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General

2020 is a Leap Year, a year that comes every 4 years in which there are 366 days rather than 365 days. Read on to learn more about what leap years are, why we have them, the history behind their celebration, and other interesting facts, including what to do when your birthday lands on February 29th.

What is a Leap Year and Why Do We Have it?
The Earth doesn’t spin around the sun in exactly 365 days. It actually takes an extra 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds longer than that, making the solar year 365.242 days. This means that, if we don’t account for that extra time, our calendar will fall behind the seasons we’re used to. So, in 750 years, June would start in the middle of winter. Throughout history, we’ve tried to account for this in different ways. Today, we remedy this by, every 4 years, adding an extra day to the end of February – the 29th.

But even that doesn’t completely solve the problem. So we have to add in a few little extra rules you’ll see explained below.



We all know that leap years are the years that are divisible by 4 (i.e. 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, etc.), but there are some exceptions to this rule, which can get kind of confusing. To put it as simply as possible, if the year is also divisible by 100 (i.e. 1800, 1900, etc.), it is NOT a leap year. However, if it is divisible by 100, but also divisible by 400 (i.e. 1600, 2000, etc.), then it actually is a leap year. If that was confusing. see our handy chart above to help you easily determine when it’s a leap year!

History of Leap Years

Throughout history, humans have dealt with the fact that the solar year doesn’t line up with our calendar in many different ways. The ancient Sumerian calendar of 5,000 years ago very simply divided the year into 12 months with 30 days each. With just 360 days, this calendar was an entire week shorter than the Earth’s orbit around the sun. The Egyptians who adopted this calendar attempted to solve that problem by adding an extra 5 days of festivals and partying at the end of the year.

The Egyptians eventually began observing a 365-day year with a leap-year system. But the Romans were still behind, trying to adjust their calendar by randomly adding days or months here and there. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar declared they would, for just one year, take on a 445-day calendar he called the Year of Confusion. The idea behind this decree was to all at once correct the damage that had already been done from years of drifting out of sync with the seasons. After this, he ordered a 365.25-day year with a leap day added every four years.

But even this change wasn’t good enough. Since 365.25 days, while close, is still longer than the 365.2422-day solar year, Pope Gregory XIII eventually created the Gregorian calendar that we currently follow in which a leap day is occassionally skipped. This makes the average year 365.2425 days long – much closer to the solar 365.2422-day year. While this still doesn’t perfectly line up with the solar year, it will be 3,300 years before this calendar begins to diverge from our solar year by a day.

What Happens if Your Birthday is on a Leap Day?

If you were born on February 29th, you might be called a “leapster” or a “leapling.” About 5 million people on earth were born on February 29th. Out of 7.5 billion people, that means 0.07% of people on earth are leapsters.

So which day do you celebrate your birthday on when it’s not a leap year? Among leapsters, it seems to be split almost 50/50. Many who celebrate on February 28th – “28thers” – are avid “February babies” who identify with being born in the month of February and refuse to be “March babies.” Those who celebrate on March 1 – “1sters” – hold tight to the idea that they were born on the day after February 28th, which is March 1st on non-leap years. Other leaplings choose to celebrate the moment the clock hits midnight between the 28th and the 1st. Others still, choose to celebrate on both days! After all, why choose sides when you could double the party?

Fun Facts About Leap Day

1. The chances of having a birthday on February 29th are about one in 1,461.

2. When adding an extra day doesn’t cut it, we’ve had to do things like adding a “leap second.” This last happened on June 30, 2015.

3. The Titanic sunk on a leap year (1912).

4. The official animal of leap day is the Australian rocket frog who can leap over 50 times his own body length.

Enjoy Your Leap Day!
Now that you know more about leap years, make sure to celebrate this unusual time. This unique day comes just once every 4 years, so make the most of it!

And happy birthday to all the leaplings out there! Enjoy your special day.

Sources: History.com, National Geographic, Vox


Informational

Hearing that we’re in the middle of a seller’s market might scare people from buying houses. Factors like concerns about job stability, the state of the economy, and high home prices are responsible for hesitation to purchase homes. However, we are seeing a change in sentiment, thanks to recent trends and forecasts in the market. Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Sam Khater, said, "The combination of very low mortgage rates, a strong economy, and more positive financial market sentiment all point to home purchase demand continuing to rise over the next few months."

Mortgage Rates Are Down and Expected to Stay Down

Source: Freddie Mac
According to a recent survey by TD Bank, 68% of respondents said that now is a good time to purchase a home. Mortgage rates are down significantly, making it the ideal moment to snag a low rate and save money. Even if home prices are high, you could save more money since a lower priced home with a higher rate could actually end up costing more.

The Supply of Homes is Increasing

Within the last year, there was a shortage of inventory of homes for sale, affecting first time buyers especially. However, this year more entry-level inventory is expected to become available. This means that if you were worried about finding a home, you may have better luck discovering the perfect house now that supply is increasing.

Job Security is Increasing
Many of those who aren’t sure about purchasing a home cite anxiety over job security as a reason. In fact, a TD Bank study showed that 51% of respondents stated they had concerns over their job stability. But with the growing economy and job security increasing, this sentiment is changing. More and more, people are becoming more confident in the stability of their job, allowing them to consider buying a home more seriously.

The Economy is Strong
The economy has been and is expected to continue to be strong, creating a favorable environment for purchasing a home. While there is always some fear about its stability, forecasts say the economy will continue to grow. Fannie Mae describes the economy as resilient, overcoming challenges and making it a better atmosphere for home buying.

Buying a Home in 2020
Low mortgage rates, a growing supply of homes, more job security, and a strong economy all indicate good conditions for buying a home. But if you’re still nervous after hearing that we’re in a seller’s market, take it from chief operating officer at Ellie Mae, Joe Tyrell, who said, “…Overall the market is still favorable for homeowners looking to refinance and millennials considering purchasing their first home."

If you’re ready to take advantage of these unique conditions, contact us today to find out which mortgage product is right for you.

Source: National Mortgage News


General

Looking for thoughtful, unique gifts for you loved ones this Valentine’s Day? Say goodbye to boring, cliché boxes of chocolate and teddy bears. Here are some ideas for easy and fun things to make that your valentine will actually be happy to receive.

Date Night Jar

Get a bunch of popsicle sticks and write ideas for easy, fun things you can do throughout the year with your partner. Then, store all the popsicle sticks with your date ideas in a jar that you decorate however you like! This is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Jar Full of Reasons Why You Love Them

Another gift you can easily make is a jar with notes listing reasons you love your partner. Just write all your reasons down on different pieces of paper, roll or fold them up, and place them in a jar. Extra credit: Tie little ribbons around the rolled-up notes to turn them into fancy scrolls. Then, decorate the jar. This gift is a fun reminder of your love that your special someone can always look back on.

A Handwritten Frosting Note
This idea is the best of sweet treats and love letters in one! Bake a big cookie, cake, or whichever dessert you like as long as you can decorate it with icing. Then, write a love letter on it with frosting. Now, your sweetie can enjoy two gifts in one – a beautiful profession of your love and a delicious treat!

Heart Shaped Tea Bag

Make your valentine a cup of tea and add a little touch of romance by attaching a heart-shaped piece of construction paper to the end of the tea bag. Bonus points: Write little love notes on each heart.

Conversation Starters
Write down several conversation starters to keep in a jar or a box. Break them out on date nights to entice interesting conversations. Some examples to consider: “What is your favorite memory?”; “What is your favorite thing about me?”; “Describe your dream date.”

Chalkboard Love Mugs

Get some chalkboard paint and paint hearts onto a mug. You can paint one big one and write a love note on it. Or, try painting small hearts all around the mug and write things like “you’re cute,” “be mine,” and “kiss me” on them. You can even get creative and write inside jokes on them.

Sticky Note Love Letter Surprise

Write thoughtful notes on sticky notes and stick them in the shape of a heart on the bathroom mirror or somewhere your special someone will end up seeing. We recommend setting them up in the bathroom before your valentine wakes up so that they’ll see the sweet surprise first thing when they get up in the morning. This gift is extremely easy to make as it only requires sticky notes and a marker, but it shows a lot of thoughtfulness your loved one will appreciate.

Heart Shaped Breakfast in Bed

You don’t always have to overthink Valentine’s Day gifts because everyone loves breakfast in bed. Just make your valentine a yummy breakfast and include sweet little touches like heart shaped eggs, flowers, and a love note.

Handmade Perfume or Body Spray

Easily make a perfume or body spray by combining witch hazel and your own selection of essential oils in a bottle. Make sure to choose essential oils that both you and your sweetie will love. Tie some ribbon around the bottle or write a heartfelt label. The beauty about this idea is that, since you’ll be smelling it when they wear it, it’s a gift that both of you will love!
 

Monthly Date Envelopes

We saved the best for last! Get 12 envelopes, one for each month, and fill each one with a date idea. Include tickets to shows or gift cards to restaurants and places you’d like to go on dates to. Now, for the next year, you’ll have a date lined up for each month!


General

In 2020, interior design will be unique, sustainable, bold, and handmade. Get ready to see some fresh colors, daring shapes and patterns, and unique items.

But how can you start incorporating these exciting trends into your home? Sometimes it can be overwhelming to tackle interior design, so we’ll also give you some easy, small steps for integrating these trends in your home.

