Weekly Economic Review: U.S. Job Quit Rate Reaches Hits 17-Year High

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/15/18 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, job openings trumped the number of actively looking unemployed, consumer prices saw the biggest year-over-year gain in six years, and mortgage rates held steady.

    

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Weekly Economic Review: Unemployment Rate Rises from 18-Year Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/8/18 2:32 PM

In this week’s economic review, the headline of the holiday week was brisk growth in the workforce. Mortgage applications increased as mortgage rates eased.

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Weekly Economic Review: Median Existing Home Prices Hit a Record High

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/24/18 12:20 PM

In this week’s economic review, existing home sales fell as prices increased, current conditions of the new home market were positive as the outlook declined, and mortgage rates fell.

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Weekly Economic Review: The Fed Increases Rates, Projects Four Total in 2018

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/17/18 10:19 AM

In this week’s economic review, consumers are feeling confident in their current economic situation, mortgage rates increased, and the Federal Reserve voted on a rate bump.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings Surpass Number of Unemployed

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/10/18 1:12 PM

In this week’s economic review, job openings climbed, credit spending slowed, and mortgage rates held steady.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Unemployment Rate Falls

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/3/18 2:38 PM

In this week’s economic review, more jobs were added to the economy, home prices slowed their roll, consumer confidence bounced back and mortgage rates fell.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing and New Home Sales Stumble in April

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/27/18 11:01 AM

In this week’s economic review, home inventory continues to play a major factor in holding back home sales despite steadying home prices.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings Surge to Record High

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/13/18 10:35 PM

In this week’s economic review, a rise in job openings continued to increase the gap between hirings, consumer prices regained ground, and consumer sentiment surpassed expectations.

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Weekly Economic Review: March Home Sales Increase, Supply Remains Tight

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/29/18 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, existing home sales rose along with home prices while inventory continued to fall, consumer confidence recovered some ground, and mortgage rates jumped.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: March Retail Sales Bounce Back

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/22/18 8:35 AM

In this week’s economic review, the average fixed mortgage rate increased, retail sales rebounded, and housing starts posted a strong month for multi-family units.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Sentiment Pulls Back in April

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/15/18 9:10 AM

In this week’s economic review, the average fixed mortgage rate held relatively steady, job openings and hiring declined, and consumer prices and sentiment slipped.

   

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Weekly Economic Review: March Jobs Report Falls Short

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/8/18 7:15 AM

In this week’s economic review, the average fixed mortgage rate softened, consumer credit spending weakened, and March job growth was disappointing.

    

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Sentiment Hits a 14-Year High

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/1/18 11:19 AM

In this week’s economic review, home prices jumped, consumer spending and sentiment increased, and pending home sales gained traction.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Jump, Supply Remains Thin

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/25/18 5:34 PM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates saw a minimal increase, existing home sales rebounded, and home prices posted strong gains.

     

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Sentiment Hits 14-Year High, Job Openings Surge to a Record High

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/18/18 9:28 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates held after rising for the past several weeks, consumer prices saw a minimal gain, retail sales fell, and housing starts and permits dropped despite strong builder confidence.

  

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Market Booms in February, Unemployment Remains at 17-Year Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/11/18 2:40 PM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate increased, payroll growth surpassed expectations, and credit spending slowed.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales Slump

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/4/18 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate increased, new home sales and pending home sales fell, and consumer confidence remained strong despite market volatility.

    

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Weekly Economic Review: January Existing Home Sales Tumble

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/25/18 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate was up, home resales fell despite a small bump in inventory, and existing home median prices dropped.

  

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Level in Nearly Four Years

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/18/18 3:40 PM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate continued its upward climb, home builders remain confident in the market, and consumer sentiment was high despite falling retail sales.

  

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Weekly Economic Review: December Job Openings Slide to 7-Month Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/11/18 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate continued its upward climb, job openings fell unexpectedly despite strength in the labor market, and consumers are spending increasingly more on credit. 

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Weekly Economic Review: U.S. Wages Growing at Fastest Rate Since 2009

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/4/18 9:30 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate continued to climb, the employment report posted gains, and the Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate as-is.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Decline as Supply Drops to a Record Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/28/18 12:55 PM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate continued to climb, the U.S. economy ended 2017 on a strong note, and home sales fell in December.

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The Tea Tree - Focus Friday Ep. 28

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/25/18 11:21 AM

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Weekly Economic Review: Purchase & Refinance Applications Climb Alongside Mortgage Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/21/18 10:58 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate climbed past 4 percent for the first time in 26 weeks, housing starts ended the year with a steep drop, and home builders continue to express confidence in the market as homebuyer traffic builds.

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Weekly Economic Review: December Jobs Report Comes in Below Expectations

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/7/18 11:22 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates fell, December job creation was well below forecast levels, and construction spending expanded.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Slow, Year’s End Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/30/17 9:39 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates ended the year on a higher note, home prices posted gains, and pending home sales point to a slower December sales report.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Raises Rates, Retail Sales Impress

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/17/17 7:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, hiring gained steam in October, retail sales increased, the Fed moved on rates, and mortgage rates held steady.

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Weekly Economic Review: November Employment Report Exceeds Expectations

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/10/17 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, nonfarm payrolls grew more than expected and consumers are reporting high optimism in current economic conditions while spending more on revolving credit.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Builder Confidence Jumps to 8-Month High

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/19/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, home builders are optimistic heading into the end of the year, retail sales and consumer prices disappointed, and a jump in housing completions are adding much-needed inventory to the market.

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Weekly Economic Review: September Job Openings Near All-Time High

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/12/17 12:24 PM

In this week’s economic review, preliminary consumer sentiment dropped, job openings continued to increase while hiring remained stagnant, and mortgage rates declined slightly.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged, Unemployment Falls to 17-Year Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/5/17 4:27 PM

In this week’s economic review, consumer confidence hits a 17-year high, the Fed leaves rates unchanged, and the unemployment rate fell to a new low.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Surge, US Economic Growth Surpasses Expectations

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/29/17 11:19 AM

In this week’s economic review, new home sales hit a major stride, home prices increased, and consumer sentiment came in at a 13-year high.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Rebound Despite Low Supply

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/22/17 2:44 PM

In this week’s economic review, existing home sales posted their first gain in months and home builder optimism increased as housing starts and permits came in below low-end estimates.

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Weekly Economic Review:  Retail Sales Surge, Consumer Sentiment at 13-Year High

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/15/17 3:23 PM

In this week’s economic review, job openings declined and consumer prices climbed while retail sales and consumer sentiment soared. Mortgage rates ended the week slightly higher.

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Weekly Economic Review: 33,000 Jobs Lost in September, Unemployment Rate Dips

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/8/17 10:54 AM

In this week’s economic review, the hurricanes' influence was largely felt in some economic reports, like employment, and lessened in others. Mortgage rates ended the week with a small increase.  

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales Fall Sharply

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/1/17 6:43 PM

In this week’s economic review, pending home sales continue to fall, consumer confidence and sentiment remain considerably strong, and GDP shows the U.S. economy is growing at a steady pace.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Fall to One-Year Low, Mortgage Rates Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/24/17 5:37 PM

In this week’s economic review, existing homes sales dropped to a two-year low in the South, home prices cooled at the end of summer, and mortgage rates continued to fall.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings at All-Time High, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/17/17 3:56 PM

In this week’s economic review, the economy begins to feel the effects of Harvey and Irma, employers are still struggling to find qualified candidates to fill jobs, consumer prices hit a stride, and mortgage rates held steady.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Hit Another 2017 Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/10/17 2:13 PM

In this week’s economic review, sinking mortgage rates entice homebuyers and refinancing homeowners and the consumer credit report posts a sizable gain.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Hit New 2017 Low, Economy Grows at Fastest Pace in Two Years

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/3/17 2:11 PM

In this week’s economic review, home price data showed stagnancy, consumer confidence continued to increase, mortgage rates continued their downslide, and the economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the second quarter of 2017.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pace of Home Sales Hits Lowest Level in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/27/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, home sales fell unexpectedly in July, home price gains slowed, and mortgage rates dropped.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Builders Confident in Housing Market, Retails Sales Pick Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/20/17 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, retail sales picked up steam, builders are feeling optimistic about the housing market, and mortgage rates saw little change over the past week.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Down, Job Openings Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/13/17 9:30 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates went down, consumer prices continue to signal weak inflation, and job openings increased sharply while hiring fell.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Pick Up Despite Fast-Paced Markets

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/6/17 9:46 AM

In this week’s economic review, contract signings posted a gain, job creation exceeded expectations, and mortgage rates saw little change.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Down, Existing Home Sales Drop as Prices Continue to Climb

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/30/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates drop again, existing home sales fall as median prices rise and the Fed leaves rates as-is.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Construction Rebounds in June, Mortgage Rates Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/23/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates drop and home builder confidence falls despite a big jump in housing starts and permits.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Rise, Consumer Spending & Sentiment Fall Unexpectedly

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/16/17 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates increased to their highest levels since spring, hiring spiked, and consumer spending and sentiment took some unexpected declines.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Continue Their 3-Month Decline

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/2/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, pending home sales slumped, consumer confidence remains unusually high, and first quarter GDP gained a much-needed upward revision.

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Weekly Economic Review: Housing Market Rebounds in May, Prices Continue to Rise

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/25/17 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the housing market generated some positive news with both new and existing home sales gaining some much-needed ground and home prices continuing to climb.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Bumps Rates, Several Economic Reports Fall Short for May

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/18/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the Federal Reserve bumped the federal funds rate, consumer sales, pricing and sentiment fell, and housing starts and home builder confidence stumbled.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Continue to Slide

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/11/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates continued their month-long slide, job opportunities were fruitful in April, and consumers didn’t spend much on credit, despite continuing consumer confidence.

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What You Can Expect to Spend on 10 Common Home Repairs & Replacements (Infographic)

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/10/17 9:05 AM

Homeowners spent more on home improvement between February 2016 and February 2017 than they did between February 2015 and February 2016, according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Report. Why does this matter? Because it not only reflects that homeowners are feeling confident in the economy but are also feeling confident in their financial ability to make investments in their homes.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: May’s Employment Report Weaker Than Expected

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/6/17 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the unemployment rate dropped due to lack of participation in the labor market, home prices continue to rise at a strong pace, and mortgage rates fell to a 2017 low.

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7 Signs It’s the Right Time to Sell Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/2/17 8:30 AM

Your neighbors listed and sold their home near asking price within a week has you wondering – am I ready to sell my own home? The decision to upsize, downsize or simply relocate is one that requires a lot of thought based a variety of factors. Here are some signs that selling your home might be a good option for you this summer.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Disappoint in April, Demand Still Outstripping Home Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/29/17 1:09 PM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates were down for a second week in a row, new and existing home sales dropped in April and home prices continue to edge upward.

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Home Design Inspiration: 7 Tips for Choosing Your Home’s Interior Color Palette

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/26/17 8:55 AM

Choosing the right color combo for your home’s interior is no small feat. You want to covey a certain mood and style and have your palette flow seamlessly throughout your home all while avoiding adding too much color. It’s a task! Here are some tips to help you achieve a cohesive look.

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Weekly Economic Review: Homebuilders Confident in Sales, New Home Starts Dip

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/22/17 10:56 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates drop, and homebuilders remain confident in existing and future new home sales, despite new home starts stumbling in April.

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How to Set Up (and Stick To) a Home Repair Budget as a First-Time Homeowner

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/19/17 7:00 AM

You ran the numbers on buying versus renting, the mortgage payments on different home prices and the costs of utilities, but have you budgeted for big-ticket and seasonal home maintenance costs? Give yourself peace of mind by preparing for the costs of homeownership upfront.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings See Upswing in March, Hiring Lags

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/15/17 9:04 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates increased and consumer sentiment remained strong while consumer prices and sales saw only marginal gains this spring.

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The Biggest Outdoor Living Trends for 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/12/17 8:00 AM

In the market for new patio furniture and/or accessories? We’ve compiled some of the biggest trends on the market so you can get your deck decked out for summer entertaining.

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Weekly Economic Review: Unemployment Rate at 10-Year Low, Economy Added 211,000 Jobs in April

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/8/17 9:50 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates held steady following the Fed meeting and a weak first quarter of economic growth. Employment data was extremely favorable for April, paving the way for another Fed rate hike in June.

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7 Tips for Your First Year of Homeownership

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/5/17 8:00 AM

As a first-time homebuyer, you had a lot on your plate. From saving for a down payment and closing costs to keeping your credit score mortgage-ready and finding a home that suited your needs, you accomplished a lot even before purchasing your first home.

Now that you’ve closed on your home, there are still some things to consider to keep your first year of homeownership a positive experience.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Reach 8-Month High, Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/1/17 10:19 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates increased after weeks of declines, home prices continue to rise and new home sales saw a higher-than-expected increase.

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From Builder-Grade to Upgraded: 7 DIY Projects to Update Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/28/17 11:11 AM

Builder-grade is a bit of a misleading term. When you think of home builders, you likely think of custom grade products, but on the contrary, builder-grade materials are on the bottom of the pyramid, as far as quality goes. Nevertheless, builder-grade homes are common and give you tons of opportunities to revamp and update them to your own style. See our list of builder-grade updates that will give you a big return without draining your bank account.

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Home Sales Boom Heading Into the Busiest Homebuying Season of the Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/24/17 1:13 PM

Despite higher mortgage rates and home prices, houses are flying off the market this spring, according to the National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales Report released last Friday. Home resales boomed by 4.4 percent in March, the best month-to-date since February 2007.

 

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Choosing the Right Flooring Option for Each Room in Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/23/17 12:11 PM

Choosing flooring can seem like a daunting task. You have to consider wear and tear, cost, lifespan, installation, etc. To make this renovation decision a little bit easier, we’ve rounded up some of the best flooring types for each room in your home.

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Home Décor Inspiration: What's Your Interior Design Style?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/22/17 9:05 AM

When it comes to interior design, there are dozens of styles to gain inspiration from. From classic furnishings to retro eclecticism, sometimes it can be hard to figure out where you fall in line. Here’s our list of some of the many top décor and interior design styles to figure out where you land.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Drop to 5-Month Low, Home Resales at 10-Year High

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/21/17 10:04 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates returned to favorable lows while reports showed that home prices continue to rise and listed homes are selling quickly.

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Mortgage 101: What Is Title Insurance and Why Do You Need It to Buy a Home?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/19/17 9:19 AM

Though insurance isn’t likely one of your biggest concerns when it comes to purchasing a home, understanding why you need it and how it protects you is essential. You need various types of insurance to make a home purchase, and title insurance is one of those. See how it gives you peace of mind throughout the homebuying and homeownership process.

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Mortgage 101: How Your Mortgage Lender Determines Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/17/17 2:21 PM

Credit card companies, auto dealerships and mortgage lenders are just a few of the institutions that will assess your credit score before deciding if and how much they are willing to lend you and at what interest rate. When it comes to getting pre-approved for a mortgage, your credit score is one of the most influential factors determining your eligibility for a loan, so knowing how your mortgage lender determines that score is essential.

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6 Features Empty-Nesters Should Look For in Their Next Home Purchase

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/16/17 10:00 AM

The kids have flown the nest and you’re faced with the proverbial decision on your lifelong home – do you stay or do you go? While it’s never an easy decision to sell and buy again, “downsizing” paves the way for a new style of homeownership. If you’re thinking of purchasing a new home as an empty-nester here are a few things to consider in your search.

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It's Almost Tax Day - Did You Catch All of Your Homeowner Tax Perks?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/15/17 9:00 AM

From personalizing your living space to creating a stable family living environment, there are several personal benefits of owning your own home. On the financial side, tax benefits are one of the biggest perks of homeownership. In honor of the upcoming tax day, we’ve compiled the list of the biggest tax breaks homeowners receive.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Prices Drop for the First Time in a Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/14/17 9:57 AM

In this week’s economic review, job openings were up considerably but hiring lagged, consumer sentiment continued to increase, mortgage rates declined, and consumer prices dropped significantly.

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When Is the Best Time to Buy Your First House?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/12/17 8:00 AM

Buying your first home used to fall in line with a sequence of other big life events. You got a job, you got married and you bought a home. Many of today’s first-time homebuyers have broken away from that series – getting married later, having kids later and settling into homeownership later. So that begs the question: when is the best time to buy your first house?

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Bank, Broker or Mortgage Banker: Which Type of Mortgage Lender Is Right For You?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/10/17 10:13 AM

When buying a home, you have a lot of choices: what type of loan you want to use, what neighborhood you want to purchase in, which real estate agent you want to work with, etc. When you apply for a mortgage, a big choice is what type of mortgage lender you want to do your financing. Will you go to your bank, find a mortgage broker or work with a mortgage banker? We’ve laid out the definition of each type of lender to help you make the choice that’s right for you.

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Selling Your Home: 4 Ways to Appeal to Millennial Buyers

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/9/17 12:24 PM

If you’re selling your home and want it to sell quickly and for top-dollar (doesn’t everyone?), you need to prepare your home to appeal to the widest group of homebuyers. Today, that demographic is the Millennials, who were behind 60 percent of home purchases in 2016. This generation has been shaping the market the last few years, and while you don’t need to turn your house into the Millennial dream home, a few things are suggested to appeal to this type of homebuyer.

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7 Telltale Signs It’s Time to Upsize Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/8/17 9:00 AM

You’ve probably been told that the longer you stay in a home, the more financially beneficial homeownership is. But when you’ve been living in your 2-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom home for six years and added two kids and a dog into your household, how long is too long. After all, starter homes are called starter homes for a reason. Here are a few ways to tell it’s time to upsize your home.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Growth Softened Significantly in March

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/7/17 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates fell back for the third week in a row, consumer spending continued to pick up and March’s employment report disappointed.

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7 Ways the Fed Rate Hikes Affect You

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/5/17 8:00 AM

If you've been following news in the economic world, you know that last month the Federal Reserve moved on the decision to raise the federal funds rate for the first time in 2017 and the third time since December 2015. While their decision reflects an improving economy, there are a few ways the rate increase affects you as a consumer.

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Mortgage 101: What's the Difference Between Your APR and Your Mortgage Rate?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/3/17 9:43 AM

Buying and financing a home includes navigating the world of mortgage terminology, a lot of which are acronyms, i.e. DTI, PMI, PITI, and APR. When shopping for a mortgage or any type of credit product, for that matter, keep in mind that the advertised interest rate isn't the same as your loan's annual percentage rate (APR). Here's what you should know about the difference between a mortgage rate and APR.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…to List Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/2/17 8:00 AM

Though every real estate market is different, the spring and summer months are a very popular time for sellers to list their homes. In fact, a new Zillow analysis found that in all but five of the U.S.’s biggest markets, the best month to list your home is April or May.

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Speed Spring Cleaning: 6 Important Areas of Your Home That You Should Clean First

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/1/17 8:00 AM

In a perfect world, we’d all have the time for a whole-home cleaning session. As the weather warms up and you’re shuffling kids back and forth to activities or simply trying to spend some time outdoors, you may find your spring cleaning checklist on the back burner. To help you condense your spring cleaning routine, we’ve compiled a list of the most important tasks to tackle inside your home.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Confidence Soars, Pending Home Sales Pick Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/31/17 8:16 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates softened for the second week in a row, pending home sales painted a pick-up for the beginning of the spring homebuying season and consumer confidence levels hit 17-year highs.

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Mortgage 101: How Long Does It Really Take to Buy a House?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/29/17 9:00 AM

Buying a home takes several steps, especially if you’re like the majority of homebuyers who finance their homes. While you’re eager to get into your new house, you’ll need to practice patience in a few of the steps throughout the homebuying process. Here are some typical timeframes of the steps to buying a home.

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Buying a New Build: Spec Home, Custom or Production – What’s Right for You?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/27/17 6:23 AM

You’ve weighed the pros and cons from pricing and customization to location and home maintenance and decided that a new home is a better fit for you than purchasing an existing home. But what type of new home is the right choice for you? Learn the differences here.

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Spring Housing Market Update: 5 Facts for Homebuyers and Sellers

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/26/17 12:35 PM

As one of the most popular times of the year to buy or sell a home, the 2017 spring housing market is off to an early start. See what mortgage rates, home prices, homebuyer traffic and home inventory are doing to shape this year’s spring market.

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The Best Home Improvements to Complete in the Springtime

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/25/17 8:00 AM

Spring is officially here! If you’re anxious to head outdoors and tackle your spring cleaning and home maintenance to-do list, here are a few home improvement projects that can give you the best of both worlds (and are best completed in the spring).

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Drop, New Home Sales Jump

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/24/17 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates softened, existing home inventory improved and new home sales climbed, mostly due to softened pricing.

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3 Reasons a Loan Commitment Is Essential for Homebuyers This Spring

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/22/17 8:00 AM

With mortgage rates still favorable, home prices rising and the number of existing homes on the market near record a record low, having sound financing is essential if you hope to purchase a home heading into the busiest homebuying season of the year. Here’s how a loan commitment gives you a head start against other buyers in the market.

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The Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy a Home – and Why They’re Wrong

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/20/17 8:00 AM

Buying a home isn’t the right choice for everyone, but many renters self-exclude themselves from homeownership based on misconceptions they have about the home financing and homebuying process. If owning a home is a priority for you, don’t let these mortgage and homeownership myths discourage you from making it a reality.


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8 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Home for Spring

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/19/17 8:30 AM

Transitioning seasons incite many homeowners to take on change with home improvements and décor. As the weather slowly grows warmer, you’ll likely be looking for ways to transform your cozy winter home into a light and breezy respite for spring. Here are a few quick ways to do that.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Moves on Interest Rates, Mortgage Rates Continue to Climb

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/18/17 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic view, the Fed made moves on hiking interest rates for the second time in three months, home builders grew even more confident in the new home market, and job openings were in line with their 2-year trend. Mortgage rates continued their climb.

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Homeowner Tips: 10 Efficient Ways to Create a Greener Household

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/17/17 9:05 AM

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today we’re seeing in shades of green; green homes, that is. Though green living seems expensive and time-consuming, you don’t have to install solar panels or starting growing your own produce to become an energy-conscious household. You can easily reduce your carbon footprint, while minimizing your utility bills with these ten cost-efficient and painless steps.

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What Are Your Home Financing Options When You Have a Lower Credit Score?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/15/17 9:05 AM

Credit scores are a huge part of the loan approval process. They not only determine your eligibility for home financing but can also determine what mortgage rate you will qualify for. But what if your credit score falls on the lower side of the spectrum?

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8 Quick & Simple Home Improvements That Do Wonders for Your Curb Appeal

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/13/17 11:14 AM

When you think of home renovations, you’re likely dreaming of a kitchen remodel or new flooring. You’re not alone; interior home improvements and renovations are highly coveted but oftentimes, a home’s exterior is put on the backburner. Here are some relatively cheap DIY projects that can transform your curb appeal.

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5 Mistakes That Could Derail Your Homebuying Plans

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/12/17 1:46 PM

Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime, so it makes sense that preparing to buy one takes a little longer than most other purchases. With that being said, there are several mistakes you should avoid if you hope to purchase a home in the next few months.

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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Forgo Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/11/17 10:00 AM

Think of all the tasks you no longer need to hire out. You don’t need a travel agent to book a vacation. You don’t need to hire a web developer to design a website. So in a DIY age with the world of real estate readily available at your keyboard, do you really need a real estate agent? Yes. Here’s why.

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Weekly Economic Review: February Job Growth Thrives, Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/10/17 9:57 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates increased, consumer spending jumped in February, and booming job growth boosted the likelihood of Fed rate hike in March.

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Homeowners Have Missed Out on Billions in Refinance Savings – Is It Too Late for You?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/8/17 9:45 AM

American homeowners could have saved a combined $5.5 billion by refinancing their mortgages in 2010 and 2012, according to a new study published in the Journal of Financial Economics. Despite historically low mortgage rates, homeowners didn’t make refinancing a top priority, which prompts the question: with mortgage rates rising in 2017, is it too late for you?


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Are You Ready to Buy a Home? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself First

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/6/17 10:00 AM

Rising rental costs, low mortgage rates, financial benefits, and the ability to customize your living space are just a few of the many reasons first-time homebuyers want to take the plunge into homeownership. Regardless, buying is a big commitment and it’s crucial to make sure it’s the right lifestyle and financial choice for you. Here are a few questions to ask yourself first.

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Downsizing Your Home: 5 Tips for Making the Move Into a Smaller House

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/5/17 10:00 AM

The reasons to upsize or downsize a home are as diverse as each individual family circumstance, but one qualm of moving into a smaller home is – what are you going to do with all of your belongings? Whether you’re an empty nester, are downsizing homes for a lower maintenance lifestyle, or evoking a new sense of minimalism, here are a few tips for an easier transition into your smaller home.

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Building the Millennial Dream Home: What Home Features This Generation Wants in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/4/17 9:27 AM

Millennials made waves in the 2016 housing market as the largest generational percentage of homebuyers. They were more likely to skip over traditional starter homes and more likely to consider purchasing a new build. See what home features this young generation of homebuyers would choose when given an array of options.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Disappoint, Consumer Confidence at Post-Election High

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/3/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates declined while the pending home sales index offset the outlook for future existing home sales. Reports released this week also highlighted consumer confidence, as well as confidence in the job market.

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Housing Market Trends: Why Millions of Americans Are Opting for Multigenerational Households

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/1/17 10:00 AM

The jolt of the recession affected the housing market in many ways, but a 2016 study says that one of those effects may become a longer-term housing market trend. In the economic downturn, adults lost their homes and adult children “boomeranged” home after college, and for some, living with multiple generations under one roof became commonplace. But as the economy has rebounded, multigenerational homes have become even more popular, stimulating a brand new market that is much more than a guest bedroom for in-laws over the holidays.

 

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6 Ways Multi-Generational & First-Time Buyers Can Benefit From the HomeReady Mortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/27/17 9:38 AM

Down payment requirements, carrying other monthly debt and building mortgage-ready credit are common hurdles for today’s homebuyers. A relatively new mortgage product addresses these issues and makes home financing accessible to creditworthy low- to moderate-income homebuyers through Fannie Mae’s HomeReady™ program. Here’s how the HomeReady mortgage can benefit first-time homebuyers or homebuyers looking to purchase a multi-generational home.

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11 Ways to Love Your Home Even More in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/26/17 9:04 AM

Owning a home is a symbol of the American Dream - something we all can be appreciative of. Nevertheless, homeownership is an ever-changing and sometimes challenging journey. Whether you fell in love with your home the moment you stepped inside or are still finding ways to make it your own, here are a few ways to love and appreciate your home a little more this year.

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The First-Time Homeowner's Guide to Spring Home Maintenance

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/25/17 10:00 AM

The official first day of spring is nearing! Is your home ready? As the days grow longer and the weather becomes milder, it’s essential for homeowners to address any damage caused by the winter elements, as well as get their home ready for a brand new season. If you're a first-time homeowner still learning the basics of home maintenance, here’s a quick list of preventative tasks to complete over the next few weeks.

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Weekly Economic Review: January Home Sales Hit a Stride Despite Limited Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/24/17 9:43 AM

In this week’s economic review, new and existing home sales saw opposite results heading into 2017 while home prices in both indexes saw losses. The Fed released minutes from their most recent meeting, which suggested the likelihood of another interest rate hike.

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5 Tips for House Hunting in a Market with Low Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/22/17 9:00 AM

Low existing home inventory isn’t new housing market issue. Low mortgage rates and rising home values have made many real estate markets extremely competitive with homes selling above listing price within a matter of days. According to the most recent existing home sales report, inventory is at its lowest in nearly two decades. Here’s how you can prepare for buying a home when inventory is tight.

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Mortgage 101: How to Get $7,500 in Down Payment Assistance as a First-Time Homebuyer

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/20/17 10:06 AM

With mortgage rates and rent prices climbing on top of the availability of several down payment assistance programs, there’s no better reason to purchase your first home sooner rather than later. Here’s how the Illinois Housing Development Authority's loan program 1stHomeIllinois makes homeownership even more enticing for first-time buyers.

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Existing Home or New Build: Which Home Type Is Right for You?

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/19/17 10:00 AM

Everyone knows buying a home comes with a vast array of decisions. One of the bigger choices is what home type is right for you. Do you place value on architectural features over energy efficiency? Are you looking for a home you can customize or are you an avid DIY-er? Choosing between purchasing an existing home, a newly built spec home or a new construction home comes down to several factors. Here are a few things to think about.

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7 Little-To-No-Cost Ways to Prepare Your Home to Sell

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/18/17 10:03 AM

When it comes time to sell a home, most homeowners have a common goal: sell above list price and sell quickly. Getting there depends on your area’s real estate market, as well as the degree to which you prepare your home for the market. We’ve compiled a list of things that have a zero-to-little price tag that will help get your home ready to hit the market.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Prices Hit Largest Gain in 4 Years, Home Builder Confidence Falls

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/17/17 9:14 AM

In this week’s economic review, January’s consumer prices hit a stride, retail sales increased and home builder confidence slipped. Mortgage rates eased slightly.

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Smart Ways to Put Your Tax Refund Into Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/15/17 10:00 AM

Getting a check back this year? According to the IRS, the average refund is just over $3,000. Before you start planning your refund-funded shopping spree, think of the many ways you could invest that return into one of your biggest tax deductions – your home. We’ve compiled some smart, value-adding and lower-cost ways to use that refund check toward your house.

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Buying or Refinancing? Receive Up to $20,000 in Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/13/17 10:18 AM

Closing costs and down payments are common homebuying hurdles. Though low down payment mortgage options are readily available to homebuyers, adding that with 2 to 5 percent of a home’s purchase price in closing costs can tally up quickly. The Compass Grant Program is here to help borrowers cut down on those costs.

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Don’t Miss Your Chance to Refinance: Take Advantage of the FHA Streamline

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/12/17 10:00 AM

If you’ve been keeping an eye on mortgage rates, you know that while they’re still low, they’re climbing. As refinance activity in the mortgage world has dropped to less than 50 percent, studies are showing that rising rates are removing millions of eligible borrowers from the refinance pool. Don’t miss your chance to lower your rate!

 

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19 Low-Budget Ways to Upgrade Every Room in Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/11/17 4:11 PM

New year, new home! Whether you’re preparing to sell your home this spring or the “blah” of winter has you itching to transform the interior of your home, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you accomplish a whole home makeover on a tight budget.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings Decrease, Consumer Confidence Remains High

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/10/17 11:07 AM

In this week’s economic review, the gap between job openings and hiring narrowed slightly and consumer sentiment and spending eased. Mortgage rates fell minimally while the refinancing share of mortgage activity fell to a 7-year low.

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First-Time Homebuyer FAQ: How Is a Home Appraisal Calculated?

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/8/17 9:30 AM

You’ve been pre-approved for home financing, found a home and settled on a purchase agreement; now what? Whether you’re buying a home or refinancing your mortgage, the value of the property in question needs to be determined through a home appraisal. So how do appraisers attach value? Here are few first-time homebuyer FAQ’s about home appraisals and the answers.

 

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First-Time Homebuyer FAQ: Can I Apply for Credit When Getting a Mortgage?

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/6/17 10:00 AM

Your loan has been fully approved and closing day has been marked on your calendar. While anticipating the day your home finally becomes your own, you’ve started to browse for furniture and appliances to deck out your new digs and intend on applying for a store credit card to score a discount. But wait; can you apply for credit when getting a mortgage?

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How to Finance Home Renovations with the FHA 203k Mortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/5/17 11:00 AM

Fixer-upper listings have recently been on the rise, according to a recent Zillow analysis. The number of homes listed with descriptive terms like “needs work” and “TLC” is up 12 percent from five years ago. But how does a homebuyer finance those home renovation projects? Today, we’re highlighting one of the most popular financing options borrowers, the FHA 203k loan.

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Home Organization: 10 Ways to Tackle a Cluttered Kitchen

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/4/17 10:00 AM

It makes sense that the most used part of the home – the kitchen – often becomes the most cluttered. Kitchen gadgets, small appliances, recipe books and so forth go from being necessities to utter annoyances. Here’s how to tackle a kitchen that is bursting at the seams.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales, Home Prices & Job Growth See Gains

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/3/17 9:44 AM

In this week’s economic review, reports featured strength in pending home sales, home prices, consumer confidence, and job growth, as well as the Fed’s as-expected decision to leave rates unchanged.

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Mortgage 101: What Does It Mean to Lock My Mortgage Rate and When Should I Do It?

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/1/17 10:13 AM

Home prices rise, home inventory fluctuates, homebuyer demand increases – timing is a big part of homebuying and home financing. If you’ve been paying attention to any economic news, you know that for the last several months, mortgage rates have been climbing from their historical lows. So if you’re planning to purchase a home soon, what does it mean to lock an interest rate and when should you do it?

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Buying vs. Renting: Doing the Math on What's Best for You

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/30/17 12:11 PM

In 2014, 11 million renters were spending at least half of their income on housing, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Another 21.3 million (over 50 percent of renters) were spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent payments. So in an era where rent costs are going up, up, up, how do you decide whether buying a home or continuing to pay the landlord’s mortgage is the right financial choice for you? Here are several things you should factor in when considering the buying vs. renting scenario.

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Buying a Vacation Home: How to Find the Best Place to Purchase

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/29/17 10:34 AM

It’s that time of year again. Dreary skies and cool temps coupled with spring break planning has you thinking of what it’s actually like to own a home in your favorite vacation spot. In 2015, vacation homebuyers accounted for 16 percent of all homebuyers, which is historically high, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2016 Investment & Vacation Home Buyers Survey. If a vacation home has been on your mind, here’s what you need to know about financing and choosing a good second home investment.

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The Top 10 Home Renovations & Improvements for 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/28/17 9:00 AM

Thinking of making some changes – major or minor – to your home this year? According to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling Magazine, your homeowner dollars are best spent on some of these renovation and home improvement projects. What they are might surprise you.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Inventory Drops to 17-Year Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/27/17 12:08 PM

This week’s economic review includes existing home and new home sales data, which dropped in December, limited home inventory, rising mortgage rates and home price data.

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7 Ways You Benefit as a Homeowner During Tax Season

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/25/17 9:55 AM

From personalizing your living space to creating a stable family living environment, there are several personal benefits of owning your own home. On the financial side, tax benefits are one of the biggest perks of homeownership. See how homeowners come out ahead during tax season.

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Pre-Approval vs. Loan Commitment: What You Need to Understand About the Difference

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/23/17 9:32 AM

We’re only months away from the busiest homebuying season. Whether you’re planning to make a home purchase yet this winter or are waiting until spring, you’re likely making strides to get your credit score and finances in the best shape possible. Another step you should pay a good amount of attention to: your path to home financing. Here’s what you need to know about pre-approvals versus loan commitments to determine which is the right step for you.


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Buying Your First Home: What to Expect on Your Loan Application (Infographic)

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/22/17 9:54 AM

After pre-approval, compiling your loan application is one of the first official steps toward achieving home financing. You mortgage banker will have some paperwork for you and you will have to compile some paperwork for them to verify your employment, income, available funds and home you wish to purchase.

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How to Sidestep 9 of the Biggest First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/21/17 11:04 AM

Buying a home is a big financial and lifestyle decision, and if it’s your first home, it can be nerve-racking. Though your mortgage banker and real estate agent will be there to guide you, there are certain things you should be aware of before jumping into your homebuying journey. Here’s our list of the biggest first-time homebuyer blunders and how to avoid them.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Drop Again, Home Builders Confident Heading Into New Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/20/17 10:17 AM

This week’s biggest economic news stories centered on dropping mortgage rates, housing market confidence and the consumer price index.

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Should You Pay Additional Principal on Your Mortgage? 5 Things to Consider First

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/18/17 10:15 AM

You’ve likely dreamed of the day that you would own your home free and clear. If you want to see that day sooner rather than later, you know that making additional principal payments is your route to mortgage freedom. While there are several benefits of paying additional principal on your mortgage, there are several variables that determine whether it's the right choice for your financial situation right now.

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9 Tasks You Should Start Doing If You Want to Sell Your Home This Spring

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/16/17 10:15 AM

Spring is one of the best times of year to sell your home, according to a 2016 Zillow study. Homes that were listed between May 1st and May 15th sold around 18.5 days faster and for 1 percent more than the average listing. Though May might seem ages away, preparing to sell your home takes as much preparation as purchasing a home. Here’s our list of items you should start to take care of now.

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Why Location Matters & How to Scout Out the Best Spot When Buying Your First Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/15/17 10:25 AM

“Location, location, location” wouldn’t be the real estate industry’s catchphrase if it didn’t hold any weight. Nevertheless, the slogan is right. You can change a home but you can’t change its location. Here’s why location matters when it comes to a potential home purchase and how to scout out the best neighborhood to buy in.

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8 Ways to Enhance Your Home's Winter Curb Appeal

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/14/17 10:00 AM

Short days, dreary skies and mucky streets; it’s no wonder keeping your home’s exterior appearance is such a task come wintertime. Whether you’re looking to list your home this winter or just want a more pleasant exterior to come to, here are several ways to up your winter curb appeal.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Fall for Second Week in a Row

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/13/17 10:15 AM

This week’s biggest economic news stories centered on mortgage rates and job openings and hiring. Mortgage rates experienced their first decline last week after a 9-week climb and fell yet again this week.

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7 Ways to Build Mortgage-Ready Credit in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/11/17 9:00 AM

Preparing to buy a home should start long before walking through a potential home to purchase, so if buying a home is one of your 2017 resolutions, you will find these tips helpful for building a healthy credit score. Your first official step to buying a home should always be meeting with a lender for a pre-approval, but your credit is a mortgage factor you should be continually working on when you're wanting to achieve home financing.

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Mortgage 101: Which Mortgage Is Right for You?

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/9/17 10:06 AM

Buying a home can come with an overwhelming amount of choices. What school district do you want to purchase in? Who should you choose for a real estate agent? How much can you afford to spend on your home purchase? Just like choosing a home style, there are several loan types and programs made to benefit a wide range of homebuyers.

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7 Ways to Tell It Might Be Time to Sell Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/8/17 10:00 AM

You’ve been hunting local real estate listings and dreaming of a larger backyard, kitchen, master bedroom, etc., but you’re not sure if it’s the right time to make that leap and sell your house. Here are several good reasons why you might want to take advantage of the market and upsize or downsize.

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5 Reasons 2017 Is Your Year to Buy a Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/7/17 8:16 AM

Tired of paying your landlord's mortgage? Keeping your eye on mortgage rates? Want to cash in on the tax benefits of homeownership? There are a million reasons why buying a home is a good idea, so we’ve compiled some of the biggest reasons why you should make your home purchase in 2017.

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Weekly Economic Review:  Job Growth Weakens, Wages Reach Post-Crisis High

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/6/17 9:44 AM

This week's economic review centers on job growth, which ended the year softer than expected. Mortgage rates, which had been on a 9-week climb, experienced the first drop (12 basis points) since November.

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How to Receive Up to $20,000 in Down Payment Assistance

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/5/17 9:30 AM

Closing costs and down payments are common homebuying hurdles. With that being said, we are excited to announce our introduction of Associated Bank’s Homeowner’s Edge Loan Plus (HELP) program at Compass Mortgage.

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Mortgage 101: What Are Closing Costs and How Can You Minimize Them?

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/4/17 10:00 AM

When you get a mortgage, you will most likely be paying closing costs at the finalization of your purchase or refinance. These costs, which typically range from 2 to 5 percent of your home’s purchase price, are charged by your mortgage lender and third parties that have performed services related to your home purchase (a lot of behind-the-scenes players are involved in the home buying and financing process). See here what you can expect to pay within your closing costs and ways you can try to minimize what you need to bring to closing.

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4 Ways to Grow Your Home Equity

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/2/17 9:33 AM

Think of your home as a large piggy bank. With every monthly mortgage payment, you’re putting money into that piggy bank. If or when the time comes that you need it, that equity is there to use to your liking. So how can you increase your home equity at a faster pace? See here.

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7 New Year's Resolutions to Make to Buy a Home in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/1/17 10:00 AM

Happy New Year! 2016 was a hot year in the real estate market with high homebuyer demand, low inventory and historically low mortgage rates throughout the majority of the year. If this is the year you want to become a homeowner, here are 7 resolutions to make to set yourself up for the best homebuying and home financing experience.


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10 Ways to Cut Costs on Common Household Expenses in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/31/16 9:00 AM

With 2016 in the rearview, it’s a good time to sit down and determine your financial goals for the new year. Whether you want to save for a large purchase, invest more aggressively in your retirement portfolio or just want to have a bigger safety net, you’ll need to cut costs to pave the way. Here are a few ways you can start budgeting and cut spending on everyday items around your home.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Confidence Hits 15-Year High, Pending Home Sales Stumble

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/30/16 9:00 AM

This week in economic news mortgage rates continued their climb for the ninth straight week, according to HousingWire, consumer confidence continued strengthening and pending home sales felt the squeeze of rising mortgage rates.

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8 Ways to Tackle Post-Holiday Clutter and Home Organization

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/28/16 9:39 AM

Whether you dismantle your holiday décor on December 26th or January 26th, you may already feel the reality of post-holiday disarray sinking in. There is no better time of year to tackle a cluttered home than right after a season of giving and receiving. Use these tips for an organized home heading into the new year.

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Mortgage-Ready Credit: 9 Tips for Paying Off Holiday Debt

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/26/16 10:00 AM

December spending turns into January bill-paying. If you’re suffering from the post-holiday debt blues, you’re not alone. Americans add an average of $986 in debt throughout the holiday season with less than half planning to pay off that debt in less than 5 months, according to a survey by MagnifyMoney. Whether improving your credit score or decreasing your debt is one of your resolutions in 2017, here’s how to tackle those outstanding holiday balances.

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First-Time Homeowners: 8 Essential Things to Buy After You Buy Your House

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/24/16 10:00 AM

You’ve closed on your mortgage and the moving truck has come and gone. Though you’re anxious to turn what looks like a bare house into a suitably decorated home, you need to assess what you need to buy first. Here’s our list of what every first-time homeowner should put at the top of their list.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Increase, Prices & Mortgage Rates Follow Suit

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/23/16 10:37 AM

Mortgage rates hit a two and a half year high this week after the Fed announced their expected decision to raise the federal funds rate. Existing home sales and new home sales made surprising strides in November as dwindling supply put pressure on home prices.

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2017 Housing Market: 5 Trends the Experts Are Predicting

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/21/16 10:00 AM

2016 was a hot year in the real estate market with low inventory, high demand and historically-low mortgage rates throughout the majority of the year. With mortgage rates on the rise, experts are predicting what will happen with affordability, home prices, inventory and sales speed in the new year.

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Mortgage 101: Four Things You Should Know About Buying a Home in a Homeowners' Association

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/19/16 10:00 AM

So you want to purchase a home in a community with a homeowners’ association. According to HOA-USA, there are over 351,000 homeowner assocations in the United States, representing 40 million households. Many homebuyers love the idea of enforced community appearance, included maintenance like snow removal, recreational amenities, and association management, but here are a few things you should consider when planning to purchase a home within an HOA.

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10 Homebuying & Mortgage Myths You Need to Stop Believing Now

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/18/16 10:00 AM

You’ve been diligently working on the steps to go from renting to homeownership, setting aside money for a down payment and paying down your credit cards, but are you still buying in to some of the biggest homebuying myths?

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The Beginners Guide to Buying Rental Property

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/17/16 10:00 AM

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, Americans’ top pick for “best long-term investment” is real estate, coming in ahead of stocks, mutual funds, gold, savings, CD’s and bonds. While owning your own home has an immense amount of benefits, so does purchasing and maintaining a rental property, though it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering the path of real estate investing, see what you need to consider first.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Raises Rates, Consumerism Cools in November

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/16/16 9:39 AM

Major economic news this week centered around the steady rise of mortgage rates, the anticipated Fed decision and retail sales.

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Want to Sell Your Home? See Why Listing Your Home in Winter May Pay Off

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/14/16 10:00 AM

People buy homes year-round, but when it comes to putting your home up for sale, is winter a good season to list your home? According to a recent Redfin study, spring was the best time to list a home but winter was not far behind.

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7 of the Coolest Smart Home Devices to Add to Your 2016 Holiday Wish List

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/12/16 10:00 AM

Staying connected to your home has never been so easy. Whether you want to increase your home security, keep utility bills lows or cater your home systems to your lifestyle, here are some of the top smart home devices of 2016.

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9 Energy Efficient Home Improvements That Pay for Themselves

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/11/16 10:00 AM

The average U.S. household spends upwards of $1,600 on electricity and gas alone. While you’re planning home renovations and remodeling projects in the new year, it’s worthwhile to consider some home improvements that will save you money in the long run. We’ve compiled some of the most energy efficient home improvements that will eventually pay for their investment.

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6 Ways Home Sellers Can Make Their Winter Listing Stand Out

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/10/16 10:00 AM

There are many pros and cons of winter homebuying, but what if you’re on the selling side? A recent Redfin report found that winter is the second-best time of the year to list your home, after spring, of course. Nearly eighteen percent of winter listings sell above asking price and 46.2 percent of winter listed homes are off the market within 30 days. From lighting techniques and home staging to energy efficiency, here’s how to make your winter listing draw in prospective buyers.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Reach Another Yearly High, Job Openings Slip

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/9/16 10:00 AM

This week in economic news mortgage rates continued their climb, job openings declined and daily consumer spending continued to grow in November.

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Mortgage 101: 5 Types of Insurance You May (or May Not) Need When Buying a Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/7/16 9:00 AM

Buying a home is likely the largest purchase you will make in your lifetime, so protecting it (and your belongings within it) is essential as a homeowner. There are several types of insurance associated with homebuying, some of which you have a choice in and others required by your mortgage lender to protect their collateral. See what you need here.

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Winter Housing Market Update: 6 Facts for Winter Homebuyers & Sellers

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/5/16 12:47 PM

Often pegged as the “slow season” in real estate, winter may be an optimal time for you to enter the housing market or sell your home and buy again. See what mortgage rates, home prices, homebuyer traffic and home inventory are doing to shape the winter housing market.

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Preparing to Buy Your First Home in 2017: 5 Things You Should Start Doing Now

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/4/16 12:51 PM

Increasing mortgage rates coupled with rising home prices and rent costs are among a few of the reasons 2017 could be a good year for you to buy a home. Here’s what you can and should be doing now if 2017 is the year you want to get out of the rental circuit.

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10 Home Decor & Design Trends to Watch for in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/3/16 10:55 AM

Last year interior designs were predicting large florals, bold color combos, statement pendants and soft lines. This year home design trends include eclectic mixtures, luxe fabrics and an overall cozier décor. If you’re thinking of revamping your home décor, use this list for some of the biggest trends in 2017.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Continue Climbing, Pending Home Sales Slow

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/2/16 1:10 PM

This week's economic review includes mortgage rates, which reached highs not seen in over a year. Meanwhile, employment reports indicated strength in payroll growth while the unemployment rate fell.

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Adding Value to Your Home: Should You Do a Master Suite Addition?

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/30/16 10:50 AM

The desire for a master suite has been trending upwards in the housing market, topping lists alongside updated kitchens and bathrooms and open floor plans. While the benefits of a master suite, such as a private bathroom and separation from the home’s other bedrooms, may seem priceless to some homeowners, the budget of a master suite addition can become one of the priciest home renovations.

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10 of the Best & Worst Renovation Projects for DIY Homeowners

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/28/16 12:41 PM

We're in the age of do-it-yourself homeownership. Through online tutorials and big box improvement stores, homeowners have the means and education to complete their own renovation projects, but are they happy with the overall project? According to a Zillow analysis, three-quarters of homeowners completed a DIY home improvement project in the last three years, but nearly 40 percent of those homeowners wish they hadn't.

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6 Reasons You Should Buy a Home Over the Holidays

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/27/16 11:06 AM

Holiday parties, guests, shopping, baking and cooking: would you want to add buying a house to your stacked holiday to-do list? While homebuyer traffic does decrease significantly on actual holidays, house-hunting isn't as impacted as you'd assume during the holiday season (and for good reason).

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Reach Highest Level Since 2007

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/26/16 9:58 AM

Major economic reports released this week included new and existing home sales, as well as home pricing. Mortgage rates continued to climb causing volatility in mortgage applications.

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9 Credit Mistakes to Avoid Over the Holidays

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/25/16 8:00 AM

'Tis the season for consumers to go overboard with credit cards. If you have or plan to use credit cards during your holiday shopping trips, there are several ways to effectively manage and control your debt while keeping your credit score healthy. Here are 8 credit mistakes to avoid this holiday season.

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9 of the Biggest Holiday Home Hazards & How to Avoid Them

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/23/16 10:00 AM

The cooking and baking traditions, family get-togethers, and decorating for the holidays are fast approaching. Before you cozy up to the fireplace, put up your Christmas tree, or start on your holiday baking list, make sure you house is clear of these common holiday hazards.

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12 Homebuying & Home Financing Terms All First-Time Homebuyers Should Know

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/21/16 10:00 AM

Buying a home, especially your first home, can sometimes be a confusing process. With new terms like earnest money and title search jumping out at you from purchase contracts and mortgage documents, you may find your head spinning. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the common home financing terms you should understand when purchasing a home.

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10 Ways to Cozy Up Your Home for Winter

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/20/16 10:11 AM

With the winter chill setting in, it’s time to make some simple home décor additions to make your home warm, welcoming and cozy. Use these tricks to up the coziness of your home for your family and holiday guests.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Rise, Housing Starts Surge

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/18/16 8:33 AM

This week’s economic reports centered on consumers and new home construction. Mortgage rates ended the week higher and not far from where they were a year ago.

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Fixer-Upper Listings on the Rise: What You Need to Know About Financing a Home in Need of Renovations

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/16/16 12:50 PM

As homebuyer demand continues to outpace supply, a new Zillow analysis found that there are 12% more fixer-upper homes on the market now than there were five years ago. Low existing home supply coupled with competitive homebuyers has created a seller’s market, and with high demand for houses, sellers aren’t feeling the pressure to make updates before putting their home on the market.

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10 Pros & Cons You Can Expect When Buying a Home in the Winter

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/14/16 3:01 PM

The shift in weather may have inspired thoughts of holiday shopping, but what about shopping for a home? Though spring and summer are considered the most popular seasons of the year to buy a home, don’t let winter weather and the holidays deter you from purchasing in the off-season. In fact, the best day of the year to buy a home is in late October, in regards to getting the best price deal. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to brave the weather or wait until spring, here are some pros and cons of winter homebuying.

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11 Tasks Everyone Should Complete Before Moving Into a New Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/13/16 11:19 AM

Your belongings are boxed up, the moving truck is scheduled and you've recruited family and friends to help unload on moving day. Moving to a new home is an exciting, albeit exhausting, task. Before you start unloading the moving truck, here's a list of to-do items you should take care of before you fill your new home with boxes.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Growth Slows in September, Consumer Optimism Rises

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/12/16 9:00 AM

Following this week’s election results, mortgage rates jumped to a 5-month high. While September job openings saw little change, labor market conditions are continuing to show optimism, alongside consumer reports.

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2016 Marks the Biggest Year in the History of VA Loans: 4 Ways Veteran Homebuyers Benefit

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/11/16 10:36 AM

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs guaranteed more than 707,000 home loans, making it the largest year in the history of the VA loan program. In honor of the men and women who have served our country, we’re highlighting the ways the VA loan program makes homeownership attainable and affordable for our veterans.

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13 Storage Solutions for Every Space in Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/9/16 1:57 PM

What’s the one thing it seems all homeowners want more of in their home? Space for all of their belongings. Whether you’re trying to optimize storage in a small home or looking for simple ways to cut down on clutter and get organized, here are several ways to add extra storage spaces to your house.

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Is My Credit Score Good Enough to Buy a Home? 5 Credit Questions First-Time Homebuyers Ask

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/7/16 2:45 PM

With mortgage rates still near historic lows, many first-time homebuyers are looking to purchase and finance homes, making it more crucial than ever for them to understand what part their credit score plays in the mortgage process. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding credit scores and homebuying.

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11 Winter Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Complete ASAP

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/6/16 2:43 PM

As the temperatures are beginning to dip, now is the time to make sure your home will be ready for winter. Winterizing your home can help lower your utility bills, protect your biggest investment and most importantly, keep you and your family warm throughout the freezing months.  Here are some tips on how you can maximize your winter home maintenance.

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11 Home Improvements & Upgrades You Should Complete Before the Holidays

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/5/16 1:26 PM

Let the holiday countdown begin! With Thanksgiving just weeks away, so are holiday guests. If you're expecting company over the next month, these upgrades are quick, efficient and relatively budget-friendly.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Jump, October Job Growth & Wages Show Strength

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/4/16 11:15 AM

This week’s economic news centered in on job growth, increasing wage strength, an as-expected decision from the Federal Reserve and increasing mortgage rates.

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Renovating Your Fixer-Upper: 7 Facts About the HomeStyle® Renovation Loan

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/2/16 10:35 AM

Renovation TV shows like Fixer Upper and Rehab Addict can inspire homebuyers to purchase a home in need of some TLC, but they leave out a very technical part of the process: financing the renovations. Fannie Mae's HomeStyle® Renovation Mortgage is one of a few renovation loans we offer. This loan type allows purchase and refinance borrowers to include financing for home improvements into the transaction of an existing home. Here's what you need to know about this renovation loan.

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Home Maintenance: 10 Eerie House Noises & Smells You Should Never Ignore

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/31/16 10:52 AM

Happy Halloween! Due to age, maintenance, and the efficiency of various major home systems, your house is bound to creak and clank every once in awhile. While spooky, these noises and smells are most likely typical home maintenance issues that may need some attention sooner than later. Here are some of the most common eerie home noise complaints and their causes.

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Homeowner Tips: 9 Ways to Amp Up Your Home Security

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/30/16 12:58 PM

A home burglary takes place approximately every 18 seconds in the United States, according to SafeWise. With holiday travel and winter vacations fast approaching, now is a good time to make sure you’re taking preventative measures for your home’s security.

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How to Set Aside the Top 7 First-Time Homebuyer Fears

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/29/16 12:37 PM

Terrified of jumping into the homeownership circle? As with any large purchase, buying a home can be unnerving for someone who has little knowledge of the homebuying and financing process. Here's how to set some of those fears aside when preparing to make a home purchase.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales, Pending Sales Strong in September

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/28/16 12:06 PM

Economic highlights this week included new home sales and home prices, both of which were in the plus column. Average mortgage rates fell, following last week’s increase and consumer confidence dropped, as well.

