Posted in Buying Homes, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, home ownership, Motivation, Planning, Succeed

When Gratefulness Abounds

I had a reverse thrill at my double closing yesterday. I mean closings are always good, it’s what I work for, right? And a double closing where I have the buyers and sellers is even more amazing. However, yesterday I had a newfound “reverse” sensation at closing. I was so excited, not for myself, but for my clients. And when I came back to the office to update my closing chart, I had an even more amazing realization. Let me tell you about both that wild sensation and realization.

Yesterday I closed on a duplex with both buyers and sellers who were repeat clients. As I came back into the room to give the buyers the keys and saw their smiling faces it hit me; the great journey that they’ve been on. It was only a few years ago that I helped them purchase a couple of flip homes and re-sell them. Then they started to purchase up-scale rentals, beginning with hard money loans til they could “prove their worthiness” in the banking industry standards. They took risks and it paid off. After a few years, I had the opportunity to assist them in purchasing a warehouse because their construction company had taken on some great commercial contracts and they needed space. Now they’re a huge success on a Regional Nationwide scale. And they’re just plain great people. They always have a smile, they’re always polite and funny and have a vision for even greater things. It re-inspired me. It challenged me and it just plain made me joyful realizing the success and the journey they have been on.  

As I handed them the keys I thought, what a great story and fulfilling of an American dream. It has been a joy to be even such a small part of it. And then I thought of my sellers who have come full circle, selling off their first investment property, where they had lived so long ago and selling to be near to their beloved grandkids.

When I returned to my office with all the documents, I looked at my updated list of the 1st quarter closings. There were 13 of them, with over 2.5 million in volume. I can remember my early days in real estate that I hoped for that number for the year! But, the most amazing thing that caught my attention was that when I looked at that chart; showing the addresses, volume, dates, and where the business came from – I discovered that 12 of 13 deals were repeat clients or referrals from clients. That is an incredible thing. I had to sit down for a second and reflect on my gratefulness. What am I grateful for? You!  Somehow, somewhere, you’ve had an impact in my real estate career &/or my life. I just felt I really needed to say Thank You. I am so blessed and so excited for what is to come.

It is easy to forget our blessings in this often-crazy world. Sometimes we get in a rut. Sometimes we forget to dream bigger when we’ve achieved our goals. Sometimes we forget to extend our gratitude. So I wanted to do that today. I am grateful for you. Whether you’re a client large or small, a friend, my cheerleader, my mentor, someone who has referred me, reads my articles, or all of the above – I am grateful for you. Dream Big my friends, and don’t forget to thank those who have helped you become who you are. You are my blessing.

Posted in community, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, Home Buyers, Home Buying Tips, home ownership, Motivation, Planning, Realtor

The Most Misunderstood Loan – VA

🇺🇸 I have the utmost respect for the men & women who serve our country through any branch of the military. I am sure it is often times a thankless and misunderstood job. One of the ways our Country demonstrates its thanks in a small way, is offering our vets their own special type of home mortgage.

🇺🇸 There are some huge benefits for veterans who use their entitlement to purchase homes. However, especially in this insanely competitive world of home buying right now – the impression given to those receiving offers on their home from VA buyers are often being misled and tossing those offers to the curb.

👉 Let’s talk benefits and then cover myths about VA loans…

🇺🇸 A huge benefit for a VA buyer is that there is no required down payment. They of course can put money down if they so choose, but with the excellent interest rates VA loans have, the buyer may choose to keep their money in the bank to use for home renovations, family vacation or anything else they desire.

🇺🇸 In addition to the great interest rate and no money down, our VA buyers don’t have to pay MIP or PMI – loan insurance, which is required on all FHA loans, and on any conventional loans with less than 20% equity. That in itself, is a huge savings. Our vets can also choose to roll all of their closing costs and up to 4% concessions into the loan. So on closing day, they will have no need to walk in with a check if they have chosen this option.

🇺🇸 VA loans also have refinancing options to lower payments when interest rates are favorable. Veterans can also refinance their other home loan types into a VA loan if they had purchased previously without using their VA Entitlements. VA loans may also be assumable which can be a huge benefit in a market where the loan is a low interest rate but the current market has higher rates. Our vets also have staff who advocate for them to find alternatives to foreclosure if the need arises.

👉 What are the myths & potential disadvantages of VA loans?

🇺🇸 Two of the biggest myths I hear are that sellers believe someone using a VA 100% loan is not as strong of a buyer as someone putting 20% down on a conventional. That is simply not true. Being able to finance all of their purchase is simply a benefit, their credit worthiness has no bearing.

🇺🇸 The second myth I often hear of is that a VA loan appraiser is going to require the seller to pay for a bunch of repairs. While it is true that there are appraisal stipulations with a VA loan that aren’t there for a conventional loan; they’re simply safety measures, such as peeling paint (that could be lead-based) the lack of hand-railings going down a staircase. For a quick view of the guidelines see the link at the end of this post. The truth is, if your home is in average repair, you’re not likely to have an issue and everything is negotiable even if it came up.

🇺🇸 I do believe and have often expressed my disappointment in the appraisal structure of the VA loan; that it is a disservice to our veterans to have the additional appraisal requirements, simply because of the stigma associated with it. I understand that passing the added appraisal inspection may give a sense ofsecurity that our vets are getting a “good house”. But in reality it is costing many of our veterans the possibility of owning a home that may need a simple $250 in repairs because of the mentality and lack of education in both the sellers and often Realtors advising sellers. I would love to give our vets the opportunity to see what appraisal issues come up and have the option of being able to move forward with the loan with a post-closing resolution. For example, the vet can move forward on the purchase of a home with peeling paint around an exterior door frame and have 30 days or “when weather suitable” time period to bring it up to snuff themselves after closing and provide such documentation after the work is done.

🇺🇸 For specifics on any home loan, be sure to ask a licensed mortgage broker/loan officer. I’m happy to help you find an excellent VA lender. Every person’s situation is unique and speaking with a lender and getting a pre-approval is the best way to get all the facts.

VA LOAN BENEFITS:
Zero $ Down
No Extra Insurance Premiums
Roll in Closing Costs
Lower Interest Rates
No PrePayment Penalties
Foreclosure Advocacy*
Refinance Options*
Assumable*


DISADVANTAGES:
Perception as a weak buyer at 100% financing
Perception that there will be tons of repairs
Potential Appraisal issue if closing costs are rolled into price

👉👉https://www.benefits.va.gov/…/M26_7_Ch12_MPRs_NEW.docx

🇺🇸 Talk to a licensed VA lender for details! 📝 Getting a Pre-approval is an absolute must in this busy real estate market. If you wish to get moving, let’s find a loan officer to start pre-approving! 📞 989.475.2958

Posted in Buying Homes, community, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, Home Buying Tips, home ownership, Home Selling Tips, Planning, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw

Let’s Talk About Conventional Loans

👉 The most flexible of mortgages – the conventional mortgage can be used for all types of homes; single family, vacation, rentals, & multi-family residences and there’s no maximum loan limit. They are unique because they are not guaranteed nor insured by the Federal Government, although most lenders/mortgage brokers will conform to the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac guidelines so that they can later sell their loans to them, which frees up their funds to take on more loans. Conventional mortgages typically have lower closing costs than other loan types but do require a higher credit score from the borrower.

👉 Terms and Interest rates will vary depending on your DTI (Debt to Income) your credit score and what lender you choose. But with a conventional mortgage, you may qualify for a 3% -20% down payment and choose a 30, 20, 15, 0r 10 year term to repay your loan. Most lenders require at least a 620 credit score but you will find that as your credit score goes up, your interest rate will come down. Your DTI will also help determine how much you will get approved for.

