How to Improve Your Credit for a Home Loan

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Improving Your Credit Score

To get the best mortgage interest rate, you will need to have good credit. If your credit is not so good, cleaning up your credit report and increasing your credit score will greatly improve your chances of getting a good rate for a home loan. If your credit score is already good, you will need to maintain it.

Check Your Credit Report

There are three things a mortgage lender will look for when you apply for a home loan.

  1. You (and your spouse) have steady income.
  2. How much are you able to put down.
  3. Do you have a good solid credit history

You can check your credit report by requesting a report from one the three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Federal law allows you to request one free credit report each year from each agency. You can do this by visiting annualcreditreport.com

Check Your FICO Score

Your FICO score can affect the interest rate on your loan. The lower the score, the higher your rate which can possibly cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

In addition to your credit report, you can order your FICO scores from myFICO.com to get an idea of where your credit stands. You can also be able to see your scores from other sources such as credit card companies.

Dispute Inaccurate Information

Once you have your credit report, search it for any errors. Any errors or incorrect information can hurt your credit score and may cause your home loan to be denied. If any errors or incorrect information is found you can dispute it with the credit bureau. Providing documentation to support your claim of the error or incorrect information will help ensure it is removed from your report.

Pay Off Delinquent Accounts

Delinquent accounts are any late accounts, bills in collection, charge-offs, or judgments. If any of these accounts show up on your credit report, this will severely harm your chances of getting a mortgage. These accounts affect the payment history section of your credit score, which is the largest component of your score. You will need to start paying off and repairing these accounts.

Timely Payments Help Bury Delinquencies

Did you know that late payments can stay on your credit history for a whopping seven years? The damage to your credit is the worst when they first occur. If you have made a late payment, or just paid off your delinquencies, wait at least six months before applying for a mortgage. Six months of on-time payments can help your credit score start to build back up again.

Reducing Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

Your bank will look at your debt relative to your income. This is known as your debt-to-income ratio. This will compare the amount of money you have going out for debt to the money you have coming in (your income). Your bank and lender will want to see this ratio as low as possible. You will need to speak to your bank and lender to see what ratios they require to qualify for a mortgage.

There are a couple different ways to reduce your debt-to-income ratio. You can either increase your income, or the easier way is to pay down any outstanding debt you currently have. 

Don’t Incur Any New Debt

Don’t take on any new debt even if your debt-to-income ratio stays low. This includes applying for anything that can affect your credit score like credit cards, auto loans, or personal loans. You will also need to make sure you are not making any large purchases that can increase your debt. If you have any questions, always contact your mortgage lender first.

If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, reach out to any of our knowledgeable NextHome At The Lakes agents. 712-336-9999

Popular Landscaping Trends for 2021

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Landscaping Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic kept so many people home for most of 2020. And while things are finally starting to look up, many people are still spending more time at home in 2021. This time at home has many of us looking around and doing some home renovations, including landscaping.

So, what are the new trends that homeowners are using for their landscaping? 

A recent video from realtor.com has outlined some of the most popular landscaping trends so far in 2021, including:

Vegetable gardens: The pandemic saw many people start their own vegetable gardens, as a way to stay busy, to stay sane, and a way to avoid as many unnecessary trips to the supermarket as possible. With spring planting pretty much already here, vegetable gardening is, once again, proving to be one of the year’s biggest landscaping trends.

Views from the inside: Obviously, you would like your landscaping to look great while you’re outside. But as many people have been forced to spend more time at home, it’s becoming increasingly important for your landscaping to also look great from the inside. As the pandemic continues on into 2021, this trend of landscaping with interior views in mind is expected to stretch right along with it.

Backyard playgrounds: Most playgrounds across America were completely shut down and taped off. Kids had nowhere else to play but in their own home and yard. Even though many of the public parks have opened up, lots of parents are uncomfortable taking their children there to play. As a result, creating an inviting play space in the backyard has been a huge landscaping trend since the pandemic hit—and with summer coming up, that trend will just continue to gain popularity.

Front yard social area: With people craving interaction, they are starting to take advantage of the space in the front of the home and are creating inviting areas to get together with neighbors and friends. Whether it is your front porch, entryway stairs, or your driveway, people are taking advantage of the space to catch up with others in the fresh air.

If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, reach out to any of our knowledgeable NextHome At The Lakes agents. 712-336-9999

Why You Should Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage Before Looking for a House

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Should I get pre-approved for a mortgage before looking for a house?

