Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Determines Your Credit Score?

We all know that a good credit score is important, especially if you’re looking to buy a house. But how is your credit score determined? How do you improve your credit score, and what matters the most when it comes to maintaining a good credit score?

Your credit score is made up of five different factors. Generally, a good credit score is in the mid-700s and higher. Here are the factors that determine your credit score in the order of their weight and importance (these are approximations):

35% Payment history. Payments more than 30 days late can negatively affect your score.

30% Amount owed. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t borrow. But if you’re in a lot of debt, it shows you’re overextended financially. To prevent this category from being a negative factor in your score, make sure you don’t charge over half the limit on all of your credit cards.

15% Length of credit history. A long payment history is important for showing lenders you have paid your bills on time. Don’t cancel old credit cards because that deletes all of your credit history with that card.

10% New credit. Opening numerous accounts in a short amount of time can be seen as risky, particularly if you have a short credit history. Each application for a credit card is an inquiry on your credit report and too many in a short amount of time can negatively affect your overall score.

10% Types of credit in use. Make sure your debt is spread out between different types of loans. For example, it’s better to have some debt in credit cards and the rest in a mortgage, car loan and student loans, than it is to have all of your debt in credit cards.

First, find out what your score is. You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once every 12 months. See where you stand. Then decide which of these factors you can change to raise your score.

Source: Murney Associates, Realtors

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

'What’s that smell?' Dealing with odors when selling a home

Man's best friend can be a home seller's enemy.
The last thing you want buyers to think when they walk into your home is “What’s that smell?” Odors contribute to first-impressions and usually in a negative way. We’ve had buyers walk away from homes they otherwise love because of smells. You don’t want buyers to think about smells at all when they walk in the door. No odor is the goal. Here’s how to get there.

The first step is to borrow someone’s nose. Ask someone who doesn’t live in your home—and someone who will tell you the truth—to assess its smell. We all get used to our own smells, making us incapable of noticing them. Remember how your grandmother’s house smelled? We all need an unbiased nose. In addition, a good real estate agent will let you know in her own way that odor is an issue during the listing appointment.

Common culprits
The major odorous causes are no big mysteries. Here are some solutions you may want to try.

Smoke: Sadly, the only real remedy for homes where smokers have lived for a long time is new paint and new carpet. We have not found many other ways to get rid of the smoke smell. Some people recommend squeezing fresh lemons into small amounts of baking soda and placing them on plates around the house for a few days. Other people recommend doing the same thing with vinegar instead of baking soda and lemons. We have not had any clients try these approaches, but they are worth a try.
Pets: Cats can be the biggest problem when it comes to pet odors. We encourage our clients to empty litter boxes morning and night. We also recommend cleaning and deodorizing carpets. In some cases, you may need to ask a friend to keep your cats until your home goes under contract. With other pets, make sure you clean cages frequently.
Teenage boys: Any experienced real estate agent knows if teenage boys reside in a home as soon as she walks in the front door. You can’t do much about the hormones they exude, but you can address their clothes, sports equipment, and shoes. We recommend bagging the odorous equipment and shoes and storing them in the garage or even the trunk of a car. To take care of the smelly clothes, you may have to do laundry every night. We also suggest you do a deep cleaning of teenagers’ rooms. You never know what you may find under the bed!
Food: As you know, some food odors can linger, especially if you cook similar dishes with similar spices several times a week. Steaming cauliflower and broccoli is a great way to clear everyone from the kitchen! This is one area when an unbiased nose can help, too. You may not notice the odors of your favorite cuisine. Try lighting a few candles well before buyers preview your home.
Candles and potpourri: This is an instance in which you can have too much of a good thing. You can light a candle or two to try to rid your home of some odors, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want your home overpowering people with bad—or good—smells. Even overpowering good smells can make buyers wonder what you are trying to hide. If you do choose to light a candle, use more neutral scents like fresh linen and steer clear of flavors like strawberry.

If these measures don’t help, you might consider hiring a professional company that specializes in odor removal. We would love to hear if you have had success with odor-removal companies or with any other home remedies. Please let us know what has worked for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

3 Simple Ways to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

We've got three super-easy ways you can make your home ready for buyers to view. They are simple and don't cost you a cent.
1.     Organize your closets. Sort, stack, and store. Pack away your seasonal clothes. Get rid of shoes and belts you never wear. Make what you have look neat and tidy. You’ll make your closets look bigger and just better.
2.     Organize your garage and driveway. Again, pack away what you don’t need. Store what you can in your parents’ garage or get rid of what you don’t need. Keep your driveway clear of cars, both working and nonworking vehicles. A well-organized garage gives buyers the impression that you take pride in your home. They are likely to think that if you take time to care about the little things like your garage, you are likely to take care of the bigger things related to the home as well.
3.     Take note of how your house smells. You’ll need a non-resident to give you an objective assessment of your home’s scent. You are used to your smells; buyers will not be. So you need to know if your pets or teenage boys or your gourmet cooking is making an aromatic impression. The goal is for no one to notice a smell when they walk into your home.
Decluttering is the biggest way you can spruce up your home. If you can’t part with things, pack them up and store them away until you arrive in your new home. Spending a little time doing these three things will help your home make a great first impression.