Whether it’s small projects around the house or undertaking major renovations, you’ll want to make sure it’s done properly. Projects done poorly will detract from the appearance, and end up costing you money in the long run. It’s also important to make sure that any exterior improvements are done within your neighborhood association’s guidelines.
Real estate can be a great investment opportunity. Property and real estate tend to build value over time, which produces a return on your initial investment. Another option is renting or leasing a piece of real estate and enjoying the additional income. That said, there are dangers and common mistakes that can easily be made when investing in real estate. By educating yourself, you can avoid them and get the most out of your investments.
Living downtown is great, but all the neighborhoods you’ve looked at are too expensive. Purchasing real estate in an up-and-coming area is every investor’s dream. You get a great property at an amazing price, and after a short while, you end up living in one of the most desirable spots in town.
Our 2020 real estate outlook forecasts a New Year filled with low mortgage rates, tight inventory, and rising home prices—and the latest data seems to support just that.
Freddie Mac’s chief economist Sam Khater sums it up best saying, “The housing market continues to steadily gain momentum with rising homebuyer demand and increased construction due to the strong job market, ebullient market sentiment and low mortgage rates … the improving real estate market will support economic growth heading into next year.”
Here’s a look at how real estate is faring as we head into the holidays:
Mortgage rates dropped.
Mortgage rates dropped to 3.66% this week—down from 3.75% last week and 4.81% a year ago, according to Freddie Mac. On 15-year fixed-rate loans, rates hit 3.15%, down from 4.24% this time last year.
Despite the slide, mortgage activity actually declined for the week. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, purchase loan applications dipped 14% over the week, while refinancing activity slipped 8%.
Existing home sales increased.
The National Association of Realtors released its existing home sales numbers this week, and the news was good. Total sales—which include single-family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops—rose 1.9% for the month and 4.6% over the year.
Those were only national numbers, though. Regionally, existing home sales only jumped in the South and Midwest. Sales fell in the Northeast and West. The number of first-time homebuyers also fell, according to the stats. First-timers accounted for just 31% of existing home sales in October.
Refinances accounted for more than half of all mortgages.
Though refinances actually dropped for the week, they were still 152% higher than a year ago, according to MBA. And in October? They accounted for a whopping 51% of all mortgage loans originated. That’s according to mortgage technology provider Ellie Mae, who reported the news on Wednesday. It’s the highest share of refinance activity since March 2015.
Ellie Mae’s CEO Jonathan Corr calls it “proof that homeowners are taking advantage of the opportunity to lock in lower rates.”
Overall housing inventory slipped.
According to the National Housing Report from real estate brokerage RE/MAX, housing inventory dropped to 3.1 months in October, marking a 9% year-over-year decline. A six-month supply of homes indicates a balanced market, so the news could indicate a seller’s market is on its way.
As RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos puts it, “Demand is strong, due in part to low interest rates, but buyers have limited options because inventory remains such a challenge. As a result, prices keep rising.”
Construction numbers saw a boost.
The Census Bureau released its monthly residential construction report on Tuesday, and it seems more inventory may be on the way for 2020. Single-family building permits were up 3.2% over the year, hitting their highest point since 2007. Permits saw the biggest jump in the South and Northeast.
Single-family housing starts were also up, with an increase of 2% over the year. According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, the numbers spell good news for homebuyers.
“The issuance of more housing permits is a very positive sign and a good step toward more inventory,” Yun said. “In order to better counter and even slow the increase in housing prices, home builders will have to bring additional homes on the market.”
Americans logged the lowest migration rate on record.
The number of Americans moving has dropped to its lowest point since 1947, according to data released from the Census this week. The Bureau’s Wednesday report shows that just 9.8% of the population moved in the last year, compared with about 15% in the early 2000s.
This comes on the back of a recent analysis from Redfin, which shows homeowners staying put for a whopping 13 years, on average. In places like Salt Lake City, Houston, and Fort Worth, Texas, they’re staying put 20 years-plus.
Single-family rents jumped.
Rent prices on single-family homes increased 3.2% over the year in October, with some cities logging jumps more than double that amount. According to property data firm CoreLogic, the most significant increases were seen on the lower end of the price spectrum.
Phoenix saw the biggest jump in single-family rent prices with a 6.7% uptick. It was the 10th straight month Phoenix took the honor. Other cities with big jumps in single-family rents included Las Vegas (+5.8%), Seattle (5.5%), and Tucson, Arizona (+4.6%).
