Understanding Your FICO Score and Why Small Credit Mistakes Can Cause Huge Headaches

Understanding Your FICO Score and Why Small Credit Mistakes Can Cause Huge HeadachesMany people all over the world are dealing with issues involving debt or poor credit history, but most aren’t necessarily aware of what exactly makes up their credit score. Unfortunately, it might seem like it’s the big stuff that counts when it comes to credit, but little things can have a significant impact on your financial health. If you’re looking to improve your understanding and your finances, here’s what you need to know about small mistakes and your FICO score.

Making Late Payments

The due date on your bills might seem like an advisory, but whether we’re talking about a student loan, a credit card payment or your telephone bill, late payments can add up. Your payment history constitutes 35% of your total FICO score, which means that even a couple of late payments can have a marked impact on your overall credit. Instead of leaving this to chance, set aside a day each month before your bills are due to ensure they’re all paid off.

Applying For New Credit

It’s often the case that a store will offer special deals if you sign up for their own in-house credit card, but this can cost you big since the amounts you owe make up 30% of your credit score. Also, because lenders will often assume that you’ve run out of credit if you apply for a new card, applying for new credit can be a red mark against your FICO score. It’s also important to realize that closing off an old, unused credit card can actually bump up your balance so you may want to keep them active temporarily.

Forgetting Credit Altogether

It might seem like the best possible option for avoiding credit issues is to avoid using credit altogether, but your credit history constitutes 15% of your FICO score. This means that you should have at least one credit card in your possession so that you can use it to build a history of lending success. While you won’t want to use more than 30% of your credit limit, it’s important to show proven experience in paying back your lenders.

Many people think that bad credit is the result of overspending and huge debt amounts, but your FICO score is largely determined by your payment history and your available credit. If you’re trying to improve your financial outlook in preparation for buying a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

With Mortgage Rates This Low, Should You Dive In? 3 Reasons Why Now Might Be the Time

With Mortgage Rates This Low, Should You Lock In? 3 Reasons Why Now Might Be the TimeWhether you’ve just finished school or are about to start a family, investing in a home can be one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. But as you’ll soon discover, there are a number of considerations you’ll need to make. It can be difficult to know whether to get a short-term or long-term mortgage, or how long of an amortization period you’ll need. Read on below for three questions that will help you to make your decision, as now is the best time to dive into the market.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

There are a lot of numbers mentioned when it comes to the down payment, from 5% to cash only offers, but 20% is the ideal percentage to put down when it comes to buying a home. Because putting 20% down will enable you to avoid having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), you’ll be able to lower your costs of home ownership over time. While 20% isn’t the be-all-end-all if you’re really ready to hit the market, it’s worth re-tooling your budget to save up.

Will You Struggle To Make Ends Meet?

Lower mortgage rates can certainly improve your overall outlook for investing in a home, but buying a home can be financially debilitating for many people. While you’ll be required to make your monthly mortgage payment, there will also be insurance costs, property taxes, home maintenance and other associated fees that add up. If you feel it’s going to be a huge financial risk to sustain home ownership, it may be worth sitting down with a mortgage professional to go over the numbers.

Are You Ready For Ownership?

Home ownership is often considered a rite of passage as one gets older, but it’s important to determine how a new home will fit into your current lifestyle. The costs of home ownership are usually higher than renting and you’ll have to take care of things like the yard and general home maintenance yourself. It might not be the best time if a home strongly imposes on your lifestyle, but if you’re looking forward to domestic duties, it can be a step in the right direction.

Mortgage rates have been hovering relatively low for a few years, but it’s important to know that home ownership is right for you before moving forward. If you’re currently contemplating a home in your area, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Location, Location, Location: How to Ensure You’re Buying a Home in the Right Community

Location, Location, Location: How to Ensure You're Buying a Home in the Right CommunityWhen investing in a home, one of the most important things is buying a place that you and your family can feel comfortable in. However, while a place you can envision yourself in is important, it’s not worth neglecting the neighborhood you’ll be moving into for the perfect home. If you’re wondering what you should be looking for in the neighborhood you choose, here are a few things to consider before making an offer on a home.

Is It Safe?

It may be common to feel bowled over by a home and want to invest immediately, but the right home in the wrong neighborhood may not be the best choice for many reasons. Part of feeling comfortable in your home is being safe among its streets, so ensure you research the neighborhood and its history, and check in on the crime rate. You may even want to consult with your agent or some local neighbors to see what information they can provide about the area’s history.

