How to Improve Your Credit for a Home Loan

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Improving Your Credit Score

To get the best mortgage interest rate, you will need to have good credit. If your credit is not so good, cleaning up your credit report and increasing your credit score will greatly improve your chances of getting a good rate for a home loan. If your credit score is already good, you will need to maintain it.


Check Your Credit Report

There are three things a mortgage lender will look for when you apply for a home loan.

  1. You (and your spouse) have steady income.
  2. How much are you able to put down.
  3. Do you have a good solid credit history

You can check your credit report by requesting a report from one the three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Federal law allows you to request one free credit report each year from each agency. You can do this by visiting


Check Your FICO Score

Your FICO score can affect the interest rate on your loan. The lower the score, the higher your rate which can possibly cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

In addition to your credit report, you can order your FICO scores from to get an idea of where your credit stands. You can also be able to see your scores from other sources such as credit card companies.


Dispute Inaccurate Information

Once you have your credit report, search it for any errors. Any errors or incorrect information can hurt your credit score and may cause your home loan to be denied. If any errors or incorrect information is found you can dispute it with the credit bureau. Providing documentation to support your claim of the error or incorrect information will help ensure it is removed from your report.


Pay Off Delinquent Accounts

Delinquent accounts are any late accounts, bills in collection, charge-offs, or judgments. If any of these accounts show up on your credit report, this will severely harm your chances of getting a mortgage. These accounts affect the payment history section of your credit score, which is the largest component of your score. You will need to start paying off and repairing these accounts.


Timely Payments Help Bury Delinquencies

Did you know that late payments can stay on your credit history for a whopping seven years? The damage to your credit is the worst when they first occur. If you have made a late payment, or just paid off your delinquencies, wait at least six months before applying for a mortgage. Six months of on-time payments can help your credit score start to build back up again.


Reducing Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

Your bank will look at your debt relative to your income. This is known as your debt-to-income ratio. This will compare the amount of money you have going out for debt to the money you have coming in (your income). Your bank and lender will want to see this ratio as low as possible. You will need to speak to your bank and lender to see what ratios they require to qualify for a mortgage.

There are a couple different ways to reduce your debt-to-income ratio. You can either increase your income, or the easier way is to pay down any outstanding debt you currently have. 


Don’t Incur Any New Debt

Don’t take on any new debt even if your debt-to-income ratio stays low. This includes applying for anything that can affect your credit score like credit cards, auto loans, or personal loans. You will also need to make sure you are not making any large purchases that can increase your debt. If you have any questions, always contact your mortgage lender first.


If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, reach out to any of our knowledgeable NextHome TriState Realty agents. 712-224-6398

Popular Landscaping Trends for 2021

Backyard vegetable garden

Landscaping Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic kept so many people home for most of 2020. And while things are finally starting to look up, many people are still spending more time at home in 2021. This time at home has many of us looking around and doing some home renovations, including landscaping.

So, what are the new trends that homeowners are using for their landscaping? 

A recent video from has outlined some of the most popular landscaping trends so far in 2021, including:

Vegetable gardens: The pandemic saw many people start their own vegetable gardens, as a way to stay busy, to stay sane, and a way to avoid as many unnecessary trips to the supermarket as possible. With spring planting pretty much already here, vegetable gardening is, once again, proving to be one of the year’s biggest landscaping trends.

Views from the inside: Obviously, you would like your landscaping to look great while you’re outside. But as many people have been forced to spend more time at home, it’s becoming increasingly important for your landscaping to also look great from the inside. As the pandemic continues on into 2021, this trend of landscaping with interior views in mind is expected to stretch right along with it.

Backyard playgrounds: Most playgrounds across America were completely shut down and taped off. Kids had nowhere else to play but in their own home and yard. Even though many of the public parks have opened up, lots of parents are uncomfortable taking their children there to play. As a result, creating an inviting play space in the backyard has been a huge landscaping trend since the pandemic hit—and with summer coming up, that trend will just continue to gain popularity.

Front yard social area: With people craving interaction, they are starting to take advantage of the space in the front of the home and are creating inviting areas to get together with neighbors and friends. Whether it is your front porch, entryway stairs, or your driveway, people are taking advantage of the space to catch up with others in the fresh air.

