What You Don’t Know About Your Credit Score… Could Cost You!

What You Don't Know About Your Credit Score Could Cost You! | Keeping Current Matters

Today we are excited to have Nabil Captan as our guest blogger. Nabil is a nationally recognized credit scoring expert, educator, author and producer. In today’s post, he explains how what you don’t know about your credit score could end up costing you. Enjoy!

Informed consumers considering a home purchase today want to do the right thing and plan ahead. Many do not seek immediate professional guidance from a Realtor or a mortgage loan officer. Instead, they hunt for hours online, looking at numerous websites for available homes for sale. They also consult websites to find the best interest rate and terms for future monthly mortgage payments. Many consumers feel betrayed, cheated and at times embarrassed to learn that the credit scores they counted on, to get that specific interest rate for their loan, are not used by mortgage lenders.

When shopping for a good mortgage interest rate, consumers also need to know their credit score, and utilize an online mortgage calculator to compute future monthly mortgage payments. A Google search for “credit score” will yield hundreds of results. The consumer accepts the provider’s terms and conditions to get a free credit score. Terrific! Unaware that in exchange they just received a meaningless credit score that lenders never use. They also handed over their Non-Public Personal Information (NPPI) to that credit score provider for life.

Before we go any further, let’s look at available credit scoring products available to consumers today:

  • FICO credit score from Fair Isaac Corporation/myfico.com, range 300 to 850
  • Plus Score from Experian, range 320 to 830
  • Trans Risk Score from TransUnion, range 300 to 850
  • Equifax Credit Score from Equifax, range 300 to 850
  • Vantage Score from all three bureaus, two ranges, 300 to 850 and 501-990

What is a FICO Score?

In 1958, Bill Fair and Earl Isaac, a mathematician and engineer, formed a company in San Rafael, California. They created tools to help risk managers make a better decision when taking financial risk. Today, 90 percent of all lenders use the FICO score, first created in 1989 by Fair Isaac, and it’s the only score Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Agency and Veterans Affairs will accept in underwriting loans they guarantee.

What is a Consumer Score?

The three credit bureaus, in their understanding of the credit scoring model created by FICO, decided to create their own scoring models, and in 2004 – 2006 they unveiled the “consumer” scores: Plus Score, Trans Risk Score, Equifax Credit Score, and Vantage Score. However, these are not genuine FICO scores, and mortgage lenders don’t use them. Consider this comparison: Would you buy a watch that gives the approximate time of day?

The three credit bureaus work with major financial institutions, professional organizations, comparison sites, personal finance businesses, clubs such as Costco, AAA, Sam’s Club, and many data-mining brokers to bombard consumers in the race of the free credit score mania, all with the enticement of a “consumer” score that is not used by lenders, in hopes of obtaining subscriptions or fees from consumers. Fees that are totally unnecessary!

Know Your Score

Gaining access to one’s own credit report and credit score prior to loan approval with no strings attached could be helpful, and at all times beneficial. With little effort, inaccuracy of information can be instantly corrected at the credit bureau level, and with a few simple steps, credit scores could be enhanced. For example, paying down revolving account balances before a creditor’s statement-ending date (the creditor later updates account information with the credit bureaus), thus reducing revolving account balances at a particular point in time, will positively add more points to a score. It’s priceless.

More Information

Consumers have a legal right to access their annual credit report at no charge once a year from annualcreditreport.com, a site sponsored by the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

These reports provide all the basic consumer data, but do not reveal a credit score. If you have a need for the FICO credit score that is actually used by mortgage lenders, myfico.com is the website to visit. For $19.95 per bureau, consumers can purchase a customized credit report with a genuine FICO score.

Additional websites to visit: the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (cfpb.gov) for true answers to questions about any financial concepts, financial products, dispute and complaint submissions, and much more.

Today’s homebuyer has instant access to answers. To be relevant in today’s market, real estate professionals need to know the absolute correct response to basic credit questions. It’s important.

Copyright 2014 Nabil Captan, Captan & Company. All rights reserved.

