Real Vs. Fake Christmas Trees

I don’t know about you but I am so excited that we are finally getting so close to Christmas! 2020 has been a rough year, so I’m glad it’s almost over, but at the same time I just love Christmas. I love the cheesy holiday movies, good food, visiting with my family, and decorating! When I was little we always got a real tree. I loved going to a Christmas tree farm and finding the perfect tree, and the smell of pine in our house all season long. As an adult, we go with a fake tree because we simply like the convenience of having last year’s tree already here and we use pine scent to replace the real thing. Honestly we aren’t feeling like we are missing out on anything this way.

If you are trying to decide which to go with for this Christmas, the article below will help.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

© Copyright 2020 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

When I was little we always got a real tree. I loved going to a Christmas tree farm and finding the perfect tree...

So which will your family go with this year? Real or fake? Comment your choice below!

35 Money-Saving Household Habits

By: Amy Howell Hirt

Published: May 16, 2019

Adopt a few of these home tips to find a bit more cash each month.

Your house gives you so much: security, pride, shelter. With all that on the line, it’s easy to assume the costs of keeping it up just are what they are. But wait. There are plenty of expenses that are simply a waste.

Here’s how to save money each month without putting a dime of home value at risk.

#1 Clean Your Light Bulbs

What? Who does that? Well, smart people (who want to about shrewd, small ways to save money). A dirty bulb emits 30% less light than a clean one. Dust off both the bulb and fixture, and you might be able to cut back on the number or brightness of lights in each room without noticing any difference.

#2 Keep Your Fridge Full

Solid items snuggled together retain the cold better than air and help keep each other cold — requiring less energy overall. Leaving town for awhile and fridge is empty? Fill voids in the fridge or freezer with water bottles.

#3 Switch Your Bulbs to LEDs

By replacing just five of your most-used incandescent bulbs with uber-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, you could save $75 a year on your energy bill.

And LEDs last 15 to 20 times longer than incandescents, so you won’t have to replace them nearly as often.

#4 Use Power Strips

Here’s how to save money on bills — a lot of it. Appliances like coffee makers, TVs, and computers continue to suck power even when they’re off — which can cost you $100 a year. And did you know the AC adapter for your laptop keeps drawing power even if the laptop isn’t plugged in? Stop this slow money burn by connecting them to an easy-to-switch-off power strip.

#5 Use a Toaster Oven When Possible

Toaster ovens use 50% to 70% less energy than a full-size oven.

#6 Set Your Water Heater to 120 Degrees

Hot water heaters often come with a factory setting that’s higher than you need. You’ll cool your water heating costs by 3% to 5% every time you lower the temperature setting by 10 degrees.

#7 Insulate Your Water Heater

For $30 or less, an insulating jacket or blanket can shave 7% to 16% off your water heating costs for the year. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions to avoid creating a fire hazard.

#8 Wash Clothes in Cold Water

Just switching from hot to warm water will cut every load’s energy use in half, and you’ll reap even more savings taking the temp down to cold. And don’t worry: Your clothes will get just as clean from cold water, thanks to the efficiency of today’s detergents (except in the case of sickness; you’ll want hot water and bleach then).

#9 Use the Right Dryer Cycle

If you’re using a high-heat setting for each load, you could be using more energy than you need. Almost all fabrics can be dried with a lower heat setting, such as the permanent press setting. It uses less energy and has the added bonus of extending the life of your fabrics. Save the higher heat for items such as sheets and towels.

#10 Use Homemade Cleaners

Many commercial products rely on baking soda or vinegar for their cleaning power, so why not make your own? Most homemade cleaners cost less than $1.

#11 Cut Back on Laundry Detergent

Never mind the barely visible measurement lines in the cap: You typically only need a tablespoon of detergent. And, clothes actually get cleaner when you use less, because there’s no soap residue left behind.

#12 Ditch Disposable Sweeper and Mop Head

Stop throwing money away every time you clean! Refill your Swiffer Sweeper with microfiber cloths. Just cut to size and use them dry for dusting or with a little water and floor cleaner for mopping. Or switch to a microfiber mop with a washable head.

#13 Stop Buying Dryer Sheets

Another easy swap? Give up your dryer-sheet habit (about $7 for 240 loads) in favor of wool dryer balls (about $10 for six, which last more than 500 loads each). Of course, depending on your laundry preferences, you can always just go without either.

#14 Cut Scouring Pads In Half

Most clean-ups don’t require a full one.

#15 Don’t Rinse Dishes

Two minutes of rinsing with the faucet on full-power will consume 5 gallons of water — the same amount efficient dishwashers use during an entire cycle. Shocking, right? And it’s an unnecessary step, since most newer models are equipped to remove even stubborn food debris. Just be sure to clean the dishwasher trap regularly to keep your dishwasher running efficiently.

#16 Keep a Pitcher of Water in the Fridge

You won’t have to waste time and money running the faucet, waiting for it to get cold enough for a refreshing sip.

#17 Set a Timer for the Shower

The average American takes an eight-minute shower and uses about 17 gallons of water. It’s easy to linger, so set a timer for five minutes. Or try this more entertaining idea: Time your shower to a song or podcast segment.

#18 Install Low-Flow Fixtures

In addition to water-conserving practices, low-flow showerheads, which cost less than $10, and other fixtures can drop your water use in the shower by 43%.

#19 Hack a Water-Hogging Toilet

If you don’t have a water-conserving toilet, there are water-saving retrofitting kits that could yield about $110 in savings every year. Or place a half-gallon milk jug filled with water into the tank — in the corner and away from the flapper and ball-cock assembly. Every time you flush, you’ll save.

#20 Close Closet Doors

Each closet and pantry may hold a paltry amount of square footage, but you’re still heating and cooling it. Add up all the storage space, and you’ve got the equivalent of a small room. Shut the doors to keep the conditioned air out.

#21 Program the Thermostat

Program your thermostat to turn the heat down by 3 to 5 degrees when you’re not home and at night, and set it to bump the temperature up by the same amount when the A/C is cranking. You’ll save $10 to $20 a month and never feel the difference.

#22 Don’t Crank the Thermostat Up or Down Too Far

Varying the setting by 10 or more degrees when you’re gone for work or over the weekend is overkill. Your HVAC system will have to work overtime to get back to the ideal temperature, erasing your savings.

#23 Use Fans Year-Round

Ceiling fans can reduce your summer cooling costs and even reduce winter heating bills — but only if used correctly. Flip the switch on the base to make the blades rotate counterclockwise for a cooling effect or clockwise to help distribute heat in the winter. And in the warmer months, an attic or whole-house fan can suck hot air out and help distribute cooler air so you can give the A/C a little break.

#24 Caulk or Weatherstrip Around Doors and Windows

Caulk may not have the charisma of something like solar panels, but using it to seal air leaks around doors and windows will deliver immediate savings rather than a 14-year payback. You’ll spend $3 to $30 and save 10% to 20% on energy bills.

For gaps between moving parts that can’t be caulked, add weatherstripping.

#25 Add Insulation

This is a bigger weatherizing project than caulking or weatherstripping, but it could yield more than $500 in yearly savings. While your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to the foundation, prioritize the attic, under floors above unheated spaces, around walls in a heated basement and in exterior walls.

#26 Plant Shade Trees

Block the summer sun to lower cooling costs. Planting one shade tree on the west side and one on the east side of your home can shield your home from the sun during the summer months (but avoid south-side trees, which block winter sun). By the time they’re 15 years old, these two trees can reduce your energy bill by 22% , while adding value to your home.

#27 Use Curtains as Insulation

Another way to practice energy-saving passive heating and cooling? Open curtains on sunny windows in the winter and close them up in the summer.

#28 Cool with a Cross Breeze

On a breezy day, open a window on the side of your house that’s receiving the breeze, then open another on the opposite side of the house. Make sure the window on the receiving side is open a little less than the exhaust side to accelerate the breeze. You can also use a fan if there’s no breeze outside.

#29 Check Your Mortgage’s PMI

If your mortgage was for more than 80% of your home’s purchase price, you could be paying more than $50 a month, and as much as $1,000 a year, for private mortgage insurance (PMI). So as soon as you have at least 20% equity in your home, contact your lender to terminate the policy — they aren’t necessarily required to notify you when you reach that threshold.

Another option for ditching PMI? If your credit score or debt load has improved since securing your mortgage, look into refinancing with more favorable terms.

#30 Check Your Home Insurance for Savings

Your homeowners insurance should change as your life changes. Buying an automatic generator or installing security alarms could reduce your premium by 5% or more.

Bundling your home and auto coverage could save even more — up to 20% off both policies. But the point is to compare and do a price check to see if you can save.

Surveys have found you could be paying a lot more than what another insurer would charge for the same coverage. So you could save by going with a new company, or by using their quote to bargain with your current provider.

#31 Borrow Tools Instead of Buying

How often are you going to use that $600 demolition hammer once you remove your bathroom tile? Not so much? Rent it from a home-improvement store for a fraction of the cost. Be sure to do the math for each tool and project though; sometimes the rental price is high enough to justify buying it.

Or join a tool lending library or cooperative to borrow tools for free or much less than retail stores.

#32 Cut Back on Paper Towels

Two rolls of paper towels a week add up to about $182 every year! Instead, try machine-washable cotton shop towels. They clean up messes just as fast and cost less than $2 for five. Save paper towels for messes that need to go straight into the trash, like oil and grease.

#33 Stop Buying Plants for Curb Appeal Every Year

A pop of color in your landscaping perks up your curb appeal. But instead of wasting household funds on short-lived annuals, invest in perennials that will keep giving for years to come.

#34 Water Grass in the Morning to Save on Your Water Bill

Turning the sprinkler on at midday is kinda like watering the air — especially when the mercury soars. Lose less to evaporation by watering during cooler hours (but avoid overnight watering, when too-slow evaporation can invite fungus growth).

#35 Make Your Yard Drought-Tolerant for Long-Term Savings

Save $100 or more yearly by replacing water-hogging plants and grass with drought-tolerant and native species, and beds of rock or gravel. You’ll save time on maintenance, too.

Roadtrip! Apples and Houses and Pizza…Oh My

My realtor partner, Sherry and I drove up to Ellijay, GA for some apple pie and to see a new construction property. It was just a bonus that our clients treated us to some good Pizza and great company before we headed back home. You can watch it here (just try to ignore the typo in my thumbnail. 🙄):

13 Kitchen Spots You Need to Clean Before the Stench Hits You

Article From HouseLogic.com

By: Stacey Freed
Published: June 23, 2017

Kitchen cleaning tips so you’ll never be embarrassed by cooking odors.

You love, love, love cooking in your very own kitchen. It’s the kitchen of your dreams, where you can crank up the tunes while trying out that teriyaki recipe you saw in a “Tasty” video.

 And it’s tons more fun if you’ve got guests coming over. You love to greet them with the aroma of something delicious. But what if instead of smelling teriyaki, your guests smell something else? Some lingering, foul odor from meals long gone? It happens — especially if you cook often. Don’t let stale, icky cooking odors ruin your dinner party. Give these kitchen spots a good detox treatment, so stinky smells won’t have a place to feed.

 #1 Disposal Flaps: Scrub Those Suckers

 Flip the flaps in your disposal and prepare to be as grossed out as a sixth-grader in health class. Yucky slime left over from food proteins line the flaps, treating you to a greasy and grimy stink.”Use a small brush, even a toothbrush, and scrub them clean with hot, soapy water,” says Donna Smallin Kuper, author of several books including “Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness: One-Minute Tips for Decluttering and Refreshing Your Home and Your Life.” While you’re down there, clean the disposal itself by sending down three or four ice cubes, a handful of kosher salt, and hot water. Don’t forget the drain side of the sink. Pull out food bits and scrub the drain with that toothbrush again. And then, OMG, throw it out. Or clearly label it “drain brush” and store faaaaar away from your real toothbrush.

 #2 Faucet and Sink: Cleanse the Crevices

 If you’ve got a lever handle on your sink faucet, lift it and look down. All around that nice ball joint is lovely brown slime. No big deal, that’s just where you get your drinking water. Deep breath. You can get the gunk in one swipe with a paper towel dampened with a degreaser or some vinegar and water. Then keep hunting. The crevices at the base of the faucet, around the soap dispenser, and around the edge of the sink are all gunk magnets.

 #3 Range: Sideswipe Food Spillage

“You probably have dinner for six spilling down the sides of your range,” says Jan Dougherty, author of “The Lost Art of House Cleaning: A Clean House Is a Happy Home.” It’s gummy. It’s gaggy. It’s stinky. She suggests using Krud Kutter, an all-purpose, non-toxic, odorless de-greaser, mixing 5 parts water to 1 part Krud Kutter. The same solution or another good, non-toxic degreaser like Force of Nature can also clean your cabinet walls or whatever else is in splatter distance of your stove.

 #4 Stove Vent Filter: Boil It Clean

 While you’re at the stove, force yourself to really look at the range hood filter or pop-up vent filter. After the obligatory “ewww,” vow to clean the filter every month at least, depending on how much you cook, Smallin Kuper says. All the grease stuck to it makes a hell of a bouquet. Remove the filter, shake it out, and wash it in hot, soapy water. Or, if it’s extra grimy, put it in boiling water with ? cup baking soda.

 #5 Stove Knobs: Remove to Reveal the Gunk

 In horror movies, the monster is always hiding behind a harmless-looking door. On your stove, your otherwise clean knobs are the stink monster’s hideout. Remove the knobs and soak them in hot, soapy water, or just toss them in the dishwasher. The real anti-smell work is cleaning underneath the slim rubber gasket behind the knob. Sing, “If you liked it, then you should have cleaned your ring on it,” to keep from gagging over the ring of brown gunk. Wipe it away with a damp cloth, replace the gasket, and keep singing.

 #6 Oven: Use Liners for No Grease Stink

 Why do your fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies smell vaguely like chicken? That would be from last week’s roaster juices that bubbled over onto the bottom of the oven. YUM. In addition to making your cookies non-vegetarian, the gooey stuff on the bottom of your oven will smoke and stink up the joint. In an ideal world — and who lives there? — you’d clean the oven after every use. (Try a paste of equal parts vinegar and baking soda.) In reality, you can avoid the problem by using silicone oven liners. When they get dirty, let them cool. Then wash with warm, soapy water.

 #7 Dishwasher Door: Wipe the Reek Off the Rim

 How can cleaning machines get so dang dirty? The inside of your dishwasher should, actually, be clean — as long as you get rid of large food particles before you wash your dishes. But it’s likely that grime will lurk along the edges of the inside of the door and on the gasket. Grab a rag and clean it off with hot, soapy water. A quick swipe with every unload will prevent the build-up.

 #8 Fridge Vent Grill: Suck Out the Smelly Stuff

 Dust, cooties, pet hair, dander, and bits of food all get sucked into the vent below your fridge. This could all be a source of odor. Pull off the grate (it usually comes off quite easily with a gentle tug), vacuum under the fridge, and clean the vent grill in hot, soapy water. More clean, less stink, and (bonus!) the less stuff on the grill, the easier it is for your fridge to cool your food.

 #9 Fridge Drip Pan: Find It, De-Gross It

 There’s a drip pan under your fridge. So that’s good to know. And water and food spillage that gets into it, plus hot, humid weather can equal a gross, moldy cocktail. You can nip it in the bud by wiping out the moisture and spraying the pan with a hydrogen peroxide solution (1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide in 1 cup water). Wipe clean with a rag soaked in white vinegar. Also, you’ll want to check the floor beneath the pan and keep it clean, too.

 #10 Cabinets: Do a 360 De-Griming

 You may have cleaned up that spattered spaghetti sauce off your backsplash tile, but bend down and look at the underside of your kitchen cabinets. Do it on an empty stomach, lest you yack on your counters. Give it a degreasing, and then a regular wipe-down to keep build-up at bay. After going low, go high: Cooking fumes rise and come down on cabinets doors’ top edges and fronts. “Scrape the leading edge of the cabinet door with a fingernail and see how much slime peels off,” Dougherty says. And after adding that to your wipe-down routine, go ahead and schedule a manicure. You’ve earned it.

 #11 Cabinet Floors and Oils: Keep ‘Em Separated

 Coconut oil. Truffle oil. Olive oil. Peanut oil. Grapeseed oil. You’re the Exxon/Mobil of cooking oil options, and now your cabinet shelves are shiny and possibly starting to smell not so delightful. Clean the shelving with hot, soapy water and wipe down all the bottles. Then keep the bottles off the wood by using the lids of old plastic containers as coasters, recommends Smallin Kuper, or use a sturdy bin in your cabinet to contain them.

 #12 Toe Kicks: Wipe Away Smells From Below

 Find a small child or get down on your knees: You cleaned up a sauce spill two days ago, but — whoops! — the wipe-up didn’t extend to the kickboards. There it is, along with a variety of splotches from other recent meals. Scrub the boards clean with hot, soapy water, and resolve to be less klutzy so you won’t have to do this more than once a year.

 #13 High Cabinets: Line Tops With Paper Towels  Thank goodness most visitors aren’t 7 feet tall. Those hanging cabinets exposed at the top and showcasing your tchotchkes are full of grease and grime — which will eventually add a nasty perfume to your kitchen — along with dust, dead bugs, and anything else floating in the air. Just what you want lingering right above your cookspace. But how’s this for handy? A roll of paper towels is the same width as your cabinets. So after you clean the grease from your valuables and the top of the cabinets, roll out a line of paper. Toss it, and replace with a fresh batch whenever your very tall friends are coming by. Or, at least once a year.

Kids’ Rooms: Storage Solutions for Every Age

Article From HouseLogic.com

By: Jan Soults Walker
Published: August 18, 2016

From babies who adore you to teens who ignore you, kids change — and so do their storage needs.

Here’s how to organize kids’ rooms from cradle to college.

 Cradle Crawlers

 Transformer cribs. An ordinary crib accommodates baby for two to three years — until he learns how to escape over the rail. Boost storage with a convertible crib with storage drawers ($145 to $350) that’ll convert and adapt to your toddler’s needs and beyond. Some convertible cribs change into toddler beds, daybeds, or full-size headboards, giving you options as your youngster gets older. If you can’t find a crib with storage below, use the space between the legs for stowing bins or baskets for diapers, toys, and more. Pimping the closet. Remove the door on the nursery closet for easy access, and install a variety of cool storage features. Drawers, bins, and shelves can round up onesies, booties, baby towels, diapers, and toiletries. A simple wire rack storage system is $90 to $350 at home improvement centers. Install lower rods so baby, as he grows, can easily latch onto duds (and maybe even hang them up). Expandable hangers ($14 for a 3-pack) fit tiny baby clothes but open up to accommodate larger sizes when needed.

 Toddlers and Elementary Age

 Look ?em in the eye. Stow books and puzzles on a low magazine rack or shelving unit so toddlers and elementary-age children can grab a good read or brain teaser on a whim. As children grow, paint the shelf to suit changing tastes and use it for teen magazines, framed photos, and school books. Cornering the market. Young kids love nooks, so create a cozy hideaway by arranging storage units — open shelves, a desk top, and cabinets — so they (mostly) enclose one corner of your kid’s room. Bookshelves and kids’ desks range from $50 to $200. Stock up with plenty of games, books, toys, and crafts supplies. Paint cabinet doors with blackboard paint to add an eye-level creative opportunity. Corral the bling. Little girls often possess a cartload of hair ribbons, barrettes, and bows. Look for special organizers that keep them on display, orderly, and within easy reach. One option: Sort items into the pockets of a clear vinyl shoe holder ($10) that fits on the back of the door.

