Great Read If Your Interested In Your “Credit Score”

1. “You may never know your real score.”

Roughly 200 million consumers have a FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850 and is used by most lenders to determine whether to approve them for financing and at what terms. This score is based solely on the information in consumers’ credit reports. While consumers can check their generic FICO score, which weighs how well they have been managing their credit, it’s unlikely they’ll ever know the exact score a lender sees when they apply for credit.


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Home Prices Rebound

Home prices are back to 2003 levels in the latest sign of an improved housing market.


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — In another sign of a turnaround in the long-battered real estate market, average home prices rebounded in July to the same level as they were nine years ago.

According to the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index, which covers more than 80% of the housing market in the United States, the typical home price in July rose 1.6% compared to the previous month.

It marked the third straight month that prices in all 20 major markets followed by the index improved, and it would have been the fourth straight month of improvement across the full spectrum if not for a slight decline in Detroit in April.

The index was up 1.2% compared to a year earlier, an improvement from the year-over-year change reported for June. While home prices have been showing a sequential change in recent months, it wasn’t until June that prices were higher than a year earlier.

The July reading matched levels last seen in summer 2003, when the market was rising toward its peak in 2006. The collapse of the market after that led to the financial crisis of 2008.

“The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing,” said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Single-family housing starts are well ahead of last year’s pace, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing.”

Record low mortgage rates and a tighter supply of homes available for sale have helped to lift home prices. Lower unemployment also has helped with home prices, although job growth in recent months has been slower than hoped.

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve announced it would buy $40 billion in mortgage bonds a month for the foreseeable future. This third round of asset purchases by the central bank, popularly known as QE3, is its effort to jump start the economy through even lower home loan rates.

Homes for sale

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Don’t Stop Believing

Sure, a picture of a baby boy rocking out to “Don’t Stop Believing” on a pair of ultra gigantic headphones gives your tummy a tickle, but let’s look a little deeper.

Is this not the universal message that most of us drill into the impressionable minds of young children?
Don’t Stop Believing that you can succeed; that you can make a difference. Don’t stop believing in the innate good of the human soul; in the idea that the future will out shine any darkness from the past.
So, at what point then did we cease to believe in these same ideas of a future of kisses warmed by the sun, smiles and laughter etched on mental tapestries and a world of endless possibilities?  When did you stop believing in a life without the bitter taste of anger, apathy and anguish?
Perhaps it was the loss of a great love, or maybe the fact that you have yet to find one. Maybe it was the pressure of being perfect in school or maybe being the kid who no one seemed to notice. Whatever it is, what has happened to our belief system? Furthermore, why do many of us attempt to drown those hopes and dreams of todays youth?

Deep down, in the basement of our subconscious, there has to be a little toddler gleefully singing “Don’t Stop Believing”. That spark of hope and desire that we feel is what keeps us striving for better — it is that flickering ember that ignites the passion for life with which we are all born.

Don’t You Ever Stop Believing In YOURSELF!

10 Important Things To Consider When Getting A Mortgage Or Home Equity Loan

Finding the best home loan is not a job to be taken lightly. Here are 10 very important tips to consider before, during, and after the loan.

Looking For The Right Home Loan For You

  1. Mortgages are not commodities. If you think “it’s all about the rate”, you are going to be disappointed from the start. It’s really about finding a trusted partner help you navigate a complex transaction by offering honest advice and responsive support throughout the entire loan process.
  2. Online is not the place to transact your biggest liability. Buy a music player, bid on sports equipment, order some books, but don’t do a mortgage over the internet. There are too many variables that arise throughout the process. This is not to say you should exclude the internet in your rate search, as there are reputable sites on the net which will help you find rates, calculate your potential loan, and provide other helpful information. I’m suggesting you shouldn’t work with an internet-only firm for your mortgage.
  3. There are two types of mortgage lenders who advertise on the web and on the newspaper rate table: Ones you’ve heard of and ones you haven’t. Why do the major, well-known lenders generally quote higher rates? It could be they have higher cost structures. It could also be they are more reputable and provide a lot more service.
  4. Generally, avoid interest-only loans. Unless you plan to move in a short period of time, or the loan is a short-term “bridge” or construction loan, avoid the “interest-only” loan. If you are only paying interest, you do not build up any ownership or equity in your home.
  5. Are the fees reasonable?. Find out exactly what the loan will cost you. While some fees might not be avoidable, know that many fees are unnecessary “junk fees” or negotiable. Be sure to get a good faith estimate statement which shows your total expected fees. Some companies will include all the fees in the interest rate they quote you. Here are some fees to ask about:
    1. Application fee
    2. Points (if you pay points, make sure your interest rate is reduced. A rule-of-thumb is to generally avoid paying any points if you plan to live in your home less than ten years)
    3. Credit Evaluation
    4. Loan Processing (these fees can be pretty arbitrary)
    5. Appraisal Fee (cost to estimate the value of your home)
    6. Title Search
    7. Title Insurance (you have to pay to protect the lender. Always make sure the Title Insurance specifically protects you as well. It’s normal to pay more to protect your interests)
    8. Documentation (these fees can be pretty arbitrary)
    9. Underwriting (these fees can be pretty arbitrary)
    10. Escrow Fee
    11. Prepayment Penalty (the fee paid if you pay off your loan early)
    12. The following fees are almost always “junk fees”: amortization schedule fee, trustee fee, financing statement fee, appraisal review fee, credit report review fee, document preparation fee, inspection fee, photo inspection fee, underwriting fee, warehousing fee, administrative fee, computer fee, courier fee, and overly high notary fees

    When you ask about your interest rate, also ask about the APY (or Annual Percentage Rate) which is usually higher and a more accurate reflection of your true interest rate.

  6. Generally, avoid adjustable rate loans. Adjustable rates can be attractive because the advertised rate is lower than a fixed rate. They generally allow you four payment options:
    1. minimum payment (NEVER make only a minimum payment. It won’t even cover the interest on your loan and can quickly lead to a situation where your home is worth less than your loan)
    2. “interest only” payment (also not recommended. No money is going to pay down the loan or create home equity)
    3. a fully amortized 15-year loan
    4. a fully amortized 30-year loan

    The later two are similar to traditional loans, except that your interest rate is adjustable.

    Here are three reasons to consider an adjustable rate:

    1. IF you know for certain interest rates can’t go up from current levels
    2. the loan ceiling on the adjustable rate is below the current fixed rates
    3. you plan to sell your home prior to the first rate adjustment

    Here are five questions to ask about your potential ARM rate: Adjustable rate loans often start with a “teaser rate”. This is an artificially low rate which will get adjusted higher at the first adjustment opportunity. If you do consider an adjustable rate, be sure to ask:

    1. what is the rate based upon (often a current T-bill or LIBOR rate plus an additional amount). Get complete details
    2. what would be the rate today if you already had the loan and it adjusted to current levels
    3. what is the floor (how low can the rate go from here)
    4. what is the ceiling (what is the highest rate you would have to pay)
    5. how often can the rate adjust.

    Be sure you fully understand each of these parameters, and get them in writing. Note: if you can’t afford the loan ceiling and the fully amortized payment at that level, don’t accept the loan.

