Best Ways to Boost Creditworthiness

Using credit responsibly is an integral part of personal financial health. Not only is credit a key factor in securing loans for a home, vehicle or other major purchases, landlords often look at credit before approving new renters, as well.

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“Improving and maintaining a positive credit history is important for people of all backgrounds, ages and life phases,” says Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. “A few credit missteps can set back your financial goals significantly, even years in some cases.”

To do just that, here are some greats tips on boosting your creditworthiness.

 

1. Limit the Number of Cards

People are bombarded with dazzling credit card offers, but applying for too many can negatively impact credit while also increasing the risk of deep debt.

2. Avoid Fees

Credit card companies charge fees for late payments—even when it’s just a day or two—and for exceeding card limits, even if it’s only a few dollars. Worse, exceeding limits or making late payments may trigger a higher interest rate and show up on your credit report.

3. Pay Off Balances Every Month

Many people fall into the trap of making just the minimum payment, but paying off balances ensures consumers aren’t wasting money on interest.

4. Never Get a Cash Advance

The prospect of quick cash is tempting, but advances almost always come with hefty fees and high interest.

5. Don’t Close Old Accounts…

While this may seem counterintuitive, closing a card may negatively impact your credit because it reduces credit-to-debt ratio and credit history, both major factors credit bureaus use to calculate scores.

 6. …Unless There Is a Steep Annual Fee

In this case, the benefits of closing the account may outweigh the potential effect on credit.

 7. Review Statements Each Month

It’s important to check your account statements monthly to ensure they are accurate and that you understand the terms.

8. Opt-Out of Prescreening

Minimize the temptation to open new cards by opting out of pre-screened offers at optoutprescreen.com.

9. Use the Perks

Credit cards offer perks beyond travel rewards and cash back, but many don’t know about them. Agreements spell out all of the benefits, from buyer protection and car rental discounts to extended warranties and free airport lounge access.

10. Use Cards Online

With identity theft on the rise, use credit when making purchases online. If your number is stolen, you will not be out any money while the card company investigates. With debit cards, the money may be inaccessible while the situation is being resolved.

Source: Take Charge America

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Study: Americans Are Addicted to E-mail

For many professionals, e-mail may be the best way to get in touch.

Americans are addicted to e-mail and check it constantly, according to a new study by Adobe Systems of 400 interviews with U.S. white collar workers and Adobe’s Digital Index which analyzed 17 billion visits coming from e-mail. Millennials check their e-mail more frequently than any other age group.

Overall, the study found that respondents spend 6.3 hours each weekday checking their e-mail – 3.2 hours checking work e-mail and 3.1 hours checking personal e-mail. Ninety percent of respondents say they check work e-mail outside of work and check their personal e-mail during the workday.

For many people, e-mail is the first thing they check in the morning. Thirty percent of respondents say they check their e-mail in the morning while still in bed. Here’s a breakdown of where most Americans check their e-mails:

  • Watching TV/movies (70%)
  • In bed (52%)
  • On vacation (50%)
  • On the phone (43%)
  • In the bathroom (42%)
  • Driving (18%)

But consumers do have some gripes when it comes to e-mail. Twenty-eight percent of consumers said they found it annoying when you have to scroll to read an entire e-mail and 21 percent said it was annoying to wait for images to load. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they want to see fewer e-mails and 32 percent say they want less repetitive e-mails and less annoying or intrusive ones as well.

Thirty-four respondents say they’ve had to create a new e-mail address or even switch e-mail providers due to an overwhelming amount of spam.

I understand the convenience and necessity for emailing when it comes to communication. Scanning  documents, electronic signatures and many other tasks are in the form of emailing. My only complaint is that often I request the recipient calls me to discuss the message due to the sensitive and important nature of the matter. Most disregard my request which I find unprofessional. Technology has changed and shaped the way we think, act and do business. I’m a bit old school and prefer “hands on” instead of a “click’ Source: Forbes

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The Top Home Decor Resources Online

I thought this article has some great tips and information to share regarding home decor.

There’s an overwhelming number of online resources devoted to architecture and home decor. The good news is with this wealth of information, your clients will be able to find a design site that is geared towards their specific needs.

From do-it-yourself resources on a budget, to real estate trends popping up in specific cities, to design tips aimed solely at apartment dwellers, there is truly something for everyone online.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind. Many of these home decor sites are a free-for-all of ideas, and haven’t been curated by a design expert, so they may showcase a range of options, from “brilliant to banal,” says Chicago architect Stuart Cohen of Cohen & Hacker Architects. Often it takes awhile to wade through the variety of design options to find one that’s the right fit. So how do you know which site is best for your clients?

