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10 Things We Do For Home Buyers

A realtor can be extremely helpful when you are buying a home. Every real estate agent has a slightly different approach to the home buying process. However, there are certain things that every real estate agent should do for you as a buyer. As a buyer, your expectations should be met and if possible, exceeded by your real estate agent.

Use the following list as a guide for finding the right agent for you even if it's not us. These are critical things a real estate agent should be doing for home buyers. If you find a potential agent that says he or she won’t do the things on this list, keep looking. When you find a quality agent, he or she will be more than happy to take care of these things. 

1. Find an Realtor with various accreditations.

Sure, having a good work ethic can allow you to become an realtor but what sets a GREAT realtor apart? Your agent should be someone who took extra initiative to serve a specific market and met all requirements to claim a designation with their expertise, knowledge, and experience. View all of our Accreditations here.

2. Get you pre-approved.

A realtor is defined by his/her network. If your realtor is in good standing with other trusted agents, organizations, and their community that is a good sign. They will be able to offer you options for lenders, and othe professionals that will be involved in your home buying process.

You want to be pre-approved so you know how much you can spend, so if you aren’t already – talk to your real estate agent about getting it done.

One thing to keep in mind is the differences between being pre-approved and pre-qualified. These two mortgage terms are night and day in their meaning. You want to be pre-approved which means the lender has verified your income, employment and run your credit. A pre-qualification letter in most circumstances does none of these things. Frankly, it is not worth the paper it is written on.

An exceptional seller’s agent will insist upon having a solid pre-approval letter so make sure you get one!

3. Help find you a home 

House hunting is a tiring process at the best of times, requiring you to make concessions so that your dreams can match up with the reality of what is available and what you can afford. One of your Realtor’s key jobs is to help you clarify what you want most, and find you options that meet your specifications as much as possible. The best real estate agents are going to counsel you on location, neighborhood, schools and other factors.

Your agent should help you determine the best locations for you to look based on what you’re looking to achieve, including the type of neighborhood you want, schools for your kids, etc. If driving you from house to house is all your real estate agent is doing, you might want to look for someone else!

4. Negotiate an offer.

Your realtor's goal should be to get you the best possible deal which means they know how to negotiate well. The best negotiators know the value of what they are attempting to buy or sell, which is what makes them so useful.They should be advising you on what your initial offer should be and how to proceed accordingly when the seller responds.

He or she should know how to effectively negotiate to get you the best possible price on the home of your dreams. Ultimately you are beholden to the market, but that doesn’t mean a good negotiator can’t tip the scales in your favor.

5. Help with picking a home inspector.

Just like real estate agents, some inspectors are better than others. Your Realtor should know the best home inspectors in the area and help you choose one that you can depend on to give you the low down on the true state of any home you are interested in buying.

6. Attend the home inspection.

Even the best home inspectors can miss things, and even the most knowledgeable inspectors can fail to accurately convey the information they find to you as a buyer. Your realtor should be at the home inspection to hear exactly what the home inspector finds.

When the home inspection is over and you are given the report from the inspector an excellent agent will counsel you on what should be brought to the seller's attention.

If your agent is not in attendance it is awfully hard to understand what the issues are and then negotiate them. Make sure you find out up-front if your agent will be at the inspection. If they say it is not their “policy” to go, insist they be there. Unfortunately, in this business, there are a lot of lazy agents that will try to get away with doing as little as possible.

7. Negotiate any home inspection repair requests.

The information you get from the home inspection can provide you with leverage in negotiations. You can request repairs based on the information from the home inspection, and you can sometimes get concessions based on the problems found in the inspection. Your Realtor is best qualified to negotiate these things because he or she is most knowledgeable about how each issue affects the value of the home.

Skilled buyer’s agents will direct you what to keep your focus on and what to let go.

Your Realtor can also verify that there are no permitting issues with the home. Sometimes homeowners make changes to the home without getting the proper permits, which can present major problems to you as a buyer. You want to know about any of these hurdles before you buy.

8. Communicate with seller’s agent throughout the sale.

Everyone needs to be on the same page for a home purchase to go smoothly. Your real estate agent will be responsible for keeping everyone informed, including the seller’s agent.

9. Monitor your loan commitment.

Excellent buyer’s agents are always staying on top of things including monitoring the buyer’s mortgage commitment. Smart agents also make sure buyers understand they need to maintain their current credit status. Mortgage mistakes can be quite common, especially among first-time home buyers.

The pre-approval you got for your home purchase is a fragile thing, based off of the information given to the lender at the time of the pre-approval request. Any changes to your financial situation could make it impossible to get the loan or reduce the amount of the loan available to you.

