What Affects Your Credit Score | Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

What you don’t know can hurt you. Here’s how.

Imagine this: Two years ago, Emily moved into a new apartment downtown. A few days later, the cable company called saying that she’d never paid her last cable bill at her old place. Emily insisted that she had. After weeks of fighting with the cable company, she gave up. She thought, I don’t need to resolve the dispute, it’s not worth it.

Emily moved on. But when she recently looked into buying her first apartment, the incident came rushing back. That cable bill had been sent to collections and landed on her credit report as a delinquency. A delinquency will have a negative impact on your credit score.

While Emily’s story is fictional, the point of this story is very real: While many people understand what a credit score is and why it matters to lenders, most people are still susceptible to the vast amount of unclear credit score information that’s out there. To avoid frustrating (and financially damaging) situations in your future, let’s look at some common misconceptions and see what there is to learn about what affects your credit score.

Fiction No. 1: Only big debts can affect your credit score.


Left unchallenged or unresolved, most negative information may stay on your credit report for up to seven years and impact your credit— even a small payment dispute. And unfortunately, a lower credit score usually means higher interest rates on big purchases, like a home.

The Good News

If an error appears on your credit report, you can contact the credit reporting agency and the company that provided the information to the agency to request that it be fixed. You should be sure to communicate any credit report errors in writing, so you have a record of correspondence in case questions come up later.

Fiction No. 2: The more money you make, the better your credit score.


Income is not a factor in your credit score. In fact, in Emily’s scenario, the unpaid cable bill is likely to be more significant than any salary increase she may receive. That’s because a credit report focuses on your past payment history and current outstanding debts, not how much money you earn.

The Good News

Regardless of your income, one way you can maintain a good credit score is by managing your credit utilization ratio, which is how much of your available credit you are using on a credit card. Responsible credit utilization is important – the general rule of thumb is to keep that ratio low and not maintain a balance over 30 percent of your credit limit on any card.

Fiction No.3: Your credit score is a static number.


Actually, you can simultaneously have several different credit scores, and your credit score can change frequently. Each credit reporting agency has its own list of credit factors and its own formula for calculating scores. In Emily’s story, the number didn’t only change when the delinquency hit her credit report. In the years following, her score would also fluctuate based on her growing credit history, payment history, and delinquencies (or lack thereof).

The Good News

The law requires each of the credit reporting agencies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report each year if you request it. And despite common belief, you can check your credit report without lowering your score.

Fiction No. 4: Checking loan rates with a lender or looking at your credit report will hurt your credit score.


There are two types of inquiries into your credit report, a hard inquiry and a soft inquiry. A hard inquiry occurs when a lender checks your credit because you submit an application for a loan or credit card. This type of inquiry appears on your credit report and can affect your credit score. When you check your own credit report or loan rates on a lender’s site it’s called a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries do not appear on your credit report and do not impact your credit score.

The Good News

Not all hard inquiries are created equal. Most credit scores are not affected by multiple inquiries from auto or mortgage companies. The credit reporting agencies typically see these inquiries as single events – they understand consumers may be shopping for a home loan or a new car. However, applying for several credit cards in a short period of time will appear on your credit report as multiple inquiries and could affect your credit score

The more you know about the factors that can affect your credit score, the better decisions you can make to keep your finances – and your credit history – on track.

Fiction No. 5: Only active or current debts affect your credit score.


As Emily experienced, your credit report contains negative information about your credit and payment history for both open and closed accounts – as far back as 10 years.

The Good News

Positive information about active and open accounts in good standing can stay on your credit report – and positively influence your credit scores forever. Unfortunately, negative information for both open and closed accounts can stay on your credit report and affect your overall credit score for seven years (and 10 years for bankruptcies). It’s a good idea to check your credit reports to ensure that negative information has been removed within the appropriate time period – and ask for a correction if you discover that it hasn’t.

Fiction No. 6: Simply speaking to a credit counselor can negatively affect your credit score.


Speaking with, and getting advice from, a credit counselor does not impact your credit score.

