How to Improve Your Credit Score



Is your credit score lagging? Here are four ways you can change that.


If your credit score isn’t as high as you’d like, here are a few things you can do to improve it.


First, find out what your credit score is specifically. You can find this out online at places like They’ll also provide you with a full credit report so you’re aware of what’s affecting your credit score.


Second, try increasing your credit limit. This sounds crazy, but if you increase your credit limit from, say, $5,000 to $7,500 without actually spending that much, you’ll improve your credit score.

You can also become an authorized user. If you have a spouse or a family member who has better credit than you, they can allow you to become an authorized user of their credit. This will improve your credit without affecting theirs, and they can remove you anytime they want.


"In some cases, getting an extra line of credit can help you."


Lastly, you can open another account. In some cases, getting an extra line of credit can help you. A lot of younger homebuyers out there don’t have many credit accounts, and that’s hurting their score more than helping it. For example, if you have one account and you’re not borrowing on anything, that’s not doing you any good.


If you’d like to know more about how you can improve your credit score, try talking to a lender. They’re experts on this subject and would be glad to help you.


If you have any more real estate questions, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to speaking with you.


Why Is It so Important to Speak With a Lender First?



As a buyer, meeting with a lender before setting foot in a property can be a difference-maker for a number of reasons that we’ll look at today.


Spring is an especially busy time in our market with buyers bustling around looking at properties. Amid the excitement, some make the mistake of jumping in head first without first meeting with a lender.  


If you’re a buyer who’s itching to get out there and view some properties, I know you’re wondering, Why is it so important to speak to a lender first?


There are a few reasons why:


In search of the perfect property for you, we want to make sure we pinpoint your exact budget and the price point you’ll fall within. A lender is integral to this stage—they’ll help you qualify, budget, and work closely with you and your agent to arrive at a good budget range.


Some buyers enter the process believing their affordability will be somewhere in the $500,000 range, only to learn, thanks to their lender, that they can afford as much as $700,000. Without the help of a lender, it’s easy to underestimate how much you can afford as a buyer.


"Without the help of a lender, it’s easy to underestimate how much you can afford as a buyer. "


Further, a lender can offer advice on how you can give your credit score a nice bump so that you’ll be able to afford more, qualify for more, and also secure a lower interest rate on your home.  


Lastly, when you find that perfect home, it’s imperative that you strike while the iron is hot, but without pre-approval from a lender, writing an offer won’t do any good—your offer won’t be competitive or considered a serious option by the seller.    


If you’re buying a home and would like to talk with a great lender, I’d be more than happy to put you in touch with some of the great lenders I work with. For any other real estate-related questions, feel free to reach out to me as well. I look forward to speaking with you soon!


Who Are the Active Parties in the Home Buying Process?



Today we’ll talk about the active parties who help you, the buyer, progress toward getting into your new home.



From the contract stage to the closing stage of the real estate transaction, there are parties making it all work—but who are these active parties and what do they do?


Of all the parties involved, your Realtor acts as your go-to person. They’re your ticket to getting into properties, and they’ll stay on top of what properties are “coming soon” as well as those that are off-market. If all goes right, your Realtor will get you into one of these homes before it ever even hits the market.


The Realtor you hire will provide you with advice as to price points and the sale history of any neighborhoods you’re looking in. This way, they can give you an educated judgment on what you should offer.


Once you go under contract, you’ll need to have an inspection and a title company lined up, and most Realtors have those pre-existing relationships so they can make recommendations.


Because it’s common for Realtors to know other Realtors, there’s a chance yours will know the listing agent on the other side, and you can find out what some of the seller’s pains are. This will hopefully allow you to better accommodate the seller with your offer.


Another party with an active role in the process is the inspector. As mentioned, you’ll have an inspection performed on the home once you’ve gone under contract on it. The inspector will leave no stone unturned when examining the home—the appliances, roof, HVAC system, and various safety issues will all be looked at. From there, they’ll document the items that will be a detriment unless repaired and those that just need to be monitored.


"Of all the parties involved, your Realtor acts as your go-to person."


Around the same time, you’ll be working with a lender. If you haven’t been pre-approved at this point, you’ll need to do so before submitting an offer. Here, your lender will schedule an appraisal for you, which will ensure that the property’s selling price and its actual value correspond.


The lender plays a vital part in the process because, without them, you won’t have the funding for your purchase. This can be a scary process, and a good lender will actively pick up the phone when you call.


The final party you’ll be communicating with is the title or settlement company, and as a neutral party in the transaction, their role is to make sure that the contract’s terms are abided by on the buyer and seller side—this includes everything from the earnest money to homeowners insurance and more.


If you have any questions about today’s topic or anything else real estate-related, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to help however I can!

How Many People Are Involved in a Real Estate Transaction?



It takes a lot of people to take a transaction from contact to close, and we’ll be highlighting a few of the key players in a real estate deal for you today.


Between the agents, the lender, the buyers and sellers themselves, and many others, there are a lot of people involved in any given real estate deal.


A real estate agent will be the main player in the transaction regardless of which side you’re on. However, their role in the deal will vary depending on whether you’re buying or selling.


