A Minute with Meta: 7 Effective Gardening Strategies

7 Effective Strategies to Keep Your Garden Thriving During the Dry, Warm Summer Months

As the temperatures rise and the sun shines brightly during the summer months, maintaining a healthy and vibrant garden can be a challenging task. With proper planning and a few proactive measures, you can ensure that your garden stays lush and thriving, even in the face of dry and warm conditions. In this blog post, we will explore seven effective strategies that will help you keep your garden flourishing during the summer months.

Water Wisely

Watering your garden efficiently is crucial during dry and warm weather. Rather than giving your plants frequent shallow watering, opt for deep watering sessions a few times a week. This encourages deep root growth, making your plants more resilient to drought. Water your garden early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation losses. Consider using soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems to deliver water directly to the roots, minimizing waste.

Mulch Matters

Applying a layer of organic mulch around your plants can work wonders in retaining soil moisture. Mulch acts as a protective barrier, reducing evaporation, regulating soil temperature, and preventing weed growth. Choose materials like wood chips, straw, or compost and apply a 2-3 inch layer around your plants, leaving space near the stems for airflow.

Choose Drought-Tolerant Plants

One of the most effective ways to ensure a thriving garden during summer is to select plants that are naturally adapted to dry conditions. Research and choose drought-tolerant plant varieties that can withstand extended periods without much water. Succulents, lavender, yarrow, and rosemary are excellent choices for hot and dry climates. These plants are not only beautiful but also require minimal watering once established.

Practice Smart Plant Placement

Observing the sun and shade patterns in your garden is essential for optimizing plant growth during summer. Place sun-loving plants in areas that receive maximum sunlight and shade-loving plants under trees or in the shadow of taller plants. This strategic placement helps reduce water requirements and prevents sunburn or heat stress on delicate foliage.

Implement Efficient Soil Management

Healthy soil is a garden's foundation for success, especially in challenging weather conditions. Enhance your soil's ability to retain moisture by incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. These amendments improve soil structure, increase water-holding capacity, and provide essential nutrients to the plants. Additionally, consider using a layer of organic mulch on the soil surface to prevent moisture loss due to evaporation.

Maintain Proper Plant Health

A healthy garden is more resistant to the stress of hot and dry weather. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests, diseases, or nutrient deficiencies. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage. Proper pruning and removing dead or wilted leaves will also help redirect the plant's energy towards healthy growth. Additionally, consider applying organic fertilizers to replenish essential nutrients and promote vigorous plant growth.

Embrace Smart Gardening Practices

Adopting smart gardening practices can significantly contribute to a thriving garden. For instance, grouping plants with similar water needs together can help you water more efficiently. Collecting rainwater in barrels or using water-saving techniques like installing a drip irrigation system can also reduce water consumption. Additionally, consider creating shade structures or using shade cloth to protect more delicate plants from excessive heat.

Maintaining a flourishing garden during the dry, warm summer months requires planning, attentiveness, and smart strategies. By implementing these seven effective strategies - watering wisely, mulching, choosing drought-tolerant plants, smart plant placement, efficient soil management, maintaining plant health, and embracing smart gardening practices - you can ensure that your garden remains vibrant, healthy, and resilient throughout the summer season. With a little care and attention, your garden will thrive, providing you with a beautiful oasis during even the hottest months of the year.


A Minute with Meta: Finding Your Perfect Home

Finding Your Perfect Home

Looking for the perfect home can be an exciting yet challenging process. It’s an important decision that requires careful consideration of various factors such as location, size, price, and condition of the property. With so many options available, finding the perfect home can be overwhelming, but with some tips and tricks, the process can become a lot easier. 

Here are some tips to help you navigate the process and find your perfect home.

Determine your budget

Before you start searching for a home, it’s important to determine your budget. Knowing how much you can afford will help you narrow down your options and avoid wasting time looking at homes that are beyond your price range. You can start by getting pre-approved for a mortgage or creating a budget that includes your income, expenses, and savings.

Identify your needs and wants

Make a list of your needs and wants in a home. This will help you prioritize your search and ensure that you don’t compromise on your essential requirements. Some factors to consider include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the lot, the layout of the home, and the overall condition.

Consider the location

The location of your home is just as important as the home itself. You want to choose a location that is convenient for your daily activities such as work, school, and shopping. Consider the neighborhood, the distance from your workplace, and the availability of public transportation.

Hire a real estate agent

Working with a real estate agent can make the home buying process a lot easier. They have the expertise and experience to guide you through the process, help you find homes that meet your requirements, and negotiate on your behalf. They can also help you navigate the paperwork and legal requirements.

Attend open houses

Attending open houses can give you a better idea of the homes available in your budget and the features you want. You can also use this opportunity to ask questions, gather information, and compare different properties. However, keep in mind that the home may look different during the open house than on a typical day.