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Should You Stay or Should You Go? 6 Things to Consider When Deciding to Renovate or Relocate

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/26/16 10:00 AM

At some point as a homeowner you’re going to come to an inevitable, emotional and mathematical fork in the road. Whether your starter home isn’t enough for your growing family, you’ve recently become an empty nester or you just really want an updated kitchen or floor plan, you’ll likely ask yourself whether it’s in your best interests to remodel or renovate or list and trade up.

 

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Buying a Home is Cheaper Than Renting in the All of the Nation’s 100 Largest Metros

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/24/16 1:30 PM

Mortgage rates increased last week to a four-month high, but according to Trulia’s latest rent vs. buy study, rates would need to double, even triple, to make renting the better financial choice over buying a home.

 

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6 Characteristics of Home Sellers Who Sold Above Listing Price in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/23/16 9:49 AM

What’s the ultimate goal for home sellers? To sell for top dollar, at top-notch speed. In Zillow’s newest report on consumer housing trends, they found several distinct characteristics of sellers who received bids above listing price.

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Remodeling Your Kitchen: 9 Kitchen Trends to Look for in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/22/16 10:00 AM

Looking into remodeling or renovating your kitchen in the near future? According to Remodeling magazine's 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, minor kitchen remodels boast a cost recoup of 83 percent. If you're looking for some renovation inspiration, check out our list of kitchen trends for the new year.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Surge, First-Time Homebuyers on the Rise

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/21/16 8:42 AM

In this week's economic news, mortgage rates increased to a 4-month high while September existing home sales data came in surprisingly positive.

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8 Ways Millennial & First-Time Homebuyers Are Shaping the 2016 Housing Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/19/16 11:43 AM

Coming of age in the recession has painted a different homebuying picture for the Millennial generation. With surmounting student debt and rent prices, the real estate market was once asking, “Where are the Millennials?” But according to a new study performed by Zillow the Millennials are making their own waves in the housing market with their new approaches to shopping, financing and purchasing.

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USDA Rural Development or FHA: Which Is the Best Mortgage Option for a First-Time Homebuyer?

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/17/16 2:33 PM

Today’s first-time homebuyers face a new set of homebuying hurdles. From saving for a down payment and closing costs to credit scores and debt, mortgage affordability is a key concern for many homebuyers. So today we’re reviewing pros and cons and costs and eligibility requirements associated with two affordable mortgage options: the USDA Rural Development and FHA loan.

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Buying Your First Home: Should You Save For a Down Payment or Pay Off Debt First?

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/16/16 10:54 AM

Many potential homebuyers cite existing debt or saving funds for a down payment as the biggest hurdles in their homebuying journey. But what if you have existing debt and a low balance in your savings account? Where do you start?

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10 Simple Home Maintenance Tasks You Need to Complete This Month

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/15/16 11:25 AM

As the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler, there are a few home maintenance tasks you need to put on your to-do list. Follow our checklist to get your home, both interior and exterior, in the best shape this month for the fall elements.

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Weekly Economic Review: August Job Openings Fall to 8-Month Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/14/16 12:35 PM

Reports of slowing in the job market reverberated this week as monthly job openings fell sharply in August, down 7.3 percent to 5.443 million, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. This is the lowest number of job openings since December 2015. Hiring also slowed by 0.9 percent.

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9 Ways to Slash Your Home Utility Bills This Fall & Winter

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/12/16 1:49 PM

Energy efficient home maintenance tasks probably aren’t on your list of favorite fall activities. Nevertheless, these home improvements and home maintenance fixes will keep your cool-weather utility costs a little bit lower this fall and winter.

 

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The Zero Down Payment Mortgage Program Is Now Even More Affordable

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/10/16 1:30 PM

If you’ve heard of the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Loan Program, you know that it’s an extremely affordable mortgage program, boasting several benefits for first-time and repeat homebuyers. As if the zero down payment requirement and lower-than-market interest rates weren’t enough, USDA loans became even more affordable at the beginning of this month.

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How Much Mortgage Can You Afford? 7 Factors That Affect Home Affordability

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/9/16 9:08 AM

One of the most common first-time homebuyer questions is how much can I afford to buy? Home affordability weighs on many factors that your lender will analyze to give you an appropriate, pre-approved purchase point.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Employment Growth Slows in September

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/8/16 10:00 AM

The ADP Employment Report released on Wednesday called for significant slowing in employment growth for the month of September. Friday’s Employment Situation report confirmed ADP’s estimates.

 

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Start or Further Your Career in the Mortgage Industry: Get the Compass Mortgage Experience Here

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/7/16 11:06 AM

The mortgage industry continually changes, but at Compass, several things remain constant: growth, development and transparency. Our newly launched mortgage banker website highlights how we not only provide a better mortgage experience for our clients but also provide continual growth opportunities and an unmatched work culture for our mortgage bankers.

 

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17 Budget-Friendly DIY Home Improvement & Renovation Projects for First-Time Homeowners

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/5/16 12:24 PM

So you just bought a house; congratulations! Making your home yours is where the real fun begins, but it's also a good idea to adjust to the costs of homeownership before making large scale home improvements and renovations. Here are some cost-effective but aesthetically-pleasing home improvements you can mostly do yourself and complete on a budget.

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5 Preparation Steps to Move From Renting to Owning 

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/3/16 4:13 PM

If you’re thinking of purchasing a home in the near future because of high rent, you’re not alone. In the first quarter of 2016, one in four homebuyers was looking to purchase a home because of their expensive rent, according to Redfin. Homeownership is a big decision, so whether you plan to buy this fall or down the road, walk through these initial steps to go from renting to owning.

 

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Selling Your Home: 10 Smart Tips for Attracting Fall Homebuyers

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/2/16 3:02 PM

Fall is the second best time of year to sell your home. The kids are back in school. Families aren't hustling and bustling back and forth from family vacations. The holidays aren't a stressor...yet. If you're placing your home for sale now, here are several things you need to consider doing first.

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7 Ways to Instantly Transform Your Fall Curb Appeal

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/1/16 10:00 AM

Curb appeal doesn't go out the window as soon as the leaves begin to drop. If you're planning to list your home this fall or your home exterior needs a little sprucing up, here are some tips for getting the attention of anyone who passes by your home this autumn.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Confidence at 9-Year High, Pending Home Sales Drop

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/30/16 11:05 AM

Housing market data came in soft for August, posting low inventory in both the new and existing homes and projecting low sales for the fall. Meanwhile, mortgage rates fell to near yearly lows.

 

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Mortgage 101: What Is Loan Amortization & How Does It Affect My Mortgage?

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/28/16 1:49 PM

One of the biggest perks of a fixed-rate mortgage is the consistent monthly payment. While a borrower’s fixed-rate monthly mortgage payment remains the same for the life of the loan, the amount of payment going toward the loan’s principal and interest varies monthly as it is paid down. This is known as amortization.

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Fall Housing Market Update: 5 Facts for Fall Homebuyers and Sellers

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/26/16 2:51 PM

Mortgage rates have held near historic lows even past the busiest homebuying season of the year and we’re coming up on the best month of the year to buy a home. Here’s what you should know about the current housing market as a first-time buyer, move-up buyer or home seller.

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11 Common Homebuying Myths & Misconceptions Debunked

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/25/16 11:12 AM

Buying a home is a huge investment, making education essential. Here are several common myths and misconceptions surrounding the process of buying and financing a home.

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10 Simple Ways to Transition Your Home Décor for Autumn

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/24/16 10:06 AM

It’s officially fall! If you’ve been patiently waiting to break out your autumn-inspired décor, here are 10 simple ways to incorporate the feel of fall into your home.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Fall, Home Prices Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/23/16 10:26 AM

The biggest economic news this week included the Federal Reserve’s decision on increasing the federal funds interest rate, as well as housing market news.

 

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6 Steps to Planning & Designing a Perfectly Organized Bedroom Closet

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/21/16 1:21 PM

When you bought your first home, was closet design a determining factor? Probably not. But over time as your wardrobe and organization needs have grown, it’s probably a lot more evident that a single closet rod and shelf just don’t cut it. Here are the steps you need to take to get a handle on your closet organization.

 

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8 Home Improvements & Renovations That Usually Don’t Pay Off

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/19/16 12:30 PM

Whether you're looking to improve the quality of your home while living in it or trying to spruce up your home before selling, there are several home renovations that will recoup the majority of your investment. Then again, there are several home improvements you'd think would add value but actually hurt it.

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8 Home Organization Tips for a Low-Stress School Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/18/16 10:04 AM

Does back-to-school mean back-to-disarray in your home? If the school year means endless piles of stray papers and stressful mornings, check out these home organization tricks, tips and inspirations for getting your house and school morning routine in order.

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11 Trees & Plants to Add to Your Landscape for Brilliant Fall Color

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/17/16 11:29 AM

The colors of autumn are approaching quickly. If your yard falls short each year when it comes to the crimsons, purples, oranges and yellows of the season, there's still time to plant so you can enjoy them next year. Add these trees and plants to your fall landscaping checklist for colorful foliage.

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Weekly Economic Review: August Retail Sales Fall Short, Mortgage Rates Climb

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/16/16 10:57 AM

Surmounting indications of a Federal Reserve rate increase continue to top economic news. This week, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to a post-Brexit high, according to Freddie Mac.

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Join the Future of Mortgage Lending: We're Hiring Full-Time Staff!

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/14/16 1:46 PM

As we continue to expand our business, we’re looking for self-driven individuals who can help us continue to make Compass Mortgage home to a better mortgage experience.

 

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5 Perks of Buying a House in the Fall

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/12/16 2:19 PM

Last year, a RealtyTrac study of over 32 million real estate transactions dating back to 2000 found that the best month to close on a home purchase is October. On average, October homebuyers received a 2.6 percent discount below estimated market value. Thinking of purchasing this fall? Here are five other perks of buying September through November.

 

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8 Ways You Could Be Damaging Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/11/16 12:27 PM

Credit score is a big component in personal finances. As society becomes more dependent on the use of credit cards, your credit score becomes more important than ever. Fifty-eight percent of future homebuyers say they are actively trying to improve their credit, according to a Wells Fargo study.

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7 Steps to Buying Your First Home This Fall

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/10/16 9:45 AM

So you’ve decided to buy a home this fall. Congratulations! There are several benefits of autumn homebuying, but before you start thumbing through online listing photos, there are a few educational and financial steps to complete to get yourself in the best shape for a mortgage and homeownership, in general.

Here’s how to get on the right track to becoming a first-time homeowner this fall.

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Weekly Economic Review: July Job Openings Hit Record High, Hiring Stagnant

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/9/16 1:15 PM

Last week, the August Employment Situation showed a significant slowdown of employment growth as nonfarm payrolls increased by a lower-than-expected 151,000 following July’s addition of 275,000.

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Back-To-School Giveaway: Win $1,000 in Classroom Supplies for Your Favorite Teacher

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/7/16 10:23 AM

School is back in session! In honor of those who dedicate their lives to education, Compass Mortgage is giving you the chance to give back to your favorite teacher in a big way.

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Building Mortgage-Ready Credit: What Is a Rapid Rescore?

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/5/16 10:53 AM

Your credit score is a huge factor in mortgage approval and mortgage affordability. In terms of credit score and home financing, "rapid rescore" is a term worth knowing because it could help you out immensely as a borrower.

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11 Ways to Prepare Your Landscape & Lawn for Autumn

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/4/16 9:14 AM

As the leaves begin to turn, you may not have the same excitement for autumn gardening and landscaping tasks as you do for the spring growing season. Regardless, taking care of your garden and landscaping now will contribute to a better looking lawn and garden come springtime. Here are several ways to get your landscaping and garden ready for the cooler weather.

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The 6 Best Homeowner Deals to Take Advantage of This Labor Day Weekend

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/3/16 10:00 AM

Is a shopping spree on the agenda of your three-day holiday weekend? Here are some of the best home and homeowner items to purchase for your money this Labor Day.

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Weekly Economic Review: Employment Growth Slows, Pending Home Sales At Highest Level in Decade

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/2/16 10:42 AM

Following two months of vigorous gains, U.S. employment growth slowed in August. Nonfarm payrolls increased by a lower-than-expected 151,000 for the month after July’s addition of 275,000.

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How to Get $7,500 in Down Payment Assistance as a First-Time Homebuyer in Illinois

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/31/16 3:09 PM

With interest rates near historic lows, rent costs still on the rise, and the availability of down payment and closing cost assistance programs, there are no greater incentives to become a first-time homebuyer. Here's how the Illinois Housing Development Authority's mortgage program makes homeownership even more enticing for first-timers.

 

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What the Millennial First-Time Homebuyer Looks Like in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/29/16 11:26 AM

Last year, Millennials made up the largest generational share of homebuyers. Their wants and needs in the housing market are heavily-observed and analyzed – and for good reason! Here are six surprising statistics from a recent TD Bank survey of potential first-time homebuyers.

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Owning Your First Home: 6 Common Home Maintenance Problems & How to Solve Them

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/28/16 11:22 AM

Homes are subject to normal wear and tear, but certain problems should be addressed to make sure your home is as safe, comfortable and energy-efficient as possible. Here are the likely causes of some common home maintenance issues and what you can do to fix them.

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Mortgage 101: Who's Who in Your Home Financing Process?

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/27/16 7:48 AM

The homebuying process goes beyond your real estate agent and mortgage banker. When it comes to your home financing, there are a lot of key players who have large roles in seeing your mortgage go from pre-approved to closed. Here are a few of the mortgage professionals that play a part in the loan process.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Skyrocket, Home Prices Lag

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/26/16 2:05 PM

Home sales data was mixed this week as new home sales boomed but existing home sales and pricing reports were lower than usual. Mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.

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Making Home Improvements: 6 Ways to Add Privacy to Your Outdoor Living Space

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/24/16 1:17 PM

Living in an urban or suburban area sometimes means compromising on a few of your home’s factors. Privacy is one of them. Even if your immaculately landscaped yard is something worth showing off, feeling like you’re on display can be a damper on outdoor living. Here are several ways to make your backyard more secluded.

 

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Mortgage 101: 7 Things That Affect How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/22/16 3:05 PM

One of the most common first-time homebuyer questions is how much can I afford to buy? Home affordability weighs on many factors that your lender will analyze to give you an appropriate, pre-approved purchase point.

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Mortgage 101: What Goes Into a Mortgage Payment?

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/21/16 10:55 AM

Understanding the elements of your mortgage payment is as easy as remembering four letters – P, I, T, I. The mortgage industry uses the acronym PITI, which stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance, to break down the components of homeowners’ mortgage payments.

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Find the Perfect Home? Assess These 7 Easily Overlooked Items First

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/20/16 2:30 PM

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. You’ve narrowed down what you think is the perfect home, but have you assessed all of the little things on top of the major items? Make sure your home purchase is well suited to your needs by reviewing these easy-to-miss home factors.

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Weekly Economic Review: Builder Optimism & Housing Starts Up in New Home Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/19/16 1:49 PM

Optimism in the new home market is high, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index. The index rose 2 points for August, bumping the index to the 60 level for the second time in 2016, according to Bloomberg. While builders showed gains in present and future sales, traffic continues to be a concern, especially first-time homebuyers.

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7 End-Of-Summer Home Maintenance Tasks to Tackle Over the Next Month

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/17/16 3:19 PM

Though summer hasn’t quite come to its end yet, back-to-school is in full swing. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the changing seasons get in the way of taking care of your home after one of the most weather-extreme seasons. Here are seven end-of-summer home maintenance tasks to take care of over the next month.

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Mortgage 101: How to Get a USDA Loan

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/15/16 12:58 PM

Looking to purchase a home without the means for a down payment? A USDA loan, formally known as the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan program, is an attractive program for homebuyers struggling to overcome one of the largest obstacles to achieving homeownership: down payment.

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First-Time Homeowners: Which Mulch Type Is Right for Your Landscaping?

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/14/16 10:32 AM

As your garden beds need replenished or revitalized, take the time to think about which type of mulch is right for your landscaping needs. Mulch not only gives your curb appeal a boost, it also has several benefits to improve the health of your plants, including moisture retention, soil temperature control, weed suppression, erosion control, and soil nutrients. Here's how to pick the right mulch for your plants and personal preference.

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Weekly Economic Review: July Consumer Spending Falls Short, Labor Market Conditions Hit Positive Level

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/12/16 10:43 AM

Despite last week’s employment report boasting an increase of 255,000 to non-farm payrolls, the Labor Market Conditions Index, which is broadly comprised of 19 different indicators, budged minimally in the month of July. At a 1.0 index level, July’s results are the first to make it into the positive column in 2016.

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Back to School! Home Values 77 Percent Higher in Zip Codes With Good Schools Than Those Without

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/10/16 10:13 AM

A home within a great school district has always been a good selling point, but now a new study performed by ATTOM Data Solutions shows just how big the impact of high-performing education is on home values.

 

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Buying a Home is 36% Cheaper Than Renting! 5 Big Reasons to Become a Homeowner in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/8/16 4:17 PM

One in four homebuyers was looking to purchase a home in the first quarter of 2016 because rent was too high, up from one in five in November 2015, according to Redfin. Renters are feeling the burden of their monthly lease while homebuying continues to be the cheaper option by 36% , according to the latest Trulia Rent vs. Buy Report.

See five other benefits of buying a home sooner than later.

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How to Finance a Fixer-Upper: 3 Loan Options for Home Renovations & Home Improvements

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/7/16 10:52 AM

According to a report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing, home improvement and repair spending will increase 8 percent by the beginning of 2017. As existing home inventory has dwindled, homebuyers have purchased homes that need repairs, renovations and improvements.

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8 Ways to Boost Curb Appeal on a Budget

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/6/16 12:34 PM

Did you think home staging was just for home interiors? Whether you’re preparing to sell your home or just want a better view when you pull into your driveway, use these tips to stage your home’s exterior and instantly boost curb appeal.

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Weekly Economic Review: 255,000 Jobs Added to Economy in July, Consumerism Picks Up Rapidly

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/5/16 1:16 PM

Friday’s Employment Situation showed increasing strength in the job market and consumerism as non-farm payrolls soared to a much stronger-than-expected 255,000 for the month of July. The consensus range was calling for 150,000 to 215,000.

