10 Tips for Navigating Home Improvements

When moving looks iffy, renovation makes sense.

When housing inventory is low, trade-up buyers can feel stuck, unwilling to compromise by choosing among slim pickings.

After a few indifferent showings, these folks often look closer to home—in fact, they might look right at their own home. Why not just stay put and remodel?

Home improvements are enticing in a seller’s market, giving homeowners a way to get just what they want without the hassle of moving into a place that’s not quite satisfactory. If you’ve concluded that you’re better off making it right instead of making a move, here are 10 points to bear in mind.

Renovate for you, not your net worth. When embarking on a home improvement, make decisions that will make you happy—but don’t expect them to make you a bundle when you sell. On average, according to Remodeling magazine, homeowners can expect to recoup just two-thirds of every dollar spent on improvements.

Think curb appeal. Improvements to the exterior of your house tend to pay back better than interior upgrades. Replacing the front door, garage door, siding and windows are all worthy investments. Pay attention to the entrance. First impressions are lasting impressions, so enhancing the entrance can make a big difference in how prospective buyers perceive your home.

Think small. The less you spend, the better your payback. Simple jobs like new paint or carpeting deliver better return for the buck than major remodels.

Think kitchen. If you must go big, look to the kitchen. Kitchen facelifts offer a better return than bathroom overhauls or room additions, likely because it’s where today’s families spend much of their time. Besides, a kitchen is an easy place to upgrade rather than redo. New appliances, counters and light fixtures can make a big impact without gutting the room and costing a bundle.

Tap your home equity. When considering how to pay for home improvements, look first to your home equity. Tapping your equity makes sense because interest is generally tax deductible. With a home equity loan, you borrow a lump sum and pay it back over a number of years. With a home equity line of credit, you draw money as you need it by simply writing checks, paying interest only on what you borrow, not the entire credit line. Refinancing your principal mortgage is a third option, one that consolidates your home loans into a single payment. Fidelity Bank has many refinance and renovation options. Contact a Fidelity Bank mortgage pro to determine your best strategy.

Check references. Don’t be shy about calling references provided by the remodeler you’re considering. After all, you’re not just hiring a run-of-the-mill service provider; this is someone who will be in your home for days. Even better, try to visit a current job site. Ask if the homeowner is satisfied and inspect the work area to see if it’s orderly.

Make decisions early. Be prepared to make tons of decisions—from colors to light fixtures to doorknobs. Just try to make them before the first hammer blow. Making selections early can prevent delays and help keep you on budget.

Put a check on changes. Of course, you’ll change your mind about some things. You want to get it right. But be aware that every change has the potential to delay your job and add to your costs. If you must change your mind, do so judiciously. Make sure it really matters.

Budget for contingencies. Since changes are not only inevitable, but often costly, there’s a good chance you’ll surpass your initial budget. Set aside at least 10 percent for contingencies and you’ll be less alarmed when the budget balloons a bit.

Count to 10. Sure, remodeling is exciting. It’s also stressful as you negotiate the inevitable snags and hiccups. Everything won’t go perfectly. Expect problems to come up, and you’ll handle them better when they do.

Need ideas? Check out Houzz.com or the Houzz app. You’ll find millions of images to spur your imagination—and just maybe launch a process that makes you fall in love with your house all over again.

Is LifeDesign at Fidelity Bank right for you?

Contact a mortgage pro or apply online today. With Fidelity Bank, home is where the smart is.