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How to Read Your Credit Report

How to Read Your Credit Report

Do you know your current credit score? Before you even look at properties, if you are taking out a home loan, you will need to obtain a loan pre-approval. There are various factors that determine what you can afford and your credit score plays a big factor. Some buyers think they can afford more, or that their credit score is better than it is, so it is a good idea to obtain your credit score as soon as possible.

Learn more about your credit report from this Time video:

Dos and Don’ts When Applying for a Mortgage

You will have to obtain a home loan pre-approval (if you are taking out a loan) or provide proof of funds (if you are cash/not taking out a loan) in order to look at properties; however, a loan pre-approval is not always a loan approval…mainly because applicants may not always follow important steps in obtaining a loan and being qualified.

Make your loan application process go more smoothly by starting with this as a guideline, provided by Rebecca Mott and her team at Guaranteed Rate. This is just a start – talk with your lender in detail and look around to find the best lender for your needs.

Dos and Donts of Mortgage

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Homeowner Tip of the Day: Turning Off Main Water Supply

We’ve started a blog series called “homeowner tip of the day” where we hope you can learn just a little more about home maintenance and repair.

First in this series: How to Turn Off Your Main Water Supply

Whether you are making plumbing repairs/replacements, you hear water noise or you need to prevent further leaks…you will want to know where your main water supply is located. Learn more by watching the video below…

(This is for informational purposes only and we are not liable for anything pertaining to the video or advice. These videos are shared but not created by us or our team.)

10 Expensive Budget Mistakes New Homeowners Make


Cultura/Hugh Whitaker—Getty Images

Your down payment was far from the last expense you’ll pay as a homeowner.

Shelling out the dough for your house’s down payment was probably the biggest hit your bank account has ever taken, and the account depletion can leave you a little shaken — not to mention ready to start saving again. But your down payment was far from the last expense you’ll pay as a homeowner. Although the next couple of payments may not be as massive as the down payment, homeownership comes at a price — both on closing day and every month after that.

To keep you sane as you embrace your new life as a homeowner (and safe from buyer’s remorse), here are 10 potential expenses new homeowners should put on their radar.

1. Monthly mortgage

Of course, it’s pretty clear from the start that this is the big payment you will need to make on a monthly basis. You can certainly count on paying off your mortgage every month for the next 15 to 30 years, depending on the terms.

2. Property taxes

These are usually paid twice a year, but property tax laws vary state by state (and even by county). The great unknown here is that in some states, property taxes fluctuate year to year. Sometimes they can be reassessed at a lower rate, but realistically, if your tax payments change, you’ll likely be paying more, not less.

3. Homeowners’ insurance

This also varies by state and region and is influenced by other variables such as whether you have a home security feature or a certain number of smoke detectors. Depending on where you live and what kind of coverage you buy, insurance can run you anywhere between $500 and $1,500 or more a year. It helps to bundle your homeowners’ insurance with other types of insurance, such as auto and life. Insurers even offer you discounts for doing so!

4. Hazard insurance

This includes coverage for many types of natural disasters — earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes, depending on location. For example, if you’re looking for homes for sale in San Francisco, earthquake insurance may be more relevant to research than hurricane insurance.

Pro tip: Don’t wait until bad weather is looming to look into this: It’s important to be prepared early. Flood insurance, for instance, has a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before your policy goes into effect.

5. Condo, co-op, or homeowners’ association fees — and assessments

If you own a condo, co-op, or townhouse, you’ll pay an annual or monthly fee to maintain the building and grounds. Single-family homes can also have assessments if they are located in a particular area or subdivision with common property. This is routine in gated communities with security guards, a swimming pool, tennis courts, clubhouse, playground, or any common amenity that will need eventual repairs and replacements.

6. Utilities

If you’re renting, you’re probably used to paying monthly utilities. But as a homeowner, chances are, you may be paying a bit more now that you have a home (and maybe more square footage). Think about gas, electric, water, and a couple you probably didn’t deal with as a renter: sewer and trash removal.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re not throwing money away by leaving lights on or overheating or cooling your home. Research how to make your home the most energy-efficient to save money on utilities.

7. Big-ticket renovations and repairs

At some point in your life, you’ve probably been advised to put away money for a rainy day. That’s because a new roof can be very expensive! Upgrading the electrical or plumbing, or something icky such as sewage line issues, are all major costs. Then there are also the renovations you may someday want to make to turn your place into a dream home. Updating the kitchen or the master bath can completely drain your savings. Plan accordingly.

8. Routine maintenance

Things break; appliances wear out, faucets drip, screen doors get walked through. It happens. You’ll want to keep some emergency money handy for a clogged kitchen sink or rusted water heater. You’ll probably average a couple of hundred bucks a month in these “unexpected” costs, so build them into your budget now!

9. Pool and yard care

Depending on how much outdoor space you have to maintain, you’ll need to have money to cover routine expenses. Even if you decide to take the DIY route on some tasks, you’ll still need to hire professionals for occasional work, such as heavy-duty tree trimming or fixing a problem with your pool’s heating system when it breaks down.

10. Moving expenses and new furnishings

These may not be an ongoing expense, but are still a major one after you close on the house. You’re going to need a place to sit and sleep in that shiny new house of yours. Been furniture-shopping lately? It can get expensive, so leave room in your house-buying budget to turn the inside of the home into your own personal paradise!

Pro tip: Invest in some long-term, classically styled furniture so this expense isn’t as massive the next time you move.

Fall Is Here – Prepare Your Home

Happy Fall! Hope you had a nice summer. As the days get shorter and the leaves change colors and fall, keep in mind the following indoor home improvement and maintenance items:

Autumn Fall photo








(Image via Flickr user Kasia, via

Clean out the gutters

Remove debris and make sure gutters are clear so the gutters and drains can work properly

Check your furnace

Make sure your furnace is working properly sooner rather than later. You will also want to change your filter regularly and clean your furnace so it can work more efficiently and not become a fire hazard.

Clean your air ducts and vents

Make sure you do not circulate dusty air and debris caused by uncleaned ducts and vents. Additionally, removing debris, etc. eases airflow and increases the efficiency of the system.

Check for broken window and door seals

Make sure you are not losing (warm) air by checking cracks in the door frames and making sure windows are properly sealed. Also inspect garage doors to see if they close correctly. If not, install door thresholds.

Also, have exterior windows washed, have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary and make sure to close all doors promptly, so you don’t have unexpected guests/rodents, etc. as the weather gets colder and they want to go warmer places.


7 Home Inspection Items That Aren’t Included on an Inspection Report

Via HomeAdvisor

Hiring a home inspector is a crucial part of buying or selling a home. An inspector will assess the home for potential problems and identify any issues that may affect the continuation or negotiation of a sale in progress. But it’s also important to understand that inspectors don’t cover all of the bases in a home. In fact, it’s possible that an inspector may miss a significant issue. In many cases, you’ll need to hire a specialist to inspect certain areas, and you should always look closely at everything yourself. Here’s the skinny on the “home inspection checklist” and what is and isn’t covered:

#1 Inspectors don’t check for pests.

Home inspectors are not exterminators — their job is to find potential problems with the structural integrity of the house. So if you think you see a cockroach or another pest during a walkthrough, you’ll need to hire an exterminator to take a closer look. Don’t rely on the checklist or final report to yield that information.

#2 Inspectors don’t cover plumbing.

via Flickr MoToMo

Most home inspectors don’t have the qualifications to look at plumbing and can only call out visible issues like a leak or outdated plumbing. This means they probably won’t look at your:

  • Wall or undersink plumbing pipes
  • Swimming pools
  • Septic tanks

There are exceptions in which an inspector will have the qualifications to look at pools and septic systems, but this varies depending on the inspector and where you live. You shouldn’t rely on your inspector for this in any case. If you see serious cracks or dents in the swimming pool, you should probably hire a swimming pool pro to do an inspection. If you think the septic tank is making weird noises, have someone take a closer look.

#3 Inspectors won’t look at landscaping conditions.

While issues with landscaping should be obvious during a walkthrough — dead spots, potential pests, sprinkler issues, etc. — note that they aren’t on home inspector’s radar. If there’s a dead tree in the yard, you’ll be responsible for taking care of it. It probably won’t affect the final price of the house or your ability to negotiate with the seller.

#4 Appliances aren’t part of the inspection.

via pixabay

Home inspectors check only that the following appliances are working properly:

  • Washers
  • Dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Stoves

Most inspectors will run these appliances through just a cycle or two to make sure they work. So, the built-in microwave could have major problems and you wouldn’t know it. Plus, unless a major leak or smoke appears, the appliance is considered to be correctly functioning. If you think there’s a major problem, you should have an appliance technician perform diagnostics and necessary repairs.

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Homer Glen Approves Extension for Planned Upscale Shopping Venue

Homer Glen OKs extension for planned upscale shopping venue
Homer Glen upscale shopping center.jpg
A rendering of Waterfall Place, a planned 75,000-square-foot entertainment complex to be built at 12500 W. 159th St. in Homer Glen. (Legacy Development Group, HANDOUT)
By Michelle Mullins
Daily Southtown

An upscale dining and shopping venue is expected to be built in Homer Glen as the Illinois Department of Transportation finishes its 159th Street widening project in a couple of years, officials said.

The Homer Glen Village Board on Wednesday extended for another year its approval of the final development plan for Waterfall Place, a proposed 75,000-square-foot entertainment complex with shopping, boutiques, office space, fine dining, a spa and a gaming arcade to be built at 12500 W. 159th St.

Plans were approved in 2010 but the project stalled both because of the economy and the widening of 159th Street being in limbo.

Legacy Development Group for each of the past three years has requested and received from the Homer Glen Village Board a one-year extension to keep the project alive.

Developer Boris Predovich said Wednesday he hopes to time the construction of Waterfall Place with the end of IDOT’s widening of 159th Street from two lanes to four lanes, a project expected to take about two years after construction begins.

“We have a very active interest in moving forward,” Predovich said. “We have to be respectful to IDOT.”

Years in the making, the widening project is moving forward. Contracts were awarded last year for preliminary work such as tree removal and erosion and sediment control.

Waterfall Place is geared for families and is expected to draw regional interest, Predovich said.

Trustees also agreed to a request by A Touch of Green to move its monument sign but keep its electronic messaging board.

A Touch of Green, 12720 W. 159th St., is being forced to move its sign because of the widening of 159th Street. The company wanted to update its sign but still retain its electronic message board, but electronic signs are prohibited under the village’s sign ordinance.

Since the company had its sign before the village incorporated, the electronic message board was grandfathered in, but some trustees said that the business should comply with the sign ordinance since it is now changing its sign.

Other trustees said they were sympathetic to the business’s plight, noting that IDOT’s construction is forcing the sign relocation.

The board voted 4-3 to allow A Touch of Green to retain the electronic message board. Trustees Margaret Sabo, George Yukich and Sharon Sweas voted against it.

Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter.