4 Ways Mortgage Lenders Can Help You Buy a Home

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In the long home-buying journey, lenders are often pegged as the bad guy—the villain who holds the purse strings and decides whether (or not) to loosen ’em up and grant you a mortgage.

OK. Let’s take a step back. This bad rep is mostly a bad rap. Because the reality is that lenders make homeownership possible for the majority of Americans who do not have the ready cash to buy a home. And even if you’re a less-than-ideal home buyer, because of bad credit or lack of a down payment, they can actually help your loan go through.

Here are five ways lenders can assist you on the path to homeownership, and some recommendations as to how you can make the most of this relationship.

1. Lenders can get you pre-approved

If you know you’re ready to buy—before you’ve even seen the inside of a single house—it’s wise to head to a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage, pronto. This means lenders check your financial history and determine how much money they’re willing to loan you to buy a home. “You want to apply before you’re entirely under the gun,” says Steven Bogan, regional managing director for Glendenning Mortgage Corporationin Haddonfield, NJ. “If you wait until you’ve made an offer on a house, you could run into problems.”

Pre-approval is proof to home sellers—and yourself!—that you won’t have problems getting the loan you need, once that special house comes your way. It is best to seek a pre-approval at least a month or two in advance, Bogan says. Requirements for approval in a post-housing bubble world can create headaches even for stellar borrowers.

But don’t start too early. Pre-approvals are only good for 30 to 60 days, so make sure you’re really ready to hit the pavement and start looking for houses. Still, don’t stress if your pre-approval expires; getting it re-upped isn’t a big deal.

“We usually just need to run your credit again, maybe get an updated pay stub or bank statement, and you’re good to go,” says Bogan.

2. If you can’t get pre-approved, lenders can show you how

So what if you apply for pre-approval and get denied? It hurts, but don’t worry—the pre-approval process isn’t a one-shot deal. Most lenders will be happy to work with you, even if you aren’t pre-approved right off the bat.

“The majority of lenders will give buyers a step-by-step path they need to follow to get up to approval,” says Bogan. And that usually involves boosting your credit score (more on that next).

3. Lenders can help you boost your credit score

One of the most common reasons home buyers don’t get approval is a lousy credit score—the all-important numerical summary of how reliable they’ve been paying off debts, from credit cards to college loans. You want a simple equation? The lower your score, the less likely you are to get a loan. The good news is that you can take action to boost your credit score. A credit repair company will show you the ropes, but will charge for those services.

You’ve actually got a free credit-boosting guide at your disposal: the lenders who just passed you up for a loan. In most cases, they’ll be happy to show you what you need to do to boost your credit score. And while it usually takes a few months for the credit bureaus to record these changes, lenders have another ace up their sleeve: They can do a “rapid re-score” that corrects and updates info on your credit report in a matter of days.

4. Lenders can help atypical borrowers

Many home buyers are employed, earning a regular W-2 income—a generally safe bet for lenders. But If you’re self-employed, a contractor or running your own business, and your income is more prone to valleys and peaks, a good relationship with a lender can help you cut past reservations about your loanworthiness. “Basically, we’re just going to look at the last two years of tax returns, instead of W-2’s and pay stubs,” says Bogan.

However, Bogan does recommend applying even earlier if you’re a non-W-2 wage earner, since there is more paperwork and more of an investigative process into your earnings. And unlike everyone else, you’ll need to consider your timing. “Say, for example, 2016 tax returns are almost due, and it was a great year incomewise. It would probably be in your advantage to wait until after you’ve filed your taxes to apply for a mortgage,” Bogan says.

No matter what your situation, though, to get the best help, you’re actually going to have to call. “You absolutely want to talk with somebody in person,” says Bogan. So skip the online forms, and ask your friends and family (or your Realtor®, if you have one already) to recommend someone you can sit down with to get the process rolling.

Posted by Angela Colley on realtor.com

Making the Most of an Open House Visit

Here are some best practices for buyers at all ends of the home-buying spectrum.

Open houses are the gold standard in real estate. They’ve been around for decades and will be ingrained in the buying and selling of homes for years to come.

