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February 2007


Many times I have been asked questions by people specifically about their credit.  Here are a few examples of frequently asked questions.  Does it hurt me if someone accesses my credit? I have a few credit cards with high credit limits but no outstanding balances.  I heard that the potential to run up your credit cards is frowned upon by credit bureaus.  To establish credit, I was told that you can open a credit card, but you must use it and keep a balance.  Are these facts or fallacies?

Inquiries into your credit are sometimes harmful, but only if done excessively within a short period of time, and usually are only harmful to fragile credit ( scores below 600 ).  If you have a credit score in the 700s, you need not worry about a few inquiries now and then.  They are necessary in order to apply for any form of credit.

Having some credit cards with high limits but no balances does not hurt your credit rating at all.  On the contrary,  showing balances much lower than the high credit limits boosts your credit rating. 

Establishing credit means opening new accounts.  If you open a revolving charge card of any type and don't use it,  the credit bureau will continue to show on time payment history throughout the lifetime of the account.  Whether or not you show a balance doesn't effect the payment history.  The payment history will show as paid on time even if you never used the card.  Make sure that when you use the card all the payments must be made on time.

Next time you are at a cocktail party and you overhear a know-it-all telling these so-called facts about credit, you can set them straight.

Andy Williams

EHJM Mortgage Corp


A Real Estate Agent's Worst Nightmare?

I have noticed a trend, lately, in a certain age group of buyer, the 25-35 set.  Because I am turning <sniff> 40 this year, I can call them kids, right?  (If you are reading this and are in this age group, please do not be offended, BE PROUD AND ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS lol).

Anyway...these buyers come to me, usually by way of the internet, and they are amazingly prepared & educated on the general real estate market.  The New York Times calls them Prepared and Fearless.  And rightfully so...they've researched the area, they subscribe to blogs about buying homes and get all kinds of advice and information before they reach me.  I am pleased to say that most of the information they are getting online is fairly accurate and they are ready to be informed about our specific local market.  I love these buyers because, while they do test one's knowledge and experience, educated consumers are easier to work with.  Armed with checklists of questions and spreadsheets with which to compare suitable properties, they get right to the point...narrowing down the list of homes to see with razor-like precision and knowing the right property when they see it.  Call me crazy but the more exacting a buyer is about the whole process, the better I like it.  I've joked with one saying that I am going to start advertising that I specialize in working with Type A personalities!

The only bit of advice I have for these buyers is:  find the right agent and hire them as your Buyer's Agent, and then listen carefully to their advice.  While you may have researched your purchase for a couple of weeks or even months, the agent you'll likely pick has been learning the business for years, and has practiced the art of purchasing a property more times in a month than you will probably do in a lifetime.  I guess the point is, know what you don't know and find someone trustworthy who can fill in the blanks for you.


1st Rights of Refusal-What Sellers in Penn Estates Should Know

You may or may not know that the developer of Penn Estates, Cranberry Hill Corp., reserved for themselves, through a Deed Restriction (aka Covenant), the right to purchase properties back at the time they are offered for sale and a buyer is found.  Basically how it works is this:  a seller markets his or her home or lot for sale and finds a buyer.  The buyer and seller negotiate the terms of the Agreement of Sale.  Once all is agreed to and the proper documents are signed, the seller (or their agent or attorney) must advise Cranberry Hill of the terms of the contract.   Cranberry Hill then has 30 days in which to excersise their right to buy the property at the agreed upon terms.  Up until recently, there was a charge imposed for the Release of this Right to be signed, somewhere between $100 & $200, to be paid by the Seller of the property, and no one really thought much of it.

However, not too long ago, Cranberry Hill assigned these Rights of Refusal to another company, Penn Vista Associates.  This company then raised the fee for the signature on the Release to $485, an astronomical amount in my opinion.  Effectively this company seeks to make $40,000+ per year for doing nothing but signing off on 100+ sales a year.  Anyway, I digress.... 

Rougly 2/3 of the homes in our Community are subject to this requirement.  If your lot is part of the original, pre-1989 subdivision plan, you may not be affected.  However, if you plan to sell your home I suggest you find out for sure, before you put your house on the market, if this Covenant exists in your chain of title.  If it does, you will need to discuss this with your agent and your attorney early on in the process.  Obviously, this extra cost can affect your anticipated bottom line when you are calculating your sale expenses, but I do know of some Sellers who have avoided paying the $485 under specific conditions and circumstances.  But, as this can become a legal issue and affect the quality of the title you are conveying, you should discuss this possibility with your attorney to be sure you are properly protected.