Home Maintenance Tasks for the Summer

While there are things you can—and should—do to maintain your home year-round, summer can be a great time to tackle some outstanding tasks around the house. Here are some things you can do to maintain the upkeep of your home during summertime.

Replace Air Filters

How often you should clean or change your air filters depends on what kind of filter you have and the specifics of your household (how large, do you have pets, does anyone have allergies, etc.) but in most cases, you should be changing it out during the summer. Ideally you should replace it at the start of the season before the hottest weather kicks in, but you may even want to monitor it throughout the summer as your air conditioning usage is likely at its highest. Changing the filter helps you get the best possible air flow, the cleanest air, and can extend the life of your unit in the long run.

Clean Your Grill

Nothing says summer quite like grilling, but it is important your grill is clean and properly maintained. If you have a gas grill, shut the lid, crank the heat, and leave it on for a bit—at least a half hour. Let it cool down before scrubbing it with a grill brush. Clean out the drip trays to prevent fires and wipe down the outside of the grill itself. If you have a charcoal grill, empty it out and wipe down both the inside and outside before letting it dry and re-adding charcoal. Try cleaning your grill after each use to keep it in tip top shape throughout the summer. If you store it outdoors, be sure to cover it to protect from the elements.

Tend to Your Garden

Properly maintaining your garden not only makes it nicer to look at but can improve the life of your plants and ward off unwanted pests. Trim back bushes and plants. Add a new layer of mulch to minimize weeds and retain moisture. It’s not too late to do some planting. Marigolds, asters, black-eyed Susans, hibiscus, and zinnias are just a few of the flowers that do well when planted during the summer. If you have a veggie garden, consider planting cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and peppers which also thrive in the summertime.

Monitor Humidity

Things tend to get rather humid during the summer, especially in certain parts of the country. Make sure you are monitoring the humidity inside your home. Excess humidity and moisture can cause hardwood damage and lead to mold growth. Consider using a dehumidifier to combat humidity indoors; if you already have one, make sure it is clean and functioning properly.

Pressure Wash

Pressure washing is a great way to combat dirt and tough stains around the outside of your home. Some areas you may want to wash include your home’s siding, sidewalk, porch, and deck. Inspect these areas prior to power washing to ensure there isn’t any mold, cracks, or weeds and if there are, tend to these issues before hitting the area with the power washer. If you have a deck, you may want to reseal it following power washing to extend its life and appearance.

Check Your Ceiling Fans

Many of us get the most use out of our ceiling fans during the summertime. Make sure they are properly aligned and clear any dust from the blades which can actually cause them to be unbalanced. If you switched the rotation of your fan during the colder months, be sure to switch it to spin counterclockwise which pushes the air down and keeps you cool.

Have Your HVAC System Serviced

Even if your heating and air conditioning units seem to be functioning properly, they should be regularly serviced to ensure they are operating correctly and efficiently. A technician may be able to spot a potential problem before it happens which can save you money, time, and stress down the line. On top of verifying that you A/C is working as it should, which is so important during the dog days of summer, they can also take a preemptive look at your heating so you are prepared for colder weather just a few months away.

Clean and Inspect Your Windows

With longer days and more sunlight, you are more likely to notice issues with your windows. Take this opportunity to thoroughly clean all windows inside and out to remove any dirt or streaks. Inspect all screens and repair or replace any that have rips or other damages. While you are looking at your windows and screens, make sure they are properly sealed; this helps regulate the temperature inside your home, improves energy efficiency, and can even help reduce your utility bills.

Looking to find a home to call your own or refinance your current home? Contact one of our experienced Loan Officers today to learn more about your home financing options!

Home Trend Do’s and Don’ts

Home decorating trends are constantly changing and it is hard to keep up with every new fad that emerges. Floral prints may be popping up everywhere now and those bright colored kitchen appliances may not stand the test of time. So, which trends should you follow and which should you leave behind? The lists below showcase a few timeless home trends that will never go out of style and a few short-lived trends that may only be popular for a short period of time. So, which trends will you risk it for? Or will you stick with timeless, classic design choices?

Timeless Classics

Neutral paint colors. It is always a safe bet to choose a neutral color palette for your home. Neutral wall colors and floors will allow you to decorate more boldly and add personality to each room. You can incorporate trendy pieces into the room without going overboard, and you can easily switch it out for something new once you no longer love it. A neutral setting with bold accents is always a good choice.

Clawfoot tub. Relaxation, elegance and luxury are what come to mind when you hear this term, and those are some reasons the clawfoot tub hasn’t gone out of style. This type of bathtub has a classic design and will fit with any type of décor, making it a lasting piece in your home.

Open concept. An open concept living space has become increasingly popular over the last decade or so, and it seems to have staying power; more homebuyers are searching for homes that give an open floor plan. This type of floor plan can make a small space feel larger, and it is also a convenient layout for entertaining.

Subway Tile. If you are renovating now and want to make decisions that you will still love in 5 or 10 years, subway tiles are likely to be that. With their clean, fresh look it is a timeless option. No matter what style cabinets or colors on the wall, subway tile is likely to always match. If you wanted a spin on this classic you could arrange the tiles in a basket weave or herringbone pattern!

 

Short Lived

Statement floors. Gone are the days with “Plain-Jane” beige carpet and simple hardwood floors. A new trend has recently emerged and it is daring! Statement floors have become popular in the last few years, and for good reason; it can add adventure and a fun twist to any room. Unfortunately, a bold floor doesn’t work for everyone, so try not to get swept up in this trend.

Velvet furnishings. Another trend that screams luxury and comfort, but like so many other home design fads, this one likely will not last. Household items such as couches and curtains have followed the velvet craze, but have started to vanish recently. Fashion and style are big components of this trend, but opting for a more traditional look may save you from a design faux-pas.

Bold Wallpaper. It is everywhere these days! Flip through a home design magazine or scroll through Pinterest and you will see bright, bold wallpaper. It can add so much drama and excitement to a space, but if it is overdone, it can be overwhelming. While this trend can be a thrilling addition to your home, it’s best to stick with the neutral colors since some prints and colors will go out of style soon.

Peel and Stick. In theory this quick and easy design choice seems like a great solution. Maybe you want new countertops, backsplash, or tile – there’s a peel and stick for that! However, in the long run, you may find that this cheap fix may not stand the test of time. Over time, corners may begin to pop up and the heat from appliances may cause the adhesive to loosen.

Decorating your home can be a lot of fun, and a lot of work. There is no need to rush redecorating when the next big trend surfaces, so be sure to take your time and only include items in your home that work for you. Just because something is on trend doesn’t mean it’s your style! You can only make your house a home if it is filled with the things you love.

Are you looking to purchase a new home or refinance your current home? Reach out to one of our skilled loan officers in your area today!

6 Home Selling Mistakes to Avoid

Selling your home can be challenging, especially when it is your first time doing it, but it doesn’t have to be! While each individual home selling experience comes with its own unique challenges, there are some common mistakes you can avoid to make the selling process a bit easier when you are ready to put your home on the market.

Choosing the Wrong Real Estate Agent

When you are involving yourself in real estate, it’s important to thoroughly vet the agent you’re working with. First and foremost, you should check their credentials and licensing to ensure you are working with an accredited professional. There are lots of qualified agents out there, and determining the right one to work with really depends on your particular needs. Ask whether they charge a flat fee or a percentage of the sales price, and whether you are able to negotiate their commission. Seek out reviews from past clients to get a candid sense of what they are like to work with. Ask the agent directly about how they plan to best represent and assist you. How do they plan to market your home? Are they knowledgeable about the market in your particular area? How will they communicate with you and on your behalf, and how often? Choosing the wrong agent can make the selling process more difficult and stressful, and can even result in you losing out on money.

Incorrectly Pricing Your Home

You may think your home is the nicest one on the block, but the price you want to get and the price buyers are actually willing to pay may be quite different. It is important to understand your local market and strive to strike a balance between getting what your home is worth and not asking too much. If you price your home too low, you can lose out on money. If you price it too high, it can be difficult to sell. A skilled real estate agent will be able to perform a comparative market analysis and help you determine the optimal asking price for your home. If you want to get a more accurate estimate of what your home may be worth, hire a home appraiser to come in and value your home before working directly with an agent. This way you have a number in mind when selecting the list price on your home.

Not Preparing Your Home for Sale

Failing to adequately prep your home for sale can negatively impact its sale price. Tidy up your house and consider having it professionally cleaned. Something as simple as putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls can really freshen up the look of your home. When it comes to creating a listing and holding showings and open houses, you should stage your home. If you cannot afford to hire a professional, take a DIY approach to staging. Do not forget about the outside of your home; after all, it’s the first thing people see when visiting your house. Do any necessary yardwork and cleaning and consider sprucing up your landscaping.

Hiding Problems and Needed Repairs

Trying to hide problems in your home is more likely to come back to bite you than help you sell your home. Odds are any issues will be discovered during the buyer’s inspection. Consider having your home inspected yourself in order to uncover any potential issues. If you are able to take care of a repair prior to listing your home, you should. Many buyers want a home where they don’t have to deal with any renovations or repairs. If you do not want to or are not able to complete a repair before selling, it’s important that you are honest with the buyer about the work that needs to be done. In fact, some states have disclosure rules that require you to reveal known problems.

Not Requesting the Buyer’s Mortgage Pre-Qualification

Pre-qualification is received by a buyer from a lender and estimates how much they can expect to borrow. This signals to you, the seller, that the buyer is serious about their offer and will be able to secure a mortgage covering the price of your home. Without proof of pre-qualification from a buyer, your run the risk of them not being able to secure funding and the sale falling through.

Being Overly Emotional

Selling a home can be an emotional experience, but it is important not to let your emotions overcome you and lead your decision making. Do not take low offers personally; think of it as a starting point for negotiation or simply decline the offer and move on—it does not mean they don’t think your house is nice. If a buyer has plans to renovate, it does not mean they think your home is ugly or that you have not done a good job with upkeep; it simply means they have a different vision and want to make the home their own. You may have years of memories wrapped up in this home and it can be difficult to leave it, but remember that at the end of the day, this is a business deal and you should do what you can to get the best return possible.

When selling a home, you are most likely also considering buying a new home. Contact one of our experienced Loan Officers today to explore your mortgage options!

The Federal Housing Authority Announces Update to Student Loan Policies

Understanding which home loan program is the most beneficial for you when purchasing or refinancing a property is key to making a successful loan choice. Our loan officers are up to date on the best programs and newest guidelines, and are here to educate you on your most advantageous options.

If you have current or past student loan payments, the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) updated policy could be great news for you! The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) helps buyers with low incomes and low down payments who may not qualify for conventional mortgages.  FHA insures the loans, giving lenders the confidence to provide financing to people who otherwise would not qualify.

Effective now, monthly student loan debt may be excluded from your debt-to-Income ratio ( DTI) when the program, creditor or student loan servicer indicates that the full loan balance has been forgiven, cancelled, discharged or otherwise paid in full.

For outstanding student loans, regardless of payment status, to calculate monthly obligation:

o            Use the payment amount reported on the credit report or the actual documented payment (when payment is above zero), or

o            Use .5 % of the outstanding loan balance, when the monthly payment reported on the credit report is zero.

What does this mean for borrowers with student loans?

This new update allows student loan debt to be calculated at 0.5% of the loan balance if the payment is not reported on the credit report when determining loan eligibility. This may give more purchasing power to some buyers with existing student loan debt.

For more information about these beneficial changes, contact one of our experienced loan officers today!

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