What’s Good in the Hood? Six Ways to Check Your Neighborhood’s Vibe



When Bradley Shaw decided to move to Coronado, California last year, he was drawn to the laid-back beach lifestyle the area offered. But after he sold his old house and needed to find a new place quickly, he blew off some of the research he planned to do and ended up in a neighborhood he admits isn’t exactly what he wanted.

The house is on a busier street than he would have liked, and he’s found that the demographics of the area, including a high military population, lead to a concentration of rental homes and a consistent turnover of neighbors.

The house itself…still awesome. The rest of his environment…less than ideal.

There’s much more that factors into the enjoyment of your home than the structure itself. In fact, “neighborhood quality” is more important than home size for more than three-quarters of home buyers surveyed by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Here are six questions to consider about your new home’s environment.

1. How safe is the area?


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This is probably the first item on your neighborhood fact-finding list, and with good reason. Crime stats can be found a variety of places online including NeighborhoodScout, which has a section for crime rates; and AreaVibes, which computes a Livability Score that includes crime rates.

To find out if there are nearby sex offenders, check databases at the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website or Family Watchdog. You can also check with your local police department and consult the online community paper, which often prints the police blotter.

2. How awesome are the schools?

Websites such as SchoolDigger and GreatSchools can be a good starting point for assessing your local schools, and they are important to consult since everyone else (read: the next buyers) will be factoring those numbers into their ranking, too. But don’t rely on those numbers completely.

Call your local schools and ask them to send you a copy of the most recent Parent Teacher Organization/Association newsletter. That will give you a good feeling for what goes on in the school community.

Tempted to blow off school research because you don’t have kids? Don’t. The school district is still critical, says Ali Wenzke, a suburban Chicago homeowner who has moved almost a dozen times for her and her husband’s work. “I was pregnant when we bought our first home, and therefore was all over the parks and nearby zoo. We didn’t even consider our school district because kindergarten was years away, and the local high school certainly wasn’t on our radar.” Her story had a happy ending: She had unwittingly bought in a great school district which fast-tracked the resale, but warns it could have easily gone the other way.

3. Can you walk this way?

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A new factor popping up is walkability: A NAR survey found that nearly half of people surveyed would choose a community with a smaller yard if it had an easy walk to amenities over a place with a larger yard that required more driving.

“In a city like Los Angeles where people spend so much time in their cars, walkability is a growing factor in many buyers’ decision-making process,” says Realtor® Amber Dolle with John Aaroe Group in Los Angeles. Visit the Walk Score to find ratings for specific houses — the higher the rating, the more walkable the neighborhood is, meaning the easier it is to accomplish routine errands on foot.

4. What is the neighborhood like when there’s not an open house?

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Two p.m. on a Saturday is just one tiny sliver in the weekly rhythm of a neighborhood. Nothing beats a drive by on a Friday night to see how wild your neighbors get or just a walk around on a random Wednesday afternoon, says Todd Hutcheson, owner of ISellHomes.com in Orlando, Florida.

Check out if people are friendly when you stroll by; if kids are out playing; and if the streets are well-lit. And be on the look-out for deal breakers, whether it’s people parking their cars on the lawn or a pack of barking dogs next door, Hutcheson says, which can torpedo your peace and your home value.

And of course, you can always do a little door knocking to check with the neighbors, suggests Dolle, who often accompanies clients on a fact-finding mission. Find out if there are known crime problems or nuisances straight from the people who deal with them every day.

It’s also smart to try your commute during rush hour, just to make sure there are no unpleasant traffic surprises.

5. What’s on the horizon for your neighborhood?

Is your neighborhood slated for a three-lane highway, a new shopping mall, or scores of new tract homes? For better or worse, they will affect your home value, so check with the local planning and economic development departments. Development might just increase traffic woes and density, but it could also increases economic vitality, with upgraded buildings, parks and sidewalks, and exciting new merchants coming to town.

6. What are your neighbors ranting and raving about?

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 12.31.13 PMWish you could be a fly on the wall to find out what’s really important to your neighbors? Try hanging out on Nextdoor or the local Facebook Group. “These types of apps and sites can be great for discovering activity in the area, from upcoming events to crime,” says Aaron Norris with real estate investment firm The Norris Group in Riverside, Calif.