Are There Local Amenities?

If you’re used to getting in the car to run errands, it might not be a big deal to not have a grocery store or pharmacy nearby. However, if there are no amenities you use frequently close by, it can start to be a bit of a drain on your lifestyle. While you don’t necessarily need to have the trendiest restaurants or best shopping, it’s important to have a few choice places in case you run out of something and need to make a quick run to the store.

What’s Your Neighborhood Style?

It might seem like a strange thing to ask yourself, but the neighborhood you live in is going to become a big part of your life and that means you’ll have to see yourself in it. If you want neighbors you can trust and community-mindedness, you’ll want to seek out an area with these qualities. On the flip side, if you happen to prefer a busier urban atmosphere that offers more independence, this may be the way to go. There are a lot of things that go into finding the right home, but it’s important not to forget about the neighborhood you’re living in and what it will mean for your lifestyle. If you are interested in purchasing a home in your dream neighborhood, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 10, 2017

Last week’s economic reports suggested that demand for homes is rising despite a jump in mortgage rates and rising home prices fueled by low inventories of homes for sale. Demand for homes rose by 1.40 percent as interest rates jumped after the 10-year Treasury rate rose by 10 basis points.

Construction spending was unchanged in May as compared to a -0.70 percent reading in April. Although builders express high confidence in housing market conditions, construction spending continued to lag behind spending levels based on builder confidence readings.

Home buyers received good news as major credit bureaus removed two key components from consumer credit reports. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac raised the debt/to income ratio for home loans from 45 percent to 50 percent of gross income. This move was made to help would-be home buyers swamped with education debt. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, said that raising the debt to income ratio would not increase lender risk significantly.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose last week. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose eight basis points to 3.96 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.22 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and held steady at 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Jobless claims rose last week to 248,000 new claims from the prior week’s reading of 244,000 new claims, but this increase does not appear to be related to layoffs. Non-Farm Payrolls for June increased to 222,000 jobs added as compared to 180,000 jobs expected and May’s reading of 152,000 jobs added. Non-Farm Payrolls include public and private-sector jobs.

ADP Payrolls, which reports private-sector job growth, dipped in June to 158,000 jobs added as compared to 230,000 private-sector jobs added in June. Employers have repeatedly cited difficulty in finding skilled candidates for job openings, which makes it less likely that they’ll lay off employees who have needed skills. The national unemployment rate edged up in June with a reading of 4.40 percent against expectations of 4.30 percent and May’s reading of 4.30 percent.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, readings on inflation and core inflation and retail sales. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with a reading on consumer sentiment.

Exploring Tesla’s New Solar Roof Tiles – Are They the Ultimate Home Upgrade?

Exploring Tesla's New Solar Roof Tiles - Are They the Ultimate Home Upgrade?Tesla may have become the famous brand it is for the creation of the electric car in 2008, but it has since burgeoned into a company that has diverse ambitions for how we utilize energy. Recently, Tesla has moved into the business of solar roof panels, which have become a hot commodity on the market with their green ethos and energy savings. If you’re curious about solar power and want to know the details on this product, here are some things to consider before buying in.

The Details On Tesla’s Solar Panels

With the recent release of Tesla’s solar roof panels, many homeowners interested in green energy have flocked to this new product for its innovation and famous brand. According to Tesla, these panels will last for approximately 30 years or as long as the house stands at 1/3 the weight of regular tiles. Utilizing a tempered glass to make stronger roof panels and solar cells created in conjunction with Panasonic, the connectors for these panels have been created to last through every kind of weather condition.

The Install Involved

The installation of Tesla solar panels is estimated to take approximately 5-7 days and is expected to be easier than a regular solar panel install. According to Peter Rive, CTO and Co-founder of Solar City, “We have learned a lot about installing solar from over 300,000 installations so we took all that and included that into the development.” Fortunately, because of the lightweight quality of these panels, they can be installed without any changes to the structure of the roof they’re placed on.

Should You Invest?

Tesla may be all the rage when it comes to utilizing electrical energy, but it’s important to determine if this panel system will meet your needs. Most solar panel systems last longer than the 25-year warranty, which is in line with Tesla’s own warranty. The aesthetics of this panel system may be improved, but it will likely be a while before this product can service the needs of all homeowners. Before investing, it’s important to get quotes from multiple suppliers to determine a timeline and probable budget.

