5 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day will look a little bit different this year with restrictions due to COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean you can’t recognize those amazing women in your life with a little bit of creativity and fun!

Think simple and consider doing one of these five things for Mom this Mother’s Day:

  1. Send a homemade card: With so much of our lives turning virtual, there’s no better time than now to send a handwritten note with a homemade Mother’s Day card. Consider using photos of you together, or write an original poem to include inside the card. This is sure to make it on the refrigerator!
  2. Create a video montage: Be prepared, this may bring on the water works! Show your mom how much you care by sending her a montage of photos of you together through the years, pairing it with her favorite song. Then email it to her, or even post it on her social.
  3. Send her dinner: With so many restaurants now delivering, send her a special lunch or dinner from her favorite local restaurant. Be sure to include an appetizer or dessert. This is a great way to give her a night off cooking while supporting local small businesses.
  4. If you’re at home with your mom, then do a traditional breakfast in bed: Show your thanks by waking up before her and bringing her breakfast in bed. There’s no doubt she’ll be overjoyed to spend a morning relaxing and enjoying a meal in the comfort of her own bed, and it’s a perfectly sweet way to show your gratitude.
  5. Another tip if you’re home with your mom, then give her the day off: Flip the script and take on the Mom duties! From the moment she wakes up, give her the day to herself to enjoy and relax. Then, take on her usual tasks and tackle any chores she completes throughout the day. She’ll be moved by your thoughtful gesture and feel cherished on her special day, but most of all, she’ll enjoy a leisurely day off!

Thank you, moms, for all that you do! And to all of our friends and families in the communities we serve, we wish you and yours a Happy Mother’s Day!

10 DIY Outdoor Projects to Spruce up Your Curb Appeal

People often make the mistake of thinking that creating an inviting outdoor environment is always extremely expensive and a lot of work. Even the littlest things can make the outside of your home more inviting. Here are some ideas to make your outdoor area a retreat.

  1. Create posts to hold hanging flowers or lamps.

This simple addition can be done many ways, but it can make a great difference. Good lighting and small decorative touches can instantly transform your outdoor area into a unique & inviting living space.

Pinterest: DIY Patio Area with Texas Lamp Posts

  1. Add a fire pit and bench to your outdoor seating area.

Cozying up next to a blazing fire in your own backyard fire pit can make those cool summer and fall nights even better. Skip the portable fire pit and plastic chairs that you have to put back in storage every winter, and trade up to this exceptional bonfire area that everyone is sure to love!

Pinterest: DIY Fire Pit and Benches Project

  1. Add black mulch and/or a stone path to spice up your outdoor curb appeal.

The contrast of this black mulch with some stone and plants really makes the landscaping around your house pop! Your house will surely stand out with this amazing addition.

Pinterest: Black Mulch and Stone Path

  1. Use reclaimed wood to add a walkway from your patio or driveway to your yard.

This is a simple yet inviting thing you can do that is sure to get noticed. Repurposing wood can help keep your costs down and is environmentally friendly, so you can feel good about making this upgrade to your outdoor space!

Pinterest: DIY Pallet Wood Garden Walkway

  1. Add rope lights to your outdoor space.

When it comes to creating a trendy, eye-catching backyard or outdoor area, simply adding unique lighting, such as rope lights, can have a great impact. Line your walkway with rope lights or add them to your deck railings to create a dynamic effect.

Pinterest: 3 Ways to use Rope Light Outdoors

  1. Plant an herb garden.

Doing this has two benefits: not only does it look great, but you also have fresh herbs to make a fantastic meal. Fresh herbs make all the difference when it comes to cooking. You can plant them in small pots and continue growing them inside in the winter, or you can pick the remaining herbs and dry them out.

Pinterest: Growing Herbs in Window Boxes

  1. Turn a Pallet into a flower planter.

Pallets have become a versatile material for many DIYers. If you need to spruce up your curb appeal, consider using them to create planters for your flowers. The pin below is one of our favorite ideas.

Pinterest: Pallet Planter for Butterflies

  1. Make your own outdoor furniture with just some pallets, paint, and cushions.

Outdoor furniture can be pretty pricy. Here is another creative way to use pallets to spruce up your curb appeal. Outdoor couches and sectionals provide a great seating area that is different from your average table and chairs.

Pinterest: DIY Pallet Sofa Ideas and Plans

  1. Create sensational tiki torches out of old wine bottles.

Tiki torches are an extremely popular outdoor staple. Instead of buying the standard torches from the store, kick it up a notch by creating your own. Use glass jars or bottles that reflect your personality to add a little more character to your torches.

Pinterest: DIY Wine Bottle Tiki Torches

  1. Use faux stone to make the exterior of your home more appealing.

Skip the expensive aesthetic projects on the outside of your home. Putting in real stone can be extremely expensive and more than likely cannot be done on your own. This fake stone looks just like the real thing and makes your home’s exterior look ten times better!

Pinterest: Faux Stone Exterior Update

It doesn’t take much to spruce up your curb appeal. Even on a small budget, a little time and ingenuity can transform your outdoor space into a place where you will love to spend your time. Like our suggestions and want more project ideas? Follow us on Pinterest!

14 Ways to Make Your Home Cozy

Do you ever stumble upon a picture of a home that looks cozy and beautifully decorated and think, “I wish my home looked like that”? Good news! Creating an inviting home is simple when you break down each element that ties the look and feel together. Here are 14 ways you can create the warm and inviting home you’ve always wanted.

1. Spruce up your Bedding

Make sure to choose bedding that matches nicely with the room. Spring for more expensive sheets to make the beds cozier!

2. Add Throw Blankets

Find some nice, quality throw blankets that coordinate with your living area and bedroom. A nice throw blanket on the living room couch encourages guests to make themselves right at home. Keeping a throw on your bed can give it a nice decorative touch.

3. Try a Blanket Ladder or Basket

If you can’t decide what throw blanket to display, why not pick out your most stylish ones and find a nice woven basket or blanket ladder to put them on display. This will help to invite your guest to grab a blanket and stay a while!

4. Get yourself a Comfy Couch

Nothing says, “Welcome!” quite like a nice, comfortable couch. The couch is the staple of a living space, so choosing the right one will elevate the room.

5. Accentuate the Fireplace

If your house has a fireplace, highlight it by decorating the mantle area with things like vases, candles or other decorative pieces. Don’t try too hard to follow a set decorative plan for your mantle. Finding pieces that work with your style and coordinate with the room will help give your space some personality! Also, putting one big focal piece, such as a mirror or painting, in the area above the fireplace will help draw the eye and pull the room together

6. Make Room for Fresh Flowers

Fresh flowers make a great addition to the kitchen and/or bathroom! Visit your local grocery store or farmers market and pick out flowers that coordinate with the room you want them in along with a nice vase to put them in.

7. Use the Right Lighting

The right lighting can work wonders. If you’re having a cocktail party, you’ll want to give your room plenty of light. This invites your guests in from the outside and highlights your home’s features on the inside. When you are having a small get-together with close friends, dimmed lighting can create a cozy atmosphere.

8. Use Light Paint Colors

Light, vibrant paint colors can make any room look bright, warm and inviting. Dark colors tend to make rooms look smaller and don’t have a very homey appeal.

9. Create an Outdoor Hangout Spot

Take your living space outdoors! Comfortable chairs and a fire pit are a great addition to your outdoor space for fair weather seasons.

10. Let There be Candlelight

Having plenty of candles around your home gives it a sense of warmth. Put a couple candles in each room and people will feel a sense of comfort no matter where they are in your home. Plus, your home will smell great, too!

11. Hang Unique Mirrors

Placing a cool mirror above a dresser or table can give a room personality and reflect your style. Mirrors also give the illusion that a room is much larger than it really might be due to reflecting light.

12. Get Plenty of Comfortable Pillows

Pillows can be a great accent to a living area. Investing in ones that are comfortable and stylish takes it to a whole new level.

13. Incorporate a Large Area Rug

If your living area has hardwood floors, a large area rug will instantly warm up the space. People sometimes like to make the area rug a focal point and choose their accessories, pillows, and paint color based on the color and/or pattern of the rug.

14. Create Themed Photo Collages

Displaying pictures is a great way to let people know who or what is most important to you and also adds a personal touch to your home. Make a framed collage to add to an empty wall by choosing a bunch of pictures that have a common theme, like a family vacation or special event. You can buy collage frames pre-made or group individual frames together for added style.

These tips are sure to make your home as cozy and inviting as can be! If you’re currently sitting in a rental property dreaming of ways you will make your future home cozy and inviting, contact one of our loan experts today to see just how close you are to achieving that dream of homeownership!

Tips for Selling Your Home in the Days of Social Distancing

Just a month or two ago it was a great time to sell a home. Home prices were generally high, unemployment was the lowest it’s been in 50 years and mortgage rates were at or near historic lows. Then COVID-19 and struck and social distancing become the norm. Can you still sell your home?

Admittedly, today may be a more challenging time to sell a home. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here are some tips on selling your home in the current environment while keeping all parties as safe as possible.

  • Be patient. It may take a bit longer to sell your home with today’s economic uncertainty. Some buyers may be temporarily sidelined if they are worried about their job security. However, it’s important to remember that lots of people are still working – they’re working from home and getting a paycheck. And, there are buyers who were on the fence who now see an opportunity to get a great new house at a very low interest rate.
  • Call off open houses. Instead, have your real estate agent schedule showings one person or couple at a time. Your agent can maintain a safe distance from the prospective buyers, yet still keep an eye on things. Realtors discourage home sellers from being home during a showing even during normal times, so it’s best that you and your family go for a walk or take care of some essential errands.
  • Take full advantage of online and video marketing. Technology has made it possible for prospective buyers to see and appreciate everything your home has to offer long before they set foot inside. Make sure online photos really showcase your home. Ask your agent to create an online video so prospective buyers can get familiar with each room. Your Inlanta mortgage advisor can create a great single property website for your Realtor to show off your home’s best features.
  • Let people know your home is sanitized: It’s understandable that people are wary of entering a stranger’s home in this environment. That means you’ll have to take extra steps to assure prospective buyers – and your real estate agent – that your home is safe. Sanitize your home before it’s shown – and let prospective buyers know you did. Hire a professional cleaning service if you need to. Place hand sanitizers and wipes around your home for visitors’ safety – and your own.
  • Think positive: Remember, mortgage rates are even lower now than before the crisis started, and there’s less competition among buyers. So this is actually a great time to buy. Many prospective homeowners don’t want that opportunity to slip by. Motivated buyers will figure out a way to make it happen!

Remember, if you’re selling your home so you can buy a new one, we can help.  Our mortgage advisors work remotely and are always in touch when borrowers need them – by phone, email, text, chat or whatever channel you prefer. Our underwriters, loan processors and closers also work remotely to make sure your deal gets done. And remember if looking for a new home, it’s important to have a preapproval to strengthen your buying power. Reach out to one of our expert mortgage advisors to learn more.

10 Fun and Quirky Things To Do To While At Home

  1. Complete a puzzle.

  2. Catch up the Netflix shows you’ve been wanting to watch.

  3. Knit or crochet.

  4. Put on a soap opera. Mute the sound. Create your own dialogue.

  5. Have your own wine tasting of whatever bottles you have at home.

  6. Write a book with your family.

  7. Have a Scrabble or Monopoly tournament.

  8. Rearrange your furniture.

  9. Learn a new style of dance via YouTube.

  10.  Make a Google photo album and share with friends and family.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to be the home financing partner that you trust to serve your family, friends, and community. Through our family of dedicated mortgage professionals, our commitment is to deliver an exceptional experience. Our unwavering dedication to integrity, honesty, and ethics is the foundation of all of our relationships.

Inlanta Mortgage, Inc. NMLS #1016.

