Final 2015 Housing Numbers Now In

Final 2015 Housing Numbers Now In | Keeping Current Matters

Many have questioned the stability of certain sectors of the U.S. Economy, one section in particular is the housing market. Today we would like to share how the experts feel about how we ended 2015 and where they think we are headed in 2016.

How did we do in 2015?

The National Association of Realtors

“Overall, a resilient U.S. economy and very solid job growth in recent years made 2015 a great rebound year for the housing market.

Existing-home sales were at the highest pace (5.26 million) since 2006 (6.48 million) and the Pending Home Sales Index came in at an average of 108.8, the highest annual reading since…you guessed it: 2006 (111.7).”

The National Association of Home Builders

“With the December report on housing starts and permits, preliminary totals for 2015 are now available. Total housing starts at 1.11 million were up 10.8% in 2015 compared to 2014. Single-family starts were up 10.4% to 715,300. All four census regions also experienced increases in single-family starts for 2015.”

What can we expect to start 2016?

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist

“All indicators point to this spring being the busiest since 2006…

Demand for for-sale housing will grow and will continue to be dominated by older millennials, aged 25 to 34. This demographic has the potential to claim a third of home sales in 2016 and represent 2 million home purchases.”

Posted in 2nd Homes, Agents, Appraisals, Credit, Foreclosures, Home Buying, Home Selling, Homeownership, Investment Properties, Jersey Shore, Market Conditions, Monmouth County, Mortgage, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buying a Vacation Home to Make Some Cash? Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes

Don't make these mistakes when entering the vacation home business.

Shaun Egan/Getty Images

Buying your primary home is like achieving an essential piece of the American dream. And once you’ve experienced the satisfaction of homeownership, you might be tempted to purchase another. Hey, who wouldn’t want a leisurely vacation getaway spot—especially if you can turn it into a cash cow by renting it out?

While vacation homes can be an excellent source of income, managing them isn’t as easy as washing the sheets and posting a listing on VRBO. Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll soon be on the road to vacation home heaven. And, hey, maybe we can come stay once in a while?

1. Not checking the local regulations on renting

You’d think this would be obvious—but just ask Christine Karpinski, author of “How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner,” how often it gets overlooked.

“It’s a big gotcha for a lot of people,” says Karpinski, who also owns vacation homes in Austin, TX.

Before committing to a purchase, check homeowners association rules and city or municipality regulations. Your real estate agent should be able to help—but make sure you’ve picked a pro who’s familiar with vacation rentals.

You might be tempted to skip this step, because you see other folks renting out their homes nearby. But beware—if you’re caught, you could face hefty fines.

2. Not being picky about your management company

Guests are paying their hard-earned money to stay at your place instead of the traditional hotel down the block, says Matt Landau, a vacation rental marketing expert.

That means it’s your responsibility to keep the place clean and manage the arrival and departure of guests—as well as any problems that arise along the way. And while you certainly can manage those details yourself, you might want to consider outsourcing them.

“A lot of people get into and find out it’s way more work than they thought,” Karpinski says. “It’s a pseudo part-time job.”

That’s where a management company comes into play. But don’t choose a company based on which takes the lowest percentage cut, and be wary of the ones that charge a ridiculously low rate, Karpinski says.

They might be absentee, unskilled marketers, or maybe just dirty. When evaluating potential managers, Karpinski recommends asking to see five more of their properties—on the spot, with no warning. That way, you’ll be able to see how clean they keep each home, without giving them a chance to scrub beforehand.

3. Being thrown off by a furnished home

Many vacation homes are sold furnished, so don’t be turned off by one that needs a makeover.

More than once, Karpinski got an excellent deal on a vacation home because the seller’s decorating taste was iffy.

“I’ve paid a low price just because they were butt-ugly,” Karpinksi says.

Think of that garish wallpaper as a gift: It might throw off other buyers and nudge the price down, while you—the smart buyer—can just peel it off.

4. Buying to please yourself

We know the idea of having your own personal getaway, surrounded by all the things you treasure, is basically living the dream. But we’ve got some bad news: If you’re looking to rent out your property, your tastes simply don’t matter.

You want something that aligns with the market and that renters are likely to be searching for. For instance, one- or three-bedroom homes rent better than two-bedroom ones, Karpinski says.

Pay attention to what works in the vacation rentals nearby: Are buyers gaga for lake views or furnished porches? Spend your money on that, instead of making the home comfy according to your own standards.

5. Viewing it as a hobby

Sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway have made renting out vacation homes a relatively painless process—while being fun at the same time. But that doesn’t mean you can treat managing your vacation home as a hobby.

Sure, you could post some photos and get up and running right away. But you’ll be better off taking your time and making sure you didn’t miss anything that could throw your would-be vacationers for a loop. Quite simply: You’ll want to go above and beyond—providing amenities, guidebooks, and around-the-clock service.

“If you charge a nightly rate that is competitive with a hotel, you’re responsible to deliver a hotel-like service,” Landau says. You’re “running your vacation rental like a business and not a lemonade stand.”

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The 12 Days of Credit: How to Whip Your Finances Into Shape by Christmas


The 12 Days of Credit: How to Whip Your Finances Into Shape by Christmas


If a new roof over your head is at the top of your shopping list this season, then a good credit score is the best gift you, or your true love, could ever receive. (Forget about those exploding Hoverboards, OK?)

That’s because even if you’ve pulled together a down payment and lined up a terrific Realtor, without a credit score of 620 or preferably higher, you might not land one of the crucial achievements in the home-buying process: the mortgage pre-approval.

So before you start sizing up backyards on your tour of open houses, treat yourself and your main squeeze to a few (or all) of these gifts that are sure to help those three little numbers be as high as possible this Christmas. Don’t worry — we promise they’re a heckuva lot easier than fighting mall traffic.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… link to check my credit score for free.

A trip to lets you check each of your three credit reports for free once a year. That regular checkup can help you spot — and correct — a potential problem that might lock you and your true love out of your dream digs, says Randy Padawer, consumer education specialist at Lexington Law Firm in North Salt Lake, UT.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

… two loan or credit card payments made early.

Early payments cut down the amount of interest on your debt. They also reduce the chances you’ll overspend on your “nice list” — you don’t want to risk hurting your credit score by blowing money allotted for bills on holiday gifts, do you?

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… the information to place a credit freeze on my three credit reports.

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax all offer consumers the option to prevent the release of your credit report without your consent. That credit report freeze gives you control over who accesses your personal and financial information, but beware — it may also delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of your mortgage application.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… four paid hours to work with a credit counselor.

Even the best of budgeters can benefit from a second set of eyes. And in case the review of your credit report a few days ago turns up some unsavory tidbits, a credit counselor can get you on the path to cleaning things up in order to get that new home.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… five golden factors that determine my credit score.

“Like unicorns and elves, the perfect credit score of 850 is extremely rare,” Padawer says. “However, understanding the five factors that determine a credit score and the way it is measured can help to boost your score and better your financial future.”

Those golden factors are payment history (35%), debt and credit utilization (30%), length of credit history (15%), new accounts and inquiries (10%), and diversification (10%).

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… a six-month emergency fund.

“Savings equals security, and living without an emergency fund is a risk that nobody should take,” says Harrine Freeman, author of “How to Get Out of Debt.” Before buying into the financial responsibility of a mortgage, you should have at least six months of income, which will shelter you from credit-busting events such as unemployment, increased cost of living, medical emergencies, and home or auto damage.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… a digital calendar to remind me to review my budget weekly.

Google Calendar, an iPhone app, or an old-fashioned wall calendar also helps you keep track of bills to ensure timely payment. Remember, bills paid late (even just one) can lower your score by several points, says Freeman.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… a list of eight apps that help track my spending and budgeting.

Even better than a system to help you pay your bills on time is one that gives you an overview of your income and expenditures, to help you fine-tune your budget. A few that Santa’s elves are fond of include Spendbook, Mvelopes, Stay on Budget, Wally, YNAB, Dollarbird, BillGuard, and Mint.


On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… an eBay account to sell nine (or more) things I no longer use, need, or want.

“That’s a great way to generate extra cash to stash for upcoming moving expenses, pay off debt weighing down your credit score, or start an emergency savings account,” Freeman says.

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… 10 clipped coupons to start a new collection.

As old-school as it sounds, coupons can save serious coin at the grocery store and on life’s little essentials, you know, like toilet paper.

“Coupons are like free money,” Freeman says.

If you’re going to buy the SpaghettiOs, the Velveeta, or the Cottonelle Ultra anyway, why not spend a little less for it? Those nickels and dimes can add up fast and create some room in your budget to save for a down payment or pay off a bill to boost your credit score.

On the 11h day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… a link to the 11 best calculators to use to get out of debt.

“It’s smart to know exactly how long it will take to pay off a credit card or get out of debt,” Freeman says.

And debt calculators provide that essential viewpoint to help you understand if you’re on track or need to adjust your budget to meet financial goals.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

… a year’s subscription to a credit reporting service that guards against identity theft.

“When your identity is stolen, the thief can open accounts and run up debts in your name, hurting your credit score,” Padawer says.

A credit reporting service instantly alerts you when a new account is opened in your name and/or in the event of suspicious activity. In some cases, it also informs users of any changes (positive or negative) to their credit score. offers free credit monitoring, but Freeman says a paid service such as offers more preventive features and more assistance in the event your identity is stolen.

— — —

And don’t forget the all-important, 13th day of Christmas few sing about. That’s when you should gather all your pre-approval facts and figures to speed up the process. Pull together personal information (driver’s license, SSN, etc), proof of assets, and the exact down payment amount you can afford.

Because the best Christmas gift of all is being able to buy your dream home.

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What is a Rocket Mortgage?

A new app allows you to secure a mortgage from your phone in just 8 minutes. This is how it works.


You may now be able to secure a mortgage from your couch or, even, while waiting in line to pay for all those holiday gifts. Quicken Loans recently launched a self-service mortgage application that lets prospective borrowers receive full approval and lock in interest rates on conventional, Federal Housing Administration or Veterans Affairs home loans in less than 10 minutes online. It has dubbed the service a “rocket mortgage” in reference to “the eight minutes it takes a space shuttle to reach orbit.”

Keep in mind, that eight minutes refers to the mortgage approvalprocess. It’ll take a bit more time to actually close on the loan. The process, for instance, could still get slowed down if a homeowner or buyer delays other steps in the mortgage process, such as the appraisal. Quicken said that a majority of its loans do close, however, in 30 days or less.

How it works

The application process is expedited since the online mortgage lender uses data provided by various partners and sources to verify a borrower’s asset, property and income information — you don’t have to manually provide supporting loan documents. (You will be given the opportunity to review all of this data once it is imported, Quicken says.)

Borrowers are quoted rates based on Quicken Loans’ actual pricing for that moment. You are given the opportunity to compare and customize your interest rate, mortgage term, monthly payment and fees based on current underwriting guidelines and what type of product you are looking for or can afford. You can lock in your rate or abandon and restart the process at any time.

“With Rocket Mortgage, clients get real interest rates and recommendations based on their unique situation at that moment,” the company said in an email.

Mortgage shopping 101

Of course, a rocket mortgage (or an online mortgage in general) may not be for everyone. The service eliminates face-to-face interaction with mortgage lenders, which some consumers may value over convenience. (Quicken customers can a talk to a mortgage banker at any point in the process via chat or phone if they have questions, the company says.)

Also, you shouldn’t let the opportunity to get approved for a home so quickly preclude you from doing your due diligence. It’s still important to comparison-shop for a mortgage lender. You should also be serious about doing business with one before you apply since the application will generate a hard inquiry on your credit report and could subsequently hurt your score. (Many scoring models will count all mortgage inquiries as one, provided they take place within a 14- or 45-day period).

And, no matter which lender one you choose, it’s important that you check your credit before applying for a mortgage since a good one entitles you to the best terms and conditions. You can pull your credit reports for free each year at and see your credit scores for free each month on

If your score is below a 620—Fannie Mae’s minimum score requirement—you may want to improve your credit before starting the application process. You can do so by scanning your credit report for errors, paying down high credit card balances and limiting unnecessary credit inquiries.


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Deciding to sell your home is a big step…

Deciding to sell your home is a big step… Once you’ve made that decision how do you know who to hire to help you sell your home?

Look for an agent with the ‘heart of a teacher’ who will guide you through the process!  And… THAT’S ME!!!  MARIA PAGANO!!

How Much Must You Trust Your Listing Agent? | Keeping Current Matters

You and your family have decided to sell your house. It is now time to choose a real estate professional to help with the process. One of the major attributes this agent must possess is trustworthiness. To what degree do you need to trust them?

You must have enough trust in them that you feel comfortable they will accomplish all four things below:

1. Sell possibly the largest asset your family owns

In many cases, a home is the largest asset a family has. Studies have shown that the equity many families have in their home is the largest percentage of that family’s overall wealth.

2. Set the correct market value on that asset

Pricing is crucial even in the best of markets. You want to get the best price for your home without putting your house at a value that buyers will have little interest.

3. Set the time schedule for the liquidation of that asset

Your family probably has a certain timetable for the sale of your house and the move into your next home. Coordinating the home selling process to meet certain schedules can be tricky.

4. Set a fair fee for the services required to liquidate that asset

You will need to pay a commission to an agent for selling the home and coordinating all elements of the selling transaction including possible future negotiations (ex. with a home inspector or appraiser).

That’s a lot of trust. Make sure you pick a true professional to help with the sale of your home.  I have a proven track record in real estate sales for over 20+ years, in Monmouth County, NJ.  Please do not hesitate to contact me and discuss how I will help with all 4 of those points and how you can trust that I will do the best for you and/or your family!

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A+ Reasons to Hire A Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC]


Some Highlights:

  • Hiring a Real Estate Professional like myself to buy your dream home, or sell your current house is one of the most ‘educated’ decisions you can make!
  • I have the experience needed to help you through the entire process.
  • Make sure that you hire someone (ME!) that knows the current market conditions & can simply & effectively explain them to you & your family!

Contact Paula Pagano at 732.670.6484 or

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64.2% of Millennials Put Down Less than 20%

64.2% of Millennials Put Down Less than 20% | Keeping Current Matters
Digital Risk recently polled Millennials about the housing market. Among their findings was the fact that nearly two-thirds of the generation who have recently purchased a home, have done so with less than 20% down; with 36% putting down less than 5%!

Here is a graph detailing the results:

Millennial Down Payments | Keeping Current Matters

Willingness-To-PayThis means that more and more American’s between the ages of 18 and 34 stopped paying their landlord’s mortgage and started building their own family’s wealth.

Millennials aren’t the only ones taking advantage of lower down payments.Willingness-To-PayThe Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that if the down payment required to purchase a home went from 20% to 5%, a renter’s Willingness To Pay (WTP) increased by 40%.Willingness-To-Pay

Willingness To Pay | Keeping Current Matters

The problem is that thirty-six percent of Americans still think a 20% down payment is always required when buying a home. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

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