Ways to Make Your New House Feel Like Home

You negotiated a fair purchase price, closed escrow, and now you’ve moved into your new home, but there are some things that are not quite how you want them. In fact, according to IKEA’s 2018 Life at Home Report, 39% of Americans do not feel a sense of belonging in their residence. This statistic might seem jarring, since our homes are supposed to be where we feel most comfortable. But if you feel the same way, you deserve to feel comfortable, safe, and in your element in your own home. Fortunately, you can achieve that goal if you are ready to put in the work. 

Whether you’ve purchased a home that’s never been lived in before or has had several occupants, there are always going to be at least a few things that you will want to do to make it feel like your own. From simple adjustments you can do yourself like painting, to major renovations you will need a contractor for like replacing kitchen cabinetry, there are plenty of ways you can personalize your space and create that at-home feeling you have been missing. 

Renovate Key Spaces 

Renovating certain areas of the home can give the place a major facelift, by fully customizing the different aspects to your lifestyle. Whether you need to make more room by changing the layout of one or more rooms or you have eco-conscious renovations on your mind (low-flow fixtures, improved insulation, etc.), these changes can have a big impact on the household. 

According to a 2018 report by Houzz, the kitchen and bathrooms are still the top two most popular home renovations (and the most expensive). Other popular renovations include: 

  • Creating a more open floor plan by adapting living room spaces 
  • Upgrading the master bedroom to make more space for furniture 
  • Expanding closet space to create a walk-in closet with ample storage 

Keep in mind that contractors and their teams spend a lot of time in your home so you do not want to make this decision lightly. In addition to reading reviews, you should run background checks on all renovators. That way, you can ensure that you know who’s coming into your home. When choosing a background check service, just make sure you find a reputable company like ShareAble for Hires. 

Focus on the Master Bedroom

Your bedroom should be an escape from the demands of daily life, whether that applies to soaking in the tub after a long day, curling up on your chaise lounge to read on weekend mornings, or drifting off into a peaceful sleep that’s free of interruptions. However, if you have just moved in, there are likely some changes you will want to make to your new bedroom.

Some of the ways you can adapt the master bedroom include: 

  • Changing out the window coverings: For some, sunlight creeping in in the early morning hours is preferred, while others prefer to keep it cool and dark. Changing your window coverings from wood blinds to high-quality blackout screens or vice versa can help you adjust to your preference. 
  • Adding ceiling fans: If you want to keep your bedroom cool without constantly running the air conditioning, ceiling fans in the bedroom are a good investment. 
  • Swap the lighting: Overly bright lighting in the bedroom can interfere with the coziness and relaxation that you are probably seeking for this space. You might need brighter lighting in the closet, but near your bed or lounge area it should be more subtle. An easy fix is switching out the bulbs.

For many new homeowners, it takes some time to get comfortable. If you are having trouble adjusting to your new environment, try taking saffron for sleep. Over time, you will adapt to your room and it will feel like home, but in the meantime, this supplement by Objective Wellness can help you get the rest you need to do work around the house and attend to all of your other daily demands.

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

Color plays a significant role in the tone of your decor and the overall mood of each room—which is why many new homeowners make painting one of the first items on their to-do list after moving in.  A fresh coat of paint, either to the interior or exterior of your home, can make your home look and feel like new.  

Whether the current colors are too dark for your taste, or you want to use some modern paint colors to liven up the space, the good news is that repainting your walls is a fairly affordable upgrade that you can do yourself, it just requires patience and time.

Add Personalization

Even if you buy a new-construction house that you have been thoroughly involved in planning, that is simply the shell of your home—there is still the interior to deal with. Being surrounded by blank walls can make your new home feel empty and sterile. Once the walls are painted to your liking, start hanging photos, art, and other elements of personalization that will make the house feel more like home. 

In addition to what’s hanging on your walls, there are other personalized aspects that will help you feel more comfortable in your space. Blankets and throw pillows help bring a homey feel to the living room and bedrooms, while decorative towels, flowers, candles, and other aesthetic touches can breathe life into your house. 

If you have not purchased your furniture yet, think of the style that best suits your personality and lifestyle. If you have a big family or frequently host gatherings, plentiful comfortable seating and a welcoming ambiance will be key. However, if you like your home to feel clean, organized, and picturesque, a minimalistic approach to decor will be key to enjoying your new space. 

Final Thoughts for New Homeowners 

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of seeing your home come together, it is important to take a strategic approach to customizing and renovating. Consider the costs of the different projects you are taking on, without careful budgeting, you run the risk of overspending. In order to make sure you are able to make all the changes you want, without putting yourself in a less-than-ideal financial situation, make a list of your priorities and work your way through the. 

Of course, there will be certain projects that should be done before you get settled, or you will have to make a lot of extra effort later, but many of these tasks can be done over time. It is understandable that you want everything to be perfect, but focus on the projects at hand, and soon you will be living in the home of your dreams.

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Title Problems As a Property Buyer

Are you questioning whether you really need title insurance when you buy your home? Every home and piece of land has a history and with a good and thorough title search, you can unpack any issues that could be tied to your purchase. Having title insurance assures you that even after you close on your property, you are protected from any title problems that may arise in the future. What issues?

PUBLIC RECORDS: Mistakes and errors happen but you do not want it affecting your home. The errors can be disastrous and cause you an undue financial burden to resolve. Simple clerical or filing errors could affect the deed or survey of your property.

UNKNOWN LIENS: Prior owners of your property may have left unpaid bills. And, even though the former debt is not your own, banks or other financing companies can place liens on your property for unpaid debts even after you have closed on the sale. This is an especially worrisome issue with distressed properties.

ILLEGAL DEEDS: While the chain of title on your property may appear perfectly sound, it’s possible that a prior deed was made by an undocumented immigrant, a minor, a person of unsound mind, or one who is reported single but in actuality married. These instances may affect the enforceability of prior deeds, affecting prior (and possibly present) ownership.

MISSING HEIRS: When a person dies, the ownership of their home may fall to their heirs or those named within their will. However, those heirs are sometimes missing or unknown at the time of death. Other times, family members may contest the will for their own property rights. These scenarios – which can happen long after you have purchased the property – may affect your rights to the property.

FORGERIES: Unfortunately, we don’t live in a completely honest world. Sometimes forged or fabricated documents that affect property ownership are filed within public records, obscuring the rightful ownership of the property. Once these forgeries come to light, your rights to your home may be in jeopardy.

UNDISCOVERED ENCUMBRANCES:  At the time that you purchase your home, you may not know that a third party holds a claim to all or part of your property – due to a former mortgage or lien, or non-financial claims, like restrictions or covenants limiting the use of your property.

UNKNOWN EASEMENTS: You may own your new home and its surrounding land, but an unknown easement may prohibit you from using it as you’d like or could allow government agencies, businesses, or other parties access to all or portions of your property. While usually non-financial issues, easements can still affect your right to enjoy your property.

BOUNDARY/SURVEY DISPUTES: You may have seen several surveys of your property prior to purchasing, however, other surveys may exist that show differing boundaries. Therefore, a neighbor or other party may be able to claim ownership to a portion of your property.

UNDISCOVERED WILL: When a property owner dies with no apparent will or heir, the state may sell his or her assets, including the home. When you purchase such a home, you assume your rights as the owner. However, even years later, the deceased owner’s will may come to light and your rights to the property may be seriously jeopardized.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A title insurance policy will be your best protection against those and many other title problems that may become known after you close on your transaction.  Title First Agency is proud to be one of the few SSAE 18 certified title agencies in the nation. After you close on your new home, we record the deed and the mortgage at the courthouse (returning the original recorded deed to the new owner and the mortgage to the lender) and prepare the owner’s and lender’s title policies. Following the recording of the deed and mortgage, the buyer will receive (via the mail) the original recorded deed and the original title insurance policy, if applicable. It is wise to keep all of these documents in a safe place.

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Protecting Our Clients Information

With wire fraud and email hacking on the rise, we must all become more diligent in protecting our clients’ information. At Title First Agency, we take security seriously and we put our company through a rigorous audit (SSAE 18). In December, we had a perfect report for the 4th year in a row.  This is one of the steps we take to make sure our clients’ data is safe and secure. Title First is one of only a handful of title agencies across the country to go through these audits

Another aspect of protecting our clients’ information is educating prospective buyers, sellers and real estate professionals about the dangers of wire fraud and email hacking.  While buying and selling a home is an exciting time, there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers. We’ve made a video with four tips to protect money and advice on what to do if targeted by a scam.

Title First Agency’s software platform and third-party integrations are crucial to providing our clients with the most efficient title services. Our objective is to continually refine state of the art technology to assist with compliance. This is achieved by working with the top technology providers in the business. We also work closely with residential realtors and their clients, through the escrow and title process to make sure that proper steps are taken to successfully close. 

The Bottom Line: Protecting against wire fraud and email hacking requires all parties of a transaction to stay diligent throughout the process. If there are any questions regarding potential wire fraud, email hacking or anything else that feels “off”, Title First Agency is here to be contacted to discuss any issue with our agents.

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Mechanic’s Lien

The financial crisis of 2007-2008, also known as the global financial crisis and the 2008 financial crisis, is considered by many economists to have been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Since then and because of the losses, title insurance underwriters tightened their guidelines when working with residential properties to prevent further loss.

During the time of the financial crisis, title insurance underwriters often suffered loss due to mechanic’s lien claims.  A mechanic’s lien is a security interest in the title to property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property. The lien exists for both real property and personal property. The claim is issued when the work performed was not paid for.

The lien gives the debt holder the right to the property until the debt is paid in full and the property.  This could be an expensive situation for new homeowners, so it is important to ensure a property is lien-free before purchasing a home. This can be confirmed with a lien waiver or a paid receipt for any work completed on the property. A lien waiver is a document issued by the service provider that states they have received payment and waive the right to issue a lien against the property in the future.

Title First Agency will protect all property buyers by providing a clear title of the property. If there is a lien, the title won’t be clear and we will coordinate the activity and documentation from the participants and pull each piece together, including paid receipt of any improvements or repairs to the property.

If you’re planning to purchase a home, make sure you know the full status of the property and any lien claims.  Buying a home may be the single, largest financial purchase in your life and can signify a much-anticipated milestone. That’s why Title First offers a host of resources to help you understand this important personal transaction.


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Fall Home Selling

It’s always been said that Spring is the best time to put a home on the market to sell. But, Fall might just be a perfect time and often homes can sell faster at this time of year.

Buyers are more serious in the Fall. During the Spring months, there are many homes on the market giving buyers more time to look at them in great detail and be more particular. Once September arrives, there aren’t as many homes listed, the competition is less, and buyers are more rushed to buy, close and move in before the holidays and even Winter weather becomes an issue.

Curb appeal is still so important. Be sure to rake dead leaves and debris in your yard. If there is overgrown vegetation blocking windows, remove it and cut bushes and tree limbs. Put bright mums in pots at the front door and plant in gardens where it looks empty from pulling the dead Summer flowers. Leaves in gutters should be removed often.

The days are shorter, the sun sets lower and earlier in the horizon so be sure to turn the lights all over the home before a showing. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window.  Make sure each room is bright! Closet lights, appliance lights – anything to make the home shine! Many buyers want a showing after work so it will most likely be dark outside.

Be sure to have the furnace, boiler and even the fireplace checked.  Nothing would be worse than a cold Fall day and buyers come in only to discover that there are heating problems. Additionally, having a roaring fire in the fireplace might be just the ambiance needed for buyers to “see” themselves in the home.

Price the home to sell in the current market. A skilled Realtor will help set the price using the comps in the neighborhood coupled with the time of year – which does not necessarily mean the home should be priced lower, but priced right. The home might sit on the market longer as we head into the Holiday & Winter Season making it even harder to sell if it’s priced too high.

