Mortgage Loan Originator – An Optimal Career Choice for Many

For individuals who feel unfulfilled in their jobs and stuck in the day-to-day shuffle, the professional road may seem bleak at times. However, for many, a career as a mortgage loan originator (MLO) offers the income potential, flexibility and sense of fulfillment that tops many other career choices.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Pay and Flexibility

In May 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that mortgage loan originators earned an average annual salary of $59,820.  Overall employment of loan officers was predicted by the BLS to increase eight percent from 2010-2022, identical to the average for all careers.  And, because MLOs are not required to have a 4-year degree, although several pre-application requirements are needed to secure an MLO license, the option of pursuing a career as an MLO can be an attractive option for individuals who may not possess a higher education.

The above-average earning potential and the ability to earn a commission on top of a base salary, coupled with the flexibility and freedom of being able set your own schedule, makes a MLO career an optimal choice for those who are dedicated, disciplined and eager to succeed.

“If you are ready for a job that will allow you to form lasting relationships with clients … and challenge yourself daily, a loan officer position may be right for you. Loan officers are often able to schedule their jobs around their other responsibilities, including family events—meaning your job may be great not only for you but for those around you, as well!” said a California mortgage company, Cherry Creek in “The Perks of Being a Loan Officer.”

Room for Advancement

While there isn’t a long hierarchy of MLOs positions, MLOs have the ability to advance their career in a variety of ways, contrary to popular belief. MLOs can be promoted within a firm to Senior Loan Officer, receive raises in base salary and/or commission percentage, earn additional education and licensing and eventually even employ or lead a team of their own loan officers.

Intangible Benefits 

Apart from the tangible benefits, working as an MLO provides a daily sense of accomplishment and community.  For many established MLOs, working with families to help them land the home of their dreams is both satisfying and rewarding. Although the benefits each mortgage company offers their MLOs differs, the competitive rise of this industry is triggering many companies to hone in on benefits that foster MLO retention and success. Benefits such as a collaborative corporate culture, specialized training, mortgage processing tools, marketing, public relations, social media support and other in-house support such as compliance and legal support are all becoming increasingly important as mortgage companies search for ways to bring in new opportunities.  At Southeast Mortgage, we arm our MLOs with a streamlined 8-day close, a client relationship management team that focuses on referrals and repeat business and an open-door management philosophy that sets the foundation for MLO success. To learn more about Southeast Mortgage or to apply for a position, visit our website.

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The Cal-Culator Turns One!

We’re excited to share that it has been one year since Atlanta was introduced to The Cal-Culator, Atlanta’s first residential real estate index. The inaugural index was 5.1 when we began last summer. For comparison’s sake, in July 2007 when Atlanta home prices were at their peak, the Cal-Culator would have been a 9. Approximately 18 months ago in March 2012, the Cal-Culator would have been a 1.5. Now, the Cal-Culator stands at a very respectful 6.3, a 0.1-increase from last month. Increased inventory, increased new single-family homes and continued declining foreclosures contributed to the slight increase in the index.

The September Cal-Culator

The September Cal-Culator

Home Sales

Since August, sales of newly built, single-family homes have been at the highest level in six years. Sales of new single-family homes in August rose 18 percent nationally from July and 33 percent above 2013 levels, according to the latest data released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development on September 24. The South posted a 7.8 percent change month-to-month and a 27.2 percent increase from 2013.

“This robust level of new-home sales activity is a good sign that the housing recovery is moving towards higher ground,” said National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist David Crowe. “Historically low mortgage rates, attractive home prices and firming job and economic growth should keep the housing market moving forward in 2014.”

The data also reflected a slight increase in inventory, which now stands at a 4.8-month supply.

Unfortunately, after four consecutive months of gains, existing-home sales fell 1.8 percent nationally and 4.2 percent in the South in August, according to The National Association of Realtors.

“There was a marked decline in all-cash sales from investors,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “On the positive side, first-time buyers have a better chance of purchasing a home now that bidding wars are receding and supply constraints have significantly eased in many parts of the country.”

Foreclosures

CoreLogic’s latest report on foreclosures revealed a 22.2 percent decline in foreclosure   nationally year-over year, though Georgia is still fifth on the list of states with the highest number of foreclosures. The 12-month sum of completed foreclosures is at its lowest point in nearly seven years.

Though August marked the 34th month of consecutive foreclosure decline, economists still have significant concerns about the current state of homeownership.

“Clearly there has been a large improvement in the market the last few years, but five years into the economic expansion the foreclosure inventory remains at nearly three times the normal level,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic.

Home Prices

Though home price gains have eased, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indicies showed that the 20-City Composite (where Atlanta is included) had a small increase of 0.5 percent month-over-month, according to data released September 30. Atlanta also posted a 0.5 percent month-over-month increase and a 6.7 percent 1-year change.

Join us next month on November 11 for the October Cal-Culator as we hope to continue into the index’s second year with positive gains in the housing industry.

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Lenders, Rates and Down Payments: Home Mortgage FAQs Answered!

Because purchasing a home is one of the most complex financial transactions a consumer will make in his or her life, it’s no surprise that mortgage loan originators (MLOs) are constantly being asked for advice or clarification about the confusing, ever changing mortgage industry. We’ve compiled some of the most basic frequently asked questions about the difference between securing a loan from an independent loan officer versus a bank, mortgage rates and down payments.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Q: What is the difference between securing a loan through a large bank versus through an independent loan originator?

The customer service and service offerings is the main difference between bank and non-bank lenders. Though it may be cliché, you won’t be just a number to an independent lender, unlike at most banks. Because banks only have access to a strict number of loans they only offer insight on those types of loans. Non-bank lenders have access to a broader pool of loan types and can advise borrowers on the best loan for their specific situation, regardless of whether the lender offers that loan.

At a bank, the loan officer merely hands off the borrower’s application to the underwriting department, which doesn’t work as a representative for the borrower. A non-bank lender works directly with the underwriter to best ensure loan approval. Lastly, contrary to popular belief, rates aren’t necessarily more expensive through an independent loan officer.

“In fact, in many cases, the rates are somewhat lower, partly because independent mortgage [bankers] typically have more loan sources available to them compared to the big banks, which usually just have a handful of loan products to offer prospective homeowners,” said Forbes in “Secrets of a Mortgage Loan Officer.”

Q: Tell me more about fixed rates versus variable rates. 

Many consumers know the basics of fixed vs. variable-rate mortgages. A fixed-rate mortgage offers a straightforward monthly interest rate and monthly loan amount   that remains consistent for the entire term of the loan while a variable-rate mortgage (also known as an adjustable-rate mortgage) is a type of loan in which the interest rate fluctuates as market rates change. However, many consumers are unsure of which loan is best suited for them. Fixed rates are ideal for homeowners who plan to stay in their house for many years and prefer the stability of unwavering payments rather than the unpredictability of variable rates. Adjustable-rate mortgages are a good option for homebuyers who plan on staying in the house for a few years, allowing them to save money on interest payments in the short run.

Q: Is 20 percent still the golden standard for a down payment?

The short answer: Yes. A smart rule of thumb is always try to put 20 percent down. Although there are many loan options, which require smaller down payments, having a 20 percent down payment helps you establish instant equity in your home.  Plus, you’ll avoid private mortgage insurance (extra insurance that borrowers usually must take on when their down payment is less than 20 percent).  A 20 percent down payment can potentially save you tens of thousands over time with your lowered interest rate and, of course, you’ll have a smaller monthly payment.

Have a question that wasn’t answered? Email info@southeastmortgage.com  and we’ll try to address your questions in an upcoming column!

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Atlanta Home Prices Fuel Atlanta Real Estate Growth

Though Labor Day traditionally signals the end of summer, the Atlanta residential real estate market is showing no signs of hitting a typical fall decline. The August Cal-Culator, Atlanta’s residential real estate index, rose 0.1 from July to reach a 6.2, the record that was set by the June index. Large home price increases in Atlanta, continued falling foreclosure numbers and increased affordability, partly due to increased inventory, led to the rise in the index.

The August Cal-Culator

The August Cal-Culator

Home Prices

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices’ report released on August 26 revealed that while U.S. home prices “sustained slowdown in price increases,” nationally home prices rose 6.2 percent in the last year, while Atlanta posted an 8.6 percent change year over year, including distressed properties.

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index Report discovered that Atlanta had the fourth largest increase in home prices in U.S. metro regions during the past year.

“Most states are reaching price levels not seen since the boom year of 2006,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Our data indicates that this trend will continue with more states hitting new all-time peaks at this year and into 2015 as the recovery continues.”

