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Friday, December 10, 2010

Understanding Real Estate Representation

Understanding Real Estate Representation
Article From By: G. M. Filisko

Whether you're buying or selling, it's important to choose representation that meets your needs in the transaction.
Photo: Flickr CC License: Marcia Todd
You have choices when selecting representation in a real estate transaction. Here are five tips for understanding which type of legal relationship with a real estate professional, called an agency relationship, will best protect you when you buy or sell a home.

1. Buyer's agency

When you're buying a home, you can hire an agent who represents only you, called an exclusive buyer's representative or agent. A buyer's agent works in your best interest and owes you a fiduciary duty. You can pay your buyer's agent yourself, or ask the seller, or the seller's agent, to pay your agent a share of their sales commission.
If you're selling your home and hiring an agent to list it exclusively, you've hired a selling representative--an agent who owes fiduciary duties to you. Typically, you pay a selling agent a commission at closing. Selling agents usually offer or agree to pay a portion of their sales commission to the buyer's agent. If your seller's agent brings in a buyer, your agent keeps the entire commission.

2. Subagency

When you purchase a home, the agent you can opt to work with may not be your agent at all, but instead may be a subagent of the seller. In general, a subagent represents and acts in the best interest of the sellers and sellers' agent.
If your agent is acting as a subagent, you can expect to be treated honestly, but the subagent owes loyalty to the sellers and their agent and can't put your interests above those of the sellers. In a few states, agents aren't permitted to act as subagents.

Never tell a subagent anything you don't want the sellers to know. Maybe you offered $150,000 for a home but are willing to go up to $160,000. That's the type of information subagents would be required to pass on to their clients, the sellers.

3. Disclosed dual agency

In many states, agents and companies can represent both parties in a home sale as long as that relationship is fully disclosed. It's called disclosed dual agency. Because dual agents represent both parties, they can't be protective of and loyal to only you. Dual agents don't owe all the traditional fiduciary duties to clients. Instead, they owe limited fiduciary duties to each party.

Why would you agree to dual agency? Suppose you want to buy a house that's listed for sale by the same real estate brokerage where your buyer's agent works. In that case, the real estate brokerage would be representing both you and the seller and you'd both have to agree to that.

Because there's a potential for conflicts of interest with dual agency, all parties must give their informed consent. In many states, that consent must be in writing.

4. Designated agency

A form of disclosed dual agency, "designated agency" allows two different agents within a single firm to represent the buyer and seller in the same transaction. To avoid conflicts that can arise with dual agency, some managing brokers designate or appoint agents in their company to represent only sellers, or only buyers. But that isn't required for designated agency. A designated, or appointed, agent will give you full representation and represent your best interests.

5. Nonagency relationship

In some states, you can choose not to be represented by an agent. That's referred to as nonagency or working with a transaction broker or facilitator. In general, in nonagency representation, the real estate professional you work with owes you fewer duties than a traditional agency relationship. And those duties vary from state to state. Ask the person you're working with to explain what he or she will and won't do for you.

Other web resources

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who zealously protected her clients' interests as a lawyer. A frequent contributor to many national publications, including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.
Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is a Tank-less Water Heater Right for You?

Is a Tank-less Water Heater Right for You?
Article From By: Joe Bousquin
Photo: Flickr CC License: roger mommaerts

Tank-less water heaters cut energy bills but aren't the right choice for everyone. Here's how to figure out if going tank-less makes sense for you.
If you're a hot water multitasker who washes clothes, dishes, and yourself at the same time, a low-capacity tank-less water heater could serve you a "cold water sandwich" or leave you high and dry. But tank-less water heaters, which heat water only on demand, are more energy-efficient than traditional water heaters, which warm water whether you need it or not. What's the best way for you to get into hot water? Read on.

Traditional vs. tank-less water heater
Traditional hot water heaters typically live in your basement and provide gallons of hot water at one time: an 80-gallon tank heats enough water to shower, run a dishwasher, and do a load of laundry simultaneously. But standby energy loss is significant with hot water heaters, and once you've exhausted the hot water supply, you'll wait 20 to 60 minutes for the heater to cook up more.

A tank-less water heater produces hot water only when you need it. When you turn on the faucet, water is heated on the spot as it flows through capillary-like pipes heated by either a powerful gas burner or electric coils. (There are no oil-fired on-demand water heaters on the market.)

