Consumer Real Estate News

    • How to Get Preapproved for a Higher Mortgage Amount

      2 October 2023

      Before you start shopping for a house, you should get preapproved for a mortgage. A lender will tell you how much it’s willing to give you to put toward a home purchase. 

      Having a specific number can help you focus on properties in the right price range. If you think you can realistically afford a more expensive property, you might be able to get a lender to preapprove you for a higher amount.

      Improve Your Credit 
      Lenders base their decisions heavily on applicants’ credit scores. Check your credit reports for errors. If you find any, dispute them.

      Make all your required payments on time and pay down debt balances. That can raise your credit scores and help you get preapproved for a higher mortgage amount, as well as a lower interest rate. 

      Reduce Your Debt
      Lenders look at debt-to-income ratio, or the percentage of gross monthly income that’s used to pay debts, such as credit cards and installment loans. If you have a high DTI ratio, a lender won’t preapprove you for a large mortgage since you might not be able to manage the combined payments. Reducing your current debt load can make you less risky in the eyes of a lender and help you get preapproved for a larger mortgage.

      Increase Your Income
      The other part of the DTI ratio is income. Increasing your earnings can help you reduce your DTI ratio and get preapproved for a larger home loan. Working overtime, getting a part-time job and pursuing a side hustle are all ways to boost your income.

      Sometimes people don’t realize that they can include disability benefits, child support, alimony and other sources of income when applying for mortgage preapproval. If you didn’t count all allowable income in your initial application, you can submit a revised application and possibly get preapproved for an amount that will let you buy your dream home.

      Get a Cosigner
      Another option is to have someone, such as a family member or friend, cosign your mortgage application. A lender will count that person’s income, as well as yours, when evaluating your application.
      That’s a risky proposition for a cosigner. If you don’t keep up with your mortgage payments, your cosigner will be on the hook. 

      Don’t ask someone to cosign your mortgage application unless you’re certain that you’ll be able to afford the payments. If a loved one gets stuck paying your mortgage, that can cause irreversible harm to your relationship.

      Make a Bigger Down Payment
      If you take out a conventional loan and put down less than 20%, you’ll have to purchase private mortgage insurance. That might cost hundreds of dollars per month. A lender will take that into account when deciding how much of a loan to preapprove you for. 

      If you put down more than 20%, you won’t have to pay for PMI. Since you’ll have more money available to put toward principal and interest, a lender will be able to preapprove you for a larger amount. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Top 4 Easy Budgeting Tips

      2 October 2023

      Creating a budget is essential to establishing a strong financial foundation. Unfortunately, creating a budget can be very intimidating for some people. Many people fall into the Trap of feeling like budgets are too constraining or can never be adjusted. Additionally, many people forget to include fun purchases within their budget. 

      Keep a Diary of Outgoing Purchases
      When many people begin budgeting they create an unrealistic goal based on their lifestyle and needs. Beginning budgeters will often only think of their necessary expenses while completely forgetting about the reasonable everyday outgoing purchases. Take a week or two to keep track of any outgoing purchases that you are making. This can help you assess where your money is going. Remember that budgeting isn't about never spending money but only spending your free income on worthwhile options. This can include hobbies and eating out–within reason. Tracking your outgoing expenses can help you realize how you prioritize spending money now in order to realistically choose how you want to spend your money moving forward.

      Track Your Income
      No budget is complete without a stern and realistic look at your incoming funds. Tracking your income is key to assessing What your options are when it comes to your budget. When creating your budget, try not to include things like unexpected bonuses or commissions that may not be consistent or reliable income sources.

      Create an Expense Budget
      Everyone has expenses, and some are more important than others. evaluate your expenses and highlight any that are non-negotiables. These are expensive, such as your mortgage or rent, utilities, car payments, loans, and other essential bills. Once these have been categorized, add your extra expenses like subscription services or gym memberships. Remember that if your budget is tight, these items may need to be culled to preserve your financial freedom down the road.

