January 18 2019

4 Major Mistakes to avoid when buying home

by Erin

woman with keys in hand

Without doing your research, it may seem like the only major step in the home buying process is to find the home of your dreams.  There is so much more to the journey of becoming a new homeowner and it can be easy to make a few mistakes along the way.  Here are 4 major mistakes to avoid when purchasing your first home.  


1. Emptying your savings 

You’ve worked hard for your money and worked even harder to save every dime for the ultimate goal of one day purchasing a new home.  Where would your finances be if every penny went into your new home purchase and you were forced to begin the process of saving all over again?


Be sure to save enough money to cover both the expected and unexpected costs of buying your first home.  This will include your down payment, closing costs, moving expenses, and cost of possible repairs. Don’t rush the process of buying a home if you are not ready financially.  Take your time to become financially prepared and save as much as you can. This is a lifetime investment.  You should be able to have a little breathing room when it’s all said and done.  Who wants to eat Top Ramen in their brand new gourmet kitchen?


2. Not taking advantage of first-time home buyer programs

First time home buyer programs can provide you with so much knowledge prior to going through the home buying process.  It is very beneficial to spearhead the process head first with as much knowledge as possible. Make sure to take all of the necessary steps to ensure that you are fully equipped to proceed in the home buying process and take advantage of the free recourses that are available to you.


3. Thinking a home inspection is not needed

Some buyers want to save a few dollars by not having an official home inspection completed prior to purchasing which in turn puts them in a position where they are actually spending much more than they initially expected. 

Real estate agents see this type of thing happening more often than not.  In today’s climate, many home buyers are more interested in closing in on a home before someone else does.

Avoid falling through a rabbit hole of ongoing repairs because you were blindsided by a nice paint job.  Be sure to include the price of a professional home inspector into your home buying budget so that there are no surprises or hiccups on your journey to becoming a homeowner.  Think about it.  You’ll have to get an inspector either way, so why not start off right. 


4. Making decisions based on your emotions


House hunting can be a very joyous experience. You can easily fall in love with that claw foot bathtub in the master bathroom or the stainless steel appliances in the gourmet kitchen.  Leading with your emotions rather than common sense and your budget in mind can place you in a difficult position when making wise decisions.  The home may seem perfect at first glance, but there may be underlying issues that may come up down the line that you may not be prepared for. When making decisions based on how you feel rather than what you know, you may find yourself trying to make your budget fit the house rather than the house fit the budget.   You can put yourself in a bind when spending more money than you can actually afford.  Try your best not to allow your emotion to guide these important decisions. 


All and all, be mindful of each step you take during your home buying journey.  Be prepared and gain the knowledge it takes to make smart moves when closing the deal on the home of your dreams. 

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January 4 2019

2019 Home Décor Trends: 5 ways to revamp your home design this year

by Erin

white kitchen with backsplash

As you begin to set your goals for the New Year to refresh your way of living, don’t forget to include your living space on that list as well.  It’s common to make changes with your physical activity, eating habits, and finances, but leave your living space in the exact same state it has always been. Giving your home a slight makeover can provide you with a better outlook on life and assist you with accomplishing those goals even more so.  Think of it like buying new workout clothes to motivate you to exercise more.  Switching up the Feng shui in your home can give you that same energy.  So, here are a few home décor trends to implement as you step into the New Year.


Change out that headboard with a Canopy 

Enhance the room you spend the most time in by adding a four-post canopy to your bed.  Begin and end your day in a picturesque oasis with only the slightest of change in décor.


Add a backsplash that pops

A bold backsplash speaks volumes in a kitchen that may lack a little flair. Add personality to a minimalist kitchen with touches of color and texture that peek through behind the cabinetry. 


Keep the white space and add a touch of color

All white spaces are still in, but the new addition to this trend in 2019 is including hints of color throughout the space using the 90/10 rule.  Take a blank canvas of a once 90% white room and add in 10% of color in the form of décor, pieces of furniture, or even an accent wall creating vibrant vocal points. 


Put down the paintbrush and add wallpaper

Pull in both color and texture to the walls in your home with the addition of agate wallpaper.  Agate wallpaper consists of an organic textural pattern that is sure to add depth to any room design.


Bring concrete inside the home

This year, concrete will make appearances beyond the driveway and inside of the home in a major way.  You can create a more industrial modern look with large forms of concrete in the form of flooring, walls, bathtubs, and sinks.  If you’re looking to add smaller touches of texture, add concrete pieces in the form of planters, shelves, and even candle holders that still make a statement.


Whatever trends you decide to revamp within 2019, be sure that they reflect your own personal style.  Leave a touch of personality in your living space and allow it to inspire you to proceed through the year ready to accomplish all of your goals.  


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December 28 2018

What to look for when buying a new home

by Erin

keys for new home on table

Purchasing a home can be viewed as a large part of the American dream for some.  You can easily find yourself thinking about the day you sign your name on the dotted line and receive your keys in hand.  It’s exciting to think of what color you will paint each room and all of the DIY projects to tackle. Who can forget the must-have granite countertops and stainless steel appliances? These are all so exciting and definitely a part of the process, but what are you really supposed to be looking for when buying your first home?


Ensuring that your new home is just right is so much more than what you may have pinned on your Pinterest board. Some tend to ask the right questions at the wrong time which can lead to trouble down the line, so here are a few questions you should be asking yourself when narrowing down the perfect home for you and your family.


What is the surrounding area like?


A beautiful home with all the right features may seem picture perfect, but if it’s located in the wrong area it can lead to issues down the line.  Consider factors like nearby bodies of water that may cause damage after a natural disaster or a local bar that might bring unwanted noise and riff-raff to your area when night falls.  Be sure your home is not located within proximity of a busy street or a train track that may become an issue when you’re trying to catch up on your sleep. 


Is there enough lighting?


A home can be staged to look as if the lighting is just right during your first viewing, but when you decide to add some plant life you may find that your greenery may become a little less lifeless in certain rooms. Make sure that you check to see which direction the home is located.  The direction of the home can either leave you with a dark, cold, drab home or rooms that are overexposed to the sunlight and can overheat in the warmer months.  Decide what it is that you desire when it comes to natural light and temperature for your new home and make sure that is what you look for during your home search.


Is the home structurally sound?


No one wants what seems to be an immaculate home to end up actually having a leaky roof or a cracked foundation.  Take the time to look past the outer appearance that may seem to be put together and have the home inspected by a professional to ensure that you aren’t purchasing a lemon of a house.  By enlisting the help of a professional home inspector, you’ll have the opportunity to learn if there is a need for a roof replacement, or if there are foundation issues, poor tiling, mold, and even water damage.


Is the home properly ventilated? 


Proper ventilation can be a second thought, but a very necessary factor when selecting your new residence.  If your prospective home is improperly ventilated, it allows for extra moisture to remain which in turn can cause mold as well as an increase in allergies.  Look for signs as you complete your walk through like bubbled or peeling paint around windows, doors, or vents, which will indicate that there is moisture in the walls and ceiling.  Taking these precautions will be very helpful when deciding on whether or not to purchase a particular home.


Take the time to investigate and look past the typical home staging tactics to uncover any issues that may not be visible to the naked eye.  Inquire and do your research along with enlisting the help of a professional.  All in all, ensure that you are not approaching the walkthrough of your next home as if you’re sightseeing; only appreciating its charming features.  Make sure you ask all of the right questions to get your dime’s worth of the “American dream.”


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December 21 2018

5 Budget Friendly Home Staging Tips to Boost Home Sales

by Erin

master bedroom

Every detail counts when it comes to selling your home. It always helps to be intentional about making your home appealing to potential home buyers. Of course, it always benefits your pockets even more when you can save a few dollars while doing so. Here are 5 budget friendly home staging tips to help boost the sale of your home.

Ensure your home consists of unisex décor throughout

You never who may show up at your door when it’s time for your first open house. Your home should appeal to buyers of both sexes. A home plastered in bubblegum pink might not appeal to everyone that walks through the door. Take the time out to remove certain features that come off as too gender-specific. Paint your walls a neutral color and choose décor and accessories that not only match but complement the design scheme as a whole. Allow potential homebuyers to use their imagination as they walk through the home so that they can see themselves decorating to their liking.

Update your outdated fireplace

The fireplace can be one of those features of your home that can easily be overlooked but can also be a top feature for those looking to buy. At first thought, updating your fireplace may sound time consuming and maybe even expensive, but don’t fret! It’s not as bad as you think. Take the time to remove the fireplace screen and wipe it down really well. After that, grab some soap and water and give the fireplace a much needed scrub. You can spruce up the bricks by grabbing a stone color enhancer to polish them and give them a little shine. Lastly, pick up a can of heat-resistant spray paint in a color that compliments your décor and go to town on the screen you wiped down. A quick coat of paint makes all of the difference. Before you know it, you won’t even recognize your old fireplace and it’ll be a hot selling point.

Update your appliances without the expense

Stainless steel appliances are on almost everyone’s checklist when on the search for a new home. Take your outdated appliances to the next level while on the budget. Don’t worry about purchasing a new dishwasher just for looks. Remove the front panels and clean them. Then pop on a stainless steel stick-on covering after cutting it to size. There you go. Good as new for about 20 bucks!

Make your space a blank canvas and get rid of the clutter

It makes it much more difficult to imagine how you will be living in a space when it is filled with clutter. It can add frustration to the decision making process if buyers cannot see the space entirely. Before showing your home, take the time to declutter and pack up any unnecessary items and even furniture that is taking up space.  The goal is to allow the potential home buyer to see themselves living in your home. Pack up your family photos and put away any keepsakes or memorabilia. Transform any areas of the rooms that heavily themed into more neutral spaces. You want to provide the home buyer with a blank canvas.

Do not neglect the outer appearance

The outside of your home is the very first thing buyers see either online or in person. You want to make sure that you’re offering curb appeal when placing your home up for sale. Plant a few flowers near the entrance way to give a more welcoming and homey feel. Make sure the yard is groomed at all times. No one wants to look at a home with an unkempt yard laced with weeds. Add a fresh coat of paint to your front door and replace doorknobs and doorbells for a more updated look.
With these simple tips, you’re sure to score a sale without breaking the bank.

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July 26 2018

Becoming Mentally Prepared for Your First Home Purchase

by Kelley

Becoming Mentally Prepared for Your First Home Purchase

Now that you have a better understanding of Becoming Financially Prepared for Your First Home Purchase, it’s time to become mentally prepared because there is far more that goes into curating your dream home than money. The home itself may seem like the perfect option for you and your family but there are several other factors that need to be considered in order to make sure you’re making the right decision.


Create a Wish List


Having the money without knowing what you want in a home is pointless so it’s important to really think about what you want short term and long term. What type of home do you want? Can you see yourself in a condo, townhome, single-family home, new construction, or custom home? Considering the type of home first is very important because depending on your choice, you may be limited on options for the remainder of your wish list. Another important thing to consider is what you want to get out of your neighborhood. Some homebuyers prefer master-planned communities that come with a community designed specifically for the residents which includes amenities and other convenient perks. If you have children or are planning to have children in the future that will attend public school, making sure you’re in the right school district may also be a priority. After you’ve checked off all the tough decisions, have a little fun and make of list of design features you want in your home. Keep in mind that when searching you may not be able to accommodate everything on your wish list so figure out what you can’t live without in order to create a more realistic list.


Where Do You Want to Live and For How Long?


Buying a home can be a great long term investment but unless you’re flipping a resell home for a quick turnaround, it’s best to own the home until you start seeing substantial equity which can take time. This means either finding an area that you want to live in long term or being prepared to find renters to occupy your home so the cost does not solely fall on you. If you plan to stay in the area long term, do some research before choosing a neighborhood by attending community events or visiting restaurants and shops in the area. This will give you a feel for the locals and the tempo of the location. Also, consider commuting options if you have to travel for work. Considering the traffic if you have to take freeways, distance from the airport or lack of public transportation may be deal breakers so explore the options before making an offer.


Window Shop the Market


One of the best ways to understand the current real estate market is to understand what is out there. Browsing listings for sale in the area you want to move can help determine what you want in a home and it could give you some insight on where to get the best bang for your buck.  Take it a step further and tour open houses. The peak season for most areas is during the spring and summer months so finding multiple open houses near your area should be a breeze.


Find the Right Team


Once you’ve determined what you want in your home find a team of professional experts that can help guide you to locking down your perfect home. The home buying process can be overwhelming but finding the right real estate agent will make the experience much more enjoyable. In addition to a realtor, you’ll need a mortgage professional and depending on what type of home you want you’ll need to find a builder. Often times finding the right builder provides you with everything you need for a one-stop shop so be transparent with what you need. Ask and you shall receive!


Be Patient


Buying a home is extremely rewarding but it takes time. Be patient, trust the process and enjoy the journey to home!

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July 20 2018

Becoming Financially Prepared for Your First Home Purchase

by Kelley

How to Become Financially Prepared to Buy a Home

The home buying process is not for the faint of heart so before you press go, being financially prepared is a must. For first time buyers without proper instruction, the steps leading up to a home purchase can seem daunting and overwhelming so here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re financially ready to purchase your first home.


Is Your Credit in Good Shape?


Having good credit is one of the most important factors when buying home. Your credit score helps to determine whether you’ll qualify for a home loan and the terms of that loan including your interest rate. It’s important to ask yourself this question first because building good credit takes time so if there are issues on your credit report it’s time to start fixing them now to ensure your score will be ready when you are.


Are You Financially Prepared to Apply for a Loan?


Being financially prepared to apply for a home loan has multiple parts.

There is the matter of being financially ready to payback a home loan which requires evaluating your debt to determine your DTI (Debt to Income Ratio). Your DTI will tell lenders if you can easily afford to make payments every month depending on how much income is remaining after you have made payments on your current debt.

Next, you’ll need to determine how much you can put aside for a down payment and closing cost. The amount of your down payment has the potential to affect your interest rate and may require you to pay for PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) until you’ve paid for a certain percentage of the home. Closing cost vary on a case by case basis so it’s best to have an extra amount saved and consult with a realtor for a more detailed estimate on how much you should be planning for.


Are You Financially Secure to Maintain Your Home?


Renters are used to paying rent, renter’s insurance and utilities but there’s much more to homeownership than paying the mortgage and home insurance. Again, depending on how much you present for your down payment, you may be required to pay for PMI each month in addition to the mortgage, property taxes, home insurance, and cost of any maintenance your home may require. The days of calling the property manager or owner to fix and replace things are over because the home is completely your responsibility. New homes come with a warranty that often cover problems that arise within the warranty period but as a homeowner, it’s best to financially plan to cover unplanned home expenses by maintaining a designated savings account.

In addition to unexpected home expenses, it’s a smart move to plan for unexpected life events. Securing an emergency fund with at least 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses can be the difference maker in staying afloat in the event of job loss, illness, or other unplanned circumstances.


As you can see, being financially prepared to buy a home takes time but with proper research, planning and discipline, you’ll be financially ready for your new home purchase in no time. Next week, look for Part 2 on Becoming Mentally Prepared for Your First Home Purchase.

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July 9 2018

Enjoy Your New Home Faster with 6 Ways to Ease Moving Challenges

by Kelley

Moving Tips

Now that you’ve completed your final walk through with the builder, it’s time to move in to your brand new home. The adventure that awaits is exciting but the process of the actual move can keep you from enjoying this great accomplishment. We all wait in anticipation for the days when smart home technology offers an option for the home to pack itself but until that day here are a few tips that will help moving challenges seem a little less challenging.


1.    Pack One Room at a Time
Packing room by room is your best chance to stay organized throughout the moving process. Label where each box goes and pack them next to each other in the moving truck or car. Once you reach your new home, this allows for easy navigation of where everything goes so there won’t be a sea of boxes in the hallway for days.


2.    De-Clutter Before You Pack
Before you put anything into a box, take the opportunity to organize your things and finally get rid of all those items you’ve been meaning to donate for the past year. In each room, start three piles labeled “Keep”, “Donate” and “Toss”. This ultimately saves you time and money because you’ll have fewer items to load on a truck and less to unpack when you reach your destination.


3.    Prepare Your Home for the Move
Nothing dampers the appeal of enjoying a blemish free home like moving damage so if possible, prep your floors by taping down heavy duty paper on walkways and carpeted areas. This not only keeps your floor clean but also prevents scratches and scrapes on your floor and furniture.


4.    Move in the Big Items First
Have your new furniture delivered first or pack your existing furniture last. By placing the larger items where they go before anything else, you’ll have a better vision of the flow of the room which will allow the smaller items to be placed much easier. Also having your bed, dining table and couch readily available will offer a comfortable and familiar place to take a rest when you need it.


5.    Unpack the Kitchen Next
Unless you’re a superhero, you probably won’t want to cook your first night in the house but if you do have the desire make sure your kitchen is up and running. Packing and specially labeling a couple boxes designated for kitchen essentials with items like everyday spices, cooking oil, cooking utensils, pots, pans and enough tableware for the family allows your kitchen to be ready for use when you are.


6.    Schedule a Play Date for the Kids and Pets
The chaos of moving can be stressful for young children and pets so call in a favor and let them hang with a family member or friend. You’ll get things done a lot faster without having to tend to the needs of the kids or worrying about the dog chasing after the movers trying to smell every item brought into the house.


Before you know it, you’ll be settled in and looking for ways to make your house a home. Until then remember to plan ahead by preparing for potential challenges and enjoy the process knowing there’s a beautiful home waiting for you on the other side. Happy Moving!

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June 1 2018

Have Outdoor Rooms Become the New Heart of the Home?

by Kelley

Outdoor Rooms in New Home Construction

For many families, the kitchen is said to be the heart of the home but with the greater desire for seamless indoor/outdoor living, the heart of the home has begun to extend to outdoor rooms in single-family homes and even townhomes. Evolving past the typical setup with a few lawn chairs and a grill, outdoor rooms have become just as luxurious as the interior of the homes with the inclusion of televisions, fireplaces, built-in kitchens, heaters and fans, along with dining and seating areas. Some of these features are homeowner additions but for several new home builders fully equipped outdoor rooms are offered in the home package as upgradeable options and some even come standard.


Often with nothing but a wall of sliding doors separating the two, great rooms and outdoor rooms have almost become an extension of each other and have created more livable space for the families occupying them as well as the guest that they entertain. The trend of these luxurious extensions has been seen more in warmer climates but with a higher demand, builders have found a way to make outdoor rooms usable almost year round in cold weather climates as well. Could it be the resort-style feel that has raised the appeal of the outdoor room? If you’re enjoying an outdoor room of your own this summer, you’ll be able to answer that but for those who have yet to experience indoor conveniences in the fresh air, find a builder in your area that offers outdoor rooms in their construction package.

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May 4 2018

A Few Ways to Make Your Home More Efficient for the Summer Months

by Kelley

As the temperature starts to rise, energy bills begin to slowly rise right along with it. Pools are being used again, the air conditioner is on in full gear and of course the kids are home more often enjoying their summer months away from school. The warmer months definitely come with their pros but a huge con of this enjoyable season is the spike in your energy bill. If you’ve invested in solar panels and/or a zero net energy home, you’re probably not as concerned with the spike because your cost basically balance out from all the money you saved on your bill from the rest of the year. If you haven’t invested in some energy efficient features yet and are looking to save a good chunk on your energy bill then these few tips offer simple ways to kick on that ac and pool heater worry free.


1. Install a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats not only save you money they also add comfort to your home experience. Like almost every other modern home feature, you can control the ins and outs of your thermostat right from your smart phone or tablet. By controlling when the air should be on/off or set to a lower temperature based on when your family is at home or not, you can save a good amount of money over the entire month. Controlling your thermostat remotely also ensures you’re walking into the optimal environment when you get home so if you’ve just come from the blazing heat, you won’t have to wait for your home to cool down so that you can too.


2. Service Your Air Conditioner
Unless you live in a tropical setting where it’s pretty much high heat and humidity all year round then you probably haven’t turned your AC on since the beginning of fall. A dormant AC can be subject to leaks and other malfunctions so making sure your unit is in tip top shape before you turn it on can prevent you from having to pay costly repairs or replacing it all together.


3. Make Sure You’re Using LED Bulbs
If you haven’t switched over to LED bulbs then you’re literally throwing money away. Yes, on the shelf LED bulbs are a few dollars more than incandescent, halogen or CFL bulbs but not only do LED bulbs last much longer, they use significantly less watts than their counterparts.  In case you didn’t know, less watts means less kilowatts per hour, which ultimately leads to a lower energy bill.


Most new home builders across the country are making efforts to include energy efficient features that come standard with your new home purchase. If you’re in the market for a new home, check out the new home builders in your area that offer “green building” features.

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January 5 2018

Interior Design Trends We Can Expect in 2018

by Kelley

Home Design Trends 2018

If you just purchased a new home and are looking for some ideas on how to thoughtfully design each space you’ve stumbled on the right page. We’ve looked far and wide for inspiration to see what design elements will take your new home to the next level. Check out a few of the interior design trends we can expect in 2018.

Colorful Kitchens

Long gone are the days of stark white kitchens. More and more kitchen designs are show casing bold color choices on cabinetry and backsplashes. Happen to be a diehard fan of the all-white kitchen? Try adding pops of color by placing colorful glassware on open shelving. If it drives you crazy, you can always put it back in the cabinet and switch back to the classic bone glassware.

Artistic Plants

Live plant arrangements are becoming more of a design must have. Vertical herb gardens have turned into marvelous plant walls. The good thing is plants are affordable and they’ll pay you back in fresh air.

Statement Furniture

Bold furniture pieces will be the focal point of the room. Less is more still seems to be in as more designs feature contemporary elements so splurging on a large statement piece means you’re half way there.

Floral Prints

Yes, you read correctly but we’re not talking about the floral prints of the past. Floral patterns are making a comeback with warmer tones and fresh modern elements.

Black and White

No matter how you use it, this trend just doesn’t seem to go away so if you’re a fan of the contrasting pair it may be safe to say you’ve landed on a classic.

Hope this gives you a little inspiration. Happy designing!

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