Getting ready to put your house on the market in 2017? Or are you just getting ready for spring in general? I can’t write this article any better…check out http://embracinghomemaking.net/2015/04/200-things-to-throw-away/.

Are you hosting for the holidays?  Not sure where to start? Running out of time? No worries!  If it’s calm you’re seeking let us help you get there. This quick guide to prepare for holiday guests will help relieve the stress of hosting and help you enjoy this special time with family and friends!

 

Guests should feel an expected welcome into your home as soon as they step foot through the front door. Keep overhead lights low inside the foyer and add a warm glow either through candles or a lamp sitting in an entry table or shelf. Find a fun, holiday welcome mat or floor rug to warm up the space. To also set a cozy feel, you can add usable seasonal accents like wool blankets or blanket scarves hanging from hooks or rolled up in baskets.

 

Make sure your house smells good! Clean the kitchen and bathrooms thoroughly using great smelling cleaning supplies. Vacuum the carpet and dust the furniture because dust actually smells. Take out the trash and if you have pets, clean out their cages and litter boxes. Add more candles throughout the house to create a warm, calm, and clean smelling space. Stick to one or two similar holiday scents or just a clean linen fragrance that will make your house smell fresh.

 

Besides the house smelling good, you should layer objects such as books, baskets, old trunks, crates, or foot stools under open tables or benches to give your living/family room a cozier feel. Add soft throw blankets to the couches or roll up into baskets for your guests to grab while they watch TV.

 

Lastly, when it’s time to head to bed, guests should feel comfortable in their space. Keep decor simple, but add a wreath or a touch of holiday decor to the guest bedroom and bathroom. Provide an empty closet and dresser. The bedding should have fresh, clean sheets and a couple of extra blankets and pillows left out to suit individual comfort levels. Stack big fluffy towels on the bed and in the bathroom. Set a basket full of essential toiletries and rolled up washcloths on the bathroom counter. You can also create warmth by adding candles, throw blankets, and even a cozy rug by the bed.

 

Bottom line…you set the tone, so if you want calm, be calm!  Relax, enjoy, and happy holidays.

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.

The day has finally arrived: you survived the recession by heading to grad school, you’ve been steadily working for a few years at XYZ Consulting Art History PR and Travel Blogging Firm (a nonprofit) to balance out your debt ratio, you’re in a committed relationship with your cat (so you think), and you’ve been roommate-free for two years and counting. Whew. It’s time to embrace that final mantle of adulthood by saying goodbye to your tiny rental/room in mom’s basement. Now, now, calm down—you know you’re ready! Let’s take a look at the number of factors to consider now that you’ve decided to adult.

First, the scary stuff: Consider your finances.
Buying a home is a great option if (1) your job is stable, (2) you don’t plan on moving soon (it’s the worst, anyway), and (3) rents are increasing. Take a look at your credit history and score, and figure out what available resources you can dedicate to a down payment and a monthly payment. The total amount you’ll need for a conventional loan is 20% of the home value plus closing costs. While this number may seem scary, there are multiple government programs and options for lower down payments. Typically, first-time homebuyers can put down 0-5%. Next, you’ll need to find a lender to pre-qualify you for a home loan at an affordable rate. Getting pre-approved for a loan will help expedite the closing process

Now the fun stuff: Finding the best fit. Looking for that perfect, two-bedroom downtown loft accessible to hiking trails, Trader Joe’s, and your favorite pub crawl will be a majorly fun timesuck. There are multiple online sites and apps to browse while commuting to work, being at work, coming home from work, and lying in bed before tucking your phone under the pillow. But before you jump online and start searching willy-nilly, decide what’s important to you. How far is your commute? How walkable is the community? How accessible are you to main roads and retail amenities? How many hipsters per square mile? How easy is it to find a bar? Are there Uber drivers always at ready? Is the neighborhood mostly families, older couples, young professionals, or a mixture? Narrow down your search to a specific geographic region in order to find what will fit you the best, as well as influence the outcome of your first major investment. It’s also important to remember that different kinds of homes have different expenses. For example, single-family homes don’t the same expenses for landscaping, HOA fees, and community amenities as townhomes and condos.

The dealmakers: Can I do this by myself? The short answer is no. I know, I know. You were raised on the internet, and therefore you can lifehack your way through any process. While this may be true when changing your timing belt or getting the best deal on a flatscreen TV, you’ll receive invaluable guidance and information by working with a licensed real estate agent. While the vast majority of inventory is accessible online with photos, video tours, and detailed information, agents specialize in specific market areas and have access to information about the homes and communities that you can’t find anywhere else. Additionally, their expertise is invaluable when touring a home. Licensed, experienced agents (read: not your friend’s friend’s brother or your goddaughter’s uncle) can look for potential issues and problems on house walkthroughs. While major issues are usually uncovered during inspections, an agent can save you a lot of heartache by offering their experienced-backed opinions before you make it to the inspection stage. If only Grey’s Anatomy had come with some kind of initial walkthrough…

So. Now you’ve found the house, you’ve selected an agent, and it’s time to submit your offer. An agent will be very useful—especially in competitive markets—in negotiating an appropriate price. The offer is put in writing (again, an agent will navigate you through this maze of paperwork), you’ll submit a “good faith” deposit, and you’ll finalize your purchase contract. Don’t panic! This is just the housing version of “You want to like, date seriously, like only me?” Yes, I want to date, like, only you.” It basically means that you’re committed, they’re committed.

