Home Equity Loan Tips: 5 Steps to Earn Equity in Your Home Quickly

According to a Federal Reserve Bank report published in 2002 thirty-five percent, the biggest share, of home equity loan dollars goes back into the borrowers house through home improvements and maintenance projects. Considering the benefits and the ease of leveraging the equity you already have through a second mortgage or mortgage refinancing, this is hardly a surprise. ”The cake itself is the equity, and that is the important part of ownership,” Richard Wakelin, of Wakelin Property Advisory. If you are smart about building equity you can earn it even faster and with less investment. Some of the best ways to increase equity are simple such as:

1. Buying a home in the right neighborhood is critical. If the real estate values are rising, you could build equity without doing anything more than holding on to the property.

2. Curb appeal is key to raising a home’s value. It doesn’t take much money to install irrigation and landscape a property, but the first impression from the outside can be worth a lot. If you have some equity in your property already, a home equity credit line may be a better way to fund these smaller improvements than using a credit card. The interest is lower and so are the payments.

3. Remodel the kitchen if you really want to increase the value. Buyers are willing to pay more for a home with a gorgeous cook-friendly kitchen. If you are looking to do a remodel, mortgage refinancing is a good way to cash out on the equity that you already have and invest in building further equity. (Likely with a tax break on the interest as well.)

4. Master bedroom and bathroom improvements are also a good way to increase equity and can also be paid for through a refinance.

5. Don’t forget small improvements with “sweat equity” either. Just a little bit of capital and a lot of muscle can greatly improve a home through painting, wall papering and other do-it-yourself upgrades.

A little bit thought and effort can go a long way in making your property your best investment!

What Factors Affect Home Resale Value? Simple Home Improvements To Increase Your Home’s Value

It’s never too early to start thinking about selling your home, and many real estate experts say that the best time to start is before you even buy it. If you’re buying a new home, chances are you’re going to be selling it in five, ten, or twenty years from now. While reselling may be far from the top of your priority list, there are a few interesting facts to keep in mind. Some attractive features of your new home might turn out to be investments that don’t pay off when it comes time to sell, while other features that you overlook now could have a positive effect on your home’s value over time.

When looking for a new home, your top priority should still be your own needs and desires, but it can’t hurt to have “resale value” in the back of your mind. After all, a home is a huge purchase, and it can turn out to be a great investment.

All features of a home will essentially be built into the price. If you do your best to learn about the true value of these features, especially their effects on the value over many years, you will have a better idea of how much you should be paying initially.

Features that add to your home resale value

Good location
Real estate experts agree that a good location is the biggest factor in adding value to a home. The home should be in a growing community; close to freeways and commercial areas, but not so close that the neighborhood is too noisy or congested. It’s also a good idea to check city records for any proposed land use action that will affect the area. The neighborhood may look peaceful now, but the city could be planning on tearing down the green space to build a new freeway. Planned city action could drastically change the value of the house over time, positively or negatively.

Large kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. It’s a central location for gatherings, and it’s a room in which you spend a great deal of time. Large kitchens that are open, accessible, and adjacent to dining and family rooms will add substantially to your home resale value.

Three or four Bedrooms
Bedrooms provide room to spread out, secluded workspaces, or extra space for a growing family. As far as the home resale value is concerned, three or four bedrooms is ideal. If the house has five or more bedrooms, make sure they’re not inflating the price too much. You shouldn’t be paying much extra for more rooms, as they won’t add significantly to the resale value. Also, if the home has less than three rooms, your pool of buyers will be limited and you could have a harder time selling in the future.

2.5 Bathrooms
One bathroom in the master bedroom, one shared bathroom, and a half bathroom for guests is ideal. If the house has more than 2.5 bathrooms, make sure it’s not inflating the price, as more bathrooms will do little to increase the resale value. Two bathrooms is also an acceptable number, but any less than two will hurt the value of the home.

Large, rectangular lot
Most buyers are looking for a fair sized, rectangular, level lot. Small yards, odd shapes, or sloped lots will decrease the home resale value. There should be enough space in the front and back yards for a person to consider them accessible. Enough room for decorations or activities is a huge plus.

Closet space
A walk-in closet for the master bedroom is a very desirable feature. Aside from the master bedroom, a home should have enough closet space scattered throughout. A lack of closet space can alienate certain buyers, and depreciate the value of the home.

Two-Car garage
Depending on the location of the house, a two-car garage is most desirable. If the house is surrounded by other homes with larger garages, it might be best to consider a larger garage size to match. In general, two is the magic number. More or less could affect the home value in undesirable ways.

Hidden, main floor laundry room
A laundry room should be out of sight to avoid becoming an eyesore, and it should be located on the main floor of the house. An easily accessible laundry room can cut back on trips up and down stairs. Remember, even if an inconvenient laundry room isn’t an issue for you, it could be an issue for your potential buyers, and it could hurt the value your house.

House size vs. surrounding houses
The size of the house can either increase or decrease its value, depending on its location. If the house is a large luxury house surrounded by smaller homes, the surrounding houses will drag down the value over time. On the flip side, if the house is small or medium and it’s surrounded by larger homes, the value could increase over time. If you’re looking at a home, compare its value with the values of the surrounding homes, keeping size in mind.

Surprising Features that don’t add to home resale value

A view
While a pretty view is easy on the eyes, it doesn’t do much for the value of a house, and it could be costing you a lot of money. Compare the price of the house that has a view with another comparable house in the area that doesn’t have a view. Is the price inflated because of the view? Chances are, when it comes time to sell, you won’t be getting the extra money back from the sale.

Fancy landscaping
Unless you are thoroughly impressed with the fancy landscaping, don’t pay extra for it. Landscaping can be the sign of a hobby or investment made by the previous owner. If you can’t imagine yourself enjoying the landscaping in the future, let the seller know. If it doesn’t interest you and you’re not willing to invest the same amount of time and money as the previous owner, the landscaping will eventually deteriorate, and you won’t get your money’s worth when it comes time to sell.

Swimming pools
Houses with swimming pools were very popular a few years ago, but with the recent awareness of dangers and injury statistics, families with children are steering clear of them. Unless you want a pool for your own recreational use, make sure you’re not paying extra for it, as you won’t be seeing a return on the investment.

Multiple stories
In the past, multi-story homes were very popular. Recently, the market has made a surprising shift, and now single-story homes are far more desirable. The exception is single-story homes surrounded by multi-story homes. In most cases, a single-story home will pay off more in the end.

Fireplaces
Though they are quaint and comforting, fireplaces do little to increase the value of a home. Let the seller know that you’re indifferent to the fireplace, and you don’t see it as an additive feature of the house-at least not one that’s worth paying for.

Home Improvements That Increase Home Resale Value

While you’re looking for a home, or if you’ve already moved in, you can always think about ways to increase the resale value. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Home improvements
While you’re browsing homes, look at any “less than desirable” features as an opportunity to make some home improvements. Any ideas you have, from paint color to new furniture, could go a long way toward increasing the home’s value. Assess your own skills, or form a relationship with a contractor, and view the home from the perspective of a restorer. If the lot is sloped, could a new terrace or porch do the trick? If the home only has two bathrooms, could a new half bathroom be added in? Can you turn the home’s imperfections into assets?

Kitchen & bathroom renovation
If you’re checking out a new house, and the kitchen or bathrooms appear uninviting or cramped, consider the cost of renovating these rooms compared with the money saved from purchasing the house in such condition. Even do-it-yourself fixes, like new tiles, new cupboards, or a new coat of paint can increase the value drastically. Keep in mind that most buyers scrutinize the kitchen the most, with the bathrooms a close second, followed by the master bedroom. If you see beauty potential in these rooms, you could turn that potential into profit.

Remove wallpaper
Most buyers don’t like wallpaper. The design is often dated, and buyers don’t want to have to remove it themselves. Here’s where you can turn a hindrance into an opportunity. If you’re willing to put in the effort to remove the wallpaper yourself, you can significantly increase the home’s resale value. When the wallpaper is removed, make sure to paint the walls a neutral color, as this allows a wider range of buyers to essentially project themselves into the home and imagine their lives within its walls.

Your house is your home

While these facts represent the opinions of many real estate experts, thinking about home resale value is still a guessing game. You’re betting that today’s valuable features will retain their value in the future. There are many proven trends, and it’s always a good idea to educate yourself on the local markets and neighborhoods in which you plan on commencing your search. While your house is a large investment, it’s also simply a home. You need to find a house that you can see yourself living in for many years. Keep these tips in the back of your mind, begin your search with confidence and optimism, and when you’ve finally found a new home it will be a positive financial investment, as well as an investment in the future of you and your family.