 

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7 Non-DIY Home Improvements You Should Leave to the Pros

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/3/16 12:40 PM

Don't turn a do-it-yourself project into a "what did I do?" project. Many homeowners have encompassed the do-it-yourself agenda to save time and money on home improvement projects. While many repairs, upgrades, and renovations can be completed by homeowners with amateur experience, there are some that require training and expertise. Here are some of the top home improvements best left to the professionals, even if you are an avid DIY homeowner.

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Out and About with Compass: Blackberry Farm

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/2/16 9:30 AM

School is out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to end! If you want to take a step back in time, visit Blackberry Farm in Aurora, where learning and fun meet!

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First-Time Homebuyers: How to Conquer the 7 Biggest Homebuying & Financing Fears

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/31/16 12:40 PM

Hesitant of jumping into the homeownership circle? As with any large purchase, buying a home can be unnerving for someone who has limited knowledge of the homebuying and financing process. As the mortgage world is constantly changing, there are also several misconceptions about what it takes to buy a home.

Here's how to set some of those fears and misconceptions aside when thinking of buying a home.

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Mortgage Goals: 6 Things to Consider Before Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/30/16 2:15 PM

Freedom from debt is arguably one of the best feelings. As homeowners build their savings and investments, many ask if paying off their mortgage early is the right path to financial freedom and stability.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Pace at Highest in Eight Years

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/29/16 12:55 PM

Despite the lessening optimism for future sales in the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index released last week, new home sales surged in June to the highest pace in eight years. The New Home Sales report showed an annualized rate of 592,000, which is 25 percent higher than June 2015. 

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Mortgage 101: What First-Time Homebuyers Should Know About Their Credit Scores

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/27/16 12:49 PM

With mortgage rates still near historic lows, many consumers are looking to purchase and finance homes, making it more crucial than ever for them to understand what part their credit score plays in the mortgage process. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding credit scores and homebuying.

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9 Avoidable Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Often Make

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/25/16 11:01 AM

Buying your first home is a big financial and lifestyle decision. While your lender and real estate agent will help guide you through the process of buying and financing the property, there are certain things a first-time homebuyer should be aware of throughout their homebuying journey. Here are eight common mistakes to avoid making when buying your first home.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Prices & Existing Home Sales Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/24/16 2:11 PM

The biggest economic reports released last week were housing related. Low mortgage rates (thanks, Brexit), falling supply and increased homebuyer traffic continue to drive housing demand but seemingly only in the existing home market.

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12 Landscaping & Gardening Hacks Every Homeowner Should Know About

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/23/16 9:30 AM

Sometimes life gets in the way of tending to and caring for your garden. Luckily you don't need to have a green thumb to keep your garden lush. Use these tips and tricks to help minimize maintenance of your landscape and garden beds.

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Midsummer Housing Market Update: 6 Things Homebuyers & Sellers Should Know

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/22/16 10:06 AM

At the beginning of July, Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke was predicting this summer to be the “best summer for the housing market in a decade”. According to existing home sales, prices and median contract times, the market is fiercely competitive and moving quickly.

 

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9 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle Over Your Summer Staycation

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/20/16 11:33 AM

 Staying home over your summer vacation? Why not utilize that PTO with some value-adding home improvements. We've compiled a list of projects you can complete within a few days time and still get in some much-deserved rest and relaxation.

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Pre-Approval vs. Loan Commitment: What’s the Difference & Which One Do I Need as a Homebuyer?

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/18/16 12:16 PM

Mortgage rates have spiraled down to historical lows again and the summer homebuying market is in full swing. A hot housing market means more buyers vying for potential homes, but what does this have to do with your home financing? A lot.

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4 Essential Tips for Landscaping a New Construction Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/17/16 1:56 PM

You’ve considered and decided every miniscule detail of your new home build from windows and doors down to the number of electrical outlets in each room, but now you have a whole new blank canvas to tackle, your landscaping. Here are some tips for starting out the process.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings & Labor Market Conditions Down, Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/16/16 8:00 AM

Over the last week, investors shifted their focus from bonds to stocks, resulting in the Dow average closing at a record-high on Thursday. Other economic data had little affect on mortgage rates, which ended the week higher.

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Millions of Homeowners Have the Opportunity to Refinance Their Mortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/15/16 10:18 AM

Thanks to Brexit, mortgage rates have been holding near historic lows this month, which has sent many homeowners swarming to refinance into a lower rate. But according to a report from Black Knight Financial Services, more than seven million homeowners in the U.S. still have the opportunity to refinance.

In the first quarter of 2015, only 31,000 homeowners with FHA loans took advantage of the FHA Streamline Refinance Program. In the first quarter of 2016, that number skyrocketed to over 63,000 homeowners. So if you have an FHA loan and haven’t refinanced into a lower rate, what are you missing out on? 

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The Zero Down Payment Mortgage Option You’ve Probably Never Heard About

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/13/16 10:14 AM

Half of all consumers still consider saving for down payment as a homebuying barrier, according to an Ellie Mae survey. If you’re under the impression that it takes a 20 percent down payment to buy a home, you are more than misinformed. Down payment assistance and multiple low down payment loan options are available, even one that requires zero money upfront. 

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6 of the Most Commonly Asked Questions by First-Time Homebuyers

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/11/16 1:55 PM

Is the opportunity of historically low mortgage rates and the surmounting cost of rent enticing you to purchase your first home? Homeownership is a huge, yet beneficial, financial decision. We want our homebuyers to understand the benefits of homeownership, the mortgage process, the costs of their mortgage, and their overall homeownership affordability, so we've compiled a list of common first-time homebuyer questions and answers.

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Think You Can't Qualify to Buy a Home? You May Be Wrong

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/10/16 9:58 AM

Mortgage misconceptions are pretty commonplace as loan options and mortgage qualifications change, but a new study performed by Fannie Mae found that a vast majority of U.S. consumers, especially those who plan to buy a home in the next five years, don’t know or are misinformed on what it takes to buy a home.


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Weekly Economic Review: Strong Job Gains in June, Brexit Helps Mortgage Rates Fall to Lows

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/9/16 9:47 AM

Effects of Brexit are still being felt as investors flock to the safety of U.S. bonds. Thanks to Brexit, mortgage rates dropped to the lowest levels seen in years and other U.S. economic reports came in stronger than expected.

 

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Economic Update: 3 Ways Brexit Impacts U.S. Consumers

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/8/16 9:21 AM

At the end of last month, British voters made the shocking decision to exit the European Union, which rattled the stock market and sent U.S. mortgage rates into a nosedive. So how does Britain’s exit, aka “Brexit”, affect U.S. consumers?

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8 Efficient Ways to Pay Down Debt When Preparing to Buy a Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/6/16 1:03 PM

While you don't need to be debt-free to purchase a home, a mortgage is a big financial commitment, so many homebuyers choose to lighten the load of their existing debt when preparing to buy a house. Though existing debt may not be a homebuying hurdle for everyone, financial freedom is a heavily sought goal for many.

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Happy 4th of July! Celebrating Our Independence & Spreading Awareness of VA Loans

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/4/16 1:34 PM

Happy 4th of July! As we celebrate our country’s independence, we would like to thank the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedoms. In honor of the holiday, we’d like to spread some awareness for veteran homebuyers and homeowners who do not know the benefits of the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program.

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Homeowners Name the 9 Best Interior Home Renovations & Improvements

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/3/16 10:10 AM

Whether you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, want to update your home’s appeal or improve your home’s livability and efficiency, not all remodeling projects are created equal. According to the National Association of REALTORS ® 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, Americans spent over $300 billion on remodeling projects in 2015.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Continue to Drop Following Brexit

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/2/16 10:45 AM

Britain’s exit of the European Union (Brexit) continued to be the largest influence on U.S. markets this week. As a result, mortgage rates trended even lower, reaching levels not seen in several years.

 

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9 Mosquito-Repelling Plants & Herbs to Place Around Your Outdoor Living Space

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/1/16 10:30 AM

Feel like an insect magnet the moment you step outside your home? While eliminating standing water in your yard will help keep mosquito breeding grounds at bay, studies have shown these plants and herbs can serve as natural insect repellants.

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6 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe & Secure While It's on the Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/29/16 1:10 PM

You've de-cluttered, cleaned every inch of your home, staged furniture and home decor - all of the things any home seller should do when listing their home. But as the calls for showings come in, open houses are scheduled, and strangers begin to do walk-throughs of your home, you need to take preventative measures as a seller to protect your home from theft and liability lawsuits.

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How to Finance a New Home from the Ground Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/27/16 1:48 PM

With a lack of inventory in the existing home market, building a home may have crossed your mind as a potential option. If you were to do a quick web search of “construction loans”, you’d find an immense amount of information but when it comes to building a home, the financing involved is just as personal as customizing the home you hope to build.

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9 Do's & Don'ts of Landscaping & Lawn Care for the First-Time Homeowner

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/26/16 10:00 AM

Owning your first home can be overwhelming as you adjust to the new responsibilities and tasks of homeownership. While you’re busy turning the interior of your house into your own home, don’t neglect the view of from the curb. Here are some beginner’s tips for making wise and budget-friendly choices when it comes to your landscape.

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Fix It or Leave It? What Home Improvements Are Worth Doing Before Selling Your Home?

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/25/16 10:00 AM

When preparing to sell your home, you may notice there are some repairs, upgrades, or cosmetic flaws you didn't get to cross off your homeowner to-do list. Certain areas of a home can turn away potential buyers or downgrade their price offer, but what upgrades are worth your investment as a seller? Here's what to fix and what to leave as-is for the new homeowners.

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Weekly Economic Review: Areas of Housing Market Continue to Show Strength

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/24/16 10:00 AM

Existing Home Sales were not extraordinary in May but continue to show strength. Sales increased 1.8 percent for the month, which is the “best rate of the cycle, since back in February 2007”, according to Bloomberg.

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National Homeownership Month: 4 Financial Benefits of Owning Your Own Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/22/16 10:00 AM

A greater sense of community, more living space, more stability for your children; the benefits of homeownership are endless. In honor of National Homeownership Month, we’ve compiled some of the biggest financial perks of accomplishing a significant part of the American Dream.

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Getting a Competitive Edge as a Homebuyer: 3 Reasons You Need a Loan Commitment This Summer

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/20/16 12:38 PM

With mortgage rates still near historic lows and rent still on the up and up, we’re likely to see an influx of homebuyers this summer. Home inventory, on the other hand, has been lagging and continually brewing conditions for a competitive homebuying market

Acting quickly on making an offer and hiring a great real estate agent are essential in a competitive housing market, but you also need to have all your ducks in a row with your home financing. Here’s how to obtain financing with the power of a cash offer.

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7 Essential Factors to Consider Throughout Your Home Search

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/19/16 8:59 AM

 You’ve thumbed through listing photos online, compiled a list of favorite properties and are ready to start your home tours. While a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some non-aesthetic, very important items to factor in to your purchase considerations.

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6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your First Year of Homeownership

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/18/16 6:06 PM

As a first-time homebuyer, you have a lot on your plate. From saving for a down payment and closing costs to keeping your credit score mortgage-ready and finding a home that suits your needs, you’ve accomplished a lot even before purchasing your first home.

Now that you’ve closed on your home, there are still some mistakes you should avoid to keep your first year of homeownership a positive experience.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Leaves Federal Funds Target Range As Is

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/17/16 11:25 AM

The biggest news this week stemmed from the Federal Reserve’s meeting on Tuesday, in which the Fed decided to keep the federal funds target range at 0.25 to 0.50 percent, as expected. 

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Homebuyers, Homeowners, Real Estate Investors, Vacation Homebuyers: We Want to Hear From You!

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/15/16 10:12 AM

Buying, financing and maintaining a home is a multi-step journey, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced homeowner. This is why we strive to educate potential homebuyers and homeowners prior to and after closing on their mortgage. But we need a little feedback on topic areas we may have missed.

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Low Credit Score Holding You Back From Buying a Home? 8 Quick Ways to Boost Your Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/13/16 12:19 PM

It’s no secret you need appreciable credit to buy a house, but building and maintaining a good credit score is a major homebuying hurdle for some homebuyers, especially first-timers, according to a new TransUnion Survey.

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8 Tips for Cooling Down Your Home Cooling Costs This Summer

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/12/16 10:18 AM

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Those costs typically account for about 48% of your utility bill. While an upgraded, energy-efficient system will help shave a nice chunk off of your bills, a whole-house approach is best when trying to cool down your A/C costs this spring and summer.

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Listing Your Home This Summer? Take Care of These 6 Home Selling Tasks Now

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/11/16 10:16 AM

So you're planning to list your home. As soon as you begin entertaining the idea of selling, you'll want to get your home in the best condition. To get a great offer in the shortest amount of time, here are some of the most important things to take care of before the “for sale” sign goes up in your front yard.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Market Reports Mixed Following Disappointing Employment Reports

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/10/16 2:37 PM

The May Labor Market Conditions Index followed suit with last week’s disappointing employment report. The index was minus 4.8, marking the fifth straight negative reading and the lowest of the recovery (since May 2009), according to Bloomberg. 

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7 Steps to Buying Your First Home This Summer

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/8/16 10:00 AM

So you’ve decided to buy a home this summer. Congratulations! But before you start thumbing through online listing photos, there are a few educational and financial steps to complete to get yourself in the best shape for a mortgage and homeownership, in general.

Here’s how to get on the right track to becoming a first-time homeowner this summer.

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New Home Construction: 6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Home Builder

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/6/16 1:16 PM

Buying a home comes with its own distinct set of choices and options, but when you choose to build a new home, the amount of choices increase immensely. Your home builder is one of the most important. Here’s how to determine which one is right for you. 

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9 Ideas for Low-Maintenance and Foolproof Landscaping

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/4/16 10:00 AM

Landscaping. Your curb appeal depends on it, but some homeowners dread the thought of spending countless weeknights and weekends digging, watering and planting. Although there’s really no such thing as zero-maintenance landscaping, we’ve narrowed down some ideas to keep your yard and garden maintenance to a minimum this summer.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Growth Slowed in May, Unemployment Rate Drops

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/3/16 3:44 PM

The biggest economic reports released this week pertained to employment data, which did not hit consensus levels for the month of May.

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18 Summer Home Maintenance Tasks You Need to Complete This Month

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/1/16 8:00 AM

While you’re daydreaming of barbeques, lounging by the pool and summer vacation destinations, there are a few summer home maintenance tasks to tackle around your homestead to get your house in prime shape for heat, humidity and outdoor living. Here are 18 tasks you should complete prior to and during the summer months to keep your home safe, cool and energy-efficient.

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Memorial Day 2016: 7 Fast Facts About VA Loans

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/30/16 9:56 AM

Service men and women and their families make many sacrifices to keep our country safe. As a token of appreciation, the United State Department of Veterans Affairs provides a loan program with a mission to help servicemen, servicewomen, veterans and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners.

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DIY Lawn Care: 7 Ways to Get a Healthy, Green & Enviable Lawn This Summer

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/29/16 9:09 AM

Spring is a time that many homeowners focus on annuals, perennials and landscaping, but don't forget about a major part of your home's curb appeal - your grass! Having a lush, green lawn is a pride for many homeowners - but it does require some work and regular maintenance. Here are a few DIY lawn care tips for achieving a greener, healthier lawn.


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16 Ingenious Hacks & Tips to Make Moving a Breeze

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/28/16 9:00 AM

Moving to a new home can be an exciting time - until you actually have to move. Organize, pack, label, lift, repeat may not be your favorite activity, so we've compiled a list of ingenious moving hacks to help rid some of the anxiety, stress and time-consuming tasks that come with packing up your life's belongings.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Skyrocket, Pending Home Sales at Highest Level in a Decade

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/27/16 10:55 AM

April was a positive month for the housing market with new home sales and pending home sales breaking monthly and yearly record levels. Both are signs that the spring homebuying season has gained significant traction.

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Mortgage Rates: The Who, What, When and Why of How They're Determined

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/25/16 11:02 AM

If you are a homebuyer seeking a mortgage, a big part of when you decide to buy and which lender you choose to finance with will likely depend on where mortgage rates stand. Your mortgage rate not only affects the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your loan but can also influence the amount you are approved to finance, as well as your affordability of homeownership overall.

So how are mortgage rates determined? And why do they change?

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Increase Following Release of Fed Minutes

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/23/16 2:28 PM

The potential for a Fed rate hike this summer and stronger-than-anticipated economic reports released last week caused mortgage rates to end the week higher. 

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Rent on the Rise: Rent Price Growth Reaches Highest Pace Since 2008

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/22/16 10:00 AM

April rental price growth stood 3.7 percent higher than April 2015, which is the same 12-month increase rate for the 5th month in a row, according to MarketWatch via the United States Labor Department. More importantly, this is the highest year-over-year price increase since before the financial crisis.

So as the economy continues to improve, why are renters still feeling outstripped by rent prices? 

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Creating an Outdoor Living Space: The Biggest Patio Trends of 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/21/16 10:00 AM

Planning to revamp your patio, porch or deck this summer? What was once a place to enjoy a meal or entertain guests on a pleasant summer night is now meant to serve as an extension of your home. Here are some of the year's biggest trends to inspire the look of your outdoor living space.

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What's the Best Long-Term Investment? Americans Say Real Estate.

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/20/16 8:00 AM

Real estate has been Americans’ top pick for “best long-term investment” for the past two years, according to an April 2016 Gallup poll. This year, real estate took a significant lead against stocks, mutual funds, gold, savings, CD’s and bonds with 35% of polled Americans saying that real estate is the better long-term investment.

 

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Mortgage 101: What's a Lender Credit? How Does It Benefit Homebuyers?

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/18/16 9:55 AM

With average closing costs ranging from 2 to 5 percent of a home's purchase price, gathering the funds for closing on top of a down payment can be a major hurdle for first-time homebuyers. This is where lender credits come into play.

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Late on a Credit Card Payment? See How It Will Affect Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/16/16 10:00 AM

One late credit card payment can’t hurt that much, can it? Well, it depends. It's important to stay on top of all of your bills, because your payment history is the most influential component of your credit score, accounting for 35% of your FICO® score determination. Here's how a late payment demotes your credit score.

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Mortgage 101: Home Financing Terms All First-Time Homebuyers Should Understand

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/15/16 10:00 AM

Buying a home, especially your first home, can sometimes be a confusing process. With new terms like earnest money and title search jumping out at you from purchase contracts and mortgage documents, you may find your head spinning. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the common home financing terms you should understand when purchasing a home.

