Sunday, November 30, 2014

A sweet escape

Turn your master bedroom into a cozy retreat by supplementing overhead lighting with bedside lamps. 

Soften the glow with warm -- spectrum bulbs.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

You did what to that fireplace?

Brighten up a brick fireplace with several coats of crisp white paint.  Balance the look with a rustic wooded mantel topped with colorful art and trinkets.

Friday, November 28, 2014

This is our next project!

For a splash of vintage charm, transform an old dresser into a custom vanity for your bathroom. Repaint it and replace hardware for an updates look.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Is your kitchen drab?

Save money by updating your current kitchen cabinets instead of by buying new ones.  A fresh coat of paint and new hardware will give them a dramatic facelift.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To sell or not during the holidays

To sell or not during the holidays.....

Cold weather, lower curb appeal and busy schedules are typical reasons many think the holidays are a bad time to sell.

First, because of this theory, there are fewer homes on the market, increasing the chance to sell yours.
Second, your home is typically clean and decorated, perfect for the "come right in" feeling.  Keep decorating to a minimum, focusing on the door, fireplace, dining room table and tree. And remember, you never know when the right buyer will find your house.

How to Chose a Basement Repair Contractor

How to Chose a Basement Repair Contractor

Choosing a basement repair contractor is different than choosing almost any other kind of contractor because both the underlying causes and the real repairs are hidden by the ground, walls and floor. In most cases it will take some time before the quality of the repairs are tested. Therefore, this is very much a faith and trust business. You should check carefully on the experience, integrity and ability of the contractor.

  1.  Visit the contractor's office. Sometimes it is no more than an answering service. For references, take names of previous customers at random from his file.
  2.  Ask to see a job in progress to evaluate the competence of the workmen and their equipment.
  3. Resist all scare tactics. Repairs are seldom of an emergency nature.

Reliable contractors welcome careful investigations.

Food for thought

Just food for thought. If you can find a home and close before the end of the year, those extra tax deductions might come in handy for 2014.

If you need to refinance, HURRY UP!  Chances are that things won't look any better down the road.

Most people don't realize how much waiting can truly cost.
Let me know if you need anything.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Monday, November 24, 2014

How To Prevent Basement Problems - Outside

How To Prevent Basement Problems - Outside

Many homeowners are not aware that basements require a certain amount of maintenance if they are to remain trouble free. Here is a list of items for outside and inside your basement that you should check twice a year - preferably in spring and again in fall.

Outside the basement maintenance checklist

Grading: If water runs towards your walls rather than away, it can wear out the original waterproofing, or create more pressure than the walls can take; causing cracks. So, in the spring and fall check around the entire perimeter of your home (especially behind the shrubbery) and fill in low spots with soil. Concrete pitched toward the walls should be re-leveled or replaced.

Gutters and Downspouts: Clean leaves out of the gutters and downspouts. Seal leaking joints. Extensions and splash blocks should carry water at least four feet away from the walls. Downspouts that empty into the underground cast iron receivers should be tested with a water hose to make sure they are not plugged or broken.

Window Wells: Clean all debris out of window wells. There should be 18" of #1 washed stone in the bottom of each window well for drainage. If the original stone packed with dirt, dig it out and replace it. The edges of the wells should be tightly fitted to the walls and the ground around them raised so the rain and melting snow run away.

Sump Pump Discharge: If you have a sump pump pipe discharging on the ground make sure it carries the water far enough away from the walls. If it discharges below the ground, make sure connections don't leak and are not in danger of freezing in cold weather.

Trees: Roots from nearby trees can creep through the ground in search of water and grow right in to drain tile or create undue pressure on the walls. Willow tree roots for instance can travel in the ground four times the width of it's canopy. Consult an experienced landscaper or the County Agricultural agent when in doubt about the danger posed by trees or shrubs in your yard.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How To Prevent Basement Problems - Inside

How To Prevent Basement Problems - Inside

Many homeowners are not aware that basements require a certain amount of maintenance if they are to remain trouble free. Here is a list of items for outside and inside your basement that you should check twice a year - preferably in spring and again in fall.

Inside the basement maintenance checklist

Sump Pump: Make sure it pumps. Also, make sure that the water level is at least 8 inches below the top of the basement floor so the drain tiles drain properly. Poor drainage from the drain tile can result in plugged tile and leaks.

Palmer Valve: In some homes where the drain tiles meet the floor drain you will find a Palmer Valve. This is a valve -like door that only opens one way. It allows water from the drain tile in to the floor drain. Sometimes it can stick, causing water to back up through floor cracks and around the edges. Check to see that it is working freely or have your plumber do it.

Wall Cracks: All residential basements have some cracks which are perfectly normal and are a result of original settlement and/or shrinkage of construction materials. These cracks may have a tendency to open and close slightly with the changes in temperature and are no cause for alarm. However, any horizontal crack in a concrete block wall is a result of a wall's inability to withstand external forces. Many of these walls require reinforcement that should be done by a professional.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How to Save Energy in Your Home

How to Save Energy in Your Home

Fall is upon us and in the months generally known for colder weather, keeping our homes warm is a top priority. Even in those geographic regions where the mercury doesn't drop below 50, knowing your home is not losing energy is a relief when you spend your hard earned dollars keeping your home warm or cool.
Saving energy in your home is not a difficult process. There are many easy free and low-cost ways to save energy and money on your heating and cooling bills. Listed below are some steps you can take in your home to help conserve energy and save yourself some money in the process:

Install A Programmable Thermostat:

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs you more money than any other area or system in your home. Heating and cooling makes up almost half of your utility bill, so knowing how to eliminate energy waste when it comes to heating and cooling will save you money each month. By installing a programmable thermostat you help to automatically adjust your home's temperature to when you've programmed, which helps it stay warm (or cool) when you need it to be.

Seal Air Leaks:

A home is rarely air tight, and checking for air leaks is a great way of determining where warm or cool air could be escaping and adding money on to your energy bill. There are a number of areas where air escapes: windows, doors, electrical boxes, ceiling fixtures, attics and more. You can help reduce or eliminate leaks by caulking and/or weather-stripping doors and windows, installing foam gaskets behind outlets and switch plates, or using foam sealant on larger gaps around windows and baseboards. Taking the time to find air leaks and fix them will help save you money and keep your home warm or cool.

Improve Insulation:

Heating and cooling make up the majority of your energy bill, over 50 percent, so knowing your home is insulated properly can help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Checking the insulation in your home's attic, walls, floors, and ceilings will tell you how much air is flowing between the inside and outside of your home and help you determine the best way of controlling the temperature inside. One important place to look for insulation is your attic – a well-insulated attic can help slash your heating and cooling bills in both the winter and summer months by helping to maintain indoor temperatures and seal air leaks through your roof.

Install Efficient Windows:

Window glass is not known for being very thick, and single-pane windows are notorious energy loss culprits. One option is to replace current windows with storm windows. Storm windows "reduce temperature loss by sealing leaks and creating a dead airspace between window panes" ( Storm windows can be expensive, but their return on investment is about 10 years, which is relatively short. Another option, if installing new windows is not feasible, is to cover windows with transparent material to help improve insulation. This site has great techniques on conserving energy in your home by implementing winter window treatments.

Conserve Water:

Using less water benefits you, your water bill and the environment. When you use less water, you also use less energy needed to heat the water. The Department of Energy lists water heating as the third most energy consuming function in a home. To help conserve water, you can take shorter showers and be conscious of the water used when washing dishes, food and clothes. When running the dishwasher or the washing machine, make sure the machine is filled to capacity to save water and energy on extra washes. You can also save energy by lowering the temperature on your hot water heater. The Department of Energy says 120 degrees is sufficient for most household uses. You can also save water and money by installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances throughout your home.

