Three ways to ease your fears about making a move

With low inventory in many markets throughout the country, many homeowners are afraid to sell their homes because they’re concerned that they may not be able to find a new one. This can be a real problem, but if you are seeking to sell-whether to upgrade or find a new neighborhood-there are a few ways to combat the low inventory.

Look to buy first In most markets it is a real mistake to put your home up for sale before you start looking for your new property. Identify the geographic area where you are interested in buying. Even if you don’t see anything on Zillow, it doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t find the right home.

Think outside the box Be proactive! Keep in mind that there are probably many people like you who want to make a move but are afraid as well. Have your real estate agent send a letter to the neighborhoods in the geographic areas where you want to live. The letter should be heartfelt and personal while announcing that you are ready to buy a home in that neighborhood. You could find a home to buy that may not even be currently listed or for sale.

Protect yourself legally Each state varies in how the purchase process is conducted. Talk to your real estate professional about adding a clause in the purchase contract for the home you are selling that will enable you to not sell the home if you cannot find a suitable home to buy.


Thinking about buying soon? Make sure your credit is in order

There’s no more important time to work on your credit score than when you’re about to apply for a mortgage. Improving your credit can save you a ton of money-we’re talking about thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Here are the actions you can take that will have a notable impact on your score.

Pay down your credit card balances Credit utilization is one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score. Your credit utilization should at least be less than 30 percent of your limit, and it’s even better if you can get it below 15 percent. This rule applies to both individual cards and your overall credit limit.

It may even be worthwhile to use some of the cash funds you were planning to use for a down payment to pay off credit card balances.

Do no harm While you certainly want to improve your score if possible, at the very least you’ll want to keep it steady. Avoid opening new lines of credit if you’re applying for a mortgage in the very near future. This will cause a hard inquiry to show up on your credit report.

Take care of negative items It’s good practice to check your credit report for negative items a few times a year-you can get one free report from each of the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) per year.

If you find any negative items (collections, late payments, etc.), write a letter to the original creditor. Explain the circumstances that led to the negative item, and request that it be removed from your report. It can be surprisingly effective, and removing a negative item will improve your credit score in a hurry. You can find some good templates for a request letter online.


Five big trends in home decor

Thanks to websites like Houzz and Pinterest and TV networks like HGTV and DIY, it’s easier than ever to keep up with home decorating trends and find inspiration for improving your own home. Here are five of the top current interior design trends.

  1. Screen-free rooms: After a long day of using your smartphone and computer, it can feel amazing to come home and take a technology break. More and more, homeowners are creating specific screen-free rooms-perhaps a library, craft room, or listening room-where you can escape from technology for a while.
  2. Upholstered headboards: What if you could feel like you were sleeping in a luxury hotel bed every night? The bedding and mattress are an important part of that experience, but so is the aesthetic and comfort of an upholstered headboard.
  3. Earth tones: Natural colors have become increasingly popular, especially deep greens. It’s a great way to bring some of nature’s colors indoors, whether as an accent wall, in blankets and pillows, or for furniture.
  4. Black stainless steel: If you want a sleek, contemporary kitchen, black stainless steel is even more of a statement than traditional stainless steel.
  5. Patterned fabrics: While solid upholstery will never go out of style, patterns have become trendy of late. It’s an easy way to make a bold, eye-catching statement in your living space.