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U.S. Pending Home Sales Rose 4.6% in January

by Amy McLeod Group


WASHINGTON—The number of existing homes that went under contract in the U.S. rose strongly in January, a sign of improvement for the housing market at the start of the year.

An index measuring pending home sales—a gauge of purchases before they become final—rose 4.6% to a seasonally adjusted reading of 103.2 in January, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

 
 
 

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted a 0.8% increase in January’s sales. The index was down 2.3% in January from a year earlier.

December’s reading was revised slightly lower, to 98.7 from an initial 99.0.

Pending sales offer a forecast of the housing market because they measure purchases at the time a contract is signed rather than at closing. Contracts typically take weeks to become final, and some are ultimately canceled.

“A change in Federal Reserve policy and the reopening of the government were very beneficial to the market,” said Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist.

He added that rising incomes, a strong labor market and steady mortgage rates should help January’s positive trend to continue.

Still, the NAR reported earlier this month that its more closely watched index—final sales of existing homes, which measure purchases after closing—fell in January.

News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, also operates Realtor.com under license from the National Association of Realtors.

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com for all your Real Estate needs! 

By: Realtor.com,  

The Home Appraisal Process: What to Expect as a Buyer

by Amy McLeod Group


The home appraisal process is just a formality when buying real estate, right? You've found the house you love and put in a good offer, and it was accepted! It's time to break out the Dom Pérignon White Gold? Sorry, not yet.

If you've applied for a mortgage, your home-to-be still has to undergo a comprehensive appraisal of its worth—and an unfavorable home appraisal can kill a real estate deal. Yikes! It can be a nerve-racking ordeal, but it's actually good for you. Allow us to demystify the process.

Appraisals estimate a home's value with fresh eyes

Just because you and the sellers have agreed on a price doesn't mean it's a done deal—your lender needs to be on board, too. After all, it's the lender's real estate investment as well. To get a mortgage, you'll need a home appraisal because the home serves as collateral for your lender. If for some reason you end up unable to make your mortgage payments, the lender will have to foreclose on your home, then sell the property to recoup its costs. So your mortgage lender will have to know the value of your home before handing over that large chunk of change.

While the home appraisal process is somewhat similar to getting comps—as you did to determine a fair price—the appraiser delves in deeper to determine the home's exact value.

An appraiser will investigate the condition, the square footage, location, and any additions or renovations. From there, he or she will appraise the home and determine its value.

An appraiser is trained to be unbiased, says Adam Wiener, founder of Aladdin Appraisal in Auburndale, MA.

“I don't care what anybody wants the home to be worth," he says. “As an appraiser, I'll give you the answer. You may not like it, but it's the answer."

Off-site, the appraiser may also evaluate the current real estate market in the neighborhood to help determine the value of the property.

Usually, the lender or financing organization will hire the appraiser. Because it's in the best interest of the lender to get a good home appraisal, the lender will have a list of reputable pros to appraise the home.

Whoever takes out the mortgage pays for the home appraisal, unless the contract specifies otherwise. Then the buyer pays the fee in the closing costs. If a seller is motivated, he may pay for the home appraisal himself to back his asking price, which benefits the buyer by reducing closing costs.

You'll get a copy of the home appraisal, too

An appraiser sets out to determine if the home is actually worth what you're planning to pay. You might be surprised by how little time that takes; the appraiser could be in and out of a home in 30 minutes, and that's not a reason to panic.

An appraiser doesn't have the same job as a home inspector, who examines every little detail. While they'll pay particular attention to problems with the foundation and roof, the home appraisal process includes noting the quality and condition of the appliances, plumbing, flooring, and electrical system. With data in hand, they make their final assessment and give their report to the lender. The mortgage company is then required by law to give a copy of the appraisal to you.

Appraisers work for your lender—not you

As the buyer, you'll be paying for the home appraisal. In most cases, the fee is wrapped into your closing costs and will set you back $300 to $400. However, just because you pay doesn't mean you're the client.

“My client is the lender, not the buyer," Wiener says. This ensures that appraisers remain ethical—in fact, it's a crime to coerce or put any pressure on an appraiser to hit a certain value. Appraisers must remain independent.

“Anything less, and public trust in the appraisal is lost," says Wiener.

They protect buyers from a bad deal

In essence, the home appraisal process is meant to protect you (and the lender) from a bad purchase. For instance: If the appraisal comes in higher than your asking price, it's generally fine. Sure, the sellers could decide they want more money and would rather put their home back on the market; but in most cases, the deal will go through as expected.

If your appraisal comes in lower than what you offered, this is where things get tricky: Your lender won't pony up more money than the appraised price. So if you and the sellers agree on $125,000 but the appraisal comes in at $105,000, it creates a $20,000 shortfall. What's a buyer to do? Read on.

A curveball appraisal isn't necessarily the end

If the appraisal process happens, your appraisal comes in low, and your contract with the seller was contingent on an appraisal, you could walk away and have your earnest money returned.

If you prefer to buy the home anyway (or waived your appraisal contingency), there are some other paths you can pursue:

  • Come up with the cash to cover the difference between the appraisal and offer price.
  • Ask the seller to cover the difference.
  • Challenge the appraisal, and pay for a second opinion.

Keep in mind, though, that your new report could come out identical. Also keep in mind that if you do choose to walk away, that's actually good news, although it may not seem like it at the time. Why? Because the appraisal kept you from paying too much for your home.

Once your appraisal is done, you're still not ready to close without another nerve-racking step called a home inspection.

Let's get together and find your dream home! Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com. 

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe 

Exploring Salem Oregon: Rustic Roots Vintage Market

by Amy McLeod Group


Friday, February 22, 2019 - February 23, 2019

Come and check out the first ever Rustic Roots Vintage Market put on by Ammie’s Attic.  You will find all things shabby, farmhouse, rustic, and vintage inspired.  $5 admission.

Polk County Fairgrounds
520 S Pacific Hwy West
Rickreall, OR 97371

541-990-8571

Event Website

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

Photo Credit: travelsalem.com

What Is Escrow? How It Keeps Home Buyers and Sellers Safe

by Amy McLeod Group


What is escrow? In real estate, an escrow account is a secure holding area where important items (e.g., the earnest money check and contracts) are kept safe by an escrow company until the deal is closed and the house officially changes hands.

Escrow is also a contractual arrangement in which a third party—usually the escrow officer—maintains money and documents until the deal is done.

How escrow works

The escrow agent is a third party—perhaps someone from the real estate closing company, an attorney, or a title company agent (customs vary by state), says Andy Prasky, a real estate professional with Re/Max Advantage Plus in Twin Cities.

The third party is there to make sure everything during the transaction proceeds smoothly, including the transfers of money and documents. Escrow protects all the relevant parties in a real estate transaction by ensuring that no funds from your lender and property change hands until all conditions in the agreement have been met.

Along the way, proper documentation is filed with the escrow agent or the escrow company as each step toward closing is completed. Contingencies that might be part of the process could include home inspectionrepairs, and other tasks that need to be accomplished by the buyer or seller. And every time one of those steps is completed, the buyer or seller signs off with a contingency release form; then the transaction moves on to the next step (and one step closer to closing).

Once all conditions are met and the transaction is finalized, the money due to the sellers is transferred from your lender to them. Meanwhile an escrow officer clears (or records) the title, which means the buyer officially owns the home.

How much does escrow cost?

That varies—as well as whether the buyer or seller (or both) pays—with the fee for this real estate service typically totaling about 1% to 2% of the cost of the home.

The earnest money deposit

Earnest money—also known as an escrow deposit—is a dollar amount buyers put into an escrow account after a seller accepts their offer. The escrow company will hold onto that money for the duration of the transaction.

Another way to think of earnest money is as a "good-faith” deposit into an escrow account that will compensate the seller if the buyer breaches the contract and fails to close.

Can you borrow earnest money from your lender?

Earnest money can be borrowed from your lender, but there are certain rules involved. First-time buyers are most likely to need to go to their lender for their earnest money. Your lender will ultimately count your earnest money as part of the down payment on the house.

What is an escrow account?

When you make your monthly payment to your lender, part of it goes toward your mortgage and part of it goes into your escrow account for property taxes and insurance premiums such as homeowners insurance or mortgage insurance. When those bills are due, your lender will use the funds in your escrow account to pay them.

How escrow protects you

Escrow may seem like a pain, but here's how it can work in your favor. Let's say, for example, the buyer had a home inspection contingency and discovered that the roof needed repairs. The seller agrees to fix the roof. However, during the buyer's final walk-through, she finds that the roof hasn’t been repaired as expected. In this case, the seller won’t see a dime of the buyer’s money until the roof is fixed. Talk about a nice safeguard!

Sellers benefit from escrow, too: Let's say the buyers get cold feet at the last minute and bail on the transaction. This may be disappointing to the seller, but at the very least, buyers have typically ponied up a sizable chunk of change for their earnest money deposit. This money, often totaling 1% to 2% of the purchase price of a home, has been held in escrow. When buyers back out with no legitimate reason, they forfeit that money to the seller—a decent consolation for the sale's failure.

Escrow, in other words, is the equivalent of bumpers on cars, keeping everyone safe as they move forward in a real estate transaction. Odds are, no one's trying to swindle anyone. But isn't it nice to know that if something does go wrong, escrow is there to cushion the blow?

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Cathie Ericson

Yankee Doodle! We Salute 9 Homes From America's Revolutionary Era

by Amy McLeod Group


American history is alive in the buildings that our forefathers—and mothers—left behind. To honor Presidents Day, we're highlighting nine homes built before and during the 
Revolutionary War.

Neoclassical, Georgian, and European inspiration was evident in the architectural preferences of the period. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the homes of well-heeled revolutionaries were ornate and generously adorned with symbols of patriotism and pride in their newly established country. The Colonial style matured and developed as the influences from Europe were reinterpreted and translated into a distinctly American style.

 
 
 

So as we ponder our past, peruse these historic homes from the Revolutionary War era that are available for sale right now, offering an opportunity to live in a piece of American history that even George Washington himself would approve of.

287 King St, Hiram ME 

Price: $399,000
John Watson House: This historic property, also known as the Intervale Farm, is the oldest in this town in southern Maine. The three-bedroom home sits on more than 27 acres, on land that includes a stretch of Saco River waterfront. Built just after the 
Revolutionary War ended, its Georgian style is pristine. There are symmetrical wings jutting out from the main structure and 18 prominent Palladian windows. The home has been carefully updated to provide modern conveniences, without sacrificing any of its historic charm.

Hiram, ME
Hiram, ME

realtor.com

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131 S. Benson Rd, Fairfield, CT 

Price: $749,900

Benson House: According to the listing details, the original home built on this property had the dubious distinction of being the second to be burned down by the British during the war. It was rebuilt in 1779, and has since served as a tavern and as the home of Captain Abraham Benson. The four-bedroom house has been in the same family since the 1800s, and sits on just under half an acre, festooned with lilacs, wisteria, a rock garden, and a pergola with stone columns. Indoors, the home features high ceilings, wide plank floors, and many ornate built-ins.

Fairfield, CT
Fairfield, CT

realtor.com

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697 Middle Rd, Portsmouth, RI

Price: $679,900
Portsmouth Colonial: Built in 1750, this three-bedroom home has many modern amenities spread over its more than 2,800 square feet. Indoors, the home has wide pumpkin pine floors, four fireplaces, and the home's original wainscoting and chair rails. Outside, the mature landscaping includes specimen trees, lawns, gardens, and a stone terrace. The price also includes a half-acre lot zoned for new construction.

Portsmouth, RI
Portsmouth, RI

realtor.com

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212 Bellvale Lakes Rd., Warwick, NY

Warwick, NY
Warwick, NY

realtor.com

Price: $595,000
New England Antique: This home has oodles of historic character, as well as updates that make it desirable to today's buyers. Located just 50 miles outside New York City, it's set on 5 acres of rolling grass and forest. The home consists of two separate structures joined together to create one large six-bedroom residence. Features from the part of the residence built in 1766 include huge fireplaces for cooking, hand-hewn stone mantels, wood beams, and irregular plank floors.

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1650 Lake Rd, Panton, VT

Price: $319,000
Lakeside Cape: Described as a "diamond in the rough," this three-bedroom Cape Cod has its own dairy barn. It was built in the late 1700s, overlooks Lake Champlain, and sits on 7.5 pristine acres in the Adirondacks. Wood floors with hand-forged nails, exposed beams, and hand-planed paneling make this home, which is registered with the Preservation Trust of Vermont, an authentic blast from the past.

Panton, VA
Panton, VT

realtor.com

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525 Lewis Ln, Ambler, PA

Price: $7,999,000
George Washington's HQ: Dawesfield is a 22-acre estate dating back to 1736. The property includes a couple of three-story stone Colonial homes, three barns, several detached garages and sheds, a greenhouse, guesthouse, a three-hole 
golf course, and pool. The property's two homes were used by George Washington as his headquarters during the Revolutionary War. One seven-bedroom house has more than 5,800 square feet and the other five-bedroom home offers over 5,000 square feet. Included in the sale are historical documents and the bed George Washington slept in during his time there.

Ambler, PA
Ambler, PA

realtor.com

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201 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 

Price: $2,250,000
The Big House: Built in 1738, "The Big House" is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest in the area. The English Manor-style home was the location of a meeting between George Washington and General Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. On another occasion, Martha Washington visited the home. The four-bedroom home includes such period features as white pine paneling, period cabinetry, wide board floors, and a 
kitchen wing that is billed as potentially dating back to 1685.

Palisades, NY
Palisades, NY

realtor.com

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215 Orange St, Lancaster, PA 

Price: $1,100,000
James Buchanan Home: Built in 1709 by James Buchanan, who was to become the 15th president of the United States, this property later became the home of the Revolutionary War-era writer Christopher Marshall. These days, it's an upscale, modern residence with such upgrades as the custom red rose 
cabinets in the kitchen, a soaking tub in the main bathroom, and a professionally designed and landscaped courtyard with slate patio. The home's other high-tech upgrades include a sensor snowmelt system installed in the driveway and sidewalks, a security gate with camera, surround sound on the first floor, keyless locking, and more. Pretty presidential, if you ask us!

Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA

realtor.com

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28 Colonial Rd, White Plains, NY 

Price: $1,435,000
Notable Colonial: Notable for its past and present, this home from 1710 is a fully renovated love letter to centuries past. Featured in the December 2018 edition of House Beautiful, it was once the home of the 
Revolutionary War hero Benjamin Lyon, who cast a vote for the Declaration of Independence. Original features of the home have been carefully preserved, like the wide king's board wood floors, exposed wood beams, period moldings, and bricks from the 18th century. Infrastructure updates have brought this beautiful property into the 21st century and make it a cozy, stylish space for modern living.

White Plains, NY
White Plains, NY

realtor.com
 

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Becky Bracken

Exploring Salem Oregon: Oregon’s 160th Birthday Celebration

by Amy McLeod Group


Saturday, February 16, 2019 - 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Come celebrate Oregon’s 160th birthday this Saturday!  There will be costumed interpreters, covered wagons, blacksmithing, native cultures, the Oregon Pioneer, children’s activities, and free birthday cake!  Learn about the history of this beautiful state and celebrate the day it entered the union.

Free parking on weekends!

Oregon State Capitol
900 Court St. NE
Salem, OR 97301

503-986-1388

Event Website

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

Photo Credit: travelsalem.com

Happy Valentine's Day!

by Amy McLeod Group

5 Things Every First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Know

by Amy McLeod Group


Here's what every first-time home buyer needs to know to dive into house hunting with confidence—and with as few curveballs as possible. Whether it's getting a mortgage, choosing a real estate agent, shopping for a home, or making a down payment, we lay out the must-knows of buying for the first time below.

1. How much home you can afford as a first-time home buyer

Homes cost a bundle, so odds are you'll need a home loan, aka mortgage, to foot the bill, along with a hefty down payment. Still, the question remains: What price home can you really afford? That depends on your income and other variables, so punch your info into realtor.com®'s home affordability calculator to get a ballpark figure of the type of loan you can manage.

In general, experts recommend that your house payment (which will include your mortgage, maintenance, taxes) should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income. So, for example, if your monthly (before-tax) income is $6,000, multiply that by 0.28 and you'll see that you shouldn't pay more than $1,680 a month on your home mortgage.

But online mortgage calculators give just a ballpark figure. For a more accurate assessment, head to a lender for mortgage pre-approval. This means the bank will assess your credit history, credit score, and other factors, then tell you whether you qualify for a loan, and how much you qualify for. Mortgage pre-approval also puts home sellers at ease, since they know you have the cash for a loan to back up your offer.

You can also decide if you're going to apply for a loan through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

"An FHA loan is a great option for a lot of home buyers, particularly if they're buying their first home," says Todd Sheinin, mortgage lender and chief operating officer at New America Financial in Gaithersburg, MD.

An FHA loan will have looser qualification requirements than a traditional mortgage, but there are still certain prerequisites borrowers must meet like getting private mortgage insurance and having a minimum credit score of 500.

2. Pick the right real estate agent

You buy most things yourself—at most, sifting through a few online reviews before hitting the Buy button and making a payment. But a home? It's not quite so easy. Buying a home requires transfer of a deed, title search, and plenty of other paperwork. Plus there's the home itself—it may look great to you, but what if there's a termite problem inside those walls or a nuclear waste plant being built down the block?

