Thursday, April 30, 2009

Around St. Charles County

  • Saturday May 2, Garden Tour and Plant Sale: 9 a.m. to noon, Saint Charles County Master Gardeners, University of Missouri Extension Center, 260 Brown Road, Saint Peters, Free
  • Friday, May 8, American Cancer Society Relay For Life St. Charles: 6 p.m.-6 a.m., St. Charles West High School Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17, 2009
  • Saturday, May 9, St. Charles County Spring Garage Sale: Family Area parking lot, 8:00 am - noon, $5 per car
  • Saturday, May 9, Lewis and Clark Heritage Days, Frontier Park, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday/9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Lewis and Clark Louisiana Purchase encampment reenactment, Crafts, food, museum tours, period music, children’s games, Fife and Drum Corps parade, Free
  • Saturday, May 16, Charity Auction begins at 9 am, Harvest Ridge Elementary School Parking lot - 15 year anniversary Garage Sale of The Woodlands, Whispering Ridge, Heatherbrook, and Nantucket Place neighborhoods
  • Saturday, May 16, Great River Rendezvous, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Canoe and kayak race on the Mississippi River, Begins in Grafton and ends at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, West Alton, Small registration fee donated to the Treehouse Wildlife Center of Madison County
  • Saturday, May 16-Sunday, June 7, Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire: Saturdays, Sundays and Memorial Day 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Rotary Park, 2577 W. Meyer Rd., Foristell, Adults-$12; seniors and students, $9; children $6
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2009 thru September 16, Music on Main: 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Food, drink and live music, Free
  • Saturday, May 30, Helmet Safety Check for Kids: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Children’s Hospital professionals, St. Charles City-County Library District, Middendorf-Kredell Library, Free

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Going Green Clinches The Sale

Green is the hot color right now and should be your color too when you sell or buy a home. Becoming attuned to the current eco-movement will make a huge difference. As a seller, you will boost the value of your home with eco-friendly improvements and give your real estate agent more features to highlight that will set your home apart from the rest.

Buyers are much smarter about their home purchases and want lasting value for the money; an energy efficient system that saves on utilities; and a clean, healthy place to live. Given the current real market, a buyer has the upper advantage and green may very well clinch the sale.

Here are some smart eco-improvements that will attract buyers and sell your house faster.

Breathe Easy
Applying a fresh coat of paint is a standard way of freshening up a home, but you really don’t want that “fresh paint” smell. To make it more comfortable and physically healthy for potential buyers, use paint low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This paint is readily available and comes in a wide array of colors.

The Hogs In The Kitchen
Two rooms attract the most attention from buyers–the kitchen and the bathroom. Here’s where you can really shine and show buyers you care about their utility bills. Upgrade old appliances with new Energy Star certified models. While this may seem expensive on the front end, the replacements will more than pay for themselves on the back end and increase traffic.

Don’t Take It For Granited
While we’re in the kitchen, take a look at those countertops. But here’s the deal; don’t automatically assume that granite is the way to go for replacement. Granite countertops may still impress some buyers, but true trendsetters will be on the lookout for kitchens that incorporate some of the hottest new materials. So, what about paper? That’s right, paper. Compressed post-recycled paper sealed with resin makes an extremely durable countertop. It’s less expensive than granite–which is not a renewable resource–and has a warm, sleek feel. Maintenance is low too. A yearly application of mineral oil will keep the countertop looking fresh and new.

Drips Are Out
Leaky faucets, showerheads and old toilets are not selling points. Now’s the time to install low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads. Did you know that showers account for 22% of the individual water use in North America? That racks up really big water and utility bills and rates will continue to rise. Take a look at that toilet too. It’s the biggest water user in the house. By installing a low water usage unit, you can save around 2,000 gallons of water a year.

It Makes Scents
Potential home buyers get a feel for a property as soon as they arrive. To give your visitors a preview of what’s inside, arrange fresh plants new the front door. Especially effective are scented geraniums and herbs that offer an aromatic experience. To spruce up your landscaping, support your state and choose native Missouri plants that grow well in local soil and weather conditions. Inside, remove any chemical room fresheners and display herbs, especially in the kitchen.

