The economy is getting stronger, and now is the time to invest in your
current property or make the leap into buying a vacation home. Here are
some ideas on how best to invest in high-end home upgrades or buy your first vacation property – both tailor-made for increasing enjoyment with your family.
By Kathy Tautfest, Bank of Oklahoma Mortgage Lender
With the economy picking up steam – and the Oklahoma economy really turning up the gas – now is the time to make the high-end upgrades to your home you’ve
always wanted. Or, with mortgage rates still historically low and the housing market getting stronger every day, take this time to dive headfirst into
owning your own vacation home.
MAKE YOUR HOME A RETREAT
Whether you want to improve your resale value before putting your home on the market or just upgrade your personal space for you and your family, now is
a great time to remodel or add on to your home in all the exciting ways you’ve always dreamed of doing.
Here are some suggested home remodeling projects that will improve your lifestyle and will also increase resale, whenever the time to move may come.
Adding outdoor luxury
Once you get past the common upgrades – renovated kitchens and baths – the next, most obvious place to invest in some quality, top-of-the-line improvement
in your home might be the outdoors. You might already have a home office with the latest technologies or a master suite with the finest appointments,
but how does your outdoor space suit your needs?
First, an in-ground pool will dramatically change your backyard, giving you entertainment, exercise and relaxation options. Don’t go for your standard
kidney shape, though. Instead, create a tropical oasis with a pool as the centerpiece, having the water snake around foliage or culminate in a waterfall.
Or go with a sleek, modern design with an infinity or vanishing edge. If the pool is designed for the younger set, remember to incorporate slides or
diving boards so all ages are entertained.
However, don’t stop with just a pool. Think of your outdoor space as an entirely new space to entertain and enjoy. Today’s outdoor grilling is nothing
like your father’s grilling experience. Outdoor grilling stations are full-on kitchens, with sinks, refrigerators and countertops for chopping and
preparing full meals. But, an outdoor kitchen is just the beginning of creating the ultimate outdoor living space. Open up your finished kitchen to
an outdoor living area, with luxury outdoor couches, tables and chairs. Follow the seating area by adding an HDTV, now easily protected from outdoor
elements by various covers and protectors. With a few additional improvements, you can easily entertain large groups or simply relax outdoors with
all the amenities found indoors.
Creating a media room
Consider adding or converting an existing space into a movie screening room at home. With this upgrade, remember to make sure the space is large enough
so everyone viewing the movie doesn’t feel like they are on the front row. You don’t want your guests to leave with a crick in their neck!
Next, have professionals wire the room for HD surround sound. You want to recreate the movie experience, which includes the booming sound you feel while
in your seats.
And, set your theater apart from the average theater by upgrading the seating options. There are plenty of great options on the market for fantastic seating
that will surpass those at your average movie-plex. From cup holders and footrests to plush padding and fabric, you can find just the right seating
that meets your desires. And, if not, work with designers to create exactly what fits your specific space.
Finally, no media room could be complete without the necessary ingredient for any successful movie night – snacks! Incorporate a wet-bar area that will
allow you to stockpile favorite movie treats for all the little kids … and big kids. Install a small refrigerator to hold all the pop and ice
cream treats, and add plenty of cabinet space for popcorn and candy. With these additions, you’ll never again need to step foot in a movie theater.
Cutting the gym membership
Let’s face it: half the battle of working out is actually getting yourself to the gym. Move the gym to your own home, and making time for your exercise
routine will be much easier. Think about adding a room or converting an existing room into a full workout facility. To start, create a room that is
light and airy – make sure to have lots of windows, light paint colors and mirrors. No one wants to exercise in a dark, dimly lit space. Make sure
the room is clear of junk – this room should have one purpose: exercise. Move in your equipment, and hook up a TV on the wall, if desired. Make sure
there is space to get ready, move around easily and store items to help you exercise – and that’s it. Resist the urge to have this room serve any purpose
other than exercising – don’t use it as storage, and don’t let the little one bring in toys. Having a place just for your health will increase your
chances of using it just for that.
BUYING A VACATION HOME
In addition to increasing the value – and enjoyment – of your own home now, you may want to consider jumping in to the vacation real estate market. Mortgage
rates are starting to climb up again, but they are still at historic lows. These great rates won’t last forever, and the economy is finally showing
significant improvement, so it is the perfect time to buy a second home. Here are some things to keep in mind as you think about investing.
It’s okay to start small
It can be intimidating to own secondary property for the first time. It’s okay to start small, with an affordable condo or cabin. Work with a mortgage
lender to find a budget you are comfortable with, no matter the economic conditions. Having a place to get away doesn’t have to be beachfront, for
now. Look for a small home, possibly located near an Oklahoma park or lake – like Grand Lake or the Beaver Bend area – to get your feet wet in the
vacation home market.
Look for a turnkey investment
When looking for your first vacation property, you don’t want to also have to worry about a renovation project. Look for a property that is clean, has
been well maintained, and is ready for you to enjoy right now. This will not only help with the stress of the purchase, but it will also allow you
to enjoy the home sooner. You will have plenty of time to upgrade or renovate areas to please your taste later, but you won’t have to worry about additional
costs and issues upfront.
Vacation property can be an income stream
Especially initially, a vacation home should be viewed – and purchased – as an investment as well as for recreation, not as a source of income. However,
as you get more settled into life as a vacation homeowner, you can always consider renting out the home for a source of income. After all, you can’t
live there all the time! Tax laws vary depending on how often, and to whom, you rent your vacation home, but the income easily could pay for many of
the costs associated with owning a second home.
Note: Kathy Tautfest has been in the mortgage industry for more than 25 years. She is a senior vice president with Bank of Oklahoma Mortgage and manages more than 40 mortgage experts serving the Oklahoma City Metro area.