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Get Your Credit Mortgage Ready

The path to homeownership can be stressful and often difficult. If you have less than perfect credit history, the obstacles might be even greater. Even if your credit is good, there are a few red flags that might prevent you from getting a mortgage (or the mortgage rate/type) that you are hoping for. Below is a list of items that can hinder the process of obtaining a mortgage:

Don't leave your credit score up to chance.

Don’t leave your credit score up to chance.

  • Bankruptcy– Some mortgages will work with a past bankruptcy. But you usually need to be several years past the discharge date and have rebuilt your credit. A bankruptcy, even when discharged, can stay on your credit report for up to ten years.
  • Foreclosure short sale – Some mortgages will work with a past foreclosure short sale. But you usually need to be several years past the sale date and have rebuilt your credit. Even when finalized, a foreclosure short sale can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
  • Unpaid judgments– No mortgage lender wants to take the risk that an earlier debt could take precedence over their loan. All judgments must be satisfied, removed or vacated from your credit report. And, if paid, your judgment will stay on your report for seven years. Solve open judgments. Try to vacate them first or pay them and get proof that they’re paid. Yes, I know it hurts to take money out of your hard-earned down payment savings account. But that down payment won’t do you a bit of good if you can’t get a mortgage because of an old judgment from the cable company you fought with in your first apartment.
  • Open collections– If you don’t pay a bill, the company you owe may sell your debt to a collection agency who will try to get you to pay. ONLY PAY THEM OFF IF YOU ARE TOLD TO DO SO. Keep in mind that paying a collection will not raise your credit score, but LOWER YOUR SCORE. Once a debt has gone to collections, your credit is hit and can only recover over time.
  • Too much monthly debt– A good rule of thumb is that if you’re paying more than 5 percent of your gross monthly income for debt payments (credit cards, student loans, car payments, personal loans), you’re decreasing the amount of mortgage you’ll be approved for. If your income is high and housing prices are reasonable, high debt might not hurt you much. But if you have a modest income, debt can price you right out of a mortgage.
  • Pay your current bills on time, religiously – You’ll need the boost to your credit score if you’ve had problems in the past. And you’ll want to prove to a lender you’ve gotten past old issues and made a fresh start in rebuilding your credit.
  • Make sure the problems are right – If not, you must dispute them off. Experts disagree about how many people have serious errors on their credit reports, but I have witnessed a client who discovered that someone had posed as his spouse after finding lots of strange information on his credit report. Don’t pay the price for someone else’s mistake.

This piece is guest written by our partner, Credit Law Center (CLC). CLC helps clients achieve financial success by cleaning up their credit history and putting them on track for financial freedom. Contact them today at (800) 994-3070 or by visiting creditlawcenter.com.

How to Win a Bidding War

Now that the housing market is heating back up, you’re likely going face stronger competition from your fellow buyers. So what do you do when you’ve found the perfect home, and it turns out that someone else thinks it’s perfect too?

Here are some expert tips to help you come out on top in a bidding war:

In a competitive market, you might be facing multiple offers on homes.

In a competitive market, you might be facing multiple offers. Be smart and follow our simple tips for success.

Get Your Finances in Order

Getting pre-approved for a loan will go a long way towards winning a bidding war. It shows you’re committed and helps to eliminate any doubts a seller may have about your financial ability. In a competitive market, your offer might not even be considered if you do not have a pre-approval letter.

Master Your Cover Letter

Your offer should contain a cover letter along with a pre-approval letter or a proof-of funds document. Your cover letter should showcase why you want the home, what you do for a living, your interests, and also how you see your future unfolding in this property. If you truly love the home, don’t be afraid to reveal why you and or your family belong there. Creating an emotional connection can help you stand out among the other bidders and give you an added advantage.

Much like a cover letter for a job, your offer cover letter is a pivotal element to getting noticed by the seller and can make or break your chances of getting the home.

Be Swift

As they say, the early bird gets the worm. Be the first with an offer that matches the asking price or comes in slightly below, to increase your chances of winning a bidding war. It shows you’re a serious buyer and that you value the home you’re bidding on. To give your offer some added urgency, put an expiration date on it as well.

