Here in Onalaska, we’re expecting temperatures in the balmy 30’s next week.
This Winter’s recent snow storms, polar vortexes, and negative temperatures has us ready for spring. Looking for ways to feel productive and shake off the cabin fever? Get outside and perform your Spring Home Maintenance Checklist.
Prevent mosquitoes - As the ice melts, your property may be left with reservoirs of standing water. These reservoirs serve as ideal breeding grounds for disease carrying insects. Perform a 360 degree walk around of your land, identify any standing water, and property discard it.
Visually inspect your roof - Heavy snow build up and wind can cause a ruckus for our roofs. When the ice melts, perform a 360 degree walk around and look for any missing shingles or other obvious exposures on the roof. If there’s still snow piled high on your roof, it’s time to use the snow rake!
Clean out the gutters - regular gutter maintenance prevents clogging, prevents rot, and prevents critters from getting into your attic space.
Check for damaged cement - Take a peak at any foundation, driveways, or pathways on your property and look for any obvious cracks or damage.
Give your home’s exterior a face lift - if the outside of your home is looking a little dull after winter.
Clean out the chimney - Perform an exterior visual inspection of your chimney. Look for obvious cracks or damage. Call in a chimney sweep to remove the build up in efforts to reduce any fire hazards.
All right home owners, we hope this Spring Home Maintenance Checklist has helped! Your home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and regular seasonal maintenance can assist you in protecting that investment. Our homes take quite the beating during winter months here in the Midwest, so it’s time for a little TLC!
What ways do you reduce waste around your home or office?
Homes For Heroes is hosting their Experience Contest! Winner will receive an additional $500. All you have to do is fill in the form, record a 30 second video about your homes for heroes experience, upload it, and submit!
If you used the Homes For Heroes to finance your home, click here to enter!
If you’re interested in hearing more details about the homes for heroes program, click here!
Whether you’ve settled down and purchased your home or are currently renting in the beautiful driftless region, chances are we spend far more time at work than at play.
It’s chilly outside; here’s a list of ways you can shake off the cabin fever and connect with your community!
Treat yourself or your valentine to a steak dinner at Fayze’s. Their Thursday special includes a 6 oz sirloin, two sides, and homemade bread for $9.99!
Bundle up and head over to Norskedalen Nature and heritage center for a snowshoe hike! Explore the beautiful trails by candlelight. Bring your own snow shoes, or rent them when you arrive.
Learn to decorate cake pops that look like unicorns! Unleash your creativity and enjoy some sweets. Great activity for kids or adults.
Participate in a Mississippi River tradition: Friday Fish Fry! We suggest Blue Moon Restaurant in Onalaska. You can never go wrong by kicking your weekend off with a local fish fry.
Take a little trip up north for a Golden Eagle Viewing Field Trip. Perhaps you’ll spot a bald and golden eagle! This is a great way for older children and/or adults to spend the day learning about the beautiful natural habitats in the driftless region.
Settle down with a Sunday morning brunch at Creekside!
Though the whether outside is still frightful, don’t be shy! Get out there and experience the benefits of living in Coulee region.
What do you think holds potential home buyers back from taking the plunge and buying their first home? What do you think the number one apprehension is for potential first time home buyers? Unfortunately, It’s been drilled into our brains that in order to consider purchasing a home, you’ll need 20% down. Imagine Home Lending is here to let you know that you have the option to finance a home without needing 20% down.
Imagine the following scenario:
You’re daydreaming, scrolling through Zillow, taking an inside look at what kind of houses are available in your area. You find a home in a nice area, close enough to work, walking distance from your go-to happy hour spot, and it’s priced at $150,000.
In today’s economic climate, it’s common that most of us carry some combination of student loan debt, medical expenses, high rent costs etc.
Is it realistic to expect that the average person has $30,000 saved up for a down payment on this home? We don’t think it’s common for members of our community to be sitting on that kind of expendable cash. (I know I’m not!)