Your real estate agent should monitor the status of your loan and advise you on how to protect your approval. He or she will make sure that you understand not to make any large purchases or take out any loans, like buying a car, before you close on the home.

10. Finalize all loose ends for the closing.

You only need to make it through the closing to finally get your home. But there are a surprising number of details involved in a closing, all of which need to be wrapped up before you officially become the owner of the home. Failing to take care of everything could cause the closing to fall through.

Your agent will finalize all the loose ends so that the closing goes through without a hitch, and will be there alongside you at the closing so you have support and advice should you need it.


25 Cheap & Easy DIYs to Spruce Up Your Home

1. Create wainscoting by buying frames from a craft store and painting them to match the wall.

Create wainscoting by buying frames from a craft store and painting them to match the wall.

See how they did this here.

2. Regrout that shower.

Regrout that shower.

You will live your best life with a mold-less shower. Directions here.

3. Use peel-and-stick tiles to cover up a leaked-on cabinet bottom.

Use peel-and-stick tiles to cover up a leaked-on cabinet bottom.

Directions here.

4. Give your living room sofa a little perk by re-stuffing the cushions.

Give your living room sofa a little perk by re-stuffing the cushions.

Directions here.

5. Turn your address number into an address planter.

Turn your address number into an address planter.

Project tutorial here.

6. Coat your new kitchen countertop to look like an expensive stone.

Coat your new kitchen countertop to look like an expensive stone.

Get more details about this product here.

7. Turn your cheap dining room table into something straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalog.

Turn your cheap dining room table into something straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalog.

Tutorial here.

8. Make new curtain rods out of copper pipes and fittings.

Make new curtain rods out of copper pipes and fittings.

Tutorial here.

9. Replace your boring air grille with sheet metal you can buy at any hardware store.

Replace your boring air grille with sheet metal you can buy at any hardware store.


Always wondered what those sheets of metal with the cool designs on them were for? Now you know.

10. Remove your vents and spray paint them.

Remove your vents and spray paint them.


Crazy how a fresh coat of paint makes everything look so clean.

11. Use kitchen cabinets and IKEA butcher block counter tops to fake the look of built-ins.

Use kitchen cabinets and IKEA butcher block counter tops to fake the look of built-ins.


See how she did this here.

12. Turn your blinds into Roman shades.

Turn your blinds into Roman shades.


Directions here.

13. Replace the rod in your coat closet with hooks — everyone will be so much more likely to hang up their coats!

Replace the rod in your coat closet with hooks — everyone will be so much more likely to hang up their coats!


So simple, so genius.

14. Caulk and repaint your moldings so they look like new.

Caulk and repaint your moldings so they look like new.


15. Add vintage shutters to a bookcase.

Add vintage shutters to a bookcase.


16. Use square molding to frame a mirror (no miter saw necessary).



Get the directions here.

17. Or just glue tiles around the border.

Or just glue tiles around the border.

18. Make a classy gallery wall for $20 or less.

Make a classy gallery wall for $20 or less.


See how they did this here.

19. Hang mirrors on your bifold closet doors.

Hang mirrors on your bifold closet doors.


It’s almost like having one big wall-length mirror.

20. Keep your dirty, rain-soaked shoes on a pebble-filled tray.

Keep your dirty, rain-soaked shoes on a pebble-filled tray.


21. Use a bookcase as a headboard.

Use a bookcase as a headboard.


Really opens up your options as to where you can put your bed.

22. Make an easy bar for your balcony out of a piece of countertop and table legs.

Make an easy bar for your balcony out of a piece of countertop and table legs.


This is actually an IKEA hack.

23. Use quarter-round molding for instant, easy glass shelving.



See how they did this here.

24. Finally get those paneled antique doors you always wanted with molding.

Finally get those paneled antique doors you always wanted with molding.

25. Treat your shower like a window with two curtains instead of one.

Treat your shower like a window with two curtains instead of one.

Survivor Housing a Priority for the Federal and State Recovery Effort after Hurr


WASHINGTON – The federal government continues to focus on the lives and safety of those affected by Hurricane Harvey. While the coordinated response continues, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other federal, state, local, and tribal partners, are beginning to direct efforts toward recovery, including housing survivors displaced by the disaster through the state-led disaster housing task force.

HUD is the lead federal coordinating agency for long-term disaster-related housing needs resulting from Hurricane Harvey. Federal partners are working closely with the Texas state-led housing task force, as well as other state, local, tribal and voluntary agencies, to meet the need for quality affordable rental homes. They’re also focused on identifying strategies to strengthen the housing market, building inclusive and sustainable communities, and integrating disaster mitigation measures into community design and development, to reduce future damages.

