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Chris Birk
Works at Veterans United Home Loans
Attended Missouri School of Journalism
Lived in St. Louis, Mo.
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Chris Birk

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Do RE agents still deserve 6%?

+Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff believes agents still deserve 6% of a real estate transaction. He attributes a solid real estate agent to be a great negotiator rather than just an informational gatekeeper (because sites like his allow buyers to access data themselves).

Do you agree or disagree with Rascoff's opinion?

Learn more here:
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20 Clues You're Buying in the Right Neighborhood

In regard to where you currently live, how many of these characteristics can you check off the list? ✔

1. It meets your specs.
2. You like what you hear.
3. You can get a latte.
4. You see home improvements.
5. Neighbors are organized.
6. People are out on the streets.
7. It passes muster after dark.
8. Crime numbers are low.
9. School scores are strong.
10. It's walkable.
11. It'll work for you for five to seven years.
12. Bus stops abound.
13. Ownership is high.
14. Homes hold value.
15. The commute is not bad.
16. City services are good.
17. Homes sell quickly.
18. You see plenty of churches.
19. It has police and fire stations.
20. (Good) change is coming.

Now consider your absolute ideal neighborhood; do you find all of these traits to be important? What matters most for you?

This article from +MSN clues you in on some of the not-so-obvious things you may want to consider when searching for a new home:
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Smart list!
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What a $200,000 Mortgage Will Cost You

I wanted to crunch some real-world numbers and take a look at the type of monthly mortgage payment you might have depending on what kind of loan you get (conventional, FHA, VA or USDA). 

The reality is mortgages aren't one-size-fits-all products. The type of mortgage can affect everything from your purchasing power to your monthly payment. The key is finding the mortgage program that makes the most sense given your particular financial situation, your homebuying goals and how you fit into the qualifying scheme.

To be sure, context and caveats are important when thinking about home financing. But sometimes just taking a cold, hard look at the numbers can also help provide clarity.

Many thanks to and MarketWatch. You can check out the breakdown and complete story here:
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Excited for this!
Come join me with +Samantha Reeves who'll be hosting +Veterans United's  Hang out of air (HOA) this Thursday as we discuss The Power of Real Estate blogging along with other guests.  See you then:

Watch it here on Thursday:

Discover the Power of Blogging for Your Real Estate Business

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Please spread the word!
Hey Military Families, there are 20 scholarships up for grabs!
Veterans United Foundation Scholarship is currently accepting applications to assist military service members and their families by awarding up to 20 bi-annual $2,000 scholarships to help pay for tuition and books.

Click this link to apply:
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Chris Birk

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Highest and Lowest Metro Area Homeownership Rates

Recently, the NAHB considered a housing statistic from the American Community Survey in regard to homeownership rates in metropolitan areas. Homeownership rate is calculated by taking the total number of owner-occupied units and dividing it by the total number of occupied units for a specific geography. 

The areas with the highest and lowest rates may surprise you, although it makes sense in that the rate is liked to affordability. Eight of the top ten areas have median home values that are below the national average, while several of the lowest have homes valued much higher than the national figure.

Here's more detail on the top ten highest and lowest homeownership rates by the metro area:
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As do I, +Rob Thomson . And the color combination.
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It's life, so there are no guarantees, but this is a great snapshot of why homeownership can be such a powerful investment.
Top Reasons Why Owning A Home Is Such A Great Investment!

People all over the country are making their dreams come true with homeownership, so why haven’t you? Homeownership is an outstanding investment that boasts many very desirable advantages and benefits. Here is a list of what we believe the top reasons for owning a home are.
1.)    Predictability: Unlike most other things in life a fixed rate mortgage is as predictable as you can get. With renting you never know how much rent will be next year or five years down the road but with a fixed rate mortgage your payments will be X amount for the life of the loan.

2.)    Tax Breaks: There are so many tax break benefits that are associated with homeownership. Each year you can deduct any interest you pay off and you can also deduct what you pay in property taxes each year. Making energy efficient upgrades to your home can be deducted too.

3.)    Equity: Paying your rent is just making your landlord more and more money but when you pay your mortgage you are building more and more equity. Equity can then be used to secure other loans and even finance home improvement projects furthering the value of your home even more.

4.)    Appreciation: Home values are again on the rise and are up almost 10% from 2011. This means a home bought for $100,000 in 2011 is worth $110,000 today and this is called appreciation. Real estate is a long-term investment but over the years you should enjoy a healthy return on investment.

5.)    Social: There is much more than just financial benefits involved with homeownership. People who own a home are generally overall happier and healthier than those who rent one. Not only will your self worth be increased but the way others view you will be improved too.

#seorealestate #realestatemarketing #marketingrealestate

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What To Do When Your Mortgage Gets Resold

Consumers can protect themselves and their homes when their mortgages are sold from one back to another servicer.

The deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in agreement that the mortgage industry has earned its reputation of treating customers less than ideally.

One such solution for consumers' problems is to address them via writing; sample letters are provided by the CFPB that encourage clearly expressing the desire outcome for whoever it is that picks up the file. Another suggestion is to always follow up conversations with an email or phone-recording app like Google Voice; these can be useful due to frequent change in persons that an individual may have to deal with during the process.

A key consideration in regard to how quickly foreclosure will be reached is whether or not the homeowner lives in a judicial or non-judicial state. 

Here's an article from +Quentin Fottrell that explains in further detail what to do when your mortgage gets resold:
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A Note to Home Sellers: Leaving Out VA Borrowers is Your Loss

It's always frustrating to hear from a veteran who can't pursue a home because the seller won't accept VA offers. 

To be sure, sellers are under no obligation to open the door for prospective VA borrowers. But it seems like myths and misconceptions about the VA loan program and VA homebuyers are often at the heart of this.

Here are a few things I try to explain to sellers when I have the chance:

VA Turn Times
These loans are typically closing in 30 to 45 days. Lenders in some cases can push through faster.

VA Appraisals
These are coming back in just under 10 days on average. VA borrowers may be able to pay for some repairs in order for a loan to close, so fixes aren't always on the seller. 

Borrower Qualifications
The VA’s no-down payment benefit has helped millions of veterans secure home financing since World War II. But that incredible opportunity doesn’t mean lenders just give away these loans. VA borrowers still need to meet credit, debt and income requirements. 

Closing Costs
The VA does limit what costs buyers can pay. But that doesn't mean sellers are required to cover any or all closing costs in every VA transaction.

Please don’t let institutional myths and misconceptions keep you from giving veterans, active service members and military families a fair shot at the dream of homeownership.

Read more:
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Happen all the time in are market
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8 Essential Tips to Help Veterans Land a VA Loan

The VA loan program is booming -- volume has soared 370 percent since 2007, and the VA backed a record 630,000 loans last year. Still, not everyone who is eligible for a VA-backed mortgage will get one.

Here are a few key tips to help veterans get the most from their hard-earned home loan benefits:

=You can start without a Certificate of Eligibility
=Know your credit report inside and out before applying
=Understand the acceptable uses of VA loans
=Loan preapproval is absolutely critical

Read more about all eight essential tips at:
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Director of Content Development
  • Veterans United Home Loans
    Director of Content Development, 2009 - present
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St. Louis, Mo. - Columbia, Mo. - Indianapolis, Ind. - Scranton, Pa.
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I'm a former journalist and director of content development for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation's largest dedicated VA lender. I write about mortgages, real estate and military home buying for a host of publications and serve as executive editor of Veterans United Network. I'm also the author of "The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits."

I'm a former journalist and director of content development for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation's largest dedicated VA lender. I write about mortgages, real estate and military homebuying for a host of publications and serve as executive editor of Veterans United Network. I'm also the author of "The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits."

Bragging rights
I wrote The Book on VA Loans. See more at
  • Missouri School of Journalism
  • Webster University
    Media Communications (MA)
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