Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 10/19/2020

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, there are a number of financial factors you’ll need to consider.

One of the factors that all lenders will consider when determining whether or not to approve you for a mortgage is credit score.

In this article, we’ll lay out the minimum and ideal credit scores that are needed for getting approved for a home loan.

Determining Your Score

As you may guess, credit reporting is a complicated business. There are three main reporting companies that lenders use to determine your credit: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These companies largely collect the same data about your finances, but can have minor variations. Lenders will take these scores and use the median or middle score to determine your credit rating.

Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Americans have the ability to confirm the accuracy of their reports.

If you want to find your credit score, there are a number of online reporting agencies that will show you your report for free on an annual or monthly basis.

Minimum credit scores

Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for and which lender you are pursuing, minimum credit scores vary.

For those seeking first-time homeowner (FHA) loans, you’ll need a credit score of at least 580 to qualify for a 3.5% down payment. A score lower than this amount and you will need to put at least 10% down.

Since FHA loans are insured by the government, you are more likely to be approved if you have a low or “poor” or “bad” credit score (usually anywhere from 300 to 650).

Another type of loan that could help people with low credit is offered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. These loans, known as VA loans, are guaranteed, in part, by the government. However, the loans are still approved and distributed by lenders who all have varying minimum credit requirements. A good benchmark is that you’ll need a score of at least 620 to be approved.

Minimum isn’t ideal

While you may get approved for a loan with a low credit, this isn’t always a reason to celebrate.

Lenders use your credit score, among other things, to help determine the interest rate of your loan. A lower score often means a higher interest rate.

While 1 or 2 percent can seem like a small number, it can mean paying tens of thousands of dollars more in interest over the span of a thirty-year loan.

To illustrate the importance of one percent, consider the following. If you owe $200,000 on a home and intend to pay it over 30 years, you will pay $103,000 in interest at 3% and $143,000 at 4% - that’s a difference of $40,000.

Rather than shooting for the minimum credit score, a better approach would be to build credit while saving for a down payment. Someone with a credit score of 740 or higher will be seen by most mortgage lenders as an ideal person to lend to.

Of course, life doesn’t always allow for the ideal situation. So, do your best to save and build credit, and be sure to shop around for the best rates when you’re ready.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 10/12/2020

A small town home initially may have proven to be ideal. But if your current small town house fails to meet your needs, there is no need to worry. In fact, you can add your small town residence to the local housing market and relocate to a new city or town at your convenience.

Ultimately, there are many reasons why now may be the right time to sell your small town house. These include:

1. Your small town home no longer suits your present lifestyle.

If your small town home has become too big or too small for you, it may be beneficial to list your residence. That way, you can sell your current small town home and upgrade or downgrade as needed.

Before you list a small town residence, it generally is a good idea to study the local housing market. If you allocate time and resources to analyze housing market data, you can identify home selling patterns and trends. Then, you can use this information to establish a competitive initial asking price for your small town home – something that may help you accelerate the property selling journey.

2. Your small town home is far away from family members and friends.

If you find that you have to commute several hours to visit family members and friends, it is important to remember that you can always move closer to these loved ones. By selling your small town home, you can relocate near family members and friends any time you choose.

For those who want to sell a small town home and move close to family members and friends, it helps to plan accordingly. You should craft a strategy to sell your current residence as well as determine where you are going to live going forward. This will allow you to map out any home selling and homebuying plans and take the necessary steps to put your plans into action.

3. Your small town home fails to provide convenient access to attractions and landmarks.

If you enjoy lots of big-name attractions and landmarks, small town living may not be the right choice. Fortunately, city residences are available that provide quick, easy access to many entertainment options. And if you sell your small town home, you can pursue a city house that delivers convenient access to your preferred attractions and landmarks.

As you get set to sell your small town home, you may want to employ a real estate agent too. This housing market professional will learn about you and your house selling goals and craft a custom home selling strategy for you. Plus, a real estate agent will promote your small town home to prospective buyers, set up property showings and do everything possible to ensure you can maximize your home sale earnings.

Remove the guesswork commonly associated with listing a small town home. Hire a real estate agent, and you can receive in-depth assistance as you sell your small town residence.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 10/5/2020

There are plenty of ways to make your home more organized. Whether you have a large house or some problems with cramped spaces, your home has plenty of room to give. The key is that you just need to know how to use it. Read on for some tips on how to make the most of the space your home has to offer. 


Make Everything Easy To Find


The more accessible the things in your home are, the easier it will be to stay organized. If you have kids, this accessibility will be even more critical. Make sure that the items everyone uses daily have a place. Toy boxes, dressers for clothes, and places for coats and shoes are crucial for smooth organization. 


Find The Right Storage Container


You need to make sure that you have the right containers for the right things. Without these tools, organization becomes increasingly difficult. Shop around and do some research before you decide on exactly what you want to use to store things in. 


Organization Doesn’t Have To Be Ugly


It’s much easier to stay organized if you don’t mind looking at your home. The whole reason you want to stay organized is that the less chaos there is, the less stressed you feel. Organizers don’t need to be cold and regimented. Make sure that any organizing units match your color scheme and themes. 


