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You’re in Luck: Your Guide to Saving Your Green this St. Patrick’s Day

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Today on St. Patrick’s Day,
Two leprechauns sat by the bay,
One turned to the other,
And said to his brother,
“A loan for my home I do pray!”

St Patricks Day dog

We’re seeing green today! And I don’t mean beer. You don’t have to give up your St. Patty’s celebrations to save money for your home loan. You can still celebrate without spending your entire pot of gold. Here are a few tips to save your green this holiday, and get you one step closer to buying your dream home!

  1. Celebrate St. Patty’s Day at home: Instead of going out and spending all your green at the Irish pub, try hosting your own St. Patty’s Day Celebration instead. Invite your closest friends over for some green-themed fun and follow these low-budget party ideas.
    1. Green Beer: The easiest recipe you will ever follow! You will need a pint, beer and some green food coloring (McCormick $3.14). Simply place a few drops of food coloring into the pint, pour the beer over the drops, and watch your beer change colors. Ps. this recipe can be followed for any beverage of your choice.
    2. Leprechaun Cupcakes: Simple and delicious! Throw some of your green food coloring into vanilla frosting, and mix it until it is fully green. Bake some cupcakes, frost with your newly made “Luck of the Irish” inspired frosting, and top with some shamrock sprinkles (Walmart $5.99). Cheap, easy, and Leprechaun approved!
    3. Reach the pot of gold: Gold Oreos that is! Simply spray a pack of Oreos with edible gold spray (Wilton Color Mist $3.50). Place your gold coins (oreos) in a big black bowl and let your guests enjoy the lucky pot of gold!
  2. Don’t want to stay home? If its part of your tradition to go out on St. Patty’s Day, save money by doing some research before you go.
    1. The best trick to saving your money when going out for a night on the town is to set yourself a budget! Calculate an amount of money that you are comfortable spending, and take it out in cash. Do not over spend the cash that you took with you! For example, if you have $100 of disposable income to spend tonight, then take it out in cash and go home once you have spent it! Limit yourself and your wallet will thank you later!
    2. Stick to the deals! Do some research and find out which restaurants/bars are offering the biggest bang for your buck, and do not steer away from the St. Patty’s deals!

You are luckier than the Leprechauns this St. Patty’s Day, because you are one step closer to getting that loan for your dream house!

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New Year, Fresh Start

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As 2016 came to an end, it was time to consider New Year Resolutions. The infamous saying “new year, new me” automatically popped into my head, as society has drilled this concept into my mind for as long as I could remember. But aren’t you so tired of hearing this phrase? Every year, over and over, people claim that they will make resolutions and change areas of their lives, only to let it fall through just a few weeks later.

Let’s vow to make this year different! This year, do not quit on your resolution. Let 2017 be the year of positivity and gratefulness, savings, health, prosperity and accomplishments:

  1. Positivity & Gratefulness: Positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes. This year, let’s try to work on letting stress go! Focus on the happiness of waking up for another day. Whether succeeding or failing in a project, focus on the experience you gained while trying. Take a moment each day and appreciate everything around you – the beauty in nature, the smile of a coworker, a good cup of coffee – anything that you are grateful to have in your life. Say thank you more often. Enjoy a meal with family or friends. Avoid complaining or judging others, or yourself. Focus on the law of attraction, and do what you can to boost your attitude of gratitude!
  2. Savings: 2017 will be the year of saving! Whether you are saving money, or working to save your credit, let 2017 be the year you accomplish this goal! Work smarter, not harder! Open a savings account (if you do not have one already) and anytime you can, put money in it. Even if it is only five dollars, no pressure. If you save one dollar a day, that is 365 saved in a year, five dollars a day saves $1,825, and so on. Make sure to pay bills on time or ahead of time if you can. Keep the balances on your credit cards low, and pay off debts rather than transferring them around. Do not close any open accounts, even if you are not using the credit card, and do not open credit accounts that you do not need.
  3. Health: Work on your overall health for 2017, and no, this does not mean lose 50 pounds. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, as a way to let go of some of the stressors from your day. Eat Breakfast! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; it gives you energy, which leads to productivity. Meditate before bed, and reflect on calming your thoughts. Take a vacation to a destination that you have never been before. Explore your roots by going to visit the place where your ancestors lived. Grow as a person by taking a volunteer trip, or take a “staycation,” and just stay home and watch movies all day long, resting and relaxing.
  4. Prosperity and Accomplishments: 2017 is the year you will accomplishment your goals! Make a commitment and stick to it. Keep track of your progress, and if you fail for a moment, keep going. Ask for help when you need it. Focus on being consistent. Whether your goal is to purchase your first home, start a family, open a business, buy a car, etc. Do not stop working until you achieve it.

