Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stronger Lure for Prospective Home Buyers

Home prices and mortgage rates have fallen so far that the monthly cost of owning a home is more affordable than at any point in the past 15 years and is less expensive than renting in a growing number of cities.
The Wall Street Journal's third-quarter survey of housing-market conditions in 28 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas found that home values declined in all but five markets compared with the second quarter, according to data from Zillow Inc. Meanwhile, rent levels have risen briskly across the country and mortgage rates, hovering around 4%, are the lowest in six decades.
As a result, monthly mortgage payments on the median priced home—including taxes and insurance—are lower than the average rent levels in 12 metro areas, according to data compiled for The Wall Street Journal by Marcus & Millichap, a real-estate brokerage that tracked 27 metro areas. It remains less expensive to rent than to buy in 15 cities. But affordability hasn't done much to lift the sagging housing sector because many would-be buyers are unwilling to purchase a home or unable to qualify for a mortgage.

In Atlanta, which had the most favorable values for owning versus renting, the monthly payment on the average home was $539 assuming a 20% down payment during the third quarter. By contrast, the average asking rent stood at $840, according to the Marcus & Millichap data."It's one of the most striking developments of the housing downturn," said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics. "The initial building blocks for a recovery are in place, but the legacy of the recession is really preventing households from taking advantage."
But real estate agents and economists say the trend hasn't boosted demand. That is because affordability alone hasn't been enough to overcome the obstacles in the way of a housing recovery. Some homeowners who would like to move up to larger properties are stuck because they can't sell their homes.
Also, while the monthly carrying costs on a mortgage are lower than average rents in some cities, home ownership carries other costs—including taxes, insurance, homeowner association dues and maintenance—which may dissuade some potential owners.
Other would-be buyers can't qualify for mortgages because lending conditions are tight or because they don't have enough equity in their current homes to use as a down payments. "The reality of coming up with the down payment and the loan-qualification standards makes things much different than the raw numbers suggest," says Hessam Nadji, managing director of Marcus & Millichap. And even those who may qualify remain skittish about buying property in a market where prices could fall amid foreclosures and weak job growth.
Ryan Young illustrates the point. He is under contract to buy a three-bedroom home in Washington Grove, Md., that will have monthly mortgage, tax, and insurance costs for around $150 less than the $1,900 he is paying to rent a slightly smaller house in Bethesda, Md. He qualified for a 30-year mortgage with a 3.95% fixed rate. Still, Mr. Young says he is cautious about owning his first home with the prospect of future price declines. "Buying a house is not a good financial decision, per se, but we needed a bigger place," said the 35-year-old scientist, "and we don't want to move every couple of years into a new rental."
Other cities where owning is now cheaper than renting include Detroit, Minneapolis, Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, St. Louis, Chicago and Phoenix.
Home ownership is also looking more affordable because after several years of declines, apartment rents will rise by around 4% this year, says Mr. Nadji. He says rents are poised "to pick up even more momentum across the country next year."
Even cities where it is still cheaper to rent than own have seen big boosts in affordability. In San Diego, the monthly cost of owning a home has averaged around 83% more than renting over the past two decades. During the third quarter, owning was 22% more expensive than renting, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
Associated Press
A new development in Canonsburg, Pa. The inventory of homes on the market has fallen from levels seen a year ago, as prices and mortgage rates continued to decline.
Mortgage rates are a big reason why affordability continues to improve. In 1991, a $1,700 mortgage payment allowed a borrower to take out a $200,000 mortgage. Today, it gets that homeowner a $350,000 loan, a 77% increase in borrowing power, says Dan Green, a loan officer with Waterstone Mortgage, in Cincinnati. At the same time, low mortgage rates aren't spurring sales because few analysts expect rates to rise anytime soon. The Federal Reserve in August said it would keep rates at ultralow levels for two years. In a normal interest rate cycle, "when they go low, they don't stay for very long, and people jump in," said Mr. Dales. "This time, there is no urgency."
Affordability could continue to improve as prices slide even lower in coming months. Price declines are likely because the share of "distressed" sales, including bank-owned foreclosures, tend to rise in the winter, when traditional sales activity cools. Banks are often much quicker to cut prices to unload properties quickly, which means that the greater the share of "distressed" sales, the more prices tend to fall.
One hopeful sign is that inventories have fallen from their bloated levels of one year ago. All 28 cities in The Wall Street Journal's latest survey saw homes listed for sale fall from one year ago, when markets were reeling with a substantial overhang of properties amid a big drop in demand. Visible inventory was down sharply in several markets, including by almost half in Miami and 40% in Phoenix.
Low inventories have spurred more bidding wars at the low end of the market as investors compete for homes that they can convert into rentals. In Sacramento, it would take just 2.5 months to sell the listed inventory at the current sales pace. Las Vegas has a 4.3 month supply of inventory, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. But the potential supply of homes is much bigger because banks have yet to process hundreds of thousands of potential foreclosures.
Write to Nick Timiraos at

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Credit Score Just Dropped, What Happened?

You've been working really hard to increase your credit score. You've done everything you thought you were supposed to do to present yourself as a creditworthy individual. So, why did your score suddenly drop? What happened?

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence with many consumers today, a situation that likely could've been avoided if you had only been working with a qualified credit improvement specialist from the beginning. Remember, there's no shame in seeking help with your credit. Credit scoring models are based on a number of factors that, when combined, add up to a formula that might not seem logical to those who don't deal with these kinds of issues on a daily basis.

The following are just a few examples of seemingly innocent actions that could cause your score to suddenly and dramatically drop.

I paid off my biggest credit card debt and closed the account, but my score dropped anyway. This is one of the most frustrating situations for many borrowers. You would think that paying off your biggest debt and closing your account would be a good thing - and it is. But, because of the five factors of credit we discussed in a previous article, this action could reflect poorly on your credit score because you chose to close the account. Depending on your situation, the account you closed could've been your oldest credit account with the highest credit limit, two major factors in calculating your score.

I maxed out my card, and even though I paid it off completely when I got my statement, my score still dropped. By maxing out your card, your overall credit ratios were adjusted. And even though you paid it off, your statement reflects your current status. In other words, your credit report shows that your account is maxed out, even if you pay it off the next day. The best thing you could've done here was to pay your bill before your statement arrived.

I was only one day late on my payment but I still received a 30-day late on my credit report. Unfortunately, your creditors do not distinguish the difference between one day and 30 days late. You must pay your monthly bills on time every time to avoid this penalty. Depending on which credit cards you have, you could suffer an additional penalty for being late on your credit card payments, even just one time. It's called the universal default clause, which could increase your interest rates on all your credit cards up to 28-30%, even if you're in good standing with your other accounts!

I paid off an old collection and my score dropped significantly. While it might seem illogical or even unfair, sometimes paying off a collection account can actually cause more harm than good. Remember, credit scoring models typically lend more weight to your recent activity than to the mistakes you might've made in the past. By paying off this old account, you may have inadvertently added more weight to this mistake from the past by making this item current.

Don't be shy about asking for help when it comes to your credit score. Remember, your credit is the most valuable financial tool you have at your disposal, and having an expert on your side is always smarter than learning the hard way on your own.

If you or anyone you know has questions about credit. Give us a call at your convenience. We'll be glad to review your credit and see what, if anything, needs to be done to help you meet your financial goals and needs.
Stay tuned for more great credit tips!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's time to buy that house

U.S. house prices have plunged by nearly a third since 2006, and homeownership rates are falling at the fastest pace since the Great Depression.
The good news? Two key measures now suggest it's an excellent time to buy a house, either to live in for the long term or for investment income (but not for a quick flip). First, the nation's ratio of house prices to yearly rents is nearly restored to its prebubble average. Second, when mortgage rates are taken into consideration, houses are the most affordable they have been in decades.
Two of the silliest mantras during the real-estate bubble were that a house is the best investment you will ever make and that a renter "throws money down the drain." Whether buying is a better deal than renting isn't a stagnant fact but a changing condition that depends on the relationship between prices and rents, the cost of financing and other factors.
But the math is turning in buyers' favor. Stock-oriented folks can think of a house's price/rent ratio as akin to a stock's price/earnings ratio, in that it compares the cost of an asset with the money the asset is capable of generating. For investors, a lower ratio suggests more income for the price. For prospective homeowners, a lower ratio makes owning more attractive than renting, all else equal.
Nationwide, the ratio of home prices to yearly rents is 11.3, down from 18.5 at the peak of the bubble, according to Moody's Analytics. The average from 1989 to 2003 was about 10, so valuations aren't quite back to normal.
But for most home buyers, mortgage rates are a key determinant of their total costs. Rates are so low now that houses in many markets look like bargains, even if price/rent ratios aren't hitting new lows. The 30-year mortgage rate rose to 4.12% this week from a record low of 3.94% last week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. (The rates assume 0.8% in prepaid interest, or "points.") The latest rate is still less than half the average since 1971.
As a result, house payments are more affordable than they have been in decades. The National Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index hit 183.7 in August, near its record high in data going back to 1970. The index's historic average is roughly 120. A reading of 100 would mean that a median-income family with a 20% down payment can afford a mortgage on a median-price home. So today's buyers can afford handsome houses—but prudent ones might opt for moderate houses with skimpy payments.
For example, the median home in the greater Phoenix market, including houses, condos and co-ops, costs $121,700, according to With a 20% down payment and a 4.12% mortgage rate, a buyer's monthly payment would be about $470. Rent for a comparable house would be more than $1,100 a month, according to data provided by
Of course, all of this assumes mortgages are available—no given now that lending standards have tightened. But long-term data on down payments and credit scores suggest conditions are more normal than many buyers think, according to Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. "If you have good credit, a job and a down payment, you can get a mortgage," Mr. Humphries says. "There's more paperwork and scrutiny than five years ago, but things are pretty much like they were in the '80s and '90s."
Not all housing markets are bargains. Mr. Humphries says Zillow has developed a new price/rent ratio that uses estimates for each individual property rather than city medians, to better reflect the choices facing typical buyers. A fresh look at the numbers suggests Detroit and Miami are plenty cheap for buyers, with price/rent ratios of 5.6 and 7.7, respectively. New York and San Francisco are more expensive, with ratios of 17.6 and 17.2, respectively. The median ratio for 169 markets is 10.7.
For investors seeking income, one back-of-the-envelope way of seeing how these numbers stack up against yields for other assets is to divide 1 by the price/rent ratio, resulting in a rent "yield." The median market's rent yield is 9.3% and Detroit's is 17.9%.
Investors would then subtract for taxes, insurance, upkeep and other expenses—costs that vary widely. But suppose total costs were 4% of the purchase price. That would still leave a 5.3% rent yield in the typical market. With the 10-year Treasury yield at 2.2% and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index carrying a dividend yield of 2.1%, rents for residential housing in many markets look attractive.
A few caveats are in order. First, not all transactions are average ones. Even in low-priced markets, buyers should shop carefully. Second, prices could fall further. Celia Chen, a senior director at Moody's Analytics, expects prices to drop 3% before bottoming early next year and rising slowly thereafter. "If the economy slips back into recession, however, we could easily see a 10% drop," Ms. Chen says.
And property "flipping" can be dangerous even when prices are rising. That is because, absent a real-estate boom, house price gains simply aren't that exciting. Research by Yale economist Robert Shiller suggests houses more or less track the rate of inflation over long time periods.
Houses aren't the magic wealth creators they were made out to be during the bubble. But when prices are low, loans are cheap and plump investment yields are scarce, buyers should jump.
—Jack Hough is a columnist at Email:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Boost Your Savings Account

...Without Even Trying

Annual income aside, there's not a person among us who wouldn't welcome the idea of having more money in their savings account. This is the money we use on everything from yearly vacations to family presents. Come holiday time, wouldn't it be nice to have an extra thousand or so dollars at your disposal?   Saving money is very important as you attempt to purchase a house.  Lenders look to see a pattern of saving.  Furthermore, you may need a down payment to purchase a house.  Here are a few ideas that can help to make that possible. The best part is you'll hardly feel it!

Bring Your Lunch to Work - The average person spends $6 when they buy their lunch yet only $2 when they pack it themselves. That's a potential savings of $20 a week or $1,040 dollars a year.

Durable over Disposable - Using products like Handi-Wipes (semi-disposable rags) as opposed to paper towels, and a rechargeable razor rather than the disposable kind, can save you up to $200 per year.

