mortgages http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7866/all en-US FICO or FAKO: Are Free Credit Scores From Credit Cards the Real Thing? http://www.wisebread.com/fico-or-fako-are-free-credit-scores-from-credit-cards-the-real-thing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fico-or-fako-are-free-credit-scores-from-credit-cards-the-real-thing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_reading_paperwork_471708004.jpg" alt="Woman learning if free credit scores are a real thing" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Building up and maintaining a good credit score is a great step toward achieving your financial goals. An <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-for-people-with-excellent-credit?ref=internal" target="_blank">excellent credit score</a> can open doors to better financing for your dream home or a more reliable set of wheels. When used properly, a credit card can help you start off, continue to improve, or even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">build back your credit history</a>. Your on-time monthly credit card payments count as 35% of your FICO credit score, after all.</p> <p>The traditional way to find out your credit score involves contacting one or all of the credit bureaus and paying for their service to provide your score. Thanks to FICO's Open Access initiative in November 2013, however, credit card users may be able to access their scores free, every month on their statements. More than 50 lenders, including American Express, Bank of America, Chase, and Capital One, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=internal" target="_blank">offer their customers free credit scores</a>.</p> <p>It's important to note, though, that the score you get on your statements may not reflect the actual score your mortgage lender or car dealership is looking at when considering you for a loan.</p> <h2>Case Study of a Free Credit Score</h2> <p>I have accumulated a few credit cards over the years, and some of those cards offer me a free credit score. I've looked at the credit scores indicated on my latest statements from each of these cards, and the scores vary by up to 59 points.</p> <p>So, what's going on? Which of these credit scores can I trust?</p> <p>The problem is that these credit cards are all using different factors and ways to calculate the score. Some of these factors include:</p> <ul> <li>The date my credit information was pulled;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The credit reporting agency they use; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The type of credit score they are reporting.</li> </ul> <p>Given these different factors, you can clearly see that not all free credit scores are alike. It's important to know what credit data you're getting to correctly evaluate your financial health.</p> <h2>3 Criteria to Analyze Your Free Credit Score</h2> <p>Based on these findings, let's review key questions that you should ask yourself about your free credit score from an existing card, or one from a card that you're planning to open.</p> <h3>1. Is It a FICO Score?</h3> <p>Not all credit cards offer the same free credit scores. Capital One offers free TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 scores to all of its cardholders and, since March 2016, to non-customers through its CreditWise credit monitoring service. CreditWise is available as a smartphone app and allows you to sign up for a new account within the app. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a>)</p> <p>Different credit cards use different algorithms to calculate scores. Generally, a FICO credit score provides you a closer look to what your lenders would actually get when pulling your credit score on their own. Credit scores other than a FICO are considered &quot;equivalency scores&quot; or &quot;educational scores,&quot; and are often referred to as &quot;FAKO&quot; scores. While a FAKO score may give you a general idea of where you stand with lenders, it may not be accurate enough to tell you whether or not you'll get approved for a loan.</p> <h3>2. If It's a FICO Score, Which One Is It?</h3> <p>FICO has been in the credit score business for over 25 years and it has developed more than 50 types of credit scores! Most credit card companies offering a free FICO score provide the <a href="http://myfico.7eer.net/c/27771/178841/2185?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myfico.com%2Fcredit-education%2Ffico-score-8-and-multiple-versions-of-fico-scores%2F" target="_blank">FICO Score 8</a>. The key differentiating factors of a FICO Score 8 are that this score:</p> <ul> <li>Gives a bigger weight to cards that have a balance close to the cards' limit;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Is more forgiving than other FICO score versions to one-time late payments of at least 30 days;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Provides a bigger penalty for numerous late payments;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Reduces &quot;tradeline renting&quot; benefit (a credit repair practice in which individuals with poor credit are added as an authorized user to a stronger credit account); and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Ignores collection accounts with an original balance under $100.</li> </ul> <h3>3. What FICO Score Will Your Lender Use?</h3> <p>Depending on their industry and preferred credit reporting bureau, lenders can use different scores. Here are some <a href="http://myfico.7eer.net/c/27771/178841/2185?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myfico.com%2Fcredit-education%2Fcredit-score-versions%2F" target="_blank">examples provided by FICO</a>:</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/Screen%20Shot%202017-01-07%20at%202.47.52%20AM.png" width="605" height="277" alt="" /></p> <p>According to FICO, the FICO Score 8 provided for free by most credit card companies is most useful when applying for a credit card. For other purposes, your FICO Score 8 may not appropriately predict your likelihood of not paying as agreed in the future of a specific credit obligation.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line: Should You Sign Up for a Free Credit Score From Your Credit Card?</h2> <p>Yes, you should definitely sign up for that free credit score from your financial institution as long as it's a FICO score. The main reason is that the lowest price offering from FICO (9 FICO scores, including FICO Score 8, and Equifax credit report monitoring) is <a href="http://myfico.7eer.net/c/27771/218633/2185" target="_blank">$19.95 per month</a> or $219 per year. If your current card doesn't offer you a credit score or you're looking to take advantage of a balance transfer with a 0% promotional APR, here are Wise Bread's recommendations on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=internal" target="_blank">best credit cards that offer credit scores</a>.</p> <p>Having access to your free FICO Score 8 will allow you to save money on credit monitoring fees until you get closer to the acceptable range that your lender is looking for. Once you're closer to your target score, find out from your lender what score they are using and consider signing up for the <a href="http://myfico.7eer.net/c/27771/93942/2185" target="_blank">myFICO score tracking service</a> that gives you access to that specific score (ask for score name and company that issues it). While this option may cost up to $29.95 per month for a couple of months, it will allow you to have a more accurate picture than your FICO Score 8 and prevent a hard pull from your lender. Remember that each hard pull on your credit history slightly brings down your credit score, so it's a good practice to minimize hard pulls.</p> <p>Of course, make sure to read the fine print on the service agreement with myFICO so you don't miss the deadline to prevent a charge for the next month.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fico-or-fako-are-free-credit-scores-from-credit-cards-the-real-thing">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/is-an-fha-home-loan-right-for-you">Is an FHA Home Loan Right for You?</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/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores">The 5 Best Credit Cards That Offer Free Credit Scores</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-terrible-things-foreclosure-does-to-your-credit">3 Terrible Things Foreclosure Does to Your Credit</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/get-free-credit-score-monitoring-with-credit-karma">Get Your Free Credit Score from Credit Karma</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-things-lenders-look-for-in-a-loan-application">5 Things Lenders Look For in a Loan Application</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards auto loans credit monitoring credit scores fico free lenders mortgages myfico Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:00:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1870052 at http://www.wisebread.com My 2016 Budget Challenge: Can a Paint Job Help an Old House Pass a Re-Fi Appraisal? http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_painting_walls_539825724.jpg" alt="Couple doing paint job on old house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>[<em>Editor's Note: This is the latest episode in Max Wong's journey to find an extra $31,000 in a single year. Read the whole series </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/max-wongs-budget-0" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em>]</p> <p>We paid off our home equity line of credit two years early! It was a Festivus miracle.</p> <p>Kind of.</p> <p>Earlier this year, we failed to refinance the mortgage of Dinky Manor not once, but twice. We could not get our ramshackle, 1,000 square foot house to appraise for the whopping $640,000 we needed to get Mr. Spendypants out of his horrifically structured, pre-2007 housing crash home loan.</p> <p>For all of you wondering about that $640,000 for 1,000 square feet&hellip;I guess you don't live in Los Angeles.</p> <p>On Thanksgiving Eve, our friends Mary Ellen and Bob invited us out to dinner with Betsy and Murray (Mary Ellen's sister and brother-in-law). As Mary Ellen and Bob are both Wise Bread readers, they immediately started quizzing us about the 2016 Budget Challenge. They wanted to know all the sordid details &mdash; like how Mr. Spendypants puts up with my ever-increasing level of crazy. We were in the middle of whining about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-reduce-debt-or-save-for-an-emergency" target="_blank">our underemployment</a> and our ever more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-decide-when-to-sell-your-house" target="_blank">complicated real estate situation</a> when Murray reached across the table and handed me his business card.</p> <p>Murray is a mortgage banker.</p> <p>We followed up with Murray at his office the following week. He had already looked at a ton of real estate data for our area and couldn't understand why the house hadn't appraised for over $600,000. He started crunching the numbers. He thinks he can figure out how to refinance Dinky Manor's mortgage.</p> <p>However, Murray had two immediate demands. First, Dinky Manor needs an exterior paint job, stat. The fact that our house is the dumpiest on the block isn't helping our cause. Alas, we don't have the $17,000 it would cost to hire professionals to paint the house, so Mr. Spendypants and I will spend a relaxing winter holiday scraping and sanding 80 years of bad paint jobs off the outside of our home. Luckily, one of my best friends is a retired painting contractor. He has agreed to come out of retirement to help us rehab the house for the appraisal before the mortgage rates jump any higher.</p> <p>Could we pay down the home equity line of credit? This was Murray's second ask. Although our debt-to-loan ratio is better than average, if we zap our HELOC down to zero, it would make us look much less risky as borrowers.</p> <p>Conceptually, paying off the debt is a no-brainer. What the bank wants dovetails nicely with my goal of paying off the loan (that is due in 2018) by the end of this year. It's the actual execution of this goal that sucks. After a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-everything-breaks" target="_blank">solid start in January</a>, finding extra cash this year has been more difficult than we anticipated. Could we juggle the finances to pay off our loan at this later date without completely cannibalizing our emergency fund? Short answer: sort of. We took a $6,000 chomp out of our emergency fund. Since there is a small but real chance of us both being underemployed come March, and a somewhat larger chance that this mortgage refinance will fall through, this move makes us financially vulnerable.</p> <p>Worst case scenario: We have to take out a new line of credit in March as a precaution. While this would not be the end of the world, that situation would not be ideal. I would like to avoid being that loser personal finance writer who can't kick her debt habit.</p> <p>Best case scenario: The re-Fi goes through and we both find decent employment in March. If this happens we will be able to put the money we were using to pay down the HELOC each month toward replenishing our emergency fund and paying down the new, less expensive mortgage at a faster pace.</p> <p>Fingers crossed.</p> <h2>Progress So Far</h2> <p>Although we did pay off a $15,000 loan with money we had socked away, I am not adding the $6,000 we pulled out of our emergency fund to the plus column of my 2016 budget challenge because we are going to have to pay our emergency fund back, as fast as humanly possible.</p> <p>Panic is a really good motivator. If only we'd had that kind of &quot;inspiration&quot; all year long. We earned a combined $3,258.98 in the first two weeks of December. Here's how we did it.</p> <p>Mr. Spendypants and I DJ'ed a corporate Christmas party. Although we did not win one of the flat screen televisions that were raffled off as door prizes, we did make $1,500 for five hours of work. Also, we ate at least $800 in foie gras cotton candy, spearified olives, and wagyu beef, so that was a great job perk.</p> <p>To take advantage of the holiday shopping fever, I had planned to spend the first two weeks of December selling every single thing that is not nailed down in the house on eBay and Etsy. Alas, this did not happen, so my house is still filled with crap we don't need. Mr. Spendypants and I deemed it more prudent that I use every available second of daylight doing yard work and prepping to paint the house in advance of the looming mortgage appraisal appointment. We will save a lot more money if we can refinance the mortgage than I could ever make selling our stuff online.</p> <p>Even with my new, yucky manual labor schedule, I managed to earn $1,758.98 on the side. In a previous incarnation, I was a jewelry designer. Mary Ellen and Betsy were nice enough to buy $243 in old stock from me for holiday gifts. I made $41 selling books to a second hand bookshop. I have been <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15" target="_blank">propagating succulent cuttings</a> from my garden all year long. I made $124 selling little potted plants off my front porch to passers-by. I made $10.73 selling an old dress (that I had gotten for free) to a consignment store. One of my neighbors paid me $25 to run an errand for her, and another neighbor paid me $100 for pet sitting. I made $100 from writing jobs. I sold $707 in jam, honey, and handmade lip balm. Although I barely have any merchandise for sale on Etsy, I received a last minute order that netted me $363.25.</p> <p>Phew.</p> <p>Because I source holiday gifts year round, we actually managed to spend $0 on holiday gifts for friends and family this year. Just about everyone got <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-now-you-can-make-these-23-delicious-holiday-gifts" target="_blank">homemade goodies</a> that I had made in advance or gifts paid for through barter. This was a total win. Unfortunately, we did not get to wallow in our thrifty genius for long. We have spent $495 on painting supplies for the house so far&hellip;</p> <p><strong>Goal:</strong> $31,000.00</p> <p><strong>Amount Raised:</strong> $33,126.40</p> <p><strong>Amount Spent:</strong> $14,093.66</p> <p><strong>Amount Left to Go:</strong> $11,967.26</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal">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/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/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-decide-when-to-sell-your-house">My 2016 Budget Challenge: How to Decide When to Sell Your House</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/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/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 appraisal budget challenge HELOC home equity line of credit home loans max wongs budget mortgages re-fi refinancing Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:30:36 +0000 Max Wong 1870057 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Last-Minute Ways to Cut Your 2016 Tax Bill http://www.wisebread.com/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tax_time_clock_170171888.jpg" alt="Finding last-minute ways to cut your tax bill" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Before you know it another tax season will be upon us. Do your wallet a favor and score all the deductions you can with these last-minute ways to reduce your bill in 2016.</p> <h2>1. Investment Account Balancing</h2> <p>Year-end investment account balancing is a no-brainer. If you have a taxable investment account, you should review your transactions for the year to see if you're in a net capital gain situation. If you are &mdash; says Jacob Dayan, co-founder of tax-relief service Community Tax &mdash; find some losing positions that will offset the gains and liquidate them by the last business day of December.</p> <p>&quot;If you wish to remain invested in these assets long-term, you can buy them back after 30 days,&quot; he adds. &quot;Note that this strategy also works in reverse, with one difference. If you sell a net-gain position, you don't have to wait 30 days to buy it back. In either case, if you have positions involving multiple purchases over time, identify the specific assets you want to liquidate by purchase transaction to give you the greatest tax benefit.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Charitable Donations</h2> <p>'Tis the season to give unto others &mdash; if only for the tax breaks. You have until the end of the year to make charitable donations that will count toward your 2016 contributions for tax purposes.</p> <p>&quot;All charitable donations made to qualifying organizations before December 31 will count toward your 2016 deduction, as long as you itemize your deductions,&quot; says Pennsylvania-based certified public accountant William Ray. &quot;Deductions are generally limited to 50% of your adjusted gross income, although additional restrictions may apply for those in higher income brackets. You may also deduct the current fair market value &mdash; not your original cost &mdash; of noncash contributions made to qualifying organizations. Certain noncash contributions may require additional support or an appraisal, so you should review <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf">IRS Publication 526</a> before claiming noncash contributions.&quot;</p> <p>It's also important to track your volunteer time.</p> <p>Ray adds, &quot;Although you cannot make a deduction for your time, you may claim a deduction for any mileage driven using your personal vehicle ($0.14 per mile) and any out of pocket expenses that are not reimbursed. As is the case with any deduction, documentation and support should always be maintained for all contributions.&quot;</p> <p>Financial planner Andy Yadro details another option for end-of-year giving.</p> <p>&quot;Consider contributing to a donor-advised fund,&quot; he suggests. &quot;You get an immediate tax benefit and your money can be invested with potential to grow. This is a great last minute option for someone who wants to make a donation, but hasn't decided which charity it should go to.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Max Out Retirement Contributions</h2> <p>Were you fortunate enough to get a holiday bonus? Use it to top of your tax-deferred retirement accounts such as an IRA. Even better, kick in a few extra dollars from your regular paycheck. You'll boost your savings while reducing your taxable income. However, be aware of the contribution limits for both types of retirement account.</p> <p>&quot;If you or your spouse are not covered by a retirement plan through your employer, you're both eligible to contribute up to $5,500 each to an IRA ($6,500 if you are over age 50),&quot; Ray says. &quot;You may be eligible to make a contribution, even if you are covered by a retirement plan through your employer, depending on your income.&quot;</p> <p>You also have until April 15, 2017, to make this contribution and still have it count toward your 2016 taxes. However, it's highly recommended that you do not file your tax return until you make the contribution. If you claim the deduction but cannot pay, you'll need to file an amended tax return by April 15, 2017, or pay penalties and interest.</p> <h2>4. Pay Your State or Local Income Tax Bill Early</h2> <p>If you itemize deductions, you can claim a deduction for state income taxes paid during the calendar year. This includes any amounts paid for your 2015 tax liability that were paid in calendar year 2016.</p> <p>&quot;If you consistently owe taxes on your state or local tax returns, paying them early can result in immediate federal tax savings,&quot; Ray explains. &quot;States and localities allow you to make estimated tax payments or prepayments at any time during the year. If you make a payment before December 31, 2016, that payment can be deducted on your 2016 federal tax return. But be careful of overpaying. If you overpay and receive a state or local income tax refund, you will need to claim that as income on your 2017 federal tax return.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Make January's Mortgage Payment in December</h2> <p>One of the joys of homeownership is taking advantage of the various tax breaks the government provides. The biggest of these is the mortgage interest deduction. If you can spare the extra cash, consider making your January 2017 mortgage payment before the end of the year. You'll be able to deduct the mortgage interest on your 2016 tax form. Don't get greedy here, though. Tax law generally prohibits taking annual deductions on &quot;prepaid interest,&quot; so you won't be able to pay February's mortgage bill and claim that for 2016, too. For more on the tax advantages of homeownership, see the <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-are-tax-benefits-homeownership">Tax Policy Center's analysis</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip?ref=seealso">4 Tax Deductions New Home Owners Shouldn't Skip</a>)</p> <h2>6. Review Your Health Coverage</h2> <p>If you're covered by a high-deductible health plan, you may qualify for a Health Savings Account (HSA) and contribute $3,350 ($6,750 for a family) to the plan &mdash; all of it tax-deductible.</p> <p>&quot;Many employers now offer high-deductible health plans, meaning employees often have to pay thousands toward a deductible before their health coverage kicks in,&quot; Ray says.</p> <p>To offset this cost, you may qualify for an HSA.</p> <p>&quot;An HSA is basically a 'retirement account for health care' and is becoming more common each year,&quot; Ray continues. &quot;The HSA allows you to contribute to an investment account that can grow tax free over time, while receiving a deduction on your tax return. You even receive a deduction if you don't itemize. The account can then be used to cover qualifying medical costs. Unlike a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), an HSA is 'your money' and can grow over time, rather than being forfeited at the end of the year.&quot;</p> <p>Check with your employer to see if your plan qualifies for an HSA. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover?ref=seealso">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a>)</p> <h2>7. Prepay Real Estate Tax</h2> <p>If you foresee a changing income situation, supplement next year's loss with a right-now gain. Yadro suggests prepaying your real estate taxes and taking the deduction now.</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/7-last-minute-ways-to-cut-your-2016-tax-bill">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/cleaning-out-for-a-cause-make-a-noncash-tax-deductible-donation">Cleaning Out for a Cause: Make a Noncash Tax-Deductible Donation</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-should-make-these-11-easy-donations-before-time-runs-out">You Should Make These 11 Easy Donations Before Time Runs Out</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/charitable-giving-get-a-receipt">Charitable giving - get a receipt</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on">35 Bizarre Things You Can Be Taxed On</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes charitable deductions charity HSA income tax investments last minute deductions mortgages real estate retirement contributions tax bill tax deductions Mon, 26 Dec 2016 10:30:23 +0000 Mikey Rox 1860478 at http://www.wisebread.com Home Reverse Mortgaged? Here's How to Sell It http://www.wisebread.com/home-reverse-mortgaged-heres-how-to-sell-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-reverse-mortgaged-heres-how-to-sell-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_selling_house_185289787.jpg" alt="Couple learning how to sell a reverse-morgaged house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Reverse mortgages are becoming more and more popular as the U.S. population ages. In a reverse mortgage, instead of having to make a monthly payment on a mortgage until it is paid off, a homeowner receives an amount from the equity in their house every month.</p> <p>Reverse mortgages are often a boon to senior citizens living on a fixed income. It essentially removes the need to pay a mortgage every month by converting existing equity in a home into income that covers the mortgage. Reverse mortgages are available only to people 62 years of age or older.</p> <p>The downside, of course, is that reverse mortgages have the opposite effect on equity in the house that conventional mortgages do: They draw from it rather than adding to it. At the end of a reverse mortgage, there may be little or no equity left in the home.</p> <h2>Steps to Sell the Home</h2> <p>Given that, how do you sell a house with a reverse mortgage? After all, at some point the senior citizen may want to move into an assisted living facility or in with children. They may also pass away, and their heir is left with the task of selling the property.</p> <p>It's actually easier than you might think to sell a house with a reverse mortgage. Here are 10 steps you'll need to consider.</p> <h3>1. Know How Much Is Owed</h3> <p>The most important first step is to find out how much is owed in the reverse mortgage. The amount will include moneys paid out by the bank, plus fees and other charges.</p> <h3>2. Check the Paperwork</h3> <p>Read over the paperwork from the bank that made the reverse mortgage. You need to know the interest rate, any fees if the loan is paid off in full, and any other charges.</p> <h3>3. Look for Liens</h3> <p>Double check to ensure there are no other liens on the house. This is important because it can make a huge difference in any equity remaining in the house.</p> <h3>4. Ask for a Payoff Quote From the Lender</h3> <p>A payoff is the amount required to, as the term implies, pay off the reverse mortgage in full. It differs from how much is owed because of fees and other charges. You need to ask for this figure in writing.</p> <h3>5. Estimate What the Home Is Currently Worth</h3> <p>There are two possible scenarios here. One is if the house is worth more than you owe. It may have appreciated in value, or the reverse mortgage was not in effect for a long period of time &mdash; or both. In that case, you can sell the home just as you would sell any other home and realize the net appreciation between what is owed and what it sells for.