Author: C21Discovery Guest Blogger

Pre-Appraisal Checklist

By Chris Smith
July 24, 2018

There are some things you can do to help ensure the home appraisal process goes smooth. See this checklist provided by the residential appraisal management company PropertyRate.

 

About the Author: Chris Smith is a Senior Loan Officer (NMLS  #253394) with New American Funding. For more information about home financing you may contact him at 714.401.5921. 

Advertisements

Protect Your Clients From Wire Fraud

By Chris Smith
June 28, 2018

Real Estate agents are often the first line of defense in preventing wire fraud. Let your clients know upfront how you communicate. You may want to add a disclaimer on your email signature stating that you never send sensitive financial information via email. Insist they do the same. Here are some additional security measures your clients should take:

 

chrissmith2014

 

About the Author: Chris Smith is a Senior Loan Officer (NMLS  #253394) with New American Funding. For more information about home financing you may contact him at 714.401.5921. 

 

 

 

 

*Reprinted with permission from New American Funding. Licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act – License #4131117 Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding (NMLS #6606) Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. 800.450.2010

 

 

Home Buying: Is this the right time?

By Mariella Reyes
April 19, 2018

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ismael Chavez of TEAM ChavezHomes at CENTURY 21 Discovery to discuss if this is the right time to buy a home.

“Clients always ask me if this is a good or bad time to buy their home,” CENTURY 21 Discovery’s Real Estate agent, Ismael Chavez says. Eleven years after, buyers entering the market are still shaken up by 2008’s housing bubble. According to Chavez it’s unlikely another bubble will happen again soon because of the fixed interest rates the circumstances are different.

Photo Credit: Marlon Marshall Parungao

Ismael Chavez began his real estate career in 2007, right before the market crash. “Those were dark times for the real estate industry, but the experience made me a stronger and better REALTOR®. I care about my clients,” he says. Shortly after the housing bubble, he expanded his practice and formed his team of agents operating under the business name of TEAM ChavezHomes at CENTURY 21 Discovery located in Fullerton, CA.

Chavez is optimistic about the future of the industry.

Ismael, what are some tips you can give future home buyers and sellers?

“It’s a seller’s market; we get many buyers but we have a shortage of homes for sale. It’s a great opportunity for those who’ve been thinking of moving and selling their homes. Although there’s never a wrong time to buy, home buyers will have to be competitive and focused during their search!”

We’ve added some extra pointers for both Buyers and Sellers below.  Happy house hunting.

About the Author: Mariella Reyes, is an Independent Content Writer for TEAM ChavezHomes of CENTURY 21 Discovery.  She’s worked as a content writer and producer for brands in the industries of escrow, mobile, fashion, plastic surgery, and beauty, and was the Marketing Coordinator during her time on the Board of Directors for Lean IN Los Angeles in 2016-2017. You can contact her at: mariella.reyesm@gmail.com

 

Organization 101: How Long to Keep Financial Documents

By New American Funding*
January 29, 2018
Originally published January 15, 2018

(Photo courtesy of New American Funding)

For many of us, the new year comes with resolutions, and getting organized tends to be a popular one. Perhaps not so coincidently, January is also Get Organized Month. Whether your document clutter is in digital or paper form, organizing it so you can find what you need more easily saves time and frustration. But how long should you hold on to this information?

Here are some general guidelines for determining what to keep and what to discard.

Tax Records

Generally, the IRS has three years to request an audit, though that is not set in stone. (See the IRS guidelines here. State tax record guidelines vary by state.) For that reason, you may want to keep at least an electronic file of your final returns indefinitely. When it comes to saving and storing the documents supporting your returns, at least seven years is considered a good practice for straightforward returns. This would include W-2 and 1099 forms, as well as charitable donation receipts.

Bank and Credit Card Documents

In general, most ATM and credit card receipts can be thrown away as soon as they are reconciled to your monthly statement. The exceptions would be if they are needed for business or medical reimbursement reasons or to support tax deductions. Assuming you are like most people and can access old account statements online, if needed, or can request a hard copy from your bank or credit card company, keeping monthly statements for longer than a year is typically unnecessary.

Brokerage Statements and Confirmations

Quarterly brokerage statements should be kept until they can be reconciled with an annual summary. Confirmations of purchases of securities, however, need to be held until the security is sold. At that time, both the purchase and sales confirmations will be used to support either a capital gain or loss on your tax return. Once an investment position is closed out and reported to the IRS, it’s considered a best practice to keep the documentation for seven years.