A buyer’s agent is responsible for helping you find and visit properties you’re interested in. They’re charged with ensuring your experience is as seamless as possible and with providing the guidance necessary to make that happen.


It’s also important to realize that because buyer’s agents often work as seller’s agents also (or at least have close relationships with local seller’s agents), they’ll know about listings coming to the market before they go live. When looking for the perfect home, make sure you fully leverage the knowledge and resources available to you through your agent.


"A real estate agent will be the main player in the transaction regardless of which side you’re on."


A seller’s agent, on the other hand, is responsible for helping their clients market their properties to as wide an audience as possible so that they can sell quickly and for top dollar. Similarly to a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent is there to guide their client by offering advice and assistance throughout the deal.


Of course, agents are the only professionals at play in a transaction. For buyers, connecting with a lender early on is critical, as doing so will give you a clear idea of what you can afford before you begin your home search. As with agents, though, not all lenders are the same. The ideal lender will be readily available to answer any questions, and will work closely with buyers to provide them a favorable rate.


Also, here in D.C., title companies employ attorneys to verify the contract is carried out to the letter. This attorney doesn’t work for the buyer or the seller, but they’re still a major player in the transaction.


If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

How to Get a Seller’s Attention in Multiple-Offer Scenarios



The spring selling frenzy is here, so if you’re planning to purchase a home, consider these tips for how to outshine other offers.


With the beginning of the spring market, we can expect high levels of activity; an influx of sellers are listing their home and more buyers are set to make a purchase.


However, demand usually tops supply at this time of year, so there aren’t enough houses for all the buyers that are out house-hunting. Many multiple-offer situations tend to pop us as a consequence of this imbalance, so, if you’re a buyer, how can you ensure your offer stands out in that kind of environment?


It goes without saying that you first want to consider the price. The highest price doesn’t always win, but it’s certainly part of a winning formula. I encourage my clients to put their best foot forward and make a meaningful offer on a house they love so that, if outbid, they won’t be left feeling disappointed, because they’ll know you gave it your best shot.


Next, consider the contingencies. In most cases, this includes the home inspection, an appraisal, and a finance contingency. Waiving any of those will cause you to shine compared to your competitors.


"Because most offers are usually similar, writing a letter to the seller will make yours seem a little more than ordinary."


A word to the wise: Have a pre-inspection done on the home so that you won’t be met by any surprises, should your offer be accepted. If the pre-inspection doesn’t turn up anything particularly concerning, waive the home inspection.


Before waiving the appraisal, talk to your lender, your agent, your spouse, or anyone else involved with the transaction.


As far as the finance contingency is concerned, if waiving is not an option, find a lender that will run you through underwriting quickly and, if possible, trim the process down to 10 days as opposed to the 21-day standard. In the event that you are able to waive it, I recommend doing so.


One lesser-known trick that I suggest to buyers is to write a letter to the seller. If the home is perfectly aligned with your vision for you and your family to make memories and spend many happy years there, write about it and how you felt when you walked into the home for the first time. Because most offers are usually similar, this will make yours seem a little more than ordinary.


If you have questions or would like to talk more about what you can do to make your offer stand out in the crowd of offers, feel free to contact me. I look forward to talking with you soon!

Breaking Down the Earnest Money Process for Buyers




Buyers often wonder what they can expect after handing over their earnest money. Today I’ll answer that and more.


When I work with buyers, there’s never a shortage of questions regarding earnest money. They’re curious about how much they can expect to spend, who holds it, and how it’s protected. I’ll answer these questions and more today:  


“How much can I expect to spend?”

In the Washington, D.C. area, earnest money accounts for 3% to 5% of the sale price on average.


“Who holds the earnest money?”

It should always be held by a title company.


“How is the earnest money protected?”

This is a high-priority question for buyers because, obviously, no one wants to lose their deposit. To answer this question, I’ll enumerate the different types of contingencies that I often write into each contract:


Home inspection contingency: This part of the contract will contain specific timetables for the inspection and the response concerning the inspector’s findings. If, say, the contingency is for seven days, we have that much time to get the inspection done, receive the report, and decide whether we want to negotiate the items found or nullify the contract altogether. Should we decide to void, you’ll sign a release agreement, thereby allowing you to reclaim your earnest money.


Appraisal contingency: As a general rule, I use 15 days for this contingency. The lender will order the appraisal and we won’t need to be present. If the home’s appraised value turns out to be lower than the sale price, it’s your right to void the contract and reclaim your money.


Finance contingency: Here, I use between 21 and 23 days. When you go to contract, you may have a pre-approval, but the financing doesn’t stop there—your lender will request more documentation and probe a little deeper into your financial situation. At the end of the three weeks, if the lender has decided against approving your loan, they’ll write a letter releasing you from the contract. With this letter, you’ll be able to get your earnest money back.


How soon is the earnest money due?”

Ordinarily, I’ll write a five- to a seven-day deadline. More competitive offers will probably require a quicker payment; this could be anywhere from one to three days.


The method by which you pay the earnest money can be a personal check, a wire transfer, or cashier’s check.


If you have any questions regarding earnest money or any other question related to real estate, please get in touch with me. I’d love to help however I can!