</p> <p>The other scenario? The house may not be worth what is owed on it, or the market value may be so close to what is owed that you will lose money on any sale. You are underwater on the loan.</p> <p>In the latter case, you have two options. One is to try to rent the house to receive income from it. The other is to see if the reverse mortgage can be converted into a regular mortgage. If it can, you begin making mortgage payments on it and build up equity in the house, just as you would with any house purchased.</p> <h3>6. Make the Sale</h3> <p>If a sale does make financial sense, you proceed just as you would with any home sale. You can arrange for a private sale, or work with an agent. Most agents will charge approximately 6% of the sale price to list and show your home. Remember that what is owed to the bank for the reverse mortgage has to be paid when the house is sold.</p> <h3>7. Make Repairs</h3> <p>Take care of any needed repairs or maintenance on the house to get it ready to show. If you are selling it privately, make a plan for where you will advertise and show it.</p> <h3>8. Hire a Lawyer</h3> <p>Because of the complexity of reverse mortgage sales, hiring a lawyer is likely a prudent move. A lawyer can ensure the terms of the sale are the most advantageous they can be for you. In some locations, a lawyer is required in a real estate transaction that involves any type of loan. Be sure to check any requirements in your area. Finally, the payoff of a reverse mortgage must be handled by an experienced person, and many lawyers are experienced in this area.</p> <h3>9. You &mdash; or the Buyer &mdash; Pay Off the Reverse Mortgage</h3> <p>Be aware that any buyer will need to have either cash to make the purchase or have financing in place if you do not have the money to pay off the reverse mortgage. They will essentially be providing you with the money to execute the payoff.</p> <h3>10. Close the Sale of the House</h3> <p>Issue the bank the payoff amount. You are finished selling the home with the reverse mortgage.</p> <p>As reverse mortgage become used more frequently by senior citizens, the need to sell homes with a reverse mortgage will become more common. These 10 steps will ensure you sell the house in the correct way.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-reverse-mortgaged-heres-how-to-sell-it">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/how-to-avoid-getting-scammed-with-a-reverse-mortgage">How to Avoid Getting Scammed With a Reverse 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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</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-homebuying-questions-youre-embarrassed-to-ask">5 Homebuying Questions You&#039;re Embarrassed to Ask</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-equity-loan-or-heloc-which-is-right-for-you">Home Equity Loan or HELOC: Which Is Right for You?</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/this-one-mistake-could-delay-your-retirement-by-10-years">This One Mistake Could Delay Your Retirement by 10 Years</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing equity fixed incomes mortgages retirement reverse mortgages selling a home senior citizens Fri, 23 Dec 2016 11:00:08 +0000 Anum Yoon 1860474 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Financial Moves Now That You'll Regret When You Retire http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-moves-now-that-youll-regret-when-you-retire <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-financial-moves-now-that-youll-regret-when-you-retire" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_uh_oh_175531215.jpg" alt="Learning financial moves now that you&#039;ll regret when you retire" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all make thousands of decisions every day. Come tomorrow, many of them won't matter much at all. But some decisions do have long-lasting implications. Here are five choices that may leave you longing for a do-over in retirement.</p> <h2>1. Borrowing From Your 401K</h2> <p>It's relatively easy to borrow from most 401K plans. However, the purpose of your 401K isn't to save for a down payment on a house or college bills. It's to build a nest egg for retirement. The more you nibble away at that, the less you'll have for your later years. The best approach? Consider your workplace retirement funds to be off limits &mdash; until retirement.</p> <h2>2. Resetting Your Mortgage Clock Past Your Retirement Age</h2> <p>Interest rates are very low, which has prompted many people to refinance their mortgages. It can be wise to swap out a high interest rate loan for one at a lower rate. However, if this is the home you plan to live in during retirement, make sure your new mortgage will be retired by the time you are. That may mean opting for a shorter term (15 or 20 years instead of 30) or committing to making extra monthly payments. (Use <a href="http://financialmentor.com/calculator/mortgage-payoff-calculator">this calculator</a> to help you figure out how much extra to pay.)</p> <h2>3. Claiming Social Security Too Early</h2> <p>There are some people who may benefit by claiming their Social Security benefits at the earliest possible age &mdash; 62. If longevity doesn't run in your family or if you absolutely have no other options but to take the money sooner than later, go ahead. But good things come to those who wait. When it comes to delaying the start of Social Security, those who can hold off will get quite a boost in benefits.</p> <p>When I looked up my own benefits (<a href="https://secure.ssa.gov/SiView.do">here's where to look up yours</a>), I saw that I'm eligible for $1,780 per month if I claim benefits at age 62. If I wait until my Full Retirement Age of 67, that amount jumps to $2,694 &mdash; a 51% increase. And if I wait until age 70, I would receive $3,441 per month &mdash; nearly twice as much as my age-62 benefit.</p> <p>And here's the other benefit from waiting. Men, I hope I'm not the first to break this to you, but you're probably going to die before your wife, unless she's a lot older than you are. And if your Social Security benefit is larger than hers, the more you can maximize yours, the more it'll benefit your wife once you're gone. That's because upon your death, she'll have the choice of continuing to take her benefit or yours.</p> <p>Social Security claiming strategies are so varied, complex, and important that it would probably benefit you to seek additional guidance via <a href="http://www.socialsecuritysolutions.com/">Social Security Solutions</a> or <a href="http://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/">Maximize My Social Security</a>.</p> <h2>4. Ignoring Inflation</h2> <p>I talked with a newly-retired woman recently who thought she was set for life. She took her savings, divided by her estimated number of years remaining, and was satisfied with her answer. Until I rained on her parade by asking how she planned to account for inflation.</p> <p>She didn't like the idea of investing any of her money in the stock market because she thought that was too risky. And yet, keeping all of her money in a bank savings account virtually guarantees that her buying power will steadily decline. Even a modest annual inflation rate of 2% will cut buying power nearly in half over the course of a 30-year retirement.</p> <p>Most retirees will need to accept the idea of maintaining some level of exposure to the stock market with their investment portfolio in order to make sure their money lasts as long as they do.</p> <h2>5. Counting on Paid Work in Your Later Years</h2> <p>One of today's most significant retirement-related disconnects is the difference between the number of today's workers who are planning to work in retirement (I know, it sounds like an oxymoron) and the number of retirees who actually do still work.</p> <p>An increasing number of people still in the workforce are pushing back their retirement date &mdash; some because they want the mental stimulation that comes from work, some because they realize they'll need the money. And yet, nearly half of people who are now retired left the workforce sooner than intended, many times because of health issues.</p> <p>By the same token, nearly two-thirds of today's workers expect to work for pay to some degree after retiring from their main career, whereas less than one-third of those who are now retired have worked for pay since ending their main career.</p> <p>The best advice? Plan physically, emotionally, and vocationally to work longer than you might prefer while you plan financially to retire earlier than you think you will.</p> <p>Clearly, what you don't do as you prepare for a successful retirement is just as important as what you do. Avoiding the five miscues just discussed will help you prepare well.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-moves-now-that-youll-regret-when-you-retire">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/12-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-retire">12 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Retire</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/4-of-the-fastest-ways-to-go-broke-in-retirement">4 of the Fastest Ways to Go Broke in Retirement</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/6-smart-ways-to-boost-your-social-security-payout-before-retirement">6 Smart Ways to Boost Your Social Security Payout Before Retirement</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/stop-falling-for-these-6-social-security-myths">Stop Falling for These 6 Social Security Myths</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/6-ways-to-guarantee-income-in-retirement">6 Ways to Guarantee Income in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k full retirement age inflation Mistakes money moves mortgages regrets social security Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:00:08 +0000 Matt Bell 1843961 at http://www.wisebread.com Rent Your Home or Buy? Here's How to Decide http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hands_small_house_71818037.jpg" alt="Deciding if you should rent or buy your home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are plenty of advantages to renting an apartment, and just as many to buying a home, instead. But what about financially? Is renting or buying the smarter money move?</p> <p>Not surprisingly, the answer is complicated, and depends on where you live, what kind of home you want to buy or apartment you want to rent, and how long you plan on staying in one place. Here's a look at the numbers that might help you solve the rent-vs.-buy puzzle.</p> <h2>Prices Are Rising for Buyers and Renters</h2> <p>Renting an apartment is more expensive today than it was even a year ago. But the same is true of buying a home.</p> <p>Consider the cost of buying a home. The National Association of Realtors reported that in September of this year, the median price of existing homes stood at $234,200.</p> <p>You won't necessarily have to pay $234,200 or more, depending on where you buy. But the median sales price continues to increase, meaning that home prices overall are on the rise. The median price in September was up 5.6% from the same month one year earlier, when it was $221,700. And don't expect median prices to fall anytime soon. The association says that September's price increase represents the 55th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.</p> <p>And what about renting? Apartment rents continue to rise, too. ApartmentList reported that in November of this year, the median national rent for one-bedroom apartments was $1,110 a month. For two-bedroom apartments that figure was $1,270. The good news is that median rents actually fell in 55 out of the country's 100 biggest cities from October to November, according to ApartmentList.</p> <p>The bad news? Rents are still higher today than they were one, two, or three years ago. According to ApartmentList, the median national rent was 2% higher in November of this year compared with the same month one year earlier.</p> <p>So no matter if you rent or buy, know that prices are generally rising.</p> <h2>Which Is More Affordable?</h2> <p>That leads to the big question: Given that both buying a home and renting an apartment are getting more expensive, which option is most affordable?</p> <p>The answer to this question includes plenty of variables. For instance, owning a home provides a tax benefit: You can deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage loan each year up to $1 million, resulting in a lower tax bill. But even this isn't a crystal-clear financial plus for all owners. You can only claim your mortgage interest deduction if you itemize your taxes. And if that interest deduction isn't higher than the IRS' standard deduction &mdash; which stood at $12,600 for married couples filing jointly and $6,300 for singles in 2016 &mdash; there is no real reason for you to itemize your taxes and claim the deduction.</p> <p>Then consider the variables of going the apartment route: You might be able to find an apartment with low rent. But that apartment might not be located where you actually want to live, especially if you want to live in the center of a large city. Apartments in urban areas tend to come with higher rents today.</p> <p>And if you do find a cheaper apartment, it will almost certainly not be a newer one. RENTCafe found that in 2015, 75% of all large new apartment properties built across the country were high-end luxury properties, buildings that charge far higher monthly rents. Most of these new apartments are being built in the center of big cities, too, according to RENTCafe.</p> <p>So if you want to rent an apartment in San Francisco? ApartmentList says that a two-bedroom apartment here had a median price of $4,700 a month in November, while a one-bedroom had a median monthly rent of $3,440. In Boston, two-bedrooms rented for a median price of $2,350 a month, while in Seattle it cost a median of $1,720 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,300 for two bedrooms.