Month: December 2016

New Years Eve 2016

Photo of a bottle of champagne and a firework for an article about New Years Eve 2016.Do you have plans for New Years Eve 2016 yet? If not, there are plenty of fun events to choose from!


  • New Year’s Eve Bash at MORA Asian Fusion includes appetizers, open bar and champagne toast at midnight. Party goes from 9:30 pm to 12:30 am and is $95 per person. MORA Asian Fusion is located at 24108 W Lockport St. Plainfield, IL 60544 and phone number is 815-782-5340.


  • New Year’s Eve Gala by the Church at Joliet includes dinner, worship, praise, and prizes. The party begins at 8:30 pm and the cost is $40 for Adults, Teens/Young Adults 14-18 is $20 and children 13 and under are $10. Party is located at George’s 174 Banquet Hall, 1407 Essington Road in Joliet.


  • Stone City Saloon NYE party from 10 pm to 3 am.  This party is for those 21 and over and includes a dinner buffet, DJ, champagne toast and party favors. Tickets need to be purchased in advance and are $50. For more information call 815-524-4704.


  • Zoo Year’s Eve celebration in the Holly Jolly Theater includes live DJ music, party favors, games, prizes and an early countdown beginning at 8 pm. The celebration is perfect for children ages 6 and under. The cost is $17.85 for adults, seniors 65 and older are $12.50 and children ages 3-11 are $12.50. Active, reservist and retired members of the military are free with an ID. Parking for the event is $11.

Orland Park

  • Noon Year’s Eve Jump at Pump it Up located at 11411 W 183rd Street in Orland Park. Times are 9:30 am to 12 pm and 12:30 pm to 3 pm. The cost is $10 per child and adults can jump free of charge. For more information call 708-479-2220.


  • New Year’s Eve with Dabylon at Ballydoyle. Reggae and Ska music will be played and the event includes a champagne toast and party favors. The cost is $10 per person. Ballydoyle is located at 28 W New York Street in Aurora. For more information call 630-844-0400.



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When Can A Buyer Purchase After A Short Sale?

Photo of an approval stamp on a mortgage application for an article about buying after a short sale.

Since the turnaround of the housing market began, many buyers are asking how long they have to wait after a short sale to purchase again. Here are the general guidelines broken down by loan type:

  • FHA loans: If a borrower is not behind on their mortgage at the time of the short sale (mainly transferees that didn’t or don’t have a choice) they are eligible to purchase again. Buyers cannot short sell and purchase a similar home in the same area. If the borrower is in default at the time of the short sale, they need to wait 3 years from the short sale close date before buying again. If the short sale property had an FHA mortgage, the 3 year wait period doesn’t begin until FHA pays the claim. This date can be provided by a lender.
  • FHA exceptions: Exceptions may be made for circumstances that occur beyond the borrowers control such as job loss, a medical emergency, death of the wage earner, etc. The credit before the event needs to be satisfactory.
  • Conventional loans: Wait time for conventional mortgages is dependent upon the down payment. All waiting periods start from the closing date of the short sale.

 Waiting Period                       Down Payment/LTV requirements (Loan
to value ratio)
2 years                                   80% maximum LTV ratios
4 years                                   90% maximum LTV ratios
7 years                                   95% maximum LTV ratios
* All waiting periods must credit score qualify with traditional credit.
Non-traditional credit isn’t accepted.

  • Conventional loan exceptions: Similarly to FHA loans, conventional programs can be applied to conventional loans for circumstances that are beyond the borrowers control and that can be documented.  A 2 year waiting period is allowed with a 90% LTV or maximum LTV per conventional matrixes.
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Applying For A Mortgage-6 Questions You Need Answers To

picture of the word mortgage

Applying For A Mortgage

  1. What’s your annual income? Be sure to include any money earned from bonuses and investments as well.
  2. What is your credit score? Before applying for a mortgage, it’s important to have an idea of what your score is. Not only is it imperative to know your score, but really take a look at your credit report to make sure there are no errors present. If an error is found, contact the credit agency about removing the mistake. Getting a copy of your credit report should be free; everyone can get a free copy of their report every year.
  3. What assets do you have? Lenders will want proof of all assets including vehicles, income properties, etc. Also, be prepared to explain any large withdrawals or deposits to your accounts.
  4. How much debt do you have? A large part of the loan approval process is knowing what your debt-to-income ratio is.  Add up credit card balances, loan payments, and other monthly payments to determine what your amount of debt is.
  5. How much money can you put down? 
  6. How much home can you comfortably afford? In general, it is recommended that your housing expenses (mortgage payment, insurance, taxes, HOA, etc.) not exceed 28% of your gross income (income before taxes).
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5 Things To Do When Moving Into A New Home

Photo of a home for an article about things to do when moving into a new home.