Solar panels may be the wave of the housing future, but it’s important to ensure that the projected cost and timeline will work for your needs as a homeowner before investing.

Budgeting 101: How to Plan Your Budget Around Your Monthly Mortgage Payments

Budgeting 101: How to Plan Your Budget Around Your Monthly Mortgage PaymentsIf you’ve decided to invest in a home, you might be wondering how to make all of the expenses work. From the groceries to your mode of transportation, all of those little things can quickly add up. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to ensure you have the money each month by carefully calculating your expenses and ensuring there’s a little wiggle room in case of leaner times. Here are the details on how to begin with your mortgage budgeting plan.

Calculate Your Monthly Payment

Whether you’ve just purchased a home or are trying to determine if your dream home is right for you, it’s very important to establish approximately what your monthly payment will be. It’s critical to have a mortgage cost that is sustainable, so add up your mortgage payment, home insurance, property taxes and any other required payments. While this should give you a ballpark figure, you’ll want to ensure you add a bit of extra room in case your taxes or interest rate should rise.

Determine Your Necessary Expenses

It’s easy to be idealistic and assume that you’ll be able to come up with the money for your dream home, but it’s very important to keep your feet on the ground and be realistic about your budget. Once you’ve determined your payment, calculate the average amount for your utilities, transportation costs and any debt you have. You’ll also want to add in groceries, toiletries, and extras like gym passes, meals or entertainment. By adding up your monthly payment and your expenses, you should be able to determine if a house is realistic for you.

Leave A Little Extra

If your expenses and your home costs add up to balance out, that’s great, but don’t forget to leave a little extra room in your budget for the other things you’ll need. While you’ll want to ensure you’re saving money for the future, if you have any short-term life goals like a travel destination or going back to school you’ll need to save for those. Also, the unexpected can occur at any time so you’ll want to have some cash stashed away for the times when the car breaks down or there’s a medical issue.

When investing in a home, you’ll need to feel confident that you can make your monthly mortgage payment and still have enough left over to pay your expenses and savings for down the road. If you’re currently preparing to buy, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

Family Matters: The Pros and Cons of Selling Your Home to a Family Member

Family Matters: The Pros and Cons of Selling Your Home to a Family MemberIt can be a stressful experience to put your home on the market and wait for offers in the hope that you’ve priced it right. However, for those who are considering selling to family members, the sale of a home can be fraught with just as much stress before and after sealing the deal. If you’re wondering if it’s a good idea to sell to a family member, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Providing A Discount

Whether you’re selling to a sibling or a child, you may be considering offering the home at a discount to help them out. Fortunately, since the discounted value will be different than the market value of the price, this may mean a taxable gain when it comes time for them to sell the property after a few years of residing in it. On the other hand, if your financial health is not the best, selling at a lower price to a family member can create an undue financial burden for you.

An Owner-Financed Sale

If you’re trying to help your child get on their feet, the option exists for an owner-financed sale where your child will be making monthly payments to you. This provides the benefit of not having to worry about a lender and avoiding interest rates on top of the payment. While this can be a great feeling as a parent to be able to help your child, it’s important to weigh the decision carefully to determine that your child will not default on the loan and it won’t be tiresome for you to act as the lender.

Keeping It In The Family

For most people, the home they live in has sentimental value, whether they’ve lived there for a few years or it’s been in the family for generations. That’s why it can be a great comfort for many to sell to a family member who will understand the house’s history and the family traditions. If the deal is going to put a strain on relationships, though, it may not be worth the well-being of the family to keep the home among the relatives.

It can be a comfort to sell a home to a family member and secure their well-being, but there can be financial hurdles involved that can have an adverse impact on the relationship. If you’re currently considering purchasing from a family member, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 3, 2017

Last week’s economic news included Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, pending home sales and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released along with a reading on consumer sentiment. Case-Shiller and pending home sales readings suggested that recent rapid growth in home prices and home sales may be easing. High demand for homes coupled with low inventories of homes for sale has created an artificially high rate of home price growth and competition among buyers for a limited number of homes.

Home Price Growth Rate, Pending Home Sales Slow

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for April showed lower home price growth than in March. April’s 20-City Home Price Index slipped from a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year rate of 5.60 percent to 5.50 percent. Analysts noted that high home prices and a limited inventory of homes on the market have sidelined some buyers.

