Sears Real Estate



Posted by Sears Real Estate on 2/19/2018

If you have seen your latest credit score and feel like you’re less than financially fit, don’t fret. There’s plenty of reasons why people end up with bad credit. There’s also plenty of things that you can do to amend and work with your bad credit. 


The Factors


Mortgage lenders look at a variety of factors when it comes to your credit and determining if you’re ready for a home loan. These include:


  • Age of credit
  • Payment history
  • Amount of credit debt


If you have opened new accounts frequently or ran up credit card balances without paying them down, these behaviors could negatively affect your credit score. 


Changing Your Habits


Just changing one of these bad habits can help your credit score in a positive way. This also means that a bad credit score doesn’t equal not being able to get a home loan. Your home loan may just come at a higher price. 


What If You’re Turned Down For A Loan?


You can ask your lender why you’re unable to get a loan. Some possible reasons that you’re getting rejected:


  • Missed credit card payments
  • Failure to pay a loan
  • Bankruptcy
  • Overdue taxes
  • Seeking a loan outside of what you can afford
  • Legal judgements
  • Collection agencies


If you have defaulted on a loan, missed payments or filed for bankruptcy, chances are that you’ll have trouble securing a home loan. Other factors that can affect your credit score include negative legal judgements that have affected your credit, or having a collection agency after you. 


How To Fix It


If you have bad credit, it’s not the end of the world. It’s possible that lenders can give you a loan if your credit score isn’t too low. You could, however, face higher interest rates as a penalty for a low credit score. This is due to the fact that you’re more likely to default on a loan based on your risk factors. 


You can improve your credit score by:


Keeping existing accounts open

Refraining from opening new accounts

Trying not to approach too many lenders to find the right interest rate. Every time you get a credit check, it affects your score. 


Finding A Loan


Signs of bad credit can take awhile to disappear from your credit report. Sometimes, you have the opportunity to explain to lenders what these factors are in detail so you can secure the loan. There are even mortgage companies that assist you through the loan process to give you a boost in getting the loan.


FHA Loans


FHA loans are a great program option especially for people with bad credit. These loans offer low down payment options and have lower credit score standards. FHA loans have been helping people to secure their first homes since 1934.


If you have bad credit, the dream of home ownership is still possible. If you’re early in the process, get to work and keep that credit score up so that when you head out to apply for a loan, you’ll be able to secure it.         




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Posted by Sears Real Estate on 2/12/2018

One of the most critical aspects of your financial state, when you’re buying a home, is that of your credit score. Credit scores take your entire economic history into account. That means every missed payment, every account opened, and that three-digit number represents every debt you owe. Once you obtain your credit score and assess your finances, if you realize your score needs help, you may feel desperate. The good news is that you’re not helpless. There are plenty of things that you can do to raise your credit score in a short time to increase your chances of getting a better rate on a loan for your home purchase. Read on for some tips on how to improve your credit score.



Keep An Eye On Your Credit Card Balances


One of the most impactful factors on your credit score is how much debt you have. How much debt you have versus how much available credit you have is a significant factor in your score. If you pay your balances in full each month, that’s great. Keep in mind that even if you do pay off your balances that monthly balance amount affects your score as well. Paying off your outstanding credit card balances will have a positive effect on your score.


Remember Some Debt History Is Good


Once you pay off a car or home loan, it can be tempting to want these accounts removed from your credit history. When you’re getting a home loan, the lender wants to know that you’re reliable. If you can show that you have responsibly paid off other loans that can only be a positive thing for you and your credit score. Don’t be so quick to remove old accounts that have been paid off from your report. 


Pay On Time


If you pay your bills on time continuously, it can only bring your score up. If our rating needs help, this could be the most critical thing that you can do to raise your score.


Keep Your Payments Equal Over Time


Keeping your payments equal means that you shouldn’t start charging more than you usually would. You also shouldn’t begin to make lower payments than you have been. Keeping your spending and payments consistent can help you to raise and maintain a good credit score.


If you know you’ll be purchasing a home soon; you should check your credit score. If you’re not close to heading out on the home search, you can pull back a bit. While you always want to maintain good credit health, you shouldn’t be so focused on your credit score that you forget about other things like saving for a downpayment. Know that your credit score is essential in buying a home, but understand that there are many moving parts when it comes to buying a home. 





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Posted by Sears Real Estate on 2/6/2018

 

Theodore's Booze, Blues & BBQ

A favorite of Brian and Kevin Sears'  in not only Springfield, Western Mass but the World is Theodore's Booze, Blues & BBQ or as most people just call it Theodore's.

Known for their great bbq and blues acts that come from all over the country; Theo's was also the star of a "Ghosthunters" episode for the infamous ghost many say still haunts the building.  Story from Masslive here.

Don't miss Fat Tuesday at Theodore's!!!
Tuesday February 13th will be the Annual Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Party at Theodores.   



If it's Fat Tuesday, you know what that means. Get yourself to Theodores' for the greatest Mardi Gras party outside of New Orleans!!!  Get down for all of the Mardi Gras inspired dishes like... Fried Green Tomato BLT, Seafood Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Catfish ala Meunier, Crawfish Etouffee!!! Special Desserts that usually included Bananas Foster Bread Pudding & Pecan Pie (Brian's favorite).   AND of course Hurricanes To Make You Feel Like You Are At Pat O'Briens.  Cajun Music with: Le Krewe de Gras Starts at 7:30pm


The recently added Cajun Poutine to their menu which Masslive sent their food critic to cover.  Who states:


"This is one of the best french fry experiences I've had in recent memory, and that includes the time I went to Belgium last year to walk around eating frites for a week.

Click the image to read entire review:


Here are some of their other great menu items!!!

Their world famous Burnt Ends:



To die for wings of all flavors:


And classic Cajun dishes like Jambayla:




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Posted by Sears Real Estate on 2/5/2018

If you are preparing to buy a house in the foreseeable future, you'll want to check out lots of home listings. That way, you can browse dozens of residences at your convenience and boost your chances of finding a terrific house.

Ultimately, there are several factors that homebuyers should consider as they evaluate house listings, and these factors are:

1. A Home's Age and Condition

A home's age and condition are key considerations for all homebuyers, at all times. If you assess a house's age and condition in a home listing, you may be better equipped than ever before to determine whether a residence is right for you.

Oftentimes, a home seller will provide the year that a residence was built in a house listing. A seller also may include details about any home upgrades and when these were performed, such as the installation of a new roof or heating and cooling system.

Study a house's age and condition closely – you'll be glad you did. If you evaluate these factors in a home listing, you can narrow your home search as needed.

2. A Home's Price

You know that you want to acquire a house, but you need to consider how you'll pay for a residence too. Fortunately, a home listing includes a house's price, ensuring you can find out whether a residence falls within your price range.

If a house exceeds your price range, you may still want to check it out as well. Remember, the initial asking price of a house is not set in stone, and you may be able to negotiate with a home seller.

For a buyer who reviews a house listing and is unsure about whether to pursue a residence based on its price, assistance is available. In fact, if you meet with local lenders, you can evaluate many mortgage options, get pre-approved for a mortgage and establish a homebuying budget.

3. A Home's Location

Think about whether you want to live in a city or town as you assess home listings. By doing so, you can perform a fast, efficient home search and increase the likelihood of discovering a house in your ideal city or town.

Furthermore, it usually is a good idea to think about your day-to-day activities prior to looking at home listings. If you want to own a house that's close to your office in the city, you may want to review home listings for residences in or near the city itself. Comparatively, if you prefer small town living, you can examine home listings in small towns across the United States.

If you need assistance during your home search, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can provide timely, accurate home listings for residences as soon as these houses become available. As a result, a real estate agent can make it easy for you to pursue many outstanding residences and find one that you can enjoy for years to come.




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Posted by Sears Real Estate on 2/2/2018

Don't Overpay Your Taxes


(Family Features)--With tax season in full swing, take time to consider how to get the most out of your tax return, which includes finding all the credits and deductions available to you. While many taxpayers claim common deductions, such as home mortgage interest and self-employment expenses, there are additional tax deductions that can lessen your final tax bill or increase your refund. These often-overlooked tax breaks could potentially save you hundreds - maybe even thousands - of dollars if you itemize deductions.



To start, get to know the difference between tax credits and tax deductions. Tax credits reduce the amount you owe in taxes. In some circumstances, tax credits allow a refundable credit, meaning you may not only reduce the amount you owe to $0, but you can also get money back. Deductions, on the other hand, simply reduce your taxable income. Both can have a potentially significant impact on your taxes and are often worth the extra effort to include on your return.



Some commonly overlooked credits include:



1. Child and Dependent Care Credit



You can claim a credit of up to $2,100 for day care for your dependents so you and your spouse can work. Qualifying dependents include children under 13 and parents who are no longer able to care for themselves.



2. Earned Income Tax Credit



The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a federal tax credit based on your income and the number of qualifying children living with you. Nearly 1 in 5 people who qualify fail to claim the credit, worth up to $6,318. Just because you didn't qualify last year doesn't mean you won't this year; one-third of the EITC-eligible population changes each year based on marital, parental and financial status.



3. Saver's Credit or the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit



Make sure you "pay yourself first." Even if it is only $20 each pay cycle, make sure you are putting some money into a retirement fund. If your company offers a retirement savings plan, like a 401(k), it is usually in your best interest to participate. If your income is lower than $60,000, you can receive a credit of up to $1,000 for a contribution of up to $2,000 into an IRA or an employer-provided retirement account, such as a 401(k). The credit is in addition to any deduction or exclusion from income for the contribution.



Some tax deductions that allow you to reduce your taxable income include:



1. Moving Expenses



If you moved for a job that is at least 50 miles away from your home and held this job for at least 39 weeks, you can claim your moving expenses even if you don't itemize deductions.



2. Tax-Preparation Fees



Plan for tax time. Tax laws change and so do life circumstances. Using a professional to help you file your return may be a wise investment. For example, the tax pros at Jackson Hewitt can help you get every deduction and credit you deserve and the biggest refund possible. Plus, the cost of preparing your taxes can be claimed if you itemize your deductions. In fact, one missed credit or deduction could more than cover the cost of having your taxes prepared by a tax professional.



3. New Moms



Breast pumps and lactation supplies are considered medical equipment, which means they qualify for a possible deduction.



4. Career Corner



Job hunting often means investing both time and money. However, you may be able to deduct some of the job-search expenses you incur. Costs such as preparing resumes, creating and maintaining websites, business cards, agency fees and travel expenses may be eligible.



5. Wedding Bells



If you were married in a church or at a historical site during the past year, you may be able to deduct fees paid to the venue as a charitable donation.



6. Medical Fitness



While general toning and fitness workouts to improve general health are considered personal expenses, you may be able to deduct your gym membership as a medical expense. If a doctor diagnoses you with a specific medical condition, such as obesity or hypertension, or a specific physical or mental illness, and prescribes workouts or participation in a weight-loss program to treat your illness, the membership dues may be tax-deductible.



7. Road Warriors



If you travel for business and aren't reimbursed by your employer, those costs can qualify as a deduction.



Refund Advance


If you're getting a refund, you typically want it as soon as possible, but that isn't always an option, especially if you are one of the millions of Americans who claim either the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit.  



Did You Know?


1. The IRS, as well as many states, allows taxpayers to catch up on missed credits or deductions, offering a three-year window for filing an amended tax return. You can secure unclaimed credits and deductions by filing amended tax returns to avoid losing any unclaimed funds from as far back as 2014.



2. With locations across the United States, including kiosks in 3,000 Walmart stores, the tax professionals at Jackson Hewitt make it easy to stop in when it's most convenient for you.



3. If you are a single parent, you can file as Head of Household instead of Single. This filing status can provide better deduction options and a lower tax rate schedule.



Source: Jackson Hewitt




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