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Monthly Archives: May 2015

One-Question Exam: A Credit Report True/False Quiz

Here is a one-question True or False exam that every future first-time home buyer should take:
True or False:
One sure way to build a strong credit report is to pay your bills on time.
(Answer: False)
Particularly for a first-time Naperville area home buyer, being able to present a strong credit report can make the difference between being able to afford a quality home that satisfies all your ‘must haves’—or one you just sort of settle for.
It’s about how much you can comfortably afford. The interest rate you will be offered is directly related to your bill-paying history, and a percentage point (or more) can make a big difference in your monthly budget. Because lending institutions charge more or less based upon the degree of risk they believe a loan carries, the stronger your credit report, the “more house” your monthly payment will cover.
Of course, since a string of unbroken records of punctual payments is what lenders look for, you might think that the answer to my one-question True or False exam would be an unqualified ‘True’—but not so fast. There’s a small catch is in the unbroken records that they look for. The word records.
Just paying your bills on time doesn’t build a strong credit report unless there are records of it—and for area first-timers who have been paying rent for years, all those prompt payments could well be missing in action. The surprising reason lies in the nature of our whole credit reporting system.
It’s voluntary.
As the L.A. Times spotlighted last summer, landlords, phone and cable companies, “and many other creditors don’t report your payments” to the big three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). They aren’t required to do so. If you’re planning on becoming one of our west suburban first-time home buyers, that might be a big deal—especially since rent payments usually make up the lion’s share of what you buy on credit. But you can do something about it!
Recognizing the difficulty some first timers were having in qualifying for home loans precisely because of such missing data, about five years ago, the credit bureaus teamed up with services like RentTrack that enable tenants to pay their rents online—and get credit for them. TransUnion and Experian also introduced services like “ResidentCredit” and “RentBureau” that encourage property managers to report rent payments for their tenants. That makes sense for landlords, too, because when rent payments are recorded, it enables them to better gauge the creditworthiness of their next batch of applicants.
Making sure your payments are being recorded will put today’s renters ahead of the game when they eventually decide they’re ready for the next step: home ownership. It simplifies the answer to that One-Question True or False credit report question greatly…to a simple “True”!

Spring is definitely an inspirational time of the year. After a long, wet Winter, we Midwesterners are looking forward to some renewed energy and sunshine! With a change of pace we can’t wait to experience what Mother Nature has to offer. Bringing all that fresh energy inside couldn’t be easier with the crisp and homey color selections for 2015. Pantone always presents a true change in color and this year was no different with their regal red called “Marsala”. If that is too bold, Sherwin-William’s color of the year is Coral Reef which definitely adds a bit of spice to a room. In our case, we like a touch of green and that was satisfied by Benjamin Moore’s color of the year Guilford Green. It is a great choice to bring the outside in with a calming green that would be an excellent choice for welcoming family and friends in the entryway. Of course, neutrals always provide an extended scale of whites, browns, grays, blacks, and blues that allow for something new without going overboard.

How will you incorporate these colors into your Spring and Summer updates? Are you envisioning a Coral Reef accent wall or a Guilford Green backsplash in the kitchen?

Spring is in full force; the summer months are right around the corner. If you are debating moving up to your dream home, here are four great reasons to consider buying today instead of waiting.

1.) Buyer Demand is High & Inventory Is Low

Recent numbers show that buyer demand is at the highest peak experienced in years, and inventory for sale is at a 4.6 months supply, which is still markedly lower than the 6.0 months needed for a historically normal market.

The National Association of Realtors, Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun put it this way,“Demand in many markets is far exceeding supply, and properties in March sold at a faster rate than any month since last summer.”

Listing your home today can greatly increase exposure to buyers who are out in force and ready to act.

2.) Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 11.7% (most pessimistic) and 27.5% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting for your current home’s value to increase before selling could price you out of your new home if you aren’t careful.

3.) Mortgage Interest Rates Are Still Near Record Lows

As we reported last week, interest rates have remained below 4% for some time now, and are substantially lower than the rate previous generations paid when getting a mortgage.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will rise over the next 12 months.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Even an increase of half a percentage point can put a dent in your family’s net worth. Whether you are moving up or buying your first home, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your home.

4.) It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Have you always wanted to live in a certain neighborhood? Would a climate change be just what the doctor ordered? Would you like to be closer to family?

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to move up to your dream home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Whether we see it as evidence of the advance of a wider green homes movement or simply of rising environmental consciousness, Naperville area green homes are becoming properties with a distinct marketable sales advantage. What were once viewed as altruistic gestures practiced by only the most dedicated preservationists are going mainstream—and at a rapid clip. The National Association of Realtors® recently found that 70% of those surveyed believe eco-friendly features add value to a home. In other words, the practical advantages of ‘going green’ are becoming more and more evident to prospective buyers.

For sure, one reason for the increasing popularity of green homes in our area is a growing and sincere concern about sustainability.
But there’s also another reason: a growing and equally sincere desire to save cash!

There are in fact a number of practical reasons why green homes save their owners money—

    • Tankless water heaters are one example of a technology that’s been around for a while, but which is now gathering popularity. The engineering is based on the fact that constantly storing and re-heating of a volume of water means wasting a lot of energy. Tankless units don’t store heated water; instead they pass it over coils that are only energized when hot water is needed. As a consequence, tankless water heaters can actually save their owners up to 50% on hot water costs!
    • As global critics increase their cries for the conservation of fresh water, the idea that green homes can make a major difference is gaining traction. The EPA’s website lists multiple ways that green homes can save the precious resource, from WaterSense-labeled faucets and toilets to high-efficiency showerheads.
    • Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can make the most dynamic contribution to green homes. Regularly-maintained Energy Star appliances, combined with home management practices like heating and cooling only areas that are in use via programmable thermostats can make a welcome dent in the monthly bills.

Together with the ongoing wallet relief that green homes provide their owners every month, changing over to ecologically championed household appliances and practices is an increasingly practical exercise. When it comes time to sell your Naperville area home, too, being able to provide those penny-pinched utility bills can make all the difference to cost-conscious prospects. For more ideas on ways you can increase the value and sales appeal of your own property, we hope you won’t hesitate to give us a call!