I bought my house in Topeka, KS in 2004.
When I made the purchase, the house was valued at 35,000, and I bought the house for 24,000 which gave me a built-in equity of 11,000.
According to the mortgage broker, I could IMMEDIATELY apply for a home equity loan (which I explained I needed to finish the house and make improvements). I took her at her word and I applied - I was told that I could NOT apply for a HELOC until I had owned the house for a year.
I was angry but there was nothing I could do, so I waited, and worked on the house in the interim with my own money. I then applied, and the appraiser CWHL sent did a "drive-by" appraisal (I specifically asked that the appraiser notify me and inspect the entire house) and on his report it sounded like my house was open to the weather and he reported the presence of a dumpster (which I was using to dispose of debris from the work I was doing - including replacement of windows and doors, improvements to the sill and skirt, roof and landscaping) and the underwriters turned down the loan.
If he had stopped and done what I asked he would have seen the improvements I made, including opening the kitchen/dining area and living room to make the space more useable, and noted that I had just installed a French door (which was covered by a tarp while the primer dried, due to rain showers) and that the house WAS sealed to the weather.
So I waited 6 months for the appraisal to drop off (CWH refused to have the appraisal redone, even though major mistakes were made, such as number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and the existence of a two-bay garage that the appraiser failed to note.
Now, almost 5 years after the purchase I am still using my own money (and the assessed value of the property has risen to over $58,000, a 100% increase over 2006 and 150% increase since 2004).
One other lovely note: I have a 5 year Jumbo ARM which comes due in 2009. If I can't get the house refinanced to a straight 30-year (or even a 15 year), I could lose the house in October 2009.
A short list of improvements:
-New roof with ridge vent to replace "pot" vents
-added insulation to attic, total of 12" for R value of R22
-new windows and doors
-new enclosure over back porch
-spiral staircase installed to add access to basement
-bathroom renovation and added washroom to increase size and add another entry that guests coould use instead of the hallway to the bedroom
- two sun-tunnel skylights for bath and washroom
-new front porch
-increased basement square footage by 500 sq/ft
-removed old siding, added insulation, Tyvek, 1/2" OSB and 3/8" T-111 siding
-removed old furnaces (house was a duplex) from attic, replaced with 85% efficient furnace in basement.
-replaced kitchen cabinets, added an air conditioner (built-in)
-removed connecting wall to enlarge master bedroom
-running new electrical runs to be connected when 200A service installed
-painted interior, improving sheetrock, refinishing original oak flooring
- added new gutters and downspouts
-improved landscaping and removed buried driveway chunks (1/2 ton ea or more, buried in the old driveway and through the yard, some vertical)
Total invested (time and materials): $22,000
So with the appraised (exterior) value at 50,000- the total value is $72K!!!
And now, with CHL being sold to Bank of America, they are no longer doing HELOC loans.
If you can get a home loan anywhere else, GET IT. Countrywide has mislead me since the very beginning, and though I have tried everything I can think of, they have a great system to avoid doing what they promise and turn down reasonable requests from homeowners. If I was closer to their corporate HQ in California, I would go in and meet with the CEO/President, who has received numerous letters from me and the company has ignored every piece of written correspondence.
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