Home Renovation – Deciding What You Can and Cannot Do Yourself

There are two kinds of people: those that like to do everything themselves and those that don’t. The former group is probably going to end up saving money and they’re going to learn more about the finer points of home renovation. The latter just want to have a nice home. They don’t care too much how it’s done and they may not even care about the price, they just care about the results. If you’re the kind of person that likes to get their hands dirty, you have to realize that there are some things that you can do and some thing that you really should leave to skilled and experienced professionals.

Most of the things you can do yourself tend to be somewhat minor improvements, but they can nevertheless have a major impact on the look and feel of your home. One of the best ways to see what you can do yourself is to stroll up and down the isles of your local home improvement store and see what catches your eye. These stores cater to the do-it-yourself crowd and are staffed with employees that can offer their expert advice when asked. It’s true that these stores also sell their services too, but by and large they cater mostly to people that are looking for materials so they can do the job themselves. Almost anything is fair game at these kinds of stores. If you’re new to home renovation you’ll probably want to start with something easy before progressing to a difficult project. Consult the staff there to figure out where you can start. You might also want to get a book to help guide you through the steps. Also don’t forget that the internet is a great resource for such projects.

Then there are other home renovation jobs that will be very hard for the weekend warriors. It may even be next to impossible to complete for them. It’s not because they can’t do it. It’s because those kind of jobs either require a team of professionals or require a lot of skill and precision work. Expensive materials could be involved as well. An example of such a job would be a replacing an air conditioning unit. Such a unit is heavy and expensive, and so installing it yourself could prove to be difficult and multifaceted. Some amount of improvisation may also be required to accommodate the unit in your home. It would probably be best to let a professional install it for you. Another example would be installing new windows in your home. Modern windows can be a lot more expensive than you might think, but they can offer many advantages over previous generation of windows. Actually, they often work in conjunction with air conditioning systems because they provide better insulation. They can help keep your home cooler when it’s hot and warmer when it’s cold. Eventually all homes will have advanced windows, but in the meantime it’s only for people that bother to initiate the upgrade. You probably cannot perform window replacement yourself, but there are many professional companies out there that consistently produce quality results.

First Time Home Buyer’s Guide, Part 2 – 4 Things To Do Before You Go And Look For A Home

Before Looking for a Home

Buying a house can be a new and exciting process; it can also be very confusing and stressful. Becoming educated about the house buying process and being prepared can reduce a lot of this stress and confusion. Anyone buying a home should take the following steps before they even step out to look at a house.

Check your Credit History

The moment you decide that you are ready to buy a house is the moment you need to get a credit report. When pulling your credit report, be sure to use a service that provides you with copies of your credit history and score from all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Not all credit information is reported to each bureau, and lenders do not all check the same credit bureaus to determine your credit score so it is important that you get a copy from each bureau.

Obtaining a credit report early on in the home buying process is important because if there are discrepancies on your reports you must write to the bureaus and request that they are corrected. Depending upon how busy the bureaus are, this process can take up to months. Fixing errors on your credit history can result in a higher credit score and improvements in your credit score may qualify you for a lower interest rate. A loan with even a .25% lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your loan.

It is also important to note that pulling your own credit report will not lower your credit score in any way, this only happens when companies, like banks pull your history in attempt to approve you for items such as loans and credit cards.

Research Potential Loan Programs and Lenders

A house loan is often the largest and longest term of a loan that many individuals will ever receive in their lifetimes. Therefore, time should be taken to review potential lenders and loan programs that you may qualify for. For example, if you have a not so perfect credit history or need a low down payment you might want to see if you qualify for a FHA loan. If you are a veteran you may qualify for a Veteran’s Administration loan, which among other things allows individuals to put no money down without having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance. Some lenders offer special rebates, promotions, and programs for home buyers that ease the expenses involved with buying a home. Individual lenders vary in the interest rate they charge and the fees involved in the loan process. Even the nonrefundable application fee for some banks is upwards to $500, so it is important to research a bank and become satisfied with the loan programs they offer before you apply.

Get Prequalified/Preapproved

There is a big difference between getting prequalified and preapproved for a loan. When you get prequalified for a loan there are generally no fees involved and the bank gives you a rough estimate as to what they would give you for a loan based on the information you’ve provided them. It is not completely accurate and many sellers will not accept offers from buyers who are only prequalified. When you get preapproved for a loan you will have to provide more documentation and pay an application fee. When you are preapproved the bank generally states that you are eligible for the exact amount of your preapproved amount, granted that all the information you have provided to them is accurate.

If you’ve decided that you are ready to buy a house one of the very first steps you should take is to get prequalified for a loan. Before going out to look at houses that may potentially be out of your price range, get prequalified for a loan so you know what houses you should be looking at. If after getting prequalified you find that you qualify for a lot less than you anticipated for, ask the lender what you could do to qualify for a larger loan. You may discover that your debt to income ratio is too high or that the length of your credit history is too short. You may then decide to reduce some of your debt or if you are satisfied with the amount you may decide to get preapproved for a loan.

Determine How Much you Can and Want to Spend

Now that you have checked your credit history, and have gotten prequalified or preapproved for a loan you must determine how much you can really afford to spend. Do not blindly assume that you will be able to afford the payments your lender says you can. Keep in mind that lenders often push the limits of your loan to the outer boundaries, in order to get you the biggest loan possible and to make more money. If the mortgage payment you qualify for is a lot more than your current mortgage or rent payments look at the new value realistically. Can you REALLY afford that payment? Can you live comfortably with that much less money per month? If you are used to renting, keep in mind that you will now be responsible for repairs, yard work, insurance, and taxes. Do not tell yourself that you will give up certain activities or change your lifestyle in order to afford your new payment.

House buying should be an exciting and stress free process. If you educate yourself about lending processes and take the steps above you will be more prepared than many other home buyers.

A Home Buyer’s Guide on What to Ask a Home Inspector

Home inspection is a very important part of buying a home. Many people who forgo this end up buying homes that turn out to be lemons. They end up paying more for repairing hidden issues in the house than they expected. In other cases, the hidden issues of a house renders the house uninsurable. For example, people who don’t know that the house they bought had a mold problem would probably get a hard time getting approved for a home hazard insurance. Not only is this a risk on you and your family’s safety, it’s also going to dramatically pull down the resale value of your house.

Getting the services of a house inspector will ensure that you have a professional looking over things that you’re not familiar with. Finding somebody with sufficient professional training will help you spot things that you won’t be able to spot on your own. However, there are home inspectors who may not exactly fit the bill of a competent house inspector. To make sure that you hire somebody competent, it’s best to keep a few things in mind, especially during a home interview.

Does the inspector seem like he knows what he is talking about?
A great way to go about this is to look around on the internet for articles about home improvement. Find out what things home inspectors usually inspect and ask relevant questions about them. If a person is truly a professional, you’ll get an impression that he’s talking sense and that he knows what he is talking about. Ask about specifics that every home buyer should ask inspectors in order to gauge whether or not this person can truly deliver as promised.

How long does it take for the inspector to finish the job?
Be wary of big promises. It’s understandable that you want the inspection to be done in a timely manner because you want the home buying process to move along. However, home inspections usually take around 3 to 4 hours. Unless your home inspector brings along a team of professionals, having one promise that the inspection would be done in an hour or less could be an indication that you need to look for other inspectors who will do a more thorough job.

Ask whether the inspector has insurance.
There’s something called an “errors and omissions insurance”. It would be strange if an inspector doesn’t have this because in some states, having this kind of coverage is mandatory. If you live in a state where it’s not mandatory, it’s still a better idea to go with an inspector who carries this type of insurance.

Ask whether the inspector is comfortable if you tag along the inspection.
You should be able to see how a person inspects your future property. If the inspector is very hesitant about having you around, maybe you should rethink the choice and look into other services.

Ask what kind of report you’ll get.
Ask for a sample hard copy of a report that the inspector will produce after the inspection. This will give you an idea about what kind of report to expect. You should also ask the inspector if he can adjust the report to accommodate your preference, like adding a narrative along with a checklist of things that he checked in the house.