HUD is primarily supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Justice, FEMA and other federal departments, agencies and national organizations. Below is a summary of the short-term, intermediate and long-term efforts already underway:

Short-term Housing Activities

  • For those who are eligible for FEMA assistance, FEMA transitional housing assistance provides lodging to displaced survivors who need a place immediately. FEMA pays the hotel/motel directly for this assistance.
  • Local communities, the American Red Cross, and other voluntary and faith-based agencies are providing emergency shelter to those displaced by the storm and subsequent flooding.  
  • AmeriCorps and other voluntary and faith-based organizations are helping to clean out flood-damage to homes.  
  • HUD is immediately assisting those displaced from public housing and multifamily subsidized rental units. Immediate foreclosure relief may also be available for Texas residents. HUD is granting a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages.

Intermediate and Long-Term Housing Activities

HUD's giving communities in Presidentially-declared disaster areas, the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars in annual CDBG and HOME formula funding to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster survivors. In addition, HUD is: 

  • Making mortgage insurance available: HUD provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders may be eligible for 100 percent financing;
  • Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation: HUD's Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home; and
  • Offering Section 108 loan guarantee assistance: HUD will offer state and local governments federally guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development and repair of public infrastructure.
  • FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program provides financial assistance in the form of grants to survivors with uninsured or under-insured flood related losses. To-date, more than 176,000 individuals and households have been approved for more than $141 million in assistance. Of that amount, $50 million is approved for housing assistance, such as rental assistance. Survivors may use the rental assistance to obtain temporary housing such as a house, apartment, hotel, motel, or other readily-available dwelling for rent by the public. 
  • As part of FEMA’s comprehensive approach to meet the post-disaster intermediate housing needs caused by Hurricane Harvey, FEMA is considering all available housing options for survivors. FEMA is working with federal, state and local partners to assess the temporary housing needs and the best options to meet those needs. 
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance.  Loans are available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. As of September 1, 2017, the SBA has received 2,118 disaster loan applications, primarily for homes.  The SBA has fielded 5,221 calls and completed 451 property damage inspections.
  • Insurance proceeds help insured homeowners and renters to repair hurricane-damaged, or flood-damaged property more quickly. The National Flood Insurance Program is authorizing advance payments of certain NFIP claims to expedite recovery. Call your insurance agent to find out more or to file a flood insurance claim under the NFIP.

A variety of housing options will continue to be considered to ensure disaster survivors with housing needs receive assistance to help their way to recovery. For additional information about recovery resources in states affected by Hurricane Harvey, visit www.fema.gov/hurricane-harvey.  

# # # 

HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.  You can also connect with HUD on social media or sign up for news alerts on HUD's Email List

How to Buy a Home in Your 20's

We’ve got to give it to the millennial generation; they’re an educated, tech-savvy bunch that typically knows what they want. Lately, we’ve been finding that many twenty-somethings in this group have decided that what they want is to buy their first home.

Now, there are apps galore on just about everything out there, but swiping right isn’t going to get you into your first home – though it probably will help you locate the Pokemon that’s hiding behind you right now.

Instead, try these five time-tested tips on how to buy a home in your twenties:

1. Decide You’re Ready to Commit

It’s probably been said more than any other piece of home-buying advice out there... Buying a home may be the largest purchase you’ll make in your entire life. The point? You’ve got to know you’re ready for that type of commitment. Millennials have been deemed a nomadic bunch – so, it’s important to note that most home buyers stay in their homes for at least three to five years – and, that’s just so they can recoup the costs of their purchase.

Buying a home also means you’re ready to get your hands dirty – both literally and figuratively – in order to maintain your home. Handy work like replacing smoke alarm batteries, maintaining landscaping and even changing air filters typically falls in a homeowner’s hands.

If you can commit to those terms, read on!

2. Understand Your Finances

When it comes time to buy a home, a lender will consider every part of your financial picture. From your current salary to your bills and spending habits to that lump sum of money your Aunt Helen sent when you graduated from college. Since a bank is going to get all up in your spending business, you’d better do the same. Find out how much money you’ve got coming in and going out and how much you’ll be able to devote to a monthly mortgage payment.

When you’re considering your finances and budget, also consider the fact that homeownership fees don’t end with the monthly mortgage payment. Home owners are responsible for insurance, property taxes and any money it costs to cover routine maintenance or unexpected home repairs.

