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45024452_SNo matter how sincerely you promise to reimburse a lender, you probably won’t get a mortgage loan unless you have a good record of credit. But do you understand the mechanism behind the credit-reporting industry? Here are three things you may not have realized.

There are more than three credit bureaus

Most people know about the major ones — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — but there are other credit-reporting bureaus. Some of them deal with specialty areas, such as whether you’re a good or bad insurance risk, but the big three do not control all credit decisions. None of them, however, are government agencies. They’re businesses that collect and sell information.

Credit reports don’t include every debt you owe.

Different credit bureaus create different credit reports on you. They get the data for these reports from lenders, who may or may not report the debt to all of them. While your car loan and credit-card debt will likely appear on the major bureau reports, utility bills and similar smaller debts may not make it. That’s why it’s wise to check more than one report.

You still owe debts that don’t appear on your credit report.

Related to the previous section, when a debt is missing or falls off your credit report, that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Maybe the lender didn’t report it to that credit bureau, or maybe the statute of limitations for how long that item can stay on your credit report passed. Either way, you still owe the money.

Though it may seem like your creditworthiness is computed using a magic black box, there’s actually a rhyme and reason to your score. The information reported to the bureaus offers an objective prediction of your future behavior.

If you’re denied a loan because of your credit, ask your lender how you can improve your chances in the future.


condoCondominium ownership is a great option for first-time buyers, empty-nesters and anyone in between who is looking for financial flexibility without the responsibility of major property maintenance. What do you need to know if you’re in the market to buy a condo? Is the condo lifestyle right for you? Read on!

What, exactly, is a condo? A condominium is one of a group of attached housing units where homeowners buy their individual unit spaces. The key difference from a single-family home is that there is no individual ownership of a plot of land. All the land in the condominium footprint is technically owned in common.

About homeowners associations. Condominiums will usually have an association that is charge of keeping everything running smoothly within the community. This includes making sure that building exteriors are in good condition, and that grounds and landscaping are maintained. They will typically have a board or governing body that oversees and enforces community rules, such as pet policies, parking rules and use of common areas, to ensure that all owners have a pleasant environment. Many condominiums outsource board responsibilities to a professional property management company, which is paid by mandatory dues from individual unit owners.

Maintenance — who’s responsible? As a condominium owner, you will be responsible for maintaining everything inside your unit. Any repairs, updates and decorating decisions will be your responsibility — and typically made at your discretion unless they directly impact your neighbor. Usually, the exterior maintenance and lawn care are paid for out of homeowner dues collected and managed under strict rules.

Is insurance needed? Just like a single-family home, condominium owners should have homeowner’s insurance. However, insuring common areas is not the responsibility of the individual owner. The exterior walls and roof are insured by the condominium association, while all interior walls and all other interior items are insured by the homeowner.

Do your homework before purchasing a condo. You may understand the rules of the community and your individual responsibility, but you’ll want to know about the community itself. For example, condominiums that cater more to empty-nesters may not be the most family-friendly. You may also want to determine whether the condo is a quiet haven, or more lively and close to shopping, dining and entertainment. There are many condos with different amenities. With a little research, you can find the one that is right for you.


Selling a lifestyle

May 5
10:11
AM
Category | General

6738390_SWhen it comes to buying a home, practical decision-making and emotions are intimately connected. Buyers may be looking for a gourmet kitchen or a beautiful bath, but little luxurious touches can be enough to convey the enviable lifestyle they want. Contrary to what you may think, creating an upscale look doesn’t have to come at an upgraded cost. Consider adding some of these affordable luxury items to stage your lifestyle sale.

Bath bliss. Baths are major selling features for homes, so why not create a spa-like feel to sell yours? This can be achieved by upgrading to fancy towels and purchasing some designer bath salts to display. Prospective buyers will envision themselves in a relaxing retreat.

Bedroom beauty. Luxury linens in the bedroom can help you achieve the look of a four-star hotel without taking out a second mortgage. Add some mood lighting, candles and satin pillows, and you’ll be selling sweet dreams.

Kitchen couture. Displaying some gourmet items in your kitchen will be sure to whet the appetite of potential buyers. A new espresso machine or elegant wine decanters on the counter will be a recipe for top-notch entertainment and relaxation.

By doing a little bargain shopping, you can achieve the luxury look for less. Peruse websites like Overstock.com or discount stores like HomeGoods to get designer-label goods at lower prices. This small investment may pay big dividends when you sell your home.


Buying a home — and a neighborhood

Apr 21
3:32
AM
Category | General

42388156_SIf you’re looking to buy a home, you probably have a wish list. Your ideal property has a certain number of bedrooms and baths, and you may be looking for special features like a home office, pool or spacious backyard. However, finding a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle and needs is just as important as the home itself. Review these important considerations before taking the plunge.

Schools rule. If you’re looking to buy a family home, you’ll no doubt be concerned with the quality of your school district. But even if you don’t have school-age children, a well-rated school district always increases real estate value. By the same token, troubled school districts negatively affect home values, so you’ll want to choose carefully no matter what your circumstance.

Crime rates. A little investigating can unearth a lot of information about crime statistics in specific towns and neighborhoods. Make sure to do your homework before making a commitment.

Future plans. If you know the schools are good and the crime rates are low, don’t forget to research any changes that may be happening in the area. You can ask the town planning board about any upcoming projects, new businesses or other future developments that may impact your neighborhood down the road.

Convenience. You know the kind of lifestyle you want, and now is the time to make sure your neighborhood is a good fit. Do you want to be close to the action with great access to dining, shopping and cultural activities? Or do you want to sacrifice convenience for a more remote location with added privacy? Determine what is most important to you when analyzing your potential neighborhood.

Get to know the neighbors. For many people, the community is just as important as a home’s square footage or kitchen upgrades. If you will be raising a family, a neighborhood full of families that is close to recreational facilities may be most appealing to you. If you’re an empty-nester who values quiet, a community brimming with kids may not be as appealing.

Making a well-informed decision when choosing your community will yield happy results for years to come.

 


furnishedYou’ve staged your home to perfection, and it’s ready to go on the market. Perhaps it looks so great that potential buyers will want your house — and everything inside it. Should you sell your home furnished? Here’s what to consider.

Attracting more buyers. While many people in the market for a new home have their own furniture, some may not. Perhaps it’s their first home and they’re starting from scratch, or their current furnishings just won’t work in the new space — either way they may want what you’ve already thoughtfully designed for the unique space. By offering your home furnished, you could simplify the purchase process and take the guess work out of decorating.

Making a faster sale. Homes that are decorated and staged will not only attract more views, but they will likely result in a faster sale. Potential buyers will be drawn to the finished look, and the fact that they will save on decorating costs is another thing for the “plus” column. Interested parties will bid quickly on a furnished home before someone else snags it.

Dollars and cents. Furnishings are always negotiable in a home sale and are a great way to bring buyers to the table. Including furniture may or may not result in a higher sale price, but it will give you leverage when you’re closing the deal. In addition, leaving your home without having to relocate bulky furniture will save on costly moving expenses. The bottom line: always be open to offering up some of your furnishings — if you can’t make a deal, you can just take it with you!

 


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