Kathy O'Neal
Fairfax, VA 22033
Office: 703.802.2850
Toll Free: 800.297.8382




How To Improve Your FICO Score

Chantilly Homeowners – The U.S. housing market recovery is underway.  New home sales are at a multi-year high, housing starts are at pre-recession levels, and home builders plan for a strong 2013.

Since late-2011, falling mortgage rates have boosted buyer purchasing power.  Now, today, in many U.S. markets, the number of active home buyers outnumbers the number of active home sellers.  It’s among the reasons why home supplies remain scarce and why home prices are rising.

Roughly 20 percent of today’s home buyers purchase homes with cash.  For everyone else, the ability to gain mortgage approval depends on income, assets, and, most importantly, credit scores.  Your credit score is a predictor of your future payment performance and lenders pay close attention.

If you plan to buy a home in the Chantilly or Centreville area  or anywhere else in the next 12 months, spend some time with this The Today Show interview.  It’s five minutes of practical credit scoring advice, including separation of credit score myth from credit score fact.

Among the credit scoring tips shared :

You’ll also learn about utility companies and why you should never be late with payment.

As compared to August 2011, last month’s average, mortgage-financing home buyer’s FICO score improved 9 points to 750.  The average “denied” mortgage applicant’s FICO score was 704.  Clearly, standards are high. However, credit scoring is a system and, with time, you can improve your rating.

Watch the interview and find ways to make your credit score better. With better credit comes better mortgage rates.

And if you are considering buying or selling a property in Northern Virginia let us know how we can help!  As always, we are here to serve Chantilly and Northern Virginia area home buyers and sellers with our signature personal and state-of-the-art service which is described in the voices of our clients in this Testimonial video.

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Should You Lease Or Buy Your Next Car? It May Affect Your Mortgage.

Chantilly/Centreville  residents should you lease a new car, or should you buy one? Like most financial questions, the answer depends on your situation.  For some people, leasing a car presents distinct economic advantages.  For others, buying a car is the way to go.

There’s plenty of online material to help you choose your optimal path, but this 3-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show serves as an excellent summary.  In it, you’ll learn about the basics of leasing a car, and for whom leasing can be a great fit.  You’ll also hear reasons to avoid a lease completely.

The NBC interview makes all of the following points :

For many people, it concludes, buying a car is preferable to leasing one, with a notable exception being those people who can claim their car or truck as a tax deduction.  Be sure to check with your tax advisor if you plan to take that route.

However, for another group — homeowners and active home buyers — leasing a car can invite mortgage approval trouble.  This is because a car lease payment is assumed by a mortgage underwriter to be a perpetual debt; one that never reduces or gets extinguished.  When a lease is complete, it must be replaced with a new lease, and so on.

Therefore, no matter how many payments remain in a lease, mortgage applicants must use the full car lease payment for purposes of a mortgage approval.

By contrast, for people whom are owners of their automobiles, car payments must only be added to debt ratios if more than 10 car payments remain until the car’s loan is paid-in-full.  For homeowners and buyers in Fairfax , this can improve debt-to-income ratios and support a higher purchase price on a home.

There is no firm rule for whether it is better to lease a car or to own one.  The arguments for both sides are compelling and reasonable.  Start with the video, then do your own research.

If you are considering purchasing a home in the Northern Virginia area  we are here to help!   Our website has many useful  tools for home buying and you can contact me directly with any questions.

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How To Beat The Bacteria In Your Kitchen

Within Chantilly/Centreville homes, the kitchen is often the most “used” room in the house. It’s a meeting place for meals, for conversation, and for family.  Unfortunately, that makes it a meeting place for bacteria, as well.

Along with bathrooms, kitchens are the most bacteria-heavy rooms in a home.  Kitchens require a good, daily cleaning.  This 4-minute interview on NBC’s The Today Show shows you how to do it.

Using ordinary household cleansers and some elbow grease, you’ll learn :

  1. Why sponges should be out of your kitchen and why loofahs should be in
  2. How to catch and trap fruit flies that spread germs and disease
  3. How to clean and disinfect porous cutting boards

You’ll also get tips on removing stubborn stains from the bottom side of a frying pan.

The video is loaded with good advice and is worth a watch if only to learn a single sanitizing tip.

For example, did you know that you shouldn’t soak wooden bowls or boards in water because the water causes the wood to separate, leaving it “open” to kitchen-borne bacteria?  Or that, because of new soap-types, today’s dishwashers should be regularly disinfected?

Keep your kitchen free from bacteria is a constant battle but, using the tips from the video above, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance.

And if you are preparing your home to sell, please know that the Kathy O’Neal Team is here for you!

Please feel free to contact us anytime!  We have a section devoted to seller strategies on our website that may prove helpful!

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Chantilly Home Safety: Be Careful With That Home Project

According to the BuildFax Remodeling Index, people are doing lots of remodelling projects.

They report that for the 19th straight month, their May index rose.

If you are doing projects on your own, do be aware of safety.  Many preventable accidents happen because basic safety precautions are not taken.  Some of these accidents can be very serious…like falling off a ladder.

Check out this 5-minute video from NBC’s The Today Show.  Being aware of the basic precautions mentioned could save you a lot of trouble.

The insights include:

Also, don’t forget the safety glasses.  Eye problems are the number one injury as reported by home remodelers, and it is important to realize they can happen anytime.

Here is the video from the NBC website.

As always, if you need a referral for professional help to do a project, contact me and I will provide a few names.

Whether you are buying or selling, or just considering either or both, we are always here for you!

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With 3.7 Million Homes For Sale, Is Your Home Standing Out?

If you are considering putting your Chantilly home on the market, it is important to be aware that you are in competition with other home sellers.

Nationally, there are more than 3.7 million homes for sale this month.  You can see home important it is to have your Northern Virginia home be presented in its best light.

This 4-minute video from NBC’s The Today Show, titled “5 Mistakes Sellers Can’t Afford To Make” has lots of practical advice to help your home show well.

In the current market, it really is critical to have an effective strategy to sell your home, and its appearance is one vital dimension of getting it sold for your best price.

Some of the insights include:

There are also some terrific points about how to effectively use good images for your online marketing.

It can be tough to find buyers in any market, but if you follow the tips outlined above, you can get more showings, and do more with them.

If you do see the sale of your Northern Virginia home in the future, please know that we are here to support you in any way possible.  Also, you can take advantage of MARKET SNAPSHOT to discover the actual selling prices of homes in your Northern Virginia neighborhood.

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Giving your Northern Virginia kitchen a health inspection

Even though Northern Virginia home owners  spend a lot of time commuting, like most people, they also spend a lot of their in-home time in the kitchen.

That’s why I thought this two-part, 6-minute video from NBC’s The Today Show is worth your time.  There are lots of great health reasons to be aware of the tips and techniques covered in this video.

Also, you may find these ideas will help keep an environment where the movement of flu bugs and infections is more controlled.

The techniques are not complicated, they just require being aware of some of the things we do routinely.  Take a look and see what you think.

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Protect Your Home From The Flu Virus

The Flu Season us upon us and it is expected that “Swine Flu” will have an impact in Chantilly and just about everywhere else.

You can do a lot within your own home to keep the environment as “flu free” as possible.

This 4-minute interview from The Today Show has some good suggestions that are worth hearing or hearing again.

You may not have know that:

The flu virus puts 200,000 people in the hospital, each year.  Keeping the house well sanitized is one way to stay a step ahead of the ever present flu bug.

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Investment Properties and Tenants: Basic Tips

Real estate investors in Chantilly and elsewhere are still able to take advantage of some significant opportunities.  Arguably, things are a fair amount better now than they were when this NBC Today Show interview first ran in March 2009.

There are deals to be had, but there are risks as well, so you have to do your homework and know what moves to make.  You can get hurt if you are not careful.

The simple but often overlooked guidelines offered in the video include:

Do remember that the video is over a year old when you hear the stats.  I think the general guidelines are as good as ever.

And if you are looking for a bank owned or other property as your first of next investment, we’d love to be of help.  Contact us anytime!

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