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Renovating Before Moving In? Ask These Questions!


After looking around for a while, you’ve finally found your dream home. Well, almost.

Your plan is to buy the property and then do some renovations before you move in. The property might need just a few minor cosmetic improvements—or a full-scale structural gutting.

Every project is different, of course. But before you close on your property and start looking for a sledgehammer, make sure you know the answer to these 6 questions.

Will I Hire Someone Or Do It Myself?

Doing it yourself may be less expensive, but you’ll need to balance that against the value of your time (and the possibility of having to hire a contractor to fix a mistake if it turns out you don’t actually know what you’re doing).

However, those who do possess do-it-yourself renovation abilities may find the process both personally and financially rewarding.

How Long Will the Renovation Take?

If you and your family want to be able to live in the house by a certain date, make sure your renovation schedule allows for that—and that you leave room in the schedule for delays that might prevent you from moving in on time.

Remember that delays won’t just come from the renovation work itself. Permit processes can also take quite a bit of time.

Are There Any Neighborhood Restrictions On What I Can Do?

Make sure your neighborhood and applicable government will allow whatever renovation you’re planning.

You may be restricted if you live in a historic neighborhood, for example, that has rules about how the houses must look. A homeowners association might also put restrictions on modifications you can make.

How Will I Finance the Project?

Talk to a mortgage banker at First Bank about your options, including a Home Improvement Program (HIP) loan and the FHA 203k loan.

You might also consider the FHA Streamlined 203k loan, which gives buyers up to $35,000 for non-structural renovations.

How Much Will I Spend In the Short Run?

You should obviously have an idea of renovation costs before you buy the property you want to renovate.

If your renovation is due to visible structural problems, it’s a good bet that there are additional problems you can’t see—problems that will only become apparent after the renovation process begins.

Plan for a contingency fund of 20% of the amount you think you’re going to have to spend on the renovation to cover anything unexpected.

How Much Will I Earn in the Long Run?

Renovations can increase the resale value of your home by improving its structural integrity, functionality, or aesthetic appeal.

And even small changes that make your home more energy efficient can lower your energy bills and could pay for themselves while you still live in the house (and boost resale value as well).

Just remember: much of the resale value of your home will be determined by its location.

Work with a local mortgage specialist

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