You’ve finally renovated that ancient bathroom of yours, and it’s just what you imagined — beautiful, trendy, sophisticated and welcoming.
Now you’re faced with a decision: What do you do with your old stuff — the fixtures, furnishings and decor? What about all those leftover materials and unused building supplies?
For items that can’t be used as is, you might want to consider:
- Restoring or upcycling materials. Did you not use all of the wood purchased for cabinets and shelving? Or the marble for the countertops? Well, you could always use those materials to create an accent for another part of your home.
- Donating to thrift stores or charities. Habitat for Humanity and other local charities are great options. If you’ve got bulkier items, some secondhand shops and charities will even pick them up from your home.
- Recycling any eligible materials. Head to your local recycling center if you have items that are metal, glass, paper, cardboard or plastic. Some places will even accept batteries and electronics if you have no more use for them.
- Contacting a scrap metal dealer. A scrap metal dealer may be interested in purchasing pieces of metal left over from the renovation.
- Throwing it in a dumpster. Be aware that you might be required to pay a fee if you throw items in the city or county dump. Renting a dumpster for your property could also be an option.
If you’re working with an architect or designer, be sure to get their opinions. They may be able to recommend which items you should keep around as spare supplies.
Attending an open house can be a great way to tour an available property, decide what you like and scope out the local competition. Who knows? It might even lead you to a great buyer’s agent.
Because of this, it’s essential you make a good impression on these outings. Want to be prepared for the open houses you visit? Follow these five etiquette rules:
- Don’t show up early or late. Open houses can mean long and tiring days for real estate agents. Respect the established open house hours. If they don’t work with your schedule, contact the listing agent to set up a private tour at a later time.
- Let the hosting agent know if you’re already represented. Already have an agent on your side? That’s okay — but make sure you’re upfront about it. Many agents use open houses as a way to get new client leads, so let them use their valuable time to speak with customers who need them.
- Give other buyers space. Don’t be surprised if other buyers show up while you’re on the property. Give them room to explore the home and respect their space. No one wants someone rushing them out of every room.
- Ask permission before opening a closed door or drawer. Maybe you want to check out the closet space, but you have to respect the homeowner’s privacy. Those areas are likely closed off for a reason.
- Avoid bad-mouthing any design or decor items. You might offend the agent if they staged the home. And the homeowners might find out too. Your words may come back to haunt you if you decide to make an offer.
An open house could be how you find your next home.
Want a fast and easy homebuying process? Of course you do. So how do you set yourself up for success? Start gathering your paperwork.
It may not be the most exciting part of buying a home, but it’s necessary to see where you stand and what you qualify for. Having your current financial records pulled and ready to go is the first step.
Here’s what you and any co-borrowers will need for a smooth loan process:
- W2s or 1099s for the past two years
- Pay stubs for the two most recent pay periods
- Income tax returns for the past two years (especially if you’re self-employed)
- Bank statements for any checking, savings or investment accounts (including 401(k)s, IRAs, etc.) for the past two months
- Records of any other forms of income you receive (Social Security payments, child or spousal support, etc.)
- Statements for assets, including stocks and bonds
Will you be receiving a financial gift from friends or family to pay for your down payment or closing costs? Then you should also have a gift letter to disclose that amount of money. And don’t forget to bring a copy of your driver’s license, as well as that of any co-borrowers.
Keep in mind that you may be asked for additional proof of income and assets. It will depend on the loan you’re applying for, as well as your employment status, income, debts and other unique financial factors.
Your credit score plays a big role in the homebuying process. It can influence what interest rates you’re eligible for, as well as what options you have for loans in general.
If your current score isn’t as high as you’d like, don’t lose hope. You can boost your score and improve your chances of qualifying for a mortgage or a better rate. Here are a few ideas that can help:
- Check your credit report. Credit reporting agencies collect data from a variety of sources, and this info may contain errors. Plus, there’s always the possibility of identity theft. Request a copy of your annual credit report from one (or all) of the three main agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and make sure everything is correct. If you see something that looks off, report the issue to get it resolved.
- Settle any debts in collections. Having an account in collections hurts your credit score. Pay these off as soon as possible, or work with the creditor to set up a payment plan.
- Work toward paying off other debts. Start paying down your debts as much as you can, focusing on high-interest ones first. Your total debt balance has a big impact on your score, so reducing even one account can help immensely.
Additionally, don’t open any new credit cards, take out a new car loan or put extra purchases on your existing cards when gearing up for a home purchase. Though this won’t improve your score, it will keep it from getting worse — and that’s just as important.