The Truth About the Value of Home Improvements

Have you ever wanted to update or remodel a room and wondered how much the improvement would increase the value of you home?   If so, you are not alone.  There are many common misconceptions around how much value you gain as a result of home improvements.

Homeowners often assume that all home improvements are investments.  The truth is home improvements CAN be a great investment if you do your homework first.  Upgrades, remodels and improvements often increase the value of your property but the question is  how much ROI (Return on Investment) you should expect.  Since the best (financial) surprise is no surprise you will want to make an informed decision about home improvements.


In this series, we are going to bust some real estate myths and replace them with tips for making sound financial decisions regarding your home.

Today’s myth…

The net value of your property will increase by an amount equal to or greater than the cost of the improvement.

Homeowners considering the sale of their home are often disappointed to learn that this is not true.   If cost of the materials plus labor for a home improvement project is not what determines the value increase…..then what does?

The market!

What would a typical buyer pay for those improvements compared to a home without those same improvements?   That is the real question and a knowledgeable real estate professional can help you answer that. Will a typical buyer pay more for a house with an updated kitchen?  Absolutely!   How much more?  Well…that depends on several factors.

This series of posts will dig into this issue in greater detail so please check back if you’d like to learn more about cost vs. value of home improvements.







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A Penny Saved is a Penny Gained… Especially When It Comes to Home Décor!

Welcome to the blog dear readers!  Today’s guest post is written by Megan Wilson of Cowley, Wyoming.   Megan is a friend to many always a bright spot in my day.  I hope you enjoy her real life experience with renting a home.

I didn’t grow up dreaming about my dream rental that I would someday have, rather I always dreamed about my dream home I would own as an adult! I was raised in the same beautiful home that my parents brought me home from the hospital to! This was my normal and what I expected for myself as an adult. Life has some fun ways of throwing twists at you!

Little house with text "For rent" and key

Through my College years and the first few years of married life I was a renter but always knew that being a home owner was my and my husband’s long-term goal. Fast forward 12 years, three handsome sons, 5 major moves across three state lines, and a career change for my husband, we found ourselves still as renters. Renting had been the best option for our young family and we still found ways to make our rentals feel like our own home. To learn more about how to make your rental your home you will want to read previous posts on this site.

Maybe this is just a downfall I have personally, but I’m hoping I’m not alone in this area (fingers crossed). Over the years as a renter I would purchase items that I thought I couldn’t live without and would be perfect for my someday dream home. I would then end up putting these items in storage since they didn’t have a place or need in our rental and then we had to move them several times. Talk about annoying! The magical day finally came when we purchased our dream home! I was so excited to finally unpack the treasures I had collected over the years of renting! Soon I found myself in a predicament. As we were moving into our new home I had several items that I couldn’t find a place for and some spaces in my new house that I needed to buy specific items for. If only I had waited to buy items specifically for my home when I became a homeowner.


May I suggest that if you are in the similar situation I was as a renter and planning on becoming a homeowner someday, start a “Dream Home Decorating Fund”. When you find yourself wanting to buy a treasure you have found for your someday home, pay yourself the money instead! This will take discipline, but it will all be worth it when the money starting to add up. Styles and home decor tends change and you will have a budget to decorate your new space to reflect your personality and style that fits you!


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Making A Rental Your Home- Part II

Are ready to enjoy and embrace your current rental and make it your home?  There are  limitations with rentals that you do not have when you own your home but I want to share with you how to make the best of what you have.

In most leases the parties have agreed that the tenant can’t make alternations or improvements without the written consent of the owner but don’t despair!  Here are some tips on making your rental YOUR home without violating your lease.


  1. Lighting– Proper lighting can transform a space. Avoid harsh overhead lighting whenever possible.  Lamps are great option because they provide a warm glow and the best part is that they are yours to keep.  You may also want to purchase new lower wattage bulbs for the fixtures. This will help with your power utility bill and they have a longer lifetime. When selecting low wattage bulbs choose a frosted bulb, they are much easier on the eyes than bright white bulbs.
  2. Rugs- Once again, a rug is yours to keep! Rugs are every tenants best decor tool.  There is nothing like an area rug to give a room a face lift, even when laid over top of existing carpet.  I’m also a huge fan of throw rugs to add a pop of color or to cover up an unsightly stain.
  3. Window Treatments– Tenants assume they are stuck with whatever generic blinds are on the windows but that is not true.  Adding window treatments is a fun, inexpensive way give your rental some personality.  Be sure that you do not block out too much natural light, especially if it is a small space or a basement unit.  Here are some “no-sew” ways to spruce up those windows.
    • Use Command Strips to put up a curtain rod and drape fabric remnants over it.
    • Use a spring rod and shower curtain rings to hang a valance.
    • For a higher end look you can build a cornice with foam board and cover it with fabric.
  4. Mirrors– If you are in a smaller home while you rent use plenty of mirrors.  If strategically placed mirrors can make all the difference.
    • Pay attention to how the light in that room will reflect off the mirror.  You want to create depth and a feeling of spaciousness but not a blinding glare.
    • Hang a mirror where you wish there was a window.  If you place it where it will reflect the outdoors you will have the effect of another window.
  5. Fresh Flowers – I realize this can’t happen 365 days a year but as often as you can have a vase of fresh flowers in your home.  Carnations last a long time so keep that in mind.  Live plants are another must in your rental.  If you weren’t born with a green thumb and can’t keep a plant alive then try succulents, they are beautiful and hardy. If live plants or succulents are still too much for you at least use greenery.

