July 2018 Housing Market Recap

July existing home sales dropped for the fourth month in a row, and hit their lowest rate in over 2 years. Prices increased again, as they have for over 6 years. The pace of sales was one day slower than it was in June, but homes are still selling quickly, with days on the market below 30. There are some regional variations in sales, but the overall picture shows a very tight market. I hate to say it, but lack of inventory has become the never-ending story. In a nutshell, the July 2018 Housing Market Recap: Sales Drop, Prices Rise.

July existing home sales dropped by 0.7 percent compared to June, and were 1.5 percent lower than July 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) July Existing Home Sales Report, released August 22nd. This is the fifth month of year-over-year decreases.

Inventory fell from June to July by 0.5 percent, and was unchanged from a year ago. At the current sales pace, the supply of unsold inventory was 4.3 months, the same as a year ago.

Home prices continued to increase year-over-year. The median price of existing homes sold in July was $269,600, an increase of 4.5 percent from July 2017 ($258,100). We’ve now reached 77 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

Days on the market (DOM) were up slightly from June, moving from 26 to 27, but that’s not much of a difference. A year ago, homes typically stayed on the market for 30 days, so the sales pace has increased slightly year-over-year.

According to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, “Listings continue to go under contract in under month, which highlights the feedback from Realtors® that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties,” said Yun. “Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new home construction is not keeping up to meet demand.”

Regional variations. The Northeast took the biggest hit in home sales, dropping by 8.3 percent from June, and 1.5 percent from a year ago. The West was the one region where sales increased, rising by 4.4 percent from June but falling 4.0 percent compared to July 2017. Prices rose year-over-year in every region, up 2.5 percent in the Midwest, 2.7 percent in the South, 5.1 percent in the West, and 6.8 percent in the Northeast. Midland, TX remained at the top of the hottest metro areas list (measured by days on the market/listing views per property). The rest of the Top 10 are Fort Wayne, IN, Boise City, ID, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA, Columbus, OH, Colorado Springs, CO, Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI, Racine, WI, Vallejo-Fairfield, CA, and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV.

I want to buy a home! Don’t be discouraged; be prepared. Think financing first. Give The Crosby Team a call to find out what loan options are available to you. Work with a Realtor® who knows the area where you want to buy a home, if you don’t have a Realtor® we’d be happy to refer one of our trusted partners. Internet searches are popular and valuable, but if you rely solely on online information, your dream home may be gone before you can view it.

Timothy M. Sheahan, Jr.
Executive Vice President | Secondary Marketing

Home Buyers Be Aware

The team at First Choice Loan Services Inc. loves providing you with a seamless mortgage experience. There’s a special thrill when you close on your home, for everyone involved. Sometimes, there are other people who also may be excited about your loan closing, but they were not involved in your mortgage transaction. Unfortunately, when a loan is closed, some of your contact information becomes public record. Outside vendors obtain this information and use it to market to you. Some will even do so using our name, misleading you that it comes from First Choice Loan Services. That’s why it’s good for home buyers be aware.

Please note, First Choice Loan Services does not sell your information to anyone. We highly value you and want to help you work diligently to protect your information. While we are unable to prevent unscrupulous vendors from using public information for their gain, we can provide you a few ways to protect yourself by being taken advantage of by them.

Look Out. Any marketing or communication you receive directly from First Choice Loan Services will include our logo and should use an email address with “@fcloans.com” in it. If both of those are not included, then be careful. It’s likely from an unapproved outside vendor. Also, there have been reports of companies requiring the purchase of a gift card before completing a loan application. This is not a practice ever done by First Choice Loan Services and is a misrepresentation of our process.

Do Not Call. Remember to visit the national Do Not Call registry at https://www.donotcall.gov/ where you are able to register your phone numbers on a list of phone numbers vendors are not to call. This process takes up to 30 days. If solicitation calls still continue, you are able to use this website to also report unwanted calls.

