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Buying your first homeYears before I ever dreamed of homeownership for myself, I was an HGTV connoisseur. In college, I double majored in “Property Virgins” and “House Hunters” and spent hours glued to the TV with my roommate, ogling other people’s granite countertops. Fast forward nearly a decade, and the time had arrived for me to purchase my own home. (No granite countertops here—my house was more like the “before” scene in an episode of “Fixer Upper”).

Not surprisingly, TV homeownership didn’t prepare me for the real thing. There are lots of lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way. If you’re gearing up for your own journey into homeownership, turn off the TV and gather 'round. I’ll fill you in on a few things I wish I had known beforehand, and a few surprises (some happy, some frustrating) that I encountered along the way.

Read more: Things To Know About Owning Your First Home

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San Diego Jazz Fest and Swing Extravaganza   Nov. 27-Dec. 1
Jazz bands and musicians from across the U.S. will perform. Festival presentations include great variety: trad, swing, boogie-woogie, ragtime, dixieland, gospel, rockabilly.
Town and Country Resort & Convention Center    619-297-5277 / www.sdjazzfest.org

SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off   Dec. 1
SoNo Fest is an all volunteer run, locally-focused street festival featuring a 40-restaurant chili cook-off; 24 craft beer, wine and spirits makers in a huge beer garden; 30 local handmade vendors, a food truck court, live music on three stages and a kid’s fest! All proceeds from this event, in its 10th year, benefit McKinley Elementary.
11am-5pm / 32nd and Thorn, North Park    www.sonofestchilicookoff.com

La Valencia Hotel Tree Lighting   Dec. 5
5:30-8pm / 1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla    855-476-6870 / www.lavalencia.com

Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House   Dec. 6
Festivities kick off with Santa Claus’ arrival by ferryboat at 3:20pm, followed by frosty fun on Snow Mountain until 7pm and carolers at the Coronado Ferry Landing. Other highlights include a popular Holiday Parade at 6pm and Merchants Open House 5-9pm down Orange Ave., a traditional Christmas tree lighting at 7pm and community band concert in Rotary Park.    619-435-9260 / www.coronadochamber.com

Read more: December Calendar Of Events

home headerHow long does it take to improve your credit score? Having good credit helps you prove your creditworthiness to potential lenders. If you're hoping to buy a home, having a good credit score is key, since it helps you qualify for a mortgage. So if your credit score is low, indicating bad credit, knowing how long it takes to raise it to the home-buying range can help you plan.

Credit repair companies sometimes promise almost instant results, saying that they will do the hard work. However, there's no secret to raising your score, and it can't happen overnight. It is possible to raise your credit score within one to two months. It may take even longer, depending on what's dragging down your score and how you handle it. Here's step-by-step advice for do-it-yourself credit repair that works.

Read more: How Long Does It Take to Improve Your Credit Score?

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Old Town Dia de los Muertos   Nov. 1-3
This free event will include the traditional candlelight procession on November 2nd. The celebration will continue throughout the weekend with street food, vendors and activities on San Diego Avenue. Many Old Town restaurants will be providing special menus and live music, along with activities for the entire family.
619-291-4903 / www.oldtownsandiego.org

SD Zoo Safari Park Día de los Muertos   Nov. 1-3
A happy celebration full of mariachi music, dancing, and festive entertainment. Shopping, face painting, and, of course, plenty of amazing animals add to this family fun-filled event.
619-231-1515 / www.sdzsafaripark.org

Escondido Día de los Muertos Festival   Nov. 1-4
Guests are invited to create altars to remember and honor their loved ones in a special area outside of the Center’s museum; the event also features live music, traditional Mexican fare, sugar skull decorating, and more.
5-9pm / California Center for the Arts   www.artcenter.org

San Diego Beer Week   Nov. 1-10
A 10-day celebration, promoting more than 130 independent craft breweries in San Diego County. Events are held throughout SD County at participating breweries, bars, and restaurants.
858-581-7368 / www.sdbeer.com/sdbw

Read more: November Calendar Of Events

home gallery04aIf you want to sell a house quickly and for the best price, make sure your prospective buyers never stare at empty rooms and bare walls. The deserted warehouse look is definitely out! Enter home staging—the practice of using furniture and home accessories to create vignettes that will help home buyers imagine what life would be like in that house. If the real estate you’re selling isn't staged attractively, you're losing out, since plenty of other houses on the market will be.

Yet as important as home staging is, there’s no need to break the bank buying expensive items to make a house look great. In fact, you shouldn’t put pricey items in a staged house, where they can get damaged from being moved around or could even disappear. Buy things that look good, but that you can get for cheap. Granted, some of these items might not feel as luxe as the fabric at a high-end department store, but who cares? Buyers shouldn’t be touching them, anyway. You’re looking for new and crisp and inviting—not irreplaceable treasures. One unexpected place to look for staging props: Walmart. A few dollars can go a long way here! Check out these bargains that home stagers and real estate agents often buy to kick up your home staging without shedding too much money in the process.

Read more: Home Staging Essentials Every Seller Should Buy at Walmart

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