We’re talking about how to get the biggest bang for your buck with pools, playgrounds, kitchens and bathrooms.
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ALEX It’s Thursday. We’re now going to switch to Thursday. Every Thursday look for a new recording. Today’s topic is Biggest Bang For Your Buck.
ERIN And it started with adding a pool, because it’s that time of year! It’s that time of year where it’s pool time. Do you have a pool in your community?
ALEX No, not yet. They haven’t built it yet.
ERIN But they will?
ALEX They will. It’s a whole community center. Right now they let you use the apartment complex. You have to get approved. But we belong to Lifetime. So if we really wanted to go to the pool, they have a pool. We just go to Lifetime Fitness. Not a big deal.
ERIN Let me think about this, because we have two pools in our community and my community isn’t set up for backyard swimming pools. I think the idea of our topic today is what can you add to your home to add value. Is there, are there things that you shouldn’t do? Are there things that you should do? Based on the biggest return on your investment is going to be? So, Alex, I think you’re going to speak to the largest part of this, like market values and being able to invest. You are very, very, very versed in developers,
ERIN Well, pools too. But developers and materials, what materials yield as far as return on your investment. I think that’s a good place to start.
ALEX Can you tell I’m, off topic, obsessed with this?
ERIN Yeah, and I’m obsessed with your nails too. Those are a cute color. You guys can’t see but it’s like a metallic white. An opal. An opal.
ALEX My Chapstick, no, I don’t think it’s Chapstick. What do you call this?
ERIN Can I smell it?
ALEX Yeah, lip balm?
ERIN It’s Eos.
ALEX It’s Eos. It’s Dunkin Donut
ERIN Oh Lord. I would eat that. I would lick my lips all day long.
ALEX It’s kinda funny I bought it and it smells like glazed donuts.
ERIN And you’ve put it on your lips literally 4 times since we’ve sat here and you’re licking you lips.
ALEX Because I can’t eat glazed donuts at Dunkin Donuts since they’re non-vegan. Therefore I have to find alternatives and this one is close.
ERIN So you’re satisfying your sweet tooth without…?
ALEX It’s so bad, it’s so bad.
BIGGEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
ALEX Okay, yeah. Biggest Bang For Your Buck. We can break it down by topics. Okay? So Pool.
ERIN Yeah. Let me ask you a blanket question first. If you have a half acre lot, so a decent sized back yard, and you were to put a pool on half of it? So you still have green space. It would be a smaller pool to be able to do that. If you were to do that and still keep some green space would you be taking away from your home value because you don’t have the green space or do you think you’d be adding to the value because you’re adding that ammenity?
ALEX I’m biased. I always love a good pool. Obviously don’t put it on a postage stamp lot. I love a good pool. I don’t think it takes away from it. Do you ever look at backyards and think it’s missing something?
ERIN Yeah, like “oh a pool would look great right there”.
ALEX Barbeque, pool, whatever it may be. I think with a pool it lends itself to other options you might do. You can do a patio, a green space next to it for your kids, or dog, or a playground off of it. You can do a barbeque. What do you call it, not a gazebo, but a big
ERIN Like a big *snap* whatever this motion equals. Like a fireplace, that’s what I’m thinking.
ALEX It adds value. Because if you extend your indoors to your outdoors and make it another living space outside that you can use, theoretically 8 to 10 months out of the year, you’re creating more value.
ERIN Now, could that be subjective?
ALEX Absolutely! Some people don’t want to be outside. I’m showing houses now and people are like “no, it’s too much yard. It’s too much green space. It’s too, what am I gonna do with this?”.
ERIN Who are they?!
ALEX I’m gonna have to cut all this lawn, that’s the other thing.
ERIN Especially about a pool. The upkeep. The cost of maintenance.
ALEX The upkeep is actually less than having to mow your lawn.
ALEX Yeah. If you get a good pool…I wouldn’t do salt water, by the way, if you have dogs. If you have animals and they drink the water it’s not good for them. So you could do a freshwater pool instead of a chlorine pool. And it’s once a week maintenance. If you have a vacuum and you already have a system that runs it and everything. My parents have one and once a week.
ERIN I still need to go to their house and see their renovation.
ALEX And I grew up with one and it was once a week. You have to check the skimmer.
ERIN What about adding a pool? What’s the cost? There are some myths out there that say if it costs me $45,000 to add a swimming pool then that adds $45,000 to my home value.
ALEX No, because it could also go the other way. It’s a gamble. It’s truly like we’re in Las Vegas, we’re going to roll the dice down the table and hoping we’re going to land on whatever number.
ERIN If you’re adding a pool it’s because you want it and it’s something of value to you, not because you’re trying to attract value.
ALEX It depends on where you live. If you live on a little bit of land then it adds value in my opinion. Because no one wants this big open space, they want something more. If all your neighbors have pools and you don’t, then sure. I think it would decrease the value of your home.
ERIN Only because there are no comps to support the value.
ALEX Correct. And if you are the one of only a couple on the street. Great. Then you’re house is only going to stick out more. If you’re the only one in the surrounding area it may not serve a purpose.
ERIN You don’t ever want to be the most expensive investment on the block.
ALEX Correct. Now obviously, different location, if they’re in Florida, everyone has one. It’s almost expected.
ERIN Right. It’s almost like where the hell is the pool if it’s not in the backyard when they get there.
ALEX Pools now you can use 7 months out of the year. My parents open theirs in April and close in October. Because it’s heated.
ALEX If you have solar panels you can run the heater off solar. It’s really not that much more a month to be quite honest.
ERIN I just know nothing about pools, pool maintenance.
ALEX It’s a misconception that it requires so much maintenance.
ERIN Literally, here I am coming in to this and I’m like oh my god it’s so expensive.
ALEX It’s not at all.
ERIN So what kind of mechanics go in to a pool? Like you said, a filter.
ALEX The pump, the heating. And then you have to get these jets that push the water around and it has a vacuum underneath. So it constantly is cycling the water as opposed to just sitting there. You have to check the skimmer, you’re going to find some dead things every now and then. For the most part you get algae problems you can scrub it.
ERIN And the little vacuums that run around the bottom.
ALEX It’s not like you’re out there for hours. I used to do it and it takes literally 5 minutes to go around the whole edge of the pool and scrub it if you want. You’re not sitting there with Clorox bleach, you’re just scrubbing.
ALEX My parents years ago tried to sell their house without the pool. Then my mom is like “forget it, we’re going to stay. We’re going to give up the membership at the country club and we’re going to put a pool in”. They put a pool in and when they went to sell it years later, they sold it within 4 days. Because of the pool. The house is on four acres. It just screamed “pool”. Now, I think having a pool in Bethesda is helpful too. In parts of Bethesda, there is just so much inventory out there. You’re not going to want to put one in in Clarksburg really, or Villages of Urbana. Some people in Kentlands have them.
ERIN You know I saw a property just recently that had a pool on the deck.
ALEX It’s on Masbury?
ERIN No I think it’s on Chestertown. But obviously you CAN do it, and it looked really nice! It was actually quite shocking. It looked very spa-like. It was a lap pool or it wasn’t a dive pool. It looked like a pool that you would truly only do swimming in it. What do you call that?
ALEX A wade pool. No, lap lane.
ERIN A lap lane, but a shorter one with the jets.
ALEX Like a wade pool. So we have a listing and I don’t know why they did this. It’s in DC. You wouldn’t expect it has an indoor pool but it has one of those what you’re talking about. It has where you’re swimming in place.
ERIN Like a treadmill.
ALEX They have that off their living room. It looks horrible. But, it’s under contract.
ERIN Someone liked it. That’s all that matters.
ALEX What’s the next topic?
ERIN As far as improvements. We talked about poo, what about repainting your house? Or getting new shutters?
ALEX I think that’s all great, depending on the color you’re going to choose.
ERIN Let’s assume that you don’t have an HOA that you have to contend with. What should be the inspiration behind the color, or any changes you’re going to make to your house? For example, when I was a child I wanted to match my makeup to my outfit.
ALEX So you wanted to be pink and purple.
