couple dreaming of new home

Dreaming of that perfect home? 2020 might just be the year for you! Here are some tips to consider this year when you buy your first home.

Check and Polish Up Your Credit Score
Check your credit score. Consider improving it by paying off a chunk of debt or giving it time to improve. Don’t buy a car, make any big purchases on a credit card, or make any late payments on any of your accounts. You want your credit in tip-top shape from when you apply for a mortgage until closing. To check your credit score, we suggest visiting Annual Credit Report.

Get Pre-Approved
Houses can move quickly. That’s why it’s important to have your finances in order when you’re looking for a house. Get pre-approved so you’re ready to make an offer before your dream house is gone. If you don’t have your financing secure when you’ve found the house you want, you could lose it to someone who is prepared to make an offer.

Get a Real Estate Agent You Trust

Get referrals, do your research, and find the right agent who can take care of your specific needs. Talk to family, friends, or anyone you know and trust to find out which agents they recommend. You can even ask your Loan Originator for suggestions. Make sure the person you choose as your real estate agent is someone you can rely on because you’ll be seeing a lot of them throughout the house buying process.

Consider What Your Long-Term Needs Are

Don’t just think about what you want now. Consider what your needs in a house are likely to be in the future. Houses are typically a long-term investment, so consider your long-term needs in a house.

Identify Your Deal Breakers
It’s important to have a wish list but remember that no house is going to be perfect. That’s why you must identify the main things that will deter you from buying a house. Understand that you may have to accept smaller flaws, but it’s okay to be aware of those deal breakers and to even say no to a house because of them. Consider which aspects of the home can easily be renovated and changed. Sometimes it’s about the potential of a home more than its current state. Read about our Renovation Loans to learn more.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

You don’t want to miss out on something amazing because of how it looked in its listing. Maybe it’s just an unflattering photo! Go inside. Have a look around. Give it a chance! You might be surprised by how much you love a house once you actually go inside.

Take Advantage of Open Houses – and Take Pictures!
An open house is your chance to really take a close look at a house to determine if it’s the one for you. Take this opportunity to pay attention to small details and analyze every corner. Pay attention to any smells, damage, stains, or anything in disrepair. Make sure to ask a lot of questions about the home – when it was built, how old certain systems and features are, and the renovation or repair history.

Most importantly, don’t forget to take pictures! If you don’t, you’ll be kicking yourself later when you’re wishing you could take another look it.

Consider the Surrounding Area – Not Just the Home Itself

It’s easy to focus on the house itself and all its amenities, but you can’t forget to learn about the neighborhood the house is a part of. Take note of the neighboring houses, the types of neighbors, and the nearby stores. Make sure to visit in the evening as well as during the day so you can get an understanding of what the neighborhood is like at all hours. You might realize a house is not for you when you visit at night and notice a high noise level.

Remember to Budget for Unexpected Expenses

Don’t make the mistake of only considering the price of a house when you determine your budget. There are other costs, like down payments, closing costs, and move-in expenses, that you need to consider. You don’t want to reach the top of your budget just to get hit with these costs you hadn’t thought about.

Do Your Research Before You Make an Offer
Consider what other homes in the area have sold for, how long ago the sale was, and what amenities the home has. Remember that the market determines the value of a home, so make sure you’re familiar with the state of the market.

Know What Home Inspections Entail

Inspections are really important to determine the condition of the house because just looking at the surface area of a house doesn’t always tell you what problems might lie unseen.

First, be sure to be there for the inspection. That way you can see exactly what happens, you can ask questions, and you can ask the inspector to look at anything else you’re interested in. Since not all inspections are the same, make sure you know everything that the inspection is testing for. Make sure that the inspector can and does inspect every part of the home, including the roof, attic, or crawl spaces.

What it comes down to is being aware of what you’re buying. Once you know, you can follow up with the seller to determine what they are willing to repair.

Listen to Your Gut
Never discount your intuition. While it’s important to give a home a chance, if you truly feel uneasy deep in your gut, there’s probably something to it. New homes are always coming on the market so don’t be afraid to walk away from one if it doesn’t feel right.

Try to Enjoy the Process

You might start to feel tired and frustrated at some point in the home buying process. These are the moments where it’s especially important to focus on what you can enjoy about the process. Remember that this is an exciting time and a major milestone that you should try to cherish.

Is Now the Time to Buy?
There are a lot of factors that come into play when buying a home. If you want to discuss your options, contact us today to speak to a home financing expert who can help you get your dream home in 2020. Or, download our First Time Home Buyer brochure for more information.


With a new year and the bustle of the Christmas season over, it’s time to think about your home resolutions. Now that the Christmas decorations are gone, the tree has been taken down, and your walls are looking a little bare, here are some ideas for sprucing up your house and getting it in tip-top shape.

Come up With an Actual Schedule for Chores

It’s easy enough to say that one person is in charge of cleaning the bathrooms and someone else is responsible for mopping the floors. But unless you specify when things should get done, they can easily go off track.

Write out the assignments and schedule for each chore and display it somewhere where everyone has access. Resolve to stick to it and consider offering prizes or rewards to anyone who consistently follows it. Indicating a specific and firm date and time to complete these tasks is key to making sure it’s successful.

De-Clutter Your Drawers and Cupboards

Go through all of your “junk drawers,” cabinets, and cupboards to clear out old items that are causing clutter. Be firm with yourself, and don’t let yourself hold on to anything you really don’t need that will just end up cluttering your space. For example, just throw out that old bottle of vanilla extract you’ll never use already.

Get Rid of Things that Don’t Spark Joy

While we’re talking about getting rid of things, one strategy of determining what to throw out is taking the time to consider if the item in question really brings you joy. As Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, says, “Try to appreciate and value more the items you do use and enjoy. This will make it easier to eliminate the goods which don’t have use in your life.”

Keep the items that truly mean something to you and give you real use and let go of the things that don’t.

Change Things up and Add a Little Pizazz

modern room with plants
If one of your resolutions is to spend more time with family and friends, spruce up your entertainment spaces with some new decorations or plants. A new year is a great time to make some updates to the design and layout of your home. Make sure to keep things fresh and minimal, though!

Keep it Simple – Don’t Let Organizing Scare You!

organized drawer
Don’t overthink it. When you’re going through items, separate and organize them according to their similarity using the “like with like” method. This includes everything from keeping similar socks together to storing the same kind of utensil in the same place. If you break it down to that simple concept, organizing seems a lot less intimidating.

Consider a Minimalist Mindset when Buying Things

shopping cart
We tend to think we need everything we see displayed on shiny, sparkly shelves at the store. But many of those things lose their appeal quickly when they’re brought home, and before we know it, they’re collecting dust and creating clutter.

When you’re shopping in 2020, think about what you really need, what you’ll really use, and what might just end up covered in cobwebs in the corner. If you don’t bring junk into your home in the first place, you won’t have to worry about de-cluttering later!

Keep Your Mail in a Designated Spot

organized documents
We all know that the piling up of mail can be the source of tons of clutter. Too many of us have that pile of letters and papers on the kitchen table or countertops that just seems to grow and grow.

Designate a specific spot to store your mail. This could be a shelf, a filing cabinet, or anywhere as long as it’s a spot specifically set aside to neatly store mail.

Contact Us Today!
Is this the year for a new home? Homestead Funding offers lots of options for those looking to start the year off right with a beautiful new house.

Contact us today to find out how to get the right mortgage for you. We can’t wait to hear from you!


In addition to having a positive impact on our environment, an energy efficient home also has some major benefits for you and your wallet.

Energy efficient renovations in a home can save you money, improve the value of your home, and may even help your home sell quicker. Plus, an Energy Efficicent Mortgage (EEM) allows you to make a variety of energy efficient home improvements, without all the fuss and added time of a traditional renovation loan. It’s quick, easy, and won’t impact the time it takes to close your loan.

1. It’ll Save You Money on Your Utility Bill
Houses aren’t cheap. We’re all looking to save as much money as we can. That’s why investing in energy efficient improvements can make a huge difference when it comes to saving money. It makes sense – if you improve your insulation, it’ll take less heat to keep your house warm and, therefore, cost less.

Making renovations to improve the energy efficiency of your home – like replacing old windows or a dated, inefficient furnace – will lead to using less energy in your home, meaning you get to save some serious money. We all know how expensive those utility bills can be. Creating an energy efficient home lets you take back some control over how much you pay.

2. It Can Help Your House Sell Quicker
Other people know how beneficial it is to have an energy efficient home. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) annual Home Buyer/Seller Profile found that 87% of those surveyed reported that the heating and cooling costs of a home were “important” or “very important.” Many people understand that an energy efficient home yields lower costs of heating and cooling. That means when it’s time for you to sell, highlighting the cost saving features in your home may help it to sell more quickly.

3. It Improves the Value of Your Home
Your energy efficient home may not only sell faster, but it may also sell for more. Just like with any other home improvement project, an investment like renovating for energy efficiency can increase the value of your home as well as the amount that someone will end up paying for it.

Many studies have shown that energy efficient homes boast shorter sale times and higher sale price. According to a 2014 study conducted by Build It Green in Los Angeles County, upgraded homes enjoyed an increase in the value of their homes of 6%. So not only do people rush to buy energy efficient homes; they also pay more for them.

How Does an EEM Work?
The EEM is here to help homeowners or those looking to buy a home add energy efficient improvements to their current or future home. You start by having a home energy assessment done on the property. From there, you’ll be provided a home energy rating, also known as a HERS report (Home Energy Savings Value). Homestead will review the report and determine your mortgage amount, based on your selected improvements.  It’s that easy.

Who can use an EEM?
EEM’s are available with FHA or VA loan programs, can be used for 1-4 unit properties, and are available in all 50 states.

What Are Some Examples of Energy Efficient Improvements that can be made with an EEM?

  • Dated windows in need of replacement
  • Insufficient insulation
  • Old, inefficient furnace
  • Inefficient water heater
  • Any feature of the home that compromises its energy efficiency

For more information about EEMs, click here.

Contact us today!
So, you’ve found a property you love, but it needs some love – Don’t sweat it! With an energy efficient mortgage from Homestead Funding, you can finance 100% of the cost of eligible energy efficient improvements right into your mortgage payment!

For more information on Energy Efficient Mortgages and to see if you qualify, contact us today!


  • Cost of improvements calculation is the lesser of 5% of the appraised value or 115% of the median area price of a single-family dwelling or 150% of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit ($510,400).
  • Max loan limit may be exceeded by amount of improvements.
  • Standard qualifying rations may be exceeded.
  • Borrower will have up to 3 months to make the improvements after closing

To see the state Homestead is currently licensed in Click Here

  • Product availability & requirements subject to change.


Whether you’re a snowbird heading south for winter, a family with a summer home by the ocean, or the owner of a camp that loses its charm in the dead of winter, you’re going to want to prepare your vacant home to fend for itself through the winter months. Here are some tips on how to best prepare your empty home to withstand the colder weather while you’re not around to make sure everything is running as it should.

  1. Turn off the water supply. This can prevent your pipes from freezing and potentially bursting on very cold days. If you’re leaving a home in an area where freezing pipes can be a problem, drain all waterlines including toilets, the water heater, and the expansion tank.
  2. Unplug all appliances. Not only can this protect against potential electrical shortages, but it will also save you money as your unused appliances will not be using any phantom energy.
  3. Turn off your gas line. This will help to prevent gas leaks or other related incidents.
  4. Guard against unwanted guests. Clean out your fridge, your freezer, and your pantry, leaving only dry, nonperishable foods in air-tight containers. Also be sure to put away any soaps, sponges, or candles, take out any trash, and clean kitchen areas thoroughly.
  5. Close your damper or flue. That way no snow, rain, or animals can find a way into your home.
  6. Turn down the thermostat. You’ll want to keep the inside temperature above freezing and at a level where everything will stay dry. Somewhere between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended temperature.
  7. Bundle the house up tight! You want your home to look like the little boy from A Christmas Story, especially if it’s in an area prone to snow storms. Install storm windows and doors, close the shudders, store all your outdoor furniture and decorations, and make sure you leave everything closed and locked tight.
  8. Clean your gutters. Otherwise water might not be able to pass through them and they could freeze over and break during the winter.


The season is a-changing in most of the U.S. right now (well, perhaps not in parts of the Southwest or Florida, where the only preparation they do is to prepare to receive winter tourists escaping the cold). For many, it’s a time of green (or brown) grass adorned with crimson, gold and tangerine-colored leaves, cooling temperatures, and the promise of holidays is ahead. It’s also time to get ready for whatever kind of winter you usually experience.

Those piles of leaves are not just there for kids to play in, although they are a big attraction even for adults. Did you know that if you left the leaves there, they decompose and make it harder for your grass to grow in the spring? So, grab a rake.

No matter where you live, along with leaves the gutters of your home receive junk, whether from trees, flying debris, or the powder left behind by roof tiles (split shingle, concrete or composite), clogging them so rainwater can’t flow through. Then they spill over. This overflow can damage your home’s siding, foundation, and leave huge ruts in your landscaping. Get a ladder out and take a survey of them before they have a chance to build up.

While you’re at it, check your roof shingles, which may have begun to warp, age or shed and if repairs are in order, do them before the rains hit. The summer sun can be brutal on them.

Even in the Southwest and along the west coast, stucco and concrete can crack and expand. Take a stroll around the exterior of your home, looking for damage along the pathways and cracks in stucco that could lead to water intrusion, especially around windows. Those cracks and gaps around windows and doors can rob you of heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. They also can harbor critters who have made your home their own.

Patios need attention in the fall. Those cushions we lay around on in outdoor living areas can mold and discolor in the rain and should be stored away. Even in hot areas where rain is more infrequent, however, wicker and teak outdoor furniture can receive some brutal treatment. Might be a good time to check around for damage and take stock of what needs to be replaced.

Many fireplaces still burn wood. If yours does, schedule a time to have your chimney and heating system cleaned and maintained, including swapping old filters for new ones. It’s important that everything is in good working condition to decrease the likelihood of house fires. Speaking of fires, your dryer vent can get a lint build-up and now is a good time to clean it. Cooler weather means more static electricity, meaning lint can ignite more easily.

Source: ZillowPorchlight, TBWS

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