12 Remodeling Projects that Add the Most Value to Your Home

15 02 2008


2007 Cost vs. Value Report

I’ve been getting calls lately from multiple clients that are planning to sell in the near future and want to know which remodeling projects produce the best returns upon resale.

I love talking with these clients because they have a good grasp of current market conditions and understand the ingredients for a favorable sale, namely a competitive price and desirable condition.

That being said, in their pursuit of the latter ingredient, they don’t want to throw money at a remodeling project that will yield little or no return. So where should they start?

Every year, Hanley Wood, LLC. produces the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. The report surveys the entire U.S. by region and then by major markets within each region. Data taken from Dallas and San Antonio, although not entirely representative of the Austin market, will help sellers decide which projects are producing the best returns.

Here’s a look are the top projects:

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13 New Year’s Resolutions Everyone Selling Their Home in Austin Should Make

5 01 2008

1. I resolve to acknowledge this is a good time to sell, if I’m serious about selling.

2. I resolve to decide whether or not I’m serious about selling.

3. I resolve that I’m serious about selling. I think.

4. I resolve to do some market research on the Inhabit Austin Blog to find out if my neighborhood is in a buyer’s market or seller’s market.

5. I resolve that while I was visiting the blog I found some great tips for getting my home ready to sell.

6. I resolve to contact Jason to have him come take a look at my house and present me with a comparative market analysis.

7. I resolve to pick up the house a bit before Jason gets here, because I know he will speak candidly about the things I need to do so that I can sell my home quickly and for the most money possible.

8. I resolve to seriously assess what the market is telling me and price my home accordingly.

9. I resolve to take Jason’s advice and have my home’s condition and curb appeal superior to the other homes I’m about to compete with.

10. I resolve, challenging as it may be, to maintain the home’s showing condition and continue to live in it at the same time.

11. I resolve, therefore, to follow that easy plan Jason left for me.

12. I resolve that it’s not that bad after all. And this place looks great!

13. I resolve to let Jason work his marketing magic and…. Oh wait, Jason is calling… We have an offer!

These are a few resolutions you will not regret keeping. Happy 2008!


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Should I Buy the Most Expensive House on the Block?

30 11 2007

You’ve heard the old sayings before. They’re proverbial bits of wisdom and tend to surface in most conversations concerning real estate. And they’ve been around forever. But are they really true? And if so, why?  

Recently, Texas Realtor magazine highlighted a few of these rules of thumb:

  • “Don’t buy the most expensive house on the block.”

  • “Location, location, location are the 3 most important things.”

  • “Buy in a good school district even if you don’t have kids.”


True. Generally speaking, lower-priced properties tend to pull down the value of higher-priced properties, and more-expensive properties pull up the value of lower-priced properties.”

Mark Dotzour, chief economist at The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M agrees, 

“The underlying theory is that people want to feel like they’ve moved into the nicest neighborhood they can afford. Ignoring that theory may hurt sellers on resale. If sellers have a $250,000 home, and the rest of the homes in the neighborhood are valued in the $180,000s, they’ll be competing with properties that aren’t in their neighborhood.

If all the homes in another neighborhood are worth about $250,000, buyers might think, Do I want a really nice house in a lesser-quality neighborhood or a more-moderate house in a higher-quality neighborhood?


The exception might be a property with a unique feature for the neighborhood, for example, the only house on the block that backs to the greenbelt or has a desirable view of the hill country or downtown.

Buyers, however, will want to find out if any future developments might affect or diminish this unique feature. For instance, a new phase of the subdivision could replace the greenbelt, or a new high-rise building could block the once cherished view. 

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INHABIT AUSTIN Real Estate Defined

15 11 2007

IN•HAB•IT \in-‘hab-bet\ 

1. To occupy as a place of settled residence or habitat.

2. To be present in or occupy in any manner or form.

AUS•TIN \aw-stuh-n\

1. The greatest city in the greatest state in the greatest country in the history of the world.

2. The place we inhabit.


With all Austin has to offer, it is no secret why more and more INHABITANTS are calling the city home. This place is rich in history, lush in nature and there’s always a great place to eat right around the corner.

Local is the native language. And it only takes a stroll down South Congress Avenue or a Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s to expand your vocabulary. Yet, words alone never fully capture the vibrant energy that permeates the air.

Whether you dwell downtown or in the surrounding areas, there is never a shortage of creative inspiration to be found. Our city celebrates culinary uniqueness, all forms of art, eclectic shopping and a sensational night life. This place is, has and always will be a destination.


INHABIT AUSTIN is a local real estate firm owned and operated by husband and wife, Jason and Shayla Groves. We opened our doors shortly after planting our own roots in this fabulous place. And ever since then, we have been giving full service to buyers and sellers of residential properties throughout the city.

What we love about Austin directly influences how we serve every one of our clients. Your lifestyle is our focus. And we are passionate about helping you find your place among the diversity Austin affords. Through exploring neighborhoods, evaluating financing options, negotiating offers and smoothly navigating the closing process our value is evident. Not to mention, our property marketing will knock your socks off!

