If I’m Looking At Buying A Home, How Can I Optimize My Credit Score For Applying For A Loan?

When buying a home, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer, having good (or great) credit is important. Having a poor credit score could prevent you from buying the home of your dreams. This alone might have you wondering if you’re looking at buying a home, how can I optimize my credit score for applying for a loan? Before you even start looking at homes, you should know what your credit score is to avoid any possible unpleasant surprises.

Why Your Credit Score is So Important

Mortgage lenders look at your credit score to determine your creditworthiness. A low score could indicate that you are a risky borrower. Errors or past credit problems could affect your ability to obtain a mortgage or a mortgage with a lower interest rate.

Depending on your mortgage lender, the minimum credit scores they’ll accept will vary. For example, FHA lenders accept some credit scores as low as 580 with a 3.5% down payment. They might even take a lower credit score with a 10% or high down payment. However, for a conventional loan with other lenders, a minimum score of 620-660 is usually required.

So, what is considered an optimal credit score when seeking a mortgage? Even if you meet the minimum credit score requirements, the higher the score, the more favorable you will look to potential lenders. This will mean better mortgage terms for you. Squeaking by with a 670 instead of a 740+ credit score means you’ll pay a higher interest rate and a higher PMI premium if you don’t put down a 20% down payment. For the best mortgage rates and lower PMI premiums, you want to shoot for at least a 740-760 credit score.

Have a Low Credit Score? Get Ready to Optimize!


If you already know you have a low credit score or have been socked with the reality of finding out your score is maybe lower than you thought, hope is not lost. There are steps you can take right away to start optimizing your credit score with factors that could be affecting your credit score. Take a deep breath and dive into your credit report to uncover the following factors that matter:

Credit utilization ratio: You could be making on-time payments for your credit cards every month, but if you’re carrying large balances month-to-month, you are hurting your credit score. The optimal credit utilization ratio is to have your credit card balances at 30% or below. The easiest fix to optimize your credit score is to pay down your credit card balances. This might mean dipping into the savings you have put aside for your down payment. However, even if you must pay PMI for putting down less than 20% down, the lower interest rate on your mortgage could make this very worthwhile.


Removing errors: It could be possible you have errors on your credit report showing debts unpaid or even debts that aren’t your own. Go through your report and contact creditors and the credit bureaus to have any errors corrected.


Late payments: If you have a history of making late payments, this will hurt your credit score. But if you have only made one slip or two in the past, you could speak to your creditor and request they delete that bad mark from your record. If they agree, they would send a letter to the appropriate credit bureau to remove the negative mark on your report.


The trick to optimizing your credit score is to begin months before you start shopping around for a mortgage. It may take a few months for the credit bureaus to update your score, but it’s possible to have your lender request a rapid rescore, which could turn your wait into just days.

 

If You Are Considering Buying This Year, Let’s Talk About What Options There Are Today.

 

It’s Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings!

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Simplifying The Market

According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $2,840 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $2,895, last year.

Tax refunds are often thought of as ‘extra money’ that can be used toward larger goals; for anyone looking to buy a home in 2018, this can be a great jump start toward a down payment!

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state. (The refunds received for the 2017 tax year should continue to reflect these numbers as the new tax code will go into effect for 2018 tax filings.)

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Simplifying The Market

Many first-time buyers believe that a 20% down payment is required to qualify for a mortgage. Programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all allow for down payments as low as 3%, with Veterans Affairs Loans allowing many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

If you started your down payment savings with your tax refund check this year, how close would you be to a 3% down payment?

The map below shows what percentage of a 3% down payment is covered by the average tax refund by taking into account the median price of homes sold by state.

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Simplifying The Market

The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Alabama looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 69% closer to that dream!

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task. But the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you can be to make the best decision for you and your family! This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership!

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Is Now a Good Time to Rent?

Is Now a Good Time to Rent? | Simplifying The Market

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home, but nobody ever asks when it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, we want to make certain that everyone understands that today is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2017 fourth quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

Is Now a Good Time to Rent? | Simplifying The Market

As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether or not you should renew your lease, you might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to buy a home of your own instead.

Bottom Line

One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, let’s meet to determine if you are able to today!

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Mortgage Rates on FIRE! Home Prices Up in Smoke?

Mortgage Rates on FIRE! Home Prices Up in Smoke? | Simplifying The Market

Mortgage interest rates have already risen by over a quarter of a percentage point in 2018. Many are projecting that rates could increase to 5% by the end of the year.

What impact will rising rates have on house values?

Many quickly jump to the conclusion that an increase in mortgage rates will have a detrimental impact on real estate prices as fewer buyers will be able to qualify for a loan. This seems logical; if there is less demand for housing then prices will drop.

However, in a good economy, rising mortgage rates increase demand as many prospective purchasers immediately jump off the fence to guarantee they get the lower rate.

Let’s look at home prices the last four times mortgage rates increased dramatically.

Mortgage Rates on FIRE! Home Prices Up in Smoke? | Simplifying The Market

In each case, home prices APPRECIATED and did not depreciate. No one is projecting as dramatic an increase in rates as the examples above. Most are projecting an increase of approximately 1% by the end of the year.

The last time mortgage rates increased by 1% over a twelve-month period was January 2013 (3.41%) to January 2014 (4.43%). What happened to house prices during that span? They appreciated by 9.8%.

Just two weeks ago, Rick Palacios Jr., Director of Research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting explained:

“Mortgage rates have risen 1% or more ten times in the last 43 years, with little impact on home sales and prices when the economy was also strong…Historically, rising confidence, solid job growth, and higher wages have more than offset reduced demand for housing resulting from higher mortgage rates.”

Bottom Line

When mortgage rates increase, history has shown that prices appreciate (and do not depreciate) during that same time span.

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80% of Renters Believe Homeownership is a Part of Their American Dream

80% of Renters Believe Homeownership is a Part of Their American Dream | Simplifying The Market

According to the latest Aspiring Home Buyers Profile by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 82% of surveyed renters desire to own a home in the future, with 80% believing homeownership is a big part of achieving their American Dream.

The profile went on to state that 50% of millennials believe that their rent will increase, with 20% believing that an increase in rent will be the catalyst that pushes them to consider buying a home vs. renewing their lease.

So, what is holding renters back?

80% of Renters Believe Homeownership is a Part of Their American Dream | Simplifying The Market

What would make renters take the plunge?

80% of Renters Believe Homeownership is a Part of Their American Dream | Simplifying The Market

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun believes that,

“Housing demand in 2018 will be fueled by more millennials finally deciding to marry and have kids and the expectations that solid job growth and the strengthening economy will push incomes higher.”

Yun goes on to warn that,

“However, with prices and mortgage rates also expected to increase, affordability pressures will persist. That is why it is critical for much of the country to start seeing a significant hike in new and existing housing supply. Otherwise, many would-be first-time buyers will be forced to continue renting and not reach their dream of being a homeowner.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners whose houses no longer fit their needs and are looking to move up to your dream home, now is a great time to list your starter home! First-time buyers are out in force looking to achieve their American Dream.

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2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home

2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home | Simplifying The Market

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home | Simplifying The Market

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would make more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.

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Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling! | Simplifying the Market

Whether you are buying or selling a home it can be quite the adventure, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal. But in this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ‘FSBO.’
The 5 reasons you NEED a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyers (who want the best deals possible), to the home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic, so why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?

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Should I Wait Until Next Year to Buy? Or Buy Now? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Should I Wait until next Year to Buy? Or Buy Now? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 5.1% by 2019.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 4.3% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

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Calm Down! The Real Estate Market is NOT Falling Apart

Calm Down! The Real Estate Market is NOT Falling Apart | Simplifying The Market

There has been tremendous volatility in certain markets over the last few weeks (for example, the stock and currency markets). When this happens, some tend to lump all of their investments together and create an almost ‘Armageddon’ scenario where everything loses value quickly and dramatically. Real estate is an investment that can get caught up in this hysteria. Does the concern about the current housing market have merit?

Financial advisors have been warning us for months that the stock market was ripe for a “correction.”

Experts have been questioning the value of alternative currencies for over a year.

In contrast, here are the opinions of three major players in the residential housing market:

Ralph DeFranco, Chief Economist, Arch Capital Services Inc.

“It’s premature to worry about a housing bubble. The typical warning signs – excessive debt levels, poor quality loans, exponentially increasing home prices, rising vacancy rates and/or poor affordability compared to the past, and a high number of internet searches on house flipping – are not present.”

Liu-Down, Genworth Chief Economist

“My thoughts on many recent discussions of ‘housing bubble’ – the bar for a housing bubble is higher than just prices being above some fundamental value. There must be widespread behavior change as well such as higher levels of fraud and speculation.”

Fitch Report

“US home prices are on track for a 5% nominal gain for the 4th consecutive year, returning national prices to their highest level since 2007. The growth has been driven by historically low mortgage rates and unemployment plus solid population and personal income growth rates…a meaningful correction should only be triggered by an unexpected economic shock.”

Bottom Line

Speculation has driven certain markets over the last year. However, it has not been speculation, but instead people’s desire for homeownership, that has driven the real estate market.

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