With This DIY Sporting Goods Catch-all, Game Day Is No Sweat

This project will help you organize your garage and become the LeBron James of DIY projects. With all your gear in the same place, you’ll always be prepared when someone yells, “Where’s my basketball?” (Or volleyball, hockey stick, tennis racket, etc.)

See how it’s done, then follow the step-by-step instructions to build one of your own.

1. Find a bookcase

Choose a bookcase with at least three wide shelves so you can store gear in a variety of sizes.

2. Add locking wheels

Attach locking wheels to the bottom of the bookcase so you can easily move it around the mudroom or the garage.

3. Drill holes

Drill evenly spaced holes (about four or five, depending on the width of the bookcase) along the top surface of one of the shelves. You’ll want the holes to be fairly close to the edge – about one-half inch away or less.

On the underside of the shelf below, drill holes to match up exactly with the holes on the shelf above.

4. Attach bungee cords

Place the bungee cord hooks in the drilled holes, and arrange the cords vertically so they create a net. You want the cords to be pretty taut, so be sure to get the right size for your bookcase.

5. Mount peg boards

Frame the sides of your bookcase with 1x2s to support peg boards that have been cut to size. Secure the peg boards with a few nails on the top and bottom.

6. Customize with hooks and holders

Place hooks and holders on the peg board so you can hang your tennis rackets, baseball gloves, jerseys, helmets, and more.

7. Load up your catchall, MVP!

Grab your gear and organize the bins like you’re Russell Westbrook going for another triple-double. Now all you have to worry about is scoring the winning goal.


Home Improvement – Zillow Porchlight

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

With This DIY Sporting Goods Catch-all, Game Day Is No Sweat was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home


This Pool Noodle DIY Puts Summer Refreshment Within Reach

Create your very own swim-up bar in the backyard pool with this floating cooler – perfect for those dog days of summer when you just don’t feel like getting out of the water.

Here’s how to make this buoyant bar.

1. Gather some rope, a plastic bin, and a pool noodle.

2. Cut the noodle into four pieces that will cover the perimeter of the plastic bin.

3. Thread the rope through the cut pool noodles, ensuring that each noodle is snug against the sides of the bin.

4. Knot a handle in the rope, leaving about a foot between the bin and the knot.

5. Tie noodles tightly around the plastic bin to secure.

6. Fill with ice and drinks to top off your day of fun in the sun!

See more ideas for summer fun!



Home Improvement – Zillow Porchlight

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

This Pool Noodle DIY Puts Summer Refreshment Within Reach was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

8 Festive Bulbs to Plant This Fall

Unless you frequent the garden stores, you might forget to plant bulbs this fall that will shower your yard with brilliant colors next spring. Pops of blue, lavender, pink, white and yellow signal the arrival of warmer temperatures, baseball and a time when we can stay outside longer. Let this serve as your reminder to bury those bulbs now and forget about them. If you’d like to change up what bursts into bloom in your yard next spring, you’ll find some unique flowers in this list.

1. Tulips

Look for single or double flowers, fringed or ruffled-edged varieties. Sew one or two colors in a pattern of your choosing – circles, bunches, rectangles – or plant a colorful rainbow of yellow, pink, orange, red, lavender and purple.

Pink Tulips

2. Crocus

The first of the spring bulbs to bloom, crocuses just barely peak out of the dirt because of their short stature. A single flower sprouts from the end of a tube and comes in brilliant shades of yellow, purple, lilac, blue and striped.


3. Daffodils

Other common names include narcissus and jonquil. A harbinger of spring, these traditionally show yellow or white petals surrounding trumpet-shaped flowers. They also infuse a sweet, dewy fragrance into the air.


4. Grape Hyacinth

This bulb creates a grape-like cluster of cobalt blue bell flowers with a thin, white stripe on the rim. Floppy, narrow green leaves accent the flowers. Grows 4 to 8 inches tall and emits an exhilarating scent.

