In today’s strong housing market, it can be tough to afford that house of your dreams. That’s why many buyers are opting to purchase the almost-home-of-their-dreams, and make the appropriate renovations themselves. If you’re finding yourself in this boat, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1.    Take advantage of purchase plus improvements programs

If you’re putting down less than 20% of the cost of your almost-dream home, you’re going to have to purchase mortgage default insurance through CMHC or Genworth Financial. One of the bonuses to this is that you’ll also likely qualify for their purchase plus improvements programs.

These programs allow you to tie the cost of your renovation into your mortgage, so that you benefit from a lower interest rate on the borrowed funds. One of the catches, however, is that the funds are only forwarded to you after the renovations are complete – and the final value of your home is appraised – which means, unless you have the cash on hand, you’ll likely still have to take out that line of credit.


2.    Sign up for a home improvement credit card.

Many home improvement stores – such as Lowe’s – will offer six months interest-free on their brand’s credit card. This can come in handy if you’re applying for the above purchase-plus-improvements program, or if you will be able to pay off your renovation costs in that six month window.

3.    Think beyond your own tastes.

If you’re renovating with the hopes of increasing the value of your home so you can sell in the near future, it’s probably best to avoid making any completely unique – or “out there” — decisions. Ask your contractor, or your home improvement store associate, to find out what trends are ‘in’ right now. They’ll likely be able to tell you whether more consumers are swaying towards thick or thin planks of hardwood, light or dark stain, or granite or quartz counter tops.