Resources available to homebuyers, no matter what they're looking for

2014-04-16T13:48:00Z 2014-04-17T12:20:50Z Resources available to homebuyers, no matter what they're looking forLee Newspapers The Billings Gazette
April 16, 2014 1:48 pm  • 

Whether you buy a turn-key home or one that's in need of a little tender loving care, every owner will add bits and pieces to make their new house into their new home.

Depending on which route you choose, your Realtor, banker and local government may be able to provide you with some help.

Either way, be sure you know what you are getting yourself into, and recognize there are resources available to help.

Lending institutions offer home equity loans and remodeling loans, and many communities offer other options for people who might not be able to afford a conventional loan.

Some communities use federal Community Development Block Grant funds to offer rehabilitation loans to qualified owner/occupants of single-family houses within the city's boundaries.

Applicants must meet federal guidelines that are based on household size and gross annual income, said Sharon Walker of the city of Bloomington, Ill.

For people who can afford to make monthly payments, a direct loan is available at zero percent to 3 percent interest.

Those who are on fixed or very limited incomes, which could include the elderly or disabled, may be able to get what is called a “deferred loan.” In such cases, a lien is placed against the property and payment is not due until the person dies or the property is sold.

If you're up for the challenger of a fixer-upper, remember “it's a labor of love,” said both Walker and Laura Walden of the Old House Society.

“Sometimes an old house is just a lifestyle,” Walden said. “You have to love it.”

Habitat for Humanity's ReStores have new and used building materials, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, appliances and even tools.

All are items donated to Habitat that are not needed for other Habitat projects, said Marcus Hayes, ReStore manager in Bloomington.

The ReStore in Bloomington is among more than 800 nationwide, with more opening regularly, Hayes said.

Hayes described his customers as “people who are being thrifty,” adding items are “priced to sell” and the inventory changes regularly.

“We may not have everything you need,” he said, but money saved at ReStore can be used to purchase other items elsewhere.

The Old House Society has a salvage warehouse at 214 E. Douglas St., Bloomington. The organization is aimed at any building 50 or more years old.

“A lot of the things people think they can't get what we have,” said Walden, coordinator of the society's warehouse.

That includes 1,200 doors, baseboards, flooring and porch posts — “everything we can get out of the house,” he said.

“We have a knowledgeable staff,” he added. “We'll walk you through it.”

The society's website — www.oldhousesociety.org — includes a list of contractors and service providers in the “resources” section.

Hayes said ReStore staff members try to help people with basic information, such as how to install a ceiling fan, but “sometimes we hit a dead end in our expertise.”

Walker also reminds people to check whether contractors are licensed and registered.

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