Fields of Real Estate Sales & Construction
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September Newsletter

September 2013



Where did our summer go? Sept. 3rd was the official first day of school for Fox Valley children. Time flew by this summer and we are entering the fall. Seems unreal~!!!  Please remember to use extra caution while driving, with the kids, buses, car pools and bikes, there are more chances for accidents. We want everyone to arrive alive!


I have gotten a lot of questions over the past months about what remodeling projects pay off and why. After some research, I was able to break it down to six categories. I hope you will find this helpful whether you are preparing your home for sale or looking to buy a home that has been or needs to be remodeled.

Number One- Repairs get the biggest returns 

The smart money now goes into "un-deferring" needed maintenance. That's because while buyers might appreciate enhancements like Jacuzzis and Sub-Zeros, they won't tolerate a house with a leaky roof or antiquated plumbing .If a property is known to have issues, today's buyers won't even look at it.  Trying to keep problems a secret can cost you big money and legal problems. Be honest and upfront about all issues. If buyers discover defects during an inspection, it's now common practice to ask sellers not only to pick up the tab for the repair but also to pay a penalty to compensate the buyer for the inconvenience of having work done. The $20,000 you thought you saved by putting off a roof repair, could turn into a $30,000 credit to the buyers at closing.

NUMBER TWO-remodeling beats adding on 

McMansions have gone the way of gas guzzling cars & big hair--- and large additions are no longer are prudent. There's been a fundamental shift toward quality over quantity. Having a big, formal living room plus an everyday family room is less desirable than having one multi-use common space. So rather than adding on, you're better off repurposing existing square footage by reconfiguring the floor plan or capturing unused basement or attic space.

Want an eat-in kitchen? Remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room ($2,000 to $8,000, depending on whether it's load-bearing or contains plumbing). That will instantly create a large open concept without a huge investment. 

NUMBER THREE-Eco-friendly upgrades can save cash

Some green improvements pay you back long before you sell your house. Install energy-efficient features, such as Energy Star appliances and extra wall insulation, and you'll see lower energy bills every month. Consider the many rebates available and savings are even more substantial.

Green features are increasingly a selling point.  Many of today’s buyers are first-time home buyers in their thirties and they've been raised to care about carbon footprints and being eco-friendly. A mindset all of us should adopt! So go green whenever you have the opportunity.

The best way to go green is when you need to replace an item. Take your furnace as an example; upgrading to high efficiency model will increase your purchase price by about $500 (after rebates), compared to a standard furnace, but it will save $150 or more in annual heating costs.

NUMBER FOUR-Tech infrastructure trumps cool gadgets

Home electronics may seem like a bargain because prices have fallen about 50% over the past three years and continue to drop, according to Stephen Baker, president of industry analysis at NPD Group, a market research firm.

Still, that doesn't change the fundamental problem with expensive built-in technology: Put in a $10,000-plus dedicated home theater today and something better will come along tomorrow and make your system look as if it's from the Mesozoic Era. With buyers seeking any excuse to low-ball their offers, they're not going to reward you for an out-of-date system.

Tech infrastructure is different, however. Anytime you're opening up walls for a construction project, have cabling and Ethernet ports installed. At about $80 a room, it's a low-cost way to provide the capability for whatever technologies come along. 

NUMBER FIVE-Let the Joneses be your guide

During the boom, you could be the first on your block to have a gourmet kitchen, spa bathroom, or in-ground pool and count on others following suit. Even if the neighbors never copied your luxury add ons, there was plenty of equity growth to cover your costs.

Sadly, that fudge factor is gone. You really have to keep your house's amenities in line with the neighborhood homes these days. NEVER over improve!!!

If other houses on the block have real marble countertops, by all means add one to your house, but if everyone still has faux blue-marble Formica from the '70s, you're not getting your money back.

An important tip to remember is to keep your projects design-neutral so they'll appeal to the greatest number of people. You may think it is boring, but choose those neutral color palettes and use traditional style fixtures unless your house has a modern architectural style. If you plan to stay in your home forever, then by all means, go with your personal favorites, but for the sake of your pocket book, stay away from fads. They quickly go out of style and will date your home. You will not be happy!

NUMBER SIX-The new payback time is five years

As with any volatile investment, the longer your time frame, the lower the risk. Don't take on a big project if you're likely to move in less than five years. There's too much chance that any money you put in -- aside from necessary repairs or superficial cosmetic work -- could be lost while the housing market continues to meander.

If you plan to stay awhile, don't delay starting a project. Home improvements are a bargain right now, with contractors bidding 10%, 20%, even 40% lower for the same work than just a year or two ago, says Bernie Markstein, senior economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

Hire them while they're eager for work and make it clear that you'll be getting multiple bids so they'll be motivated to undercut one another's prices. But check out their references and the quality of their work. The lowest bid does not guarantee quality. Poor workmanship equals a poor finished project and that will devalue your home.  Be wise and choose the best contractor for the job.  In the long run, a good remodel or cosmetic change can make the difference in a buyer choosing your home over the competition.


Duck Creek Estates, our premier housing development has some great lots available for your dream home. There are walk out lots, wooded, water fronts, water views and each parcel is gorgeous. Home building has increased and total private residential construction spending increased marginally to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $334.6 billion in July 2013 according to Census estimates. Spending continues to improve. The current reading is 17.2% higher than a year ago. Total private residential construction spending is up 46.4%, single-family 84.5%, multifamily 143.8%, and improvement-related spending 29%. NOW is the time to invest in a home site for your dream home! There is no better place than DUCK CREEK ESTATES!  It is conveniently located halfway between Green Bay and he Fox Valley, near Freedom. GREAT INCENTIVES!! CALL FOR DETAILS.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.

— Henry David Thoreau


I know it is a little early, but I wanted to give you plenty of time to plan and get photos to us. FOR WHAT??? you are asking. Our annual “Cutest Costume Contest”.

Just submit a photo of you, your child, spouse, pet, niece, nephew, grandchild or friend and we will pick the winner!  FIRST prize is a $25.00 gift certificate to Red Robin and second prize is a $15.00 gas gift card. Third prize is a $10.00 gift card to Kohls.  Please submit your photos to us via email or snail mail by Oct 20. Winners will be announced in the November newsletter. Good luck!!! We hope to publish the best pictures in upcoming newsletter and on our website


Real estate and the economy in general seem to be rebounding. I see HIRING signs in many places, people are a little less hesitant to spend and there is hope. All good omens!  With that said, we are seeing more buyers, but our inventory is being depleted. NOW is a great time to sell, inventory IS low! We need your listing. We have great commission rates and incentives. Give us a call today. Remember we are the small company with a BIG heart”!!!!



What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson


Fields of Real Estate Sales & Construction
N2657 County Rd N
Appleton, WI 54913
Office (920) 358-9003  Fax (920) 687-0358
Kris' Cell (920) 707-3002
Judy's Cell (920) 242-0423
Contact us for more details!