NAHB: Lumber tariffs will increase cost of new homes

WASHINGTON – June 27, 2017 – Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), took issue with a second lumber tariff proposed by the U.S. Commerce Department, saying it’s “basically another tax on American home builders and home buyers that will jeopardize affordable housing in America.”
According to MacDonald, Commerce’s preliminary decision would impose up to 7.7 percent anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber imports in addition to tariffs announced earlier.
“Adding this new tariff to the proposed 20 percent countervailing lumber duty that the Trump administration slapped on imports of lumber this spring means that total tariffs would be a whopping 27 percent,” MacDonald says. “Given that lumber is a major component in new home construction, the combined duties will harm housing affordability and price countless American households out of the housing market.”
U.S. homebuilders rely on Canada for about one-third of their lumber needs, in part because the U.S. has a limited domestic timber supply available for harvesting, which MacDonald also took issue with.
“Policymakers need to take steps to significantly reduce red tape that prevents the U.S. Forest Service from better managing its timber lands and increase the delivery of domestic timber products into the market,” he says.
“A robust housing market is essential to stimulate job and economic growth,” he adds. “With the U.S. housing sector regaining its footing, imposing arbitrary protectionist restrictions to subsidize domestic lumber producers will blunt this forward momentum and make homeownership more expensive for hard-working families. Clearly, this is not the way to resolve the U.S.-Canada lumber trade dispute or to boost the American economy.”

Affordable housing: Americans want help getting in

WASHINGTON – June 22, 2017 – Most Americans and Canadians say their nations aren’t doing enough to address and solve affordable housing needs, according to Habitat for Humanity’s Affordable Housing Survey. Escalating costs remain a top barrier preventing families from accessing decent homes with affordable mortgages, the survey says.
“In many ways, housing is an invisible crisis,” says Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “There are still too many families without access to safe, secure and affordable housing. This survey highlights the value all of us place on a decent place to call home and underscores the critical need to increase access to affordable housing.”
Owning a home is a key rung on the ladder of economic advancement. What happens if that rung remains elusive for many?
According to the survey, nine out of 10 Americans say owning a home is one of their greatest achievements in life. Also, 68 percent of U.S. renters say owning a home is one of their chief goals, according to the survey. PSB, on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, surveyed 1,000 people in the U.S. and Canada to gauge their perceptions of, and challenges to, affordable housing.
Ninety-one percent of American homeowners credited owning a home with making them more responsible, and 44 percent said it helped them build a nest egg. Forty-one percent say homeownership has given them stability.
But homeownership remains out of reach for many. Nine out of 10 Americans and Canadians say it’s important to find solutions to the lack of affordable housing. At 59 percent, concerns regarding U.S. affordability in particular easily topped other housing issues like safety (16%) and quality (11%).
One major barrier to homeownership cited among survey respondents: the high cost of rent. Eighty-four percent of survey respondents said the high cost of rent was preventing them from buying, followed by 75 percent who said obtaining a mortgage was proving to be a big barrier.
Many of the survey respondents said they’ve struggled to pay housing costs at some point in their life. Among U.S. respondents, 27 percent of respondents said they struggled to pay housing costs in their 20s; 22 percent in their 30s; 11 percent in their 40s; and 9 percent in their 50s.
Source: “Nine Out of 10 Americans and Canadians Call for Affordable Housing Solutions,” Habitat for Humanity (June 20, 2017)

Flood insurance: facts, fiction

ERIE, Pa. – June 20, 2017 – If a flood swamps your home, will insurance cover the damage?
That depends on the value of your home, the amount of water damage and whether you have a flood insurance policy.
Just a couple days after a heavy storm soaked the Erie area, let’s look at some persistent myths about flood insurance.
Myth: You must live in a flood plain to get coverage.
If you live in a flood plain, your mortgage company will likely require you to buy flood insurance. But you can purchase it even if you don’t live within a flood zone.
“Almost anybody can get flood insurance who wants flood insurance,” says Chris Hackett, director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
The price through the federal flood insurance program is based on standardized rates and depends on the home’s value and whether or not it’s in a flood plain, says Don Griffin, vice president of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
Myth: Flood insurance covers everything. When it comes to the physical structure of your house, federal flood insurance policies top out at $250,000. If you have a $300,000 house that’s a total loss because of a flood, the most you can recoup through the program is $250,000 to cover the structure itself.
For your personal possessions, the cap is $100,000 under the federal program.
Myth: My homeowners policy covers floods. “Unfortunately, a lot of folks may be under the impression that their standard homeowners policy might cover flood damage,” Hackett says. But the standard policy doesn’t.”
The typical home insurance policy doesn’t cover earthquakes or floods. So a homeowner wanting coverage for either of those disasters will need to pick up separate, specific coverage against those types of disasters.
Myth: Water damage is water damage. When it comes to your insurance, not all water damage is the same.
If there’s a storm and your “roof comes off and water comes through, that would be covered under your homeowners policy,” Hackett says. “Versus a flood situation where the riverbank overflows and you look out of the front of your house and you need a boat to get from point A to point B.”
Most consumers “have a pretty good understanding” of how to draw the line between storm damage and flood damage, he says.
Myth: Flood maps don’t change. Flood plains (and flood plain maps) change and evolve. Just because you weren’t in a flood plain when you bought your home a few years ago doesn’t mean you’re not in one now.
For more information, visit
Copyright © 2017, Erie Times-News, Dana Dratch. All rights reserved.

Mortgage rates move higher

WASHINGTON (AP) – June 15, 2017 – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged up this week as the benchmark 30-year rate bounced back from a seven-month low.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.91 this week from 3.89 percent last week. The rate stood at 3.54 percent a year ago and averaged a record low 3.65 percent in 2016.
The rate on the 15-year mortgage rose to 3.18 percent from 3.16 percent.
Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti said this week’s higher rates might not last. Freddie Mac surveyed mortgage lenders before the government reported Wednesday that U.S. consumer prices fell in May, causing a drop in the yield on 10-year Treasury notes, which often influences mortgage rates.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fees on 30-year and on 15-year mortgages were both unchanged at 0.5 point.
Rates adjustable five-year loans rose to 3.15 percent from 3.11 percent last week. The fee was unchanged at 0.5 point.
AP Logo Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press, Paul Wiseman. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

What to consider before buying a vacation home

NEW YORK – June 16, 2017 – After slumping in the years after the financial crisis, prices of vacation properties are back where they were in 2006, a National Association of Realtors survey found.
The median sales price of a vacation home rose by 4.2 percent in 2016 to $200,000, following a 28 percent gain.
Whether people are looking for a spot to enjoy themselves, rent to others or resell for a profit, there are many mistakes that could bring them big headaches or cost them a lot of money.
Experts and homeowners warn new vacation buyers, for instance, that they may end up putting in a lot more work than they expect to keep renters happy. They can easily run afoul of rules laid down by local governments or homeowners’ association, or find themselves facing unexpected costs.
Successful vacation homebuyers have to put in a lot of effort to make it work – starting with careful thinking and planning before they take the plunge. The Realtors association surveys find that the primary motivation for most vacation-home purchases is vacationing, and rental income is so unpredictable it should be viewed as gravy; buyers certainly shouldn’t rely on it to cover their mortgage and other expenses.
In addition, the market is too unpredictable to expect to profit on a sale. The approach with the fewest risks, many experts say, is for buyers to pick a place they will enjoy and focus on that as their top priority.
Source: Wall Street Journal (06/12/17) Brown, Jeff

The zero-down loan? It’s making a comeback

NEW YORK – June 16, 2017 – Buyers may soon be able to bring less to closing. They were blamed for precipitating the housing crisis years ago, but major lenders are giving no- and low-downpayment loans another shot.
Several major lenders are reportedly offering loans with just 1 percent down. Navy Federal, the nation’s largest credit union, offers its members zero-down mortgages in amounts up to $1 million. NASA Federal Credit Union markets zero-down mortgages as well.
Quicken Loans, the third highest volume lender, offers 1 percent downpayment options, as does United Wholesale Mortgage. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered zero-down loans to eligible borrowers for many years.
Also, Movement Mortgage, a large national lender, has introduced a financing option that provides eligible first-time buyers with a non-repayable grant of up to 3 percent. As such, applicants can qualify for a 97 percent loan-to-value ratio conventional mortgage, which is basically zero from the buyers and 3 percent from Movement. For example, on a $300,000 home purchase, a borrower could invest zero personal funds with Movement providing $9,000 down. The loan also allows sellers to contribute toward the buyer’s closing costs.
So far, the delinquency rates on these low- to zero-down payment loans have been minimal, according to lenders. Quicken Loans says its 1 percent down loans have a delinquency rate of less than one-quarter of 1 percent. United Wholesale Mortgages told The Washington Post that it has had zero delinquencies from the borrowers on its 1-percent down loan since debuting it last summer.
For Movement’s new loan product, the lender will originate the loans and then sell them to Fannie Mae, which remains under federal conservatorship. Fannie officials released the following a statement:
“(We’re) committed to working with our customers to increase affordable, sustainable lending to creditworthy borrowers. We continue to work with a number of lenders to launch (test programs) that require 97 percent loan-to-value ratios for all loans we acquire.” They add that there “is no commitment beyond the pilots,” which are “focused on reaching more low- to-moderate income borrowers through responsible yet creative solutions.”
During the housing crisis, zero-down loans were among the biggest losses for lenders, investors and borrowers. However, housing experts say the latest versions are different from years ago. Applicants must now demonstrate an ability to repay what’s owed. They also must have stellar credit histories and scores, and lenders require a lot more documentation to prove borrowers are in good standing.
Also, many of the programs are charging higher interest rates. For example, Movement’s rate for its zero-down payment option in mid-June was 4.5 percent to 4.625 percent, compared with 4 percent for its standard fixed-rate mortgages.
Some critics say that the borrowers who really could benefit from such options aren’t able to qualify for them. Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Corp. in Waldorf, Md., told The Washington Post that “it seems like people without excellent credit scores and three months of [bank] reserves don’t qualify.”
Source: “No Down Payment? No Problem, Say Lenders Eager to Finance Home Purchases,” The Washington Post (June 14, 2017)
© Copyright 2017 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

First Southwest Fla. community says yes to tiny homes.

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – June 9, 2017 – Here’s how one Southwest Florida community is trying to provide more affordable homes.
By becoming the first city in Charlotte, Lee, Sarasota and Collier counties to dip its toe in the trendy waters of tiny houses.
Cape Coral — queen of the three-bedroom, two-bath concrete block home on highly regulated platted lots — decided those creations seen on Tiny Homes Nation should be part of its real estate inventory.
However, not all residents are ready to put out the welcome mat. Like Delores Bertolini, a Cape homeowner for 30 years, who has expressed general angst about tiny homes.
“I know we want to downsize and make things affordable to everyone,” Bertolini said, but “how many people will you affect in doing this? I have so many questions.”
The path: Cape planners, who are already updating the Lee County city’s land codes, will add a special zoning area for tinies. They’ll be on foundations. And they’ll probably start at 610 square feet, about the size you end up with after you conform to all of Florida’s building codes.
What is a tiny home?
Despite an appetite for tiny homes sweeping the nation, the market for them isn’t clearly defined.
There’s the shelter-sized tiny designed for people whose incomes require rents of little more than $300 a month.
There are the tinies on wheels — like a homier, cuter RV — and larger homes as big as 800 square feet on foundations.
“I was thinking of smaller houses on foundations in the 600- to 800-square-foot range, not on wheels,” said Councilwoman Rana Erbrick, who asked her colleagues last month to consider the homes and got the support. “Something for people just starting out, or a widow who no longer needs the extra bedrooms.”
Because Cape Coral’s minimum house size is 1,200 square feet, a tiny home could simply be one that’s smaller than that.
While there have been talks swirling in several cities about the trend and officials have said it is possible in Charlotte and Sarasota counties, it will not be simple.
For example, the Venice Planning Commission last discussed tiny homes in November, but has not made much progress since then.
In Punta Gorda, for a tiny home community to be considered part of the city, a resident would have to go through a whole process of Punta Gorda annexing the land if it’s in the county, as well as create a comprehensive plan and rezone to become a community, city officials said.
North Port’s Kevin Rouse created a Facebook page called “North Port Tiny Home Progressive Inc.” roughly a year ago, and it has more than 300 members. But North Port city leaders dropped the concept after reviewing it a couple of years ago.
“Overall, it wasn’t a good fit with platted lots,” North Port City Planner Michele Norton told the Sun recently. If a cluster of homes did ever get considered, it “would be staff’s inclination, to have it be part of a community, not sporadically placed (next to traditional homes).”
Biggest worry: ‘There goes the neighborhood’
Cape homeowners, like Bertolini, who’ve bought into larger, same-sized neighborhoods fear what smaller housing types could do to their property values.
“To allow them to sit on any lot and drop them into a neighborhood of 1,600-square-foot homes, it would make an impact,” Councilman John Carioscia said.
For that reason, cities that are adopting tiny homes usually put them in “pockets.”
Cape Housing Coordinator Amy Yearsley cited the example of the Micro-Cottages at Williamstown, a duplex community in Lakeland, where 500-square-foot one- and two-bedroom homes are going up for ages 55 and up. The community has a shared green and other amenities.
In fact, cost isn’t the biggest reason to allow tiny homes into the housing mix, the planner believes.
“Tiny houses are not a solution for the affordable housing needs we have in Cape Coral,” Yearsley said. “It would be a way to increase the variety of housing types we have.”
‘When can I build?’
Justin Murphy who grew up in Cape Coral and graduated from Mariner High in 2009, has been waiting for this moment to start his own tiny home business.
“Obviously the Cape can be pretty strict about things. Right off the bat we knew property values would be one of the concerns,” said Murphy, who’s going into the business with wife Nicole.
Murphy said he’s still working out his business model, but expects to target tinies in the 300- to 600-square foot range, built on foundations in a minimum 3-acre community. He’d prefer 10 acres.
“We’re thinking of a nice, quality product,” he said. “Even with granite counters, the entry will be so much lower than a standard house.”
His own dream home? “A tiny mansion” for the couple and their two daughters of about 650 to 700 square feet.
Next steps
Planning staff will work on code recommendations to bring before the council.
“I’m really on board with this. As long as we put them in communities,” Councilman Richard Leon said.
Murphy and others who advocate for tinies were surprised and pleased by the council’s decision.
“It went better than I was expecting,” Murphy said. “Everybody was open-minded.”
Copyright © 2017, Charlotte Sun. All rights reserved.

