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The Dollhouse: Living Room Before and After

One year later and here we are! Last September, I closed on my perfect little Dollhouse and now get to share the practically finished result with you! It’s been a labor of love for not only me, but my family and many friends that listened to me obsess over paint colors, decor and light fixtures. I’m so excited to open my door to you and show you room by room how The Dollhouse has little pieces of my personality layered throughout.

My biggest goal when starting the demo and renovations on my home was that it be an entertainers home and flow for parties and events. Now COVID put a damper on me hosting events anytime soon, but The Dollhouse sure is ready for one! Since this is a smaller home (~1,500 SF), it was crucial that my living room, dining room and kitchen all flowed comfortably and felt open enough without taking away from the original charm of the home.

Documenting the complete gut and renovation of my first home has been so important simply for the memories to one day look back on, but I’ve also so appreciated everyone that has followed along from beginning to end! The door is open and I hope you enjoy…

THE LIVING ROOM

Rug // Coffee Table // Couch // Lamp // Crown Light Fixtures // Pouf // Gallery Wall Frames

For the most part, I really did try to keep the character and charm of this home in mind during the process. I chose tall baseboards, worked with the original mantle and simply refinished the original hardwoods. My assumption is that the previous owners attempted to strip the original wall coverings from what you can see in the images, but once we got behind it (many people thought it was shiplap… it certainly wasn’t and was truly wood holding up the structure of the home) we got it quickly insulated and all the good stuff like drywall and paint followed suite.

I was most excited for the fact that I was able to keep the original mantle and front door. I needed the mantle to pop, but didn’t want it to contract too much with the rest of the colors so black felt like the best bet and I’m a big fan! Having a mantle that I can decorate was also huge for me. I love florals and seasonal decor, so I’m excited to change this out through the seasons.

Hands down, the best part of The Dollhouse is the natural light. There’s a window at just about every corner in this home (there’s 12+, y’all!!), but it helps bring a beautiful light into the home. Next, I’m focusing on window dressings and I cannot wait to share it with you all.

Keeping the furniture to a minimum but with ample room for flow and entertaining was obviously top priority. My living room flows directly into the front guest bedroom and the dining room. I love that this home gives space for a sectional but that I can see through to the other rooms and the dining/kitchen area.

Sitting and watching TV every evening above this mantle is always my favorite. Minus the funky and retro tile, the floor bricks, mantle and blocks in the fireplace are all original. It was a simple paint job for those and finding a tile that felt retro, but wasn’t too simple and not too busy was actually quite a challenge. Very thankful for the crew at Paint Etc. that helped me with all my tile and paint colors because those were some of my hardest decisions. I also had my sweet friend Designs by Dylan create this beautiful floral piece for my mantle and it truly changed the space!

A COUPLE MORE PRETTIES…

The Dollhouse is now bright, inviting and full of personality! Yes, I know a velvet pink couch is a little much but doesn’t it just make sense! It’s functional, though. I made sure that if I was going to buy this couch that it needed to pull out into a bed (that’s my form of function!!). It was so fun decorating my living room and finding the right pieces that matched and complimented the home without being overwhelming or too busy in the home. I’ve always heard that you should have one statement piece per room, and I’ve tried to stick to that principle.

I hope you enjoy and love The Dollhouse’s living room as much as I do! I am excited to bring you more room updates throughout the next few weeks. Thanks for letting me share my Dollhouse with you!


It’s a Hot Market Summer

We’ve had a hot summer with an even hotter housing market! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s been a wild ride watching homes literally fly off the market after barely being listing one day! One day, y’all! JUST ONE! I’ve been in more multiple offer situations this summer than I have ever before with not only my buyers, but my sellers as well. I’ve also never been able to get more first-time home buyers in homes than I have ever before. Rates are low meaning that money is cheap and homes are moving! I love, love helping buyers and sellers alike, but here are some of my fun closings with first-time home buyers this summer.

With barely seconds on the market, homes are being shown up to 10 times in one day with multiple offers, leaving lots of stressed out and disappointed buyers and agents. It doesn’t help that our inventory is LOW – meaning that there’s not a lot of homes on the market to choose from. So basically, when a good home hits… it’s GONE! This hot market summer (as I like to call it – playing off the infamous TikTok dance of Hot Girl Summer), has lead to frustrations and some buyers just wanting to throw their hands in the air and be done with the search. I get it! You want your home and you want it NOW with zero competition and stress.

