One of the most important things you can do when moving into a new one is take the time to make it feel like you—especially now that everyone is spending a lot more time at home these days. That’s something Kayla Grover and her fiancé wanted to prioritize in their first house, a vintage charmer that was showing its age.
That included completely overhauling their outdated and very brown kitchen with a black and white color scheme inspired by images Kayla had been pinning and saving because, she says, she “wanted it to feel bright and welcoming but also modern.” Working with Kayla’s handy dad, the couple gave the space a totally new look and brought it into the 21st century.
The crew extended the cabinets, painted them white on the top and black on the bottom, and opted for a clean white quartz countertop, square sink, and gold pulls. Up top, they also added oak wood shelving and a backsplash of white hexagonal tiles that together add some warmth and whimsy. And they purchased all new appliances in black stainless steel to match the bottom black cabinets, and replaced the flooring for some extra coziness and texture.
Before, the dining nook almost felt like a throwaway area, but Kayla once again drew inspiration from a photo she found on Pinterest and imagined into reality a photo-filled eye-catcher. She and her dad built an oak table and bench and added hairpin legs to both, courtesy of Amazon. Then she painted the corner black and got to work on a gallery wall of black and white images and framing. “I wanted a modern gallery wall with a statement,” Kayla explains.
She also “didn’t want anyone to sit on the bench and have their head hit the frames,” so by necessity, she hung the frames higher up on the wall than you’d typically see. What she ended up with: an art-filled wall that’s fun and fresh.
Overall, Kayla says the reno took about eight months and cost about $15,000, and she is adamant that this wouldn’t have been possible without her father. “We did have a plumber come in and an electrician friend, but otherwise my dad managed the entire project and installed it,” she says. “Because of all his handy work, we saved a ton of money on this beautiful, modern, monochrome, Scandinavian, bohemian kitchen and eat-in area.”
Now, Kayla is thrilled with the space, and finds it “rewarding knowing that I had this vision and it came to life right before me.” She says she also especially loves that she, her fiancé, and her dad did the work together: “It makes the space that much more special because all of our hard work, heart, and vision came into this.”
The average American generates about four pounds of trash per day and approximately 254 million pounds of trash per year, creating hefty amounts of unnecessary waste in our landfills. Many people compost instead to convert organic waste and divert it away from landfills toward eco-friendly plant use. You too can help the environment and compost your waste easily in the comfort of your apartment. Here’s why and how you should do it.
What is compost?
Compost is decayed organic matter. After mixing a lot of compost waste in a compost pile, organic matter breaks down naturally into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that helps plants grow. Compost can also capture and eliminate more than 99 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air.
What foods can be composted?
Almost anything that comes from the ground can be composted. You can compost fruits and vegetable cores, ends, peels, rinds, scraps, and pits. Grains also sprout from the soil, which means you can add bread, pasta, and cereal to your compost heap.
Additionally, you can use non-food items in compost. Compostable items can include grass clippings, dried leaves, hair and fur, clean paper, paper towels, cardboard, shredded newspaper, tea bags, crushed eggshells, nutshells, woodchips, toothpicks, burnt matches, coffee grounds, and lint.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that people not compost items such as meat, dairy, and oil products that cause odor problems and attract pests. Additionally, coal, ash, plants sprayed with pesticides, and plants with diseases are not suitable for composting because they contain substances harmful to plants and soil. Most composting experts advise a balance of plant waste and waste containing paper, cardboard, and hair or fur.
Who can compost?
Anyone can compost. Whether you live in an apartment with or without a yard, there are many ways to compost your waste. After you convert your organic waste to compost, you can use your compost to help your plants grow or give your compost to a community garden.
How can I compost?
Store your compost pile in a container on your kitchen floor, in a kitchen lower cabinet, in your freezer, or in your backyard. There are also indoor composters you can purchase in stores and in online marketplaces. You might worry that converting food scraps to compost in your home would smell bad, but you can avoid the odor by getting a compost bin with a lid.
If you don’t have a yard or own any plants, and if you want to start composting, you can either:
1. Bring your compost bin to a compost collection site
If you don’t have a garden, community gardens often accept compost from people who live nearby. Additionally, many cities offer compost collection at farmer’s markets and designated drop sites. On collection day, bring your compost to the market and dump it in a communal compost tub.
2. Sign up for a compost collection service
Some cities collect compost through trash and recycling services, often in a designated bin. You can have your compost picked up from your apartment or house with a low monthly fee. Some private collection services will even provide you with a bucket.
Is composting worth it?
Composting is great for sustainable living, and you can do it easily in your apartment. Based on your preferences and budget, you can drop off your compost bin or use a pickup service. While at first these processes may seem like too much effort, you can really make the switch to being more eco-friendly with just a few simple actions. Instead of throwing your waste in the trash, just add your compostable items to a compost bin. You’ll produce less waste, lower your carbon footprint, and maybe even help some plants grow.
Security deposits are among the more significant finances involved with renting your first apartment. These deposits cover any damage you cause to your apartment, and even the most careful tenants can easily cause minor damage to their first apartments. After you move out, your landlord will subtract the monetary equivalent of any damage you cause from your deposit.
That said, if you’re clean and careful with your apartment, If you know the below five common security deposit deductions your landlord can take, you’ll be in especially good shape.
1. General cleaning
Leaving your apartment dirty will result in your landlord deducting from your security deposit to cover cleaning costs. Even basic apartment-wide cleaning tasks can run a deduction into the double-digits. So to avoid being charged for excessive cleaning costs, keep up with your cleaning routine, and leave your apartment “broom clean.”
It’s essential to leave your apartment in the same condition as when you moved in so you can receive your full deposit when you move out. After removing your belongings, use a broom, vacuum, mop, and other cleaning supplies of choice to achieve that squeaky-clean initial condition (or at least get your apartment as clean as it was when you first moved in).
2. General repairs
Surface-level repairs and maintenance, such as repainting or sealing holes in the wall, can cause a significant reduction in how much you receive from your security deposit. It’s best practice to fill any large holes you’ve created before you leave as well as smaller holes from nails, screws, and the like. Many people use spackling paste for this purpose.
More in-depth repairs, such as plumbing and electric, can be costly to fix, causing your landlord to deduct a large fee from your deposit. Inform your landlord of any electric and plumbing issues as they arise during your residency to prevent yourself from being charged after you move out. Given the high costs of repair, it’s better to have these issues repaired before you leave instead of being blamed and charged for the damage after moving out.
3. Interior fixtures
Make sure to replace batteries for carbon monoxide and smoke detectors before you move out. Additionally, defective appliances should be fixed before moving out, whether you can do it yourself or you need to have your landlord bring in an expert. If damage occurs to a fixture or appliance in your apartment, ask your landlord to take care of it when the problem first appears instead of waiting – you’ll save more money this way.
4. Doors and windows
It’s important to replace faulty doorknobs, doors, and window panes. Perhaps you can’t do some of these replacements by yourself, but some door and window repairs may be easier than you think. Either you do it yourself or get your landlord to hire someone to repair the damage — again, don’t wait until you’ve moved out.
5. Items left behind
Packing and moving everything you own may be a daunting task, but you shouldn’t leave anything behind. Leaving things in your apartment after you move out can be costly for your landlord because of the labor it takes to remove it.
Some tenants leave mattresses and box springs behind, but doing so is ill-advised even if these objects are tough to move – your landlord can charge you high sums for these left-behind items in particular. If you need to get rid of large items, look into donating them to charity, hiring a junk hauling company, or selling them online.
The key takeaway: Fix faults as they happen
In general, if you want to receive your full deposit amount after you move out, you should always strive to repair damages right after they occur. Many people recommend taking a picture before you move in to keep track of any damages the apartment has when you first move in. Your landlord can fix issues while you’re living there instead of withholding money from your security deposit after you move out.
