What to think about for your next home improvements
There’s no doubt about it – us Brits are a population of home improvers, and no recession or financial crisis will slow us down. We may be moving home more often than we used to, but it also makes sense that in a housing market which is generally overheated that we make the best of what we have. Aside from improving family life, the economic rewards of home improvements will very much be there if or when you consider selling up one day.
Interestingly, just under a third of homeowners in this country have undertaken home improvements or built an extension of some kind in the last five years. Fitting new kitchens remains the most popular, although modernising bathrooms is a close second.
Of course, in many cases the biggest reason for improving our homes is pride, and the desire to make a more comfortable and enjoyable living space. It isn’t always primarily about money, or improving our asset value. However, the reality is that not everyone who has a mortgage has the cash lying around to cover the cost of such projects, so the fact that it is an investment that bears financial fruit in the long run makes justifying finance a whole lot easier.
The best ways to pay for home improvements
Cash or savings is obviously one option, and if you do have enough to pay for your home improvements without going down the route of debt, it makes sense to do so – especially when you consider how dreadful the rates of interest on savings are.
The converse of that is that low interest rates mean that borrowing isn’t really the scary dragon it might have been in years gone by, and interest rates mean it’s actually a pretty cheap and cost-effective choice. Undoubtedly, the cheapest and most popular option in terms of borrowing is releasing funds by increasing the mortgage.
Remortgaging has been popular partly as it offers the best possible way of locking yourself into the absolute best rate out there, and thus cut repayments. But there’s also been a bit of a clamour to do it because, as house prices rise, people are able to cash in on the actual equity of their home, and the position of strength which that puts them in.
Are there other options?
The big down side to the remortgaging option is that it is time consuming, involves plenty of paperwork, and typically takes 1-2 months to finalise. The other option therefore is a home improvement loan. Unsecured loans are generally available pretty cheaply, although rates aren’t typically quite as low as mortgages. But unsecured loans have plenty of virtues of their own when compared with secured loans too – not least of all in terms of convenience, and being able to access the funds in a matter of days. So it’s no surprise then that many people deem the marginal extra cost in interest a small price to pay for the quicker and easier option.
Your own choice
Everyone’s personal situation is different, but very few of us look around our homes day in, day out without yearning for the enhancements our trained eyes can see. Some may be pipe-dreams, or nice-to-haves. But many others are also realistic, within a reasonable budget, and which would quickly have their ‘face washed’ as a result of their added value.
The important thing before going ahead is to do your research, and be absolutely sure that all bases are covered in terms of insurance, planning permission etc, and then exploring a way of financing the exercise in a way that you’re completely comfortable. Once that’s all in place, you’re probably well on your way to truly making your house into a home, and your home into a palace!
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