Saturday, January 3, 2009

Free Ice Cream at this Weekend's Open House!

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. There's even a coupon for a free ice cream cone from the Husky Deli! Other coupons include $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

This Saturday and Sunday from 1-4PM, I will be holding open a mid-century view home in the Lincoln Park area. The address for this 3 bedroom, 1.75 bath home is 6733 48th Av SW and is listed by my Prudential colleagues George Butterfield and Chris Koelling for $600,000.

This 1840 sq. ft. home is solidly built, but is in need of updates. If you want a view home awaiting your personal stamp, this may be the place for you. Come by and take a look.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Maximize Your Home-Search Efforts

Are you getting an itch to start looking for a new home? I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear me say it's a good time, but what should be your first step?

If your time is valuable to you, the very first thing you need to do is talk to a lender to get pre-approved. Why? Because if you don't have a true picture of what you can afford, you are likely to waste your time looking at places you really can't afford.

So, where do you find the right lender? I strongly recommend that you talk to more than one. There are two types of loan officers, bankers and brokers. Bankers work for (no surprise here) banks or other lending institutions. Brokers do not normally work for just one institution. Instead, they have ties with several lenders and will shop around to find you a loan program that best suits your particular needs.

You can start your search for a lender by going to your current bank or credit union, if you are generally pleased with their service and products. Of course, Realtors are a good source for referrals because we work with lenders all the time and can tell you which ones have served us well in the past. Call me and I will give you names and numbers for several reputable, reliable lenders.

You can also ask friends and relatives for referrals, especially if they have recently purchased a home themselves.

When you contact a lender, specify that you want to be pre-approved, not just pre-qualified. Pre-qualification merely gives you a rough idea of the amount for which you may qualify. Pre-approval indicates that the lender has verified your income/assets, employment and credit and is prepared to underwrite your loan. Any offer you write on a home will require a letter of pre-approval from a lender, so you may as well get this step out of the way before you even begin your search. Pre-approval is generally quick and easy, and the lender will tell you exactly what information he needs from you in order complete the process.

Need more information about how to search for your new home? Give me a call for a no-pressure, no-hassle consultation. 206-708-9800.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Assessing your credit report

The following is reprinted from REALTORmag, an online publication from the National Association of Realtors.

"Unfortunately for borrowers, most credit reports contain inaccurate information. A June 2004 study performed by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy group, showed that 23 percent of consumers had mistakes on their credit reports serious enough to result in the denial of credit. All told, an amazing 79 percent of consumers had some mistake.

Fortunately, consumers' rights are protected under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA gives consumers the ability to correct, update, amend, and take action regarding the contents of a credit report. It also guarantees consumers accuracy, fairness, and privacy in their credit reports.

The Act protects consumers only if they take action, however. Credit bureaus report the information they are given by creditors; they don't verify it. If an error occurs, the burden of discovering and correcting it rests on the consumer. Here's what you should do before applying for a mortgage to make sure your credit reports are accurate.

FIND OUT WHAT'S IN YOUR FILE. Every U.S. consumer is now entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The easiest (and free) way to get a copy of your report is to go to the government-mandated Web site www.annualcreditreport.com. Also note that if consumers are denied a mortgage or other credit, the lender must tell them whether information in their credit report played a role in the denial.

DISPUTE INACCURATE INFORMATION. If you determine that something is incorrect on a credit report, the next step is to correct the inaccuracy. If consumers obtained their credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com, they can dispute errors online. Another option is to write a letter to all three credit bureaus detailing the dispute. (Some states require one agency to notify the other two, but why risk it?) The letter should include documentation such as a cancelled check showing payment, a discharge from bankruptcy, or the like. Remember, banks typically use the middle of the three credit scores when assessing a loan application. If one report showing a high score is correct but the other two are not, the buyers may still be denied credit or forced into less-favorable terms.

DISPUTE INACCURATE ITEMS AT THE SOURCE. Consumers will also want to contact the credit card company or other source of the inaccurate information. For example, if a payment is credited incorrectly, it may be easier to resolve the error by contacting the credit company than a collection agency.

EXCISE OUTDATED INFORMATION. By law, credit bureaus are supposed to remove information pertaining to the credit score—such as a late payment or collection—that is more than seven years old. Neutral information such as employment history does not have to be removed since it does not affect credit scores. Consumers should ensure that the credit bureau removes older information since it can still negatively affect a credit score.

PROTECT CREDIT IDENTITY. The Fair Credit Reporting Act makes it a federal crime to knowingly and willfully obtain a person's credit report without consent or under false pretenses. If consumers feel that their credit has been compromised, they can request that a credit agency put a “fraud alert” on their account. Consumers can take an even more aggressive step to protect their credit from identity thieves by paying credit bureaus to put a security freeze on their credit. Consumers can temporarily lift the freeze when they apply for a mortgage."

3 Additional Tips for those with truly bad credit:

1. Get your spending under control.

2. For one or two late payments, ask the lender to re-age the loan.

3. Give it time. Even after a foreclosure, a credit score can be repaired within three years. A foreclosure should be removed from the record after seven years and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy after 10 years.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Open House today--Free gift bags!

Are you suffering the effects of cabin fever? Here's an opportunity to get out and about. This afternoon from 1-4, I will be holding open new construction townhomes on Beacon Hill. There are 8 units (2 are already sold), each with a totally unique floor plan. The address of the model unit is 3038 Beacon Av S. Each unit has 2 bedrooms, 2.25 baths and approximately 1200 square feet. Four units have attached garages, while the other four have rooftop decks. List price for each townhome is $439,000.

All visitors to my Open will receive a free gift bag filled with over $1000 in home-related service coupons for everything from carpet cleaning to ice cream cones!