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Making Home Improvements: 7 Ways to Get Your Air Conditioner Ready for the Summer Heat

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/14/16 10:16 AM

It’s getting to be that time of year when having the windows open just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. As with any main system of your home, your central air conditioner needs some TLC to keep it running efficiently. Use these tips to keep your home cool this spring and summer.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Drop to Lowest Level in Three Years

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/13/16 1:20 PM

The biggest news this week was the decline of mortgage rates. According to data released Thursday by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to lows not seen since 2013.

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Spring 2016 Housing Market Conditions: 6 Trends Homebuyers Should Know About

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/11/16 9:24 AM

In the midst of the traditionally-busiest homebuying season of the year, mortgage rates, home prices, sales paces and inventory are quickly shaping the housing market into what realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke is calling “the strongest and healthiest real estate market we have seen in a decade”.

If you’re planning on or thinking of purchasing a home in the near future, here are six trends currently molding the market.

 

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Buying a Home in Need of Renovations? Here's How to Finance It

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/9/16 11:07 AM

Buying a fixer-upper or is your current home just in need of some major functional or aesthetic improvements? Finding a home that meets every one of your wants and needs can be a daunting and somewhat unrealistic task. While TV shows like Fixer Upper may inspire you to take on an older home in need of some TLC, they leave out a very important part of home renovations: how to finance them. 

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Happy Mother's Day! Here Are 8 Perennials You Should Plant in Your Mom's Garden

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/8/16 10:17 AM

Happy Mother's Day! Stuck on what to give mom this year? Give her a long-lasting, low-maintenance gift by planting some of these Midwest-native perennials in her garden.

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Weekend DIY Project: How to Build Raised Garden Beds

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/7/16 1:20 PM

Raised garden beds, also known as garden boxes, have been gaining popularity due to their beneficial environment for flower and vegetable gardens to thrive and accessibility and adaptability. The contained boxes provide:

  • Protection from weeds and pests
  • Prevention of soil compaction and erosion
  • Proper water drainage
  • Ease of access to plants for gardeners who want to avoid the pain of constant bending and kneeling
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Weekly Economic Review: April Employment Report Indicates Slowing Gains in Labor Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/6/16 1:50 PM

According to ADP’s Employment Report, the job market softened in April. Private payrolls increased by 156,000, which is one of the lowest readings since February 2014, according to Econoday.

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Limited Funds for a Down Payment? These Loan Programs Can Help You Out

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/4/16 9:55 AM

Mortgage rates are hovering near yearlong lows and rental rates continue to skyrocket, so why isn’t everyone buying a home right now? The truth is, one of the biggest challenges renters face is saving for a down payment, especially renters that are burdened with astronomical leases and student debt payments.

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Budget Renovations: 5 Simple Ways to Update Your Bathroom Without Remodeling

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/2/16 11:20 AM

Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes, especially to Millennial homebuyers who want to avoid costly renovations. Luckily, bathrooms can be updated dramatically, quickly and on a budget without the need for a major remodel.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Hit Highest Pace in Nearly a Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/1/16 3:39 PM

Wednesday’s Fed meeting was positive for mortgage rates as there was no change made to the federal funds rate, as expected. The Fed noted that while labor and housing market data has been improving, overall economic activity has slowed.

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11 Weekend Projects to Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/30/16 8:00 AM

Homeowners often focus on improving interior living spaces, but come spring, it’s time to refocus on what you (and your neighbors) see from the curb. Here are some weekend projects to tackle to get your home looking its best.

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Want to Sell Your Home? Sell at a Higher Price & Faster Pace by Listing in May

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/29/16 8:00 AM

People buy homes year-round, but when it comes to putting your home up for sale, is there an optimal time to list? Last year, the “magic window” to list your home was between mid-March and mid-April, according to Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate

That timing has shifted now, mostly due to low inventory holding down sales nationwide. The previous study showed that homes sold in the U.S. from mid-March to mid-April sold approximately 15% faster and for 2% more than the average listing.

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Mortgage 101: Pre-Qualification, Pre-Approval & Loan Commitment – What’s the Difference?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/27/16 9:37 AM

Are you pre-approved? Pre-qualified? Do you have a commitment letter from your lender? At some point during your home search, you’ll likely be asked one of these questions. Pre-qualification, pre-approval and loan commitment are three very different stages, so knowing the difference will help you avoid surprises throughout home buying and financing process.

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6 Habits to Break to Build Mortgage-Ready Credit

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/25/16 12:54 PM

Your credit score is used as a risk factor in determining your mortgage eligibility. It can determine if and how much you can borrow (and at what interest rate, depending on your loan program). If homeownership is one of your 2016 goals, here are six credit habits to break to get your score mortgage-ready.

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Remodeling Your Home? See Which Rooms Carry the Most Value

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/24/16 4:13 PM

When entertaining the idea of a remodel, most homeowners want to know what the return on their investment will be when the time comes to sell. Though you might enjoy an upscale master suite, a pool or home officewill it increase your home value? Not all rooms or areas of your home are created equal. Here are your best bets to focus on if your goal is to create a great living space with the best resale value.

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8 Home Renovations That Can Decrease Your Home Value

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/23/16 10:00 AM

The ability to personalize your home to meet your personal style and needs is a huge perk of homeownership, but when it comes to home renovations, not all boost home value. Certain home renovations, additions and amenities can devalue your abode.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Prices, Sales & Supply Up in March

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/22/16 12:34 PM

Though March Existing Home Sales increased more than expected, up 5.1 percent for the month, they failed to reverse the 7+ percent drop in February. Closing out the first quarter of 2016, existing home sales were up 4.8 percent.

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Rent on the Rise: Chicago Ranks #9 in Most Expensive Cities to Rent

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/20/16 10:00 AM

Though the median rental rate dropped nearly 3 percent in February, Chicago still maintained the number nine spot on Zumper’s National Rent report, which highlights the fluctuations in rental rates of the United States’ largest 50 cities.

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It's Tax Day! 7 Ways Homeowners Save On Their Taxes

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/18/16 10:22 AM

From creating a stable living environment for your family to personalizing your living space and building home equity, there is no doubt homeownership boasts several advantages. In honor of Tax Day, we’ve compiled some of the biggest (tax) perks of being a homeowner.

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Mortgage 101: 7 Things NOT to Do After Applying for a Mortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/17/16 11:03 AM

You likely know the list of things to do and not to do before applying for a mortgage, but there’s also certain actions regarding your credit score, finances and employment that should wait until after closing day. Avoid making these mistakes between your application and closing to keep your loan on track.

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The Top 8 Value-Adding Projects for Home Sellers

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/16/16 2:48 PM

Getting your home in the best shape to sell doesn’t have to mean pouring a huge investment into it. Simple fixes can up the overall appearance of your home, lessen its time on the market, and potentially increase a buyer's offered purchase price.

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Weekly Economic Review: Inflation Slows Down, Mortgage Rates Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/15/16 12:40 PM

Economic reports released this week were a bit weaker than consensus levels called for. Mortgage rates increased minimally following last week’s lowest rates of the year.

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Getting a Competitive Edge as a Homebuyer: 3 Reasons You Need a Loan Commitment This Spring

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/13/16 11:05 AM

With mortgage rates near historic lows and rent still on the rise, we’re likely to see an influx of homebuyers this spring. Home inventory, on the other hand, has been lagging and brewing conditions for a competitive homebuying market

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What's Your Home Style?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/11/16 5:51 PM

Buying a home means making a lot of choices. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do I need? Who should I hire as my real estate agent? When should I buy a home? What style of home fits my needs?

Before you start your home search, make a list of characteristics you desire in your home, both functional or aesthetic. To give you some inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of the top U.S. home styles and their distinguishing characteristics.

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Budget DIY - 15 Home Improvements Under $20

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/10/16 1:54 PM

Home improvements can sometimes turn into daunting and expensive tasks. This is why we’ve compiled a handful of projects you can complete in a weekend’s time and will improve the functionality or look of your home without breaking the bank!

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall, Labor Market Improving

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/9/16 8:00 AM

Mortgage rates continued their descent over the past week, with the national average falling 0.2% to the lowest level since February 2015, according to Freddie Mac.

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10 Home Features the Millennial Homebuyer Wants in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/8/16 11:03 AM

Ever wonder why Millennials receive so much attention, especially in the housing market? Millennials are the largest generation in American history, and in 2015, they made up the largest generational share of homebuyers (35%).

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Mortgage 101: What Is a USDA Loan? Am I Eligible for One?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/6/16 10:00 AM

Want to buy a home but don’t have the means for a down payment? The USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program, also known as a USDA or Rural Development loan, is an attractive mortgage program for homebuyers struggling to overcome one of today’s biggest homebuying obstacles: saving for a down payment. But what is a USDA loan?

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Preparing Your Home for Spring: The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/3/16 1:14 PM

Spring has sprung, and there is no time like the present to get your home in tip-top shape! Use our checklist to get your home’s interior clean from top to bottom.

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Homebuying 101: How to Determine Which Home Type Is Right for You

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/2/16 11:49 AM

Determining what type of housing is right for you can prove to be a difficult task when you factor in what you need now and the future possibilities of job promotions, budget fluctuations, out-of-state moves, a marriage, birth of a child, children going off to college, etc. 

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales & Employment Reports Positive

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/1/16 3:06 PM

The biggest factor in the drop of mortgage rates this week was a statement made by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who confirmed that the Fed still intends to pursue a gradual, patient course toward tightening monetary policy as the economy improves.

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Homebuying 101: 7 Tips for Buying a Home in a Competitive Housing Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/31/16 12:45 PM

Even as existing home sales decreased by 7 percent in February, inventory lagged going into the busiest season of the year to buy a home. A 6 month supply is an indicator of a balanced housing market, but February’s existing home inventory hovered at the 4.4 month mark, paving the way for a seller’s market and competition among spring homebuyers.

Here’s how to prepare as a homebuyer entering into a competitive market.

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Spring DIY Project: How to Start Your Vegetable Garden Indoors

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/30/16 2:44 PM

Thinking it’s a little early to start your vegetable, herb or flower garden? Beginning your garden inside your home is a great way to speed up the growth process come summertime, avoid the expensive purchase of starter plants, and ensure a plentiful harvest or bloom.

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Millennials in the Housing Market: 17 Fast Facts About Millennial Homebuyers

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/29/16 4:13 PM

Millennials often get a bad reputation when it comes to defying societal norms. Statistically, they’re getting married later, waiting to have children and buying homes at a later life stage. But according to that National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2016 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, Millennial homebuying habits may be trending toward the traditional path of their parents and grandparents.

In 2015, the largest share of homebuyers (35%) fell within the Millennial generation. Here’s what we know about Millennial homebuying habits last year.

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First-Time Homebuyer FAQ: What Credit Score Do I Need to Buy a House?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/28/16 10:00 AM

Credit scores are a huge part of the mortgage pre-approval process. It not only determines your eligibility for home financing but can also determine what rate you will qualify for. Why? Because your credit score represents to lenders how risky of a borrower you are.

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Spring Home Maintenance: How to Revive an Old Deck

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/27/16 6:18 PM

As you gravitate outside to tend to flower beds and your growing lawn, don't forget to do a lookover of likely your favorite spot for spring and summer get-togethers: your deck. Just liek any part of your home, your deck requires annual repair, cleaning and protection to keep it's livelihood over time. Use these tips to spruce up a deck that's looking a little on the worn side.

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Mortgage 101: How to Conquer the 7 Biggest Homebuying Fears

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/26/16 9:35 AM

Terrified of jumping into the homeownership circle? As with any large purchase, buying a home can be unnerving for someone who has limited knowledge of the homebuying and financing process. As the mortgage world is constantly changing, there are also several misconceptions about what it takes to buy a home.

Here's how to set some of those fears and misconceptions aside when thinking of buying a home.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales & Prices Fall in Feburary

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/25/16 12:29 PM

Economic data contained few surprises and had minimal impact on mortgage rates going into the holiday weekend.

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Renting vs. Buying: A 7-Year Comparison

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/24/16 10:17 AM

To rent or to buy? That is the (important) question. And it should be – choosing to buy a home is most likely the biggest financial decision of your lifetime. Choosing between a home purchase and a rental is also a highly personal decision, but here’s what we know on the financial side.

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Mortgage Goals: Should You Pay Down Your Mortgage or Invest More?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/23/16 1:42 PM

While ridding yourself of debt is a common mortgage goal for many, becoming “financially free” isn’t as black and white when it comes to paying off your mortgage. There are several variable s to consider when determining if mortgage freedom is the right stepping stone to financial freedom. Could your money be of better use (and opportunity) elsewhere?

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When’s the Best Time to Sell Your Home in 2016?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/22/16 4:57 PM

People buy homes year-round, but when it comes to putting your home up for sale, is there an optimal time to list? Last year, the “magic window” to list your home was between mid-March and mid-April, according to Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate.

That timing has shifted now, mostly due to low inventory holding down sales nationwide. The previous study showed that homes sold in the U.S. from mid-March to mid-April sold approximately 15% faster and for 2% more than the average listing.

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Get Committed: 3 Ways Real Estate Agents Benefit From Loan Commitments

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/21/16 5:59 PM

Though it goes without saying, spring 2016 is going to be a busy and fairly competitive homebuying season. Low mortgage rates and rising home prices are increasing demand but February’s existing home sales report shows inventory is low, at a 4.4 month supply, going into the most popular time of year to buy a home.

So in a market that is swarming with buyers, some with cash in hand, how do get your (eventually) mortgaged homebuyers a competitive edge? Two words: loan commitment.

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9 Lawn Care, Landscaping & Gardening Do's and Don'ts for the First-Time Homeowner

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/20/16 5:31 PM

Owning your first home can be overwhelming as you adjust to the new responsibilities and tasks of homeownership. While you’re busy turning the interior of your house into your own home, don’t neglect the view of from the curb. Here are some beginner’s tips for making wise and budget-friendly choices when it comes to your landscape.

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5 Reasons You Should Buy a Home in Spring 2016 (Updated)

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/19/16 1:16 PM

If you’ve been sitting on the fence between homebuying and renting, 2016 is shaping up to be a great time to purchase a home. Changes in home price growth, mortgage rates, loan options and the loan process could be just what you need to get off the homebuying sidelines.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Reduces Expectations for 2016 Rate Hikes

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/18/16 12:56 PM

The Fed met this week and maintained the target range for the federal funds rate, as expected. The Fed cited global risks and a downgraded outlook for inflation as the main reasons they issued no rate hike and pulled back their expectations for 2016.

Expectations were lowered by 50 basis points from 1.4 percent to a year-end rate of 0.9 percent. This was good for mortgage rates this week.

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9 Ways to Make Your Home a Green, Healthy & Efficient Place to Live

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/17/16 10:00 AM

In honor or St. Patrick’s Day, we’re seeing green! Green homes, that is. You don’t have to install solar panels or starting growing your own produce to become a green and efficient household. You can easily reduce your carbon footprint, while minimizing your utility bills with these nine cost-efficient steps.

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Construction 101: How to Choose the Right Home Builder

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/16/16 1:44 PM

Buying a home comes with its own distinct set of choices and options, but when you choose to build a new home, the amount of choices increase immensely. Your home builder is one of the most important. Here’s how to determine which one is right for you.

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5 Reasons Millennials Aren’t Buying Homes and How They’re Missing Out

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/15/16 5:11 PM

Real estate experts have been trying to predict when millennials will enter the housing market for quite some time, and for good reason. Millennials make up the largest generation in the U.S., comprising one-third of the nation’s population in 2013. Their entry into homeownership is pertinent to the market, because as younger generations purchase entry-level homes, sellers can upgrade.

So in an age where mortgage rates are historically low and rental inflation has skyrocketed, why aren’t millennials buying?

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Mortgage Goals: Tips for Scouting the Best Place to Buy a Vacation Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/14/16 4:21 PM

With mortgage rates near historic lows and the continued appreciation of home values, the purchases of second homes or vacation homes have skyrocketed in the past few years. In 2014, vacation home sales boomed to a peak estimated 1.13 million, up from 717,000 in 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors.

While you’re relaxing at your spring break destination this year and find yourself entertaining the idea of purchasing a vacation home in the future, here are some considerations for choosing a good second home investment.

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Homeowner DIY: How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Living Area

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/13/16 3:54 PM

Many homeowners spend countless hours rearranging and remodeling the interior of their home, but come springtime, transition from indoor to outdoor living. Spending time outdoors doesn't mean having to forfeit the comforts of the indoors. Add value to your yard, patio, porch or another outdoor area of your home by transforming it into a relaxing but functional, open-air living space.

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6 Things You Should Know If You're Thinking of Buying a Home This Spring

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/12/16 3:45 PM

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to buy a home! Well, at least we think so. If you’ve been on the fence about getting out of the rental circuit or upsizing/downsizing, here are some factors to consider and some tips to make your spring homebuying experience a positive one.


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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Up, Oil Prices Keeping Import & Export Prices Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/11/16 12:24 PM

No major U.S. economic reports were released this week with the largest financial news coming from the European Central Bank (ECB), who added to its stimulus plan to help nurture economic growth and boost inflation. Mortgage rates ended the week a little higher for the second week in a row.

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Mortgage Goals: 7 Things to Consider When Buying Your First Rental Property

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/10/16 1:43 PM

With interest rates near historic lows and rental costs still soaring, it makes sense to invest in some real estate, but just like buying a primary home, investing in a rental property requires a lot of consideration, research, and decision-making to guarantee a positive return of investment. Though these tasks may seem daunting to a first-time real estate investor, they are essential to making sure your property will generate the revenue you desire.

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Mortgage 101: The Real Estate Agent or the Mortgage Banker? Which Comes First When Buying a Home?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/9/16 1:35 PM

The first steps of homebuying often bring about questions regarding who homebuyers should consult with first: a mortgage lender or a real estate agent. This chicken vs. egg-like debate can lead to frustration and common mistakes for first-time homebuyers, which is why meeting with a mortgage lender should be all homebuyers' first action when considering a home purchase.

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First-Time Homebuyers: Do You Have What It Takes to Get a Mortgage?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/8/16 2:47 PM

Studies have shown that a lot of renters aren’t buying homes simply because they are misinformed or unaware of what it actually takes to get a mortgage. You don’t need a 20 percent down payment or an 800 credit score, but there are some things you do need to be eligible for financing. Here are five things to keep in mind when you decide you want to buy a home.

