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Annual review of your escrow account

What is escrow?

Your mortgage payment is made up of the following:

  • Part goes toward your mortgage to pay your principal and interest.
  • The other part goes into your escrow account for property taxes and insurance premiums (like homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance, or flood insurance).

When you purchase a home and put down less than 20%, the lender will requiere that you escrow your taxes and insurance. An account is opened at the time your home is purchased. The funds within the account are used to pay your property taxes and insurance premiums. These are paid by the lender directly using these funds. This typically helps the home owner because you don’t have to save for these funds separately.

In Texas we pay property taxes in arrears. In Jan of the current year, you are paying the past year’s property taxes. By “property taxes” I’m referring to property, School, MUD, LID and/or Drainage Taxes (not all applicable for all).  It might look something like the image below.

At the beginning of the year I’d suggest you do two things:

  1. Make sure that your taxes have been paid. Lenders make mistake and sometimes overlook a payment. Taxes are due by Jan 31st so make sure that the payment is applied before that date.
  2. Review your escrow account for errors, shortages and overages.

#1 Confirm Payment

Go into the jurisdiction’s website and make sure your balance is zero. If there is a balance owed make sure to follow up with your lender.

#2 Yearly escrow review

Property taxes and insurance premiums change over time. Most lenders will review your escrow account each year to make sure you’ll have enough to cover your expenses. To help with any unexpected increases, you need to keep a minimum balance in your account at all times. It’s normally calculated to not be more than 2 months of escrow payments (but this will vary by bank).

The lender will add your taxes and insurance and divide this amount by 12. This is the minimum amount you need in your escrow account. Normally the lender will want at least 2 month cushion to cover any potential increases in taxes or insurance. Most lender will send you an analyzes by mail or online.


If you have an escrow shortage due to an increase in your taxes or insurance premiums, you are responsible for the difference. The bank will send you a notice stating the amount outstanding. It’ll be your choice how you handle it. You can either pay the entire shortage in one lump sum or you can choose to have the amount spread out over the coming year. This means if your shortage is $500, expect to pay an additional $41.67 each month the following year to make up the shortage. Your payment might also increase more as the lender increases the amount going into escrow to pay the next year’s taxes and insurance. In this example you might see an overall increase of approximately $80-100

Please note that if you choose to pay the total shortage in one lump sum, your payment will still increase to cover next year’s potential shortage.


If you have too much money in your escrow account, you might get a refund check from the lender. This usually occurs when taxes go down or payments are overestimated. The lender will pay the appropriate amount to each jurisdiction. Whatever is left goes to you, minus their desired cushion. You should receive notice that you have an escrow surplus and will receive a check not long after that. If this doesn’t happen, contact the lender for further details.

Going Forward

The lender should repeats this process every year but don’t relay on the lender to foresee issues. Be proactive! Before May of every year you will get your proposed assessed value from the tax jurisdiction. Review these statements. Has it increased? decreased? How will this effect your escrow balance?

To avoid unpleasant surprises, pay attention to correspondence from your insurance company or taxing jurisdictions. If you’re aware that your payments will increase, you can put additional money towards your escrow each month to avoid a shortage. If you see that your payments will go down, you can contact your bank to try to decrease your monthly escrow payments.

You can ask your lender to analysis your escrow account at any point. You do not have to wait for them to schedule the review. Increases or decreases in your annual tax or insurance bills may cause your monthly mortgage amount to change.

You can (and should) protest your taxes. The protest deadline is May 31st of each year. The final amount is established by the final quarter of each year.

For more info: Tax Protest

Chewy Coconut Cookies



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cups salted butter, softened
  • ½ cups brown sugar
  • ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-½ cup shredded sweetened coconut


Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg, mix well. Add the vanilla, mix well.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well after each addition. Once all the flour is combined, add the shredded coconut and mix.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon 1 teaspoon of batter onto pans. Dough spreads while baking, so leave ample space between dough balls.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until edges are browned.

Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.



  1. Add 1/2 cups of chopped pecans for a yummy variation
  2. Let cookie cool completely moving them off the pan. Cookies will be very softs right out of the oven
  3. You can make the batter in advance. Scoop into portions and freeze. You can take them from the freezer to the oven. You might need to add 1 more minute to the calling time. The cookie will last 2-3 months in the freezer.

Asian Style Pork Belly



  • 1.5 lbs pork belly, cut in 1 in pieces
  • 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (whole)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 bunch Green onions (sliced)

Serve with steamed white rice


Brown the pork belly pieces in small batches (do not crowd the pan) until brown. I used an electric pressure cooker, the sauté function. Once all pieces have been browned add them back to the pot and toss in all the rest of the ingredients except the green onions. Add 2/3 cup water. Cover the pressure cooker and set for stew setting.

Once the setting is complete, uncover the pressure cooker and turn the sauté function back on. Cook until the sauce reduces and becomes as thick has honey. Stir several time so that the pork is even coated.


  1. I make a cuban style pork belly. Pork is cut into 1in pieces and browned as stated above. Add the pork back into the pan with 1/2 cup orange juice, the juice of 1 lime, 5 cloves of garlic, 3 packages of saloon Goya, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1 small sliced onion, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper. Once the pork is cooked in the pressure cooker you will once again open the pot and set it to sauté. Cook until the pork is dark brown, stir often.

Italian style burgers

Makes 4 patties


  • 1 lb beef or turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato pesto (or sun-dried tomato pesto)
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I’ve used parmesan, provolone, mozzarella or a combination of these)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 buns
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • Green leaf lettuce or arugula
  • Pesto or basil leaves (optional)
  • 4 cheese slices – Mozzarella or provolone


Mix ground meat with egg, bread crumbs, garlic salt, tomato pesto, grated cheese and black pepper. Mix well and found 4 patties. Heat a sauce pan with olive oil, place patties in pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until done to taste. Add sliced cheese and cook until melted. Toast buns, add condiments as desired. Enjoy!