Opt-Out. At the bottom of email solicitations, you should see an “opt out” link. You can follow that to prevent future emails from that particular vendor. On a grander scale, you are able to visit https://www.optoutprescreen.com/ (or call 888-5-OPTOUT) for an opt-out process in which you can remove yourself from receiving prescreen offers of credit and insurance for 5 years or permanently. This process takes up to 5 days to take effect.

You are important to us, and so is your information. Although we can’t stop the access of public information, we hope you still take these easy steps to prevent any confusion.

Contact The Crosby Team at First Choice Loan Services today if you need any clarification or have any questions about protecting yourself!

Chad Peterson
Senior Vice President, Communications

Back to School Season is Here

Back to school. Those words can bring dread to students and relief to parents. Depending on where you are located in the country, the first day of school is approaching or may have just recently arrived. As we venture into the middle of August, we can’t deny it; the back to school season is here.

To add to the back to school tips we’ve shared before, we wanted to provide more ideas about how to make the transition into this school year successful for the entire family!

1.Watch your language. We all have opinions, especially when it comes to thinking about our personal feelings or experiences in school. As best you can, allow your children to develop their own thoughts on the subject. Emphasize the excitement of beginning a new grade with friends over stressing the end of a summer fun. Instead of painting it in a bad light or as something that should be dreaded or feared, highlight all there is to look forward to. It’s amazing the impact your tone on the subject has. Let your optimism be contagious and build their confidence in the year ahead.

2.Like every holiday or season, the commercials around this time of year remind you there’s shopping to do. It’s important to remember that you may not have to spend as much as you think. There are ways to save all around. You can save quite a bit by buying in bulk at stores like Costco. For parents with more than one child heading back to the classroom, this could help out a lot. Another opportunity for those with more than one student in the family is the ability to reuse items that might be required. If your home desk or office space is anything like mine, you have a good number of pens, pencils and other items that might be one the list of supplies. Before going shopping, see what can be repurposed for the school year ahead. That includes notebooks; to help the student make it more customized for him or her, make an art project out of decorating the cover. Lastly, never forget the basics. Plenty of stores selling school supplies will have coupons available either in the newspaper (remember those?), through the mail and/or online.

3.We’re all motivated in different ways. Consider how your children are motivated as students and make a system where they are rewarded for their hard work. Just like every professional enjoys a paycheck after they complete their jobs and responsibilities, your students could want the same, although it doesn’t have to come in monetary form. Homework could be rewarded with TV time. Successful test scores earn a dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. Good grades might bring a fun outing to the bowling alley. As you set these goals, try to keep the measurements of “success” and “good” relative your child. Everyone has different learning styles and capacities. Challenge their limits while keeping the goals attainable.

4.With summer, a lot of time magically appears for students. Without the hours spent in the classroom, their schedules open up quite a bit. It’s during this season that many new activities and hobbies are picked up. It provides awesome opportunities for young people to learn new skills and also become aware of talents they possess. When school starts, though, it may be time to pull back on some of the extracurricular activities that filled their time during the summer. Ideally, one or two of the activities can stay on the calendar. Outside involvements can help your student develop into a well-rounded adult. It’ll be wise to ease outside activities gradually into the schedule instead of starting off the school year over-committed. No need to start off with stress and have burnout by Halloween.

Education, like home ownership, is an exciting journey! Whatever grade your students are starting, we hope these four tips help them start the year off on the right foot on the path to success!

Senior Vice President, Communications

5 Reasons to Refinance

When you think of refinancing your home loan, what comes to mind? Saving money with a lower rate or shorter term may top the list. Maybe you’re in an adjustable rate mortgage and you’d like the predictability of a fixed rate loan. Perhaps you’d like to take money out to pay for college, a renovation or a new business venture but you’re wondering if it’s possible. With the continuing trend of rising home prices, you may have equity in your home that you can tap for important purposes. Here are 5 reasons to refinance your home.

