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Posted by Monica Kavanaugh on 3/31/2020

In the internet age, we’ve all seen dream homes on Google, Pinterest, or Instagram that seem to encompass everything we’ve ever wanted in a home.

Sometimes, obsessing over dream homes can be detrimental to us--making us feel bad about our own living situation or discouraged about ever being able to afford the home we truly want.

However, dream homes can serve a purpose when it comes to identifying what we really want out of a home.

In today’s post, we’re going to use the idea of a dream home “wish list” to help you narrow down what really matters to you and your family in your next home.

Step 1: Start by making a list of your dream homes

This is the easy part. If you’re like me, you probably have a Pinterest board or bookmark folder just for home inspiration.

Put all of the dream homes on your list. The order doesn’t matter, and you’ll find out why below.

Step 2: For each home, write down one or two of your favorite things

Is it the square footage? The location that’s perfect for your commute or for trips to your favorite places? Or, is it just the color scheme of the kitchen?

No aspect is too small for this list--it all depends on what you like, not what the price tag is.

Step 3: Go over your list and try to put the items in order of how much they matter to you.

An example would be:

  1. A cheerful, bright colored kitchen

  2. A cozy office to wok quietly in

  3. A two-car garage

  4. A playroom for the kids

  5. A location that’s close to the water

Looking over these five things, there are only two items that can’t be found in most houses, a two-car garage and a location that’s near the water. And, this house-hunter didn’t even list those items as the most important.

So, what can we learn from this exercise? Oftentimes, the things we’re looking for the most in a home can be things that we can do later, like interior decorating or designating spare rooms to serve as an office or playroom.

Step 4: Use your top 3 when house hunting

Now that you have the top three things that you’d find in your dream home, take this list with you on your house hunt. Try to seek out a home that has a combination of these items and one that will be the most practical for your family.

You might find that these conveniences, such as being closer to your work for a shorter commute, will pay off in the long run, as they’ll let you spend more time with our family and make each day a little bit easier.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Monica Kavanaugh on 3/24/2020

While buying a home is a huge decision that should entail a lot of planning and preparation, applying for a mortgage can be surprisingly easy. Just like with other lenders and creditors, a mortgage lender will want to know that letting you borrow money will be a safe investment. Applying for a mortgage is all about ensuring just that.

In today’s post, we’re going to breakdown the home loan application process to help you have the best chances at a smooth and successful mortgage approval. We’ll also define some of the common terms used in mortgages that might leave you scratching your head so you have a better idea of what your options are.

Prequalification and Preapproval

Getting prequalified and preapproved for a mortgaged can both be helpful steps toward securing your home loan. The two terms mean two entirely different things, however.

In order to be prequalified for a mortgage, you typically need to only fill out a simple form (sometimes directly through a lender’s website). On this form, you won’t need to provide specifics or official documents.

Why is this process so simple? Well, that’s because getting prequalified for a loan doesn’t ensure that you’ll actually receive one. Rather, it is simply the first step toward finding out what type of mortgage and interest rates you could receive.

The next step after prequalification is preapproval. To get preapproved, you’ll have to fill out an official mortgage application. Your lender of choice will request a few pieces of information from you, including tax returns, proof of employment for the last two years, and a list of your debts. The lender will also perform a credit check to determine your loan eligibility.

Credit report

At this phase, lenders will also run your credit report. This is a type of “hard credit inquiry” that details your payment history, the number of accounts you have open, and other factors that help make up your credit score.

To secure the lowest interest rate possible, it helps to have a high credit score. So, in the years and months leading up to your mortgage application, focusing on building credit will pay off.

To increase your credit score, you’ll need to focus on paying your bills on time each month. You should also avoid opening new accounts within a few months of applying for a mortgage because this will count as a new credit inquiry. New credit inquiries--including applying for a mortgage--lower your score temporarily, so it’s best to avoid them when possible.

Additional paperwork required for mortgage applications

Not every mortgage application will be the same. Depending on the type of income you receive, you may need to provide different forms of income verification.

Each person will also have to claim different debts and assets. When buying a home with a spouse or partner, it’s important to consider your debts, assets, and credit scores to determine if it’s better to apply jointly or separately.





Posted by Monica Kavanaugh on 3/17/2020


 Photo by P_Kennedy123 via Pixabay

The word is out! Tile is back, and we couldn't be happier. No other medium finishes the look of a kitchen like a tile backsplash. And regardless of your skill level, with a little patience, almost anyone can create a stunning tile backsplash. Here's how it's done!

What you'll need

  • Tile of choice
  • Grout
  • Trowel
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Level 
  • Rubber float
  • Sponge
  • 1X4" ledger board
  • Spacers 

Choose your tile

Tiles come in all sizes, mediums and configurations. When choosing a tile, consider how well it fits within your overall kitchen style, any maintenance requirements and installation difficulty level.

Some materials include:

  • Natural stone
  • Ceramic
  • Concrete
  • Stainless steel
  • Glass

If you're looking for less of a challenge or are short on time, you can take shortcuts and still create a durable and beautiful backsplash you'll love. Look for tiles that are peel & stick such as subway tiles or groupings of small tiles bound together in a grid. 

Prep the area

Look under cabinets and across the wall to see if dust, grease or cobwebs linger. You'll want those out of your way before you begin. Let the wall dry entirely if you need to use a damp cloth.

If the backsplash isn't resting against the back of a countertop, use your level to align and nail a temporary 1X4" board to the wall to support the lowest layer of tiles while they cure. 

*Pro tip* Read instructions provided by the tile manufacturer. They may have additional prep and installation advice specific to their product. Don't ignore it!

Plan your layout

Before you lay a single drop of mortar, plan and measure. Make sure you have the right number of tiles, including cut half tiles, if necessary.

Mix & apply the mortar

Always start at the bottom and work your way up, leaving 1/8 inch gap at the bottom to allow for expansion. Apply the thin-set with the trowel in a wavy motion, covering only a small section at a time.

Then begin placing your tiles with a slight twist to engrain the adhesive. Use your rubber float to press down on tiles evenly and then add a spacer between each to both hold them in place and ensure they're equally set apart. Repeat until your entire tile backsplash is in place.

Set & grout

Let the backsplash cure for at least 24 hours from the moment you set the last tile. Then remove your spacers and mix up your grout. Completely cover the tiles, ensuring it works its way between them. After 10 minutes, clean the surfaces of your tiles with a moist sponge, leaving the grout behind.

And you've just created a tile backsplash. For more fun and affordable ways to enhance your home, follow our blog.




Tags: kitchen   diy   home improvement  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Monica Kavanaugh on 3/10/2020

If you work from home part or all of the time, chances are you have a specific place in your house where you go to work to be free from distraction.

Many people spend a lot of time thinking about the decor of their home office. They decide how much light they want to let in, what they need on their desk, and which distractions to keep out of the room entirely.

Surprisingly few people, however, consider the ergonomics of their home office.

What is ergonomics?

Simply stated, ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in the workplace. When it comes to office work or working at home, that means studying things like posture, desk height, eye strain, and much more.

In this article, we’ll talk about some ways you can improve the ergonomics of your home office to prevent injury and to make your office a more productive and less stressful place to work.

Choosing a desk chair

Let’s begin with one of the most common complaints in offices and home offices around the world: chairs.

You could spend several hundred dollars on an ergonomic office chair. But in reality it only needs to meet a few criteria that you can often find in inexpensive computer chairs. When buying a chair, look for the following:

  • Lower back support what will help you keep a straight spine

  • Adjustable heights for the chair, the backrest, and the arm rests

  • A firm, but comfortable cushion that you won’t slide down on

Picking the right desk

The most important ergonomic factor of a desk is that you can easily fit your legs under it and don’t have to crane over it to write.

Regardless of where you keep your keyboard, it will help if your arms can fall on it naturally and at a close to ninety-degree angle.

Screen height and distance

The vast majority of work performed at home is done with the use of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

Ideally, the height of your screen should be adjusted so that you can view it straight on, and not have to look down or up at it. This will help protect your neck from strain.

For eye strain, it’s a good idea to keep the monitor a couple feet from your eyes and to adjust the brightness so that it’s easy to read but not too bright.

The best thing you can do to avoid headaches and eye strain is to set reminders for yourself to look away from the screen every twenty minutes or so or get up and go for a walk.

Take more breaks

Speaking of taking breaks; sitting in one position for too long can contribute to muscle and joint pain. If you’re working at home, it should be easy to get up and stretch or move around every half hour or so.

You don’t have to take a long break; even a minute or two is sufficient enough to help take the strain off of your tired eyes and stiff back and neck.




Tags: home office   ergonomics  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Monica Kavanaugh on 3/3/2020

Photo by Edar via Pixabay

You’ve been considering an investment in real estate but are you really ready? Putting your money into something you haven’t done your homework on could be detrimental. You may even have all the tools, but are still straddling the fence. How will you know it’s time? Here are a few signs that indicate you have some ways to go:

Long-term Investment Strategy

If you don’t have one of these, you aren’t ready. Although flipping homes and other elements of getting into the real estate game may seem attractive, all the income coming in is tied to you doing “work.” When you stop doing it, the money stops to. An actual investment strategy means once you’ve found the home, did the work and found the tenants, the income continues rolling in. That means your assets continue to grow year after year.

Finances Need Work

Are your finances in order? That means you’re living below your means and are saving a good amount of your income. How’s your rainy day fund? If you don’t have at least three, six to a year’s worth of expenses that you can quickly get to, investing in something that may not give you a return on your investment doesn’t really make sense.

Insurance

Do you have insurance? It’s important to have at least a term life insurance policy that’s 10 to 12 times your income.

Credit

Unless you have the cash to pay for your investments outright, you need to have a high enough credit rating that allows you to get the financing you’ll need. While your credit doesn’t have to be perfect, it should be good enough and showing indications of improving over time.

Capital

Capital is the name of the game. You should have access to enough capital that will allow you to secure long-term financing to get those properties when you want. Take a look at your risk profile. Purchasing high quality, low-risk property instead of maxing out the capital you have can make a difference. If you don’t have the capital, you’re not ready.

While you’re giving these areas some thought, it’s also a good thing to look at the market. While there are always ongoing talks about a recession, consider the stock market. Which one is riskier? Market stats are usually based on the entire country, but real estate stats are only based on specific cities, properties and neighborhoods. That means even if a recession hits, each property is impacted in its own way.

It’s time to study how to beat a recession if one hits and know the fundamentals. If you have a property that provides significant cash flow now, chances are it will during a recession as well. If you have quality properties in high-demand areas, you can withstand a market downturn. The goal is to make a recession an opportunity if you can. It's time to get things in order. If you purchase the right property in the right area, you’ll be just fine. 




Tags: Real Estate   Investing   market  
Categories: Uncategorized