Author Archive: Kristin

Kristin is a full-time freelance writer and blogger and sometimes television producer who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

She writes for a variety of publications including magazines, ezines, websites and television. The topics she covers range from aviation to interior decorating, and travel to personal finance.

She is also the host for Suite 101?s Interior Decorating site.

In her spare time Kristin runs a painting and faux finishing company and is working on a series of children?s novels.

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Finding a First Apartment

First apartments are very exciting ventures but don’t let the excitement sweep you up and cause you to lose sight of the big picture. The first step to finding your first apartment is creating a list of your needs and your wants. Make sure to be practical and put only those things you need on the need this, then rank your wants and always keep this in mind when apartment shopping. With a list of priorities you’re less likely to be swayed by the pool and exercise room while forgetting important details like security and neighborhood.

The next step is obviously the budget. Look at your income and your expenses and try to figure out what you can afford. A rule of thumb is that your housing should be somewhere between 25 to 30% of your gross income. But if you can find a place that suits your needs and most of your wants for less you should definitely go that route. Most people looking for their first apartments have nominal savings and spending too much on housing is not going to help that situation.

Then you’ll want to look at the area in which you’re planning on living? Find crime statistics for the region, look at bus routes, proximity to work, school, grocery stores, parks and anything else that interests you. This is something that a lot of first time apartment hunters skip as they only review finances and amenities but safety and proximity to attractions is important.

Finally you’ll want to shop and see. Look at as many properties as you can and you may find your priority list shifting a little bit. See who is offering the best deals and as if they have any incentives attached as many landlords are trying to get tenants and will throw in some freebies.

April 1, 2010 | 0 Comments More

Qualifying for your First Mortgage

Back of the house, from the field
Before you go looking for that American dream and scouring the newspapers and open houses for that perfect home you should first find out how much home you can afford.

Lenders use a certain formula to determine how much they’re willing to lend you, but you can roughly count on three times your total annual income, before taxes. Of course this is just a rough estimate and a lot of other considerations will be evaluated first. And you don’t have to buy a home that falls in that price range, it’s not only allowed but in most cases you’re better off if you purchase a home that is less than the amount the mortgage lender approves you for.

Before you meet with a mortgage lender it is a good idea to get your credit rating in order, pay down your bills, and set aside a down payment.

The first step is checking your credit reports for any errors and cleaning up any black marks on your rating. The higher your credit rating the better.

Your next step is to pay down or off your debt. Mortgage lenders will look at your budget and your debt and use this to determine how much they’ll lend you so it really is a benefit to have as much debt paid off as possible.

And finally, having a down payment used to be optional or very minimal for home buyers but after the housing crisis that has changed and having a down payment can affect the interest rate you’ll be asked to pay.

Getting approved for a mortgage shouldn’t be an impulse decision, you need to prepare for your mortgage meeting so you can get the best deal possible on this huge investment.

Creative Commons License photo credit:?tomeppy

March 31, 2010 | 0 Comments More

Tips to Finding a Deal When Buying a New Home

My living room
There are a lot of home deals on the market now, the problem is real estate is still not a sure bet and if you already own you will probably be stuck trying to sell your current home. But if you’re still ready to buy here are some tips that can help you find the best deals.


In the past real estate was about acting quickly and getting the deal before anyone else now its about waiting to get the right price and the right property. If you do your research and are willing to wait you can probably find your dream home at a reduced price.

Old Listings

Look for listings that have been on the market for 90 days or more. The rule of thumb is that listings more than 90 days old are stale and you can usually get a better deal. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between houses on the market longer than 90 days and deeper discounts but the more owners pay that double mortgage the more likely they are to take a discount.

Look for Fixer Uppers

Many people give up on their little DIY projects when they realize their home is losing value, others just don’t care after a while. These homes can typically be bought for deep discounts and the reap the bigger rewards by doing the work yourself.

Creative Commons License photo credit:?quimpg

March 29, 2010 | 0 Comments More

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