Last steps: Closing. This is an entirely other blog post by itself, but never fear. With the right agent, it’s only a waiting game.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully become the kind of person who can read an entire article (with no GIFs or videos, mind you) about adulting without falling into a full-blown panic attack! While buying your first home may seem like a daunting task, with the right mindset and preparation, you’ll soon be moving your childhood paraphernalia from Mom and Dad’s into your new home and taking daily trips to IKEA—and don’t forget to bring the cat!

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.

Selling your Naperville area home during the holiday season may sound like a less than ideal game plan, but there are some advantages now present only at this time of year. It’s true that some extra effort may be called for, but it can be worth the endeavor: there are several factors that make showings at this time of year particularly promising.

The first advantage is the flip side of the greatest disadvantage: the slowdown in real estate activity we usually expect over the holidays. That relative scarcity of active prospects means fewer showings, so the number of times you’ll be called upon to put your area property in peak condition will be smaller. The other side of that disadvantage? The showings we do expect will be to particularly motivated buyers. If they are interrupting their own Christmas and New Year’s activities to go house hunting, they probably mean business. And it’s also likely that they are motivated by a timing deadline. This makes those showings especially promising.

Another positive aspect to selling your home at this time of year is how appealing the staging possibilities become—and with little extra effort. Your regular holiday decorations make the place festive and cheerful every year, anyway—usually little else will be needed to bring those enhancements into play for prospective buyers. Yuletide décor is automatically a kind of natural staging that brings out the cheeriest side of any home…and who doesn’t respond favorably to the scent of cookies in the oven or cider bubbling on the stove?

Along with those automatic holiday positives, owners selling their home in the western suburbs do need to be careful to avoid some built-in potential downsides. Right now the sun stays lower—even at noon—than at other times of the year, so it’s important to make the most of the light that is available. Keep rooms well-lit and window drapes pulled back to allow as much sunlight as possible. Even during daylight hours, most rooms show their best with all lamps and ceiling fixtures turned on. Fireplaces are sought-after features—and this is the best time of year to make the most of yours by keeping a cheery fire blazing.

When you are selling your home during the holiday season you should also make the effort to keep your own schedule as flexible as you can—even more so than would ordinarily be called for. Potential buyers will have their own holiday obligations to attend to, and are often forced to jam showings into tight spaces. It can be worth it, though, when you keep in mind that holiday home shoppers are motivated prospects.

If this December and January look like opportune times to be selling your own home in town, it’s not too late to give me a call. I will be active throughout the season, helping area prospects find the home of their dreams—the home they will be making holiday memories in for many years to come!

Let us put a “Sale Agreed®” on your new home this holiday season!

You’ve decided to sell your house. You begin to interview potential real estate agents to help you through the process. You need someone you trust enough to:

Set the market value on possibly the largest asset your family owns (your home)
Set the time schedule for the successful liquidation of that asset
Set the fee for the services required to liquidate that asset
An agent must be concerned first and foremost about you and your family in order to garner that degree of trust. Make sure this is the case.

Be careful if the agent you are interviewing begins the interview by:

Bragging about their success
Bragging about their company’s success
An agent’s success and the success of their company can be important considerations when deciding on the right real estate professional to represent you in the sale of the house. However, you first need to know they care about what you need and what you expect from the sale. If the agent is not interested in first establishing your needs, how successful they may seem is much less important.

Look for someone with the ‘heart of a teacher’ who comes in prepared well enough to explain the current real estate market and patient enough to take the time to show how it may impact the sale of your home.

Not someone only interested in trying to sell you on how great they are.

You have many agents from which to choose. Pick someone who truly cares.

Now that the housing market has stabilized, more and more homeowners are considering moving up to their dream home. With interest rates still near 4% and home values on the rise, now may be a great time to make a move.

Sellers should realize that waiting while mortgage rates are increasing probably doesn’t make sense. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain budget for your monthly housing costs.

Here is a chart detailing this point:

Buyer's Purchasing Power | Keeping Current Matters

With each quarter percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5%, (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard earned money.

Historically low mortgage interest rates have been a lifeline for many town first time homebuyers in recent years, keeping home ownership within reach for many who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to make the leap. For them, and for all the other than first time area homebuyers, the fact that home values have continued to rise has been an added boon.

But, as just about every mortgage industry expert will tell you, the gig is almost up for those rock bottom rates. Yet the question for many first time homebuyers remains: is it time to buy or not?

It’s a good time to take a hard look a few of the known facts—

According to web giant Zillow, as of Q1 2015, potential home buyers should expect to spend about 15% of their income on a mortgage for an average home in the U.S. When you compare this with the historical averages, it makes today’s rates temptingly low: the typical percentage has been closer to 21%. In terms of dollars spent monthly, that’s a big (and terrific) difference!

At the same time, the historical average has a typical renter shelling out 24% of income. Today, that’s closer to 30%…making first time homeownership that much more inviting.

Taken together, Zillow’s new calculations definitely appear to make finding a home to buy the more affordable option. On the other hand, it’s also true that a number of factors work against first time homebuyers—in Naperville and nationwide. College debt, for one, is far more of an obstacle than it used to be.  And the other side of those all-time high monthly rents in many places are making it that much harder for would-be first time homebuyers to save for a down payment.  But with the widespread phenomenon of growth in rents outpacing growth in home values, the rental affordability problem isn’t likely to improve any time soon. With mortgage rates likely to be on the increase as early as this fall, the long term outlook may not grow rosier as time passes. The implied takeaway: strike now while the iron is hot!

Whether this real estate foray is your first or tenth, if you’ve been considering taking advantage of this summer’s Naperville home buying bargains, contact me today for an introduction to a qualified mortgage broker—and to discuss whether this might not just be the perfect time to start your search!