The Credit Scores You Need to Buy a Home

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Mortgage lenders check your credit history before approving a home-buying loan. Your credit scores are crucial to getting the amount you want to borrow at a good interest rate.

Your income vs. your debt, your payment history, the length of time you’ve had credit, new credit you’ve opened, and the types of credit you owe (such as student loans or consumer debt) are all calculated in a valuation system known as credit or FICO scores.

FICO scores range from 300 to 850, but because mortgage loans are so large and have such a long payback period, most lenders require scores between 520 to 700 and above, depending on the type of loan.

“Conforming” loans are guaranteed by the federal government, including FHA or VAloans. They require a minimum score of 500 to 520 and any scores lower than 580 will increase the minimum down- payment required to 10%. If you’re married or have a co-borrower, their scores must meet the same requirements.  All FHA loans require private mortgage insurance, which reduces the amount you can borrow.

“Conventional” loans are federally sponsored by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to be packaged into securities bundles and sold on the secondary market. Lenders can manage risk by requiring scores of 700 and above, using loan-level price adjustments, based on loan-to-value ratios and credit scores.

For any loan, the larger your down- payment, the lower your credit score can be. Credit scores also impact interest rates. The better the score, the better the rate.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

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Decorating with Red

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Red is the go-to color for drama, but it’s also a preferred color for hospitality. You can literally “roll out the red carpet” to make visitors feel welcome to your home.

From joy (paint the town red) to love (my love is like a red, red rose) to bravery (red badge of courage), red suggests celebration, passion and power. Use red when you want a room to be filled with energy and spirit. Red stimulates conversation and activity, making it a great choice for living and dining areas, bedrooms and kitchens.

Red can be soft as well as bold, depending on the shade, intensity, and percentage of red you decide to use in your decor. Red ranges from light pink to deep burgundy.  Reds and golds are opulent, while red with black is sophisticated. Reds can also be casual, as in country or coastal décor.

How much red should you include in your decorating scheme? The closer the hue is to primary red, the brighter it will be, and the more it will draw attention. Reds play well with neutral greys, taupes, beiges, blues and browns.

To see the true impact of red, grab fabric and paint samples to see how various shades of red interact with other colors. Brown-reds, burgundy-reds, and orange-reds add spice and earthiness to your décor.

Whichever red you choose, have fun with it. Paint an accent wall with red, or buy throw pillows and afghans in red. It can be a warm, happy color.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Life With An HOA

If you’re buying a home in a community with a homeowners association (HOA), there are some things you need to know. The community provides you with shared amenities and services like front yard maintenance and security patrols. The HOA board collects a monthly or annual fee to maintain those amenities, protect the integrity and safety of the community and to enhance property values for the homeowners.

The main benefit of life with an HOA is that you can enjoy the amenities you want without having to pay for them by yourself. But, shared benefits means that your dues are used for two things –property maintenance and improvements and for building reserves. This can include future expenses like swimming pool resurfacing or unexpected expenses like fallen tree removal. It also means that the HOA may have some rules you may not like, such as no yard signs or flags on holidays.

That’s why you need to see the governing documents of the HOA, including the CC&Rs, – covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These are the rules of esthetics, conduct, maintenance, and security the homeowners voted to have, such as how many pets you can own or whether you can park your car on the street.

Keep in mind that HOA boards are composed of volunteer homeowners like yourself and that they’re not property managers. HOAs typically hire third-party property managers so board members can enjoy the community, too.

You can then make the decision whether this particular community is right for you.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

It’s Okay to Buy and Sell Around the Holidays

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Once upon a time, real estate was thought to slow down as the new year approached, giving way to hot cocoa and flurries of snow. These days, we know better, and when winter comes around, it’s also the time to buy or sell your house. So, grab your mug, sit down by a fire and find out why now is the season of homes for the holidays:

1. Twinkling with holiday lights, your house will shine bright to eager buyers looking for their perfect home.

2. Temperature isn’t the only thing dropping this winter; mortgage rates are near historic lows.

3. Homes are new beginnings for buyers and sellers. When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, sellers will want to start fresh and buyers will want to be all settled into their new home.

