Archive for July, 2010

Credit Check and Fannie Mae Loans

By: Mariana Byrd

A recent article in The Washington Post ( talked about how lenders feel regarding the second credit check that is “required” by Fannie Mae before closing.

In May of this year lenders received word that Fannie Mae was, as of June 1, 2010, going to require a second credit check right before closing.  In the past, the credit check was done at the time of application and not pulled again unless something suspicious was found the first time.  If the lender was going to sell any loans to Fannie Mae then this second credit check needed to be pulled 1-5 days before closing.

In theory, this sounds like a good idea.  According to a study done by Fannie Mae, borrowers whose properties had been foreclosed upon had accrued additional debt before closing that was not known about because a second credit check had not been pulled.  Fannie Mae argued that had a second credit check been pulled, the additional debt would have been disclosed and thus, the lender may have not made the loan (due to a lower credit score or a higher debt to income ratio).

Lenders state that one of the problems with pulling a second credit check right before closing is that credit is not meant to be stagnant.  Credit scores are ever changing and, thus, are likely to change from one month to the other.  Another problem is that the credit is being pulled days before closing which is one of the most hectic times in a real estate transaction.  Time and money, both from the seller and buyer, will be lost if the source of the debt cannot be verified in time and the closing has to be delayed.

According to The Washington Post article, a month after Fannie Mae told lenders that a second credit check was required they have pulled that information from their website and are now saying that it is only a suggestion and not a requirement.

Nonetheless, as a buyer, it is always a good idea to not receive any inquiries into your credit (other than the necessary credit checks done by the lender and potentially a homeowners insurance company) during the home buying process.  Any good real estate agent and mortgage lender will always tell their clients that they should not open any new credit cards or buy any large item(s) on credit (furniture, cars, etc) at any time before closing on their new home.  It seems that this is sound advise even if a second credit check is required or not.


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Invest in Durham’s Food Revolution

By: Courtney James

Grocery stores are one of those not so obvious features that definitely have an impact on real estate property values.  It’s not something that people generally discuss when they are telling me their list of must-haves.  However, it almost always comes up when we are in the car driving from house to house.  It seems that recently people have been more inquisitive about places that might sell locally grown food.  We are lucky in Durham to have a wonderful Farmer’s Market that in the summertime is open on Wednesday afternoons as well as Saturday mornings.  Other than the Farmer’s Market though, there are no strong options for local food.  I am hopeful that this soon will change.

For those of you that do not know, Durham Central Market is a new neighborhood cooperative grocery, aiming to locate in the heart of Durham. Durham Central Market follows the owner/member model of local co-op groceries, like Weaver Street Market in Carrboro and Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro, but with a distinctively Durham flavor. As of a couple weeks ago they committed to a location at the corner of Mangum and Broadway Streets, two blocks from the fabulous Farmer’s Market.

This month they are asking for all of us to spread the word to get new members.  To date they have 650 members and are hoping to get 1000 by summer’s end.  I bought my share as soon as I learned about the organization.  I strongly suggest you do the same! It’s a one-time $100 share purchase.  Visit their website today and join the Durham food revolution!!

Features of a Cooperative:

  • Co-ops are owner and democratically controlled by their members – the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods – not by outside investors.
  • Co-op members elect their board of directors from within their membership.
  • Co-ops return surplus revenues to members proportionate to their use of the cooperative, not proportionate to their investment or number of owner shares.
  • Co-ops are motivated not by profit, but by service – to meet their members’ needs for affordable and high quality goods or services.
  • Co-ops exist to serve their members.

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Happy Trails to You

By: Page Page

I recently received an email from my homeowners association list-serve about the new Durham Bike & Hike map.  What a great resource for the citizens of Durham!  If you like to get out there on your feet or bike, this is the map for you.

For those who like to run or take a leisurely stroll, the map gives you multiple options through the greenways, multi-use trails and hiking/walking paths throughout the county.  Many of these are located in the downtown area!

If you like to hit the roads on your bike, the map provides great route options for every level of cyclist.   For those preferring a leisurely ride away from traffic, you can use the many multi-use paths throughout the city.  For the more adventurous riders, the map highlights road traffic levels as well as the road accommodations for the riders.

In addition to all route information, the map provides a listing of restaurants and arts/cultural sites in downtown Durham.

The map can be viewed on-line at:

Additionally, copies of the maps can be picked up at the following locations:

-Durham City Hall in the Transportation Department (fourth floor)

-Durham bicycle shops (REI, the Bicycle Chain, Durham Bike Co-op)

Happy riding, running, walking and hiking!

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Home Depot Duke Smart Home

By Bill Dandridge

Recently I had the opportunity to tour the Home Depot Duke Smart Home with a client of mine.  This client was interested in buying an older home that would require many updates to help its systems to operate more efficiently.  My client was looking for inspiration, and he chose this highly innovative building from which to get ideas.

This house was a senior project from a 2003 graduate of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. Because of funding issues, or a lack of funding (the students thought that Duke was going to pay the ~$1.4 million in construction costs, which they were informed was NOT in the original plans), the Home Depot Duke Smart Home was not built until 2007. The first group of 10 students moved in at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.

Originally, the building was planned to have cutting-edge technology that reflected the most current innovations, but its plans were altered slightly to reflect the desires of its inhabitants. The students wanted to have solar water heaters and rainwater harvesting systems, for instance.

The Home Depot Duke Smart Home has achieved the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum designation from the US Green Building Council by following a rigorous  process during the building process, and by submitting a checklist of energy-saving measures implemented during the construction.

Please visit the Smart Home’s website (Duke Smart Home Program) to learn more about the home’s environmentally friendly features.

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