The average buyer attends three open houses, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, a survey of more than 13,000 homeowners, sellers, buyers, and renters. Seventy-one percent of all buyers attend at least open house, and first-time buyers are even more likely to go (77 percent attend one open house or more).

But as a buyer, are you making the most of your open house visits?

Here are some best practices and helpful questions for buyers at all ends of the home-buying spectrum.

Use the open house to learn the market without committing

For the most part, open houses are just that — open. They make it possible for anyone to see a property in a certain time period, without an appointment or even being a very serious buyer.

New buyers should leverage the open house opportunity to get a feel for the market. In today’s world, using online search tools, mobile apps and the open house, a buyer can start to get a feel for pricing and the market before committing to an agent. Most importantly, open houses are some of the best ways for buyer and agent relationships to start.

You don’t have to sign in (but don’t be rude)

The biggest fear of some newer buyers is that a real estate agent at an open house will be all over them, ask for their contact information and then start harassing them for the next three weeks. It does happen, but it’s also common courtesy to at least recognize and say hello to the agent at the open house. Don’t forget, in addition to trying to sell the home for her client, for safety reasons, the agent is keeping a look out for who is coming and going. It’s polite to say hello and introduce yourself to the agent, but you can also politely decline to sign in.

If you’re an active buyer, you should make yourself known to the agent. Let the seller’s agent know who your agent is and don’t be afraid to express interest. When it comes time to review an offer with a seller, listing agents like to put a face to a name.

Watch the other buyers

You can tell a lot about the activity and marketability of a home by watching the other buyers. If you observe a lot of people walking in and out quickly, the home probably has some issues. Are the buyers hanging around, asking questions of the listing agent and huddling in the corner talking to their spouses or partners? If so, it could be a sign this is a well-priced and “hot” listing. If you’re interested, too, observing other buyers at the open house could help you learn about the competition.

Ask the agent questions

The real estate agent is there for a reason. It’s his job. If he is the listing agent, ask him questions. He is a direct line to the seller. He should know more than anyone about the property and the seller. Your agent can funnel your questions to the listing agent. But if you’re there, ask away. Watch the agent’s facial expression and reaction to your questions. If it’s a competitive market, ask questions such as: “Why is the seller selling?” “Is there a certain day to review offers or have you had a lot of showings?” In a slow market, ask how long the property has been on the market and what the seller’s motivations are. A good agent will engage you because it’s good for his seller.

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Be open to meeting your future agent

When considering a new doctor, lawyer or CPA, you don’t get the chance to see them in their element until you’ve decided to work with them. Not true for real estate agents. Some of the best buyer/seller/real estate relationships begin at open houses.

A good agent is wearing two hats at the open house. In addition to watching the serious buyers and getting feedback for the seller, an active agent is also looking to interact with future clients.

Face to face, informal and relevant, the interaction with an agent at an open house is important. You can get a feel for a person just from a brief meeting. If you sense the agent could be someone you could work with, ask some open-ended questions, such as “How’s the market?” and “What areas do you cover?”

Why open houses have been around for decades

At any open house, there are people at every stage of the home-buying game, from just testing the waters to looking at homes daily, making offers and working closely with an agent. For someone new to the market, it’s helpful to know the best practices for visiting open houses and interacting with the real estate agent. For more experienced buyers, the open house is an opportunity to make a second or third visit, getting a closer look at the details and uncovering things you may have missed earlier. There are lots of reasons why open houses have been around for decades — and why you should take full advantage of them.

Take full advantage of the open house by asking questions to learn all you can about the home and listing.

Posted by Brendon Desimone on Zillow

Buying a Home Can Be Scary… Know the Facts [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • 36% of Americans think they need a 20% down payment to buy a home.
  • 44% of Millennials who purchased a home this year have put down less than 10%.
  • 71.8% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • The average credit score of approved loans was 731 in September.

Posted by The KCM Crew

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Buying is Now 37.7% Cheaper Than Renting in the US

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 17.4% less expensive in Honolulu (HI), all the way up to 53.2% less expensive in Miami & West Palm Beach (FL), and 37.7% nationwide!

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low, and even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
  • Home prices would have to appreciate by a range of over 23% in Honolulu (HI), up to over 45% in Ventura County (CA), to reach the tipping point of renting being less expensive than buying.
  • Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 145% increase over today’s average of 3.7%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find your dream home.

Posted by The KCM Crew

Getting Your Home Ready for Trick-or-Treaters

Consider these tips to ensure a fun and safe Halloween night.

At summer’s end, once school is back in session, many of us start looking forward to Halloween. It’s a holiday adults can enjoy as much as kids. But, homeowners do have one serious obligation on this fun night: If you expect trick-or-treaters, you must make sure the path to your door is a safe one.

Take no trips

Inevitably, some giddy ghosts and ghouls will race excitedly to your door. Be prepared.

In the full light of day, inspect your lawn, driveway and front path for trip hazards like exposed tree roots, cracks in concrete or missing pavers. Make repairs where possible or, at the very least, cut off access to unsafe areas.

Meanwhile, if you’ve decorated the front yard with decorations like light-up pumpkins and animated figures, relocate the electrical cords so they’re not in anyone’s way.

Light the way

Make sure the path to your house is bright enough for trick-or-treaters to approach safely.

You don’t need to install a full suite of year-round landscape lighting simply to accommodate visitors on Halloween night. There are plenty of temporary and affordable options for illumination, from glow sticks to tea lights.

And although it may seem more in keeping with the mood of this spooky night to switch off your porch light, it’s much safer — not to mention more inviting — to keep it on.

Resist flammable decor

Whether vandals or accidents are to blame, there are many more fires on Halloween than a typical October night, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Holiday decorations are often quite flammable, involving materials such as paper, hay and dried cornstalks.

If you can’t resist adorning your home and yard with such potentially dangerous items, then be sure to keep them away from candles and other heat sources. If jack-o’-lanterns or luminaries figure into your celebrations, illuminate them using LED tea lights, not open flames.

Curb your dog

Chances are yours is a friendly dog. But if some Halloween costumes are so convincing as to be frightening to small children, those same getups could be equally disturbing to your pooch — particularly on such a high-energy night.

It’s good sense to contain your dog in an indoor space that’s both comfortable and secure.

A festive parade of goblins and ghouls, princesses and superheroes will soon be marching to your house. Do your part by clearing the path and lighting the way. Be safe out there, and have a Happy Halloween!

Posted by BobVila.com on Zillow

 

Also, don’t miss our Trunk Or Treat event on Halloween!! Bring your little ones by our parking lot from 4-6pm.

Explore The 5 Senses Of Selling A Home

What’s scent got to do with it?

Perhaps the smell of fresh baked cookies takes you back to the kitchen in your childhood home. Maybe that perfect sky blue paint color on the bedroom walls makes you instantly feel serene and safe. And it’s probably the crunch of the pebble stone walkway that gives you a hint of anticipation as you approach the front door. Our senses – hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste – are so strongly bound to our perceptions, emotions, and nostalgia, it’s no wonder that you rely on all five when looking for your perfect home.

To get to the heart of the sensory triggers that appeal or detract from a home shopping experience, Trulia recently surveyed real estate agents on what stands out to the five senses of potential buyers during open houses or showings.

If you are preparing to stage your home, here are a few findings from the survey to consider, as well as some tips on where to focus your efforts to create the best sensory experience to turn shoppers into buyers.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled: 

Put away the Legos. Clear the desk clutter. Vacuum up the dog hair. Nearly 74 percent of real estate agents said that the cleanliness of a home is the most important sight-based feature to home buyers. Someone looking for a new home doesn’t want to have to use their imagination (or the “mind’s eye”) to determine if the house is a fit for their lifestyle.

The Smell of Home: 

Vanilla and fresh scents (think mountain air or clean laundry smell) are the most popular and appealing fragrances when staging a home. In fact, vanilla is such a powerful scent, studies have shown it’s linked to positive nostalgic memories, reducing stress and anxiety and producing a sense of calm*.

First Impressions Make a Lasting Impression: 

While the majority of real estate agents said the most important rooms to focus on staging are the kitchen and living rooms, they emphasize not to forget about the entryway. The look and feel of the entryway is the first opportunity to make a full sensory impression on the home buyer. Additionally, homeowners should consider incorporating ambient music, fresh flowers, and a clear path to the rest of the home.

Color Correction: 

Primary colors are great for preschool walls, but are definitely a no-no when it comes to selling your home. Bright or funky color palettes such as reds, oranges, and yellows are the least appealing (you don’t need a fast food restaurant in your living room). Instead, neutral colors such as eggshell, white, and ivory are the most appealing because they represent a clean, blank canvas.

The dominant senses of selling a home are sight and smell, so focus your efforts on fresh, calming fragrances, a neutral color palette, and an inviting first impression as potential buyers walk in the door.

What have you done to entice home-shoppers senses? Share your experiences in the comments!

Methodology: Trulia designed and analyzed an online survey of 223 self-identified Real Estate Agents living in the United States. The survey was fielded utilizing an in-product invitation appearing in the ZillowGroup Premier Agent Desktop application from August 23 – 26, 2016. The survey has a margin of error 6.8% +/- at the 95% confidence level. Participants were provided a $10 Amazon gift card for their participation in the survey.

*Source: http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/suppl_1/i248.full

Posted on Trulia

5 Affordable Craftsman-Style Details to Warm Up Your Brand New Home

From stone fireplace surrounds to built-ins, craftsman-style details bring character to a builder-basic home.

The American craftsman architectural style originated (by and large) in sunny California at the turn of the 20th century. It is a distinctive American style that incorporates natural materials and clean lines.

While the exterior of craftsman homes offer details upon details — like columns, exposed beams, and stone work — the interior maintains a clean and simple vibe with hand-hewn elements and a down-to-earth feel.

Adding craftsman-style interior elements is a great way to add warmth to a home, especially new construction. Here are five budget-friendly ways to do it.

Stone accents

Craftsman style is very no-nonsense, so stone is a natural fit in this aesthetic. Stone accents throughout the house add a warm touch, especially on a fireplace surround or as an accent wall.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Stone’s natural beauty is perfect for the fireplace. Add a large wood mantel and decorate with earthy colors to make the fireplace surround a truly craftsman-style masterpiece.

To use stone in an accent wall or backsplash, make sure you choose a color that lends itself to the surrounding areas of the home. Favorite types of stone include slate, honed granite, and soapstone, especially in the kitchen, where it can truly shine.

Earthy tones

The craftsman palette pulls straight from nature. This aesthetic puts a focus on simplicity, but not a lack of color.

For this style of home, think mossy green, rusty brown, and clean white. Accent with natural finishes and tones like wood and stone, and make sure to use the colors in different decorative elements, like tiling, flooring, wall covering, and trim.

Built-in shelving

Clean lines and simple silhouettes are key to accomplishing craftsman style, and built-in shelving is a go-to way of creating this particular look.

Stay away from ornate or overly detailed structure, and opt for a clean and classic shelving unit.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Ample storage arranged in a polished way with built-in shelving perfectly reflects the unique and straight-forward craftsman aesthetic. Inside the built-ins, keep decor simple and neat so the sleek shelving can be the focal point of the space.

Interior columns

Perhaps the most distinctive detail of craftsman style is interior columns, particularly those that are squared off or tapered. This recognizable look can be found on the exterior as well, as it helps support the home in a beautifully simple way.

If your home comes equipped with columns, celebrate them! Keep the decor around them simple, and let the columns do the talking. They are best shown in earthy tones, or a simple, bright white.

Simple lighting

Contributing to the uncomplicated aesthetic of craftsman style, statement lighting and task lighting are unfussy and simple. Composed mostly of glass, iron, and bronze, the lighting pays homage to the natural materials used in this classic turn-of-the-century style.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

To honor this simplicity, look for straightforward silhouettes that add just a touch of style to a space.

See craftsman home design inspiration

Posted by Kerrie Kelly on Zillow