Gush to a trickle
Although a tank-less water heater can pump hot water all day, it can't produce a large amount all at once. And it can snap you out of a hot shower bliss with the "cold water sandwich effect," a sudden splash of cold water that results from turning the hot water faucet on and off repeatedly.
A traditional tank heater puts out 7.5 to 9.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM), enough to shower, run the dishwasher, and do a load of laundry all at the same time. The typical tank-less water heater, however, puts out only 2.5 to 5 GPM, enough to handle only two uses at a time.
Be warned: Not all flow rates are calculated the same. Energy Star measures GPM based on a 77-degree increase in water temperature for the incoming supply, while some companies list their GPM flows at 35- and 45-degree rises. The more heat the water requires to reach the desired temperature, the slower the flow rate.

High upfront costs
A gas-fired tank-less water heater system costs $1,500 to buy and install, nearly double the price of a conventional gas water heater, and $575 more than a high-efficiency tank model. In addition, while a conventional water heater typically uses a half-inch gas line, a tank-less water heater requires three-quarter-inch pipe. That plumbing change costs from $25 to $40 a foot, potentially adding many hundreds to initial costs. ??On the bright side, your new energy-efficient unit may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $300 on purchase and installation through 2011.
An electric tank-less water heater costs as little as $400 installed. But it doesn't qualify for a tax credit because it is less efficient than gas and is better suited for point-of-use applications, such as instant kitchen hot water, rather than a whole-house system.

Installing multiple units
One solution to the limited output problem is to install multiple on-demand units. Because it's small-about the size of a carry-on suitcase-you can place a tank-less water heater along any stretch of pipe--in the attic, basement, closet, or crawlspace. You can install two or three units to serve different parts of the house, or even dedicate a unit for a particular use, say a washing machine.
Multiple on-demand units increase overall energy efficiency. By bringing hot water close to where it's needed, you reduce energy loss and increase efficiency by 50% over a conventional hot water tank system, about $165 in annual savings for an average household.

Energy and money savings
According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, a tank-less water heater is more efficient and uses less energy than a conventional water heater, providing a $25 to $107 in annual savings.

If your hot water use is low (less than 41 gallons per day), a tank-less water heater will be 24% to 34% more efficient.

If your hot water usage is high (about 86 gallons per day), a tank-less water heater is 8% to 14% more energy efficient.

Installing an on-demand unit at each hot water faucet gives an energy savings of 27% to 50%.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When to Replace Your Appliance

When to Replace Your Appliance
Article From By: Douglas Trattner
Photo: Flickr CC License: Orin Zebest
Consider age, repair cost, pricing, energy efficiency, and whether to modify your kitchen to accommodate a new unit.
When your refrigerator, dishwasher, or washing machine act out, you may feel torn about whether to call a technician or junk the unit in favor of something new. In times of plenty, it's easy to convince yourself that a product requires replacement when all it really needs is a minor repair. But today, your more prudent self may be scrutinizing every financial decision. Conversely, the cost of repair can be a case of throwing away good money that could be better spent on a more energy-efficient model.

Use these six guidelines to home in on the smart choice for you the next time your appliances behave badly.

1. Still under warranty?
Here's the simple part. Check the owner's manual and your records to see if the unit is still under warranty. If so, schedule a service call with an authorized technician.

Warranties vary widely between manufacturers, appliances, even retailers. Most cover parts and labor for a specified time, followed by a period of just parts. If you purchased an extended warranty from the retailer, examine that document as well.

2. No longer under warranty-how old is it?
The closer an appliance is to the end of its average useful life, the wiser it is to replace rather than repair, says Jill A. Notini, vice president of communications for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Average Useful Life is the typical age at which an appliance needs to be replaced because it dies or proves too costly to repair.

Given that most refrigerators last an average of 14 years, it may not be financially prudent to repair a 12-year-old model. Conversely, it might make sense to fix an 8-year-old built-in oven knowing that generally, it should last 16 years.

3. The 50% rule
For appliances that are no longer under warranty but still in the prime of their useful life, consider the 50% rule. If the cost of the repair will be more than half the price of a comparable replacement, it's generally wise to replace it, says Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor at Consumer Reports magazine. The rationale? For the price of the repair and one future repair, you can enjoy a more reliable new machine.

To help make your decision, get a repair estimate. Service calls come with a price whether or not the appliance gets fixed, so factor that into your decision. Angie's List pegs the average cost of an appliance service call at $60 to $100, not counting the repair itself. Many service providers will deduct these charges if they're hired to complete the repairs. If you decide to go ahead with the repair, expect additional service visits to complete the process.

4. Can you fix it yourself?
Because labor accounts for more than half the cost of a typical repair, you can save big by tackling jobs yourself. Numerous online resources can help diagnose and fix common appliance ailments. Many of these same sites also maintain databases of owner's manuals while connecting appliance owners with reputable parts suppliers.

