As a realtor (and former car sales professional), I’ve talked to a lot of people about their credit score. I find that many consumers rely on Credit Karma to know where they stand financially. However, in my experience, Credit Karma has never been accurate. But people use it because it’s free.
Credit Karma’s Help Center transparently reveals its service is “free” by generating revenue through advertising partners. The service provides you with personalized offers that Credit Karma algorithms calculate might be helpful to you based on your current credit situation.
Offers may include refinancing options if you look like you might be overpaying for a loan, or credit cards that could help you optimize your savings and earnings. When you click on their ads or sign up for one of the offers, Credit Karma gets paid.
These offers aren’t the devil. They can be quite useful (and sometimes very expensive). Credit Karma as a whole can give you a range and overall all pulse on your credit health. But, Credit Karma has some flaws that make is so you cannot depend on it to tell you the whole story, or even enough of the story.
Most importantly, it only shows you your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports. Experian is not included in Credit Karma’s algorithms. In regards to the service’s credit tracking function, it only tracks TransUnion.
If you think your credit score is below 500, 600…or even if it’s in the low 700s, you should definitely consider bringing the big guns. Click to watch a quick video to learn more
Before you start checking your credit, make sure you’re looking at your real credit score, according to “How Many Credit Scores Do you Have, and Which One Matters Most” from The Motley Fool Blog.
There are several credit scoring formulas out there that use data from the three major credit bureaus, but only one lets you know what lenders see: the FICO score, which is based on the consumer credit files of each of the THREE CREDIT BUREAUS — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. The FICO score is used in over 90% of lending decisions, so it’s easily the most beneficial for you to check.
The confusion comes when each of your three scores from the different bureaus are different. This happens because —
How your various scores are used depends on what type of credit you are applying for, as well as what credit-checking system the lender is using.
If you are applying for a mortgage, lenders will almost always check all three of your FICO scores. They generally use the middle score to determine your eligibility, but this can vary among lenders. So, if your three FICO scores are 708, 715, and 695, then the 708 score will be used to determine whether you qualify and what your rate will be.
On that note, have a credit score in the high 600s or low 700s really isn’t that great. You are still paying a lot more interest than someone with an 800 credit score. As I referenced earlier, The Motley Fool Blog says increasing your credit score above 800 will put you in rare company. In fact, only 1 in 9 Americans can claim they’re members of this elite club. Mean while, 8 out of 10 Americans have less than perfect credit. If you’re like the majority, you’re paying higher insurance premiums, higher interest rates and you risk your ability to get an apartment or are required to pay a high security deposit on utilities. And, if you’re trying to get a job in Corporate America, be prepared for the employer to request to check your credit before they high you.
Contrary to popular belief, racking up a high credit score is possible! First, if your credit score is below 740, consider going to an expert for help repairing and building credit. P.S. I’m a credit specialist and can work with anyone in the USA, so contact me now!
Then, once your FICO ducks are in a row begin following 5 simple, disciplined strategies to get from a 740 to an 800+:
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Posted in Community, Credit Repair, Foreclosure Tagged with: coldwell banker, credit building, credit repair, credit restoration, filing chapter 13, fix my credit, fixing foreclosure, grand rapids, home loan, how to buy a home, i want to sell my house, real estate, west michigan
Posted in Buying Tagged with: bad credit, coldwell banker, credit building, credit karma, credit repair, fix my credit, grand rapids, guide to home buying, home buyer seminar, home buyers seminar, home buying class, home loan, home mortgage, how to buy a home, real estate agent, realtor
If foreclosure is imminent or you’ve recently gone through a foreclosure, the next step is to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next.
The first stop is easy. Just breath. Take a big sigh of relief. Then, inhale the positive energy and exhale the negative. You more than likely have been dealing with a lot of stress over the last few months, and everything you’ve been dreading and fighting agains is upon you. But, it’s not the end.
Yes, there is life after foreclosure. I don’t mean you get to just walk away and forget it. Instead, this is a time of reflection, evaluation, rebuilding.
It might not be easy. In fact — if you’re lucky — this might be the worse thing you’ll ever have to go through. Yes, there are worse things than foreclosures. Still, the next few months will require “pull up your bootstraps” kind of effort to get yourself to the next step. I’ve compiled a list below of what you’ll need to think about now, beginning with where to live…
If you know you’re facing foreclosure, but a sheriff sale hasn’t taken place on your home yet, you still might have options instead of foreclosure. Read my recent post “Facing Property Foreclosure & How to Fix It.”
Live in the Home – If your state provides a redemption period after the sale, you often have the right to live in the home payment-free during this time period. For example, in Michigan, most homeowners get a six-month redemption period (up to a year in some cases) during which time they can live in the home.
Redeem the Home – Some states permit a foreclosed homeowner to buy back the home within a certain period of time after the sale. This is called a redemption period. To redeem the home, you would have to pay the total purchase price, plus interest, and any allowable costs, to the purchaser who bought it at the foreclosure sale. (Learn more general information about the right of redemption.) In order to redeem, the former homeowner has to come up with another source of financing. However, getting a bank to lend you money after a foreclosure can be very difficult, even if you have a steady income, since your credit score will have taken a bit hit.
Move Out or Get Evicted – If you don’t move out after the purchaser gets title to the home (typically either after the sale or after the redemption period), the new owner (often the foreclosing party, i.e. the bank) will start eviction proceedings to remove you from the property.
Rent – Most people become renters after experiencing a foreclosure – purchasing another house right away is usually not feasible. However, since a foreclosure appears on your credit report and most landlords check credit reports, finding a rental is not always a piece of cake either. The best thing to do is be honest and up-front with potential landlords. Explain why you were unable to keep up with your mortgage payments, and why paying your rent won’t be a problem (e.g., your mortgage payment increased and the rent is much lower, you were out of work for six months but have a job now). If you have a positive payment history for other bills, such as a car loan or utilities, mention it. Offering a higher security deposit, if you have the cash, or a co-signer with a positive credit history can also help. (They don’t have to live with you – just sign the lease, which makes them on the hook for rent payments if you don’t pay. Of course, you’ll need to find someone who is willing to be a co-signer.) Individual landlords are often more flexible and willing to overlook a foreclosure than a management company running a large apartment complex.
Understand the Deficiency Balance – The deficiency balance is the difference between the balance remaining on your mortgage and what the lender is able to get for the property. So if you owed $325,000 on your mortgage and the house sold for $200,000, you would have a deficiency balance of $125,000. In Michigan, the lender may obtain a deficiency judgment following a nonjudicial foreclosure, but the borrower can contest the amount of the deficiency if: the lender was the purchaser at the foreclosure sale, and the foreclosure sale price was substantially less than the fair market value of the property.
It is possible that you will be sued and your wages garnished. You can apply for a hardship exemption to stop garnishment, although this can be difficult to get. Filing for bankruptcy is another way to stop garnishment, but it will further damage your credit report. It is also possible that the lender may be willing to set up a payment plan or forgive the deficiency balance. In general, the IRS considers forgiven debt income, and requires you to pay taxes on it. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, you do not have to pay taxes on a forgiven deficiency balance if the home was your primary residence and the mortgage was used to build, purchase, or improve the home. (Refinanced mortgages are covered to the extent of the balance on the original mortgage at the time of the refinance.) Resource: Filing Bankruptcy Before or After Foreclosure
Consider Your Next Tax Bill – Uncle Sam always wants a cut, and it’s no different when you go through a foreclosure. It comes as a shock to many people, but the federal government considers a forgiven debt as a form of income, which means you might have to pay income tax on a foreclosure.
Repair Your Credit – The first step on the road to recovery is to start repairing your credit. The best way to repair your credit is to continue using credit, but make sure you keep up to date with your payments. People often make the mistake of closing credit lines or cutting up credit cards when their scores take a major hit. But shunning credit altogether only leaves a large gap in your credit history, which is nearly as troubling to lenders as a bad credit history.
Learn to Budget and Save – Regardless of whether you are a millionaire or making minimum wage, the foundation of financial success is the same – budgeting. Budgeting means analyzing what you have coming in, then developing a reasonable and goal-oriented plan for what goes out. Essentially, a budget is a tool that can help you make the most of your money. One of the best things you can do to prepare for the unexpected is to save. With savings, you don’t have to put car repairs or medical bills on your credit card or worry about how you will pay your rent or electric bill if you lose your job. Set yourself up for success by making saving an automatic process via direct deposit through work and periodic automatic transfer of funds from your checking account to your savings account.
Think About the Next Home You’ll Own – Repairing your credit is only one part of the waiting game. You’ll still need to find a lender willing to offer you a mortgage. Unfortunately, after a foreclosure, many lenders will give you the cold shoulder. However, there are some government-backed loans that can help speed up the process. For many people, an FHA loan will be the quickest path back to homeownership. After a foreclosure, the government body requires a three-year waiting period before you can qualify for another FHA-backed loan.
Posted in FHA Loans, Foreclosure, Selling Tagged with: affordable housing, after foreclosure, FHA loan, filing chapter 13, fixing foreclosure, grand rapids, home loan, michigan, real estate, selling your home in foreclosure, stopping foreclosure, west michigan
Mortgage insurance premiums on FHA-backed home loans will be lowered by 25 basis points, starting January 27, 2017.
The FHA estimates that the reduction will save homeowners an average of $500 this year, lowering the typical FHA house payment by more than $41 a month.
According to a HUD press release published January 9, the reduction will significantly expand access to mortgage credit and is expected to lower the cost of housing for the approximately 1 million households who are expected to purchase a home or refinance their mortgages using FHA-insured financing.
Consumer Affairs summed it up this way: when borrowers take out an FHA loan, they can borrow up to 96.5% of the home’s purchase price. For any loan in which the borrower puts up less than 20% of the money, the borrower is required to purchase mortgage insurance.
Since the government is guaranteeing the loan, the mortgage insurance reimburses the government in the event of default. The mortgage insurance premium is added onto the borrower’s monthly payment.
“After 4 straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it’s time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families,” Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), announced January 9.
National Association of Realtors President Bill Brown praised the move. “Dropping mortgage insurance premiums will mean a lot more responsible borrowers are eligible to purchase a home through FHA,” he said. “That puts more money in the fund to protect taxpayers, and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American dream.”
FHA loans are very popular, especially with first-time home buyers because the requirements are less strict than conventional loans. Borrowers can qualify for an FHA loan with a down payment as little as 3.5% and a credit score of 580 or higher. The borrower’s credit score can be between 500 – 579 if a 10% down payment is made. It’s important to remember though, that the lower the credit score, the higher the interest borrowers will receive.