All Things Real Estate: Thinking about upgrading your home, condo or coop?

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So now you have made a conscious decision not to move, but to stay in place.

However, the look of your place is less than stellar and a bit worn and you have thoughts of renewing the look and feel of your home. The first thing you should contemplate and give serious thought to is what will your budget be? What will the total cost be, based on your budget and will you be able to do all that really needs to be done in adding to the value and creating an enjoyable environment, while still living there?

Another thought would be determining how long you will be staying in your home, 1, 2,3 4, 5 years or more or will you be living there for the rest of your life? So do you totally renovate and upgrade or just do basic replacements of appliances, boiler, hot water heater, reface your kitchen cabinets, re-glaze your bathtub; which can really look amazing without replacing it, but which is a messy job and while at the same time, do I replace the tiles on the walls?

How are your floors, tiles and carpeting, still looking great or pretty dreary and old and out of fashion? Are your windows energy efficient and when was the last time you checked the condition of your roof?

My suggestion is to do it right or don’t do it at all! Homeowners should hire a referred and qualified and licensed architect to redesign the interior and possibly the exterior.

Many times it will be more economical than upgrading to a larger home or if very lucky, finding one that is already renovated to your particular tastes and satisfying your specific “needs and wants.”

Most of the time it is like finding a “needle in a haystack” searching out and finding a place that you and your family will be completely happy and ecstatic with. I have seen and sold some amazing homes that were in such gorgeous condition, but they just didn’t match and satisfy the needs and desires of the purchasers.

Some like chocolate, some vanilla and some butter pecan and it surely does keep the economy chugging along. Ownership always creates buying opportunities when re-constructing one’s home as opposed to those that rent, that don’t spend any money on the landlord’s properties, and why should they?

That’s why ownership really provides most of the benefits and pays in the long run in building a family’s wealth! As we grow older, one must make sure that your renovation and design includes an ergonomic concept which can and will make moving around easier. Keeping in mind to create an environment with the least amount of bending and reaching as possible and even your furniture and countertops, cabinets and storage areas should be the most comfortable and easy on your body and posture.

Always remember that gut-renovating kitchens and bathrooms can be costly, but those two rooms are the most significant in your home for resale and will provide you years of benefits, enjoyment and satisfaction, while increasing the market value of your home.
Always keep in mind the local and even the county zoning laws when renovating, try not to cut corners; because in the end whatever is not compliant by the code, permits not filed, Certificate of Occupancies not granted can and will come back to bite you in the pocketbook. I have experienced numerous situations whereby either the owner or the contractor failed to file for the necessary permits or never closed out the permits to receive the final Certificates of Occupancies.

Making sure that the floor to area ratio is adhered to will reduce the hassles in the long run when putting your home on the market for sale. I have seen numerous situations whereby things were constructed without following many code and zoning rules and regulations and it showed up on the title. The municipalities have been cracking down and fining homeowners and even commercial establishments for code violations for illegally installing a second kitchen in the basement or building over the required property lines without leaving setbacks and proper side yards.

This will cause a lot of stress later on when a purchaser has his or her title search done and then those illegal items smack you the owner in the pocketbook. You will then either hire an expeditor or lawyer (who will generally hire an expeditor) to file the necessary paperwork to legalize or finalize the CO’s or whatever was done without proper permits. This doesn’t guarantee that the local jurisdiction will always approve what was done previously. There are two, two-family homes that I know of that cannot be occupied in western Queens that have no CO’s for the past 13 years and may never get them.

The tremendous loss for the owner and possible lawsuits can be earth-shattering just because the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing and then it was too late.

I have another incident that I am working on whereby getting the CO’s has been nothing but challenging, but we are almost done, but we are selling the home in as-is condition.

So once you have a budget the next most important thing is to make sure you follow and adhere to all the local zoning and building laws so you won’t end up losing money and sleep!

Philip A. Raices is the owner/broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 3 Grace Ave Suite 180 in Great Neck. He has earned designations as a Graduate of the Realtor Institute and also as a Certified International Property Specialist. He can be reached by cell: (516) 647-4289 or by email: Phil@TurnKeyRealEstate.Com.

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