Real Estate Information Archive


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USNews Projects 2011 housing market bottom

by Mark Brace

Homeowners. Americans have lost about $9 trillion worth of household wealth since 2007, largely because of falling home values. The rout isn't over, unfortunately. Most forecasters think home values will decline another 5 to 10 percent in 2011 nationally, as high unemployment causes more foreclosures and a glut of homes pushes prices down. The good news, if there is any, is that the housing market may finally hit bottom in 2011, with home values stabilizing after five years of declines. That doesn't mean home prices will shoot up any time soon. But once buyers believe that prices have stopped falling, they'll be more inclined to buy, the first step back toward a healthy housing market. Stabilizing home values will also help owners do better financial planning, since they'll have a firm idea what their home is worth.

Source-, On Tuesday December 21, 2010

A Handy Mortgage Reference Guide for Risky Borrowers

by Mark Brace

Mortgage Update:

Serious credit problems are happening to a lot of people these days.  Here’s a handy reference chart on waiting periods if clients have a bankruptcy, Grand Rapids Foreclosures or Grand Rapids Short Sales.


Bankruptcy Chapter 7 or 11: 2 Year Waiting Period (Only 1 yr with extreme extenuating circumstances exist)

Bankruptcy Chapter 13: 1 Year Waiting Period with 12 months satisfactory payments to Trustee. Must have court permission to buy a new home.

Foreclosure: 3 Year Waiting Period

Short Sale if Borrower is Current at Time of Short Sale: No wait time if all mortgage debts are paid on time for 12 months preceding short sale.

Short Sale if Borrower is delinquent at Time of Short Sale: 3 Year waiting period from date of sale.

How to Transform a Good Credit Score to a Great Credit Score!

by Mark Brace

by Sally Herigstad

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Question: I'm planning to buy a house in about six months, so I'd really like my credit score to be in the 800s by then. I already pay my bills on time. How can I make my credit score off-the-charts great?

The good news is that 750 is more than "pretty good." Many lenders say they offer their best rates to customers with scores of about 720 or better.

However, in today's credit market, it's better to have a higher score than is absolutely necessary. And most of the tactics you'll use to raise your score make good financial sense anyway. I think working to improve your credit score from good to great is a very worthy goal!

Credit scores are no longer any mystery. They're based on how you pay, what you owe, how long you've been paying and other factors. Here's what affects the widely used FICO credit scoring model and by how much:

Making all your payments on time accounts for 35 percent of your FICO score. You're doing great on that. However, even having a 100 percent perfect payment history would leave 65 percent of your score to be determined by other factors.

Thirty percent of your FICO score is calculated from debt levels in proportion to the amount of credit you have available. Even if you never go over your credit limits or miss a payment, if you're constantly almost bumping against your credit limit, you're at a higher risk of default -- from a creditor's perspective.

Fifteen percent of your score -- a significant amount -- is based on length of credit history. There's no way to change this number quickly, which is why it's impossible for younger people to have perfect credit scores.

Ten percent of your credit score is based on any recent applications for credit. The more recent the applications, the lower your score. The credit scoring model's reasoning is that people who are running short of cash often start looking for more sources of credit.

The last 10 percent of your score is based on your credit mix. That's your history of carrying various types of credit; for instance, a car or home loan in addition to credit cards.

When you know what affects your score, you can concentrate on the changes that will have the biggest impact. Here's how you can have a higher score in just six months:

Month 1: Get a copy of your free credit report. Then, correct any errors you find on your report. Start this process now -- not all mistakes are fixed on the first try.

Month 2: Improve debt levels by paying down credit card balances. Your balances at any time during the month should be no more than 30 percent of your available credit. If necessary, apply now for one additional credit card or request higher limits on your existing cards. New applications temporarily ding your score, but it should recover before you need your home loan. (Don't open a slew of new cards, and by all means, don't spend that new available credit!)

Month 3: If your credit report only shows credit cards, improve your credit mix by asking other creditors to report your information to the bureaus. According to, creditors such as student loan lenders, credit unions and local retailers are not required to report credit information, but it never hurts to ask.

Do not buy a car or anything else just to improve your credit mix score. It doesn't help your score enough to be worth the money you spend.

Revive any old accounts you haven't used in awhile so they will be reported and improve your length of credit history score. One transaction every six months is enough to keep an account active.

Month 4: Set up automatic payments. Even one late payment can hurt a decent credit score. Depending on your normal checking account balance, set up an automatic payment just large enough to keep you from ever making a late payment, or create multiple payments to keep your card balance close to zero throughout the month. When your bill comes, pay what's left.

Month 5: To make sure your credit card balances are reported as low to the credit bureaus before you go loan shopping, start using mainly cash as much as possible now. You can also go online and check your credit card balances before the credit card statement period ends and pay it off early to keep from having your balance reported at its highest point.

Month 6: Do all your rate shopping for a mortgage loan within a short period of time so you don't get dinged for multiple credit inquiries.

Good luck and enjoy your new home!

Get the Lead Out Program!!

by Mark Brace

The Get the Lead Out! program helps homeowners protect their children from lead poisoning.  Parents who participate in the program can remove dangerous lead hazards from their homes before children are poisoned.  And then there is the added benefit of all the repairs, which often include new windows, new siding, and fresh paint!

Click on this link to learn more about Grand Rapids "Get the Lead Out!" Program:

Presentation is Everything!!

by Mark Brace

When the Sellers Aren't Selling
Remind Them: "Presentation is Everything!"

At times the sellers themselves thwart the efforts of the Real Estate Agent. Nothing can be quite as frustrating as trying to pull all the weight when someone else is adding to the burden by being uncooperative!

If you have a seller who is not making sure their home is presentable to a potential buyer, remind them that, in a competitive market with more inventory than we've seen in some time, presentation is everything! By eliminating points the potential buyer may find fault with and bringing out the positive amenities, they are more likely to sell the home and get the price they are asking for. Here are just a few tips that will help them support your efforts as their representative in the transaction:

Let There Be Light. Buy some 100-watt bulbs to brighten the rooms, and open curtains or blinds to let light in. Unless a window faces a brick wall or some type of eyesore, open the drapes!

Garage, Not Garbage. Have a garage sale to clean out the clutter and make the garage more spacious. Your clients are moving and will need to start organizing anyway, so why wait until the last minute? Clean up oil spots in the garage or carport with a good cleanser to remove that "lived-in" appearance. The home may not be brand new, but it's new to the potential buyer.

Make Scents. Get a nice potpourri air freshener, or keep some refrigerated cookie dough on hand to throw in the oven when a prospect is coming over. Make the house smell like a home.

Paint-relief. Consider re-painting any areas that need to be touched up, especially the front door and entryway, and any appliances that are showing their age.

Power Plants. Trim down any jungles outside, especially if they cover the house. Get rid of any half-dead houseplants. Water the lawns briefly before any visit, and keep the lawns mowed and edged.

The Price is Right. Price may be a sensitive issue, but with increased inventories and declining home values in many neighborhoods, remind your clients that every shopper in a buyers' market is determined to get the best deal possible. Let them know that now is a good time to compare their house with others on the market in the same area, because the right price is the one thing that will sell their house faster than anything else.

The World is Your Stage. Professional staging can help to showcase the best side of a home, create more interest, and get your clients top dollar. With increased inventories, staging could provide the competitive edge you need.

These tips were derived from 33 Ways to Sell Your Home Fast!, an info-marketing booklet.

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

Contact Information

Mark Brace, Realtor, ABR, GRI, CRS, SRES, e-PRO, A
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate
3000 East Beltline NE
Grand Rapids MI 49525
Direct: (616) 447-7025
Cell: (616) 540-7705
Fax: (616) 447-7025

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Michigan Real Estate is a full service, locally operated real estate brokerage company backed by the strength of a solid national and global brand. Our full service businesses include Residential, Commercial, Relocation, Mortgage, Insurance, Home Services and New Homes & Land. Our core values, service philosophy, cutting edge technology, and most importantly our people are what make us the leading real estate company in Michigan. We are committed to providing the highest quality real estate services possible and making each customer's experience one that surpasses their expectations.