There's also a whole lot of money involved. (You know, a down payment, loan, etc.)

All of which is to say, before you make a massive payment, you will want to have a trusted real estate agent by your side to explain the ins and outs of the process. Make sure to find an agent familiar with the area where you're planning on purchasing; to her credit, the agent will have a better idea of proper expectations and realistic prices, says Mark Moffatt, an agent with McEnearney Associates in McLean, VA.

"Finding a Realtor is not hard, but finding one that is best suited for you and your purchase is a challenge," he adds.

You can search on realtor.com/realestateagents to find agents in your area as well as information such as the number of homes sold, client reviews, and more. Make sure to interview at least a couple of agents, because once you commit, you will sign a contract barring you from working with other buyer's agents—this ensures the agent's hard work for you pays off.

3. Know there is no such thing as a perfect home

It's your first home—we understand if you've dreamed about the ideal house and don't want to settle for anything less. We've been there! But understand that real estate is about compromise. As a general rule, most buyers prioritize three main things: price, size, and location. But realistically, you can expect to achieve only two of those three things. So you may get a great deal on a huge house, but it might not be in the best neighborhood. Or you may find a nice-size house in a great neighborhood, but your down payment is a bit higher than you were hoping for. Or else you may find a home in the right neighborhood at the right price, but it's a tiny bit, um, cozy.

Such trade-offs are par for the course. Finding a home is a lot like dating: "Perfect" can be the enemy of "good," or even "great." So find something you can live with, grow into, and renovate to your taste.

4. Do your homework

Once you find a home you love and make an offer that's accepted, you may be eager to move in. But don't be hasty. Don't purchase a home or make any payments without doing your due diligence, and add some contingencies to your contract—which basically means you have the right to back out of the deal if something goes horribly wrong.

The most common contract contingency is the home inspection, which allows you to request a resolution for issues (e.g., a weak foundation or leaky roof) found by a professional.

Another important first-time home buyer addition: a financing contingency, which gives you the right to back out if the bank doesn't approve your loan. If they believe you'll have trouble making a payment, a mortgage lender will not approve your loan. A pre-approval makes the possibility of having your loan application rejected much less likely, but a pre-approval is also not a guarantee that it'll go through.

You also might want to consider an appraisal contingency, which lets you bail if the entity who is giving you a loan values the home at less than what you offered. This will mean you will have to come up with money from your own pocket to make up the difference—a tough gamble if cash is already tight.

5. Know your tax credit options

The first-time home buyer tax credit may be no more, but there are a number of tax breaks new homeowners may not be aware of. The biggie: Mortgage interest deduction is a boon for brand-new mortgages, which are typically interest-heavy. If you purchased discount points for your mortgage, essentially pre-paying your interest, these are also deductible. Some states and municipalities may offer mortgage credit certification, which allows first-time home buyers to claim a tax credit for some of the mortgage interest paid. Check with your Realtor and local government to see if this credit applies to you.

The McLeod Group Network can help you find your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe

What Is a Good Credit Score to Buy a House?

by Amy McLeod Group


If you're hoping to buy a home, one number you'll want to get to know well is your credit score. Also called a credit rating or FICO score (named after the company that created it, the Fair Isaac Corporation), this three-digit number is a numerical representation of your credit report, which outlines your history of paying off debts.

Why does your credit score matter? Because when you apply for a mortgage to buy a home, lenders want some reassurance a borrower will repay them later! One way they assess this is to check your creditworthiness by scrutinizing your credit report and score carefully. A high FICO rating proves you have reliably paid off past debts, whether they're from a credit card or college loan. (Insurance companies also use more targeted, industry-specific FICO credit scores to gauge whom they should insure.)

In short, this score matters. It can help you qualify for a home, a car loan, and so much more. Which brings us to an important question: What type of score is best to buy a house?

Inside your credit score: How does it stack up?

A credit score can range from 300 to 850, with 850 being a perfect credit score. While each creditor might have subtle differences in what they deem a good or great score, in general an excellent credit score is anything from 750 to 850. A good credit score is from 700 to 749; a fair credit score, 650 to 699. A credit score lower than 650 is deemed poor, meaning your credit history has had some rough patches.

While FICO score requirements will vary from lender to lender, generally a good or excellent credit score means you'll have little trouble if you hope to score a home loan. Lenders will want the business of home buyers with good credit, and may try to entice them to sign on with them by offering loans with the lowest interest rates, says Richard Redmond at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.”

