Category Archives: Local

What Does My Credit Score Even Mean?

What does my credit score even mean?

As we all know, credit can either help us turn our dreams into a reality or it can be the one road block that keeps getting in the way. What does my credit score even mean?

What is credit?

The credit scoring system was originally designed in the 1950’s to help lenders determine how well consumers could pay back borrowed money. While there have been many updates to how this system is used, the components of a credit score consist of these major factors:

  • Payment History – 35% Impact
  • Outstanding Credit Card Balances – 30% Impact
  • Credit History – 15% Impact
  • Inquiries or New Credit – 10% Impact
  • Types of Credit – 10% Impact


What can impact my credit score?

Paying off debts on time has the greatest positive impact on your credit score. Late payments, judgments and charge-offs all have a negative impact. Keeping lower balances on the open credit accounts you have is a sure way to keep that score going up! The longer you have positive credit history, the better. However, multiple credit inquiries in a short period of time, such as applying for multiple credit cards, can have a negative influence on your score. The type of credit you have is also a factor. Having a mix of credit, such as an auto loan and a credit card, is more positive than a combination of debt from multiple credit cards.

What if I don’t have any or enough credit?

There are simple ways to begin building credit history. Start establishing credit history by opening  a small line of credit with your bank or credit union and begin making minor purchases that can be easily paid off. Your bank may offer a secured credit card if this is your first time applying for credit. This type of card works like a debit card and will require deposited funds for purchases; just be sure your history will be reported to all three credit bureaus.

What if I have less than perfect credit when applying to purchase a home?

Knowing what is on your credit report is the first step. Obtaining a credit report will show which areas are helping your score and which areas need to be worked on. When applying for a mortgage, your loan officer will be able to see if there are any areas that need work to help you get on the right track for a future purchase.

Want to find out where you stand? Let’s get the conversation started.


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Housing Update, July 15th, 2013

Higher gasoline prices and a surge in sales of automobiles led Retail Sales higher in June, but the gains were offset by a decline in home improvement stores, bars and restaurants and department stores. Retail Sales rose by 0.4%, lower than the 0.7% expected and down from the 0.5% gain in May. Retail Sales account for 30% of consumer spending. When stripping out autos, sales were unchanged last month.

Manufacturing activity in the New York State region rose in early July as the index rose to 9.46 from 7.8 in June and above the 3.6 expected. However, within the report it showed that the employment component indicated little positive momentum.

In corporate earnings news, Citigroup reported that earnings jumped 42% in the second quarter as the banking giant cut costs and expanded its international presence. The bank earned $1.34 a share, exceeding the $1.19 that was expected and up from the $1 a share in the same quarter last year.

On the lighter side, Twinkies have made their long awaited return today to store shelves after being off the market for about a year. The maker of the long time treat, Hostess, went bankrupt last year due to problems with management and a stand-off with its second biggest union. Twinkies have made their new debut to Wal-Mart to 3,000 of the retail giant’s stores on Sunday.

4th of July Action, Happy 4th to All!

If you are in the Cape Fear/Wilmington, N.C. or Southport area for the Fourth of July festivities, there is plenty for you to choose from.  Here are a few events you can enjoy during the holiday.

Wednesday, July 3rd

Pleasure Island Fireworks,

Where: Pleasure Island (Carolina Beach, Kure Beach)

When: Their biggest extravaganza of the Summer begins at 9 pm

Additional Info: Live Music at the Gazebo with Dutch Treet starting at 6:30 to 9:30pm

You can find more information by visiting

Wilmington Sharks

Baseball Post Game Fireworks

Where: Legion Stadium (2149 Carolina Beach Rd)

Game time: First pitch vs. Edenton is at 7:05 p.m.

Additional Info: The Sharks will be serving $1 beers in their Beer Garden and $1 domestics throughout the park. The 4th of July is also Moe’s Night, and their first 100 fans will receive a free Moe’s Southwest Grill drink koozie.

Have a question for The Sharks? Call their office at 910-343-5621 or visit


 Thursday, July 4th

 4th of July Riverfront Celebration

Where: Downtown Wilmington along Water St.

Food and Entertainment begins at 5:00 pm and will last until 9:00 pm

Fireworks begins at 9:05 pm

Music provided by Heart & Soul in Riverfront Park

Live television coverage of the fireworks begins at 9:00 pm on WECT

Click here for printable map with parking and exit information

Wilmington Children’s Museum

Fourth of July Celebration – 5 pm – 8 pm

Where: 116 Orange Street, Wilmington

Time: 5-8pm

What is happening: Order dinner or pack a picnic and enjoy fun activities!

Air Rocket Challenge, Sharpie Fireworks, Sound Sandwich noisemakers

6pm, 7pm: Soda Explosions

They would like to show their appreciation to our military for all they do so all day they are offering 1/2 off admission for immediate family of military personnel who show their ID.