On his own community-run site, he finds that participants share everything from information about traffic incidents to funny stories, weather, nonprofit news, and lost dog posts. “It’s amazing how active these self-regulated groups are,” he says, noting that some are inclined to be positive and informative, while others attract squeaky wheels who have a lot of spare time on their hands to complain. Take the chatter with a grain of salt, but public social snooping can still provide an invaluable peek into what’s on your neighbors’ minds.

And, don’t hesitate to take it a step further. Many sites will let newbies ask questions about a community they are considering.



Why Buying a Home Isn’t as Easy as Seen on HGTV

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How do you find your dream home? If you play by HGTV’s “House Hunters” rules, then all you need is to look at three houses, put in an offer, and move in. But real life rarely fits neatly into a 30-minute episode, and it is likely that you are in for a house hunt that’s more complicated than as seen on reality TV.

There are many factors that affect your house hunt – from your budget to your wish list – so before you commit your calendar to open houses for the foreseeable future, here are some things to consider:

How Many Houses Should You See?

Kellie Tinnin of ERA Sellers & Buyers Real Estate in Albuquerque, New Mexico, says there’s “no magic number” when it comes to house hunting.

“Some buyers need to see 50 homes before they can make a decision and some can see 5,” Tinnin says. The number of open houses is relative to how well she knows her clients needs. “It helps to have buyers outline their needs and wants on paper so they can visualize their home desires,” she says.

Having a wish list can definitely help you make the most of your home search. Sites like Real Scout allow you to save your favorite listings in one place, so you can keep your real estate agent in the loop with what you’re specifically looking for in a home.

Kathryn Bishop, a REALTOR® in Los Angeles, says discussing her clients’ needs and wants helps separate the “looky-loos” from the serious house hunters. According to Bishop, a real estate agent “can advise you about the odds of finding that dream house in the area you want for the price you want.” By knowing what clients want–and what they don’t want–Bishop says that a good real estate agent can suggest other possibilities, as well help you “sort out your emotions about each of the items on your wish list.”

Is There Love at First “Site”?

Perhaps you’re thrilled by the prospect of browsing dozens of houses. So what happens when you fall in love with the very first house you see? This is a house you’re buying, not a pair of shoes, so we’re talking serious buyer’s remorse if this isn’t the best house for your needs and budget. What’s a house hunter to do?

Katie Messenger, a REALTOR® with The Bello Dimora Real Estate Network of Keller Williams Realty in Louisville, KY, tells house hunters not to worry.

“If the first home you walk into is truly ‘the one,’ and there’s a fear about ‘what if I like something else?’ or ‘I shouldn’t buy the first house I look at,’ then your agent failed to normalize that feeling that it’s OK to love the first home you see,” says Messenger,

Kelly J. Joyner, a Real Estate Broker and REALTOR® from Charlotte, NC, would agree. If you hit the jackpot with the first house you visit, Joyner says, “then your real estate agent has listened, and you have communicated your wants and needs appropriately.”

When to Call off the Hunt

On the flip side, what if you’re not finding a property that says “home” to you? At what point do you decide to put your house hunt on hold?

Bishop says, “If you are only going to buy a certain type of house in a certain type of neighborhood at a certain price limit, and there are none available, quit looking,” she says, explaining that it could take years for the market to adjust to your price point. Of course, if you must relocate for a job, a growing family, or other pressing purpose, it’s a good idea to revisit your wish list with your real estate agent in order to revise and expand your house-hunting parameters.

HGTV has a way of making house hunting look easy. In real life, your house hunt is likely to take longer, but that doesn’t mean you have to look at a hundred homes, either. By conducting a realistic search based on your needs and budget, you could be moving into your new home sooner rather than later.


How to Beat an All-Cash Offer. Yes, it is Possible.

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In a hot real estate market, it might seem impossible to beat cold hard cash, but it’s not. With a few tips and tricks you can make a competitive offer, without liquidating all your assets.

