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How to's and money-saving tips from resident homeowner and mortgage professional, Cathy West

Is spring really the best time to buy a home?

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Is spring really the best time to buy a home?
The spring shopping season is right around the corner, and in the months ahead it's likely that millions of would-be homeowners will flood the market nationwide. However, experts point out that these busy times for the housing market as a whole also bring with them points of concern for individuals, because high competition likely means more hurdles to jump for any prospective buyer.The reason spring and summer are such big buying and selling seasons is clear: The nice weather and more days off many Americans enjoy at that time of year gives them an opportunity to spend more time out and about during a home search, according to Trulia. Mo...

Common terms used during the mortgage process and what they mean.

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Words you'll need to know when applying for a mortgage.
If you find yourself lost in a sea of terminology during the mortgage process, these definitions may help you navigate your way through closing. Amortization - This term describes the schedule that determines how much you pay per month in fixed amounts of principal and interest, defined by Discover.Adjustable Rate Mortgage - This type of mortgage has an interest rate that is tied to a predetermined index. The rate will go up or down with the index, so there's no guarantee what your interest rate will be over time. Appraisal - An appraisal is an estimate of a property based on the quality and condition of the property, the l...

Preparing now to buy a home next year

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Take these steps to prepare for buying a home next year.
It's never too early to start preparing to purchase a new home. Even if you aren't going to start shopping for your first home until next year, there are steps you can take now to get ready for the mortgage process. Familiarize yourself with the marketBefore shopping for a new home, you'll want to know what price range you're comfortable with, what neighborhood you'd like to live in and what home features you consider "must haves". Any popular real estate app will allow you to search various neighborhoods and view what's currently on the market. You may find that your desired price point is too low for a...

How does a refinance work?

,  Posted in - ( The Mortgage Process )

How does a refinance work?
Rates continue to stay near historically low levels these days, and that might afford some homeowners the opportunity to refinance their existing mortgages. However, many may not know why a refinance is beneficial to them, or exactly how it works, and as a result they might shy away from the process.A clear understanding of what exactly refinancing is and how it works will help homeowners understand the potential value available to them through a refinance, which can allow them to save thousands of dollars or more over the lives of their loans. Essentially, a refinance is simply obtaining a mortgage to pay off the remaining balance on an...

Incorporate the Pantone color of the year into your new home decor

,  Posted in - ( Helpful Homeowner Hints )

How to incorporate the Pantone color of the year into your decor.
When decorating a new home, you may be wondering how to make a splash with your color choices. Using the Pantone color of the year as a way to introduce a bold new hue into a drab room is one way to spruce up a new home and make it feel fresh. For 2018 that color is Ultra-Violet, as announced by Pantone immediately after the New Year. "The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than 'what's trending' in the world of design," said Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, "it's truly a reflection of what's needed in our world today."  I...

Preparing your home for winter

,  Posted in - ( Helpful Homeowner Hints )

Preparing your home for winter
When homeowners face the prospect of winter weather, there are likely a number of steps that need to be taken to ensure a house - and entire property - is ready for the conditions. A little preparation can go a long way for homeowners, especially if they lose power or heat for any amount of time during particularly tough weather.First and foremost, it's vital for homeowners to make sure all their pipes are properly insulated, especially those that run near exterior walls, according to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, television station WDAM. A pipe that freezes and bursts can lead to significant amounts of water damage, which is often costly to ...

What should you look for in a real estate agent when buying your first home?

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Finding the right real estate agent for your new home search.
Buying your first home can be an emotional, daunting process. Having the right real estate agent by your side can help make the process easier. It's important to have an idea of what you want most from an agent, but also to know your rights. For example, many agents will ask you to sign an exclusive contract to work with them and them alone, as explained on Realtor.com. There's no legal obligation to sign a contract that prevents you from exploring your options. However, if you do decide to work exclusively with one agent, it should only be after talking to a few different realtors and making sure you've chosen the best person for...

Snow removal tips and tricks for a first time homeowner

,  Posted in - ( Helpful Homeowner Hints )

Winter tips for snow removal.
If you're a first time homeowner living in the North, you'll probably encounter another first this winter: snow removal. If you're unsure of how to clear snow from driveways, walkways and sidewalks, check out the tips below.  Start with salt Before the snow starts, lay salt or another form of de-icer on your driveway and walkway. When purchasing a de-icer take into account what surface you'll be laying it on, as outlined by Consumer Reports. If you have delicate masonry or stone work, make sure to avoid rock salt as it can damage concrete and stones. Instead, choose a de-icer specifically made for resi...

How to make your new home look more expensive

,  Posted in - ( Helpful Homeowner Hints )

How to make your home look more expensive
After buying a new home, one of the first things you'll want to do is decorate. While you may not be able to afford your dream home right now, you can use these tips and tricks to make the one you can afford appear to be much more expensive. Curtains Sometimes thought of as a purely practical feature, curtains can completely change the look of a room. When hanging curtains, find a curtain rod that's slightly wider than your window, which will help make your windows appear larger than they are. You should also hang the rod high, preferably a few inches from the ceiling. Hanging a floor length curtain from a rod that's hun...

Why credit scores can vary between credit bureaus

,  Posted in - ( The Mortgage Process )

Why credit scores can vary between credit bureaus
Most people know that having a good credit score is vital not just when they're seeking a mortgage, but whenever they apply for any type of credit. However, when they go to check their scores, many would-be borrowers may be shocked to find that among the three major credit bureaus, that score can vary - sometimes significantly.The reason why this is the case is often two-fold. First of all, a credit score is taken as a snapshot of a person's credit profile at the time when they request a score, according to FICO, which pioneered credit scoring. So if consumers ask for a score from Experian on a Monday, then seek one from Equifax on a ...