1.Lower Your Rate. This is the first thing most people think of when they think of refinancing: I’ll refinance to a lower rate and save on my monthly mortgage payment. You may have heard that there’s a number to tell you when to do this, such as when rates are a certain percentage lower than your current rate. Guess what? There is no such number. Furthermore, if you just watch rates you may miss another opportunity. If your credit score has improved since you took out your current home loan, you may qualify for a lower rate. The only way to know if you can save money is to review your current home loan with an experienced mortgage loan originator.

2.Shorten Your Term. Refinancing to a shorter term has the potential to save you a lot of money over the length of your loan, even though you may have a higher monthly payment. It depends upon the length of time left on your current loan, among other factors. You may need to exercise greater financial discipline in the short term, but the long-term reward as you save on interest could be significant. How do you find out? Talk to an experienced mortgage loan originator. (You may be sensing a trend in this blog!)

3.Consolidate Debt. If you are carrying higher-interest debt, such as credit card balances or a personal loan, a debt-consolidation refinance could lower your monthly payments. However, you will need to make sure you don’t rack up a new round of debt in addition to your higher mortgage amount. That could place you in a worse financial position. A debt-consolidation refinance does not pay off your debt and there may not be enough equity to consolidate all of your bills. You may be required to close your credit accounts, so it’s not a move to take lightly. In addition to reviewing your situation with an experienced mortgage loan originator, be sure to consult your trusted tax or financial advisor regarding the effect of consolidating short-term debt into long-term debt.

4.Combine Or Change Loans. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, a home equity loan or line of credit in addition to a first mortgage, or a home loan with mortgage insurance, refinancing may give you the opportunity to save money or lock in a fixed rate. Deciding if refinancing is advantageous will require careful analysis with your trusted mortgage loan originator.

5.Cash For Important Projects. Home values have been rising steadily. Depending on when you purchased your home and the market you’re in, you may have significant equity that you can tap. Think carefully about what to do with the cash. Good uses might be paying for college to avoid or reduce student loan debt, creating the seed money for your own business venture, or renovating your home to add features or update it. (Remodeling so you can stay in your home longer as you age is very popular with Baby Boomers.) However, experts warn against refinancing for consumer purchases like a new car or a dream vacation. Think of the cash from a refinance as an investment in your future. It took a long time to build up that equity – don’t blow it on something that will lose value immediately.

While a refinance may be a good option, you’ll need expert advice to help you decide if it’s not only right for you, but also which refi program suits your situation. Let’s talk about refinancing to find out it if makes sense for you.

Matthew Martin
Senior Vice President, National Production

The Housing Market Where You Are

Our most recent monthly housing market recap showed that for the fourth consecutive month, housing sales remain on the decline. Certain factors help perpetuate this current state. New construction has fallen behind current demand, and resale inventory is at an 18-year low. While a bird’s eye view of the real estate market is always helpful, it may not apply to where you live or where you want to live. So, what about the housing market where you are?

Low housing inventory can often times lead to increased pricing, causing homebuyers to pause the process. Not every city is seeing this however. Some communities have experience circumstances (such as natural disasters, company closings or layoffs, economic downturns or a rare construction surplus) that have led to a decrease in overall home prices, year over year. Realtor.com provided information on the ten hottest housing markets where home prices saw declines.

For example, if you live in Santa Barbara, California, you’re winning! At 17.7%, that city saw the largest dip in home prices; unfortunately, wild fires and mudslides helped it get there. In second place is Pottsville, Pennsylvania with an 8.1% decrease, mostly fueled by a struggling economy. If you like wine country, you’ll be glad to learn that Napa, California saw home pricing drop 6.7%. If you feel like heading south, you’re in luck! Texas has three cities on the list of the top ten: Austin ranked fourth with a 4.3% dip in prices; College Station had a decrease of 3.6%, placing sixth on the list; and Corpus Christi sits seventh on the list with a 3.1% price drop. Other cities on the list include Beckley, West Virginia, ranking in between Austin and College Station at fifth place with a 4.2% drop; Anchorage, Alaska, sits at eighth place with a 3% decrease in home prices; Houma, Louisiana, boasts a 2.7% drop; and Bismarck, North Dakota rounds off the list at tenth place and a 1.8% home price drop.

None of these cities, however, rank in the top five of the hottest housing markets. According to Corelogic, countrywide, it is taking an average of 3.8 months to sell a home. Miami, Florida far surpasses that with a 9-month supply. Other cities like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Anaheim, California and Detroit, Michigan all sit above the national average as well. Some cities, however, fared better with shorter turn times, leaning more towards being a sellers’ market. Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California, and Denver, Colorado, for example, had strong job growth which helped drive their average time to sell a home to roughly two months. Realtor.com shared the top five housing markets seeing the most action in June of 2018:

#5: Boise City, Idaho
#4: Fort Wayne, Indiana
#3: Boston, Massachusetts
#2: Columbus, Ohio
#1: Midland, Texas (for the third month in a row)

Almost anywhere you may be heading, The Crosby Team at First Choice Loan Services is ready and equipped to help you in practically every market. Contact us today so that we can help you on your exciting journey home!

James Iley
Executive Vice President, National Production

June 2018 Housing Market Recap: Sales Continue to Trend Downward

June existing home sales dropped, continuing a decline that began in April and carried through May. If three months constitutes a trend, then we are seeing a definite sales slowdown, but all is not equal across the country. More on that later. Prices increased again, as they have for over 6 years. The pace of sales was the same as May, with days on the market well below 30. The median existing home price increased nationally, hitting another all-time high. Lack of inventory is driving the market, with no end in sight. Here’s more regarding the June 2018 Housing Market Recap.

June existing home sales dropped by 0.6 percent compared to May, and were 2.2 percent lower than June 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) June Existing Home Sales Report, released July 23rd. This is the fourth month of year-over-year decreases.

Inventory rose from May to June by 4.3 percent, reflecting the stronger summer selling months, and was up slightly from a year ago (0.5 percent) marking the first year-over-year gain since June 2015, but it’s not enough to meet demand. The supply of unsold inventory was 4.3 months, up from 4.2 months a year ago.

Home prices continued to increase year-over-year. The median price of existing homes sold in June was a record-high $276,900, up 5.2 percent from June 2017 ($263,300). We’ve now reached 76 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

June 2018 Housing Market Recap

Days on the market (DOM) were unchanged from May, staying at 26. A year ago, homes typically stayed on the market for 28 days, so the sales pace has increased slightly year-over-year.

According to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, “There continues to be a mismatch since the spring between the growing level of homebuyer demand in most of the country in relation to the actual pace of home sales, which are declining,” he said. “The root cause is without a doubt the severe housing shortage that is not releasing its grip on the nation’s housing market. What is for sale in most areas is going under contract very fast and in many cases, has multiple offers. This dynamic is keeping home price growth elevated, pricing out would-be buyers and ultimately slowing sales.”

There are regional differences. The Northeast and Midwest saw increases in sales while the South and West fell. Prices rose across the country. The biggest sales jump was in the Northeast – 5.9 percent – and the biggest price increase was in the West – 10.2 percent. Midland, TX remained at the top of the hottest metro areas list (measured by days on the market/listing views per property). The rest of the Top 10 are Columbus, OH, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH, Fort Wayne, IN, Boise City, ID, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA, Vallejo-Fairfield, CA, Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY, Colorado Springs, CO and Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI.

Home prices may be up, but rent isn’t going down. Buying a home with a fixed rate loan means you can lock in your monthly principal and interest payment for the term of your loan. I don’t think you’ll find a landlord who will offer you a fixed monthly rent payment for as long as the typical mortgage! However, in this market, you can’t wait until you find a home to organize your financing. Meet with The Crosby Team at First Choice Loan Services Inc. now. Once you have a pre-underwriting approval or pre-approval, you’ll be able to include a First Choice Priority Buyer Letter with your offer to show the seller that you are ready to buy. Get a head start on your journey home with The Crosby Team.

Timothy M. Sheahan, Jr.
Executive Vice President | Secondary Marketing

Summer Scams

Summer Scams


Do scams have a season? Yes and no. Some rip-offs flourish year-round, but there are others that heat up seasonally. Summer is prime time for door-knocking summer scams, fake vacation rentals, non-existent jobs, and phantom movers, among others. Take a few precautions to ensure that your hard-earned dollars don’t line some con artist’s pockets.

Knock Knock Who’s There. Beware the friendly face at your door. It may be the offer of cut-rate driveway resurfacing because “I was in the neighborhood and have material left from another job.” Or you had a hailstorm recently and the nice contractor says he can fix your roof at a discount – for cash. In either case, all you need to do is give him a deposit and he’ll be back tomorrow to do the work. You might receive a slapdash sealer on your driveway or a few roofing nails to hold sub-standard shingles. More likely, your money will disappear and you’ll never see the “contactor” again. Don’t hire anyone to work on your house without a thorough evaluation. Ask your neighbors and friends for recommendations, look at online reviews, demand a contract, and check for a license with your state and/or local authorities.

Bad Bargain Movers. Many people move in the summer, and it can be hard to find a moving company when you need one. You look at an online commerce site, and find a local listing that sounds promising. You contact them, the price is right, and you set a date for your move. Stop. They may be fine, but do your homework. Check for online reviews. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau. If you don’t, you not only risk having your belongings damaged, they could be stolen or held for ransom.

Great Summer Job. You, or your kids, apply for seasonal employment. Naturally, the employer needs to do a background check, so you supply your personal data, including name, address, a copy of your driver’s license, and Social Security Number. You’ve just given a crook everything she needs to steal your identity. Make sure that the employer is reputable – and actually exists. Meet the representative at the place of business, nowhere else. Your caution will pay off.

Fabulous Lake Cabin. It’s hot. You’d love to get away. And there it is! An online ad for a gorgeous cabin by a cool mountain lake. They just happen to have a vacancy when you want to go, so you wire your payment, pack your bags and drive to the mountains. When you arrive, the address turns out to be a vacant lot. Or the cabin is there, but the owners are wondering why you are at their front door. You’ve lost your money and your vacation is ruined. Use a reliable site like VRBO, HomeAway, or Airbnb to book non-commercial lodgings. Even then, read the description of the property and the user reviews carefully. Never, never pay except through the site’s payment system.

Help! I’m In Jail. Summer vacations mean it’s hard to keep track of family members. This scam is aimed at older people in particular. You get a call from someone who says they are your grandchild. They may have information about you and your family, or they may simply sound panicky and let you supply their name. The bottom line is that they will want you to wire money so they can get out of jail. They may even put someone on the phone who says they are their lawyer, or a law enforcement officer. If you fall for it, they won’t stop there. Once they get the first wire, they’ll be back for more.

Remember to take your time, ask questions, and don’t make snap decisions, especially if someone wants you to wire money or hand over cash. It’s old advice, but remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Jerra Ryan
Senior Vice President, Compliance

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Safe Travels

Safe Travels


You’ve packed the car, locked the doors, and you’re ready to go. Vacation – the sweetest word of the summer! But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) what can you do to make sure your trip results in happy memories instead of time spent filing a police report, waiting for a new rental car, or explaining your injuries to medical staff? We’ve shared how to keep your home safe while you’re away, but what about steps you and your family can take while you’re on the adventures of your vacation? Experience is a great teacher, so read on and learn about things that you want to avoid to help ensure you have safe travels.

Don’t Flash Your Cash. On a trip to New Orleans a few years ago, we were standing in a group on the Moon Walk with crowds of people around us. We were discussing where to go for lunch when one friend announced in a loud voice, “I have lots of cash.” Oh boy. Might as well carry a neon sign that says Rob Me Now. Be discreet when you’re traveling. If you do bring excess cash, remember to use the safe provided in the hotel room. Leave the expensive watch at home. Don’t take your best jewelry. Dress so your attire doesn’t scream tourist. It’s more fun to pretend you’re a local, so try to blend in.