  1. This same mixture can be turned into a meatloaf. Mix the same ingredients and top with a 1 cup of ketchup or tomato sauce. Place in greased loaf pan. Cook for 30 mins or until done. Serve with parmesan potatoes!
  2. This same mixture makes amazing meatballs. Mix the same ingredients and form 16 small meatballs. Brown the meat balls in olive oil and add your favorite spaghetti sauce.



Butter Pecan Cookies

I used a 1 in scoop and this recipe made 60 small cookies. If you use a larger scoop you will need to make cooking adjustments. See below.


2 cups pecan halves, finely chopped

2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter + 2 tablespoons of salted butter

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

32 pecan halves, for decoration (optional)



  • Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in chopped pecans and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside until needed.
  • In a large bowl combine flour, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda; whisk well, set aside until needed.
  • Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat; continue cooking, stirring often, until golden brown (light caramel color). Add browned butter  into a large, heatproof mixing bowl. Add in both sugars and whisk well to combine. I mixed it for about 2 mins so the mixture would cool slightly. Add in vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating until eggs are just combined.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour, stirring until just combined. Fold in the buttered pecans.
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

To Bake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Scoop 3 tablespoon sized rounds of dough onto the prepared sheet, leaving 2 inches in between each cookie for spreading. Firmly press a pecan half on top of each ball of cookie dough, if desired, then bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes, or until edges are set and the center is still a little jiggly. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.


  • If using a 2in scoop, the cookies will take about 9-10 mins to cook
  • I scoop all the cookies and freeze the balls of dough. This way I can bake a few batches as needed. If frozen you might have to bake the cookies for an addition 2 mins.
  • Cookies will stay fresh for 3 days when stored in an airtight container.

‘Tis the Season: 5 Reasons Why Winter is a Great Time to Buy or Sell a Home

It’s a common misconception that you shouldn’t try to buy or sell a home during the fall and winter months.

This is generally considered the “offseason” in real estate. Many sellers mistakenly believe that the cold weather will keep buyers away and that no one is looking over the holidays. Unfortunately, many real estate professionals perpetuate this myth by advising their clients to “wait until the spring” to list their home.

The truth is, homes are bought and sold year round. And while the market is typically quieter during the fall and winter, savvy buyers and sellers know how to use this slow down to their advantage. In fact, depending on your circumstances, now may be the ideal time for you to purchase or list a home.

If you’re in the market to buy or sell, there’s no need to wait for the spring. Read on to discover the top five reasons that it can pay to buy or sell a home during the offseason! 


What’s the number one reason to buy or sell a home during the offseason? Less competition!

This can be particularly beneficial if you’re a seller. Come spring, a huge wave of new listings will hit the market. But if you list now, you will have fewer comparable homes with which to compete.

In the spring and summer months, it can be difficult for your property to stand out in a crowded market. You may end up with a surplus of homes for sale in your neighborhood. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to see multiple listings on a single street during the peak selling season.

Inventory in the fall and winter months, however, can be significantly lower. That means your home will not only receive more attention from buyers, but you may also gain the upper hand in your negotiations. In fact, research found that homes listed in the winter are nine percent more likely to sell, and sellers net more above asking price in the winter than any other time of year.1

Buyers also have a lot to love about the real estate offseason. While some buyers need to move during the winter, many bargain hunters search this time of year in hopes of scoring a great deal.

Smart buyers will continue to scan the market during the fall and winter for hidden gems that pop up during the offseason. There are always highly motivated sellers who need to sell quickly. And with less competition to bid against you, you’re in a better position to negotiate a great price. If you’ve been looking for a good deal on a home or investment property, now may be the best time to look!

So while a “slow market” may scare off some buyers and sellers, it can actually be the perfect time of year for you to list or purchase a home. While the rest of the market is hibernating until spring, take advantage of this opportunity to get a jump start on your competition!


During the spring and summer, you’re likely to encounter “lookie-loo” buyers who are just testing the waters and unrealistic sellers who are holding out for a better offer. But the serious buyers and sellers stay active during the cold weather and holiday season, often because they need to move quickly. In fact, research shows that homes listed in the winter sell faster than any other time of year.1

January and February are peak job hiring months, which brings a surge of buyers who need to relocate quickly to start a new job.2And of course life changes like retirement, marriage, divorce, and new babies come year round. While families often find it more convenient to move during the summer when school is out, the reality is that many don’t have the option to wait. According to the National Association of Realtors, 55 percent of all buyers purchased their home at the time they did because “it was just the right time,” not because of seasonal factors.3

If you prefer to deal with serious, highly-motivated buyers and sellers who want to act fast and don’t want to waste your time, then the offseason may be the perfect real estate season for you.


Another key benefit to buying and selling in the offseason is the increased personal attention you’ll receive.

While we strive to provide unparalleled client service throughout the year, we simply have more time available for each individual client during slower periods. Similarly, we find the other real estate professionals in our network—including title agents, inspectors, appraisers, insurance agents, and loan officers—are able to respond faster and provide more time and attention during the offseason than they are during the busy spring and summer months. The result is a quicker and more streamlined closing process for all involved.


Clients who move during the offseason often report significant cost savings. Moving costs may be discounted by 15 percent or more during the winter months, and moving companies can typically offer more flexibility in their scheduling.4

Home renovations and repairs can also be less expensive in the offseason.5 Whether you’re fixing up your property prior to listing it or remodeling your new home before moving in, contractors and service providers who are hungry for business are often willing to work for a discount this time of year. If you wait until the spring and summer, you may be forced to pay a premium.

Home stagers and decorators are also more likely to negotiate their fees during the winter. And you can often score great deals on new furniture and decor during the holiday sales.

Whether you’re buying or selling, count cost savings as another compelling reason to consider an offseason move.


Finally, listing your home during the fall and winter offers one key—but often overlooked—advantage: less lawn maintenance!

Good curb appeal is crucial when selling your home. According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, 44 percent of home buyers drove by a property after viewing it online but did NOT go inside for a walkthrough.6That means if your curb appeal is lacking, buyers may never make it through the door.

If you list your home during the peak of the selling season, we will generally advise you to implement a frequent schedule of mowing, edging, watering, weeding, and trimming shrubs and hedges. You’ll probably want to plant flowers, as well, to brighten your exterior. After all, a lush landscape is a key element in attracting spring and summer buyers.

If you list in the offseason, however, your lawn maintenance list is significantly reduced. While we do recommend that our sellers keep their exterior clean, tidy, and free of leaves, snow, and ice, you will probably spend much less time on outdoor maintenance during the winter than you would if you listed your home in the summer.


Now that you know all the great reasons to buy or sell a home in the offseason, it’s time to decide whether you’re ready to make your move.

Every client’s circumstances are unique. Whether you needto move quickly or you simply wantto take advantages of all benefits this season has to offer, it’s a great time to enter the market.

Give us a call today to schedule a FREE consultation … and you could be ringing in the New Year in your new home!




  1. Redfin –
  2. Top Resume –
  3. National Association of Realtors –
  4. Angie’s List –
  5. Build Direct –
  6. National Association of Realtors –

Should You Buy a New or Existing Home?

Should You Buy a New or Existing Home?

Maybe your dream home has the intricate details that you usually find only in older construction – wainscoting and crown molding in the interior, the front porch with a swing, an older tree shading the back yard, and the white picket fence.

Or maybe your dream home has all the conveniences of modern living – open floor plan in the living and dining spaces, large windows, connected, “smart” appliances and security systems, and minimalist design elements.

Whether you go for a brand new construction or an existing home, both types of properties have their pros and cons when it comes to purchasing. What type of home is right for you will depend on which factors are most important for your lifestyle.

Build your dream home with new construction

If you’re making a home purchase that’s still in the pre-construction phase, you may be able to customize many of the details. Many home builders will give you the option to add design elements that will give you the exact dream home you desire. If it’s a new subdivision, you may even be able to pick which lot you like best.

Very early in the building process, you may have more room to customize. For example, if the walls aren’t complete, you may be able to add extra outlets in each of the rooms or custom wiring for surround sound in the media room. Perhaps you could move the laundry room to the top floor instead of the basement. You might be able to get a separate mudroom entrance.

Later in the building process, you may be able to add marble countertops, an island, and custom cabinets in the kitchen. Your master bathroom could be upgraded with a steam shower, spa tub, and European fixtures. You will want to check with the builder to understand which features are included, and which ones are extra.

New homes save money with fewer repairs and more efficiency

Once your home is complete, all you’ll need to do is move in. New appliances will be under warranty for a few years if they need repairs, and will likely work well for several years without needing fixes. Often, new construction is under a builder’s warranty, so any repairs needed in the first year should be covered.

New homes often contain energy efficient and green appliances, like high-efficiency stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, heaters, or air conditioning units. These energy-saving appliances, along with good insulation and energy-efficient windows, will help you save money on monthly utility bills.

New homes also often use new building materials that require less maintenance — for example, using composite siding instead of wood, which doesn’t need annual repainting. You won’t need to spend as much to maintain your new home.

If you customized it during pre-construction, you won’t need to spend any money on renovations or upgrades for several more years. You can just enjoy it and not worry about saving for major home repairs.

What you need to do to make a good new home purchase

Before you put in your offer, do some research on the builder. Do they have a good reputation? What else have they built? Did their other new properties have issues such as poor construction or unfinished details?

You like the model home, but will you like where it’s situated? After you look at the home itself, come back to the neighborhood to see what it’s like at different times of the day. Walk around during the day and in the evening, and see how you like the area.

Brand new communities usually attract similar types of buyers—urban professionals, couples, or young families, for example. These will be your neighbors, so you’ll want to make sure that you want to be part of this new, homogeneous community.

You may also need to be flexible with your move-in date. Builders will only be able to let you move in if they can meet their construction schedule. If the wiring is delayed, the walls can’t be finished. And because there are so many construction tasks that are dependent on the completion of prior tasks, schedules tend to slip.

Get more variety and established neighborhoods with an existing home

Existing homes are those that have generally been built and lived in between the 1920’s and 1970’s. With existing homes, you will get more variety in home styles, as different types of construction have gone in and out of style throughout the decades. Within one neighborhood, you may be able to find a mix of different styles like Victorian, modern Tudor cottages, tract style, ranch or split-ranch, or contemporary homes.

Existing homes are situated in established neighborhoods, which may have more amenities nearby that a new home in a brand new subdivision may not have. Your new neighborhood may have restaurants, cafes, and boutiques within walking distance.

You might also have access to more supermarkets, dry cleaners, discount stores, and gas stations nearby. An established neighborhood might have a nice park, running path, or playground for the kids to enjoy. You might also be closer to a library or the post office.

Resale homes can be a less expensive purchase

If you’re considering a resale home, you may be able to get into a beautiful, unique property at a lower purchase price than a new home.

There are many more resale homes available than there are new homes — according to theNational Association of Homebuilders, about 10 times as many. With such a large pool to buy from, the market for resales can be more competitive. You may have more room to negotiate the  selling price of the home. With a brand-new construction, you won’t likely be able to have the same kind of negotiating power.

Before putting a home on the market, sellers often make home renovations or remodel parts of their homes to make them more attractive to buyers and to be able to potentially increase the list price. If the resale home has a brand new, modern kitchen, an updated bathroom, or even a new roof or upgraded windows, you could end up getting a home that’s comparable to new construction without having to pay the potential more expensive new-home list price.

Existing homes have already been inspected at least once on the last sale, so you will know about any potential structural problems or repairs that have been made on the home. Knowing the track record on your potential home will help you avoid purchase mistakes—you’re much less likely to end up with a property that has a rotting roof, dangerous electrical wiring, or a crumbling foundation. With a new home, you could end up with incomplete construction or major issues that you didn’t know about because they weren’t yet documented.

What you need to do to make a good resale purchase

Before you go too far down the road to a purchase, you can protect your purchase by first having the home inspected. A good home inspector will document all flaws, no matter how small they appear. If the inspector finds any major problems, like foundation cracks or leaky roofs, you may be able to counter offer and get the seller to either fix it or reduce the selling price.

Even if the inspection doesn’t uncover any major issues, you will need to expect the unexpected. Older homes will eventually need replacement appliances, a new air conditioning unit, or a plumbing repair. As long as you know that before you buy a resale home, you can plan for surprise repairs.

With an older home, you may want to eventually remodel parts of it. Will you be happy living in your house while you’re doing major work on the living room or the kitchen? If you know that it would disrupt your lifestyle too much, you may want to consider whether you really want to buy an older property.

Whether you choose to buy a new home or an existing home, the best way to get started is to speak with your trusted real estate professional. We will have access to both new properties and resale homes that may fit your goals, and will know which neighborhoods will serve your needs.


A Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing

A Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing

Despite the grim economic outlook for some industries, one sector is gaining viability — real estate. According to the 2016 Emerging Trends in Real Estate, which was released by the Urban Land Institute earlier this year, trends such as “18-hour cities” and millennial parents increasing moving from urban areas out into the suburbs signal that real estate as an industry is gaining strength every passing day in 2016. One lending officer at a large financial institution even went to far as to say that “the next 24 months look doggone good for real estate.”

These trends means that real estate is a smart place to make an investment and grow your wealth. A housing shortage means that flipped homes tend to sell quickly and for high prices, and an increased demand across all age groups for rental properties means that finding tenants for your buy-and-hold properties should be a breeze.

Of course, these trends also mean that the real estate market is highly competitive right now. If you want to make a foray into real estate investing, you’ll need to educate yourself and be strategic in who you work with and where you look for investment opportunities. Read on for our beginner’s guide to real estate investing.

Assemble your real estate team before you buy

Building relationships with your team will empower you to make serious offers that will more likely get accepted by sellers. Among your team members, you will want to include:

  • A mortgage broker or banker, who can help you get the financing for your deal
  • A real estate attorney to protect you by reviewing and revising contracts
  • An appraiser who can help you get a correct appraisal for your potential property
  • An accountant who is well versed in real estate investments
  • A good contractor, for repairs whether you’re rehabbing or buying rental property

How to find rehab or wholesale deals

You can buy properties to fix up and resell (flip) or you can buy and hold properties that you rent out for monthly cash flow.

The advantage of flipping properties is that you can end up with a good return on investment (ROI) in the short term. For example, you buy a property for $100,000, and invest $50,000 into repairs. Once it’s rehabbed, your property is valued at $200,000, and you sell it for a $50,000 profit.

This is an extremely simplified version of ROI. There are many other factors that you need to determine to see if the numbers work in your favor — that is, you’re not overpaying initially when you buy the properties or for the renovations or holding costs.

Flipping properties means that you will need to spend more time looking for fixer uppers that may be under market value. These may be more difficult to find in a hot market with rising property prices. Beyond the actual purchase price, you will also need to factor in fixed purchase costs for inspections, closing, and lender fees.

You’ll also need to factor in holding costs. Your budget should include funds for making repairs, whether you are doing them yourself or hiring contractors. While you’re upgrading the property, you’ll need to carry mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.

Because of rising property values, fix-and-flip deals in good neighborhoods can be hard to find. But once you know where to find rehab opportunities, you can easily repeat the process by reinvesting proceeds from a previous flip into the next property, which can be bigger, in a more desirable neighborhood, or finished out more luxuriously, and therefore sold for more cash!

Working with the right real estate professionals will help you learn which neighborhoods to consider and determine where you should focus your search. We can help you find the right fixer-uppers that may be under market value. Also, a Realtor will have access to many properties that may not be publicly available.

Finding buy-and-hold rental properties

A buy-and-hold rental property is one that your purchase with the intent of renting it out to tenants. If you find the right long-term buy-and-hold rental property, you can earn consistent cash flow each month, which can be a great source of supplemental income.

You’ll need to carefully review the operating expenses on the property and what tenants are willing to pay for the space to know if you’ll make or lose money each month. For example, say your total costs to buy a duplex was $20,000, including down payment and closing costs. You can rent each of the units for $600. Assuming your building is 100% occupied, you’ll make $1200 per month in income. Your expenses include mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, utilities, and management fees, and you want to set aside some cash each month for capital expenditures and routine repairs. You calculate that your expenses add up to $1100 per month. Once you subtract your expenses from your income, you’ll have a positive cash flow of $100 per month.

Of course, this is a very simplified example, and it doesn’t take into account that problems will inevitably arise. Emergency roof repairs, heating system breakdowns, broken windows that need replacing, and other unexpected expenses can eat away at your profits. One of your units may be vacant for a month or more — for example, vacancies are high in the summer months in buildings around universities — or you could have a tenant who fails to pay their monthly rent.

The more you can anticipate problems before they happen, however, the easier it will be for you to recover from setbacks! Moreover, rent isn’t the only way to make money on a buy-and-hold property. You can also add amenities, such as coin laundry and vending machines, to increase your potential monthly income. If your property has space to add a billboard, you can earn advertising revenue from renting that space, too. And when you decide to sell, your property’s value will likely have increased both from the overall rising property values and by the improvements you made to increase the cash flow.

Once you find and invest in your rental property, you’ll need to decide how you want it managed from month to month.

Getting the right property manager

Do you want to manage your own property or hire a manager? Property management can become a full-time job. As a property manager, you’ll have to deal not only with maintenance, repairs and tenant issues, but also with insurance, fair rental regulations, and building code compliance. So if you’re not an expert in these areas, managing your own properties may not be worth your time and effort.

Hiring a professional manager can save you headaches over the long term. While you’ll have to factor in management as a fixed expense, your property manager will likely know how to better take care of routine repairs, tenant issues, and keeping your property near 100% occupancy.

Your real estate professional can refer you to reputable property management companies to help you take care of your investment.

Where should I start investing in local real estate?

Work with a knowledgeable real estate professionalwho knows about the different neighborhoods. We can help you find properties that will fit into your budget and your overall goals. Whether you’re seeking a duplex or multifamily property so you can maximize your rental income or whether you want a condo or single-family home to improve for resale, we can guide you to the best property to suit your needs.

Contact your us to learn more about investment properties in our area.

Get Your Credit Score in Shape Before Buying a Home

Get Your Credit Score in Shape Before Buying a Home

How strong is your credit? Cleaning up your credit is essential before you make any major financial moves. Having a bad score can hurt your chances of being able to open a credit card, apply for a loan, purchase a car, or rent an apartment.

It is especially important to have clean credit before you try to buy a home. With a less-than-great score, you may not get preapproved for a mortgage. If you can’t get a mortgage, you may only be able to buy a home if you can make an all-cash offer.

Or if you do get preapproval, you might get a higher mortgage rate, which can be a huge added expense. For example, if you have a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of $100,000 and you get a 3.92% interest rate, the total cost of your mortgage will be $170,213. However, if your interest rate is 5.92%, you’ll have to spend $213,990 for the same mortgage  – that’s an extra $43,777 over the life of the loan! If you had secured the lower mortgage rate, you could use that additional money to fund a four-year college degree at a public university.

So now that you know how important it is to maintain a good credit score, how do you start cleaning up your credit? Here, we’ve collected our best tips for improving your score.

Talk to a loan professional

You can protect your score from more damage by getting a loan professional to check your credit score for you. A professional will be able to guide you to whether your score is in the ‘good’ range for home buying. Plus, every time that you request your own credit score, the credit companies record the inquiry, which can lower your score. Having a professional ask instead ensures that you only record one inquiry. Once you know your score, you can start taking action on cleaning up your credit.

Change your financial habits to boost your score

What if your score has been damaged by late payments or delinquent accounts? You can start repairing the damage quickly by taking charge of your debts. For example, your payment history makes up 35% of your score according to myFICO. If you begin to pay your bills in full before they are due, and make regular payments to owed debts, your score can improve within a few months.

Amounts owed are 30% of your FICO score. What matters in this instance is the percentage of credit that you’re currently using. For example, if you have a $5000 limit on one credit card, and you’re carrying a balance of $4500, that means 90% of your available credit is used up by that balance. You can improve your score by reducing that balance to free up some of your available credit.

Length of credit history counts for 15% of your FICO score. If you’re trying to reduce debt by eliminating your credit cards, shred the card but DO NOT close the account. Keep the old accounts open without using them to maintain your credit history and available credit.

Find and correct mistakes on your credit report

How common are credit report mistakes? Inaccuracies are rampant. In a 2012 study by the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people identified at least one error on their credit report. In their 2015 follow-up study, almost 70% thought that at least one piece of previously disputed information was still inaccurate.

Go through each section of your report systematically, and take notes about anything that needs to be corrected.

Your personal information

Start with the basics: often overlooked, one small incorrect personal detail like an incorrect address can accidently lower your score. So, before you look at any other part of your report, check all of these personal details:

  • Make sure your name, address, social security number and birthdate are current and correct.
  • Are your prior addresses correct? You’ll need to make sure that they’re right if you haven’t lived at your current address for very long.
  • Is your employment information up to date? Are the details of your past employers also right?
  • Is your marital status correct? Sometimes a former spouse will come up listed as your current spouse.

Your public records

This section will list things like lawsuits, tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies. If you have any of these in your report, make sure that they are listed correctly and actually belong to you.

A bankruptcy filed by a spouse or ex-spouse should not be on your report if you didn’t file it. There shouldn’t be any lawsuits or judgments older than seven years, or that were entered after the statute of limitations, on your report.  Are there tax liens that you paid off that are still listed as unpaid, or that are more than seven years old? Those all need to go.

Your credit accounts

This section will list any records about your commingled accounts, credit cards, loans, and debts. As you read through this section, make sure that any debts are actually yours.

For example, if you find an outstanding balance for which your spouse is solely responsible, that should be removed from your report. Any debts due to identity theft should also be resolved. If there are accounts that you closed on your report, make sure they’re labeled as ‘closed by consumer’ so that it doesn’t look like the bank closed them.

Your inquiries

Are there any unusual inquiries into your credit listed in this section? An example might be a credit inquiry when you went for a test drive or were comparison shopping at a car dealer. These need to be scrubbed off your report.

Report the dispute to the credit agency

If there are major mistakes, you can take your dispute to the credit agencies. While you could send a letter, it can be much faster to get the ball rolling on resolving a mistake by submitting your report through the credit agency’s website. Experian,Transunionand Equifaxall have step-by-step forms to submit reports online.

If you have old information on your report that should have been purged from your records already, such as a debt that has already been paid off or information that is more than 7 years old, you may need to go directly to the lender to resolve the dispute.

Follow up

You must follow up to make sure that any mistakes are scrubbed from your reports. Keep notes about who you speak to and on which dates you contacted them. Check back with all of the credit reporting companies to make sure that your information has been updated. Since all three companies share data with each other, any mistakes should be corrected on all three reports.

