How Long Do Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report & Affect Your Score?

Your credit score is an important part of your financial life. Good credit can help you qualify for loans and credit cards and secure lower interest rates on those loans. Poor credit can make it expensive to borrow money and make some lenders refuse to lend you any money at all.

Usually, when you apply for a loan or credit card, the lender looks at a copy of your credit report. This places an inquiry on your report, which drops your score by a few points.

Understanding the impact of credit inquiries and how long the impact lasts can help you manage your credit score while applying for loans.

Calculating Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number that lenders can use to quickly gauge your trustworthiness as a borrower. Scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850, with higher scores being better. Generally, anything above 760 is seen as an excellent score while scores above 700 are good.

There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Each tracks your interactions with debt and credit to build a credit report for you. Using the information on those reports, as well as a formula from FICO, they calculate your credit score, often called your FICO score.

There are five factors that affect your credit score.

1. Payment History

Your payment history is the most important part of your credit score, determining more than a third of it alone. It tracks your history of timely vs late and missed payments. Making timely payments helps your score. Missed and late payments hurt your score.

One missed or late payment has a much larger impact on your credit than a single timely payment, so it’s essential that you work to never miss a due date if you want to have good credit.

2. Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization measures two things, your total amount of debt and the amount of credit card debt you have in relation to your credit card’s combined limits. The less debt you have, the better it is for your credit score.

3. Length of Credit History

The length of your credit history is also composed of two factors. One is the total amount of time you’ve had access to credit. A longer credit history means more experience with debt, which can help your score.

The other is the average age of your credit accounts. Lenders prefer borrowers who stick with credit cards and loans over those who bounce from account to account. The older your average account, the better it will be for your score.

4. Credit Mix

The more different types of loans you’ve had, such as mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, the better it will be for your credit score. Dealing with different types of debt shows that you can handle all the different types of credit.

5. New Credit

New credit looks at both any new accounts that you’ve opened as well as new loans you’ve applied for. This is where credit inquiries appear on your report. Each inquiry can decrease your credit score slightly.


What Is a Credit Inquiry & How Long Does It Affect Your Credit?

When you apply for a new credit card or a loan, the lender wants to know whether you’ll repay your debts.

Typically the lender asks one or more of the credit bureaus to send a copy of your credit report. When a credit bureau receives the request, it makes a note of the inquiry on your credit report. Each credit inquiry decreases your score by a few points.

Credit inquiries reduce your score because applying for new loans on a regular basis can indicate a risky borrower. If someone asks a lender if they can borrow $25,000 to buy a car, that is a relatively reasonable request.

But if someone asks to borrow $25,000 for a car, then needs another $10,000 personal loan the next week, and $50,000 the week after that, and then a new credit card a day later, it can throw up red flags. The person might be sending in so many applications because they’re running into financial trouble or because they don’t plan to repay those debts.

A single inquiry on your credit report can reduce your score between five and 10 points. It’s not a huge impact, but it’s noticeable for someone who is right on the border between good and excellent credit or fair and good credit.

Each additional inquiry drops your score, so applying for multiple loans can cause your credit score to drop quickly.

The impact of each credit inquiry reduces over time. If the rest of your credit report is good, your score will return almost to normal within a few months. Inquiries completely fall off your report after two years.


Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

When someone checks your credit report, it can place an inquiry on the report and drop your score. This can sound scary to people who use a credit monitoring service to keep an eye on their credit score.

The good news is that not every inquiry will hurt your credit score. When you apply for credit, lenders typically make something called a hard inquiry when asking the credit bureaus for a copy of your report. The bureaus take note of hard inquiries and put them on your credit report.

By contrast, soft inquiries are used by credit monitoring services or companies offering promotional credit offers or those helping you check if you’re pre-approved for certain products.

The credit bureaus don’t record soft inquiries into your credit, which means that soft inquiries have no effect on your credit score.

In simple terms, applying for a new loan or credit card usually involves a hard inquiry. Checking your credit without actually applying for a loan or credit card usually involves a soft inquiry.


What About Rate Shopping?

One of the best ways to save money on a loan — especially a large loan like a mortgage or an auto loan — is to shop around. If you get quotes from multiple lenders, you can choose the one with the lowest interest rate and fees to minimize your costs.

If each application results in a hard inquiry that hurts your credit score, rate shopping too extensively could damage your credit.

The good news for borrowers is that the FICO scoring formula accounts for the importance of rate shopping. For large loans like mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, all inquiries that occur within a short span — 14 to 45 days depending on the formula used — are treated as a single inquiry when calculating your score.

That means that you can safely compare rates from multiple lenders, as long as you get your quotes within a short period.


Final Word

Applying for credit cards or loans can place credit inquiries on your credit report, which can drop your score. To make sure you keep your score healthy, do your best to only apply for loans that you need.

As long as you use your credit responsibly and don’t apply for too many accounts in a short period, you shouldn’t have to worry about the impact that inquiries have on your credit score.

Source: moneycrashers.com

What Are the Challenges of Buying a Historic Home?

1.7K Shares

Home is where the heart is, so the saying goes. For many, that means a personal connection with a home and community. That often entails buying a home in a historic neighborhood. Buyers want to be located in a historic part of the city and have a home with unique features like carved moldings, custom fireplaces, and vaulted ceilings.

In some older cities, homes can date back to the 17th century, but often, historic homes were built in the late 19th or early 20th century. Historic homes are registered with the National Register of Historic Place, and they are deemed historic or “architecturally significant” if they exemplify a certain architectural style, demonstrate the essence of a certain period in history or are associated with a famous person.

Historic DIstrict SignHistoric DIstrict Sign

Located in a Historic District

When you consider the purchase of a historic property, you first need to determine if the home is located in a historic district. The United States has 2,300 local historic districts, and those districts place specific regulations on modifications to the property. Before you buy, you need to determine the rules that govern the district. Often times, a historic review board must approve any renovations to the property. The goal is to preserve the community’s historic feel. You don’t want someone adding modern elements to the façade of a historic home.

There is much debate about whether buying a home in a historic district is a good financial investment. Some find the regulations burdensome, but others believe there is strong demand for historic properties that have been well preserved.

“I think buyers see a property in a historic district as a negative because it restricts what they can do,” says Paul Whaley, of Boston’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Investors don’t like it either as it takes longer for approvals. In general, I think it depresses the value of a property.”

However, some studies have proved otherwise. In 2011, a study was done of historic districts in Connecticut, and it concluded that property values increased 4% to 19% annually. A different study of properties in New York City found that values between 1980 and 2000 increase more significantly for properties in historic districts on a per square foot basis.

An Emotional Investment

For many, buying a historic property is an emotional purchase. Historic homes are unique and often have a great story. People feel an emotional connection to the property and the historic community. That is not necessarily a negative, but it’s important to acknowledge that the emotional connection exists. You want to fully realize any potential problems without making an unwise decision. Step back and give some distance when making a decision that has such an emotional investment; it will minimize the chance for buyer’s remorse after purchasing.

Expensive to Maintain

Historic homes by their very nature are old and generally more expensive to maintain than newer construction. Unless they have been updated, the sewer, wiring, and electrical systems can be a nightmare to maintain. Plus, there is always the chance that significant water damage has happened over a long period of time. To conduct maintenance in these areas,  you often need to hire a specialized contractor, especially if changes must be approved by a historic review board. That means living in a historic home can be an involved commitment and require a significant amount of financial resources.

Possible Lead Paint and Asbestos

Lead paint and asbestos used to be common building materials in the United States, but they are now banned. When they are discovered in a historic home, you are often required to hire specialists to mitigate the problem. Lead paint and asbestos are both highly toxic substances, and you do not want them causing health problems to you or your family. You want to have them disposed of properly.

Historic Cape May HouseHistoric Cape May House

Mature Landscaping

Historic homes have been around for generations, and that often means the landscaping has been highly refined. Trees and shrubs are probably mature and well established. This might be an attribute that you desire, but it is something you need to be aware of when purchasing a historic home. You might have less ability to make major modifications to the landscaping.

Possible Tax Incentives

If you purchase a historic home, you might be eligible for tax credits for making modification and improvements. The federal government encourages people to purchase and rehabilitate historic structures and offers the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program. The program has helped preserve 44,341 historic properties since 1976, and has seen $96.87 billion worth of private investment. States and local communities also offer historic preservation tax credits. For example, Georgia offers a tax credit for 25 percent of qualified rehabilitation costs.

Financing and Insurance Can be a Challenge

Lending institutions often shy away from financing some historic properties, because they can be viewed as a higher risk. Lenders will often charge higher interest rates and fees when providing a mortgage for a historic property given the increased risk. As well, many historic homes do not qualify for a Federal Housing Administration loan guarantee. It’s a good idea to do your research before you make an offer on a historic home. You don’t want to get into the process and realize it will cost a lot more than you anticipated.

The same can also apply to homeowners insurance. Insurance companies want to limit their exposure, and they don’t want to have to pay to repair a historic home to its original condition. Unique architectural elements can be expensive to replace. Many times, insurance companies will want to have someone personally inspect the property before the policy is written. You will probably need to find an insurance company that specializes in covering historic properties, especially if the home is over 100 years old.


James Shea is an award-winning journalist and author. He owns Media Lab, a content marketing and search engine optimization company is Richmond, Virginia.

1.7K Shares

Source: homes.com

The Pros & Cons of Offering Owner Financing (When You Sell Your Home)

Sometimes, home sellers find a buyer eager to purchase but unable to finance the property with traditional mortgage financing. Sellers then have a choice: lose the buyer, or lend the mortgage to the buyer themselves.

If you want to sell a property you own free and clear, with no mortgage, you can theoretically finance a buyer’s full first mortgage. Alternatively, you could offer just a second mortgage, to bridge the gap between what the buyer can borrow from a conventional lender and the cash they can put down.

Should you ever consider offering financing? What’s in it for you? And most importantly, how do you protect yourself against losses?

Before taking the plunge to offer seller financing, make sure you understand all the pros, cons, and options available to you as “the bank” when lending money to a buyer.

Advantages to Offering Seller Financing

Although most sellers never even consider offering financing, a few find themselves forced to contemplate it.

For some sellers, it could be that their home lies in a cool market with little demand. Others own unique properties that appeal only to a specific type of buyer or that conventional mortgage lenders are wary to touch. Or the house may need repairs in order to meet habitability requirements for conventional loans.

Sometimes the buyer may simply be unable to qualify for a conventional loan, but you might know they’re good for the money if you have an existing relationship with them.

There are plenty of perks in it for the seller to offer financing. Consider these pros as you weigh the decision to extend seller financing.

1. Attract & Convert More Buyers

The simplest advantage is the one already outlined: You can settle on your home even when conventional mortgage lenders decline the buyer.

Beyond salvaging a lost deal, sellers can also potentially attract more buyers. “Seller Financing Available” can make an effective marketing bullet in your property listing.

If you want to sell your home in 30 days, offering seller financing can draw in more showings and offers.

Bear in mind that seller financing doesn’t only appeal to buyers with shoddy credit. Many buyers simply prefer the flexibility of negotiating a custom loan with the seller rather than trying to fit into the square peg of a loan program.

2. Earn Ongoing Income

As a lender, you get the benefit of ongoing monthly interest payments, just like a bank.

It’s a source of passive income, rather than a one-time payout. In one fell swoop, you not only sell your home but also invest the proceeds for a return.

Best of all, it’s a return you get to determine yourself.

3. You Set the Interest Rate

It’s your loan, which means you get to call the shots on what you charge. You may decide seller financing is only worth your while at 6% interest, or 8%, or 10%.

Of course, the buyer will likely try to negotiate the interest rate. After all, nearly everything in life is negotiable, and the terms of seller financing are no exception.

4. You Can Charge Upfront Fees

Mortgage lenders earn more than just interest on their loans. They charge a slew of one-time, upfront fees as well.

Those fees start with the origination fee, better known as “points.” One point is equal to 1% of the mortgage loan, so they add up fast. Two points on a $250,000 mortgage comes to $5,000, for example.

But lenders don’t stop at points. They also slap a laundry list of fixed fees on top, often surpassing $1,000 in total. These include fees such as a “processing fee,” “underwriting fee,” “document preparation fee,” “wire transfer fee,” and whatever other fees they can plausibly charge.

When you’re acting as the bank, you can charge these fees too. Be fair and transparent about fees, but keep in mind that you can charge comparable fees to your “competition.”

5. Simple Interest Amortization Front-Loads the Interest

Most loans, from mortgage loans to auto loans and beyond, calculate interest based on something called “simple interest amortization.” There’s nothing simple about it, and it very much favors the lender.

In short, it front-loads the interest on the loan, so the borrower pays most of the interest in the beginning of the loan and most of the principal at the end of the loan.

For example, if you borrow $300,000 at 8% interest, your mortgage payment for a 30-year loan would be $2,201.29. But the breakdown of principal versus interest changes dramatically over those 30 years.

  • Your first monthly payment would divide as $2,000 going toward interest, with only $201.29 going toward paying down your principal balance.
  • At the end of the loan, the final monthly payment divides as $14.58 going toward interest and $2,186.72 going toward principal.

It’s why mortgage lenders are so keen to keep refinancing your loan. They earn most of their money at the beginning of the loan term.

The same benefit applies to you, as you earn a disproportionate amount of interest in the first few years of the loan. You can also structure these lucrative early years to be the only years of the loan.

6. You Can Set a Time Limit

Not many sellers want to hold a mortgage loan for the next 30 years. So they don’t.

Instead, they structure the loan as a balloon mortgage. While the monthly payment is calculated as if the loan is amortized over the full 15 or 30 years, the loan must be paid in full within a certain time limit.

That means the buyer must either sell the property within that time limit or refinance the mortgage to pay off your loan.

Say you sign a $300,000 mortgage, amortized over 30 years but with a three-year balloon. The monthly payment would still be $2,201.29, but the buyer must pay you back the full remaining balance within three years of buying the property from you.

You get to earn interest on your money, and you still get your full payment within three years.

7. No Appraisal

Lenders require a home appraisal to determine the property’s value and condition.

If the property fails to appraise for the contract sales price, the lender either declines the loan or bases the loan on the appraised value rather than the sales price — which usually drives the borrower to either reduce or withdraw their offer.

As the seller offering financing, you don’t need an appraisal. You know the condition of the home, and you want to sell the home for as much as possible, regardless of what an appraiser thinks.

Foregoing the appraisal saves the buyer money and saves everyone time.

8. No Habitability Requirement

When mortgage lenders order an appraisal, the appraiser must declare the house to be either habitable or not.

If the house isn’t habitable, conventional and FHA lenders require the seller to make repairs to put it in habitable condition. Otherwise, they decline the loan, and the buyer must take out a renovation loan (such as an FHA 203k loan) instead.

That makes it difficult to sell fixer-uppers, and it puts downward pressure on the price. But if you want to sell your house as-is, without making any repairs, you can do so by offering to finance it yourself.

For certain buyers, such as handy buyers who plan to gradually make repairs themselves, seller financing can be a perfect solution.

9. Tax Implications

When you sell your primary residence, the IRS offers an exemption for the first $250,000 of capital gains if you’re single, or $500,000 if you’re married.

However, if you earn more than that exemption, or if you sell an investment property, you still have to pay capital gains tax. One way to reduce your capital gains tax is to spread your gains over time through seller financing.

It’s typically considered an installment sale for tax purposes, helping you spread the gains across multiple tax years. Speak with an accountant or other financial advisor about exactly how to structure your loan for the greatest tax benefits.


Drawbacks to Seller Financing

Seller financing comes with plenty of risks. Most of the risks center around the buyer-borrower defaulting, they don’t end there.

Make sure you understand each of these downsides in detail before you agree to and negotiate seller financing. You could potentially be risking hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single transaction.

1. Labor & Headaches to Arrange

Selling a home takes plenty of work on its own. But when you agree to provide the financing as well, you accept a whole new level of labor.

After negotiating the terms of financing on top of the price and other terms of sale, you then need to collect a loan application with all of the buyer’s information and screen their application carefully.

That includes collecting documentation like several years’ tax returns, several months’ pay stubs, bank statements, and more. You need to pull a credit report and pick through the buyer’s credit history with a proverbial fine-toothed comb.

You must also collect the buyer’s new homeowner insurance information, which must include you as the mortgagee.

You need to coordinate with a title company to handle the title search and settlement. They prepare the deed and transfer documents, but they still need direction from you as the lender.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the home closing process, and remember you need to play two roles as both the seller and the lender.

Then there’s all the legal loan paperwork. Conventional lenders sometimes require hundreds of pages of it, all of which must be prepared and signed. Although you probably won’t go to the same extremes, somebody still needs to prepare it all.

2. Potential Legal Fees

Unless you have experience in the mortgage industry, you probably need to hire an attorney to prepare the legal documents such as the note and promise to pay. This means paying the legal fees.

Granted, you can pass those fees on to the borrower. But that limits what you can charge for your upfront loan fees.

Even hiring the attorney involves some work on your part. Keep this in mind before moving forward.

3. Loan Servicing Labor

Your responsibilities don’t end when the borrower signs on the dotted line.

You need to make sure the borrower pays on time every month, from now until either the balloon deadline or they repay the loan in full. If they fail to pay on time, you need to send late notices, charge them late fees, and track their balance.

You also have to confirm that they pay the property taxes on time and keep the homeowners insurance current. If they fail to do so, you then have to send demand letters and have a system in place to pay these bills on their behalf and charge them for it.

Every year, you also need to send the borrower 1098 tax statements for their mortgage interest paid.

In short, servicing a mortgage is work. It isn’t as simple as cashing a check each month.

4. Foreclosure

If the borrower fails to pay their mortgage, you have only one way to forcibly collect your loan: foreclosure.

The process is longer and more expensive than eviction and requires hiring an attorney. That costs money, and while you can legally add that cost to the borrower’s loan balance, you need to cough up the cash yourself to cover it initially.

And there’s no guarantee you’ll ever be able to collect that money from the defaulting borrower.

Foreclosure is an ugly experience all around, and one that takes months or even years to complete.

5. The Buyer Can Declare Bankruptcy on You

Say the borrower stops paying, you file a foreclosure, and eight months later, you finally get an auction date. Then the morning of the auction, the borrower declares bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure.

The auction is canceled, and the borrower works out a payment plan with the bankruptcy court judge, which they may or may not actually pay.

Should they fail to pay on their bankruptcy payment plan, you have to go through the process all over again, and all the while the borrowers are living in your old home without paying you a cent.

6. Risk of Losses

If the property goes to foreclosure auction, there’s no guarantee anyone will bid enough to cover the borrower’s loan debt.

You may have lent $300,000 and shelled out another $20,000 in legal fees. But the bidding at the foreclosure auction might only reach $220,000, leaving you with a $100,000 shortfall.

Unfortunately, you have nothing but bad options at that point. You can take the $100,000 loss, or you can take ownership of the property yourself.

Choosing the latter means more months of legal proceedings and filing eviction to remove the nonpaying buyer from the property. And if you choose to evict them, you may not like what you find when you remove them.

7. Risk of Property Damage

After the defaulting borrower makes you jump through all the hoops of foreclosing, holding an auction, taking the property back, and filing for eviction, don’t delude yourself that they’ll scrub and clean the property and leave it in sparkling condition for you.

Expect to walk into a disaster. At the very least, they probably haven’t performed any maintenance or upkeep on the property. In my experience, most evicted tenants leave massive amounts of trash behind and leave the property filthy.

In truly terrible scenarios, they intentionally sabotage the property. I’ve seen disgruntled tenants pour concrete down drains, systematically punch holes in every cabinet, and destroy every part of the property they can.

8. Collection Headaches & Risks

In all of the scenarios above where you come out behind, you can pursue the defaulting borrower for a deficiency judgment. But that means filing suit in court, winning it, and then actually collecting the judgment.

Collecting is not easy to do. There’s a reason why collection accounts sell for pennies on the dollar — most never get collected.

You can hire a collection agency to try collecting for you by garnishing the defaulted borrower’s wages or putting a lien against their car. But expect the collection agency to charge you 40% to 50% of all collected funds.

You might get lucky and see some of the judgment or you might never see a penny of it.


Options to Protect Yourself When Offering Seller Financing

Fortunately, you have a handful of options at your disposal to minimize the risks of seller financing.

Consider these steps carefully as you navigate the unfamiliar waters of seller financing, and try to speak with other sellers who have offered it to gain the benefit of their experience.

1. Offer a Second Mortgage Only

Instead of lending the borrower the primary mortgage loan for hundreds of thousands of dollars, another option is simply lending them a portion of the down payment.

Imagine you sell your house for $330,000 to a buyer who has $30,000 to put toward a down payment. You could lend the buyer $300,000 as the primary mortgage, with them putting down 10%.

Or you could let them get a loan for $270,000 from a conventional mortgage lender, and you could lend them another $30,000 to help them bridge the gap between what they have in cash and what the primary lender offers.

This strategy still leaves you with most of the purchase price at settlement and lets you risk less of your own money on a loan. But as a second mortgage holder, you accept second lien position

That means in the event of foreclosure, the first mortgagee gets paid first, and you only receive money after the first mortgage is paid in full.

2. Take Additional Collateral

Another way to protect yourself is to require more collateral from the buyer. That collateral could come in many forms. For example, you could put a lien against their car or another piece of real estate if they own one.

The benefits of this are twofold. First, in the event of default, you can take more than just the house itself to cover your losses. Second, the borrower knows they’ve put more on the line, so it serves as a stronger deterrent for defaults.

3. Screen Borrowers Thoroughly

There’s a reason why mortgage lenders are such sticklers for detail when underwriting loans. In a literal sense, as a lender, you are handing someone hundreds of thousands of dollars and saying, “Pay me back, pretty please.”

Only lend to borrowers with a long history of outstanding credit. If they have shoddy credit — or any red flags in their credit history — let them borrow from someone else. Be just as careful of borrowers with little in the way of credit history.

The only exception you should consider is accepting a cosigner with strong, established credit to reinforce a borrower with bad or no credit. For example, you might find a recent college graduate with minimal credit who wants to buy, and you could accept their parents as cosigners.

You also could require additional collateral from the cosigner, such as a lien against their home.

Also review the borrower’s income carefully, and calculate their debt-to-income ratios. The front-end ratio is the percentage of their monthly income required to cover all housing costs: principal and interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and any condominium or homeowners association fees.

For reference, conventional mortgage lenders allow a maximum front-end ratio of 28%.

The back-end ratio includes not just housing costs, but also overall debt obligations. That includes student loans, auto loans, credit card payments, and all other mandatory monthly debt payments.

Conventional mortgage loans typically allow 36% at most. Any more than that and the buyer probably can’t afford your home.

4. Charge Fees for Your Trouble

Mortgage lenders charge points and fees. If you’re serving as the lender, you should do the same.

It’s more work for you to put together all the loan paperwork. And you will almost certainly have to pay an attorney to help you, so make sure you pass those costs along to the borrower.

Beyond your own labor and costs, you also need to make sure you’re being compensated for your risk. This loan is an investment for you, so the rewards must justify the risk.

5. Set a Balloon

You don’t want to be holding this mortgage note 30 years from now. Or, for that matter, to force your heirs to sort out this mortgage on your behalf after you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Set a balloon date for the mortgage between three and five years from now. You get to collect mostly interest in the meantime, and then get the rest of your money once the buyer refinances or sells.

Besides, the shorter the loan term, the less opportunity there is for the buyer to face some financial crisis of their own and stop paying you.

6. Be Listed as the Mortgagee on the Insurance

Insurance companies issue a declarations page (or “dec page”) listing the mortgagee. In the event of damage to the property and an insurance claim, the mortgagee gets notified and has some rights and protections against losses.

Review the insurance policy carefully before greenlighting the settlement. Make sure your loan documents include a requirement that the borrower send you updated insurance documents every year and consequences if they fail to do so.

7. Hire a Loan Servicing Company

You may multitalented and an expert in several areas. But servicing mortgage loans probably isn’t one of them.

Consider outsourcing the loan servicing to a company that specializes in it. They send monthly statements, late notices, 1098 forms, and escrow statements (if you escrow for insurance and taxes), and verify that taxes and insurance are current each year. If the borrower defaults, they can hire a foreclosure attorney to handle the legal proceedings.

Examples of loan servicing companies include LoanCare and Note Servicing Center, both of whom accept seller-financing notes.

8. Offer Lease-to-Own Instead

The foreclosure process is significantly longer and more expensive than the eviction process.

In the case of seller financing, you sell the property to the buyer and only hold the mortgage note. But if you sign a lease-to-own agreement, you maintain ownership of the property and the buyer is actually a tenant who simply has a legal right to buy in the future.

They can work on improving their credit over the next year or two, and you can collect rent. When they’re ready, they can buy from you — financed with a conventional mortgage and paying you in full.

If the worst happens and they default, you can evict them and either rent or sell the property to someone else.

9. Explore a Wrap Mortgage

If you have an existing mortgage on the property, you may be able to leave it in place and keep paying it, even after selling the property and offering seller financing.

Wrap mortgages, or wraparound mortgages, are a bit trickier and come with some legal complications. But when executed right, they can be a win-win for both you and the buyer.

Say you have a 30-year mortgage for $250,000 at 3.5% interest. You sell the property for $330,000, and you offer seller financing of $300,000 for 6% interest. The buyer pays you $30,000 as a down payment.

Ordinarily, you would pay off your existing mortgage for $250,000 upon selling it. Most mortgages include a “due-on-sale” clause, requiring the loan to be paid in full upon selling the property.

But in some circumstances and some states, you may be able to avoid triggering the due-on-sale clause and leave the loan in place.

You keep paying your mortgage payment of $1,122.61, even as the borrower pays you $1,798.65 per month. In a couple of years when they refinance, they pay off your previous mortgage in full, plus the additional balance they owe you.

Of course, you still run the risk that the borrower stops paying you. Then you’re saddled with making your monthly mortgage payment on the property, even as you slog through the foreclosure process to try and recover your losses.


Final Word

Offering seller financing comes with risks. But those risks may be worth taking, especially for hard-to-sell properties.

Only you can decide what risk-reward ratio you can live with, and negotiate loan terms to ensure you come out on the right side of the ratio. For unique or other difficult-to-finance properties, seller financing may be the only way to sell for what the property’s worth.

Before you write off the returns as low, remember that your APR will be far higher than the interest rate charged.

Beyond the upfront fees you can charge, you’ll also benefit from simple interest amortization, which front-loads the interest so that nearly all of the monthly payment goes toward interest in the first few years — the only years you need to finance if you structure the loan as a balloon mortgage.

Just be sure to screen all borrowers extremely carefully, and to take as many precautions as you can. If the borrower can’t qualify for a conventional mortgage, consider that a glaring red flag. Seller financing involves risking many thousands of dollars in a single transaction, so take your time and get it right.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Could You Move With 30 Days Notice? Now You Can!

Sometimes you have a “normal” home buying or selling process. The agreements are done, you have 45 days until closing and your lists are prepared to help you move. But, sometimes, that perfect home comes out of nowhere, and you have less than 30 days to get your life packed and onto the next adventure. Sounds stressful, right?

Lucky for you, our friend, Jennifer Ciani, of blog Simply Ciani, is here to share her expert tips (as this is a real-life story of her current moving situation).

How much moving supplies will you need?

When moving, it can feel like the number of things you own doubles overnight, am I right?  The guide below can help you figure out how many boxes you will need for each room.

Tip: Don’t just pack up and move unwanted items from one home to the next; take this opportunity to sort through things into “keep” and “donate” piles. Visit these resources for more decluttering tips during a move.

Jennifer typically uses between 75 to 90 boxes for moving a three-bedroom home. You can always return what you do not use, but it’s better to have more than enough rather than making run after run back to the store to buy more!

The Art of Tape

Now that you’ve assembled the boxes you need, another vital piece of the equation is the tape you use. Spoiler Alert: the tape you use to wrap your holiday gifts is not going to cut it. Jennifer recommends investing in good, sturdy tape, like Heavy Duty Scotch Tape, so that your items arrive at your destination in the condition you packed them in. The last thing you need is the bottom of your box to fall open after you spent all that time wrapping up your belongings.

Jennifer’s Taping Tip: Tape the box across both flaps, then tape once down the center line, then again on either side of that, overlapping the sides of the tape to create a strong hold.

 Labeling

Label each box so that it has a final destination and anyone picking up the box can figure out where it goes. And be sure to label not where they came from in your current home, but where you want them to go in your new home. For an organization bonus, label some of the contents in the box so you can be sure the contents are going to the right room.

What to Pack First

Okay, it’s almost time to get to work packing everything up. Remember, good prep is half the battle for acing your move! Before you begin going room by room, Jennifer recommends setting aside a suitcase (or a few depending on the size of your family) along with two large boxes and a medium sized box. The suitcases are for your travels if you’re moving long-distance, and the boxes are you “first night boxes” in your new home. Here’s a cheat sheet of what to pack in each:

Packing Room by Room

Bathroom:

Start in the bathroom because it is the smallest room in the home and usually has the least amount to pack. Pack up all liquids and lotions, each in their own separate plastic bag. Place those in a box by themselves, separate from everything else.

The Kids Room:

If you have children, especially young ones, get them involved with the packing. Let them choose which items they want to pack up and make a game out of it! Try to see who can pack their boxes faster or count how many items fit into a box, or sort toys by colors. The more you involve your children, the less anxiety they will have.

Closets and Dressers:

Pack clothes first and leave the clothes on the hangers, placing a plastic trash bag over them for easy storage and unpacking in your new home. For clothing in dressers, take out the drawers of the dresser on moving day, load the dresser, then place the drawers back in them with the clothing still inside. As you fill up the truck, the other furniture and boxes will ensure that your drawers will not open and it’s one less thing you don’t have to worry about packing!

Home Decor and Dishes:  

Wrap breakable decor up with quality packing paper. Each item gets wrapped individually. One of the easiest ways to pack dishes is to place a foam paper plate in between each plate, then wrap the whole set up in bubble wrap. For coffee mugs and breakable glasses, wrap them with packing paper and pots and pans wrap up with extra bath towels.

Bedding:

Pack each bedding set together, including throw pillows. This way, once your beds are all set up, it is easy to put each one together again.

Garage and Tools:

Packing plastic wrap is great for keeping rakes/ mops/ brooms together, but when it comes to the tools, you might want to purchase large plastic totes to ensure that none of the tools get damaged in the move. Plus, it makes for easy organizing after moving into your new home.


Living the millennial life with my husband and Wheaten Terrier in beautiful Virginia. I document my life on Instagram and am ready to talk all things home-related at a moment’s notice.

Source: homes.com

12 Hidden Costs of Raising a Child – Expenses Parents Should Budget For

A USDA report pegs the total cost of raising a child at $233,610, or $284,570 if you factor in future inflation. That includes only the basics however, and excludes costs like helping with college education, birthday parties, and holiday gifts.

Include those, and you’re looking at $745,634, according to a report by NerdWallet — a jarring amount, no matter how much you earn.

Most of us know that kids come with extra costs like clothing, food, and possibly college tuition. But what about the hidden costs of raising a child? Kids require more than food and clothes, and often the less obvious costs get lost in estimates of just how much children cost to rear.

As you consider having children or plan your finances for an existing family, keep the following costs in mind. Just remember that although these expenses are common, they’re not written in stone, and you do ultimately control how much your own children cost you.

Hidden Costs of Raising a Child

Many parents, particularly mothers, take a career break to raise young children in their first years and often up to school age. It’s not like pressing the pause button and resuming play where you left it. Taking an extended break comes with significant costs, some less obvious than others.

1. Lost Income

On the obvious side, you lose out on the income from those years spent outside the workforce.

Imagine a family where both partners work, and upon having their first child, the mother decides to take a career break. They have a second child three years later, and the mom decides to stay at home until the youngest starts kindergarten at age 5.

That’s eight years of lost income. At a median full-time salary of $52,312 calculated by BLS, that comes to $419,496 in lost wages, not including wage growth over the next eight years.

This says nothing of lost retirement benefits, such as 401(k) matching, or lost returns on your own contributions to investments you could have made with that extra income. Compounded over the next 30 years, those lost returns can amount to millions of dollars.

2. Lost Career Momentum & Potential

Beyond the lost years of income, becoming a stay-at-home parent can stunt your career potential.

By the time you’re ready to reenter the workforce, you’ve fallen vastly behind your colleagues who have had many years to climb the corporate ladder. They’ve been advancing and winning promotions, while you’d be lucky to reenter your industry at the same level where you left.

The opportunity cost doesn’t end there, either. In today’s world of disruption and fast-paced change, eight years of falling out of touch with industry trends, best practices, and technological innovations puts you at a deep disadvantage compared to people still in the workforce and up to speed.

The bottom line: parents who take a break of several years from their career may reenter the workforce at a lower level than they left, and advance less over the remainder of their career. While there’s surprisingly little research on this effect, one study by Adzuna found that Brits who took a five-year career break took an average annual salary loss of £9,660 (about $12,500).

3. Less Time for Side Hustles

Even among parents who don’t take a career break, they simply don’t have the same free time to build extra income through a side hustle.

Historically, I spent much of my Saturdays working on either my business or writing. When my daughter was born, that came to an abrupt end, first because I was so sleep-deprived and later because my wife wouldn’t hear of it.

My father told me growing up that the 40-hour workweek was a baseline for survival, and it’s what you do outside those hours that determines your success, particularly in your 20s and 30s.

Although I believe in creating passive income streams and pursuing financial independence, you need to save a lot of money in the beginning to build momentum. That comes from a high savings rate and a high income, which often requires side gigs.

It’s not so easy to run a business on the side of your full-time job when you have young children.

4. Higher Housing Costs

A family of two can share a one-bedroom apartment. A family of three, four, or five? Not so comfortably.

At the time of this writing, Apartment Guide lists the average one-bedroom apartment rent at $1,621, compared to the average two-bedroom apartment rent of $1,878. That’s a difference of $257 per month, or $3,084 per year, just to add one more bedroom.

Larger homes cost more money, whether you rent or buy. And with the extra square footage comes higher utility costs to light, heat, cool, and power the property and everything in it.

They also require more maintenance for homeowners. The larger the roof, the more square footage there is to spring a leak. The larger the lawn and grounds, the more time and/or money they cost to maintain. And so on.

Expect to pay thousands of dollars more each year for a home that can accommodate your children, not just you and your spouse.

5. Transportation Costs

The same logic applies to transportation.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cost to buy a new compact car is around $20,000. The cost to buy a midsize SUV? A hefty $33,000, representing a 65% increase in cost.

As with housing, the difference in costs doesn’t end at the sticker price. It costs more to insure and fuel a beastly SUV than an efficient compact. When your kids reach their teenage years and start driving, they’ll need car insurance, which many parents pick up.

(Personally, I had to pay for my own as a teenager, and I recommend you do the same with your kids to give them practice earning and budgeting for real world expenses. But I digress.)

Some parents even go so far as to give their teenage kids a car, whether a hand-me-down or buying it for them as a gift.

Again, these costs remain voluntary. But it’s harder to drive your kids, their friends, and their gear to hockey practice in a sporty compact than in a minivan or SUV.

6. Medical Costs

People of all ages need medical care. And in the United States, medical care is expensive, no matter how you approach it.

Higher Health Insurance Premiums

Adding more people to your health insurance plan adds to your monthly premium. Period.

Well, not quite period. Some insurers, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, charge for each additional child up to the first three, then stop charging extra and only charge for the three oldest under the age of 21. Regardless, expect to pay more for family health insurance when you have children than you’d pay as a couple.

You may also decide you need more coverage as a family with kids than you did as a couple. For example, you may opt for dental coverage, or more inclusions, or a lower yearly ceiling on out-of-pocket expenses.

Higher Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Kids get into trouble, break their arms playing soccer, step on rusty nails while running around the neighborhood barefoot. And before they do that, babies require plenty of checkups and medical care of their own.

Every time they visit a doctor, need a prescription filled, or look cross-eyed at the health care system, you can expect to get hit with an out-of-pocket bill. Few health insurance plans cover 100% of all medical expenses with no deductible, and those few charge outrageous premiums.

And kids come with other medical costs. If you don’t want your kids to have crooked teeth, suddenly you find yourself with orthodontist bills. Eye exams, contact lenses, glasses — the list goes on.

Your kids will need plenty of medical care between birth and when they enter the workforce, and you’ll be on the hook for every penny.

7. Lessons, Tutoring, and Other Extracurriculars

If your child has dyslexia, they may need special tutoring to help them learn how to read. Many children need speech therapy as young kids. Many others require academic tutoring at some point or another.

If your kids want to learn an instrument, dive deeper into a sport, or pick up just about any hobby, they’ll need lessons.

Parents always forget to budget for these sorts of expenses until they strike, but kids — and just as often their parents — may want or need more than what resources their school offers for free. And when it happens, you need to be prepared to open your wallet.

8. Baby Paraphernalia

I was shocked and appalled at the amount of baby paraphernalia that flooded our apartment when we had a baby.

At every turn, I fought my wife to stop buying so much stuff. And at every turn, I lost the battle. She insisted on buying every gadget, every “cute” piece of baby clothing, every piece of nursery furniture she could get her hands on. From infrared baby monitors to smart chips that attach to diapers to track vital signs, we have it all.

As a minimalist, it drives me insane. Like so many middle-class parents, we have far more baby items than we need. Eventually, I stopped tallying the cost because it was pushing my cortisol levels through the roof.

You may consider yourself a reasonable human being, vigilant against unnecessary spending. But new parents get both anxious and excited — and their response to both is usually to buy more stuff. When you or your spouse gets pregnant, budget extra for spousal splurges when you try to predict how much it costs to have a baby.

9. Toys and Gifts

Again, parents all too often go wild buying gifts, toys, and unnecessary clothes, all in the name of spoiling their children.

It’s so insidious that many parents go into debt each holiday season. Between gifts, swag, and travel, the average American family spends $1,050 at the holidays according to a 2019 National Retail Federation study reported by USA Today.

You can and should fight the urge. But parents overspend on gifts and toys all the time, so it bears including here.

10. Electronics

Increasingly, kids need electronics for schoolwork, not just as frivolous gifts. In the era of COVID-19, they’ve become mandatory learning tools.

Laptops and tablets aren’t cheap though, and they come with notoriously short lifespans as they slip into obsolescence after a few short years. Between the time a child is old enough to use one and the time they move out and pay their own bills, they’ll likely go through dozens of devices between phones, tablets, laptops, and gadgets that haven’t been invented yet but will be all the rage 15 years from now.

Added together, that comes to tens of thousands of dollars.

11. Travel Costs

My wife and I once looked up the cheapest flights for the following week from our then home. We booked flights to Bulgaria for $160 round trip per person and spent only a few hundred dollars over the entire next week.

That doesn’t happen when you have kids, for several reasons.

First, you can’t just up and go during the travel offseason when you feel like it. Your kids have school, so you have to travel when everyone else and their mother travels: during school holidays. Which means always traveling during the expensive high season.

Second, you have to pay for more, well, everything. More airline tickets. More hotel rooms, or a larger home on Airbnb. And then come the meals, entertainment, entrance passes, and so forth. All of it costs more money.

When you travel with an infant, you can avoid many of those costs. But they don’t stay infants very long, and soon you find yourself traveling with teenagers who insist on doing the exact opposite of what you want to do. So you end up paying to do both.

And good luck doing low-key travel like backpacking or hiking trips with social media-addicted kids and teens.

If you really want to travel the way you used to with your spouse, you end up either having to hire a nanny or ship your kids off to summer camp — both of which cost an arm and a leg in themselves.

12. Life Insurance

Many couples can responsibly dodge life insurance, provided they both work. If the worst happens, the surviving spouse can still pay their bills, albeit with the possible need to downsize.

Add children to the mix, however, and you have more mouths to feed — plus all the other expenses outlined above. Losing one spouse, particularly a primary breadwinner, could tip the family into poverty or at the very least require a massive, painful change in lifestyle.

Having children doesn’t necessarily require you to buy life insurance. I don’t have it, as one of the many side benefits of the FIRE lifestyle. But when you have children, you need to plan for contingencies like losing a spouse, and making sure your family can survive without them.

Often that means a life insurance policy, and even when it doesn’t, you still need a plan in place.


Final Word

Having children is not all financial doom and gloom. Yes, some expenses remain unavoidable, no matter how frugally you live. But many of the expenses above represent average expenses among parents with little financial literacy. You can minimize many of them with a little more awareness, and avoid others entirely.

The costs of raising children also operate on an economy of scale. While you and your spouse don’t want to share a bedroom with your child after the first few months, you can put two children in the same second bedroom, for example. Younger children can benefit from hand-me-downs such as cribs, strollers, and clothes. And once you bite the bullet to buy a minivan, having a third child doesn’t change your transportation needs any further.

It doesn’t have to cost $745,634 to raise a child. But it certainly can if you’re not careful.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Local Market Outlook: Why First-Time Buyers Love Pittsburgh

Real estate observers did a double take when a city that once defined the term “rust belt” came in first or tied for first in five national rankings of the best cities for first-time buyers and millennials over the past year. After the big steel mills closed 40 years ago, Pittsburgh’s housing market plunged into a multi-year economic depression. It never experienced the housing boom 15 years ago. During the boom and the recovery from the Great Recession, home prices in many markets rose much faster than they did in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh SkylinePittsburgh Skyline

In some ways, Pittsburgh’s real estate economy was several years ahead of national trends. By 2010, years before the recovery took hold in most markets, homes in Pittsburgh started to appreciate as the regional economy went through a transition. Once synonymous with shuttered steel mills and unemployment peaks, Pittsburgh has quietly undergone an economic renaissance and today is a hub for artificial intelligence, robotics, and biomedical companies. Pittsburgh recovered from the Great Recession faster than most markets, but never experienced the rampant appreciation that characterized most East and West Coast markets.

When the housing bubble burst in 2008, Pittsburgh was already in recovery. However, unlike many markets that flourished during the boom and the recent recovery, appreciation in Pittsburgh never exceeded local income levels. “Unlike in other cities, home ownership in Pittsburgh has little risk but also little reward. From almost any perspective, Pittsburgh’s housing market lagged or ran counter to the national trends,” commented Pittsburgh’s MetroGuide Magazine.

All Real Estate is Local

Pittsburgh is an excellent example of the maxim “All real estate is local.” The superheated real estate markets that developed in response to millennial-generated demand and shrinking inventories is now a liability. First-time buyers, who are critical players in housing markets, are driven away by prices far above their means. They are discovering markets like Pittsburgh that never experienced the volatile booms and busts of recent years.

Some 71% of average wage earners could not afford to buy a home in 71% of America’s counties in the first quarter of 2019. The lack of affordable housing has risen to critical levels in the past three years. Unaffordability is now the most crucial factor for prospective first-time buyers. Though largely immune from national trends as it experienced its renaissance, Pittsburgh prices are currently rising faster as inventories shrink and demand grows. Pittsburgh home values are forecasted to grow 7.1% in 2019  but Pittsburgh will remain a good buy for the near future; its median home was $142,800 in 2018, only about 55% of the national median of $259,300.

In many markets today, many first-time buyers who qualify for a mortgage still can’t find a home they can afford. More expensive markets have severe shortages of starter homes that first-time buyers and low-earning households can afford. Pittsburgh did not experience the conversion of large numbers of foreclosures into rentals that reduced single-family housing stocks in many markets after the housing bubble burst. It also has a healthy supply of condos and townhomes for first-time and lower-income buyers. Some 55.8% of Pittsburgh families who make $55,000 or less in household income owned a home in 2017.

Pittsburgh’s housing stock is growing slowly. Just like the rest of the nation, new home construction has not kept up with demand. “During the nine years since the recession started, there has been an average of 1,920 new single-family detached homes started. The average for the last five – which covers the period in which Pittsburgh saw strong job growth – has been 1,962,” reported Pittsburgh Metroguide.

Pittsburgh is an excellent market for first-time buyers because of the unique path its local economy took over the past 20 years.  While other markets experienced a boom and bust cycle from 2008 to 2013, Pittsburgh improved incrementally as local employment and incomes grew. In recent years, however, Pittsburgh is developing problems common to other major markets.  Prices are forecasted to rise faster than the national median this year. Rising demand is putting pressure on supplies, and new construction is not filling the gap.

Pittsburgh in the Spotlight

Here is what recent national rankings have said about Pittsburgh.

HSH

HSH.com ranked Pittsburgh first among ten metros that cost less than $1000 a month. With a 10% down payment, homebuyers in the Pittsburgh metro area would need an annual income of $42,611.03, as the PITI (and mortgage insurance) payment would rise to $994.26 per month.

Bankrate

According to the 2019 Bankrate Best/Worst Metros for First-time Buyers Study, Pittsburgh topped the list of metropolitan markets where homeownership is attainable, safe and fun for residents. Markets were ranked by affordability, culture, job market, market tightness, and safety.

LendingTree

Pittsburgh tied with Cleveland for first place as best for first-time homebuyers. Using data from its mortgage platform, LendingTree created a winning profile for Pittsburgh:

  • Average down payment amount: $34,049
  • Average down payment percentage: 15%
  • Share of buyers using an FHA mortgage: 36.5%
  • Average FHA down payment as a percentage of the average down payment for all loans: 31.2%
  • Percentage of buyers who have credit scores below 680: 41.3%

“Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Oklahoma City offer first-time homebuyers the easiest time purchasing a home. While these metros may not necessarily have the lowest credit score requirements or down payments in the country, they consistently rank highly across all six metrics that were considered in this study. Overall, Pittsburgh and Cleveland are tied for first place, while Oklahoma City is third,” said LendingTree.

SmartAsset

“The Steel City secured the top spot as the best city for first-time homebuyers. According to our data, the average price per square foot of a home in Pittsburgh is only $91, 13th-lowest in our study,” concluded SmartAsset’s Best Cities for First-Time Homebuyers in 2018.

“First-time homebuyers can also feel relatively confident that their home won’t lose value right off the bat. Pittsburgh had zero quarters of negative growth in home values between 2012 and 2017. For that metric, the city is tied for first,” the study found.

Apartment List

“No. 1 Pittsburgh tops the list of the best metros for millennials, with high marks for jobs and affordability,” the Apartment List’s Report Card: What are the Top US Metros for Millennials? reported. The city earns higher than average livability scores, with renters particularly satisfied with the city’s low crime level and options to date and make friends. Devastated by deindustrialization and the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s, Pittsburgh has been undergoing a revitalization.

“The city has moved away from factory jobs and today attracts young, educated workers. The number of Pittsburgh residents 25 years of age and older with a college degree grew by 37.3% between 2000 and 2013. Tech giants, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Uber, have opened offices in Pittsburgh, and the city has a thriving food and art scene,” wrote Apartment List’s Sydney Bennet.

“While large coastal metros, from San Francisco to New York City, offer strong job markets and plenty of entertainment options, affordability concerns make them a poor choice for many millennials. Inland metros, including Pittsburgh, Provo, and Madison, are some of the best locations for millennials. These metros offer millennials more than just affordable housing options. They also provide strong job markets and vibrant social scenes” she said.

Source: SmartAsset


Steve Cook is the editor of the Down Payment Report. He is a member of the board of the National Association of Real Estate Editors and writes for several leading Web sites, including Inman News. From 1999 to 2007 he was vice president for public affairs at the National Association of Realtors.

Source: homes.com