Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 6/24/2019

It is a fact that people who plan carefully to own a home will run into fewer financial issues later. So, if you want to buy a property now or sometime in the future, your first step should be to check your credit. It is a good idea to review your credit reports and scores from time to time, even if you are not buying the house or applying for a mortgage immediately. 

Your Credit Scores

Nowadays, most lenders use a FICO score when determining whether to offer you a loan or not, as well as in setting the rate and terms. Different lenders may use different credit scoring formulas, so your score can vary based on what type of scoring model the mortgage lender uses whether Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion FICO score. 

The scoring system is dynamic so that your score changes as the information in your credit report changes.

Ways of Getting Your Credit Score

There are many ways of accessing a credit score, and some of them are free. However, most organizations that provide free credit scores do so using different scoring methods than what the lenders' actually use. 

The four ways to obtain a score: 

1. Evaluate your credit card or another account statement - Most big credit card companies and some financial institutions, as well as credit unions, have started the service of providing credit scores to all their customers every month for free. The score is often written on your monthly statement or can be found by logging in to your online account. 

2. Consult with a non-profit adviser - Non-profit credit advisers and HUD-approved housing counselors can provide you with a free credit report in most cases and score and even assist you in reviewing them. A counselor may help you to buy a home, but we recommend you reach out to your reliable real estate agent who is more experienced and understands the job well than a mere counselor.

3. Buy a score - Credit reporting companies will sell your scores to you directly. You can also buy a FICO credit score at myfico.com. These credit scores are often different from your free ones and can be more accurate to what your lender sees. Don't get sucked into paying for extra features with your credit report such as identity theft monitoring, credit protection, or other services offered at the time of purchase.

4. Credit score services - Several websites offer a free credit score service. Some of these websites may be funded through advertising while others may require that you register for a credit monitoring service where you pay a monthly subscription fee to get your free score. 

Be aware that some of these services are usually advertised as free trial offers, and will start charging you a monthly fee if you don't cancel within the first week or month. Before you register for a service, ensure you know how much it really costs and how long the free period lasts. 

Your Credit Score Matters

Everybody is entitled to shop around for the best mortgage for their financial situation no matter their credit score. So, checking your credit history, fixing any mistakes, and knowing your credit scores will make you most suitable for getting a mortgage to buy a property for yourself.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 6/17/2019

Maintaining a healthy lawn and garden doesn't have to be difficult. Anyone can efficiently manage a lawn or garden. There are no prerequisites, and you definitely do not need a degree to pull this off. Yes, it is not the easiest task to take on, but you are sure to pull it off with a dose of patience, quality time, and, of course, these few tips. 

Want to get to them already? Sure!

  1. Go for a Rock Garden. Experts advise gardeners to go for rock gardens because they contain drought-resistant plants. These plants require less care compared to other plants. Also, you do not need to water them constantly because they are drought-resistant. 
  2. Treat Grasses in Shady Areas Differently. Grasses in shady areas receive less sunlight compared to grasses in other parts of the lawn. By extension, they evaporate less and grow at a slower pace. Therefore, it is pertinent to treat them differently. Do not feed them as you feed other. These grasses rarely evaporate, as such, they need less water compared to their counterpart in open areas. They also incline toward growing at a slower pace due to insufficient sunlight. Thus, it is crucial to reduce the amount of fertilizer you feed them. Overfeeding them will result in their death instead of growth.
  3. Apply the Sidekick – Mulch. Mulch, as it is known today, is the gardener's friend (better yet, sidekick). Mulch comes in handy when you run out of other solutions. A simple application of mulch will not only help suppress weed in your lawn or garden, but it will also help reduce the full amount of time you spend watering.
  4. Consider the Environment Before Planting the Tree. Experts advise that you should consider your tree as a full-grown tree when planting. By doing so, you will have a better idea of the best spot for the tree. They may look like beautiful little babies that can do no harm, but that wouldn't be the case when they are all grown. Make sure you choose a good position when planting, not one that you will end up having a problem with the roof.
  5. Reduce Weed Growth with Healthy Soil. It may seem incredible, but weed grows better in unhealthy soil. A nutrient-rich soil is all the herbicide you need to curb the growth of weeds in your lawn or garden. Stuff your lawn with fertilizers instead of weed-killers.

Having a beautiful, weed-free lawn and garden results in higher curb appeal and may increase the value and salability of your home. Ask your real estate professional for other ideas to upgrade curb appeal.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 6/10/2019

In the real estate market, the value of your home depends on several other factors, other than the price you paid for it. For one, the price buyers are willing to pay for it at any particular time may depend on prevailing economic conditions, mortgage rates, the season of the year and a host of other things affect the value of your house.

