Remodeling Improvements That Entice Buyers

Over the last few years, some homeowners have opted to stay put for the time being and that's caused them to consider remodeling instead of moving. But most homeowners know that one day they might need or want to sell their home so which remodels help to add value and entice buyers?
There are a few areas that are better than others to improve. It's pretty easy to understand why these home remodels are enticing buyers when you consider the way the housing market has been for the past several years.
Here are a few of the renovations that are adding value to homes and creating appeal from home buyers.
Aging in Place
With the tough economic times, more short sales and foreclosures, extended families are combining homes and reducing their cost of living by residing together in one larger house. The National Association of Home Builders found that 62 percent of builders in a survey were working on home projects that were helping families "age in place". Included in these types of remodels are placing a bedroom on the entry-level of a home, wider doorways that would accommodate a wheelchair, and overall modifications for the elderly including reducing steps outside and inside.
At one time, these designs might have been unattractive but with many Americans wanting to "age in place" and extended families living together, remodels like these are becoming common, necessary, and valued.
Savvy Kitchen
The great rooms that bring the kitchen and the eating areas together are still popular. More space is preferred so families can have room to sit and spend time together over a meal even if that means having less space to actually prepare the food. Cabinets and shelving are being customized to suit the homeowners' needs and many are favoring pantries or utility rooms. Kitchens are taking on the look of a chef's cooking space with open shelving and islands to help homeowners be able to quickly prepare meals and still mingle with guests and family.
Totally Wired
Fast-placed, busy buyers who often work from home will find smart homes that are wired and built to handle all the high-technology needs a huge plus when it comes time to market and sell their homes. Another plus is having space-saving workstations in the home. Remodeled homes that feature floor-to-ceiling bookcases and wiring for home offices are increasingly becoming the norm in many homes.
Outdoor Living
This continues to be a popular trend to bring the outside in. Making the most of living spaces, even those in the garage and outside, is a huge benefit. Homeowners are capitalizing on all possible livable space by creating outdoor living rooms complete with wiring for entertainment, cooking, and relaxing. Outdoor furniture is also being featured inside as well as outside the home, blending the line between the two.
According to the Census Bureau, 2011 home starts were bigger and featured more amenities than in the previous year. It seems houses are growing again. The average new-home's square footage is was 2,522 in 2011, up from 2,381 square feet.
Not all remodels add value to the home. The balance of achieving what you like in a home and which improvements can potentially increase the sale of your home, can allow you to make smart home improvement choices.

Homeownership Possible Within Three Years After Foreclosure

Losing your home can be devastating to your credit, not to mention your psyche, but you can buy again within as few as three years after a foreclosure or short sale.
It's not surprising when you lose your home you also lose some self-esteem, especially if your were raised in a culture that sees homeownership as a status symbol, as a sign that you've finally arrived.
Some lost self-esteem also comes from the belief you've lost your shot at the American Dream. Others will tell you seven to ten years must pass before you can buy again. At that time, uninformed people say, you'll have to buy at high interest rates.
That's not always true.
If you file for bankruptcy, and make the right credit and financial moves, you can buy a home again as soon as two years after your bankruptcy is discharged.
What's more, if you rebuild your credit and maintain a healthy, on-time credit profile, you can take advantage of low down payment and low interest rate loans. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) allows you to buy a home with as little as 3.5 percent down and take advantage of some of the best interest rates on the market.
FHA loans literally replaced the subprime brand, but came with federal backing.
Also see: "U.S. to lower size of guaranteed mortgages"
You also may be eligible for first-time homebuyer programs that assist you with your down payment and closing costs. First-time homebuyer programs are not just for those who have never owned a home, but allow you to qualify if you have not owned a home in the past three years.
Some private lenders, home owners and investors also may allow you to buy a home even sooner than the two- to three-year period, but it will cost you a higher interest rate and require a large down payment.
With the housing market flat and many local markets still expected to see prices fall more, it is not a bad idea to spend the next several years cleaning up and re-establishing your credit. Good credit will allow you to buy a home with a minimal down payment and the lowest interest rates.
If you lost your home to foreclosure or a short sale, don't lose hope. Don't hesitate. Begin today putting yourself in a good position to buy.
Fix your credit
• Rebuild your credit by making your monthly debt payments on time. Don't ignore your remaining credit obligations during foreclosure or after losing your home. Your credit score gets a boost, in part, based on the number of positive accounts in your credit report. The more you have, within reason, the faster your credit score rises, even after losing a home.
• Pay down your credit cards but not to a zero balance. Your credit score gets a boost if you maintain a balance that is about 30 percent or lower than your credit limit. Keeping a balance reveals you can borrow money and pay it back on time. Don't close out your credit cards because the longer your positive credit history, the more your credit score and your ability to buy a home will improve.
Save money
• Most of today's homebuyer programs require a down payment. FHA loans require 3.5 percent down -- $3,500 for every $100,000 you borrow. You likely will have to pay closing costs, another 2 percent to 3 percent of the sales price. This is another $2,000 to $3,000 per $100,000. Do the math to determine how much you need to save each month, over the next two or three years, to have enough to cover your down payment and closing costs.
Don't be pressured
• Buy only when you are ready. You didn't lose your credit overnight. Likewise, it will take time to rebuild your credit and save for a down payment. Home buying deals will be available for years to come.
• Avoid adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and consider a 15- or 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) that is a fully amortized loan so your payment and interest rate are fixed for the duration of the loan. Full amortization means each payment helps pay down the principal. When your loan term ends, so does the loan balance.
• Buy based on what you can afford, rather than a higher amount approved by the lender. You already know the risk of biting off more than you can chew. Lenders will pre-approve you based on your gross monthly income, but that does not consider taxes subtracted from your paycheck, food, clothing, utilities and other monthly obligations.
Know your comfort zone. Don't over-extend yourself.

Clean up Your Credit

More than ever having a healthy credit score is important. It may mean the difference between securing a home loan or not. Don't let old habits or debts stand in your way of taking advantage of historically low interest rates and great deals on housing.
The first order of business is to arm yourself with the cold, hard facts. What is the state of your credit report and score? You can visit three times a year for free to view your credit report. You will have to pay a nominal fee in order to view your score.
Once you have accessed your report be sure to check it over carefully for errors. This is not a time to let identity thieves abscond with your good name. Besides identity theft there may also be errors and omissions that should be corrected. Contact each of the three major credit reporting bureaus to have your report updated.
There are also many programs available today to protect against identity theft. Many banks now offer convenient ways to monitor account and card activity. If unusual spending shows up on your account they will halt any purchases and contact you immediately to confirm you are in fact the person making them.
Now that your existing report is in good working order and safeguarded from theft, it's time to start making repairs. First reduce the amount of hard inquiries. The home buying process is not a time to start opening new accounts and lines of credits.
Resist the urge to buy the new car, call DirecTV, and buy new furniture on credit. Wait to make those purchases after you've closed on your home. Your future interest rates will reflect your patience.
Start paying down balances on credit cards. While some revolving accounts like car payment and home mortgages show you are a responsible borrower, having high balances on your cards dramatically reduces your score.
Don't pay off cards just to close them, however, if you're looking to raise your score. The way this works is simple. If you have a total of $10,000 in credit available and you carry a balance of $5,000, you are using 50% of your available credit. That is too high.
If you close a card and are using $5,000 of now $7,000 available credit, you are using 71 percent of your available credit and are worse off than you were!
The key is to start paying down balances and keep that percentage low. Once you're positive that your mortgage and loans are in place you can then consider closing card accounts.
Next, never pay late. If you need to set up payment reminders or automatic withdrawals for certain bills in order to pay on time then by all means do it.
If you fear that you will miss a payment or will be late be sure to contact lenders or creditors before this happens. Many lenders will work with you without reporting the missed month to the credit bureaus. Every reported late payment docks your score and stays on your report for years.
Finally, pay off debt instead of moving it from one card to another. It might be tempting to put this debt on that card and so on, but that doesn't remove the history from your credit report. In fact, if you have now opened a new card, you might have just dinged your score.
Responsible spending and payments are how you build a credit report. There is no overnight fix to a score (don't buy into those scams)! Do your work to pay down debt and over the next months and years your credit score will soar sky-high.