</p> <p>Given this jumble of numbers, is it cheaper to rent or buy? According to real estate website Trulia, buying a home is cheaper on a national basis. Though, not surprisingly, there are some caveats.</p> <h2>Nationally, Buying Is Cheaper</h2> <p>Trulia reported in October that buying a home was 37.7% cheaper than renting on a national basis. But that 37.7% figure only holds true for those who live in their homes for at least seven years and can afford to come up with a down payment of 20% on their homes.</p> <p>Given that standard, Trulia reports that buying is cheaper than renting in each of the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the country. According to Trulia, for example, it is 50% cheaper to buy in Miami and just under 20% cheaper to buy in San Francisco and Honolulu.</p> <p>Part of the reason that buying is more affordable comes down to mortgage interest rates. Rates are still at historically low levels, with the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey reporting that as of Nov. 10, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan stood at 3.57%. This makes borrowing money for a mortgage loan more affordable.</p> <p>Want to see what Trulia thinks of the rent-vs.-buy decision in your community? Visit the site&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.trulia.com/rent_vs_buy/">rent-vs.-buy calculator</a>, punch in your metropolitan area and wait for the results.</p> <h2>What Should You Do?</h2> <p>These numbers, and Trulia&rsquo;s rent-vs.-buy calculator, should serve as a general guide. But they alone can't tell you whether you should rent or buy. That's because everyone's situation is unique.</p> <p>Say you only plan to live in an area for three or four years before moving. Renting is almost always the better financial move. Say you hate the thought of mowing a lawn for 15 years. Again, renting might be the better choice, even if it is more expensive than owning a home. If you dream of gardening in your own backyard? Then buying might make you happier.</p> <p>Your best bet is to carefully analyze what you want out of a home, whether it's the stability of owning and building equity or the freedom that comes with renting. Then make your decision based on what type of home will best meet your needs.</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/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">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/the-3-best-cities-with-rent-control">The 3 Best Cities With Rent Control</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/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">5 Alternative Housing Options You Can Afford</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/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</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-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments cost of living homeownership mortgages rent vs buy renting Tue, 22 Nov 2016 11:00:15 +0000 Dan Rafter 1835351 at http://www.wisebread.com Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_cash_grass_13020597_0.jpg" alt="Finding ways to watch out for last minute home buying costs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2015, 5,250,000 existing homes and 510,000 newly constructed properties were <a href="http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics">sold in the U.S</a>. And as Wise Bread predicted back in December 2015, homes have been one of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-necessities-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2016">necessities that are cheaper in 2016</a>, boosting the percentage of first-time homebuyers entering the market.</p> <p>But unexpected costs toward the end of the buying process can leave prospective buyers scrambling at the last minute or, even worse, unable to land the home of their dreams. Let's take a look at five pesky home buying costs that could appear at the eleventh hour.</p> <h2>1. Lower Property Appraisal</h2> <p>The seller told you that the home is worth $350,000 and you earnestly believed that valuation. So, you went to the bank and applied for a mortgage based on the market value of $350,000. To meet compliance requirements and to do its due diligence, the bank includes an appraisal contingency in your mortgage application. This clause requires that a third-party appraiser verifies that the home is actually worth $350,000.</p> <p>If the appraisal requested by your bank were to come under the $350,000, then somebody would have to come up with the difference for the bank to approve the loan. Depending on several factors, including the number of days the house has been on the market and the skill level of your real estate agent, the seller, her agent, or your own agent may help you with the difference. In the worst case scenario, you'll have to come up with the difference or have to say goodbye to that home.</p> <p>In the event that you believe the third-party appraiser may have provided an inaccurate estimate, you could hire another appraiser, submit that new estimate to the bank, and let the bank re-evaluate the mortgage. However, you would be most likely responsible for the cost of that second appraisal.</p> <h2>2. Mortgage Insurance</h2> <p>Let's imagine that you are in the process of saving for a decent down payment for your first home. Two years before you reach your savings goal, a home is finally available in your dream neighborhood. Your broker is confident that a similar home won't be available for another five years, so he suggests that you buy. The catch: You can't come up with at least 20% of the home value for a down payment.</p> <p>When you pony up less than a 20% down payment to buy a home, you'll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). The <a href="https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/hpa.pdf">Homeowner's Protection Act</a> requires homebuyers who finance more than 80% of a new home's value to purchase PMI. Keep in mind that this is protection for the lender (not you!) in case you default on your mortgage.</p> <p>The average PMI payment ranges from 0.5% to 1% of the total value of the home loan. Still, this cost isn't small potatoes. In 2015, the average value of a mortgage in the U.S. was $172,341. Assuming a 1% PMI, the average PMI payment in 2015 was about $1,723. That would be one cost that you would have to pay year after year until your loan value reaches 78% of the original market value of the secured property.</p> <p>Still, your lender may have a strong case to continue requiring the PMI in the event of a dramatic price drop in the market value of your home, an existing home equity line of credit (HELOC) on your property, or a long string of late monthly payments within the last two years.</p> <h2>3. Dramatic Change in Financial Situation</h2> <p>When you're in the process of buying a home, you should keep a consistent financial picture, especially with your credit score. So, delay buying all those expensive new kitchen appliances, pieces of furniture for your living room, and blue period art pieces on credit until you have the keys in hand. A dramatic change to your credit score is a major red flag for the lender and the financial institution may decide to offer the mortgage at a higher interest rate than originally expected &mdash; or turn down the loan entirely.</p> <p>Here are other financial do's and don'ts until settlement day:</p> <ul> <li>Do keep a good paper trail of the source of your down payment;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't make large transfers between your accounts;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do delay any other large purchases on credit, such as a car;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't miss any monthly payments on existing debt (they account for 35% of your credit score!);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do provide all documentation requested by your lender and agent within the stipulated time frame;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't open new credit or store cards.</li> </ul> <h2>4. Repairs</h2> <p>When you receive the report from a licensed home inspector, you may find that your dream home is not so dreamy after all. Take the comments from the inspector seriously and determine whether it's worthwhile to ask the seller to incur some of those costs, or to provide a financial remedy. After all, you'll be the one covering all of them once the home is yours.</p> <p>However, choose your fights wisely. No home is 100% perfect. Having to replace all door handles because you find them out of style isn't nearly as bad as having to battle black mold in the basement of your soon-to-be home.</p> <h2>5. Special Case: Hike in Homeowner's Association Fees</h2> <p>Last but not least, make sure to review the minutes of the meetings of the homeowner's association (HOA) for your property for at least the last six months.</p> <p>Pay special attention to two items.</p> <p>First, look for a schedule of upcoming monthly dues. In some cases, you may be welcomed with a higher-than-expected bill right off the bat.</p> <p>Second, watch out for any large projects that are under current review by the board of the HOA. For example, installing a complex system of solar panels on the roof or replacing all the windows of the apartment building because existing windows no longer meet city codes could both mean an ever-growing monthly HOA due. In certain circumstances, the HOA board could be planning to present you the option to pay your entire pro rata amount for the project or to finance the cost through the HOA's loan. Either option would put a dent on your monthly budget.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-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/5-reasons-why-2015-is-the-year-to-buy-a-house">5 Reasons Why 2015 is the Year to Buy a House</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/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</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/why-the-affordable-home-really-isnt">Why the Affordable Home Really Isn&#039;t</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-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisals hidden costs hoa fees home buying homeownership insurance last minute costs mortgages pmi repairs Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:30:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1835252 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/married_couple_home_18525549.jpg" alt="Married couple paying off their mortgage early" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hate sending that big payment to your mortgage lender each month? You're certainly not alone. But what if you had the ability to pay off that mortgage loan early, either by paying extra dollars toward your loan's principal balance or by paying off the rest of your mortgage in one giant payment?</p> <p>Should you do it? Or are there times when <em>not </em>paying off your mortgage early actually makes sense?</p> <p>Not surprisingly, it depends on a host of factors. Here is what you should look at when determining whether paying off your mortgage early is the best choice.</p> <h2>Tax Benefits</h2> <p>When arguing against paying off your mortgage early, most people point to the mortgage interest deduction. This allows most homeowners to deduct annual mortgage payments.</p> <p>There is a catch here, though: You can only claim the mortgage interest deduction if you itemize your taxes. And you should only itemize if your deductions are higher than the IRS' standard deduction, which as of 2016 stood at $12,600 for married couples filing jointly and $6,300 for singles and married people who file separately.</p> <p>This means that those homeowners most likely to benefit from the deduction are those who have purchased higher-priced homes, have a high interest rate on their mortgage, or are in the very early stages of paying off that mortgage. For other homeowners, the deduction will either be less than or barely more than their standard deduction.</p> <p>This means that you'll need to determine &mdash; perhaps with the help of your accountant or financial adviser &mdash; whether the mortgage interest deduction is really helping you at your current stage of paying off your mortgage. If it is, then factor this benefit in when determining whether you should pay off your mortgage early. But if it's not? Then don't let the promise of a yearly tax deduction influence your choice.</p> <h2>Other Debt</h2> <p>According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 3.54% as of Nov. 3. The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was an even lower 2.84%. Those are both extremely low interest rates.</p> <p>At the same time, financial website Bankrate reported that the average variable interest rate for credit cards stood at 16.28% as of Nov. 2.</p> <p>The message here is clear: If you are burdened with high-interest credit card debt, and you have enough money to spend extra on your mortgage loan or pay it off entirely, it makes more sense to put those extra dollars toward your credit cards.</p> <p>It makes financial sense to pay off debt that comes with higher interest rates first. It might feel good to make that big monthly mortgage payment disappear, but it's smarter to whack away at your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off?ref=internal">credit card debt</a>, which, thanks to high interest rates, can grow quickly each month.</p> <p>Before deciding to pay extra on your mortgage or pay it off entirely, look at your other debt first: Use your extra money to eliminate the debt that is costing you the most each month.</p> <h2>Are You Staying Put or Moving?</h2> <p>How long do you plan on staying in your home? Do you plan on living out the rest of your days there? Or are you already planning a move in five to seven years?</p> <p>It makes more sense to pay extra on your mortgage loan if you plan on staying in your home for a longer period of time. By paying extra each month, you can shave thousands of dollars off the amount you'll pay in interest during the life of your mortgage.</p> <p>But if you plan on moving in five years, paying extra doesn't make as much sense. You'll sell your home long before you come close to paying it off. So if you're not going to be a long-term resident of your current home, put that extra money to better use.</p> <h2>Are You an Investor?</h2> <p>Those who argue against spending extra on your mortgage say that most homeowners would be better off taking those extra dollars and investing them. This goes back to the low interest rates attached to mortgages today. If you are only paying an interest rate of 3.5% on your home loan, why wouldn't you keep that debt and instead invest in the stock market, where you could make a return of 7% or more on that money?</p> <p>This assumes, though, that you'll actually invest the money that you won't spend on your mortgage loan. If you're more likely to spend it instead, you're better off paying down your mortgage or even paying it off early.</p> <h2>Retirement</h2> <p>Are you close to retirement? You might want to pay off that mortgage early. It's best to enter retirement with as few monthly payments as possible. If you plan to stay in your home after retiring, paying off that mortgage early makes sense. You are then free to use that money that you would have sent to your lender each month however you choose.</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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</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/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use">15 Personal Finance Calculators Everyone Should Use</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/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</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/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying 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/home-reverse-mortgaged-heres-how-to-sell-it">Home Reverse Mortgaged? Here&#039;s How to Sell It</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing debt homeownership interest rates mortgages paying off early retirement tax benefits Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:30:27 +0000 Dan Rafter 1833769 at http://www.wisebread.com Everybody's Wrong About How Much House You Can Afford http://www.wisebread.com/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_moving_house_93431053.jpg" alt="Learning how much house you can really afford" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A home is one of the most expensive &mdash; and most emotional &mdash; purchases you'll ever make. That high cost and high emotion combination can be dangerous, tempting you to spend so much on a house that it ends up owning <em>you</em>.</p> <p>Instead, buy a house you can actually afford. What is a reasonable cost, you might ask? For starters, ditch the conventional homeownership wisdom, and consider this plan to help you buy a home you can truly afford.</p> <h2>A Reasonable Percentage</h2> <p>I've spent a lot of time crunching numbers to come up with <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/resources/">recommended cash flow guidelines</a>, showing how much various sized households with various levels of income can afford to spend on everything from clothing to vacations. All that spreadsheet time gave me more than a headache; it gave me a deep appreciation for the importance of keeping housing costs under control.</p> <p>Here's what I found: If you're going to be able to save for emergencies and near-term purchases, invest for longer-term needs such as retirement or your kids' college costs, live generously, and enjoy some financial breathing space, you have to keep your total housing costs (mortgage, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and association fees, if applicable) to no more than 25% of monthly gross income. Preferably, no more than 20%.</p> <p>Even more radically, I recommend that two-income couples run the numbers on what they can afford based on just <em>one</em> of their incomes.</p> <p>I know this all probably sounds ludicrous, but hear me out.</p> <h2>But I Qualify for More!</h2> <p>Mortgage lenders will typically allow you to devote 28% of your gross income to housing costs. They assume you'll have other debts as well and will be fine with that as long as it takes no more than 36% to 40% of your gross income to cover your housing costs and these other debts.</p> <p>But mortgage lenders aren't the ones who'll be making the payments. You will.</p> <p>Keeping your monthly housing costs within the parameters I suggested, and holding no other debt, will do wonders for your solvency and stress level.</p> <h2>Why Not Use Two Incomes?</h2> <p>If you're a double-income household, think twice before basing your housing decision on both incomes.</p> <p>If you don't have kids but would like to someday, and if one of you would like to step out of the paid workforce for a period of time in order to be home with your kids, it'll be a lot easier to transition to that life if your home doesn't require two incomes.</p> <p>That was the single best financial advice my wife and I received before we got married. Following that advice meant renting for the first 10 months of our marriage and then buying a condo in what our realtor optimistically described as &quot;an up and coming neighborhood&quot; in Chicago.</p> <p>After our first child was born and my wife left her job to be home full-time, the financial transition wasn't very difficult at all.</p> <p>The key to getting acclimated to living on one income is not getting acclimated to living on two incomes in the first place.</p> <p>If you don't plan to have kids, or if you do but you both plan to continue working full-time, it can still be dangerous to buy a house that requires two incomes. What if one of you loses your job?</p> <p><em>Choosing</em> to transition from two incomes to one because one parent wants to stay home for a period of time is one thing. Being <em>forced</em> to make that transition because one spouse goes through an extended time of unemployment is far more painful.</p> <h2>What If You Already Have a Two-Income House?</h2> <p>Very often, when people say they can't afford to save, invest, or support charitable causes they care about, it's because they're spending too much on housing.</p> <p>If you're in that situation, consider something radical. Consider moving to a home you can more easily afford.</p> <p>There's nothing easy about moving. I realize that. But I know two couples that have sold homes they realized they really couldn't afford. In both cases, moving was difficult, time-consuming, and even embarrassing. But both couples are so happy to have made the move. It's been better for their finances and their marriages.</p> <p>Keeping your housing costs reasonable is an essential part of wise money management. That means keeping your housing costs to no more than 20% to 25% of monthly gross income &mdash; and preferably basing that on one income. It's a radical idea, but it may just enable you to enjoy your home without financial worries. And that's worth more than extra square footage any day.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford">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/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a 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/23-hidden-costs-of-buying-an-old-house">23 Hidden Costs of Buying an Old House</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/when-location-isnt-king-how-to-choose-income-rental-property">When Location Isn&#039;t King: How to Choose Income Rental Property</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/how-to-house-hunt-without-leaving-your-couch">How to House Hunt Without Leaving Your Couch</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/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">Moving? Don&#039;t Skimp on These Critical Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing affordability buying a house cash flow expenses incomes mortgages new house single income Wed, 09 Nov 2016 09:30:07 +0000 Matt Bell 1827232 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Sources of Fast Cash Besides Your 401K http://www.wisebread.com/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-your-401k <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-your-401k" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/handling_cash_780905671.jpg" alt="Finding sources of fast cash outside of 401K" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're in the middle of a remodeling project, and due to unforeseen circumstances, your money runs out early. You can't live with a half-completed kitchen, but you can't pay for it to be finished right now. And while you have plenty of equity in your home and a healthy retirement account, there's nothing in the bank.</p> <p>Once you've decided to take out a loan, what is the best source of funds? Are 401K loans or borrowing against home equity ever a good idea?</p> <p>&quot;The best option is of course is your parents,&quot; says financial planner Bob Goldman. But if you can't tap the bank of mom and dad for an interest-free loan, your other best options are probably a cash-out refinance, a secondary mortgage, a home equity line of credit, or a 401K loan. Deciding which one to use requires some number crunching and a hard look at your personal situation, including your job security, your repayment timeline, and your will power.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance</h2> <p>Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, making now a good time to think about refinancing. When you refinance your home, you are replacing your current loan with a brand-new one, preferably at a better interest rate. Depending on how much equity you have in your home, you may have the option of borrowing cash at the time of the refinance &mdash; so that once all the paperwork is done, you'll have a lump sum in your bank account, which you will pay back as part of your regular mortgage payments.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance Pros</h2> <p>A cash-out refinance has a lot going for it.</p> <h3>1. Low Rate</h3> <p>A mortgage often offers the lowest interest rate you can get, outside of promotional offers. And because rates are near historic lows, a lot of people feel that locking in a low rate now for a long loan term is a good call.</p> <h3>2. Low Payments</h3> <p>Because the payback period will be long &mdash; generally 30 years &mdash; a cash-out refi can ease the month-to-month strain of repayment, especially if you are able to lower the interest rate. If you are paying, say, 5% interest on your mortgage and you are able to refinance to 3.77%, you could add $50,000 to your loan principal while only adding about $100 a month to your payment.</p> <h3>3. No Surprises</h3> <p>As long as you take out a fixed-rate mortgage, you know what your payment will be for the life of the loan.</p> <h3>4. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>The interest you pay on your refinanced mortgage will be tax deductible. According to this <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/do/hom09">mortgage tax savings calculator</a>, if you add $50,000 to a $200,000 mortgage, you could save about $10,000 in taxes over the life of the loan, more or less depending on your tax bracket and the interest rate.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance Cons</h2> <p>As great as a cash-out refinance is, it's not free money.</p> <h3>1. Risk</h3> <p>Your home is on the line. For most people, your house is your biggest asset, and putting it even at slight risk isn't a decision to take lightly. Far too many homeowners ended up losing their homes during the financial crisis when they overborrowed against their homes' value.</p> <h3>2. Fees</h3> <p>You have to pay closing costs, which average about $1,800 on a $200,000 loan.</p> <h3>3. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit, especially for the best rates.</p> <h3>4. Starting Over</h3> <p>One thing people often overlook when refinancing, Goldman says, is that taking out a new 30-year loan pushes out the date when you'll be done paying off your mortgage. &quot;You reset the clock on your mortgage,&quot; Goldman says. &quot;You're back to Day One, where you're paying mostly interest.&quot;</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a Cash-Out Refinance?</h2> <p>Getting $50,000 this way would cost a typical borrower about $30,000 in interest and fees over the course of 30 years at current interest rates. I calculated this using a mortgage calculator to compare the lifetime cost of borrowing $200,000 versus $250,000, keeping in mind that getting cash out usually increases your interest rate by about ⅛ percent. I added $2,000 in closing costs and subtracted $10,000 in tax savings.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan</h2> <p>A home-equity loan is so much like a mortgage that it's also known as a &quot;second mortgage.&quot; The only difference between this and a cash-out refinance is that instead of replacing your original mortgage with a new one, you're adding a second loan also using your home as collateral. But everything else &mdash; the fact that you're taking a fixed amount of money, usually at a set rate, and paying it back over time &mdash; remains the same.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan Pros</h2> <p>A second mortgage is a lot like a cash out refi, but with some wrinkles.</p> <h3>1. Simplicity</h3> <p>If you have a great mortgage rate on your home and don't want to change it, this is a way to borrow money while leaving your original mortgage untouched.</p> <h3>2. Shorter Time</h3> <p>If you have a 30-year mortgage but only want to borrow money for five to 15 years, you can do that with a home-equity loan.</p> <h3>3. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>Like a regular mortgage, your interest is usually tax deductible.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan Cons</h2> <p>You'll need to be sure you understand the downsides of this kind of loan.</p> <h3>1. Interest Rate</h3> <p>Data from Bankrate shows home equity loans averaging at least a percentage point higher than mortgage rates.</p> <h3>2. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit, especially for the best rates.