  7. Looking For The Right Home Loan For You

    1. The mortgage industry is unregulated. Mortgage brokers are not banks and don’t play by the same rules. There are countless stories of “bait and switch” with people being promised one thing and ending up with another at the closing table. You do not have to accept any last minute changes. While inconvenient, just walk away. (They are betting you won’t). Lets say you have found the rate and lender with which you wish to work. Here are twelve warning signs telling you to walk away from the loan. Any one is enough for you to terminate the loan right then and there.
      1. if the loan rep encourages you to borrow more than you need — walk away!
      2. if the loan rep prods you to overstate your income or understate your outstanding loans or expenses — walk away!
      3. if the loan rep tries to get you to agree to payments that you can’t afford — walk away!
      4. if the loan rep asks you to sign blank forms — walk away!
      5. if the loan rep won’t give you copies of every document you signed — walk away!
      6. if the loan rep fails to give you mandated disclosure documents — walk away!
      7. if the rep appears to pressure you — walk away!
      8. if the rep is unresponsive to your calls, is disorganized, repeatedly asks for the same documents, or is constantly blaming others for delays — walk away!
      9. if they try to sell you credit insurance or extra products you don’t want — walk away. (If you actually want the credit insurance, shop around to get the best rate)!
      10. if they try to make you do something that is against your better judgment — walk away!
      11. if they require you to deed your property to anyone — walk away!
      12. if the loan rep changes any of the terms of the loan at closing — run, don’t walk! Be aware that the further in the process you get — the more momentum builds — the tougher it is to back out. Dishonest lenders know this and are counting on it.
    2. Generally, see if you can avoid paying for mortgage insurance. Some loans require mortgage insurance. Others will waive the insurance if you have a low enough debt-to-home equity ratio when you take out your loan. Most mortgage insurance protects the lender, not you.
      Don’t Lose Your Home

      1. NEVER make the just the minimum loan payment. In less than two years you could find yourself owing more than your home is worth. Always pay at least the full interest payment, and it’s best to make a regular payment which includes both principal and interest.
      2. Always make your full payment each month, pay on time, and pay more towards principal if you can.

      Find Out Who Holds The Mortgage Loan On Your Home

      Start by asking your mortgage servicer, who may or may not hold your loan. To find your servicer: check your loan closing documents, monthly billing slip, or annual statement. The servicer is your mortgage company. If this is a dead end,

5 Reasons Renters Lie

five common renter lies

There is a reason you invest so much effort vetting your renters. Your property is valuable and expensive to maintain, so you need to ensure the people inhabiting it are going to treat it respectfully, follow your rules, and pay for it punctually. But if they don’t answer you truthfully when asked, you have a lot at stake figuring out the falsities, so profiling the reasons renters lie can be a helpful tool in strategizing how to spot deceit. Here are some common reasons renters would bend or break the truth:

They want the apartment: Sometimes a prospective tenant sees your property and falls face first in love with the place. They are blinded by their desire and they will say anything that they think you want to hear. Or, if you own or manage a property in a hot market, most prospective tenants will tell you anything you want to hear. Period. It will be especially important to uncover the information you require without relying exclusively on the renter’s word.

They think they won’t get caught: Smoking, for example, is a habit no property manager is ever excited to hear about, so if you ask a renter if she’s a smoker, the answer is going to be “no”. But the renter really considers how often this would be checked, and a well-intentioned liar envisions all the ways she could smoke by windows or vents, despite your objections.

They think the matter at hand actually doesn’t matter: Let’s say you have a strict no-pets policy. Perhaps your tenant thinks his cat is so clean that he is an exception to the rule. It’s the perfect crime, but he actually doesn’t think it’s a crime at all, even if you expressly said so.

They think they can deal with it later: Take delaying the payment of rent. A tenant might give you a plausible reason they can’t pay now, but believe they will be able to cover it later. The tenant could tell you this month involved a big medical expenditure for a sick child out of pocket, but the reality might be a lot less wholesome. Figuring next month’s paycheck will cover both payments, they fib to stall you.

They think it won’t matter by the time they get caught: Ever discovered a reference was fake after your tenant already moved in? Or had more tenants than you bargained for living in spaces not designated as bedrooms? These are only two examples of problems that might arise after you have the tenant already living in your apartment. At this point they know the cost to you to kick them out and start again. They hedge their bets that by the time you wise up, you’ll be too busy to deal with kicking them out. Or maybe they suppose by that time you’ll change your mind about the stipulation and let it slide.

