Date Archives: February 2017

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Many steps are included in the process of buying a home which can feel overwhelming. A good realtor can support individuals who are going through the steps of seeking to understand the process before getting pre-approval and making offers.


Impound Account

An account that is set up by the mortgage lender to pay certain property-related expenses on a person's behalf is called an escrow (impound) account. This is used for expenses like property taxes and homeowner's insurance. Many mortgage lenders require an escrow account to insure the property is not at risk. Fees vary from year to year and generally are rolled into monthly mortgage payments.


How Escrow Works

Escrow accounts come into play with several home buying expenses like home buyer's earnest money. If an offer is accepted then an earnest money check is deposited into the real estate broker's escrow account. The account is used for earnest monies only and other funds may not be mixed in with earnest money deposits but is received back at closing.


Requirements Vary

Each state varies but many states require an escrow account. Even if a person's state does not, it is helpful to have one. Without escrow, homeowners will be responsible for large property-related bills in lump sums and not always when it is most convenient (if it ever is with home issues). Failure to pay property taxes on time can also result in high fines and fees. The portion of a payment that is property tax and home insurance are taken out of each payment made and placed in escrow until it is time to make the payment. This also serves as insurance that the property is not at risk. The practice then also helps protect the homeowner and lender of record.


The best thing to do is to conduct research personally and with a dedicated realtor who can point potential homebuyers in the right direction to make wise and sound decisions. Home buying is not something to take lightly as there are many things to consider. When it comes to escrow, many potential homeowners decide to go this route so costs are covered automatically without too much forethought. Others may wish (if possible) to do without but it is certainly up to the homeowner to decide what to do based on research and what is best for the personal situation each family faces.

Get started on your search for a new home or prepare to sell property with award winning agents at Choice Properties Real Estate. Located in Logan County, we are ready to serve and assist you with all your real estate needs.




A refinance could cut the monthly mortgage payment but whether it is the right move or not depends on some factors. Learn more about some things to consider prior to refinancing a home mortgage that could save time and money.


Refinancing Costs Money

A free finance does not exist as there are closing costs associated with any closing no matter what house a person buys. Anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the loan amount will be added on and need to be paid upfront. Some options can also include:

  • Cover the closing costs using a no-closing cost refinance which can come with a slightly higher interest rate

  • Look at closing costs and how those will be covered prior to calculating how long it will take to make monthly payments to repay the closing costs

  • If the closing costs will only be covered in four years and the plan is to stay two years in a home, refinancing may not make sense



Refinancing makes sense when the interest rate on a mortgage is more than 100 basis points above current interest rates. There is no hard and fast rule on how much to save but costs should be recouped in two years or less. A 30-year fixed loan of $200,000 loan might see a rate of 4.83 percent in March 2011. The rate today may vary from that slightly. In six months past the two-year mark, it may take awhile to recoup costs if the loan is considered at a different rate in a different period of time. Doing homework on comparing refinance rates will save lots of time and money in the long run, which requires research on multiple lenders to come to a final conclusion.


Refi and PMI

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) on a loan on a home that has substantial equity could enable a person to cancel mortgage insurance. To do this, the following must be in place:

  • Loan balance of 80 percent or less of home's appraised value

  • New loan could replace the loan with PMI when appraised and cancel PMI obligations


Equity and Cash

A cash-out refinance lets a person take out a new mortgage for more than the amount owed on the current loan and pocket the difference - typically up to 80 percent of loan-to-value ratio. This may be a good move depending on where the money goes. If this money goes to put an addition on the home, this will increase the property value but come at a higher rate than non-cash-out-refinances. Discretionary spending like vacations or other spending may not be advisable as it does not put equity back into the home. One thing to keep in mind is that if a home's value may decrease in a certain neighborhood where values are going down, it may not be a good time to tap the equity. Weighing costs and benefits is part of the process and requires forward thinking to save money in the long run.


When looking to buy or sell a home in Logan County, Choice Properties Real Estate is the premier company with award winning agents available to assist you in the search. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.




A small living room can be a challenge to decorate but there are ways to maximize wasted spots, tricky corners or areas that seem difficult to use. Learn some tips on how to get the most out of a living room space, no matter the shape or size of your new home.


Up and Over

The space above a doorway in the living room is often overlooked but it can be an important, even fun, place to utilize. When looking at this underappreciated spot, think of it as a handy place for storage. Think about using narrow shelving units above and down the sides of a doorway to maximize wall space.


Maximize Slim Alcoves

Clever storage choices are the way to go to ensure no space goes unused in a living room. Thinking creatively and outside the box can expand the space in a room while keeping clutter to a minimum. For instance, full-height cabinets may not work in a shallow spot so try a single row of closed base units that slightly extend into the room and use narrow shelving to display the rest.


Custom Built-ins

Tricky corners and shapes in a living room can be challenging to make work without wasting precious space. Building a bench seat, shelving or using ottomans with included storage are all ways to help create a beautiful space with practical design features.



If nooks are the bane of a living room's existence, try some creativity before giving up on the space. Squeeze in more function by tucking a tiny office corner next to a fireplace with a desk and a few shelves. This tiny workspace can still be neat, tidy and look like part of the room without taking away from the aesthetic.


Wall Space

Walls behind a sofa are great places to install a shelf for books, art or accessories in ways that use a forgotten wall in new and unique ways. Ledges can be installed, one above the other, for twice the storage.


Bay Windows

Use a bay window to a room's advantage by maximizing the view. Screen some of the window with blinds or shutters to keep it looking fresh even if the view is not utilized as much or feels like wasted space. Window seats can also be a great way to introduce new concepts into an older space or one that needs freshening up.


If you are ready to start the search for a home or are selling property in Logan County, contact Choice Properties Real Estate to speak with award winning agents ready to help you get started.




Getting a clog in the bathroom sink drain is a pain but it does not signal the end of the world. Attempting to clear the clog without paying for an expensive fix-it expert can not only save money but build skills. There are a number of options for do-it-yourself cleaning solutions. Learn some tips to get started.


Troubleshoot the Issue

How to clear a clog depends on a few factors which include:

  • How severe the clog is in the sink

  • How far down the pipe it goes

When assessing the clog, it's best to go with the easiest solution then work up through the other options. Avoid chemical drain cleaners which may be caustic and damage the plumbing. Since many people opt for environmentally friendly options, there are plenty to choose from on the mark.



The first method a person can consider is plunging the drain. A plunger (usually a household staple) pushes the clog through the pipes. Other methods may only be able to get out part of the clog. A Zip-it, a drain-clearing tool which looks like a giant-sized zip tie and costs less than $5, is usually for hair clogs. If the clog is above the sink's p-trap, the Zip-it may work most efficiently. Work the tool down the drain and pull up. Hopefully, most of the gunk blocking the drain will also come up.


Snaking the Drain

When a Zip-it fails the test, chances are the blockage is beyond the p-trap under the sink. A drum auger is a good option to consider:

  • Purchase a drum auger from the nearest home improvement store

  • Motorized augers, with the help of a power drill, are most efficient

  • Watch online videos for support in use of a drum auger tool in sinks


Severe Clogs

The drum auger will take care of clearing the clog most of the time. Sometimes, a person may have a clog is that is very large or further down the drain than can be reached with a manual drum auger. The important thing is to upgrade to a powerful snake when the clog is too big. A commercial-grade electric auger has more powerful snaking action, is longer and thicker than a drum auger. A plumber who comes to the house to deal with the clog is likely to use this tool but requires proper safety precautions. A helpful hint is to be sure and run water for a few minutes after clearing the clog with snakes so that, once the drain is cleared, anybody will be happy to hear all about the do-it-yourself option which can also save some cash.


For the best advice on buying and selling homes in Logan County, Choice Properties Real Estate has award winning agents ready to assist you in the search.