How To Keep Your Finances In Check To Prepare For Buying A Home

There’s so much to consider when to comes to buying a new home. The first issue is that of your finances. You need to make sure that you’re preparing financially for the home search, and not just making your list of “wants” for a new home. It’s an exciting time when you’re purchasing your first home, but don’t let the excitement overtake your responsibility. Here’s some tips to keep you on the financial straight and narrow path when preparing to buy a home:

Be Mindful Of Your Credit Score

There’s many factors that can affect your credit score. Applying for new credit cards is one of those factors. Your credit score will drop a few points every time you have a new credit inquiry or open a new account. If you do get approved for new credit, lenders may have concerns that you’ll spend up maxing out your new approved credit limit on that account and possibly default on your loan.

Closing credit accounts is another factor that greatly affects your credit score. You may think that closing unused accounts is a good idea to help get yourself financially ready for becoming a homeowner. This isn’t true. Closing accounts lowers your amount of overall available credit. This means that your debt-to-credit ratio is larger. This lowers your overall credit score. You can certainly make these smart financial changes after you close on your new home.

Keep Records

When you move your money around, make sure you have records of it. Your lender will want to know about any unusual deposits and withdrawals. You’ll need to prove where your money comes from. All of the cash that you’ll be using for your home purchase should be in one account before you apply for a mortgage.

Keep Up With Your Bills

Don’t increase your debt. This will have an affect on the very important debt-to-income ratio which is one of the most vital aspects of loan approval. Also, be sure that you don’t skip your payments on bills. Your history of payments is incredibly important as well. Be sure that you continue to make full, on-time payments on all of your bills.

Keep Your Job

Even though a new job could mean a raise, or a better situation for you and your family, it could delay you in getting a mortgage. You’ll need to have your employment verified along with pay stubs to prove your source of income. Lenders like to see a longer employment history.

Keep Saving

The biggest up front costs in buying a home is that of closing costs and the down payment. Those must be paid at the time of closing. Lenders may even verify that your savings is on hand. Keep saving steadily and be sure to keep your savings in place.

How To Create A Pantry When There’s No Room For It

Chefs need their organization in order to cook good meals for everyone. Everything from ingredients to utensils to small appliances must be organized and within reach for a stress-free preparation of meals. This is where a pantry comes in handy. A pantry is a place off of your kitchen where ingredients can be stored and utensils are tucked away. You can keep your small appliances there as well. The problem is that not all homes have a pantry. You may not even think that you have space for a pantry. If your home doesn’t have a a dedicated pantry, there are plenty of ways that you can create your own pantry. Here, we’ll give you some tips on how to create your own pantry easily and cost effectively.

Add Shelving To Become Your Pantry

There are shelving pieces available designed specifically for kitchens. Some of these shelves are even designed for commercial kitchens. You can mount them to wall space that you have available near the kitchen. The good news is that these shelving units are incredibly affordable. You can place them anywhere from the kitchen itself to a laundry room, or any other room that connects with the kitchen.

Buy Readymade Shelves

This is one of the simpler methods to create your own pantry. It could be as easy as buying a bookcase and repurposing it. The great part about bookshelves is that the shelves get wider as you move towards the bottom of the unit. The smaller shelves on the top can be used for smaller jars, spices and even cookbooks. The larger shelves can be used for oils and large containers.

Dedicate A Shelving Area As Your Pantry

If you have an unused nook, certain unused cabinets, or any other space close to your kitchen, you can make it into a pantry. Any sort of vertical cabinet that’s open provides you with a generous amount of pantry storage.

Maximize Your Storage

By labeling things, organizing items by type and putting pantry items into baskets, you’ll create more room in your dedicated pantry space. You can even make your pantry mobile by adding wheels to the bottom of the bookcase or shelving unit that you choose. When you’re more organized, life becomes easier.

Use Drawers As Your Pantry

Many cabinet retailers have drawers available that you can use to organize your pantry items. You could install these easily into your existing kitchen cabinet units. Store items in these spaces and keep them organized for simple and effective pantry storage.

