May 20 2010

Our Priorities are Simple, They’re Yours!

…If it’s important to you, it’s important to us.  When buying or selling a home, you deserve a Realtor who’ll take the time to listen, find out what’s important to you, and put your interests first.

Please subscribe to our articles or new listings and take a look at the following sections of our website…

Current Listings | Property Search | My Listings Manager | Under Contract | Subscribe

…please message me with any suggestions you have for how we can better serve you (using internet technology or just plain-old handshakes and smiles)

Cathy Lagravier
“Please share your goals with me. In turn, I’ll share my success with you.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling,  please give me a call and share your story.”

– Cathy Lagravier

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Aug 19 2010

Selling a House: 4 Tips to Get More Buyers through Your Door

Sell a home tips

If you’re trying to sell a house this year, you’ve got a rough road ahead of you.

Since the end of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the $6,500 long-term homeowner tax credit on April 30, the number of people interested in buying a house has plummeted by as much as 40 percent.

With more foreclosures coming onto the market, home sellers are in a tough spot: the number of homes for sale is increasing just as the number of home buyers is decreasing.

That means you might have to drop your price to catch a home buyer’s interest.

But before you go that route, you’ll want to do everything you can to get the attention of the maximum number of home buyers. Make sure you do everything on this list:

Selling a House Tip #1: Make your house look good enough to be on TV.

Today’s home buyers have watched tons of real estate programming on HGTV, Bravo, and other satellite networks that shows how to transform ugly homes into polished gems…

via Finance Blog – Real Estate: Selling a House: 4 Tips to Get More Buyers through Your Door.

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Aug 19 2010

Getting Preapproved for a Mortgage

Getting Preapproved

Getting preapproved for a mortgage can help you buy a home you can afford.

By Marcie Geffner –

January 23, 2009

If you’re getting ready to buy a home, you probably already know that lower home prices and interest rates have made homes much more affordable. But did you also know that getting preapproved for a mortgage can help you shop for and find a home that’s right for you? Here’s why:

Find out how much you can afford to spend

It’s no secret that lenders have tightened their standards or that loan qualifications now tend to be stricter than they were a few years ago. Lenders today will want to review your income, debts and credit score, and they’ll expect documentation that shows your income and assets.

By getting preapproved for a loan, you’ll be able to find out whether you’ll be able to qualify and how much you’ll be able to borrow. Since you’ll know how much you can afford to spend before you start shopping for a home, you won’t get your heart set on a home that’s too pricey or miss out on a home you thought you couldn’t afford. Instead, you’ll be able to limit your search to homes that meet your needs and budget. By getting preapproved, you’ll also get a good-faith estimate of your closing costs, so you won’t be surprised by those expenses later on.

Find out your interest rate and monthly payment

Getting preapproved for a loan will also introduce you to the loan application and approval process. You’ll find out the types of loans, interest rates and monthly payments that may be offered to you, depending on your income, credit score and other aspects of your personal situation. And when you find a home you want to buy, you’ll be ready to make an offer without delay. A preapproval letter from a lender will help make a good impression on home sellers. Home sellers will know that you’re serious about buying a home and that you won’t have to struggle to get financing. That might even improve the odds that the seller will accept your offer.

How to get prequalified and preapproved

To get “prequalified” for a home loan, you’ll need to answer some basic questions about your financial situation. After that, the lender will review your paycheck stubs, bank statements and other documents, and then you’ll be “preapproved” for your loan. Be aware that prequalified and preapproved are preliminary; your loan will still need to receive final approval before you can buy your new home.

via Preapproved Mortgage – Getting Preapproved for Mortgage. Continue reading

Aug 19 2010

Batting Averages for Listing Agents

Batting averages for real estate agents

By: Glenn Kelman

Posted: Monday, August 16th, 2010, 4:58 pm

Redfin just published MLS data from seven counties across the U.S. on the likelihood that a listing activated in 2009 sold by August of 2010. It turns out that the listing agent got a sale 47% of the time, a number that seemed surprisingly low to us, particularly since staging, photographing and marketing costs can add up…

via | Batting Averages for Listing Agents | National real estate marketing and technology blog | Realtors and real estate, mortgage and investment news.

Aug 14 2010

How to Qualify for a Home Loan |

Before you start seriously looking at homes, it’s a good idea to put a plan in place to qualify for a home loan. It may not be realistic to qualify for a loan big enough to purchase your dream home, but there are things you can do to improve your odds of qualifying for a reasonable loan based on your family’s income.

  1. Set a reasonable goal. Work with your real estate agent to come up with a maximum monthly amount you can devote to a loan, taxes, insurance and maintenance. Your lender can also help you determine the maximum loan amount you would currently qualify for.
  2. Make your financial situation clear to the lender. Explain any pending improvements to your financial situation, such as a raise or new source of income.
  3. Develop a plan to save money for a down payment. Find a source of additional income, such as a second job or find a way to cut back on other expenses. Then, calculate how much money you can save each month and how long it will take you to save enough for the down payment. Plan to apply for a home loan after you have saved enough for the down payment.
  4. Eliminate debt. Pay down credit cards, sell a car or trade down to a cheaper car. If you cannot eliminate debt, consolidate your debt to get your monthly payment down. Not only will eliminating debt give you more money to spend each month, it improves your credit rating.
  5. Talk to your real estate agent about alternative funding options to consider. If you are a veteran, you may qualify for a Veteran’s Administration loan without a down payment. You may also qualify for a balloon mortgage, which has low monthly payments for an initial period.
  6. Look for a home for sale with an assumable mortgage with a desirable interest rate. With an assumable mortgage, you’ll take over the payments and interest rate and pay the difference between the selling price and the remaining amount owed on the loan. You will still have to qualify for this type of loan, but a good interest rate could give you a better chance of qualifying.
  7. Start out with a less expensive home. Find a home in need of remodeling or a smaller home than your ideal home. While living in this home, you can save money and prepare to trade up to the home you really want. Buying or selling a home will give you a credit boost to help you qualify for a larger loan.

Tips & Warnings Lenders suggest you spend no more than 28 percent of your monthly income on a mortgage payment. Improve your chances of qualifying for a home loan by having a friend or family member co-sign for the loan. via How to Qualify for a Home Loan |

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Aug 12 2010

Unemployed? The New HAMP Loan Modification Program Might Help You Keep Your House


If you’re unemployed and can no longer afford your mortgage, a new Making Home Affordable loan modification program might offer some relief.

The new Unemployed Program (UP) starts August 1, 2010, and it requires lenders to reduce or suspend payments for at least three months for eligible borrowers. It is at the lender’s discretion to extend the forbearance, and the program ends once the borrower gets a new job.

According to Supplemental Directive 10-04, mortgage servicers are required to offer an Unemployment Program forbearance plan to a borrower who meets the following criteria:

1. The mortgage loan is secured by a one- to four-unit property, one unit of which is the borrower’s principal residence.

2. The mortgage loan is a first-lien mortgage originated on or before January 1, 2009.

3. The current unpaid principal balance of the mortgage loan is equal to or less than $729,750 for a single-family property. Higher loan amounts apply to two- to four-unit dwellings.

4. The mortgage is delinquent or default is reasonably foreseeable.

5. The mortgage loan has not been previously modified under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the borrower has not previously received an UP forbearance period.

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Aug 12 2010

Equifax Launches New Personal Finance Blog

Finance experts partner with credit reporting powerhouse to create online consumer finance resource

Atlanta, GA (Vocus)

Equifax announced the launch of the Equifax Personal Finance Blog earlier this week. The Equifax blog aims to inform and educate consumers about personal finance topics and features weekly insights and practical information from top consumer finance experts— Ilyce Glink (Real Estate), Daniel Solin (Investment), Eva Rosenberg (Tax) and Linda Rey (Insurance), as well as a team of Equifax subject matter experts covering select credit-related topics.

The Equifax Personal Finance Blog marks the company’s latest Web 2.0 effort to further engage with consumers and transform its website,, into a trusted consumer resource and destination for topical personal finance information. Equifax also boasts an iPhone app, a Facebook Fan Page, and a new Twitter profile (@EquifaxPFB).

“Now, more than ever, consumers are searching for information and answers about their credit and finances,” says Trey Loughran, President, Equifax Personal Information Solutions. “We created the Equifax Personal Finance Blog as a destination for consumers to find sensible, straightforward information and insights to help them make informed decisions about their day-to-day finances.”

Every day on the blog, consumers will find new posts and helpful answers on topics like:

* 4 Myths About Your Credit History

* Tax Talk Before Marriage

* To Convert to Roth IRA or Not: That is the Question

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Aug 5 2010

Field Guide to Buying vs. Renting

Is it better to Buy or Rent? Whether renting is better than buying depends on many factors.  The information listed here will assist you in helping answer this question. Included are statistics and studies on homeowners and renters as well as financing options and tips. (M. Glick, Senior Information Specialist)

Rent-to-Own Deals: Smart Questions to Ask…

For Sellers:

Who will tend to the property and pay for routine maintenance?

Who pays for major repairs?

What are the costs of setting up and managing an escrow account for the portion of rent allotted to the down payment?

Will you manage the property yourself, or hire an agent?

What if the renters change their minds? Who keeps the money in the escrow account?

If the buyers change their minds, what will be required to put the property back on the market?

For Buyers:

How much of the rent is going to the down payment?

How locked in are you if you change your mind?

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Aug 5 2010

Top 10 Home Selling Mistakes That Can Cost You : HGTV FrontDoor Real Estate

The logo used from December 1, 1994 to March 1...
Image via Wikipedia

Avoid these common slipups to sell your home fast and for top dollar

By Shannon Petrie,

Don’t think spring is the only time you’ll be able to make a sale — people buy homes during every season.

Mistake #10: Waiting until spring to sell

Sure, spring is traditionally the busiest time for real estate sales, but people buy homes 365 days a year. Plus, off-peak season buyers tend to be more serious, and fewer homes on the market means less competition for sellers.

Don’t be daunted by the thought of selling during the summer, winter or fall. Instead, draw in buyers by playing up your home’s seasonal amenities.

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Aug 5 2010

Top 10 Home Buying Mistakes That Can Cost You : HGTV FrontDoor Real Estate

The logo used from December 1, 1994 to March 1...

Avoid these blunders that homebuyers commonly make

By Shannon Petrie,

Pre-approval lets you know how much you can afford before you start shopping for a home.

Mistake #10: Not getting pre-approved before house hunting

Why get your hopes up looking at $500,000 homes, when you can really only afford a $300,000 home? Before you start house hunting, narrow down your price range by getting pre-approved. Shop for a lender or mortgage broker you can trust. The mortgage pro will review your credit, income, assets and debts, and recommend a mortgage with monthly payments that fit your budget. The result is a good faith estimate, a document that spells out the likely terms of your loan, including the interest rate and closing costs. Not only does this let you know how much house you can afford, it also lets sellers know that you’re serious about buying.

via Top 10 Home Buying Mistakes That Can Cost You : HGTV FrontDoor Real Estate.

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Aug 3 2010

Associations Can No Longer Ignore FHA Approval

By Christopher L. Gardner, J.D. Print Article

July 16, 2010

The screaming and cursing you hear in unit 404 isn’t coming from Mr. Armbrister’s television—Armbrister has just learned that another potential sale of his condominium unit fell through due to the buyer’s inability to obtain financing. In this case, the buyer wanted to purchase Armbrister’s condo unit with an FHA loan—Armbrister’s homeowners association, however, had neglected to obtain FHA approval.

FHA loans, which are mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, accounted for a mere 1.7% of new mortgages as recently as 2006. Today, almost half of all new mortgages are FHA—yet there are still many misconceptions associated with their use and their benefits.

Due to the elimination of ‘spot approval’ in February 2010, an entire condominium development must now apply to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and be granted FHA approval before someone can purchase or refinance a unit using an FHA loan. Before its elimination, spot approval allowed an FHA buyer or refinancer to conduct a transaction in a specific condominium unit located in an unapproved complex.

Management companies and homeowners associations constantly ask why their condominium developments should seek FHA approval. A recent survey of more than 12,000 home buyers conducted by the Home Buying Institute indicated that the vast majority of respondents (87%) planned to use an FHA loan for their purchase. Given the prevalence of FHA loans in today’s housing market, the simple answer is that unit sellers in an association without FHA approval are severely limiting the pool of potential buyers. Thanks to the law of supply and demand, fewer possible buyers mean units will often sit on the market for longer periods and sell for lower prices. Even non-sellers are affected as lower sales prices for neighboring units often result in lower appraised values for all units.

Why have we seen such a surge in FHA borrowing? First, the general unwillingness of today’s lenders to extend credit and an almost complete withdrawal of private capital from the home mortgage sector forced HUD and FHA to take action. They ultimately crafted policies to increase FHA availability in order to help stabilize the housing market. FHA loans encourage lenders to lend, assuring them that they will be paid back by the federal government in case of default.

Second, as many residential real estate agents know all too well, the sudden and inevitable collapse of the high-risk subprime mortgage industry left a tremendous void in the marketplace for those buyers that did not have the 20% downpayment typically required when obtaining a conventional loan. This void is nicely filled by FHA loans, which require as low as a 3.5% down payment.

Finally, the significant increase in the maximum FHA loan limits from $362,790 to $793,750, means that an FHA loan is now relevant and appropriate for a much greater percentage of home purchases and refinances than ever before.

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