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5 Items Lenders Look For When Reviewing Your Mortgage Application

Before you score your dream home, you usually need to secure a loan. What’s a good way to do that? For starters, you can review these five items lenders look for when reviewing your mortgage application now to see how you stack up.

Income and Expenses

Obviously, lenders will look at your income—and having steady income is a good thing. In a nutshell, good income equals good chances of making your payments consistently.

However, lenders will look on the other end of the spectrum too. They will review your expenses—fixed and flexible—to help determine your debt-to-income ratio.

Down Payment

Down payments vary and depend on buyers’ personal situations. With that said, typically the larger the down payment, the better.

For instance, lenders are more likely to give lower interest rates with lower loan amounts. In general, a solid number to aim for when it comes to down payments is 20 percent.

Credit History

This is one of the items lenders look for when reviewing your mortgage application that is in-depth. First of all, it goes well beyond your credit score. Lenders will want to see a full credit report.

Below is a quick look at other factors lenders might check:

  • Payment history: It pays to make payments on time. Having a good payment track record when it comes to credit cards and past loans reflects well on potential borrowers.
  • Negative marks: This includes missed payments, collections, delinquent accounts or bankruptcy.
  • Recent credit applications: Some lenders may see too many recent applications for lines of credit as a sign of financial woes.
  • Being an authorized user: Be careful who you share credit card accounts with. If you are an authorized user on someone else’s card, how they handle it reflects on your report as well.

These are but a few prime examples of what lenders will discover in your credit report. The good news is you can also access your credit report for free at least once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Employment History

Basically, proof of stable employment for multiple years works in your favor. It demonstrates a pattern of responsible behavior.

Liquid Assets

Perhaps liquid assets can be thought of as security blankets for lenders. Knowing what assets borrowers could turn to cash quickly in a pinch is comforting when it comes to their return.


Remember, this list of items lenders look for when reviewing your mortgage application is just a start. Consider being proactive and accessing your credit report. Then make any adjustments you can to improve your overall report.

In the meantime, you can always talk to your Realtor more about what lenders may consider as well as what you, as a borrower, should look for in a lender. Check out our other blogs for more real estate news and local market trends!


9 Winter Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

If you are looking for things to do around the house over the Thanksgiving holiday, look no further. Our list of winter maintenance tips for homeowners can act as your to-do list for cold-weather prep!

Do a property walk-about.

Walk around your home and inspect it. Look for small cracks and openings in the foundation. Seal them yourself if possible. If not, reach out to a professional.

Also, check for other potential air leaks around windows, doors and ventilation pipes.

Check your roof.

Make sure to check your roof for any loose shingles that could allow water and moisture to seep into your home. Replace shingles as needed. Don’t forget to check the seal around your chimney as well.

Clean and inspect your gutters.

Fall is messy! Leaves and debris can quickly clog gutters. Keep water flowing away from your home by keeping your gutters clean.

Look for ailing tree limbs.

Strong winds during winter storms could be dangerous to both people and properties if a tree branch snaps. If you see weak or dead limbs, contact a professional tree removal service.

Repair patios and pavers.

If you have loose pavers or stones on your patio, try to fix them before the first freeze.

Winter will only make it worse thanks to what is known as “frost heave.” Basically, it’s when the soil pushes the stone farther out of place.

Protect your pipes.

You can find pipe insulation at local hardware stores and do this money-saver on your own. Put it around pipes under sinks, in crawl spaces and attics, outside and so on.

Insulate your attic and crawl space.

Proper insulation goes a long way. It may cost a little up front whether you opt for a service, or you buy materials and do it yourself.

Add protection to your windows.

As far as winter maintenance tips for homeowners, this one has options. First, you can store your screens and install storm windows.

Or you can hang curtains. Then there’s the option to add caulk or weather stripping to windows as needed. Whatever you choose, adding an extra barrier to your windows is a good idea.

Inspect furnaces and fireplaces.

In fact, your furnace and fireplace should both be inspected annually. This ensures they are safe and working efficiently.


Finally, reach out to your local utility company and request a home energy assessment. Their assessment might provide additional winter maintenance tips for homeowners that will help save more energy and money! For more homeowning tips and other real estate news, keep reading our blogs.


The Pros and Cons of Renting a Home

Renting is often the first step before home ownership. But when is it time to make a move to buy instead of signing another lease? The pros and cons of renting a home may help you decide.

The Pros

Maybe you just graduated from college. Perhaps you just moved to town. Regardless of the why, looking at the pros and cons of renting might help you see the big picture. Let’s start with the pros of renting:

  • Limited responsibility. As a renter, if something breaks or needs repairing, you tell the landlord who in turn handles the expenses and the repairs.
  • Renting can be budget friendly. To clarify, renters know exactly what they owe each month without the worry of unexpected home repair expenses. This helps you plan and stick to a budget.
  • No down payment. Not having to cough up a large lump sum of money for a down payment is one of the pros of renting a home that’s hard to argue with!
  • More flexibility and freedom. For example, renting offers the comfort of being able to make a quick move if needed. Leases typically range from 12-months to 24-months but can be month-to-month for a higher cost.
  • Good for anyone who travels a lot. For those who travel often, renting allows them to do so easily without the worry of property management.

The Cons

Now, it’s time for the flip side.

  • Not building home equity. Oftentimes, people say renting is throwing money away. While that is not exactly true (as you are paying for a home whether it’s rent or a mortgage) what they mean by that is when you rent, the home is not your asset. When you pay mortgage toward home ownership, you are building valuable equity.
  • No tax benefits. Simply put, there are no tax benefits to renting.
  • Lack of stability. When renting, the landlord can increase the rent at any time. Moreover, you could be evicted at any time and not necessarily with much notice.
  • Less opportunity for customization. When it comes to picking a new paint color for the walls or making any aesthetic change, renters usually need the landlord’s approval. On top of that, often restrictions imposed by the landlord or property management company will make any allowable changes limited.
  • Bound by the terms in the lease agreement. You are obligated to keep the terms of the signed agreement. That could even mean restrictions like no pets!


If you are struggling to decide what’s best for you and your current situation, these pros and cons of renting home may help make the decision easier. Thinking it’s time to buy? Reach out to a trusted local Realtor for guidance!

Looking for more real estate news, trends and advice? Keep reading our blogs!

6 Benefits of Owning a Home

Owning a home has many benefits, from building equity to having the peace of mind of knowing that where you live is yours and yours alone. The Lee County Association of Realtors has compiled a list of benefits of owning a home. Then, when you decide that you want to buy, we’ll also assist you in finding your new place!

The benefits of buying a home

For many, buying a home stands out as the ultimate dream. If you’re considering that option, here are some of the pros!

Building equity

Buying a home is an investment—with the idea that hopefully your house will appreciate in value over time. This leaves you with added value if or when you decide to sell. In other words, buying a home gives you a way to get a return on your investment.

When paying a mortgage, think about it as contributing back to your own investment, as opposed to paying rent, which is not an investment in anything you own.

Opportunity to tap into your investment

As an investment, owning a home gives you ways to tap into your equity should you need it. This could be in the form of a home equity loan, refinance, home equity line of credit or reverse mortgage.

Improving your credit score

Staying in line with the financial benefits of buying a home, doing so can help improve your credit score. This is especially important if you don’t already have much of an existing credit history. A well-managed mortgage can drive up your credit score by showing that you’re a responsible borrower.

Control over customization

Among the benefits of owning a home is the opportunity to make home repairs, upgrades and customization at your discretion without interference from a rental company.

Want to hang up a painting using nails? Thinking of repainting? Or do you want to redo the kitchen? When you own a home, the sky’s the limit as to how you customize it!

Lower costs over time

If you live in a rental, your rent may increase over time at the discretion of the leasing company. However, when you buy a home and put down a fair down payment, you may actually be paying less over time to live there than you would with a rental—especially if you have a fixed-rate mortgage.

Peace of mind

Owning a home is a gratifying experience that provides you peace of mind each and every day. Your home is yours—and no one else’s!


When it comes to home ownership, the Lee County Association of Realtors is here to assist you every step of the way. We are a team of experienced Realtors ready to help! So, contact us here to get started! Finally, for more tips and guidance, check out our blog.

9 Benefits of Working with a REALTOR®

Let’s start with honesty. Honestly, real estate may seem simple on the surface, but once you dive in, you realize it gets deep. These nine benefits of working with a REALTOR® may help you avoid getting in over your head!

Honest, ethical conduct.

REALTORS® are licensed professionals. As members of the National Association of REALTORS®, each REALTOR® must abide by a strict code of ethics. To summarize, expect transparent and fair treatment in all transaction-related dealings.

Additionally, your interests come first and foremost.

Objective information and input.

First of all, clients working with REALTORS® will receive non-biased, factual information on properties. REALTORS® can provide information on schools, zoning, utilities and more.

In fact, when it comes to the benefits of working with a REALTOR®, having access to their data as a resource is a huge! After all, you are making a life-changing decision—so having all the facts possible is a strong advantage.

A network of vendors.

Why waste time searching for and vetting an endless list of potential vendors? REALTORS® can easily provide you with a list of respected professionals. This includes contractors, repair professionals, staging companies, photographers, appraisers and so on.

Increased search power.

Along the lines of more data, working with a REALTOR® gives clients the ability to review the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is a tool used by REALTORS® to list homes and find others on the market.

Often, there are properties available on the MLS that are not listed anywhere else.

Current know-how.

Rules and regulations change. When you work with a licensed REALTOR®, you can count on their up-to-date knowledge.

Expert local market advice.

Local REALTORS® know the local market better than anyone. They will know what is hot and what is not. To clarify, they can tell you to yay or nay when it comes to national trends versus what is selling locally.

Gain an expert negotiator.

The benefits of working with a REALTOR® keep getting better! Knowing you have a professional advocate looking at all angles centered on your best interests is worth its weight in gold.

Emotional support.

Perhaps one of the more underestimated benefits to working with a REALTOR® is the emotional support. Again, they are objective bystanders who get the gravity of what is inevitably an emotional situation.

They will provide an ear to listen as you work together through the in-depth process.

Expert guidance.

Finally, we saved the best for last. Working with REALTORS® ensures you receive expert guidance every step of the way!


If you weren’t sure about the benefits of working with a REALTOR®, hopefully this sheds some light! We are also here to answer any questions you may still have. Each and every member of LCAR is capable of handling any and all of your real estate needs. To find out more about us, our members and local real estate news, keep reading our blogs!



Welcome to the Lee County Association of REALTORS® Blog

When it comes to selecting a real estate agent, we know you’ve got plenty of options. In Lee County, Alabama, however, our Realtors are fortunate to have a few coveted qualities on our side! At the Lee County Association of REALTORS®, our members adhere to strict standards of professionalism, boast decades of combined experience and a cultivate an unmatched sense of community. We believe this leads to exceptional real estate experiences for our clients, whether they are buying, selling or both. As an extension of our service to our members and community, we’d like to introduce you to the Lee County Association of REALTORS blog. Welcome!

About the Lee County Association of REALTORS  

The Lee County Association of REALTORS is committed to being a resource for our members, affiliates and the community as a whole. In the real estate world, Realtors are recognized as upholding the highest level of professionalism in the industry. Backed by expertise and adherence to a strict code of ethics, our Realtors proudly represent the Auburn, Opelika and Lee County, Alabama area real estate landscape.

With nearly 700 active members and affiliates, we strive to act as a professional resource for our members while also offering valuable insight into the local real estate climate and community for our clients. Our goal is to help our Realtors serve to the best of their abilities and empower their clients to be able to make informed decisions related to their real estate endeavors.

The Lee County Association of REALTORS blog 

We truly care about connecting with our members and our community, and the Lee County Association of REALTORS blog is another way to do just that! The blog will showcase information that will be beneficial for persons on all sides of a real estate transaction—from agents to homeowners and everyone in between—in an effort to provide more value to our followers.

Follow the blog for industry insights for both members and clients, from rules and regulation updates for members to interesting local trends and statistics for homeowners. We encourage you to share the blog with others who may find it useful. We also ask that if there is ever a topic you’d like to see addressed on the blog, do not hesitate to reach out and let us know!


Once again, we’d like to say welcome to the Lee County Association of REALTORS blog! Browse our website for more community resources, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with everything we have going on.

Lee County Association of Realtors makes a donation to the Auburn Opelika Habitat for Humanity

The Lee County Association of Realtors (LCAR) donated $5,000 to the Auburn Opelika Habitat for Humanity on November 12.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization felt they could not safety hold their annual “Habitat Around the Heart” fundraiser, instead this year they are asking sponsors to give directly to support building Habitat homes.

These donations go directly to support the mission of building homes, community, and hope in Auburn and Opelika.

Habitat for Humanity has recently completed 4 homes in Opelika and are now planning and building 3 more homes in Auburn.

You may contact Auburn Opelika Habitat for Humanity at www.auburnopelikahabitat.org.

Follow us on social media at https://www.facebook.com/leecorealtors!

Lee County Association of Realtors makes a donation to the Food Bank of East Alabama and Mercy Medical

The Lee County Association of Realtors (LCAR) donated $30,000 to the Food Bank of East Alabama and Mercy Medical on Friday, March 20.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local charitable organizations are seeing an increase in need from citizens. Charitable organizations are also having a harder time securing resources during this time of need.

“With a national emergency now declared, local school districts closed, we are stepping up to provide the resources to help both the chronically food-insecure and those newly experiencing food insecurity,” said Martha Henk, Director of the Food Bank of East Alabama. “We are fully operational but are experiencing a decline in traditional sources of food. Support from the Lee County Association Realtors will play a major role in helping to make sure our neighbors are fed.”

Mercy Medical provides medical care for the underserved in Lee County. Mercy Medical indicated they have seen a major increase in their level of activity. They are in the process of establishing a “Teledoc” service to help Lee County citizens who are trying to practice social distancing, but need to speak to a healthcare professional.

“We appreciate the service that the Food Bank and Mercy Medical provide to this community. We hope that this donation will be helpful in this time of need. We’re all in this together,” said Lee Harris, 2020 president of LCAR.

The Lee County Association of REALTORS® promotes and enhances the success of its members through education, professionalism, and ethical conduct. For more information about LCAR visit leecorealtors.org.

Follow us on social media at https://www.facebook.com/leecorealtors/!

First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account: Helping You Save for the Perfect Home

There’s Good News for Alabamians Looking to Purchase Their First Home

Alabama has signed into law a new savings account program supporting first-time homebuyers. Known as the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Program, Alabamians can create a monetary savings
account for the down payment and/or closing costs for the purchase of a single-family dwelling. What’s more, the principal deposits and earnings from the account are tax deductible.

With the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Program, you’re one step closer to finding your perfect home!

Here are the details on Alabama’s latest program benefiting first-time homebuyers:


Alabama first-time homebuyers and those re-entering the housing market, if they have not owned a home within 10 years.


A savings account that can be used towards the down payment and/or closing costs for the purchase of a single-family dwelling.


You can open a First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account starting in 2019.


The account can be opened at any financial institution authorized to do business in Alabama, and only marketable securities or cash may be contributed.


Talk to a trusted advisor, such as your local REALTOR®, to help you understand all the tax benefits associated with homeownership – and to help ensure you’re getting the most out of Alabama’s new
law, the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Program.


When you are ready to buy a home, you will have the savings you need. Plus, the principal deposits and earnings from the account are tax deductible. Total deductions from deposit and earnings can be up to $50,000. Principal contributions can be up to $5,000 for individual filers and $10,000 for joint filers.

The First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Program could have a positive net economic impact on Alabama that would range from $2.4 million to $26.8 million annually in economic activity due
to increased home purchases.

To learn more about how you can unlock the keys to homeownership, visit the First-Time Homebuyer section of AlabamaRealtors.com.

Habitat Around the Heart

The Lee County Association of REALTORS® made a $5,000 contribution to the Auburn Opelika Habitat for Humanity as their Presenting Sponsor for the 2017 “Habitat Around the Heart” annual fundraiser.

Habitat Around the Heart is Friday May 19, 2017 from 6:00 – 9:00pm at the Bottling Plant Event Center in Opelika. Catered by Chef Jonathan Walker – Cash Bar – Live Jazz – Silent & Live Auction. Tickets are $35 each and are available at http://www.auburnopelikahabitat.org.

All donations and money generated by the auction go directly to support the local mission of Habitat for Humanity, to build and provide decent, affordable housing for those in need in our community.