Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jeff Goldblum Wants Buyer's To Keep Buying!

Coming this summer, the FHA will lower the maximum amount that seller’s can contribute for buyer’s closing costs. Currently, the seller can pay a maximum of 6% of the sales price towards the buyer’s closing costs. Starting soon, it will be reduced to 3% of the sales price. The change will take place in “early summer,” according to the FHA, but no specific date has been set. Buyer’s closing costs typically range from 3.5-5%, so this is no longer a sufficient amount to fully cover the closing costs.

This to me sounds backwards. The purpose of the tax credits, low interest rates, and all of this adjustment to lending practices was to get people into homes. Of course, they need to be able to afford the home and be well-qualified to maintain payments, but why regulate closing costs? If a buyer asks for closing costs to be paid it doesn't mean they aren’t well-qualified. It just means they are trying to minimize out-of-pocket spending. If the seller has sufficient equity in his home, it makes no difference if they pay the buyer’s closing costs because it will just come off the bottom line pay out. It can just come out in negotiations. For instance, house is listed for $200,000. Buyer offers $202,500 with $5,500 in closing costs and as long as it appraises, it works. See what I did there? I’m a wizard.

I just don’t see the point of lowering seller contributions right now. Especially when the government was throwing $8,000 non-repayable at people to buy. It’s an abrupt change from seemingly doing anything they can to get people in, to making it difficult with a rise in FHA mortgage insurance premiums and now reduction in seller contributions.

It’s one of those things we may never understand, like why Hollywood doesn’t put Jeff Goldblum in more movies. The guy hasn’t been in a big time role since Jurassic Park in 1997! He’s The Fly! Jeff and I once had an intimate, one-on-one conversation, no joke. Let me take you back to a time when I was enrolled at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I worked part-time at a market research firm as a Senior Research Specialist. One day we were doing a survey on a certain hospital branch (confidential) in California and calling Los Angeles-area residents. Well, my system auto-dialed a man named ‘Jeff’ and I swear it was Jeff Goldblum.

Jeff Goldblum has a very distinct voice, he probably lives somewhere in Los Angeles, and this guy’s name was Jeff! All of that equals that I spoke to a movie star. Jealous? The guy was super nice, very intelligent, and we spoke for about 30 minutes about my college life, living in California, the health care system, and he even gave me relationship advice that led to me breaking up with my girlfriend! Jeff said, “She’s no good. You can do better and you deserve better, Chris.” When Jeff Goldblum gives you advice, you listen. He sounded EXACTLY like Jeff. I feel after our conversation I’m comfortable enough for a first-name-basis relationship. Jeff has a nice voice. It’s different, but rhythmic.

You’re probably wanting to know, “Why didn’t you just ask if it was Jeff Goldblum if you guys are like best friends?” Well, easy answer. Jeff doesn’t need to be hounded. Talking to some market research guy in Michigan is the only place Jeff can find anonymity and be unrecognized for a brief moment. Who am I to destroy and violate that with my accusations? Hollywood hasn’t been nice to Jeff lately, so I took it upon myself to do him a favor. So long-story-short, ever since that day, I’ve been a Jeff Goldblum fan and I know for a fact that Jeff would agree that seller contributions should not be reduced.

Monday, May 24, 2010

5 Things Buyers Should Avoid When Applying For A Home Loan

The lending market over the past year has ever tightened the necessary requirements for obtaining financing. Buyer's now need the best possible credit report and scores in order for them to get the loan they require for purchasing a home. If you got the cash, great! If you are going to be applying for financing in the near future, though, stay away from these five things that may harm your credit score.

Closing Accounts
Many people often think that closing an account that they barely use or have paid off is a good thing, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Common sense doesn't apply to the credit rating system. If you close an account it can cut away from available credit and can increase the debt to credit ratio, which you want as low as possible. Just stay away from closing accounts until after you are in the home for a little while. Instead, pay off the balances and leave them open.

Keeping High Balances
Do not keep high balances. Lenders love people who know how to use credit in the right amounts. Maxing out everything doesn't exactly exhibit someone who doesn't abuse their credit. If you have a high balance on a credit card, lender's will no doubt look at it unfavorably. It shows that the applicant is having a hard time making payments and is a potential risk.