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a home-equity loan?</h2> <p>About $11,000 in interest and fees to borrow $50,000 for 10 years.</p> <p>If you borrow $50,000 for 10 years through a second mortgage, you would pay about $13,000 interest over the life of the loan. Closing costs would be similar to a mortgage refinance, about $2,000. During that time, the mortgage interest deduction could save you about $4,000 in taxes.</p> <h2>Home Equity Line of Credit</h2> <p>Like a home-equity loan, a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a secondary loan that piggybacks on your original loan. As with both types of loans discussed above, your home is still the collateral. The big difference is that while you can get cash out of a first or second mortgage only once, a HELOC is a revolving credit line, meaning that you don't need to know upfront exactly how much you'll need over the life of the loan. You can borrow $10,000 this month for a new furnace, and then $5,000 another month for landscaping.</p> <h2>HELOC Pros</h2> <p>The key advantage of a HELOC is its flexibility, but there are others to consider, too.</p> <h3>1. Borrowing Flexibility</h3> <p>Experts recommend these loans for ongoing expenses such as college tuition, rather than a home repair that you might pay for in a lump sum. If you do a refinance and then realize you'll need to borrow more money, you would need to pay closing costs all over again and might not be able to lock in the same rate.</p> <h3>2. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>Like the above loans, the interest paid on a HELOC is usually tax deductible.</p> <h3>3. Payment Flexibility</h3> <p>Your loan may allow you to pay interest-only for a certain amount of time.</p> <h2>HELOC Cons</h2> <p>As with the other home loans discussed, a HELOC carries some costs.</p> <h3>1. Risk</h3> <p>Like both the above loans, your home is on the line.</p> <h3>2. Rate Uncertainty</h3> <p>Since HELOCs often have <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0227-home-equity-loans-and-credit-lines#lines">variable interest rates</a>, and rates are currently at historic lows, they will probably rise in the future. By law, how much the rates go up is capped &mdash; the lender must tell you the maximum potential rate when you take out the loan. The average HELOC rate at the moment is similar to home equity rates, or around a point above 30-year-mortgage rates.</p> <h3>3. Balloon Payments</h3> <p>Many HELOCs start out requiring only interest payments, then expect the borrower to pay the whole principal at the end. If you can't, Goldman said, you'll probably end up refinancing the debt into a much longer, more expensive loan.</p> <h3>4. Temptation</h3> <p>As with credit cards, having a line of credit to draw on can encourage overspending. &quot;It's one thing to be on a diet when the refrigerator is empty. It's another thing to be on a diet when the freezer is full of ice cream,&quot; Goldman said. &quot;You'll have this money available to you, so it will require a great deal of discipline to manage it.&quot;</p> <h3>5. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit to qualify, especially for the best rates.</p> <h3>6. Fees</h3> <p>You may or may not have to pay closing costs, and may be charged ongoing fees such as annual maintenance fees and transaction fees.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a HELOC?</h2> <p>Rough estimate: $9,500. It's more difficult to predict the lifetime cost of a HELOC if the rate is adjustable and the amount you owe on it varies, but this <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/adjustable-rate-mortgage-calculator">adjustable mortgage calculator</a> figures that with steady, modest interest increases, a 10-year, $50,000 HELOC could cost $14,000 in interest. Fees vary, but if your bank charges a $50 annual fee, that adds $500 to the cost. Subtract an estimated $5,000 in tax savings.</p> <h2>Borrowing From Your 401K</h2> <p>If you have a 401K retirement account through your employer, you might have the option of &quot;borrowing&quot; from its balance. This is not a true loan, since the money in your 401K already belongs to you. In reality, what you're doing is getting an exemption from early withdrawal penalties and taxation, as long as you promise to put the money back and pay yourself an interest rate &mdash; generally one to two percentage points above the prime rate.</p> <p>Despite all those articles out there warning you to avoid borrowing from your 401K, Goldman says this can be a good option if conditions are right.</p> <p>&quot;If I had my choice, I would definitely borrow from a 401K,&quot; he said. Although neither borrowing against your home or borrowing against your retirement are without risk, at least if you fail to pay back your 401K loan, you're not out on the street.</p> <h2>401K Loan Pros</h2> <p>This type of loan may be the easiest of all to get &mdash; it's your money, after all!</p> <h3>1. Qualifying</h3> <p>You don't need good credit to qualify for a good rate, making this an attractive option for folks who wouldn't qualify for a regular loan.</p> <h3>2. Risk</h3> <p>If you fail to pay it back, it won't affect your credit score or send collection agents after you. You also don't risk having your home repossessed.</p> <h3>3. No Bank</h3> <p>You pay the interest to yourself, which is sort of like not paying interest at all.</p> <h2>401K Loan Cons</h2> <p>There are not too many downsides to borrowing from your 401K &mdash; but there's a big one you should think very carefully about.</p> <h3>1. Risk to Your Retirement Savings</h3> <p>Failure to pay back this loan could cause great harm to your retirement account. For instance, if your employment ends for any reason, the loan becomes due immediately. If you can't pay it, it's converted to a distribution, which means that you pay taxes and (if you are under age 59 &frac12;, a 10% penalty). So you're basically stuck at your job while you have a 401K loan out; you might end up turning down a new job offer if you don't have the cash to pay the loan. Worse, if you get fired and can't pay it, you could be out of a lot of money in addition to having no job.</p> <h3>2. Double Taxation</h3> <p>The disadvantage that people often don't consider with 401K loans is that while you filled your account with pretax dollars, you repay the loan with post-tax dollars &mdash; but you'll have to pay tax again on the money when you eventually withdraw it in retirement. How much you can get: While home loans let you borrow a percentage of your home equity, 401K loans are capped at $50,000 or half your balance, whichever is less.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of Borrowing From Your 401K?</h2> <p>It would vary greatly depending on how close you are to retirement and how well the market does during your loan. Using <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/impact-of-borrowing-from-my-retirement-plan">this calculator</a>, I came up with an estimated cost of $25,000 in lost investment and tax benefits to borrow $50,000 for five years. That assumes your retirement account would have $10,246 less in it at the time of retirement, and that you lost out on $15,000 worth of tax benefits.</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>By these calculations, home equity loans tend to be less costly than mortgage refis or 401K loans. You should run the numbers using your own circumstances before making that determination for yourself.</p> <p>Cost is not the only thing to consider when deciding how to borrow. There's also the degree of risk involved, and the amount of time you have to pay the money back. Again, personal circumstances will dictate your choice: If you only need the money for a short time, for instance, until your stock options vest next year, a 401K loan might be the best choice. If you can't afford to pay the loan off in the near-term, the refinance gives you the most time.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-your-401k">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/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</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/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Can a Paint Job Help an Old House Pass a Re-Fi Appraisal?</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/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</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-things-you-need-to-know-about-credit-scores">5 Things You Need to Know About Credit Scores</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/never-borrow-money-for-these-5-buys">Never Borrow Money for These 5 Buys</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 401k borrowing HELOC home equity line of credit interest loans mortgages refinance second mortgage Wed, 02 Nov 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1825229 at http://www.wisebread.com My 2016 Budget Challenge: How to Decide When to Sell Your House http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-decide-when-to-sell-your-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-decide-when-to-sell-your-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_jenga_house_57875522.jpg" alt="Deciding when to sell your house " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>[Editor's Note: This is the latest episode in Max Wong's journey to find an extra $31,000 this year. Read the whole series </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/max-wongs-budget-0" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.]</em></p> <p>Mr. Spendypants and I have been struggling to improve our finances by reorganizing our debt, specifically the loans on our two houses. Because banks use a stricter set of guidelines for assessing risk for rental properties, it has proved impossible for me to restructure the mortgage on my rental property that I own in my own name. So, at the beginning of the summer, we set our sights on refinancing our primary residence that is in Mr. Spendypants' name.</p> <h2>We've Been Underwater on Our Mortgage for Almost a Decade</h2> <p>Here's the back story: Mr. Spendypants bought Dinky Manor for $585,000 in 2007, literally the week before the housing market tanked. He hadn't even moved in when he discovered that the property was now underwater. We have been patiently waiting for the market to recover for nine years.</p> <p>The real estate market in our neighborhood is now crazy. People are buying 400 square foot homes for $400,000 in cash, sight unseen. So, we thought, now is the time to jump at getting a better loan. Zillow appraises our house for over $740,000.</p> <h2>Those Two Times We Missed the Days of Sub-Prime Lending</h2> <p>In order to refinance, Dinky Manor has to appraise for $640,000. Alas, Zillow's appraisal of our house is wildly optimistic. Our mortgage broker had two separate appraisals done and both came in at $600,000. Although Dinky Manor measures in at just a smidgen over 1,000 square feet, we're not even the smallest house on the block. Also, our yard is large and gorgeous and has been featured in garden books and on the Sunset Magazine blog. How, in L.A.'s stupid expensive real estate market, are we missing the mark?</p> <h2>Some of My Best Ideas Are Really Dumb</h2> <p>In trying to figure out another way to lower our mortgage costs, I had a harebrained idea: I could sell my rental property, that has at least $600,000 in equity, and use the profit to buy Dinky Manor from Mr. Spendypants. We'd lose my future income generating property, but we'd end up owning Dinky Manor free and clear. Without a mortgage payment on either house, we could really start socking away the cash for early retirement.</p> <p>I called <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-reasons-why-an-accountant-is-worth-the-money" target="_blank">my accountant/therapist</a> to get her blessing. &quot;That is a harebrained idea for a couple of reasons,&quot; she stated, flatly. &quot;You guys should come into my office for a financial tuneup.&quot;</p> <p>When we arrived at my accountant's office she delivered the bad news: If I sell my rental house, I will have to pay between $200,000 to $300,000 in capital gains taxes. Also, even though my name is not on Dinky Manor's deed, I would not be able to buy it from my husband since we file our taxes as a married couple, so in the eyes of the IRS it's my house too.</p> <p>This is why I will never be successful as a master criminal. All the good financial loopholes have already been taken.</p> <h2>When Faced With a Financial Decision, Do the Math</h2> <p>My accountant had another scenario to pitch us: Sell Dinky Manor and move into my rental property as our primary residence. Even if we take a financial hit on the sale of Dinky Manor, the loan on my rental is half that of Dinky Manor. If we continue to live frugally like we've been living this year for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/max-wongs-budget-0" target="_blank">My 2016 Budget Challenge</a>, we could pay off my house in six years.</p> <p>Another bonus of this plan: If I sell my rental property, I have to pay capital gains taxes. But in California, when you sell your primary residence, you don't have to pay capital gains on the first $500,000. So, if I move back into my rental house and use it as my primary residence for 24 months, I could then sell it and walk away with a $500,000+ profit.</p> <p>Mr. Spendypants was shocked by this idea. He had hoped that we could wait out the housing market and flip Dinky Manor for a profit. But when my accountant did the math for him, he realized that we could be debt free and own a house outright in as little as six years, an impossible goal if we keep both houses. While the prospect of financial sustainability in six years is thrilling, the disappointment of only breaking even or even losing money on the sale of Dinky Manor hurt his brain.</p> <h2>How Do We Add Value to Our House?</h2> <p>I called my friend Andrew, a real estate agent who specializes in our neighborhood, and explained our situation. He agreed with our accountant's plan to sell Dinky Manor. Even if we lost money on the Dinky Manor sale, the amount we'd save by paying down the mortgage on my house early would more than offset that. Although we probably won't be able to buy another house, ever again, in L.A.'s inflated market, if we wanted another rental property down the road, we could use the equity in my house to buy property in another area.