Flaunt It
When you go green to sell your home, make sure that potential buyers know about your efforts. Discrete signs here and there, noting low VOC paint, Energy Star appliances, low water usage products and native plants show that you care about your environment and that of the new owner.

For sellers who use eco-friendly techniques, your property has an edge on the competition. Take advantage of these smart tips to be green and earn more green!

Friday, April 24, 2009

With Affordability Up, Home Buyers Return to the Market


RISMEDIA, April 11, 2009-Thanks to record low mortgage rates and declining home prices, 55 million families - or half of all U.S. households - can afford today’s $200,000 median-priced new home, according to figures released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “That’s an increase of 17 million households from conditions just two years ago and the best housing affordability number we have seen in years,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, Okla. “We are now seeing the first signs that buyers are returning to the marketplace.”

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau comparing home prices, mortgage rates and minimum income needed to purchase a median-priced home in February 2007 and February 2009, a typical family today can purchase a house with $20,000 less in household income and save nearly $500 per month on their principal, interest, taxes and insurance. The number of households that can afford to purchase a home today is 55.4 million, compared with 38.4 million two years ago, according to figures compiled by NAHB.

“With affordability up dramatically, reports from our builders in the field indicate that foot traffic in new homes is on the rise and consumer interest is increasing with each passing day. These are encouraging signs that the housing market may be finally reaching a bottom,” said Robson.

Entering the crucial spring home buying season, there are other signs that buyers are starting to return to the market.

Single-family permits were up 11% in February 2009, new and existing home sales also posted gains and the huge inventory backlog is being slowly whittled down. In a survey for Century 21 Real Estate last month among prospective first-time home buyers who indicated they were likely to purchase a home in the next two years, a majority - 78% - said that now is a good time to buy a home. Of those responding to the online poll, 68% said that now is a better time to buy than six months ago.

Another sign that consumers are considering jumping back into the housing market is the growing interest in the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit included in the recently enacted economic stimulus package. During February and March 2009, 1.5 million visitors logged on to NAHB’s consumer website,, to learn more about the tax credit. Further, a new survey commissioned by Move, Inc. found that nearly 20% of those who plan to purchase a home this year are doing so to take advantage of the tax credit, which expires at the end of November.

“With home values in many markets at the lowest level since 2003, an $8,000 tax credit available to first-time home buyers, fixed-rate mortgages under 5%, and an outstanding selection of homes to choose from, buyers are starting to recognize that this has the makings for a one-time opportunity to break into the market,” said Robson.

Housing is a critical component of the U.S. economy, accounting for about 15 cents of every dollar spent in this country, so any upturn in the housing market should be viewed as good news for the overall economy, said Robson.

Construction of an additional 500,000 single-family homes - the difference between today’s anemic construction rate and one that would move closer to meeting the underlying demand for housing - would generate 734,000 jobs and $35 billion in wages in the construction industry and another 790,000 jobs and $37.7 billion wages in manufacturing, trade, and service sector jobs, he noted.

Additionally, another half-million housing starts would bolster the tax base for government, generating $45 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. And the benefits go well beyond the completion of each home. Within the first year after buying a home, those half million households will spend about $2.5 billion more on appliances, furnishings and property alterations.

“Clearly, housing will be central to any economic recovery we experience in the months ahead,” said Robson.

When buying and selling a home in St. Charles or St. Louis contact The Grant Hickman Team.

(Source RSIMedia April 11, 2009)

Monday, April 20, 2009

6 Landscaping Tricks That Wow Buyers

In today's market, sellers have to work harder to persuade buyers that their property is worth the bite.

Landscape designer Michael Glassman has cooked up a recipe for guaranteed curb appeal.

