Looking for thoughtful, unique gifts for you loved ones this Valentine’s Day? Say goodbye to boring, cliché boxes of chocolate and teddy bears. Here are some ideas for easy and fun things to make that your valentine will actually be happy to receive.

Date Night Jar

Get a bunch of popsicle sticks and write ideas for easy, fun things you can do throughout the year with your partner. Then, store all the popsicle sticks with your date ideas in a jar that you decorate however you like! This is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Jar Full of Reasons Why You Love Them

Another gift you can easily make is a jar with notes listing reasons you love your partner. Just write all your reasons down on different pieces of paper, roll or fold them up, and place them in a jar. Extra credit: Tie little ribbons around the rolled-up notes to turn them into fancy scrolls. Then, decorate the jar. This gift is a fun reminder of your love that your special someone can always look back on.

A Handwritten Frosting Note
This idea is the best of sweet treats and love letters in one! Bake a big cookie, cake, or whichever dessert you like as long as you can decorate it with icing. Then, write a love letter on it with frosting. Now, your sweetie can enjoy two gifts in one – a beautiful profession of your love and a delicious treat!

Heart Shaped Tea Bag

Make your valentine a cup of tea and add a little touch of romance by attaching a heart-shaped piece of construction paper to the end of the tea bag. Bonus points: Write little love notes on each heart.

Conversation Starters
Write down several conversation starters to keep in a jar or a box. Break them out on date nights to entice interesting conversations. Some examples to consider: “What is your favorite memory?”; “What is your favorite thing about me?”; “Describe your dream date.”

Chalkboard Love Mugs

Get some chalkboard paint and paint hearts onto a mug. You can paint one big one and write a love note on it. Or, try painting small hearts all around the mug and write things like “you’re cute,” “be mine,” and “kiss me” on them. You can even get creative and write inside jokes on them.

Sticky Note Love Letter Surprise

Write thoughtful notes on sticky notes and stick them in the shape of a heart on the bathroom mirror or somewhere your special someone will end up seeing. We recommend setting them up in the bathroom before your valentine wakes up so that they’ll see the sweet surprise first thing when they get up in the morning. This gift is extremely easy to make as it only requires sticky notes and a marker, but it shows a lot of thoughtfulness your loved one will appreciate.

Heart Shaped Breakfast in Bed

You don’t always have to overthink Valentine’s Day gifts because everyone loves breakfast in bed. Just make your valentine a yummy breakfast and include sweet little touches like heart shaped eggs, flowers, and a love note.

Handmade Perfume or Body Spray

Easily make a perfume or body spray by combining witch hazel and your own selection of essential oils in a bottle. Make sure to choose essential oils that both you and your sweetie will love. Tie some ribbon around the bottle or write a heartfelt label. The beauty about this idea is that, since you’ll be smelling it when they wear it, it’s a gift that both of you will love!

Monthly Date Envelopes

We saved the best for last! Get 12 envelopes, one for each month, and fill each one with a date idea. Include tickets to shows or gift cards to restaurants and places you’d like to go on dates to. Now, for the next year, you’ll have a date lined up for each month!


In 2020, interior design will be unique, sustainable, bold, and handmade. Get ready to see some fresh colors, daring shapes and patterns, and unique items.

But how can you start incorporating these exciting trends into your home? Sometimes it can be overwhelming to tackle interior design, so we’ll also give you some easy, small steps for integrating these trends in your home.

1. Sustainability & Biophilia

When it comes to materials used in furnishings and fixtures, there is increasing demand for sustainability. People are becoming more ecologically conscious, looking to use ethical and ecofriendly pieces in their homes.

Then there’s biophilia, which is a trend that meshes human design and nature. It’s about including nature in interior design in order to connect with the earth and natural life. It’s great for feeling calm, and it also adds a unique aesthetic to your home. In 2020, we’ll be seeing lots of earthy, natural touches to interior design, such as plants and natural materials like wood.

Slowly begin adding touches of greenery and sustainability by getting a plant or two, adding a wooden lamp, or getting a rug made from sustainably sourced materials. Taking it one thing at a time will help you get started.

2. Patterns & Bold Colors

Fun patterns and bold colors are all the rage in 2020. Backsplashes are going to be colorful and incorporate interesting patterns. Fun new colors are going to pop up in unexpected places – like ceilings! Expect pattern mixing, layered patterns, and pattern matching – using floral patterns in particular. You’ll find patterns on walls, backsplashes, furniture, and more.

You don’t have to completely switch over your living room to have matching patterned walls and furniture. Try picking up a patterned throw or some patterned curtains to include this fun trend in your home.

3. Handmade Goods
People are becoming less interested in mass-made things as they begin to value unique, handmade items that come with a story. More and more, people are valuing a connection with the maker of the item.

Visit Etsy or your local craft fair and pick up some handmade goods that speak to you. Take some time to learn about the maker and the story behind the item, and you’ll appreciate its presence in your home that much more.

4. Maximalism

Remember when everyone was talking about minimalism? Now, maximalism is in. While minimalism was all about making things simple, maximalism is about making the most out of things. Everything is big and bold but be careful not to overdo it as there’s a line between this trend and clutter.

Take part in this trend by creating a gallery wall of colorful paintings or buying an extravagant piece of furniture or décor that really makes a statement. You don’t need to go overboard; Just add something bold and flashy to the mix.

5. Uniqueness

From rugs to the use of unusual materials in furniture, unique items will become more common in 2020. In the new decade, everyone is ready to see some fresh new styles so more people will be welcoming peculiar, interesting furnishings into their homes.

To enjoy this trend in your own home, be on the lookout for one-of-a-kind items or anything that sticks out to you as different. An oddly shaped dresser or chairs made of rope can really add an interesting touch to your home.

6. Personal Style That Lasts
What’s off-trend is in with more people looking to incorporate design elements that really speak to them. People are thinking more long-term about their interior design choices, buying furniture that embodies their personal style and will last. For environmental reasons as well as financial reasons, more people are looking for high quality pieces they know will endure and they’ll enjoy for a long time.

When purchasing furniture or décor, consider if it’s something you’ll want to look at for a long time. Then, consider the quality of the item, and ask yourself if it’ll stay in good shape. Grab a couple of pieces that have your style written all over them and enjoy!

Be Bold in 2020
2020 is all about being bold and fresh while being conscious of important things like how your interior design decisions affect the environment. If you’re ready for a bold new home to make your own, contact us today to find out how you can finance your home and make 2020 the best year yet.

Sources: Forbes, Collected Interior, Dwell


With student loans and auto loans increasing, 75% of young households are renting rather than buying homes. This is great news for landlords, but why is this bad news for those young Americans?

They’re Missing Out on the Opportunity to Build Wealth

First, this means that these young renters are handing their money over for rent each month instead of putting that money toward a mortgage payment. They’re missing out on the game-changing chance to build equity which is a great move for anyone looking to improve their financial situation.

2020 Rates are Low
Experts are saying that mortgage rates will remain low in 2020. The economy is expected to stay relatively smooth throughout the year, allowing rates to remain at the low place they’ve been. This means, in terms of snagging a low rate, now is the time to buy.

Bidding Wars are at a 10-Year Low
Starting in the fall of 2019, buyers stopped battling in nasty bidding wars. While some experts expect bidding wars to pick back up in 2020, buyers should try to take advantage of the opportunity to avoid them now.

2020 Brings Improved Service and Expanded Technology
Lenders and sellers are making huge improvements in the service they provide, giving buyers lots of great options to choose from when searching for their home and mortgage provider. They’re also embracing technology, making the homebuying experience smoother and easier.

They Could be Enjoying a Space of Their Own

People who rent have to follow the landlord’s rules. But buying a home means having your own space to decorate and make your own. That means you can tear things down, hang things up, paint your walls – the possibilities are endless. Plus, your own home is a place to unwind and experience peace and enjoyment.

Get Started Today
If you’re excited to take advantage of all the benefits of buying a home, contact us today to find out how you can get started.

Sources: BankRate, National Mortgage News


couple dreaming of new home

Dreaming of that perfect home? 2020 might just be the year for you! Here are some tips to consider this year when you buy your first home.

Check and Polish Up Your Credit Score
Check your credit score. Consider improving it by paying off a chunk of debt or giving it time to improve. Don’t buy a car, make any big purchases on a credit card, or make any late payments on any of your accounts. You want your credit in tip-top shape from when you apply for a mortgage until closing. To check your credit score, we suggest visiting Annual Credit Report.

Get Pre-Approved
Houses can move quickly. That’s why it’s important to have your finances in order when you’re looking for a house. Get pre-approved so you’re ready to make an offer before your dream house is gone. If you don’t have your financing secure when you’ve found the house you want, you could lose it to someone who is prepared to make an offer.

Get a Real Estate Agent You Trust

Get referrals, do your research, and find the right agent who can take care of your specific needs. Talk to family, friends, or anyone you know and trust to find out which agents they recommend. You can even ask your Loan Originator for suggestions. Make sure the person you choose as your real estate agent is someone you can rely on because you’ll be seeing a lot of them throughout the house buying process.

Consider What Your Long-Term Needs Are

Don’t just think about what you want now. Consider what your needs in a house are likely to be in the future. Houses are typically a long-term investment, so consider your long-term needs in a house.

Identify Your Deal Breakers
It’s important to have a wish list but remember that no house is going to be perfect. That’s why you must identify the main things that will deter you from buying a house. Understand that you may have to accept smaller flaws, but it’s okay to be aware of those deal breakers and to even say no to a house because of them. Consider which aspects of the home can easily be renovated and changed. Sometimes it’s about the potential of a home more than its current state. Read about our Renovation Loans to learn more.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

You don’t want to miss out on something amazing because of how it looked in its listing. Maybe it’s just an unflattering photo! Go inside. Have a look around. Give it a chance! You might be surprised by how much you love a house once you actually go inside.

Take Advantage of Open Houses – and Take Pictures!
An open house is your chance to really take a close look at a house to determine if it’s the one for you. Take this opportunity to pay attention to small details and analyze every corner. Pay attention to any smells, damage, stains, or anything in disrepair. Make sure to ask a lot of questions about the home – when it was built, how old certain systems and features are, and the renovation or repair history.

Most importantly, don’t forget to take pictures! If you don’t, you’ll be kicking yourself later when you’re wishing you could take another look it.

Consider the Surrounding Area – Not Just the Home Itself

It’s easy to focus on the house itself and all its amenities, but you can’t forget to learn about the neighborhood the house is a part of. Take note of the neighboring houses, the types of neighbors, and the nearby stores. Make sure to visit in the evening as well as during the day so you can get an understanding of what the neighborhood is like at all hours. You might realize a house is not for you when you visit at night and notice a high noise level.

Remember to Budget for Unexpected Expenses

Don’t make the mistake of only considering the price of a house when you determine your budget. There are other costs, like down payments, closing costs, and move-in expenses, that you need to consider. You don’t want to reach the top of your budget just to get hit with these costs you hadn’t thought about.

Do Your Research Before You Make an Offer
Consider what other homes in the area have sold for, how long ago the sale was, and what amenities the home has. Remember that the market determines the value of a home, so make sure you’re familiar with the state of the market.

Know What Home Inspections Entail

Inspections are really important to determine the condition of the house because just looking at the surface area of a house doesn’t always tell you what problems might lie unseen.

First, be sure to be there for the inspection. That way you can see exactly what happens, you can ask questions, and you can ask the inspector to look at anything else you’re interested in. Since not all inspections are the same, make sure you know everything that the inspection is testing for. Make sure that the inspector can and does inspect every part of the home, including the roof, attic, or crawl spaces.

What it comes down to is being aware of what you’re buying. Once you know, you can follow up with the seller to determine what they are willing to repair.

Listen to Your Gut
Never discount your intuition. While it’s important to give a home a chance, if you truly feel uneasy deep in your gut, there’s probably something to it. New homes are always coming on the market so don’t be afraid to walk away from one if it doesn’t feel right.

Try to Enjoy the Process

You might start to feel tired and frustrated at some point in the home buying process. These are the moments where it’s especially important to focus on what you can enjoy about the process. Remember that this is an exciting time and a major milestone that you should try to cherish.

Is Now the Time to Buy?
There are a lot of factors that come into play when buying a home. If you want to discuss your options, contact us today to speak to a home financing expert who can help you get your dream home in 2020. Or, download our First Time Home Buyer brochure for more information.


With a new year and the bustle of the Christmas season over, it’s time to think about your home resolutions. Now that the Christmas decorations are gone, the tree has been taken down, and your walls are looking a little bare, here are some ideas for sprucing up your house and getting it in tip-top shape.

Come up With an Actual Schedule for Chores

It’s easy enough to say that one person is in charge of cleaning the bathrooms and someone else is responsible for mopping the floors. But unless you specify when things should get done, they can easily go off track.

Write out the assignments and schedule for each chore and display it somewhere where everyone has access. Resolve to stick to it and consider offering prizes or rewards to anyone who consistently follows it. Indicating a specific and firm date and time to complete these tasks is key to making sure it’s successful.

De-Clutter Your Drawers and Cupboards

Go through all of your “junk drawers,” cabinets, and cupboards to clear out old items that are causing clutter. Be firm with yourself, and don’t let yourself hold on to anything you really don’t need that will just end up cluttering your space. For example, just throw out that old bottle of vanilla extract you’ll never use already.

Get Rid of Things that Don’t Spark Joy

While we’re talking about getting rid of things, one strategy of determining what to throw out is taking the time to consider if the item in question really brings you joy. As Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, says, “Try to appreciate and value more the items you do use and enjoy. This will make it easier to eliminate the goods which don’t have use in your life.”

Keep the items that truly mean something to you and give you real use and let go of the things that don’t.

Change Things up and Add a Little Pizazz

modern room with plants
If one of your resolutions is to spend more time with family and friends, spruce up your entertainment spaces with some new decorations or plants. A new year is a great time to make some updates to the design and layout of your home. Make sure to keep things fresh and minimal, though!

Keep it Simple – Don’t Let Organizing Scare You!

organized drawer
Don’t overthink it. When you’re going through items, separate and organize them according to their similarity using the “like with like” method. This includes everything from keeping similar socks together to storing the same kind of utensil in the same place. If you break it down to that simple concept, organizing seems a lot less intimidating.

Consider a Minimalist Mindset when Buying Things

shopping cart
We tend to think we need everything we see displayed on shiny, sparkly shelves at the store. But many of those things lose their appeal quickly when they’re brought home, and before we know it, they’re collecting dust and creating clutter.

When you’re shopping in 2020, think about what you really need, what you’ll really use, and what might just end up covered in cobwebs in the corner. If you don’t bring junk into your home in the first place, you won’t have to worry about de-cluttering later!

Keep Your Mail in a Designated Spot

organized documents
We all know that the piling up of mail can be the source of tons of clutter. Too many of us have that pile of letters and papers on the kitchen table or countertops that just seems to grow and grow.

Designate a specific spot to store your mail. This could be a shelf, a filing cabinet, or anywhere as long as it’s a spot specifically set aside to neatly store mail.

Contact Us Today!
Is this the year for a new home? Homestead Funding offers lots of options for those looking to start the year off right with a beautiful new house.

Contact us today to find out how to get the right mortgage for you. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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