“Original article written by Aly J Yale on November 22 2019 see full article at
Owner financing is a financial arrangement between the seller and buyer of a home. Instead of working with a lender to get a mortgage loan, the buyer makes monthly payments to the seller.
If you’re a real estate investor looking to buy your next property for your business, owner financing may be able to give you opportunities you can’t get with traditional mortgage lenders.
Before you start looking for sellers who are willing to provide such an arrangement, though, understand how the process of owner financing works and both the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
What is owner financing?
Owner financing allows homebuyers — mostly real estate investors, but anyone can use it — to purchase a home and pay the seller directly instead of getting a mortgage loan. This arrangement can provide the buyer with less strict eligibility requirements.
For example, if your credit score is relatively low, you’re self-employed or you’re having a hard time verifying your income, owner financing could be an alternative where traditional mortgage lenders won’t work with you.
For the owner, the primary benefit is getting a steady stream of income (with interest attached) until the property is paid for in full.
Depending on where you live, owner financing can go by many names, including:
- Owner financing
- Seller financing
- Owner carried financing
- Owner carryback
- Owner will carry (OWC)
All of these terms essentially mean the same thing, but we’ll use “owner financing” and “seller financing” for the sake of simplicity.
Seller financing terms
In general, the terms with a seller financing arrangement will look somewhat different than what you might find with a mortgage loan.
This is primarily because unlike a lender, which owns hundreds or even thousands of mortgage loans, a seller may only have one owner financing arrangement. This gives sellers a little more flexibility, but it can also pose a higher risk. Here’s a summary of what to expect with owner financing terms.
A home seller doesn’t have any minimum down payment requirements set by a bank or government agency. Instead, they can choose their own requirements based on how much risk they want to take.
In some cases, you may be able to find an owner financing arrangement with a low down payment. But you’re more likely to see higher down payment requirements, some as high as 25% or more.
That’s because the down payment amount is what you stand to lose if you default on the loan. The higher your down payment, the more “skin in the game” you have, and you’re less likely to stop making payments.
Whatever the seller asks for, however, it may be negotiable. So if you don’t have the amount of cash the seller wants or you do but want to maintain an emergency fund, ask if there’s any wiggle room.
Because a seller doesn’t have a large portfolio of loans to help reduce the risk of one or two borrowers defaulting, you can generally expect to pay a higher interest rate to compensate them for that risk.
In some instances, you may see interest rates as high as 10%, depending on your creditworthiness, down payment and the overall structure of the deal. In others, interest rates may be lower.
A 30-year mortgage is pretty typical for a standard mortgage loan, though you may choose to go down to 15 years instead. With a seller financing agreement, you may be able to choose a 30-year repayment, but the term will most likely be much shorter than that.
For example, the loan may amortize over 15 or 20 years, because the owner doesn’t want to drag out the process over three decades. Alternatively, you may get a longer repayment term to keep the monthly payments low, but the seller may require a balloon payment after five or 10 years to pay off whatever remains of the principal balance at that point.
|Don’t waste hours of work applying for financing—Get matched based on your needs and credit scores. Approval in 10 minutes. Start browsing now.|
Seller financing example
Every owner financing arrangement is different, but to give you an idea of how it might be structured, here’s an example of a loan with a 30-year repayment term and a balloon payment after 10 years.
|Down payment (15%)||$30,000|
|Repayment term||30 years|
|Balance at 10 years/balloon payment due||$149,131.96|
|Total of all payments to the seller||$328,819.96|
Now, let’s say you can negotiate with the owner of the home and exchange a higher down payment for a lower interest rate and a balloon payment at 15 years. Here’s how that might look.
|Down payment (25%)||$50,000|
|Repayment term||30 years|
|Balance at 10 years/balloon payment due||$108,839.24|
|Total of all payments to the seller||$329,497.24|
In the second scenario, you would save on the loan’s monthly payment. But because you’re drawing out the repayment for five more years, the interest catches up, and you’ll end up spending a little more than with the first option.
Advantages of owner financing
There are plenty of benefits of owner financing for both the seller and the buyer. Depending on which side of the deal you’re on, here’s what you need to know.
Pros for buyers
- Faster closing time: Because it’s just you and the seller working out the deal, you don’t need to wait for the loan underwriter, officer and bank’s legal department to process and approve your loan.
