Whoa! You found the perfect home with most of your must-haves for a reasonable price! But then you click on the listing’s property details or a map, and your heart sinks. It turns out the house is on a busy road. Or next to a cemetery, near an airport, or across from a high school. Sigh.

At first glance, the location of homes like these could seem like too much—too loud, too busy, too traffic-heavy, or, well, too creepy.

After all, location is the most important factor when buying a home, right? The “better” the locale, the more likely a house will increase in value over time. But don’t write off a home in a “weird” location too quickly.

“There’s usually more than meets the eye,” says Eric Bramlett, a real estate professional and owner of Bramlett Residential in Austin, TX. “In fact, some people actually love these places because they come with some unexpected perks.”

If you’re an intrepid buyer, here are a few ways you can deal with the drawbacks of a home in an odd location.

A busy street

A typical street near downtown North Pittsburgh, PA

(Getty Images)

Living on a street with a speed limit waaaay over 25 mph or a reputation for being clogged with traffic does have some perks. Yes, perks!

For instance, you’re probably close to public transit, restaurants, and grocery stores, so your neighborhood will have a citylike feel.

You’ll likely also get more bang for your buck as a buyer, allowing you to purchase “a larger or more desirable property within your budget,” says Dino DiNenna, a real estate broker and certified residential specialist in Hilton Head Island, SC.

To deal with the traffic, “consider situating your bedroom on the quieter side of the home,” adds Ryan Fitzgerald, real estate professional and owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, NC. “Play around with furniture and living areas to maintain distance from the noise source.”

By a train track

A long cargo train passes through upstate Verplanck in Westchester County, NY.

(Getty Images)

Don’t automatically assume that a home near a train station is a bad investment.

Sure, you’ll still have to deal with a lot of noise, but soundproofing can help.

A few years ago, a client of Fitzgerald’s found a charming house near railway tracks.

“She was worried about the noise, but I urged her to keep an open mind,” says Fitzgerald. “The house was priced right and held the potential for transformation.”

Insulated windows and dense trees and shrubs planted along the property’s edge made a difference.

“They reduced noise and added an aesthetic touch,” says Fitzgerald.

For long-term relief, you can request that the Federal Railroad Administration make your community a “quiet zone.” If your application is approved, modifications will be added at nearby railroad crossings so that the locomotive horn doesn’t have to be blown quite so often.

Near an airport

A plane flying over the Queens residential district in New York City

(Getty Images)

Bramlett once knew someone who flew for work almost every other day.

“He thought living near the airport was awesome because he didn’t have to deal with long drives or rush-hour traffic,” he says.

Still, soundproofing for such homes is crucial. Surprisingly, the airport causing all the ruckus might even pick up the tab.

A number of airports have sound insulation programs to help reduce noise impact on nearby homes. You might qualify for helpful modifications to your windows, doors, ceilings, and HVAC system that could reduce the noise in your home by as much as 35 decibels. (Contact your local airport’s noise management department for more info.)

In the meantime, “anticipate and adjust your daily routines accordingly,” says DiNenna. “By aligning with periods of lower noise or disruption, it will become easier to make the most of the quieter times.”

Next to a highway

Homes near a highway in Northern California

(Getty Images)

Sure, you’ll have noise from the constant rush of traffic, “but that highway access can be a total game-changer for your daily commute,” says Bramlett.

If you don’t have an external noise barrier, consider putting in a fence or row of trees.

That “can help shield you from traffic pollution, not to mention give you some privacy,” Bramlett says.

Next, install soundproofing materials like double- or triple-paned windows, heavy curtains, door seals, and sound-absorbing wall panels.

You can also look into something called “sound masking.”

“White noise machines or fans can help mask external sounds by producing consistent, soothing background noise,” says DiNenna.

An indoor water feature or background music can also cover up the constant sound of cars.

By a school

Living near a school can have many benefits, such as lower speed limits and well-maintained surrounding areas.

(Getty Images)

Living next to a school has plenty of benefits: a lower speed limit, a well-maintained area (including sidewalks that get plowed during snow storms), and inclusion in a desirable school district that could bump up your home value.

With all that in mind, you might not mind possible drawbacks like school bells, bright street lights, and the occasional traffic jam at school drop-off and pickup.

But if and when issues arise, “collaborating with neighbors and local authorities can be effective,” says DiNenna. You could form a community group or neighborhood coalition to advocate for changes or improvements and speak up about things you don’t want.

Close to a cemetery

Make 'Weird' Work For You: Why a Home in an Odd Location Isn't a Dealbreaker
The median home price in neighborhoods near a graveyard is about 12% lower than similar homes in areas without a cemetery.

(Tim Graham/Getty Images)

Cemeteries get a bad rap for being creepy or depressing. Counterpoint: “They’re usually quiet, well-maintained spots,” says Bramlett. “They can be little havens of peace and greenery.”

And the median home price in neighborhoods near a graveyard is about 12% lower than similar homes in areas without a cemetery, according to research by Realtor.com®.

Plus, living next to a graveyard might not bother you so much if you lean into its unique aspects.

“Exploring the area’s history or engaging in activities related to the nearby landmarks can make the location feel more special,” says DiNenna.


For this and related articles, please visit Realtor.com

Wouldn’t it be great if you could say hello to your home renovation—and goodbye to your house at the same time? That would allow you to leave behind all that construction mess while your place gets a face-lift.

Alas, most of us can’t afford to pay for a mortgage and a long-term rental, leaving us to juggle trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy (and sanity) while living in a home during a renovation.

So whether you just moved into a new home that needs work or are finally tackling your long list of renovation projects, we put together a list of pro tips to help you survive a live-in renovation. Here are six expert insights you’ll want to know.

Renovation Survival Tactics: 6 Expert Tips for Remodeling Your Home (While Living in It)

1. Set a timeline

The first thing you’ll want to do when planning for a renovation is to set a start date—and an end date. Although it’s likely to change, having a rough timeline in place will help you track your project’s progress and help you plan financially (and logistically) for it.

“Figure out what needs to happen first,” says interior designer Raf Michalowski, of Meble Furniture. “Then plan out the order of renovations so that if something isn’t going as planned, it won’t affect the progress of other sections.”

For example, you might be on a tight timeline to finish the messier aspects of a renovation (like installing wood flooring) before your new furniture arrives.

Keeping realistic expectations of long projects will help you avoid snafus like a truckload of new furniture and nowhere clean to store it.

2. Break down large tasks

Start mapping out the big-picture tasks before your project truly kicks off. And then figure out the baby steps it takes to get there.

“It’s important to break down larger projects into smaller tasks and order them based on priority,” says DIY expert Tommy Mellow, of A1 Garage Door Service.

So if you’re redoing an entire kitchen with all new appliances, map out where they will go (and what electric or plumbing work needs to be done to accommodate them) before you start building cabinets or painting walls.

3. Prep your space

Whenever you’re renovating a space while living in it, it’s essential to ensure the projects don’t affect your daily life more than necessary.

“You can prepare for the dust and noise by covering furniture and sealing off areas of the home,” says Mellow.

To protect your home, invest in protective plastic barriers like ZipWall (which is just what it sounds like). These handy plastic dividers will help contain the mess to just the areas under construction.

Other ideas include getting throwaway booties (to avoid messy footprints) or strategically placing mats for wiping dirty shoes.

“Also, communicate with your contractors to ensure that the project stays on track and that you have access to the areas of the home that you need,” says Mellow.

So don’t renovate every single bathroom in your home all at once. And make sure you have spaces to eat, work, and rest.

4. Plan your work wisely

Another critical aspect of keeping your project on schedule while maintaining some semblance of a regular schedule? Planning when and how the work will happen.

“Schedule noisy or disruptive tasks when they will least affect your daily routine,” advises DIYer Benas Leonavicius, of Home Caprice. “And remember, it’s OK to take breaks and step away from the project when needed. Your home is still your home, not just a construction site.”

Besides keeping noisy tasks time-boxed, it’s also a good idea to think about big-picture stuff, like any holidays or life events. Remodeling projects can often be delayed by several weeks, depending on product and contractor availability. So don’t plan to host Thanksgiving dinner the week after your dining room is scheduled to be completed!

5. Keep it safe

Don’t lose track of your overall health and safety when you enter the trenches of a long home project.

This might be as simple as wearing protective gear or keeping tools and toxic chemicals away from pets and kids.

“And ensure that your contractors are cleaning up after themselves and not leaving loose nails all around your home,” says home expert Stephane Achille, of House and Tech. “Also, get the air purifier up and running. A high-capacity air purifier is an essential investment for any remodeling projects that include putting up new walls or taking them down.”

6. Find accommodations in advance

If you plan to have any work done that involves painting or other chemical fumes, it’s a good idea to sleep elsewhere for a few nights. You can save some money (and stress) by making these plans ahead of time. Talk to friends or family who can host you, or consider booking a hotel.

“For some remodeling projects like floor refinishing, it may not be feasible to live in your home while the work is taking place,” says Achille. “The smell of the varnish is unbearable.”

Coordinate with your contractors to better understand when specific tasks will take place, then schedule your absences around that. Try to book your stay with hotels with free cancellation policies. That way, you can avoid paying any additional fees if plans change.


For this and related articles, please visit Realtor.com

Bathroom design depends on a lot of things: the materials used, the color scheme, and, of course, the overall layout. (No hard-to-reach toilet paper rolls, please!)

But sometimes, what makes or breaks a bathroom all depends on one of our favorite materials—tile. This week, we searched far and wide on Instagram to find the absolute best, most inspiring looks that are, you guessed it, positively decked out in tile.

Whether you’re looking for a mood board for your upcoming bathroom remodel or just seeking some fresh inspiration for your design-obsessed Pinterest, these five looks are top of their class. Here are five times tile was anything but boring—and absolutely overtook bathroom design.

1. Green subway tiles

For a daring foray into tiling that will instantly define the vibe in your bathroom (or create a memorable guest bathroom), check out this glossy green subway tile look from @breezegiannasio.

“This is no ordinary subway tile,” says Megan Nelson of Nest with the Nelsons. “I’m a sucker for adding a little pop of green in any design. These tiles totally rule the show, while keeping this bathroom lively and upbeat without going over the top—green and serene!”

Get the look: Go for verdant vibes with this Antic Verde ceramic subway tile.

2. Ombre rose backsplash

Another color-infused look we love when it comes to tiling that’s anything but boring is this ombre pink marble backsplash from @claire.totman.designs. The ombre fad may have faded, but this design shows us just why (and how) it’s making a comeback.

“Ombre got far too trendy and unpolished with cheap peel-and-stick wall murals,” says Devin Shaffer of Decorilla. “When you scale down the effect and make it less obvious—like with these ombre tiles applied in a herringbone pattern—it becomes more stately and sophisticated.”

Get the look: Create a vanity look that adds a classic edge to the ombre trend by opting for a backsplash in Color One Terra Blend cement and lava stone tiles.

3. Big-check floors

Speaking of stately bathroom design, it doesn’t get any more traditional (or refined) than a big-check tile floor like this one from @jefftrotterdesign.

“Tiles keep getting bigger and bigger, and I fully support that,” says Shaffer. “The larger the tile, the fewer grout lines you have, which looks cleaner and more architectural. This look is here to stay: scaled-up classic black and white checkered patterns with super high-end materials.”

Get the look: Go big or go home with a few boxes of Affinity tile.

4. Art deco floor tiles

When you want to bring the class and the funk, look no further than this art deco-inspired floor tile from @designerfloors.

“Anyone else hear the angels singing when they see this bathroom?” asks Nelson. “Art deco meets extreme glam to bring a totally luxurious experience in this primary suite. The movement of the tile paired with the luxe look of the marble is the icing on the cake.”

The best part about this look? It works equally well when paired with minimalist or maximalist bathroom decor.

Get the look: Infuse your bathroom with some heavenly magic with this VZAG Nero black, gold, and white marble mosaic tile.

5. Floor-to-ceiling neutrals

Who says neutrals mean boring? This all-over neutral tile look from @co_architecture_au is anything but dull.

“When the same finishes are used both on the floor and walls, you’ll feel far more in control of the cleanliness of your bathroom,” says Shaffer. “And what’s even better is that neutrals complement nearly all metallics used on hardware—which allows for subtle or bold selections.”

Get the look: Keep a clean (and stylish) bathroom with this Easton Summit handmade clay tile.


For this and related articles, please visit Realtor.com

Keeping your home safe and secure for years can often seem overwhelming. A home safety checklist can be useful for those looking to keep their homes protected and retain their value.

A home safety checklist is a list of tasks to help ensure the safety and security of your home. It’s important for homeowners to identify safety hazards, reduce risks, and flag any necessary repairs.

Home safety tips will largely depend on the home itself, the occupants, and its location. Identifying broad areas that could be useful for your home safety checklist is the first step. You can add items specific to your home depending on what is needed.

A home safety checklist should cover fire safety, electric safety, home security, first-aid, child safety, senior safety, and outdoor safety.

Fire Safety

Fire safety is essential in helping homeowners identify potential hazards and mitigate risks. Fires can cause serious damage to property and threaten the safety and well-being of those living in the home.

Fire safety measures include:

  • Regularly check smoke alarms
  • Check fire extinguishers
  • Identify potential fire hazards
  • Install and maintain sprinklers
  • Place barriers around fireplaces
  • Install fire-resistant materials in the home, including windows, doors, and roofing materials
  • Check electrical systems and appliances, being careful not to overload electrical outlets

Electrical Safety

Another essential part of the home safety checklist is electrical safety. Faulty wiring and electrical systems can wreak havoc on a home. They can seriously threaten those living in the house and the house itself. Having electrical safety as part of your home safety checklist can protect you and your home from harm.

  • Check outlets, electrical cords, and appliances for damage such as frayed wires and damaged cables. Consider items such as water heaters, stovetops, and space heaters.
  • Check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers.
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in areas where there is water. GFCIs can prevent electrical shocks in wet or damp conditions.
  • Have your home inspected and cleared for electrical safety against building codes and safety standards.

Home Security

Keeping your home secure isn’t just about what happens inside the house but what is happening outside your home. Keeping your home safe from burglaries, thefts, and home intrusions is vital. Your home security checklist should include:

  • Check locks to make sure they are functioning and not easily tampered with.
  • Install and maintain security systems, including cameras, alarms, and motion detectors around the perimeter of the home.
  • Keep entry points well-lit with appropriate and adequate lighting.

First-Aid and Emergency Safety

First aid and emergency preparedness are crucial components of any homeowner’s safety plan to keep occupants in the home protected. Have items on hand to treat injuries before emergency services arrive.

  • Create an escape plan in case of home emergencies.
  • Keep emergency contact information at hand, such as emergency services, poison control, family members, and neighbors.
  • Keep first-aid items in the home to treat minor injuries, such as bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, and ointments.
  • Stock up on emergency supplies in case of natural disasters and power outages. Consider items such as flashlights, batteries, a portable radio, and a supply of food and water.

Child Safety

A large part of caring for children is keeping their home safe. Children have unique needs, and your home safety checklist should reflect that. You’ll need to consider what items to keep out of reach of children so that they can stay safe, including:

  • Secure cabinets and drawers with safety latches and childproof locks. Prioritize those that store items like cleaning products and kitchen utensils.
  • Install window guards, childproof locks, doorknob covers on doors, and safety gates at the tops and bottoms of stairways.
  • Remove tripping hazards such as loose rugs or exposed wires, and place covers on unused electrical outlets.
  • Keep dangerous items such as sharp objects or cleaning supplies away from reach.
  • Keep a first-aid kit ready and available.

Senior Safety

If you or a relative are seniors, there are special considerations you’ll want when it comes to home safety. Consider these additions to your home, including:

  • Install grab bars and no-sips mats in the bathroom and shower to prevent falls.
  • Remove obstacles such as rugs that could encourage tripping.
  • Keep stairways well-lit with secure handrails.

Outdoor Safety

Home safety should also include outdoor protection, which is where an outdoor safety checklist can come in handy. The amount of work will depend on the size of your yard and the types of amenities you have available. Your outdoor safety checklist should include:

  • Regularly inspect walkways, driveways, and outdoor stairs. Ensure they are in good condition and free of any cracks or other hazards.
  • Remove any tripping hazards such as toys, equipment, or decorative items to minimize risks of falling or accidents.
  • Keep outdoor areas well-lit by installing outdoor lighting fixtures or replacing bulbs in existing fixtures.
  • Secure outdoor furniture to prevent damage from severe weather.
  • If you store a spare key, consider getting a combination lock or avoid predictable hiding places.
  • Keep swimming pools covered when not in use.
  • Ensure outdoor play toys such as swing sets and trampolines are only used with permission and adult supervision.

Going through each section of the home safety checklist will assist in keeping your family safe throughout the year. Be sure to use this as a guide and add items that may be unique to your home and family situation.


For this and related articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Wallpaper has come a long way. The latest modern patterns are hot among design trendsetters. So if you’re dying to deck your walls in some jazzy pattern, you’ll want to learn how to hang wallpaper. It’s not hard, but it’s also not something you want to wing without a little guidance first (especially since it can be difficult to remove wallpaper). So, heed this advice to get it right on your first whirl.

Tools and materials you’ll need:

  • Wallpaper (Measure your room first to see how much you need, then add about 10% extra for pattern matching.)
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter with extra blades
  • Sanding pad or paper
  • Wallpaper primer
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Roller to apply the paste
  • Large table covered in a plastic tablecloth or dropcloth

How to Hang Wallpaper: A DIY Guide for This Hot Home Trend

Step 1: Prep the walls

Check your walls to make sure they’re clean and smooth. Fill in holes, and if you find any roughness, sand it back. Next, prime the walls with a wallpaper primer. This is also called sizing the walls, although it has nothing to do with measuring. You do this the same way you apply paint, with an even coat of primer across the entire surface. If you can see through your wallpaper, use a white primer; if you’re hanging dark wallpaper, it helps to tint your primer the same color.

Step 2: Cut your wallpaper strips

Measure your walls from ceiling to base, then cut your first length of wallpaper plus 4 to 5 inches extra, so you can later trim the top and bottom to fit exactly. For solid or vertical-striped wallpaper, you can continue cutting strips the same way. If you’re working with a pattern, there’s another important step: Before you cut your next piece, align it with your first piece to make sure the pattern will match or continue when the strips are hung next to each other. You may need to trim a few inches before measuring out the next piece to make sure the pattern matches. Do the same for all of your lengths.

how to lay wallpaper align pattern
Align the pattern in the next strip of wallpaper.

(Mahones Wallpaper Shop/YouTube)

Also, odds are you will need to cut one skinnier strip of wallpaper to fit in one corner. If you can, plan to hang that sheet of trimmed wallpaper in a less conspicuous place, like behind the door, so it’s less noticeable. You will then start hanging the wallpaper starting from the opposite corner. Or, if you want your pattern to have a center focal point, you can start in the center and move toward the outer edges (which means you could end up with two skinny strips instead of one).

Step 3: Paste and book your paper

If you’re using unpasted paper, apply paste to the top half of your strip with a roller. Then fold the newly pasted paper over from the top to the midpoint, sticky sides together, taking care to not crease the fold. It will stick to itself, but it’s not hard to pull apart later. This is called “booking,” which allows the paste time to expand and get stickier before you place the strip on the wall (check your wallpaper label for recommended booking time, typically five to 15 minutes). Once the top half of your strip is booked, repeat the process for the bottom.

Once the paste is applied, fold the wallpaper over on itself so the sticky sides are together, which will easily come apart once you place the strip on the wall.

(Mahones Wallpaper Shop/YouTube)

“The paste will typically dry permanently in 24 to 48 hours, which gives you plenty of time to hang it and make any necessary changes,” says Kassin Adelman, founder and CEO of IDF Studio in San Francisco.

If all of this is already starting to sound messy and complicated, you have another option: “Buying a self-adhesive wallpaper will make your life much easier,” says Adelman. “There are so many great options like Joss & Main, or a removable version from Tempaper that isn’t permanent and can be used in rentals or rooms you may want to change more often.”

Step 4: Apply paper to the wall

Before you put your paper on the wall, remove any outlet and switch covers. (You should cut power while doing so, just to be safe.) You will be laying the paper over the outlets, then cutting them out later and placing the covers back on at the end.

Place your first strip flush to one corner of the wall with about an inch of overlap at the top (which you will trim off later). Once your paper is placed right, use your hands to press the sheet to the wall and smooth it from the top down.

“By starting at the top, you have gravity on your side, which makes the process easier,” says Adelman. By the time you reach the bottom, you should have an inch or two of extra paper to trim later.

Once the first strip is down, repeat the process with the next, making sure that your pattern aligns if that’s your goal.

Step 5: Cut to fit

Once all your wallpaper is in place, use your box cutter to carefully cut around any electrical outlets, as well as the extra paper off the top and bottom. Place the outlet and switch covers back on, and you should be in business!


For this and similar articles, please visit Realtor.com

When you’re selling your home, there’s so much to do: find a Realtor®, do touch-ups, get that balky air conditioner fixed, look into staging, etc. It’s no wonder that sometimes things fall between the cracks. Big things. (We’re not pointing fingers!)

Our arsenal of experts—aka real estate agents who have worked with many home sellers—identify the to-do’s that sellers typically overlook. We promise you, these tasks are well worth the time it will take to complete them, which isn’t very long at all.

Heed this sound advice, and there’s a good chance selling your house won’t be nearly as stressful as everyone tells you it is.

1. Google your address

Not all sellers scour the internet to find out what’s being said about their property, but they should. Nearly all buyers—90%—search online during their hunt for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

You should be aware of what your online listing looks like, since it will influence the kinds of concerns buyers will have, says Avery Boyce, a Realtor® with Compass Real Estate in Washington, DC.

“Is the site’s estimated value very different from your asking price? It might be because tax records have the wrong information about the number of bedrooms or bathrooms your house has, and this is easily fixed,” Boyce says.

There’s another factor to consider with cars constantly mapping our world. Google Maps’ street view of your property may not show improvements that you’ve made, so you’ll want to be sure to include those updates in your listing.

7 Important Things Home Sellers Often Forget To Do

2. Account for improvements and issues

“If you’ve owned your home for a while, make a list of all the problems you’ve solved while you’ve lived there,” says Boyce.

This could include chimney fires, water damage, or a flood in the basement. Whether you solved the problem or not, you should disclose this information to the buyer so you don’t wind up in a lawsuit after the sale.

Disclosing “invisible improvements” that you’ve made, like regrading or adding a French drain system, can also be a great source of comfort for buyers, adds Boyce.

“The same goes for sewer lines or tanks, radon remediation, or leaky skylights,” says Boyce.

3. Check your real estate agent’s references

An agent’s bad behavior or incompetence could cost you time, money, and peace of mind, so it’s well worth taking extra steps to find the best real estate agent for you. Ask friends for recommendations.

Check that the people you’re considering have a current real estate license—with no complaints filed against them. Meet with the agent, and reach out to a few of their references directly.

“Real estate agents should be happy to provide a number of references for a new client to call,” says Marianne Leonard Cashman, a Realtor with William Raveis Real Estate in Andover, MA. As far as talking to your friends about a real estate agent recommendation, here are some questions Cashman suggests asking:

  • Did you have confidence in your real estate agent?
  • Do you think he/she had good knowledge of the local market?
  • Did your agent communicate well and keep you informed during the entire transaction?
  • Do you think that he/she negotiated well on your behalf?
  • Did your agent have good vendors who could assist you?
  • Did your agent return calls/emails in a timely fashion?
  • Would you recommend this person? Why? (Or why not?)

4. Insist on social media marketing

You staged your home beautifully, picked a competitive price, and listed the property, but there’s something else you’ll need to prepare before you’re fully ready to sell: a social media marketing plan. Video tours, floor plans, and photo galleries promoted on Facebook and Instagram are must-do’s, advises Cashman.

“You want to make sure that your agent is using all avenues to attract the right buyer for your home,” she explains. “Make sure your home has a presence on your agent’s website, their agency’s website, and is promoted on various sites that will market the home and give information about open houses.”

5. Make sure the doorbell rings

Ah, attention to detail. It’s those little cosmetic repairs that could cost you your home sale. If buyers see that you can’t even be bothered to repair a busted doorbell, they’re automatically going to think about what else may need fixing and view the home negatively.

“First impressions make all the difference,” says Cashman. “A well-kept home, starting with the view from the curb, gives the perception that the seller has great pride in the home and has taken good care of it—which translates into less energy and costs for the buyer as they prepare to move in.”

6. Clean inside everything

Storage is a huge selling point for homes. So be warned: Buyers are going to poke around inside closets, drawers, cabinets, ovens, refrigerators, and even the dishwasher, whether they’re cleaned or not—so you’d better make sure they are clean.

“Spending the money on a service to deep-clean your home will come back to you at least 10 times in your sales price,” says Boyce.

Even if you’ve swept up and scrubbed all surfaces to a shine, you’re not done until dust, crumbs, and creepy crawlies are cleaned out from within the small spaces, too.

7. Clarify which items are not included

You don’t want a buyer to fall in love with your house because of the custom window treatments and then rescind their offer when they find out the curtains aren’t for sale.

“The law says that anything bolted to the wall or ceiling goes to the buyer unless specifically excluded in the contract,” says Boyce. “If you want to take your flat-screen TV, chandelier, or custom pot rack, be sure to label it as soon as the house goes on the market, so that buyers don’t bank on owning that item and wind up disappointed.”


For this and related articles, please visit Realtor.com

When the temperature tumbles and golden leaves fall, there’s a good chance your plumbing might start to give you some trouble. To get ahead of any plumbing issues, it’s a good idea to start taking some preventive measures before Old Man Winter knocks at your door.

“Fall is a great time to check for any plumbing damages and make any necessary repairs,” says Michael Green, vice president of operations for Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.

During the fall season, your home may suffer from water heater problems, clogged drainage, a stuck garbage disposal, or a frozen pipe. But to help you focus your maintenance efforts, here are a few of the more common plumbing problems you might see around your house.

6 Common Plumbing Problems That Could Plague You This Fall

1. Cluttered gutters

Nothing says fall like a pile of leaves. But you don’t want those leaves to settle into your home’s gutters.

“Full gutters can lead to a host of problems, including roof damage and foundation issues or cracks,” says Green.

To prevent these issues, grab your ladder and thick gloves and get to work clearing out those gutters. Make sure to take a bucket with a small shovel to remove debris and other gunk. Then, rinse the gutters with a hose and inspect them—along with downspouts—for damage or cracks.

2. Clogged cleanouts

The cleanout is found close to the home and provides access to plumbing through an outside pipe that typically sticks out of the ground.

“When the leaves fall, they can fall into the cleanout if the cap or cover is damaged or opened. These leaves can cause a backup of water flow, causing a plumbing issue,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing.

Homeowners may require a professional camera inspection and drain snaking to ensure there’s no obstruction.

“You will also want to make sure the cleanout cap is not cracked or broken to avoid debris from entering the cleanout,” says James.

3. Unclean sump pump

The sump pump’s filter screen can collect debris in the fall, such as mud, leaves, and pebbles—which can lead to clogs, premature pump shut-off, or even standing water in the basement.

“A quick visual inspection should let you know whether or not the sump pump is working and if there’s a problem,” says Green. “Catching it early is crucial.”

The easiest way to determine if your sump pump is unclean is by slowly pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit. If it automatically starts up, everything’s fine. If not, it’s time to do some maintenance.

“Wipe the filter clean, unplug the sump pump, and carry it outside, along with the drain,” Green advises. “Disconnect the drain line, and use a hose to flush out any debris or clogs. Then, flush the entire unit with water.”

Clean the entire sump pit, and then put it back in. Then, pour a bucket of water into the pit to ensure the system is working.

“It’s best to do this before the winter snow sets in,” says Green.

4. Root intrusion

After a drought season, root intrusion can be a problem.

“The first heavy rain of the season can cause tree roots to grow and stretch out as they search for water,” says James. “These roots may penetrate cracks in plumbing pipes and block the water draining from the fixtures in the home as they flow to the main sewer line.”

If you have large trees on your property, you may need to call in a plumbing professional who can perform a camera inspection and drain snaking to remove the obstruction.

5. Small or hidden leaks

Did an especially rainy day cause a small leak in your living room? Don’t ignore it!

“It can be easy to write off small leaks in your home,” Green says, “but they can be dangerous. If there’s a hidden leak in the plumbing system, water could seep into areas with electric wiring, and wiring sparks could start a fire.”

Watch out for unexpectedly high water bills or discolored spots after a rainy day that may indicate a leak. If you do suspect you have a leak, call a plumber who can diagnose the problem.

6. Garden hose mishaps

It’s easy to forget to put away garden hoses in the hope of one last gasp of summer temps. But neglecting to put them away before temps dip could spell trouble.

“Make sure all garden hoses are detached, and if the outdoor spigots are not freeze-proof, protect them with at least a foam cover to avoid the potential of freezing, bursting, and flooding,” says James.


For this and similar articles, please visit Realtor.com

Everybody makes mistakes, but a low credit score shouldn’t cost you your dreams of homeownership.

Even if your credit history prevents you from securing a traditional mortgage, there are many loan programs available for those with less-than-stellar credit. Here’s how to buy a house with bad credit, along with some tips to improve your credit score for the future.

What Is a Bad Credit Score?

Your credit score is a three-digit number that reflects your history of on-time bill payments, unpaid debt, and available credit. Your FICO score — named for the Fair Isaac Corporation — will range from 300 to 850, with higher numbers reflecting good credit.

According to Experian, “bad” credit is any score below 580, though the scores can be broken down as follows:

  • Exceptional: 800-850
  • Very Good: 740-799
  • Good: 670-739
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Poor: 300-579
A family laughing

Not sure where you fall on this list? It may be time to check your credit.

Each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) will provide you with a free annual credit report. Checking your report once per year will not affect your score, and it can show you what you need to work on in the future.

What Is the Lowest Credit Score to Buy a House?

Can you buy a home with bad credit? Absolutely, though your spending power and other factors will depend on your lender and loan program.

Most lenders expect a credit score of at least 620 for a conventional mortgage, but you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500. Keep in mind, though, that the best interest rates and loan terms will still go to those with strong credit.

Why do credit scores matter so much? Mortgage lenders are looking for borrowers who can be expected to repay their loans in full. The lower your credit, the more risk the lender takes on by loaning you money. A higher interest rate is designed to mitigate that risk.

Still, it’s possible to purchase a house with bad credit, even if you’ve made some mistakes in the past. You’ll just need to find a lender who offers the right loan program for your needs and budget.

Loan Programs

CCM offers a broad selection of home financing products to make sure there is a solution for every lifestyle and personal situation.


Credit Scores for Mortgage Loan Types

The actual credit score requirements vary based on the mortgage loan type. Here are some of the most common types of mortgage loans, along with their credit requirements.

Conventional Loan Minimum Credit Score

Conventional loans (also called “traditional loans”) offer some of the best terms and interest rates. However, to qualify, you’ll typically need at least a 620 credit score.

With that being said, some lenders can help you buy a home if your score is lower than that. You can improve your chances by offering a higher down payment, for example, or by taking out a loan that’s significantly smaller than your loan amount.

Of course, buying a house with bad credit usually means a higher interest rate. While most buyers prefer a conventional loan due to its favorable rates and terms, buyers with weak credit may want to consider other loan options that offer a balance between eligibility requirements and loan terms.

USDA Loan Minimum Credit Score

USDA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Depending on the lender, you may need a credit score of 640 or better, though this can vary depending on other economic factors.

The advantage of USDA loans is that they don’t require any down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI) payments. There is a required USDA loan guarantee fee that is 1% of the loan amount. The catch is that qualifying homes must be located in approved rural or suburban areas.

FHA Loan Minimum Credit Score

FHA loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and can be ideal for those with less-than-stellar credit. An FHA loan can even be used with a 500 credit score, though some specific rates, down payment, and terms come into play.

For instance, if your credit score is 500-580, you’ll need to make at least a 10% down payment to secure an FHA loan; however, if your credit score is 580 or above, you can put down as little as 3.5%.

Just be aware that with FHA loans, you’ll have to pay for mortgage insurance premium (MIP), which will be rolled into your monthly mortgage premiums.

VA Loan Minimum Credit Score

Backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans are ideal for those looking for a home loan with no down payment requirement.

These loans are offered through private lenders, which means you might face credit score requirements.

As long as you’re a current or former member of the U.S. Military (or the spouse of one), you may be eligible for a VA loan with no down payment or PMI payments but there is a funding fee.

What Happens if You Can’t Qualify for a Mortgage Loan?

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t qualify for the first mortgage you apply for — buying a house with bad credit may take persistence and resourcefulness. If your credit score is below 600, you might want to look into specialized loan programs such as VA loans or FHA loans.

If your credit score is under 500, you may need to take some time to improve it before you’re financially ready to buy a home. While it’s never pleasant to see your dreams delayed, the good news is you’ll have more time to save for a down payment, which can improve your chances when buying a house with bad credit.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Before you buy a house, you might want to check your credit score with at least one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. This will at least let you know what kind of loan program you qualify for or show you areas where you can improve.

Improving your credit can take time, but it’s worth it. Here are some common ways to boost your credit and increase your chances of qualifying for a home loan.

Check for Errors

The fastest way to improve your credit is to check your credit report for errors.

Removing an error from your credit history can improve your score dramatically, though it can take a few months to take full effect. That’s why it’s smart to check for errors regularly so you can correct them right away.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Your payment history has a major impact on your credit score. Make it a point to pay your bills on time to avoid dings on your credit score. Automated payments and electronic reminders can ensure that you keep up with your payments and improve your score over time.

Keep an Eye on Your Available Credit

Even though you may be below your credit limit, your credit card balance can still lower your credit score. This is known as your “credit utilization ratio.” Once you exceed 25-30%, you can expect to see a dip in your credit.

For example, if you have a credit limit of $5,000, you’ll need to keep your balance below $1,500 to avoid hurting your credit.

Increase Your Credit Mix

Having multiple types of credit can improve your score. Paying both credit cards and car loans, for example, improves your credit mix, which accounts for 10% of your overall credit score.

Avoid Hard Credit Inquiries

When you apply for certain types of loans, the lender will perform a hard credit pull. Each time this happens, it can lower your overall credit score. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable when you’re seeking pre-approval on a mortgage. But by minimizing the total number of hard credit checks, you can avoid reductions in your credit.


For this and related information, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Warm weather usually brings out the barbecues, beach trips, and homebuyers in droves. But for this particular home shopping season, many buyers might feel like they’re on the fence.

Homebuyer ambivalence is high for good reason: On the one hand, buyers might be encouraged to hear that last year’s red-hot seller’s market, with its bidding wars and over-asking offers, has finally ebbed. On the other hand, mortgage rates are a full percentage point higher than last year, eating up potential savings. Combined with a bumpy economic forecast, it’s understandable that some homebuyers are hesitant to forge ahead.

“Currently, there are fewer buyers in the market because of rising interest rates and uncertainty in the market,” confirms Ralph DiBugnara, mortgage banker, real estate investor, and president of Home Qualified in New York City. Nonetheless, he points out that conditions have been improving for buyers, so right now is actually “a better time to buy than the [first half] of 2023.”

Realtor.com® chief economist Danielle Hale agrees with this assessment, saying that while it’s by no means a buyer’s market, the state of real estate has shifted to a more “buyer-friendly direction.”

5 Solid Reasons To Buy a House Now, Despite High Rates—and 2 Reasons To Wait

Reasons to buy a house now

Ultimately, whether now is the right time for you to buy a home will boil down to a number of economic and personal factors. If you need help deciding, here are some reasons why it makes sense to buy a house now.

1. There are more homes for sale

Just a year earlier, the supply of housing was at such record lows that competition for the few houses out there was brutal. Since then, housing inventory has grown, with 50% more homes on the market today. Even better, the supply of homes for sale tends to hit its seasonal high point in May.

“Spring is typically the peak season for new listings, meaning there will be a larger selection of homes,” says Martin Boonzaayer, CEO of The Trusted Home Buyer in Phoenix. “This can increase the chances of finding a home that meets your needs and preferences.”

Keep in mind that while inventory is higher than last year, it’s still far below pre-COVID-19 levels, and many of these listings are stale, with fewer new sellers coming on the market.

The reason: According to a recent Realtor.com survey, 82% of potential home sellers feel “locked in” their current home due to a low mortgage rate.

Nonetheless, with plenty of homes for sale compared with a year earlier, buyers should have a relatively better shopping experience, particularly if they are willing to overlook a few flaws and drive a hard bargain.

2. Home prices may be heading south soon

Listing prices reached a record high of $449,000 last June, and while they’re still higher now than they were a year earlier, these numbers are poised to decline soon.

“The increase in inventory has been big enough to slow home price increases,” says Hale. Plus, buyers should take heart that listing prices are just a starting point, and sellers are willing to settle for less these days. In fact, the final sales price of homes has already declined annually in both March and April.

“Overall, home prices are trending lower,” agrees Rick Arvielo, co-founder and CEO of New American Funding, a privately owned mortgage company. “After the unprecedented increases in home pricing over the last two years, we are seeing the froth coming off some markets that saw home prices increase significantly. This is very market-specific, but for the most part, reasonable reductions are trending.”

Even lowballing, which would have been laughable a year earlier, could work with motivated sellers whose properties have been stuck on the market for a while, so make sure to check a home’s days on the market and negotiate accordingly.

3. Interest rates are poised to decline this year, too

Given the U.S. Federal Reserve isn’t expected to announce another significant interest rate hike anytime soon, many experts say that mortgage rates, like home prices, have likely reached their apex. So buyers should not worry too much that rates will rise higher.

“We’ve seen the highest mortgage rates we are likely to see for some time,” says Hale, who expects mortgage rates to stabilize in the short term, and then begin dropping by late summer and early fall. “I don’t think we’ll see a fast decline from here, but rather a gradual easing.”

“Mortgage interest rates are expected to hover at around 6% for 2023,” says Nick Ron, founder and CEO of House Buyers of America. That’s unless something dramatic happens with either inflation or the job market.

“When you consider that rates reached 16.63% in 1981, our current rates do not look bad,” adds Ron. “And if rates do fall several points, you can refinance.”

Eminlee Wang, a real estate agent with FlyHomes in Dallas, predicts that rates should stick somewhere between 6% and 7%, adding that many mortgage companies are making it easier to refinance in the future if and when rates drop.

“Many mortgage companies are meeting the moment with products that allow their customers to buy now and then refinance for free in the future,” she says.

Consumers should always do their research and make sure there are no hidden fees or timeline requirements to those refinancing deals, she advises.

4. Homes are taking longer to sell

In the past few years, homes in hot markets were selling so fast, buyers couldn’t even see the place before it was snapped up.

“During the pandemic, nearly one-third of new listings went into contract within hours or days,” recalls Wang.

But this whiplash pace has slowed considerably. In April 2022, homes spent 49 days on the market, which is 17 days longer than last year.

The reason for this slowdown: Everyone is waiting and hoping for either interest rates to drop or home prices to go down.

“This has meant that the limited number of homes which are on the market are sitting for longer,” says Wang.

This means buyers need no longer rush into a deal out of desperation, but can take their time to compare their options and negotiate a better deal.

“Buyers are more in the driver’s seat than they were just 12 to 18 months ago,” says Ron. “Demand is not what it was, so sellers are more likely to be flexible.”

5. It’s the right time for you and your family

Sometimes, the reasons you’re buying a house are out of your control. Perhaps you’re moving due to a job change or other extenuating circumstances. So while interest rates and high home prices are challenging affordability for many potential homebuyers, it’s important not to try too hard to time the market and let it dictate what you do, especially if moving makes sense for your life right now.

“The best time to buy or sell is specific to you and your needs,” says Ashley Farrell, a real estate agent with The Corcoran Group in Westhampton Beach, NY. “Evaluate your life and the trajectory of your next few chapters. For naysayers on high mortgage rates, those are temporary. Date the rate, and marry the house!”

“A good real estate agent and lender can help you figure out a strategy to lower your interest rate,” says Delaney Juarez, a real estate agent with Keller Williams City View in San Antonio, TX. “So don’t let that be a reason you put off a move that you really want or need to make.”

Reasons to hold off on buying a house

While there are some good reasons to jump into the housing market right now, there are also a few things to consider that might mean you’re better off waiting to buy a house.

1. You’re maxing out your budget

Inflation was still up 4.9% year over year in April, eating into homebuyers’ budgets. So if mortgage rates have you stretched thin financially, then it might be best to wait and allow mortgage rates to steady or even come down before buying a house.

“If interest rates have risen to a level that would strain your budget and make homeownership unaffordable, it might be wise to wait until rates become more favorable or until you can improve your financial situation,” says Chase Michels, real estate agent with The Michels Group Compass in Downers Grove, IL.

Since interest rates change so often, potential homebuyers can and should rate-test their budgets regularly by plugging their income and debts into an online home affordability calculator.

2. Your future is uncertain

The country is sitting in a relatively unpredictable economic situation at the moment, so if your own future is unclear and you don’t have to move, waiting might be the safer option—especially if you aren’t settled in your job or sure you plan to live in an area for more than a year or two.

“If you have the flexibility to wait and are not in immediate need of a home, you can take the time to save more money for a larger down payment, improve your credit score, or explore other neighborhoods or housing options that may become available in the future,” Michels says.


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