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Purchasing, building or remodeling a home is an exciting time. The following articles provide information you can use to make informed decisions.

Winterize Your Home
As we prepare for another winter in Minnesota, it's important to  think about readying your home for the many cold days ahead.  Winterizing your home can help keep you and your family cozy  and warm while also saving you money!
Here are some easy DIY ways to prepare your home for the cold and snow of a Minnesota winter.

Green image of a home and the words Home Equity Loan

What is the Best Way to Use a Home Equity Loan?

With interest rates falling and home prices rising, it seems like a good time to use my home’s equity. What’s the best way to use these funds?
There are no restrictions on how to use the funds, so there are plenty of options. We've gathered the four most common uses for these funds.

More Articles

What to Look For When Buying New Appliances?

What Do I Need To Know About Buying A House In The Winter?

Getting Your Home Ready For Winter

Am I Ready to Buy a House?

Selling Your Home During COVID-19

Everything You Need to Know About Closing Costs

Looking for a New Home? Get Pre-qualified

Financing Home Renovation with Home Equity Loans

4 Home Improvement Projects with a High Long-Term Return

When Should I Put My House on the Market

Should I Buy a Home During a Pandemic


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Winterize Your Home

(October, 2021)
As we prepare for another winter in Minnesota, it’s important to think about readying your home for the many cold days ahead. Winterizing your home can help keep you and your family cozy and warm while also saving you money! Here are some easy DIY ways to prepare your home for the cold and snow of a Minnesota winter.

Clean Out Gutters

It’s not a fun job but it’s an important one. Before winter hits make sure to clean out your gutters. A clogged gutter can block water and cause it to freeze and potentially seep into your house. Make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from your house to protect the foundation.[1]

Seal it Up

Tiny gaps around windows and doorframes can get drafty in the winter months. Don’t let your heat slip through the cracks. You can seal up the gaps with caulk on the interior of your home or weather-resistant caulk on the exterior. If cold air is getting in under your door, consider an adhesive draft guard or weather stripping.[2]

Reverse Your Fans

Change your ceiling fans to spin in the opposite direction so they push warm air down and help it circulate. When looking up at a fan, it should be turning clockwise in the winter. Fans should run at a lower speed in winter to prevent any drafty wind chills. Depending on the fan, changing its direction might be as simple as sliding a switch on the main body of the ceiling fan or using a remote. Before changing the direction, make sure to turn it off first![3]

Wrap Up Pipes

To prevent exposed pipes from freezing, wrap them in pipe wrap tape or use foam pipe insulation.[4] You can even use towels and duct tape in a pinch. Make sure to disconnect your garden houses and consider shutting off the water supply for any pipes leading to exterior spigots and drain the water from those pipes.[5]  You can also protect outdoor faucets with a faucet cover.

Weatherization Assistance Program

If you are income-eligible homeowner or renter, consider taking advantage of the Weatherization Assistance Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. This program provides free home energy upgrades to keep homes healthy and safe while also saving energy. Some of the potential energy upgrades include air leakage reduction, insulation, furnace repair or replacement and more. You can check if you are eligible online.[6]

For more tips on winterizing your home, check out our article: Getting Your Home Ready for Winter.

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What is the Best Way to Use a Home Equity Loan?

(March, 2021)
Q: With interest rates falling and home prices rising, it seems like a good time to use my home’s equity. What’s the best way to use these funds?
Green image of a home and the words Home Equity Loan

A: A home equity loan, or HEL, can be an ideal way to source extra funds during a falling-rates environment. With interest rates as low as 4.00%APR* on a Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union Home Equity Loan, the repayment plan is affordable. If approved, the average time from approval to loan funding is 30 days. There are no restrictions on how to use these funds, but since you’re essentially risking your home with this loan, it’s important to choose wisely.


