Today I had the privilege of speaking at two local elementary schools in front of about 450 children combined. What a joy to see all their smiling faces. I shared my story of how a teacher helped me find my path in life even though I didn’t believe in myself at the time.
I was a child who was convince I would never be up front, never stand out, never be a leader. And then, like being thrown into a lake to be forced to swim or die, I too found that I was more capable than I believed. I encourage each child to experiment with every opportunity that comes their way. To try music, a foreign language, sports, different foods, extra curricular activities that would stretch them, for the one purpose of choosing NEVER to limit their potential in hopes of finding their greatest joy!
I’d love to come to your churches’ children’s classes and share my story. Frankly, you won’t believe it either!
Today, agents are not simply agents. We’re counselors. We’re financial advisers and educators. We’re often therapists, renovation experts, credit repair experts, and foreclosure specialists. At various times, we are hand-holders, friends, shoulders to cry on, the bad guy at whom someone can vent. And we still have to show homes, negotiate and write contracts and close deals.
Having said this, most of what I’ve listed above is not what any agent is trained for, nor should we delve too deeply into those job descriptions. The Darmody Team knows where and who to connect you with when needing the final word on, say, investment practices, retirement, or credit repair, etc. Yes, we know a lot about alot of things, but what makes us stand apart is that we really care about you, enough not to pretend to know it all. Have I done marriage counseling in a car while driving to a showing? Yes. Do I talk about mortgages and use big words? Yes. But to really care, I send my clients to my network of people who have the same heart to serve you and your family as I have. Today’s agent should be more than a mere salesperson
The same heart for people, and skill package, that led me into pastoral ministry for 12 years, allows me to be the cartilage* that holds the process and structure of your real estate transaction together. I believe in my heart of hearts that I am, as well as those I’ve chosen to work with, your best choice for real estate guidance.
The real estate agent of today must be literate and wear many hats. That’s where experience helps, and having a Team gives you a broader pool of people who can help. Yes the Darmody Team can speak on many many subjects, but your future is too important for us to pretend to know everything. So, the advise I leave with you today is to find an agent with nurturing personal traits and character. Find an agent who will guide you, listen to you and truly care. The Darmody Team will not align itself with any other kind of agent.
* cartilage: firm, flexible connective tissue
When you’re thinking about selling your home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the details. Should you paint the front door? How about changing out that fixture in the dining room? Do you need to redo the floors or will a good deep cleaning be enough? So many questions, so many tasks that you suddenly feel are each the most important thing that must be done right away. Anyone who has ever staged a home for sale, however, will tell you that the number one thing that you should do to get your home ready — before you start tearing out carpet or painting doors — is to make it feel light, bright and airy.
Buyers Are Always Looking for More Light
Instinctively, there’s a part of every person that wants more light, more light. It’s the same reason that people suffer from things like seasonal affective disorder: we need more light in our lives. Light also makes your home feel bigger when compared to other houses with the same basic square footage, so it’s sort of a win-win here. Too many sellers overlook this simple notion, instead opting to choose trendy colors to try to appeal to buyers. They paint their dining rooms a dark scarlet, or choose lighting that isn’t nearly bright enough, creating a home that’s more cave-like than house-like. These same sellers wonder why they can’t find a buyer for their enclave, as potential after potential comes in for a look and immediately runs for the door. But you’re not one of these sellers. You’ve come to the right place for some tips to make your home more appealing by bringing in more light, both real and artificial. These simple tricks can make a huge difference to your home’s first impression.
Let’s Let in the Light!
There are three kinds of light you need to be aware of when you’re looking to brighten your home: the natural light that comes from windows, doors and skylights, the artificial light that comes from your light fixtures and that light that’s bouncing off the walls and around the room. Natural light is simple to harness, just:
* Clean your windows until they sparkle. Even those fine layers of dust and dirt can block light transmission, making your home feel dark and dreary.
* Remove heavy drapes. If you must have curtains, opt for sheers or lace panels. Sheers will still set off the windows like a heavy drape, but let most of the light from outside come inside.
* Leave every window blind open once your house is on the market. This is a huge mistake a lot of sellers make. Instead of leaving their windows open so that the first thing a potential buyer sees when they walk through the door is a bright and beautiful home, they close the blinds for fear that people will look into their home since it’s for sale. Artificial light isn’t too tough to get a handle on when you:
* Clean the globes on all your light fixtures. The glass globes on ceiling lights and those glass shades on your ceiling fans can be run through the dishwasher on the top rack. They’ll come out clean as a whistle and able to let more light pass through.
