Claire Rainville, Broker Associate, REMAX


Need a quick, easy way to transform your lawn's appearance before you list your house? Hire a professional landscaper, and you can enhance your house's curb appeal in no time at all.

Ultimately, a stellar lawn can make or break a homebuyer's first impression of your residence. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to improve your lawn today, you can boost your house's chances of making a positive first impression on potential buyers.

For those who are considering professional landscapers, making the right choice sometimes can be difficult. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of selecting the perfect landscaper.

Now, let's take a look at three best practices that home sellers need to consider as they choose a professional landscaper.

1. Get Multiple Quotes

When it comes to finding a professional landscaper, it usually pays to shop around. Therefore, you should reach out to several landscaping companies in your area and get multiple quotes.

Provide each landscaping company with information about the type of work that you need done. For instance, if you're merely looking for someone to mow the front lawn and trim the hedges, you should get quotes for this work. Or, if you need a professional landscaper to overhaul your lawn, you should budget accordingly.

In addition, find out how long it will take a professional landscaper to complete a project, along with an estimated start date. This will ensure you can find a professional landscaper who can help you improve your lawn's appearance sooner rather than later.

2. Ask for Client Referrals

Request client referrals from a professional landscaper – you'll be glad you did. With customer referrals in hand, you can learn what it's like to work with a landscaping company before you make your final hiring decision.

Typically, a professional landscaper should be able to provide the names and contact information for past clients. Once you get this information, reach out to a landscaper's past clients directly, and you can gain comprehensive insights into whether a landscaping company can fulfill your requests.

Don't forget to look online for landscaping company reviews too. An online search of a landscaping company may provide you with dozens of client reviews in just seconds.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

Differentiating one landscaping company from another is no easy task. As such, it often helps to get extra assistance as you search for the perfect landscaping company.

If you hire a real estate agent, you should have no trouble selecting a professional landscaper. This housing market professional can connect you with the best landscaping companies in your city or town. Moreover, a real estate agent can help you prep your residence for home showings and open houses, provide expert home selling recommendations and suggestions and much more.

Take the next step to enhance your lawn's appearance – use the aforementioned best practices, and you can hire a professional landscaper to help transform an ordinary lawn into an exceptional one.


If you’re hoping to buy your first home in the near future, you’re likely wondering about the different types of mortgages that you may qualify for. Since the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for first-time homeowners across America.

This program helps people achieve homeownership who typically wouldn’t be able to afford the down payment or pass the credit score requirements to secure a traditional mortgage.

In today’s post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about FHA loans to help you decide if this is the best option for your first home.

Does the FHA issue loans?

Although they’re called “FHA loans,” mortgages are not actually issued by the FHA. Rather, they’re issued by mortgage lenders across the country and insured by the FHA.

Will I have to make a down payment?

With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, significantly lower than traditional loans at 20% down payment. However, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your monthly mortgage payments until you have paid off 20% of the home. So, the best case scenario would be to save as much as possible for a down payment to reduce the amount of mortgage insurance you have to pay.

What are the benefits of an FHA loan?

The three main reasons to secure an FHA loan are:

  • You can qualify with a low credit score

  • You can make a smaller down payment than traditional mortgages

  • Your closer costs will be less expensive

Where do I apply for an FHA loan?

You can apply for an FHA loan through a mortgage lender. You can also work with a mortgage broker to help choose a lender.

Is an FHA loan the only loan option for low down payments?

There are multiple loan programs offered at the state and federal level to help individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment. They can be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USDA, or state-sponsored programs. Lenders also often sponsor their own programs to attract potential borrowers. However, always make sure you compare these programs to make sure you’re making the best long-term financial decision.

Do all FHA loans offer the same interest rates and costs?

No. Since the loans are only insured by the FHA, it’s up to the lender to determine your interest rate and fees. So, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best lender.

How high does my credit score have to be to qualify for an FHA loan?

You can secure a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. However, if you can afford to make a larger down payment, you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.

If your score is in the 500-600 range, it’s typically a better idea to spend a few months building credit before applying for a home loan.

What information will I need to apply?

You’ll need to gather all of the same information that you would for a typical mortgage. This includes W2s from your employer(s), two years of submitted tax forms, your current and former addresses from the past two years, and your gross monthly salary.

I’ve owned a house before, can I still qualify for FHA loans?

Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer you can still qualify for an FHA loan. However, you cannot qualify if you’ve had a foreclosure within the last three years or have filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.


If you've ever wondered about renewing tile in your home wonder no more, it is a process that most of us can accomplish and have a beautiful finished product when done. Following the correct steps ensures lasting beauty and quality. 

Cutting it out

To begin with, you will need to cut out the old grout. Removing it can be accomplished with a utility knife if it is a small area. As this can be a complicated method, if the surface is a little larger, there are circular cutting tools that are available to rent or purchase at your local home improvement store. 

Match it or go all the way

After you get the old grout cleaned out, you will want to make sure that the grout you are replacing it with is the same color as the existing grout unless you want to cut all of it of the area that you are working. Replacing an entire area (for example a shower or bathroom floor) is something that you may or may not want to do depending on the condition of the existing grout. 

Getting it on

When you buy your grout, it will come as a powder that you will mix up and then smooth into the spaces between the tiles. When purchasing it make sure that you have enough to complete your project, better to return some then not have what you need ready to use when you are in the middle of the application. Once you have filled in-between the tiles, take a wet sponge and clean it off of the tile surfaces. 

Curing and sealing are essential

Grout typically takes 2-3 days to cure and then it will be necessary to seal it, primarily if it is a surface designed to get wet and used. Once the manufacturer's cure time has been met for the grout apply the sealant. Again this must be allowed to cure which can take another couple of days. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for cure time as this part is crucial to the quality of the finished product. 

Improving the looks of your home

All in all, this may take some time to finish, but you will be delighted once completed correctly, and you have the assurance that it will last for years to come- improving life in your home and its value in the process. If you get into this process and find you don't want to finish it, or don't even want to get started because this already sounds like more than you want to do, contact a local tile professional to come out and take a look at it for you.


New building methods increasingly improve insulation R-values inside homes, but as houses become more buttoned up, they also can trap lousy air inside. Your personal atmosphere might contain molds, formaldehyde, toxic chemicals from paints, carpets, glues, and cleaners, and benzene, just to name a few. On top of that, your indoor air carries pet dander, dust mites and other pollutants that can trigger asthma, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses, headaches, earaches, and digestive problems.

Clear the air with these oxygen-promoting houseplants.

  • Dracaena deremensis: requiring only a small amount of sunlight and very little water, this plant grows up to ten feet tall if left untrimmed. It effectively removes fumes from solvents and varnishes.
  • Dracaena Marginata: This lovely subtropical plant brings to mind a Dr. Seuss tree that filters chemicals from cigarettes, paints, and vehicle exhaust. It only requires a small amount of water when the soil dries out.
  • Golden Pothos: NASA studied this plant for its ability to remove formaldehyde and VOCs (volatile organic compounds such as those in paint fumes).
  • Hedera Helix: This English Ivy makes the perfect desktop plant and removes carcinogens from cigarettes and cigars. It adapts to a variety of light and temperature conditions, and when used in the bath or nursery, it can even remove fecal particulates.
  • Sansevieria Trifasciata: Also called Snake Plant and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, releases oxygen as it absorbs carbon dioxide and makes an excellent filtering plant for formaldehyde from engineered wood products.
  • Spathiphyllum: Peace Lily controls acetone, benzene, trichloroethylene, and fumes from alcohols from the air inside your home. Since it’s toxic, however, keep this plant away from pets and children.
  • Chlorophytum comosum: The Spider Plant, also part of the NASA test, proved to be exemplary at removing formaldehyde from the air.

Plants move the toxins through their leaf-vein system and down into the roots where microbes feast on and filter the damaging fumes and turn them into harmless by-products. Each medium-sized plant covers about six to eight cubic feet according to some studies, although in real-world situations, that depends on how often HVAC systems exchange the air.

To get the best results, keep a variety of plants. Because most plant types prefer certain toxins over others, the more insulated your home, the more different fumes need filtering. As always, when using any plants near children or animals, keep them well out of reach.

To learn about which plant might grow best in your situation, talk to your local nursery or plant specialist.


Let's face it – homebuyers often face intense pressure. In many instances, dozens of homebuyers may compete for the same residence. And if you don't act quickly, you risk missing out on your dream house to a rival homebuyer.

Believe it or not, it sometimes can be beneficial to take a wait and see approach to buying a house. Some of the key reasons for homebuyers to consider deploying a wait and see approach include:

1. You can determine exactly what you want in your dream house.

Differentiating between must-haves and wants can be tough, particularly for homebuyers who are shopping for residences for the first time. Fortunately, if you take a slow, gradual approach to homebuying, you can view a variety of residences and narrow your search accordingly.

Oftentimes, homebuyers can benefit from attending open houses and getting a firsthand look at myriad residences. Each open house provides an opportunity to analyze a home, review its pros and cons and determine whether a residence is right for you. As such, homebuyers can attend many open houses to better understand what they want from a dream residence.

2. You can get your finances in order.

Although you know you want to buy a house, getting your finances in order may prove to be hassle. Luckily, homebuyers who implement a wait and see approach can find a mortgage that matches their finances perfectly.

Ideally, a homebuyer should meet with several banks and credit unions and explore all of the mortgage options at his or her disposal. During each meeting with a mortgage lender, a homebuyer can receive expert insights into many mortgage options.

A homebuyer may want to get pre-approved for a mortgage as well. If a homebuyer embarks on a search for the right mortgage today, this individual can move closer to entering the housing market with a budget in hand and simplifying his or her home search.

3. You can find the perfect real estate agent.

Ultimately, the real estate agent that you select may dictate the success of your quest to find your dream residence. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to hire a hardworking and experienced real estate agent, you should have no trouble streamlining your home search. On the other hand, if you rush to hire the first real estate agent that you meet, you risk making the wrong choice.

When it comes to finding the perfect real estate agent, it pays to be patient. By spending some time learning about various real estate agents in your area, you can select a top-notch housing market professional to guide you along the homebuying journey.

Lastly, don't forget to select a real estate agent who is available to respond to any homebuying concerns and questions, at any time. With this housing market professional at your side, you can boost your chances of discovering your ideal residence.

There is no need to rush to find your dream home. Instead, take a wait and see approach to buying a house, and you may reap the benefits of your decision for years to come.