1. Add splashes of color. With every changing season, a landscape should provide a new display of colors, textures, and fragrances. "It’s best to use one or two and repeat them," Glassman says. Example: white iceberg roses that bloom in spring, summer, and fall as a backdrop; in front, a contrasting punch of purple salvia or lavender that will flower at the same time; and as an accent, a crape myrtle tree that provides changing leaf colors in fall and interesting branches come winter.

2. Size trees and shrubs to scale. These should be planted in the right scale for the house so that they don’t block windows, doors, and other architectural features on the home’s facade. A large two-story house can handle a redwood, Chinese pistache, sycamore, or scarlet oak, but a one-story cottage is better paired with a flowering cherry, crabapple, or eastern redbud. Too many trees cast too much shadow and cause potential buyers to worry about maintenance and costs.

3. Maintain a perfect lawn. A velvety green lawn demonstrates tender loving care, so be sure sellers’ homes don’t have brown spots. Some rocks, pebbles, boulders, drought-tolerant plants, and ornamental grasses will generate more kudos, especially in drought areas.

4. Light up the outside. Good illumination allows buyers to see a home at night and adds drama. Sellers should use low-voltage lamps to highlight branches of specimen trees, a front door, walk, and corners of the house. But less is better. The yard shouldn’t resemble an airport runway.

5. Let them hear the water. The sound of water appeals to buyers, and you shouldn’t just reserve this for your backyard. A small fountain accented with rocks provides a pleasant gurgling sound, blocks street noise, and is affordable.

6. Use decorative architectural elements. A new mailbox, planted window boxes, and a low fence wrapped in potato vines add cachet, particularly during winter months when fewer plants blossom. Colors should complement the landscape and home. Just don’t overdo it: Too much can seem like kitschy lawn ornaments.

Source: Michael Glassman, landscape designer, Michael Glassman and Associates, Sacramento, Calif.,

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Survey: Households Say Now Good Time to Buy

More than three-quarters (78 percent) of potential first-time home buyers say that now is a good time to buy a home, despite widespread concern about the economy.

Out of the 1,000 prospective U.S. first-time home buyers surveyed in early March for the CENTURY 21 First-Time Home Buyer Survey, 68 percent think now is a better time to buy than six months ago.

Prices are the driving motivation for potential first-time home buyers with more than eight of ten first-time home buyers (85 percent) saying they consider current home prices affordable and 73 percent citing that taking advantage of current prices is a major factor in their decision to buy.

Interestingly, potential first-time buyers are still split between “being willing to consider an offer now” (42 percent) and “waiting for prices to go down before they seriously consider making a purchase” (48 percent).

“Current pricing, rates and incentives, such as the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, provide tremendous opportunities for first-time home buyers to get into the market,” said Tom Kunz, Century 21 Real Estate president and CEO. “Our research shows that while consumers still have concerns about the future of the economy, many are actively considering their options as we move into the spring selling season.”

Among the survey’s other key findings:
  • Bargains in the marketplace are providing additional options for buyers to consider. 56 percent of potential first-time home buyers are considering purchasing a foreclosed or short sale home, and 63 percent are open to purchasing either a “fixer-upper” or “as-is” home.
  • When asked to rate the features that they look for when choosing a home, price is the primary consideration with 87 percent saying this feature is “very important,” followed closely by neighborhood safety (80 percent) and the condition of the home (71 percent).
  • Having enough money for a down payment is a top concern of potential first-time home buyers as nearly half (46 percent) said they are “very worried” about the issue.
  • Most respondents (86 percent) are in the market for single family homes.

Source: Century 21

Thursday, April 16, 2009

'Psychological' Blueprint Helps House Hunters

Environmental psychologist Toby Israel, author of a new book, Some Place Like Home: Using Design Psychology to Create Ideal Place, says people’s childhood homes have a profound effect on what kinds of homes they like best.

Before anyone buys, builds, rents or remodels, Israel believes they should consider what kinds of living spaces satisfy them, she says.

One exercise she recommends for anyone searching for a home is to draw a timeline of all the places they've lived for six months or more and circle those that they liked the best, then describe why. She calls the result a "design psychology blueprint" that can help a real estate professional identify what a client really wants.

Source: Star-Tribune, Jim Buchta (03/14/2009)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm running 13.1 miles and need your help

Hi friends, I will be running 13.1 miles this summer in an effort to bring awareness and raise funds to find a cure for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. We appreciate everyone who has donated. If you would like to make a donation RIGHT NOW simply click to make a difference!

We are Growing

Now is your chance to join The Grant Hickman Team. We are offering a unique opportunity for a qualified individual to strengthen our team. If you believe you have the drive, attention to detail, and customer service we are looking for, please contact me directly at

Low Cost Mortgage Program Helps Buyers, Sellers and Neighborhoods

What do you think of this–buying a home with an interest rate one percent below the current rate; no closing costs; no income restrictions and no points. With the current instability in the housing market, this may seem to fit in the too-good-to-be-true category.

But, it is true. The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a non-profit homeownership and advocacy organization offers this type of loan. Founded in Boston in 1988, NACA has been in the forefront of getting people into homes with mortgages they can afford. The group works with major lenders and has $10 billion in funding commitments to finance and re-finance mortgages. And, part of their mission focuses on building strong, healthy urban and rural neighborhoods, helping to stabilize the housing market.

This is a legitimate, safe opportunity to own a home that you can afford, and I can help you achieve that goal. More features of this program include:
• No down payment. However, paying one percent of the mortgage up front reduces the interest rate by .25%, a tremendous benefit.
• Perfect credit history is not required. NACA loans are based on individual credit history and positive intent to be financially responsible.
• No fees or private mortgage insurance. These costs are paid by the lender.
• Workshops and counseling. Potential mortgage holders attend a workshop to learn about this program in depth and then work with a counselor to assure success.
• Residency. Buyers must live in the home during the life of the loan. However, you can sell the property.

The aim of this program is to help people get into home ownership with fixed rate mortgages, reasonable interest rates and affordable monthly payments. Consequently, NACA programs also help homeowners who want to sell their property now.

Whether you want to buy or sell a home, I’m available to explain the NACA requirements and facilitate a mortgage that makes you comfortable. Give me a call and we’ll talk about NACA loans.

Learn more about Buying a home in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties by visiting our website.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Your Home Buying Experience

Q: Please introduce your family?
Brian & Rachel Yost (and girls)

Q: Where is your new home located?
Ballwin, MO / Parkway West School District

Q: Describe your situation when you decided to purchase your home
Our goal was to move closer to the Christian school where our girls were going to attend. We originally found a house we liked and were moving forward without an agent. However, that deal fell through and we were racing against the clock to find another house. We wanted to be moved in before the girls started school. One of Grant's team members, Cary Knobbe, spent numerous hours helping us locate another house. We wouldn't have gotten through it without him. He was patient, insightful and kept us laughing (which we needed from time to time).

Q: What concerns/fears did you have about buying a home?
Our major concern was finding the right house, especially after the deal fell through with a house that we thought was the one. We didn't want choose a house because we had to. We wanted to make sure it was the right one. In the end, we found the perfect house.

Q: How did The Grant Hickman Team help you work through those fears/concerns?
Grant's team helped us stay focused by reminding us what our top priorities were in a house.

Q: What was the best part of your home buying experience?
The best part of our home buying experience was the ability to call them anytime with questions/concerns. I wanted an agent who I could call anytime. The Grant Hickman Team was very receptive and responsive to all of our needs/wants. Also, Grant and his team have a great process in place and are very detailed oriented. They kept track of things so we didn't have to.

Q: Would you use The Grant Hickman Team to buy or sell a home in the future?
Yes. We would consider using the Grant Hickman Team again. We felt extremely comfortable with them. Toward the end, we felt like family.

Visit The Grant Hickman Team online to search homes in the St. Louis area.

First-time Buyers Drive February Sales

Existing-home sales increased in February, reversing losses in January, according to the latest report by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. However, sales activity remains relatively soft, reflecting additional layoffs and buyers waiting for housing provisions in the economic stimulus package to take effect, according to NAR.

Existing-home sales— including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops—rose 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units in February from a pace of 4.49 million units in January. Existing-home sales are 4.6 percent below the 4.95 million-unit level in February 2008. Seasonal adjustment factors are more volatile in winter months, but sales rates over the past few months show dampened sales activity, according to NAR.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says first-time buyers accounted for half of all home sales last month, with activity concentrated in lower price ranges.

“Because entry level buyers are shopping for bargains, distressed sales accounted for 40 to 45 percent of transactions in February,” he says. “Our analysis shows that distressed homes typically are selling for 20 percent less than the normal market price, and this naturally is drawing down the overall median price.”

Home Buyer Tax Credit Increases Activity

NAR President Charles McMillan says home shopping activity has picked up with housing affordability at a record high.

“The number of buyers looking for homes rose 5 percent in February, and also was 5 percent above a year ago,” he says. “It appears most of the increase in buyer traffic occurred in the latter part of the month after the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit was put in place. At the same time, mortgage purchase applications have risen, so we expect to see sales picking up around late spring.”

McMillan notes that more potential buyers are learning about the tax credit, just as the traditional spring home-buying season begins.

Existing-Home Sales Rise in February

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $165,400 in February, down 15.5 percent from a year ago when the median was $195,800 and conditions were close to normal. The median is where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

“Given the downward distortion in price comparisons due to distressed sales, it’s important for owners to keep in mind that this doesn’t equate to a similar loss of value for traditional homes in good condition,” Yun says.

Housing inventory: Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 5.2 percent to 3.80 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.7-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from January. In the six months prior to February, the total number of homes for sale had steadily declined from a record level last July.

Single-family home sales: rose 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.23 million in February from a level of 4.05 million in January, but are 3.6 percent below the 4.39 million-unit pace in February 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $164,600 in February, down 15 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales: increased 11.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 490,000 units in February from 440,000 units in January, but are 13.1 percent lower than the 564,000-unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $172,200 in February, which is 18.7 percent lower than February 2008.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 5.13 percent in February from a record low 5.05 percent in January. The rate was 5.92 percent in February 2008. Last month’s average mortgage rate was the second lowest since data collection began in 1971. Last week the rate further declined to 4.98 percent.

Regional Breakdown

Yun says a recovery in the West is much stronger than expected. “Strong sales gains in the West are led by California, where the median listing price is beginning to rise for the first time in three years,” he says.

Here's how existing-home sales fared across the country:
  • Northeast: jumped 15.6 percent to an annual pace of 740,000 in February, but 14.9 percent below February 2008. Median price: $251,200, down 4.8 percent from a year ago.
  • Midwest: increased 1 percent in February to a pace of 1.04 million but 14 percent lower than a year ago. Median price: $131,000, which is 7.8 percent below February 2008.
  • South: rose 6.1 percent to an annual pace of 1.74 million in February but 11.2 percent below February 2008. Median price: $146,700, down 10 percent from a year ago.
  • West: increased 2.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.2 million in February and remain 30.4 percent higher than a year ago. Median price: $204,600, which is 30.3 percent below February 2008.

Source: NAR

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Congratulations to The Grant Hickman Team

The Grant Hickman Team earned a host of recognitions in 2008. The team was recently honored with:
· Most Improved Production Growth (26%)
· #1 in Customer Service
· #1 in Homes Sales
· #1 in Number of Homes SOLD
· Platinum Sales Leader
· Agent of the Year
· #1 Team at SCHNEIDER Real Estate

Meet the #1 Real Estate Team

Saturday, April 11, 2009

When your mortgage application is rejected

Don't be surprised if your friendly lender, the one who invites you to sit down and apply for a mortgage, ushers you politely out the door empty-handed after you've chatted a bit.

