knowing that you can turn your lights on and off remotely for security even when you aren’t home.

• Smart locks: Never worry about losing your key (or having the kids lose theirs) again. A smart lock combined with a security camera is one of the best-loved security features of modern times.

The best part about putting your energy and money into wireless technology and smart home features is that you really get a return on your investment. Voice-controlled home technology is in hot demand among most consumers. The vast majority of homebuyers already appreciate smart home products and consider them an important feature when they’re searching for their next residence.

Add Some Decorative Storage Space

Shelving is one of the best ways you can both increase your home’s storage space and add decorative elements. All it takes to put up some nice shelves are some sturdy brackets, screws and a few heavy boards — or you can invest in a few pre-made shelves.

Either way, consider adding a touch of color to the shelves, especially if you are putting them in the same room where you’ve already added an accent wall. That will help tie the look of your room together (and still be easy to change if you decide you want to go with another shade down the line).

Once you have your shelves where you like them, try adding a mix of functional and decorative items to the shelf until you have a combination that’s both pleasing and useful. Pairing books with your favorite hanging vine or a cool piece of metal art, for example, can create a cozy look.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
The Tumbarello Group


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The 4 Most Trending Home Decor Styles

The 4 Most Trending Home Decor Styles

Have you been looking around your home lately and feeling like everything you see is somehow tired and dated? It happens. That’s usually a sign that it’s time to do some updates.

Whether you’re ready to ditch the Millennial Pink paint and the seashells in the bathroom or just want to be rid of the word art on your walls from trends past, updating your home doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. The real challenge is to know what’s trending now — and likely to keep your home looking current and fresh for a few years to come.

Here are some of the top home decorating trends of the past year (along with what’s passing out of favor) and predictions about what you’ll see more of in the future.

Bold, Primary Colors

A few years ago, every home decor magazine featured lots of grays. Ranging from dusky slate tones to almost-silver, gray was part of clean, minimalist designs in kitchens and bathrooms everywhere.

The problem is that those shades can also easily look sterile or clinical over time — which may be why there’s an emerging trend in home decor toward bold splashes of color with a vintage feel. Think rusty reds the color of old velvet, adobe orange, midnight blue, and mustard yellow.

If you embraced the grays of previous trends, you don’t have to worry about trying to overhaul your entire look. Instead, just add accent pieces in your chosen color scheme through vintage rugs, interesting glassware or ceramics and a few vibrant pieces of art to your existing space.

Mix-And-Match Furniture and Accents

Gone are the days where everything in a room had to match. Perfectly matching furniture and matchy-matchy hardware all-around can make your living room feel more like a showplace than part of a home. And who wants to sleep every night in a bedroom that looks like it’s inside a suburban hotel? Aside from being uncomfortable, it can also leave your space feeling devoid of any real personality.

The new trends focus on adding personal style to every space through the use of casually mixed pieces of furniture that have been acquired a piece at a time and quirky accent pieces that are full of charm. Mixed-up metals are also a top trend: You no longer have to pick between brushed silver knobs and copper-edged lighting — you can have both!

The Organic, Natural Look

The industrial look, full of straight lines and indestructible-looking metals, introduced a raw, unfinished look to many homes over the last decade. Industrial materials and Edison bulb lighting were incredibly popular — but those also had a somewhat sterile, unfinished feel to many.

Today’s homeowners are reaching out to the natural world for new inspiration in their home decor. They’re also reaching into the past to embrace handcrafted items and custom-made materials instead. Organic materials are growing in popularity as consumers increasingly reject plastics, pressed-wood pieces, and other mass-marketed items.

Wood floors, especially those ethically sourced from reclaimed wood, have become incredibly popular and are likely to withstand the test of time. Hand-woven or crocheted blankets can enhance a color scheme and soften a room’s look. Rag rugs also evoke the American past and provide a little touch of whimsy in a room.

Big, Beautiful Pieces of Art

A decade ago, gallery-style walls full of small pieces of art and family photos (with a few pieces of word art mixed in) were everywhere. Over time, however, many people have come to feel that a wall full of frames simply looks cluttered. There’s so much to look at that nothing is really noticeable — which kind of defeats the point of having all of that on the wall in the first place.

Today’s homeowner is going big and bold with their art. Regardless of whether you like the lush, Pre-Raphaelite works of John William Waterhouse, the sleek, Art Deco style of Tamara Lempicka or the playful, kaleidoscope of patterns that go along with your Bohemian instinct, ditching a dozen small frames for a few large focal pieces can breathe new life into any room.

Aside from adding pieces that reflect your chosen accent colors, this is also a chance to experiment with mixed metals and vintage looks. Antique frames in brushed gold or silver can help tie the look you’re aiming for all together.

How Do You Know What Home Decor Styles Will Last?

What goes around in fashion often comes around again a few years later, so the most important part of home decor is seeing to your own comfort. If you make your decorating choices around what you find cozy and calming, you can rarely go wrong. You’ll also find it easier to update your look without any great effort or cost.

But what if you feel like your home needs more than a superficial overhaul? If you have linoleum on your kitchen floor that’s been there since the 1970s or flowered wallpaper that went up in the 1980s, it might be time for a bigger overhaul. In that case, you could consider looking into some professional help. There are plenty of reputable, experienced home service providers available who can redo your floors and repaint the walls for you — leaving you free to concentrate on adding the details that reflect your personal touch.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist
The Tumbarello Group