- Less expensive to close: You don’t have to worry about traditional lender fees or a lot of other expenses associated with closing on a traditional loan. According to Zillow, those costs can amount to 2% to 5% of the purchase price. That’s not to say you won’t have any out-of-pocket costs, but they’ll likely be much cheaper.
- Flexible credit requirements: If your credit is less than stellar, but your cash flow and reserves look good, you may have an easier time getting approved for a seller financing arrangement than a mortgage loan from a bank.
- Flexible down payment: While some sellers may require higher down payments, some may offer to take less than what a bank might require for the same financing deal.
Pros for sellers
- Can sell “as is”: With a typical mortgage loan, the lender may have certain requirements of the collateral (the property) to protect its interests. In some situations, that may mean that you’ll need to make costly repairs to meet the bank’s standards. With a seller financing agreement, there is no bank to satisfy, and you may be able to sell the home as-is, saving you some time and money.
- Potentially good investment: Depending on the interest rate you charge, you may be able to get a better return on an owner financing arrangement than if you were to sell the home for a lump-sum payment and investment the money somewhere else. And unlike the stock market, you don’t have to worry about the return changing based on market conditions — the interest rate is set for the life of the loan.
- Faster sale: You can usually sell a home faster through owner financing than you can when you involve a traditional mortgage lender.
- Keep the title: As the lender, you retain the title to the home until the buyer pays off the balance of the loan. What’s more, if the borrower defaults, you keep the down payment, whatever has been paid to you so far, and the home itself.
- Payment flexibility: As the owner, you can choose to take monthly payments from the borrower plus the balloon payment, or you can sell the promissory note to an investor and get a lump-sum payment.
Disadvantages of owner financing
While there are some pros to using seller financing over a traditional mortgage, there are also some clear drawbacks that might make you think twice before entering such an agreement.
Cons for buyers
- More expensive: Even if it may be easier to qualify for seller financing than a traditional mortgage loan, you’ll typically be charged a higher interest rate and pay more over the life of the loan.
- Balloon payment concerns: If you can’t afford to make the balloon payment with your own cash reserves, you may need to get financing to cover the cost. If you don’t do either, you risk losing the house and all the money you’ve paid up to that point.
- No price-shopping: With a traditional mortgage, you can shop around and compare rates and other terms on a single home. With owner financing, however, the terms of the deal are set by the property’s current owner. While they’re not always set in stone — you can try negotiating on some points — you don’t have the option to price-shop.
- An existing mortgage can be problematic: If the owner still has a mortgage on the property and the loan has a due-on-sale clause, the lender can demand immediate payment of the remainder of the principal balance once the sale goes through to you. If neither you nor the owner pay, the bank can foreclose on the home. To avoid this, make sure the seller owns the property free and clear. If not, consider one of the options below.
Cons for owners
- More work: While you can close on the home with the buyer faster than you could with a traditional mortgage loan, seller financing may require more work in general. If you want to sell your home and be done with it, the regular process is the way to go.
- Potential for foreclosure: If the buyer defaults on the loan but doesn’t leave the property, you may need to start the foreclosure process, which can get complicated and expensive.
- Potential repair costs: If you end up needing to take back the property, you may be on the hook for repair and maintenance costs if the buyer didn’t take good care of the home.
Different ways to structure owner financing deals
If the owner has an existing mortgage loan on the property, it likely has a due-on-sale clause attached to it. There are some situations, however, where the lender may agree to seller financing under certain conditions. And there may be other ways to make it happen without involving the original mortgage lender at all.
Here are a few ways you can structure an owner financing deal if there’s already a loan on the property, as well as a couple where the seller owns the property outright. As you think about which one is right for you, consider hiring an attorney to help you draft up the agreement to avoid potential problems down the road.
Buy “subject to” the existing loan
With this arrangement, you effectively take over the monthly payments on the seller’s mortgage loan, but they’re still legally responsible for making the payments under their contract with the lender — in fact, the lender may not even know that you’ve assumed the monthly payments.
This means that if you stop making payments, they’re still on the hook, and it could ruin their credit if they don’t take up payments again.
The setup may work if you already have a relationship of trust with the owner. But otherwise, don’t expect many sellers to get excited about this option because of the increased risk they’re required to take on.
With a wraparound mortgage, you’re creating a loan that’s big enough to cover the existing loan plus any equity the owner has in the property.
You make the payment on the larger wraparound mortgage, and the owner takes a portion of that amount to make the payment on the original mortgage loan. The difference between the payments is the owner financing on the equity portion of the home.
The primary drawback of a wraparound mortgage is that it’s junior to the original mortgage loan. So if the owner of the property stops making payments on the first loan, the lender may foreclose on the home, leaving the buyer high and dry.
Lease option or lease purchase
With this setup, you ultimately lease the property from the seller with an option to buy it. In some cases, you may even have a contract drawn up to buy the home at a set date in the future. This option allows the buyer to ensure control over the property, and it can give the owner some time to finish paying off the original mortgage loan.
As with a wraparound mortgage, however, the buyer is still at the mercy of the owner, and if the latter defaults on their loan, the lease agreement will no longer be in effect when the bank forecloses.
Contract for deed
A contract for deed is a common option for seller financing that we’ve covered in detail above. It works only when the seller owns the home free and clear because the owner holds onto the property title while the buyer makes monthly payments.
Once the buyer finishes the repayment term — which can be whatever the two parties agree to — they’ll receive the deed to the home. If they default, however, the owner retains the deed and can repossess the home.
Rent to own
With a rent-to-own financing arrangement, the buyer moves in and rents the home, with a portion of their monthly payment acting as a deposit or down payment, which they can use to purchase the home down the road.
For example, let’s say you pay $1,200 per month, with $1,000 covering the cost to rent the home and $200 — this is sometimes called the rent premium — going into an escrow account.
There are different ways to set up a rent-to-own agreement. For example, the tenant may have the option to buy the home at any point during the lease, or they may be required to buy at the end of the lease.
If the buyer doesn’t go through with purchasing the home, the seller may be able to keep the rent premiums. As a result, this may not be a good choice if you’re on the fence or want to avoid the risk of something changing.
Frequently asked questions
As we researched how owner financing works, we came across several questions about the process and how to know if it’s right for you. Here are some of the more common questions, along with their answers.
Are there closing costs with owner financing?
One of the benefits of using owner financing instead of a traditional mortgage loan is that you’ll save on closing costs. That’s because you won’t have to deal with any lender fees, such as application and origination fees, interest points, and more.
That said, you can still expect some closing costs with a seller financing arrangement. For example, your local government may charge a fee to record the sale of the home, and you might want to get an appraisal to ensure you have the right sales price. Also, there may be a fee associated with transferring ownership of the property to the buyer.
Finally, some counties may require that you have an attorney run a title search before completing the sale to make sure there aren’t any other claims or liens that could come up later.
While the cost of these fees won’t be anywhere near what you’d expect to pay on a mortgage loan, it’s still important to make sure you have enough cash to cover them.
Does owner financing go on your credit?
In most cases, a seller financing agreement won’t help your credit in any way because the owner likely won’t be reporting your monthly payments to the national credit reporting agencies. There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule, especially if the owner is a business that meets the credit bureau requirements for credit reporting.
While there’s not a lot of potential upside for your credit with owner financing, it could damage your credit if you default and the owner hires a debt collection agency, which will report the past-due debt.
There are plenty of reasons to consider owner financing, but if you’re hoping to use it to build your credit history, you may end up disappointed.
Building, establishing, and managing personal credit is a lifetime job for the average consumer. Building and leveraging your business’ credit is often forgotten by many business owners. Business owners who understand their business credit were 41% more likely to be approved for a business loan. Check your business credit scores for free on Nav today.
|Get your full business credit reports & scores, PLUS Nav reports your account payments to the business bureaus as a tradeline. Explore Business Boost.|
How do you calculate owner financing?
The terms of an owner financing agreement will depend on what both the buyer and seller are willing to accept. Once you’ve nailed down the specific terms of the loan, you’ll want to run the numbers to make sure it’s affordable.
Start by using an online mortgage calculator to determine your monthly payment using the mortgage amount, amortization term and interest rate. If the agreement includes a balloon payment, use a mortgage balance calculator to see how much the principal balance will be after you’ve made the predetermined number of monthly payments.
To get the total amount you’ll pay to the seller, multiply the monthly payment amount by the number of payments before your balloon payment. Then add that figure to the balloon payment amount and the down payment amount.
Going through this process will help you not only determine whether you can afford the monthly payment and the balloon payment, but also how much financing you need if you can’t afford the balloon payment when it’s due.
Is owner financing safe?
In the right circumstances, owner financing is a safe way to finance an investment property or even a residential home. That said, not all buyers and sellers are experienced in the process. Also, there are always risks inherent to an owner financing arrangement, even if both the buyer and the seller are acting in good faith.
As you consider both the benefits and drawbacks of owner financing, it’s up to you to determine whether you’re comfortable with the process and how to proceed. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, take time to vet the other party to establish trust, and be sure to hire an attorney to help draw up the arrangement, so it’s legally sound.
“This blog was originally written by Ben Luthi on November 1st 2019 and you can find the entire original article at: https://www.nav.com/blog/what-is-owner-financing-307751/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2019115newsletter&utm_content=https%3a%2f%2fwww.nav.com%2fblog%2fwhat-is-owner-financing-307751%2f “
Know your options (and credit score)
The first step to knowing if you can afford a home is figuring out what financing options are available to you, including what mortgages you’re eligible for and how much you need (and can afford) to put down upfront.
Learning the minimum FICO score required by lenders and understanding your own credit score are important starting points.
Many home shoppers aren’t sure how much they have to put down on a home, what the lender-required minimum down payment will be (it’s not always 20%), or what programs are available to help with down payments, like FHA loans.
Before buyers even start thinking about saving for a home, they should know what their financial resources are and if they’re eligible to buy.
Make enough money to save
With fewer resources to pull from than their older, wealthier counterparts, renters wanting to buy face tough financial headwinds.
According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019, renter households typically earn a median income of $37,500 annually, which is nearly $40,000 less than the median household income netted by households who recently bought a home (of whom the median household income is $75,000 annually).
While there are ways to enter into homeownership without making $75,000 in household income, it’s hard to afford to buy if you make significantly less. “If you’re making $37,500 per year, it’s probably not feasible for you to buy in almost any market,” says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.
While households purchasing homes are more likely to have two incomes than renter households (and thus a higher median household income combined), even two-income households struggle to afford to buy in competitive markets.
Save enough cash (but not as much as you think)
One of the most daunting parts of home buying? The down payment. In fact, two-thirds of renters cite saving for a down payment as the biggest hurdle to buying a home, according to the Zillow Housing Aspirations Report.
For people buying the national median home valued at $229,000, with the traditional 20% down payment, that’s $45,800 upfront — just to move in.
“The down payment remains a hurdle for a lot of people,” says Gudell. “But they should know they don’t have to put 20% down.”
Although putting down less than 20% means additional considerations, such as the cost for private mortgage insurance (PMI), some find it worth the hassle. In fact, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019, only one-fifth of recent buyers (20%) put 20% down, and just over half of buyers (56%) put less than the traditional 20% down.
Buyers are also getting creative about piecing together a down payment from multiple sources. According to the report findings, 34% of buyers who get a mortgage also get help in the form of gifts or loans from friends and family to come up with a down payment.
Know your deal breakers, but be flexible
To get into a home — even if it’s not the home of their dreams — some of today’s buyers are considering homes and locations outside of their initial wish list and getting increasingly flexible when it comes to neighborhood, house condition and even home type.
“I do think people get discouraged when they look in their target neighborhood and they see homes around $170,000 when they’re looking for a $110,000 home,” Gudell says.
Affordably priced homes do, in fact, exist. But in popular areas, where people most often want to live, it’s going to be harder to find that cheaper home, Gudell says.
“If you’re willing to take a longer commute and make a couple trade-offs, you might be able to find a home that is farther out that might be cheaper,” Gudell explains. “You have to leave the paved path before you can find cheaper choices.”
“This blog was originally written by BRITTAN JENKINS ON October 23rd 2019 and you can find the entire original article at: https://www.zillow.com/blog/what-it-takes-buy-home-america-221191/?fbclid=IwAR1HYeOV3FauGQ55MXK1XsnRSCQ3pEQkpD2qfx_rTkM-eZu316mDtS2kZmU “
In today’s market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared. Here are five tips from realtor.com’s article, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind.”
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search
One way to show you’re serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. Even if you’re in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach. This will help you avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home well outside your price range.
2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’
Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like. Qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important.
3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood Where You Want to Live
Every neighborhood has unique charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, take a test-drive of the area. Make sure it meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”
4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It
Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that will best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code doesn’t mean you need to tour every listing in that vicinity. An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”
5. Document Your Home Visits
Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and making notes on the listing sheet to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.