Hot market summer is NO JOKE and I’m going to share ways to stay calm, stay positive and get that home you’ve been dreaming of. Buying a home is already stressful enough, so let’s cut through the tension and tears and get you that home!

HAVE PATIENCE. Yes, young grasshopper… have patience! Your real estate agent wants you in a home as badly as you do. With low inventory, homes moving faster than lightning and multiple offer situations becoming almost expected… so give everyone a little grace and kindness.

PAY ATTENTION. Do you have apps like Realtor.com downloaded? Do you regularly check your emails or texts for messages from your agent? Be aware of what’s hitting the market and if you see something that hit before your agent did, LET THEM KNOW! They’ll get you scheduled to see the home ASAP!

BE TIMELY. When a home hits the market, be as urgent as your real estate agent is. Be transparent with your agent when you can and cannot fit touring homes in your schedule. There will be some homes that your agent may want to show you the day it hits if it’s the perfect home for you, so respond to the emails, texts or calls in a timely manner and get in that home!

MAKE IT ATTRACTIVE. Know the difference at the beginning of the home buying process of what you need in order to buy a home and what you want. For example, you and your lender will discuss if closing costs assistance is a necessity. Do you really need to seller to purchase that ~$600 home warranty for you or could your offer be more appealing if you paid for it yourself? What about that refrigerator… Is it something you desperately need to stay with the home because it matches all the other appliances or can you get another one? The list can go on and on and on, so really seek your agent’s advice and guidance.

DON’T GIVE UP. The biggest thing to remember is to not get discouraged or just say you’re done looking for a home. Sometimes the perfect one pops up right at the exact moment you needed it to. Trust in your agent and truly trust the process!

LISTEN TO YOUR AGENT. Your real estate agent is going to guide you on making an offer that’s fair market value and ensuring you ask for everything you need. But listen, listen, listen when they’re giving you the tools and ways to make your offer the most attractive it can be in a multiple offer situation. You are who they’re fighting for!

Don’t let this hot market summer get you down. Happy hunting, y’all!

Dollhouse Update: Flowers, flowers and more FLOWERS!

It’s been a minute since I’ve given y’all an update on The Dollhouse! I officially moved in at the end of February, but it’s taken a little while to get all settled in. This whole stay at home order has actually been quite useful in transforming my little dollhouse into feeling like a cozy little home! And making it cozy means adding FLOWERS!

Since spring has sprung, that means florals are a necessity! I mean flowers just take a place from drab to FAB. I’ve been working on not only the exterior of my home with my flower beds and shrubbery, but my interior as well. I love a little color and vibrance, so it’s been fun getting creative with my family and friends on what I’m doing throughout the home.

What’s going on inside…

I know myself a little too well and decided not to overwhelm myself with too many live plants on the interior of my home. There are some times when you can DIY and others when you hire a professional. I knew that pulling together faux floral pieces would stay on the back burner for me and never get completed. That’s when you know it’s time to bring in the professionals! So I hired the very talented Designs by Dylan help me design some pieces to go throughout my home and he D E L I V E R E D! We collaborated and really found something that matches my v i b e and the dollhouse in general.

First was my fireplace mantle. I wanted something seasonal but I also just didn’t want to decorate a mantle with different nicknacks, so a garland style mantle piece was the choice! I also have a very large tv box that needed to be hidden and hydrangeas did just the trick. I love how girly and colorful it turned out! Dylan provides great videos and tutorials on how you can make your own florals, so check out his page and subscribe!

I also wanted frilly, pretty florals throughout the rest of my home, so we put orchid arrangements in my dining area and a fun succulent in my breakfast nook. I would have never thought about orchids, but they were the perfect chill flower to add into my very loud dining/kitchen area. I love finding fun ginger jars at estate sales and we actually ended up using a soup bowl ginger jar for my succulent arrangement. It’s a fun way to add a personal touch!

While I do have my faux florals, I did decide to go brave season and get some REAL plants. You know… get that clean air and purify a little bit. I got the cutest plant holders from Wayfair and hopped over (safely, through social distancing) to a local plant store and got a Fiddle Leaf and Snake Plant. A lot of your local stores will let you call ahead or order online and all you have to do is pick up your plants!

When it came to using real plants on the interior of my home, I wanted low maintenance but also pretty! I chose a fiddle leaf plant because they grow large and the leaves are grand and beautiful. It’s a plant that can take over a certain corner and be used as decor versus hanging a piece of art. The next plant I chose is the snake plant solely because they are legit low maintenance. Not a lot of love is needed for those little things!

Now my mother is a master gardener… like literally. So I’m working toward that! Being a new plant mom, though, I have learned some tips and tricks:

  • Water by using ice cubes. This helps prevent over-watering and lets the water drizzle down slowly. I do it once a week (I’m doing every Sunday evening to stay consistent) and I test the soil to see if it’s dry or still moist.
  • Clean off the leaves. I’ve used a damp towel to clean off the dust that the leaves can attract.
  • Look for the light. These plants don’t need direct sunlight, but they need to be near a window or area with indirect sun shining in.
  • If there’s a brown spot, cut it off! It won’t go away, so do away with that spot and let your plant shine.
  • Give it a name for no other reason than it’s just fun! My fiddle leaf is officially named Figgy Fresh and my snake plant is Ms. Snake. They only have names because honestly I feel like that helps me not forget them!

I also ordered small plant saucers from Amazon for the bottom of my planters to hold in moisture and placed these planters by indirect sunlight near one of my living room windows. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been moving the plants around a lot to see where they thrive… all about surviving right now over thriving, though.

I am planning on adding a couple more interior plants and even plan to transform my sunroom into a little green space/oasis. I’m dreaming of ivy hanging and spider plants throughout! I highly recommend adding in some beautiful florals to your home whether it’s fresh from the yards, air purifying plants or even some faux florals to keep it cute! It can really liven a place up.

NOLAN AWARDED SELLER REPRESENTATIVE DESIGNATION

I’ve always prided myself on education, education, education! I’ve found it to be the best foundation to ensure that I’m continually learning. I love to listen to new podcasts, read different books and skim through magazines. While all of those have been great and inspiring, I also made a promise to myself to receive designations in real estate that will help me better my knowledge and better represent my clients. I’ve learned that experience counts and credentials matter!

I’m honored and excited to announce that I have been awarded the Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) designation, the premier seller agency designation in the country. The SRS is conferred by the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI) and is an official credential of the National Association of REALTORS®. I join an elite group of real estate professionals from around the world who have earned the SRS designation. All designees are required to successfully complete comprehensive coursework in seller representation, demonstrate significant seller representation experience and expertise, and subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Here’s what I gained from this designation:

  • Trained seller advocate who knows the importance of client needs through each step of the selling process
  • Extensively trained in a variety of marketing methods to uniquely promote your property to the widest range of prospective buyers
  • Understands importance of staging properties for best results along with accurate pricing to attain desired results in a timely manner
  • Negotiation skills to ensure a successful transaction
  • Keen understanding on how to collaborate with a variety of cooperating agent of all skill level to help you get the best buyer

In addition to my SRS designation, I’ve also received my Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (NAR) and Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS) designation by the Luxury Home Council (LHC).

With this new designation, I am providing clients with confidence, trust and experience. You can feel confident working with me as your Seller Representative Specialist.Let me help you take your home from for sale to SOLD!

Staying Green While Staying Home

Right now, we are all spending more and more time at home during COVID-19. And with all of this time inside our homes, we are likely using up more energy and not being quite as green as we want to be. We are leaving lights on, cranking up that A/C and maybe leaving that back door open a little longer.

While we are home and since today is Earth Day, I’m going to share ways we can conserve and stay green while at home. Now there’s no need to get all crazy and make drastic changes in our homes because we’ve gotta stay sane. So let’s keep it simple.

Unplug appliances. Honestly, I’m guilty of just leaving everything I own plugged in. So don’t mind me while I go and unplug the toaster I haven’t used in a hot minute.

Turn off lights. Not in the room? Turn the lights off. An even better and easier solution could be to switch over to smart lights and do it from an app on your phone. I’m a BIG fan of my smart lights and have them hooked up to my Alexa system.

Switch to LED. Change out those old light bulbs and change over to more energy efficient lights like LED. First of all, LED is brighter and just really can change up the vibe of a room.

Check that Temperature. Keep an eye on your thermostat. Are you heating or cooling a room you don’t use? Keeping your home too toasty or like the antarctic? Adjust to save energy. Even better, invest in a NEST Thermostat. I have one and love that it automatically sets to ECO Mode when I leave the house.

No waste pact. Make a deal with yourself to waste no food in your pantry/fridge. Cook all that you have before you head to the grocery store. This may give you an opportunity to get creative with your cooking!

Switch to paperless. When paying bills for your home, do it online and reduce wasting paper. Opt out of receiving mail.

Plant inside. Make your own indoor green space. Get a fiddle leaf or snake plant and add a little oxygen flow in your interior. It looks cute, too!

Open those blinds. Natural light is the best light! No need to turn on lights or lamps when you’re using that nice sunshine from outside.

There are so many other great ways to keep your home, but these are just a few items you can add to your daily checklist. Stay home and stay green!

What Am I Even Signing: One to Four Family Residential Contract

Not to be the bearer of bad news here, but when it comes to buying or selling a property it’s more than just house hunting. There’s a big portion of the process that all about contracts. Sounds boring… I know. But this is really the most important part! You’re signing your life away on a very, very expensive piece of property, so it would probably be nice to know what you’re signing…right?

While you typically trust your agent and would prefer them to just tell you to initial here or sign there, I always make an effort to sit down with my buyers or sellers (especially first-time home buyers) to walk through the contract they’re signing. Luckily as a REALTOR® in Texas, we are giving contracts and forms that have been prepared by attorneys that protect our clients, but regardless you should still know what you’re signing! I’m not going to break down the whole property contract line by line, but I will tell you what a lot of the verbiage means at a high-level help you understand what you’re signing.

I would like to always note that you should to consult an attorney if you have any questions about a real estate contract.

WHAT ARE YOU EVEN SIGNING: ONE TO FOUR FAMILY RESIDENTIAL CONTRACT

Now here’s to the heavy stuff. There’s a lot of information, numbers and details. I find it important that you understand every page of this document before you sign it and this is why you sit down with your agent prior to signing to have any questions answered, but for this blog’s purpose I will breakdown the top items to understand.

Sales Price: This is your total purchase price. It is broken down by your cash portion brought to closing and your borrowed funds through your loan.

Earnest Money: This is typically 1% of the purchase price of the property. You’ll input to amount and what title company you’ll be using (both the earnest money and title company are negotiable). This is credited at closing.

Title Policy: The seller normally pays for the title policy, but this is negotiable.

Survey: The title company and your lender will likely need a good survey on file but sometimes a neighborhood plat works. If the seller has a survey on file then great! If not, this is something to consider whether the buyer or seller purchases. Depending on the property, they can be pricey.

Property Condition: Allows for you to conduct inspections, confirms you’ve received a seller’s disclosure about the property and acceptance of the property. The main takeaways from this portion is to ensure you’ve received and thoroughly reviewed the seller’s disclosure (if applicable for the property) and accept the property as is. Yes, you will still have an inspector come out to the property, but the main reason you wouldn’t accept the property as is would be if the roof must be repaired and other major defects that could be there and are obvious.

Residential Service Contracts: It’s always nice to have a home warranty on the property to protect your HVAC or hot water heater. You will determine what type of home warranty you prefer with your agent and input the price in the contract. You don’t have to ask for one, but they’re great and this is typically covered by the seller for the buyer.

Closing: This is the determined date you plan to close on the property. There is always a possibility the date can move up or be pushed back. It’s typically pushed out 30 to 45 days from the day of signing the contract.

Possession: You’ll either have possession of the property upon closing and funding or there will be a leaseback on the property. Leasebacks are needed if the seller needs more time to move out or buyer needs to move in earlier.

Settlements and Other Expenses: Are you needing closing cost assistance? This is the portion where you would put that amount. Your lender will know what your financial situation looks like and can guide you on this aspect.

Termination Option: This is the timeframe that you’ll use to have your inspection conducted. You can negotiate the amount of days and the amount of money paid to the sellers. People typically ask for 7-10 days and pay $100. This is credited at closing. Your termination option begins the day after the contract is executed.


While this does not include every little piece of wording in the One to Four Family Residential Contract, it does give you a good idea and understanding of what you’re signing. Your REALTOR® is there to protect you and answer any questions you may have when signing a contract. They always have your best interest, it’s our responsibility! Remember that no question is stupid, so ask away!

Preparing for your Custom Cabinetry

New, new, new! Whether it’s a new build or a remodel, custom cabinetry is typically part of the process. When it comes to cabinetry none of it is simple but it also doesn’t have to be complicated. Seeing as I just went through this tumultuous process, I wanted to share some of my pains, tips and things you don’t want to forget!

When it comes to cabinetry you’re main priorities are fitting in your appliances and leaving a little bit of rooms for storage. Some people may want simplicity and not need much storage while others may be the entertainer of the century and need rooms for platters, decanters and more. At the end of the day, though, what really is the most important is the space you’re allotted and the creativity of you and your cabinetry company.

Creativity – This is where Pinterest became my best friend! First of all, did you know you can save folders within boards? GAME CHANGER!! I pulled different aspects that I like in kitchen cabinets and created my own little vision board to showcase specifically what I was looking for and what was a priority for me.

Cabinetry Company – You’re likely going to meet with multiple companies (I recommend a minimum of three) to get quotes and see what they can envision as well. I met with about four companies and ended up going with the one that wanted to help me create my vision. You need to find someone that finds solutions for your wants and needs in cabinetry and makes it work! For example, I really wanted a wine fridge in my cabinetry and understood it was such a tiny space… but I finally found a company that helped me make it work for my area.

Let’s think about your wants and needs when it comes to cabinetry. Some add ins and necessities to keep in mind.

What are your cabinetry needs?

  • Room for appliances 
    • Stove – Are you doing a slide in or separate package units?
    • Dishwasher – Want it close to sink!
    • Microwave – Are you doing a vent hood microwave? Lower Cabinet? Drawer?
    • Refrigerator – Is it attached to cabinetry or not?
  • Pots and pans drawers – Trust me… you need some deep drawers near your stove!
  • Flatware and Utensil Drawers – Necessary!
  • Dish towel and oven mitt drawer – Need!
  • Spice Cabinet – So many alternatives for this with a vertical pullout near the stove or a drawer style. Don’t take this for granted – it is important.

What are your cabinetry wants?

  • Soft close hinges – It’s not necessary but people do LOVE these! They can also save from scuffing up cabinets from slamming the doors shut.
  • Cookie Sheet/Cutting Board Storage – Gives easier access and is a great use of space.
  • Hidden Trash Can – Don’t care if your trash can is seen? Then forget this. But if you do, these are a fantastic way to hide your trash!
  • Under Lighting – You may want room for hidden lighting above your countertops. It can REALLY brighten up the space.
  • Upper Cabinet Space – Do you want your cabinetry to go all the way to the ceiling or do you want a display area? I personally like more storage to keep all of my entertaining pieces close or candles near.
  • Wine Rack or wine fridge – You may have room above refrigerator for a wine rack or an end corner for a wine fridge. My big thoughts on this – go ahead and add something like this in so you don’t get one year down the road, wish you would have added it and then it looks like an afterthought next to your beautiful custom cabinetry.
  • Drawers within Shelves – These are a big plus when I show homes! Being able to pull out drawers once you open up cabinetry doors help you see EVERYTHING in that cabinet.

Wanting an example for a small space with an open floor plan? Here’s a look at mine! One bit I have from my cabinetry selections was to add the shaker doors to the front facing portion (back end of cabinets). I have one hidden storage spot but didn’t want there to be one odd door, so the company matched with false shaker doors. Big fan!

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These cabinetry necessities are just a scratch on the surface for what you may want in your kitchen. Would love to hear what you love in your cabinetry or what you wish you would have added.

 

The Dollhouse is Looking… Livable!

Livable. The Dollhouse is looking like it is L I V A B L E! This is big because for a minute there it looked like the interior would never come to this point. The floors are pretty and stained, cabinetry painted and countertops are installed. We are getting there and I have a countdown for move in day… but we all know that number changes on the daily.

Since the last time I updated you, we were just getting ready for cabinetry and a lot has happened since then. Here’s a breakdown of the big happenings in The Dollhouse and some ups and downs that came along with it.

CABINETRY

To say I love my cabinetry is an understatement! I designed to fit everything I wanted in it from my wine fridge to a hidden trash compartment. I did the installation solo – my amazing mom and dad have come to a lot of installations with me because they’ve done this a time or two and I value their opinion more than anything else! Everything was installed perfectly, but there are some notes/tips I have for first time cabinetry peeps:

  • It won’t all align perfectly. The cabinetry people install doors and drawers but will come back after it is all painted to make sure they’re even and balanced. They know that with painters the doors and drawers will be taken off and put back on so they come back to make sure it looks perfect. I did not know such a thing and was like what is this!!!!  With a quick call to my parents they informed me this is very normal, but for most people doing this the first time it’s not so obvious. The more ya know!
  • Think about your crown molding. You may want the crown molding to line through the top cabinetry to have a flow throughout the room. This isn’t a huge ordeal, but something to think about and keep in mind.

It’s funny that I thought designing the cabinetry was the hard stuff because picking a paint color was even harder! From the beginning I have been dead set on painting my cabinetry green. Not Nolan Green (those that know my family know this is a thing – my parents have everything a particular green at the ranch), but a very jewel-toned, Wizard of Oz Emerald Green.

How did I choose? We did a couple of dry samples of papers and held them up against the cabinetry to help me really visualize the colors. This came with some picking and choosing but I went with Sherwin Williams Ivy League paint color and it DELIVERED! 

Once the color was picked, it took two full coats and some extra time to dry, but the end result was WORTH IT! Going with a bold cabinetry color was always the game plan for me and the green choice was something that I didn’t second guess for over two months (which seemed good enough for all the other back and forth decisions I’ve made). I’m so happy this was the color I went with and just see how bold it looks!

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COUNTERTOPS

Initially, I thought this would be a much simpler option than it was. After gathering bids and comparing quartz versus granite, my choices kept getting slimmer and slimmer with the budget I needed to stick around. I really had to sit and take into account that my vibrant green cabinets and future black and white floor tiles didn’t need a crazy countertop to compete with. I wanted simple and clean, but that’s not necessarily what comes to mind with granite so after lots of looking and online searching, I decided that quartz was my answer.

With some major search by Tim Fielden at Simply Floors and Lights in Gilmer (shop local, y’all!), we found the PERFECT plain, beautiful and simple white quartz countertop called Zen White. I really thought I wanted the calcutta quartz countertops or even the gray granite, but there was just too much movement going on in the countertops to give attention to all the other features I was adding in my kitchen.

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REFINISHING ORIGINAL HARDWOOD FLOORS

This was the TOUGHEST OF THEM ALL!! I am so lucky to have original hardwood floors in the majority of my home and knew from the get go that these would need to be refinished. This is basically one of the last big steps in the remodel process. The original flooring had a very multi-colored effect and you could see in other rooms where previous owners have tried to stain on top of previous stains. It was time for these floors to have a fresh start!

This all started with sanding the floors down which took about two days, picking a stain and being kicked out from peaking at those beautiful floors so they could finish for 3 days. The most challenging part of refinishing these floors for me was the stain color. I looked at an online deck and my refinishing guy put down samples to choose from. I looked at the floor stain options at night and in the daytime to see it differently with lighting.

While the pictures don’t quite do the floor the justice they deserve, I ended up choosing Walnut (middle option on bottom row). Funny enough, that’s the color I originally chose from the stain deck before event seeing it on the floor – stick with you gut kiddos!

While a lot of people will recommend to not go darker, with everything going on in my home from the green cabinets to the potential decor, there has to be dimension to break it up with the flooring.

I patiently waited over the weekend and didn’t even PEAK through windows to see the flooring. I’m so please with how they turned out, especially against my cabinetry. I wanted a very warm vibe and it’s just that!

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I really want to say thank you to everyone that has been so invested in the remodel of my little Dollhouse! I feel like people get just as excited about the littlest updates as I do and that really means the world. There’s so much more to come with finishing up my light fixtures, tile installation and closet completions. Thanks for following along!

Bethany’s 12 Books of 2019

Another year, another opportunity to try and get back to my old bookworm ways! For 2019, I have decided to know my strengths and my weaknesses and chose to maintain the same goal from 2018 (read about it here) – which is to read 12 books throughout the year. Now when I say read… I mean listen. Ya girl over will fall asleep reading a book, so Audible has become my best friend! While it sounds like it would be simple for me to read *listen* to one book per month, that’s actually a tough one for me. I typically squeeze books in when I’m traveling or driving long distances and use that as an opportunity to dive into a book. Listening in segments on and off just doesn’t work for me.

For 2019, I am proud to say that I have completed 12 books… yes 12!! That’s big because this is accomplishing my reading goal two years in a row. It really is a big accomplishment for me to take time to lose myself in a book to help either build me professionally OR just give myself a break and enjoy a good story. When it comes to my reading selections, I try to rotate between professional and personal development and a some fun reads between.

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Below I’m breaking down some of my top reads of 2019:

The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines

Big Fixer Upper fan girl over here, but this book is so much more than a high level look at the life of Chip and Joanna. First of all, I love that they both told their story of how they got where they are now from both of their individual perspectives and what they’re proud of and not so proud of. They really dug into the struggles of buying and flipping with all the risks and how long it took them to get to the rewards. Highly recommend this read whether you’re in real estate or not!

The 10X Rules: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone

It’s all about reaching extreme success! Grant Cardone is a LOT to take in when you first start following along, but he’s not just here to tell you how to reach a goals, he’s here to to tell you how to go 10X above that goal. This book dives into how to be crazy with your goals and dreams not just yearly or monthly but DAILY. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “If competition is healthy domination is elimination.” Now that one will make you think and the whole book really makes you sit back and go well okay I’m obviously not doing enough… let’s level up!

Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk

A little disappointed I haven’t jumped on the Gary Vaynerchuk train until right now. Like get it together, BETHANY! I’ve always seen his videos and TikToks here and there but didn’t realize that he is a wealth of knowledge and seriously gives it out basically for free online and gives great guides on how to be successful in both of his books (both are FANTASTIC reads). I read these out of order, but both books are insanely useful. This specific book is more of a high level look at his success and what he did to get there. What I love the most is that it doesn’t matter what you want to do, he will open your mind and eyes to create a way to be the best at it. Want to do garage sales and flip items? He’s got you covered! Follow him on all of his social channels because he’s seriously just throwing out advice to make you a success. Quick and easy read!

The Altman Close: Million-Dollar Negotiating Tactics from America’s Top-Selling Real Estate Agent by Josh Altman

This book is Josh Altman’s most recent release that came out in 2019. I’ve always enjoyed watching him on Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and always find it useful to learn from other real estate agents that are on such a level as his. What I liked to learn about was his beginning was very calculated even when he thought it wasn’t. He started in mortgage lending while his brother in talent management for sports that eventually led them to real estate and high end clients from previous careers.

I also enjoy his confidence. There’s a certain fine line between being confident and arrogant and he crosses them all the time, but he uses these at his advantage in real estate. It’s a good read… but I do wish he would have done the narrations in the audiobook. Could have followed along a little easier!

Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom

So I kind of did this one backwards, but I love a good book that transforms into a movie! Honestly, it was just a really good read and fascinating story to follow along, but there were still some little takeaways. What I loved about this book is Molly Bloom’s character and let me tell you… this lady is LOYAL! She’s always thinking ahead to the next step and respects her clientele enough to never reveal any information and still to this day hasn’t!   

The other books I read in 2019 include:


 

If you’re more of an Audible reader like me, I’m giving you a special promo for an Audible membership here. You may think getting a membership is overrated, but I love it because it holds me accountable each month to use my book credit and purchase a book to read along. It does roll over with credits each month if you don’t use it as well!