Jennifer Branchini of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Pleasanton, California, knows the allure of all-cash for sellers, but serious buyers with traditional financing should not count themselves out. “One or two less things could go wrong in a [cash] transaction but [those buyers] can walk away just as easily as somebody that is getting a loan,” she says. Smart sellers know that and will look at the full picture.

Still, even with 1 in 3 homes being snapped up by all-cash buyers sellers still have skin in the game if they concentrate on knocking every other obstacle out of the way.

“Find out what the seller needs and then try to meet those needs,” Branchini advises. Here’s how.

Go in strong

Go ahead and get pre-approved for a loan – prequalifying just won’t cut it. And while you’re at it, go ahead and get an online appraisal for the house and have an inspection all lined up too when you make the offer.

“Less can go wrong because they’ve had the formal approval based on the house. And lenders are getting smarter and meeting the needs to compete with cash offers,” Branchini says.

Sometimes the all-cash offers are not the highest or best, so going in with more than the bare minimum down payment along with your financing will still show the buyer you are a serious contender. And forget lowballing. “You have to go in with your very best foot forward, put all your cash up front and then hope for the best,” Branchini says.

Lose the contingencies

Want to compete with cash? Sell your home now so when you make an offer it isn’t contingent on the sale. “That’s like the death sentence,” Branchini says.

And while all-cash buyers offer the benefit of closing within days, that isn’t very appealing to sellers in a hot market. Many of them are going to be in the same predicament of finding their next home now that their current one has sold. Being flexible the seller’s needs can boost your chances of success.

“I’ve got to keep these people in the house to go find another house,” Branchini says. “They need rent backs, they need to stay for a longer period time. So a 30-day close is actually not a terrible thing.”

Get personal

Sometimes all it takes to stand out is to make your offer personal – without imposing or veering into stalker territory. Branchini recently had a client who knew they were up against multiple offers, some cash, but were desperate to make the home theirs. Knowing a bit about the sellers they left a personal note on their front porch that included a bottle of wine and a toy for their dog.

And it was just the thing that put them over the top and got them the house.

“As long as you don’t knock on the door and disturb the owner I think it is a nice touch,” Branchini says.

Of course you don’t have to go as far as that – a simple note delivered with some flowers will set a nice tone without potentially putting you in personal contact.

The total package

Sometimes it’s all in the presentation and it’s hard to discount an offer so complete.

“My package has a cover letter, a letter from the buyer, the pre-approval letter, proof of funds to close a transaction, it has the offer and then if they’ve asked for disclosures it has that as well,” Branchini says. “Everything they possibly could need to make a decision is in one PDF.”

She strongly encourages buyers to write that personal letter to the seller. “You’ve got to touch both sides,” she says.” You’ve got to touch the warm, fuzzy seller and you’ve got to touch the financial seller.”

Two Years, One Year, Six Months: Your Get-Ready For a Mortgage Timeline

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Preparing for a mortgage is like planning for a big party. The more you do ahead of time, the less hectic things will be when the day finally arrives.

Getting a mortgage is a rigorous process that puts your financial life under a microscope. It isn’t just as easy as pulling your credit score. There are specific things you can do to prepare, at least two years in advance, to be ready for the day you find that special home.

What To Do Two Years Out

Two years before you apply for a mortgage get your credit in order. Especially if you have less than perfect credit, now is the time to rebuild yourself into a more attractive credit customer.

  • Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Changing jobs is fine. Changing careers is another issue. Mary Anne Daly, Senior Mortgage Advisor at Sindeo, says that “the magic number is two years.” Why does a lender care if you’ve changed careers? “From a lender’s perspective, they want to make sure that the new career works out.”
  • Clean Up Your Credit Report: Pull your full credit report. Look for anything that doesn’t seem to belong. Then investigate those trouble spots with an eye toward getting them removed. Daly notes that very old debts, those close to seven years, might fall off your credit report without you doing anything. She also says a lender can provide advice and guidance regarding what on your credit report might give them pause.
  • Pay Down Outstanding Debt: When it comes to your credit score, the second most important factor is the amount of debt you’re actively using. It’s also the factor you have the most control over. Old missed payments can’t be undone. Debt you’ve gone into can. So what’s the number one factor? Timely payments. “The best thing you can do is pay your bills on time,” says Daly. “Do that for two years and then you’re in good shape.”
  • Paying Off Old Accounts: There might be a negligible impact on your credit score for settling older debts in collections. From the perspective of a lender, however, it can make a big difference. When you settle a debt, you’re basically saying that you took on more debt than you could handle. That’s a big deal when potential lenders are taking a close look at your credit history. Daly recommends working on a payment plan with creditors.
  • Start Saving: The more you can save toward a down payment the better, though Daly says many people are surprised to hear that the old guideline of “20 percent” is largely a myth. Still, having a sizable down payment can help you to avoid taking on mortgage insurance, an extra payment often associated with lower down payments.
  • Keep Your Tax Returns: Other paperwork doesn’t have to have much of a legacy, but Daly says you should have at least two years of tax returns.

What To Do A Year Out

With a year to go before applying for a mortgage, you may be anxious. The good news is that you still have time to put some spit and polish on your future application.

  • Regularly Monitor Your Credit: You went through your existing credit a year ago. Hopefully you’ve been monitoring it in the meantime. If not, there are a number of free online services offering you a peek at your credit report. Check in once a month to make sure there are no irregularities.
  • Rework Your Budget: Remember, the more down payment you have the better. So with a year to go, why not look for savings in your budget. Cancel subscription services you’re no longer using, talk to your insurance providers about getting your rates lowered and throw the bulk of your tax refund into that down payment account.

What To Do Six Months Out

Now that you’re applying in six months, you’re getting really anxious to just start the process. Not yet. Now is the time to do a bit of fine tuning and get your ducks in a row before you apply.

  • Get Rid of Authorized User Accounts: Daly says that in the past, many people got added as authorized users on their parents credit cards to bump their credit up. Now, lenders are wise to that trick — and wary of people who are authorized users on credit cards. Sometimes lenders will go as far as to have you remove yourself from the credit card simply to run your credit as if you didn’t have it.
  • Check SindeoOne: SindeoOne’s rate quote can give you an idea of rates and what to expect for payment and costs. It’s quick, easy to fill out and can get you in the mindset of the home buying process.
  • Talk to a Mortgage Advisor: Different lenders have different criteria for mortgages. A mortgage advisor like Daly can give a fresh perspective on your finances. For example, many people don’t know that loans from family members, deposited in cash, can be a red flag. “Lenders don’t like people getting loans they don’t know about,” she says.

Applying for a mortgage doesn’t happen overnight, but you can make the mortgage application process a whole lot smoother — and potentially gain access to better loan services — when you prepare well in advance of application time. Now, that’s a reason for a party.

Bidding Wars: Top 5 Ways to Deliver a Winning Offer on Your Dream Home

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You finally found the home of your dreams. Trouble is, you’re probably not the only one vying for that property. Low inventory + appealing mortgage rates = a sizzling hot market. If you want your offer to rise to the top, you’re going to have to bring your A-game. Here’s how:

1. Get Pre-Approved

Now. (Seriously!) A mortgage pre-approval means you know how much home you can afford and allows you to make an immediate offer when you find “the one.”

“It shows the homeowner that you’re serious, which is what they are looking for,” says Amy Jurek, a real estate professional with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

2. Don’t Lowball

Don’t be “that guy” who wants to make a deal. “In a bidding situation, you will likely only have one chance to get it right, so make your first offer the very best offer that can work within your budget,” Jurek advises.

3. Flaunt Your Stuff

Adding a cover letter—or “love letter”—to your bid can allow the buyers to picture you (and only you!) in their cherished home. Tell the seller what you love about their home, whether it’s the kitchen where you’ll be entertaining or the amazing garden you will carefully tend. “The seller wants the home to go to someone who will love it as much as they do, so help them picture you making your own happy memories there,” says David Feldberg, broker/owner of Coastal Real Estate Group in Newport Beach, Calif.

Feldberg suggest you even take it a (selfie) step further. “Include a photo of yourself and your family—pets, too.”

4. Have Your People Call Their People

Sound old-fashioned? Here’s why it works. Talking with the listing agent will allow your agent to get the real scoop on the property, most notably if there are other offers and if they’re above asking price, says Realtor Victor Quiroz, sales manager for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Covina, California.

