Should you move or improve your home in 2023?

You used to love your home. Now, you’re not so sure. So, should you move? Or just improve what you have? Before you decide, there are several key factors you should consider.

What will it cost?

Pricing, of course, depends on the homes or renovations you’re interested in. If you’re upscaling homes, you may have a larger mortgage payment, homeowners insurance premiums and property taxes. On the other hand, if you’re downsizing or moving to a more energy-efficient home, you may reduce some costs.

Buying a home has upfront expenses too, including a down payment, closing costs and moving costs.

Tip: To determine if selling your home might net proceeds to help with these expenses, estimate your home’s potential sale price. Then subtract any mortgage or home equity balances you may have and real estate sales commissions you’ll owe to get a final number.

Home improvement projects can cost a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands. Some may reduce your energy bills, though, and most will increase your home’s resale value. If your existing mortgage interest rate is lower than current market rates, then taking the home improvement route also provides the ability to retain that lower rate.

Tip: You can estimate the amount of funds potentially available to you with a home equity loan or line of credit. Would it be sufficient for the types of home improvements you’re contemplating?

Why do you want a change?

There are some issues you can remodel away — and some you can’t. For example, if you want a better school district, a shorter commute, a nicer neighborhood, a different size yard or a smaller home, moving is probably the right solution.

On the other hand, if you want to update your home’s look and feel, you can accomplish that with remodeling. Replacing kitchen and bathroom fittings, changing out flooring and window coverings, or simply adding a fresh coat of paint can bring new life to the home you have now.

If you need more space, you may be able to add a room, finish the basement, add a second story or alter your home’s floor plan to get it. If these options won’t work, then a new home may be the answer.

What’s your timeline?

Typically, neither moving nor improving are quick propositions. With current home inventories low and prices still relatively high, it may take time to find a property that fits your needs and your budget. Although, if you’re willing to compromise, you may find more options.

With ongoing supply and labor shortages, you might also face delays with a renovation project. However, you may be able to tackle some home updates yourself — from painting to replacing faucets and sinks, to refinishing cabinets.

How do you feel?

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers when deciding whether to stay put or move on. But don’t discount the emotional impacts. What does your heart say? If you find the idea of moving exciting, that’s a vote in its favor. But if you have a strong attachment to your current home, that’s a reason for staying. Paying attention to these emotional impacts, along with the other factors, can help ensure you end up happy with whichever path you take.

Whether you decide to start house hunting or dive into home improvements, we can help you find a financing option to fit your needs. Learn more online about our mortgage and home equity financing solutions. Or call us at 1-844-518-2360.

2023 Landscaping Ideas for Any Budget

Considering a backyard update? Good idea! Beautiful landscaping enhances curb appeal and can increase a home’s resale value as much as 15% to 20%. ¹ Some research even suggests that gardening can improve your mental health. ² Besides, a beautiful outdoor space is simply more enjoyable.

Early spring is a great time to get your plans solidified. You’re likely to find a good selection of plants, contractors are ready to fill their schedules, and depending on your location, the weather will be ideal for landscaping activities.

Not quite sure what you want to do? Here are a few ideas.

5 landscape trends for 2023

  • Lawn replacements. From grass-removal rebates to lawn bans, it’s clear that yards of green aren’t the ideal in many places anymore. In their place: Climate-resilient gardens that include drought-resistant native plants and hardscaping.
  • Productive yards. Mix edible plants with traditional decorative flowers, including varieties that attract birds and bees. Add a tree for some shade to help lower home cooling costs.
  • Nostalgic and English themes. This trend takes its cue from recently popular TV shows. Capture the look with grand arrangements of roses, dahlias, lilac and hollyhock.
  • Greek accents. Place garden containers on Grecian-style platforms, install a stone pathway or go big with Greek statues and columns.
  • Vertical planting. Limited on ground space? Plant upward, with living walls, trellises and vines climbing patio pillars, fences or shed walls. Vertical plantings can also make attractive
    privacy screens or mark off sections of your yard.