DIY Fall Décor – a Guest Post By, Emmanuel Lao of Real Estate Unlimited

 This guest post is contributed by Real Estate Unlimited, a real estate group representing the Echo Park neighborhood and other historic neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area.
It’s pumpkin-spice time again! With Halloween just around the corner, fall-themed décor is popping up everywhere. In this post, we’ll share some creative DIY projects you can use to add autumnal flair to your home.
Blackboard Door Sign

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Use an old tray or metallic disposable party platter as your base. Paint the center with blackboard paint or matte black acrylic, and then add a welcoming message in white. Decorate with leafy twigs, straw flowers, colorful corn, and raffia. For a Halloween version, choose a spooky message and craft a border using inexpensive Halloween decorations like colorful craft wire, bat silhouettes, and plastic spiders.
Boo! Tin Can Jack O’ Lanterns

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This easy craft project is a versatile and eye-catching display for any surface. Just scrub the labels from half a dozen tin cans – use various sizes for visual interest – and paint the surface of the can in the color of your choice. You can go with the classic orange or make a pumpkin rainbow – or blend red and yellow paint in different ratios to create a full fall spectrum of oranges, scarlets, and marigolds. Once the first layer of paint is dry, use matte black to create quirky faces. Finish off your tin can pumpkins with twine and wooden cabinet handles as shown here, or remove the lids to make candle holders.
Paper Plate Wreaths

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Craft time is quality kid time, and these paper plate wreaths are a fun and easy project for children. Cut out the center of a paper plate – for extra sturdiness, splurge on the heavier models with rounded edges. Then glue on fall leaves, overlapping to hide the edges of the paper plate. Voila! A miniature autumn wreath. For a Halloween-themed project, add cutouts of bats, pumpkins, and black cats to the mix.


Candy Corn Candles


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Nostalgia by the handful, this sweet treat has a gorgeous color scheme. You can turn this brightly-hued candy into the perfect base for a candle display! Fill mason jars or clear vases with candy corn to use as a holder for a single candle, or fill a bowl with candy corn to create a centerpiece for half a dozen medium-size tapers. Use black candles and crockery to help the bright red and yellow stand out, and be sure to set out a candle-free candy bowl for munching.


Melted Crayon Pumpkins


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White pumpkins become a blank canvas for painting and other decorative arts. This craft project converts them into a backdrop for an abstract rainbow of melted crayons. Strip the paper from a handful of crayons and line them up on the top edge of the pumpkin so that they’re spaced evenly. Then, use a hair dryer on high to melt the crayons so that the wax drips down over the sides of the pumpkin, or save time by placing the pumpkins in the oven on a low temperature. A jumbo box of crayons offers many possibilities beyond the rainbow color scheme shown here – you can adjust your palette to fit into any room or decorative display. For a gory Halloween version, try a handful of red crayons.

Autumn Wine Bottles



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A few tubes of acrylic paint and some wine bottles rescued from the recycling bin combine to provide the perfect spooky centerpiece. Paint a ghost, vampire, or jack-o’-lantern like the ones shown here, or use a similar technique to paint a mummy, werewolf, or swamp thing. For best results, stick with a solid background color and a few minimalist decorations. If you’d like a centerpiece you can use all season, leave out the faces and paint your wine bottles in an array of matte reds, greens, oranges, and yellows. Include an unpainted bottle for a luminous green accent.


About the Author: Real Estate Unlimited is a premiere real estate agency located in Southern California, serving Echo Park and nearby neighborhoods. We pride ourselves on our in-depth local historical and cultural knowledge, ensuring that all of our clients are matched with the perfect home in the perfect area. We’re passionate about delivering personalized, hands-on service, ensuring a streamlined, worry-free process for all our clients.



3 Lessons for First-Time Homebuyers

Are you ready to buy your first home? Although you may conduct plenty of research, know your budget and understand what you want to find in your first residence. Problems may arise along the way that could force you to rethink your homebuying plans.

So what does it take to ensure your first home purchase will be a successful one? Here are three lessons that every first-time homebuyer needs to know:

1. Purchase a home only when you’re comfortable with your decision.

Let’s face it – buying a home can be stressful, regardless of whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or have purchased multiple residences in the past. As a result, stress can be problematic, and it ultimately may lead you to buy a home before you’re ready to do so.

In a stressful homebuying situation, be sure to take a step back and explore all of the options at your disposal. By doing so, you can minimize the risk of committing to buy a home in the heat of the moment.

When in doubt, don’t be afraid to consult with family members, friends and, of course, your real estate agent. A strong support system can make a world of difference for a first-time homebuyer, and it might even help you eliminate stress throughout the homebuying process.

2. Put aside money for home improvements.

Budgeting for a home can be tricky. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to put at least a few thousand dollars down on your purchase. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re in great shape financially to handle your mortgage payments.

At the same time, you should try to put money aside for potential home improvements.

Although you’ve conducted an extensive home inspection, there are no guarantees that your home will maintain its quality for an extended period of time. As such, having a “rainy day fund” will ensure you’re ready to handle numerous home improvement projects down the line.

Adding money to your rainy day fund each month can deliver long-lasting benefits. This will allow you to be ready for any home improvement issues that may arise, along with avoiding the anxiety commonly associated with finding the finances to afford home repairs.

3. Understand the ups and downs of the real estate market.

What you pay for your home today may not be what it’s worth tomorrow. In fact, the real estate market fluctuates frequently, so you’ll want to understand that your house’s value will change in the years following your purchase.

In many cases, the value of your home will rise over the years. But in some situations, it may fall.

Remember, buying a home is a major decision and is not without risk. Even though you might expect your home’s value to skyrocket, you’ll still need to take care of your house.

Maintaining your residence will boost your chances of increasing its value, regardless of the real estate market. However, you need to be aware that a buyer’s market can change into a seller’s one at a moment’s notice, so there is always a chance that your house’s value will go up and down periodically.

Be a prepared homebuyer, and you can minimize problems as you explore the real estate market for your first residence. Thus, you’ll be better equipped to find a house that fulfills your needs and will serve you well for years to come.

3 Factors for First-Time Home Sellers to Consider

Being a first-time home seller can be exhausting, especially if you want to maximize your house’s purchase price. Fortunately, we’re here to help you understand what it takes to succeed as a home seller, regardless of the real estate market’s conditions.

Here are three factors that every first-time home seller needs to consider before adding his or her house to the real estate market:

1. Your Home’s Condition

You’ve completed many home improvement projects over the years, and as such, you may have boosted the value of your house. However, despite these improvements, there may be a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure you’re able to generate plenty of interest in your residence among prospective homebuyers.

Getting a home appraisal often serves as a great first step on the home selling journey. A home appraiser will be able to give you a better idea about your house’s worth as well as potential areas of improvement.

As a home seller, you’ll need to consider the value of any repairs you complete. Ultimately, a home improvement project may help you boost the value of your house, but it also may mean that it takes longer for you to add your house to the real estate market.

Consider the pros and cons of home improvement projects. And if you need extra support, be sure to consult with an experienced real estate agent.

2. Your Home’s Price

Are you selling your residence in a seller’s or buyer’s market? Ideally, you’ll want to be able to offer your house in a seller’s market, i.e. a period in which there are more homebuyers than home sellers.

Conversely, even if you’re selling your house in a buyer’s market (a market that includes more home sellers than homebuyers), you may be able to make your house more attractive to potential buyers if you offer a competitive price.

Look at what similar homes in your area have sold for over the past few months. Also, be sure to work with a real estate agent who can provide insights into home selling and homebuying trends in your area. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to list your house for a fair price and improve your chances of a fast sale.

3. Your Post-Sale Plans

If a homebuyer makes an offer on your residence that exceeds your expectations, how will you proceed?

You’ll need to consider your post-sale plans, as this will ensure that you’re ready for any home selling scenario that comes your way.

You may want to de-clutter your home as much as possible to make it easier to finalize a sale and relocate to a new address. In addition, you should try to work with a real estate agent who can help you sell your current home and find a new one that meets your needs going forward.

Just because you’re a first-time home seller doesn’t mean you can’t prepare like a pro. Consider the aforementioned home selling factors, and you may be able to improve your chances of optimizing the price of your home and speeding up the home selling process.

Prepare for a Successful Home Sell

Preparations that you take to get your house up to code standards, improve its functionality, cleanliness and appearance could yield a successful home sell. Give yourself enough time to complete the preparations identified below. It could shorten the time that it takes you to sell your current house.

