Understanding how your Credit Works

credit scoreCredit scores were developed by Fair Isaac and company (FICO). The models created using FICO take all the detailed information about your credit report and produce your credit score using different weights and factors contained in the FICO scoring models.

The purpose of a FICO score is to show how likely you are to become at least 90 days late in making payments in the next 24 months based on patterns in your credit history, compared with patterns of millions of past customers.

Fair Isaac divides the scoring range into five risk categories.

  • 780-850 Low Risk
  • 740-780 Medium, Low Risk
  • 690-740 Medium Risk
  • 620-690 Medium High Risk
  • 620 and Below High Risk or “Non Prime”

Each of the three major credit bureaus uses their own version of the FICO scoring model. Factors influencing your credit score are:

  • Current or late payments
  • How late the payments are
  • Number of open accounts you have
  • How much credit you are using in relation to how much credit you have available
  • If there are serious delinquencies on your file like bankruptcy, liens and charge off accounts

Your credit score is a snapshot, in that it is developed at the time of inquiry by a credit grantor pulling your credit file. Your credit score can change with the passage of time as well as with the addition of new information to your credit file. As delinquency information in your file ages, it’s negative affect on your credit score lessens.

Credit Scoring uses the following five areas of information to calculate the score:

  • Payment history 35%
  • Amounts owed 30%
  • Length of credit history 15%
  • New credit inquiries 10%
  • Type of credit used 10%

It is best to keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving accounts – maintain balances below 50 of the available credit limit. 24 is optimal. The best way to improve your score is to pay down revolving debt.

An inquiry is defined as a request by a lender for a copy of an applicant’s credit report. Inquiries remain on a credit report for two years, but credit scores only look at inquiries in the last 12 months. Your own request for a credit report to review for accuracy is not considered in your credit score.

Apply for new credit accounts only when you need them. Remember that closing accounts does not make them go away. A closed account with a poor payment history may become a more recent account because the date of activity will change. An open account with a low or zero balance is better than a closed account.

HELPFUL WEBSITES FOR YOUR REFERENCE: You can obtain your free annual credit report, without a FICO score, at www.annualcreditreport.com

To contact the credit bureaus:

Experian  1-888-397-3742   www.experian.com

Equifax  1-800-846-5279 www.equifax.com

Transunion  1-800-916-8800  www.transunion.com

DID YOU KNOW??
  1. FICO scores are used not only for a mortgage and credit cards, but for auto loans, insurance and utilities.
  2. Credit reports reflect charge offs or collection accounts for up to 7 years, and bankruptcies for up to 10 years.
  3. You can order a free credit report annually, at no charge, without impacting your credit score.
  4. Having a minor balance without missing a payment is better than closing an account.
  5. Paying off an old collection may result in a drop in your credit score.
  6. Consolidating credit cards increases your ratio of debt to available credit and lowers your score.
  7. Using the maximum amount on a credit line can drop your score by 100 points.

question manFor more information regarding financing or the economy, please call or email me at any time.  I can be reached via email at Bill’s Email or call me at 978-273-3227.

A Cold Ride

Bill Nickerson Training for the Pan Mass Challenge

 PHH Logo houses

How to Shop for a Mortgage

After hitting record lows of 3.250% last year, mortgage rates have inched up a little and in the grand scheme of things…it is only a little!  The trend of course is upwards and like the stock market, it is not a straight line up, we have good days and bad days in the markets and Mortgage Rates can sometimes and do change a few times inside a trading day. These rate changes are influenced by the global economy and while rates are still extremely low, refinancers and homebuyers are always looking for the lowest. Rates trade in real-time and react to each little development. But these lows come and go in minutes during specific trading intervals each trading day. And this kind of volatility drastically changes the way consumers should shop for a mortgage.  Because markets move up and down so fast right now, the rates you see in mainstream media* headlines are long gone by the time you can do anything about it.

SO HERE’S HOW TO SHOP FOR A MORTGAGE IN THIS NEW WORLD.

Shop For Loan Agents, Not Rates

Every consumer shops for mortgages and they should. But this is the critical distinction: you should be shopping for the best mortgage advisor. If you have that, you’ll get the best rate.

