4 Renovations That Decrease the Value of Your Home

blog8I always advocate contacting me before you update your home. There are so many important factors to consider. Your home is one of the largest investments you have, so you should always consider the value of any changes or updates. The recent Cost vs Value report showed you the return on investment for the most popular upgrades. But as outlined in a recent article on MarketWatch, some renovations can actually decrease the value of your home.

The four following renovations can often result in a decrease in value of your home:

  1. Removing Bedrooms – While you might see larger rooms as a plus, generally, the more bedrooms that are in your home, the higher the price it can demand. You will also likely reduce the amount of buyers interested in your home, since most buyers start their search based on number of bedrooms.
  2. Removing Closets – While you might enjoy a larger bathroom, the large majority of buyers will demand closet space. It can be a large selling point for a home.
  3. Turning the Garage into a Living Area – As good as this can sound to give you another living area, most buyers consider a garage a necessity. Not only are you removing a parking area, but you are also removing valuable storage space, from the buyer’s perspective.
  4. Wallpaper – While it is possible to remove wallpaper, it can be a difficult job (and expensive if you have someone do it for you). Buyers can generally overlook paint colors that can be changed, but having to remove an overabundance of wallpaper can be a definite deterrent.

Ready to renovate your home? Call me! 972-824-6466

For the full article, click HERE.

Show Them The Door: What Popular Door Colors (Might) Say About You

Red DoorWhether or not we realize it, the colors with which we surround ourselves – in our clothes, cars and homes – reveal a lot about us. For example, bright colors often indicate an outgoing personality, while subdued colors imply a more low-key persona.

How can a hue say so much about you? Color has a psychological component through which we often communicate our moods, feelings, emotions, and personality. One way we do that is through the paint colors we choose, even on the exterior of our home.

The entire exterior color scheme has meaning, but the color of the front door is especially important. Like a necktie, which is the focal point of a man’s outfit, the front door is the focal point of the home. The color there sends a strong message – in the case of the front door, providing insight into how we view our home.

So, what does your front door color say about you and the way you regard your home?

Blue DoorBlue. Shown to be the most popular color in many studies, a blue front door signals that the homeowner views his or her home as a place of refuge – calm, serene and relaxing, the perfect retreat from an often harsh and demanding world.

Green. Green is another popular color for the front door, and with good reason. Psychologically speaking, green connotes health, safety, tranquility and harmony, all highly desirable attributes for the home environment.

Black. Those who paint the front door black are communicating something entirely different about their homes. A black front door projects strength, sophistication, power and authority, indicating to all who enter or even passerby that the home is a serious place inhabited by a person of substance.

Red. Regarded as a powerful “punch” color, red is the color of passion. By painting the front door res, the homeowner is saying that the home within is a vibrant place, full of life, energy and excitement.

Brown DoorBrown. Whether painted or stained, a brown front door looks natural and organic, but it can send mixed messages in terms of color psychology. On the one hand, brown conveys warmth, stability and reliability, positive attributes all, but certain darker shades of brown signal a desire for privacy, even isolation.

Very likely, the color you’ve chosen for your front door projects the way you want your home to be viewed. But if you inherited the color from the previous owner, or if you want to say something different about yourself and your home, you can quickly change the color. It only takes a few hours to prep and repaint a standard-size front door, and by applying a durable, top-quality, 100-percent acrylic latex paint, you can make a totally different color statement that will last for years.

Home Improvement News and Information Center

The Dallas Morning News

31 May 2015

Watchdog: My guide to protesting your property tax

Those giant gasping sounds you hear are hundreds of thousands of shocked homeowners across North Texas opening their 2015 property appraisal notices arriving in the mail. From what I can tell, taxes are going up in most places. It’s catch-up time after the recession beatdown. The market is better. That’s the only excuse they need to take more.

Remember this is the Great Deception of Texas. City, county and school politicians say, “We didn’t raise your tax rate.” That’s true. But taxes go up anyway because a county appraisal district increases the taxable value of homes.

It’s a tax increase, but oh no, it’s not.

Reminds me of Robin Hood’s line from the 2010 movie: “Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.” Your taxes are rising. Are you a lamb about it? Or do you want to do it my Watchdog Nation way and stand up for yourself using your rights granted under Texas law? Let me hear you roar! Louder! All right, then. Here we go. May is Property Tax Month in Watchdog Nation. My goal is to save you enough money to justify another year as an annual subscriber to The Dallas Morning News.

Here’s The Watchdog’s Guide to Your 2015 Tax Protest.

Become a lion

I’m stumped that only about 5 out of every 100 eligible homeowners use the new tool of protesting property taxes online at an appraisal district’s website. It’s easy, saves time and feels like gambling, for those who like that. You plug in your estimate and attach evidence showing your home’s value in the appraisal district’s software. If the software and a human agree, voila. You’re a tax cutter, like those politicians pretend to be.

If you’re rejected, you can go to a hearing and continue your protest. Or drop it and pay what they want.

The deadline to file your protest is June 1, but don’t wait until the final date. Computer problems gum up the works. So pretend the deadline is May 15. And remember, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

The 10 percent cap

If the taxable value — also called appraised value — of your house didn’t go up more than $1,000, you weren’t required to get an annual appraisal notice in the mail. Check the appraisal district’s website and see your numbers. Everyone can — and should — file a protest.

The two most important numbers are the 2015 appraised value and the 2015 market value.  The appraised value is what is multiplied by the various taxing governments to get your actual tax bill. The market value is what the appraisal district believes your house is worth on today’s market in a straight sale. There’s a 10 percent cap on an annual increase of your house’s taxable appraised value — for those homeowners with a homestead exemption. That means the government cannot raise the taxable value of your house more than 10 percent of the previous year’s tax bill. God bless this cap.

Sometimes, the market value is higher than the taxable value. Pay attention to the market value, because if you believe it’s too high and don’t protest it, your taxes will jump the following year. Market value is not bound by a 10 percent cap. So it’s important to try to knock down the market value, too.

How to win

You could spend time learning the ins and outs by reading posts found through search engines. (No need to hire an outside company when you can do this yourself.) Here are some basic strategies.

First, know that appraisers are handicapped in two ways. The first is they don’t really know what houses sell for because in Texas that’s considered private. Bizarre, I know. So appraisers pick up what they can, but they have an incomplete picture. If you can prove that houses similar to yours in your neighborhood are valued less, you can win. Sometimes all you have to do is find a house model exactly like yours with a lower value and use that to show you’re overpaying. Ask your Realtor for the comps or comparables in your neighborhood.

The other way appraisers are handicapped is they don’t know what’s inside your home. So if you have major problems that lower your value, you must give evidence including photos. Let’s say you need a new roof. Present a roofer’s estimate for the cost of replacement along with photos of leaks or rot. Ask that your appraised and market values get lowered by that amount. Build your case to devalue your home.

You can’t win if you don’t try. Many don’t try. And now that it’s easier than ever to do it from your home via online, there’s no excuse.

Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.


Check out The Watchdog at 11:20 a.m. Mondays on NBC5, talking about matters important to you.


Most appraisal district websites provide information or links to protest appraisals on their home pages.

Dallas County: DallasCAD.org

Collin County: CollinCAD.org

Denton County: DentonCAD.com

Tarrant County: TAD.org

Rockwall County: RockwallCAD.com


Texans have a legal right to equal and uniform taxes. But the system is set up so the property owner must appeal to protest an assessed value. Online tax protests are new in Texas. The deadline to appeal is June 1, but don’t wait until then.

Appraisal notices are mailed in April and May. Not everyone receives one, so look yours up online or call the appraisal district.

Learn more at http://www.window.state. tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/

2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report: Less is More

remodeling pic

Are you considering selling in 2015?  It’s important to know which home improvement projects will bring you the most return on your investment. Visit the 2015 Cost vs Value Report (see Dallas specific info here) which compares the 36 most popular remodeling projects and the value those projects retain at resale.  If you’re making updates or just thinking about selling, let’s talk about how it will affect the value of your home!

The Cost vs. Value report is an annual collaboration between Remodeling magazine and REALTOR® Magazine, which breaks down the estimated cost of various remodeling projects and the estimated return on investment for those projects by region and by city, as well as by midrange and upscale projects. In general, the 2015 report boasts that “less is more”.  It’s the smaller improvements that will give you the most bang for your buck.