Inspect the home

Once you’ve identified a potential home, make sure to inspect it thoroughly. This will help you identify any potential issues and determine if the home is worth the investment. You can hire a professional home inspector to inspect the property and provide you with a detailed report.

Don’t rush the process

Finding the perfect home can take time. Don’t rush the process or settle for a home that doesn’t meet your requirements. Take your time, consider all your options, and make an informed decision.

Finding the perfect home can be a challenging process, but it’s also an exciting one. By following these tips, you can make the process a lot easier and ensure that you find a home that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Remember to take your time, prioritize your requirements, and work with a real estate agent to make the process as smooth as possible.


A Minute with Meta: Home Decor For spring

Spring is a season of renewal, and it's the perfect time to bring some fresh energy into your home. With Easter just around the corner, it's also an ideal opportunity to add some festive touches to your decor. Whether you're hosting an Easter brunch or simply looking to brighten up your living space, here are some ideas for spring and Easter decorating in your home.

Add pops of pastel colors

One of the easiest ways to embrace the season is by incorporating soft pastel colors into your decor. Swap out heavy winter fabrics and accessories. Think about adding throw pillows, table runners, or curtains in shades of pink, yellow, and green. You could also bring in fresh flowers or potted plants, which not only add color but also improve indoor air quality.

Display Easter-themed decor

If you celebrate Easter, you can add some festive touches to your home with themed decorations. Decorating for Easter can be as simple or elaborate as you want. You can use modern Easter decorations like eggs, bunnies and lambs, in a decorative bowl or tray.  Or choose more traditional items such as Easter baskets and eggs made from ceramic or plastic. Display these items on shelves, tables or mantels.

Use natural materials

Spring is all about embracing the beauty of nature, so incorporating natural materials into your decor is a great way to bring that energy indoors. Consider using woven baskets, wooden trays, or ceramic vases to display your decorations. You could also add some natural textures with a jute rug or wicker furniture.

Play with patterns

Another way to add visual interest to your decor is by incorporating playful patterns. Think about using a floral tablecloth or adding a gingham throw pillow to your sofa. Mixing and matching different patterns can create a fun and whimsical vibe in your home.

Incorporate seasonal scents

Don't forget to engage your sense of smell when decorating for spring and Easter. Consider using scented candles or diffusers in scents like lavender, jasmine, or lemon to create a fresh and uplifting atmosphere in your home.

Hang a spring-inspired wreath

A wreath is a great way to add some color and texture to the exterior of your home. A wreath is an easy and versatile way to decorate for any season. For spring and Easter, consider a wreath made of pastel-colored flowers, eggs, or bunnies. You can hang it on your front door to greet guests or inside your home to add a touch of spring to your decor.

Create a festive centerpiece

Dress up your dining table with Easter-themed placemats, napkins, and table runners.A festive centerpiece can be a great way to add some Easter cheer to your home. You can create a centerpiece by filling a glass jar or vase with colorful Easter eggs or by arranging some flowers and greenery around a bunny or chick figurine. If you're feeling crafty, you can even create a DIY Easter egg tree or wreath.

Add fresh flowers

One of the easiest and most effective ways to bring spring into your home is by adding fresh flowers. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are some of the classic spring blooms that you can incorporate into your decor. Arrange them in vases or pitchers, and place them on your kitchen table, mantle, or windowsill for a pop of color.

There are many fun and easy ways to decorate your home for Easter and Spring. Whether you choose to add fresh flowers, create a festive centerpiece, hang a wreath, incorporate bunny decor, or add colorful Easter eggs, these decorating ideas will infuse your home with the spirit of the season. Happy decorating!

 I hope these spring home decor ideas have inspired you to add some color to your life! If you want to keep up with my latest posts, make sure you follow me on social media.


A Minute with Meta: Beating The Winter Blues

As the cold winter months drag on, it's not uncommon to start feeling a bit down. The lack of sunlight and outdoor activities can take a toll on our mood and energy levels.

Winter can be a beautiful season with snowflakes, cozy blankets, and hot cocoa, but for some people, it can also bring on the winter blues. The shorter days, longer nights, and colder weather can make it difficult to stay motivated and positive. 

However, there are ways to beat the winter blues and enjoy the season to the fullest. In this blog post, I'll discuss some tips for beating the winter blues.

Get outside

It's cold outside, but getting some fresh air and sunlight can help lift your mood. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. Bundle up in warm clothes and take a walk outside, or try winter activities such as ice skating or skiing. If it's too cold to be outside, try sitting by a sunny window or investing in a light therapy lamp. Exposure to natural light, even on cloudy days, can boost your mood and help regulate your circadian rhythm.

