Monday, June 21, 2010

7 Tips for Improving Your Credit

Article From
By: G. M. Filisko

Published: February 25, 2010

Here's how to clean up your credit so you get the least-expensive home loan possible.

Getting the loan that suits your situation at the best possible price and terms makes home-buying easier and more affordable. Here are seven ways to boost your credit score so you can do just that.

1 ••• Know Your Credit Score
Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher, the better. They're based on whether you've paid personal loans, car loans, credit cards, and other debt in full and on time in the past. You'll need a score of at least 620 to qualify for a home loan and 740 to get the best interest rates and terms.

You're entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the major credit-reporting bureaus, Equifax (, Experian (, and TransUnion ( Access all three versions of your credit report at ( Review them to ensure the information is accurate.

2 ••• Correct Errors on Your Credit Report
If you find mistakes on your credit report, write a letter to the credit-reporting agency explaining why you believe there's an error. Send documents that support your case, and ask that the error be corrected or removed. Also write to the company, or debt collector, that reported the incorrect information to dispute the information, and ask to be copied on any materials sent to credit-reporting agencies.

3 ••• Pay Every Bill on Time
You may be surprised at the damage even a few late payments will have on your credit score. The easiest way to make a big difference in your credit score without altering your spending habits is to diligently pay all your bills on time. You'll also save money because you'll keep the money you've been spending on late fees. Credit card or mortgage companies probably won't report minor late payments, those less than 30 days overdue, but you'll still have to pay late fees.

4 ••• Use Credit Carefully
Another good way to boost your credit score is to pay your credit card bills in full every month. If you can't do that, pay as much over your required minimum payment as possible to begin whittling away the debt. Stop using your credit cards to keep your balances from increasing, and transfer balances from high-interest credit cards to lower-interest cards.

5 ••• Take Care w/ the Length of Your Credit
Credit rating agencies also consider the length of your credit history. If you've had a credit card for a long time and managed it responsibly, that works in your favor. However, opening several new credit cards at once can lower the average age of your accounts, which pushes down your score. Likewise, closing credit card accounts lowers your available credit, so keep credit cards open even if you're not using them.

6 ••• Don't Use All the Credit You're Offered
Credit scores are also based on how much credit you use compared with how much you're offered. Using $1,000 of available credit will give you a lower score than having $1,000 of available credit and using $100 of it. Occasionally opening new lines of credit can boost your available credit, which also affects your score positively.

7 ••• Be Patient
It can take time for your credit score to climb once you've begun working to improve it. Keep at it because the more distance you put between your spotty payment history and your current good payment record, the less damage you'll do to your credit score.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who keeps a close eye on her credit scores. A frequent contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

May 2010 Market Stats

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

Article From
By: G. M. Filisko
Published: March 11, 2010

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.

Homeowner-ship should make you feel safe and secure, and that includes financially. Be sure you can afford your home by calculating how much of a mortgage you can safely fit into your budget.

Instead of just taking out the biggest mortgage a lender qualifies you to borrow, consider how much you want to pay each month for housing based on your financial and personal goals.

Think ahead to major life events and consider how those might influence your budget. Do you want to return to school for an advanced degree? Will a new child add day care to your monthly expenses? Does a relative plan to eventually live with you and contribute to the mortgage?

Still not sure how much you can afford? You can use the same formulas that most lenders use, or try another of these traditional methods for estimating the amount of mortgage you can afford.

As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeowner-ship, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.

How much money do you have for a down payment? The higher your down payment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home's cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment. The lower your down payment, the higher the loan amount you'll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn't total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn't exceed 41% of your gross annual income.

Here's how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don't top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.

The tax benefits of homeowner-ship generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment-including taxes and insurance-of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

Here's an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeowner-ship.

However, if you're struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calculation instead.

Also consider whether or not you'll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can't also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a "what if" tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Farmhouse on 1.85 acres!

1122 SE Barnes Rd.
Gresham, OR 97080
  • Abundance of fruit trees
    & berries!
  • 3 Bedroom/3 Baths
  • Large Country Kitchen
  • Living & Family Room
  • Huge Master Suite
  • 2,115sf Finished Living Area
  • 576sf Unfinished Basement
  • Double Pane Vinyl Windows
  • Covered and open Patios
  • 1200sf Shop w/Newer Roof
  • Development Potential
  • Zoned LDR-7
For more information/photos or to view more listings,
go to

It's a Beautiful Home! Come Look!

3719 NE 65th Ave.
Portland, OR 97213
  • 2544 finished sq.ft.
  • 4 bedrooms/2 full bath
  • French Country Kitchen
  • Stainless Appliances
  • Silestone Counters
  • Custom Lighting
  • Cabinets w/pull out drawers,
  • Built-in recipe holder
    & spice rack
  • Living Room w/Fireplace
  • Dining w/Built-ins

For more information/photos and more listings,

Your Guide to VOC's

Article From

By: Karin Beuerlein
Published: November 18, 2009

Understand which volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are lurking in your house so you can reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals.

Hundreds of volatile organic compounds--solids and liquids that convert easily to gas or vapor at room temperature--seep into our indoor air, emitted by everything from air fresheners to paint strippers. On the mild side, they can make your eyes water and give you headaches; they can also trigger asthma and other serious respiratory diseases, and some are known to cause cancer. There are no statistics on how many people get sick from VOCs.

Blame the energy crisis of the 1970s, which spawned tighter construction methods, for increasing indoor air pollution from VOCs, according to Peter Frederick, principal scientist for MACTEC Engineering and Consulting in Lexington, Ky.

You may want to take particular precautions against four VOCs that are linked to cancer and present in a wide variety of household products. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency( doesn't regulate levels of these chemicals in the home, it recommends you limit your exposure to them.

What it is: A sweet-smelling, colorless liquid that is highly flammable.

The health risks: A known human carcinogen; occupational exposure has been linked reliably to leukemia. Although studies suggest that benzene levels typically found in the home aren't high enough to cause cancer, it's smart to reduce exposure as much as you can.

Where you'll find it: Cigarette smoke, incense, stored gasoline, auto exhaust, paint, glues.

What it is: Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling liquid often used as a disinfectant, fixative, and preservative.

The health risks: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and is a sensitizing chemical, meaning you can develop an allergic reaction to it with prolonged exposure.
Where you'll find it: Fuel-burning appliances, new furniture (pressed-wood products, particleboard, paneling).

What it is: A clear liquid with a sweet smell, also called dichloromethane. Its high volatility makes it useful as an aerosol propellant; it was once present in hair sprays, but now is banned for this use because of adverse health effects.

The health risks: A known animal carcinogen and a suspected human carcinogen. It's been linked to cancers, liver problems, central nervous system dysfunction, and eye, skin, and respiratory irritation.
Where you'll find it: Paint and varnish removers, degreasers, pesticides, spray paint.

What it is: The principal fluid used in dry cleaning, commonly called "perc"; many cleaners now offer non-perc options.

The health risks: Shown to cause cancer in animals; causes dizziness, fatigue, confusion, lack of coordination, and respiratory irritation.
Where you'll find it: Dry-cleaned clothes, shoe polish, printer inks, adhesives.

Other common VOCs that can cause health symptoms include terpene (air fresheners, perfumes), acetone (nail polish remover, paint thinner), and styrene (rubber, insulation, carpets).

Consider any household chemical or object treated or made with chemicals--including vinyl and plastic--a potential source of VOCs. If you're having unexplained health symptoms, take a close look at the products you use daily to determine if one of them might be the cause.
Karin Beuerlein has covered home improvement and green living topics extensively for,, and In more than a decade of freelancing, she's also written for dozens of national and regional publications, including Better Homes & Gardens and the Chicago Tribune. She and her husband started married life by remodeling the house they were living in. They still have both the marriage and the house, no small feat.

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reduced Price, Charming 1926 Cape Cod Style Home

3719 NE 65th Ave.
Portland, OR 97213

Country Kitchen

NE Portland, Cape Cod home-4bd/2ba, hardwoods, newer gourmet French Country kitchen w/pull out cabinets, pot filler, recipe holder, blt-in spice rack, custom lights, stainless,
Silestone counter tops. Fully finished basement w/italian travertine tile floors, surround sound, 7.5' ceilings, large laundry, built-ins, newer roof & electrical, detached garage w/extra storage, fenced yard w/paved patio area, garden & more... Walk to shopping/park.
For more information, go to