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February Journal 2022

Five Value-Adding Home Remodeling Projects

When it comes to remodeling, not all projects have the same return on investment. Which projects should homeowners consider before listing their home for sale? Here's a look at five areas where you may get the most bang for your buck:

  1. Refinish hardwood floors. Refresh the entire look of your home with newly refinished floors that cost, on average, $2,500 and increase a home's value by nearly the same amount.
  2. Add new wood floors. Replacing carpeted areas with wood flooring can raise the value by as much as $5,000.
  3. Upgrade insulation. While this may not be obvious during an initial viewing, updating the insulation in attics and walls can increase a home's value by as much as $2,000.
  4. Install a new HVAC system. Energy-saving improvements, like a new HVAC system, add value while providing lasting peace of mind. You may be able to obtain a tax deduction, too.
  5. Increase your living space. Converting a basement into a livable space can increase the value of a home by as much as $25,000.1


Prepare Now to Protect Your Assets Later

For most of us, our home is our largest asset -- and we want to do everything we can to protect it. That's why it's vital to prepare for a potential disaster by creating an emergency plan for you and your family.

Start by making sure you're getting emergency alerts from local news sources, emergency offices, and your kids' schools. Next, list the potential crises you could encounter such as natural disasters, civil or political unrest, or even job loss.

Next, think about how those disasters could impact your life. For example, if a tornado, wildfire, or hurricane could leave you temporarily homeless, what would be your first step? Your disaster plan should include details of possible temporary housing -- like a relative's or friend's home -- and a list of essential items to take with you.

Finally, build a kit of essentials that include communication devices, battery chargers, non-perishable food, a power source, and water. Keep important documents in a portable, fire- and water-proof safe.2


Three Economic Factors Impacting the 2022 Housing Market

While the overall economy has navigated a rocky road the past two years, the housing market has been more boom than bust since mid-2019. However, three economic factors could bring about major changes in the housing market over the next few months. They include:

  • Rising interest rates. Economists expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at least three times this year. Borrowers are already seeing an increase in mortgage loan rates, and they will likely continue to rise as overall rates go up.
  • Decreasing financial security. Many programs designed to help out-of-work Americans have expired. This may lead to increased housing supply as more homeowners consider downsizing, selling or even opting for a short sale.
  • Lagging consumer confidence. People are more likely to make long-term purchasing decisions when they're optimistic about the future. As the pandemic era evolved, consumer confidence fell slightly last month. These fluctuations could continue well into the coming year.3


Safe Selling During a Pandemic

Two years into the pandemic, the real estate industry has adopted new best practices for keeping buyers and sellers safe. Agents are employing CDC-recommended sanitization and disinfecting measures before and after an open house event. They're also expanding their use of digital tools like social media, video conferencing, and signature software. While many of these changes were made in response to COVID, they're likely to stay even after the pandemic subsides.4


Personal Finances

A higher credit score unlocks lower interest rates on mortgages and other types of loans. Fortunately, if you're not happy with your current score, or would like to take yours from good to great, here are three easy ways to get a boost:

  1. Don't max out your credit. Credit bureaus look at your utilization, or how much credit you've used versus how much is still available. A good rule of thumb is to keep your utilization below 10%. For example, if a credit card has a $1,000 limit, try to keep your balance below $100.
  2. Take advantage of available programs. Some credit companies offer credit-building programs to help boost your score, while others provide free credit counseling to help you manage your debt wisely.
  3. Set up auto-pay for monthly bills. Late payments can drag your credit score down. Set up automatic payments for your mortgage, utilities, credit card accounts and loans.5


Real Estate Trends

A new study from has examined the best communities for first-time homebuyers. Number one on the list was Magna, Utah. Just 15 miles from Salt Lake City, Magna was chosen for its strong job market, short commute times, entertainment, affordability, and housing supply. Rounding out the top five were Chalco, Nebraska; Mauldin, South Carolina; Beech Grove, Indiana; and Portsmouth, Virginia.6




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