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With the Holidays approaching and the new decade right around the corner, it’s challenging not to get wrapped up in the stress this time of year can bring. Between the constant traffic, bad weather, and eager shoppers, one can feel as though they're struggling to find time to even think! However, the traffic means we have many places to be. The bad weather reminds us we have a warm bed waiting at home. The sold out gifts mean we have people to give them to. For many people, this is not the case.

This time of year leaves many feeling lonely, and your small acts of kindness can go further than you think. Here’s a list of 10 small acts of kindness you can do to make someone’s day that much better:

  1. Leave nonperishable snacks & drinks for delivery workers
  2. Bring in donuts, bagels, or coffee for your co workers
  3. Donate foods, drinks, and paper goods to a local food bank
  4. Pay for someone’s coffee at the drivethrough or behind you in line
  5. Bake cookies for your Fire Departmant, Police Department, and EMTs
  6. Donate pet supplies to the local animal shelter
  7. Help someone carry out their groceries
  8. Leave money taped on a vending machine
  9. Volunteer serving at the local soup kitchen
  10. Leave a generous tip to a server

This festive time of year, we can be focused on seeing family members we don’t always get to see, giving gifts to our loved ones, and spending time with the people we cherish most. Through small acts of kindness, you can help make someone else’s most stressful time of year, their most wonderful.

 


On Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that the conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will rise to over $510,000 in 2020. This is up from the 2019 level of $484,350.

Data from FHFA shows that home prices increased on average from 2018 to 2019 by 5.38%. Therefore, the conforming loan limits for 2020 will increase by the same percentage.

This change will effect most of the United States, with a few exceptions. To see a map of the 2020 conforming loan limits, click here.

For more information on these changes, click here.


Fall Foliage

Sep 12
9:00
AM
Category | General

Whether you’re moving this Autumn or want to plan a fall weekend getaway, you may be curious to see the 2019 Fall Foliage predictions. 

As the days grow shorter during this time of year, trees react to the decrease in sunlight. Their color and vibrancy can also be affected by temperature, weather conditions, and drought. Taking all this into consideration, it is possible to predict when leaves will start shifting tones from green to yellow, to orange, and then to crimson. 

Around the first week of September, trees in the northernmost states and some areas around the Rocky Mountains will start changing color. By early October, most of New England, the Rockies, the Sierra Nevadas, areas around the Great Lakes, and the Pacific Northwest will be bright with color. In mid-November, peak color will be visible only in the southeastern states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. 

For an incredible interactive US map depicting the color changes from September through November, visit:  https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/ 

Are you a dedicated leaf peeper? Here are some other ways to incorporate the beautiful colors of fall into your home and life: 

  • Accent linens (towels, throw pillows, blankets, bedding) 

  • Autumnal wreaths 

  • Scarves and knit hats in your favorite warm hue 

  • Cook with seasonal vegetables such as squash 

  • For the techie – switch out your phone and computer wallpaper! 

Remember, no matter where you enjoy your fall fix, you can apply online with Easy Street powered by Norcom Mortgage. 


Back to School House Organization

Aug 23
11:02
AM
Category | General

Somehow, it’s that time of year again. If you live in a household with children, or if you are currently studying, there may be some ways to ease back into the school routine. We’ve rounded up five home organization ideas that could help you and your family stay on top of a routine and reduce stress! 

  1. Improve storage by the entryway to your home.  
    It is tempting to walk into your space after a long day and drop everything on the floor. But if you (and your kids) can take 60 seconds to put shoes into a bin or on a shoe rack, and hang up jackets, hats, backpacks, or briefcases, it will reduce clutter throughout the rest of the home. Plus, it will make getting ready the next morning much easier, which is essential in a busy household! If you have small children, you can color coordinate bins and hooks for each family member to help keep it fun and separate items. 

  1. Create a breakfast and/or snack bar or drawer.  
    In the mornings, for most working individuals or families, time is of the essence. For adults, a coffee and breakfast “station” means having a designated spot for your coffee maker, mugs (or likely thermoses for most!), breakfast bars, and fruit. This can streamline your morning routine and reduce the chance that you leave behind your morning cup of joe! For children who want an after-school snack, some families may decide to dedicate a lower cabinet drawer for snacks that are easily reachable. If you shop at a bulk store, it might be easier to stock up on some favorite shelf-stable snacks such as nuts, bars, or crackers. 

  1. Choose a designated homework spot.  
    Whether at the kitchen table or a desk, having a designated spot for daily homework can increase focus. This also helps make sure completed books or homework papers end up back in schoolbags for the next day. Avoid the temptation of working on the couch or bed and save those spots for when it is time to relax or sleep! 

  1. Organize your laundry.  
    Don’t waste time in the morning searching for that one shirt just to find it sitting in the dirty hamper. Figure out a laundry “schedule” that works for your family, whether that is doing all the whites, colors, and darks on separate nights of the week, or washing athletic clothes and work clothes on separate evenings. If you can, consider creating a “capsule” wardrobe of a few staple items that all work well together. By reducing the number of clothing items, you also reduce the amount of time you spend doing laundry! 

  1. Meal prep.  
    Many individuals have adopted this trend in the last few years as a way to stay on top of their healthy eating plans. But this method of cooking and storing portions of meals can work for a whole family too. Get the kids involved with prep on Sundays by making a whole week worth of lunches and dinners. Save time and money by making staple items such as brown rice that can be paired with beans and vegetables, fish, chicken, or added to salads. You can also make a larger batch of pasta and divide it into containers with several different types of sauces. Hard boiled eggs can also last for the week as snacks or on sandwiches and salads. Just don’t cut your avocados ahead of time, as they will be brown and unappetizing in the blink of an eye! 

If you or your family are getting ready to go back to school, knowing that you have a comfortable house to come home to is a great way to end every day! If something about your space just isn’t quite working with your school year needs, maybe it's time to think about remodeling a part of your home! Give a Norcom loan officer a call about a Renovation Loan. 


How to Choose Between Two Houses

Aug 5
1:29
PM
Category | General

So, you’ve been on the hunt for the perfect home, but instead of finding only one option, you’ve found two! What do you do next?

For most people, cost will likely be the first deciding factor. But if you are still on the fence, we’ve outlined six important elements we hope will help with the decision-making process:

Location

First and foremost, compare the location of each home. How close are they to the important amenities that you use most? Visit both homes during daytime and evening hours to get a feel for neighborhood noise levels, traffic, and general atmosphere of safety.

Renovation Potential

If you love the “bones” of both homes but know they will need significant upgrades, are you prepared to put in the work? Or is one of them more move-in-ready than the other? It is also important to consider whether the renovations are worth the time and expense to add to the value of the home.

Expenses

Two houses with the same purchase price could have very different associated expenses! Research estimated property taxes, especially if each house is in a different town. If you are looking at condos, be sure to compare condo fees. Another factor to consider is the home’s efficiency, and how pricey it may be to heat and cool the home.

Size and Storage

Depending on your current living situation, moving could mean scaling up or down in your stuff. Will your furniture fit in the new location, or will it feel like you’re in a dollhouse? When touring the two homes, pay attention to closet, basement, attic, and garage space. Think of the seasonal items and holiday décor (among other things that you may not want to unpack right away) that you will want to be able to store safely in your new space.

Current Owners' Décor

Falling in love with the current owners’ décor is an easy trap to fall into. You have toured two homes and love them both. But are you really in love with the blank slate of the home, or is it the current owners’ décor or the realtor’s staging? Remember that it will be your furniture filling the rooms, so it is most important to love the home itself rather than the current style. Of course, after moving in, you can restyle the home in any way you want!

Resale Value

Even if you have no plans of reselling your new home for many years, it is always important to think about the investment you are making. Consider the two properties’ potential resale value and don’t be afraid to ask your realtor’s opinion for this as well.

 

We recommend writing down the pros and cons of each potential new home, including ranking each category in order of their importance to you. Be honest with yourself about what your top priorities are!

Going through this process can really help visualize the pros and cons and help lead to a sound decision, especially if you and your partner are torn between two locations. Remember, your Norcom Mortgage loan officer can get you pre-approved and lock your interest rate with our JumpStart Pre-Approval Rate Assurance program while you take time to make this important decision. Happy house hunting!


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