Make 2017 YOUR year.

New Year, Fresh Start- to be a better version of yourself.

Person silhouette standing in 2017 on the hill at sunset

Christmas Decorations: How Much is too Much

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The Christmas spirit can mean any number of things depending on whom you ask. To us (and any bonafide real estate fanatic) it’s all about the hidden potential that the season holds for our homes. You see, decorating during Christmas time is a common tradition, one that brings magic right into our very homes. Learning how to add that touch of Christmas magic to your living space will prove to accentuate all the hidden beauties of your home and even give your listing some extra life on the market! So whether you’re looking to sell or simply entertain, we’ve rounded up some of the best tips to make sure that your home is gleaming with joy just in time for the biggest holiday of the year!

Start by taking a long hard look at your home. This may sound a bit silly, since after all, you probably spend a large majority of time in your house. But examining your living space and determining the features to highlight is the first essential step to make sure that you’re on the right path to interior Christmas cheer! Make use of the offerings of your home and play it up to your advantage. Try cautiously using Christmas ornaments on your steps, using the interior colors to your advantage and even adding a blend of natural lighting originating from your windows, as well as from candles for dimly lit areas.

It’s important to make sure that the decorations you add, whether for staging or personal gratification, add an elegant twist to the room without coming off as overbearing. Try to focus on the feeling that the room conveys to the average eye. More importantly, focus primarily on the core of your home, which can represent a number of different rooms depending on your living space. Focusing on the focal point of your home when it comes to your Christmas redesign will prove to save both time and money on your efforts.

Even if you have the saying “less is more” permanently engrained in your memory, skipping out on winter accentuating decorations altogether may put you at a slight disadvantage to others. Even a few subtle touches will help reimagine your living space. This includes the ratio of your Christmas tree to the room it’s placed in. While a tall tree helps draw the eye to higher ceilings, one that is wider and takes up more floor space could leave guests feeling claustrophobic.

In addition, make use of a natural color palette that doesn’t go overboard. Try mixing metallic with your colors for a nice seasonal touch. Above all else, make sure that your outdoor Christmas lighting doesn’t border on over the top. Try using holiday lights to your advantage to highlight the key features of your landscaping like neatly trimmed shrubs or the amazing silhouette of your home.

However, you plan on doing it, simply be sure to bring a touch of holiday cheer to your home with some added love. After all, the Christmas season is all about the magic of wintertime. Happy Holidays!

Christmas

Image Credit: Architecture Art Design

Winter Home Selling Tips

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You’ve heard the fearful warning cries of home sellers everywhere, “Don’t sell your house during the winter!” Believe us, so we have. But does the claim hold any real truth? Both the fall and winter have come to earn a bad rep on the real estate selling market, but the truth is these seasons aren’t the off-season that everyone paints them out to be. With a few tips and tricks from us, you’ll be fast on your way to getting your home out of your hands just in time for the New Year!

Sure, the numbers don’t lie. We’ll admit it; the winter season does indeed have fewer potential homebuyers. But numbers also suggest that there are fewer listings to choose from. Logically speaking, that can only mean that the few buyers who ARE out there have slim pickings. Suddenly, making sure that your property is the absolute best just became a lot easier.

