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Honoring the Symbol of Our Unity

As Americans, we are stronger together. Even in challenging times such as this, we have shown that, when we stand united, we can overcome anything.

Our flag reminds us of this fact. It’s a sign of hope, of bravery, of freedom. On Flag Day, as we honor this symbol of the American people, remember that each star and stripe exists thanks to those who fought together before us, and all of us who continue to persevere together today.

3 Plays You Need to Bring Home a Win This Homebuying Season

Basketball isn’t the only madness taking place in March.

Spring kicks off the house-hunting season, and without a game plan, you might find yourself in the losing bracket. Here are three offensive plays you need to score a win this homebuying season:

Get pre-approved before you start house hunting.
With a pre-approval , you’ll know what you can afford, that you’ll qualify for a loan*, and that sellers will take your offers seriously.

Get your finances in order.
Understand all the costs that come with buying a home , and make sure you have enough cash on hand to pay for necessary expenses, such as earnest money, inspection fees, and closing costs.

Find a good real estate agent.
An experienced agent will help the whole process run smoothly, from sending you quality listings that match your criteria to negotiating with the seller on your behalf. Need a referral? We’re happy to provide one.


Ready to get pre-approved or discuss next steps? Start your application online or give us a call (866) 667-0900

*Subject to certain conditions.

Making the most of your tax refund

Are you expecting a tax refund this year? If you’re caught up on your bills and have an emergency fund saved up, consider reinvesting that extra money into your home.

Here are some ways your tax refund can help you as a homeowner.

1. Make an extra mortgage payment.

It’s not right for everyone, but an additional payment can end up saving you money in the long run by decreasing the principal that you owe and by helping you pay off your mortgage quicker.

2. Make money-saving improvements.

Low-flow toilets, faucets, shower heads, and even sprinkler systems can make a dent in your bills. Installing Energy Star appliances can improve your home’s efficiency and help you keep costs down. And when it’s time to sell your home, you will have increased its value, to boot.

3. Tackle your maintenance list.

While a chunk of cash in the form of a tax refund doesn’t exactly scream, “Seal the driveway!”, making the little repairs and replacements that keep your home running is a great way to spend your cash. Break out the honey-do list or the we’ll-get-around-to-it list of home maintenance jobs, and check off every item once and for all.

We are not tax preparers or advisors, nor financial consultants. Consult your tax advisor or financial advisor for more information.

Don’t Gamble With Your Future

 

Are you still on the fence about making a move to homeownership this year?

It’s important to remember that interest rates are on the rise, and as they go up, it will diminish your purchasing power.

While renting might feel comfortable right now, you could be gambling with your financial future.

Instead of building equity for yourself, you’re contributing to your landlord’s wealth. Instead of the security of a fixed-rate loan where your payments are locked in, you’re at the mercy of rising rents.

If buying a home is in your future, then the future is now.

Not convinced? Take a look at this:

Worried about coming up with funds for a down payment?

There are low or no down payment assistance programs available to help you purchase a home! Let’s find out if you’re a candidate.

Contact a Cason Loan Officer to get started and to lock in a low mortgage interest rate!

House Hunting Checklist: 7 Awkward but Necessary Things to Do When Viewing a Home

A home is a huge investment. For most people, it’s the biggest and most expensive thing they’ll ever buy. So why would you ever sign a contract on an enormous item if you’re not sure all its parts are working properly?

Shyness, awkwardness, call it what you will, but it can feel weird to poke around in someone else’s home … especially if they’re still living there. Opening cupboards, lifting toilet seats — it feels like you’re intruding. Sorry to break it to you, but this is no time to be shy.

Below are some items you should check yourself when visiting a home you may want to purchase.

Sure, your home inspector will perform a thorough review of the home and will even cover some items listed below. But a home inspection costs money! Before you make an offer and start shelling out cash for inspections, or putting down nonrefundable earnest money, you can have a better idea up front if the house you’re interested in needs more work than you’re prepared to take on.