According to the January 2015 issue of REALTOR® Magazine:

As a general rule:

  • Simpler, lower-cost projects tend to return greater value. The national average cost for a steel door replacement was $1,230, for example. That’s the least expensive project on the list, and it ranks highest on the payback scale, returning 101.8 percent nationally on average. In fact, in 43 of the 102 markets surveyed, REALTORS® said the new door would recoup more than 100 percent of its cost. Other projects expected to top 100 percent payback in multiple markets: the midrange garage door replacement, the upscale garage door replacement, the midrange wood window replacement, and the minor kitchen remodel. Notice a pattern? With the exception of the kitchen job, they’re all replacement projects. In general, replacements cost less and provide a bigger payback than remodels or additions.
  • First impressions are important. The replacements that offer the greatest payback are the ones that are most obvious to buyers when they first view a house in person or online, such as new door or garage door. Siding replacement also provides great value at resale—particularly this year’s one new project, manufactured stone veneer,  which is expected to recoup 92.2 percent of its cost nationally on average.
  • Kitchens still offer the most remodeling bang for the buck. The only remodeling job breaking into the top 10 in terms of payback is the minor kitchen remodel with a national average cost of $19,226 and a national average payback of 79.3 percent.

Top 5 projects nationally in terms of cost recouped:

1. Entry door replacement (101.8%)
2. Manufactured stone veneer (92.2%)
3. Garage door replacement (88.5%)
4. Siding replacement, fiber cement (84.3%)
5. Garage door replacement (82.5%)

Click here for the full article from REALTOR® Magazine.


From the January 12, 2015 article in Remodeling magazine:

It’s no surprise that replacement jobs—such as door, window, and siding projects—generated a higher return than remodeling projects. That’s been the case since at least 2003. But the gap between the two categories widened by 3.8 percentage points this year even as both declined in value: Replacement projects showed an average return of 73.2% in this year’s report, just a smidgen below its 73.7% last year, while the cost-value ratio of remodeling projects sank to 60.8% in this year’s report from 65.1% last year.

When grouped by job type, siding jobs fared better than most, perhaps because of a rising perception nationwide of the value of curb appeal. Midrange vinyl siding replacement jobs were one of only five projects to rise in value, to 80.7% from 78.2%. A replacement job involving foam-backed siding slipped just half a point in value, to 77.6%, while the cost-value ratio for a fiber-cement replacement job dipped to 84.3% from 87.0%. Similarly, window jobs were no more than 2.1 points lower this year than in the 2014 report, and they ranked between ninth and 16th in overall payback.

In contrast, kitchen remodels declined as much as 6.6 percentage points, while the drop for bathroom additions and remodels was more modest, slipping 3.8 points or less.

As a general rule, the simpler and lower-cost the project, the bigger its cost-value ratio. Three of the four projects that cost less than $5,000 for a pro to do were ranked in the top five for cost recouped, and the other two were in the $5,000-to-$25,000 price range. No project costing more than $25,000 ranked better than 14th.

Click here for the full article from Remodeling Magazine.

Think your appraisal is too high?

Here are steps to decrease your property tax bill. This information is for Dallas County properties, but most north Texas counties are similar. If you need help with your valuation, please contact me.

To see the full article, click here.

Give Nesting Wasps the Blues

This is something I’ve always heard of and considered doing myself.  I just thought I would share this organic way to keep wasps from building a nest at YOUR house.


By: Howard Garrett

Howard GarrettThe Dallas Morning News garden@dallasnews.com

Published: 10 April 2013 06:33 PM

Normally, I would leave beneficial insects alone. However, I’m extremely allergic to red wasps. How do I eliminate these wasps?

G.R., Colleyville

I understand. I wish we could move them to my place; they eat lots of worms and other pests. When they must be killed, the essential-oil products work well and are nontoxic. Eco-SMART is one good brand.

The other step I highly recommend is to paint eaves and porch and patio ceilings with the color called haint blue. It is a robin’s-egg blue that, according to Southern tradition, discourages wasps from building nests on its surface. Every paint manufacturer sells a version of this color.