FSBO’s Must Be Ready to Negotiate

FSBO's Must Be Ready to Negotiate | Keeping Current Matters

In a recovering market, some sellers might be tempted to try and sell their home on their own (FSBO) without using the services of a real estate professional. The real estate agent is a trained and experienced negotiator. In most cases, the seller is not. The seller must realize the ability to negotiate will determine whether they get the best deal for themselves and their family.

Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
  • The termite company if there are challenges
  • The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
  • The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
  • The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling.
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

The Two Things You Don’t Need to Hear from Your Listing Agent

Two Things You Don't Need to Hear From Your Listing Agent | Keeping Current Matters

You’ve decided to sell your house. You begin to interview potential real estate agents to help you through the process. You need someone you trust enough to:

  1. Set the market value on possibly the largest asset your family owns (your home)
  2. Set the time schedule for the successful liquidation of that asset
  3. Set the fee for the services required to liquidate that asset

An agent must be concerned first and foremost about you and your family in order to garner that degree of trust.  Make sure this is the case.

Be careful if the agent you are interviewing begins the interview by:

  • Bragging about their success
  • Bragging about their company’s success

An agent’s success and the success of their company can be important considerations when deciding on the right real estate professional to represent you in the sale of the house. However, you first need to know they care about what you need and what you expect from the sale. If the agent is not interested in first establishing your needs, how successful they may seem is much less important.

Look for someone with the ‘heart of a teacher’ who comes in prepared well enough to explain the current real estate market and patient enough to take the time to show how it may impact the sale of your home. Not someone only interested in trying to sell you on how great they are.

You have many agents from which to choose. Pick someone who truly cares.

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Real Estate Agent

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Real Estate Agent | Keeping Current Matters

Whether you are buying or selling a home, the process can be challenging. That is why you should take on the services of a real estate professional when embarking on a potential home move. However, not all real estate agents are the same. A family must make sure they hire someone who truly understands the current housing market and, not only that, knows how to connect the dots to explain how market conditions may impact your decision.

How can you make sure you have an agent who meets these requirements?

Here are just a few questions every real estate professional should be able to answer for their clients and customers:

  • Are home values approaching a new bubble or will prices continue to appreciate?
  • Is it better for a first time buyer or a move-up buyer to wait until they save a bigger down payment before they purchase a home?
  • Where will 30-year mortgage rates likely be in 12 months?
  • Why do I need an agent when I can just as easily find the house online myself?
  • Is buying a home still a good investment for my family?

Make sure you hire an agent that can answer questions like those above. That will guarantee the home buying or selling process will be much easier for you and your family.

5 Reasons to Sell BEFORE Winter Hits

5 Reasons to Sell BEFORE Winter Hits | Keeping Current Matters

People across the country are beginning to think about what their life will look like next year. It happens every fall. We ponder whether we should relocate to a different part of the country to find better year round weather or perhaps move across the state for better job opportunities. Homeowners in this situation must consider whether they should sell their house now or wait. If you are one of these potential sellers, here are five important reasons to do it now versus the dead of winter.

1. Demand is Strong

Foot traffic refers to the number of people out actually physically looking at home right now. The latest foot traffic numbers show that there are more prospective purchasers currently looking at homes than at any other time in the last twelve months which includes the latest spring buyers’ market. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

As we get later into the year, many people have other things (weather, holidays, etc.) that distract them from searching for a home. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply is still under the historical number of 6 months’ supply. This means that, in many markets, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future.

Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A recent study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. Any delay in the process is always prolonged during the winter holiday season. Getting your house sold and closed before those delays begin will lend itself to a smoother transaction.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate in the low 4’s right now. Rates are projected to be over 5% by this time next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

The Most Important Report in Real Estate?

The Most Important Report in Real Estate? | Keeping Current Matters

Many people report on the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Existing Home Sales Report which quantifies the number of closed sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. However, there is another report that NAR releases each month that may be even more important – the Pending Home Sales Report which reveals the current Pending Home Sales Index.

According to NAR, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) is

“a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.”

The PHSI generally leads Existing Home Sales by a month or two and therefore is a more current pulse on home sales.

How is the PHSI calculated?

According to NAR:

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population”.

What does the PHSI look like right now?

The most recent report showed that the PHSI climbed 3.3 percent to 105.9 in July from 102.5 in June. The index is at its highest level since August 2013 (107.1) and is above 100 – considered an average level of contract activity – for the third consecutive month.

Looking at the PHSI at a regional level, we can see the comparative strength of each market.


This region includes the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The PHSI in the Northeast jumped 6.2 percent to 89.2 in July, and is 8.3 percent above a year ago.



This region includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The PHSI in the Midwest fell 0.4 percent to 104.6 in July, and is 6.4 percent below a year ago.


This region includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The PHSI in the South increased 4.2 percent to 119.0 in July, and is 1.0 percent below a year ago.



This region includes the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

The PHSI in the West increased 4.0 percent to 99.5 in July, and is 6.0 percent below a year ago.

Bottom Line

There can be an argument made that the Pending Home Sales Report is actually the most important report released each month because of its timeliness and its measurement of an historically healthy market.

14,109 Houses Sold Yesterday! Did Yours?

14,109 Houses Sold Yesterday! Did Yours? | Keeping Current Matters

There are some homeowners that have been waiting for months to get a price they hoped for when they originally listed their house for sale. The only thing they might want to consider is… If it hasn’t sold over the summer, maybe it’s not priced properly.

After all 14,109 houses sold yesterday, 14,109 will sell today and 14,109 will sell tomorrow. 14,109!

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. NAR reported that sales are at an annual rate of 5.15 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, over 14,000 homes sell every day. Sales are at the highest pace of 2014 and have risen for four consecutive months.

We realize that you want to get the fair market value for your home. However, if it hasn’t sold in today’s active real estate market, perhaps you should reconsider your current asking price.

A ‘Soft’ Housing Market? We Beg to Differ!

A ‘Soft’ Housing Market? We Beg to Differ! | Keeping Current Matters

There are some pundits lamenting the softness of the 2014 housing market. We can’t understand why. Though it is true that the early part of the year disappointed because of a myriad of reasons (ex. weather, lack of inventory, less distressed sales), the recent housing news is extremely encouraging. Let’s give some examples:

Spring Home Buying Season is Healthiest in 3 Years

Move, Inc. just last week revealed that this spring’s housing market finished stronger than any time in the last three years. In the report, Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com explained:

“This is the first time, since the beginning of the recovery that we expect to see positive momentum throughout the second half of the year. While seasonal patterns are emerging in July month-to-month comparisons, all other metrics point to fundamental market health and a build-up of momentum.”

Existing Home Sales are Up

In their latest Existing Home Sales Report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced existing-home sales increased in July to their highest annual pace of the year. That is even though distressed property sales fell to 9%, the first time they were in the single-digits since NAR started tracking the category in October 2008. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR explained:

“The number of houses for sale is higher than a year ago and tamer price increases are giving prospective buyers less hesitation about entering the market. More people are buying homes compared to earlier in the year and this trend should continue.”

New Construction Surging

According to an article on Market Watch, new constructing is surging:

“Construction on new U.S. homes jumped 15.7% in July to the highest level in eight months and starts were revised up sharply for June, indicating a pickup in home building after an early-year lull. Housing starts climbed to an annual rate of 1.09 million last month…Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected starts to climb to a seasonally adjusted 975,000 in July.”

Foot Traffic at Year High Numbers

Foot traffic (the number of people out actually physically looking at homes) has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future.

The latest foot traffic numbers show that there are more prospective purchasers currently looking at homes than at any other time in the last twelve months which includes the latest spring buyers’ market.

Bottom Line

The spring market finished stronger than any time in the last three years. Home sales are at year long highs. New construction is beating estimates. There are more buyers out than at any time in the last twelve months.

We think the housing market is doing just fine.