Since a lower credit score means a borrower has had some late payments or other dings on their credit report, a lender may see this consumer as more likely to default on their home loan. All that said, a low credit score doesn't necessarily mean you can't score a loan, but it may be tough. They may still give you a mortgage, but it may be a subprime loan with a higher interest rate, says Bill Hardekopf, a credit expert at LowCards.com.

How a score is calculated

Credit scores are calculated by three major U.S. credit bureaus: ExperianEquifax, and TransUnion. All three credit-reporting agency scores should be roughly similar, although each pulls from slightly different sources. For instance, Experian looks at rent payments. TransUnion checks out your employment history. These reports are extremely detailed—for instance, if you paid a car loan bill late five years ago, an Experian report can pinpoint the exact month that happened. By and large, here are the main variables that the credit bureaus use to determine a consumer credit score, and to what degree:

  • Payment history (35%): This is whether you've made debt payments on time. If you’ve never missed a payment, a 30-day delinquency can cause as much as a 90- to 110-point drop in your score.
  • Debt-to-credit utilization (30%): This is how much debt a consumer has accumulated on their credit card accounts, divided by the credit limit on the sum of those accounts. Ratios above 30% work against you. So if you have a total credit limit of $5,000, you will want to be in debt no more than $1,500 when you apply for a home loan.
  • Length of credit history (15%): It’s beneficial for a consumer to have a track record of being a responsible credit user. A longer payment history boosts your score. Those without a long-enough credit history to build a good score can consider alternate credit-scoring methods like the VantageScore. VantageScore can reportedly establish a credit score in as little as one month; whereas FICO requires about six months of credit history instead.
  • Credit mix (10%): Your credit score ticks up if you have a rich combination of different types of credit card accounts, such as credit cards, retail store credit cards, installment loans, and a previous or current home loan.
  • New credit accounts (10%): Research shows that opening several new credit card accounts within a short period of time represents greater risk to the lender, according to myFICO, so avoid applying for new credit cards if you're about to buy a home. Also, each time you open a new credit line, the average length of your credit history decreases (further hurting your credit score).

How to check your credit score

So now that you know exactly what's considered a good credit rating, how can you find out your own credit score? You can get a free credit score online at CreditKarma.com. You can also check with your credit card company, since some (like Discover and Capital One) offer a free credit score as well as credit reports so you can conduct your own credit check.

Another way to check what's on your credit report—including credit problems that are dragging down your credit score—is to get your free copy at AnnualCreditReport.com. Each credit-reporting agency (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) may also provide credit reports and scores, but these may often entail a fee. Plus, you should know that a credit report or score from any one of these bureaus may be detailed, but may not be considered as complete as those by FICO, since FICO compiles data from all three credit bureaus in one comprehensive credit report.

Even if you're fairly sure you've never made a late payment, 1 in 4 Americans finds errors on their credit file, according to a 2013 Federal Trade Commission survey. Errors are common because creditors make mistakes reporting customer slip-ups. For example, although you may have never missed a payment, someone with the same name as you did—and your bank recorded the error on your account by accident.

If you discover errors, you can remove them from your credit report by contacting Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion with proof that the information was incorrect. From there, they will remove these flaws from your report, which will later be reflected in your score by FICO. Or, even if your credit report does not contain errors, if it's not as great as you'd hoped, you can raise your credit score. Just keep in mind, regardless of whatever credit-scoring model you use, you can't improve a credit score overnight, which is why you should check your credit score annually—long before you get the itch to score a home.

The McLeod Group Network can help you find your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Daniel Bortz 

Exploring Salem Oregon: West Salem Jazz Fest 2019

by Amy McLeod Group


Saturday, February 9, 2019 - 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM

Join us for the West Salem Jazz Fest!  Sixty bands from forty Oregon and Washington middle and high schools will jam on three stages for adjudication and awards. Guest artist is renowned trombonist Wycliffe Gordon!

West Salem High School
1776 Titan Dr. NW
Salem, OR 97304

503-381-0603

Event Website

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

Photo Credit: travelsalem.com

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Contact Information

Photo of The McLeod Group Network Real Estate
The McLeod Group Network
Keller Williams Capital City
1900 Hines St SE #220
Salem OR 97302
971-208-5093
Fax: 971-599-5229

**Disclaimer: Amy McLeod, and her team, do not initiate, process, or service mortgages.  And provide this information only as a service.  You should confirm information here with your Licensed Mortgage Lender.