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Sounding like a broken record can be a good thing

It’s a refrain we’ve been repeating a lot lately, yet it’s one we like to hear: Home values are still rising in most places, and mortgage rates are still near historic lows.

So why do we keep talking about it? Low rates can equate to saving money, and rising prices can equal growing wealth. That’s music to the ears of homeowners and home buyers far and wide.

How much have values risen? The map below will show you home price growth in the last quarter of 2015. Annual growth is detailed in the chart. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

2015 Q4 Update on Housing Market by State Wisconsin California and Tennessee

The appreciation figures shown are derived from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) All Transactions Data and compiled by Estate of Mind, Inc. Appreciation will vary from year to year, can decline and, for any individual property, can be more or less than the averages illustrated here. Information is deemed accurate but not warranted.

While the message of rising values and low rates may sound like a broken record, it’s one we’re happy to repeat.

Why? There may still be opportunities for owners to save or even free up some cash for other needs. With rates where they are, affordability is still good for prospective borrowers, too.

Still, we don’t know how long the current trends will last. If it’s time for you or someone you know to take the first step toward buying or refinancing, we’re ready to help.

Just be sure to take action before the music stops. Contact me today.

Tips for Managing Your Credit

Credit Score Report History WisconsinThis is part four, in a six part series, on how to be an expert of your credit.

Recent tallies show a third of U.S. credit scores fall below 649. While not impossible, acquiring a mortgage loan will likely be more difficult and more expensive at this level than with higher scores.

Below are the fundamentals to guide you in establishing and maintaining a healthy and legitimate score.

The somewhat obvious

  1. Borrow only what you can afford to repay
  2. Make all of your payments on time
  3. Avoid excessive requests or inquiries for credit
  4. Have an emergency account to pay for unexpected expenses
  5. Check your report annually to contest and remove any erroneous information

The not so obvious

  1. Do not open new store credit cards just to save on a purchase. New accounts can lower your score, and too many payments can be difficult to manage. Saving 10% on a $300 lawn mower means little if it costs you even just fractionally more on a $300,000 home loan.
  2. Do not open new accounts just to transfer balances for an introductory rate. In addition to possibly lowering your score, these offers often have traps. Instead, use them to leverage a lower rate from your existing card company.
  3. Do not close old accounts. If you have a good record of payments on old accounts, these will benefit your score. Using them occasionally and conservatively will keep them active and contribute toward a good score.
  4. Do not be afraid to use credit. Without the use of credit, you will have no score, and that can be just as bad as a low one.
  5. Keep a high credit line and a low balance. Credit utilization ratios measure this relationship, and lower is better.
  6. Maintain a variety of account types. A combination of revolving, installment and secured financing along with excellent records of payment will yield a higher score. Still, don’t run out and open an account just to have diversity, as this is the least influential factor.

As always, contact me if you have questions about credit or a home mortgage.