4 Creative Ways To Save For A Down Payment

Your down payment is a huge part of determining your overall home budget. The more you’ve saved for a down payment, the easier your house hunt will be. Here are a few creative ways to save for a down payment:

  • Reduce current expenses — even just temporarily. If you must drop Starbucks for a few months, it’ll taste even better when you get it back. Try checking on all those subscriptions, too: Netflix, Spotify, Blue Apron, Stitch Fix, Audible… they stack up.
  • Sell any possessions that you don’t use much anymore. Try Craigslist or Facebook marketplace or look for local second-hand stores that will pay. Bonus: This doubles as a money saving tip and a house cleaning tip.
    Start a side hustle. Be it selling scarves at a craft fair or offering graphic design services online, monetizing your skills can bring in some extra cash. Not sure what skills to monetize? Thanks to the growing “gig economy,” business like Uber Eats and TaskRabbit are easy to get into.
  • Let your money earn more money. Try a high-yield bank account, certificate or deposit, or another investment. Apps like Acorns make it easy for beginners to invest even small amounts to keep that money growing.

This information was provided by one of our preferred vendors, Supreme Lending. Thank you, Cale Iorg, Senior Loan Officer NMLS# 1121662, for this information.

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Amazon To Open Over 250 New Distributions Facilities Of Various Sizes Across The Country In 2021

Online retailer Amazon has kicked off yet another round of large-scale recruitment, with the aim of increasing its fulfillment and transportation headcount by 125,000.

The new hiring initiative unveiled on Tuesday is national in scope, though the Seattle-based company is putting special emphasis on 18 states where it’s investing billions in new logistics hubs.

The push is fueled by a relentless, two-year battle to expand its logistics network across the United States that is still going strong. Amazon said Tuesday that during 2021 it has opened over 250 new fulfillment centers, sorting centers, regional air hubs and delivery stations across the country. In September alone, it plans to open “over 100” more locations, provided that the company can muster up the staff to do it.

The task is a tall order. Amazon is up against “extensive labor shortages” in every region of the United States, according to a Sept. 8 report from the Federal Reserve, and has also been accused of difficult working environments in some areas, which could make it harder to entice new employees. In response, the company has offered higher starting wages, benefits that begin on the first day of work, and sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000.

About half the open jobs appear to be in the West. Amazon hopes to hire 7,500 workers in Arizona, about 4,500 in Washington and a whopping 26,000 in California. News reports Tuesday indicate that the company also plans to hire about 2,700 in Colorado, though the official statement cited was not available to CoStar News.

To the South, Amazon is focusing on Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Meanwhile, in the Midwest, Amazon’s attentions will center on four states that form a long, heavily industrialized corridor at the base of the Great Lakes: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Finally, on the East Coast, Amazon is doubling down on Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced that it planned to hire another 40,000 white-collar and tech workers. If both hiring initiatives are successful, its total workforce will grow by about 17.4%, from 950,000 at its last earnings report in late July to about 1.1 million.

Such rapid expansion is not unprecedented. After the arrival of the pandemic in early 2020, Amazon’s already intense campaign went into high gear as the company sought to make the most of a newly captive audience: millions of quarantined consumers who turned to the internet for basic goods and entertainment. By the end of 2020, the company increased its industrial footprint by over 100 million square feet and nearly doubled its workforce, from 500,000 to 950,000.

Thank you Costar.com for this article. For the whole article, Click Here.

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Could Self Storage and Open Air Residential Be The Saving Grace For Failing Malls?

Landlord Urban Edge Also Considers Industrial, Residential Additions to Retail Sites

Urban Edge Properties revealed more details about diversifying its malls and shopping centers, adding uses such as self-storage and industrial, advancing a national discussion in retail real estate as landlords try to evolve to compete with online shopping.

The Manhattan-based real estate investment trust, which owns 76 properties with 15.1 million square feet of retail space mainly in the greater New York region, drilled down on its redevelopment of properties in North Jersey and in Yonkers, New York, in a presentation for investors.

In one example, Urban Edge said it plans to “de-mall” the interior space at its Hudson Mall in Jersey City, New Jersey. As part of that project, the REIT said it will be adding “a mix of retailers and industrial or self-storage uses” at that 618,000-square-foot property.

