Home values are rising again, foreclosures are at lowest levels since 2006, and home sales have increased at double digit rates, according to the White House fact sheet on housing released August 5th. *
The net effect of all this good news? You may be surprised to find new equity in your home property.
“The heightened housing demand in late Spring really tightened the available supply of homes. This has also pushed a rapid home price increase in some markets in Oregon, said Russ Bernardo, Northwest Community Credit Union Real Estate Lending Manager.
Timing Ripe for Construction, Lending
If you’ve been careful to manage finances closely during the recession period, now could be the time to capture that value with a home equity loan, says Bernardo.
“It’s truly a confluence of factors,” said Mark Richardson, owner /contractor for Heritage Construction in Eugene, Oregon.
Richardson has operated his own construction business in the Willamette Valley since 1996. He sees the recent shifts in federal mortgage programs and renewed consumer optimism on the heels of a slowly recovering construction climate as a potential windfall for the person who can seize the moment.
“Current conditions in the housing construction industry and the lending industry are intersecting to give people an unique opportunity to change things right where they live, to better suit how they actually want to live,” said Richardson. “It’s a chance to create your own lifestyle upgrade.”
The Pleasure Principle
Richardson suggests that the best way to evaluate whether a home remodel project is right for your circumstance is to think about where you actually spend the most time while at your residence.
“From personal and professional experience, people really enjoy the projects that enhance the parts of the house they’re already spending time in…I see those opportunities for a ‘quality time’ improvement project chiefly in three places: the master suite, kitchen, and outdoor living space…entertainment spaces don’t usually require as much reshaping as they are more a matter of adding furnishings, electronics, stereo, or home theater equipment,” said Richardson.
Busy working professionals and families also should consider creating a better quality experience in areas related to the morning routine, heavy traffic patterns, or daily hours spent cooking, cleaning, or feeding a growing family.
“A new master bathroom is a nicer start to your whole day. If you’re changing things to create better flow, more organization, and less stress—you can realize a surprise pleasure even with an improvement that people might tend to think of as a purely practical step.”
Kitchens are similar, says Richardson, who at one point took a galley kitchen and added on to the back of his own house to give his wife more creative space.
“She would spend all weekend in the kitchen, happily baking and creating. The enjoyment those changes generated really wasn't quantifiable but was clearly worth every penny,” said Richardson.
“When people look at a remodel purely as an investment, sometimes they fixate on the need to show some kind of a return on their dollar. But it’s just as important to be experiencing a pleasant return on the amount of time we spend in our personal space.
“When you think about it, the quality of our lives is priceless. Who wouldn’t want to take steps to improve it?”
>>Prequalify for a home equity loan online
* See A Better Bargain for the Middle Class, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House.