Loads of houses are up for sale — but middle-class buyers are still shut out – Washington Post

Despite an uptick in homes on the market and weakening home sales across the country, home ownership is out of reach for a growing number of middle-class buyers, according to a recent report from real estate brokerage Redfin.

An analysis of U.S. homes on the market in 2017 and 2018 found that the number of affordable homes for sale has decreased in 86 percent of metro areas (of 49 included in the study), even as the number of homes on the market grew. While buyers normally benefit from better availability in competitive housing markets, it doesn’t help if the majority of available homes are priced for the wealthy.

“For the past few years, home prices have gone up faster than wages,” said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin. “That kind of growth really isn’t sustainable. At a certain point, there won’t be enough buyers left for the homes left on the market.”

Home ownership has long been at the heart of the American dream, a means of accumulating wealth and securing financial stability. But ownership rates have fallen dramatically since the financial crisis — coming in at 64. 4 percent in the third quarter of 2018, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau — a telling sign that the traditional markers of middle-class life are getting tougher and tougher to hang onto.

To estimate affordability, researchers used the median income in each metro area, applied standard interest rates and assumed a 20 percent down payment and a monthly mortgage payment of 30 percent or less of the buyer’s gross income. Even adjusting for 10 percent down payment, just over half of homes on the market were affordable, according to the study.

In Seattle, the share of affordable homes fell 14 percent from 2017 to 2018, leaving only 46 percent of homes within the reach of middle-class families. In San Jose, Calif., the share of affordable homes fell from 26 percent to 14 percent over the same time.

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales in December were down 10.3 percent year over year, the biggest drop since the housing market bottomed in 2011. At the same time, the median home sale price was $223,900, according to Zillow’s home value index.

Current conditions mirror what happened after the housing market collapsed. Prices tumbled and property was abundant, but the only people who could afford to buy were those who hadn’t been crippled by the financial crisis. Years later, a booming economy has yet to restore buying power to middle-class families, as mortgage rates and home prices have climbed. Prices surpassed their pre-crash peak in October 2017. And according to a December report from ATTOM Data Solutions, last quarter was the nation’s worst for home affordability in over a decade.

In metro areas, part of the issue is a lack of public investment in affordable housing, Fairweather said. The problem is often exacerbated in cities that serve as hubs to major tech companies, where an influx of highly paid workers has ratcheted up prices and cost of living. It’s fueling a flight from the coasts, as increasing numbers of people move inland in search of affordability.

Some states and cities are taking steps to correct this. California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom has an ambitious plan to oversee construction of 3.5 million new housing units by 2025. In November, the Minneapolis City Council signed off on $12 million in affordable housing investments throughout the city. Private companies are even stepping up to the plate — and Microsoft announced it’s offering up $500 million to build and protect affordable housing in Seattle.

The housing market is a cornerstone of  U.S. economic output, accounting for over 12 percent of the country’s GDP in 2017.  With the economy deep into an expansion, there’s been a rise in first-time buyers, but if conditions persist, many may be priced out and forced to rent instead. 

“Now the economy is doing better and more people are looking to buy a home for the first time,” Fairweather said, “but they’ve missed the boat on affordable deals.”

I read this article at: Washington Post

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Call | Text | Sabrina 650.799.4333 | Susan 650.796.0654

Email |   Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

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A Family of Realtors
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How to apply for a mortgage: Your 4-step guide.

Applying for a home loan is the first step to take when getting serious about buying a home. It will help you understand how much house you truly can afford. Get ready for the application process by gathering your financial info, finding a lender to work with, and getting pre-approved. You can always shop around and pick another lender once you get an accepted offer.

Mortgage loan pre-approval means approaching a lender with financial, credit, debt, and other information that will help them determine if you qualify for a loan at a certain amount.

There are four essential steps involved with mortgage pre-approval:

  1. Gather financial information
  2. Select a lender
  3. Get a mortgage pre-approval
  4. Close on your home

This article will give you an idea of how to get pre-approved for a mortgage and why pre-approval is important for buying a home.

 

How to get pre-approved for a home loan

Step 1: Gather financial information

Before heading to your lender’s office, gather and prepare the following financial information:

Credit Information: Your credit score and reports will determine the size of loan you may qualify for and the type of financing plan you will be offered. For example, a borrower with a credit score below 740 will usually have a higher interest rate associated with their loan. A borrower with a score below 580 will usually have to put down a higher down payment.

Pro Tip: Check your credit score for free with credit.com.

Debt Information: Gather and prepare any of your debt obligations. This includes student loans automobile loans, and credit card payments.

Pro Tip: If you have a significant amount of debt, the amount that you’re pre-approved will likely be smaller or rejected. Before applying for your pre-approved mortgage, try paying off your debts and minimize the number of new debts you take on.

Income Information: Gather and prepare income information from the previous two years. This includes tax returns, W-9s, pay stubs, and additional income information (from second jobs, overtime pay, social security payments, alimony or child support payments, etc.).

Asset Information: Asset information refers to assets you own other than your income. This involves gathering bank statements, property statements, investment information, and money received by family members.

Personal Information: Bring a personal ID such as a driver’s license or passport and your social security number to your lender’s office.

Employment Information: This includes your proof of employment and the length of time you’ve been with your employer.

Budget Information: Before going to see a lender, determine your budget for buying a new home.

Pro Tip: Your total housing payment budget should not exceed 35% of your pre-tax income. The ideal percentage is 25% of your pre-tax income.

Step 2: Select a lender to work with

There are two types of lenders you can work with (1) big lenders (aka the bank) or (2) small lenders (aka small, community banks or small mortgage lenders).

There are pros and cons associated with each type of lender:

Pros of big lenders:

  • Security: You can trust that big banks will protect your sensitive information as it’s a crucial part of their reputation.
  • Customer support: Banks usually offer 24/7 customer support.
  • Availability: Making an appointment for a loan will be easier with big banks as they have a larger number of loan officers available.

Cons of big lenders:

  • Rates: The rates of the big banks are usually higher than the rates at small loan offices.
  • Approval: Banks have a specific ‘credit model’ that they like to use as a guideline for approving people looking for loans. You may have a hard time being approved for a loan by a big bank if you don’t fit this ‘credit model.’

Pros of small lenders:

  • Rates: Small lenders tend to have better rates than the big banks. Furthermore, smaller lenders generally let their customers exit early. In other words, small lenders allow their customers to pay off their mortgage early and either sell their house or find a better mortgage.
  • Approval: Small lenders will generally approve loans to freelance workers, property investors, or someone who doesn’t fit the bank’s credit model.
  • Customer Service: Small lenders provide more personalized customer service and usually have faster response times.
  • Specialized Financing: Smaller lenders offer more specialized financing options than big banks. For example, if you’re looking for a small mortgage, most big banks won’t accept your application because it’s not worth their time. The smaller lender, however, will be happy to work with you.

Cons of small lenders:

  • Vulnerability: Due to their size, small lenders are more sensitive to market fluctuations.
  • Availability: Smaller lenders may not have as many available lenders as the big banks.

Should I get pre-approved by multiple financial institutions to compare rates?

  • Yes, because you can still shop rates before locking into a rate and accepting an offer. Research different lender’s reputation, search for their past clients, read their online reviews, and give them a call to get a ‘feel’ of whether or not you want to work with them.

Step 3: Get pre-approved

Most first-time home buyers are confused about the pre-approval process. So, to clear things up, we answer “how to get pre-approved for a mortgage” and the 6 other common questions first-time home buyers ask about mortgage pre-approval:

1. How do I get pre-approved for a mortgage?

  • Gather Documents: Gather the necessary documents (as listed in step 1).
  • Organize Documents: Create a Google Drive or Dropbox where you can organize all information in one, easily-accessible place.
  • Contact a Lender: Call, go online or visit a loan office/bank. The loan officer will review your documents and give you a preliminary estimate of how much house you can afford, your monthly mortgage payments, and mortgage interest rate.
  • Find out if you’ve been pre-approved: You will receive a pre-approval letter that secures your interest rates for the next 90-120 days (more on this below). On the other hand, your lender will notify you that you have not been pre-approved.