The downside? You risk causing additional damage to machines if you're not the handy person you thought you were. Worse, there's the danger of physical harm. And self-help repairs often nullify warranties.

5. Factor in future energy and water savings
Present-day appliances are so much more energy and water efficient than previous models that it can be fiscally wise to upgrade rather than repair. A modern refrigerator uses roughly half the electricity of its 20-year-old predecessor, says Notini. New dishwashers get plates every bit as clean as older machines while using a fraction of the water and energy.

But replacing an aging appliance with a new highly efficient one still requires some evaluation. "If you intend to stay in your home for another 10 to 15 years, it may be worthwhile to upgrade to the latest efficient model, Notini says. If you're planning a move soon, it may be smarter to repair it and pass it on to the next homeowner.

6. Take into account hidden costs
There's more to the cost of replacing an appliance than the price of the new machine. If you have built-in cook-tops and refrigerators, you may face costly modifications to countertops and cabinetry when you replace, says Lora C. Donoghue, a kitchen designer in Charlotte, N.C. Even so-called standard-size machines may not fit into the same space as your previous model as standards continue to evolve.

Or the placement of water connections and power outlets may differ. And switching from an electric range to gas can involve a costly visit from the plumber or utility company. Likewise, upgrading from an older gas range to a newer one with electronic features may require the installation of a new wall outlet.

Although these guidelines can help you make an orderly fiscal decision, you may find that your enjoyment of a new unit-perhaps your dream appliance is on sale-simply trumps everything else.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Stop Drivers From Speeding in Your Neighborhood

Stop Drivers From Speeding in Your Neighborhood
Article From By: Donna Fuscaldo
Photo: Flickr CC License: paul.orear

You have the power to slow down drivers on your street--if you're willing to invest time and perhaps some money in a traffic calming plan.
Afraid to let your children play outside because of the drivers who barrel down your block? Take action by exploring traffic calming tactics that'll keep your street from becoming a speedway for rushing commuters and harried deliverymen. Communities across the nation have been able to affect change by installing everything from raised speed humps to traffic circles designed to slow speeders. All it takes to get started is a bit of grass-roots organizing.

Begin by doing some consensus-building among neighbors. A united front can go a long way in getting the attention of the local government officials who you'll need on your side. Just don't expect change to happen overnight. Depending where you live and how quickly the wheels of bureaucracy turn, you could be facing a wait of six to 12 months, or more. In some jurisdictions, you may even need to dip into your bank account to help pay for traffic calming measures.

Get your campaign started
Rallying fellow residents around your stop-speeders cause is critical. A petition is a good to start. Get signatures from as many people on your street as you can. In Abilene, Texas, for example, a written request to city officials for a speed hump must come from at least five residents; 70% of the homeowners on the street must ultimately sign off on the measure. Make sure your neighbors understand that the process is a long one that can include a financial commitment.

Procedures vary by state or even community, but in general the next step is to contact the local director of traffic or transportation. If you live in a private community, reach out to your homeowners association first. Try to do legwork beforehand by writing down the dates and times you typically see speeders. Send a detailed letter outlining the problem to your HOA board or transportation director. Copy your elected officials on the letter as well.

Once the transportation director is notified, a survey is usually undertaken to determine whether a speeding problem exists. If it does, officials will develop a traffic calming plan. Public meetings may be held, so make sure to attend. Affected residents may be polled to confirm support of the plan. Once approved, the plan is implemented. In some cities, like Tuscon, Ariz., residents foot all or part of the bill. A speed hump can cost $1,500 or more.

Speed humps are tip of the iceberg
Traffic calming devices come in all shapes and sizes. The most recognized are speed humps and speed bumps, raised mounds of pavement placed across roadways that compel drivers to slow down. Bumps are steeper while humps have a gradual rise. Speed tables are flat-topped speed humps. Twelve-foot-long humps have been shown to reduce speeds by 22% in a study of 179 sites conducted by Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants. Traffic accidents declined by 11%.

Another option is traffic enforcement. A police car on your street is an effective deterrent, but only a short-lived one. Once police move on, speeding is likely to resume. A neighborhood watch program is an alternative. Phoenix, for example, has one in which residents are armed with radar equipment to collect data on days and times when speeding is at its worst. The city then sends letters to vehicle owners urging them to slow down. Since drivers don't get speeding tickets, Phoenix officials say the long-term impact may not be that pronounced.