 Tweens, Teens, and Beyond

 A magnetic personality. A bulletin board is a great way for your tween or teen to organize and display all those photos of friends and Fido. Or, coat a vertical surface (such as a closet door) with magnetizing primer ($25/quart) and paint over the primer with a hip color. Use assorted magnets and magnetic clips and holders to display artwork, sports schedules, and homework reminders. Making a (book)case. A bookcase headboard ($100 to $200) is a grown-up way for your teen or college student to keep reading materials organized and the tablet reader handy. Platform storage beneath the bed provides room for drawers or cubbies that can hold baskets and bins for corralling small stuff. Explore the shallows. Commandeer space between wall studs and create a shallow storage niche outfitted with hooks, shelves, or rods for organizing jewelry and other smallish gear. Add a mirrored door to keep clutter out of sight. Lofty ambitions. For a small bedroom, a loft-style bed offers a fun spot for snoozing and space below for bookcase storage, a futon, or a study desk. Loft beds for kids’ rooms start at $150 and range to $3,000 or more. Keep rolling. Give your tween or teen a rolling caddy ($25 to $80) for storing personal bath supplies, jewelry, cosmetics, and hair gear. The caddy stores in the bedroom and rolls to a nearby bath and back.

7 Tips for Staging Your Home

Hello! I hope you are enjoying this fall weather and getting out after this long summer hibernation” from Covid-19. If you are not sure what there is to do, Check out my previous post about things to do here in north Georgia this month!

This sunday is Clergy Appreciation day and I want to do a shoutout to our pastors Kevin Lobello and Al Cunningham of our awesome church in Cartersville, Sam Jones Memorial United Methodist. We love you!

This Monday is Columbus Day! If you get a little time of from work, and are thinking of selling your home, then you may have considered what it may involve to properly staging your home so that you can get your home ready to make the BEST FIRST IMPRESSION to buyers looking in your area. the link to the article below will help you with seven great tips.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

© Copyright 2020 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Some brokers include professional staging services as part of their listing package and at no additional cost to the seller. But if you prefer to do this yourself, I hope these tips will help you. Is there any information you would like more details about? Let me know in the comments below.

Do you need help decluttering and organizing your kid’s rooms? Stay tuned for next week’s post “Kids Rooms: Storage Solutions for Every Age”.

3 Things to do in Georgia This October!

Fall is my favorite season every year. I love the changing leaves, the smell of hot apple cider, and the scary movies. Are you looking for a fun family attraction? I have compiled a list of some of the best attractions in our next of the woods.

Pumpkin Patch at Copper Creek

Copper Creek farms is always a great place to visit. Their sunflowers in the summer, and their pumpkin patch in the fall are a couple of my favorites. They have a Wagon hayride, giant corn maze, cowboy dingers, choose a mini pumpkin, kiddie corn maze, petting barn, pig races, bunnyville, duck races, monster pumpkin cannon, barnloft slide, barn ball boxes, milking cows, steer roping, corn pit, honey bee barn, animated chicken show, chalk on the farm, giant jumping pillow, and help solve a bigfoot mystery.

If you love haunted houses, this may be the one for you! Dubbed “NW Georgia’s SCARIEST Haunted House”, this haunted house features in 2020 Manor, a haunted estate, Asylum ’67, and Midway of Mayhem, horror-themed carnival games.

If Music is your jam, then Rome River Jam might be right for you! Featuring artists such as Hardy, Jon Langston, Ashland Craft, Hunter Chastain, and DJ Rock, this event will be October 9th and 10th.

What are you looking forward to this October? Share it with me below. Follow me on my FB page and Instagram for more info about local events as well as home buying and selling tips!

Happy Fall!

Sharon 🙂

What Is the Best Time to Buy a House?

Article From HouseLogic.com

By: Daniel Bortz
Published: April 18, 2019

Sure, you can consider market conditions. But when to buy a house is really all about you.

