First Time Home Buyer? What You Need to Know About Mortgages

Most new home buyers have little to no concrete knowledge about what it takes to buy a home. And with all of the conflicting information on the internet, it’s no wonder. We’ve always been told the standard amount of money to put down on a new house is 30%, which puts buying a starter home almost impossible for a lot of potential buyers. However, that amount has changed, and now a lot of young people (we’re often called millennials) are confused about exactly what is expected of them with regards to down payments and mortgages.

Recently, the National Association of Realtors surveyed non-owners and found that 39% thought they had to put down more than 20%, 26% thought 15-20% was acceptable, and 22% thought they could get away with 10-14%. Shockingly, the average amount of money put down on a house last year was only 11%, and among the under-35 crowd, it was more like 8%! So why the disparity?

It probably has something to do with how the market is changing, and what we’ve been told by our parents, who grew up in different times. These days, if you can get a VA or USDA loan, you may not be required to put anything down on a new home. The average amount put down on a home in 2016 for that age bracket was $3,500. That’s would barely get you a running car, and yet it’s working for younger people purchasing houses. They’re taking out the loads mentioned above (or a FHA loan, which is targeted towards first-time buyers), and they only need about a 639 credit score to do it. If you’re despairing about not being able to afford a first-time home, you don’t need to. It’s not as hard as it seems, and there’s help out there if you look for it!

How Hiring People to Live in Your Home Can Help You Sell it Faster

If you have the luxury of buying a new house and moving out of your current home before it’s sold, you may have heard of a weird phenomenon where empty houses don’t sell as quickly. This is how staged companies make their money – they rent out furniture and decorate a house as if someone is living there. Well now there’s a new trend out that takes that to the next level – hiring someone to actually move into your empty home to get it to sell!

It may sound weird – and as of right now it’s a pretty unusual occurrence – but there are now a handful of companies that match people who have empty homes and want to sell with families willing to relocate to that home, for a matter of months. Michael Kelton, the COO of ShareHouses, says that buyers are better able to imagine living in a home that is actually being lived in. “Something about having food in the pantry … it’s hard to put my finger on it, but there’s some kind of emotional connection that happens,” he recently told NPR. It also gives homeowners peace of mind, knowing that someone is looking after their property before it sells.

However, being the person who actually lives in the house can be hard. Not only do you have to move a lot – one couple noted moving 11 times in 6 years – but you can never leave your home a wreck because it could be shown to potential buyers at any moment. And if it IS about to be shown, you have to make yourself scarce. It’s a hard way to live, and reduced rent may not be worth it for some people, especially since there’s rules about how nice your furniture has to be and where it can be placed. But for people who like to change their homes often and don’t mind the added effort, this can be a cool and unique lifestyle choice!

How To Keep The Flooring In Your Home Beautiful

Flooring is one of the most important elements of your home, and yet many people have no idea how to care for the various types of flooring in their houses. From the tools you use to how often you clean, each kind of flooring requires different methods of cleaning and care.

For example, wood floors are great if you want flooring built to last, but with their longevity can come all the little nicks and blemishes that time brings. However, you’re not stuck with the worn look if you don’t want to be! To get rid of blemishes, sand down the area with very very fine paper, and don’t go too deep, then clean the area with something that will dry quickly (or dry it yourself). Finally, apply the polyurethane finish to the sanded section with a dry brush until the patch matches the rest of the floor!

Next, let’s tackle carpet. If you’re used to having it in your house, you probably know that when you spill something on it, blot, don’t scrub. Suction up as much as possible without rubbing it into surrounding fibers. Dilute the spot with water or club soda, and blot again. Repeat as long as necessary, and when you’re not getting anything else up, use a mild solution of dishwashing soap and water to blot again (patience is key)! Also, pro tip: if you have a small burn on your carpet, cut out the blackened bit and super-glue on some spare carpet fibers! You’ll never see the difference!

Lastly, one of the most common flooring emergencies is a pet stain. They smell gross, they’re hard to get up, and they can damage both carpet AND hardwood if left to their own devices. Here, time is crucial. Get up as much of the mess as possible, as quickly as possible. With hardwood, if you wiped everything, you should be good to go. For carpet, blotting is still key, but you may have to move to the dishwashing solution immediately after, because urine stains especially quickly. If any icky smell persists, have a professional carpet cleaner come out for a look.

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Home Rennovation

If you’re looking to renovate your home anytime soon, good luck and Godspeed. It can be a challenging and trying process, and while good results are definitely worth it, disastrous home renovations have broken many people. Check out our list of Dos and Don’ts so you don’t make a major misstep.

Do make a decorating file, keep a notebook, or have a pinterest full of ideas. Plan, visualize, and plot it out to make sure all your choices will work well together in the final product.

Don’t paint first. Paint covers all manner of small mistakes, and should be done dead last.

Do interview your contractor, as thoroughly as you would a new babysitter. Your home is in their hands, after all.


Don’t just throw up your hands and not clean. Just because one room of your house is torn up does not mean that you want to leave the others a mess. Trust us, it’ll make you feel better.

Do know that all renovations go over budget and over schedule. Plan ahead and don’t freak out when things get a little more expensive or take too long.


Don’t leave floors exposed. Cover all your floors during a renovation, because even without any accidents, the sheer volume of people coming in and out of your home will ruin your carpets.

Do map out where furniture is going to go with butcher paper and tape, so you know everything fits and you don’t spend the first two weeks rearranging everything.

Don’t forget to breathe. Something will go wrong. Accept it, and plan for it, even if that plan is simply reminding yourself not to freak out.

Do learn the lingo. Being able to understand what your decorator and contractor are talking about immediately is going to be super helpful.

Don’t throw out receipts. Seriously, keep everything. You may not find a problem until much later, at which point having a receipt will be crucial to getting it fixed.

Do have fun! This one is self-explanatory. Enjoy the process and enjoy your new home!

Easy Ways To Update Your Home Without Breaking the Bank

Redecorating is a fun way to boost your property value while also making your living space more inviting and polished. It can be pretty expensive, however, meaning a lot of redecorating options can be out of reach for people who only have a small budget to spend updating their homes. If you feel like you just don’t have the cash to give your home a complete overhaul, check out the following tips for some small changes that can have a big impact:

  1. Try a fresh coat of paint. This is hands down the easiest and most effective way to transform your space. And you don’t have to change the color to make this work – touching up your walls with the same paint you already have will have the space look instantly brighter (and thus larger!).
  2. Update your hardware. This can get a little costly, as the average high-end fixture runs from around $5-$25 per piece, but it’s worth it. You can transform a kitchen from outdated to modern-looking by simply changing all the handles and knobs.
  3. While you’re at it, update your lighting. Clean up your ceilings by installing recessed lighting, which will make your place look like it has more headroom than it actually does. Also, as we mentioned before, more light means the whole room will look larger and cleaner.
  4. Go vintage, if you absolutely have to buy something. You’ll find your items at a cheaper price (most likely), and they’ll have that rustic look that’s so in right now. Plus you’ll feel so much better adopting an older piece of furniture rather than buying a new one.
  5. Finally, get rid of clutter. Clean out your closets, donate anything you haven’t touched in 6 months, and revel in all the new space you have. It’ll have a restorative effect on you and your abode. Purging is good for the home, and good for the soul.