Dick Stoner | Rockville Real Estate, Gaithersburg Real Estate, Frederick Real Estate


Ready to sell your condo? Ultimately, listing a condo can be simple, particularly for condo sellers who plan ahead.

Now, let's take a look at three questions that condo owners need to consider before listing their properties.

1. What do I need to do to sell my condo?

Condo rules and regulations vary. As such, you should consult with your homeowners' association (HOA) to find out if there are any requirements related to selling your condo.

For example, an HOA may require a new property buyer to receive HOA board approval to purchase a condo in a particular community. Or, if you have outstanding condo fees, you probably will need to pay off these charges before you can sell your property.

2. How much is my condo worth?

Although your condo community likely hires landscapers to help keep your property looking great, it is important to understand that a condo's interior plays an important role in the property's value. Thus, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to upgrade your condo's interior. This will enable you to improve your condo's interior and help it stand out to property buyers, thereby increasing the likelihood of a quick condo sale.

In addition, completing a property appraisal usually is an excellent idea. A property appraiser will inspect your condo and evaluate various housing market data to help you pinpoint the value of your residence. Then, you can obtain a property valuation that can help you establish a competitive price for your condo.

3. Do I need to hire a real estate agent?

When it comes to selling a condo, it often pays to hire a real estate agent. However, it is important to note that no two real estate agents are identical, and you should try to find a real estate agent who possesses extensive condo selling expertise.

Let's face it – a condo is very different from a house. A condo owner does not have to worry about property exterior maintenance in the same way that a homeowner does. Conversely, a condo owner must follow HOA requirements; otherwise, this property owner may face steep penalties.

A real estate agent with condo selling expertise understands the pros and cons of owning a condo. Therefore, this housing market professional knows how to work with condo sellers and ensure these individuals can achieve their desired results.

Typically, a real estate agent will meet with a condo owner and learn about his or her property selling goals. After the meeting, a real estate agent will help a condo owner map out a successful condo selling journey.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent with condo selling expertise is ready to respond to a property seller's concerns and questions. This housing market professional also will go above and beyond the call of duty to exceed a condo seller's expectations.

Take the guesswork out of selling your condo – consider the aforementioned questions, and you can speed up the property selling process.


Everyone knows that their credit score will affect the mortgage they qualify for and the interest rate they receive. The details of how exactly those numbers are arrived at, however, are a bit hazy for the average prospective homeowner.

This confusion is due to a number of reasons. Chief among them is the fact that your average person isn’t well-versed in credit terminology or the variables that go into determining their credit scores.

In this article, I’m going to break down credit scores and credit bureaus, then discuss how each of them affects the mortgage rate you could receive. Then, we’ll talk about some ways you can boost your score to qualify for a better rate.

Anatomy of a credit score

Credit scores are determined by five main variables. In order of importance, they are:

  • 35%: your payment history on loans, bills, credit cards, etc.

  • 30%: your total debt amount for all of your accounts

  • 15%: length of your credit history (how long you’ve had open accounts for loans, credit cards, etc.)

  • 10%: types of credit you have used (auto loan, student loan, credit card… diversity of loans matters)

  • 10%: recent credit inquiries (such as taking out new loans or opening new credit cards)

To have a “good” (over 700) or “excellent” (over 750) credit score, you’ll need to focus on each of these factors. For most people, paying their bills on time over a long enough timeline is enough to get them into the excellent range.

But things happen in life. People forget to pay an important bill, they have financial emergencies, or they have to take out a loan for an unforeseeable expense.

The credit bureaus

So, who are the people that determine your credit score?

There are three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Lenders will look at reports from all three bureaus to determine your rate. Due to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, consumers are able to receive a free copy of their credit report from each bureau once per year.

Since then, companies like Credit Karma have made credit reports even more accessible. Users are able to check in on their credit as often as they want free of charge.

Since much of your credit score is out of your hands, at least in the short-term, what can you do to help boost your score over the next few months to increase your chances of getting a good interest rate on your loan? Two things.

Credit and mortgages

So, just how much of an impact does your credit score have on your mortgage rate? Having an excellent score can give you a full percentage point lower on your monthly interest rate.

One percent doesn’t seem like much, but over the period of a 30-year loan that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars that you could have saved if you had a better credit score. As you can imagine, having an extra $2,000 per year can be quite helpful to a new homeowner.

So, what can you do to boost your score?

Make corrections

Since you have access to free credit reports be sure to go through your detailed report a few months before you plan to apply for a mortgage. Report any harmful errors to help you increase your score.

Don’t apply for new credit

The period from now until you apply for a mortgage is an important one. If you make new credit inquiries (i.e., open up new credit cards, take out new loans, etc.), your score will temporarily decrease. Wait until after you sign on your mortgage to take out other loans.


If you’re buying your first home, there are plenty of things that you’ll need to know. Being informed will allow you to avoid some of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make. These errors and their remedies can be found below. Don't join the crowd and make an error, know before you buy. 


They Don’t Have Enough Funds


Every homebuyer plans for mortgage payments. Not every buyer plans for all of the other costs that go along with buying a home. Just because you can afford mortgage payments doesn't;t necessarily mean that you can afford the house. 


There’s so much financially that goes into owning a home. You’ll need to plan for things like home maintenance, insurance, taxes, closing costs, and more. All of this will need to be saved ahead of time in order to buy and maintain a house. Things like property tax and insurance can go up yearly, and these costs can be very unexpected. 


