refinancing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12588/all en-US 9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_credit_card_000089299163.jpg" alt="Woman making money moves after credit cards are paid off" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It may have taken years. It may have required an unprecedented level of discipline and patience. But you finally have your credit cards paid off.</p> <p>Congratulations! Now, what do you do?</p> <p>With a good chunk of your high-interest debt no longer weighing you down, you can truly start to work your way toward financial freedom. Here are some key financial moves you can make immediately.</p> <h2>1. Tackle Any Other High-Interest Debt</h2> <p>Okay, so you crushed the credit card debt. What else do you owe? Take a look at things like auto loans, student loans, and your mortgage, and begin chipping away at that debt, as well. Go after the debt with the highest interest rate first. It's one thing to free of credit card debt, but to be totally, 100% debt free? That's an amazing feeling.</p> <h2>2. Assess Your Emergency Fund</h2> <p>When you're in debt, there's a good chance you don't have a lot of liquid savings. But now that those credit cards are paid off, you can start building up funds in case of a major unexpected expense or loss of income. By maintaining an account with at least three months of income, you can handle any financial crisis and know that you won't go back into debt.</p> <h2>3. Open a Retirement Account</h2> <p>It's impossible to think about retirement when you're huddled under a mountain of debt. But now that you've shed that high interest debt, you can start thinking about your long-term financial goals, including your retirement. If your employer offers a 401K plan, begin contributing now and seek to maximize the company match. (Usually, this is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5% of your income, though you can always contribute more.) Also consider opening an individual retirement account, or IRA. Opening a Roth IRA, which allows your money to grow tax free, is perfect for people who are self-employed, but is also a great complement to a 401K.</p> <h2>4. Find a Good Online Budgeting Tool</h2> <p>If you haven't already done so, consider using a service such as Mint or <a href="http://track.flexlinks.com/a.ashx?foid=1029882.216060&amp;fot=9999&amp;foc=1&amp;foc2=582907">Personal Capital</a>, which allows you to view all of your account information in one place and track your spending &mdash; even set up budgets and goals. Using one of these services will allow you to see exactly where your money is going, so you can adjust your spending, if needed.</p> <h2>5. Stop Using Your Cards for a While (But Don't Close Them)</h2> <p>Credit cards got you into trouble, so it might be good to just put them on ice for a while. But don't start canceling all your cards. If you close credit cards, you may actually hurt your credit score. You'll no longer have accounts with a long history, and your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">credit utilization ratio</a> will go up because you'll have less available credit. If you feel the need to get rid of cards, shed the one with the lowest credit limit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>6. Develop a New Charging Philosophy</h2> <p>If you successfully transitioned from carrying a credit card balance to being debt-free, you probably made an adjustment to how you use your cards. Now it's time to evaluate again how you use credit to ensure you stay out of the red. Do some research to find credit cards with favorable interest rates (and maybe even some good <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">cash back rewards</a>). Set up automatic transfers to pay off balances in full each month, and come up with rules to guide which purchases will be made with credit and which will be made with cash. It takes discipline to get out of debt, but it's just as much work to stay out. So set up a plan and do your best to stick to it.</p> <h2>7. Begin Saving for Big, Important Things</h2> <p>You may be out of debt, but you know that it could come right back if you don't save responsibly for the big ticket items. Whether it's a new house, car, or home appliance, it's best to try and pay for these things without taking on a lot of new debt. Consider taking whatever you were paying in credit card interest and setting it aside into a savings account, or even an index fund. Being able to pay cash for the pricey purchases will keep you from falling into the abyss of debt again.</p> <h2>8. Review Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>Looking at your credit report can be depressing when you're in debt. Who needs another reminder of how much they owe? But now that the debt is gone, it might be a good time to examine your credit reports to see if there are any errors, or even old debts you may have forgotten about. Your goal now is to improve your FICO credit score, and cleaning up your reports can play a big role in that. Each of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) provide a copy of your credit report once a year at no charge.</p> <h2>9. If You Have a Mortgage, Think About Refinancing</h2> <p>Your credit score may not improve right away after paying off your credit card debt, but if you keep yourself debt-free, it will rise over time. And that means that you'll be in a better position to negotiate with lenders for a better interest rate on your home loan. Mortgage rates are still historically low, so you might save thousands of dollars over the long-term by reducing your rate even slightly. And you could have enormous savings by reducing your loan term, as well.</p> <p><em>Have you paid off your credit card debt? What money moves did you make?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-credit-scores-and-reports-are-not-the-same">Here&#039;s Why Credit Scores and Reports Are Not the Same</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-you-dont-know-about-your-credit-report-but-should">13 Things You Don&#039;t Know About Your Credit Report — But Should</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-credit-score-affects-your-job-search">Here&#039;s How Your Credit Score Affects Your Job Search</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit report credit score emergency fund high interest debt refinancing retirement saving money Wed, 11 May 2016 10:30:05 +0000 Tim Lemke 1705411 at http://www.wisebread.com Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement? http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_payments_money_000007934078.jpg" alt="Learning if it&#039;s safe to refinance your home close to retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Lower mortgage rates can save you hundreds of dollars on your monthly payments. Refinancing your mortgage to a new one with a lower rate would then seem to make sense.</p> <p>But what if you're approaching retirement? Is refinancing a smart move when you're planning to leave the workforce in five years or less?</p> <p>Not surprisingly, the answer depends on your unique financial situation and your goal from a refinance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows">4 Mortgage Secrets Only Your Broker Knows</a>)</p> <h2>Consider the Time Factor</h2> <p>If your main goal is to reduce your monthly costs, refinancing might make sense. But if you plan on moving from your home shortly &mdash; in, say, less than five years &mdash; then a refinance might not be the best option. That's because refinancing a home loan isn't free. The typical refinance costs thousands of dollars &mdash; money that you'll usually roll into your new loan amount and pay off over time when you make your regular monthly payments.</p> <p>It might take you several years to save enough money each month to recover the closing costs. If you're moving too soon (and retirees often move from their homes sooner than they originally planned), you might not generate enough monthly savings to even pay back those initial closing costs.</p> <p>Then there's the time factor. A refinance, unless you are reducing the term of your loan at the same time, means that you'll be paying off your mortgage for a longer number of years. As a retiree, you might instead prefer to pay off your current mortgage in a shorter amount of time.</p> <p>&quot;One consideration is the length of the term on the new loan,&quot; said Arvin Sahakian, co-founder and vice president of BeSmartee, a start-up designed to help consumers search for mortgage loans online. &quot;When people refinance their mortgage, they are re-setting the loan term and essentially starting over again.&quot;</p> <p>As an example, if you are paying off a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage that you have been making payments on for 15 years, you'll have an additional 15 years left to pay off that loan. If you refinance that loan to a new 30-year one, you've just increased the lifespan of your mortgage by another 15 years. Do you want that monthly payment hovering over you for another 15 years, even if refinancing will result in immediate monthly savings?</p> <p>That's not an easy question to answer, especially when you consider how much of your payments on a new mortgage loan, even one with a lower interest rate, will go toward interest instead of principal.</p> <p>&quot;The first few years of mortgage payments on a new loan are designed to go toward the interest, and less towards the principal,&quot; Sahakian said. &quot;As the years go by, more of the monthly payments go toward the principal, and less toward the interest, so this is another important consideration.&quot;</p> <h2>What the Numbers Say</h2> <p>It's important for every homeowner to crunch some numbers before deciding to refinance. But it's <em>especially</em> important for those nearing retirement who might need to recover their refinancing closing costs in as few months as possible.</p> <p>Say you owe $150,000 on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of 5%. Your monthly payment, not including insurance and taxes, will be about $805. If you refinance that same amount to a 30-year fixed-rate loan with an interest rate of 3.95%, your monthly payment will drop to about $711 a month &mdash; a savings of about $94 a month, or $1,128 a year.</p> <p>That sounds good, right? But remember, refinancing can be expensive. Say refinancing that $150,000 costs $4,500 in closing fees. It will take you almost four years to save enough from your refinance to pay back these closings costs. Is that worth it? If you stay in your home for eight years or more, it might be. If you end up moving in five years, it might not be.</p> <p>But say you owe $200,000 on a 30-year fixed-rate loan with an interest rate of 5%. Then your monthly payment, again not counting taxes and insurance, would be about $1,073. If you refinance that $200,000 to a new 30-year fixed-rate loan but at an interest rate of 3.95%, your monthly payment would fall to about $949 a month. That's a savings of $124 a month, or $1,488 a year. If your loan closing cost that same $4,500, it would take you just a bit more than three years to generate enough savings to pay for your closing costs. That shorter time frame might make it more worthwhile for homeowners nearing retirement.</p> <p>There is another factor to consider, though. If you'll absolutely need to reduce your monthly living expenses after you retire, then refinancing might make sense, even if it will take you longer to recover the costs of closing.</p> <p>&quot;Many Americans who retire typically see their retirement income fall to nearly half of what they earned while they worked full time,&quot; Sahakian said. &quot;This is one of the considerations borrowers should account for when making a decision about refinancing. Will they be able to afford the monthly payments associated with the mortgage, insurance, and property taxes on their retirement income?&quot;</p> <p><em>Are you considering a home refinance?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows">4 Mortgage Secrets Only Your Broker Knows</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quicken-loans-review-competitive-rates-and-good-customer-service">Quicken Loans Review: Competitive Rates and Good Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-consider-an-adjustable-rate-mortgage">Why You Should Consider an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-freddie-mac-and-fannie-mae">Everything You Need to Know About Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Retirement closing costs home loans interest rates mortgages refinancing Mon, 08 Feb 2016 14:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 1649872 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Mortgage Secrets Only Your Broker Knows http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/buying_new_home_000073682313.jpg" alt="Learning mortgage secrets only your broker knows" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Taking out a mortgage loan to buy a home is a huge investment &mdash; probably the biggest you'll ever make. That's why it's important to cut as many costs of applying for a mortgage loan as possible. Who knows best how to reduce these costs? Mortgage lenders, of course.</p> <p>Here are four secrets that your lender should be sharing with you. Knowing these tips can save you big money.</p> <h2>1. Close Your Loan at the End of the Month</h2> <p>It doesn't matter whether you close your mortgage loan on the fifth day of the month or the 28th, right? Wrong.</p> <p>Rakesh Gupta, director of ARG Finance, says that borrowers who close near the end of the month will reduce the amount of prepaid interest they need to pay with their first mortgage payment. This one simple strategy could save you hundreds of dollars.</p> <p>&quot;There is complete liberty from the lender's end in letting you choose the day of the month on which you wish to close,&quot; Gupta said. &quot;But does he tell you that? He doesn't. He asserts you to close as soon as possible.&quot;</p> <p>Here's an example: If you close on November 5 and your first mortgage payment is due after January 1, your first payment will, of course, include the interest that accrued in December. But it will also include the interest accrued in November. If you close November 5, that's 26 days of interest.</p> <p>But if you close on November 27, you will only pay three days of interest for that month. If your interest comes out to $25 a day, closing on November 5 will cost you $650 in November interest on your first payment. If you close on November 27, it will cost you just $75.</p> <h2>2. No One Really Knows Where Interest Rates Are Heading</h2> <p>Your mortgage lender should be studying the market, and should have a rough idea of whether mortgage interest rates will be going up or down in the near future. But even the savviest lender can't tell you exactly what interest rates will do in the next week or month. No one can.</p> <p>That's why Nicholas Kensington with Scottsdale Real Estate says that if your lender quotes you a rate that you think is a good one, you should pay to lock it in place.</p> <p>&quot;Rates will end up fluctuating constantly,&quot; Kensington said. &quot;If you're out there getting quotes, that doesn't mean you're out there getting locked-in rates until you ask them to lock that rate. Don't make the assumption that anything is locked in until it's in writing.&quot;</p> <p>If you lock your interest rate, it will remain in place even if rates rise &mdash; or, on the downside, if they fall &mdash; after your lock. Make sure you know how long your lender is locking in your rate. It might be for 30 days, or it might be for 60. Make sure to get the specifics in writing.</p> <h2>3. No-Cost, No-Point Loans Don't Really Exist</h2> <p>You might hear lenders advertise no-cost, no-point mortgage loans. But Casey Fleming, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615980708/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0615980708&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=2O6XPT6EBQZGARI3">The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage</a>, says that there really is no such thing as a no-cost mortgage loan. Instead, most lenders who advertise such loans will roll the costs of originating their mortgages into your interest rate. They'll charge you a higher rate for the &quot;no-cost&quot; loan, Fleming said.</p> <p>To avoid falling for this trick, make sure you know how much you are paying for your loan, even if lenders advertise it as a no-cost one.</p> <p>&quot;Ask for the total cost of financing over the holding period of your loan for several options, including rolling the costs into the interest rate versus no points versus paying points, and choose the lowest cost,&quot; Fleming said.</p> <h2>4. Refinancing Doesn't Always Make Sense &mdash; Even If Your Payment Falls</h2> <p>Fleming says that too many homeowners automatically decide to refinance if the drop in their monthly mortgage payment allows them to pay back the costs of their refinance in a short period of time, say three years or less.</p> <p>This is not always a sound financial strategy, and too many lenders ignore this fact, Fleming said.</p> <p>If you save $225 a month on your mortgage payment after refinancing, it might take you just two-and-a-half years to pay back the closing costs. But this payback analysis ignores the increase in your loan's term and the restarting of the amortization cycle, Fleming said.</p> <p>Say you've paid off 14 years on your 30-year fixed-rate loan. If you refinance to another 30-year loan, even one with a far lower interest rate, you might pay more over time because you are, essentially, replacing a mortgage that has 16 years to pay off with one that would require 30.</p> <p>At the same time, the amortization process starts over. When you first start paying off a home loan, the majority of your payment goes toward paying off interest. By the time you're on year 14 of your 30-year loan, more of your payment will go toward paying down your mortgage's principal balance, instead. If you refinance that 30-year loan, most of your payments again will go toward interest.</p> <p>&quot;Look at the total cost of financing over your anticipated holding period for both your existing loan and the proposed loan, including costs, and choose the lower,&quot; Fleming said.</p> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of any of these mortgage tricks?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move">3 Times a Refinance Is the Wrong Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan: 15 or 30 Years?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing closing costs interest rates lenders mortgage loan refinancing Secrets Mon, 14 Dec 2015 14:01:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 1619297 at http://www.wisebread.com What’s the Difference Between Student Loan Refinancing and Consolidation? http://www.wisebread.com/what-s-the-difference-between-student-loan-refinancing-and-consolidation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-s-the-difference-between-student-loan-refinancing-and-consolidation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_student_debt_000020737719.jpg" alt="Man learning about student loan refinancing and consolidation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Higher education can open the door to better job prospects and a larger salary, but there&rsquo;s nothing cheap about earning a degree. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, in 2013, about seven in 10 graduates from public and nonprofit colleges had student loan debt with the average student <a href="http://ticas.org/posd/map-state-data">owing $28,400</a>.</p> <p>If you didn&rsquo;t attend college with a silver spoon in your mouth and had to apply for financial aid (like many students did, myself included), you might be bogged down with multiple loans. This can be a lot to keep up with, but fortunately there&rsquo;s an easier way to manage student loan debt and perhaps pay it off sooner. In fact, some post-grads have successfully managed their debt with student loan refinancing and consolidation.</p> <p>These terms are sometimes used interchangeably. But while they can serve a similar purpose, consolidation and refinancing are not the same.</p> <h2>What Is Student Loan Consolidation?</h2> <p>Consolidation is the process of combining or merging multiple loans into a single one. A student loan consolidation can combine all your federal loans into one loan at no cost. Some students pay for their entire college education with only one type of federal loan, but others receive funds from multiple federal loans. For example, you might have a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, a Direct PLUS loan, and perhaps another type of federal loan. This can become a headache at best, and it&rsquo;s easier to overlook a bill when you receive so many statements each month.</p> <p>Consolidation simplifies the way you manage your student loans. Combining your federal loans into a single loan means you&rsquo;ll only have one monthly statement, one due date, and one set of loan terms, which usually includes a low, fixed interest rate.</p> <p>Federal student loan consolidation is offered by the U.S. Department of Education and it&rsquo;s only for federal student loans &mdash; not private loans. So if you have a mix of federal educational loans and private educational loans, you cannot consolidate through the Department of Education.</p> <p>This doesn't mean you can&rsquo;t simplify and merge your federal and private loans into one loan. This is still an option, but instead of Federal consolidation, you have to refinance your loans through a private lender, such as a bank or credit union.</p> <h2>What Is Student Loan Refinancing?</h2> <p>Refinancing involves applying for a new loan (sometimes with a lower interest rate), and then using these funds to pay off existing loans. Refinancing is only available through private lenders. This is a smart move if you have multiple private loans with variable interest rates and you want a fixed interest rate, which can protect you from rate hikes in the future and potentially save you money.</p> <p>Since refinancing is through a private lender, you have to complete a loan application and go through the underwriting process, at which point a lender evaluates your credit history and income to determine if you&rsquo;re eligible. If you qualify, refinancing can help you get a lower interest rate, which can save you money over the life of the loan. A lower payment can create more cash flow, and you can use the savings to pay off other debts, move out of your parents&rsquo; house, or build your emergency fund. Refinancing also helps pay off student loan debt faster, especially if you're able to make higher payments. This is because more of your payments will go toward reducing the principal.</p> <p>Refinancing is the only way to combine your federal and private loans into a single loan. But it&rsquo;s important to note that refinancing a federal loan involves giving up some protections offered by government loans.</p> <p>For example, federal loans have provisions to help students manage their debt, such as income-based repayment. And if you experience economic hardship like the loss of a job, federal loans give the option of forbearance or deferment. Both options allow borrowers to stop making payments on a temporary basis. Some private lenders don't offer such perks. So while refinancing can simplify your financial life, make sure you have a strong financial foundation before switching federal loans to a private loan.</p> <p><a href="http://SoFi.com/wisebread">SoFi</a> is a popular lender offering student loan refinancing at competitive rates. They also offer career support and unemployment protection, where your payments can be paused while finding a new job. <a href="http://SoFi.com/wisebread"><strong>Click here to learn more about getting a student refinancing loan from SoFi</strong></a>.</p> <!--<p>Alternately, <a href="http://credible.evyy.net/c/27771/223380/3874?utm_source=WiseBread&amp;utm_medium=web&amp;utm_campaign=refi">Credible</a> is a marketplace platform that allows you to search and compare available loans and interest rates. Receive personalized offers from mulitple lenders. <a href="http://credible.evyy.net/c/27771/223380/3874?utm_source=WiseBread&amp;utm_medium=web&amp;utm_campaign=refi"><strong>Click here to learn more and get offers from available lenders.</strong></a></p>--><!--<p>Alternately, <a href="http://credible.evyy.net/c/27771/223380/3874?utm_source=WiseBread&amp;utm_medium=web&amp;utm_campaign=refi">Credible</a> is a marketplace platform that allows you to search and compare available loans and interest rates. Receive personalized offers from mulitple lenders. <a href="http://credible.evyy.net/c/27771/223380/3874?utm_source=WiseBread&amp;utm_medium=web&amp;utm_campaign=refi"><strong>Click here to learn more and get offers from available lenders.</strong></a></p>--><p><em>Did you refinance or consolidate your student loans? How did it improve your situation? I&rsquo;d love to hear about your experience in the comments section.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-s-the-difference-between-student-loan-refinancing-and-consolidation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-paying-off-student-loans-early-can-boost-your-finances">7 Ways Paying Off Student Loans Early Can Boost Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt">12 Easy Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/share-your-thoughts-consolidating-student-loans">Share Your Thoughts: Consolidating Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management college consolidation education refinancing student loans Thu, 12 Nov 2015 00:18:15 +0000 Mikey Rox 1603032 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Times a Refinance Is the Wrong Move http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000041245128.