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Preparing Your Finances for Homeownership


by Courtney Soinski



Are you considering buying a new home this spring? With tax season in full swing, now is the perfect time to get organized. Buying a home is one of the largest investments you will make, so it’s important to be well prepared before taking the leap.

Follow these tips to prepare your finances for homeownership.

1. Get your credit in order.

Your credit is a large factor in determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage, so it’s important that you determine your credit score at least three months before buying. The higher the score, the easier it will be to qualify for a mortgage.

To access your scores, either purchase them as you get your free reports from Annual Credit Report Request Service, or pay for them when you buy your reports from the credit bureaus:

Equifax  –  www.equifax.com / 800-685-1111

Experian  –  www.experian.com / 888-397-3742

TransUnion  –  www.transunion.com / 800-916-8800

2. Prepare for expenses before you buy.

Understand and plan for what you will need to spend before the actual purchase. According to a recent article, you’ll need enough cash for a down payment, closing costs, and a few months’ worth of mortgage payments. Figure out what you will need for extras like moving costs, furniture, and repairs.

3. Know how much you can afford.

Before you jump into a contract, you need to make sure it’s something you can actually afford. List and total your monthly expenses, then subtract that from your monthly net income. Here’s a good rule to keep in mind: your total housing costs should be no more than 30% of your net pay. Also, remember that a larger down payment of about 20% or more can save you hundreds and even give you more buying power.

4. Have trade lines.

Did you know what most lenders prefer if you have three of more trade lines that have been open for at least a year? These can range from credit cards and students loans to a car loan. You should also avoid closing them because it can hurt your credit score.

5. Do your research.

Above all, it’s crucial that you do your research before buying your new home. In addition to the price of the home, you must always consider other factors such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, maintenance, and repairs.

6. Consult a real estate professional.

The right real estate professional can walk you through all the steps for preparing to buy a home.  Whether it’s your first home, your forever home, or a vacation retreat, the right real estate pro can not only help you get ready, but negotiate the best deal and help you navigate through financing, contingencies and closing.  The best investment in buying a new home is in choosing the right partner to help you through.

Top agents advertise in The Real Estate Book.  Check here to find the best in your area.

Source: BalancePro


Small Kitchen Designs to Inspire You

By Courtney Soinski

When it comes to tiny kitchens, there is a common misconception that they’re near impossible to change. If you have a small kitchen, you may feel like you’re stuck in its current design and layout…but guess what? There is light at the end of the oven!

I recently read an article on Houzz that lists different creative homeowners and their solution for a small kitchen. Here are some of my favorite unique kitchen designs to inspire your next project.

Galley Kitchen in Salt Lake City

When the current homeowners moved into this apartment in Downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, their galley kitchen was painted dark brown, which make it feel cramped. After painting the walls a lighter color, their kitchen is now very functional and booming with light and open space.

Keeping it modern in Manhattan

This compact kitchen is opened up with shiny white cabinets and a mirrored backsplash. Located in New York City’s East Village in Manhattan, the grayish blue color wall color brings the whole kitchen’s design together for a sleek and modern look.


Pretty Portland Remodel

The initial kitchen in this Portland, Oregon bungalow was awkward and difficult to live in. It was closed off from the rest of the living area, so the homeowners were pretty certain that a remodel was in order. They knocked down the wall between the kitchen and the living room. Once that was done, they reorganized the space as well as installed newer and slimmer appliances that are now embedded in the wall.


Source: Houzz


How to Maximize Space in Every Room

pinterest.comCurrent trending of lifestyles, whether it may be empty-nesters, first time home buyers or the economy, have left people with smaller spaces. There are several ways that you can maximize storage just by thinking ahead and taking steps to stay organized.

Designate a spot

hgtv.comA crucial rule to always follow when trying to conserve space is to give every item its own location. Yes, this may seem like an effortless task; however, how many of your measuring cups or hair products are the exact way you had them when they were first organized? Take the extra time to conserve organization by storing them correctly, and you will be surprised how much time you will actually save when it comes to locating them.

Most frequent in the front

Arrange items by how often you use them by simply placing the items that are used most in the front. This will save time because you will know exactly where to find them without the hassle of digging to the back of the cabinet.

shelvesSliding shelves are super

To get the most out of your cabinets, use sliding shelves. Not only does this eliminate having to kneel and stretch to the back of the cabinet to reach that cake pan that fell behind everything else, but it gives you access to use every inch of space because with a simple pull, everything is brought to you.

Remain or remove

Everyone has those items that have not been touched in years and are the best dust collectors. It is time to decide what remains and what needs to be removed. This is often associated with closet clean outs, but every room can use an annual clean out. Clutter and lack of organization result from an excess of objects. This simple clean out will make a huge difference in maximizing space.

More Organizing Tips

Before leaving a room, take 30-60 seconds to pick up items that are out of place. This little bit of time will make a huge difference.

  • Arrange objects creatively. Maximize space even if it means hanging hooks on cabinet drawers to hang pot holders or utensils.
  • Labels can be your best friend. Be innovative and use them outside of the office. They are perfect for locating items in the pantry, closet, laundry room and more.
  • Put a weekly pantry and refrigerator cleanout on your to-do list. This gives you time to throw out the old items and empty containers to make clutter-free room for new groceries.
  • Be socially responsible and recycle. Keep a few bins around to recycle your cans, plastic and paper. This is such an easy way to teach children responsibility while keeping the earth clean.
Tools to Help

The advances in technology have allowed products to be made that make life a little easier on you. Cooking and many other activities, a lot of times, leave you with your hands messy or full. Features like touch to lift, touch to light, touch to open and touch to close provide the solution to this mainstream problem in any room.


The right amount of lighting complements cabinets to show the true beauty of the wood while also providing the function to make things easier to see. This alone can save space because it gives you access to locate items in all areas of the cabinetry. When paired with organizational solutions, you are guaranteed to get the most out of your space.


A wonderful way to be a creative organizer is by putting accessories to use. These can range from those that are built into cabinets or even a few strategically placed bins to keep everything together. This is especially great for drawers, making them easier to clean out.

Source: Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.