👉 If you purchase a home using a conventional loan and your down payment is less than 20%, keep in mind you’ll be paying for Mortgage Protection Insurance (MPI) until your equity is above that 20% mark.If you’re interested in hearing more about a conventional mortgage or any other type that you may qualify for, give me a call or send me a DM and I can recommend some great local loan officers and mortgage brokers that can find the best fit for your situation.

CONVENTIONAL IN A NUTSHELL
*Lower Consumer Costs
*Most flexible terms
*not government backed
*No maximum Loan Limit
*No MPI when over 20% equity
*Usable on all types of properties
*Requires Higher Credit Score
*May be more difficult to obtain than FHA/RD
*Closes More Quickly

Getting a Pre-approval is an absolute must in this busy real estate market. If you wish to get moving, let’s find a loan officer to start pre-approving!

Posted in Buying Homes, Credit Score, Home Buyers, home ownership, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw, Uncategorized

Don’t Get Sidelined by Your Credit!

You can’t have good credit unless you have debt. Sound like an oxymoron? It always has to me, but nevertheless it is a fact.  As a Realtor, I am often in the position of raising awareness about repairing credit and even the importance of how the system works and what your current score is.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people who have a 20% down payment on hand (in their mattress) but have no credit and are shocked when they can’t get a mortgage. Then there are those who have 15 different credit cards, bankruptcies,  or repossessions, who are also amazed when they have their credit pulled and find it is rated poorly and they’re unable to secure a mortgage.

You should always know your credit score. Not only does it give you a sense of accomplishment when you see it go higher, but it will also alert you if something is happening that you’re not aware of, such as identity theft or erroneous reporting.  There are various companies online that will allow you to check your score and some credit card companies also offer it.

Just be sure you’re looking at your FICO score; as this is what the majority of lenders/creditors will be looking at.  FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation which created the system back in 1960.  In order to even have a FICO score, you have to have an account of some type, whether revolving (credit card)  or a set monthly installment (car loan) and it needs to have been reported to the credit bureau for at least six months.

People are often under the impression that paying off a card is a good way to raise your credit score – – Nope! Or that they should close an account to raise it – – No Sir! Paying down a credit card and maintaining it to around a 30% balance will raise your score more than paying it off. Also, the longer an account is open, the longer your history is and that is also advantageous.

It does not have to be a mystery. Keep in mind these simple steps:

  1. Paying your credit accounts on time has the more significant impact on your credit score.
  2. Don’t use more than 30% of your available credit on any one card – if you do, be sure to pay it down to that 30% at the end of that billing month.
  3. Don’t close out all your old accounts. Having an account open for a long period of time scores you credit score benefits.
  4. Use more than one type of credit, combining installment and revolving. Be sure you don’t get carried away. If you can’t pay it off in 30 days (revolving) you probably shouldn’t purchase it.

Most lenders require a credit score of 640 in order to purchase a home; though there are a few who have programs for scores less than that. It is pretty amazing though, because at 640 you’re only in the “Poor” rating for credit.  If you want to secure a lower interest rate on a home, increasing your credit score is a great way to do that.

A simple way to look at it is this: Bad = 550 & below/ Poor 550-649/ Fair 650-699/ Good 700-749/Excellent 750+

If you have questions about mortgages and/or credit scores, please feel free to contact me. I work with some great lenders who are willing to help you raise that credit score and create a plan specifically for you. Purchasing a house is a great investment. Don’t get sidelined because of a surprise or non-existent credit score.

 

Posted in Best Time to Sell, Buying Homes, community, Home Buyers, home ownership, Home Selling Tips, real estate, Real Estate Market Statistics, Realtor, saginaw, Selling Homes, Selling Your Home, Tips for selling your home faster

It Is NOT Too Late!

Spring, spring! It’s gotta be Spring or it’s too late! That’s what sellers often think of in regard to home sales. Reality says, it isn’t so. Sure, the highest peak months might be May and June, but looking at the graphs you will most likely be surprised that the only two really low months for closed sales are January and February.