Here are four forward-thinking uses for a home equity loan:

1. Home improvements

One of the most popular uses for home equity loan is for home renovations and improvements. Using your home’s equity for such projects is a smart choice for many reasons. For one, the money you put into the renovations acts as an investment. If you choose improvements that increase the home’s value, you can make back the money you spend or even see a return when you sell your home. Also, if you use the funds from a home equity loan to increase your home’s value, you may be able to deduct the interest paid on the loan from your taxes (be sure to also consult with your tax adviser).

2. Debt consolidation

Another popular use for a home equity loan is to consolidate high-interest debt. Paying off multiple debts that have high interest rates can be cumbersome and difficult to manage. Worse, the heavy interest rates mean more of the borrower’s money goes toward the lender and less goes toward paying down principal. Using a home equity loan to consolidate debt to a single and no-interest or low-interest loan can slash a pile of debt by several thousands of dollars and help shorten repayment time by several years.

3. Post-Secondary Education

When interest rates are falling, funding a college education through a home equity loan instead of a high-interest student loan can be a smart choice to further yours or a family member’s education. Similarly, homeowners struggling to meet their student debt payments without defaulting on the loan might want to use their home’s equity to pay off the debt quickly and replace it with a more manageable low-interest loan.


4. Emergency fund

If you’ve been struggling to get an emergency fund going, tapping into your home’s equity can be a great way to get what you need. You’ll have a large stash of cash to build your fund, and the manageable payment plan will help ensure you put money into savings each month.

If you’re ready to take out a home equity loan, we can help. Our rates and terms are always competitive. Start an application online, give us a call or stop by Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union.

* APR = Annual Percentage Rate and is valid as of 2/17/2021.

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What to Look For When Buying New Appliances

(February, 2021)
There’s no getting away from the fact that our dependence on energy increases daily. With energy-dependent technology driving our lives, ecologists continue to search for ways to save our environment. Focusing on energy-efficient appliances is one way to do that.
Image of two small seedlings growing from the earth along with a light bulb and then two stacks of coins.

Your monthly electric bill may not itemize the specific usage of each appliance in your home, but, if you are interested in a breakdown, you can ask your local electric company for a listing. About 30% of the charges on your statement stem from your electrical appliances. That’s why the government, as well as the majority of appliance manufacturers, encourage consumers to replace standard devices with new energy-saving ones.

So, if your dishes aren’t coming out clean after a run in the dishwasher, or if the ring around your shirt collar has not disappeared after a hot laundry wash, you may be in the market for a new appliance.

There could be some good years left in that 10-year-old refrigerator or oven. But, generally speaking, prices for electrical appliances have come down across the board over the years. And once you consider the cost of a new part for your old appliance, plus the charge for the visit, it just might be worthwhile to chuck the old and buy new.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the new energy-efficient appliances save you money on a monthly basis because they use far less electricity. They also help the environment by cutting down on greenhouse gases emitted into the air.

What is Energy-Efficient?

So what does it really mean if an appliance is energy-efficient? In simple terms, it means the process used to make the appliance function — spin, clean, cool, heat, etc. is using less energy. This can be achieved in a number of ways, and manufacturers are always adapting new techniques, such as using renewable sources of energy like water or sunlight.

Now that you have decided that a modern and energy-efficient refrigerator is what you need, how can you be sure you’re choosing the best product at the most reasonable price?

Here are some tips to guide you in your search:

Determine the total cost: Since the purpose of your new purchase is to save on monthly energy costs, the first thing to consider is the operating costs.  That, along with the actual purchase price, should give you the real cost of the appliance.

Look for the energy rating: There are several reliable rating services that provide information about appliance energy consumption. The federal government uses the yellow and black Energy Star Standard sticker to inform consumers about operating costs and annual energy consumption. This helps buyers compare one clothes dryer to another. Energy Star tests each item independently.

Select the right size appliance: Running a large machine — even the most energy-efficient one — uses more electricity than a compact one, so don’t buy something bigger than what you need.

