Financing Home Improvement Projects – How to Get Them Done

Homes need updating. Aside from the cosmetics of tiles and paint colors, there are the basic, but necessary renovations that need to be taken care of as well.

From re-shingling a roof to weather-proofing your windows, major home improvement projects are a part of home ownership. Unfortunately, they’re also costly and there isn’t always room in the family budget for a full overhaul of the heating and ventilation system. That’s where home improvement financing comes in. Home improvement financing allows homeowners to borrow money. Sometimes the house itself is used as equity and in other situations, little to no equity is required. Keep reading to learn about the different types of home improvement project financing.

Home Equity Loan

The terms for any loan, including a home improvement or renovation financing loan, will vary depending on the borrower. If you have good credit, your mortgage is paid off and you’re willing to put your house forward as equity, then you can expect to get great rates payable over a period of months or years. You could even opt for a second mortgage, which will get you rates close to prime. However, while a home equity loan obtains for you a lump sum up front, remember that you’ll start paying interest on that entire sum right away.

Line of Credit

One of the easiest ways to borrow money is through a home equity line of credit. A line of credit allows you to only borrow as you need, therefore only paying interest on what you use. The rates, if your credit is good, are great and they’re often approved fairly quickly and painlessly.

Remodeling or Home Improvement Loan

Many banks offer remodeling or renovation-specific loan programs. These work by combining a construction loan with a mortgage and are based on the projected value of the home after you complete your project. You will most likely have to submit a building plan as well as a breakdown of all your project expenses. The bank then usually releases the money in increments, as the project progresses.

Credit Cards

If your credit isn’t as good or you’re still building it, you may opt for a small amount of financing that will let you complete the project without being overwhelmed by debt. An example of this might even be store credit from a local store – just enough to purchase a new furnace or the materials you need to retile your floors.

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Rent Or Buy Real Estate?

Recently….well over the last year anyway, I have had friends ask me for advice on whether now is a good time to rent or buy real estate. As most of my friends, colleagues, and locals know, I consider myself a real estate geek and have learned enough hard lessons, however had many great experiences professionally and personally to last a lifetime…and I am only 30 years old but this is an age to where we can take those lessons and build on our future, using real estate as a catapult to financial freedom one day….Discontinue reading if you think real estate is a “get rich quick” scheme. I thought it was when I was younger. Believe me, it’s not.

I can write a novel on the difference between renting and buying real estate but I will try to make this short yet helpful. All things equal, owning a house far exceeds the benefit of renting a home. The obvious factors are that by owning, you can build equity and write-off your interest payments on your mortgage. This doesn’t mean that everyone in America should be a homeowner. Real estate is local. For instance, property values are still declining in California. In Florida, prices are starting to level off. In New Jersey I can point out 30 different markets where the market conditions are different. If you live in Montclair, the market is different in Clifton, less than 2 miles away.

If real estate values are deteriorating in your neighborhood of choice and your interest rate is not favorable, it could be a good reason to stick with renting for now. Deals don’t go away overnight.

If you have cash saved, some tenants prefer renting so that they can play the stock market which historically return 8-10% per year with a good broker. Real estate values typically follow the rate of inflation over the long term. That being said, home ownership has the best tax incentive. Married couples can earn up to $500,000 in gains on their homes TAX FREE, where singles can earn up to $250,000 in gains TAX FREE. If you played the stock market, those gains would be hit by nearly 50% by Uncle Sam.

First and foremost, you need to find a neighborhood that you absolutely love. If you have kids, it is important to look in their best interest FIRST before yours. Second, look at property values. If prices are declining and homes are sitting on the market for over 180 days, it may be better off to hold off and rent, analyze for the next year, and buy something possibly in foreclosure when you are ready. How do you find out about Days On Market (DOM)? Call a local agent and ask for homes for sale in your preferred neighborhood. DOM is normally listed.

If you do buy, it is best to put down 20%. Avoiding Private Mortgage Insurance is huge today. PMI companies are going broke or already did, and the ones left standing are charging an arm and 2 legs for coverage. Not to mention your closing costs are about 3% higher. Although an FHA loan sounds great with 97% Loan To Value loans, it is quite expensive when you roll things out. Be sure that you understand the pros and cons of FHA versus Conventional financing. I will offer friendly advice to those who ask.

Some pros and cons about renting and buying…Well if you rent, you have the flexibility to move. Leases run month to month, 6 months, and 1 year. Home ownership limits you to the market whether it is a buyer or sellers market. The resale of your home is based off of competitive sales and overall demand, not a lease. Renting allows you to blame everything on the landlord. If you don’t like dealing with broken water heaters, leaky roof, and running toilets, then maybe you are a lifelong renter. OWNING a home allows you a huge tax advantage, potential tax-free capital gains, and emotional satisfaction. With that however, comes property taxes and upkeep.

If you purchase or contract a home by the end of 2009, you are eligible for the $8,000 tax credit from the IRS and can spread this out over 2 years, something Congress passed to stimulate home ownership. All things aside, this is truly a very good time to start shopping for a home. Historically low prices, low interest rates, and real estate provides an amazing tax shelter. Read my article about the tax credit HERE

So a couple paragraphs to conclude, real estate is a very tough and mean industry. If you are not careful, it will eat you up 10 times over. Most people get only one chance and you are done for a long time. Most decisions in life are based off emotion, and in real estate, if you let emotion control your decisions, you are in for a potentially catastrophic ride. Most importantly, let a professional help you with a plan. You can either agree or disagree with their input. But a guy like me can share a wealth of information for those who don’t even know what a home inspection is. Don’t try to tackle buying a home by yourself.

On a side note, most of you that know me know that I have more stories about real estate and business that will even draw a surprised look from Ben Stein. I have learned from the best in the industry though and at 30, I feel I have a great amount of experience in real estate acquisition, construction, and finance. I have shared my stories with investment groups across the country and now speak at forums about risk mitigation. One thing that is so important to understand and I’ll say it again, is that real estate is the biggest catapult to financial wealth, freedom, and stability. Most of our parents made a lot of our upbringing possible by home ownership and equity.

If you are not ready now, don’t panic or feel that you are missing the boat. The nice thing about real estate is that it is tangible. It will always be there no matter what, different than stocks. Think things through, talk to people, and make a smart decision. Once you make a smart decision, your emotions will take over.

Aside from my beautiful family, real estate is the most important thing in my life. I strive to make more good decisions than bad, and if you understand the way I just said that, the industry will force you to make both types of decisions. The key is to not jump the gun. Understand EVERYTHING. Then…one day…everyone will have an opportunity to lead a more secure life no matter whether it is just buying 1 house or 20 houses.

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Real Estate Investing – From Fear to Focus

What do you really think of when you hear the term “real estate”? Do these words conjure images of luxurious dream houses and expensive cars, the fruits of wealth through successful investing? Do infomercials promising the life of your dreams come to mind? Or does real estate remind you of today’s headlines, with words like “crisis” dominating the discussion?

The truth is that no matter what the market, real estate investors with confidence and skill will still make money. For anyone considering entry into the real estate business, however, or for those who want to step up their game, the question isn’t how well one can possibly do in a down market. The real question is: do you believe that you can be a successful real estate investor? Do you know that you could become a millionaire within 3 years working less than 15 hours a week?

When it comes down to it, every human being has fears that hold us back-fears so innate within us that we’re barely aware of how much they control our decisions. I know, because for 12 long years, I did nothing about my dream of becoming a real estate investor. I chose not to pursue something that I was passionate about because following in my dad’s footsteps seemed like the more “logical” choice. Why take risks in real estate when you can get a job earning a steady paycheck?

Instead, I had followed my father’s path step by step through corporate America, earning several promotions in a steel manufacturing company. Within three years of starting, I grew the company’s profits eight times over. I was earning a great salary and had what seemed like a bright future ahead of me.

That is, until life gave me a clue that there really is no such thing as certainty. My father, after giving 33 years of his life to the same company he had always worked for, was FIRED. That hit me hard-I had mirrored his career almost exactly. If something like that could happen to him, it sure as heck could happen to me too. What I learned at that moment is that anything you do in life can be risky, especially if it entails putting your financial future in someone else’s hands.

If your chances are just the same, why not take actions toward the things that would really get you stoked in life, the things that you know would bring you happiness, wealth, and freedom?

When I was 18 and dreamed of a career in real estate-yet did nothing about it-I told myself all kinds of things; the same kinds of things people tell themselves today: “This won’t work for me. It may work for them, but it will never work for me. The market’s too tough. Prices are going down. How would I sell? I’m not good enough. I won’t succeed, I’ll look foolish and be embarrassed if I try this and fail.”

It took me 12 years to find the courage to go for it. And for the next 13 years after that, I studied under successful millionaire mentors, used every kind of buying and selling strategies, and have bought and sold over 300 houses during up and down markets. For those who know anything about real estate, a so called “crisis” can often signal a time of opportunity. It just takes getting over the fear factor and learning the most effective strategies to buy and sell (as well as when to apply them).

There are still plenty of reasons why real estate investing is a viable way to make tons of money and live a better quality of life. You still get more financial leverage than you would from other types of investments. You can be your own boss and make your own schedule. In fact, I became a millionaire in less than three years through real estate investing, putting in less than 15 hours of work per week while working a full-time job. Imagine what anyone can do if they put more time into it. I’ve narrowed down the process of developing a turnkey real estate business into Five Key Steps of Real Estate Investing, including:

Effective Marketing that attracts motivated sellers to call you.
Pre-screening Sellers so you’re only spending your time working on qualified leads.
Buying & Selling Strategies-construct and present offers to buy homes, all six of which do not require any of our own money or credit.
Automated Follow-up System for leads that may have potential at a future time.
Sell Your Homes Quickly.
Many people have turned to this industry as a full time career, making millions of dollars in the process, including myself. Real estate investing is potentially the most rewarding option that provides excellent returns on your investments of time and energy, and the freedom and satisfaction of turning your dreams into reality.
To learn more about turning your fears into focus, attend one of my free upcoming webinars by visiting [http://Webinar.TimTaylorSuccessCoach.com].

About Tim Taylor Real Estate Success Coach

Tim Taylor real estate success coach and author of both “Wealth with Purpose” and “The Compass Guide to Real Estate Fortunes with Tim Taylor” is an accomplished learner. He has been mentored by Robert Kiyosaki, Robert Allen, Ron LeGrand and James Ray and is now passing on the secrets he has come to know and practice onto select individuals with a burning desire to become successful real estate investors.

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Keeping Your Home Improvement Fees and Costs to a Minimum

Home is where the heart is. Unfortunately, home is also where the wallet is. When it comes to home improvements and renovations, costs are one of our primary concerns. Yes, we want it to be safe and yes, we want it to look nice. However, most of all, we want our home projects to come in under budget.

For great tips on how to manage the fees and costs associated with your home improvement project as well as ideas on lowering your expected budget, keep reading.

1. Understand the True Cost of a Loan

If you’re planning to take on debt to finance your home improvement project, be sure to include the total cost of that debt in your project budget. Remember, you are taking on this renovation to build and improve your nest, not lose it.

So, before signing off on any loan agreement, make sure you understand the terms, the interest rates, the repayment schedule and all the hidden service fees.

Also, always be wary of companies that are not affiliated with a trusted bank and that require you to pay up front fees and service costs. Consider these to be warning signs.

2. Don’t Overbuild

As part of the true cost of a home improvement, think about how your home renovation project will increase the value of your home. If you’re renovating as an investment with the idea that your renovations will increase your home’s value, never overbuild based on the values of other homes throughout your neighborhood.

For example, if your house sits on a block where most of the homes are one-story, two-bedroom bungalows that sell for $70,000, then you’re simply not going to get back the investment expense of an extra story and marble floors.

3. Inflate Your Budget

Whatever your own estimates are or your contractor quotes you, always expand that budget by about 20%. Inevitably, you’re going to need that extra 20%, and it’s better to be prepared for that expense than to be caught by surprise and without sufficient funds to complete the project.

Remember, projects often fall behind deadlines, supplies come in at higher costs, the weather doesn’t always cooperate and things can just happen that cause your budget to go beyond what you expected. That said; never tell your contractor that your budget is actually 20% higher. Keep that figure to yourself.

4. Budget for the Extras

Often, home renovators forget to budget for the added extras like new curtains or new doorknobs. Once you’ve set your budget, go back through your list of expenses and make sure that you’ve included everything, right down to the new mailbox that you’re going to want to put at the front of your newly renovated home.

Budgeting for a project can be a cold, calculating process that drives some to denial and consequently, later in debt. Don’t let that be your experience. Be realistic from the onset about projected expenses and your post-project enjoyment of your renovated home will be all-the-more heightened.

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Common Home Improvement Mistakes

You hear about it after every major storm. Home improvement contractors move into an area and promise great work, only to leave behind a shoddy job if the job gets finished at all. What you may not realize is that this happens every day, not just after a major tragedy. If you are hiring someone for a job make sure you avoid these common home improvement mistakes.

All of the better contractors and business owners want each and every party involved in their business to do a good job. Unfortunately though home improvement and remodeling is one of the top industries for both fraud and consumer dissatisfaction. The question that a lot of people have is why? Yes much of the blame does in fact fall into the hands of the home improvement industry; there are also some more common mistakes that you as the homeowner commit that will contribute to your own dissatisfaction. If you learn to avoid these mistakes, it can make the difference between a great home improvement project and a nightmare.

1. Falling In Love With The Salesman. Since you are probably like many and not an expert in the field of home improvement, you will begin to rely heavily on the friendliness and the so called credibility of the salesperson in an effort to determine the type of people that will be doing the project. Your dissatisfaction is guaranteed when either the employees or the subcontractors do not live up to the total expectations set by the salesperson. When you are ready to invite someone into your home, you need to make sure they are skilled in home improvement and not just someone who has been commissioned by a salesman whose main interest is to sell you improvements that you do not actually need.

2. Neglecting The Family Safety. You might be appalled to learn of the criminal history of some of the employees of home improvement companies. You will find such things as felony records, drug convictions, sex offenses, and domestic violence among others. Yes it is true that every prior criminal has the right to work, but they have no business being in your family’s home where it can put your belongings and family safety into question. You have the right to demand to see any employee records of individuals that are going to be coming into your home. The record should also contain a background check on the employee as well. This will help ensure that your family’s safety is well secure.

3. Asking The Wrong Questions. There are basic questions that you need to ask every contractor that comes into your home. But sadly these are often neglected. Some of these questions include things like “How long have you been in business?” “Where are you located?” among others. These are some of the most important questions that you can ask. The more questions that you ask, the better your chances of having the job done right by qualified individuals. Always ask to see references, and make sure the references you get are from someone in your community. Then make sure you call them up to verify or even go by to look at the work that was completed.

Home improvement does not have to be a nightmare. Avoiding these mistakes will increase the odds that the job is done to your satisfaction.

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Terrible Home Improvement Guarantees and My Solution

One of the biggest problems with home improvement contractors and home improvement centers is the products they sell, that include limited lifetime warranties or other guarantees. Some of these guarantees sound good and would be good, if the companies actually backed them up.

Here’s something that happened to me and I don’t want it to happen to you. We purchased some carpet for a new house that we were moving into and the popular home improvement Center suggested that my wife purchase a three-year guarantee on the carpeting. This guarantee came with one pre-paid carpet cleaning of your entire home each year.

This sounded good when my wife was in the store, but it’s now been over 18 months and no one has contacted us. We both went down to the local home improvement center and ask them if they could help. They suggested that we contact the company to see if they’re still in business.

I informed the representative of this popular home improvement center that they are the ones who sold us the guarantee. We would have never bought it from an individual carpet company, because we don’t know how long they’re going to stay in business. My wife bought the home-improvement guarantee from the home improvement center that is extremely large and she felt comfortable that they would still be in business within the next three years.

We haven’t got our carpets cleaned yet and we will never buy another home-improvement guarantee from anyone ever again. I have seen more companies go out of business after their products have failed and sometimes the people that were running these bankrupt companies, simply start other companies and start the process all over again. I’m writing this article to advise people to think twice before purchasing home-improvement guarantees or warranties from any companies, no matter how large or small they are.

If you’re really interested in basement remodeling and repairs, you should click on this link Pro Home Repair Advice. Get some great home repair advice that can make a big difference on any of your home remodeling projects.

If You Live in Northern San Diego County or South Orange County, and You’re Looking for a Great Contractor, Click on This Link Encinitas Home Repair Contractors

Greg Vanden Berge is working on the internet to promote the education for creating simple to follow guides and home building books to help professional building contractors as well as the weekend warriors. He has just finished a Home Buyers Guide to take some of the frustration out of home shopping.

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Do it Yourself Home Improvement Ideas

Here’s an interesting fact. Americans spend 60% of their time in their own home. Knowing that it’s easy to see why having a beautiful and well maintained home is so important. As the housing market stumbles, selling and moving to a new home is, in many cases, not an option. Do it yourself home improvement ideas however are a great way to make your current home into your dream home.

The great thing about this is that not only will you enjoy your home more, you will also be adding value to your property. So when the time does come to sell, you will get more for it. There is however a catch. Do the wrong improvements and you may actually decrease your property value. You can also make it more difficult to sell.

Some experts on the subject often tend to have different views as to which home improvements will cause you to lose money. Some of them include such things as laying new carpet to installing double glazing. Of course it probably depends on the carpet you pick. For instance you should probably stay away from the olive green shag. But while there is debate on the things that are wrong to do, most experts agree on the things that will bring the property value up. Some of the more frequently mentioned suggestions include the following:

Redecorating in neutral colors

Adding a deck to the back porch

Keeping the exterior, yard and landscaping neat and tidy

If the space is available, a loft conversion that blends nicely will add value

Remodeling your kitchen and bathroom with up to date cabinets and appliances
You may have eclectic tastes, but not everyone else does. If you are planning to sell your home stay away from things that may be a turn off to others. If however you plan on staying there forever, or a long period of time, go for whatever you like best. Home improvement here is about making yourself happy and not about trying to make your property worth more money.

Home improvement can also mean basic repair and maintenance to your home such as fixing a leaky sink or toilet. These are the jobs that you will want to really consider doing yourself. Why should you pay someone when it will not add to the overall value of your home? Instead take a chance to learn a skill and do it yourself.

There are a variety of different ways that you can learn how to do various home improvement tasks. There are a lot of building supply stores that will either offer or give you a free leaflet that you can take home and read. There are even some bigger home improvement stores such as Lowes that will post how to videos on the internet that you can watch. These are a great wealth of information that you should really check out because they will not only tell you the materials and tools that you will need, but also how you can best carry out the plan from start to finish. This will give you the chance to build a mental picture of the finished project.

So what are the basic benefits of doing it yourself home improvement? Well actually there are several. It will be able to save you money and even in some cases may actually make you money; you will be able to maintain both the quality and the functionality of your home. Finally once you are done and you have done it successfully you can sit back and bask in the glow of a job well done.

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How to Become a Great Real Estate Agent

Becoming a great real estate agent is an ongoing process and you will be a perpetual “work in progress” (WIP). Your WIP begins from the moment you decide to become an estate agent, complete your basic real estate education, obtain your real estate agent’s license, and become affiliated with a real estate broker/agency. Hopefully, you remain a WIP throughout your real estate career.

Personality speaking

If you haven’t already decided what type of personality you have, now is better than later in your quest to become a great real estate agent.

The person who needs a predictable daily routine will probably feel uncomfortable with the variability and unpredictability of real estate work. Do you need predictability?

Great estate agents enjoy working with people – on the phone, via email, face-to-face, in groups, and one-on-one. Becoming an estate agent is not a therapy for overcoming shyness and introversion. You have to want to work with people to help them solve their property-selling or buying problems.

Time management and attention to detail are talents in some agents; others learn to master these skills. A successful agent’s hours are filled with administrative and income-driving activities that require effective time management. Study and learn from those agents (and others) who skillfully manage their time.

Many people claim they are detail-oriented but you must be detail-oriented. Your clients and your business success depend on your being detail-oriented. If this is a weak point in you skill set, consider hiring an assistant who is skilled at managing the details. This does not relieve you of improving your detail skills but good support can help you manage more effectively.

Education now, later, ongoing

First, get a good real estate education and your license. Next, find a good mentor – an experienced broker or other salesman with integrity as well as real estate accomplishments. Find ways to be of assistance to your mentor, helping with tasks or open houses, preparing advertising, etc.

Attend seminars and courses. As a licensed agent, you are required to complete continuing education courses so make the most of every industry-related course, including those related to estate technology.

Congratulations on receiving your real estate agent’s license. Now, start planning to get your broker’s license. Yes, this means you will have to have at least two years’ experience as an agent, AND more study. The benefits? You may receive higher sales commission percentage splits, be able to open your own brokerage office and keep all the commission, become a property manager if you choose, sell and broker loans, and more. Ultimately, you offer more skills and knowledge to your clients.

What else?

Clients expect their realtor to communicate regularly with them, using the forms(s) the client prefers (fax, phone, text, email, or a combination of modes). Returning calls and messages as quickly as possible can be the difference between a good agent-client relationship and one that is merely satisfactory or totally ineffectual. Make sure you have, or develop, excellent communications skills.

Many agents cited additional qualities and skills important to becoming a great real estate agent. In their estimation, a great agent should be:

Collaborative
Curious
Action-oriented
A self-motivated entrepreneur
A “hub of resources”
Legend has it that the actor born Archie Leach built a persona very different from the reality of his difficult and painful childhood. He borrowed qualities of behavior and style and patched them together, “wearing” that persona until it became a reality. He became a sophisticated, elegant and talented person and performer. Archie Leach became Cary Grant.

You might become a great estate agent by building your own persona much like Archie Leach did. Study, observe, add knowledge, skills and talents, and refine existing ones. Continue to be your own best WIP, and best wishes for your success.

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How to Look for a Good Real Estate Agent

You may be planning to sell your home or buy a new home. Either way, you’re probably looking for a great real estate agent.

Realtor, Real Estate Agent – is there a difference?

There are RealtorsĀ® and there are real estate agents. These are not synonymous terms. A real estate agent is licensed to “represent a buyer or a seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for commission.”Real estate agents typically work for a real estate broker or Realtor.

A Realtor also is licensed and may sell real estate as either an agent or a broker. There are completely ethical real estate agents and RealtorĀ®. The primary difference is that a Realtor has made an additional commitment to honor the 17-article code and profession of the real estate business.

The search and some questions

Looking for a great real estate agent means that you will be asking questions, so let’s start building your list of questions:

Referrals: ask your friends, colleagues, and relatives for referrals. Most people who have had a positive experience working with an agent will gladly describe their experience and why they feel their agent was exceptional.

Referrals from professionals: it is certainly appropriate to ask real estate agents for referrals. Financial institution representatives, especially mortgage brokers, are likely to be aware of exceptional agents.

Open houses: going to open houses is a great, non-threatening way to meet estate agents. Pay attention to the agent’s manners and appearance, his/her professionalism, and the quality of promotional material provided at the open house. Does the agent seem knowledgeable about the property and the local market? Is the agent ready to point out the home’s features, or does he basically ignore visitors?
When you have a generally favorable impression of an agent, be sure to collect a business card and make notes of your observations.

References: plan to interview several agents before making a decision and signing a buyer’s agreement. During the interview, ask each candidate to provide referrals of recent clients and call those referrals.
Among the questions to ask are what were the asking and selling prices of their properties, and how long the home was on the market?

Take time to look up the estate board of licensing services to confirm that the candidate is currently licensed and whether any complaints or disciplinary actions have been filed against the agent.

Experience: how long has the agent been in business? You should be looking for the agent who thoroughly knows the local market in which you are selling or planning to buy your home. It takes time to build expertise and market knowledge. One agent recommends that any viable candidate should have at least five years’ experience.
Is the agent full- or part-time? You should expect, and ask for, a full time agent.

Next steps

When evaluating the qualifications of estate agents, look at their websites and current listings. Your future agent should be web and technology savvy, using all current media to help you find your perfect home or sell your current one. The agent should also be able to communicate reliably and regularly using the form(s) of contact you prefer – fax, phone, text, or e-mail.

Ideally, your prospective agent is busy but not too busy to effectively represent you. If you feel that the candidate is not committed to giving your sale or purchase full and enthusiastic service, or is prepared to hand you over to an “assistant”, move on.

Your agent should be realistic about pricing, marketing, and representing you as the seller or buyer.”If it sounds too good to be true… ” can apply to estate agents and services, too. Trust your powers of observation and intuition. When you combine them with the information you have gathered from your interviews, you will be ready to make a well-informed decision.

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