How to fix errors on your credit report

Did you know that 1 in every 4 credit reports contains errors and surprises? ID theft may be responsible, but more often what shows up on your report might just be an error that can be fairly easily corrected.

Some of the most common errors found are:

  1. A parent or child’s mortgage or other credit obligation is reported on your report as yours (even if your names are not exactly the same).
  2. A paid off debt is reported as still owing.
  3. A collection has been filed against you for a debt that was never yours.
    1. One of the most common forms of ID theft is using a fake ID to get cell phone service.
    2. If you have a fairly common name, someone else’s debt can be reported against you.
  4. TV cable or satellite service is often left on after someone moves out of a house or apartment. Until the service is actually shut off, the service provider will report the delinquency under the most current resident’s name.
  5. Blatant ID theft with multiple creditors is actually easier to solve, but if the amounts are small, you may not know about them until your credit is pulled.
  6. A debt discharged through a bankruptcy could still show as unpaid.
  7. Collection agencies are often irresponsible about reporting paid collections, and court systems are equally negligent about reporting paid in full judgments.

All too often errors will sit on your credit report for years without your knowledge. You can still get most credit with an error on your report, but when you apply for a home loan, these little dings on your report and score will raise their ugly heads in a huge way.

Did you know that most collections are auto-filed by creditors and can be for less than a dollar? Many people would think “who cares?” But that little collection can cost you up to 100 points or more on your credit score. That can make a huge difference in the home loan you qualify for and the rate you will pay, if in fact you qualify for a mortgage at all!

How to fight errors on your credit report

1. Contact the creditor

This sounds like it shouldn’t be too difficult, but in fact, most creditors, like cell phone providers or cable companies are pretty non-responsive to your efforts. Be sure to try to contact the creditor in writing so you have proof of your effort.

2. If you receive no response from direct efforts, file a dispute with one or more credit bureaus directly:

Experian,

Transunion,

Equifax

This is important because not all three bureaus will have identical information. They do share, but aside from mortgage lenders, most creditors report to just one of the three bureaus. The easiest way to file the dispute is online. You can even upload copies of your proof of error and/or attempts to resolve the error.

The credit bureaus will contact the creditor on your behalf. The creditors then have very limited to respond to the inquiry or within 30 days the disputed item will be removed from your report.

Usually you will receive a response within days of submitting a dispute acknowledging that your case is being investigated. If you do not hear from the credit bureau within 30 days, follow up. After your report has been corrected, you should receive, along with a letter from the credit bureau, an updated copy of your corrected credit report with your new score within 30 days of the date you file your dispute.

 

 

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Are “fixer” homes overpriced in Portland Oregon?

Fixer statsLooking for a “fixer” home so you can take advantage of low prices and create your dream home for less than a comparably priced home in your preferred area? If you watch many of the housing shows on TV, you see this happen all the time.

According to a recent study by Realtor.com, there is a huge disparity between the possible discounts available to home buyers looking to purchase “fixers” versus move in ready homes throughout the U.S.

For example, in Clarksville, Tennessee a typical fixer can be purchased  for about a 70% discount. Likewise most cities around the country offer some great deals. But those of us who reside in the Portland metro area are seeing only about a 6% discount on fixer properties. That’s hardly enough financial break to afford the necessary repairs and still come out even close to even on comparably priced homes in the area. According to Realtor.com, the median price of a fixer home in Portland is currently 354,928, just 6% lower than the $379,000 median price of homes in good condition.

What’s going on in Portland? It’s really a matter of supply and demand. There is very little supply of “fixer” homes in Portland right now, so the laws of supply and demand rule. It doesn’t help that there is also an ample supply of cash buyers competing with the everyday buyer either.  These developers usually have “fixer teams” make short work of the needed renovations, which of course, they also do at a discount to what you and I would pay for the same work.

Portland isn’t the only city running out of fixers. As-is homes are becoming increasingly harder to find throughout the country. Check out the chart above to see many metro areas and what investors are paying for these fixers these days. Thank goodness we don’t live in Prescott, Arizona!

Beware Portland buyers – there are few “fixers” out there that are really a good deal right now, unless the repairs required are strictly cosmetic and can be done over time. The homes marketed as “fixers” that sound like a great value need a whole lot of fixin’ and will either require a cash purchase or a rehab loan.

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No more bidding wars in the Portland housing market

Bidding wars! Those words strike terror into the hearts of many would be home buyers during a very active sellers’ market. Believe it or not, sellers don’t like bidding wars much more than buyers do.

With Portland currently experiencing a full on sellers’ market, one would think bidding wars would be rampant, but that isn’t the case this year. 

Currently, when a listing goes live on MLS, the listing agent clearly indicates when offers must be in and when they will be presented to sellers. It is not unusual to see new property listings go live on Thursday, an open house on Saturday or Sunday, and offers due by noon and presented to sellers at 3pm Monday afternoon. 

In this format, it is imperative that buyers make their first offer their “highest and best, because there is no haggling or negotiating at this point, and there is no second chance.

The sellers are able to review all  offers in one sitting and select the winning bid which is almost always the highest price. Occasionally other factors can come into play,  such as closing date, pre-approvals, buyers’ willingness to allow a rent-back period, waiver of inspections, etc.

When the winning offer is selected and mutually accepted by sellers and buyers, the house goes pending (off the market).

Most sellers are seeing all the advantages of the bidding wars days in terms of higher prices without all the drawbacks inherent in a bidding war scenario.

In many areas throughout Portland, homes are selling at premiums of 10% and more above listing price. If you are home shopping your realtor should be familiar with your area and the premiums most buyers are willing to pay so you can write up your best offer when you find your dream home.

Of course, if a house does not sell within the specified offer period,  the house remains on the market where buyers reap the rewards, with more negotiating power.

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Portland rents are on the rise – among the fastest rising in the U.S.

apt for rent

apt for rentIf you’re a renter looking for an apartment or house to rent, you are certainly aware that rents in Portland are high, much higher than might be expected, especially as compared to just a few years ago. In fact, Portland rents have risen 20.45 percent over the last five years.

According to a recent study from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Portland rent increases are the 6th highest in the country. The good news for Portland area renters is that in spite of increases, wage increases have just about kept pace with the rise in rents, though rising rental rates has pushed many would be renters into the housing market, and has put a damper on would be buyers ability to save for down payments for a home purchase.

The bad news is that this trend in the Portland metro area is likely to continue. While permits for new apartment complexes are up, the vast majority of these new dwellings are for higher end renters. According to Zillow, the median rent in Portland metro is $1587 per month and rising at a rate of about 7% annually.

Proposed rents for the new developments under construction or ready to open shortly are shockingly:

$1000 – 1200/month for a studio apartment

$2500 – $3300/month for a 3 bedroom unit

Wow! No wonder there are so many buyers out there!

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