October 11, 2012
fall Home IMPROVEMENT
the cheshire herald, October 11, 2012
Fall Home Improvement 2012 Options Exist For You To Finance That Big Improvement Project
fter years of funny financing and few limitations on loans, banks and other lenders have tightened up their lending policies. As a result, homeowners considering a home improvement project might need to look elsewhere to secure financing. There are no certainties in the real estate markets. Though statistics suggest marked improvement in home sales over just a few months ago, many homeowners remain wary about selling their home to try to move up to something bigger and better. The National Association of Home Builders says many people are choosing to stay put in their homes and remodel or make renovations to transform the house into something more comfortable. While there are many worthwhile home renovation projects, the NAHB recommends projects that bring your home up to par with the neighbors. It doesn't pay to transform your home into the most expensive on the street, unless you plan to live there for the rest of your life. Real estate experts recommend that a remodeling investment increases the value of your house by no more than 10 to 15 percent above the median sales price in your neighborhood. When it comes time to finance a remodel or renovation, you may
not know where to start. Credit restrictions on home mortgages that have troubled many wouldbe buyers have also plagued individuals looking to finance home improvements. However, homeowners hoping to finance a project do have options, and not all of them require stellar credit ratings. * Borrow against a retirement plan. Many retirement plans, such as a 401(k), allow plan members to take out a portion of the savings to put toward a home loan. This does not mean you are taking money out of the account permanently. Rather, you are borrowing against yourself, with repayment necessary in a certain timeframe. Because these loans often offer very low interest rates, and essentially the interest is being paid back to you, they might be a good option for men and women who cannot secure a traditional loan. However, if you have been laid off, there may be a shorter repayment period. Also, the interest on these loans is not tax-deductible. * Borrow against other investments. CDs, bonds, or mutual funds can provide the collateral you need and earn you a lower interest rate. Fixed-income investments are more stable options to borrow against, as their value won't have a chance to decline. * Apply for a home equity
loan. Many people have heard of a home equity loan, and it is usually the first choice when borrowing funds for renovations. Essentially a home equity loan is taking out a second mortgage on your home to pay for the work you want to have done, which is based on the equity, or the difference between the home's fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property. The interest on these loans is tax-deductible, which can make this financing option quite popular. * Secure a home equity line of credit. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is another type of home equity loan. Instead of receiving a lump sum to use toward renovations like you would with a traditional home equity loan, a HELOC is sort of a credit card type scenario based on the equity in your home. You are given a line of credit, against which you can buy items. This is good for intermittent needs, when one large sum is not needed. HELOCs have a draw period, during which the borrower can use the credit, and a repayment period, during which it must be repaid. HELOCs generally have lower mortgage fees at the start and are generally subject to the same tax incentives as regular home equity loans. * Consider refinancing. Inter-
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est rates on mortgages are at historic lows. You may qualify to do a cash-out refinance, where you borrow against the value of your home and create an entirely new mortgage at the lower rate. Although you will start your mortgage all over from day 1 and have to pay closing fees, this type of refinancing can be more advantageous to homeowners with significant equity in their homes. * Apply for a governmentsponsored loan. The government may offer programs aimed at helping individuals who are underwater on their home loans borrow money to make necessary improvements. While the funding cannot be used to purchase luxury items, such as a swimming pool, it can be used for necessities. Residents of the United States
can explore FHA 203(k) refinance options and an FHA title 1 improvement loan. * Discuss financing with your contractor. Some contractors may offer financing. Keep in mind that the interest rates may be high, and it may be difficult to investigate the security of these types of loans. Many homeowners also look to credit cards to help finance some home renovation projects, but they should be used as a last resort. Credit cards typically come with high interest rates and, while they are good for some small projects, financing larger projects on a card may land you very deep in debt. Homeowners who choose to stay in their homes and make renovations have a host of options at their disposal to finance those projects.
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the cheshire herald, OctOber 11, 2012
Fall Home Improvement 2012 Follow Some Easy Steps To Ensure Your Home Has Curb Appeal
en and women who have tried to sell a home are likely familiar with the phrase "curb appeal." curb appeal is similar to getting ready for a big date, only you're not dressing yourself up to make a strong first impression. instead, improving curb appeal involves dressing your home up in the hopes it makes a strong first impression on prospective buyers, many of whom will have a strong opinion about the property before they even get out of their cars to have a look around. a home with strong curb appeal can entice buyers who are likely to believe that a home with a well-maintained exterior is likely to have an equally impressive interior. homeowners who want the process of selling their home to go smoothly can improve the property's curb appeal in a number of ways, many of which don't necessitate a substantial home improvement budget. * Clean up. the most effective way to improve curb appeal is to clean up the property. Many the driveway or walkways. if the scure your home. homeowners are savvy enough to boundary between your driveway * clean the gutters. leaves remove toys and other items from and lawn is not distinct, consider and sticks hanging from the gutthe yard before showing a home, installing edging materials such ters are a red flag to buyers, who but cleaning up goes beyond re- as stone or bricks. the edging tend to associate clogged gutters moving clutter from the property. can be level with the driveway with roof damage. clean the gutMake sure all hedges are trimmed or elevated, but keep in mind that ters thoroughly before putting and remove weeds, sticks, and elevated driveway edging can your home up for sale and keep other debris from any flower protect the lawn, preventing kids them clean throughout the selling beds. Lay mulch in the flower from riding their bicycles onto the process. if your property includes beds and garden, as mulch pre- lawn or cars from driving onto it. lots of trees, install guards to keep vents weed growth while helping adding edging is not a very dif- twigs and leaves out of the gutthe soil retain moisture, result- ficult do-it-yourself project. ters. ing in more attractive gardens to * Make the home accessible * Take to the trees. Many catch a buyer's eye. homeowners grow accustomed through the front door. Many * Get an "edge" on other sell- to overgrown trees around their homeowners enter their home ers. edging is another easy and property and may not notice that through a side door or through effective way to improve curb ap- low-hanging, unsightly branches their garage. if you fall into this Please call for corrections at 203-317-2308 - after 5 pm call 203-317-2282 peal. edge driveways, sidewalks, are hiding the home from view. category, keep in mind that proAd#:1253760 Pub:RJ Date:07/31/12 Day:TUE Size:3X4 Cust:LYON & BILLARD Last Edited and other walkways around the buyers want to see the house, spective buyers will be enterBy:JPROTO on 7/26/12 1:31 PM. Salesperson:319 Tag Line:SPADEA - TUES SPECIAL Color property, removing or trimming so take to the trees and trim any ing through the front door, so Info:FULL anything that is hanging over branches that hang too low or ob- make this area accessible. clear
any clutter, such as overgrown hedges, away from the front door, and consider upgrading the door handle to a more modern feature. in addition, make sure the lock on the front door doesn't stick, forcing the realtor and buyers to immediately struggle before entering the home. You want buyers and their real estate agents to get in and out of the home as smoothly as possible. * Make sure all plants, including ﬂowers, are living. dehydrated or dead plants and flowers are eyesores, and they will give
buyers the impression that you didn't pay much attention to your property. Make sure all plants are alive and thriving and replace those that aren't. You can replant new flowers or plants or just use potted plants instead. When purchasing new plants, choose lowmaintenance varieties that appeal to buyers who want good vibrant plants but might not want to put in much work into the garden. When selling a home, homeowners can employ a number of tactics to improve their home's curb appeal.
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omeowners remodeling their kitchen can look beyond traditional appliances and add specialty tools that may save on space and upgrade room efficiency. Not every kitchen is equipped with a trash compactor or wine cooler, but many homeowners are seeing the benefits of rethinking what appliances are included in their kitchen layouts and looking beyond the range or dishwasher. Trash Compactor a trash compactor is a device that can be built into cabinetry or used as a stand-alone appliance wherever there is an available electrical outlet. compactors have advantages over traditional garbage pails and bags in the kitchen. they can hold a week or two of garbage in compressed form, reducing the need to take See SPRUCE, page 13
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the cheshire herald, OctOber 11, 2012
Fall Home Improvement 2012 Going Green Good For The Environment And Your Pocketbook
id you know that being green saves money, especially around the house? homeowners annually lose hundreds of dollars to inefficient appliances and a drafty home. Making simple changes can benefit the planet and your bottom line. appliances in your home as well as certain behaviors can have a considerable impact on how much energy is consumed. the energy information administration reports that the average home uses approximately 1,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) each month. Kwh is measured by multiplying the number of 1,000 watts of electricity used by the number of hours the device is in use. every appliance has a different measure of electricity usage. here are some examples of common appliances in the home and how much energy they consume in one hour, courtesy of bright hub: Electric clothes dryer: 6,000 watts Washing machine: 425 watts Refrigerator: 188 watts Dishwasher: 200 watts
Central AC: 6,000 watts Window AC: 1,300 watts Flat screen TV: 150 watts LCD TV: 213 watts Vacuum: 1,100 watts Freezer: 273 watts Water heater: 473 watts Toaster oven: 1,200 watts Coffeemaker: 1,200 watts Desktop computer: 95 watts DVD player: 25 watts Cable box: 20 watts Laptop: 50 watts Selecting energy-efficient appliances and using them in a conservative manner can reduce energy usage and the cost of your monthly utility bill. try to run high-wattage appliances during the evening or early-morning hours when energy rates may be reduced. also, if the weather will be warm, running these appliances during cooler hours prevents the home from heating up even more -- possibly requiring the additional use of an air conditioner. Unplug appliances when they're not in use to avoid vampire drain. Many appliances still draw a small amount of power even when turned off. also, be
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sure to properly insulate and position appliances so they can run at the highest level of efficiency. Energy audit You can request or hire individuals to conduct an energy audit or home energy assessment. according to the U.s. department of energy, the audit will assess how much energy your home consumes and evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. if you prefer to do an energy audit yourself, you can look at a few key areas around the home where there may be air leaks or inefficient uses of energy. First, turn off any combustible appliances, such as water heaters and furnaces. Make sure the windows are closed, then turn on exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen to suck the air out of the rooms. Feel around outlets, doors, windows, baseboards, fireplaces, and attic hatches for any apparent leaks. Use a stick of incense to easily see the flow of air in the incense smoke. if any leaks are found, address each one. this generally involves recaulking or sealing around points of entry. the dOe says the potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from five percent to 30 percent per year.
Additional steps there are other steps you can take to make a home more efficient. * Install solar panels to draw power from the sun. * Plant deciduous trees or bushes on the south- and westfacing areas of the home. the leaves will shade the home during the summer months and fall off to allow sunshine in during the winter months. * Plant bushes by the front door to act as a wind buffer. * Use skylights to add light and warmth from the sun to the home. * think about using motionactivated lights in the home. *install a new programmable thermostat.
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