Have you caught the tidy bug yet? A new year brings a great opportunity to tidy up your living space, especially if you are looking to make a move this year!

Dealing with clutter in your home can not only ease your mind and increase your enjoyment of your living space, but it is also critical if you’re making a transition in your living arrangement.

  • If you are moving in with someone and will be combining two households worth of items, decluttering beforehand will make the final unpacking that much easier
  • If you are putting your house on the market, decluttering could be a deal maker! Many people agree that an open house should have as few personal artifacts as possible, to allow the prospective buyer a clean slate to imagine living there
  • If you are downsizing to a smaller home, decluttering will ensure the new space is not crammed with ‘stuff’
  • If you are looking for a fresh change in your home, decluttering is the least expensive and most impactful change you can make before thinking about new paint colors or furniture

 

If you are in need of some inspiration, look no further than the new Netflix special, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. If you subscribe to her method of decluttering, you can soon find yourself ridding your life of belongings that no longer spark joy. Donate clothes that haven't been worn in years, books that will never be read, VHS tapes that have no way to be watched – you get the picture!

When you do feel inspired to organize throughout your home, you may find your space in need of new storage solutions. Many stores offer deals this time of year on bins, buckets, modular shelves, etc. Check out your local or online Michaels craft store, Target, Ikea, or the Container Store.

Posted in:General
Posted by Audra Santos on January 18th, 2019 4:25 PM

Pantone Living Coral makes for a beautiful and modern accent wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Whether you’re buying, selling, or staying put, the color in a home can be very important. Even the most neutral palettes need an accent to draw your eye, or a color to define a room as ‘serene’ or ‘energetic’. We love the 2019 Color of the Year picks. Here are some of our favorites:

PANTONE: Living Coral 16-1546 [Click Here]

"An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge."

BENJAMIN MOORE: Metropolitan AF-690 [Click Here]

"A stylish gray with cool undertones."

SHERWIN WILLIAMS: Cavern Clay SW 7701 [Click Here]

"A warm terracotta color with ancient, elemental roots, Cavern Clay is a nod to midcentury modern style, but with the soul of the American Southwest, which together create the desert modern aesthetic.”

BEHR: Blueprint S470-5 [Click Here]

"An honest, approachable color that conjures up the blueprints builders rely on to bring architectural designs to life, Blueprint creates a space where you can build your own reimagined life—where awareness of what we want to build for ourselves can transform into action."

Once you’ve picked your favorite 2019 Color of the Year, venture over to the links we provided next to each color swatch to see the inspired pallets  from each of the vendors. They’ve done the hard part of picking colors to match, and your home will be so on trend!

If you are not ready to take the leap and paint an entire room in one of these color choices, here are several ways to incorporate some color in your home in 2019!Pops of blue and yellow transform a neutral room

Posted in:General
Posted by Audra Santos on January 18th, 2019 4:23 PM

Many homebuyers, both first-timers and experienced movers, have wondered whether buying an existing home or building one to their specifications is a better fit for their needs. Here’s what you need to know: 

The Upfront Costs 

Existing Home: The price of a home varies widely depending on location, square footage, condition, amenities, and other factors. 

Building a New Home: All things being equal, generally speaking, building a new home costs about $60-$70k more than buying an existing home with similar attributes. But that is not always the case. There are some instances where the cost per square foot comes out significantly less in a custom-built home than in an existing home. 

How is this possible, you ask? Consider when you build, you also have the advantage of paying for only what you want to put into the house. While an existing home may have additional perks, like hardwood floors, it may not be something that you want or are willing to pay for in a custom-build. 

Home Maintenance 

Existing Home: Older homes require more maintenance because they have more wear and tear. Some homes may even need a big-time overhaul! As with any home purchase, never skip the home inspection and understand that even with well-maintained homes, repairs are inevitable. 

Building a New Home: Maintenance on a new home is very little, and it's one of the central benefits of building a new home. Since everything from appliances to the HVAC system is new and under warranty, you'll enjoy several years of worry-free living. 

Outdoors 

Existing Home: A mature garden with large trees and well-established landscaping is a big plus of buying an existing home. Mature trees and landscaping not only add value to the property but can even help to reduce energy costs by providing shade and efficient drainage. 

Building a New Home: Professional landscaping can cost thousands plus many years to come to fruition. The benefit, however, is that you'll be able to design your outdoor space precisely to your liking. Depending on the project, you can have a custom-designed yard in two weeks or less. 

Energy Efficiency 

Existing Home: Older homes that have had little-to-no updating use more energy. Appliances that are older than ten years, single-pane windows, and poor insulation are some updates you'll want to consider if you buy an existing home. 

Building a New Home: When it comes to energy efficiency, new construction can't be beat. On average, new homes use about 21% less energy than older homes. However, this savings comes mostly from high-efficiency appliances. Meaning that if you purchase new, HE appliances for an existing home, you can save just as much money on energy with an existing home as you would with new construction. 

Appreciation 

Existing Home: With an existing home, you make your purchase with some context. You can see the home's previous sale prices, the cost of similar homes in the area, and have a good idea of what the market value of your home will be in the future. 

Building a New Home: New homes, especially those in up-and-coming neighborhoods, can be more of a gamble. Without any sale history or comparables to reference, you have very little to go on when thinking about the future value of your home. Of course, if this is your forever home, which is often the case with custom-built homes, then not having a history to predict the future may not matter. 

Whether you're buying an existing home or building a new one, they both begin the same way --getting pre-qualified. Reach out today to see which option is best-suited for you and your financial situation.

Posted in:General
Posted by Audra Santos on December 21st, 2018 4:19 PM

We often post about knowing when the time is right to buy your first home. Deciding between renting and buying can be a daunting task for many. So, if you know that the time is right for you to buy, you may now be feeling the pressure to choose whether to buy a ‘starter home’ or a ‘forever home’.

Possibly, this analogy could help: think of the first car that you purchased by yourself. Did you choose a compact sedan with good gas mileage, perfect for weekend trips and parallel parking in new cities? Or did you opt for a larger, safe SUV that can seat five with room to spare, complete with a maintenance package to keep it in great condition for many years to come? Both options are great choices, it just depends on what you are looking for, and what you are planning for your future.


You can think of a starter home as a jumping off point in homeownership. When you buy a starter home, you probably don't intend to live there for more than a few years. However, with a forever home, you'll likely plan on living there for many years - maybe even for the rest of your life! When comparing the two options, have in mind how much time you intend to live in the home, and how that fits into your goals.

Reasons to Choose a Starter Home

  • Potentially More Affordable Than a Forever Home

Condos and small houses are a favorite starter home among first-time homebuyers. A smaller house is likely to fit your budget better, and if you're single or have a small family, a one to two-bedroom home may be all you need anyway.

  • Desire to Start Investing in Your Future

You can think of a mortgage payment as an investment in your future, and with every payment, you own more and more of the house.

  • Improve Your Investment Without Commitment

If you want to help increase the value of your starter home, consider making some upgrades. The key to home improvements in starter homes is to focus on those with a reasonable return on investment. Before you gut the bathroom for a complete remodel, consider making less drastic upgrades like replacing the tile and sink. Another thing to consider when making upgrades is to choose designs and materials that will appeal to most homebuyers. You'll want to save those personal touches for your forever home!

Reasons to Choose a Forever Home

  • Have or Plan to Have a Family

Space for a growing family is one of the most common reasons to buy a forever home. A condo for a 3-person family might be okay for a while, but eventually, you'll want more space in case you add to your family. With your forever home, you can have a yard for kids to play in and a dining room large enough to entertain in.

  • You're Ready to Set Roots

It's comforting to know that you won't be moving any time soon. You can settle in, make lasting friendships with your neighbors, upgrade your home just the way you like it knowing that this is your home to do with as you please.

 

If you’re still not sure if you should buy a starter home or forever home, that's okay! The most important thing is that you get pre-approved for a home loan first.

Posted in:General
Posted by Audra Santos on November 16th, 2018 8:07 AM

For many students and professionals alike, the thought of public speaking results in sweaty palms and shaky knees. How does one overcome this fear and deliver a fantastic presentation?

First and foremost, practicing is of upmost importance. Make sure to rehearse your PowerPoint presentation or note cards several times, especially taking time to read through them aloud. You never know which word or phrase might get you tongue tied, and practicing beforehand could help prevent a mid-speech stutter.

So, if your job requires you to give presentations or talks, but you’re not a fan of public speaking, here are a few tips that could help you:

 

  • The day of your presentation, don’t over caffeinate! People might mistake coffee jitters for nerves while you're speaking. Instead, opt for a glass of water to keep your speaking voice clear.
  • If you know that there will be time for a Q&A after your presentation, prepare the answers to potential audience questions. Try delivering the presentation for a spouse or friend, taking note of any confusions they may have. This can help you manage your composure, even if you are asked a tricky question.
  • If you’re not sure where to look while speaking, focus on a friendly face in the audience. You don’t want to be looking at your note cards, or even worse, your shoes, during your whole speech! Instead, before your presentation begins, scan the audience for someone who appears to be both attentive and receptive. That way, when you look up while speaking, you can look toward them for reassurance.
  • Remember to breath. If you are rushing and just can’t seem to get seem to get your words out, try taking a full inhale and exhale after each statement. You might feel that this will make your speech take longer, but in fact, it will help the audience understand you more clearly. This may even lead to fewer questions at the end!
  • Be yourself. If you have a funny anecdote to begin your presentation, share it! People will be more likely to connect with you and pay attention to you if they feel that they know you a little.

Posted in:General
Posted by Audra Santos on November 5th, 2018 7:18 AM

At Norcom Mortgage, we pride ourselves on offering a diverse portfolio of mortgage products. Beyond the traditional offerings of FHA, USDA, Reverse, and VA loans, we also create our own, such as the NorFlex Home Loan and the Norcom Dream Home Loan. We do this because we recognize that the needs of each family and individual are different. We are now pleased to also offer the JumpStart Pre Approval Program with Rate Assurance, and share with you this product overview:

What It Is:

 

The JumpStart Pre-Approval Program with Rate Assurance allows a buyer to lock in their rate for up to 90 days while they search for the perfect home. If market rates increase during the 90 days, the buyer is guaranteed the lower rate. However, if market rates decrease, the buyer assumes the lower rate. 

Why Is It Important:

A pre-approval positions a buyer to submit a strong offer when they have found a home they want to purchase. By submitting credit information and income documentation, Norcom can provide you and your real estate agent a pre-approval letter, which shows how much you can borrow. Should it come down to your offer vs. that of another potential buyer, the seller is likely to have more confidence in you, as you have already been pre-approved. 

When Can it Be Used?

The JumpStart Pre-Approval Program with Rate Assurance is available for 30-year fixed-rate conventional, FHA, or VA loans.

Posted in:General
Posted by Audra Santos on September 27th, 2018 2:49 PM

From DIY projects to hiring professionals, there are many home improvements that can increase the value prior to selling. However, there are some changes you should avoid, no matter how popular they are.

Eliminating Rooms

Open concept living spaces are very popular and attract buyers, but be careful when eliminating certain spaces. For example, any family looking to purchase a new home will most likely want the option of multiple bedrooms, so knocking down walls to combine two smaller rooms could cost you. Instead, opt for light paint colors and furniture with simple lines to make the rooms feel larger.

 

Trading in Your Closet Space

Closets are typically first to go when a homeowner embarks on a bathroom or bedroom renovation. They may seem easy to sacrifice, but closets are important storage space for most potential buyers. If your renovation needs to go through an existing closet, be sure to add in a new option elsewhere in the room.

 

The Family Pool

If you are considering adding a pool to your home, it’s important to first consider how long you plan to live there. A swimming pool can be detrimental to the sale of a home as most buyers don’t want to inherit the cost of maintenance or the safety issues that are associated with it.

 

Carpeting

It may seem like a good idea to install wall-to-wall carpeting in certain rooms for the comfort and safety of kids, but most buyers are willing to pay more for hard wood floors. In addition, the style options of carpet are unlimited, and what you choose may not appeal to others.

 

When making improvements to your home, be sure to consider whether or not a potential buyer would need to invest more money to reverse the changes. Be sure your choices benefit the appeal of your home and therefore increase the value should you one day choose to sell.

Posted by Audra Santos on September 20th, 2018 7:46 PM

Whether you are considering buying a home or not, having your finances organized is important. The ability to manage money well can help you afford a life that is a little more comfortable and a little less stressful. These tips will give you a jump start on being more in control of your money without the need of a finance degree.

Know What You Have:

The best place to start is to evaluate all of your accounts and know exactly how much money you have in each. This would include knowing the balance of your checking account, savings account, retirement fund, credit cards, loans, and any other investment. Writing down the actual balances will give you a clear starting point, even if the totals aren’t exactly what you want them to be.

 

Create Goals for Your Future:

This is where you can dream big, and also dream small. Once you’ve evaluated your accounts, think about what you want to accomplish financially. Do you want to save for a down payment on a home? Do you want to be free of your student loans in ten years? Do you want to save twenty extra dollars a month? Do you want to own a vacation home one day or travel the world? Big or small, your dreams are valid and writing them down is the first step in making them a reality.

 

Assess Your Payments:

Take a look at your income and expenses over the past 30 days. How much money do you bring in and how much money are you sending each month to pay expenses? Most people underestimate their monthly spending and don’t want to look closely at the small spending habits they have created. By assessing your cash flow, you will identify areas that need work, like if you are going out to eat more in a month than you should, for example.

 

Set Your Budget: 

Take what you learn from analyzing your monthly spending habits and create a new budget for yourself. Create a list of rough estimates for things like groceries, gas, utilities, etc. This way you will know if you are spending more than you should month to month moving forward. There are budget templates you can find online, or you can create your own. Once you have an established budget, you’ll be much more aware of any excess spending.

 

Stay Focused:

Once you have your finances organized, it’s important to keep your eye on the goals you have set. You can use money management apps, hire a financial advisor, use mobile banking to see each transaction in real time. Checking in on how close you are to your goals, both big and small, every month will help you stay focused and eliminate some of the stress that comes with money.

Posted in:General
Posted by Audra Santos on September 12th, 2018 2:11 PM

There are several ways to care for your home’s lawn in the fall to ensure great regrowth the following spring. In fact, now is a great time to prepare your lawn while the grass is storing nutrients for a dormant winter. Follow these steps and you’ll be sure to have a healthy lawn and improve your home’s curb appeal for next spring:

Raking:

Getting fallen leaves off the ground as soon as possible will prevent your grass from suffocating. You can also use a lawnmower with a collection bag to do the job. Leaving the leaves to stack on top of each other will create a wet barrier that can breed fungal diseases.

Get Rid of Weeds:

Just like your grass, weeds are also absorbing sunlight and energy in preparation for winter, so now is the time to apply weed killers. Most products recommend treatment in the early to mid-fall while temperature are still consistently above 60 degrees.

Mowing Technique:  

Keep mowing your lawn all throughout the fall even as the growth slows down. At the end of the season, drop your mower blade all the way down for the last two cuttings. This way, more sun can reach the crown of the grass.

Fertilize:

The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the fall because the grass leaves are growing slowly, but the roots are still growing quickly. Fertilizer will deliver essential nutrients to the grass and create deep roots for next spring. Once mid to late fall arrives, apply a dry lawn fertilizer to your lawn using a drop spreader to guarantee an even distribution.

 

In addition to these methods, be sure to fill in any bald spots and look into aerating the soil as well. Taking these measures in the next couple of months will save you time and energy when spring comes back around.

Posted by Audra Santos on September 7th, 2018 9:50 AM

Labor Day weekend marks the official end of summer, which means it’s time to get ready for the change of seasons. While the kids are back at school, and old routines start to settle in, it’s important to remember that your house needs some TLC before the harsh weather months arrive. Here are some ways to prepare your home for fall and winter.

Check Your Detectors:

Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have new batteries. The winter heating season could come with ventilation issues, so make sure your family is protected.

Clear Your Heating Vents:

Your heating grates have been off all summer, so now is the time to clear the of any blankets, curtains, magazines, etc. If you are going to stack wood for the winter, make sure it is kept away from any wood stove or fireplace. Move furniture off of any heating source as well.

Check Your Fluid Levels:

We all enjoy a break from the heating bill in the summer, but don’t forget to make sure your oil, propane, fire wood, etc. is ready to go. You never know when the first cold snap will arrive and it’s best to be prepared.

Clear Outside Vents:
Dryer vents, heating vents, etc. need to be clear of sticks, leaves, and other debris. Do a check of your outdoor space to be sure they are ready to function correctly in the colder months.

Prepare Your Chimney:

If your home has a fire place, be sure to have it inspected well before winter. Cleaning it will help reduce the risk of a chimney fire and if any cracks or possible dangers are discovered, you should have them fixed before summer is over.

Take advantage of the last few weeks of warm weather to tend to the various needs of your home. You’ll cruise into fall and winter ready to enjoy the seasons without worrying about a long to-do list.

Posted in:General
Posted by Audra Santos on August 29th, 2018 4:12 PM