If your disputes are still not corrected, you may have to also follow up with the institution that reported the incident in the first place, or a third-party collections agency that is handling it. Then check again with the credit reporting companies to see if your reports have been updated.

If you can keep on top of your credit reports on a regular basis, you won’t have to deal with the headaches of fixing reporting mistakes. You are entitled to a free annual credit report review to make sure all is well with your score. If you make your annual credit review part of your financial fitness routine, you’ll be able to better protect your buying power and potentially save thousands of dollars each year.

How to clean up your credit now

Does your credit score need a boost so you can buy a home? Get in touch with me. I can connect you with the right lending professionals to help you get the guidance you need.

La guía para el comprador – prepararse para la hipoteca

La guía para el comprador – prepararse para la hipoteca

No espere hasta que esté listo para mudarse para comenzar a prepararse financieramente para comprar una casa.

Si usted es como la gran mayoría de los compradores de vivienda, elegirá financiar su compra con un préstamo hipotecario. Al prepararse de antemano, puede evitar los retrasos comunes y los obstáculos que muchos compradores enfrentan al solicitar una hipoteca.

Los requisitos para asegurar una hipoteca pueden parecer abrumadores, especialmente si es la primera vez que compra. Sin embargo, hemos descrito tres pasos simples para comenzar su camino hacia la propiedad de vivienda.

Incluso si eres un propietario actual, es una buena idea prepararte con anticipación para que no te encuentres con sorpresas en el camino. Los requisitos de préstamos se han vuelto más rigurosos en los últimos años, y los cambios en su historial crediticio, niveles de deuda, tipo de trabajo y otros factores podrían afectar sus posibilidades de aprobación.

Nunca es demasiado temprano para comenzar a prepararse para comprar una casa. ¡Siga estos tres pasos para comenzar a sentar las bases para su futura compra de vivienda hoy!


Su puntaje de crédito es una de las primeras cosas que un prestamista verificará para ver si califica para un préstamo. Es una buena idea revisar su informe de crédito y calificarlo usted mismo antes de estar listo para solicitar una hipoteca. Si tiene un puntaje bajo, necesitará tiempo para elevarlo. Y, a veces, en su informe aparecerá actividad fraudulenta o información errónea, que puede tardar meses en corregirse.

La calificación crediticia que utilizan la mayoría de los prestamistas es su calificación FICO, una calificación ponderada desarrollada por Fair Isaac Corporation que toma en cuenta su historial de pagos (35%), los montos adeudados (30%), la duración del historial crediticio (15%), el nuevo crédito (10%), y mix de crédito (10%). 1


Fuente: myFico.com

Los puntajes FICO base varían de 300 a 850. Un puntaje FICO más alto lo ayudará a calificar para una tasa de interés hipotecario más baja, lo que le ahorrará dinero.2

Por ley federal, usted tiene derecho a una copia gratuita de su informe de crédito cada 12 meses de cada una de las tres agencias de crédito principales (Equifax, Experian y Transunion). Solicite su informe de crédito gratuito en https://www.annualcreditreport.com.

Requisitos de puntaje mínimo

Para calificar para las tasas de interés más bajas disponibles, generalmente necesitará un puntaje FICO de 760 o superior. La mayoría de los prestamistas requieren una puntuación de al menos 620 para calificar para una hipoteca convencional.

Si su puntaje FICO es menor a 620, es posible que pueda calificar para una hipoteca no convencional. Sin embargo, debe esperar pagar tasas de interés y tarifas más altas. Por ejemplo, puede obtener un préstamo FHA (uno emitido por un prestamista privado pero asegurado por la Administración Federal de Vivienda) con una calificación crediticia tan baja como 580 si puede hacer un pago inicial del 3.5 por ciento. Y los préstamos FHA están disponibles para los solicitantes con puntajes de crédito tan bajos como 500 con un pago inicial del 10 por ciento.

Aumente su puntaje de crédito

No hay una solución rápida para un puntaje de crédito bajo, pero los siguientes pasos lo ayudarán a aumentarla con el tiempo.5

  • Hacer pagos a tiempo

Con un 35 por ciento, su historial de pagos representa la mayor parte de su puntaje de crédito. Por lo tanto, es crucial ponerse al día con cualquier pago atrasado y hacer todos sus pagos futuros a tiempo.

Si tiene problemas para recordar pagar sus facturas a tiempo, configure recordatorios de pago a través de su plataforma de banca en línea, una herramienta gratuita de administración de dinero como Mint o una aplicación como BillMinder.

  • Evite solicitar un nuevo crédito que no necesita

Las nuevas cuentas reducirán su antigüedad promedio, lo que podría impactar negativamente en la duración de su historial de crédito. Además, cada vez que solicite un crédito, puede resultar en una pequeña disminución en su puntaje de crédito.

¿La excepción a esta regla? Si no tiene ninguna tarjeta de crédito, o ninguna cuenta de crédito, debe abrir una cuenta para establecer un historial de crédito. Solo asegúrese de usarlo responsablemente y pague en su totalidad cada mes.

Si necesita comprar una nueva cuenta de crédito, por ejemplo, un préstamo para automóvil, asegúrese de completar sus solicitudes de préstamo dentro de un corto período de tiempo. FICO intenta distinguir entre la búsqueda de un solo préstamo y las solicitudes para abrir varias líneas de crédito nuevas por la ventana de tiempo durante la cual se realizan las consultas.

  • Pagar tarjetas de crédito

Cuando cancela sus tarjetas de crédito y otro crédito renovable, reduce sus montos adeudados o el índice de utilización del crédito (proporción de saldos de cuenta a límites de crédito). Algunos expertos recomiendan comenzar con su deuda de mayor interés y pagarla primero. Otros sugieren pagar primero su saldo más bajo y luego transferir ese pago a su siguiente saldo más bajo para crear un impulso.

