Key Considerations When Planning a Home Remodel

After being at home for the last year or so, you may have become tired of the color of the walls in your living room, noticed that warmer lights would be a better choice for your dining area, or speculated that your home would be less cramped if your kitchen didn’t have those hanging cupboards. And the truth of the matter is that you’re not alone. The pandemic has caused a huge surge in home renovation projects in the US, with Americans spending a collective total of $420 billion on them. This upward trend is only expected to continue.

To this end, if you’re planning to remodel, these key considerations can help you get started.

What’s your end goal?


Do you have a basement you want to polish up for everyday use? Make major structural changes like taking out a wall? Or do you want to expand upward with an extra floor or outward into your backyard? Either way, decide on a concrete objective to build on (no pun intended).

This makes your goal realistic, worthwhile, and detailed enough to be easily communicable to the designers and contractors you may hire. This will also ensure that you’ll be satisfied with the end result. Otherwise, you may find yourself done remodeling but still feel that your house is missing something.

What’s your budget?



Remodeling is a great step for any homeowner: It can increase both the sentimental value of your home, as well as its actual value on the market. Still, this means that you need to have the money to make the home improvements now. Fortunately, homeowners have several financing options that can help them out.

A home equity loan, for instance, gives you access to a considerable sum of cash by letting you borrow against the current value of your house. The interest rate is generally lower than those on credit cards, too. However, failure to pay back the loan gives the lender the right to foreclose on your home, so you need to have sufficient equity and the ability to pay the loan back over time to avail of it.

Newer homeowners can’t apply for home equity loans just yet, however. Thankfully, personal loans can give you anywhere from $3,500 to $40,000 upfront, and allow you to pay the amount back in equal installments over time. Just be sure to read the fine print and look for loans with rewards and no fees.

Whichever method you choose, make sure it’s a realistic way to finance your remodeling plans. And be prepared for anything: Set aside 10% of your money as a contingency fund, and have the entire budget ready at least three months to half a year in advance.

What does your homeowner association say?


When drafting your project, keep in mind the requirements of the neighborhood you live in. If you reside in an area full of historic homes, for instance, your options may be limited. If ever, ask for permission if you’re planning to make changes visible from the outside.

Moreover, remember to look over your local building code’s rules and regulations and apply for any permits you may need.

Should you get a contractor or DIY it?


In 2020, many cited the risk of COVID exposure as one reason why they preferred DIY to contractors. And with the Delta variant making its way across the country, you might want to do the same. If you’re going DIY, a wealth of online resources, like This Old House, can help you out.

However, it’s still best to hire a contractor for the biggest jobs on your list, especially the ones you’re not confident doing on your own (like flooring). If this is the case, interview multiple contractors and compare bids, so you can choose one that gives you the best deal.

Is now the right time?


Think about how the project will affect your daily routines. Consider, realistically, how long it will take to get the project done. If you start now, is there any possibility that the project will continue into the winter? If you’re expecting a baby, will the project be finished before the due date? Ask yourself these questions, and if you’re unsure about anything, rescheduling may be a good idea.

Wrapping it up


Once you’ve answered all these questions, embarking on your own unique home remodeling journey should be much easier.

Be sure to login to your HomeBinder account to utilize the “Add details” and “Add projects” tabs to keep track of paint colors by room, tile styles, the brand of flooring, etc. Also, be sure to take advantage of HomeBinder’s Home Valuation Tool to determine how certain projects can improve your home’s value!

Article written by Ruth Joyce
Exclusively for homebinder.com

Why build a “Client for Life”?

Let’s face it. Relationships Matter.

Excelling in a Highly Competitive Market

In an increasingly competitive market, lenders are seeking a meaningful way to differentiate themselves and be top of mind with their clients. While mortgage industry clients still expect compelling rates and fast cycle times, the most engaged clients tend to be those whose overall borrower experience is memorable. As industry volatility remains, now is a perfect opportunity to get the jump on the competition.

Changing the Sales Funnel Paradigm

The dilemma in many lender shops revolves around an intense focus on the transaction versus the overall borrower experience. The sales funnel often becomes the heart of the effort – generating leads and turning them into applications and ultimately funding. Some lenders are leveraging a CRM and other tools to extend their engagement with homeowners post-close, although, this is more the exception than the norm.

Actionable Customer Centricity

While it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide differentiated lending services, an industry defining customer-centric service approach can be the deciding factor in market distinction. Customer service is a worthy objective and it is rapidly becoming typical, expected and transactional. However, it is time to look beyond product and customer service. We believe there is much more that a lender can offer – a mortgage experience that is genuinely meaningful to your borrowers and engenders a long-term appreciation of your company. It is time to focus on relationships versus transactions, which ultimately leads to increased revenue, brand loyal customers and distinguished ancillary services partners.