</p> <p>I asked Andrew if I could hire him to come over and do his own audit of Dinky Manor. Zillow values Dinky Manor at over $740,000. Why did our appraisals come up so short? If we couldn't get our house value up enough for a re-Fi, how would we ever get the value up enough to get the $60,000 down payment back if we sell it?</p> <p>Andrew spent over two hours looking at our house and yard. He also brought over some comps of similar homes that had sold in a one-mile radius of our house. His assessment: Dinky Manor is a dump. (Yes. Only in Los Angeles can a 1,000 square foot dump appraise for only $600,000). The appraisers had negatively compared our 1937 bungalow as a fixer-upper to new homes with Ikea kitchen cabinets and freshly installed privacy fencing. He gave me an extensive To Do list of home projects that would improve the house's value. If we fixed everything on his list, he would be able to put the house on the market with a starting price of $699,000.</p> <p>In order to get to this $699,000 price, we are going to have to repaint the house, build a deck, and do a complete redo of the kitchen, bathroom, and roof. This will cost between $40,000 and $60,000 depending on how lucky we get with sourcing the building materials. The renovation will be much more efficient and less stressful if we are not living in a house without a working kitchen and bathroom. If we empty out Dinky Manor before construction, we could possibly finish all the projects on the To Do list in one month (but I'm scheduling for two months).</p> <p>It's only October, and already I have My 2017 Budget Challenge in place. If we want to be mortgage free ASAP then here's our agenda for the next year:</p> <ol> <li>Save up at least six months of living expenses, because we will have to carry the mortgage of both homes during this process.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Give my amazing renters, who have lovingly cared for my house for the past five years, 90 days notice so they have ample time to find a new pad.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Move into my house the second the renters move out.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Because we don't have the savings to pay for the renovations and pay two mortgages simultaneously, we will have to take out a $60,000 Home Equity Line of Credit on my house (based on its insane amount of equity).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Renovate Dinky Manor.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Put Dinky Manor on the Market.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Sell Dinky Manor. If there is any profit at all (fingers crossed) from the sale, it will be used to pay down the Home Equity Line of Credit.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Refinance my house (now our primary residence) to get a better interest rate.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Aggressively work toward paying down the Home Equity Line of Credit and the mortgage of our one house.</li> </ol> <p>Looking at this list of things to accomplish is heart attack inducing. And, if it were up to only me, I'd probably have Andrew sell Dinky Manor as-is and eat the cost of the down payment just to avoid a year's worth of hassle and stress. But, Dinky Manor is Mr. Spendypants' asset, so he ultimately gets to call the shots on this one. This is financially risky. Worst-case scenario, we could lose $120,000 and a year of our life to this project. Best-case scenario, we could make $200,000 and lose a year of our life to this project. Either way, we will no longer have a $585,000 loan to pay down. We might lose a real estate battle, but could still win the war.</p> <p>A few days after giving me his advice (for free), Andrew called me with a job offer. He just started his own boutique real estate brokerage. Would I be interested in working a few hours a week, helping him set up his new company? Of course I said yes. Now I am getting paid to learn about real estate so I can be that much more prepared when it comes time to sell Dinky Manor.</p> <h2>Progress So Far</h2> <p>My mechanic just called me. &quot;I have good news and bad news to tell you,&quot; he said in that Swedish accent that sounds like lingonberry jam smells. &quot;The good news is that you passed your smog test. The bad news is that you can drive your car for another two years.&quot;</p> <p>Ha ha.</p> <p>Even though Mr. Spendypants earned an extra $800 this month DJing a party, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-everything-breaks">the car repairs</a> involved in getting my car to pass the smog test cost $700. So at the end of the month, he only came out $100 ahead on additional earnings. Boo.</p> <p>I made $375 this month working for Andrew, $450 for writing, and $630 selling jam and honey at a local craft and food fair for a total of $1,455 extra.</p> <p>Even with the additional earnings, as of today we have only have $10,741.51 in our savings account out of the $31,000 that we want to have by the end of the year.</p> <p>Will we make our goal?</p> <p><strong>Goal:</strong>&nbsp;$31,000</p> <p><strong>Amount Raised</strong>:&nbsp;$23,595.17</p> <p><strong>Amount Spent:</strong>&nbsp;$12,853.66</p> <p><strong>Amount Left to Go:</strong>&nbsp;$20,258.49</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-decide-when-to-sell-your-house">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/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Can a Paint Job Help an Old House Pass a Re-Fi Appraisal?</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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> <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-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Refinance 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/quicken-loans-review-competitive-rates-and-good-customer-service">Quicken Loans Review: Competitive Rates and Good Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Real Estate and Housing downsizing lending market crash max wongs budget mortgages refinancing rental property selling house underwater mortgage Fri, 14 Oct 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Max Wong 1812051 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_moving_boxes_87205321.jpg" alt="Couple finding ways to buy a house without a mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Although mortgages are a common way to purchase a home, you can only get one if you qualify. The qualifications include an acceptable credit score, a sufficient down payment, and meeting a bank's income and employment requirements. And let's not forget, every mortgage charges interest, which increases how much you pay in the long run.</p> <p>The good news is that a mortgage isn't the only way to purchase a house. If you think outside the box, you can possibly pull off a home purchase without a costly loan.</p> <h2>1. Live Off One Income</h2> <p>Some people like the idea of paying cash for a house, but don't think it's a reality. If you're a two-income household, one method for getting a home without a mortgage involves living off a single income for a few years.</p> <p>If you and your partner work and earn a decent salary &mdash; and live in an affordable area &mdash; you might be able to save enough for a cash purchase by keeping your life as simple as possible and subsisting off one income. This approach allows you to save 100% of the other person's take-home salary. So if you both earn $30,000 a year, rather than maintain a lifestyle requiring $60,000 a year, live frugally and save the other half of your combined income. In six years, you'll have approximately $180,000 cash for a home purchase.</p> <p>Of course, living simpler is much easier said than done. To make it work, consider renting out a room in your house or apartment to help cover expenses, or you can rent a room from family or friends. Other options include skipping vacations, spending less on entertainment, and sharing a car. These are sacrifices that pay off in due time.</p> <h2>2. Sell Your Home and Purchase Another One</h2> <p>If you're thinking about downsizing and you have plenty of equity in your current home, another option is selling your home, taking the profit, and moving to a location with a lower cost of living.</p> <p>This works if you're currently living in an expensive area but thinking of moving to a location where you can get more house for your money. Let's say you sell your current home and walk away with a profit of $150,000. This could be exactly what you need to pay cash for a new property in a different part of the country.</p> <h2>3. Get an Investor</h2> <p>Then again, maybe you're not looking for a primary residence, but rather an investment property. Getting a mortgage for an investment property is tricky. Many lenders require a higher credit score for investment properties, plus you'll need a higher down payment and cash to fix up the property.</p> <p>What you can do, however, is seek out an investor to cover the expense of buying and improving the home. Some investors will pay cash for properties and provide funds to rehab the property. Once you fix up and flip the home for a profit, you split the proceeds with your investor.</p> <h2>4. Use Seller Financing</h2> <p>If you can't get a traditional mortgage loan, seller financing is another option. This can work if your credit score is too low to qualify for traditional financing, or if you have a short employment record and can't qualify for a bank mortgage. Even if you have enough income to qualify for a home loan, most banks require at least 24 months of consecutive employment before approving an application.</p> <p>Sellers who offer seller financing are more flexible. You sign a promissory note saying you'll repay the loan and then the seller signs over the deed to the house. You become the owner of the house, but the seller is the bank, so you'll make payments to the seller every month. Since you're the legal owner, you can still sell or refinance the property.</p> <p>This type of financing typically has a short-term of three to five years with a balloon payment for the remaining balance due at the end of the term. Seller financing gives you time to improve your credit or financial situation so you can refinance into a traditional mortgage, at which point the seller gets their money.</p> <p>But while this mortgage alternative can work in theory, the hardest part is finding a willing seller. Not all sellers will agree to this type of financing. The ideal seller is someone who has plenty of home equity and zero mortgage.</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-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-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-15"> <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/how-to-house-hunt-without-leaving-your-couch">How to House Hunt Without Leaving Your Couch</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/youre-ready-to-make-an-offer-on-a-house-now-what">You&#039;re Ready to Make an Offer on a House: 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/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</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/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford">Everybody&#039;s Wrong About How Much House You Can Afford</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 buyers financing house hunting income investor mortgages new house sellers Thu, 06 Oct 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1805233 at http://www.wisebread.com How to House Hunt Without Leaving Your Couch http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-house-hunt-without-leaving-your-couch <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-house-hunt-without-leaving-your-couch" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_laptop_happy_91361537.jpg" alt="Woman house hunting without leaving her couch" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a new home can be exciting, but the process of hunting for one isn't always aces. Between work and personal obligations, your time may be too tight to drive from one bad house to another, just to be disappointed after each walk-through. Yes, it's time-consuming and exhausting, but the search has become a bit easier. With advances in technology, you can hunt for and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-negotiation-tricks-that-ll-win-a-home-bidding-war" target="_blank">purchase a home</a> without ever leaving your own house these days. Here's what you need to do.</p> <h2>1. Check Out Mortgage Calculators</h2> <p>Using a mortgage calculator doesn't take the place of speaking with an actual lender and getting preapproved for a home loan. But a mortgage calculator is an excellent starting point because you can plug in different variables &mdash; such as an estimated interest rate, home price, and mortgage term &mdash; to learn how much you can afford to spend on a property.</p> <p>Some calculators only estimate principal and interest, whereas more<a href="https://www.calcxml.com/calculators/mortgage-calculator"> advanced calculators include estimations for taxes</a>, insurance, and PMI. As long as you know the average prices of homes in your area, you can use a calculator to assess whether you can realistically afford to buy in a particular area. Calculators can also compare the cost of renting versus buying.</p> <h2>2. Compare Mortgage Options Online</h2> <p>It isn't enough to use a mortgage calculator; you also need to know your home loan options. Nowadays, shopping for a home loan and comparing mortgages has never been easier. Websites like Realtor.com and LendingTree.com allow borrowers to compare mortgages offered by different online lenders. You can even request free rate quotes directly from local lenders.</p> <p>Before purchasing a home, always get quotes from at least two or three lenders to ensure you're getting the best deal. Buying a home is expensive, but working with the right lender can help you save on interest and closing costs.