Q: I own a house in Fairfax County that is appraised for taxation purposes at $77,480. There's a mortgage of $5,000 that's amortized monthly at $245, including taxes. I have savings of $7,000 and a monthly income of approximately $800.

I want to sell the house but have two problems: the small mortgage on the house, which I could pay off with my savings, and the need to modernize the kitchen. Is it possible that I could use some of the equity in my home to cover the moderization and at the same time simplify the sale? My dream is to get $30,000 loan on the house, use up to $10,000 on the kitchen and invest the balance until I could sell.

A: Your appraisal, supposedly full market value, may be on the conservative side and your house may be worth more on the market. One alternative is to sell it and give the buyers a credit for modernizing the kitchen -- the way they want it. It's a good selling point that could simplify the sale of your house.

If the mortgage you now have is assumable, you can let the buyers assume it and take back a second mortgage. This would provide you with income. Or you might consider a wraparound mortgage, if this is feasible.

You could also ask you county's department of housing and community developemnt about a low-interest loan from the Fairfax home improvement loan and grant program to help you moderize your kitchen. It will depend to a considerable extent on whether your house is located in a county conservation area; loan and grant officials can tell you if you qualify.

Your income is too low to qualify you for a $30,000 mortgage from a thrift institution.