In a recent study, 19 percent of American consumers who reported finding an error in their credit reports opted not to dispute the error, even when they were offered $5 to file the dispute! Why not? Well, some said they thought the error was too minor to impact their score, while others said the dispute process seemed too difficult to tackle.
The fact is, when youre trying to qualify for a home loan, some of the items on your credit report that can pose a threat to your home finance plans might surprise you. Here are some surprising credit report entries you absolutely must fix, especially when you are in the process of buying or refinancing a home.
Account balances you recently paid down or off. If youve just finished paying a bill down or off, you might not dispute the elevated balance that remains on your credit report because its not actually an error, per se. But the whole point of paying the balance down was to bring down your credit utilization ratio, which is a heavily weighted factor in your overall credit score.
Correcting the actual balances of your outstanding bills downward to account for your recent pay-down efforts poses such a large potential improvement impact for your credit score that it might even be worth paying your mortgage professional the $30 to $50 it will cost for them to initiate a Rapid Rescore, which can update your reports to reflect your slimmed-down balances in about 72 hours, compared with the 30 to 60 days youd expect to wait to see results from a traditional dispute or update.
Incorrect former addresses. Of the 19 percent of consumers who spotted an error on their report in the study, nearly 40 percent of those errors were in what the credit bureaus call header data," things like the consumer's previous street address. Many elected not to dispute these sorts of line items because the error doesn't seem like it would impact their credit score. While an inaccurate address might not have much to do with your score, it can still wave a red flag, signaling issues that can foul-up your mortgage application.
A misspelling in an otherwise correct street name should not cause you grave concern. But if the previous addresses listed are in the wrong city or state, or otherwise come out of nowhere, they might signal that someone has used your name and/or social security number to obtain credit at a different address. Credit card fraud and identity theft are difficult to unravel when youre not seeking credit; they are much more complicated to resolve when the credit stakes are high and the underwriter as picky as they are in the course of applying for a mortgage.
Bills that were never yours in the first place. As with completely bizarre former addresses, accounts listed on your credit report that you never opened in the first place can be a red flag that tips you to the fact that someone else might have stolen your identity and opened a credit card or account in your name. If you find one of these items on one credit bureau report, but its currently closed or has a zero balance, you might be tempted to let it slide, thinking it cant move the needle on your credit score. In reality, though, if someone is using your identity to obtain credit and you fail to dispute that the bills belong to you, they might continue to use it, which can cause you real problems. Of course, if the bills werent paid on time or have been placed in collection, disputing the accounts presence on your credit report is a must.
If they were paid on time every time, though, the analysis might be different. Unfortunately, instituting a fraud-based credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports at the same time as youre applying for a mortgage can complicate your own loan qualification process significantly. If you find yourself in this situation, carefully scrutinize the rest of your report and the credit reports you receive from the other bureaus to detect whether other fraudulent accounts exist, then consult with your mortgage professional on exactly when and how you should go about disputing the accounts which werent actually yours.
Derogatory items that should have aged off. Very few of us are perfect, and you might have worked hard to pay your bills on time in an effort to overcome a credit ding from back in the days. Although the impact a derogatory item has on your credit score wanes over time, its still your right (and your responsibility) to make sure negative items disappear from your credit report when they are supposed to thats 7 years for a late payment, 10 years for a bankruptcy. If you are still seeing credit dings on your report after more than the relevant time frame has elapsed, dispute them and claim the rehabbed credit (and score) youve since earned.
Its not very common that credit report disputes cause dramatic changes in credit score, but again, many borrowers arent disputing these sorts of items they dont realize could make a difference in their homebuying or refinancing prospect.
Beyond that, if youre close to a credit tier cutoff, like 620-640 or 740-760, depending on your loan type, even a few points difference can be the difference in qualifying for a home or not, or paying a higher mortgage interest rate for the life of your loan. For these reasons, it behooves every potential borrower to be proactive in spotting and correcting these must-dispute errors.
Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dropped 9.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in February from an upwardly revised 5.40 million in January, and are 2.8% below the 5.02 million pace in February 2010. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects an uneven recovery. "Housing affordability conditions have been at record levels and the economy has been improving, but home sales are being constrained by the twin problems of unnecessarily tight credit, and a measurable level of contract cancellations from some appraisals not supporting prices negotiated between buyers and sellers," he said. "This tug and pull is causing a gradual but uneven recovery. Existing-home sales remain 26.4% above the cyclical low last July."
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $156,100 in February, which is 5.2% below February 2010. Distressed homes - sold at discount - accounted for a 39% market share in February, up from 37% in January and 35% in February 2010. "The decline in price corresponds to the record level of all-cash purchases where buyers - largely investors - are snapping up homes at bargain prices," Yun explained. "We'd be seeing greater numbers of traditional home buyers if mortgage credit conditions return to normal."
Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 3.5% to 3.49 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.5-month supply in January.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 7.2% to an annual pace of 770,000 in February and are 8.3% below February 2010. The median price in the Northeast was $230,200, down 9.5% from a year ago.
