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7 Tips for Decorating on a Budget

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

In today's economy, homeowners are watching their money more closely and going out of their way to give their home a fresh look by working with what they already have.

As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have access to many great home improvement resources. Home decorator Lee Evanwood offers the following advice for homeowners who are looking to decorate while staying in budget:

Rub down and stain or repaint old wooden furniture. Take advantage of that old furniture you have sitting in your basement. Simply add new drawer or door handles to achieve a new look.

Choose rugs. If the floor is already in good shape, you can get it refinished or try area rugs instead of carpeting. Not only are they chic and stylish, but they cost less, too.

Paint with a plan in mind. Try a neutral color on three walls, with a splash of color on the fourth. That splash of color can give you a starting point for further decorating.

Go with soft goods. A few new pillows or cushions that pick up the color on your accent wall can transform the look of a room. Add some inexpensive curtains, draperies or valances to help tie it all together.

Add some accents. Give a room a homey look by using baskets, vases and other small accessories to hold books and magazines, fresh flowers or craft projects.

Finish with artwork or mirrors. A pretty, framed print or two can help finish a room. Keep in mind that a mirror of any size on one wall can add depth and make the room appear larger.

These are just some of the many ways you can transform your home while staying in budget. Feel free to contact me for more ideas and please forward this on to anyone who can use a few inexpensive ways to create a new look in their home.

How to Qualify for a Mortgage in Today's Credit Crunch

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

There may have never been a better time to buy a home than right now. Earlier this month, interest rates dropped again -- the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.79% from 4.93%, according to LoanRateUpdate.com-- and there is still plenty of inventory, keeping home prices relatively low in our area.

Those positive factors, however, are often offset by tighter lending standards, causing many to shy away from applying for a mortgage. As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, however, I have learned that it really boils down to four main factors that will impact a lender's decision:

  • Your ability to make a down payment - usually between 3% and 20% of the purchase price -- of course, the larger the down payment, the better your odds of securing the mortgage.
  • Two years of steady employment - at the same job or in the same field.
  • Good (but not necessarily perfect) credit score - these days, around 660 may do it.
  • Monthly income between two and three times the estimated monthly mortgage payment.

I have had many clients, however, who have qualified for a mortgage without completely meeting the above criteria ... so don't rule yourself out too soon. There are several other steps you can take to secure a mortgage, such as these ideas from BusinessWeek:

  • Meet with a lender anyway. You may find out that you qualify after all, and if not, the lender can tell you exactly which areas to focus on in order to qualify in the near future.
  • Ask your real estate agent if they work with a particular lender or mortgage broker. An experienced agent works with many lenders and may even offer in-house mortgage services.
  • Get a co-signer. This isn't easy, because if you default on a loan, the co-signer will be responsible for paying it. But if you know someone with good credit who has great faith in your ability to pay, a co-signer could be a workable option.
  • Plan for the future. If it turns out you cannot qualify for a home loan right now, have your real estate agent help you map out a plan for improving your credit qualifications over the coming months. If you make homeownership a serious goal, you should be able to qualify in the not-too-distant future.

For more information about applying for a mortgage, please feel free to contact me.  And be sure to share this email with family and friends who might also be considering a home purchase -- this market is just too good to miss out on!

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Photo of Cheryl Scott-Daniels  Real Estate
Cheryl Scott-Daniels
CSD Select Homes
991 Post Rd East
Westport CT 06880
203-341-0100
203-200-0065
Fax: 866-806-6909