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Quarantine Spring Cleaning

There’s a good chance you’re spending more time at home than you are used to. Whether you had travel plans change, or you are now working remotely from home, or you are on a ‘shelter-in-place’ order from your local government, you probably have some extra time on your hands. Now is the best time to get ahead on spring cleaning so when things are looking up, you won’t have to worry about clutter or chaos at home! 

Take advantage of this extra time. While a large project can seem daunting, added stress is unnecessary. Taking on a project like spring cleaning step by step can help it feel doable. Make a list of what you want to take care of, section by section. For example:

-Backyard – sweep patio, clean furniture, update light fixtures
-Kitchen – deep clean floors, clean out fridge and pantry, organize freezer items

Once you’ve made a step by step list for each part of your home, you can create a to-do list for the members of your house and spread the items out over the next week or two. 

This is also a great time to get rid of clutter. If you are spending more time in your house than usual, it may become more obvious what is clutter and what is necessary. Take time on one of your first days home to deem items as “clutter” and store them away. If you didn’t miss them over that week, you know it is time to toss or donate them when you can leave your house again.

As you continue to clean, you may be concerned about a shortage of cleaning products. Even if the shelves are running low on Lysol, you can create your own DIY disinfectant. A popular combination includes rubbing alcohol, essential oils, and water. You can also use vinegar and dish soap to clean glass!

Lastly, make it fun. Open the windows if the sun is shining and play your favorite music. Being stuck inside doesn’t have to feel so terrible.

Turn Your Home from Cold to Cozy

As the days get shorter and shorter, you’re probably spending more time curled up on the couch than you were on those long summer days. Instead of letting the cold weather get you down, take the time to turn your space into a warm and cozy escape from the outdoors. Here are some tips to turn your house from cold to cozy.

Bake Your Favorite Dessert

Not only will the smell fill your home with sweet, warm scents but baking and the process it requires can fill your home with joy. Plus, you have a great snack to cuddle up with the couch!

Light Some Candles

Lighting candles will add to your comfy atmosphere. They will give soft light and welcoming scents for every corner of your home.

Add Texture To Your Decor

The right decor can make your space even more inviting. Plush cushions and throws paired with the perfect cable-knit blankets will make you and your guests want to spend the weekends binge-watching from the couch.

Have Guests Over

Instead of locking yourself in alone this winter, make sure you invite guests over to enjoy your cozy home with you! Have them bring their favorite snack or winter beverage and share your coziness.

Perfect A Winter Beverage

The best thing to have with your baked goods is a warm beverage to enjoy. Crock-Pot hot chocolate and apple cider is great for the kids and hot toddies or mulled wine will warm you up quick!

Make A Winter Playlist

The final step to making your space cozy this season is making the perfect playlist to play in the background while you are snuggled in. Grab your mulled wine + fresh cookies and enjoy the sounds of the winter from the comfort of your cozy home!

Boost The Mood Of Your Space

If you’re still working from home, you may be feeling down about your current space. While working from home can be fun, it is important to make sure your space keeps you motivated. The best way to do that is to change up your style! Here are some of the easiest ways to boost the mood of your space:

Compartmentalize

If you’re working at home, it is easy to get distracted by your typical home responsibilities since they are now right in front of your face. To stay focused on work, try designating different areas for certain activities. By assigning specific areas for fitness, work and leisure, you will have an easier time letting your brain and body know what you should be focusing on.

Try Some Color

Adding an accent wall, or even painting a whole room, is one of the easiest ways to immediately boost the mood of a room. Consider adding a feature wall with a pop of color or lighting up the space where you work during the day. If you’re not ready to commit to painting your walls you can use accessories like throw pillows, curtains, or artwork to bring color into your space.

Declutter!

Spending more time at home can make a space that didn’t seem cramped before feel overwhelming. There’s no better way to bring harmony to your space than decluttering. While having a clean, decluttered space is aesthetically pleasing, it can also reduce your stress and help you stay focused on work instead of worrying about all the clutter in your field of vision during the day.

Try a Digital Detox

Staying informed is important, and many jobs require technology, but cutting down on screen time can greatly impact how you feel in your space. To reduce screen dependence, set up manageable boundaries based on time or place. Designate phone-free times or remove tech devices from your bedroom for a daily reset.

Lighten Up

If your home is now your office, you can now control the light conditions of your workday. Natural light is one of the best ways to literally and figuratively lighten up a space. Try positioning your desk near a window and keep drapes and shades open during the daytime. You can also add reflective surfaces to enhance the light in dark rooms.

Why Did My Credit Score Drop?

If you’ve seen a change in your credit score recently, you may be wondering why. There are a number of factors that contribute to a dropping credit score and it is important to know what may be causing that! When buying a home, it is important to maintain your credit and not make any major purchases that could impact your score. Here are the top 5 reasons for a drop in credit:

YOU MADE A LATE PAYMENT

Accounting for about 30% of your total rating, your payment history has a big impact on your credit score. If you make a loan or credit card payment more than a month after the due date, it could cause your credit score to drop. A payment 60-90+ days late will have an even greater impact on your score.

YOU MADE A LARGE PURCHASE

Your credit utilization ratio can largely impact your credit score. Your ratio is how much of your credit you use in relation to your total available credit. The goal is to have a lower ratio so if you’ve been using more of your available credit lately, you may see a drop in your score. If for any reason your credit limit is lowered, it can impact your credit utilization ratio and impact your score.

AN ACCOUNT GOES TO COLLECTION

Timely payments on all accounts is an important part of your credit journey. Late payments on credit cards, loans, to medical facilities, student loans and utilities can be sent to a collection agency, which could in turn show up in your credit report.

YOU OPENED A NEW LINE OF CREDIT

When you apply for new credit, you are giving lenders the permission to access a copy of your credit report, which is known as a hard inquiry on your credit. If your credit report indicates that you’ve applied for multiple new credit lines in a short period of time, your credit score may be impacted.

YOU CLOSED A CREDIT LINE

Closing a card means losing available credit, which could increase your credit utilization ratio. As a result, your credit score may drop. If closing a card helps you stop spending, it may be a good idea. Otherwise, it is usually wise to keep lines of credit open. The length of time you’ve had accounts open shows that you have a solid payment history, so that could be another reason to keep that card you’ve had awhile open if you are using it wisely!

The How-To of Buying a Ceiling Fan

Just like other details of your home, sometimes fans (and their light fixtures) can make or break a room. While their appearance is important, keep in mind there are other factors you should consider. Different fans offer different amounts of breeze, and depending on where you live, that range can make a difference when it gets hot. Finding the right fan can keep you cool while also reducing your monthly utility costs by letting your air conditioning unit take a little break. Consider these questions and you will be able to choose a ceiling fan that can meet all of your needs.

SIZE MATTERS

The size of your fan will be a major determinant of the amount of air it can move. The length of your blades and how many there are both play a part in the power of your fan. If you have an average bedroom, around 12’ x 12’, the standard 42” four-blade fan will likely be the best fit. If your room is smaller, opt for slimmer, shorter blades. If you have a larger room, go for a wider and longer blade, like the 52”. A standard fan will have 4 blades, but more blades will help with better air movement. Increasing blades usually increases price, but it will help if increased circulation is your goal.

CEILING TO FLOOR SPACE

The goal is to have a minimum of 7 feet between the fan blades and your floor. Because of the variance in ceiling heights, many manufacturers take this into consideration and offer two different fan configurations, which are the standard model and the ceiling-hugger model. If you have ceilings that are 8+ feet, the standard model with the 6-8” down-rod is perfect for you. If your ceiling is much taller than 8 feet, you may need an additional extension rod. If your home has lower ceilings, you’ll likely need a ceiling-hugger to make sure no one is bumping into your fan while walking around your home.

LOWERING UTILITY COSTS

If your main goal for adding or replacing a ceiling fan is lowering your monthly costs, find a fan with an Energy Star label. These fans are created to use less energy, operating 60% more efficiently than a standard model. They typically feature blade direction switches to use with the changing seasons, adding more functionality to the fan.

DON’T FORGET LIGHTS

If you want to have a light with your fan, make sure one is included or able to be added to the fixture you choose. Not all fans come with lighting functionality, so consider that when making the final choice!

Why To Get A Bed With A Adjustable Base

For quite some time, adjustable base beds have had a major association with hospitals. With adjustable bases often being linked to the elderly, many people pass off on the many benefits they have. As time has passed, adjustable base beds have become much more current and much more attractive as a bedding option. If you are interested in an adjustable base bed, check out these reasons why one might just be right for you!

HEALTH BOOSTER

There is an endless list of health benefits that accompany adjustable base beds. They include reduction in leg swelling, body aches, snoring, acid reflux, and heartburn. They can even help enhance blood circulation.

BETTER SLEEP

With the ability to control the position in which you sleep, you are able to increase your comfort. This will help you get more restful sleep, and can even help you sleep longer.

GREAT PARTNER SLEEP

Everyone has a different sleeping position that benefits them the most. With a typical bed, you usually have to compromise when it comes to what works best for you. If you have a bed with a split adjustable base, you can enjoy a great night’s sleep next to a partner who has different sleeping preferences.

IDEAL FOR ILLNESS

Adjustable base beds have proven they work well for the elderly and the sick. Having an adjustable bed is great for the nights you are congested and sick, as they allow you to prop yourself up and prevent congestion from progressing. It also helps if you are recovering and feeling weak, as it is much easier to get into and out of bed when you can adjust the base to work for you.

Thinking About Buying a Foreclosure?

As homebuyers look for deals in times of uncertainty, many are becoming aware of foreclosed homes and the benefits that come with purchasing one. If you are interested in buying a foreclosed home, here’s what you might need to know.

Where Should I Buy?

Places affected by the housing crisis will likely be your best bet to finding a good foreclosure. You can research this and if you aren’t looking to move, you can find foreclosed homes in your area with a quick search.

How Do I Buy?

You can buy directly from the owner before they’re officially foreclosed on, or you can dive right in and try to compete with competitive investors at an auction. It’s safer and easier to find homes that are owned by the bank, also known as REO (real-estate owned). You can inspect these homes before you purchase, which is key when foreclosed homes are generally sold “as is” and can need many repairs. You can mortgage your purchase. You can be almost certain that the property’s title is free of liens, because the bank who owns it will typically perform a title search before they list the home for sale.

What Should I Expect?

While you can go solo, you should consider hiring an agent. Working with a real estate agent who specializes in foreclosures can be a huge time-saver. Keep in mind that foreclosure purchases in general aren’t always quick, as there may be unexpected issues and road bumps.  Also consider that while you are getting a bargain price, you will be investing a lot on the backend. That cheap sticker price doesn’t make up for a roof repair, infestations, or other high cost issues.   Be sure to pay for a complete home inspection and don’t commit if you don’t think you can take on the challenges of a foreclosure right now!

Reading Your Title Report Before Listing

Reading Your Title Report Before Listing

While it might not be the first thing on your list, there are quite a few reasons why you should several important documents before making any property purchase. Those include your title abstract, the title insurance policy with schedule of exclusions, the survey while you walk the property lines, and any homeowners’ association documents. You may inspected a property and everything looked great, so you didn’t look at the county plat or have a survey done and rushed to buy it. Then after closing, you see something you thought was a part of your land and turns out it is not.

The truth is that in almost every circumstance, there is a potential for issues to arise if important documents aren’t all reviewed thoroughly before purchasing property. There is a chance you may be okay with dealing with that issue yourself, but wouldn’t you like to know about it before you choose to purchase?

When you are purchasing a property using a multiple listing service transaction, the escrow company being used usually provides you with information on the legal rights and responsibilities that come with your new home or land. They may also provide a plat of the property, which will show property boundaries.

Your Schedule of Exclusions will be provided by your title insurance company alongside your insurance. You need to read that list of exclusions and make sure you review any issues. You typically receive all these documents in a packet after you are going into escrow. Make sure you read them! Review them with your agent, insurance officer, and potentially a lawyer if needed. You are making one of the largest purchases you might ever make. Use your knowledge to protect yourself and your purchase.

Finding The Right Home For You

If you’re a first time home buyer, the stress of choosing the perfect house for your family can feel overwhelming at first. While that stress may seem very real, it is often unnecessary. Instead of entering the market trying to find a house that is perfect in every way, keep an open mind. Approach the situation with a willingness to hear ideas and you are much more likely to find a home that you and your family will love. The process can be long and require work, but it will be worth it in the end – and i doesn’t have to drive you crazy. Here are some tips to guide you when you are trying to find potential new homes and how to know if it is the right one for you.

DECIDE ON DEAL BREAKERS

The easiest way to narrow down the right house for you is to start by deciding what you either can’t live without or cannot tolerate. If two bedrooms will never work for you, or you must have a large backyard for your pets, create a list of those things so that you can rule out properties that just aren’t worth your time. 

TRUST YOUR GUT

There may be times when you walk into a home and it seems like it may fit what you need, but there is just something off that you can’t shake. On that same note, if you tour a home and you instantly fall in love, don’t doubt your feelings. Sleeping on a house you love for too long can end up in you losing that home to someone else. Trust your instincts and you will end up in the home that is perfect for you.

