Providing consumers with the best mortgage option based on your financial goals.

What to do about the Equifax Credit Hack

We have had a previous tip discussing how our creditors get hacked every five minutes, but why stop there now that we know that half of the country has been exposed at the bureau level. Over a three-month timeframe, from May to July 2017, hackers accessed our socials, DOB, addresses, DL numbers and for an unlucky 209,000 people even credit card numbers.

First off, don’t make the mistake of thinking the worst of it is over. The credit cards would probably be used first, but monitoring that and replacing them if needed is relatively easy, and let’s face it, in today’s fraudulent age that’s nothing we don’t have to continuously do anyway. Unfortunately, the other information the hackers accessed could be used over many many years to come (maybe a generation). It’s far too much information for any one faction to utilize effectively never mind in a timely manner. The information will most likely be sold many times over to citizens of countries who earn a living from defrauding us, and this gives them a possible lifetime career. Additionally, our government was far too bogged down with these attacks before this happened, so for now, I’d expect little help there.

Regarding the aftermath, here is where our opinion varies from the rest of the web. First, going to Equifax’s recommendation waives your rights on a class action, so that wouldn’t be our first choice. Then again after 143 million people sue there won’t be enough money to go around to buy lunch. We personally also wouldn’t put a credit freeze or fraud alert on either unless you are currently under attack, nor sign up for an expensive credit monitoring program as this issue has no end in sight. A lifetime of spending on monitoring will add up a lot, and gives you, we believe, a false sense of security. Nothing in today’s market ultimately protects you and that gets proven continuously. The concept of identity fraud/theft is the thieves use your information to pretend to be you, so in a lot of scenarios how can creditors tell the difference? The key, once again in our opinion, is to personally scour your own credit report at least a couple times a year (you can periodically access a free credit report( from many places online, and certainly do it months before you need to use your credit) and if you find anything derogatory that is erroneous or even just questionable you need to flag it. If at that point you want our help, in our experience on items that have been flagged in that manner, we have remarkable success removing them. Credit can easily be the most expensive or adversely beneficial aspect of your life, it’s worth that personal attention. Call me if you want your questions answered.

Things You Need to Buy After Your New Home Purchase

You probably have not thought about all the items you will need to buy for a new house that you did not need in an apartment. This news comes as a shock to many first-time home buyers. So, if you’ve scraped together your last two nickels to pay closing costs, here are ways you can save a little on some of your new purchases:

Lawnmower Unless you plan to hire a gardener or your yard is filled with rocks or drought resistant vegetation, you will need to buy a lawnmower. Many new homes in California have no lawns. The back yards are dirt, which means new homeowners here are forking out cash to lay sod or growing their own grass from seed.Consumer Reports publishes reviews that are extremely helpful when comparing brands and will suggest a “Best Buy” in lawnmowers for you. You can also search on Craigslist or in your local newspaper for used lawnmowers.

Keys & Locks The first thing you should do is re-key or change your door locks. If the previous sellers were like most people, the neighbors, friends and coworkers all might have a set of keys to your house. Even new home builders give out keys to contractors. It’s smart to change the locks and / or install deadbolts.The easiest solution is to remove the locks from your doors and take them to your local hardware store to re-key. You can buy all new locks, but that’s expensive, or you can call a locksmith to change the locks for you. Then, think about a place to hide a key so you won’t get locked out of your house.

Garden Supplies  Every home needs a garden hose. You can buy those at a low price, plus find adjustable sprayer heads or lawn sprinklers at Target or in the gardening department at Loews. Don’t forget about weed-whackers, trowels, shovels, rakes or hoes. A push broom comes in handy for sweeping your garage floor, plus the handle unscrews so you can use it as an extension pole with a wall sander. Consider a watering can, and wheelbarrow or wagon

    • Every home needs a well-stocked tool box. Essential items are:
    • Tools & Repair Items to buy for a new house 
    • Hammers: Ball and Claw
    1. Assorted Screw drivers: Flathead and Phillips
    2. Hacksaw
    3. Pliers
    4. Plumber’s Wrench
    5. Basin Wrench
    6. Small Power Drill and Drill Bits
    7. Nail Driver
    8. Staple Gun
    9. Tape Measure

    More Stuff to Buy for a New House

    1. Paint Brushes: one-inch to four-inches
    2. Paint Scraper with steel brush for cleaning paint brushes
    3. Five-Gallon Container for mixing paint
    4. Paint Screen
    5. Paint Roller and Sleeves
    6. Drop Cloths or plastic sheeting
    7. Electrical Tester
    8. Wire Nuts
    9. Assorted Screws and Nails
    10. Assortment of Sandpaper

Outdoor Entertaining Lawn chairs, patio furniture and umbrella, and a barbecue grill are among the starter items most people put out back. A nice starter grill is a Weber charcoal grill, and it’s very inexpensive.

    • Snow Removal Equipment If it snows where you live, you’ll need to remove it. Many cities give homeowners a certain period of time to remove the snow and you can be cited if you don’t. Apart from clearing the driveway so you can get your car out of the garage, remember the sidewalks and front steps.Snowblowers can be expensive.
      But you can also find used snowblowers on Craigslist. If a snowblower is not in your budget, then look at flat- and curved-snow shovels, plus ice-chippers and a bag of salt or sand come in handy when the ground freezes.
    • Window Coverings You can choose from blinds, drapes, Roman shades, scarves, toppers, curtains, honeycombs, sheers or shutters.If your budget is stretched too thin, check out self-adhesive paper blinds with clips. These attach by peeling off the adhesive covering and sticking the top of the blind to the underside at the top of your window. They are pleated, so you can fold them up and clip them when you want to open the blinds. They cost less than $5, and serve as a good temporary solution.
    • Appliances Many new homes are equipped with new appliances, but when buying an older home, depending on where you live, it might be customary for the seller to take some of the appliances. Not all appliances are fixtures, either.At the very least, you will need a:
    1. Cooktop / Range
    2. Refrigerator
    3. Washer & Dryer
    • If new is out of your price range, then consider buying used appliances, which will save you roughly 75% of the cost new.
    • Linens, Towels and Floor Coverings Now that you can paint your rooms any color you choose, you might also find a need to buy new towels for the bathroom. Newly painted walls call attention to older, worn items, and your towels might be better suited for washing the car or your dog than hanging in a fresh, new bathroom. Consider also floor mats for the bath or area rugs for your larger rooms.

Conforming Loan Limit Increase

As you may have heard, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) made the announcement that 2017 conforming loan limit for mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be increased nationwide from $417,000 to $424,100.

The new loan limits will be effective on January 1, 2017. This is the first time that the maximum loan limits have been increased since 2006. Loans through the end of the year will need to comply with the 2016 limits, but loans closing in 2017 will be eligible for the new loan limits.

The FHFA has a great map showing conforming loan guidelines across the country, and I am more than happy to talk to you about this or other loan programs. To learn more about how this announcement may help your homebuyer secure the home of their dreams in the New Year, I would love to speak with you.