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  • Illinois experts recommend quick-fix projects, products

    The year 2012 is showing improvement in home sales over 2011, a positive for prospective home sellers. The first two months, according to records provided by the Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR), indicate increased sales of 16.1 percent in January and 25.4 percent in February which included Leap Day. At the time of publication, sales in March had not been released.

    While the increase in sales is a positive, the IAR reports that selling prices remain somewhat lower than previous years, down 9.3 percent in January and 8.2 percent in February.

    Investing wisely in your home improvement projects can help close up that difference, according to several Co-op Connection Card businesses who offer discounts to members.

    Whether for aesthetic reasons or energy efficiency, making improvements can help move the house quicker, which in turn saves the seller money. But spending wisely is the key – so you recoup the greatest amount of your investment.

    Becky Kistler, store owner of True Value in Savanna, Ill. believes new windows are the way to go. She says a lot of people at this time of year venture in with tax refunds asking for more energy-efficient windows. Not only do they improve appearance, but they save in heating and cooling costs.

    For ease in cleaning and strong energy values, she suggests the Tempco line, saying she has personally experienced the quality they offer in her own home.

    Pam Wheelwright of Hoskins Building Center in Elizabeth believes in the benefits of new windows, too, but doesn’t limit her recommendations to that.

    “Sometimes it’s getting it to sell. A roof is a big one I see,” says Wheelwright. While it’s a costly improvement, buyers want to move into a new dwelling that is relatively low maintenance.

    Another higher end improvement is fiber cement siding. Wheelwright says you want to look at the investment before leaping because it costs nearly twice what vinyl costs. However, depending on the neighborhood, it may be the best choice. For example, putting vinyl on a house surrounded by others sporting fiber cement, will devalue your home. Other selling points for cement siding are its warranties. The brand recommended, known as Maxitile, if ordered with two coats of paint, will have a 25-year warranty on the paint and a 50-year warranty on the product. In short, it won’t need replacing.

    The ability to choose it in any color also makes it a standout. It comes in any paint or stain color, direct from the factory.

    Wheelwright believes strongly in any improvement, including indoor granite, new kitchens and baths.

    “It’s that first impression – that wow factor,” she says.

    John Jackson of Jackson Concrete and Construction, East Dubuque, is in the remodel business, too. He believes ranch homes from the 70s and 80s particularly, can take attract new buyers with a façade upgrade. He leans toward craftsman style pillars.

    “It dresses up the front of the house,” Jackson said. “I think it’s better than siding.” He suggests building a dormer or covered porch on for a new structural feature and using cedar covered posts, noting that he’s done three or four recently. He says customers often opt for brick or stone at the bottom and finish the support with the cedar. They can then be painted white or just clear-coated to maintain their integrity. If 4 x 4 posts already exist, he said using these sturdier pillars can add character.

    The businesses quoted in this story have partnered with their local cooperative to offer discounts to members. You can contact them:

    • Hoskins Building Center in Elizabeth, Ill. – 815-858-2444
    • True Value in Savanna, Ill. – 815-273-4304
    • Jackson Concrete and Construction, East Dubuque, Ill. – 815-747-2170

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