RE/MAX Using Technology to Offer Buyers More Options
In a strategic technology move, RE/MAX, LLC is now syndicating property listings through a number of high-profile partners so potential home buyers and sellers will have more options to find listings. Zillow, Trulia and Homes.com are among the most-trafficked real estate websites in the industry, and now join a growing list of sites through which RE/MAX will be syndicating residential and commercial listings.
In an age when most consumers start their property search online, its critical that we deliver easy access to our listings and help consumers reach the most professional agents in the business, said Kristi Graning, senior vice president, eBusiness and Emerging Technologies. Our partner sites have tremendous exposure with consumers, which is one of many benefits they offer RE/MAX agents worldwide. Were excited to see this listing syndication engine go to work.
US Home Sales Predicted to Rise in Spring Selling Season
Based on a new U.S. housing report from Altos Research released this past week, while the 90-day rolling average still shows monthly declines, week-over-week data are beginning to show signs of improvement this upcoming spring. These numbers would indicate a good start to what is, typically, the strongest sales period of the calendar year.
In February 2011, the Altos 10-City Price Composite decreased by 2.01% to $433,573. Once again, prices were down in each of the 27 markets tracked, with the most marked changes seen in San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Detroit. Of note are sharp increases in listing inventory in several major markets, most notably San Jose (8.81%), Washington, DC (7.99%), and San Francisco (7.96%).
Housing inventory is up by 3.75% nationwide. Increases should be expected, as sellers try to capitalize on seasonal real estate activity.
Contact me to discuss activity in your specific neighborhood of Mercer County and surrounding areas.
New Jersey Home Sales Still Affected by Distressed Properties
Freddie Mac has announced the results of its fourth quarter Conventional Mortgage Home Price Index (CMHPI) Report, which showed a continued decline in U.S. home values for the fourth quarter of 2010 as a result of distress property sales in the same period. Freddie Mac's chief economist Frank Nothaft said, "Foreclosed-property and short sales remain a big part of the market. However, new foreclosures will begin to gradually slow. Delinquency rates reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association continue to recede from their peaks but remain high, particularly in distressed areas of the country."
Nothaft added, "Low mortgage rates and home prices have combined to push homebuyer affordability to levels not seen in decades in most places. This high affordability will likely translate into an increase in 2011 home sales relative to last year."
Middle Atlantic Division (NJ, NY, PA): decreased 1.1% (4.4%, annualized) in the fourth quarter of 2010. Over the last 12 months, home values decreased 1.7%, and during the last five years, home values decreased 0.6%
Call or email me to find what your property is worth and what values in your community are doing. Each area is different and you need a local expert to give you local knowledge.
Nationwide housing affordability during the fourth quarter of 2010 rose to its highest level in the 20 years since it has been measured, according to National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) data. The HOI indicated that 73.9% of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2010 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,400. The record-setting index for the fourth quarter surpassed the previous high of 72.5% set during the first quarter of 2009 and marked the eighth consecutive quarter that the index has been above 70%. Until 2009, the HOI rarely topped 65% and never reached 70%.
Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said this is good news, but, "Both home buyers and builders continue to confront extremely tight credit conditions, and this remains a significant obstacle to many potential home sales.
Most affordable communities were Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind., Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; Syracuse, N.Y; Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich.; and Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.
Most affordable smaller communities were Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., Lansing-East Lansing, Mich.; Kokomo, Ind.; Mansfield, Ohio; and Bay City, Mich.
New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., again led the nation as the least affordable major housing market during the fourth quarter of 2010. This was the 11th consecutive quarter that the New York metropolitan division has held this position. Other most-expensive areas were San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.; Honolulu; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; and Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.
Least affordable smaller communities were Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., Ocean City, N.J; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.; Laredo, Texas; and Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.
New Jersey offers home buyers urban, rural, condo, townhome, acreage, estate, historical homes, and everything inbetween. Call or email me to find the home that suits your needs in 2011.
Trulia.com released the results of its biannual American Dream survey, which has tracked American attitudes towards homeownership since 2009. Harris Interactive conducted this online survey on Trulias behalf in January 2011 among 2,079 U.S. adults aged 18 and over.
"1. American Dream Still Lives. Although foreclosures and underwater homes continue to plague the current housing market, 70% of Americans still view homeownership as being part of their American Dream. In fact, more than three out of four homeowners (78%) say their homes are the best investment they ever made. Conversely, only 20% feel trapped in their 'underwater' homes while 14% said they would walk away from their homes in a heartbeat if they could. "2. Millennials Driving Economic Recovery. Although many of todays young adults came of age during the housing crash, more than one in four (26%) say their views on owning a home have become more positive over the past six months. With 88% of 18-34 year old renters aspiring to be homeowners, this new generation of buyers will likely play a crucial role in stabilizing todays uncertain real estate market. "3. Stronger Long-term Recovery in Southern and Western Regions. Despite todays low mortgage rates and high affordability, most would-be homeowners are in no rush to buy. By comparison, a brighter beacon of hope shines in the South and West where the outlook for long-term recovery is much stronger. Undeterred by ongoing reports of foreclosures and underwater homes, 79% and 70% of renters in these respective regions say they plan to purchase a home.
"'Contrary to popular belief, the American Dream of homeownership has not turned into an American nightmare. In fact, were seeing a national resurgence of buyer and seller activity on Trulia.com,' said Pete Flint, CEO of Trulia. 'In January alone, we experienced an unprecedented level of site traffic including 11 million unique visitorswhich is more than 70% year-over-year growth. Weve seen leads to agents increase 60% year-over-year and are now experiencing 100,000 property views per minute.'
'During the housing bubble, the American Dream of homeownership was beyond reach for many young adults. Stuck with student loans and entry-level jobs, many had resigned themselves to being lifelong renters. But the tide is changingMillennials are now todays most serious home buyers,' said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, Consumer Educator for Trulia. 'Unjaded and largely untouched by the effects of the housing crash, this new generation of buyers will no doubt lead America from its current housing slump towards true recovery.'
'Although the American Dream of homeownership remains surprisingly strong, it will not be an immediate reality for most people,' said Nelson. 'Uncertainty has caused most would-be buyers across the nation to play a waiting game with the market, leading them to put their home purchases on hold for at least two years. However, new data shows that most renters in the South and West have long-term plans to buy, which is great news for Americas hardest-hit regions.'"
If you are ready to see what you can buy in our Mercer County market, just call or email me today.
Mercer County's population grew 4.5 in latest census
After two decades of population increases of more than 5%, growth in Mercer County slowed somewhat between 2000 and 2010 according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The countys population grew by about 4.5%, from 350,761 in 2000 to 366,513 last year. The county grew at about the same rate as the state as a whole, from about 8.4 million people to 8.8 million, or about 4.5%. Between 1981 and 1990, Mercer grew by 5.8%. It grew by 7.7% between 1991 and 2000.
Leading locations for growth were Robbinsville and West Windsor. Robbinsville grew by 32.8% from 10,275 to 13,642, while West Windsors population increased by 24% from 21,907 to 27,165. Mercer County is also the location of two of the ten most populous towns in the state. Hamilton is 9th,and Trenton 10th.
Both New Jersey and Mercer County were outpaced by overall population growth in the United States. The countrys population grew by about 9.7% over the last ten years, from 281.4 million to 308.7 million.
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said the growth reflected well on the region as a whole as a desirable and economically viable place to live. I think its a good sign for Mercer County that people are moving here as opposed to people moving out, he said. There will always be economic activity in the two hubs that surround Mercer County. Thats New York and Philadelphia and thats always going to keep people interested in our county. (Growth) may be down a little bit, but I think were doing well here in Mercer County compared to the rest of the country.
Contact me for relocation information, if you are considering a move to central New Jersey.
"We've now seen three straight months with fewer than 300,000 properties receiving foreclosure filings, following 20 straight months where the total exceeded 300,000," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.
"Unfortunately this is less a sign of a robust housing recovery and more a sign that lenders have become bogged down in reviewing procedures, resubmitting paperwork and formulating legal arguments related to accusations of improper foreclosure processing."
For January 2011, foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- were reported on 261,333 U.S. properties in January. One in every 497 housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month.
Nevada, Arizona, California posted top state foreclosure rates. Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 in January were Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Florida and Colorado. Other states with foreclosure activity totals among the nation's 10 highest in January were Illinois (13,164), Georgia (12,772), Nevada (12,263), Ohio (8,924) and New Jersey (5,526).
If you want to avoid foreclosure, and are having trouble paying your mortgage, call or email me today. You have options.
This year, RE/MAX celebrates its 38th birthday, and this month, RE/MAX and its Co-Founders, Dave and Gail Liniger, celebrate a year of remarkable achievements. According to the company, in 2010, RE/MAX worldwide franchise sales were up nearly 30% from the previous year and RE/MAX agents were ranked the most productive in the industry by two notable industry surveys.
Its been an exhilarating ride, through the ups and downs of every type of market imaginable, said RE/MAX Chairman Dave Liniger who opened his first RE/MAX office in 1973, forever changing the face of real estate. Weve accomplished a lot of things in 38 years, but by far our greatest success is having an impassioned network of the most professional agents in the business helping buyers and sellers around the world. Theyre making a difference every day and I couldnt be more proud of their accomplishments.
RE/MAX is now in more than 80 countries around the world, a presence greater than any of its competitors, and building on four decades of tradition, the global network continues to set the pace for the real estate industry. Most notably, Liniger and RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly have been instrumental in shaping the housing recovery and government policies. Kelly serves on the Federal Reserve Board and Liniger was named one of BusinessWeek Magazines 50 Most Powerful People in Real Estate 2010.