April 2015

Mariah’s Market Update

This month's Rumor Mill is going to revolve around the ways that you are naughty. Just kidding. No but seriously, I am not kidding.

There are three things I am can almost absolutely guarantee that you do, that you need to stop doing, because you are only thwarting yourself. Why can I guarantee that you do these things? Because everyone does them. I used to do them too, back when I was a civilian.

Naughty Error #1: For Pete's to the freaking crying out loud sakes, STOP trying to bring your credit score higher on your own. GOSH. If I had a dollar for every one of you people doing that right now...

Here's the deal: Credit repair doesn't make any sense. Perfect example: You have a $172 medical bill in collections from 3 years ago, and you want to bring up your credit score so you can buy a house. The right thing to do is pay it off right? WRONG!!!! *smack* Wrong wrong wrong. Suddenly you have activated recent activity on this dead account. There may be a way that you should pay it off, but it likely involves attempting to get the account manager to remove it from your credit report at the same time.

And you also have some credit cards with $800 balance on them. You should pay those off right? WRONG!!!! *smack* Wrong wrong wrong. You are probably going to pay those down, but not actually all the way to zero.

NOW STOP. Did you see what you just did?

You just read all that and said "Hey! Now I know what to do! I am not going to pay off old collections, and I am only going to pay off 3/4 of my credit card debt." WRONG!!!! *smack* Wrong wrong wrong. See, there you go, trying to bring your credit score higher on your own again.

Please read this and believe me: Every single situation is totally different, because everyone's employment history, credit history, debt to income ratio, and income are different. I can't guarantee that you need to do those things; I can only tell you right now that I know multiple people who in the past 60 days have messed up their ability to get a loan through taking the most well meaning and seemingly logical actions.

I personally have a 2 year plan to buy a big farmhouse for my kids. I just started working with my loan agent last week, 2 years in advance, to be sure that I am doing everything right to accomplish that. If you think you want to buy or refi a house in 2 weeks or 2 months or 2 years, you need to talk to a great lender now who can advise and direct you and your borrowing profile. Everyone thinks that is the last thing, but it is the FIRST thing. Call a good lender before you even call a Realtor! (Unless you are calling a Realtor for a lender referral.) (Or unless you are calling me just to hang out. I get that a lot.) Even they cannot guarantee exactly what will happen and when during the process of your credit repair, because FICO is an evil multi-headed monster-hydra fully understood by no one, not even its' trembling creators. But it is like climbing the Mt Everest of Crappy Credit; you can strike out alone with your own directional sense, or you can use the free guide who has taken 1000 people there before and carries a satellite phone. Choose wisely.

Naughty Error #2:  Doing nothing, because you know your credit stinks anyway, and you don't need some lender to tell you that because you already know it, and besides deep down you think it would be better if we all just went back to a barter system.

There's an ancient Chinese proverb that says: "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today."

Stop your boo-hoo party and just get the credit repair started. It takes awhile — you can't fix credit in 3 days, likely more like 3 months and occasionally 3 years — but every single credit score out there IS fixable. But it has to begin before it can end, so every day you wait is another day longer it will take. Stop kibitzing and just make the phone call.

Naughty Error #3: Getting money from anyone other than the person whose name is on the contract for your down payment/closing costs, and not telling your lender in advance.

I just had this happen last week, and fortunately my trusty escrow officer at Chicago called me up and said "Hey, uh, FYI the name on the deposit check that just arrived is not the name on the escrow. Does the lender know?" Guess what? Lender did NOT know. Fortunately, because of escrow's swift response, crisis was averted and they were able to restructure the loan. Interestingly, I was told by Chicago Title that they see this happen all the time these days, sometimes with dire effects.

Why is it anyone's business how you pay your freaking deposit? Two words people: MONEY LAUNDERING. They have all kinds of cray-cray rules about where you get your money, how you get it, the paper trail to show that it got there the way you say it did, not to mention they need that fruit to sit in the account and ripen before you spend it — just like in Great Gatsby, they don't like new money.

Make your life easier and tell everything up front to your loan officer. Even better, use a lender that your Realtor knows and trusts to be proactive with the file (the one above was a stranger to me.) Every lender is actually startlingly different with the fees, rates, and service they give you; the only one who wants your house to successfully close escrow almost as much as you do is your Realtor, so believe them when they tell you they know some good mortgage companies who will communicate and be on top of the file.

(And by the way, no actually, Realtor's aren't getting a kick back from the referral. Okay well let's face it, probably someone somewhere is. But that is way majorly illegal and few would bother to take that risk.)

It's just a fact that unless the zombie apocalypse actually happens (fingers crossed Walking Dead fans), the barter system is long gone and every single thing in your life is better, cheaper, and easier with good credit. Call, text, or email me right now if you want some great referrals to lenders who will advise and direct you for free, or if you know anyone who is thinking about moving and wants my help.

—Mariah 925-787-2490

Some Good Deals I See


152 Sahara Dr
2bed 2ba, 1344 sf

You need to stop thinking what you think you are thinking about Mobile Homes. These places are rad, and a nice park is a nice park! In the past few months I have sold two mobile / manufactured homes (the newer ones are called Manufactured, and they are NOT your grandma's mobile home let me tell you) and I have two more on the way. You are CRAZY if you are flushing money down the rent toilet when you can own your own bigger, better place for way cheaper including your park rent. This one is a dump-o-rama (hence the price) but yes, with carpets and paint you can add value to mobile homes just like other dwellings, and this park is a great one.


3445 Solana Ct

4bed 4ba, 3359 sf
15,617 sf lot

This house is the best deal by the square foot ($505) for a 4-bed in real Lafayette (Acalanes High) on the market, and it is absolutely gorgeous — vaulted ceilings, updated, and contemporary with multiple incredibly peaceful patios. It has plenty of flat grass & gravel, along with a cool unkept lower yard perfect for your kids to play Wild Kingdom. So what's wrong with it? It has a very odd floorplan with the kitchen and living area on the top floor, the master and a second bedroom on the middle floor (along with the front door), and two more bedrooms downstairs at backyard level. Hard to picture? It's because it's weird. But the house is still really lovely, and if you are artistic you will probably adore it because it has tons of light, air, and a creative feel. My biggest concern for you is how you would get 3 floors down from the kitchen to a party in the backyard, a problem I would personally solve with a firepole. Bottom line, if you're willing to work around a non- traditional floor plan, this could be your dream house.


2041 Olivera Rd
3bed 2ba, 1086 sf

This condo is still original owner, and while they weren't into our new-fangled nonsense like fancy schmancy countertops, light fixtures, and scraping off the popcorn ceiling, they did take excellent care of the place. Two attached patios on this great ground level (no steps!) unit, and plenty of grass plus a pool and clubhouse with your very reasonable $310 HOA fees. It even has a small master suite, with one of the bathrooms/patios attached to a bedroom. Out of the 2798 active houses on the market in our area right now, this one is the least expensive 3+ bedroom anyplace except Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, or Oakland. Usually you have to accept a meth lab and an Indian burial ground to get a price like this for 3 beds; at $220k, this is a screaming deal as a true "cosmetic" fixer.


1075 Bear Creek Rd
2bed 2ba, 1929 sf
7.45 acres

This property has a NICE two stall shedrow barn w/ oversize box stalls (about 15'x18' each), and a 160x40' well fenced FLAT paddock along with the 7.45 acres of rolling hillside pasture. The charming older 1929sf house (2bed/2ba) is just a bonus, lets face it, I know you only care about the barn. It's right next door to Poplar Place, making vacation boarding likely a snap! And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's because you are one of those strange non-horse people who would rather have quartz countertops than a covered wash rack & cross ties.

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