5 Low cost upgrades, with potential High returns

When putting your house on the market, it is vital to have it shown in its best possible light. The key however, is figuring out how to achieve this without breaking the bank. Consumer Reports provides the following agenda, for finding that perfect balance.

  1. Freshen up the bath: $300-$1,000
  2. Paint the rooms- selectively: $100 (DIY)-$1,000 (Pro)
  3. Clean up, clear out; smells and clutter: $0 (DIY)-$2,500 (Pro)
  4. Enhance the exterior: $150-$7,500
  5. Spruce up the kitchen: $300-$5,000


For complete descriptions on each, as well as potential returns, check out the following link from Consumer Reports here.

Quit Paying your Landlords Mortgage!

There are some people who delay their transition in to eventual home-ownership, because they feel uncomfortable taking on the obligation of having a mortgage. However it is important to realize that whether you own or rent a home, you are paying someones mortgage. As the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.  

That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Debunking Myths about Mortgage Availability

A recent survey shows that nearly 45% of people polled believe that they need at least a credit score of 780 in order to qualify for a mortgage to buy a home. However, according to American Enterprise Institute’s International Center on Housing Risk, this perception is not the reality of the situation.

From Keeping Current Matters:

  • 70% of first-time buyer mortgages had a combined loan-to-value ratio of 95% or higher
  • About 20% of first-time buyers taking out mortgages had a FICO score below 660
  • 25% had total debt-to-income ratios above 43 percent
  • The median first-time buyer with an agency mortgage made a down payment of only 3 percent, or $7200 in dollar terms.
  • The median FICO score for first-time buyers with agency mortgages was 705
  • For first-time buyers with FHA-insured loans, the median FICO score was only 672

These numbers contradict the frequent claims that first-time buyers face difficulties in obtaining mortgages.

Bottom Line

Stephen Oliner, co-director of AEI’s International Center on Housing Risk explained the reality of the situation.

“One hears all the time that first-time buyers have limited access to mortgage debt.  But this isn’t true. Many first-time buyers with low FICO scores and little money down are buying homes every month.”