Hold an Annual Yard Sale - You should have no problem making at least a hundred bucks. Besides, you'll get rid of all that household clutter in the process. Whatever you don't sell can be donated to charity and used as a tax write-off.

Ask for Discounts - From buying airline tickets to paying a medical bill, always ask if there's a discount to be had. The worst that can happen is you'll be told no.

Get a Library Card - As opposed to buying a book for $20 or renting a DVD for $4, get it for free. If you average 3 movie rentals a month, you'll save yourself over $140 a year.

Watch Those Utilities - Changing over to energy saving light bulbs and low flow showerheads is a great start. Also, most utility companies offer a home audit you can complete online. If not, go to for a virtual inspection of your home. You may be surprised to learn how much energy (and money) you could be saving.

The good news is suggestions like these are merely a start. Only you know where your household may be wasting money. Find inefficient habits and figure out a solution. Remember, every little bit counts. The final step is when you save money on something, put the savings into an earmarked account. Then leave it alone until it's the appropriate time to use it.

Do you have any tips on boosting your savings?
If so, give me a call and tell me about them!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting Ready to Move? Here's a Checklist!


__ Set up a "move" file or folder
__ Set up a "move" calendar.
__ Have a garage sale.
__ Collect financial, tax and employment documentation needed for your loan.
__ Donate un-needed furniture to charity.
__ Contact insurance company to transfer policies (life, auto, homeowners).
__ Contact doctors, dentists for copies of medical records.
__ Contact schools for copies of student records.


__ Review tax deductions on moving expenses.
__ Arrange cut-off date for utility companies (telephone, gas, electricity, water, garbage, cable television).
__ Call friends and relatives to let them know you are moving.
__ Request change of address kit from post office.
__ Check out voter registration information for the new area.


__ Transfer stocks, bonds, bank accounts and contents of safe deposit boxes.
__ Prepare a list of clothing that will not be packed with household goods.
__ Take time to check off previous listed items while you still have time!


__ Label items you will need to access easily and place them in separate room or closet.
__ Clean out your refrigerator and let it air out at least 24 hours before moving.
__ Drain outdoor equipment: Water hoses, propane tank from BBQ grill, gas and oil from lawnmowers.
__ Discard all aerosols, paint, oils, and other flammable or toxic chemicals.
__ Schedule with utility companies to have utilities turned on at your new home.


__ RELAX!!!
__ Remember, items packed last will be unloaded first.
__ Conduct a final review of the house, including attic, stairwells, closets, cupboards, storage, garage, and behind doors.


__ Have the house ready for delivery prior to the truck's arrival.
__ Take a break, sit back, relax and ENJOY YOUR NEW HOME!!
Take the stress out of moving by being organized!
Give us a call if there's anything we can do.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rural Development - Rural Housing Gets Annual Fee On Top of Decreased Upfront Fee

If you are familiar with the Guaranteed Rural Housing loan offered through the USDA’s Rural Development department, then you know that the loan program does not require the payment of monthly mortgage insurance. They do have an upfront “guarantee fee” that is financed into the loan (although this amount may be paid from the buyers funds at closing).

This will change on October 1st 2011. Rural Development is implementing a monthly mortgage insurance premium along with their upfront guarantee fee. Currently the guarantee fee is 3.63% of the loan amount and there is no monthly mortgage insurance. October 1st the guarantee fee will be reduced to 2.00% and a monthly factor of .30% of the loan amount paid over 12 months.
So, what does this mean for home buyers? Here is a comparison:

                            Current          October 1st
Sale Price
Loan Amt.
Interest Rate
Loan Payment
Monthly M.I.
Total Loan Pmt

As you can see, the new monthly payment will be higher by $17….not really a deal breaker.  Especially since this is one of only two zero down mortgage loans in existence!

As a reminder, the Rural Housing loan offers the following features to home buyer:
  • $0 down payment
  • Low monthly mortgage insurance
  • Flexible credit and qualifying ratios (scores down to 600)
  • Seller can contribute up to 6% of the sale price towards buyers closing costs
  • No pre-payment penalty
  • No loan limits
  • Some counties have geographic restrictions 
  • Income restrictions vary by county
So, even though the monthly payment will be slightly higher on Rural Housing loans after October 1st, it is still a great option for home buyers!

