Oh Experian…. It’s about more than your FICO

Have great credityou seen the Experian commercials about how a person’s great credit score virtually guarantees a low interest rate and/or line of credit? A good credit score is important. That is true. The higher the score, the greater the odds of getting a lower interest rate on loans or revolving credit lines.

What irks me about these commercials is a great credit score is not a guarantee of anything as Experian suggests; especially when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Credit is only one of the determining factors in obtaining a mortgage. Other factors include income and job longevity, the amount of debt a person carries, outstanding liens/judgments that may be looming out there, savings, a previous bankruptcy or foreclosure.

A person could have great credit but no money saved to afford the costs associated with securing a mortgage or meet a possible requirement for reserves (additional savings cushion in the event of emergency). A person with great credit could have started a new job in a different field of work than previously held or may be collecting unemployment benefits. Lenders typically like to see at least 2 years employment with the same company or within the same field of work.

Someone with great credit may be carrying a little more debt than they should per lender requirements or have a recent bankruptcy that hasn’t been discharged long enough to be able to qualify for a mortgage. Re-building credit after a bankruptcy or foreclosure does not take as long as someone may think…..However, lenders require certain time pass after a bankruptcy is discharged or a foreclosure date has passed before approving a new mortgage. These time frames can vary based on the loan product being offered or even from lender to lender. Havimortgage approvedng an 800 credit score will not negate these waiting periods.

So yes, great credit is a good thing to have. For Experian to say “getting a mortgage shouldn’t be a problem” based on a credit score alone is spreading misinformation (which there is more than enough out there already on a plethora of subjects.) As I briefly pointed out, there is a lot more for mortgage lenders to consider, and verify, than a FICO score. Why Experian has decided to imply otherwise is beyond me….

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Sugarloaf Mountain Road….A Central Florida Gem

I have a beautiful new listing on Sugarloaf Mountain Rd.  This road has some prestige IMG_6586attached to it as it is known for spectacular views, beautiful over sized properties a great place for our bicyclists to ride, and plain ole beautiful rural living that is just a hop, skip and jump to civilization –  seriously, less than 15 minutes to shopping and dining.  A new turnpike exchange coming to the area will shave a bunch of time off a trip to Orlando, the airport or the beach.

My new listing is at 20650 Sugarloaf Mountain Road, Clermont, FL 34715.  It has 4 bedrooms and 4 baths and is just over 3,000 sqaure feet under air.  The property is 7.31 acres and priced at $577,000.  This property is gorgeous to say the least….

Here’s what I said in the public remarks of MLS:    Sugarloaf Mountain Rd, one of the most scenic spots & highest elevations in Central Florida. Falling in love with this part of town is easy. Falling in love with this 7.31 acre property is even easier. Wooded views, open IMG_6550pasture, stunning design & pure beauty abound inside & out of this gorgeous home. Words cannot capture the feeling of peace & tranquility this home site gives. I will take a moment to share an abbreviated list of the finer points of this home & property which include and is in no way limited to: new roof in 2015; freshly painted/stained within the past year; dual zone a/c & tankless hot water systems; R-30 insulation in ceiling & walls; energy efficient windows; low power bills; ample outdoor spaces for relaxing including complete wrap-around porch, impressive flagstone patio w/ over-sized fire pit and hot tub ready copiously sized deck w/ summer kitchen; paved driveway w/parking pad; electricity & water hooked up throughout property & more… Property features include 50 ft. lighted round pen; barn w/ four 12’x IMG_661112′ stalls; 5 paddocks- 3 w/shelter; run to front pasture; shaving spin w/raise-able roof & concrete pad; workshop w/ full power; 2 utility sheds w/ power… This property is absolutely stunning & worth a look for anyone interested in getting away from it all without having to disconnect from the world; only 15 minutes to shopping, dining & the new turnpike exchange currently in beginning stages of construction.

If you want more info or a private tour, let me know.  I’m sure we can arrange a showing that works for your schedule.

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Why I dislike HGTV and those other guys…

As a Realtor®, I am not a big fan of coming home and watching shows like Get It Sold or House Hunters. (In fact, I had to Google real estate reality shows to share some titles.)   The last thing I want to do when I come home from a long day of showings, negotiations, inspections, etc. is sit down on my couch and watch other people “sell” real estate……I have seen shows like this a few times and what I have found has been a bit disturbing to me, and I am sure other real estate agents in the field; or as I’ll say here, living the reality.

I’ve noticed these shows distort the reality of real estate. Shocking, I know, a reality show realitythat isn’t really portraying reality. I have seen these shows imply that a real estate agent knows things like how much a new kitchen will cost or the cost of a new roof. I don’t know if this happens on a regular basis. As I said, I’ve only seen shows like this a handful of times. When I have seen them, I have seen scenarios like I mentioned where estimated costs were given by agents.

I’m not one to say, “That’s not my job.” In fact, I detest that phrase. “I am not trained for that” would be more appropriate in this case.

I am licensed to sell real estate. I have not gone to masonry school, worked as a carpenter, termite inspector, home inspector or painter. I do not know how much a new kitchen or roof would cost and neither do those agents on tv. The shows are recorded after the fact. The buyers have bought those homes prior to taping . It is all staged for the enjoyment of the viewer. Sorry to burst any bubbles here.

If someone asks me how much a new roof is I tell them I can refer them to a roofer. A new roof could cost anywhere from several thousand dollars and upward, depending on the scope/extent of the work to be performed, quality of materials, size of the house and I am sure several other factors I am not aware of. Same holds true for a new kitchen or interior or exterior repaint; costs vary.

These “reality” shows have created an expectation of some buyers that their real estate agent know everything about home repairs, updates and upgrades. Unless an agent is also a contractor with years upon years of experience in each field of construction, no one agent can accurately say what any home improvement project will cost. Also, no agent should. It is a misrepresentation and having the decency to say, “I don’t know but can point you to someone who does” is a lot more beneficial to a buyer than pulling a number out of… thin air.

As your Realtor®, I will keep my eyes open for things like polybutelene piping, a plumbing product used in the ’80s and ’90s that most insurance companies refuse to insure, or Federal Pacific electric panels, known to be a potential fire hazard and also difficult/costly to insure. Typically, these things are clearly marked and visible to the naked eye. I can generally see when a roof may be nearing the end of its life expectancy and share my experiences in the field regarding these items with my clients. Do I know what it costs to replace or repair these things? No. I do not. I am not a roofer, plumber or electrician and do not know what materials a buyer will choose for replacement.

As your Realtor® I wreality arrowill be objective and provide feedback when needed and asked for.

As your Realtor® I will work with you in determining the best price and terms for a home, help you navigate through inspections, appraisals, financing, and all the steps on the path to closing.

As your Realtor® I cannot tell you how much a freshly painted interior will cost, the source of a possible plumbing leak, or the cost of repair. That is simply beyond the scope of my knowledge.

In short, the next time you’re sitting comfortably on your couch or relaxing in your recliner and watching a real estate “reality” show, please keep in mind the bulk of reality of the show is the buyers featured purchased a home, the real estate agent helped in determining an offer price and saw them through to closing.

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Realtors riding the wave of the moment…..c’mon now.

While expanding knowledge, being well rounded and understanding and being able to operate in current market trends is crucial, I believe consistency is key. I have never been one to jump on bandwagons or ride the wave of the moment.

When the real estate market crashed, I did not chase short sales of REOs. Throughout this whole crisis, I kept my focus, as it had always been, on the traditional seller – the one who was often times neglected by their lender and the buyer who thought the deal was with the short sale or REO.  Seems those REO and short sale specialists are looking for a “new” way to butter their bread now that those markets are slowing…..

Article- Real Estate Agents Returning to Traditional Sales






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Home Buyers: How to Win in a Multiple Offer Situation.

It’s a great time to buy real estate — really.  I know the real estate world was touting that line in their marketing campaigns a couple year back as prices were plummeting and tax credits were being offered to first time home buyers.  I didn’t really buy into it then.  I truly believe it is a great time to buy now.  I’m confident we have seen the bottom of the real estate market and are well into the beginning stage of recovery.

It’s ideal to buy as prices are going up, and with interest rates hanging in the 3s, now is a great time to grab a piece of the pie.market on fire

There are challenges in purchasing in today’s market.  With inventory low and demand high, multiple offers are common place – especially in the Orlando area market.  On top of that, cash is king and as of late nearly half of all real estate sales were cash deals

What does that mean for the average buyer, dependent on financing, and ready to buy?  It means be ready to act, swiftly and with precision.  It means stay positive and keep in mind that everything happens for a reason. It is possible for a first time buyer to beat out the hedge funds, investors and others with deep pockets.  It may take a little more time and the possibility of being out bid a couple of times before securing a home exist.  (This is where staying positive and knowing everything happens for a reason comes into play.  If the winning bid wasn’t yours, then there is a reason that house was not meant to be.  I am a strong believer in this and have seen this theory proven first hand time and again.)