The Bottom Line:  There will be fewer showings when putting a home on the market to sell in the Fall. The good news is that the buyers that are looking are more serious and motivated. Most importantly, find a Realtor that has a great track record of selling homes, no matter the season. Do the homework, ask neighbors, friends and search online to find the most experienced Realtor.

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Starter Home Advice

The number one advantage to owning a home -the “American Dream” – is the opportunity to put money each month towards an asset that is building equity.  Begin with a “starter home” that is a worthwhile buy and you will be financially ready when the time comes to move to the “forever home”.

Realtors and lenders often recommend waiting at least five years before selling a starter home. The good news is there is always a constant demand for these homes and prices tend to rise as first time home buyers make up the biggest market.

Starter Home Advice

  • Don’t get emotional and fall in love with any one home. The heart always seems to rule the head when shopping for a home and too many times buyers end up living beyond their means.
  • Be content to compromise on location. If you work in a larger city, realize that the homes closer to town will be more expensive than a few miles farther out.  If you want a shorter commute, you might have to give up space for a home you can afford.
  • Realize that you will be selling the home you buy at some point and keep certain aspects in mind: the school district, the neighborhood, the condition of the homes on the street, zoning, development and anything else that would affect your home for resale.
  • If you are going to renovate and upgrade at all, know that you don’t want to put more money into the home then you will be able to get out of it.  A skilled Realtor will be able to go over the pros and cons and help you keep your emotions in check.

The Bottom Line:  Make sure you have the best Realtor in the area that you want to live that will be truthful with you. This is possibly the biggest purchase of your life. You will want to be sure this is the right time to buy a home – rushing and buying before you are ready can end up costing you more money. Have realistic expectations and focus on 5 years forward.





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Quick Advice For Home Buyers

Do you have plans to buy a home soon? Be sure you are armed with the best Realtor in your area. If you aren’t paying cash for your new home and will be getting a mortgage, you will want to follow some quick advice.

Don’t damage your debt to income ratio by making a major purchase before closing. If for some reason you can not wait to by a new car, you might have to wait on owning a home. The bank could easily determine that car payment would hinder your ability to pay your mortgage. Wait until after you get the house to do some spending.

Don’t change jobs.  The lenders like to see consistency versus constant job hopping. From their perspective, your employment and income are paramount to your ability to make your payments.  Generally, there are three different characteristics of your employment and income that are considered – the amount, the history and the stability. Many lenders will do a final check to verify that your employment and income hasn’t changed since your final loan approval was issued. Further, some lenders will require 30 days of paycheck stubs for new employment. If you can’t provide these stubs, it could delay your mortgage approval. Worse, it could result in your mortgage application being declined.

As a home buyer, never surrender your earnest money to a For Sale by Owner Seller. There isn’t anything stopping the sellers from spending the money before the transaction goes through. If the deal should fall through you’ll have to fight to get the deposit back. It should be put into a trust account. Find an attorney willing to hold the deposit for you until the transaction is finalized. Your contract needs to state what will happen to the deposit in the event that the transaction falls through.

Stay practical and realistic during the home buying process. Don’t let your emotions get in the way.  Occasionally, sellers are willing to fix some of the problems with the home and others may not be as willing. Don’t let that refusal close the door on your dream home. Conversely, you shouldn’t let your loyalty to the home blind you to costly repairs down the road. You certainly don’t want to be in a money pit.

Talk to your insurance company right away.  Failing to line up the insurance will lead to delays in closing.  Your lender will more than likely require that you purchase at least some homeowners insurance before settling on your mortgage. In most cases, you’ll be asked to provide proof that you’ve prepaid one year’s worth of coverage before the lender will consider closing.

If the appraisal comes in too low, don’t panic. There are several solutions to this dilemma.  Your emotions may be running high and making a good decision can be difficult. A skilled Realtor will be an invaluable asset at this point and be able to guide you through.  It’s their job to keep up with the details, daily, of your deal and if the seller won’t come down in price, as painful as it may be, you may have to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario – walking away.

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