Not Securing A Loan


If you don’t secure a loan first and find the home of your dreams, you could be in for trouble. If you haven’t been pre-approved for a mortgage, finding a home and putting an offer in is a bit riskier. Many buyers don’t realize that they can’t qualify for the amount of loan that they think they can. Getting pre-qualified allows buyers to understand just how much house they can afford. 


Avoiding Real Estate Agents


If buyers go it alone, they are taking a risk. The seller pays the real estate agent fees in a home transaction. You really have nothing to lose getting a professional to help you. From there, your agent can recommend all sorts of professionals to assist you in your home search including lawyers, mortgage companies, home inspectors, and others. It’s essential for a smooth home transaction to work with people who are experienced and know what they’re doing.    



Depleting Your Savings


When you buy your first home, you’re going to need a reserve of cash beyond what you have saved for a downpayment. This cash includes an emergency fund, money for repairs, furniture, new appliances, and other unexpected expenses. If you use all of your savings on a downpayment, you’ll be in a dangerous financial situation. Just make sure you have saved enough extra for a rainy day fund.


Opening New Accounts


Before your loan is closed, you should be frozen- financially frozen that is! Don’t open any new accounts. It can be tempting to head out and buy a new car that will look good in your new driveway or to fill your house with all sorts of brand new furniture, but you should wait. Once you get the keys to your new home, you’re in the clear to spend again and open new accounts. You don’t want to overextend your budget of course. Just be sensible!      



When you’re gearing up to make the largest purchase of your entire life, you have a lot to think about. There’s also a lot of emotion involved in the entire process. You don’t want those emotions to get in the way, causing you unnecessary regret in your purchase. A home is not like a sweater that you can head to the store and return. What do current homeowners wish that they did differently in their home purchase? Below, you’ll find some of the most common regrets of homeowners. If you know what to look out for, you can avoid the same kind of buyer’s remorse in your own home purchase. 



Not Doing Research First


In hot markets, it can be hard to find the time to do the research and secure the home you want. Before you even begin searching one thing you should have a handle on is location. You probably have a general idea of where you’d like to live. You can research these neighborhoods ahead of time in order to understand the makeup of the area. You should take a look at everything form schools to safety to the amenities close to the location of choice. Do this for a few different areas so that you’re completely prepared before you even head out on the house hunt. Even if you end up in an area you never pictured, if you have a general idea of the spots you’re looking at, it will be much easier to tell what a neighborhood will be like to live in ahead of time. The best advice is not to pin yourself down to searching in one area. 


Not Knowing Anything About The House


If you failed to pay attention during the home inspection, didn’t ask a lot of questions, or were just blind to some of the issues that were apparent in the home you bought, you could be in for quite a surprise. Understanding the problems a home has is one thing but knowing how much those repairs are going to cost is another. If you are trying to beat the competition by skipping the home inspection or waiving contingencies, you may end up being pretty unhappy in your new home with an empty wallet. Some repairs cost more than you know and it’s important to be aware of what needs to be done in the home before you sign on the dotted line.   


Missing Out On A Big Downpayment


Sometimes that little extra bit of savings can really help. Even though many first time homeowners are simply eager to get into a home, waiting a bit and saving more for a downpayment can significantly lower the longterm costs of homeownership. This includes things like fees, interest rates, and PMI (private mortgage insurance). Also, having a larger downpayment can help you to get a house that you really want when the market is highly competitive. You’ll appear more reliable to sellers. Remember that the higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payment will be.     

  


If you’re a first-time homebuyer, odds are you’ve thrown the words “prequalified” and “preapproved” interchangeably. However, when it comes to home loans, there are some very important differences between the two.

For buyers hoping to purchase a home with a few missteps and misunderstandings as possible, it’s vital to understand the procedures involved in acquiring financing for a home.

Today, we’ll break down these two real estate jargon terms so that you can go into the mortgage approval process armed with the knowledge to help you succeed in securing a home loan.

Mortgage prequalification

Let’s start with the easy part--mortgage prequalification. Getting prequalified helps borrowers find out what kind and what size mortgage they can likely secure financing for. It also helps lenders establish a relationship with potential customers, which is why you will often see so many ads for mortgage prequalification around the web.

Prequalification is a relatively simple process. You’ll be asked to provide an overview of your finances, which your lender will plug into a formula and then report back to you whether or not you’re likely to get approved based on your current circumstances.

The lender will ask you for general information about your income, assets, debt, and credit. You won’t need to provide exact documents for these things at this phase in the process, since you have not yet technically applied for a mortgage.

Prequalification exists to give you a broad picture of what you can expect. You can use this information to plan for the future, or you can seek out other lenders for a second opinion. But, before you start shopping for homes, you’ll want to make sure you’re preapproved, not prequalified.

Mortgage preapproval

After you’ve prequalified, you can start thinking about preapproval. If you’re serious about buying a home in the near future, getting preapproved will simplify your buying process. It will also make sellers more likely to take you seriously, since you already have your financing partially secured.

Mortgage preapproval requires you to provide the lender with income documentation. They will also perform a credit inquiry to receive your FICO score.

Mortgage applications and credit scores

Before we talk about the rest of the preapproval process, we need to address one common issue that buyers face when applying for a mortgage. There are two types of credit inquiries that lenders can perform to view your credit history--hard inquiries and soft inquiries.

A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score. But a hard inquiry can lower your score by a few points for a period of 1 to 2 months. So, when getting preapproved, you should expect your credit score to drop temporarily.

After preapproval

Once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, you can safely begin looking at homes. If you decide to make an offer on a home and your offer is accepted, your preapproval will make it easier to move forward in closing on the home.

Once the lender checks off on the house you’re making an offer on, they will send you a loan commitment letter, enabling you to move forward with closing on the home.