How Can You Change Your Credit Score in 30 Days?

The heat is on! You want to improve your credit and you want to get it done NOW!

If raising your credit seems impossible, take a step back from the big hairy goal and tackle the beast one step at a time.

There’s no “instant” button, but there are things you can do now that will help increase your score.

The unfortunate truth about raising your credit score: There is no quick fix.

Hitting the reset button sounds tempting — especially when faced with a less than stellar credit score; but starting over with a blank slate will only set you back further.

Now that a forewarning is out of the way, on to the good stuff: Actionable tips to raise your credit score swiftly and without financial risk. You can expect most of these tips to affect your credit score in about 30 to 60 days, the typical time that’s considered speedy.

How to increase your credit score

    1. Request a copy of your credit report and look for errors

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission found that one in five consumers carried an error on their credit report. If you find an error, dispute it. Removing negative marks made in error will help you return to your correct score.

    1. Write a negotiation letter to your credit bureau

If a negotiation letter doesn’t work, contact the company reporting a late payment to ask if it will campaign for the removal. If a payment was incorrectly reported (see No. 1), or if you simply forgot a bill when you’re usually 100% on the ball, you may be able to get the late payment removed.

  1. Stop using your credit cards You can lower your credit utilization rate in two conventional ways: Lower your spending and increase your credit. Your credit score is largely determined by the amount of debt (credit card and loan balances) compared with your credit limits. Spending around one-third of your credit limit is the recommended credit line, but crossing that debt-to-credit threshold won’t help your score. Alternatively, you can request an increase in your credit or open a new card as a way of increasing your credit-to-spending ratio, but this is a risky move if your spending doesn’t slow down. Be wary of raising limits if it wouldn’t be financially feasible to pay back any and all spending.
  2. Don’t apply for multiple forms of credit in a short time Each time you request a new form of credit, including car and home loans, etc, you’ll likely face a credit inquiry. Too many inquiries within a short time and the credit bureaus may ding your credit. Keep this in mind as you request credit increases or open up new accounts. Both actions may result in one too many credit pulls and consequently, a decrease in your credit score.
  3. Settle late payments — then automate your payment schedule Timely bill pay is gut-wrenching when you’re financially strapped, but proactively settling bills will make future payments easier. Credit bureaus count a late payment starting from the first day of your last late payment, so the sooner you can square the bill, the better. This is particularly true if you can pay off past-due debts before they reach the 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day thresholds. It’s scary to confront the financial challenge, but it’s doable. Once you’ve settled any late payments, make future payments even simpler by automating. Automation avoids accidental missed payments and takes the mental clutter of scheduling multiple payments off your mind.
  4. Building credit builds long-lasting habits Approaching the daunting task of increasing your credit score with the long-term-training mindset helps you build long-lasting habits that strengthen your financial foundation.

Source:  Trulia Blog

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 4:10 pm
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4 Big Reasons to Become a Homeowner This Year

And the results are in!  This is the year you’ve been waiting for…read on grasshopper!

Still on the fence about becoming a homeowner? While owning a home comes with many responsibilities, its financial and personal benefits can prove it to be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

1.Tax Breaks

One of the greatest perks of becoming a home owner is being able to save a little bit on taxes. In the U.S. most homeowners are allowed to deduct money off the interest they pay on their mortgage every month.  Not only is your home interest partially deductible, you can oftentimes get money back on extra cash you’ve spent on refinancing, a home equity loan or line of credit.  Each homeowner’s financial situation is different, but be sure to inquire about the great financial perks available to you when you invest in a home.

2.Plant Your Roots

Before becoming a homeowner, you probably jumped from rental to rental every few years (or maybe even more). How do you know if you’re ready to take the leap from renting to buying? While it can be nice to have a change of scenery every once in a while, the money you spend on moving, security deposits and other fees can really take a toll on your savings.  One of the great benefits of owning a home is having the opportunity to plant yourself in one, secure place and really make a life for yourself there.  Being that you’ll live in the same residence for a long period of time, you’ll likely build lasting relationships with neighbors and play an active role in your community.  And if you choose to raise a family in this home, your surroundings become a part of your family history, allowing you to make lasting memories.

3. Be Your Own Boss

While renting may come with fewer responsibilities than owning a home, you’re often confined to the rules of the property’s owners.  When you own a home, you’re free to paint the walls any color, plant whatever you’d like in your garden and even adopt furry friends you never were allowed to before.  Your home should be a place you can express yourself freely and live comfortably in.

4.Build Equity

Along with getting a sizable tax break, having the opportunity to build equity is another great financial benefit to owning a home. As you pay off your loan over time, you build more and more equity. Equity equates to whatever amount you have paid off on your home and no longer owe.  If you decide to sell your home down the line, having equity plus any increase in the current market value of your property can put you in a really great position financially.  When you rent a home, you aren’t building any equity at all and have nothing you can walk away with.