Stay active

Exercise releases endorphins, which can help combat feelings of depression and anxiety. It is a great way to boost your mood and energy levels. Even if you can't go to the gym or exercise outdoors, there are plenty of indoor workouts you can do from the comfort of your home, such as yoga or Pilates. Find a workout routine that works for you and make it a part of your daily routine.

Stay social

It’s easy to feel isolated during the winter months, so it's important to stay connected with others. Make plans with friends and family, even if it's just a virtual hangout. You can also join a winter sports team, a book club, or a hobby group to meet new people who share your interests and stay engaged during the colder months.

Practice self-care

Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing. Set aside time to do things that make you feel good, whether that's taking a hot bath, indulging in your favorite comfort foods, or curling up with a good book. Taking care of yourself can help you feel more positive and energized.

Plan something to look forward to

Whether it's a weekend getaway, a concert, or just a movie night with friends, having something to look forward to can help lift your spirits and make the winter seem less endless.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sunlight can disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you feeling tired and irritable. Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down at night will make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Things like reading a book, having a hot bath or shower, meditation or yoga can all be helpful in getting you to relax and fall asleep more quickly. It will make a big difference in how rested and ready for life you feel in the morning.

Make the most of the season

Instead of dreading winter, try to find joy in the season. Embrace winter activities such as ice skating, snowshoeing, or building a snowman. Decorate your home with cozy blankets, candles, and warm lighting. Try new winter recipes, such as hearty soups or stews.

The winter blues can be challenging, but by taking care of yourself and staying active, social, and engaged, you can beat the winter blues and enjoy the season. Remember to be kind to yourself and reach out for help if you need it. Stay warm and have a happy winter!




A Minute with Meta: New Home Checklist


Congratulations on your new home!

Moving into a new home is exciting, but it can also be stressful. People move for many reasons, new job, to be closer to family and more.  Leaving behind your old neighborhood and starting fresh in a new place, with different people, can be overwhelming. Trying to stay organized can help things to go more smoothly.

Let’s look at some moving tips to help you transition into your new home.

Make a checklist

Creating a checklist ahead of time can help to make the whole moving process more organized and less hectic. Prioritize things that should be done right away, and things that can wait a bit.

Change your locks

It's a good idea to change the locks on your doors and windows as soon as possible after moving in. You never know who has keys for current locks. It's also important to change the lock on your mailbox, if there is one. If you have a garage, make sure that it has an extra secure lock on its door as well.

Change your address

In all the excitement of moving into your new home, it can be easy to forget about updating your address with the post office. Update your drivers license and change any other addresses that companies might require (such as for credit cards or insurances).

Test your smoke detectors and HVAC system

Test your new smoke detectors and HVAC system. If there is a problem with either one, it's important to get them checked out right away.

If you move in the dead of winter or during the heat of summer, you'll want to make sure your systems are working well.

Create an emergency plan

Make sure everyone in the household has a clear understanding of what to do in case of an emergency. Create an escape plan in case of a fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, or any other disaster that might occur where you live. Make sure all family members know where emergency supplies will be stored in new space. Have a conversation about what steps each person should take in case of an intruder.

Take time to put a new emergency plan in place in your new home.

Transfer utilities 

Make sure your utilities are turned off at your old residence, and they are transferred or turned on at your new location. Consider researching utility providers ahead of your move to determine whether you've chosen the right provider for you. Depending on the company, you may need to pay a transfer fee and a new service setup charge. If you're a new customer, check with the utility company to find out what you need to do to set them up.

Get to know your neighbourhood

The first thing that you should do is get to know your neighbourhood. You'll want to know the local shops, restaurants, schools and parks.

Look for local community boards. These can be great for local resources and events.

Meet your neighbours

Your neighbourhood can help you get connected and feel a part of the community. 

Introduce yourself to your neighbours. They can be a valuable resource and can help with everything from keeping an eye on your home while you're away to lending a hand with home improvement projects. You'll also want to ask for their advice about local contractors or service providers who may be able to do repairs or yard work for less than what the big companies charge.

Don't skimp on maintenance

You can't avoid maintenance. It's a fact of life. Your new home may require more maintenance then your previous one. 

Make a home maintenance checklist. You can perform tasks each season to make them less overwhelming. Look into local services that can help with some of these.

Maintenance should continue throughout the year as needed; don't wait until something breaks before taking care of it!

Start a home-improvement fund early so money is available when it's needed.

One of the best ways to prepare for your new home is to start a home-improvement fund early so money is available when it's needed. You'll need to budget for things like paint, carpet and appliances, but don't forget about maintenance costs as well.

You can set up this type of account with your bank or credit union. Then all that remains is transferring funds into this account as needed throughout the year (or years). The general rule of thumb is to save a minimum of 1 percent of the home’s purchase price each year for repairs.

