Stephanie Payab - Encino, CA Real Estate, Tarzana, CA Real Estate, Sherman Oaks, CA Real Estate


Want to buy a house for the first time? Create a budget, and you can move one step closer to transforming your homebuying dream into a reality.

Now, let's take a look at three budgeting tips that every first-time homebuyer needs to know.

1. Don't Wait to Start Saving for a Down Payment

In most instances, a down payment on a home ranges from 5 percent to 20 percent. With a large down payment, you may be able to reduce your monthly mortgage expenses.

A lender may be more willing to provide you with a favorable mortgage if you can afford an above-average down payment. This means if you have plenty of money for a down payment, you could save money over the life of your mortgage.

2. Take a Look at Your Outstanding Debt

Student loan charges, credit card bills and other outstanding debt may make it tough for you to get the financing that you need to buy a house. Fortunately, if you pay down your outstanding debt as much as possible, you can boost your chances of buying your dream house.

Evaluate your current spending and make cuts if possible. For example, if you dine out several times a week, it may be more cost-effective to buy groceries and cook your own meals. Then, you'll have extra money that you can use to pay off outstanding debt and save for a house.

3. Understand Your Credit Score

Do you know your credit score? If not, you may be missing out on opportunities to eliminate outstanding debt and increase your home savings.

You are eligible for a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can receive insights into your credit score.

If you obtain your free credit reports and find outstanding debt, you should try to pay off this debt sooner rather than later. Because the longer that you wait to pay off outstanding debt, the longer it may take you to acquire your ideal residence.

Furthermore, if you discover errors on a credit report, contact the reporting bureau immediately. This will enable you to fix any report errors before you get a mortgage.

If you need additional assistance as you map out a homebuying budget, it often pays to collaborate with a bank or credit union. In addition to providing you with multiple mortgage options, a lender will offer expert recommendations to help you budget for your first home purchase.

Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional is happy to help you get in touch with the best lenders in your area. And when you're ready to kick off your inaugural homebuying journey, a real estate agent can provide you with the support you need, precisely when you need it.

Use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish an effective homebuying budget.


Moving into a new home is an exciting time. As you look at each potential house you imagine yourself living your life there. Eating pancakes at the breakfast bar with your spouse, watching you children run around the large backyard, turning a spare bedroom into your own personal space. The expenses that come with a move, however, aren’t quite as exciting. If you’ve stretched your dollar a little further than you would have liked but still want to turn your house into a home try these renovations that can fit any budget.

In the kitchen

Pick up some peel and stick vinyl from your home improvement store to add a new backsplash to your kitchen walls without the fuss of tiling. Upgrade your kitchen faucet to something sleek and modern or to a different finish that suits your taste. Install new drawer pulls to cabinets to add your own style to the room.

The Front Door

When you move you’ll have lots of people stopping by to visit and admire your new abode. Make a great first impression by updating the front of your home. Paint the front door a bright, friendly color; yellow and red are two classic options. Installing a kick plate to the bottom of your door not only protects your door from everyday wear but also gives your door a more luxe look. Placing vibrant greenery and blooms by the front door, both inside and outside, makes any home feel more welcoming.

Bring new life to old furniture.

You don’t need to rush out and buy all new furniture for your new home. Instead, alter pieces you already own. Give your worn-out sofa and arm chairs a modern update with slipcovers. Buy a colorful ottoman and some throw pillows to give your living room a whole new feel. Adding wallpaper or an accent color to the back of a bookcase gives the piece some flair for little effort. Artfully arrange books and knick knacks without overcrowding to bring a designer’s touch to the room.

Tiny Changes, Big Impact

Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference when updating a home. Swap out old, basic switch and outlet plates for ones with more style. With options spanning the ornate to imitation stone, you’re guaranteed to find a style that suits your decor. Add bold new house numbers in a bright color or arranged in a unique way. The more creative you get, the bigger an impact you’ll make. Install new light bulbs designed to bring a bright but friendly warm light to make each room feel more inviting.

Even if your budget is tighter than you would like there are still small home improvements you can make your new house feel a lot more like your home. Sometimes all it takes is a dose of your favorite color or the simple act of putting your own personal stamp on the place.


As a homebuyer, you likely want to do everything you can to ensure you can seamlessly navigate the property buying journey. Yet problems may arise that hamper your homebuying aspirations. Lucky for you, we're here to help you analyze the property buying journey and ensure you can avoid complications along the way.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to ensure you can minimize the risk of problems as you search for your dream residence.

1. Learn About the Homebuying Journey

There is nothing quite like buying a home. As such, you'll want to do whatever you can to prepare for the property buying journey to ensure you can limit the risk of encountering potential pitfalls.

Oftentimes, it helps to review housing market data related to residences in your preferred cities and towns. This information can help you assess the prices of available houses in your area and find out how long residences typically stay available before they sell. Plus, this housing market data may help you differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market.

You also should establish realistic homebuying expectations before you enter the real estate market. In some instances, homebuyers require many weeks or months to find the perfect residence. But if you set realistic expectations for the homebuying journey, you may be better equipped than ever before to overcome myriad property buying challenges.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

A mortgage is essential for most homebuyers. If you secure a mortgage before you start your home search, you'll know precisely how much you can spend on a residence. Then, you can narrow your home search accordingly.

It generally won't take long to get pre-approved for a mortgage, either. If you meet with local banks and credit unions, you can review your mortgage options and select a mortgage that complements your finances.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

There is no telling what may happen as you pursue your dream residence. However, if you have a real estate agent at your side, you'll be able to prepare for any homebuying challenges that might come your way.

A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who is happy to teach you about all aspects of the housing market. He or she will help you craft a homebuying strategy, as well as respond to your homebuying concerns and questions. Furthermore, a real estate agent will maintain constant communication with you to ensure you can get the homebuying support you need, exactly when you need it.

For homebuyers who want to minimize complications, hiring a real estate agent is crucial. This housing market professional will set up home showings, help you analyze properties and enable you to submit a competitive offer to purchase your dream home. And as your home closing day approaches, a real estate agent will do whatever it takes to help you quickly finalize your house purchase.

Ready to buy a home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can streamline the property buying cycle.


For those who recently bought or sold a house, it may be only a matter of time before you need to pack up your belongings and move them to a new address. As such, you'll likely need to figure out how to properly pack your artwork to reduce the risk of damage while moving.

Luckily, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of packing your artwork prior to moving day.

Let's take a look at three best practices for packing artwork.

1. Use Acid-Free Tissue Paper

Acid-free tissue paper offers advanced protection against moisture – a serious problem that may cause artwork to fade or deteriorate.

You should have no trouble finding acid-free tissue paper at any store that sells moving and packing supplies. Plus, acid-free tissue paper usually is inexpensive and can make a world of difference as you pack up your artwork.

Ideally, you'll want to wrap an entire piece of art in acid-free tissue paper. This will offer immense protection until you unwrap your artwork once you reach your new home.

2. Take Advantage of Specialty Boxes

Specialty moving boxes are available for artwork. Pick up a few of these boxes, and you can pack your artwork accordingly.

Use caution as you place artwork inside a moving box. Ensure the artwork is secure inside the box before you seal the box as well.

Also, don't forget to label all moving boxes, including those that contain artwork. Place a "Fragile" label on boxes that contain artwork to further minimize the risk of damage during your move.

3. Store Artwork Carefully in a Moving Truck

When moving day arrives, you'll want to do everything possible to guarantee your artwork travels safely from Point A to Point B. If you place artwork on its edges and in a spot where it won't fall over inside a moving truck, you can limit the chance that your artwork will get damaged while in transit.

In addition, you may be able to wedge artwork between heavy objects in a moving truck. That way, you can secure your artwork throughout the moving cycle.

If you require extra help as you pack your artwork and other belongings, it often pays to hire a professional moving company. This business employs friendly, knowledgeable moving experts who can help you streamline the process of getting all of your belongings to a new address.

Lastly, a real estate agent is happy to put you in touch with moving companies in your area. This housing market professional understands the challenges associated with packing artwork and other items and can provide plenty of support as you get ready for moving day. Furthermore, a real estate agent will ensure anyone can achieve the optimal results during the homebuying or home selling cycle.

Simplify the process of packing up your artwork – use the aforementioned best practices, and you can quickly and effortlessly prepare your artwork for moving day.


Real estate terminology can be confusing for both new and experienced homeowners alike. Especially when it comes to the various types of loans. If the different types of loans have your head spinning, don’t worry. I hear you!

Here’s what you need to know:

Mortgage prequalification is an estimate a lender will give as to what you will qualify for when a more in-depth analysis is made. It doesn't guarantee anything and is to be thought of as a rough ballpark estimate.

Mortgage pre-approval is when a more in-depth review is made. The lender will take your income, debt and other factors into consideration to give you a more conclusive number. This number is the max they will lend out to you. It does not mean you have to take out the full amount.

Adjustable rate mortgage or ARM is a mortgage in which the interest rate changes over time. These changes are dependent on an index based on the credit markets. The change in interest rate should reflect a fairness of risk to both the lender and borrower. These changes are regulated by the government and there is a limit to the charges. The initial lower rate the first few years is a draw for many borrowers.

A fixed-rate mortgage or FRM is, as you might have guessed, one where the interest rate does not change throughout the lifespan of the loan. These loans are seen as risky in that the interest rate doesn’t reflect the flux of credit market values. What this means is that sometimes the risk for the lender increases if the market value of the home increases. And the risk increases for the buyer when the market value of the home decreases.

Conventional loans have fixed terms and rates and are not “government-backed”. This simply means they are not guaranteed by the government or insured by a government agency. Examples of these agencies are the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Farmers Home Administration(FmHA), and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

Private mortgage insurance or PMI is a type of insurance for a conventional loan. This loan protects the lender if, for whatever reason, you were to stop making payments. It’s usually a monthly premium tacked onto your mortgage payment. It can also be an upfront cost you only need to pay once. This is a decision that is up to and may be mandatory, by your lender.

Federal housing administration loan or FHA loan can only be obtained from qualifying lenders. These loans are insured by the FHA. This mortgage is designed to assist home buyers who have a low to moderate income and can’t afford to put down a large down payment. The down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the home's value for borrowers who qualify.  




Loading