Len and Leslie Marma's Blog
Doing a home improvement or renovation is a great way to add value to your home while learning something new. If you decide to DIY, you can enlist the help of your family and learn together.
But, when you’re taking on a task you’ve never done before, there’s a lot that can go wrong. You might go over budget, or the project might take significantly longer than expected. Sometimes we start jobs that we don’t have the expertise (or permits) to finish and have to call in a professional sinking more time and money into what was supposed to be an inexpensive renovation.
To help you avoid some of these common pitfalls, we’ve provided these tips for running a successful home improvement project so you can focus on your renovation and not on the headaches that come with it.
1. Know when to call the experts
Undertaking a do-it-yourself project can be fun and rewarding. However, some tasks are better left to the professionals. Plumbing and electrical mistakes, in particular, can be dangerous and costly if you get it wrong. You don’t want to disregard the safety of you, your family, and your belongings just to save money on hiring a professional.
2. Call the best expert for the job
Call multiple professionals for a quote before accepting an offer.
If you received what seems a very low quote for a job, make sure to call other experts in the industry to see how much they would charge for the job. Getting an unusually low offer could be a sign that the contractor will rush the project or use cheap materials.
Alternatively, if you receive a quote that seems too high, the contractor may have a busy schedule or might not really want the job, so they’ve offered you a price they don’t expect you to take.
Regardless of who you choose, see if you can find reviews and testimonials to make sure you’ve selected a contractor who is professional and has good customer feedback.
3. Aim high with your budget
When homeowners take on a renovation, they tend to underestimate the costs. To avoid being shocked by going over budget, estimate what you think the total costs would be and then at another twenty percent. That twenty percent could account for damaged building materials, mistakes, or last-minute changes and customizations--all are frequent on DIY projects.
4. Don’t work without a design or blueprint
Even for simple home improvement projects, it’s best to start out with a plan. Having detailed measurements and drawings to refer to will help you avoid costly mistakes. We’ve all felt the temptation to “eyeball it” when working on a project--taking the extra few minutes to measure and refer to your plan will save you time in the long run.
5. Relax and focus on the results
Home improvement projects can be a source of frustration for many families. If you aren’t an expert, it’s easy to get angry when things aren’t going as you planned. If you find yourself frequently hitting a wall-literally or figuratively--step back from the project and refocus on the end goal, improving your home for years to come.
When you buy a home, there’s more to shop for than just the right place to live. Before you settle with a lender, you should shop around a bit. You want to be sure that your lender has your very best interests in mind when you’re in the midst of making one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime. Below, you’ll find some of the most important questions that you need to ask a lender while you’re in the process of buying a home.
Do You Offer Any Special Programs?
Choosing the right lender involves choosing a firm that offers the types of programs that will be helpful to your specific situation. You should look for a lender that offers a wide array of loans to suit your needs. Beware of any lender who tries to push you into a certain type of loan, especially if you don’t feel that it is a good fit for you.
Do You Understand The Terms Of Certain Types Of Loans?
If you are seeking a certain type of loan, you probably should tell your lender that upfront. Of they seem familiar with it and have worked with the loan before, you’re in good hands. If the type of loan that you’re looking for is more uncommon, then you may need to shop around carefully for the right lender who understands your needs.
Do I meet The Qualifications For Specific Loans?
The requirements for the same loan at two different lenders could be different. Things like your credit score could be a big factor. If you have a less than desirable credit score, this would also prompt you to want to look around a bit. You should know that different lenders have different terms and looking at a few lenders could be beneficial to you.
What Are The Mortgage Rates?
You’ll need a general ballpark idea of what rates will be for you when you finally secure that home loan. Keep in mind that rates fluctuate often and that an estimate will be just that. It’s not a number that will be set in stone, however, it will give you a good place to start as you shop around for a loan.
Do You Help With Down Payments?
There are many down payment assistance programs available and your lender can help you to navigate them. The more you put down, the better your interest rate will be. If the amount that you’re able to put down on a home is a factor for you, definitely discuss it with your lender.
Can You Provide Pre-Approval Proof?
In hot real estate markets, you’re going to need some proof that you’re pre-approved in order to have the upper hand once you put in an offer on a home. Your lender should be able to provide your real estate agent with a certified letter of your pre-approval and the amount.
