Category : Blog

Hero Highlight Wednesday | Beyond “To Serve and Protect”

Hero Highlight Wednesday

Watch this weeks Hero Highlight Wednesday video to see how some police go beyond the police officer motto of “To Serve and Protect”. These everyday heroes wear their hearts on their sleeves, just watch and see.

We are here to help  everyday heroes with our closing cost grants. If you are a teacher, doctor, nurse, fire/police professional, or social worker Contact us for more info!

Going Green at Home | 3 Easy Eco-friendlyTips

Photo: Stacy Esposito © SocialMediaEnterprises

Photo: Stacy Esposito © SocialMediaEnterprises

 Going Green at Home

Sustainable, renewable or eco-friendly; whatever name you use, going green has grown into something of a global movement. It is easy to realize this phenomenon, one only needs to open their eyes to see how many products today advertise to be energy saving or environmentally friendly. It is believed that the current generation will have an enormous impact on the environment over the next 50 to 100 years. Whether that be positive or negative is yet to be determined.

Going green at home is a great way to encourage your family and others to do the same. If we all pitch in to make smart choices regarding the environment, than perhaps it will be a positive impact that is realized in the future.  An eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. Here are a few easy eco-friendly tips to get you started going green at home.

Photo: Stacy Esposito © SocialMediaEnterprises

Photo: Stacy Esposito © SocialMediaEnterprises

 Easy Tip #1 – Change Them and Turn Them Off

Changing your incandescent light bulbs over to EnergyStar® rated LED will save energy and money. According to EnergyStar®, light bulb usage accounts for as much as 20 percent of a home’s energy consumption. LED bulbs use 80% less energy, as well as a host of other great benefits . Another great way to save money and energy is to get everyone in the house in the habit of turning off the lights and other electronics when they leave a room.

Easy Tip #2 – Feel the Heat

Almost half of a home’s energy costs comes directly from the heating and cooling system. A programmable thermostat can save you money. Sadly many people have one in their home, but they don’t use it. Maintaining a temperature in your home is less expensive than trying to heat it up or cool it down by turning the system on and off during the day and evening. Understanding  programmable thermostats can help you become eco-friendly and save you money.

Easy Tip #3 –  Drip, Drip, Drip Goes the Water

When it comes to water conservation, there are two ways of going green at home. First is simply being conscious of your daily habits of running water. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, only run landscaping water for a set amount of time and use the dishwasher over hand washing and rinsing your dirty dishes. These simple behavioral tips and others that you can find at Water Use It Wisley, will help save you money on your water bill. The second way to implement easy eco-friendly water conservation is by installing aerators to your faucets and low-flow toilets in the bathrooms. This can help save up to 50% on your annual water usage.

Changing habits and making some simple changes will help save you money. Using these 3 easy eco-friendly tips will get you moving towards going green at home. Even better, you will be contributing in a positive manner to the environment.

Hero Highlight Wednesday | Random Acts of Kindness

Hero Highlight Wednesday

This weeks video is an inspirational video showing how easy it is to make a difference. One small random act of kindness can change a life, make someone’s day or spark the idea in someone to do the same for another. Have you ever done a random act of kindness or been given one? Leave a comment and tell us your story.

We are here to help  everyday heroes with our closing cost grants. If you are a teacher, doctor, nurse, fire/police professional, or social worker Contact us for more info!

Popular Home Styles Part II

The History Behind The Architecture


A home with character is said to have beauty and warmth that is hard to describe. In Popular Home Styles Part II – we continue to look at home architecture and the features that make them unique.



The Tudor style home has a medieval storybook appeal. The name is derived from England, during the Tudor period (1485–1603) and the reign of King Henry VII. Of course the Tudor style homes seen here in America were not built in the 15th century. The architectural style rose in popularity in the 1920’s and 30’s and was called Tudor Revival.

There are several defining features of a Tudor home. The steep pitched, multi-gabled roofs are a characteristic which is perfect for rainy or snowy climates. This would be why there are more Tudor styles in the mid-western and eastern states.  The decorative half-timber framing on the facades and the multi-panned casement windows add to the charm of this style. Many have dormer style windows on the upper floors allowing for ample natural light to flood into the rooms. Stone walls and patterned brick are also common, as well as rounded doorways and enormous stone chimneys.

Mid-Century Modern


Mid-Century Modern style emerged onto the scene in America after WW-II. This architectural design was built from 1945-1980 and more than likely was born in California. This style is synonymous with the great Frank Lloyd Wright who trained other infamous Mid-Century architects, such as Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler.

The Mid-Century movement was exemplified by clean lines that integrated the beauty of nature. This accounts for the architectural features of large floor to ceiling windows, open space with flat planes. A Mid-Century home has an open floor plan and uses large sliding glass doors which inspires people to get outdoors and enjoy nature.



The Mediterranean style is influenced by the European countries that are north of Mediterranean Sea, including Spain, Greece and Italy. The style gained popularity during the 1920s through the 1940’s mainly in the coastal states of California and Florida. The hacienda style distinguished by exterior and interior arches, stucco surfaces and red tile roofs, are all typical features of the Mediterranean style.

The style has again had a resurgence in popularity among builders and buyers. Along with Mediterranean, the style is often called Tuscan or Spanish and features porticos, large balconies and heavy wooden doors. Other decorative elements include multi-colored painted tiles and ornamental wrought iron railings.

The variety of  home styles a buyer has to choose from only makes the housing market more exciting. Learning about the design features of each style beforehand may give you a bit of insight, helping you to determine which style is the best fit for you.

Hero Highlight Wednesday | Paying It Forward

Hero Highlight Wednesday

This week we are sharing a video we found about an 8 year old boy named Miles. His story made it to the Ellen Degeneres Show. Watch to see and hear what Miles did as Ellen shares his pay it forward story with her viewers. You will see that this boy’s heart is way bigger than most at his age.

We are here to help  everyday heroes with our closing cost grants. If you are a teacher, doctor, nurse, fire/police professional, or social worker Contact us for more info!


Popular Home Styles Part I

 The History Behind The Architecture


Homes come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and styles. Many people have strong opinions on what architecture style they prefer. While some like mid-century modern, others gravitate to older styles like Colonial or Victorian. Discover more about the different styles and the history behind the architecture.



Victorian homes derived their name from the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). It was during this period that the industrial revolution was happening and subsequently the housing boom in the UK, which resulted in millions of Victorian style homes.

There are actually several sub-styles within the Victorian style. The one pictured above is a Queen Anne style Victorian home. The architecture of a Queen Anne style features large front porches, steep pitched roofs, round turrets, patterned shingles and other ornamental elements. Often these homes are painted with a multi-colored palette. These homes exude character!



Craftsman architecture developed between 1860 and 1910 and lasted into the 1930’s. At the turn of the 20th century, a furniture designer by the name of Gustav Stickley was key to bringing about the popularity of the American Craftsman style. The style developed as a revolt against the industrial revolution. This is evident by the Craftsman style that naturally emphasizes handworked building materials over mass-production elements.

The architectural details of the Craftsman style include a mixture of brick, stone and wood features. The natural materials, along with the distinctive triangular low pitched roofs, give this style its great character appeal. Craftsman style homes are built with recessed covered porches, accompanied by tapered square columns, eaves that extend out using decorative braces, and vitiable wood beams.



The Colonial style home emerged on the scene in the 1600’s as settlers began to migrate to the New World, or as we now call it, the United States.  The diversity of European immigrants moving to the East Coast gave rise to many different variations of the Colonial style, including English Colonial, Dutch Colonial, German Colonial and Georgian Colonial.

Each Colonial style has elements that distinguish it from another, but usually the style is halmarked by a rectangular symmetrical facade, with small recessed entries and hip roof dormers. Quite often a Colonial home has double-hung windows with several small square panes. Keystone trim and flanking shutters are also common place accents on this home style.

Check back next week for Popular Home Styles Part II…



Celebrate Summer


Summer is Here!

Summer officially starts today Saturday, June 21. As we venture into the hot summer months, you will want to prepare your home for the heat. Several items on this summer ready list are obvious; however, there may be a few things you may not have thought about. Celebrate summer and check out these tips to get your home ready for the summer season.

Save Money

Deposit Into Piggy Bank Savings Account

A great way to save money on your energy bills during the summer months, when usage is high, is to switch off the lights and unplug electronics and appliances when you aren’t using them. Also, don’t  make your AC unit work so hard. If you have direct sunlight beaming through your windows, applying a reflective film, or using sun-protected curtains or shades will help keep the heat out. Installing and/or using ceiling fans, over the high cost of running your home’s AC, will save you cash.

Screening Your Screens


Opening the windows to enjoy the cool summer evenings and fresh air of the outdoors is great. Pets, children and sheer wear and tear can create rips and holes in your window and door screens. If some of your screens need  replacing or repair, now is a great time to do so, plus you’ll want to keep the six legged pests outside and not buzzing around the house.

Filter Fundamentals


It is recommended that your HVAC system filters should be replaced twice a year, once just before the summer heat rises and then once again before the cold winter arrives. Replacing old and dirty filters helps protect you, your family and your home from toxic air particles. Also, if your filters are clogged from long use, your HVAC blower has to work harder to get air to pass through and that adds up to higher energy costs.

Outdoor Living


Summer is the time to get outdoors. Having your morning breakfast or evening dinner on the back patio, and of course barbecues and get togethers are a part of the outdoor living experience during the season. However, those pesky crawling and flying critters are annoying. Get a bug free zone in your backyard by spraying kid and pet friendly bug repellent and lighting citronella candles. Placing the candles a few feet away from the area where people sit is best for them to be effective. Citronella oil is an all natural misquote repellent.

It is the season for friends, family and fun, celebrate summer!  

Staging Your Home to Sell

Appeal to Prospective Buyers

Put away the dirty sneakers by the door. Hang the jackets and coats in the closet and freshen the air with potpourri. Staging your home to sell is important if you want it to leave a lasting positive image in potential buyer’s minds. You want to emphasize your home’s strengths and underscore its weaknesses. With a few easy staging strategies, you will appeal to a greater amount of prospective buyers and leave many thinking, “Wow, this is a beautiful home!”


Captivating Curb Appeal

House hunters looking in particular neighborhoods, often drive up down the streets looking for sale signs or even open houses. If your home has poor curb appeal, looky-loos will likely  keep on driving straight pass your address. First impressions are key! Make sure your home is dressed to sell.

  • Power wash siding and walkways
  • Hang easy-to-read house numbers
  • Plant blooming flowers for a pop of color
  • Mow lawn, and reseed or add fresh sod as needed
  • Wash front windows and screens
  • Repaint or stain the porch and rails as needed

Sparkle and Shine

When meeting someone for the first time,  you have seven seconds to make a great first impression. Same holds true for your home. The easiest and the least expensive way to make sure your home passes the seven second rule is to clean and make each surface shine. Scrub grout, clean baseboards, touch up scuffs on walls, and don’t forget to clean window tracks. Put your best foot forward by making your home sparkle.


Contain the Clutter

Nothing is less appealing than seeing clutter. Getting your house ready to sell is a great opportunity to purge all that you may have been hoarding. Clutter can include stacks of mail, receipts, lists and phone messages. However, look even beyond the little stuff. Put away unnecessary kitchen appliances and even the coffee mug tree. Too much furniture is also a sign of clutter, so if you don’t absolutely need it, then think about storing it. Put away or pack all the family photos on the sofa table, mantle or walls. Clean and cleared off surfaces equates to more space in the eyes and minds of prospective buyers.

Stash Your Style

Your home may currently reflect your eclectic, vintage, or flower power style, but in order to appeal to the greatest amount of potential buyers, you may want to pull back your style a bit.  Make your home look sophisticated by using a more neutral color palette. This is only temporary, so don’t be too disappointed. You can bring back your homes personality in your new place!

Reposition Your Furniture

Rooms with symmetrical furniture groupings are appealing to the eye. Even more importantly, pulling your furniture away from the walls and floating it centrally in the room will open the space and make the room appear bigger. Rearrange sofas, chairs and tables into cozy conversational arrangements and create obvious traffic flow in the room.


 Purpose Your Spaces and Rooms

Do you have a catch all room or an awkward space that is used for storage? Re-purpose these areas and make sense of the space. Stage your extra room as a guest room, home office or den. In order for prospective buyers to realize your home’s potential, clearly define each room and odd space. Small spaces, like those under stairs, a small nook or alcove can become unique areas that are useful. Transforming these spaces into work stations, a mail center or a quite reading area will make for a great selling feature.