Tips to Keep Your Kids Busy While Confined at Home

  • Play a board game with them, or teach them a new card game
  • Ask your kids to write a letter to grandparents, aunts, uncles and others who may be confined to their homes
  • Take a trip via your computer to a park, zoo or museum that has virtual tours available
  • Have dinner with extended family virtually – it’s fun for everyone to connect visually via teleconference, Facetime, Google Hangouts, etc.
  • Look in your own yard for signs of spring – look for birds, animals and other wildlife becoming more active with the warmer weather, and use your computer to learn more about each.
  • Bake together! It’s a great way to teach kids about measurements and following direction, plus you get a great treat at the end!
  • Make a fun video of all of you singing, telling a story or dancing to send to your family and friends to help brighten their days.
  • Have them use their imagination to build a castle, a fort or a vacation destination using furniture, pillows or cardboard.
  • Create a virtual play date with their friends so they can socialize virtually even if they can’t see each other in person. They could have lunch together, play a game or connect from their new home forts.
  • Go for a walk or bike ride. Even if you can’t leave home, you can still go outside as long as you remember to stay 6-10’ away from others you may run into.

It’s important to keep your kids engaged in activity, socializing with others outside the home and their minds challenged while confined at home to help keep them healthy and happy. It means you may have to lead them in activity and help them plan out their days to keep them from watching TV or playing video games all day. And best of all, staying home can result in some great quality family time together and give your kids memories that will last a lifetime.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to be the home financing partner that you trust to serve your family, friends, and community. Through our family of dedicated mortgage professionals, our commitment is to deliver an exceptional experience. Our unwavering dedication to integrity, honesty, and ethics is the foundation of all of our relationships.

Inlanta Mortgage, Inc. NMLS #1016.

Tips for Working Remote

As many of us transition to working at home during this health crisis, there’s a few best practices that can help make the transition successful and be productive.

  1. Create a workspace. It’s best to have a dedicated space in your home where you can focus and get things done. If you don’t already have a home office, here’s a few ideas that could work: Use a spare bedroom, formal dining room or living room, or basement. The key is to find a space that you don’t have to share, and will provide you with the quiet space you need. If you can’t find a quiet space, consider using noise-cancelling headphones or working when everyone else is in another room or asleep.
  2. Stick to your schedule. If you had a set schedule in the office, try to stick to it at home. By waking up at the same time you always did, planning a lunch break, and making time to stay in touch with other people, will provide continuity in your routine and make your transition to working at home easier.
  3. Stay professional. As much of our interactions will become virtual using video conferencing or other remote meeting methods, it’s important to be prepared:
    1. Dress appropriately (no PJs or ripped t-shirts or sweatshirts);
    2. Do your best to minimize background noise (or mute yourself when you aren’t speaking and leave your pets and kids in another room);
    3. Be mindful of what is behind you if you’re videoconferencing. Be sure you don’t have sensitive information, potentially offensive materials or photos, or a messy room visible.
  4. Focus on your health. Since you don’t need to commute, take advantage of the extra time to stay healthy! Catch up on sleep, build exercise into your day, or cook healthy meals from scratch.
  5. Don’t forget to connect with colleagues: Working from home can leave you feeling out of the loop and missing the worktime chats with your work friends. Don’t hesitate to call or video chat with your colleagues because it’s likely they’d like to hear from you too.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to be the home financing partner that you trust to serve your family, friends, and community. Through our family of dedicated mortgage professionals, our commitment is to deliver an exceptional experience. Our unwavering dedication to integrity, honesty, and ethics is the foundation of all of our relationships.

Inlanta Mortgage, Inc. NMLS #1016.

Home Maintenance: Springtime

home maintenance

Home maintenance is a sore spot for many homeowners. The amount of effort and money that goes into keeping a home in good condition can leave many homeowners feeling drained and unmotivated. If this is you, remember that owning a house as an investment.  Treating your house well can lead to a higher home value when you are ready to sell, which may result in more money in your pocket to purchase a more expensive home or to use towards renovating a new home. Taking the time to maintain your home now will also help prevent larger and more costly repairs in the future, saving you time, money, and frustration. And of course, if you maintain your home now, you can rest easy at night knowing your family is safe from any potential hazards.

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

While doing your spring cleaning, consider the following tips to get your home back into shape after the winter season.

Indoor:

Clean windows and door screens

Dust light fixtures

Replace Batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Inspect sink, shower, and bath caulking for deterioration

Vacuum lint from dryer vent

Change filter in the air conditioner and dehumidifier

Install screens on windows and doors

Clean kitchen and bathroom cabinets and throw away outdated food, medicine, and cosmetics

Outdoor:

Inspect roofing for missing, loose, or damaged shingles and leaks

Polish wood furniture

Refinish deck

Power wash windows and siding

Remove leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts

Have a professional inspect and pump the septic tank

Touch up peeling or damaged paint

Clean outdoor furniture and air out cushions

Service your lawn mower

Fertilize your lawn

Want these in a PDF form so you can cross off tasks as you go? Download a printable Indoor & Outdoor Checklist here. If you would rather have a checklist for the full year, you may download a printable Full Maintenance Checklist here.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to be the home financing partner that you trust to serve your family, friends, and community. Through our family of dedicated mortgage professionals, our commitment is to deliver an exceptional experience. Our unwavering dedication to integrity, honesty, and ethics is the foundation of all of our relationships.

ABOUT INLANTA MORTGAGE

Headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, Inlanta Mortgage is a growing mortgage banking firm committed to quality mortgage lending, ethical operations and strong customer service.

Inlanta Mortgage offers Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac agency products, as well as a full suite of jumbo and portfolio programs. The company is an agency approved lender for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, FHA/VA, FHA 203K and USDA. Inlanta Mortgage also offers numerous state bond agency programs. Review Inlanta’s mortgage loan programs.

Inlanta Mortgage was recently named a Top Workplace for a third time in 2015. Inlanta has also received the Platinum Million Dollar USDA Lender Award and has been recognized as a Top Mortgage Employer by National Mortgage Professional and a Top 100 Mortgage Banking Company and 100 Best Mortgage Companies to Work For by Mortgage Executive Magazine.

Inlanta Mortgage, Inc. NMLS #1016.

14 Ways to Make Your Home Cozy and Inviting

14 Ways to Make Your Home Cozy and Inviting

Do you ever stumble upon a picture of a home that looks cozy and beautifully decorated and think, “I wish my home looked like that”? Good news! Creating an inviting home is simple when you break down each element that ties the look and feel together. Here are 14 ways you can create the warm and inviting home you’ve always wanted.

1. Spruce up your Bedding

Make sure to choose bedding that matches nicely with the room. Spring for more expensive sheets to make the beds cozier!

2. Add Throw Blankets

Find some nice, quality throw blankets that coordinate with your living area and bedroom. A nice throw blanket on the living room couch encourages guests to make themselves right at home. Keeping a throw on your bed can give it a nice decorative touch.

3. Try a Blanket Ladder or Basket

If you can’t decide what throw blanket to display, why not pick out your most stylish ones and find a nice woven basket or blanket ladder to put them on display. This will help to invite your guest to grab a blanket and stay a while!

4. Get yourself a Comfy Couch

Nothing says, “Welcome!” quite like a nice, comfortable couch. The couch is the staple of a living space, so choosing the right one will elevate the room.

5. Accentuate the Fireplace

If your house has a fireplace, highlight it by decorating the mantle area with things like vases, candles or other decorative pieces. Don’t try too hard to follow a set decorative plan for your mantle. Finding pieces that work with your style and coordinate with the room will help give your space some personality! Also, putting one big focal piece, such as a mirror or painting, in the area above the fireplace will help draw the eye and pull the room together

6. Make Room for Fresh Flowers

Fresh flowers make a great addition to the kitchen and/or bathroom! Visit your local grocery store or farmers market and pick out flowers that coordinate with the room you want them in along with a nice vase to put them in.

