7 Steps to Buying a Home You Can Actually Afford

August 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you would like to take advantage of the current housing market but you don’t know where to begin? Here is a quick 7 step list I discovered that can help you get started. Happy house hunting!

 

1) Get your credit in as good shape as possible. Your credit score can make a big difference in your interest rate and lenders are  a lot stricter than they used to be. You can start by ordering a free copy of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com as long as you haven’t done so in the last 12 months. One study showed that about 70% of credit reports have errors in them so check to see if there are any in yours that could be hurting your credit score and if so, be sure to have them corrected.

You can also use a site like creditkarma.com to see your credit score for free and more importantly, figure out what steps you can take to improve it. The key things are to make sure you make your debt payments on time, pay off as much of your debt as possible (except perhaps car and student loans, which tend to be relatively low interest), and be careful of closing accounts. If you have a credit card that is charging you an annual fee, see if you can convert the card into a no-fee card rather than close it.

2) Be ready with your down payment. Ideally, you would be able to put down 20% of your home’s purchase price to avoid having to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance). If you can’t put down 20%, mortgage companies will usually offer you a smaller “piggy back loan” to help bridge the gap but those loans have higher interest rates.

Don’t dip too far into your savings though. Try to keep at least 3-6 months of expenses set aside for emergencies. If you don’t have enough money available in your regular accounts, you can access up to $10k without penalties from IRAs for a first-time home purchase and your employer’s retirement plan may allow you to borrow from your retirement account with a longer time to pay off home loans. There’s always the “family and friends” route too.

3) Try to pick a mortgage with a fixed rate for the longest time that you think you’ll be keeping the home. That’s because you could see your monthly payments jump up on a variable rate mortgage when interest rates eventually start climbing. On the other hand, fixed rate mortgages have higher interest rates so it may not make sense to pay more to lock in a fixed rate for longer than you need it.

4) Choose the right loan term for your needs. A 30-yr loan has lower monthly payments and can be advantageous if you’ll make good use of the savings by investing them or paying down high interest debt. You can always make extra payments if you want to pay the loan off sooner. But if you’re honestly more likely to splurge the money you save each month, the 15-yr loan could be better since it will cost you less in interest and be a form of forced savings every month.

5) Shop around for a mortgage. Even a slightly higher rate can mean paying significantly more over the life of the loan so don’t just talk to your existing bank. Consider credit unions, which often offer lower loan rates because they’re non-profit. Some brokerage firms like Charles Schwab offer mortgages and sometimes provide discounts for people who keep a lot of money with them. You can also try Web sites like bankrate.com and eloan.com or an independent mortgage broker who can shop around from multiple mortgage companies to find the one that can offer you the best deal. You can then use this calculator to compare the loans.

6) Figure out how much home you can afford. Remember, just because the mortgage company will loan you the money doesn’t mean you should take it. There are rules of thumb like not spending more than 28% of your income on mortgage payments but every person’s situation is different. Two people may have the same income but one may need to save more for retirement or have to make large private school tuition payments for their kids. Take a look at your current saving and spending needs to see how much you can realistically afford to pay each month and don’t forget to leave some room for the potential “hidden expenses” of home ownership like utility bills, HOA fees if applicable, and repairs and maintenance.

7) Start house hunting. Once you’ve gotten pre-approved on a mortgage, work with a real estate agent experienced in the neighborhoods you’re interested in and look at homes that are within your affordable price range. Make sure you look at several places even if you fall in love with the first one you see as you may change your mind with more perspective. Finally, don’t forget to have fun. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve earned it!

From Newswire
Liz Davidson,
Financial Finesse

 

Will Defaulting on Season Tickets Hurt My Credit Score?

August 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

season tix

Will Defaulting on Season Tickets Hurt My Credit Score?

Attention sports fans: This answer could prove helpful if your team ticks you off.

We recently received a reader question that was very interesting — something we hadn’t thought of before. This one’s for you sports fans out there:

Does anyone know the impact of defaulting on season tickets will have on one’s credit? Will it have an impact on my car insurance, current loans for cars, or anything else? Please let me know. – Angry Fan

How defaulting on season tickets would impact your credit would depend on whether or not the organization reports the incident to the credit reporting agencies. If the default is reported as a collection, because collection accounts are considered severe delinquencies, the account would have a significant impact on your current credit standing and would hurt your credit scores.

This wouldn’t necessarily impact any accounts you currently have open, but if the impact is significant and your credit scores take a severe hit, it could affect future loans, their interest rates and your ability to qualify for them.

Your question prompted us to make a couple of calls to find out exactly how season ticket holder accounts are handled by major league sporting establishments. Interestingly enough, policies vary depending on the establishment, but what we learned may ease your mind.

According to the two major league establishments I spoke with, season tickets are normally paid for in advance, prior to the tickets being released and issued to the purchaser. Generally speaking, there are no contractual payment plans or financing options for standard individual season ticket purchases.

However, depending on the ticket package, some plans may allow the purchaser to hold their preferred tickets with a deposit, offering them a short grace period before they’re required to pay the remainder of the balance.

In the event the purchaser is unable to pay the remaining balance before the deadline defined by the establishment, the hold is ended and the tickets are re-released to the public for purchase.

In some cases the deposit will be refunded, and in others the deposit may be forfeited. It all depends on the purchase rules outlined by the individual establishment. In either case, defaulting on a season ticket purchase would have no bearing on your credit unless there were a contractual obligation or financing option involved with the purchase.

For corporate packages or purchases where suites are a part of the season ticket package, it’s an entirely different ballgame. Suites are contractual and legally binding. If you sign a contract and default on the purchase agreement, this is when defaulting on season tickets could end up as a collection in your credit reports and hurt your credit scores.

Fix Your Credit to Buy a Home

August 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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Today, we got word that another client successfully purchased a home after completing just 4 months in our program! This is great news, and is something that we love to hear. This client, came to us from a mortgage loan officer with a 553 credit score. 11 collection accounts, 5 accounts with many late payments and no open credit. With our help, he opened a credit card to start regaining points, paid off several collections, and had 8 accounts deleted from his credit reports. This gave him a boost of over 90 points!!! He ended up having a mid credit score of 647 and was able to qualify for FHA financing and bought a home for his family. This all happened within 4 months!! Do you know someone that needs a life change? Do you know someone that needs a home? Call us today to learn how this can be you. (909) 570-9048

What to do if your credit card has been compromised

August 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Here is some sound advice on what to do if you feel your credit card has been tampered with. Recent security breach teaches us all a lesson.

What Does the Credit Card Company Breach Mean for You?: MyFoxATLANTA.com

Authorized-user credit card plans can be useful, and abused

August 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Authorized-user credit card plans can be useful, and abused

“Authorized user” sounds like a term you’d find on the warning label of a heavy-duty power tool. (Authorized users only! All other users risk injury or death.)

But in the world of credit reports, an “authorized user” is someone who is allowed to use another individual’s credit card without being responsible for the bill.

That sounds like a sweet deal for the authorized user. But millions of people with good credit use this strategy to help their children or spouses build a solid credit history. Thanks to a recent turnaround by Fair Isaac, developer of the widely used FICO score, this avenue to good credit will continue to be available.

First, some background: When a credit card holder designates a child, spouse or other individual as an authorized user, the card holder’s payment history appears on the authorized user’s credit report. If the card holder has stellar credit, it will boost the authorized user’s credit score. More than 50 million consumers are listed as authorized users on another person’s credit card, according to Fair Isaac.

But in recent years, some credit-repair outfits have exploited authorized-user accounts in ways that Fair Isaac never intended. These companies arrange for people with good credit to “rent” their histories to strangers with tarnished credit.

“Some consumers were paying thousands of dollars to be added to someone’s account to get a short-term increase in their credit rating,” says Tom Quinn, vice president of scoring solutions for Fair Isaac. Fair Isaac officials were concerned that the practice, known as piggybacking, allowed consumers with bad credit to artificially inflate their scores.

In an effort to stop this practice, Fair Isaac announced last year that its new scoring formula, known as FICO 08, wouldn’t recognize authorized-user accounts. Critics said the change would lower credit scores for millions of consumers, forcing them to pay more for everything from mortgages to car loans.

About 1% of consumers would no longer have enough of a credit history to get a score at all, according to a survey by Credit.com, a consumer website. Without a credit score, it’s very difficult to qualify for a loan.

Lenders, meanwhile, raised a regulatory concern. They told Fair Isaac that they used FICO scores to comply with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which requires lenders to consider a spouse’s credit history when weighing a potential borrower’s credit risk. If Fair Isaac stopped recognizing authorized users, lenders said they wouldn’t be able to use FICO scores to meet that requirement.

In response, Fair Isaac sent its scoring model back to the laboratory. Company analysts came up with a new version of FICO 08 that will continue to recognize authorized-user accounts but make it more difficult for credit-repair agencies to manipulate credit scores, Quinn says. Fair Isaac declined to provide details on how its new formula will close the piggybacking loophole. The company says it’s working with the three credit-reporting agencies to get FICO 08 adopted as quickly as possible.

“This is great news,” says John Ulzheimer, president of educational services for Credit.com, an outspoken critic of the original proposal. “I’m thrilled with Fair Isaac’s willingness to take a second look at this.”

A credit-building tool

Ulzheimer believes the authorized-user designation offers a valuable way for parents to help children learn how to manage credit without giving them their own credit card. “It’s like a credit card with training wheels,” he says.

There’s no downside for the child, because an authorized user has no liability for the account, Ulzheimer says. If the parent falls behind on payments, the child can ask to have the authorized-user designation removed from his or her credit report.

“When you have someone as an authorized user on a credit card, you give them an escape route,” Ulzheimer says. “If you lose your job or get into a horrible financial mess, you’re not dragging them down with you.”

Still, credit cards, like power tools, can cause a lot of havoc if they’re handled improperly. For that reason, Quinn says, parents who name children as authorized users should set clear limits on how the card should be used.

“When I went to college, I was listed on my dad’s credit card as an authorized user, but I was strictly told it could only be used for emergency purposes and not to buy a round of beer for everybody,” he says. “When it’s done in a family environment where the practices of sound credit are taught, it’s very beneficial.”

Sandra Block covers personal finance for USA TODAY. Her Your Money column appears Tuesdays. Click here for an index of Your Money columns. E-mail her at: sblock@usatoday.com.

 

Credit 101 Part 6 – Filing a Complaint

August 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This is part 6 in a series of videos on basics of credit, which is Credit 101. What are my avenues of recourse? Where do I file a complaint? How do I challenge this information? Dispute to the credit bureaus and more is explained. This is something that should be taught in high school. A brief explanation of credit. Interview between Adam Villaneda and Cesar Marrufo. Elite Financial, LLC credit repair in Yucaipa, California. Learn how to fix your bad credit report and position yourself to purchase a home. I do NOT own rights to this music and am not claiming that I do.

10 reasons you can’t get credit

August 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

10 reasons you can’t get credit

When an application is turned down, you should know why. Here are some of the common reasons, and what you should do next.

If you’ve never been rejected for credit, count yourself fortunate. Somewhere between 25% and 35% of credit card applications are typically approved, “depending upon the pricing value proposition and other factors,” according to Robert Hammer, the president of R.K. Hammer and Associates, a consultant to the card industry.

With some issuers, the approval rate may be a mere 10% or so.

If you’re not turned down for credit, you may be told instead that you didn’t qualify for the best rate. Either way, if a credit score (or credit-based insurance score) was used in the decision, you must be told the main factors that contributed to your score.

Deciphering those reasons can be maddening, though. “What do you mean, I have no recent revolving balances?” Or, “So it says my account balances are too high. What does ‘too high’ mean anyway?”

Here’s a guide to some of the main reasons you may be turned down — and what you can do about them.

Keep in mind that these are just some of the factors that may be used to evaluate your credit. Not all of them will apply in all situations, and there may be variations on these as well.

 

‘Proportion of balances to credit limits is too high on bank revolving or other revolving accounts’

What it means: The score likely looks at your total available credit limits and compares them with your outstanding balances, individually and in the aggregate. The greater the percentage of your available credit that you are using, the greater the impact on your scores.

What you can do about it: Focus on paying down balances that are close to the credit limits as quickly as possible. What about transferring a balance from a maxed-out card to one with a smaller balance? While that might help, it’s not likely, since you still have just as much debt as before (another factor).

‘Amount owed on accounts is too high’

What it means: This factor may look at your debt in comparison with that of other consumers, and if your debt is higher than optimal, it could show up as a reason why you weren’t approved.

What you can do about it: This one is particularly frustrating because you probably have no idea how much debt is too much, nor do you know which balances to try to pay down first. Typically, though, you’ll get the most bang for your buck, credit-wise, by focusing first on paying down your credit cards with balances that are closest to the limits.

‘Too many recent inquiries in the past 12 months’

What it means: This reason appears when your credit report indicates a high number of credit applications (inquiries) within the past year. But not all are counted the same. Checking your own credit reports doesn’t count; nor do promotional inquiries, inquiries from employer and insurance companies, and account reviews by your current creditors. The impact of inquiries on your credit will vary, depending on your overall credit profile, but the typical inquiry can be expected to affect your score by about five points.

What you can do about it: This reason is more likely to appear when you have a limited credit history or strong credit, simply because there are fewer other significant negative factors affecting your scores. But it doesn’t hurt to lay low for a while. Avoid opening new retail cards. While inquiries resulting from shopping for a mortgage, student loan or auto loan aren’t as likely to hurt your score as the same number of inquiries for credit cards, limit your applications to a short period of time, such as 14 days.

‘Level of delinquency on accounts’

What it means: Delinquency refers to payments that were late. The general rule of thumb is that the further you fall behind, the greater the impact on your credit scores.

What you can do about it: If the information is inaccurate, you can dispute it. If it’s correct, you’re going to have to live with it for a while; usually up to seven years. Focus on making your current payments on time. If cash is tight, remember that all you have to do is make the minimum payment on time to avoid a delinquency on your report.

‘Time since delinquency is too recent or unknown’

What it means: Recent late payments will have a greater impact on your score than older late payments. Typically, delinquencies within a year or two will hurt your scores the most. If an account was delinquent a while ago but the credit report doesn’t indicate the date, this factor can pop up as well.

What you can do about it: The good news is that as time passes, these delinquencies will carry less weight, especially when you are paying current bills on time. But the date is important here. If an inaccurate date (or no date) is reported for a charge-off or collection account, for example, make sure you dispute that with the credit-reporting agency.|

‘Serious delinquency, derogatory public record or collection filed’

What it means: This can mean that your credit report includes a bankruptcy, judgment, tax lien or collection account. Bankruptcy remains on your report 10 years from the date you file (seven years for a completed Chapter 13). Paid judgments can be reported for seven years, but unpaid judgments can stay even longer. Paid tax liens are removed seven years after being paid, but unpaid tax liens can remain on your report indefinitely. Collection accounts may be reported for seven years and 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor, leading up to the account being turned over to collections.

What you can do about it: If the information is accurate, this is also a matter of biding your time and making sure you have as many positive credit references currently reporting as possible. (A secured card may be an option if you can’t qualify for a regular credit card.) And while paying a collection, judgment or tax lien won’t likely change this factor in the short run, it could result in the public-record item being removed from your report sooner and protect you from being sued for a debt, which could result in additional judgments or collections on your credit reports. If dates are incorrectly reported or payments are not being reported — not uncommon with collection accounts — dispute them.

‘No recent revolving balances (or no recent bank card balances)’

What it means: This reason may appear when your credit report doesn’t include any revolving accounts (usually credit cards), or when all your credit cards closed or are no longer being reported. If you have open credit cards, it may also appear when there are no balances on those accounts.

 

What you can do about it: Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to have debt to have good credit. As long as you use your cards from time to time, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you are avoiding credit cards altogether, you’ll have a tough time getting a top credit score. Get a credit card and use it occasionally — even a secured card — pay it in full and on time, and you should be fine.

‘Lack of recent installment loan information’

What it means: Your mortgage was paid off years ago. You pay cash for your cars. You don’t have any outstanding student loans. Guess what? The fact that you’re ultra-responsible here doesn’t help your credit scores.

What you can do about it: The strongest credit scores go to those with a mix of different types of accounts. Does that mean you have to rush out and take out a loan? No. But next time you go to buy a car, you may want to find out if you qualify for 0% financing or a low-rate loan. Or you may want to see if you can get a low-rate personal loan to consolidate some higher-rate credit card debt. On the other hand, don’t go overboard. You don’t want to pay a lot in extra interest charges.

‘Too few accounts currently paid as agreed’

What it means: This reason appears when your credit report does not show enough accounts paid on time relative to the number of accounts with late payments. But if you haven’t been late with payments, this reason most likely means that you need more accounts reported on your file as “paid as agreed.”

What you can do about it: You may want to think about adding a current credit reference, or even a couple of them over time. If you’re having trouble getting approved for a credit card or personal loan, consider a secured card.

‘Too many consumer finance company accounts’

What it means: Consumer finance companies make relatively small personal loans, usually limited to a several thousand dollars, and quite often at interest rates higher than those on most credit cards. Consumers who rely heavily on consumer finance company accounts tend to be riskier to lenders than consumers without such accounts.

What you can do about it: Paying off these types of accounts will not improve your credit immediately, but it’s still a good idea to pay them off as soon as you can, since the interest rates are probably high. Next time you need to borrow, try first to get a standard personal loan through a social-lending website, for example, or from your bank or credit union.

 

By Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com

 

What determines your credit score?

August 5, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

FICO Scores are calculated from a wide variety of different credit data in your credit report. This data can be grouped into five categories as outlined below. The percentages reflect how important each of the categories is in determining your score. These percentages are based on the importance of the five categories for the general population. The importance of these categories may vary for particular groups – for example, people who have not been using credit long might find less importance on amounts owed and greater importance on payment history. Paying your bills on time and paying down account balances are the top two factors that can help or hurt your credit score regardless of who you are and what your credit situation is! Here’s a breakdown of how your credit score is calculated:

• 10 % Types of Credit Used
• 10% New Credit
• 15% Length of Credit History
• 30% Amounts Owed
• 35% Payment History

Knowing and more importantly understanding these figures can help a great amount towards getting your credit score back on track. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Why credit scores are different

August 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Why credit scores are different

Many consumers go beyond getting their free annual credit report from the nationwide credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These consumers pay for monthly subscriptions to a credit monitoring service with the goal of knowing their credit score at any point in time and receiving alerts when someone uses their personal information or accesses their credit history. It takes many people by surprise when they purchase credit scores just before applying for credit only to find the lender’s credit score disclosure does not match. Why is that the case, and what can you do?

What Credit Scores Tell Consumers and Lenders
Credit monitoring services and nationwide credit reporting agencies make money by selling credit scores to consumers, lenders and other businesses that use credit scores for decision-making. You, as a buyer, borrower or consumer, can buy educational credit scores from a credit monitoring service. Educational credit scores help you prepare to apply for loans, manage your debts and eliminate fraud or identity theft. Mortgage lenders, auto loan companies, credit card providers, insurance companies, landlords and employers buy credit scores from credit reporting agencies. Credit scores help them determine if you will pay your bill on time, in full, every month; predict if and when you might fall delinquent on your accounts; or evaluate if and when you are likely to default on your credit obligations. Whatever they’re being used for, credit scores should be based on the same information for both lender and customer, so why are scores from different sources so different? Two reasons credit scores differ are discrepancies in reporting methods and different scoring models.

Issues with Reporting Methods
Common discrepancies in reporting methods include:

  • Consistency – not all data furnishers give information to all credit reporting agencies.
  • Timing – data furnishers may provide the same information to all agencies but at different time schedules.
  • Accuracy – changing personal information, i.e. names or addresses, has to be matched to the correct credit file.
  • Privacy – Credit reporting agencies do not cross-share details on inquiries and information with each other.

