One World Realty in Jacksonville Florida
Charles Gaulden
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How to Choose Stock Kitchen Cabinets

Buying stock cabinets for your kitchen remodel can definitely save you money. Here are some tips to help you make the right buying decision.

Stock cabinets save you time because you don’t have to wait for them to be built. And they save you money because you aren’t paying for customizations.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. You just need to know what to look for.

What to Look For

  • Solid wood and plywood cabinets. They’ll give you better longevity and crisper details than pressed wood.
  • Walls at least ½-inch thick. They’re more sturdy.
  • Consistency of finish. Lesser quality cabinets often have irregular finishes and colors from one cabinet box to the next.
  • Full-extension hardware. It allows you to open drawers all the way and open doors almost 180 degrees to make access easier.
  • Dovetail joinery. Or a metal box. Drawer sides and backs that are stapled together won’t last as long.

Cost and Installation

The cost of quality stock cabinets for an average-sized kitchen generally runs $8,000 to $10,000. Semi-custom cabinets would cost about twice that. And full custom cabinets would cost even more.

There are some lower-cost stock alternatives, such as IKEA (as low as $2,500), but you’ll offset your savings with the hassle of difficult assembly — fine if you have the patience and skill.

But unless you’ve got professional building experience, actually installing kitchen cabinets isn’t a typical DIY job.

So carve out $100 to $300 per cabinet (depending on labor rates in your area) to have them professionally installed.

The Drawbacks of Stock Cabinets

  • Finish and color choices are limited. The most likely options are painted white, natural wood, or stained maple and cherry.
  • Stock cabinets are only 36 inches tall. If you want taller cabinets, you’ll have to go semi-custom, which can take you up to 42 inches.
  • You could lose potential storage space. Filler strips are used to cover gaps created when the stock sizes don’t quite fill the space — whereas custom cabinets can be measured to take advantage of all space.
  • Extra details such as crown molding aren’t included. Mitered corners and furniture-style sides aren’t included either. However, you can add crown molding yourself later if you choose.
  • Warranties are limited. The industry standard is about 5 years, and they only cover product failure, not wear and tear.

Note: You’ll also need to choose hardware. But that can be a fun project to really personalize your kitchen.
Get more tips on planning a kitchen remodel.
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The Best Choices for Kitchen Flooring. Kitchen Renovations

Kitchen Renovations

With so many options to choose from, it’s hard to know what’s best for kitchens. So we’ve narrowed down the choices for you.

We’ve taken out the guesswork and chosen four flooring types that make the most sense for kitchens, and we explain why they are ideal.
Hardwood Flooring is Ideal When:

  • You don’t want your kitchen to look dated over time.
  • You have an open floor plan.
  • You seek durability.

Hardwood flooring, with its unmatched warmth and visual appeal, is a great choice if you want to create a look that never really goes out of style, giving you a good return on investment if you ever sell your home.
Also, if you have an open floor plan, hardwood works well in both kitchens and living areas. It creates a warm and unified look.
Hardwood is also:

  • Highly durable. It can withstand decades of use.
  • Low-maintenance.
  • Moisture-resistant if you choose a prefinished type.

Hardwood flooring is made in two ways: solid wood strips or engineered wood planks.

Engineered wood is the better choice for kitchens. It has a veneer of real wood backed by layers of less expensive plywood. This construction provides dimensional stability that makes the flooring less susceptible to movement caused by changes in humidity and temperature — common in kitchens.

Cost: $3 to $12 per sq. ft. Installation: $5 to $12 per sq. ft., depending on the complexity of the job.

Vinyl Flooring is Ideal When:

  • You cook a lot.
  • You want the easiest-to-maintain floor.
  • You are on a tight budget.

Sheet vinyl belongs to a group of flooring products called resilient flooring, which is the softest flooring option. If you cook a lot, this cushiness makes it easier on your feet while easing muscle fatigue.
Also, sheet vinyl is much more forgiving if you (or someone in your family) is a bit of klutz who tends to drop things. You’ll have less breakage.
Plus, sheet vinyl flooring is a snap to clean up; it’s completely waterproof and stain-proof.
However, depending on the size and layout of your kitchen, you may have seams. Standard width for vinyl flooring is 12 feet. If your kitchen is wider than that, you’ll definitely have seams, which can let moisture into the subfloor and trap dirt if they aren’t tightly bonded.
On the upside, sheet vinyl requires no ongoing maintenance beyond sweeping and mopping.

