Charlotte, NC, is an exciting place to buy a house. This is true whether you’re chasing down a great job offer, seeking out a perfect place to own your own home for the first time or just looking for a change of scenery.

While Charlotte might once have been considered a hidden gem of a city, the secret is out. The real estate market in the area is hot, and people are relocating to the southern city at a rapid pace. Amid all the hallmarks of high-demand conditions, from limited inventory to bidding wars, how can you find your perfect Charlotte house?

There are a few strategies that can help you when buying a house in Charlotte. The first is to do your research carefully — by selecting an area and house type that fit your needs, you can avoid buyer’s remorse. The second is to make sure you’re going through the right channel. A service like Bungalo® can make house hunting easier and less stressful, even in a hot market.

As you begin searching, it pays to consider where the Charlotte real estate market stands, to help you find your place in it.

What is the current Charlotte housing market like?

Limited inventory, elevated demand, plenty of buyer interest: These are a few of the prevailing trends in Charlotte housing. As with many cities drawing new arrivals, Charlotte combines several different traits buyers are looking for.

First of all, Charlotte is home to many businesses, especially in finance. When these large banks and other corporations hire new employees, they move to town and lay down roots. Even in an era when remote work is more widely accepted than ever before, being close to the office can be an alluring prospect.

There are reasons for moving to Charlotte that go beyond work. For instance, the cost of living remains low compared to larger and more densely organized cities. That affordability will help a family budget go further. If you’ve been freed up to work remotely from anywhere, Charlotte is worth a look, especially if you’re planning to settle down for a long time. After all, a low cost of living keeps paying dividends month after month.

The demand for Charlotte homes stayed high through the strictest pandemic-necessitated lockdowns in 2020. The Charlotte Business Journal reported this was due to waves of newly remote workers arriving from all over the country. The suburbs, with roomy houses and yards, were especially popular during this period.

While those patterns have abated somewhat, you’ll still have to deal with intense home buyer interest. When asked to project future trends, Kelly Marks, president of the North Carolina Realtors Association, told WCCB Charlotte inventory will remain low. There are more people moving to North Carolina than leaving, and new businesses are consistently opening their doors in the state.

This steady demand has also made Charlotte homes good investments. Holding property in a hot area has been potentially lucrative for real estate investors who bought in before the present period of demand.

Buying in a high-intensity real estate market

People are moving to Charlotte instead of away, both to work from home and to take in-person jobs. That is causing consistently low inventory. Where does that leave you? Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on your homeownership dream.

When you’re working with a simplified real estate buying channel such as Bungalo, you can circumvent some of the headaches of a high-speed housing market. The easy-to-navigate map interface lets you find homes worth investigating, and the home prices quoted are clear and fair, based on other properties in the area. You don’t have to engage in bidding wars with other potential buyers, simply submit your offer online.

What area of Charlotte is right for you?

When you’re studying the map of the Charlotte metro area, you’re likely looking for a little context. Which part of the city will give you the best access to the amenities and Mecklenburg County destinations you’re most interested in? Alternately, you may be wondering which parts of town deliver the most square footage for your dollar.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, you’re probably looking for an area with tree-lined streets and single-family homes rather than the skyscrapers of Uptown. With that said, you should think about your ideal proximity to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Do you plan to commute to a job in the urban core? Maybe you expect to take in Carolina Panthers games? Or, perhaps you’re visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame? The highly developed area in the center of the city is home to both family attractions and office towers, so even if your new home isn’t there, you may want to make sure you’re near a light rail station for easy access to the core.

As you move west from this hustle and bustle, you’ll get closer to the airport, a feature worth thinking about if you expect to come and go often. The west is also home to a massive park featuring attractions like mountain biking and whitewater rafting.

To the south of the city, you’ll find leafy green spaces. This is where some of the city’s expanding suburban neighborhoods are located and a potential place to lay down roots and start a family. It’s not the only place with greenways and walking trails, however — these are common throughout Charlotte.

How do you pick the perfect Charlotte house?

You’ve probably got a few traits in mind for your ideal Charlotte house beyond where it’ll be located. For example, the number of bedrooms and the balance of indoor and outdoor space play a huge role in determining whether you’ll be happy and comfortable in a home. You can also consider whether you’re looking for a historic house, new construction or something in between.

You likely have a solid idea of how many bedrooms you need. Of course, you may want to add to that number for guest rooms or to convert some rooms into office space. In an era of remote work, having a dedicated professional area is valuable.

There’s also the option of buying a house that your family will grow into if you plan on staying for a long time. The bigger the home, the more costly, naturally. You can offset the expense by potentially moving farther from the city center — and the relatively low cost of living doesn’t hurt.

A big yard is good for both kids and pets, or just for you to enjoy the fresh air. During the height of COVID-19 lockdowns, yard space was an especially valuable commodity as people sought relief from staying indoors all day.

Old vs. new construction is a matter of preference and practicality. When looking at old homes, it’s especially important to make sure no structural problems have set in over the years, and to negotiate a price decrease if so. With that said, there are ways to avoid the uncertainty around potential renovations. For example, Bungalo Certified homes are extensively repaired and inspected before buyers move in, guarding against surprises.

What’s the simplest method for buying a house in Charlotte?

Using a modern, streamlined service such as Bungalo to browse for a home is a useful way to circumvent the trickiest parts of the real estate process, especially when you’re dealing with a hot market. From competitive bidding to extensive appraisals, these time-consuming steps have been removed, allowing you to move into your new Charlotte home quickly and confidently.

Even touring a property is easier with Bungalo, handled via app and on your schedule. You can make the most of your house hunting days, making visits to the likely homes you’ve picked out online. When you find one you want, you simply make an offer backed by a mortgage preapproval letter from a lender. It’s either accepted or not, with no haggling or competition.

Closing follows a simplified checklist, and you can be confident in the house’s condition. If a covered issue with the home does pop up within 90 days of move-in, it’s simply handled at no cost to you.

Once you’ve taken the stress out of the real estate process, you can sit back and indulge in your Charlotte house hunt. Getting ready to move to this Southern metropolis can and should be a fun time for you, whether your primary objective is business or simply enjoying life.

If you’re prepared, get started with Bungalo now.

*This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Curb appeal: We’ve all watched enough renovation shows to know it can have a major impact on your home, but how can you actually introduce more of it to your own front yard?

For all our homeowners out there who aren’t the most DIY-inclined or are lacking an especially green thumb, don’t stress. There is truly no shortage of projects you can do to majorly boost your curb appeal without much time or experience required.

With a little sweat equity, learn how you can turn your front yard into an extension of your living space and greet guests with a first impression they won’t forget.

Planning as the key to curb appeal

Whether you’re ready to completely overhaul your home’s exterior or if your yard is just in need of a little facelift, adding some greenery is the perfect way to add instant curb appeal. However, for even the most experienced homeowner, picking and choosing the right plants can quickly become a challenge.

Before buying out your local plant nursery, be sure to keep these helpful considerations from the National Garden Bureau in mind: 

  • Assess your home’s style: Are you working with a streamlined modern house or a super cozy cottage? Do you prefer a more classic style or do you lean new age? Before digging your first flower bed, step back and view your home as if you were seeing it for the first time as a potential buyer. What types of flowers would you want to see?

  • Weather-related changes: Depending on where you live, the bleak, snowy days of winter can wipe out all your hard work. Instead of only using flowers that bloom in the spring or summer, look toward evergreen shrubs like boxwoods and hollies that will look great year-round and provide your yard with a foundation to build on.

  • Consider your proportions: When creating curb appeal, don’t forget to consider the proportions of both your home and front yard. Big properties can benefit from the bold blooms of colorful hydrangeas, but a handful of annual impatiens may be all you need in a small yard.

For those of us who are as far away from being “plant parents” as possible: Sturdy shrubs, flowering perennials and even small trees can be a great way to add greenery to a yard without creating much maintenance work.

To take low maintenance a step further, go with artificial potted plants strategically placed on your front porch. Our condolences to the allegedly invincible succulents we’ve all had to make disappear.