How to Change the Mindset

Imagine, instead of only focusing on service through the day of closing, you can reward clients with a better experience at both closing and post-close. What if you could engage your clients – for life – by providing them with information, tools and resources that will help them exponentially love where they live? By engaging them throughout the entire borrower lifecycle you will convert more business in the sales funnel and, more importantly, easily win repeat business and referrals?

Read the entire Client For Life e-book here or Book a Demo today!

Competing on the Other Side of the Pandemic

Traditional technology platforms and marketing practices meant to ensure an engaging and rewarding borrower experience, including LOS, POS, and CRM platforms, are becoming increasingly necessary. All signs point to a purchase-heavy and volatile market, creating urgency to compete and create relevance for your business.

Consider the Following:

  • Market volatility, as refinance rate-locks have declined in the second quarter
  • Home inventory levels that are down 20% from 2020
  • The largest home buyer demographic, Millennials, need guidance in their homeownership journey
  • Margin compression, as direct-to-consumer lending is becoming more prevalent
  • Increased cost per lead conversion
  • Corporate investments in rental properties creating greater scarcity
  • Increasing challenges recruiting and retaining top performing loan originators

Given these factors, mortgage lenders are increasingly focused on:

  • Supporting and educating today’s borrowers throughout the homeownership journey
  • Differentiating their services beyond interest rates
  • Solutions that integrate with current tech stacks and automate post-close engagement and retention
  • Delivering sustainable value with top-performing realtors to increase referral percentage

Read the entire Client For Life e-book here or Book a Demo today!

Battling for the Borrower in a Changing Market

Coming off of a historic surge in origination volume, current changes in market activity may prove difficult to traverse for many mortgage originators.  The industry has seen record levels of volume, record net profits, and record low-interest rates, all during a devastating pandemic crisis.  These trends, however, are shifting direction and the next question becomes how quickly and how severely these changes will occur.  

Fragile Origination Margins

Momentous origination volume in a low-interest rate environment has pushed net production profit margins to new highs. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported that profits for independent mortgage bankers exceeded 200 basis points in the third quarter of 2020.  According to Marina Walsh, MBA vice president of industry analysis research and economics, this is the first time production profits have surpassed this mark as a part of the MBA reporting effort initiated in 2008. Rebounding from this high will almost certainly crush the bottom line for many originators. Effectively summarized in a recent op-ed on “The Rough Road Ahead for the Mortgage Industry,” managing marketing costs, lead conversion, and loan officer effectiveness needs to be a key component of your origination strategy going forward.   

Pandemic Borrower Accommodations

The mortgage industry is approaching the tail end of pandemic relief, as foreclosure moratoria expires at the end of July.  Intervention remains as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) latest ruling, effective August 31st precludes covered entities from initiating foreclosure filings until 2022. Supported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the industry will continue to support accommodations that ensure homeowners impacted by the pandemic have foreclosure alternatives, including the sale of their homes.  Coinciding with the expiration of the GSE Patch and changes to the definition of a Qualified Mortgage (QM) for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as other eligibility restrictions, product options in the non-agency and non-QM space will almost certainly stir up competition for more traditional origination shops.

Easing/Sliding Home Sales

New home sales continue to trickle down.  The Mortgage Bankers Association recently noted that overall new home sales have fallen by seven percent since last year. MBA assistant vice president of economic and industry forecasting, Joel Kan, commented on how low home sale inventory continues to escalate home prices, as well as buyer competition. There has been a recent slowdown in purchase offers for homes, and the real estate community consensus is that the continuing deficit in available home inventory is bearing down on the market. Redfin highlighted this tapering effect in their recent Homebuyer Demand Index, noting that even though home sales are up from a year ago, sales have declined by five percent since the late May high from earlier this year.

Cost to Cure

Juggling multiple aspects of the next phase in origination activity could be an expensive proposition as the cost to acquire new borrowers is most certainly on the rise.  Mortgage originators will have multiple hurdles to cross to get to the other side.  Production profits may quickly erode as originators feel the pressure of declining volume while paying enormous payroll costs to cover the talent acquired to meet the last 18 months of record volume.  Originators will also have to compete with more aggressive non-agency players that are looking to attract borrowers coming out of post-pandemic duress and amidst possible easing of the credit box.  Last but not least, as interest rates inevitably rise, whether quickly or slowly, the refinance market will dissipate, and purchase volume will slow as well as the housing market strives to rebalance.  

Where does this leave originators?  Looking for borrowers? The best, most logical solution is in your own backyard.  Cultivating the enormous volume of recently added borrowers can be a simple, cost-effective venture if you have a unique and compelling offering for homebuyers in your toolbox.  Today’s homebuyer often lacks the time, experience, and wherewithal to manage the myriad of household documents, maintenance activities, and important home-related project milestones that are crucial to successful homeownership.  Bridging this gap is easier than you think and can be a significant avenue for long-term engagement.…. With HomeBinder, your loan officers can present their borrowers with free, unlimited access to a revolutionary centralized home management platform.  This sophisticated opportunity allows your loan officers to achieve a considerable advantage over the competition, generate more referrals and create relationship longevity without extensive use of their time or cost expenditure. 

The HomeBinder platform delivers modern automation that systematizes and assimilates data derived through valued relationships with home service professionals.  By building an ever-expanding referral network that supports the homeowner throughout the life of the property, your loan officers can create a genuine “Client for Life” experience.  The HomeBinder platform is a genuine business differentiator that allows loan officers to focus on developing new leads and relationships, while existing homebuyers grow into repeat business and inherently produce more referrals.  To find out more about how HomeBinder can elevate your organization into the next phase of origination, visit us at www.homebinder.com, contact us directly at 800.377.6915, or Book a Demo today!

HomeBinder ● Expected by Homeowners ● Driven by Lenders

Creating Homeowner Satisfaction Amidst Mounting Regulatory Complexity

The mortgage industry has seen a flurry of new regulatory announcements, whereby simply keeping up with the myriad of deadlines will be a challenge.  Starting with forbearance extensions, the duration of forbearance based on start dates, as well as required actions, documentation, and new programs expanding eligibility…. wrapping up pandemic relief is no joke. 

Finish with interim guidance intended to bridge the gap between the end of eviction and foreclosure moratoria at the end of this month, and implementation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Final Rule at the end of August.  All this equates to mortgage servicers once again facing unprecedented regulatory strain.

Foreclosure Moratoria & The Final Rule

During the last two weeks of June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the final extension of the eviction moratorium through July 31, 2021, with the White House following suit on the end of the foreclosure moratorium.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) are going to proactively support the CFPB new Rule that goes into effect on August 31st.  A key element of this Rule is the prohibition of foreclosure filings through yearend. Per FHFA, GSE servicers cannot initiate a foreclosure, move for foreclosure judgment, order of sale, or complete a foreclosure sale during the interim gap from July 31 to August 31, 2021.  Any loans that potentially violate the Final Rule are prohibited from delivery to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the gap timeframe, and these are just the federal changes to foreclosures.

Exiting Forbearance?

On the forbearance front, the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Veterans Affairs (VA) and Agriculture (USDA) have announced that homeowners impacted by COVID-19 can access forbearance programs through September 30, 2021. This covers Federal Housing Administration (FHA), VA and USDA Rural Development loans. Additionally, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have updated COVID-19 guidelines that state they will continue to purchase loans in forbearance through the end of this September. Although the number of borrowers in forbearance continues to slow, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported an estimated 1.9 million homeowners are still in forbearance and undoubtedly this includes a growing number of seriously delinquent loans.  

Expanding Relief Eligibility

As the industry grows closer to expiring pandemic relief, several of the agencies have also issued new loss mitigation criteria and programs.  FHFA just announced the expansion of GSE Flex Modification terms that will allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer interest rate reduction without loan-to-value restrictions for many distressed borrowers.  The FHA just introduced the COVID-19 Advance Loan Modification (ALM) program.  This is a new home retention option for borrowers that are exiting forbearance or are more than 90 days delinquent.  Although these programs are timely, and certainly needed in order to assist homeowners that continue to struggle as a result of COVID-19 hardship, all of these related guidelines must be incorporated into loss mitigation communication and operational processes, as well as corresponding technology and delivery platforms.  

Your Servicing Resources

As servicers work under the duress of this most recent maze of regulation, requirements, and guidance, it is crucial to maintain borrower satisfaction and confidence.  A task made exceedingly more difficult, as servicers strive to implement changes to timeframes and programs, as well as manage employees that are now split between working at home and the office.  Borrowers will also become more stressed as they are moved out of forbearance, fear that they face near-term foreclosure, and/or do not fully understand the options available to them at this time.  If your team is not fully prepared to assist these homeowners, if your resources are tied up addressing regulatory change, onboarding new originations, or otherwise utilized, your borrowers may become further unengaged and disgruntled.  With the CFPB still reporting a large percentage of complaints from delinquent borrowers, now is the time to leverage an easy to deliver, value-added service like HomeBinder.

“Clients for Life”

HomeBinder builds meaningful client relationships on your behalf, with little to no effort on your part.  We offer a sophisticated home management platform that provides your borrowers with the opportunity to centralize all aspects of homeownership, including storage and access to key documents such as mortgage, financial, title and insurance records.  HomeBinder utilizes the corresponding data, and leverages relationships with industry professionals, to create an interactive digital experience for the homeowner.  Driving homeowner education, timely activities, and projects, as well as active engagement with servicer-driven actions, HomeBinder helps empower your borrowers as successful homeowners.  This experience generates borrower satisfaction and retention, branded by you and delivered by you, throughout the life of the property.

Use your resources where they are most effective and let HomeBinder engage your borrowers, creating “Clients for Life”.  Connect with us today to find out more about this progressive approach to homeowner engagement and retention. Visit www.homebinder.com, contact us directly at 800.377.6915, or Book a Demo today!

HomeBinder Expected by Homeowners Driven by Lenders