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It seems that everyone &mdash; your neighbor, brother-in-law, boss &mdash; has a lower interest rate on their mortgage loan than you do. And that's probably not surprising, given that mortgage rates have fallen to historic lows, with rates in the mid to high 3% range for 30-year, fixed-rate loans.</p> <p>That means it's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance">time for you to refinance</a>, right? Not necessarily.</p> <p>A refinance doesn't always make sense, even if it will reduce your interest rate by more than a point. Several factors play a role in whether a refinance is the right choice: the cost of refinancing in your area, your current interest rate, the amount of time you plan to spend in your home, and how much of your existing mortgage you've already paid off.</p> <p>Too many homeowners, though, only pay attention to how much their rate might drop. Peter Grabel, managing director with Luxury Mortgage Corp. in Stamford, Connecticut, says that this is the wrong approach.</p> <p>&quot;Deciding whether to go ahead with a refinance requires not just an analysis of how much you might save each month, but also a look at your entire life,&quot; Grabel said. &quot;You need to look at your age, your income, your future plans. You need to take on a real study of your life and your goals before deciding whether refinancing makes sense.&quot;</p> <p>Here are three times when a refinance might not be the smart choice.</p> <h2>1. Your Rate Won't Drop Enough to Recover Refi Costs</h2> <p>Refinances aren't free. The Federal Reserve Board estimates that a refinance can cost 3% to 6% of your loan's outstanding balance in closing costs. If your rate doesn't drop by enough, you might not save enough money each month to recover these closing costs for four years or more.</p> <p>Consider this example: You are paying off a $200,000 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at an interest rate of 4.5%. Your monthly payment at this rate will be about $1,013, not including whatever you pay for insurance and property taxes.</p> <p>You decide to refinance. When you approach a lender, you have a remaining balance on your loan of $190,000. You qualify for an interest rate of 4% for your new 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. At that rate, your monthly payment will fall to about $907, again not including insurance and taxes. You'll be saving about $106 a month, or about $1,275 a year.</p> <p>But say your refinance costs 3% of your outstanding loan balance of $190,000. That comes out to $5,700 in closing costs. At $1,275 in savings a year, it will take you nearly four-and-a-half years to pay back the costs of the transaction.</p> <p>And remember, that's at the low end of the Federal Reserve Board's estimate when it comes to refinancing costs. Grabel said that homeowners pay different refinancing costs in different parts of the country. So you might pay more to close your refinance, which would mean an even longer payback time.</p> <p>If your payback time is too long? A refinance might not make sense. Especially if...</p> <h2>2. You Plan to Move Soon</h2> <p>Refinancing makes more sense for owners who plan to live in their residences for at least five years. These owners plan to stay put long enough to enjoy more months of savings after they've recovered their closing costs.</p> <p>Grabel recently counseled a couple to skip a refinance. Why? The couple was ready to have their second child and expected to move to a larger home in one or two years. Grabel calculated that the break-even point on their refinance would come a year after they closed it. If this couple did move that soon after hitting this point, the costs and the work involved in a refinance &mdash; you'll need plenty of paperwork to close one &mdash; wouldn't be worth it.</p> <h2>3. You're Too Far Into Your Existing Mortgage</h2> <p>Here's what homeowners sometimes don't consider: In the early days of your mortgage loan, most of your monthly payment goes toward paying off interest and little to actually reducing your principal, the amount of money you originally borrowed.</p> <p>But as the years pass, you slowly begin paying off more principal than interest each month. That's a good thing.</p> <p>When you refinance, though, you start over with a new mortgage. This means that most of your monthly payments will again go toward paying off interest instead of paying down your principal balance.</p> <p>Starting over might not matter much when you've only been paying off your loan for a year or two. But if you're eight, 10, or 15 years into your loan? Starting over means that you'll be paying much more interest over the lifetime of your new loan.</p> <p>You'll also reach the end of your loan later in life. Say you refinance to a new 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage when you are 35. If you take the full three decades to pay off this new loan, you'll be 65 before you make your last payment.</p> <p>This is why Grabel recommends that homeowners who have paid off a significant portion of their existing mortgages take out new loans with shorter terms. Instead of taking out a 30-year mortgage, it might make more sense to refinance to a 15-year or 20-year loan. This way, you'll pay off your loan faster and you won't pay as much interest over the life of your loan.</p> <p>Again, though, the decision requires an in-depth look at your own financial goals.</p> <p>&quot;Maybe cash flow is an issue,&quot; Grabel said. &quot;Then you'd want to refinance to the loan that gives you the lowest monthly payment. That'd usually be a 30-year loan. But if you are more interested in the lifetime costs of your mortgage, then going with a shorter-term loan that doesn't come with as much interest is the way to go.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you re-fied lately? What was your break even?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan: 15 or 30 Years?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-afford-your-mortgage-payment">Here&#039;s What to Do If You Can&#039;t Afford Your Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing equity interest rates loans mortgage owning a home refinancing Mon, 02 Nov 2015 13:15:15 +0000 Dan Rafter 1603197 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Times Student Loan Refinancing Can Save You Big http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-student-loan-refinancing-can-save-you-big <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-times-student-loan-refinancing-can-save-you-big" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_holding_coins_000062196700.jpg" alt="Man seeing signs of refinancing student loans" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's nothing cheap about going to college. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2014&ndash;2015 school year was $31,231 at private colleges, $9,139 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,958 for out-of-state residents attending public schools. It's thus no surprise that many students &mdash; like yours truly &mdash; pay their way through college with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-paying-off-student-loans-early-can-boost-your-finances">student loans</a>.</p> <p>Once you graduate and start paying back your student loan, however, you might begin to receive refinancing offers. But receiving an offer to refinance your student loan doesn't mean you have to jump at the opportunity. Here are four signs that you should refinance your student loan.</p> <h2>1. You Need a Better Interest Rate</h2> <p>One of the main reasons graduates refinance their student loans is to get a lower interest rate, which translates into a lower monthly payment.</p> <p>Student loan rates vary depending on whether you have a federal or private loan. If you have a federal student loan, which are easier to get with no credit history and low income (these comprise most of the loans I have), you'll pay a fixed-rate for the duration of the loan term. But there are different types of federal student loans. Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans offered by the federal government have a <a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/interest-rates">fixed interest rate of 4.29%</a>, and federal Perkins Loans have a fixed rate of 5%. Your rates may be higher, depending on when you took out the loan.</p> <p>These rates might seem reasonable, but if you do some research you'll find that many private lenders offer better rates on their student loans. For example, SoFi and Earnest have student loan rates starting at 1.90% for variable rates and 3.50% for fixed rate.</p> <p>Refinancing and getting a cheaper rate and monthly payment frees up your cash, giving you more disposable income to pay off other debts or build a savings account.</p> <h2>2. You Have a Higher Credit Score</h2> <p>Of course, refinancing a federal or private student loan doesn't guarantee the lowest rate. To qualify for an interest rate lower than what you're currently paying, you need a high credit score.</p> <p>Unfortunately, federal student loans offer the same rate regardless of a borrower's credit history. So a student with an Unsubsidized Direct Loan and no credit history pays the same rate as a student with the same loan and a 700 credit score.</p> <p>If you have a credit score in the high 700s or 800 range &mdash; thus able to qualify for the best loan rates &mdash; a federal lender isn't going to drop your rate. A private lender, on the other hand, weighs your credit score, debt, and income when determining your rate. Refinancing with a private lender makes sense if you've built a strong credit history and are looking to save money.</p> <h2>3. You Need to Simplify</h2> <p>If you have both federal and private student loans (I'm with you here, too), juggling multiple lenders and payments can be overwhelming and confusing. Refinancing and combining your federal and private loans into a single debt can simplify your finances.</p> <h2>4. You Have a Stable Job</h2> <p>Although refinancing your federal and private loans into a single loan can simplify your bills, you need to evaluate your job situation and then decide whether now's the best time to give up your federal benefits.</p> <p>If you have multiple federal loans, you can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan and combine them into a single one. But unfortunately, you can't consolidate private loans into a federal loan. Therefore, if you have a mix of federal and private debt, and you're looking to consolidate, the only option is refinancing with a private lender.</p> <p>A private lender might offer a better rate, but they don't always offer the protection or benefits of a federal loan, such as flexible repayment options. If you have a federal student loan and experience economic hardship after losing a job, you can apply for deferment or forbearance and temporarily stop making your payments. Or you can negotiate a lower monthly payment. Depending on your occupation, you might even qualify for <a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation">public service loan forgiveness</a> or teacher loan forgiveness. Unfortunately, these benefits aren't necessarily offered with all private loans. Check with each prospective lender to understand their precise offerings.</p> <p>Before refinancing a federal loan into a private one, seriously consider the stability of your job and income. If you're a high-income earner working in a field with a low unemployment rate, by all means, switch from a federal loan to a private loan if you can save money. But if you have other debts, a low-paying position, or you're still living paycheck-to-paycheck, it might be better to stick with a federal loan, just in case you need to take advantage of guaranteed hardship provisions.</p> <p><em>Are there other signs that you should refinance your student loans that you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-student-loan-refinancing-can-save-you-big">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-private-lenders-that-can-really-save-you-money-on-your-student-loans">3 Private Lenders That Can Really Save You Money on Your Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-missed-a-student-loan-payment-now-what">You Missed a Student Loan Payment. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Education & Training credit score federal loan interest private loan refinancing student loans Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:00:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 1527052 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Private Lenders That Can Really Save You Money on Your Student Loans http://www.wisebread.com/3-private-lenders-that-can-really-save-you-money-on-your-student-loans <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-private-lenders-that-can-really-save-you-money-on-your-student-loans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new_graduate_000021016547.jpg" alt="New grad refinancing student loans with private lenders" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Unlike mortgages and cars loans, the options for refinancing student debt have always been few and far between. Now, a handful of innovative lending startups are helping borrowers trim away at the $1 trillion in outstanding <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-paying-off-student-loans-early-can-boost-your-finances">student loan debt</a> owed by college graduates. It's a big market. Two-thirds of students at four-year private schools and more than half of all students at public ones take out loans, according to federal data.</p> <h2>SoFI</h2> <p><a href="https://SoFi.com/wisebread">SoFi</a>, a San Francisco company, says it saves borrowers who refinance their loans an average of $9,400 over 10 years by offering low fixed-rate and variable interest loans, as well as career coaching. An anonymous reviewer on CreditKarma rated SoFi five stars, saying the firm helped him <a href="https://www.creditkarma.com/reviews/personal-loan/single/id/sofi-personal-loans?pgsz=25&amp;prdhlder=0#reviewsListFullWrapper">save $900 per month</a> in interest and slashed more than 60% off of his original interest rate. Not too shabby.</p> <p>No, it's not too good to be true. But there is a catch.</p> <p>SoFi's loans are limited to &quot;highly qualified&quot; graduates hailing from an exclusive list of colleges and universities. If your school is on the list, however, SoFi will tap into your alumni network, connecting you to investors from the same alma mater. It's sort of like banking meets LinkedIn. SoFi makes borrowing personal, which comes with a slew of added benefits &mdash; opportunities for career advising, networking, and entrepreneurial support. In fact, SoFi claims its <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2015/03/sofi-social-finance-student-loans-mortgages-ipo.html">novel alumni lending scheme</a> has helped 60 members find new jobs and more than 20 entrepreneurs start new businesses. &quot;I'll admit it,&quot; said Jennifer Beall, a Northwestern graduate whose SoFi story is trumpeted on the firm's webpage. &quot;I'm obsessed with SoFi. I discovered SoFi and began the process of refinancing my loans, which led to over $5,000 in savings on interest.&quot;</p> <h2>Upstart</h2> <p><a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2822544-12188828-1431034321000">Upstart</a>, another new, low-cost lender, considers things like your academic performance and work history when calculating your rate. Shedding student debt is a whole new game when your rate is based on Upstart's predictive modeling algorithm, which measures <a href="http://millennialmagazine.com/paul-gu-tackles-the-issue-of-student-loans-with-upstart/">your potential future income</a> &mdash; not just what you're currently earning. Folks with advanced degrees and good jobs &mdash; or at least a solid job offer &mdash; will get the best rates from Upstart. Co-founder Paul Gu describes the algorithm as imperfect, opening the door to many borrowers who might get shut out by traditional lending banks, while unintentionally excluding others. Gu admits that he himself doesn't even qualify for a loan through his own company. The algorithm, he says, is a work in progress.</p> <h2>CommonBond</h2> <p><a href="https://commonbond.co/choose-your-loan?referrer=b75172e7076c5472bed5baec5e28309c&amp;referred">CommonBond</a>, another non-bank lender, has so far handed out more than $200 million in loans to more than 2,000 borrowers with MBA, law, medical, and engineering graduate degrees. Like SoFi and Upstart, not every student with debt will qualify for refinancing. What sets CommonBond apart from other alternative lenders is that it allows student loan debtors to consolidate undergrad and graduate loans into a variety of fixed rate, adjustable rate, and hybrid loans. The company claims its borrowers save, on average, $10,000 over the life of the loan. There are no application fees, no origination fees, no prepayment penalties.</p> <p>Let's recap. With private lenders like SoFi, Upstart, and CommonBond, you can slash your interest debt by refinancing. That is, if you qualify. These firms adhere to nontraditional eligibility requirements, which can be great &mdash; so long as you earned the right degree or attended the right college or landed the right job. These new, lower-cost lenders are mostly going after students they consider sure bets. And who could blame them? About 10% of the 4.7 million students who graduated with federal loan debt in 2011 had defaulted by 2012, the government reports, which means they didn't make any payments for at least nine months.</p> <p>The bottom line: you can save a ton by refinancing your student loans with one of these new-age private lenders &mdash; so long as you fit the profile of what these firms classify as a &quot;safe bet.&quot;</p> <p><em>How are you paying off your student loan(s)? Have you considered consolidating with one of these lenders?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-private-lenders-that-can-really-save-you-money-on-your-student-loans">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-student-loan-refinancing-can-save-you-big">4 Times Student Loan Refinancing Can Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-to-pay-off-your-student-loans">8 Surprising Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt">12 Easy Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Education & Training private lenders refinancing school student loans Thu, 11 Jun 2015 13:00:13 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1448399 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house-2146375-small.jpg" alt="family on porch" title="family on porch" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Mortgage closing costs can be one of the most difficult aspects of buying a home or refinancing a current mortgage. Costs can be high, ranging anywhere from 2%-5%, depending on your locale, lender, and type of mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">How to Choose the Right Mortgage Loan Term</a>)</p> <p>Typical costs include the application fee, origination fee, and fees for home inspection, appraisal, credit report, and an attorney or closing agent. Some, like the application fee, are paid to the lender. Others, like the appraisal and home inspection, are paid to third-parties and have less room for negotiation.</p> <p>Homeowners may feel they have little control over the charges. On top of that, most closing costs are not tax deductible. Nevertheless, it&#39;s possible for home buyers and homeowners to reduce their closing costs.</p> <h2>1. Shop Around</h2> <p>When shopping for a mortgage lender, ask lenders about their closing costs when you ask about their interest rates. Ask about their application fee, loan processing fee (also known as an underwriting fee), and third-party fees paid to others, such as appraisers. Are fees refundable? When are they paid? Most home buyers will just ask about their mortgage rate, but they should also shop for the lowest lender fees, especially the origination fee. Try to nail them down and don&#39;t be satisfied with a general &quot;three percent of the loan amount.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Know the Score on Points</h2> <p>Points, sometimes called <a href="http://homebuying.about.com/od/glossaryp/g/Prepaid-Interest.htm">prepaid interest</a>, are typically the largest single closing cost. One point equals 1% of the mortgage amount. Some lenders charge one point, while others charge two, or even more, points in return for a lower rate.</p> <p>Find out upfront if the points are &quot;bona fide discount points&quot; that lower your interest rate or just another lender&#39;s fee. Generally, one point should reduce the interest rate a quarter of a percentage point. If you expect to stay in the home for a while, say five years, you probably should consider paying extra points for a lower rate.</p> <p>Points for the mortgage used to purchase your home are typically tax deductible in the year you buy the home, while points for refinance loans are tax deductible over the life of the loan. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-refinance-your-mortgage">How to Refinance Your Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>3. Question Lender Fees</h2> <p>Federal law requires mortgage lenders to provide borrowers a Good Faith Estimate of closing costs within three days of the loan application. It&#39;s just an estimate and can change significantly, up to 10% by law, by the time the loan closes. Examine those fees and ask the lender to explain them.</p> <p>Some lenders charge an origination fee, which is a percentage of the loan amount. They may also charge a loan processing fee, an underwriting fee, a document preparation fee, and an administrative fee. Question those fees. They&#39;re basically the same thing. Although some borrowers, like those with impaired credit, legitimately require more work, some of those fees might be duplicative. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-terms">21 Real Estate Terms Home Buyers Should Know</a>)</p> <h2>4. Scrutinize Final Costs</h2> <p>At the loan closing, lenders must provide borrowers settlement papers known as the <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hud-1.asp">HUD-1 form</a>. Ask for the paperwork a day before the loan closing, so you have time to go over the documents. Scrutinize closing costs line by line, and question discrepancies between the Good Faith Estimate. Most homeowners glance over the list without asking questions about particular costs, but not all costs are etched in stone.</p> <p>Just asking for a discount could prompt the lender to lower the price. It certainly doesn&#39;t hurt to ask. Some borrowers may feel odd about wrangling over a $200 fee when obtaining a loan of $200,000 or more. But $200 is still $200.</p> <h2>5. Request an Appraisal Waiver</h2> <p>If you&#39;re getting a refinance and had an appraisal recently for a previous refinancing or when you purchased the home, ask your lender if it can waive the new appraisal requirement. You can also request an appraisal waiver if you have plenty of equity in your home and are not getting a cash-out refinance.</p> <h2>6. Get a Title Insurance Discount</h2> <p>When you buy a home, you purchase a new title insurance policy for a one-time fee. When you refinance your mortgage, you can receive a large discount off the cost of a new policy. Although many lenders provide it automatically, ask for it to make sure you get it.</p> <h2>7. Ask the Seller to Pay</h2> <p>Home buyers can ask sellers to pay closing costs in addition to negotiating for a lower sale price. The seller can benefit from paying closing costs by getting the buyer committed to the sale, selling the home sooner. Remember that seller contributions are linked to the home price and could mean a higher sale price. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-home">Buying Your First Home? Here&#39;s What You Need to Know</a>)</p> <h2>8. Consider a No-Closing-Cost Mortgage</h2> <p>Some lenders can waive closing costs in return of charging a slightly higher mortgage rate, or can let borrowers add closing costs to the loan amount. These loans are not truly &quot;no cost.&quot; Obviously, there are trade offs. If you plan to stay in the house over five years, being stuck with a higher rate over five years might not be worth it.</p> <p><em>Did you try to negotiate or otherwise reduce your mortgage closing costs? How did you do it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/michael-kling">Michael Kling</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan: 15 or 30 Years?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer home buying home loans mortgage mortgage closing costs refinancing Fri, 18 Oct 2013 09:36:03 +0000 Michael Kling 991207 at http://www.wisebread.com Quicken Loans Review: Competitive Rates and Good Customer Service http://www.wisebread.com/quicken-loans-review-competitive-rates-and-good-customer-service <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/quicken-loans-review-competitive-rates-and-good-customer-service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/handshake-596433-small.jpg" alt="handshake" title="handshake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Early in 2013, I refinanced my mortgage with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9817431" target="_blank" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'quickenloans']);">Quicken Loans</a>. I was hesitant at first, since it seems as though a major loan transaction is something you should complete with a loan office you can speak with face-to-face.