Not planning a move anytime soon? Share these tips with a friend who is, or save this article for future reference. It may come in handy down the road!

Check the water pressure.

Not just in the kitchen sink, but the bathroom sink, toilet, bathtub, and shower, too.

Low water pressure is a sign of bad plumbing.


Lift every rug.

Is that rug hiding something? The floor could be stained, warped, or even rotting!

A warped floor is very serious and can indicate the room has been flooded in the past or there’s a leak

under the floor.


Delve into the closets and cupboards.

What is that cluttered closet hiding? If the owners have left items in storage areas, move them aside. Too much to move? Ask your real estate agent to arrange another showing after the owners remove their belongings. Same for the garage, attic, basement, and any outbuildings.

You’ll want to be sure the home has adequate storage space for all your belongings and note any damage that may be concealed behind piles of stuff.

Note: Make sure there’s nothing piled against the house or any outbuildings as this could be hiding damages, flaws, and even pests.


Examine the windows, doors, and walls.

While an older house may have settled a bit, it’s still not good to have a door you can’t close all the way or a window that won’t open. Cracks in the walls could be caused by normal settling or the result of a house being empty for a while with no climate controls — but it may be something more serious.

If the home has “settled” so much that doors are sticking or the cracks are large, irregular, or diagonal, that could indicate a problem with the foundation of the home, or even a structural issue within the walls. You will need to consult an expert to determine the cause and whether it’s easily fixable.

Note: Hairline cracks near windows and doors are generally not a big issue and can be taped and painted.


Use your sniffer.

Smell anything musty? How about pet odors? Were the owners heavy smokers? Check that the fans over the stove and in the bathrooms work.

A musty smell could indicate water damage. Cigarette smoke and animal urine are very strong smells that can soak into the floors and walls. Getting those smells out can be a nightmare — or impossible.


Look for signs of water damage.

This is an especially important issue you need to investigate. Discoloration on ceilings and walls, bubbling paint, rusted metal items, and mold spots all indicate problems. Yes, you should check every cabinet. Pay extra close attention to basement walls and cabinets under sinks.

Water damage can be expensive and difficult to repair and may involve taking down walls and rebuilding them. Watermarks near appliances that use water or in the basement can indicate poor plumbing — another expensive issue to address.


Meet the neighbors.

Having good or bad neighbors makes a huge difference on how happy you’ll be in your new home. In some locations, meeting the neighbors beforehand could be a bit of a challenge, but you should at the very least drive by at different times of day and on different days to check out the neighborhood.

Is there a school or church nearby? Street parking could be a nightmare at dropoff and pickup times and during services. Are there neighbors throwing wild parties? How is the traffic flow during rush hours? Do cars roar up and down the street, or do you see signs of a neighborhood on its way down?


You’ll want to know the answers to these questions before making your final decision.

By taking the time to thoroughly inspect the properties you view before you make an offer, you can save yourself time, headache, and buyer’s remorse.

And don’t forget to get Pre-Approved before you go House Hunting – It’s quick and easy to do with Rapid.App, our mobile app or online application.

How to Maximize a Small Living Space

As we get older and our life events and situations change, we often find that the cute little two-bedroom house we fell in love with and bought a few years ago just isn’t quite big enough for our current needs. But what if you’re not ready or able to move up into a bigger home yet?
That’s when it’s time to get creative. There are about a million articles online telling you how to maximize your minimal space, which can be overwhelming. So we’ve got a few basic ideas to get you started. Make some room in your home — and your heart — so your little nest can really work for you.

With minimal space, you need to make sure there’s a place for everything, and that everything goes back where it belongs when you’re done using it — every single time. This includes making your bed every day, drying the dishes and putting them away immediately, and putting your shoes and coat back in the closet as soon as you remove them. Tidying can also reduce your stress levels and instill a feeling of control over other parts of your life as well as your home. In a little house, tidying up daily will make your space feel larger and help you feel a sense of accomplishment.

In your little castle, sorting and thinning out your possessions must be a part of your routine to prevent your home from becoming overfull and uncomfortable. You may only need to do this once a month, but it’s critical that you do it regularly. If you find an item that never seems to have a home when you’re tidying up, make it the first thing that goes in the Goodwill box. Let go of the hobby materials you’ve never used and the skinny jeans you’ve been saving for 10 years for when you lose that last 10 pounds.

With minimal space, you need to make sure there’s a place for everything, and that everything goes back where it belongs when you’re done using it — every single time. This includes making your bed every day, drying the dishes and putting them away immediately, and putting your shoes and coat back in the closet as soon as you remove them. Tidying can also reduce your stress levels and instill a feeling of control over other parts of your life as well as your home. In a little house, tidying up daily will make your space feel larger and help you feel a sense of accomplishment.

Bookcase as headboard? Check. Drop-leaf dining table so it “shrinks” into a console table when you’re not using it? Check. Wall-mounted fold-down table for dining and working? Check check check!
If you’re really tight on space, you may need to get really creative with this one. For instance, let’s say you only have two bedrooms and need the second bedroom to function as an office, guest room, and living area. If you have the ceiling height, you could build a loft with stairs to the bed (or use a ladder), and create a padded bench underneath that functions as a sofa. Install a fold-down table, so you can use it as a workspace when needed.

Need more ideas? How about:
Platform bed with drawersCoffee table that opens into a small desk with storageStairs with slide-out drawers in each step

Do you really need two closets full of shoes? Is your guest room just wasted space, having never hosted a guest? Does owning two complete sets of dinnerware make you feel fulfilled? Give yourself permission to turn that guest room into a room you really need, like a nursery or workspace. Remind yourself that you can only eat off of one set of dishes at a time. Empty a closet (read: sort out your stuff) and use it for a little home office. When there is something you really need to make your little home more efficient and a pleasure to be in, then it’s time to take a hard look at wasted space and start making changes.
If you’ve really outgrown your home, these ideas obviously only work as a stopgap measure, but at least you’ll be a bit more comfortable in your small space — and you’ll have less to move when the time comes!
Organization and Decluttering Tips for the New Year

 

When you stop to look around your home after the holidays, does it seem as though you’ll never find a place for all the new toys and gadgets?

Or perhaps your home is just long overdue for some reorganizing. Fear not! With some simple tips for decluttering and rearranging, you’ll set the tone for the whole year and keep your belongings exactly where they should be.

 

You’ll need to clear out the clutter before you can move on to getting organized. Let’s start here:

  • Sort your belongings into Keep, Donate, and Toss piles, which will start the ball rolling as you begin your home’s transformation.
  • If you got a new one for a holiday gift, get rid of the old one. Clothing with stains or holes should be replaced with updated versions. Sort through your bookshelves to make room for new books, plus, your local library or school will be grateful for a donation.
  • Be sure to deal with your Toss and Donate piles on the same day you made them — if you leave piles sitting around, it might feel even more cluttered than before you started!
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself, however: this is not a one-day job. Be realistic about what you can get done. Break it up by room or by area. Living and dining room one day, kitchen and laundry room the next, and then on to the bedrooms.

A place for everything, and everything in its place. That’s important to remember as you move on to organizing: If you can’t find or make a home for it, then it doesn’t belong in your home.Boxes, baskets, jars, shelves; plastic, wicker, wire, glass: There are so many options for neatening your possessions and ensuring they’re readily accessible. Whatever you choose, here are some basics for keeping them organized and functional:

  • Put like with like. This seems like a no-brainer, until you realize you have 12 tubes of toothpaste.
  • Favorites up front. Things you use the most need to be the easiest to get to.
  • Label everything. If you’re not using clear containers, this is an especially crucial step, but even if you are, you can’t go wrong by labeling them. That way no one in your home will have an excuse for not putting things where they belong.
  • Break down storage spaces into even smaller units. Drawer dividers separate socks from underwear; under-sink shelves allow you to see how much toilet paper you have left and your cleaning supplies; a table or shelf in your entryway with (labeled!) baskets and bowls will ensure keys, purses, backpacks, and mail can all be found quickly and easily.

Well, some of these aren’t really hacks, but they are ways to maximize your storage, minimize your clutter, and help you get more organized so you can tackle other projects in your life (like decluttering your desk, or getting the kids to pick up after themselves).

  1. Look up — and down. Under the bed, over the door, on the side of a cabinet, on the landing: These are all places where a box, hook, shelf, or storage unit can be stashed.
  2. Store neatly. If you have an attic, basement, or garage, be sure you’re (neatly!) storing items there that you use infrequently but need to keep, such as holiday decorations or party supplies.
  3. Think vertically. Cookie sheets don’t have to lie flat. Shelving doesn’t have to stop at eye level. Repurpose a hanging shoe organizer for seasonal clothes like sweaters and tank tops. Or an over-the-door organizer for toiletries, freeing up your linen closet shelves for … you got it! Linens!
  4. Repurpose. A magazine holder full of pot lids. A spice rack full of beauty supplies. An old dresser drawer with wheels attached slipped under the bed. When you think creatively, you can switch storage meant for one item to a completely different purpose.

If you maintain an office in your home, these tips can help you keep that area organized as well:

  • Go paperless whenever possible.
  • Color code your files.
  • Label the wires leading from your computer, printer, speakers, etc.
  • Clear your desk of office supplies. Store them all in drawers or in a storage system similar to what you’ve just done in the rest of your home.
  • Set up a bulletin board that holds the day’s priorities.
  • Set aside 10 minutes at the end of the day to reorganize and prep for the next day.

Your productivity will go up as your stacks of clutter go down!

Of course, the most important part of this whole process is to stick to it. If you get it out, put it back. If you open it, close it. If it’s dirty, wash it. If it’s damaged, fix it. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”

Recognizing Real-Life Heroes

We’ve all seen heroes stepping up to the plate this year, and we know our lives have been made better because of them.

Here’s to you, first responders, educators, mentors, parents, family members, and the support systems and staff that help them do their jobs in the face of daunting obstacles.

We honor your sacrifices and your dedication on National Hero Day, and we can’t say thank you enough.

Everyday heroes exist all around us. Be someone’s hero today by volunteering, donating blood, teaching someone a new skill, or just listening to someone who is lonely.

3 Reasons to Refinance this Winter

Did you miss last year’s huge refinancing boom?

That’s ok — rates remain at historic lows, and you may yet be able to beat your current mortgage interest rate by refinancing now.

Still need convincing?

Here are three excellent reasons to consider refinancing your home mortgage.

  1. Debt consolidation: roll all your bills into one payment
  2. Improve your loan terms: save by switching from a 30-year loan to a 15-year term or to a different type of loan altogether
  3. Eliminate mortgage insurance: this premium can be waived if you have an LTV lower than 80%

Start your application with our super easy mobile app, RapidApp, or give us a call at 866-667-0900 to see how much you could save with a refinance. 

Hygge Tips for a Cozy Winter

Hyg-ge  noun, adjective, verb (‘hyoo-guh) Danish, from Norwegian.

“A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Oxford English Dictionary

Are you dreading the long, dark days of winter?

Practicing hygge can make staying inside this season more enjoyable and may even help you be happier overall.

Hygge is a Danish concept that is really more of a lifestyle: It’s about noticing the small pleasures in life and taking your time to acknowledge, reflect upon, and enjoy them in a comfortable setting with friends and family.

Hygge encourages coziness and simplicity in the home and is intended to help you find happiness every day, through concepts such as these:

Candles, fireplaces, blankets, comfort food, friends and family, warm drinks, books and music

The Scandinavian countries usually top any list of happiest countries in the world.

Take a page from their book this winter and pull on fluffy socks, wrap up in a blanket, settle into your favorite chair with a cup of cocoa and a book, and there you are: hygge.

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