• 3 Ways to Help Save Up Money this Year for Your Downpayment

    If buying a home is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, it is time to start thinking of saving up for that downpayment. The good news is there are loan options that allow for as low as a 3% downpayment, but typically the more money you put down, the better your loan product and rate. You can start saving up for your downpayment this month with these three tips. 

    Make a budget. Start by tracking all of your spending for at least a month. This will help you get an idea of where your money is going and where you can cut back. Once you have an idea of where you can cut back, make a budget of your fixed and variable expenses. This will help you plan for savings and make sure you stay within your budget. 

    Open a high-interest savings account. Look for a bank that offers a high-interest savings account and transfer your savings into it. With a high-interest savings account, you can earn more money on your savings and grow your down payment more quickly. 

    Automate your savings. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account. This will ensure that you are regularly saving money each month, and it will make it easier to reach your down payment goal.

  • 4 Ways to Make Your “Home Office” Work for You

    Working from home is the new normal for many Americans, but many of us weren’t thinking we were going to need a home office when we bought our current home. We have resigned to using the kitchen table, the coffee table, or our nightstand for our current office space. But regardless of whether you have a designated space at home or not, you can make this space work for you. 


    You may not have a room with four walls and a door to call your office these days, but you need to commit to a space for your home office. Designating a spot will help you stay in your routine and keep your mindset focused. 


    If your home office is at the same kitchen table where everyone leaves their junk, it’s going to make it difficult to stay organized. Now that you have committed to your space, make sure it is decluttered and dedicated to work.

    Check that Background

    If Zoom calls have become apart of your daily routine, then you need to take a second and check the background of your new home office. Do you have a pile of unfolded laundry sitting on the bed or maybe a shelf of empty wine bottles? Keep those areas clear so you are already if you need to hop on a call. 

    Set the Mood

    Working from home can make it difficult to stay on task, so set the mood to help you stay focused. Make sure you have lots of natural light shining in, put on that hype music in the background, and light that candle that they don’t allow you to have at the office!

  • Winter Maintenance Tips

    Winter is right around the corner, so now is the time to get your home ready. Here are some things you should be doing this time of year.

    Switch your ceiling fan rotation. Having your ceiling fans moving in a clockwise direction will create an updraft that forces hot air to circulate throughout the room rather than being trapped in the rafters. 

    Seal your windows and doors. Take the time to caulk around windows and doors and apply weather stripping whenever necessary. This will help ensure your home is protected not only from water getting in but also cold air seeping into your home. 

    Have your chimney inspected. Having your chimney inspected and swept before your first fire reduces your risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

    Trim your trees. Make sure you have any dead branches or limbs that hang close to your home and power lines removed so that they don’t break off and cause damage under the weight of snow and ice. 

    Check for leaks. Disconnect exterior hoses, drain all spigots, and engage the shut-off valve within your home for the exterior to prevent broker water pipes. 

    Service your furnace. Make sure that all components are properly cleaned and working effectively. No one wants to have their furnace go out in the dead of winter. 

  • The Best Garbage Disposal Cleaning Hack

    Do you ever get that funky smell coming from your garbage disposal? It seems like no matter how much hot water you run down the drain, you just can’t get rid of it. Well, I have just the solution for you!

    If you have seen the viral video on TikTok (almost 10 million views), then you know what I am talking about. But if you haven’t listen up…

    1. Fill your garbage disposal with about two cups of baking soda. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
    2. Next, pour white distilled vinegar down the drain a few times, until it stops bubbling.
    3. Finally, empty a pot of boiling water into the sink to rinse down the drain.

    Voila! Now you never have to worry about your garbage disposal smelling of old food again!

  • Why is the Housing Market So Crazy Right Now?

    68 Showings. 32 Offers. $100,000 Over Asking. All Within 24 Hours! That pretty much sums up what we are seeing in many markets across the country right now. But why is it so crazy?

    There are a few reasons that the market right now seems like something out of apocalyptic times, so let’s break down what’s happening…

    #1. Inventory is Low.

    Right now, inventory across the country is extremely low. But just how low are we talking? Well, according to the National Association of Realtors, a balanced market producing median home prices has about six months worth of inventory. Most markets right now are sitting below the two month market. Now that is low! With demand for homes at an all time high and little supply for the buyers, it is no wonder we are seeing lines of buyers sitting outside those just listed, move in ready homes.

    With multiple buyers interested in the home comes multiple offers. Multiple offers drive the bidding wars. Bidding wars raise the purchase price of the home even higher.

    #2 Interest Rates are Low.

    So we know the situation with the supply, but what about the demand? One of the driving forces behind the demand right now is the low interest rates. With interest rates being at historical lows, buyers are able to afford more home than they would have been able to in the past. For example, if you purchased a home for $300,000 with 20% down and a 3% interest rate, your principal and interest payment would equal $1011.85/month. That monthly payment jumps to $1145.80 with a 4% interest rate. These interest rates are making homeownership more feasible for many renters or even those just looking to upgrade their current home.

