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[Note from editor: The “Mastermind Showcase” highlights companies and news from members of the GEM. Today’s showcase: Homebuyer.]

First American Data & Analytics provides nationwide property, ownership, & public record datasets to real estate professionals. Despite being just 8 years old, First American’s deep-reaching coverage spans nearly 100% of the U.S. housing market.

Available data options range from Tax Assessor data to HOA data to Propensity Scores and more.

What we like: The division benefits from the incredible resources and far-reaching connections of the entire First American family of companies that dates back to 1889.

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Source: geekestateblog.com

Buying Land to Build a House

Buying Land to Build a House

So many people imagine building their dream home in an ideal location. Finding that location and buying land to build a house is the first step in fulfilling this dream. 

Paying for this lot with cash is the ideal scenario but with lot prices climbing into the hundreds of thousands of dollars range, most buyers will need a loan to purchase a lot. 

The loan you use for buying land to build a house on is very different than the traditional home mortgage loan. Land loans differ because there are generally no improvements like a house on the property. On a traditional mortgage, the home is used to secure the loan. In a land scenario, there are no improvements to use in order to secure the loan. 

This makes the land loan a risky loan for the bank. Because of this, these loans have more stringent requirements than traditional mortgages. You’ll need more money down 20% to 30% depending on your credit score.

Yes, these loans can be difficult to obtain because of the requirements but at the end of the day, it’s worth the hassle because you’ll enjoy plenty of benefits when you do so. Before you even start thinking about them all, you need to do a lot of research. Don’t worry! We’ve done it for you!

Here’s everything you need to know about purchasing land before building your house.

Reasons to Look for Land to Build on

Privacy: Living in an urban or even a suburban neighborhood usually means a lack of privacy. You see and hear your neighbors constantly, and while they may be great people, you want your privacy.

When you buy land to build a house, you have the flexibility of choosing a place the lends itself to seclusion and privacy. Additionally, you have the option of situating your home on the lot in order to maximize your privacy. 

While custom home lots are more extensive than subdivided lots, they also tend to be much larger. This means you’ll have more space surrounding your home, hopefully giving you peace, privacy, and quiet.

Convenience: One of the advantages of buying land is choosing where you’re going to be. That means you can be closer to work, family, or whatever your lifestyle priorities are. 

If convenience is your priority, you may need to be flexible when it comes to designing and building your home. Since communities located close to amenities and other conveniences tend to have more restrictions than more rural communities, you may have to adhere to building restrictions and requirements. This may force you to compromise on the actual type and style of home you end up building.

Style: One of the biggest benefits of building your own home is that you get to choose the style of the home. If you want to build something truly unique, building your own home is the right decision. When you shop for your lot, it’s important that you do your homework in order to make sure you can build what you want. Many communities have architectural guidelines and restrictions that will dictate what you can and cannot build.

When you build your house, you are supposed to get everything that you want. Make sure you buy your lot in an area that has no restrictions or at least restrictions you can live with.

Flexibility: Tract or production builders do a great job of building an attractive product that appeals to a wide range of homebuyers. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same needs and wants. Have you always dreamt about a larger garage, a dedicated workshop, or a cottage? Since you’re in charge of designing the house, you can do it!. You can choose to be practical, extravagant, or something in-between. It’s up to you.

It’s important that you make sure you will have the ability to do the things you want when you choose your building site. You need to make sure the building envelope large enough to accommodate your plans. Also, check to make sure there are no environmental issues that would keep you from executing your plans. We often see large pieces of land that are either too steep or have unbuildable areas because of drainage or some other issue.

The time to find out about these types of conditions is before you close on your lot, not after.

How to Find Land to Build on

Realtor: Your Realtor is a great place to start when looking for land. Realtors often have access to pocket listings, these are lots that are not yet on the market but the owner might be looking to sell.

It’s important to note that realtors tend to specialize in different aspects of the market. A Realtor that specializes in luxury condos in an urban area is probably not a great resource for a custom home lot in a rural or suburban setting. Ask around in order to find realtors that specialize in the type of land you are looking for.

MLS: A Multiple Listing Service (or MLS) is like a realtor’s database, where multiple real estate agents offer both homes and land for sale to each other. Unlike the pocket listing, a property offered on the MLS is there because the owner wants to sell.

Your realtor can set up a search for you on the MLS system. This search will send you notifications when a listing that meets your criteria hits the market. One of the most valuable aspects of this type of search is that the agent can change the search criteria if you aren’t seeing the types of properties you are interested in.

Tax records: If you have a very specific area or neighborhood that you want to live in, this is a great way to search for a lot. Looking at the county tax assessor’s website to locate unimproved properties is how the professionals do it. Builders will often scour the tax records looking for unimproved land. The goal is to find a vacant lot that has been owned for a while, if the owner is out of the area, it’s even better.

Builders will reach out to the owners to see if they have any interest in selling the property. These lots are often owned free and clear, so the only expense to the owner is the property tax. These property owners often don’t even consider selling until someone asks.

This method requires a little detective work and a little bit of hustle but the results can be very rewarding.

Landwatch: Realtors, MLS, and tax records are old-school ways of looking for land. Nowadays, we can take advantage of the internet. And www.landwatch.com is the perfect place to look for land online.

On this website, you’ll find countless land listings from huge agricultural tracts to small parcels. These listings come with descriptions, pictures, pricing, and more. If you like what you see, you can contact the owner and buy it.

Subdivisions: The developers of large subdivisions tend to sell directly to home builders. This is a very efficient method for these developers because the builders buy in bulk and have the financing in place. It’s rare to find a subdivision that sells directly to homeowners, but they do exist. 

Subdivisions that sell directly to private individuals tend to be custom home subdivisions. If you are looking for this type of opportunity, you’ll need to stay on top of the market. Talk to builders and Realtors about where these subdivisions are. If you have already chosen your home builder, they can be a great asset in this search as well.

Important considerations

Rural or Suburban: You probably know the difference between a rural and a suburban setting. When you decide to buy land to build a house, this is a crucial factor.

View: Do you want a view? Or, perhaps, are you willing to sacrifice that in favor of other things? You have to figure out what you want – and to picture how things will look from your finished house, both in and out.

Exposure to the sun: Enough sun exposure will heat your house – but too much of it will overheat your place. In colder areas, too little or too much sun can be the difference between snow and ice on your driveway.

Utilities: Water, electricity, and gas are all a given for most people. Not for those who are building their own house, though. Does your lot have access to utilities? Are the utilities at the property line or will you need to bring them in? Do you have access to a municipal water system, or are you going to need a well? Are you able to tap into a sewer system or will your home need a dedicated septic system?

Access: Can you get to your future house from public-access roads? Sometimes, a plot of land is only accessible from other people’s property; if that’s the case, you need an easement to access your house through private land. That could turn into a legal hassle.

Zoning: Zoning laws and a major consideration when building and proper zoning could be the difference between building your dream house and having a plot of land you no longer want. You need to check and double-check your land’s zoning rules and regulations to make sure you can build what you want.

Survey: No matter if someone surveyed the land not too long ago, you need to survey the lot you want to buy. That’s the only way to know where you can build and where your property ends.

Soils and perc tests: Believe it or not, certain soils like clay and rock can be problematic for building houses. You need to perform a soil test before you build. Savvy buyers will do these tests as a part of the due diligence portion of the sales process. This way you don’t end up with a lot you can’t build on.

How to pay

Cash: Cash is king. Always was and always will be. And this is even truer when you’re buying land to build a house.

Sure, you can take a loan to buy land (although they are more expensive than your average mortgage), but if that’s the case, you’ll have to pay back the loan and invest in building your house at the same time.
On the other hand, if you buy the land using cash, you can then use your new property as equity to finance construction.

Land Loan: As we’ve discussed, land loans are different from mortgages. They have higher interest rates, are not that simple to obtain. These loans have much shorter terms and require a good credit score as well as a 20% to 30% downpayment.

Usually, land loan interest rates are much higher than the average mortgage interest rate. And you have to pay it back in 3 to 5 years; that’s almost ten times less than your average 30-year mortgage.

USDA: Not all land loans are equal, though. If you wish to buy land in a rural area, you might qualify for a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – and almost 97% of all Americans are eligible for it.
These loans have few requirements, don’t need a down payment, and feature a fixed interest rate.
The USDA loans are for people who want to build their primary residence, not for any other purpose. And you’ll have to meet specific criteria to ask for one.

Owner Carry: If you don’t have the cash right now and don’t qualify for any loan, it’s not over yet. You can arrange a loan-like scenario with the land’s owner.
Because financing a land purchase can be difficult, property sellers will agree to act as the bank and carry the loan for the sale. The buyer makes payments directly to the property owner. In these scenarios, the buyer will often be asked to make a balloon payment after a number of years. In most cases, the landowner is paid off once the purchaser obtains construction financing.

The relationship between lot cost and total building cost

One final thought when it comes to building your home and the purchase of the lot. Cost and value are two very important factors. It is important from an investment standpoint that you keep the relationship between lot cost and home value in the proper relationship.

The lot price is traditionally 25% of the total cost of the entire home building project. Failing to observe this metric can cause problems further down the road when it’s time to sell the home. After construction, the lot price becomes a part of the home price. If you pay too much for the lot, it increases the price per square foot of the home.

When it’s time to sell, your home is compared to other homes on the market. If your value is in the lot, it’s usually difficult to recover those costs when it’s time to sell.

The bank is also going to be concerned with this when it’s time to get your construction financing. There are requirements you’ll have to meet for this type of loan. Such as showing detailed specs, providing proof of income, and having a good credit score. They vary depending on the loan you’re after.

In Conclusion

Finding an ideal spot to build your dream home can be a difficult task but at the end of the day, it’s worth the journey. In a world where there are very few truly special homes, this is your opportunity to get exactly what you want and make it special. There is a special pride you see in people that have built their dream homes that you almost never see in those that settled for a tract home in a cookie-cutter subdivision.

So, if you are up for the task the rewards are worth it but make sure to use the advice of professionals and experts in the field. Mistakes in this type of project can have serious consequences.

Source: realtybiznews.com

Rising Rates Damp Mortgage Applications Ahead of Spring Selling Season

Mortgage rates reached their highest level since November last week, cooling off home purchase and refinance applications ahead of the all-important spring selling season.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 2.81% in the week ended Feb. 18, the highest since the second week of November, according to mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac. A measure of mortgage applications fell 11.4% over the same week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Improving Covid-19 vaccination rates in the U.S. and expectations of a large federal stimulus package in the coming weeks drove benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields, which are closely tied to mortgage rates, to their largest weekly gains in more than a month last week. Demand in safe-haven assets such as government bonds weakens when investors feel optimistic about the economy.

“Higher rates are a signal of expectations of faster growth and a stronger job market ahead,” said Mike Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist. “This last week, rates have turned faster than many people had anticipated.”

Rising rates sometimes prompt borrowers to put their mortgage plans on hold for a few weeks, Mr. Fratantoni said. Measures of purchase and refinance activity fell 11.6% and 11.3%, respectively, in the week ended Feb. 19, according to MBA data.

If mortgage rates begin to increase at a faster pace, some borrowers could be discouraged from attempting to buy a home during the crucial home-selling months of March through June. In a typical year, more than 40% of annual home sales are made during this period, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Still, rates remain historically low, and more people are applying for purchase mortgages and refinances than at the same time in 2020. Last year was a banner one for the housing market, thanks in large part to mortgage rates, which fell below 3% for the first time last summer.

Mortgage lenders originated a record $3.6 trillion worth of mortgages last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, an increase of more than 50% from 2019. Refinances accounted for about 59% of that volume. With the 30-year rate near 2.81%, between 16.7 million and 18.1 million Americans could lower their monthly mortgage payments through a refinance, according to mortgage-data firm Black Knight Inc.

Lissette Gomez will close this week on a new loan that lowers the mortgage rate on her Cleveland-area condo to 2.75% from 4.125%. Ms. Gomez, a special-education teacher, said she decided to refinance after she watched her boyfriend get a much lower rate on his mortgage.

“Everybody was getting the word, especially in the second half of 2020, that the rates were super low,” Ms. Gomez said. “I wanted to refinance when people were jumping on it, and the numbers were as low as they’ve ever been.”

Source: realtor.com

Even with high lumber prices, new home sales beat

Extreme increases in lumber prices have caused some people to go bearish on new home sales. Not this one! If we play a version of rock, paper, and scissors with lumber prices and mortgage rates, mortgage rates will win. Mortgage rates have a much more significant influence on the new home sales market than lumber prices, even at their current highs.

Proof of this is the recent new home sales report released by the Census Bureau. New home sales beat expectations by a lot, and all the revisions to the last report were positive.

Last month, I wrote that we should have expected new home sales to moderate after their parabolic rise.

Sales are still working to find a sustainable trend after the massive distortion in all housing data lines due to COVID-19. This recent report, especially regarding the positive revisions to the last report, tells a solid story for new home sales in 2021 as long as rates stay low.


From Census:  “Sales of new single-family houses in January 2021 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 923,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 4.3% (±18.1%)* above the revised December rate of 885,000 and is 19.3% (±19.5%)* above the January 2020 estimate of 774,000.

When reviewing new home sales data, it is wise to keep an eye on the monthly supply. When the monthly supply is 4.3 and below, builders will have the confidence to continue building. This is especially true when the 3-month average is 4.3 months or below. Currently, inventory is at four months with a three-month average of 4.06 months of supply, so it’s looking pretty good. The revisions on this report showed a lower monthly supply than in the previous month.

The low monthly supply is why builders’ confidence is high, despite the massive spike in lumber prices. As a high school basketball coach in my previous life, I know that sometimes all that matters is that you shoot better than your opponents. Don’t overthink it. Better sales plus lower inventor equals increased builder confidence.

Today, the MBA’s purchase application data was also positive by 7% year over year, even with the President’s Day holiday and the Texas snowstorm — two factors that typically hurt applications. Positive year-over-year growth is a good thing. 

So far this year, our year-over-year comparisons have been against a “pre-covid” housing market. March 18 is almost here, which means year-over-year comparisons of housing data are going to get funky. If you see scorching year-over-year growth – don’t be fooled that it will be a sustainable trend. 

Purchase applications in 2021 have exceeded my estimated peak rate of growth of 11%. I expected to see a trend growth rate between 1%-11% year over year, up until March 18.  We are currently trending at 12.375%. The substantial purchase application growth speaks well for housing sales 30 to 90 days out.

The take-home message is that sales are strong, which will contribute to hotter home prices. Right now, we want the rate of growth to cool down.

Next week for HousingWire, I will explain why we should expect to see some purchase application data show weaker year-over-year data in the second half of 2021. There is more to this story than higher mortgage rates.

Source: housingwire.com

10 Things Taxes Pay For: Where Do Your Federal Tax Dollars Go?

Your taxes pay for a variety of government services, as well as government debt and salaries.

A young Black woman sits at a desktop computer and looks intently at the screen. One hand rests on the keyboard and the other holds a mug of coffee or tea. There is a yellow wall and blackboard behind her and two notebooks stacked on the desk beside her.

The federal government spends a lot of money. In 2019, for example, the government spent a total of around $4.4 trillion. You know that sounds like a lot, but how much is it really? 

For comparison, $4.4 trillion was around a fifth of the total national GDP for that year. GDP, or gross domestic product, is the value of all the goods and services provided or made within the country during that year.

What funds the things the government pays for? Well, $3.5 trillion of that spending was paid for by “federal revenues,” which mostly refers to taxes. The other $984 billion was borrowed. Discover 10 things taxes pay for below to understand just how the federal government is spending those trillions of dollars.

10 Things Taxes Pay For

  1. Government Debt
  2. Social Security
  3. Medicare
  4. Other Health Care
  5. National Defense
  6. Veterans Benefits
  7. Safety Net Programs
  8. Education
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Salaries and Wages

1. Government Debt

If the United States’ government borrowed more than $900 billion in 2019 alone, you can bet the total debt is high. At the end of 2019, it was $22.8 trillion.

According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which keeps a daily national debt clock, as of February 24, 2021, the national debt was as much as $27,932,601,755,468—more than $27.9 trillion. Not sure exactly how much that really is? Consider this—if everyone in the United States covered an equal portion of that debt, each person would need to pony up $84,029.

It’s not surprising that a large chunk of what the federal government spends goes to debt, then. In 2019, around 8% of federal spending covered only the interest on debts!

2. Social Security 

Funding the Social Security program is a big expense for federal taxpayers. Social Security spending is part of an overall government spending category known as mandatory spending. These don’t require appropriation because the spending is mandated by a previous law or appropriation. With mandatory spending, the government funds the programs based on the need—however many people are eligible for and draw from Social Security, for example, determines how much is funded.

Many of the mandatory spending programs started in the middle of the 20th century. As the population has grown, so has the amount needed to fund these programs. In 1962, mandatory spending accounted for 31% of the federal budget. In 2019, it accounted for 61%.

Social Security accounts for the largest amount of mandatory spending. In 2019, the program accounted for 38% of all mandatory federal spending. That was around 23% of the total budget, or about a trillion dollars.

3. Medicare

Medicare also represents a mandatory spending item on the federal budget. It’s typically second to Social Security, and in 2019, it accounted for more than 23% of mandatory spending. This program provides health care benefits for qualified retired individuals as well as some eligible disabled persons. Overall, about $651 billion went to Medicare in 2019.

4. Other Health Care

Medicare isn’t the only health care and wellness program covered by the federal government. Others include Medicaid, which the federal government funds in partnership with the states, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and health care market subsidies. These subsidies are funded under the Affordable Care Act and usually taken as a reduction on how much someone might pay in taxes.

In 2019, all of these other health care programs cost around $450 billion.

5. National Defense

Defense is not included in mandatory spending. It is discretionary spending and it must be included in congressional appropriations bills annually.

Defense tends to be the biggest discretionary spending item on the federal budget. Some, but not all, foreign aid can be classified under defense because that spending is meant to stabilize other nations for the defense of the United States.

In 2019, defense accounted for around 50% of all discretionary spending. However, that was only around 16% of the total budget. 

6. Veterans Benefits

Veterans benefits refers to a wide range of health and wellness programs, financial assistance, and other programs designed to support veterans of the United States military. This type of spending can actually fall under both discretionary and mandatory, as there are VA programs in both categories. In either case, though, it’s a relatively small percentage of total spending.

7. Income Security or Safety Net Programs

Income security refers to federal spending on safety net programs to increase the health and safety of the general population. Programs included under this umbrella term cover, but aren’t limited to, housing assistance, nutrition and food assistance, unemployment compensation, foster care, and certain tax credits.

In 2019, income security accounted for the third-largest mandatory spending category after Social Security and Medicare. Around 16% of mandatory federal spending was in this category. Around 5% of discretionary spending that year was also in this category.

With two COVID relief acts in 2020, you should expect to see percentages in this category go up for that year. The types of spending related to those bills—such as the stimulus payments to qualifying Americans—would be considered income security. 

8. Education

The children are our future—but you might not know it by looking at how federal funds are spent. Education is normally a relatively small discretionary spending item (about 7% of discretionary spending in 2019), and it often includes both K-12 education as well as spending on college, training, and employment services. It’s also worth noting that only around 8% of K-12 public school spending across the country is federal. The rest is covered by state and local funds. 

9. Infrastructure

Infrastructure refers to physical structures and facilities that we depend on to function as a society. This includes buildings, roads, and power supplies. 

As with education, infrastructure expenses are shared among federal, state, and local budgets. According to a report from the House Committee on the Budget, the total infrastructure spending across all these entities in 2017 was only 2.3% of GDP, or around $441 billion.

10. Salaries and Wages

Not including the military and other non-civilian workforces, the federal government employs more than 2 million people. That’s a lot of people to pay, which means a lot of spending on salaries, wages, and benefits. The federal government spends billions of tax dollars to cover these expenses every year.

What If You Don’t Agree with Federal Spending?

As much as we’d sometimes like to pull the plug on our own tax bills because we don’t agree with how the federal government is spending our money, you still need to pay your taxes. Not doing so has legal consequences and could also lead to debt that might derail your financial goals and credit score. 

But you can take some actions if you don’t agree with how the federal government is spending your tax dollars:

  • Contact your legislators. Find your representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate, then contact them about your concerns. Don’t forget to contact your state representatives as well as your US representatives.
  • Use your vote. Vote for candidates for president, the House of Representatives, or the Senate who align most closely with your policy beliefs and who may be more likely to spend money in a way you agree with.
  • Get involved. Learn more, get involved with grassroots change efforts, or sign or create petitions for change.

But while you’re doing all those things, don’t forget to do your federal taxes.

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Source: credit.com

How to Find All Your Debts: 4 Tips

Paying off your debts is a critical part of a healthy credit profile. Here’s what you need to know about how to find your debts.

It’s uncomfortable to admit, but it’s entirely possible that you have debts you didn’t even know about. Whether mail went missing or communication about medical debt got mixed up, it’s possible an account with your name on it is languishing somewhere in collections. Get some tips to find out all your debts so you can make educated decisions about how to clean up your credit history.


How to Find All Your Debts

Even if you keep meticulous records, it’s possible for some debts to have fallen through the cracks. And perhaps you know you owe a debt, but it’s been passed around between collection agencies so many times you’ve forgotten who currently owns the debt. Here’s how to find out which collection agency you owe or uncover debts you don’t know about.

1. Check Your Credit Reports

Our first tip for finding your hidden debts is to turn to your credit report. While not every debt is reported, many are. And if you’re in collections or have owed the debt for a while, chances are someone has placed a negative item on at least one of your credit reports.

The trick here is getting copies of all three of your credit reports from the major bureaus. Not all creditors report to all three, so TransUnion, for example, could have a detail that Equifax and Experian do not—and vice versa.

You can get one free copy of your credit report from each agency every year at AnnualCreditReport.com. (They’re available weekly for a limited time due to COVID-19.) But for those who really want to get a handle on who they owe and what’s on their report, a service such as ExtraCredit is a good choice.

ExtraCredit lets you see your credit reports from all three bureaus—anytime. The reports are pulled monthly. It also gives you regular updates on 28 of your FICO® scores, so you have a clear picture of what your credit history looks like to lenders. Plus, you can get rewards and offers for valuable credit services, including credit monitoring and credit cards.

2. Go Through Old and New Mail

Who among us hasn’t picked up the mail, only to put it in a stack by the front door and leave it there to languish for months? Life gets busy, and it can be tempting to slide unopened envelopes into a bin or drawer and forget about them. But mail can back up before you realize it, and you might miss a notice of a bill or debt.

Take some time to gather all the mail you have. Open it and sort it, carefully looking to see whether you need to take action on something or if you might owe someone money. Keep a notebook or computer nearby so you can make a list.

3. Listen to All Those Old Voicemails

Voicemail can back up just like snail mail. Many people never actually check their voicemail, assuming those who need them will call them back or text them.

Legitimate creditors and collections agencies should leave a voicemail, including contact information. They’ll also usually show up on your caller ID. 

Clear out your old voicemail, listening to each one and making notes about it. Compare that information with the notes you got from your mail and what’s on your credit report to compile a master list of debt you might owe. Keep an ear open for potential debt collection scammers and do your research before following up with anyone.

4. Contact Creditors You Think You Owe

In some cases, you know you owe someone, but it’s been a while. You can contact the last creditor you remember and find out if they still own the debt or if they wrote it off and sold it to a collection agency. They should be able to confirm your debt and give you the name and contact information for the agency that they sold the debt to, if applicable.

What to Do After You Find Your Debt

Once you go through a debt finder process and figure out who you owe money to, you have some decisions to make. Here are three tips for dealing with debt once you find it.

1. Decide Whether You Can—or Will—Pay

You might rush to pay off old debts thinking it will boost your credit, but that may not happen. Yes, the debt should then be marked as paid on your credit report. But the damage from the late payments and collection accounts could still linger.

So, you need to consider seriously how you can and will deal with old debt. If you simply can’t afford to pay, talk to a legal professional about your options, rights, and what consequences could come from paying or not paying old debt. For example, if you start making payments, the statute of limitations could restart and leave you at risk of lawsuits and legal collection activity much longer.

2. Consider Credit Repair Services

One result of digging through credit reports and chasing down old debt can be finding errors or collections you don’t actually owe. If you find inaccurate information on your credit reports, you might consider working with a credit repair service.

Credit repair services work on your behalf to dispute inaccurate information with the credit bureaus. You can actually do credit repair yourself, but if you don’t have time or just know you aren’t going to follow up, you might get more value by paying professionals to handle it for you.

3. Keep Up with Credit Reports and Debts in the Future

Finally, once you do the work to find your debt and clean it up, keep up with your credit reports in the future. While every single debt may not appear on your credit report—or appear right away—staying on top of your credit report ensures you’re aware of most of them. ExtraCredit gives you the access to your accounts that you need to keep track of your debts and your credit score.

Bonus Tip: Once you’ve found all your debts, use a debt management app like Tally to keep track of them moving forward so you’ll never have to wonder about them again.

TL;DR: ExtraCredit Could Help You Identify and Manage Your Debts

If you’ve lost track of your debts and what you owe to who, it can take some work and time to track everything down. But once you do, stay ahead of these things with help from ExtraCredit.


Source: credit.com

Land is in big demand as investors seek safe-haven

U.S. land brokers are reporting an increase in deals and a rise in land values due to what they say is growing demand for rural land.

That’s according to a survey of more than 100 land brokers in the U.S. carried out by National Land Realty, and the findings suggest that we’ll see more of the same in 2021, with even more land purchases expected to take place.

The survey found that more half of the brokers saw an increase in business last year compared to the year prior. Over 60% of respondents said that land values were up too, especially farmland and recreational land.

National Land Realty Chief Executive Jason Walter said the growing demand was due to investors seeking a safe haven in land at a time when the economy was being wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted “record-breaking volume” in the second half of the year.

“With all of the traumatic events of 2020, people are looking to not only invest in land outside of the city, but they are also wanting to live on the land they buy, to be able to breathe the fresh COVID-free air and reconnect with the great outdoors,” he said.

That’s backed up by the survey findings, with brokers reporting that the majority of recent land buyers come from urban or suburban areas.

Almost 90% of the brokers surveyed believe that land sales will continue to perform strongly over the next year to 18 months, according to the survey. “And more than 75 percent of [land brokers] believe their business will grow at least 5 percent, if not more than 10 percent, in that same time frame,” added Jason Burbage, president of National Land Realty.

The biggest challenges in 2021 moving forward, land brokers say, will center around geopolitical risk (nearly 24%), followed by financing or interest rate risk (20%) and COVID-related issues (17%).

Source: realtybiznews.com

10 Relaxing Home Decor Ideas to Transform Your Space

Much of our time these days is spent at home. Whether you’re still working from a home office, meal-prepping in your kitchen on weekends, or spending most of your leisure time looking at other homes for sale on your favorite real estate app, you may feel your home is not the calming space you’d hope it to be. Regardless of how you spend your time, your home is your sanctuary, where you should feel relaxed and be able to unwind from your daily life. If you want to design a more calming space but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.

From adding cozy blankets and scented candles to dedicating a space to practice meditation, creating a relaxing house is just a couple of design steps away. Whether you live in warm Los Angeles, CA, or rainy Seattle, WA, one of these 10 relaxing home decor ideas is sure to transform your home into an even more calming place you’ll be happy to spend time in.

relaxing-home-decor-ideas

relaxing-home-decor-ideas

1) Design your space with cozy fabrics

There’s no better place to start designing a calming space than decorating with cozy fabrics. Whether that’s getting a new throw blanket for your couch or reupholstering your chair with a crushed velvet fabric, you can decorate just about anything with textiles. Soft fabrics bring a soothing, cozy feel to your home and can make you feel like you’re in a serene environment no matter the season. So break out the quilts, incorporate a fuzzy shag carpet, or pick up some soft throw pillows to make your space more relaxing after a long day.

2) Create balance between colors

When looking for the right relaxing home decor idea, think about how you’ll strike a balance between the colors in your space. Rather than bringing in lots of bright colors, consider adding a pop of color with a pillow or throw blanket against a neutral couch or chair. Unless you find yourself drawn to vibrant colors, less is more when it comes to incorporating these statement elements in your home. 

3) Choose classic and calming decor ideas

When it comes to choosing relaxing home decor, you may find yourself tempted by all the up-and-coming home trends. Opting for the latest trends can be fun, but if it’s not something you totally love, chances are you may not feel that relaxed in your space. One of the keys is to pick trends that you like along with those that will stand the test of time. If you’re interested in a new style but not sure how that fits into your home, looking into reversible home design ideas may just be your best option. 

4) Carve out a space for yoga or meditation

Nothing makes a home more relaxing than creating a designated space to wind down. Whether that’s a simple corner of your living room or a small room of its own, you can easily design a space that feels secluded from the rest of your home. With a yoga mat or a floor pillow, a few green plants, and a photo you love, you can easily make a calming nook for your yoga flow or mindfulness practice.

relaxing-house

relaxing-house

5) Use a weighted blanket in your bedroom

Chances are you’ve heard about weighted blankets. If you haven’t, weighted blankets range from 5 to 30 pounds and mimic therapeutic techniques of deep pressure stimulation, much like a massage. For those that have trouble balancing work and home life, choosing a weighted blanket for your bed or living room may help you relax. Either way, having a great blanket is one of the easiest relaxing home decor ideas to bring into your space to help you shut off for the evening. 

6) Light candles or diffuse essential oils throughout your home

Scents can be the gateway to creating a relaxing environment in your home. Whether you gravitate towards a calming chamomile scent or the smell of lavender before you go to sleep, there’s an essential oil for everything. If you’re more of a candle user, you can find a variety of scents perfect for cultivating a relaxing space. Fresh baked cookies, check. Christmas cheer, check. Nothing beats lighting your favorite candle or turning on your essential oil diffuser after a long day and letting your favorite aromas fill your home.

7) Mood lighting makes a relaxing home

If the weather is gloomy or it’s dark by the time you finish your workday, some much needed light can be all you need for a peaceful home. From sun lamps that mimic the benefits of sunlight or just incorporating string lights throughout your home, the options are endless. You can easily make your space more relaxing by switching up your lights and bringing a new vibe to your home. 

bright-living-room

bright-living-room

8) Embrace any and all natural light

Natural light is one of the easiest elements to brighten up your space. But if you live in an apartment with minimal windows or your living room doesn’t let in much natural light, there’s no need to worry. It all starts with embracing what natural light you do have in your home. Highlight the windows with high drapes to draw your eyes upward or keep window shades pulled open for as long as the daylight hours allow. Making an effort to let in any light from clouds or sun into your home can make your space more calming and welcoming. 

9) Take inspiration from nature for relaxing home decor

If getting out into nature makes you feel more relaxed, look to nature for inspiration when designing your house to be more relaxing. Incorporating the right shade of wood furniture into your home can evoke feelings of the mountains or the beach. Consider lighting a Fraser fir-scented candle or adding a few drops of pine essential oil in your diffuser to bring the mountain relaxation into your home. Taking inspiration from nature may be as simple as hanging a picture of your favorite beach or lake. That way you’ll have a serene feeling every time you see the photo.

10) Incorporate a plant garden

Plants are known to be a great way to incorporate nature and its properties into your relaxing home decor. The key is to choose plants that work with your space, like small succulents against a windowsill or tall fiddle leaf figs in a sunny room. For greenery that has multiple uses, consider starting an herb garden so you’ll have fresh herbs year-round. No matter how you bring plants into your home you’re likely to find yourself enjoying the greenery you see each day.

Source: redfin.com

10 Relaxing Home Decor Ideas to Transform Your Space – Redfin

Much of our time these days is spent at home. Whether you’re still working from a home office, meal-prepping in your kitchen on weekends, or spending most of your leisure time looking at other homes for sale on your favorite real estate app, you may feel your home is not the calming space you’d hope it to be. Regardless of how you spend your time, your home is your sanctuary, where you should feel relaxed and be able to unwind from your daily life. If you want to design a more calming space but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.

From adding cozy blankets and scented candles to dedicating a space to practice meditation, creating a relaxing house is just a couple of design steps away. Whether you live in warm Los Angeles, CA, or rainy Seattle, WA, one of these 10 relaxing home decor ideas is sure to transform your home into an even more calming place you’ll be happy to spend time in.

relaxing-home-decor-ideas

relaxing-home-decor-ideas

1) Design your space with cozy fabrics

There’s no better place to start designing a calming space than decorating with cozy fabrics. Whether that’s getting a new throw blanket for your couch or reupholstering your chair with a crushed velvet fabric, you can decorate just about anything with textiles. Soft fabrics bring a soothing, cozy feel to your home and can make you feel like you’re in a serene environment no matter the season. So break out the quilts, incorporate a fuzzy shag carpet, or pick up some soft throw pillows to make your space more relaxing after a long day.

2) Create balance between colors

When looking for the right relaxing home decor idea, think about how you’ll strike a balance between the colors in your space. Rather than bringing in lots of bright colors, consider adding a pop of color with a pillow or throw blanket against a neutral couch or chair. Unless you find yourself drawn to vibrant colors, less is more when it comes to incorporating these statement elements in your home. 

3) Choose classic and calming decor ideas

When it comes to choosing relaxing home decor, you may find yourself tempted by all the up-and-coming home trends. Opting for the latest trends can be fun, but if it’s not something you totally love, chances are you may not feel that relaxed in your space. One of the keys is to pick trends that you like along with those that will stand the test of time. If you’re interested in a new style but not sure how that fits into your home, looking into reversible home design ideas may just be your best option. 

4) Carve out a space for yoga or meditation

Nothing makes a home more relaxing than creating a designated space to wind down. Whether that’s a simple corner of your living room or a small room of its own, you can easily design a space that feels secluded from the rest of your home. With a yoga mat or a floor pillow, a few green plants, and a photo you love, you can easily make a calming nook for your yoga flow or mindfulness practice.

relaxing-house

relaxing-house

5) Use a weighted blanket in your bedroom

Chances are you’ve heard about weighted blankets. If you haven’t, weighted blankets range from 5 to 30 pounds and mimic therapeutic techniques of deep pressure stimulation, much like a massage. For those that have trouble balancing work and home life, choosing a weighted blanket for your bed or living room may help you relax. Either way, having a great blanket is one of the easiest relaxing home decor ideas to bring into your space to help you shut off for the evening. 

6) Light candles or diffuse essential oils throughout your home

Scents can be the gateway to creating a relaxing environment in your home. Whether you gravitate towards a calming chamomile scent or the smell of lavender before you go to sleep, there’s an essential oil for everything. If you’re more of a candle user, you can find a variety of scents perfect for cultivating a relaxing space. Fresh baked cookies, check. Christmas cheer, check. Nothing beats lighting your favorite candle or turning on your essential oil diffuser after a long day and letting your favorite aromas fill your home.

7) Mood lighting makes a relaxing home

If the weather is gloomy or it’s dark by the time you finish your workday, some much needed light can be all you need for a peaceful home. From sun lamps that mimic the benefits of sunlight or just incorporating string lights throughout your home, the options are endless. You can easily make your space more relaxing by switching up your lights and bringing a new vibe to your home. 

bright-living-room

bright-living-room

8) Embrace any and all natural light

Natural light is one of the easiest elements to brighten up your space. But if you live in an apartment with minimal windows or your living room doesn’t let in much natural light, there’s no need to worry. It all starts with embracing what natural light you do have in your home. Highlight the windows with high drapes to draw your eyes upward or keep window shades pulled open for as long as the daylight hours allow. Making an effort to let in any light from clouds or sun into your home can make your space more calming and welcoming. 

9) Take inspiration from nature for relaxing home decor

If getting out into nature makes you feel more relaxed, look to nature for inspiration when designing your house to be more relaxing. Incorporating the right shade of wood furniture into your home can evoke feelings of the mountains or the beach. Consider lighting a Fraser fir-scented candle or adding a few drops of pine essential oil in your diffuser to bring the mountain relaxation into your home. Taking inspiration from nature may be as simple as hanging a picture of your favorite beach or lake. That way you’ll have a serene feeling every time you see the photo.

10) Incorporate a plant garden

Plants are known to be a great way to incorporate nature and its properties into your relaxing home decor. The key is to choose plants that work with your space, like small succulents against a windowsill or tall fiddle leaf figs in a sunny room. For greenery that has multiple uses, consider starting an herb garden so you’ll have fresh herbs year-round. No matter how you bring plants into your home you’re likely to find yourself enjoying the greenery you see each day.

Source: redfin.com