Getting your landscaping off the ground can feel especially challenging when you’re moving into a home where the yard has been a bit neglected. Don’t stress, though: When you buy with Bungalo®, you can rest assured that you’re working with a clean slate so that you can create the yard of your dreams.

Landscaping for curb appeal

OK, you’ve picked out some beautiful flowers and shrubs for your yard … now what?

The important thing to remember is that adding flowers to your yard won’t automatically translate to more curb appeal. Going in with a plan for how you want to organize your plants will help create a more cohesive aesthetic and save you time in the long run.

As you begin to plan the placement of your new greenery, keep these landscaping ideas in mind:

  • Garden beds: Building flower beds is an easy way to boost your curb appeal while also maintaining a cohesive look throughout your yard. Keep it simple by lining the pathway to your front door with flowers or go more complex by combining different types of plants and colors to create a visually interesting pattern.

  • Add fresh mulch: Nothing dims the colors of bright flowers quite like a bed of old mulch. Not only will it look better, but a layer of fresh mulch will also help discourage weeds and retain moisture — making your job a little easier.

  • Create some borders: Once you decide where you’d like to place your flowers, a simple border of bricks can help to boost your curb appeal even more while also preventing your new greenery from taking over your entire yard.

Not only does the right combination of greenery create a more welcoming atmosphere around your home, but the National Association of Realtors explains it can have a direct impact on property value if you ever decide to sell. In fact, research shows that homes with attractive yards and well-done landscaping sell for an average of 7 to 14% more — talk about money going right back into your pocket.

Boosting your home’s value through your front porch

There’s bringing the outdoors in and then there’s bringing the indoors out.

Landscaping isn’t the only way to add to your home’s overall curb appeal. By creating more of a defined space and cozying up your outdoor living area, you can get more out of your yard while also improving the value of your home.

Take a look at your front porch. Does it encourage your guests to sit out and enjoy your yard or does it simply get them to your door? Treating your porch as the centerpiece of the front of your house will help guide your other landscaping decisions and put you on the path to boosting your curb appeal:

  • Porch swing: Looking to enjoy an especially sunny day or spend some time outdoors without being directly exposed to the elements? A porch swing can be a great way to add extra seating to your front porch while also creating curb appeal.

  • Window boxes: Not really into the idea of digging up your yard? We get that. A flower box is an easy way to introduce more color and visual interest around your porch without having to overhaul your lawn.

  • Front door: Speaking of your front door, when was the last time it got a fresh coat of paint? Feel free to use a bold accent color that commands attention or go with a more traditional shade that compliments the rest of your home’s exterior.

One common misperception is that buyers are looking for a completely blank canvas when they move in. Although a potential buyer is definitely interested in adding their own style to a house, there’s something to be said for that move-in ready feeling. Plus, creating a more welcoming space allows buyers to see themselves in their potential new home for years to come.

Whether you’re looking to sell or have long since found your forever home, taking the time to care for your porch is a great way to get even more enjoyment out of your house.

Giving love to the exterior of your house

Now that you’ve put all of this hard work into your home, some monthly and seasonal maintenance can help ensure it looks great for years to come.

As you build out your chore list, you may want to add these tasks as well:

Yard maintenance

Even the most beautiful landscaping and well-cared-for front porch can’t distract from a yard that looks more jungle than it does lawn.

Depending on the climate where you live, you’ll want to mow your lawn once every seven days or at least every other week. Cutting your lawn too short can potentially hurt the grass; to avoid this, most experts say to never cut more than one-third of the grass height at a time. After you’re done mowing, take a quick walk around your flower beds to pluck any new weeds.

Keeping up with raking in the fall is also an easy way to help your lawn thrive and prevent any damage once it snows during the cooler months. Plus, it gives you an excuse to jump in some leaf piles while you’re at it.

Exterior siding

Your home’s siding needs a thorough cleaning about twice a year. Mildew, dirt and other debris can build up and shorten the life of the exterior of your home. Break out the power washer and enjoy having what feels like an entirely new home by the time you’re done.

While you have the power washer out, put it on the lowest setting and rinse off your garage door as well. Using too strong of a setting may damage your door’s finish as well as the weather stripping on the sides. If your door is newly painted or you’re just looking to be on the safe side, washing with mild liquid soap and a soft sponge or cloth can do the trick.

If you don’t have the time to dedicate to your yard, hiring a local professional service can be a great way to keep up with your home without having to carve out the room in your schedule to do so.

Finding the right home for you

Building out your front yard and boosting your curb appeal may take some patience, but just remember it doesn’t have to be an overnight transformation. Gradually putting the time and effort into your yard can majorly pay off in the long run.

For some prospective homeowners, finding a house that has a large yard to take care of is a dream. For others … not so much. We get that. That’s why at Bungalo, we offer homes of all different types and sizes to help ensure the one you move into has all of your must-have features — and none of your have-nots.

Learn more about home ownership with Bungalo. *This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Are you looking to buy a house and obtain a loan but are worried about being outbid by another interested buyer? Don’t be: Bidding on a house is done differently when it’s through Bungalo. By buying direct, you can submit an offer online in mere minutes. And since we operate on a first come, first served basis, you won’t have to worry about the potential for not offering enough or too much.

However, there’s a catch: You first need pre-approval. But if you think that pre-approval is difficult or will put you at a disadvantage, think again. It’s actually just the opposite. Pre-approval puts you in the proverbial driver’s seat, allowing you to know how much house you can afford — whether you’re paying by cash or through a home loan — and make an offer faster.

But before we dive into how to get pre-approved to buy a house, let’s talk a little more about why you should.

Why is it important to get pre-approved?

 Pre-approval is a smart move for a number of reasons. One of which is it establishes guardrails for how much money you can realistically spend when taking into account your current financial situation and income. Buying a house for many people is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make in their entire lives. According to the latest statistics on real estate prices from the National Association of Realtors, the typical house nowadays sells for approximately $359,900 as of July 2021.

Obtaining pre-approval from your mortgage lender — usually in the form of a pre-approval letter — gives you a guideline of how much you can afford to borrow based on your income, budget and available assets. Mortgage pre-approval can also make finding a house in listings easier by eliminating certain real estate options from contention given the cost.

The Bungalo app makes browsing for a home simple with the price filter function. You can set the floor and ceiling for how much you can spend, which will help you narrow down which house will be the ultimate winner until you find “the one.”

Another advantage of mortgage loan pre-approval is for the seller. Naturally, the seller needs to be certain that those they’re selling to are financially secure and serious about buying. The loan pre-approval letter provides them with that rest assurance by minimizing risk. Assuming the offer is accepted, the mortgage lender pays them the requisite amount, then you pay back the lender with interest over however many years. Simple as that.

What is the difference between a mortgage pre-approval and a mortgage prequalification letter?

What isn’t quite as straightforward is understanding how a mortgage pre-approval differs from pre-qualification. You’ve probably heard these terms before and thought, “Hmmm, must be the same thing.” While there are definitely a lot of similarities and the terms do get used interchangeably — wrongly, as it happens — they’re not identical.

In layman’s terms, mortgage pre-approval is a much more thorough vetting process of a prospective buyer. While both pre-qualification and pre-approval provide borrowers with an estimate as to what they can spend — which, come to think of it, maybe why the terms are often confused — pre-approval is a step up from mortgage pre-qualification. For example, if you’ve obtained a mortgage pre-qualification letter, your mortgage lender may not have assessed your credit score by pulling your credit report. They may also not have asked to see certain documents that they do require to get a mortgage pre-approval letter, such as tax information.

Additionally, because the mortgage pre-approval process is typically more involved than pre-qualification, it may take a bit longer to receive word on whether you are approved.

What information do you need for mortgage pre-approval?

Now that you know the why of mortgage pre-approval, how do you actually get that all-important pre approval letter? The truth is every process is different in terms of what a lender wants to see to determine your financial ability. In addition to filling out an application, here are a few of the pieces of information you’ll likely be asked to collect. Most of the items requested are designed to assess your financial wellness, which goes further than income level:

  • Proof of employment
  • Pay stubs (two most recent checks)
  • W-2 forms (usually from the past two years)
  • Bank statements showing your available savings
  • Retirement accounts (e.g. 401(k), CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds, etc.)
  • Copy of your credit report

Your credit report — and accompanying credit score — contains a lot of information (e.g. accounts, date the accounts were opened, credit limits, balances, etc.), but it primarily allows your mortgage lender to see if you’re consistent about making your payments in a timely manner. Generally speaking, the higher the credit score, the better. Additionally, having a high credit score makes it more likely that you’ll be able to take out a loan at a low interest rate.

There are a number of ways to obtain your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report every year from any of the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. It should be as simple as visiting the website. However, it’s also possible that your lender may be able to pull your credit report for you, but they’ll of course need your permission in order to do that as well as certain personal information, such as your Social Security number, mailing address, date of birth and the like. Once again, pre-approval is not on

Anyone who’s ever spent time in the housing market knows there’s a best and worst month to sell a house. Sometimes prospective buyers are careening to get a glimpse of your living room and kitchen, and other times it feels like you can’t even get anyone to make a quick drive-by. It can be tough to know when you should and shouldn’t try to sell.

That’s why we’re here. Bungalo® is upending the traditional way of selling a home by making it easier than ever to complete every step of the process, including getting market value and closing quickly.

Factors that influence whether it’s a good time to sell your house

First thing’s first, let’s take a look at the many local factors that help determine whether it’s a good (or bad) time to put your house on the market.

  1. Greener pastures: People are moving all the time. If a city or locality is seeing a population bump (or drop), that can seriously affect the value of the homes in that area. Keep an eye on moving patterns in your region. If lots of people are moving out, it might be a good idea to wait a little while. People do most of their moving in the spring and early summer months, so keep that in mind.
  1. What goes up, must come down: Get a sense of the state of the real estate market. If it’s a seller’s market (meaning housing prices are sky high) you can expect to get a great house price. A lot of this will depend on what month it is. Keep in mind that the market will eventually come back down, and it might not be as favorable if you wait to sell.
  1. It’s the economy, silly: There are some annual patterns that make it somewhat predictable to decide when the best month to buy and sell is. But it’s important to remember that everything depends on a healthy local economy. If the economy isn’t doing so great, it might be harder for a prospective buyer to take money out to buy a new home, and that can bring the market down.
  1. Pay attention to the rates: If a potential buyer needs to take out a loan (which is just about everybody), it’s important to consider mortgage interest rates because that will give you a sense of how many buyers can get credit. The interest rate changes every day and they can fluctuate significantly. For example, interest rates in September 2021 were at a historic 2.3% low, per TIME, but those were exceptional. The rates hovered around 3.2% for much of 2019.
  1. What’s the government up to?: Back to the economy. A bad economy usually means it’s not a good time to sell a home, but that’s only if the government sits back and doesn’t do anything about it. Sometimes the government will introduce a slew of tax credits, deductions and other incentives to get people to buy. That’s what it did in the wake of the 2008 recession to help jumpstart the crippled housing market.

The best month to put your house on the market

The best time of year to sell a house tends to be in the warmer months. The cold weather keeps people hunkered inside their homes, and much of the home-buying process is simply undesirable around that time. By the time spring rolls around, sellers and prospective buyers are eager to hit the markets again, and that leads to a flurry of activity in the market.

The flood of buyers on the market means sellers have plenty of hungry takers, so you can feel confident knowing you might be able to sell your home in a shorter span of time. May is traditionally considered the best time of year to sell a home, but that can sometimes fluctuate. Information provided by ATTOM Data and reported by Bankrate suggests that June has been the best month to sell in recent years.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that seasonal house-buying splurges tend to vary across different regions. In the Midwest and Northeast, for example, the busiest months of the year — May, June, July and August — get more house-selling action than in any other region, according to the National Association of Realtors. This probably has a lot to do with the intensity of the winters in those regions, when snow, sleet and freezing temperatures keep people inside for longer, leading to a major swing in the other direction when the weather warms up.

The worst month to put your house on the market

As the year drags on and winter starts to loom again, buyers lose interest in the housing market (or simply put off buying their next home until the following year). As the market dries up, it becomes harder and harder for sellers to get their asking price, and they’re forced to either drop their price or wait out the winter.

Reflecting the seasonal preferences of buyers, the worst months to sell are usually October, November, December and January — with October and December being the worst — according to ATTOM Data. But there’s more to it than just the weather. The fall and winter months are a busy time for many families, especially those with children. Parents sending their kids to school want to be moved and settled into their new home before the school year starts in September, and this is typically when market activity takes a dip.

More than that, November, December and January cover the holiday season, gift-buying and winter vacations, meaning lots of people simply don’t have the time (or the money) to devote to buying a house. It isn’t until after the last holiday turkeys and hams are eaten in January that the market finally starts to pick back up again.

What to know if you have to sell during the worst months of the year

For lots of people, either for family or money reasons, they have no choice but to sell when the going isn’t good. They know that can hurt their chances of getting their asking price, but believe it or not, selling in the winter months might not be as bad as it sounds.

Here are some of the ways selling in the worst months could work in your favor:

  • The buyer is more motivated: You won’t have as many prospective buyers coming to take a look at your home, but the ones that do are probably in a similar position to you: They need to buy, and they need to buy now.
  • Less competition: There will be fewer homes on the market and that means fewer competitors. Buyers might be scarce, but the ones searching will have fewer options to choose from, and that means they’re more likely to take your offer.
  • Dedicated real estate agent: Your realtor won’t have as many clients in the winter months, and that means they can devote more of their time and resources to you.

The housing market changes by the month, and that can cause some serious headaches for sellers and buyers alike. But none of this is a problem if you choose to use Bungalo. Our online marketplace helps make the home-buying process hassle-free and easier than ever. Take a look through new homes, pick your mortgage lender and even submit an offer all right there on our mobile app.

Check out our website to get started.

*This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

For many prospective homeowners, the most daunting piece of the buying process comes long before the negotiations and even the open houses: getting a home finance loan.

We get it — there’s a ton of moving parts to juggle whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced investor. By the time you’ve mastered the nuances of the market you’re looking in, which types of loans are available to you and what your budget will look like, the house you were so ready to move out of may look a lot more attractive.

Read on to learn how Bungalo® can help you navigate your mortgage like a real estate pro.

Researching your home finance loan options

Determining which loan makes the most sense for your financial situation will be your first step toward your future dream home. With so many loan types out there, let’s go over some of the most common and how to know whether they’re right for you:

Conventional loan

When you think of a mortgage, a conventional loan is likely what comes to mind.

In this situation, a private financial lender (such as a bank) funds your purchase. This is the most popular form of lending as conventional loans don’t have as strict of regulations on income, home type and location like other options out there. However, they can be difficult to obtain depending on your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. Given the market’s current low interest rates, a fixed rate mortgage will often make the most sense for home buyers.

If you don’t qualify for a government-backed loan or are looking to take advantage of a lower interest rate and monthly payment by putting forward a large percentage down, a conventional loan will likely be best for you.

FHA loan

If your credit score isn’t the greatest (let’s admit it: whose is?) and you’re looking to put down a lower down payment, check if you qualify for a home loan from the Federal Housing Administration.

The flexible credit and low down payment requirements make FHA loans especially attractive for single-income families and those working to get their credit scores up. You’ll just want to be mindful of whether you meet the specific requirements set forth by the FHA — generally, your house payment can’t exceed 31% of your income.

VA loan

Government-backed loans come in several forms, one of them being a VA loan insured by the Department of Veteran Affairs. With a VA loan, eligible service members, veterans and their spouses are able to qualify for a low-cost mortgage rate regardless of their credit score.

Just remember not everyone who served in the Armed Forces or National Guard automatically qualifies for a VA loan. You’ll want to check whether the duration of you or your spouse’s service aligns with the VA’s eligibility requirements.


Homeowners with an interest-only mortgage only pay the interest on their loan for a set period of time. After that set loan term expires, the borrower is expected to pay both the principal and the interest.

If you’re moving to a new area and are looking to settle and save before paying down your loan, an interest-only payment plan may make the most sense for you. However, your monthly payment will grow significantly after those first few years pass, so you’ll need to be especially mindful of your finances.

Now, with all of those mortgage types in mind, let’s go over how you can navigate the pre-approval process.

Applying for home finance loan preapproval

Getting pre-approved before you begin looking for your new home will help guide your search. You’ll want to get all of your ducks in a row, however, before meeting with your mortgage lender.

As you chase down all the documents floating around in your filing system, follow this checklist to stay organized:

  • Income and employment: W-2 wage earners will simply need a copy of their W-2 and two recent pay stubs. Those who are self-employed, freelancing or independent contractors will need a year-to-date P&L statement and two years of records including their Form 1099s.
  • Debts: Your debt-to-income ratio is an important piece of the lender approval process. Be sure to list all debt payments including student loans, credits cards and any outstanding auto loans.

  • Assets: Typically, you’ll want to copy two month’s worth of statements for every account whose assets you’re using to qualify — even the blank pages. Apologies to overworked printers everywhere.

Depending on your unique financial situation, there may be additional records your lender will ask you to show, such as rent payments or divorce documents. By getting organized and being pre-approved in advance, you can shop around and make sure you’re getting the best rate possible.

Turning your loan into a home

While you may think the foundation of your new home is made of concrete, it actually all roots back to the pre-approval process — well, maybe not literally, but you get what we’re saying.

Pre-approval has the potential to majorly impact your search as well your ability to eventually close on your dream home. While acquiring a loan may feel overwhelming, getting it out of the way earlier has some major benefits:

  • Setting your budget: You found your dream home. It has every feature you could have wanted and more. Then when you get approved for the loan type of your choice, you find out the price is … seriously out of your budget. Pre-approval helps you to know exactly what you’re able to afford in advance. You’ll avoid considerable wasted time and broken hearts.

  • Credibility: There are few bigger disappointments in the home buying process than to find out you’ve been out-bid or were going up against an all-cash buyer. Getting pre-approved gives you some major credibility that could make all the difference with your seller.

  • Closing process: Closing on a home can typically take anywhere from one to two months, which may extend even further out if you’re waiting on your mortgage approval. Having your lender agreement in advance will allow help to move forward through appraisal and inspection a little faster.

By having your loan pre-approved, you’ll be able to minimize the chance of not closing on your home and avoid losing money paid upfront for expenses.

Making an offer with your pre-approval letter

With an approval letter in your hand (or uploaded digitally to your computer), all that’s left for you to do is to find the home of your dreams.

At Bungalo, we’re here to make every step of the buying process as smooth and straightforward as it should be. From convenient self-tours, certified homes, and transparent pricing to closing on your new property.

Once you’ve been approved by the mortgage loan officer of your choice, all you have to do to create an offer is upload your approval letter and enter some information. Plus, after you submit your first-come, first-served offer, you can rest assured knowing you can’t be outbid.

Learn more about buying directly through Bungalo and be one step closer to move-in day.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

So, you’ve decided: It’s time to start looking at the real estate market outside of your state. Maybe there’s a new job offer. Perhaps you’re looking for a vacation home or second house. Or, it could just be a time for a change of scenery.

In some ways, choosing to buy a house in a different state is just the same as buying one down the street. You’ll still need to think about issues like mortgage financing and monthly payment structures, set aside some money for closing costs and hire the movers.

In other ways, moving out of state is a unique experience. You’ll have to answer questions about paying tax on the new home while finding a way to tour and inspect the property, though it may be located far away.

Some of the practices that can help you most during your home buying journey are equally useful no matter how far you’re moving. Alternative home buying platforms like Bungalo, for instance, can put you in a new house quickly and efficiently, wherever your destination may be. With that said, it’s worth thinking about just what makes an interstate house search so unique.

Conducting a long-distance real estate search

Looking for a new home in another state almost inevitably means performing a good deal of online research. Even if you’re relatively free to travel, there will likely be plenty of digital searching before you close in on a property.

Giving yourself as much time as possible to complete this search is a good idea, as is looking up information about your chosen area as well as the houses themselves. Your process may start relatively broad but then narrow down as you become more certain about where you want to end up and the type of property you want.

Today’s real estate offerings sometimes come with virtual tours — take advantage of these where possible, and don’t forget to ask for any relevant inspection reports that might contain vital information about a house on your shortlist.

There is more to a house than its location and sale price, so getting a closer look via a tour can teach you a lot, even if that walkthrough is virtual. Traveling to visit multiple homes in the area is another potentially useful strategy, provided you can plan to use the time effectively.

It’s also important to be sure all the information you’re receiving is legitimate. Scammers sometimes prey on interstate homebuyers. When searching for a home through Bungalo, you can be sure every listed house is truly available, that the prices are accurate and that necessary renovations and inspections have taken place.

You may have assistance from your workplace if you’re moving to take a new position within a company. No matter the reason why you’re making a purchase, you have to decide whether to lead your own search or have a real estate agent on your side. If you go the latter route, you can call on a relocation specialist rather than a more general agent.

Taxes and legal requirements for buying a property in another state

What is the tax and fee structure in the state you’re moving to? How does it differ from financial requirements where you currently live? These are important questions to answer as early as possible in the home buying process.

The existence of an unexpected tax on any part of home buying can change the math regarding your readiness to pay closing costs or make a certain level of monthly payment. This means you should sort out questions around taxation early before you commit to a mortgage.

There are a few potentially surprising legal matters that can come up when moving from one state to another, and you don’t want them to trip you up. For example, how do you go about changing official documents such as your driver’s license and vehicle registration? Are there any other local programs you have to register for?

The cost of living can differ between regions for a variety of reasons, and some go beyond the obvious property and income taxes. Doing as much research as possible with people who know the area well is an ideal way to get ahead of potential problems or last-minute inconveniences.

The exact conditions around your new house may be different if you’re considering using it for an investment property or rental property instead of buying it as a permanent residence. This is very important to work out in advance, to make sure zoning laws and tax obligations don’t cause challenges to appear when you’re getting ready to close on the home.

Loan options when buying real estate out of state

As with any home purchase, your ability to secure a mortgage loan will play a big role in determining what type of new home you can move into when you move across state lines. While the general pattern is the same — find a lender, get prequalified, get preapproved, agree to final terms — there are a few special steps to take for a long-distance move.

For example, when searching for a mortgage lender, you should probably focus your attention on banks that mainly serve the area where you’re planning to move, rather than those around your current home. There is also the option of a national bank that serves both locations, so you can deal with the same financial institution at home and in your new state.

The mortgage application process can be somewhat extended when dealing with an out-of-state lender. It pays to factor the extra time into your calculations for the home search. As with any mortgage application, you will have to provide proof of your assets, your credit score and your general ability to pay off the mortgage.

Some banks offer a special relocation loan offering that is specifically designed for moving long distances. This joins a list of other specialty mortgage offerings, such as Veterans Administration and Federal Housing Administration loans, or modified options including jumbo loans. Each of these could be an alternative to a conventional loan.

As with any move, you can find the best possible terms for your new mortgage loan by seeking out offers from multiple lenders. You aren’t under obligation to work with a specific bank until the mortgage papers are signed, even if you receive a preapproval letter from that institution.

Your best options for your home search

If your workplace doesn’t come through with relocation assistance, it’s time to consider your options for the home search. Do you want to look through online listings yourself, turn to a real estate agent, employ a specialty service? All these options are open to you, and you can mix and match them, using a variety of channels to narrow down your home choices.

Working with a buyer’s agent is one way to learn more about the area where you’re planning to move. A professional can sort through listings and help narrow down your options to homes that meet your criteria. This is a conventional way to conduct the home search, but it’s no longer the only way to look, given the rise of technology in real estate.

Today, you have more options than ever when it comes to home search tactics. For example, when you launch your home search through Bungalo, you can simply point at a location on a map and browse available homes there. This is a way to immediately target a region where you’d like to move and see what your options are.

What makes Bungalo different?

With Bungalo home listings, there is none of the ambiguity that can plague more general real estate searching. The asking price listed for each house is calculated based on data from other sales in the area and designed for fairness. You simply submit your offer online, based on a mortgage preapproval letter, and it’s accepted or not — no tense bidding wars with other potential buyers.

You can use Bungalo whether you’re looking on your own or with help from a buyer’s agent. You receive cash back if you don’t have an agent receiving a commission on the sale, but if you want someone to help you search for a home in your new state, that’s also an option.

Once you’ve had an offer accepted on the house of your dreams, the closing process is simplified with Bungalo. All activities are sorted into a checklist for you to follow, and the houses have received the Bungalo Certified seal of approval — that means there are no outstanding issues. If a covered problem does unexpectedly arise in the first 90 days, it’ll be fixed at no cost to you.

If you’re ready to make a start in a new state, you’ll have to choose who and what to have on your side. Bungalo is a perfect addition to your house hunting tool kit, laying out great options and helping you make them yours.

*This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

When you imagine a peaceful paradise, what do you see? Is it palm trees swaying or a misty morning in a sprawling pine forest? Whatever you envision, the chances are that you’re not seeing piles of stuff in every corner. Clutter keeps your home from being that peaceful paradise — but the good news is that there’s an easy way to win the battle against stuff.

The key is to create an organizational strategy that works for you. That means you’ll actually want to use it — which, in turn, means you won’t give up on it after a few months and end up buried in clutter again.

To make that organizational strategy a reality and turn your home into a relaxing retreat, you’ll need to take these simple steps.

Don’t let mental clutter stop you from getting organized

Sometimes, clutter is just as much about what’s in your head as what’s in your home. Seeing so much stuff can be overwhelming — and if you’re not sure where to start, it’s possible that you’ll never want to start at all. This is part of the reason why clutter quickly gets out of hand: It’s easier to brush it aside than to address what’s going on under the surface.

To successfully organize and declutter your home, you’ll need to deal with mental clutter first. Here are a few things to keep in mind — and a few to get out of your mind while you’re at it.

Make a plan

Your first order of business should be making a plan to help you start organizing. It doesn’t matter which decluttering method you choose or where you prefer to begin — what’s important is that you have a clear path to follow. This helps you know where to start, which steps to take in what order and how to prioritize your rooms. Plus, having a plan means you’ll be able to see — and feel motivated by — your continuing progress.

Get others on board

Let’s face it: If you’re the only one organizing, you won’t make much ground in the battle against stuff — and that’s its own kind of mental clutter.

To be sure you’re actually making progress, it’s important to get others on board. This can be as simple as getting the kids to put their toys away or as intricate as working with your spouse to design decluttering methods that work for both of you. No matter who’s in your house, get them to help — or at least get them to stay out of your way.

Start with the easy stuff

Part of why decluttering the house feels so difficult is the sheer amount of work you expect from a job like this. To make it easier, give yourself permission to start with the easy tasks. Get rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore, toys the dog doesn’t play with, knickknacks you never liked anyway and even furniture that just doesn’t fit in your space. By eliminating this first round of clutter, you’ll feel like you’re making great progress and you’ll have a clearer view of what still needs organizing.

Acknowledge your emotions

Sometimes, clutter sticks around because you’re emotionally attached to it one way or another. To make sure feelings don’t get in the way of your organizing journey, be sure to acknowledge your emotions — but don’t be ruled by them. The key is to find your ideal balance between logic and nostalgia.

For example, a snowglobe from your first family vacation may not serve a purpose, but it’s an important keepsake. On the other hand, a wall-hanging from a friend might stick around just because you feel too guilty to take it down — which means it’s just adding clutter to your space.

Battling stuff

To win the battle against stuff, you’ll need to know how to address different spaces in your home. Here are a few tips that can help turn the tides in your favor.

  • Use the Peter Walsh method.

This one likely won’t work in big spaces, like living rooms or kitchens, but it can be a big help for closets, kids’ play areas and more. According to Forbes, the Peter Walsh method of decluttering starts by removing everything from a certain space. Once the room is empty, start putting items back one at a time. As you do, you’ll notice what stuff you actually want in the room and what feels like clutter.

  • Try the 365-day method.

This method usually takes a year, but if you’d prefer your organizing journey to be a sprint instead of a marathon, you can shorten the timeframe.

Take all the clothing hangers in your closet and turn them in one direction. As you wear clothes, turn the hangers the opposite direction so you know you’ve used them recently. At the end of a year (or however long you want the method to take), you’ll have a visual representation of what you actually wear and what can be donated to free up extra space.

  • Don’t forget the junk drawer.

It can be tempting to take stuff without a home and cram it into the junk drawer — which is why you should challenge yourself to declutter that, too. Chances are, your junk drawer has a lot of clutter that can be reorganized, stored elsewhere or thrown away. You can use a drawer organizer or drawer divider to help win this particular declutter challenge.

  • Consider a garage sale for kids’ toys.

Having a hard time convincing the kids to let go of toys they don’t use anymore? One simple trick is to plan a kids’ garage sale. The little ones may not like the idea of their stuff walking away in a stranger’s hands — but they will be excited to help out if you give them the money from anything they manage to sell.

Designing a more peaceful home

Decluttering isn’t all about getting rid of stuff. It’s also about giving every item a home — that way, you won’t slip back into bad habits. To make your house that perfect paradise, try some of these solutions that will lay the groundwork for a lifetime of organization.

Savvy storage solutions

If you come across something you don’t want to get rid of but don’t really want sitting out, you’ll probably want to shove it into a storage space. However, these areas quickly get overwhelmed when you use them as a cure-all. To keep household items from overflowing from the drawer or spilling out from under the bed, create more storage space throughout your home. For example, you could add shelves to the garage or laundry room, use office or home gym closets for household stuff, buy furniture with built-in storage and more. According to Better Homes & Gardens, you can also consider going vertical with your storage solutions to save space.

When choosing how and where to store your stuff, remember that even the cutest storage solution is no good if you won’t actually use it. Make sure storage fits into your life — not the other way around.

Clever closets

If you have a linen closet or other storage space in your laundry room, mud room, hallways or garage, use it to your advantage. Instead of stuffing them with, well, stuff, use them as a home for items that have a tendency to get lost or end up in the way — for example, keeping shoes in a closet by the front door so they’re not all over the house, or hanging keys in a closet when you come in from the garage. That way, you’ll always know where these things are, because you’ll have to pass them to get out the door.

Choosy children

If you have young kids — or even teenagers — you’ll want to create organization techniques they can be on board with. If it’s too much work, little ones might lose interest, while older kids might just forget — so when it comes to getting kids organized, keep it simple. For example, make sure little hands can reach the drawers they need to use to put their toys away, and give teens the tools they need to organize their own space (so their stuff doesn’t end up in yours).

Helpful habits

To get into good organizing habits, it’s important to pay attention to the little stuff. For example, throw out empty containers in the kitchen and bathroom, get rid of broken items you’re never going to fix and — perhaps most importantly — don’t buy things on impulse. It’s okay to add a knickknack or decoration to your home now and again, but impulse buys can end up as clutter you’ll just have to deal with later.

Limiting future clutter

Once you get your home organized and decluttered, the last thing you want to think about is having to do it all over again. The good news is that there’s one approach that can help out: minimalism.

According to Good Housekeeping, minimalism is the practice of “living with less.” It’s all about simplicity and stress-free living areas — but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Here are a few ways to adapt minimalism to your needs and make this decluttering method a lifestyle.

  • Learn why you have too much stuff in the first place. If you’re guilty of impulse buys, recognizing that habit can help you reach your minimalist goals. Similarly, if you tend to keep things for nostalgic reasons, you could consider adapting to mementoes that don’t gather dust — like pictures stored in a digital file.
  • Don’t take it too far. Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything you own. In fact, if you try to take it too far, you’ll burn yourself out — so make minimalism part of your life rather than letting it have total control. Start small — maybe just one room at a time — and see what’s most comfortable for you.
  • Pay attention to what’s meaningful. Avoid items that have no purpose or value beyond aesthetics — no matter how cute they might be. Instead, try decorating with things that are meaningful to you. Remember, “meaningful” is up to your personal definition — so even if something doesn’t feel particularly minimalist, you should hold onto it as long as it actually makes you happy.
  • Have a purpose. Good Housekeeping recommends having a purpose for your minimalist lifestyle. Understand why you’re making these changes — to save money, try a new decluttering method, simplify your life or something else — and use that as motivation to guide you.

Start fresh with Bungalo®

There are a lot of reasons to declutter — but for many people, the journey begins when it’s time to pack everything up and move to a new home. If you’re hoping for a fresh start, make sure organization is one of the first things on your list; after all, there’s no better time to get rid of extra stuff than right before you have to drag it across town or even across the country. Plus, a new home is the perfect opportunity to create and stick to organizational techniques that you’ll actually maintain.

Another thing to keep in mind is the home search itself. If you look for houses with ample storage space, like big kitchen cabinets or plentiful shelves, you won’t end up cramming things in closets or under beds while you’re trying to move in. Also, if you really want to win at your home search, keep in mind that Bungalo Certified houses come with guarantees that your new place is free of issues from electrical to HVAC and beyond — which means you won’t get any nasty surprises when you’re trying to organize your new home.

To get started finding your peaceful paradise, browse Bungalo listings today. This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

If just hearing the words “increasing home value” is enough to send a shiver down your spine, you’ve come to the right place. Upgrades and home improvements don’t have to be stressful to increase resale value — and knowing where and how to invest your time will make every project feel more like progress.

Roll up your sleeves, grab a hammer and get ready to learn about home improvements that your wallet — and every potential buyer — will thank you for when moving day rolls around.

Home improvements that add value

Whether you’re buying a renovated house or are working on your own fixer-upper, one thing is clear: Paying attention to home value from day one will keep you from making mistakes that could hurt your chances — or your bottom line — if you ever want to sell. The truth is that every home buyer is unique, but no matter their values, they often care a great deal about curb appeal.

Isn’t curb appeal subjective?

Curb appeal might just be one of the most subjective things in the real estate world. One person’s front yard fountain installation could be another person’s blocked view of the front porch. So how do you know what to do and what definitely not to do when choosing home upgrade projects that increase a home’s value?

Your best bet is to keep it simple.

If your goal is to sell your home, whether that means now or in ten years, make sure you do everything with curb appeal in mind. That means making your choices carefully — for example, take care of the lawn (who doesn’t love a lush green front yard?) and avoid additions that might make buyers drive right on by. Basically, don’t do anything a house-hunter will have to pay to undo later, or your resale value will suffer.

Maybe you’re not really a hammer-and-nail type of person. If that’s the case, don’t worry — when you buy or sell with Bungalo®, renovation projects big and small are handled for you.

What boosts curb appeal?

Because curb appeal isn’t so easy to pin down, it may be helpful to think of other words to inform your renovation planning. For example, do you want your house to be welcoming, homey and warm, or would you rather go for stately and impressive?

Either way, curb appeal adds home value — and achieving that perfect aesthetic is a long-term project. Luckily, you can get started as soon as you walk in the door for the first time.

Here are a few things that boost a home’s curb appeal:


Gardens are blooming with possibility — literally. Adding a garden to your yard increases curb appeal by giving your house a fresh, living component that could juxtapose wonderfully with wood, brick, vinyl or stone siding. It also makes spaces feel more dynamic — for example, gardens can make square front yards look less geometric and more like home.

Gardens also promise an element of self-sufficiency that many house-hunters are drawn to. If you can make them imagine looking out over the yard while enjoying a garden-fresh salad full of homegrown vegetables, you’ve achieved house-selling magic: getting buyers to picture themselves settling down in your home.

Patios and decks

Patios and decks, while eye-catching, are also an opportunity to get more out of your yard: more curb appeal and more home value. Adding them, however, should be a calculated decision. Going overboard can make your yard seem small and cramped, while an undersized deck or patio won’t serve much purpose for entertaining or relaxing. If you already have a patio or deck, you’re in luck—all you need is a fresh coat of paint to boost your home’s curb appeal.

Updated roofing

Your home’s roof has a big role to play when it comes to curb appeal. A worn or moss-covered roof can make even the nicest house look shabby.  Plus, savvy buyers know that roofing is a big cost, so they may not be interested in a home that could put a dent in their finances right away. That’s why Bungalo certifications are such a big deal: They guarantee that every house has had all of the big stuff, including the roof, taken care of.

Also, in the 2019 Remodeling Impact Survey, the National Association of Realtors reported that updated roofing has a big impact on sales and is highest on the list of completed projects that appeal to buyers. 33% of surveyed realtors said that an updated roof was critical in closing on a home, and the study found that roof replacements had a 107% return on project cost.

Garage door

Adding a new garage door also topped the NAR’s list of projects buyers love to see completed. Because garages can add to overall home value, increase curb appeal, it makes sense to put a new garage door at the top of your to-do list.

Long-term planning for reselling your home

Even if you’re in love with your home right now, there’s no guarantee you’ll stay in the same place forever. That’s why it’s smart to start planning high-value renovations as soon as possible, so any potential buyer might be more interested in your property, andyou get to enjoy the home upgrades until then.

What this doesn’t mean is that you need to work on every home improvement project right away. Instead, choose renovations that prospective home buyers might consider valuable, both now and in the future, and start working on those one at a time.

Thinking ahead

Today’s homebuyer won’t necessarily have the same values and priorities as tomorrow’s, and, unless you have a crystal ball, there’s no way to know for sure what the future will bring. Still, a little informed guesswork can go a long way.

Take, for example, environmental friendliness. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, 40% of U.S. energy goes toward homes and commercial buildings, meaning that energy efficiency upgrades are likely to get even more popular.

Here are a few recommendations for energy efficient upgrades:

  • Install newer lightbulbs and fixtures
  • Look for the government-backed ENERGY STAR logo when buying appliances
  • Make sure existing appliances are functioning efficiently
  • Repair air leaks in windows or ductwork
  • Install solar panels to save money on energy bills

These home upgrades will likely appeal to buyers no matter when you sell your home — and, in the meantime, you’ll enjoy the benefits (and do a little good for Mother Earth along the way).

Financing home improvements

Another element of long-term home improvement planning is, of course, the finances. How do you afford larger projects or upgrades that require a contractor? Here are a few tips.

  • Budget accordingly.

Creating a solid budget for home improvement projects is an absolute must — that way, you don’t end up spending more than you’ll get back in your home’s value. It’s also smart to plan ahead and start saving or budgeting long before you actually begin your home upgrades.

  • Get bids — and then throw out anything that seems too good to be true.

According to This Old House, you should get bids from multiple contractors so you can compare prices. Costs are broken down into three categories: materials, which should represent 40% of the cost; overhead, which should be 40%; and profit margin, which is typically 20%. It’s also important, the source explains, to take bids with a grain of salt. Prices that seem too good to be true often are.

  • Arrange payment plans.

If you budgeted ahead of time, you may have more flexibility when it comes to payment plans. Either way, make sure the contractor you choose is clear and open about their payment expectations, especially when it comes to down payments.

  • Don’t pay cash.

According to Forbes, you always want to pay contractors with checks or credit cards. Contractors asking for or insisting on cash may be trying to scam you.

Kitchen remodels that sell

Home buyers may have different priorities when touring houses, but one thing most of them can agree on is the importance of the kitchen. It’s the heart of any home — or, at least, it will be, once you’re done making a few tweaks.


Flooring brings a space together, sure — but in the kitchen, its primary objective is to be functional. If your current kitchen flooring is doing its job, you might consider spending time and money on other home improvement projects. On the other hand, if the flooring is outdated, warped or a hazard to the home cook, it’s definitely worthwhile to swap it out. Consider choices that look good and won’t negatively impact your home’s value, but don’t feel obligated to jump straight to the most expensive option (like hardwood floors).

Stainless steel appliances

If you only have the time, money or energy for one kitchen remodel, make it this one: According to HGTV, stainless steel appliances help increase home value. Buyers like the look and functionality of a kitchen with these sleek silver accents — and you’ll enjoy how easy it is to keep your new appliances clean in the meantime.


DIY upgrades

If you’re not ready to go all Property Brothers on your kitchen remodel, don’t worry — there are some minor upgrades you can do as a DIYer.

  • Update the backsplash. Find an interesting pattern or attractive tile that matches your countertops. It’s easy, affordable and improves the value of your kitchen.
  • Change out the light fixtures. New or brighter fixtures can change the whole mood of your kitchen — and they might be more energy-efficient, too.
  • Paint the cabinets. If you don’t want to spend the time and money necessary to replace cabinetry, just grab a bucket of paint and a brush. Make sure to choose colors that stand out but don’t risk impacting your home’s value.

Home improvements in the bathroom

Bathrooms may not be the heart of your home, but they’re a pretty big deal — especially to buyers trying to judge the functionality of your floor plan. Here are some ways to create a bathroom oasis that you — and future buyers — will love.


According to Consumer Reports, your best bet for bathroom paint is satin or semi-gloss. Stay away from textured paints that will turn this humid part of the house into a breeding ground for mold. Plus, the source explains that flat or eggshell finishes make everyday cleaning a chore — which buyers won’t like at all.


Faucets, shower heads and even sinks and toilets are considered bathroom fixtures. While updating these might be more work, they are often the elements of your bathroom that draw the most attention — so start small, like choosing a new faucet for the sink, and work up from there.


If your bathroom vanity is outdated, falling apart or just plain boring, consider replacing it with a DIY build. Dressers or cabinets from your local second-hand store or flea market make great statement pieces, especially when painted to match your bathroom’s aesthetic.

Get top dollar with Bungalo Homes

From gardens and decks to kitchens and bathrooms, home upgrades make a huge impact on your home’s value and curb appeal. When timed just right, they also provide plenty of enjoyment for you until you sell your home.

Don’t feel like grabbing a hammer to sell your house or move into a new one? Not to worry — Bungalo renovates homes for you, so whether you’re buying or selling, you won’t have to lift a finger. Start working with Bungalo today to get top dollar the easy way.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Imagine you’re sitting under the air conditioner in shorts and a T-shirt, lounging on the beach with a cold drink in your hand, watching the kids play in the pool or just soaking up some summer sun. The last thing you want to think about is snow up to your knees, right? You stuffed that winter jacket into the back of your closet for a reason.

No matter the season, you may not be ready to think about chilly weather — but for your house, it’s mission critical. Preparing home for winter is part of what keeps it feeling like home. While you may not need to pull out the warm clothes just yet, it’s never too early to get a head start on prepping your property for all the joys (and struggles) of winter.

Why you may want to worry about winter

Even if you’re the biggest winter fanatic in the world — because who doesn’t love cozy sweaters and hot cocoa in front of the fireplace? — your house probably isn’t. There are plenty of not-so-great things about cold weather, and some of them could be causing trouble right under your nose.

Here are a few reasons why you may want to worry about winter, for your home’s sake:

  • New problems can appear suddenly.

Whether you live in a “snow up to your nose” climate or a “rain until May” climate, one thing’s for sure: a winter storm can cause new problems to arise out of nowhere. For example, snow piling up on your roof can cause leaks and other pricey problems, while heavy rain could flood your driveway and cause long-term damage — all before you’re ready to get out of your warm bed on a chilly day.

  • Little problems become a whole lot bigger.

If your home has any small but chronic issues, like a cracking chimney or poorly sealed windows, winter is about to put them right in the spotlight. A problem that didn’t seem like such a big deal during warmer weather can be exacerbated by even one day of snow, rain or ice. Suddenly, that “no big deal” problem has a huge impact on your comfort or budget — and it’s all thanks to Jack Frost and his buddies.

  • You may not catch issues in time.

Say something goes wrong with your home — like a cracked gutter — in the middle of winter. Between all those old autumn leaves (who has time to rake each one?) and the possibility of a whole lot of snow, you might not even notice that small crack until the spring. By then, you’ll have missed your window for budget-friendly repairs, and what could have been a quick, affordable fix is now a serious issue.

  • You put more strain on your home’s infrastructure.

You ask a lot of your home during cold weather, and even more during a big winter storm. For example, you put strain on your furnace, thermostat, HVAC system, hot water heater, plumbing and more — all in the interest of staying warm and toasty. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean your house needs to be in tip-top shape before that first snow or heavy rain blows in.

Preparing for winter

The good news about winter is that it doesn’t have to be the bad guy. With these winterization tips, you’ll be a pro at preparing home for winter — even if you’re reading this in the middle of summer.

Protecting pipes

According to the Chicago Tribune, freezing temperature for pipes is 32F — the same as it is for just about everything else. That means most winter weather comes with trouble for your home’s plumbing. Here are a few tips to protect those pipes:

  • Insulate. The areas where pipes travel — like basements or attics — are also the areas where insulation is at its weakest. You have a lot of options, including fiberglass, foam, mineral wool and more.
  • Keep your house warm. Even if you’re a fan of that chill, be kind to your home and make sure to keep things toasty. Warm air keeps your pipes safer during a hard freeze.
  • Vacation carefully. If you’re headed out on a winter getaway, turn off the water supply and drain the pipes before taking off. You can also pour antifreeze down drains for an extra level of protection.

Fortifying faucets

According to Austin Water, you should start fortifying outdoor faucets when temperatures are expected to be 28°F or below for at least four hours. To do this, you can do what’s called “dripping.” Let your faucets drip constantly to keep them from freezing. To keep from wasting water, aim for five drops per minute. You can also find outdoor faucet covers to protect from freezing damage or create your own using foam or newspaper.

Checking the chimney

Once that chill sets in, you’ll probably be eager to grab the firewood — which means your chimney needs to be ready for action. Sweep and clean the fireplace, chimney and surrounding areas to limit the risk of a fire, and make sure the chimney is clear to minimize carbon monoxide buildup in your home.

Addressing air filters

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an important part of preparing your home — and yourself — for winter is taking good care of your heating system. Have the system serviced regularly, and don’t forget to clean or replace the air filter for your furnace at least every 90 days.

Considering certifications

If you happen to be looking for a new home, you’re in a great position to set yourself up for a highly successful winter. You have the chance to choose a home that’s already prepared, fortified and free of any structural issues that would turn cold weather into a winter nightmare — and all you have to do is look for the Bungalo® Certification. You’ll rest easy knowing that no drafts or leaky pipes are going to turn your snow day into an “oh no” day.

How to save on energy costs in the dead of winter

Does all this cold weather talk have you reaching for the thermostat? If so, you may already be bracing for a high energy bill. However, there are a few ways to save on energy costs — even when the weather outside is frightful.

  • Double-check your insulation.

Remember how insulation can protect your pipes from cold weather? Well, turns out it’s pretty good at doing the same for you. Double-check insulation throughout your home to keep the chill where it belongs — outside.

  • Install a programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat gives you complete control over the temperature in your home. This device makes it simple and stress-free to decide where and how you’ll save on energy — and some of them even come with “smart” capabilities that give you advanced control, too.

  • Don’t go straight to the furnace.

If you’re worried about electricity costs, that furnace might not be your best friend. Instead, try warming up the old-fashioned way: blankets, hot drinks and a cozy wood fire — as long as your chimney has recently been cleaned, of course.  A wood fire also provides lighting (not to mention a dreamy ambiance), which means you can save on energy by turning off a few lights.

  • Know when electricity rates are highest (and lowest).

Electricity rates depend on demand — so when it’s cold out and everyone is racing to turn up the heat, you know your bill will be higher. The same goes for summer, when everyone’s trying to cool down — so knowing electricity habits in your area can help you know when it’s best to find alternative solutions.

  • Close the garage door.

A closed garage door keeps rain, snow and other winter conditions outside. That means warm air from your home will have fewer chances to escape — and water heaters or other garage appliances will be protected from the chill.

  • Check for air leaks and drafts.

A drafty window or a wall with an air leak basically means you’re paying to heat the outside. Before cold weather really sets in, take some time to check for these issues, especially in areas you usually don’t pay much attention to — like attics or crawlspaces.

The importance of homeowners insurance, especially during winter

Whether you’re buying a new home or protecting your current one, there’s a certain defense you can’t live without: homeowners insurance.

Homeowners insurance is your way of making sure you’re financially protected if something happens to your property. However, not everything is covered, so it’s important to read the fine print when you’re signing up for a new policy.

Here are a few winter weather hazards often covered by homeowners insurance:

  • Fire damage
  • Some types of water damage
  • Damage to outbuildings, including outdoor fireplaces
  • Extreme weather damage
  • Damage caused by falling trees

There are always exceptions — for example, if a pipe freezes and bursts due to lack of maintenance, homeowners insurance won’t cover the water damage. In general, you can count on homeowners insurance for extreme events, unexpected damage or anything you couldn’t have prepared for, while things the insurer considers “your fault” aren’t covered.

Also keep in mind that homeowners insurance is required for many mortgage and loan types — so be sure to do your research before buying or selling a home.

Find your paradise with Bungalo

Winter weather got you down? It might be time to start looking for warmer weather — or at least a warmer home — by searching Bungalo listings. You’ll find certified properties with all the guarantees and warranties necessary to keep you cozy through the long winter — and all at a price that will keep your budget cozy, too.

Ready to find your paradise? Start searching Bungalo homes today.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

So you’re ready to buy a home! Whether you’re looking to explore a new state or are just in need of a change of scenery, before you can hit the open houses comes one important first step: finding the right lender.

By working with a mortgage broker in advance, you can shorten the closing process on the other end of your home buying journey while also eliminating the chance of any unwanted surprises. Believe us: Nothing’s worse than finding out the home of your dreams is suddenly off the table due to a geographic or financial constraint.

Learn more about finding the right lender and how Bungalo® can help simplify the path to becoming a homeowner.

Finding a lender that is right for you

With so many lenders out there, it’s easy to suffer from choice overload. The good news is by learning to navigate each loan option like a pro, you’ll know how to shop around and get the best mortgage agreement possible.

As you begin your search for the right lender, your choices will all pretty much fall into two categories: government-backed or conventional.


Your first step in the loan application process is determining whether you’re eligible for a government-insured loan. Although these loans have more specific stipulations and could narrow your market options, they’re a great way to attain a lower mortgage rate and smaller down payment requirement:

  • VA loan: If you or your spouse has served in the armed forces, you may qualify for a loan from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Not only does the VA offer low interest rates, but if you qualify, you’ll be able to purchase without a down payment.

  • FHA loan: The Federal Housing Administration provides competitive loans with no minimum salary requirement. However, you will need a credit score of at least 500 and two years of employment history. Depending on your score you’ll only need a down payment of 3.5% to 10%.

  • USDA loan: These low-interest mortgages require no down payment and are designed for low- or single-income families. The only “catch” to this bargain? You’ll only be able to buy a home in a designated rural or suburban area.

If none of these scenarios apply to you, don’t stress. For those with higher credit scores, going with a private mortgage broker could lead to an even better deal.

Conventional loan

If this isn’t your first home-buying rodeo or you have an established credit history, this is likely the best route for you.

When you hear conventional, just think of your bank or any other financial institution. This traditional type of mortgage loan is an agreement between you and a private business, featuring a payment plan typically centered on a fixed-rate mortgage.

Before we get into the pros, let’s break down some of the cons of going conventional: It’ll require a bigger down payment, a higher credit score and a lower debt-to-income ratio.

If that list made you cringe, take a breath.

Ready to keep going?

OK. So with all of that said, going the conventional route has plenty of benefits despite those somewhat daunting requirements. It can help minimize the paperwork involved on your end compared to a government loan, leading to a faster underwriting process. Plus, if you’re looking to shop around, you have no shortage of private loan types and sizes.

Compare the quotes each mortgage broker provides. Rank your choices based on the loan term in years, the interest rate and your total monthly payment. By going with the shortest loan term available you’ll be on the quickest path to becoming debt free.

The good news is that once you’ve put in the work and found the lender of your choice, Bungalo is happy to work with whichever institution makes the most sense for you.

Improving your chances for loan approval

No one loves hearing the word “no,” so how can you avoid it when it comes time to apply for your loan?

There’s no magic formula that ensures approval 10 out of 10 times, but there are some steps you can take to help ensure you get the answer you’re hoping for:

  • Credit score: While government-insured loans have lower credit requirements, most private ones ask for a score of 620 or more. We recommend checking the National Association of Realtors’ guide on how your score is calculated to understand how you can make the biggest impact on your standing.

  • Debt-to-income ratio: A mortgage company will compare your debt to your income to determine whether you can manage additional monthly payments. The Consumer Financial Bureau recommends getting your debt down to 43% of your income — or as low as possible — to qualify for a loan.

  • Down payment: Go big or go home, right? Offering a larger down payment will help reduce your loan-to-value ratio, giving you a better chance of approval.

Once you hear those magic words — “you’re approved” — it’s time to lock down your loan rate. Rates fluctuate with the market, and typically your lock-in lasts anywhere from two weeks to three months. If you’re getting pre-approved for your home loan fairly far in advance, keeping an on the market and monitoring how rates are changing will help ensure you get the best one possible.

What to be mindful about when selecting a mortgage lender?

All brokers are not created equal. We mentioned this earlier, but step one is to collect multiple quotes to compare rates and get a clear understanding of the lending landscape.

Step two requires a little bit of detective work.

Before meeting with your mortgage lender, do some research online to see if you can find the following information:

  • Do they require a demand feature agreement? If yes, that means the lender can ask at any time that you immediately pay your entire loan balance.

  • Do they offer a down payment assistance (DPA) loan program? An eligible first-time homebuyer may be able to receive DPA, reducing the amount you need to save for a down payment.

  • What are their closing fees? Lender fees are one of those sneaky expenses that can quickly inflate your total closing costs on the other end of buying a home. Every institution’s total cost for closing will vary, so be sure to factor that in during your lender interview process.

If the answers to these questions aren’t readily available, feel free to bring them up when you meet in-person or over the phone. Additionally, you’ll also want to look into the variety of mortgage products your broker offers, the ease of their application process and any available customer reviews online.

As a borrower, it’s important to not let yourself worry about one or two bad reviews. An influx of negative reviews over a recent period of time, however, should raise some red flags. Don’t be afraid to ask your loan officer about these reviews during one of your conversations and see what (if anything) their organization is doing to right the situation. 

Key questions to ask when deciding on a lender

As you interview multiple lenders, you’re free to ask as many questions as you want. While it’s important to comb through the paperwork before you sign on the dotted line, getting these answers early on can save you some serious headaches:

  • What is your current mortgage interest rate? As we mentioned above, locking in a low interest rate can help minimize your total loan payment for the duration of your mortgage.

  • How much time does it take to complete a mortgage? Typically, mortgage agreements last for about 25 to 30 years. Although longer-term mortgages cost less per month, shorter terms can help you pay off the balance that much quicker.

  • How long are your turnaround times on pre-approval, appraisal and closing? One of the biggest surprises first time buyers encounter is just how long it takes to fully close on the home. By getting a clear understanding of what the process looks like for each lender, you won’t be left in the dark waiting for move-in day.

If anything doesn’t feel right or you’re uncomfortable with the terms laid out by a potential lender, always feel free to keep looking. Considering the length of most mortgages, it seriously pays off to take the time to ensure you’re fully confident in your decision.

Getting started on your homeownership journey

With your pre-approval letter in hand, it’s time to find the home of your dreams!

At Bungalo, we understand that the path to homeownership isn’t always clear one. That’s why we do everything we can to simplify each step, from working with the financial lender of your choice to getting you into one of our certified homes that’s been inspected by an expert.

Once you’ve put in the research and connected with a lender, the fun part becomes: picking out your future home. Learn more about finding the right home at our blog.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.