Buying & Selling Homes

Scrapbooking for Fun and Profit

Documenting your project makes for great before-and-after photos to impress friends. A scrapbook can also validate your financial records. So while you're busy taking photos for fun, take some for profit, too.

• Use photos as well as receipts, permits, and contractors' documents to make the case to the appraiser and real estate agents as to the value added by the project.

• Tell the story of the improvements to potential buyers while underscoring the quality of materials. When name-brand labels are clearly visible on materials and supplies, it sends the message that you worked with the best.

• By keeping a photo record of energy upgrades you stand a chance of assembling a case for a tax break, even if you've learned of local or state programs after beginning or completing the job.

• The record can be part of your insurance portfolio, validating the quality of the project in case you have to file a claim.

Include in your visual scrapbook:

- Close-ups of receipts with the related materials, just in case you must remember which receipt paid for what.

- Permits showing permit numbers, dates, and signatures.

- Brand labels, lot numbers, paint numbers and the like are invaluable for ordering replacement materials.

- Open walls showing plumbing and electrical work. If a permit is disputed, a few photos might save you from opening the wall.

- Before-and-afters taken from the same vantage point to highlight the difference.

Don't forget to back up your project scrapbook online or on a CD with mortgage and insurance documents.

For more on buying and selling homes, consider:

Fee for All: Keeping More Equity
FHA Financing for Renovations? Yes, But…
3 Ways Your Neighbors Affect Your Home's Value