• Are you having a baby? Here’s a handy, downloadable PDF with a list of 50 essential items you’ll need for your new baby. Whether you’re sorting through your baby shower gifts or drafting your shopping list, these tips may help you figure out what you need most.

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  • Although vacationing during the cold winter months is exciting, it’s important to take care of all the mundane details before leaving your home for a significant amount of time. Nobody wants to worry about the safety of their home while vacationing, and you won’t have to if you take these steps.

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  • Characterized by bright colors, woven fabrics and handcrafted pieces, southwestern-style decorating takes influences from Native American, Spanish and Mexican art. Whether you live out west and want your home to reflect your surroundings, or you simply want to incorporate colorful or handmade items into your existing decor, here are some tips to help you...

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Save Money, Cut Your Spending

Save Money, Cut Your Spending

“Where did my money go?” That’s a big question that comes up more often than we’d like. We spend money on many small things that seem inconsequential, but they do add up. To know where you need to trim your budget, it’s important to first know your own spending habits. For a two to four week period, carry a small notebook with you and keep track of every expense, no matter how small. Then evaluate your spending to see where you can make cuts. A great tool that takes the stress out of budgeting is Quizzle.com where you can get a full evaluation of your monthly spending. While you’re evaluating your spending, consider your biggest asset: your home. See if refinancing could help you cut your mortgage payment with our mortgage refinance calculators, then talk with a Home Loan Expert directly. Write down everything you spend. The waste in your daily spending will soon become apparent. Do you use an online budget planner like the one atQuizzle.com? Quizzle’s free, simple to sign up, and a great way to keep track of your spending. Pay off your credit card debt as quickly as possible. It’s much more difficult to get your finances in shape if you’re paying 18% interest rates on your credit cards. If you have to carry debt for a while, switch to a less expensive credit card. Take advantage of the introductory rate and use your monthly savings to prepay your debt as fast as possible. If you can’t pay in cash,…

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Home Improvements Increase Home Value

Home Improvements Increase Home Value

In the housing market, some home improvements pay off by increasing your home’s value, while others will do little to improve it. In general, updating your kitchen and bathrooms are always smart investments and offer the best home improvement value. Remodeling Your Kitchen The kitchen is the most important room in the house since it’s where much of the family interaction occurs. The average return-on-investment for improvements to the kitchen ranges from about 80% to 93% with average costs at $15,000 and up. If you don’t know where to start, try adding new tile flooring, re-facing old cabinets, and/or updating appliances to new energy efficient models. Remodeling Your Bathroom Bathroom renovations can yield a return of between 85% to 90%, with costs starting around $10,000. Adding a new bathroom can return as much as 85%, especially if you only have one bathroom to start with. And since it’s more difficult to sell a home with only one bathroom, adding a second bath can make your home significantly easier to sell. Some good improvements include installing double sinks, tile floors and new bath fixtures and faucets. Other Good Home Improvements Making home improvements can be a big undertaking. Larger improvements could include adding a fireplace, building a deck or patio, or adding a new heating or cooling system. However, you don’t have to spend huge bucks to upgrade the look of your home. Smaller, less expensive improvements could include replacing old doors or installing a ceiling fan. Cosmetic improvements can also…

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Home Loan Solutions

Home Loan Solutions

You have a lot to choose from when it comes to Quicken Loans home loan options. Know the differences before you make any final decisions. Does a 30-year fixed work best for you? Perhaps an adjustable-rate mortgage fits your plans the best and get you the lowest mortgage rate and payment. Get the best mortgage custom fit for you from Quicken Loans. Use our mortgage recommendation calculator to find out which home loan programs fit you best. Get pre-approved and know how much home you can afford. With our exclusive selection of mortgage options, you can: Get pre-approved* before you shop Lower mortgage payments Low down payment options No pre-payment penalties Take a quick look at some of our home loans: The Fixed-Rate Mortgage is our most popular loan! Our clients love the security of a fixed-rate loan. And when rates are this low, it makes perfect sense! A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that won’t change for the life of your loan. Usually that’s 30 years, but it can also be 10, 15, 20, or 25 years with Quicken Loans. FHA Express — The Fastest Way to Get an FHA Loan FHA Express is our version of the stable and popular FHA Loan, created by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA loans require the lowest down payment of any mortgage, currently only 3.5%, and even offer the most choices for refinancing an FHA loan, especially with cash out. FHA loans have lower income and credit requirements than conventional loans.…

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Market Update – Mortgage Bonds Down Early

Market Update – Mortgage Bonds Down Early

Mortgage bonds opened down this morning but rallied slightly following the initial jobless and continuing claims reports which came in lower than expected. Today, investors will be waiting to see the outcome of tomorrow’s November payroll report as well as to see if the European Central Bank will act to stop the spread of the debt crisis.

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Retirement Savings Tips For Every Age

Retirement Savings Tips For Every Age

With politicians tossing around the idea of raising the retirement age to reflect an increase in life expectancy, workers of every age are likely wondering “Will I ever be able to retire?” The answer is “yes,” if you are smart about your money starting at whatever age you are today.

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Finding Your First Home

Finding Your First Home

Although buying your first home and going through the mortgage process can be a somewhat intimidating process, it’s only because you’ve never been through it before. Looking for your first home can be quite exciting. So where do you start? From the get-go, make sure you’re working with a trusted real estate agent who can walk you through the ins-and-outs of home buying. They will help you narrow down your search, take you on private home tours, handle all necessary paperwork, and negotiate the best price just for you. You should also do your own homework on the side, such as driving through prospective neighborhoods, gathering information sheets from “for sale” properties, and taking pictures of houses you may like so you don’t forget which one is which. Read up on some financing options like FHA loans, secure 30-year fixed or 15-year fixed, and depending on how much you have in savings, check out home loan programs that require low down payments. You might also find it helpful to get some good buyer know-how by familiarizing yourself with terms that are commonly used in the housing and mortgage industries. Also, for more information check out our first-time home buyer tax credit video for tips and facts on how to get an $8,000 tax credit. Another way to look for a home is to check newspaper classified ads, popular real estate listings websites, or through real estate company websites. Why use a real estate agent? A real estate agent can be…

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First Time Home Buying Mistakes

First Time Home Buying Mistakes

Buying a home can be a confusing and complicated process, especially for a first-time home buyer. But if you follow these tips, you can make sure things go as smoothly as possible. Also be sure to check out our first-time home buyer tax credit video for more information and tips on the $8,000 tax credit. Mistake #1: Not finding the right person to guide you through the home buying process Mistake #2: Not checking your credit report and score Mistake #3: Not making your offer look good enough to sellers Mistake #1: Not finding the right person to guide you through the home buying process Many people forget that it’s just as important to shop around for the right real estate agent and lender as it is to shop for the right home. A wrong person leading you through this extensive process can lead to hassles and headaches. Having someone help you through the home buying process can match your needs and goals with the right mortgage possibilities. Solution: To find both the right real estate agent and lender, get referrals from family and friends. Do research online. Ask your potential real estate agents and lenders lots of questions! They should seem willing and able to answer any and all questions you may have. The more you ask, the more educated you can be to make the right decisions. A good real estate agent should show you many houses that fall within your price range so that you know what’s…

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Homeowner Tax Benefits

Homeowner Tax Benefits

Everyone’s situation is different — owning a home may or may not be right for you. Many people have different needs in different parts of the country. It’s up to you to gauge what your needs and financial abilities are. When you’re looking for a home, there are several things you should consider, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. With renting, you have no responsibility in terms of maintaining the home-it’s the landlord’s duty to take care of lawn care, snow removal, and repairs. Renting may also be good if you plan on moving within a year or if you are in an area, such as New York or California, where housing space is at a premium and can be very expensive. Financial and Tax Benefits However, owning has great financial and tax benefits – when you pay interest on a mortgage, that interest is usually tax-deductible*. If you pay points on your loan to reduce your interest rate on your home purchase, that amount is also tax-deductible* for that year. Anyone buying a home in 2009 and early 2010 (until April 30) can qualify for the first-time home buyer credit – a non-refundable tax credit of up to $8,000! This is a great incentive to become a first-time home buyer. Don’t miss out. Check out our first-time home buyer tax credit video for more information. Plus, the more principal you pay, the more equity , or ownership, you have in the home, whereas no matter how much you…

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12 Signs Your Debt is Out of Control

12 Signs Your Debt is Out of Control

Carrying some debt is very normal. Virtually everyone has debt. But the key is controlling and managing your debt, not letting debt control you. How can you tell if your debt has become out of control? Here’s a list of common debt danger signs: 1. You spend more than you earn 2. Creditors call you often 3. You live paycheck to paycheck 4. You don’t know how much you owe on your bills 5. You’ve paid late fees more than twice in the last year 6. You occasionally make late payments 7. You pay only the minimum on your credit cards 8. You put off paying one bill so you can pay another 9. You argue with family members about money 10. You take cash advances from credit cards to pay bills 11. You make purchases impulsively 12. You’ve taken money from your retirement fund to pay bills How to Manage Your Debt If you think your debt is out of control, don’t panic. With a little bit of self-discipline and smart financial planning, you can learn how to

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Prequalified? Get Pre-Approved Instead

Prequalified? Get Pre-Approved Instead

Confused about what getting pre-qualified or pre-approved means? You’re not the only one. There’s a big difference between a mortgage pre-qualification, a pre-approval and an actual mortgage approval. Getting Pre-Qualified for a Mortgage Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage helps give you an idea of how much you might qualify to borrow. But since you have not actually applied for a loan, and the lender only has your word on your credit, income, assets and liabilities, a home loan or mortgage amount is not guaranteed. With a pre-qualification, no information has been verified. If you receive a letter from the lender, it may only state that you are likely to be approved for a mortgage. A Better Solution While it’s helpful to be pre-qualified for a home loan, it doesn’t always guarantee you’ll be approved for a loan. Our pre-approved mortgage is based on your real credit score, and really puts real estate agents and home sellers at ease. At the same time, you’re in control when making an offer to a seller. They’ll know you’re a serious buyer who’s ready and able to make a deal. If you would like to learn more about the getting approved for a home loan, call us at (800) 251-9080 and talk to a Quicken Loans Home Loan Expert today.

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