How to Know If You’re Ready To Buy A House

20 Online Security Tips To Protect Your Personal Information

Are you concerned about your online security? With more data breaches occurring daily, it’s crucial to protect yourself with these simple tips.

This infographic is a comprehensive look at how you can reduce your online visibility to protect your privacy, but still be seen by your family and friends. From browsing the internet to safety on social media platforms, you don’t need to be a technical genius to lessen your online risk.

Have Yourself an Inspired Little Christmas

See 10 scenes with festive trees and lights that might spark ideas for your own holiday decor

If the Christmas songs playing at the grocery store or your neighbor’s impressive light display have you ready to get out the garlands, you’re in good company. And as you prepare to deck the halls this holiday season, we’ve collected a few favorite photos and design ideas from Christmas stories past to spark your decorative spirit.

Why Homeowners Are Remodeling Their Master Bathrooms in 2018

Priorities are style, lighting, resale value and ease of cleaning, according to the U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study

Master bathrooms are among the more popular spaces to remodel in a home. But why do homeowners tackle these spaces in the first place, and what do they want from their new master bathrooms?

The most common reason homeowners are renovating their master bathrooms is that they just can’t stand the old ones anymore, the 2018 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Studyfinds. And in the new master bathroom, homeowners who are remodeling tend to want style, good lighting, resale value and ease of cleaning. Read on for more insights into the motivations, design priorities and spending levels of homeowners who are renovating master bathrooms now.

5 Compelling Reasons to Mix Metals in the Kitchen

A winning combination of metallic finishes can enhance kitchen styles from historical to contemporary

For those who love a matching look, the thought of mixing metals can be intimidating. But mixing metals is a wonderful way to layer in texture, help create a historical or collected look and make a room more interesting. Here are five reasons to consider mixing metals when choosing finishes for your kitchen.

How to Handle the Holidays in a Small Space

The Tiny Canal Cottage’s Whitney Leigh Morris shares her creative approaches to guests, gifts, decor and more

If you live in a 362-square-foot cottage with your husband, toddler and two beagles, do you have to gather with the clan around someone else’s table every Thanksgiving and instantly regift everything you get for Christmas? As a mother of three grown children who is thinking about drastically downsizing with the hubby from a suburban house 10 times that size (and crammed with 20 years of memories) to a small city condo, I wanted to know.

So I asked small-space lifestyle blogger and consultant Whitney Leigh Morris — who lives and works in the aforementioned cottage, aka The Tiny Canal Cottage in the Venice area of Los Angeles — how she navigates the holidays with husband Adam Winkleman and their son, West. Her first book, Small Space Style, comes out Nov. 13.

10 Easy Ways to Give Your Entryway and Front Yard a Holiday Boost

Make your entry inviting this season with decorations, lighting, furniture and more

Whether or not we’re hosting guests this fall and winter, we want our entries and front yards to feel welcoming. We’ve covered holiday porch decorating ideas to use from fall to New Year’s; now let’s dive into more quick updates that can help create an inviting entry this time of year. Getting a new doormat, investing in outdoor lighting or porch furnishings and tending the garden can help boost curb appeal for the holiday season and beyond.

9 Steps to Buying Your First Home

You’ve made the decision: You’re ready to buy a house and experience all the joys and trials of homeownership. But now what? Buying a home is a complicated endeavor that many first-time buyers know little about. These nine steps walk you through the basic process of buying your first home and into the wonderful world of homeownership.

Improve Your Credit Score

The higher your credit score, the better the mortgage rate you’ll be offered. Check your FICO score and strategize how you can increase it before applying for a mortgage. A score of 760 or higher secures you the best mortgage rates, while 620 is about the lowest conventional lenders will accept. FHA loans are available to buyers with scores as low as 580.

Save Up

Mortgages allow buyers to spread out the costs of homeownership over many years, but there are still a lot of upfront costs when buying a home. In addition to a down payment of 3.5 percent to 20 percent, depending on your intended loan type, you’ll need to save money for closing costs (2 to 5 percent of a home’s purchase price) and a home repair emergency fund.

Determine What You Can Afford

The rule of thumb is to spend no more than 35 percent of your pre-tax income on housing, including your mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance, HOA payment, and other expenses. However, that rule doesn’t take all your household expenses into account, like existing debt payments and child care. To avoid buying a house you can’t afford, follow Money Under 30’s advice and spend no more than 25 percent of your after-tax income on housing.

Research Your Mortgage Options

Increasing your credit score isn’t the only thing you can do to secure a good mortgage rate. According to Consumers Advocate, different lenders may offer different mortgage rates, so it’s wise to shop around. Know which type of mortgage you’re looking for before meeting with lenders. Lenders vary in the programs they offer; if you’re buying with poor credit or a low down payment and plan to use a government-backed loan like an FHA, VA, or USDA loan, you’ll need to find lenders that offer those products.

Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

Mortgage preapproval shows agents and sellers that you’re a serious buyer. In fact, Lending Tree warns that some agents won’t show you a home without preapproval. When you get preapproved for a mortgage, a lender examines your finances to determine exactly how much they’re willing to lend you. Avoid being swayed into buying a more expensive home by a mortgage approval that’s higher than your budget. Only you know the full picture of your finances, not your lender, so make sure you plan carefully.

Decide What You Want in a Home

Now that you know your budget and are certain you can get a mortgage, it’s time to start thinking about what you want in a home. Look at several online listings to see what type of home you can afford within your budget and desired geographical area. Then, list the features that are most important to you, starting with unchangeable characteristics like location, neighborhood, lot size, and square footage.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

A great real estate agent makes all the difference, especially for first-time homebuyers. The right agent understands what you’re looking for, finds homes that fit the bill, and negotiates to get you the best possible price.

Shop for a Home

Attending open houses, scheduling viewings, scouring online listings — these are the things people picture when they think about buying a house, but in reality, it’s a small portion of the home buying process. Nonetheless, it’s an emotional undertaking. Stick to your list and your budget, and keep communication open with your spouse and agent. HGTV offers additional tips to make your house hunt go smoothly.

Make an Offer

When you find a home you love, you’re ready to make an offer! However, don’t get ahead of yourself; formulating an offer is a nuanced process, and you’ll need to work with your realtor to determine the right offer price and negotiate the terms of sale.

Buying your first home is a major step, and you want to do it right. Before you start sketching out your dream home, read up on the homebuying process. When you head into homeownership as an informed consumer, you can make a choice that’s good for you and your financial future.


Image via Unsplash

Existing Home Sales Slowed by a Lack of Listings

  • Existing home sales are currently at an annual pace of 5.22 million, which is up 1.4% over last month. This reverses the six-month trend of dips in sales every month.
  • The inventory of existing homes is still below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market and is now at a 4.3-month supply.
  • NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, had this to say: “After six consecutive months of decline, buyers are finally stepping back into the housing market. As more inventory enters the market and we head into the winter season, home price growth has begun to slow more meaningfully. This allows for much more manageable, less frenzied buying conditions.”

Cleaning the Glass at the Seattle Space Needle

Paul Best and his crew ensure the city’s iconic view is crystal clear.