Category: Credit Score

The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most challenging times of our lives. A worldwide pandemic, a recession causing historic unemployment, and a level of social unrest perhaps never seen before have all changed the way we live. Only the real estate market seems to be unaffected, as a new forecast projects there may be more homes purchased this year than last year.

As we come to the end of this tumultuous year, we’re preparing for perhaps the most contentious presidential election of the century. Today, it’s important to look at the impact past presidential election years have had on the real estate market.

Is there a drop-off in home sales during a presidential election year?
BTIG, a research and analysis company, looked at new home sales from 1963 through 2019 in their report titled One House, Two House, Red House, Blue House. They noted that in non-presidential years, there is a -9.8% decrease in November compared to October. This is the normal seasonality of the market, with a slowdown in activity that’s usually seen in fall and winter.

However, it also revealed that in presidential election years, the typical drop increases to -15%. The report explains why:

“This may indicate that potential homebuyers may become more cautious in the face of national election uncertainty.”

Are those sales lost forever?
No. BTIG determined:

“This caution is temporary, and ultimately results in deferred sales, as the economy, jobs, interest rates and consumer confidence all have far more meaningful roles in the home purchase decision than a Presidential election result in the months that follow.”

In a separate study done by Meyers Research & Zonda, Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, agrees that those purchases are just delayed until after the election:

“History suggests that the slowdown is largely concentrated in the month of November. In fact, the year after a presidential election is the best of the four-year cycle. This suggests that demand for new housing is not lost because of election uncertainty, rather it gets pushed out to the following year.”

Will it matter who is elected?
To some degree, but not in the overall number of home sales. As mentioned above, consumer confidence plays a significant role in a family’s desire to buy a home. How may consumer confidence impact the housing market post-election? The BTIG report covered that as well:

“A change in administration might benefit trailing blue county housing dynamics. The re-election of President Trump could continue to propel red county outperformance.”

Again, overall sales should not be impacted in a significant way.

Bottom Line
If mortgage rates remain near all-time lows, the economy continues to recover, and unemployment continues to decrease, the real estate market should remain strong up to and past the election.

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer. Depending on where you live, median income, median rents, and home prices all vary. So, we set out to find out how long it would take to save for a down payment in each state.

Using data from HUD, Census and Apartment List, we determined how long it would take, nationwide, for a first-time buyer to save enough money for a down payment on their dream home. There is a long-standing ‘rule’ that a household should not pay more than 28% of their income on their monthly housing expense.

By determining the percentage of income spent renting in each state, and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, we were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save enough money to buy a home of their own.

According to the data, residents in Kansas can save for a down payment the quickest, doing so in just over 1 year (1.12). Below is a map that was created using the data for each state:

How Quickly Can You Save Your Down Payment? | Keeping Current Matters

What if you only needed to save 3%?

What if you were able to take advantage of one of Freddie Mac’s or Fannie Mae’s 3%-down programs? Suddenly, saving for a down payment no longer takes 2 to 5 years, but becomes possible in less than a year in most states, as shown on the map below.

How Quickly Can You Save Your Down Payment? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you have just begun to save for a down payment or have been saving for years, you may be closer to your dream home than you think! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you evaluate your ability to buy today. Call us!

Whether it is with the goal of saving money or for the satisfaction of living in the fruits of one’s labors, it has become increasingly popular for homeowners to take on home renovation projects themselves. One of the most common types of do-it-yourself projects is a bathroom remodel. Not only can bathroom remodels help to improve your overall quality of life, but they can also dramatically increase the value of your home if you ever decide to sell.


However, there are a number of potentially complicated or dangerous parts of every bathroom renovation, such as electrical and plumbing work, that you should be aware of before attempting the project. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are tackling a bathroom renovation for the first time so that your project can be quick, easy, and fun.


Plan out the Entire Project Beforehand


As with any kind of renovation, the first thing you need to do is plan out the scope of the entire project. The more you prepare, the fewer unexpected costs you will have to endure down the road. Start by listing all the things you would like to do to your bathroom. Don’t factor in cost at this point — instead, just list them all. You may want to include things like a walk in shower, a clawfoot tub, a heated floor, a double sink, and so forth.


Next, organize the list in order of desire — put your must-haves at the top, all the way down to negligible or “bonus” projects. Then, it is time to do some research online. Find the average costs of each type of project and put the numbers next to each line on your list. Finally, compare these costs to your total budget. This way, you can make sure that you have enough money for the most important projects, allowing for extras if you happen to come in under budget.


However, Remember to Have Fun


Even though it is tempting to get bogged down in the minutia of planning and money management, don’t let yourself forget to have fun. A bathroom remodel is a great way to boost your bathroom’s appeal, both for yourself and for potential buyers if you ever decide to sell your home. For instance, a renovated bathroom can provide you with a 40 to 80 percent return on investment, depending on the current state of the real estate market.


