We should talk about credit reports. These reports are critical to the Northern Virginia homeownership process, but many people don’t really understand them. Let’s break them down some.
What is a credit report?
Credit reports contain your basic information, as well as your credit activity, past credit information and current credit status. It highlights your credit situation and shows your loan payment history and current credit accounts. Credit reporting companies, or credit bureaus, collect your financial data from creditors, such as lenders and credit card companies. Creditors do not have to report to every credit reporting company, so people can have multiple credit reports.
What else is included?
Credit reports include credit accounts and credit limits. They also show your account balance and payment history. Reports include public records, like foreclosures, bankruptcies and civil suits, as well.
Why should I care?
These reports are important to lenders. They look at these reports to help determine if they will loan you money and, if so, at what interest rate. They also use credit reports to determine if you still meet the terms of a current lending agreement. Credit reports are also used by other companies to determine whether to provide you insurance or cell phone service.
Where can I see my credit reports?
The first place to get a copy of your credit report is from the government (the Federal Trade Commission, in this case). Everyone is entitled to one free copy of their credit report from all three of the national credit reporting companies each year. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Another option is to visit Credit Karma. Credit Karma offers free reports from two major credit reporting companies: TransUnion and Equifax. Visit creditkarma.com to begin the process.
There’s another website that offers your Experian credit report. Visit freecreditreport.com to see your account history, hard inquiries from lenders or landlords and potentially negative information.
Another option is to check with your credit card company or bank. Many credit cards and banks will also have free credit report opportunities.
How can I make sure my credit report is good?
There are many steps you can take to help make your credit report better.
As mentioned earlier, you’re entitled to one free report from the government every year. Even if you only use that outlet, check your report and make sure it is error-free. This can help save you money and save your score.
Have you gotten a credit report before? Do you have any other tips on how to keep up a good credit score and report? Do you monitor your credit? I’d love to hear about your experiences, especially if they relate to home ownership here in Northern Virginia!
Does this sound like you? If you're interested in learning more about buying a home, let's talk about it.
Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business
Everyone knows that owning a home is a good financial decision. If you’re looking to stay here in Northern Virginia and maybe do some DIY projects, a home can be a good investment. There are other reasons that make owning a home a good decision, as well. Here are the top five.
1. Owning a home has a positive impact on educational achievement
Have kids in school? Looking to go back to school yourself? Homeownership might help you be more successful. Findings from the National Association of Realtors have consistently shown that owning a home is significantly correlated with educational achievement. Researchers do not know, however, if it is the act of owning a home, consistent, stable housing or simply a good neighborhood that specifically creates this achievement. No matter what it is, though, owning a home could help you or your children be more successful.
2. The pride of ownership and having a “family home”
This is a personal decision more than anything, but 6% of respondents in a Gallup poll said that pride in ownership was their primary reason for purchasing a home. Furthermore, 7% of respondents said they were motivated to become homeowners because of the idea of having a “family home.” If the quintessential American Dream idea is pulling you to invest in a home, it might not be a bad idea.
3. Save the environment
With your own home, you can control the energy efficiency. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to invest in and install solar panels? Do you think you could cut down on your heating and air conditioning by adding some more insulation? If your landlord isn’t on the environmental wagon, it might be difficult to convince him to do the costly renovations. In your own home, however, you can add whatever energy-saving upgrades you can imagine.
4. Similarly, you’re done with landlords
Some landlords can be wonderful people who care about their renters, and I hope you’ve had those experiences. Chances are, though, there’s been some landlord that either you’ve worked with or you’ve heard someone talk about who delayed non-essential repairs. You might even know someone who has been evicted because the landlord decided to sell. If you own your home, you have protection from landlords. Sure, you have to be available when the air vent company can come to your house, but you can schedule when that happens and ensure that it does.
5. Security and community
As I mentioned, owning your home puts you in a position of security as a landlord cannot evict you because their family member wants to move to town. Moving from rental to rental can be stressful, even subconsciously, and having a secure place to call home can often cause children (and adults) to thrive. When you’re settled in one place, you oftentimes become more involved in the community. Whether that means a local association, spending time at the neighborhood park or participating in block parties, forming a community is beneficial to everyone. We have lots of communities here in Northern Virginia just waiting for you to find your home.
So what do you think? Homeowners: what did I miss? Why did you buy a home, other than financial reasons? Renters: is there a particular reason you don’t want a home? Give me a call soon - I’d love to discuss your situation and help you find your perfect home.
Your friend in the real estate business
I could wax poetic all day long on reasons for staging your Northern Virgina home for sale but I think this infographic sums it up nicely.
Disclaimer: This guide is not meant to be a resource for tax advice but instead a resource for basic information concerning only certain aspects of the new tax code and how they may impact the real estate market. You should get tax advice from your accountant or tax preparer who will explain how the entire tax code will affect your personal return.
Believe it or not, winter might be a good time to list your Northern Virginia home on the market. Everyone knows that spring and summer are the most popular times to sell a home, so listing in the winter might sound counterintuitive. Here’s a list of seven reasons to list your home in the next couple of months..
1. Fewer people are looking to buy houses, but they are more serious about doing so.
The amount of showings is smaller in the winter than in the spring. However, the buyers that are looking in January and February are more serious and motivated than people in the more high-traffic months of the spring and summer.
2. Companies begin relocating employees in the first quarter of the year.
Many companies use the first of the year as a prime time to place some of their employees. These employees, therefore, have an immediate need to find a home and often even have some moving expenses from their company to help make their decision.
3. Fewer houses are on the market, so buyers have fewer choices.
This goes hand-in-hand with my first two points. Since most people choose not to list their homes in the winter, the homes that are on the market get more attention. Buyers are limited by the inventory listed, meaning your home will likely gain more attention than when the market is more crowded in the spring.
4. You can highlight the seasonal perks of your home.
Have a great fireplace in your family room? Is your basement perfect for hosting holiday parties? A few simple decorations can help potential buyers see their future memories. In the midst of the cold, gloomy weather, a warm, welcoming home with light winter decorations can stand out to buyers.
5. You don’t have to stress as much about landscaping.
While you still want to make sure your house has nice curb appeal, buyers will likely not be looking at the landscaping during these chilly months. Flowers, trees and hedges that don’t grow in the winter mean less of your focus needs to be directed toward your outdoor green space.
6. Your home will already be available for buyers looking to get a jump on the spring market.
Spring is just around the corner, so listing a home early ensures you are ready for buyers as soon as they begin looking. Buyers know the competition will be stiffer in the spring, so prepared buyers might begin their search early to get ahead of the crowd.
7. You’ve already prepared your home for winter - use that to your advantage.
To get ready for winter, you’ve probably changed your air filters, had your furnace serviced and potentially even had your roof inspected. All of these are great selling points to potential buyers. Your home is in great shape and you can provide inspection results upon request.
So, have I convinced you yet? Listing your Northern Virginia home in the winter can be a good decision for you - especially if the market is right. Give me a call and I will gladly help you start the process.
Last week, we talked about the overall US real estate market. This week, I'm updating you on the local market.
Here's wishing you a fabulous 2018. If you have any questions or need any real estate assistance, feel free to contact me and pass my name along.
"Your friend in the real estate business."
2017 has been a wild ride and the real estate industry is no exception. Overall, it's been a good year for real estate. Here's a brief update on where the overall market stands. Next week, I'll provide a local market update.
"Your friend in the real estate business."
Are you thinking of buying a Northern Virginia home this winter? If so, my FREE home buyer's guide will help answer any questions you may have (and some you've never thought of before).
Click here to download a FREE copy now.
"Your friend in the real estate business."