Repeatedly Applying for New Credit
First off, shopping lenders will not hurt your credit. This is a common belief, but isn't exactly accurate. You can have multiple inquiries on your credit report and as long as it is in a 45 day window, it will be considered the same as one inquiry. Lenders love people who have a long and healthy history of borrowing and paying back on time. If you are having credit repeatedly pulled and opening a bunch of new accounts it looks suspicious and that you are potentially desperate for financing. So try to keep everything in the 45 day window.

Not Paying Bills
This should be a no-brainer. Keep paying your bills on time and make sure to keep up with any fees that were assessed. Things you believe are insignificant can show up on your report. This includes overdue library fees and parking tickets! So make sure to pay all your credit card bills, utility bills, and make sure you aren't owing money all over town. You want your legs broken?

Ignoring Report Errors
It is not unusual for a mistake to show up on a credit report and it doesn't necessarily mean your identity was stolen. Sometimes people with the same name can accidentally be put on your report. This can be resolved though! However, it could take as much as 90 days to be fixed. You'll dispute and remove false items or mistakes from your report. This doesn't guarantee your credit score will improve, but correcting your credit report and removing incorrect items good or bad is the honest thing to do, and honesty is the best policy. Let's exercise our Sesame Street morals. 

Well, I hope this helps. Lending guidelines are tighter than ever, but don't let this make you fearful. Interest rates are still low and their is plenty of inventory. So, if you can qualify the world is your oyster. And I am your oyster cracker. I find the oyster, crack that baby open, feed you the yummy gelatinous innards, and gift you a gorgeous, unpolished pearl. Some say I'm a hero. I just say it's what sets the 'super' apart from the 'man.' 

All information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. Buyer's should seek consultation from a licensed mortgage lender.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


ENERGY STAR logoFrom May 29th to 31st, 2010 Energy Star rated appliances will be sales tax free! If you are in the market for a new refrigerator, dishwasher, or other appliance this weekend is the time to go. There is NO LIMIT on the number of qualifying items you can purchase and no exemption certificate is needed. The 2010 Energy Star sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 31st (Memorial Day). 

The appliance purchased must be an appliance that has received an Energy Star rating. This is almost always advertised along with the product. Energy Star products not only reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, they also will reduce the amount of money leaving your wallet over time. Energy Star is a joint program between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy. If an appliance is given the Energy Star rating it means the product meets strict energy efficient guidelines laid out by the agencies.

Examples of some sales tax-free items:
- Air conditioners priced under $6,000
- Refrigerators priced under $2,000
- Programmable thermostats
- Ceiling fans
- Dehumidifiers
- Dishwashers
- Incandescent & fluorescent light bulbs
- Clothes washers (but not clothes dryers)

Go here for more information on this tax-free holiday: 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rounding Up Nicely...

Posts have been sporadic. Sorry about that. Hard at work on taking it to the next level on the ol' website, which should be launched early to mid June! Check back with the blog for the announcement!

Pregnancy Status Update: My wife is rounding up nicely. Never witnessed the growth of a pregnant woman first-hand. It's really quite amazing. The other day we got Subway. We had a coupon for buy one foot long, get one free. I ate the first half, paused and looked over at her to see she was into her second half already! She never eats more then six inches NOR does she eat six inches of sub faster than me! It was startling. 

The other day I was walking ahead of her down the stairs and for a split second I felt like Indiana Jones running from the giant ball in the cave. No, I'm kidding. I think my wife is so cute pregnant. I want her big and round because that is evidence of a healthy pregnancy. I want my son heavily padded just in case the element's strike. She needs to be prepared. She's like a big, round, upside down strawberry. I don't like some of the emotional reactions, but she looks attractive physically. She looks soft. I think it's because I know what she is harboring....the only hope of the future of the Matthews' name. It's like Saving Private Ryan except minus Matt Damon, World War II, Nazis, bombs, killing, snipers and everything else in the movie. So, basically just the premise of saving the last person that can continue the family name. Bad analogy I guess.

She claims our dog Valen, knows she is pregnant because she always sits and rests her paw on her pregnant belly. I just nod in agreement, but in my head I'm just thinking the dog likes to be at the highest point and has no clue she is pregnant. Dogs like to be up high because they feel like it is prime protecting position. Plus, Valen weighs 6 lbs. She is a small Yorkshire Terrier. It's more like she sees how big (and beautiful) you are getting and doesn't want you to roll over on top of her. So best avoidance position to be alerted of an impending roll-over is to lay on the object that will roll. But I'm sure she knows you're pregnant. Animals have a weird sixth sense like that.

Another thing I find myself doing throughout this pregnancy is constant catering. Hormones are things that obviously cannot be harnessed for good. They capture a woman and tell her to demand your husband go to Taco Bell at 11pm to get them a Salsa Roja Tortada. I've learned to shut my mouth, keep my head down, and go or "I don't care about the baby" or "Nice to know you choose sleep over your wife and son." 'Great. That's great. Here I go. Thanks for the guilt trip. Here I go, grabbing my pants, putting back in my contacts, getting in the car yawning and squinting. If I get in a car accident on the way, I hope you know it's your fault.' Best part is I do all that, I get back and she's asleep. Perfect. No, I do it with an open heart because she is going through SO much, it's the least I can do. I do it with an open heart or she does it with a closed fist. So, I do have a choice.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Don't Miss Out On Pflugerville's Deutschen Pfest Festival!

Hans Dpfest Mascot
Make sure not to miss Pflugerville’s annual German heritage inspired Deutschen Pfest! Thirty-five years and going strong, the festival is Pflugerville’s invitation to come out and experience some of the community’s heritage. 

The annual festival features live music, carnival rides, dancing, two parades on Saturday, over 125 artisans and food and drink vendors, and the 5K Pfun run/walk. The festival goes for three days, you can see the schedule and admission prices below. Children six and under are free everyday. Make sure to get your 2010 Deutschen Pfest T-shirt at City Hall and the Recreation Center because you will get free admission through the entire weekend! The cost for shirts? $8 – Kids sizes, $9 tank-tops, $10 Adult sizes S-XL, $12 Adult sizes XXL+.

Friday, May 14  5 pm – Midnight$4 per person 
Saturday, May 1510 am - Midnight $5 per person 
Sunday, May 1611 am - 5 pm  $4 per person 

Live Music Schedule

Friday, May 14

5 pm – 6:30 pm              Nicole Fournier
7 pm – 9 pm                    Calling Jack Burton        
9:30 p.m. – 12 pm          Sky Rocket       

Saturday, May 15
10:30 a.m – 12:30 pm     Oma and Ompah
12 pm – 12:15 pm           Opening remarks
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm        Lorelai and Shotze
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm          7 Dutchmen
5 pm – 6:30 pm                Jeremy Miller Band
7 pm - 8:30 pm                 Herschel Berry and the Natives
9 pm – midnight              Dale Watson

Sunday, May 16
11 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.     Dance School
11:30 a.m.  – 1 p.m.      Blue City Knights           
2 p.m. – 5 p.m.               Bruce Robison 

I've never been, but this seems like a blast. I'm going to try to make it for sure. Hope to see you there! Go here to read more on the 35th Annual Deutschen Pfest!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Survey Shows End of Home Buyer Tax Credit Unlikely to Deter Buyers!

Looks like those who are looking to sell this summer have some good news! According to findings released by Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Inc., 65% of surveyed consumers who are currently in the process of shopping for homes, believe that the end of the tax credit will have little or no effect on their interest in purchasing a home.

Furthermore, more than 90% of consumers believe the home buyer tax credits have helped both first-time home buyers and the U.S. housing market overall. As for people's local areas, 46% of consumers are expecting prices to increase over the next year, compared to only 12% who believe they will decline. As for consumer's outlook over the next five years, 79% expect real estate prices to increase and 20% expect a "substantial increase" in home prices.

With regard to home ownership as an investment, an interesting finding of the survey is the majority of consumer's (75%) believe home ownership is a better investment than individual stocks and bonds. 72% believe home ownership is a better investment than mutual funds, and 74% affirm that it's better than a traditional savings account.

Yet another fascinating revelation, is that despite the real estate downturn nationally and the softened economic state the U.S. is in, the perception of home ownership as a quality investment remains strong with renters. Of those who currently rent, 75% believe that in the long-term, owning their home is a more satisfactory choice over renting.