Think About Ways to Come in Under Budget


It is common for do-it-yourself projects to end up going over budget, but there are a few things you can do that will keep your costs lower. First, if you need to buy power tools for your renovation, you may want to try borrowing them from a handy friend or family member. If you end up having to buy them after all, look at previously used tools to save money. Next, while part of the reason you may want to be doing the project yourself is to save on the cost of a professional, in certain cases, a professional can actually save you money, such as with walls damaged by water. Furthermore, certain plumbing and electrical projects can be dangerous for you to attempt on your own — always hire a professional contractor in those cases.


When you are renovating your bathroom, remember to consider all the possible angles that will need to be covered, both from the financial and design sides of the process. Doing so will allow you to relax and have fun with the project.


Photo Credit: Pexels

Thank you to guest writer, Erin Reynolds

CoreLogic broke down appreciation even further into four price ranges, giving us a more detailed view than if we had simply looked at the year-over-year increases in national median home price.

The chart below shows the four price ranges from the report, as well as each one’s year-over-year growth from February 2017 to February 2018 (the latest data available).

How Much Has Your Home Increased in Value Over the Last Year? | Keeping Current Matters

It is important to pay attention to how prices are changing in your local market. The location of your home is not the only factor that determines how much your home has appreciated over the course of the last year.

Lower-priced homes have appreciated at greater rates than homes at the upper ends of the spectrum due to demand from first-time home buyers and baby boomers looking to downsize.

Bottom Line

If you are planning to list your home for sale in today’s market, find a local agent who can explain exactly what’s going on in your area and your price range. Like us!

Naperville houses for saleThere’s always the question out there on deciding whether you should be renting or buying a home. With every large decision, there are definitely pros and cons on each side of the situation. Here are some ways where you could be at a great place to purchase a home or just rent one for now.

Do you travel a lot? If you answered “yes” here, renting might be the right option for you. When it comes to taking care of a home and all of the issues that may arise, being around for those things can be difficult if you’re traveling quite a bit.

Are you planning on staying in your current location for more than 10 years? If you’re planning on staying in the current location you’re in for another 10 years or more, buying might be the right option for you. Having a long-term plan in place for where you want to end up could mean that buying is the right situation for you.

What’s your credit like? If you have credit that isn’t as great as it should be currently, both renting and purchasing a home will be difficult for you. Many times, landlords do require a credit check to see what your payment history looks like so they can determine if you’re a good fit to live there. Additionally, finding a mortgage is difficult with a poor credit score too.

If you’re looking for more information on Naperville houses for sale, turn to the professionals at today.

4 Reasons Why You’re Not Too Young to Buy a Home

If you’re in your 20s and still paying off student loans, buying a house might seem like an unreasonable or even crazy idea. But with rents on the rise, more and more young people are trading in their leases for mortgage agreements. In fact, Millennials aged 18 to 34 have accounted for the largest group of homebuyers for the past three years. Here are four reasons why you should join them.


Owning Can Grow Your Savings

You don’t have to hand over all the money for your new home at once. If you’re looking to buy a $140,000 home, a 15% down payment comes out to $21,000. That’s a fair chunk of change, and it might not feel like savings. But over the long run, your mortgage payments could be turn out to be much cheaper than your monthly rent. Plus, with a fixed-rate mortgage, you can count on stability. Your rent won’t go up, because you won’t be paying rent.


You’ll Gain Equity

Even if your mortgage payments aren’t lower than your rent, at least you’re getting something back: equity in your home. With each payment you make, you own a little more of your home — which is money that will come back to you if you ever sell. You can also borrow against your home equity, which can come in handy if you need to finance a large purchase.


You’re Not Trapped

One advantage of renting is that you can change your plans relatively quickly and painlessly. Bad breakup? Sudden career change? Renters only have to wait out their lease — or break it — to make a change. To many habitual renters, ownership looks like a ball-and-chain. But it doesn’t have to be. You can always sell — and if you sell for a profit after three years, you can avoid paying a capital gains tax. No, it’s not a month-to-month lease, but if you know you’ll be living in your current area for over three years, ownership can be a smart (and flexible) decision.


You Don’t Have Kids (Probably)

Millennials are waiting longer to get married than any other generation in history, and similarly, many are waiting even longer to have children. In terms of home buying, this is a very good thing. When you have kids, your ability to build up your savings account is impeded — those babies aren’t cheap. Having already made the large purchase, and having already started reaping the monthly savings benefits, can be a financial advantage if and when you do decide to grow your family.



Sam Radbil is a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO, an online apartment marketplace. ABODO apartments was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin.



There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s. As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained this month in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”:

While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac,explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity. Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.23% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

Although a single late payment can lower your credit score—since payment history is 35 percent of your FICO credit score—how much it affects your score will depend on a lot of different factors. For example, making a payment one day late on a low-limit department store credit card may not be as detrimental to your credit as being 60 days overdue on your mortgage. Some of the factors that will determine the impact on your score include the type of account that it is, how late the payment is, if you’ve had other late payments, and what your credit score currently is. The important thing is to make the payment and get your account back in good standing, which you’ve done. Being late is one thing, but not making the payment at all is another thing altogether. Generally, if the late payment is your only late payment in the last several years, you shouldn’t worry too much about it. Also, keep in mind that a lender may choose to overlook a single late payment if the rest of your credit is very good. In the end, it’s not always about your credit score, but rather your creditworthiness in a lender’s eyes.


© Left Field Media

If you’re a normal millennial, you’ve heard terms like “refinancing” and “taxable annuities” and “lender pre-approval” thrown around in adult conversation at networking events and breakroom lunches, and for the most part you nod your head and stare into your GMO-free organic vegan salad to avoid saying something you don’t really know anything about. My dear aspiring homeowner, today we’ll learn about what getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan means, and you’ll be one-step closer to being a grown-up!


Let’s go back to basics. Buying a house is usually the largest purchase you’ll ever make. Most of us don’t have $200,000 lying around in bank accounts or under mattresses, and unless you have a wealthy Victorian benefactor or recently deceased prosperous great-aunt, you have to borrow the money from a bank or credit union when you purchase a home. Banks, as you know, won’t just give anyone on the street a pile of cash. They have carefully vetted risk models to rate your loan-worthy status based on credit history, credit score, income, assetss–basically whatever they can think of to judge you by so that they can entrust you with their money and gauge the probability of getting their money back from you.


Before you start shopping for your home, you should go to a bank, credit union, or online lender and submit an application for pre-approval. Typically, they’ll ask for proof of income (pay stubs, two years’ of W-2s, two federal tax returns, and two months of bank statements). They’ll also pull your credit report, verify employment, and make copies of your driver’s license and social security card. But it sounds so serious and scary, you say! Don’t be worried—this is standard procedure for loan pre-approval, and every homebuyer does this. You should only be worried if the lender ask for your phone number and if you’d like to go salsa dancing on Friday.


You can discuss loan options and budgeting, interest rates, and most importantly, you’ll figure out the maximum you can borrow. This will help you determine what your house-shopping budget is, which will direct your house-hunting efforts. Sorry McMansion, but a two-bedroom townhome it is! Once you’ve submitted your application and all necessary documents for verification, the lender will provide you with a letter showing how much they’ve approved for lending and the basic terms. Remember, preapproval isn’t necessarily a loan commitment, but definitely speeds up the underwriting and loan approval process once you’ve submitted an accepted offer on your dream house.


Why even go through the hassle of pre-approval if you have do it later for a loan anyway? Simply, it saves you time in the long run. Most owners and their agents don’t accept offers unless you’re preapproved, and it’s not just because they like to be judgy. For you, it’s an important step in finding an accurate and affordable price range for targeting your search. For sellers and agents, it’s a clear sign that you’re a credible buyer. Having a pre-approval letter can make the difference between two similar offers. It will definitely label you as someone who knows what terms like “air pocket stock” and “marquee asset” mean in conversation. You know, grown-up talk.


If, for some reason, you can’t get pre-approved for a loan right away, there are several steps you can take to improve your credit score and help bump you into a lower-risk category for lenders, which we will learn about in a different post. Remember, in the house hunting game, it pays to be prepared—not only for your dream house, but for any water cooler conversations involving grownups.

TransUnion recently released the results of a new study titled The Bubble, the Burst and Now – What Happened to the Consumer? The study revealed that 1.5 million homeowners that were negatively impacted by the housing crisis could re-enter the housing market in the next three years.

TransUnion defined “negatively impacted” as…

“…those who were 60+ days past due on a mortgage loan, lost their mortgage through foreclosure, short sale or other non-satisfactory closure, or had a mortgage loan modification between the Bubble and Burst.”

Other interesting findings in the study:

  • During the mortgage bubble in 2006, 78 million consumers, or 43% of credit-active consumers in the U.S., had a mortgage
  • More than 8% of these consumers were “impacted”
  • 5 Million consumers will again be eligible for a mortgage in the next four years

Here are the numbers of consumers who will meet mortgage guidelines over the next four years:

Boomerang Buyers Re-Entering The Market | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are a family that experienced the impact of the last housing crisis, now may be the right time to again buy your own home.

Thank you to Keeping Current Matters for this article.