Timing determines so much when you’re buying a house. Although the best time to buy a house is when you’re ready both financially and emotionally, there are other factors that can help you decide when to buy a house.

Timing determines so much when you’re buying a house. Although the best time to buy a house is when you’re ready both financially and emotionally, there are other factors that can help you decide when to buy a house.

 By timing your purchase just right, you can nab a great home that’s just right for you.

 What Is the Best Month to Buy a House?

 Let’s make this clear: There’s no such thing as a guaranteed “best month” to purchase a home. (C’mon, we never said this would be easy!)

 While some conventional wisdom says there is a best time of year to buy a house — during spring home buying season (April to June) — there are pluses and minuses when it comes to what month you choose to purchase a home.

 (Note: Real estate is local. Determining a best time utlimately depends on conditions in your local market.)

 Here we’ve outlined some of the reasons different months can turn out to be the best time to buy a house for you:

 January to March. Winter isn’t such a bad time to buy a house. Though there’s less inventory — meaning there are fewer homes for sale — there are fewer home buyers too, so you have less competition. That means there’s a lower likelihood of a bidding war, which can be a stressful experience for home buyers. Another benefit of buying a house during the cold-weather months: Home prices are typically the lowest they’ll be all year.

 Still, there are drawbacks to buying a house between January and March. Inclement weather can also be a challenge, since snow or ice could make it difficult to drive around and view homes or do a thorough home inspection of some elements, such as a roof.

 April to June. Welcome to spring home buying season– the peak months for not only housing supply, but also the number of home buyers shopping for houses. Because most families want to move when the kids are out of school, there’s a big incentive to buy a house this time of year, since many home buyers need to allow 30 to 60 days for closing.

 The warmer weather also makes open houses more enjoyable, landscaping easier to evaluate, and inspections more comprehensive.

 Even though it’s generally regarded as the best time of year to buy a house, there are downsides to the spring market. For starters, you’ll face more competition from other home buyers — meaning you have to move quickly when a great listing hits the market. Bidding wars are a lot more common, you tend to have less negotiating power, and home prices tend to tick up during spring.

 July to September. If you can handle the heat (and a little competition), summer may be the one of the best times of year to buy. Now that the spring home buying craze is over, most home prices return to normal, allowing you to save some money. The sunniest time of the year also makes being outdoors and attending open houses more enjoyable.

 The hot temperatures also give home buyers the opportunity to test how well a property’s air conditioning system holds up in warm weather, which is something they can’t usually test during other times of the year.

 October to December. The main downside of buying a house in autumn is that there may not be as many homes for sale in the fall as there are in the spring. But it’s not like the market goes completely quiet.

 Many home buyers consider fall the best time of year to buy a house because of price reductions. Because home sellers tend to list their homes in the spring, sellers whose houses haven’t sold yet may be motivated to find buyers, and prices start to reflect that.

 Is 2019 a Good Year to Buy a House?

 Economic forecasts vary every year, but waiting around for annual market fluctuations isn’t the best way to decide when to buy a house. The best year to buy a house is when you and anyone you intend to buy a house with are ready.

 To help, complete this home buying worksheet with your home buying partner to help determine if now is the best time to buy a house you can reasonably afford in the location you want. Then take your worksheet to a REALTOR? and discuss your options.

 Why doesn’t the year matter much? The housing market and your local real estate market do change, but they tend to change gradually. Even if waiting a couple of years for those factors to change can save you a bit of money, the bigger question is how much more money you could gain in equity by owning a home during those two years.

 While everyone’s financial situation will be different deciding when to buy a house is mostly about the timing that is best for you, not when the market is perfect.

 Are Interest Rates Good in 2019?

 Many home buyers try to time the market by monitoring mortgage rate changes with the hopes of pouncing on a remarkably low rate. But interest rates are like the stock market — no one has a crystal ball that can accurately predict when rates will rise or fall.

 Plus, what’s considered a good interest rate is relative. Interest rates today are low compared to what they were 20 to 30 years ago. Mortgage rates reached an all-time high of 18.45% in 1981, as the U.S. Federal Reserve drove up rates in an effort to counteract double-digital inflation. By the end of the 1980s, though, mortgage rates had finally crept below 10%.

 Interest rates continued to decrease over the 1990s and 2000s. Today, mortgage rates are at historic lows.

 Market interest rates are just one part of how affordable a house will be for you at any given time. Your credit score, for example, helps to determine the interest rate a mortgage lender will offer you.

 Then, fluctuations in property taxes and homeowner’s insurance can affect overall home ownership costs as much as changes in interest rates can. So overall, current interest rates play a pretty small role in the best time to buy a house for you.

 Does 2019’s Economy Support Home Buying?

 Economic conditions are different from region to region and even from one ZIP code to another in the same city, so whether this year is the best time to buy a house can depend on where you are.

 One tool you can use to assess the state of your local housing market is realtor.com?’s Market Hotness Index, which tracks home sales and home buyer activity across the country. In addition, the National Association of REALTORS? (NAR) measures monthly single-family home sales in the four major U.S. regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West).

 Still, nothing beats having a savvy real estate agent in your corner to gauge the local market for the best time to buy a house. After all, the right agent knows your local housing market down to the neighborhoods — and can help you interpret the raw housing market data to help you time your home purchase well.

 When Is the Best Time in Your Life to Buy a House?

 There’s no magical age or life stage at which you’ll know for sure exactly when to buy a house. There are, however, a few factors you’ll want to take into account.

 Finances. How’s your credit score? Can you afford to take on a monthly mortgage payment? Do you have enough cash to pay for a down payment and closing costs? Sit down with a mortgage lender who can help you evaluate your finances.

 You’ll also need to budget for home maintenance expenses. One rule of thumb says homeowners should set aside 1% to 3% of their home’s purchase price a year for home maintenance and repairs. So, if your home cost $400,000, you’d set aside at least $4,000 annually. (Doing preventative maintenance, however, can go a long way toward staving off expensive repairs.)

 Stability. If you’re on solid ground financially, with a stable job to support you, buying a home can be a way to lower your monthly housing costs (real talk: Owning is often cheaper than renting in some cities), gain a valuable financial asset, and, if you itemize, reap some tax benefits.

 If you’re ready to commit to a home and city (and your job) for a few years, you’re probably in a stable enough situation to be a homeowner.

 Lifestyle: Owning a house allows you to develop a strong relationship with a local community. Buying a home should align with your life goals. If you’re starting a family soon, planting your roots in a kid-friendly neighborhood with a great school district is usually a good reason to buy a house.

 There’s also something to be said about the pride of owning a home and having a place you can call yours — one that you can customize to your heart’s desire.

 Should You Buy or Rent?

 To rent or to buy a home — it’s a common conundrum. Often this is the core financial decision potential home buyers wrestle with when deciding when to buy a house. To sort it out, start with your exit plan.

 If you expect to be moving within the next couple of years, you probably should rent. Why? Because the general rule is it only makes sense to buy if you plan to stay in the home for at least two to three years.

 Likewise, if you’re not ready to take on the maintenance responsibilities of being a homeowner, or aren’t ready to commit to a particular community right now, renting an apartment likely makes more sense than buying a home.

 The local housing market is also a factor in the decision to buy or rent. In some cities, renting can be cheaper than owning, though price appreciation often brings wealth to buyers. Therefore, the financial benefits of owning a home and gaining equity over time is a better way to spend your money than forking it over to a landlord.

 Investing vs. Living

 The best time to buy a house for the first time is generally when you’re ready to live there long term. Long term, real estate can be a lucrative path towards financial success, particularly if you can nab a low interest rate in the right housing market.

 But a lot of factors go into whether buying an investment property is the right move for you, including how much risk you can tolerate and the local economy.

 Generally, it’s smart to consider your first home purchase all about you. It’s about investing in a place you can make your own and live your life day to day.

 The moral? There’s nothing quite like home ownership. While not everyone is ready for it, if you’ve determined the best time to buy a house is right now, it can be the beginning of the most satisfying journey of your life.