Badges? We Don’t Need No Badges. Traveling on a tour can be a great way to vacation, especially if you are uncomfortable traveling alone, or you’re going somewhere that a guide will improve your experience, or it will give you access to adventures you can’t take on your own. You’ll almost certainly need to wear a badge of some kind when you are with the group. The minute you leave the group for independent excursions, remove your badge. Why? It’s a giant red flag that says I’m a tourist; I don’t know my way around here, please take advantage of me.

I’m Sure It’s OK To Park Here. My nephew and his wife (who are experienced travelers), decided to park their rental car on the street in a small city in France. They came out of their Airbnb the next morning and – no car. Luckily for them, it wasn’t stolen. When they were parking the night before they neglected to check the street signs. A few hours and many Euros later, they retrieved the car from the police impound lot. Make sure you understand the rules before you leave your car on the street. Check with your Airbnb hosts, your hotel, or local friends. Don’t lose valuable vacation time over a simple mistake.

Street Scammers. When you’re in an unfamiliar place, stay alert. Street scams work because vacationers are distracted and out of their comfort zone. We were walking on Bourbon Street (New Orleans again!) when a woman wearing an ID badge and carrying a clipboard accosted us. She started talking – fast. Did we know we shouldn’t be walking in the street and now we had to pay and for $10 we’d be off the hook and oh by the way here’s a hat for you. 2 of us paid and then the other 2 said – wait a minute, what? That was her cue to take off. It turns out what she was doing was technically legal because she had a vendor license. We didn’t fall for it again, although there were plenty of others who tried their luck.

National Parks Are Safe, Right? Our National Parks are truly vacation wonderlands, but remember that you aren’t in the controlled environment of a theme park. Those bison in Yellowstone are not big friendly cows. There are no fences to keep you from falling off the trail at Grand Canyon. Bears can, and will, destroy your campsite and car if they smell food. Be smart. Go to the visitor center, watch the videos, read the brochures, and talk to the rangers. Every year, people die or are injured in avoidable accidents. In addition, use the same precautions you’d use at home. Keep your valuables locked up and out of sight. Lock your doors. Keep an eye on the kids. And don’t take a selfie on the edge of a cliff.

Ready? Pack your common sense along with the sunscreen, don’t try to pet the grizzlies, and have a great vacation!

Jane Burns
Content Manager, Marketing

Keeping It Cool This Summer

Most of the winter, you’ll hear people lament about how they miss the days of summer. Once those days of summer arrive, the moaning sometimes transitions to cries for relief from the heat. With many parts of the country facing triple digit temperatures, a lot of folks are wondering how they might just get a little taste of winter. Here are just a few ideas of how you can go about keeping it cool this summer.

H20. Water seems like a good answer to lots of life’s challenges. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially in the summer. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. During times of excessive heat, it is recommended that a person drinks two to four glasses of water every hour. Remember, alcoholic and sugary drinks aren’t the same as water; these can actually result in you losing more body fluid. Of course, water in a pool can also be a great way to cool off. Just don’t forget to stay hydrated while taking a dip. It’s better not to wait until you’re thirsty.

Timing. The peak hours of the most intense heat tend to be from 11 AM to 4 PM. If you can avoid being outside during these hours, you’ll spar yourself a few drops of sweat. Consider some indoor activities. If not in the office, think about going to catch one of this summer’s blockbusters. Visit a local museum. Take a run on a treadmill instead of your favorite outside path. When it comes to chores, choose to do a few during the evening. Dryers can create a lot of heat, so do laundry at the cooler parts of the day. Plan on baking? Wait until the sun goes down. There are a few adjustments you can make to your plans that will help you not get overheated.

Fashion. Light fabrics like silks, linens and cottons are good choices to make for what to wear during hot weather. Loose and breathable is the way to go. Also, light colors that reflect the light (versus dark colors which can absorb it) will help you keep cool. Hats can also provide protection from the sun.

