8 Ways To Maintain A Great Credit Score

8 Ways To Maintain A Great Credit ScoreHaving an excellent credit score is very useful. The following are some tips on how to maintain a superb credit score.

Open Credit Accounts When You Do Not Need Them

If you don’t have any credit accounts, you will have a low score. The best time to open them is when you do not need them. Keep a small balance on them and pay it all off at the end of each month to avoid paying interest.

Charge Up To Half The Credit Limit Then Pay It All Back Within A Few Months

If you must use a credit line, only use half of it and pay it back quickly.

Buy Big Ticket Items With A Credit Card For Cash Back And Points

Even if you can pay cash for a big ticket item, you may find it beneficial to buy it with a card that gives a reward for making a purchase like cash back or rewards points. Then pay off the balance as quickly as you can.

Ask For An Increased Credit Line

For credit accounts that you have been paying on time, call the customer service department and tell them you are thinking about buying something that is slightly above your credit limit. Ask them if they can extend the limit. This usually works even if you do not actually buy something.

You can attempt to raise your credit limit this way about once per year. As you increase your available credit capacity while maintaining all accounts in a “paid as agreed” status, your credit score should go up.

Move Credit Balances To A New Card With Zero Interest

Many credit card companies offer a zero-interest period for transfers of credit card balances from another card. After doing this, transfer this balance, once again, to another card that has a similar offer before the zero-interest period expires.

Close Old Accounts When New Ones Are Open

Having too many credit card accounts can lower your score. Keep about half a dozen cards. Close the ones that you transferred the balance from to zero interest cards.

Use Automatic Payments To Make Sure Bills Are Paid On Time

Never miss a payment or pay late. You may want to use automatic bill payment systems to make sure you never let a bill slip by.

Monitor Credit Card Activity For Unauthorized Use

Monitor all credit card activity in real time. Immediately take action if you notice an unauthorized charge. Monitor your credit history file on the three credit bureau services of Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.

Your trusted home mortgage professional can provide you with additional guidelines to improve and maintain your credit while preparing to purchase or refinance your home. Be sure to contact this valuable resource if you have any questions.

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy Homes

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy HomesMillennials face numerous challenges when buying their first homes. 55% of young adults between 25 and 34 years old don’t own homes as compared to 80% in 1967, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Buying a home is tough with the $1.4 trillion student loan debt, growing childcare expenses and rising rental costs. However, hope is not lost. Millennials can realize the quintessential dream of owning a home.

Millennials can employ several strategies to plan for home ownership without selling their kidneys. Here are five ways to do just that.

Develop A Realistic Budget 

Now is a great time to examine your finances and create a budget for a house you can really afford. Lenders may be able to approve you for a larger loan amount than what you thought possible. Therefore, it’s imperative to be realistic when deciding on the amount of home mortgage payment you can afford comfortably per month.

Make Sacrifices 

Not long ago, someone said (and probably regretted) Millennials can’t save enough to buy homes because they are spend extravagantly. Well, saving thousands of dollars for down payment isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. And there are many low to no down payment programs available if you check with your trusted mortgage professional first.

You may have to sacrifice and cut unnecessary expenditures such as buying new outfits and even getting a new car. Living minimally can help pad your personal savings to propel you into owning a house.

Consider The Suburbs 

Although it’s vital to stay near family and a lively social location, consider purchasing a house in a suburban area, where houses are typically more affordable. Plus, if you have pets they will love the larger lots and yards giving them space to play.

You can choose a less populated state where you will probably have a higher chance of affording a home. Although this may not be ideal, if owning your own place tops your list, then location will not stand in the way.

Use State And Federal Programs 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) gives home buyers the chance to purchase houses with a very low down payment. This lower amount is quite attainable if you save toward this goal.  Some states also offer supplemental programs beyond the FHA program. Find out whether you can access extra grants and subsidies.

Get Your Hustle In Gear 

Although most millennials struggle with unemployment, if you have one job, look for other ways to make extra dollars. You may consider driving for rideshare services, freelance gigs and running errands for people as a way to temporarily boost your earning potential.

Owning a place to call home is great. Like anyone else millennials can buy homes. Talk to a home finance expert and your trusted mortgage professional for more information on how you can make your best investment.

5 Home-Buying Pitfalls To Avoid

5 Home-Buying Pitfalls To AvoidBuying your home can be nerve-racking, especially if it’s the first time. The buying process is exciting and often complex. The chances of making a mistake are relatively high.

In today’s real estate market where demand surpasses supply, you can’t afford to make mistakes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are in the market to buy a house, here are five pitfalls avoid.

Not Doing Your Homework Well 

Fortune favors the prepared in real estate. And preparedness begins with understanding your finances. A wise buyer examines assets, analyzes debts and gets finances pre-approved before jumping into the house hunt.

Know the neighborhood well, since you’re also buying a location. It’s paramount to research about the quality of schools, upcoming zoning issues and crime level. Not all suburb spots are ideal to live in.

Picking The Wrong Mortgage 

Getting your loan pre-approved puts you in a better position to negotiate. Find out how much property you can afford. Don’t rely on your bank’s internet site only. Instead, use calculators and consult with your trusted mortgage professional to find out how much you can borrow.

It’s worth noting that what banks show they can lend can differ with what they will lend. As such, it’s imperative to choose your mortgage carefully. Compare offers from various banks or consult an independent finance broker.

Going With The Market Flow 

Resist the temptation to flow with the market rather than your needs. The real estate market goes in cycles. There are times suitable for buyers, and times suitable for sellers.

However, don’t gamble with your future by sitting and waiting for the right time. Once you know your budget, get your finances organized, think about your needs now and in future. Then use short term market conditions to make long-term lifestyle choices.

Exceeding Your Budget 

Most homebuyers fall for the trap of picking more appealing properties that cost more than their budgets. Falling into this pitfall can derail your future finances.

Although it’s human nature to yearn for more than we can afford, resist the desire. Surpassing your budget exposes you to potential financial shocks with bigger payments, property taxes and more.

Falling In Love 

If you find the perfect house, keep it to yourself. Don’t let the sellers read your emotions. If they do, they may use them against you while negotiating.

Wise buyers know there are several homes out there, and there is one that’s right for them. And if you can’t afford one or your offer isn’t accepted, keep looking and move on.

Buying a home is rejuvenating. However, if you’re not careful, you can make mistakes you may regret later. Consult with your trusted real estate expert and trusted mortgage professional to get the best advice for your situation.

 

 

Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage Ready

Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage ReadyYou probably already know that qualifying for a mortgage can be the biggest hurdle — aside from actually finding that dream property — along the path to home ownership.

Rather than agonizing about it, however, there are some positive actions you can take in advance to help you realize your dream.

Take A Close Look At Your Budget

If you don’t currently operate with a comprehensive household budget, get started now to analyze your income and monitor your spending habits. There’s no better way to prepare for home ownership than by being realistic about how you spend your money. If you don’t have a regular savings program, or if you’re constantly short on cash prior to the next payday, take steps to remedy the problem. Plan for the future by getting the present in check.

Gather Employment And Earnings Records

Mortgage lenders want to see stability and commitment. Finding and organize your employment records to show a consistent earnings pattern and, hopefully, a record of growth, both in terms of income and responsibility. Simplify the task of gathering required documents by collecting all records in a binder or notebook that can easily be copies when it’s time to submit them to a lender. It’s a confidence-building step as well.

Organize Your Banking Records

Lenders will not only want to see employment records, but they will require copies of all bank and investment accounts as well. Again, by being organized and getting a handle on your dollar inflow and outflow, you’ll gain insights into your individual spending habits and make the job easier for a mortgage specialist.

Make Copies Of Your Tax Returns

Tax returns confirm and validate all the other financial information that you will be required to supply. Typically, returns for the past two or three years will be required. If you own a small business or have income in addition to that from paid employment, make copies of those records as well.

Put A Halt To Spending

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate your serious intent to purchase — and pay for — a new home is by curtailing your spending on impulse purchases and expensive entertainment. This is not the time to buy a new car, book an exotic vacation, purchase major electronics or even home furnishings, or commit to time payments of any sort. Frugality should become your mantra in the months leading up to loan qualification.

Monitor Your Credit Cards

If your credit rating is within acceptable limits, do what you can to make all payments on time, pay down balances, minimize new purchases and demonstrate your continuing ability to “live within your means.” Do not apply for new credit cards, no matter how tempting the offers, because increased account activity can adversely affect your FICO score. In addition, if you have a blip on your credit report, do what you can to repair it prior to making a mortgage loan application, or be prepared to explain the circumstances, in detail and in writing.

Applying for a loan need not be scary; understanding the financial reality, however, is a great benefit.

Contact us for assistance in organizing your documents and aligning you with your best financing options.

Mistakes Seasoned Home Buyers Often Make

Mistakes Seasoned Home Buyers Often MakeIt’s not uncommon today to move several times during adulthood, whether across town or across the country. Seasoned home buyers have been through the real estate process, often more than once. However, even if the home purchase has become routine, there are mistakes that can be avoided.

Stuck In The Past

The real estate market doesn’t stand still. It cycles and shifts, which is why it’s often recommended to rely on a real estate professional for an understanding of the current market. Home buyers with property purchased ten years ago, likely won’t have the same experience buying today. Don’t get stuck in the past, thinking the process will play out the same. It may, but it’s important to be ready for changes.

Skipping Homework

Whether upgrading to a larger home to accommodate a growing family or downsizing as the nest empties, it’s essential to do the homework before placing the current home on the market and committing to a new one. Certain homework needs to be done before beginning the buying process, especially if the purchase is reliant on the sale of the current home.

  • Determine if buying with cash or need to sell current home.
  • If need to sell current home first, will seller of new home offer contingency?
  • Is a flexible timeline needed for closing on current home/buying new?

Working out these types of critical details, even for seasoned home buyers, can be daunting, which is why it can be helpful to have a trusted real estate agent.

Allowing Emotions To Lead

Maybe the current house wasn’t the “forever” home. Seasoned home buyers, just like first-timers, can find themselves lost in emotions when searching for the perfect house. It’s a pitfall every home buyer should work to avoid. The home may have some of the exact features desired or be in the ideal location, but if it doesn’t fit the budget or has other issues, it’s not the right one.

Overextending Resources

Home buying is an exciting experience and it can be easy to become caught up in the process. However, overextending resources can make life after the purchase difficult. To help protect against overextension of resources later, always factor in the following when buying a home:

  • Budget
  • Time
  • DIY Abilities

Overextending on budget can directly affect the ability to make any needed repairs and if schedules are hectic, there might not be enough time for projects. In addition, it’s important to honestly take stock of DIY ability, and it’s okay to acknowledge that some jobs/repairs will require professionals or some level of assistance.

The key for seasoned home buyers, as well as first-timers, is to never be afraid to ask questions, make lists, and rely on professional help from a real estate agent.

Lastly, it’s important to meet with your trusted mortgage professional to get pre-approved for your new loan and to learn about your financing options.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week: March 4th, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This WeekU.S. Budget Stalemate, Italian Elections Stir Concerns

Mortgage rates were lower last week as investors sought safety in bonds in the wake of US legislators’ failure to agree on budget cutbacks, and after Italy’s elections failed to reveal a leader committed to continuing economic reform.

When bond prices including Mortgage Backed Securities rise, mortgage rates typically fall.

While the March 1st deadline for passing budget cutbacks for the U.S. government passed without a resolution, emergency legislation passed last year will keep the government running until March 27.

If a budget is not passed by then, the federal government could face shutdown.

As it stands, $85 billion in cuts are scheduled over the next seven months, but this represents only about 2 percent of the federal budget.

Investor concerns are likely to rise if the March 27 deadline approaches without a resolution.

Italian Elections Influence Investor Sentiment

On Monday, Italian elections were held, but the results did not reveal a leader dedicated to continuing economic reforms necessary for stabilizing Italy’s economy.

Another round of elections may be required to determine Italy’s new leader.

There is deep conflict in Italy as citizens do not agree with the need for economic austerity measures.

As the Eurozone’s third largest economy, Italy’s division on future economic reforms raises two concerns for investors.

First, without a clear reform leader established in last week’s elections, Investors fear that austerity measures may be relaxed and increase Italy’s debt risk.

A less likely risk is that Italy may leave the EU if it cannot resolve its need for economic reforms with its citizens’ wishes.

Upcoming Economic Releases

The coming week’s scheduled economic releases include:

  • Ongoing developments regarding the U.S. budget and aftermath of the Italian elections are expected to continue influencing U.S. financial markets.
  • On Tuesday ISM Services Index for February will be released. Wednesday’s news includes the Fed’s Beige Book Report for March and Factory Orders for January.
  • Thursday’s scheduled economic news releases include Productivity and Trade Balance reports. Friday finishes the week’s economic news with the Employment report, which includes job and unemployment data for February.

As spring approaches, demand for homes typically increases, which in turn may drive up home prices and mortgage rates.

Consider getting pre-approved for a mortgage and looking for your new home sooner than later.

Clever Tips for Paying Off Your Colorado Springs Home Mortgage Faster

Paying off the mortgage on your Colorado Springs home faster not only means that you’ll be able to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with completely owning your property sooner, but you may also save thousands of dollars in mortgage interest payments over time.

Below are seven clever tips to help you get your mortgage payments on the fast track.

Save for a large down payment
Make as large of a down payment as you can reasonably afford. The more cash you can put down, the less you’ll have to borrow from the bank. This will reduce your monthly mortgage obligation.

Read the fine print
When you are choosing a mortgage, ask your lender if there are restrictions related to paying extra principal monthly. Some lenders will charge you for making extra or early payments.

Prepay early in the life of the mortgage
The early years of a mortgage are interest-heavy. On a 30-year mortgage, throughout the first five to seven years, you payments are mostly interest. Request an amortization schedule of your mortgage to get a clear picture of how this works.

Be smart with unexpected fortune
If you get an unexpected chunk of cash, such as a gift, prize, work bonus, inheritance, tax refund or other windfall, consider applying it directly toward paying down the principal on your mortgage.

Double-check your records
When you make extra payments, ensure that they are processed correctly. Sometimes when the lender receives a payment that is outside of the monthly cycle, they may not know what to do with it. Make a special note and keep track of the payments yourself, so you can make sure they’ve been applied to your principal.

Increase your payment
Even increasing your monthly mortgage payment by a small amount may take years off the length of your mortgage. Consider how much additional you can afford to pay every month rather than just the minimum required payment amount.

Think about a bi-weekly payment
Many lenders offer accelerated, bi-weekly mortgage payment programs which can reduce your loan term by several years, saving mortgage interest over the life of the loan.

These are just a few techniques you can use to pay off your mortgage more quickly. Remember, the fewer years you pay on your home loan, the less mortgage interest you will pay over time.

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