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, my brick and mortar bank wouldn&rsquo;t give me the best interest rate on a refinance &mdash; despite my good credit rating and my husband&rsquo;s excellent rating. Seventy-five percent of my household&rsquo;s income is the result of my self-employed activities, and the bank decided that constituted a risk.</p> <p dir="ltr">So, when a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9817439" target="_blank" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'creditsesame']);">Credit Sesame</a> pop-up prompted me to refinance with Quicken Loans, I decided to go for it.</p> <h2>Why Choose Quicken Loans</h2> <p dir="ltr">Quicken Loans is relatively fast and friendly. The entire process is fairly smooth, and you receive help every step of the way. Quicken has a great loan center that provides you with information about your refinance and which documents you need.</p> <p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s possible to get access to a number of home loan programs with Quicken. You can choose different loan terms, including mortgages with terms of 15 years as well as 30 years. I took advantage of the <a href="http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/programs/lower-rates/Pages/harp.aspx" target="_blank">HARP program</a> through Quicken Loans (HARP is slated to end December 31, 2015).</p> <h2>Costs and Fees</h2> <p dir="ltr">As with most loan situations, the costs and fees you pay depend on the type of loan you get. In my case, the fees were fairly reasonable. I had an origination fee of about $1,700. Since I save $300 on my mortgage each month, thanks to the refinance, it took a little less than six months to break even.</p> <p dir="ltr">I also had to pay off the small second mortgage on the home as part of the process, which brought my total out of pocket requirement to a little less than $4,000.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even though I was annoyed that Quicken required me to pay off the second mortgage as part of the refinance deal, I think it was for the best now. It will make my home easier to sell down the road, and I don&rsquo;t have it hanging over my head.</p> <h2>Required Documents and Customer Service</h2> <p dir="ltr">A Quicken representative called my phone number minutes after I filled out the consumer information form on Credit Sesame. Talk about fast lead generation! I didn&rsquo;t answer the phone, though. Instead, I let it go to voicemail. I waited a week (phone calls almost every day), until I was ready, to call back and start the process.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Loan Center</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">When I did talk to my loan officer on the phone, he helped me get set up with Quicken&rsquo;s Loan Center. This serves as a hub for all your paperwork. It&rsquo;s how you upload documentation, such as your Good Faith Estimate. I was able to initiate refinance proceedings immediately, using an electronic signature. My loan officer was on the phone, talking me through it the entire time.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Checklists</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">All of the documents you need appear as a checklist. From copies of your identification to bank statements to tax returns and W-2/1099 forms to additional asset statements, you have an itemized list of exactly what you need. You can scan and upload documents fairly easily. Many banks offer their statements in PDF format that you can easily save to your computer and then upload to the Quicken Loan Center.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Customer Assistance</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to having a loan officer, Quicken assigns another team member to help you through the process. If there are questions about transfers and assets, you are emailed immediately. If you need additional documentation, and you are slow to submit it, you are reminded. And every few days, someone calls to keep you updated.</p> <p dir="ltr">Any questions you have can be answered quickly via email or over the phone, from the step-by-step process required to cancel your automatic payments to your former lender to the timing involved in canceling those payments and starting payments to Quicken. I was surprised at the level of customer service I received. It was better than what I received when completing my first mortgage at a brick and mortar bank.</p> <h2>Other Features and Services</h2> <p dir="ltr">After everything was cleared, the next step was to sign the paperwork. For the final papers, a notary is required. However, rather than sending us a pile of papers and requiring us to find a notary, Quicken actually sent someone to our home (we could have arranged a meeting elsewhere, if we wanted). He had the paperwork and oversaw the entire process. Then, he took care of mailing the proper copies to the proper places. This was at no extra cost to us (the cost was included in the $1,700 total).</p> <p dir="ltr">Quicken also allows you to the option to make bi-weekly payments, which we decided to do. Your Loan Center remains active, so you can review documents after the fact, and it also includes information on your mortgage statements and payments, so you can stay up-to-date.</p> <h2>How Quicken Loans Compares to Others</h2> <p dir="ltr">In general, Quicken Loans is competitive with other brokerages in terms of fees charged and interest rates offered. I experienced a higher level of customer care with a Quicken Loans refinance than I did with my initial mortgage with a brick and mortar bank. Additionally, Quicken Loans was willing to help me with the HARP program when my primary bank wouldn&rsquo;t. I had to submit more documentation about my income and assets (including PayPal statements), but, in the end, we were able to get the best available interest rate, and get approval without too much trouble, thanks to the HARP program and our credit rating.</p> <h2>How Quicken Loans Could Be Better</h2> <p dir="ltr">Some lenders offer no-cost refinancing. While the fees I paid weren&rsquo;t onerous, I still would have liked the option of a no-cost refinancing. Also, the value of my home was high enough that the small second mortgage could have been rolled into the refinance without too much trouble. That would have been a plus, but in the end it&rsquo;s probably best that I just paid it off.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also, even though the refinance only took slightly more than six weeks to close, it would have been nice to get things through faster, since the timing meant I had to submit additional statements reflecting the most recent situation. But I understand that my self-employment situation probably held up the process a little bit.</p> <h2>Who Is Quicken Loans Good For?</h2> <p dir="ltr">Because of the streamlined HARP program, Quicken Loans is great for the borrower with HARP eligibility trying to refinance a home. Quicken could also be good for a non-HARP refinance. However, the online nature of Quicken Loans means that a non-HARP refinance could come with additional headaches, since there are different appraisal requirements. The easier/non-appraisal situation with HARP means an online refinance is easy.</p> <h2>Bottom Line Recommendation</h2> <p>Overall, my experience refinancing with Quicken Loans was great. It was fast and easy, and my team was helpful and friendly. I&rsquo;ve turned from skeptic to believer.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9817431" target="_blank" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'quickenloans']);">Click here to apply now</a></strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/miranda-marquit">Miranda Marquit</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quicken-loans-review-competitive-rates-and-good-customer-service">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-freddie-mac-and-fannie-mae">Everything You Need to Know About Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance">ReFi Shy? How to Determine If Now Is the Time to Refinance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home loans mortgage lenders mortgages refinancing Fri, 06 Sep 2013 10:36:29 +0000 Miranda Marquit 981743 at http://www.wisebread.com Home Maintenance and Repair: What's an Emergency and What Can Wait? http://www.wisebread.com/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-repair-5230053-small.jpg" alt="man with wrench" title="man with wrench" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When money's tight, even a minor home repair takes on a new and stressful dimension. But when you're looking a laundry list of things that need to be done with limited funds, it can be overwhelming. If home repairs have you longing for the days of apartment life, don't despair. Here's how to take a step back, prioritize what needs to be done, and embrace a slow, steady, and budget-friendly approach to home maintenance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-it-really-costs-to-own-a-home">What It Actually Costs to Own a Home</a>)</p> <h2>1. Electrical and Wiring</h2> <p>Safety comes first. Wiring and electrical problems can damage sensitive electronics, and lead to fires and even electrocution, so it's best to address them head-on and with the help of a licensed professional. If the lights in your home dim when you turn on multiple appliances, if your circuit breakers trip frequently, or if your outlets are hot to the touch, it may be time to call an electrician. The cost of rewiring a house varies based on the size of the home, but typically ranges between <a href="http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/electrical/do-you-need-electrical-service-upgrade/#.">$3,500&ndash;$8,000</a>, according to houselogic.com. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-top-10-diy-jobs-homeowners-should-avoid">10 DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid</a>)</p> <h2>2. Roof</h2> <p>Water intrusion is one of the quickest ways to rack up big-dollar expenses. Rot, mold, insect infestation, and electrical problems can all result from even small leaks in your roof. Be aware of dank or damp smells in your home, stains on drywall, and damaged shingles, algae growth, or pooling water on the roof.</p> <p>Because roof problems usually progress quickly, if you notice an issue, contact a roofer right away. An initial inspection is usually free of charge. Again, roof replacement costs depend on the size of your home and can <a href="http://www.ehow.com/facts_4870641_typical-cost-roof-replacement.html">run anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000</a>.</p> <h2>3. Basement and Foundation</h2> <p>A solid footing supports (literally and figuratively) everything else in your home. Protect it.</p> <p>As homes settle naturally or shift due to extreme rain or flooding, structural problems can occur. If you notice sagging beams, large cracks in the masonry, or floors that develop a new dip or slant, it might indicate a larger problem. Hire a contractor to inspect your home and if there are significant issues, retain a home inspection engineer to get an accurate picture of the solutions and the associated costs. You can search for a qualified home inspection engineer by visiting the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers website at <a href="http://www.nabie.org/">NABIE.org</a>.</p> <h2>4. Gutters and Drainage</h2> <p>Gutters help your roof do its job and without good drainage, even the highest quality roof can't protect your home from water damage. Look for dented, damaged, or split gutters and downspouts that don't connect properly. Also, survey your home immediately after a rainstorm; look for clogs, leaks, or pooling water that may indicate larger problems with your gutter system. The cost of new gutters varies depending on the size of your home and the complexity of roofline. For a handy calculator on the price of seamless gutters, try <a href="http://www.homewyse.com/services/cost_to_install_seamless_gutters.html">this calculator</a> from homewyse.com.