6 credit card mistakes you should avoid

Maintain a healthy score by avoiding these common credit pitfalls.

Whether you’re looking to rent an apartment or start a cellphone contract, your credit score matters. Lenders and third parties look to your score to indicate if you’re a risky borrower, and it can determine whether you’re able to get application approval for that Nashville, TN, apartment — or whether you’ll be living in Mom and Dad’s basement for another year.

Clearly, your credit score is an important component of your financial health — and your credit card habits and history are major contributors to this score. But the average credit score is a lukewarm 667, according to a recent Experian study. If you’re looking to improve your credit score — or simply maintain the score you have — make sure to avoid these six credit card pitfalls

1. Racking up a high credit card balance

Even if you’re paying off your credit card bills in full each month, you may still be hurting your score by how much you’re spending. Your debt-to-credit utilization ratio — how much debt you’ve accumulated on your credit cards divided by the credit limit on the sum of your accounts — comprises 30% of your credit score. If you want a good credit score, you need to keep your credit utilization ratio relatively low. A good rule of thumb: “Shoot to keep your balance to no more than 10% of your credit limits,” says independent credit expert John Ulzheimer.

2. Developing a habit of making late payments

Payment history comprises a whopping 35% of your score. Translation: Even missing just one credit card payment can substantially hurt you. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to prevent this. One option is to set up automatic bill pay by linking your credit card to a checking account. Alternatively, you can set up text message or email alerts to remind you when a payment is due. Still paying by snail mail? “Allow plenty of time for the bill to get there,” says Bill Hardekopf, CEO at LowCards.com. “Problems with mail delivery are not an acceptable excuse to an issuer for your late payment.”

3. Not checking your credit report

Every 12 months, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Because errors can appear on your report for reasons outside your control — such as someone sharing the same name as you and the bureaus mixing up your accounts — you need to vet each report. In fact, one in four Americans has spotted errors on their credit reports, according to a 2013 Federal Trade Commission survey. Because it can take time to get errors removed, you’ll want to be proactive and contact the credit bureau immediately if you notice an issue. Take note: Your credit report includes only your credit history — not your numerical credit score. (You can use myFICO.com’s free score estimator to get a rough idea of your score.)

4. Opening too many credit cards at one time

Every time you apply for a credit card, you trigger a “hard inquiry” on your credit report, which dings your credit score by up to five points. Although a slight ding may not seem like a big deal, opening multiple cards back to back could significantly damage your score. Also, each time you open a new credit card, you shorten the average age of your credit accounts; this can hurt your length of credit history, which constitutes 15% of your score.

5. Closing old credit card accounts

If you close an account, it reduces the average age of your accounts and lowers your available credit limit — a double blow to your score. Make sure you charge a purchase to each credit card at least once per quarter; if you don’t, the credit card company could perceive the account as inactive and potentially close it without giving you advance notice, says Beverly Harzog, a consumer credit expert and author of The Debt Escape Plan.

6. Carrying a balance

OK, this tip doesn’t boost your credit score, but it will save you money, so we feel compelled to mention it. Carrying a balance from month to month could mean you’re effectively wiping out any points or cash back you earn — even on a rewards card. “[Carrying a balance] doesn’t seem like a big deal when the debt is small, but compound interest on the balance can make your debt go from small to huge before you know what’s happening,” says Harzog.

The moral: Pay off your credit card balances in full and on time each month. “Credit cards are a tool to help build credit,” says Harzog. “They should not be used as a substitute for a personal loan.”

Call or email Kelly Wilson for any questions you have about finances.

- See more at: http://www.trulia.com/blog/improve-your-credit-score-avoid-credit-card-mistakes/?ecampaign=con_cnews_digest&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Fimprove-your-credit-score-avoid-credit-card-mistakes%2F#sthash.rpb9ZuGZ.dpuf

Ottawa Real Estate Market August

Market Statistics

Ottawa Real Estate Market August: Ottawa Real Estate agents sold 1,484 residential properties in August through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 1,276 in August 2015, an increase of 16.3 per cent. The five-year average for August sales is 1,265.

Real Estate Board Comments

“To date, this has been a record-breaking year for units sold,” says Shane Silva, President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “The year started off a little sluggish, but as soon as April hit we were either breaking records, or outpacing the year before considerably. Not only are we up 16.3 per cent over last year, this has also been the best August on record ever for OREB Members, blowing the average for August sales out of the water. This is a-typical of August when units sold normally start to decline approaching the fall.”

