RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Top 10 Ways to Prep for a Remodel

June 16, 2015 1:45 am

Proper planning is essential before beginning a remodel, and may be the most critical step in the process, says the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). To prepare for the project, NARI shares the top 10 steps you should take before breaking ground on your next remodel.

1. Research your project. Taking time to research projects will provide a good sense of what is involved such as price, scope of work, return on investment and new product and material options. It is also a good idea to research property values in your neighborhood to make sure your project is in line with other homes in the area.

2. Plan project around the long-term.
How long do you plan to stay in your home? How might your family structure change over time? Life can change quickly, so these questions should be answered early on to ensure your project will fit your lifestyle long after it is complete.

3. Set your budget. Deciding on a realistic budget and arranging finances to support your project are essential. This number needs to include everything: the project, products, contingencies, etc. Don’t be afraid to share this with your remodeler; professionals are respectful of a client’s budget and will create a plan around it, not over it.

4. Use advanced search for professionals. The online world makes it easy to gather information about strangers. Ask friends, family and neighbors for referrals and then spend time researching that person online. Professional remodelers take their reputation seriously and hold credentials beyond licensing, such as certifications, memberships in trade associations and additional training. Look for examples of press coverage or involvement in industry presentations or events. Check online reviews and social media to see how they interact with past clients and peers.

5. Ask the right questions.
Time and cost are important, but getting the right information requires the right questions. Ask your professional remodeler about his or her educational background, training, specialties or past issues with clients. Ask about how the remodeling process will work.

6. Verify your remodeler.
Don’t take their word for it. Check the information given to you such as references, license numbers, insurance information and certifications by calling providers to verify. Request a visit to an active client’s jobsite. Make it known that you are checking on him; a true professional considers that as a positive sign to working with a homeowner.

7. Review contracts word-by-word. A remodeling contract protects you and your remodeler. Homeowners should review this carefully. Professional remodelers have done this before, and know what should go in a contract. Homeowners are not as familiar with remodeling and should ask about terms if they don’t understand. Pay attention to details about change orders, payment, additional fees, timeline and responsibilities. If it is not in the contract, it doesn’t exist.

8. Keep design in mind. Your design guides the entire project. Think about what you dislike about your current space and the intended use of the new space. Use Websites such as Pinterest.com and Houzz.com to gather design ideas. Make sure you can articulate specifically what you like about that design when talking to your designer. Professionals don’t recreate a photo – they incorporate accessibility, functionality, ease of modification, style and value into your design.

9. Make your selections. Deciding on products and materials is a larger process than most imagine. With so many options to choose from, product selections are one of the primary reasons for project timelines to get extended. Base decisions on quality, function, price, style and availability. Include selections in the contract to lock down pricing and keep your budget intact.

10. Create a communication plan. A common downfall in remodeling is lack of communication between homeowners and remodelers. Your remodeler should lay out a communication plan at the beginning of the project. If not, ask them to do so. This plan should clarify roles of everyone involved, communication methods, availability, and frequency of communication that is expected.

Source: NARI

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Don't Be Misled by Reverse Mortgage Ad Claims

June 16, 2015 1:45 am

Reverse mortgage advertisements are a dime a dozen, but that does not mean consumers are any less susceptible to false ad claims, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In fact, many reverse mortgage ads do not tell the full story.

“As older consumers consider reverse mortgage loans to tap into their home equity, they need to be careful of those late night TV ads that seem too good to be true,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “It is important that advertisements do not downplay the terms and risks of reverse mortgages or confuse prospective borrowers.”

A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that allows older homeowners to access the equity they have built up in their homes and defer payment of the loan until they pass away, sell, or move out. The loan proceeds are generally provided to the borrowers as lump-sum payments, monthly payments, or as lines of credit. Most reverse mortgages today are federally insured through the Federal Housing Authority’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program, which carry some regulatory requirements.

While advertisements frequently do not describe all the details of the particular product or service being sold, the incompleteness of reverse mortgage ads raises heightened concerns because reverse mortgages are complicated and often expensive loans intended for older, and frequently vulnerable, homeowners. According to the CFPB, the ads are characterized by:

Ambiguity that reverse mortgages are loans: Some consumers find it difficult to understand from the ads that reverse mortgages are loans with fees and compounding interest, and that the loans need to be repaid. Most ads either do not include interest rates or included interest rates in fine print. Other consumers thought that because the money they received through a reverse mortgage represented home equity they had accrued over time, there was no reason they would have to pay it back.

False impressions about government affiliation:
The advertisements leave some older homeowners with the false impression that reverse mortgages are a risk-free government benefit, and not a loan. Consumers often misinterpret the role of the federal government in the reverse mortgage market as providing consumer protections that are not actually offered.

Celebrity endorsements that imply reliability and trust: Many ads feature celebrity spokespeople discussing the benefits of reverse mortgages without mentioning the risks. Most consumers believe TV ads that feature spokespeople are portrayed as reliable and trustworthy.

False impressions about financial security and staying in the home for the rest of the consumer’s life: Many ads imply financial security for the rest of a consumer’s life. A reverse mortgage does not guarantee financial security no matter how long a consumer lives. A consumer can tap into their equity too early and run out of funds to draw on. In addition, borrowers with a reverse mortgage are still responsible for paying property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and property maintenance. Failing to meet these requirements can trigger a loan default that results in foreclosure. Most advertisements fail to mention such requirements.

Incomplete or inaccurate statements made in advertisements about reverse mortgages can pose serious risks to older Americans. Without more balanced information, consumers may not make the right financial choice and jeopardize their retirement security. This means they could run out of money for their day-to-day expenses or even lose their homes.

When viewing these ads, the CFPB says to keep in mind a reverse mortgage is a home loan, not a government benefit, reverse mortgage ads don’t always tell the whole story, and without a good plan, a consumer could outlive the loan money.

Source: CFPB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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