These are our picks for the ten best architecture and design resources on the web. Be sure to share this information with your buyers and sellers so they can find the right inspiration for their home decor needs.—REALTOR® Magazine

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Court Puts More Pressure on Zillow in Move, NAR Lawsuit

A Seattle judge has ordered senior Zillow employee Curt Beardsley and an expert witness hired by Zillow to sit for additional depositions this week as a result of growing concerns regarding evidence destruction in the ongoing legal dispute between Zillow, the National Association of REALTORS®, and Move Inc., which operates realtor.com®.

The lawsuit started shortly after former realtor.com® President Errol Samuelson and Beardsley resigned from Move in March 2014. The two reportedly communicated with senior Zillow personnel for more than four months in the midst of confidential events at Move and NAR, after which both accepted positions at Zillow.  NAR and Move allege that Samuelson and Beardsley engaged in deceptive and unlawful conduct by passing highly sensitive information to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and others at Zillow using cloud-based e-mail accounts, text messages, and telephone calls on a self-described “burner phone” mobile device. The information related to a then-confidential potential transaction between Trulia and Move, as well as multiple business initiatives being undertaken by Move in support of realtor.com®.

Move and NAR have repeatedly alleged in the lawsuit that Zillow and its personnel have hidden and destroyed evidence to cover up unlawful conduct. In its decision to enter a preliminary injunction in June 2014, the Court drew “negative inferences” against Samuelson, concluding that he deleted data from electronic devices as he left Move.

Recently, it was revealed that Beardsley disposed of a number of electronic storage devices that were connected to Move computers in the days before he and Samuelson left and that file erasure programs were run on Zillow and personal computers used by Beardsley during the course of the lawsuit.

The Seattle court has ordered Beardsley to refrain from any further file deletion or discarding of potential evidence. The court is evaluating a request from Move and NAR seeking permission to have their forensic expert participate in a court-ordered forensic review of certain Zillow computers and cloud storage accounts as a result of ongoing concerns about evidence destruction by Zillow personnel, including Samuelson and Beardsley.

In a whistleblower letter received by Move and NAR in April, former Zillow Vice President Chris Crocker stated, among other allegations, that Zillow had stolen realtor.com® databases and was hiding stolen intellectual property in cloud storage accounts. A database was thereafter located and produced in the case by the defendants. The metadata from the database confirmed it was indeed created and maintained by Move but was accessed by a user identified as “Curt” before and after the date Beardsley joined Zillow in March 2014.

After the whistleblower letter was made public, Zillow countersued Move and NAR, claiming that the letter contained falsehoods as well as trade secrets and that its release hurt Zillow’s reputation and its competitive position. NAR last week filed a motion to dismiss the counterclaims, citing both Washington law and common law privilege for fair and accurate reports of judicial proceedings.

The Zillow trial is scheduled for June 2016. The parties are currently engaged in the discovery process, and NAR attorneys say they expect a decision this month on the forensic protocol. —REALTOR® Magazine

It would not be fair to point the finger to Zillow regarding alleged illegal business practices without knowing all the facts. The courts most likely will render judgment in the matter. There is a chance it will be handled out of court but the likelihood is questionable.

Realtor vs. Zillow. What I can tell you about my personal experience with Zillow is that Zillow’s data base is inaccurate and misleading in most situations. I’ve butt heads with numerous clients regarding home values, MLS listing statuses whether active, pending sale or closed and housing market facts. A realtor’s MLS is fact not fiction. MLS data is accurate and seldom incorrect. The is nothing more detrimental to the real estate industry when the client believes in Zillow rather than trust and believe in their Realtor.

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Top 6 Home Buyer Concerns

Rising home prices tops the list of home buyer concerns this year, a shift from last year when nearly half of buyers said their chief concern was the limited number of homes for-sale, according to a new survey of more than 3,500 buyers released by the real estate brokerage Redfi

In this year’s survey, nearly 27 percent of respondents cited high or rising home prices as their top concern. Another 17 percent of respondents said they were most concerned about competition from other buyers.

First-time buyers were particularly worried about rising home prices. Thirty-one percent of first-time buyers said that higher home prices were their top concern.

The survey identified the following top six home buyer concerns this year:

  1. Affordability: “Prices are rising too high” – 27%
  2. “There’s too much competition from other buyers” – 17%
  3. “There aren’t enough homes to choose from” – 14%
  4. “I need to sell a home first” – 8%
  5. “I might not have enough for a down payment” – 6%
  6. “Mortgage rates will go up before I can buy” – 5%

Last year, the top buyer concern identified was inventory, followed by home prices, competition from other buyers, rising mortgage rates, and home-shopping fatigue.

On the local front the 6 buyer concerns are not totally relevant when compared to Redding. There are reasonably stable home prices, not much buyer competition and an adequate inventory. The relevant concerns are need to sell a home first, lack of down payment $$$ and mortgage rate increase.

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