1st Time Homebuyer Amidst A World Pandemic!!???



Somebody pinch me please!!!!

After a grueling past couple of months and tons of paperwork, I can finally say that I am a PROUD homeowner!!! I would be lying if I said that this has been an easy process but it was so worth it, you guys! For someone who started this journey with downright BAD credit, I had a long road ahead. But I was ready and willing to do whatever was necessary to achieve my goal of being a homeowner. Are you on that same path? Are you ready to make one of the biggest investments of your life but you’re unsure about the required steps? Allow me to walk you through a detailed step-by-step guideline that’ll set you well on your way of becoming a homeowner.

First Things First…

There are many steps involved in the process of buying a house. The first thing you need to know is what your credit/FICO score is . Knowing where you stand credit wise is key and very essential in the house buying process. It is always a good practice to be aware of your scores as well as the information being reported on your credit report. Sometimes inaccurate information can be reported and will go unnoticed if you aren’t keeping track of these things. Some great tools to use to track for credit report accuracy are:

  • Credit Karma– a great FREE tool to check on the accuracy of what is being reported on your report. This app will provide information for Transunion and Equifax. While I love this app for keeping track of what is reported, be aware that their scoring is extremely off! DO NOT rely on this app for accurate scoring.
  • MyFICO– this is probably my favorite credit service because of its accuracy and the fact that it provides actual FICO scores that mortgage companies use. With that being said, it is not free. For a report and scores for all 3 bureaus, I paid $54 monthly. You do have the option of monthly or quarterly reporting. I chose monthly because I was buying a house.
  • Myfreeannualcreditreport– with this service, you are allowed a free credit report annually or once a year.

Once you select the service(s) that you wish to use, now its time to analyze what you have and see what needs to be handled. If you are in a situation like i was where you find yourself with bad credit, look for these things:

  • Do you have any collections?
  • Do you have any rolling late payments? These are your 60-90 late payments. These really hurt your score.
  • Do you have several hard inquiries? This is when you apply for a line of credit and the creditor does a hard check. These can hurt your score but typically fall off in 2 years.
  • Do you carry high balances on your credit card? Are you using more than 30% of your limit?
  • What does your DTI or debt-to-income ratio look like?

Knowing all of this information is very important and will save you and your loan officer time. DO NOT pay for credit repair. This can be done on your own with determination and patience. If you have any collections, call the company and see what they will accept to settle your account. Also, make sure that they verbalize that they will remove the collection from your report and settle to a $0 balance after payment is received.

Once you start the journey of purchasing a house, DO NOT miss any payments, overdraft your account or apply for any new lines of credit.

A little secret that will help boost your score is secured or unsecured credit cards. If your credit is subpar, you may qualify for an unsecured card where you have to put money up first and that will determine your limit. After sometime, you could be eligible for a secured card and an increased limit. Check with your bank or local credit union to see your options.

Pack Your Patience

When you’re dealing with credit repair, it takes time!! Jumping 100+ points doesn’t happen overnight so keep that in mind when purchasing. Make sure you have a secure place to stay for at least a year. Also, paying off the necessary debt takes time and money, so to avoid exhausting yourself mentally and financially, set a timeline and stick to it. Depending on your situation, 1-2 years is a goo goal to aim for. 🙂

Remember, depending on your credit situation and finances, this could take some time and lots of work. Only you can determine how bad you want this and you have to do the work.

What Is Your DTI (Debt to Income)Ratio?

Knowing your DTI before reaching out to a loan officer is helpful but if you don’t know, most officers will tell you where you stand and what you qualify for. This was my exact situation. I knew that i wanted to buy a house but I didn’t really know what was needed behind the scenes. I was really blessed to have found the best mortgage company in my area. Working with Sonya at Premier Nationwide Lending was such a great experience. She was extremely knowledgeable about her work and it was always evident that she cared about me as a client. When making the biggest purchase of your life, knowing that you have a well-informed attentive loan officer really eases the anxiety that you are sure to experience in this process.

Do You Have Steady Income?

When financing a home, you will need to verify your income and have a steady work history. Typically 2 years or more at a job will be accepted. Your income and your DTI will all determine what you will qualify for. With that being said, what you qualify for and what you can afford are two totally different things that you need to keep in mind. Yes, you may qualify for a $200k home but can you afford it? Thats the real question.

Make sure you’re able to verify your place of employment and that you are able to provide pay stubs and tax returns. You may have to provide pay stubs more than once, once you start the process.

How Does Your Bank Account Look?

As superficial as it may sound, the status of you bank can make or break this process if not ruin it all together. Are you constantly overdrafting your account? Are there large sums of money being moved around? Do you have suspicious deposits? All of these things can raise flags in the Underwriting process and could result in your loan application being denied.

You want to make sure you have funds secured for the costs that you as the buyer may have to cover.

Try to avoid overdrafts and make sure you have a Savings established. You want to be prepared in the event you have to cover closing costs or any other expenses that may arise in the process. It doesn’t have to be 6 figures but a little nest egg would be recommended. After all, you are buying a house!!

Time To Get Preapproved

Preapproval is very important because it tells you what you qualify for. Knowing what you qualify for is important because you don’t want to shop for a house that you can’t afford nor do you want to waste your time. Once you have the preapproval letter in hand, its time to go SHOPPING!!!

Down Payment Assistance

If you need down payment assistance, they are many programs around that can help. Depending on your job or income, there may be a program for you. If you’re a first time home-buyer, an FHA loan may be best for you.

Is A Realtor Necessary?

This is a pretty controversial question because some people are all about working with a realtor while others prefer to cut out the middle man and find their own home. I personally decided to work with a realtor and I am so glad I did. In my search for a realtor, I decided to work with Ashley Cochran with Charleston Southern Homes.

Having a realtor is, in my opinion, very essential. Not only will they send you results tailored specifically to the type of home you’re looking for, they will also handle all of the negotiations, paperwork and jargon that you just don’t have time to handle. A good realtor will answer all of your questions and make sure you have what you’re looking for. I found all of this to be true during my experience with Ashley. She was very attentive to each and every one of my concerns and she exhibited the patience of an angel!! I would recommend her to anyone who desires to buy a home.

Found Your Home? Whats Next?

  • Negotiations- After finding your house, your realtor will step in and negotiate the sales price with the seller and their realtor. This is also the time where your realtor can negotiate to get your closing costs paid for by the seller and possibly the home warranty. A good realtor will get you as much as possible.
  • Home Inspection– Home inspections are optional but its good to have. These usually run between $200 $ $400. The inspector will inspect the house fully and will provide you with the report. Your realtor will then send any mishaps to the seller and discuss if they will be willing to fix anything that came up in the report.
  • Appraisal– The appraisal determines the value of the house. The price of this varies. If the appraisal comes in low, the lender will either deny the loan or your realtor will negotiate and see if the seller will accept the appraisal value. If the appraisal comes in high, that’s great for you! You just gained equity going into a new home. The results of the appraisal are shared between you and your realtor. The seller will not have this information.
  • Closing– Once all of the aforementioned steps are complete and no other issues has arisen, you will be ready to close. At closing, you will be met by the closing attorney, your lender and your realtor. The seller may be present as well but its not totally common. The attorney will go over the terms of your mortgage loan as well as well as any other fees that were paid. Your lender may follow suit to further explain your loan and closing costs.

Congrats, You’re a Homeowner!

You have jumped leaps and bounds to get the house of your dreams and you’ve made it to the finish line!!! You’re a homeowner!!! Enjoy your new home and be sure to register and share your registry with your friends and family! Now, go enjoy shopping for house decor. 🙂

I hope you all enjoyed this detailed overview of how I purchased my first home and that you’ll be able to reference this when you decide to make the best investment of your life. You wont regret it! As always, Be blessed and stay safe. XoXo

Spring Time In The City

Spring time is by far my favorite season with Fall coming in at a hard second!! There’s something about the colors and the newness of spring that makes me feel rejuvenated. Its like God is speaking through his beautiful creations….Nature. Its also a great time for fashion! I love expressing the Spring season through my outfits. Some of my favorite colors are yellows and pinks. I have even taken a liking to lavenders. I would love to share with you guys how I pair items together to create the perfect Spring look. I will also be shouting out some boutiques for you to check out as well.

Flaunt Your Season!!

During Spring (or any season), I love to wear colors that compliment the season. Makes it more alive! As you know, yellow is one of my favorite seasonal colors, so when I saw these amazing yellow flare pants, I had to snag them!! Flare has made such a huge comeback and should be in every girls wardrobe. These comfortable flair pants paired with this cute simple crop top made for the perfect Spring outfit. To add a little pizazz, as I did, throw on a cute hat. A super easy way to dress up a causal outfit.

Another great seasonal color that I love is blue. Powder and baby blues are such soft cozy colors and such suitable colors for the season. This maxi dress from Subtle & Sass Boutique (@subtle_and_sass) is perfect for the everyday woman. I love clothing that can be used in a variety of settings. This dress is that. Great for church or brunch, this dress wont disappoint. To be a little extra as I usually am, I adorned my head with a flower headband. What types of accessories do you like?

I love a nice pair of jeans! I found my perfect jean shopping at Fashion Nova. Skinny, bootcut or flare, their jeans provide the best stretch and accentuates my assets in the perfect way! I love a good dark wash because it makes colors pop. Paired with this tropical off the shoulder top and wedged sandals, this outfit screams HAPPY HOUR!

Jumpsuits will forever remain a staple in my wardrobe because its easy..its literally a whole outfit in one! A little hack for those who are fashion challenged. Jumpsuits come in a variety of styles and colors and even range from really casual to super dressy! You cant go wrong with one.

Strolling Downtown in this rusty orange number with white accessories. The white really brightens everything up to create a clean look. Finding colors that can be easily matched with other colors is a good rule of thumb because you can essentially create many looks using the same base. Work smarter, not harder.

Its Fashion. Have Fun!!

Looking your best doesn’t have to be hard. Find your comfort zone and work from there. Fashion is suppose to be fun and a way for people to express themselves. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Experiment with colors and styles. Get dressed up and take fun pictures. Life in itself already comes with challenges and trial. Your closet doesn’t have to.

I hope you guys enjoyed this content and have found new ways to style and add to your wardrobe. Thank you so much for the continued love and support. Stay safe amidst this crisis and a always God Bless. xoxo

30 & Running Out of Time

What Just Happened!?

Have you ever sat and thought, “Wow!! This year really flew by!” With every speeding year that flies by, we get older…and older..and…older. The more birthdays you have, the more you began to realize that you’re getting older and time is running out. The anxiety begins to kick in as you think of all the things you haven’t accomplished yet. Maybe you don’t have the cookie cutter life that society wants you to think you should have. You know the one. Married by 23. Two children. A house on the hill with the white picket fence? Yea, that one. Is that really realistic? Is it fair for society to put those type of expectations on someone? Regardless of your answer, we know that it happens and it is a very real societal pressure that we’re going to delve into today. Grab your wine glass ladies!!

How We Got Here

In many cultures, men and women are expected to be married and have children by a certain age. I was reading a blog post that in Chinese cultures, if a woman is in her 30’s and still unmarried, she is considered a “leftover” or undesirable. In African culture, the father picks a husband for his daughter and there is immense pressure for you to be married early and have children. My father is from Senegal, West Africa and I have definitely felt the pressure of this age old tradition. Can you imagine the choice of being forced to keep up tradition or to be an embarrassment to you family? The black sheep even.

These standards are felt even more if you live in the South!! As you’re scrolling through social media, you see proposal after proposal and pregnancy announcements. Its not unlikely that this will lead you to believe that you’re missing out or that somethings wrong with you. Honey, there isn’t ANYTHING wrong with you! These close minded traditional views are tiring.

Anything you do in life should be done because of YOUR passion and desire to do it. Not because your family is pressuring you or because you don’t want to feel left out.

It makes you wonder how many people rushed to get married or have children because they didn’t want to be looked at as “damaged” , awkward or as a “leftover”.

Don’t Succumb To The Pressure!!

As a woman who is in her 30’s AND a single mom, I have felt these pressures on a whole other level!! Coming from a Christian background on my mothers side and an traditional African background on my fathers side, the pressure is real to not disappoint anyone. From my own personal experiences in life as well as seeing “epic fails” in other peoples lives, I have learned that:

  • You CANNOT live for someone else. Some people failed in their own lives and endeavors so they try to project their failed dreams onto you in hopes of reliving that moment they lost. They lived their life. Live yours!!
  • Do what YOU’RE comfortable with and what makes you happy. Some people take jobs because their parents said so. Some people marry because their family said so or pressure from society caused them to fold. At the end of the day, can you sleep at night with the decisions you’ve made or will you live in regret?
  • Be CAREFUL who you ask for advice. When someone gives you advice they’re are sharing based on THEIR perceptions and beliefs. If someone married for money because they didn’t want to work or because they wanted to secure themselves financially then their advice to YOU may be to do the same thing regardless of love.

If It Makes You Happy

I don’t want this to turn into a soapbox session but I just want to encourage men and women to slow down and take a breath. Enjoy your life at every moment and know that God makes no mistakes. As we grow anxious and impatient, what may seem like an eternity for us is only seconds to God. Allow him to create the masterpiece that you deserve. That masterpiece could be a job you’ve been waiting for, a house, a husband/wife or even the ability to conceive. Whatever your desire is, it will all work out in the end and it will be well worth it.

I hope you guys enjoyed this read! Thanks for tuning in. Continue to be safe. Continue hygienic practices to avoid getting sick and as always, be blessed!! xoxo

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year guys!! We made it into another year.. another DECADE!! How crazy exciting is that!? I was listening to an elderly man speak at church on Sunday and he said how foreign the year 2020 sounded to him. Like something out of a science fiction movie. As mind blowing as it may be, WE MADE IT!! Whose ready for a prosperous year?

I had 3 weeks of vacation for winter break and I enjoyed every second of it. I had time to sit and meditate on how good 2019 was and what goals I’d like to accomplish in 2020. Creating a visual or writing down what you’ve done and accomplished in the past will help you paint a more accurate visual for your future goals. After doing this for myself, I realized that my goals for 2020 would be pretty simple because I had already laid the groundwork in 2019. Pretty neat huh!?

I am starting with 4 solid goals for this year. I believe that these will be fairly easy to achieve due to the work I’ve done last year. You guys just snagged front row seats to what my goals are for 2020. Enjoy!

End Procrastination

One of my goals for the new year is to stop procrastinating. I can be sitting in front of my laptop preparing a new blog post and suddenly my mind will go blank. Instead of working through the brain fog,(omg.. its happening now) I just put it off and say “ill do it later on.” Of course “later on” never comes. Procrastinating will only set you back and I’m only moving forward in 2020!!

Homeowner??

Could this year be my year to be an official homeowner? In 2019, I dedicated the whole year to getting my finances and bills in order. There is nothing better than having a peace of mind financially and not worrying about bill collectors calling you or beating down your door. This was a big goal of mine and accomplishing that goal was a breath of fresh air. Another challenge that I began to work on was budgeting. Creating all of these healthy habits was something I wanted to have before purchasing my first home. I truly believe that when I step foot into my new house, I wont have a lot of unnecessary stress because of those steps I took prior to making this huge purchase. The most expensive thing you’ll ever buy!

Networking In Action

My 3rd goal for the new year is to put my networking skills in action. Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to meet and network with different business owners, photographers and other bloggers locally and afar. This year I will be taking those connections and putting them into action. Without giving too much away, I have a few projects that I’m working on and I’m excited to see them come alive. Stay tuned.

Be Intentional

2019 was such a whirlwind of excitement and challenges and one take away from those experiences was to remember to be intentional in everything you do. What do I mean by be intentional? When you do something, don’t just do it to do it. Do it with PURPOSE! Do it with conviction. Hold yourself accountable and be consistent. You’ve already done the work, do yourself a favor and be intentional. You owe it to yourself.

In Conclusion

Thank you for sticking me as i try to find the best schedule to bring you all consistent entertaining content. I am still learning and growing and i thank you for seeing something in me that made you want to subscribe.

I came across this quote that said, ” Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.” Let that quote be motivation for you. It doesn’t matter if you fail once or twice. What matters is are you going to get up, dust yourself off and try again? Stay safe and be blessed. xoxo

Social September!!

Hey guys!!!! Omgoodness!!! Can you believe how fast this year is whizzing by? September is gone and October is here! After my 30th birthday, I began to resonate on how short life is and how quickly time goes by. Do those things you’ve been putting off. Take that vacation. Buy those shoes. Go Dancing. Fall in love. Time isn’t going to wait for you to do those things that you continue to put on the back burner.

September was such a great month (this whole year has been). It was a month of social gatherings and events. I had great opportunities to make new friends and meet other bloggers in the area.

Charleston has such an awesome social scene that I had never really focused on due to work and other priorities. Thank goodness for groups such as @lowcountryladies for hosting monthly events for women to get together and wind down..or turn up!! LOL

Parcel 32; located in King Street, is such a great space to meet for a luncheon or a girls night after getting off work. The upstairs Parlour area is BEAutiful!! IT’s definitely a must see. I cant wait for the next event.

Subtle & Sass

Have you ever wanted to have a shopping experience that was one to remember? An experience where you had your own personal stylist that served food and beverages for you to enjoy while you shop? If your answer is “Yes”, then you must check out Subtle & Sass. An indoor boutique beautifully ran with cute, comfy and trendy fashion in mind.

I, along a few other bloggers got the opportunity to participate in a photo shoot showcasing a few items from the collection. Working with Charleston photographer, Sami Fuentes (@sami.fuentes) was such a great experience. She showed great professionalism, patience and talent. Charleston has so many hidden gems and Subtle & Sass boutique is one of them !

Fitness Can Be Fun!!!

Have you ever started something and halfway through you realize you weren’t ready!? Well, that’s what happened to me when I decided to participate in a Citadel pre-game workout. Hosted by Oblique Magazine and Gunnar_Made, this intense workout was an awesome and fun way to get my cardio in (enough cardio for the year!!!LOL) and a great warm-up to the game that kicked off that evening.

The crew was awesome and the atmosphere was totally judgment free. If you felt like you were falling behind, someone was always there to push you along. If you are into fitness and/or looking for a trainer or fitness events in the Charleston area, I would definitely check out Gunnar_Made on Instagram and Oblique Magazine.

Hustle & Glow

I am always up for an opportunity to get glammed up!! This Hustle & Glow event, hosted by @hoangviton and Oblique Magazine, was such an awesome moment to show up and Glow up!! Upon showing up at the White Room, we were showered with drinks, food, and giveaways. There was even a panel of skincare specialists to educate us about how products work and what type of services they offer. If you are looking for an affordable estheticans, check out Guinot Institut. They are located in Mount Pleasant and soon opening another store in Summerville.

Make Time for You

Having the opportunity to meet some an awesome group of people has made me realize that its OK to take time out for me. Working is fine and dandy but please remember to unwind and relax. Find a local group and go to the social events. Meet new people. Make new friends. Time is short and memories are priceless.

As always guys, thank you for reading, Be safe and God Bless!! xoxo

5 Things I Learned About Being A Christian

When I first started out on my newfound walk with Christ, for sure I thought that the journey would be easy-peasy…sunshine and butterflies!! Don’t get me wrong. Having a sense of security, knowing that you have salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, does make life easier but lets not forget, we are still beings going through a very real life experience. That means we will face DAILY challenges (work, peer pressure, financial issues, etc) and facing and overcoming them is enough added pressure in itself.

I would like to share 5 things that I have learned thus far in MY journey and I hope by sharing them, you can maneuver through your own personal journey effortlessly.

Disclaimer: These are MY thoughts and experiences on MY journey and to be taken as nothing more than advice to you and yours. 🙂

(1) Rome Wasn’t Built in A Day

After I gave my life to Christ, I went into full blown Super Christian mode! I told myself that I would be the best Christian anyone ever saw. I would read my bible 3 times a day. I prayed in the morning, noon and night and even prayed while falling asleep. I would beat myself up if I was a minute late for Sunday School. Although God wants us to be the best we can be, I don’t think he meant for us to kill ourselves trying nor condemn ourselves for not being perfect. Perfection will never be attained in this human vessel and I had to realize that for myself.

(2) Be Honest with Yourself

Once I came to the realization that I couldn’t be this Super Perfect Super Christian, I began to calm down and take one day at a time. The reason why being honest with yourself is so critical is because it allows you to not have unrealistic expectations. We know that achieving perfection is nearly impossible, so why place that expectation on yourself? In no way am I saying settle for lackluster performance but don’t condemn yourself if you miss a day of reading your bible. I am speaking from experience. I would literally feel worthless if I missed bible study or if i didn’t pray morning, noon and night. These things are important but beating yourself up mentally and emotionally isn’t Gods way. God knows that we could never achieve perfection, which is why he sent his son Jesus Christ to die for us.

(3) Change Is Necessary

We know that there is nothing that can separate us from Gods love; however, its also important to know that we cannot live our same old lives and expect to bear the fruit of a child of God. Being baptized and asking God for forgiveness are 2 great essential steps on your walk with Christ but you also have to make a physical change. Changing your way of thinking. Changing your social circles. Changing your habits. Change is necessary because without it, you will never grow.

Here’s a point for you. When I became a police officer, I began to change my group of friends. This was necessary because the group I used to hang out with didn’t align with the values and morals that came with being a police officer. Its the same principle with your journey. When you become a new person in Christ, you cant continue to hang around those who are not walking the same road as you. If two people are together but have different paths in their viewpoint, you’re bound to stray away from each other OR you make yourself vulnerable to the chance of being pulled in their direction. You make the choice. Clean house or be led astray.

(4) Be Intentional

Are you on this journey because of fear or are you on this journey because you want to be intentional about your love and gratitude to God? I remember a time when I used to attend church because I was trying to make my aunt happy. Then I remember a time when I did it because…everyone else was doing it. When I made the conscious decision to go because I wanted to go, I felt so light. So weightless. I was no longer under the pressure of making someone else happy. Isn’t that beautiful!? Being intentional about your journey is essential because you need to know who you’re doing this for. This is between you and God and you should only be doing this to build your relationship with Him. Lately it seems like being a Christian is the latest trend. Its the cool thing to do right now. Being a Christian is cool but its more than a fad. Its a way of life. This is your soul that we’re talking about people!! God was intentional when he sent his son to die for our sins. Can’t we be intentional about our love and devotion to him?

(5) Mind Your Business

Last but not least, we have come to one of the most important steps. Minding your business. Staying focused on yourself and your journey. I learned how important this step was after a head-on experience that I had.

I would see how people would claim to be Christian but they continued to live like everyone else with no thoughts of changing. This would frustrate me to the point where I began questioning myself. This is why you have to focus on yourself and mind your own business. Focusing on others will have you lost and confused about your own journey.

Some people believe that going to church every Sunday will suffice for them. Others believe that they don’t need to change their ways at all and that’s the thing. Everyone has their own thoughts and beliefs and this is exactly why you have to focus on yourself. This journey is hard enough dealing with your own thoughts, trials and desires. Don’t add more unnecessary strife by dabbling in others life.

In Conclusion

We have covered a lot of ground and I hope it wasn’t too much to take in. This journey can become overwhelming at times but it can also be rewarding and a true eye opener to how much God really loves us. Just remember to continue to spread Gods love and remember his word.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13