1. Steam clean the carpeting. If you don’t own a carpet cleaner, you can have it done by a professional for around $45 per room or you can rent a steam cleaner from a home improvement store for about $35 a day.

2. Double check for plumbing leaks. Although your home inspector should have checked the home for leaks during the home inspection, it’s still a good idea to double check for signs of a leak.

3. Change the locks. Changing the locks is a safety precaution since you can’t be sure who has a key to your home. The locks can be changed yourself for about $10 a lock or a locksmith can do the job which may set you back about $20 per lock if you supply the lock.

4. Get familiar with the main water valve and the circuit breaker box.  Check to see if the fuses are labeled inside the breaker box and if they aren’t, work on doing that yourself. This will require two people with one person at the breaker box tripping fuses and one person in the room that the power is supposed to be to. Knowing where the main water valve is and how to turn it on and off is very important in case there is ever a plumbing issue.

5. Clean out cabinets. Although it is common sense, make sure to wipe out the outside and inside of all cabinets in order to prepare them to store your dishes, etc. It is best to use a non-toxic cleaner if possible.

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Buying In The Right Neighborhood

photo of downtown Plainfield, Illinois for an article about buying in the right neighborhood.


  • Buying in the right neighborhood means it meets points on your checklist
  • You hear good things about the area and like what you see when spending time in the neighborhood and visiting surrounding businesses
  • You see signs of home improvement such as nice landscaping, fences, decks, patios, etc. Home improvement efforts are usually indicative of pride in home ownership.
  • The neighborhood isn’t too far from your place of work
  • There are neighborhood watches/meetings: This is a sign that the community is close knit. Try attending some of these gatherings to learn more about the area and to determine if it’s a good fit for you.
  • Crime numbers are low
  • School scores are high: Schools are rated according to certain criteria such as standardized testing and those ratings can be seen at sites such as
  • Ensure the area meets your needs for at least 5 years: Maybe you are a young couple without kids right now but what if you decide to have a family in a few years or you change jobs? It’s a good idea to choose an area that will be able to accommodate such changes.
  • Homeownership is strong: Areas with high homeownership rates are generally stable.
  • Houses sell quickly
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9 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Fixer Upper

photo of a fixer upper home to illustrate an article about working on a home.
  1. Is the house just ugly? What kind of problems does the house have? Is it mainly cosmetic changes that would improve the home such as painting walls, replacing sinks, etc? Look for a home with minor problems that won’t cost you a lot of money or require lot’s of contractors.
  2. Is there structural damage? If the home’s problems include structural issues, you may want to pass on buying it, especially if you are brand new to home repairs. Problems such as foundation issues, termites, or plumbing are generally found during the home inspection and are both expensive and time consuming to fix.
  3. Do you have time? Fixer uppers require a lot of time and effort, so if you are already busy or like your weekends free, think twice about buying a fixer upper.
  4. Where will you live? If you have a place to stay while the work is being done, then renovations on a new home may not be a big deal. If you love DIY projects and don’t mind the mess, then staying in the renovation zone may work for you.
  5. Can you hire the right contractor? If you need a contractor, you need time to research the right one for the job. Obtain at least 3 estimates for all work that needs to be done, request references, and visit examples of their work if possible.
  6. How does it fit into the budget? If you are scraping up every last penny for the down payment, you may be strapped for cash once renovations begin. Even when you do have money saved up for the renovations, always add another 20% on top of that because even the most carefully planned projects will have unexpected expenses come up.
  7. How will it affect your relationship? Working on a home that needs extensive work can be stressful on a relationship.
  8. Do you have a support team around you? If you are single but still want to take on an fixer upper, make sure you have a network of people that can assist you; don’t work on the home alone and make sure that those assisting you have some expertise.
  9. Do you have realistic expectations? If you are a fan of home renovation shows, don’t assume your experience will be just like what you see on TV. Those speedy and many times perfect results are not realistic. If you plan ahead well with your finances, time, and resources you could have a great experience that really pays off.
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New Homeowner Checklist

  • Have air ducts cleaned, get the HVAC system inspected, cleaned and serviced and have an exterminator come to the home, especially if it has been vacant
  • Give the entire home a deep cleaning and get the carpets professionally cleaned
  • Focus on security: Change the locks, replace smoke alarm batteries if needed, think about a fire escape plan, invest in a fire-proof safe for valuables and install motion activated lights around all the entrances to the home.
  • Energy efficiency: Another part of the new homeowner checklist involves items that will improve the energy efficiency of the home. Invest in a programmable thermostat, install ceiling fans, replace/repair all weather stripping if needed, put new filters in the HVAC system, and install CFL or LED lightbulbs throughout the home.

It’s important to complete all of the inspections prior to closing and the rest of the list shortly after moving in!
Photo of a home to illustrate a new homeowner checklist.

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Essential Oils

Photo of lavender essential oil to illustrate recipes for essential oil diffusers.

Essential oils are rapidly gaining popularity and can be great for the home. Here are some essential oil recipes for diffusers  that can be for everyday use or for during a showing to make your home smell wonderful.

  • Clean and fresh air blend: 2 drops Lavender oil, 2 drops lemon oil, 2 drops rosemary oil
  • Odor eliminator blend: 2 drops lemon oil, 1 drop melaleuca oil, 1 drop cilantro oil, 1 drop lime oil
  • Pick me up blend: 2 drops wild orange oil, 2 drops peppermint oil
  • Citrus blend: 1 drop lemon oil, 2 drops wild orange oil, 1 drop lime oil, 1 drop grapefruit oil
  • Relaxation blend: 1 drop bergamot oil, 1 drop patchouli oil, 1 drop ylang ylang oil
  • Garden blend: 1 drop geranium oil,  2 drops lavender oil, 2 drops roman chamomile oil
  • Respiratory support blend: 1 drop lemon oil, 1 drop eucalyptus oil, 2 drops peppermint oil, 1 drop rosemary oil
  • Man cave blend: 2 drops white first oil, 2 drops cypress oil, 2 drops wintergreen oil
  • Spicy citrus blend: 3 drops wild orange oil, 2 drops cinnamon bark oil, 1 drop clove oil
  • Woodsy blend: 3 drops frankincense oil, 2 drops white fir oil, 1 drops cedarwood oil
  • Immunity booster blend: 1 drop rosemary oil, 1 drop clove oil, 1 drop eucalyptus oil, 1 drop cinnamon bark oil, 1 drop wild orange oil
  • Stress relief blend: 2 drops frankincense oil, 2 drops bergamot oil
  • Sweet dreams blend: 2 drops lavender oil, 2 drops chamomile oil, 2 drops vetiver oil
  • Candy store blend: 2 drops wild orange oil, 2 drops wintergreen oil
  • Energizing blend: 2 drops wild orange oil, 2 drops frankincense oil, 2 drops cinnamon oil
  • Holiday blend: 2 drops white fir oil, 2 drops wild orange oil, 1 drop wintergreen oil
  • Grounding blend: 2 drops vetiver oil, 2 drops cedarwood oil


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Staging Your Home On A Dime

Photo of a beautiful living room to illustrate points about staging your home.

Staging your home doesn’t have to be a costly venture; using what you already have or borrowing pieces here and there can dramatically improve your home’s style and appeal to potential buyers.

  • De-clutter: Clutter in your home decreases equity. You want buyers to come in and admire your organizational skills and plentiful amount of storage space. You may want to consider removing items that are smaller than a breadbasket as well as personal photos. Ensure that you do not have furniture cluttered together or wall decor cluttered on the wall.
  • Think space and flow: You are selling space in your home, not furniture, so apply the “rule of three”. You really only need three pieces of furniture to stage a room and those pieces should be appropriate to the room itself (such as not putting yard furniture in a living room). The same rule applies to decor items-you only need about three items to stage a mantle, dresser, etc.). Once you have staged your furniture and decor, make sure that there is plenty of space to move around the furniture.
  • Warmth and comfort: Now that your home is staged and free of clutter, focus on making your house a home. Try and stick to neutral or light paint colors; if you do need to re-paint it can be done cheaply. You can find ‘mistake paint’ at home improvement stores for only $5 a gallon. Adding floor and table lamps where needed creates a warm glow and helps the buyer feel at home.
  • Freshen up: Keep your home very clean and think about not using the kitchen right before a showing if possible. You want your home to shine and be free of any strong odors.
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