Buying a home for the first time can seem daunting. One way to alleviate the process is to organize your finances before embarking on the house hunt. Unsure how to get yours in order? Remember A + B + C + D + E:

Ask + Budget + Check + Differentiate + Estimate

Before you start searching for a home, there are 2 professionals you should seek out and ask for assistance. First, contact an experienced Loan Originator and “Ask” them to help you get pre-approved. Next, contact a REALTOR for guidance in searching for a new home based on your pre-approval.. He or she will have expertise related not only to amplify your affordability, but also to negotiating a deal in your favor.

Next, set a budget that takes into account your down payment, your anticipated monthly mortgage payment (with interest), and your closing costs. These figures are all important considerations in the home-buying process. Your Loan Originator can help you set your budget as well and evaluate your current debt.

Prior to house-hunting, check your credit report and score. Your credit is a determining factor in a lender’s approval or denial of your mortgage loan application, as well as your mortgage interest rate. Take steps to correct any errors on your report, or improve your score, if necessary.

Review various loan programs with your loan originator to differentiate between loan ...

Average fixed mortgage rates moved slightly lower for the week. helping to spur ongoing refinance activity, according to Freddie Mac's recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®).

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.44 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending September 8, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.46 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.90 percent.  

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.76 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.77 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.10 percent.  

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.81 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.83 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.91 percent.

"The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 2 basis points to 3.44 percent this week,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac. “As mortgage rates continue to range between 3.41 and 3.48 percent, many are taking advantage of the historically low rates by refinancing. Since the Brexit vote, the refinance share of mortgage activity has remained above 60 percent."

With the start of September, summer is nearing its end and Fall is fast approaching. With the beginning of the Autumn Season comes the need for home maintenance. As a new homeowner, doing this maintenance now can save you big headaches later on in the year. According to, the most important home tasks for late summer are:


Painting the Exterior
Lower humidity and cooler temperatures make late summer and early fall ideal times to paint the exterior of the home.

Cleaning Gutters and Downspouts
Clear all drainage areas of leaves and debris, and consider installing gutter guards.

Inspecting the Roof
Hire a licensed professional to examine the roof for wear and tear. (If the shingles are buckling, cracking or curling, it is time to replace them.) Be sure the professional assesses the flashing around chimneys, pipes, and/or skylights.

Turning Off Hose Valves
Turn off the valves to exterior hose bibs to prevent water pipes from bursting when the weather dips below freezing. Wrap pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape.

Replacing Filters
Replace the filter in the furnace or heating system. Consider consulting with a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service the unit before the season turns.

Checking Insulation
Check the insulation in the attic to ...

Just because summer is nearly over, doesn’t mean your home improvement projects need to come to a halt along with those lazy pool days and barbecues.

One effective method to choosing a home improvement project is to conduct a perimeter walk of their homes and take note of any exterior problems, including landscaping fixes, driveway repairs, new paint, etc. Some projects you can DIY and other larger renovations and repairs will require that you hire a professional.

Landscaping fixes generally can be done by the homeowner; trim back your trees, fix any broken fences and clean up those flower beds for fall. If it’s a larger project, be sure to do your research before calling in a professional. A certified contractor can make driveway repairs and a quality housepainter can freshen up your home’s outdoor appearance.

Another end of summer project to tackle is checking and testing window seals, as the days of ceiling-fan and air-conditioning use eventually will lead to turning up the heat.

Out back, pool decks, boat docks and pathways should be inspected for damage, such as mildew, rotting wood and cracks. All are relatively easy to fix and will improve the look of the back-yard vista, making it more appealing for potential buyers if you decide to sell your home in the future.

Preparation is vital for property owners that stand to be impacted by an impending storm—so much so that it can be life-saving even after storm conditions have subsided.  Post-storm cleanup, especially, can be made less challenging with precautionary measures.
Preparing for bad weather is always wise, especially who you are a homeowner because you will want to remedy any damage made to your property quickly. While everyone thinks about buying milk, bread, and toilet paper before a storm, many people forget about making sure their outdoor power equipment is in order for after the storm and that generators are ready for use.

Property owners can plan ahead for a safe cleanup by using some of these tips.

Taking Stock – Take a look at the property and consider what-if scenarios:
• Will the tree in my yard fall?
• Will the shed withstand high winds?
• Can I reinforce the windows?

Inspect the equipment you do have and purchase other items, such as a chain saw, reflective clothing or safety goggles, if needed.

Fueling Up – It is common for fuel stations to close in the days following a severe storm. Stock up on the fuel needed to power any outdoor equipment you may be using, including a generator. Bear in mind that for outdoor power equipment, it is illegal to use fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol.

Reviewing – Before the storm hits (and the power potentially goes out), take time to review operator’s manuals of any outdoor power ...

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