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Upgrading from house to dream home Using the NHT, other financial institutions for improvements

Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Owning a house is quite the achievement for most but many people start off not being completely pleased with what was purchased.

Your dream home, unless built yourself, is often a work in progress and not one that is bought with all your specifications in mind and what you liked five years ago may look rather different from your current aesthetic and not meet the needs of your family.

As a result, home improvement for many people is an ongoing process, which if you are not a DIYer (do-it-yourselfer) can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

Michelle James, sales executive, said when she bought her home three years ago, it was with the knowledge that it would require some effort and investment to get it how she had envisioned from the onset.

“I knew that the house I was buying was smaller than what I wanted and that the fittings were not what I would have selected myself, but it was still a good buy and in an area I loved”, she said.

Like James, many homeowners find themselves having to do upgrades and other improvements to their units once moved in. These can be as superficial and relatively inexpensive, as repainting or as expensive as retiling, changing lighting fixtures or maybe even landscaping to improve the property's curb appeal. Many turn towards financial institutions to provide financing for these projects when the costs end up being prohibitive to them funding it on their own.

One institution, which offers such loans, is the National Housing Trust (NHT), a fact which some of its contributors may not be aware of. The housing agency, better known for its schemes and offering loans for open market purchases, currently offers a Home Improvement Loan to contributors. Under the Home Improvement Loan, “the NHT will lend homeowners who have never received an NHT housing benefit up to $2.5 million to make changes or improvements to their house or another house for which they have legal permission to make changes,” said Corporate and Public Affairs manager at the NHT, Dwayne Berbick. “Additionally, homeowners may apply with another qualified NHT contributor to buy a unit or lot on the open market or improve a residential property.”

Also, if you accessed an NHT mortgage at least 15 years ago, and still own the property, you may borrow up to $2.5 million to improve or expand that property, Berbick said, however, the loan may only be used to improve or expand the mortgaged property. What's more, many government workers can access its Public Sector Workers – 10 Plus Loan, which provides a similar benefit but with a reduced wait time of 10 years.

If taking out a loan to have your home that just-built look and feel isn't for you, there are some simple, less expensive ways that can be explored. James said the internet was her primary resource as she researched changes that could be made without breaking the bank.

“I repainted the entire house, with more modern colours, and changed faucets and the easier to manage lighting fixtures. Eventually, I was able to save enough to change the kitchen sink, bathroom tub and retile most of the house, which made an enormous difference. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't done overnight. It was over a period of almost two years, and I'm not quite there yet but I am even more proud of the changes because I basically did it on my own.”

— Paul Allen


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