Electronics Get In The Way


All of the gadgets we have these days can overtake our homes. Cords, phones, chargers, video game systems, and more can really take up space in a home. Anything that you frequently use should be in open top containers, so everything can be easily spotted. Anything that you use less often can be hidden behind closed doors or in a drawer. 


Think By Function


The easiest way to organize anything is to think about the functionality of items. If you make coffee every morning, for example, you may want to keep a coffee corner. You can keep coffee in the cabinet along with sugar or other essentials. In the drawer below where the coffee pot is placed on the counter, you can keep filters, stirrers, and more coffee essentials. If things are functional and flowing in your home, you’re getting close to organization nirvana!  


Declutter Often


If you have a daily routine to put things back where they came from, clutter will never overtake you! Simple things can help you to stay ahead of a big mess. Some idea for your routine can include:


Straightening furniture

Clearing countertops

Throwing away junk mail

Putting away shoes


All of these quick tasks can make a big difference on a daily basis over time! 




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 9/28/2020


 Photo by Nikki Ovadia via Pixabay

If fountains are the only elements that come to mind when someone mentions adding water features to your outdoor entertainment area, you're in for a treat. Today's water features come in so many more options: Man-made ponds, water walls, rain curtains, scuppers and jets are only several choices you have when it comes to adding a backyard water feature. Here's what you need to know about each:

Man-made Pond

Backyard ponds are gorgeous additions to any landscape, rural or urban. To add one, you'll need to excavate a small area of yard, drop in a pond liner, and add a submersible pump with a filtration system to keep water clear and pristine. You'll want to build out the edges of your pond with attractive rocks, boulders and gravel. Plant some pretty perennials of varying heights around the pond, and you'll have a relaxing water feature that draws guests to its edge at every party.

Water Wall

If you've ever watched a backyard improvement show, you've likely seen a water wall. The first step in designing a water wall is to create an eye-catching vertical hardscape for the water to cascade down. Walls covered with pretty tiles, synthetic wood or stone are popular choices. When completed, water is pumped up to the top of the wall, where it runs back down, pools and is pumped back up the top of the wall. 

Water walls make excellent features for backyards where the noise of a freeway or a busy city intrudes on your private space. The trickling sound of water is an excellent buffer to unwanted noise. 

Rain Curtain

Similar to a water wall, a rain curtain involves streams of water pouring downward. In a rain curtain, however, the water doesn't run down a wall. Instead, it falls in a sheet from a free-standing structure, pools into a basin, and is pumped vertically to fall again. You can walk through a rain curtain, and this feature is an excellent addition to most pools. 

Scuppers

Scuppers are often used in multi-level pools or water features to deliver significant amounts of water from a top level to a lower level. They create sound and movement in your backyard, and are filtered so the water is always clean, fresh and pure. 

Laminar Jets

Laminar jets shoot water out over your pool or existing water feature in pleasing arcs. You can adjust the size of the arc so that it falls exactly where you want. You can also adjust the width of the water spray, or change it from solid to intermittent. 

Today's water features are really only limited by your imagination, your DIY skills or your budget, and they go a long way toward increasing the fun and function of your backyard oasis. 





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 9/21/2020

If you’re hunting for a new home, it can be tempting to make an appointment to view as many as possible. However, it can be a better use of your time to narrow down the search beforehand and eliminate houses from your list based on some at-home research. That way you can use those extra hours for fine-tuning your home search and make sure you visit only the houses that will suit your every need.

In this article, we’ll teach you some ways to research a home, neighborhood and town before you take the time to visit.

Things to Research about Your Potential New Neighborhood

So you’ve found a listing that looks nice. Your next step should be to find out as much as possible about the area the home is in to make sure it suits your needs.

A good first step is to head over to Google Maps to find out which amenities are in the area. Schools, banks, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, parks… the list goes on. This is also a good time to map out how long it will take you on average to drive to work from this house and to see if it will lead you through any high-traffic areas that might affect your daily schedule.

You can also research other homes in the area to see if the house is selling higher or lower than average. This will give you a question to ask the real estate agent if you choose to reach out for further information.

Town statistics

Another step to take on Google for this home is to look up statistics for things like neighborhood crime, ratings for the school district, and the state of local businesses.

Is the area up-and-coming with healthy businesses and low crime? If so, it could be worth pursuing further.

If you’re planning on having children or already do, the quality of the education could be of importance to you.

Finally, get an idea of the local tax rates so you know how much you’ll owe the government for your property and excise taxes.

Researching the house itself

If you’re comfortable with the town and neighborhood, there’s still some research you can do online before you schedule a showing.

See if you can find out if the house belongs to a homeowner’s association. Look up their rules and fees to see if they’re agreeable to you and your family’s lifestyle and plans for the future.

Look up the sale history for the home. If there are several recent sales, this could be a sign of problems with the home or neighborhood. Similarly, if the price has increased or decreased dramatically more than nearby houses, consider asking the real estate agent why this is.

Finally, see if you can view the number of days the home has been on on the market, commonly abbreviated as “DOM.” This will give you some insight as to how desirable the home and neighborhood are.


Once you have all of the information at your disposal, you’ll be in a position to decide whether or not to schedule an appointment to view the home.