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Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You are undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home! But before you make any big purchases, move any money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer. They will be able to tell you how your decision will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of 7 Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage! Some may seem obvious, but some may not!

1. Don’t change jobs or the way you are paid at your job! Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.

2. Don’t deposit cash into your bank accounts. Lenders need to source your money and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

3. Don’t make any large purchases like a new car or new furniture for your new home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios… higher ratios make for riskier loans… and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

4. Don’t co-sign other loans for anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payment against you.

5. Don’t change bank accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer money between accounts, talk to your loan officer.

6. Don’t apply for new credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

7. Don’t close any credit accounts. Many clients have erroneously believed that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both those determinants of your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.

Did you know?

by Christy McLemore, All-Star Listing Coordinator

Did you know if you're looking for something to come in the mail, the post office scans each piece of mail and you can see what's coming to you the next day? This USPS free and convenient service can help to protect against identity theft. Visit www.informeddelivery.usps.com to quickly and easily sign up for daily emails showing pictures of what you will be receiving in your mailbox each day. If something doesn’t arrive, there is a “Report Missing Mail” button.

Did you know that there are dozens of government programs that provide grants, rebates, tax incentives, and more for energy efficient upgrades to your home? Visit www.dsireusa.org for a list of programs in your area.

Your local power company is also a great source of information for making your home more energy efficient and saving you money on your power bill.  Mississippi Power has a plethora of tips and advice on how to weatherize your home and other energy-saving ideas on their website at www.mississippipower.com.  Mississippi Power will also pay $75 toward a cost of an in-home energy assessment of your home which includes installation of energy-saving devices such as LED bulbs, smart power strips and faucet aerators. Google “Mississippi Power energy checkup” for more information and a list of qualified independent service providers in your area.

Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association also has information on how to save energy in your home as well as an interactive Home Energy Consumption calculator and games for kids on their website at www.prvepa.com

How to Save THOUSANDS in Interest on your Mortgage

by keepingcurrentmatters.com

One of the most common loans you can get to buy a home is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. If the thought of paying for your home over the course of 30-years seems daunting, here are some easy ways to shorten that term which will actually end up saving you money over the life of your loan.

Any additional payments to the principal amount (the original sum of money borrowed in a loan), helps to cut down the amount of interest that you will pay over the life of your loan and can also help to shave years off the loan as well.

When you make ‘extra’ payments toward your loan, the key is to let your lender/bank know that you want the extra funds to go toward your principal balance as they will not automatically do this for you.

You don’t have to double your mortgage payment to make a big difference either!

If you have a 30-year mortgage on a median-priced home ($250,000) with a 5% interest rate, you’ll be responsible for a $1,342.05 monthly principal and interest payment. Over the course of the loan, if you pay your exact monthly payment, you will have paid $233,133.89 in interest alone!

Paying a Little Extra Can Pay Off Big

1. Pay an additional 1/12th of your mortgage payment every month

Benefit: In the example above, adding $111.84 to your monthly mortgage payment might not seem like a lot, but each year you will have paid one extra month’s worth of payments which will shorten the term of your loan by 4 years and 8 months, all while saving you $42,000 in interest!

2. Pay an additional $50 per month towards your mortgage

Benefit: Fifty dollars might not seem like enough to make a difference on the term of your loan, but that small amount will save you over $21,000 in interest and will take over 2 years off the end of your loan. Twenty-eight years from now, you’ll be happy to pay off your loan that much sooner!

3. Make one-time lump sum payments when you can

Benefit: If you find yourself with a little extra money after a yearly bonus, a tax return, or from investment dividends, paying that money towards the principal can cut your costs. This option, however, is less predictable than the extra monthly payments.

If you have higher interest debts, like credit cards, consider using any extra funds you have to pay those debts down before applying that money towards your mortgage. Also, if you do not plan on staying in your home for more than 10 years, paying extra toward your mortgage might not make sense.

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering what strategies would work best for you to shorten the term of your loan, let’s get together to answer your questions.

