Single Ladies' Guide to Buying Your First Home

If you're a single woman thinking about buying a house, you're not alone.

Single women are making up a bigger percentage of first-time home buyers than ever before, 17% of first-time homebuyers in 2016, and that's great news! Why? Buying a home is a great way to build wealth and a smart decision for women because when it comes to financial planning, women typically need to plan slightly differently than their male counterparts.

If you're ready to take the plunge here's what you need to consider. 

Find the right location for your first home

You've heard how important the right location is to real estate (we know we've said it a million times!) and there's a lot to consider to find the perfect one:

Proximity to your job

There's definitely a sweet spot when it comes to your home's distance from work. You don't want to spend hours commuting every week, but you also don't want to live so close that you can see your office outside your bedroom window (hello, stress dreams about your next big meeting).

Sit down and think about how long you're willing to commute to and from work each day and figure out the radius that fits your needs. Don't forget to think about any tradeoffs that come with a longer commute.

For example, you might be able to get more house for the same price if you're farther away from the city center, but you might also be farther away from the restaurants, bars, and nightlife that you frequent in your spare time.

Proximity to family/friends

It's not just work that you have to think about either. Let's say you choose to be 15 minutes from your office. Yay, for easy commutes and late wake-up times!

But if you split your free-time between your best friend's couch and your mom's kitchen table, both of whom live 45 away, you might end up regretting your decision--or turning into a hermit. Try to find a balance between what you do in your free time and your office. 

Growth potential

Chances are you buying this house as an investment in your future. So it makes sense to try to find an up-and-coming neighborhood where you can buy your house inexpensively and make a profit when you sell it.

Make sure your real estate agent knows your financial goals for your home, what you're willing to spend, and what kind of sweat equity you might be willing to put into the home. 

Set your budget 

Figure out what you can reasonably afford each month and what that means for how much you can spend on a home. Remember there are hidden costs associated with being a homeowner. If the pipes burst, the front door jams, or the carpet needs to be replaced it's your responsibility now. 

Be safe

Living alone can be lots of fun. You don't have to worry about someone else's dirty dishes in the sink or think about your roommate's sleep schedule when you want to play Pandora at full volume at 7:30 on Saturday morning. But it also means you don't have anyone who's always looking out for you either.

Make sure your potential new home is somewhere you feel comfortable coming home late at night or leaving early in the morning. You can get crime statistics for your neighborhood online and don't forget to ask a potential new neighbor how safe they think the neighborhood is. 

Consider roommates

Just because you're a homeowner now doesn't mean you can't have roommates. You can put the income from leasing the spare bedroom towards your monthly mortgage payment, or use it to fund a personal project or two. It's also a great option if you're more of a homebody--someone who wants to be around other people, but doesn't want to go out every night.

Just remember, having roommates means you're the landlord now. You'll be responsible when something in the house goes wrong and you'll also have to handle any uncomfortable conversations about late rent or anything else that might go wrong. 

Consider a fixer upper (or not) 

Fixer-uppers can be a great way to save money on your mortgage and put in some sweat equity. If you get a great deal of joy and satisfaction from doing projects around the house, this might be the route for you.

Buying a fixer-upper might also impact your ability to have roommates (if you choose to go that route) since you can't exactly ask people to pay to live in a construction zone. 

10 Super Sophisticated Kids Room Ideas to Steal

Kids' room design trends are getting more classic and sophisticated every day. Peek into these grown-up trends you should steal ASAP.

Scandinavian Lines

Scandinavian Lines

Scandi style is everywhere these days, and we're definitely not mad about it. If you love it too, it's easy to incorporate a few of its main features in your child's room like clean lines, wood elements and lots of white. If you're not ready to go full on the Scandinavian decor, add a few select color accents to warm up the space (think rugs, pillows or art).
Shiplap Walls

Shiplap Walls

We blame Chip and Jo for our full-on shiplap obsession, but we're all in deep now. The trend, however, actually works just as well for kids' rooms as it does for the rest of your home. It's a great way to add a bit more texture and interest to a room that might have a simpler color palette. Try an easy shiplap accent wall if you want to go with a more minimalist approach.
Creative Workspaces

Creative Workspaces

Workspace design trends keep getting more creative, and this goes for kids' rooms, too. Wall-mounted desks are a great solution for smaller spaces, and they also allow you to completely customize the room depending on your kid's needs. Kids of all ages can all be accommodated by simply mounting the desks at different heights.
Embrace the Daybed

Embrace the Daybed

Daybeds are truly one of the most versatile and useful pieces of furniture. They're a killer option for smaller spaces (use a daybed instead of a sofa), but they're also perfect in a nursery or kid's room. For new parents who need a spot to get an hour or two of sleep in-between feedings, they're also a great solution. Load up your daybed with some cozy pillows to make the space feel more sophisticated and intentional.
Pattern Play

Pattern Play

For major impact, steal this tried-and-true idea: simple color palette with bold patterns. This black-and-white palette is classic, sophisticated and gender neutral. By including a variety of patterns within a tight color palette, you can really make a splash in your space.
Small Space Tricks

Small Space Tricks

There are so many small-space-living tricks that could also work great in a kids' room, and we think you should steal every last one of them. Here's a classic: convert a small, unused closet into a workspace. You can mount the desk a bit lower (depending on your child's age), or mount it at a normal height and use a stool that eventually gets converted into a chair.
Neutral Palettes

Neutral Palettes

Simple, neutral palettes are definitely having a moment. It's a great solution for a gender-neutral space (or one shared by brothers and sisters). White, grays and creams all work nicely, but you can also bring in natural wood or other textures.
Dark Floors

Dark Floors

While they're not the easiest to keep clean, they always look dead sexy. It's a fun, high-contrast option to pair with a simple color palette like black and white. Just make sure you have a solid vacuum on standby.
Layer Rugs

Layer Rugs

One of the easiest ways to bring warmth and texture into a kid's room is to layer rugs. When choosing two or more rugs to layer, be sure to opt for varying textures. Colors can either be similar or complementary, depending on how much impact you're looking for. Sheepskins (like this one!) are a nice touch, too.
Display Collections

Display Collections

Teach your kids about creating their own collections from a young age. It's a tried-and-true shelfie technique that we never tire of. This collection of vintage globes looks fabulous on the shelves above this workspace and helps tie in the blue/teal hue as well.


5 Celebs with Awesome Homes

Celebrities are known for having extremely nice, unique homes, but these celebs certainly own homes that are truly top-of-the-line. Take a look and decide which is your favorite!

Akon (Singer)


Akon’s Atlanta home is a sight to behold. Featuring both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court and a couple of guest houses, the 6 bed/6 bath house is filled with interesting amenities.

Judd Apatow (Producer) and Leslie Mann (Actor)


If you’re looking for a beach house with great hosting capabilities, look no further. The Malibu beach home owned by celebrity couple Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann isn’t even their primary home, but after paying more than ten million dollars for it, maybe it should be.

Robert De Niro (Actor)


De Niro’s penthouse in Greenwich Village offers stunning views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. It also has a beautiful interior courtyard, to go along with a library and a steam room as well!

Ralph Lauren (Designer)


The designer’s New York mansion is located about an hour north of NYC, in Bedford. Lauren owns multiple homes, but this stone mansion is his primary residence where he has raised his kids and lived with his family.

Rob Lowe (Actor)


The actor’s Santa Barbara home may be located in California, but it looks like it was uprooted straight from Georgia. With a calm, white exterior, the 20-room estate incorporates a lot of southern and eastern United States aesthetics.  


3 Reasons Why It’s Important to Price Your Home to Sell

Coming up with the right price when selling your home is a balancing act. You want to ask for as much as possible, but not so much that you turn away potential buyers. You also don’t want to cheat yourself with a price that’s lower than your home’s worth.

The “right” price is one that’s in tune with what similar homes are selling for in your market. It’s a figure that you and the buyer agree accurately reflects the home’s value. If you’re working with a real estate agent, the agent can help you evaluate the market and resist the temptation to overprice your home — or give in to your fears and underprice it.

You should listen to what your agent says: You’re better off getting the price right the first time around. Here are three reasons to price your home correctly from the start — and strategies for coming up with the ideal dollar amount, whether you’re doing this on your own or with a seller’s agent:

Modern House And Outbuilding With Garage

You can attract more buyers

Some sellers may be tempted to ask for more than market value — even if they’re willing to accept a lower offer — just to see if there are any takers at the larger number. But this strategy can backfire if sellers price their home out of range of potential buyers.

Say your home’s worth $299,000 according to your market research, and you’re willing to sell for that amount. But you list at $315,000 to see if anyone makes an offer at the higher price.

A serious buyer may have a budget of $299,000 and so search online listings only for homes priced through $300,000. That buyer may not even see your home unless you lower your asking price. It’s better to price your property right from the start to maximize the number of qualified buyers.

You will sell your home faster, for a higher price

In a hot market with many buyers, a fairly priced home could receive multiple offers because people recognize it’s a good deal. It may even spark a bidding war that drives the final offer above your asking price.

But an overpriced home could scare away some of those buyers, who may think that they’re dealing with an unreasonable seller. You may be willing to sell your house for less, but a buyer may not even bother to make an offer if the home’s overpriced from the start.

It’s even worse in a cooler market, one that has few buyers. The home will remain for sale with no takers until the price moves low enough to attract a buyer. And that means the seller is wasting time by offering a home at an artificially high price.

If a home doesn’t sell within 30 days, it’s a good indication that it’s not priced right, according to the National Association of Realtors. In addition, research suggests the longer a house stays on the market, the lower its final selling price will be. Sellers may end up making less money than if they’d priced the house correctly when it first listed.

Buyers will have more confidence in your property

You don’t want to price a home too high, but you don’t want to go too low, either. Then, a potential buyer may wonder if something is secretly wrong with your property.

If you offer your home for a fair price, one that’s similar to comparable sales in your neighborhood, a buyer may feel better about the transaction. The buyer may reason that if you’ve done your homework on pricing, you’ve also done your homework on making sure the home is in good condition.

How to price your home to sell

You can look at recent sales for comparable nearby homes to get an idea of your property’s market value. Your real estate agent has access to a database of recent “comps” with this information and can give you an estimate of a reasonable price. You’ll also want to know how long these homes were on the market, and whether sellers had to reduce their initial prices in order to sell.

It’s also a good idea to look at online estimates from home websites such as Zillow and Redfin. The value these sites estimate for your home may not be an exact match to its true market price, but buyers are likely looking at these online estimates. If the estimates are off base, the sites will generally let you edit information about your home, which could lead to an adjustment.

When you want top dollar, it’s smart to have the right price the day your home goes on the market. When you offer your home at its true market value, you’re giving yourself the best chance to get a good offer in a reasonable amount of time.

This article originally appeared on NerdWallet.

20 Front Door Designs To Revamp Your Welcome - HGTV

A splash of color or something even more unique, these 20 front door designs will revamp the welcome into your home. And it doesn’t take much to implement any of them! Do a quick makeover to add a something extra special to your home’s and feel inspired coming back from work everyday.

modern front door inspiration 900x1410 20 Front Door Designs To Revamp Your Welcome

Home Designing starts us off with a gorgeous wooden door built with contemporary style in mind. It’s got a slight industrial vibe as well, perfection for modern homes with a masculine, clean vision.

modern blurred glass front door 900x676 20 Front Door Designs To Revamp Your Welcome

A blue-framed glass door that’s hard not to swoon over. Again, we find ourselves looking at a piece that’s contemporary but it does well fitting into a more traditionally-styled home.

Sometimes all it takes is the right kind of color. A beautiful purple tone can pop off of a light-brick home and that golden hardware surely makes a stunning different, don’t you think?

If you do the right kind of shopping, you can find a door that speaks to your more artistic side. Just check out this stunner featured over at HGTV, it fits perfectly into a home with tropical touches.

Design Rulz shows us another great example of how a new coat of paint can transform the face of your home. A dash of hot pink will certainly add a new wave of femininity and glam.

The Decor Fix shows off this yellow stunner. It’s a contemporary door design but that shade of sunshine will put an extra pep in the step of any guests that walk through the door.

Of course there are lots of great bits of inspiration on Pinterest, like this gunmetal blue door. It’s a beautiful makeover for a house with rustic charming and a welcoming ethos.

Shelterness featured this natural wooden design. We love how it’s become a functional piece of the home but also a piece of art that blends right into the home’s organic beauty.

With a starburst accent and a subtle, artistic vibe, you get something that’s completely unique to your home. It’s a great idea to spring from as well.

Red doors can quite a bit of fun and that splash of color can make the front of your home look brand new again. 

