Home Finance 101 for First-Time Home Buyers

Piggy bank and house symbolizing real estate
Before you start the home-buying process, you need to understand how financing a home works. (DepositPhotos)

People interested in buying a home are often overwhelmed with all the information they need to know about the process. To save time and money, you need a basic overview of home finance options.

Not all properties and locations are equal, and in many
cases, the local market and location that offer premiums to lenders might
determine your options.

Here’s a crash course so you can get the loan that best
suits your needs.

Piggy bank and stacks of cash for down payment
How much are you able to spend on a down payment? That can help determine which kind of loan you need. (DepositPhotos)

The Down Payment

If you are borrowing money from a bank or other lender to purchase a home, you’ll need the initial money or down payment.

With most lenders, a buyer must deposit at least 20 percent
of the borrowed amount, with the lender loaning you the remaining 80 percent.
This means, if you’ve set your sights on a home at around $600,000, you
should’ve saved at least $120,000 before you can borrow the rest.

For first-time buyers, governments often can help, with home finance programs that lower

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The Basics of Lawn Maintenance

Example of good lawn maintenance. Fresh green Bermuda grass, with a tree and bed of ornamental plants.
The trick to growing a thick, healthy lawn is no secret — grass requires regular maintenance to keep it looking good. | Photo Credit: Adobe Stock, © Arunee

If you’re like most homeowners, your vision for your home doesn’t end at the walls of your house. You likely picture a lush, healthy lawn as the perfect surrounding for your family’s home. In most climates, having a pristine lawn is an achievable goal — it just takes some work.

In This Article

Today’s Homeowner works with an independent reviews team to create evidence-based research that helps our readers make informed decisions.
The reviews are always independent. For transparency, we may be compensated if you purchase through a link.

Some homeowners find satisfaction in yard work, mowing, weeding and fertilizing their way to the perfect lawn.

Others prefer to focus their efforts elsewhere and hire professionals to take care of the more time-consuming tasks.

If you fall into the second camp, know that there are plenty of professional lawn service companies out there. The reviews team has researched their services, prices and customer reviews to offer a recommendation.

But first, let’s look at what goes into maintaining a healthy lawn.


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Home Office Makeover

Need a little inspiration on what to do with that spare room in your home? Jen Woodhouse of The House of Wood was able to transform her spare room into her dream home office with the help of The Home Depot. Read more below see how she was able to make it happen.

Hi everyone, it’s Jen Woodhouse here, digging myself out from under months of home renovations! I am thrilled to finally reveal my home office makeover! I am over the moon in love with this space! But first, let’s Tarantino this bad boy and rewind. We need to look at where we started, so we can marvel at how far we’ve come!

The Room Before

This is how the room looked before we moved in. It’s a great space with tons of natural light, but it lacked a clear direction. Is it a study? A playroom? A den? We can’t be sure, but I instantly fell in love with those two gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows! So much natural light floods into this room everyday.

Home Office Makeover Reveal

Here’s what this room looks like now. Drum roll please.

Now that the renovation is done, it’s time for the fun

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Kitchen Renovation with Drawer Microwave

Your kitchen is where delicious meals are created, and pleasant family time is spent. Gina Matsoukas of Running to the Kitchen transformed her kitchen to a more bright and lively space with help from The Home Depot. Check out her entire remodeling process and the new appliance used to modernize her kitchen.

After living in our house for 10 years with a career change halfway through that requires me to be in the kitchen all day long, we finally bit the bullet and decided to renovate. The dark cherry cabinets that closed the space in from the rooms on either side of the kitchen had to go. To get the open feel and additional light that was number one on my priority list, a major structural wall had to come down. It was a major undertaking (and if I never see another microwave meal again, it will be too soon), but many months later the space is exactly as I envisioned it: bright, light and airy. It’s the perfect balance between function and aesthetic.


Kitchen Renovation with Drawer Microwave

The kitchen is located in the center of the house. The only window above the sink faces east. The dark cherry cabinets and the wall

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5 Kitchen and Bath Areas You Need to Clean Now

Woman cleans her kitchen faucet aerator
Do you clean your kitchen faucet’s aerator? Not many homeowners do! (DepositPhotos)

You’ve checked everything off your spring cleaning to-do list. Your floors are spotless, closets decluttered and ceiling fans dust-free. But what about your kitchen and bath areas?

Here are five areas you’re likely neglecting to clean, which could be affecting your family’s health and could cause appliances and to malfunction, hurting your household budget.

Kitchen range hood
How often do you clean your range hood’s filter?

1. Range Hood Filter

Kitchens and baths have appliances and fixtures that are easy to bypass when you’re cleaning the house.

The range hood filter is probably the most overlooked area in the kitchen. Its job is to exhaust grease, smoke and other toxins from the kitchen to the outdoors, leaving behind cleaner air.

You need to clean a kitchen range hood filter to remove grease and grime that can make the fan less effective and shorten its life.

To do this, soak metal filters in hot, soapy water. You can also add a small amount of degreaser or ammonia to the water to help break down stubborn build-up. Wipe down the exterior and underside of the range hood with a sponge and soapy water

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3 DIY Projects for a Perfect Picnic

Picnic basket, tablecloth and food spread out in a backyard
You can plan the perfect picnic, regardless of your budget or skill sets. (DepositPhotos)

Enjoying a meal or snack with family and friends is a great way to relax in your backyard. Whether the outing takes place on a picnic table or a tablecloth spread on the lawn doesn’t matter. Spending quality time with loved ones and getting some fresh air are all you really need.

Here are four
projects you can tackle to create a perfect picnic.

Picnic table, built from pressure treated pine
Building a picnic table that seats eight should take just six hours.

1. Build a Picnic Table

Maximize your
outdoor living with seating for up to eight people. Building a picnic table
isn’t that difficult when you work from plans.

You just need
to purchase the right materials and head to your workshop, or rent tools from
the home center.

A picnic table takes about six hours to build and of course, safety comes first. So, grab some safety glasses, earplugs, work gloves and a dust mask, and then grab or rent some tools and purchase the materials.  


  • Miter saw
  • Radial sander
  • Drill Driver
  • Hammer
  • File or chisel
  • Socket Wrench (with 7/16-inch bit)
  • Combination Countersink Bit (with 1/8-inch bit)
  • ½-inch and
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