Friday, April 26, 2019

8 Guides That Make You a Better Homeowner

Being a homeowner is exciting and rewarding, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. Luckily, there are many tools and guides available to help you be the best homeowner you can be.

The following is a guest post written by Jessica Thiefels.
Homeownership in the U.S. in increasing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, the Q2 2018 U.S. homeownership rate was 64.3 percent, up from 64.2 percent in Q1 2018 and 63.7 percent in Q2 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Being a homeowner is exciting and rewarding—not to mention it comes with a lot of perks. No more landlord, no more renting, and no more leases. While owning a home has a long list of benefits, it also comes with great responsibility and hard work. Being a good homeowner means retaining the value of your home with continuous maintenance, keeping your financial health in check and much more.
Luckily, there are many tools and guides available to help you be the best homeowner you can be. Below are eight of our favorite guides and tools to help you be a better homeowner.
If you plan on renovating your home, head over to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide. This tool gives you accurate estimates for common home renovation and repair costs.
Whether you are planning on remodeling your bathroom or installing a new garage door, True Cost can help. The tool takes real costs from real home projects and combines it with local and national cost data to give you the closest estimate for what you can expect.
Use this estimate to vet potential contractors and companies so you can avoid working with someone who will charge too much.
Homeowners insurance is critical, as the protection for your most valuable and expensive asset—your home. However, not all homeowner insurance policies are created equal, and with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which is best for you.
Consumer Report’s Homeowners Insurance Buying Guide not only gives homeowners tips on how to choose the best insurance but it also provides ratings for the top homeowners insurance companies such as Allstate, Amica and State Farm.
If you’ve already signed up with homeowner’s insurance, use this guide as a way to evaluate whether now is a good time to switch to a new provider, negotiate rates, or update your current coverage.
With TV’s being part of the modern home, more and more people are mounting them to make space and create a cleaner look. However, mounting your TV isn’t the easiest homeowner task and one that can lead to a lot of damage, both to your home and your TV.
Puls’s guide is a great resource if you want to mount your television without ripping out a wall or making one too many holes—you own that wall afterall, so you want to take good care of it. The Puls blog is also filled with homeowner guides for your garage door, kitchen and more, so keep it bookmarked.
CrimeReports is an online tool that provides up-to-date information on crimes within your neighborhood. All you have to do is type in your zip code to see what’s happening or what has happened recently. 
The tool also allows you to set update alerts, so you always know if something is going on in your neighborhood. You can even register your security camera as a resource for local law enforcement, keeping your home and your neighbors safe.
When deciding what to remodel in your house, consider both use and need within the house, in addition to return on investment (ROI). The Cost Vs. Value report is put out each year and tells you which renovations will lead to the greatest and lowest return.
For example, the 2018 report found that a garage door replacement has the greatest return. Consider this data as you embark on new home projects to make sure you’re getting the most for your time and money.
Are you the handy type who likes to take on home renovation and décor projects yourself? Home Depot has a robust selection of DIY and how-to guides on a variety of home projects, including lawn and garden ideas, shower door configuration and kitchen backsplash guides.
These how-to guides and helpful DIY videos provide step by step instructions as well as material recommendations pulled straight from their shelves. It’s a one-stop-shop for those looking to start a home passion project.
Being an eco-friendly homeowner doesn’t have to be expensive. EnergySavvy is an online tool that helps homeowners minimize wasted energy and save money. Create a profile and get a score based on your current energy efficiency. Once you’ve done that, the tool then finds different ways you can improve your energy efficiency. The tool even suggests contractors to help you implement the improvements and find rebates to make it cost-effective.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Top Tips to Make Your Offer Stick



WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRIPOSTED ONTUESDAY, 09 APRIL 2019


It’s that time again, when the Spring real estate market starts to get hot (or gets even hotter, depending on how steamy your particular corner of the world is). Multiple-offer situations and selling prices that soar over asking prices are great for sellers, not so much for buyers.

If you’re looking for an edge to ensure you get the home you want, we have some tips.

