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Easy Unpacking and Organizing Tips for New Homeowners

You’ve gone through the ups and downs of purchasing a home. Now, it’s time to face the unpacking and organizing that will help you truly make the most of your new space. What can you do to make these important tasks easier? First thing’s first, let’s sort some things out.

Home Buying: A Journey and a Destination

Buying a new home is one of the biggest personal and financial experiences that most of us will ever have. It’s a thrilling and life-changing process, in so many ways.

So, if you’ve recently sealed the deal on your new home, we think a bigcongratulations” is in order! After all, just think of all that you’ve been through! From searching through listings, to finally discovering “the one,” to getting your loan, to finishing things up at the closing table, you’ve gone on a real journey.

So: What comes next?  

Now, you’re nearing the end of the road, and it’s finally time to make your new house into a real home. That may mean packing up your things and moving from your old place into your new one. Or it could mean going on a bit of a shopping spree, purchasing new furniture and storage to help fill up your new rooms. Or, maybe, a little of both.

In any case, there’s a bit of work that you’ll have to do before you and your family can really start filling this new spot with fun experiences and happy memories. Chief among your jobs will be unpacking your things and setting up your new space. This can seem daunting. After all, these early days mark your chance to lay out your rooms in the way that really works for you. This is your opportunity to get things started on the right foot, and make transitioning into your new home easier in the short-term, while also setting up the space to meet your long-term visions and goals.

How to Keep Your New Home Feeling Organized

How can you move house, unpack, and set up your new home — all while staying organized and keeping things functional? Here are a few guidelines that may help:

1.) Make the Most of Your Time

It’s important to realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t expect your Chicagoland house to be, either!

Be realistic as you get settled in your new home and come up with a plan of action for unpacking. For example, you may want to set daily goals for yourself and family members, along the lines of “unpack two boxes per day.” Figure out what you need to do and when, and then prioritize each job.

For example, after a long day of work and school, you may want to handle a smaller task, such as unpacking family photos. On a free weekend, you can then turn your attention to bigger projects, like setting up the entertainment center or hanging shelves.

2.) Have the Essentials Ready to Go

Will you be ready to hit the ground running when you set foot in your new home? Many home organization and moving experts recommend preparing boxes with the “essentials.” You may even consider having an essentials box for the whole family, and then have each individual pack one of their own.

Your family essentials box should be filled with things you’ll need right away. Ideas might include cleaning supplies, important documents, dishware, and basic cooking utensils. Each member of the family can also personalize their own box of essentials, which might include a change of clothes, a clean towel, medicines, and so on.

Make sure these boxes are clearly labeled. You may even consider keeping them with you as you hit the road. For example, leave enough space so that you can load the absolute essentials into a car with you, rather than entrusting them to the moving truck. This way, you’ll have the bare basics on hand, even if anything goes wrong during the move.

3.) Work from Room to Room

When you first get started preparing your new home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. With so many boxes and piles of stuff, it can be hard to know where to get started. And then, once you do get things going, it’s easy to feel distracted, especially if you’re constantly hopping from the bedroom, to the living room, to the office, and back again.

Instead, you may want to compartmentalize, by focusing your attention on one room at a time.

To make things easier on yourself, you may want to put boxes in the appropriate rooms right away when you first start moving in. This way, you won’t have to deal with sorting things out later. Then, prioritize your rooms by importance. What will you need, and when will you need it? For example, many home experts recommend starting with kids’ bedrooms, in order to make the transition to a new living space as easy on them as possible. Then you may wish to focus on the kitchen, then the bathrooms, then the living room, and so on.

4.) Have a Plan for Clutter

Moving into a new home is a great opportunity to get rid of things you no longer want or need.

Give yourself ample time before moving into a new home to declutter. Donate, sell, or give away what you can, and responsibly dispose of everything else that you no longer want or have a use for. Some things to target might include extra clothes you no longer wear, duplicate kitchen and bathroom items, toys that the kids have outgrown, and so on.

As you unpack and set up your new home, you may also want set up clutter zones, or staging areas for things that should be thrown out or donated. Even if you’re thorough about decluttering before you pack up, you may still find plenty more things to get rid of as you start to unload in your new space.

5.) Set Your Space Up for Success Down the Line

Start things off on the right foot by organizing as you unpack. Think of this new home as a clean slate, and take advantage of that by laying things out just the way you want them. Have you ever had a dream living room set-up? Or wanted your home office to be oriented in a certain way? Now’s your chance to design the rooms you’ve always wanted!

And don’t forget about organizing. As you unpack and set up your new rooms, go the extra mile ahead of time and organize items in a way that makes sense to you. For instance, in your kitchen, arts & crafts room, or work studio, you may want to store equipment and tools by use, so you’re not scrambling to find things when you need them later. At this point, you may also wish to take advantage of storage containers, and label everything in a way that works for you.

Looking for even more recommendations for your new home? Want to get to know your new Chicagoland neighborhood even better? Be sure to get in touch with your local Baird & Warner agent to keep the conversation going.

The post Easy Unpacking and Organizing Tips for New Homeowners appeared first on Baird & Warner.

Common Types of Mortgages That Home Buyers Should Know

Thinking of purchasing a home?

“This is the largest financial decision you’ll probably ever make,” says Esther Phillips, senior vice president of sales at Key Mortgage Services.

One of the most important things you can do as a first-time buyer is to educate yourself on the ins and outs of financing. For buyers, there are many different types of loan options out there, each with unique advantages and drawbacks.

As a buyer, what types of mortgage loans are available to you? And which type of loan will help put you in the best possible position to achieve your long-term financial goals?


A fixed-rate mortgage has a constant interest rate, and monthly payments that never change for the life of loan. Fixed-rate loans are often thought of as the “classic” or “traditional” mortgage instrument. They offer a great deal of long-term security, protecting you from rising interest rates or changes in the economy.

These mortgages are available with different terms. Most common are terms of 15 or 30 years.

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages
    These loans are popular because they feature a consistent interest rate and steady monthly payments. Because you are locked into your mortgage rate, you won’t have to worry about your expenses going up due to changes in the market, which can make these loans a great, reliable deal for homeowners in the long run. Typically, this option is a good choice for those who are planning to stay in a home for seven years or longer.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages
    This type of loan is amortized for a 15-year period and features consistent monthly payments. Generally, because of the shorter timeframe, 15-year fixed rate loans offer slightly lower interest rates than 30-year, and can allow buyers to build equity and own their home more quickly. However, these loans typically come with higher monthly payments than 30-year fixed-rate loans.


With an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), your interest rate will change periodically. This means that the amount you pay per month could go up or down over time, depending on the state of the market. So, if market rates rise, the variable interest rate will also likely rise, affecting your monthly payment. If market rates decrease, your monthly payment could decrease as well.

Generally speaking, ARMs offer lower interest rates than fixed-rate mortgages. Most ARMs also place caps on the amount that your rate can fluctuate in a month. With some types of ARMs, you can lock in to a fixed interest rate for a set period, and then plan ahead for your pre-determined adjustment interval.

The rule of thumb for adjustable-rate mortgages? The longer you ask the lender to charge you a specific rate, the more expensive the loan will be. It’s important to consider your starting rate, as well as the frequency with which you will face rate changes moving forward.

There are different types of ARMs:

  • Hybrid ARM (such as 3/1 ARM, 5/1 ARM, 7/1 ARM, 10/1 ARM)
    These loans offer some of the benefits of fixed-rate loans, along with some of the benefits of adjustable-rate mortgages. With this arrangement, you’ll have a fixed rate for a set period of time, and then convert to a variable rate down the line. For instance, a 5/1 loan offers a fixed monthly payment and interest for five years, then turns into a traditional adjustable-rate loan for the remainder of the term. These loans can be a good fit for those who plan to move or refinance before their rate adjustment occurs.
  • Annual ARM
    With this type of loan, your rate is recalculated once per year.
  • Monthly ARM
    With this type of loan, your rate is adjusted every month.

Government-Insured Loans

If you meet certain qualifications, you may also be able to attain a loan backed by a federal government program. Several different government agencies have programs in place to back loans for home buyers.

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans
    FHA loans are issued by private mortgage lenders, and insured by the FHA. These loans are designed to assist homeowners who may not have impeccable credit or significant savings for a down payment. An FHA loan may allow a buyer to purchase a home with a smaller down payment. However, there are also several additional fees associated with FHA loans, including an upfront mortgage insurance premium, as well as an annual mortgage insurance premium, to be paid until you pay off or refinance the loan.
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Loans
    VA loans offer flexible and low-interest loans to retired and active duty military and their families. Generally speaking, VA loans allow borrowers to purchase a home with no down payment, no mortgage insurance requirements, and limits on closing costs. For additional assistance, Baird & Warner offers active duty and retired service members greater flexibility and cost-savings with our exclusive Military on the Move program, which provides a rebate to active and retired veterans who are buying or selling a home.
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Loans
    USDA loans are designed to help home buyers who are looking to purchase homes in rural areas. In order to qualify for this type of loan, your selected property must be in an eligible area, and you must meet certain income requirements. Some USDA loans offer financing with zero down payment, and low interest rates for the life of the loan.

Choosing What Works for You

Keep in mind that the above list is just a sampling of some of the most common types of mortgage loans available to buyers. There are certainly others, including jumbo loans and other types of non-conforming home loans. There are also many state and local programs designed to help first-time and repeat home buyers get down payment and loan assistance. Your dream home might be more attainable than you think.

For the past 30 years, Baird & Warner has been offering residential sales, mortgage, and title services all under one roof —  because we know it gives our clients a better experience.

To understand all of your options and help determine which strategy will be the right fit for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local Key Mortgage loan officer.

“Not only do we offer loans, but we also provide our clients education and guidance,” Esther explains. “We help educate first time homebuyers on which types of loans are available, and which will be the best choice for them. Many home buyers have many different options available.”

Your personal Key Mortgage loan officer and their team will guide you through the loan process at every step of the way, from your initial application all the way through to your closing. Along the way, they will help you make the decisions that are right for you and yours, answering any questions you may have and making the entire mortgage process easier.

Looking for a second opinion on your current home buying plan? Key Mortgage can help there, as well, thanks to the Second Look program. With Second Look, a Key Mortgage officer will give you a no obligation, cost-free examination of your loan structure, mortgage details, and interest rate. Having this second opinion could mean thousands of dollars in savings over the life of your loan.

It’s mortgage made easier. Want to keep the conversation going? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local Key Mortgage representative today.

The post Common Types of Mortgages That Home Buyers Should Know appeared first on Baird & Warner.

New Lincoln Square Episode of the Sun-Times’ The Grid is Live

The Grid Lincoln Square

Photos courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times.  

We’re excited to be part of a video series that takes an intimate look at 52 Chicagoland communities like never before, with Baird & Warner agents and other people who live and work in the community talking about what makes their neighborhood one and only.

The latest 2-part episode of “The Grid” features Lincoln Square and its many local gems. Follow host Ji Suk Yi as she meets up with agent Donald Tomaska of the North Center office to talk about what makes Lincoln Square such a great place to live. Make sure to catch both videos to see Ji learn about the history, people, and businesses that make up Lincoln Square.

Watch the episode to experience Lincoln Square like a local, then catch all upcoming episodes, every Wednesday at SunTimes.com/the-grid.

The post New Lincoln Square Episode of the Sun-Times’ The Grid is Live appeared first on Baird & Warner.

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The Hilda Jones Team

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Serving Northern Fox Valley Residents for 40+ years!

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