25 tips for first-time home buyers

GROVE, Okla.– June 9, 2017 – Buying a home can be a nerve-racking experience, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. Not only is it probably the biggest purchase of your life, but the process is complicated and fraught with unfamiliar lingo and surprise expenses.
To make the first-time home buying journey a little less stressful, NerdWallet has compiled these 25 tips to help you navigate the process more smoothly and save money.
1. Start saving for a downpayment early
It’s common to put 20% down, but many lenders now permit much less, and first-time home buyer programs allow as little as 3% down. But putting down less than 20% may mean higher costs and paying for private mortgage insurance, and even a small downpayment can still be hefty. For example, a 5% downpayment on a $200,000 home is $10,000. Play around with a downpayment calculator to help you land on a goal amount. Some tips for saving for a downpayment include setting aside tax refunds and work bonuses, setting up an automatic savings plan and using an app to track your progress.
2. Check your credit
When you’re taking out a mortgage loan, your credit will be one of the key factors in whether you’re approved, and it will help determine your interest rate and possibly the loan terms. So check your credit before you begin the home buying process. Dispute any errors that could be dragging down your credit score and look for opportunities to improve your credit, such as making a dent in any outstanding debts.
3. Pause any new credit activity
Any time you open a new credit account, whether to take out an auto loan or get a new credit card, the lender runs a hard inquiry, which can temporarily ding your credit score. If you’re applying for a mortgage soon, avoid opening new credit accounts to keep your score from dipping.
4. Determine how much home you can afford
Before you start looking for your dream home, you need to know what’s actually within your price range. Use a home affordability calculator to determine how much you can safely afford to spend.
5. Explore your downpayment options
Struggling to come up with enough money for a downpayment? First-time home buyer programs are plentiful, including federal mortgage programs with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that allow loans with only 3% down, plus Federal Housing Administration loans and Veterans Affairs loans. You could also try crowdfunding or asking if family members are willing to pitch in with a gift.
6. Research state and local assistance programs
In addition to federal programs, many states offer assistance programs for first-time home buyers with perks such as tax credits, low down payment loans and interest free loans up to a certain amount. Your county or municipality may also have first-time home buyer programs.
7. Budget for closing costs
In addition to saving for a downpayment, you’ll need to budget for the money required to close your mortgage, which can be significant. Closing costs generally run between 2% and 5% of your loan amount. You can shop around and compare prices for certain closing expenses, such as homeowner’s insurance, home inspections and title searches. You can also defray costs by asking the seller to pay for a portion of your closing costs or negotiating your real estate agent’s commission.
8. Set aside more money for after move-in
Sorry, that’s not all you need to save up for before home shopping. Once you’ve saved for your downpayment and budgeted for closing costs, you should also set aside a buffer to pay for what will go inside the house. This includes furnishings, appliances, rugs, updated fixtures, new paint and any other touches you’ll want to have when you move in.
9. Consider what type of property to buy
You may assume you’ll buy a single-family home, and that could be ideal if you want a large lot or a lot of room. But if you’re willing to sacrifice space for less maintenance and extra amenities, and you don’t mind paying a homeowners association fee, a condo or townhome could be a better fit.
10. Research mortgage options
Is a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage a given, or is another loan type right for you? If you can afford larger monthly payments, you can get a lower interest rate with a 20-year or 15-year fixed loan. Or you may prefer an adjustable-rate mortgage, which is riskier but guarantees a low interest rate for the first few years of your mortgage.
11. Compare mortgage rates
Many homebuyers get a rate quote from only one lender, but this often leaves money on the table. Comparing mortgage rates from at least three lenders can save you more than $3,500 over the first five years of your loan, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Get at least three quotes and compare both rates and fees.
12. Decide if paying points makes sense
Lenders often allow you to buy discount points, which means prepaying interest upfront to secure a lower interest rate. There may also be an option for negative points, in which the lender pays some of your closing costs in exchange for a higher interest rate. How long you plan to stay in the house is one of the key factors in whether buying points makes sense. You’ll need to do some calculations or speak to a mortgage broker or loan officer to help you decide if buying points is worth it for you.
13. Get a preapproval letter