  1. The price of other homes in the neighborhood is way lower than yours. Buyers usually know what the general sale price of houses in a location is, and when they notice yours is way over that, they get the impression that you are unreasonable and might not even bother to see the property. Real estate agents often go through a comprehensive process before advising clients on an appropriate price range so don't unduly pressure your agent into raising his estimate.
  2. You haven't had many showings or offers made since the listing. If you haven’t received any offers after about 3 or 4 months and no prospective buyers have come to view the property, there might be a couple of reasons responsible. Ask yourself if your agent is trying his best to promote your listing and if other houses in your neighborhood are moving. If both answers are yes, then it might be a likely fact that your home is overpriced.
  3. Other similar houses in the community are selling, and yours is not. There are different reasons why this may be so, are those houses newer, larger or have better features? And sometimes the reason theirs is selling, and yours is not is because it is overpriced.
  4. Expired listings. Real estate agents often state the listing period on the listing agreement, and if this period expires without being sold, you might want to review your price downwards as it might be an indicator that your house is priced too high. It doesn't mean there are no buyers; it just means the buyers who came were not willing to offer that much.

It's critical that you ask for feedback from your agent as to why your house did not sell. That gives you the opportunity to correct things that certain buyers didn't like.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 6/3/2019

Selling a house sometimes can be complicated. But if you understand the home selling journey, you may be better equipped than other sellers to avoid potential pitfalls.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you simplify the home selling journey.

1. Analyze the Local Housing Market

The age and condition of your home may have far-flung effects on how much a buyer is willing to pay to acquire your residence. At the same time, the local real estate sector can have major ramifications on your property selling experience.

A home seller who analyzes the local housing market can identify real estate patterns and trends. Then, this seller can use housing market data to establish a competitive initial asking price for his or her residence – something that may lead to a quick, seamless home selling experience.

Don't forget to review the prices of recently sold houses in your city or town too. By doing so, you can see how your home compares to these residences and price your house accordingly.

2. Assess Your Home

If you've maintained your home over the years, you may be in a good position to maximize your house sale earnings. On the other hand, if your home requires repairs, there may be no time like the present to complete property improvements.

Oftentimes, it is beneficial to conduct a home inspection and appraisal prior to listing a residence. During a home inspection, a property expert will examine your residence and offer insights into any underlying property issues. Meanwhile, during an appraisal, a property expert will craft a property valuation based on your residence and various housing market factors.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

If you're unsure about how to navigate the home selling process, you may want to hire a real estate agent. That way, you'll have a home selling expert at your side to help you identify and eliminate assorted property selling hurdles.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to sell a home, regardless of the current housing market's conditions. He or she first will meet with you and help you create a property selling strategy. Next, a real estate agent will set up home showings and open house events to promote your residence to prospective buyers. And if you receive an offer to purchase your house, a real estate agent will provide recommendations and suggestions about how to proceed with this proposal.

In addition, a real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you can get the best price for your house. He or she is ready to negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf, and as a result, can help you optimize your home sale earnings.

When it comes to selling a home, complications may arise. Fortunately, the aforementioned tips can help you streamline the home selling process and ensure you can enjoy a fast, profitable property selling experience.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 5/27/2019

You may be someone that just loves planning, shopping, and cooking for your family. You have the tried and true recipes that dazzle your family all tucked up in your head. When you enter the grocery store, you have a regular route as you gather all the ingredients needed to create your family's favorite meals. You can stealthily take advantage of the weekly sales and layer on the coupons for incredible discounts. However, if you struggle with cooking meals that your family considers edible, then maybe you will appreciate a little direction.

What is on the Menu?

Most people shop for groceries right around their payday. So you arrive at a well-stocked store, since the grocer knows your shopping habits, now what? Where to start? Honestly, you need to rewind a bit and start about a day or two in the past. Schedule yourself a planning time either by yourself or with the whole family. You can take this time to decide what dishes you and everyone else would like to have served. Like most families, you will have your tried-and-true meals that have a heavier rotation on a meal plan schedule. Once you have a list of meals for a predetermined time-frame, you can now build a grocery list. Before you hop in the car and zoom off to conquer that list, you may want to check your current supply. Have your family help with this. You can make it into a sort of scavenger hunt. Once you have taken a quick inventory, you can clearly see what you need to purchase.

Search for the Sales

Now, if you have a favorite grocery store and there is nowhere else you would shop, then go for it. However, if you don't mind making a few stops, you can peruse the weekly circulars and see which grocers have competitive prices on the items you need to buy. Here is where you can spot any huge money-saving deals and perhaps adjust a meal or two to take advantage of a reduced price. Alternatively, if you have a freezer large enough to hold some extra items or a deep freezer you can easily stock up when the sales are on. Now you are ready to fill up that cart with what you need to make those completed meals without all the anxiety.

Try making a list of five to eight of your family's favorite meals, including all the ingredients for each and keep this list as your starting point for future meal planning sessions.




Tags: how to   meal planning   groceries  
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