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Halfway Through The Year and Fairway Isn’t Slowing Down! July 1, 2013

This has been a great and busy month at Fairway Mortgage of the Carolinas! We are all so thrilled to have helped so many clients find homeownership and refinance success; we love looking back on the week and past clients to see how Fairway and our professional staff have helped others achieve their goals. Here is Christina Pistolis, a first time homeowner, who is thrilled to bits that Deanna was abe to help her make her dream come true.

 
Congratulations, Christina!


Habits of Consumers With High Credit Scores July 3, 2013

Building a great credit score is something that takes a bit of time and quite a bit of effort in making smart financial decisions. Credit scores range from 300 to 850 and the higher your score the more likely you are to getting great rates and terms on many lending options. America, as a whole, has a surprisingly decent credit score as a third of all consumers range from 749-799.It has been noticed that there are key patterns associated with those high achievers whose scores are around the 800 mark. Improving your credit takes time and while there are no "quick fixes" or "secret ways" to boost your credit score, there are a few simple approaches and methods you should utilize when it comes to working on your credit score.

1. Keep Your Balances In Check: Simply, avoid maxing out your credit card. Try to keep your balances at 30% or less of your credit cards limit. This may mean paying down balances and keeping a closer eye on your spending habits. It is a smart step to budget your finances and come up with a payment plan; focus on paying off your highest interest cards first. While having a balance is not a problem, in fact FICO found that those with the highest scores had an average of four cards with balances, keeping it in check is your main goal.
2. Always Make Your Payments: Did you know that your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score? Also, did you know that late payments could decrease your score by as many as 110 points? Set up payment reminders! Whether it be through the bank or on your own applications or calendar, set up something that will remind you it is time to pay your bills. Don't let late or missed payments kill your score; always try and stay on top of your payments.
3. Build Your History: This one is harder for younger borrowers but the length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your score.  It is good to have credit cards but it is important to manage them responsibly. While this takes time and dedication to build your credit profile, don't be afraid to begin your credit history if you know that you can properly build and care for it.
4. Be Careful With New Credit: While older credit gets a lot of attention when calculating your credit score, new credit accounts need just as much attention so they don't hurt the work you've already put in. Having too many open credit cards, even if you're paying them on time, can actually hurt your credit profile. Also, having several companies pull your credit score all in a short period can hurt your score. It's important to focus on your current credit accounts before opening new ones.
5. Things Happen: Mistakes will happen, financial or otherwise, and some of these mistakes may translate to your credit report. FICO found that 1 in 100 consumers had a collection on their credit report and that this led to their score's decline. What sets you apart for a higher score is a fluid credit report and working hard to keep balances low and payments on time.
When thinking about your credit profile, it's important to always take action to raise your score. There is no "quick fix" but it is important to understand the errors in your credit history and learn the guidelines on how to work towards maintaining a good credit history. It takes patience and discipline but there is grave importance in having a good score so that you get the best rates and terms when applying for anything that your credit score is applicable towards. Follow these simple steps or even contact a credit counselor so that you can be on track to having the best score you can have.


June Real Estate Review July 8, 2013

Although Charlotte is mostly known for its emerging role in the financial sector, the favorable quality of life the city offers has triggered many people to move into the area and for new corporations to relocate to the thriving city. As the city continues to flourish, even with rising home mortgage loan rates, it is evident that the Charlotte real estate market remains strong and steady and has no plans otherwise.As the spring home buying seasons rolls into summer, the inventory of homes for sale continues to replenish and home prices continue to rise as sellers respond to the pent up buyers demands. Charlotte still remains in a sellers market and even though mortgage rates have begun to inch up, they are still very low and will help maintain Charlotte's strength in real estate throughout the rest of the year.

Even with those rising mortgage rates Charlotte continues to boast recovery numbers as existing home sales continue to rise to their highest level since late 2009 and simultaneously home prices continue to rise as well. As reported by Freddie Mac, 30 year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.46%, up from the previous 3.93% while 15 year fixed rate mortgage loans rose to 3.5% from its previous 3.04%.

Even with the recent long-term mortgage rate increases, it is not likely that this will be taking buyers out of the market as the National Association of Realtors showed pending sales of existing homes rising to a six year high this past week.

Charlotte continues to see a lot of activity in the real estate market and nothing seems to be slowing it down. Even with rising mortgage loan rates, buyers in Charlotte continue their demand for homes and sellers, aware that this is still their time, continue to deliver.

The real estate market in Charlotte has found a way of sorting itself out and has been positively working for both buyers and sellers. As rates rise but are still lower than recent history, if there was ever a time to consider your home purchasing or selling options, this is certainly it.


Fairway Family Volunteers at Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte July 9, 2013



Since 1974, the goal of Ronald McDonald House is to improve the health and well being of nearly 3.7 million children worldwide every year. Where there is a sick child who needs specific treatment at a children's medical facility, a Ronald McDonald House is open to welcome and comfort families in need. By staying at a Ronald McDonald House, parents can better communicate with their child's medical team, and keep up with complicated treatment plans as needed.

As 1 of 300 houses, the vision for the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte is in part thanks to the compassionate efforts of so many people from the community. With the help of volunteers, the RMH can continue to provide the much-needed services that support the children and their families during their difficult time. That is where Fairway decided to step in, roll our sleeves up, and help out! Here is Deanna draining the Pasta above!

A team of 10 volunteers from the Fairway Mortgage of the Carolinas office recently went to The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte to help make dinner for all of the families currently residing in the home. Arriving at 4pm and preparing to serve at 6:30pm, the Fairway family banned together to make the 40+ residents Chicken Tetrazzini (a classic)! Each of us, with all of our different cooking tasks, were there to support the house, the children, and their families, the entire experience moved each volunteer in unforgettable ways.

Jenny Stoner, a Senior Mortgage Planner, commented, "Being back in a Ronald McDonald house was so incredible! The RMH was my sorority's philanthropy so it has a special place in my heart. I served there on several occasions in the 90?s and helped raise money for the Savannah, GA RMH. My son was also in the NICU for almost a month when he was born and if something like the RMH had been available then, it would have been such a blessing. I can relate to what some of those parents are going through, because I've been there.  The service and support the RMH provides for families is invaluable and I was so happy to be able to help in that effort! I got to help serve these families AND I got to do it with my Fairway family-It doesn't get much better than that! I can't wait to go back!"

Also grateful for the experience to volunteer was Fairways Tony Garshnick, also a Senior Mortgage Planner. After serving the families, Tony took it upon himself to get sit with one of the families and talk with them about their experiences and how the RMH has helped them, later Tony stated, "I was very impressed with the first class nature of the Ronald McDonald House.  Pitching in with the team and chopping stuff up sure is different from my day job. I had a great time and I hope to do it again"
 
If there is one thing to take away from the experience of cooking for 40+ families in need, it is that families are truly stronger when they are together and Fairway was humbled to provide strength for the families in distress while also strengthening our own. The Ronald McDonald House unites for the common purpose of offering hope, support, and love to the families struggling and Fairway hopes for another chance to offer our hand and help to help this purpose succeed. Our marketing director, Kelly Yale, summed up the experience,

"At Fairway, we think of ourselves as a family and when one of us is in need, we all gather to help. To have the opportunity to meet these parents and children and share a little bit of time and a meal with them was incredible. Like Jenny, I had a son who was at CMC's NICU for over a month. When you are going back and forth to the hospital twice a day while trying to take care of the rest of your family, something simple like a meal means the world. To have been able to volunteer together as a family for other families is a memory I will treasure."



 


Fairway’s Charlotte Veteran Home Giveaway! July 16, 2013

Fairway Independent Mortgage of the Carolinas is showing its support of area veterans by hosting an event where a family will be awarded keys to a mortgage-free home. Fairway's mission is to help Charlotte-area residents find financing for their homes, but the opportunity to thank a combat-wounded veteran by providing a financially unencumbered home is something that really excites the Fairway team.

Fairway's Charlotte, Lake Norman, Matthews and corporate offices will be partnering with two nonprofit organizations: the Military Warriors Support Foundation and The Boot Campaign for this event. Through the donation of a mortgage-free home through the Military Warriors Support Foundation, Fairway hopes to show its support of military families in the Carolinas and repay a debt of gratitude to a deserving veteran.
Fairway will combine the unveiling of the home and presentation of keys with a number of activities, including a Realtor training Continuing Education Course and presentations from high-level military representatives. The event is designed to bring together the Charlotte community to help one military family. The event will offer many volunteer possibilities, and Fairway is hoping to attract support from area businesses.

We are so excited that businesses are willing to help with the Charlotte Veteran Home Giveaway! While this is a huge undertaking, having amazing partners around the city who are willing to give of their time and talent is going to make the giveaway outstanding! It truly will be Charlotte's own "Extreme Home Makeover"  with the generosity of our community.

We are gathering all of the applications now, so we hope that if you know of a veteran who was injured in a war in recent years you will let them know how to enter. Also, if you would kindly post the website on your website or in your social media, we would truly appreciate it. www.CharlotteVeteranHomeGiveaway.com

We won't know the full details on the house that we are giving away until the end of August or the beginning of September, so we have plenty of time to be creative with our ideas as well as start the planning process. Just as soon as we do know the location of the home in Charlotte as well as the specs, you will be the first to know!At Fairway, we are eagerly awaiting the details of the home so that we can complete every detail of the event to ensure that it is special for everyone involved.  Fairway is a big fan of promotion and as a sponsor, your organization/company will receive exposure from media campaigns and all promotions in association with the home giveaway including being put on the website and on the blog that has been solely created for the event.

In case you have any inquiries regarding the Charlotte Veteran Home Giveaway and how you may get involved in changing one lucky families life, please feel free to contact our Director of Marketing, Kelly Yale or our Communications Specialist, Fabiana FanFani. We anxiously look forward to great success for one of our own local heroes. Please complete the form for information attached so we can get on our way to promoting your partnership on our website! We look forward to amazing things to come!


Financial Benefits of Homeownership July 19, 2013

When thinking about purchasing a home, there are many questions that you need to ask yourself; most of which lean towards the financial side. Buying a home is a major financial move and while there are pros and cons to everything, there are many positive financial benefits to owning your own home that everyone should know about.With homeownership comes several tax benefits that you will be able to reap.

There are several tax benefits that come along with homeownership but the most valuable is that tax codes allow homeowners to deduct the mortgage interest from their tax obligations. For most homeowners this is a huge deduction since interest payments can be the largest part of your mortgage payments in the early years. In addition to your mortgage interest, you can deduct the interest you pay on your home equity loan. This tax benefit can allow you to shift credit card debts to your home equity loan allowing you to not only pay lower interest rates than your original credit cards interest rate, but also get a deduction on the interest rate.

The greatest financial benefit of homeownership is that you are building wealth over time as you are building equity every month. Equity is the amount of money that you can sell your home for minus what you still owe on it. So through your monthly payments, the reduction of your home mortgage loan increases your home equity. Then as you build your home equity, you will eventually be able to use it as leverage to pay for other expenses in your life, as stated briefly above. Since home equity loan interest payments are tax deductible, for many homeowners, it makes sense to pay off other debt (bad debt, i.e.: credit cards) with your home equity loan. You will typically be able to borrow against your home's equity for several reasons, including making home improvements, paying for education, covering medical bills, etc.

However, it is very important to remember that a home equity loan is not a bottomless bank and that just because it is available, you should not necessarily use it. It is essential that you are responsible and conservative with a home equity loan; history has shown us that too many homeowners have treated their home equity loan as an endless cash flow used for lavish vacations or new cars and when home prices dropped they found themselves equity poor, swimming in debt, and in trouble.

Lastly, as discussed time and time again, in the long term, buying will always be cheaper than renting, even in the worst housing market. In the first few years it may seem cheaper to rent but over time, as the interest portion of your home mortgage loan payment decreases, the interest you will be paying will eventually be lower than the rent you would have been paying. More importantly, you do not want to find yourself throwing away all the money on rent and into a landlord's pocket, but instead find yourself putting in money and building equity in your own home.
The housing market continues to stabilize and financing is becoming more available for potential homebuyers. Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree.com stated, "increasing home prices are providing would-be sellers with the confidence needed to take action, while rising interest rates are placing a sense of urgency on potential home buyers. Together this creates a unique window of opportunity for buyers and sellers to take advantage of the market while home prices and rates are still reasonably affordable."

Many potential homebuyers cite that the financial benefit of owning versus renting is a main driver for their decision to purchase a home. If you have been on the fence it is time to look at your finances and contact a mortgage planner to help you understand your options and see the potential financial benefits you could be looking at.


Pocket Listings – Are They Helping or Hurting? July 20, 2013

In todays real estate market we are still experiencing a sellers market. Homes are being sold within days and some even within hours of being listed. Recently there is even a growing number of homes that are being sold before they formally hit the market these homes are being sold through a fairly controversial technique known as pocket listings.A pocket listing is a private "off-market" listing meaning that the selling agent will keep a home out of the full Multiple Listing Services. Instead of posting the home on the MLS which would expose it to a vast number of shoppers and agents an agent will restrict access to information about the house to a private circle of fellow agents, usually their own buyer clients in the same brokerage, hoping to face less competition for commissions and for a quick, full-price sale.

Due to historically low inventories of home for sale in major metropolitan areas, along with strong buyer demands and low home mortgage loan rates, pocket listings are noticeably surging and have become a significant factor in today's real estate business. Of course, the majority of complaints come from the agents who are not in "the loop". They argue that by restricting access to information about homes to only a relatively small number of potential buyers, agents are not fulfilling their core duties to their seller clients and not obtaining the highest possible prices.

Another argument regards how the market could possibly set the price for a house if the market doesn't even know the house is for sale. Appraisers use recent, comparable sales to help set values on a house but appraises will not use sales that did not get full exposure. They cannot use sales that didn't get full exposure because the property was not properly vetted through the MLS process and the appraiser will have no set knowledge if the arranged price was above or below the price that would have been set by the full market.

Counterarguments maintain that sellers may not want hundred of strangers tramping through their homes and that some sellers just want to get the transaction done quickly at an agreeable price and do not see the need for internet exposure. But in reality, If agents can sell these off-market listings to a buyer-client they bring in on their own, they can collect both sides of the commission rather than splitting it with another agent. Even if an agent can sell the off-market home through a colleague at their own firm, the commission will remain inside the brokerage. This makes the control of pocket listings a powerful asset for agents in today's very competitive seller's market.

Of course, if a client wants a listing withheld from the MLS, there is nothing 'shady' or illegal about doing as the client wishes. There is the rare occasion where this is the case, such as protecting privacy, or having an occupied rental home that is tough to show, or if a seller is not be ready to inform the tenant that the home is on the market. The most common reason a client might withhold a listing is because both the seller and a buyer might think there is potential financial value in doing so; a seller might think they will get a higher price with an exclusive listing while a buyer might think they will pay a lower price because showings are limited. The truth is that both of these perceptions are most often wrong in reality, most people are best served by the most exposure possible.

There is no way to attach a figure to the number of past or current pocket listings but it is something to be conscious of in today's real estate market. If you are considering selling your home or are in the midst of selling, be mindful that pocket listings will restrict the audience for your property, and most likely restrict your maximum price.


Tweeting Above The Rest July 22, 2013

No one can stress enough that as a real estate professional, creating a strong social media presence is an essential part of your marketing plan. Beyond just creating visibility of yourself and your brand, it lends a hand in showing the credibility and authenticity of your business, setting you as a local expert. Effectively using twitter can be a challenge but if you just remember that your goal is to establish an online presence to create local connections, it will make the process much easier.Before you jump right in, take a moment to claim your brand and establish your goals.

Your online presence should echo the brand you have established offline and whether you are interested in gaining the attention of buyers or sellers, determining your specific goals will help offer clarity in how you should properly market yourself and your business. Ask yourself, who is your target audience and what information are they eager to learn about and have shared so that you can be seen as a leader within your local market how much time can you commit on a weekly basis to twitter and your other social media what end result are you truly hoping to achieve answer all of these questions before you get down to business.

Now that you know what your goals are, you must create a following. Building a substantial following requires a lot of work and it is important to remember that the more targeted your followers are to real estate and your area, the more potential leads you can generate. There are a few ways to help you find the right people:

  • A Location Search: Find followers around your local area: your city, surrounding cities, local attractions, etc.
  • An Industry Search: Search for targeted terms like "real estate," "real estate agent," "buying real estate," "buying house," "selling real estate," and so on.  If you have created targeted keywords while creating a website or other social media platforms, use those to help you with this search. Also, don't think that befriending other agents is a negative, it's always good to know what your competition is doing and agents often refer clients to other agents.
Now that you are building a following, make sure to engage them! Always make sure you are tweeting fresh, creative, relevant, and newsworthy content. You want to share content that spread your message and your brand across to your followers so that you can broaden your business opportunities while still managing to integrate fun and topical information. Twitter is such a great tool to have in your marketing toolbox because you can now immediately relay information to potential buyers such as: updating a listing (price reductions, additional information, etc.), announce new listings and get even more attention to the property, and even advertise open houses to increase the attendance. Your tweets should often include links to your own blog or website and even links to other people's content, make sure your followers know that you are up to date on all your local real estate information.

You now know your marketing goals and strategy, how to find the right followers, and how to engage them, so now your finishing touches are what make Twitter so great hashtags. Hashtags, or placing a '#' before a word or phrase, helps Twitter and its users categorize similar tweets and organize search results. Before you hashtag your next tweet, search what is trending on your topic and include relevant hashtags because including already established hashtags will direct more lookers to your post. Here are some examples, #CharlotteRealEstate #CLTRealEstate #BuyingAHouse #FairwayMortgage.

Lastly, while tweeting, remember to keep everything professional. Each tweet addresses a potential client and is building your online representation so even when you are just creating personal interactions, small talking, and commenting, always make sure that you keep it professional.

Twitter can be a great social media marketing tool for real estate agents if done correctly. Tweet at least once a day or as often as you see reasonable (making sure all content is relevant and useful!) and make sure not clog your page with tweet after tweet of impractical information. Promoting your real estate business and brand through Twitter can open the door to opportunities that might have never been available before, so take the step to find your own voice on Twitter today!


Easy Ways To Get Your Home Ready To Sell July 29, 2013

It's not just the weather heating up in Charlotte! The Charlotte real estate market continues to hold strong and shows no plans of slowing down. While we continue to experience a sellers market, with prices starting to increase and availability slowly decreasing, if you were considering selling your home  now is the time!If you are ready to sell your home, before you take the next steps, here are some tips on how to make your home a market ready house! Buyers are always looking for reasons NOT to buy a property so make sure you don't give them any. Grab a friend who will be honest, or your realtor, and walk through the home looking at everything and note every fault that might leave a bad impression from a buyer's point of view.

Start structurally; get a full home and pest inspection done and fix any problems, large or small.  Whether it be roof leaks, termites, foundation problems, wall holes and damage, dampness, or plumbing problems, fix anything that may turn away a potential buyer.

Next, hit the major things that potential buyers will be looking at. Consider steam cleaning your carpets and draperies or replacing them if they are too worn to salvage. After your walk through, decide if you need to repaint the walls and trim so that they are fresh. If you see peeling or faded paint or that the wallpaper is outdated it is probably time for a fresh coat! When painting your walls for showings, choose neutral colors so that you are able to appeal to a wider range of people.
Kitchens are often considered the make or break room in the decision process so, if the numbers show that it is a worthy investment, replace dated appliances, hardware, cabinets and countertops. This may seem like a big undertaking for a home you are about to sell but it can greatly help the value of the house and how quickly it sells. While the kitchen is a very influential room to keep up-to-date, every other room is just an important! Continue to replace anything that is worn out or makes the house look dated such as faucets, cabinet pulls, hinges, windows, and even lighting. These are all small details that can help pull the house together and attract even more potential buyers.

Now that you have gone over all of the structural points of the home and made changes to help your homes market value it is time to get to the nitty-gritty parts of making your home market ready.

It's time to rid your home of all that clutter you didn't even notice. One thing that realtors try to get across is that buyers are looking for "light and airy." Clear your kitchen and bathroom countertops, bookshelves and tabletops, and anywhere else of any items or knick-knacks, even items you use on a daily basis. The point is to give the appearance of being roomy and comfortable to let the buyers truly see the home while not being fixated on your stuff. This can be a great time to go through your stuff and start your packing; consider throwing out old items, donating them or even selling them before you move.

Another step in making your house a market ready home is a hard one for some sellers however, realtors and stagers will tell you how important it is in the process. Consider taking down your personal artwork, furnishings, photos, displays, furniture, etc. Not only do you want to appeal to a wide array of people but also keeping your personal taste present can have people admiring YOUR things and they get lost from viewing the home as their own with THEIR things.
Now that you have de-cluttered and cleared away knick-knacks and personal belongings, clean that house! Whether it be professionally or by yourself, make it look and SMELL spotless and make sure it stays that way the entire time it's being shown. A few major things include washing both sides of windows, pressure washing the exterior and sidewalk, re-caulking tubs, showers, and sinks, polishing faucets and mirrors, cleaning out your refrigerator, vacuuming or waxing floors, bleaching grout, and dusting every surface! Make sure each room in your house is buyer ready and, remember that that includes making sure it smells just as clean as it looks!

Finally, take a step outside. How does your home look before you have even entered it? Make sure your homes curb appeal is up to snuff. Keep the sidewalk cleared, mow the lawn, do necessary yard maintenance, paint faded window trims, clean the gutters, fix the driveway if needed, paint the front door, plant a garden, and make sure those house numbers are visible. You want your home to be welcoming before potential buyers even take their first step inside.

It may seem like quite a bit but making sure that your home is market ready is a necessary step in the process of selling your home for its maximum value. You want to counteract prospective buyers from thinking they shouldn't buy your home and give them plenty of reasons as to why they should.


Fairway Opens New Matthews, NC Office! July 31, 2013

As Fairway of the Carolinas continues to only deliver the best, we are expecting great success as we open a new location in Matthews, NC! Our current offices are located in Ballantyne and Lake Norman and as Fairway plans on opening a fourth office in Mooresville in the upcoming months, we are all excited to focus on the Matthews opening.

Our Matthews office will be the third in the area for our branch manager, Tom Tousignant, who commented, "We have had fantastic loan officers on the south side of Charlotte for years and it has been a goal of ours to expand the Fairway brand up toward Matthews and Union County.  We've been a member of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce since our inception, so this Matthews office is the realization of a lot of hard work and growth by our amazing team. We hope that our reputation of excellence in lending will bring customers to our new office and we look forward to watching the office and area grow."

Located at 3012 Senna Drive in Matthews and serving all of the Matthews' area as well as Union County, the new branch will offer home loans as well as home loan refinancing. From contributing to foundations to giving veterans mortgage-free homes to sponsoring local charities, Fairway of the Carolinas is committed to expand its giving to the Matthews' community. Senior Mortgage Planner, Jane Estes is excited to be working so close to home. She says, "Having been a Matthews resident for 25 years, I have learned to love everything about this town and enjoyed watching it grow."

As we continue to grow by leaps and bounds, our main focus will always be on serving our clients with excellence. Please join us as Fairway's Matthew office will be holding an open house for the community on August 27th from 4pm-7pm.