Date Archives: November 2015

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November
26

Turned down for a mortgage? You're not alone. Many borrowers are finding it difficult to navigate lending requirements and reapply for a loan to buy a home, despite significant improvement in the housing market.   Mortgage contract   If your mortgage application was rejected, take heart. Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit and housing counseling agency, says prospective homebuyers can successfully reapply if they consider the following factors:   Cash Flow – One of the primary roadblocks to obtaining a mortgage is cash flow. At a minimum, borrowers need a 3-percent down payment and about 3% of the mortgage for closing costs. They must also take moving and ongoing maintenance costs into account, including utility deposits, appliances, a lawn mower, curtains and other miscellaneous expenses. As a general rule, prospective homebuyers should have at least $10,000 saved before shopping for a home.   Credit – Many young people today haven't used credit, aside from student loans, so lenders have difficulty assessing their ability to pay back the home loan. Borrowers who fall into this bucket need to focus on building a positive credit history with three trade lines, such as a credit card, auto loan and signature loan, for at least two years before attempting to reapply.   Lifestyle – Many consumers assume if they can qualify for a loan, they can afford a house. With lenders approving 31 percent of gross salary for a house payment and 43 percent for all debt service, it's easy to buy a house one can't afford. It's important to remember the mortgage is only part of the financial picture. Ongoing costs such as commuting, utilities, HOA fees, landscaping and general home maintenance need to be seriously considered, as well. It's wise to limit house payments to 28 percent of gross income, and all debt service to no more than 34 percent.   "Many individuals and families are ready to pursue their dreams of homeownership after overcoming financial struggles, but they don't always have a clear picture of what it takes, or how a mortgage could impact their long-term financial picture," says Sullivan. "The more knowledge they obtain before entering the lending process, the better."   Source: Take Charge America Published with permission from RISMedia.
November
19

(BPT) - Owning a home is part of the American Dream, yet standards on income, credit and debt are making it tougher to buy a home than it was 10 years ago. Even though requirements are relaxing, only three out of five borrowers get approved. millennials While stricter standards make it tougher for young families to qualify for a mortgage, millennials said they understand why these standards exist and think the tougher requirements won't stand in their way of buying a home.   In fact, millennials today are serious about doing what's required to get a mortgage. The research surveyed 1,000 millennials who don't own a home and found 35 percent plan to buy within five years. What's more, millenials are taking steps now to turn their dreams into a reality by getting their credit in order, paying down debt and saving for a down payment.   'Income is a key to opening the doors of homeownership for millennials, and they're more than committed to it; they're actively planning for it,' says Anthony Hsieh, chairman and chief executive officer, loanDepot LLC. 'Our improving economy is making it practical for millennials who want to own their own homes in a few short years to get ready now. Their strong desire to become homeowners, coupled with the commitment of getting their finances in order, suggests a renewal in first-time buyer demand may be possible if we sustain necessary economic and market conditions.'   With their prospects improving as the economy picks up, millennials are forming households faster and making more money compared to a few years ago. One in three millennials said an increase of 15 percent or less in income will be enough to turn them into homebuyers, a significant proposition for the economy.   Because mortgage lenders use debt-to-income to evaluate a borrowers' ability to repay a loan, student debt is a growing burden on millennials interested in financing a home. Unlike medical debt, student debt carries an equal weight to credit card debt. Nearly half of those surveyed said it's unfair to weigh both types of debt equally.   As for the tougher requirements to getting a mortgage, millennials do think the tougher standards guard against risky loans and will help prevent another mortgage crisis. More than half say making it easier to get a mortgage will result in more foreclosures.   If you have student debt and want to buy your first home, here are a few ideas and tips to help you prepare:   * Lower your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). DTI is your total monthly income as compared to your total monthly debt payments. Most lenders will only lend to you if your DTI is at or below 43 percent. So to lower it, try to increase your income by pursuing a promotion or raise, finding a higher-paying job or taking on part-time work. Decrease your required monthly debt payments by refinancing or consolidating student loans and paying down any credit card balances.   * Get your credit score in order. Analyze your credit report before you start the home buying process. Dispute incorrect derogatory information and ensure all three credit-reporting bureaus list all of your positive information. Pay all your bills on time, reduce credit card balances to 30 percent of the credit limit or lower, and don't open new credit cards if you already have a few.   * Save for a down payment. Make a budget for each month before it starts, with a plan for spending and saving, and stick to it. Stash away extra money from bonuses, overtime or financial gifts on your birthday or holidays. Find a roommate to help pay your rent or move into a less-expensive rental. Do freelance or contract work on the side. Sell unneeded stuff on Craigslist.
November
18

