Text-only newsletter stories for October 2016



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Thinking about buying soon? Make sure your credit is in order

There’s no more important time to work on your credit score than when you’re about to apply for a mortgage. Improving your credit can save you a ton of money—we’re talking about thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Here are the actions you can take that will have a notable impact on your score.

Pay down your credit card balances
Credit utilization is one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score. Your credit utilization should at least be less than 30 percent of your limit, and it’s even better if you can get it below 15 percent. This rule applies to both individual cards and your overall credit limit.

It may even be worthwhile to use some of the cash funds you were planning to use for a down payment to pay off credit card balances.

Do no harm
While you certainly want to improve your score if possible, at the very least you’ll want to keep it steady. Avoid opening new lines of credit if you’re applying for a mortgage in the very near future. This will cause a hard inquiry to show up on your credit report.

Take care of negative items
It’s good practice to check your credit report for negative items a few times a year—you can get one free report from each of the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) per year.

If you find any negative items (collections, late payments, etc.), write a letter to the original creditor. Explain the circumstances that led to the negative item, and request that it be removed from your report. It can be surprisingly effective, and removing a negative item will improve your credit score in a hurry. You can find some good templates for a request letter online.


Headline: Five big trends in home decor

Thanks to websites like Houzz and Pinterest and TV networks like HGTV and DIY, it’s easier than ever to keep up with home decorating trends and find inspiration for improving your own home. Here are five of the top current interior design trends.

 1. Screen-free rooms: After a long day of using your smartphone and computer, it can feel amazing to come home and take a technology break. More and more, homeowners are creating specific screen-free rooms—perhaps a library, craft room, or listening room—where you can escape from technology for a while.

 2. Upholstered headboards: What if you could feel like you were sleeping in a luxury hotel bed every night? The bedding and mattress are an important part of that experience, but so is the aesthetic and comfort of an upholstered headboard.

 3. Earth tones: Natural colors have become increasingly popular, especially deep greens. It’s a great way to bring some of nature’s colors indoors, whether as an accent wall, in blankets and pillows, or for furniture.

 4. Black stainless steel: If you want a sleek, contemporary kitchen, black stainless steel is even more of a statement than traditional stainless steel.

 5. Patterned fabrics: While solid upholstery will never go out of style, patterns have become trendy of late. It’s an easy way to make a bold, eye-catching statement in your living space.


Headline: What does a title company do?

With all the money you pay for a home, you want to make sure you spending your hard-earned dollars on a legitimate piece of property—and that’s where a title company comes in.

When you purchase a home, a title company will research the property to ensure that you are the rightful owner. They’ll look through records for anything that might cause problems—ownership disputes, restrictions, unpaid taxes, liens, and more. Their goal is to document the chain of title and identify any issues that could become major problems down the road.

At the end of the process, the title company issues a title opinion. This is a legal document that states that the title is valid.

The title opinion is part of obtaining title insurance. The insurance protects both the owner and the lender if there is a title dispute. If another party is actually the rightful owner of the home, your title insurance protects you from financial loss.

In addition to title opinions and title insurance, title companies also handle escrow accounts and distribute money to the appropriate parties at closing. They’ll also deliver closing documents to the appropriate agencies.


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