They are a scammer: We live in the real world, so there are those renters that will tie you up in court for years to avoid payment, or those who will disappear in the night after damaging your property and stealing from your assets. Most renters will not be lifetime criminals, but not everyone is Ward and June Cleaver, so this possibility should be in your mind as you protect yourself.

Real Estate as an Investment

Prices are still low, but certainly trending upward here in Orlando. Interest rates are also at historic lows, but also trending upward. With 13 months in a row of year over year increases in the median price, more folks are betting the Orlando real estate market is on the mend. Some of you may be thinking this is a good time to buy property here as an investment, but you may not be sure of the best way to evaluate your options.

I am going to try to make it simple, by using bonds as an analogy from the investment world. If you have invested in bonds in the past you know there are investment grade bonds usually rated Bbb or higher, and there are junk bonds. Investment grade bonds usually have a lower return, but offer better security in terms of preservation and eventual return of capital. Junk bonds offer a higher return, but carry a somewhat greater risk of default. The same in true in real estate investing.

If you are more concerned about preserving your capital investment, look for homes in solid areas with good locations. You will have more competition from home buyers in these areas, and will likely pay a higher price resulting in a lower return. However, when you are ready to sell, you will more likely receive a return of your investment. If return is more important to you, look at multi-family, mobile homes, apartments or houses in less desirable areas. Rents will be lower, but prices will also be much lower on these types of properties. You should expect a much higher potential return. You may have more headaches with these properties in the form of turn over, repairs and evictions, but you should still be able to net a higher return on your initial investment.

The return you receive on your investment or capitalization rate “cap rate” is how you should evaluate real estate investment options. Do not try to evaluate real estate investments based upon potential appreciation if you are buying to hold. If appreciation is your primary method of evaluating real estate investments, then you should stick to short term investing. This type of investing is often referred to as flipping. It really relies on arbitrage, and your ability to find and secure properties at a price below the market. The people that consistently make money at this often re-sell to other investors purchasing for the income stream or novice investors who try to turn around and flip the house to someone else. If you do not know what you are doing, you could end up being that novice investor stuck with a property that you cannot re-sell for a profit. If you are going to get into this, you absolutely must know what the market value of the property is. I try to keep these short, but I hope this is helpful. Happy investing.

If your absolulety ready to invest or want to know more information please feel free to call me personally @407-695-7653 Bill Ucci. Always just a phone call away…

Bosco Verticale in Milan Will Be the World’s First Vertical Forest

Green vertical towers that integrate plant life into their facade, but unlike many of those designs,here’s one that goes beyond being a mere concept. Designed by Stefano Boeri – architect, academic and former editor of design and architecture magazine Domus – his Bosco Verticale is a towering 27-story structure, currently under construction in Milan, Italy. Once complete, the tower will be home to the world’s first vertical forest.

The Bosco Verticale is a system that optimizes, recuperates, and produces energy. Covered in plant life, the building aids in balancing the microclimate and in filtering the dust particles contained in the urban environment (Milan is one of the most polluted cities in Europe). The diversity of the plants and their characteristics produce humidity, absorb CO2 and dust particles, producing oxygen and protect the building from radiation and acoustic pollution. This not only improves the quality of living spaces, but gives way to dramatic energy savings year round.

Each apartment in the building will have a balcony planted with trees that are able to respond to the city’s weather — shade will be provided within the summer, while also filtering city pollution; and in the winter the bare trees will allow sunlight to permeate through the spaces. Plant irrigation will be supported through the filtering and reuse of the greywater produced by the building. Additionally, Aeolian and photovoltaic energy systems will further promote the tower’s self-sufficiency.

The design of the Bosco Verticale is a response to both urban sprawl and the disappearance of nature from our lives and on the landscape. The architect notes that if the units were to be constructed unstacked as stand-alone units across a single surface, the project would require 50,000 square meters of land, and 10,000 square meters of woodland. Bosco Verticale is the first offer in his proposed BioMilano, which envisions a green belt created around the city to incorporate 60 abandoned farms on the outskirts of the city to be revitalized for community use.

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