Listing your home this spring? Read this first

Spring is slowly springing here in my small corner in Alabama and as we enter this season I thought I’d share a couple helpful tips for people who are getting ready to make a move.

Real estate agents are a very valuable tool when it comes to selling a home. Not only do they know the market but they also know fine details about what could make your home more appealing to sell faster. Always consult with an agent whom you can trust  and feel like you can build a relationship with. It’s much harder to work with someone who you yourself is not comfortable with. 

Let’s start on the outside and work our way in:

  1. Yard/Gardening – A freshly cut lawn and fresh landscaping goes a long way in the eyes of potential buyers. The outside of your home is the first thing buyers see when they pull up to your house for a showing. Proper landscaping and yard maintenance shows a buyer that “this house has been taken care of “. I know personally when I look at a home it always gives me a sense of comfort to see that the previous owner has taken the time to make sure their yard was clean.
  2. Exterior of home – Along the same lines as the yard, making sure the outside of your home is clean is very important. Removing cobwebs and pressure washing areas that have “greened” over the winner goes a long way. ****LENDER NOTE**** If your home has wooden windows, make sure any chipped paint has been properly scraped and repainted. This is a big one, it may not sound like a big deal but this is often flagged as a lender required repair on appraisal reports. Also, monitor for any cracked glass, even if you have double pane windows, my recommendation would be to go ahead and replace affected areas.
  3. Interior– This is going to step on toes but it’s the honest truth…Make sure your house is CLEAN. Not “our best friends are coming over” clean. I mean, “Jesus is coming back” clean. As cute as your dogs are, potential buyers don’t want to see their messes or their cute little balls of hair wadded up in a corner. And I know, your children have some really awesome toys, and lots of them….but they don’t want to see that either. They’re coming into your home to see the house. They will have to make it their “home” on their own. Also, make sure all your light bulbs are working. Nothing strikes fear in a potential buyer like things that don’t work. It may just be a $1 light bulb to you but to them it’s “does this house have a wiring issue?”. 
  4. Smells – Every house that’s lived in has its own smell. I’ll just leave it at that….When prepping your home for market this spring, let it air out a little. We’ve been closed up all winter long trying to stay warm, it’ll be nice to let some fresh air flow through the home. If you like diffusing essential oils or burning candles I’d recommend light, fresh, clean scents. Nothing overwhelming, just a subtle hint of freshness.

You’ve done all this…now what? Call your agent, ask their input on any further recommendations and book that listing appointment. Also, be sure to ask your agent their thoughts on having professional photos done for the listing. I personally think it’s a great tool for marketing your home. Does it cost money? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. If you want to put your home in the best position to sell, I think utilizing all cost-effective tools is a must. I am not a real estate agent myself but what I’ve learned from my wife and other agents I’ve worked alongside, these are all ways to help improve the likelihood of selling your home.

Happy Listing, Happy Selling!


Working with spouse, a progress report

A few short months ago Chelsea and I started letting people know that she would be coming to work for me and going inactive as a Real Estate agent. Immediately we were bludgeoned by questions such as “are you sure about that?”, “is that a good idea?”, “do you think you’ll be able to work without killing each other?” We didn’t really have an answer so we just kind of shrugged it all off and said “we’ll see”. We’re approaching the 2 month mark and so far we’re both still alive and neither of us have hired an attorney (that I know of….). In all seriousness though, everything is great.

Neither of us had any concerns about being with each other 24/7 because quite frankly, we love being together….which is why we got married. I’ve always felt bad for married couples who can only tolerate each other in small doses…what was the point of marrying each other? Anyways, our concerns were more along the lines of figuring what works best for us in terms of who handles what tasks,  how to manage the household with both of us working outside of the house 5 days a week, etc. There has been some adjustments for both of us as I like things in the office done particular ways, just as she has a particular way of doing things at home. I’m not the best teacher in the world so learning how to delegate tasks and walk someone through the loan process has come with some….let’s call them, “informative discussions”.

I’ve always felt like Chelsea and I have done a good job of communicating with each other prior to working together. Now that we are working together I am learning even more about her and how to communicate with each other. Specifically, I’ve learned not to say things like “you just need to let me worry about the customer” in a condescending tone…or “hey, we need to go it’s 7:53 am“. Also, and this is just us talking here……don’t ask her if she’s just my “Personal Assistant”, you will quickly learn she is not….despite my every effort to make that her job title and inflate my ego ( LOL).

All in all we really do love all the time we are getting to spend together. It is truly enriching our marriage, even with the unexpected learning experiences and “informative discussions” along the way. She jokes a lot saying “you’re lucky you have me because no other employee would but up with you” and to be quite honest….she’s probably right. So yeah, I am lucky to have her.

Everyone have a great weekend

The Dorroh’s Disney Adventure


Hey guys, Mrs. *Not* Bearded Broker here taking over the blog today to tell you about our most recent Disney trip. I know you guys are probably sick of hearing Mr. Bearded Broker ramble on about mortgages and finances, blah, blah, blah. Today’s post is all about having fun!
Justin and I both visited Disney World as kids, but we both wanted to experience it as adults before having kids of our own. (No that doesn’t mean a baby is coming anytime soon). We’re also huge Harry Potter fans and wanted to visit Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. My mom planned the whole trip along with a travel agent, which I highly recommend using for Disney. There are SO MANY details and tips that it can be very overwhelming.
Our very first day in Orlando, we went to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and had dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe. They brought out huge portions of smoked meats and sides and put on quite the show.Wilderness.jpg
On day one in the parks, we visited Disney’s Epcot and toured each of the countries. We ate lunch at the Pattisserie in France, which consisted of Jambon-Buerre (ham and cheese croissant), pumpkin soup, and a raspberry lemon macaron. We met Princess Jasmine in Morocco and witnessed a pearl harvesting in Japan. The ride Frozen Ever After, located in Norway, which was the longest wait of the day, but the new life-like technology Disney uses is pretty amazing. We ended the day with the best meal of the entire week at Le Cellier in Canada. We both had filet mignon with mushroom risotto and maple creme brulee. It was the best steak I have ever had. They even brought me gluten-free rolls with butter to enjoy before my meal. One thing Disney is very good at is catering to food allergies. The service is top-notch and they go above and beyond to make sure you are satisfied.


Day two, we ventured on to Universal’s Islands of Adventure where the Incredible Hulk and Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade are found. The very first ride of the day was the Incredible Hulk roller coaster. I am not a big fan of roller coasters and this one is a monster of a ride. Inside the ride waiting area, you go through a second security screening to make sure you have ZERO loose objects. No phones, sunglasses, wallets, chapsticks, NOTHING is allowed because of the dangers of flying objects. The line leads up several ramps and stairs and they really try to make you feel as if you were in Hulk’s laboratory. Of course at this point I wanted to puke or pass out from being nervous. Once you get on the coaster and you’re properly strapped in, they launch you at a top speed of 67 mph through thick fog and you immediately drop and then go upside down on a loop. It literally goes 0-40 in two seconds. Of course, once it was over I realized it was a fun ride, but it is definitely intimidating. After the Hulk, we rode The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man, Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, and Jurassic Park River Aventure. I do recommend taking cheap flip-flops to wear on the water rides because you WILL get wet. They have “People Dryers” outside each water ride, but they do not dry your shoes. We then visited Hodsmeade and rode Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey. Walking to this ride gives you a tour of Hogwarts. If you are prone to motion sickness, I do not recommend this ride. The ride itself is awesome, but it’s essentially a roller coaster/virtual simulator and it’s like you’re riding on a broomstick during a quidditch match. Again, awesome, but take motion sickness medicine before-hand. We had lunch at the Three Broomticks and tried the delicious frozen butterbeer. I had rotissere chicken, roasted potatoes, and a huge corn on the cob. Justin had fish and chips. We then sat through a wand demonstration at Olivander’s Wand Shop and purchased our own “Elder Wand” which belonged to Professor Dumbledore in the books/movies. *nerd alert* There are several places throughout Hodsmeade and Diagon Alley to perform “spells” and its pretty magical (pun intended). We finished the day riding the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster, which is a small very tame coaster.

Day three, we visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This was probably our favorite being the animal lovers we are. Pandora-The World of Avatar at AK runs a tight race with Harry Potter at Universal. If you’re an Avatar fan then Pandora will blow your mind with how realistic everything appears. We got in right at rope drop and went straight to the Na’vi River Journey. The animatronics for this ride were insane. The Avatars throughout the ride make you question whether they’re actually fake or not. Thankfully, we had fast passes for Flight of Passage because the wait was 180 minutes. Once inside, they “scan” your DNA and match you up with an Avatar. Once you are strapped in on your mountain banshee they take you on a journey through Pandora. The special effects were stellar and included water and air to make you think you were really flying through the air in a far away world. Warning: this ride also causes intense motion sickness due to the motion and virtual simulation, but it is worth it! Best ride in Disney World hands down. For lunch we went to Satu’li Canteen in Pandora. I had chicken over a bed of red and sweet potatoes with a chimichurri sauce. Justin had sliced beef over rice with the same sauce. For dinner we didn’t have a reservation, but we lucked up and got a table at Yak and Yeti. I had gluten-free sweet and sour chicken with rice and a super yummy strawberry cake for dessert. Justin had regular sweet and sour chicken with rice and had chocolate cake for dessert.

Day four, we went to Universal Studios Orlando. This time we went straight to Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and rode the Escape from Gringott’s ride. In my opinion, this ride is better than Forbidden Journey for the sheer fact that it doesn’t turn you upside down, which means it doesn’t cause as much motion sickness. This ride allows you to tour Gringott’s Bank and takes you on a thrilling ride trying to escape the wrath of Voldemort and his Deatheaters. We ate lunch at the Leaky Cauldron where we had frozen butterbeer again (because it’s just that good). I had a gluten-free chicken sandwich and Justin had fish and chips. We also toured Diagon Alley for quite a while casting spells and touring all the shops. There’s even a dragon on top of Gringott’s that breathes real fire every so often. We took the Hogwart’s Express to Hogsmeade and back as well. After adventuring with Harry Potter and the gang, Justin rode Rip Ride Rockit. This was one ride I said absolutely no to. It starts you off climbing a 167 feet and then drops you straight down. After the drop its a pretty normal coaster, but the height was enough for me. We continued our day with Revenge of the Mummy (a pretty awesome roller coaster), Shrek 3-D, and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.



Day five, we explored Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We had fast passes for Big Thunder Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Space Mountain. We also rode the Haunted Mansion and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. For dinner, we joined the Beast in his castle at Be Our Guest. We both had steak with potatoes and veggies. I had a gluten-free lemon cream puff for dessert and Justin had “The Gray Stuff”. We ended the night with the Once Upon a Time Castle Projection Show complete with fireworks- it was pure magic.

Cinderellas Castle
On our last day in the parks, we visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We got there early enough to ride Rock’n’Roller Coaster without much of a wait. Justin rode Tower or Terror then we spent the rest of the day enjoying shows and smaller rides. We ate lunch at Mama Melrose and I had gluten-free pasta and vanilla gelato. Justin had chicken parmesan and a chocolate dessert. Overall the food was mediocre here and not somewhere I’d want to go again. The best part of the day was watching the Fantasmic Show and Fireworks. It’s an incredible animated show projected on water where many of the characters can be seen along with fireworks and pyrotechnics.

Our very last day in Orlando, we visited Port Orleans Riverside Resort so I could get gluten-free beignets and then took a boat ride to Disney Spring’s. We had lunch at D-Luxe Burger which included a gluten free Diablo burger with fries and a regular Diablo burger for Justin.
Overall, we had a blast despite being exhausted from walking over 60 miles in a week. I could write pages and pages about our experience, but I’ll stop here. I understand the Disney obsession now and can’t wait to go back!

Don’t Keep Score

Let me preface this post by reiterating the fact that I HATE losing. I also cringe at the thought of youth sports not keeping score and providing participation trophies. You want a trophy? Earn it. You want a championship? Win it. Life’s not fair and not everyone wins. The “everybody wins” mentality cheapens the hard work and effort of those who do their best to excel in competition while at the same time encouraging the laziness and entitlement of those who choose to just show up.

Deep breaths, Justin…..Deep breaths…

Ok, almost lost it there for a second but I’m back. What kind of game or contest are we talking about not keeping score in? We’re not. We’re talking about marriage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard phrases like “marriage is a two-way street” or “marriage is all about give and take” and “marriage has to be 50/50 or 100/100”. I disagree. Sayyyy whatttttt?????

I don’t think marriage is any of those things. I think marriage is loving your wife, or loving your husband with ZERO expectations. Loving them unconditionally. I think marriage is blindly trusting your spouse to the point that if they told you they saw Sasquatch you’d go to the woods make some calls and knock on a few trees. Maybe I’m crazy, but too often I hear people talking about their marriage and the conversation is “well I did all the laundry, so you need to take out the garbage” or “I pay all the bills so you need to cut the grass”. We’ve all heard it or something similar…and if we’re being honest, we’ve all said it.

Well guess what? Many of marriages have been spoiled by keeping score on who has more responsibilities. It’s not a competition. If you wholeheartedly love your spouse you WANT to help, you WANT to wake up on a Saturday at 5:00 a.m. so strangers can come look through all the junk in your garage. You just want to be with them, even if its doing something that neither of you want to do….at least you’re together. When you quit keeping score….It totally removes your expectations for them because you start to live in the love you have for each other, then your marriage becomes totally selfless. I’m as guilty as any when it comes to being selfish. I love to golf, watch football, and hang out with my friends. I have to remind myself that those things aren’t my priorities and sometimes it’s hard to find balance. (Especially when the Tide’s rollin’) But, when I sit back and really think about it….I move myself out of the picture and think about her, it’s no brainer. I pick her 100 times out of 100 and the fact that she does the same for me blows my mind.

Moral of the blog for today: When it comes to your marriage…. don’t keep score. You’ll lose every time.

Why Men get it Wrong…

As husbands, we don’t always get it right. Why? We’re men. Is that an excuse? No. Fact of the matter is men are wired differently than women. It’s not a bad thing, it’s how we were created. Now, the ways that we have been shaped, molded, and changed over time are a result of how we were raised, the environments we put ourselves in, and the choices we’ve made along the way. But, like anything that can be wired, built, shaped, and molded one way…we can change for better or for worse. Where’s all this coming from?

Before marriage, before dating, before girls….we were little boys, wild and free. We played ball, we went outside, we hung out with our dads, and girls were NOT cool. We were taught to be tough, that losing sucks, and that men are to be leaders. Is any of that wrong? No. But as we grow older, start to make our own decisions, harvest our own opinions, and we start to come up with an idea of the type man we want to be. And that’s where we went wrong….

We’re imperfect people, we’re flawed, we sin…that’s not just men, that’s all of us. So when WE start to shape these ideas of the type person that WE want to be, we’re destined for imperfection. What are you saying Justin? We’re asking the wrong person what type of man we should be. Am I saying it’s wrong to have aspirations and goals? Absolutely not. I’ve never been one to believe that God micro manages to the point of whether I should work at the gas station or be a doctor.. I’ve always believed that whatever platform you have, or whatever position you’re in, that you should be a light that shines for the kingdom. What I am saying is this, We have to ask God to shape us into the man that he would have us to be, we need His direction in order to become a better man, a better husband. Because when Justin says, “this is what it is to be a man” or “this is what a husband should do”….Justin messes it up, big time…every time. E-V-E-R-Y    T-I-M-E .

I say all that to say this. To our wives, fiances, and girlfriends…. We love you, we truly do but we’re not perfect. We need help. Please understand, it’s ingrained in our being to provide, love, and care for you….but sometimes, a lot of times….we have no idea what we’re doing, and we’re too proud to admit it. So, please be patient, keep loving us and know that we’re trying…but sometimes we’re looking for help in the mirror instead of help from above.

I’d like to end this blog post with reminding everyone, I’m not perfect, I’m not Dr. Phil, I don’t have all the answers and I’m not any better than anyone else. I have my own set of daily struggles just like the next. I’m just speaking on things I’m learning along the way and hope that maybe it helps someone here and there. I genuinely do believe that we all be better men and better husbands, but I don’t think we can do that on our own. However, if we’re looking for the answers in the right places, we will grow. And hopefully, our wives don’t kill us in the meantime.


Justin Dorroh

A little about me

Well, first off…who is “me”? I am Justin Dorroh (guy in the Falcons hat). I grew up in Killen, Al just outside of Florence. I attended Brooks High School and the University of North Alabama. In 2012 I graduated UNA with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics.


While I was finishing up my degree and working for Bank Independent part time, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career as a Loan Officer.  I set myself a goal to achieve that position on or before my 25th birthday.  Upon graduating, I received my first full time job in a department called Risk Management. My next position within the bank was to another department called Credit Administration. I spent just over a year in Credit Admin doing financial analysis and I got the call from another local bank to become a loan officer.

The bank that hired me as a lender is Farmers and Merchants Bank. I had met the VP of the bank while in college and when the time was right, things worked out perfectly. During my time at the bank  my wife, Chelsea, began her career as a Real Estate Agent. The office she began her career at rents office space to Shelton Financial Group, Inc.  One day the owner of the company expressed the need for another lender and my sweet loving wife was there to give me a name drop. About 2 months later, on July 1st 2015 I began my career as a Mortgage Loan Originator for Shelton Financial Group, Inc where I worked for 3 years. I am now a Loan Officer for Assurance Financial in Florence, AL.


I mentioned my sweet wife, Chelsea, before but that’s a story for another blog. Her and I have been married since October 6th, 2012. All of our children lack opposable  thumbs, have four legs, and shed like crazy…..(they’re dogs). Their names are Magnum, Jack, Molly, and Abbigail. You will hear more about their antics and adventures in the future. I am what my wife would call a “hobby enthusiast”. I golf, hunt, fish, play music, fantasy football, etc. None of which I am ok with being an amateur. She says I’m “obsessive” that way. My competitive drive is way higher than your average person and losing makes me physically sick. What’s wrong with that?

I have a close network of friends, many of whom I’ve known since we were all in elementary school. That’s a pretty rare thing that I’m very proud of and consider myself lucky to have.

Why the blog?

My preacher Phillip Skipworth and his wife Sonya actually mentioned the idea to Chelsea and I because we have been renovating a house. The next weekend I attended my annual continuing education course for my originators license and another broker mentioned using the platform for his business. The more I thought about it and the more the idea continued to surface, it almost felt like I had to do it!

What can we expect from the blog?

My intentions for this blog is to provide useful information and advice as it pertains to mortgages and money. When I got into banking I told myself “I want to be the person that people call when they need help with their money.” Am I Dave Ramsey or Warren Buffett? Not even close. What I am, is a friend and someone people can trust and know that I really want to see them succeed and achieve their goals. Whether its buying a home, paying off debt, or trying to save up for a rainy day….I want everyone who knows me to know that “I can trust Justin to shoot me straight and give me the best advice he can to help”.

On a personal level, I want to use this platform to share a little bit about our marriage and relationships in general. Why? Because I’m tired of hearing about divorce. I am blessed to be married to Chelsea and we have a wonderful marriage. Not that we don’t hit the occasional speed bump, and Lord knows we’re far from perfect….but when I look at how God has blessed our marriage, it’d be a shame not to share that with others so that people can see that marriage IS a blessing, not a burden. Also, from what I’ve been told…Chelsea and I have some pretty good banter that makes for a decent “LOL”.

All in all, this is a place where I hope that people will find useful information, encouragement, and a little humor here and there. Most importantly I hope that this will help me connect with people on a more personal level.


Justin Dorroh

How do I buy a house?

Believe it or not, this is the most common question I get asked. Unfortunately kids growing up now get taught very little as it pertains to finance. I’ve talked to some who’ve never written a check before! Now, I’m not that old but I do know my way around a checkbook….and Chelsea defffffinately does! (just kidding)

I know a lot of the younger generation would rather “google” the answer to something than ask someone so hopefully this helps. Also, maybe for those of you who’ve had a mortgage but it all seemed like a blur, this should serve as some useful knowledge for the next home you purchase.

So, how do I buy a house? Well, the first step is to seek out a lender to get pre-approved. I happen to be one, just saying… Why is a pre-approval important? Getting pre-approved enables you to have a better understanding of what you can afford. It also lets a seller know that you are a serious buyer and have been doing your homework to get ready for a purchase. A pre-approval typically consists of 1.) Pulling a credit report 2.) Reviewing Income documentation 3.) Establishing a pre-approval amount. You might be thinking, I can do that online, piece of cake. Let me give you a little warning on doing an online pre-approval. The convenience is top notch but, when it grants you an instant pre-approval, chances are they didn’t really review all your information. There could be other contributing factors that could cause you to be ineligible. I’ve seen horror stories of people getting really far along the path to be roadblocked by an issue that could’ve been resolved upfront. It’s important to work with a lender that is going to properly review your file and give you guidance on things that could cause an issue in underwriting. That’s what I do, I hate to see people get surprised after they’ve found the home they want to buy.

I’ve been pre-approved, now what? Start shopping! I would recommend finding a real estate agent that you can trust and feel comfortable asking him/her questions. Once you find the home you want to purchase, your agent will help you write an offer to the sellers. The sellers will either accept, reject, or counter your offer…but hopefully they’ll accept! Once you come to an agreement, you will have a fully executed sales contract. Now it’s time for an application.


As mentioned previously, once you have a contract you’ll contact your loan officer to fill out your full application. Get your pen ready because you will be autographing several documents, disclosures, etc. You will also bring in documents such as tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements to submit with your file. Once your application is finished your lender will lock your rate in and submit the file to underwriting.

Initial Disclosure

Once your file has been submitted the lender will be sending you an initial Loan Estimate. The “LE”, as we call it, will be delivered to you and will show you an estimate of fees that go along with the purchase of your home. This is where you will find the terms of your loan, the closing costs, and how much cash you will be bringing to the closing. These numbers will likely change before your closing date as they are simply an estimate.


Underwriting is the process in which an underwriter reviews all your documents to make sure that everything submitted fits within the loan product you have chosen. They will make sure that tax returns are accurate, income calculations are correct, and check for details that don’t meet the lender’s guidelines. Once the underwriter has reviewed the file they will send the loan officer an “Approval with Conditions”. Which is basically their way of saying “everything looks good, but there’s some missing pieces we need for final approval”.


The conditions will depend on which loan program you choose as they all have their own set of documentation requirements. It could be anything from a missing page in a bank statement to requesting a verification of rent/employment/etc. Your loan officer will be there to help give you guidance on how to get these documents and what exactly the underwriter is needing. Once all the documents have been received the loan officer will upload them for the final review process.

Final Approval 

Assuming all documents are received and all conditions have been satisfied, the underwriter will initial final approval and we’ll all hear those three golden words “CLEAR TO CLOSE”. There are no sweeter words to hear as a loan officer. The lender will issue you what is called a “Preliminary Closing Disclosure” at least three days before closing that will look a lot like the “LE” we talked about earlier. The “Prelim CD” will be a more accurate measure of closing costs and how much money you are bringing to close. There is a chance that some numbers could slightly change before closing. However, you will receive a “Final Closing Disclosure” either the day before or perhaps even the day of closing. This is the last one and will have everything you need to know before you sit down at the closing table.


Closing is the culmination of this whole process. Hopefully the ruead has been smooth and you’re excited to get moved in! This is the time where we all sit down and  “sign our lives away” as the old saying goes. Once all the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted…..


Simple as that. Now, its time to call everyone to help you move….and with that, I’m out.

Honestly, I hope this helps clear up some of the mystery of th home buying process. It doesn’t have to be scary, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Call someone you can trust and know that is going to guide you in the right direction. If you’re reading this, I hope that’ll be me when the time comes.

-Justin Dorroh