Urban Edge is one of many mall landlords and shopping center owners diversifying the types of tenants at its properties. Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust is adding residential units to many of its malls across the country. And Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is slated to bring office and multifamily housing to the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey.

Brick-and-mortar retail was struggling even before the pandemic, because of e-commerce’s rise, and that trend was exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. So landlords are seeking new ways to fill vacancies left by the flood of retailers that didn’t survive COVID-19, in some cases looking for nontraditional retail tenants to drive foot traffic or even convert or totally raze malls for new uses, such as logistics.

Pipeline Advances

Urban Edge has previously disclosed some of its redevelopment plans for the Hudson Mall as well as a few other properties, such as Bergen Town Center in Paramus. But in a presentation this month, it updated investors on those projects and others, providing more information about the planned changes.

Urban Edge reported that its “largest pipeline projects are advancing,” adding that its “portfolio offers numerous densification opportunities, which benefits from the flexible format of shopping centers and the fact that 75% of our land consists of parking lots.”

A map depicts the layout of the Hudson Mall, which Urban Edge Properties says it plans to “de-mall” and add “a mix of retailers and industrial or self-storage uses.” The blue space is available; the white space is occupied. (Urban Edge Properties)

The opportunities to densify shopping centers and malls include adding not only storage, residential and industrial uses, but medical, according to Urban Edge.

Self-storage is a less common new use for retail space, compared to multifamily and healthcare, and Urban Edge is looking to add it beyond just the Hudson Mall. The landlord is spending $4.1 million to repurpose 82,000 square feet of unused basement space into an Extra Space self-storage facility at The Plaza at Woodbridge in New Jersey. And it is looking to add a 100,000-square-foot Cube Smart self-storage facility on excess land at Tonnelle Commons in North Bergen, New Jersey, a $10.5 million project.

Urban Edge didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Monday, so its precise plans for “de-malling” the Hudson Mall and adding retailers, industrial and self-storage were unclear.

But because of the difficulties some shopping center and mall landlords have faced, in some cases they have totally moved them away from retail use, said Chuck Lanyard, president of The Goldstein Group, a Paramus-based brokerage that specializes in retail.

Enter Self-Storage

It’s unusual to see mall space repurposed for self-storage, according to Lanyard, but it makes sense. Self-storage is a growing commercial real estate use, and malls and shopping centers have the kind of air conditioning and climate control already in place that self-storage facilities require, he said. And self-storage especially makes sense for vacant land at a shopping center or underutilized space, such as a basement, the route that Urban Edge is taking in Woodbridge and at Tonnelle Commons, according to Lanyard.

“Shopping centers that very often would land-bank extra land thinking they may grow when they built 20 or 30 years ago now have an opportunity to put up self-storage facilities that may pay very good money for the land leases,” Lanyard said. “And many self-storage companies … prefer to buy the property rather than lease.”

In Bergen Town Center, Urban Edge said it plans to “create a more dynamic open-air retail experience: pursue options for residential, office and other uses on property, improve [the] outdoor experience with expanded walkways, new seating and dining options and improve [the] tenant mix.”

At Yonkers Gateway Center, the REIT said it will craft a master plan to retenant the front parcel and add residential to the back of the property.

Urban Edge reported it has $146 million of active redevelopment projects and a $1 billion redevelopment pipeline.

Last month, when Urban Edge hosted what was apparently its first quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts, officials were bullish on shopping centers that had open-air formats. In its recent investor presentation, the REIT said those formats are “well positioned for consumers to access essential goods and services” and that such locations facilitate last-mile delivery and provide easy buy-online-pickup-in-store and curbside pickup capabilities.

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Multi-Family Lending Is Set To Hit A New Record Of Over $400 Billion In 2021

Based on a new forecast by the Mortgage Bankers Association, commercial and multifamily mortgage bankers are expected to close $578 billion of loans backed by income-producing properties in 2021, a 31 percent increase from 2020’s volume of $442 billion in the U.S.

Total multifamily lending alone, which includes some loans made by small and midsize banks not captured in the overall total, is forecast to rise to $409 billion in 2021 – a new record and a 13 percent increase from last year’s total of $360 billion. MBA anticipates additional increases in lending volumes in 2022, with activity rising to $597 billion in commercial/multifamily mortgage bankers originations and $421 billion in total multifamily lending.

“Commercial and multifamily real estate markets are moving past the pain that the COVID-19 pandemic caused in 2020,” said Jamie Woodwell, MBA’s Vice President for Commercial Real Estate Research. “There remain significant differences by property type, but incomes have rebounded strongly and investor interest in real estate and real estate finance is robust. The result is strong property appreciation and increased transaction activity, both of which is fueling financings.” Jamie Woodwell

Woodwell added, “MBA’s forecast anticipates the economic rebound to continue this year and next, with real estate benefiting both from a rebound from last year’s lows, and from broader economic growth. There remains uncertainty about the impact of new strains of the virus in the fall, but even in a negative scenario – which we don’t expect — it is hard to imagine the real estate market having to experience anything like the widespread closures of last year.”

Thank you to www.worldpropertyjournal.com for this article. For the whole article, Click Here.

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Atlanta Was The Leading Metro Destination For International Capital For Multi-Family In H1 By A Wide Margin

According to CBRE, international investors bought $3.2 billion of U.S. multifamily assets in H1 2021 – 6.7% below the comparable period in 2020 – amid COVID-related travel restrictions, declining cap rates and a competitive bidding environment.

CBRE further reports international capital accounted for a modest 3.6% of all U.S. multifamily investment in H1 2021–below the 2015-2020 average of 6.7%.

COVID-related restrictions on travel, declining cap rates and a competitive bidding environment were headwinds to international investment in H1 2021. In addition, the under-performance of urban assets made them less appealing to international capital. Conversely, low hedging costs helped make offshore capital more competitive.

Canada was the lead country source for U.S. inbound multifamily capital, with 33.3% of the H1 2021 total. Saudi Arabia was the second-largest capital source, with 29.3% of the international volume. Olayan Group, a Saudi Arabian investment management firm, partnered with Morgan Properties on the Star Real Estate Ventures portfolio acquisition of 50 properties reportedly valued at $1.75 billion. Switzerland, Bahrain, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Sweden were the other leading country sources of U.S. inbound multifamily capital.

Investment managers accounted for 58% of total inbound capital in H1–due largely to the Morgan/Olayan JV portfolio acquisition–followed by developers/owners at 15.5%. Pension funds represented only 4.6% of the total, a much smaller share than usual.

Atlanta was the leading metro destination for international capital in H1 by a wide margin, followed by Dallas/Ft. Worth, Phoenix, Baltimore, Orlando, Tampa, Miami/South Florida, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis and Portland. Offshore capital in these 10 markets together comprised 69.5% of total international multifamily volume.

Mid-/high-rise assets accounted for only 26% of H1 investment, half of the 2011-2020 average of 52.8%. This reflects the challenges faced by urban multifamily amid the COVID pandemic.

Acquisitions of assets priced at $100+ million was 39.9% of the H1 total, well above domestic capital’s 24.4% share. Acquisitions of assets priced between $50 and $100 million totaled 45.3%, also considerably higher than domestic capital (31.6% share).

International investment in U.S. multifamily assets is expected to increase moderately in H2 2021, aided by continued historically low hedging costs, rebounding market fundamentals in urban submarkets and easing of international travel restrictions, concludes CBRE.

Thank you to www.worldpropertyjournal.com for this article. For the whole article, Click Here.

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Something To Look Forward To: Tax Deductions

Sure, your dream home will be its own reward — but the IRS rewards people for home ownership, too. Here are some of the tax breaks that may be available to you once you’ve purchased your home (all tax matters should be reviewed with a tax professional):

Purchase Costs Deduction
In most cases, you can deduct loan discount points, origination fees, and daily interest paid on the mortgage at closing — even if you’re not the one who paid for them. Your closing disclosure (also called a CD) has all this information, so hang onto it to use when preparing your return.

Mortgage Interest Deduction
Are you married filing jointly and purchasing your first or second home? Beginning in tax year 2018, couples filing jointly can deduct the interest on up to $750,000 of qualified residence loans. Couples filing separately can deduct interest on up to $375,000 of qualified debt. The amount decreased from $1 million ($500,000 for couples filing separately) under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Home Office Expense Deduction
Does your business require that you use a home office? You might be able to deduct a percentage of your home costs related to that portion of the property. This one can be a bit tricky, so be sure to consult with a tax professional.

Home Equity Loan Interest Deduction
Within certain IRS limits, the interest you pay on a home equity loan or a line of credit may also be deductible.

Mortgage Insurance Deduction
The premiums you pay for mortgage insurance may be deductible up to a certain income limit.
Home Improvement Loan Interest Deduction
If you take out a loan for home improvement, you can deduct the interest with no dollar limit. This is only for “capital improvement” — not just ordinary repairs. A tax professional can give you more information about what improvements quality.
Capital Gains Exclusion
If you sell a home that was used as your principal residence for at least two of the previous five years, you get to keep some of that profit tax free. Married taxpayers filing jointly can keep up to $500,000, and single or married filing separately can keep up to $250,000 each.
Selling Costs Deduction
If your capital gain exceeds the limits above, you can reduce it by the amount of your selling costs, including broker’s commissions, title insurance, legal fees, and other costs. You can also deduct any decorating or repairs that you did to make the more saleable.

Of course, all tax matters should be reviewed with a tax professional.

This information was provided by one of our preferred vendors, Supreme Lending. Thank you, Cale Iorg, Senior Loan Officer NMLS# 1121662, for this information.

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What Will The End of The Foreclosure Moratorium Do To The Housing Market?

I have been asked several times what I think the landscape of residential real estate will look like as the foreclosure moratorium ends. I always hedge my answer by ending on the note that the truth is no one can say for sure, the crystal ball doesn’t exist even for the most astute real estate professionals or economists. I can however make a somewhat educated guess, partially based on my own experience and memories from the housing crisis of 2008, as well as what I have gleaned from industry experts about our current situation.

Working as an onsite sales agent for builders from the 90’s-2007, one visual was constant, bootleg directional signs advertising new home communities. They were everywhere, from major thoroughfares to smaller side streets, and heaviest on the weekends as that’s when communities were the busiest. One time I recall seeing over 20 different communities being advertised on one coveted street corner, pointing potential buyers to their new construction dream home north, south, east and west.

In 2007, I made the move to general real estate and joined Harry Norman Realtors with my husband, Tony. The resale market was robust, a primary indicator being the ever present For Sale sign seen frequently in front yards indicating ample competition and plenty of inventory for buyers to choose from.

So for me the most obvious optic missing this time around is easy to see, or rather not to see. It’s the lack of signage, which points to the lack of inventory, both new and resale.

New home construction is dramatically less than it was decades ago due to various factors, and resale homes remain historically low as Covid and the economic fallout has prompted the majority of potential sellers to wait or even upgrade the home they’re currently in with plans to keep it for many more years.

Yes, we are entering a season where the end of the foreclosure moratorium is about to change the U.S. housing market. But according to housing experts, this time it will like less like a flood and more like a trickle. During the last housing crash in 2008, a frenzy of foolish lending, reckless borrowing, and rampant speculation set up the market for ultimate and devastating failure. Home prices collapsed, and millions lost their homes to banks that should have never loaned many of them money in the first place.

Fast forward decades later to our current situation and credit and lending standards have been much more stringent and the housing market has been very stable in most areas. Instead of millions in default, now the number looks more like in the hundreds of thousands. Plus with rising equity nationwide, many homeowners will be able to sell their homes for a profit as opposed to being foreclosed on.

And this time around, there are buyers who are hungry for inventory. Buyers who are fatigued with being one of multiple offers. Buyers who have been frustrated with bidding wars pushing homes above asking, or worse, appraisal price. Buyers who don’t wish to waive contingency and due diligence periods. Buyers who may be on the verge of giving up if they haven’t already.

So the broad stroke answer to what I think the landscape of residential real estate will look like in the near future is…good. I think homes hitting the market due to the foreclosure moratorium ending will be a good thing.

I look forward to the signs coming back.

By Holly A. Morris, Realtor

The Meridian Real Estate Group

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Look, we’re not going to sugar coat it: your credit score is important if you want to buy a home. That 3-digit number carries a pretty big weight in the mortgage process. It’s used to help determine your rate, not to mention your eligibility for a home loan in the first place.

