10 Ways to Protect Your Home While on Vacation

 

10 Ways to Protect Your Home while on Vacation

From booking travel arrangements to packing, a lot of preparation goes into planning a vacation. One thing many overlook though in the midst of pre-vacay chaos, is preparing their home for what may happen after they leave.

When you go out of town, especially for an extended period of time, ensuring your home is safe from possible intruders or other incidents should be a priority. Aside from checking that all of your doors and windows are locked, there are many other precautions you can take to protect your home.

Here are some tips to help keep your home safe while you’re away.

1. Give friends spare keys

Give a set of keys to a trusted friend or relative in case of emergency. If you have any spare keys outside under a flower pot, door mat, or other hiding spot, move them inside while you’re away.

2. Don’t advertise your vacation on social media

When you advertise your vacation on social media, your home becomes a target. You may think there is no need to worry since you are just sharing the information with friends. However, your friends are not the only ones that can see your posts online. Posts can reach friends of friends or even complete strangers if you do not have the proper privacy settings. These people may not be so trustworthy. Save the sharing until you are back from vacation.

3. Set lamps on timers to avoid looking vacant

A home that is noticeably dark for multiple days is a clue that you and/or your family are on vacation. Give the illusion that someone is home by putting lamps on programmable timers.

4. Have a friend Do a Safety check on your house

Have the same friend or family member you lent your spare key to check on your home while you’re away. Ask them to be on the lookout for any signs of a break in or home/property damage. Have them care for any pets that are still in the home and request that they bring in the mail if you do not suspend your mail service. This will help give the appearance that you are home.

5. Adjust The Thermostat

Setting your thermostat at a lower temperature during the winter, or a higher temperature during the summer can significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs while you are away. You can even use this trick while you are at work every day to save money on your monthly energy bill!

6. Advertise home security with signs

If you have a security system, post signs outside to signify your home is protected. Burglars are less likely to approach a home if they know there is a risk of setting off an alarm.

7. Stow valuables in a safe place

Hide valuable items in a safe place, bring them with you or consider getting a safe deposit box at your bank to store your important items while you’re gone.

8. Unplug and switch off electronics

Reduce the chances of an electrical fire by turning off and unplugging non-essential electronics. Many electronics will still use energy even if they are turned off. Therefore, you will also save money on energy costs by unplugging your electronics.

9. Cover garage windows

If you have windows in your garage, invest in some curtains to cover them. If someone can clearly see there is a missing car or two from the garage, it could increase the chances of a break-in.

10. Park an extra car in your driveway

Parking an extra car in your driveway lets people know that someone is home. Whether they think it is just a visitor or the resident’s car, if there is one parked out in the driveway, it can be a red flag for a burglar.

 

You should spend your vacation relaxing and enjoying time with your family, not stressing out about your home security. Give yourself peace of mind while you’re away by taking these precautions before you leave. 

If you have any additional questions regarding your home or if it’s been a while since your last mortgage checkup, contact us today.

 

Stay at Home Safety Tips

Coping with COVID-19 has been hard on all of us. The worry, the fear and the wonder of when normal life will resume can feel both consuming and exhausting.  

With all of us spending the majority of our time at home in quarantine, it’s important to make sure your space provides a safe haven for you and your family.

These essential tips will help you stay safe at home and hopefully bring you some peace of mind during this uncertain time.

1. Be Cautious

Take every day preventative steps to ensure you are staying safe and keeping your home clean by:

  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Covering your cough or sneeze
  • Wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing when you go out in public
  • Cleaning countertops, door handles and other areas of your home frequently

Ensure your home is safe for you and your family by:

  • Keeping all safety hazards such as cleaning supplies and medication out of reach of children
  • Testing your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Creating a fire escape plan
  • Anchoring furniture to prevent dangerous accidents
  • Covering outlets, adding child locks and setting up safety gates around the home

2. Have a Plan

Take a moment to discuss a plan of action in case someone in your home becomes sick. Consider the following to ensure safety:

  • Watch for the following symptoms
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
  • Designate a room in your home to keep the ill person away from others
  • Continue to wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces and other areas in your home
  • Avoid sharing personal items
  • Check in on your family members to see how they are feeling physically and mentally
  • Stay informed of your local outbreak situation and get up to date info from your public health officials

3. Love your Home

We’re staying at home now more than ever before. This makes it a great time to put some extra love into your space to make it feel clean and cozy. Try the following to put some extra love into your home:

4. Go Outside

It’s important for your physical and mental health to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. We recommend:

  • Going for walks/hiking
  • Gardening/yard work
  • Getting some exercise – try going for a bike ride, run, or completing an outdoor workout
  • Playing yard games
  • Eating your meals or having a drink outdoors
  • Getting creative with sidewalk chalk
  • Camping in the back yard

We are Here for You

With all of us practicing social distancing, and many of us experiencing the state-mandated shut-down of many businesses, we want to assure you that Inlanta Mortgage has remained fully operational and working on your loans.

If you have any questions about your current loan, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your loan advisor directly.  

If you’re interested in a new loan to refinance or purchase a new home, or have any other mortgage questions, please contact us to find a loan advisor near you.

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!

Four Ways to Help you get Out of Debt in 2020

Four Ways to Help you get Out of Debt in 2020

Dealing with debt can be overwhelming and straining on your finances. If it is your goal to be debt free in 2020, take a look at our top tips.

  1. Set a Firm Budget 

    First and foremost, evaluate your income, debt and expenses, then set a firm budget using those numbers. This is a great way to figure out exactly how you’re currently spending your money, and where you are being frivolous, to help know where to make adjustments. If your income doesn’t cover your expenses, it may be time to consider asking for a raise at work, taking on a second job, or adjusting your lifestyle to live below your means and focus on paying off debt.

  2. Use the “Debt Snowball” Method 

    If you haven’t heard of this debt reduction strategy, the debt snowball method presented by money management expert Dave Ramsey provides a plan to pay off debts in order of smallest to largest, then as debts are paid, rolling that money into the next smallest balance. Here’s Ramsey’s process:

  • Step 1: List your debts from smallest to largest.
  • Step 2: Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest.
  • Step 3: Pay as much as possible on your smallest debt.
  • Step 4: Repeat until each debt is paid in full.
  1. Streamline & Simplify

    Create an “automated budget” by setting up auto-payments for each paycheck to cover your bills and add to your savings account. This helps avoid spending income on non-essentials because you’ve spent the money before it even gets into your “spending” account. You can also simplify your lifestyle by cutting out unnecessary spending and putting daily practices into place, like making your coffee at home or packing your lunch for work. While this step can be one the hardest of all – we all love our Starbucks — remember that this is only temporary but is necessary to help give you financial freedom to do even more in the future.

  2. Consider a Refi

    If you’re a homeowner, there’s a chance you’re paying a higher interest rate than today’s rates. By refinancing to lower your interest rate, you can save money on your monthly mortgage payments that frees up cash to help pay down debt. Or, depending on how much equity you have, you could even do a cash-out refinance to pay off credit card debt, car loans, personal loans, school loans, etc.

To learn how the right mortgage can help you reduce debt, click here to contact your local Inlanta officer today!

5 Ways to Love Your Home

5 Ways to Love Your Home

Whether you’ve just bought a new home or you’ve been in your space for many years, loving where you live is important. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 5 ways you can put some love into your home to make it a place you’re proud of.

Make it Personal.

Display photos of your favorite memories with loved ones or try painting an accent wall in your favorite color and using that color in your accessories. Create an art gallery to display your kids’ artwork in a creative fashion. Showcase your Star Wars lightsaber collection (or any of your other favorite collectibles). Whatever makes you, you, give it its own special place in your home where you will see it regularly. Adding a personal touch goes a long way in making your home feel like your own.

Add Natural Beauty.

Buy a plant or flowers to add a touch of nature to your home.  Many living plants are air purifiers, bringing an actual breath of fresh air into your home. Don’t have a green thumb? These plants are low maintenance and air purifying (win-win)! Plants and flowers also boost your mood when you see them, which can be especially helpful during the cold and dreary winter months and you’re dreaming about spring & summer. 

Create a Zen Area.

Create an area in your home that is dedicated to peace and relaxation. Whether it’s a special reading nook for you to cozy up with your favorite book in or a space dedicated to meditation, prayer or yoga, find a place in your home (or your garden) where you can retreat when you need time to re-connect with yourself and re-focus your mind.

Clean, De-clutter and Organize.

Seeing a mess can stress you out, so keeping your home clean, organized, and de-cluttered is key to enjoying your home more. Before you purchase any new items, find 10 items and either donate (if they’re in good condition) or throw them away (if they’re broken). Purchase some inexpensive storage containers at the Dollar Store or your local thrift shop. You can even turn cleaning and de-cluttering into a game: set a timer for 10 minutes and see how much you can de-clutter and organize before the timer runs out.

Have an Attitude of Gratitude.

It can be easy to focus on all of the areas that your home lacks – maybe it’s a fixer-upper and you haven’t been able to make those improvements yet (if you need financing, we can help). Taking time to remember the reasons you said “yes” to this home in the first place can help you realize that there is plenty to be grateful for (like the fact that you own a house! Many people haven’t achieved that dream yet). Practice gratitude and give thanks for all that your house has been able to provide you. When you count your blessings instead of your shortcomings, you instantly feel happier and more satisfied.

If you’re looking for a new home to LOVE, contact your local Inlanta Mortgage loan adviser today!

Top Tips to Build and Maintain Healthy Credit

Building and maintaining healthy credit is important. A good credit score can help you achieve some of your biggest financial dreams, like owning a home or even starting your own business.

If you’re like most people, your credit score isn’t perfect – and that’s ok! There are plenty of steps you can take to begin building and maintaining solid credit.

Here are our top tips to help you build and maintain a healthy credit score:

  1. Swipe Responsibly – A good rule of thumb for building solid credit is to only borrow what you can afford to pay back. This means, only using your credit card if you have enough available in your bank account to pay the balance off in full right away. It is also good practice to leave your credit card at home if you’re heading out shopping or somewhere you will be tempted to spend.
  2. Stay Below Your Limit – Experts recommend keeping your credit spending at about 30% of your maximum balance. Avoid maxing out your credit cards to keep you in a good place financially and out of debt.
  3. Start Small – If you are just starting to build your credit, do your research and begin with opening only one card. The last thing you will want to do is open a number of new cards, creating additional debt to keep track of.
  4. Never Miss a Payment – Missed credit card payments not only leave you behind in debt but also show lenders that you have a track record of being financially irresponsible. This can negatively affect your future when it comes to, for example, wanting to purchase a home as you are more likely to be approved if you have a healthy credit history and a higher credit score.
  5. Pay More than the Minimum – If you’ve had a credit card for some time now, it is likely you also have built a balance on that card. This is not necessarily a bad thing for building credit, as long as you are consistently making payments on-time every month. If you are unable to pay off your balance in full, you’ll want to make sure you are paying more than the minimum payment due in order to pay off your balance as quickly as possible to help improve your credit score and avoid pesky interest payments.
  6. Build a History – If you’ve just opened a new card, plan to keep it long-term to help you display a solid history of creditworthiness. Lenders appreciate at least a few years of experience in maintaining timely payments and the longer you keep your card, the more likely your credit score will increase.
  7. Review Your History Regularly – Take some time to review what you are spending money on. If you find yourself swiping your card every time you grab a latte in the morning, you likely aren’t using your credit wisely. Try designating your credit card for emergencies or basic needs such as groceries and gas to help promote good spending habits. Also, keep an eye out for any types of fraudulent purchases; if you notice anything strange, notify your credit card company immediately to save yourself from financial distress.

10 Fall Decorating Ideas

Fall is here and you know what that means—cooler air, warmer clothes, fun seasonal activities and a change in scenery. For many, changes in scenery are not only reflected outdoors but inside the home as well.

Fall decorations are all about warmth. Incorporating warm colors such as reds and oranges along with warm aromas such as pumpkin, apple, orange and cinnamon make for a cozy home during the autumn season. 

Here are some of our top decor ideas to help make your home feel like the perfect fall getaway!

Gourd and Pine Cone-Filled Lanterns

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This easy porch decor idea will surely help make the outside of your home reflect the warm nature of fall. via hometalk

White Pumpkins with Fun Messages

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Don’t feel like carving pumpkins this year? Try writing out messages onto pumpkins with paint pens to create an inviting feel anywhere in your home. via The Perfect Palette

Vases with Candles and Fall Foliage

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Candles are a great way to make any space instantly feel warm and inviting. Incorporate a fall foliage mix in a big vase with a fall-scented candle to be used virtually anywhere in your home. Try placing one as a kitchen or dining centerpiece or use to spice up an empty side table! via listsy.co

Unique White Pumpkin Fall Basket

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This beautifully unique fall piece is a great way to incorporate a different color scheme to your fall decor. It would be perfect for a coffee table, side table or fireplace mantle. via Whipper Berry

Mason Jar Candle Centerpiece with Table Runner

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This simple yet warm centerpiece is an easy DIY project that won’t break your wallet. Click the link to find out how to make it! via Addicted 2 DIY

Simple Rustic Lantern Centerpiece

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This simple autumn centerpiece is easy to put together and perfect for any occasion! via Serendipity Refined

Fall Foliage and Candle Centerpiece

de6adaab0d96a6cf85faf2894d3c07a5This elaborate autumn centerpiece is perfect for Thanksgiving or any other special get-together you may be having this season! via Babble

Simple White Pumpkin Mantle Decor

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This arrangement is a simple way to spruce up your mantle for the fall season. It is festive but not too elaborate! via Dear Lillie the Blog

Comforting Fall Aromas

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Give your home the perfect fall aroma with these 8 scent hacks! via Chasing Foxes

Autumn Wreathscapture-2

Of course, we can’t forget about autumn wreaths! This popular decoration piece has many different variations. From elaborate creations to simple elegance, these pieces are not only easy to find in stores, but they are easy and fun to make as well! via Laura Trevey

Bonus Tip:

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Since pumpkins are a staple in fall decorating, here are instructions on how to preserve pumpkins and other decorative gourds. via 365ish Days of Pinterest

Click here to check out our Pinterest page for other fun fall decorating ideas and more!

Fall is a great time of year to purchase or refinance your home! If you’d like to take advantage of low rates this season, contact your local Inlanta Mortgage loan advisor today!

Looking for an Investment Property? Consider Shopping in your College Town

With the days of summer soon ending, it means “back to school” for millions across the country.

For college students, this means packing up to move into campus housing, which is often expensive and not necessarily homey. It also means investing dollars into housing that’s not tax-deductible, nor does it generate any equity.

For parents with college-bound students, or even investors looking for their next property, this presents a big opportunity to purchase rental property off-campus.

Buying a property near their school could a great investment when you consider:

  • If you have a student of your own, the cost of owning a rental could be cheaper than paying for a dorm or an apartment – especially if they share it with roommates who will pay you rent that you can put towards the mortgage
  • If you co-sign on a loan for your student on a rental property, you can help them build solid credit at an early age
  • By choosing a property located near a college or university, you’ll have a strong pool of renters who are looking for housing in that area even after your own student moves out
  • You could benefit financially with future value appreciation and accrued equity


For parents and investors alike, this opportunity presents the chance to diversify their portfolio as well as offers a large potential tenant pool in an area that is consistently in high demand.

If you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity, contact your local Inlanta Mortgage loan advisor today.

On behalf of Inlanta Mortgage, we want to wish all students a bright and successful school year ahead!

Your Handy Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Believe it or not, we’re already half way through the dog days of summer.

With fall right around the corner, you’ve likely checked off most things on your summer bucket list by now but how about your summer home maintenance checklist?

If you’ve been busy having too much summer fun for summer cleaning and organizing – never fear. Inlanta is here to provide you with your go-to summer home maintenance checklist.

Follow the list below to get your home clean and in order!

  • Inspect your air conditioner
  • Check and replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Deep clean your grill
  • Spruce up your outdoor space
  • Add a layer of mulch to boost curb appeal, keep weeds at bay, and retain water for your plants
  • Pressure wash the outside of your home
  • Update/refresh your home décor
  • Wash your windows
  • Clean out the garage
  • Declutter your space and donate unwanted items
  • Harvest and prepare your garden for fall
  • Clean and store your summer gear

We hope you enjoy these last few weeks of summer!