The more your agent knows, the better insight he or she can give you into writing a winning bid. “It’s easy to forget our smartphones have the ability to make calls too, but a call provides immediacy that texting or emailing lack,” he says. That’s key so you can get that offer in, stat.

It also helps to work with a local agent who has strong connections to the area where you are buying. An out-of-area agent won’t have the relationships you need in a multiple officer situation.

5. Make It Easy to Choose You

If the seller has multiple offers, they’ll likely dismiss one that’s not complete, says Feldberg. They want a quick, easy sale; so double-check that your offer includes loan approval, proof of funds, that love letter, and any other documentation that will show the seller you are willing and able to buy the home. Finally, offer to work within the seller’s time frame, whether that means being willing to work around a quick closing, or offering flexibility to accommodate a seller’s desired move-out day, suggests Jurek.

4 Lessons March Madness Can Teach About Homebuying

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For college basketball fans, March is an all-encompassing, schedule-rearranging, emotional roller coaster.  “March Madness” doesn’t just take over your free time, but your news feed, work conversations, and of course, that anguished bracket.

If you’re considering buying a home, be prepared for the same kind of excitement. Settle in and get ready for the ride of a lifetime. Here are four lessons potential homebuyers can learn from March Madness.

1. You’re going to be surprised.

Nearly every year, Americans fall in love with some small college basketball team that unexpectedly upsets a traditional winner. Maybe it’s Austin Peay State University, Middle Tennessee State, or some other little-known team who comes from behind and wins the hearts of fans. Similarly, you may assume you know exactly what you’re looking for in a home, but by being open-minded, you may fall in love with something else entirely. A new construction home with all the bells and whistles may be tempting, but the updated bungalow with a large backyard and mature trees may offer the charm and personality you didn’t even know you wanted.

2. The final number is all that matters.

A basketball team doesn’t get extra points for being ranked higher than its opponent, or for being up by 20 points at halftime. All that really matters for advancing in the tournament is what the scoreboard says at the final buzzer. In the same way, your mortgage provider may have advertised a super-low interest rate last year when you started looking for houses, or even last week. But if you haven’t locked it in, that low rate will not be your rate. The only one that really matters is the lowest one you can get when you’re actually ready to buy the home.

3. There’s no substitute for effective coaching.

Any team can have a standout player for a couple of years who leads them to a strong, if not amazing, showing in the tournament. But the teams who build legacies for always performing well, year after year, aren’t riding on one or two great players. They are led by a great coach who knows what his players need and how to communicate it to them, year after year. Like in basketball, you’ll have a better chance of mortgage success if you have an informed, experienced advisor.Mortgage advisors are knowledgeable about a wide variety of mortgage types and can guide you in finding the mortgage that will work best for your particular situation.

4. Always expect the unexpected.

Your March Madness bracket is completely theoretical. Every game results in another winner and another loser, changing the eventual outcome of the tournament. Similarly, the mortgage process can have stops and starts, changing closing dates and requests for additional information. You can handle the process best by being flexible, preparing to respond to requests promptly, and taking changes in stride. Every provider has different timeframes so make sure they can work with what you need.

When the tournament ends, the team that stands tall gets a trophy—and when you stay committed through the mortgage process, you get the house you wanted for the loan that works best for you.

Back To Basics: Mortgage 101

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When you start the home financing process, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life deserves more than a trial and error education. In school, you learned your numbers, then algebra, and eventually probability and statistics, but personal finance was probably not on the list. It simply isn’t taught.

If you’re just starting the process of shopping for your mortgage (yes, shopping for it) here are a few basics to get you started:

Get up to speed on your lingo and your letters…

There is a unique language in the mortgage industry and you need to translate it fast. LTV, ARM, HELOC, APR … if you feel like you’re swimming in acronym soup —we understand.

Here are a few of the most important (and often used) terms you can learn right now:

  • ARM: Adjustable Rate Mortgages are those in which the interest rate paid on the balance changes according to certain benchmarks.
  • LTV: This is the loan-to-value ratio. It is a risk-assessment ratio used by lenders that compares the amount you’re borrowing to the value of the property.
  • APR: The Annual Percentage Rate gives you the cost of the money you’re borrowing. It reflects the amount you’re borrowing plus things like points, fees and other charges.

