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Dealing with Credit Score

by Rose Price

If you've been searching for a new Champaign, Illinois home then I'm sure you've heard the words "credit score" quite a few times. With the Illinois lenders tightening their requirements it is more important than ever.

You credit score is commonly referred to as a FICO score, and is a proprietary tool created by the Fair Isaac Corporation. This is not the only way to get a credit score, but the FICO score is the measure that is most commonly used by lenders to determine the risk involved in a particular loan.

Due to the proprietary nature of the FICO score, the Fair Isaac company does not reveal the exact formula it uses to compute this number. However, what is known is that the calculation is broken into five major categories with varying levels of importance. These categories, with weigh in brackets, are payment history (35%), amount owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%) and type of credit used (10%). All of these categories are taken into account in your overall score - no one area or incident determines your score.

The payment history category reviews how well you have met your prior obligations on various account types. It also looks for previous problems in your payment history such as bankruptcy, collections and delinquency. It takes into consideration the size of these problems, the time it took to resolve them, and how long it has been since the problems appeared. The more problems you have in your credit history, the weaker your credit score will be.

One of the largest components that is reviewed is the amount that you currently owe to lenders. While this category focuses on your current amount of debt, it also looks at the number of different accounts and the specific types of accounts that you hold. This area is focused on your present financial situation, and a large amount of debt from many sources will have an adverse effect on your score.

The other categories (length of credit history, new credit and type of credit used) are fairly straightforward. The longer you have a good credit history, the better. Of course, common sense dictates that someone who has never been late with payment over twenty years is a much safer bet than someone who has been only made on time payments for a few years. Also, people who apply for credit a lot probably already have financial pressures causing them to do so, so each time you apply for credit, your score gets dinged a little. Finally, a person with only one credit card is less risky than a person with 10, so the more types of credit accounts you have, the lower your score will be.

It is important to understand that your credit score only looks at the information contained on your credit report and does not reflect additional information that your lender may consider in its appraisal. For example, your credit report does not include such things as current income, debt to income ration, and length of employment. However, because your credit score is a key tool used by lending agencies, it is important that you maintain and improve it periodically.

Your credit score is a major factor when purchasing a home, especially in this tight lending environment. Contact me today if you have any questions about your credit score.

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

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Preparing for Down Payment and Closing Costs

by Rose Price
 

Now that you've found the Champaign Illinois home that meets your needs. It time to start making offers and getting ready for closing.

A generation ago, it used to be the norm to put 20 percent down, but with the real estate market in its current state of flux, many first-time homebuyers are finding ways to pay just 3 to 5 percent of the total cost upfront. Federal Housing Act (FHA) loans increasingly have become a popular option for first-time buyers, says Greg Herb, regional vice president of the National Association of Realtors. These competitively low-interest loans are ideal for buyers with less than perfect credit, and because the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) minimizes the risk of default for lenders on these loans, borrowers are only required to put down 3.5 percent of the cost--a far cry from the traditional 20 percent down payment.

Still, there are advantages to paying more at the start. A larger down payment ultimately means smaller monthly bills down the line. Also, if you purchase a conventional loan (i.e.: one that is not backed by a federal agency), paying 20 percent or more upfront will eliminate the need to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) charges. PMI is insurance for your lender that can be paid upfront or in monthly installments, and is designed to offset your lender's risk in the case that you've paid less than 20 percent on your home. It can cost around $55 a month per $100,000 financed. While it's important to note that FHA loans also carry mortgage insurance with a down payment of under 20 percent, their low barriers to own still make them a good choice for first-time buyers.

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

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Tips for Buying a Home

by Rose Price

Are you ready to find the perfect Champaign, Illinois home for you? Then you'll need to think about a few things before getting started.  These are some of the top 10 things you need to know when buying a home.

1. Don't buy if you can't stay put.

If you can't commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner - even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it's an even worse proposition.

2. Start by cleaning up your credit.

Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.

The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you'll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.

4. If you can't put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.

20% is the norm these days, but there are options if you don't have the cash. There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a down payment as small as 3 percent of the purchase price.

5. Buy in a district with good schools.

In most areas, this advice applies even if you don't have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you'll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values.

6. Get professional help.

Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

7. Choose carefully between points and rate.

When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points -- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing -- in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time -- say three to five years or more -- it's usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.

8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can't afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.

9. Do your homework before bidding.

Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that's about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

10. Hire a home inspector.

Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that's just the bank's way of determining whether the house is worth the price you've agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

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Sharing Closing Costs

by Rose Price

The last thing to do when you purchase a Champaign home is the closing,and some people don't know that you can actually split the costs. This is a time when the paperwork will be completed, and for the home seller it is the remaining mortgage balance and the agent's commission will be deducted from the sales price. However, many however don't figure in the closing costs that are involved as well. 

While the amount and who will be responsible can vary from state to state, typical closing costs refer to all of the taxes, fees and costs required to close a real estate transaction.

When selling your home, it is important to ask your agent for a breakdown of what you are expected to pay in closing costs as well what the buyer will pay. In most states the buyer and seller split closing costs but some states consider the buyer to be responsible or both parties can be required to pay the costs. 

Typically the person responsible for paying closing costs can be dependent on the market. For example in a market that is plentiful, the seller could have more of a chance in having the buyer pay the majority of the closing costs. But in a market that is struggling such as now, buyers tend to have the upper hand and many sellers will pay the majority of the closing costs in order to complete the sale.

Below are some of the common closing costs faced by sellers and buyers:

Escrow/attorney fees: Some states require third-party escrow companies handle real estate closings, while others dictate attorneys perform the function. Title companies, title agents, lenders, brokers and even real estate agents are allowed to handle closings and/or escrows depending on the state. These fees are usually split between the buyer and seller.
Title insurance: There are usually two types of
title insurance that must be purchased – the lenders’ policy and the owners’ policy. Usually either a title company or in some states a lawyer will research the title to make sure there are no liens against the property or unidentified owners. These policies protect the lender and new owner for the full value of the property. Usually, the seller pays for the owner’s policy and the buyer pays for the lender’s policy. This is often referred to as clearing title.
Transfer or documentary taxes: These are paid either to the state, county, city or a combination depending on the state. This is where the government agency gets their share of the transaction. This is also known as a reconveyance tax.
Recording fee: Usually paid to the county for recording the deed, which shows ownership of the property.
Mortgage tax: This is an additional tax collected by some states. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia are the states that collect this tax.

Brokerage commission: The fee you contractually agreed to pay for the selling of your home.


Aside from these costs, the seller may be responsible for costs such as any credits that were promised to the buyer for repairs or home warranties. Don't forget that Federal law requires that sellers and buyers receive a copy of a
HUD-1 form outlining all charges in a real estate transaction.

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

    Search for Homes in the Champaign Area 

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Help for Buyers

by Rose Price

Have you been searching for that Central Illinois dream home and are finally ready to make an offer? You may have some concerns about the down payment and in this difficult economy it can be difficult to pay a large down payment so what are your options?  There may be an option to help you you complete the sale if you don’t have extra cash.

Different lenders have their own minimum down payment requirements and can vary depending on the mortgage program, loan amount, borrower income and credit rating. A good rule of thumb is roughly 20%, but you can find different ways to help you meet down payment requirements, including buyer assistance programs -  also called down payment assistance programs.

Assistance programs and grants can help you avoid robbing your savings or 401K or borrowing the money elsewhere to come up with a cash down payment. Some of the most common buyer assistance programs are for first time home buyers, but other assistance programs are available as well. How do they work? Below are some key requirements of standard programs. 

  • Home buyers must qualify for a loan that allows gift funds from a charitable organization
  • Limits may apply to the price of the home
  • Funds can be used for the down payment and for closing costs
  • Gift funds can be used for new or existing homes

There are several different organizations that provide buyer assistance, including Grant AmericaNehemiah and American Family Funds. Many other buyer assistance organizations are available, so do some homework and talk to your tax preparer and mortgage lender about options.

Always speak to your lender about available programs in your market, they can help you structure the down payment assistance to be compatible with their underwriting guidelines and offer advice on program advantages for your type of loan. 

​For more information and help finding that perfect home for you and your family contact me today!

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

    Search for Homes in the Champaign Area 

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Your Credit Report

by Rose Price

Having your credit report is an important step in buying a Champaign, Illinois home.  You should know your credit report before your lender views it. You can get the information by calling and requesting it. Once you have the report in your hand, check the “high credit limit”, total loan,” and “past due” columns.  It is a very good idea to get copies from all of the reporting agencies. 

Credit reporting companies:

Experian (800) 682-7954 www.experian.com

Equifax (800) 685-1111 www.equifax.com

TransUnion (800) 888-4213 www.transunion.com

You can also get a copy of your credit history at the following online locations:

http://www.transunion.com

www.creditreports.com

What if I find a mistake in my credit history?

You can correct simple mistakes by writing to the reporting company, pointing out the error, and providing proof of the mistake. You can also request to have your own comments added to explain problems.

For example, if you made a payment late due to illness, explain that for the record. Lenders usually understand about legitimate problems.

What about my overall (or FICO) score?

What does it mean? Prior to the late 1990's, credit scoring had little to do with mortgage lending. When reviewing your credit worthiness, an underwriter would make a subjective decision based on past payment history. Then things changed.

Lenders studied the relationship between credit scores and mortgage delinquencies and found a definite relationship. Almost half of those borrowers with FICO scores below 550 became ninety days delinquent at least once during their mortgage. On the other hand, only two out of every 10,000 borrowers with FICO scores above eight hundred became delinquent.

When can I stretch the percentages?

In the  Champaign housing market, lenders sometimes will allow you to stretch their allowable debt ratios. One of the best ways to encourage your lender to do so is to increase your down payment.

 Underwriters sometimes also will stretch the ratios for other "compensating factors," including:

  • Strong cash reserves after close of escrow
  • New payment that’s only slightly higher than current rent or mortgage payment 
  • History of increasing earning capabilities 
  • History of an ability to save money 
  • Large cash down payment

 Contact me today to check out what's available in the Champaign Urbana area!

 

 

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP
Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

    Search for Homes in the Champaign Area 

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Why I Work by Referral in Champaign, IL

by Rose Price

Relationships Are More Important Than Transactions.

If you are shopping for a home in Champaign, IL, you may have noticed that many real estate agents take a transactional approach to sales-identifying clients, closing the deal, and then moving on to the next one. I choose not to work that way because I believe you deserve more from the professional you decide to work with. That is why I work by referral and have testimonials from happy clients here in Champaign, IL.

Since my primary source of new business is referrals from people who know and trust
me, I don’t have to spend precious time prospecting and promoting myself. I can dedicate
myself fully to the activities that benefit you most, and always deliver truly exceptional
service.

You Control My Business

I know that I must earn your future referrals, so I aim to exceed your expectations. I
have vested interest in making sure that you are completely satisfied at the end of our
transaction together. I want you to be so “fired-up” that you can’t wait to tell your friends
and family about me and the fantastic service you received.

When you come across an opportunity, I appreciate you referring me to great people like
yourself, who would benefit from the excellent service and personal attention I provide.

Service After the Sale

I devote myself to serving the needs of my clients before, during and after each sale.
Instead of disappearing after the closing, you can expect me to keep in touch. I will be
sending valuable information to you each month, and will also be calling from time to
time just to check in and see if you need anything.

I hope you will turn to me for help with any of your real-estate-related needs because it is
such a privilege to work exclusively with people like you who I admire and respect, and
who value the service I provide.

Working by referral is all about trust. And let’s face it, when we are seeking any
service we are looking for someone we can trust-someone proven who comes highly
recommended and is already on our side.

Are you ready to find your dream home in Champaign, IL? Contact me today - I would be happy to help!

 

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP
Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com


    Search for Homes in the Champaign Area 

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Turning Foreclosed Properties Into Rentals

by Rose Price


There is an interesting trend in the market that is gaining attention in Champaign/Urbana as well as the entire country.  Federal officials  are hoping to launch a pilot program in early 2012 to convert government-owned foreclosures into rental properties.

The program, which was cited by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week as one way to address the housing crisis, would sell foreclosed homes now owned by Fannie Mae (FNMA, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FMCC, Fortune 500) to investors in bulk. The properties would then be converted into rentals.