Turn Off Electronic Devices:

Do you leave your coffee maker plugged in when not using it? According to the US Department of Energy, "In an average home, 75 perfect of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off." This is called a "phantom load," or the energy appliances or electronics use when not turned on. You can minimize phantom loads and save on your energy bill by unplugging appliances and electronics when not in use, or plugging them into a power strip and turning the strip off when not using the appliances or electronics

Change Out Light Bulbs:

One cost-effective technique for saving energy and money is replacing the traditional incandescent light bulbs in your home. There are a number of options available that will help you save energy, and some offer longer life and greater savings than others. From halogen incandescent bulbs, to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), to light-emitting diodes (LEDs), each bulb has its benefits. Halogen incandescent bulbs are energy-efficient incandescent bulbs and can last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and are extremely affordable. LEDs are becoming more and more popular and their prices have significantly dropped in recent years. LEDs use 20%-25% of the energy traditional incandescent bulbs use, and LEDS can last up to 25 times longer, some even being touted to last up to 25 years.
You also have the option of performing a home energy audit. An energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, assesses how much energy your home consumes and helps you evaluate the best measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. There are a number of options for home energy audits, from Do-It-Yourself audits, to professional audits that include blower door tests, thermographic inspections and PFT air infiltration measurements. Find an option that best suits your needs, wants and wallet and discover how you can make your home more energy efficient and save yourself some money.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Family room ideas

Fill in the Blank:  What I like best about this family room __________.

I am torn between the super awesome flooring and the equally as awesome wood wall.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No caption needed...........


About VA Home Loans

VA helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. As part of our mission to serve you, we provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.

VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies. VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide you with more favorable terms.

Purchase Loans help you purchase a home at a competitive interest rate often without requiring a downpayment or private mortgage insurance. 

Eligibility Requirements

The length of your service or service commitment and/or duty status may determine your eligibility for specific home loan benefits.

Purchase Loans : VA-guaranteed loans are available for homes for your own personal occupancy. To be eligible, you must have a good credit score, sufficient income, a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE), and meet certain service requirements.

Contact me, Lisa or 262-893-5555
 if you want to know more about how you can become a homeowner! I am here to help you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Motivation by all.....

The VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) Loan

The VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) Loan

The VA Streamline Refinance is also known as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). The IRRRL allows you to refinance your current mortgage interest rate to a lower rate than you are currently paying.

The Streamline loan is extremely popular because of its ease of use: once you have already been approved for your initial VA purchase loan, it is relatively simple to lower your interest rate and experience considerable savings. In most cases, a loan officer or lender with expertise in VA loans should be able to complete the loan within a month’s time in most cases.

VA loan closing costs can be rolled into the cost of the loan, allowing veterans to refinance with no out-of-pocket expenses. Sometimes it is also possible for the lender to take the brunt of the cost in exchange for a higher interest rate on your loan.

In order to qualify for a VA Streamline, you must meet the following requirements:
  • Be current on your mortgage with no more than one 30-day late payment within the past year.
  • Your new monthly payment for the IRRRL must also be lower than the previous loan’s monthly payment. (The only time this condition does not apply is if you refinance an ARM to a fixed rate mortgage.)
  • You must not receive any cash from the IRRRL.
  • You must certify that you previously occupied the property.
  • You must have previously used your VA Loan eligibility on the property you intend to refinance. (You may see this referred to as a VA to VA refinance.)

Contact me, Lisa or 262-893-5555
 if you want to know more about how you can become a homeowner! 

I am here to help you!

Monday, November 17, 2014

10 things polite Realtors won’t tell sellers — but should | Inman News

10 things polite Realtors won’t tell sellers — but should | Inman News

Litter box Background image via Shutterstock. Modified.
Litter box Background image via Shutterstock. Modified.
Tilted couch Background image via Shutterstock. Modified.
Tilted couch Background image via Shutterstock. Modified.
Messy closet Image via Shutterstock.
Messy closet Image via Shutterstock.
Dirty microwave Image via Shutterstock.
Dirty microwave Image via Shutterstock.
Extension cord Image via Shutterstock.
Extension cord Image via Shutterstock.
Bong Image via Shutterstock.
Bong Image via Shutterstock.
Switchplate Image via Shutterstock.
Switchplate Image via Shutterstock.
Moving boxes Image via Shutterstock.
Moving boxes Image via Shutterstock.
Throw rugs Image via Shutterstock.
Throw rugs Image via Shutterstock.
House for sale Image via Shutterstock.
House for sale Image via Shutterstock.

Brrrr. It's cold outside

What makes this home warm and cozy? There are some winterizing tips you can' t see from the image.

They are...

Want a cozy room such as this for yourself.  Let me help you find one!


VA Loan - What is it?

VA Streamline Refinance:

VA Streamline Refinance Guidelines And Mortgage Rates

What Is A VA Streamline Refinance/VA Loan?

VA loans are a special loan program designed specifically for veterans, issued by approved lenders and guaranteed by the federal government.

The VA Streamline Refinance is the most common loan type within the VA loan umbrella, and is officially known as an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) by the government.
The program is also known as a VA-to-VA Loan.

The VA loan’s definitive characteristic is that veterans with qualifying credit and income can purchase a home with no money down, which makes buying a home extremely attractive for those who have served in the military. In addition, VA loans also offer feature flexible requirements, no private mortgage insurance (PMI), and extremely competitive mortgage rates.

In order to qualify for a VA Loan, a veteran must have served 181 days during peacetime, 90 days during war time, or 6 years in the Reserves or National Guard. You may also qualify as the spouse of a service member who was killed in the line of duty.

Generally speaking, almost all active duty and/or honorably discharged service members are eligible for a VA purchase or streamline refinance loan.

Contact me, Lisa or 262-893-5555
 if you want to know more about how you can become a homeowner! I am here to help you!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ever have one of these listings...........

100%, no-money down mortgage financing Summary

Summarizing The USDA / Rural Housing Mortgage Program

 100%, no-money down mortgage financing.

The USDA loan guidelines are straight-forward. You must qualify for the program and your home must, too. Here are some common USDA mortgage questions.

How do I check if my home is USDA / Rural Housing-eligible?

With the USDA Rural Housing Program, your home must be located in a rural area. However, the USDA's definition of "rural" is quite liberal. Many small towns meet the "rural" requirements of the agency, as do suburbs and exurbs of most major U.S. cities.

What is the USDA program's minimum downpayment?

The USDA has no downpayment requirement. You can finance 100% with a USDA loan.

What's the maximum USDA mortgage loan size?

There is no maximum loan size for the USDA loan program. The amount you can borrow is limited by your household's debt-to-income. The USDA typically limits debt-to-income ratios to 41%, except when the borrower has a credit score over 660, stable employment, or can show a demonstrated ability to save.

Is the USDA loan program limited to first-time buyers?

No, the USDA Rural Housing Program can be used by first-time buyers and repeat buyers.

Can I finance the Upfront Mortgage Insurance into my mortgage?

Yes, the USDA will let you finance your Upfront Mortgage Insurance payment into your loan size. For example, if you bought a home for $100,000 and borrowed the full $100,000 from your lender, your Upfront Mortgage Insurance would be $2,000. You could then raise your loan size to $102,000.

My lender doesn't offer USDA mortgages. What do I do?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture website maintains a list of lenders in the Rural Housing Program. Visit its website to search for a lender, or just skip to the rate quote.

What mortgage products are available with a USDA mortgage?

Currently, the Rural Housing loan is available as a 30-year fixed rate mortgage only. Beginning in September 2014, though, a 15-year fixed rate mortgage will be available. There are no adjustable-rate mortgages.

How much are the closing costs for a USDA mortgage?

Closing costs vary by lender and location. For example, some lenders have high origination charges. Others do not. The same is true for state and local governments. Some states have high costs, others have low costs.

I can't afford closing costs. Can I get a gift for my closing costs?

Yes, USDA loans allow gifts from family members and non-family members. You will need a gift letter to accompany your loan application. Your loan officer can give you one. If you don't have a loan officer, get today's rates here.

I negotiated to have the seller pay my closing costs. Is that allowed?

Yes, the USDA Rural Housing Program allows sellers to pay closing costs for buyers. These costs can include state and local government fees, lender costs, title charges, and any number of home and pest inspections.

Can I use the USDA loan program for a vacation home?

No, the USDA Rural Housing Program is for primary residences only.

Can I use the USDA loan program for an investment property?

No, the USDA Rural Housing Program is for primary residences only.

Is there a minimum credit score for the USDA loan program?

There is no minimum score, per se, but 640 is generally regarded as a cutoff point. If your FICO is below 640, you should be prepared to explain why your credit score is below 640, and provide documentation. If you are without a credit score, your lender may accept "alternate" tradelines to establish credit history.

I recently went back to work. How long until I am USDA-eligible?

If you are a W-2 employee, you are eligible for USDA financing immediately; you don't need a job history. If you have less than 2 years in a job, however, you may not be able to use your bonus income for qualification purposes.

I am self-employed. Can I use the USDA loan program?

Yes, self-employed persons can use the USDA Rural Housing Program. If you are self-employed and want to use USDA financing, as with FHA and conventional financing, you will be asked to provide 2 years of federal tax returns to verify your self-employment income.

Can I do a "cash out" refinance with the USDA program?

No, the USDA Rural Housing Program is for purchases and rate-and-term refinances only.

Can I use the USDA loan program for my working farm?

No, the Rural Housing Program is for residential property.

Are USDA mortgage rates good?

Yes, USDA Rural Housing Program mortgage rates are often lower than comparable conventional 30-year fixed mortgage rates. And because mortgage insurance rates are lower, with your small downpayment, U.S. Department of Agriculture loans can often be a better deal as compared to FHA loans or conventional loans.

When mortgage rates fall, can I refinance my USDA mortgage?

Yes, USDA loans are eligible for refinance.

Contact me, Lisa or 262-893-5555
 if you want to know more about how you can become a homeowner! I am here to help you!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More on USDA Loans

USDA Loans Require Mortgage Insurance

 100%, no-money down mortgage financing.

The Rural Housing Loan program is a product of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It's partially funded by program borrowers. Similar to the Federal Housing Administration's FHA mortgage, the USDA uses homeowner-paid mortgage insurance premiums to keep the USDA home loan program going.
Since October 1, 2012, USDA mortgage insurance rates have been :
  • For purchases, 2.00% upfront fee paid at closing, based on the loan size
  • For refinances, 2.00% upfront fee paid at closing, based on the loan size
  • For all loans, 0.40% annual fee, based on the remaining principal balance
As a real-life example : A homebuyer with a $100,000 loan size would be required to make a $2,000 upfront mortgage insurance premium payment at closing, plus a monthly $33.33 payment for mortgage insurance.

USDA upfront mortgage insurance is not paid as cash. It's added to your loan balance for you.
USDA mortgage insurance rates are lower than those for a comparable FHA loans or conventional mortgages. FHA mortgage insurance premiums assess a 1.75% upfront mortgage insurance premium and charge as much as 1.55% in MIP annually. Conventional MI can be similarly high.

Even better, USDA mortgage rates are often the lowest among FHA mortgage rates, VA mortgage rates, and conventional loan mortgage rates.

Contact me, Lisa or 262-893-5555
 if you want to know more about how you can become a homeowner! I am here to help you!

The truth be said.........

Friday, November 14, 2014

Writing ads requires creativity!

100%, no-money down mortgage financing.

100%, no-money down mortgage financing. 

If you've never heard of the USDA loan program, you're not alone. It's a niche product serving a fraction of the U.S. housing market, and most banks don't offer them. However, eligible suburban and rural home buyers can use it for 100%, no-money down mortgage financing.

The program's full name is the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan program. Most people call them "USDA loans", "Rural Housing Loans" or "Section 502 loans".

USDA loans are insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the program's biggest feature is its option for "no money down" financing. Via the USDA, you can finance 100% of a home's purchase price while getting access to better-than-average mortgage rates.

Beyond that, USDA loans are similar to other common loan types. The repayment schedule is "normal", closing costs are standard, and there are never prepayment penalties to pay. Where USDA loans are different, though, is with respect to its downpayment requirements and its simpler loan approval standards.

Rural loans can be used by first-time buyers and repeat home buyers alike. Homeowner counseling is not required to use the USDA program.

Contact me if you want to know more about how you can become a homeowner! I am here to help you!
  Lisa or 262-893-5555
 if you want to know more about how you can become a homeowner! I am here to help you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Create an inviting entrance

Create a quick entryway by lining a wall with a long bench and wall hooks. Use baskets underneath for storing shoes, scarves or sports equipment.

Is your furniture just too heavy?

Balance heavy furniture with lighter pieces --- such as a glass or acrylic coffee table - to maintain harmony in a room and create an inviting space.

Right on, right on, right on............

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.

Veterans Day is a time to remember all of the heroes who honor and protect America, and who make all of the freedoms we enjoy possible. Often times people forget that the reason we have our freedom and can live our lives the way we choose is because of the men and women who fight for us.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy