10 Fall Decorating Ideas

Fall is almost here and you know what that means—cooler air, warmer clothes, fun seasonal activities and fall decorating!

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

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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!

Preparing for Back to School During Pandemic

This year, back to school will look incredibly different with the uncertainties of COVID creating many what-ifs and maybes for the start of 2020 school year. Will your children be going back in-person, with or without masks, virtual or even a hybrid of both?

There’s no question it’s stressful planning for so many unknowns. So, here are a few ways to help you and your family proactively prepare for “back to school” – whatever that may look like this year for your children.

Preparing for Back to School – Remote Learning

  • Create a designated work-space in your home to help your little learners focus. Check out these awesome ideas for inspiration
  • Make sure that all computers and programs are up to date and your Wi-Fi is working properly, providing the speed necessary to accommodate virtual learning
  • Keep all necessary log-in information/assignment lists/etc. somewhere easily accessible
  • Set and communicate a schedule with your children and stick to it. Try to keep school hours as normal as your own schedule allows
  • Reduce distractions, but also remember that just like you, kids need breaks! Figure out a healthy balance
  • Don’t teach – help! Remember that you don’t necessarily need to become the teacher, but the helper with learning, communicating and ensuring assignments are being completed
  • Reach out to your children’s teachers if you have questions about expectations, processes or school work to better assure your kids stay on track
  • Stay positive and flexible. This is a tough time for everyone and having a good attitude for your children is more important than ever

Preparing for Back to School – In Classroom Learning

  • Do daily COVID checks before sending your child to school. If your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above, keep them home
  • Contact the school to discuss safety protocols and who you should check in with if your child has symptoms
  • Talk to the teachers about what safety measures are being taken in the classroom and what the learning will look like during this time
  • Talk to your kids about safety protocols and send them to school prepared. Pack their bag with hand sanitizer, face coverings, their own designated water bottles, etc.
  • Practice daily routines for after school such as washing hands, sanitizing and washing face coverings when they return home
  • Plan transportation ahead of time. Will your child be taking the bus? Carpooling? Or will you be driving them? Take necessary safety measures for your specific situation
  • Plan for the unexpected. Whether that be school closings, reopening, or the possibility of one of your children becoming infected, make a plan as to how you and your family will respond

Preparing for Back to School – A Hybrid Model

  • Use the tips above for both remote and in classroom learning to assist you in planning for in-person versus remote learning days

Finally, be patient and flexible.

As schools continue to create safe and effective learning environments during the pandemic, things may change in their teaching delivery models. It’s key to be ready for both because things may change quickly based on local situations. Most importantly, focus on your own children to ensure their experience is as calm, safe and effective as can be. For more on planning for in-school learning, click here for a full checklist from the CDC

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!

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.

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!

Buying a Home Despite Student Debt

Whether you’ve just graduated or have been making those pesky monthly payments for a while, student loan debt can be heavy, burdensome and downright defeating.

The weight of Student loan debt doesn’t have to affect other areas of life – such as buying a home. If you’ve been dreaming about homeownership, but aren’t sure exactly how you can obtain such dream while having student loan debt, we’ve got some tips for you:

1. Talk to your Local Mortgage Pro for Advice

First and foremost, talk to a local mortgage pro as early as possible, whether you’re looking to buy a house this year or a few years down the road, to learn more about where your finances need to be to buy a home. Your mortgage pro will be able to tell about the different loan programs available, and what down payment assistance and other first-time homebuying programs may be available to help you achieve the dream of homeownership sooner, and more easily.

2. Don’t Neglect your Payments

There’s one simple rule you must follow: make your student loan payments on time, every time. Missing a payment or even making a payment late could hinder your credit score, which is a key factor in evaluating your home-buying readiness. As difficult as it can be to make those payments, it is important to understand the negative impact it can have on your financial future. Setting up monthly auto payments is a great way prevent any potential issues.

3. Focus on Building Good Credit

Having a good credit score is essential when applying for a mortgage. It provides your lender with a form of proof that you are a responsible borrower and good candidate to repay the loan. Work to build that good credit by staying below your credit card limits, making payments on time and swiping responsibly. Check out a few more tips on building and maintaining healthy credit.

4. Evaluate your DTI

DTI (Debt to Income) ratio is another important factor in determining your readiness to buy a home. Your lender will review your finances to determine your DTI by evaluating see how much debt you have vs. how much pretax income you are bringing in. Talk to your lender about your DTI to determine where you need to be to buy a home. Check out our step-by-step guide to reduce debt to get started.

Bottom Line:

If you’ve got student loan debt, you’re not alone. According to the Student Loan Hero website, about 45 million Americans currently owe more than $1.56 trillion in student loan debt. While it’s a burden to many, it doesn’t have to prevent you from achieving your dream of homeownership. Start working early with an Inlanta mortgage advisor you help determine your financial path to make it happen.

To learn more about the mortgage process or to find a mortgage advisor in your area, contact us today. Discover how we’ve already worked with borrowers like you to evaluate their unique financial situations and how we helped make their dreams of homeownership come true.