To Renovate or Not: These Are the Questions

renovation – apartment during restoration

Whether you’ve lived in your house for 20 years or you’ve just purchased it, odds are, there’s something about it that you don’t love. Even homeowners who customized a build have regrets about their design choices. So…renovate or not? Consider it carefully.


Do I have the stomach for it?


As much as we love our starry-eyed TV-world visions of what it would be like to have design/contracting geniuses come to our house for a few weeks, the in-the-trenches experience of a house renovation are a bit different. Living out of suitcases in the in-laws’ spare bedrooms and adding a half hour to the daily commute. Drywall dust that seeped inside the cabinets and coated the pots and pans. The month long delay when the windows were the wrong size for the cutouts. They usually don’t show those parts.


It could be totally worth it. But we’re just saying. 


Do I know how to resolve my design angst?


Unless you have a background in design or a natural talent for reimagining a space, you probably don’t know many options for getting the design you want. A cramped bathroom may require building on. But what if it doesn’t? Someone with the knack for design may be able to look at your problem from a new lens.. Maybe that huge guest bedroom could donate space to your bathroom. Aching for a second living room? What if you could transform your garage and and build on an attractive carport for vehicle storage?


The point is–look in the magazines, visit websites like HouzzHGTV, and Freshome (bathroom remodels, kitchen design), and spend some time talking with professionals to explore your options and get a feel for what the process would look like (including potential costs) in every scenario. Due diligence pays off.


What renovations am I allowed to make on my home?


It’s your house. You pay a mortgage, so you should have full creative rights…right? Not always. Before you get blueprints drawn up, check with your local governing bodies, namely your HOA, if applicable, and your town/city/county. They may have strict guidelines regarding boundaries, sightlines, and a host of other details you never thought they’d care about. Get all those permits handled before the renovation is underway. And factor the fees into your total costs.


About cost: should I go full speed ahead or seek a budget-friendly alternative?


If you’ve done your homework, you have some tools for cost comparisons. Now you have to decide whether to go big or go home. Here’s some food for thought.


  • If you’re going big, but you don’t have the cash, you can check into a home improvement loan.
  • If loan interest rates are high, but you have a credit card with a low balance, that’s another option for funding your renovation.
  • Depending on your reasons for renovating, you may want a conversation with your home insurance carrier first to see if they’ll cover anything.
  • If you purchased your home with a VA Loan/ are eligible for a VA Loan, the VA offers home Renovation and Rehab loans.
  • Some renovations are a sound investment. Here are some of the stats on renovations most likely to be financially worth it.

Once you’ve decided you’re going through with the project and have a quote, contact your home insurance provider. Depending on who’s doing the work–you and your hammer-wielding buddies or a pro contractor–you may need to amend your policy during the remodel. While we don’t think of our friends or family as being willing to sue us, the reality is, if one of them gets seriously injured working on your home project, they may expect you to cover their medical bills. Making changes in insurance may allow their medical provider to bill your insurance directly instead of things getting awkward or downright ugly.


Your insurance also needs to know about the changes to your home, as it should increase your home’s value. If you finish your basement and two months later, you get a 500 year flood that destroys it, you’ll be looking to your insurance company to help out, but if you never told them about the remodel, it may not go your way. Take “before,” “during,” and “after” pictures of the space. Keep receipts from contractors and for materials purchased. All of that will help you in the end.It’s a big task, but a home you love…priceless. Well, sort of.


VA Loans Make Post-Recession Home Ownership Doable

If you were awake and well in the U.S. in 2008, chances are, you remember the phrases “housing bubble” and “great recession” with something darker than the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. While people who live outside the world of finance may never grasp how many fronts came together to amass that perfect storm, many of us at least know this: a bunch of people, many of whom didn’t have solid credit rates, if any at all, were taking out loans to buy houses. Interest-only loans were a thing. The Adjustable Rate Mortgage (aka ARM, aka balloon) enticed people with rates that were seductively low in the beginning, but impossibly high once the honeymoon was over. People defaulted on loans and things got bad. Examples were made, lessons learned, resulting in, for better or for worse, tighter restrictions and higher bars for those seeking to secure a home loan nowadays.

Scraping together the finances and establishing the credit history to build or purchase your very own home is not a task for the faint of heart. It is also a worthwhile task you should put on your, “Let’s do this,” list. Owning a home, building your equity and your credit rate…it’s all a part of the American Dream, right?

For individuals who served and sacrificed to help secure the existence of that ever-evolving and, let’s face it, sometimes elusive Dream, there are ways you can reach that home ownership (and even custom home building) goal earlier. A Veterans Affairs, or ​VA Loan​ is there—and has been since 1944—to make home ownership cost effective instead of cost prohibitive, ensuring that soldiers and their families aren’t financially penalized for a lack of credit history. If you served or have a spouse who served and are considering a home purchase, first things first: find out if you’re eligible for the loan.

You may be eligible for a VA Home Loan if you meet ​one or more​ of the following conditions:

● You have served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime

● You have served 181 days of active service during peacetime

● You have more than 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves

● You are the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability.

These are some of the most commonly met eligibility requirements, but if you haven’t met these, do not consider your options exhausted.

Conventional mortgage loans frequently require a 20% downpayment. If you qualify and apply for a VA Loan, your downpayment is significantly lower…somewhere in the ballpark of…oh…ZERO. Not even joking. Do the math; it’s tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds if you’re going big or if you live in an area with a higher cost of living. And the Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) that is added to the total cost of your conventional home loan? Your VA Loan is backed by the U.S. Government, so the extra cost of PMI isn’t even a factor. Combine that with lower interest rates, and the savings is truly a game-changer. Think college funds and cars—​that​ kind of savings.

Not every mortgage lender in the market is able and approved to offer the VA Home Loan or VA Construction Loan, but we’re honored at Security America to be a lender with an established and continuing tradition of providing that very service. Our VA Mortgage and Construction Loans can provide an inroad to home ownership without leaving you “house poor,” but before you step into any type of loan process, know that it is indeed just that—a ​process​.

Take a look at our VA Loan Guide to learn more about

● The history of the VA Loan

● Benefits of a VA Loan

● Conventional loan rates vs. VA loan rates

● Securing a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

● VA Loan Calculator

● VA Loan process

● All the other things

Acquiring a home is a milestone move. You should always be confident in your understanding of the bold AND fine print before signing any dotted lines. Sometimes talking with an actual, living person (yes, it can happen!) is the only way to feel secure in your knowledge. ​Give Security America a call​, and remember to stay informed about ​any and all of your benefits as a veteran or the family of a veteran.

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ~Maya Angelou

6 Real-Estate Perks That War Veterans Have in the US

A lot of US military veterans don’t understand the benefits that they have or simply don’t know about them. These benefits include many different things, from healthcare, education, job positions, to property or real-estate perks. In this post, we are going to talk about the perks and benefits veterans have in regards to real-estate. Most benefits are provided by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, and there are different organizations that work under their regulation, in an effort to provide these benefits legally and transparently. In this post, we will present you six property-related benefits that military veterans have the right to in the US. When it comes to property loans, most of them come in the form of loans, and they are called VA loans. Here are some of them you can consider and other benefits you might not know about.

#1. Veteran Home Admission

Veteran Home Admission
Aging veterans who need a place to stay can apply for Veteran’s Homes provided by IDVA. These homes offer a comfortable environment with professional care, where veterans can spend the rest of their twilight years with other seniors. Veterans who have been in wars have admission precedence for this type of accommodation. Additionally, even veterans who haven’t served in any wars can be accepted with benefits, veteran spouses, and surviving spouses. However, it’s also important that they meet other requirements.

#2. Mortgage Assistance

If a veteran has a mortgage on their name and they are unable to pay it, they have the right to ask for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It doesn’t matter if the person had the mortgage before they joined the service or they’ve taken the loan after, they still have the right to this help. There are several ways the Department of Veterans Affairs can help, including:
  • Various loan modification programs
  • Loan forbearance
  • Special repayment plans

#3. Homeless Veterans

VA loans
All homeless veterans in the United States have the right to many kinds of different benefits, ranging from free accommodations, property loans, and construction loans. Most of these benefits are state-based, meaning that all states offer different kinds of benefits and help. They also offer various programs like residential rehabilitation programs, homeless grant programs, per diem programs, and domiciliary residential rehabilitation programs. The only things required for these benefits is proof of service and that there was no dishonorable discharge condition. In some cases, even dishonorably discharged veterans have the right to benefits.