According to the Commerce Department, pending home sales remained in negative territory in May with a reading of -0.80 percent as compared to April’s reading of -0.90 percent. While this is an improvement, home sales typically pick up during spring and summer months; a negative reading in pending home sales suggests that would-be buyers are waiting for home prices to ease and for more homes to become available.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported 30-year mortgage rates were two basis points lower at an average of 3.88 percent, while the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.17 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.17 percent. Discount points were unchanged at an average of 0.50 percent for all mortgage types.

First-time unemployment claims were higher last week at 244,000; analysts estimated a reading of 243,0000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 242,000 new claims.

Consumer spending declined by 0.30 percent to 0.10 percent in May, which matched analyst’s expectations. Core consumer spending met expectations and held steady in May with a reading of 0.10 percent growth. Consumer sentiment rose in June to an index reading of 95.10 as compared to expectations of 94.50, which matched April’s reading of 94.50

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic news releases include readings on construction spending, ADP and Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

A Quick Look at Reverse Mortgages: The Golden Ticket to Enjoying Your Golden Years

A Quick Look at Reverse Mortgages: The Golden Ticket to Enjoying Your Golden YearsWith a high volume of millennials set to enter the real estate market this year, it may seem like all the available options out there were created to snag new home buyers. However, there are products available on the market that cater to those who are in their golden years too. If you’re older than 62 and are currently weighing the options with your mortgage, here are the basics on reverse mortgages and why they might positively benefit you.

The Scoop On Reverse Mortgages

It may seem like this mortgage option hasn’t been around that long, but it was actually created in 2009 following the recession. Known as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM), this product is specifically directed at those who are retired or close to retirement that want to tap into the equity in their home. This option is only beneficial for those who plan on staying in their home long term, the loan is paid off at the time the homeowner moves out or passes on.

What Are The Requirements?

Because a reverse mortgage enables the homeowner to tap into the equity they’ve already paid into their home, there are many requirements involved in using this type of mortgage product. In addition to being 62 or older, the homeowner will have to have a high amount of equity in their home. They will also have to prove that they have the financial ability to make their monthly payments, in addition to being able to pay the insurance and property taxes on the property. The homeowner will also have to comply with the requirements set out by the Federal Housing Administration.

Is It The Right Choice?

Like any mortgage product, it’s important to determine before choosing this mortgage product that it’s right for you. While a reverse mortgage gives the benefit of providing access to cash and allows you to put your money elsewhere, it can end up costing more down the road since interest will continue to accrue on the principal amount owing. Before diving in, ensure that you do the calculations and consult with a professional to ensure it’s going to be a financial benefit in the end.

A reverse mortgage can be a great means of accessing cash for homeowners who are 62 or older, but it’s important to weigh all the financial aspects before making a final decision. If you’re currently looking into your mortgage options, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

Did You Know: With a Little DIY Work, That Garage Can Be Used for More Than Just Your Car

Did You Know: With a Little DIY Work, That Garage Can Be Used for More Than Just Your CarAlong with the family vehicles, the garage may be the place where all of the things you don’t want in your house go to disappear. However, you might not be aware that there are a number of DIY hacks you can use for your garage that will instantly make it a more useable space. If you’re wondering how you can fit more in while improving the aesthetic appeal of your garage, here are some tricks to test out.

Give Your Garden Tools Space

The pile of garden tools that often sit in the corner of the garage is generally unpleasant to look at and potentially dangerous, so instead of leaving them around to trip on, try out a wall rack to secure them properly. All that’s required to make this rack is two boards and a saw in order to make the proper cuts. Once all is said and done, you can screw the boards into the garage wall and place your tools in the cut grooves for a more organized look that will clear away the extra clutter.

Consider Ceiling Storage

If you already struggle with a small garage, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have the extra space for storage. Instead of the floor, try putting your storage on the roof! By using plastic carriages installed into the roof of your garage, you can easily slide totes full of storage items into place. While you won’t want to store heavy items in the bins, they can be a great place for infrequently used items like Christmas decorations or old mementos.

Make Your Own Rec Room

If you have a two-car garage and only one car, there’s always the fun possibility that you may be able to use your garage for a less traditional purpose. Whether you decide to go with a makeshift office or a den the whole family can enjoy, adding a desk or couch, a few tables and even some wall art can be a great means of getting extra space. It can also be a great place to throw a party for your neighbors and your friends!