4. Tax benefits are the ultimate holiday gifts for both buyers and sellers who close before the end of the year. (See your tax advisor for more details and the best advice to take advantage of a transaction that takes place before December 31.)

5.Serious buyers are out. Your home won’t be subject to casual window shoppers, (they’re too busy at the mall or on their computer searching for holiday gifts).

6. Buyers have extra time off from work, which means more hours in their day to search for a home.

7. January is typically the month when employees are transferred to new positions. To capture these buyers, your home must be on the market now because they often can’t wait until spring.

Contact us to learn more! Or, print this information to share with a friend.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Outdoor Lighting for Safety and Beauty

Landscape lighting is one of the best ways to make your home safer and more appealing. You can highlight your home’s best features and light the way to your entry for guests, all while eliminating dark hiding spots for unwelcome visitors.

  • Step back from your home so you can see the whole house and yard in daylight and at night.
  • Do you have elegant brickwork, bay windows or a verandah to showcase?
  • Are there fountains, pools or other features you’d like to show at night?
  • Is your home beautifully landscaped? Are there trees or plantings you’d like to shower with attention?
  • How well-lit are your doors, pathways, steps and parking from the street?

One benefit of pathway lighting is that it can radiate several feet. You can install solar-powered walkway lamps that are attractive and affordable.

Spot lights can be put low on the ground or high on a wall, or they can hang from the eaves of your home to focus on specific features. Each light provides unique shadows and can bring architectural and landscaping features center stage.

On the ground, install flood lights that shoot light up against your home, bushes or trees. Motion detectors can flood the area with light which discourages pests.

Outdoor lighting can make your home more attractive at night, but it can also make your home more attractive to future homebuyers, as a beauty and safety feature. And that’s always a good investment.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

How to handle the holidays

The holidays are here and you’re in the middle of trying to sell your home. Your family is still expecting a big holiday season, so how are you going to sell your home while you do all the extra shopping, cooking, decorating and entertaining?

Remember: No one should expect you to take on so much, so it’s OK to handle what you can and delegate or eliminate what you don’t want to do.

Here’s how you can use the holidays to your advantage:

Decorate just a dot. Put out a few family favorites to show how lovely your home can be for the holidays but box up the remaining decorations for the movers. If you get an offer on your home, you’ll only have a few festive things to take down and pack up.

Delegate the dinner. Someone else can host the big family dinner while you bring a dish instead. You’ll have more time for decluttering and packing and keeping your home tidy for showings.

Dash to a destination. This is the year to take the kids to see their grandparents, go on a ski vacation, or head to the beach for the holidays. Have fun and leave the home selling to your BHHS KC Realty agent.

As you strive to keep everyone happy during the holiday season, take time for yourself, too. Your only job should be to make showings easy for professionals to sell your home. It’s a bonus if you’ve made the holidays easier for your family, too.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Features That Make a Home Cozy

There’s something wonderful about winter, even if you live in a warm climate. Like bears in hibernation, we tend to slow down, stay home and relax more often in cooler weather.

If you’re shopping for a home or recently purchased a home, these are the best features your new home can offer to help you enjoy cooler weather.

Fireplaces: Whether you have a gas, electric or wood-burning fireplace, or a firepit in the backyard, watching the flames is a great way to relax, listen to music, or cuddle under your favorite blanket with a purring cat or fluffy dog by your side.

Built-ins: Bookshelves, china hutches, and window seats may seem like yesteryear, but they also add utility and character to your home. They can be updated with newer finishes but the quality of built-in woods and craftsmanship can rarely be matched today.

Sitting areas: A reading nook or a small conversation area can be intimate, comfy and charming. Make it a no-electronics zone for books, sketching or needle arts.

Hardwoods and rugs: Hardwood floors are warm, elegant and highly in demand. To soften the sound and protect the beauty of floors in highly trafficked areas, choose hand-knotted wool or silk rugs. They stand the test of time and you can move them around for a change.  

Lighting: Adjustable lighting, from three-way bulbs to lamps with arms to dimmer switches, can make relaxing more personal and comfortable. Think of all lighting as task-oriented to choose the right fixture and bulb for your needs.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!