#4. VA Property Purchase Loans

Even though VA loans are given by private lenders, they are all backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is why these loans are some of the very few loan options that come with no required down payment. VA home loans also don’t have private mortgage insurance, meaning that they save the borrower hundreds of dollars each month. They also come at much better rates than conventional loans, further saving the borrower’s money. The lending policies are also more lenient, so even if you don’t qualify for conventional loans, you might be approved for VA loans. A VA loan application can be submitted online, via mail, or in person with an authorized lender.

#5. VA Construction Loans

VA Property Purchase Loans
If a military veteran needs a loan for building a property, they can get the funding that covers all the construction expenses. These loans also require no down payment and have better rates than regular construction loans that only civilians can get. They also cover the mortgage phase of the loan. It’s important to know that not all lenders will provide VA construction loans for all types of property types. This is different with each lender, and that’s why it’s important to ask them specifically.

#6. VA Renovation Loans

VA renovation loans are limited to smaller amounts, but this means that they also come with smaller interest rates. However, the applicant will only be allowed an essential renovation of their property. Simply put, if you want to furnish your home with expensive furniture, the loan might not be approved.

Wrap Up

These are some of the many benefits that military veterans across the US have. Bear in mind that many states have added unique benefits that they offer, so make sure that you learn what additional rights you have in your state.

5 Tips To Help You With The Purchase Of High-End Real Estate

Buying high-end real estate is nothing to be taken lightly. Whether you wish to find a dream house for you and your family or want to buy and then lease the home, you should consider everything carefully, do your research, and go slowly.

Finding the perfect luxury real estate is a bit more difficult than it might seem. Listings are often private, so you’re not very likely to stumble upon the right home online. You also need to consider your preferred location, whether you’ll need a jumbo loan, and you should always keep in mind the potential resale value.

So, let’s take a look at some tips that’ll make the whole process of purchasing high-end real estate a bit easier.

Find a Reliable Real Estate Agent

It’s crucial to find a real estate agent who has experience in the luxury real estate market. Primarily, this is because the luxury market is in a league of its own, and requires some insider knowledge.

You won’t be able to find listings for high-end real estate online or in the papers, as most of them are the so-called “pocket listings”. This means that the listings aren’t advertised to the general public, and the seller’s real estate agent shares that information only with trusted sources.

Your agent will know about properties outside online listings and will help point you in the right direction, showing you other similar properties in the same area, and telling you about any price adjustments, etc.

Get Your Financial Information in Order

Most sellers of high-end real estate will want to see proof that you can afford to buy the property. Some might not enter negotiations or even allow viewings without an indication of your financial situation. This way, they ensure they’re only dealing with serious buyers.

Although it might be uncomfortable sharing your financial situation with strangers, it will make buying luxury real estate easier.

It would be wise to have your current bank statement with you. You can black out your account number and address in the copy you provide to the seller, but make sure your name and the details of the financial institution are clearly visible.

In case you’re taking out a jumbo loan, make sure to get pre-approved. The process of taking out a loan for a luxury home is often longer, and since the sellers are interested only in qualified buyers, having a loan pre-approval can help you immensely.

Consider a Jumbo Loan

Not many people can pay for a luxury home in cash, so if you’ve set your sights on a home that’s over half a million, chances are you’ll need to get a jumbo loan.

Fortunately, jumbo loans have loosened up on the down payment requirements. When it comes to the jumbo VA loan, for example, veterans are required to make a down payment of 25% on any amount over $417,000.

Interest rates on jumbo VA loans are these days on par with conventional mortgages, and sometimes even lower. Just make sure to do your research on any tax breaks that apply on jumbo loans in your area.

Of course, to qualify for a jumbo loan, you’ll need to ensure your credit score is great, typically about 700 and above.

Take Your Time

While you do want to hurry up and get your financial information in order and get pre-approved for a jumbo VA loan, you should take your time to do your research and consider everything before closing the deal. Such huge purchases should never be snap decisions.

Make sure to look into any future building plans in the area, especially if one of the biggest perks of the home you’re interested in is the view. Look into the neighborhood, and consider the possible future resale value.

Luxury homes are exclusive, and there’s less competition, which means you have more time to research other similar properties and more time to negotiate the best deal.

Get Proper Home Inspection

If you’ve found a high-end real estate that you’re seriously considering to buy, make sure you get a proper home inspection.

It could prove to be a bit more costly, but if you avoid this, you’re risking buying a beautiful home with some serious problems that might end up costing you a lot more.

When selecting a home inspector, make sure they specialize in luxury homes, since they often have sophisticated electronic systems, and other amenities that might require great expertise.

Whether you have the cash to spare, or you need to rely on a jumbo VA loan to purchase high-end real estate, never take this decision lightly. Your new luxury home will probably serve you and your family for years to come, so take the time to research your options before you close the deal.

How to Get a Loan to Buy a House Without Putting Your Finance at Risk?

Buying a new house, especially for the first time, is as exciting as it is daunting. Finding the right home for you and your family is often just a small part of the whole process. However, most people have to think about their home loan as well.

Getting these loans takes a lot of careful consideration, calculation, and research, as it often carries some financial risks with it.

So, to ensure that your loan is as safe and as advantageous as possible, you should take a look at the following tips that’ll help you get your dream house in no time.

Get a Housing Loan or Home Loan Easily: Tips to Follow

1. Pay Attention to Your Credit Score

A credit score is one of the most important pieces of information that lenders require. While the number isn’t set in stone, and it’s known to change depending on many factors, a score of about 660 can help you qualify for a home loan.

With a bad credit score, the worst that could happen is that you won’t be approved for a loan. However, even if you do get approved, your interest rates would be higher.

So, it’s in your best interest to check your credit score before you apply for a loan, and take steps to improve the score if necessary.

2. Avoid Applying for New Credit

Now that you know how important good credit score is don’t ruin it in the middle of the process. Lenders will not only check your credit score when you apply for a home loan, but they will also often do so before closing the deal.

Cosigning someone else’s loan, getting credit for a new car, or purchasing home appliances with your credit card should be avoided at all costs. All of these will cause your score to initially drop, and this can be a red flag to most lenders.

As a rule, you should try to pay down debt before closing a deal. This way, your debt-to-income ratio will be lower, and you’ll be able to get a better mortgage rate.

3. Start Saving up

To get a home loan, you first need to be prepared to spend some money, since most lenders will ask for a down payment.

A down payment is a portion of the total price of the home that you give to the seller, and lenders often have varying criteria for it, and the amount depends on many factors, one of which is, of course, your credit score.

If possible, try to go for a higher down payment. The more money you spend out of your own pocket, the lower your loan rates will be.

You should also be ready to pay for the home inspection, closing costs, credit report fees, and others, so start saving up as soon as possible.

4. Decide on the Type of Loan Product

There are a few different loan products you can choose from, and you should decide which one works best for you. If you’ve served the military, for example, you could benefit from low VA loan rates, families in rural areas might opt for a USDA loan, etc.

Types of Loan Products:

So, let’s check out the most common types of loan product.

ALSO READ  How to start Investing your money? A Beginner’s Guide!
1. Adjustable Vs Fixed Rate

Adjustable rates are typically lower in the first few years, but afterwards, they’re “adjusted” once a year to correspond to the current interest rates. If the interest rates are lower, your monthly payments will be lower, and if they go up, so will your monthly payments. Loans with adjustable rates could be right for those with lower credit scores.

The fixed rate is the more common type. The rate won’t be changed at all during the life of the loan, and this is a better option for those who plan to stay in their new home as long as possible.

If you’re thinking about pre-paying your home loan with a fixed rate, it’s better to do it during the early stages of the loan so that you can save on interest rates.

2. Government Vs. Conventional

There are a few different types of government-insured home loans; the most common ones are FHA and VA loans.

FHA loans require a bit lower down payment, about 3.5%. They’re good for buyers who can’t afford a higher down payment, but they do require you to get mortgage insurance, and they’re limited and with fixed rates.

If you’ve served the US military, a VA loan can get you a nice home without mortgage insurance requirements, and without a down payment. VA loan rates are very low, typically going from 0.25% to 1%, but it’s a requirement that the home you buy is your primary residence.

Getting a Loan: The Bottom Line

Getting a loan seems like a big deal, but as long as you’ve done your research and know what to expect, there shouldn’t be any unpleasant surprises down the road.