You can get prequalified, which simply gives you an estimate of how much a lender may be willing to lend based on your income and debts. But as you get closer to buying a home, it’s smart to get a preapproval, where the lender thoroughly examines your finances and confirms in writing how much it’s willing to lend you and at what terms. Having a preapproval letter in hand makes you look much more serious to a seller and can give you an upper hand over buyers who haven’t taken this step.
14. Hire the right real estate agent
You’ll be working closely with your real estate agent, so it’s essential that you find someone you get along with well. The right buyer’s agent should be highly skilled, motivated and knowledgeable about the area.
15. Stay under your preapproval limit
As your agent shows you homes, look for properties that cost a little less than the amount you were approved for. While you can technically afford that amount, it’s the ceiling ” and it doesn’t account for a broken washer or dryer or any other expenses that arise during homeownership, especially right after you buy. Rather than maxing out that amount, set a lower purchase budget to leave yourself wiggle room for unexpected costs.
16. Pick the right neighborhood
Finding the right neighborhood is just as important as locating the right house. Research the schools, even if you don’t have kids, since that affects a home’s value. Look at local safety and crime statistics. How close are the nearest hospital, pharmacy, grocery store and other amenities you’ll use? Also, drive through the neighborhood on various days and at different times to check out traffic, noise and activity levels.
17. Make the most of an open house
Use this as another opportunity to scope out the neighborhood and your potential neighbors. During the open house, pay close attention to the home’s overall condition and look for any smells, stains or items in disrepair. Ask a lot of questions about the home, such as when it was built, when items were last replaced and how old key systems like the air conditioning and the heating are. If several other potential buyers are viewing the home at the same time as you, don’t hesitate to schedule a second or third visit to get a closer look and ask more questions.
18. Buy a home for tomorrow
It’s easy to look at properties that meet your current needs. But if you plan to start or expand your family, it may be preferable to buy a larger home you can grow into. Consider your future needs and wants and whether this home will suit them.
19. Let little things go
When you’re looking at a home, it’s easy to get caught up on superficial details like paint color, fixtures and carpets. These features are easy to change once the home is yours, so don’t let those little details get in the way.
20. Be prepared to compromise
It’s rare to find a house that’s perfect in every way, so think carefully about what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not. Perhaps no walk-in closet in the master bedroom is a deal breaker, but an outdated guest bathroom will be tolerable until you can renovate it.
21. Make a strong offer
Your real estate agent can help you with this, but consider how much under or over the asking price you’re willing to pay to obtain your dream home. If there are multiple bids, think about tactics to win over the seller, such as a personalized letter.
22. Avoid a bidding war that blows your budget
In a competitive real estate market with limited inventory, it’s likely you’ll bidding on houses that get multiple offers. When you find a home you love, it’s tempting to make a high-priced offer that’s sure to win. But don’t let your emotions take over; stick to your purchase budget to avoid getting stuck with a mortgage payment you can’t afford.
23. Negotiate
A lot can be up for negotiation in the home buying process, which can result in major savings. Are there any major repairs you can get the seller to cover, either by fully handling them or by giving you a credit adjustment at closing? Is the seller willing to pay for any of the closing costs? If you’re in a buyer’s market, you may find the seller will bargain with you to get the house off the market.
24. Buy homeowners insurance
Before you close on your new house, your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance. Shop around and compare rates to find the best price. Look closely at what’s covered in the policies; going with a less expensive policy usually means fewer protections and more out-of-pocket expenses if you file a claim. Be aware that your insurer can drop your property if it thinks the home’s condition isn’t up to snuff, so you may have to be prepared to find a new policy quickly if it sends someone out to look at the property and isn’t happy with what it finds. Also, flood damage isn’t covered by homeowners insurance, so if your new home is in a flood-prone area, you may want to buy separate flood insurance.
25. Know the limits of a home inspection
Once your offer is accepted, you’ll pay for a home inspection to examine the property’s condition inside and out. But not all inspections test for things like radon, mold or pests, so be sure you know what’s included. Make sure the inspector can access every part of the home, such as the roof and any crawl spaces. Attend the inspection and pay close attention. Don’t be afraid to ask your inspector to take a closer look at something and ask questions. No inspector will answer the question, ‘Should I buy this house?’, so you’ll have to make this decision after reviewing the reports and seeing what the seller is willing to fix.

Security Conscious

Home security in today’s internet driven world is not just about keys or locks. Today’s technological homes involve so much more from app’s that communicate with our refrigerator, security cameras, to baby monitors and everything in between.  Smartphones and the internet have changed the way that security for homes should be looked at and protected. The first and probably the most important thing that should be done is to change the password from the factory setting.
Every item that is password protect that comes from the manufacture is set with a password with one of a few; some are 1234, 0000, or 1111. A word to the wise every item that connects to the internet or Wi-Fi has a password and should be changed. Something to consider “Hackers are costing consumers and companies between $375 and $575 billion, annually.” (Risen, 2014). This does not consider events that are not reported, as well as the number of times a video feed is hacked into.
This includes not only passwords for email, bank accounts or debit/credit cards. But also for the home Wi-Fi system, X-box or play station, baby monitors and Yes Even Cell Phones, laptops, home computers, and even if the front door has a keypad that also should be changed on a regular basis. Industry experts suggest picking a day such as your birthday and use that to set a schedule for changing passwords on a routine basis.
A password should be complex, yet simple enough to remember. Another great idea is to create a two (2) step authentication process, in which you enter your password and then you are sent via a text message or email a code that must be entered to gain access to the site. While there is the temptation to write down our passwords, due to so many different sites or apps that we use, they should never be written down. There are programs or apps available that create a “Master” password in which the program creates a master password for all your sites you visit, meaning you only must create and use one password.
The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Consider a 12-character password or longer. Avoid names, places, and dictionary words. Mix it up. Use variations on capitalization, spelling, numbers, and punctuation.  Some examples are WOO!TPwontSB = Woohoo! The Packers won the Super Bowl!  or 1tubuupshhh…imj = I tuck button-up shirts into my jeans. Another suggestion from experts is to use twelve (12) random words. You can start with a phrase such as; “Even in winter, the dogs party with brooms and neighbor Kit Kats.” When you place this password into a password checker, it will take 238 quadragintillion years of brute force to attack or crack this password.
As Realtors ® we are to help our customers or clients to buy homes at the lowest price and sell at the highest price and help to education them in the process. We also inform them on neighborhood areas, such as grocery stores, schools and places of activities even some agents provide crime statics or location of police stations or fire stations. Why not educate them on how to secure their information or our information especially with the private information we receive from our customers and their lenders and other places.