The Good News

A credit counselor can help you learn about budgeting and managing your finances, including advice for getting control of your debt and responsibly using credit cards. Participation in classes or counseling sessions will not affect your credit report. If your credit counseling leads to a debt being repaid through a debt management plan, with the credit counseling agency negotiating lower interest rates or reduced payments, that information could indeed be included on your credit report, where lenders will see it. Be aware, however, if the lender treats the debt as settled instead of paid in full, your credit score can be negatively affected. But the good news is getting advice and simple counseling can help you improve your financial situation without affecting your credit scores.

Fiction No. 7: Your marital status, race or age can affect your credit score.


The most widely used credit score, the FICO score, does not consider certain personal information in creating your credit score. This includes but is not limited to your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age and where you live.

The Good News

U.S. law prohibits credit discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status or whether one receives public assistance. Remember, your credit score is intended to be a predictor of creditworthiness and financial health – not a commentary on your life or identity.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.

Source: What Affects Your Credit Score | Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

December Infographics

Things are looking up for the Real Estate Market through 2018!

November Market Infographic

October Stats for Phoenix Market

5 Smells That Sell Houses

It matters! Appeal to homebuyers’ sense of smell with these tips.

What’s that smell? The sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses to connect buyers to a home. While a bad smell can really deter buyers, a good smell can tempt buyers to a sale. From “green” scents to seasonal scents, discover the right smells for triggering positive emotions and home sales.

  1. Clean Smell
    Most of us associate “clean” with strongly scented cleaning products and disinfectants. It can even make buyers nostalgic. But remember, a little goes a long way. You should dilute your cleaning solutions so buyers don’t get overwhelmed.
  1. Citrus
    Using actual fruit is one way to get a clean smell without all the cleaning products. Lemon, orange and grapefruit scents are best. One great tip is to grind up lemon or orange rind with a few ice cubes in the garbage disposal. This will freshen up the kitchen, one of the most important rooms in the house.
  1. Natural Smell
    Sometimes the best scent is no scent at all. Try using “green” cleaning supplies, baking soda and other non-scented products that neutralize odors. The idea is that simpler is better, so you want to avoid complex, artificial smells from potpourri, sprays and plug-ins, which can actually distract buyers and turn them off.
  1. Baked Goods
    Nothing can make a house smell more like home than freshly baked goods, but be sure to stick to simple smells like vanilla, cinnamon and fresh bread. You don’t have to really bake anything. One trick is to boil some water and throw in a few cinnamon sticks an hour before a showing.
  1. Pine
    Don’t we all love that fresh pine scent? Especially with the holidays around the corner, it’s a great scent to greet buyers when they walk in the door. If you don’t want to put up a live tree, you can simply hang a wreath of tree trimmings or some fresh garland. You can’t go wrong with setting a holiday mood to inspire a sale.

There’s a lot that goes into the sale of a home. Make sure a great smell is at the top of the list. And to increase its value even more, add an American Home Shield® Home Warranty to every transaction.

For more articles like this, please visit the American Home Shield Blog at ahs.com/home-matters.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

Source: 5 Smells That Sell Houses

5 Questions to Ask Before Moving Into a 55+ Community

  1. What amenities does it have? And do those amenities meet my needs and interests? If the community boasts tennis courts and everyone plays in the weekly league but you don’t even own a racquet, it may not be right for you. Look for amenities that correlate with your hobbies such as an indoor or outdoor swimming pool, fitness center or fitness classes, walking paths or clubhouse. I can tell you if these perks are included in your common fees or you have to pay extra for them. And I’ll help you find a community that offers physical or social activities matching your interests.
  2. Does it make sense for me financially? Remember that it makes financial sense to pay for what you will use. So if you’ll take advantage of say, the fitness center, you’re likely getting a good deal. But if you have no interest in golf and your community boasts sprawling greens, it may not be right for you (unless you like a pretty view or you’re interested in the golf course to boost your home’s resale value). Also consider if buying a home here would be in line with your financial goals. If your mortgage will be so high that you can’t take that annual trip to Europe you desire, then you may need to find a more affordable community.
  3. How are the community’s finances? You want a community in good financial standing. Find out if the community has a lot of foreclosed units or how many residents aren’t paying their dues or mortgages on time. Check if there have been any recent assessments or if they have a reserve fund for emergencies. Look at the grounds and buildings to see if see if any major renovations, such as a new roof for a clubhouse, have been put on hold. I can help you find out these answers by getting and helping you understand past financial statements, budgets, condo or Home Owners Association documents and the minutes from any meetings.
  4. Are there any age restrictions? Maybe you have young grandchildren who spend summer weekends with you. But if they can’t use the pool, you will have some sad faces. Or what if your daughter wants to move in with you after college graduation so she can save for her own apartment. I can find out the community’s rules on having an adult child live with you.
  5. What rules will you need follow? I’ll tell you what kind of rules and restrictions you’ll have to abide by. You may have to paint your home’s exterior a certain color or landscape a certain way. Maybe you can’t have pets or are restricted on the number of pets you can have or how much the pet weighs. I’ll find out all this information for you so you aren’t taken by surprise.

Source: Albert Clark’s November 06, 2017 Newsletter

Should I Sell My Home Now or Wait Until the Spring? | RISMedia\’s Housecall

There’s no doubt that the spring market is a great time to be selling real estate, but the fall and winter seasons may be the best fit for you.

There are many questions homeowners ask themselves during the selling process. “How much will my home sell for?”  “How much should I list my home for?”  “Who should I select as a real estate agent to sell my home?”  “What if the real estate agent overprices my home?”  Last but not least, “Is this a good time to be selling a home?” is also a very common question that real estate agents are asked.

As with every decision in life, there are pros and cons, and choosing when to sell a home is no different. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before deciding when to sell a home. Many homeowners believe selling a home during the fall or winter months is not a good idea and that the spring is the only time a house should be sold. This is the furthest from the truth. Certainly most real estate markets across the United States experience a “spring market rush” every year. There is no doubt that the “spring market” is a great time to be selling and buying real estate, however, the fall and winter seasons may be the best fit for you for many reasons.

Here are several reasons why choosing to sell your home now may be a better decision than waiting until the spring:

Less Competition
One way that you can tell the spring real estate market has arrived is by driving down a street in your local community. In all likelihood there will be For Sale signs up all over the neighborhood! One great reason to sell your home now and not wait until the spring market is there is sure to be less competition.  The fewer number of comparable homes for sale, the greater the probability that a buyer will look at your home.

Simply put, it’s the supply and demand theory. If there are less homes for sale, there are less homes that a potential buyer can choose from, therefore increasing the demand for your home. Not only will less competition increase the probability for showings, but it will also increase the probability that an offer will be received and you will get the maximum amount of money for your home.

Serious Buyers Are Out There
Homes are sold and bought 365 days a year, period!  Many homeowners believe that buyers aren’t out there during the fall and winter months. This simply is not the case. Serious buyers are always out there!  Some buyers may stop their home search because it is the fall or winter, but serious buyers will continue to look at homes, no matter what time of year it is.

The fall and winter months are also a great time for a potential buyer to see what a specific neighborhood is like.  Do your neighbors have pumpkins on their front step?  Are there lots of Trick-or-Treaters wandering the neighborhood on Halloween?  Do any of your neighbors have any light displays for the holidays?  There are buyers out there who will look at these types of things when determining whether your home is in the right neighborhood for them or not.

The Best Agents Are Always Up To The Challenge
Any real estate agent who tells you that the fall or winter months are a bad time to sell is not someone you want selling your home! A great real estate agent will know how to adapt to the current season and market their listings to reflect that.  A great real estate agent can make suggestions and give some of their tips on how to sell a home during the fall or winter seasons. If a real estate agent doesn’t have any suggestions on making your home more desirable for the current season, you should be concerned about the creativity they are going to use when marketing your home.

Staging For The Holiday Season
Many sellers believe staging a home is the main reason a home sells.  While staging certainly helps sell homes, some buyers have a difficult time envisioning themselves in a home no matter what you do. However, there are some buyers who can easily be “sold” on a home because it is staged.  Simple “seasonal” staging such as adjusting the color of the decor or having an aroma in the air that is relative to the time of year can go a long way with some potential buyers and possibly be the difference between a home selling or not.

Mortgage Rates Are Low
If you’ve read about real estate in the past year, it’s likely you’ve read that the mortgage rates are very low.  You also probably read that there is an expectation that the rates will increase very soon. Since mortgage rates are so low right now, buyers are able to afford more expensive homes.  If mortgage rates increase over the fall and winter months while you’re waiting for the spring market, it could cost you thousands of dollars as it could eliminate many buyers from the real estate marketplace!  Less demand for your home will mean less money. Bottom line: take advantage of selling your home while the rates are this low.

