The “New” Credit Score

In 2005 when the real estate market was on fire, lenders were handing out sub-prime loans left and right to those who had a credit score in the mid-to-high 500's.  Everyone was doing it, but little did they know we would all pay for it later. Most lenders now require a minimum 640 credit score to qualify for an FHA loan. Those whose score is lower than 600 will have to come up with more money up front.  A credit score below 580 has more strict requirements in order to qualify. The borrower will now have to come … [Read more...]

Is now really a great time to buy?

You keep seeing the news about all the reasons why it's a great time to buy a home, but is it really?  Sure you have the historically low mortgage rates, stable home prices, and homes that are more affordable than they have been in year.  But is that enough? What about the tough requirements on getting the home loan?  It's getting even tougher now that Fannie Mae, one of the largest government sponsored backers of home loans, recently lowered their maximum loan-to-value ratio from 97% down to 90%.  This means … [Read more...]

Negotiating a home price

Ever wondered how some people are great at negotiating a deal for just about anything? You can be too, if you utilize a few helpful tips. First off, never go shopping when you're hungry.  You've heard this before, but still you get so caught up in the excitement of a potential new residence that it's hard to stay put.  Resist the urge and you will more than likely come across a bargain without even trying.  Secondly, know the value of what you're buying. Most sellers are willing to negotiate the price of the home. … [Read more...]

Appraisers. What exactly are they looking for?

When it comes to the appraisal of a home, sellers and real estate agents are an optimistic group.  But what exactly is the appraiser looking for? To start with, they look at the living space, specifically the amount of space with a front or rear view, as well as windowless space.  They also take a look at the condition, as well as practicality of non-living space, i.e. garage, attic, and even a storage area that can be converted into another bedroom. In fact, the general condition of the home itself, i.e. paint, … [Read more...]

FICO…Is it the only game in town?

If you are like everyone else in this country, you are constantly trying to improve your FICO score. But is it really the most important score when it comes to buying a home? The answer is "not necessarily."  The most important score is the score your lender uses. Not only are there 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion), but now those credit bureaus have created their own scoring system, VantageScore. This new system competes with FICO, ranges from 501-990 and provides a letter grade, A thru F, of … [Read more...]

Breaking up

Have you ever had a real estate agent who shows you homes above your price range, is never available when you need them, or is someone that you just plain don't like? The good news is, you don't have to continue using them. Be honest and up front if it isn't working. Give them constructive feedback and let them know what is not working for you. A good agent will take your concerns and try to improve the relationship. If nothing can be done, a fair and honest agent should have no problem letting you out of the … [Read more...]

Are you asking your agent the right questions?

It takes the average person an hour or less to choose a real estate agent.  This is a relatively short period of time considering the amount of money someone spends on the purchase of a home.  There are a few major questions you should be asking your agent before choosing the "one."  First of all, is this your full time job? You want to be sure this isn't a side job, as the likelihood of your home being sold by this person is very slim.  Also, ask if they have sold other homes in your neighborhood. Local market … [Read more...]

Is your home value overestimated?

Now that home sales are on the rise, are you considering putting your home on the market?  Where do you start?  Choosing a good real estate agent to work with is one of the first steps.  One thing to watch out for is choosing an agent who overestimates your home's worth.  These agents are throwing out big numbers with the hopes that you'll choose them over other agents, who will actually price your home more realistically. If you don't mind your home on the market for a long time, go ahead and pick that agent. … [Read more...]

Are you seeing all offers on your home?

Have you had your home on the market for a while and haven't seen a single offer come through? Does that mean you haven't received any offers?  The answer may surprise you. You may have had several "low-ball" offers that your agent may not have presented to you.  Now they may have withheld this information for a variety of reasons. They may think the offer is extremely low and don't want to insult or bother you with these types of offers. Also, they very well may be out for themselves, knowing they would not earn a … [Read more...]

What’s really included?

Picture this...you walk into your "dream home", see a beautiful mirror mounted to the wall. It fits perfectly, has the perfect frame & when asked if it's included, your real estate agent says "Oh yes, I couldn't imagine it not staying with the home."  Fast forward to the day you close on the house and walk through the front door to discover not only the mirror gone, but some appliances missing, along with other items you thought were included. It's really a grey area as to what "personal property" items are to … [Read more...]