Category Archives: Home Maintenance

Loans for Home Renovation: Do or Don’t?

Hammer on Stack of MoneyMany homeowners that need to complete a home renovation debate taking out a loan or using their savings to cover renovation expenses. Two popular options for those not wanting to tap into their savings are a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

What’s the difference? A home equity loan is similar to a mortgage in that you are given a specific amount that you must repay over time in fixed monthly payments. A HELOC is a line of credit that you can use when needed as long as you don’t exceed the credit limit. There are monthly payments with a HELOC, but you may be able to make interest-only payments for a period of time.

A home equity loan or HELOC can be a good route for some people, but first you should ask yourself the following five questions that the finance experts at Equifax discuss in the recent article, “Paying for Home Renovations: Tapping Home Equity vs. Using Savings,” to find out if you are in a situation where taking out a home equity loan or a HELOC would be a smart financial move for you.

  1. How much debt do you already have?

If you already have a great deal of debt, especially debt that has a high interest rate, you should evaluate whether you can take on any additional debt at this time.

  1. How much equity do you have in your home?

If you have less than 20 percent equity in your home, it might not be a great idea to borrow against it for three reasons. First, if you are paying private mortgage insurance, it is good to eliminate that payment first. Second, many lenders want you to have some stake in your home and will not let you borrow if you have less than 20 percent equity in your home. Third, you could potentially lose a significant amount of money if you put yourself in a financially unstable situation and your home value drops.

  1. How much are you thinking about borrowing?

Getting a home equity loan is similar to getting a mortgage and involves similar start-up costs such as an appraisal, an application fee and closing costs. Be prepared to pay these costs and also be aware that home equity loans can carry adjustable rates and your monthly payments could go up over time.

  1. How much cash do you have?

If you don’t have enough in savings and do have a significant amount of equity in your home, a loan or HELOC would be a good option for you, especially since interest rates are so low right now. If you have a lot of cash in savings, it is probably not worth borrowing money that you will have to pay back with interest, unless the home renovation would eat up all of your savings and leave you with no emergency funds.

  1. How long do you plan to stay in the house?

Keep in mind, if you are doing a home renovation with the intent of selling before you have a chance to pay off the loan, you should consider having another means of paying off the loan. This is because when you choose to tap into your home equity, you are using your home as collateral, and if you sell your home, that collateral disappears.

In the end, whether you decide to use savings or borrow money with an equity loan or HELOC for your home renovation, keep your return on investment in mind and make sure the investment is worthwhile.

For more tips, visit the Equifax Personal Finance blog.



Five Reasons You Might Need to Upgrade Your Insurance

Homeowners insurance protects your upgradesOutdoor living spaces have been a hot home design trend for the past few years. If you have been one of the many who recently added an outdoor living space, like an expanded deck or porch with seating, outdoor fireplace or kitchen, gazebo, pool, hot tub, etc., it may be time to check your homeowners insurance policy to ensure that those spaces are covered.

A recent article on the Equifax Finance Blog, “

5 Reasons to Update Your Homeowners Insurance This Summer,” gives five situations in which you might need to re-evaluate your policy.

  • If you recently made an outdoor improvement (these spaces may or may not be protected in your existing policy)
  • If your outdoor property is in poor condition (ex: an old wooden deck with deteriorating planks)
  • If you need different coverage (like bodily injury protection)
  • If you need more coverage (like the kind you can get with an umbrella policy added onto your existing property)
  • It’s been a while since you reviewed your policy (you may be eligible for savings or discounts)

Get more insurance tips and advice at the Equifax Finance blog, as well as tips on other finance topics like retirement, taxes,

credit ratings, identity protection and more.

Disaster Insurance 101

Disaster Insurance 1The recent devastation caused by tornadoes in Oklahoma may have you thinking about what you should do to protect your belongings. In terms of insurance, the experts say that the most important thing you can do is accurately and thoroughly document your possessions, and the best way to do this is through taking photos and keeping receipts. An article on the Equifax Finance blog, “

Natural Disaster Insurance Claims: What To Do When A Natural Disaster Strikes” provides some helpful tips for how to prepare now for if you were to ever fall victim to a natural disaster.