Fun. Have fun with it. Freeze some fruit in ice cube makers for flavored ice. Carve out fresh fruits and vegetables with strong outer surroundings (like watermelon, melons, or cucumbers) for creative and refreshing shot glasses. If serving drinks at a summer event, freeze water in water balloons to act as ice for the canned beverages. When the water in the balloons starts to melt, have a good old fashioned water balloon fight. Don’t forget the standard favorite of freezing flavored drink mix in ice cube trays with sticks for homemade popsicles.

Pets. It’s important to remember your furry friends as well. After all, these are the ones who likely are wearing a fur coat during this season. Be sure they have plenty of shade and that their water bowl is full of cool water. There are several dog toys that will allow you to freeze water inside which they’ll love. Invest in cooling mats and bandanas which can be soaked in water and provide cool relief for a few hours. This should go without saying, but never, ever leave your four-legged (or two-legged) loved ones in the car in this heat.

Signs. Most importantly, it’s good to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Feeling dizzy? A little nauseated? Have a headache? Fainted lately? Is your pulse racing? We’re no webmd.com, but that could mean you or someone you love is suffering from heat stroke. Keep an eye on those most at risk which include infants and young children, those over the age of 65, people who overexert themselves during exercise, those physically ill or on medication and those who are overweight. You can visit the Center for Disease Control for the full list. If you think you or someone you know seems to have these symptoms because of the heat, be sure to call 9-1-1.

Summer is a great time of year. There’s more sunlight, outdoor activities and, if you’re lucky, a tan. Plus, it’s still weeks before it’s time to go back to school! Just be sure to celebrate the season safely and as cool as possible!

Chad Peterson
Senior Vice President, Communications

How To Ace Your Appraisal Day

You’ve completed all of your pre-appraisal chores and now it’s appraisal day. Whether you are selling or refinancing, you want the highest valuation. While it’s too late to replace the roof, and you can’t manipulate the housing market to create higher comps (comparable properties), you can make it as easy as possible for the appraiser, and show your house at its best. There are ways you can prepare to ace your appraisal.

How? Let’s get started.

Get Up And Get Dressed. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Right. I’ve heard stories from appraisers about walking into a bedroom and finding a sleeping teenager, or worse, a half-dressed adult. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. To avoid embarrassment, make sure everyone in the house is up and dressed, beds made, and rooms tidy. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher (or hand wash them and put them away in the cupboard). Stash any last-minute clutter. You’re not competing in a home beauty contest, but you want it to look good.

Pets. You’ve cleaned the litter box, scooped the poop in the yard, and made sure there are no lingering pet odors. Now make sure the appraiser, Fluffy, and Spot are all comfortable by putting the critters (not the appraiser!) in a crate or other safe place. Depending on the pet, that could be offsite with a friend or family member. You love your pets, but a rambunctious dog or unhappy cat can be a distraction, and they could escape through an open door while the appraiser is working.

Let The Sunshine In. Open the curtains. Turn on the lights. A bright home creates a more positive impression than a gloomy one. While your home won’t be graded on a brightness scale, remember it’s all about making the appraiser’s job easier. You don’t want to look like you’ve got something scary hiding in a dark basement, do you?

Picture Perfect. The appraiser will take photos of your home, inside and out. Take every opportunity to create a good impression. Hang the towels neatly in the bathroom. Make the beds. Hang up or put away clothes. Put toiletries away in a bathroom cabinet or drawer. Stash outside clutter – toys, bikes, hoses – neatly in the garage. And my pet peeve – close the lid on the toilet.

Information Please. Offer the appraiser a copy of the information you gathered previously to document upgrades and replacements. (You did remember to create that folder, didn’t you?) If you have information about recent sales in the neighborhood, you can include those, too. The appraiser will be creating an independent list of comps, but your research may help.

Get On With It. Let the appraiser work without interruption, but be available for questions. Greet the appraiser, offer an appropriate drink (water, coffee, tea, a soft drink), and get out of the way. Don’t hover or offer advice. If you have small children in the house, keep them out of the way, too. Customs vary in different parts of the country, but if you’re selling, you may find that the buyers’ Realtor® or your own will be there also.

Ready? Here’s to a great appraisal!

Joe Baio
Senior Vice President |
Collateral Services