The most costly and time-consuming traffic calming measures involve major design changes to roads. Roundabouts, traffic circles, curb extensions, and lane narrowing are some tactics cities can use to slow drivers. Traffic circles, raised islands placed at an intersection, are better suited for neighborhoods that don't have a lot of traffic volume. Roundabouts are used in higher traffic areas. Curb extensions narrow the width of roadways, especially at pedestrian crossings. Roads can be narrowed by extending sidewalks, or adding bicycle lanes or parking spots. The Fehr & Peers study found these tactics to be less effective than humps at reducing speeds.

Bumps in the road to traffic calming
A quicker strategy to implement is placing signs on your street. There are simple signs like "Children at Play" that can be posted to encourage drivers to slow down. There are also electronic signs that flash how fast a vehicle is traveling. Like a neighborhood watch, the effectiveness is limited because there's no enforcement penalty tied to either. In fact, some cities warn that "Children at Play" signs can be dangerous because they give parents and kids a false sense of security.

Don't be surprised if some neighbors resist your traffic calming efforts. Speed bumps are often criticized because they can damage vehicles and delay emergency responders. According to the National Motorists Association, a group that opposes certain traffic calming measures, humps and bumps also increase fuel consumption and emissions because of the forced braking and accelerating. The National Motorists Association favors efforts to improve the flow of traffic on main roads so it doesn't spill over into residential neighborhoods.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Buy a Range

How to Buy a Range
Article From By: Douglas Trattner
Photo: Flickr CC License: LearningLark
When deciding on a new range, here's what you'll need to know about features, style, price, and performance.
Most ranges do a fine job of boiling water, baking cookies, and roasting the holiday bird. The major distinguishing factor will be whether the one you buy does so using gas or electricity. In general, a gas range with electronic ignition (instead of a gas-fired pilot light) can cost up to 50% less to operate than an electric model, depending on the price of utilities in your area.

Because there's very little difference in energy consumption among ranges, these appliances aren't required to bear EnergyGuide labels, nor are they included in the Energy Star program. Other than by fuel type, homeowners typically select ranges based on budget, ease of cleaning, appearance, and performance.

Cost range: $350-$2,000 and up

Likely additional costs: Delivery, installation, haul away, gas line hookup, or electrical outlet installation if none exists

Average life span: 11-15 years

Gas or electric: "When a customer comes in for a new range, the first question I always ask is 'Gas or electric?'" says Lenny Kaminski, sales manager at B & B Appliances, an 85-year-old retailer in Cleveland. Typically, it's the home rather than the homeowner that will make this decision. Buyers who have a natural gas line in the kitchen will inevitably purchase a gas-powered range, while those without choose electric.

The one major exception is when a kitchen is undergoing a major remodel, allowing a homeowner to switch to gas with relative ease (assuming the house has a main line). Electric ranges typically require a dedicated 220-volt outlet.

Size: The standard width of a residential range is 30 inches. Those boasting side-by-side ovens and high-end "commercial-style" models can extend to 36, 40, and even 48 inches wide. However, smaller 20- and 24-inch models are available for kitchens short on space. The oven compartment on a standard-size range is 5 cubic feet, large enough to cook a 30-pound turkey.

Ease of cleaning: All but the least expensive electric ranges now feature smooth, ceramic glass cooktop designs rather than traditional coil burners, making them easy to clean. The jump from entry-level coil-burner electric ranges to those with smooth tops is roughly $150. Sealed-burner designs are present on almost all gas ranges and are relatively easy to clean.

Self-cleaning ovens are standard, appearing in models starting as low as $350.

Convection: One of the first major upgrades a buyer often makes, says Kaminski, is choosing an electric or gas range with convection heat. With convection, an internal fan circulates the hot air throughout the oven compartment, improving heat distribution and generally reducing cook times. Many home and professional cooks swear by the technology. Customers can count on spending an additional $200 to get the feature.

Burner quantity and type: The standard quantity of burners on a typical range is four, but buyers need not stop there. Stepping up to a mid-range gas or electric stove often comes with an additional fifth burner. Depending on the make and model, that burner could be an ultra-low "melting" burner or a centrally placed oval burner that accommodates griddle pans.

Likewise, a "bridge" burner is a smaller element located between two larger ones that, when on, creates one large heating element ideal for griddles and roasting pans. Five-burner ranges generally start around $800.

Burner performance: "BTUs absolutely affect performance, with some of the higher-powered burners boiling a pot of water in half the time of standard one," says Kaminski. Both electric and gas burners have gotten more powerful over the years, offering increased performance at a relatively modest extra charge.

