Westview Open House in a larger map
The Federal Housing Administration is encouraging use of its little-known 203(k) loan program.
The 203(k) lets an owner-occupant borrow money for both the purchase and renovation in one loan, and put down only 3.5 percent.
The program requires the use of credentialed contractors and can include cosmetic improvements as well as major renovations like replacing plumbing or electrical. Completing the application process requires patience, says Nancy Hammock, an associate with RE/MAX Properties in Western Springs, Ill.
But in this lending environment, more homebuyers are finding 203(k)s worth the hassle. In fiscal 2008, the government insured about 6,700 of the 203(k) loans. This year, more than 11,000 loans have already been insured, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Source: Chicago Tribune, Mary Ellen Podmolik
Homes Features that are Big Buyer Turnoffs
Old homes can be quaint, but there’s a difference between old and outdated. Unless home owners periodically invest in upgrades, their homes will fall so far below the standards of current buyers that they become obsolete and hard to sell.
What’s obsolete? Here’s a list of relics, many of them courtesy of Nick Kuhn, an associate with McEnearney Associates in Washington DC.
- A house with only one bathroom. Even a house with one full bath and a toilet/sink powder room is going to turn buyers off.
- A house without air conditioning.
- Electrical systems protected by a fuse box instead of a circuit breaker.
- Spiral staircases. They’re relatively rare, and for good reason — they are unsafe.
- Basements with only an outside entrance. Homeowners expect convenient access to that valuable space.
- Ceilings that look like they’ve been stuccoed, dropped ceilings with fluorescent lights, and dark beams cutting across the ceiling.
- The split-level floor plan. Want to go from kitchen to family room? Go down half a flight of stairs. From living room to bedroom? Up half a flight. Most folks would rather not.
Source: The Washington Post, Elizabeth Razzi (12/02/07)