Looking forward at my 2020 goals specifically around reading, I’m pushing myself to up my goal from 12 books to 20. I plan to read 20 books in 2020! Have any books you loved or are excited to read? Share with me and I’ll add it to my list!

 

Common Misconceptions of First Time Home Buyers

Daunting, overwhelming and terrifying. Exciting, thrilling and blood-tingling! That’s exactly what home buying can feel like for a first time home buyer. It can be a roller coaster of emotions throughout the process of purchasing or even thinking to purchase. I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt to live and tell the tale. I’ve also help a LOT of first time home buyers in this process as well and I have heard all the questions and misconceptions of home buying. One thing I always try to emphasize to my buyers is that no questions is stupid. Not one!

As always, I want to be a resource for my sweet first time home buyers, but I also think it’s important for anyone thinking about buying to know what is even possible!  I’ve pulled together common misconceptions that first time home buyers to help you or even a close friend or family member to see what’s possible with first time buyers.

Real Estate Home Selling Social Media Graphic

Common Misconceptions for First Time Home Buyers

I can’t afford to buy a house!

You don’t know that yet! This is why it’s great to meet with a mortgage loan officer or your local bank to explore ALL options. You may actually be ready or they can help create a timeline and program to get you on track whether it’s increasing cash flow/assets or building credit.

I’ll save more money if I rent. 

Want to hear something W I L D? ! A lot of first time homebuyers end up having mortgages that are LESS than what their rent was costing them. Crazy! While you’re thinking you save on repairs and upkeep on the home, you’re still toward someone else home and not you own. Why not pay toward your own dream? I need to have a 20% in cash for a downpayment! 

No one is asking you to liquidate all your cash monayyy! There are so many great loan programs like FHA and USDA loans that require very little (like 3.5% down) or zero down if you’re in a rural area. FHA loans are fantastic for first time home buyers and great lenders can also find grants to help assist in closing costs.

If you’re in the military or a veteran, you can also look into VA loans where they will take 0 down. There are programs for E V E R Y O N E!

I need to have perfect credit! 

Your credit needs to be good, yes. But it doesn’t have to be PERFECT! While credit scores can effect your interest rate, there are many ways that lenders can find the right loan program or ways to build up your credit quickly to prepare you to purchase YOUR own home.

I need to have a job for 2 years before I can buy a home! 

Not going to lie, I always thought this as well. While this does pertain for self-employed people to show a complete history, salaried people have a different set of rules. Sometimes all you need is a letter from your workplace with your salary and some pay stubs.

I can’t afford repairs. 

Ever heard of a home warranty? I try to always get my buyers a home warranty that covers repairs on AC units and other appliances in their home. While home warranties don’t cover everything, they do help pay toward some larger expenses. All you have to do with a home warranty with pay an upfront fee that could range from $60-75 per visit from contractor sent to repair items. These home warranties can basically pay for themselves over time.

I don’t bring in enough money. 

You don’t have to be raking in the dough to buy a home, you just need to be consistently making money! You Realtor and lender will help guide you on budgeting and staying within your limits on what you can afford, but never assume what you cannot do.

I need to find the home before I get approved for a loan. 

WRONG!!! I typically won’t even show a client a home until they’re approved for their loan. Here’s why: I hate to take a client into a home, they fall in love and then come to find out… they can’t get approved for a loan to purchase the property. That’s a bummer and then the buyer is stuck on that one home and it really sours the rest of the house hunting experience. Getting with a Realtor first is a great game plan and we can then guide you to the right lender for what you’re needing. After you get all your ducks in a row with the lender, it is then time to find the home!

I need to purchase a price at the high end of what I am approved for.

Not quite. You need to purchase a property that keeps you living within your means! This is why it’s important to start the home buying process with a budget in mind – you need to know what you can afford in a mortgage and utility payments. Just because you’re told you’re approved for a $400,000 loan, it doesn’t mean you have to go near there. No one wants to be house poor.


Buying a home has enough what ifs, so don’t let all of these misconceptions scare you away from pushing toward your dream of home ownership. As always, a handy perfect Realtor like me is a great FIRST STEP in the home buying process. I help guide you on all of the next steps and how we make YOU a HOME OWNER!