Establishing a credit history to get your first mortgage

27 Apr

iStock_000019014684_SmallOne of the advantages of a strong economy is the opportunity for a new college graduate to land a professional job. And with a decent “real job” salary comes the desire to purchase a home rather than rent.

A challenge that new graduates may face, however, is the lack of established credit to qualify for a mortgage loan.

Lenders have some very specific requirements when it comes to mortgages. They are looking for an established credit history – at least two or three credit lines established for about two years – and on-time payments. This history and payment record will help establish a good credit score, which is an essential part of loan qualification.

For a young professional, credit lines might include closed-end credit, like a car loan or student loan, or revolving credit, like a credit card. It is important with revolving debt that you keep your balance at 50 percent or less of the credit limit. Ideally, you want to use the credit card at least once every three months for a purchase and then pay it off in full. This ensures that the credit line continues reporting to the credit bureau and may enhance your credit score.

But what if you’re a young professional without any established credit? A good way to begin establishing a credit history is to apply for a credit card with a small balance and use it as outlined above. Some individuals may find they need to open a secure card, where they deposit an amount – say $500 – and then use their credit card to draw against that reserve. This allows the user to prove they can handle credit responsibly and make timely payments. Lenders are not looking for large credit lines, but rather, a good history of use and payment.

An important consideration when establishing credit is the borrower’s own credit history – and not as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. For example, if your parents add you as an authorized user on their credit card, it might be convenient when you are in college. However, you are personally building NO credit that will help you qualify for a mortgage. Further, when you are ready to apply for a mortgage, you will need to be removed from this account so the lender can accurately run your credit score.

Being a co-signer on an account, however, is not the same as an authorized user. If your parents, for example, co-sign a car loan or other closed-end credit account, it helps to build the credit of both responsible parties.

So what if you’re close – for example, you haven’t had credit for a full two years, or maybe only have two accounts? A lender may consider your application if you can show at least 12 months of on-time payments on a cell phone contract or rent, to strengthen your credit profile.

Homeownership is a viable goal for young professionals. Take steps now to establish good credit and you’ll be well on your way when it’s time to buy your first home.


Lisa Green (Vice President of Loan Origination)

Allen Tate Mortgage NMLS# 79543

Loans available in NC/SC

Fresh and modern in Fort Mill

22 Apr

Ask any Realtor® what’s important in a home for sale, and they’ll likely tell you “curb appeal.” A home’s curb appeal is a first impression – and often a lasting one.

Fort Mill BlogAt our new Allen Tate Fort Mill location, we have curb appeal. Our office space is new, modern and highly visible, and our front door faces a busy retail corridor and popular Publix grocery store.  We’re easy to find – less than one mile from Gold Hill Road, Exit 88 off Interstate 77, at the corner of Gold Hill and Pleasant Roads.

Step inside and the “appeal” continues. The design is sleek, modern and even a bit hip, if you will. That’s because the office was designed with busy clients and agents in mind. It’s light and open. The lobby/reception area features a high work table, where clients can relax and view properties on a flat screen. Private conference space is easily accessible for more private meetings.

Today’s real estate agents are no longer tethered to a desk in a formal office. In many cases, their office is wherever and whenever they need to work – from their home, a client’s home, a listing, their vehicle or a local coffee shop. Our new office speaks to that flexibility by offering a “landing pad” design, where agents can stop by and work or meet with clients, as their schedule and needs call for.

The open floor plan is also highly conducive to agent communication, morale and growth. We can host an onsite sales meeting, agent training session or casual reception for clients and guests. The flexible design also allows the office to easily accommodate new agents, which is already happening as agents learn about Allen Tate and see the great new workspace they can call home.

The Fort Mill area is rich in local history, with natural areas including the Anne Close Springs Greenway and nearby Lake Wylie, and close to Charlotte and the airport. But what attracts buyers is the hometown feel, exceptional schools and low South Carolina taxes. Both new home builders and businesses are being drawn to the area.

We’re certainly not new to Fort Mill – just our office location. So you can still count on the same great service that you’ve come to expect from Allen Tate.

When you’re out and about on one of these great spring days, please stop by our office and say hello. We’re excited about our new home, but we’re even more excited about helping you find yours.

Carol Hampton (Branch Leader, Fort Mill)

Should I “bundle” my home and auto insurance?

20 Apr

One of the most common questions we get from customers is if they should insure their home and autos with the same insurance carrier. That’s a great question.Manicured Yard

And the answer is simple: Absolutely. By “bundling” your home, auto and other insurance policies with the same carrier, the carriers will reward your business with a discount – usually 10 to 20 percent.

But here’s an even better question. Why should you work with an independent insurance agency?

  • Your independent insurance agent is your best resource for obtaining the best coverage at the best price to protect you and your assets.
  • Your independent agent “shops the market” from a variety of top insurance carriers to find the right type of coverage for your individual needs. Your agent provides you with options, when available, so you can make the right decision.
  • Your independent agent makes sure that the correct information is obtained and everything is in place for your coverage to begin on the date that it is needed.
  • Your independent agent provides a single point of contact for questions, claims, changes to existing policies, and new policies if needed.
  • Your independent agent is your first and best advocate in the case of a loss. Your agent is your trusted advisor and is there to help.

Here’s a little secret: Any insurance agent can obtain the same rates from an insurance carrier, based on the client’s information, claims history, etc.

The main reason you should work with an independent insurance agent is that an independent agent has access to coverage from a variety of carriers, not just one brand. An independent insurance agent offers you choices.

Rather than provide you with a price, an independent agent provides you with service – to ensure you get the best coverage at the best price, from the insurance carrier that’s the best fit for your needs and situation.

If you haven’t already done so, contact an independent insurance agent at Allen Tate Insurance to save money on your home and auto coverage – AND a whole lot more.

Robin Price
Vice President of Sales, Allen Tate Insurance

What to plant, when to plant

17 Apr

It’s hard to know when to do what in the garden during our fickle Carolina spring. A weekend with temperatures in the 70s might find us enthusiastically planting tender annuals, and the next weekend covering them with sheets and hoping for the best as temps dip below freezing.ThinkstockPhotos-178712376 (1)

Here are a few tips to keep you blooming and growing.


Although the colorful displays may tempt you, don’t plant annuals anywhere in the Allen Tate areas until at least after April 15. April 26 may be even better.

In October, plant pansies and violas among spring flowering bulbs, and they will provide a perky display until it’s time for spring annuals.

Perennials and Native Plants

Late blooming perennials (such as mums, black-eyed Susan’s, and perennial ornamental grasses) are best planted in spring. Chrysanthemums, day lilies, Shasta daisies, asters and others can be planted any time from early spring until hot weather arrives.

  • Choose a cool, cloudy, or damp day to plant, or plant in late afternoon.
  • Plant in good soil; create a basin of soil or mulch around each plant; and give a good, soaking watering. Check that the water drains well.
  • Mulch after planting.

Perennial clumps already coming up in your garden can be dug, divided and replanted now. But let the spring-flowering ones, such as bearded irises and primrose, stay put until after they bloom.

Native plants will be resilient to our Carolina pests and summers. Look for and include natives in your garden plan.


 During the remainder of April, look for cool weather crops. This includes lettuce, cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower. You’ll find young plants of these veggies in the garden centers now, ready to plant.

Start your summer garden – tomatoes, eggplants, summer squash, cucumbers and peppers – from mid-April to early May at the latest. Optimal planting times for other vegetables vary, so be sure to consult a planting guide for your region of North Carolina or South Carolina if your garden is diverse.

To Prune or Not to Prune

Pruning hollies, laurels, boxwoods, ligustrums, cleyeras and nandinas growing in the Carolinas is best done in late winter, before new growth begins, so mark your garden schedule and take care of that next year.

However, azaleas, forsythia, rhododendrons, camellias, pieris, gardenias, spiraeas, and most other shrubs that bloom in spring and early summer should not be pruned until the flowers fade, or you risk removing flowering wood and buds.

Happy planting!

By: Susan Larkin (Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations)

Good things are happening in Greensboro

15 Apr

In the real estate business, it’s not unusual to have a client who is moving with mixed emotions. While they are excited for their new home, they’ve grown quite attached to their current home.NorthElm_Full

We feel a bit like that at the Allen Tate Greensboro-North Elm office.

We will miss our old location, but we are so excited about our new location that we just moved to at 3623 North Elm Street, Suite 100. It’s a great spot – a contemporary business park near Lake Jeannette, with all the modern conveniences, near major travel routes, yet surrounded by natural wooded areas and walking trails. It’s really quite beautiful, and we have the best neighbors – professional services firms including law, accounting and insurance – whose clients will hopefully become our clients, too.

Real estate is a business that requires consistent connectivity. So it was the right time to find a new office location and design that will take us into the future, catering to the workforce we want to attract and retain, and the client service we strive for at Allen Tate – and to remain the Greensboro market leader.

We’re excited about our new home. The living room-style lobby is open and welcoming; the technology is impressive; and the space is versatile, including private conference space for client meetings. We love the soft, contemporary colors and sleek furnishings that warm the agent offices, and we can’t wait for the opportunity to go for a walk or run at lunch time (the office has a shower and a locker room too!).

And, finally, our street name matches our office name – North Elm – so hopefully that means we found the right place to settle in for a long time into the future.

Stop by and see us. We can’t wait show you around – and show you why you’ve made the right choice.

By: Nancy Radtke (Branch Leader, Greensboro-North Elm Office)


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