When you can’t take a vacation but you really need to get away… what do you do?
There are a lot of ways to decompress on a shorter and less expensive getaway vacation, especially in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

I just posted a new episode of “Real Living TV” that gives some fantastic ideas on some incredible small town getaways that won’t take a month of planning or drain the bank account–Check it out.

Have another awesome getaway spot to add to the list? I would love your feedback!

Good credit is important, we all know that. But how important is it? What real impact does it have on your life? Well, here you go:

#5 – Your job… or lack thereof.

You may not know it but many employers both big and small are now pulling credit before they hire you. Credit is important because it does demonstrate a person’s character. Like it or not, part of your character is how well you fulfill your obligations and pay your debts. There is a possibility that your credit can be the difference between you and your competition for a job. Times are changing.

#4 – Your insurance

badcredit moneyMost insurance companies now use credit score to help determine your premium amount. Most insurance companies also have what they call high risk offerings and credit can often be one of the single most important aspects of whether you are considered high risk or not. Placing you in a high risk, poor credit, insurance situation means you will flat out pay more for your insurance. A lot more in many cases. A standard auto insurance premium might be increased by 25-35% with bad credit customers.

#3 – Renting a home or apartment

Today’s rental market is very competitive and landlords and management companies can now afford to be more picky about who they rent to. Given that a bad credit score is an indication of your general ability or willingness to pay your bills, these companies have a right to choose what they consider to be more responsible, lower risk renters. It seems unfair to those with credit issues, but it makes sense from a risk assessment on the part of a management company. It may be very hard to find an apartment in a decent area if you have poor credit.

#2 – Buying or leasing a car

In terms of leasing, you may be outright rejected for a lease if you have bad credit. It’s very likely that leasing will not even be an option for you at all. In terms of buying a car, many car dealers (used or new) have poor credit lenders that will offer you a loan but at a serious price. Not only will you likely be required to put a hefty amount down but you will likely pay rates as much as 10 times the good credit buyer. There’s a huge difference in payment with a 20% vs. a 2% car loan. It can literally be thousands of dollars more you will spend on the overall cost of the vehicle.

#1 – Buying a home

loan deniedToday’s home lending market is pretty rigid. Since the basic collapse of the housing market and devastating impact of the mortgage lending crisis, banks and underwriters are no longer willing to turn the other cheek when it comes to bad credit. Most of the time, this simply means you will not be able to buy a home. Other times, you may be able to but it will cost you more through a higher interest rate. Even a slightly higher rate can make such a difference in a monthly mortgage payment that it will take the borrower completely out of getting approved because of the impact on the monthly budget.


Take your credit seriously. These are the 5 big ways that credit impacts your life. There are many other small ways that add up to higher living costs and lower self esteem.

What if you could cut major time and interest off of your mortgage? Not only is it possible, it’s not even that difficult to do.

We’re talking cutting 8 to 10 years off of your mortgage! If your mortgage payment is $1000 per month, that’s $12,000 PER YEAR multiplied by the number of years shaved from the life of the debt.

Check out this episode of “Real Living TV” to learn how you can use bi-weekly mortgage payments to start saving big.

img-curb-appealWhether you are planning on selling your home or not, stepping up your home’s curb appeal goes a long way to getting some positive attention for your home. Potential buyers, neighbors and you will love your home with a few of these easy and inexpensive steps.

Add some coordinated pops of color:
Most homes in the modern era lack character in their basic color schemes. If you home has essentially a two neutral color design, find a way to add some bold pops of color and then just make sure the pops of color work well together. This might mean you add planters painted a bold yellow or red or maybe even painting your front door a bold color that makes your entrance stand out. There are lots of ways to add color without digging in to new siding or trim.

Go Postal:
The mailbox is an often missed opportunity to add some class to a function and very visible element of your home. mailbox designBy upgrading the style of your mailbox and mounting stand, as well as the landscaping around it, you can really send a message of quality and style. Make sure the mailbox design matches the style of your home. A great place to get ideas for this is on Pinterest. Your postal worker will love it and so will your real estate agent.

Show a touch of Patriotism:
Adding an American Flag to your front lawn or porch area of your home evokes good feelings for many people and can immediately create a bond with any potential buyers. No matter your political affiliation, a flag can add that pop of color and be an inviting element to your home. Add a little iced tea and you’ll tap into some real feelings of Americana all visitors, buyers or guests.

Light the way:
Sidewalks and walking paths are almost always better with a little dim light to set the mood for a summer night of Landscape-Outdoor-Garden-Lightingrelaxation. With landscaping, you have to be a little careful. Some potential buyers are overwhelmed by too many bedding areas and too much outdoor plant maintenance. Keeping your garden areas clean and focused is best but adding some light to make them beautiful during the day or night can really set your home apart from others. They also look nice during the daytime hours so some low voltage lighting is a quick and easy upgrade for your curb appeal.

Clean and simple:
When people see a home that is clean and simple but adds some nice design touches such as we’ve discussed, they are immediately impressed by pride of ownership and it sets a real tone for their visit. Too much clutter (yes, even outside) can really make a rough first impression. Don’t force people to have to be creative on how they will use outdoor spaces, give them a little vision without overwhelming their senses. Keeping things tidy and trimmed is a great message to send and will do a lot to making your home more attractive to all who pass by. The good news is that, this one doesn’t have to cost much money at all. A little sweat labor and you’re golden.
These are some good, cheap ways to elevate your homes appeal this summer.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home this summer, don’t make a move without reaching out to me by using the contact page on this site.

Mother’s day is fast approaching and the traditional Mother’s Day brunch is bigger than ever.

If you and your family hope to treat your Mom to a great brunch this year, than you should check out the latest episode of “RealLivingTV”.  I just posted it and it’s packed with great brunch spots throughout the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin.  Don’t forget to make reservations as most of these brunch spots will fill up fast.

I hope this helps and I would love your feedback.

Some pretty big changes are coming, most notably the going away of the HUD1 settlement statement and the Good Faith Estimate as we traditionally know them.

It remains to be seen how valuable these changes will be to consumers.  Watch this video more more good detail:

credit reporting changesThis article posted earlier this week in the New York Times outlines some pretty big changes coming to the three major credit agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

If you have ever had an error or tried to fix something on your credit report, you know how difficult and arduous the process can be and there seems to be no guarantee that real problems will get resolved.

Obviously, in real estate and real estate lending, we are quite intertwined with credit so these changes are a welcome site so long as they actually get implemented in a successful manor.

The article does a nice job of outlining some of the changes but does end on an interesting note.

In this quote:  “The settlement is a huge victory that will benefit consumers,” said Chi Chi Wu, a lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center. “Of course, making sure that the credit bureaus comply with the agreement will be another task.”

For those of us who know… making the credit bureaus comply with anything can be a strong wish at best…

Here’s a link to the entire article on Coming Credit Reporting Changes and it’s worth the read.


spring real estateWith spring being the busiest time for real estate, homeowners planning to put their homes on the market shouldn’t wait for flowers to bloom before getting ready to sell. Having a few months to prepare can make for a much smoother selling experience.

If you’re a prospective home seller, here are five things you can do now to get ready for a spring sale: …

This article is courtesy of Realtor.com.  See the rest of this article by clicking here

There is a time and place for everything right?

Well it turns out that when it comes to buying goods, there is a good time to buy and a bad time to buy and some items might surprise you. I just posted a short WebTV episode called “RealLivingTV” on my site and it gives you all the best times to buy virtually anything you might be looking for.

Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Here’s a link to the original Lifehacker.com article for more detail on specific items. Click Here


PS: Don’t forget, we’re coming up on homebuying season so if you’re in the market to buy or sell your home, you can reach out using the “Contact” page of this site.

millennials buying homes mnOne key element that sticks out in this article is how Millennials are in need of good educational professionals to guide them through the process and reduce the stress as they tackle home buying for the first time.

It’s an opportunity for lenders and real estate professionals to earn their trust for a lifetime.  Good read.

Click HERE to see the USA Today Article in Full