Sales in Saginaw & Midland Counties are up in general this year (yay!) Looking at the graphic below; you can see two things. First you’ll see the difference between the 5 year average and 2016.  Most importantly if you’re thinking of selling, you will see there is not a huge drop-off. Homes are being sold EVERY month.

There is always a market for good inventory.  I would love to give you a free market analysis on your home if you’re thinking of selling or be your buyer agent for those of you looking for that new home of your dreams. Call me today! 989-475-2958!

Graph

Posted in community, home ownership, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, Uncategorized

NIGHTMARE NEIGHBOR

Is there anything worse than having a “Nightmare Neighbor”? I can think of one thing – being one! For any of you who might read my blog regularly, this topic might not seem to fit the norm of MoniqueKnowsRealEstate.com where most of my posts are topical issues about real estate stats, design ideas, & buyer or seller tips. A recent confrontation with a neighbor of my own prompted this article.

A typical Michigan Spring means anything goes. This year was no different with random snow flurries, cold temps, and a whole lot of rain. The rain played the instigator in my Nightmare Neighbor scene. My yard is just over an acre. It is quite long and narrow, with the house being situated about half the distance back.  Last year I had a professional landscaping service do my weekly lawn maintenance. This year however, because my college daughter was going to be home and the fact I have 4 investment properties to maintain – I thought it would be a perfect time to get a rider and give my daughter a little extra cash. It so happened I had a client whose home I had for sale was moving out of the area and I purchased her mower. I brought it home, was able to get the front yard mowed, but the back was way too wet. A week passed, I had to get that back mowed! I went out to discover that my “new” used mower was broken. Ugh!! I couldn’t get anyone out right away to repair it and the landscaping company had already started their new season of routes and couldn’t fit me in.

The next weekend I took an entire Sunday off of work (which is a real rare thing) so I could spend the day mowing, weed-whacking, planting flowers and my vegetable garden. I was super excited because I love to work outdoors. I had gone to Lowe’s the previous Friday to purchase a new John Deere and it was to be delivered on Sunday. Let’s just say they had to make 3 deliveries on Sunday but I did end up with my mower.  I hopped on with a smile on my face a vroomed right out to the back yard. I made it just around the back corner when I noticed a neighbor waving his arms frantically. I thought there was an emergency so I stopped and shut the mower down.  He began screaming at me. What a disrespectful neighbor I was to have that long grass, my dandelions were blowing in his yard, my trees dropped sticks in his yard, I had a dead tree that needed to be cut… Which then escalated into “all the neighbors hate you” and a train of yells, shouts of obscenities, and criticisms which had absolutely nothing to do with the back part of my lawn being long. I was dumbfounded. I really just wanted to run, hide, and cry. Who was this person? What on earth prompted such rage? Never before in the almost 3 years I’ve lived there has my lawn been overdue for a cut – ever.

I thought about it long and hard. It was easy to decide my neighbor was a “Nightmare”. Who would get so crazy about a lawn? And why, I thought, if he had an issue – didn’t he just say something to me. Back came memories of growing up in a farming community, where when something needed to be done like a barn raising, a fencepost, or even a wedding reception – the neighbors all came! We were all friends or at least very friendly. We knew each other. I reckon if our lawn suddenly looked shabby – someone would have shown up with a casserole – on their lawnmower – dropped it off and cut the grass knowing something had to be wrong. That’s the life I grew up with.

What’s my point in sharing this story? Certainly not to trash my neighbor. I think however, that we need to remember “the old days” and apply them to today. Do you know your neighbors? You should. I imagine if I knew this neighbor a little bit better, he may have approached me that my dandelion seeds were bothering him. Or I may have known that something crazy was going on in his life that caused him to be extra stressed. Most of all though, it made me stop and think about what my neighbors might think. Just because it doesn’t bother me to have a random dandelion in my backyard doesn’t mean my neighbor doesn’t despise it. When I set my trash out on to the street on the day before trash pick-up, my neighbor might think it is horrible. When I drive my lawn tractor around the trees that are along the property line, which means the blade is facing out and it blows a bit of grass in their yard, I might think it is ok – they have a 5 acre yard after all and how else am I going to go around the tree closely? They might think it is rude. So, the crux of it all is as with many things; communication. Talk to your neighbors, ask them what they think. Find out what’s important to them, even though you might think it is ridiculous. Gee, kind of sounds like any relationship, right? And, I think a nice plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies goes a long way! Make your neighborhood a special place to be. 🙂

Thanks for reading my story – Feel free to check out my other blog posts, videos, and website for all kinds of real estate information – They’re all available on my website. http://www.homesofmidmichigan.com

 

Posted in goal setting, home ownership

ShaBoom! Goal Achieved!

Why, you might ask, is Monique – the Real Estate Matchmaker, writing a blog on her site about goals? Well, there are a few reasons and I think they’re super-uber important so I hope you’ll indulge in 2 minutes that could have a huge impact on your life. And yes, I threw that “uber” word in there just for you “Under 25” crowd. 🙂 Twice your age means I have the potential to be twice as cool, right?

…..anyway….. Here’s the thing. I have been a Realtor for 9 years. I hold 2 bachelor degrees, and have worked in Broadcasting, Sales, & Management since 1990. In the spring of 2014 I had an “encounter” that changed my life in many ways. So much so, that by January 2015 I was on the prowl for a business coach, marketing firm, and lots of answers about how to be a real estate guru. It started pretty simply, actually. A client asked me a question. He asked me if I could make him money in real estate. He entrusted me with a pretty nice sum of money. At that same luncheon, he made a statement something like, If you’re the best (and I know he truly believed I was) – why aren’t you number #1. Hmmm….

Here’s what I learned. You achieve what you expect to achieve; what you plan to achieve, and even what you believe you have already achieved. That last part sounds a little funky, I know. But, as I studied, and worked, and read, I realized that I needed to believe I was already #1. I had to act in a way that would bring my dreams into reality. But, the first step is to have that goal. You can’t achieve something that doesn’t exist! I started working – really diligently. I became goal specific. I learned systems.(Thanks, Gary) I began doing motivational talks – not just to help others, but myself too. I hired that business coach to hold me accountable, and the marketing firm to wrap it all up into a great package. I hired an assistant for the overload of tasks I knew was going to come. It was a TON of work. Learning about myself, my personality traits, strengths,weaknesses (yup, I have a few), market demographics, psycho-graphics of my audience… it went on and on – and still is.

So, I set my goals and started implementing everything. I made my goals public in my agent motivational speech. It is much more difficult to forget about a goal if no one else knows about it! One of my goals was that I wanted a new Dodge Charger. That my friends, is where this blog comes about! Last Friday, I went out and bought one. I’m super excited. and I’m loving it! Now, maybe you could care less if I have my new Charger. That’s ok. 🙂 But here’s what I think is important: A. You know I’m a person following and achieving my dreams. B. You should have a dream too!

Keep in mind that goals can change. This year I wanted my beautiful new Charger. But, that’s not to say that next year I won’t desire something else, like a new cabin, or adding exponentially to my mission work. Our reality changes and so can our goals. The point is that we need one in order to achieve one. Home ownership is a huge American dream! There are a lot of factors involved in being able to achieve that goal in itself. Maybe your dream is to have a great home and be mortgage free. Maybe it is buying up, or perhaps it has nothing to do with real estate. Take a moment today and jot down your dream. Imagine it being reality and figuring out how to get there will happen. You’ll be creative. Don’t think for a second that it isn’t tough work though. But gee…. when you hit that goal – you’ll be able to take a silly picture on the day you achieve it too! I’d love to see it!!!