  • Where you live will dictate the types of insurance you might need. Here’s a rundown:
    • Homeowner’s Insurance – required by lenders, it usually protects against wind and fire, but not against flooding
    • Commercial property insurance – protects your business or office space if it is damaged in a man-made or natural disaster
    • Flood insurance – flood zones change over the years, so you may believe that your home is not at risk, but it may be
    • Earthquake insurance – if you live in an area that is very near a fault line, this may be worth buying
  • Take an inventory of your home and belongings with photos and videos. Take photos of anything of value and then do sweeping video shots of your rooms, being sure to include furniture, artwork, etc.
  • Keep receipts of major purchases (like furniture, artwork, appliances, electronics, etc.). Keep receipts in a waterproof filing cabinet or even better, scan receipts into your computer and save them on a portable storage device.
  • Keep a list of your insurance policy numbers and contact information for your insurance company. Keep this list in a locked box near an exit in your home, in case you need to evacuate in a rush, you can grab it quickly and go.
  • Make your home as watertight as possible with storm-proofed roof, gutters, doors, window and basement.
  • Keep a first-aid kit easily accessible in your home.

Check out the Equifax Finance blog for more tips on insurance, credit reports, taxes,

identity theft information and more.

Avoid a Design Crisis After Your Foreclosure Purchase

Carolina real estate design

You just bought your first Carolina real estate foreclosure property, now what? Chances are you have a million thoughts running through your mind about all of the updates your new home needs. Don’t panic! By creating a design plan, you can effectively turn your home from shabby to shiny!

The first step is to make a list of things that clearly need some work. Next, make a design board. Gather inspiration and pictures from a variety of courses and paste them onto your board. You can get a sold vision of your home by thinking about your choices for cabinets, countertops, lighting, flooring,  trim, paint, appliances and more. Good sources of inspiration include new home construction models, the internet, magazines and more. Model homes are especially useful because all the design research has been done for you, and oftentimes the design trends used are ahead of the curve. You can also turn to larger companies such as PPG Porter Paints for ideas. They have color consultants around the world working to draw trends together for a global, well-rounded look.

Once your list and design board are complete, it’s time to get to work. Consider what items are most important and what can wait? That hideous bathroom may be unbearable, but the flooring throughout your main living areas are seen by more people.

Having a design board and a list will not only help you prioritize, but also stay on track. Even though you probably can’t afford to do everything all at one time, you’ll be able to rely on your research to complete your transformation seamlessly over a period of time.

Tessa Jones is a South Zone Color Consultant with PPG Porter Paints

Sneak Peek: New Design Trends from PPG Porter Paints

Carolina real estate design trends

Carolina real estate design trends

PPG Porter Paints is rolling out five new trends this fall, and Carolina real estate homeowners can be some of the first to take a sneak peek at what we’ve got planned.

The first trend, “Everyday Hero,” encompasses much more than just color!

It is all about building a life with values and balance. You can achieve peace and serenity through more than just actions, your living and working environments can have a huge impact on your sanity!

Everyday Hero focuses on a laid back, easy spirit achieved through simple spaces and durable objects. A few well-made items are better than an overload of junk!

Beauty can be found in natural items such as wood grains, planters for herbs and natural fibers, and versatility is key. Transform your coffee table into so much more by using a table that converts to seating and storage! There is no need for a storage bin and a coffee table.

Color wise, think earthy hues rich in color such as corn yellow, olive green and terra cotta. These colors along with denim blues and warm grays will provide plenty of color, while keeping to the neutral and soothing concept of “Everyday Hero.”

For more information on all of the latest design trends, visit the PPG Porter Paints website.

Tessa Jones is a South Zone Color Consultant with PPG Porter Paints