The survey by Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Inc. was conducted during April 15-20th, 2010 and included 1,000 Americans between the ages of 25-64 with a household income of at least $35,000.
This is a bit of good news for both buyer's and seller's in the wake of a tender economic state. I've always believed that the generation of jobs should be the number one economic concern of the government and with that comes everything else. If people have money, they'll buy property. This is probably easier said than done and I am certainly no economic strategist. I'm just a pro-style agent. I try not to spread my expertise too thin. People get jealous and no one likes a know-it-all. Suddenly, I'm reliving those moments of being picked last for kickball in 6th grade. My mom said it's because it was the picker's strategy, act like you don't want the best player so you can build the rest of your team. She is so smart!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Austin Ranked #5 Leanest City in America!

In a recent study conducted by Men's Health to find the "Fattest" and "Leanest" cities in America, Austin ranked #5 leanest city nationwide. Austin came behind San Francisco (#1), Burlington, Washington D.C., and Seattle.

Austin received an 'A' grade in the study, which calculated "the percentage of people who are overweight, the percentage with type 2 diabetes, the percentage who haven't left the couch in a month (CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System); the money spent on junk food (Bureau of Labor Statistics); and finally, the number of people who ate fast food nine of more times in a month (Mediamark Research)" according to Men's Health.

This is great news for us Austinites! We're some of the healthiest stock in America! Yay! However, Texas as a state did not fair so well. Five of the top ten "Heaviest cities" are in Texas, including Corpus Christi as #1 heaviest and El Paso at #3. Also in the top ten, Dallas (#4), San Antonio (#7), and Houston (#9). Houston received a 'D-' score. San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, and Corpus Christi all received 'F' scores in the study.

Men's Health even pokes fun at Corpus Christi mockingly referring to them as "Corpulent Christi." I like Men's Health, but that's a little unnecessary and rude. Besides, the whole "make-fun-of-them-so-they'll-feel-bad-about-themselves-to-motivate-them-to-overcome" is a cruel solution to a problem and usually doesn't work anyway.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Well the verdict is in. My wife and I will have a son! We had a 3D ultrasound performed and the little guy had his legs crossed and pretended to be a little bashful at first, but soon revealed himself. It's unbelievable that I could make something like that. I can now breath easy as I was my family's only hope for continuing the Matthews name. That is now secure. It's breath-taking seeing your child on the screen for the first time. The essence of life.

As noted in prior posts, my wife had been mentally prepared for a girl for 17 weeks, so she was a little disappointed at first. She is now warming up to the idea of having a little laborer boy. Both sexes are exciting, just different. They can like different things and even the same things. It doesn't have to be so clear-cut with the gender stereotypes. Of course I'm not letting her play Barbies with my son, but if he wants to join the ballet later in life, fine. I'll no doubt put a football or a basketball in his hands any chance I get, but I'm going to try my best not to discourage the chap.

I can't wait to take my son to open houses and teach him at a young age how to sell. Business man in the making from the time he could walk. I'm going to put him in a matching collared shirt and slacks and a little clip-on tie. When people come in, he'll say, "Welcome folks, this four bed, two and half bath 2,458 sqft. exquisite home is perfect for entertaining. It features a large island, walk up bar, and.....wait for it.....icing on the cake....a built-in wine chiller!" Then, when the customers leave, he'll sit back on the rug say "goo goo gah gah" and stack his ABC blocks. Pro-style. This will of course start when he's 3 years old because that's when pros are made. Tiger Woods didn't learn golf at 14 years old! He was introduced to golf before the age of two! I'm going to have to teach him the necessary vocabulary from a young age. His first word will most likely be, "Sold." I'll need to get him some cool clothes and some mini penny loafers! 

As you can tell I am very excited to have a boy. If it turned out it was a girl, I'd be fine with that too. I'd teach her how to say no to boys and wear baggy clothes from the day she's born. No, that's not fair. I'd take her to open houses too. You know why? Because Chris Matthews doesn't discriminate and any child he produces gets the 100% proven, Guide To Becoming Successful training program. Boy or girl, achieving the highest level of success will be pounded into their brains from the exiting of the womb. My wife will teach him Japanese by the time he is 3 years old, Korean before he reaches 5, Spanish before he is 7, Chinese before he is 9, and English by the the time he is 15. English is hard. He will be able to communicate with 75% of the world. Yes, he will be a polyglot (speaker of many languages), a neurosurgeon, and do some modeling in his free time, but he will know how to be humble. Matthews' don't brag or boast. We just state the obvious.