Sea cual sea el método que elija, el primer paso es hacer una lista de todos los saldos de sus tarjetas de crédito y luego comenzar a abordarlos uno por uno. Haga los pagos mínimos en todas sus tarjetas, excepto una. Pague todo lo que pueda en esa tarjeta hasta que se pague por completo, luego táchela de la lista y continúe con la siguiente tarjeta.

Pago de la deuda Tipo de interés Pago total Pago mínimo
Tarjeta de crédito 1 12.5% $ 460 $ 18.40
Tarjeta de crédito 2 18.9% $ 1,012 $ 40.48
Tarjeta de crédito 3 3.11% $ 6,300 $ 252

  • Evite cerrar cuentas antiguas

Cerrar una cuenta antigua no la eliminará de su informe de crédito. De hecho, puede afectar su puntaje, ya que puede aumentar su tasa de utilización de crédito, ya que tendrá menos crédito disponible, y disminuir su longitud promedio de historial de crédito.

Del mismo modo, el pago de una cuenta de cobro no lo eliminará de su informe. Permanece en su informe de crédito durante siete años, sin embargo, el impacto negativo en su puntaje disminuirá con el tiempo.

  • Corregir errores en su informe

Los errores o la actividad fraudulenta pueden afectar negativamente su puntaje de crédito. Por eso es una buena idea revisar su informe de crédito al menos una vez al año. La Comisión Federal de Comercio tiene instrucciones en su sitio web para disputar errores en su informe.

Si bien puede parecer mucho esfuerzo elevar su puntaje de crédito, su trabajo arduo se verá recompensado a largo plazo. No solo lo ayudará a calificar para una hipoteca, sino que también le ayudará a obtener una tasa de interés más baja en préstamos para automóviles y tarjetas de crédito. Incluso puede calificar para tarifas más bajas en primas de seguros.


El siguiente paso para prepararse para la compra de su casa es ahorrar para el pago inicial y los costos de cierre.


Cuando compra una casa, normalmente paga una parte de ella en efectivo (pago inicial) y obtiene un préstamo para cubrir el saldo restante (hipoteca).

Muchos compradores primerizos se preguntan: ¿Cuánto necesito ahorrar para un pago inicial? La respuesta es … depende.

En términos generales, cuanto mayor sea el pago inicial, más dinero ahorrará en intereses y comisiones. Por ejemplo, usted calificará para una tasa de interés más baja y evitará pagar el seguro hipotecario si su pago inicial es al menos el 20 por ciento del precio de compra de la propiedad. Pero, ¿qué pasa si no puede darse el lujo de pagar un 20 por ciento?

En un préstamo convencional, se le solicitará que compre un seguro hipotecario privado (PMI) si su pago inicial es inferior al 20 por ciento. PMI es un seguro que compensa a su prestamista si no cumple con su préstamo.

El PMI le costará entre el 0,3 y el 1,5 por ciento del monto total de la hipoteca cada año. 8 Entonces, en un préstamo de $ 100,000, puede esperar pagar entre $ 300 y $ 1500 por año para el PMI hasta que el saldo de su hipoteca caiga por debajo del 80 por ciento del valor de tasación. 9Para una hipoteca convencional con PMI, la mayoría de los prestamistas aceptarán un pago inicial mínimo del cinco por ciento del precio de compra.7

Si un pago inicial del cinco por ciento sigue siendo demasiado alto, un préstamo asegurado por la FHA puede ser una opción para usted. Debido a que están garantizados por la Administración Federal de Vivienda, los préstamos de la FHA solo requieren un pago inicial del 3.5 por ciento si su puntaje de crédito es 580 o más.7

¿El inconveniente de obtener un préstamo FHA? Se le pedirá que pague una prima de seguro hipotecario por adelantado (MIP) de 1.75 por ciento del monto total del préstamo, así como un MIP anual de entre 0.80 y 1.05 por ciento del saldo de su préstamo en una nota de 30 años. También hay ciertas limitaciones en los tipos de préstamos y propiedades que califican10.

También hay una variedad de otros programas patrocinados por el gobierno creados para ayudar a los compradores de vivienda. Por ejemplo, los veteranos y los miembros actuales de las Fuerzas Armadas pueden calificar para un préstamo respaldado por el VA que requiere un pago inicial de $ 0. 7 Consulte a un prestamista hipotecario sobre las opciones disponibles para usted.


  • Préstamo convencional 20% Califique para obtener las mejores tarifas y no se requiere seguro hipotecario
  • Préstamo convencional 5% Debe comprar un seguro hipotecario privado con un costo de 0.3 a 1.5% de la hipoteca anual
  • Préstamo FHA 3.5% de la prima del seguro hipotecario por adelantado del 1.75% del monto del préstamo y una tarifa anual de 0.8 – 1.05%

Propietarios actuales

Si usted es un propietario actual, puede tener capital en su hogar que puede usar para el pago inicial de una nueva casa. Podemos ayudarlo a calcular el rendimiento esperado después de vender su casa actual y pagar su hipoteca actual. Póngase en contacto con nosotros para una evaluación gratuita!

Costos de cierre

Los costos de cierre también deben tenerse en cuenta en su plan de ahorro. Estos pueden incluir tarifas de originación de préstamos, puntos de descuento, tarifas de tasación, búsquedas de títulos, seguros de títulos, encuestas y otras tarifas asociadas con la compra de su casa. Los costos de cierre varían, pero generalmente oscilan entre el dos y el cinco por ciento del precio de compra.

Si no tiene los fondos para pagarlos en el momento del cierre, a menudo puede agregarlos al saldo de su hipoteca y pagarlos en el tiempo. Sin embargo, esto significa que tendrá un pago mensual más alto y pagará más a largo plazo porque pagará intereses sobre las tarifas.


Una vez que tenga el puntaje de crédito requerido, los ahorros para un pago inicial y una lista de todas sus obligaciones de deuda pendientes a través de su informe de crédito, puede evaluar si está listo y puede comprar una casa.

Es importante tener una idea de cuánto puede pagar razonablemente, y cuánto podrá pedir prestado, para ver si la propiedad de una vivienda está al alcance.

Su relación deuda-ingreso (DTI) es uno de los principales factores que utilizan las compañías hipotecarias para determinar cuánto están dispuestos a prestarle, y puede ayudarlo a determinar si sus objetivos de compra de vivienda son realistas dada su situación financiera actual .

Su relación DTI es esencialmente una comparación de sus gastos de vivienda y otras deudas en comparación con sus ingresos. Hay dos relaciones DTI diferentes que los prestamistas consideran:

Proporción frontal

También llamado el índice de vivienda, este es el porcentaje de sus ingresos que se destinaría a los gastos de vivienda cada mes, incluido el pago de su hipoteca, el seguro hipotecario privado, los impuestos a la propiedad, el seguro del propietario y las cuotas de asociación.12

Para calcular su proporción de DTI al inicio, un prestamista sumará sus gastos de vivienda esperados y los dividirá por sus ingresos mensuales brutos (ingresos antes de impuestos). La proporción máxima de DTI al inicio para la mayoría de las hipotecas es del 28 por ciento. Para un préstamo respaldado por la FHA, esta proporción no debe exceder el 31 por ciento.13

Proporción de back-end

La proporción de servicios de fondo tiene en cuenta todas sus obligaciones de deuda mensuales: sus gastos de vivienda esperados MÁS las facturas de tarjetas de crédito, pagos de automóviles, pensión alimenticia o pensión alimenticia, préstamos estudiantiles y cualquier otra deuda que aparezca en su informe de crédito.12

Para calcular su relación de respaldo, un prestamista tabulará sus gastos de vivienda esperados y otros pagos mensuales de la deuda y los dividirá por sus ingresos mensuales brutos (ingresos antes de impuestos). La proporción máxima de DTI de back-end para la mayoría de las hipotecas es del 36 por ciento. Para un préstamo respaldado por la FHA, esta proporción no debe exceder el 41 por ciento.13

Calculadora de asequibilidad para el hogar

Para tener una idea de cuánto puede pagar por su hogar, visite la Calculadora de Asequibilidad del Hogar gratuita de la Asociación Nacional de Agentes de Bienes Raíces en https://www.realtor.com/mortgage/tools/affordability-calculator.

Esta práctica herramienta lo ayudará a determinar el poder de compra de su casa según su ubicación, sus ingresos anuales, sus deudas mensuales y el pago inicial. También ofrece un desglose mensual de la hipoteca que proyecta lo que pagaría cada mes en capital e intereses, impuestos a la propiedad y seguros de hogar.

La Calculadora de Asequibilidad del Hogar tiene como valor predeterminado una proporción DTI de back-end del 36 por ciento. Si la estimación del costo mensual en esa proporción es significativamente más alta que la que actualmente paga por la vivienda, debe considerar si puede compensar o no la diferencia cada mes en su presupuesto.

De lo contrario, es posible que desee reducir su precio de compra objetivo a un índice DTI más conservador. La herramienta le permite desplazarse a través de puntos de precio más altos y más bajos para ver el impacto en sus pagos mensuales para que pueda identificar su punto de precio ideal.

(Nota: esta herramienta solo proporciona una estimación de su poder de compra. Deberá obtener la aprobación previa de un prestamista hipotecario para saber el monto real de su aprobación de la hipoteca y las proyecciones de pagos mensuales).

¿Puedo permitirme comprar la casa de mis sueños?

Una vez que tenga una idea de su poder adquisitivo, es hora de averiguar qué vecindarios y qué tipo de casas puede pagar. La mejor manera de determinar esto es ponerse en contacto con un agente de bienes raíces con licencia. Ayudamos a los propietarios de viviendas como usted todos los días y podemos enviarle una lista completa de viviendas dentro de su presupuesto que satisfagan sus necesidades específicas.

Si hay hogares dentro de su rango de precios y vecindarios específicos que cumplen con sus criterios, ¡felicitaciones! Es hora de comenzar su búsqueda de casa.

De lo contrario, es posible que deba continuar ahorrando para un pago inicial más grande … o ajustar sus parámetros de búsqueda para encontrar hogares que se ajusten a su presupuesto. Podemos ayudarlo a determinar el curso correcto para usted.


Nunca es demasiado temprano para comenzar a prepararse financieramente para comprar una casa. Estos tres pasos lo pondrán en el camino hacia la propiedad de vivienda … ¡y un futuro financiero seguro!

Y si está listo para comprar ahora pero no tiene un puntaje de crédito perfecto o un gran pago inicial, no se desanime. Hay recursos y opciones disponibles que podrían permitirle comprar una casa antes de lo que cree. Podemos ayudar.

¿Quieres saber si estás listo para comprar una casa? ¡Llamanos! Lo ayudaremos a revisar sus opciones, lo conectaremos con uno de nuestros prestamistas hipotecarios de confianza y lo ayudaremos a determinar el momento ideal para comenzar su nueva búsqueda de vivienda.

Lo anterior hace referencia a una opinión y es sólo para fines informativos. No pretende ser un asesoramiento financiero. Consulte a un profesional financiero para obtener asesoramiento sobre sus necesidades individuales.

  1. Quicken Loans Blog – 
  2. myFICO – 
  3. Bankrate – 
  4. Bankrate – 
  5. myFICO – 
  6. The Balance – 
  7. Bankrate – 
  8. Bankrate – 
  9. Bankrate – 
  10. The Balance – 
  11. Investopedia – 
  12. Bankrate – 
  13. The Lenders Network –