Do you have plans to remodel a part of your home this Spring? Consider looking into sustainable materials and energy efficient appliances. A sustainable and environmentally friendly home is not only good for the planet but can also save you money over time. 


  1. Make energy-efficient upgrades. 

Updating large appliances will reduce your electricity and water bills. Look for product lines that have been endorsed by the Energy Star rating as a more efficient option. Replacing older windows, doors, roofing, insulation, and HVAC systems can also lower your heating and cooling expenses in addition to making your home more efficient.  

  1. Build with repurposed items. 

Using reclaimed wood is a great sustainable practice, as it does not require deforestation. Refurbished home goods not only add charm and style to your home but are a great way to avoid cheap products made in factories. Check out local antiques shops, flea markets, or unique building supply stores. You can find anything from light fixtures (that can be rewired to use energy-efficient bulbs), drawer pulls, hooks, to larger pieces like shelves and tables. Buying pre-owned materials is a proactive way to cut renovation costs. You can find local places reselling used hardware, plumbing, cabinetry, appliances, and countertops.  

  1. Research sustainably sourced materials. 

Look for building materials, furniture, and decorative items that contain post-consumer recycled content. If choosing repurposed or recycled items is not an option, try to find materials that are sustainably sourced. For example, lumber is certified sustainably harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Just like Energy Star, there are other certifications to look out for, such as GreenGuard, that indicate the level of sustainability of a material. Find such certifications here

  1. When in doubt, choose natural materials. 

A rule of thumb is that natural building materials are more durable and safest for your home. From cabinets to flooring, some building supplies are often made with formaldehyde, which emits into your home’s air, known as off-gassing, even after they’re unboxed and installed. This impacts your indoor air quality negatively. Other sealants and paints can also contain toxins called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that remain in your home and trigger health problems like migraines or asthma. When choosing the design for a kitchen remodel, it is especially important to choose safe and natural materials that will be in contact with food, like kitchen countertops. 

  1. Redesign with a classic look. 

Why? Because by choosing a classic design, you will avoid another remodel in the next ten years and avoid wasting materials. Additionally, you should be able to source classic materials locally instead of luxury or limited supply materials. Luxury items typically have a larger carbon footprint, potentially crossing oceans just to arrive at your house. By minimizing the distance any building materials need to travel, you’re helping to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. 


We know it’s not reasonable to think that most homeowners can remodel their home to be completely “green.” But if you start with one choice at a time, making environmentally friendly decisions in small renovation projects, you can stay on budget, and save money in the long run. Your home will be healthier, more durable, and you will love your updated space. Plus, the earth will thank you!  

Don’t forget to research local or state tax credits or rebates offered to people who choose to make their house more energy efficient. 


Additional Resources 


When it comes time for a mortgage, many borrowers choose to buy their home with another person. Whether it is a spouse, parent, sibling or other trustworthy person, it is important to know what to look for in a “purchasing partner,” including the difference between a co-borrower and a co-signer.  

A co-borrower will be a co-owner of the property with their name on the title of the home after closing. Their level of involvement also means that the co-borrower's assets, credit history, employment history, and debts are assessed because they are applying for the home loan right along with you. 

co-signer applies for the loan with you (remember they’ll have their credit pulled to assess their ability to qualify for the loan), but their name will not be on the title of the home. They are connected to the loan and are financially responsible, along with you, for paying back the mortgage, but do not have ownership rights to the property. 

The main distinction between the two roles mainly pertains to the ownership of the property. A co-borrower has the advantage of co-owning the property with their name on the title of the home. If, for some reason, you are unable to make payments, the co-borrower can assume ownership of the property. A co-signer is not on the title and would not have the same rights. 

The most important factor to remember is to choose someone you trust and who is financially responsible. A co-borrower or co-signer can assist you with qualifying for a better interest rate because of debt-to-income ratios or various other factors, but you both carry the responsibility for making sure payments are made on time. If unforeseen circumstances mean your co-borrower or co-signer can’t make their agreed-upon part of the monthly payment, you are still responsible, and the same goes for them. 

If your purchasing partner has a higher credit score and you’ve saved for a down payment, this is a perfect example of a team effort that will secure a home loan for you together when you might not have been able to do it on your own. Make sure you take some time to think through who might be a solid, trustworthy co-borrower or co-signer and discuss the options to determine if it is the right fit for everyone. When you’re ready, have a conversation with your Loan Officer to get started! 

Show Your Home Some TLC

Feb 12
Category | General

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. While you may be busy planning a three-course dinner or a rom-com movie marathon with your pals, don’t forget to show your home some TLC this season!

Redecorate in a small way

Has it been a while since you last made changes to your living space? You’d be surprised at what a difference small changes can make in your attitude towards your home. It might be simply adding a wreath to the front door or printing some new photos at CVS or Wal-Mart to swap into your tabletop picture frames. One fun idea, if you have an Instagram account, is to print out your favorite square photos from the last year and arrange them in a photo gallery on the wall! If you use a non-damaging adhesive, such as Command strips, you can always change out one image for a new favorite.

Buy a new houseplant

While roses are the ubiquitous symbol of Valentine’s day, opt for a potted rose bush this year instead of a bouquet of cut flowers! Depending on what you choose, you can keep the plant alive indoors for years to come or transplant it into your garden after the last frost. What a beautiful way to commemorate this holiday of love.

Invest in smart tech

Just as your loved ones occasionally want an upgraded smart phone or fitness tracker, so could your home. Refresh your home entertainment with a new Bluetooth music player for the kitchen or a surround-sound system for the living room. Or think outside the box, and protect your home with a new smart security system. You may even find some great deals this month if you look for President’s Day sales.

Rent a steam cleaner

Show some appreciation for your area rugs and carpets with a deep clean! Whether that means hiring a company or renting a steam cleaner, your rooms will be on their way to appearing brighter and rejuvenated after a good clean.

Purchase new towels

As we’ve blogged about before, a pop of color can make a big difference in your living space. If you have a discount home store in your area, you can find new bath and kitchen towels in an array of bright or calming colors. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, steer clear of holiday-themed towels with images and phrases, and opt for your favorite solid or patterned colors.


When you’ve finished these small home updates, plan a Galentine’s party or a candle-lit dinner date share your refreshed space with guests!

Sure, you love your fur-babies, but could they be standing in the way of you selling your home? Many of us love having a pet companion, and their presence can make a house feel more like a home. However, if you are planning to sell your house, consider that other people may not feel the same way. Read through these pet-related tips to prepare your home for all potential buyers!

1. Ask a friend or neighbor who doesn’t spend a lot of time in your home to walk through your house. They will likely be able to pick up on pet odors or notice small scratches or stains. We often become accustomed to smells and don’t register if our home has started to smell like Fido or Fluffy.

2. If pet odors or damage is discovered, do what you can to remedy it. Have your carpets professionally cleaned or consider replacing them if the pet damage is significant. If refinishing wood flooring is in your budget, removing any claw scratches can give your home a fresh look. If the outdoor temperatures allow for it, open many windows to air out your home. Fresh air is more effective than scented room sprays or candles that only mask pet odors and could potentially turn off prospective buyers even more! If you are actively showing your house, remember to vacuum and clean litter boxes, cages, and food dishes daily!

3. When showing your home, the ideal is to make it appear as much like a hotel as possible by removing personal items. This allows prospective buyers to envision the space as their own. Make sure to remove pet toys, beds, leashes, etc. from common areas. If possible, temporarily move food and water dishes, litter boxes, and small pet cages to a safe but out of the way location, such as a mud room or garage.

4. Make sure your pet will be safe during open house showings. If your dog is timid around strangers, or your cat bolts for the back door every time it opens, make sure to have a solution before you start showing your home. If possible, ask a close friend or neighbor to watch your pet at their home for the day. Or in a pinch, you could opt for short-term boarding at a nearby kennel. The moving process can be stressful on pets, and it is just as important to ensure their health and safety as it is to make your home appeal to prospective buyers.

5. Advertise the pet perks about your home to potential buyers. For example, if you have an electric fence already installed, a dog run in the backyard or pet doors to the basement. If you’re located within walking distance to a pet park, that’s a big selling point! Sharing the positive, pet-friendly benefits in your home's listing may just attract the perfect buyer to your home.

Make sure your Realtor is aware of your pets’ needs and discuss the best plan to ensure that all hands and paws are on-deck to make selling your home a reality.

Did your New Year’s resolution include saving money in 2019? We think it’s possible to buy things you need or want while paying less money for them. All it takes is some planning and knowledge of sales cycles. If you maximize holiday and seasonal sales by knowing what time of year is best for some of your larger purchases, you may just be able to keep that New Year’s resolution throughout 2019.  


The frosty months at the beginning of the year set the stage for excellent sale prices. In addition to decorative items, you can also look for electronics, fitness accessories, and items to make your home feel cozier: 

  • Christmas decorations: In the few days before and for a while after Christmas, shop sales for deep discounts — often upward of 50% — on decorations, wrapping paper, ornaments, artificial trees and similar seasonal fixings. 

  • Toys: Since toys are a popular Christmas gift, stores generally host big toy sales as the holiday season draws to a close to thin out their inventory for the next year. 

  • Bedding, linens, and home goods: Department stores hold “white sales” in January with deep discounts on sheets and towels. You can also expect retailers to have home and apparel sales on Presidents Day Feb. 18th and the weekend preceding the holiday. 

  • Fitness equipment: Retailers know you want to focus on fitness during the colder months. You can expect fitness equipment and apparel sales at sporting goods stores. 

  • TVs and electronics: Just before Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3rd), retailers normally discount TVs and other home-theater essentials to ensure you have the best sports and commercial-viewing experience. 


Everyone looks forward to the snow melting and flowers blooming with the onset of warmer weather. When you can open your windows and start your spring cleaning, look for these sales to freshen up your style, living space, and save a little during that pesky tax season: 

  • Grills: Buy your summer grilling necessities in March to avoid the spike in prices when summer arrives, and the items are more in-demand. 

  • Vacuums: Buying a vacuum isn’t the most exciting purchase, but it’ll be less painful if you take advantage of a spring-cleaning sale. Look for markdowns at department stores as well as manufacturers like Dyson. 

  • Tax-related items: Retailers like to discount tax-prep items in March ahead of Tax Day in April. Pay attention in mid-April for those thoughtful retailers and restaurants trying to lighten the burden of Tax Day with discounts and freebies on services like paper shredding. 

  • Spring apparel: By May, retailers will move spring clothing to discount racks since the items have been on display for a month or two. 

  • Household items: Memorial Day in May is one of the biggest blowout shopping days, so look for furniture, small kitchen appliances, and home-decor discounts from big-box stores. Some items, such as coffee makers and blenders are normally included in Memorial Day sales and make great wedding gifts if you have any coming up! 


Ah, summer is finally here! In between planning weekend trips or scheduling summer camps, don’t forget to look for some unique summer deals: 

  • Gym memberships: Consider buying a gym membership at the beginning of summer, when gyms may be looking for new sign-ups after the New Year’s Resolutioners have dropped their attendance. 

  • Movie tickets: During the summer months, look out for specials on cheap movie tickets, often for matinée screenings or children’s movies. 

  • Personal electronics: Did you know many retailers now offer a “Black Friday in July” sale? Look out for deals, especially on smaller electronics, at big box stores and online retailers (including Amazon’s Prime Day). 

  • Swimsuits: Both brick and mortar and online retailers will be clearing their 2019 inventory, which makes August a great time to purchase a bathing suit. 

  • Winter Travel: It is often recommended that the prime time to book air fare is 2-4 months before your trip. If you are planning on wintertime travel, start looking for the best fares in the summer! 


As the seasons change, so do the sales. School starts, the leaves begin to change color, the days get cooler, but the sales are just warming up! And of course, fall has one of the biggest sale days of them all, Black Friday: 

  • Mattresses: If your sleep is no longer restful, September is the time to invest in a new mattress. Expect sales at department stores and mattress centers, often around Labor Day (Sept. 2nd). 

  • Appliances: Labor Day famously brings deals on home appliances, big and small. And if you don’t find what you are looking for, check back in November on Black Friday! 

  • Outdoor items: When the temperature drops, it is a great time to find discounted outdoor items, such as lawnmowers and patio furniture. 

  • Electronics: Black Friday notoriously offers the best deals on electronics such tablets, laptops and gaming systems. Look for discounts on smartphones and wearable technology as well. 

  • Tools: While it might not be exciting for all you savvy, stylish shoppers, home improvement stores discount tools and other building supplies during Black Friday promotions.

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