</p> <h2>5. Exterior Paint</h2> <p>Paint does more than beautify your home &mdash; it provides protection from the elements that damage wood and other siding products and helps discourage boring insects. Look over areas with cracked, flaking, or blistering paint. Small areas can usually be sanded and repainted without hiring a professional. A full paint job usually runs <a href="http://home.costhelper.com/painting-exterior.html">between $3,000 and $5,000</a> according to costhelper.com (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-diy-projects-you-can-do-in-one-day">Home DIY Projects You Can Do in One Day</a>)</p> <h2>6. Heating and Cooling Systems</h2> <p>Upgrading the heating and cooling systems in your home can help reduce energy costs and minimize the chances of a malfunction that could lead to frozen and burst pipes in winter.</p> <p>If your system is working properly, replacement is, of course, elective. But if you're not sure how well your system is performing, keep an eye out for frequent on/off cycles that may indicate a bad thermostat or equipment that's struggling to regulate temperature. Call in an expert if you have other concerns or would like an estimate on the price of new equipment. Typically the price of a new HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system runs between <a href="http://www.realestate.com/advice/heating-and-cooling-systems/">$5,000 and $7,000</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-seal-leaks-and-reduce-your-winter-heating-bill">9 Ways to Seal Leaks and Reduce Your Winter Heating Bill</a>)</p> <p>For broader information on how to plan for and buy a new heating and cooling system, check out from HomeAdvisor's <a href="http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/heating-and-cooling/#closing-article">Heating and Cooling Cost Guide</a>.</p> <p>Although we can't always predict when home repair or maintenance issues will arise, we can plan for them and be strategic in how we react to them. By understanding that not all issues are emergencies, we can leverage our resources to take care of what's essential first and phase in less urgent repairs over time. As with any expense, it always helps to anticipate likely repairs based on the condition and age of your home and begin to set aside funds for those inevitable expenses before they become critical.</p> <p><em>Have you prioritized your home maintenance to-do list?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/selling-your-home-17-ways-to-prepare-your-house-for-inspection-success">Selling Your Home: 17 Ways to Prepare Your House for Inspection Success</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/garage-triage-organize-your-garage-for-maximum-chore-and-storage-efficiency">Garage Triage: Organize Your Garage for Maximum Chore and Storage Efficiency</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value">8 Ways to Boost Your Neighborhood and Your Home&#039;s Value</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer home maintenance Home repair refinancing Tue, 03 Sep 2013 10:24:28 +0000 Kentin Waits 981652 at http://www.wisebread.com Get Help Renovating Your Home With an FHA 203(k) Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/get-help-renovating-your-home-with-an-fha-203k-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-help-renovating-your-home-with-an-fha-203k-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-5336166-small.jpg" alt="women carrying rug" title="women carrying rug" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Renovating a home can be very expensive, and getting a loan to buy a home needing substantial repairs can be difficult, too.</p> <p>Fortunately, the <a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/203k/203kmenu">FHA 203(k)</a> home renovation loan &mdash; made through private government-approved lenders but insured by the FHA &mdash; offers an option. In fact, it's sometimes the only option for buying a fixer-upper because most lenders won't finance a home that's not habitable. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-renovations-that-almost-pay-for-themselves">10 Home Renovations That Almost Pay for Themselves</a>)</p> <p>Home buyers can use the home renovation loan to purchase homes at substantial discounts, and current homeowners can use it to refinance their current mortgage and pay for renovations, repairs, or additions. It's the perfect option for handyman specials, homes needing &quot;tender loving care,&quot; and foreclosure sales.</p> <p>Purchasing and renovating a home typically entails a mortgage to buy the property, a short-term loan with a higher mortgage rate to finance rehab work, and another loan to pay off the interim renovation loan. But the FHA 203(k) program finances the purchase and renovation of homes &mdash; or the refinance and renovation &mdash; with a single loan.</p> <h2>FHA 203(k) Home Loan Advantages</h2> <p>The loan program has other advantages beyond convenience.</p> <ul> <li>Down payment requirements are low &mdash; currently 3.5% for loans under $625,500 and 5% for loans above $625,500.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Application standards, like other FHA home loans, are looser than typical home loans.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The loan can finance mortgage payments for up to six months, so you don't have double housing costs while the home is not habitable.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The loan can be combined with the FHA's <a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/eem/eemhog96/">Energy Efficient Mortgage</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Homeowners can opt for either a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate loan.</li> </ul> <p>Because appraisal is based on the value of the home <em>after</em> renovation work is completed, borrowers qualify for a larger loan amount. Home buyers can finance up to the purchase price or 110% of the property's after-improved value.</p> <p><strong>Eligible Projects</strong></p> <p>Many kinds of projects are eligible, including additions, landscaping, energy-efficiency projects, kitchen remodeling, finishing basements or attics, as well as replacing roofs, plumbing, and HVAC systems. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-look-for-in-a-fixer-upper">What to Look for in a Fixer-Upper</a>)</p> <p>The loans can also be used to move a building to the mortgaged property or convert a single-family home into a duplex, triplex, or four-unit home.</p> <p>Cooperative units are <em>not</em> eligible for the program, but the interiors of individual condo units are eligible if the condo complex has FHA approval.</p> <p>The FHA may let you do the work yourself if you can prove you're qualified. You can use the loan to pay for supplies, but not to pay yourself. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-diy-home-renovating-for-you">Is DIY Home Renovating for You?</a>)</p> <p><strong>Approval Process</strong></p> <p>After you find a property and estimate rehab costs, you can use HUD's <a href="http://www.hud.gov/ll/code/llslcrit.cfm">lender search page</a> to locate lenders. After the loan is approved, an escrow account holds money for rehab work and funds are disbursed from the account as work proceeds.</p> <h2>Disadvantages</h2> <p>The program's largest drawback is probably that it's paper-intensive with plenty of bureaucracy.</p> <ul> <li>Obtaining loan approvals and reaching the closing table can take longer than other loans, perhaps 60 to 90 days.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Fees for title reviews, appraisals, and other items are higher than for other FHA loans.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Homeowners must live in, or plan to live in, the home. You can't use the mortgage to flip properties.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Improvements must cost at least $5,000, so you can't use it for minor work.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Guidelines do not allow luxury items &mdash; no gold-plated toilets.</li> </ul> <h2>Some Quick Tips</h2> <p>First of all, avoid some of the bureaucracy by investigating the <a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/203k/203kmenu">FHA's Streamlined 203(k)</a> program if you're interested in a smaller project. The streamlined program lets home buyers and homeowners finance up to $35,000 for rehab work and provides easier access to funds.</p> <ul> <li>Work with a lender that has FHA 203(k) experience.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be prepared for time-consuming documentation and visits by an FHA inspector.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work with a good contractor. You cannot increase your loan amount, so be careful that your contractor does not underestimate costs.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be careful not to over-invest. There's no guarantee that a particular renovation project will increase your home's value.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't put the project on the back burner &mdash; or let the contractor forget about it. Work has to start within 30 days of the loan closing, cannot stop for more than 30 days, and has to be finished within six months.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Talk to your real estate agent and accountant about any possible property tax implications, which vary by county or municipality. Some renovations can be used for income tax deductions. Other improvements, like energy-efficiency upgrades, can be used for tax credits.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of the FHA's 203(k) loan program? What was your experience like?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/michael-kling">Michael Kling</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-help-renovating-your-home-with-an-fha-203k-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-renovations-that-almost-pay-for-themselves">10 Home Renovations That Almost Pay for Themselves</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows">4 Mortgage Secrets Only Your Broker Knows</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing fha 203k fha rehab loan home improvement loans refinancing renovation Mon, 02 Sep 2013 09:48:29 +0000 Michael Kling 981467 at http://www.wisebread.com ReFi Shy? How to Determine If Now Is the Time to Refinance http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house-4617475-small.jpg" alt="house in hands" title="house in hands" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="178" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It appears the bargain basement mortgage rates that have been part of the economy since the Great Recession may slowly be slipping away. And as rates tick higher, many homeowners are beginning to wonder if the moment has passed to refinance. If you've been keeping a close eye on interest rates, but still aren't sure if refinancing your home is worth it, here are some important questions to ask that just may help you decide. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-refinance-your-mortgage">How to Refinance Your Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>Do You Have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?</h2> <p>As interest creeps higher, strategic homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages are seeing a chance to lock in lower rates now. Many buyers who jumped in the market quickly during the housing boom did so with the help of adjustable rate mortgages. Now that those rates are set to adjust upward, homeowners are refinancing and moving to fixed-rate 15-year or 30-year loans. According a recent <a href="http://www.freddiemac.com/news/finance/pdf/RefiReport2013Q1.pdf">refinance report by Freddie Mac</a> (PDF), it's estimated that refis will account for 75% of single-family home loan originations in 2013 and about 50% in 2014.</p> <p>Most homeowners typically choose to refinance either to reduce their mortgage payment or shorten the life of their loan. If you're strapped for cash, refinancing into a 30-year fixed-rate loan could help, but you may actually end up paying more in the long run because you're extending the term of your loan (and thereby, extending the interest period).</p> <h2>Could You Lock in a Lower Fixed Rate?</h2> <p>Many homeowners who've delayed refinancing and chosen a wait-and-see approach to mortgage rates are finally getting motivated to lock in a lower fixed rate, too. Even today, the rates on a 15-year or 30-year loan are lower than the historical averages we've seen over the past 40 years. For folks who initiated their fixed-rate mortgage in the early years of the housing boom and have never refinanced, current rates can still present significant savings over the lifetime of their loans.</p> <h2>How Long Will You Be Staying in Your Home?</h2> <p>For borrowers, the prospect of refinancing into a lower interest rate can be enticing, but remember &mdash; refinancing isn't free. When you factor in closing costs and the price of a new appraisal and inspection, a refi only makes sense if you plan on staying put long enough to recover the costs and benefit from the savings.</p> <h2>Have You Run the Numbers?</h2> <p>Refinance calculators can clarify in black and white the gray area that many homeowners find themselves in right now. If you're still unsure whether a refinance makes financial sense in your particular situation, run the numbers. Calculators like <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/refinance-calculator.aspx">this one from Bankrate.com</a> and <a href="http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-calculator/refinance-calculator/">this one from Zillow</a> let homeowners see how their current mortgage payments would change under various refinance terms and exactly how long it would take to recoup the associated costs.</p> <h2>Do You Qualify?</h2> <p>Qualifying for a refinance isn't something homeowners should take for granted. Lenders closely review a borrower's credit score and home value when determining whether to move forward with a refi. Even if you've paid your mortgage on time month after month and even if your monthly payments will be lower under the terms of a new loan, you'll still need to apply, document income, provide proof of assets, and report job history, etc.</p> <p><strong>Check Your Credit Score</strong></p> <p>Lenders prefer a credit score of 640 or higher to green-light a new loan, but optimal rates are available to those borrowers with a score of 740 or higher. Plus, a borrower's debt-to-income ratio (that is, your gross monthly income compared the combined minimum monthly payments on debt) should be no more than 45%.</p> <p><strong>Check Your Home's Value</strong></p> <p>Before you apply for a refinance, it also helps to have a general idea of your home's current value, especially in our post-recession era when so many homeowners have been upside-down on their mortgages. Contact a licensed Realtor or go online to research recent sale prices of similar homes in your area. Lenders prefer a loan-to-value ratio (the amount of your loan compared to the total value of your home) of 80%-85%. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</a>)</p> <p><strong>A New Appraisal May Mean a New LTV, and PMI</strong></p> <p>Remember, changes in your home's appraised value or in your loan amount could result in compulsory property mortgage insurance. If your new LTV ratio is more than 80%, property mortgage insurance (or PMI) will be required. PMI is a fee that guarantees your lender will be paid in the event of a mortgage default. The premiums are amortized as part of your monthly mortgage charge until your LTV ratio reaches 80% or less.</p> <p>The past decade has been a wild ride for buyers, sellers, and borrowers. And, though no one is certain what the market will do or how the Federal Reserve Board may choose to slow or spur economic growth, information is still the best weapon. For proactive homeowners who are focused on the bottom line, it's always smart strategy to understand what the options are, how current rates can benefit your financial picture, and how small movements in the market can equal big changes to your budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-the-same-house-twice-for-less-than-buying-it-once">Buy the Same House Twice for Less Than Buying It Once</a>)</p> <p>Still not sure if now is the right time to refinance? Make an appointment to speak with a qualified lender or financial advisor. An initial consultation is usually free and the insight they provide can be a big help in making the decision that's right for you.</p> <p><em>Have you refinanced recently? Are you considering a refinance now, before rates move up much more?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-home-purchase-in-2010">How to Prepare for a Home Purchase in 2010</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quicken-loans-review-competitive-rates-and-good-customer-service">Quicken Loans Review: Competitive Rates and Good Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-45-mortgage-rates-jumpstart-the-housing-market">Will 4.5% mortgage rates jumpstart the housing market?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing mortgages real estate refinancing Fri, 23 Aug 2013 10:36:31 +0000 Kentin Waits 981466 at http://www.wisebread.com Garage Triage: Organize Your Garage for Maximum Chore and Storage Efficiency http://www.wisebread.com/garage-triage-organize-your-garage-for-maximum-chore-and-storage-efficiency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/garage-triage-organize-your-garage-for-maximum-chore-and-storage-efficiency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kid-garage-4674494-small.jpg" alt="garage" title="garage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If your garage, like so many others, has become an overflow storage area for sporting equipment, holiday decorations, and totes too numerous to mention, then it's time to reclaim some space. With winter just a few months away, now is the perfect time to clear the clutter, get organized, and make room for that car that's been kicked to the curb. After all, who wants to be chipping ice of the windshield while a perfectly good garage goes to waste? Here's how to get things in order with a little garage triage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-downsize-and-declutter">How to Downsize and Declutter</a>)</p> <h2>Clear the Clutter</h2> <p>First things first &mdash; hit the clicker, open the door, and start sorting. Getting a handle on what you've accumulated in the garage is the first step in getting organized. At this stage, don't worry about the grand vision of how you want the space to look, just focus on making room. Sort in piles &mdash; one pile for items that can be donated to charity, one for items that can be sold or passed on to friends, one for items to keep, and one for trash. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-throw-out-today">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a>)</p> <h2>Make It Pretty</h2> <p>Once you've cut the clutter, it's time for cleaning and cosmetics. Does the floor need to be power washed or <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Seal-Concrete-Floors">sealed</a>? Could the interior walls use a fresh coat of paint? Are there cracked windows, burnt out bulbs, or shaky steps? A little TLC now will help the final product feel more complete and motivate the rest of the process.</p> <h2>Go Vertical</h2> <p>Once you've spruced things up, it's time to get creative about storage. Start by looking up. The most important real estate in any garage is floor space, so make more of it by storing things vertically. The more you can get off the floor and out the way, the easier it will be to use your garage for it's primary purpose. Here are some ideas for vertical storage:</p> <p><strong>Shelving</strong></p> <p>Shelving hung at shoulder height and going 4-5 feet up is perfect for storing cans of paint, small bins, seasonal yard supplies, and more. Start the shelving at shoulder height to retain floor space and avoid banged car doors and tight squeezes. Store a folding step stool under the shelving to reach items that are higher up.</p> <p><strong>Pegboard</strong></p> <p>Classic pegboard and hooks are still a perfect and cost-effective solution for organizing frequently-used tools and smaller items like tape, twine, and paint brushes. The pegboard solution keeps items in plain sight and easily accessible &mdash; no frustrated rummaging through boxes and bins.</p> <p><strong>Hooks</strong></p> <p>Large hooks are a garage's best friend. Use them to hang rakes, snow shovels, clippers, hoses, and watering cans. Larger plastic-coated utility hooks are great for hanging bicycles, too. Getting bikes off the floor helps keep the space organized and prevents damage. To learn more on how to properly store bikes using hooks, check out <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Hang-a-Bike-on-the-Wall">this article on wikiHow</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-awesome-storage-solutions-for-under-10">15 Awesome Storage Solutions for Under $10</a>)</p> <h2>Color Coordinate</h2> <p>Bins, boxes, and cans are ideal for storing larger items like holiday decorations, sporting equipment, bulk cleaning supplies, pet food, and more. Avoid the &quot;I wonder what I put in that bin&quot; phenomenon by color coding your storage. For example, use green bins or boxes for lawn and garden supplies, yellow for cleaning supplies, red for holiday decorations and other seasonal items, etc. Since these storage containers are accessed less frequently, a color-coded approach helps you immediately narrow the search when you need something. Post your color key on the wall for easy reference.</p> <h2>Create a Flexible Workstation</h2> <p>Creating a single flexible workstation in your garage can save space, time, and money. Make any work bench pull double or triple duty for automotive and household repair, woodworking, crafts, and small gardening projects. Equip the space with general tools and supplies, but organize project-specific materials in color-coded containers or small wheeled cabinets for quick cleanup and storage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/screwdrivers-to-saws-stocking-your-first-toolbox">Screwdrivers to Saws: Stocking Your First Toolbox</a>)</p> <h2>Get Benched</h2> <p>Garages are where we drop at the end of the long day or where we try to pull ourselves together at the last minute before we start the day. A bench helps on both counts. Designate a spot to sit down, kick off your shoes, or decompress after a marathon day of lawn-mowing or car repair. Use under-bench storage for grimy utility boots, paper towels, or hand-sanitizer.</p> <h2>Designate a Go Station</h2> <p>Garages are most families' last stop in their mad dash out the door. Capitalize on this fact by designating a go station in your garage. Store last-minute grab-and-go items like energy bars, extra hats, gloves, reusable grocery bags, pet leashes, and other supplies on a bench or shelf. It'll help you stay organized during those last-minute morning rushes. Hang a whiteboard or chalkboard for reminders or to exchange quick family messages.</p> <p>Though it's tempting to ignore our garages and keep them in a perpetual state of clutter-chaos, getting organized has its advantages. Garage clutter has a way of creeping into the rest of our homes, and the things we love have a way of getting lost, damaged, or tossed out when there's just too much stuff to deal with. In just one weekend of focused effort you can transform your garage from &quot;eek!&quot; to chic. Oh, and you might even get your car off the street in the process.</p> <p><em>What's your garage like? What are your favorite garage organization hacks?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/garage-triage-organize-your-garage-for-maximum-chore-and-storage-efficiency">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait">Home Maintenance and Repair: What&#039;s an Emergency and What Can Wait?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value">8 Ways to Boost Your Neighborhood and Your Home&#039;s Value</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan: 15 or 30 Years?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-costly-things-new-homeowners-dont-prepare-for">9 Costly Things New Homeowners Don&#039;t Prepare For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer garage home organization refinancing Mon, 19 Aug 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Kentin Waits 981342 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways to Boost Your Neighborhood and Your Home's Value http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family-2503183-small.jpg" alt="neighborhood" title="neighborhood" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Neighborhoods are dynamic environments and go through ebbs and flows like most other things in the world. The recession and mass foreclosures of the past five years sped up this process in many communities across the county, and we're only now starting to see a gradual turnaround in neighborhoods that were all but abandoned by homeowners upside down on their mortgages. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors">25 Reasons Why It's Good to Know Your Neighbors</a>)</p> <p>If you've just moved into a new neighborhood or are worried about the state of a place that you've called home for years, here are eight strategies to help spark a revival.</p> <h2>1. Get Organized</h2> <p>Strong neighborhoods are built by motivated and organized neighbors. The first step in revitalizing a struggling community or establishing a great new neighborhood is to get organized. Here's how:</p> <ul> <li>Talk to homeowners and renters to learn more about the community and its specific challenges.