      Reduce Bill and Subscription Costs
      Many outgoing expenses can be reduced with extra work. Utility bills can be reduced by monitoring water usage, turning off lighting when not in use, unplugging electronics, and using energy-efficient appliances. Cable, internet, and even insurance can be reduced if you negotiate. Often, companies like these are willing to offer discounts to retain customers, so it's certainly worth calling your provider and inquiring about any available deals if you are considering canceling.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Tips to Ensure Safe Trick-or-Treating This Year

      2 October 2023

      Halloween can be a lot of fun for parents and children alike. From costume parties to trick-or-treating, there is a lot to enjoy. However, good safety practices are key to ensuring that the only scary things at Halloween are pretend. 

      Flashlights and Glow Sticks
      Visibility is poor on Halloween night for drivers and kids alike. This is particularly true if you live in a climate where the weather may be cold and foggy. Excited children hampered by masks and cumbersome costumes may not notice cars on the road, and drivers are not used to looking for children walking on the roads in the dark. Make it safer for everyone by ensuring kids are with a responsible adult and are also highly visible. Bright costumes can help, but flashlights and glow sticks or glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces can all be crucial to keeping your child easily spotted and safe while walking from door to door. 

      Well-Lit Neighborhoods
      Keeping your children clearly visible is crucial to their safety But choosing a well-lit neighborhood to trick-or-treat can be a very wise choice. While cars are a definite safety hazard, tripping is also a risk, especially when dealing with sugar-craving kids who are eager to get to their next target. Picking a trick-or-treating spot with adequate lights can prevent injuries and keep everyone enjoying their time.

      Community Halloween Parades
      Many community organizations will host Halloween events on the weekend or on Halloween day during normal daylight hours. From costume parades to trunk-or-treats, there are likely a lot of events going on in your local area. These are excellent opportunities to ensure a safe and fun way to get candy, show off costumes, and enjoy Halloween fun in a structured and secure environment. 

      Family Spooky Movie Night
      If late bedtimes and competing for the best houses when trick-or-treating doesn’t sound right for your family, consider staying home and hosting a family-friendly spooky movie night. Add more fun by taking turns passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. A spooky movie, ghoulish food options and a few sweet treats can make the night memorable for everyone. The best part? If you opt to join community Halloween events earlier in the week, you can have the best of both worlds and keep small children indoors when it’s too dark to walk around the neighborhood safely.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Brilliant Bathroom Storage Ideas

      18 August 2023

      No matter how beautifully designed your bathroom is, it won’t feel like the spa-like setting you crave if it's messy and cluttered. A streamlined and orderly bathroom can create a sense of calmness that will stay with you throughout the day and help you transition into a restful night’s sleep. Read on for brilliant bathroom storage ideas for a functional and fresh bathroom.

      Floor-to-ceiling shelving
      Bathroom storage is often limited to under-sink shelves. Install shelving up to the ceiling if you have awkward or unused corners. Mixing open shelving and closed cabinetry creates a perfect blend of function and aesthetics.

      Custom drawers
      Custom bathroom drawers create smarter storage. Building drawers to accommodate your needs means every item has its own spot, preventing it from getting too messy and full. For example, deep drawers with heat-proof canisters provide a place to store heat tools, such as curling irons or hair dryers, as soon as you’re finished using them. Incorporating USB chargers into the drawers keeps messy cords off your countertop.

      Mini refrigerator
      Whether you enjoy fresh juice as soon as you wake up or use products requiring refrigeration, installing an under-sink mini fridge can make your morning and evening routines more effortless and accessible.

      Laundry drawer
      A built-in laundry drawer will help prevent piles of laundry from collecting on the floor. This type of drawer is part of the vanity and will blend seamlessly with the vanity design. A laundry drawer can help corral dirty clothes without taking up floor space.

      Built-in linen closet
      Building a linen closet in the bathroom means easy access to your linens when needed, and they don’t take up drawer space in your vanity. This accessibility will ensure you always have a clean, fresh towel.

      Decant everything
      Decanting all your visible products into clear or uniform containers will create a clean, streamlined effect. It will help to eliminate visual clutter, helping your bathroom feel more zen and spa-like.

      Hooks, baskets and shelves
      These smaller storage solutions are a low-effort, high-impact way to help reduce clutter. Hanging a few additional hooks can help contain robes or towels, while extra baskets and shelves can store miscellaneous clothes and toiletries.

      Easy access to daily products
      While keeping everything concealed and out of the way creates a serene, calm and clean space, some items you use every day are easier to access immediately. Keeping a small tray on the counter with the few things you use daily can make it easier to access them while also keeping them corralled.

      Built-in stools
      Children’s bathrooms can quickly fill up with miscellaneous items, toys and clothes. Stools are often a must-have in children’s bathrooms, but they are one more item that takes up space. Pull-out stools that are built into the vanity resemble a drawer, but when they pull out, they become a sturdy stool for your child to reach the sink. Once your children are tall enough, these stools can be replaced with a regular drawer.

      Keeping your bathroom clean, clear and clutter-free creates a serene, spa-like space to unwind every evening and can help you start your day with a clear mind. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Staying Organized While Moving During Back-to-School Season

      18 August 2023

      Back-to-school season is a busy time and often means frantically gathering school supplies and clothes, making appointments and trying to get some organizational systems underway. It’s also a common time to move, as households move and settle into their new homes before the new school year starts. 

      With so many moving pieces, staying organized is essential to keeping your sanity as you create new routines. If you’re moving during the start of a new school year, read on for ways to stay organized and help reduce some of the chaos.

      Eliminate before you move
      When you’re moving, it can be easy to pack everything up instead of going through your items and determining what can stay and leave. While it takes more work on the front end to identify the things you can donate or throw out, it will be worth it when you move into your new home and don't have to face that task. Editing down your belongings also means fewer items to pack.

      Prioritize areas to organize
      The start of the school year often means you’re extra motivated to have organizational systems and processes in place. When you move into a new house, prioritize the areas of the home that will make navigating the school day easier. Some common areas include:

      • Mudroom: The mudroom is the first entry point after a long day of school, work, sports and activities. It’s the place that corrals backpacks, coats, shoes, boots and all the miscellaneous items that inevitably end up coming home. Establish a system in the mudroom to keep this space running efficiently. Create a space for dirty shoes, wet rain boots and muddy uniforms.
      • Command center: A command center with a calendar, dry-erase board, bulletin board, charging station and a basket or drawer to collect paperwork will help keep sports schedules, permission slips and school calendars in order. 
      • Breakfast section: Mornings can be the most chaotic time of day, so creating a spot where your older children can help themselves to breakfast can make the morning smoother. This may be a refrigerator drawer stocked with pre-made smoothies, drinks and perishable breakfast items or a low drawer filled with plates, bowls and any grab-and-go breakfast options so they can help themselves.
      • Snack station: Like a breakfast section, stock the refrigerator drawer with healthy after-school snack options, like pre-cut fruit and vegetables, and include a few easy-to-reach baskets in the pantry filled with post-activity snack options so your family can help themselves.
      • Homework area: Whether your home has a designated homework room or your family prefers to sit at the kitchen island, make sure everyone has the materials they need to tackle homework at home, such as a charger for any school-required devices, paper, pens, pencils, scissors, glue sticks, calculator, etc.
      • Laundry room: Give each family member a designated laundry basket to corral their laundry, and create a space for muddy clothing to prevent the larger messes from spreading.  
      Order all school supplies to your new home
      If you order your school supplies online, use the delivery address of your new home if you’re already in possession. These supplies often come in small packages and boxes, so having them sent directly to your new address will help lessen the number of items you need to pack.

      Do a practice school route run 
      Before the first day of school, do a dry run of how long it will take you to get to the school from your new home. Whether your child will be walking, taking the bus or driving, plan out your daily route so you can be confident of how long it will take you to get to school.

      Hire the professionals
      There is no need to do it all yourself. Hiring a professional organizer or moving team can help create the necessary processes to implement them in your daily routines. This upfront investment can pay off as you navigate the start of the new school year and settle into your new home with less stress.

      Moving is a stressful process, and the start of the school year can bring up big feelings for children, especially if it’s a new school. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.