Spring is a hot time for both remodeling and moving.
The question is: Which should I do, if I have a choice?
About 16 million American families move each year.
Don't decide to relocate simply because you're looking for a profit in today's
hot housing market or because interest rates have been trending down. Make certain
your reasons for moving are personal ones, such as the arrival of a baby.
Know exactly what costs you're looking at before you
make a final decision to move or remodel: buying and selling costs, such as commissions;
appraisals and application fees; mortgage rates and financing costs; and moving
Thinking of remodeling?
Not all projects result in substantial financial
returns. Kitchen and bathroom remodels will return the most bang for your buck.
A backyard pool or Jacuzzi could mean a lot to you, but not to a buyer some
years down the road.
Consider also the cost per square foot of moving
versus remodeling. For instance, remodeling your present home may cost $300
a square foot, while the house you're considering buying might cost $400 a square
foot. Although you want to go bigger, you still might pay more for a new house
than for an addition.
If you and your family can't do the work involved
in remodeling, make sure to get at least three bids from reputable contractors
in order to assess costs accurately.
And keep in mind that good contractors tend to be
continually busy. If it takes a month or two or even longer to schedule them,
be patient. It will be worth the wait to get the job done right.
If you choose to remodel, make your house a safer
place to live, especially if you have young children. Install anti-scald valves
on all faucets and locks or gates on all windows.
Ace Hardware Corporation also recommends ground-fault
circuit interrupters for electric receptacles or circuit breakers near all water
sources in older homes, since they may not have been installed prior to this
requirement by the National Electrical Code.
Are you buying?
It's easier than ever to buy a new house, because
mortgage companies are knocking themselves out to get everyone into a home.
There has been "some hesitancy" among local
buyers because of the presidential election, higher gasoline prices, and a declining
stock market, say real-estate experts. To combat this slump, banks and mortgage
companies are offering dozens of new financing programs for the average buyer,
even if he or she has a spotty credit record or has suffered a bankruptcy.
If you have good credit, you may be able to purchase
a house or farm without putting down a dime.
Follow these key steps:
- Get "preapproved"-not just "prequalified"-by a lender
for the amount of the loan you are looking for. This gives you greater clout
with the seller.
- Always shop five or six local lenders that seem to offer the lowest rates
and points. A point is one-hundredth of the loan amount. One point on a $100,000
mortgage is $1,000.
- Carefully read the lender's "good faith estimate" of all fees
and closing costs. Question anything that's not clear. Especially check the
"rate lock"-the time period between your application and the house
closing-to make certain the rate can't bounce in the interim.
Are you selling?
If you are thinking about putting your home on
the market, here are some tips from InspectAmerica Engineering (www.
inspectamerica.com) on preparing it for sale.
- Repaint all areas, inside and out, in need of a touch-up.
- Maintain the lawn, and repair any worn walkways or driveways. The exterior
will be a prospective buyer's first and last impression.
- Consider replacing carpeting or flooring.
- Replace or repair any rusted or leaking pipes and faucets, and make certain
all drains flow freely.
- Open your shades, light otherwise dark areas, make certain tiled floors
and counters sparkle, and don't leave any toys or garbage lying around.
- Remove pets from the house when it's being shown.
If you choose to renovate yourself, get some
help to avoid botching the job. Check how-to videos and books from the library,
sign up for a carpentry class, or check out some Web sites, including: