Building credit can be difficult to master. Understanding your credit report can be even harder.

What is considered in a credit score, anyway? Well, between FICO and VantageScore, there is no single way to calculate your credit score. These top models are similar but scored slightly differently.

FICO is the most common credit ranking for users.  This model has a range from 300 to 850 and is categorized into five major sections:

  • Payment History (35%): Why does this category determine so much of your credit score? According to Barry Paperno, a credit scoring expert, “FICO’s research has shown that a person’s payment track record tends to be the strongest predictor of the likelihood that the individual will pay all debts as agreed in the future.” In other words, borrowers with a history of paying on time tend to have solid credit scores.
  • Credit Utilization (30%): Experian, a major credit reporting company in the U.S., recommends borrowers keep their total credit utilization rate below 30%. Your credit balance should be far below your total limit. This shows credit scorers you’re underspending and properly managing your credit responsibilities.
  • Length of Credit History (15%): This section is simply the amount of time each of your credit accounts have been open. A longer history of accruing credit is a better indicator of your financial behavior.
  • Credit Mix (10%): Per MyFico.com, Credit Mix is simply a culmination of the different types of credit you have. Meaning, FICO considers different accounts (credit cards, auto loans, student loans) and assesses how you handled them.
  • New credit and recently opened accounts (10%): Simply put, don’t open a lot of new credit accounts over a short period of time. This will negatively impact your FICO score.

The VantageScore 3.0 model varies just a bit from FICO. Developed by the major credit reporting bureaus, this model is used by a lot of free credit report sites. Payment history (41%) and credit utilization (20%) are also categories considered in this model. Yet, there are other factors to consider using this credit ranking.

  • Duration and Type of Credit (20%): Lenders prefer to see long-term and established lines of credit. Having different types of credit (credit cards, auto loans, etc.) is also considered in this section. This category is similar to FICO’s Credit Mix.
  • Recent Behavior (11%): This section is similar to FICO’s new credit section. Scorers consider new credit accounts like personal loans or credit cards.
  • Total Balances (6%): Per CreditKarma, this category refers to the total amount of recently reported balances on your credit accounts.
  • Available credit (2%): Try to only take out credit that you need. This will help boost your overall credit score.

As your personal real estate agent, I’m always here to help. If you have any further questions about how lenders view your credit score, feel free to reach out to me at 775-309-7979.

My mentor, Brian Buffini, has a favorite quote from Coach John Wooden: “When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.”

Racecars on a trackBrian likens opportunity to NASCAR. Here’s what he says: “We’re using the analogy of the rolling start from NASCAR. When they have the car wreck everything comes to a screeching halt. They clean up the road, they get everything organized, then they put the pace car out in front and bit by bit warm up the tires, warm up the engine, get the engine revving. Go around the track a couple of times, and then when pace car pulls away, you’re going full speed.”

As interest rates remain low and the economy begins its recovery, we are in that rolling start, and it’s time to rev the engines.

Opportunity is, if not here already, it’s coming. Don’t be too late to prepare. Here’s how you can get ready to sell your house and find your dream home.

  1. Get a pre-approval letter from your lender. Pre-approval shows you are serious about finding your new home. It lets sellers know you are conditionally able to purchase a house, and may help you with your offer. It also narrows your field to what you can afford to look at and may speed up the purchase process.
  2. Get your current house on the market: Especially if you are doing a contingency offer. The market is great, but it’s tight, so you’ll need to be able to move quickly.
  3. Find an experienced REALTOR®: An experienced REALTOR® will know which neighborhoods are trending up or down, and help you get the best possible price on the property you want.
  4. Identify your prospective new home: Check the listings in your price range, make a list and drive by the homes you are interested in. This will help you select your new neighborhood and save you time while touring properties.
  5. Be selective: only look at properties you’ve selected during your drive-bys. As we ramp our economy back up, sellers may be nervous about letting people view their homes. Make sure you’re only looking at properties you’ve pre-selected.

Maybe your house is too big now that the kids have moved on, or maybe you want to live near your grandchildren. Whatever the reason, now’s the time.

Prices are not falling, mortgage interest rates are low, and inventory is moving quickly. If you have been thinking about selling your house and looking for your new dream home, give me a call at 775-309-7979.

And if you are a homeowner, you should definitely listen to Brian’s latest chat with National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Dr. Lawrence Yun.  Topics discussed include why home prices are remaining steady, how agents are navigating the process and completing transactions, why real estate provides a hedge against inflation, and why the house is still a valuable asset in high demand.

Many of you know my mentor and friend, Brian Buffini, hung the moon for me. This more true today than it has been throughout my career.

 

As a REALTOR® and a human, Brian’s no-nonsense, ever-encouraging and down to earth counsel has guided me through the ups and downs of the economy, in my professional development, and he has provided great wisdom and advice, even in just plain life.

 

Throughout the pandemic, Brian has stepped up his game to help us navigate these uncertain times and uncharted waters by adding bonus episodes of his regular weekly podcast. I’d like to share a few of my favorites with you. These are recent episodes that speak to your peace of mind, your sense of control in uncertainty, and give you comfort in our economy.

 

Take Control of your Financial Future with Chris Hogan: Chris Hogan, author of “Every Day Millionaires,” is a renowned speaker on building wealth and retirement finances. In this episode, he shares his thoughts on how to manage your finances in this current environment, and how to regain or retain control of your faith,  outlook, attitude, and actions.

 

The Pursuit of Happiness in Uncertain Times with Shawn Achor: Shawn Achor is the bestselling author of books including “Before Happiness,” The Happiness Advantage,” and his latest, “Big Potential.” You may have heard his Ted Talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” I love this entire episode, but if you could walk away with only one thing, it would be this: “Optimism, social connection, gratitude, perceiving meaning, that’s feeling like our contribution to the world matters. Those are the things that restart forward progress…” – Shawn Achor

 

This Too Shall Pass – an Interview with Dr. Lawrence Yun: Dr. Yun, is like the Warren Buffet of real estate to me. He’s a top economist who happens to be the Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of REALTORS®.  This episode in particular is good news for all of us in uncertain economic times. I encourage you to hear Dr. Yun’s words for yourself. I won’t do them justice, and you’ll feel relieved to learn the difference between where we are financially today, and where we were just 12 years ago during the Great Recession.

 

Looking to sell, or know someone who is? Call me today! (775) 309-7979.

 

These are uncertain times, to be sure. Many of us who experienced the Great Recession and the mortgage and housing crisis of 2008 remember that time with anxiety. But this time is different in so many ways.

 

Here are the reasons we have confidence in our housing market today.

 

  1. Housing prices, while still rising, are not nearly at the levels we saw prior to the 2008 crash, where we had home values galloping way ahead of the curve, often with double-digit appreciation. Our appreciation levels over the past six years have held relatively steady, around 5% or so. In February, our housing market was on solid ground with home sales comfortably above one year ago, and home prices had risen for more than 90 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. Home prices, unlike the stock market, do not move in a quick fashion one way or the other.

 

  1. Mortgage lending. At the peak before the crash, mortgages, especially sub-prime mortgages, were readily available to just about anybody. Today, the Mortgage Credit Availability Index measured monthly by the Mortgage Bankers Association indicates mortgage credit has been carefully tracked over the past several years and has remained low.

 

  1. Supply and demand. When the market crashed in 2008, we had more homes for sale than people were buying and builders were overbuilding in what’s known as a buyer’s market. Today, we are in a seller’s market – there are more people looking for homes than there are homes for sale, and builders are under-building, creating an inventory shortage.

 

  1. Home equity has increased. More than a third of homes in the U.S. are owned free and clear, and more than a quarter of homeowners have at least 50% equity today. During the mortgage crisis, people owed more than their homes were worth, making it easy for them to give up and walk away.

 

  1. Other economic downturns. In the early 1980’s recession, when the unemployment rate climbed to 12%, real estate prices kept rising. During the 1990’s recession, home prices rose. Even following the tragedy of 9/11, we had a short recession, but home prices still increased.

 

Housing market experts are predicting that the real estate and housing markets could very well pull us out of an economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. One of my favorite experts on the economy, Dr. Lawrence Yun, the Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of REALTORS®, sat down to chat with my hero, Brian Buffini, in a podcast recently about the housing market. Take a listen here, and be reassured!

 

Looking to sell, or know someone who is? Call me today! (775) 309-7979.

Home appraisals are important and generally are part of the buying/selling process. I get asked a lot of questions about home appraisals and my clients often get nervous awaiting the appraisal report.

 

What is an appraisal?

It’s an expert assessment of the value of something – for real estate, it’s your home. Appraisals come in the form of a report by a licensed appraiser; anything else is just a price opinion. Lenders most likely require appraisals to assure the value of the home is not less than what they are lending, but sometimes these can be waived.

 

Appraisals can be used for purchasing, refinancing, estate planning, estate settlement, and tax assessment.

 

For what reasons can an appraisal be waived?

This is up to the lender. Generally, lenders like to have an appraisal done on a home you are purchasing. However, while refinancing your home, you may not be required to have an appraisal. It really depends on the lender’s requirements.

 

How much does an appraisal cost?

Here in Northern Nevada, an appraisal generally costs around $500, sometimes more. If you have an exceptionally larger home, it may take longer to appraise and cost a little more. Or if the home is in a rural/remote location there may be extra costs for drive time and mileage.

 

Who pays for the appraisals?

In a real estate transaction, the buyer pays for the appraisal, but sometimes it can be negotiated to be paid for by or split with the seller, usually paid as a reimbursement at closing.

 

How does an appraisal work?

An appraisal is the due diligence of the buyer and lender and tells the buyers the value of the home, and how much you will spend on the home. Once an offer is accepted by the seller, the contract then begins, the lender will order an appraisal of the home, and the buyer’s agent will schedule for any inspections.

 

What is a home appraiser looking for?

An appraiser verifies measurements and home specs, such as basements and attics, indoor and outdoor features, and additional buildings. An appraiser looks for upgrades and compares to comparable homes, establishes how your home stacks up with comparable sales in the neighborhood, checks the debits and credits back and forth between the comparable sales until they arrive at a final value.

 

How to prepare for a home appraisal?

Sellers should clean before the appraisal like you would for a showing. Don’t take on any major projects that won’t get completed before the appraiser arrives. Make any repairs to maintenance items such as light switch plates, fixtures, broken or damaged windows, missing electrical plates or leaking faucets, and tend to any home safety and health issues. These minor things don’t necessarily count against the home value but it can give the overall impression the home has not been maintained. Have a list of any repairs, updates or renovations that have been made – new roof, windows, upgraded HVAC, finished basement, kitchen remodel, flooring or carpet upgrade/replacement, bath remodels. These things can add value to your home.

 

An Appraisal came in lower than purchase price…now what?

By far, everyone’s biggest fear.

 

This doesn’t happen often but if it does, look for errors (use your agent to help), comb through the appraisal report, and make sure all looks good. Check the comparable sales. If they make sense, again, lean on your agent to help as they have access to MLS and the data appraisers use for comparables. Request another appraiser and get a second opinion if things look wrong, not just less than you hoped.

 

Renegotiate the contract, the appraisal is the reason expert pricing is important in the beginning of a real estate transaction. If you have your house priced too high, you might be looking at an appraisal that contradicts your pricing opinion. This is a great reason to trust that your agent is accurately pricing your home and not feeling pressed to list it higher because you think it should be worth more than the market can bear.

 

Appraisals are a common step of the process. An appraisal doesn’t have to be scary and it should be pretty easy to navigate. However, if problems arise, your agent can help!!

List of my top favorite local events and features in Carson Valley

 

Carson Valley is a beautiful valley tucked away in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range just east of Lake Tahoe and south of Carson City. We enjoy the beauty of all seasons here. Average snowfall in the winter 17-26 inches, the average number of sunny days is 251, and the beautiful spring blooms and fall leaves peeping are things we get to enjoy.

 

The Carson Valley is a small rural community of 8,656 residents made up of Minden and Gardnerville. While enjoying the rich agricultural land we also have amenities and shopping all around. You get that small town feel with access to everything you need without all the big city hub bub.

 

Summer

The summer months boast big name concert events hosted by Carson Valley Inn. The likes of Pat Benatar, Martina McBride, Loverboy, Joan Jett, Kenny G, Dwight Yoakam and more.

 

Our Annual Carson Valley days is held in Jun. The community celebrates with a 5-day event with a parade, a carnival, concerts and fun local activities.

 

Over at Heritage Park, the Town of Gardnerville hosts the family friendly event, Movies in the Park throughout the summer.

 

And we can’t forget the annual 4th of July celebration including a BBQ, music, and fireworks.

 

Fall

The Genoa Candy Dance is an annual festival full of crafts and food with live music and family fun. It’s a huge event that people from all over the region come to sell and shop.

 

One of my favorites is the Aviation Roundup every other October hosted by the Minden-Tahoe airport. The show is dedicated to the Veterans who have served our country.

 

Also, in the fall is the Harvest Festival at Corley Ranch featuring a petting zoo, the fun corn maze, pig races, food, crafts, and pumpkin picking!

 

 

Holidays

Carson Valley Christmas Kickoff! A family holiday tradition with a Christmas tree lighting, and Heritage Park Pavilion lighting, sleigh rides, fireworks, and pictures with Santa.

 

Don’t miss the Carson Valley Inn’s Candy Cane Lane and the parade of lights hosted by the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce.

 

There is plenty to do for the holidays in the valley.

 

Winter

In January, anglers have the pleasure of joining the Topaz Lodge Fishing Derby New Year’s Day through mid-April where anglers catch tagged fish for cash and prizes.

 

Also, in January, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts the Gathering of Eagles and Celebration of Agriculture. The event hosts a photography exhibit, dinner and specialty photo tours.  This is a must see and participate event for any nature photographer or nature lover.

 

We are a busy little hometown year-round. So much to enjoy with a laid-back outdoor lifestyle and a small-town feel, right next door to the most beautiful lake of all and close to bigger city activities and resources. We pretty much have it all here.

 

Weather Information Resource: https://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/minden/nevada/united-states/usnv0062

 

What is an expired listing? An expired listing is one that has not sold by the end of the period stipulated in the listing contract between the seller and the listing agent. In Nevada, you can have what is called an “exclusive right to sell” agreement with your brokerage and listing agent. This period of time is set on the multi-listing service (MLS), and once that period is up, you can renew that contract with your listing agent or remove your home from sale.

 

We never want to see this happen and so we take steps to help avoid that scenario. These are my tips to help you avoid an expired listing:

 

  1. Overpriced Homes

Many homes that expire do so because the listing was overpriced.

Overvaluing a home sometimes happens when an eager agent is hoping to secure the listing, or when a homeowner who believes their home is worth more than what the market can bear insists on a high listing price.

 

Many factors go into valuing your property. Local area sales history relative to your home (market data), to your home’s features and upgrades, along with how the market is moving will help determine a good selling price.

 

An experienced agent is familiar with the local area market, current market trends and can adequately price your home to sell. They can also help you navigate the market, negotiate offers and successfully sell your home at the right price. 

 

Do not over price your home to make room for negotiation, lean into your agent for appropriate pricing.

 

  1. Inadequate Marketing

In this day and age, we have a multitude of ways to market properties online. So many times, listings end up on MLS and that is it, nothing more. Your agent’s job is to market your home – not just list it. From MLS, to social media, to sharing information in the community, and providing adequate marketing materials at the property, this all works together in getting the word out that the property is for sale.

 

My approach:

You will receive an honest and researched valuation of your property before it is listed for sale. You will have the opportunity to review that valuation and go over the details of how I came to that valuation and get answers to all of your questions.

 

My team of marketing professionals and transaction coordinators work diligently to get the word out about your property to help you sell it quicker.

 

My network of agents and community members help to get more eyes on your property listing, helping you to gain exposure and ultimately sell faster.

 

Looking to sell, or know someone who is? Call me today! (775) 309-7979.

Because buying real estate is a substantial investment, a home inspection can help give you peace of mind when buying or selling a house.

 

Whether you are a buyer or seller, it’s good to know whether there are any substantial defects that would significantly affect the property.

 

Here in Nevada, home inspections can be waived, however many buyers will request an inspection. Home inspectors will examine the home, and all its components, to provide an inspection report.

 

If you are a seller, it’s a good idea to get a home inspection before you put the property up for sale. Pre-inspections will streamline the buying process when you receive an offer, and if there are any significant fixes that need made, you can have them done before your house goes on the market or be prepared to offer allowances if needed. While doing a pre-inspection can be helpful, but it’s not required.

 

Here is a list of things to prepare for a home inspection:

  1. Clear access to areas for the inspector under the house, in the attic, and around the exterior of the house.
  2. Replace bulbs and light switches that do not work.
  3. Replace all filters in the furnace, water systems, etc.
  4. Make sure smoke detectors and CO2 sensors are in working condition.
  5. Check the foundation, in and outside of the house, for cracks.
  6. Check to see that your foundation slopes away from your house and not toward it.
  7. Make sure you don’t have bugs or pests.
  8. Trim trees, bushes, shrubs, and keep your landscapes tidy.

Anything you think might be an issue should be fixed ahead of time. Things found during an inspection that are required to be fixed can end up requiring a re-inspection to ensure they are fixed correctly. Save time and money by preparing ahead of time.

 

Looking to sell, or know someone who is? Call me today! (775) 309-7979.

Selling your house is a big deal and a big task. I like to make sure my clients are fully aware of the process and the things they need to do for a successful sale. I am here to make your lives easier. Here are my top tips:

  1. Get your house into sale shape
  2. Find the right real estate agent for the job
  3. Listen to your agent and list your house at the right price to sell

 

Getting your house into sale shape is step one. Start with my posts on Staging your Home, Top 9 Things to Spruce Your House Up, and Top Exterior Home Repairs to Make Before Selling. Included in these posts are checklists of things to start working on to get your house ready to list.

 

To get top dollar for your house, fix and clean anything that might need attention or repairing. Don’t leave things that are broken, old, or dingy laying around, it may lead to lower-priced offers or offers with allowances to fix these items. And make sure to think about the last big repairs and updates you have done to your house and tend to those (roof, HVAC system, water heater, flooring, and gutters).

 

Finding an agent who knows the area market well and who knows the ins and outs of the buying and selling process will help you save time. A great agent will be able to guide you through the process, advise you if things go awry, help you make solid decisions along the way and get your house sold quicker.

 

Buying a house is not something most people do often, but your agent goes through this process all the time. Lean into them and their knowledge. They will be able to make the right call on pricing and offers. An agent knows the current state of the market and what to expect which can help during the sale process.

 

If you or anyone you know is looking to buy, sell, or relocate to the Carson Valley, please send them my way. Call today 775.309.7979.