Here’s what happens when shoppers focused only on rate get quoted by a good loan agent: Loan agent quotes a rate only after they’ve analyzed the client’s entire financial profile and analyzed their home’s value and condition—also known as pre-approving them. The client will either tire of the pre-approval analytics or be unhappy with the rate and go somewhere else. Then 80% of those cases come back to that loan agent because the competing rate quote was revealed to be incorrect when the other lender actually completed the client’s profile, or the home’s value/condition made the loan ineligible.

Mortgages are extremely competitive so rates and fees are generally the same with most (established, credible) lending firms.  What’s not the same lender to lender is the loan agent’s ability to: (1) advise properly, (2) analyze borrower and property profiles, and (3) close with no surprises. So shop to find the lender and loan agent you feel most confident can perform on these three things. Then work with that loan agent to pick a rate target you can’t or won’t go above, and give them a standing order to lock when they see it.

These guidelines are for refinancers. For homebuyers, you can’t lock a rate until you’re in contract to buy a home, but once you’re in contract, the same approach applies.

Rate Targeting

Their are two reasons for the pre-approval and rate targeting tactics discussed above:

(1) A rate quote that flies through the air means nothing. If a loan agent doesn’t issue you written terms after obtaining a full profile on you and your home, then you haven’t received a quote you can count on.

(2) Rate lows are here and gone in minutes each trading day as mortgage bonds rise and fall on economic and technical trading signals. So if you don’t first get pre-approved then set a rate target with a standing lock order, it’s nearly impossible to hit the lows AND close with no surprises.  Your loan agent also must be able to brief you daily or weekly on the market outlook, so if you’re not sensing market competence from your agent, then keep shopping. A loan agent must have a strong read on what’s impacting the rate market ups and downs to deliver you the best terms.

*Mainstream media is almost always off the mark on rate data and commentary. Conversely, Mortgage News Daily strives to provide accurate and realistic rate data and commentary daily. Still, the premise of this piece is to explain what a mortgage consumer must do to manage extreme rate volatility.

Do you have any questions?  Feel free to call or email anytime!!

Bill Nickerson can be reached at 978-273-3227 and email at bill@billnickerson.com

 

PHH Mortgage People

10 Tips for First Time Homebuyers

first time homebuyer1.  Be picky, but don’t be unrealistic.  Your first home may need a little work, some paint, carpet and perhaps some other updates.  Remember, this is your first home and the first step in investing in your future. Don’t avoid a home because it has bright pink walls or ugly floors.  Do avoid a home that may have structural damage such as rotted sills.

2.  Do your homework before you start looking.  Look online, work with a Real Estate Agent and begin the process of what style homes you like, neighborhoods and most important, the price range.

3.  Get your finances in order. Organize your bank accounts by having all of your funds in one or two different accounts.  Review your credit to make sure any and all accounts are up to date.

4.  Don’t wait to get a loan; Get pre-approved.  Call me today, 978-273-3227, get approved ahead of time to make sure you are properly prepared and you are realistically looking in the right price range. This is a free service!

5.  Don’t ask too many people for opinions.  Just because your best friend bought and sold 3 houses, does not make them an expert.  Ask the professionals that do this everyday.

6.  Decide when you could move. Set realistic time frames of how quickly you could move into your new home.  In the case of home purchases, some transactions can happen in as little as 30 days and some can take up to 6 months, you need to be prepared.

7.  Think long-term. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Are you buying to be in a good school system? Closer to work? Close to the City?  Figure out what is important to you today, will these wants/needs still be important in 10 years?  It’s ok to buy a starter home and then re-evaluate in 5 or so years.  This is an investment and it’s your future.

8.  Don’t let yourself be “House Poor”.  Don’t over buy, your first home does not have to be 5000 square feet. You want to make sure you can still live your life and afford to go out to dinner.

9.  Don’t be naive. If you have never swung a hammer, don’t by a fixer upper. Do your homework on what updates to a home cost before purchasing a home that may need TLC.

10.  Get help from a real estate agent. This is your best resource for your home purchase. To be properly “matched” up, call me as I work with real estate agents all over and can refer you to one that best suits your needs.

Bottom Line:  Being a first time home buyer can be a scary uncertain time in your life, seek help from trained professionals to get the best most up-to-date information.

At Merrimack Mortgage, our mortgage programs are designed to assist the many different needs of each unique individual’s needs.

Call or email me today to find out how I can assist you in financing a new home or refinancing your current one. 

Bill Nickerson NMLS#4194   179 Great Road, Acton MA 01720

Phone: 978-273-3227     Bill’s Email       Bill’s Website

FHA to increase fees…Again!!

ImageFHA is once again increasing mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) on all new purchase and refinance transactions. Effective for FHA loans that have been assigned on or after June 3, 2013 and in addition to this increase, the Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium will remain for the life of the loan. Meaning, you can only remove the mortgage insurance by refinancing out of the mortgage or selling the home.

FHA had just increased all its rates just over a year ago to 120 basis points (1.2% of the loan amount) of the loan amount and now it will be as high as 155 basis points. On a $100,000 loan amount, the old mortgage insurance payment would have been $100 per month; the new Mortgage Insurance payment will be $129.17. Considering just 2 years ago, the mortgage insurance premium on all FHA loans was 55 basis points (just over a half percent) and that payment on $100,000 would come to $45.83.

So even though mortgage rates have come down over the last 2 years, this increase in Mortgage Insurance has caused the cost of this loan to increase dramatically. Also with this additional cost, you can no longer have the mortgage insurance just drop off once you gain 20% of equity in the home.

Now, these may not seem like big increases to you, but for someone borrowing $400,000; this would have the Mortgage Insurance going from $183.33 to $516.67. Imagine…paying $516.67 for mortgage insurance!!

Now is the best time to get pre-approved by a qualified Loan Officer to give you several choices of mortgage programs. It is not always wise to chase to the lowest rate available without truly understanding the overall mortgage program.

Call me to find out about low down payment loans, as low as 3% with-out any mortgage insurance at all.

I can be reached at 978-273-3227 or feel free to email me at bill@billnickerson.com

National Open House Weekend April 20 and April 21, 2013

open house signDid you know it is National Open House Weekend?  The National Association of Realtors is expecting to sell almost 10% of the current inventory. With lots of homes on the market and great low rates, this spring market is turning out to be fantastic!  This weekend real estate agents from around the area will be hosting open houses as part of the national Open House Weekend.  The Open House Weekend provides a great opportunity to visit some of the many homes in your local area while learning more about homeownership from a professional real estate agent.  Be sure to take advantage of this weekend and attend some of the open houses in your area!

Call me today to see the closing cost credits you are eligible for!!   

Need a realtor? Call me.  Need a real estate attorney?  Call me.  Need a mortgage or pre-approval?  Call me.  Have financing questions?  Call me.  Bill Nickerson 978-273-3227

Or send me an email at bill@billnickerson.com  If you need to apply online, visit my website at www.billnickerson.net

You do know the Valentine’s Day Legend??

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

Have a Very Happy Valentine’s Day, Bill Nickerson

Courtesty History.com

What is a Business Cycle?

The “Books” say an average business cycle is 44.4 months and we have lived through many of them. Some longer than that and some as short as a season in New England.  A business cycle is like the exhibit from our youth…“What makes an ocean wave, wave” at the New England Aquarium.  In the exhibit, you get to move the wave with a lever and if you move the lever too much you have to pull it back as the wave comes crashing down…and again, you go too far the other way and the wave crashes in the other direction.  It’s impossible to control an ocean wave.  So here we are now in the middle of a business cycle “The Ocean Wave”. 

As Americans we do the same thing.  When we feel confident and wealthy, we tend to spend a little too much; perhaps buy a car that has all the bells and whistles or buy the  house we all dreamed of or even dined at the newest expensive restaurant we’ve never been to… building up that ocean wave.  We did this as a nation and created a very large wave.  We are in the “Trough” of the business cycle which is like a dead calm in the sea.  Nothing moves.  We are paralyzed by our own actions and cannot find a direction to get back…there is just no wind for our sails.  As individuals, we are going through our own personal process of what will get us back on track.  In some cases, we cancel our vacations, limit the activities our children participate in at school or even bring lunch every day.  By drastically cutting our spending, we have moved the “wave” too far in the other direction thus hurting the economy even further.  Not only have we given up those fancy dinners…we are not even going to the local diner for the blue plate special.