Work with the right real estate agent

You can’t underestimate the experience and skills of a quality real estate agent. Not only will a great agent be able to guide you toward the best properties for you, but also may be able to use their network to identify homes that aren’t even be on the market yet or to work closely with an agent to get your offer accepted.

Make sure your offer is first

Some sellers will hold off on accepting an offer to see if they get more offers. There might not be anything you can do to entice them unless you’re planning to make an offer that’s over their asking price. But being the early bird can have its benefits. That may mean being ready to run to a listing at a moment’s notice, or giving the thumbs up via Facetime if one of you can’t leave work the minute the perfect home hits the MLS.

Go without an inspection

This is risky, and your real estate agent may advise you against this. We would only offer it as an option in cases where you’re being shut out of home after home and are looking to do extensive renovations anyway.

Up your budget

If you’ve made several offers on homes and have thus far been unsuccessful, you’ve probably already had a discussion with your real estate agent about increasing your budget. Here’s another really good reason to go ahead and put more money toward your home purchase: It could allow you to move into another price bracket. If you’re a first-time buyer who is looking in a lower price range, you’re in the most competitive market there is. Adding even a few thousand dollars could make the difference, and the change to your monthly mortgage payment will be negligible.

Consider the associated expenses

If you’re worried about upping your budget, think about how you can save on associated expenses, and put that money into your mortgage, instead. Look for homes without a homeowner’s association. That could save you up to several hundred dollars per month. Look at areas where you don’t have to pay a toll for your daily commute. That adds up. If you’re looking at attached properties, front-yard maintenance may be included, and there may also be an on-site gym. There are two monthly expenses you can get rid of.

Watch the contingencies

“Sellers have the upper hand in a multiple-bid situation, and they want offers that are clean and concise,” said NerdWallet. Bruce Ailion, Atlanta-based Re/Max Town & Country Agent, told them, “Don’t include things like needing to wait for a spouse or partner’s approval, asking the seller to purchase a home warranty or requesting that the seller leaves or repairs certain items. You also don’t want to ask the seller to pay your closing costs; find an affordable attorney or title company to represent you. Having too many of these items in your contract will make it likely that a seller tells you ‘no’ over another offer.”
Be flexible
In a multiple-offer situation, the seller is looking for the easiest path to closing. Provide that, and you just might be the home’s new owner. The trick is finding out what they really want—beyond the right price, of course. It could be that a shorter closing would do the trick. Or maybe you can offer them the opportunity to rent back until school gets out so their child can finish up the year.

Write a letter

Yes, writing a sappy letter to the seller telling them all about you and why you love their home so much is shameless pandering, but sometimes shameless pandering works. Don’t forget to include pictures, and the cuter your kids look, the better.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending April 13, 2019

Housing activity is on the upswing after a slow start to the year. Showings, new listings and pending sales are increasing across much of the country, and inventory is straining to keep pace with demand. These pivotal weeks of the spring market are worth watching with extra care, as they may portend the entirety of the 2019 residential real estate market. Buyers are certainly active. Sales and prices will be strong if there are enough options to choose from.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending April 13:
 • New Listings increased 1.8% to 1,689
 • Pending Sales decreased 6.0% to 1,228
 • Inventory decreased 2.0% to 9,223

For the month of March:
 • Median Sales Price increased 6.5% to $275,000
 • Days on Market increased 15.8% to 66
 • Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.5% to 98.6%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale increased 5.6% to 1.9

Publish Date: April 22, 2019 • All comparisons are to 2018 All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2019 ShowingTime

Minneapolis Area Assosiciation of Realtors

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Star is Born: Coldwell Banker Announces Project North Star

We’ve got some big news. Announced yesterday at Gen Blue in Las Vegas, Coldwell Banker kicked off “Project North Star,” a transparent rebrand.

We’ve got some big news. Announced yesterday at Gen Blue in Las Vegas, Coldwell Banker kicked off “Project North Star,” a transparent rebrand.