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Develop consistent communication channels.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set primary and secondary goals for your neighborhood.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Schedule regular meetings that have clear agendas.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work with city officials to provide any additional infrastructure that may be needed or that could add to the quality of life of residents.</li> </ul> <h2>2. Light It Up</h2> <p>Adequate lighting is an often neglected part of creating a safe neighborhood. Functioning street lights, yard lights, motion-sensitive, and pathway lighting can help all residents feel safe &mdash; especially senior citizens, single parents, kids, and evening walkers and runners. Good lighting also supports neighborhood watch efforts and community policing initiatives.</p> <h2>3. Beautify</h2> <p>The best neighborhoods reflect the pride and devotion of their residents. Take a critical look at the common spaces in your community. What could be done better? What areas could benefit from some good old-fashioned TLC?</p> <p>Plant flowers, repaint fences, clean graffiti, design a community garden, and patch broken curbs or sidewalks. Before you know it, your neighborhood will begin to visually reflect the energy, vitality, and hard work of its residents.</p> <h2>4. Develop Social Spaces</h2> <p>People congregate more easily when there's a designated commons or social space. Consider what areas in your neighborhood could become a hub for get-togethers, warm-weather meetings, or potlucks. Is there a vacant lot that could be landscaped or turned into a temporary community park with the owner's permission? Is there a nearby city park within easy walking distance that could become your neighborhood's unofficial gathering place? Get creative; explore what works in your area and make it part of the fabric of your neighborhood's identity.</p> <h2>5. Watch Out for Each Other</h2> <p>Formal and informal neighborhood watchdog programs are an essential component of creating a safe and secure community. Whether part of a small town or large urban area, watch programs promote an &quot;it takes a village&quot; attitude to community safety. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">Why Don't People Share More?</a>)</p> <p>Encourage participation from all residents and <a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_6768521_create-neighborhood-watch-organization.html">set up a clear process</a> for escalating minor and major issues. If your neighborhood is challenged by consistently high crime rates, let local law enforcement know about your program and work with them to refine your program's safety strategies.</p> <h2>6. Celebrate</h2> <p>Secure a street closure permit from your city and throw a party. Labor Day or Halloween celebrations can include all the classic ingredients &mdash; potluck dinners, bobbing for apples, egg tosses, face painting, and live music. Celebrating responsibly together encourages neighbors to mix and mingle in a casual and light-hearted environment &mdash; building the bonds and personal relationships that help move other community initiatives forward. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/throw-a-swap-meet-party">Throw a Swap Meet Party</a>)</p> <h2>7. Establish Clear Communication Channels</h2> <p>Use technology to keep everyone in the loop. Establish an email distribution list or monthly e-newsletter for your neighborhood. Include regular posts about neighborhood news, events, issues, and crime reports. Take a broader editorial perspective and examine how city and county news could affect your neighborhood. For older or non-wired residents, add a snail mail option for the newsletter and organize a phone tree so they can be included in last-minute meetings or events.</p> <h2>8. Host Regular Events</h2> <p>You don't need a street closure permit for a casual neighborhood potluck or yard sale. Regular events help keep neighborhood residents engaged, talking to each other, and focused on building a better and safer community. As you organize and schedule regular events, don't forget about the elderly members in your neighborhood; solicit volunteers to provide whatever logistical support they may need to fully participate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">5 Potluck Parties That Help You Share the Wealth</a>)</p> <p>Great neighborhoods feel like little villages within larger towns, providing residents with a sense of identity and community. And better neighborhoods are built one step at a time through a combination of organization, determination, and simple face time. Residents that successfully revitalize their communities' past and reshape their futures take a proactive approach, managing neglected aspects of their neighborhood and engaging the talents, skills, and energy of each resident.</p> <p><em>Have you connected with your neighbors? What's worked to bring your community together?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/housing-values-in-relationship-to-proximity-to-certain-stores">Housing Values in Relationship to Proximity to Certain Stores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait">Home Maintenance and Repair: What&#039;s an Emergency and What Can Wait?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/garage-triage-organize-your-garage-for-maximum-chore-and-storage-efficiency">Garage Triage: Organize Your Garage for Maximum Chore and Storage Efficiency</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer home values neighborhoods refinancing Mon, 12 Aug 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Kentin Waits 981183 at http://www.wisebread.com Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan: 15 or 30 Years? http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house-348117-small.jpg" alt="house" title="house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When my husband and I decided to refinance our home earlier this year, we were faced with <em>the</em> major decision all home loan borrowers face&nbsp;&mdash; 15-year mortgage or 30-year mortgage?</p> <p>Whether you are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-real-estate-terms-every-home-buyer-should-understand">buying a home</a> for the first time or whether you're an old pro at the refinancing game, you need to determine whether it makes more sense for you to get a 15-year mortgage or a 30-year mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-year-mortgage-take-it-or-leave-it">The 7-Year Mortgage: Take It or Leave It?</a>)</p> <p>While you will also need to decide whether you want a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fixed-or-adjustable-choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan">fixed rate loan or an adjustable rate loan</a>, the first big decision you make has to do with the length of your mortgage term.</p> <p>In the end, the decision is usually made based on monthly cash flow.</p> <h2>15-Year Mortgage</h2> <p>The biggest advantage of the 15-year mortgage is that you can save money over the life of your home loan. Not only do you have the loan for a shorter period of time, but you also usually have a lower interest rate.</p> <p>Consider a $200,000 loan. A 15-year mortgage has a rate of 2.6% fixed, and a 30-year mortgage has rate of 3.4% fixed. This calculation doesn't include PMI, taxes, insurance, and other costs that might come with a mortgage.</p> <p>With a 15-year mortgage, your total on that loan would be $241,742.46. The total on a 30-year mortgage would be $319,306.49. You can see that you save a great deal by choosing a 15-year mortgage. Plus, you pay off the mortgage much faster. It can be a great choice for someone who is interested in saving money and paying off the house as soon as possible.</p> <p>The main downside with a 15-year mortgage is that you have a higher mortgage payment.</p> <p>In our scenario above, the 15-year monthly payment is $1,343.01. That, of course, doesn't include your other costs, from property taxes and insurance to utilities and maintenance. Compare that to the $886.96 monthly payment that comes with a 30-year mortgage.</p> <h2>30-Year Mortgage</h2> <p>30-year mortgages are popular mainly because they are more affordable on a monthly basis. When you get a 30-year mortgage, you can usually shave off between $300 and $500 a month, depending on the interest rate and the size of the mortgage.</p> <p>For someone just starting out, a 30-year mortgage is desirable because it makes the home more affordable. Many couples buying a first home have a hard time affording the monthly payment associated with a 15-year mortgage.</p> <p><strong>Payment Flexibility</strong></p> <p>Another advantage of a 30-year mortgage is that you have a certain degree of flexibility &mdash; even if you can afford the payments associated with a 15-year mortgage. When my husband and I refinanced our home, we decided to go with the 30-year mortgage, in spite of the fact that we could afford a 15-year loan. We realized that we have a certain amount of payment flexibility with a 30-year loan. This is comforting, since our income is variable.</p> <p>We can make 15-year loan payments with our 30-year mortgage. So, even though we have a lower monthly payment, we can pay more each month, applying the extra toward the principal. If you are interested in paying off your loan as quickly as possible, there is nothing preventing you from making payments as though you have a 30-year loan. If you run into financial trouble, you can stop making your extra payment, and return to the payment that you agreed to.</p> <p>With a 15-year mortgage, you are stuck with that higher payment &mdash; no matter what. If you miss payments because of financial difficulty, you run the risk of foreclosure. If all you need is $300 or $400 of breathing room for the month, and you are used to making 15-year payments on your 30-year mortgage, you have that option to cut back without jeopardizing your credit rating or your home.</p> <h2>How to Decide Which Mortgage to Get</h2> <p>Whether you choose a 15-year mortgage or a 30-year mortgage, it's important to make sure that you can handle your payments right now. Even the lower payments associated with a 30-year mortgage can be a problem if the mortgage is just barely affordable for you.</p> <p>In some cases, it's a straightforward look at the numbers. Can you afford the monthly payment with a 15-year mortgage? If not, you have little choice but to go with the 30-year mortgage. You can refinance to a 15-year mortgage, with a lower rate and a higher payment, after your income situation improves.</p> <p>However, if you have income flexibility, weigh the pros and cons. Decide what is most important to you. If paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible is the most important consideration to you, a 15-year mortgage will force you into disciplining yourself to make those payments. At the same time, though, a 30-year mortgage can allow you the same ability (just make extra payments) while providing you with a level of flexibility in your payments.</p> <p>Another consideration is whether or not you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rethinking-the-early-mortgage-payoff"><em>really</em> need to pay off your mortgage so quickly</a>. While it sounds nice in theory to pay off your mortgage in 15 years, while building up equity, for many that isn't a particular concern. This is especially true in a low interest rate environment like we are experiencing right now. If you can lock in a low interest rate for 30 years, and then invest the money you are saving each month over the 15-year payment, you can actually come out ahead, depending on market conditions.</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>For those who want to maintain cash flow flexibility, the best option is a 30-year mortgage. A certain amount of peace of mind comes with a 30-year mortgage, too, since you know that you might be able to handle a payment if an emergency strikes. However, if you want to lock in a lower interest rate, paying less and getting out of your mortgage sooner, a 15-year mortgage might be the better choice.</p> <p><em>What do you think? 15-year or 30-year? Why do you have the mortgage that you do?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/miranda-marquit">Miranda Marquit</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move">3 Times a Refinance Is the Wrong Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-refinancing-an-underwater-mortgage">7 Secrets to Refinancing an Underwater Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows">4 Mortgage Secrets Only Your Broker Knows</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer interest rates mortgage refinancing Wed, 22 May 2013 09:48:31 +0000 Miranda Marquit 974210 at http://www.wisebread.com