Tag Archives: Finances

What Does My Credit Score Even Mean?

What does my credit score even mean?

As we all know, credit can either help us turn our dreams into a reality or it can be the one road block that keeps getting in the way. What does my credit score even mean?

What is credit?

The credit scoring system was originally designed in the 1950’s to help lenders determine how well consumers could pay back borrowed money. While there have been many updates to how this system is used, the components of a credit score consist of these major factors:

  • Payment History – 35% Impact
  • Outstanding Credit Card Balances – 30% Impact
  • Credit History – 15% Impact
  • Inquiries or New Credit – 10% Impact
  • Types of Credit – 10% Impact

 

What can impact my credit score?

Paying off debts on time has the greatest positive impact on your credit score. Late payments, judgments and charge-offs all have a negative impact. Keeping lower balances on the open credit accounts you have is a sure way to keep that score going up! The longer you have positive credit history, the better. However, multiple credit inquiries in a short period of time, such as applying for multiple credit cards, can have a negative influence on your score. The type of credit you have is also a factor. Having a mix of credit, such as an auto loan and a credit card, is more positive than a combination of debt from multiple credit cards.

What if I don’t have any or enough credit?

There are simple ways to begin building credit history. Start establishing credit history by opening  a small line of credit with your bank or credit union and begin making minor purchases that can be easily paid off. Your bank may offer a secured credit card if this is your first time applying for credit. This type of card works like a debit card and will require deposited funds for purchases; just be sure your history will be reported to all three credit bureaus.

What if I have less than perfect credit when applying to purchase a home?

Knowing what is on your credit report is the first step. Obtaining a credit report will show which areas are helping your score and which areas need to be worked on. When applying for a mortgage, your loan officer will be able to see if there are any areas that need work to help you get on the right track for a future purchase.

Want to find out where you stand? Let’s get the conversation started.

https://alphamortgageapplication.com/

 

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How to sell your home fast!

In today’s market, homes are selling faster than ever. Have your sights set on your next dream home and need to get your current home ready to sell? Let’s take a look at a few ways to help you get your house to SOLD!

We can’t stress enough how important it is to get connected with an experienced real estate agent right away. Working with a quality real estate agent will not only give you the advantage of having their experience on your side but they can also help you get more from the sale of your current home, giving you a healthier budget for furnishing your beautiful new home!

Now, how do we get this place sold? One thing your real estate agent may share with you upfront is that the home needs to be priced appropriately. Okay, we can get a bit sentimental when it comes to putting a price on the house we made a home. After all, how can you put a price on the whole summer it took to get those flowers to grow in the back yard or the upgrades you paid an arm and a leg for to make the kitchen your morning oasis? While those items need to be accounted for to determine the home’s total value, the price that is set needs to be realistic for where your home is located and what it has to offer.

Vamp up your curb appeal:

This will be a potential buyer’s first impression of your home. The moment they pull into the driveway, buyers will make a snap decision before they even step out of the car. Bringing life to your home’s exterior is easier than you think.

  • Give a fresh coat of paint to old front and garage doors.
  • Clean the siding and clear out cobwebs and debris from the entryway.
  • Revamp landscaping by adding potted plants to the front porch and walkway.
  • Trim back overhanging tree limbs and lay down fresh mulch.
  • Lastly, don’t forget the welcome mat!

Create an inviting atmosphere:

Now that you have ensured potential buyers want to enter your home by dazzling them with newly enhanced curb appeal, it’s time to awaken their senses. When potential buyers are walking through your home, you want their first impression to be a great one! There is nothing that turns people away like a stinky sink or foul-smelling carpet. While getting the carpets cleaned may be an obvious check off the to-do list, adding simple scents to the atmosphere have been shown to help sell your home!

  • vanilla
  • orange
  • lavender
  • fresh baked cookies

Yes, fresh baked cookies! Popping a couple rounds of cookie dough in the oven when you have a showing will help buyers feel warm and invited into your space and make them want to stay.

Declutter, depersonalize and brighten up the place:

When families are walking through your home, they want to feel at home themselves. Clearing all the clutter and stowing all personal items will help open up the space and let their imagination run freely. Removing excess items will allow potential buyers to visualize the space with their own furniture. Painting the walls a neutral color and opening the blinds to brighten up the place will insure your home is looking its best.

The forgotten details:

Taking the time to check off a few last items on the list will ensure your home is walk-through ready.

  • Park vehicles down the street to allow for easy access
  • Take the pups for a walk or arrange for a place for pets to stay while your home is being shown by a real estate agent. An anxious pet can cause tension during a walk-through and deter potential buyers.
  • Leave a detailed list on the kitchen countertop describing the features of your home and neighborhood. Buyers want to know as much as possible, such as history of the home, upgraded features, school districts and amenities that set your neighborhood apart. Do you have great neighbors? Tell them about it! After all, who could know better than you?

 

Reverse Mortgages

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It’s no surprise to anyone when we say that the aging process is a difficult thing to handle financially. There are a growing number of seniors planning to retire soon that are struggling to figure out how they will continue to pay their mortgage, maintain their standard of living, and pay medical bills, make home improvements, etc. for many reasons. For many seniors, their home is their largest and most lucrative cash asset- and could be the golden answer in helping to solve their financial worries post-retirement. Enter reverse mortgages. With the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates at an all-time low, reverse mortgages are presenting themselves to be extremely appealing for home-owners aged 62 and older that are looking to tap into their home equity. This is why on March 1st, 2016, Alpha Mortgage started offering North Carolinian’s and Virginian’s reverse mortgages within their scope of services.

So what is a Reverse Mortgage?

According to the HUD, “A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan for homeowners 62-years or older that lets you convert a portion of the equity in your home into cash. Unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, HECM borrowers do not have to repay the HECM loan until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage.” Borrowers are still responsible for property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and property maintenance, but a reverse mortgage requires no monthly mortgage payments, and borrowers do not have to pay back their loan balance until they die, sell, or move.

Reverse mortgages are extremely complicated, but are great for seniors that are cash broke/ property rich, or cash rich/ property rich. The interest and fees on the reverse mortgage are added to your loan balance each month. Over time, your home equity will decrease as your loan balance grows. It’s the reverse of a traditional mortgage. The rising loan balance can eventually grow to exceed the value of the home, however, as the borrower (or the borrower’s estate) you do not have to repay any additional loan balance over the value of your home. Wade Pfau of The American College and McLean Asset Management, highlights what consumers need to know about repaying a reverse mortgage with tips such as “Prior to death, selling, or moiving, repayments can be made voluntarily at any point to help reduce future interest due and to allow for a larger line of credit to grow for subsequent use. There is no penalty for early repayment.” Read more of his tips here.

 Why would I get a reverse mortgage?

Reverse mortgages can be used strategically for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons that people take out a reverse mortgage is to stay in their current home without having to worry about their current mortgage payment.

Many people also open a line of credit with access to the cash over time to supplement social security, 401k, unexpected costs, or unexpected medical costs. People also use reverse mortgages to pay off existing mortgages, purchase a new home that better suits their needs with age, or as retirement income plans.

Sounds Great- Am I eligible?

To be eligible to receive a reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years of age or older, the property must be either 1-4 unit primary residences, condominiums, or manufactured homes that meet FHA’s requirements, homeowners must own the property as their primary residence and should have substantial equity in the home, borrowers must not owe any back debt to the government, borrowers are required to maintain the property in good condition to protect the value of the home, pay their taxes annually, and pay for their home owner’s insurance in accordance to HUD guidelines.

So there you have it! Reverse mortgages are great options for seniors who are interested in tapping into their home’s equity. As we mentioned earlier, reverse mortgages are excellent solutions for seniors, but can also be complicated, and aren’t for everyone. To educate yourself further about reverse mortgages, please visit our website devoted entirely to reverse mortgages here. If you’re ready to take out a reverse mortgage today, contact us, and let Alpha Mortgage ease in your retirement process.

Should I choose a 15-Year Mortgage or a 30-Year Mortgage

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So you’ve found your dream house, and have decided to start the lending process so that you can own the keys and start making it a home. Congratulations! Once you’re sure that you can afford the home, and have found an informed and transparent loan officer, the next thing as a buyer that you need to consider is whether you should choose to secure 15 year fixed mortgage, or a 30 year fixed mortgage. When determining which loan option is best for you, it is important to weigh out the differences in affordability, your degree of job security, as well as your saving habits.

The main difference between a 15 and 30-year loan is that fifteen-year loans typically have higher monthly payments with less interest, and thirty-year loans usually have lower monthly payments in which you end up spending more interest over time. The first step in determining which term to choose is using a mortgage calculator and crunching the numbers to figure out your specific individual options and the difference in monthly payments and total amount spent. Then, ask yourself what you can honestly afford. If you can comfortably make the 15-year fixed mortgage rates, do so. If not, the 30-year option is probably best for you. Remember that making extra payments when possible is always an option (although according to the FDIC, 97.3% of people do not consistently pay extra on their mortgages).

It is also essential to evaluate your job security and emergency funds when determining which loan to choose. Are you in a position/job with a paycheck steady enough to make those payments every month? It is important to remember that once you sign the loan, you will be required to make the same payment each month, and if you choose to go with a higher monthly payment (15-year loan) it is a good idea to have an emergency fund in place just in case something happens. If you don’t have adequate savings in place, or lack an emergency fund, it is a safe bet to go with a 30-year option.

Financial saving habits are also important to consider when determining whether to go with a 15-year or 30-year loan. Before choosing which term you want to have your loan on, evaluate your spending habits. According to USA Today, many people may lack the discipline needed to save long-term, especially in amounts that would offset what they would save by switching (from a 30-year) to a 15-year mortgage. A lot of times people need that extra money for something else, so they choose to keep their money in a 30-year mortgage with lower individual monthly payments. It is important to realize that you can always pay more of your mortgage off monthly, however, many people lack the discipline to send in the extra money every month when it isn’t required by the bank. If you are confident in your financial personal discipline, and do not tap into your savings (or will need to in order to afford a shorter term), a 15-year loan might be a good option to consider.

Be sure to consider your age and professional plan for the next 15-30 years when deciding whether you want to choose a 15 or 30 year loan. Are you planning on retiring? Do you plan on having children? What about other expenses that you will have (car, student loans, etc.)? Once again, it is important to answer these questions as honestly as possible, and to go over your options with your loan officer, who will be able to give his/her honest opinion based on individual circumstances and plans and which term will be best in your scenario.

Remember – in the end, your individual financial situation, goals, and comfort levels will determine which mortgage term you should choose, and what may be right for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will be right for you. However, a good rule of thumb remains: if you’re comfortable making higher payments (and have an adequate emergency fund), can meet other important financial milestones such as retirement and large expenses like cars and student loans, and have strong personal discipline when it comes to finances, a 15-year mortgage is a great option to own your home in half the time you would otherwise. If any of these conditions make you uncomfortable, it is better to go with the 30-year fixed loan and add in extra payments if you can. Let Alpha Mortgage help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing your loan term.