Quicker Transactions
Right now, there are fewer real estate transactions than there will be in the spring.  The fewer number of transactions means the mortgage lenders have less loans to process, attorneys have less closings to do, and home inspectors have fewer inspections to do.  All of these factors should lead to a quicker transaction and closing for all the parties involved.  One of the most frustrating things for a seller to deal with while selling their home is not getting answers in a reasonable amount of time. A quicker transaction is going to be less stress for you.

By considering all of the reasons above, you will be able to determine whether now is a good time to sell or if you should wait until the spring.

Source: Should I Sell My Home Now or Wait Until the Spring? | RISMedia\’s Housecall

Lower Inventory means Appreciation Still Going Up!

Have a look at these pages from the MLS Statistics report – The National Trend is not nearly the same as the MLS Trend!

NAR: Homebuyers, Sellers Stuck in Neutral

A recent survey by NAR shows homebuyers and sellers have a desire to buy and/or sell, but have not followed through on it.

Source: NAR: Homebuyers, Sellers Stuck in Neutral

Homebuyers and sellers are confident in the housing market, but there are few sales to show for it, according to recently released findings from a survey by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

NAR’s quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) report reveals homebuyers and sellers are stuck in neutral, despite a record 80 percent of homeowners surveyed for the report believing now is a good time to sell and 62 percent of renters believing now is a good time to buy. Low inventory is behind the stall, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

“The housing market has been in a funk since early spring because of the ongoing scarcity of new and existing homes for sale,” Yun says. “The pace of new-home construction has not meaningfully broken out this year, and not enough homeowners at this point have followed through with their belief that now is a good time to sell. As a result, home shoppers have seen limited options, stiff competition and weakening affordability conditions. Buyer demand is robust this fall, but the disappointing reality is that sales will continue to undershoot their full potential until supply levels significantly improve.”

Buying a home is already a pipe dream for many renters—and pushed even further out of reach by rising rents, the report shows. Fifty-one percent of renters expect their rent to increase in the next year, but 42 percent would renew their lease, rather than buy a home, if their rent did go up. (Only 15 percent would buy a home.)

“Even though the typical down payment of a first-time buyer has been 6 percent for three straight years, two-thirds of respondents indicated that saving for one is difficult right now,” says Yun. “Rents and home prices have outpaced incomes in the past few years, and this is undoubtedly impacting their ability to put aside savings for a home purchase, even if they increasingly believe it’s a good time to buy. Heading into next year, higher home prices and limited inventory in the affordable price range will likely continue to hold back a share of renters who would prefer to be homeowners.”

More of those surveyed (57 percent) believe the economy is improving, however—optimism that could potentially translate into more earnings, and, by extension, more housing opportunities. The survey’s Personal Financial Outlook Index, which gauges respondents’ sentiment on their financial situation over the next six months, leapt up to 62.0 in September.

“Jobs are plentiful, wage growth is finally showing signs of life, home values are up considerably in the past five years and the stock market is at record highs,” Yun says. “The economy is not perfect, and growth overall is still sluggish, but the financial health of the typical household looks as healthy as it has since the recession.”

Four Fall Home Projects:

1. Clean and Reverse Fans. Your ceiling fans have been hard at work all summer so they may have gathered more dust than you realize. Turn your fans off, and clean the sides, tops and bottoms of the blades. Reverse your fans so the blades send air upward to disrupt the warm air that collects near the ceiling and disperse it downward. This is particularly effective in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings and rooms with stoves or fireplaces.

2. Clean Window Treatments. Use a cordless hand-held vacuum to remove dust from hanging window treatments. If you have hanging curtains, take them down for a gentle launder. While they’re down, clean your windows and sills thoroughly.

3. Vacuum and Clean Furniture. Vacuum your upholstered furniture, and spot-clean the big stains as needed. Always test an inconspicuous area of your couch before applying any cleaning agent to a main area.

4. Seal the Air Leaks. Check your windows and doors for damaged weather stripping and cracked caulking, and make repairs as needed.

Would you like to own a new home in the Phoenix area? Give me a call at 623.341.5382.