Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Remodel Your Credit Before You Begin Renovating Your Home

Improved resale value, more space or better use of the space you have, and a brand-new room to enjoy... It may be hard to imagine a downside to renovating a kitchen or bathroom. But you could discover a dark side to remodeling - deciding to finance the project by borrowing the money before checking your credit.

With the real estate market still limping along in many areas of the country, you may decide that it makes more sense to improve the home you have, rather than move into a new one. And you wouldn't be alone in thinking that way. Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies predicts Americans will spend nearly $141 billion on remodeling in the first half of 2011.

The economy may be driving the renovation trend another way, as well. Interest rates are low - for those who can qualify for them, with good credit.

So it makes sense to know what's on your credit report and what your credit score is before you make plans to renovate your kitchen, bath or any other room in the house.

If you plan to use credit to finance a renovation project (and few of us can afford to pay cash these days), be proactive and understand your credit with these simple steps:

1. Find out where you stand.

Although it's fairly easy to obtain a free credit report and score online, many Americans aren't confident about where they stand in terms of credit. Your first step toward making your renovation dreams a reality is to find out how potential lenders will perceive your credit worthiness.

Reviewing your credit score through Websites like Transunion's TrueCredit can help you get a clear picture of how potential creditors might perceive your use of credit. Membership in the site's credit monitoring membership can also help you keep on top of your credit by sending you e-mail alerts when something changes on your credit report.

* Take action - and keep at it.

If you find errors on your credit report, contact the major bureaus and dispute the errors. It's also a good idea to monitor your report regularly, throughout the year, as identity theft or instances of fraud could show up on it, alerting you quickly to a situation you otherwise might not have discovered for months.

Your credit score is a fluid number, and it can change throughout the year as you improve your payment records, miss or delay a payment, and open or close lines of credit. Many factors go into calculating your credit score, but generally bureaus take into account how reliably you pay bills on time, the total amount you owe in secured and unsecured debt, and how much unused credit you have available.

* Get an idea of the impact.

Knowing your credit score not only better empowers you to bargain for the optimum loan terms, it can also help you understand how that new renovation loan will affect your score and report.

Whether you're remodeling just one room in a house or the entire house, funding the project can affect your finances, including your credit score. If you make sure you understand - and have a handle on - your credit before undertaking a project, you'll be more likely to reap the rewards, and avoid the downside, of home renovation.

Reprinted by permission from the Richmond Times Dispatch - published print edition Sat April 16, 2011.

Get A Free Transunion Credit Score through TrueCredit HERE

True Credit

Next Post: 8 Secret Credit Scores (you might not have even heard about).


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