How to Prepare for Your Future Home Purchase

Planning to buy a home in the near future? The sooner you get your money situation in shape, the easier it’ll be to take on a mortgage loan. Here’s how you can prepare your credit and finances for a future home purchase.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Focus on building your credit history. The best way to do this is to make sure you pay your bills and rent on time. According to Bankrate:”‘There is no single element that can so dramatically impact the success of an application as your credit history,” says Brian Israel, vice president of Chicago-based Harris Trust and Savings Bank’s residential mortgage division. ‘Another thing, of course, is savings. People should have a good disciplined savings pattern. That’s the kind of behavior that’s going to make them a successful homeowner.'”

To develop a disciplined savings pattern, check out the post on how to start saving for a home down payment.

Also, make sure you pay your rent on time each month. According to Realtor, mortgage lenders want the last 12 months of cancelled checks if you’re renting from a private landlord. If they see you’ve skipped a month, they’ll consider it a “mortgage late.” Realtor says this can hurt your chances of being approved. Also, make sure your checks are dated consistently around the same time each month.

Monitor Your Credit

Stay on top of your credit history and learn how to read and understand your credit report.

Look for inaccuracies, which can hurt your credit score and affect your future mortgage application. If there are any discrepancies, you’ll have to dispute them with the credit bureaus. Here are some sample letters for filing a dispute.

Maybe you have delinquent accounts. These can be accounts that are late, charged-off, sent to collections, etc. These delinquencies can kill your chances of getting a mortgage, as lenders won’t think you can make your monthly payments. Finance writer LaToya Irby suggests you pay off all delinquent accounts before applying for a mortgage:”You need to establish a pattern of timely payments to get approved for a mortgage and get a competitive interest rate. If you have a recent late payment – or you’ve just paid off some delinquencies – wait at least six months before applying for a mortgage. The older the delinquency, the better your credit looks.”

It’s important to note that if you have toxic debt, it might be a sign that you’re living beyond your means. If you have issues with overspending, it’s important to deal with them before you decide to buy a home. The costs and responsibility of home ownership can be overwhelming if your money habits are out of control.

Have Three Trade Lines

Realtor says that most lenders want you to have at least three trade lines (credit cards, student loans, etc.) that have been open for at least a year.

“If you only have one card, open two more now. Your credit score may go down a bit, but you will probably need to wait a year to establish some credit history, so it will adjust back up soon.”

Similarly, Daily Finance adds that closing accounts might be a bad idea.

“Closing a major credit card can actually do damage to a credit score. Lenders look at the balance on revolving credit accounts in terms of its ratio to total available credit. Closing an account can have the unintended consequence of raising the ratio.”

Save and Increase Your Down Payment

A bigger down payment won’t guarantee your loan approval, but it certainly helps. According to Global Post: “The larger the down payment you come up with, the lower their risk. The theory goes like this: If you’ve already invested a large sum of money in your home, you’ll be less likely to stop making payments if you suffer a financial crisis. You’ll have, as lenders say, ‘more skin in the game.'”

If you can find ways to do it, start saving more. Consider a savings vehicle that offers a reasonable return without being too risky.

Do Your Research

Research and understand the costs associated with home ownership. There will be property taxes and insurance. You might have higher utility bills or homeowner’s fees. Maintenance, repair and decorating might also cost more than you think.

Similarly, you should research your mortgage options. Financial expert Liz Pulliam Weston writes: “A lot of people are losing their homes today because they didn’t understand what kind of mortgage they had or they accepted bad advice. The low teaser payments that allowed them to buy a more expensive house have jumped skyward, leaving them unable to pay.”

She suggests a traditional, fixed-rate mortgage.

Avoid Big Purchases

It’s important to have an active credit history. But as you get closer to applying for a mortgage, it’s time to cool it. Bankrate says you should avoid big purchases as you prepare to apply:

“First off, don’t make any big purchases over the next couple of months. Besides the obvious fact that it makes less money available for the down payment, it might require you to get yet another loan.”

They say that a large debt—a $15,000 car loan, for example—will look bad to the lender’s scoring systems.

Shelve Credit Usage 45 Days Before Applying

Mint suggests you pay off your credit cards, and then not using them for at least 45 days before applying for a mortgage.

“Paying the cards off 45 days in advance is plenty of lead-time. You can continue to use your debit, prepaid debit, or gift cards because those don’t show up on your credit reports.”

If you think home ownership is in your future, plan to tackle it responsibly. Get your credit and finances in order today to make the whole process easier in the future.

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This article by Kristin Wong originally appeared in Two Cents, a new blog from Lifehacker all about personal finance.
Here is a link to the original article:


Creating a room that grows with your child

Costs for putting together a child’s room can rack up pretty quickly, but with a little foresight and a few intelligent purchases, the choices you make for a nursery or toddler’s room can result in a functional, spacious room that is suitable well into your child’s teen years.

From convertible furniture to neutral walls, you can establish a framework that evolves as your child’s interests change, substantially lengthening the life of those early investments.

Lorie Marrero, a certified professional organizer and author of “The Clutter Diet,” has teamed up with the experts at ClosetMaid to offer these pointers for putting together a room that transitions with your youngster as childhood gives way to adolescence.

Invest wisely. Select furniture that will adapt to your child’s needs in the highest quality your budget allows. For example, if you’re starting with a nursery, choose a crib that converts to a toddler bed and even a twin or double bed years down the road. Choose a dresser that can double as a changing table during the early years, with pulls that a toddler or young child can easily manage when the time arrives.

Keep flexibility first. With each purchase, consider how the item will serve your child’s needs over a span of several years. This is true even in the closet, where space once allocated for tiny garments must eventually give way to larger and bulkier attire. One solution is a multi-functional closet organization system, such as ClosetMaid’s ShelfTrack, which can be altered as children grow and their needs change. For younger children, maximize closet space by utilizing three levels of wire shelving for clothing.  As they get older, it’s easy to reconfigure the design by adjusting shelving or adding accessories such as baskets and shoe racks.

Make the most of the accessories. Establish a neutral palette that can change to reflect your child’s personality as they grow. Change up bedding and other decorative items. Dress up cubbies and storage spaces with pops of color using handy ClosetMaid fabric drawers, which can be easily removed to encourage to help out at cleaning time. On the walls, avoid the cost and work of repainting to match each new look by using temporary adornments, such as decals that peel away leaving no sticky residue.

“You’re doing yourself a big favor by establishing a solid foundation of furniture and storage in a child’s room from the start,” Marrero said. “Strategic purchases that last for years will let you focus on helping to make your child’s personality shine in the bedroom, starting with an adaptable storage system that helps set an early standard for keeping clutter under control.”




Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties, St Charles Office

Geolocation Mobile Search

mobilePhone_webPrudential Select Properties offers a mobile search for those searching for properties on mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. To pull up the mobile version of any Prudential Select Properties company or agent website just type “m.” before the website address into the browser of your mobile device. Example:

In addition to multiple other features our mobile search has ‘geolocation’ features that allow you to view homes for sale near you, sorted by proximity to your location.  You can also search by city, zip or school district.  With a click you can display nearby properties on a map and even switch to satellite view to get a look at the neighborhood.  Full search controls allow you to target your ‘must-have’ features in a home.

Each detail page gives you full facts about the home, views of additional photos, ability to view on a map and ways to share the property via Facebook, Twitter or email.  You can also set an appointment or request more information right from your phone. Click the star to add a home to your ‘Favorites’ to reference later.

If you list with Prudential Select Properties your home will also appear on our mobile search. Call us about listing your home and receiving better exposure for your listing.

All companies aren’t created equally and either is their technology. Give us a call and take our technology for a test drive today… Take your technology and business to the next level…

Prudential Select Properties St Charles County Office, 636-720-1100

Welcome Back Dawn Singer to Our Office

Dawn SingerPlease join me in welcoming back Dawn Singer (Formerly w/ Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield) to the Prudential Select Properties St. Charles County Office. Dawn is an extremely knowledgeable, sincere and hard-working agent dedicated to delivering outstanding service to her customers and clients.

We are excited Dawn has decided to rejoin us and know that she will once again be a valuable addition to our team.

Help me in welcoming Dawn BACK HOME to the PSP Family! Here We Grow Again! Great things are happening at PSP, It’s the place to be!

Prudential Select Properties St Charles County Office, 636-720-1100

5 Reasons to Buy a Home Now!

Based on prices, mortgage rates and soaring rents, there may have never been a better time in real estate history to purchase a home than right now. Here are five major reasons purchasers should consider buying:

Supply Is Shrinking- With inventory declining in many regions, finding a home of your dreams may become more difficult going forward. There are buyers in more and more markets surprised that there is no longer a large assortment of houses to choose from. The best homes in the best locations sell first. Don’t miss the opportunity to get that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buy.

Price Increases Are on the Horizon- Prices were expected to bounce along the bottom this winter. However, many pricing indices (examples: CoreLogic, FHFA, LPS, Case Shiller) are reporting that prices are continuing to rise.

Rents Are Skyrocketing- Rents historically increase by 3.2% on an annual basis. A study issued earlier this year projects rent increases of 4% for the next two years. Trulia recently reported that rents this year have actually shot up by 5.4%.

Interest Rates Are Projected to Rise- The Mortgage Bankers Association has projected that the 30-year mortgage interest rate will be 4.4% by the end of 2013. That is an increase of approximately one full point over current rates.

Buy Low, Sell High- We would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’. It’s time to buy.

Prudential Select Properties St. Charles County Office, 636-720-1100

*Sources and Stats for this blogKeeping Current Matters, The Mortgage Bankers Association and Trulia.

St. Charles County Real Estate Is On The Move

Have you heard the old saying “Numbers Don’t Lie.” Well the numbers are in, and they are GREAT!!! The real estate market in St. Charles County continues to show great improvement. *Check out the numbers for yourself:

  • June was the 12th straight month where we have seen month over month increase in sold units.
  • The first half of 2012 saw sold units increase 19.3 percent over the same period last year.
  • Pending sales increased 24 percent in the first six months of this year, compared to last year.
  • Volume increased 19.25 percent over the same period last year.
  • Days on the market dropped by almost 3 weeks as compared to the first half of last year.

There will be people 3-5 years from now that will say ” I should have bought real estate in 2012.” Whether you’re in the market to purchase a home or on the fence, don’t let historic low-interest rates, home values and incredible inventory pass you by.

* Special thanks to St. Charles County Association of REALTORS 2012 President, Cort Schneider for providing the stats.

Prudential Select Properties St Charles County Office, 636.720.1100

10 Red Flags That Turn OFF Homebuyers…

 The average home buyer views around 10 homes before they make a decision. Most of them start searching online 30 to 90 days before they even contact a real estate agent. Today’s buyer is looking for a deal on a “turn-key” home and throwing up red flags even before they write an offer or order any inspections.

 10 Red Flags That Turn OFF Homebuyers 

  1. Mass Exodus- There goes the neighborhood! Are there several other homes for sale in the neighborhood? More vacant lots than homes? Are nearby businesses closing their doors?
  2. Lack of Maintenance- Folks, three layers of roofing isn’t a good thing! Gutters with plants growing out of them isn’t creative gardening or the latest in planting boxes. This is a clear indicator of lack of homeowner care or maintenance. No one and I mean NO ONE will buy a dirty house. Make it Shine!!! Inside and Out!!!
  3. Foundation Failures- Foundation cracks bigger than 1/3 inch need to be evaluated by a professional. Wet and moldy basements are deal killers.
  4. Bad Smells- Take a big whiff inside and outside the home. If you don’t smell any thing besides a huge basket of potpourri, this could be a red flag. A home shouldn’t smell like Kennelwood Village or your Veterinarian’s office.
  5. Faulty or Old Wiring- Make sure all the outlets and switches function properly. Don’t let a simple burnt out light bulb throw up a red flag. Flickering lights, dead circuits, hanging wires, hot face plates and outlets are signs of wiring problems.
  6. Dull Walls- New paint really can spruce up the walls. Paint the entire room; not just one wall. Stay away from dark colors. If you see stains or sagging walls & ceilings, have a professional look  for mold or leaks.
  7. Foggy or Non-Functioning Windows- If you have a fog in your window, chances are you have a broken window seal and they are fairly inexpensive to fix. Window that won’t open or stay open will always throw up red flags.
  8. Locked Doors and Blockades- Don’t put up road blocks during a home tour. Make all rooms easily available and NEVER enclose pets behind closed doors.
  9. Wide Open Spaces- Sure we all love an open floor plan, but was the house always this open. It seems like everyone wants to flip houses today. HGTV makes it look soooo easy! Did the previous owner/flipper renovate it. Have an inspector or engineer look if any load bearing wall has been tampered with.
  10. Bugs! Bug! Bugs!- NO ONE wants a mouse in the house or a roach, rodent, termite or ant for that matter. Make sure there isn’t easy access for these creatures to get in the property.

A well maintained property can bring $$$ thousands $$$ more! The best plan of action is to always contact your local Real Estate Professional and let them walk you through the home. Whether you’re looking to put it on the market to sell or looking to buy, the realtor is always the smart move.

Prudential Select Properties St Charles County Office, 636-720-1100


10 Reasons to List Your Home During the Holidays…

There is a common myth in the real estate business that no one purchases homes during the holiday season. Nothing could be further from the truth. Homebuyers need to purchase homes all year-long and there are some real advantages to placing homes on the market during the holidays. Some of these benefits included:

  1. Buyers are more serious during the holidays and quicker to make a decision.
  2. Fewer houses to choose from over the holidays means less competition for you.
  3. Houses “show better” when decorated for the holidays with the wonderful lights and festive colors associated with the season.
  4. Buyers are more emotional during the holidays and often base their decision on the warmth and good feeling they receive when viewing your house.
  5. Buyers take advantage of holiday time off work to look at houses.
  6. Many buyers want to purchase before the end of the year for financial and tax reasons.
  7. January is traditionally the month for corporate transfers. Transferees can’t wait until the Spring to buy. To capture these relocation buyers your house must be on the market.
  8. You may restrict showings during your own personal family events and still take advantage of your spruced up and decorated “ready to show” property.
  9. You can sell now, but specify a delayed closing or extend occupancy until early next year if you so desire and if agreeable by the buyers.
  10. By selling now you have an opportunity to buy during the spring, when more properties are on the market.

Prudential Select Properties St. Charles County Office wishes you and your family a very Happy Holiday season! Thanks for another great year…

Prudential Select Properties St Charles County Office 6149 MidRivers Mall Dr. 63304

Homeownership is still the American Dream…

It’s almost impossible turn on the television, open the newspaper or listen to the radio and not see or hear someone making negative comments about the current state of our economy and the real estate market. How Bad off are we? Have we lost confidence in real estate? Is Homeownership still the American Dream?

According to recent polls it appears the American Dream of owning a home is still very much alive.

  • 95% of homeowners see it as a positive experience.
  • 88% see homeownership as the American Dream.
  • 81% still see it as the best long-term investment.
  • 69% think now is the time to buy.

Of course some of you will read this and think “Just another Realtor” putting a positive spin on the market, but keep a few factors in mind.

  1. Near Historic Low Interest Rates! We haven’t seen rates this low in over 50 years. In most cases, people can get a lower interest rate on a home mortgage than an auto loan.
  2. Second, is Affordability! We are seeing a trend in our market and across the country where it’s actually cheaper (monthly payment) to own a home than rent one. Rental markets are hot right now and there seems to be no signs of slowing down in the near future. More and more investors are realizing this (myself included) and have purchased investment property.
  3. Inventory and Pricing! There are a lot of homes to choose from. Builders are getting creative with incentives, Sellers are much easier to negotiate with and short sales and bank owned properties can be incredible buys.

Whether your currently pursuing the American Dream of purchasing a home or thinking about it in the future, make sure you seek the help of a REALTOR. Buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime and it should always be handled by a professional.

Sources for this blog– Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey 2011, New York Times & CBS News Survey 2011, Pew Research Center Survey 2011 & Gallup Poll 2011.

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