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Home Improvement

posted on 22 June 2007

Home Improvement 101

(ARA) – You made some smart decisions about the housing market and now you’re sitting pretty in a house with some equity. Or, maybe you’ve been in your home for a while and the house has equity but is short on modern style and convenience. It may be time to tackle a home project that will improve both resale value and your enjoyment of the house for as long as you live there.

But how do you decide where to put your money? What home improvements will provide the biggest returns in terms of value and comfort? And how should you pay for the improvements? Here are some basic tips for deciding how to spend your home improvement dollars:

* “For most people, their home is their single biggest investment. Protect and grow that investment by selecting improvements that will increase the home’s resale value,” suggests Matt Wells, a senior vice president for Kitchen and bath remodels consistently yield high cash returns at resale time. Also, any improvements you make in these rooms will elevate their comfort and convenience for your entire family. In general, real estate experts agree that kitchens and baths are at the top of the list of good home improvement investments.

Homes For Sale

Every weekend, especially around the summer, many owners put up their house for sale near your area. You can visit these homes when they are open for viewing. You can dash straight into the kitchen and take notes of the layouts or floor plans you like. This is a chance to see what other people's kitchens look like. Be sure to look at such things as cabinetry, proximity of the stove, sink and refrigerator, countertops and flooring. You should be able to get a feel of what your neighborhood has by visiting several of these open homes. Naturally, the quality will vary in each home you visit, but you will get a firsthand look that will help you find the features or the styles most appealing to you.

Drop By Showrooms

You can visit home improvement retailers who have set up complete kitchens in their showrooms.
They have arranged them to include cabinets, appliances, sinks, stoves, refrigerators, tables and chairs to help you get a feel of how a new kitchen will "almost" look like in your own home.

* Do your homework on financing options.
A poor financing choice could mean you’ll be paying high interest on your home improvement long after the last workman has left your house. Consider a cash-out refinance which

allows you to refinance your mortgage for more than you currently owe, leaving cash on the table for you to put towards your improvements.

 The interest rate on a cash-out refinance is usually lower than what you would get from a credit card. Just remember to be responsible, you don’t want to take out so much cash that you put your home at risk. Also, remember to check with your tax advisor because the interest is likely to be tax deductible. Web sites like can help you get competitive refinancing quotes.

Even if you don’t need to pull cash out, a refinance might still be a wise move. “Interest rates are still near their lowest point in nearly 40 years,” Wells notes. “Homeowners who bought their houses a few years ago may be in a good position to refinance at a lower rate and free up more cash each month to put towards improving their investment and their lifestyle.”

To shop for competitive refinancing options, visit (ARA)

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