* Replace dim bulbs with much brighter ones. You’ll be surprised how much different your living room looks when you replace the four 40 watt bulbs in your ceiling fan with four 75 watt bulbs. You can certainly overdo this, but it’s hard in rooms of any substantial size.
* Choose blue. Replacing those orange-tinted light bulbs with full spectrum bulbs may seem like a pointless hassle, but this small modification will make your interior feel like it’s full of more of the natural light that’s coming in through the windows. More natural light is almost always better.
* Consider the room size. There are times that choosing the brightest bulb in the box is the wrong way to go. Rooms that are small or narrow, like bathrooms, may be better served with slightly less lighting. You’ll have to use your judgement on that, but keep in mind that no one wants to walk into a small space and be blinded by the artificial light inside. Light that’s bouncing around the room needs to keep bouncing, so:
* Choose brighter colors to reflect more of the ultraviolet spectrum. The more white involved, the more light it reflects, which then bounces off the other light colored walls, making the room seem big and airy. Stark white is not a great choice, it often makes a home feel too institutional, but a buttercream, barely gray or other almost-not-tinted color can really brighten up a room and get that light moving.
* Minimize dark design elements. It’s not just the walls that can absorb too much of the light in your home, making it feel like an underground bunker. The floors, ceilings and even the furniture in the room all affect how much light is moving around. Again, you don’t want to go totally white, but if you have a dark floor or your ceiling could stand to be painted, definitely make an effort there. Ceilings should be flat white for best results. * Use mirrors strategically. Mirrors were way overdone in the 1980s and have kind of fallen out of favor since. It’s unfortunate, since they’re a great way to help direct light exactly where it’s needed. When you’re confronted with a dark room that seems to have no good solutions for light, try adding a mirror. For example, a mirrored closet door in a small bedroom with a single window can have a huge impact on the room, plus it’s a handy accessory.
The Devil’s in Those Details
Before you panic about all this lighting stuff, you may want to talk to Steve’s Team about doing a quick walkthrough of your home so they can point out places where you should be focusing your efforts. Don’t worry if you don’t have the mad skills just yet, The Darmody Team will help.
If you’re in the market for a mortgage, you probably know that lenders won’t just shower you with money when you show up at their office with a smile and a heart-warming story about how you’ve found the perfect home. Nope, they want to know that if they give you a home loan, odds are good you’ll pay them back. And that’s where mortgage pre-approval comes in. Here’s everything you need to know about this crucial stage and how to ace it without a hitch.
What is mortgage pre-approval, anyway?
Mortgage pre-approval is that step in the process where a lender probes deep into your financial past, checking out your income, debts, credit score, and other factors that help it determine whether or not to give you a home loan—and how much money you stand to get. And that helps you set your sights on the right price range for a home.
“You need to know your buying power,” says Ray Rodriguez, New York City regional mortgage sales manager at TD Bank. Indeed, finding out your price range now can save you a lot of time and energy in the future.
“It’s emotionally crushing to find a home that you love and not be able to afford to purchase it,” he says.
Pre-approval vs. pre-qualification: What’s the difference?
Mortgage pre-qualification entails a basic overview of a borrower’s ability to get a loan. You provide a mortgage lender with information—about your income, assets, debts, and credit—but you don’t need to produce any paperwork to back it up. As such, pre-qualification is relatively easy and can be a fast way to get a ballpark figure of what you can afford. But it’s by no means a guarantee that you’ll actually get approved for the loan when you go to buy a home.
Getting pre-approved, in contrast, is a more in-depth process that involves a lender running a credit check and verifying your income and assets, says Rodriguez. Then an underwriter does a preliminary review of your financial portfolio and, if all goes well, issues a written commitment for financing up to a certain loan amount; this commitment is good for up to 90 or 120 days. So as long as you find your dream house and officially apply for your loan approval in that time period, you’re good to go!
Moreover, getting pre-approved is typically free, says Staci Titsworth, regional manager of PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh. Expect it to take, on average, one to three days for your application to be processed.