Interior in eclectic style

6. Minimize Clutter- When you live in a small home you learn to live with less.  I once lived in a house so small that if you left anything on the kitchen counter you didn’t have room to fix a bowl of cereal.  We learned the concept of  “less is more” out of necessity. Now that we are in a larger home I find that less clutter creates a sense of calm that I thoroughly enjoy.  Consider down-sizing and only keeping the things that are especially meaningful to you. Your treasures will standout all the more when they are not competing with all the stuff.

For more tips for tenants follow my Pinterest Board.

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Making A Rental Your Home

You have explored your  housing options and decided that now is the time for you to rent.  You have created your household budget and signed a lease on a rental that is the best fit for you.

If this is a temporary housing situation for you during a transitional period, there is a  tendency to live like you are camping.  Many tenants are hesitant to fully unpack because they may not feel like it is worth the investment of time and energy.

My advice is to go all in!  Even if you put things in storage, resist the urge to live out of boxes.  This is your home. There is something profoundly satisfying about creating a space all your own. Enjoy it and embrace it. It is a reflection of who you are.  Make your home comfortable for you and your loved ones, even if it’s short term.

Practice hospitality and resist feeling like your home is too small or inadequate to invite others in.  Hospitality is all about  people and relationshipsnot square footage or features.

Comfortable white double sofa

Another common challenge of a temporary living mindset is not engaging or getting involved in your community.  You may not want to commit to friendships or volunteer work because you’re concerned about not being here for very long.   I want to encourage you to go for it! You don’t know exactly how long your transitional periods will take.  If you wait until you are permanently settled in a community and  purchase your forever home, you will have missed some of the best opportunities.

At Johnson Home and Land we offer property management services. We assist tenants with finding the best fit for them.  We love our tenants and enjoy being apart of their lives.  It’s so fun to watch a rental be transformed into a safe and comfortable home.

Regardless of your projected time frame, I urge you to fully unpack, enjoy and embrace your home and your community.


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6 Steps to Leasing Your Next Home

You’ve decided now is the time to rent based on your unique circumstances !  

Here are the next steps.

Buy or Rent sketched on a little black chalkboard


  1. Budget– Your first step is to determine your monthly allocation for rent and utilities.  Here is a helpful article on what percentage of your household income should be spent on housing.
  2. Research- Next estimate the price range of the type of the rental properties in the local market. You can look online as well as contacting the area Chamber of Commerce for local property management firms or local landlords.
  3. Chose Your Criteria- Make a list of your “must haves” as well as your “wants.” These lists should include number of bedrooms and bathrooms as well as garage and location. Keep an open mind throughout this process.
  4.  Get Approved- Find out what is involved in getting approved for a rental that meets your criteria and is within your budget.  Different companies and landlords will have different processes for approval.
  5. Look At Homes- Look at all the properties you may be interested in and make a list of pros and cons of each.  Take notes and photos and don’t be shy about asking questions. As you look at properties the differences between your “must haves” list and “wants” list will become more obvious.
  6. Negotiate a Lease-Just like buying a home, leasing is a negotiation.  Some owners are more flexible than others. In most situations,  the property manager representing the owner cannot suggest anything other than the advertised price and terms. For instance, a higher rent might be charged for a shorter term lease or vice-versa.


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A Right Time For Renting

Everywhere I look I see media headlines screaming…

Now is the right time to buy real estate.”Own and rent  I hear that interest rates are low so NOW is the right time.  There are fewer buyers in the market during the winter so NOW is the right time.  There is more selection in the summer so NOW is the right time.  There are usually nuggets of truth in each of these but  how do you make sense of all this conflicting information?

The truth is we are all in a unique situation.

 Your unique set of circumstances is what will determine the best time for you to buy, sell or rent.

Let’s discuss how to know when it may be the right time for you to rent a home.

  •  Take a look at your employment situation– Many employees including educators, accept a 1-year contract when they are first hired.  Others are employed on a trial basis or probationary period. This can mean it’s the right time to rent.  Renting offers a great deal of flexibility for those who are looking to be transferred or those who are not settled on a career path.
  • Your financial situation-  Your home should be a blessing not a burden.  If you are financially strapped and you buy a house you won’t have the margin for emergencies. This invites stress and worry that you will not have as a tenant. Home ownership requires ongoing maintenance and occasional repairs that also do not need to be factored into a renter’s household budget.
  • Your stage of life-  Some of our tenants rent from us while they are building a house, building or rebuilding their credit, saving for a down payment, while they are engaged, while they are in college, and some even rent during retirement.  Home ownership is a  big responsibility and during life transitions renting can ease the stress of long term planning.

I would love an opportunity to walk with you though any phase of the journey.   If now is the right time for you to rent I will work to find the best rental home available.  We will consider your current budget as well as your  housing needs.

Thanks for stopping by,

Sarah Johnson, Broker/Owner

Johnson Home and Land Inc.


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Home Matters

The word home holds a very special place in my heart.  According to home is the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.”  It’s a beautiful word.

Home sweet home, wooden text on vintage board background with co

Some of the synonyms include, “at rest, at ease, familiar and in one’s element”.  One of the 3 fundamental human needs is shelter.  Our homes are the roof over our heads but aren’t they so much more than that?  After a long, hard day at work or school we look forward to going home.  We want to be at rest and in a familiar environment.  Our homes should be a safe place to fall both literally and figuratively.

What motivates me daily is my strong desire to serve people by assisting them with their home.  Whether renting, selling or buying, housing transitions are challenging and can be unsettling for many.  I love walking people through this process and giving them critical assistance in the home buying, selling or renting process. Establishing a new home matters.  This inspires me to push forward on the hard days and there is so much joy on the good days because I have the privilege of taking part in work that matters.

If you or someone  you love would benefit from assistance with their housing needs please let us know how we can help.

Sarah Johnson

Picture 34


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