Deanna Valeo
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What You Need to Know About Your Credit Score and How to Protect It February 6, 2014

If you are applying for a home loan in the Charlotte area, one of the first things to do is confirm your credit score. A credit score is the number that lenders use to verify whether or not you can borrow money.

The three major credit bureaus "assign" you a number based upon their analysis of your track record of paying bills on time. Lenders can then use the average of the three bureau's numbers (they typically vary from 1-30 points from one another) to evaluate whether you are a good candidate to qualify for a loan. Your number, which will range from the lower end of 300 to the highest of 850, is a reflection of how you have paid your credit cards, loans and utilities over time.

If you are curious about your score, you are in luck! For the first time, you can get a truly free credit score report with no hidden costs or obligations at Credit Karma. Credit Karma offers a no-strings-attached service that allows you to return as often as you would like and even track your credit file to stay informed and find the best savings options.

But BEFORE you run your credit make sure that you are working with a knowledgeable and expert mortgage planner that can help protect you from unsolicited offers and deceptive marketing practices. When you are applying for a loan and your credit needs to be run, you will in turn trigger an inquiry that legally allows the credit bureau to sell your name and information to other mortgage companies. You are about to enter into one of the biggest transactions of your life and the last thing you want is a loan telemarketer confusing you with phony interest rates. Take preventative measures Opt out now!

Our expert mortgage planners can help explain that in no way is Fairway selling client's private information to other brokers and why you should ALWAYS avoid doing any business with cold callers or over the phone. Cold callers often 'strike while the iron is hot,' and will use phony 'bait and switch' tactics to lure you into believing that they are either affiliated with your current mortgage planner or that you can get a much better deal by working with them. At Fairway, we are always ahead of the curve and can ensure that we will ensure that get you the best home mortgage loan for your situation.

Fairway works hard to earn the trust of every client and by doing so, we can help you take preventative measures from being cold called and help you 'Opt Out' we can even do it for you on our own!

By visiting OptOutPreScreen or calling 888-567-8688 you can opt out for five years or forever by mailing in their form. We understand the source of frustration and annoyance that these cold callers can cause and by providing our expert service, we want to protect you and your home mortgage loan.

Protecting yourself from credit fraud is another important way to protect your credit score. As you may have seen on the news, Target's security was breached over the holidays. Because of this, Target is partnering with Experian to offer one year of FREE daily credit monitoring that includes identity theft insurance.  This will allow you to protect yourself from scammers or identity theft and will be a valuable tool for you as well.

While we suggest talking to your mortgage planner before you go forward with fixing errors on your credit reports, you may contact the three primary credit bureaus at the information below.
Equifax: 800-685-1111 (general) or 800-525-6285 (fraud); P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374
Experian: 888-397-3742 (general and fraud); PO Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 800-888-4213 (general) or 800-680-7289 (fraud); P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022

Original Article here
 


Charlotte Is Ranking In All The Right Places February 19, 2014

 

We know that Charlotte's growth is booming, but now there's proof! It was recently announced by Forbes that Charlotte was 3rd on the Top 10 Investment Cities list, and also by the U.S Green Building Council that North Carolina was ranked 7th in the country for properties that earned LEED Certification.

According to Forbes Magazine, 2014 is a great year to invest in the Charlotte Real Estate Market. The rankings for "Top Cities to Invest In" are determined by a number of figures, namely growth of population, home prices, and the job economy. Here's a snapshot to show why Charlotte, NC is 3rd on the list:
  • 3 year population growth forecast: 24%
  • Actual Home Price: $201,855
  • Equilibrium Home Price: $237,985< >Difference: -15%
  • Experts say that the secret to a prime investment is to buy low and sell high. With such a rapidly growing population and lower home prices, Forbes recognizes that right now is the best time to buy a home in Charlotte whether it is your primary home or just an investment property. The Queen City's future looks bright and could bring you some green
  • Speaking of green....Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council said,"North Carolina has a strong base of dedicated individuals who are using LEED to transform its built infrastructure, into high-performing spaces that promote the health of our planet and the people who use these buildings each and every day." 
  • The third-party LEED rating system for sustainability in construction and operations of properties, is considered the gold standard in green building. Last year alone, 133 projects in the state of North Carolina earned LEED certification. Among those 133, Charlotte's distinguishable Duke Energy Center was one of the buildings awarded LEED certification and on top of that achieved the highest rating possible LEED Platinum and is considered one of the greenest buildings in the world.
  • Charlotte has been booming in employment, population, and real estate and now is truly the time to invest further in your own future by investing in property in Charlotte.
  • Right now is one of the best times to consider all of your home buying or selling options, as it may be time to move up into a larger home or to a new part of town. Whether you are buying a new home or looking to refinance your current home, you can trust Fairway Independent Mortgage of the Carolinas to make your home loan as stress-free as possible. Call me to talk about your next investment.
Original article here


Ten Things to Get Straight Before You Renovate February 26, 2014

Special feature courtesy of Bruce Irving Renovation & Real Estate Services

1. Live there. Unless the home you've just purchased is a total wreck, live in it for a good period of time before shaking it up with a renovation. Learn its flow, where the groceries land, where the laundry wants to go, how the sun hits it, where the choke points are, which way the rain slants, even get a sense of its soul--all of which will inform your choices when you make your plans to change things.

2. Accept this truth: almost every job costs more and takes longer than you think. After you (and your advisors) have done your very best to estimate the cost, add 20%. If you don't have the funds, cut the job back. Ditto on the time: add 25%. If it's a big job, add slightly less--say 20%--if you can vacate the house for the bulk of the project. If you happen to beat these projections, then your surprises are happy ones.

3. Good professional help is worth the money--that means design as well as construction. You are about to spend more than you ever thought possible--it might as well be for a correctly designed thing.

4. Use your professionals wisely and efficiently: Many architects charge by the hour (which is a good way to work with one), so bring a lot of thinking and pictures (of likes and dislikes) to your first meeting. If he or she doesn't ask you a lot of questions about your needs, desires, and the way you live, find someone else. Listening skills and curiosity are crucial in an architect and builder. With contractors, be willing to pay for (and wait for) a good one. Skip the low bidder and probably the one who is available right away.

5. Choose your teammates wisely. Be it a designer or a general contractor, ask to contact their last three clients. These people will have experienced the person at his or her current level of achievement and staffing. Also ask the architect for two GCs s/he has worked with; ask the GC for two architects. These people have seen the person as only a professional can. Visit you're a couple of candidates' jobsites to check out cleanliness, organization, and vibe.

6. Take your design to the schematic stage (as opposed to finished "biddable" plans) and then get a contractor or two to look at it. This way you can find out if your project is in the right budget ballpark before falling in love with a plan--and paying for a complete set of bid drawings. It's also a good way to meet potential contractors, get their input, and not misuse their time.

7. Lay it out for real. Lots of people have great difficulty truly understanding blueprints. They say they get it, but quite often they don't. Whenever possible, mark out the proposed change on the floor, the wall, the yard, and walk through it. The experience may surprise you.

8. Ask lots of questions. There's no such thing as a dumb one, and besides, it's your money you're spending. You should know why and on what.

9. Water kills houses. If you're faced with a choice of working on the outside or the inside, start on the outside. No point in putting in a new floor if the roof is getting set to leak. Gutters, grading, foundation plantings, flat roofs--make sure the water is going where it should: away from the building.

10. Synthetics are good. Especially when it comes to the exterior, low-maintenance is the name of the game, and cement clapboarding (HardiePlank), expanded polyurethane moldings (Fypon), and cellular PVC trim (Azek) outlast today's wood and hold paint better. Each has its own quirks, so make sure your contractor is familiar with them or willing to learn about them. New treatment processes have made real wood exceptionally rot-resistant as well--Centurion is a pine trim that comes with a 50-year warranty against decay.

*Psychology counts. I was describing my business to someone in a restaurant when the woman at the next table leaned over. She was a psychologist and she said that in her experience, renovations were right up there with moving and loss of a job as stressors on couples. The issues, she said, were power, control, and money. One way to see what your issues will be is to take on a small project together--paint a room, put up a mailbox. Your styles will soon be apparent, and you can work on figuring out a division of labor that might accommodate them--on that job and larger ones in the future.

BONUS: Spend good money on things you touch every day--door hardware, doors, faucets, appliances, kitchen cabinets. The tactile experience sends a daily reminder to you and your guests about the solidity and quality of your home.

EXTRA BONUS: Think long and hard before you replace your windows. If they're original to the house and are in half-decent shape, they can and should be resuscitated. In combination with a storm window, a properly functioning old window comes very close to equaling the energy efficiency of a modern thermal-pane unit--and will outlast it. Anyone claiming that you will earn your money back in energy savings by installing replacement windows is either misinformed or looking for your money himself.

Content courtesy of Bruce Irving, renovation specialist, realtor, author, and former producer of "This Old House."
More information here or on his Facebook.