A new survey finds that house hunters who know their credit scores feel significantly more prepared to buy a home. Yet, just half of recent buyers say they have checked their credit as soon as they considered purchasing a home, according to the survey, commissioned by Experian, of 250 recent and 250 future home buyers. "No one likes to go into a lender's office, whether buying or refinancing, and not know the state of their credit; it makes them feel helpless," says Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education at Experian Consumer Services. "Our survey shows when people interact with their credit by tracking it and learning more about the factors that affect it, they feel more confident about their purchase power." Still, more than two in five future home buyers are concerned that they will not qualify for the best home loan rate and have even delayed purchasing to improve their credit, the survey found. Fifty-eight percent of buyers surveyed say they are working to improve their credit to qualify for a better home loan rate, but 35 percent of future buyers say they are not sure what steps to take to qualify for a larger loan. For those who are working to improve their credit, the top actions respondents said they've taken are paying off their debt, paying bills on time, keeping balances low on credit cards, protecting credit card information from fraud or identity theft, and not applying for or opening new credit accounts. Source: Experian Home Buying and Credit: Survey Report 2015

Permits for future home construction climbed to a near eight-year high in May, which sets the stage for greater inventories from homebuilders in the months ahead. Building permits surged 11.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.28 million units, the highest since August 2007, The Commerce Department reported. This marks the second consecutive month of increases in housing permits, which have been above a 1 million-unit pace since July. "Residential construction has been the laggard in this [housing] recovery and the moon shot surge in new permits today means the final piece of the recovery puzzle is now falling into place," Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, told Reuters. While the future signs look bright, groundbreaking on new homes posted a drop in May, plunging 11.1 percent to a 1.04 million-unit rate. However, that follows a strong April, where housing starts were at a revised rate of 1.17 million, the highest since November 2007, The Commerce Department reported. Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com®, blames the rain for the slowdown last month in homebuilding. May’s record rainfall across the country made it difficult to begin construction on new homes, Smoke notes. Source: Reuters

The number of trees on a lot can be a powerful influencer for home buyers. Eighteen percent of repeat buyers and 25 percent of buyers purchasing a new home said that being on a wooded lot or on a lot with many trees was very important to them, according to National Association of Realtors®' home buyer and seller surveys. Home buyers in the South and in rural areas stressed the importance of having trees on their property. Twenty percent of home buyers in the South and 30 percent in rural areas thought that having a wooded lot or many trees was very important. If buyers can't live with a wooded lot, they certainly at least want one nearby. Twenty-three percent of recent buyers surveyed felt that convenience to parks or recreational facilities was an influencing factor for their neighborhood choice. Living close to parks and recreational facilities was the most important to recent buyers aged 34 and younger as well as recent buyers aged 35 to 49. Home buyers may not only want trees for beauty but also for savings. At least three trees strategically placed on a lot can save an average household between $100 and $250 in annual energy bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Source: National Association of Realtors®  

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