 If the softness of vinyl flooring appeals to you most, you might opt for cushioned vinyl flooring, which is backed with a layer of foam (standard sheet vinyl uses felt backing).
Sounds good, but that extra cushiness makes it hard to create seams that stay tightly bonded over time. You may end up with seams that come apart, letting in moisture and trapping dirt.

Sheet vinyl comes in many colors and patterns. Thicker vinyl can feature a textured surface, and some types do an excellent job of mimicking the appearance of ceramic tile and real stone. Textured vinyl is a wise choice because it provides traction. Vinyl can be dangerously slippery when wet.

Vinyl flooring also has a wear layer that helps resist scratches and scuff marks. But it does eventually wear off. The best brands offer guarantees on the wear layer of 10 to15 years, and good quality vinyl should last 20 years.

Cost: $1 to $5 per sq. ft. Installation: $1 to $2 per sq. ft.

Don’t confuse vinyl with linoleum. While linoleum is a similar product, it is not as durable, nor as soft. Its upside is its eco-friendliness.
Porcelain Tile is Ideal When:

  • You want the toughest flooring.
  • You like the look of stone.
  • You want low maintenance.

Porcelain flooring tile, a version of common ceramic tile, is the durability champ. It’s fired at high temperatures that produce an extremely hard, durable, stain-resistant tile that is impervious to moisture.
In fact, it’s so tough it can be used outdoors in virtually any climate. 

Like common ceramic tile, porcelain tile comes either unglazed or glazed. The unglazed versions take on the color of their clay mixture, so they have naturally earthy tones.

Glazed tiles have a glass-like coating that can be made in virtually any color, and can mimic the look and texture of real stone at a much lower cost than stone.

Make sure you choose porcelain tiles certified as slip-resistant by the Americans with Disabilities Act — the designation should be visible on product literature or packing materials.

Cost: $1 to $20 per sq. ft. Installation: $5 to $10 per sq. ft.

Cork Flooring is Ideal When:

  • You want an eco-friendly choice.
  • You want a softer floor than wood or tile.
  • You want slip-resistance.

Cork is made from tree bark that’s harvested every eight to 10 years; it’s a sustainable material, meaning the bark grows back and can be harvested repeatedly.
Countries that produce cork are careful to regulate harvesting to ensure future supplies.

Cork has a unique cellular structure that’s waterproof and compressible, which makes it a comfortable, moisture-resistant choice. It comes in 12-inch-by-12-inch tiles and 1-foot-by-3-foot planks, each with a unique grain pattern of swirls and speckles.
The surface is naturally textured, which makes it slip-resistant.

But unlike other flooring options mentioned, cork floors need to be resealed every three to four years to help guard against scratches and prevent moisture from entering the seams between tiles.

Both natural wax and polyurethane are good sealers for cork. Choose water-based polyurethane that’s non-toxic or has low volatile organic compound content to keep it green.

Cost: $2 to $6 per sq. ft. Installation: $5 to $10 per sq. ft.

Related:

Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You’ll Never Regret

White: Your Kitchen’s Best Friend (And Yours)

Funky Floors slideshow

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7 Steps before you Buy a Home

1. Decide how much home you can afford

Generally, you can afford a home priced 2 to 3 times your gross income. Remember to consider costs every homeowner must cover: property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care if you plan to have children.

2. Develop your home wish list

Be honest about which features you must have and which you’d like to have. Handicap accessibility for an aging parent or special needs child is a must. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are in the bonus category. Come up with your top-five must-haves and top-five wants to help you focus your search and make a logical, rather than emotional, choice when home shopping.

3. Select where you want to live

Make a list of your top-five community priorities, such as commute time, schools, and recreational facilities. Ask your REALTOR® to help you identify three to four target neighborhoods based on your priorities.

4. Start saving

Have you saved enough money to qualify for a mortgage and cover your downpayment? Ideally, you should have 20% of the purchase price set aside for a downpayment, but some lenders allow as little as 5% down. A small downpayment preserves your savings for emergencies.
However, the lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for, and if you still qualify, the higher your monthly payment. Your downpayment size can also influence your interest rate and the type of loan you can get.
Finally, if your downpayment is less than 20%, you’ll be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Depending on the size of your loan, PMI can add hundreds to your monthly payment. Check with your state and local government for mortgage and downpayment assistance programs for first-time buyers.

5. Ask about all the costs before you sign

A downpayment is just one homebuying cost. Your REALTOR® can tell you what other costs buyers commonly pay in your area—including home inspections, attorneys’ fees, and transfer fees of 2% to 7% of the home price. Tally up the extras you’ll also want to buy after you move-in, such as window coverings and patio furniture for your new yard.

6. Get your credit in order

A credit report details your borrowing history, including any late payments and bad debts, and typically includes a credit score. Lenders lean heavily on your credit report and credit score in determining whether, how much, and at what interest rate to lend for a home. Most require a minimum credit score of 620 for a home mortgage.
You’re entitled to free copies of your credit reports annually from the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order and then pore over them to ensure the information is accurate, and try to correct any errors before you buy. If your credit score isn’t up to snuff, the easiest ways to improve it are to pay every bill on time and pay down high credit card debt.

7. Get prequalified

Meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter that says how much house you’re qualified to buy. Start gathering the paperwork your lender says it needs. Most want to see W-2 forms verifying your employment and income, copies of pay stubs, and two to four months of banking statements.
If you’re self-employed, you’ll need your current profit and loss statement, a current balance sheet, and personal and business income tax returns for the previous two years.
Consider your financing options. The longer the loan, the smaller your monthly payment. Fixed-rate mortgages offer payment certainty; an adjustable-rate mortgage offers a lower monthly payment. However, an adjustable-rate mortgage may adjust dramatically. Be sure to calculate your affordability at both the lowest and highest possible ARM rate.

More from HouseLogic

Learn how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages can help you save on financing
Learn more about the costs of homeownership

Other web resources

Homebuyer counseling resources

Get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has thrice survived the homebuying process. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.
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FHA Changes on FHA 203k Renovations

FHA Changes – January 1, 2014 – Perhaps the most notable FHA change we have seen in years will occur Jan. 1, 2014. The maximum loan limit for FHA loans in Jacksonville, FL (and surrounding counties) will be lowered to $304,500. The counties include Duval, Clay, Saint Johns, Nassau and Baker. NOTE – This goes into effect with FHA case numbers assigned after Dec. 31, 2013 so anyone on the fence needs to make a decision in the next week.

When is the appraisal ordered on a FHA 203k or Fannie Mae Renovation loan? We do not order the appraisal until the detailed Scope of Work is completed and signed by the buyer and the contractor. The appraisal is performed Subject-To the After-Improved value. On FHA 203k you get up to 110% of the After-Improved value which means a 10% buffer. All repairs are done AFTER CLOSING.

How is the down payment calculated on a FHA 203k loan? The minimum 3.5% down payment is calculated off the sales price of the house plus the cost of rehabilitation or repairs. Example: $100,000 sales price + $15,000 repairs = $115,000 x 3.5% = $4,025. A buyer can certainly choose to have a larger down payment but these are the minimums.

While every renovation loan can present a different scenario for inspections, process etc. we receive many questions for the basic premise of the product. Here is a short, generic summary of a renovation loan on an “As-Is” property:

Home goes under contract “As-Is”

Buyer has home inspection, WDO inspection, etc.

Items are identified that MUST be addressed for the home to meet minimum property standards AND the buyer decides what improvements he/she WANTS to make on the home.

A general contractor provides a detailed Scope of Work with line items breaking out labor and materials for each item.

The appraisal is ordered – The Scope of Work is uploaded for the appraiser who includes it in the appraisal and assigns value based on the work being done. THE WORK IS NOT DONE UNTIL AFTER CLOSING.

  • The loan closes. The renovation monies are put in escrow with our draw center. Some FHA loans pay 50% of the costs right at closing.
  • When the work is complete, an inspection is ordered to ensure the work was done in workmanlike manner. In addition, a final title update is done to ensure there are no liens on the property before the contractor is paid the remaining funds.
  • Will Fannie Mae make repairs one of its REO HomePath properties?
    Yes and No. Typically, listings by Fannie Mae are As-Is properties which is why most often we use either a FHA 203K, Conventional renovation loan or a HomePath Renovation loan to address the property issues. However, there are isolated instances when Fannie Mae will address some major concerns that affect the health/safety/liveability of the home. The challenge is two fold: Fannie Mae must get at least 3 estimates before performing the work which generally leads to significant delays. Also, you are counting on the asset manager to decide who performs the repairs and thus the quality of the work – ie – Cheapest is Best. Solution – write the contract As-Is and let the buyer include ALL of the repairs/updates in his/her renovation loan.

FHA 203k Streamline loan, FHA 203k Standard loan, Fannie Mae HomePath Renovation / Homestyle Renovation loan

    • On FHA 203k or Fannie HomePath Renovation loans, what happens to the money for repairs after closing?
      Depending on the version of the loan there are different scenarios.
      • FHA 203k Streamline loan  – 50% of the repair money is paid at closing with a 2-party check to the contractor and homeowner. The remaining funds are held in escrow by our concierge draw team. When the work is completed, there is a final inspection to ensure the job was completed in workmanlike manner AND there is a final title update to ensure there are NO liens from the contractor before issuing the final 50% check.
      • FHA 203k Standard loan – There are NO upfront monies. After closing, the funds are held by our concierge draw team. The contractor can have up to 5 draws on the repair funds. There is an inspection for each draw and there is also a 10% holdback on each draw until the final title update is clear upon completion of the job.
      • Fannie Mae HomePath Renovation / Homestyle Renovation loan – There are NO upfront monies. After closing, the funds are held by our concierge draw team. The contractor can have up to 5 draws on the repair funds. There is an inspection for each draw and there is also a 10% holdback on each draw until the final title update is clear upon completion of the job.
    • While every renovation loan can present a different scenario for inspections, process etc., we receive many questions for the basic structure of the product. Here is a short, generic summary of a renovation loan on an “As-Is” property:
      1. Home goes under contract “As-Is”
      2. Buyer has home inspection, WDO inspection, feasibility inspection, etc.
      3. Items are identified that MUST be addressed for the home to meet minimum property standards AND the buyer decides what improvements he/she WANTS to make on the home.
      4. A general contractor provides a Detailed Scope of Work with line items breaking out labor and materials for each item.
      5. The appraisal is ordered – The Scope of Work is uploaded for the appraiser who includes it in the appraisal and assigns value based on the work being done.
        NO WORK IS DONE UNTIL AFTER CLOSING.
      6. The loan closes. The renovation monies are put in escrow with our draw center. Some FHA loans pay 50% of the costs right at closing.
      7. When the work is complete, an inspection is ordered to ensure the work was done in workmanlike manner. In addition, a final title update is done to ensure there are no liens on the property before the contractor is paid the remaining funds.
    • How much additional out-of-pocket cost is there on a FHA 203k loan vs. a traditional FHA or conventional loan? Minimal. The “Cost of Renovation” including inspections, title updates, etc. is financed into the loan with the work. Therefore, the only real additional hard costs are – Slightly higher appraisal fee, increased lenders title insurance premiums and transfer tax adjustments per loan amount.
ex: On a $150,000 home the total difference in out-of-pocket cost might be $260.

Jacksonville foreclosures – Jacksonville Real Estate

According to HUD Many people avoid calling their lender when they have money troubles. Most of us are embarrassed to discuss our money problems with others or believe that if lenders know we are in trouble, they will rush to collection or foreclosure. Foreclosure is expensive for lenders, mortgage insurers and investors. HUD/FHA, as well as private mortgage insurance companies and investors like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, require lenders to work aggressively with borrowers who are facing money problems..

Jacksonville foreclosures homeowner are face with the same problems.. It best not to wait and get farther behind call you Lender right away to get Help they have programs the can help avoid foreclosures on your Home.

Jacksonville Real Estate

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/avoiding_foreclosure