Best ways to ‘invest in your nest’

Whether you already own a house or condo, or plan to buyone, you will profit from the sage advice of Barbara K. in her new book”Invest in Your Nest.” This highly detailed book explains which homeimprovements add value to your residence, the approximate costs, and even whichjobs you can do yourself and which should be done by professionals.

Please don’t ask me why author “Barbara K.” usesthat name. Maybe she’s in the witness protection program? Just between us, herreal last name is Kavovit. If I knew as much about home renovation as sheobviously does, I would be proud to use my real name.

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This fascinating new book has two goals: one is to encouragereaders and show them how to buy their first homes. Barbara K. places specialemphasis on single moms, because that’s what she is. Judging from the photo ofher huge home she built, she and son Zach have more than enough room. Thesecond purpose is to show how to add value to a home by making smartimprovements.

The first one-third of the book is about how to buy yourhome. Barbara K. reveals how she bought her first house when she was earningjust $40,000 per year. Yet she bought a $500,000 house. The author takesreaders step by step through the process, from checking and correcting creditreports, to finding the right house, and obtaining a mortgage.

Barbara K. recommends buying a fixer-upper house and doingas much fix-up work as possible. “Why pay someone else for work you can doto your exact specifications yourself? Don’t be afraid of work, which can makeyou money at the same time,” she advises.

Along the way, the author suggests working with real estateprofessionals, such as a buyer’s agent, mortgage broker, professional homeinspector, and real estate attorney, to avoid costly mistakes.

After buying a house, Barbara K. says, “Every time Ibuild, renovate, or move in to a home, I think about how I can increase itsvalue so I can eventually sell and upgrade.” In other words, she wants topyramid her real estate wealth while improving her lifestyle by buying homesneeding profitable improvements.

Although the first few chapters are the most valuable, theremainder of the book goes into great detail about upgrading a house, room byroom and component by component. There is virtually nothing Barbara K. doesn’ttackle. For example, when discussing kitchen improvements, she goes into great detailabout counter finishes, their desirability, and approximate costs.

As an experienced home renovator, I wish I had this bookwhen I started out years ago. It would have saved me from some costly mistakes.However, if the book has a flaw, it is the author makes the many homeimprovements seem too easy. Especially when fixing an entire home, nothing isas neat and uncomplicated as Barbara K. makes it sound.

Chapter topics include “The Big Buy”; “TheEssential Sell”; “The Inside Story”; “Finishes and Function”;”Adding On”; “The Crucial Kitchen”; “The IndispensableBathroom”; “Curb Appeal”; and “Rooms for Living.”

Although not a separate chapter, I especially enjoyed theattention paid to outdoor landscaping, which I always thought was veryimportant. “Landscaping is the picture frame around your home. Just as thewrong frame can diminish a stunning piece of artwork, the right frame elevatesthe painting’s beauty. In much the same way, landscaping can truly showcaseyour home,” the author emphasizes.

Home renovators, whether just sprucing up your residence ortaking on a major home fix-up, will profit from this book because it explainsin great detail the projects that add value to homes. Especially valuable arethe cost and time estimates, as well as the author’s advice based on herexperiences renovating many homes. On my scale of one to 10, this outstandingbook rates a solid 10.

“Invest in Your Nest,” by Barbara K. (RodaleBooks, Emmaus, PA), 2006, $19.95; 219 pages; Available in stock or by specialorder at local bookstores, public libraries, and amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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