Will the new tax law save you money or cost you money? The answer depends on a complex array of factors
How Much Do You Know About Your Credit Score?
By Barbara Pronin
RISMEDIA, Thursday, June 22, 2017— While your credit score affects everything from your ability to buy a car or a home to how much interest you will pay on the loan, many people don't know how these scores are calculated or what impacts them positively or negatively.
Moreover, says the Credit Federation of America (CFA), more than 25 percent of respondents in a recent survey did not know that a low credit score could increase the cost of a car loan by $5,000. More than half didn't realize that utility companies, cellphone companies, and even insurers sometimes check credit scores before issuing services—or that multiple inquiries in a short time, as when you are shopping for a loan, are treated as one inquiry in order to minimize the impact on your score.
The CFA provides more about credit scores that every consumer should know:
All your credit scores are not the same. Most people assume their credit score is a single three-digit number, but each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) scores you differently, since they don't necessarily have the exact same data in their files.
Closing old accounts will not necessarily boost your scores. Closing old or inactive accounts may inadvertently lower your credit score because now your credit history appears shorter. If you want to simplify, close newer credit accounts first, or put the cards away so you don't use them, but your credit history stays intact.
Paying off a bad debt will not erase it from your score. Once a debt goes to collection, or you've established a history of late payments, you will deal with the consequences even if you pay off what you owe. It will show as paid, but it is not erased. Also, while your score will get a boost if you pay off an old debt, it may not be by as much as you think. The best way to increase your scores and keep them high is to make payments on time every month over the long haul.
Co-signing for a loan impacts your scores. When you co-sign for someone else's loan, you are responsible for the debt—and if the person your co-signed for does not pay, your credit score will be impacted.
A just-released report reveals underwater properties are steadily declining, with more than one million shifting status in 2016—a possible turning point in the ongoing inventory crisis.
How tough is it to get approved for a mortgage?
By Kenneth R. Harney
December 14, 2016
They are the three biggest snares for home buyers seeking mortgages, and if you focus on them in advance you're much less likely to have your application denied. This is especially true if you're buying - or planning to buy - your first home.
So what are they? A recently completed Federal Reserve study covering millions of mortgage applications found that flunking the debt-to-income (DTI) test is the No. 1 reason that loan applicants get rejected.
No. 2: Issues over credit histories and scores.
No. 3: Property valuation problems, such as signing up for a house at a price higher than the actual market value.
They all spell trouble.
The study tapped into the massive databases compiled from federally mandatory reports that lenders file regarding mortgage applications. During 2015, according to researchers, 1 of every 8 loan applications for home purchases (12.1 percent) ended in a rejection. Denials were higher - nearly 14 percent - for borrowers seeking government-backed loans (FHA, VA, USDA), and lower - 10.8 percent - for those applying for conventional mortgages eligible for purchase by investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Turndowns because of excessive DTI ratios accounted for nearly a quarter of all denials (23.4 percent); credit issues were connected with 20.4 percent; concerns over property valuations contributed to 13.7 percent.
Debt-to-income ratios are crucially important to lenders. If yours is too high, it suggests that you're reaching beyond your ability to repay the loan: You've got too heavy a monthly debt load and not enough household income.
Say you have $6,000 a month in verifiable income, but your auto loans, credit cards, student loans and other monthly credit obligations come to $1,000. If the mortgage you're seeking will cost you $2,500 a month in principal, interest, taxes and insurance, your total monthly debt obligations will eat up 58 percent of your income - a DTI of 58.3 percent. That's way too high for most lenders and not a smart idea for you personally. You're likely to be turned down.
Far better if your income is $7,000 a month and you apply for a mortgage requiring lower payments - say, $2,000. Now your DTI is 42.8 percent, which squeezes you just under the federal 43 percent eligibility cutoff for a "qualified mortgage." Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may allow you to go to a 45 percent DTI, and FHA can stretch the limit a bit higher, but the fact remains: The lower your overall DTI, the safer you look to the lender and the less likely you are to be rejected.
Joe Petrowsky, a mortgage consultant with Right Trac Financial Group in Manchester, Conn., says student loans are major DTI killers for many applicants whom he sees. "They're a huge issue" for first-time buyers because these loans get factored into monthly debt calculations - and, in the case of FHA loans, even when payments are in deferred status.
Credit issues are in the same killer category. If there are serious dings on your credit reports because of late payments and if your FICO credit scores are depressed as a result, your application could be doomed at the gate. Of particular concern here: High "utilization" of your available credit. If you've got a $3,000 maximum limit on a credit card, don't let your unpaid balance get much beyond $1,000 (33 percent) or your score could begin to suffer. Absolutely avoid maxing out. Ditto on all other credit accounts with limits. The lower the utilization percentage, the better.
Gene Mundt, a mortgage originator with American Portfolio Mortgage in Palatine, Ill., says credit reports and scoring are such mysteries to so many borrowers that it's best to contact a loan officer four months before submitting an application. That way, he told me, "there's enough time to work on and correct" whatever problems could eventually lead to a rejection.
Appraisal issues might seem to be beyond a home buyer's direct control: After all, the lender hires the appraiser, not the buyer. But there's one thing that you can avoid: getting sucked into a bidding war that pushes the contract price beyond true market levels. According to valuation and analytics firm CoreLogic, 11.3 percent of home purchase appraisals ordered through that company's widely used system came in below the contract price.
Mundt's blunt advice: "Don't be the 'winner' in a bidding competition" that gets so out of line that it ultimately causes the mortgage financing to fall through. That's called losing.
Source: Washington Post
One of the most useful research projects of the National Association of REALTORS®(NAR) is the annual survey of homebuyers and sellers. It is particularly useful because it shows sellers and their agents what works and what sources buyers use to find their new homes.
As we return to a some what normal real estate market, the number of homeowners who either owe more than their property is worth or are unable because of other difficulties to pay their mortgage is down.