All-Star Problem Solvers

by Adam Watkins

    Over a year ago I found myself at my local gym, which is not out of the ordinary these days.  For the past 5 years or so, I have consciously made an effort to make better choices to improve my health through diet and exercise.  It has been a worthwhile journey, and one I genuinely enjoy, from which I gain a lot of satisfaction and intend to continue for the rest of my life.  For some reason - probably a bad hair day - I slipped a cap on my head on my way out the door and headed out on my mission.  It was one of my favorite hats.  I call it my "REALTOR Cap" - a navy blue cotton cap with the trademark symbol of the National Association of REALTORS proudly embroidered across the front.  It was this choice of attire that led to a conversation that I have been using to illustrate a concept to our team, my fellow REALTORS, and those we serve.  Somewhere during my workout a young man caught a glimpse of the hat while we were both in-between sets, and the conversation went something like this:

    "Hey, so, you're a REALTOR; you show people houses?" the young man asked. My response was almost instinctive and immediate, and was one that I knew he would not be prepared for. I said, "No, actually, that's not what I do."  The young man looked at me perplexed, and said, "But I thought REALTORS showed people houses."  At this point, I could tell I had thoroughly confused this fella, and sought to elaborate.  I said, "Yes, I am a REALTOR, and sometimes I do let people into houses and talk to people about the properties they might wish to purchase or sell, but that's not what I really 'do.'"  Finally, a bit exasperated, the young man asked, "Well, then what is it that you do?" My response was simple, "I solve people's problems."  

    I spent the next few moments explaining to this gym buddy of mine that the true value of what I did as a professional was not the literal opening of a door on a property so someone could see inside.  Truth is, the technologies we currently use to showcase homes and properties online make accessing the "inside" of a home something that can be done virtually in many cases.  The value in what the team and I do everyday is in our role as problem solvers.  As I explained to this young man, every circumstance that REALTORS encounter on behalf of our clients and customers involves a problem, or a series of questions, that we must use our experience and knowledge to solve or answer.

    Questions like:  What's the highest and best use for a property, and how do we find its next owner? Do we need to replace the carpet and repaint, or sell the home in as-is condition?  What is the best strategy for transitioning our aging mother out of her current property and liquidating that property to help provide for her care?  Where should we purchase a home that we can easily sell in 3 years after we've completed medical residency? How do we build an investment portfolio in real estate, and when is the best time to sell some of that portfolio?  How do we adequately qualify tenants for our investment property in order to reduce the chance of vacancies?  Or, how do I go about purchasing my first home, and do I qualify to purchase without having a down payment?

    Each of these questions represents an opportunity for the team and I to provide a solution to these problems.  This is what we do everyday.  And, because the circumstances of each client or customer who comes to us is different, it means each problem that we seek to provide solutions for is just as unique.  It's one of the beautiful things about REALTORS and The All-Star Team, REALTORS, in particular.  In spite of the plethora of information available at the touch of a fingertip, there is still no technological substitute that can take into account your unique circumstances and create solutions designed to meet your needs in a more complete way than a seasoned professional who has invested time and energy into developing skills and expertise in the field of real estate.  A professional who lives and breathes the same air as you do within the same communities is irreplaceable.  

    My hope is that when you think of The All-Star Team, REALTORS, your first thought is of a team who is capable to provide solutions to thousands of real estate problems you or your friends might encounter....again, and again.  It just so happens that Spring is an excellent season for problem solving!  Consequently, our minds are sharpened; we are ready for the task; and we are humbled by your trust.

Sincerely,

Adam and Team

Want to be a homeowner? You can do it!

by

Visit www.AllStarTeam.com/Homestead if you need more information.

Travel and Learn with the All-Star Team

by Brenda Blackwell

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to travel.  I never dreamed that when I got into real estate over 17 years ago that I would not only find a career that I love but would also get the opportunity to travel to major cities in the U.S. and abroad!  What many people do not know is that The All-Star Team is very determined that our agents keep up with the newest trends, statistics and advances in the real estate field.  Therefore, we have not missed a National Realtor’s Convention and Expo since I have been employed.  You may ask “What is so great about the National Association of Realtors Conference and Expo”?  Well, It is by far the largest and most important real estate conference in the United States.  It has been described as the Super Bowl, World Series, and Game of Thrones finale all in one!   For 4 days we mix and mingle with the top producing real estate professionals, industry experts and corporate executives.  There are over 100 education sessions spanning from topics of current real estate technology, law, staging, time management techniques, safety, marketing and sales strategies, fixing and flipping homes, nabbing the online leads, personal growth, investment forums, team-building …I could go on and on!  Plus they are all taught by powerhouses of the real estate industry.  And I cannot forget to mention the Realtor Expo which has 400 industry vendors and more classes on how to use all the new gadgets and gismos!  I’m telling you…we are pumped when we get back to Hattiesburg and loaded with new ideas and inspiration!   And to top it off…this year, Adam and DeLois have ordered the NAR Convention Sessions, because who could possibly attend everything?  Each Monday at staff meeting one of us presents a synopsis of a session that they have listened to the past week.  We just keep on learning!!!

