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December 2014     

What does FICO have to do with my Home Loan?

Your FICO score is the yardstick by which most lenders measure your credit worthiness. The major credit bureaus keep track of loans that you have taken out in the past and how well you managed this debt. A high FICO score indicates that you have been responsible with the credit extended to you and will reflect positively on applications that you submit, while a lower score indicates that you have had credit issues in the past.

Obtaining a copy of your credit score is an important early step in the purchase of your next home. It is typically recommended that you obtain a copy of your report 6 months before actually applying for a mortgage in order to attempt to clear up any discrepancies that you find. The last thing you want to hear during the home buying process is that you need to put your homeownership dreams on hold because of errors on your credit report.

The elements of your credit history that make up the report are as follows: Past payment history - 35 percent, credit use - 30 percent, credit history - 15 percent, types of credit - 10 percent, and inquiries – 10 percent. If you find any discrepancies you should immediately contact your creditor to clear up the issue so that a low credit score does not interfere with your home loan.

In the past the only way to receive your credit report was to order, and pay, for a report from one of the major credit bureaus. However, thanks to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act you are able to order one free copy of your credit report each year. To order your free credit report you simply need to visit the following website: Annual Credit Report.

Speeding up your Home Inspection

It is standard practice now for a home to go through an inspection prior to the sale. Informed buyers want the assurance that the home they are moving into is not going to turn into a “money pit” six months down the line. Home inspections also give the sellers of the home an opportunity to repair problems beforehand rather than giving concessions at the bargaining table. Here are some tips that will ensure your home inspection proceeds quickly and smoothly:

  • Make sure gas, water and electricity are turned on, and gas pilot lights are burning.
  • Replace any burned-out light bulbs.
  • Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries if needed.
  • Move any wood, stored items, or debris away from the foundation.
  • Unlock or remove locks from any items the inspector must access.
  • Trim back tree limbs from the roof and shrubs from the house to allow access.
  • Repair or replace broken, damaged or missing items.
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Does your Home have Curb Appeal?

First impressions make a difference, particularly when it comes to your home. Curb appeal is the visual impression that your home makes to anyone viewing it from the street. If your home has curb appeal it will stand out from the rest and usually results in more money when you decide to sell.

Curb appeal can be as complicated as building a new entryway or as easy as painting your mailbox. The following list contains some quick fixes that will have your home creating a great first impression in no time at all.

  • Windows: Clean windows sparkle and help show off your beautiful home.
  • Window Coverings: How do your curtains and blinds look from the outside? Are your windows cluttered with knickknacks and stickers? Neaten up the insides of your home’s window areas that are visible from the curb.
  • Painting: Walk around your home and keep an eye out for peeling, flaking, or faded paint. If found, it is probably a good time to paint. Neutral colors are a good bet as they appeal to a wider group of people.
  • Don’t forget the mailboxes: Be sure it is painted or polished. All numbers should be clean and easy to read.
  • Clutter: Remove anything that is cluttering the front area. Locate trash bins in the back yard or garage so that they are not visible.

Existing-Home Sales Rise in October

Existing-home sales rose in October for the second straight month and are now above year-over-year levels for the first time in a year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million in October from an upwardly-revised 5.18 million in September. Sales are at their highest annual pace since September 2013 (also 5.26 million) and are now above year-over-year levels (2.5 percent from last October) for the first time since last October.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market this year has been a tale of two halves. "Sales activity in October reached its highest annual pace of the year as buyers continue to be encouraged by interest rates at lows not seen since last summer, improving levels of inventory and stabilizing price growth," he said. "Furthermore, the job market has shown continued strength in the past six months. This bodes well for solid demand to close out the year and the likelihood of additional months of year-over-year sales increases."

Total housing inventory at the end of October fell 2.6 percent to 2.22 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace – the lowest since March (also 5.1 months). Unsold inventory is now 5.2 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.11 million existing homes available for sale.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage in October dropped to 4.03 percent, its lowest level since June 2013 (4.07 percent), and down from 4.16 percent in September.

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