I hope this article has helped you feel more prepared so you can relax and enjoy your new home.

If there's anything else I can do to help, please let me know!


A Minute With Meta : Fun New Year's Resolutions

If your New Year's resolutions are feeling a bit stale this year, you're in luck! I've rounded up some of my favorite new ways to make the most of this exciting time of year.

Cut back on something that you'd like to do less of.

I'm not only talking about food or alcohol, though those are both good options. Be it video games, social media, or television shows, there's no better time than the new year to make a change! This is a great way to start off the year feeling refreshed and reinvigorated. It's a great opportunity to cut back on something that you'd like to do less of. And this could give us more time to spend with family and friends or just have a little more time each day to relax. 

Finally get around to reading a book that's been on your list for ages.

It’s easy to get distracted by the obligations of work and family, but if you want to read more this year, make sure you find some time for it. Try setting aside an hour or two each week to read a book that has been on your list for ages. If you don't know where to start, ask friends or family members what they've been reading lately—you may find some great recommendations! 

Start a new hobby.

Hobbies can help you stay occupied and active. Try taking up a new hobby this year—it could be anything from gardening to ballroom dancing! You might even meet new people and make some friends along the way, which is always nice (and helpful).

Think up fun ways to celebrate your wins.

Did you meet a goal this month? Your entire life? Celebrate that win! You deserve to throw a party for yourself and your accomplishments. Make it an event worth celebrating, with something special planned—a trip, an afternoon at the spa, or whatever else brings happiness to your heart. If there’s someone in your life who has been instrumental in helping you achieve success (like a mentor or parent), consider inviting them along so they can share in the joy of this momentous occasion. Maybe now is the time to treat yourself!

Challenge yourself to try one new thing each week.

Make the usual unusual. You can try something you've never done before, like taking a class or going to a museum. Or you can visit a new place, like the zoo or an amusement park. Or maybe you've always wanted to learn how to play an instrument but think you're not very good at music—here's your chance! If these ideas aren't your cup of tea (or rather, pint of beer), then perhaps think about doing something that challenges your physical abilities instead: play sports with friends or go for hikes with family members who live nearby.
There are lots of ways that this resolution could lead toward self-improvement—so don't be afraid if things start getting tough! Just remember: "If at first you don't succeed..."

Get your photo taken in five interesting places

There's no reason to wait for the perfect vacation to take a great selfie. Instead, make it a goal to do some of your best poses for the camera at home or on the go—you might even discover new places that you'd like to visit! Start by picking out five spots that are near you and think about what makes them interesting: A historical spot? An art gallery? A nature trail? A local landmark? Once you've decided on the five places that will make for the best photos, go ahead and take some pictures. Try to get creative with your poses—maybe try a funny one or two!

Try a new food each week

One of the best ways to get out of a rut is to try something new. A great way to do this is by trying a new food each week, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. Try a different cuisine, check out a new restaurant, make something you've never tried before in your kitchen, or try a new cooking method with which you're unfamiliar. You could even challenge yourself by trying a cooking tool that will take some practice before you master it! Maybe there's an ingredient available in your area that's not common where you live—go buy some and see if it tastes good!

Learn something you never learned as a child

Maybe you never learned how to ride a bike as a child. Maybe you were afraid of the water and didn't want to learn how to swim. Maybe your parents wouldn't let you play with toy guns and skateboards (it's okay, we get it). Whatever your reason, there are plenty of easy ways to pick up new skills this year.
 Learning new things is fun, and it can also help you feel more empowered. If you've ever wanted to learn how to do something but thought it was too hard or not worth the effort, it's never too late.
So, have you made any New Year's Resolutions for 2023? If not, what are some things you think about changing in the new year? 

A Minute with Meta:Staging Your Home To Sell During The Holidays


The holidays may not be the best time of year to sell your home, however, there are ways to make your home more appealing during this time of year. The following tips will help you stage it so that it'll sell faster and for more money!

Make your front entrance as welcoming as possible.

When it comes to staging your home, your front porch is a prime spot for potential buyers to see. It's the first thing they see when they pull up to your house, so make sure that it looks as good as possible. This can be done by cleaning and decluttering. If you don't have a front porch, then try putting some plants on either side of your front door or in potted planters.

Put up lights. You don't have to go all out and string up a million strands, but it's always nice to see houses lit up around Christmas time. It creates a warm, cozy feeling that will make potential buyers feel at home too!

Hang fresh wreaths on your doors.

Wreaths are a simple way to add holiday spirit. They can also be made of a variety of materials, such as pine cones and fresh greenery. Wreaths not only add color and texture to your home, they make it smell good too!

Light a fire (if you have a fireplace).

Fires are a great way to make your home feel warm and cozy during the winter months. It's also a great way to show off your home's unique style. If you have a fireplace, then make sure that it's lit before potential buyers arrive.

Homebuyers love the warm, inviting feeling that a fire can give off. 

Also, make sure that the fireplace is functional and not blocked by furniture or other items.

Put out some holiday-scented candles or potpourri.

The holidays are a great time to put out some candles or potpourri to help your home smell festive. Just make sure that the air is fresh and clean, and that the scent isn't overpowering. A few candles burning slowly in different rooms will create an inviting atmosphere for holiday buyers.

Decorate with lots of natural elements, like pine cones and holiday greenery.

Holiday decorating is all about the natural elements. If you're going to put out holiday decorations, make sure they're simple and elegant. Don't go overboard with too much tinsel or glitter; keep it classy! A few tasteful pine cone arrangements, a small collection of hand-painted glass ornaments and some fresh greenery will do the trick.

Taking these steps will help buyers see your home as a festive environment they could enjoy living in.

Selling your home over the holidays can be a little stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Staging your home for sale during this time of year can help you make your house look its best and attract more buyers. 


A Minute With Meta:Does Your Home Still Fit Your Needs?

When you move into your home, it's easy to get attached to the layout and decor. You have a sense of pride as you show off your new place, and it feels like it'll be perfect forever. But if you've been in the same house for more than five years or so, you may notice that certain rooms seem smaller than they used to be or that some areas are just getting crowded with stuff. 

You might also notice that all those cool features built into the house when it was first constructed are now actually holding back its functionality as a home. 

If this sounds familiar — and even if it doesn't — read on! I’m going explain how space can affect our day-to-day lives in ways we don't always realize at first glance:

Your home may no longer fit your needs if ...

You have more children than bedrooms

If you're not planning on having any more children, or if you already have enough bedrooms for the number of children in your home, then this probably isn't a problem. However, if you have more kids than bedrooms, it may be time to move up.

Members of your family are tripping over each other due to lack of common space.

If you have a large family, moving to a bigger home may be the answer. If you have outgrown your current space, it might be time for more room. If your household is growing and you are feeling cramped in the house, consider looking at homes that are larger than what you currently occupy.

You are trying to work from home, but you don't have an office or even a desk.

You may need the space to work from home, and the house you currently live in may be too small. Maybe you've been able to get by with just a laptop on the couch, but now that you're growing your business, it's time for something more professional. Something away from the toys and loud playing kids.

A home office is a place to focus on your work without distractions. If you're limited by the space in your house, it might be time to invest in a larger home with more room for a dedicated workplace.

You have more cars than places to park them.

You have more cars than places to park them.

If you have a car for every member of your family and then some, your driveway may be looking awfully crowded. This can be particularly problematic if you live in an area where parking is at a premium—or if you do not have access to a garage or other indoor storage space for your extra vehicles.

You don't have enough room for hobbies such as crafts or woodworking.

The importance of having enough space for hobbies will vary depending on your personal preferences. If you're a crafter, it's nice to have lots of room in which to spread out materials to work on projects. If you enjoy fishing, having a workshop or garage can help keep equipment out of sight while keeping it close at hand.

If the home you live in doesn't allow for these kinds of activities it may be time to find something that does.

Your family has outgrown the yard, and you no longer have a place for pets to roam freely.

If your family has outgrown the yard, or if you find that you no longer have a place for pets to roam freely, then it's time to think about finding somewhere else to live.

The yard should be big enough to accommodate all members of the family—including pets—as well as accommodate outdoor activities such as gardening and lawn games.

Your kitchen is too small for cooking holiday meals and entertaining guests

If you find yourself thinking, "I just don't have the space for cooking holiday meals or entertaining guests," then it's time to think about moving to a larger space. As your family grows and your needs change, so should your kitchen.

When you're ready to move up, consider the benefits of a larger home. You'll have more space for everyone, including pets and hobbies.

So if you are ready to trade in your starter home for something more spacious with potential investment potential, contact me today! I will help find just what you need at an affordable price point


A Minute With Meta:Why You Need a Pre-approved Mortgage

If you're looking to buy a home, it's important to get pre-approved for a mortgage. A pre-approval from a mortgage professional will let you know exactly how much house you can afford. This will give you peace of mind about making an offer on a property and ensures your offer won’t fall apart due to unforeseen or unexpected financing issues. Pre-approval also helps sellers know that they can put their faith in their buyers' ability to get financing—which increases their confidence in accepting an offer on their home.

Get a clearer picture of your mortgage options

  • You can compare different mortgage options.

  • You can see how much house you can afford.

  • You can figure out how much you need to put down on a home, or what kind of mortgage would be best for your budget and future goals.

You'll have the confidence to make a stronger offer

You know what you can afford, which means that when you make an offer on a home, it'll be more likely to be accepted. You'll also know how much of a down payment you're going to need and how much each month's mortgage payments will be.

A pre-approved mortgage can save time

You may think that you could skip the pre-approval process and just get a mortgage when you’re ready to buy, but it will actually save you time in the long run.

The pre-approval process allows you to begin your search for a home without having to worry about whether or not the price will be out of reach. This means that you can focus on houses rather than worrying about how much they cost and whether or not they’re affordable with your current income.

If there are any issues with getting approved (such as when interest rates rise), then there’s no need to worry because of the pre-approval already being in place!

You have more negotiating power

A pre-approval gives you more negotiating power because it shows the seller that you are serious about buying the house. This can help you get a better price, or lower closing costs, or even a later closing date.

Pre-approved mortgages help you get in a new home faster

A pre-approved mortgage is a stamp of approval from your lender that you're able to afford the home you want to buy. It means that if you find a home in your price range, you can move quickly, negotiate for what's important to you and avoid wasting time on homes that aren't a good fit.

There are many benefits to getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting approved for a mortgage before you start looking at houses is the first step in the home buying process.


A Minute with Meta: Preparing For Your Mortgage

Preparing For Your Mortgage

Buying a home is an exciting time, being prepared can help to make the process easier with less disappointments and delays. The following tips can help you be ready for buying your first home.

Determine how much you can afford

Before you start budgeting for your mortgage, it's important to determine how much you can afford. First of all, use a mortgage calculator to get a ballpark idea of what your payments will be. Then consider your monthly expenses and work out how much you can afford to pay each month. Finally, get an idea of what is available in your area and set a realistic price range that fits both your current financial situation and the potential growth of your future finances.

Save for a downpayment 

Your down payment is the portion of the mortgage you are responsible for paying upfront. The larger your down payment the less your mortgage will be. Larger down payments will reduce your monthly payment which can help meet your debt ratio amounts.

Down payment for a primary residence can be as low as 5%, but down payments lower than 20% will require CMHC insurance. This is an additional cost that can usually be rolled into your mortgage.

Make sure your credit score is in good shape

You'll want to make sure your credit score is in good shape before applying for a mortgage. Lenders use it to assess your ability to pay back money you borrow. Your credit score is influenced by several factors, including how much money you owe, how long you've been borrowing money, and whether you pay the bills on time. A higher score suggests less risk of default, which lowers a lender's likelihood of losing money when they extend a mortgage loan to you.

Your credit score also helps determine what interest rates will be available to you. In general, the better your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. And as we’ll discuss later in this guide, lower interest rates can mean substantial savings over time.

Before applying for a mortgage loan, take some time to improve your individual credit score by following these steps:

Make sure lenders can verify that all of your income comes from legitimate sources and that it's stable enough for them to trust that it won't disappear soon after you get approved for the loan.

Pay all of your bills on time each month and stay current with any existing loans or other forms of debt that appear on your credit report.

If possible, bring down the balance owed on any outstanding loans or lines of credit listed on your report—including paying off any remaining balances on store-specific cards and consolidating multiple accounts if necessary—to lower the amount owed relative to total available limits.

Manage your debt

Before you can buy a home, the bank will assess your debt ratio. That’s simply how much of what you make goes to paying off debt each month. This includes credit card payments, car loans, student loans and any other type of monthly bill. Generally speaking, lenders prefer to see a debt-to-income ratio of less than 36%. So if you bring home $5,000 per month for example, your total monthly debts should not be greater than $1800..

To improve this ratio and increase your chances of approval for a mortgage loan:

Pay down balances on credit cards and other revolving accounts

Consider consolidating some of those smaller debts into one larger monthly payment (This is called refinancing.). Obviously that only works if the interest rate you pay on the new loan is lower than what you were paying before so it is worth doing a little research before making any sudden moves.

The other way to improve that ratio is simply increasing your income but as most people don't have much control over their salaries in the short term then it's best to focus on reducing debts rather than trying to work overtime at work or getting some side hustles going

Save up for closing costs

Next, get ready for closing costs. These are the expenses that aren’t included in your mortgage, but are due when you close on the house. They can include various taxes and fees such as land or property transfer taxes, HST/GST, title insurance, legal fees and more.  Some of these costs have to be paid up front; others you can roll into your mortgage balance.

Average closing costs in BC are about 3-5% of the purchase price.  So if you're buying a $500,000 home, expect to pay between $15 000 and $25 000 in closing costs (much of which will go toward all those fees listed above). And remember: The higher your down payment is, the lower your loan amount will be--and therefore the less you'll pay in interest over time.

Save a little more than you need, then put it into a rainy day fund

We all know that a large part of getting approved for a mortgage is having enough savings to meet lenders' requirements. But as you accumulate more and more cash, it's easy to get tempted by the idea of using every last cent to put down on your new home. We think it's key to resist this temptation and save just a little bit more than you need, then put it into a rainy day fund.

Having an emergency fund is important for everyone, not just people who are buying homes! It means you'll be less financially stressed if something unexpected happens (like your car breaks down or you lose hours at work). If nothing does happen, then hey—you can use the money for something fun!

Get a pre-approval for your mortgage

Once you have established what you feel you can afford, cleaned up your credit score, and lessened your debt load, make sure you get a pre-approval from your bank or mortgage broker.

This is a very important step before viewing homes that can save you time and money. Getting a pre-approval means the lender has reviewed your finances and determines what you can afford. This can strengthen your future offers as it shows you are a serious buyer.  It can also speed up the closing process.

Buying your first home should be a memorable experience.  Though it can be complicated, there are experts to help you each step of the way.  Feel free to call me with any questions.


A Minute with Meta: Moving Day

How To Make Moving Day Easier

Start planning early.

A lot has to happen to get you from your current location to your new home. You have to organize, pack, and transport all of your things, figure out how much everything weighs, negotiate a price with movers (if you're hiring them), and potentially arrange for storage if the timing doesn't work out exactly. All the moving parts that go into a move can add up quickly—and become very stressful—so do yourself a favor: start planning early.

The actual process of packing can take months depending on just how much you own. But even if the job only takes a few weeks, it's best to give yourself plenty of time so you can do it thoroughly and avoid having too much clutter left at the last minute. While you're decluttering, keep in mind that moving is a great opportunity to toss or donate items that no longer serve you—or never did in the first place!

Come up with a realistic plan and timeline for packing.

You need to make a timeline for your packing. If you’re moving in one month, don’t wait until the last minute to start packing! It can get overwhelming very quickly, and the stress will likely lead to poor decisions that end up costing you time and money. Start boxing up those items you don’t use on a daily basis as soon as possible. 

You should plan to be out of your home at least a day before your move date — no one wants to pack after a tiring day of moving furniture and other heavy objects!

Get rid of stuff you don't need or want.

Moving day is a busy time. If you have plenty of time before the move, it can help to go through belongings and get rid of anything you don't really need. The last thing you want to deal with on moving day is trying to get rid of stuff that you don’t want. This can also make unpacking much easier! 

If your unwanted items are in good condition, consider donating them to charity.  This can make you feel good about clearing out the clutter.

If you plan ahead for this disposal and have a plan for getting rid of waste such as old furniture before moving day arrives, it will make moving day go much more smoothly.

Use space efficiently for packing.

Using space efficiently for packing is important because you don't want to be stuck with too many boxes taking up your living room, or paying for more space in a moving truck than you need.

To pack as efficiently as possible, try to fill odd spaces inside containers with lighter items like linens or clothes. You can also use soft items like towels and clothes to cushion breakable items.

If you have reusable containers that stack well, these are great options for packing fragile things like dishes and glassware.

Make sure all boxes are labeled clearly and that inventory lists are up to date.

 Moving may be a time-   consuming, tiring process, but it   can be done with ease if you are   prepared.

 Make sure all boxes are labeled   clearly and that inventory lists are  up to date. You'll thank   yourself later when it comes time   to unpack — or even in the midst   of your move when you need to   figure out which boxes should   ride in the moving van and which   ones can safely take a trip in your car.

Even if you decide to go the old-school route with your labeling (a Sharpie marker is just fine) or if you only make use of existing labels (like those from Amazon), it's helpful for everyone involved in the move process to quickly know what's what. 

Set aside a first night box with essentials in it.

You’ll also want to set aside a box with your essential items. This might include a change of clothes, toiletries, medications and any other items you will need in the first 24 hours. If you have it, throw in some bedding so that you can take a nap on arrival. You can also set up another box for the first week. This could include cleaning supplies and any tools or kitchen items that won't be needed straight away. Make sure to label these boxes clearly so that they are easy to spot when unpacking and don't forget them when moving!

Once you've packed, take inventory of how much you have to move -- this will help with booking the movers.

Now that you've packed up all your possessions and are ready to move, the next step is to inventory how much you have to move. This will help you book movers and plan the logistics of moving day. First, answer these questions:

How many boxes or items do I have?

How heavy are those boxes or items?

How many trucks do I need for all my stuff?

How many movers will it take to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time? How long should it take them? And what will this cost me?

If you can afford it, hire movers and make sure they are reputable ones.

If you can afford to do so, hire professional movers. These folks know what they're doing and can turn a day-long ordeal into a couple of hours of relaxation. The right type of mover will also have the proper equipment to protect your belongings from breaking. A good way to find reputable movers is reading reviews online. The best moving companies have excellent reviews, are licensed and bonded, and have fair prices. You can also ask friends and family for their recommendations.

Moving day doesn't have to turn into moving week if you plan ahead and keep organized!


A Minute with Meta: Staging Your Home

Stage Your Home To Sell

There are many things you can do to stage your home. If you need to sell your home quickly, it is important that you do everything you can to make it appealing to the potential buyer. Most people know how helpful it is but don't have enough time or money. Here are some ideas for making your home more attractive without spending a lot of money. 

House staging has 5 main benefits: 1) Helps sell homes faster 2) Boosts overall home value 3) Minimizes buyer objections 4) Creates urgency  5) Improves your return on investment.

Curb appeal

Curb appeal is the first way to convince a buyer that it makes sense to invest in your house. No one wants to buy a house that looks dreary and unwelcoming from the outside. So, do what you can to make your home shine from the curb.

This could involve simple improvements like mowing your lawn, planting some flowers, pulling weeds, hiding clutter or cleaning up toys, trimming shrubs and trees, repairing cracks in your driveway and sidewalks, painting or staining the front step. If you have any painted surfaces that are peeling on the exterior of your home now is also a good time to repaint them so they look fresh.

If it snows where you live shoveling snow can be an important chore as well. And if it’s summertime don’t forget about watering as this can go a long way in making a great first impression with buyers!

Clear the clutter

If you have a home that’s full of clutter, then it might be time to get rid of some of your stuff. To start, take an honest look at what you really need and use and then get rid of the rest. Are there old furniture items that are making your home feel out-of-date? Then it's time to donate them or sell them to someone who can use them! In addition to getting rid of the clutter inside your home, don't forget about what's outside as well. Your yard may need some maintenance before you can show it off. Make sure you're keeping up with mowing the lawn and also rake up any fallen leaves and branches.

Storing things in your garage is another great way to clear out clutter from your main living spaces while still keeping items within reach if needed (especially useful for those seasonal decorations). If you don't have room in your garage for all the things that are cluttering up your place, consider renting a storage unit for extra space. This is also a great option for people who may have already moved or sold their homes but still want access to their belongings for sentimental reasons or until they find their next place! And don't forget about those closets – often we forget what we're storing away in there!

Get rid of old toys, books, and clothes by giving them away or selling them online through sites. 

Make your home shine

Now that you know how to make the best first impression, let's get started. It's time to deep clean your home and make sure it shines. You want buyers to picture themselves living there, so remove any personal or distracting items. Clean up every room, starting with the kitchen and bathroom(s), then move on to other areas of the house such as bedrooms and living rooms. After that checklist is complete, focus on all the little details you may have missed, like baseboards and door knobs.

Here are some more tips for cleaning up:

  • Let in as much natural light as possible; open all shades and blinds, replace burned out bulbs with bright new ones (100 watt bulbs will do), switch light fixtures if necessary, etc.

  • Clean all windows

  • Wash walls with warm water and detergent if they need it—usually they do!

  • Wash baseboards and doors, too. And don't forget the front door! It makes an important first impression too!

  • If you have wall-to-wall carpeting in any rooms (not just bedrooms), professional steam cleaning is strongly recommended. Be sure to have pets cleaned before potential buyers visit (this includes fish).

  • Neutralize bad smells by opening windows when weather permits--buyers will not like walking into the smell of last night's fried chicken dinner no matter how tasty it was! Fill your home with pleasant aromas using potpourri or scented candles instead.

Don't be too personal

You may have personal items that are special to you, but they're not so special to others. Personal photos can distract buyers, and it's best to avoid bringing up topics like religion or politics. Keep your home looking and feeling as neutral as possible.

Rearrange furniture

In the living room and dining room, rearrange furniture to best show off the space. If you have a small living area, try using floor-to-ceiling pieces that open up the area by creating vertical space rather than horizontal clutter. If you have a large room, don't be afraid to use your furniture as part of a conversation area. Take advantage of the natural flow of your home and create a path that guides buyers through each room.

Show off storage space

If you've ever seen those episodes of House Hunters where people get excited over a walk-in closet, you know how important storage space is to homebuyers. Storage is what allows people to keep things organized and out of view—which they all want, but don't necessarily have.

Closets are the most obvious place to highlight organizational features, but if square footage is at a premium in your home, think about using under-bed storage boxes. A couple of these can make a big difference in how easy it will be for buyers to imagine themselves living there; they'll feel like the place already has their stuff tucked away.

Hooks on doors and walls can also help you maximize your square footage by making additional storage options visible; if buyers see empty hooks everywhere, they'll naturally start thinking about what else could go there. For example: maybe that hall closet would be better suited for shelving or shoe racks instead of its current hodgepodge layout.

Home staging is about giving you the best edge in the market, and getting top dollar for your home. That is the end goal is it not?   Ready, set, stage!

MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.