4th of July BBQ ideas

by Administrator Posted in Homeowner resources /   June 27, 2014


Planning the Perfect 4th of July BBQ pin

The 4th of July is the highlight of the BBQ season. Are you ready for it? If you need a little inspiration, check out these ideas collected from some of our favorite bloggers, pinners and party planners.

Create a (tastefully) star-spangled menu. 

Pinterest is flooded with red, white and blue cakes, kebabs, candies, salsa, pies, fruit trays, cookies, ice pops and more. We've even seen patriotic pasta and popcorn! With so many options, it's easy to go a little overboard. But, in small doses—and with the right recipes—a themed side dish, dessert or beverage can help your 4th of July BBQ stand out from every other BBQ you'll have this summer. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

Red, white and blue beverages...

Side dishes...


Build a patriotic playlist.

Depending on your musical tastes, your party playlist could run the gamut from George M. Cohan's "You're a Grand Old Flag" to Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." to Katy Perry's "Firework." If you don't have the time to build your own, you're a quick internet search away from shared playlists, like this one from USALoveList.com.

Showcase your outdoor space. 

The 4th of July may be a time to celebrate "Old Glory" but your decorations don't have to be old hat. Whether your style tends toward the rustic, the glamorous or the eclectic, here are a few ideas to help inspire you:  

  • For a simpler look, Martha Stewart Living suggests decorating with red and white, white and blue or blue and red—instead of all three colors. 
  • For a modern look, HGTV recommends floral or geometric patterns in patriotic colors. Don't be afraid to mix and match! That goes for your dinnerware as well as your linens. 
  • Ditch the red, white and blue and use symbolic patterns like stars and stripes to evoke a patriotic theme.    
  • Flowers can bring color and life to your tablescape. With a little paint and some DIY spirit, some types of flowers can even become personal fireworks displays, like these dried allium blooms or these fresh mums. If you happen to try this using glow-in-the-dark paint, please snap a picture and tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook—we'd really love to see it.  
  • Keep guests comfortable with this thoughtful sun supplies station from HGTV. We'd probably add festive fans, like these, for especially hot climates.  
  • Plan activities for any kids that will attend. Sidewalk chalk, water balloons or a craft station could help keep little hands busy.   

Looking for more entertaining ideas or recipes? Browse the Homeowner Resources section of our blog, or follow us on Pinterest

When should you lock in your interest rate?

by Julia Miller Posted in Home loans /   June 23, 2014


Many people ask their loan officers, "When should I lock in my rate?" There's no easy answer. It's a little like asking when you should sell your stock or which mutual fund will perform better. It all depends on the market and your individual situation.

Are you a well-qualified buyer? If you believe that rates are going to stabilize or improve, it might make sense to wait to lock in your interest rate. However, less qualified buyers need to keep in mind that rising interest rates may impact their ability to qualify for a mortgage. If you think you're going to be close to the maximum permissible debt-to-income ratio, it might make sense to lock your rate regardless of projected decreases in interest rates. Sound complicated? Your loan officer can help you understand how much home you can afford at today's rates and help you better understand the risks and rewards of locking your interest rate or letting it float.

Loan Officer and Homebuyer

Interest rate lock basics
When a loan's interest rate, points, fees and rate lock expiration date are agreed upon by the borrower and lender, the loan is considered "locked." Before the program and terms are "locked," the loan is considered to be "floating," at which time the homebuyer's rate can be affected negatively or positively by market shifts.

Once your loan is locked, if the market shifts and rates rise—even before you close—your interest rate will not increase. That being said, you will still end up with the rate you agreed upon should interest rates drop.

What to keep in mind
The best advice is to keep an eye on interest rate movements in the weeks and months before you plan to secure a mortgage. Have rates been generally rising or falling? When experts are predicting interest rate hikes in the coming days, you may choose to lock sooner. Or, if rates are steadily dropping, you may choose to wait until the last moment. There's no way to guarantee which way rates will shift, but staying in tune with the market will help you make an educated choice. Of course, as mentioned before, less qualified borrowers may not have the luxury of waiting for potential decreases and may want to lock in a rate while they can!

The exception
Depending on what your lender has available, you may be able to consider a float down option. With a float down, you lock in your interest rate, but are allowed to "float down" to a lower rate one time before you close if rates decrease. There is usually a non-refundable up-front fee associated with a float down option.

Still not sure what to do? The decision to lock is ultimately a personal one, but consult your loan officer to discuss the lock options associated with your loan. Our affiliate, HomeAmerican Mortgage Corporation, would be happy to walk you through your choices. Call 866-400-7126 today.

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