This isn’t your ordinary rebrand. Yesterday, was day one, we showed you our new logo and now the real work begins. Over the next six months, we’ll be working to develop all the ways that the new mark will come to life. Beginning in 2020 we’ll start to phase in our new logo and update our look – in offices, on front yards and on screens, big and small, across the globe.
But today, I want to take a look back, at how we got here, to this new logo. I want to explain why we’re starting a rebrand at this particular moment.
As of today, Coldwell Banker has:
● 92,000 agents worldwide
● An average sales price 16% above the NAR national average
● More $1 million+ transaction sides than any other brand
● More people on the Swanepoel 200 than any other brand
These stats are impressive, we need a mark that captures all of this.
So how did we get here?

So how did we get here?
I love our brand. I’ve spent almost my entire career here and I couldn’t be happier about that. I bleed blue. So do many others. And for good reason, there’s a lot to be proud of. We’re a brand that’s not only lasted 113 years but one that has continually pushed the bounds for the whole industry. We pioneered the seller’s disclosure agreement, we brought real estate search to YouTube, we launched CBx back when many of our competitors still thought AI stood for Allen Iverson. We’re pretty ingenious, pretty cutting edge and pretty inventive, yet our logo – the blue box – is not…pretty. In our case you can’t judge a book by its cover. But it started to feel like some people were.
So, we’ve spent the past twelve months wrestling with this question: how do we ensure that our logo, our signature mark, that’s seen by millions of people each day, is the best possible representation of our brand? My team started designing and re-designing, dreaming and imagining a logo that could do our network justice. Ultimately, we kept coming back to the idea of storytelling, which in turn led us to the new logo, the CB North Star.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” That quote from author and professor, Robert McKee, is, in my opinion, one word too long. The word “today” could easily be removed and make the statement even more memorable. To me, storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world – always has been and always will be.
The best stories center around heroes and villains. The intrigue lies in who is cast in what role. But many real estate brands today rely on a dated trope. They cast the agent as the hero and consumers as the damsel in distress.
Snow White is a classic example of what the real estate industry gets wrong about story telling. Snow White is up against a horrible villain who is bent on her destruction. And the only possibly way she could ever defeat the villain is for the hero – Prince Charming – to swoop in and save the day. I know what you’re thinking – what does this have to do with real estate? But wait, don’t you see? This is the storyline the real estate industry loves to tell. We start with the consumer who is up against a villainous process known as “buying or selling a home” and the ONLY possible way they could ever overcome it is for the agent to swoop in and save the day.
That’s the old way of telling stories that has become passé. No one wants to be seen as a damsel in distress, plus telling a story that puts yourself as the hero does nothing to endear yourself to the audience, in fact it does the opposite. This is where I see an opportunity for our brand.
We’re telling a new story… the hero’s journey.
We see the homebuyer or seller as the hero. So where does the agent come in? Let’s use one of my personal favorites, Star Wars, as the example. Whereas Snow White started with a damsel, here we start with…the heroine, Rey. She is still up against a villain who is bent on her destruction. Instead of being helpless and needing Prince Charming to swoop in and save the day, our heroine has the power to save herself, but that doesn’t mean she can do it alone. Rey turns to a guide, Luke – her own North Star – for help on her journey. This perfectly mirrors real estate today where the consumer is the hero but still finds themselves up against a stressful and emotional process. They aren’t helpless. They are more well equipped with information than ever before, but because the world of real estate is not their day-to-day, they seek the help of a guide – the agent – to show them the way.
For the past 113 years, longer than any real estate company on the continent, Coldwell Banker’s world-class agents have served as guides, as North Stars, showing individuals and families to the homes of their dreams, consistently setting a high bar for an entire industry.
We established the first code of ethics. The first website to showcase listings. The first international real estate app for iPhone / android. And the list goes on and on.
And that’s how we got to this new logo, a mark we are calling the “The CB North Star.”
The North Star symbolizes the guiding force that is the Coldwell Banker network. Even in a shifting real estate landscape, our agents remain a constant, guiding consumers as they navigate the home buying and selling process. What’s unique about the North Star is that it’s at the center of earth’s celestial movements. Every other star revolves around it. Those that try to follow a different star quickly find that they are lost. There’s only one that can be relied upon to stand the test of time. Regardless of change, it will remain a fixture and guiding force.  You can use the North Star to guide you home from anywhere in the world; a compass may point you in a given direction, but it can’t guide you home.
A transparent rebrand
I love the story behind the CB North Star mark and the first thing I wanted to do, as a marketer, was tell everyone, but as our team discussed how to roll out the new logo we thought critically about each aspect of the process and each person who would be impacted. And we know we’re not going to get this rebrand right all on our own, we need our guides – our North Star – our network, along on this journey.
Yesterday was day one, the logo reveal, and now we begin testing, developing and building our new look. We have a solid foundation, we know our mission:
To empower our people to leave their mark on the world of real estate
And our core values:
Home. Awesomeness. Ingenuity. Excellence.
Starting today, we will begin testing the mark in real world scenarios, making adjustments, improvements and harnessing the feedback of our network and customers to enhance how the CB North Star works in the real world. This research will continue throughout the year, and we’ll chronicle our journey across our blog and our social channels. In the fall, we’ll share our full new identity standards. Then we’ll work with our offices to build a timeline for changing over to the new look.
Here are some initial renderings of concepts we plan to test this summer:
Guiding people home
At the end of the day, our agents and brokers are trusted advisors, guiding people through the most important financial decision of their lives.
We believe the CB North Star logo tells the world and our people who we are.
After all, everyone knows there’s no power quite like star power.

Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Burnet Blue Matter

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Trends in Landscaping Design to Try This Year

Here’s a list of this years most up and coming popular trends to modernize your landscaping and add a touch of refreshing curb appeal.


Whether you’re trying to sell your home or update the one you recently bought, there are plenty of ways to modernize your landscaping and add a touch of refreshing curb appeal. The latest trends include homeowners stepping outside the box with landscaping designs that have Mother Nature’s best interest at heart. Here’s a list of this years most up and coming popular trends.
Growing Produce
If you’re going to add plants to the garden, you might as well also grow something to eat. Planting edible options, like fruits and vegetables, is a great way to add interest and beauty to your landscaping that also offers plenty of health benefits. Growing food in your yard is a trending design that allows you and your guests to appreciate how food is grown. It’s also great for the environment and helps cut down on the weekly grocery budget. Choose fruits and vegetables that thrive in your community for an easier way to manage your garden.
Privacy
Speaking of privacy, you don’t have to install an ugly wooden fence. Plant a quick growing hedge or shrub to provide an extra barrier between your outdoor living space and your neighbors. Even a low growing shrub, like a boxwood, can create a semi-private feel to an area without hindering the view. Planting trees is another excellent way to add privacy and natural beauty to compliment a house.
Asymmetry
Shapes found in nature are rarely perfectly straight lines. Many homeowners now prefer the creativity of nature by reflecting curved or slanted lines in their landscaping. Slight curves on the outside edge of a garden bed and curved walkways are trending right now. These asymmetrical lines not only make your home more appealing, but they also create a softer overall look that embraces nature’s shapes. You can also include a free formed garden bed in the middle of a large lawn space that will add value to your home as well.  Be sure to use a weed eater to properly trim all edges for the best look possible. 
Xeriscaping
So you want a beautiful lawn and garden, but what if you don’t have time to keep it maintained? Xeriscaping is both a popular landscaping technique and design that incorporates plants acclimated to a specific region and decreases the amount of maintenance by using less turf. These plants are typically locally native plants that require little to no added water. They do well in the current climate conditions of the area and can be left alone for the most part.
Xeriscaping also encourages homeowners to replace lawn areas with non-organic mulching options, like stone, to create a truly unique look. While xeriscapes are more common in arid regions of the country, some homeowners use this type of landscaping in smaller portions of their yard that are either hard to access or have trouble growing other plants.
Adding any one of these landscaping techniques to your yard will help raise the overall curb appeal of your home. Consider changing a problem spot in the yard to a xeriscape or adding plants that provide nutritious food options. Creating privacy with quick growing plants as well as incorporating curved lines into your yard are other trends in landscaping design to try this year.

Cat Murphy is a gardening and landscaping writer, and outdoor extraordinaire.
Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Burnet Blue Matter Blog

Monday, February 11, 2019

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending February 2, 2019



Despite weather events that have brought frigid temperatures and heavy snow to large swaths of the U.S., residential real estate markets have performed better than anticipated so far this year. While a complete downturn in sales and prices was not at all expected, some softening was anticipated. Instead, pending sales are performing well in many markets, while new listings are not experiencing any negative swings of concern.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending February 2:
 • New Listings decreased 9.2% to 912
 • Pending Sales increased 4.4% to 834
 • Inventory increased 2.6% to 8,023

For the month of December:
 • Median Sales Price increased 4.0% to $258,000
 • Days on Market decreased 6.6% to 57
 • Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.2% to 96.9%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale increased 13.3% to 1.7




Publish Date: February 11, 2019 • All comparisons are to 2018 All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2019 ShowingTime.

Friday, February 8, 2019

4 Tips to Making Your Home More Energy Efficient in 2019


Check out these four tips to make your home more energy efficient this year.
The following is a guest post by James Witts.
If your resolution for 2019 includes cutting back on household expenses, making your home more energy efficient should be at the top of your list. You’ll find a wide range of products to help decrease your home’s energy consumption. Check out these four tips to make your home more energy efficient this year.
Go Solar
Harnessing the power of the sun is an easy way to incorporate energy efficiency into your home this year. Rooftop solar panels are becoming more popular and less expensive. Tax incentives can drastically reduce the cost of these systems.
Other solar powered options include outdoor lighting. You can choose a variety of lighting options that won’t consume any electricity. Solar powered flood lights, pathway lights, garden and porch lights are just a few of the many options available. Many of these lights are also motion censored, making them even more energy efficient. Consider installing a few of these around the outside of your home.
Auto-Renew Filters
The heating and cooling systems of your home are the primary source of energy consumption. Replacing older furnaces with newer energy efficient models is an excellent way to instantly cut down on energy costs. Can’t afford the newer options? Consider ordering your furnace filters online with an auto-renewal option. You’ll receive a new filter every few months making it easy to change. Doing so can help reduce energy costs as the heating and cooling systems won’t have to work as hard to force air through a clogged filter. Having the filters sent directly to your home also makes it more likely that you’ll replace them more often.
Plant Trees
If you live in the city of trees or an area with plenty of shade you may already be living more efficiently than you think. If not so much, an excellent way to add prolonged energy savings to your home is to plant shade trees in the yard. Not only do trees cut down on the amount of heat that hits your home, but they can also raise your home’s overall value. Trees help the environment by providing more air filtering qualities to the neighborhood. They also provide homes for pollinators and area wildlife. An Auburn University study concluded that your home’s energy costs will be reduced up to 11% by just having a mere 17% of your home shaded by a tree. Planting a few shade trees around your house today is a great investment that will make your home energy efficient for years to come.
Install A Tankless Water Heater
Many homeowners are choosing to ditch the large water heaters that can take up a good chunk of energy by continuously heating many gallons of water. A Tankless water heater only heats up the water that you immediately use. These smaller water heating systems cut down on the amount of space needed for heating water and cut down on the wasted energy of heating water that will need to be reheated later. Both gas and electric powered tankless heaters are available in these on-demand applications.
Any of these four tips will save you money and make your home more energy efficient in the new year. Upgrading to a tankless water heater and solar powered lights may cost you up front, but think of the savings you’ll see in 2019 and for years to come.
James Witts is an eco-conscious home improvement writer.

Reposted from Coldwell Banker Burnet Bambu Blog

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Protect Your Home From the Extreme Cold

Many parts of the U.S. have been struck with a snap of subzero temperatures. While keeping themselves warm during the bitter cold, homeowners also need to take precautions to keep their home safe, too.
In Wisconsin's capital, the Madison Water Utility posted a photo on Twitter to show homeowners how a burst pipe can damage a home. The photo was taken at a vacant home in Madison. “They shut the heat off, so then the water burst up in the top level, maybe a toilet or a bathtub, and it obviously just kept leaking and leaking and leaking,” Matt Grauvogl, Madison’s Water Utility Field supervisor, said about the photo to WKOW.com.
Here are a few tips from the experts to protect a home from the extreme cold:
Open cabinet doors. This may seem unusual, but HouseLogic, a home maintenance and remodeling website operated by the National Association of REALTORS®, suggests opening any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom during cold weather. “This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing,” the site notes. “While this won’t help much in pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.”
Insulate. Keep drapes and blinds closed except when windows are in direct sunlight. Also, cover window air conditioners and insulate electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls with foam seals, which are available at home centers. Run paddle ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to help circulate more warm air, recommends “Today’s Homeowner With Danny Lipford.”
Turn the faucets on inside. Turn the faucets on occasionally to keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. Aim for about five drips per minute, suggests HouseLogic.
Change filters on heaters. A heater needs to be checked annually to help prevent issues later on. But until you can schedule a checkup, change your filters, especially if you haven’t done so in a while. A clogged filter can prevent heat from getting into the home. “It’s no different than our vehicles that require preventative maintenance,” Steve Kistner, general manager at Kalins Indoor Comfort, told KTIV.com. “Our heating and cooling systems need the exact same things so they can work when we all count on them in this extreme cold. Eighty to 90 percent of the calls we go on right now are maintenance-related.” 
Check outdoor connections. Make sure any outdoor spigots on all hoses have been disconnected and the spigots have been turned off and drained, advises the Madison Water Utility.
Shut off water immediately if pipes are frozen. If your pipes are already frozen, turn off the water immediately. Close off any external water sources, such as garden hose hookups. “This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes—the worst-case scenario,” HouseLogic.com notes. “This will also help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system—and thus, your home.”

Originally posted by the National Association of Realtors - Realtor Magazine

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending January 26, 2019



The unemployment rate rose to 4.0 percent last month, a seven-month high. This may prove to be a forgettable blip, as other economic indicators are showing continued strength in the job force, including 100 straight months of employment gains punctuated by the most hiring in 11 months. The construction sector had its best month of employment since last February. With the Fed holding off on further interest rate increases, 2019 is beginning favorably for residential real estate.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 26:
 • New Listings increased 6.1% to 938
 • Pending Sales increased 5.5% to 783
 • Inventory increased 2.9% to 8,100

For the month of December:
 • Median Sales Price increased 4.0% to $258,000
 • Days on Market decreased 6.6% to 57
 • Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.2% to 96.9%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale increased 13.3% to 1.7





Publish Date: February 4, 2019 • All comparisons are to 2018 All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2019 ShowingTime.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Budget Friendly Ways to Finish Your Lower Level

Transform your basement into a living area, laundry, bathroom or workspace you can use now — without a full renovation.

Houzz Contributor, Nicole Jacobs
We’re always looking for more space in our homes, it seems, whether for extra storage, an additional living zone or a new spot to decorate. Often, valuable space can be found in the basement, but fully developing this square footage can be expensive. Add up the costs of framing, flooring, drywall, electrical and finishes,and your project may run into the thousands of dollars. Introduce new decor, and you’ve got an even pricier endeavor.
But there are ways to enjoy that below-grade space while avoiding the hefty price tag of a full remodel. Partially finishing your basement can offer warmth, style and comfort, as well as that extra space you’re craving. Here is how to get the most out of an unfinished basement without breaking the bank.

Create an Industrial-Style Living Room
1. Keep the ceiling exposed. This smart basement renovation reveals a key secret to enjoying a partially finished basement: Keep the ceiling open. We don’t all have the advantage of deep basements with high ceilings, and we need all the help we can get, height-wise. While there are some stylish drop-ceiling panels now available, keeping the ceiling joists open and painting them a bold color, such as black, creates the illusion of depth, helping the ceiling to recede and become less noticeable. The added advantage is that your wiring is available to you without having to cut into drywall.
2. Ditch the drywall. Paint is quite often the quickest and least expensive way to freshen and update a room.
Another tip is to drywall only some areas of the room. A limited use of drywall can demarcate spaces, add interest and keep costs down.
Another unexpected and low-cost alternative wall material is an engineered lumber such as oriented strand board. OSB, which is typically used for subfloors or sheathing in construction — making it an unconventional choice for walls — is a creative, less expensive way to cover your concrete walls and divide living zones. The key to using a material like this is to apply it to a large area so that it’s clear that using it was an intentional design choice.

3. Capture the power of white. This basement obviously gets a lot of natural light, thanks to the fact that it is a walk-out basement-style space. But a great way to provide the illusion of light and to add ceiling height is to paint everything white. In this room, with the exposed ceilings and walls painted a crisp white, it’s hard to tell where the walls end and the ceilings begin.

4. Establish a focal point. Go ahead and furnish your unfinished below-grade space as cozily as you would your upstairs, finished rooms. A great way to do this is to furnish around a focal point. Here, the designer created a focal point for the room by adding a bar and a shelving area with space for a TV, books and games. Graphic rugs and large, soft furniture and lighting bring warmth and life to the space.
Note that this basement is, like the other examples, mostly unfinished. The ceilings are open, the concrete block wall is painted, and it appears the concrete floor is as well. Finally, the owner chose white wall paint. This room shows how this simple formula for a basement can form the backdrop for a cozy living space. The finished decorative and soft furnishing elements add the comforts that make the space feel homey.

Outfit a Laundry Room
For many of us, basement laundry means a dark and dank place to toss the clothes in, pull them out and quickly run back upstairs. But this doesn’t have to be the way we choose to live. A little effort can convert an ugly space to one where you’ll want to spend time.
1. Get creative with paint and decor. This basement laundry is left nearly entirely unfinished, but with some creativity it’s become a clean and bright corner nonetheless. The exposed ceiling joists are painted a deep charcoal, the concrete floor is a fun red, and wood shelving and furniture add interest and utility. A throw rug warms up the floor, and what appears to be reclaimed wood boards frame off a private bath.
2. Install cabinetry. The money saved on finishing flooring, walls and ceiling can often be better spent on cabinets in your basement laundry area. Additional cabinetry can be used for a variety of things, like storing dry goods, linens or out-of-season clothing.

Build a Bathroom
Adding a bathroom to your basement can be a worthwhile venture. In addition to being functional, it adds a lot of value to your home. But basement bathroom additions are costly, especially if you don’t already have the plumbing and drains roughed in. If you’re lucky enough to have this option, finishing it on a budget will be rewarding.
1. Just do the basics. This bathroom, which abuts one of the laundry rooms I’ve featured, is mostly unfinished. Creatively sectioned off with wood planks and paint, it proves that a bathroom need not have marble and high-end finishing to be warm, cute and functional.

2. Dress up with shine. Another otherwise unfinished space with exposed ceiling joists and concrete walls and floor, this bathroom has all the components to be completely functional, yet also sharp. Stock cabinetry is added for necessary storage, and the mirror, lighting and accessories provide some glitz. Mirrors and other shiny accessories can be found at a variety of price points, helping you to stick with your budget.

3. Leave it open. Another way to save some money in your basement bathroom is to skip the walls altogether. Here, a section of the basement is used for the bathroom, which is open concept. The shower is made out of a tiled curb with a curtain bar, giving it a modern look when privacy is not a concern. The toilet, not seen in this photo, is in a separate, walled-off enclosure behind the wall with the towel bar.

Workspace
Work-spaces are often hard to come by, and if you can designate a corner for one in your basement, you’ll be glad for it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to create a bright and functional zone out of, well, nothing.
1. Furnish and decorate. This basement office room works so well because it really has everything you need. Again, this is essentially a raw basement that has been cleaned up with paint. Two collapsible tables are tucked into a corner to create ample desk space. An antique-style armoire and side table add hefty traditional elements that dress up the zone and offer storage. An area rug warms the painted concrete floor, and the bright task track lighting is layered with the warm glow of a table lamp. The pretty butterfly mobile finishes this space.
2. Make a rug statement. Carpet tiles are a cost-effective option for basement flooring as they can be purchased by the box and laid out to separate a zone or add warmth to a bare concrete floor.
3. Make a spot for the kids. Kids come with a lot of stuff, from toys to books and crafts, and a neat little work area in your basement is the perfect spot to organize it all.

Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog