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This Spring, Refresh Your Curb Appeal

This Spring, Enhance Your 🏠 Curb Appeal!

This Spring, Refresh Your Curb Appeal

Do you suffer from curb envy? Do you want bragging rights for the most inviting home on the block? Have you just moved in, and want to dress the entrance with your own personal style? Or, are you looking to sell, and want to make your home more appealing to potential buyers?

No matter your reason, improving the appearance of your home when viewed from the street level, also known as curb appeal, can be done without breaking the bank.

It can be tempting to look through home improvement websites or Better Homes and Gardens for ideas. However, before making big plans, start with the easy things. You may be surprised at how much difference it makes!

Before Upgrading, Restore

Before spending any money, focus on maintaining the features your home already has. Even a manicured front landscape can go a long way.

  • Be sure that your lawn is mowed, trimmed, and edged.
  • Make sure landscape bushes or trees have been properly pruned, and
  • Remove weeds from walkways and mulched areas. Even a manicured front landscape can go a long way.
  • If needed (and it probably is, even if you can’t tell right away), power wash the walkway, sidewalk, and front porch leading up to your home. If you do not own a power washer, paying to have this done is not very expensive, and is absolutely worth paying for.
  • How does your brick or siding look? Simply cleaning it can do a lot to improve its appearance.
  • A fresh coat of paint on the siding can go a long way towards updating a home’s exterior.
  • If your siding is in need of repair or replacement, It’s a good idea to consider getting it done.
  • If the roof is a dominant feature of your home’s facade, you might want to consider giving it some love, too. If you plan to sell, a replacement roof may be in order.

Inexpensive Home Updates

Once everything is in great shape again, it’s time to start making some striking visual changes!

  • You can really make a statement by painting the front door. Use a contrasting color to draw attention to the home’s entrance, making it feel more inviting.
  • Change your address numbers with a new updated font, or bold tones. Get creative!
  • Paint or replace your mailbox. This is the first thing visible from the road, so don’t leave it out!
  • Update the hardware on your front door. If you’re painting the front door, why not reward the attention it draws with an updated hardware set?
  • If your home has shutters, consider painting them, or adding hardware to increase interest. If your home does not have any, you can easily make your own, if cost is a concern. Shutters add character and increase visual interest.
  • Plant a tree! A tree in the front yard adds charm, a splash of color, and a sense of permanence. It makes a home feel more homey. Please avoid known invasive species in your region when selecting a tree to plant, and consider what is known to do well where you live. With larger trees, not only does this save you from the burden of excessive maintenance, a healthier tree is a safer tree.
  • Is the entry to your home feeling a little sterile, even with the painting door? Consider adding decorative outdoor furniture or planter boxes. These can help extend the “living space” to the outside of the front door, enhancing the welcoming warmth extended to visitors.
  • Last, but not least, your porch light fixture may be in need of an update. While you’re at it, consider adding lighting to the yard to enhanced safety and ambience from the road as twilight fades into starlight.

Your Home’s Curb Appeal Is Its First Impression

Making a good first impression is important for forging new relationships, and for others taking you seriously. Your home’s curb appeal the the first impression for visitors, guests, neighbors, and potential buyers (if you’re selling). Your choices for dressing up your home’s curb appeal will ultimately reflect your own personality and outlook.

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a great look, so get started, be mindful of your choices, and have fun! Who knows, you may even make a few friends in the process.


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bright new kitchen with high contrast counter and cabinets. Look closely before making an offer.

What Should You Check Before Making An Offer On Your Next House?

bright new kitchen with high contrast counter and cabinets. Look closely before making an offer.

So, you are home shopping, have found ‘The One,’ and you’re ready to make an offer. Are you sure you know what you’re doing? I mean, of course you know that you plan to make an offer, but do you know what comes with the house that you think you are ready to buy? The odds are good that you have not considered everything, and that you may be in for an unwelcome surprise. This is especially true if you are a first time home buyer.

At Benchmark, we want you to be confident in your decisions. It is part of our mission and dedication to helping our clients fulfill their piece of the American Dream of homeownership. Protect yourself by evaluating factors in these 4 categories before placing your offer.


You should already be pre-approved for a maximum loan amount. Make sure the asking price is fair, and make sure your offer fits well within your tolerances for your pre-approval amount. It’s also a good idea to check the expenses for the house, like utility bills, property tax, insurance, and HOA dues, if applicable. Make sure the monthly financial obligation fits within your range of affordability. Lastly, make sure you have easy/quick access to your funds for a down payment and earnest money. If your offer is accepted, be ready to pounce!


Be really sure you are as aware as you can be of what you’re buying. Take another walkthrough, and bring a bright flashlight, a level, a tape measure, or anything else you think you may need in order to go into a 30 year obligation with eyes wide open. Take a look at the seller’s disclosure, so you are in the loop about any upgrades or repairs that may have been done to the top candidate for your future home. This can help give you an idea of any work that you can avoid doing, or that you may need to get done after you’ve become the new fearless owner of the abode.


Get to know the neighborhood and the general location of the home you have your sights set on. Find the assigned school, its rank, distance from the home, and wether you think it’s a good fit for your family’s values. Check the distance and availability of business you rely on, like gas stations, grocery stores, as well as proximity and availability of entertainment, cafes, and restaurants. How far is it from your place of work? What would your new commute look like? It is important to weigh all of this considerations to prevent a future case of buyer’s remorse.


It can also be a good idea to visit the house at different times of the day, and on different days of the week. This can help give you a feel for the overall culture of the neighborhood, as well as what kinds of noises and activity to expect. Doing this may also give you a better idea of traffic congestion spots. You may also want to consider checking crime in the area, and registered sex offenders who may live nearby. Also be aware of neighborhood amenities provided by the HOA, or community cooperation. Last but not least, meet the neighbors! The best way to get a feel for the neighborhood is to talk to someone who has lived there for awhile already.

Now, Go Make Your Offer!

You have checked the financials, decided that you are prepared, and are aware of the total cost to live in the home you want to buy. You are going in with eyes wide open, fully aware of the school situation, access to resources, and the compatibility of your desired neighborhood. Most importantly, you are aware of any issues present in the house itself, and the work that was recently done.

If you are looking for a house right now, and are preparing ahead of time, great job! Researching the next step before you are there is a display of wisdom. Are you pre-approved? Without being pre-approved, any offer you make is unlikely to be accepted without an approved loan amount, unless you plan to buy in cash. (if so, why are you reading this on a mortgage site? You should be writing your own finance blog!)

If you are looking to get pre-approved, we make it easy. More than that, our expert loan officers will match your goals with the perfect loan for your unique situation. We often refer to ourselves as “The Benchmark Family”, and when you choose to work with us, you become part of it, too. Ready to get started?

Find your Benchmark branch and contact them today for a hassle-free experience.Give us a call or contact us today. At Benchmark, we’ve got your back.Give me a call, send me an email, or request a call today. My team and I will take good care of you.

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Millennial on scooter wearing hat and sunglasses looking up towards the blue sky

What is the Affect of Student Loan Debt On Homeownership?

Millennial on scooter wearing hat and sunglasses looking up towards the blue sky

With student debt making headlines on a regular basis, and the rates of homeownership being lower, is there a connection? Maybe.

In the first issue of Consumer & Community Context, a publication from the Federal Reserve, an article by Alvaro Mezza, Daniel Ringo, and Kamila Sommer, Federal Reserve Board Division of Research & Statistics  entitled, “Can Student Loan Debt Explain Low Homeownership Rates for Young Adults?”, Mezza et al write,

While many factors have influenced the downward slide in the rate of homeownership, some believe that the historic levels of student loan debt have been particular impediments. Indeed, outstanding student loan balances have more than doubled in real terms (to about $1.5 trillion) in the last decade, with average real student loan debt per capita for individuals ages 24 to 32 rising from about $5,000 in 2005 to $10,000 in 2014. In surveys, young adults commonly report that their student loan debts are preventing them from buying a home.


We found that a $1,000 increase in student loan debt . . . causes a 1 to 2 percentage point drop in the homeownership rate for student loan borrowers during their late 20s and early 30s.

In a study by the Federal Reserve in 2017, they found that every $1k in student loan debt postpones homeownership by about two and a half months. However, “postponed” is not the same as “canceled”! By time time higher education graduates reach their thirties, student loan debt has a reduced affect on rates of homeownership.

We have written before about the wealth-building power of paying a mortgage over paying rent, and student loan debt is similarly and investment into one’s career. The boosted earning potential of a generation of more college graduates is bound to catch up to the burden of the debt that helped fuel it.

Is it better to pay down debt, or to save for a down payment?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. No matter whether you have prioritized paying your student loan debt or saving for a down payment, if you would like to take a closer look at what makes the most sense for you, contact us. Our job is to work with you to find the right solution for your financial goals.

Find your Benchmark branch and contact them today for more information.Give us a call or contact us today. At Benchmark, we’ve got your back.Give me a call, send me an email, or request a call today. My team and I got your back.