So, how do you turn your Zillow daydreams into move-in ready reality?
Find a lender who can offer you options that work for your circumstances. Imagine Home Lending offers several mortgage programs that offer different down payment options for qualified buyers. For example, USDA and VA loans are great 0% down payment options. FHA and Conventional mortgage loans offer down payment options as low as 3%.
I don’t know about you, but $4,500 (3%) down payment seems a lot more doable than $30,000 (20%). Some mortgage programs allow down payment gifts, and some mortgage programs offer down payment assistance to qualified buyers. What I’m getting at is, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Imagine Home Lending is a local mortgage lender. We make a strong effort to work closely with our community to make your loan process simple, realistic, and as stress-free as possible.
Curious to hear more about our mortgage program options?
Give us a call or visit us online today!
Make Your Home Insurance Company Happier
Make Your Home Disaster Resistant
Homeowners insurance is something a buyer has to secure before the sale of the home can be completed. Mortgage lenders will require what is referred to as a binder. The binder spells out the address of the home being insured, the authorized users on the policy, and every detail of what the insurance policy covers.
Lenders may require you to include specific coverage on your homeowners policy. For example, if a home is located in a floodplain your lender will require flood insurance.
The most common homeowners insurance policies will cover fire, windstorm, hail, smoke, explosion, vehicle collision, and theft. The common homeowners policies don’t extend coverage to flood, earthquakes, power failure, neglect, or intentional damage.
Though states don’t require homeowners insurance, most mortgage lenders do. Your lender wants to protect their investment. Even if you’re in an area where you aren’t likely to experience a tornado, it’s still unwise to take chances on a property that you’ve invested so much into.
Just like health insurance, we all hope we don’t need to use it. However, we can rest easy knowing that if ever an accident were to occur it won’t completely wreck out financial circumstances or financial future. Just like health insurance, homeowners insurance can seem like a costly monthly expense.
Fret not, future homeowner. Imagine Home Lending has a few tricks and tips on how to keep your home insurance company happy (read: earn discounts on your home insurance policy).
Loyalty Perks: A lot of insurance companies offer discounts to customers that choose to use multiple services. Using the same company for home, auto, and life insurance could save you some big bucks!
Benefits of Being A First Time Homeowner: Some companies choose to extend a congratulatory discount to those who are purchasing their first home.
Choose your deductible wisely: If you live in an area where hurricanes, heavy wind, or hailstorm are a matter of “when” more than a matter of “if”, than it may be wise to choose a lower deductible with a higher monthly premium.
However, if you live in an area with low risk of natural disaster or crime, one could choose to pay a higher deductible with a lower monthly payment.
If the homeowner never ends up actually having to pay the deductible (let’s cross our fingers that they don’t!), then a lower monthly payment will save the homeowner money.
Safety First: Most insurance companies offer discounts if the homeowner purchases a home security system. Typically, the insurance company will affiliate with one specific home security company, so you may only be able to receive a discount if you choose to do business with their affiliate security company.
As well, updating any smoke detectors, CO2 detectors, and fire extinguishers may earn the homeowner some brownie points in the form of discounts!
Automatic and Virtual: Auto-pay and Paperless Billing are excellent, easy, effort-free ways to receive discounts. Ask about programs or rewards like these when you’re cost-comparing.
Tobacco Free Home: Cigarette smoking increases the risk for property damage due to fire. Any sort of fire prevention measures will usually qualify you for policy discounts. If you have a smoke-free home, ask about these rewards.
The last tip we have to offer is to make sure you listen as they explain the extent of coverage that each company is quoting you. After a few attempts at getting quotes, or being coll-called, it’s easy to get complacent. However, the fine print really does matter under these circumstances. If you have any questions about insuring your home, your realtor or lender are great resources to turn towards!
In the first installment of our blog series, Mortgage Tip Monday, we want to let you in on a secret.