Grape Hyacinth

5. Bearded Iris

Thick, bushy “beards” on the lower petals give these blossoms their name. Select from a variety of heights from miniature to dwarf to standard and all sizes in between and almost any color. Royal purple, a vibrant choice, gives your landscaping a beautiful flush.

Bearded Iris

6. Dutch Iris

Can grow to two feet, which makes their intense colors like deep blue, purple or orange a focal showpiece in your landscaping. The petals that drape off the sides often sport a yellow swatch.

Dutch Iris

7. Summer Snowflake

Almost identical to snowdrops, which bloom prior to spring snowflakes. A foliage that looks like grass supports white bell-shaped flowers that hang down. Makes a good backdrop for a border for low-growing perennials and the flowers last a long time.

Summer Snowflake Flower

8. Scilla

Produces a smaller blue flower. Many shades of blue are available including purple-blue. Although rarer, you may also find them in pink, purple and white. As a bonus, they multiply.



Do you need help with a home improvement project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

Related Articles:

The post 8 Festive Bulbs to Plant This Fall appeared first on Pro.com Blog.

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Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

8 Festive Bulbs to Plant This Fall was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Found On Trulia: Sinners And Saints Built This Annapolis Estate

Picture this: It’s the Roaring ’20s. An industrialist from Baltimore, MD, is looking for the perfect spot for his new home base, and he has some very specific requirements. Because although his business in the steel industry is legit, he also has a secret — he’s running guns and selling illegal liquor on the side.

Then he finds a piece of land in Annapolis, MD, along the Severn River, secluded and expansive, with daring views of the United States Naval Academy. The industrialist builds his massive estate on the site — including a secret underground vault that connects to a tunnel leading from the home to the river.

That’s the truth-is-wilder-than-fiction behind the construction of this luxurious $ 28.8 million estate for sale in Annapolis, MD. But that’s not the end of the story.

Annapolis real estate

The 26,000-square-foot home sits on 23 acres along the Severn River, just 40 minutes from Washington, DC. It’s been renovated many times over the last 80 years, but its private location is what attracted the original owner — and, years later, the Catholic Church, which turned it into a Capuchin friary, and finally its current owners, who made it an expansive yet cozy family home.

Annapolis Real Estate

One big clue to the estate’s illicit past? That secret vault. “Supposedly, it was a tunnel that went all the way from under the house down to the river. We don’t know if it still goes down that far, but you can still get into the vault through the billiards room,” says listing agent David DeSantis, partner and managing broker, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, DC.

But the billiards room no longer looks the way it did when the vault was built; it has since been paneled with hand-carved teak. “The entire room was hand-carved in Southeast Asia,” says DeSantis. “The ceiling, the walls, everything. It was measured to specifications, shipped to Annapolis, and then rebuilt in the house.”

Annapolis Real Estate

While we’d love to know what gems could’ve been tucked away in this wine cellar in the 1920s, chances are slim that any original items would’ve made it through the home’s many extensive renovations. “[The home] was pretty much uninhabitable when the current owners bought it,” explains DeSantis. “There were raccoons living in it.”

Annapolis Home for sale

Saved from its sinful origins, the home was eventually purchased by the Catholic Church and converted into a friary. The vaulted ceilings in the ballroom (it once served as the chapel) are some of the last remnants of its religious past. According to DeSantis, about 25 to 30 friars lived here, sleeping in a dormitory that was torn down to build the home’s more recent spa wing, added by the current owners.

Annapolis Real Estate

The current owners, who are in the seafood business, restored the estate, adding contemporary updates — including this cheerful commercial-sized gourmet kitchen. Although the home has been for sale for a few years as a private listing, the owners aren’t in a hurry to sell. (We can see why!) Buyers today might benefit from those days on the market; it was originally listed at $ 32 million, now down to $ 28 million.

Annapolis Real Estate

Rich wood paneling and comfortable furniture with antique accents, seen here in a trunk-turned-coffee-table and Windsor rocking chair, keep formal spaces casual. “[The owners] have been fishermen for several generations,” says DeSantis. “It was very important to them not only to restore the house to the grandeur that it once had, but [also] to reflect their sensibilities and be a house that was comfortable for them.”