If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, reach out to any of our knowledgeable NextHome TriState Realty agents. 712-224-6398

Sellers Are Capitalizing On High Prices For Homes

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All Time High Home Prices

Are you a seller looking to get the absolute highest price for your home? Now may be the best time ever for you to capitalize on the high home priced market conditions.

According to recent data from, the median home listing price in the United States has now hit $370,000 this March. That is a 15.6% increase from March 2020 and the highest median home listing price on record since started tracking prices in 2012.

So, what is one of the major causes of increasing home prices? It is the lack of inventory! According to’s data, the number of homes on the market is down 52% than this time last year, and each month, 117,000 fewer homes are hitting the market than in the previous years. Is your mind blown yet? And not only is the lack of inventory driving up the prices, but it is also causing the homes to sell faster. In today’s market, the typical home is selling in 54 days. This is a full week faster than it was last year.

So, what does this mean for you? Low inventory is driving up home prices throughout the country. So if you are thinking about selling your home and want to sell it quickly, now is a really good time to sell while the inventory is low, with little competition and strong buyer demand.

If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, reach out to any of our knowledgeable NextHome TriState Realty agents. 712-224-6398

Why You Should Get Pre-Approved For A Mortgage Before Looking For A House

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Should I get pre-approved for a mortgage before looking for a house?

When you are thinking of buying a home, it is important to get ahead of the game and get pre-approved. But what exactly does being pre-approved mean? 

Pre-approval means the borrower has submitted basic financial information and provided access to their credit report to a loan officer. Then the loan officer looks at all of your finances. This includes your income, debt, assets, liabilities, and credit history. They then will determine how much money you can borrow, how much you could pay every month and what your interest rate will be.

In today’s housing market, you need to do all you can to stand out in a massive sea of borrowers. When you are able to submit a pre-approval letter from your lender with an offer it not only shows how serious you are in buying, but it means they have already verified your information and you’ve started the mortgage process.

Sellers are more apt to accept an offer if you have shown them that you have been pre-approved, it means there should be fewer issues with the mortgage. One of the last things a seller wants is the process being held up because there is an issue with the buyers employment, credit, or with their financial position.

Getting pre-approved can be a quick process. Sometimes it can take as few as 24 hours. Of course you will need to have all of your documents ready, like bank statements, employment check stubs, and tax returns.

Finally, keep in mind that just because you’re pre-approved to borrow up to a certain amount doesn’t mean that you should actually borrow all the way up to that amount. You need to do what is most financially comfortable for you. 

If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, reach out to any of our knowledgeable NextHome TriState Realty agents. 712-224-6398

Spring is here! Ready to Sell Your Home?

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Spring is here! Ready to Sell Your Home?

Spring is in the air and if you thought there were lots of homebuyers looking for homes before, just wait, they are coming out of hibernation. Once the weather starts to warm up, that is when it is considered a hot time in the housing market. So, if you have been thinking about selling your home, here is why you should start moving forward with those plans.

Warm Weather = More Active Buyers

With the holidays and cold weather (some) sellers tend to put a pause on listing their homes. But when spring comes, people are anxious to get rid of the cabin fever and they start touring homes. With the longer days and vacations set for summer, spring is the perfect time for buyers to start house hunting. Also, many buyers start their search in the spring in the hopes to close before summer. This way they have some time to get used to their new area and if you have children, things can settle down before the school year starts.

This Is A Sellers Market

Even though the interest rates have slightly risen, they are still in the lower 3% range for a 30 year fixed rate (as of 3/22/2021). This has many buyers out there trying to take advantage of these low rates and searching for their “NextHome”. With so many buyers looking and with the low single-family housing inventory this creates an environment where lots of buyers are fighting to compete for what is available on the market, thus creating multiple offer scenarios. Good for sellers… not so good for buyers.

Get A Head Start

So if you are even thinking about selling you home, you need to get started getting your house ready to be shown. Now is the time to call one of our knowledgeable agents and have them come and look through your home and make suggestions on how to put your home’s best face forward. They will also walk you through the process so you can be prepared and know what to expect.

Give Us A Call

Whether you are just starting to think about selling your home or you have already made the decision to list, or, if you know someone who is thinking about buying or selling, give us a call. We love to help all of our clients during the process and beyond! 712-224-6398

Organizing Your Garage

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Organizing Your Garage

If your garage is like mine it ends up like a catch-all for things that don’t go in the house. Outdoor furniture, storage containers, seasonal decorations, and kids toys and bikes can fill up a garage fast! In order to get your garage looking neat and organized, you are going to need to have a system in place. Here are some tips to help you out:

Make Zones In Your Garage

Possible zones could be:

Car Parking Zone -When creating this zone, don’t forget to calculate space needed to open your vehicle doors.

Storage Zone – Remember to consider hot and cold fluctuations if your garage is not climate controlled. Is there area prone to insects or rodents.

Work Area Zone – If you or a loved one like to work in the garage, make them a space for these activities.

Declutter and Group

Once you have your zones, you can declutter and start to organize. Group your belonging into groups. Start with keep, sell, and donate piles. Then you can narrow it down even more by grouping your keep items into different categories like: tools, gardening, sports, seasonal decorations, outdoor furniture, etc.

Possible Storage Solutions

Sometimes you need to think outside of the box for garage storage.  Use walls, ceiling storage, and every inch of space you can find.

Pegboards are a good possible inexpensive way to organize. You can hang all types of tools and everyday items. Just make sure they aren’t too heavy.

Open Shelving units can be another fairly inexpensive way to help organize. Your items with be out in the open and easy to find.

Overhead storage can be used for things that aren’t used very often or for items that can’t be stored on pegboards or on shelves.

Hooks are good way to help organize. These can be used to hang bikes from the ceiling or hanging items on the wall that are to big or heavy for the pegboard.


A good schedule to go by is to re-organize your garage twice a year. Just make sure you are keeping efficiency and safety for you or anybody else that may enter the garage.


National Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss’s Day) is March 2nd


Every year, National Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day) is celebrated on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Oh how I used to love to seeing my boys come home from school with their “Cat in the Hat” paper hats and other fun stuff the teachers would have planned for them to create and bring home that day. However, they are both a little older and now all I get when they come home from school is a “Teenager with an Attitude”, which is a far cry from the cute stuff when they were little!!

This annual event is part of the Read Across America initiative on reading created by the National Education Association in 1997. This motivational program and awareness reaches out to children of all ages, in all communities, and backgrounds and encourages them to read.

Here are some tips to help get your kiddos to read:

  • Read to them. It doesn’t matter how old they are, reading will help develop their brain. It will help them with their concentration, social skills, and ability to focus.
  • Have your kids read to you! This will help them get to know words and sounds. It will also spark their imagination and curiosity.
  • Visit the library. It is much cheaper then heading to the local bookstore to buy a book. Some libraries even offer free activities like storytelling times for the really little ones.
  • Pick up a book and read.  Children will often mimic their parents. So if they catch you reading, they are more likely to become readers themselves.
  • Take books with you when you go places. Have them in the car, in purses and backpacks. This will make them easily accessible and can help with the “I’m bored” times.

I hope this helps and don’t forget to celebrate Dr. Seuss Day with a fun book or activity. Happy reading!

House Hunting Red Flags


Buying a new home can be really exciting. We just don’t want you to get so excited that you rush into buying a home that you overlook some red flags. Most of the time red flags are overlooked or hidden by sellers while we are looking at the home. However, we need to take note of some tell tale signs that can indicate a potential issue. Here are a few:

Moldy Smell or Mold

Mold can tell you that there may be problems in the home such as leaks. This may lead to the need to replace things like carpet or drywall. Even though most mold you will find isn’t the toxic “Black Mold”, you still don’t want it in your potential new home.  Regular mold can still cause headaches and/or respiratory problems. Make sure to take note of any mold spots or moldy smells. If you don’t see the mold but smell it, look at areas around windows, under the sinks, and in the basement.

Odd Odors / strong air fresheners

If you walk into a home and are hit in the face with strong smell, there may be something going on.  If the home is overly-scented with air fresheners or there are bowls and containers of potpourri everywhere,  the owner it trying to cover up some sort of smell.  If what you smell is pet urine, this could indicate the carpet is saturated with it and will need replaced.


No one wants a house with a termite problem! Look out for signs like mud tubes on the foundation of the home which can indicate termites. Even if you don’t see anything, consider a termite inspection. Termites can cause serious foundation and structural issues in a home. You can always have a termite inspection done.

Foundation cracks / problems

While you are looking for mud tubes from termites on the foundation… Look at the foundation itself. Structural issues can cost thousands and thousands of dollars to correct. So take notice if the floors in the home slope noticeably or cracks in the foundation.  You have the option to have a home inspection done.

Random fresh paint

Fresh paint is always nice and can be used to make a room look and feel nice. But a random painted wall or spots can hide issues like water damage.  That brings us to the next red flag…

Water stains

You can normally see water stains by noticing yellowish or brownish areas. It can be a sign that the home has leaks.  Leaks can be fixed but the the damage to the wood can lead to structural damage. So make sure you are looking out for those stains on ceilings and walls.

In conclusion, with any potential red flag you see, always consult with a professional to see about doing a home inspection. They are worth every penny and skipping one can cost you more.


Down Payment


Sick of renting? Wanting to become a homeowner?  Unless you have stockpiled cash, you are going to need a home loan and a down payment.  Home loans are all very different with different down payment requirements. That will need to be a whole different blog! But, typical down payments are between 10 to 20 percent of the total price.  So, what are some tips on how to save up for that down payment?

Goal and Timeframe

Saving up for a down payment can take quite a bit of time. But the timeframe is ultimately up to you and your finances.  You will need to have a plan.  By having a plan, you will stand a much better chance of achieving your goal sooner than later. Decide how much you want to save and divide that by how many months you have chosen as your timeframe.  24 months, 12 months, or 6 months?  This will all depend on your budget and what you can financially afford to set aside.

Cut Expenses

Is there money you are spending that you could be saving instead? Take a good look at your bank statements and start tracking all of your expenses.  Where is your money going? Are there some areas you can cut back on or just cut out completely? Here are some ideas:

  • Take a break from the gym and workout at home
  • Do you REALLY need that high-priced coffee?
  • Bring your lunch from home and save on the take-out
  • Recurring subscriptions – Do you really need some of them?
  • Stop impulse buying. Think “If nobody were to see this, would I still want it?”

Be creative and think of more ways to cut expenses.  You will be surprised at how quickly the amount of money you can save will add up!

Get a Second Job

Is getting a second job really going to help?  Say you work 16 hours a week making $10 an hour.  That’s approximately $120 per week after taxes! (Figuring 25% for taxes) If you were to do that for an entire year, you’ll save more than $6,200 to put towards your down payment!

Speak to a Mortgage Loan Expert

Contact a mortgage loan expert. They can help you find the right home loan and guide you through the process. They can also advise you on options they might have with government incentives, or programs for first-time home buyers. They will know what will work for you and can possibly help reduce how much you have to pay out of pocket.

My Final Thoughts

By knowing your goal and timeframe, you can put your savings plan in place and be on your way to buying and owning your own home. Don’t forget to contact a mortgage loan expert to seek financial advise. Contact us at NextHome TriState Realty (712-224-6398) and our knowledgeable agents can help you with the necessary steps that will get you to your ultimate goal of homeownership.


What Does “A Seller’s Market” Mean?

Seller's Market

What Does “A Seller’s Market” Mean?

You might have heard recently that we have a huge seller’s market right now. So, what does that mean and how does it affect you?

In real estate the most common question is “How’s the market?”. They want to know if it’s a buyer’s market or seller’s market and is now a good time to buy or sell?

When people say it’s a seller’s market, it means there are more buyers wanting to buy homes than there are homes on the market. Here, sellers typically have the upper hand and can get a slightly higher price for their real estate because the demand for homes is higher. This is one of the many times where having a knowledgeable real estate agent comes in handy. They can make sure the home is priced correctly.  Too high of a price and your home can sit on the market, too low of a price and people may wonder what is wrong with the property and why it is priced low. So, if you are contemplating selling your home, NOW is the time to call your real estate agent and get it on the market. Remember, homes are selling fast!

If you are a buyer, you also need to make sure you have a knowledgeable real estate agent to help you work fast so you don’t miss out on a property you are interested in and to help you navigate the negotiation process.

Don’t miss out!  Give us a call and we can help walk you through the selling OR buying process. NextHome TriState Realty 712-224-6398

Take a look at the “What’s Active In Sioux City?” information.  At 1:10 p.m. on Monday, February 8th, there were only 67 active single-family homes in Sioux City on the market.

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