Why pre-approval is important
A letter of pre-approval from a mortgage lender is akin to a VIP ticket straight into a home seller’s heart. Why? It’s proof you are both willing and able to purchase the home. Consequently, many sellers will accept an offer only from a buyer who has been pre-approved, which makes sense given that without pre-approval, there’s basically no guarantee whatsoever that the deal will go through.
What documentation you need
To get pre-approved, you’ll need to provide a mortgage lender with a good amount of paperwork. For the typical home buyer, this includes the following:
- Pay stubs from the past 30 days showing your year-to-date income
- Two years of federal tax returns
- Two years of W-2 forms from your employer
- 60 days or a quarterly statement of all of your asset accounts, which include your checking and savings, as well as any investment accounts such as CDs, IRAs, and other stocks or bonds
- Any other current real estate holdings
- Residential history for the past two years, including landlord contact information if you rented
- Proof of funds for the down payment, such as a bank account statement. If the cash is a gift from your parents, “you need to provide a letter that clearly states that the money is a gift and not a loan,” says Rodriguez.
Don’t make this pre-approval mistake!
Each time you apply for a new credit account—including a home loan—you trigger a “hard inquiry” on your credit, which dings your credit score, says Bill Hardekopf, a credit expert at LowCards.com. Your score can drop as little as a few points or up to 14 points, depending on your credit history and the number of other loans or credit accounts you’ve applied for in the past 90 days, says Jeremy David Schachter, mortgage adviser and branch manager at Pinnacle Capital Mortgage in Phoenix, AZ.
Because hard inquiries hurt your credit score, you will want to avoid applying for pre-approval with multiple lenders; otherwise, your score could decline to the point where you get locked out of buying a home. Still, it’s beneficial to meet with several lenders to explore your options conversationally, since some lenders offer more competitive interest rates and better service than others.
Shopping for a home before getting preapproved for a mortgage is the equivalent of walking into a grocery store without a wallet. Yet, many homebuyers don’t get a loan preapproval before the house hunt. So, what is a preapproval? For one, a preapproval is different from a prequalification.
Preapproval: The lender verifies the borrower’s information and documentation to determine exactly how much it would be willing to lend to that borrower.
Prequalification: The lender relies on information provided by the buyer to estimate how much the borrower could qualify for.
“The documents to get preapproved are the same documents that you would need to get a mortgage,” says Jordan Roth, mortgage specialist with Guardhill Financial Corp. in Glen Rock, New Jersey.
- Pay stubs.
- Last two years’ W-2s.
- Last two federal tax returns.
- Two months’ worth of bank statements of all types of accounts.
- Your credit report.
A preapproval is not a loan commitment, but it helps speed up the underwriting and loan approval process, Roth says.
Here are three reasons it’s better to get a mortgage preapproval before you go house hunting.
No. 1: The competitive market
Buyers often are eager to start looking at homes and tend to leave what they view as the boring, bureaucratic part of the homebuying process for last, says Michael Highfield, professor of finance and head of Mississippi State University’s department of finance and economics.
“But in this competitive market, any serious buyer should pursue a preapproval from a lender in advance to beginning a home search,” he says.
No. 2: No preapproval, no accepted offer
Real estate and loan professionals say it’s common to come across buyers who skip the preapproval process.
“It happens every day,” says Patty Da Silva, a real estate agent and owner of Green Realty Properties in Davie, Florida. “I can’t believe I still get offers today without a preapproval.”
As with many other agents and sellers, Da Silva says she rejects offers from buyers who don’t have preapproval letters from their banks.
“You have to have a preapproval and it must be a real preapproval where the lender has verified not just your credit, but bank statements, tax returns — and I call the lender to verify that,” she says.
No. 3: You need to know where you stand
Some buyers put off the loan application because they fear a lender may not approve them for the amount they plan to spend to buy the house, Highfield says.
“It’s like when people don’t go to the doctor for their annual checkup when they are afraid to find out what’s wrong with them,” he says. “That’s the same thing with getting preapproved.”
Others simply don’t want to share an abundance of private information with a lender until they actually find the home they want, he says.
You are beyond compare
Even if you pay your bills on time and earn about the same as the friend who just got that $300,000 mortgage, don’t assume you qualify for the same loan.
“A credit score difference of 700 to 680 can severely affect one’s ability in terms of down payment,” Roth says.
Getting preapproved before you shop for a loan also allows buyers time to fix unexpected errors on their credit reports.