TRY TO VISUALIZE

Can you see yourself in this home? Can you imagine your children playing in the backyard and doing homework in the kitchen? If you are touring a home and can already picture what it would be like for your family to live there, you are heading in the right direction.

KEEP LOCATION IN MIND

While a house may check most of your boxes, don’t forget to consider the neighborhood. Are things that are important to your family close by? Are you close enough to good schools or your place of employment? Make sure that you consider location factors so that you don’t end up in a home that becomes an inconvenience.

TRUST YOUR AGENT

While it is important to know what you want and trust your gut in the process, don’t forget that your agent has your best interest in mind. They want to find you the perfect home, and they have worked hard to do that for many others before you. They know the ins and outs of the real estate world, and are there to help you if you are willing to trust them! 

How To Maintain Your Concrete Driveway

Concrete driveways are becoming more popular again, and there are plenty of reasons why. With a lifespan 10-15 years longer than asphalt, often lasting around 30-40 years, concrete is a worthy investment if you are willing to maintain it properly. If you’re considering making the investment or you already have concrete and want to make it last for decades, here is how:

SEAL IT

Water exposure of any kind can result in pore development in your concrete. Water alone can dissolve calcium hydroxide in concrete, and that process can be made more severe if there is any carbon dioxide in the water. Once your concrete loses strength and harmful substances can get inside, there can be damage to the concrete’s internal structure. This is why sealing your driveway is a major key step in maintaining your concrete.

FILL ANY CRACKS

Preventing cracks is important, and can be done by hiring an experienced contractor who will properly install and cure your driveway. If you’re moving into a home that already has a concrete driveway and cracks exist, you will want to fill those cracks as soon as possible with a resurfacing material for fine surface cracks and sealant for cracks that are wider.

ADDRESS SPILLS ASAP

While preventing spills entirely is impossible, it is imperative that you clean up spills as soon as they happen. Car fluids, like oil, can both stain and damage your concrete . Rinse any spills when they happen and for cases with stubborn oil, you might need to use a solvent.

DON’T USE DE-ICER

If you live somewhere that gets snow, you may be tempted to use chemical de-icers or salt on your driveway. While it may seem easier, these products can seep into your driveway and can lead to deep cracks. Opt to use sand or kitty litter to create traction on your driveway on icy days.

CREATE A RUNOFF AREA

Making sure water and melted snow has a place to runoff will help prevent water seeping into your concrete.

START NOW

Don’t wait for your concrete driveway to show signs of damage before taking care of it. Putting in the time to maintain your driveway now will save your money in the long run.

Buying A New Washer & Dryer

Laundry is one of those household chores that always seems to be a headache. Whether you like doing laundry or not, it is often a necessary task in most households. When the time comes to either invest in a washer and dryer set or upgrade the set you have, you may realize that choosing your favorite color is not the biggest choice you have to make. Laundry systems come in all shapes, types, and sizes, and it is important to decide what you need before heading to the store to make your purchase. Here are the parts to consider when making your choice!

1: Side-by side or stackable? Gas or electric?

If your laundry room is already set up, make sure you check if your home will support gas or electric connections. Choosing side-by-side or a stackable set comes down to what you have the space for. Stackable systems are usually smaller and better for space conversation. 

2: What capacity works best for you?

Do you do laundry for just yourself, or a family of 6? Are you frequently washing heavy towel loads or only small loads once a week? Front-load washers tend to have a larger capacity and handle bulky items well. Compact top load machines usually have a smaller drum and fit less weight but are more affordable.

3: Front load or top load?

Before considering which you like better, take second to decide which would fit your space. Will the machines be going under a counter, preventing you from purchasing top-loaders? Will they be in a tight corner of a room that will make it hard to open the door on a front-loader? Once you know what your space can handle, then you can decide which you prefer. Front-loaders tend to be more expensive, but are easier to load and unload as you no longer have to strain your arms trying to get the items left at the bottom of the washer. If you are interested in a front-loader but aren’t crazy about crouching to load and unload, you may want to invest in a pedestal that raises the height of the machine. 

4: What features do you need?

Today, the features you can get on these machines are endless. Some have digital displays, some have wi-fi capabilities, some are meant to be energy-efficient, and some can even steam your clothes. If any of these (or more) features are a deal-breaker for you, make sure you are searching for the machines that offer these incentives.