More info:

North Carolina Fourth of July Festival

Where: Southport, N.C.

When: June 30th – July 4th

Fireworks on the 4th – 9pm

What is happening: Over 100 handmade arts and crafts on display,

Main Stage Entertainment – best beach, top 40’s and country bands each evening, Patriotic parade representing main street USA and televised on WECT TV6 ,

A Naturalization Ceremony,

Veterans Recognition – ceremony honoring the sacrifices of our armed service personnel who have served and paid for our freedom,

Beach Day – highlighting the activities popular at Southport’s neighboring beach community Oak Island – volleyball and shag contests included.

Children’s Entertainment & Games – Old fashioned games including sack races and watermelon eating contests.

For more information visit


4th of July Golf Cart Parade, Picnic, and Pool Party

Where: Bald Head Island

When: 11 am

Bald Head Island Fireworks Cruise – 8 pm

For more info visit


When you apply for a mortgage or refinancing, you will have to go through the process of getting your house, or the house you are wanting to purchase appraised.  An appraiser will visit the property and will evaluate the land, dwellings and all the included features.  This is called Field Work and their goal is to establish a market value.  This process generally can be done within a couple of days, but depending on the complexity of the order it can extend into weeks.

An appraiser will go onto a property and will evaluate the interior and exterior condition.  They will look at the quality of the construction and how many upgrades or modernizations there have been.  Then they will estimate the square footage by taking measurements of the exterior of the home and assess non-living areas such as covered porches, permanent sheds and garages.

Once the appraiser has all the information they need about the subject property, they will spend time looking at properties close by to further establish the market value of the home.  This includes looking at recent sales as well as foreclosures, assessing tax records, courthouse records and their own personal knowledge of the area.  This is one of the reasons Alpha Mortgage only uses local appraisers because we want our clients to have the most accurate and dependable source possible.  Once the field work is completed the appraiser will finish the report and then submit it to the loan officer.


Once our loan officer has the report they will set up an appointment with you to review the results in detail.  You are always welcome to have a copy of the report as well for your own records.  Once we have the information we can move forward with the mortgage process and get you one step closer to refinancing or owning a new home.  At Alpha Mortgage it is our goal to make the home buying process as simple and easy as possible and we want you educate you each step of the way.  Do not ever hesitate to give us a call when you have a question.  We’re here for you.


When you are ready to purchase a new home or you want to take advantage of the historically low rates and refinance, one of our loan officers is ready to work with you.  We have offices  in Wilmington 910-256-8999, Winston-Salem 336-760-3013, Fayetteville 910-484-7272, Asheville 828-552-0330, Jacksonville 910-347-7283, New Bern 252-634-3000, & Jacksonville 910-347-7283.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Moorings Column 09-17-12

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Moorings, your source where local and national mortgage and real estate news meet. As always, let’s first take a look at interest rates which have again remained unchanged from last week. A client looking to purchase or refinance a home with a conventional thirty year fixed rate mortgage can expect an interest rate of approximately 3.625%. If you are in the market for an FHA mortgage, that rate goes down to 3.375%, which is of course a great deal for someone who needs to put a little less money down on their home.


In major economic news, the Fed announced last Thursday another round of Quantitative Easing to help stimulate the economy. I often get asked what this is exactly, and the short answer is that it’s an unconventional monetary tool used by central banks to stimulate the economy. Normally when the economy is having difficulty, the Federal Reserve will simply reduce short-term interest rates in order to spur more lending and spending. However, right now the Fed has cut interest rates as low as they can go and the economy continues having difficulties. So their second option is to try quantitative easing. Since the Federal Reserve can essentially create money, it can buy assets such as long-term treasuries or mortgage-backed securities from commercial banks. This helps to inject funds into the United States economy and reduces long-term interest rates further. When long-term rates go down, investors are more likely to spend their own money.


So what did the Fed actually say and what are they going to do? Well they have announced that short-term interest rates will remain low until mid-2015. Secondly, the Fed will buy up to $40 billion worth of assets each month between now and the end of the year, but unlike the first two rounds of QE, this new round of purchases will be more open-ended. Essentially they are stating that they will keep buying assets as long as it is needed to shore up the US economy.


In local real estate news, I thought it would be worth mentioning that year-to-date there have been 2,417 properties sold in New Hanover County. During the same time period last year, there were only 1,920 properties sold.  This means that our county has seen a significant increase in closed sales this year. While I couldn’t say for sure, I would imagine that continued low interest rates and stabilized home prices have certainly helped this recovery along. Considering the amount of our local citizens who make their living based on the housing economy, this is good news indeed. Well that’s all for this week and until next week, Be Blessed and Numbers 6:24-26 be on you.


Top 10 Do’s & Don’ts During The Loan Process

  • DON’T APPLY FOR NEW CREDIT OF ANY KIND – If you receive invitations to apply for new lines of credit, don’t respond. If you do, that company will pull your credit report and this will have an adverse effect on your credit score. Likewise, don’t establish new lines of credit for furniture, appliances, computers, etc.
  • DON’T PAY OFF COLLECTIONS OR CHARGE-OFFS – Once your loan application has been submitted, don’t pay off collections unless the lender specifically asks you to in order to secure the loan and we recommend that you do everything possible to negotiate deletion in exchange for payment. Generally, paying off old collections causes a drop in the credit score. The lender is only looking at the last two years of activity.
  • DON’T CLOSE CREDIT CARD ACCOUNTS – If you close a credit card account, it can affect your ratio of debt to available credit which has a 30% impact on your credit score, and also your length of credit history which has a 15% impact on your credit score. If you really want to close an account, do it after you close your mortgage loan.
  • DON’T MAX OUT OR OVER CHARGE EXISTING CREDIT CARDS – Running up your credit cards is the fastest way to bring your score down, and it could drop up to 100 points overnight. Once you are engaged in the loan process, try to keep your credit card balances below 30% of the available credit limit.
  • DON’T CONSOLIDATE DEBT TO ONE OR TWO CARDS – Once again, we don’t want you to change your ratio of debt to available credit. Likewise, you want to keep beneficial credit history on the books.
  • DON’T RAISE RED FLAGS TO THE UNDERWRITER – Don’t co-sign on another person’s loan, or change your name and address. The less activity that occurs while your loan is in process, the better it is for you.
  • DO JOIN A CREDIT WATCH PROGRAM – Your bank, credit union or credit card company may be able to provide you with a free credit watch program that can alert you to any changes in your credit report. This can be a safeguard to help you intervene before the underwriter sees a problem.
  • DO STAY CURRENT ON EXISTING ACCOUNTS – Late payments on your existing mortgage, car payment, or anything else that can be reported to a CRA can cost you dearly. One 30-day late payment can cost anywhere from 50 to 80+ points on your credit score.
  • DO CONTINUE TO USE YOUR CREDIT AS YOU NORMALLY WOULD – Red flags are easily raised within the scoring system. If it appears you are diverting from your normal spending patterns, it could cause your score to go down. For example, if you’ve had a monthly service for Internet access billed to the same credit card for the past three years, there’s really no reason to drop it now. Again, make your changes after the loan funds.
  • DO CALL YOUR LOAN CONSULTANT – If you receive notification from a collection agency or creditor that could potentially have an adverse effect on your credit score, call us so we can try to direct you to the right resources and prevent any derogatory reporting to credit bureaus.

April 9th Moorings Column

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Moorings, your source where local and national mortgage and real estate news meet. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter holiday and enjoyed some quality time with friends and family. To start off with this week, let’s take a look at interest rates which have again risen slightly back to 4.25% for a thirty year fixed rate loan. This is still a great deal though with home prices at all-time lows right along with the rates. To put this in perspective, a two hundred thousand dollar loan at 4% interest for thirty years would have a principal and interest payment of $954. Change that to 4.25% interest rate and the payment only goes up by $29, which is hardly worth sitting on the fence for. If you are looking at purchasing a home and have found the one you want then lock in now. Waiting around for rates to lower by an eighth of a percent is just not worth it. Remember only one of two things can happen…the rate will go down and you save a few dollars, or it may go up and cost you even more.  When rates are already at some of the lowest they have EVER been…I think the latter is the more likely of the two situations.


In major economic news, last week’s Jobs Report for March showed that 120,0 00 jobs were created, with 121,000 private gains offsetting modest government jobs losses. This was an utter disappointment, as expectations were for something north of 200,000 job creations. The unemployment rate declined to 8.2%. While any decline in unemployment is good news, the figure does need to be taken with a grain of salt – especially in light of the significant headline jobs creation miss. The reason why: the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR), which removes some of the guesstimating and adjustments of the unemployment rate. That number (currently at a 30-year low) is a concern because if the LFPR continues to decline, it means we are seeing a smaller ratio of people working against the overall population. This will be another headwind to our already debt-laden government.


While the Jobs Report was disappointing news for our economic recovery, Bonds (which thrive on weak economic news) improved on the news, including Mortgage Bonds, to which home loan rates are tied. And of course, the ugly headline jobs creation reading also renewed the talk of another round of Bond buying (Quantitative Easing or QE3)even though the minutes from the March 13th Fed Meeting suggested there would be no QE3 unless the economy falters. Well that’s all for this week and until next week be Blessed and Numbers 6:24-26 be on you.