Patrick Russo, Realtor® | Wilton Real Estate, Weston Real Estate, Ridgefield Real Estate


If you plan to buy a house, you'll want to apply for a mortgage before you launch your house search. That way, you'll have your finances in order and can narrow your home search accordingly.

Ultimately, there are several steps that you should take prior to applying for a mortgage, and these are:

1. Check Your Credit Score

A bank or credit union likely will analyze your credit score as it reviews your mortgage application. However, you can find out your credit score free of charge before you kick off the mortgage application process.

You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Submit a request for your credit report today, and you can receive comprehensive insights into your credit history.

2. Examine Your Earnings and Debt

How much you currently earn and your outstanding debt could play pivotal roles in your ability to acquire a favorable mortgage. Thus, you'll want to examine these factors closely so that you can better understand how lenders will view your mortgage application.

Also, if you have lots of outstanding debt, there is no need to worry. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about your debt and pay it off, you can increase the likelihood of obtaining a favorable mortgage.

3. Establish a Budget

Although a mortgage may prove to be essential to buy a house, it is important to consider various homebuying expenses as well.

For example, you may need to pay closing costs, home inspection fees and other expenses throughout the homebuying process. If you're worried about having the necessary finances to cover these costs, you may want to start saving money for them as soon as possible.

It often helps to account for the costs associated with cable, electricity, internet and other home must-haves too. The aforementioned homeownership expenses can add up quickly, but those who plan ahead can ensure they have sufficient funds available to cover these costs.

As you prepare to search for a house, it usually is a great idea to hire a real estate agent. This housing market can help you prepare for each stage of the homebuying cycle and ensure you can achieve your homebuying goals.

Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you and find out what you want in a dream house. This housing market professional then can keep you up to date about residences that match or exceed your expectations.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent understands that no one should be forced to overspend to acquire their ideal residence. As such, this housing market professional will make it simple for you to discover a terrific house at a budget-friendly price.

Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent for guidance before you apply for a mortgage. With a real estate agent at your side, you can learn about lenders in your area and find one that can provide you with the financing that you need to purchase your dream house.


Although property buyers fall in love with a home for different reasons, there are four factors that generally cause people to prefer one house over another.

For sellers, the cost of making their home more appealing to buyers can vary widely. It depends on how recently they've painted, updated, and made improvements to their property -- both inside and out.

When it comes to owning and maintaining a residential property, one thing's for sure: Deterioration is going to happen! It's also human nature to postpone taking care of needed updates, minor repairs, and issues like fading paint. Even though the condition of your home may feel comfortable to you, prospective buyers will see things through a different lens. If you think you're "too close to the trees to see the forest," your real estate agent can provide you with valuable tips and an objective point of view.

While there are a lot of qualities house hunters look for when they're sizing up a house, here are a few key factors that can make the difference between a quick sale and a home that lingers on the market for months or more.

  • Brightness: Inadequate light -- both natural and artificial -- can have a negative impact on the impression your home makes on potential buyers. If you're fortunate enough to have newer windows that let in lots of natural light, then the look and feel of your home will be much more appealing. Heavy drapes can detract from that effect, as can overgrown bushes and trees. Lighting fixtures that are noticeably outdated or glaringly bright will also work against you. Since one of your objectives as a seller is to make your home as appealing and cheerful as possible, proper lighting is a feature that's well worth keeping in mind.
  • Cleanliness: A factor that comes in "a close second" to brightness is cleanliness (Some might even put it in the number-one spot). Visible signs of dust, dirt, spills, or smudges can make an otherwise attractive home unappealing to prospective buyers. Undesirable odors can also turn off most, if not all people that come over to check out your house. A solution for some sellers is to have their house cleaner stop by more often to help them stay one step ahead of dirt, grime, and household messes.
  • Freshness: There are a lot of ways to create a feeling of freshness in your home, including opening windows (weather permitting), adding a coat of neutral-colored paint to scuffed walls, and displaying fresh flowers in a couple rooms -- especially the kitchen. Baking soda can also help eliminate unpleasant odors in your refrigerator, sink, and garbage disposal.
While all homes for sale have different needs, in terms of staging, decorating, cleaning, upgrading, and repairing, a seasoned real estate agent can point out strategies, ideas, and improvements that will help you put your best foot forward!

In many ways, the quality of your life is determined by the condition of your home. If it feels like your home is in disrepair, messy, or cluttered, you're not going to feel comfortable or satisfied with your living situation. While perfection is an unattainable standard, there are a lot of simple things you can do to keep your home in good condition and prevent problems.

Train Your dog. Although many people own dogs and consider them to be a cherished part of the family, not everyone takes the time to properly housebreak, exercise, and train their pets. Dogs are very eager to please, but they need clear guidelines to understand what you expect of them. Some dogs also tend to express frustration or restlessness in destructive ways if they're not given enough attention, exercise, or toys/treats to chew on. It's not uncommon for dogs to chew on furniture, shoes, or other valued possessions if their needs are not met. Ideally, people should research dog breeds before actually purchasing a household pet. That way you can know more about temperament, exercise requirements, and training potential before you bring a puppy into the family. In addition to helpful online videos on raising obedient dogs, pet supply stores periodically offer low-cost training classes for dogs and their owners. Effectively housebreaking your pet in the first few days and weeks of adopting them is a key aspect of a harmonious pet/owner relationship. Otherwise, your furniture, hardwood floors, and carpeting could be subject to irreparable damage!

Use Furniture Sliders: Hardwood floors can be a mixed blessing. On one hand, they're a high-quality, nice-looking material that enhances the look and feel of your home. On the other hand, it can be difficult to prevent scratching, scuffing, and even gouging of those beautiful surfaces. One solution, which is easy on both your floors and your pocketbook, is to put felt or plastic furniture sliders under the legs of your tables, chairs, and ottomans. Not only can you prevent or reduce hardwood floor scratching that inevitably happens when furniture is dragged across a floor, but it also makes it easier to rearrange furniture.

Maintain Your Rain Gutters: Properly working rain gutters serve the useful purpose of channeling water away from your roof, eaves, and foundation. By making sure your gutters are not clogged up with leaves, branches, and other debris, you can help protect your home from water damage. If the downspout of your rain gutter empties water too close to your house, you can often correct that by purchasing and attaching an inexpensive extension. Routing water away from your foundation can help prevent basement leaks, cracking, and crumbling. It can also be part of a multi-faceted approach to preventing basement mold.

Control Clutter: Household clutter not only degrades the appearance of your home (for both you and your guests), but it's a known source of psychological stress. Taking the first step to reduce clutter is usually the most difficult part of the process, but once it's a habit, maintaining a clutter-free home becomes infinitely easier!


Whether it's for your children or grandchildren starting a kid-friendly garden is a rewarding activity for everyone. It’s a great hobby to enjoy together and a wonderful learning experience for you both.

Start by sectioning off a piece of your yard or garden just for them. If you already have a garden or plan on starting one of your own this will allow your child to have a space of their own and protect your more advanced plants from their inexperience. They will love to have a corner for themselves! Allow them to do as they please here and decorate it as they wish.

When putting their garden together don’t make all the decisions for them. Allow them to pick out which plants to grow and/or where they will be planted. Help them choose from plants they are already familiar with or to create a themed garden such as a pizza, rainbow or alphabetical garden. Herbs and edible flowers make for an exciting sensory experience and make great additions to a child-friendly garden.

After choosing what to plant start with your seedlings indoors. Now is a great time to start educating them about the growing process, what to expect and what their role in helping their new plants grow will be. Visit the library together to check out some books all about gardening. Children’s educational books with lots of bright, colorful pictures and easy to read words will help them feel like this really is their project and responsibility to learn about.

If choosing potted plants take them with you and teach them the signs of a healthy plant. Allowing them to choose which plant to take home will create excitement and ownership over the gardening process.

Assign your child age-appropriate tasks for caring for their garden and assist them where needed. As much as it is their garden they will need your help to keep it alive and thriving. This could be planting the initial seedlings, weekly watering, or regular weeding. And be sure to include them when it comes time to harvest all of your hard work together!

Keep the learning process and excitement alive with activities to track the progress of their garden. Consider helping them start a plant journal where they can track color, growth or draw depictions of their plants. You could also keep a photo record of your child standing next to the plant each week to track its growth in a fun, visual way.

Gardening is an enriching, relaxing and educational pastime for adults and children alike. Spend quality time with your child by helping them start a garden of their very own, even if it's just a small corner of your own prized garden. Reap the rewards!


Looking to buy a house without having to break your budget? Put together a homebuying roadmap, and you can increase your chances of finding a top-notch house that falls within your price range.

Ultimately, there are many things to consider as you put together a homebuying roadmap, such as:

1. Your Dream Home Definition

Differentiate your dream home must-haves from your wants – you'll be glad you did. If you can determine exactly what you want to find in your dream house, you can narrow your home search accordingly.

For example, if you need a home with multiple bedrooms to accommodate your entire family, you should include this information near the top of your homebuying roadmap. You then can kick off a search of multi-bedroom homes and move closer to finding your ideal residence.

2. Where You Want to Live

Do you enjoy life in the big city? Or, would you prefer to settle down in a small town? Think about where you would like to call home so that you can effectively plan your homebuying journey.

Ideally, you should try to refine your home search to a small collection of cities and towns. This will enable you to speed up your home search and ensure you can find a house that suits you perfectly.

Keep in mind your day-to-day activities as you consider where you want to live too. For instance, if you work in the city, you may want to pursue houses in or near the city itself. On the other hand, you may be able to purchase a small town home for less than what you would have to pay for a city residence and commute into the city for work.

3. Your Homebuying Timeline

Determine how quickly you'd like to finalize a home purchase. That way, you can map out exactly how you want to approach the housing market.

If you are committed to buying a house as soon as possible, you'll need to be proactive. The top houses sell quickly, and if you don't act fast, you risk missing out on your dream residence to a rival homebuyer.

Conversely, if you can afford to be patient, you can avoid pressure throughout the homebuying process. In this scenario, you can pursue houses at your convenience. And once you find the right home, you can submit an offer and finalize your home purchase.

When it comes to creating a homebuying roadmap, it generally helps to get support from a real estate agent. In fact, this housing market professional can provide plenty of assistance throughout the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent will learn about your homebuying goals and help you develop a successful homebuying roadmap. Furthermore, he or she can keep you up to date about new homes as they become available and make it easy to discover a wonderful residence at a budget-friendly price.

Ready to get started on the process of purchasing a house? Consider the aforementioned items as you create a homebuying roadmap, and you can plan a successful homebuying journey.