5 Things home buyers should know about credit scores

September 18th, 2014

“Your credit score.” This phrase can often spark both anxiety and confusion in your clients, and rightly so.

This three-digit number plays a fundamental role in their finances, and can affect everything from their employment potential to their ability to apply for mortgages. Not only does a weak score damage your clients’

creditworthiness, it will also cost them more money in the long run.

People with a weak credit rating will pay approximately $250,000 more in interest throughout their working lives than those with stronger scores. Therefore, given the weight that this number carries, it is integral that your homebuyers know the ins and outs of their credit score in order for them to create successful financial futures. If you find that your client is concerned about their credit score, discussing the points below may help to give them peace of mind.

1. Your credit score is a gauge of your ability to make your mortgage payments.

Your credit score, or credit rating, is a three digit number that gauges your financial responsibility by measuring your ability to manage your credit and make payments on time. The term “credit score” generally refers to your FICO score, a number calculated by the Fair Isaac Corporation. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, with scores above 700 being ideal, scores below 600 being problematic, and scores falling between 680 to 720 being average. These numbers determine whether you are a high or low risk. A person with a score of 700 or higher is considered low risk and is more likely to be approved for mortgages and loans, while a person with a score of 600 or lower is considered high risk and is unlikely to receive credit of any sort.

One positive aspect of credit ratings is that they are constantly changing and updating, so each month you have the opportunity to improve your credit history, which will improve your credit score. However, it is important to remember that serious damage to your credit score may take years to repair, and therefore it is important to achieve and maintain an average to above average credit score in order to prevent bad credit from accumulating.

2. You don’t need a perfect credit score to get low interest rates on your mortgage.

Though it is possible to obtain a perfect credit score and it is certainly a goal to strive for, it is not necessary for you to have an 850 FICO score in order for you to obtain the lowest interest rates. There is almost no difference between the credit terms or interest rates offered to people with an 800 compared to people with a perfect 850.

Another point you should consider is that, though you may be able to achieve a perfect credit score, there is no guarantee that it will remain a perfect 850, and there is also no guarantee that if that number drops you will be able to bring it back up.  Your credit score is a constantly fluctuating number, and a perfect 850 is not worth spending copious amounts of time worrying over. In order for you to have the best rates as a consumer, your main concern should be to achieve a healthy credit score and maintain that score.

3. There are no quick fixes for credit scores, but bad credit isn’t necessarily permanent.

There are a number of ways to improve your credit score, however, there is no fast and easy way to do so. In fact, when you attempt a “quick fix” it is likely that you will do more harm than good. An important point to remember is that, though damaged credit may be daunting it is not permanent. Therefore, the best way to improve or repair damaged credit is to keep a level head and devise a strategy for rebuilding your credit properly and responsibly.

4. Credit counseling can help.

Many people are wary of credit counseling since they believe that it will negatively affect their credit score. This could not be further from the truth. The Fair Isaac Coordination, the company responsible for the majority of credit scores, sums up credit counseling by stating that:

“Simply obtaining counseling has no bearing on your credit score, as it is not reported to the credit bureau. Therefore, people should not have any hesitation about seeking the help they need to resolve their debt, housing or other financial issues. However, the actions you take based on the recommendations of a credit counselor may sometimes affect your score”.

Credit counseling can only help to rebuild and reestablish your credit score and financial freedom. It is up to you to decide whether or not you wish to follow their advice. Bottom line? It is you and you alone that is responsible for your credit score.

5. You can monitor your credit report for free.

Credit monitoring is perhaps one of the best ways to keep an eye on your credit score. The best way to do a credit “checkup” is by requesting a free credit report at least once a year from an organization such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Checking your report will provide you with information on any significant changes, will alert you to any suspicious activity on your accounts, and will not have any negative effect on your credit score.

The ugly truth: 4 home pricing mistakes

September 15th, 2014

You know it all too well. When selling a home, your pricing strategy makes or breaks your chances determining home prices
for a quick sale. Pricing isn’t always a simple, straightforward process, and can often waste time and money and lead to frustration for both you and the seller. Here, top real estate agents and brokers share the most common home pricing mistakes they see and how to fix them:

Mistake #1: Ending a price in 9

“Previously, the trend in pricing was to end everything in a nine like they do in grocery and retail stores, but that doesn’t work for online real estate searches,” says Deborah Bacarella of Elite Florida Real Estate. “I find that when the seller prices at $599,000, you lose all the homebuyers who started their search at $600K.”

The fix: Price in even increments to capture more online searchers.

Mistake #2: Sizing up your neighbors

“The most common pricing mistake I have seen in my 14 years in the real estate business is the seller comparing their house to the house that sold down the street or around the corner,” says Candy Miles-Crocker, an associate broker at Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc in Washington, DC. “Every seller thinks their house is much better than the house that sold down the street and should therefore be priced higher. When this happens sellers are rarely comparing apples-to-apples and don’t take into consideration that the other house had features and amenities that their home doesn’t have.”

The fix: Make sure you understand that the comprehensive comparative market analysis you provide will give them a more accurate pricing-strategy than just comparing themselves to the neighbors.

Mistake #3: Pricing too high from the start

Many buyers will overlook a home in the first few weeks if it’s listed too high. By the time you reduce the price, many of those initial buyers may have already found something else or will expect a discount. “In our Minneapolis / St Paul real estate market we have a two week window at the beginning of the listing period to get the highest price. After that time consumers want a discount,” says Alyssa Granlund a top selling real estate agent at Edina Realty for the last 25 years.

The fix: “If you have an agent that who is not willing to price where you believe the value is, discuss and agree that once you have had 10 showings without an offer it is time for a price reduction down ,” says Granlund. ainst.

Mistake #4: $1 in does not mean $1 out

“Many sellers want to be paid for the improvements they made to their house. While some improvements will add value, they often times don’t add dollar for dollar value,” says Miles-Crocker. “I once worked with a seller who had custom windows that cost $2,000 each. I told him that to a buyer they were just windows, but he thought that they added dollar-for-dollar value to the home. Needless to say I didn’t get the listing because we couldn’t agree on the price, but the house never sold and he eventually rented out the property.”

The fix: Review a comprehensive competitive analysis, and adjust appropriately for home improvements.

9 Real Estate Missteps That Put You In Danger

September 11th, 2014

Below are 9 real estate safety mistakes that put you and your clients in danger, as well as how to avoid them.

  1. Not screening buyers. Listing agents can recommend that sellers do NOT show their home to buyers who have not been pre-screened, which protects clients from predators and thieves. In addition, it also saves the sellers time and hassle by allowing them to determine serious buyers.
  2. Not protecting valuables. Valuables should be placed in a safe deposit box or lock box until the home is no longer being shown. This includes jewelry, antiques, cash or checks, spare keys, etc.
  3. Not monitoring vacant homes. Vacant homes are not invulnerable to theft and other pitfalls. Advise homeowners to take the necessary precautions by purchasing vacant home insurance, or by engaging in preventative measures such as taking pictures of the home before furniture is moved out or asking neighbors to keep an eye on the home.
  4. Not accompanying the buyer. Even after the buyer has been carefully screened, there are measures agents can take to help keep seller clients and their possessions safe. Whenever possible, you should show a property in-person and in teams, especially when going to a home without close neighbors and/or with an unfamiliar buyer. Having two agents at a showing helps, particularly if multiple buyers want to explore different parts of the home.
  5. Not locking doors and windows. A ‘For Sale’ sign in the front yard can invite crime into a home. When showing a home, make sure to lock the door behind you once you are inside to prevent others from entering the home after you. It is perfectly acceptable for potential buyers to open doors and windows to see how they operate, however, your job as the agent is to remember to make a final check to ensure all the doors and windows are locked.
  6. Not identifying potential hazards. A variety of hazards are common in different parts of the country. Some examples of these potentially deadly hazards include lead paint, radon, and asbestos. It is vitally important to inform buyers of these hazards if they are present in the home. In addition, it may be necessary to disclose issues with other attributes of the home, such as the water, heat, and waste disposal systems.
  7. Not conducting a home inspection. A home inspection is advisable for both old and new construction. When problems become apparent, getting the professional opinion of someone other than the municipal building inspector is generally a good idea.
  8. Not informing potential buyers of the crime rate. Safety is a concern for most people, making  it a wise choice to refer clients to websites or the local police department so they can research the crime in the neighborhood.
  9. Not protecting the home after closing. Buyers should be advised to talk to an insurance agent to assess their particular insurance needs. There are basic, broad, and multi-peril policies, among others. It is best to refer the buyer to an insurance professional rather than advise them yourself.

Want to learn more ways to keep yourself safe during real estate transactions? Call me I put you first

4 Signs of a Seller’s Market

June 15th, 2014

Around the nation, the number of homes listed for sale is down and buyers are left chasing after a shrinking supply of decent real estate. Basic economics tells us that if the trend holds, prices will continue to go up. This trend is called a seller’s market. You may be wondering what it means for those about to buy or sell a home.

Supply and Demand
The housing market is, like any other market, driven by supply and demand. In a seller’s market, there are few homes for sale relative to the number of buyers wanting to make a purchase. Buyers compete for the low housing stock, which drives the prices up. You’ll only ever see bidding wars and contingency-free offers in a seller’s market.

A seller’s market can blanket an entire country, state or city. At a local level, seller’s markets may be confined to a single neighborhood or street. These hubs have consistently tight inventory and, thanks to their great schools, transport links, architecture and community involvement, stay largely immune from market fluctuations.

Sale Statistics
Real estate professionals are the first to spot trends in the market. Average inventory is about six months. This means that, in a balanced market—one that favors neither buyers nor sellers—there are enough homes on hand to keep the market moving at its current pace for the next half-year. When inventory drops below six months, the market is shifting towards a seller’s market.

A second statistic, the Sales-to-Listing ratio, compares the number of listings taken to the number of sales achieved in any given period. A result of 55 percent or greater—55 sales for every 100 listings—is considered a seller’s market. A result of 35 percent or lower—35 sales for every 100 listings—is considered a buyer’s market. Anything in between favors neither party.

The final indicator is the Sales-to-List Price (SLP) ratio. This measures the final sale price of a property relative to its list price. A ratio of 100 means that the home sold for exactly its list price—a sure sign of a seller’s market. In 2004 and 2005, the median SLP for some states was near 100 percent. In 2008, when house prices went into free-fall, the ratio took a massive dive.

Real estate markets are local and each of these ratios mean different things in different neighborhoods. Local agents work within the ranges that define a particular market for a particular locality. As with all ratios, market measures have a high end and a low end. Just because a home is in a low-end seller’s market, doesn’t mean that it will sell quickly for a higher price. It simply means that, on a balance of probabilities, more potential buyers are able and willing to buy the home.

Homes Sales

Homes Sales

Prices Continue to Rise Inventory Still Low

June 15th, 2014

The big story is still lack of inventory … and that is driving prices gains for Sellers. 

• The available months of supply dropped to 4.7 months versus was 6.6 months in February. 6 months of supply is considered the bare minimum for ‘normal’ conditions.

• For the Greater Metro Atlanta area, listed inventory was up 7% from February and up 19% compared to March 2013. Still, the limited availability of quality properties has provided for a Seller’s Market.

• Closings for Metro Atlanta in January were up 18% over last month but down 12% vs previous year.

• Pending were up 42% from the previous month showing a surge in spring closings upcoming.

• The pace of short sales and foreclosures coming on the market has slowed considerably. In March, we only had 169 foreclosures and 188 bank-owned sales. New construction is roaring back.

• The Case-Shiller Index reports that Metro Atlanta home values have increased 37% from the bottom of March 2012. But values remain down 17% from the peak of July 2007.

• The trend for mortgage rates is that they seem to be stable or dropping. Conventional rates are still hovering below 5%

Spring Recovery: Dead on Arrival?

April 28th, 2014


Spring Recovery: Dead on Arrival?

just in from DS NEWS ,, Seller Read Fast and Ack Faster.

The Long and Short of it .. with lenders setting tighter guidelines and low inventory the market is cooling faster than expected. Which could result in declining values as Buyers become more cautious. My advice List Today Be SOLD before the market slows as midsummer approaches

Market analysts are dialing back on their expectations for the housing sector this year following reports of continued sluggishness in what should have been the start of a busier season.

In a report issued earlier this week, Fitch Ratings announced it is tapering its forecast for 2014 in acknowledgement of what has so far been a “subpar spring selling season.”

Sales of both new and existing homes in March fell short of expectations, dashing optimistic projections of a rebound following the end of an unusually harsh winter. Housing starts also disappointed as homebuilders remain concerned about the shape of the market.

Looking past spring, Fitch’s report focuses on expected growth throughout the rest of the year, with housing starts and new home sales forecast to see percentage gains in the mid-teens. Average median new home prices, meanwhile, are expected to rise about 3.5 percent, a substantial moderation from growth over the past two years, which was largely seen as unsustainable.

However, even with early numbers coming up short, with two months left in the season, some commentators are saying it’s too early to write off spring as a disappointment just yet—including Bob Curran and Robert Rulla, directors and homebuilding analysts at Fitch.

“The biggest message that we put out was that we do see so far … that [spring data] is disappointing relative to expectations,” Curran said. “[I]t was a very good spring last year, so the comparisons are kind of tough.”

Over the coming months, Curran says he expects to see more favorable year-over-year comparisons.

Furthermore, while data released so far might not be stacking up well against forecasts, Rulla sees little reason to be skeptical about summer projections: “There’s a little bit more caution given what transpired the first three months of the year, but we think that there’s still going to be growth in the overall housing market in 2014.”

As far as March’s low sales numbers are concerned, one thing to keep in mind is that inventory remains limited across the country and is especially weak in certain areas.

“Interpreting low sales volume in March as bearish—we think that’s misguided,” said Mike Simonsen, co-founder and CEO of real estate data firm Altos Research. “It doesn’t tell you anything about the actual demand for those homes. You can’t tell how many people want to buy homes by how many are sold.”

By Altos’ measure, the housing cycle is set to peak at the end of June before falling off into the fall and winter, as it does every year. Using that “map,” Simonsen says the company has good visibility on what the year as a whole should look like and predicts a 10 percent increase—an optimistic outlook compared to most others.

Meanwhile, at Clear Capital, the company is terming the latest slowdown in price changes “the new normal.”

“Even though we’ll see improved housing metrics across the board this summer, it won’t be the banner year that 2013 was,” said Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP of research and analytics for the company’s Data Division. “I think it’ll be more measured, [and] I think it’ll be more localized … it may not show up in the national housing metrics numbers, but it certainly will be in certain markets.”

For the near future, Villacorta says the numbers to watch will be those in the mid-tier housing segment, where the most housing activity traditionally takes place. That happens to be a particularly weak area, though he believes even a small boost in the next month or two will help put the market back on more stable footing compared to the year’s early months.

“I think just seeing the signs of activity may turn the tides of confidence in consumers,” he said. “Probably in about 45 days, we’ll know what’s happening in spring fully.”

Spring Brings UpSwing in Home Sales Inventory Remains Low

April 22nd, 2014
Home sales inventory

Spring Brings Uptick in Home Sales, But Inventory Remains Low

Time to sell is when ?

Time to sell is when ?

Following weak home sales during the first two months of the year resulting from extreme winter weather, March sales picked up 24.6 percent across the 52 metros measured .

However, despite the significant increase, March sales are 10.1 percent below their year-ago level.

With sales rebounding just in time for spring homebuying season, the market continues to demonstrate its persistent trends of rising prices and low inventory.

“A low supply of homes for sale continues to characterize today’s market,”  Housing inventory is down 0.2 percent over the month and 5.9 percent over the year.

Current inventory stands at a 4.1 month supply. A six-month supply indicates a balanced market.

As a result of low inventory, homes continue to fly off the market rather quickly. For the past 22 months, the average home sold was listed for sale for fewer than 90 days. In March, the average home sold spent 77 days on the market.

Meager inventory has helped push prices ever higher. The median sales price in March was $186,941, according to reports demonstrating a 3.6 percent increase over the month and an 8.8 percent increase from last year. March marks the 26th consecutive month of home price increases, according to  data.

Forty-one of the 52 metros observed in recent reports recorded annual price increases in March.

“Clearly, unexpected winter storms resulted in a slow start for housing this year, but the strong rebound in March sales could build momentum for spring and summer,” .





Looking for a Great Online Storage Solution – App RevIew of CloudHQ

April 13th, 2014

CloudHQ syncs your cloud from the cloudCloudHQ-logo

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a lot of cloud storage spread out across multiple cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync, and Microsoft SkyDrive. And while I’ve already migrated most of my digital life to Google Drive, I still keep the other services around and use them to store a few miscellaneous files here and there. I’ve also found that, while I think Google Drive is the most robust and versatile cloud storage provider of those I’ve mentioned, Dropbox has much better third-party app support – not to mention the fact that people I work with share files using a variety of different services, including Dropbox, SugarSync, and SkyDrive.

In other words, even though I personally prefer Google Drive, I’m still finding it difficult to completely abandon all of the other cloud storage services. Luckily, CloudHQ makes managing and syncing multiple cloud storage services incredibly simple – and you don’t even have to install any extra software on your desktop, making it a perfect service to use on my Samsung Chromebook.

Here’s how the service works: first, you sign up for a free trial at CloudHQ’s website using your Google account, and you select the services you want to sync. In my case, I decided that I wanted to sync my Dropbox and Google Drive accounts first, although you can also select Basecamp, SugarSync, Box, Evernote, SkyDrive, and SalesForce. And just in case you ever need help along the way, there’s a convenient chat box that appears on the lower, left hand side of the screen.


Their list of supported services is:

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • SugarSync
  • Basecamp Classic
  • Basecamp
  • Evernote
  • SkyDrive
  • box
  • Gmail
  • salesforce

Among these services I use three combinations together with Google Drive which I will describe in the following.

Google Drive + Dropbox

As described before this is my main use case for cloudHQ. I have a Dropbox subfolder in Google Drive and cloudHQ simply synchronizes that folder with my Dropbox: whenever I put a file in the Dropbox on my laptop it is uploaded to the Dropbox servers and from there synchronized to Google Drive so I have it available on my Chromebook. This all happens within the range of a few seconds, so there is not really any relevant delay. The web interface also has a component to view and resolve conflicting files but I did not encounter a situation to use that yet.

One particularly interesting feature here is the automatic conversion of files to the Google Docs format. If you enable that feature all compatible files are converted to their corresponding Google Docs formats in Google Drive and you can edit them in Google Docs right away. If you disable this feature you can also simply import the documents in Google Docs and they are converted on the fly. The automatic conversion is also particularly interesting if you enable offline synchronization in Google Drive/Docs. Then you basically have all your compatible documents from your Dropbox also synchronized offline to your Chromebook. So if you often travel with your Chromebook outside of any network coverage this could be very useful.

Google Drive + Evernote

I use Evernote for taking notes in meetings and conferences or to prepare notes for meetings. Unfortunately the Evernote app on ChromeOS does not support offline synchronization of the notes from Evernote. Here also cloudHQ helps by synchronizing my notes from Evernote to Google Docs documents in Google Drive which are then also available offline.

Google Drive + box

As a third small use case I also enabled  synchronization between a subfolder in Google Drive and my box account. I don’t really use box for anything, but it supports access via WebDAV. Mounting a WebDAV folder on a Linux machine is a lot easier than installing the Dropbox client. So if I ever want to get some files from a machine into Google Drive quickly, this would be my fallback solution.

To sum up, cloudHQ is a very, very useful service. If you have a Chromebook and also use cloud services outside the Google ecosystem, it might even be a must-have for you. One last remark: I did not have to get in touch with the cloudHQ support yet, but from what I heard they seem to be very nice and competent.

Gwinnett County Property Tax Appeal

April 8th, 2014

Gwinnett County Property Tax Appeal download (1)

How can I appeal my Property Tax Appeal

Did you receive your Gwinnett County Property Tax Assessment? Do you think it is too high and want to appeal the taxes?

As in years past if you feel your property tax assessment is too high and want to appeal it we can offer some assistance to you.

For the past 5 years we have provided to residents comparable home sales based on your homes size and configuration that will better prepare you to appeal the taxes. We do not charge a fee to do this for you.

If you would like this information please email me and I will get the comparable home sales to you. Please be patient with this however. We get a number of these requests and it does take some time to prepare the comparable sales and forward them to you.

Here is what I need in order to help you:

Email address
Home specs: Bedrooms, full baths, slab or basement (if on a basement, is the basement finished or unfinished)

Email me at EricGReid@GMail.com

PS: Home values are going up this year and if you want to appeal this is the year to do it. Next year, I would expect a much higher increase in the taxes.

PSS: This information does not replace hiring a professional tax assessment company to complete a full appeal for you. These companies are well worth the money.

Getting in touch with your REALTOR® shouldn’t be complicated
Just Dial 770-277-6652 (Talk, Text, Fax) always here to help with your real estate needs. 
note this does not have an http;// etc in front of it

Short Sale / Foreclosure Sales and Investor Purchases Fall in February

March 27th, 2014

With Spring around the corner Sellers are starting to ask, “is now a good time to Sell my house?” The answer is YES with limited inventor and few distressed properties on the market Buyers are hunting hard for great homes and willing to pay a strong fair market value. So don’t wait till spring list today.

Short Sale / Foreclosure Sales and Investor Purchases Fall in February

Author: Colin Robins March 26, 2014clipped

Short Sale / Foreclosure Sales and Investor Purchases Fall in February

U.S. residential sale volume decreased in February, with distressed sales and investor purchases also pulling back for the month.

RealtyTrac’s February 2014 Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report found that U.S. residential properties slid .2 percent from January, but remain up 7 percent from the same time period a year ago.

U.S. residential properties, which consist of single-family residences, condominiums, and townhomes, sold at an estimated annual pace of 5,083,241 for the month of February.

The national median sales price for non-distressed and distressed homes averaged to $164,667, a 1.0 percent drop from month-to-month. Prices remain elevated on a yearly basis, posting a 4.0 percent increase.

The median price for distressed homes was reported as $96,606, 44 percent below the non-distressed price of $172,339.  February was the 20th consecutive month that the U.S. median price increased or stayed flat, and the second consecutive month with a monthly decrease.

February also marked the fourth consecutive month where sales activity decreased from month-to-month, driven largely by monthly decreases in 31 states.

“Supply and demand have reached a bit of a standoff in this uneven real estate recovery,” said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac. “The supply of distressed properties—which buyers and investors have come to rely on over the past few years—is evaporating quickly in most markets, but that dwindling supply is not being adequately replenished by non-distressed homeowners listing their homes or by new homes being built.”

RealtyTrac found that distressed sales and short sales made up 16.9 percent of all U.S. sales in February, up from 16.1 percent in January. However, distressed sales and short sales are down from February, 2013, where they made up 19.1 percent of total sales.

Short sales and bank-owned properties also saw dwindling numbers; both experienced slight monthly increases and overall yearly decreases.

Short sales made up 5.7 percent of all sales, up from 5.5 percent in January, and down 6.9 percent from February, 2013. Bank-owned (REO) sales made up 9.7 percent of total sales, up from 9.3 percent in January, and down from 11.1 percent last year.

Blomquist noted that in addition to distressed properties experiencing a dwindling of supply, investor purchases are also slowing.

“Meanwhile, a key source of demand over the past two years—institutional investors purchasing single family homes as rentals—is starting to decline, and it’s not yet clear if that diminishing demand will be filled by first-time homebuyers and move-up buyers,” Blomquist said.

Institutional investors made up 5.9 percent of all U.S. residential property sales, up from 5.0 percent in January, yet down from the February, 2013 figure of 7.2 percent. Institutional investor sales in February declined for the third consecutive month on a year-to-year basis after 19 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

“Since Fannie Mae inventory is mostly comprised of completed home foreclosures with FHA loans, investors target these properties because they tend to be smaller homes that make for better rental property investments,” said Sheldon Detrick, CEO of Prudential Detrick/Alliance Realty. “There is very little Fannie Mae inventory left, which coincides with the fact that institu


tional investors have slowly backed out of the market.”

All-cash sales saw 8 consecutive months where sales made up more than 35 percent of all sales. U.S. residential all-cash sales for February was reported as 43.3 percent, up from 42.1 percent in January, and up from 20.2 percent in February, 2013.