While 9,000 BTUs is standard, so-called "power" burners can climb up to 15,000 BTUs. Conversely, ultra-low "simmer" burners prevent stove-top scorching thanks to their scaled-back BTU output. Expect to pay around $200 extra for these well-equipped appliances.

Going pro: Avid home cooks--or those who follow current trends--often prefer the look and feel of a commercial-style range. Like the restaurant appliances they emulate, these residential versions boast ultra-high-powered burners, multiple large-capacity ovens, and convenient grill/griddle inserts.

Homeowners should expect to pay between $4,000 for a 30-inch unit up to $10,000 for a top-of-the-line 48-inch model. Likely additional expenses will include the installation of an equally high-powered exhaust hood and possibly some enhanced structural support.

Warming drawer or extra oven: Many contemporary ranges replace the conventional lower-level storage drawer with either a smaller second oven or a warming drawer. A variable-temperature warming drawer is ideal for keeping prepared food hot or warming chilly dinner plates. Expect models with this feature to start in the $1,000 range.

Second ovens, even the smaller ones that take the place of the storage drawer, can be very useful when cooking multiple items. Though shorter than the main compartment, the additional oven easily accommodates casseroles, cookie sheets, and platters. Configurations are available that position the smaller oven above or below the main compartment. Models start at $1,200.

Additional useful features: Temperature probes that monitor the progress of cooking items ensure the turkey will never again be overcooked and dry. Unfortunately, the technology doesn't appear on many models under $1,300. Battery-powered countertop probes, in contrast, sell for only $30. Smooth-glide oven racks, porcelain-coated racks and grates, and halogen lighting all make the cooking process less of a chore. The question is whether the additional hundred dollars each is worth it.

Expected maintenance/repairs: Oven bulbs will need to be changed periodically. Coil-style electric burners often fail, but they're easily replaced for around $30. Glow coils that ignite gas ovens can fail, requiring a $50 part plus labor. More costly is a cracked glass top on a smooth-top electric range, which can cost $250 to replace. Electric control panels, while reasonably reliable, can cost up to $250 plus labor to repair.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling
Article From By: John Riha
Photo: Flickr CC License: sparr0
Kitchen remodeling can turn a ho-hum room into your home's pride and joy. Here are strategies to help your project run smoothly.
Home owners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute . And with good reason. Kitchens are the hub of home life, and a source of pride.
A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 66% of the initial project cost at the home's resale, according to recent data from Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report.
A minor kitchen remodel of about $20,000 does even better, returning more than 72% of your investment.
To make sure you maximize your return, follow these seven smart kitchen remodeling strategies that will help you come up with great kitchen design ideas.

1. Establish priorities for a kitchen remodel

The National Kitchen and BathAssociation (NKBA) recommends spending at least six months planning your kitchen remodeling project. That way, you won't be tempted to change your mind during construction, create change orders, and inflate construction costs. Here are planning points to cover:
Cooking traffic patterns: A walkway through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Child safety: Avoid sharp, square corners on countertops, and make sure microwave ovens are installed at the proper height-3 inches below the shoulder of the primary user but not more than 54 inches from the floor.

Outside access: If you want easy access to entertaining areas, such as a deck or patio, factor a new exterior door into your plans.

A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

2. Keep the same footprint

No matter the size and scope of your kitchen remodel, you can protect your budget by maintaining the same footprint: Keep the walls, locate new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, and forget bump-outs.

Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you'll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

3. Get real about appliances

It's easy to get carried away during your kitchen remodeling project. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.
High-priced appliances are worth the investment if you're an exceptional cook. Otherwise, save thousands with trusted brands that receive high marks at consumer review websites, like and, and resources such as Consumer Reports .

4. Light your way

Good kitchen lighting helps you work safely and efficiently.
Install task lighting, such as recessed or track lights, over sinks and food prep areas; assign at least two fixtures per task to eliminate shadows. Under-cabinet lights illuminate cleanup and are great for reading cookbooks. Pendant lights over counters bring the light source close to work surfaces.

Ambient lighting includes flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights. Pair dimmer switches with ambient lighting to control intensity and mood.

5. Be quality conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they'll look great for a long time.
If you're planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.
"Individual upgrades don't necessarily give you a 100% return," says Frank Gregoire, a real estate appraiser in St. Petersburg, Fla. "But they can give you an edge when it comes time to market your home."

6. Add storage, not space

Here's how you can add storage without bumping out walls:
Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more--and you might need a stepladder--but you'll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won't have to dust cabinet tops.

Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

7. Communicate early and often

Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:
Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.

Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiques. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.

Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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