House Hunting and Credit: What You Need to Know

By now it is something of a cliche to call homeownership the American dream. But even if sitting on your own deck, looking over your picket fence and sipping lemonade doesn’t move you, homeownership is still one of the best ways to build wealth.

For many, owning a home is cheaper than renting and, in the long run, the biggest investment they will ever make. It is also a practical financial move thanks to the fact that you’re likely building equity while getting a mortgage interest tax break.

So although it is perfectly fine to dream about backyard barbecues and the smell of fresh-cut grass, the path to owning your own home should also involve taking the time to do some financial sightseeing.

As a leader in creating credit scoring models, VantageScore Solutions has made it a priority to educate consumers on the important role a good credit history plays in buying a home.

Whether you’re about to set out to buy your first home or if you are getting ready to sell and buy another home, here are the basics of how credit impacts the home-buying process.


If you are like most people, you will probably need to take out a loan. If you are able to pay cash for your home instead, count yourself among the lucky few!

A huge part of taking out a loan involves your credit history and credit score. Basically, you must prove to lenders that you can be a responsible borrower and can be trusted with a mortgage of many thousands of dollars. A strong credit score may provide proof of this trustworthiness.

Different types of loans have different credit requirements. Some loans require you to have a credit score of at least 620, although it is possible (with some difficulty) to be approved for a loan with a credit score as low as 580. But getting loan approval is only part of the story.

Better credit, better rate

Home loans come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fixed interest mortgages, some have adjustable rates or longer terms and the list of variables goes on. Just like anything else, some loans are better for you than others. To get the loan that has the lowest interest rate, which right now is around 4 percent, usually requires a higher credit score. Rates can be considerably higher when you have a lower credit score, and the result is paying significantly more monthly over the life of the loan.

The reason is that a higher credit score demonstrates that you are skilled at managing debt and have a history of responsibly paying back many types of loans. Therefore, the lender is taking on less risk when lending you money. The less risk for them, the better the interest rate for you.

While there are, of course, more nuances to the process, your credit score plays an instrumental role in determining the type of loan you may qualify for. Therefore, before you go to your first open house, check your credit score to better understand the factors that typically impact your scores. Many websites provide free access to your VantageScore, which is a perfectly fine barometer to use to directionally gauge your creditworthiness. Mortgage lenders use FICO scores in their underwriting.

You can stay on top of things by subscribing to the monthly credit scoring newsletter, The Score. In The Score, you can find information on VantageScore 4.0, the fourth-generation scoring model that will be available to consumers in early 2018.

Knowing your credit history and understanding the factors that could impact your credit score will help you plan, budget and come up with a realistic wish list for your house.  (BPT)

Sea Oats Group Announces $1.3 Billion Expansion of Cinnamon Shore on Texas Gulf Coast

Phase II of Cinnamon Shore Will Quadruple the Vacation Community’s Size and Bring Distinctive New Home Designs, Amenities to Mustang Island

As originally published by Lynn Darden of The PR Boutique.

Cinnamon Shore Arial Image

Cinnamon Shore Arial Image

Sea Oats Group announced recently a $1.3 billion, 300-acre expansion of Cinnamon Shore, Mustang Island’s premier new urbanism vacation community, featuring distinctive new home designs and a wide array of appealing amenities.

“Cinnamon Shore North has been enormously successful, with over $200 million in sales, and is now 85 percent sold out,” said Jeff Lamkin, CEO of Sea Oats Group, developers of Cinnamon Shore. “The phase II expansion will take place over 15 to 20 years and will more than quadruple the size of the existing community.”

Over the past decade, Port Aransas-based Sea Oats Group has been one of the most successful developers of coastal properties in any market nationwide, including the Texas Gulf Coast, where the value of its beachfront portfolio is unequalled.

Nestled behind 300 feet of protective dunes and just minutes from Corpus Christi, Cinnamon Shore is the ultimate expression of coastal living. The vibrant, master-planned new urban development on Texas’ Coastal Bend combines elegant housing, work spaces, retail amenities, parks and recreational facilities in a highly livable, walkable seaside resort community. Nearby activities include links-style golfing, unique shopping, parasailing and charters, all effortlessly booked for residents and guests through Cinnamon Shores’ exclusive concierge services.

Cinnamon Shore Arial Image

Cinnamon Shore Arial Image

Sea Oats Group began developing the 63-acre Cinnamon Shore North, phase I of its incomparable Texas Gulf Coast vacation community, in 2007. Its $275 million buildout includes home sales on 200 lots, 75 of which are multi-family residences, with a median price point of $1 million. Single-family homes start at around $636,000 and beachfront homes are priced from about $2.5 million.

The more than 250-acre phase II expansion will encompass Cinnamon Shore South, an $800 million investment, and Cinnamon Shore Bay Shore, projected to be a $500 million buildout. Lamkin said Sea Oats Group envisions four primary pillars of distinction for phase II: (1) home craftsmanship and a lifestyle unrivaled on the Gulf Coast; (2) a dining district with dozens of restaurants to please any palate or mood; (3) enticing destination retail; and (4) a health and wellness center.

Phase II will include a 3,300-foot wide beachfront, maintained daily – almost three times the size of the beach at Cinnamon Shore North. Eventually, the development will lie on both sides of State Highway 361, about a mile south of Cinnamon Shore North, with a golf cart bridge enabling residents to easily access amenities on both sides of the highway. Plans include multiple swimming pools and lakes to provide refuge and enhance the landscape on both sides of the roadway. A key feature of phase II – an approximately 10-acre lake, one of the largest on the Texas Gulf Coast – will be encircled by a mile-long boardwalk. The development will also feature honeymoon cottages, a spa, town centers for retail within each phase and a boutique hotel opening in 2018. Site work is already underway, and Sea Oats Group expects to begin building homes on the property in mid- to late-2018.

“We are proud of the community we have created with phase I of Cinnamon Shore and gratified by how well it has been received,” said Lamkin. “We plan to build on what has been a very successful model with this major phase II expansion. Full details, including the master plan for phase II, will be released later this year.”

About Cinnamon Shore

Cinnamon Shore is a pedestrian-friendly planned community nestled behind the protective dunes on Mustang Island along the Texas Gulf Coast. It is the first new urbanism development for Sea Oats Group, which is fulfilling its vision of a traditional seaside village with a wide array of amenities and recreational facilities intertwined with beach cottages, luxury villas and vibrant town centers. Every detail of Cinnamon Shore is designed to embrace the natural ambience of Mustang Island and the slow-paced charm of a walking neighborhood. For more information, visit, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@CinnamonShore).

About Sea Oats Group

Port Aransas-based Sea Oats Group is one of the most successful developers of coastal properties in any market nationwide, including the Texas Gulf Coast, where the value of its beachfront portfolio is unequalled. The firm is dedicated to creating traditional neighborhood developments that provide residents with the highest possible quality of life, while preserving the integrity of the resort landscapes they occupy. By combining living spaces with retail areas in a walkable, connected plan, Sea Oats Group weaves together beautiful places to live, work and play. For more information, visit

Husband & Wife Duo Are Fixing Up Columbus, Ohio Communities One House at a Time

​​Upward Home Solutions, a husband and wife-owned real estate company within the greater Columbus, Ohio area, is providing a way for homeowners to get cash fast on a property they can’t afford to maintain any longer.

Born from a passion for rehabilitating older homes that are often neglected and ignored as they degrade and deteriorate the Upward Home Solutions team harnesses their unique talents to take the homes and make them lucrative again, thereby improving the local community and surrounding home values.

“It’s all-too-common a house is left vacant for one reason or another – or the homeowner just can’t afford the maintenance it requires,” said Tim Dye, Co-Founder and Owner of Upward Home Solutions. “We understand how much time and money goes into the proper upkeep of a home, which is why we’re passionate about offering a sustainable exit for homeowners who don’t want the responsibility anymore.”

Tim and Katie Dye have been involved in the Central Ohio Real Estate industry for over a decade.  The couple’s previous claim to fame was being featured on Lifetime’s One Born Every Minute, but what they are most famous for now in Columbus is their unique ability to see the value in distressed properties and improve them.

​The Dyes have made it as easy as possible for homeowners to sell their home fast in exchange for cash. On the Upward website, visitors need to simply fill out an online form that enables the Dyes to get in touch with the official homeowners. Once contact is made, a tour is scheduled so the duo can get a better glimpse at what will need sprucing up. Once it’s assessed, they make the homeowners an offer. If the offer is accepted, the Dyes do all the footwork with the title company to buy the property.

“We’ve made the sales process as streamlined and convenient as possible for the stressed-out homeowners we work with,” said Katie Dye. “The most rewarding part of the whole experience has to be contributing to our beloved Columbus, Ohio community by bringing new life and value into the old homes. The neighbors love it, and we’re honored to be part of something that special.”

Clients who typically call Upward Home Solutions include people looking to sell their homes regardless of its condition, people who have an inherited a home they don’t want, people who no longer want to serve as a landlord, and people who can’t manage to keep up with home and home maintenance payments.

For more information, visit:

Sackman Enterprises Hosts 70 Rainey Sales Gallery Opening Party

Luxury Condominium Developer Introduced Guests to Renowned Interior Designer Mark Zeff

Photography courtesy of Ben Porter Photography.

Guests gathered on February 22 to celebrate the grand opening of Sackman Enterprises 70 Rainey Sales Gallery located at 78 Rainey Street. CJ Sackman, Managing Director of Sackman Enterprises, welcomed attendees, provided a project update and introduced Mark Zeff, the renowned visionary behind the stunning interiors for 70 Rainey. Zeff, the internationally acclaimed interior designer for the development, educated party goers on his vision for the project – a mix of relaxed sophistication with the use of industrial elements creating an elegant take on a raw, edgy style.  The mastermind behind the design of Hotel Van Zandt reinforced his love of the Rainey Street District and excitement to work on another project of such esteemed caliber in the neighborhood.

Guests enjoyed a model kitchen and bathroom that showcase the exquisite finish samples available to residents. Large interactive televisions displayed 70 Rainey floor plans, project renderings and drone images of the sweeping views every residence will offer. Attendees mixed and mingled with the 70 Rainey sales team and Sackman executives while sipping on 70 Rainey Ritas and customized cocktails provided by Sourced Cocktails.  Kevin Fink and his team from Emmer & Rye wowed guests with passed hor d’eorves and a fire activation station featuring beef short rib carnitas. Guests walked away with 70 Rainey swag and images from the photo booth provided by Ben Porter Photography.

Renee Hanson Malone, Brittany Golden and Joanna Vega

Renee Hanson Malone, Brittany Golden and Joanna Vega.

The 70 Rainey sales gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm. The 34- story project is set to open the fourth quarter of 2018 and will include 164 meticulously designed residences, a ground floor restaurant and second floor patio bar—all overlooking the breathtaking, unobstructed views of downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake and the Texas Hill Country. Like other Sackman projects, 70 Rainey will feature world-class design, dramatic architecture, uncompromising luxury and meticulous attention to detail.

Pierre Cloutier, Mathew Layman and Donny Carlyon.

Pierre Cloutier, Mathew Layman and Donny Carlyon.

InFluentials in attendance were CJ Sackman, Mark Zeff, Will Steakley, Stuart Thomajan, Lisa Matulis-Thomajan, Amanda Polcari, Jennifer Ladner, Leah Pigg, Melissa Neslund, Ryan Baker, Bill McCannKevin Fink, Mike Piano, and many more. Images provided by Ben Porter Photography.

Founded by Alan Sackman 48 years ago, Sackman Enterprises initially focused on restoring historic brownstones in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Since then, the company has expanded its reach throughout Manhattan and beyond, to Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, Texas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Sackman prides itself on being a family-run business. Although it has experienced vast growth over the past five decades, the company still focuses on maintaining and restoring the cultural and historical integrity of its properties and surrounding communities. By placing an emphasis on supporting local businesses, people, history, and culture over five decades and three generations, Sackman Enterprises is known as much for its integrity as for its business acumen and success.

Jason Papp and Miles Marks.

Jason Papp and Miles Marks.

Based in New York City, MARKZEFF is an international, full-service design-consulting firm. Over the last 30 years, MARKZEFF has evolved from a residential design firm into one of the nation’s leading multi-disciplinary boutique design agencies. The strength and range of the firm’s residential projects laid the groundwork for its expansion into commercial design, master planning projects and branding. Every interior is highly customized, from furniture design to architectural details, to create a distinct environment that reflects the client’s vision. The designs seamlessly integrate brand development and interior design to deliver innovative hotels, specialty retail, restaurants and luxury residential real estate.

Vertical Living is Changing the Austin Residential Real Estate Landscape

Luxury Condominium Offers Guests a Taste of Rainey

Sackman Austin recently announced the Tuesday, August 2, groundbreaking ceremony and celebration for 70 Rainey, the luxury high-rise condominium Sackman is developing in the historic Rainey Street District of downtown Austin. The event will take place at 6pm at the development site with a celebration immediately following at Half Step, located across the street. Carter Sackman, president of Sackman Enterprises; and C.J. Sackman, director of development for 70 Rainey, along with other key community leaders will speak at the event.

“Today is the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and positive collaboration among Sackman Austin, City of Austin officials, Rainey Street District Neighborhood Association, Rainey Business Coalition, the Mexican American Cultural Center and many other stakeholders,” said C.J. Sackman, director of development for 70 Rainey. “We are excited and proud to see our shared vision for the future of this treasured downtown cultural district beginning to take shape.”

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place in an air-conditioned, floored tent, where speakers will deliver remarks from a podium designed to reflect the architecture and appeal of the soon-to-be-built 70 Rainey tower. Displays will include 70 Rainey floor plans, project renderings and drone images of the sweeping views every residence will offer. The sales team will be on hand to answer questions, provide pricing and take reservations. Immediately following the ceremony, a “Taste of Rainey” groundbreaking celebration will take place at Half Step featuring many of the tantalizing flavors that make Rainey Street unique.

70 Rainey - Exterior Rendering

70 Rainey – Exterior Rendering

Rising up from the heart of the Rainey Street Historic District, 70 Rainey will be a 34-story luxury condominium development featuring 164 exceptional residences, a restaurant and second floor patio bar—all overlooking the adjacent pocket park and breathtaking, unobstructed views of downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake and the Texas Hill Country. Like other Sackman projects, 70 Rainey will feature world-class design, dramatic architecture, uncompromising luxury, and meticulous attention to detail. It will include approximately 20,665 square feet of outdoor amenity space and will be located within walking distance of other downtown neighborhoods, such as the 2nd Street District, restaurants and bars, retail, parks and trails, and a host of other outdoor recreational options to explore.

One hundred feet above ground level with unobstructed views of downtown, 70 Rainey’s expansive outdoor amenity deck will feature a spacious garden, vanishing-edge pool and waterfall, experiential sundeck, yoga deck, fire pit, meandering walkways, and outdoor lounge with kitchen. The design includes ample greenery with trees planted along the restaurant’s outdoor patio and trellises lining the walls of the parking structure at the base of the building. It also incorporates real landscaping, giving owners and their guests a backyard in which to relax and recreate.

The residential tower is rotated 14 degrees from its base to optimize views of both Lady Bird Lake and the downtown Austin skyline. Each residence will feature elevated ceilings, a large terrace, and smart in-home technology, such as smart thermostats and a high-speed fiber network. Additionally, penthouses will include private rooftop terraces ideal for entertaining. Residents of 70 Rainey will have access to an array of outstanding amenities, such as a therapeutic plunge pool, sauna, steam showers, fitness facility, catering kitchen, outdoor kitchen, and business center. There will even be a dog park and washing/grooming station, in keeping with Austin’s pet-friendly culture. Completing the package is a private residential lobby and 24/7 concierge.


This natural beauty is steps from Lady Bird Lake, Congress Avenue, and the world-renowned Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, spanning more than 10 miles of waterfront, not to mention the eclectic destinations of Rainey Street. From a casual drink to an upscale dining experience, 70 Rainey will place residents and their guests squarely in the center of local Austin flavor. Looking ahead, the property will be conveniently located near the highly-anticipated Waller Creek greenbelt, a natural artery that will extend from Lady Bird Lake to Waterloo Park at 15th Street, connecting 1.5 miles of parks, trails, music, art and entertainment through the heart of Austin.

“Once a sleepy little residential neighborhood at the edge of downtown Austin, Rainey Street has become one of the city’s signature entertainment districts,” said Sackman. “Now, it is evolving to become more of an upscale residential and restaurant district, but with the same unique vibe. We are sharply focused on respecting Rainey’s history, and making what’s good about it even better.”

Sackman Austin is currently accepting reservations for the 164 residences at 70 Rainey. The developer expects to complete the project during the first quarter of 2018. For more information on 70 Rainey, visit

Is This a Bit Too Cozy?

By Lauri McNevin of Keller Williams

Lauri McNevin

Lauri McNevin

Many of us dream of an island home. Who wouldn’t want a secluded getaway all your own? That’s what one family wanted in the 1950s when they built their bungalow retreat on “Just Room Enough Island.”

It isn’t an island in some exotic, tropical area. Nope, their island is in the Thousand Islands chain near Lake Ontario, and it’s large enough for their home, some trees (that the family planted to officially make the land an island), and a couple of lawn chairs. There’s no room for anything else.

To see this one-home-only island and read more about it, click here.

What kind of getaway are you looking for?


Lauri McNevin – Keller Williams
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p | 512.439.7765
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1921 Lohman’s Crossing Ste 100 Austin, TX 78734


10 Summer Home Maintenance Tips

By Brett Furman

Russian dramaturge Anton Chekhov once said, “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” Brett Furman, Broker/Owner of REMAX Classic in St. Davids, Pennsylvania (, fully agrees with Mr. Chekhov. Furman offers the following 10 maintenance tips to help keep your home in tip-top shape…and make you happy!

1. Clean and seal decks.
2. Hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean chimneys.
3. Wash the exterior of your home using a garden hose and a mild detergent.
4. Check all exterior walls for peeling or cracked paint.
5. Inspect brick or masonry siding for cracks or missing mortar.
6. Inspect roofing for loose shingles and cracks.
7. Check out the operation of your automatic light timers and motion detector systems.
8. Prune trees and shrubs to keep branches from exterior siding.
9. Clean and repair cracks in concrete driveways using epoxy patching material.
10. Inspects foundation walls for signs of termites.

“These 10 home maintenance tips are certainly a start to getting your house spic and span for late summer…and beyond,” says Furman.

For more information on keeping your home well-maintained and other useful tips for selling your home, visit or


Brett Furman

About Brett Furman
Brett Furman has been a Broker/Owner with RE/MAX Classic in St. Davids, PA for the past 27 years. He holds an ASR, ABR and GRI designation in Real Estate. Furman was recently named to the RE/MAX Chairman’s Club (top 1% of 89,000 agents), and ranked #3 among agents in PA and DE (among 2,832 agents). He is also the author of “What You Really Need to Know About Selling Your Home,” the must-read home seller guide that is the culmination of Furman’s 26 year-long career selling homes.