Bills

In general, you can get rid of a bill once your payment has cleared. However, if you can use it to support a deduction, such as utility bills for a home office, you’ll want to hold on to it. Invoices related to larger purchases, such as a car or appliance, should be retained for as long as you own the item in case you need to file an insurance claim or your proof of purchase is required for a repair covered under a warranty.

Mortgages and Loans

Any mortgage or loan (such as student, auto, or personal) documentation should be kept at least until the loan is paid off and you’ve verified it has been updated on your credit report. After that, you may want to keep the actual document releasing you from the obligation permanently in case proof is needed that it was repaid in full.

The Essentials

There are some documents that should be safely filed away indefinitely. These include birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage licenses, life insurance policies, legal filings, and current wills. Additionally, you may want to share copies of these important documents with the person who has your power of attorney or with your executor.

Protecting Your Information

Whether the documents you’re holding on to are digital or physical, ensure their safety. For physical documents, this means having a designated place, such as a fireproof lockbox or safe deposit box, for storage. Digital files should be backed up regularly, and it may be advisable to copy important, long-term files onto an external drive and store it with physical files.

Keeping your financial and personal documents organized and periodically purging and shredding or permanently erasing those you no longer need not only helps reduce the clutter—paper and electronic—it also can also remind you how far you’ve come financially and inspire you in setting future goals.

*Article reprinted with permission from New American Funding. Licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act – License #4131117 Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding (NMLS #6606) Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. 800.450.2010

Prequalified or Preapproved: Which Is Right For You?

By Nicole Johnson of New American Funding*
September 13, 2017
Originally published on September 12, 2017

(Photo courtesy of New American Funding)

This is it. You’re ready to make the move into homeownership. From all the online searching you’ve done, you know you need to get “pre-something-ed” to prove you are a serious buyer. However, which is it: prequalified or preapproved? Both sound good, but they serve different purposes.

Getting Prequalified

When you ask a Loan Officer to perform a prequalification, you can do it online, by phone, or in person. They’ll ask you to share information, often verbally, on your credit, your income; assets (savings, investments, retirement accounts the amount of equity you have in any real estate you currently own); and the amount of debt you owe.

It’s a conversation that helps establish some financial parameters before you start looking at and making offers on homes by helping you answer two key questions:

  • What price range should I be looking in when I start my search?
  • Am I ready to do this, or do I need to save more or pay down more debt?

While the process is useful, especially for first time homebuyers, it isn’t rigorous enough to distinguish you from the other attendees at an open house or when you request a showing. The reason is that the letter is based off something akin to a “best guess” by the Loan Officer, it’s not reviewed by an Underwriter, and doesn’t address the question that matters most to sellers, Real Estate Agents, and to you: Can they/we expect to be approved for the type of mortgage needed to buy this home?  To answer that, you need to be preapproved.

Preapprovals Open More Doors

The preapproval process is like a test drive before you submit your application for a mortgage. The Loan Officer and an Underwriter will verify the facts and figures you discuss, along with your credit history. This process can also help pinpoint things you might want to improve—or errors that you’ll want to correct—before entering the formal application review process. Loan Officers will also begin looking for mortgage programs that might apply to your financial situation. The preapproval process is more rigorous than a prequalification and because it is fully underwritten, helps ensure your home buying process with go more smoothly.

In addition to ordering your credit report, Loan Officers may ask for copies of:

  • Last year’s W-2s.
  • Current pay stubs.
  • Brokerage and other savings account statements.
  • Your monthly expenses.
  • A current mortgage statement and homeowner’s policy (if applicable).

Once you are preapproved, you’ll receive a letter to share with Real Estate Agents and sellers. After you have an offer accepted on a property, you will still need to officially apply for a mortgage. That review process will involve a deeper dive into the information you’ve already provided, as well as into the specifics of the property itself. Fortunately, having a preapproval also means faster service and turn times to get you into your home sooner, so the official mortgage application is likely to be easier than with just a prequalification.

Why Bother Getting Prequalified?

The prequalification process takes very little time or effort on your part. Any cost is typically limited to that of ordering a credit report. When you already have an idea of the area where you want to look and what type of home you can afford, skipping the prequalification step can make sense. Its best use is as a preliminary step for those who need a starting point.

By comparison, for most buyers, a preapproval is a step they shouldn’t skip. Having a letter from a lender that states you are preapproved can be especially helpful in neighborhoods where the existing home inventory is tight…and when the home you are looking at is perfect. Being preapproved makes it easier for the seller to accept your offer over that of a buyer that hasn’t taken this extra step.

*Article reprinted with permission from New American Funding. Licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act – License #4131117 Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding (NMLS #6606) Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. 800.450.2010

LinkedIn Pro Tips

By Guest Blogger
August 13, 2017
*This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on August 11, 2017

As the real estate industry continues to further embrace social media and technology in general, LinkedIn is quickly becoming one of the most valuable digital tools in an agent’s arsenal. LinkedIn is built for networking, and luckily for us, that’s one of the things we, as agents, do best. Here are a few “pro tips” that will help you become a LinkedIn expert in no time.

Choose the right photos.

When you are choosing a profile photo or an image to post with your content, make sure it is clear, professional, and consistent with your brand and your business.

Optimize your bio for real estate.

Once you upload your professional profile picture, it’s time to tackle your bio. Make sure this section lets prospects know who you (a real estate professional) are and what you will be sharing on LinkedIn. The bio is also a great place to let your personality shine through the screen.

Include your awards and accolades.

Don’t be afraid to exercise your bragging rights. In fact, LinkedIn has an entire profile section devoted to accomplishments. This section is where you share your awards, your brokerage’s awards, certifications, and courses.

Use media files efficiently.

When editing your profile, you can add media files as part of your page. These media files show up as actionable thumbnails which are great for displaying assets like your website. For the most clicks, put these files right below your summary section.

Publish content to generate leads.

One of the most important pieces of your LinkedIn profile is the content that you are sharing on it. Instead of going too heavy on listings, try to share articles that offer valuable real estate tips and advice from you or another reputable source.

Build your network.

Start by connecting with your network of realtors and brokers, then connect with their connections and so on. Your email contact list is also a great place to establish LinkedIn connections. If you would like to identify some more quality connections, use LinkedIn’s “Advanced Search” feature. It allows you to specify keywords and the location of where you would like to search for connections.

Implement these tips and techniques to establish connections and generate leads for your business through LinkedIn!

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.

How to Baby Proof for the Holidays

By Guest Blogger
December 20, 2016
*This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on November 16, 2015
(FYI – Most of these tips can also be used for pet proofing your home for the holidays!)

holidaybabyproofing

If you’ve got a little one this holiday season, don’t make the mistake of being unprepared. This time of year brings about unique potential dangers for him or her that you might not have considered. Follow these five tips on how to baby proof your home for the holidays.

  1. Skip the tablecloth. Infants are known to be grabby, and the hanging end of a tablecloth is too tempting to resist. In one quick tug, your tyke could accidentally pull down the entire dinner table setting, including your dishes, silverware, and candles. Yikes!
  1. Keep flowers out of reach. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias aren’t actually poisonous, but there’s still no reason for your child to ingest them. Keep all plants out of reach. They’re not food, and you never know which one may make a particular individual sick.
  1. Don’t wrap with ribbons. Stick to wrapping paper only when giving gifts. Leftover ribbons can easily fall on the ground, presenting a choking hazard for you baby. Additional tip: Gather up and throw away wrapping paper as soon as it’s discarded. Again, you never know what your child might put in their mouth.
  1. Secure your tree. Fasten your tree to the wall and consider blocking off the area with a baby gate because after all, the tree is for looking, not for touching. If you want to bring your baby closer, do so under strict supervision, and don’t let them tug on any branches.
  1. Hang ornaments higher. Hang all ornaments out of reach on the top half of the tree, just in case your tot does get closer to the tree. Smooth, shiny decorations will be sure to attract their attention, and all too many are easily breakable. If you feel like your tree is a bit bare, opt for paper or felt ornaments on the lower half.

These simple changes to your holiday decorating routine may make for a safer celebration for your newest family member.

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.

What Drives Mortgage Rates?

By Chris Smith
September 27, 2016

There are many things that drive mortgage rates available to Buyers. Some things are out of your control: National Employment Patterns, the Stock Market, actions of the Federal Reserve, natural disasters and geopolitical or global events.

Let’s focus on the things you CAN control to get the mortgage rate that fits your budget and allows you to get into that home you want.

what-drives-mortgage-rates

Credit Score
The better your credit score the lower your interest rate. Having a high credit score makes you a more favorable borrower in the eyes of the lender. First, find out what your credit score is. Then try improving your credit score before you start the loan application process. Talk to your loan consultant on ways you can improve your score.

Down Payment
There are a lot of low down payment options for borrowers. What you may not know is that if you increase your down payment on the home you are buying you can secure a lower interest rate. This can ultimately save you more money over the life of the loan.

Size of the Loan
The amount of money you borrow can impact the interest rate.  A larger loan amount will usually have a higher interest rate. The reason for this is because paying back a larger loan amount will likely take long and there is more at stake for the lending organization.

Type of Property and Occupancy
Loan pricing is slightly lower for single family homes compared to condominiums. Owner occupied loans also have lower rates than non-owner or investment properties.

The best way to understand all your options regarding interest rates is to talk to a loan consultant BEFORE you start your home search.

chrissmith2014

 

About the Author: Chris Smith is a Senior Mortgage Consultant (NMLS  #253394) with New American Funding. For more information about home financing you may contact him at 714.401.5921. 

Last-Minute Open House Cleaning Tips

By Guest Blogger
July 14, 2016
This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on February 19, 2016

Your open house is almost underway! You’ve already made sure your home is warm and inviting and you’ve taken time to carefully stage it. Now, here are some last minute cleaning tips to quickly spruce up any areas you may have missed.

OpenHouseCleaningTips

Prep for Pets
You may be ready for your open house, but your four legged friends might have other ideas. Perform a last minute inspection of any areas your pets frequent to make sure they haven’t left an unpleasant surprise somewhere in your home. Also, pet hair has a way of showing up unexpectedly. Vacuum carpets and sweep any floors with a rubber broom to clean up debris that may have gathered since your last cleaning.

Check Your Entryway
Although you may have painted your front door and meticulously cleaned your home’s entryway in the days before your open house, recheck it on open house day. Be sure to check for marks on your door, damaged plants, disheveled door mats, and unexpected messiness that may have accumulated in front of your home since you last inspected it.

Clean Up After Kids
If children happen to be in your home during the hours leading up to your open house, you may want to check for additional messes before potential buyers arrive. Look at your lower windows for finger smudges, which can be cleaned quickly with a cleaning agent and microfiber cloth. Also check your doorway for dirt, and look at the lower part of your walls for crayon streaks or other stains.

Ready Your Refrigerator
While easy to overlook, the inside of your refrigerator should be as neat and clean as the rest of your kitchen. Make sure it isn’t full of half consumed food or overstocked to the point where it looks cluttered. Additionally, any fridge magnets should be removed to further depersonalize your home for potential buyers.

Care for Your Lawn
Last minute removal of lawn debris can make your home more appealing and may attract more buyers. Depending on the season, eradicate lawn clutter with a leaf blower, a rake or a snow blower. If you’re too busy for exterior home cleaning, consider hiring someone to do it for you, so you can focus on the interior of your home.

These last minute cleaning tips may help your home shine brighter on open house day.

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.

Do’s and Don’ts During The Loan Process

By Bill FitzMaurice
May 19, 2016

You found your dream home and your offer was accepted. Congratulations, but before you start packing for your big move there are some definite Do’s & Don’ts we recommend buyers to follow as they go through the loan process.

DO:

DO ask donor(s) for gifted funds as soon as possible, if being used towards your down payment. Ask your Loan Officer about the necessary steps and documentation for gifts.

DO stay current on all your payments: mortgage, car payments, credit cards, student loans and any other debt.

DO continue to use your credit as normal. Changing your pattern may raise a red flag, causing your credit score to go down.

DO wait to make a major purchase such as a new car, boat or appliance until after your loan has funded.

DO keep copies of all important financial documents so you will be ready to provide if asked: check stubs, W-2’s, tax returns, bank and investment account statements, rental agreements, etc.

FemaleOnComputerDON’T:

DON’T keep cash in a safe or an overseas account if you plan to use these funds as a down payment. Ask your Loan Officer how and when would be the best time to put funds into your U.S. bank account if needed.

DON’T close credit card accounts. Keeping accounts open after you have paid them off lowers your debt-credit ratio. If you close a credit card account, it may appear that your debt ratio has gone up.

DON’T apply for new credit or give your personal information to anyone else who might run your credit report. Multiple credit inquiries may hurt your credit score.

DON’T make career moves. Your mortgage lender must verify your employment, so it’s crucial to maintain employment status.

DON’T make large deposits into your back account unless 100% necessary. If you must, save the documentation showing where the funds came from. Keep a “paper trail”.

Make sure to discuss any changes in your financial situation with your Loan Officer right away.

BillFitzmaurice2014(2)

 

About the Author: Bill FitzMaurice is a Senior Mortgage Consultant (NMLS #290216) with New American Funding. For more information about home financing you may contact him at (949) 291-1770.

%d bloggers like this: