Ruby Nell Bridges Hall is an African-American activist who became the FIRST African-American child to attend an all-white school in the South when she enrolled at William Franz Elementary School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960. She was escorted by Federal Marshals; Barbara Henry from Boston was hired to teach her when no other teacher would. She was the only child in her class for over a year. On July 15, 2011, Bridges met with President Barack Obama at the White House, and while viewing the Norman Rockwell painting of her on display he told her, “I think it’s fair to say that if it hadn’t been for you guys, I might not be here and we wouldn’t be looking at this together.” In November 2006 she was honored in the Anti-Defamation League’s Concert Against Hate. In 2007 the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis unveiled a new exhibit documenting her life, along with the lives of Anne Frank and Ryan White. On May 19, 2012, Bridges Hall received an Honorary Degree from Tulane University at the annual graduation ceremony at the Superdome. She lives in New Orleans and like hundreds of thousands of others in the greater New Orleans area, Bridges Hall lost her home (in Eastern New Orleans) to the catastrophic flooding in the failure of the levee system during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She still lives in New Orleans with her husband Malcolm Hall and is chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation.
Ruby Nell Bridges Hall born September 8, 1954, today celebrates her 62nd birthday.
When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.
Trying to decide whether to buy a fixer-upper house? Follow these seven steps, and you’ll know how much you can afford, how much to offer, and whether a fixer-upper house is right for you.
1. Decide what you can do yourself.– TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house.
Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.
Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?
2. Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer. -Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do. If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies. Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.
3. Check permit costs. -Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it’ll cause problems when you resell your home. Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit. Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.
4. Doublecheck pricing on structural work. -If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems. Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues. Don’t purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:
You’re getting it at a steep discount
You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem
You know the problem can be fixed
You have a binding written estimate for the repairs
5. Check the cost of financing. -Be sure you have enough money for a downpayment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings. If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:
– Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.
– Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.
Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help home owners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).
6. Calculate your fair purchase offer. -Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.
– For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement.
-Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently recarpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.
– The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.
Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair.
7. Include inspection contingencies in your offer. -Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:
Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.
Radon, mold, lead-based paint, Septic and well, Pest
Time management tools apps: Time is of the essence, and you need to pay great attention to how you manage yours. Check out these useful tools that will help you stay productive:
Rescue Time – An extremely helpful browser productivity meter. Get weekly reports, and see where you lose precious time. *cough* Facebook *cough*
DropBox – Don’t spend time sharing and organizing files. With DropBox, everything is so easy, and you can save precious time.
Remember the Milk – Yet another highly useful time management and organizing app. Manage your tasks quickly and easily and have more free time to focus on other issues.
Toggl – This little app will tell you exactly how much time you spend on each task/project. Learn to manage your time better and stay truly productive.
MLO – My Life Organized- If you are having difficulty managing your tasks and projects, MLO will help you keep track of everything.