Inventory and Affordability

The inventory crunch that has plagued the nation remains tight although inventory has been on the rise, according to Zillow’s Real Estate Market Report. Partly due to increased inventory, homes remain affordable in 94 of the country’s largest 100 metro regions compared to historical averages. Unfortunately for renters, rent is more expensive than ever in 88 of the markets. As home prices took a drop during the recession, rents maintained their upward trajectory.

Foreclosures

CoreLogic’s latest National Foreclosure Report shows the number of completed foreclosures fell 21.2 percent year over year and 8.5 percent from the previous year, both good signs that the total number of homes lost to foreclosure is declining.

“Based on current trends, the overall foreclosure inventory could trend down to as low as 500,000 homes by year end which is very positive news for the housing market,” said Nallathambi.

Georgia, however, continues to suffer from a high number of foreclosures. Georgia rounded out the top five states that account for nearly half of all completed foreclosures in the nation.

Home Sales

Despite the positive data, August did see disappointing news in terms of new-home sales, according to the latest data by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sales of new single-family homes fell 2.4 percent in July. However, regionally, sales were up 8.1 percent in the South from the previous month and 33.2 percent from last year.

“We are somewhat surprised by this dip, considering builder confidence and new-home starts is on the rise,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “However, builders are increasing their level of inventory in anticipation that sales will gradually improve during the rest of the year.”

The September Cal-Culator will be released October 7. We will reveal then if the momentum will continue into fall.

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First-time Homebuyers: Make Foresight 20/20

With any first experience, mistakes are bound to happen as you tread unfamiliar territory. As Atlanta’s real estate sizzles, the inventory crunch eases and mortgage lenders begin to ease underwriting standards, more hopeful homebuyers are taking the plunge into buying their first home.

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Buying your first home can be a daunting task.   Because the stakes are so high, one bad mistake can be financially and emotionally devastating.  Luckily for today’s first-time homebuyers, there is a wealth of online information to help you avoid the typical pitfalls of buying a home and help you learn from others’ past mistakes. We discuss some of the top mistakes new home buyers make, many of which can be avoided by planning responsibly for the future and not allowing yourself to get too swept up in the thrill of making your first home purchase.

Forgoing Home Inspection

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, 10 percent of newly purchased homes aren’t inspected. A $500 two-hour inspection (a rough estimate) can save thousands of dollars in damages later while educating you about the home under consideration.

It’s important to remember that a home on the market has been “spruced up” to accentuate its best features and minimize its potential flaws.  You need to make certain that the things you don’t see are in good working order.  To protect yourself, it’s wise to make the purchase of the home contingent on your approval of the home inspection report.  Learning upfront about water damage in the attic, foundation cracks, gas leaks or that the AC unit is about to go will offer you more leverage when making an offer. Depending on the results of the inspection report you can decide to reduce your offer, make the seller responsible for repairs or you can back out of the deal altogether.

“It takes a trained eye to be able to see the problems that can exist in a home,” said Bill Loden, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. “The inspection can also give the first-time buyer a bit of a schooling on the house and how to maintain it.”

Too Much Online Faith

Though Zillow and Trulia ease many burdens of home shopping, some people consider the two listings websites, as the be all and end all.  However, relying exclusively on the Internet for listings can give you a skewed cost of actual value. The recommended value of the property online isn’t necessarily what the seller believes it to be or even what it’s actually worth.

Online listings also can’t accurately portray neighborhood friendliness, the view from the balcony, surrounding nightlife or other factors that may be important to you.

Just like you wouldn’t solely judge a person based on their online profile, you shouldn’t base your decision about a home merely by looking at its online profile. It’s important to check out any homes of interest in person to get a true feel for what the home has to offer.

Overlooking Hidden Costs

Unfortunately, even though you feel ready to be your own landlord or purchase a home that your future children can grow up in, it doesn’t mean you’re financially ready. Homeownership costs extend far beyond monthly mortgage payments and the costs accrue even before you sign the contract. When looking at your finances, make sure you factor in closing costs, moving costs, the home inspection, escrow fees, home insurance, property taxes, costs of repairs and maintenance, possible homeowners association fees and more.

Buying a home shouldn’t be a financial strain and stressor. The purchase of a new home should be an exciting experience that ultimately elevates the quality of your life while serving as an investment in your future. Before you take the plunge, take the time to avoid common pitfalls and factor in all financial aspects to avoid drowning in stress and debt.

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Atlanta Summer Real Estate and Recovery Begins to Simmer

After a record-breaking month for the Atlanta residential real estate index, the sizzling summer is beginning to simmer, as data and analysts believe that recovery is showing signs of stalling. The July Cal-Culator posts a 6.1 rating, a 0.1-drop from the previous month. Though foreclosures continue to drop and builder confidence levels continue to increase, price growth, home sales and housing production have slowed.

The July Cal-Culator

The July Cal-Culator

Housing Production

The South lagged behind the rest of the country in new home starts, bringing down the national average significantly, according to the U.S. Census Bureau News by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The South experienced a nearly 30 percent drop in June from May while the national rate fell 8.1 percent.

“The numbers are a little disappointing, but May was unusually high and some pull back isn’t completely unexpected,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “Our surveys show that builders are confident about the future and we are still seeing a gradual upward trajectory in housing demand.”

Home Prices

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices data, released July 29, revealed that U.S. home prices increases are slowing. The 20-City Composite (where Atlanta is included) increased by 9.3 percent, which is “down significantly from the 10.8 percent returns reported last month.” However, Atlanta was one of nine cities that posted double-digit increases as the city experienced an 11.2 percent increase from the previous month. Unfortunately, Atlanta posted a year-to-year decline.

“Housing has been turning in mixed economic numbers in the last few months. Prices and sales of existing homes have shown improvement while construction and sales of new homes continue to lag,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “At the same time, the broader economy and especially employment are showing larger improvements and substantial gains.”

However, Zillow believes that this data is a sign of a slowing recovery, rather than large improvements.

“Nationally, today’s Case-Shiller data is consistent with the slow glide-path down towards a more normal housing market we’ve been experiencing for the past few months,” said Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist in Forbes.

Home Sales

Nationally, new single-family home sales fell 8.1 percent in June from May, according to new data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The South posted a -9.4 percent month-over-month drop and a -17.4 percent year-over-year decline.

Builder Confidence

As stated in last month’s column, any number over 50 on the NAHB and Wells Fargo Housing Market Index indicates that the majority of homebuilders view conditions as “good” rather than “poor.” July was the first month since January that builder confidence rose above 50, reaching 53.

Foreclosures

CoreLogic’s National Foreclosure Report for June revealed that the foreclosure inventory was down 3.9 percent in June from May, marking 32 months of continuous decline, and completed foreclosures decreased 9.9 percent year-over-year. However, economists are still reminding consumers about the long road ahead.

“While 32 straight months of year-over-year decline in the foreclosure rate is cause for celebration, the total number of homes still in the foreclosure process remains almost four times as high as the average in the early 2000s,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

The next Cal-Culator will be released September 9 and will hopefully reflect a reigniting of the industry.

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The $3.5 Billion Real Estate Merge

The real estate headlines over the past week have been dominated by the news that real estate titans Zillow and Trulia are merging after Zillow purchased Trulia for $3.5 billion. The two largest home listing sites account for nearly half of all home listings’ web traffic.

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Realtors across the nation expressed their concerns that the merge would eliminate their role in the home buying and selling process. After all, the founders started Zillow after leaving Expedia where they severely decreased the need for travel agents. This week, we weighed in on housing and company experts that revealed Realtors and the rest of the industry need not to be threatened.

Zillow’s in the ad business

Zillow makes the majority of their revenue from their “Marketplace” revenue stream, which includes advertising from Realtors, banks, mortgage brokers and brokerage firms. Since announcing the merge, Zillow executives have wanted to make clear that they are in the advertisement business, not the business of selling homes or stepping on Realtors’ toes.

“We’ve never wanted to become a real estate brokerage,” stated a Zillow representative in Time’s “What a Zillow/Trulia Merger Might Mean For Consumers.”

In the Zillow press release announcing the merge, a summary of the expected benefits included broader distribution for “home sellers and their agents, brokerages and participating MLSs…[to] benefit from seamless free distribution of listings across even more platforms to reach an even larger audience of consumers.”

Thus, it seems that advertisements and connecting Realtors to consumers will only be improved. The merge is looking to be a win/win for Zillow and Realtors, as Zillow will spend even more capital now on advertising while Realtors will get more targeted buyers.

Computers Can’t Replace Human Emotion

The Wall Street Journal pointed out that buying a home is an extremely emotional process. A computer can’t provide all the necessary reassurance. There will always be a need for Realtors to provide support through one of the biggest financial deals of one’s life.