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Time to Refinance Your FHA Loan? Take Advantage of the FHA Streamline

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/7/16 2:02 PM

As mortgage rates have approached historical lows again, if you haven’t taken advantage of refinancing your FHA loan, there is no time like the present. The FHA is the largest insurer of residential mortgages in the world and has helped nearly 5 million families achieve homeownership since the 1930’s. Here’s how the FHA Streamline Refinance helps make the refinancing process simple and makes homeownership even more affordable for borrowers.

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12 Acronyms You Might Hear During the Mortgage Process & What They Mean

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/6/16 6:08 PM

Buying and financing a home, especially your first home, can be confusing when you’re new to the mortgage process and all of the lingo that comes with it. Knowing what these acronyms mean and how they affect your mortgage can make the experience less intimidating. Here are some common mortgage acronyms you might hear throughout your home financing journey.

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DIY Home Projects: How to Make a Rain Barrel

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/5/16 6:51 PM

Using a rain barrel is a great way to cut the cost of watering your lawn, flowers, houseplants and garden. For every inch of rain that falls on 500 square feet of roof, you can collect 300 gallons of water, according to Better Homes and Gardens. Not only will a rain barrel cut your water costs but the investment is relatively cheap and simple for the new DIY homeowner.

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Weekly Economic Review: Strength in the Labor Market, Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/4/16 12:24 PM

Several reports covering the labor market were released this week that were stronger than expected. Mortgage rates ended the week a bit higher as the data indicated economic growth and inflation.

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Homebuyers Name High Rent as One of Their Biggest Motivations for Purchasing in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/3/16 2:17 PM

There are 9 million more renters in the U.S. than a decade ago, the biggest jump on record. As rental demand continues to outstrip supply and median income growth lags behind rental inflation, more homebuyers are citing high rent prices as their biggest motivation for purchasing a home.

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Refinanced Yet? Millions of Mortgaged Homeowners Missing Out on Low Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/2/16 1:36 PM

Even as mortgage rates remained near 3-year lows last week, refinance applications fell back 7 percent for the second week in a row, according to the Mortgage Bankers’ Association. As mortgage rates have remained low and home values have increased, many U.S homeowners have been put in the prime position to refinance their mortgage but many are also missing out on the opportunity.

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Get Committed: How to Get Home Financing With "Cash Offer" Power

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/1/16 2:48 PM

Existing home inventory is lacking and mortgage rates are hovering around record lows. What does this mean if you’re planning on buying a home in the near future? You may come up against some competition during your home search. If you’re starting to shop for a mortgage, here’s how you can obtain home financing with the power of a cash offer.

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Mortgage 101: Five Ways Homebuyers Benefit from a USDA Rural Development Loan

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/29/16 4:02 PM

Did you know you can buy a house without putting a single dollar down on the closing table? Though it sounds too good to be true, the United States Department of Agriculture Guaranteed Rural Development Loan, also known as a UDSA or Rural Development loan, helps potential homebuyers become homeowners with several perks unheard of with different loan programs.

Here are five ways a USDA loan benefits homebuyers. 

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7 Ways to Buy a Home Without a 20% Down Payment

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/28/16 12:35 PM

A major hurdle for some first-time homebuyers is coming up with the funds for a down payment or closing costs on their home purchase. According to a recent Bankrate.com survey non-homeowners were asked what percentage of the total cost they would need to contribute as a down payment on a potential home purchase. Nearly 2 in 10 said somewhere between 11% and 20%, while another 17% said between 6% and 10% down.

Even more notable, almost a quarter of non-homeowners said they had no idea how much they would need for a down payment to buy a home. Here are 7 loan options for eligible homebuyers who wish to buy with little to no money down.

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Preparing Your Home for Spring: The Ultimate Guide for an Organized Garage

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/27/16 9:50 AM

If you’re like most homeowners, your garage is probably a little neglected during the winter months. It’s a dumping ground for boots, sleds, snow removal items, ice melt, etc., so keeping it organized is a task.

Organizing pros estimate that only 30 percent of homeowners store their cars in the garage, according to This Old House. If your car has been forced to take the backseat (no pun intended) to other household items, here are some DIY tips for getting your garage back to its original purpose for spring.

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Weekly Economic Review: January Existing Home Sales Up Despite Concerns of Low Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/26/16 1:05 PM

Many U.S. economic reports released this week were above expectations, including GDP, housing and inflation. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week a little higher after several weeks of declines.

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Buying a Home This Spring? Here's Why Your Home Search Site Matters

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/25/16 2:31 PM

When it comes to buying a home, everything matters, including how you search for a home online. According to the National Association of REALTORS’ 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 42 percent of recent buyers started the homebuying process by looking at listings online. As we’re approaching the highest-traffic homebuying season of the year, the timeliness and accuracy of your home search site is essential.

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Mortgage 101: 4 Things About Credit Scores All First-Time Homebuyers Should Know

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/24/16 1:34 PM

With mortgage rates near historic lows, many homebuyers are looking to purchase and finance homes, making it more crucial than ever for them to understand what part their credit score plays in the mortgage process. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding credit scores and homebuying.

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15 Home Maintenance Tasks to Complete for Spring

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/23/16 3:31 PM

The official first day of spring is less than a month away! Is your home ready? Rediscover the outside world and complete these home maintenance tasks to make sure your home & its major systems run smoothly and efficiently throughout the season.

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Selling Your Home This Spring? Here's What You Should Start Doing Now

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/22/16 2:38 PM

Data shows home sold in the U.S. from mid-march to mid-April sell approximately 15 percent faster and for 2 percent more than the average listing, a national premium worth more than $4,000. The first official day of spring, March 20, is only 27 days away, and if you’re planning on selling your home, there’s a list of things you should start doing now!

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6 Steps to Buying Your First Home in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/21/16 3:45 PM

So you’ve decided to buy a home in 2016. Congratulations! But before you start thumbing through online listing photos, there are a few educational and financial steps to complete to get yourself in the best shape for a mortgage.

Here’s how to get on the right track to becoming a first-time homeowner in 2016.

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6 Pitfalls to Avoid in Your First Year of Homeownership

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/20/16 11:32 AM

As a first-time homebuyer, you have a lot on your plate. From saving for a down payment and closing costs to keeping your credit score mortgage-ready and finding a home that suits your needs, you’ve accomplished a lot even before purchasing your first home.

Now that you’ve closed on your home, there are still some mistakes you should avoid to keep your first year of homeownership a positive experience.

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Weekly Economic Review: Unexpected Rise in Inflation, Mortgage Rates Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/19/16 2:42 PM

Mortgage rates ended the week a little lower despite an unexpected increase in CPI inflation data and improvement in the stock market.

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Two Big Mortgage Misconceptions Keeping Renters from Buying a Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/18/16 4:15 PM

According to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, nearly half of renters say they currently don’t own a home because they can’t afford a down payment or their credit score doesn’t meet mortgage qualification standards. Are these mortgage misconceptions keeping you from buying a home?

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What’s Your Home Worth? 7 Factors That Impact Your Home Value

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/17/16 3:04 PM

When it comes to selling, every homeowner is trying to get top dollar for their house. But what determines their home’s value? Here are several variables that could increase or decrease your resale value.  

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Lighten Up! 7 Tips for Choosing Interior Lighting Like a Pro

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/16/16 6:09 PM

Proper interior lighting is an art. Even the most expensively decorated room can feel drab without sufficient lighting. From chandeliers and table lamps to recessed ceiling fixtures and natural sunlight, here’s a list of the best tips for lighting your home like you hired an interior designer.

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Mortgage 101: How to Build Home Equity

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/15/16 5:27 PM

Home equity is arguably one of the biggest perks of being a homeowner. It is an asset and part of your total net worth. You can use it to pay off other debts, fund your retirement, pay for a child’s education or wedding, or use it to purchase your next home. However you plan to use your equity, there are several ways you can build it. 

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8 Ways to Love Your Home in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/14/16 1:44 PM

Owning a home is a symbol of the American Dream, but homeownership is a constantly changing and challenging journey. Whether you fell in love with your home the moment you stepped inside or are still finding ways to make it your own, here are a few ways to love and appreciate your home this year.

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10 Ways to Update Your Kitchen on a Budget

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/13/16 11:39 AM

Kitchens (and bathrooms) sell homes, so it makes sense that they are also one of the most expensive parts of a home to fully remodel. Whether your kitchen hasn’t been upgraded for a couple decades or you’re trying to update builder-grade materials, here are 10 ways to update your kitchen on a budget and without a full remodel.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Not Far From 2012 Record Lows

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/12/16 1:54 PM

Both stocks and mortgage rates remained on a downward trend this week. Due to investors flooding the U.S bond market, current mortgage rates are not far from the record lows seen in 2012.

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Your Homebuying Checklist: Which Home Style Fits You?

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/10/16 3:33 PM

Buying a home means making a lot of choices. How many bedrooms do I need? Who should I hire as my real estate agent? What’s my home style?

Before you start your home search, make a list of characteristics you desire in your home, whether they are functional or aesthetic. To give you some inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of the top U.S. home styles and their distinguishing characteristics.

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Mortgage 101: What's a Home Warranty? And Do You Need One?

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/9/16 10:59 AM

Buying a home is likely the largest purchase you will make in your lifetime. Protecting your home and your checkbook is a high priority for homeowners, so when buying your first home, is a home warranty worth the investment?

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The New 3% Down Home Loan: 6 Ways You Can Benefit From the HomeReady Mortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/8/16 4:14 PM

Down payment requirements, carrying other monthly debt and building mortgage-ready credit are common hurdles for today’s homebuyers. A new mortgage product addresses these issues and makes home financing accessible to creditworthy low- to moderate-income homebuyers through Fannie Mae’s new HomeReady™ program.

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Top 8 Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/7/16 2:03 PM

Making the decision to buy a home isn’t one to be taken lightly. Homebuyers have a lot to think about from deciding when to buy and what home style fits their needs to saving for a down payment and keeping their credit in check. Here are some of the biggest pitfalls to avoid when buying your first home.

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DIY Home Design: 6 Tips for Choosing Interior Paint Colors Like a Pro

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/6/16 10:00 AM

Paint colors dictate a lot in a home. They can sway the mood of you and your guests, as well as the overall perception of your home. Whether you like bold or subtle color, here are several tips to creating a harmonious, complementary and interior-designer-worthy color palette for your home.

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Weekly Economic Review: January Wage Growth Gains Traction, Unemployment Rate Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/5/16 12:56 PM

Most of the economic reports released this week fell short of expectations, including sections of the employment and manufacturing reports. Mortgage rates ended the week lower again.

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Saving Money: Top 9 Energy-Efficient Upgrades for Your Home Improvement Dollar

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/3/16 2:06 PM

Considering some home improvements this winter or spring? Why not invest in some projects that will save you money in the long run. Energy-efficiency is a top priority for many homeowners whether they’re trying to whittle down high utility bills or trying to minimize their environmental footprint. Here are some of the best home improvements for the energy-conscious homeowner.

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6 First-Time Homebuyer FAQs

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/2/16 5:25 PM

Buying a home is a huge, yet beneficial, financial decision. We want our homebuyers to understand the benefits of homeownership, the mortgage process, the costs of their mortgage, and their overall homeownership affordability, so we've compiled a list of common first-time homebuyer questions and answers.

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Mortgage 101: Four Numbers That Affect Your Homebuying Power

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/1/16 3:49 PM

Buying a home is exciting! But before you start thinking of your preferred home style or how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need, you’ll want to pay attention to these four areas that determine just how much buying power you’ll have.

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11 Budget Ways to Make Your Home Décor & Design Look More Expensive

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/30/16 2:23 PM

Keeping up with the expenses of regular home maintenance doesn’t always leave much budget to focus on aesthetics. On the other hand, achieving a sleek, high-class interior doesn’t have to break the bank either. Here’s how to achieve a luxe look for less.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Down, Fed Makes No Change Due to Slowing Inflation

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/29/16 1:50 PM

Central bankers acknowledged the slowdown in global economic growth this week, which was positive for mortgage rates.

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Mortgage 101: 7 Benefits of Being a Homeowner During Tax Season

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/27/16 3:40 PM

From creating a stable living environment for your family to personalizing your living space and building home equity, there is no doubt homeownership boasts several advantages. With tax season around the corner, homeowners can argue that tax benefits are one of the biggest perks of owning their own home.

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Refinancing 101: Benefits of Refinancing With an FHA Streamline

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/26/16 3:09 PM

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is the largest insurer of residential mortgages in the world, having helped 4.8 million families achieve homeownership through affordable and accessible home financing. If you’ve been thinking of taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates and making your FHA mortgage even more affordable, here’s what you should know about the FHA Streamline Refinance.

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Top 13 Do’s and Don’ts of the Homebuying and Mortgage Process

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/25/16 11:42 AM

Buying a home requires more than signing on the dotted line. From preparing to buy a home to waiting for closing day, there are several things you have to keep in mind to keep your home financing on track and your homebuying experience a positive one.

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Top Home Design Trends for 2016 According to Pinterest

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/23/16 3:12 PM

What’s the top go-to spot for anyone looking for interior design inspiration? Pinterest. The idea powerhouse pros analyzed the pins of over 100 million users to create their predictions for the top home design trends for 2016.

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Weekly Economic Review: December Existing Home Supply Down, Home Prices Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/22/16 12:37 PM

Global markets were extremely volatile this week due to U.S. economic data and concerns about slow economic growth in China. Mortgage rates ended the week with no change.

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Homebuying Still More Affordable Than Renting in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/20/16 2:23 PM

Rapidly rising rents coupled with smaller wage gains show that it makes more financial sense to buy a home in most areas of the country, according to RealtyTrac’s 2016 Rental Affordability Analysis report. If you’ve been on the fence between renting and buying, here are several reasons why 2016 should be the year to break your lease.

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Financing a Fixer-Upper: 3 Home Loan Options for Improvements & Renovations

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/19/16 5:22 PM

Finding a home that meets every one of your wants and needs can be a daunting and somewhat unrealistic task. Maybe you love the look and nostalgia of an older home but also want the efficiency and modern features of new construction. Perhaps you’ve found a home with great “bones” but is in need of some major (or minor) TLC.

This is where rehab loans come into play for homebuyers who love the idea of making a home their own but need a financing option to do so. Here are three options that give you the ability to not only buy a fixer-upper but make the home improvements and renovations to make it livable and energy efficient.

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Mortgage 101: How Is My Mortgage Rate Determined?

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/18/16 8:29 AM

A big part of when you decide to buy and which lender you choose to finance with will likely depend on what mortgage rates are doing. Your mortgage rate not only affects the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your mortgage but can also influence the amount you are approved to finance, as well as your affordability of homeownership overall.

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First Time Homebuyers: How to Buy a House in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/17/16 6:24 PM

Buying your first home involves much more than simply making the decision to become a homeowner. Buying your first house is a big financial commitment, and if you’re like the majority of first-time homebuyers, you’ll be looking at getting a mortgage. But where and how to start?

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Boosting Home Value: Expert Tips for Renovating Your Laundry Room

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/16/16 2:03 PM

Often a neglected room when it comes to home makeovers, the laundry room has come into its own as a hub for organization, clean-up, storage, and doing the laundry, of course. Whether your laundry room is located in your basement, next to the kitchen or squeezed into an upstairs closet, here are some thrifty and efficient tips to consider when updating your laundry area.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates & Stocks Drop Over Concerns of Global Economic Growth

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/15/16 1:04 PM

Apprehension about the global economy, primarily China, caused stocks and mortgage rates to drop over the past week. Some weak U.S. economic data was also a factor in the decline of mortgage rates.

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3 Reasons the Fed Rate Hike Is Not a Concern for the 2016 Housing Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/14/16 4:32 PM

Many analysts have made ill-fated predictions for 2016’s housing market conditions following the change in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. Last year was deemed “the housing market’s best year since the recession” but many analysts projected concerns of spiking mortgage rates, decreased home affordability and an overall reversal of the market’s gains in 2016. Here are three facts refuting those concerns.

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3 Reasons You Should Refinance in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/13/16 2:00 PM

Have you taken advantage of the historically low mortgage rates over the last few years? No? Well you aren’t alone, according to a new report. As mortgage rates stand, more than 5 million borrowers could qualify and benefit from a mortgage refinance.

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Adding Value to Your Home: How to Choose the Right Front Door

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/12/16 2:57 PM

The front door. The focal point of your home’s exterior. Entry doors have a lot to live up to. They have to be tough enough to withstand temperature extremes, precipitation and intruders, as well as boost curb appeal. Entry door replacements are one of the top home improvements for value, recouping anywhere from 82-91% of their cost. Here’s how to determine what kind of front door fits your needs.

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The 10 Best Remodeling Projects to Boost Home Value in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/11/16 5:44 PM

Curb appeal, energy efficiency and higher-cost remodeling and renovation projects topped the list of Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report. For the 30 projects reviewed, the average cost and average resale return was 64.4%, the second-highest return in the past eight years. If you’re thinking of making home improvements to improve resale value, here’s what the report found to be the greatest remodeling, renovation and home improvement projects for cost recoupment.

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6 Ways to Liven Up Your Home's Curb Appeal This Winter

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/10/16 2:52 PM

As you’re braving the cold, tearing down holiday décor and dreading snow removal, it’s all too common to forget about the appearance of your home’s exterior once the cold front hits. Whether you’re listing your home or simply wanting to add some updates, here’s how to boost your curb appeal once winter sets in.

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16 DIY Hacks for Getting Your Home Organized in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/9/16 2:16 PM

No matter how big your house is, you likely find yourself without enough room for all of your belongings. Junk drawers turn into junk closets. Overflow is shoved into closets before company arrives. Take control of every area of your home with these simple, cheap DIY organization hacks.

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Weekly Economic Review: December Job Market Surges, Mortgage Rates Drop

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/8/16 2:20 PM

Mortgage rates were primarily affected by overseas events in North Korea, the Middle East and China this week as rising tensions and slowing growth caused investors to shift their holdings to safer assets, including U.S. mortgage-backed securities. In result, mortgage rates ended the first week of 2016 lower.

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Selling Your Home: 6 Ways to Make Your Winter Listing Stand Out

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/7/16 2:06 PM

There are many pros and cons of winter homebuying, but what if you’re on the selling side? A recent Redfin report found that winter-listed homes are 9 percent more likely to sell and sell one week faster than homes listed in the fall, spring or summer. From lighting techniques and home staging to energy efficiency, here’s how to make your winter listing draw in prospective buyers.

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Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Early? 5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/6/16 3:07 PM

To many, becoming debt-free is one of the most rewarding financial accomplishments. As homeowners build their savings and investments, many ask if paying of their mortgage early is the best option on their path to financial freedom and stability. The answer, though, isn’t black and white. It varies based on savings, investments, retirement, debt, and overall financial goals.

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Building Mortgage-Ready Credit: 6 Credit Habits to Break in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/5/16 4:45 PM

Your credit score is used as a risk factor in determining your mortgage eligibility. It can determine if and how much you can borrow and at what interest rate. If homeownership is one of your 2016 resolutions, here are six credit habits to break to get your score mortgage-ready.

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Top 4 Reasons You Should Sell Your Home in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/4/16 2:24 PM

If you’ve been going back and forth on listing your home, here are four reasons why 2016 is the year you should make it happen.

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12 Home Design & Decor Trends: What's In and What's Out in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/3/16 3:18 PM

As 2015 ended, interior design experts were making their predictions for the newest home design and decor trends, as well as the 2015 trends they are pleased to see leaving the picture. From color, appliances, furniture material and more, here's what you can expect to be a big hit in 2016.

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6 Resolutions to Make for Buying a Home in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/2/16 11:28 AM

2016 is a great year to buy a home. Mortgage rates are forecasted to increase, home prices are rising and rent is quickly outpacing wage growth. Set yourself up for the best home buying and financing experience by accomplishing these six major homebuyer resolutions.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Down, Inflation Holds Steady

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/31/15 1:16 PM

Economic events released over the past two holiday weeks have had little effect on mortgage rates, which ended this week slightly higher.

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2016 Housing Market Forecast: 7 Trends the Experts Are Predicting

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/30/15 3:33 PM

2015 has been deemed “the housing market’s best year since the recession”. Following a year of significant home price gains, the Fed’s decision to increase the federal funds rate, and skyrocketing rental prices, here are seven trends housing market and economic experts are projecting for 2016.

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8 Ways to Cool Down Your Home Heating Bill

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/29/15 3:05 PM

U.S. households heating their homes primarily will natural gas can expect to spend $578 on average this winter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Households using propane or heating oil will spend, on average, anywhere from 2 to 3 times that amount. Though heating costs vary greatly due to differing climates, home sizes, insulation, and home age, there are several things you can do this winter to cut down your heating expenses.

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Homeowner Tax Benefits Extended for 2015 & 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/28/15 5:14 PM

There is no doubt homeownership boasts several advantages, especially during tax season. If you put less than 20% down on your home purchase and pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), this recently extended tax break may save you some money.

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Weekly Economic Review: November Home Sales Disappoint, Home Price Growth Slows

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/27/15 2:07 PM

Existing home sales for November came in with a disappointing 10.5 percent fall to a much lower-than-expected annualized rate of 4.76 million. Due to weakness in existing home sales, the year-over-year rate is in the negative, at -3.8 percent, for the first time since September 2014.

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The 20 Most Popular Home Features of 2015

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/26/15 1:22 PM

Think of the biggest home décor and design trends from last year, five years ago, three decades ago, etc. Home features are constantly evolving to meet the demands of homebuyers. Yes, at one point pastel bathtubs and shag carpeting were in high demand.

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7 Pros and Cons of Buying a Home in the Winter

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/23/15 4:48 PM

Though spring and summer are considered the most popular seasons of the year to buy a home, don’t let winter weather and the holidays deter you from purchasing in the off-season. In fact, the best day of the year to buy a home is in late October, in regards to getting the best price deal. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to brave the weather or wait until spring, here are some pros and cons of winter homebuying.

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Preparing to Buy a Home in 2016: 5 Things You Should Start Doing Now

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/22/15 5:34 PM

The potential of increasing mortgage rates, home prices and rent costs are among a few of the reasons 2016 could be a good year for you to buy a home. Here’s what you can and should be doing now if 2016 is the year you want to get out of the rental circuit.

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Exterior Home Renovations: Homeowners & REALTORS Weigh In on the Best Projects

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/21/15 6:34 PM

Want to update your curb appeal, add energy efficiency or thinking of selling your home soon? Not all exterior home renovations will recoup your investment. According to the National Association of REALTORS ® 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, Americans spent over $300 billion on remodeling projects in 2015.

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6 Reasons You Should Buy a Home in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/20/15 4:02 PM

If you’ve been sitting on the fence between homebuying and renting, 2016 is shaping up to be the optimal time to purchase a home. Changes in home prices, mortgage rates, loan options and the loan process could be just what you need to get off the homebuying sidelines.

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9 Tips for Designing a Great Home Office

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/19/15 2:16 PM

More than 20 million Americans work from home at least part of the time, according to government labor statistics. Whether you're working full-time from home, running your own business, or simply desiring a place to finish up a few work or personal tasks after the work day, a home office can be of significant value to certain homeowners. Here are some guiding points on creating an efficient, valuable workspace.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Up Following Fed Decision

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/18/15 3:03 PM

The biggest economic focus this week was the Fed’s decision to increase the federal funds rate after seven years of holding near zero. Mortgage rates ended the week a little higher as a result.

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9 Interior Home Renovations: Homeowners & REALTORS® Weigh In on the Best Projects

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/17/15 5:24 PM

Whether you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, want to update your home’s appeal or improve your home’s livability and efficiency, not all remodeling projects are created equal. According to the National Association of REALTORS ® 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, Americans spent over $300 billion on remodeling projects in 2015.

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Fed Hikes Interest Rates: How It Affects Homebuyers and Mortgage Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/16/15 3:28 PM

As anticipated, the Federal Reserve raised its target federal funds rate on Wednesday to a range of 0.25 to 0.5 percent, the first increase in nearly a decade. The federal funds rate affects several areas of your finances from credit card interest rates and home equity lines of credit to student loan rates and your homebuying circumstance.

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Mortgage 101: Top 7 Homebuying Fears & How to Face Them

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/15/15 3:22 PM

Terrified of jumping into the homeownership circle? As with any large purchase, buying a home can be unnerving for someone who has limited knowledge of the homebuying and financing process. As the mortgage world is constantly changing, there are also several misconceptions about what it takes to buy a home. Here's how to set some of those fears and misconceptions aside when thinking of buying a home.

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4 Things Millennials Should Know About Homebuying vs. Renting

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/14/15 9:36 AM

We've known for quite some time Millennials are quite different than their predecessors. They're getting married and having kids at an older age, waiting longer to buy houses and bringing a completely different list of housing "wants" when they do decide to buy. But here's further proof that this generation is better off buying than renting.

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Mortgage Goals: 3 Benefits of Adding Rental Property to Your Retirement Portfolio

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/13/15 2:40 PM

When it comes to building your investment portfolio, it’s a good idea to have a diversified amount of income-generators. For the second year in a row, Americans named real estate a better long-term investment over stocks, gold, savings accounts/CDs or bonds, according to a 2015 Gallup Survey. 

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Increasing Home Value: What Will Your Home Improvements Cost?

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/12/15 1:20 PM

If home improvements, a remodel or renovation are on your 2016 homeowner to-do list, budgeting for those items is essential. Afterall, an estimate is just an estimate. Every remodeling project is unique and costs vary depending on your budget, materials, contractor, timing and even your geographical location.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Spending Up, Mortgage Rates & Job Openings Soften

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/11/15 1:18 PM

Mortgage rates decreased this week following a drop in the price of oil to the lowest level in seven years.  

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The Rent Cost Crisis: 6 Things You Should Know About Renting vs. Homebuying

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/10/15 3:13 PM

There are 9 million more renters in the U.S. than a decade ago, the biggest jump on record. As rental demand continues to outstrip supply and median income growth lags, the price of renting is likely to continue on its upward trend. If you’ve been sitting on the homebuying fence, these alarming rent statistics will show that you’re likely better off buying a home sooner rather than later.

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8 Smart Home Gadgets to Add to Your Holiday Wish List

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/9/15 2:38 PM

Home automation and smart home devices are continuing to gain popularity this holiday season. Whether you’re looking to increase energy efficiency, home security, or simply make you home a cooler place to reside, these are some of the best smart home gadgets to add to your holiday wish list.

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Top 6 Holiday Home Décor Trends for 2015

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/8/15 4:36 PM

Looking for some holiday home décor inspiration? Here are six ideas that might make you put the traditional shades of red and green on the back burner.

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10 Best & Worst Home Improvements for the DIY Homeowner

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/7/15 4:01 PM

We're in the age of do-it-yourself homeownership. Whether trying to save time, money, etc. a large number of homeowners have taken on home improvement projects themselves. According to a new Zillow analysis, three-quarters of homeowners completed a DIY home improvement project in the last three years, but nearly 40 percent of those homeowners wish they hadn't.

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9 Holiday Credit Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/6/15 2:53 PM

'Tis the season for consumers to go overboard with credit cards. If you have or plan to use credit cards during your holiday shopping trips, there are several ways to effectively manage and control your debt while keeping your credit score healthy. Here are 8 credit mistakes to avoid this holiday season.

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Home Improvements: 10 Best Upgrades for Home Value

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/5/15 1:42 PM

If improving the quality and value of your home is on your to-do list in 2016, you should know that not all home improvements are created equal. According to Remodeling magazine's 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, the following mid-range home improvements recovered the most investment costs.

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Weekly Economic Review: Strong November Labor Report Released, Mortgage Rates Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/4/15 2:52 PM

Mortgage rates ended the week a little higher, impacted mostly by a smaller-than-expected European Central Bank stimulus package. Friday's labor market report had little impact on mortgage rates, though it showed signs of solid payroll growth for November.

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9 Tips for Home Security During the Holidays

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/3/15 3:42 PM

It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but prolonged homeowner absences and holiday gift-giving causes burglaries to spike during the holidays. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the United States between November and December each year. Use these tips to be extra vigilant this holiday season.

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5 Home Loan Options for First-Time Homebuyers

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/30/15 2:27 PM

From student loan debt, saving for a down payment and building mortgage-ready credit, First-time homebuyers face different hurdles when it comes to buying a home. Here are some of the best options for home financing when preparing to buy your first home.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales, Prices & Consumer Confidence Dip

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/29/15 1:06 PM

Sales of existing homes in October were down 3.4 percent. The National Association of Realtors called the monthly existing home sales report "disturbing" as the year-over-year sales were only up 3.9 percent, the lowest yearly comparison since January.

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11 Things to Do This Weekend to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/28/15 2:00 PM

As the temperatures are already dipping below freezing, now is the time to make sure your home will be ready for this winter!  Winterizing your home can help lower your utility bills, protect your investment and most importantly, keep you and your family warm throughout the freezing months.  Here are some tips on how you can maximize your winterizing efforts.

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Black Friday 2015: What Home Deals to Buy and What to Skip

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/27/15 9:35 AM

If you're making your way out into the shopping crowds today, here are some of the best deals to look for in home essentials and some deals that will get even sweeter after Black Friday.

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Thanksgiving Traditions, Memories & Reasons to Be Thankful: Compass Style

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/26/15 10:25 AM

This year, the Compass Mortgage family is sharing our favorite Thanksgiving traditions and memories and what we're thankful for. Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family this year!

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8 Ways the Federal Funds Rate Hike Could Affect You

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/25/15 12:46 PM

If you've been following news in the economic world, you know that the Federal Reserve has been talking of increasing interest rates for the first time in nearly seven years. Most recently, the Fed said in a post-meeting statement that due to the gains in the labor market, economic activity and inflation, conditions could warrant a December rate hike. But how does it affect you as a U.S. consumer?

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Selling Your Home in 2016: 7 Things You Should Start Doing Now

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/24/15 6:30 PM

A large majority of home sellers wait to list their homes in the spring or summer, but that doesn't mean you should wait to start preparing you home. Cooler temperatures and inclement weather creates a great opportunity to focus on making the right updates, upgrades and repairs to list your home in it's best possible condition.

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Mortgage 101: Top 6 Reasons to Buy a Home During the Holidays

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/23/15 4:26 PM

Holiday parties, guests, shopping, baking and cooking: would you want to add buying a house to your stacked holiday to-do list? While homebuyer traffic does decrease significantly on actual holidays, house-hunting isn't as impacted as you'd assume during the holiday season (and for good reason).

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8 Simple Home Improvements & Upgrades to Do Before the Holidays

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/22/15 1:13 PM

The holidays are just around the corner, as are holiday guests. If you're expecting company over the next month, these upgrades are quick, efficient and relatively budget-friendly.

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9 Home Holiday Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/21/15 2:20 PM

The cooking and baking traditions, family get-togethers, and decorating for the holidays are fast approaching. Before you cozy up to the fireplace, put up your Christmas tree, or start on your holiday baking list, make sure you house is clear of these common holiday hazards.

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Weekly Economic Review: Rates & Housing Starts Decline, Fed Meeting Minutes Released

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/20/15 2:16 PM

U.S. economic data and the release of the October Fed Minutes had little impact on mortgage rates, which ended the week a little lower.

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9 Home Decor Trends to Use This Thanksgiving

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/19/15 1:35 PM

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Whether your style is modern, rustic or traditional, dress up your holiday table setting for your guests this year with these 2015 Thanksgiving decor trends.

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What the Typical Homebuyer & Seller Looked Like in 2015 (Infographic)

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/18/15 1:53 PM

The annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of REALTORS gives insight into the homebuying and selling experience. Highlights from the report include the decrease of first-time homebuyers in the housing market, the buying strength of dual-income couples, and the biggest hurdles buyers face in the financing process.

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8 Tips for Paying Down Debt to Buy a Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/17/15 3:02 PM

Buying a home is a big financial commitment, which is why many homebuyers chose to lighten the load of their existing debt when preparing to buy a house. Though existing debt may not be a homebuying hurdle for everyone, financial freedom is a heavily sought goal for many.

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First-Time Homeowner Checklist: What You Need to Do Before Moving In

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/16/15 12:28 PM

Congratulations on your new home purchase! Before diving in to the fun parts of being a first-time homeowner, there are several maintenance items you should take care of after closing on your home and before moving in. Here's a checklist of what items you should tackle before you make your new house your home.

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Selling Your Home in the Fall: 10 Tips to Attract Fall Homebuyers

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/15/15 2:05 PM

Fall is the second best time of year to sell your home. The kids are back in school. Families aren't hustling and bustling back and forth from family vacations. The holidays aren't a stressor...yet. If you're placing your home for sale now, here are several things you need to consider doing first.

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9 Bathroom Trends to Look for in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/14/15 9:20 AM

Is a bathroom renovation on your wish list in 2016? Check out some of the upcoming trends for the new year from flooring and tubs to accent colors and fixtures.

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Weekly Economic Review: Labor Demand Positive, Retails Sales & Mortgage Rates Cool

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/13/15 1:34 PM

Following an increase after the Fed's announcement of a looming December rate hike, mortgage rates cooled this week. Shortfalls in retail sales and weak economic data in Europe helped slow the rising rate trend.

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10 Budget-Friendly Home Improvements for the First-Time Homeowner

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/12/15 4:02 PM

So you just bought a house; congratulations! Making your home yours is where the real fun begins, but when you've just purchased a home you may find yourself on a tight budget when it comes to home improvements. Here are some cost-effective but aesthetically-pleasing home improvements you can do on a budget.

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Veterans Day 2015: 7 Fast Facts About VA Loans

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/11/15 1:58 PM

Service men and women and their families make many sacrifices to keep our country safe. As a token of appreciation, the United State Department of Veterans Affairs provides a loan program with a mission to help servicemen, servicewomen, veterans and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners.

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Determining Home Affordability: How to Use Our Mortgage Calculators

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/10/15 3:48 PM

First-time and repeat homebuyers often share a common question when it comes to purchasing a home: how much can I afford?

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9 Kitchen Trends to Look for in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/9/15 5:38 PM

Ready to upgrade your kitchen in 2016? Minor kitchen remodels are one of the best home improvement investments. Here are some of the biggest trends for 2016 kitchen design trends to use as inspiration.

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Saving Money: What One Extra Yearly Payment Can Do to Your Mortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/8/15 10:58 AM

When you receive your monthly mortgage statement, you may have noticed the option of paying more than your required monthly payment. While paying extra principal on your mortgage won't decrease your required monthly payment like a credit card payment, there are several perks of making an extra annual mortgage payment.

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9 Ways to Use Shiplap in Your Home Design

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/7/15 10:43 AM

If you're a fan of any home improvement television shows, you've probably noticed the trend of using traditional building elements to enhance a home's character. Whether you're living in a newly built home or a fixer upper, shiplap is a great material to transform boring walls, ceilings, built-ins, and more into pieces of architectural interest.


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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Increase Due to October Job Gains

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/6/15 1:49 PM

Mortgage rates reacted negatively this week to comments from Fed officials and a stronger-than-expected employment report.

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The Best Option for a Serious Buyer: Pre-Qualification, Pre-Approval or Loan Commitment?

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/5/15 4:10 PM

At some point in your home shopping process, you will be asked if you have been "pre-approved", a commonly misunderstood home financing term. Knowing the difference between a pre-qualification, pre-approval and loan commitment will help you avoid surprises in the homebuying process.

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7 Tips for Buying a Home in a Competitive Housing Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/4/15 1:27 PM

As existing home sales increased in September, inventory remained tight. A 6 month supply is an indicator of a balanced housing market, but September's inventory dropped to a 4.8-month supply, paving the way for competition among fall homebuyers. Here are some tips for buying in a low-inventory, competitive housing market.

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12 Tips for Decorating a Small Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/3/15 3:05 PM

Decorating a smaller home can seem like an insurmountable task, but just because your space is smaller, doesn't mean you have to skimp on style. But how do you incorporate statement pieces, artwork, storage, window treatments and more into a smaller space without making it look completely overwhelmed? Here's how.

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Mortgage 101: Should I Pay Down Debt or Save For a Down Payment?

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/2/15 11:39 AM

Many potential homebuyers cite existing debt or saving funds for a down payment as hurdles in their homebuying journey. But what if you have existing debt and a low balance in your savings account? Where do you start?

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6 Tips for Increasing Your Home's Curb Appeal This Fall

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/1/15 11:35 AM