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Putting Down Roots and Growing: How a Renovation Loan Turned a House into a Dream Home

Partnering with Lindsey Koontz at Space and Company and David Frankel at Guaranteed Rate Philadelphia, the Micuccis found their new home in Port Richmond.

Kristen and Joe Micucci were loving life in Port Richmond. Having put down roots five years ago when their son Michael was born, they had everything they could have wanted: friends, quality childcare, a burgeoning neighborhood, and a home that was conveniently located near I-95 for Joe’s commute. But with a new baby on the way, their house became too small. As with so many young city families, they faced a tough choice—leave their beloved neighborhood, or make do with less-than-perfect housing stock.


Determined to not leave the city for the suburbs, the Micuccis turned to Lindsey Koontz at Space and Company to find a home that met their criteria. Their initial search did not yield a move-in ready house within their budget that fit their needs; they had found one three-bedroom house in Port Richmond which was what they needed in terms of size, but “outdated” and lacking in certain features they wanted. However, the price of the home was significantly less than the mortgage they had been approved for. It was then that Lindsey suggested a renovation loan.


Partnering with David Frankel and his team at Guaranteed Rate Philadelphia, their journey began. “Lindsey and David’s team made the closing process simple and pain-free; all we did was show up to provide signatures and they took care of the rest,” describes Joe. With a renovation loan, a homebuyer can borrow money based on the estimated value of the home after the needed improvements, and build that into their mortgage.


“So that left space for them to buy the house and do renovations and get a loan for the same amount that they ultimately would have gotten if they had bought something that was already finished. But they were able to get into a bigger house than they were in, and make customizations like add a bathroom and pick out the kitchen that they wanted,” Koontz explained.


Repairs and renovations must be done by licensed contractors, and the closing period can be significantly longer than a traditional mortgage.


“It has to be the right person and it has to be the right property,” Frankel advises. “I think if more people knew about them, they would do them.”


Koontz and Frankel have encountered other clients who have used these loans to make even more dramatic changes—including adding an extra story to their home. “It’s ‘renovation’ meaning that it’s not ground-up construction, but you can really change a property, and customize it to make it what you want,” Frankel explains. He adds that this is a wonderful option for homebuyers who may believe their only options are buying something “as is” or totally renovated:  “There’s something in between where they have opportunities to buy houses that other people may not want to buy, they may not see the potential, and they don’t have to settle for something that’s already done.”


While the process requires more patience and “vision,” as Koontz puts it, the Micuccis were thrilled. “In my opinion, it’s worth it—a house customized with my preferences without breaking the bank!” said Kristen. “Working with Lindsey and David made the process seemingly effortless too. Her background in fashion design lent itself well to the process, as she has an eye for design and the potential a space can have.”


After a two-month closing period and four months of renovations, the Micuccis moved into their new home just in time to celebrate Christmas and welcome their new son, Matthew. The family of four are thriving, and their oldest son started kindergarten in Philadelphia School District this year. “Lindsey and David have played a huge part in setting our family up for success in our new home,” Joe says. “We could not be happier.”

… and After!

Contributing Writer