In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.
“This blog was originally written by for Keepingcurrentmatters.com and you can find the entire original article at: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2019/10/21/5-tips-for-starting-your-home-search-2/
“This blog was originally written by Sara Ventiera ON September 9th 2019 and you can find the entire original article at:https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/the-10-fastest-growing-retirement-cities-in-the-us/?identityID=5d4acfdfcb278db5350087be&MID=2019_0913_WeeklyNL&RID=5631581982&cid=eml_promo_Marketing_NonPRSL_WeeklyNL_cons.10932782_2019_0913_WeeklyNL-blog1retiringboomers-blogs_trends
Whether you need to remove a stain or refresh the space, bleaching hardwood can get you results.
Bleaching hardwood floors is a chemical process to lighten the color of the wood. Sometimes your hardwood floors become discolored with age or accidental stains. Occasionally, homeowners choose to lighten their floors in preparation for special finishes, such as antiquing or pickling.
Learn how to bleach your hardwood floors, including what type of bleach to use, to get the job done correctly.
Types of wood bleach
There are three types of bleach you can use on wood: chlorine bleach, “two-part” (peroxide) bleaches and oxalic acid. Not all bleaches are interchangeable. The best bleach for your floor depends on the source of color you seek to remove. The challenge, then, is to know what made the stain and which bleach is appropriate.
- Chlorine bleach: Just like in the laundry room, chlorine bleach will remove dyes and many organic stains such as tea, blood, berry-based juices and other foods. Using household bleach is the mildest form and may take several treatments to prove effective. For a stronger chlorine-based bleach treatment, choose swimming pool chlorine (calcium hypochlorite). Purchase swimming pool chlorine at a local superstore or swimming pool supply.
- Two-part bleaches: While chlorine bleach combats many inks, dyes and organic stains, it doesn’t significantly alter the wood color. A two-part bleach is the only choice for altering wood color. Some stains that do not respond to either oxalic or chlorine bleaches will disappear when treated with two-part bleaches. Look for this type of bleach at your local hardware or home improvement store.
- Oxalic acid: Nothing combats iron and rust stains like oxalic acid. It also removes water stains (which arise due to the iron content of water) and some black inks that are iron-based, although it’s not effective against carbon-based India ink. Even pet urine stains may respond to oxalic acid. You can purchase oxalic acid in a crystal form at pharmacies and hardware or home improvement stores, as well as other sources. Use pure oxalic acid for best results.
Occasionally, you may find reference to other bleaching solutions. Chlorinated lime bleaching, for instance, is often used for walnut in particular. Permanganate of potash, on the other hand, creates a bleach that leaves a residual purple tint. Both of these chemicals are readily available online and from local stores or pharmacies. Simply dissolve the chemicals in water, creating a strong solution. Paint on, wait for the solution to work, and neutralize as you would with any other bleach.
Bleach application and safety guidelines
Before applying any bleaching agent to your hardwood floors, consider the size of the area you wish to bleach and the condition of your floor, along with the nature of the bleach itself. Any bleach will deteriorate the wood slightly. The chemically weakened wood fibers are more susceptible to wear and tear from foot traffic. For this reason, many professionals discourage bleaching wood floors.
Bleaching stains isn’t as destructive as bleaching the entire floor to remove wood color, since it involves a limited area. It’s also much easier: You must remove the finish — either with a stripper or by sanding — before applying wood bleach.
When spot-bleaching your hardwood floor, you may be able to remove the finish only in the affected area, bleach and neutralize the treatment, then refinish the surface and blend it in with the surrounding floor — provided you have matching finish products.
For extensive stains, or if you’re unable to match the finish, you may choose to strip the entire floor before bleaching.
Here are some other application and safety tips to consider:
- Some stains and marks lend character to the floor. Think before using bleach as a stain remover: Is the stain bad enough that you want to subject your floor to bleach?
- Is there an out-of-the-way area where you can test the bleach’s effect on your hardwood floor? If you wish to bleach your entire floor, try it first on a spare board.
- Consider sanding to remove the existing finish. Sanding the wood has one particular advantage: It allows you to possibly sand away the stain, if it isn’t very deep, instead of applying harsh bleaching agents.
