t the top on our list this season are some fresh and easy decor updates that won’t break the bank. We’re talking about things like bringing in flowers or greenery, updating with zesty new colors and switching out accessories for lighter, "spring-ier" options.

I’ve gathered up some of my favorite budget-style upgrades that will help you freshen up your space and welcome spring into your home with a bang.

Supermarket Flower Arrangements

Fresh flowers are one of my very favorite spring updates, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get that chic, florist-designed look at home. Most supermarkets these days have a great selection of fresh flowers. And if you’re less comfortable creating your own arrangements, simply buy several bouquets of one color or type of flower and put them in a vase.

Groupings of Light Decor

Light, bright colors always scream spring to me. This is also a perfect example of how you can use groupings of objects to create some visual interest on a bookshelf, table or mantel. Even without flowers in them, vases work great as decor!

Other items like small bowls, little statues or bookends can be grouped together to create a similar effect. Other fun spring color options can include pinks, blues or coral.

These varied height vases from Z Gallerie would be a great jumpstart to your collection.

Make a Terrarium

If you’re a bit gun-shy about bringing some large plants into your home that need to be cared for, you might want to consider making a small terrarium.

You can use a large glass bowl, vase or fish bowl and easily add some of your favorite small plants or succulents. You can also move your terrarium around your house, depending on where the best light is coming from.


Add or Switch Out a Throw

If you’ve had a cozy, furry, fall throw draped over the back of your sofa or chair, now is a great time to switch it up with something a bit brighter and lighter for spring. This is bright, beautiful kantha throw that would work great as a spring-y option in your living room or bedroom.

For a more budget-friendly option, consider simply using some bright, colorful fabric you have leftover from another project, or opt for a brightly colored scarf from your closet.

Use Fruit or Veggies as Decor

With many more fruits and vegetable in season, an easy option is to try using some lush groupings of fruit as decor on your dining room table or in your kitchen.

You can create a mixture of different fruits for a great pop of color, or stick to a simpler grouping for a more streamlined look. And of course, you should choose your fruit and vegetables based on what your family already loves to eat!

Here is a pretty hammered gold serving bowl that would work great for oranges and clementines, lemons or even bananas.

Put an Herb Garden in Your Kitchen

Another great option for dipping your toes into the world of gardening is to create a small herb garden in your kitchen. Just like with the fruit, these are both beautiful to look at, and super functional if you’re someone who already loves to cook.

A window is a great spot for your herb garden, but clearing some room on your counter works well, too. You can choose to use beautiful vintage tins or small flower pots from your local hardware store.

Make It: How to Plant a Mini Herb Garden

Light a Fresh Spring Candle

While decor and greenery is a great way to spring-ify your home, don’t forget about the magic of scent. A favorite, easy, seasonal update I always like to use is candles. Florals and fruity smells always remind me of spring, and this gardenia and fig candle is a fave of mine for this time of year.

Discount home stores always have a great, inexpensive selection of candles, so try to find your favorite spring scent and buy a couple different ones so you have options.

Switch Out Your Hand Soap

In addition to candles, another great trick is to switch out your hand soap with a bright, fragrant spring option. You can update the soap in your bathrooms, guest bathrooms and even at your kitchen sink.

I think this lemon/mint scent from Method is the perfect spring scent.

Spring-ify Your Linens or Towels

Another easy spring upgrade is to simply switch out your towels or bed linens. Most of us have a few different sets of sheets for the beds in our homes, so why not save the lighter, brighter sheets sets for spring?

If you don’t have any existing spring options in your linen closet, consider making a smaller update such as adding a spring-y throw pillow to your bed or simply replacing the hand towels in your guest bathroom.



Source: HGTV

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No matter how many times you’ve done it, purchasing a new home can be intimidating, stressful, and of course, incredibly exciting. Before you jump online and start drooling over wraparound porches, come up with a game plan. In addition to the advantages you’ll gain from finding the right realtor and researching your local market, figuring out the best time to buy a house can really pay off, whether that’s in the form of savings or a property in your ideal neighborhood.