The sudden chill isn't personal. The Mortgage Bankers Association, or MBA, in Washington, D.C., estimates that about half of all mortgage applicants are now being turned down. Though refinancing approvals remained static, the acceptance rate on mortgage applications suffered a 10 percentage-point drop, from 63 percent in the first half of 2007 to 53 percent in the first half of last year, according to mortgage data tracked semi-annually by the association. Since then, further tightening of credit standards means at least half of mortgage-seeking consumers can't squeeze through to acceptance, says MBA spokeswoman Carolyn Kemp.

Instead of yielding to shame, anger or any of the usual emotions associated with rejection, today's consumers who are intent on buying or refinancing should adopt a pragmatic stance, since clear-eyed determination may eventually land them a loan.

Here's how:

1. Get a read on the reason
If you've submitted a formal application, federal law dictates that you're entitled to a formal rejection.

Expect an "adverse action" notice, spelling out the reasons for turning you down, which these days is likely to state that the loan amount you're seeking is too large compared to the current appraised value of your home, says Joe Theisen, president of the Wisconsin Mortgage Professionals Association and branch manager of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. in Madison, Wis.

If it's not your home's value that's the issue, it may be your personal credentials, such as your creditworthiness, work history or debt load.

When credit is the issue, an adverse-action notice is required, naming the credit reporting agency that provided the data on which the lender based its decision, according to Federal Trade Commission rules. You're also entitled to a free credit report; see the FTC Web site for more information.

Given the odds of acceptance, a lender may not require you to pay a few hundred dollars to submit a formal application, which includes the cost of a professional appraisal on the property. Instead, he may pull a credit score, and tell you what you're likely eligible for, says Marc Savitt, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

2. Find a fix
Qualifying for a mortgage isn't a black-and-white issue. Rather, different loans at varying rates may be available, depending on how risky a lender thinks a particular mortgage will be. If you don't qualify at 5.5 percent, for instance, you may be able to get the nod for a loan at 6 percent or 6.5 percent.

However, many borrowers, especially those who are refinancing, need a certain rate to reach the monthly payment they want. Not only are rates higher for risky loans, but there are now upfront "point" charges dictated by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two big mortgage guarantors currently under government control, Savitt says.

To get a good rate, some borrowers may be able to make changes — like lowering the amount of the loan they seek.

When a borrower isn't far from the qualifying mark, he may be able to reapply and be approved relatively quickly. For instance, if you're within reach of a 740 credit score, which is usually required for the best rate, you might pay down a balance on a credit card and hit the target, Theisen says.

3. Seek out other opinions
Not every lending firm adheres strictly to the same playbook, and one lender may approve what another rejects, says Savitt, who recently had a borrower with good credit turned down for a low down payment, government-insured loan, but found another firm giving the green light.

A local "community bank," meaning a smaller, hometown institution, may be more flexible, contends Diane Scriveri, chief lending officer at Bogota Savings Bank in Teaneck, N.J., and vice chair of the affordable housing committee of the New Jersey League of Community Banks.

"Because we're local, we may know home values better. We still use independent appraisals of course, but we may look at comparable (home values) differently because we know what's really happening in different neighborhoods," she says.

Credit unions, which only offer loans to consumers who qualify for credit union membership, may also be more forgiving, says Tony Emerson, president of the Credit Union League of Connecticut.

"It would be foolhardy to suggest that in every case, you can go to a credit union and get a loan," Emerson says.

Still, he says, some credit unions may judge loan eligibility based upon the unique relationship they have with their members. For instance, many credit unions offer membership to employees of specific companies and would know more about a member's job stability, he says.

4. Give it another try
The Mortgage Bankers Association is predicting that 30-year fixed rates will hover near the 5 percent range through 2009. So if predictions hold and interest rates stay relatively low, you should have time to try again if the factors behind your rejection improve.

Fortunately, a rejection shouldn't bring down your credit scores, says Craig Watts, public relations director for Fair Isaac Corp.

Making a formal application and then reapplying more than a month later could lower your score, but only by about 5 points. Most scoring systems allow consumers to make multiple mortgage applications within a 30-day period without any negative impact on their credit score. But mortgage inquiries older than 30 days will count as a single inquiry if they're made within a 14-day or 45-day window, depending on the scoring model used.

(March. 22, 2009, via

Buy a Home in St. Charles Missouri

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Will Foreclosure Affect Credit Scores?

The amount of damage to a credit score caused by foreclosure, deed in lieu or a short sale during 2008 and 2009 may be mitigated by the slower economic times, say some credit and legal experts.

FICO may have to adjust its credit scores to lessen the impact of a foreclosure in the last two years, says Todd J. Zywicki, a professor of law at George Mason University.

''It just seems obvious that a foreclosure in 2008 or 2009 doesn't have as much information value as a foreclosure five years ago,'' he says. ''To the extent that foreclosure doesn't predict future behavior as much as it did in the past, you'd expect that the FICO algorithm would change to adjust for that.''

One of the country’s largest credit unions Golden 1 has already figured out a way to lend to people with a foreclosure on their record by offering a mortgage repair loan specifically for those who have lost a home to foreclosure and who want to buy a new one.

BECU, another large credit union based in Washington State, is about to present a program to fellow lenders, ''How to Lend to the Newly Credit Impaired.”

Source: The New York Times, Ron Lieber (03/14/2009)

Sell your St. Louis or St. Charles home

Spotlight on Accent Closets

Q: Please introduce yourself?
Rebecca Dutton, Custom Closet Designer

Q: What is the name of your business?
Accent Closets

Q: Where is your business located?
94 Algana Ct., St.Peters, MO 63376

Q: Briefly describe what you/ your business does.
Accent Closets provides St. Louis, St. Charles and the surrounding communities with affordable consultation, design and installation of custom storage solutions. We do closets, kitchen pantries, linen closets, laundry rooms, mudrooms, hobby/craft rooms, home offices and garage organization systems including epoxy flooring. We provide our customers with a free in-home consultation that includes computerized drawings of the project and on the spot price quotes. Once the decision is made, the project is installed in only 5-7 business days!

Q: How many years have you been in business?
Accent Closets was founded 6 years ago.

Q: Do you have a Website Address?
Yes, please visit us at

Q: What’s the best way for someone to get a hold of you if they have further questions?
Call Rebecca at 636-219-1672 with any questions or to schedule your free in-home consultation.

Expert Real Estate Services and Systems in St. Charles and St. Louis Missouri

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mortgage Rates Drop Below 5%

Freddie Mac reports a drop in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.98 percent during the week ended March 19 from 5.03 percent the prior year, marking the lowest rate since 4.96 percent in mid-January.

Experts say rates could fall further in response to the Federal Reserve's announcement that it will add $1.2 trillion to the economy to alleviate the credit crisis.

Source: Tulsa World (Okla.) (03/20/09)

Buy a Home in St. Charles Missouri

4 Tips to Make a Home More Inviting

Model homes are important tools for builders because they help buyers fall in love with a home.

Phyllis Ryan, president of the model-home division of Interior Concepts, a Maryland design firm that specializes in furnishing new homes, has some tips that might benefit anyone who is selling a home.

  • A stylish kitchen appeals to many buyers. If a sellers has upgraded cabinets and granite countertops, that’s good. If they don’t, it may help to display some stylish touches like an espresso machine, a retro toaster or just some luscious fruit.
  • Lots of light makes spaces feel larger. Turn on all the lights even during the day and add a few extra lights if necessary.
  • The master bedroom should seduce a buyer. Play soft jazz, pile the bed high with a cushy comforter and pillows. Stack plush towels in the bathroom.
  • Add drama to a bottleneck or a dead end space. Prop an oversize mirror against the wall. It visually ops a space and adds drama.

Source: Washington Post, Elizabeth Razzi (03/14/2009)

Expert Real Estate Services and Systems in St. Charles and St. Louis Missouri