Choosing the right lender is just as important as choosing the right realtor and the right home to buy. It’s just another part of the home buying process!
Although buying a home should be a fast, seamless process, negotiations with a home seller sometimes can slow down the homebuying journey.
Let's face it – no one wants to deal with long, arduous negotiations, particularly when they are close to acquiring their dream residence. However, homebuyers who prepare for the worst may be better equipped than others to avoid a complicated homebuying negotiation.
What does it take to prepare for a difficult homebuying negotiation? Here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Understand the Housing Market
If you submit a competitive offer on a residence from the get-go, you may be able to avoid a difficult homebuying negotiation altogether.
Ultimately, a homebuyer who allocates the necessary time and resources to learn about the real estate market will understand how one residence stacks up against another. Then, he or she can submit a home offer that matches or exceeds a home seller's expectations, thereby reducing the risk of an extensive homebuying negotiation.
2. Analyze Your Homebuying Goals
A homebuyer who analyzes his or her homebuying goals can map out his or her property buying journey. That way, this homebuyer can assess homes that fit within his or her price range and minimize the chance of a complex homebuying negotiation.
Furthermore, if a homebuyer sets realistic expectations for a home search, he or she may be able to make informed decisions throughout a negotiation with a home seller.
A homebuyer who knows how much he or she can afford to pay for a house will be able to submit a home offer that corresponds with his or her budget. And if a home seller asks for more money, a homebuyer should feel comfortable walking away from a negotiation.
Remember, it is paramount for a negotiation to fulfill the needs of both property buyer and seller. If the negotiation favors a home seller, a homebuyer should be prepared to restart his or her home search.
3. Keep Your Emotions in Check
It is easy for a homebuying negotiation to escalate quickly. But a property buyer who understands how to control his or her emotions can take a step back during a stressful homebuying negotiation and plan his or her next move accordingly.
Stress sometimes can get the best of a homebuyer, especially if a property buyer wants to do everything possible to secure a great home as quickly as possible. If a homebuyer plans for stressful situations now, he or she may be able to reduce his or her stress levels when a homebuying negotiation begins.
Don't be afraid to take time to relax during a homebuying negotiation. Going for a walk outdoors or hanging out with family members and friends may provide a stress-relieving break from a homebuying negotiation.
Or, if a homebuyer wants extra help, hiring a real estate agent is ideal. This housing market professional understands the challenges of homebuying negotiations and will help a homebuyer alleviate stress time and time again.
Ready to acquire your ideal residence? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can get ready for a difficult homebuying negotiation.
One of the best things that you can add to your home is a solar power system. These can be costly but they save you a lot in the long term on utility costs. While government programs have scaled back for these energy saving improvements over the years, there’s still many benefits to them. You can even get a loan specifically for installing solar power to your home.
Before you take the leap, you’ll want to know for sure if solar will really add value to your home. Of course, you want a return on your investment.
The good news is that there’s no doubt about it that installing solar panels does definitely add value to your home. There’s one caveat to the value: You should own your solar power system as opposed to leasing it through a solar company or a power purchase agreement.
Homes that have solar panels sell for more money simply because they offer a definite return benefit to the future owner.
Does A Leased Solar System Offer The Same Benefits?
Owning your solar system will save you more money in the long run than leasing your system. When you own a solar power system, the FHA requires that the total value of your solar system be added to the total value of your home when you go to sell it. If you lease the panels, this value cannot be added to the home during an assessment.
If you have financed the system, the rules may be a bit more lenient. While you technically don’t own the system, you are paying towards owning the system yourself. Each lender will have their own standards for this, so check with them for specifics, as your home must meet certain standards and eligibility requirements.
Securing A Mortgage With A Leased Solar System
If someone is looking to secure a mortgage with a leased or currently unowned solar energy system, there are a few hurdles that you might face through the process. These problems include:
Solar lease payments must be included in the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio.
The panel owners must have a third-party insurance to cover damage to the property that’s being mortgaged in the event of malfunction or faulty installation of the panels.
Solar Panels Are An Overall Great Investment
It’s really hard to go wrong if you purchase or finance your solar panel system. As long as you own the system, value will be added to your home. You’ll also save on your own utility bills. Your home will undoubtedly become more attractive to buyers if you decide to sell your home in the future.