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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Budget Remodel Before Selling-Is It Worth It?

So this blog is completely different from my travel blogs. This is about getting into real estate to make extra money. Sometimes, you have to take financial risk to yield high you can fund those trips! 

I want to share my experiences in making small improvements to your home that can greatly affect the price point which leads to higher profit when selling. First home was purchased as a short sale and total remodeling investment was about $5000. The amount of time lived there was about 3 years. When it came to selling, profit was about a six figure return. 

I fixed a 3 bedroom/2 bath vacation rental in Volcano, HI. It was reminiscent of a grandmother's home with all her knick knack that she collected over the years. However, it was built in 2006 and purchased in 2013! First off, if you have a vacation rental stick with the basics. No one is there for your knick knacks. Only add things that will add value especially if it's not your primary residence. It was listed on the market. After receiving no offers after 5 months, the sellers decided to reach out to me to reassess the home and strategize how to sell the home at the same and desired price. I took into account the feedbacks from the showings to make it more appealing to potential buyers.

I originally budgeted for about $1000 but ended up spending $2300 with a 3 week time frame. 
While decluttering "fixes" were uncovered that was done poorly and issues that needed to be addressed. My suggestion is before fixing anything, take a close look to see if major issues need to be fixed that might come up on the inspection report that might affect the selling price. So, anticipate that you will go over budget. To me the "poor fixes" that were visible gave the impression to buyers that they will uncover more issues. 
  • The majority of the budget went to painting. When it comes to making the home look brand new again, I always consider painting. When done properly home will be brighter and cleaner. I originally budgeted $300 for paint and supplies (about 1200 sq ft) but spent an additional $300 to paint the ceilings, baseboards, and door trims. The home was originally painted a cream color and the master bedroom a green color that crept up to the ceiling. Although, home was painted neutral colors somehow when entering the home it felt like there wasn't enough light coming through. Please stay away from swiss coffee or cottage white paint! I went with white paint with green tones reflecting all the greenery outside the home.
  • The other major fix was the Master bathroom. Removed the wood laminate floors, re-tiled the floor, new sink vanity (local Norfolk pine from Kamuela Hardwoods), change the light fixture, painted the walls(Beher Silver Ash semi-glossy), painted the ceiling, replaced broken toilet, & new mirror for vanity).
  • Removed the majority of the furnitures, decorations that didn’t suit the area, de cluttered/ removed anything that was contributing to the mold issue. 
  • Decorated the home with Hawaiiana paintings from local artists that suited and reflected beautiful Volcano area. Rearranged some of the existing furnitures. Volcano is always wet so used 100% linens and ramie for beddings and pillow covers for their antibacterial, anti fungal, and absorbent properties.
  • Removed all the hodge podgy things that didn't suit the home. People commented that it was colorful, look and felt dirty, beachy theme that doesn't suit the area, dark, uninviting, and quirky.
(Living Room BEFORE: removed weird tile board behind fireplace and removed furnitures)

(Behr Paint & Primer Eggshell Arcade White. Accented with natural decor and Volcano/Hawaiiana paintings to reflect the area. Flowers and foliage were all from the yard)

Changed light fixture in Dining (Ikea Ranarap)

Master Bedroom BEFORE

Master Bath BEFORE


At the end, while during renovations, a couple that previously looked at the home when it was on the market came to look at the home and liked the small changes we did. Result: Rented about 10 months(made additional $300 per month) and purchased it at the desired price. 
So is it worth it? Yes, I think making these small and low cost renovations is worth it. I hope this helps and inspire you to consider making small changes that is budget friendly to your home before selling.


Friday, September 29, 2017

How To Travel On A Budget

Are you one of those that browse through instagram and look at travel photos and get a little envious? Then get annoyed with the people that post them like it's their job? Let's face it, we all wish we could do that but most of us are not born with a trust fund or have a sugar daddy/momma to fund spontaneous trips to exotic destinations and eat at Michelin restaurants. The majority of us works 5 days a week, probably get only 14 days or less of vacation time a year, and have expenses like a mortgage or college loans. 

So, what's my secret to traveling to awesome places without breaking the bank, staying at 4-5 star hotels, and even eating at Michelin restaurants? 

1. Budget your everyday finances
First and foremost, it's really important to see where your money goes on a daily/monthly basis. Find a way to include travel into the budget plan. Find  a way to save money, like skip that mani pedi. Cook at home rather than eat out. Sell items/clothes lying around. 

2. Flexibility of Date and Destination
Use Kayak Explore for airline deals or travel sites that allow you to see travel deals. Be flexible. Don't get stuck in just going to a particular destination. But if you are set on a certain destination, look into when it could be inexpensive to travel to that destination (Kayak can send you notifications when price drops for that particular destination). I know we all have a travel bucket list but the world is huge and if you keep an open mind of your next travel destination, you'll be surprise where you might end up. 

3. Travel to destinations where your money will go much further
I like going to countries where I can stretch my dollar. SE Asia is always a good place where you can get luxury for less - food and accommodations. Bali, Indonesia is always a go-to. In Siem Reap, Cambodia we stayed at a boutique hotel in middle of town (close to Pub Street) for about $60 that included free breakfast and ride to the airport.

4. Travel off season
Go when everyone is not traveling. Summer and Spring is usually more expensive especially on flights and accommodations. You'll find 4-5 star hotels for 1/2 the price. 

5. Research areas for restaurants, transportation, accommodations
Google, instagram, blogs on to find these things. I do this to give me an idea of how much I'm going to be spending for the trip.

6. Budget your trip
I give myself a budget or at least an estimate of what I want to spend. I try to spend less than $100 for food, transportation, and other expenses per day. I always eat cheaply for most of the trip and then splurge on a final meal at a nice restaurant. Stay at modest hotels in the beginning of the trip and stay at luxury hotel closer to departure date. I do the nicer stuff at the end of the trip because I'm winding down and I want to be relax before flying home. 

7. Use Credit Card points to pay for travel expenses 
In San Sebastian, we stayed at the Maria Cristina, the only 5 star hotel in the city by using credit card points. Some credit cards allow you to redeem points for hotels, airfares, and activities.

8. Travel with just carry ons
On one trip, I went to 5 countries and went on about 12 plane rides. Some airlines will charge for check in bags - that's added cost you don't want and the stress of worrying if you're going to reunite with your bags. I travel light and organize my carry on to maximize space and I usually find a laundry mat to wash my clothes. 

  9. Discounted accommodations
Use BOOKING.COM to look for deals. Get that discounted room from a friend/family that works in the hotel industry. This is another way to stay in luxury hotels for less. Also, check out boutique hotels- they often are cheaper than the large hotel chains.

10. Accommodations that include breakfast/happy hour
These types of deals are money savers. Sometimes all we have to spend is on lunch/snacks. When there is a happy hour that serves wine and light snacks, I sometimes skip dinner because I'd be too full when dinner comes. 

11. Visit places where admission are free
A lot of monuments or points of interest are free. 

12. Buy where the locals shop for food and toiletries
Australia was expensive - it still is. We spent a few days in Melbourne and by the time we got to Sydney, we were spending about $100 before lunch came. So, we found a grocery store and bought  bread, meats, cooked shrimp, that we substitute for a meal. 

I hope this helps you and feel free to share how you travel on a budget.
(Complimentary breakfast at Logis De La Cadene)