Fresh, Fruity and Floral

Don’t ignore the bathrooms, make an effort to make them look spa like. No dirty soap trays, no hair ties, brushes or bobby-pins. Add fresh decorative soap to your soap dish, and hang fresh clean bath and hand towels. Also, be sure the garbage pail is always empty and clean. For other fresh accents throughout the house, leave a bowl of lemons and limes or red and green apples out on the kitchen island. Fresh flowers in an attractive glass vase in the dining room, entry way or family room is also eye catching and most often creates a nice fragrance.

Create Closet Envy

Every potential buyer will open your closet to see if it is spacious. Don’t let them down by stuffing it full or having it be completely chaotic. Organize your closets by packing away unseasonal clothes, shoes and accessories. Clear off or at least organize the top shelf by investing in a few inexpensive decorative boxes or baskets to store items that are just laying about. Strive to have 20 to 30 percent open space in each closet to give the impression of large closet areas.


Outdoor Living in Style

Everyone enjoys fresh air and outdoor living. Create an outdoor space that invites potential buyers to imagine hosting family and friend gatherings. Be certain that any features like a pool or fire pit are clean and free of debris and toys. Consider seasonal embellishments by adding out door ambiance. Fresh lemonade in an attractive pitcher with clean glasses laid out on the patio table during the summer or a cozy fire roaring in your fire pit during the winter will add that little extra appeal. If your a condo owner with a tiny outdoor balcony or patio, dress it up with a café or bistro set. Add a cheerful table setting, a service tray with a teapot and tea cups or fresh juice and glasses will inspire your prospective buyers. They won’t be thinking, “oh what a small space.” They will instead imagine this quant space as being a perfect spot for a relaxed breakfast.

Staging your home to sell with these tips will excite your prospective buyers and help them to see the full potential your home has to offer.

10 Great Apps for Homebuyers


There’s An App For That!

Todays high tech mobile device world allows us to find what we are looking for right at the end of our fingertips anytime we like. If you are house hunting, trying to define real estate terms, or wanting information about a particular neighborhood , there are apps that can help. These 10 great apps for homebuyers will make searching for your dream home a great deal easier.

realtor_com  A free app that can search for homes for sale using particular criteria. Get alerts on price changes on the listings you have saved. You can even write notes directly to listings you are interested in. All these features plus so many more make this a great app.


homesnap Homesnap This free app allows you to snap a photo of any home in the US with your mobile device and then Homesanp will identify it and give you details about that property.  This is a fun app even if you aren’t looking to buy a home, maybe you just want to see what is happening in the market place.



Trulia  Has great new features in their free app that can help you find what you want in a new home. This app has auto notification, maps and directions and full screen property images.



100_terms100 Real Estate Terms to Know  What does HMDA, origination fees, buy-down mortgage or hypothecation mean? Find out with this handy app that defines terms and helps you understand real estate lingo.


quicken_calculatorMortgage Calculator by Quicken Loans Need to crunch the numbers on the go, then get this free app by Quicken Loans. Their are 4 different calculators; Payment: Purchase Calculator, Payment: Refinance Calculator, Amortization Calculator and the Home Affordability Calculator. All are user friendly and offer expandable answers that show additional information.


walk_score_appWalk Score  Find neighborhood restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, schools, parks, and more with this convenient free app. Discover what locals have to say about the area you are interested in moving to. You can also search your commute route and average time of travel with this app. Available for Android too!


great_schools_appGreatSchools Finder Looking for neighborhoods with great schools that have high ratings, than download this free app.  Discover detailed ratings, reviews, and test scores and find the schools you feel are the best fit for you and your family. Great app for families who are relocating.


MagicPlan This free app is magic indeed!  magic_plan_appMake floor plans of your home or the one you are interested in buying. Take pictures of different rooms and this app will measure your rooms then draw your floor plans for you. In addition, you can add objects, annotations, and attributes to create an interior diagram of your home. This app is for Android devices as well.


Sitegeist_appSitegeist Another free app! This one helps you to learn more about the demographics of a particular area. Find out statistics about age distribution, political contributions, average rent, commuting, temperature data, and popular local spots.


crime_stats_appCrimeReports  Keep you and your family safe. With this free app you can get real-time access to neighborhood level crime and sex offender information.  The app allows you to filter crime data by location, date, and crime type.



These 10 Great Apps for Homebuyers will help you find that dream home you want. Most are available for both Apple and Android, making it easy to take your house hunting efforts mobile.