Look for economy choices: Many dishwashers and washing machines offer a variety of different cycles. If you find one with an economy cycle, that will save you money when you need to wash only a small load of clothes or dishes.

Stay Simple: When it comes to choosing a refrigerator, go easy on the add-ons. According to one independent rating service, a water dispenser or ice maker uses a lot of extra electricity. Also, top-to-bottom fridge/freezer models are more energy-efficient than side by sides. The auto-defrost feature uses heat to speed up defrosting and makes running the refrigerator less efficient. This holds true for self-cleaning ovens as well, so consider the value in this upgrade.

Contact your utility supplier for the latest ways to save on utility charges. With today’s smart devices, appliances can be programmed to use less energy at certain times of the day.

Check out your home. If you have the time and the extra cash, it may be worthwhile to call in a home assessor to help identify ways you can save on your overall energy and water costs.  He or she may be able to tell you how to use your appliances at the most energy-efficient times of day.

Comparison shop. Never buy the first model you see. Household appliances are not cheap, and to find the most energy efficient one at the best price, shop around. Well-known name brands are always more expensive than lesser-known companies. However, they don’t always offer a better product. If you check carefully, you may find that heating element in the name-brand laundry dryer is exactly the same as the one in a model selling for hundreds of dollars less. Compare the details. You might be surprised.

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What Do I Need To Know About Buying A House In The Winter?

(November, 2020)
Icy driveways can be less than thrilling, but there are surprising benefits to purchasing a home during the coldest time of year.

Image of small red wooden home surrounded by holiday greens, pine cones and holly berries.

The challenges

It can be difficult to check out a property that is covered in snow. There will also be some structural elements, like the septic tank, roof and A/C system that can be difficult or impossible to inspect.

Home-shopping during the winter also means working with fewer homes for sale. That’s because most sellers put their houses on the market in the spring, hoping to sell well before autumn.

The advantages

Homeowners who choose to list their properties for sale during winter may be quite eager to sell. You’ll also find homes that have been on the market since the previous spring with an equally motivated seller. Plus, the smaller pool of buyers during the winter puts you at an advantage. These factors will make it easier for you to negotiate a lower price and to ask for extras like light fixtures and appliances.

Buying a home in the winter can also mean enjoying better service from the professionals you work with during the process. Your real estate agent, home inspector and lender will have fewer clients and therefore be able to provide you with optimal service.

Finally, inspecting a home during harsh weather will enable you to see how the house handles the cold, snow and ice and to check out the heating system.

Tips and tricks

If you’ve decided to go house-hunting during the winter, keep these tips in mind:

Ask for photos showcasing the home’s exterior during the spring and summer months.

Ask for documentation, such as inspection receipts and purchase dates, for the home features that are difficult to check out because of the weather.

Next season’s sellers will start listing homes right after the Super Bowl. So, if you can’t find that perfect house just yet, hang tight until you find what you seek.

The real estate market may cool down during the winter, but if you know how to optimize the advantages, you can walk away with a hot deal during the coldest time of year.

If you're looking for a new home, contact or start an application with one our expert Home Loan Consultants. They are able to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. 

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Getting Your Home Ready for Winter

(November, 2020)
As Thanksgiving gets closer, many of us are getting ready for winter by pulling out winter clothes and putting a snow brush in our car. We’ve compiled the following ways you can get your home ready and give yourself peace of mind during the cold months.
Image of home wrapped in scarf and winter hat
  1. Clean leaves and debris out of eavestroughs, window wells, gutters and downspouts to keep water from pooling and freezing, causing more problems in the long run.
  2. Trim shrubs and trees to keep branches from breaking and blowing onto your house.
  3. Turn off outside water taps and bring in hoses. Water inside the hoses may freeze and expand causing damage.
  4. Clear your chimney of obstructions. Birds’ nests and any build up can cause smoke to back up or even be flammable and start a fire.
  5. Check your roof for looses or broken shingles or flashing, and patch if necessary.
  6. Redo caulking and weatherstripping around doors and windows, and fill any remaining gaps with insulation foam, to keep heat in. If you have drafty windows, an easy solution is to purchase plastic window insulation kits.
  7. Check attics, basements, windows and doors for air leaks. By finding and repairing these leaks, you may save on heating.
  8. Have your furnace checked by a professional. If you have a filter, make sure you change it.
  9. Change out batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Not having functioning detectors at any time throughout the year can be dangerous, but in the winter when furnaces are on the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases.
  10. Move flammable materials and electric appliances away from heating devices.
  11. Reverse any ceiling fans to a clockwise direction to push warm air down from the ceiling.
  12. Change outdoor lightbulbs and set automatic light timers for earlier hours of darkness.
  13. Test your downspouts, to make sure you have proper drainage from the roof.
  14. Make sure your shovel is handy, so that you don’t have to go looking for it when the snow comes.
  15. Start up your snowblower and if needed get it in for service.
  16. Put away any objects outside that need to be housed in a garage or house for the winter.

These are just a few common tips to get your home ready for winter. By doing these simple items, you should be ready for the cold winter months and prevent any damage to your home.

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Am I Ready to Buy a House?

(October, 2020)
Q: I’ve saved up for a down payment and drawn up a wish list of what I’m looking for in a new home, but I’m getting cold feet. How do I know if I’m really ready to buy a house?

A: It’s normal to feel hesitant about going through with what may be the biggest purchase of your life. To help put you at ease, we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask yourself before buying a new home.

Can I afford to buy a house?Buying a House? House with text of "Buying a House?"

Before viewing properties, remember that purchasing a home will cost more than just the down payment. You’ll also need to cover closing costs, which typically run at 2-4 percent of the total purchase, as well as moving costs and possibly new furniture and renovations for your new home.

Can I afford the monthly mortgage?

Most lending companies will grant a loan to a homebuyer if the monthly mortgage payments do not push the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio above the recommended 43 percent.  Work out the total for your pre-mortgage debt before applying for a loan so you have an idea of how much house you can afford.

Learn more on how to track your debt and spending to get an idea on your finances before you find out what you can afford.

Am I ready to settle down? 

Buyers who don’t plan on staying in their homes long-term may end up incurring a loss. Consider factors like your career, family planning and long-term housing needs when trying to answer this question.

Is my credit score high enough? 

Most lenders will only grant a mortgage to borrowers with a credit score of 620 or higher. If your score doesn’t make the cut, you can boost it by being super-careful about paying your bills on time, paying credit card bills in full each month and keeping credit utilization low.

Monitoring your credit score regularly can also protect against identity theft and fraud. Mid Minnesota has your financial well-being as our number one priority, so we are making it easy for you as we partner with SavvyMoney® so that you can monitor your credit score while using online and mobile banking.

Do I have a plan in place for repairs?

When a renter has a leaky faucet, they call the landlord and the problem becomes theirs. When a homeowner has a leaky faucet, it’s their own problem. They can either fix it or hire someone to do the job, but it’s a good idea to have a plan in place before the first thing in a new home needs fixing. If you’re handy enough to make repairs on your own, you’ll need to be willing to give up some free time to tend to such things. Otherwise, it’s best to have a tidy sum put away to pay for necessary repairs before purchasing a home.

If you’re ready to get started on your home loan application or have more questions, contact or start an application with one our Home Loan Consultants.

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Selling Your Home During COVID-19

(September, 2020)
For many homeowners, the hot real estate market of spring and summer of 2020 was going to be the season they put their homes up for sale — until the coronavirus hit.

The U.S. real estate market is looking very promising as national home sales climbed a record 20.7% in June, compared with home sales from June 2019.

However, many homeowners who have planned to sell this year are still reluctant to take that leap. Here’s what you need to know about selling your home during the COVID-19 crisis.

House with for sale sign on fenceAre you really ready to sell?

Before putting your home on the market, consider all variables involved and be sure it’s a financially responsible move. Thanks to coronavirus, life circumstances you may have relied on, such as a steady salary, may not be dependable anymore.

Stage your home to sell

With restrictions still in place in many states and lots of people home in quarantine, many buyers will be doing their touring virtually. For sellers, this means staging and photographing a home properly is more important than ever.

Consider hiring a professional home-staging and photography service to present your home in the best light. You can also invest in virtual staging software to help you update the furniture with just a few clicks.

To make it easier for buyers to view your home, you can post a virtual tour on your online listing, and offer the option of scheduling a live tour with an agent through FaceTime.

Play it safe

If you will be allowing potential buyers into your home, set up a box of disposable masks, shoe covers and sanitizing wipes at the door for all visitors who will be tramping through your home.

Price it right

Fewer homeowners are putting their houses up for sale this year, but the pool of buyers is also smaller than usual. This means that you won’t be able to jack up the price of your home for way more than it’s worth. Work with a real estate agent to look at comparable home sales in the area and to determine a fair asking price.

Closing during COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic will likely affect every aspect of selling your home. With many professionals working with a smaller team now, be prepared for various steps of the process to be delayed. This is especially true with lenders, as low mortgage rates have triggered a spike in refinance applications and lenders are busier than ever.

If you are ready to purchase or build a new home, or looking to refinance your current home contact our expert staff at (218) 829-0371 or start an application. 


Everything You Need to Know About Closing Costs

(August, 2020)
Many times, when we are in the market for a new home we often forget to budget for other costs as part of taking out a mortgage loan. This includes all fees and charges incurred while officially transferring a property from one owner to another.
Image of small wooden house, pen and calculator on financial paperwork

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, when taking out a mortgage there are several different types of costs or fees you will pay. These costs can be directly related to the mortgage, but in the end, they are all a part of becoming a homeowner and having a mortgage. Some of the costs are paid whether or not you have a mortgage or not and are important in deciding how much you can afford, when the time to purchase a new home is on your mind. 

Learn more about possible fees, charges and mortgage terms that you might come across in your mortgage journey:

What kind of charges can I expect as part of my closing costs?

Application fee: Covers all administrative work required to process your application for a home loan.

Appraisal: Covers the fee of a professional appraiser to provide your lender with an estimate of your home’s true value.

Closing fee or escrow fee: The cost of the title company, escrow company or attorney for facilitating the closing.

Credit check: Some lenders charge a fee to examine your credit history.

Escrow account: A special financial account for the temporary deposit of funds (like property taxes or homeowners’ insurance) before they are paid out at a specified time.

Escrow deposit: You may be asked to make your initial escrow deposit at closing, covering the first two months of property taxes and mortgage insurance payments.

Home inspection: The cost of a professional inspection of your entire home and property.

Interest: The primary cost of borrowing money, but not the only one.

Lender’s policy title insurance: This insurance assures the lender that you own the home and the lender’s mortgage is valid.

Mortgage Insurance: This is an additional cost of borrowing money, typically required for borrowers who make a down payment of less than 20%.

Origination Fee: These costs are charged by the lender for “originating,” or making you the loan. They are part of the price of borrowing money. Different lenders may choose to itemize these costs to varying degrees – it’s the overall total that matters.

Prepaid interest: Most lenders require buyers to prepay the interest that will accrue from the day of closing until the date of the first mortgage payment.

Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI): If you need to pay PMI on your loan, the first month’s premium is due at closing.

Principal: This is the money you borrowed and have to pay back. This is part of the cost of buying your home, but not a cost of borrowing money.

Property taxes and homeowners’ insurance: These are costs of homeownership, not of borrowing money. They are usually bundled with your monthly payment and managed by a lender through an escrow account.

Title fees: This covers the cost of a title search, in which your lender hires a title company to look for possible legal claims on your property.

Underwriting fee: This fee goes directly to your lender. It covers the cost of researching whether you should be approved for the loan.

Should I choose the “no-closing-costs” option?

Before signing up for a no-closing-cost loan, it’s important to understand that there’s no such thing as a mortgage without closing costs. In a no-closing-costs loan, these fees will generally be rolled into the mortgage. You’ll be paying interest on your closing costs throughout the life of the loan. Also, lenders usually raise the interest rates on no-closing-costs mortgages.

For more information on mortgages or to apply, check out our home loans page. 

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Looking for a New Home? Get Pre-qualified

(July, 2020)
My current house just isn’t doing it for my family. We’re looking for a house to purchase that is near good schools and in a good neighborhood, but it’s taking longer than hoped. I’m a little worried that interest rates are going to go back up before I get a chance to buy. What should I do?

We don’t get much practice in thinking about the cost of homes throughout our day-to-day lives. You probably know how much you could reasonably spend on a night out or a spontaneous vacation. Some quick back-of-napkin type of calculations can give you a reasonable budget for most everyday expenses. But when it comes to home prices, they aren’t in the same category. Visualize $200,000. Now visualize $450,000. Chances are good your visualization didn’t change very much.

These differences are conceivable when they get down to the monthly payment. A $200,000 mortgage might mean a $950 monthly payment. The $450,000 mortgage, on the other hand, would mean nearly $2,000 in monthly payments. That’s a difference you can visualize!

Home with family standing in front of it.Getting help with making those numbers real is just one of the many reasons your first step in the home-buying process should be mortgage pre-qualification. Before you start looking for houses, contact an agent or pack a single box, you should sit down with a mortgage consultant or loan officer for this often overlooked step.

A mortgage consultant can help you identify a price range that is reasonable for your lifestyle and even help set a budget for your home purchase. Plus, pre-qualifying for a home loan will give you additional leverage with the buyer since they know you’re serious about purchasing. Mortgage experts are also excellent resources for trustworthy agents and brokers who can provide referrals to get you through the door.

At some point, you’re going to need to get approved for a mortgage. There’s no reason to wait until after you’ve picked out your dream home. If you wait, you may be setting yourself up for heartbreak and regret if you fall in love with a home you can’t afford. Or you may find yourself settling for less house than you want because you didn’t have a budget in mind. To avoid both these disappointments, speak with a mortgage professional at the credit union today!

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Financing Home Renovation with Home Equity Loans

(July 2020)
I’m doing some home renovations this year and I’m not sure how to finance this expense. There are so many options! Which one makes the most sense?

 As a member of Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union, you have several options for funding a home renovation. You can open a HELOC, or a Home Equity Line of Credit, which is an open credit line that's secured by your home's value for up to 10 years. You can also fund your renovations with an unsecured loan or use your credit cards.

One of the best ways to fund a home renovation, though, is by taking out a Home Equity Loan. Let’s take a closer look at this popular loan option.

What is a home equity loan?

Family working on home improvements- wallpapering

A home equity loan is a loan secured by a home’s value. When homeowners open a home equity loan, they will receive a fixed amount of cash in one lump sum. Most home equity loans have a fixed interest rate, a fixed term and a fixed monthly payment.

What are the advantages of a home equity loan?

The primary benefit a home equity loan has over other loans is its fixed interest rate. This means the loan will not be subject to increasing interest rates and borrowers know exactly how much their monthly payment will be for the entire life of the loan. Also, the interest paid on a home equity loan may be tax-deductible (consult your tax adviser for details).

Another benefit of the home equity loan is its repayment plan. Borrowers will be making payments toward the loan’s interest and principal throughout its life. At the end of the loan term, the entire amount will be paid up.

Are there any disadvantages to taking out a home equity loan?

While a home equity loan offers the funds needed to cover a home improvement project with an affordable repayment plan, it’s important to know about every aspect of a home equity loan before applying.

Taking out a home equity loan means paying several fees. It’s best to find out how much these fees will amount to before applying for the loan.

Also, when taking out a home equity loan, borrowers will receive their funds in one shot. This makes a home equity loan a great option for homeowners who know exactly what kind of work they will do on their homes. However, if they only have a vague idea about the renovations they want to do and how much they’ll cost, they may end up borrowing an insufficient amount.

Finally, borrowers will need to make a monthly payment on their loan throughout its life. Before taking out a home equity loan, be sure you can afford the payments.

To learn more about home equity loans call our expert staff at (218) 829-0371, or start your application online

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4 Home Improvement Projects with High Long-Term Returns

(June 2020)
When you’re making improvements to your home, you’re not just making your life better in the short term. You’re also making an investment in your future. Ideally, the increase in the value of your home will exceed the cost of the improvement.

toolsHowever, it seldom works out like that. The most efficient home improvements don’t pay for themselves immediately. The first item on this list has an ROI (Return on Investment) of 98%. That means you get back 98% of the money you put into it. To look at it another way, you lose 2% of your initial investment.

It takes years for the appreciation in your home to recoup the expense of an improvement. When you’re making home improvements, though, you’re looking for ways to improve your quality of life while being as thrifty as possible.

Calculating ROI can be difficult because the data is based on national averages. For instance, in drought-afflicted parts of the country, water-efficient fixtures, rainwater collection facilities and low-water landscaping will pay long-term dividends. In places with lots of solar exposure and high utility costs, solar panels will make your home more cost-efficient and attractive to buyers. Keeping that in mind, finding out what works for your market therefore depends a lot on trends and local conditions.

There is some good news if you’re looking for more universal approaches for getting the best increase in value for your home improvement dollar. There are a few simple rules to follow. Seek relatively low-cost improvements that require little to no maintenance. They should immediately distinguish your house from similar homes and, ideally, they also improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Here are four home remodel projects that can improve the resale value of your home. It’s the perfect time to choose one, as many of us are staycationing for the summer. You can fund them with  a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and you may be able to save money by doing part or all of them yourself! By the way, consult your tax adviser to determine if these improvements apply for tax deductions.

Replace the front door

There’s an old adage in real estate that suggests the features get tours, but the front porch gets sales. People make decisions on home-buying all the time by starting with a gut reaction and finding reasons to support it later.

Why not start your home remodeling project with the first thing you interact with on your house: the front door. Upgrading an old, poorly-fitting front door with a newer energy-efficient model is a cheap, quick project that can instantly improve your home’s efficiency and aesthetic appeal. Best of all, hanging a door can be done in an afternoon!

With an average price of just over $1,200, including labor, an energy-efficient front door has an ROI of 98%! It’s also a chance to be creative. A new front door can add a splash of color, and window placements can break up a monotonous front profile.

Minor kitchen remodels

Replacing major appliances and installing new flooring is a difficult, time-consuming and expensive task. Being without a kitchen for weeks on end can be a nightmare, and the number of professionals needed to install new lighting and other features is mind-boggling. The national average for spending here is $57,000, and the ROI for major kitchen remodeling isn’t great, at only 68%.

Minor kitchen upgrades, like new cabinets, counter-tops and energy-efficient cook-tops, are comparatively inexpensive. The average spend here is just under $20,000 with an estimated return on investment at an impressive 80%. Just like with the front door, the changes are mostly aesthetic. People perceive a more modern-looking kitchen as being a better fit than a more “retro” look.

This is also a chance to customize a place where you spend a remarkable amount of time. Having a kitchen laid out just the way you like it can make it easier and more enjoyable to cook. This will encourage you to eat more meals in, and energy-efficient appliances can lower your electric bills for the life of the home.

Wooden decks 

Outdoor Patio imageOutdoor space is one of the hallmarks of the current iteration of the American dream. Where else can a family sit and enjoy a frosty lemonade on a hot summer day? Watch the kids play in the yard while tending the grill on a beautiful wooden deck!

