My Latest Reviews

Everyone can toot their horn every now and then, right? Well, as you know- My Team Rocks! Here are some of our latest reviews on Zillow:

-Highly likely to recommend

08/19/2014 – Talbert Family

Bought a Single Family home in 2014 in Graniteville, SC
Both Sonia and Natalie worked very hard to ensure my husband and I found and obtained the perfect home for our family. They coached and assisted us with negotiating our offer down $9,000 and also got us some extra perks like blinds for the entire home and ceiling fans for all our bedrooms. They both know the home buying process well enough to make anyone comfortable with buying a home. Not only were they well versed in all aspects in home buying, they were more than realtors. They were counselors and our best cheerleaders. Moving is very exciting, but can also be a stressful time. It took longer than 5 months for us to bid on houses and then settle on purchasing a new construction home. We also had delays with closing. However, Sonia and Natalie were patient and kept us encouraged throughout it all. We were blessed to have them on our team and would not hesitate to refer either of them.
- Highly likely to recommend

07/11/2014 – Jim

Bought a home in 2014.
- Highly likely to recommend

07/27/2014 – Patrick

Bought a home in 2014.
I just recently bought my first home with the help of Heather Story. She showed me a few homes until I found what I needed. After deciding on the house I wanted, she had the negotiated contract ready and signed by the seller the next day! She made buying my first home very quick and easy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Credit Scores may be changing…

FICO, the nation’s most popular credit-scoring system, announced it is tweaking some of the criteria used in coming up with consumers’ scores, which could help consumers save more money in qualifying for mortgages and other types of loans.

FICO recently told lenders their high credit score “cutoffs” were stricter than necessary, and urged lenders to consider lowering minimum score requirements.

The changes include reducing the toll that overdue medical bills can take on credit scores, as well as removing other past penalties from consumers who have paid off debts that had been assigned to collection agencies. A consumer whose only major delinquency comes from an unpaid medical bill could see their credit score rise by 25 points due to the changes.

The changes come after a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study, which found that both paid and unpaid medical debts were unfairly penalizing consumers’ credit ratings. An estimated 64 million Americans have a medical collection item on their credit reports, according to Nick Clements of Magnify Money, a personal finance site.

The FICO changes will go into effect this fall, but borrowers may have to wait a year or more until they see the impact of the changes in their scores, lenders say.

The changes may help consumers with blemished past credit histories or high medical debts qualify for mortgages more easily. Consumers with higher scores also might qualify for a lower rate, housing experts say.

“In recent years the [credit score requirement] has been dialed so tightly that only fairly upper-tier consumers were able to qualify for a loan,” says Lawrence Yun, National Association of REALTORS®’ chief economist. “We’re looking at people who are currently being denied potentially being offered a mortgage because of this.”

In June, the average FICO score for a closed mortgage was 728, a drop from 742 a year prior, according to data from Ellie Mae, a company that processes mortgage applications for lenders. FICO scores range from 300 to 850.

Borrowers with higher FICO scores can usually expect to pay less in interest on a loan. A borrower with a FICO score of 675 may nab a 4.75 percent interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which would be about  $2,086 a month in payments on a $400,000 loan, according to Informa Research Services. In comparison, a borrower with a 700 FICO score may qualify for a rate of 4.212 percent, which could drop the monthly payment to $1,959 and bring a $127 savings.

The credit scoring changes will not remove any unpaid debts from a credit report, so some lenders may still be able to factor that information into their lending decision.

“This move will ultimately make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans, who have been shut out of the housing market or forced to pay higher mortgage interest rates because of flawed credit scores,” Steve Brown, NAR’s president, said in a statement. “Since the housing crash, overly restrictive lending has been the greatest obstacle to home ownership. NAR will continue to support efforts to broaden access to credit for qualified homebuyers.”

In other news, two of the big national credit bureaus Experian and TransUnion recently reported they’ve  added verified rental payment data into credit files, which will be used to compute a consumers’ score when applying for a mortgage. A recent TransUnion study showed that the inclusion of rental data could raise some consumers’ scores. For example, nearly 20 percent of renters’ scores rose by 10 points or more after just one month.



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Is your home “dressed to impress”?

living room 2To stage or not to stage is often the subject of many debates. It may not be the greatest of a debates, but it has come to question many times. If you’ve never heard or read that staged homes show better and sell faster, then read on. Staging offers the opportunity for the buyer to envision themselves living in a property by giving them “perspective” on where they would actually place their own furniture. A furnished home just stands out over vacant homes.

The truth is, if a property doesn’t show as well as competing properties it is likely to sit on the market a little longer. Proper staging of your home, whether occupied or vacant, will help your home show better, sell quicker and demand a higher price. Something else that may pleasantly surprise you is, staging a vacant home isn’t necessarily cost prohibitive.

From curb appeal to furnishings and decor to lighting and atmosphere, the first impression should be a captivating impression on potential buyers. From the moment the buyers walk in and as they walk through each room they should be able to imagine themselves living in the home.

If you have already moved out of the property remember cold, vacant listings don’t tend to stand out in comparison to carefully staged competitors. So, how do you showcase a property to make it show like a model?

Curb Appeal – Grab their attention before they get out of the car. Make sure the lawn and landscaping are well maintained.

Furnishing and Decor – A nicely furnished and decorated home not only creates a welcoming environment. It also allows the buyer to envision living in the home. Using a staging professional to help arrange the home in a manner that presents the home’s greatest potential can make the difference in number of days on market and the quality of offers received.

Clean and Declutter – One would think this goes without saying. There are many homes on the market that are shown “AS IS.” A cluttered and unclean home is a big distraction. It also creates an uncomfortable showing experience for the buyer and the agent. While it seems pushing things away in closets or in the garage is the easy solution, this is actually a bad idea. Clutter detracts from the actual usable space. A thorough cleaning is always a great investment for a listed home.

Lighting and Atmosphere – The home should always be shown “in its best light”…pun intended! Turn on the lights, open window treatments, raise the blinds! Let the light shine in. Dark and gloomy homes don’t show well. Additionally, make sure the temperature is comfortable inside the home. The home should also smell clean and fresh.

This is just a basic overview of what it takes to get your home “dressed to sell” before you put it on the market. If you are still living in your home while it is on the market, you will still need to “stage” your home for presentation and presence. Working with an agent who is knowledgeable and experienced in home marketing can get you off to a great start in preparing your home. As an experienced agent,  I can successfully manage staging as an integral part of your property’s marketing plan. In a seller’s market, staging can sell a house on the first day it’s listed. In a buyer’s market, it can sell a house in a matter of days – not months. Staging is an absolute must, for every house, in every price range, in every market. I can help get the job done.

If you’re in the market to sell give me a call and let’s work together on a marketing plan to get it SOLD!