After hearing that financial information, is buying a home in your future?

3. Consider Credit and Savings

Your first brush with credit may have been when you were inundated with credit card offers on your first day of college classes. By later in your twenties, you’ve probably established some type of credit – and, hopefully it’s at least decent. Lenders will closely consider your credit score when it comes to mortgage approval. Remember – the better your credit card score, the better interest rate you’ll be offered.

In addition to your credit, delve deeper into your savings. When you’re buying a home, you’ll need to have money in-hand, up-front to cover fees like your down payment and closing costs.

Have you saved the money you’ll need when it comes time to buy?

4. Find a Lender and Get Preapproved

It doesn’t take long to see that buying a home is largely a financial process, so it only makes sense that the mortgage process may be a long one, right? We’ve already let you know that lenders will consider your bank statements, bills, salary, spending habits, credit and more – but, here’s where you get to have a say. Seek out several lending institutions before you settle on the one you’d like to use.

Just like every buyer is different, so is every lender. Some may be more lenient when it comes to credit history. Some credit unions or banks you’ve used for years may offer lower rates than other lenders. The federal government also overs FHA and VA loan options that may be good for first-time buyers.

Consider all options before choosing a mortgage lender!

5. Work with an Agent You Trust

Ah yes, that ever-important last piece of the home-buying puzzle. This is one area where we would not advise following a DIY mentality. Professional real estate agents have the training and know-how to lead any first-time home buyer to a home that’s right for them. Your trusted real estate agent will help you make up your “needs and wants” list when it comes to a home; they’ll help you consider your long-term goals for your new home; and, they’ll search for homes, show you homes, negotiate and walk you through the entire offer and closing process… right down to the point where those new home keys fall into your hands.

Original Post from Preferred Realty

Rent vs. Buy

Can't decide whether you should continue to rent or go ahead & buy your first home? Is there really a difference? Let's weigh the pros & cons & see what makes most sense for you.

Monthly Payments
Let's start with the monthly payments. Let's say the home for Rent is around $1,500/month while the home for Sale is $1,286/month ($250,000 sale price). Obviously, your monthly payment saves you hundreds by buying rather than renting.

Down Payment
The standard for a rental is first & last month's payment plus a deposit. In this instance, we can just assume the deposit would be $500 (this will vary depending on your state) so your total down payment would be $3,500. A small initial payment with a refundable deposit however you may not get the deposit back at the end of your lease. It is ultimately to the landlord's discretion & what shape the rental is in by the end of your lease.

Using the $250,000 sale price your down payment for a home may be $25,000 (assuming you put 10% down). Remember, the more you put down, the closer you will be to paying off your loan. Of course, it is possible to put down less than 10%. Refer to your bank for their terms.

Variable vs Fixed
Most leases are signed for the minimum of a year. Once your lease term is up, your landlord has the right to increase your rent. If this is the case, the only option you have is to either move or pay the upcharge.

When you own your own home, monthly payments stay the same throughout the loan. Even if your home value goes up (or goes down) your payments will stay at a fixed rate.

With  rental, it is ultimately up to the landlord if he allows you to make renovations to the property. Typically, you will not be allowed to do any major renovations. Not to mention that you would ultimately be investing and improving someone else's property.

When you own your own home you can do whatever you want to your property. You can improve, renovate, and remodel to increase the value and customize it to your liking.

Here is the upside to being a renter. Typically, you are not responsible for maintenance. You simply notify the landlord if something is broken & it will be his responsibility to take care of it. You should keep in mind though that this means you are on someone else's time and may have to wait awhile for it to get taken care of.

Home-owners are responsible for their own repairs. Sticking to the $250,000 home example, you'd ideally have around $2,500 set aside for annual maintenance.

Flexibility vs Stability
A landlord can decide at a moment's notice to stop renting. You are ultimately at the mercy of a landlord. The upside to this though is that you won't have to deal with selling a home before moving.

Home-owners will have to deal with selling their home before being able to move. However, you have the security of knowing that you own your home and no one can evict you.

The Bottom Line
For every monthly payment you send your landlord, you get to live on someone else's property for another month.

Every time you send that check to the mortgage company, you own a little bit more of your home & are building your own equity as opposed to your landlord's. 


Many people are often intimidated at the prospect of owning a home. In the big picture, it is usually less expensive on a monthly basis & will end up building your personal equity in the long term. Don't believe us? Ask a home-owner. 9/10 will agree that it is one of the best investments they've ever made!

Questions You Must Ask Before Buying A House

When you buy a home without asking the right questions, you might end up making costly mistakes. Use this list as a guide to making a more informed choice!