Consumer confidence is measured at an all-time low today and we are letting our emotions and fear govern our decisions and actions.  The News Media has the ability to heighten this fear by focusing on the negative and over emphasizing the issues at hand.   As FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself”.  This speech was given in 1933 in the middle of one of the biggest bank panics of the century which followed the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  There was a “RUN” on the banks where consumers wanted to withdraw all of the cash they had in the banks for fear it would be gone.  The banks had lent this money out for loans, mortgages etc. and the banks quickly ran out of cash.  FDR implemented the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation “FDIC” that to this day insures our deposits up to $250,000.  This speech did spark a generation as well as the economy, and it was backed by a plan of how to get us moving as a country.  Today, we do not look up to our leaders.   And as of this moment, we do not have a plan of how to get out of the economic turmoil we are in.  So as a strong country, we must take matters in our own hands and move ahead…full steam ahead.

We are in a very unique situation in the economy: Mortgage rates are creating new historical lows every day, house prices are nearing levels of value we have not seen since 2004.  As we always do, we will look back on this day and say, “I wish I had bought that home, or vacation house or even that investment property”.  Trust me; it happens every time we go through these business cycles.  As I mentioned earlier, we are letting our emotions govern our business decisions.  That is not allowed in business.  It’s business and there is no crying in business!!  Remember the saying “Buy Low and Sell High”.  This is not just some catch phrase.  It is a sound business decision that should be followed regardless of your emotional ties. 

So what do we do now? 

·         Keep spending but in a healthy way.  Make sound buying decisions based on needs versus wants.  By putting some money back into the economy, we will slowly recover.

·         Look to your advisers!!  Not your friends or family, but your financial advisers.  This would be the person that handles your investments, your banking, and your estate.  These are professionals that do this time and time again all day every day. 

·         Be patient.  Throughout history we have experienced turbulent times in the business cycle.  And we have pulled out of it.  In the words of Warren Buffett, “Americans are in a cycle of fear which leads to people not wanting to spend and not wanting to make investments, and that leads to more fear. We’ll break out of it. It takes time.”

For information regarding home financing or the economy, please contact me at     Bill@billnickerson.com   or    978-273-3227

Do I Really Need Title Insurance?

title insuranceTitle insurance is one of the important and least understood aspects of a real estate transaction. There are two types of title insurance; lenders’ coverage and owners’ coverage. Title insurance protects the lender and the owner against all types of title defects and also covers issues such as zoning, access, and protects the lender and owner against frivolous claims against title by providing legal defense against such claims.

In Massachusetts, a real estate attorney examines title to a property and must certify title to the lender and owner. However, this certification is based only upon a fifty year title search and is based only on the documents that are recorded at the Registry of Deeds.  There are many situations where an attorney has done his or her job perfectly, and yet title issues could exist. For instance, if there is a forgery in the chain of title or if there is an heir who was erroneously omitted from a probate notification, title to a property could be defective.  Additionally, if a document is improperly indexed at the Registry of Deeds or if a signatory to a deed is a minor or is incompetent, this could also make the title defective. These defects are called hidden defects and this is what makes title insurance so important to protect one’s interests.

The lender’s title insurance is required in practically every closing.  It is a common misconception on the part of buyers that if there is a lender’s policy in place, the owner’s policy adds little value, particularly where the mortgage is a high loan to value mortgage.  In fact, the lender’s policy does not protect the owner at all, as it only comes into play if the property is foreclosed by the lender and the lender is then unable to resell the property due to a defect.   In recent years, owner’s policies have saved the day when documents such as mortgage discharges and mortgage assignments have not been properly recorded at the Registry of Deeds, and the title insurance companies have provided the necessary assurances and guarantees to allow the closing to take place.

Each buyer should consult with his or her attorney to learn more about the costs and benefits of title insurance.  All title insurers provide a substantial discount when the lender’s policy and the owner’s policy are purchases simultaneously.

Courtesy of: 
Mark L. Scheier Esq.
Scheier & Katin P.C., Acton MA
MScheier@skactonlaw.com

SELLERS: 5 Musts for Generating Multiple Offers

multiple offersSelling your home?  Interested in getting multiple offers on your home?  Check out this article from Trulia blogger Tara.

As you might have heard by now, multiple offers are the new black. Well – kind of; if your own home is on the market or soon to be, it can seem like you break your back to prepare your home and it lags and lags on the market while all the cool kids houses and their sellers sit idly by, making champagne toasts while they are inundated with more offers than they can shake a stick at.

Let’s bust one myth: getting multiple offers rarely happens by luck alone. That’s good news for you, as it means that generating multiple offers is more of a science than an art. And that, in turn, means there’s a whole lot you can do to replicate these results with your own home’s listing.

Here are five elements I nearly always see in listings that get multiple offers:

#1. Listed low. As I alluded to last week, homes that get multiple offers are often sold in what industry insiders call an auction atmosphere. If you think back to the last auction you saw on TV or participated in online, you’ll remember this basic element of Auctions 101: the starting price is lower – sometimes quite a bit lower – than the final sale price.

In fact, it’s the low list or starting price that gets people excited about the possibility of scoring a great value, whether they’re bidding on an antique Chinese pug figurine on eBay or on your home.  And when it comes to your home, it’s that same, low-price-seeking excitement that will cause many more buyers to show up and view your home than would have come at a higher price point.

In real estate, more showings are an inescapable prerequisite to more offers.

Now – I’m not at all suggesting you give away the farm, just that you price your home from a retailer or auctioneer’s perspective, rather than the all-too-common backwards reasoning to which home sellers so often fall prey. Work with your agent through the comparable sales data – as recent and as comparable as possible – and then do your best to list your home as a slight discount, not at a slight premium, compared to the recent neighborhood sales.  That will get buyers’ attention.

#2.  Easy to show.  Walk a mile with me, if you will, in the shoes of the average home buyer or their agent. Let’s say there are 50 homes on the market which meet your rough specifications in terms of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, price range and location. You can narrow it down to your 30 top priorities to see. But you only have time to see 8 today. Now, of those 30 top priority properties, about 15 are short sales or foreclosures and you can get into them anytime you want. And the other 15 are split down the middle – half of them are available to be seen with nothing more than a single phone call.  The other half require you to hurdle an arcane obstacle course of phone calls, 24 hour notice requirements, strange hours of availability and more phone calls to get an appointment to see the place.

Which would you go see, and which would get ruled out?

I am not exaggerating one iota when I tell you that your home could be priced well and marketed well, but if you make it too difficult for buyers to get in to see it, the statistical probability is that they will (a) find and choose another home from those that are more easily accessible to view, and/or (b) assume you are not motivated to sell, get irritated and pass on your home as a result.

Want multiple offers?  Make sure your home is available to be shown on demand, or as close as possible to that. Inconvenient?  Yes.  Frustrating?  Sometimes.  A challenge to keep the place clean at all times? Assuredly.  But, my dear reader, no one ever promised you a rose garden; decide what your priorities are and, if you decide that getting top dollar for your home is at the top of that priority list, then also decide to be willing to deal with the inconvenience involved in churning up multiple offers and getting your home sold.

#3:  Immaculate look and function.  The homes that get multiple offers (outside of the foreclosure arena, anyway), are those with look, feel and function that can be described in one word: covetable. You’re not trying to create a situation in which your home barely edges out the listing down the street in the hearts and minds of your target buyer. If you want multiple offers, what needs to happen is for multiple buyers to fall deeply in love with your home – enough to brave the competition and put their best foot (and top dollar) forward.

Today’s buyers are no dummies. They’ve just lived through the worst real estate recession anyone can remember, and they’re much more frugal than buyers were at the last peak of the market. To boot, mortgage and appraisal guidelines and their own smart sense of frugality prevents them from just hurling dollars at any old place. Accordingly, they are not easily tricked into competing for a home by a slipshod paint job and a few pieces of Pottery Barn furniture.  

To generate multiple offers, prepare your home by ensuring it is:
*immaculate from the inside out – basements, garages and crawl spaces included
*de-cluttered and staged to the nines – including fresh paint, carpet and other things that need replacing
*in fine mettle – make sure things like doors, windows and systems buyers test (e.g., stoves, faucets, heating and air conditioning) are not creaky, wonky, leaky or otherwise dysfunctional – and if you’ve done any major home improvements or replaced any appliances or systems lately, market that fact to show off the move-in readiness of the place.

#4: Just enough market exposure.  If your home is so lucky as to get an offer the first day or so on the market, count your blessings. But also calculate your opportunity costs: many buyers can’t get out to see homes that quickly – some are unable to house hunt except on the weekends! In my local markets, I’ve seen time and time again that listing agents who are skilled in cultivating multiple offers often plan from the jump to allow the home to be exposed to the market long enough for all qualified and interested buyers to see it and get their offers on the table.

And what’s more, they expressly message the calendar for market exposure, Open Houses and even the offer date and review timeline in the listing, from the very beginning. Here, it’s very common to see a listing come on the market with a calendar of 1-2 Open Houses and an offer date sometime early in the week following the second one. Ask your agent to brief you on the standard practices for market exposure in your local area.

Allowing for ample market exposure – and including the timeline in the listing – lets buyers know that they will be able to get to the property and get their offers considered, and creates some urgency, as well.  Smart buyers interested in properties like this will take care to have their agents contact the listing agent as soon as they think they may want to submit an offer, though; this way, if someone makes a so-called ‘pre-emptive’ offer, you’ll get a call from the listing agent and a chance to compete.

#5:  Sellers who are willing to revise.  If you think most of the tips here are not for you because you’ve already blown your chance to sell for more than asking – think again! A number of times, I’ve witnessed what I call the Sweet Spot Phenomenon, where an overpriced home sits on the market for months with no bites, sometimes even through multiple price reductions. Finally, the seller lowers the price to the ‘sweet spot,’ and it generates multiple offers and sells for more than the final list price.

There are definitely homes whose sellers net more than they expected because they were willing to revise the list price downward in response to market feedback (i.e., no showings, no offers or lowball offers).  

If your home’s been lagging on the market, talk with your listing agent about what sort of price reduction strategy is likely to maximize your net sale price. Hint: many more buyers are attracted by chunky reductions or reductions below a common online search price point limit than by tiny, incremental reductions. For example, you might draw more flies buyers, and ultimately more money, with the honey of a price reduction from $499,000 to $474,000 than with a series of small reductions from $499,000 to $479,000, because there is a set of buyers who may be cutting their search off at $475,000 – so a price cut below that point will expose your home to a whole new group of prospects.

For information about financing or the economy, please contact me at Bill@billnickerson.com   or  978-273-3227

FHA Streamline Refinance

FHA streamlineDo you currently have an FHA mortgage?  And has it not made sense to refinance because of the High Mortgage Insurance Premiums?  Well, FHA just announced that it is going to reduce the Mortgage Insurance fees for current FHA mortgage holders.  But before you get excited, there are some rules to follow.

You must have taken the mortgage out prior to May 31st 2009 and of course be current on all payments.  The Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium will be greatly reduced and the monthly mortgage insurance is only 55 cents per thousand borrowed.  This is huge news…for the last several months; homeowners have not been able to refinance their current homes due to insurance being so high!

THE BENEFITS:

Refinance at today’s historical low rates

Refinance with NO closing costs

NO APPRAISAL REQUIRED (the term can be the lesser of 30 years or remaining term plus 12 years)

NO income verification required (we simply verify you are currently employed but not the income amount)

Restrictions include the following:  You cannot have missed a mortgage payment for at least the last 12 months.  You have to be currently employed (income is not a factor).  You must still reside in the home as your primary residence.  Other restrictions may apply. 

Last month, the Obama Administration announced a broad package of actions and legislative proposals to help responsible homeowners save thousands of dollars through refinancing. This includes the changes announced today that will benefit current FHA borrowers – particularly those whose loan value may exceed the current value of their home.  By lowering monthly mortgage costs for homeowners, FHA hopes to help more borrowers stay in their homes, thereby decreasing the potential for future defaults and reducing losses to the Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund.

Currently, 3.4 million households with loans endorsed on or before May 31, 2009, pay more than a five percent annual interest rate on their FHA-insured mortgages.  By refinancing through this streamlined process, it’s estimated that the average qualified FHA-insured borrower will save approximately $3,000 a year or $250 per month. FHA’s new discounted prices assume no greater risk to its Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund and will allow many of these borrowers to refinance into a lower cost FHA-insured mortgage without requiring additional underwriting.  FHA-insured homeowners should contact their existing lender to determine their eligibility.

June 11th is just around the corner.  Contact me today to refinance into a lower interest rate.           

Bill Nickerson        Bill@billnickerson.com         978-399-1313