Make a clean offer

The simpler the offer, the more likely the seller is to accept it. While you may be tempted to outline all of your “must-haves” upfront, these are better left until after you’ve made it a few steps further in the buying process. You’ll still have an opportunity to negotiate repairs, closing costs, furniture, and any other wants after the inspection.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

Don’t let your emotions over-rule all of that hard work you put into researching asking prices, looking at schools and scoping out the neighborhood.  These are necessary to make a sound decision and sometimes all logic goes out the window when you fall in love with a home. Don’t let yourself step outside your price range in the heat of the moment. There will always be another home but there isn’t always more money.

If you’ve found yourself in the midst of a bidding war and need some expert advice, contact our knowledgeable and friendly team at 855-441-6288.

http://www.realtor.com/advice/how-to-win-a-bidding-war-on-your-dream-house/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102640371

Five Basic Feng Shui Tips to Apply Today

Does your home promote health, wealth and happiness?

Does your home promote health, wealth and happiness?

Feng Shui has been used for almost 3,000 years to balance the energy of spaces. To truly practice the art of Feng Shui it takes time, effort and much study. Luckily there are some simple tasks you can put into practice right away.

If you’re looking for ways to make your home more comfortable and enjoyable, take a lesson from this ancient practice to promote positive energy in your home and create an inviting space for potential buyers.

Clear the Clutter

According to Feng Shui experts, clutter blocks the flow of energy in your home and can even negatively influence your life. Begin the clearing process by moving through your house one room at a time. Set a time limit for yourself and gradually increase the amount of time you spend clearing the clutter in each space.

Fix Squeaks

This one seems like a no brainer, but many people become accustomed to the squeaks in their home and simply stop hearing them. The most important squeak to fix is the front door, as a squeaky door will promote bad energy coming and going from the house. To encourage positive energy, simply oil the door hinge and enjoy the sound of a squeak free door.

Consider Your Bed’s Position

We spend almost half of our lives sleeping, so it’s important to make sure your bed is in what’s called “commanding position.” This allows you to have protective energy behind you while you’re sleeping and maintain strong energy. Make sure your bed is as far away from the door as possible and is not directly aligned with the door. You should have a good view of the door as well.

Clean Your Windows

In Feng Shui, windows symbolize your eyes to the world. They allow you to see what’s going on outside and let the light in to our space.  To make sure your vision is clear, clean windows regularly to brighten your space and let positive energy in.

Focus on Air & Light Quality

Good Feng Shui energy calls for quality air and light. Be sure to open the windows as much as you can and invest in indoor plants to keep air fresher. Let in natural light often and ensure you have adequate lighting for your home.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to creating balance and positive energy flow in your home.

If you want to focus your energy on selling your home and are looking for expert advice, please contact our team at 855-441-6288.

Sources:

http://fengshui.about.com/

http://inhabitat.com/9-simple-tips-to-feng-shui-your-home/

The Skinny on Home Warranties

Your furnace goes out. Now what? It’s a costly repair that can really take a toll on your pocketbook.

Do home warranties protect your new investment?

Do home warranties protect your new investment?

There are many people that rely on home warranties to repair their appliances. Home warranties are service contracts that are designed to cover appliances and other items that can break within the home. However, the age old question is – are home warranties worth it?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a home warranty and home insurance. A home warranty typically covers repair and replacement costs for appliances – with a service fee. Home insurance covers appliances, but normally won’t cover them unless damage occurs to the house – for example, a fire, flood or theft.

The Pros – For sellers, home warranties that are included on a home they are selling can be a big bonus. According to a recent survey by a large home warranty provider, homes that come with a warranty sell 11 days quicker and make an average of $2,300 more that those that do not. Buyers can have the reassurance that their appliances are covered and possibly save up to thousands of dollars.

The Cons – Many consumer reports argue that home warranties aren’t worth the cost – $400 to $600 a year. One complaint is that many claims are denied because it is determined to be a pre-existing condition. Claims are also denied because the appliance hasn’t been maintained properly. Other problems included no coverage on more expensive items like leaky roofs or basement moisture and extra charges for things like plumbing and heating.

If you’re ready to purchase a home warranty, here are some tips to consider:

  • Check out multiple providers. Just like with any purchase, review your options. Also, make sure the company has the proper licensing and other requirements to provide a home warranty.
  • Review the contract carefully. As mentioned, there are many reasons a claim can be denied. There are also many appliances that could possibly not be covered under your plan. Read the contract carefully, including the fine print.
  • Create a budget. Add in the payment to your monthly budget. Include a possible service charge – which could range from $50 to $100.
  • Talk to your real estate agent. Keep your agent in the loop about your search for a home warranty. They may have a good relationship with a company and know who to watch out for.