1. Sustainability & Biophilia

When it comes to materials used in furnishings and fixtures, there is increasing demand for sustainability. People are becoming more ecologically conscious, looking to use ethical and ecofriendly pieces in their homes.

Then there’s biophilia, which is a trend that meshes human design and nature. It’s about including nature in interior design in order to connect with the earth and natural life. It’s great for feeling calm, and it also adds a unique aesthetic to your home. In 2020, we’ll be seeing lots of earthy, natural touches to interior design, such as plants and natural materials like wood.

Slowly begin adding touches of greenery and sustainability by getting a plant or two, adding a wooden lamp, or getting a rug made from sustainably sourced materials. Taking it one thing at a time will help you get started.

2. Patterns & Bold Colors

Fun patterns and bold colors are all the rage in 2020. Backsplashes are going to be colorful and incorporate interesting patterns. Fun new colors are going to pop up in unexpected places – like ceilings! Expect pattern mixing, layered patterns, and pattern matching – using floral patterns in particular. You’ll find patterns on walls, backsplashes, furniture, and more.

You don’t have to completely switch over your living room to have matching patterned walls and furniture. Try picking up a patterned throw or some patterned curtains to include this fun trend in your home.

3. Handmade Goods
People are becoming less interested in mass-made things as they begin to value unique, handmade items that come with a story. More and more, people are valuing a connection with the maker of the item.

Visit Etsy or your local craft fair and pick up some handmade goods that speak to you. Take some time to learn about the maker and the story behind the item, and you’ll appreciate its presence in your home that much more.

4. Maximalism

Remember when everyone was talking about minimalism? Now, maximalism is in. While minimalism was all about making things simple, maximalism is about making the most out of things. Everything is big and bold but be careful not to overdo it as there’s a line between this trend and clutter.

Take part in this trend by creating a gallery wall of colorful paintings or buying an extravagant piece of furniture or décor that really makes a statement. You don’t need to go overboard; Just add something bold and flashy to the mix.

5. Uniqueness

From rugs to the use of unusual materials in furniture, unique items will become more common in 2020. In the new decade, everyone is ready to see some fresh new styles so more people will be welcoming peculiar, interesting furnishings into their homes.

To enjoy this trend in your own home, be on the lookout for one-of-a-kind items or anything that sticks out to you as different. An oddly shaped dresser or chairs made of rope can really add an interesting touch to your home.

6. Personal Style That Lasts
What’s off-trend is in with more people looking to incorporate design elements that really speak to them. People are thinking more long-term about their interior design choices, buying furniture that embodies their personal style and will last. For environmental reasons as well as financial reasons, more people are looking for high quality pieces they know will endure and they’ll enjoy for a long time.

When purchasing furniture or décor, consider if it’s something you’ll want to look at for a long time. Then, consider the quality of the item, and ask yourself if it’ll stay in good shape. Grab a couple of pieces that have your style written all over them and enjoy!

Be Bold in 2020
2020 is all about being bold and fresh while being conscious of important things like how your interior design decisions affect the environment. If you’re ready for a bold new home to make your own, contact us today to find out how you can finance your home and make 2020 the best year yet.

Sources: Forbes, Collected Interior, Dwell


General

With student loans and auto loans increasing, 75% of young households are renting rather than buying homes. This is great news for landlords, but why is this bad news for those young Americans?

They’re Missing Out on the Opportunity to Build Wealth

First, this means that these young renters are handing their money over for rent each month instead of putting that money toward a mortgage payment. They’re missing out on the game-changing chance to build equity which is a great move for anyone looking to improve their financial situation.

2020 Rates are Low
Experts are saying that mortgage rates will remain low in 2020. The economy is expected to stay relatively smooth throughout the year, allowing rates to remain at the low place they’ve been. This means, in terms of snagging a low rate, now is the time to buy.

Bidding Wars are at a 10-Year Low
Starting in the fall of 2019, buyers stopped battling in nasty bidding wars. While some experts expect bidding wars to pick back up in 2020, buyers should try to take advantage of the opportunity to avoid them now.

2020 Brings Improved Service and Expanded Technology
Lenders and sellers are making huge improvements in the service they provide, giving buyers lots of great options to choose from when searching for their home and mortgage provider. They’re also embracing technology, making the homebuying experience smoother and easier.

They Could be Enjoying a Space of Their Own

People who rent have to follow the landlord’s rules. But buying a home means having your own space to decorate and make your own. That means you can tear things down, hang things up, paint your walls – the possibilities are endless. Plus, your own home is a place to unwind and experience peace and enjoyment.

Get Started Today
If you’re excited to take advantage of all the benefits of buying a home, contact us today to find out how you can get started.

Sources: BankRate, National Mortgage News


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