For a commitment this big and a price tag this hefty, it’s a smart idea to “figure out your objectives,” says Matt van Winkle, a real estate agent and owner of RE/MAX Northwest. “Do you want to pick from the freshest selection? Are you okay with buying during a competitive time? Is your number one goal to spend the least amount possible?” Determining what you want when it comes to the process of home-buying is just as important as knowing you want four bedrooms and an open floor plan. The answers to these questions can impact when you decide to pour all of your energy into the search. It’s true that the housing market can vary wildly down to the zip code, and the market in one major city, like Los Angeles, won’t necessarily mirror the market in another, like New York City. However, housing experts agree that there are national trends and patterns that can help guide your decision-making. Here’s what they’ve discovered when it comes to timing your house-hunt:

If you want the most choices, buy a house in the spring or summer.

February and March is when you’ll first start to see an uptick in new listings online, says Skylar Olsen, director of economic research for Zillow. Sellers of single-family homes tend to be parents, and they often put their homes on the market in the spring with the goal of moving out before school starts back up. Around the same time, potential buyers are house-hunting, as they prefer to be out and about when the weather is warm, says Nadia Evangelou, a research economist for the National Association of Realtors. The combination of these two factors results in a period of about five months — March through July — when a buyer will have the largest selection of new listings on the market, but the most competition. Olsen sees the largest amount of homes being sold at list price or above during March, April and May, while Evangelou identifies June as the peak month for home-selling activity. But don’t let the prospect of paying full price scare you off. “Yes, you’re more likely to stretch your budget in order to compete with other buyers during the busy season,” says Olsen. “However, you’re also more likely to find the home of your dreams because you shopped when you had the most options available to you.”

If you're looking for a deal, buy a house in the winter.

Since most prospective buyers would rather casually scroll through online listings in PJs than go open-house hopping in puffy coats, winter is considered the off-season in the real estate world. Sellers strategically wait to list their homes during a period when they will generate the most interest, which is a big reason why there’s less inventory on the market during the colder months. So while you may not be spoiled for choice, you’ll have less competition for the houses that are up for sale at this time, which were either left over from the spring/summer or newly listed for any number of unique reasons. “Owners who list their homes during the off-season may be dealing with a time-sensitive situation (like relocation for a new job) that requires them to sell their properties as soon as possible,” says Olsen. A sense of urgency plus a smaller pool of buyers can equal wiggle room in pricing. But you live in a mild climate region, you say? Check out what's on the market in November and December. The hectic holiday season is enough to deter people from both selling and buying. “Out of the buyers that I’ve worked with, the ones that negotiated the best deals purchased a home between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says van Winkle. It's certainly a hassle to buy and move during the holidays, but you may discover a hidden gem while everyone else is sipping eggnog — and scoop it up for a good price to boot.

Buying a home in August is the potential sweet spot.

In August, you'll see more price drops than you’d see in the spring or early summer and more inventory than in the winter, according to Olsen. “A lot of these homes are left over from the busiest buying months and sellers need to offer price cuts in order to unload their properties before the season is over,” she says. There are plenty of reasons why some houses sell more quickly than others, but keep in mind that less popular homes are not necessarily lower quality homes. You may find that sellers had listing price expectations that were too high earlier in the season, but they are now willing to negotiate. (Score!)

How far in advance should you look for a house to buy?