ERIN But remember, that you’re not supposed to do that. I learned that your makeup should compliment your features, not what you’re wearing.
ALEX So you wanted blue eye shadow, blue shirt?
ERIN Exactly. As an adolescent. So my point is you want to accentuate the features of the house itself.
ALEX I think you can be quirky if you’re going…for example. Downtown Frederick. Annapolis. I think you can be quirky.
ERIN Oh yeah. But that’s not typical though.
ALEX I think around here you have to look at the architectural style of the home and get the feel of what it is. Is my house traditional? Is my house a little more modern? If so I always like to stick with classic colors. I like black and white, I like earth tones, I like black shutters, if you want to reverse it.
ERIN I love brick with black shutters. So good.
ALEX I’ve seen which looks really cool but is a little too forward now it’s more DC is matte black brick and white shutters.
ERIN Oh my gosh.
ALEX Or matte black brick, black lacquer shutters.
ERIN Wow! That’s modern.
ALEX I’m look at your marketing piece. If you wanted to paint that brick for example. The brick is this orange color on their marketing piece. It’s this house.
ERIN It’s a brick red.
ALEX It’s a brick red. If you wanted to switch it, I would say to keep the value of your home. Say someone wanted to paint their brick white I would keep your door white or a darker color and your shutters I would do black.
ERIN Do you think you should paint brick?
ALEX People love to. My sister did.
ERIN I think it can look great but…
ALEX It requires maintenance though.
ERIN Yes. So you can see that in downtown Frederick or even Annapolis where the line of the house. Because remember it’s all flat because it’s a rowhouse.
ALEX Annapolis is even worse because of the moisture and the salt water.
ERIN Do you think that the value? You’re giving your home great curb appeal obviously by updating the outside appearance. But if you’re spending $10,000 having your house repainted, as a reminder, you’re not going to get an extra $10,000 in your value because that’s a maintenance thing. That’s not a value thing.
ALEX I think it’s just a “I want to paint it while I live here because I love the way it looks”.
ERIN You love the way it looks driving up to it. So to touch on things that are Biggest Bang For Your Buck, let’s talk about Kitchens and Bathrooms.
KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS
ERIN I know you love those!
ALEX I do.
ERIN You can put money into your kitchen and actually double your investment.
ALEX You can do small things that will double your investment. Say you don’t want to rip out all of your cabinets. Your cabinets in general are in great shape. I would recommend to have them professionally painted on the inside, or refinished on the inside. Get new doors, facing, on the front. Like if it had an inlay in it and you wanted flat. But I wouldn’t do it yourself. I’ve seen a lot of cheap ones. You have to do it the right way. You have to sand it.
ERIN It is a long process. We looked into this in our other home. The same idea. To rip everything out would be very expensive. It would have looked great. But to have them refaced was a 4 day process. It was a long time.
ALEX It is, but it’s less than having to sit through construction. At the same time you can rip up your countertops. I always recommend if you have the space, a waterfall countertop.
ERIN Beautiful. I’ve seen it a lot more lately and it’s gorgeous.
ALEX Its a little bit extra. Make it thicker, don’t make it thin. I think that’s big. Lighting is another thing. Lighting is where you should spend your money in kitchens.
ALEX I think so. If you have a beautiful kitchen but it’s dark …?
ERIN Like under cabinet lighting, and above cabinet lighting.
ALEX Above cabinet lighting, under cabinet lighting, recessed lighting.
ERIN You have white cabinets, right?
ALEX Yea, I have them all the way to the ceiling. That’s my pet peeve by the way. I do not want cabinets that do not go all the way to the ceiling. They have to go to the ceiling because I don’t want to know there’s dust up there.
ERIN Oh, I never thought about that. Now I’m going to go home and wonder what’s up there? But if you have 12′ ceilings?
ALEX Then you should do it. Even if you have 10′. I have true 10′ ceilings. Not builder 10′, true 10′. And with that I have my cabinets to the top. I know there’s never going to be dust.
ERIN I’m going to have to find a picture now of my kitchen, because I don’t even know.
ALEX So these are the things you could do. I always believe that a good backsplash helps. Don’t have it too busy. Don’t have it look generic. Don’t go to Home Depot and pick the glass tile and throw it on up.
ERIN Oh, I see. Like not the one that’s already a piece. Do you know what I’m talking about?
ALEX Yeah, don’t pick the ones that you see too often. If you’re going to do it, do something that compliments not something that takes away. And that’s the same thing for bathrooms. Bathrooms, what people look for are now toilets, new vanities, make sure your tile is updated. The other thing about outside is playgrounds. Some people don’t want them.
ERIN That’s a good point.
ALEX Some people don’t want them. Either way it costs money to move it or to remove it.
ERIN So would you say that maybe you don’t want to do that?
ALEX If you’re going to do those kinds of things then you have to commit to it all the way. Be prepared. You need to hone in on who your buyer is going to be, that you’re so confident with your selections. When time comes to move you know this is who I’m already looking for.
ERIN You want to keep your demographic pretty big. You don’t want to narrow it down to, it’s just a family that’s going to buy my house. What if it’s not a family? What if it’s a retired couple who’s kids are grown?
ALEX I don’t think they’re going to have a giant playground because a retired couple are usually looking for something smaller.
ERIN Maybe. But you’re eliminating.
ALEX You are, but that’s okay though. You just need to know that. I always believe that if you’re going to do things you have to do it all the way. So playgrounds, don’t just throw a playground on top of grass. Throw it on top of turf, maybe box it in.
ALEX Whatever it may be, woodchips. Make it a piece of the house, not an afterthought.
ERIN I see. So it’s not something you threw on top of something else. It’s a dedicated space.
ALEX Everything should have purpose. Same thing goes for furniture. It shouldn’t look like you had extra furniture lying around and you didn’t know what to do. Every piece needs to have a place in the house. And don’t over clutter. I hate tables.
ERIN What I see some of these listings that incredibly cluttered. And I don’t know what it is. For example, the other day I was watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. My husband walked in. At that moment someone was walking in to Scott Septics home which is this very sprawling, beautiful home. Beautiful white-washed floors, dark railings, beautiful, white. It’s very very minimal. So minimal. And Darick’s like why do these people have these huge homes with no furniture. I was like, oh my god, I looooove it!
ERIN I love having so much clean space and so many corners that I can see. That’s what I like.
ALEX That’s the style, that’s the look for the home.
ERIN It’s very chunky almost. All the pieces are very big. Like banisters.
ALEX That’s how our house is. I’ll have to have you over. Our couch is this big piece, but we have nothing around it.
ERIN Around the perimeter. I’m with that.
ALEX I think if you’re going to do big pieces, you need to have less of them. Like what you were saying in the show. I love it. Because you’re house speaks. You’re actually showcasing the house.
ERIN You’re showcasing your home. Whereas your center island is a huge piece itself. And the windows.
ALEX It’s like art. Your house should be like art.
ERIN What pleases you. What sparks joy as they say.
ALEX No one likes a very overcrowded painting.
ERIN Yeah, I have some pretty stark walls and I’m okay with that. I think I’m going to do a gallery at one point. Up the stairway. Literally we’ve been in our house 2 years and I can’t. I need to find one piece that I like, and start there and build around it.
ALEX To wrap it all up, if you’re going to do things: kitchen, pool, playground, bathroom.
ERIN Don’t be too impulsive. Figure out what you’re going to do and invest some real time into dedicating that space and make it beautiful.
ERIN Not just for you, but for the future.
ALEX Like you said, do the research with the right contractors. With the right companies. Look at photos online. See what the trend is in your neighborhood. Are you going to stick out too much with these items? You don’t want to always be the one house that,
ERIN The nicest.
ALEX Not the nicest. But the one house that’s going to be hard to sell because it’s so out of place.
ERIN When I say nicest I mean you don’t want to completely comp out of your neighborhood. If you plan to make a huge sprawling swimming pool and there’s not a swimming pool three miles around you, you’re going to have a hard time keeping that value.
ALEX You’re going to have a hard time. There’s no demand for it.
ERIN Exactly. So you can make that investment and enjoy it. Get the biggest bang for your buck.
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