5 low- to mid-budget landscaping ideas

  • Spread mulch. It’s a simple way to give your yard a professional look. Mulch can also help prevent weed growth and aid with water retention. It’s ideal for flower beds and bare spots, such as around a mailbox or the base of a tree.
  • Add solar lights. Lighting can add elegance to your yard, spotlight steps and curbs for safety, and make it easier to enjoy your yard even when the sun goes down. Solar lights are easy to find and require no wiring or special skill, making them a perfect DIY update.
  • Plant annuals. These flowers generally cost less than perennials because they last just one year. They’re a simple, low-cost way to dress up your yard, especially if you like to change the look seasonally, want to fill containers or aren’t ready to invest in perennials.
  • Enhance patio edging. Dig a trench around your patio’s border, lay down landscape fabric and top with mulch or landscaping rock. Done!
  • Furnish frugally. For inexpensive and interesting patio and garden furniture, repurpose indoor pieces (from your home or yard sales) for outdoor use. Refinish with exterior paint, wood sealer and outdoor upholstery to help items last longer, particularly if they won’t be under cover.

5 big-budget landscape upgrades

  • Upscale furnishings. Higher-end outdoor furniture may feature luxury materials — such as plush fabrics, brass, copper and marble — or sustainable, eco-friendly materials, like bamboo or recycled plastic.
  • Pergolas or gazebos. Give your yard an al fresco dining area, cozy conversation nook, quiet getaway or perfect party space.
  • Water features. Enjoy the peace and tranquility that water brings to a landscape with an elegant fountain, koi pond, rain garden or waterfall.
  • Fire features. Go beyond a basic fire pit with an elaborate outdoor fireplace built of natural stone, an artistic fire bowl or a custom fire table filled with glass beads.
  • Smart landscapes. Run a Bluetooth audio system outdoors, control your landscape lighting from your smartphone, optimize water use with WiFi-controlled irrigation, even use an automower to trim the lawn for you.

Your happy place

Whether you decide to go with the latest trends, have a big budget or a small one, remember the most important part about landscape updates: They should make you love spending time in your personal outdoor space!

Interested in taking your home improvements indoors? Read our article on interior projects that can increase your home’s value and lower energy expenses.

When it comes to paying for your project, consider all the available options to choose the one that best fits your needs. Savings and credit cards can be useful for smaller jobs, while leveraging home equity can be a good way to finance larger projects and personal loans are handy when your available equity is limited. We’d be happy to help you review your choices. Visit us online or call 1-844-518-2360.

6 Steps to Prepare for Your Next Home Purchase

You’ve decided to buy a new home, and you’re excited to start looking through the listings. But before you do, make sure you’re financially prepared. The checklist below can increase your odds of qualifying for a mortgage on the best terms available. Hint: Starting three to six months before you begin house hunting will give you time to make any needed “fixes” to your finances.

1: Check your credit report and credit score.

The better they are, the more mortgage options you’ll have and the better chance you’ll qualify for the best interest rates. Be sure to review your credit report carefully to ensure it accurately reflects your payment history and current credit obligations. You can get free copies of your credit reports once a year at

Check with your bank and credit card providers to see if they offer free credit score reporting. Think twice before paying to see your score — if your credit history is good, your credit score is likely solid as well.

Hint: To improve your credit score, focus on reducing debt, paying your bills on time and getting any late payments up to date. Making your mortgage payments on time is especially important. Avoid closing or opening any credit or loan accounts within a few months of applying for a mortgage.

2: Assess your cash reserves.

Knowing what you have available for a down payment and closing costs can help determine your homebuying budget. Lenders will also want to see enough reserves, after you close on your new mortgage, to cover a few months of mortgage payments. Cash reserves may include savings, retirement and investment accounts, financial gifts, down payment assistance funds
and grants.

3: Determine your ability to repay.

Review your budget to determine what monthly mortgage payment — including principal, interest, homeowners insurance and property taxes — you’re comfortable with. Also, be sure to leave room in your budget for ongoing home upkeep and emergencies.

4: Gather your application paperwork.

Having the right documents handy can help streamline the pre-approval and application process. While every lender has its own checklist, most will require:

  • W-2s, past two years
  • Proof of income (such as pay stubs or pension statements), past 30 days
  • Financial account statements (including checking, savings, investments, retirement accounts), past two months

5: Get pre-approved.

A pre-approval is a written commitment from a lender saying they’ll fund a mortgage for a specific amount. It shows sellers you’re a serious buyer who is financially ready to make a home purchase.
Pre-approvals require you to provide documentation of your finances and complete a loan application. It’s much stronger than a pre-qualification, which is a more informal, loan officer administered process.

As part of getting pre-approved, your lender should also help you understand the different mortgage options available to you and which best meet your needs.

Hint: If your pre-approval doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, ask the lender for advice on steps you can take to improve your financial profile before trying again.

6: Prepare to negotiate.

You won’t negotiate until you make an offer, but it’s smart to have a plan. For instance, know your budget limit so you’re prepared to negotiate a price up to that point, but not beyond. Consider how flexible you can be with the closing date and contingencies. For instance, would you allow the seller to stay and rent back the home for a period of time after the sale? Might you need to delay closing until your current home sells? Also, have an idea of what types of repairs you’re willing to make yourself in exchange for a lower price point.

Remember to start on your preparations early. When you’re ready to start house hunting, you’ll feel confident about qualifying for a mortgage that lets you buy the home of your dreams!

For homebuying tools, to learn about Lakeview Home Rewards and to find a real estate agent, visit our Real Estate Center. To learn more about Lakeview mortgages, click here. If you’re ready to get pre-approved, call 1-855-294-8564. If you’d like to start a mortgage application, go online or call 1-844-518-2360.

9 Home Improvements to Add Value or Save Energy

If you’ve been thinking about home improvements, this is a great time of year to explore your options, obtain cost estimates and decide how to finance the project. To kick off your planning, consider the projects below. Each is focused on reducing your energy bills or adding value to your property — while helping you and your family enjoy your home even more.

Projects to Improve Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an average home could see a 25% reduction in total utility costs by implementing energy efficiency measures.1 An energy audit can help you identify improvements that will make the biggest impact on your budget. (You can learn more about energy audits at The projects below address some typical areas of opportunity. Many may even qualify for tax breaks under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (restrictions apply, so talk with your tax advisor for details).

  1. Replace older, single-pane windows with low-E double-pane models to reduce your energy bill by an average of 12%.2 Adding energy-efficient storm windows could potentially reduce heating and cooling costs from 10%-30%.4
  2. Update major appliances. On average 43% of a home’s utility expenses are for heating and cooling, 12% for heating water and 15% accounted for by other major appliances.5 Newer energy-efficient appliances may help reduce those expenses by consuming less energy and having lower operating costs.
  3. Add insulation. Ninety percent of single-family homes in the U.S. don’t have adequate insulation. Making improvements may save as much as 15% on heating and cooling costs.6
  4. Add solar panels. While this may be expensive and many factors affect how long it will take to recoup your investment, sources say the average payback period is from 8 to 12 years.7

Projects to Enhance Home Value

Home improvements typically increase the value of your property, but that increase is usually less than the project’s cost. The projects below have the potential to recoup 50% to 90% of your investment when it comes time to sell your home, based on Remodeling magazine’s 2022 Cost vs. Value Report.3

The report compares a project’s cost to its potential to increase your home’s resale value. For instance, a $10,000 project that increases your home’s value by $7,000 would recoup 70% of your investment, which is shown below as ROI.

  1. Remodel the kitchen. This project can range from 52% ROI for a major, upscale remodel to 71% for a smaller update.
  2. Remodel a bathroom. For this popular project, you could recoup from 53% of your investment (for an upscale update that expands the room’s square footage) to nearly 59% for a midrange improvement.
  3. Enhance outdoor space. A landscaping upgrade that includes a flagstone walkway, stone planters, mulch, flowering shrubs and a large tree can increase property value as much as 83% relative to the cost of the improvements.8 Even individual improvements — such as adding landscape lighting, a fire pit, water feature, deck or patio can improve your home’s value while helping you enjoy your yard more.
  4. Add a stone veneer. Enhancing your home’s street-facing exterior can reap up to a 91% ROI.
  5. Add a primary bedroom suite. While there are many options for expanding living space, the Remodeling survey findings are based on building a new room over a crawlspace, yielding a 46% ROI for an upscale add-on and 53% for a midrange addition.

Next Steps

If you plan to use professionals for the home improvement projects you want to take on in 2023, talk to friends and family for referrals. Examine contractor websites, read online reviews and check them out with the Better Business Bureau. And always try to get at least two estimates.

When you consider how to finance your project, take into account the project cost and how much of your savings you’re willing to spend. If you’ll need financing, options may include a credit card for smaller jobs, tapping into your home equity for bigger projects or an unsecured personal loan if your available equity is limited.

1 “How much does energy efficiency cost?”, updated July 13, 2020,, accessed Nov. 22, 2022

2 “Energy Star Home Upgrade,”,, accessed Dec. 14, 2022

3 “Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report,”, ©2022 Zonda Media, a Delaware Corporation. Complete data from the Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at

4 “Energy Saver: Storm Windows,” U.S. Department of Energy,, accessed Dec. 14, 2022

5 “Why Energy Efficiency Upgrades,” U.S. Department of Energy,, accessed Nov. 22, 2022

6 “How much could you save by insulating your home” Erin Scottberg, This Old House,, accessed Nov. 22, 2022

7 “Solar Panel Payback Period (How long to recoup costs?),” Josh Hurst, reviewed by Melissa Smith,, posted Dec. 5, 2021,, accessed Dec. 14, 2022

8 “12 Outdoor Upgrades That Make Your Home More Valuable,” Glenda Taylor,,, accessed Dec. 14, 2022

Checklist: 18 Ways to Save Money During Times of Inflation

It’s no secret that you’re paying more for everything these days, from gas at the pump to the electric bill to groceries. And these higher prices are impacting your budget and bank accounts. So, what can you do? Start with these 18 ideas to help save money in four common household spending categories.

Reduce Energy Expenses

  1. Adjust home habits to reduce energy use and costs. For instance, reduce your thermostat a few degrees this winter, only run full loads of laundry and shorten your showers.
  2. Explore home improvements that could lower your homeownership costs – especially smart devices like an automatic thermostat that turns down the temperature when no one’s home, as well as LED light bulbs, low-flow showerheads and energy-efficient appliances. You’ll spend some money upfront but could reduce your monthly energy bill for years to come and potentially increase your home’s value.
  3. Check your mobile phone, cable and internet plans to make sure you aren’t paying for services or features you don’t need. If you have options for companies providing electricity, natural gas, cable, internet or cell service, shop around to find the best deals.
  4. Cut streaming services that you don’t use and watch for special deals – like free 30-day trials.

Lower Insurance Costs

  1. Ask your insurance provider about discounts you may qualify for, such as lower premiums on an auto policy for student drivers with good grades or on your homeowner’s policy if you have a security system. Bundling multiple policies, such as homeowners and auto insurance, may also give you an additional discount.
  2. Review your insurance coverage to make sure it’s appropriate for your needs today. Lakeview’s sister company, Lakeview Household Insurance Solutions, may be able to help with a complimentary policy review to see how much you could save. Of course you’re under no obligation to use them for insurance, and individual savings may vary. This isn’t an endorsement by Lakeview Loan Servicing, LLC.
  3. Decide whether you can raise any deductibles to lower premiums without risking financial jeopardy if you ever have a claim.

Bring Down Debt

  1. Review your spending to see if you can reduce or eliminate any non-essential expenses, particularly if you find that you’re adding new debt.
  2. Implement cost-cutting measures (like the ones here) and put those savings toward paying down debt.
  3. Whenever possible, pay your credit card balances in full during the grace period to avoid interest charges.
  4. Look for credit card balance transfer offers with low introductory rates.
  5. Look for rewards cards that offer cash back, statement credits or other financial benefits.
  6. Consider leveraging your home’s equity to pay down high-interest rate credit card balances with a single lower-interest rate loan.

Trim the Grocery Bill

  1. Clip coupons and examine weekly grocery flyers, use store mobile apps to access more savings options and see if you can sign up for emails that deliver coupons or alert you of sales. It’s an easy way to avoid spending more than you need to.
  2. To minimize impulse buys, make a meal plan for the week and shop with a list based on that plan.
  3. To reduce food waste, look for recipes that help you convert leftovers to new dishes. For instance, have grilled chicken one night, then use leftovers to make sandwiches, fill enchiladas or top a pizza.
  4. Join grocery store rewards programs that offer extra savings, cash back and gas discounts.
  5. Consider joining a local or online shopping club, such as BJ’s or Costco. The money you save could easily exceed the membership fee.

Next Steps

As you consider these ways to save, track your expenses for a month to see what you’re actually spending money on. Then adjust where you can focus your finances on what matters most to you.

If you think leveraging your home equity could help you meet your financial goals, or you’d just like to learn more about it, visit us online or call 1-844-518-2360. We’re here to help!

What is home equity and how can you use it?

“Home equity” is a term that gets used a lot, but many people don’t really understand what it means and how it can be used as a financial tool. So, we’re providing answers to frequently asked questions to help you decide if it’s an option worth exploring for your financial needs.

What is home equity?

Your home equity is your home’s current market value less your mortgage balance and any existing home equity line or loan balances you may have.

Home value:  $500,000
Mortgage balance – $275,000
Home equity = $225,000

How much of my home equity can I borrow?

Lenders will calculate your combined loan to value (CLTV) when determining how much of your equity you may be able to borrow against. CLTV compares your total home-related debt to the value of your home. Lenders usually limit CLTV to no more than 70% to 85% of your home’s value.

To estimate how much home equity you may be able to borrow, first multiply your home value by the lender’s maximum allowed CLTV percentage. Then subtract your mortgage balance from that amount. The result is how much equity you may be able to borrow against.

Home value: $500,000
Current mortgage balance: $275,000
Step 1: $500,000 x .85 (CLTV) = $425,000
Step 2: $425,000 – $275,000 = $150,000 = amount of equity you may be able to borrow against

How can I borrow using my home equity?

There are three common ways to leverage home equity as a financing tool. All usually offer lower interest rates than other forms of financing, like credit cards or personal loans.

  • Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) are revolving lines of credit — meaning you can use funds as you need them (up to your line limit) and, as you pay down your balance, funds become available to use again. HELOCs let you access funds during a draw period (often 10 years), followed by a repayment period (often 20 years) when you can’t withdraw funds and must pay off your balance in full. During the draw period, you’ll make interest-only payments on the funds you withdraw. Most HELOCs have variable interest rates, but may offer the option to lock in a fixed rate on part of your balance.
  • Home Equity Loans provide you with a single lump sum. These loans usually offer the stability of a fixed interest rate and a fixed monthly payment that lets you pay off the full balance within a specific timeframe.
  • Cash-Out Refinancing replaces your current mortgage with a new one that includes your previous mortgage balance and an additional amount for the home equity you want to borrow. You receive the home equity funds in a lump sum when you close on the new mortgage.

What can I use home equity financing for?

You can use home equity financing for nearly anything, including home improvements, managing debt, large or unexpected medical bills, and big-ticket items like a wedding. A line of credit is handy when you have expenses over time, while a loan or cash-out refinance is useful when you need a large sum of money all at once.

What are some home equity financing cautions?

You may want to avoid using your home equity to finance a lifestyle beyond your means or for large purchases that will quickly lose value. If you’re thinking of using home equity financing for a short-term need (e.g., limited to the next 24 months), check if there is a “recapture” fee before closing the account early.