</p> <h2>3. Research the Multiple Listing Service</h2> <p>The multiple listing service, or MLS, is a website real estate agents use to post their property listings. This is an excellent tool for house hunting without leaving your house.</p> <p>Before modern-day buyers had access to this invaluable tool, finding a property meant spending hours driving through neighborhoods in search of &quot;For Sale&quot; signs. This was tedious and prolonged the home search. The multiple listing service lets you search properties online based on specific parameters. The search results provide a listing of homes matching your criteria.</p> <p>You can search homes located within a particular ZIP code or price range, and you can narrow the results according to number of bathrooms or bedrooms. Not only can you find properties, some websites offer information on local realtors. If you're not working with a real estate agent, you can find contact information for agents and interview a few. Some websites &mdash; such as Zillow &mdash; have a feature that lets you read real estate agent reviews.</p> <p>Be aware, however, that the MLS doesn't have information on every house for sale in the area. Some sellers don't list with an agent. Therefore, you should also search other reputable websites, including FSBO.com and Owners.com.</p> <h2>4. Take a Virtual Tour of Properties</h2> <p>One painstaking thing about buying a house is spending hours touring properties with your real estate agent. It can take hours to drive from one property to the next, and it often takes several days to tour every property your realtor pulls.</p> <p>What if there were a way to speed up the process? Better yet, what if you could tour properties without physically being there? This is becoming more and more possible with virtual reality technology.</p> <p>This feature isn't available for every property or in every housing market. But if you're fortunate enough to take advantage of virtual home viewing, house hunting can become less of a chore. Wearing a virtual reality headset, you can take a 360-degree tour of properties for a buying experience unlike any other. And since you're not driving from property to property, you'll save time and tour more homes in a shorter window.</p> <h2>5. Set Up Email Alerts</h2> <p>The local real estate market changes from day to day. Homes are constantly being removed from and added to the MLS. To stay on top of what's happening in your community, you would have to check online real estate listings every single day. And unfortunately, your schedule might not allow this type of commitment.</p> <p>To make the search easier, go to different real estate websites and sign up for email notification. Based on your preferences, you'll receive an email whenever new listings matching your search criteria and price range appear on the site. You'll stay in the loop and learn about new property listings without having to drive up and down the neighborhood.</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/how-to-house-hunt-without-leaving-your-couch">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-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a 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/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> <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/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford">Everybody&#039;s Wrong About How Much House You Can Afford</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-things-millennials-can-do-to-buy-a-house-within-the-next-decade">5 Things Millennials Can Do to Buy a House Within the Next Decade</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/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing calculators comparing house hunting mls mortgages multiple listing services new house online tools real estate agents virtual reality Tue, 04 Oct 2016 09:00:13 +0000 Mikey Rox 1805036 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Negotiation Tricks That’ll Win a Home Bidding War http://www.wisebread.com/5-negotiation-tricks-that-ll-win-a-home-bidding-war <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-negotiation-tricks-that-ll-win-a-home-bidding-war" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_new_house_94294569.jpg" alt="Couple learning negotiation tricks to win a home bidding war" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're in the market for a new home, you might have discovered a frustrating truth by now: There aren't as many homes available for sale these days.</p> <p>The National Association of Realtors reported at the end of July, there were 2.13 million existing homes available for sale across the country. That might seem like a big number, but that figure is actually 5.8% lower than during the same month one year ago. And the inventory of homes for sale has fallen for 14 straight months.</p> <p>This means that when you do find a home that you'd like to buy, you might be bidding against other potential buyers who want the same property.</p> <p>How do you increase your odds that you'll actually win such a bidding war? Here are five tips that can make a difference:</p> <h2>1. Get Pre-Approved</h2> <p>The single most important step in winning a bidding war is to make sure that you are preapproved for a mortgage loan.</p> <p>In a preapproval, a mortgage lender will run your credit and ask for you to prove your monthly income and debts. You'll have to send your lender such documents as your two most recent paycheck stubs, last two bank statements, and last two tax returns. Your lender can then determine how much money it is willing to loan you for a mortgage. To close the process, the lender will send you a preapproval letter stating that it is willing to loan you a certain amount of dollars.</p> <p>Having this preapproval letter makes you a stronger buyer. A seller knows that you can qualify for a mortgage loan, and that the home sale is less likely to fall through if the seller accepts your offer. If a seller has to choose between a preapproved buyer and one who's never met with a lender? The odds are high that the seller will choose the buyer who boasts that preapproval letter.</p> <h2>2. Make a Full-Price Offer</h2> <p>In the hottest housing markets across the country, a growing number of sellers aren't just juggling offers for their homes, they're juggling full-price offers.</p> <p>Traditionally, buyers and sellers have haggled over a home's final sales price, with sellers usually lopping at least $5,000 or so off their asking price. But in today's low-inventory markets, this isn't always the case. If you fall in love with a home, be prepared to pay full listing price for it. If you don't, the buyer behind you might be happy to do so.</p> <p>And you can bet that the seller will gladly accept that full-price offer while ignoring yours.</p> <h2>3. Go All In</h2> <p>For the best homes in the best neighborhoods, you might have to make an even bigger financial commitment to win a home: Instead of just making a full-price offer, you might have to make a bid even higher than the residence's list price.</p> <p>This sounds ridiculous. Why, after all, would you ever pay more for a home than what the seller has actually requested? But if you are competing against several other buyers for a home, the winning bid might actually rise over the home's original listing price.</p> <p>You'll have to determine if you want the residence badly enough to make the unusual move of paying more than the home's original sales price.</p> <h2>4. Offer More Earnest Money</h2> <p>Sellers often request that buyers put down what is known as earnest money when they make an offer on their home. This earnest money &mdash; often 1% of a home's purchase price &mdash; shows that buyers are serious about purchasing a residence. It is usually nonrefundable if buyers walk away from an offer.</p> <p>If you want to make a good impression on a seller, come up with a larger earnest money deposit. This will prove to the seller that you are especially eager to buy their home.</p> <h2>5. Be Flexible With Move-In Dates</h2> <p>Many sellers can't move out of their homes as quickly as buyers want. If you're willing, though, to be flexible with your move-in date, you might be able to win out over bidders who are not as willing to compromise.</p> <p>Make it clear to sellers that you are willing to move in whenever it's most convenient for them. Making life easier for the sellers could pay off big when you're battling other buyers for a property.</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/5-negotiation-tricks-that-ll-win-a-home-bidding-war">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/2-things-you-must-know-about-the-new-mortgage-rules">2 Things You Must Know About the New Mortgage Rules</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/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Refinance Your 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/9-common-apartment-hunting-mistakes-to-avoid">9 Common Apartment Hunting Mistakes to Avoid</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-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny House</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/ask-yourself-these-5-questions-before-buying-a-home">Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing asking price bargaining bidding war home offer homebuyers mortgages moving new home preapproval Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 1796739 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times You Shouldn't Refinance Your Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_stressed_bills_85513247.jpg" alt="Couple learning times they shouldn&#039;t refinance their mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Refinancing your mortgage can drastically lower your monthly payments, especially since rates are still very low. The decision to refinance should be an easy one, right? Not so quick.</p> <p>Refinancing isn't for everyone or every financial situation. Here are five times you should hold off on refinancing your mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance?ref=seealso">ReFi Shy? How to Determine if Now Is the Time to Refinance</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Don't Plan on Staying in the House</h2> <p>If you plan on selling your home in the next five years, then hold off on refinancing it. The move will likely only waste your time and money. Selling too soon after refinancing means you won't live in your home long enough to capture the savings benefits of lower rates. Plus, you'll still owe any fees associated with the new loan.</p> <p>We made the mistake of refinancing our other home from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage. Our broker had talked us into it, saying it was a smart option. It wasn't. At the time of the refinance, I was pregnant with my second child, and truly planned to live in our first home for many more years. However, two kids under three plus one room equals a lot of sleepless nights.</p> <p>The decision to refinance ended up costing us more initially and monthly, especially since we sold our home just nine months later.</p> <h2>2. The Savings Don't Add Up</h2> <p>The reason why many individuals choose to refinance their mortgage is because they want to get a lower interest rate. Before you jump on the refinance wagon, do a little bit of calculating. Find out how much the refinance will cost you compared to how much it will save.</p> <p>Also realize that a refinance can add years to your loan. Don't automatically believe that you are benefiting from lower monthly payments if your loan has been extended an additional five years.</p> <h2>3. You Are Trying to Pay Off Your Loan Sooner</h2> <p>As I mentioned before, we refinanced our home to a 15-year loan because we wanted to pay off our mortgage faster. On paper, the numbers made sense, and the change was only going to cost us an extra $300 a month, which seemed doable. However, it would have been better for us to keep the 30-year loan and make the extra payments on our own terms. This would have given us more wiggle room in our budget for unexpected costs.</p> <h2>4. You Are Switching to an adjustable-rate mortgage</h2> <p>Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) rates are tempting to jump on, especially since they guarantee a low rate for a certain amount of time. However, interest rates eventually will go up. It's just the ebb and flow of the economy.</p> <p>With an ARM, you will pay more of the principal faster, which is nice, but you better be prepared to pay higher payments when the rates go up.</p> <h2>5. You Aren't in the Right Position to Finance</h2> <p>If for some reason your home has dropped in value, refinancing your home can tack on extra costs, such as private mortgage insurance. Borrowers with small down payments &mdash; or refinances with little equity &mdash; have to pay PMI until their equity reaches 20% of the home's value. For example, if you bought your house for $250,000, paid off $30,000 of it, but the value of your house dropped to $225,000, you would have very little equity in the home and in most cases have to pay for PMI.</p> <p>Another thing to consider before you refinance is your credit score and job history. If your score has dropped even just a little, you could miss out on qualifying for the lowest rates, which would make the whole refinance process not worth it. Also, if you recently switched career fields, i.e. going from a teacher to a computer system administrator, your pay might be higher, but your duration of employment might make you ineligible for a refinance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement?ref=seealso">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a>)</p> <p>Refinancing is a good choice if it means you can ditch annoying PMI fees and score a lower interest rate. However, a refinance is not for everyone, so be sure to crunch the numbers first.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-refinance-your-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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