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Rocking Mammy to Sleep

August 26, 2015 So this is just for fun. A piece about rocking chairs. Really, just for fun. I became curious about rocking chairs quite a few months ago when I was rocking my son to sleep. Then I fell asleep. Since it’s August, I’m even more enamored with the things. They are a stationary staple of the vision I have of American summer. The thing that endears me most about the rocking chair—even more than its mystical place with mother and child—is the American porch. Rocking chairs are on relaxed porches across America in all types of settings—lake houses, tract houses, small houses on big acreage, farm houses, even the front porch of my aunt’s condominium. A couple rocking chairs flanking a screen door on a wood-decked porch, and bam, you have an image of an American home. I picture relaxing to the rocking rhythm on that porch with a cold drink in my hand, maybe even at sundown when the relentless summer sun finally breaks and all is calm and still. The symbol of th…

Debt-to-Income Ratios Explained

During the process of acquiring a home loan, the phrase “debt-to-income ratio” is thrown around a lot. It’s a very important equation that allows the lender to determine whether or not a borrower can feasibly afford to repay a loan. Debt is a part of life. Most of us have it, and not all debt is bad debt. A mortgage is a debt obligation and often propels peoples’ financial futures. Car loans, while they don’t necessarily help our financial picture, are often essential in our lives. The same goes for student loans and any other monies owed. When a mortgage lender pulls a client’s credit report, he or she is able to see the bigger picture of debts owed. The loan officer adds up each and every monthly debt obligation, including any child support and monthly/minimum credit card payments. (As a side note, if you use a credit card regularly to pay for everyday items such as groceries and gas and subsequently pay that credit card off in full each month, the minimum monthly amoun…

Underwriter's Role in Purchase of a Home

Every loan has a story, and it’s the underwriter’s job to verify that story for the money source. The underwriter is a silent participator in the loan process who must give her final approval for the buyer to qualify for a home loan. The underwriter, however, is by no means really silent, and while most buyers never speak to the underwriter working on their loan, the underwriter is indeed one of the most significant players in the overall journey of acquiring a home mortgage. When future homeowners first set out to qualify for a home loan, they speak to a mortgage lender, or loan officer, who reviews important information about them, such as their income, assets, debt, and overall credit picture. If the loan officer feels that the buyers are indeed strong candidates for a particular type of mortgage, he or she will issue what’s called a pre-qualification for a home loan, often referred to as a “pre-qual.” A pre-qual is just what it sounds like—a preliminary qualification. This pr…

What's the Appraisal Got to Do With It Anyways?

The appraisal is a critical component in the overall sale of a home, and many people overlook just how significant this piece of the puzzle really is. An appraisal is an informed opinion of a home’s value. This opinion, albeit an expert’s perspective, is subjective, but it is treated as the accurate and credible value of a property. In other words, when an appraiser puts a value on a home, it sticks, and is generally accepted as the actual value of a home. It is important to recognize that while buyers may be willing to pay one price for a home, if the buyers are getting a loan on the home and it doesn’t appraise, then the buyers may or may not be obligated to pay that initial agreed-upon amount. The appraisal contingency is an important layer of protection in the residential purchase contract. Not only does it protect buyers from overpaying for a property, it prevents lenders from betting on a property that may or may not be worth the contract price. It also protects housing market…

It's About the Process

One of my best friends once told me that she is a great cook with a great recipe. A recipe-follower, I am not. Cooking was always a creative end to my day—a way to unwind with some colorful ingredients and a glass of wine. With a now-three-year-old, cooking has become an act of togetherness. My Wyatt loves to cook. He loves to measure, dump, stir, and flip, and like his mother, would prefer to just wing it and let the creativity stir up a concoction that someone may or may not want to eat on the other end. Other than telling my husband to spread “about 3 tablespoons” of olive oil in a pan only to be asked how much a tablespoon is, I’ve never really precisely measured my ingredients. But you can’t tell a three-year-old to just splash some vanilla in the bowl unless you really like vanilla. I learned in my mother’s kitchen, and now I have a little one to pass those skills to. Over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that in order to pass down the kitchen lessons that I acquired…

Remodeling Project

CALIFORNIA BEACH BUNGALOW In July of 2013, I completely gutted and remodeled a beach house in Huntington Beach, California.  I'd been searching for the right property for over six months, and when my husband and I had the opportunity to purchase this one, we pounced.  This 1960s bungalow was sound structurally, but everything was grandma original.  The real challenge came in getting the property to rent for top dollar on a budget.  Someday, my husband and I plan to live on the property, and when that time comes, I will want to do a complete rebuild with new finishes.  So I couldn't exactly create my dream kitchen.  Here's a peek at my fiscally responsible kitchen.  I salvaged the maple cabinets and chose an inexpensive granite to up the appeal.   
The granite was the cheapest I could find (only $100 per slab uninstalled), so I hunted for a backsplash that complemented the granite for the better.  The backsplash had hints of green, so I went with a modern green floor tile t…

Our Things Have Meaning

Design is not about perfection.  It's about meaning.