When you are thinking of buying a home, it is important to get ahead of the game and get pre-approved. But what exactly does being pre-approved mean? 

Pre-approval means the borrower has submitted basic financial information and provided access to their credit report to a loan officer. Then the loan officer looks at all of your finances. This includes your income, debt, assets, liabilities, and credit history. They then will determine how much money you can borrow, how much you could pay every month and what your interest rate will be.

In today’s housing market, you need to do all you can to stand out in a massive sea of borrowers. When you are able to submit a pre-approval letter from your lender with an offer it not only shows how serious you are in buying, but it means they have already verified your information and you’ve started the mortgage process.

Sellers are more apt to accept an offer if you have shown them that you have been pre-approved, it means there should be fewer issues with the mortgage. One of the last things a seller wants is the process being held up because there is an issue with the buyers employment, credit, or with their financial position.

Getting pre-approved can be a quick process. Sometimes it can take as few as 24 hours. Of course you will need to have all of your documents ready, like bank statements, employment check stubs, and tax returns.

Finally, keep in mind that just because you’re pre-approved to borrow up to a certain amount doesn’t mean that you should actually borrow all the way up to that amount. You need to do what is most financially comfortable for you. 

If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, reach out to any of our knowledgeable NextHome At The Lakes agents. 712-336-9999

Spring is here! Ready to Sell Your Home?

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Spring is here! Ready to Sell Your Home?

Spring is in the air and if you thought there were lots of homebuyers looking for homes before, just wait, they are coming out of hibernation. Once the weather starts to warm up, that is when it is considered a hot time in the housing market. So, if you have been thinking about selling your home, here is why you should start moving forward with those plans.

Warm Weather = More Active Buyers

With the holidays and cold weather (some) sellers tend to put a pause on listing their homes. But when spring comes, people are anxious to get rid of the cabin fever and they start touring homes. With the longer days and vacations set for summer, spring is the perfect time for buyers to start house hunting. Also, many buyers start their search in the spring in the hopes to close before summer. This way they have some time to get used to their new area and if you have children, things can settle down before the school year starts.

This Is A Sellers Market

Even though the interest rates have slightly risen, they are still in the lower 3% range for a 30 year fixed rate (as of 3/22/2021). This has many buyers out there trying to take advantage of these low rates and searching for their “NextHome”. With so many buyers looking and with the low single-family housing inventory this creates an environment where lots of buyers are fighting to compete for what is available on the market, thus creating multiple offer scenarios. Good for sellers… not so good for buyers.

Get A Head Start

So if you are even thinking about selling you home, you need to get started getting your house ready to be shown. Now is the time to call one of our knowledgeable agents and have them come and look through your home and make suggestions on how to put your home’s best face forward. They will also walk you through the process so you can be prepared and know what to expect.

Give Us A Call

Whether you are just starting to think about selling your home or you have already made the decision to list, or, if you know someone who is thinking about buying or selling, give us a call. We love to help all of our clients during the process and beyond! 712-336-9999

Organizing Your Garage

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Organizing Your Garage

If your garage is like mine it ends up like a catch-all for things that don’t go in the house. Outdoor furniture, storage containers, seasonal decorations, and kids toys and bikes can fill up a garage fast! In order to get your garage looking neat and organized, you are going to need to have a system in place. Here are some tips to help you out:

Make Zones In Your Garage

Possible zones could be:

Car Parking Zone -When creating this zone, don’t forget to calculate space needed to open your vehicle doors.

Storage Zone – Remember to consider hot and cold fluctuations if your garage is not climate controlled. Is there area prone to insects or rodents.

Work Area Zone – If you or a loved one like to work in the garage, make them a space for these activities.

Declutter and Group

Once you have your zones, you can declutter and start to organize. Group your belonging into groups. Start with keep, sell, and donate piles. Then you can narrow it down even more by grouping your keep items into different categories like: tools, gardening, sports, seasonal decorations, outdoor furniture, etc.

Possible Storage Solutions

Sometimes you need to think outside of the box for garage storage.  Use walls, ceiling storage, and every inch of space you can find.

Pegboards are a good possible inexpensive way to organize. You can hang all types of tools and everyday items. Just make sure they aren’t too heavy.

Open Shelving units can be another fairly inexpensive way to help organize. Your items with be out in the open and easy to find.

Overhead storage can be used for things that aren’t used very often or for items that can’t be stored on pegboards or on shelves.

Hooks are good way to help organize. These can be used to hang bikes from the ceiling or hanging items on the wall that are to big or heavy for the pegboard.

Overall

A good schedule to go by is to re-organize your garage twice a year. Just make sure you are keeping efficiency and safety for you or anybody else that may enter the garage.

National Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day)

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Every year, National Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day) is celebrated on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Oh how I used to love to seeing my boys come home from school with their “Cat in the Hat” paper hats and other fun stuff the teachers would have planned for them to create and bring home that day. However, they are both a little older and now all I get when they come home from school is a “Teenager with an Attitude”, which is a far cry from the cute stuff when they were little!!

This annual event is part of the Read Across America initiative on reading created by the National Education Association in 1997. This motivational program and awareness reaches out to children of all ages, in all communities, and backgrounds and encourages them to read.

Here are some tips to help get your kiddos to read:

  • Read to them. It doesn’t matter how old they are, reading will help develop their brain. It will help them with their concentration, social skills, and ability to focus.
  • Have your kids read to you! This will help them get to know words and sounds. It will also spark their imagination and curiosity.
  • Visit the library. It is much cheaper then heading to the local bookstore to buy a book. Some libraries even offer free activities like storytelling times for the really little ones.
  • Pick up a book and read.  Children will often mimic their parents. So if they catch you reading, they are more likely to become readers themselves.
  • Take books with you when you go places. Have them in the car, in purses and backpacks. This will make them easily accessible and can help with the “I’m bored” times.

I hope this helps and don’t forget to celebrate Dr. Seuss Day with a fun book or activity. Happy reading!

Tips for Saving Your Down Payment

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TIPS FOR SAVING YOUR DOWN PAYMENT

Sick of renting? Wanting to become a homeowner?  Unless you have stockpiled cash, you are going to need a home loan and a down payment.  Home loans are all very different with different down payment requirements. That will need to be a whole different blog! But, typical down payments are between 10 to 20 percent of the total price.  So, what are some tips on how to save up for that down payment?

Goal and Timeframe

Saving up for a down payment can take quite a bit of time. But the timeframe is ultimately up to you and your finances.  You will need to have a plan.  By having a plan, you will stand a much better chance of achieving your goal sooner than later. Decide how much you want to save and divide that by how many months you have chosen as your timeframe.  24 months, 12 months, or 6 months?  This will all depend on your budget and what you can financially afford to set aside.

Cut Expenses

Is there money you are spending that you could be saving instead? Take a good look at your bank statements and start tracking all of your expenses.  Where is your money going? Are there some areas you can cut back on or just cut out completely? Here are some ideas:

  • Take a break from the gym and workout at home
  • Do you REALLY need that high-priced coffee?
  • Bring your lunch from home and save on the take-out
  • Recurring subscriptions – Do you really need some of them?
  • Stop impulse buying. Think “If nobody were to see this, would I still want it?”

Be creative and think of more ways to cut expenses.  You will be surprised at how quickly the amount of money you can save will add up!

Get a Second Job

Is getting a second job really going to help?  Say you work 16 hours a week making $10 an hour.  That’s approximately $120 per week after taxes! (Figuring 25% for taxes) If you were to do that for an entire year, you’ll save more than $6,200 to put towards your down payment!

Speak to a Mortgage Loan Expert

Contact a mortgage loan expert. They can help you find the right home loan and guide you through the process. They can also advise you on options they might have with government incentives, or programs for first-time home buyers. They will know what will work for you and can possibly help reduce how much you have to pay out of pocket.

My Final Thoughts

By knowing your goal and timeframe, you can put your savings plan in place and be on your way to buying and owning your own home. Don’t forget to contact a mortgage loan expert to seek financial advise. Contact us at NextHome At The Lakes (712-336-9999) and our knowledgeable agents can help you with the necessary steps that will get you to your ultimate goal of homeownership.

Can Moving Improve Your Happiness

Blue Cute Home Welcome Yard Sign (1)Can Moving Improve Your Happiness?

Why do people move?  Moving from one place to another is usually because you are trying to find something.  Maybe it is to find a new job, adventure, a new house, or you just want to find more happiness.

I know moving can be tough.  It is said to be one of the more stressful things in an adult’s life. BUT, did you know that moving can actually make you happier in the long term? Seriously, it can!

Fulfilled because of change

Some people move to be more fulfilled.  What does that mean?  Well, moving can help you discover more about yourself as a person.  You find out how resilient you are and become more aware of how important change is.  Change is so essential to building our character.  People can feel like they are just stuck in a rut.  This could be with their personal lives, jobs, or even their home.  People that move can feel more fulfilled as they see it as taking control of their lives.  They are happier in life all just because they feel they have taken a proactive step in choosing their destiny. 

A New Start

Other people just crave a new start.  Whether this in the city or suburbs, a new start can be beneficial and enriching. A new start in a new neighborhood or town can in fact make people happier with their life.  Just make sure you have done all your homework and have your business and personal items in place to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Last thing is to make sure you give us a call to help out with whatever your real estate needs are.  We will be happy to talk to you about your goals for the move and what options you have in today’s market.  After all, a new start can not only change your life but be good for your mind, body and soul.

NextHome At The Lakes – 712-336-9999 or visit us at www.NextHomeAtTheLakes.com

Thinking about becoming a real estate agent in 2021?

Thinking about becoming a real estate agent in 2021

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Finally, 2020 is just about over, and many people are feeling more than ready to be done with a year that has caused so much anxiety and confusion.  With 2021 literally right around the corner some people may be thinking about a new career, and with how hot the real estate market has been this year, it has become a very appealing option for some people.

Here are a few tips that people looking to start a career in real estate should keep in mind.

Take your time finding the right broker and brokerage

If you are planning to become a part time agent, it is very important to find a broker and team who will be a good resource for you and supportive of you even though you may not be able to hit the ground running every day.

Not every broker will want to spend energy and time on an agent who will only be able to work part time. However, becoming a new agent, you will needs lots of training and support to help you learn the ropes, so make sure you take your time finding the right fit with a broker and brokerage that will help you achieve your goals.

Be prepared to juggle

Real estate agents tirelessly need to work around their clients’ schedules.  A part time agent should be ready to deal with scheduling issues.  Since you will be working limited hours, you may find it challenging to schedule showings around your clients’ availability.  It will be very important for you to stay as organized as possible and as flexible as you can be.

Make allies with other agents and find a mentor

Since you will be balancing multiple clients and other responsibilities, it will be important to make allies with other agents within your brokerage.  Especially for the days when you will need help from them to help you out with a showing or an appointment that does not work with your schedule.

Having another agent’s help will possibly mean you will need to compensate them for their time.  Make sure you agree to the terms in advance so everyone is on the same page.

Find a professional and experienced agent or a broker for your mentor.  They will help you get your feet on the ground and help you build connections with other agents and with clients.  They will also help you by answering any questions you may have and will bring you ideas on how to grow your business.

Don’t give up

Working in real estate is hard.  You will need to stay determined and persevere when your business is slow. It is important to stay positive and stick with it.

While 2020 may have been a terrible year, we all get a fresh start on Jan 1st. Prepare to work hard and keep looking forward to the new opportunities each day will bring.

Give us a call

You probably have many questions by now and would like somebody to reach out to for help.  Give us a call and we will help answer them!

712-336-9999 or visit us at www.NextHomeAtTheLakes.com.

How To Get The Most Out Of A Virtual Home Tour

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How To Get The Most Out Of A Virtual Home Tour

COVID-19 has changed the way buyers are able to look at properties for sale.  This has led to a huge rise in agents and clients using virtual home tours.

But while virtual tours can be just as good as an in-person tour, it is important to know what you should be looking out for and how to ensure you get all the information you need to make an educated decision about that particular property.

So what exactly are the things you need to look out for?

recent article from realtor.com outlined some of the things buyers need to know to make the most out of their virtual tours, including:

  • The exterior. When you are viewing a home through the screen, it can be really easy to just look at the main features of the home’s interior.  However, don’t miss out on key exterior details you would see if you were to view the home in person. Make sure you ask the agent to show you the home’s exterior and the surrounding neighborhood while you are doing your virtual tour.
  • Ask lots of questions. When you are thinking about buying a home, it is always important to ask lots of questions. It is especially important when you don’t have the opportunity to see the property in person. Ask lots of questions to get all the information you need to make an educated decision about whether the home is the right fit for you and your family.  Some questions could be “what is the average cost of utilities per month?” or “When was the roof last replaced on the home?”
  • Take notes. When you are touring different homes virtually, it can be really easy to lose track of which home is which, and information from one home tour might be mixed into information from a different home tour. Make sure the notes you take on each property are kept separate to help keep all the details straight.

As always, make sure you are using one of our knowledgeable NextHome real estate agents.  We are willing and capable to accommodate you with in-person or with virtual tours.  NextHome At The Lakes  712-336-9999.