If you have any question, please feel free to contact me at 810-987-1200. 

This blog is a repost of Jim Papthedore's mortgage blog

Friday, September 23, 2011

Score: What is it Good For? The Elements of a Credit Score

A credit score is an extremely important financial tool. It provides access to the financing you need in order to buy a car, a home, or pay for college tuition, among other things. Since higher scores equate to lower costs and vice versa, it's vital to understand the factors involved in calculating your score. Here are the five elements that make up a credit score, in order of importance:

Payment History: 35% impact. Paying debt on time has a positive impact. Late payments, judgments, and charge-offs have a negative impact. Delinquencies that have occurred in the last two years carry more weight than older items.

When applying for a mortgage, every point in your credit score can make a big difference. So don't make any major financial or credit decisions - even paying off an old debt or delinquency - without first discussing it with your mortgage professional.

Outstanding Credit Balances: 30% impact. This factor marks the ratio between the outstanding balance and available credit. Ideally, consumers should make an effort to keep balances as close to zero as possible, and definitely below 30% of the available credit limit when planning to enter into a loan transaction within 3-6 months.

Credit History: 15% impact. This marks the length of time since a particular credit line was established. A seasoned borrower is stronger in this area.

Type of Credit: 10% impact. A mix of auto loans, credit cards, and mortgages is more positive than a concentration of debt from credit cards alone.

Inquiries: 10% impact. 
This quantifies the number of inquiries (or requests for credit) that have been made on a consumer's credit history within a 6-12 month period. Each individual inquiry - up to 10 - can hurt your credit score by as much as 5 to 30 points. Any additional inquiries thereafter will not affect your credit score.

In other words, don't start the loan process until you're ready to act. Otherwise each individual credit inquiry could cost you. However, scoring models have now been adjusted to count multiple "hard" inquiries within a 45-day period as a single request. So, when you're ready, your credit will be too.
If you or anyone you know has any questions about credit scores or what can be done to repair them, please don't hesitate to call.

Biggest Credit Myths, Mistakes, and Misconceptions

Good credit is well worth the effort it takes to both achieve and preserve it. If you have good credit, the following tips will help you keep it that way. If you are looking to improve your credit, however, now is the time to get started. Give us a call. We'll review your credit and find out exactly where you stand. In the meantime, if you plan on entering into a loan transaction in the next 6 to 12 months, you simply cannot afford to make the following credit mistakes:

Don't fall behind on existing accounts. This includes your mortgage and car payments. One 30-day late can cost you anywhere from 30-80 points or more depending on the other factors being reported on your credit reports.

Don't pay off old collections or charge-offs during the loan process. Paying collections will decrease your credit score immediately due to the "date of last activity" becoming recent. If you want to pay off old accounts, do it through closing, and make sure that 1) you validate that the debt is yours, and 2) the creditor agrees to give you a letter of deletion.

Don't close credit card accounts. If you close a credit card account, it will appear to FICO that your debt ratio has gone up. Also, closing a card will affect other factors in the score such as length of credit history. If you have to close a credit card account, do it after closing, and make sure that it is an account you’ve opened more recently. Remember, 10% of your credit score is made up of your Mix of Credit, so it is important that you have at least 1-2 major credit cards open and in good standing.

Don't max out or overcharge your credit accounts. This is the fastest way to bring about an immediate drop of 50-100 points in your credit score. Try to keep your credit card balances below 30% of their available on your monthly statement, and especially during the loan process. If you decide to pay down balances, do it across the board. Meaning, make an extra payment on all of your cards at the same time.

Don't consolidate your debt onto 1 or 2 credit cards. It seems like it would be the smart thing to do; however, when you consolidate all of your debt onto one card, it appears that you are maxed out on that card, and the system will penalize you as mentioned above. If you want to save money on credit card interest rates, wait until after closing.

Don't do anything that will cause a red flag to be raised by the scoring system. This would include adding new accounts, co-signing on a loan, or changing your name or address with the bureaus. The less activity on your reports during the loan process, the better.