Our approach to real estate is different. No self-indulgent mug shots on the business card or huge magnets plastered on the side of the car. Conversely, INHABIT AUSTIN thrives on personal relationships. The focus is on you, even long after we’ve signed all the papers at closing. We don’t just buy and sell, we INHABIT.

The INHABIT INDEX: How to Know When It’s a Buyer’s or Seller’s Market?

22 10 2007


First it’s important to know the definition of both market conditions. In a sincere attempt to avoid insulting anyone’s intelligence, a buyer’s market is characterized by supply outpacing demand. In other words, there are too many homes on the market for the number of buyers. Typically, we see the following in a buyer’s market: 

  1. Flexibility in negotiating price.
  2. Added seller concessions (closing costs, repairs, etc.)

Conversely, a seller’s market is characterized by an insufficient level of supply for the ready, willing and able buyers. In a seller’s market, it’s common to see this happening: 

  1. Multiple offers.
  2. Shortened time on the market.

Regardless of when or where you want to move, generally the market is trending in one of two directions defined above. Yet, it is possible for the market to be stagnating in transition, which is all the more reason buyers and sellers need to anticipate which way the market will move. More specifically, you should have a clear understanding for which direction the particular neighborhood that you’re searching or selling in is trending. The real estate market is not monolithic. Some neighborhoods outperform others (see below).

Markets constantly fluctuate. Unfortunately, by the time we read about it in the paper, it’s already history. So apart from negotiating transactions on a regular basis how can you remain informed and know if Austin is presently a buyer’s or seller’s market? How can you know which way things are headed? (faint drum roll) ….Behold, the INHABIT INDEX. I developed and routinely update this index for my clients to easily gauge how supply and demand is faring in the Austin, Texas real estate market. Here’s how it works.

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1 Task Per Day: How to Maintain Showing Condition

15 10 2007

If you’ve ever sold a home before you know how important it is to maintain showing condition while on the market. It’s imperative that both the structural and aesthetic condition substantiate the asking price. Otherwise, the home will likely linger for days without generating any offers. Initially, it can take a lot of work to make it look like a model home, but the bigger challenge for most sellers is keeping the home in showing condition while it’s on the market.

Regardless if you have a family at home or not, maintaining showing condition doesn’t have to be as arduous as it is for many people. One way to defeat the challenge is to hire professional cleaners to take care of what you don’t have the time to do. But that can be expensive and you’re probably more of the do-it-yourself type. If the latter is true of you, below is an easy plan I’ve assembled to help you maintain showing condition. If you can’t do anything more, at least focus 15 minutes of your time each day to the designated task.

If you have a family at home, even better, that means you have easy access to cheap labor to assist you. Remember, the idea is to maintain showing condition, as the plan will work once the interior of the home starts to resemble a model. Also, depending on the level of traffic that is coming through your home, you may want to shuffle the daily tasks around to fit your situation. Lastly, a good rule to apply to the household is the old leave-no-trace axiom – pack it in, pack it out. If you take a dish to the living room, take it back to the dishwasher when you’re finished and put it back in the cabinet once it’s clean. Encourage the kiddos once they’re done playing with a toy to put it back where they got it… pretty simple really. Here’s the plan:

  • Monday– Clean the floors, sweep and mop.

  • Tuesday– Dust windows, fixtures and wood trim.

  • Wednesday– Quick sweep floors.

  • Thursday– Take out all trash.

  • Friday– Clean bathrooms.

  • Saturday– Sweep and mop.

  • Sunday– De-clutter (focus on areas where paper stacks up).

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For Smell: How Scent Can Make or Break the Sale

8 10 2007


It’s no secret our emotions play a large part in the decision making process when it comes to buying a home. “What about my home would influence a buyer’s emotions when they enter?” This is what a seller should be asking weeks before they begin marketing their home.  If you’re thinking about selling, take a whiff and you may find the answer.

The Smell of Money: Marketers Use Scent to Encourage Spending describes how of all the 5 senses, smell is thought to be the most closely linked to emotion. The post goes on to discuss how major corporations leverage the subtle tactic to encourage a sensory, emotional response and subsequent purchase of their products.

It can be akward for both a Realtor and seller when the topic of “this house has a smell” comes up.  Truth is, every house has a smell, it’s usually either good or bad. When selling your home, know that scent is a catalyst for either a positive or negative first impression. Baking cookies before an open house or showing will only last for so long. My suggestion. Deep clean with a lemon scent.

I should point out I’ve never had a client decide to buy a particular house because it smelled nice, but I have seen contenders crossed off the list because they didn’t.

3 quick tips to make your home smell better and sell faster:

  1. Keep it clean (if you don’t have the time, call in the professionals). 

  2. Remove pet odors (litter boxes, dog beds, pets…etc.).

  3. Replace the air filters (keep the house ventilated with fresh air).

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