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Independence Day kicks off the season of summer celebrations. From BBQ recipes, to decor ideas, to heartfelt ways to celebrate the meaning of the day, we have highlighted a few articles to help you make the most of the 4th!

Food and Drink:

 

15 Best 4th of July Appetizers for a Classic American BBQ

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/easy/g4310/fourth-of-july-appetizers/

 

Fun and Festive 4th of July Recipes

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/g2069/4th-of-july-recipes/

 

All-American 4th of July BBQ Recipes

https://www.chowhound.com/pictures/all-american-4th-of-july-bbq-recipes

 

26 Red, White, and Blue Cocktails to Celebrate the 4th of July

https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g2465/boozy-4th-of-july-drinks/

 

22 Kid-Friendly Drinks for Your 4th of July Party

https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g3390/4th-of-july-drinks/

 

Decor:

 

22 Easy 4th of July Crafts That Celebrate America

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/craft-ideas/g2477/american-crafts/

 

30 + Patriotic 4th of July Decorating Ideas

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/g2229/fourth-of-july-decorations/

 

Star-Spangled 4th of July Party Decorations

https://www.housebeautiful.com/entertaining/holidays-celebrations/g1828/fourth-of-july-decorations/

 

Activities:

 

9 Fourth of July Activities That Will Make You Feel Extra Patriotic

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/g21749867/4th-of-july-activities/

 

15 Ways to Celebrate 4th of July for Under $10

http://time.com/money/4379815/celebrate-fourth-of-july-under-budget/

 

Have a Blast: Family-Friendly 4th of July Activities

https://www.marthastewart.com/1006314/have-blast-family-friendly-fourth-july-activities?slide=3414874

 

No matter how you choose to celebrate, we wish you a happy and safe 4th of July!


The spring housing market tends to be the busiest and most popular time to buy a home, however the summer months can provide a unique opportunity for those considering a purchase. We’ve highlighted a few of the main reasons why you should consider this summer the ideal time to buy.

Kids Schedule: If you have kids, they are now off from school – this makes it an ideal time to transition into a new home, especially if it involves moving towns or districts. By not disrupting their school routine, your kids may have an easier time adjusting to their new surroundings in plenty of time to start the school year.

Less Buyer Competition: Many people are busy with vacations and parties throughout the summer and therefore less focused on buying a home. By starting your search during these months, you’ll be up against less competition from other buyers and are more likely to snag the home you really want; maybe for less money than you would during more competitive seasons.

Spring Surge Brings Lower Prices: Any homeowner who listed in the spring market and has not sold their house yet will most likely be looking to reduce the price. If you can find a home that does not need a lot of repairs, it could be a great opportunity to buy for less than you would during another season.

 

Checking Out the Neighborhood: With school out and family schedules being less hectic, you will likely see more activity in the neighborhoods you are looking at. The summer months provide a good opportunity to see a community in action and thriving with different activities. Having a sense of the area will help solidify your purchase decision.

While there are benefits to buying in all seasons, the summer months are an ideal time to start the search for your dream home! 


We all know one of the major benefits of owning a home is the freedom to have pets and welcome them as part of your family in a space all your own. Whether moving into your first home, or relocating to a new one, it’s important to make sure your pets are comfortable and adjust to their new surroundings. A move might induce confusion or fear for our furry friends, so here are some things to consider:

Make the Move Comfortable

Be it a dog, cat, horse, or even snake, the ride to the new house should be comfortable, and if at all possible, should be done with you by their side. Make sure to include soothing objects like favorite toys, blankets, beds, or other pet companions. Even if you have to transport pets via plane or tailer, giving them comfort items will help them feel familiar and less anxious.

Set Up a Special Space
Before you even welcome your pet into the new home, try to create a special area for them that will remind them of their old surroundings. If your dog always slept in the master bedroom, for example, then get his bed all set in the same space.

Keep Consistent Rules

As tempting as it may be to let your pet get away with special treatment during a move, try to maintain the same rules of your previous home to instill a sense of control and calm.


Whether you are new to the mortgage process or a veteran of the industry, the terms used in the initial steps of getting a loan can at times be confusing and misleading. Understanding the difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval helps determine how much house you can afford, and if you are qualified to get a loan. Below, we break down the difference between two very similar and equally important terms:

Pre-Qualification:

The pre-qualification is a less involved process than the pre-approval and can be done over the phone or online. As the borrower, you provide the lender your overall financial picture including debt, income, and assets. It does not involve an analysis of your credit report or a close look at your ability to purchase a home. The pre-qualification letter allows you to explore your mortgage options with a lender and ask any initial questions.

Pre-Approval:

A pre-approval letter comes from the mortgage company you are working with and is essentially a commitment that you have a loan approved for a certain amount of money. This letter is required before a full mortgage loan approval and includes the following:

-    Credit check

-    Income/employment verification

-    Financial obligations such as credit card balances

-    Copies of W-2s and bank statements

Once you are pre-approved, you can move forward with looking for a home knowing you have a conditional commitment. This gives you leg up on an offer from somebody who has not been pre-approved.

 


If you recently bought a new home, there are several things you can do immediately to set yourself up for low energy costs, even before you unpack your boxes. Getting a head start on this small list can save you a lot of money in years to come.

1.) Immediately replace the air filters.

This task takes only seconds and is often times forgotten by new homeowners. By replacing the air filter, your HVAC or air-handling system will not overwork at minimal efficiency. Stock up on a few extra filters so you are always prepared. The average home with no pets should have a new filter every 6-12 months, and a average home with a pet, every 60 days or so.

2.) Lower the hot water temperature.

120 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for your hot water heater as most people never use water any hotter than that, and it can be dangerous to human skin. Any energy used to keep water above 120 degrees is not being used efficiently and lowering the temperature will save you money on your energy bill.

3.) Clear all vents.

From dirt and dust, to any furniture or structural obstructions, make sure all of your vents are clean and clear. If a vent is blocked, the heating and cooling units work overtime. Cleaning vents of dust and debris enhance clean air flow and makes for a healthier home.

4.) Check for leaks.

Make sure all toilets and plumbing is running efficiently and there are no leaks. Replace and repair any running toilets or dripping faucets to ensure you aren’t wasting water and throwing away money.

5.) Install new lighting.

By now, we all know that LED bulbs save us a lot when it comes to money and energy. While they are a bit more expensive than other bulbs, they last much longer and are a worthwhile investment. Consider replacing all of the old lighting in your new home with an LED option and you’ll be saving immediately.


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