The good news is: you don’t need a perfect credit score to buy a home. But you should work to improve your score as much as possible if you want to get the best deal on your mortgage.

Why is your credit score so important?

Before we dive into how to improve your score, it’s probably a good idea to cover why your credit score is so important for home buying.

So, here’s the deal: Your credit score is generally tracked by companies called “credit bureaus.” The three major credit bureaus (those you’ll find on most credit reports) are Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Credit scores range from 300 to 850 and provide an overall measure of your track record for managing and paying off debts. The debts affecting your credit score can include credit cards, car loans, student loans, medical bills, and personal loans, among others. A strong credit score — typically anything 700 or over — shows that you pay your bills on time each month, and that you’re unlikely to default on your payments. This is music to a lender’s ears because ultimately, they’re taking on financial risk to loan you money. Especially when you’re talking about a home loan that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That’s why it’s crucial to get your credit score up as high as you possibly can before applying for a mortgage (and you’ll need to keep it there throughout the lending process). You want to show your lender that you’ll be an upstanding borrower, and that you can be counted on to pay off your debts. Aside from appealing to lenders, a good credit score will get you a better rate on your mortgage, saving you thousands over the life of your loan. Typically, the lowest mortgage rates are available to borrowers with credit scores of 740 or higher.

Meanwhile, a lower credit score will result in a higher mortgage rate, which unfortunately means you’ll pay more for your home over time. Not only that, but a lower score will likely require you to make a bigger down payment on your new home.

What makes up your credit score?

Okay, you know your credit score is important. But do you really know what’s packed in there? Few of us really ever consider how our scores are calculated, but it’s crucial to understand how the sausage gets made if you want to make improvements.

No credit bureau is going to tell you precisely how they calculate your credit score, but according to Experian, the calculation breaks down something like this:

Payment history: 35% of your score

What goes into it: This portion of your credit score reflects—you guessed it—your payment history. If you pay your debts on time each month and cover at least the minimum payment amount, this portion of your score should be in relatively good shape.

Utilization: 30% of your score

What goes into it: Utilization is how much credit you’re currently using versus how much you have available. For the most part, the less credit you’re currently utilizing, the better your credit score. For example, say your credit card has a maximum balance of $10,000. If your balance is relatively low, say $1,000, this will reflect better on your credit score than if you were using up $8,000 of your maximum credit.

Length of credit history: 15% of your score

What goes into it: Creditors want to see that you have a solid long-term history of paying off debt. Think about it: a lender can’t tell very much about whether you’ll pay your mortgage on time from looking at 3 months of data. So, the longer your history with credit, the better.

Mix of credit: 10% of your score

What goes into it: Interestingly, having different types of debt is considered a good thing by the credit bureaus. It shows that you can handle different types of loans (car loans, student loans, credit cards, etc.), and that you’ll pay them back according to the terms of your contracts.

New credit: 10% of your score

What goes into it: Opening a new line of credit can negatively impact your score for a while. That’s why you should avoid taking out any new loans in the months leading up to your mortgage. Remember — the credit bureaus reward you for longer-term credit. Be very careful about adding any new debt while you’re home shopping.

Make sure to keep these elements in mind as you work to improve your credit score. They can help guide you on where to prioritize your time (and money!).

What can I do to help my credit?

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of what goes into that magic number called your credit score, we’ve rounded up the top 6 need-to-know tips to get you financially fit for home buying.

  1. Check your credit reports

The first step to improving your credit? Knowing what you’re up against. That means pulling your credit reports from all three major bureaus and going through each one with a fine-tooth comb. Keep in mind that you’re entitled to pull your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus for free once per year. Use them! You can get your free credit reports at Annual Credit Report, a government-run site.

Skip estimator tools

Of course, you can always get a free estimated credit score from companies like Credit Karma. But it’s best to see your official credit reports from the big three credit bureaus. This is what your mortgage lender will reference, so you should too.

Credit score estimators, while great tools, can be off-base. We’ve seen it way too many times: a homebuyer will apply for a mortgage based off a score they found on a credit score estimator tool, and then learn the hard way—after applying for a mortgage—that their true score was lower. Don’t let this happen to you! By working from your official credit reports, you’ll go into the mortgage process with eyes wide open.

  1. Identify and fix issues with your credit reports

Now that you’ve got your credit reports handy, you can focus on fixing the items that are bringing your score down. Go through each of your three reports line by line. Verify that all the information is correct, and highlight any accounts or line items that are negative or inaccurate. These are your areas for improvement.

Always dispute credit report errors

Did you know that credit report errors are extremely common? According to recent government data, more than 1 in 5 Americans have material (read: pretty major) errors on their credit reports.

Credit report errors can affect your ability to get a mortgage, and can hurt your rate too. The good news is, you have recourse. Every consumer is entitled to dispute an error on their credit report. And both creditors and credit reporting agencies are required by law to correct your report if an error is found.

How to dispute an error on your credit report

If you see an error on your report, you should dispute it as soon as possible. To do this, send a dispute letter to the credit bureau that made the error requesting that it be removed (the government put together a handy dispute letter template you can use). Include any supporting documentation proving the error was made. By law, the credit bureaus are required to investigate an error within 30 days, and remove the error if the creditor can’t verify the accuracy of the disputed item.

They’re also required to send you the results of the investigation, plus a copy of your credit report if a change has been made. You should also send a dispute letter to the creditor who made the error, providing the same supporting documentation you sent to the three credit bureaus.

One caveat: When you dispute an error on your credit report, the credit bureaus will list the account as “disputed” on your reports. This dispute is visible to anyone who views your credit report. If you’re disputing an account at the same time as you’re applying for mortgages, you could experience financing delays. Most mortgage lenders won’t clear your loan until disputed accounts are resolved. This is another reason to give yourself adequate time to repair your credit before applying for a mortgage.

  1. Settle outstanding debts in collection

If you have outstanding debts that have gone into collections, they could be bringing your score down significantly. Now is the time to settle them. Call the collection agency and tell them you want to “pay to delete” the debt. What this means is that you’ll pay what you owe on the account and they’ll delete the negative item from your credit report.

Be sure to write down all the information from your call; who you spoke with and their contact information, plus note any negotiations you came to. Finally, make sure you get a “pay for delete” letter from the agency confirming you paid the balance and the agency will remove the debt from your credit report. You can use this as proof to the credit bureaus if for some reason the negative account remains on your credit reports.

Pro tip: You can often negotiate the amount you owe to a collector, but always confirm that they will in fact delete the negative account from your credit reports before coming to an agreement.

  1. Pay down your balances

Remember how credit utilization accounts for a whopping 30% of your credit score? One way to quickly improve your credit is to lower your utilization. That means paying down your debts.

Have a balance on your credit card you’ve been meaning to pay off? Now’s the time! The lower you can get your utilization leading up to taking out a mortgage, the better. Experts suggest keeping your utilization below 30% to protect your credit score. In other words, you should be using less than 30% of your available credit. Think of this step as freeing up room in your financial profile for your home loan. The good news is, this tactic can improve your score dramatically and quickly.

  1. Avoid taking on further debt

During the period when you’re preparing to buy a home, and even while you’re going through the process of taking out a mortgage, it’s imperative that you avoid taking on any further debt. Opening up new debt accounts (for example: taking out a car loan) will negatively impact your credit score. So it’s important to wait until after you’ve closed on your home to consider taking on a new loan.

Pro tip: Even if you’ve already applied for a mortgage and been approved by your lender, you could jeopardize your home loan if you take on additional debt before the deal is closed. Mortgage lenders monitor your credit throughout the entire lending process, which takes an average of 45 days nationally to complete. Any changes could delay or even upend your financing.

  1. Don’t close any accounts

Finally, it’s best not to close any credit accounts while you’re applying for a mortgage. There is a lot of debate over whether closing unused accounts hurts your credit. But given the fact that your score partly looks at your mix of credit and length of credit history, it’s probably best not to mess with anything so close to taking out a home loan.

Keeping the account open but inactive shouldn’t hurt your credit, but closing an account so close to applying for a mortgage might cause concern on the lender’s part. If you really want to shutter the account, wait until after you’ve closed on your new home.

Give yourself time

It’s ideal to start the process of going through and repairing your credit well before you’ll be applying for a mortgage. Give yourself at least three to six months for minor credit repair. If you have significant credit issues, you’ll likely need at least a year to see significant changes.

The truth is, improving your credit score takes some time. It can be weeks, or even months, for your score to reflect any positive changes you make. Don’t expect that you can repair your credit overnight. Give yourself adequate time to complete this important step in the homebuying process.


Credit To: Chelsea Levinson and homelight.com

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Things Are Looking “Up” This Fall: Trends In Ceilings

Why should you paint or paper a ceiling?

It has been said so many times that it is almost cliché, but it is true — ceilings really are the 5th wall.  Consider how much time we spend thinking about flooring, coloration, and patterns.  Or how to get that perfect paint color or wallpaper for walls.  Well, ceilings deserve the same respect. They close the preverbal box without boxing you in.  I absolutely love painting an accent color on a ceiling vs a wall because it makes such a stronger statement.  Or wallpaper that pulls that perfect color that you spent so much time selecting to the next level.

How do you know when it should be high gloss?

High gloss is only an option if you have a good drywall finish.  In the industry it is called Level 5.   Extra time needs to be taken to really smooth out any imperfections and make for as perfect as a surface as possible.  Otherwise as the light reflects, every, even a small flaw is highlighted.   So once the surface is taken care of, I only do a high gloss finish when there is great light, either natural or from that perfect fixture to highlight the slick, glass-like finish.  And, of course, even better when you bring the same idea of an accent color and put it on the ceiling.  True magic.

Should the walls be lighter when you do a ceiling?

Not necessarily.  It truly depends on the overall design of the space.  The whole space, including the ceiling can become super moody and interesting.

How does it look in an entry or small space?

High drama in a small space.  I’m here for it.  Wallpaper that ceiling.  Paint an accent color from another part of a house.  Take a risk.  It’s a ceiling.  I once had a painter ask if I had made an error in a home when I specified the main hall as bright turquoise and there appeared to not be anything else on that whole floor the same color.  I chuckled and said, “yep and you just wait until you see what’s coming in.”  Once the home was installed, that color was the cherry that brought it together through the main hall.    So, don’t doubt yourself.  Only you, your design team, and often your architect, know the true direction the house is headed.

Do you ever do walls and ceiling the same either in paint or wallpaper?

Often, especially if there are crazy angles in the room from rooflines. Carrying the same paint or wallpaper through can be that thing that brings it all together and can just as easily create a quietness to a space if that is the goal, as creating that strong moment within a house.

Do lighter ceiling colors make the walls feel higher?

Some say so, but I also find that dark colors can push back the ceiling or walls to make a space appear larger or higher. It just depends on the circumstance and what is around the space.

How important is overhead lighting?

This one could go either way.  Overhead lighting, meaning recessed cans, at times can make a ceiling look like “swiss cheese” if the ceiling is a focal point to the room. So, at times, we’ll hang a series of fixtures instead of cans to highlight rather than keeping the ceiling quiet.  If the room is small enough, we’ll use a bigger chandelier to let one upper light source carry the room while still creating the illumination that we’d like to cast across the ceiling.

What’s the most interesting/dramatic one you’ve done?

This is a fun one.  We’ve done a number of ceilings in both paint and paper. In fact, we started doing this very early in my career as an accent and have just kept on going.  I still love the turquoise hall.  There have also been dining rooms that we have papered just the trey inset.  There is also a long butler’s pantry with a triple barrel that we venetian plastered the entire room, I loved the drama of that. (not sure if you have a pic of this. I’ll send)   There have been times the we  have just papered the inset between a coffered ceiling.  Love this look as well.  It is hard to pick just one as ceilings are a favorite space for me.

Tish Mills Kirk of Tish Mills Interiors, a preferred vendor of The Meridian Real Estate Group, is an award-winning interior designer who has been working with clients in their homes for more than two decades. She believes that it is essential to put together a cohesive plan for your home renovation before you get started that can be carried out by the team of experts you assemble. www.harmoniousliving.net

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For more info, contact:
Beth Dempsey – Images & Details, Inc.
[email protected]
 Photos provided by Chris Little.

FICO 101 : The 5 Components Of Your Score

For most people, a home is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. When determining your credit worthiness, the lender will consider your financial history. To do that, they’ll be looking at your FICO score. Here’s what makes up your FICO score:

  • 35% of your score is determined by your payment history. This includes everything from credit cards to retail accounts, as well as public records like bankruptcy.
  • 30% of your score is determined by your amounts owed. This isn’t just how much you owe, but what types of accounts and what percentage of available credit you’re using.
  • 15% of your score is determined by the length of your credit history: How long your accounts have been open, and what kind of activity they’ve seen.
  • 10% of your score is determined by your new credit. This just means what recent new accounts you’ve opened, and how long it’s been since previous credit inquiries.
  • 10% of your score is determined by the types of credit used. This show the lender what proportion of your credit is from credit cards, installment loans, mortgages, etc.

Having a great FICO score is imperative for getting a great rate on your mortgage loan — and for getting a mortgage loan at all. Still not sure about how your financial history will feature in your search for the perfect home?

This information was provided by one of our preferred vendors, Supreme Lending. Thank you, Cale Iorg, Senior Loan Officer NMLS# 1121662, for this information.

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Breaking News: Victory on Eviction Moratorium

Time to Focus on Rental Assistance
The U.S. Supreme Court ended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) eviction moratorium Thursday night, giving much-needed relief to America’s small housing providers facing financial hardship for more than a year.

In a 6-3 ruling, a majority of justices agreed that the stay on the lower court’s order finding the CDC’s eviction moratorium to be unlawful was no longer justified.

In their order, the justices wrote, “The moratorium has put the applicants, along with millions of landlords across the country, at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery. Despite the CDC’s determination that landlords should bear a significant financial cost of the pandemic, many landlords have modest means.”

The case was brought by the Georgia and Alabama Associations of REALTORS® and other property providers, with NAR’s help.

In May of this year, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich for the District of Columbia had struck down the ban as unlawful, but she stayed her ruling pending appeal. The case wound up twice before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

In a statement, NAR said of the ruling:

“This decision is the correct one, from both a legal standpoint and a matter of fairness. It brings to an end an unlawful policy that places financial hardship solely on the shoulders of mom-and-pop housing providers, who provide nearly half of all rental housing in America, and it restores property rights in America.

“No housing provider wants to evict a tenant—it is always a last resort and reserved for the rarest cases. The best solution for all parties is rental assistance, and all energy should go toward its swift distribution. Nearly $50 billion of aid is now available to cover up to a year-and-a-half of combined back and future rent and utilities for struggling tenants—and every state has started a program to distribute the funds.

“With this rental assistance, now is the time to return the housing sector to its former, healthy function. NAR is thankful for the Biden administration’s new guidance to speed up rental assistance distribution, which includes many NAR recommendations. We will continue to work with all parties to make that assistance readily accessible to tenants and housing providers.”

NAR cautions housing providers that some state and local governments may still have their own eviction moratoria in place. (See more here.)

Stayed tuned to NAR for the latest analysis on this finding.

Access NAR’s rental assistance resources.  NAR-Evictions-Update-08_04_2021

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Do You Know The Difference Between Conventional And Government Loans?

Do you know the difference between conventional and government loans?

Conventional Loans

The term “conventional loan” just refers to any loan that isn’t guaranteed or insured by a government agency. They fall into two categories:

Conforming mortgages are conventional loans that offer a lower rate in exchange for conforming to certain maximum limits and guidelines.
Non-conforming mortgages have a higher interest rate, since they’re for amounts above the conforming loan limits.

Government Loans

Government loans are from private lenders just like conventional loans are — but these loans are guaranteed by a government agency, allowing those lenders to relax their requirements.

FHA loans are insured by the FHA. These loans are great for first-time home buyers and low-income borrowers.
VA loans are government loans too, but these are guaranteed by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs. For veterans and service personnel who are eligible, these can be easier to qualify for than other loans.
USDA loans are government loans guaranteed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. These loans are specifically for rural properties.

Still not sure which type of loan is best for you? Reply to this email or give us a call — we’d love to chat with you about the ins and outs of conventional and government loans.

This information was provided by one of our preferred vendors, Supreme Lending. Thank you, Cale Iorg, Senior Loan Officer NMLS# 1121662, for this information.

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