Going against everything you’ve heard, we’re here to tell you that selling your home during winter isn’t impossible. In fact, some actually suggest that your home will sell faster AND for more money in the wintertime. Take Baltimore, for example, where 54% of homes placed on the real estate market in winter actually sold within a timespan of 6 months. However, compared to the summer and springtime, that number decreased to a range of 43% and 46%.

Still not convinced? Further studies have gone on to suggest that a home listed during the wintertime is 9% more likely to sell and at a quicker rate too! We know, we know, this may all come as a major shock to you, especially since it contradicts everything real estate professionals have said about selling during the holiday season. But before you jump on the market, it’s important to know how to take full advantage of the season, which is exactly what we’re here for!

If you’re in the business of selling your home during the season, make sure you keep some of the biggest winter home selling tips in mind to get the most out of your efforts. We’ll begin with the most obvious, make sure your home is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, this can mean making sure that your driveway is shoveled if you live in a snow-ridden area or even making sure that both your windows are clean, especially since these are a major source of cozy lighting during the winter time.

Finally, take advantage of the power of your winter listing and display the beauty of your home year-round to give potential homebuyers an idea of what they’ll be investing in, regardless of the season. Also, make sure that your home gives of a cozy and warm vibe. Make use of that fireplace you’ve barely touched and open up the curtains to let some natural light leak in. Don’t forget to even take advantage of the holiday season, but remember not to go overboard with your decorating.

winter redesign

Image Source: Veterans United

Tips for Mortgage Borrowers in 2014

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These 10 mortgage tips can help you with your mortgage decisions in 2014.

1.Document your finances: Lenders will be extra diligent when underwriting home loans in 2014, as new mortgage regulations go into effect in January. The rules put pressure on lenders to verify that borrowers have the ability to repay their loans.

2.Lock a rate as soon as you can: Rates will likely climb in 2014 as the Federal Reserve is expected to reduce the pace of the economic stimulus program that has long helped keep rates low.

3.Refinance now — if you still can: Many homeowners lost the opportunity to refinance at a lower rate when rates jumped in 2013. But those who are still paying more than 5 percent interest on their home loans might still have an opportunity.

4.Buyers, use your bargaining power: As mortgage rates climbed, lenders lost a big chunk of their refinance business. In 2014, they will turn their attention to homebuyers and will fiercely compete for their business. Buyers should take advantage of bargaining power they gain with that increased competition.

5.Learn your rights as a borrower: Mortgage borrowers will get many new rights as consumers this year when new mortgage rules created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau go into effect in 2014.

6.Take good care of your credit: It’s nearly impossible to get a mortgage without decent credit these days. That will continue to be the case in 2014. If you are planning to get a mortgage, monitor your credit history and score until your loan closes. The best mortgage rates usually go to borrowers with credit scores of 720 or higher. You may still get a mortgage with a score of 680, but lower scores will mean higher rates or higher closing costs.

7.Don’t overspend: Lenders don’t want to give out loans to borrowers who will have little money left each month after they pay their mortgages and other debt obligations such as credit cards and student loans.

8.Consider alternative mortgage options such as ARMs: A homeowner planning to keep a house for seven to 10 years could take advantage of lower mortgage rates by choosing a seven- or 10-year ARM instead of the 30-year traditional fixed-rate mortgage. Rates on adjustable-rate mortgages can be as much as one percentage point lower than on fixed-rate loans.

9.Considering an FHA loan? Reconsider: Mortgage insurance premiums on FHA loans are likely to continue to rise in 2014, and after recent changes, the borrower is now required to pay for mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. Try to qualify for a conventional loan before you apply for an FHA mortgage.

10.Don’t panic:Yes, mortgage rates will likely climb in 2014. But don’t panic, thinking you have to buy a home now to grab a low rate. If you are shopping for a home, do your best to move quickly, but remember that this is one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. Get your mortgage and buy your home when you feel ready.