Source: Dreamcasa.org

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 3:55 pm
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Pop Quiz: How Well Versed Are You in Home Mortgage Loans?

If you are in the market for a new home, then you’d better read up!  No matter how much you know regarding mortgages, its never too late to learn.

A lot of Americans are caught up in a mortgage nightmare simply because they didn’t dive into the process with some preparation. With a little studying and education, getting a home mortgage can become a far less stressful endeavor.

Here are a few questions that can help you go into the home mortgage process with more knowledge and confidence. Although this quiz doesn’t cover everything you should know,  it’s certainly a good start:

Question 1: What is the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval?

Answer: Pre-qualification is the first step in the mortgage process that involves supplying a bank or lender your financial information in order to find out how much you can borrow on a loan. Pre-approval is when you and your mortgage banker review your credit report to determine if you’re worthy of qualifying for a particular loan amount.

Question 2: What are the two big cash expenditures that require having money on hand to buy a home?

Down payment and closing costs.

Question 3: Generally, a monthly mortgage payment is made up of four different components commonly referred to as “PITI.” What are they?

Answer: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.

Question 4: Why is it recommended to make one extra payment a year for people on 30-year fixed mortgages?

Answer: Since extra payments cut down the principle of your loan (and not interest), giving one additional payment a year can shorten your loan term by a decade.

Question 5: What is the downside to a subprime mortgage?

Answer: Although subprime mortgages come with lower introductory interest rates, they increase significantly after a number of years.

Question 6: What does LTV stand for and how do you determine it?

LTV stands for loan to value ratio. To find out an LTV, divide the loan amount by the appraised value of the house. So if your home is worth $200,000 and the loan amount is $100,000, then the LTV is 50%.

Question 7: There are three term lengths you can get for a fixed-rate mortgage. What are they?

Answer: 15 year, 20 year, and 30-year terms are your options for a fixed-rate mortgage.

Question 8: Of the mortgage rates mentioned in the last question, which one do most people find the easiest to qualify for?

30-year mortgages since a longer term means lower, more affordable payments. The fact that longer terms also mean bigger tax deductions also plays a role.

Question 9: Is it a good idea to get an ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage) if you plan on owning a home for a long time?

Answer: No. Since the interest rate on ARMs change along with market rates, they are unpredictable. An ARM is only recommended if you’re staying in a home for a short period of time.

Question 10: Lenders will look at your job history when considering offering you a loan. A red flag for them is if you haven’t been at your current job for at least how many years?

Lenders like to see that you’ve kept the same employment for at least two years. This also applies to people who are self-employed and part-time employees.

Question 11: What is it called when you owe more than your house is worth?

Answer: Owing more than your house is worth is called being “upside-down” on your mortgage.

Question 12: Is it OK to open a new credit account during the mortgage process in order to help pay for moving expenses, new furniture, etc?

Answer: No. Since everything must be documented with payment amounts and account statements, doing so can affect your debt-to-income ratio.

Source: DreamCasa.org

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 3:51 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: credit score, financing, first time buyers, mortgage, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

You’ve decided to go for it. You know mortgage rates are enticingly low. Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for first-time homebuyers. It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect.

Take these five steps to make the process go more smoothly.

Check Your Credit
Your credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.

“In addition, the standards are higher in terms of what score you need and how it affects the cost of the loan,” says Mike Winesburg, formerly a mortgage planner in Wheeling, W. Va.

Scour your credit reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts.
Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn’t mean your credit is stellar. The amount of credit you’re using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score.

The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.

Repairing damaged credit takes time. If you think your credit may need work, begin the repair process at least six months before shopping for a home.

Evaluate Assets and Liabilities
A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of money they owe and money they have coming in.

“If I were a first-time homebuyer and I wanted to do everything right, I would probably try to track my spending for a couple of months to see where my money was going,” Winesburg says.

Additionally, buyers should have an idea of how lenders will view their income, and that requires becoming familiar with the basics of mortgage lending.

For instance, some professionals, such as the self-employed or straight-commission salesperson, may have a more difficult time getting a loan than others.

The self-employed or independent contractor will need a solid two years’ earnings history to show, according to Winesburg.

Organize Documents
When applying for mortgages, you must document income and taxes.

Typically, mortgage lenders will request two recent pay stubs, the previous two years’ W-2s, tax returns and the past two months of bank statements—every page, even the blank ones.

“Why it has to be every single last page, I don’t know. But that is what they want to see. I think they look for nonsufficient funds or odd money in or out,” says Floyd Walters, owner of a mortgage company in La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

Qualify Yourself
Ideally, you already know how much you can afford to spend before the mortgage lender tells you how much you qualify for.

By calculating debt-to-income ratio and factoring in a down payment, you will have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly.

Though there’s not a fixed debt-to-income ratio that lenders require, the standard dictates that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income be devoted to housing costs. This percentage is called the front-end ratio.

The back-end ratio shows what portion of income covers all monthly debt obligations. Lenders prefer the back-end ratio to be 36 percent or less, but some borrowers get approved with back-end ratios of 45 percent or higher.

Figure Out Your Down Payment
It takes effort to scrape together the down payment.

There are programs that can assist buyers with qualifying incomes and situations.

“I’ve helped arrange assistance loans for $10,000, which are interest- and payment-free, and forgivable after five years. Although considered a loan, they’re more like grants. Other programs can provide up to $40,000 interest-free,” Winesburg says.

Finally, speak with mortgage lenders when you’re starting the process. Check with friends, co-workers and neighbors to find out which lenders they enjoyed working with and ask them questions about the process and what other steps first-time homebuyers should take.

Posted on March 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm
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Get Your Credit Score Ready for Homebuying Season!

Getting ready to buy a home this spring? Make sure there aren’t any cracks in your credit. A good credit score is essential when it comes to securing a mortgage.

“If (your score is) below 600, you’re probably not going to buy a home in the short term,” says Mike Sullivan, director of education at nonprofit credit and debt counseling agency Take Charge America.

Given the slew of stringent regulation introduced following the housing crisis, most lenders simply won’t risk extending this demographic credit. In fact, even consumers with good scores should polish up the ol’ credit report.

Qualifying for the best mortgage rates starts at a 740 credit score. Scores below that threshold will likely have higher interest on their home loans.

So if you plan on hitting up the housing market this April, make sure to pull a copy of your credit report and check to see where your score stands.

Check Your Status

Under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or Credit CARD Act, everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau every year.

Obtain a copy of this report from AnnualCreditReport.com. It won’t come with your score—you can purchase that for a nominal fee. But there also are websites that offer free versions of your score year-round.

A recent version of your credit report will show you where you stand in terms of creditworthiness. The report should also spell out what you need to do to improve your score.

“You don’t have to entirely guess,” Sullivan says. “You simply look at what (the score) takes into account and you deal with those issues.”

Get Current

You’ll definitely want to address any delinquent accounts on your record.

“If you are behind, you want to bring those up to date as soon as possible,” says Kathryn Moore, a certified consumer credit counselor with GreenPath Debt Solutions. Delinquent accounts are a huge red flag to mortgage lenders because they demonstrate a lack of ability to repay debts.

They’re also the quickest way to tank your credit score. A missed payment—particularly following an extended period of good credit behavior—can cause a drop of 70 to 90 points.

Sadly, you won’t immediately recoup all those points once the account is reported as up to date.

Instead, “you need to be patient and make all of your payments on time and slowly build your score up” again, says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America.

The role that time plays in building stellar credit is why it’s ideally “a good idea to look at your credit at least a year out” of shopping for a mortgage, says Bruce McClary, a spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Getting a Quick Boost

If you are behind this timeline, there are a few steps you can take to potentially give your score a quick boost.

For starters, scan your credit report for accuracy. An error—such as an old, bad debt; incorrect account balance; or worse yet, a phantom foreclosure—could be needlessly weighing down your score. Have these errors corrected by contacting the credit bureau in question.

“There’s a link (on your credit report) to dispute any inaccurate information,” Moore says. “The credit bureau from there will have to resolve that dispute within 30 days.” Once a negative error is removed, your score should improve.

You can also engineer a quick boost by paying down existing debts, particularly high credit card balances. This move improves your credit utilization rate—essentially how much debt you are carrying versus how much credit has been extended to you — and should bolster your score.

Experts generally say to keep your credit utilization below 20 to 30 percent of your collective credit. However, “you really want to get that ratio down to rock bottom if you’re looking for a house,” McClary says.

Clearing out existing balances will also improve your debt-to-income ratio, which a “lender looks at” closely during their mortgage decision process, Moore says.

Lenders typically say the “back-end” debt-to-income ratio—or the amount of your income that is needed to cover all your monthly debt obligations, including credit card bills and other loans—should be 36 percent or lower.

Finally, if you recently missed a loan payment because you, say, didn’t know about the bill, try calling up the issuer (or lender) to see if they will refrain from letting the credit bureaus know about your faux pas.

What to Avoid

Once you have your score in the upper echelon, make sure it stays there. Avoid running up your credit card balances again, which will help keep your credit utilization in check.

Also avoid applying for other loans, including store credit cards, particularly in an attempt to improve this aforementioned credit utilization rate. Applying for new credit generates hard inquiries on your credit report, which could ding your score.

And “if those inquiries don’t necessarily show up as approved accounts, that sends up a red flag” to lenders because it could look like you were turned down for a credit line, McClary says.

Not to mention that you’re more likely to miss a payment when you have multiple cards at your disposal, Brobeck says.

Conversely, don’t close any accounts while you are looking for a mortgage, as the closure could send your credit utilization skyrocketing in the wrong direction.

Source: RisMedia/Bankrate.com

Posted on March 4, 2017 at 11:50 pm
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What You Need to Know Before Buying Mortgage Insurance

If you’re like many borrowers who have less than 20 percent of a home’s value in equity or saved for a down payment, you need to know how mortgage insurance affects the cost of buying a home.

What Is Mortgage Insurance?
Mortgage insurance—also known as private mortgage insurance, or PMI—protects lenders from default on conventional mortgages in cases in which the borrower contributes a down payment of less than 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. PMI is different from homeowners insurance, which protects the home and what’s in it. It’s also different from mortgage protection insurance or mortgage life insurance, which is an insurance policy that pays off the mortgage loan if the borrower passes away. Mortgage insurance is beneficial to both lenders and borrowers. Mortgage insurance lowers a lender’s risk of giving a loan to borrowers with a low down payment. It also benefits the borrower, who, with mortgage insurance, might now qualify for a mortgage he wouldn’t otherwise get approved for.

What You’ll Pay for Mortgage Insurance
The cost of mortgage insurance depends on the type of home loan you have. You could pay anywhere from 0.3 percent to 1.15 percent of your home loan, according to realtor.com®.

Although insurance premium payments usually get paid monthly, you might have the option to pay it up front at closing or roll it into the home loan cost. Check with your lender.

Mortgage Insurance for Different Types of Home Loans
Mortgage insurance programs vary depending on the type of home loan. Generally, mortgage insurance is required when you get a conventional mortgage and put down less than 20 percent, or when you refinance a mortgage and your home equity is less than 20 percent.

Other types of mortgage insurance include:

  • Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance (mortgage insurance premium): An MIP is required for all FHA loans. All borrowers pay their mortgage premiums directly to the FHA, and premiums are the same for everyone regardless of credit score—though if your down payment is less than 5 percent, you can expect to pay a little more. If you get an FHA loan, budget for both monthly MIP costs as part of your regular payment and an upfront payment included in your closing costs. FHA mortgage insurance rates are usually about 0.625 percent.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture home loan insurance: U.S. Department of Agriculture insurance covers USDA home loans. It’s a lot like FHA mortgage insurance but less expensive. USDA home loan insurance requires making a payment both at closing and as part of your monthly payments. You have the option to roll the upfront cost into your mortgage, but if you do this, you’ll increase both your monthly payment and your overall loan cost.
  • VA home loan guarantee: VA loans come with a mortgage guarantee instead of mortgage insurance, but it provides similar benefits. Instead of a monthly mortgage insurance premium, you’ll pay a funding fee upfront. The fee amount varies depending on factors like your military service type, down payment amount, disability eligibility, whether you are purchasing or refinancing, and if you’ve had a previous VA loan.

Alternatives to Mortgage Insurance
Although there are benefits to mortgage insurance, having it adds to the cost of getting a home loan. If you want to cut costs or are ready to get rid of PMI, consider these five alternatives to mortgage insurance.

Pay a higher interest rate.
When financing a home, some lenders might offer the option to avoid PMI by accepting a higher interest rate. If you choose this option, the higher mortgage rate cannot get canceled, so you’ll have to refinance to lower your rate in the future.

Get your home reappraised.
If you believe you now have at least 20 percent equity in your home due to renovations or the rising local property values, get your home reappraised. You might have enough equity to cancel your mortgage insurance, but you’ll have to pay for the appraisal up front.

Get a piggyback loan.
Whether your lender calls them piggyback loans or piggyback mortgages, these home equity loans or credit lines enable borrowers with low down payments to borrow more money. Before applying or signing for one, review the fine print carefully to see if your total monthly cost is actually cheaper than paying for mortgage insurance.

Ask your lender about other programs.
Some lenders offer programs that don’t require mortgage insurance, even with down payments below 20 percent, though you’ll likely have to prove that you have excellent credit to qualify. Before talking to your lender, focus on building your credit history, especially if you or your spouse has bad credit.

Save more for a down payment.
Sometimes it pays to wait and save up or to choose a home that requires a down payment you can afford. If you save 20 percent of the home’s purchase price to use as a down payment, you might qualify for a conventional mortgage without mortgage insurance. A conventional loan comes with a lower interest rate, and you’ll be able to avoid the headache of comparing mortgage insurance rates altogether.
Source: Rismedia

Posted on February 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm
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6 Myths about Credit Scores

Posted on February 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm
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