Annapolis Real Estate

Instead of the massive friars’ dormitory, the home now has a more manageable seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms — including this light-filled room with paneled walls. In this bedroom, Old World meets New, with elegant drapery around the Colonial-style, four-poster bed frame and rich oil paintings that frame the entrance to an adjacent sitting room.

Annapolis Real Estate

This wood-paneled sitting room is a spot for quiet contemplation — and cozying up by the fire with a good book. (Or perhaps writing one about the colorful history behind this piece of Annapolis real estate?)

Annapolis Real Estate

The current owners replaced the dorm with a spa wing, which includes an indoor pool and elaborate baths. According to DeSantis, since the owners frequently travel to Asia for work, their travels inspired them to add Asian influences throughout their decor — like the dragon candlesticks in this shower.

Annapolis Real Estate Home With Pool

The Asian influence carries over throughout the spa wing, where a teaching Buddha statue, symbolizing the union of teaching and method, overlooks the indoor pool and spa.

Annapolis Real Estate Home With Pool

The back of the home overlooks a 60-foot infinity edge pool lined with chairs. To the left, a covered pool pavilion with an outdoor fireplace offers a sheltered place to relax.

Annapolis Real Estate Home With Pool

This room, called the Zen room, is part of the guest wing. The large, circular windows let in light and offer views of swimmers in the outdoor pool. “A lot of times when you go in very expensive homes, they have that feeling like a museum — where you’re uncomfortable touching anything,” says DeSantis. “This home doesn’t feel like that.”

Annapolis Real Estate Waterfront Home

Of course, no self-respecting gunrunner would be able to transport goods without a private dock. The home now boasts a private, six-slip dock with a boatlift — and 2,000 feet of riverfront.

Annapolis Real Estate Teahouse

The current owners built the charming teahouse, a relaxing spot to enjoy a pot of Sencha — the tea that a guest is most likely to be served when visiting a Japanese home. The property also includes a conservatory, game room, catering kitchen, workshop, nine-car garage, roof garden, and tennis court.

Check out the image gallery and real estate listing for this home: 1600 Winchester Road, Annapolis, MD. (Find other homes for sale in Annapolis.)

Trulia’s Blog

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Found On Trulia: Sinners And Saints Built This Annapolis Estate was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Found On Trulia: 9 Dreamy Homes You’re Pinning This Month

Another few weeks, another round of real estate to gaze at as we highlight the dreamiest homes shared on Pinterest by Trulia users over the past month.

Collectively, these nine beauties have all the Pinterest home decor ideas you desire: designer finishes, historic charm, open floor plans, private outdoor spaces — even a water slide that spills into the sparkling saltwater pool of our home-search dreams.

The result is a Pinterest-sewn patchwork of all that’s cool, trending, and desirable to homebuyers (and eye-candy admirers) right now, and they’re all for sale — from Washington, DC real estate to Seattle, WA.

Follow @Trulia on Pinterest and pin the homes that inspire you and tag with #FoundOnTrulia. We’ll be featuring our favorites regularly.

Light filled condo in DC.

$ 889,500, 2311 Connecticut Ave. NW, #201, Washington, DC 20008

Housed in a historic building, this light-filled condo charms with hardwood floors, decorative millwork, and interior shutters on every window. The two-bedroom condo also features (score!) access to a rooftop deck overlooking the nation’s capital. See more homes for sale in Washington, DC.

Wood beams and a wood burning fireplace in Dallas.

$ 894,900, 7243 Casa Loma Ave., Dallas, TX 75214

Exposed wood beams, a wood-burning fireplace, and an open floor plan add to the allure of this 4,035-square-foot, new-construction stunner in Dallas. See more homes for sale in Dallas, TX.

Classic colonial in New CAnaan.

$ 3.495 million, 142 Bridle Path Lane, New Canaan, CT 06840

It was built in 2006, but this six-bedroom custom Colonial recalls a bygone era with its crown molding and coffered ceilings. Outside, quiet walking paths lead past stone walls and mature plantings, evoking a similar feeling of nostalgia. See more homes for sale in New Canaan, CT.

Beautiful yellow craftsman style home in Seattle's Queen Anne.

$ 799,000, 2506 10th Ave., Seattle, WA 98119

Built-ins to beams, wainscoting to molding, millwork abounds in this 1912 home in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, an area commonly linked with craftsman-style architecture. River-rock masonry and a covered front porch add to the home’s curb appeal. Just add a DIY hanging garden for perfection. See more homes for sale in Seattle, WA.

Ocean breezes and basketball courts at this La Jolla retreat.

$ 5.195 million, 1329 W. Muirlands Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

California dreaming! This 6,275-square-foot, eight-bedroom home sits upon a half-acre lot overlooking the Pacific. Take in those ocean breezes as you shoot hoops on the lighted basketball court or zip down the water slide into the saltwater pool. See more homes for sale in La Jolla, CA.

Shotgun style New Orleans bungalow.

$ 295,000, 2823 Baronne St., New Orleans, LA 70115

Pretty and petite, this shotgun home in New Orleans makes an endearing first impression with emerald-green plantation shutters framed by white balusters. But don’t let the old-fashioned charm fool you: This two-bedroom home was built in 2015. See more homes for sale in New Orleans, LA.

Smart energy efficient home with Lutron lights.

$ 1.499 million, 6722 Norway Road, Dallas, TX 75230
Behold: the ranch home of the 21st century (and modernist fantasies). Check out the smart home’s clean lines, contemporary finishes, and cutting-edge technology, the latter exemplified by Nest thermostats and Lutron lights. Synthetic grass borders the linear outdoor pool. See more homes for sale in Dallas, TX.

1950s bungalow in Atlanta.

$ 235,000, 961 Delaware Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30316
It measures in at a mere 878 square feet, but this two-bedroom, 1950s bungalow packs a punch in terms of style. To wit: the Italian marble countertops in the kitchen, the variegated hardwood floors throughout, and the basin sink in the bathroom. Think of it as small-space living styled right. See more homes for sale in Atlanta, GA.

Rustic home in Big Canoe.

$ 340,000, 83 Owls Brow, Big Canoe, GA 30143
This not-so-rustic cabin in the woods redefines “roughing it” with a gourmet kitchen and two full bathrooms, one of which features a jetted tub. Coupled with a wide-planked ceiling and floors, a stone fireplace stretches all the way to the living room’s vaulted ceiling, a design that hints at the home’s forested surroundings. See more homes for sale in Big Canoe, GA

Trulia’s Blog

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Found On Trulia: 9 Dreamy Homes You’re Pinning This Month was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Line Up Fun at the Kids’ Table With This Tic Tac Toe #HomemadeHack

Little hands will stay busy at the dinner table with a DIY game that’s so much fun it might even entice the grownups.

Here’s how to create the game, which requires nothing more than washi tape and eight pieces of fruit or other small items.

1. Set the kids’ table to make sure there’s room for the little ones’ place settings.


2. Make room for your tic tac toe board.

You can customize the size depending on how much space you have.


3. Use washi or masking tape to create the grid.


4. Mark off a rectangle and divide it into nine boxes.


5. Gather eight similar objects, with two sets of four being identical.

Pieces of fruit, buttons, colorful wrapped candies, and other small items work great.


6. Let the games begin!




Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News » Home Improvement

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Line Up Fun at the Kids’ Table With This Tic Tac Toe #HomemadeHack was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

10 Spring Cleaning Projects to Tackle This Weekend 

Spring cleaning is all about getting our homes ready for a new season of sunshine, warmth, and time outdoors – and indoors, too! Now’s the time to wipe off the grime, clear out the cobwebs, and get those living spaces ready for the year ahead.

When you put together your spring cleaning checklist this year, consider adding the following tasks, if you aren’t already planning to do them. These projects will not only put the cherry on top of the clean-home sundae, but also make your home more functional.

Best of all, you can knock out most of these jobs in a weekend.

Wash windows, inside and out

Some say clean windows make your whole home look better, and we think it’s true.

For a DIY cleaning job that yields professional results, use a solution of water, ammonia, and white vinegar. Apply the solution to your windows with a large sponge, and remove it with a professional-grade squeegee.

Clean refrigerator and air conditioner coils

These appliances create a cooling effect by circulating air through the coils. Over time, dust builds up on the coils and decreases their efficiency, making your refrigerator or air conditioner work a lot harder.

Unplug the appliance, then vacuum out the coils with your vacuum’s crevice tool. You can also use a special refrigerator-coil cleaning brush, available at most hardware stores.

Check ceiling fans

Clean your ceiling-fan blades to remove winter dust build up.

And if you reversed your ceiling fan’s direction to clockwise for the winter, turn it back to counterclockwise for the warmer months. This sends the air straight down, creating a cooling effect.

Clean dryer vent

Cleaning a dryer vent is easier than you might imagine. First, unplug the dryer from the power source. Next, clean out the vent with a special dryer-vent cleaning brush or a vacuum.

Deep-clean carpets

Even if you vacuum regularly, a thorough carpet cleaning once a year will reach deep down into the fibers to clean out debris, dust, and food particles.

You can hire a professional to do the job, or rent a professional-grade carpet cleaner from a home improvement store.

Inspect roof, gutters, and chimneys

Spring is the perfect time to check your roof for damage that may have occurred over the winter. If you can’t use a ladder to get up on the roof, try inspecting it with binoculars.

Check decks and patios

If the finish on your wooden deck still looks good, that’s great! You might just need to clean the deck to get it ready for summer.

If the finish appears to be worn, then you’ll want to consider both cleaning and resealing the deck. For decks made of composite material, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and preserving the deck.

Prep lawn equipment

Get those lawn mowers, weed whackers, and pressure washers out of storage, turn them on, and make sure they are running properly. If they’re not, now is the time to take them to a shop for repairs.

Clean outside furniture

Use Murphy Oil Soap for wood furniture. For most other types of outdoor furniture, a solution of dishwashing liquid and water should do the trick.

Freshen up your front entrance

Sweep and/or wash the front porch and steps. Put out a new welcome mat. Add a pot or two of brightly colored annuals, and your home will be ready for spring!


Home Improvement – Zillow Porchlight

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

10 Spring Cleaning Projects to Tackle This Weekend  was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

13 Ways to Decorate With Pumpkins This Fall

Beyond the enthusiasm over pumpkin spiced food and beverages, pumpkins are versatile and evoke the fall harvest, and can take you through to Thanksgiving. Check out these decorating ideas for the fall season and rejoice in the fact that some of these don’t require any kind of carving.

Ideas for an Autumnal Ambiance

1. Look Sharp

Use Sharpies to draw a free hand design like leaves, or use multiple pumpkins in a row to spell out your house number, directions, or a message like “B-O-O.”

2. Play With Color

In addition to the typical orange, you can use different colored pumpkins for different color schemes: white pumpkins look sculptural; pale yellow can be paired with grapefruits and lemons for a sunny display; or combine orange pumpkins with red pomegranates for centerpieces or displays. Use a variety of sizes for visual interest.

Pumpkin Assortment


3. Paint Pen Patterns

Grab some white pumpkins and metallic paint pens, then follow the natural grooves and curves of the gourd to make classy centerpieces. Try them in a variety of sizes!

4. Pumpkin Planting Pots

Round pumpkins or squash with flat bottoms, such as Kabocha or Italian stripe, make great vessels for plants, and can take you all the way to Thanksgiving. Cut off the top third and hollow out the bottom two-thirds, leaving about an inch of flesh all the way around. Add potting soil, then arrange succulents or other plants in the soil. Cut a thin layer off the rim for a clean edge. When the pumpkin starts to get soft, repot your plants. Or, for a great centerpiece, hollow out a pumpkin, add a block of floral foam, and insert your desired flora for a spectacular arrangement.

Pumpkin Flower Pot


5. Go a Little Batty

Grab some black poster board and cut out bats to fly across an orange or white pumpkin affixed with glue dots.

6. Place Settings

Tiny pumpkins make perfect place settings. Tie a paper tag to the pumpkin stems at each setting or write your guests name on each mini pumpkin with a marker.

Pumpkin Place Setting


7. Tape It

Attach colorful electrical tape or Washi tape either banded horizontally, or taped vertically along the ribs of a pumpkin. The design possibilities are endless.

8. Soup Servers

Carve out small pumpkins and serve a pumpkin or squash puree soup in them for festive-themed soup tureens. Or, carve out a larger pumpkin and serve the soup from it to individual bowls.


Pumpkin Soup Bowl


9. Tack It

Write out a message with a wax pencil, then trace it with thumbtacks. The end result is the message looks like it’s studded! Tip: the shorter the word, the easier it is to read.

10. Dress Them Up

Looking for a more sophisticated take on pumpkin decorating? Grab your glue gun and dress your pumpkins in ribbons and dried potpourri.

Pumpkin and Ribbons


11. Chalk It Up

Paint a pumpkin with chalkboard spray paint, then use a  white chalkmarker to draw a design, write a word or a greeting for a party

12. Votive Candle Holders

More versatile than a traditional jack-o-lantern, hollow out mini pumpkins to make enough room for a votive candle to fit inside. Group them on a mantle or strew them the length of a table for a centerpiece.

Pumpkin Votive Candle


13. Decoupage

Print out black and white copies of photos and mod podge them onto a pumpkin for a keepsake. Use pressed leaves from your yard to add a natural touch of foliage, or go for a Victorian touch and decoupage white doilies onto pumpkins for a more refined look.


Do you need help with a home improvement project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

Related Articles:

The post 13 Ways to Decorate With Pumpkins This Fall appeared first on Pro.com Blog.

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Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

13 Ways to Decorate With Pumpkins This Fall was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Want a Fixer-Upper? This Mortgage Is for You

First-time homebuyers with limited budgets who want to live in a particular area can usually benefit from buying a less expensive home that’s a fixer-upper — and these loans make it feasible.

First-time homebuyers with limited budgets who want to live in a particular area can usually benefit from buying a less expensive home that’s a fixer-upper — and these loans make it feasible.

It takes a special person to see the potential in a home that’s in need of serious rehab. If you’ve got your heart set on buying a dream fixer-upper — but don’t have the savings to cover both a down payment and a renovation — there are loan products out there that could help you make your dream a reality.

Consider a loan with a built-in reserve

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203(k) rehabilitation loan or Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage could be good financing options for buyers seeking fixer-uppers. These loans allow you to purchase the home with a reserve that’s put in escrow to fund renovations.

One caveat: There are strict guidelines, and it’s important to understand how these loans work if you’re considering a handyman special.

“These are good for people who can afford the mortgage payment, but they don’t have a lot of cash on hand to be able to pay for these renovations outright,” says Cara Ameer, broker associate and real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty based in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. “If the scope of the renovation is big and it’s a total overhaul costing six figures, you probably should do some kind of renovation loan.”

First-time homebuyers with limited budgets who want to live in a particular area can usually benefit from buying a less expensive home that’s a fixer-upper — and these loans make it feasible. “[A 203(k) or HomeStyle conventional renovation mortgage] allows consumers to go in and purchase the home and work with the contractor — the amount to renovate can be included in that one loan,” says Bill Trees, national renovation program manager at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

If you’re looking to make minor changes, however, borrowing money through a renovation loan may not make the most financial sense.

How do these loans work?

Once the mortgage closes, one portion pays for the house while the other is deposited into an escrow account. As work is completed, the mortgage lender sends an inspector to review the work. If the work is completed to the scope of the project and to state and local codes, money is released to pay the contractor.

How much can I borrow?

The loan amount depends on the appraisal value and your renovation plans.

