This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Better Fix Up the Place Before You Refinance

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Thinking about refinancing? Before you do, put some time and effort -- and some money too -- into sprucing up.

For anyone selling a home, sprucing up is a no-brainer. Repairs, upgrades, painting and landscaping can raise the sales price. But homeowners who are staying put and refinancing often don't bother with these improvements. If you're not looking for a buyer and have years to get around to these things, why bother?

Because the home's condition will be reflected in the lender's appraisal, which will determine whether you get the new mortgage and how large it can be.

Appraisals start with an analysis of comparable sales data -- the prices of nearby homes that have sold recently. Homes that have merely been refinanced are not included. Because most home sellers do spruce up, the comparable prices likely reflect homes in good to excellent condition.

In the second step, the appraiser makes adjustments for differences between the home and what he or she believes to be the standard among the comparables. So if you have a kitchen from the '70s and the recently sold homes were more up to date, your appraised value will suffer.

After all, the point of the appraisal is to make sure the home is valuable enough to serve as collateral on the loan. The homeowner may perceive the "value" as including all those nagging improvement plans as if they'd be done, as they surely would be before a sale. But the lender wants to know what the home would fetch as is, in case it had to be unloaded after a foreclosure. A homeowner with enough financial troubles to land in foreclosure is unlikely to spend big money on repairs and improvements.

The risk of a low appraisal is especially serious for the homeowner who wants to replace an older mortgage, because the new loan typically must be large enough to pay off the old one. Despite rising home prices in the past couple of years, many homes are still worth less than their owners paid for them seven or eight years ago. In those cases, homeowners need to squeeze every dollar they can out of the appraisal. At a minimum, a rejected application will cost hundreds of dollars on appraisal fees and other upfront charges.

Homeowners looking for a "cash-out refinancing" have more flexibility, because they can choose to borrow less. Typically, they own the home free of a mortgage or have an older mortgage with a balance well below the home's current value. For them, a low appraisal will not prevent the new financing but will limit the cash they can take out of the home.

Whatever your reason for refinancing, the first step is a little research into recent sales prices in the neighborhood using sites such as Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Zillow.com. Because prices have been changing rapidly, try to find sales from the past six months or less.

Then take a realistic look at your home's shortcomings and decide which ones to tackle. Unfortunately, many improvements fail to add as much value as they cost, so it probably would not pay to install a whole new kitchen just to get a higher appraisal. Look at this list from Remodeling Magazine for guidance.

Tidying up, painting, trimming the shrubs and other low-cost jobs are definitely worth doing. And looking at your home from a buyer's perspective can help you see it from an appraiser's.

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AAPL $130.28 0.00%
FB $79.19 0.00%
GOOG $532.11 0.00%
TSLA $250.80 0.00%
YHOO $42.94 0.00%

Markets

DOW 18,010.68 -115.44 -0.64%
S&P 500 2,107.39 -13.40 -0.63%
NASDAQ 5,070.0260 -27.95 -0.55%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs