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How To Get A Mortgage When You Have Bad Credit

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Bad things happen to good people, and bad credit is sometimes one of them. It can be a pain: A poor credit score makes it tougher to get approved for credit cards and loans. And when you are approved, the interest rates are sky high.

So for those of you with bad credit, it’s no surprise if you’ve written off becoming a homeowner. But don’t give up just yet. It is possible to get a mortgage with bad credit.

What Is Considered Bad Credit When Buying A House?

“Bad credit” can mean different things depending on whom you ask. That’s because you actually have dozens of credit scores, all of which vary depending on the credit bureau and scoring model. However, your FICO score is what’s used by 90 percent of lenders when making decisions.

According to credit reporting agency Experian, this is how FICO credit scores break down:

Experian notes that those who fall into the “fair” range are considered to be subprime borrowers. That means they represent a higher risk to lenders and, in general, are going to be subject to higher interest rates and fees when borrowing money. A score under 580 means your credit is in pretty rough shape and there’s a good chance you won’t be approved for a loan at all.

When it comes to what’s considered bad credit by mortgage lenders, it varies. Different lenders have different underwriting standards, and credit scores can play a bigger or smaller role in your overall approval chances depending on other factors, such as income, assets and the property you’re financing.

Typically, however, you’ll experience some friction if your score is between 620 and 740, according to Yves-Marc Courtines, a certified financial planner and former mortgage banker who now runs Boundless Advice in Manhattan Beach, California. He said a score in this range can result in a slightly higher interest rate, having to pay mortgage points or being restricted in how much you can borrow.

A credit score of 620 is considered the cutoff for getting a mortgage from traditional lenders.

“Buying a home with poor or bad credit is an option, but you may need to go through lenders of unconventional means,” said Abel Soares III, a former loan officer who is now a certified financial planner and CEO of Hui Malama Advisors in Honolulu. “This means that you may have to go through private lending or mortgage brokers and not your local bank.”

Bad Credit Mortgage Lending Options

Soares noted that with mortgages through private lenders (which include individual investors and “hard money” lenders that often finance individual properties), the interest rate for a borrower with bad credit will be higher and the minimum down payment will likely be heftier. “Keep in mind that if interest rates rise, you will be stuck with the existing mortgage and rate, so you want to make sure that you can afford the payment for the long haul,” he said. However, it might be better to rehab your credit score and refinance at a lower rate in the future. If you had to accept a prepayment penalty on the loan, check that the terms don’t make a refi even more expensive. Also, watch for “creative” loan structures that can saddle you with unaffordable payments after the first few years.

You might also be subject to stricter underwriting standards, which are the lender’s requirements to prove you qualify for the loan.

“There are often different underwriting guidelines, and the lenders may have you submit documentation different than your standard mortgage application,” Soares explained. In other words, be prepared to jump through a few more hoops if your credit is fair or very poor.

But private lenders aren’t your only options. Here’s a look at what else you can do to get approved for a mortgage with bad credit.

Give Government-Backed Loans A Shot

According to Courtines, a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is probably your best bet if your credit score is under 620. In fact, even with a score as low as 580, you can qualify for an FHA mortgage with as little as 3.5 percent down. If your score is lower than that, you’ll be required to put at least 10 percent down. The credit score cutoff for FHA loans is 500.

However, there are a couple of downsides. FHA loans require you to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium of 1.75 percent of loan value, plus monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums of 0.45 to 1.05 percent of the loan value. If you put less than 10 percent down, you have to pay PMI for the duration of the loan. Plus, the loan amount is capped at $679,650.

If you’re a service member or veteran, you might qualify for a VA loan. According to Courtines, VA mortgage lenders typically require a credit score of at least 620, but it is possible to find some that will accept a 580. VA loans don’t require a down payment, but you do have to pay a funding fee, typically 2.15 percent of the loan value. Most loans are capped at $453,100.

Make Up For Bad Credit With More Cash

Since a low credit score is a sign to lenders that you’re a riskier borrower, offsetting some of that risk can help increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage. One way to do that is to offer up a bigger down payment.

According to a National Association of Realtors study from December 2016 to November 2017, 61 percent of first-time homebuyers put down 6 percent or less. But offering 20 percent or more will put enough of your own skin in the game that a lender might decide to lend to you despite your less-than-great credit. Plus, with more money down, you’ll enjoy lower monthly payments and won’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance.

Lower Your DTI

Another factor lenders consider is your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI. This figure represents how much of your income goes to monthly debt obligations, such as credit card, student loan and car loan payments.

The lower your DTI, the better, since you’ll have more income available to handle a mortgage payment. Usually, lenders require a DTI of 43 percent or less, though 36 percent is ideal. If you have bad credit, a low DTI ratio might make you a more attractive borrower. You can lower your DTI by either increasing your income or paying off some debt (or both).

Enlist A Co-signer

If you have a close family member or friend with good credit, you could consider having them co-sign the loan. A co-signer essentially lets you use their good credit to get approved ― but it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly.

Though the mortgage would be in your name, your co-signer would be equally on the hook for payments. So if you missed a mortgage payment, their credit would take a hit. If for some reason you decided to stop paying your mortgage, the lender could go after your co-signer for the money. Obviously, working with a co-signer requires a trusting relationship ― one that could be broken if you don’t handle your mortgage loan responsibly.

Consider Doing This Instead

Sometimes taking out a mortgage under less-than-ideal circumstances is the only way to get your foot in the door, so to speak. But, if you can, consider waiting and repairing your credit first.

“Over the years, working hard to improve… credit has yielded great returns for individual clients,” said Courtines. With good credit, you can save yourself the cost of higher interest rates and less favorable terms. It might seem like a lot of work now, but it can save you thousands in the long run.

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4 things kids need to know about money

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(NC) Responsible spending includes knowing the difference between wants and needs. Back-to-school season, with added expenses and expectations around spending, is the perfect time to not only build your own budget for the year ahead, but also to introduce your own children to the concept of budgeting.

The experts at Capital One break down four basic things that every child should know about money, along with tips for bringing real-life examples into the conversation.

What money is. There’s no need for a full economic lesson,but knowing that money can be exchanged for goods and services, and that the government backs its value, is a great start.
How to earn money. Once your child understands what money is, use this foundational knowledge to connect the concepts of money and work. Start with the simple concept that people go to work in exchange for an income, and explain how it may take time (and work) to save for that new pair of sneakers or backpack. This can help kids develop patience and alleviate the pressure to purchase new items right away that might not be in your budget.
The many ways to pay. While there is a myriad of methods to pay for something in today’s digital age, you can start by explaining the difference between cash, debit and credit. When teaching your kids about credit, real examples help. For instance, if your child insists on a grocery store treat, offer to buy it for them as long as they pay you back from their allowance in a timely manner. If you need a refresher, tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper can help you better understand your own credit score and the importance of that score to overall financial health.
How to build and follow a budget. This is where earning, spending, saving and sharing all come together. Build a budget that is realistic based on your income and spending needs and take advantage of banking apps to keep tabs on your spending in real-time. Have your kids think about how they might split their allowance into saving, spending and giving back to help them better understand money management.

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20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity

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Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from CreditCards.com. That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard

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Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of taxvanta.com, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

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