- Redwood, cedar, cherry and rosewood don’t bleach well. Some of the more exotic woods, such as mahogany, are prized for their color and aren’t considered suitable for bleaching. Avoid bleaching white oak as well. It has a tendency to discolor when bleached and may leave you dissatisfied with the appearance.
- Use the least amount of bleach possible, whether bleaching the wood or treating a stain. Some woods react poorly to over-bleaching. Walnut, for instance, will attain a green haze.
- When using a commercial bleaching product, follow the product manufacturer’s instructions carefully for safety and best results.
- Always wear safety glasses and rubber gloves when working with bleaching products. Any bleach is extremely caustic and may burn your skin, blind your eyes or damage your lungs. Use with extreme caution.
- Ventilate your workspace. Keep windows open, fans running, and pets and children away from the area.
- Wear a dust mask or respirator when sanding bleached wood or working with dry bleach chemicals.
- Pour a bit of the neutralizer (see information below) suited to your bleach in a small bowl or bucket. Place it near your work area and use immediately if you notice you have spilled or splattered bleach on yourself.
- Don’t cross-contaminate brushes, rags and other applicators. Wash immediately or dispose of properly after use.
- Wash your hands and arms after working with bleach and before doing anything else.
How to strip, bleach and neutralize your floor
If you’re lucky, you know exactly what made the stain and which bleach to use as a result. In some cases, finding the right bleach is more a process of elimination.
Start with chlorine bleach and progress to oxalic acid if necessary. If your wood is finished, you’ll have to strip your wood and then neutralize the bleach.
Here’s how to strip, bleach and neutralize your hardwood floor:
- Remove the existing finish, using the appropriate product: Lacquer thinner dissolves lacquer finishes (commonly used on modern wood floors), while denatured alcohol removes shellac. A commercial paint-and-varnish remover will work on most other finishes. Either brush on the product or lay a thick layer of paper towels or rags across the area and pour on enough product to saturate the cloths. Wait for the finish to dissolve the wipe away as it softens. Use a plastic spatula or wood scraper as necessary, taking care to avoid gouging the wood.
- Follow with sandpaper to lightly smooth the surface and remove any remaining finish. Start with 80-grit sandpaper and end with 120-grit.
- Mix a solution of washing soda — sometimes called sal soda — with hot water in a small bucket. Follow the ratio recommended in the product instructions (purchase washing soda in the laundry aisle of your big box store). Wash over the stripped wood with the solution to remove stripping chemicals and other contaminants. Air-dry before bleaching.
- Prepare the bleach of your choice. For chlorine bleach, use either a full-strength or half-and-half solution of laundry bleach mixed with hot water (or swimming pool bleach dissolved in hot water), until the solution is completely saturated. To mix oxalic acid, start with about 8 ounces of oxalic acid crystals dissolved in 2 quarts of hot water. Continue adding until the solution is saturated and won’t accept more crystals. For two-part bleaches, follow the product instructions, mixing parts A and B as necessary.
- Use a synthetic-bristled brush to apply the bleach. Avoid natural bristles, which may dissolve, or metal materials, which will create a chemical reaction with the bleach. Spread a consistent layer of bleach across the wood. Place a paper towel over top to keep it from drying too fast in warm conditions. Wait 20 to 30 minutes, or as instructed by the two-part bleach product, before testing the wood color. When the color matches your expectations, blot up any remaining bleach.
- Flush the area with distilled water to rinse away excess bleach. Using distilled water prevents water stains caused by the iron in regular water. Prevent the rinse water from invading the surrounding finished floor surface.
- Neutralize the bleached area to stop the bleaching action. For chlorine or two-part bleaches, use a blend of half hot water and half white vinegar. Oxalic acid requires a mixture of 2 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved per quart of hot water.
- Allow the wood to air-dry at least 24 hours. Follow with another sanding, using 120-grit sandpaper to smooth the wood fibers, which are rough after bleaching. Alternatively, coat the wood with a light coat of lacquer and sand through that instead. The lacquer stiffens the wood and helps the sanding.
- Refinish the bleached spot — or the entire floor — as desired.
In some cases, the stain or color may not lift. Feel free to try successive bleach treatments, but at some point you may need to settle for what you achieve. Consider alternatives to bleaching when the results are less than what you prefer.
“This blog was originally written by BY KARIE FAY ON 6 JUL 2019 and you can find the entire original article at: https://www.zillow.com/blog/bleaching-hardwood-floors-230712/ “