2. Why get pre-approved for a mortgage?

Benefits of Pre-Approvals:

  • Accurate: The best pre-approvals will give you an accurate idea of how much house you can afford. Furthermore, you’ll get an idea of your monthly mortgage payments and your short-term mortgage interest rates.
  • Protection: When you apply for a mortgage pre-approval, there is usually a 90-120 day protection against rising rates. In other words, pre-approvals lock-in interest rates and allow you to search for a home without worrying about interest rates increasing significantly.
  • Trustworthy: A pre-approved mortgage signals to sellers and real estate agents that you’re serious about buying a home.
  • Advantage: A pre-approved mortgage may be the deciding factor between you getting a home over another home buyer.
  • Free: Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is free, and there is no obligation to use the lender that pre-approved your mortgage.

3. What is the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval?

  • Pre-qualification: During the pre-qualification stage of securing a mortgage, a lender will interview you to determine your income, expenses, and assets. The purpose of getting pre-qualified is to give you a rough estimate of how much house you can afford.
  • Pre-approval: During the pre-approval stage of securing a mortgage a lender will look through your income, expenses, and asset more thoroughly. A pre-approval is a more concrete estimate of how much house you can afford.

4. What if I don’t get pre-approved for a loan? Now what?

If you don’t get pre-approved for a loan, your lender can tell you why you were rejected. Lenders can also offer advice of how to get approved in the future.

For example, you may have to:

  • Build Credit: If bad credit was the reason you aren’t pre-approved, then pay off your credit cards and try not to miss your debt payments for the next 6-12 months.
  • Build Savings: Lenders usually want to see a significant amount of cash reserve in your savings account. Again, pay off your debts and try to save some money before applying for a pre-approval again.
  • Build Income: If your lender says that you don’t make enough income for a certain loan amount, either try applying for a smaller loan or, if you’re married, ask for a joint-loan with your spouse.
  • Build Employment History: Usually, lenders don’t like to see inconsistencies in employment history. Wait until you’ve been at the same job for two years before applying for a loan.

5. Does pre-approval guarantee a loan?
Pre-approval does not guarantee a loan. It is only a review of your qualifications for how much you might be able to borrow.

A buyer receives their pre-approval letters, searches for their dream home within their pre-approved amount, has their offer and financial structure accepted by the sellers, and then submits their proposal to the lender.

The lender then reviews the proposal, the buyer’s finance details, and the details of the property. If everything goes smoothly (i.e., the home doesn’t look like a money pit), the buyer will be approved for a mortgage.

However, the pre-approval letter alone does not guarantee a mortgage.

6. How long does it take to get pre-approved for a mortgage?

Depending on who you’re working with, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage in minutes. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call.

7. What impact (if any) will this have on my credit?

The short answer here is that it depends.

As mentioned above, lenders will look at your credit score and history to determine if you’ll be pre-approved. These are called credit report inquiries.

First-time home buyers usually don’t have to worry about inquires damaging their credit score. However, the more inquires your credit history shows, the more it can damage your credit score.

Inquires hurt your score because it shows lenders that you could be doing something with your credit that puts you at risk.

Step 4: Close on your home

Once you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, you can start the process of searching for a home, within your pre-approved amount.

The process of closing your home looks like this:
1. Application: The mortgage application involves submitting the documents outlined in step 1.

Time it takes: 1 day

2. Loan estimate: The lender analyzes your financial information and produces a loan estimate. A loan estimate describes the details of your loan including the terms and the predicted costs associated with your loan.

The loan estimate does not tell you if you have been approved for a loan. It simply estimates what your loan would look like if you’re approved and will help you determine if you would like to move forward with the mortgage application process.

Time it takes: The law states that you must receive your loan estimate 3 days after submitting your mortgage application.

3. Open a file: Your file is submitted to a loan processor who analyzes your financial documentation and property information. The loan processor places all this information into a loan package that is to be submitted to the underwriter.

Time it takes: 1 day

4. Loan underwriting: An underwriter analyzes your loan to determine the risk of approving your mortgage. Essentially, the underwriter is the key-decision maker and determines if you’re a good candidate for a loan based on the likelihood of you paying your mortgage each month.

The duties of an underwriter:

A. Assess: The underwriter assesses your risk by verifying that your credit, debt, income, and savings information is true. For example, they may call your employer to confirm that you do in fact work x amount of hours and are paid x amount of dollars.

B. Appraise: This is where the underwriter determines if your desired property’s price is comparable to the prices of similar properties. The purpose of the appraisal is to determine if the money you would like to borrow matches the value of the home you would like to purchase. If the appraisal is less than the loan amount, the underwriter will usually disapprove the mortgage or suggest another loan amount.

C. Approve or reject: The underwriter considers all this information and then approves or rejects your loan application.

Time it takes: 1-7 days

Pro Tip: The underwriting process generally takes longer and requires more documentation if you’re self-employed.

5. Mortgage Commitment: If the underwriter approves your loan, you are officially locked-into an interest rate.

Time it takes: 2-4 days

6. Closing: This is the step in the home-buying process where you sign all the necessary documents to own the home officially.

 

I read this article at: Open Listings

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

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The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

Bay Area housing market cools, but it’s still nuts – SF Chronicle

By: Kathleen Pender 

The Bay Area real estate market went into 2018 with a bang and out with a whimper.

In the first half of the year, the median price rose almost 17 percent to an all-time high of $875,000 in June. In the second half, it fell 10.3 percent from that peak, ending at $785,000 in December.

The December price was down 3.7 percent from November but up 4.6 percent from December 2017, according to a report Thursday from research firm CoreLogic. It includes all new and existing homes and condos in the nine Bay Area counties.

An earlier report from the California Association of Realtors — which includes only existing, single-family homes entered into a multiple listing service — said the Bay Area median price fell to $850,000 in December, down 6.1 percent from November and down 3.6 percent from December 2017. That was the first year-over-year drop since March 2012.

Any way you look at it, the market downshifted in the last three months of 2018. As the stock market plunged and mortgage rates rose a half percent to almost 5 percent, buyers backed off, inventory grew, price cuts surged, and price appreciation slowed from the double to single digits on a year-over-year basis.

The number of homes sold in December fell to 5,341 across all nine counties, down 13.2 percent from November and 21.6 percent from December 2017. That was the lowest sales count for a December in 11 years, CoreLogic said.

Many sellers, perhaps unaccustomed to a less-than-ridiculous market, took their homes off the market or let their listings expire. A total of 2,493 listings in the nine Bay Area counties were withdrawn or expired in December, compared with only 1,154 in December 2017 and 1,487 in December 2016, according to analyst Patrick Carlisle of the Compass real estate firm.

“December was rock bottom,” said Chad Eng, a Redfin agent in Silicon Valley. “Buyers are hesitating, on the sidelines. Sellers are still focusing on comps from six months ago.”

Instead of selling in days like they were earlier in the year, homes took weeks or even months to sell. Homes that closed in December had been on the market 29 days before getting into contract. That was up from 23 median days on market in November and 17 in December a year ago, the Realtors association reported.

Eng said things picked up around the middle of January, as the stock market recovered and mortgage rates fell back into the 4.5 percent range. “I wonder if it’s a sign of what we will see in the spring,” or just a normal seasonal rebound, he said.

Santa Clara County was the hottest market in the Bay Area — and most of the country — for the first part of the year as prices rose in the teens and 20s year over year. In February, its median price topped $1 million for the first time, rising to $1,080,000, up 27.8 percent.

That was the month a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 848-square-foot home on Plymouth Street in Sunnyvale sold for $2 million cash — making headlines as the height of Silicon Valley insanity.

That was and still is a record price-per-square-foot for Sunnyvale, said Doug Larson, a Coldwell Banker agent, who represented the seller. “Now with the softening market, I doubt that anybody will beat it, at least for a while,” he said.

After hitting $1.15 million in June, Santa Clara’s median price has fallen to $1 million in December, exactly where it was a year ago.

January is always a slow month for the real estate market, as sellers recover from the holidays and get their homes spruced up for the busy spring season.

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“Homes that sell in the winter are typically homes that have been sitting on the market awhile and have to take a price cut,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather.

Right now, “buyers are in a holding pattern,” she added. “They don’t know if this is as good as it’s going to get, if prices come down or more homes come on the market.”

She noted that a slower market is good for buyers because “they have more negotiating power” and for sellers who are moving up to a more expensive home because “overall they are going to be saving more money.”

Fairweather predicts that prices will end the year about where they are now. “I would be surprised if they go down,” she said.

Nancie Allen, president of Bay East Association of Realtors, said the government shutdown in January made it hard to tell where the market is headed. The next two weeks will be a better indicator. The market now “is all over the place,” she said. Some homes in Fremont have been sitting on the market for a while, while one had 15 offers.

Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist with Zillow, said his data show that home prices in the last quarter of 2018 rose at their slowest annual pace for any quarter since 2010.

He predicts that prices will appreciate 5 to 6 percent this year in the San Francisco metro area and 7 to 8 percent in the San Jose metro area, assuming interest rates stay low.

Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: kpender@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kathpender

I read this article at: SF Chronicle

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Call | Text | Sabrina 650.799.4333 | Susan 650.796.0654

Email |   Info@TheCatonTeam.com

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials | The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat | TheCatonTeam.com | Facebook | Instagram | HomeSnap | Pintrest | LinkedIN Sabrina | LinkedIN Susan

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

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The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

How Long Does It Take to Improve Your Credit Score Enough to Buy a Home?

A new year means new goals.  If home ownership is one of them – it’s time to make sure your credit is in check.

How long does it take to improve your credit score? If you’re hoping to buy a home, having a good credit score is key, since it helps you qualify for a mortgage. So if your credit score is low, knowing how long it takes to raise it to home-buying range can help you plan.

While raising a credit score can’t happen overnight, it is possible to raise your credit score within one to two months. However, it could take longer, depending on what’s dragging down your score—and how you handle it. Here’s what you need to know.

How long does it take to raise a credit score?

First off, what’s considered a good score versus a poor one? Here are some general parameters:

  • Perfect credit score: 850
  • Excellent score: 760-849
  • Good credit score: 700 to 759
  • Fair score: 650 to 699
  • Low score: 650 and below

While it varies by area and type of loan, generally lenders will look for a score of 660 or higher to grant a mortgage (here’s more on the minimum credit score you need for a home loan).

If you’re looking to boost your credit score fast, here are some actions you can take.

Correct errors on your credit report

Correcting errors on your credit report is a relatively quick way to improve your credit score. If it’s a simple identity error—like a credit card that’s not yours showing up—you can get that corrected within one to two months.

If it’s an error on one of your accounts, though, it could take longer, because you need to involve your creditor as well as the credit bureau. The entire process typically takes 30 to 90 days. If there’s a lot of back-and-forth between you, the credit bureau, and your creditor, it could take longer.

The first step to correcting errors is to get a copy of your credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian (the three major credit bureaus), which you can do at no cost once a year at annualcreditreport.com. Next, review them for errors. If it’s an error on one of your accounts, you must refute that error with the bureau by providing documentation arguing otherwise. For example, if you paid a credit card on time and the card issuer is reporting a late payment, find a bank statement showing that you paid on time.

Credit bureaus typically have 30 days to investigate the error. If they agree that it’s an error, they will remove the item. The credit bureau may also ask for additional information or ask you to discuss the information with the creditor involved. If that’s the case, stay on top of communications with your creditor so you can get things resolved as quickly as possible.

Deal with delinquent accounts

Bringing delinquent accounts current and settling accounts that are in collections can also boost your score fairly quickly. Once the creditor or collection agency reports your account update, you should see a positive bump in your score. Keep in mind, though, that your late payment history will remain on your credit report for seven years.

If you have bad accounts that have been on your report for six years or more, you may not want to worry about settling them or bringing them up to date. This can re-age the account, and if you fall behind again, it will stay on your credit report for another seven years.

“Make sure you don’t re-age these accounts, because they’re going to drop off soon,” says Nathan Danus, CDMP and Director of Housing and Community Development at DebtHelper in West Palm Beach, FL. Negative information typically “falls off” your credit report after seven years, so if you’re close, it’s best to just wait it out.

Lower your credit utilization

Credit utilization refers to how much you owe compared with the amount of credit you have available. For example, if you have a $10,000 credit limit across all your credit cards and you have balances totaling $9,000, you’ve utilized 90% of your credit. This drags down your credit score.

“What these consumers often need to do is pay down the balances on their existing credit accounts, which can be a challenge if they’ve allowed the balances to creep up over time,” says Martin H. Lynch, compliance manager and director of education at Cambridge Credit Counseling of Agawam, MA. “The ratio of what’s owed to the amount of credit available represents 30% of the consumer’s score, so rapid improvement is possible if there’s a large amount of money available to pay down balances.”

Linda L. Jacob, a financial counselor at Consumer Credit of Des Moines, IA, recommends paying down balances to below one-third of your credit line. Any payments you make will be reflected on your credit report as soon as your creditors report your payment to the credit bureaus. Credit scores are updated on an ongoing basis, and creditors typically report once per month, so if you make a payment that lowers your credit utilization, that should be reflected on your credit score within two months.

If you’re regularly using your credit card but you want to keep your utilization low so you can apply for a mortgage, you may want to pay down your credit-card balance on a weekly or biweekly basis. This ensures that your balance is as low as possible whenever your creditor reports your payment history to the credit bureaus.

You can also decrease your card utilization by getting more credit, but this approach can backfire. Consumers sometimes assume that by getting more credit, their credit score will improve. If you have a $3,000 balance on a card with a $4,000 credit limit and you’re approved for a new credit card with a $1,000 limit, you now have $5,000 in total credit lines. Instead of using 75% of your available credit, you’re now using 60%. That’s better, right?

Not necessarily. “Just applying for credit lowers your credit score, and that effect lasts for months,” warns Mike Sullivan, personal finance consultant at Take Charge America in Phoenix, AZ. “For the first few months after you apply for credit, your credit score may actually go down.”

You can try getting around this by asking a credit limit increase on a card you already have. Be sure to ask whether they do a “soft” credit pull rather than a “hard” credit pull, though, since hard credit inquiries are the ones that impact your credit. A creditor may be willing to give you a credit line increase with a “soft” pull, which will not hurt your credit score.

Soft inquiries are for background purposes only. For example, a credit card company may do a soft pull to see if you’re eligible for certain credit card offers, or an employer may do a soft pull before offering you a job. Soft pulls can be done without your permission and do not impact your credit score. Hard pulls require your permission, and are done when lenders or credit card companies are assessing whether to grant you a loan or line of credit.

How to raise your credit score for the long haul

Once you’ve corrected errors, settled your delinquent accounts, and brought your credit utilization under control, the only other things that will improve your score are time and developing good payment habits. For example, if you tend to forget to make payments, you can set up automatic payments so you don’t forget.

And here’s some good news for people with bad credit: Generally, people with the lowest scores will see the biggest gains the fastest.

“It’s a lot like dieting,” says Sullivan.

For instance, if your score is 550, “you could probably get it up 30 points in a matter of a couple months, if you’re really dedicated and really careful,” he explains.

On the other hand: “If your credit score is already a 750 and you’re trying to get it to 780, that can take double or more the time.”

Still, it’s worth doing whatever you can to get the best interest rate possible.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Melinda Sineriz is a writer living in Bakersfield, CA. She writes about personal finance and real estate for several websites and businesses.

I read this article at:  Realtor.com

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the upmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials

The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat

The Caton Team Website

The Caton Team Advantage

How to Buy While Selling Real Estate

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Visit us at:  Our Blog * TheCatonTeam.com * Facebook * Instagram * HomeSnap* Pintrest * LinkedIN Sabrina * LinkedIN Susan

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina DRE# 01413526 / Susan DRE #01238225 / Team DRE# 70000218/ Office DRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

 

Market Update – Janurary 14, 2019

Hello Caton Team friends! 

Each Monday I post a quick video on Facebook and Instagram with a market update.  Today I am happy to report that this past weekend – open house turn out was the best since before the holidays.  Real, qualified, pre-approved buyers came out regardless of the rain.  This is live, from the trenches updates from myself and Susan in Newark and my fellow agents here on the San Francisco Peninsula.  By no means is this the start of Selling Season – but it is a start.

If you are thinking about buying this year, get approved TODAY!  Getting fully pre-approved can take some time due to the large volume of paperwork each bank is going to require.  It is best to be totally approved and underwritten by your lender of choice BEFORE you look at homes.  Once you are pre-approved the Caton Team starts the house hunt and focuses on homes since they themselves require time and consideration.  Buying Real Estate is a journey – not a race.  The more time you prepare – the better you can make solid decisions and once the market heats up – you can act as fast as needed.  In my experience, Buyers who take the time to understand their loan and their budget get the home they want often on the first try because they are prepared to do what it takes and already understand the impact of their actions.  It is nearly impossible to be a competitive and knowledgeable buyer if you haven’t taken the time to prepare. 

If you’re on the market to sell – hold tight!  Right now the market is in the buyers seat with a bit more inventory sitting due to the holidays.  However, interest rates are low now and that in itself is motivation to get in while rates are low.  So stay inline with the current market, adjust strategy as needed and make sure your home shows well. 

If you’re thinking of selling this year, contact your Realtor now to get a true market picture.  Each neighborhood is different.  Homes may be selling quicker in the mid peninsula but sitting across the bay or on the coast.  Be realistic with yourself and your Realtor with your expectations.  What fuels over bidding is high demand and low supply.  Right now we have low demand and normal supply.  California Economists believe the market is going to appreciate this year, even if the market is soft today.  The Caton Team knows come Spring – more buyers will be in the game and we expect a healthy market.

With all the talk that our market is in flux, people can get overwhelmed with the mixed messages and feel uncertain.  We believe that each client is unique and requires a high level of care and consideration.   Contact The Caton Team at anytime for a free, no strings attached consultation.  We love what we do and love helping people achieve their dreams and goals. 

How can The Caton Team help you?

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call | Text at: 650-799-4333 

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials

The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat

The Caton Team Website

The Caton Team Advantage

How to Buy While Selling Real Estate

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Visit us at:  Our Blog * TheCatonTeam.com * Facebook * Instagram * HomeSnap* Pintrest * LinkedIN Sabrina * LinkedIN Susan

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina DRE# 01413526 / Susan DRE #01238225 / Team DRE# 70000218/ Office DRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

Forget Aspen! 10 Great U.S. Ski Towns Where Folks Can Actually Afford to Buy a Home

Winter, as you’ve surely heard, is coming—hard and fast. So why not ride it out in your very own home in the mountains, in a sweet place where the slopes are groomed, the air is clean, and après-ski bars are buzzing? While you’re at it, maybe chill for the summer too! Truth be told, you don’t have to be a second-generation reality TV star, tech titan, or trust-fund kid to live large in a great American ski town. And no, we’re not schussing you. You just need to know where to set your sights.

Hint: It’s not on Aspen, Jackson, Park City, or any of the other snowy playgrounds of the 1%, where median home prices rival or even exceed the most expensive neighborhoods of San Fransisco or New York.

But there are plenty of lower-key, way more inexpensive options around. In fact, just about half of America’s ski towns, as defined by realtor.com®, have a median home price under $300,000. So our data team set out to find the most affordable of the bunch, towns where you can keep the dream of owning a home near the slopes alive, and maybe even have some cash left over for a new snowmobile. Or heck, an SUV!

While you’d be forgoing some of the glam scenes, upper-end nightspots, and world-class powder of the best-known resort towns, these lower-priced mountain meccas are still undisputed winter and summer wonderlands. Some are old mining towns, or small remote cities that built resorts as a means to replace fading industries. They have fewer tourists, and miles of untrammeled nature.

To create our rankings, we started with a list of around 450 ski resorts, as compiled by onthesnow.com, a website that creates snow reports for the ski industry. We then looked at median list prices in the nearest towns or cities to those resorts to figure out which had the least expensive real estate. Only places with at least 50 homes for sale in October were included, and for geographic diversity, we included just one place per state.

So pull on that discount Uniqlo parka, grab a hot toddy or three, and let’s check out the best bargain ski towns in America.Most affordable ski towns

 

Read More:  Realtor.com – Ski Towns

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the upmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials

The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat

The Caton Team Website

The Caton Team Advantage

How to Buy While Selling Real Estate

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Visit us at:  Our Blog * TheCatonTeam.com * Facebook * Instagram * HomeSnap* Pintrest * LinkedIN Sabrina * LinkedIN Susan

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina DRE# 01413526 / Susan DRE #01238225 / Team DRE# 70000218/ Office DRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified

Resources for Buyers Struggling With Down Payments

First-time buyer surveys consistently show the top hurdle to homeownership is saving up for the down payment. But potential home shoppers may be misunderstanding the amount of money they really need to buy a home.

“Paying 20 percent down is, quite frankly, a myth,” Karen Hoskins, vice president at NeighborWorks, told HouseLogic. “Most buyers pay only 5 percent to 10 percent down—some even pay zero.”

Several assistance programs exist to help buyers with down payment concerns break into homeownership. For example, 69 percent of about 2,500 homebuying programs tracked by Down Payment Resource offer down payment assistance. The average amount of assistance from these programs tops $11,000.

HouseLogic offers several places where buyers can search for down payment assistance, including through national government programs. The Federal Housing Administration offers loans to first-time buyers with down payments as low as 3.5 percent. Programs like the USDA Rural Development Loans and VA Home Loans offer eligible buyers zero down payment loans.

Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer eligible buyers loans where they can put down as little as 3 percent of the purchase price. When buyers put down less than 20 percent, they pay private mortgage insurance each month to protect the lender’s interest.

Many state and local homebuying programs offer assistance programs too. There are many different forms of assistance, such as forgivable loans and grants (gifts for some or all of the down payment and closing costs) to soft mortgages (down payment assistance loans that are deferred for some period of time based on the program’s requirements).

To find a program, HouseLogic recommends NeighborWorks, which provides housing counselors to discuss mortgage options for free, and the Down Payment Resource, where buyers can check their eligibility for assistance programs. Mortgage brokers should also be able to supply buyers with information about programs in their area and help determine eligibility.

Read the full scope of your buyers’ options and share the available resources for down payments—or no down payments—on HouseLogic. 

Source: 

Known Ways You Can Buy a House With No Down Payment,” HouseLogic.com (December 2018) 

I read this article at: Realtor.com

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the upmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials

The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat

The Caton Team Website

The Caton Team Advantage

How to Buy While Selling Real Estate

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Visit us at:  Our Blog * TheCatonTeam.com * Facebook * Instagram * HomeSnap* Pintrest * LinkedIN Sabrina * LinkedIN Susan

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina DRE# 01413526 / Susan DRE #01238225 / Team DRE# 70000218/ Office DRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.