  • Clean up. Toss out unnecessary items, old furniture, accessories, old clothes and gadgets that are only taking up space. If you haven’t used a product in two years or more, you probably don’t need it.
  • Perform necessary repairs, such as sealing cracks, replacing bubbled floor tiles and repairing leaking pipes. Be honest and repair areas of your home that potential buyers may not spot or focus on. This includes insulation, wiring and roofing issues. Treat potential buyers to the same respect and care that you want when you start shopping for your next home.
  • Paint. Apply neutral colors to your walls. Loud colors might highlight your personality. But, they could also turn away buyers.
  • Get your house inspected. Ensure that you have made all necessary repairs and that your house meets local coding standards. Use the fact that your house has been inspected and meets code standards as a marketing tool.
  • Find a licensed and experienced real estate agent to partner with. The more the real estate agent knows the area where you live, the better. That expanded knowledge will help the realtor to alert potential buyers, particularly people who are venturing into a new area for the first time, to dining, entertainment, academic, historic and other highlights in or near where you live. Partnering with a real estate agent who has an active license gives you the confidence that you’re working with a realtor who is current on regulations impacting the industry.
  • Save time and commissions fees by working with the same real estate agent who sells your house to find your next home. Avoid taking on two mortgages.
  • Research the market. Talk with friends and colleagues and, of course, leverage your realtor’s knowledge to set a price on the house that you’re selling. You want the price to be competitive for buyers yet profitable for you.
  • Advertise your home online and offline. Ask your realtor to tell you good places to advertise that your house is for sale. It’s an interactive world. Take advantage of this and create a walk-through video of your house. Don’t forget to show pictures and videos of the outside of your home as well.
  • Stage your home similar to how apartments stage their model units.

Practice patience. As tempting as it is to accept the first offer, you may be able to get a better deal. Stick as close as you can to the price that you set for your house early in the home selling process. Also, make sure that the amount you sell your house for covers any outstanding debts that you owe your mortgage lender. Repairs and upgrades that you make to your house could position you to recoup enough from the sale of your house to cover closing costs and a portion of the down payment on your next home.

Best Ways to Rid Your Home of Unwanted Belongings

Junk beginning to pile up in your home? Or have you noticed that you no longer use half of the things you own? Is your closet overflowing with clothes, shoes, and handbags? It might be time to think about clearing those things out of you home. Doing so will make you feel liberated and bring extra space that you may not have seen in years. Below are a few of the different ways in which you can free yourself of unwanted belongings.

Garage/Yard Sale: Garage or yard sales are a great way to sell your old/unwanted things. These options make you some money and get your stuff out the door fast. It will take a little work on your part, as you need to advertise and prepare. Be sure to promote through online resources, post signs and even place an ad in the newspaper. It’s also important to prepare in advance making sure you have everything you need such as tables and hanging racks.

Donate: Donating your unwanted possessions is a great alternative to selling them at a yard sale. And it often requires no work to you. Many foundations send trucks out in search of donations. If you have the extra space hold onto your things and wait for a truck to be in your area. If you don’t have that extra space you can always bring it to places like the Salvation Army.

Sell it: Selling your things is another great way to do away with your unwanted possessions. There are multiple avenues that you can take when selling including online and consignment. For online there are sites like eBay, the use of your own social media, craigslist and multiple apps such as letgo, Close5, and Vinted. There is also the option of selling your things to a consignment shop.

There are many options for getting rid of your old and unwanted belongings. And it may be that you want to use a combination of the ways listed above. As the age old saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Organization Tips: The Kitchen

The kitchen. It’s one of the most used rooms of the house, yet somehow becomes one of the most disorganized. If you’re tired of digging past ten spatulas to find the potato peeler keep reading. Below are some tips on how to organize your kitchen and keep it that way!

Start by making a bigger mess. Yes, clean everything out of the drawers and cupboards. You may want to include clearing out pantry items as well if it’s been awhile since you’ve done so. Check expiration dates on everything as sometimes items have a way of getting pushed to the back of a cupboard to be forgotten for years. Sort through your items and determine what can be kept, donated or tossed out.

Create categories for the items you are keeping. Think baking, cooking, seasonal, often used, least used, etc. By sorting everything out into categories now, you will know what type of storage solutions and where the best place to store them is later.

Find storage solutions that work. Whether you have items laying around the house you can use or need to invest in some, the best way to stay organized is to create a system that assigns a home for every single item you own. Junk drawers are born from items not having a dedicated place. Be proactive in preventing the dreaded junk drawer by finding an organization solution that includes a spot for everything. Some organization items to consider are lazy susans for spices and other pantry items, hooks to hang mugs, a stemware rack for wine glasses, a rack hang pots and pans from the ceiling, hooks on the insides of cabinet doors for pot holders or measuring cups, a spice rack installed on a cabinet door, and drawer dividers for utensils.

Keep your most used items within reach. Avoid digging through cupboards and drawers on a daily basis by keeping your most used items front and center. In cabinets store your most used items on lower shelves while placing the ones you use less often on top shelves. Place your go-to cooking utensils in a vase or other type of decorative container on the counter next to the stove. You should also consider keeping pots, pans, and other cooking items close to the stove to keep them within arms reach when you are cooking.

Extra Tips for the Go-Getters. Organize plastic ware with their lids. Better yet invest in a set that comes with snap-together lids or a large matching set so you aren’t left trying to cram the wrong lid on a bowl for leftovers. Make the most of the empty space over your cabinets by adding shelves for extra storage. Add a lazy susan in your fridge to avoid items being pushed to the back and becoming long forgotten. Set up a station to sort typical kitchen papers like coupons, menus, and notepads.

While we use our kitchen almost every day the clutter can build up and become overwhelming. With an action plan in hand and a few days dedicated to organizing the chaos you can have a cleaner, more organized kitchen before you know it!

Buyer Beware: Credit Repair Companies

If you have credit trouble it can be difficult to get back on the right track. Poor credit impacts your ability to secure a loan, credit cards, and even a job. Credit ratings are also used by insurers, employers and leasing agencies. So where should you turn for help to repair your credit? There are many credit repair companies and while some are reputable some are not legitimate. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers these signs to tell if the company is legit or not:

  • The company asks for money up front. The Credit Repair Organizations Act forbids repair companies from requiring you to pay fees before they have completed the promised services.
  • The company doesn’t want you to contact the three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) yourself.
  • The company encourages you to dispute all the negative information in your credit report, regardless of its accuracy.
  • The company recommends attempting to create a new credit identity and history by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security Number.

While a credit repair company may be helpful there are some things you can do yourself to repair your credit.

  • Once every 12 months, check your credit report.  Credit reports are available at
  • If you find errors, dispute incorrect information in your report.
  • Negotiate the removal of outstanding debt. Even without a credit counseling agency, you can contact the collectors of your outstanding debt to negotiate a pay-off settlement.


How to Get the Most Out of Secondhand Furniture

You don’t have to go to a furniture store and spend thousands to find great furniture to fit your home. Secondhand furniture shopping can be a fun and creative hobby that will get you outdoors hunting for the perfect item to fix up for your home. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to help you get the best deals on furniture and how to go about making it your own once you find it.

Furniture sources

Many people think the bargain section of their local furniture store is the best they can do when it comes to saving on furniture. However, there are several better places to start your hunt.

  • Craigslist. The “for sale” section of your local Craigslist is bound to be full of furniture that people are clearing out. Oftentimes people put things on Craigslist that are still in good shape that hoping to make a bit of money from. For best results on Craigslist, sort by “most recent” and by posts that have images. This will give you the best items and ones that are most likely still available.
  • Facebook. Aside from being the go-to place for arguing with your relatives about politics, Facebook is also a great way to find cheap used furniture. Search Facebook for local buy/sell pages for your town or city. Post in these groups with what you’re looking for. Also post what you’re searching for on your own wall. There’s a good chance one of your Facebook friends has something like it.
  • Thrift stores. Secondhand stores like Savers, Goodwill, and Salvation Army all sell furniture in their brick & mortar locations. If you’re bored on a rainy day, head out to the thrift stores in your city to see what they have.
  • Yard sales and flea markets. When the weather’s nice, take a Sunday drive out to some yard sales and flea markets. At yard sales especially people are desperate to get rid of everything so you’re likely to get the best deals.

Making it your own

Aside from getting a great deal, arguably the best part about secondhand furniture is that you get to add your own personal touch to it. Whether it’s reupholstering a sofa, sanding down a bookshelf, or painting a new kitchen chair, you’ll have the gratification of putting in work on your furniture, making it that much more special to you. Here are some furniture items that make great DIY or restoration projects.

  • Tables. Since the weathered and rustic look in in style, finding used tables has become a competitive market. If you have a small kitchen you can turn a old cafe table into your kitchen table. If you need something larger an old work bench can be crafted into a long dining room table.
  • Chairs. Many people think chairs need to come in sets to be worthwhile. However, having mismatched chairs can be a fun way to personalize your kitchen. Paint all the chair legs the same color or sand them and stain them all the same color to give them a sense of unity.
  • Repurposed wood. Pinterest is filled with ideas on how to repurpose used lumber. A wine rack out of an old pallet? There’s a tutorial for that.
  • Sofas. Oftentimes the only thing an old sofa needs is some reupholstering. Buy a secondhand sofa based on its style, not color. You can focus on fitting it to your color scheme when picking a fabric to reupholster with.