Wendy Butler | ERA Key Realty


Aside from your realtor, your lender will be one of the people that you work the most closely with when you’re buying a home. Before you even sign on with a lender, there’s a few questions that you should ask. Don’t feel pressure from a certain lender before you understand what their areas of expertise are. You don’t want to end up with homebuyer’s remorse because you didn’t do the right research before you signed the deal on a home.   


Can You Tell Me About Programs For First Time Homebuyers? 


There are so many great programs for first-time homebuyers. If the lender you choose can’t help you with these programs, maybe this isn’t the right lender for you. If your lender lacks knowledge in the areas that you need, you probably want to shop around.


How Can You Help Me Qualify For The Loan I Need?


Many times, loans have very specific qualifications that you need to meet. Even if you think you might not meet those requirements due to things like a low amount of down payment or a job change, your lender can often help you to find the details in your situation to help you qualify for a loan. For example, you may have recently changed jobs, but if you have stayed in the same field, your lender can help you to explain these circumstances so that you can still qualify for the loan. 


Are There Downpayment Assistance Programs Available?


There are also many programs and loan types available to help buyers get a home with less than a 20% downpayment. Some loans offer good interest rates with less than a 20% downpayment. There are also many grants and downpayment assistance plans available. It’s important to ask questions to know the right information for your loan circumstances.


What Fees Do You Charge?


Some lenders do charge an array of fees. You don’t want to sign on with a lender and then close on the loan, only to find out that you’re knee-deep in fees in addition to all of the closing costs that you have to pay along with the home purchase. 


How Will You Communicate With Me


Just like your Realtor, it’s important that your lender communicates with you in a timely manner. Buying a home requires that documents and offers are in on time to secure your home. Don’t let anything fall through the cracks by hiring people on your home search that may lapse in their communication with important information.


If you intend to find your dream house, it helps to establish a homebuying strategy. That way, you can enter the real estate market with a plan in place to accomplish your desired goals.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you craft an effective homebuying strategy.

1. Create Homebuying Criteria

If you know where you want to reside, you can narrow your house search. As a result, you may be better equipped than other buyers to accelerate the homebuying journey.

Creating a list of home must-haves and wants usually is a great starting point for homebuyers. This list typically forces homebuyers to think about what separates an ordinary residence from a dream house. And once a homebuyer crafts a list of home must-haves and wants, this buyer can search for residences that meet his or her expectations.

2. Budget for a Home

In most instances, homebuyers lack the necessary financing to buy a house. Luckily, lenders are available that can help a homebuyer assess mortgage options and get pre-approved for home financing.

Budgeting for a home is a major part of the homebuying process. Because if you know exactly how much you can spend on a residence, you could speed up your house search.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. Then, when you find the right mortgage, you can enter the real estate market with a budget at your disposal.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

There is no requirement to hire a real estate agent before you pursue your dream house. Yet the advantages of hiring a real estate agent can be significant, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

For homebuyers, a real estate agent takes the guesswork out of finding the right house at the right price. A real estate agent also collaborates with a homebuyer and will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure a buyer can achieve the optimal results.

If you want to purchase a house as quickly as possible, it may be a good idea to hire a real estate agent sooner rather than later. Oftentimes, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying aspirations. He or she next will work with you to craft a homebuying strategy and launch a successful house search.

Furthermore, a real estate agent is a housing market expert who will help you overcome any potential homebuying hurdles. A real estate agent understands the challenges associated with purchasing a house and will help you identify and address such issues before they escalate. And if you ever have concerns or questions as you search for your ideal residence, a real estate agent will respond to them.

Enter the real estate market with a plan in hand – take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can create an effective strategy to streamline your search for your dream residence.


Do you love the idea of having fresh herbs available all year round but don't live in an area where it's possible to grow them outdoors in all seasons? You don't have to give up cooking with fresh herbs just because the weather outside is frightful — and you also don't have to install a complicated growing setup with special lights. If you've got a sunny windowsill, you can have fresh herbs even in the dead of winter. Following are just five of the many culinary herbs that you can have at your fingertips all year round with just a few indoor pots, some indoor potting soil, a sunny spot, and a little water. 

Mint

Mint is a fragrant, prolific grower that thrives indoors when situated where it gets plenty of bright natural light. Use it in teas, cocktails, and as an aromatic garnish. 

Thyme

A pinch of thyme makes almost any meal better, from egg dishes to soups and stews to roasts and grilled seafood. Grow it on a windowsill where it gets plenty of sun, and you'll be rewarded with an extra layer of deliciousness in nearly everything you place on the dinner table.

Parsley

Parsley is another easy-to-grow herb that fits just right on a bright kitchen windowsill. Use it in soups, stews, egg dishes, and, of course, its traditional use as a garnish to dress up plates with an added bit of greenery.

Oregano

As a member of the mint family, oregano is as tough as it is aromatic. Always have fresh oregano on hand for Mediterranean-based cuisine will make all the difference between fair and fabulous.

Sage

Adding sage bumps up the flavor profile of any savory dish, but it goes especially well with roasted meats such as pork beef, and poultry. It's also a classic herb to use in stuffing when seasonal feasting is on the menu. 

Culinary herbs are meant to be used, so don't be afraid of using yours every chance you get. Use a sharp pair of scissors to remove the part you want to use just below the node on the stem — this encourages new growth and helps ensure that you've got plenty of fresh culinary herbs in future weeks and months. For low-growing herbs such as thyme, you can just pinch off however much you need.

Always keep in mind that even though the flowers of many herbs have a diminutive, whimsical aesthetic, resist the urge to allow your windowsill sill herbs to flower unless you want to collect the seeds. Leaves tend to taste bitter after herb plants flower, and except for woody herbs such as rosemary and lavender, most herb plants are biologically programmed to end their lifecycle once they've finished setting seed.

Please feel free to reach out for more information on enjoying your home to the fullest.


Photo by Designecologist via Pexels

Putting your home on the market during fall means that you might have to work a bit harder at attracting potential home buyers to your open house, but the extra effort is well worth it. In fact, 83 percent of buyers' agents surveyed by the National Association of Realtors stated that home staging helps buyers see a house on the market as their new home. 

The housing market overall tends to be slower in fall compared to spring and summer, but this time of year offers some great opportunities to add seasonal touches that give your home an inviting appeal. Keep the following home staging ideas in mind to make your open house a success this fall.

Spruce Up Your Home with Seasonal Decor

Adding fall decor to your porch and your home’s interior can create a cheerful environment, but be careful not to go overboard. Putting too many seasonal decor items out can make your home look and feel cluttered, resulting in an unfavorable impression on home buyers. Consider using a light touch instead, such as placing an autumn wreath on your door or putting a fall centerpiece with decorative gourds and seasonal flowers on your dining room table.

Light Up Your Open House

If you have an open house in the evening, especially later on in fall, keep in mind that it might be dark out when your buyers arrive. Your home should be well-lit inside, and your front porch light should be on to greet them. For afternoon open houses, let natural light brighten up your home, and turn on a few lights in dimmer areas as needed.

Create a Cozy Environment

Fall’s cooler days and earlier evenings give you an ideal chance to encourage potential home buyers to stick around longer during your open house. Creating a cozy atmosphere keeps your open house visitors comfortable while also helping them see your home as their home one day. A simple way to do this is by placing soft throws and accent pillows on your sofa and chairs for added comfort. If you have a fireplace, consider using it for your evening or afternoon open house to make your home feel even more welcoming.

Add an Autumnal Aroma

Seasonal scents for fall, such as cinnamon, pumpkin or apple, can give your house a pleasant smell that makes buyers feel at home when they walk through your front door. You can burn a fall-scented candle, as long as the smell won’t get too strong. You can also add a seasonal aroma and give buyers freshly baked goods to enjoy by making an autumn treat, such as an apple pie or cinnamon bread, shortly before your open house.

If you’re planning on putting your home on the market this fall, feel free to give me a call.


An excellent way to estimate the market value of a property is by taking a look at the streets, clinics, offices, nearby homes, and other facilities in the area. A good neighborhood plays a vital role in determining the worth of your home and can have great benefits for homeowners as it supports a steady rise in capital values, while a poor location stagnates the investment values of homes it. Are you looking for a good neighborhood for your real estate investment? Here are some signs that define a great area:

Accessibility 

Locations that are very accessible and close to means of public transport are preferable. The advantage of living in an easily accessible place is connectivity. Connectivity means that you can get to the airport, hospital, train station, worship places, and your workplace within the shortest possible time. This factor makes it easier to deal with the daily routines of living. It also makes the neighborhood more livable.

Bordering Neighborhood 

A good neighborhood that is surrounded by an unhealthy one will be deemed unsuitable. Therefore, it is essential you consider the areas surrounding a community before you make your decision. The best residential buildings are located around prime areas and not places that are underdeveloped with downmarket profiles.

Great Opportunities for socializing 

You should consider a location that gives you ample opportunity to get out of your home and socialize with people. Therefore, a neighborhood with coffee shops, theatre, art galleries, and parks is an excellent area for socializing.

Reduced Crime Rates

An excellent location will have a lower crime rate. That is robbery, theft, burglaries, and other vices are relatively few. The low crime rates in any neighborhood can be due to the heavy presence of security forces, better security arrangements, and the class of people living in that area. You should always go for a city with a lower crime rate for your safety and that of your family. 

Presence of Retailers

A location with lots of retailers is the right place for business. Meaning that numerous potential consumers are living in the area. So, if you can see a lot of retail stores around, it indicates that the city is thriving. Also, the availability of convenience stores makes life easier and more enjoyable for residents.

Real estate investment requires proper planning and the location where you have your property has a remarkable effect on its market value. You should take note the qualities mentioned above before choosing a suitable neighborhood for your real estate investment.




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