The average cost, based upon a 16 foot by 20 foot wooden deck, is $12,000. The average return on investment is just over 80%. This is because of the perception of expanded living space at a reasonable price. Adding a deck costs about $40 per square foot, while a square foot of inside space costs an average of $90! Decks are a great way to increase the play space for a modest cost.


Convert an attic space into a bedroom

For most houses, the attic is an afterthought. It’s a place where unused craft projects and abandoned hobbies go to die. Consider turning that dead space into living space with a remodeling project!

Turning an existing attic space into a spare bedroom or office, complete with its own bathroom, can be done for a slightly steeper price. Nationally, the average cost is just over $50,000. That includes constructing a room, extending utilities to it and adjusting the exterior of the house to accommodate the new space.

This remodel provides a 77% return on investment in resale value, with the potential for more. If you have adult children or relatives visiting from out of town, an attic room can be a wonderful guest room. You could also rent it out for additional income!

If you need some funds to help with your home improvement projects, now is the time to try a Home Equity loan or a Property Improvement loan. Contact our expert staff for more information at (218) 829-0371. 

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When Should I Put My House on the Market

(May 2020)
During these unusual times many are spending more time at home. If you were planning on putting your home on the market soon, this could be a blessing.

Woman painting wall

The time spent at home allows us to not only do normal yearly spring cleaning; it also allows us to work on those projects indoors that help to spruce up our homes for when the market is back up and running. Take the time now to do indoor repairs, paint, clean out closets and garages.

While the temperature is still cooler, finish up those indoor home improvement projects. Once the temperatures warm up, move to your outdoor projects. Before you know it, the time will come to put your home on the market, and you’ll be ready.

Spring has traditionally held the designation as the best time of year to see a home. Not only does spring bring hope for something new, but if you spend your time indoors now decluttering and fixing those repairs you’ve put off, your house will be ready to sell when things are back to normal.

What makes spring so well-suited for house-hunting? Let’s take a deeper look at the sell-in-the-spring rule so you can make an informed decision about when to put your home on the market.

Why spring?

The beautiful, mild weather of spring showcases your property in all its glory. Pleasant weather also makes it easier for you to tend to do repairs and upgrades on your property.

Aside from delightful weather, springtime brings the end of the school year. House-hunting in the spring often makes the most sense for families with school-age children. This way, they can be settled into their new homes and schools before the new school year.

Finally, spring means more daytime hours to show your home to potential buyers.

Home with sold sign out frontDo homes listed in the spring really sell quicker and at higher prices?

An ATTOM Data Solutions analysis of 14.7 million home sales showed that houses sold in May closed at 5.9% above their estimated market value when compared to other months.  Another study by proved that homes listed during the spring are 1% less likely to sell with a price cut than homes listed during the rest of the year.

Also, a Zillow study showed that homes sold during the first two weeks of May tend to be on the market less time than homes sold any other time of year.

Does this rule hold true for everyone?

“Springtime to market” might be a good rule of thumb for most home sellers to follow, but it does not apply in every case.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding when to list your home:

The local market. If your neighborhood is full of for-sale signs and your home does not have any distinguishing features, consider waiting until the market cools off to give your home a fair shot.

On the flip side, if your home has one or more features that set it apart, you’ll want to list it when the neighborhood is full of house hunters for optimal exposure.

Your preferred time to move. Pick an ideal moving date and work backward to decide when to list your house. You can estimate 50 days to close after going under contract, and then add up to a month for preparing your home for market, choosing a selling agent, making any necessary repairs or upgrades and finding a buyer.

As we know, right now realtors may not be conducting open houses at this time, but you are able to interview and research your area realtors to find the best fit. You can also start the application process to be ready to purchase your new dream home! A majority of paperwork and applications can be started online or virtually if you are ready to put your house on the market. 

It is understandable that during this time, your plans may have been changed, but with all the time we are spending at our homes, now is the time to get to those projects we’ve put off.

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