It’s hard not to drool over this grand entrance. But, more importantly, we’re featuring it for the inspiration it brings for your own home. Large, double doors in a rich, deep blue shade, it’s quite mysterious and sexy, don’t you think? (via)

Here’s another bit of inspiration from Pinterest that we’re loving too. It’s got a cottage personality and that turquoise looks beautiful up against the creamy brick.

Check out this front door design that we found featured over at Lushome! Why not add a bit of stained glass to your home? And that robin’s egg blue isn’t too bad either.

Postcards from the Fridge gave us this more traditional design to peek at. We love this steely blue shade but we love the industrial hardware that compliments it as well.

Becky Owens knows that you can’t go wrong with emerald green either. But more importantly, look at the actual design of the door and it’s geometric shaping.

The best of both worlds come together in this door design. Over at Southern Living, you’ll be able to see these bit of inspiration; ones that including traditional accents with contemporary twists.

Thankfully, for Flickr we found this stunning royal blue number. Of course, it looks great complimenting a yellow foundation but it looks great against traditional, red brick as well.

Fine Art America showcased a sage green door with a subtle, Victorian edge. Between the metal banister and the hardware, there’s something that speaks to our antique-loving hearts with this design.

Subtle pink could be the door makeover that you need. Add some personalized personality to your front by using this bit of inspiration we found over at Pinterest.

And finally, if you visit HGTV just one more time, you’ll get a deeper glimpse at this cranberry piece. We’re loving the mix of traditional, front door design with its deep, rich tones.

Pearls of Wisdom for First-Time Home Buyers

The financial climate is becoming considerably less hostile than it has been over the past decade and now more people are looking to buy their first house. This should be a joyous experience and a milestone in your adult life, but it’s important to prepare for all the turbulence that comes with the process.

There will be unplanned life events that get in the way and unexpected costs that set you back financially, but the best way to overcome this is to make sure that you are organized and well prepared.

Here are some of the best tips to follow to ensure that your experience runs more smoothly and is a more memorable experience. 

Draw up a budget, and stick to it

Before you begin your search, you need to compile a realistic budget based on your annual salary assigned to the property and also the amount you are willing to pay.

It’s important that the budget you set yourself is completely realistic and accounts for all of the added costs, such as the home repairs that need to be made.  More often than not, first-time buyers massively underestimate the costs that are attached to purchasing a house.

Living within your means is a great way to make a smart and sustainable purchase that you can build on and develop over time. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to the manipulation of a sales purchase. If you do not feel 100 percent certain on the property, don’t spend any money on it. 

A great way to be sure that you are making a smart purchase is to use an online mortgage calculator, as this will give you a clear indication of how much you are able to spend on your new home – this will be based on your annual budget set against a 30-year mortgage.

List your non-negotiables

Everybody has the perfect image of what their home should look like in their mind. It’s important to create a list of features in a home that are essential, i.e. a bathtub, and features that are more of a bonus, i.e. a swimming pool.

Before you allow yourself to fall in love with certain properties you find, it’s important to make sure that you know where the boundaries lie. Whatever the non-negotiable traits for your new property, do not compromise.

Making such a large financial investment means that you must be living in your idealistic property. A great example of this is if you are really passionate about cooking and baking and require a large kitchen, do not settle or let yourself be talked into having a small kitchen.

Don't skip the home inspection

It's tempting. You love the look and feel of the place, but you haven't really taken a peek to see what's under the hood, yet.

Don't skip out on this essential step. Familiarize yourself with all of the important questions that you need to ask about the wiring, emergency shut-off options for water and gas lines, and more.

Consult with the experts

Seeking advice and gathering information is always a necessity when committing to a big financial investment. Be sure to consult with somebody who will offer you unbiased and expert advice, such as a property management expert. This opinion can really help to guide you to your dream home.

Oh, and if your panel of experts tells you to hold off on buying, listen to them. You don't want to make an exorbitant purchase that you could have saved money on, particularly if you're about to buy during a seller's market.

Anticipate closing costs

One of the most unanticipated added expenses is the closing costs involved with buying a property. This is something that most first time buyers do not account for in their overall purchasing budget.

These costs are commonly inclusive of any estate attorney fees, to look over the buyer-seller agreement to make sure that everything is in order and running smoothly.

Sometimes you can negotiate with the sellers so they cover part of the closing costs, but if you're in a competitive buying market then be prepared to shoulder the closing costs yourself. They usually fall in the range of two to five percent of the total price of the home.

Never underestimate moving day

After the long process of buying your first home, it’s a wonderful feeling getting your keys and unlocking the door. In this excitement, it can be easy to forget how stressful and detail-oriented moving to another house can be.

On your first night, everything is still going to be in boxes, but be sure to pack a box labeled “first-night necessities” to ensure that your first evening in your new property will be enjoyable and slightly less stressful.

10 Tips for Transforming Your Nursery Into a Toddler Room


The 5 Biggest Pet Peeves Home Stagers Have About Your Bedroom


orange yellow bedroom

There’s no space in your home more personal than your bedroom—as you can attest from your days of watching MTV’s notorious “this is where the magic happens” episodes of “Cribs” (just me?). But the personal-ness of your bedroom can pose a problem when you’re trying to sell. 

As difficult as it may be, especially when you’re still actively living in your home, it’s crucial to make sure your bedroom is universally appealing to all sorts of buyers. To accomplish this, you’ll need to do a whole lot of decluttering, brightening things up, and cleaning out the closets, because, yes, buyers will be snooping around in there. 

To determine how to best show off the most intimate space in your home, I asked professional home stagers what the biggest bedroom staging pet peeves are—and how to correct them to reel in interested buyers. 


You have too many pieces of furniture

Unless you live in a brand new home, which has roughly 350 luxurious square feet in the master bedroom, you are probably dealing with a limited amount of space in your room. Although it’s nice to have an extra chair or multiple dresser for day-to-day living, this can make buyers feel claustrophobic. It’s best to eliminate some furniture before you open up your home for the real estate photographer or for an open house. 

“You want to present your room and have it laid out and spaced out appropriately so there’s plenty of room for traffic flow,” says home stager Sharon Schaffer of Revive Home Remakes in Toledo, Ohio. 

A good rule of thumb, she says, is to keep it minimalistic when staging—just the bed, one chest of drawers, and a couple of nightstands. 

You need to neutralize your artwork 

The artwork and photographs in the living room are naturally curated for guest viewing, but the bedroom is a different story since, presumably, only you will be looking at it on a routine basis. Artwork in the bedroom has a tendency to be more personal, spiritual, or quirky, which is just the opposite of what buyers want to see. The best thing to do is pare down the highly personal artwork and photographs as much as possible so that the buyer can visualize themselves in the room, says Alexandra Toubiana, CEO of Exclusive Staging & Design in New York City.

However, there is a trick to preventing your room from feeling too much like an impersonal hotel room while still appealing to buyers. 

“Regarding personal pictures, we recommend using black and white pictures if possible, to keep it neutral,” says Toubiana. 

There’s too much clutter 

One of the easiest ways to turn off a potential buyer is to have too much stuff lying around in your bedroom—or to have a closet that is stuffed to the gills with no organization in sight. 

“I was consulting with someone and they had a shoe rack outside of the closet. The room itself was a great space, but that screams you don’t have enough room in your closet. We talked through what they could do with their shoes and we decided to store them somewhere else,” says Schaffer. 

When you’re preparing to stage your home, it’s important to declutter as best as you can so that you can show the buyer there’s plenty of storage space (or at least hide the fact that there is a lack of it). 

As for making the closet itself appealing, only keep seasonal clothing out and use containers and boxes to organize the closet when preparing for buyers to pilfer through, says Toubiana.

You’re not letting in enough light

There’s nothing like a cool, dark bedroom to soothe you to sleep at night, but this is the opposite of what you want when showing the room off. To avoid a dungeon-like room that can scare away a buyer, the answer is simple: Let in the light by any means necessary. 

“Make sure you have good lighting. Have all the drapes open. Have a lamp on each nightstand, especially in houses that don’t have canned lights,” says Schaffer. 

While you’re at it, make sure the windows themselves are clean—so wipe down the glass, the hardware, and the window sills so that when light comes in, it doesn’t look dusty. 

There’s, uh, an odor 

You may love to share a bed with your dog, but she may be adding an odor to your room with her precious (but stinky) fur.

Bad odors are obviously a big faux pas in a staged home, so do your best to eliminate them with a thorough carpet cleaning, laundering of all bedding and linens, and airing the room out by leaving the windows open. Still on the smelly side? A fresh coat of paint may do the trick—in nice, buyer-friendly neutrals of course.