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Planning A Summer Garden

May 2
1:04
PM
Category | General

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you started your summer garden planning? If you love the idea of having an herb box, veggie patch or a cutting flower garden to enjoy this summer, it is essential to start prepping now! 

A few questions to get you started: 

  1. Where do you live?  

Within the 50 states, a range of plant hardiness zones help gardeners determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The first step in planning your garden is to determine your ‘grow zone’ based on this map. It will not only help advise you on what to plant, but also when to plant it! Based on geographical location, think about when the last frost date in your area occurred, how much sun exposure your land gets every day, and how much water access you have. 

  1. How much space do you have?  

Do you have an established garden plot, or will you need to create one in your yard? Do you want to commit to removing an area of lawn to establish your garden, or do you want to pursue a more organized look with raised beds? Alternatively, if your home does not have yard space, you could plant in elevated garden containers or pots. Start small, so your time, money, and water investments are conservative. When considering how much space you have, also think about where the desired plot is located, in full sun, partial sun, or shade? Is it close enough for your water hose to reach and small enough that you (or your partner and family) can manage the maintenance and harvesting? 

  1. Do you have a plan?  

This is the fun part! Choose the herbs, veggies, fruits, flowers, and root vegetables you would like to grow. If you are unsure of your choices, speak to someone at a local garden center and ask what fares well in your grow zone. Keep in mind that all plants have different requirements for soil, fertilization, sun exposure, watering, soil pH, and more.  

Additional tips: 

  1. Crop rotation – If you have planted a garden in past years, switch up the crops you grow this summer. Planting different crops in alternating years keeps your soil nutrient rich. 

  1. Companion planting – Just like humans, plants like to have companions! My grandma always planted marigolds between her tomato plants to help deter insects or disease. There are many other ‘companions’ that work well to help keep bugs or grubs at bay when planted together. 

Starting from scratch: 

If this is your first attempt at planting a garden, try to have fun with it! You don’t need to install fancy irrigation systems or a dozen different crop varieties. Start small and enjoy the fruits of your labor, literally! 

  1. A raised bed is a great way to ease into gardening for many homeowners. It requires a basic setup/installation, needs less maintenance, and can give your yard a more organized look. You can purchase a raised-bed kit at a home improvement or garden center store. Usually consisting of lumber (do not use pressure treated), corner posts or caps, and some type of material (cardboard or thick layers of newspaper can also work) to lay down to deter grass and weeds from growing up into the bed, a raised bed should usually be 12-24 inches tall. A taller bed can help with plants that have deeper root systems. 

  1. A garden planter is also a great option for folks with little or no yard space. You can purchase a waist-height planter box in a variety of sizes and materials to sit in a sunny spot on your patio or even the side of your driveway. This option is also great for people who may have back issues and prefer not to bend over to reach all their crops. Lettuces, flowers, and many vegetables do well in this style planter.  

  1. If you are in a city and are limited to potted plants on a stoop or window boxes, there are still options for you! Maybe you won’t be able to harvest corn, but you can try your hand at herbs, lettuces, peppers, or even garlic and carrots in a deeper pot. 

Last tip: 

But very important: contain your mint! The idea of homemade mojitos or watermelon mint salads sounds enticing but plan carefully when planting your mint! This low-maintenance herb is invasive and can easily spread throughout a garden. Plant your mint in a contained area, or else you will soon have to quit your job to become a full-time mint farmer!


Are you moving this spring to a new city or state? Perhaps you are making this move solo, with a partner or maybe with your whole family. Moving can be a very exciting time, but also comes with additional stresses. After figuring out the logistics of your mortgage, packing up your old apartment, and rerouting your mail, there is one more critical step – meeting people in your new community. This can be intimidating for many, but the more friends you make, the more your new city will start to feel like home! 

Think about the hobbies you like to participate in. Starting with an activity that is already in your comfort zone will help ease the intimidation of meeting all new faces. It is easier to strike up conversations with strangers if you already know you share the same interests.  

Here are 11 of our favorite ideas to spark interest in becoming part of your new community: 

  1. Volunteer  

Do you have a passion to give back to your community? Even in a new place, there are many ways to volunteer and meet people who share this same passion! Volunteering at a park cleanup day or the local humane society for a couple hours each week is a great way to meet likeminded locals. If you are not sure of opportunities in a new town, check out www.volunteermatch.org.  

  1. Join an Amateur Sports Team 

Whether or not you have an athletic bone in your body, adult leagues are a great way to meet fun individuals. You may prefer to join a softball team or running club, or perhaps a more lighthearted kickball or corn-hole league. Whatever you choose, having a scheduled commitment is a great way to ensure you'll get away from your new house and all the unpacked boxes to spend time meeting new people! 

  1. Join a Gym or Fitness Studio  

If you are not so competitive but still love exercising, check out a new gym or fitness studio. If you do not want to make an on-the-spot commitment, see if your new city offers Class Pass to try multiple locations. Alternatively, check with each gym or studio to see if they offer a free or reduced-price trial period.  