The initiative began back in August, when the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced they were seeking suggestions on ways to dispose of repossessed homes now owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.

In addition to getting the properties off the government's books, officials are hoping putting the homes back into productive use will stabilize neighborhoods and housing values. Also, it is looking to expand the supply of rentals, which are increasingly in demand.

The agency is not releasing details on how the rental program would work, instead saying it is "proceeding prudently but with a sense of urgency to lay the groundwork for the development of good initial transactions in early 2012."

Administration officials said they are continuing to work with the agency to develop the program.

Housing, stocks, gold and oil: Hot or not in 2012?

Until now, most foreclosed homes have been sold individually because investors have demanded bigger discounts to buy large numbers of properties.

But federal officials are warily eyeing the expected surge in foreclosures as banks ramp up their action against delinquent homeowners. The process had been stalled since late 2010 when banks' shoddy paperwork practices came to light.

There are close to 2 million homes in the late stages of delinquency, according to Lender Processing Services. Since foreclosed properties often sell below market value, they can wreak havoc on home prices.

Converting these homes to rentals can both help the neighborhood and minimize losses to Fannie, Freddie and the FHA, which hold about 250,000 properties, Bernanke told lawmakers last week.

He urged lawmakers to ramp up their efforts to fix the housing market, placing particular emphasis on the problem of vacant homes on the market.

"Restoring the health of the housing market is a necessary part of a broader strategy for economic recovery," he said.

Bernanke's comments launched a full-court press by Federal Reserve officials last week to raise awareness of the continuing problems plaguing the housing market.

His proposals were quickly followed by Fed Governors Sarah Bloom Raskin, who spoke on ramping up enforcement of mortgage servicers, and Elizabeth Duke, who said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could do more to help heal the housing market.

Meanwhile, New York Fed President William Dudley gave a speech that touched on a wide range of housing policies -- including principal reduction and mortgage refinancing -- that he believes will boost the economy.

The Fed has already tried to boost real estate sales by pushing mortgage rates down to record lows through massive bond-buying programs.

But the renewed push for housing help indicates that the Fed, which has basically run out of monetary policy ammunition to revive the real estate market, is urging the federal government to ramp up its efforts.

"The Federal Reserve is signaling in even stronger terms the need for the government to do more to help housing," said Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst with the Washington Research Group.

Thank you to Tami Luhby at CNN Money for the information.

Contact me to learn more about this trend, or to buy or sell a home in Champaign, IL! 

 

 

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What is The Role of a Property Appraiser?

by Rose Price

Are you a first time buyer looking for your perfect home in Champaign, IL? If so, you may wonder what a home appraiser does. Home appraisers are a necessary part of your real estate transaction and it is important to know exactly what the appraiser's responsibilities are.

One of the most common misconception about appraisers is that they work for the home seller. Actually, appraisers are hired to be impartial and provide an accurate "value" to your home in order for lenders to determine if the collateral supports the debt. These same lenders are also putting a lot of pressure on appraisers which result in higher than market value home appraisals.

If you are buying or selling a home it is a good idea to do some research on the role of appraisers and how they effect you.

Below are some quick facts your should know about the appraiser and the process:

•Appraisers are licensed by individual states after completing coursework and internship hours that familiarize them with their real estate markets.

•The lender might use an appraiser on its staff, or contract with an independent appraiser. If you are allowed to choose the appraiser, and it isn't someone the lender is familiar with, the results might be subject to review before they are accepted.

•The appraiser should be an objective third party, someone who has no financial or other connection to any person involved in the transaction.

•The property being appraised is called the subject property.

•You will probably pay for the appraisal when you apply for your loan.

What You'll See on a Residential Appraisal Report

Appraisals are very detailed reports, but here are a few things they include:


•Details about the subject property, along with side-by-side comparisons of three similar properties.

•An evaluation of the overall real estate market in the area.

•Statements about issues the appraiser feels are harmful to the property's value, such as poor access to the property.

•Notations about seriously flawed characteristics, such as a crumbling foundation.

•An estimate of the average sales time for the property.

•What type of area the home is in (a development, stand alone acreage, etc.).

 

Contact us if you have any advice or experience with home appraisers that you would like to share that might help local homebuyers!

 

 

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