“The consumer will find a house and work with a contractor or HUD consultant, depending on the program, and determine how much it will cost to do the repairs they want to do,” says Trees. “When the appraisal is ordered, it’s ordered as if all the renovation work has been done — you have to submit the scope of work and the bid to the lender and appraiser so they know what you plan to do.”

The scope of your renovation may have to be dialed back in some cases, as neighborhood comps have to support the home’s postrenovation value. A renovation loan makes sense only if the renovation costs don’t put the house’s new value far above comparable properties. If they do, you may have to wait on making additional renovations or pay for them yourself.

What about choosing the contractor?

Take your time finding the right contractor for your project and check that they’re licensed, insured, and in good standing. Be sure to call their references and ask to view jobs they’ve already completed to make sure you like their work. (You must work with a general contractor when you borrow money through these products — you can’t be the general contractor.)

You have to decide on the contractor before the loan closes,” says Cara Ameer. “You go to the lender with your purchase contract and they refer you to their approved list of contractors. If you have a contractor in mind who you want to use, they have to apply to be approved by that lender.”

How do the FHA 203(k) and HomeStyle loans differ?

FHA 203(k) loans require a 3.5% down payment, and you can borrow up to the FHA loan limit in your county. HomeStyle loans, on the other hand, require a 5% down payment, and you can borrow up to the Fannie Mae conventional loan limits. With a HomeStyle loan, you’re also able to finance renovations costing up to 50% of the completed appraised value.

While the FHA 203(k) and the HomeStyle loans both allow you to borrow up to a value that’s supported by the comps, the FHA Streamlined 203(k) allows financing only up to $ 35,000 into the mortgage for repairs and improvements.

While a contractor’s bid is required for most (if not all) of the work, “If you’re going to do things yourself, the only program that allows that is the FHA 203(k), and it would only be allowed for minor repairs — small-dollar-size repairs where the customer can provide evidence that they’ve the time, tools, and the assets to do the renovations,” says Bill Trees.

HomeStyle loans, on the other hand, don’t allow for any do-it-yourself repairs. However, while they allow borrowers to make the same renovations as in a FHA 203(k) loan, they also allow for the addition of luxury items.

Bottom line: If you plan to buy a fixer-upper using these products, it’s very important that you work with a home mortgage consultant who understands this product. They can help guide you through the process, which can be complicated.

Trulia’s Blog

Want a Fixer-Upper? This Mortgage Is for You was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Spring


The home buying season is about to get under way, and it’s expected to be a busy one. Here are four factors that are likely to influence buyers.

Low mortgage rates

Everyone knows that the low-rate party is coming to end. Zillow is forecasting that mortgage rates – currently around 4 percent for the 30-year fixed – will rise to 5 percent by the end of 2015.

Granted, a 1-percent rise may not sound like much, but it’s a great motivator to get in and buy now. After all, a 1-percent increase in rates reduces affordability by a whopping 11 percent.


Zillow’s Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI), which is designed to offer insights into homeowners’ and renters’ intentions and attitudes concerning the housing market, is a forward-looking gauge of housing market health. And things are looking up.

Confidence in the housing market is higher this year than it was last year — among homeowners as well as renters, many of whom are now rethinking their attitudes toward home ownership and are ultimately becoming more interested in buying.

High rents

Rental affordability is as bad as it’s ever been across the U.S., in part because there are not enough new, affordable units to meet demand. Renters can expect to spend 30.1 percent of their income on rent, while home buyers can expect to spend about 15.3 percent of their monthly income on a mortgage payment.

Those numbers alone are driving renters who can save for a down payment to pursue homeownership. In fact, data from Zillow shows that 5.2 million renters want to buy in the next year. That’s up from 4.2 million renters from the same time last year — almost a 25-percent boost.

Loan availability

Getting a mortgage is significantly easier than it was a year ago, and the markets are rapidly approaching pre-crisis credit conditions.

What this means to borrowers: Those who last year may have only been eligible for an FHA loan are now being offered conventional loans with private mortgage insurance. As lenders open their doors wider, borrowers have more options, with competitive terms and rates.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Spring was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home