Get up to speed by brushing up on mortgage lingo with these helpful articles: Don’t Swim in Acronym Soup: 12 Mortgage Terms Translated and Decoding Mortgage Acronyms.

How important is your credit…

Remember that time you maxed out your credit card on that last minute getaway with your friends or partner? Bet you weren’t thinking about applying for your first mortgage then. Your credit score is the lender’s compass for how financially responsible you are —and whether or not you can handle more debt.

Here are a few credit score facts to keep in mind:

  • 580 is the minimum for an FHA low down payment loan
  • 620 is the minimum for most conventional programs
  • 740 is the magic number most experts will suggest to get a good rate
  • 780+ puts you in the absolute best position to get the lowest rates available


The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the 3 nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide a free copy of your credit report once a year. You just have to ask. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

If your credit score could use some help, check out our tips to fix mistakes on your credit report.

How to know what loan is best for you

There are so many different loan types and programs available to today’s homebuyers. From VA and FHA loans to Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) and fixed rate, what’s right for you? Selecting the mortgage that’s best for you is a crucial part of the homebuying process.

A few key things to think about:

Do you see yourself living in the home long term or short term? Are you planning on expanding your family size and will need more space? Will you be relocating or downsizing?

If the answer is long term, a 30 year fixed will likely be a good fit. For many first time homebuyers who plan to start small and upsize later, a shorter term ARM will give them more buying power to get in the market.

If you are a veteran, VA loans allow you to do 100% financing with no down payment. If you’re not a vet but still need lower down payment solutions, there are a number of options including conventional loans with as little as 3% down and FHA loans with a low 3.5% down payment. If you have less than 20% for a down payment, mortgage insurance may be required. With conventional loans it can be canceled when the loan balance reaches 80% loan-to-value (LTV), with FHA loans, the upfront mortgage insurance and monthly mortgage insurance that cannot be canceled).  When you’re ready to select a loan program, Sindeo will walk you through all of the different options and what total costs will be over the life of the loan.

What kind of property will you buy? Typically condos with a 20% down payment with higher interest rates than single-family residence; investment properties typically require more down payment and higher interest rates than primary residence

When to lock in your rate …

You might not pay a lot of attention to interest rates, but when it comes to your mortgage they’re crucial. Even the smallest fluctuation can mean you pay thousands more over the course of your mortgage’s life.

Typically, when you lock your rate, you are protected from rising rates, but you are also locked out of improved rates. Typical locked periods are 15 days, 20 days, 30 days, etc. The shorter the period, the better the rate/pricing, but if you don’t close on time, rate extension costs are very expensive. Make sure the lender is comfortable closing within the locked period prior to locking.

How to know when to lock in your rate?

If you’re buying a home, the earliest you can lock your rate is when you have a ratified purchase contract.

  1. If you’re buying a new construction home, the earliest you should lock is at least 30-45 days prior to project completion.
  2. In volatile market conditions or in a rising rate environment like today, it’s safer to lock as soon as you can.
  3. In a low rate environment, you can float your rate and watch the mortgage market, and lock in a shorter period when you get closer to closing.
  4. Check with your lender on how long it will take to close prior to locking. A longer rate lock is more expensive.

What’s involved with closing costs

It might sound small with the amount you are already spending, but all the costs add up and you deserve to know what’s included. How do you know if they’re calculated right? Have you saved enough? Can the seller contribute?

Closing costs vary from lender to lender, but range from about 2-5% of the purchase price of the home. Always ask for the Loan Estimate and use the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) to compare rates and true closing costs between lenders. The APR takes into account both the interest rate and the loan costs like origination fee, discount points, credit report, appraisal, etc. The Loan Estimate gives you a breakdown of the loan costs and other costs.

Can you really shop around for a mortgage?

Did you search Amazon before you bought your coffee maker? Browse Yelp for the best Pad Thai in town? Now, you can shop for your mortgage and save thousands over the course of your loan.

With SindeoOne, you run your credit only once, and you can shop over 1,000 loan programs with 45 lenders with a single application that often takes less than 5 minutes to complete.  Remember, multiple hard credit inquiries after 30 days can hurt your credit score. Ready to start shopping? Click the button below!

Unhappy With Your Credit Score? 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get It Back on Track

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Key Takeaways:

  • A recent study found that more than a third of Americans are not happy with their credit score.
  • Whether you are unhappy with your score or it is suffering after some recent big purchases,  there are steps you can take to improve it.
  • Here are three things you can do right now to boost your credit score.

Unhappy With Your Credit Score? 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get It Back on Track

Its the end of the month, the bills are in and you realize how busy youve been. Whether it was a last minute get away with your friends or a few exciting splurges during the post-holiday sales, you should make sure any hits to your credit are fixed as soon as possible.

Even when we know our credit scores can impact everything from mortgage applications to turning on utilities, sometimes we don’t take as much care as we should to protect them.

A new study shows that a third of Americans are not happy with their credit scores, and 28% are not confident that their current score can help them reach their goals.

If you’re ready to make a change and want to improve your credit score, here are three things you must do:

#1 Don’t Miss Payments  

Your payment history is the biggest and most emphasized component of your credit score. Lenders want to know that you can meet your monthly payment obligation. Credit scores give them an indication of how financially responsible you are and whether or not you can handle more debt.

Credit scoring companies look at the percentage of your monthly bills that have been paid on time over the past 24+ months for each of your accounts. Late payments, particularly those that are long past due or delinquent, can cause damage to your score.

What to do:

  • Eliminate delinquent accounts by paying the past due amount or call and negotiate a payment plan with the creditor.
  • Consider setting up automatic payments for your bills to ensure you are not making late payments.
  • Add bill due dates to your calendar and set up reminders to keep you on track.

#2 Keep Balances Low

Your credit card balances have a direct impact on your credit score. In fact, the amount owed on your accounts —or your credit utilization— can make up roughly 30% of your total credit score. Those who keep a low credit utilization (most experts suggest under 30% of your credit limit), tend to have higher credit scores.

How to do it …

  • Whenever possible, pay off your balance each month. Keeping a balance is not only expensive because of the interest you’re paying, but it also prevents you from keeping ongoing balances low.
  • Find out when the creditor reports to the credit bureaus. If your payment is due on the 5th, but your credit card company reports on the 1st, your credit utilization may not reflect your payments.
  • Lastly, consider asking for a credit increase. Keep in mind that this will likely result in a hard pull of your credit, but over the long-haul it could have a positive impact on your credit score.

#3 Be Patient

Repairing your credit and waiting for your FICO score to bounce back can take time. If you’re planning on getting a new mortgage or are considering refinancing your existing mortgage, it’s a good idea to review your credit report and check your FICO score at least 6-12 months prior to applying, make the appropriate efforts to improve the score.

How to do it …

  • Check your credit score by requesting a free copy of your report. Look for any mistakes or misrepresentations. If you find mistakes, here’s how you can fix them.
  • Don’t make any big changes like adding a new credit card, purchasing a car or closing any long-standing accounts.
  • Check your score again in 6-8 months or sign up for ongoing credit monitoring to keep watch on your score. Sites like MyFICO.com provide monthly credit score monitoring and can be a great option for staying on top of your score.

Putting the Power Back in Your Hands

Taking charge of your credit —deciding to make improvements, focusing on the plan and sticking with it— puts the power back in your hands. Don’t leave your credit score to fate!

When your credit score is on track and youre ready to shop for a mortgage or a refinance, SindeoOne allows you to shop more than 1,000 loan programs by filling out a single application that can take less than 5 minutes. A qualified Sindeo mortgage advisor can help you explore your options.

Dont settle for a low credit score. Dont settle for the old way of finding a mortgage. SindeoOne can help you find the right program for your homeownership goals.

Buyers Are Searching For Your House online now


best deal condos

The most recent data from the National Association of Realtors revealed a slight bump in contracts with an increase of 1.6% in December. This news comes as existing home sales are also forecasted to be on pace for 5.54 million in 2017, a 1.7% over 2016, which was the best year for sales in a decade.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed.

According to NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun,

“Pending sales bounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels to sign a contract.”

The Bottom Line is

Buyers are out in force right now! If you are considering selling your home this year, the early months of 2017 will be your best option. Contact a local professional today to capitalize on current market conditions.

So the story this year will be in the early months of 2017 inventory in south florida will remain tight and price will will keep inching up

For More information on th”South Florida foreclosures”, “Florida foreclosure list”, “Florida housing market values”, “Miami Distressed Commercial investments”, “South Florida real estate deals”, “Miami courthouse auctions”, “Miami courthouse foreclosures”, “Florida spec homes”e following Give us a call 954-880-2550

6 Ways To Get Your Financial House In Order and Stay There

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Key Takeaways:

  • If getting your financial house in order is on your “to-do” list this year, these tips will help you achieve that goal.
  • Explore six ways that you can start getting your financial house in order and the resources you need for success.

Giving Up On Your New Years Resolutions Already? 6 Ways To Get Your Financial House In Order and Stay There

Chances are you made a few promises at the end of 2016 – maybe it was to lose a few pounds, clean out your house or something realistic like get your financial house in order.  Roughly 42% of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up after week four.  Don’t be a statistic. Getting your financial house in order and achieving financial freedom is a dream of many —and with hard work, diligence and a plan, you can do it.

#1. Find the Best Deals  

Take inventory of all your home’s operating costs including cable and internet services, utilities like power and gas, telephone, yard and pool maintenance and others. Shop around to see if rates and packages have improved since you signed on with the service.

Cable and internet companies are always running specials and want to keep your business. If you live in a state where your energy is deregulated, you may be able to find a better rate. And, if you have  not compared in-home services like housekeeping, pool cleaning and landscaping, you’re likely spending too much.

Set your alarm for six months from now to review all your services again. Its a great habit to always be on top of your charges and shop the best available deals.

#2. Stay On-Top of Your Credit

We all know the importance of our credit; it impacts so many areas of our financial lives. Request a copy of your credit report and review it for any mistakes or errors. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months, and can do so here.

If something isnt right, heres how to fix mistakes on your credit report . Once they are resolved, here are ways to improve your credit score too.

Monthly credit monitoring services can help you stay on-top of your credit score. It will help you gain a better understanding of how small changes in your financial life can have a big impact on your score.

#3. Save More, Automatically

Out of sight, out of mind —right? This year, resolve to save more. By setting up automatic payments to yourself, you can make the process of saving easier. Also be sure to max out your 401(k), or at least contribute what you will get in your company match. There’s no reason to leave that money on the table.

If you’re saving for a new home, you might also consider some of these creative ways to save for a down payment.

#4. Be (Properly) Insured

Insurance companies (much like your cable and internet providers) often give introductory rates to gain your business, but as time passes your rates start to go up. Part of your yearly review of your finances should include reviewing your insurance policies to ensure 1) you have the coverage you need and 2) you’re not paying too much.

Many insurance companies give a discount if you hold several policies with them —home, auto, life, etc. You might consider consolidating to get a better deal. And, if you can afford a higher deductible, you could also save on your monthly premium. Just make sure you resolve to explore your coverage options and costs to make sure you have the package that works best for you.

#5. Reduce Your Debt

Your debt-to-income ratio, as well as your credit utilization, have a major impact on your credit worthiness. Paying down your debt is not only good practice, it gives you more room to leverage credit in ways that make sense for your financial situation.

Clark Howard offers these 5 simple steps to getting out of debt, while Becoming Minimalist suggests these 33 proven ways to reduce personal debt —some of which are quite creative.  

#6. Review Your Mortgage

The terms of your mortgage may have worked for you at the time you purchased your home, but it’s likely a lot has changed. Do you have a sustainable mortgage to help you retain your home? Is your mortgage type right for your financial goals? Could you reduce your total debt and interest rate payments by consolidating loans?

With SindeoOne, you can explore over 1,000 loan options with a single application that can take less than five minutes to complete. Our experienced mortgage advisors will also help educate and advise you on all your options so you can make the best decision for your family.