Saturday, July 6, 2019

My clients are beyond measure!

© Mark M. Hancock /
I made a new batch of laminated bookmarks. They state, “My clients are beyond measure!”
Each bookmark includes a forward and backward 6” ruler and useful measurement information.
They’ll be in the mail and at my Open Houses this month.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Count on me to level with you

© Mark M. Hancock /
I converted levels into pop-by gifts for Clients. They state, “My clients are beyond measure!” and “Count on me to level with you”

Your Credit Score and Options

Credit scores play a significant role in influencing various aspects of everyone’s financial life. A credit score is often used as an indicator of your financial responsibility and management habits. Your credit score influences these items: loan approvals, interest rates, employment opportunities, insurance premiums, utility services, credit card approvals, credit limits, house and apartment leases, cell phone contracts, security deposits, negotiating power, qualification for financial products, security clearances and overall financial health.

Understand Your Credit Score
Credit scores range from 300 to 850 and are used as a gauge of your ability to fulfill obligations. A high score indicates a high ability to repay debts. It is based on many factors, but the primary issues are your previous payment history, amounts owed and credit history.

Before applying for any loan, know your credit score and what items are on your credit reports. Sometimes, there are surprises such as unpaid medical expenses, mistaken identity or outright fraud. These can be resolved, but it takes time and sometimes money.

There are three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Consumers are entitled to one free report per year from each of the agencies. If you don’t want to enter information online, call 877-322-8228. Otherwise, request free reports at

While the credit score determines your initial ability to be approved for a loan, it’s a primary tool to determine interest rates that you will be offered for a loan. Buyers with high credit scores should be offered lower interest rates and save money over the length of the loan. If the score barely passes the minimum threshold, offered interest rates will probably be higher than better-qualified applicants (2% to 4% or higher in some cases). Each 1% of increased mortgage interest drops home buying power by 11%.

To purchase a house, various factors are considered. However, 660 is considered a “acceptable” score. A house lease will often require a score of 620 or better. To learn more about the various options available and required scores for home loans, please read this post by Experian

To learn more about how credit reports affect buyers’ ability to get loans or leases, please read this post from TransUnion

Ways To Improve Scores

Fix inaccuracies. If there’s an error, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides resources at to help consumers dispute errors on their credit reports.

Scores can also be improved by eliminating debt and paying the entire balance each month (weekly is best) before any deadline. Don’t open new lines of credit. Don’t move debt from one card to another. Minimize balances with the highest interest rate first. Pay bills automatically.

History itself is 50% of the score. Consequently, regular payments over time are the most surefire way to keep credit scores healthy or improve current scores.

Since credit history is important, keep your oldest credit card with the longest history but minimize or frequently eliminate the balance. Meanwhile, pay off newer credit cards first. However, keep them open at a zero balance because closing accounts simultaneously can be a red flag.

Lease With a Right to Purchase
If a mortgage isn’t possible, a “Lease With a Right to Purchase Program” allows tenants to find a home to rent that they may also want to buy in a few years. This option is useful during the credit repair process because some property management companies accept applicants with a combined household credit score of 550 or higher. Talk to your real estate agent to learn more about these programs.

I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock

#DFWmark #REALTOR #InformationOfValue #IOV #credit #finances #HomeLoans #LeaseOptions #CreditScore #VeteranOwned

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

What to expect when leasing a house

As a licensed Texas REALTOR, I can help tenants find and secure leases to make a house into a home. In almost all instances, the landlord pays my fees - not the tenantPlease call or text 214-862-7212 or email me when you want my help. 

A house lease is different than an apartment lease. However, it’s often a much better experience for tenants.
When the family comes home, they are HOME. It looks like a home, it feels like a home, it has all the benefits of a home and, yes, it has many of the obligations of a home (water, mow, edge and weed the lawn, etc.).
For tenants currently living in apartments, a house or townhouse lease is a good transition before a house purchase. For tenants with large families or large pets, it may be the only option.

It's vital to fill in each blank on the application that I provide. My clients frequently jump over other applicants because we present complete, neat and accurate applications with all the supporting documents. We make it easy for the listing agents to do their jobs, so we benefit. 

Ensure you know what you can afford
There aren't many good reasons to look at properties you can't afford. It isn't a good use of anyone's time, and tenants will probably be disappointed with their choices afterward. 
The rules of thumb are to either:
A) Earn three times the lease price.
B) Divide your annual household income by 40 to determine an affordable monthly rent. Read more about this calculation.

Ensure your credit is good
Get a free, "soft inquiry" credit report to know your credit score. These are available through your bank or outside vendors such as Credit Karma. Frequently, these scores will appear higher than the score pulled for the lease because the soft pulls only use one reporting service. 
The best lease houses will require a score of at least 650 or higher. Good houses will want 620 or higher. The basic entry level is 600 or more. 
To lease a property, your credit score can be slightly lower than 600 if landlords agree to additional deposits or prepaid months. Talk to your REALTOR about these options, and let them know your situation to best help you. 
It's extremely difficult to get any lease properties below 550. Expect to pay several months upfront with a cashier's check. 
To learn more about your credit options, please read Your Credit Score and Options.

What is the process

If you’ve never leased a house or worked with a REALTOR before, you’ll have many questions. I have answers.

1)      Contact DFWmark
2)      I’ll email you a link to the state-mandated Information About Brokerage Services section of
3)      Let me know what you want:
a.       How many bedrooms
b.       How many bathrooms
c.       What location (city, school district, neighborhood or even a specific street)
d.       Maximum price (and possibly a minimum price to narrow the options if too many)
e.       Pets or not
f.        There are many other filters, but they reduce options beyond these basics.
4)      Let me know when you want to move.
5)      With this information, I can automate a search for your ideal lease. The default setting is to deliver any new options in your specific request parameters each morning about 6 a.m. via email. If you only want results on specific days of the week, in the afternoons, or any combinations of the two variables, please let me know. I’ll make it happen.
6)      I’ll email a blank application form to you. Please have each adult (over 18 years) fill out an application. Please ensure no lines are left blank. Please do NOT sign the application. Scan or make a cell phone photo of the completed form and send it to
7)      I’ll input your information into a digital format and return it to you for factual verification. If you approve, we’re almost ready. The landlord will also want the following, so it's most efficient to let me securely store these items:
a.       Scan or photo copy of each applicant’s picture ID.
b.       Scan or photo copy of each applicant’s last two pay stubs.
c.       Photo of any pets that will be on the property.
8)      For our records, I’ll also need:
a.       A digitally-initialed Information About Brokerage Services form required by the State of Texas
b.       A digitally-signed Tenant Representation Agreement - this lets me represent your best interests specifically for real estate transactions
c.       An Affiliated Business Disclosure  - because my brokerage has majority stakes in any related businesses (title, insurance, etc.). 
d.       Intermediary Relationship Notice if both agents work for the same brokerage.
9)      When you locate the ideal property for you, please select up to four additional properties to see as “backup” options.
10)   Call, text or email me to see those select properties.
a.       I will view all options on a map to determine the most logical route.
b.       Calculate the amount of time between stops
c.       Set each stop in 15-minute increments while accounting for travel. Meanwhile, each appointment will be for a 1-hour window (if listing agent allows) to ensure you look long enough at specific, preferred properties of the set.
d.       Contact the schedule service and/or listing agents to get access to the properties. Some properties still have tenants. The landlord may require a 3-hour minimum notice to see a property. Occasionally, they require 24 hours.
11)   See properties
a.       If you only want to see one property, we can meet there.
b.       If you want to see more than two properties, I’d be happy to pick you up in my SUV, or we can meet at a neutral site, and you can ride in my SUV from there. (THIS OPTION IS SUSPENDED DURING COVID19 PANDEMIC)
12)   If you decide a property is ideal for you, let me know. I will
a.       Call the listing agent to ensure the property is available, negotiate any additional benefits for you and explain any extenuating circumstances.
b.       Complete the application form with the landlord’s information.
c.       Send the digital form to all applicants for digital signatures through a secure system.
13)   I will collect all signed and securely-stored documents and submit to the listing agent.
14)   The listing agent will contact you to pay a non-refundable application fee (they average about $50 per applicant). This pays the fees for background and credit checks. 
15)   If approved, the listing agent will provide the lease documents, collect the deposit, pet deposit (deposits are per pet) and first month’s rent (all these funds need to be ready before application). This is often done online, but can also be accomplished with certified checks.
16)   Make arrangements to move. I have several trustworthy movers listed on my DFWreferral blog, if needed.
17)   Get renters insurance for the new address and send proof to landlord, landlord's agent or property manager. Ensure power, gas, water, sewage, trash collection, any phone lines, cable, internet and various other utilities are placed into your name and activated on or before the day you move in (if possible).
         The owner may let you start moving early if these are completed early.
18)   Inspect and photograph any damage that remains in the home, so you won’t be charged for those damages later. 
19)   Move.
20)   Complete and return the damage report to the landlord, landlord's agent or property manager. It MUST be completed and returned WITHIN THE DAYS STATED ON THE LEASE after the move-in date. It MUST be returned to the LOCATION STATED ON THE LEASE - normally an email address.
21)   Change your Texas driver’s license (within 30 days) and vehicle registration (within 90 days) to the new address.
22)   Change billing addresses online or send change of address notices to creditors and other important correspondents. Submit a change of address form to the U.S. Postal Service to ensure your mail is forwarded to your new address.
23)   Enjoy life in your ideal home!

Welcome to the DFWmark Blog!

Welcome to the DFWmark Blog! This is a collection of content by Mark M. Hancock, a REALTOR with Keller Williams North County in Celina...