Don't do it alone. If you feel that the credit challenges you're facing are too much, or you don't have enough time to do the work necessary to improve your own credit, don't lose hope and give up. Give us a call. We can help. In many cases, small changes to your credit profile could yield big results that could save you thousands of dollars on your mortgage. However, if professional credit repair does become necessary, we'll gladly provide you with a referral to an experienced professional credit repair specialist you can trust.
Stay tuned for more great credit tips!

Credit Repair Service: What to Expect

Google the term "credit repair" and 19 million results are instantly generated. With so much information available, and so much of it conflicting, how do you know which credit repair company is legitimate and which ones are really just looking to take advantage of desperate consumers?

The following are steps you can take to know exactly what to expect from a legitimate credit repair company and the valuable services they provide:

Get a referral from your mortgage professional. Not only do we work with credit repair specialists on a regular basis, our business depends on your success. It's in our best interest to make sure you are represented by professionals who are experienced in dealing with creditors, the credit bureaus, and collection agencies.

Interview your candidates. Make sure they understand and can explain to you how credit scores are calculated. Remember the 5 factors that make up a credit score that we discussed in a previous article? Without a detailed knowledge of the specific elements that make up your credit score, how can they possibly create a successful strategy to increase your score?

Don't believe the hype. Credit repair takes time. Don't fall for advertisements from companies promising miracles in just a few days or weeks. Remember, it took time for your score to get where it is, and it will take a legitimate credit professional time to fix it, depending on your situation. For the most part, expect 3 to 6 months for the best results, and up to a year or more if you have more serious problems like bankruptcies or identity-theft issues.

Don't spend more than $1,500. Depending on your situation, expect to spend between $800 and $1,500 for a legitimate credit repair company. Again, if you have serious credit challenges such as charge offs, collections, public records or identity theft issues, expect to be in the higher range and vice versa. In today's market, where FICO scores one point below 740 could cost you thousands of dollars in interest and monthly payments, you'll be glad you made this investment in your financial future.

Monitor your progress. Be sure to communicate with both your mortgage professional and your credit repair representative throughout the process. To ensure success, we all need to be on the same page. With the right team of professionals, you can expect your credit score to increase between 10 to 220 points over the course of 6 weeks to 6 months. That's going to save you a lot of money on your mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, and even student loans.

Credit repair is a valuable, worthwhile service when you're working with the right company. If you have questions about credit repair and how it affects your chances of securing a mortgage or refinance, don't hesitate to call. We'll be glad to review your credit and see what, if anything, needs to be done to help you meet your financial goals and needs.  Also, we will be happy to refer you to some excellent credit repairs specialists.
If you or anyone you know has any questions about credit scores or what can be done to repair them, please don't hesitate to call.

5 Ways to Raise Your Credit Score - And Fast

If you are looking to improve your credit score quickly, now is the time to get started. Give us a call. We'll review your credit and find out exactly where you stand and where you need to get to. In the meantime, here are some great strategies you can utilize right away to give your score a little boost.

Create Some Balance: While paying down installment debt (car, school, mortgage, etc.), on time, and as agreed, shows responsibility and will definitely boost your credit score, paying down or paying off revolving debt, such as credit cards, can cause a quick and significant jump in your credit score. The trick is to get and keep your balances below 30% of your credit limit on each card on your monthly statements. For faster results, attack those cards with balances closer to their respective credit limits first, as opposed to those cards with simply the highest debt. Remember, if you pay off any credit cards completely, do not close your accounts without discussing it with your mortgage professional first. Cancelling those cards may inadvertently undo all of your hard work.

Know Your Limits: Make sure that your credit card issuers are reporting the correct limits on your accounts to the three major credit bureaus. Without an available limit, your account will appear to be maxed out at its highest reported balance each month. This could cost you up to 80 points in certain instances. Some creditors, such as American Express® and certain cards issued by Capital One®, actually have a policy of not reporting available credit. However, most companies will report your credit limits if you ask them in writing.

Take Some Credit: If you have a credit card account in very good standing, make sure that all three credit bureaus know about it. Just like your credit limits, some creditors don't report your information to all three credit companies - this is why credit scores often vary between bureaus. If this is the case, give them a call to find out why. Correcting this oversight could provide a significant boost to your score. Also, if you're in very good standing, ask your creditor for a lower rate or higher credit limit. This will increase the gap in the debt you owe versus the credit you have available. Sometimes hinting about closing an account can suddenly bring out the generous spirit of certain card issuers. Give it a try. The worst they can say is no.

Protect Your Interests: Your credit score is calculated based solely on the information available to the credit bureaus. If you have a HELOC, make sure it's listed as a mortgage or an installment account on your credit reports and not a revolving debt. If you had a bankruptcy, be sure that all items associated with the bankruptcy are being reported as included in the bankruptcy with a zero balance. This action could increase your score by 50-100 points. Because simple mistakes like these can wreak havoc on your credit score, it's important to monitor your credit every four to six months.

Even the Score: If you find information on your credit report that you believe is inaccurate or incomplete, then you have the right to dispute it free of charge. For the fastest results, visit the appropriate credit bureau's website and file a dispute online. If supporting documents are necessary, you have to file your dispute by mail.

If you'd like more information or a copy of our Sample Dispute Letter, give us a call right away. We'll be glad to help you in any way we can or, if it becomes necessary, refer you to credit professionals you can trust.
If you or anyone you know has any questions about credit scores or what can be done to repair them, please don't hesitate to call.

Know the Score: Three Steps to Better Credit

If you are looking to buy, invest in, or refinance real estate now or in the coming months, your credit is going to play a more significant role in today's tight-fisted credit environment than it has in the past. It's that simple. Would-be borrowers need to address any and all credit issues now to avoid having to pay for it later.

But, here's the kicker. Nearly 80% of all credit reports contain errors of some kind. Recent studies also indicate that about one-fourth of these reports contain mistakes so egregious that applicants could actually be denied credit! Don't let this happen to you.

Step One: Get Your Report
The three main credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian®, and TransUnion®, are required by law to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. To request your free copy (one from each company) or call 1-877-322-8228. (Note: free credit reports do not include credit scores. Scores can either be purchased online or pulled by your mortgage professional.)

While you're online, be sure to visit as well. This will help you avoid the hassle of becoming a "trigger lead" and being bombarded with unsolicited mortgage offers, and make life a lot easier throughout the mortgage process.

Step Two: Dispute Inaccuracies
Study your credit reports and make sure everything is accurate. If you do find any discrepancies, you can legally dispute mistakes or outdated items for free. Once notified of a mistake on your report, a credit bureau has thirty days to investigate and respond. If the information can't be confirmed, then the item should be removed. (If you'd like more information on this process, give us a call. We'll send you our Sample Dispute Letter to help get you started).

Step Three: Meet With Your Mortgage Professional
Now that the information on your report is accurate, what if there are still some items in your credit history you would rather forget about? All is not lost. For some, small changes to your credit profile could yield big results that could save you thousands of dollars. For others, enlisting the services of a professional credit improvement company may be required. This important process can take up to six months or more, so don't wait. Give us a call. An experienced mortgage professional can share other insights into the ins and outs of credit scoring and credit repair.
Stay tuned for more valuable credit tips.


People Smiling

Here is a list of helpful tips to ensure an effortless loan process. These DO’s and DON’Ts will help avoid any delays with your loan approval.

DO call us if you have any questions
DO continue living at your current residence
DO continue making your mortgage or rent payments
DO continue to use your credit very sparingly
DO keep working at your current employer
DO keep your same insurance company
DO stay current on all existing accounts

DON’T apply for new credit (even if you seem pre-approved)
DON’T buy any furniture via credit or with closing funds
DON’T change bank accounts
DON’T make any large deposits
DON’T close any credit card accounts
DON’T consolidate your debt onto 1 or 2 credit cards
DON’T finance any elective medical procedure
DON’T join a new fitness club
DON’T make a major purchase (car, boat, fur, jewelry, etc.)
DON’T max out or over charge on your credit card accounts
DON’T open a new cellular phone account
DON’T open a new credit card
DON’T pay off any loans or credit cards without discussing it with us
DON’T pay off charge offs without a discussion with us first
DON’T pay off collections without a discussion with us first
DON’T start any home improvement projects
DON’T take out a new loan
DON’T transfer any balances from one account to another

If you encounter a special situation, it is best to mention it to us right away so we can help you determine the best way to achieve your goals.  810-987-1200.