Smaller Inventory

“Units listed in both residential and condominium property classes continue to decline, as well as active listings at end of the month,” says Silva. “These numbers suggest that buyers have less options when looking to purchase, with the potential of entering into a seller’s market soon.”

Sale stats

August’s sales included 295 in the condominium property class, and 1,189 in the residential property class. The condominium property class includes any property, regardless of style (i.e. detached, semi-detached, apartment, townhouse, etc.), which is registered as a condominium, as well as properties which are co-operatives, life leases, and timeshares. The residential property class includes all other residential properties.

Average prices

“Average sale prices have been keeping steady all year,” says Silva. “This past month, however, there were six more properties sold in the $1 million plus range over last year, a possible explanation for the bump in average sales price for both condo and residential properties.”

Sales Prices

The average sale price of a residential-class property sold in August in the Ottawa area was $389,786 an increase of 2.5 per cent over August 2015. The average sale price for a condominium-class property was $272,166, an increase of 11.1 per cent over August 2015. The Board cautions that average sale price information can be useful in establishing trends over time but should not be used as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value. The average sale price is calculated based on the total dollar volume of all properties sold.

Best Performing Segments

“The hottest segments in our market for August continued to be two-storey and bungalow residential homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range, followed by one-level and two-storey condos in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range,” says Silva. “In addition to residential and condominium sales, OREB Members have assisted clients with renting almost 2,200 properties since the beginning of the year.”

Source: Ottawa Real Estate Board

6 Reasons to Buy an Ottawa Home in the Fall

Read the 6 Reasons to Buy an Ottawa Home in the Fall to see why fall may be the best house hunting season.

In Ottawa the spring real estate market rules. There are however, very good reasons to search and buy homes in the fall.


1. There’s less competition

Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. Families prefer to move in their new home before school starts. So they will be out of the competition for September and October and November. But there are still homes for sale — and in some cases, there’s just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer. There is always a great number of new listings that come onto the market in September.

Less buyers and more listings put you in a great position. This is the season to go for low offers especially on homes that have been on the market over the summer. Many sellers want to move before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and will be motivated to sell.


2. Sellers are worn-out

Some sellers who put their homes on the market during the prime selling times of spring and early summer might have been a tad overconfident by listing their homes for more than buyers were willing to spend. After months of no action, these sellers are often ready to make a deal. Sellers who mispriced their properties earlier in the year will have to make a decision to reduce in the fall. Or they will have to wait for the next spring season 6-7 months away.


3. Sellers are serious

Not all homes on the market in fall are summer leftovers. Some people need to sell in the fall because the timing is right. Maybe they were having a home built, and it’s now ready. Maybe they need to move because of a job. Sellers in the fall tend to list because they have to move by a certain date. That makes your position very strong.


4. Quick closing

Since many fall sellers must move fairly quickly before the holidays quick closing dates are easier to negotiate than in the early spring. In the spring many sellers take their time to find a property or even prefer to spend most of the spring and summer in their homes before moving just before school starts. If you are ready to move anytime it can give you a great negotiating advantage.


5. You’re the center of attention

Because spring and summer are ideal times to buy a home, real estate agents are usually busier then. And that could mean you might not always get the attention you want. This is also true for other professionals and institutions such as banks and lenders who do most of their approvals in the spring and early summer.


6. You can take advantage of end-of-year sales to outfit your home

There are bound to be improvements you’ll want to make after buying a house. You’ll also probably need to buy items to maintain your home, and if appliances weren’t part of the deal, you’ll need those too. Wouldn’t it be great to coordinate your home purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, the calendar determines when it’s a good time to buy all sorts of consumer goods. In particular, September is a great time for buying carpet and paint. October means lawn mowers go on sale, and appliances and cookware are cheaper in November.

Are you thinking to buy in the fall? Do you need a quick mortgage pre-approval or want a second opinion on the best rates? Call Kelly Wilson at  613-266-3570 or email to kelly@wilsonteam.ca.


Learn from pro home buyers

What can you learn from pro home buyers?

In other words what can you learn from investors who purchase homes frequently and make a living in the real estate industry?

Get pre-approved first

1) This has to be on the top of the list. GET pre-approved for a loan. Without knowing how much you can afford and how much the payments will cost you will waste your time. In Ottawa, most home buyers do their homework and already come with a pre-approval to work with a real estate agent. Mortgage brokers in Ottawa had done an outstanding job to get the message out about getting a preapproval before looking for a home. Being preapproved can certainly give you an edge over those who have not talked to a lender, and gives the buyers confidence knowing they can afford the home they are about to purchase.

Create a strong team of experts

2) This advice ties in with the above point. Develop a strong business relationship with a mortgage broker, real estate agent, real estate lawyer and home inspector. ‘Develop’ sounds very complex, simply call around and TALK to some professionals. Email is great but I would advise at least a phone call, preferably a quick personal meeting, with the professional you chose to work with. This person will represent and assist you. So get to know them beyond a quick email. Yes, Social Media and all that online tech platforms are great but nothing replaces a meeting with a handshake to agree to work with each other.

Organize your home search

3) Structure your home search. Experienced investors normally target a very specific property: “Focus on single family houses, with at least a 30 by 100 feet lot, maximum $350, planning to purchase in 60-90 days, in this area, age and condition etc.” They typically also add what they are planning to do with the property- rent, demolish, renovate etc. This type of description tells the real estate agent two things. First, this buyer is serious about purchasing and knows what she is looking for. Equally, this type of specific description just narrowed down the search criteria to be able to effectively monitor the market for newly listed AND relevant properties. Contrast that with “I am looking for a 3 bedroom family home with 2 bathrooms in Ottawa”. Your trusty agent will input this in the MLS and out comes about 800 homes… be organized and as specific as possible.

Define your must haves and good to haves

4) Define your must haves, like to haves and cannot haves. Determine what you must have in the new home. You have a large family so you must have at least 2 full bathrooms. No compromise there! Great! You just saved yourself looking at irrelevant one and half bathroom homes! Tell your agent what you’d like to have such as a double garage would be great. This tells the agent you would be OK with a single garage home if everything else is great, but search for double garage homes are a priority. The most important cannot haves are normally price and time. Be clear on when you want to purchase and take possession and what is the price range or the maximum price you cannot go over. If you are not sure about the must/like/cannot haves, your agent and mortgage broker can help you!

Be realistic

5) Be realistic. Do you want to live in the Glebe or Westboro neighbourhoods in Ottawa? Or in a suburb? Prefer to live in a condo downtown Ottawa? Learn the market values of these and other areas and property types. Be realistic what your budget can purchase and do not set yourself up to disappointment by wasting months looking for a home that you can buy for pennies on the dollar. They only exist in late night infomercials. Ottawa is a stable market where almost all homes (over 90%) that are sold on the MLS, sell for over 97% of asking price.

To recap

Be organized, be realistic, learn and get your support team together to assist you finding your new home. These are some suggestions to help with your home buying experience.

To get a pre-approval and ask any mortgage and financing questions call us! Kelly Wilson Top 1 % in Canada is here to help you!

Quick Mortgage Guide Cheat Sheet

What are the most common questions that our clients ask when they apply for their first mortgage, refinance or want to up-size?

Read our quick mortgage guide cheat sheet to see what are the most common questions and gain an invaluable knowledge on the process of getting your mortgage. For more details call Kelly Wilson at 613-266-3570.

If you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or loan here are some of the most common questions:

1. What is a pre-approval?

2. What is the difference between fixed, hybrid and adjustable-rate mortgages?

3. What are closing costs?

4. Can I qualify to buy a new home if I recently changed jobs?

5. How do I know which mortgage solution or loan is best for me?

6. When should I refinance my loan?

7. What is CMHC Mortgage Insurance?

8. What’s in a mortgage payment?



An in-depth assessment which gives you a pre-approval from the lender for a specific loan amount prior to purchasing a home. It also shows the seller and REALTOR® that you are serious about purchasing a home and gives you an advantage if someone else is interested in the same property.

Cost of a Pre-approval

By the way obtaining a pre-approval is free.

Fixed and Variable Mortgages

A fixed rate remains constant. The interest rate and payment is the same over the life of the loan. An adjustable rate mortgage (also known as an ARM), has a variable interest rate that may increase or decrease over the life of the loan. Monthly payments may increase or decrease with interest rate changes.

Closing costs

Closing costs are fees that both the buyer and the seller must pay for services performed to process and close the mortgage and other real estate transaction fees such as lawyer fees and commissions. Examples are: appraisal fees, title and recording fees, etc. These are in addition to the purchase amount and may vary by state. See here for a more detailed list for typical closing costs in Ottawa.

Change of Job

Your lender will evaluate your employment history and earnings along with other factors to establish a loan amount for you.

CMHC Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage loan insurance is typically required by lenders when home buyers make a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price. Mortgage loan insurance helps protect lenders against mortgage default, and enables consumers to purchase homes with a minimum down payment starting at 5%* — with interest rates comparable to those with a 20% down payment.

Hope this Quick Mortgage Guide Cheat Sheet help you and call us for more information on the lowest mortgage rate solutions.