Donna is our latest satisfied customer!

My assistant Lilly and I recently closed on a home for Donna, an 85-year-old client. Donna lived in San Mateo many years ago before moving to Las Vegas to be closer to family.

It didn’t take long for Donna to realize that Vegas wasn’t her scene, so she moved back to San Mateo. Once there, she quickly learned that she’d been priced out of her little town, and needed to find a less expensive option.

So, Donna started exploring Concord! That’s where we met – at one of my listings. She told me she was looking for a white kitchen in a traditional rancher. A few months later, she found her dream home in Concord

I stopped by on Saturday before a hike with my dogs to give Donna the key and help her carry in a few items she brought over.  They would have loved to help too and I would love to help you – dogs are extra ;-).

 

Tax returns and your loan approval!

Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending came up with another relatable blog recently: Tax Transcripts and 4506-T forms. It generally explains how those forms work, and reminded me of an experience of my own. First, a summary of Jay’s blog:

Every time a lender gets a loan from a borrower, they also have to get the last two years of tax returns. This is why borrowers sign IRS Form 4506-T as part of their disclosures. It formally authorizes lenders to request tax transcripts, which then show the filer’s status and income information.

Lenders are required to request transcripts from the IRS before a borrower can (borrowers can only request them directly if the IRS reject’s a lender’s request). If there is a minor error between the 4506-T and the tax return, this rejection may occur, so it happens pretty often.

That covers the basics of how the 4506-T form works and the role it plays in a real estate transaction. It’s a more subtle part of the process, but can cause huge headaches when done incorrectly. Take, for example, my experience with a property at Madeira in Pleasant Hill last year.

I represented the seller, and the buyer had their lender in Oakland, with a Bank out of L.A. Unbeknownst to us, the bank was being bought out and the new bank was called Bank of Hope – yes, really. But it turned out to be the Bank of Hopelessness.

Abode, Advertising, Banking, Building, Buy, Buyer

Processes changed, the lender in Oakland was let go and nobody knew what they were doing. Communication was terrible. One of the balls that got dropped was getting the tax returns. We closed almost two weeks late and the only way this ended up closing at all is by the processor who I had been speaking with regarding other issues. They actually went down to the IRS office and got the tax returns. She went beyond what is required (and probably got tired of our phone calls), but my seller is an attorney and also made multiple phone calls as they had already purchased a new home that was about to close.

This is one of the best reasons to get fully underwritten before you start to write offers. If all the documentation is in upfront, there won’t be any surprises or delays once you get into contract. Selecting the right lender can be the difference between smooth sailing and dark nightmares.

Pending: 304 Grapevine Pl. (Pleasant Hill)

A past client just put his home at 304 Grapevine Place in Pleasant Hill on the market. It went pending in 7 days and received four offers all over the asking price.

He only bought 15 months ago, but a career with the Coast Guard has him moving to Seattle and he will still walk away with some money in his pocket, although he is telling me Seattle is as pricey as the East Bay if not more so.

I love helping our military sellers and VA buyers. I specialize in knowing about the VA loan, have worked on a military base in Nuremberg, Germany and have a son who is currently in the Navy (on a nuclear sub, NuPoc graduate). If you know somebody who is eligible for the VA benefits and would like to know more about the home buying process, I would be honored to help them.

You can take a tour of their beautiful home here. If you’d like to know what it takes to get your home sold in 7 days or be next on my list of satisfied customers, please give me a call or visit my website at www.kristinlanham.com.

Congrats to two happy clients!

I want to offer my sincerest congratulations to Amanda and Siubhan on their recent closings!

Amanda, a past client of mine, decided she wanted to pursue her dream of having land, horses, chickens and a big garden. When a piece of land became available in Vacaville, she decided to make an offer and it was accepted! We then rushed to get her Concord home ready over the Thanksgiving holiday and were in contract by December 9th. Whew!

Siubhan is another past client who had bought a condo in Antioch four years ago, but had not been living in it for the last year or so and could not rent it out due to rental restrictions. She felt now was the right time to sell. Twelve offers and $26,000 over asking price later, Siubhan is excited to take a trip back to Scotland to visit family.

I would love to know your story and help you accomplish your dreams, reach out to me or visit my website: www.kristinlanham.com.

Navigating the inspection process when buying or selling a home

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, there will almost always be inspections done. Oftentimes, buyers will do roof, home, and pest inspections. Sometimes fireplace, foundation and sewer lateral inspections will be conducted as well.

Cranston, RI, April 17, 2010 -- FEMA inspector Mike Irwin with home owner Jose Henriquez run through his home inspection again to illustrate to the media what a FEMA home inspection looks like and what people can expect when they have their homes inspected. Photo: Michael Rieger/FEMA

Buyers are trying to determine the integrity of the house they want to buy – nobody wants to buy a home only to find out later that they will have to put additional money into it. However, sellers rarely know about these things off the top of their heads.

That is why it’s important, and beneficial to both parties, for inspections to be done. At the very least, a seller should do a pest inspection before going on the market to understand the cost of any issues, rather than deal with negotiating after something is discovered.

Once inspections are done, they become a disclosure. So, if a buyer gets scared off for some reason, the inspections are a disclosure for the next buyers. More than likely, this will incentivize the seller to work with the existing buyer. Occasionally, there are bad inspections with unreasonable pricing and there is no coming to agreement between parties. The seller will usually get another inspection from a more reputable inspector.

Tips for preparing to buy a home

It takes a lot of preparation to buy a home. I know, I know, thank you Captain Obvious, right? But if you’re going to be searching for a home in 2017, I want you to be ready for what is headed your way!

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From our friends at Bank of the West, here is a list of great tips for preparing yourself to buy a home. See my summary below:

1. Fix Your Credit

Your credit is one of the first things a lender will look at when approving you for a mortgage loan. You can get a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion at annualcreditreport.com. Make sure to check for mistakes and file a dispute with the business in question, as well as the credit agency, if you find any inaccuracies. They must investigate within 30-45 days.

2. Maintain Your Credit Score

Your FICO score is the most common number used by mortgage lenders to rate your creditworthiness. You can get your credit report with a FICO score for free, or for a small fee. Anything above a 740 FICO score will help you secure better interest rates. If your score is lower, you may still qualify for a mortgage, just with a higher interest rate attached. Your first instinct may be to find ways to boost that credit score. Here are two things NOT to do:

– Don’t close lines of credit – it may indicate credit risk and actually hurt your score

– Don’t open new lines of credit – the uncertainty of your spending habits with a new card might indicate risk and cause your score to tick up

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3. Get a Big Down Payment

You’ll get a better interest rate on a mortgage if you have a larger down payment because lenders will think you’re less likely to default on your loan. Aim for a down payment of at least 20 percent of the selling price. This will also protect you from paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects lenders if you default on a loan.

4. Get Pre-Approved

Meet with a mortgage specialist before you start shopping. They can help you determine an accurate budget and decide what kind of home you can realistically afford. Get a pre-approval letter and add it to a good credit report, income verification and a maximum allowable loan, and home sellers will take you most seriously among the suitors.

5. Keep Track of Your Money

You’ll have lots of documents, bank statements, etc. during the pre-approval and underwriting processes. These will be examined closely to verify income and expenses. If your records show unusual activity, you’ll be asked to explain it and you’ll have to jump that hurdle before continuing the approval process.

If you need a recommendation for outstanding mortgage brokers.  I have a few that I highly regard.

 

Open House this weekend: 3650 Sun View Ct. (Concord)

The Comforts of Home: 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom corner lot home!
Enjoy an eye-catching kitchen enhanced with new flooring, dual pane windows and a rebuilt back deck. The home boasts a 2-car garage, inside laundry, spacious bedrooms and updated bathrooms.

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Simplify your commute with a short walk to the North Concord BART station while living in a quiet, tucked away neighborhood.
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Come check out the Open House this weekend! We’ll be open both Saturday (12/3) and Sunday (12/4) from 1-4 p.m.

Check out the virtual tour of 3650 Sun View Ct. here!

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10 ways to improve your credit score

10 credit 2Last Tuesday, we wrote about how important it is to have high credit scores to purchase a home. Today, we’ll outline a summary of the main points from this list of 10 ways to improve your credit score from Inman.com.

If your score is lower than you’d like, these are good suggestions for how to help hike it back up, especially if you’re thinking about buying a new home:

1. Always pay on time

No lender likes to lend money to an individual who has a repeated record of missing his or her payments. Not to mention it will end up with a lower FICO score.

2. Keep your credit owed within limits

A good ratio is not having your unsecured credit outstanding above 50 percent of your annual salary. If you have $10,000 as your limit, then it is wise to restrict your statement amount to $5,000.

3. Always pay your bills on time, in full

This is one of the most important tips to improve credit score: On-time payments improve your credit score tremendously.

10 credit 34. Use two credit cards if you are a definite credit card spender

This is good and bad advice at the same time. FICO does not consider spending money on two credit cards as one. But if you have two credit cards, you can keep your usage percentage in control.

5. Maintain a good mix of good and bad loans — AKA, a healthy credit mix

Home loans and business loans are considered good loans. Personal loans and credit are considered bad loans.

6. Pay high-interest loans and small loans first

It is a prudent decision to pay your home loans over longer periods. Pay off your personal loans, credit cards and private loans first, as they tend to have a higher interest. Home loans, on the other hand, are just 9 percent to 11 percent, but they build an asset.

7. Close your unwanted savings accounts

Many people tend to abandon their savings accounts without closing them. If you have less than your Minimum Average Balance (MAB), it will start to affect your credit score. Also, when you finish a loan, it’s imperative to get the loan closure certificate.

10 credit 18. Check your credit reports regularly

Credit reports can be availed for a minimal cost. You can obtain them from the official FICO site. Just pay online and check your credit score at least once in a year, so that you can seek clarification on any mistake and have it sorted.

9. Monitor your co-signed joint accounts properly

In instances of co-signing a loan or maintaining a joint credit account, be careful when dealing with someone outside your close family.

10. Negotiate if you cannot pay on time

People often know that they would not be able to pay their bills in advance. If you know you will not be able to pay on time, negotiate with your bank. Banks will be willing to extend your loan period and reduce the EMI if they see a genuine customer.

Why your credit score is important to your home purchase

Did you know your credit score can affect your home purchase? In Keith Loria’s BHG story recently, he discussed this idea.

credit score 2As he points out, “having a good credit score can be the difference between obtaining the mortgage you need to buy your dream home—or settling for less because you didn’t qualify for the money you need.”

This is important as many buyers don’t consider their credit score until they’re already involved in the process. At that point, it’s usually too late to fix anything that might be wrong with your score. So think ahead and monitor your credit score!

Don’t like your credit score?   Paying off debts is the fastest way to up your score, but if you are in the process of applying for a loan, check with the lender first. Missing deadlines on your credit payments are huge hits to your credit score!

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Image by www.CafeCredit.com: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafecredit/27321078025/

I also spoke with my local lender, Jay Vorhees of JVM Lending, about this, and he gave me a few benefits to having a high credit score :

  1. Borrowers with higher credit scores usually get lower interest rates (especially when loan-to-value ratios are higher)
  2. Borrowers are allowed to make smaller down payments, if necessary
  3. Underwriting requirements become less onerous because there are fewer conditions and requirements
  4. Second mortgage financing is easier to obtain, if necessary

If you have any questions about credit scores, purchasing a home, or the market in general, please feel free to reach out. I’m happy to help or guide you to the right person!

Open House this weekend: 131 Appalachian Dr. in Martinez


Appalachian 3 You can’t beat the beauty of this home! 
Come check out this 4-bedroom, 2-bath, single-story home nestled in the Martinez hills.
The backyard has a deck with a hot tub, a fire pit, and an awesome fort for backyard adventures. Not to mention that breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside!
The home is 1,609 square feet of pure comfort. The kitchen has all updated, stainless-steel appliances and flows nicely into the living room, complete with a cozy fireplace.

A spacious master bedroom with plantation shutters and hardwood floorsAppalachian 1 put the finishing touch on this gorgeous house. We’ll be holding two Open Houses this weekend for your viewing pleasure.
Come by, say hi and check it out this weekend. I’ll be there and am happy to talk about the market and what it takes to get a home sold for top dollar in this market.
Visit our Open House this weekend from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday (8/20) and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday (8/21)!

You can see the virtual tour of 131 Appalachian Dr. here.