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Outdoor Kitchens Making a ComebackA few years ago, outdoor kitchens were considered a hot amenity, but they began to fall out of favor. In fact, in a December 2015 survey by the National Home Builders Association, builders indicated that outdoor kitchens would be one of the least likely features to be added to new single-family homes in 2016. But now, architects say homeowners and prospective buyers are showing resurgent demand for outdoor cooking spaces, according to the American Institute of Architects' most recent Home Design Trends Survey.

"Homeowners continue to find ways to add value to their homes by creating more functional space, which is apparent in the rise in popularity of outdoor kitchens," says Kermit Baker, chief economist of the AIA. "Kitchens have become a hub for the

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What Really Makes a Property AppreciateA home’s value generally appreciates 3 percent to 4 percent every year, which is attributed mostly to population growth and inflation. However in 2016, homeowners saw appreciation jump to an average of 6.3 percent.

Realtor.com®’s research team sought to find out what would boost a home’s value even more and what home features buyers may be willing to pay more for. Researchers analyzed millions of listings on realtor.com® from 2011 to 2016 to calculate the annual price growth rate of homes with certain features.

Here are some of the clear winners in housing appreciation:
Small homes: Homes smaller than 1,200 square feet appreciated by an average rate of 7.5 percent a year for the past five years. On the other hand, larger homes of 2,400 square feet or

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Why Removing That Wall Isn’t Always So EasyDesign TV shows make it look so easy: Just remove a wall or two and you have the open floor plan you’ve always wanted. But not so fast.

Tearing down a wall could open up a host of other problems—some structural, if not done properly. It could also prove unexpectedly costly.

To hire a professional contractor to remove a wall could cost you anywhere from $500 to $4,000, according to HouseLogic.com. To that cost, you’ll likely want to add a structural engineer to design a customized plan for removing the wall.

“You’ll then get the peace of mind of knowing that you’re not going to do serious damage to your home,” says Jesse Fowler, president of Tellus Design + Build in Southern California. Too often, homeowners looking for a cost-saving move grab a sledge

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A golf course is no longer the showpiece of a master-planned community. Instead, buyers are showing a greater preference to live near extensive trail networks and shared gardens. Developers are responding with new developments that are pushing out golf courses in favor of other outdoor areas that foster a sense of community.

“What we’re seeing is this trend toward helping people interact with each other and helping them interact in natural environments,” says Ken Perlman, a principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in San Diego. “There is a real desire to be outside, to have their space, and to get their breath of fresh air.”

In response, developers are adding in more walking trails in a community. But the trails can’t just be in a straight line,

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4 Bathroom Fads That Turn Buyers OffFor some buyers, the bathroom is a deal breaker. So if your listing includes these fading bathroom trends, you might have a harder time selling it. Realtor.com® notes some fads you may want to suggest your sellers change before putting their home on the market.

All-white bathrooms: They're tough to keep clean, so this trend is definitely reaching its end. "White tile and flooring can stain very easily, and any little mark glares at you from across the room, tainting the crisp, clean concept of an all-white look," says Tonya Bruin, CEO of Canada-based To Do-Done Handyman Services. "I have so many homeowners coming to me now to ask for these white baths to be torn out and replaced with a more varied color design." To offset an all-white look without a

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Cities Becoming the Next Big Tech HubsMove over, Silicon Valley, because there are some new tech hubs gaining clout. And where the technology industry goes, real estate booms are sure to follow.

The tech boom in Silicon Valley has prompted more U.S. cities to focus on attracting new jobs in the industry, but these are places where most Americans can also afford to live comfortably, according to realtor.com®. The number of people moving to Silicon Valley has dropped by 27 percent between 2012 and 2015, according to Joint Venture Silicon Valley, leaving the door open for other places to attract new residents.

"Silicon Valley is still the hub it's always been," says John Reed, senior executive director for Menlo Park, Calif.-based tech recruiting firm Robert Half Technology. "There are other

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How Trees Benefit Home ValuesThe U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station says that planting a tree in front of a house increases the home’s sale price by an average of $7,130. So, in essence, money can grow on trees.

Planting a tree on the west side of a home can reduce a home’s energy bills 3 percent within five years and 12 percent within 15 years. Specifically, west-side trees can bring summertime electric bills down by an average of $25 a year and reduce air conditioning use by 30 percent, according to the Forest Service.

Trees and other landscaping can also lower the impact of damaging winds on a home, potentially reducing 35 mph winds to 10 mph, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. This also lessens the load on the furnace working to heat the home on those

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The Upgrades That Make Landlords QuiverRenters want to make a place their own and fit their style, but it may cost them their security deposit.

“If you decide to paint the walls while you are there, you must return them to their original color or the landlord is within their rights to use the deposit to pay for it themselves,” Trent Zachmann of Renters Warehouse told realtor.com®.

Most landlords treat unapproved modifications and improvements made by renters the same as accidental damages when it comes to withholding the security deposit.

“An owner can withhold all or part of the deposit to correct either type of issue,” Zachmann says.

Landlords recently vented to realtor.com® about some of the upgrades they have most often seen tenants make that have prompted them to withhold security

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Bad Credit Can Triple Home Insurance CostsHomeowners with a bad credit score can expect to pay double—in some cases, even nearly triple—what owners with solid credit pay for their home insurance, according to a new state-by-state study by insuranceQuotes.

Policyholders with fair credit pay an average of 36 percent more than those with excellent credit, the study found. When a consumer's credit is poor, premiums can more than double, increasing an average of 114 percent.

“Many consumers aren’t even aware that, in most states, credit plays a significant role in determining how much you pay for home insurance,” says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst of insuranceQuotes. “So, even if you don’t plan on using credit to borrow money, it still affects your finances.”

Consumers in these states saw the

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Kitchen upgrades have overtaken bathroom updates as the remodeling project homeowners want most, according to the National Association of Home Builders' Remodeling Market Index report covering the first quarter of 2017. Bathroom renovations previously held the number one spot, but kitchen redos barely pulled ahead in the most recent report.

NAHB's survey showed these are the most common jobs for remodelers:
• Kitchen remodeling: 81%
• Bathroom remodeling: 80%
• Whole-house remodeling: 53%
• Room additions: 45%
• Windows/door replacement: 36%
• Finished basement: 27%
• Repairing property damage: 27%
• Decks: 25%
• Bathroom additions: 24%
• Roofing: 23%
• Enclosed/added porch: 23%
• Handyman services: 22%
• Siding: 19%
• Second story additions: 16%

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