“In real estate, there will always be a practioner in the middle of a transaction, helping consumers with an infrequent, complex and emotional transaction,” said Spencer Rascoff, Zillow CEO in The Wall Street Journal.

Some analysts even believe that Zillow and Trulia listings’ effects are overhyped and that neither company has changed the game much.

“They already have vast consumer traffic yet very little has changed in terms of their lead quality, lead volume or even the underpinnings of how the residential real estate industry works and that’s because at the end of the day, 80 to 98 percent of residential real estates are chosen based on referrals,” said Analyst Bradley Safalow of PAA Research to CNBC.

Other noted benefits from the press release include enhanced value and ROI for advertisers, faster innovation on mobile and web, greater access to free real estate market data for consumers and much more. Though the negative effects continue to loom in professionals’ minds, the merge has much more potential to have positive reverberations throughout the real estate industry.

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While Inventory is Down, Increase Your Competitive Edge

The most recent Beige Book, the Federal Reserve’s comprehensive look at current economic conditions in 12 U.S. districts, revealed positive economic activity in many Atlanta economic sectors including travel, tourism, commercial real estate, manufacturing – and residential real estate! Despite increased home sales and construction levels, low inventory is continuing to negatively affect the industry. To avoid aggressive, ugly bidding wars, hopeful buyers need to sharpen their competitive edge to be more appealing to sellers. Having a few charming and financial (while ethical) savvy tricks up your sleeve can help you land your dream home.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Cash is King

According to McClatchy data, paying in cash for home sales is more popular than ever. Prior to 2008, less than 10 percent of home sales were in cash. Today, it’s at 33 percent. Cash is an efficient route for sellers who don’t have to wait on a buyer to gather a down payment or gain mortgage approval. Sellers will pick the most hassle free option among fiercely competitive bidders. So if you have the means, consider offering cash.

Come Qualified

If you don’t have the means or feel safe offering thousands of dollars in cash, gain pre-approval for a mortgage. By having a pre-approval letter, sellers and Realtors know that you’re serious, thus they are more assured they won’t be wasting their time on you, and should you accept the offer, there is a higher chance of successful closing on the home. To gain pre-approval, the buyer will need to provide financial information such as W2 statements, federal tax returns, bank statements and more. While a seemingly lengthy process, you’ll have to gather proof of all these documents to apply for a mortgage anyways.

Stay a Step Ahead

Just last month, Zillow announced Coming Soon ­– a sneak-peek feature that will allow hopeful homebuyers to preview homes that are not yet on the market, but are expected to be listed within a month. Buyers and Realtors that find a property they’re interested in on Coming Soon will be able to contact listing agents directly. The platform is designed to help buyers in areas of inventory crunch and sellers who are hoping to sell their home quickly.

“By offering a glimpse into a market’s future housing inventory, home shoppers can rest assured they have the broadest possible view of the local market to find the right home, and sellers can feel confident their home is being marketed as widely as possible,” said Jeremy Wacksman, vice president of marketing and product management at Zillow.

Appeal to Emotions

Using emotions as a viable mode of persuasion stems all the way back to Aristotle’s use of ethos in 350 B.C. A modern day model from Zillow recommends writing a personal, handwritten letter of emotional appeal to the homeowners of homes that you’re interested in. If there are multiple offers on a property it wouldn’t hurt to let the owner know why the home is so important to you, if it evokes memories from your childhood home or why the home is so perfect for your family.

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Looking For A Home? Look To Your Phone

In February, we revealed the top home improvement and maintenance applications for smartphones, computers and tablets. In addition to improving your own home, there are dozens of apps that can aid in the selling and buying process. As the inventory crunch eases, we discuss the best real estate apps that can make your home search more efficient, fun and less stressful.

Jeff Brown, Senior Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Jeff Brown, Senior Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Trulia

The online residential real estate site Trulia has four free apps in the App Store and on Google Play to aid in many aspects of real estate for renters, buyers and Realtors.

  • Trulia Real Estate allows you to search for homes, apartments or open houses on this top-rated app while you’re pumping gas, on the treadmill or watching television. Each home comes with a fact sheet of property information and vivid photographs. Interactive maps give alerts when a new home comes on the market, provides local information such as school zones and crime, allows you to save homes, connects users to agents and much more.
  • Trulia Rentals works the same way as Trulia Real Estate with rental properties.
  • Trulia for Agents points agents to prospective buyers and sellers and allows agents to close a deal from anywhere.
  • Trulia Mortgage’s easy-to-use mortgage app provides extensive financial insight into the complex mortgage process. Users can use the affordability calculator to determine which home price they can afford, view a refinancing calculator and use a mortgage calculator that will break down monthly payments factoring in interest, property taxes and insurance.