Lenders and other creditors can choose what information to report, when to report it and which agencies to report to. Some lenders report monthly to all three agencies. Other creditors, like collection agencies, may report quarterly or only when there is activity on your account. Some agencies only report to a single credit reporting agency. A one-week difference in reporting information to the agencies could make a difference in your score from each one. Since reporting agencies do not cross share information with each other, the report and score you buy may not contain the same information that the lender report and score contains.

Scoring Models
Each credit reporting or monitoring agency uses a different method to calculate your score. They base these calculations on complex mathematic, statistical or algorithmic models. Scoring models are proprietary systems and are protected by trademarks, patents and copyrights.

There are three types of credit scores that credit providers purchase:

  • Generic scores – predict general payment performance
  • Industry scores – predict performance on specific type of credit
  • Custom scores – predict performance by company’s customer base

Generic credit scores are used by credit monitoring services to educate you, the consumer. You can use a credit monitoring service to learn how to get your score from what it is today to where you need it to be in the future. You can also use this service find out how late payments, opening new accounts or paying off debts may change your scores over time. Again, these are educational items and there is no guarantee you will achieve a certain score at any time.
Industry credit scores tell, for example, car lenders how you have paid your car loan, but that score may be different from a mortgage or credit card score. If you have had an automobile repossession, your auto industry score may be low in comparison to your mortgage industry score if you have never had mortgage delinquencies. Lenders may have their own in-house system to calculate a custom score based on their specific credit products and customer base. These scores often rank you in comparison to other customers and may work more like a grading curve than a general purpose credit score.

Take an Active Role in Providing Your Own Credit Information
You cannot control what credit scores you or a lender will get at any time, but you can know what information is in your credit file and keep it up to date. Make sure your name, address, birth date, Social Security number and employment information are current and correct. If you have a common name make sure other people’s information is not in your credit report. If you have received collection agency notices, check for reporting with the original creditor. Duplicate items can affect your credit score. When you correct or dispute an item, make sure you do it with all three bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The Bottom Line
Finally, educate yourself about the different types of credit scores, credit reporting agencies and credit monitoring services in the market. Visit their websites to learn about their scores and services. Here is a list of providers most often used by consumers and industry.

CreditXpert Score Affinion www.privacyguard.com www.identitysecure.com
Experian PLUS Score Experian www.experian.com www.freecreditscore.com www.freecreditreport.com www.familysecure.com
Equifax Credit Score Equifax www.equifax.com
FICO Score EquifaxFICO www.equifax.com www.myfico.com
VantageScore TransUnionVertrue www.transunion.com www.truecredit.com www.privacymatters.com
www.freescore.com
www.creditdiagnosis.com
www.creditadapter.com

Original Article @:sfgate.com

 

 

Will a wage garnishment affect your credit score?

July 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Will a wage garnishment affect your credit score?

A wage garnishment, which results after a court order says a lender can obtain money a borrower owes by going through the borrower’s employer, won’t show up on your credit report and therefore, won’t impact your credit score.

“Garnishments do not have a direct impact on your credit scores because they are not picked up by the credit bureaus and placed on credit files,” John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for SmartCredit.com, tells MainStreet.

An Experian spokesperson also confirmed with MainStreet that the credit bureau does not receive information about wage garnishments.

“Although garnishment proceedings are a matter of public court record, they are not reported on Equifax consumer credit files,” a spokesperson from Equifax also told MainStreet.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t send up a red flag to lenders that you can’t pay back your debts and shouldn’t qualify for a loan.

“Garnishments aren’t a secret to prospective lenders,” Ulzheimer says. “Applications for things like mortgages will usually ask for obligations and liabilities, and you’ll have to disclose the fact that your wages are being garnished.”

http://www.mainstreet.com/article/moneyinvesting/credit/debt/credit-qa-will-wage-garnishment-affect-my-score

By Jeanine Skowronski