In a climate where Santa is not ensconced on heaps of white snow, but showered in the rays of irreverent Southern California sun, it’s no wonder people flock to Orange County in droves. The year-round vacation weather and vibrant culture (which is not solely a beach culture) it’s anyone’s dream to buy a house in Orange County and enjoy the vacation weather for life. After the housing market crash, this Orange County dream might have been tarnished, but that doesn’t mean living the dream is impossible.
As it Stands
In January 2013, there were 2,431 home purchases, which is 30% higher than the number of home purchases in January 2012. This little ray of hope may seem like just a number right now, but consider the bigger picture. Usually, January marks the real estate resting period. Sales are usually down due to the holiday shopping and the end of the tax year. This fairly impressive increase signifies the Orange County housing market, and dream, is slowly being revived.
If you’re still not giving in to our optimism, consider this: The January 2013 sales were just 4% shy of the average number of January sales recorded in the past 25 years. If you ask us, things are looking up for Orange County homebuyers; but before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about how to groom your credit to become one of those Orange County homebuyers.
The Orange County Register published a story on February 15th, 2013 about a woman who lost her home during the housing market crash. Andreea Stucker bought a swanky condo with her then-serious-boyfriend, and the two put an additional $40,000 into polishing their Huntington Beach condo. But then two things happened: the boyfriend left, and the housing marketing busted, leaving Stucker with one big mess. Stucker lost the house after attempts to keep up with the mortgage payments, and lost much of her savings in the process; to say the least, her credit score was fried.
But this story has a happy ending. 3 ½ years later, Stucker is married and once again a homeowner. This news may cause your eyes to widen, but its true. Stucker was able to boomerang and become a homeowner after 3 ½ years because of the smart things she did for her credit during her financial crisis. This story of hope is not a fluke; it’s estimated that 33,000 Orange County households could boomerang too.
Lessons in Boomeranging
Becoming a human boomerang may seem difficult, but if you’re committed to the goal of owning a home again it will be easy to commit to reaching your goal.
- Balance expectations with reality. We have been talking about living the Orange County dream, and we fully support reaching your dreams/goals. But you have to dream smartly. When it comes to finances, always choose the route to live within your means. Essentially, don’t look at houses that are on the high end of your price point; look at houses you can afford to keep through thick and thin.
- Pay your dues. The best way to improve your credit score is to chip away at your debt. Pay your bills on time, and make payments on past-due account regularly until you’re in the green again. This is the most grueling part of improving credit because it takes the most time, and the results are slow coming. But buckle down and you’ll boomerang too.
- Save. Saving money is always good advice, but if you want to buy a home again, you will have to have a good chunk for a down payment. With all your other bills, debts, and responsibilities, this might take some fancy footwork. An Orange County Register interview with a credit counselor rendered these suggestions: Move in with family or friends to save on rent, take a night job or weekend job, or sell goods in storage to eliminate monthly rent and make money.
- Take advantage of free credit counseling courses. The Consumer Credit Counseling Services gives free 2 ½ hour classes on how to improve credit, pay debts, and buy a home. The next course is on March 15th, 2013 at the Rancho Senior Center in Irvine. Visit the site for more information: www.cccsoc.org.
Have any questions or tips on how to save and improve your credit? Leave a comment below. Happy boomeranging!