Home Improvement Stores – An Overview

Thanks to the popularity of home improvement programming on television, the last boom in the housing market and an influx of home repair magazines and media, the home renovation retail business is absolutely thriving. After watching how-to design programs on television and reading how-to articles in design magazines, homeowners are rushing out for paint, lumber, wiring and anything else they need for their next weekend project.

Another factor contributing to the surging interest in DIY home improvement are the costs of labor and contractors. As the expense of hiring help goes up, homeowners are increasingly likely to take on a project themselves, thus sending them to their local hardware retailer to stock up on needed supplies.

These same local hardware stores have gone from small shops to major, national retailers with huge chain networks. Examples of some of the larger home improvement stores include Lowe’s Home Improvement, The Home Depot, Home Hardware, Canadian Tire, Ace Hardware, Do It Best and Fred Meyer. These retailers can be found almost all over the United States and continue to expand into Canada, Europe and Asia.

The Best and Biggest Home Improvement Stores

As the largest in the country, The Home Depot is the hardware retailer of choice for the United States. Headquartered in Georgia, The Home Depot employs over 350,000 people and operates over 2,100 stores all over the world, including China. Second only to Wal-Mart for retail power in the United States, The Home Depot is the giant of home hardware supplies.

Lowe’s is the second largest hardware and home renovation retailer in the United States. Focusing their business model on service, Lowe’s takes aim at retaining a local store feeling. The Lowe’s chain began in North Carolina in 1946 as a single store and now operates over 1400 stores in the U.S. The chain is looking to expand into Canada and Mexico.

Another competitor that focuses on customer service and local emphasis is The True Value Company. By concentrating on quality service and extensive how-to programs, True Value is attempting to win over customers from large competitors like Home Depot or Lowe’s. True Value is also unique because it operates as a cooperative, meaning it is owned by its members. Essentially, it is a member-owned wholesaler and therefore is often able to deliver lower prices.

Finally, there’s Ace Hardware. A leader in global sales, Ace Hardware is also a cooperative, meaning most of their stores are owned and operated by a local dealer who owns a financial stake in the larger company

Five Tips For Finding the Best Low Interest Home Improvement Loan

It goes without saying that anyone who is in the market for a home improvement loan is after the lowest interest rate possible. Using the equity in your home is the best way to get a low interest home improvement loan. The hard part is finding a lender that can give you the rate that you are seeking. Here are some tips to help you find the best low interest home improvement loan that you can get:

Know Your Numbers. It is very important to know some key numbers before you start calling around for rates. First, know how much you want to borrow. Next calculate your loan to value ratio. This is the percentage of the value of your home that you are looking to borrow. For example, if your home is worth $100,000 and the overall amount of the loans against your home will total $75,000, then your loan to value ratio is 75%. If possible, try to keep this number below 80% for the best rates. You should also know what your credit score is. You can get a free copy of your credit score once a year from any one of the major credit bureaus.
Shop Around. Don’t just take the first relatively decent deal you are offered. Once you know your numbers, call around to different lenders and ask them what their rates are based on the numbers you are giving them. If you ask the same questions to each lender, you should be able to get a good idea of who will give you the best low interest home improvement loan.
Keep Your Credit Score High. Each potential lender will request that you fill out an application and grant them permission to check your credit. Granted they do this in order to give you the most accurate most accurate quote possible but too many credit inquires in a short period of time will lower your score. So, don’t let too many prospective lenders pull your credit report. Also, try to keep all of your bills current to avoid any negative reflections on your credit score. You will get a lower interest rate if your credit it good.
Choose A Reputable Lender. You are more likely to get a lower interest rate with a reputable lender than you would with a small, unknown finance company. They also tend to have more loan options available to consumers so you stand a better chance of getting a more personalized loan.
Beware of high closing costs before you close on your loan. If at all possible, avoid financing any of the closing costs. It is best to pay them in cash at the time of closing. If they are added to the loan balance you will end up paying more, regardless of how low your interest rates are.