  1. "Will the windows need to be replaced?"
    If you've ever had to replace your windows, you know how costly this can get. New windows can cost you up to $15,000. Do the windows close properly? Are they sealed? Are they coated in lead-based paint?
  2. "What's the position & quality of the trees?"
    You don't want to wake up one morning with your roof caved in from a fallen tree. Does the tree look rotted? Does it need to be cut down? Do the branches block sunlight? Do you have the time and money to clean up lots of leaves in the fall?
  3. "Are there signs of a pest problem?"
    Do you see any signs of bug, mice, or other pests? Did you check the cabinets, behind the fridge, etc? Will you need an annual pest control plan?
  4. "Are there paved sidewalks in the neighborhood?"
    You'd be surprised at how many neighborhoods don't have sidewalks. If you have kids, is there a place for them to safely ride bikes? Can you go for a jog without the threat of getting hit by a car?
  5. "Is the home too old?"
    How much work needs to be put into the home? Will you be able to DIY the project? Do you have the time to take that on? Can you afford to hire someone to do it for you?
  6. "Does the home have any strange odors?"
    Do you smell mold? Are there foul odors absorbed into the walls and flooring? Is there a pungent scent of cigarettes or pets? Be wary of homes that have odors that may be costly to get rid of or signify bigger issues.
  7. "Does the ground slope away from the house?"
    Does the home sit on top or bottom of a hill? Where does the water flow? What's the condition of the grading around the house? The last thing you need is a flooded new home.
  8. "What do the neighborhood cars look like?"
    Do you see broken down cars, or are they well maintained? Look at the quality not the brands.
  9. "What are the neighbors like?"
    Have you met the neighbors? Can you imagine living next to them? What kind of reputation do they have in your neighborhood?
  10. "How much are utilities?"
    Estimate how much you'll pay each month for utilities, since this will  affect your bottom line.

A Fair Housing Hero on the Frontlines

Written by:

Photo: Susie McClannahan.

It is hard to believe housing discrimination still exists in America nearly 50 years after the Fair Housing Act was signed into law. But the battle against unfair housing practices in neighborhoods across this country continues, even in our own nation’s capital.

Susie McClannahan is a fair housing hero who is on the frontlines of fighting housing discrimination.  As a Fair Housing Intake and Grant Coordinator with the Equal Rights Center in Washington, DC, Susie answered her phone a few months ago knowing it could be one of the many clients she helps every day. On the other end of the line was an older, disabled woman   who needed help.  For months, she had been asking her landlord to fix a broken accessible door opener to her apartment building. The issue had made it difficult for her to leave her apartment to run errands, and forced her to wait outside during extreme weather. To go about her daily life, she had to rely on others to open the door for her.

Acting on the woman’s behalf, Susie sent a request for reasonable accommodation to the landlord, which resulted in the quick repair of the automated door opener. The resident was absolutely elated to be able to enter and exit her own building without the help of others.  Another small victory for fairness.

“Many people who experience housing discrimination aren’t aware of their rights. I frequently answer calls from individuals that know an experience they had was unethical, but they aren’t sure whether or not it was illegal,” Susie said. “By informing people about their rights under the federal Fair Housing Act and local laws, they can take action to address the harm they’ve experienced and ensure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The Equal Rights Center is a HUD fair housing partner. The group recently launched a new advice column where Susie and her colleagues respond to concerns expressed by the public.  For helping others every day, and for representing the highest ideals of fairness in housing, Susie is a hero. But she sees it differently.

“The real heroes are the people I serve every day,” she said. “These heroes courageously report housing discrimination; they fight to be treated with respect and dignity and ensure others don’t have to experience the trauma that they went through. I am so grateful to our Greater Washington community of superheroes that stand on the frontlines to build a more equitable region, free of housing discrimination.”

11 Dollar Store Organizing Hacks to Organize Everything

Want to organize your life but don't know where to start? We did all the work for you and scoured the web for the best ideas on organizing your home. It doesn't hurt that it's also easy on the wallet! Who knew you could find everything you need at the Dollar store?



1. Magnetic Toy Storage by Dollar Store Crafts

Image result for diy stuffed animal storage

2. Canned Food Organization by My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Image result for dollar store organizing ideas



3. Hair Accessory Organizer by The Idea Room

Image result for home organization

4. Drawer Organization by Tatertots and Jello

11 Dollar Store Organizing Hacks to Organize Everything- Organizing your home doesn't have to cost a fortune! Check out these 11 inexpensive dollar store organizing hacks to organize everything! | organizing tips, organizing tricks, home organization, cheap organizing ideas, inexpensive organizing ideas

5. DIY Tiered Organizer Tray by Liz Marie Blog

11 Dollar Store Organizing Hacks to Organize Everything- Organizing your home doesn't have to cost a fortune! Check out these 11 inexpensive dollar store organizing hacks to organize everything! | organizing tips, organizing tricks, home organization, cheap organizing ideas, inexpensive organizing ideas

6. Refrigerator Organization by The Domestic Geek

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7. DIY Gift Wrap Storage by The Country Chic Cottage

11 Dollar Store Organizing Hacks to Organize Everything- Organizing your home doesn't have to cost a fortune! Check out these 11 inexpensive dollar store organizing hacks to organize everything! | organizing tips, organizing tricks, home organization, cheap organizing ideas, inexpensive organizing ideas

8. Pantry Organization by How to Nest for Less

11 Dollar Store Organizing Hacks to Organize Everything- Organizing your home doesn't have to cost a fortune! Check out these 11 inexpensive dollar store organizing hacks to organize everything! | organizing tips, organizing tricks, home organization, cheap organizing ideas, inexpensive organizing ideas

9. Kid Art Supplies Storage by There Was a Crooked House

11 Dollar Store Organizing Hacks to Organize Everything- Organizing your home doesn't have to cost a fortune! Check out these 11 inexpensive dollar store organizing hacks to organize everything! | organizing tips, organizing tricks, home organization, cheap organizing ideas, inexpensive organizing ideas

10. DIY Dollar Store Jewelry Holder by Yesterday on Tuesday

11 Dollar Store Organizing Hacks to Organize Everything- Organizing your home doesn't have to cost a fortune! Check out these 11 inexpensive dollar store organizing hacks to organize everything! | organizing tips, organizing tricks, home organization, cheap organizing ideas, inexpensive organizing ideas

11. Laundry Room Organization by Nikki Jayne Papery

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A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Home

Whether you’re ready to buy a home is a personal question that should be answered based on your finances (and other things, like commitment to the area and life choices).

I’m a big proponent of the Dave Ramsey line of thinking when it comes to home ownership – buying a house costs you money in the short term but is an asset in the long term. What does this mean? It means that you need to have money to buy a house. Comparing rent to a mortgage payment is not how you decide whether you should buy a home. In fact, most pros suggest that you have an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months in place and put between 10-20% down when you buy a home.

If you are ready to buy a home, then there are certain things that you need to know. Even if you don’t care to know about this stuff — guess what? You still need to learn about it if you’re buying a home (the same applies if your spouse knows the ins and outs — you still personally need to learn it).



Seller wants to sell his house and Buyer wants to buy Seller’s house. Buyer isn’t a millionaire, so Buyer needs to get help from the Lender (bank) to finance this big purchase. Lender agrees to give Buyer a loan under certain conditions (these terms are always advantageous to the Lender so the Buyer must read carefully). Seller and Buyer go through negotiations until they reach the most important substantive terms of their agreement (usually this is the price and a few other things). After Seller and Buyer have an agreement in writing, the closing process begins. The Seller and Buyer need to do their own due diligence to make sure that this deal is a good idea for each of them. Additionally, the Lender has to make sure the property is valued as it should be and that the Buyer will most likely keep its promise to pay the mortgage. After all parties involved – the Seller, Buyer, and the Lender – do their due diligence, they can begin to sign papers and transfer the property. However, if there are any hiccups with any of the parties, the deal may be called off. Otherwise, at closing, title to the property is transferred and the deal is complete.


Now to the good stuff. Here is a list of 22 terms you need to know before you buy a house (when I originally started writing this post, I thought I could do it in 10 items – turns out there is a ton of stuff you need to need to know).


1. Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps the buyer or seller in the house-purchasing process. Most agents work for a real estate broker or realtor. As a buyer, you want to hire a good real estate agent when you are buying a house.

2. Prequalified and Preapproval

Getting prequalified is the first step in the mortgage process (it’s usually pretty simple). You give your lender your overall financial picture, the lender evaluates your information, and then the lender gives you an idea of the mortgage amount that you will qualify for. Note, that prequalification is not a done deal – you may not in fact qualify for the loan for which you are preapproved (it’s a general idea).

Preapproval is the second step in the mortgage process. You complete a mortgage application and provide detailed information to the lender (although you will not yet have a house picked out most likely, so the property information can be left blank). The lender will approve you for a specific amount and you will get a better idea of your interest rate. This puts you at an advantage with a seller because the seller will know you’re one step closer to getting a mortgage.

If you get prequalified and preapproved before you pick out a home, then you can move quicker on purchasing a house (you won’t have to make your offer contingent on obtaining financing, which is especially valuable in a competitive market).

3. Proof on Employment and Income

You will have to provide proof of employment and proof of income to qualify for your mortgage. This shows the lender that you are creditworthy. It’s usually not great to quit your job during the home-buying process for this reason. Some lenders may ask for employment verification later in the home-buying process, so your approval could actually change if you take a lesser paying job during the home-buying process.

4. 3 Types of Loans: Conventional, FHA, and VA

 A conventional loan is a loan that is not backed by the government (meaning that the government doesn’t make any guarantee that you will pay the mortgage), and therefore, carries private mortgage insurance if you put less than 20% down. Conventional loans adhere to guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and are available to everyone, but are more difficult to qualify for than VA or FHA loans (you need better credit and a steady income, for example).

An FHA loan is a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (this means that if you default, the FHA will repay the note to the bank). Because the loan is insured, the lender typically offers a low down payment required (3.5%, for example) and low closing costs. Anyone can apply for an FHA loan and an FHA loan is easier to qualify for than a conventional loan. Instead of PMI on your FHA loan, you will have MIP (mortgage insurance premium), which stays with the life of the loan. That means that unlike a conventional loan where you can remove the PMI, on an FHA loan, you cannot remove the insurance without refinancing the entire loan (which you have to qualify for in order to do).

A VA loan is guaranteed by the Veterans Administration and is available only to certain borrowers through VA-approved lenders. Usually, you need to be in the military or a veteran to qualify. VA loans do not carry PMI and there is no money down required.

5. Adjustable rate vs. Fixed rate

An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) offers homebuyers with a low interest rate on their loan for an initial period, after which time, the interest rate increases or fluctuates for the remainder of the loan. This loan transfers the risk of rising interest rates to the buyer.

A fixed rate mortgage means that the interest rate on the mortgage is fixed at a specific rate for the entire life of the loan. For example, if you have a 15 year fixed mortgage at 4%, this means that your loan is for 15 years and your interest rate will be 4% for the full 15 years, regardless of the market.

6. PMI (and MIP)

PMI stands for private mortgage insurance. As part of qualifying for a conventional loan, you will have to get PMI if you put down less than 20%. Once your equity in your home reaches 20%, you can get the PMI removed (lowering your monthly mortgage payment). However, with an FHA loan, the insurance stays on the loan for the life of the loan, regardless of the equity in the loan. The private insurance on an FHA loan is called mortgage insurance premium (MIP). There is no way to avoid MIP on an FHA loan.

7. 15 year and 30 year

Lenders issue mortgages on 30 year or 15 year terms. You will be hard pressed to find a lender issuing a mortgage for a term other than 15 years or 30 years. The advantage of a 15 year mortgage is that you pay significantly less money in interest over the life of the loan than you would under a 15 year mortgage.

8. Cosigner

Like any other loan, a cosigner on a mortgage means that the person is binding himself to be legally obligated to make the debt payments should you default. So, if you have your mom cosign on your mortgage and you default, she’s on the hook legally and will have to make payments. Similarly, if she wants to get off your mortgage, she can’t do so without you refinancing. If a cosigner is required, the lender is effectively saying that your financial history isn’t good enough and they want someone else to be on the hook, too.

9. Amortization Schedule

An amortization schedule is a complete table showing your payments, principal, and interest over the course of the loan.

10. Prepayment penalty

A prepayment penalty is a clause that will be in your loan documents (if it exists at all). A prepayment clause says that you will pay a penalty for repaying your debt early.

11. Offers and Counter Offers

When you buy a house, you will make an “offer”, which is an offer to buy the house. The seller may accept your offer or reply with a counter offer, which will state different conditions than what you offered.

12. Inspection

A home inspection is an examination of a home done by a home inspector to determine the condition of the home at the time of inspection. You will need to pay for a home inspection if you’re buying a house.

13. Appraisal

A home appraisal is an examination of the value of the property done by a real estate appraiser. An appraiser determines the monetary value of the property. You will need to pay for a home appraisal in order to provide your lender with the value of the property for which you are trying to purchase in order to get financing.

14. Transfer Documents

 “Transfer documents” refers to the documents relating to the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. Most documents will be signed by the seller and delivered to the buyer for your review. Documents include: 1) deed, 2) bill of sale, 3) affidavit of title (or seller’s affidavit), 4) transfer tax declaration, 5) transfer tax declaration, and 6) buyer / seller settlement statement. It’s important that you do your due diligence and read through the transfer documents to make sure everything says what it should say.

15. Home Loan Documents

“Home loan documents” refers to the documents relating to the mortgage issued by the lender to you, the buyer. These documents include: 1) note, 2) mortgage, 3) loan application, and 3) Truth-In-Lending Disclosure (TILA). There may be other documents included. It’s always a good idea to read the documents yourself and consider having an attorney read them for you, too.

16. Real Estate Title Documents

The title company and escrow company will also send you documents to review. The title company will send you the title insurance commitment showing that the party who has title is in fact the seller, in addition to any liens on the title. You should review this document and so should your attorney if you have one. The escrow company will also review it to make sure it says what it should say.

17. Title Insurance

Title insurance protects you and the lender from the possibility that the seller didn’t have free and clear title when the seller sold you the property. Getting title insurance is a standard step in the home-buying process. Your escrow or closing agent will typically help you get title insurance after the purchase agreement is signed.

18. Home Warranty

A home warranty includes basic coverage over certain things that may go wrong, such as plumbing, electrical, heating, and major appliances. The warranty is for a certain amount of time (like one year) and you have to pay for it up front if you want it.

19. Closing costs

Closing costs are fees paid at the closing of the transaction. Closing costs can be paid by the buyer or seller and they can be part of the negotiation process. Closing costs can be thousands of dollars, so don’t forget about them!

20. Escrow (and Monthly Payment)

When you get a mortgage, your lender may require you to set up an escrow account. A monthly escrow amount is added to your mortgage payment. The escrow payments goes toward real property taxes and insurance that you would otherwise have to pay once or twice a year. Instead, you generally will pay a monthly payment and the money sits in escrow to be paid by your lender when it’s due. This escrow payment is above the principal and interest portion of the mortgage payment and is required. 

21. Homeowners Insurance

Most lenders require you to have homeowners insurance in place in order to obtain a mortgage; however, it is not required by law. 

22. Property Tax

Property tax is the amount of money that you are required to pay based on the property’s assessed value. Property tax can be very costly, depending on where you live. This is something you’ll want to consider when calculating how much you plan on spending on your overall homeownership expenses. Property tax payments are usually due annually, but more often than not, they are divided into and included in your monthly escrow payment.

Call us to help walk you through the home buying process today!



This article is a snippet of http://nataliebacon.com/buying-a-house-for-the-first-time/.

8 Things NOT to Do During Your Home Search

Got pre-approved to buy a home? Already have your dream home under contract? Make sure your home buying process goes smoothly, and as planned. Here are 10 things you need to avoid to make sure you actually get your home in a timely fashion.

  1. Don’t lose the money trail – Where is your money coming from?
    • Your lender will need documentation of all your transactions to make sure you really have enough money. “The dog ate my receipts” will work as well as it did with your high school Physics teacher.
  2. Don’t spend your savings – You may need a higher down payment.
    • I know you think you really need that couture pink flamingo lamp but you know what you’ll need more than even that? Cash for a down payment!
  3. Don’t make late payments – Keep showing you’re creditworthy.
    • Are you sensing a theme here? You’re going to have to stay on top of your credit in order to be worthy of a loan.
  4. Don’t close credit accounts – This causes your credit scores to drop.
    • I know that Youtube Guru raves about the benefits of transferring balances and closing unused cards. Don’t listen to that guy. It can really hurt your credit score and then you’ll be in the same place that guy is: his mother’s basement.
  5. Don’t change jobs – Job stability is an important factor.
    • Although job changes can help you advance in your career it could delay your quest for homeownership.
  6. Don’t buy furniture yet – Wait until you actually own the home.
    • I know you’ve picked out the perfect luxury items for your brand new home but avoid buying them until AFTER you close on your home.
  7. Don’t finance a car – Keep your debit-to-income ratio as is for now.
    • If you’d like to live in your new car instead of your dream home then go ahead and pick on up.
  8. Don’t apply for new credit – This affects your debit-to-income ratio and your credit scores.
    • Applying for a new credit card amid the homebuying process will make lenders wonder why you’re in such a rush for extra cash. Look stable and wait.


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Inside Realty LLC “Woman Owned & Operated”

Evduza Ramaj Broker/Owner/GRI/SFR/ABR | Nationally Certified (WBENC/WOSB)

 Office - 248-758-0022 | Cell - 586-995-5054

Inside Realty LLC
1877 Orchard Lake Rd, 204
Sylvan lake, MI 48320
United States