Homesnap

Homesnap is a creative, social and easy way to receive real estate information when looking to purchase a home. The free app was recently named “Best Mobile Tool” by Realtor Magazine and “Most Addictive Real Estate App” by HGTV Magazine. Though the Internet is filled with thousands of online listings, many people still prefer driving around in their preferred areas looking for red for-sale signs. Using the Homesnap app, powered by real-time MLS listings, users snap a photo of a home and are then greeted with valuable information like home values, interior photos, property taxes and school information. If users aren’t in front of a home, they can also browse through for-sale homes in the directory.

An innovative aspect of Homesnap is the ability to have a network of friends to collaboratively come together to assist in your search process. Every time a friend saves a home or writes a comment, the action gets sent to your newsfeed.

Credit Karma

With today’s tight lending restrictions, having a good credit score is more important than in past years. The free, simple Credit Karma app provides an estimated score from TransUnion, without entering any credit card information, unlike other credit-checking platforms. Using the score, you can determine if you qualify for a loan, at which rate and for how much. An additional bonus of Credit Karma is users can see problem areas in their credit and be able to dispute it before meeting with a mortgage lender. Another feature is free credit monitoring where users can receive daily notifications of important changes to their credit report.

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Don’t Skip Over Summer Renovations

Even though home repairs and construction is the last thing many Atlantans want to do in the scorching “Hotlanta” summer, completing home renovations can provide immediate gratification, such as saving money and increasing comfort, as well as providing long-term benefits, like increasing the resale value of your home.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

According to Forbes, many renovations are generally cheaper in the summer than other times of the year because of the increase in availability of contractors and an overall decrease in demand. Many people choose to refrain from doing renovations in the summer while children are out of school or while on vacation, leaving greater availability of less-expensive labor and an opportunity to negotiate a better deal.

If you are considering venturing into a renovation this summer, here’s a few that are best completed during the summer and they may cost you less in the long run:

Driveway Paving

Summer is known for being the best time to repave an old driveway where weeds are poking through and cracks seem to be expanding with each passing day.   Asphalt is easier to work with in higher temperatures; giving contractors more time to evenly smooth the asphalt and avoid costly re-dos.

A word of caution … Because summer is such a popular time to repave driveways, there are many contracting scammers that will leave you with a subpar pavement job and, when the job is done, no way of contacting them. It’s not unusual to find scammers selling door-to-door luring customers with “too good to be true” prices and cash-only sales. Always check with the Better Business Bureau to learn more about a contractor’s legitimacy.

Kitchen

Out of all home renovations, kitchens often yield one of the highest returns on investment when it comes time to selling your home as kitchens are one of the first things people look at when judging a home. However, kitchen renovations oftentimes leave you without the use of your kitchen for a few weeks, meaning more meals out and expensive restaurant bills. Fortunately, you can take advantage of the warm summer weather and move the kitchen outside! Move your refrigerator to the garage and utilize a grill to cut down on restaurant bills.

Landscaping

Contrary to popular belief, you can landscape successfully during summer. Nurseries often lower their prices on leftover plants from the spring season, the most popular time to landscape. Many homeowners find they save money on groceries by being able to pluck fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from their very own garden.

If you already have a lush garden, the summer season is a perfect time to install an automatic sprinkler system allowing you to save time, money and water. Another great summer project is to install solar powered lights on outdoor fixtures, which can save money while accentuating walkways.

In-Ground Pool

Though you won’t save any money by installing an in-ground pool during peak season, installing one during the warm months is a necessity. The ground has to be thoroughly thawed before digging can begin. Start this project in the spring so you can finish it before the hot summer hits.  Forbes recommends finding a neighbor that is also interested in building a pool to possibly cut a deal with a contractor.

“Since pools are constructed in stages, it’s more efficient and less costly to a contractor to simultaneously build more than one,” said Forbes. “The savings could be applied to installing a new deck area around the pool.”

When you’re mapping out your home improvement schedule, keep in mind that seasonal improvements are likely to be more expensive during peak season. To save money, take advantage of the off-season by fixing air conditioning units and building patios in the colder seasons and working on attic insulation in the warmer months.

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