Do you have any advice to ensure that people receive their full security deposit after moving out of apartments? Sound off in the comments!
Known for its great variety of activities in the open air, Richmond seems to be the epitome of the good life for all outdoor lovers, from water enthusiasts to avid cyclists or adventurous hikers. As we know how important it is to keep all that hobby gear in pristine condition, you might want to consider self storage as a solution for keeping it safe and protected. There are plenty of good storage spaces available in Richmond of all types and sizes; you just need to know what you plan to store. Smaller units can hold bicycles and ski equipment, for example, but bigger units, such as a 10×10, are needed to store more items, including gardening equipment, home appliances, or large pieces of furniture. Prices start as low as $30 per month, so you’ll have no trouble finding a suitable storage space that’s also within your budget.
Want to see what your options are right now? Here is a list of five of the best storage facilities in Richmond, chosen based on the amenities they provide as well as their popularity with customers:
This self storage facility is located in Richmond at 8025 Midlothian Turnpike. You can rent small, medium, and large climate-controlled or non-climate-controlled self storage units that range from 20 sq. ft. to 500 sq. ft. The facility has 24-hour drive-up access and parking that ensures you can easily collect or drop off your belongings. An onsite manager will help you with any potential issues that may arise and security cameras will ensure that your items are kept safe. The prices start at $40 and go up to over $300 for large, climate-controlled units.
If you’re looking for a storage unit to fit all your needs, this Richmond self storage facility located at 318 Cowardin Avenue could be the best choice. You can choose from small, medium, or large units that range from 20 sq. ft. to 300 sq. ft. The parking and the drive-up access offer an easy way in, while the onsite manager can help and guide you through the property. Security camera surveillance and entrance gate will ensure the safety of your belongings as well. Self storage prices at Mini Price Storage, 318 Cowardin Avenue, start as low as $30 and go up to $215 for a large storage unit.
This facility at 5500 Brook Road offers a variety of small, medium, and large self storage units that range from 25 sq. ft. to 200 sq. ft., with prices starting as low as $40. It offers its customers drive-up access as well as parking, with security cameras to make sure all the items are kept safe.
This Extra Space Storage facility is located at 5202 West Broad Street in Richmond, and it has units that range from 20 sq. ft. all the way up to 600 sq. ft. You can store your precious belongings here without any worry because the facility has security cameras and an onsite manager to supervise the building. The 24-hour drive-up access, the gate, and the parking will make your visit smooth and easy. The prices at Extra Space Storage, 5202 West Broad Street, vary from $38 for a small unit to $705 for a large 20×30 unit.
Another Richmond self storage facility that will most likely satisfy all your needs is this Extra Space Storage located on 1140 North Laburnum Avenue. You can choose small, medium, or large units with sizes that range from 16 sq. ft. to 540 sq. ft., and prices that start as low as $42. The facility offers 24-hour drive-up access as well as parking to ensure you’re able to access your belongings any time you want. The surveillance security ensures your items are kept safe until you’re ready to pick them up.
If these five properties we listed are not conveniently located for you, you can easily browse through all the other self storage facilities in Richmond and find one that suits all your needs!
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Nicknamed “The Big D,” Dallas is the largest inland metropolitan area in the U.S. It’s also among the most diverse with a large-scale downtown area and laid-back living in the surrounding suburban neighborhoods.
Whether you enjoy finding new restaurant hot spots, going out to swanky bars or exploring the city’s culture, living in Dallas lends itself to an array of adventure. Here are the top 10 things to know about living in this big, beautiful city.
1. Dallas can be pricey, but worth it
Living in Dallas can cost you a pretty penny — 7.6 percent more than the national average when you factor in costs, such as groceries, housing, utilities, transportation and health care. Still, Dallas apartments alone can cost slightly less than elsewhere in the nation, averaging $1,544 for a one-bedroom apartment.
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Keep in mind, that figure can vary considerably depending on where you decide to plant your roots.
The average rent in upscale Uptown is about $2,020. But with its walkability to boutique shops, plentiful restaurants, retail salons and the Katy Trail, this picturesque and well-kept neighborhood can be well worth the price.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more affordable, there’s trendy and hip Deep Ellum. This neighborhood is made up of large-scale street murals, artwork from local artists, live music venues and different breweries on almost every street corner. The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom is right around the national average at $1,686.
Meanwhile, Lakewood is a well-priced, highly desirable neighborhood due to bordering White Rock Lake and its accessibility to the Lower Greenville entertainment district. One of the best elementary schools in Dallas is in Lakewood, making this neighborhood attractive if you have kids. The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom is $1,534.
2. Getting around is easy peasy
No matter where you live in Dallas, it’s easy to get around and explore different parts of the city. The highways are fairly clear of bumper-to-bumper traffic, besides rush hour. There also are toll roads, rideshares and the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) system that runs from 5 a.m. to midnight to help get you from point A to point B, as needed.
3. We’re more outdoorsy than you might expect
When you think of Dallas, you might not think of outdoor activities or recreation. But, there are many beautiful lakes, parks and trails throughout the city. You can rent kayaks or a stand-up paddleboard on White Rock Lake, bike around Katy Trail and spend a day hiking at one of the many nature preserves.
4. It’s a foodie’s paradise
Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes the appetites in Dallas. This city is a foodie’s dream place to live. There are always different restaurant concepts and cool food trucks popping up. The drinking and dining scene buzzes with newness. Trinity Groves is a favorite place to head for diverse options within walking distance, not to mention views of the downtown Dallas skyline.
5. You’ll need a four-season wardrobe
Living in Dallas, you’ll experience scorching summers and mild, but tolerable, winters. During the summer, warm, dry winds will lend to an almost desert-like feel — there are days where it will feel hotter than a dry sauna. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing during the winter, but when they do, you’ll want to have at least one thick coat, a scarf and gloves in your closet.
6. Ever heard of “America’s Favorite Team?”
Dallas offers sports fanatics plenty of entertainment options, including the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas’s national football team may be the most iconic, but there’s also the Texas Rangers for baseball, Dallas Stars for hockey and Dallas Mavericks for basketball, to name a few. The games are enjoyable to attend whether you’re into sports or not. You can go to be entertained, enjoy a few overpriced stadium beers and feed off the overly energetic vibe of the fans.
7. No lack of shopping options
From shopping malls to antique stores, Dallas does not lack in the retail department. One of the best spots to shop like a local is Northpark Center, which is a 2-million-square-foot mall offering high-end designer stores to fast fashion. There are many open-air shopping centers around Dallas, too. Highland Park Village is in a ritzy part of town, so plan to spend some big bucks. On the flip side, you can score designer dupes and bargain items for less at Allen Premium Outlets about 25 minutes north of Dallas in Allen.
8. Markets happen all-year ’round
Shopping local is easy in Dallas, where you can find a multitude of handcrafted and fresh-picked products at the city’s popular markets. The Boho Market is one of Texas’s largest makers markets, popping up on weekends in different areas of the city. There’s also the Dallas Farmer’s Market, which offers fresh produce from regional farmers in an open-air shed downtown.
9. There are endless free things to do
If you like freebies (and who doesn’t?), Dallas offers plenty for the picking. Downtown‘s Klyde Warren Park features 5.2 acres with free outdoor movie screenings and fitness classes like Zumba and yoga. You can also explore Uptown by way of the free hop-on-and-off McKinney Avenue Trolley. Or, head to the Arts District where you’ll find free entry at the Dallas Museum of Art, one of the largest art museums in America. There, you can spend a day admiring more than 22,000 works of art without reaching for your wallet.
10. Parties and parades are always going on
Living in Dallas can be very eventful. There are always parties, festivals, parades and even the Texas State Fair to look forward to. The Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is the largest in the Southwest with close to 125,000 people gathering to experience food trucks, exhibitor booths, family-friendly activities and live entertainment.
Living in Dallas
Come join the excitement of living in Dallas! Explore great apartment options here and trust that you’re making the right decision to move to Dallas because it’s a beautiful, unique and ever-changing city.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in September 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
Cooking at home saves you money, but you need the right kitchenware to do it. You may have noticed in many recipes that chefs call for Dutch ovens and cast iron skillets. Both can go from the stove to the oven, and they can evenly cook food better than traditional pots and pans. Additionally, both are great for cooking stews, chili, meats, and casseroles. But is one better for your kitchen? Below, explore the pros and cons of choosing a cast-iron skillet versus a Dutch oven for your first apartment.
Thinking about kitchen storage before you buy your kitchenware is essential. Cast-iron skillets are usually easier to store even though some can be wider and require more horizontal space than a Dutch oven. They can be conveniently stacked with other skillets.
Dutch ovens (usually made from cast-iron and sometimes with an enamel coating) come in a wide array of sizes, but standard five to seven-quart models can take up a bit of vertical space in cabinets and on countertops. They may even take up too much space if your kitchen is small and your apartment doesn’t offer much storage space. Depending on a Dutch oven’s size, it might not fit in your oven or on your shelves.
An advantage of cooking with a cast-iron skillet instead of a Dutch oven is its lighter weight, as Dutch ovens are significantly heavier than a skillet. Cast-iron skillets typically weigh around five pounds. Dutch ovens often weigh 14 pounds or more. , Food inside a Dutch oven can make it even heavier, which can make it especially tough to work with as you bring it to and from the oven.
Since most Dutch ovens are made of cast-iron and have tight lids, they retain very heat well. That’s why Dutch ovens are best used for foods that require extended periods of braising or stewing. They retain heat so effectively that if you’re not careful, you can burn your food if you cook it at too high a temperature.
Additionally, Dutch ovens can be used for baking and campfire cooking because the lids tightly secure your food. The best foods to cook in a Dutch oven are chilis, soups, pastas, casseroles, breads, and multiple servings of meat.
Cast-iron skillets are also oven-proof, but their lids are typically not tight-fitting compared to Dutch ovens. However, skillets may be better for simmering, sauteing, and frying food. If you love breakfast dishes, vegetables, sauteing meat, and stove-top stir fry dishes, cast-iron skillets are more suitable to cook these foods.
A cast-iron skillet is typically much more affordable than a Dutch oven. Cast-iron Dutch ovens are usually twice the price of a skillet (or even more). Enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens are more expensive than cast-iron Dutch ovens without an enamel coating.
There are a couple of reasons you might want to spend more for an enameled cast-iron pot. Enameled pots don’t need to be seasoned before you use them, and they’re not prone to rust, unlike traditional cast iron.
Number of people you’re feeding
If you’re cooking for yourself or a small number of people in your first apartment, it’s best to purchase a smaller skillet or Dutch oven. A 10 to 13 inch skillet is perfect for cooking just a few servings of food. A Dutch oven under six quarts can also feed two to four people. If you regularly feed more than four people, a wider, deeper cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven will be more suitable for your needs.
If you like to quickly cook food for yourself and just a couple of other people, a cast-iron skillet might be the best kitchenware for you. They are more affordable and take up less space in a small kitchen in an apartment. On the other hand, Dutch ovens are best for serving food in larger quantities, and they are more suitable if you have more countertop and storage space.
Which do you prefer: a cast-iron skillet or a Dutch oven? Sound off in the comments!
Hi friends. So sorry to go completely MIA on you. Between attempting online school with a five-year-old, much of California burning to the ground, and the general state total chaos in which we find ourselves, getting to the computer for any length of time has been a bit of challenge, to put it mildly. And then I blinked and summer is officially over.
But I had to finally get on here as I have big news for you!
They say you shouldn’t make major life decisions during times of extreme stress, right? Well, we decided to throw all caution to the wind and instead have purchased a coastal cottage in Washington State! Apparently a global pandemic, homeschooling a kindergartner and the most consequential presidential election of our lifetime wasn’t enough to keep me busy.
In all seriousness, if the past seven months of Covid have taught us anything, it’s the importance of friends and family and so we decided to create a gathering place that can bring together those we love most for years to come. Nestled within the myriad of inlets and islands that dot the Puget Sound north of Seattle, the cottage enjoys sweeping views of the Olympic mountains and Hood Canal. I consider it my official respite from the impending doom. Sadly it looks nothing like the inspiration images I’ve collected here.
Instead, it is going to take a LOT of work to get our little coastal cottage visitor ready – and in a very short period of time. Over the coming weeks, I plan to take you along on the entire design journey. I will be sharing everything with you – from the cottage’s current state, to all of my design inspiration and through the remodel process. If all goes according to plan, I’ll share a major before and after reveal in time to spend the holiday season with our family rather than more than 800 miles away.
Trust me, we’re going to have plenty to discuss, as I have to pick an entire household’s worth of things – from paint colors and kitchen cabinets down to dishware, bedding and everything in between. No design decision will be left unturned. It’s both exhilarating and incredibly daunting. These mood boards are just part my first ideation session for my dream vibe.
I’m hopeful sharing this process with you will offer you some fresh design ideas and positive inspiration as we all hunker down to weather what will undoubtedly be a stormy fall – be it literally or just politically. It’s been a rather dark year and I feel like this might be a way to share a little bit of light. I know I am very happy for the creative distraction. I hope you are too.
Oh hi friend, just popping up for air between homeschooling and well, I guess I’m not getting air because the entire west coast is on fire and the air quality is some of the worst in the world. Did you hear that the presidential election is now less than 50 days away. Have you registered to vote? Ensured you’ll receive your mail-in ballot? Have a voting plan? CLICK HERE if not.
But I digress. As you might have seen last week, I have new project that is distracting me from impending doom – the Hood Canal Coastal Cottage and I have been diving deeeeep in design this past week as our timeline to get this baby done is mega short. Like six weeks short. But I’ll dig into all those details once we actually close and I can walk you through everything.
For now, let’s have a convo about bedrooms, shall we? We spend a lot of time in them right? I tend to work from mine late into the wee hours. One of the biggest trouble spots I’m running into with the Coastal Cottage are the bedrooms. I think bedrooms are my achilles heel (as was evidenced by our guest room in This Old Victorian. And the main bedroom. But who’s counting.) It just feels impossible to come up with something that seems interesting (without resorting to majorly expensive finishes or design elements and we are on a budget here people! More on that discussion to come as well).
Living spaces are my jam. I can walk into any type of living space and visualize what it needs almost instantly. Maybe it’s because bedrooms are usually just a box, and often a pretty small one that limits my thinking. I just have the hardest time coming up with innovative solutions for bedroom design. But one idea has been catching my eye in all my late-night scrolling – so much so that I just had to whip up this post for you.
My latest Idea to Steal (and the one I’m trying to convince the husband to let me do in the Coastal Cottage) is wall-to-wall headboards.
You might also call this look a bed ledge. The utility of wall-to-wall headboards are endless. It’s an easy way to inject another color, wood tone or texture to your bedroom. You can also use the wall-to-wall headboard to house bedside tables and lighting, saving floor space and keeping things minimal.
But I also love that the bed ledge offers the perfect spot to display pieces you love. From artwork to plants, vases or ceramics – you have a spot to add life and personality to your space without adding additional furniture to your room.
The challenge is with the wall-to-wall headboard is actually creating one. This isn’t an off the shelf solution. You’ll likely need to employ a carpenter or be very industrious with your DIYs to create something that works. I’ve seen very simple pine and even particle board versions that don’t seem too intimidating. But slatted wall-to-wall headboards or versions with more design detail could require a pro. I would argue the investment is worth it.
How about you? Maybe if this post gets enough comments, my husband will be convinced!
In her spare time, Nicoletta loves scrolling through Airbnb, doing at-home workouts, and nurturing her plant babies. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, AFAR, Tasting Table, and Travel + Leisure, among others. A graduate from Fairfield University, Nicoletta majored in English and minored in Art History and Anthropology, and she not-so-secretly dreams of exploring her family lineage in Greece one day.
Buying a home for the first time was confusing enough. But then the Coronavirus pandemic hit and interest rates dropped to record lows. I started seeing headline after headline about refinancing. “Is this something I should be doing?” I thought to myself. I’d purchased my home in Colorado just a year before, was it too soon to refinance?
As it turns out, refinancing did make sense for my situation—something I only learned after some pretty extensive research. Even after I decided to move forward, I kept on researching, largely because my lender talked a mile a minute and threw out tons of acronyms that whizzed right over my head.
If you’re as perplexed about refinancing as I was, allow me to help—here are a few of the things I had to Google before, during, and after the process.
Who are Fannie and Freddie?
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I really had no idea who Fannie and Freddie were (oops!). But I have a feeling I’m not alone in this one.
Here’s the scoop. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored enterprises that help keep the U.S. housing market running smoothly by buying mortgages from banks and lenders on the so-called secondary market. In essence, Fannie and Freddie make sure banks have enough cash in order to be able to offer you an affordable mortgage. They either hold onto the mortgages themselves or package them together into mortgage-backed securities, which investors can buy. Fannie tends to buy mortgages from large banks, while Freddie buys them from smaller lenders.
What is an appraisal waiver?
Here’s another term that threw me for a loop: An appraisal waiver. Rather than ordering a traditional appraisal to determine the market value of my home, my lender offered to waive the appraisal and instead calculated the value of my home using available data.
Appraisal waivers, also known as property inspection waivers, have become more common during the coronavirus pandemic, since it’s not very safe to have an appraiser enter multiple homes on the same day. An appraisal waiver can save you money since you’re not paying for an appraisal ($625 in my case) and help speed up your closing.
Refinancinginvolves replacing your existing home loan with a brand new one, ideally with better terms. As part of that process, your new lender will pay off your old loan—literally, write a check for the remaining balance on your mortgage. This is what’s known as a loan payoff, and it happens just before you close on your new loan. It’s confusing because, for a few days, you’re sort of in mortgage limbo while you transition from one loan to the next. But it’s all just a normal part of the refinancing process. Once your old loan is paid off, you can start fresh with your new loan and start taking advantage of the better terms.
What is a demand feature?
While scanning the billions of pages of documents associated with my refinance (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit here!), I saw the phrase “demand feature” with a box checked “no” next to it. What does this mean?
A mortgage with a demand feature means that your lender can require you to repay the loan for any reason, at any time. As you can imagine, that’s a pretty scary concept—not very many people have hundreds of thousands of dollars just lying around. Fortunately, demand features are not all that common, but this is a good reminder to read all of the documents your lender sends you very carefully—you want to be extra sure you don’t accidentally overlook something.
What is a notary signing agent?
Because I closed on my new loan during the pandemic, there wasn’t a big closing meeting around a conference table with lots of people. Instead, a notary signing agent came to my house—it was just the two of us. We sat at my kitchen counter and she explained all of the various closing documents to me before I signed them.
But what’s a notary signing agent, anyway? You’ve probably heard the term “notary public” before. This is a person given authority, often by your state government, to serve as an impartial witness for important moments that involve signing documents. A notary signing agent is a more specific type of notary, one who understands the ins and outs of real estate transactions. And they play an important role during closing, too. These independent agents verify your identity, make sure you understand what you’re signing, and ensure that you’re signing of your own free will.