• Summer,  Yard & Garden

    5 Smart Ideas to Refresh Your Deck

    As seasons turn, your focus begins to shift to the outdoors. Your deck or patio becomes your new living room — an ideal setting for memorable moments with friends and family. If you look at these spaces and long for a refresh, the time to start planning is now. You have options, and many you can do yourself with minimal effort. To start, if you don’t have a deck or patio, research materials carefully before making an investment. One prevalent building trend involves making the smart choice toward natural, environmentally friendly materials that will never end up in landfills. As such, more homeowners are choosing Real Cedar because it is naturally resistant…

  • Buying a Home,  Mortgage

    Which down payment strategy is right for you?

    You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders. But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available. THE DOWNSIDE The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your…

  • Credit

    How to improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage

    In today’s world, lenders use many different types of credit scoring models. There are virtually hundreds of different models out there for lenders to choose from. Many lenders continue to use conventional models that don’t provide a score for millions of consumers. That often puts younger borrowers such as millennials at a disadvantage. Millennials are less likely to have long credit histories, and they may only have one or two credit accounts. Because young adults today carry more student loan debt, they are understandably reluctant to assume more debt. While that’s a prudent approach on the part of millennials, it can cause their score to be lower than those with…

  • Buying a Home,  Uncategorized

    Upsizing Your Home

    Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof. Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution. WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE? The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a…

  • Home Improvement,  Summer,  Yard & Garden

    Easy Landscaping DIY Projects

    Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and mixing up our landscaping features. Whether it’s as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well. Here are our top five easy landscaping projects! Create a pathway. To guide you and visitors throughout your yard and link different areas together, install a pathway. You can use materials from a variety of materials, including reclaimed pallet wood, flagstones, gravel, and more to add texture and color. Add a wall or border. Installing a…

  • Selling a Home

    What to Repair Before You List

    When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home. Repaint walls. Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure cover any walls with scratches and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat. Repair…

  • Buying a Home,  Mortgage

    Q&A: All Cash Home Purchase vs. Mortgage

    Many of my clients (especially Baby Boomers who are downsizing or relocating) ask me if they should pay cash for their next house or finance it with a new loan. While the idea of owning a home free-and-clear is certainly appealing, I always present them with a series of questions to help them clarify the big picture. Perhaps you or someone you know may benefit from these as well: How much will you be left with after an all-cash purchase? Maintaining a safety net of three to six months’ worth of living expenses can be a real comfort after you’ve done well on the sale of your home. How comfortable…

  • Buying a Home,  Downsizing

    7 Ways Downsizing Saves Money

    Downsizing is hardly a dirty word these days, especially as Baby Boomers begin to question the size of their home, and more Millennials are finally making their way into the world. Home ownership is a good investment at any size, and if you’ve ever wanted to free up some cash for the rest of life’s joys (travel? new hobbies? investing?), downsizing can be a great way to rightsize your budget. Here are seven ways downsizing can foster a little more financial freedom: 1. Utility costs. If your gas and electric bills have been climbing year over year, consider the pleasant surprise of heating and cooling 1,200 sq. ft. instead of…

  • Inspiration

    Adjusting Attitude with Gratitude

    “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” -Aldous Huxley, (1894 – 1963) English writer Do you have a practice for dealing with daily stress? I thought I’d share a simple and surprisingly effective exercise you can do each day that will not only boost your spirits but, lighten the perceived burden of “the daily grind.” No running shoes required! You can do it without breaking a sweat, right from the comfort of your car, your desk, or even the line at Starbucks. It sounds simple, but it’s quite powerful: Each day, think of five things you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be big…