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Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, the terminology of mortgages can be confusing. Since buying a home is such a huge financial decision, you’re also going to want to make sure you understand every step of the process and all of the conditions and fees along the way.

In this article, we’re going to explain some of the common terms you might come across when applying for a home loan, be it online or over the phone. By learning the basic meaning of these terms you’ll feel more confident and prepared going into the application process.

We’ll cover the acronyms, like APRs and ARMs, and the scary sounding terms like “amortization” so that you know everything you need to about the terminology of home loans.

  • ARM and FRM, or adjustable rate vs fixed rate mortgages. Lenders make their money by charging you interest on your home loan that you pay back over the length of your loan period. Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs are loans that have interest rates which change over the lifespan of your loan. You may start off at a low, “introductory rate” and later start paying higher amounts depending on the predetermined rate index. Fixed rate mortgages, on the other hand, remain at the same rate throughout the life of the loan. However, refinancing on your loan allows you to receive a different interest rate later down the road.

  • Amortization. It sounds like a medieval torture technique, but in reality amortization is the process of making your life easier by setting up a fixed repayment schedule. This schedule includes both the interest and the principal loan balance, allowing you to understand how long and how much money will go toward repaying your mortgage.

  • Equity. Simply state, your equity is the the amount of the home you have paid off. In a sense, it’s the amount of the home that you really own. Your equity increases as you make payments, and having equity can help you buy a new home, or see a return on investment with your current home if the home increases in value.

  • Assumption and assumability. It isn’t the title of a Jane Austen novel. It’s all about the process of a mortgage changing hands. An assumable mortgage can be transferred to a new buyer, and assumption is the actual transfer of the loan. Assuming a loan can be financially beneficial if the home as increased in value since the mortgage was created.

  • Escrow. There are a lot of legal implications that come along with buying a home. An escrow is designed to make sure the loan process runs smoothly. It acts as a holding tank for your documents, payments, as well as property taxes and insurance. An escrow performs an important function in the home buying process, and, as a result, charges you a percentage of the home for its services.

  • Origination fee. Basically a fancy way of saying “processing fee,” the origination covers the cost of processing your mortgage application. It’s one of the many “closing costs” you’ll encounter when buying a home and accounts for all of the legwork your loan officer does to make your mortgage a reality--running credit reports, reviewing income history, and so on.  


Create a flower garden you love coming home to after a long day at work that is bursting with color.

Sweet peas are a stunning annual that quite literally descends from the pea plant! They do best with the sun on their petal and shade protecting their roots so do well with a shorter plant nestled in front of them. The April in Paris variety offers yellow and purple tinted petals while the aptly named America boasts red and white stripes.

Snow Princess is sweet but tough - incredibly resistant to drought and heat. These blooms will sprawl out with its tiny white flowers making a perfect base for brighter colors to pop. It also makes for a stunning cascading plant when potted. Put this beauty in full sunlight with occasional shade.

Cinderella stock is another annual to add to your wish list. Unlike the snow princess, it prefers the cooler temps just before full summer heat hits. But it will thrive in full sunlight. You can find varieties in pink, blue, red and white so whatever your colorway, these guys are sure to fit right in.

Blue Cornflower is a distinctive color that’s found its way of naming everything from crayons to nail polish shades. This annual is easy to grow and so a great starter for beginners. A fairly long stem length, cornflowers can be placed towards the back of your garden as not to shade out shorter blooms. 

Nasturtium adds warmth to your garden with shades of red, orange and yellow. Not only are these easy to grow but they’re edible! Perfect for the culinarily adventurous and beginners alike. There are so easy to grow, in fact, that they can grow perfectly happy in less nutrient-rich soils.

Begonia comes in every shade and size you could possibly need. They’re a step up from a true beginner plant in that they will need at least a little attention. However, these will look beautiful in a container garden or in a setting they are allowed to sprawl.

Marigold Signets add a pop of cheery warmth to your colorful garden. With stunning fully rounded “globe” of flowers these will happily fill up your garden. The “gem” hybrids are the most popular variety in shades of lemon, orange, red, and tangerine. These are another edible bloom with a slight lemony flavor to add to a dish.   

Pansies are perhaps the most well-known for the bright and varied color palette. They come in varieties that offer blooms with a single color or petals in alternating colors. Like sweet peas, they prefer sun but the cooler temps of the spring and fall. These are a ground cover plant that also does well (and are incredibly popular) in container gardens.



An open house may prove to be exceedingly important, particularly for a buyer who plans ahead and makes the most of this opportunity. Because if a buyer enters an open house with a plan in hand, he or she can gain the necessary insights to determine whether to set up a home showing or consider other residences.

Now, let's take a look at three things that every buyer needs to know about open houses.

1. Open houses generally take place on weekends.

If you plan to pursue a home in the near future, you may want to keep your weekends open. That way, you can attend as many open houses as possible and boost the likelihood of discovering your ideal residence.

Most open houses are held on Saturdays and Sundays, and these events may begin late in the morning and end late in the afternoon. There is no requirement to attend an open house as soon as it begins. However, it is important to remember that the early bird catches the worm. And the sooner you attend an open house, the sooner you can determine whether a residence is right for you.

2. Each open house is designed to provide a stress-free experience.

During an open house, you can walk around a residence and explore all aspects of a home at your own pace. Meanwhile, a seller's real estate agent is present and can respond to your concerns or questions as well.

Oftentimes, it helps to craft a list of questions prior to an open house. This will enable you to receive immediate responses to your queries from a seller's real estate agent.

You also may want to carry a notepad and pencil with you as you walk through an open house. This will allow you to keep track of any notable home features or flaws, and ultimately, weigh the pros and cons of a residence.

3. An open house provides no guarantees.

There is no guarantee that you'll find your dream residence during the first open house you attend. In fact, you may need to attend dozens of open house events before you discover a home that matches or exceeds your expectations.

As a buyer, there is no need to leave anything to chance as you search for your ideal house. And if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can stay up to date about open house events for residences that correspond to your homebuying criteria.

A real estate agent is a property buying expert and will do everything possible to help you discover your dream house. In addition to keeping you informed about open house events, a real estate agent will set up home showings and offer homebuying recommendations and suggestions. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you achieve the best-possible results during the property buying journey.

Hire a local real estate agent today, and you can take the first step to find and buy your dream house.


Buying your first home is a big decision; one that involves a lengthy process of saving money, building credit, and planning the next phase of your life. However, owning a home comes with one major payoff: home equity.

Simply put, home equity is the amount of your home that you’ve paid off. However, it does get more complicated when we bring in factors like the market value of your home and how it shifts over the years.

In this article, we’ll discuss home equity and what it means for you as a homeowner. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you finally make that last payment on your home or when you decide to sell.

Home equity and market value

As I mentioned earlier, home equity is more than just the amount you’ve paid toward your mortgage. Like most markets, the housing market shifts over time.

Most homes slowly increase in value over time. In the real estate world, this increase in value is called appreciation.

However, that doesn’t mean that your home is simply going to increase in value indefinitely until you decide to sell. As you will find out (if you haven’t yet already), owning a home can be expensive. Houses age and require upgrades. If you fail to keep up with the maintenance of your home, its value can diminish.

How to build equity

The most important thing you can do to build equity is to make on-time payments to your mortgage. Making extra mortgage payments will help you build equity even faster.

One method of paying extra on your mortgage that many people are adopting is to make bi-weekly payments. Twenty-six bi-weekly payments comes out to 13 full payments per year, the equivalent of making one full extra monthly payment.

The second method of building equity is something that you have less control over: appreciation. However, if you stick to a maintenance schedule for your home and keep it in good repair, you’ll most likely benefit from appreciation over the lifespan of your mortgage.

What can I use home equity for?

The most common way to use home equity is as a down payment or full payment on your next home. First-time buyers who don’t have a 20% down payment saved often buy a starter home and then later upgrade as their family grows and their needs change. In the years that they own their first home, they build enough equity to make a full down payment on their second home, avoiding fees like mortgage insurance.

Many homeowners planning on retiring in the near future use their equity toward their retirement home, often turning a profit in the process. If you plan on downgrading for retirement and have fully paid off your mortgage, you can often use your equity to pay for your next home in cash.


Moving is stressful at the best of times. But when you’re moving across the country rather than across town, it adds to the number of preparations you’ll need to make.

In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to best prepare for your long-distance move, whether it’s across the state, across the country, or to another country altogether.

Packing and moving

One of the biggest concerns you’ll have during a long distance move is the condition of your belongings.

If you’re using a moving company, you’ll want to make sure you trust them to handle your belongings with care. To ensure that they’re responsible movers, read over their reviews online. It’s also a good idea to review their contracts and to make sure you have enough insurance to cover any costly damages or losses. Speaking of moving companies, be sure to shop around to find out which one offers the best prices and delivery windows.

When it comes to packing your items, air on the side of caution and start boxing items well in advance of your move. Not only is it a good idea to label your boxes by room, but you should put your name and contact information on your boxes if they’re being shipped by a large moving company.

Remember that not everything needs to be in boxes. Soft items like clothing and towels can easily be packed in trash bags, suitcases, and duffel bags. You’ll be able to squeeze in more items and they’ll take up less space in the moving truck.

When filling the moving truck, be sure your fragile items aren’t the top box on a stack of boxes. Similarly, you don’t want fragile belongings underneath too many heavy boxes. Your movers likely have their own way of securing boxes, so be sure to indicate to them which boxes are the most fragile with labels.

Downsize your belongings

The month leading up to your move is a good time to sell or donate items you no longer use. It could save you space on the moving truck, and you could earn a few extra dollars before your big move.

Larger items should be your top priority. Bicycles, lawnmowers, and other big items that you’ve been thinking of replacing can be sold now and you can buy new ones at your future home. However, don’t discount the weight and size of things like DVD and book collections. Many people lug around bookcases from house to house and hardly ever touch the books on them. Furthermore, technology like Kindle and Netflix are making owning physical copies of your media less of a necessity.

Before you start packing the rest of your items into moving boxes, make sure you set aside a “survival kit” filled with your daily use items. Things like cell phone chargers, glasses and contacts, and sanitary items should be in your vehicle or carry on, not in the moving truck.

Saving money

Moving is expensive, but there are a number of ways you can squeeze some savings out of the experience. First, take advantage of free boxes from local stores and restaurants. Then, ask for friends and family to help you pack rather than hiring professionals, offer them lunch in exchange for their help.

When it comes to getting to your new home, don’t rule out flying as being the most expensive option. Hotels, gas, and eating out add up quickly if you’re making a road trip out of your move.

Finally, see if your move is tax-deductible. If you’re relocating for work, there’s a chance some of your moving expenses will be. If so, be sure to keep all of your receipts along the way.