Sunday, September 04, 2011

Common credit myths about buying a home

(ARA) - Whether your annual earnings range well into six figures or are on the more modest end of national salary averages, you know you'll probably need credit to buy a home. While you likely know how important credit is to your home-buying plans, you may not be aware of the truth behind some common credit myths.

Myth: If your bills are paid and you've never defaulted on a loan, mortgage or credit card bill, you don't need to worry about your credit report or credit score.

Truth: Many factors influence your credit score, and payment history is just one of them. When calculating your score, credit bureaus also consider length of credit history, types of credit used and ratio of credit available to credit used. Even if your payment history is good, scoring lower on one of the other factors could lower your overall credit score.

Myth: As long as you know your credit score, you don't need to look at your credit report before applying for a mortgage.

Truth: A lender will certainly look at your credit report, so you should know what's on it before they do. Errors may occur on a credit report, and if there are any negative marks on your credit history you'll want to know about them - and address them - before a lender asks.

Myth: Checking your credit score is a hassle, and it can't really help you manage your credit in the long run.

Truth: Websites like make it easy to check your credit score. Keep in mind that lenders use a variety of scores when evaluating credit worthiness, and the one you obtain online will vary from what a lender might see. Still, any score can be a valuable educational tool that helps you better understand how lenders view your credit.'s Credit Score Center can help you understand how your score is calculated, which factors impact it and the best time to apply for credit.

Myth: If your credit is not perfect, you won't be able to get a mortgage.

Truth: Lenders are more strict than they've been in the past and a good credit score and report can certainly make you a more appealing prospect to them. However, a score in the lower range doesn't mean you can't get a mortgage at all. But a higher score is likely to net you more options - and better terms.

Myth: When you apply for a mortgage, the lender could share your personal information (including your credit score and history) with other companies.

Truth: The law limits how banks and other financial institutions can use your information and to whom they can disclose it. If you're not sure how a lender may use your information, ask. Depending on the situation, you may be able to limit disclosure of your information.

Home prices and interest rates are still low across the country, making it a good time to buy a house, real estate experts say. Knowing the truth behind some common credit myths - and understanding your own credit history and score - can help you take advantage of the many opportunities still available for home buyers.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Moving with Children? Here Are Some Tips To Make It Go Smoother.

 When adults decide to move, it's often to pursue an exciting opportunity or discover a new place. But for children, moving can be much harder to understand, as often they've only known one place as home.

As you travel through adulthood, the unknown becomes more alluring, but it's because you've been through major life changes before. That's why it's important to take some steps to make this major transition easier on your kids. Here are some tips from the moving experts at Penske truck rental for helping your children adapt to a new place, along with some practical moving advice for families:

* Open a line of honest communication. It can be hard to tell your kids that they'll be moving, but making sure that they know they can talk about how they're feeling about the move is important. Try to keep the conversation positive by telling them about all the fun things they'll be able to do in their new home, but acknowledge that they'll feel some sadness about leaving their old one.

* Help them say goodbye. Organize a going-away party for your children and their friends, and work with the parents of their friends to gather contact information so they can keep in touch after you move.

* Take inventory. Take a minute with each child to go through toys and clothes to see what can be donated. By letting them help with these decisions, you can eliminate any angst that might come if they realize something they wanted was left behind when you get to your new home.

* Pack a first-day box. Have each child pack a box of things that they will want the first day you move into your new home, like favorite toys, books or stuffed animals. Have the movers pack these boxes last so they are the first thing that is unloaded when you arrive. If you are moving a long distance, have each child pack another bag with items to keep them entertained during the trip.

* Form a moving team. Creating roles for your older children so they can help you move can make your move go quickly and smoothly. If possible, arrange for somebody to watch your younger children so you can focus on moving tasks. Hiring movers can also help take some of the pressure off you so you can tend to your children. Your younger children may also be thrilled by the chance to see the moving truck up close, so take the time to show them.

* Help them feel at home. Showing your children new parks and other attractions in your new community will help them feel excited about their new home. Plan ahead to get them enrolled in activities with other children so they can quickly make new friends. However, be sure to explain to them that making new friends takes time, so they aren't discouraged if it doesn't happen for them right away. Communicate with their teachers to see if there's anything special you can do to help your children feel more comfortable at school.

By doing the little things to help your children cope with the tough parts of moving, you'll put them in a position to acclimate themselves to their new home quickly and easily. For more helpful moving tips, visit 

July 2011 Pending Home Sales Up Almost 15% Over 2010

Pending home sales declined in July but remain well above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All regions show monthly declines except for the West, which continues to show the highest level of sales contract activity.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, slipped 1.3 percent to 89.7 in July from 90.9 in June but is 14.4 percent above the 78.4 index in July 2010. The data reflects contracts but not closings.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales activity is underperforming. “The market can easily move into a healthy expansion if mortgage underwriting standards return to normalcy,” he said. “We also need to be mindful that not all sales contracts are leading to closed existing-home sales. Other market frictions need to be addressed, such as assuring that proper comparables are used in appraisal valuations, and streamlining the short sales process.”
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.0 percent to 67.5 in July but is 9.7 percent above July 2010. In the Midwest the index slipped 0.8 percent to 79.1 in July but is 18.8 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South fell 4.8 percent to an index of 94.4 but are 9.5 percent higher than July 2010. In the West the index rose 3.6 percent to 110.8 in July and is 20.6 percent above a year ago.
“Looking at pending home sales over a longer span, contract activity over the past three months is fairly comparable to the first three months of the year, and well above the low seen in April,” Yun said. “The underlying factors for improving sales are developing, such as rising rents, record high affordability conditions and investors buying real estate as a future inflation hedge. It is now a question of lending standards and consumers having the necessary confidence to enter the market.”

New Law for Homes Heated by Oil Effective Goes Into Effect September 30th

A new law requires that by September 30, 2011, owners of one- to four-unit residences that are heated with oil must already have or will need to install an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve on their heating equipment. Installation of these devices must be performed by a licensed oil burner technician. Technicians are employed by companies that deliver home heating oil, or they are self-employed. It is important to note that heating oil systems installed on or after January 1, 1990 are most likely already in compliance because state fire codes implemented these requirements on new installations at that time.

For those who need to install this equipment, state officials estimate that the typical cost of installing either an oil safety valve or oil supply line with a protective sleeve ranges from $150 to $350 (including labor, parts, and local permit fees). While it is an expense that is not insignificant, the costs to clean up a leak can be thousands of dollars.

It is important for home owners to remember that this rule applies to all home owners, regardless of whether they are selling their home or not. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has an excellent, easy-to-understand document that explains this new rule. The document can be found at