Address Credit Score Before Home Hunting

The Newsletter

Address Your Credit Score before You Start Home-Hunting
Your credit – including ensuring credit reports are correct, knowing your credit score, and acting to improve it – is among the most confusing topics related to personal finance. Yet it’s extremely important – particularly if you’re planning to buy a house, and especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Your credit score is one of the first things a lender will look at when you apply for a mortgage.

To cut through all that confusion, here are five tips you can act on right now to identify and address any problems with your credit:

  • Check your credit reports for free once a year through the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because the information in each bureau’s report can differ. If one or all reports include mistakes, your credit score may be negatively affected, and you may need to address the errors before going house-shopping.
  • Be strategic with credit card use: the percentage of your credit limit that you use every month can affect your score. Make sure your balance doesn’t come too close to your limit.
  • The simplest and most important tip? Pay off your balance each month. To maintain a healthy score, pay it off before the due date. Anything after 30 days post due date can spell very bad news for your score.
  • Be consistent: good credit behavior over the long term will keep your score high.
  • Don’t take on more credit. If you apply for several different credit cards, you’re sending a message that you may have maxed out your other accounts.

Symphony in F Flat: Ding, Click, Beep
Music

You start your car. It dings repeatedly until you fasten your seatbelt. You open the door, and you hear an alerting chime. You might have hit that deer, but your car’s collision warning alarm shrieked at you.

Did you know car manufacturers invest significantly in choosing these sounds? They’re not simply random noises added to your vehicle. According to CBS News, it’s someone’s job to find just the right tick, click, or beep for each situation. These “vehicle harmony engineers” hope to ensure the noises you associate with their vehicles enhance their brand; if you find your car’s chirps annoying, your next vehicle may be from another manufacturer.

As cars become more complex, these noise engineers have their work cut out for them. Today’s vehicles require a lot more than turn signal clicks and horn honks. Advanced safety alerts and luxury climate systems all add new pings and pongs to the musical melody of your car’s interior, and manufacturers may spend up to a year trying for the perfect sound. They even consult Hollywood sound engineers to produce these ideal jingles and jangles. So remember, the next time your car clicks, time and money went into that noise.


Eat Veggies and Meat …. The Solution: Flexitarianism
Handshake

More people, even foodies, are making a conscious effort to eat less meat. But not everyone has it in them – nor is it always easy – to be a vegetarian.

Enter flexitarianism – eating mainly, but not exclusively, as a vegetarian. Voted 2003’s most useful word by the American Dialect Society, flexitarianism offers an alternative to other, sometimes strident, anti-meat movements. The concept was also given a boost recently when Whole Foods, the well-known purveyor of healthy food, dubbed flexitarianism the top food trend of 2017.

This recent development has further fueled the popularity of a related phenomenon: Meatless Mondays. The meatless movement has roots stemming back to World War I, when North Americans were encouraged to participate in “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” in order to conserve resources and reduce consumption. These conservation efforts proved highly successful.

However, it wasn’t until 2003 that Meatless Mondays became a certified movement with a simple message: once a week, don’t eat meat. It was reintroduced as a public health awareness campaign in an effort to combat the rising number of preventable illnesses linked to excessive meat consumption. (The Meatless Monday website says the average American eats “as much as 75 more pounds of meat each year than in generations past!”) Since this reinvention, Meatless Monday has become a global mainstay for menu planners, with participants ranging from individuals to hospitals to schools and even corporate cafeterias.

Meatless Mondays are popular with families, as reducing meat consumption is as beneficial to our wallets as to our bodies. And rather than pushing back, most family members are now enthusiastic when meatless dishes are added to the weekly meal plan. Why? Online, on-air and in-restaurant chefs are constantly devising and sharing new and delicious vegetable-based recipes.

Finally, the Meatless Monday concept ties in well with other eat-healthy initiatives, including grow-your-own food, shop local, and of course, the significant trend of this year – flexitarianism.


Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?
How has the price of your home changed in today’s market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?

If you’re wondering what’s happening to prices in your area, or you’re thinking about selling your house, I’ll be able to help.

Click the market report below or select San Antonio Real Estate Market and complete the requested information about your home!


Our Future Homes: Easy Care and Open Plan
Thanks to an exhibition organized by Japanese retailer Muji, we can peek into the home of the future. And according to a recent article in Houzz, we can expect to live with new materials, adaptable spaces, and open-concept floor plans.

The exhibition, House Vision 2, introduced the ideas underlying tomorrow’s homes as seen by companies in the housing industry, architects, and designers. Ten life-sized prototypes offered insight into the way housing may go in the future. Here are a few examples:

  • “Open House with Condensed Core” was a collaboration between architect Shigeru Ban and Lixil, a Japanese building materials manufacturer. Their prototype addressed the limitations of traditional plumbing, which make layout changes difficult. In their vision, the plumbing is installed in the ceiling, making it easier to reconfigure. The house also features glass windows that can swing up and out of the way for a truly indoor-outdoor space.
  • Commissioned by Daito Trust Construction, Sou Fujimoto’s installation explored new types of multi-dwelling residences in his “Rental Space Tower.” It rearranges both private and shared spaces of a typical apartment to reduce the square footage of private zones and maximize public areas, creating new shared amenities like libraries and theater rooms.
  • Airbnb and architect Go Hasegawa teamed up on “Yoshino-sugi Cedar House,” a wooden dwelling that brings a new meaning to house-sharing. It’s part community space, part temporary residence, which is used, maintained, and operated by the community, not a private individual. On the first floor are a meeting space and communal kitchen; upstairs are bookable sleeping quarters for guests.

Finally, it seems we don’t have to bid goodbye to open-concept living just yet; open floor plans were featured in many installations. They’ll just look a little different down the road.

SA Realty Watch Group
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Should You Tackle Selling Your Home Yourself (FSBO)?
Did you know that fewer than 10% of homeowners who try to sell their homes themselves are successful?

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What flower was worth more than gold to the 17th century Dutch?


Broccoli with Chickpeas and Tahini Sauce
Serves 4
2 tablespoons coconut oil
5-6 cups bite-size broccoli florets
1 can chickpeas, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
Directions
Preheat a large frying pan over high heat.

Add coconut oil to pan. When it begins to shimmer, add the broccoli and cover immediately to sear the broccoli from the bottom and steam the top.

After 2 minutes, remove the lid and stir. Cover again and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add chickpeas and stir. Cover and cook for another minute.

When broccoli is tender, remove pan from heat and season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, whisk tahini, lemon juice, and water into a smooth sauce. Drizzle tahini sauce over the broccoli and chickpeas to serve.


Ask the Agent: This Month’s Question
I’m a first-time buyer. How do I decide how much house I can afford?

The key to purchasing your first home is understanding your finances. Preparing your budget requires more than knowing your account balances – it also means knowing what you can borrow. Meet with lenders before calling your real estate agent. Compare mortgages and ask about programs for first-time buyers.

When you find your dream home, get a home inspection before you sign. If the inspector finds costly problems and you’re facing extensive repair costs, your agent will likely recommend that during negotiations he or she ask for a reduction in the home price or other compensation from the seller.

Don’t forget other costs. Factor in the expense of commuting, if applicable. Also ask to see previous years’ utility bills so you can adjust your budget accordingly. And do consider an energy audit, which may justify the expenditure by suggesting ways of reducing your energy costs.

This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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