(BPT) - You never get a second chance to make a first impression. This steadfast advice isn't just for interviews and first dates; it's also applicable to your home.   curb_appeal   Whether it's a potential buyer or simply a visitor, within seconds of seeing your home's exterior, that first impression will be made. That's why experts from home builders to real estate agents sing the praises of stellar curb appeal.   If you're thinking of selling your home or just want to give it a facelift, here are ways you can increase your home's curb appeal:   Revamp the roof Your roof is an important element of the exterior design aesthetic. If a dingy old roof is killing your curb appeal, a style and color upgrade can breathe new life into your home's facade. The first step is to evaluate roofing options for style cohesion with your home's existing siding. For a traditional look, try TAMKO's Heritage shingle line with colors and tones that mimic what's found in nature. Some styles are manufactured to resemble wood shake for a classic upscale look at a lower cost. Visit www.tamko.com for facade inspiration.   Shake up shutters Don't be tempted to ignore your shutters. Much like how jewelry adds the perfect finishing touch to an outfit, stylish shutters in attractive hues can pull your home's entire front exterior look together. Shutters provide a great opportunity to add a splash of color for a touch of personality to your home's exterior without going overboard. Pull shutters down and clean them up with soap and water before adding a fresh coat of paint. Make sure to get enough paint so you can freshen your front door in the matching color as well for a coordinating look that can enhance curb appeal.   Pretty the patio Front patios should convey an inviting appearance that complements the entryway. For dated and dirty concrete slabs, special paint can instantly provide an eye-catching focal point that looks like new. For old or rotting wood surfaces, consider replacing that deck or patio surface with composite deck boards like Evergrain Composite Decking. This compression-molded product creates the look of wood without painting or staining. Finish beautifying patio spaces with a few extra touches that warm the area. Depending on the space parameters, the addition of a wicker chair, a few potted plants and a new welcome mat can make a world of difference in boosting curb appeal.   Love the landscaping Overgrown plants, messy mulch and low-hanging tree branches can kill curb appeal fast. Take a look at your home from the street and notice whether plants and landscape beds could use a tidy touch. Keeping bushes and trees neatly trimmed can increase curb appeal, but don't stop there. Deadhead flowers and pull plants that are past season. Finally, add a fresh layer of mulch to cut down on weeds and provide a freshly landscaped look.
November
13

Using credit responsibly is an integral part of personal financial health. Not only is credit a key factor in securing loans for a home, vehicle or other major purchases, landlords often look at credit before approving new renters, as well.   creditworthy   "Improving and maintaining a positive credit history is important for people of all backgrounds, ages and life phases," says Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. "A few credit missteps can set back your financial goals significantly, even years in some cases."   To do just that, Sullivan recommends the following tips.   1. Limit the Number of Cards People are bombarded with dazzling credit card offers, but applying for too many can negatively impact credit while also increasing the risk of deep debt.   2. Avoid Fees Credit card companies charge fees for late payments-even when it's just a day or two-and for exceeding card limits, even if it's only a few dollars. Worse, exceeding limits or making late payments may trigger a higher interest rate and show up on your credit report.   3. Pay Off Balances Every Month Many people fall into the trap of making just the minimum payment, but paying off balances ensures consumers aren't wasting money on interest.   4. Never Get a Cash Advance The prospect of quick cash is tempting, but advances almost always come with hefty fees and high interest.   5. Don't Close Old Accounts… While this may seem counterintuitive, closing a card may negatively impact your credit because it reduces credit-to-debt ratio and credit history, both major factors credit bureaus use to calculate scores.   6. …Unless There Is a Steep Annual Fee In this case, the benefits of closing the account may outweigh the potential effect on credit.   7. Review Statements Each Month It's important to check your account statements monthly to ensure they are accurate and that you understand the terms.   8. Opt-Out of Prescreening Minimize the temptation to open new cards by opting out of pre-screened offers at optoutprescreen.com.   9. Use the Perks Credit cards offer perks beyond travel rewards and cash back, but many don't know about them. Agreements spell out all of the benefits, from buyer protection and car rental discounts to extended warranties and free airport lounge access.   10. Use Cards Online With identity theft on the rise, use credit when making purchases online. If your number is stolen, you will not be out any money while the card company investigates. With debit cards, the money may be inaccessible while the situation is being resolved.   Source: Take Charge America Published with permission from RISMedia.
November
5

Whether for free or a fee, numerous websites offer credit scores. However, according to a recent FICO® report, the majority of credit score inquirers believe they're receiving their FICO Score, when, in fact, they're receiving a non-FICO score.   Credit   "Because other credit scores look similar to FICO Scores, consumers have no way of determining, through the credit score itself, whether or not it's a FICO Score," says Jim Wehmann, executive vice president for scores at FICO. "Credit scores are unlike other products; the consequences of not recognizing credit scores from different companies can be much more serious. The new research findings bring to light an important issue: if the majority of consumers are confused about these non-FICO credit scores being provided to them, then millions of Americans are likely to be mistaken about their actual creditworthiness."   As a separate study recently revealed, FICO Scores are used in more than 90 percent of decisions involving approval of credit applications in the United States, including mortgage loans. According to the FICO report, over 80 percent of consumers believe the non-FICO credit scores they obtain are scores widely used by lenders to make credit decisions.   The mathematical formulas used by each scoring company are unique and create credit scores for the same consumers that are often significantly different from their FICO Scores-sometimes 100 points or more.  With such large score differences, not understanding that the credit score obtained isn't a FICO Score can cause consumers to over- or underestimate how a lender will view them, with serious consequences for financial health and wellbeing.   Today, the holders of more than 100 million consumer credit accounts have access to their FICO Scores for free through the FICO Score Open Access Program. Source: FICO Published with permission from RISMedia.

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