Benefits of Buying

Renting is overrated. The money is being thrown into the wind while your landlord is rolling in your hard earned cash and paying off their mortgage while telling you they’ll get to that leak under the sink “soon.” I remember renting one year when I didn’t even see the landlord. I couldn’t tell you what they looked like. My dishwasher was broken and the maintenance man told us to not use our health hazard heater because it was outdated. Needless to say it was a cold winter and we moved out of there quickly as possible. Does this sound like a familiar situation? Then you may be ready to sail into the sea of ownership where you are the Captain and that ship is under your control.

Buying a home comes with certain freedoms. One of those freedoms is not having a landlord. You are able to paint, hang wall art, and landscape as you please without the risk of not getting a deposit back. There are no noise restrictions, pet deposits, or remodeling. Butters, the hound, can run and be free in his house without his human worrying about what the landlord will say about his accident on the carpet. Renting stifles this ability to truly make a space your own. A home is yours to customize into a beautiful space that mirrors your personality with no guilt.


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Taxes are a big stressor. Who doesn’t want a little relief when April comes around? Homeowners are offered several tax breaks. Some of those include Mortgage Interest, Tax and Penalty Free IRA, Home Improvements, Energy Credits, Home Equity Loans, and Real Estate Taxes. There is even a Home Office credit if you work from home. So many deductions, so little stress.

A homeowner’s net worth is 45 times that of an average renter. While rent is never recovered, mortgage payments build equity. It is an investment in the future by increasing an individual’s net worth. Not to mention it is cheaper to buy than rent. The average mortgage is lower than a rental payment and over time the interest portion of the mortgage payment decreases therefore the interest that you pay will be lower than a rental cost.


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Having a home in a neighborhood provides a sense of community. You know your neighbors. You know where your children will grow up and go to school. You know that you can walk your dog every night with a peace of mind. One doesn’t always get that when renting because you never know when the rent may be raised depending on your lease. You may not even be able to renew your lease when the time comes. Community is a sense of stability and security.

Free yourself of the waves of rent, buy your dream boat.

 


Come to our First Time Home Buyers Workshop if you would like to learn more on August 26th:

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Small Home Updates that Make Big Changes

Many people want to add a little pizzazz to their homes but don’t know where to start. Whether it be to prepare to sell or for the owners personal appeal, these small updates can turn around an entire vibe to make a house a home.


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Never underestimate the power of a can of paint. One can completely revitalize a room. If you still have that pea green wall color that your friends complimented you on in the 1970’s then it may be time to change up your style. Fashions change and our tastes change with them. If you are selling then choose a neutral color even if they all look the same to you and are only slight variations of “baguette” or “camel.” If you just want to spice up your life then choose a hue that shows your personality.


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Replace old hardware on cabinets and drawers. I remember when my mother inherited our grandparents’ house. I had never really thought much of the handles to cabinets. My mother changed them because I am pretty sure they were the originals from 1955 when my grandparents bought the house. I immediately noticed the change even though I had never given them thought before. All her family members commented on them as well. It was such a little thing that made a large impression. Along with hardware, light fixtures and faucets are the next items that can really date a room. Replacing these with a more sleek look will instantly modernize the space.


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Give the outside love. The inside of a home is important, but the outside can be just as inviting or uninviting. Simple ways to add curb appeal is to add a small flowerbed around that tree in your front yard. You can paint your rusty mailbox to a nice warm tone. Of course, don’t forget to mow and edge the lawn. It is an easy and cheap fix to spruce up the yard. Placing flower pots around the porch and a few decorations can really increase the visual appeal and make you want to come home after a long day to sit on your relaxing porch.

 

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Making Back-to-School Rule

Going back to school is always a trip on the struggle bus. This year it’s time to reclaim your “Parent of the Year” status with some organizational techniques that may keep those wheels going round and round more smoothly. Even in the midst of morning madness these helpful hacks will be sure to keep your family on the right track back to school.


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We all know that feeling wrestling a child into clothing or having them dress themselves. Whether it’s your child, little brother, babysitting Sally Screamer down the street, it is a long drawn out fiasco. Then you have to tempt them with corn dogs and pudding snacks to comply. The least we can do is make sure an outfit is completely put together before the battle goes down. Get a small five shelved stand or bookcase and simply place and entire outfit from hair ties to a set of shoes on each shelf in accordance with each school day. This will save you so much time searching for tiny socks that match when you could be making your mid-morning margarita. Then you don’t have to worry about if the laundry is done because you know at least the kid has clean clothes for the entire week.


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Lunches can be a pain to make in the morning. Especially with attempting to make breakfast and make sure everyone is getting ready in time. In order to save a little time, create a lunch organizer in your pantry or fridge. This can be separate sections of fruit cups, cheese sticks, pudding snacks, chips, prepped popcorn or snack bags, and bite-sized veggies that you can grab and throw into a lunch box to complete a well-balanced meal. Less mess, less stress.


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Print or write your own backpack checklist. Kids will have fun checking off their new school supplies. In the evenings, have each child go through a backpack checklist to make sure they have all their necessities for success. Select a specific place for all backpacks to set so they are all together and ready to grab and go as they leave for the day. This may be a given but little habits can save big time.


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Set aside a file for specific paperwork that the kids bring home from school. They can place the report cards or field trip releases in the file so that you can go through them all at once and always have it together. It also ensures that the kids don’t forget their papers and that you don’t forget to sign them. It’s a win-win for both busy parties. Now you can rule over the dreaded back to school.

 

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Keep your Cool

You love blasting your AC. I know it. We all do. But then you get your paperless billing statement and want to hide it from your spouse because they might cry. You don’t want to see them cry. When they do you are not sure if you should comfort them or put on armor because war is coming. That’s why we have a few helpful pointers on how you and your significant other to keep your cool mentally and physically.


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A more inexpensive investment would be to purchase some blackout curtains. Most heat throughout the day comes in through windows creating a greenhouse effect in the home. Simple changes like having heavy curtains, shutters, and keeping blinds closed can lower your average home temperature by up to 20 degrees. If you are home during the day and need some natural light then just keep the westward and eastward windows covered which is where the sun hits hardest.


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The AC unit is the most abused, blamed and neglected appliance in our possession. To save from wanting go out and kick it, try cleaning it instead. Once upon a time, my family was miserable. We blamed the AC for not being big enough for the square footage in our house. My savvy uncle goes out to look at the unit. It was COVERED in thick pollen. I mean one would think we painted it yellow. No air was able to enter the unit thus unable to enter our home. We shop vacuumed the entire thing and, like magic, we had AC again. Dirty air filters just like two inches of pollen also prevent efficient air flow throughout the house. Changing the AC filters regularly and maintaining a debris free unit can be cost effective ways to ensure your family doesn’t have a meltdown.


MB_0051_17JulyB6-3-insulation

Maybe you’re doing all these things already and need a stronger tactic. Maybe your home is older and you haven’t made repairs on it since you bought it. A good start is to check the insulation. Insulation is the best defense to protecting a home’s temperature. Experts say if there are visible floor joints in the attic then it is time to replace the insulation. To begin you can get an energy audit. A professional will come out to inspect your home for air leaks, check your furnace and water heater to make sure it is working properly, and look for any insulation issues. From there you will have a better understanding of what you should address.

These are just a few of the numerous things you can start to prevent a heat stroke or mild heart attack at the sight of your energy costs. We are just looking out for your health and hospital bills.

 

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OKC’s Most Chill Treats

It is a typical summer day in Oklahoma. Over 90 degrees and the sun feels like it’s specifically hovering over you alone. Your air conditioner is acting like it has an upper respiratory issue by the way it’s wheezing and you may have a sun burn just by even thinking about stepping on your porch. It’s so hot out that your taste buds are sweating. Well sweat no more because we have a set of the coolest treats that melt in your mouth and chill your core.


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Raspado’s Hawaiian is a snow cone that will satisfy the sweet and sour side of you. These treats are all natural fruit flavors with over 40 options. This cup of heaven comes complete with actual chunks of fruit, chamoy syrup, and a tamarind candy covered straw, which are scientifically considered all the flavors of a flawless summer. If milkshakes are more of your taste style then order an obispos, which is shaved ice in choices of mango, strawberry, pineapple, and banana topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to create a creamy dream.


MB_0050_17JulyB6-2-Trailer Trash Treatz

This one is a little off the beaten path, but if you’re a snow cone connoisseur then this will be just another glorious adventure that you can add to your Yelp review collection. Trailer Trash Treatz will surpass its name and your expectations.

Pick from almost 50 flavors of snow and order it “trashy” for an extra sweet surprise. Dig to the center of the cone to discover ice cream and a slice of cheesecake. Three, yes three, of America’s favorite desserts in one cup. With two locations in Yukon and Choctaw, this small chain is changing the way people think about cones of snow.


MB_0050_17JulyB6-3 Organic Squeeze

Now you’re staring at your kids in envy with their trashy feasts and candied fruit cups. A dreaded four letter word is holding you back from tearing into one like a rabid polar bear…diet. Organic Squeeze has got your back. You can indulge without the guilt. They have made from scratch Squeeze Pops crafted with the finest organic ingredients. Enjoy unique flavors such as Orange Ginger Pineapple or Berry Cream made with Himalayan salt. Kids can also enjoy a healthy snack because when they complete the “no soda challenge” for one week they get a free Squeeze Pop. Double the yum for the price of one.


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It’s been a rough sweltering day, right? A little time out is in order. Sneak away to Revolución for an adult snow day that will make you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland for a minute. This boozy beverage is named a Cannonball and for good reason. It will blow away all your problems. A frozen margarita topped with a sangria snowball. Those red and greens are like Christmas in July.

Now go treat yourself.

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Flare Up Your Fourth

Fourth after Fourth you’ve longed for that big bang of a party that will have your family talking about for years to come. Here are a few pointers that will get your rockets headed in the right direction. From décor to dancing, this bash will be assured to shock and delight your most patriotic pals.


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Pack a Punch: Create a layered beverage by using a clear soda, a fruit punch or cranberry juice, and a blue punch or Gatorade. The goal is to use beverages that contain different amounts of sugar. That way they will be different densities and layer just right. Use ice to help separate the layers. Patriotism can be so sweet.


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Grub and Go: Everyone knows the most important part of a party is food. Ditch the hot dogs and hamburgers this year for a healthier yet satisfying handheld dish. These Chicken Fajita Kebabs will still feel like summer and not sway your summer beach bod that you’ve been working all winter for (We know you tried).

  1. Preheat grill.
  2. Prepare veggies of bell pepper and onions by chopping into squares and placing into a gallon bag with a tablespoon of olive oil and shake.
  3. Slice chicken into squares and place in a gallon bag.
  4. Combine a tablespoon of cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder with 2 teaspoons of paprika and a dash of salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle half of rub on veggies and half on chicken. Let marinate for 10 minutes.
  6. Place tinfoil on grill and spray with cooking oil. Grill kebabs for 15 minutes rotating them every five.

Once fully cooked sprinkle lime and fresh cilantro for the finishing touch.


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Party Plans: For hours of entertainment, give the kiddos a printed scavenger hunt list. They’ll go crazy trying to hunt down the items and for added fun they can use a camera to photograph their journey. You won’t hear a peep from them for a while and they will be professional photographers by the time you do. As for adults, an easy jumbo Jenga can be made out of 2×4’s. Cut them into 10.5 inch blocks and boom, instant party. For added flare, paint half of the blocks in red and blue and leave the other half natural.


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Flavorful Flag: This is a fancy Fourth spin on an all American favorite, Dessert Pizza. You’ll be begged for this easy recipe once it’s sliced for serving. All you need is sugar cookie dough rolled into a rectangle on a sheet pan. Cook at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes. You will whip 1 package of cream cheese for 2-3 minutes in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whip 2 cups of heavy whipping cream until stiff. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese along with1 cup powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Mix until smooth. Chill covered in the fridge. Once cookie crust is removed from oven and cooled, spoon and spread your cream cheese icing over pizza. Arrange blueberries and sliced strawberries into a flag pattern or any pattern you desire.


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Water We Here For?: The Holy Grail for any summer party is the ever-enticing watermelon. Some new ways to enjoy your melon is by cookie cutting your slices into star shapes. They can be put on a skewer and frozen for extra refreshment under the sun. An adult friendly fruit can be cut into triangles, skewered, and tequila soaked in a glass baking dish overnight in the fridge. A few hours before serving transfer it to the freezer. When you’re ready to surprise and delight, then sprinkle with lime zest, mint and sea salt. Cheers to adulting.

Now that you have the basics down, Go Fourth and prosper…

 


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Incredible Scenic Hikes in Your State

Summer is finally here and you are ready to get out of the house and into the sun. These great hikes will exercise­ the mind and body in the midst of a gorgeous view right in your own state. Then after you have conquered the trail, you can brag to all your friends about how sore you are from hiking. How cool does that sound? They will be jealous of your tan line and all those artful Instagram posts.


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Photo by Mark Doiron

Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge: Located in Lawton, this refuge has over thirty miles of trail for you to explore. From flat lands to gently rolling mountains, you can dare to climb Mt. Scott (or drive up it if you’re feeling rebellious) or climb Mt. Baldy where the top looks similar to your great uncle’s head. Charon’s Gardens is an adventurous undertaking but the hidden waterfall is worth the hike. Don’t expect to cover it all in one day. There is plenty to discover from boulders and caves to gardens and wildlife. At the end of the day you can set up at Camp Doris for a cowboy campfire and then wake up to do it all over again. Just hope that a bison doesn’t block your trail. No, really.

 


MB_0033_17JuneB3-Ouachita_National_ForestOuachita National Forest: This forest is located on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas covering 1.8 million acres. Its lush evergreens will make you pine for the simple life of cabins and dewy mornings. There is wonderful hiking in these forests or you can hit the trails with some horseback riding when your feet hurt. Drive down the Talimena Scenic Byway for breathtaking views and historical sites to feed the curious critter in you. It is also legend that Jesse James stashed his stolen treasure in the Winding Stair Mountains but was ambushed before he could return for it. This might be your luckiest hike yet.


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Roman Nose State Park: Named after a Cheyenne chief, this park was established in 1937 when Franklin Roosevelt created The New Deal. It was one of the originals out of seven parks founded in Oklahoma. The park contains moderate to easy trails, two lakes, mountain biking and canoeing that’s set inside the beautiful background of a canyon. You can hike along trickling streams, over wooden bridges and across a daunting dam. Not to mention there are teepees for rent. TEEPEES. You can bet none of your friends have slept in a teepee.


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Gloss Mountain State Park: Feel like you’re a lone survivalist in the desert at Gloss Mountain. Though not actual mountains, these buttes and mesas will captivate your imagination as you forget your responsibilities at home. Their glossy look comes from the abundance of selenite gypsum crystals in the earth. From a short hike to the top of Cathedral Mountain you’ll get an eyeful of the Cimmaron River. Since there is no camping, it makes for a perfect family day trip complete with a picnic and scenic inspiration.


 

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The OKC Bucket List: Outdoor Escapades and Eats

 

Having trouble beating the summer bummers? These entertaining activities will keep you from losing your mind and your tan line. Oklahoma is a thriving community in the summer season so relax and let the fun divert all your cares.

 


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1. Reach Great Heights. On the Wheeler District’s Ferris Wheel you can get an amazing view of the river and downtown. The Wheel was bought on Ebay and originally stood on California’s Santa Monica Pier. The district often has food trucks and festivals for your dining pleasure. Only $6 per ride makes for an affordable memory. We recommend going at night for a romantic evening gaze of a sparkling skyline, still flowing waters and an Oklahoma sunset. Ahhhh.


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2. Get Insomnia. The one time it may benefit you to get insomnia is to go to Insomnia Cookies. They have a variety of desserts including cookies, brownies and ice cream. If your blood sugar is especially low then you’ll want to indulge in a Deluxe Cookiewich to satisfy the craving. The best part about this fine establishment is that they are open until 3am, not to mention that they deliver. So you can feel good about not being able to sleep.


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3. Embark on a Ride. Spokies is Oklahoma City’s only bike sharing system. You can glide through traffic without having to worry about pesky parking. On your ride, you’ll be able to tour Downtown, Midtown and historic neighborhoods from its eight locations around town. For a small fee, you can ride for 30 minutes or get a pass that allows hourly use. Embark wanted to provide eco-friendly and affordable transit to those in need of fun and fast transportation.


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4. Sport About. The Boathouse District contains an exciting day for the family. Riversport Adventures is hours of thrills with water rafting, zip lines, rope courses, tubing, kayaking and slides. This will not disappoint the adventure seekers in your group. You can choose from a day or season pass or even a single experience for the more serene adventurer.


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5. Reconnect with Nature. Do you miss the forests but are stuck in the city? Martin Nature Center is where you should be. Tucked away in Oklahoma City is this amazing reserve. Several trails will take you over a river, past prairie dogs, and up to a bird observation center. It is the perfect place to trick yourself into thinking that you’re hiking a National State Park. Looking is free. Try not to take home a prairie dog though.


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Wood paneling is back – with a twist!

Wood paneling is back, but we’re not talking about he 1960s version that you may still be peeling down from some of your listings.

Instead, today’s wood paneling trend is being used as an accent wall, instead of a complete cover of an entire room. For example, wood panels in walnut may be used as an accent wall behind the bed in the master bedroom. Or, maybe one wall will be covered in white distressed shiplap, a trend popularized by HGTV “Fixer Upper” hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Wood in all finishes, whether clear stain or in its natural form, are being used to create sophisticated, sleek accent walls. You may even find wood panels in the closets, such as cedar-covered closet walls  (with added bonuses of having a distinctive smell and being a natural repellent to insects, like moths, too).

Knotty pieces of wood bring a very organic look, while painted varieties are classic and always popular with homeowners and potential buyers.

Designers are certainly proving you dress up and modernize any space with wood panels.

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Tips on Selling Your Home During The Summer!

Spring is the most popular time of the year to put a home on the market. Fall is the second most popular time of the year to sell a home. Selling a home in the summer, however, is a bit tricky.

Why Summer Selling Isn’t Ideal

Summer is good for a lot of things, but home selling is not necessarily one of them. In fact, if you don’t have to sell in the summer, you might get more for your home if you wait until fall.

Why? Because in the summer:

  • People go on vacation.
  • Kids get out of school and require attention.
  • Summer activities distract homeowners.

Basically, there’s just too much going on during the summer to pay close attention to selling a home. Most sellers would rather wait until everything calms down in the fall.

If You Must Sell Your Home During the Summer

Not everybody can wait until fall to sell and relocate. Some people might be transferred to a new job in another state or be experiencing other pressing “life” issues that could necessitate an immediate sale. Here are a few things you can do to attract a summertime buyer.

  • Mow the lawn twice a week

Grass grows faster in the summer so mow your lawn regularly. Every other lawn cutting, try mowing on the diagonal to add dimension and curb appeal.

  • Create summer curb appeal

Curb appeal attracts people in the market to buy homes. Trim the bushes. Plant flowers. Scatter mulch. Paint your house number on the curb. Sweep the walk. Make your entrance welcoming and warm.

  • Decorate with summer accents

Look around your home for color inspiration. Add vivid blue decor items for a calming effect. Replace dark-colored accent pillows and throw rugs with brighter, summer hues.

  • Bring the light inside

If you have heavy drapes, remove them. They make rooms look smaller. Pull window blinds to the top and tape the strings underneath. Consider using tie-backs to hold open lighter-weight drapes. The only time you would leave blinds closed is if there was an undesirable element on the other side of the window, i.e. a neighbor’s trash can, and even then, open them slightly.

  • Have flexible showing hours

Some people like to skip out of work early due to daylight savings in many states. You might find buyers are more interested in touring your home during twilight hours, just after the dinner hour.

  • Move furniture outside

Where I live, in Sacramento, it doesn’t rain in the summer. We can move perfectly good living room furniture to the back yard. Not only does moving out furniture free up more room inside the home, but it creates an outdoor living space with items you already own. It’s an illusion created for a buyer that says yes, you can own this lifestyle, too.

  • Deliver sparkle

Gold or silver or brass or pewter? Doesn’t matter. Mix them, if you like. Old rules don’t apply. Metals are summery. Vases, picture frames, mirrors, utensils, goblets, hanging planters and garden gnomes all work.

  • Offer summer beverages and snacks

For me, in California, summer means red-and-white checkered tablecloths, potato salad, hot dogs and mustard and roasted corn-on-the-cob. Every part of the country has its own summer food traditions. Fill the sink with ice cubes and chill bottled beverages for visitors and offer a few light snacks.

  • Use natural air freshener

Fill the air in your home with natural fragrances such as those from fresh cut roses.

  • Control air temperature

There’s nothing worse than a stuffy room on a hot day. Circulate the air in your home. Even if you have to place floor fans about the home, keep the air moving. Turn down the air conditioning to a level just below your comfort zone on extra hot days. A cool indoors will keep visitors indoors viewing your home for longer.