7. Use the Right Lighting

The right lighting can work wonders. If you’re having a cocktail party, you’ll want to give your room plenty of light. This invites your guests in from the outside and highlights your home’s features on the inside. When you are having a small get-together with close friends, dimmed lighting can create a cozy atmosphere.

8. Use Light Paint Colors

Light, vibrant paint colors can make any room look bright, warm and inviting. Dark colors tend to make rooms look smaller and don’t have a very homey appeal.

9. Create an Outdoor Hangout Spot

Take your living space outdoors! Comfortable chairs and a fire pit are a great addition to your outdoor space for fair weather seasons.

10. Let There be Candlelight

Having plenty of candles around your home gives it a sense of warmth. Put a couple candles in each room and people will feel a sense of comfort no matter where they are in your home. Plus, your home will smell great, too!

11. Hang Unique Mirrors

Placing a cool mirror above a dresser or table can give a room personality and reflect your style. Mirrors also give the illusion that a room is much larger than it really might be due to reflecting light.

12. Get Plenty of Comfortable Pillows

Pillows can be a great accent to a living area. Investing in ones that are comfortable and stylish takes it to a whole new level.

13. Incorporate a Large Area Rug

If your living area has hardwood floors, a large area rug will instantly warm up the space. People sometimes like to make the area rug a focal point and choose their accessories, pillows, and paint color based on the color and/or pattern of the rug.

14. Create Themed Photo Collages

Displaying pictures is a great way to let people know who or what is most important to you and also adds a personal touch to your home. Make a framed collage to add to an empty wall by choosing a bunch of pictures that have a common theme, like a family vacation or special event. You can buy collage frames pre-made or group individual frames together for added style.

These tips are sure to make your home as cozy and inviting as can be! If you’re currently sitting in a rental property dreaming of ways you will make your future home cozy and inviting, contact one of our loan experts today to see just how close you are to achieving that dream of homeownership!

Helpful Tips to Successfully Utilize your Tax Refund

Helpful Tips to Successfully Utilize your Tax Refund

Tax season is here and if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ve got a generous refund check coming your way. While it may be tempting to treat yourself to a much-needed vacation or shopping spree with the extra money in your pocket, utilizing your tax return to help you get ahead or catch up on your finances may be a better decision for you and wallet.

If you do decide to take a more financially friendly route, we’ve got some tips for you below to help make the best use of your refund.

  1. Pay Down Debt

Our #1 tip for those wanting to utilize their tax refund for financial gain would be to pay down any debt you already have. If you’ve got multiple areas of debt, start with focusing on the debt that is causing you the most financial strain, like credit cards with high-interest rates. Even if you can’t pay your balance in full, making a large payment will feel great and help you make a leap toward a debt-free life.

  1. Build your Savings

If you don’t already have a savings account, now is a great time to begin building one by using your refund money as a solid foundation. If you do already have a savings account (or two) with a specific purpose in mind such as saving to buy a home, a car, or for your dream vacation, using your tax refund to make a substantial contribution toward that goal is always a good idea.

  1. Invest in Homeownership

Are you currently saving up to buy your first home? If so, why not utilize your tax refund to get ahead on your down payment? If you’ve already got your down payment covered, you can always put the money towards closing costs or for furnishing your new place. Already a homeowner? Why not look for ways to increase your home’s value like using the extra cash to complete a home improvement project or upgrade an old appliance.

  1. Create or Add to Your “Rainy Day” Fund

A “rainy day” fund is a reserved amount of money intentionally created and set aside for unplanned emergencies, life events, or disturbances in your regular income. If you do not already have one of these “rainy day” or emergency funds set aside, using your tax refund to create one is a great idea. While it may not be the most exciting place to invest your money, having this designated account set aside as cushion can help save you from financial distress caused by an unexpected life event in the future.

  1. Take the Vacation

Hey, as long as you are not in a state of financial distress, there’s no harm in taking that vacation! With as many travel saving sites as there are out there today, chances are, you’ll be able to find a great deal and enjoy the reward of a well-deserved getaway after a year of hard work.