James Wood | Fort Lauderdale FL Real Estate, Pembroke Pines FL Real Estate, Hollywood FL Real Estate


Applying for a mortgage can be a lengthy and difficult process. Lenders want to know that they are going to get a return on their investment.

To ensure that they’ll see that positive return they will take a number of things into consideration, such as your income, credit score, employment history, and financial capital.

First-time homeowners often struggle when it comes to these prerequisites since they have fewer years of numbers for lenders to consider. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry--you can still purchase a home.

First-time homeowner loans, which are guaranteed by the U.S. government, and a number of private loans enable people to borrow money for a home without paying a huge down payment or having a vast credit history.

One downfall of said loans is private mortgage insurance, or “PMI.”

In this article, we’re going to talk about what private mortgage insurance is, how to avoid it, and how to get rid of it. 

What is PMI?

If you make a down payment on a mortgage that is less than 20% of the loan amount, you will most likely have to pay private mortgage insurance.

PMI exists as a way for lenders to help guarantee they won’t lose money off of your loan. If you make a down payment of 20% or more, then lenders are typically satisfied that they won’t lose money from doing business with you.

PMI is not to be confused with home insurance, which protects you against damage and theft. Rather, it is an additional fee you’ll pay to your lender each month that is added to your mortgage payment.

PMI is calculated based on a few considerations. Lenders will take into account your down payment amount, the value of the mortgage, and your credit score.

In terms of costs, PMI typically costs between .5 and 1% of the total mortgage amount each year.

Avoiding PMI

Naturally, it’s best to avoid paying private mortgage insurance altogether. Private mortgage insurance has no future value for you and your family since it doesn’t count towards building equity and doesn’t protect you from any potential financial harm (your lender is the sole beneficiary of PMI).

Saving for a down payment can take time, and sometimes you’ll need to rent or cut costs while you save. However, if you do take on a loan with PMI, you can still cancel it at a later point.

Canceling your private mortgage insurance

The first thing you should know about canceling PMI is that it usually isn’t easy. You’ll need pay off at least 20% of the home, write a letter to your lender, and wait for an appraisal of the home. Once you’ve done this, you still have to wait while your lender considers your request. In all, this process could take months--months that you’re still required to pay PMI.

Once common way to get out of PMI is to refinance. If the value of your home has increased since the time of you taking on the loan, the new lender likely won’t require PMI. However, you’ll want to make sure that refinancing will get you a lower interest rate and cover the costs of refinancing. 


There are few things more frustrating than finding out that the plants you’ve been tending to all summer have been overrun with insects and aren’t producing any fruit. Perhaps even worse is when you find a trail leading into your pantry where your food has been compromised by a tiny army of ants.

Keeping the pests out of your home and garden is a difficult task made even harder if you want to do it without using harsh chemicals and pesticides. However, there are ways you can effectively keep your food safe. In this article, we’ll show you how.

Protecting your garden from pests

The most important tool you have at your disposal when it comes to protecting your lawn, flowers, and garden from pests is your own vigilance.

In the garden, take note of the condition of your plants’ leaves. Look on the underside of them for small, yellow or brown dots. These are often insect eggs that will soon hatch and result in your plants being devoured before they can produce crops.

As a last-ditch effort to keep the bugs away, you can try spraying your plants with a homemade insecticidal soap spray. These sprays are usually 95% water and then a small amount of  pure castile soap or vinegar. Be sure not to use too much or this can harm your plants or soil.

Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or in the country, there are likely to be some furry creatures who see your garden as a food source. One way to keep many away is by framing the garden with a simple metal wire fence.

If it’s flowers you’re worried about, try planting them in mulch and keeping the leaves dry when possible. This will avoid excess moisture which can cause plant-killing diseases. Using a watering can rather than a hose will help you target the base of the plant and keep the leaves dry.

Keeping the bugs outside

Regardless out whether your home is old or new, you’ll likely someday find yourself with an insect problem. Some are lured in by warmth in the cold seasons, others are seeking a food source.

Let’s begin on the exterior of your home. Check for cracks in your foundation and along doors and windows and seal these cracks up. Next, if there’s a space under your door, install an aluminum door threshold if there is a gap between your door and the floor. While you’re there, make sure the weather stripping on your door is in good condition.

Next, make sure all of the screens in your doors, windows, and other ventilation areas are in good condition. Even the tiniest tear can be enough to let in flies and other insects. 

The final step in keeping the bugs out of your home is to remove what’s luring them there in the first place. Store your food in airtight storage containers within your cabinets. Not only will this keep bugs away, but it can also make organizing food easier, especially things you might not use often, like flour or a large bag of sugar.


Online retailers like eBay, Pop Sugar and Bonanza prove that selling used products pays off. They aren’t alone. Consignment stores and charities also realize the worth in used items. These organizations are doing what homeowners who host yard sales have been doing for years. They are taking furniture, clothes, toys, household accessories and other items and making them available, at a reasonable price, to people who find them valuable. Tips to Make Your Yard Sale a Winner Host a yard sale and you could use the money to pay for a vacation, your children’s school clothes, concert tickets or another expense. To increase the chances that your yard sale will be successful:
  • Pick the right day and time. Yard sales are often held on Saturdays. Be open to holding a yard sale on a weekday to attract college students, parents and self-employed people who work from home. Schedule a rain date in the event that the weather takes a sudden turn.
  • Get enough help. Solicit the help of family and friends. Assign someone to operate the cash register, someone to field customer questions and someone to help carry large items to customers’ vehicles. Ask two other people to roam the area, answering customer questions and providing security so no one walks off with items without paying.
  • Position art pieces, great values and attention grabbers near corners and curbs, to attract visitors. Colorful items, especially items with bright, large print, attract attention which is exactly what you want.
  • Group toys, clothes, furniture and other items together to make it easy for visitors to find what they want. The easier you make it for visitors to pick up what they want, the quicker you may land a sale.
  • Have enough change and consider accepting debit and credit card payments. The last thing that you want is to watch a potential sale walk off because you didn’t have change to handle their purchase. Keep dollar bills, fives, tens and two to three rolls of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies on hand.
  • Promote your yard sale online and offline. Post information about your yard sale at your social media accounts, places like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Tell your colleagues and neighbors that you’re having a yard sale. Be sure to let them know the day and time of the yard sale.
  • Put signs in your yard a few days prior to the yard sale. Add the date and time for the yard sale to each sign. Make sure that the signs are large and printed in bright colors like red and white.
  • Ask visitors to spread the word about your yard sale. When people visit your yard sale, ask them to tell at least one other person about your yard sale. If they bring two or more people with them to your yard sale, consider giving the referrer a discount on an item that they purchase.
  • Offer great deals but make sure that you generate a profit. Research online prices for similar items that you are selling. Try to beat online and offline deals, but make sure that your yard sale is profitable.
By hosting a yard sale, you’ll be cleaning your home. You’ll also create more space for newness. And you’ll offer household items to people who find the items valuable. Host three or more yard sales a year and you may learn additional ways to yield more success from the sales. With experience and the right amount of advertising, you could generate $1,000 or more off of each yard sale that you host.

Want to relocate to a condo? Buying a condo can be an uphill climb, particularly for homebuyers who are browsing the real estate market for the first time. Fortunately, real estate agents are available who will allocate the necessary time and resources to ensure you can find a top-notch condo in no time at all.

Ultimately, hiring the right real estate agent to assist you during your condo search can be easy. Here are three questions that you should ask a real estate agent before you hire him or her to guide you during your condo search:

1. How have you helped condo buyers in the past?

Ask a real estate agent about his or her past experience with condo buyers – you'll be glad you did. With this information at your disposal, you can find out how a real estate professional collaborates with condo buyers to help them achieve their goals.

A real estate agent should be a good communicator, i.e. someone who keeps condo buyers informed at each stage of the condo buying journey. That way, this real estate professional will keep you up to date about new condos as they become available and ensure you can find a great condo at a budget-friendly price.

When in doubt, be sure to ask for client referrals too. By doing so, you can reach out to a real estate agent's past clients to learn about their condo buying experiences.

2. How do you approach difficult situations?

Unfortunately, the condo buying journey sometimes can be filled with roadblocks along the way. For real estate agents, it is important to remain calm, cool and collected in these situations and do everything possible to limit their impact.

Ask a real estate agent to share details about past condo buying experiences that did not necessarily go according to plan. This will provide you with insights into how a real estate agent approaches unforeseen circumstances and whether he or she can thrive under pressure.

A real estate professional with condo buying experience should do whatever it takes to help his or her client get the best results possible. With this real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble securing your dream condo, regardless of the challenges that you encounter along the way.

3. Why should I hire you?

There is no right or wrong answer as to why you should hire a real estate agent to help you find a condo. For many condo buyers, it is a gut feeling. Meanwhile, other property buyers will choose a real estate professional based solely on his or her education and past successes.

As a condo buyer, it is important to employ a real estate agent who you will feel comfortable working with at all times. This real estate professional should be happy to help you in any way possible and respond to your condo buying concerns and queries. In addition, he or she will go the extra mile to ensure you can buy a terrific condo that matches or exceeds your expectations.


Vinyl siding can be a an area of intense debate in construction circles. There are many advantages and disadvantages to buying a home with vinyl siding or in deciding to install it on your home. Here, we’ll break down the pros and cons of the popular siding material and how to decide if it’s right for your home. Over the years, advancement in the makeup of vinyl and advances in the technology itself has made it a more popular choice among home owners and builders. Vinyl was introduced in the 1950’s as a replacement for aluminum siding. Originally, vinyl was notorious for fading, cracking and buckling. Now, the material has been perfected to a new, higher standard. Advantages To Vinyl Siding:
  • Cedar is 2 1/2 times more expensive than than vinyl
  • Vinyl siding never needs to be painted
  • Easy to install
  • The material is versatile
  • The color will outlast paint
  • Water resistant
  • Helps to prevent damage from rain and snow
The biggest advantage of vinyl siding is the fact that it simply needs to be power washed from time to time and painting is not necessary. While power washing is an expense, it’s still less expensive than painting the entire house every five years. In the right conditions, the siding also usually holds its color for a long, long period of time. However, there are always exceptions to these rules. Cons Of Vinyl Siding:
  • There’s no time frame of how long vinyl siding will last
  • The durability of vinyl siding depends upon how the material itself
  • Vinyl siding is often installed over old siding, so existing problems could still remain
  • It’s flammable, so grills and other items could pose a hazard
  • It may be hard to find a replacement piece in a matching color when you need it
  • The siding could increase your home’s chances of developing mold on the outside
  • Susceptible to cracks
  • Seasonal maintenance is required
The cons listed above are mere warnings of the problems that could arise when vinyl siding is installed. There are pretty strict construction codes surrounding the installation of siding to help prevent these problems, yet, you should keep them in mind. The problems that could arise with siding also depend upon the type of material that’s used to make the siding. It’s good to do some investigating before you fully decide on the best material for your home’s exterior So, while vinyl siding isn’t a foolproof choice for a damage-free home, it does have some significant advantages over wood siding and paint. Depending upon the climate you live in and the type of look that you’re going for on your home, the decision is ultimately up to you.



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