Today's Real Estate News

What effects your credit or FICO score. 11/30/14

Like the Great Northwest, good credit isn't just nice to have - - It's essential. Even though local employers like Boeing, Microsoft and have been relatively resistant and responsive to the current economic crisis, having a job isn't the only criteria for qualifying for a new home. Taking care of your credit and knowing where you stand before starting the home buying process is the best way to fix any credit issues you may find.

Below is a "Damage Points" list. This lets you know the most common things that damage your credit rating.


Credit Mistake

Maxed-out Credit Card

30-Day Late Payment

Debt Settlement



If Your FICO Score Is 680

Down 10-30 points

Down 60-80 points

Down 45-65 points

Down 85-105 points

Down 130-150 points

If Your FICO Score Is 780

Down 25-45 points

Down 90-110 points

Down 105-125 points

Down 140-160 points

Down 220-240 points

Keep on top of your credit for mistakes and changes by visiting the only website endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission, the free "Annual Credit Report" at You can ask for a free report once a year from each credit agency so we suggest to pull 1 from each separately and spread them out throughout the year to keep better track of your credit information. Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

You found a home & now it's time to sign your papers. What to expect at Closing. 8/20/14

Well for one, expect to be signing lots of documents. Your Realtor should have procured a complete Closing Packet for you at least one day ahead of time and hopefully a couple of days ahead. As the buyer you will be signing both the real estate paperwork and the new mortgage paperw
ork. The mortgage paperwork is by far the larger amount and gets even bigger if you used something like a fist and second mortgage to finance the buy.

If one of the parties cannot attend the closing there should have been provisions made for a Power of Attorney (POA) for the person who is attending to sign for the missing party. The POA should have been all signed and reviewed by the title companies ahead of time. Don’t spring a POA on the closer at the closing – it probably won’t happen if you do that. You title company should have been able to supply a POA for you to use.

If the seller was involved in a divorce after acquiring the house, it may be necessary to bring an official copy of the divorce decree to the closing. If a death was involved on the seller side, it may be necessary to bring an official copy of the death certificate to the closing. If there are/were any liens against the property that had been recorded (such as balances on sewer or road assessments) it may be necessary to bring Paid receipts or Unconditional Release of Lien documents to closing. If there has been any work done on the property by tradesmen since the signing of the Purchase Agreement, it may be necessary to bring receipts for the work and/or Unconditional Release of Lien documents. The seller’s title company will let the seller know what is required at closing. Hopefully all of those items will have been resolved ahead of time.

At closing, you'll have to have ID with you - a driver's license will do - as well as the certified or cashier’s check for the down payment and any other closing costs that you'll be paying. Do not bring cash to closing. The title companies will not accept cash; nor will they take your personal check. If the money is being wired in from your bank, you won’t need the check. Normally you will also have to pay a prorated portion of the taxes on the house from the date of closing through to the next tax date. You should have your proof of insurance for the homeowner's policy on the house, too. If you’ve provided that to your title company beforehand you may not have to bring it to closing.

All of the costs that you will need to cover should have been provided to you in the Closing Packet or by your mortgage person on your final HUD document. You should look that over and compare it to the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) that you should have received from your lender at the beginning of the mortgage process. The final HUD and the GFE should not be different in the areas of fees and costs. Click here to read a good tutorial on the HUD-1 and GFE.

Depending upon what you negotiated for possession of the house, you may get the keys that day (immediate occupancy), along with garage doors openers and anything else that the seller wished to pass along at that time or the sellers may remain in the house after closing and will give you possession and the keys at a later date. If that is the case, the seller's will now become renters in your house until the date that they turn over possession.

Arrangements for that turn over should be discussed at the closing so both parties understand how that will happen and agree upon when it will happen. The seller should understand where to turn in the keys. If there is a damage deposit involved the sellers and buyers will need to agree upon arrangements for a buyer walkthrough to assess whether there is any damage. Provisions for how to handle damage claims should have been included in the Purchase Agreement documentation.

The closing process usually has a time period after the flurry of document signing is finished and while the closers are making copies for everyone; that time is often used to allow the seller and buyers to discuss the property and allow the seller to answer questions or pass on tips. The buyers and sellers also exchange contact information then, so that the buyers can call the seller later with any questions that they might have. This is when you ask what day the garbage is collected and when the seller tells you about things like having to wiggle the key in the back door lock to get it to work. This is where you learn about “old Joe” the neighbor to the left who has everything you may every need to borrow and is a good guy to boot. Make good use of this time.

Most times when money is wired into the closing there will also be a time gap after the signing; while the signed documents are faxed or emailed to the bank, which then authorizes the wire. It takes time to send the wire and for the wire to clear and you could spend an hour or more just sitting there awaiting word that the wire has cleared into the title company account.

If all goes well, you’ll get the keys and be off to your new home. Congratulations!
Tips To Be Ready For Buying A Home 6-17-14

For the first time in seven years, Black Friday sales fell, according to the National Retail Federation. It seems consumers are watching their spending and making careful adjustments to de-leverage by paying down their mortgages and other debts. reported that "Our findings suggest that the consumer de-leveraging experienced since the financial cris
is will trough in the next year or two, driven by improved mortgage credit availability and better consumer demand," said Paul Miller, a managing director at FBR Capital Markets.

While some experts say this means that consumers will sit on the sidelines for a bit, they point out that the de-leveraging is a good thing which will in the not-too-distant future lead to buyers leveraging and buying homes and other big ticket purchases again in the future as the economy improves.

If you're a buyer who is wanting to make sure you're ready to buy when the time is right for you, here are a few tips to help you pave the way to successful home-buying.

-Tally your debt-to-income ratio:
Know how much you owe and how much of your income is going toward paying your bills. The higher the debt-to-income ratio, the lower the chance of getting a mortgage. Of course other factors such as your credit history and how much money you'll put down matter but if your debt is too high, you won't qualify.

To understand the exact formula used to calculate your debt-to-income ratio and to learn what is acceptable, contact an experienced mortgage professional. Your real estate agent may have a list of professionals for you to contact. They'll also talk to you about reviewing your credit history and getting pre-approved so you know how much home you can afford. It's always best to do this before you go house hunting.

-Keep a budget:
Very often, when the money is rolling in and the economy is good, people neglect to plan ahead. Keeping a budget will allow you to understand where your money is going. Find areas where you see unnecessary spending patterns and work to eliminate or cutback.

If you're renting now, crafting a budget that builds in a small amount each month for household maintenance will greatly help when you own your home. Inevitably, repairs pop up at the most inappropriate times such as the holidays and end of the year when you're spending more money on gifts for loved ones. Having that money set aside will come in handy.

-Consider downsizing:
Saving for a downpayment is very critical these days. It's not easy to save the funds if you're spending to the maximum. If you're renting a place currently, perhaps you can downsize to a smaller less expensive apartment for your next lease term to save some extra cash each month. You'll be glad when you have the extra money to put toward your new home.

-Another way to cutback is to cut your cable cost:
TV viewership is down and more people are using their mobile phones and tablets to access the Web and watch movies/TV shows. You could save quite a bit over the course of year, by cutting out extras that you can live without.

-Build your education:
Buying a home has many movable parts to the process. Start meeting with experts in the industry and asking questions. Read as much as possible about real estate. Use free online apps to help you save articles, videos, and photos of homes you like. The more you research and prepare yourself, the smoother the process will be for you.

Need some help? Work with a free licensed Buyers Agent in your state.
Buying A New Home? Experts Say An Experienced Real Estate Agent Is Essential! 3-2-14

When you buy an existing house, what you see is what you get for the asking price. When you buy an as-yet-unbuilt house, what you see in the builder’s furnished model is not
what you get for the advertised base price.

That’s because a furnished model is filled with beguiling features that enhance the basic house. The to-die-for kitchen, the four-foot extension that makes the family room feel so spacious, the classy Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, and the bay windows that give character to the front rooms and look swell from the street are all optional upgrades. When their cost is added in, the seemingly affordable $400,000 advertised base price quickly balloons out to $500,000, far more than you can afford.

When you check out a more affordable version of the model — a nearly completed house down the street that has only $30,000 worth of upgrades — it’s not the same house that has become the stuff of your dreams.

Had you been working with an experienced real estate agent, you would have avoided such a disheartening experience, because the agent would have directed you to new construction that fit your budget in the area where you want to live. As you toured models together, the agent would have helped you distinguish the upgrades from the basic house and pointed out the options that are prudent choices, said David Zadareky, the broker/owner of Re/Max Evolution in Alexandria.

Though option choices never come up in a resale transaction, they are central in a new-home purchase because the basic house is almost always very spare, Zadareky said. The challenge is to keep option choices to an affordable limit, which he caps at 15 to 20 percent of the base price. If your total budget is $400,000, as in the example above, you should be looking at houses that are base-priced about 15 to 20 percent lower, or about $320,000. That would give you $80,000 for options, an amount that would seem to cover everything you might want, but, in fact, will not go very far. “If you’re not careful, the final sticker price that you are trying to keep at $400,000 will quickly balloon up to $440,000 or even $480,000,” he said.

When choosing specific options, Zadareky advises his buyers to get features that will be difficult or costly to add later; in our earlier example, this would be the four-foot family room extension and the bay windows on the front. The to-die-for kitchen and the hardwood flooring can be future remodeling projects, and some options should be nixed outright because they will not translate into a better resale price. “No one will pay extra for a fireplace in the master bedroom,” he said.

In addition to helping buyers negotiate the purchase, Zadareky said he nudges them to budget for the cost of new-home ownership — a concern a builder’s agent is unlikely to mention. For example, once you move in, you’ll realize that you’ll have to purchase window treatments because the neighbors will be closer than you realized.

And he raises critical issues that do not occur to most buyers, such as finding out what is planned for the acreage adjacent to the community where they want to buy.

Why don’t most new-home buyers use real estate agents to help them navigate a brand-new house purchase?

It requires planning ahead, and most new-home purchases begin spontaneously when the buyers chance upon a “Grand Opening” for a new-home development and stop to take a look. When asked to “register” by the model sales agent, they fill out a card with their name and contact information. Should the buyers then decide to bring an agent on board, the builder will demand that the buyer pay the agent’s fee, usually 2 to 3 percent of the base price. (For the $320,000 house noted above, the fee would be $6,400 to $9,600.)

To get the real estate agent’s help and have the builder pay the agent’s fee, the agent must register the buyers on their initial visit. But if you visit the model and decline to register, you should be able to return later with an agent in tow, Zadareky said.
Things Not To Do Before Purchasing A Home: 1-18-14
Here are a few tips to keep in mind of what not to do prior to buying a home.
No major purchase of any kind this includes furniture, appliances, electronic equipment, jewelry, vacations, expensive weddings……and automobiles, of course.
Don’t move money around when a lender reviews your loan package for approval, one of the things they are concerned about is the source of funds for your down payment and closing costs. Most likely, you will be asked to provide statements for the last two or three months on any of your liquid assets. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, money market funds, certificates of deposit, stock statements, mutual funds, and even your company 401K and retirement accounts.
If you have been moving money between accounts during that time, there may be large deposits and withdrawals in some of them.
The mortgage underwriter (the person who actually approves your loan) will probably require a complete paper trail of all the withdrawals and deposits. You may be required to produce cancelled checks, deposit receipts, and other seemingly inconsequential data, which could get quite tedious.
Perhaps you become exasperated at your lender, but they are only doing their job correctly. To ensure quality control and eliminate potential fraud, it is a requirement on most loans to completely document the source of all funds. Moving your money around, even if you are consolidating your funds to make it "easier," could make it more difficult for the lender to properly document.
So leave your money where it is until you talk to a loan officer.
Oh…don’t change banks, either.

3 Things To Know Before Buying A Foreclosure: 12-4-13

Your buyers may be drawn to distressed properties. After all, the No. 1 reason to buy a foreclosure is the potential for a good bargain.

Indeed, discounts often can range from to 20 or 40 percent off on a short sale or foreclosure compared to a sales price of a nondistressed home. But despite the big bargains, buyers need to tread carefully before jumping in. Here are some of the following tips in buying a foreclosure in a recent article at Business Insider.

--Beginners may want to focus on REOs. New buyers may want to avoid short sales, which often come with lengthy negotiations, or foreclosure auctions that often require all-cash payments. On the other hand, REOs can be similar to a traditional home sale in some ways and can offer some of the biggest bargains. A bank isn't emotionally attached to a REO; it's just looking to recoup as much of its losses as possible. So the lender is often more willing to capitulate on price.

--Don’t forget the inspection. Many distressed properties are sold “as is” and can come with a host of problems if buyers aren’t careful. Getting a home inspector to inspect the home prior to any purchase. Buyers will then have a list of any potential problems with the home, along with estimates for costs of repair. Buyers can then use the list to possibly negotiate a lower price.

--Don’t expect appreciation right away. You’ll also likely want to caution buyers who believe that because they’re buying at a big discount they expect to see appreciation right away. Educate your buyers about the market. It's important to not make the mistake of counting on any major price appreciation in the near term.

Are Popular Home Sites Accurate?: 11-12-13

Not always. Surprisingly many sites that allow agents or owners post their own properties may be giving inaccurate information such as price or if the home is really still for sale. Several agents have been found to advertise sold homes as a way to generate seller or buyer leads. Although it is illegal to advertise falsely, sites like, & have no way of verifying every ad posted onto their sites. According to NAR (The National Association of Realtors) the most accurate and enforced home search system is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) where information is regulated & fines are issued for inaccuracies. This is the #1 system used by real estate agents across the U.S.

VA Medical Benefits Available For Many Prior Service Members: 10-9-13

If you ever served in the military and were honorably discharged, you may qualify for VA medical. We have had many prior service members get approved even when they thought they couldn't. Simply go to the link below, fill out app. and send to your local VA hospital.

Good News - More Buyers Are Getting Off The Fence: 9-11-113
When you compare the cost of owning a home to renting, you’ll find that buying may soon make more sense, Paul Diggle, a housing economist at Capital Economics, told
Diggle’s analysis of the housing market showed a 33 percent drop in home prices, record-low mortgage rates (with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages available under 4 percent now), and a 15 percent rise in rents since the housing market turned sour are making more consumers take a closer look at buying.
The median monthly mortgage payment of about $700 has fallen to about the level of a median monthly rent check,” an article at notes about Diggle’s analysis. “If mortgage rates keep falling and rents keep rising, the equation will tip even further toward owning.”
Case in point: Diggle says that a buyer who purchases a median-priced home and stays there for at least seven years would likely come out ahead by about $9,000 than if they chose to rent for those seven years. Diggle’s calculations factor in rents continuing to rise 3 percent a year, and housing prices staying flat for the next two years before rising in 2014.


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