Benefits of Mortgage Pre-Approval

When you’re shopping for a new home, it’s important to leave as little to chance as possible. Mortgage loan pre-approval allows you to act quickly when you find the right property, and the seller will take your offer more seriously.

When you’re pre-approved, you can:

•    Make an offer with confidence, knowing the lender is already on your side.
•    Save time by looking at homes you can afford.
•    Negotiate a better price for the home you want to buy.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time researching finance options; that’s my job! I’d love to help you find the loan that’s best for you and complete the pre-approval process, so you’re one step closer to home ownership.

Make House-Hunting Easier

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Knowing how much house you can afford is just a starting point in your search for a new home. By answering the following questions, you can narrow down what features are most important to you:

•    How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
•    Do you want a new home or would you prefer an older one?
•    Are there special features you must have?
•    Is the school district a factor for you?
•    Do you want to be close to a shopping center?
•    Is commuting to work an issue? If so, how far are you willing to drive?
•    Will you accept any style of home? What about colors?
•    Do you want a fireplace, pool and/or air conditioning?

Searching for a new home can be overwhelming.
Here are a few tips to make it a bit easier!


•    Take a notepad and map with you. Save each home’s fact sheet.
•    Limit the homes you look at in one session to three, so you can focus on the details.
•    Take a picture of the homes that appeal to you, so you can remember their features.
•    Make sketches of floor plans to help you compare the homes you like.
•    Ask questions about any problems in the home before you make an offer.


I hope these tips help you find the home of your dreams!

When to Refinance

Refinancing can be a great strategy to save money or reach other financial goals. It is equally important to make sure your home provides a “safe haven” for you and your family for many years to come.

With that in mind, here are some useful tips on fire prevention.

•    Install smoke detectors on every level, especially outside bedrooms. Test them regularly and change the batteries at least once a year.

•    Have an escape plan. Everyone should be aware of two ways to exit each room to avoid walking through smoke. If that’s your only option, crawl close to the floor, where the air is cooler and cleaner.

•    Establish an outside meeting place where everyone will go if evacuation is necessary.

•    Make sure your home address is clearly visible from the street, so emergency vehicles can locate you quickly.

•    Create a 30-foot safety zone around your house that’s free of flammable vegetation.

•    Keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen and garage, and be sure everyone knows how to use them.

•    Clear the roof and gutters of leaves, needles and dried twigs.

•    Store firewood away from the house.

I hope you find these tips useful and pass them along to your friends and family. And, if you know anyone in need of a mortgage advisor, feel free to relay my contact information. I’m here to help!

How to Improve Your Credit Scores

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On a scale of 300-850, people with top tier credit scores (760 to 850) have a footprint of financial responsibility, and lenders have a tendency to reward this elite group with lower interest rates.

If you’re not in this category, then take a look at your current scores and see what you can do to kick it up a notch. Set your personal goal and stick to it!

Pay Your Bills on Time

Paying your bills on time is a good habit to have, when it comes to improving your credit scores! If you need help in this area, set up a spreadsheet or even a handwritten monthly checklist, so you can see all your current bills and their due dates.

You can also set reminders in your calendar or cell phone, or make arrangements for automatic payments, to stay on top of it. Do whatever it takes to program yourself into a regular pattern of paying bills on time.

Your credit card payments are generally due on the same day each month. So, if your current due date puts you in a money crunch, call your credit card company and ask them to change your due date, so it doesn’t coincide with other large payments you have to make (such as your rent or car payment). That way, you can regulate your cash flow and avoid relying on credit cards for random spending in between paychecks!

Pay More Than the Minimum Payment

If you only pay the minimum payment on your credit cards, then you’re paying just a little more than the monthly interest fees. Set a realistic goal for yourself. If you can pay double or triple the monthly payment for the next six months, then you’re starting to chip away at that larger balance. But, at the same time, don’t revert back to using the credit cards again to make it through your monthly living expenses.

Here’s a quick guideline to follow:

•    Make sure your balance is below 50% of the spending limit to maintain your current credit scores.
•    Reduce your utilization down to 30% of the total credit line to improve your credit scores.
•    To get in the “800 Club”, use no more than 10% of the allowed spending limit.

When an emergency pops up that absolutely requires you to use a credit card, make an educated decision as to which credit card you should use. Pick the one that won’t vault you over that 50% utilization mark.
Having credit cards helps you establish credit scores. But, using them responsibly helps you attain great credit scores.

Make Regular Payments on Installment Debt

If you’re making payments on a student loan or a car payment, make your regular payments on time.

Do not try to pay it off early! That won’t increase your credit scores. However, if you make the regular payments on time, then you’re proving that you have the ability to fulfill a financial commitment.

Don’t Cut Up Old Credit Cards

If you have a stagnant credit card with a zero balance, make a small purchase and pay it off quickly. Or, use the old card to make automatic payments on a regular monthly expense, such as a utility bill. This doesn’t change your monthly budget, it only changes who you’re paying the money to. This can raise the Credit History portion of your scores, based on how long you’ve had the credit card!

Make Sure Your Credit Reports are Accurate

Last, but definitely not least, go through your credit reports carefully (you should have one each from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and look for errors.

•    Make sure the items listed on your card are yours. If you find charges you didn’t make, you may be a victim of identity theft, or someone else’s data is being reported to the wrong file.
•    Make sure “on time” payments are not listed as “late”.
•    Make sure any collections that you’ve paid off have been removed.
•    Make sure all creditors you are faithfully making payments to are being recorded.
•    Look for negative comments that are older than seven years. You can ask to have these removed.
•    Look for bankruptcies older than 10 years, or accounts associated with the bankruptcy that are still showing up. You can ask to have these removed.

If there are errors on your reports, start taking action to remove those errors. We’ll talk more about that in my next credit score tip!

What NOT To Do

 

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As your trusted mortgage advisor, my team and I provide you with more than just a loan. It’s part of our continuing service to offer the following tips that may be of help when you’re looking to purchase a new house or refinance your home loan.

What NOT To Do

As you choose the path that leads to the home of your dreams, you can take either a pleasant Sunday stroll in the park or a gut-wrenching tiptoe through a minefield. Here are the six most-important “don’ts” when you’re considering buying a new house.

Six Dont’s

1. Don’t go on a spending spree! Draining your savings or running up credit card debt to buy a new living room set, a big-screen TV, or a new car could make a difference in your interest rate and whether you even qualify for a mortgage. Avoid spending money until after the closing is completed, whether by credit or cash. Keep your debt down and as much money in your bank account as possible. Your lender will check bank and credit card account history.

2. Don’t change jobs. Unless it can’t be avoided through such things as drastic location changes, experts say it’s best not to change your employment picture until after closing. A worse move is to change from a salaried position to self-employment. Lending institutions like to see steady employment and generally insist that self-employers show a minimum of two years of successful income.

3. Don’t mess up your credit. Don’t try to improve your credit score without talking to a professional. For example, you may think you’re going to bump your score up a few notches by canceling credit cards. But, canceling the wrong ones for the wrong reasons can seriously damage your credit score. Credit experts say it’s important not to have too few or too many open credit accounts, and the best credit is old credit. Another possible pitfall is to transfer all your credit card balances to one card to get zero balances on the others.

4. Don’t pay off all your bills. Paying credit cards down to below 50 percent of the your credit limit is generally helpful to boosting your score. But, paying off all your debts is only wise if you still have enough cash remaining to make your down payment, closing costs and prepays. In other words, don’t deplete your savings to pay off your credit cards.

5. Don’t think about lying. Lenders want to know how much cash you have to put into the house — truthfully. If you’re borrowing the money for a down payment and have to pay it back, it will have an effect on your ability to meet all your obligations. If it’s a gift and doesn’t have to be paid back, that’s fine. Whatever you do, don’t borrow it from your uncle and tell the mortgage banker it’s yours! The bank may ask you to document how long you’ve had the money or where you got it from. A lie could backfire and ruin the whole deal.

6. Don’t do any spring-cleaning. Don’t throw out bills, bank statements or tax returns. However, it’s a great idea to organize all the important papers that may be requested by a lender. Such documents may include W-2s, 1099 income statements, recent pay stubs and tax returns for the past couple years if you’re self-employed. While you’re at it, round up your prior title insurance policy, any canceled checks, settlement statements, or other forms of proof that you paid collections or disputed accounts.

Do These 20 Things Before Applying for a Mortgage

You’ve got the itch to buy a home. Maybe it will be your first. Maybe it’s one you saw a “for sale” sign in front of and instantly fell in love with. Maybe you’ve been saving for this big purchase for many years. No matter the circumstance, it’s a big deal — because the homes we buy are typically the biggest purchases we’ll ever make.

Here are 20 things to know about and ways to prepare before applying for a mortgage.

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15 popular college towns where it’s cheaper to buy a house than live in a dorm

Although sharing a tiny dorm room is a rite of passage for many undergraduate students, it’s not always the most fun experience.

And, at some schools, it’s also not the most economical choice. For students looking to begin investing in real estate early, or just to save a buck, finding a place off-campus might be a smart starting point.

Residential real estate company Redfin compared the monthly cost of living in a dorm at 195 public colleges across the U.S. to the median monthly mortgage for a condo in the same cities to determine where it’s actually cheaper to buy. Read more.

 

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Going Green At Home

Keeping the environment clean is more than just a fad, it is something everyone should be practicing in order to keep our planet healthy and safe, for ourselves and future generations. There are minor changes you can incorporate at home that will help maintain a healthier planet. Some ways homeowners can go green at home are: Monitor your home’s temperature, the less energy you use, the better. Heating and cooling a house takes up about 50% of your energy consumption, and regulating usage could save money. Use cleansers that are free from toxins and thus, safer for the environment. Install energy-efficient light bulbs. Choose bamboo flooring instead of hardwood floors. And finally, use low VOC paint when painting in the home to decrease air pollution inside and outside. More here