    #3 Desire for More Space.

    Along with the low interest rates, a desire for more space is a huge reason demand is high. With many families now homeschooling and working from home becoming more of a norm, buyers are looking for homes with more space. This desire for more space has increased the amount of buyers are the market, again driving demand.

    So What Next?

    So what does that mean for the future of the housing marketing? Are we headed towards a bubble? Experts expect the housing market boom to continue for the foreseeable future but aren’t worried about a crash like that of 2008. Many say the protections that would put into place for the lending industry post the 2008 housing collapse with keep this from happening.

  • DIY Ideas to Accent a Wall

    One of the easiest ways to add character to your room or spice up a large blank space is to add an accent wall. While it might seem a little overwhelming to a beginner, there are plenty of ideas that you can easily replicate yourself. Here are just a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing…

    1. Shiplap. While some may think the shiplap trend is on its way out the door, we are still seeing this in interior design. It is appealing to the eye due to the clean lines but intrigue that it adds. DIY this with primed shiplap boards from your local hardware store, a nail gun, and some paint. 
    2. Plank Wall. Gone are the days of repurposing old pallets into a reclaimed pallet wall. Now all you need to do is purchases a few boxes of faux wood plank at the hardware store and some glue. No splinters needed.
    3. Faux Brick Wall. Whether you are opting for the industrial look or a nod to the farmhouse trend, you can create a brick wall in your home yourself for less that $100 depending on the size of the way. You can purchase faux brick panels that attach to the wall with a nail gun. Add that German schmear look with some cheap spackling or drywall patch.
    4. Wallpaper. Surprisingly this is making a comeback in interior design! You can find peel and stick wallpaper at places like Target and Amazon to quickly add your style to any wall. Make sure you sand down any texture first for better adherence. 
    5. Modern Wood Design. One of my favorite trends is the modern wood wall designs. Using thin pieces of wood, you can create a herringbone design, crisp lines, or a unique design all your own. Attach the word with a nail gun and be sure to caulk the seams before painting. 
  • Staging Tips from a Professional

    As you are getting ready to sell your home, you may hear your agent talk to you about staging your home. This doesn’t always mean bringing in an outside interior designer to make your home look like a show home, but it does mean putting your best foot forward when it comes to your homes appearance. After all, you only get one first impression on potential buyers. So here are some to tips from a professional on how to stage your home for photos and showings. 

    • Be Specific about Staging. Not every room needs the same amount of attention when it comes to staging. The Living Room, Master Bedroom, and Kitchen are the top places your attention should be on.
    • Rearrange the Furniture. You certainly don’t need to restage your entire home just be mindful to create good walking space throughout the home. Narrow walkways and tight rooms can make your home feel smaller than it really is. 
    • De-personalize. The goal is to help potential buyers see themselves in your home. While you don’t want a barren house, you do want to create as much of a blank, neutral canvas for buyers. You can accomplish this by removing family photos as well as religious or political items. 
    • De-Clutter. Whether it is toys in the playroom, all your kitchen appliances on the counter, or a cluttered nightstand, try to remove as many unnecessary things from sight. Try to keep only decorative items on surfaces. 
    • Patch and Repair. If there is anything that will stand out to buyers, such as a hole in the wall or a crooked cabinet door, patch it or repair it before photos or showings. Small things like those can cause buyers to wonder what bigger things are wrong with the home. 
    • Create a Neutral Palette. While paint can be corrected quite easily for a buyer, it is sometimes hard for them to see past that when viewing a home. Painting over bright colored walls with a more neutral tone like gray or taupe may help you appeal to a larger group of buyers. 
    • Elevate the Curb Appeal. The exterior of your home is the first thing people will see when they visit, so make sure it is appealing. Power wash your entrance way. Remove seasonal décor. Add some flowers to the stoop. Make people excited to enter. 
    • Brighten Your Home. No one wants to live in a cave, so open the windows turn on the light and showcase your beautiful home!
    • And Finally,… Clean, clean, clean. Clean those windows, deep clean those toilets, wipe down those kitchen cabinets, and make sure those floors shine. A clean home will instantly elevate your listing because no one likes someone else’s filth.
  • Pros and Cons of Selling your Home Yourself

    In a market where homes may be flying off the shelves so to speak, you may be thinking, “Why in the world do I need a real estate agent? Can’t I just do it myself?” While the appeal of not having to pay a commission to an agent to sell your home may be incredibly attractive, there are pros and cons to think about if you are considering selling your home yourself. 

    PRO. You are in control. Everything from how your home is marketed to how the contract is written, you have full control in the matter.  

    CON. You won’t have professional guidance. There is much to be said about the best way to price, market, and negotiate a sale, and unless you were a real estate agent in the past, you probably do not have this knowledge. 

    PRO. You know your home well. No one can sell the home like you do because no one knows the home quite like you. 

    CON. You won’t have professional marketing. From professional photography and marketing campaigns, to the MLS and Association Networks, real estate agents without a doubt can have a more aggressive marketing strategy than the layman.

    PRO. Low inventory means buyers may be looking at FSBOs. When inventory is low, buyers begin to look at For Sale By Owners. This could mean more attention to your home and a quicker sale.

    CON. FSBOs typically have a slower sale. Real estate agents have one job – to sell your home. So likely they are going to speed along the process of getting your home sold.

    PRO. You don’t have to pay a listing agent commission. While a buyer’s agent who bring you a sold buyer may ask that you pay them a commission, you would not have to pay a listing agent saving you thousands of dollars. 

    CON. FSBOs usually have a lower sales price. Many times, real estate agents are worth their commission. Studies have shown that listing with an agent can bring a higher purchase price, usually enough to cover the commission and then some.

  • 9 Ways to Save for your Down Payment or Remodel

    Saving for the down payment on a home is probably the most overwhelming thing first time homebuyers have to worry about. Sometimes, it can even seem impossible. Here are a few ideas to help build that new home account and get you closer to your goal.

    1. Get a Better Savings Account.

    Most savings account these days are very low yield. However, you can find some account with a better interest rate at credit unions or perhaps a CD.

    2. Get a Side Hustle.

    Whether it is writing a blog, starting an Etsy business, or joining a network marketing company, there are plenty of ways to make extra money outside of your day job. Save every penny you earn from your side hustle in a separate account specifically for your new home. 

    3. Sell Stuff You Don’t Use.

    If you aren’t using it, why not make some extra money from it. Hold a garage sale, sell on Facebook Marketplace, or use one of the countless apps. 

    4. Stop Impulse Buying.

    Don’t let those checkout line items or the ads on Social Media sway you into those impulse buys. 

    5. Keep Eating Out to Once a Week or Less.

    A $10 – $20 meal may not seem that bad, but it can add up especially with delivery fees and tips. Buy in bulk, eat at home, and save up those fees.

    6. Pay Off High Interest Debt First.

    Those high interest credit cards are costing you more monthly than your other loans, and simply paying the minimum will not get you very far. Focus on paying off cards with higher interest rates first, then put that payment towards your other cards. You will be surprised the amount of money you can save when you aren’t paying 25% interest on credit cards. 

    7. Get a Roommate to Split Rent.

    It may not seem ideal, but if you have the ability to share rent for a while, the sacrifice may pay off immensely.

    8. Unsubscribe to Anything Costing You Unnecessary Money.

    Many of us probably have subscriptions out there that we will never use. However, since they are on autopay, we probably haven’t thought twice about them. Conduct an audit of your subscriptions and cancel any that you are not currently using or are not necessary.

    9. Look at First Time Homebuyer Grants. 

    There are countless programs out there offering assistance to first time homebuyers. Do some research into what programs are available to you or reach out to a home lender who is fluent in these types of grant and loan programs. 

  • A Quick Guide to Tiling

    Installing Tile may seem like an overwhelming project for a new homeowner and DIYer, but it isn’t as complicated as it may seem. Whether you are looking to add a backsplash, redo a shower, or replace linoleum flooring with large floor tiles, this quick how to guide can help you make that dream a reality without hiring it out.

    1. Prep the surface. If you currently have tile, linoleum, carpet, or some other material on the surface, remove it. If it is tile you are removing, you may need to replace the drywall or backer board below the tile as mortar is not easy to remove. You can find simple how to videos on how to do this. For floor and shower tile, add backer board to the surface. For back splash, just make sure the wall is clean from any oils and lightly sand the texture and paint for good adhesion.
    2. Prepare your Mortar and Materials. When buying your supplies, make sure you are using mortar and spreader for the size of tile you are using. For instance, you can you thinset mortar and a small notch spreader for subway tile, but a non-slip mortar and a spreader with larger notches are ideal for large format tiles. For larger projects, I suggest mixing your own mortar as it is easier to work with, but for a simple backsplash, you can buy premixed mortar that is ready to use. 
    3. Set your tile. Begin by mapping out the pattern you would like to use. Mortar dries quickly, so spread your mortar and set your tiles in small sections. Use a wet tile saw to cut the tile. For larger straight cuts, you may be able to use a tile cutter, and for small mosaic cuts, you may be able to use snippers. Ask someone at your local hardware store which will be best for your project.
    4. Grout. Once your mortar is dry, it is time to grout. You can mix your own grout, but it also comes premixed in multiple colors. Using a grout float, spread the mixture at a 45 degree angle ensuring all the lines are filled in completely. Use a sponge a clean water to wipe away the excess. Again, work in small sections and try to clean as much grout off the surface of the tiles as possible. Change your water frequently for easier clean up.
    5. Clean and Seal. Once your grout has dried, make sure you clean it and use a grout sealer.