  1. Go for a Run 

Sign up for a 5k or themed road race in your new hometown. Jogging on a course is a great way to discover new parts of your city, especially if the course takes you by stores and restaurants you might want to visit later. If you run on your own, be sure to do a little research beforehand to check for any neighborhoods where you might want to exercise caution. Always consider your personal safety when running in a new place. 

  1. Join a Professional Network 

If you made this move because of your career, take advantage of the momentum and join a local professional networking club! Explore BNI groups, the local Chamber of Commerce, or Young Professionals organizations. 

  1. Meetup with a Social Club  

Are you leaving behind a group of pals who regularly met over a glass of wine? See if there are any social clubs that you can join, perhaps a book club, knitting club, or hiking club. Sites such a Meetup.com were created specifically for the purpose of helping you find activities based on your area and interests. The opportunities are there if you look! 

  1. Find your Favorite Sports Team Fan Hangout 

For many people, moving to a new state means leaving behind convenient comrades who share the love of the favorite local sports team. If you look, you may find a bar known to support your favorite team. Come game day, you will know where to go to cheer on your team! 

  1. Join Community Facebook Groups 

Are you a social media lover? If your new town has a Facebook page or private group, request to join. This is a great resource to learn about local business offerings, upcoming events, and more. 

  1. Check Out Fun Events Such as Bar Trivia Nights  

After your big move, treat yourself with a fun night out. Check out local bars to see if they offer free events like Trivia Night. These fun gatherings are a great way to blow off steam and get to know some friendly new faces. 

  1. Go to a Food, Music or Art Festival 

Moving in the spring is great because you will be able to take advantage of the fun summertime offerings in your new city. Food Truck Festivals, outdoor movies, Farmer’s Markets, concerts and art shows are great events to attend solo or with your family.  

  1. Take a Class 

Let your move inspire you to sign up for a class you’ve been thinking about for years. Whether it is learning a new language, dance lessons or pottery classes, acquiring a new skill is an awesome way to explore your creative side and meet people who share your interests!

 

If you are now excited to move to a new place this spring, call one of our Loan Officers today to get pre-qualified!


Many people choose to invest in real estate as a reliable source of passive income. Most often, when someone purchases an investment property, they have one of two intentions: either to rent it out or to resell it (often called flipping a house). Both are great options and have potential for earning. In fact, many first-time buyers choose an investment property before they buy their first home! But investment properties aren't without challenges or risks. Here are five things to consider before investing in real estate:

 

  1. Determine the Type of Investment 

Before searching for potential investment properties, it is wise to think about what type of real estate investment to make. An investor should decide if a "flip and resell" investment or rentable property is their goal. Flipping a home involves making needed repairs and cosmetic updates to increase the home’s resale value. This option is attractive to many people because the payout of this investment occurs as soon as the property is sold. With renting, however, an investor has the benefit of building equity, using rent to pay off the home loan, and enjoying this "passive income" for as long as they own the property. Know that both options require time and money in addition to payments on the property. 

  1. Do Research 

A wise real estate investor should find out information about comparable investment properties in the area. If the plan is to resell the home, how is the market in the area? If the property requires upgrades or repairs, will the cost of repairs still allow for a profit considering the price of comparable homes? If the plan is to rent it, is the property located in an area where rental properties are in demand? 

  1. Calculate Expenses and Estimate Profits 

Well before purchasing an investment property, along with doing research, an investor will want to take an honest look at their potential expenses and profits. Being analytical about this part will help prevent making decisions based solely on emotions or “hunches.” Although the profits are certainly exciting, the risk is also high, so it’s best not to romanticize investment property ownership. 

  1. Secure a Down Payment  

Unlike primary residences where 0-3% down is possible (depending on the loan program), investment properties typically require 15-20% down. If an investor is thinking about buying an a large or multi-unit property, this can be quite a big investment from the start. Remember that 20% down does not account for the money needed to make upgrades or repairs. That’s why many investors take on partners. Which brings us to our next point... 

  1. Choose Partners Carefully 

Investing in an income-generating property with a partner can go very well and be profitable, but it can also go badly if the partnership sours. When partnering with friends or family, be careful not to blur the lines between relationship and real estate partnership. Make sure that all aspects are spelled out in a formal contract and consult legal advice before making decisions that could negatively impact the partnership. 

 

If you’re considering buying a home as an investment property, please contact us for guidance. Our experienced loan officers can help guide you on the best investment loan products that fit your goals.


The Modern Farmhouse is Here to Stay

Apr 9
10:34
AM
Category | General

If you turn on HGTV or open a Good Housekeeping magazine, you are bound to hear or read about “modern farmhouses.” Is this style of home and interior design just a fad, or is it here to stay?  

Originally, farmhouses were characterized as functional and sturdy, typically situated on agricultural land. Farmhouses are beautiful in their straightforward design with little ornamentation and a focus on natural materials, solid construction, and classic colors. Other common elements of this classic style are wraparound porches, larger kitchens, a semi-open floor plan, and a centralized Great Room for family gatherings.  

In 2019 however, many homeowners desire these style elements, no matter where they live. From suburban single-family homes to city lofts, the “modern farmhouse” aesthetic has gained popularity and doesn’t seem to be budging. Why has this happened?  

According to Google Trends, the search term “modern farmhouse” started gaining popularity around 2015. Likely due to the growing viewership of shows like HGTV’s Fixer Upper and trends on Pinterest. Even large home furnishing retailers have jumped on board, creating furniture, appliance, paint colors, and more, specifically to fit a “modern farmhouse.” 

 

We think this trend is here to stay. Not only does this classic look evoke a home’s coziness, but it also appeals to a feeling of nostalgia for multiple generations. As a blend of both country and industrial design elements, many families feel that this style is neither masculine nor feminine, and the classic design will stand the test of time.  

While not every home or budget can accommodate a wraparound porch, some cornerstone elements of this design style can be incorporated at a more reasonable price point. Consider adapting to an open floor plans characterized by wide entryways and high ceilings or large windows or change aspects of an eat-in kitchen to include an apron sink or butcher block countertops and wide planked natural wood floors. Out with the trendy (and pricey) mirrored glass tiled backsplashes, and in with the timeless (and budget friendly) ceramic subway tiles. 

Whether you live in a housing development or on a city block, you can still incorporate and enjoy design elements of a modern farmhouse in your space. Through your paint color palette, light fixtures, flooring or furniture, you can transform your sweet home into a farmhouse oasis! If you want to get started on any of these upgrades today and are interested in refinancing to do so, please give us a call!


Spring Driveway Refresh

Apr 4
4:51
PM
Category | Home Maintenance

After a long winter, rain, snow, or ice could do a lot of damage to a home’s driveway. If your driveway is looking worse for wear and is need of a spring refresh, read on to learn more about your options.  

Types of Driveways:

If your driveway is in a state of disrepair that requires a complete replacement, there are many options to consider. The climate where you live will play a large part in your choice of driveway material. Additionally, the aesthetics of your home (think rustic or modern) may play a role in what style of driveway you prefer to accompany your home. 

Concrete: Concrete driveways are quite popular, as they are very durable and require little maintenance. Concrete driveways are preferred for warm or moderate climates as they can break down over time when repeatedly freezing and thawing. While the classic light grey concrete comes to mind, there are tinted options available as well as concrete pavers (interlocking shapes) or stamped concrete to imitate cobblestone or brick.  

Asphalt: Asphalt driveways are popular for many homeowners, as its vibrant black color offers a clean look for a variety of home and yard styles. Asphalt is more cost effective than other driveway styles but will also require some regular maintenance and patching.  

Brick Pavers: Brick driveways can add an elegant touch to the look of a classic home, especially if you have existing brick paths or patios. Brick driveways will be more costly and will also require a highly experienced professional to install it properly. Especially in regions with heavy rain or snow, proper water drainage is essential. 

Gravel / Crushed Stone: Gravel driveways are quite popular for homes in more rural areas, as they more seamlessly blend into the natural surroundings. They can be installed quite quickly, and often by the homeowner them self (after the gravel/stone is delivered on site). You can buy gravel or crushed stone without breaking the bank, but remember that as it is loosely applied, the small stones can migrate into the yard or street and will require occasional refills. Snow removal can be tricky on these driveways as well. 

Cobblestone: Without a doubt, cobblestone driveways are very pleasing to the eye, and can boost a home’s curb appeal tremendously. Cobblestone will typically cost more than brick, and require the same professional installation. However, cobblestone will require little upkeep, and will maintain its classic charm for decades! 

 

Solutions to Consider:

Repair: Depending on the extent of damage, you may have some DIY option for repairing cracks or fixing splits in the driveway you currently have. Check Home Depot, Lowe’s or your favorite local hardware store for various products made for solving these problems and repairing your driveway. 

Resurface: If you’re starting to see alligator cracks (think cracks that overlap and look like the back of an alligator) or longer cracks through the driveway in any direction, resurfacing the top may help to seal over the issues until the subbase finally breaks down. Look into referrals from the area, yellow pages or a site like Angie’s List to see which companies in your area are the most reliable for this solution. 

Replace: If your driveway is missing pieces or is approaching old age and you just can’t keep up with fixing multiple smaller issues, it may be time to replace the driveway completely. The old driveway and foundation or completely removed and rebuilt. Be sure to research your project fully and spend some time choosing the company who will do it for you, including getting two or three estimates. As always, referrals are great, or look into Angie’s List or the yellow pages for reputable companies in your area. 

 

When listing or buying a home, curb appeal can make all the difference, especially since it’s something that anyone visiting the property will see. Talk to your loan officer today to get pre-approved for the home of your dreams with great curb appeal! 


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