Friday, September 26, 2014

What You Don't Know About Your Credit Score... Could Cost You!



Today we are excited to have Nabil Captan as our guest blogger. Nabil is a nationally recognized credit scoring expert, educator, author and producer. In today’s post, he explains how what you don’t know about your credit score could end up costing you. Enjoy! – The KCM Crew

Informed consumers considering a home purchase today want to do the right thing and plan ahead. Many do not seek immediate professional guidance from a Realtor or a mortgage loan officer. Instead, they hunt for hours online, looking at numerous websites for available homes for sale. They also consult websites to find the best interest rate and terms for future monthly mortgage payments. Many consumers feel betrayed, cheated and at times embarrassed to learn that the credit scores they counted on, to get that specific interest rate for their loan, are not used by mortgage lenders.

When shopping for a good mortgage interest rate, consumers also need to know their credit score, and utilize an online mortgage calculator to compute future monthly mortgage payments. A Google search for “credit score” will yield hundreds of results. The consumer accepts the provider’s terms and conditions to get a free credit score. Terrific! Unaware that in exchange they just received a meaningless credit score that lenders never use. They also handed over their Non-Public Personal Information (NPPI) to that credit score provider for life.

Before we go any further, let’s look at available credit scoring products available to consumers today:
  • FICO credit score from Fair Isaac Corporation/myfico.com, range 300 to 850
  • Plus Score from Experian, range 320 to 830
  • Trans Risk Score from TransUnion, range 300 to 850
  • Equifax Credit Score from Equifax, range 300 to 850
  • Vantage Score from all three bureaus, two ranges, 300 to 850 and 501-990
What is a FICO Score?

In 1958, Bill Fair and Earl Isaac, a mathematician and engineer, formed a company in San Rafael, California. They created tools to help risk managers make a better decision when taking financial risk. Today, 90 percent of all lenders use the FICO score, first created in 1989 by Fair Isaac, and it’s the only score Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Agency and Veterans Affairs will accept in underwriting loans they guarantee.

What is a Consumer Score?

The three credit bureaus, in their understanding of the credit scoring model created by FICO, decided to create their own scoring models, and in 2004 – 2006 they unveiled the “consumer” scores: Plus Score, Trans Risk Score, Equifax Credit Score, and Vantage Score. However, these are not genuine FICO scores, and mortgage lenders don’t use them. Consider this comparison: Would you buy a watch that gives the approximate time of day?

The three credit bureaus work with major financial institutions, professional organizations, comparison sites, personal finance businesses, clubs such as Costco, AAA, Sam’s Club, and many data-mining brokers to bombard consumers in the race of the free credit score mania, all with the enticement of a “consumer” score that is not used by lenders, in hopes of obtaining subscriptions or fees from consumers. Fees that are totally unnecessary!

Know Your Score

Gaining access to one’s own credit report and credit score prior to loan approval with no strings attached could be helpful, and at all times beneficial. With little effort, inaccuracy of information can be instantly corrected at the credit bureau level, and with a few simple steps, credit scores could be enhanced. For example, paying down revolving account balances before a creditor’s statement-ending date (the creditor later updates account information with the credit bureaus), thus reducing revolving account balances at a particular point in time, will positively add more points to a score. It’s priceless.

More Information

Consumers have a legal right to access their annual credit report at no charge once a year from annualcreditreport.com, a site sponsored by the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

These reports provide all the basic consumer data, but do not reveal a credit score. If you have a need for the FICO credit score that is actually used by mortgage lenders, myfico.com is the website to visit. For $19.95 per bureau, consumers can purchase a customized credit report with a genuine FICO score.

Additional websites to visit: the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (cfpb.gov) for true answers to questions about any financial concepts, financial products, dispute and complaint submissions, and much more.

Today’s homebuyer has instant access to answers. To be relevant in today’s market, real estate professionals need to know the absolute correct response to basic credit questions. It’s important.


Copyright 2014 Nabil Captan, Captan & Company. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Buying a Home is 38% Less Expensive than Renting!



In Trulia’s 2014 Rent vs. Buy Report, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting throughout the 100 largest metro areas in the United States; ranging from an average of 5% in Honolulu, all the way to 66% in Detroit, and 38% Nationwide!

The other interesting findings in the report include:
Even though prices increased sharply in many markets over the past year, low mortgage rates have kept homeownership from becoming more expensive than renting.

Some markets might tip in favor of renting later this year as prices continue to rise faster than rents and if – as most economists expect – mortgage rates rise, due both to the strengthening economy and Fed tapering.

Nationally, rates would have to rise to 10.6% for renting to be cheaper than buying – and rates haven’t been that high since 1989.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense. Rental costs have historically increased at a higher rate of inflation. Lock in a mortgage payment now before home prices and mortgage rates rise as experts expect they will.
By The KCM Crew

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

You Need A Professional When Buying A Home

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to go it on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if you are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines. You need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and ready for you to move in to can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift out the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home”.
A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home.

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer, to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.
Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family? If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal.

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

by The KCM Crew

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Whether you are buying or selling a home, the process can be challenging. That is why we always suggest that you take on the services of a real estate professional when embarking on a potential home move. However, not all real estate agents are the same. A family must make sure they hire someone who truly understands the current housing market and, not only that, knows how to connect the dots to explain how market conditions may impact your decision.
How can you make sure you have an agent who meets these requirements?
Here are just a few questions every real estate professional should be able to answer for their clients and customers:
  • Are home values approaching a new bubble or will prices continue to appreciate?
  • Is it better for a first time buyer or a move-up buyer to wait until they save a bigger down payment before they purchase a home?
  • Where will 30-year mortgage rates likely be in 12 months?
  • Why do I need an agent when I can just as easily find the house online myself?
  • Is buying a home still a good investment for my family?
Make sure you hire an agent that can answer questions like those above. That will guarantee the home buying or selling process will be much easier for you and your family.

by The KCM Crew

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Immigration & Its Impact on the Housing Market

There are many hot topics right now and immigration is definitely one of them. Whether we agree or disagree on what is going on at this moment, the history of immigration starting around 1600 shows us the United States has been a country that always received immigrants. Several organizations have done research on the impact immigrants can have on housing demand. Let’s look at some of those results:
Research done by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in 2012 states:
Assuming net immigration of 1.2 million (the low end Census Bureau projection for 2010) persists for 10 years, the model estimates that after 10 years new immigrants will:
  • account for close to 3.4 million US households
  • occupy more than 2 million multifamily units and more than 1.2 million single family homes
  • account for more than 900 thousand homeowners”
The Research Institute for Housing America also projects “that from 2010 to 2020 immigrants will count for over one-third of the growth of homeowners and over one-quarter of the growth in renter households.”

Need for Continued Research

In this month’s edition of Fannie Mae’s Housing Insights, they source the American Community Survey in stating that there were 18.8 million immigrant renters in the country in 2012. Fannie Mae goes on to say that these numbers represent “a large reservoir of potential future homeownership demand”. They conclude with:
“Continued study of how these and future immigrants advance into homeownership as they reside longer in the U.S. may provide valuable insights into future prospects for the country’s housing market.”

A More Localized Look at the Impact

For those looking for local data, a research study performed by AS/COA and Partnership for a New American Economy, provides an interactive map showing “the net change in a county’s immigrant population from 2000 to 2010 and the corresponding effect on median home values.”

Bottom Line

If we look at the conclusions made by multiple sources, we see that they agree that immigrants will revitalize less desirable neighborhoods and support the housing market.
Each group is seeking greater economic opportunities just like the immigrants in past decades that came to United States. The question is: are we prepared to help them with their real estate needs? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

14,109 Houses Sold Yesterday! Did Yours?




There are some homeowners that have been waiting for months to get a price they hoped for when they originally listed their house for sale. The only thing they might want to consider is... If it hasn't sold over the summer, maybe it's not priced properly.

After all 14,109 houses sold yesterday, 14,109 will sell today and 14,109 will sell tomorrow. 14,109!

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. NAR reported that sales are at an annual rate of 5.15 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, over 14,000 homes sell every day. Sales are at the highest pace of 2014 and have risen for four consecutive months.
We realize that you want to get the fair market value for your home. However, if it hasn't sold in today's active real estate market, perhaps you should reconsider your current asking price.

By the KCM Crew

Monday, August 18, 2014

Harvard’s 5 Financial Reasons to Buy a Home


Eric Belsky is Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Housing Research and Housing Policy Debate. Last year, he released a paper on homeownership - The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America. In his paper, Belsky reveals five financial reasons people should consider buying a home.





Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:
1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.
“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”
2.) You're paying for housing whether you own or rent. 
“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”
3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.
“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”
4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.
“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income...On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”
5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.
“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”
Bottom Line
We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially.