Archive for August, 2014

My credit score is what?!?!

The creator of one of the most widely used and influential credit scores, FICO, said that the latest version of its score would no longer weigh medical debts — which account for about half of all unpaid collections on consumers’ credit reports — as heavily as it did in previous iterations. The newer FICO scores, available this fall, will also ignore any overdue payments that have already been made. Previously, the scores factored paid and unpaid collections equally, though it ignored amounts under $100. FICO credit scores, which have become consumers’ financial passport to just about everything from rental apartments to most loans such as mortgages, are based on the information in an individual’s credit reports, which are generated by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The scores are based on a 300- to 850-point scale. Because of the new scoring model, individuals with a median score of 711 — and an otherwise clean credit history, except for unpaid medical debts — may see their FICO score rise by 25 points. As a result, many consumers may qualify for more attractive interest rates on various loans, potentially resulting in thousands of dollars in savings. “It probably doesn’t mean the difference between an approval and a denial, but it can mean the difference in a more advantageous rate,” said John Ulzheimer, a credit expert at Credit Sesame, a consumer credit website, and a former FICO employee. But consumers whose credit files are tarnished only by unpaid medical debts that went to collection agencies — but were ultimately settled or paid — are likely to see a much greater increase in their scores. “That is when you could expect to see your score go through the roof,” said Mr. Ulzheimer.  Source: NY Times — Not sure where your score puts you with regard to being eligible for a home purchase or refinance? A quick and simple analysis may let you know how to get in position to take advantage of these upcoming changes. Just contact me and I will help you get started.

When it comes to smart homes, consumers are more interested in their security features than the gadgets that control the homes’ appliances. New research by Icontrol Networks, a home technology company, shows that 90 percent of 932 respondents recently surveyed say that security is one of the most important reasons for using a smart-home system. In fact, 67 percent rank it the No.1 reason, and the majority of consumers say security is a must-have in any home automation, according to Icontrol’s 2014 State of the Smart Home Report. Fire and carbon monoxide alarms, as well as gas leak alarms, were listed as top security features, according to the survey. “For now, safety and security are driving initial mass market adoption,” says Jim Johnson, executive vice president of Icontrol Networks. “But the convenience associated with a connected home will likely play a greater role as consumers realize how much easier automation makes their lives.” Seventy-eight percent of respondents also ranked energy management as one of the top features that matter most to them in a smart home. HVAC heating and cooling management was cited as the most important feature in helping to reduce utility bills. Nearly 43 percent of respondents say they’d be interested in replacing their thermostat with a “smart thermostat,” one that automatically adjusts when the home is occupied. Source: Builder

International buyers continue to flock to the U.S. to purchase and invest in properties. Favorable exchange rates, affordable home prices, and rising affluence abroad is driving interest, according to the 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity conducted by the National Association of Realtors®. From April 2013 through March 2014, total international sales are estimated at $92.2 billion, a rise from $68.2 billion from the previous period, NAR reports. Twenty-eight percent of Realtors® reported working with international clients this year. “We live in an international marketplace; so while all real estate is local, that does not mean that all property buyers are,” says Steve Brown, NAR’s president. “Foreign buyers are being enticed to U.S. real estate because of what they recognize as attractive prices, economic stability, and an incredible opportunity for investment in their future.” International buyers are coming to the United States from all over the world, but the highest interest in U.S. property is being driven by Canada, China, Mexico, India, and the United Kingdom, which accounted for about 54 percent of all reported international transactions. Canadian residents continue to have the largest share of U.S. purchases, but dropped their share from 23 percent in 2013 to 19 percent in 2014. Buyers from China hold the lead in dollar volume, purchasing an estimated $22 billion with an average sale cost of $590,826, according to the NAR study. China was also the fastest-growing source of transactions, now accounting for 16 percent of all purchases, up 4 percent from last year. In 2014, nearly 60 percent of reported international transactions were all cash, compared to only one-third of domestic purchases. The survey also revealed that 42% of foreign buyers use their U.S. home as a primary residence. Source: NAR 

 

Information courtesy of Franklin American Mortgage

 

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15 Things Highly Confident People Don’t Do

Old Republic Home Protection (ORHP) - In Touch Newsletter

15 Things Highly Confident People Don’t Do15 Things Highly Confident People Don’t Do
By Daniel Wallen

Highly confident people believe in their ability to achieve. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else put their faith in you? To walk with swagger and improve your self-confidence, watch out for these fifteen things highly confident people don’t do.

1. They don’t make excuses.

Highly confident people take ownership of their thoughts and actions. They don’t blame the traffic for being tardy for work; they were late. They don’t excuse their short-comings with excuses, such as “I don’t have the time” or “I’m just not good enough”; they make the time and they keep on improving until they are good enough.

2. They don’t avoid doing the scary thing.

Highly confident people don’t let fear dominate their lives. They know that the things they are afraid of doing are often the very same things that they need to do in order to evolve into the person they are meant to be.

3. They don’t live in a bubble of comfort.

Highly confident people avoid the comfort zone because they know this is a place where dreams die. They actively pursue a feeling of discomfort because they know stretching themselves is mandatory for their success.

4. They don’t put things off until next week.

Highly confident people know that a good plan executed today is better than a great plan executed someday. They don’t wait for the “right time” or the “right circumstances,” because they know these reactions are based on a fear of change. They take action here, now, today—because that’s where progress happens.

5. They don’t obsess over the opinions of others.

Highly confident people don’t get caught up in negative feedback. While they do care about the well-being of others and aim to make a positive impact in the world, they don’t get caught up in negative opinions that they can’t do anything about. They know that their true friends will accept them as they are, and they don’t concern themselves with the rest.

6. They don’t judge people.

Highly confident people have no tolerance for unnecessary, self-inflicted drama. They don’t feel the need to insult friends behind their backs, participate in gossip about fellow co-workers, or lash out at folks with different opinions. They are so comfortable in who they are that they feel no need to look down on other people.

7. They don’t let lack of resources stop them.

Highly confident people can make use of whatever resources they have, no matter how big or small. They know that all things are possible with creativity and a refusal to quit. They don’t agonize over setbacks, but rather focus on finding a solution.

8. They don’t make comparisons.

Highly confident people know that they are not competing with any other person. They compete with no other individual except the person they were yesterday. They know that every person is living a story so unique that drawing comparisons would be an absurd and simplistic exercise in futility.

9. They don’t find joy in people-pleasing.

Highly confident people have no interest in pleasing every person they meet. They are aware that not all people get along, and that’s just how life works. They focus on the quality of their relationships, instead of the quantity of them.

10. They don’t need constant reassurance.

Highly confident people aren’t in need of hand-holding. They know that life isn’t fair and things won’t always go their way. While they can’t control every event in their lives, they focus on their power to react in a positive way that moves them forward.

11. They don’t avoid life’s inconvenient truths.

Highly confident people confront life’s issues at the root before the disease can spread any farther. They know that problems left unaddressed have a way of multiplying as the days, weeks, and months go by. They would rather have an uncomfortable conversation with their partner today than sweep an inconvenient truth under the rug, putting trust at risk.

12. They don’t quit because of minor set-backs.

Highly confident people get back up every time they fall down. They know that failure is an unavoidable part of the growth process. They are like detectives, searching for clues that reveal why this approach didn’t work. After modifying their plan, they try again (but better this time).

13. They don’t require anyone’s permission to act.

Highly confident people take action without hesitation. Every day, they remind themselves, “If not me, who?”

14. They don’t limit themselves to a small toolbox.

Highly confident people don’t limit themselves to plan A. They make use of any and all weapons at their disposal, relentlessly testing the effectiveness of every approach until they identify the strategies that offer the most results for the least cost in time and effort.

15. They don’t blindly accept what they read as “truth” without thinking about it.

Highly confident people don’t accept articles on the Internet as truth just because some author “said so.” They look at every how-to article from the lens of their unique perspective. They maintain a healthy skepticism, making use of any material that is relevant to their lives and forgetting about the rest. While articles like this are a fun and interesting thought-exercise, highly confident people know that they are the only person with the power to decide what “confidence” means.

Daniel Wallen is the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of the Wallen Way. He is a personal trainer, Lifehack contributor, and author of The Busy Woman’s Guide to Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous. Click here to access his e-mail course, the Mind + Body Make-Over.