Starting or sprucing up your garden can skyrocket the value of your home. According to an article in the Washington Post, improving landscaping around your home has a 150% return on investment.
We’ve all heard that curb appeal can either make someone fall in love with a home or drive right past that for sale sign. When you invest your time and dollars well on lawn care, it’s been consistently proven to produce an astounding difference for your home value.
If you are like me and don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry. We have budget friendly ways for you to take advantage of this value amplifying practice.
Weed control. Get your hands dirty and pull some weeds! You don’t have to be an expert landscaper to give your yard a more polished look.
The grass should look greener on your side of the fence. A healthy, well trimmed lawn can do a lot for the overall aesthetics of your home’s exterior. Don’t have time or patience for lawn maintenance? Hire a local landscaping company or a neighborhood kid looking to earn some pocket cash.
Plant. Invite a friend over who has experience with their own gardening if you don’t have a knack for it. Find plants that are easily maintained and place their labels in the soil to better keep track of how frequently they need care.
Begin a community vegetable garden! Not only does this make your entire neighborhood feel more inviting, it’s an interesting conversation piece. It’s an avenue for the next homeowner to meet their new neighbors.
Plant a tree. Who doesn’t love a beautiful shady tree? Planting it with your family will attach your legacy to the home. As an added bonus. they’re a lot less high maintenance than flower gardens. Just plant and watch it grow.
Fostering a welcoming appearance to your home’s exterior is a fun, relatively inexpensive, and wildly effective way to improve your home’s value. Even if you aren’t planning to sell anytime soon, a well established garden is a great way to make your house feel more like your home. It just may be the easiest DIY project you’ve ever taken on.
So you’ve decided you want to buy a new home in the near future, but you aren’t sure you’ll be able to get approved. Lenders use things like employment history, annual income, and credit scores to determine whether you’re eligible for a loan or not.
We’ve compiled a list of things you can do to monitor, manage, and improve your credit scores. Keep in mind, increasing your credit score is much like weight loss: there is no magic pill. It requires consistency and patience.
Where do we start?
Do you know what your credit score is? There are free online services, such as Credit Karma, that allow you to monitor your credit. Contrary to popular belief, keeping an eye on your credit score won’t result in any damage to your credit. In fact, it can keep you well informed about your overall financial health and security.
Well, it’s looking a little lower than I thought it would….
Don’t panic. Just like certain actions reduce credit score, certain actions can improve your credit score.
What’s the game plan?
Set up auto pays. Make paying bills on time as hassle free as possible. Schedule reminders on your calendar when bills are due to withdraw from your account, so you have a good idea of where your bank balance is.
Budget. In order for auto pay to function well, one first needs to make sure there’s always enough money in the bank to cover the auto drafts. Some people schedule all bills to come out on the same day, some people opt to spread it out. Consider what will work best for you, and make a plan.
If you can show consistent payment history, you may rack up some points on your credit score.
Let’s discuss debt to income ratio (DTI):
Another thing lenders have to consider when qualifying you for a loan is your debt to income ratio. DTI compares expense and earnings; how much of your income goes to paying off debts? A lower debt to income ratio shows lenders that you’ll have funds available to pay your mortgage on time every month.
To calculate your DTI:
Calculate monthly debts - car loans, credit cards, student loans, child support, etc.
Gross monthly income - income per month before tax deductions
Take your monthly debts and divide them by gross monthly income = DTI%
(Don’t forget to move the decimal over)
To work towards lowering DTI% percentage:
Budget for an increased payment or extra payment towards your debt.
Consider setting up auto pays for these debt accounts (further solidifying a consistent payment history).
Avoid opening new lines of credit or making any large purchases.
Focus on keeping lower balances on all debt accounts.
Pay down credit cards with higher interest rates first.
These tips will help you monitor and manage your credit scores. However, if you find that your score is in need of some real repair, don’t be afraid to give Imagine Home Lending a call. We work closely with credit repair professionals who can get you on the path towards home ownership.