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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 4/5/2019

The home appraisal is the process of re-evaluating or revaluing your property to determine the market value either because you want to put the house up for sale or because you want to refinance your mortgage. When you put up your property for sale, you want to have it appraised by a professional as this will give you a fair idea of how much your property is worth.

Financial institutions giving out loans order a home appraisal to ensure the value of the house they are taking as collateral is equal or more than the amount they are providing as a loan. The evaluation helps lenders to avoid losing money if they decide to sell off the property due to failure by the borrower to pay up at the specified time, also known as foreclosure. A certified professional handles a home appraisal and usually has years of training and experience. After the assessment, the expert is expected to give an unbiased opinion about the value of your property. Some things would present your house in a better light and impact on how valuable your property is.

Fix All Damaged Safety Equipment

Ensure all safety equipment that is not working is fixed before the day of appraisal, as lack of these would make you lose points during the inspection. Ensure safety equipment like smoke alarms, security alarms, water heater straps among others are present and functional in your property.

Document Your Renovations

Inform your home appraiser of recent renovations you may have done on the property, the time when you did them and the cost of such repairs. The appraiser might not notice all the changes since itís not their house, which is why you should bring it to their notice.

A Little Touch Up

Houses with cracked walls, a leaking roof, water-stained walls, signs of pest infestation, damaged floors, or moldy smell will get valued at a lesser amount. Repaint your walls, replace your leaking roof, fix any broken kitchen cabinet, change the doorknobs and generally improve on the appearance of your property. Also, take a walk around and assess the visual appeal yourself to know the things that need fixing ahead of time.

The $500 Rule

Appraisers value property in $500 increments. To be assessed at a higher amount, itís better to have things like broken doors, damaged floors, old wallpaper, leaky faucets, broken windows repaired immediately. By doing this, you will recover the amount you spent on such repairs in your home appraisal report.

Check Your Yard

You want to take a walk outside your property and do a thorough scan of what might devalue your property, and have it fixed before the home appraiser arrives. Keep your grass and shrubs neat, add some colorful flowers, remove dried leaves littering the yard and whatever clutter will make your yard less attractive. Houses with a welcoming curb appeal receive better appraisals and are considered more valuable in the market.

Your seller's agent can help you prepare for your appraisal so heed their advice.




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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 12/28/2018

One of the most satisfying aspects of being a new homeowner is the process of "making it your own."

That could include everything from painting walls and hanging pictures to replacing window treatments and assembling shelves. (Then, of course, there's the unpacking, furniture arranging, organizing, and room cleaning!)

For some people, one of the biggest challenges in getting unpacked, set up, and fully decorated is keeping their motivation high. While momentum is usually highest during the first few weeks of living in a new home, a lot of distractions, interruptions, and competing priorities can quickly vie for your attention.

In addition to using good time management skills and setting self-imposed deadlines for getting projects done, here are a few other strategies for staying on track with your decorating and home improvement goals:

Purchase needed supplies ASAP: It's easy for a project to get derailed or put on the "back burner" when you don't have all the tools, supplies, and materials you need to get started. Painting walls and ceilings is the perfect example because you can't get fully underway until you have a variety of brushes, rollers, paint trays, drop cloths, painters' tape, and a sufficient supply of paint -- often more than one color. If you have holes or cracks to fill, you may also need additional supplies like joint compound, a putty knife, and sandpaper. When you have immediate access to all the supplies you need for a particular project, it eliminates potential delays, excuses for getting started, and interruptions in your work flow.

Arrange child care: Sometimes the best approach to keeping your children supervised and entertained while you're working on the house is to hire a responsible teenager to babysit. If you have one or more older children in the family who can help take care of the younger ones for a few hours, then that's even better. In either case, you'll be able to stay focused on the task at hand and get a lot more accomplished.

Make it a priority: The problem with continually postponing a home repair, a landscaping task, or a painting project is that weeks can easily turn into months! Before you know it, years have gone by and you still haven't organized your basement, cleaned out those clogged rain gutters, or applied a fresh coat of paint to your outdated bathroom walls. By blocking off a specific period of time for getting a project underway or completed, you'll be accomplishing your home maintenance goals and beautifying your home faster and more efficiently.

Commit it to writing: When you write yourself a reminder note, create a to-do list, mark it on your calendar, or even text your spouse about your plans to tackle the project on Saturday, you've increased the probability that it will get done. Verbally telling people about it, such as when they ask you what you're doing this weekend, will also help fuel your motivation and nudge you to get the job done in a timely way!





Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 1/19/2018

When selling your home, you want to be able to get the largest return for your investment. And buyers are looking for their next place to call home. They are looking for a place that they can see themselves living and creating a future. And oftentimes, itís very difficult for buyers to look beyond the cosmetics of a home, especially when viewing online. Therefore, if large investments are not in the cards for you or wonít bring a significant ROI, small home improvements are the way to go. These small improvements can take your home from blah to wow!

Letís take a look at some of the best small home improvements that will certainly provide you with a return.  

1. Fresh coat of paint: A fresh coat of paint can make the world of a difference in a home. It can instantly brighten up a space and make the home look and feel neweróan instant plus for any seller and buyer. But be sure to choose more neutral colors as not everyone will be a fan of bold colors.

2. Adding architectural touches: Architectural features like crown molding and a chair rail can add an elegant upgrade to any home. They can be fairly inexpensive and would only take a weekend to put up.

3. Update front door: Your front door is a large part of your curb appeal. And a homeís curb appeal can leave a substantial impression on buyers. You can go the inexpensive route and add a pop of color that compliments your homeís exterior and landscaping or purchase a new door if a coat of paint wonít do the trick.

4. Add a backsplash: Backsplashes donít have to break the bank to catch a buyerís eye. And there are so many options from subway tile to mosaic to antique tin.

5. New hardware: Updating the hardware in your kitchen and bathroom can make the world of a difference. Adding modern hardware to cabinet doors will add a refreshing, simple update.

6. Update fixtures: Replacing old, worn down bathroom and kitchen fixtures is a very simple home improvement. Although not the cheapest of these options, they will definitely make a big difference in those rooms.Think of a home built in the 90s that has brass fixtures. The home looks very outdated and therefore worth less in the eyes of a buyer. If you update these fixtures to pewter or brushed nickel, you are instantly bringing the spaces into the 21st century and catching the appeal of buyers.

The amount of time, effort, and money that you want to put back into your home is a decision that you alone can make. It may seem silly to put more money into the home you are trying to sell, but itís quite the opposite. Be smart about your updates and improvements. Try to think like a buyer and make updates that the majority will like and want.





Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 2/24/2017

If youíre trying to decide whether itís best to move from your current home or to make the necessary improvements on the home, itís not an easy decision. One thing you may have to consider is how to get the capital in order to have those home improvements done. 

Thereís a variety of options available to you in order to secure a loan to renovate your home. Whether you need to renovate the kitchen, build out from your current property, or replace the heating system, thereís ways that you can get the money to complete these necessary updates. 


One thing to consider about any of the options discussed is that you donít want to be paying for home improvement loans until you need to update everything once again. If youíre preparing to sell your home, making improvements is a wise choice, as it can increase the return that youíll get on your home. 

Donít Run Out Of Cash


 If you cannot complete the improvements that you started, you may not be able to get another loan to complete them. You can typically borrow between 80 and 90% of your home equity. The downside to refinancing your home or taking out home equity lines of credit is that youíll need to pay closing costs once the loan is approved. In other words, youíll need to put out some cash in order to get some cash. 

Use Your Own Cash

If you have some cash saved up, itís wise to just do one project at a time. This can take some time, but can be more economical in the long run. If you donít need to complete your repairs in a hurry, then using your own savings is a good idea.

Refinance Your Home

If you would benefit from a lower interest rate, refinancing your home can be a great option. As long as the cost of repairs doesnít exceed the number of years that the updates will last, refinancing makes sense. 

Home Equity Credit Line


If your mortgage is locked in and working for you, home equity lines of credit are always a good option. You can draw money out as you need it and pay it back as you go. You wonít need to pay interest until you use the money and the loan is good for 10 years. The downside is that if you donít make the payments, you could lose your home.   

Home Equity Loans

This type of loan allows you to borrow a fixed amount and then pay back the loan with a fixed monthly installment. A 15 year term is typical of this type of loan.


Construction Loans


A construction loan can be used to build a house or to make large-scale renovations. These loans are short-term and not always easy to find access to. Not to mention that they are heavily managed and perhaps the least popular option presented here. 


FHA 203K Loans


This type of loan is generally used to purchase a home that is in need of much repair. The downside is that youíll need mortgage insurance for the entire life of the loan. Less complicated repairs often offer a more streamlined FHA loan of up to $35,000. 


FHA Title 1 Loans


These loans provide up to $25,000 for home improvements. The money is insured by the federal government and can be obtained from approved lenders. Homeowners donít need access to equity in order to get one of these loans and they are available in 20 year terms. 


These are just some of the options that are available to you as a homeowner seeking ways to get cash to make improvements to your home. You can tap into other types of personal loans including credit cards. Really, you need to do whatís best for your finances. Itís good to know that thereís options available to you to improve your home.




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