For homes located in places where the summers are brutally hot or unpleasant, shift this national timeline up a few months. “You’ll see a good amount of new listings in cities like Phoenix, Tampa or Miami during the month of January, which is usually a slow month elsewhere, and less activity in July,” says Olsen. If you live in a state where the weather is consistently nice year-round, you may not notice as large of a discrepancy between the number of sales and home prices when the seasons change, according to Evangelou. Also, some desirable areas are going to be pricey and competitive year-round. “In the Northwest, properties in areas near major job centers, like Seattle, are expensive and have appreciated at higher rates. Unlike in the early 2000's, people are just not willing to commute as far,” says van Winkle. So despite all the variables, how do you increase your chances of getting everything on your checklist? Start looking the second you know you’re interested in buying. "Keeping your eye on the market month after month will only work in your favor,” says Olsen. "Know what you can afford, know what your limits are, and move quickly when the perfect thing comes along."


Source: Good Housekeeping 

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Many people are unsure if buying a vacation home will pay off for them in the future. Some feel as if they will not spend enough time there or it will be too costly. There are actually many positive reasons to owning a vacation home, and they can be beneficial in various ways for the owner. Here are nine benefits of owning a vacation home.

Take Advantage of Tax Breaks

Everyone loves a good tax deduction. If the buyer decides to use the home as a true second home and not a rental property, then the mortgage interests and property taxes can be tax deductible. In order to qualify for the tax breaks, the second home cannot be rented out for more than two weeks out of the year.

Rental Income

There is always an option of renting out a vacation home when it is not occupied. If the vacation home is in a desirable spot, this could be an excellent source of extra income. The expenses of renting out a vacation home can sometimes be deducted as well.

It's Convenient

Having a vacation home is convenient for storing items. If the vacation home is on the lake, then it is easy to store floats, water ski products, and life jackets. This also works well if the home is located at the beach, in the mountains, or a winter location near favorite skiing spots. No need to worry about packing when all of the supplies are already accounted for.

Long-Term Profits

Real estate value fluctuates throughout the year, but vacation homes have a great chance to retain their value and appreciate. This is largely due to the popular areas and cities that the vacation homes are located.

Comfortable and Familiar

Being comfortable on vacation is a must. Having a vacation home that is familiar makes it much more comfortable on each stay. A vacation home allows owners to be themselves with their friends and families or easily make new friends with neighbors.

Place for Gatherings

Family get-togethers are great places to make memories with family, and a vacation home could be the perfect setting for those get-togethers. Start a new yearly tradition with family as everyone gathers at the vacation home for a holiday or family reunion. The vacation home can also be passed down to future generations as the gatherings become traditions.

Prepare for Retirement

A vacation home gives buyers a place to retreat when they are ready to retire. When retirement hits, the first home can be sold and profits can go towards the mortgage for a vacation home or new renovations. A second home gives the buyer a head start on retirement and creates an easier transition to retirement.

Getaways Just Got Easier

There is no more deciding where to go on vacations once a vacation home is purchased. The location of the second home will be the go-to spot for the family. The freedom of choosing the length of vacations and who vacations with them is all up to the owner. This is one of the top reasons to purchase a vacation home.

Access to Other Vacation Homes

A vacation home is usually located in a popular area with many retail, dining, and entertainment options. This gives owners the options to trade time with other vacation home owners in different regions. Owners are then able to enjoy new vacations in different locations while still feeling at home.

There is plenty to consider before purchasing a vacation home, but these are some excellent benefits to help make the decision easier. If you are considering purchasing a vacation home, please contact us today! First Savings Mortgage has helped many clients find a new home, and they are looking forward to helping you as well.


Source: First Savings Mortgage

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Getting a mortgage is, by general consensus, the most treacherous part of buying a home. In a recent survey, 42% of home buyers said they found the mortgage experience “stressful,” and 32% found it “complicated.” Even lenders agree that it's often a struggle.

“A lot can go wrong,” says Staci Titsworth, regional manager at PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh.

If you're out to buy a home, you have to be vigilant. To clue you ipre-anto the pitfalls, here are six of the most common ways people mess up getting a mortgage.

Waiting until you can make a 20% down payment

A 20% down payment is the golden number when applying for a conventional home loan, since it enables you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), an extra monthly fee of 0.3% to 1.15% of your total loan amount. But with mortgage rates where they are today—in a word, low—waiting for that magic 20% could be a huge mistake, since the more time passes, the higher mortgage rates and home prices may go!

All of which means it may be worth discussing your home-buying prospects with lenders right now. To get a ballpark figure of what you can afford and how your down payment affects your finances, punch your salary and other numbers into a home affordability calculator.

Meeting with only one mortgage lender

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about half of U.S. home buyers only meet with one mortgage lender before signing up for a home loan. But these borrowers could be missing out in a big way. Why? Because lenders' offers and interest rates vary, and even nabbing a slightly lower interest rate can save you big bucks over the long haul.

In fact, a borrower taking out a 30-year fixed rate conventional loan can get rates that vary by more than half a percent, the CFPB has found. So, getting an interest rate of 4.0% instead of 4.5% on a $200,000, 30-year fixed mortgage translates into savings of approximately $60 per month, or $3,500 over the first five years.

So to make sure you're getting the best deal possible, meet with at least three mortgage lenders. You’ll want to start your search early (ideally, at least 60 days before you start seriously looking at homes). When you meet with each lender, get what's called a good-faith estimate, which breaks down the terms of the mortgage, including the interest rate and fees, so that you can make an apples-to-apples comparison between offers.

Getting pre-qualified rather than pre-approved

Mortgage pre-qualification and mortgage pre-approval may sound alike, but they’re completely different. Pre-qualification entails a basic overview of a borrower’s ability to get a loan. You provide a mortgage lender with information—about your income, assets, debts, and credit—but you don't need to produce any paperwork to back it up. In return, you’ll get a rough estimate of what size loan you can afford, but it's by no means a guarantee that you'll actually get approved for the loan when you go to buy a home.

Mortgage pre-approval, meanwhile, is an in-depth process that involves a lender running a credit check and verifying your income and assets. Then an underwriter does a preliminary review of your financial portfolio and, if all goes well, issues a letter of pre-approval—a written commitment for financing up to a certain loan amount.

Bottom line? If you're serious about buying a house, you need to be pre-approved, since many sellers will accept offers only from pre-approved buyers, says Ray Rodriguez, New York City regional mortgage sales manager at TD Bank. Here's how to start the process of mortgage pre-approval.

Moving money around

To get pre-approved, you have to show you have enough cash in reserves to afford the down payment. (Presenting your mortgage lender with bank statements is the easiest way to do this.) Nonetheless, your loan still needs to go through underwriting while you're under contract for your loan to be approved. Because the underwriter will check to see that your finances have remained the same, the last thing you want to do is move money around while you’re in the process of buying a house. Shifting large amounts of money out or even into your accounts is a huge red flag, says Casey Fleming, mortgage adviser and author of "The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage."

So if you're in contract for a home, your money should stay put.

Applying for new lines of credit

If you apply for a new credit card or request a credit limit increase a few months before closing, watch out: Credit inquiries ding your credit score by up to five points. So, don’t let the credit inquiries add up.

"Worse than the actual hit on your credit score is any pattern of trying to borrow more money all at once,” says Glenn Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty. Translation: Applying for multiple lines of credit while you’re buying a house can make your mortgage lender think that you’re desperate for money—a signal that could change your mortgage terms or even get you denied altogether, even if you've got a closing date on the books.

Changing jobs

Mortgage lenders like to see at least two years of consistent income history when pre-approving a loan. Consequently, changing jobs while you’re under contract on a property can create a big issue in the eyes of an underwriter.

Your best bet? Try to wait until after you've closed on your house to change jobs. If you're forced to switch before closing, you should alert your loan officer immediately. Depending on the lender, you may simply need to provide a written verification of employment from your new employer that states your job status and income, says Shashank Shekhar, the founder and CEO of Arcus Lending in San Jose, CA.



Source: Realtor.com

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