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Tue 20th Apr, 20210

When we think of home renovations, we often think that they are only done to take care of major structural repairs or maybe to make changes to suit the individual preferences of the homeowner. But there is a much more practical reason why homeowners should undertake renovation projects to improve their homes on a regular basis – to maintain or increase the property’s value.


The market value of a property is determined by how much a potential buyer would be willing to pay for it. There are a variety of factors that can positively or negatively affect its value, including its location, the selling price of comparable homes in the same area, size of the home and its useable or living space, its age and the general condition of its structure and, of course, economic indicators. While all of these factors are not within the control of homeowners, some of them (e.g. the condition of the home) are and that’s where there is potential to have an impact on the home’s value.


Preserve Value with Home Renovations

Over time, it is expected that certain components of the home would need to be replaced or updated as they begin to show signs of wear and tear. This is often commonly seen with roofs and plumbing. In order to preserve your home’s value, that is, to prevent its value from depreciating over time, there are a number of large and small projects you can undertake. It is best to identify and address any problems sooner rather than later before it worsens and becomes even more expensive to take care of:

  • repainting the exterior of the home
  • doing landscaping in the yard
  • fixing damages to walls, floors, doors and windows
  • ensuring that the gutters are regularly cleaned
  • ensuring that there is proper drainage around the home


Add Value with Home Renovations

Updating kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, finishes and fixtures to fit current trends in terms of style and or function increases its market value. While tiled countertops and carpeted floors may have been the way to go back in the 80s, a home with granite countertops and tiled floors would be more appealing to potential buyers in current times. Other value-adding updates include:

  • installing an electric gate system
  • improving ventilation or adding air conditioning throughout the home
  • building a covered car port or garage
  • building a deck at the back of the house for entertaining and relaxation
  • installing solar panels to use a renewable source of energy
  • switching to a solar water heater


Making the Best Out of Your Home’s Value


If you have maintained your home or have made major upgrades over time, then its value should appreciate while you simultaneously make mortgage payments and reduce your debt. As we explained in a previous Home Smart blog article, this increases the equity you have in your home. You can tap into that equity to get financing to make further home improvements or to fund other expenses such as medical bills, tertiary education etc. You would also be able to maximise the price you could list your home for if you decide to sell it.


Remember to always ensure that you have adequate home (and contents) insurance to cover you in the event that your home suffers major damage from a flood, fire or other perils. Accidents and emergencies can undermine all of your good intentions to increase the value of your home, so make sure to protect your home against them.


We’re Here to Help


If you’re a homeowner and would like to get started on your next home improvement project, use our online Mortgage Calculator to get an estimate of how much you qualify for and schedule an appointment to get pre-qualified.


Calculate your Mortgage


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Tue 16th Mar, 20210

When we asked our Home Smart social media audience to tell us what the most important factor in the search for a home is, their response was almost unanimous: location, location, location! This makes perfect sense because it is the one thing you cannot change. When you buy a home, you buy into the neighbourhood for as long as you live there. Here is how you can choose the right one for you:


  1. Determine your budget

It goes without saying that the value of a property is largely determined by where it is located so you will need to have to have a larger budget to get into certain communities that are highly developed and well-established. For this reason, the cost of acquiring a home in the North-western parts of Trinidad is usually higher than in other areas of the country. Finding out how much you are pre-qualified to borrow for a home purchase would give you an idea of your overall budget. You can use this amount to search for properties that cost within a range that you can afford.


  1. Property Search

Once you have determined your budget, you may need to adjust the location and type of homes you are looking for. It may mean considering properties that are in an entirely different area than you would have originally planned.


You would probably also need to explore properties other than single-family detached homes which tend to be more costly to acquire and maintain. Condominiums, townhouses and granny suites (a self-contained extension to an existing home) are all viable alternatives to think about if you are restricted by your budget.


  1. Best Fit

Once you have identified a few communities that you are interested in, you’ll need to evaluate them by determining how well they fit into your current or future needs. For obvious reasons, homes that are closer to where you or your spouse works would be ideal but if that’s not possible, easy access to main roads or highways could be an option. If you have school-aged children, proximity to schools and after-school programmes would also be important to you.


Don’t forget recreation; you will want to find an area that is close to parks, shopping malls, restaurants etc. depending on your hobbies. It is also worth mentioning that even if an area does not currently tick all the boxes, there may be potential for development over the years. As we mentioned earlier, you will be living at this address for years to come so it would make sense to buy into an up-and-coming neighbourhood when the prices are more affordable now and see the value of your home increase as new developments and improvements are made over time.


We’re Here to Help

Ready to get started? Use our online Mortgage Calculator to get an estimate of how much you qualify for and schedule an appointment to get pre-qualified.

Calculate your Mortgage


Become Home Smart

Subscribe to our Home Smart newsletter to get helpful homeownership tips directly to your inbox.

Subscribe to Home Smart

Fri 12th Feb, 20210

There is nothing more empowering than the possession of knowledge. That is why we write Home Smart blogs every month so that potential homeowners can make the right choices when it comes to applying for a mortgage to buy or build their home.


We recommend that you get familiar with the 5 Steps to Financing so you can understand how the application process works. It is particularly crucial to be mindful of the qualification criteria as these directly affect the strength of your application. As we identified in our How to Calculate your Mortgage Amount blog, your income, age and current level of debt are the factors that are taken into consideration when assessing your ability to qualify for a mortgage and the amount you qualify for.


This month, we will look at ways you can prepare yourself:

1. Steady Income

Whether you are a permanent member of staff, work on a contractual basis or you run your own business, it is best to have demonstrable evidence (e.g. pay slips, bank statements) of a consistent source of income. This proves to the lender that you would be able to honour your debt obligations since your source of income is reliable. The longer you have been earning an income through a certain source, the more reliable it appears to be e.g. working for 3 consecutive years.


2. The Younger, the Better

The maximum mortgage term is 30 years or up to the age at which you retire which is often at age 60. Therefore, if you are approved for a mortgage at 30 years old, you will have up to 30 years to repay (longer time to repay = lower monthly instalments). That is why we encourage younger individuals to start thinking about homeownership as early as they can so they can benefit from the longer payment period.


3. Little or No Debt

Individuals who have very little or no current debt at the time of application are able to qualify for a higher mortgage amount because their Total Debt Service Ratio is low enough to accommodate a higher monthly mortgage instalment. Your mortgage instalment should not exceed 35% of your gross income while your Total Debt (i.e. the money you pay towards your mortgage, loans, hire purchase, credit cards etc.) should not exceed 45% of your gross income.


4. Good Credit History

Lenders are very interested in the potential borrower’s payment track record. Paying loan instalments, credit cards and bills on time on a consistent basis is irrefutable proof that that you are trustworthy and responsible. If you are regularly late or miss loan, credit card or bill payments, it will show up on your credit history and these remain on your record for seven years. While your income shows your ability to repay, your credit history reveals your willingness to repay (your character).


5. Savings

Although most of the funds needed to buy or build the home will come from the lender, you would still need to pay a downpayment (if required), legal fees and other closing costs with your money. Anticipating and savings for these out-of-pocket expenses before applying communicates your readiness to move ahead with your plans.


We’re Here to Help


If you believe that you have checked all these boxes, then you should consider getting pre-qualified so you can begin your homeownership journey. Use our online Mortgage Calculator to get an estimate of how much you qualify for and schedule an appointment to get pre-qualified.

Calculate your Mortgage

If you don’t get pre-qualified first, then you won’t have a realistic idea of “how much house you can afford”. As a result, you may decide on a home that is not within your price range and you will not be approved for the amount of financing you need. We always recommend getting pre-qualified so you can search for property within your budget.

Become Home Smart

Subscribe to our Home Smart newsletter to get helpful homeownership tips directly to your inbox.

Subscribe to Home Smart