“When am I ready to buy a house?”

It’s an important question to ask yourself, since the homebuying process is often as challenging as it is rewarding. While there’s no one right answer, there are ways you can determine when you’re ready to buy a house.

Here are some factors to consider, as well as some resources that can help you make a decision regarding the right time to buy.

Homebuying Checklist

Buying a home is a major life decision. Before you start looking, use the following checklist to assess your readiness.

Low Debt

When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will conduct a thorough analysis of your finances, including your debt-to-income ratio, which measures the ratio between your monthly income and outstanding debt.

Lenders prefer borrowers to have a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 43%, which means your total debts don’t exceed 43% of your gross monthly income.

For example, if you earn $5,000 per month and your monthly bills total $1,800, you have a debt-to-income ratio of 36% ($1,800/$5,000). But if your bills total $2,500, your ratio jumps to 50%.

Before buying a home, it can be helpful to pay off your credit card debt or auto loan or refinance your student loans to minimize your monthly debts.

A suburban home

What is Your Debt-to-Income Ratio?

Calculate an estimate of your debt-to-income ratio.


Down Payment

When it comes to homebuying, a good rule of thumb is to have 20% saved for a down payment.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, as many home loan programs allow you to buy a home with as little as 3% to no money down, but without a 20% down payment, you might have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which could increase your monthly mortgage payments.

Furthermore, the more money you put down, the less you’ll have to borrow. A smaller loan amount will translate into a lower monthly mortgage payment, saving you money each month.

Saving for a down payment before you start shopping for a home can increase the amount of home you can afford. Make sure you have enough savings to cover closing costs and your first mortgage payment.

Credit Score

How’s your credit score? In today’s environment, a borrower can acquire a loan even with a less than ideal credit score. For a conventional mortgage, most lenders will require you to have a credit score of at least 620 to qualify. For an FHA loan, a credit score could be between 500-580 depending on your available down payment.

That’s why it helps to boost your credit as much as possible before applying for a mortgage. Even an increase of 40 points or more can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your loan.

Monthly Payment and Home Maintenance

How will your mortgage fit into your broader budget?

When you buy a home, you’ll need enough to cover your monthly mortgage payments and property taxes, along with other costs. Homeowners insurance, for example, costs an average of $100 per month. And if you purchased your home with a down payment of less than 20%, you may be responsible for monthly PMI payments.

Added to these regular expenses are the costs of home maintenance. A broken air conditioning unit, for instance, could easily cost you over $5,000. It’s important to have an emergency fund that can cover roughly three to six months’ worth of your usual expenses to cover unforeseen costs.

Area of Ownership

Where do you see yourself in five years? It’s important to buy in an area that a borrower is comfortable in. Does the city have a good school district? Is there nightlife? How is the commute? Is it close to family and friends? All are important areas in deciding where to live.

Rent vs. Buy

Why buy when you can rent? Renting has its advantages, especially since your landlord will be responsible for covering property maintenance and repair. Renting may also be necessary until you’re officially ready to buy a home.

Despite the flexibility of renting, buying is often the better option, at least if you plan on staying in the area for five to seven years. A house is an investment — by buying a home, you’re keeping your financial future secure.

For example, if your rent and potential mortgage are the same amount of money, your mortgage payment would help reduce mortgage principal and build up equity in your home. With a rent payment, that payment just goes to the landlord and does not allow you to build value.

Is It Better to Rent or Buy?

Use CrossCountry Mortgage’s rent vs. buy calculator to explore your options and decide whether renting or buying is the better choice.


How Much Can You Afford?

Preparing to buy a house also means setting a budget. How much house can you afford?

As a rule, you’ll want to look for a home price three to five times your household income. However, your exact budget will depend on your existing debts and how much money you can put toward a down payment.

Determine Your Budget

If you need help pinpointing your budget, our “how much can I borrow” mortgage calculator can help you determine your optimal purchasing budget.


First-Time Homebuyer Programs

Does the answer to the question “am I ready to buy a house” change if you have poor credit or limited savings? Not necessarily.

Many programs exist to help first-time buyers  purchase the home of their dreams. Here are a few options you might consider.

Conventional Loans

Don’t discount traditional loan options just because you’re a first-time buyer.

conventional loan is often preferable since it offers the lowest interest rates and other favorable loan terms. And while it’s customary to make a 20% down payment, some lenders allow first-time buyers to receive a loan with as little as 3% down.

Keep in mind, however, that conventional loans usually require a credit score of 620 or better. Some lenders can work with you if your score is slightly lower, though this can mean higher interest rates. If your credit is low, you might consider one of the other options on this list.

USDA Loans

If you don’t have money for a down payment, you might consider a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA loans allow you to purchase a qualifying home with no money down, nor will you be responsible for PMI payments.

To qualify, the homes you look at must be located in designated rural or suburban areas, and you’ll typically need a credit score of 640 or higher.

VA Loans

Active-Duty Military Members, Veterans, and spouses of both groups are all eligible for VA loans.

Backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans allow you to purchase a home with no money down and no PMI requirement. Individual lenders may have specific credit score requirements, but you can often get a VA loan with a score as low as 580.

FHA Loans

Can you buy a home with poor credit? You can if you receive a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA loans are available to anyone with a credit score of 500 or above, though you’ll need to put 10% down. But if your score is 580 or above, you’ll only need to put 3.5% down.

Bottom Line: Am I Ready to Buy a House?

Buying a house is a momentous decision, both personally and financially. Our CCM loan officers are trained to run through all of the homebuying scenarios to make sure that you are comfortable with your first home.


For this and similar articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Spring is coming! Soon the tulips will be in bloom and the weather improving. With the change in weather, it’s time to get outside with the kids. In the Beaverton area, you can find a playground that suits everyone’s taste.

Vista Brook

Courtesy THPRD

Located off Scholls Ferry and SW 88, Vista Brook has the best set up for younger kiddos. Situated in a quiet neighborhood, it features paths connecting it to the Fanno Creek Trail. There’s a smaller train play structure for toddlers and a second structure that’s great for those a few years older. In addition, it has a sandbox, a wetland area with a lookout, and a large green space with paved pathways perfect for riding a bike or scooter.

Evelyn M Schiffer Memorial Park

Looking for space to run? This central Beaverton park has space and shade for all. The playground includes two separate structures, one for younger kids and one for bigger kids. Alongside them sits a huge green field with a paved track loop. With plentiful seating and natural areas, it’s an ideal picnic location. You can lay down a blanket under the trees on the well-manicured lawn if you can’t find a spot under the covered picnic tables.

Mountain View Champions Park

This popular park (next to Mountain View Middle School) has something for everyone. The larger play space at the entrance has wide ramps and inclines, making it the most accessible and inclusive playground on the list. Additional features include padded artificial grass, a merry-go-round, climbing rocks and a couple of saucer swings.

Further down the path sits a smaller, often quieter playground, with climbing equipment and traditional swings. There are multiple covered picnic tables and plenty of shade from the trees.

Barsotti Park

Just off SW 165th, this park packs a lot of punch. The rubber ground makes for softer “landings”. Especially considering the play structure for the older kids looks like a kid’s version of an America Ninja Warrior obstacle course. There’s a smaller structure for the younger kids as well. With nearby covered picnic tables, you could easily spend all morning here.

Ridgewood View Park

Located in Cedar Hill, there’s everything you need for a perfect little playground. The play structure is updated, along with a couple of swings and spinners. In addition, there’s ample green space, a paved loop great for scooters, a bit of natural area perfect for exploring and two covered picnic tables. All in all, it’s a nice set-up for kids of any age.


For this and similar articles, please visit PDXparent.com

Home equity borrowing is exploding across the country, thanks to the current housing market. But with multiple options to choose from, you might find yourself wondering what the difference is and which one to apply for — HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) or home equity loan.

These two programs are similar, and both offer a way to convert the equity in your home into cash that can be used for home improvements, consolidating debt, and more.

But to choose, you’ll need to understand the difference between a home equity loan and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). This guide will cover these differences and help you choose the loan program that’s right for your financial situation.

How to Calculate Home Equity

For starters, you need to understand how to calculate your home equity. The simplest way is to subtract the amount you owe toward your home from its most recent appraised value:

Home Equity = (Appraised Value) – (Amount Owed)

Remember, the amount you owe includes your primary mortgage as well as any other home equity loans or unpaid balances of other types of financing.

For example, if your home is currently valued at $300,000, and you have $120,000 remaining on your mortgage, then you have $180,000 worth of home equity.

Remember that you calculate your home equity based on how much you still owe, not how much of your mortgage you’ve paid — your monthly payments have included interest.

How to Qualify for a HELOC or Home Equity Loan

Home equity lines of credit and home equity loans both have similar eligibility requirements. Typically, you’ll need the following to qualify for this type of financing:

  • At least 20% equity in your home but this does vary by lender
  • Good credit, with a credit score on average over 620
  • Reliable income for over two years

Some lenders may approve high-risk borrowers, but the best loan terms will go to borrowers who meet the above criteria.

Is a HELOC a Good Idea Durig an Economic Crisis? - Debt.com

What Is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)?

home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a type of credit that lets you borrow money up to a predetermined credit limit. This credit limit is based on how much equity you currently have in your home.

HELOCs have two phases: a draw period, during which you can borrow money, and a repayment period, during which you’ll pay back both the principal and interest. The draw period can last 5 to 10 years, while the repayment period can last 10 to 20 years.

Since a HELOC is a credit line, borrowers have no real limit on how much money they can borrow. You can take out money (again, up to your limit), then make monthly payments, then take out money again.

Home equity lines of credit function just like the credit cards in your wallet — you can keep using them during your draw period so long as you pay your balance.

Some lenders even let you make interest-only payments during the draw periods, which means you won’t have to worry about the principal until the repayment period arrives. This setup can lead to a larger monthly payment in the long run but can be great for tapping into money quickly.

Pros of a Home Equity Line of Credit

A HELOC offers advantages that include:

  • High flexibility in terms of the amount you borrow
  • Variable interest rates could cause your rates to drop if your credit improves
  • You pay interest only on the amount you draw, not the total loan amount

These loan types are ideal for those who don’t know how much money they need, such as when you’re making improvements to your home and don’t have a clear final budget.

Cons of a Home Equity Line of Credit

However, there are some disadvantages to a HELOC, including:

  • Variable interest rates could raise your rates unexpectedly
  • You can overspend during the draw period, leaving you with considerable debt
  • Your home is collateral, meaning you could lose it if you don’t pay your loan

HELOCs can be dangerous for the undisciplined. Since the draw period can be as high as ten years, that can be plenty of time to dig yourself into a financial hole if you’re not careful. Still, HELOCs can be helpful for homeowners who manage their finances responsibly.

What Is a Home Equity Loan?

home equity loan is a loan you receive based on the equity that you have in your home. Many lenders use the terms “home equity loan” and “second mortgage” interchangeably.

These loans offer fixed interest rates as well as a fixed monthly payment schedule, making them more predictable than home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). Similar to personal loans, home equity loans are given in an upfront lump sum, which means that borrowers will need to know how much they need before applying for the loan.

The loan amount depends on how much equity you’ve built into the home, as well as your credit score and financial history. Qualified borrowers can often get a loan as high as 80% to 90% of the home’s appraised value. The loan terms can vary by loan amount and the lender, ranging anywhere from five to 30 years.

Depending on your lender, you may have to pay some origination fees of roughly 5%, but these costs tend to be relatively minor compared to the value of the loan itself.

Pros of a Home Equity Loan

The advantages of a home equity loan include:

  • Fixed loan amount
  • Fixed monthly payment schedule
  • Lower interest rate compared to other refinancing options

Borrowers can appreciate the predictability offered by a home equity loan, which prevents you from overspending like you might when using a HELOC.

Cons of a Home Equity Loan

There are some disadvantages of a home equity loan, including:

  • Lower flexibility if your financing needs change
  • Need to refinance your home to receive a lower interest rate
  • Your home is collateral, meaning you could lose it if you don’t pay your loan

With greater predictability comes less flexibility, which can lock you in if you discover your financial needs are greater than you initially thought.

Differences Between HELOC and Home Equity Loan

What is the real difference between HELOC and home equity loans? While both can be used for a variety of financing needs, the real difference comes in how the funds of each loan type are received.

Additionally, the interest you pay for each loan type can be deducted from your income taxes if you use your loan to make significant improvements to your home.

A HELOC offers flexible funding just like any line of credit, while a home equity loan offers the stability and predictability of a one-lump sum. The second major difference is that a home equity loan offers fixed interest payments, while a HELOC can offer variable interest.

When comparing a HELOC vs. home equity loan, the main difference is found in the level of predictability. A home equity loan offers far more predictability and stability compared to a HELOC, though a HELOC is ideal for those who need flexible financing options.

Which Option Should I Apply for?

So should you choose a HELOC or home equity loan? Both are solid options, though there may be specific times when one of these options surpasses the other.

When to Consider a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

You might consider a HELOC when:

  • You don’t have a final idea of how much financing you’ll need
  • You want flexible loan amounts
  • You need to withdraw money over an extended period of time

For all of these reasons, a home equity line of credit might be the better choice when undergoing a home remodeling project that you intend to complete over time. Since the cost of materials tends to vary, having access to a revolving line of credit can give you the flexibility you need.

Just be careful about how much you draw during your draw period — otherwise, you could find yourself amassing debt. Similarly, keep an eye on your variable interest rates, which can benefit you when they drop but become costly when they rise.

When to Consider a Home Equity Loan

You might consider a home equity loan when:

  • You have a specific budget for how much you intend to spend
  • You need a lump sum of quick cash
  • You want a clear, fixed repayment schedule

A home equity loan might be great for those who need quick cash for things like debt consolidation or for paying contractors who offer a clear quote on a remodeling project. You’ll also appreciate the repayment schedule and fixed interest rate. But if interest rates do drop during your loan term, you’ll need to refinance to lock in a preferable rate.


Please visit CrossCountry Mortgage for more information.

Renovations and remodels can be excellent choices for homeowners looking to improve their home and increase their value. However, making changes to your property requires careful thought to ensure it’s the right decision as they involve varying levels of time and money.


Renovations refer to making repairs and updates to the home.

Types of Renovations

There are many different types of renovations, such as interior renovations, including updating flooring, repainting walls, and adding new fixtures. Exterior renovations could consist of repainting the outside, adding new trims, and structural renovations such as moving walls or changing the layout of the space.

Couple outside renovating and remodeling their deck space.

Reasons for Renovating

The reasons for renovation will vary, mainly depending on your goals, budgets, and how it could benefit your property. Reasons for renovations could be improving the space, making essential repairs, and/or enhancing the visual appeal of your home.

Pros and Cons of Renovation

Understanding the pros and cons of renovations is crucial before proceeding. The benefits of renovating could be that the home increases in value by modernizing or updating the property and improving the home’s functionality. However, renovations can be costly, incredibly if significant changes are involved and time-consuming.


Remodeling refers to altering, updating, or enhancing a home, including interior, exterior, and structural changes.

Types of Remodeling

There are many remodeling projects, from simple cosmetic updates to extensive structural changes. Common types of remodeling might include interior remodeling, including master suite addition, extending the home, completely redesigning a room (or multiple rooms), or exterior remodeling, such as adding stone columns, constructing a walkway, or redoing the roof or garage, including the garage door.

Reasons for Remodeling

There are many reasons for remodeling, such as improving a room’s flow and functionality through new features or modernizing old rooms. Remodeling can be an investment to increase real estate value. Remodeling can also make the home aesthetically appealing. Remodeling could also be done to adapt to changing needs or lifestyles, such as making the home more accessible or adding a home office or gym.

Pros and Cons of Remodeling

Before undertaking a remodeling project, it’s crucial to consider the benefits and drawbacks. The primary benefit of remodeling is that it increases the home’s functionality, enabling you to customize it. Also, depending on the cost of the remodel, it can be an effective way to boost property value and provide a significant return on investment. However, remodels may require a higher budget.

Considering your Options

Deciding between renovation and remodeling requires careful consideration of your goals, timelines, and budget. Each one can have a significant influence over what you choose to do.


When considering a remodeling budget, consider factors like the size of the space and the scope of the project. Renovations may be more cost-effective since they are simpler updates and are the DIY-friendly option for homeowners. Remodeling will be more involved but may require a larger budget.


Another consideration is how much time you have to complete the project. Renovations are quicker than remodeling, which may require more extensive planning and construction time. However, renovations might be the right choice if you have a tight deadline or need to minimize disruption to daily life.


The final aspect to consider is your goal for the home. Do you want to update the look and feel or do you need larger functional improvements? Are the changes necessary to increase the value of the house? Renovation projects can generally be completed more quickly and at a lower cost, but the level of transformation is lower. Remodeling projects can be more expensive and time-consuming, but they can also add significant value to a property with the right level of customization.

Mortgage Loans Available

Many financing options, such as mortgage loans, are available for remodeling and refinancing. These loans can be used to finance home remodeling and renovations.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) loan allows homeowners to borrow

money using the equity in their homes as collateral. A HELOC is a revolving line of credit so borrowers can access funds up to a certain limit, depending on the home’s equity amount and credit score.

Cash-out Refinance

cash-out refinance replaces an original mortgage with a new larger one. The difference between the two amounts is given to the borrower in cash.

FHA 203K

FHA 203K renovation or remodel is a home renovation loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The program enables homeowners to purchase or refinance a home and the cost of its renovation or remodel through a single mortgage loan.

VA Renovation Loan

The VA Renovation Loan is a type of mortgage loan designed for Veterans wanting to renovate or remodel their homes. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers VA Renovation Loans and is available to Veterans who currently have a VA loan or those in the process of obtaining one.


For more information like this, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Because of the bravery and sacrifices of veterans and active military, the rest of the country’s civilians can live the American dream in safety. As one tangible way to say “thank you for your service,” current and former members of the military have access to Veterans Affairs home loans. These unique mortgage options allow veterans and those still serving to own a piece of the American dream by potentially qualifying for homes they might have thought were out of reach.

Veterans, active-duty service personnel, and select Reservists or National Guard members are among those who can quality for VA loans. (Find specific eligibility requirements here.) Wondering what some of the benefits of a VA loan might be? Here are five to consider.

5 Things You Didn’t Know a VA Loan Could Do for You

1. No down payment

This is one of the most valuable and touted benefits—and for good reason. Saving enough for a down payment can be the biggest obstacle to buying a home. But a VA loan eliminates that roadblock.

“Most of the buyers I work with don’t have extra resources available, so the fact that they can purchase a home with zero down makes the transaction feasible,” says Benny Dinsmore, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker in Frisco, TX.

Qualified VA buyers don’t have a down payment requirement in most cases.

But beware: The “no money down” aspect of a VA loan shouldn’t be confused with “no money out of pocket,” a common misconception, notes Michael Garcia, broker and owner of TQS Realty in Palm Beach, FL.

A VA purchase transaction still requires closing costs and often includes an earnest money deposit (a negotiated amount of money that the buyer puts in escrow to essentially “hold” the house).

“However, that money will often come back at the closing, when the title company will write a check back to the veteran on the spot for the total amount that was put into escrow,” Garcia says.

2. More lenient loan requirements

The required credit score for a VA loan can be lower than for a conventional loan—around 620 for a VA loan compared with a range of 650 to 700 for most conventional loans.

In addition, the required debt-to-income ratio for VA loans is often more flexible than for conventional mortgages.

“It allows someone with less-than-perfect credit and some debt to still be able to qualify for a loan,” Dinsmore says.

3. No mortgage insurance

Most conventional buyers have to pay private mortgage insurance if they put less than 20% down. FHA loans come with their own forms of mortgage insurance. But a VA loan waives that insurance requirement.

And trust us—this one’s important.

“This can be a big savings in monthly payments, since PMI typically runs around $200 a month,” says Realtor® Twila Lukavich with Russell Real Estate Services in Cleveland.

Even though there’s no mortgage insurance, there is a “funding fee”—an upfront cost applied to every purchase loan or refinance. The proceeds help the VA cover losses on the few loans that go into default. But borrowers can roll it into their monthly payment, or pay it all at once. Plus, it’s tax-deductible. And veterans with a service-connected disability don’t have to pay the funding fee at all.

4. Limited closing costs

Legally, veterans are allowed to pay for certain closing costs, which include the following:

  • Appraisal
  • Credit report
  • Origination fee
  • Recording fee
  • Survey
  • Title insurance


But there are some fees that veterans are not allowed to pay. And the VA allows lenders to charge no more than 1% to cover the costs of originating and underwriting the loan.

So for example, if the purchase price is $280,000, the veteran might offer $300,000 and ask for 3% back to cover the closing costs.

“In this way the veteran is essentially financing their closing costs into the loan, meaning less out of pocket at the start,” Dinsmore explains.

5. Extra assistance with appraisals

When a home that a veteran is considering purchasing is having trouble reaching the purchase price during the appraisal process, buyers and lenders can ask the VA appraiser to consider adjusting the valuation before making a final determination.

Appraisers notify lenders in the event the appraised value is likely to come in low, giving buyers and real estate agents 48 hours to supply additional information that the appraiser might not be aware of to help justify the home’s value.

“Typically I assemble an itemized list of upgrades and improvements that the seller has performed on the home in the past three years that the appraiser didn’t know about, and therefore didn’t include in the home value,” Lukavich says.

This process “gives the agents an opportunity to assist the appraiser in making sure they have the whole picture of the home and gives the local agent an opening to help an appraiser be educated on specific local values,” she adds.

It’s just another benefit of VA loans aimed at helping our service men and women buy the home of their dreams.


For this and similar articles, please visit Realtor.com

Combine water and a walk, short or long to one of these spots within 100 miles of Portland.

Pothole Falls at Lacamas Regional Park

There’s a reason why we flock to swimming holes every summer. Taking a dip in the deep, sparkling pools of water set amongst forests, waterfalls, and rocky bluffs is a whole lot better (and more scenic) than sitting indoors next to an air conditioner. At a lot of spots, the water can be reached within a minute or two after leaving your car. But where’s the adventure in that? Here are some splash zones that can be accessed only by hiking in, and that’s honestly half the fun. Plus, there’s a good chance they aren’t nearly as crowded as the swim spots that are easier to access. 

Remember that you always swim (or jump) at your own risk, and in changing conditions—wildfires, fast currents after rainstorms, late season snow blocking the roads—not all the activities here are recommended. 

Lacamas Regional Park 

Closest town: Camas, Washington
Distance from downtown Portland: 22 miles
No need to travel far for a good swim session in a natural setting. The 312-acre Lacamas Regional Park in Camas, Washington, has more than 12 miles of trails and is a paradise for many: photographers (especially during spring when the camas lilies bloom), birders, hikers, and of course, daredevils who cliff-jump into the waters at Pothole Falls, the waterfall at Lacamas Creek. Named for the soft rock that over time eroded and formed numerous “potholes” ranging in width and depth, the falls come summer make a nice spot to cool off mid-hike. The easiest way to reach the swimming hole is to start at the Lacamas Park trailhead by Round Lake.
 The hike around the lake is around 1.2 miles, but if you prefer to cover more ground before taking a dip, take a left over the footbridge to cross the channel between Round Lake and neighboring Lacamas Lake, and walk on a paved trail beneath shady Douglas firs. A short side trail takes you to a viewing platform where you can try and spot great blue herons. Not long after, you’ll pass an erratic boulder which per helpful trail signage is thought to have been carried over from the Missoula Floods more than 12,000 years ago. From here it’s a quick jaunt to the swimming hole. Veer left onto a short side trail which takes you to an overlook of Pothole Falls, then take an unmarked trail to make your way down to the water. The water can be shallow in some places, so be sure to scope it out before attempting to jump from a rock. (Or, skip the jump altogether and just find a nice rock for sunbathing.) To complete the loop, make a left back onto the main trail, and you’ll cross a narrow walkway over the dam, where you’ll see some rusted spillway gears and also get a nice view across the lake. Continue on the trail, which now also parallels with Mill Pond, home to various wildlife, including waterfowl and turtles that can be seen basking atop logs. Return to the trailhead.  

Metzler Park near Estacada


Metzler Park 

Closest town: Estacada, Oregon
Distance from downtown Portland: 31 miles
Six miles south of downtown Estacada, Metzler Park is isolated enough for a proper nature escape. The park sits on Clear Creek, a wide rushing waterway that turns into a tranquil swimming hole at the bend just a tenth of a mile from the trailhead. The short, family-friendly trail takes you on a suspension bridge across the creek. Right after crossing, you’ll see another sign on your right pointing you toward the swimming hole. Follow the short leafy path through the woods to a small cobbled beach at the Clear Creek swimming hole. In the spring, the trail can be quite muddy, but that’s less likely in the summer months. For a longer hike, the park has a 2.5-mile 
nature trail that weaves through a forest of Douglas fir, hemlock, and maple, with 20 stops along the way to identify various native plants. There’s tent and RV camping May through September; otherwise, the day use parking fee is $8. —MH

Mosier Creek Falls 

Closest town: Mosier, Oregon
Distance from downtown Portland: 69 miles
This popular wildflower hike along the Mosier Plateau trail has yet another attraction: a “secret” swimming hole tucked between the upper and lower tiers at Mosier Creek Falls. Unnoticed by hikers who venture out in the springtime to gawk at balsamroot and lupine, the plunge-worthy swimming hole gives you an excuse to revisit Mosier in the summer. After parking at the lot just past the Totem Pole Plaza, cross the white bridge over Mosier Creek and, shortly after, pick up the trail to your right marked by a bench. From here, you’ll pass the cemetery through Mosier Pocket Park where members of the Mosier family that founded the town are buried. The trail steadily climbs for about a mile, and you’ll walk high above the scenic Mosier Creek, which cuts through a ravine and also has several enviable homes perched along the cliff. Take in the view at the Mosier Creek Falls overlook before making your way down to the swimming hole. Or if you really want to earn your stripes, hike the entire 3.5-mile loop and then return for a much-deserved dip. Just remember, hiking the mostly exposed trail is a whole different ballgame in the summer heat than it is in, say, April. So be sure to wear a hat, slather on sunscreen, and bring plenty of water.  

Lake Wapiki  

Closest town: Trout Lake, Washington
Distance from downtown Portland: 99 miles
Part of the Indian Heaven Wilderness in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest, shallow Lake Wapiki sits in the old crater of Lemei Rock. At 3.5 miles each way from the Lemei Trailhead, with a steep spur for the final section up to the lake (and views galore of Adams, Hood, and other peaks), it’s is just enough of a trek to keep it from getting too crowded, though the area is popular and is just a couple of miles from the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s best to go in late summer, after the snow has melted and the mosquitoes have died down a bit, and when the trailside huckleberries are ripe for snacking. There are a few campsites around the lake, and an overnight will offer some time to explore the smaller, rocky pools in between Wapiki and Lemei Rock. Wilderness permits (self-issued at trailhead) required. —MS


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How many “first dates” have you been on with homes you hope to buy that ended up falling flat? The photos online looked good. On paper, the property had everything you need. But in person, you realize: No way. And at that price? Forget it.

Welcome to the depressing reality of home shopping today. Low inventory, high housing costs, and soaring mortgage rates mean that you have to either buy a house you don’t really like or put your home search on hold.

But there is another way: Try changing your perspective. Even just a few tweaks and adjustments to your home-shopping priorities might help. (This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to drastically lower your standards and settle.)

In short, it’s high time to learn the art of buying the perfectly imperfect house. Read on for insights from real-life buyers and real estate agents for guidance on how you can improve your chances of finally finding the home that spells the welcome end to your interminable home-shopping odyssey.

Can’t change the housing market? Change your criteria

In 2022, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Derek Coleman thought he knew exactly what type of house he wanted to buy.

“We were set on a three-bedroom, two-bathroom with a pool,” says the Florida-based real estate investor and founder of Kurby.ai. “Preferably on a canal so we could purchase a boat and really live the Florida lifestyle.”

Coleman worked with three real estate agents and looked at dozens of homes over the course of a year. And during that time, prices just kept going up.

“Ultimately, we accepted the fact that home prices had risen too much for us to get the home of our dreams,” Coleman says. “On the spur of the moment, we completely changed our plans and settled on a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in Miami.”

The take-home lesson? Looking for a house today requires more flexibility than usual. You might even have to scrap your plans completely, as Coleman did, and come up with a Plan B “dream.”

“Be open to adjusting your expectations or considering different neighborhoods to find a suitable home within your budget,” Coleman advises. “We were originally looking at just one to two neighborhoods and wouldn’t accept anything else.”

And today? “We couldn’t be happier with our decision,” Coleman says.

Put your priorities on paper

You might also want to put pen to paper (or keyboard to spreadsheet).

“As an agent, I always encourage clients to begin the house search by making a list of deal-makers and deal breakers,” says Rinal Patel, founder of We Buy Any Philly Home. “This is to make it easier to make decisions faster.”

And the list should also have a tab for “wishes” that aren’t “needs.” It’s important to distinguish between the two, and writing them down can help keep your mind from getting muddled.

“I tell them to make a new list for every house we see,” Patel says. “In it, we would make notes of what could have made a particular house The One, and if there are realistic ways to achieve those goals within their budget.”

In most cases, seeing it all on paper helps clarify which property stands out as having the edge.

Be realistic about your financial means

Money is another perpetual sticking point for would-be buyers who never seem to actually make a purchase. If you have Champagne tastes and a beer budget, it’s time to get real. Ask yourself: Are you overreaching financially, or expecting to lowball the seller?

“Stop dreaming of scoring a discounted deal,” says Glenn Phillips, the Birmingham-based CEO of Lake Homes Realty. “Understand what your financial means are, trust your agent, and shop within your true means.”

The Simple Secret to Buying the Perfectly Imperfect House in Today’s Insane Market

Get on the same page as your partner

If you’re shopping with a partner, it’s essential to make sure you’re in lockstep to avoid sabotaging your chances of finding the perfect home.

“Effective communication is key,” says Chinmay Dasgupta, a recent homebuyer in the New York City area. “We found that understanding what each person was willing to compromise on helped us avoid a lot of the misunderstandings we were having. Feeling like we were on the same team made the experience smoother and more enjoyable.”

Consider the potential

A great house with a hideous bathroom shouldn’t be nixed—especially in this market.

“There is rarely a perfect house for anyone,” Patel says. “However, there are ways to make a perfect house, if you can learn to see what a house can become, not just what it is at that moment.”

A good agent, Patel says, can help you price out a range of potential remodeling projects and determine how long they will take to pull off.

Eliminate extraneous decision-makers

Sometimes buyers need to tune out the opinions of friends and family.

“There can sometimes be too many decision-makers,” says Stephen McGee, director of National Property Buyers. “For example, parents contributing to the deposit also want to be involved in the process, which can complicate things.”

If you have a parent or other person making a significant financial contribution to your home purchase, their influence can be tough to resist—but it can help to point out that they won’t be living there and should leave the final decision to you. If they can’t, then you might have to really question whether taking their financial help is truly in your interests.

Consider what dragging your feet today may cost you tomorrow

In the end, you don’t want to spend your (and your agent’s) time touring dozens of homes with nothing but wasted weekends to show for it.

“It’s no secret that the current real estate market has presented some challenges for homebuyers,” says Loren Howard, founder of Prime Plus Mortgages in Scottsdale, AZ. “But it’s important to remember that buying a home is an investment in your future. Even if a home doesn’t check all the boxes right now, it can still be a smart financial decision in the long run.”

With historically low inventory, waiting for the perfect home might mean missing out on the opportunity to build equity and save money down the line, Howard notes.

In the end, Howard says that buying a home that doesn’t check all the boxes “may be a wise move to avoid paying high rents or even higher interest rates in the future.”


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If you’re wondering, “What’s the process for taking equity out of my home,” you’re not alone. As home values have skyrocketed, thousands of homeowners have tapped into their home’s equity to pay off debt, fund a remodel, or pursue other financial goals.

To help bring you up to speed, we’ll be discussing how you can calculate equity, what percentage of equity you can borrow from your house, and how you can increase your total equity. We’ll also explore the basics of a home equity line of credit (HELOC), home equity loans, and cash-out refinance, three of the most common ways to tap into your home’s value.

How to Calculate Home Equity

In order to determine the amount you can borrow, you must first calculate your current home equity. To calculate home equity, you must know two variables: your mortgage balance and your home’s current value.

For instance, let’s say that your mortgage balance is $250,000 and the market value of your home is $400,000. In this scenario, you have approximately $150,000 of equity in your home.

Since you have equity in your home, you would be eligible for a home equity loan or HELOC. However, that doesn’t mean you could use 100% of your home’s $150,000 equity.

Before you can answer the question, “How much equity can I borrow from my house,” you must conduct a loan-to-value calculation.

Home Equity Loans – Forbes Advisor

What Is My Loan-to-Value?

Loan-to-value ratio (LTV) refers to how much your home is worth compared to what you currently owe on your mortgage. Your LTV has a direct impact on the amount you can borrow.

Lenders set limits that dictate the amount of equity you can use to borrow money. Generally, they won’t allow you to exceed 80% LTV when obtaining a cash-out refinance. However, some lenders may allow you to have an LTV of up to 95% on a HELOC or home equity loan.

To keep things simple, let’s use the same figures from the example above. If your home is valued at $400,000 and you owe $250,000 on your mortgage, your loan-to-value is 62.5%.

If you apply for a home equity loan or HELOC, you could borrow up to 17.5% of your home’s total value, which translates to approximately $70,000. That would bring your loan-to-value to exactly 80%. The percentage of loan to value to borrow against varies by lender and loan type.

Some lenders won’t allow you to borrow past this threshold because they want to ensure that the home still has positive equity — if home values drop, the lender would still be able to recoup their money should you default on your loan. This would not be the case if they allowed you to use all of your home’s equity.

How Can I Increase My Home Equity?

Even if you don’t currently plan on applying for a home equity loan or HELOC, you should always be working to increase your home’s equity.

If your home has more equity, you have increased financial flexibility. You could take out a home equity loan to address unexpected financial needs or sell your home for a profit should you decide to relocate or upgrade.

Here’s how to start building equity in your home.

Increase Your Mortgage Payments

You’ll build equity organically as you make payments on your mortgage. However, you can speed up this process by paying more. You don’t have to do anything drastic, like doubling your mortgage payments. Simply allocating $100-200 extra per month toward your mortgage will help you build equity faster.

Paying extra on your mortgage also has other benefits, especially if you intend to stay in the home indefinitely. Increasing your monthly mortgage payments will help you repay your home loan sooner. This, in turn, could save you thousands in interest over the life of the loan.

Add Value to Your Home

Consider upgrading your home to add a lot of equity quickly. There are many ways to upgrade your home. One of the best is to invest in cosmetic upgrades, such as new paint and flooring.

If you want to give your equity a major boost, consider undertaking more involved upgrades, such as remodeling your kitchen or master bathroom. You could also hire a contractor to add on to your home, thereby increasing the square footage and overall value. Investing in outdoor upgrades like a grilling area or pool can build equity, too.

With that being said, upgrades rarely translate to a dollar-for-dollar increase in home equity. You should therefore carefully evaluate the pros and cons of any potential upgrades before investing in them.

Refinance to a Shorter Loan Term

Refinancing to a shorter loan term is another great way to build equity in your house. For instance, you could refinance from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage. While this would increase your monthly payments, you would build equity faster and pay off your loan sooner, thereby saving money on interest payments.

Refinancing to a shorter loan term might also help you obtain a lower interest rate, offsetting some of the monthly increase caused by transitioning to a shorter loan term.

How to Tap into Your Home’s Equity

When you’re ready to tap into your home’s equity, you can do so using one of the following financial products.


A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, functions similarly to a credit card in that you can use available funds as needed. HELOCs have a revolving balance, meaning you can pay down your loan or increase the balance by borrowing additional funds.

Let’s say you get approved for a HELOC and plan to use your home’s equity to finance a remodel. Your total available funds amount to $70,000. You don’t have to withdraw this entire sum at once. Instead, you can borrow just what you need up to the 80 LTV threshold.

HELOCs typically have a ten-year borrowing period. You can draw funds at any point during this time, provided you’re still under the borrowing limit.

You only have to make interest payments on your current balance during the draw period. After the ten-year window closes, a 20-year repayment period will begin, at which time you have to start paying principal and interest.

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan is a second mortgage that allows you to make a one-time draw of funds based on your home’s equity. Your first mortgage stays intact and you will have a new additional payment on the home equity second.

Using the example above, you could withdraw up to $70,000 or obtain a home equity loan for a lower amount as well. However, if you need additional funds in the future, you’d have to apply for another home equity loan.

Home equity loans have fixed interest rates and repayment periods. The interest rate on a home equity loan is somewhat higher than traditional mortgage rates.

Cash-Out Refinance

Cash-out refinance loans allow you to refinance your current mortgage to obtain a lower interest rate and tap into your home’s equity.

Imagine that you owe $250,000 and want to cash out $50,000. In this scenario, your new mortgage would be $300,000 plus any closing costs. $250,000 would go toward paying off the current mortgage, and the remaining balance would be paid out to you at closing.

Cash-out refinances typically adhere to the 80% LTV limits products. They’re a great option if you want to reduce your interest rate or refinance into different loan terms (i.e., transition from a 30-year to a 15-year mortgage).


For this and related articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Lower Lewis River Falls

Looking for a spot to cool off? The Pacific Northwest is your oyster. But how are you to figure out which of the dozens of swim holes near Portland are best for you? We’ve got you covered, with 16 of the best places to splash around, for different types of water lovers. We’ve nailed down all the details, and categorized which you’ll enjoy most.

This summer we challenge you to visit three new swim holes, and crown a new favorite. Let us know your picks at editor@pdxmonthly.com. Let’s dive in.


Lewisville Regional Park

Distance from Portland: 40 minutes
This 159-acre park sprawled along the shores of the Lewis River holds acres of grassy expanse ripe for wheelbarrow races, plus picnic tablesbarbecue shelters, playgrounds, a baseball field, and, of course, several swimming holes. But families seeking a mellow day on the water best head for the Larch area of the park, where a smallish sand-and-pebble beach affords easy wading and swimming for those still sporting water wings. Parents can watch from the grass clearing directly behind the beach … or return alone another day for more secluded lounging in the Ponderosa part of the park, where the current is stronger and the beaches are smaller, but curtained by rows of swaying trees.

Henry Hagg Lake

Distance from Portland: 50 minutes
Despite (invalidated) rumors of ghostly underwater cemeteries at Forest Grove’s 1,113-acre dammed lake, it’s one of Portland’s best spots for recreational water sports, with picnic areas, 13 miles of hiking trails, and two boat launches. Bring your fishing rods because this lake offers great opportunities to catch big trout when not dipping in to cool off.

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Wilson River at Keenig Creek

Wilson River at Keenig Creek

Distance from Portland: 1 hour
As you head west from Portland toward the coast, a quick turn at Highway 6’s milepost 18 leads sweaty carloads to a relatively still, wide section of the Wilson River, near where it meets trickling Keenig Creek. Kids and the young-at-heart will enjoy rock steps fit for Q*bert and a rope hanging from the bridge, which offer a variety of heights from which to jump in and cool off, while risk-takers launch from the bridge deck itself. For pleasures less vertical, a rocky bar in the middle of the river is perfect for wading.

Lost Lake

Distance from Portland: 2 hours
Isolated (think 26 miles on winding back roads) but accessible (they’re good roads), Lost Lake sits high on Hood’s slopes, at a heat-blasting 3,100 feet. Besides the 10 degrees of mercury you’ll lose on your way up, you’ll also ditch the crowds. Shrouds of firs and pines ring the 175-foot-deep emerald waters, and offer prime fort-building terrain for the kids (and a welcome contrast to the scarred slopes of clear-cut you’ll pass on the way here). You’ll need a person-powered craft, like one of the paddleboats for rent outside the 1950s-esque General Store, to gain the best view of Hood’s perfect peak—from the middle of the lake—because no motorized craft are allowed. That means only one thing will interrupt your serenity: water-bound first-timers’ inaugural whoops of glee.

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Punchbowl Falls


Punchbowl Falls

Distance from Portland: 45 minutes

A little over two miles into the iconic Eagle Creek trail, hikers find refuge by scrambling down to the oft-photographed, bowl-shaped pool, fed by a powerful, 36-foot waterfall. The scars of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire are still blatant, though the forest’s quick rebound with underbrush and saplings is just as inspiring as the falls themselves.

Buck Lake

Distance from Portland: 2 hours
Pristine Buck Lake sits 70 miles from downtown Portland—15 of them corkscrewing forest service roads. But the crucial last half-mile is what keeps this stream-fed swimming hole relatively secluded and unspoiled: it’s traversable only by foot. Hike through gorgeous stands of old-growth fir, serenaded by a chorus of croaking frogs and willow flycatchers to the edge of the lake’s spectacular emerald waters—waters so clear you’ll be able to see every rock and log (and sometimes fish) beneath the placid surface. A rocky section to the left of where the trail meets the lake offers the best perch for the day—besides a raft in the middle of the lake, of course.

Moulton Falls

Distance from Portland: 1 hour 
The utility player of swimming holes, 387-acre Moulton Falls Regional Park has something for everyone: Instagram-worthy falls surrounded by plentiful flat rocks for playing lizard in the sun, inviting flat water upstream, two miles of trails tracing the Lewis River’s banks, and a three-story arch bridge daredevils (illegally) leap off. Even better, it’s free, though that means it can get crowded. Arrive early to stake out your bit of beach or stone and savor this MVP.

Just two hours from Portland, this iconic waterfall is one of the most gorgeous places to take a dip in the Pacific Northwest.

Lower Lewis River Falls

Distance from Portland: 2 hours
Photographs just don’t do this place justice. A wall of water, 200 feet across, gushes from 43 feet high into a turquoise plunge pool big enough to shelter Shamu. With a crazy (but not death-wish-crazy) vertical drop from the rim and smaller pools etched into pockets of the rock wall, this is a cliff jumper’s paradise. Hike east upriver through lush old-growth forest to discover Middle (1.5 miles) and Upper Lewis River Falls (about another mile on), stunning in their own right and ripe for swimming if the lower section is overcrowded.


Collins Beach

Distance from Portland: 40 minutes
On Sauvie Island’s northeastern shores, the sandy, one-mile stretch along the Columbia River makes for a quick, refreshing dip. Find the segment of Collins Beach that is well-known for its clothing-optional policy.

Rooster Rock State Park

Distance from Portland: 30 minutes
Oregon’s other designated nude beach (see Collins Beach above) is a straight shot east of Portland down I-84. This three-mile long stretch of Rooster Rock sits just 24 miles away on the south side of the Columbia River Gorge.

Dougan Falls/Naked Falls

Distance from Portland: 55 minutes
At the end of winding Washougal River Road, you’ll find a most picturesque landing: 19-foot-tall cascades tumbling into a giant, blue-green pool and a rocky beach for lying out below the adjacent bridge. Just beyond Dougan Falls you’ll find Naked Falls with its series of pools, rock slides, and plenty of space for sunbathing, swimming and cliff jumping. This Washington river site sits on private property, so make sure you purchase a day-use permit online or at the Washougal River Mercantile en route. 


Wahtum Lake

Distance from Portland: 2 hours
For true tranquility, you have to drive a bit. But rarely does a buttery-smooth paved road and a five-minute jaunt from the car lead to a densely forested lakeside retreat free of RVs and motorboats. Wahtum Lake is a case apart. A serpentine drive (which some years does not open till summer after the snow melts) with vistas of Mount Hood’s northeast face ends abruptly in pristine wilderness. Descend a winding staircase through hemlock, Pacific yew, and huckleberry to reach the glassy waters. Lakeside campsites are plentiful, and hiking options—including a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail—abound. Take the four-mile round trip up Chinidere Mountain for a close-up of Hood.

North Fork of the Willamette

Distance from Portland: 2 hours and 30 minutes
This fork of the state’s 187-mile artery is too far afield for the masses looking for a speedy escape from town. Look for sweet spots 1.4, 3.5, and 11 miles east of Lane County’s Westfir Covered Bridge, with protected pools of super-clear water and big boulders for sunbathing and lounging. If things get busy—and they sometimes do, owing to the river’s proximity to Eugene—simply drive a few miles farther to find a secluded patch of your own to call home.

Boulder Lake

Distance from Portland: 2 hours
Nestled in a thicket of evergreens in a remote swath southeast of Mount Hood, Boulder Lake is uncommonly still; if someone swats a fly across the lake, or an eagle swoops overhead, you’ll hear it. The 13-acre pool sits at the base of soaring scree slopes, with a sequence of rustic campsites, some with picnic tables, tucked in the woods of its east and south shores. Travel light for a day of basking, swimming, and fishing, or pack a tent and stay the night. Twilight here is stunning.


Blue Pool

Distance from Portland: 2 hours and 30 minutes
The coldest and clearest water you’ll ever experience flows up through a lava tube and into this tranquil, turquoise pool. The four-mile round-trip to take a dip is a fairly easy jaunt and is quickly accessible from other adventures along the McKenzie River where plenty of riverside campgrounds provide opportunities to stay and explore the area.

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Cleawox Lake

Cleawox Lake

Distance from Portland: 3 hours
Families take note: With dunes on one side and leafy forest on the other, the sandy-bottomed Cleawox Lake, inside the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, offers sun and shade for swimmers, paddlers, and fishers (the lake is stocked through spring with trout). A sandy beach and roped-off shallow zone, just an easy stumble from the parking lot, become kid central in the summer. Once the youth tucker out, catch the sunset from the Eye of the Needle sculpture on the lake’s eastern shore, or drive to the nearby South Jetty to watch it set over the Pacific.

Waldo Lake

Distance from Portland: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Don’t even bother taking your phone out of your car at Waldo Lake. For one thing, you probably won’t get service in this secluded basin, one of the world’s purest alpine lakes and the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Plus, you won’t want any pings and rings interrupting the silence. Thanks to a 2010 ban, nary a whir of a gas motor will tarnish your serenity at this 9.8-square-mile jewel. (Electric motors are allowed, though, at speeds under 10 mph.) In fact, except for the occasional swoosh of a bald eagle’s wings and the harmonic song of a hermit warbler, the only sound you’ll hear is the echo of your paddle dipping into Waldo’s haunting blue waters, where the view down reaches a world-record 157 feet.

Our safety reminder: Changing conditions—river currents, wildfires, weather events, late season snow blocking roads, and more—can make swimming or wading unwise. Always obey posted signs and local warnings, and enter the water at your own risk.


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Thank you, gardeners, and all of your plants that delight us with colorful blooms and benefit the world with all that clean oxygen they produce!

Want to boost your garden’s gifts further? The simple practice of nurturing a pollinator-friendly garden (hello, bees!) can go a long way in stewarding the land for the next generation. And beyond that—a bevy of bees will help your garden thrive. Pollination ensures your garden receives the diversified plant-to-plant genetic exchange it needs.

And the bees need you, too—now more than ever. The latest reports from the Center for Biological Diversity show that our pollinators are in big trouble globally. An estimated 1 in 6 bee species is regionally extinct, while more than 40% of the remaining bee species are vulnerable to extinction.

So if you’re looking for something impactful you can do as a gardener, consider creating a bee sanctuary. We’ve put together this little guide of everything you’ll need to know to create the ultimate bee haven in your garden this season.

Choose bee-friendly plants

A bee collects pollen from a lavender flower.

(Getty Images)

The first step in transforming your garden into a bee sanctuary is to choose pollinator-friendly plants.

“Plants in the aster, mustard, legume, and rose families can feed honey bees,” says gardener and author Charlotte Ekker Wiggins. “Bees also get pollen and nectar from fruit and nut trees, most herbs, and some vegetables.”

Other garden favorites for bees include bee balm, echinacea, lavender, sunflowers, calendula, zinnias, and alyssum.

And culinary herbs like sage, thyme, borage, chives, dill, basil, oregano, rosemary, and mint also work well.

When in doubt, focus on planting pollinator-loving native plants, which your local bee population will easily find and recognize.

Plant early and late bloomers

Plant buckwheat at the end of the season in your garden.

(Getty Images)

You can also ensure an ample supply of food for the bees by incorporating plants that produce pollen throughout the growing season.

“​​Focus on things that bloom very early in spring and late in fall, as these are times when bees need the extra nectar and pollen,” says Jodie Kieliszewski of Bee Lovely Botanicals. “Plant buckwheat at the end of the season in your garden. It provides late-season nectar and pollen and is green manure for your garden.”

If you have a vegetable garden, let your broccoli and cauliflower go to seed at the end of the year.

As for early bloomers, consider planting colorful spring flowers like lilac and peonies.

Provide a water source

Use a shallow dish to provide bees with a water source.

(Getty Images)

Like most creatures, bees benefit from having a nearby water source. So if you happen to add one to your garden, it will be one more reason—besides all the delicious plants—for them to buzz by frequently.

“Use a shallow dish to provide bees with a water source,” suggests naturalist writer Haeley Giambalvo, of Native Backyards. “Fill a saucer from a terra-cotta pot with water, and add rocks to give bees a place to perch while they take a drink.”

Another good reason to add a bee-friendly water source to your garden: It will keep them from seeking out water (and sometimes drowning) in a nearby swimming pool.

Prune thoughtfully

Keep flower heads intact for as long as the bees seem interested.

(Getty Images)

Support your new pollinator friends by changing how you prune plants.

Although you might wish to rapidly deadhead any drooping flowers, keep in mind that the bees might still be feeding on them. So put down the pruning shears to let your flower heads stay intact for as long as the bees seem interested.

And consider keeping a few seed-bearing flower heads at the end of the growing season for the birds while you are at it.

Avoid pesticides

Instead of harmful pesticides, sprinkle diatomaceous earth (kieselguhr) powder for nontoxic organic insect repellent.

(Getty Images)

Harsh chemical fertilizers and pesticides won’t just kill the healthy bacteria in your soil (and pollute the waterways)—they’re also incredibly harmful to bees.

“Bees have been on the decline in recent years because of commercial overuse of pesticides, which directly affect bee survival,” says gardener and homesteader Ashley Christian, of Homestead Sweet Home. “You can positively impact bee health by choosing organic gardening and lawn care methods.”

If you follow the steps above, we promise you’ll be rewarded with a garden that will have everybody buzzing.


For this and similar articles, please visit Realtor.com