Home Improvement – The Top 10 Home Improvement Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Although a major home improvement can prove to be a rewarding project, it can also turn your life upside down if you are not prepared. I’ve heard of some worst case scenarios involving people who have lost their homes because they got in over their heads and others who ended up with incomplete project nightmares that cost them thousands of dollars to correct.

Following is a list of the top ten mistakes homeowners make when undertaking home improvement projects and tips on how to avoid them:

1. References. Do enough research and background checking to satisfy you. Walk away if the contractor is not willing to provide references from former clients. Do an online search of the contractor’s business and personal name. Check with local courts for judgments filed against them and with the Better Business Bureau for any consumer complaints. Look at previous work completed (in person). Check with material suppliers since a good contractor will have a long-standing relationship with suppliers. Contact other contractors who have worked with them before. Check their credit standing – contractors with bad credit are often disorganized and don’t manage their business well. Inquire about insurance, workers compensation and licensing.

2. Project management. You need one person to help you manage your project. Most issues occur when inexperienced homeowners try to manage their own project. A project manager is a single point of contact between the homeowner and other contractors and is responsible for scheduling and workflow.

3. Contracts. Make sure your contract is solid. As obvious as this may sound, failure to get a contract or signing an incomplete contract is one of the most common mistakes. Put all the details in writing – never take someone’s word for it. Following are items that should be included in the contract: (1) the full name of the company and the person you are doing business with and their contact information, (2) an addendum consisting of the complete set of plans, (3) an addendum consisting of the materials to be used, (4) the price of the goods or services, (5) the manner and terms of payment, (6) a description of the work to be performed, (7) a start date and an estimated completion date, (8) a default clause in the event either party defaults that specifies how damages will be calculated, (9) warranties and (10) signatures.

4. Warranties. Make sure you receive a warranty with detailed terms and conditions. Don’t accept a contract that simply states that all work is guaranteed. There is often confusion as to who is responsible for the warranty. Get the following in writing: (1) Who is backing the warranty? (2) What is covered and what is not covered? (3) How long is the warranty valid for? (4) What can void the warranty? (5) What is the process for placing a warranty claim?

5. Changes. During the project, you may change your mind on certain design aspects which may require more or less work from contractors. It is critical to document every change order and note the exact cost or savings. Changes should be signed and dated by all parties.

6. Plans. Get a clear description on what will be done, how it will be done and the materials to be used. For smaller projects, contractors can draw up plans. For larger and more complicated projects, find a qualified designer or architect. And, for example, if load-bearing walls will be altered, find an engineer to review the structural side of the plans.

7. Costs. Estimating costs tends to be a big problem because people do not make realistic comparisons. Homeowners may hire the contractor with the lowest price but that price may turn out to be much higher in the end. “Allowance items” tend to be the main culprit in estimating costs. For example, contractors may give you allowances for flooring, lighting or hardware that are artificially low. The bid looks enticing until you examine it closely. Request a line item for straight costs on materials and labor since some contractors mark up materials and labor so they can make a profit on it. Ask the contractor to pass along costs to you and to add a line item for their fee. This creates a more clear and honest assessment of the job.

8. Financing and payments. Before signing the contract, figure out how you are going to pay for your home improvement project. Make sure you maintain control of the money – don’t let your project manager or contractor control the money. This sounds obvious but many homeowners allow contractors to make draws on construction accounts only to realize that the draws were not used for the intended purpose. What does this mean? It means your contractor scored a new truck, you’re out of money and the project is incomplete. Tips: (1) don’t pay a lot of money up front, (2) pay when materials are delivered, (3) pay when work begins and (4) pay as work progresses. Pay only after work and materials are inspected and approved.

9. Inspections. Don’t wait until your home improvement project is almost complete to do the inspection. Plan phased inspections along the way so work doesn’t need to be re-done. Don’t rely on city and county building inspectors to protect you since the codes they enforce don’t guarantee quality (and they often miss things too!). Before paying for work, hire an independent inspector to do periodic phase inspections.

10. Materials. Stick with products that are tried and true. This rule especially holds true when it comes to windows, doors, framing materials, roofing products, concrete coverings, epoxy floors, plumbing, light fixtures and electronics. You don’t want to be the guinea pig that test runs the supposed latest and greatest new products or materials only to find out that these items don’t last or turn out to be fire hazards!