 The conventions are always held in fantastic locations to draw as many attendees (20,000 +) as possible and to have a convention complex big enough to hold everyone.   Past conventions have been held in Orlando, Anaheim, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and Boston.   I joke with Adam and DeLois every year saying I may be retiring soon but I have to check out where the convention will be held before I make that decision!  The Boston NAR Convention 2018 was worth the wait!  And the 2019 convention will be held in San Francisco.  Even though it has been located there twice in the past, I am going to hold out on retirement at least one more year!  Linda and I always go a few days early to explore the surrounding areas.  We’ve explored Napa Valley, Sausalito, Muir Woods, Alcatraz and of course, The Fisherman’s Wharf.  But Carmel, The Hearst Castle and Yosemite National Park are on my bucket list.  Hummm… I hear they have day trips to each of these places from San Francisco.  So I bet they will be on our itinerary!

Another opportunity that working with this team has afforded me is the chance to travel abroad.  When our team makes our yearly goal, we are awarded a team trip anywhere we choose!  Past trips have included Paris, London, Hawaii, Caribbean cruises, New York City, Washington D.C., Jamestown, Williamsburg and Charlottesville, Virginia.  Going on these trips as a team is a great tactic because we truly bond with our co-workers and feel like one big family.  Ha!  I think that’s good!  No really, working here has been one of the best choices of my life and I love my co-workers!

So, in 2019 we will be using all that knowledge gained from all the classes we attended at convention and especially working hard to reach our goals.  (I’ve never been to Italy! Lol!) Just give us a call if you or someone you know is thinking of buying or selling a home!  We will be sure to give you and your referrals the All-Star treatment! 

Ringing in a New Year!

by DeLois Smith

Dear Friends,

     New Year’s Greetings! 2019 will lead us to begin a new era- ending the 2000 teen years right into the 2020s, a new decade of Change! Change! Change! AND new opportunities!

     According to a very recent Kiplinger Letter, we will soon see new jobs that barely exist now. Small commercial drones will soar to 500,000 by 2022. Drones will inspect buildings and pipelines, monitor farms for disease and crops, help police spot crime and help firefighters conduct search and rescue missions. Of course, we have been using drone photography for 2-3 years to better market certain properties.

     The satellite industry is expanding by leaps and bounds. New satellites will beam fast internet to hard to reach regions. Driverless cars will make progress in the next five years. By early 2020s, you will be able to buy a car that can drive itself for long intervals. Resulting jobs will be drone pilots and drone fleet managers, driverless vehicle repair, traffic monitors, and home-delivered groceries.

     Noting that Greater Hattiesburg is #1 in net job growth among metros in Mississippi, and Hattiesburg ranking in the Top 10 places to live on a six-figure salary (as per our local Area Development Partnership), we will be seeing more and more evidence of these new industries expanding into our area in the coming months.

     Our team average sale for 2018 was $258,000, about $100,000 above our local MLS average. We are grateful to have served clients at the very top of our residential market at $1.3 million for 2018 as well as all other price ranges.

      A big change is the new trend toward smaller homes. The soaring number of millennials who have been delayed by heavy education debt and the growing number of seniors who are served best by the 1600-1800 square foot size range has caused a severe shortage of available properties. By 2030, one in every five Americans will be over the age of 65. These special needs include:

  • Single floor living                                                                    
  • Extra-wide doorways and hallways                                   
  • Lever-style handles                                                                 
  • No step entryways                                                                  
  • Two main entrances- front & side
  • Low landscape
  • Accessible outlets and lights
  • Low cost energy

     A first-of-its-kind home adhering to the standards of “ageless design” was unveiled recently in Memphis, TN. The home is part of a ground-breaking effort by AARP Home Matters and Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, which challenged architects nationwide to create new standards in housing design that allows adults to stay in their homes throughout their lives.

     Hats off to the talented and skilled leaders of our area who have made Midtown happen. This past year has been encouraging, as we have watched this pivotal project unfold into the upscale creative venues serving USM students, faculty, guests, and our community at large.

     In early 2019, the attractively designed Regions Complex at Lamar and Lincoln Extension will be completed and 420 Regions employees and management will move from the downtown location to the new site. New creative design for a downtown condo development will begin where Regions is vacating.

     As the new year begins my 46th year as a Hattiesburg Realtor, I want to share with you how very much I love my role as a listing agent with The All-Star Team, Realtors. First, I love the support and working relationship with my positive, trained, talented, and focused teammates. Secondly, I love the rich life experiences of serving memorable, kind, and gracious clients. Several times this past month I was brought to tears by some of those very special clients. One such family came from out of state a day before their closing to insure that every detail was taken care of in regard to leaving the home in perfect condition for the new buyers. They brought their four young daughters and a tiny puppy dog to closing. Even though the sale represented a financial loss to them, they expressed sincere love and gratitude toward everyone involved.

     Another touching experience came with an estate sale in Glendale where a 90 year-old grandmother had lived until she passed recently. The neighbors had delighted in supporting the family and helping to care for the grandmother in order that she could remain in her home. Her daughter and granddaughter who had grown up there lived out of state. One special neighbor had done the maintenance of the home and lawn as well as helping the 90 year-old lady personally. As I drove away from this neatly kept “home sweet home” to the closing, I was grateful that we still have such wonderful neighborhoods where both black and white families live together safely, peacefully, and lovingly.

     Thank you again and again for your continual support and encouragement. Many of you have dropped by or received your new, user-friendly calendars in the mail. If somehow you have missed the 2019 calendars, please call our office at 601-545-3900 to request yours.

May you and your family be blessed with good health and a very happy New Year!

With much gratitude,

DeLois & Team

No bubble here....

by keepingcurrentmatters.com

Real estate is shifting to a more normal market; the days of national home appreciation topping 6% annually are over and inventories are increasing which is causing bidding wars to almost disappear. Some see these as signs that the market will soon come tumbling down as it did in 2008.

As it becomes easier for buyers to obtain mortgages, many are suggesting that this is definite proof that banks are repeating the same mistakes they made a decade ago. Today, we want to assure everyone that we are not heading to another housing “bubble & bust.”

Each month, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association (MBA) releases a measurement which indicates the availability of mortgage credit known as the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to the MBA:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is calculated using several factors related to borrower eligibility (credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratio, etc.).” *

The higher the measurement, the easier it is to get a mortgage. During the buildup to the last housing bubble, the measurement sat at around 400. In 2005 and 2006, the measurement more than doubled to over 800 and was still at almost 600 in 2007. When the market crashed in 2008, the index fell to just over 100.

Over the last decade, as credit began to ease, the index increased to where it is today at 186.7 – still less than half of what it was prior to the buildup of last decade and less than one-quarter of where it was during the bubble.

Here is a graph depicting this information (remember, the higher the index, the easier it was to get a mortgage):

Bottom Line

Though mortgage standards have loosened somewhat during the last few years, we are nowhere near the standards that helped create the housing crisis ten years ago.

     Wow, what an exciting year it has been!  2018 was brimming with anticipation as our own Adam Watkins served as President-Elect for the MS REALTORS.  Amidst visits to local boards of REALTORS around our state and a full slate of committee meetings with the state leadership, Adam received the 2018 REALTOR of the Year award from the Hattiesburg Area Association of REALTORS in August, which was followed up by the 2018 REALTOR of the Year award from the MS REALTORS in October.  Beyond these two meaningful accolades, Adam was chosen by the 2018 MS REALTORS President, Karen Glass, as recipient of her President's Award for the year.  The President's Award is given annually to recognize outstanding contribution by a member of the association for that year, and Adam has been blessed to receive it twice - first in 2008, and now in 2018. 

     On October 10th, Adam was officially installed as 2019 President of the MS REALTORS at our annual convention, which was held this year at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, AL.  We celebrated the coming year of service, and then Adam got down to business, planning board visits, executive committee meetings, and leadership retreat, among other action items for 2019.  The theme of Adam's presidency is "Take the L.E.A.D.," which represents four key areas of emphasis for our membership - Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Dedication.  More can be found about these points of distinction at www.facebook.com/MARPresidentAdamWatkins or msrealtors.org.

     2019 promises to be a fun and full year of service, and we look forward to serving you, your friends, and your relatives with any real estate needs you may have!  Remember the REALTOR who remembers you, and give us a call, shoot us a text, or send us an e-mail.  We are never too busy for your family's needs, whether you are looking to expand your space or downsize; move across the country or across the county; add to your real estate portfolio or tweak your investments.  We appreciate and value the opportunity to bring you home...again and again. 

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The All-Star Team, REALTORS®
Bringing you home...again and again!
4 Willow Bend, Suite 2A
Hattiesburg MS 39402
601.545.3900
800.335.6477

The All-Star Team, REALTORS brings you over 200 years of accumulated experience along with the most innovative marketing strategies in the real estate industry. We specialize in the real estate properties located in Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, Petal, Sumrall, Purvis, Columbia, and the entire Pine Belt region. Put The All-Star Team, REALTORS® to work for you as you consider your next home sale or purchase. Experience the team approach to real estate and make us your REALTOR® for life! See how The All-Star Team, REALTORS® really is bringing the Pine Belt home again and again.