I have had a number of buyers beat out cash offers – strong cash offers.  It is being done, and I am about to tell you how.

First and foremost, make your first offer your strongest offer.  Agents are not required to Lisa Jones Sale Pending Orlando-001disclose whether a property has multiple offers on it.  Don’t assume yours is the only offer, and don’t assume you will be given an opportunity to negotiate.  It’s quite possible you will not be given the chance.

Often times I have seen buyers disappointed that their offer was not the winning offer.  I have heard the phrases, “I should have gone up $5000″ more times than I would like to count.  Honestly, $5000 in the grand scheme of things will not make a whole lot of difference in a mortgage payment (maybe $20- $30).  It could make the difference between an offer being accepted or rejected.  Knowing you gave your all should provide comfort if your bid is not the winning bid.  This was you know you gave your best and don’t keep yourself awake at night wondering “what if” or “would’ve should’ve could’ve.”

Strongest offers also include things like strong escrow.  Your good faith deposit needs to be attractive.  (1-2% of the purchase price is customary in the Orlando area market).  Putting $500 or $1000 down on a $100,000 purchase does not say “I am a serious buyer” to a seller.  Putting $3000-$5000 down speaks a little louder.  (Keep in mind this good faith deposit, your escrow, will be applied to your down payment and closing costs.  It is all going towards your cost to purchase anyway.)

Strongest offers also include things like reasonable closing times.  If the house is vacant, the seller will likely want to close as soon as possible.  If it is a short sale, you have a better chance of the offer being accepted if you agree to wait for short sale approval for an extended period of time, say 100-120 days instead of the customary 60-90.  If the house is occupied and it is a traditional sale, try to find out how much time the seller would like to close.  If you aren’t able but notice there is a lot of stuff in the house, giving 60 days to close 16019 arrowheadcould make the difference since the idea of packing up an entire household in 15-30 days could be a little nerve racking for a seller.  Not everyone likes the idea of a quick close.  Tailor your closing date accordingly.

Strongest offers also include few contingencies or short contingency time lines.  When writing an offer, the less you ask for, the more attractive your offer is.  Get inspections out of the way in 7-10 days.  Do not ask for a Home Warranty just because you can.  Do not ask for the seller to contribute to your closing costs if you don’t need the help.  If you do need the help, don’t ask for more than is necessary.   Keep it simple, keep it clean.

Another way for buyers needing financing to find success in today’s market is to seek out homes where owner-occupants have the first right to purchase.  Being able to cut a big chunk of the competition out of the game is definitely a plus.  Homes with First Look Initiatives and Neighborhood Stabilization Programs (NSP) give owner-occupants (not investors) the first right to purchase within a certain time frame – usually the first week or 2 the property is on the market.  Often times, these homes are in good shape and move in ready.  Granted there will likely still be competition; not nearly as much at there would be if investors were able to bid.

Lisa Jones Realtor at Keller Williams Sells HomesLastly, be prepared to pay a little more than market value.  I would never counsel a client to pay an outrageous amount over market value.  Sometimes the need arises to pay a couple/few thousand more than appraised value.  If you love the house and have the ability to do it, do it.  Often times paying a little more now is worth the time and expense of having to start all over again in the home search (including paying for home inspections and appraisal.)

Allow yourself some wiggle room as well.  If you are qualified up to $150,000, you may want to limit your search to properties up to $130,000 to start.  This could give you the cushion you need to have a little more offering power.

In conclusion, multiple offers can be challenging.  Patience is required.  Having the ability to act fast when the right home is found is crucial.   He who hesitates often times loses in this market.  Be ready to act.  Get qualified with a lender before you look at houses.  Know your budget, keep it in mind.  Do not stretch yourself beyond your limits but be prepared to stretch for the right house.

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Legends Golf & Country Club in Clermont, FL

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9850 Sandy Pines Road in Clermont, FL

Manufactured home built in 2006 on 5 acres with 4 pastures, horse barn and more ready for new owners. Property is in a green belt and backs up to conservation so there will never be any rear neighbors.

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