United Real Estate is here to help you make the best decisions for you and your family.  If you are ready to get started on the home buying process, or if you have questions about buying, contact our support team.

 

Sources:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/09/why-you-should-avoid-home-warranties/index.htm

http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-lew-20140511-story.html

Launching: Educator Mortgage Program

  • Now Offering: Discounts for Educators

    Now Offering: Discounts for Educators

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In conjunction with Supreme Lending, we have introduced a special Educator Mortgage Program that will be made available to teachers and all employees working in any public or private education system. This program is designed to benefit those who spend their days bettering the lives of others. You shape our children, our communities, our future – let us serve you, your family, your future.

What’s offered?

  • Discounted closing costs
  • Real estate agent fee credits
  • Priority loan processing
  • School Donations

Who can participate?

  • Teachers/faculty
  • Coaches
  • Custodial/facilities staff
  • Librarians
  • Secretaries
  • Professors/adjunct faculty
  • Counselors
  • And any public or private school employee

If you work in the public service sector and you are looking to find out if this program could work for you, contact us or visit our dedicated website.

Four Things to Avoid When House Hunting

  • What neighborhood works best for you?

    What neighborhood works best for you?

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House hunting can be exciting but there’s also plenty to consider when you’re conducting your search. When looking for a house, most people have a good understanding of what features they want.  But what about the things you need to avoid?

To dodge some major house hunting pitfalls, take a look at our quick tips below.

Looking outside of your price-range. Find out how much you can borrow from your home lender and stick to it.  While it can be tempting to stretch your budget for a home that appears to be just right, people often forget about hidden costs like taxes, insurance, utilities and fees that will be tacked onto the purchase price or the monthly payment. To avoid temptation, scratch any homes off your list that are clearly out of your price-range.

Buying the first home you see.  There’s a lot to consider when buying a home and without a strong basis of comparison, you could be making the wrong decision. Make sure you’ve done your research and have a good idea of what average prices are in the area you’re looking in and see how each home stacks up. You’ll also need to investigate the neighborhood to make sure it’s on par with your family’s needs. Once you’ve had a chance to look at some options, you’ll feel great knowing that you’ve made an informed decision.

Homes that need major renovations. Unless you have the cash flow and ability to renovate, these homes are best left untouched, especially for first time home buyers. Think about how much time you’re willing to wait while your house is being renovated – are you prepared to wait even longer? Renovation projects tend to go over-time and over-budget, so unless you’re looking to stay put for several years, this home might not be worth the headache.

Not getting inspections. Make sure you arrange an independent inspection to assess the overall state of the home, even if your lender doesn’t require it. Since sellers may not disclose all issues, an inspection is a great chance to discover any potential roadblocks and decide if they will make or break your buying decision.  Knowing the true state of the home can also provide some great bargaining power.

Whether you’re searching for your first home or your thirtieth, our expert team is here to help make your home-buying process as smooth as possible. Contact them for more information today.

Sources:

http://www.trulia.com/pro/buyers/house-hunting-pitfalls-to-help-buyers-avoid/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/03/06/the-7-top-home-buying-mistakes-you-should-avoid/

Increase Your Energy Efficiency in 5 simple steps

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Increase your Energy Efficiency in Four Simple Steps

Increasing your energy efficiency is a great way to cut down housing-related costs and make your home more desirable to potential homebuyers.  There are quite a number of tasks to tackle in the name of saving energy; here are four tips to get you started on increasing your energy efficiency:

Get an energy assessment. The easiest place to start is with a home energy assessment. An energy auditor will come into your home and determine the spots where your home is wasting the most energy. To find an auditor, go to resnet.us (link to: http://www.resnet.us/directory/search#), it’s highly recommended by the US Department of energy and provides a reliable and certified network of auditors in your area.

Once you’ve got your assessment, you will have a good idea of where to start. You will be able to prioritize based on what improvements are most important to you.

Find your leaks. It may seem obvious, but inspect your doors and windows for leaks. Left unchecked, they could be letting cold air seep into your house. Check these, along with attics and basements, and then get going by getting yourself some draught strips. Make sure to cut draught strips to size before placing adhesive on doors and windows. With this simple fix, you’ll be well on your way to minimizing those heating bills.

Insulate. Did you know that about half of the homes in America are under-insulated?  The type of insulation you use depends on the room, so make sure to do your research. Make sure to seal any leaks and perform necessary repairs before installing. With a little bit of research and DIY determination, insulation can keep your home cozy and energy efficient in every season.

Install a programmable thermostat. This is probably the easiest change you can make to increase your energy-efficiency. Installing a programmable thermostat can save you around 10-percent on heating and cooling bills, according to the president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

This is a no brainer for most folks, but make sure you buy a thermostat that works for your home and your schedule.  It’s worth a quick visit to your local home repair store to ensure you’re choosing the right thermostat for your home.

Now that you’re starting to see all the different ways you can increase your energy efficiency, you’re bound to find a few changes that make sense for your home. Adjustments will help to decrease your overall energy costs and make a positive impact on the environment. If you’re looking increase your energy efficiency to make your home more attractive to homebuyers, we’d love to help you discover all the ways to make your home a true standout. Contact our experts today to start the conversation.

Sources:

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/where-insulate-home

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/professional-home-energy-audits

http://mspplumbingheatingair.com/blog/3-must-know-tips-for-buying-a-programmable-thermostat

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-energy-efficient-home-improvements/1

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/guide_to_energy_efficient_windows.pdf

 

 

 

 

Office Spotlight: United Real Estate – Asheville

  • Learn more about our offices.

    Learn more about our offices.

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Located in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountain range, Asheville boasts a unique blend of natural wonders coupled with rich architecture and historical roots.

Residents can explore locally owned boutiques, eateries and galleries oozing with vibrant and inviting energy. Asheville has over 30 art galleries to stroll through as well as a fresh mix of farm-to-table dining, southern comfort food and everything in between.

While the city boasts an eclectic mix of food, art and entertainment, the mountains offer a steady stream of natural beauty for locals to enjoy. It’s an outdoor lovers dream with easy access to hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and even stargazing.

The city has kept much of its historical architecture intact, allowing residents and visitors alike to see a rare blend of Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Neoclassical style architecture.

In addition to its thriving city center, Asheville has some great neighborhoods to explore for those looking for a new home or vacation house:

Black Mountain

Located only 15 miles from Asheville, this neighborhood is an ideal spot for families to settle in. Black mountain has an exceptional school system, a wide range of cabins and homes to choose from and small town hospitality that will make anyone feel at home.

Biltmore Forest

A well-established luxury community, Biltmore Forest offers residents the privacy of forest living. Not far from Asheville, this neighborhood is a great place to live, work and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Candler

A mountain community through and through, Candler is only 20 minutes from Asheville. Located in Hominy Valley, Candler boasts an idyllic country setting without the isolated country feeling. Residents can also enjoy weekends sans yard work and outdoor maintenance, as Candler is a maintenance-free community!

Waynesville

Natural beauty is everywhere in this charming small town. Nestled in a valley just 30 miles outside of Asheville, Waynesville residents can savor stunning views of the Great Balsam range. Condos, townhomes and single family homes are available to buy in this neighborhood.

Weaverville

Weaverville has a bustling economy, with one of the most vibrant art communities in North Carolina. With a low tax rate and a pro-business attitude, this community is popular with businesses and entrepreneurs eager to make their mark.

Arden

Located in southern Buncombe County, Arden is only minutes away from Asheville. With a great school system and a super convenient location, this neighborhood offers a great place to settle down with all the amenities of Asheville close by.

With the cost of living hovering just over the national average, Asheville is  an affordable town to settle down in. Housing is also slightly above the national average of $178,400 with an average of $209,400. Stunning mountain views and a thriving city scene demand higher than average prices, but they also ensure that houses will maintain their values in the years to come.

If Asheville has climbed to the top of your housing list, contact our expert team at 888-961-6161

Sources:

http://www.exploreasheville.com/

http://www.zillow.com/asheville-nc/home-values/

http://www.ashevillechamber.org/economic-development/research-and-reports/cost-living-reports

http://www.forbes.com/places/nc/asheville/

Franchise Feature: Indianapolis

  • Indianapolis Downtown

    Indianapolis Downtown

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Originally nicknamed the “Crossroads of America” for sitting at the junction of multiple highways, Indianapolis has certainly become the intersection of culture, nightlife, nature and sports.

With a bustling downtown, major sports teams, numerous parks and an affordable housing market, it’s easy to see why folks are flocking to Indy.

Known most notably for the Indy 500, which recently took place at the end of May, Indianapolis is famous for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Along with world-class racing, Indianapolis has major sports teams such as the NFL Indianapolis Colts and the NBA Indiana Pacers, making it an ideal place for sports fans.

It’s the 12th largest city in the nation, second only to Washington DC in its number of monuments.  It boasts major universities such as Purdue, Butler and the University of Indiana.

Besides its many monuments, residents can enjoy neighborhoods with a diverse range of dining, shopping, theatre, art, live music and nightlife such as:

Zionsville

A lovely place for families to settle with top rated schools, a charming New England style downtown and a quaint community full of unique local shops and restaurants.

Carmel

Money Magazine named Carmel the 3rd best place to live – now that’s impressive! It has a strong local economy with projected job growth and top rated schools, along with pedestrian friendly streets and an authentic sense of community.

Northern Indianapolis

Located only 15 minutes from downtown, this area has an exciting mix of entertainment, local art and dining.  Residents have access to great local schools and safe investment opportunities as Northern Indianapolis has an established real estate market.

Downtown

This neighborhood has something for everyone with single-family homes, condos, high-end lofts and converted work/live spaces available. It’s highly accessible as well with interconnected biking and running trails and has plenty to do for every type of interest from the Colts and the Pacers to Mass Ave Theatre.

Broadripple/Meridian Kessler

Known for its older homes and historically rich background, this neighborhood is only 5 minutes from downtown. It offers a wide range of dining an entertainment options and has a strong LGBT community.

While the city has much to offer, Indianapolis also has ample outdoor space for nature lovers to enjoy such as Eagle Creek Park and Nature reserve, one of the largest parks in the U.S., along with hundreds of local parks and bike paths.

Residents enjoy a low cost of living compared to the larger cities in the nation, meaning locals can stretch their dollars a bit further and enjoy all that the city has to offer. Studies show that the cost of living in Indianapolis is approximately 4% cheaper than the rest of the nation when looking at housing, healthcare, childcare and transportation.

Along with a lower cost of living, residents can enjoy the benefits of an affordable housing market. The median home values in Indiana are below the national average. According to Zillow, the median home value in Indiana is $130,400, whereas the national average is $178,400.

With a thriving city culture, low cost of living and reasonable housing prices, Indianapolis is an ideal place to set up shop and get the best of city living without the expensive city price tags.

If you’re looking to buy a home in Indiana, check out our office in Carmel, IN – a northern suburb of Indianapolis.

Sources:

http://careers.angieslist.com/life-in-indy/

http://www.zillow.com/indianapolis-metro-in_r394705/home-values/

http://cost-of-living.startclass.com/l/195/Indianapolis-IN-Metro-Area

http://www.clrsearch.com/Indianapolis-Demographics/IN/Quality-of-Life

http://motorsportstalk.nbcsports.com/2015/05/26/juan-pablo-montoya-earns-nearly-2-5-million-for-indy-500-win-full-box-score-with-winnings-attached/

United Takes New Orleans

  • Get ready for the 2016 Convention

    Get ready for the 2016 Convention

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Its official, we’re heading to New Orleans for our 2016 convention. Even though it might seem like the 2015 convention just wrapped up, we’re already planning for next year.

With our dedicated agents, brokers and industry experts all in attendance, our conventions are always a great success.  The convention is a fantastic opportunity to uncover new ideas, learn tactics for advancing your business and gain amazing insights from industry experts. The agents and brokers in attendance are able to set new goals, build connections with a powerful network of industry experts and build momentum for the coming year.

Haven’t been before? Here’s what you need to know:

Who

United Real Estate agents, staff, vendors and strategic partners are all invited to join us for our 2016 Convention. We use this as a time to recognize past accomplishments as well as gear up for the future.

What

Our annual convention is an opportunity to learn from educational speakers, mingle with United executives and be recognized for past years’ accomplishments.

When

The convention will be held February 19-21, 2015.

Where

To make the event even more enoyable, we’re hosting it at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside located along the Mississippi River and at the edge of the French Quarter.

Interested in learning more? Contact our support team at 855-441-6288 or eventteam@unitedrealestate.com. They’d be happy to help.