Thanks to large-scale hacks such as the Equifax and Yahoo breaches, identity thieves have no shortage of information to use in their criminal pursuits. Is your information among them? “Identity theft can trash your credit score because there’s the risk that somebody takes your name, your Social Security number, and your solid credit rating, goes
In the wake of the housing crisis, it became significantly harder to get a jumbo mortgage due to the risk factors involved. Jumbo mortgages have been making a comeback since then, but they now face a different style of threat – disincentives for high-end homeownership created by the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Western Union has served as a reliable method for rapidly sending money over long distances since the late 1800s. Once known for telegraphs, it currently offers services to more than 200 countries across the globe. Unfortunately, Western Union is frequently used by scammers, thanks to convenience, speed, and limited means of recovery for fraudulent transactions.
What do you do when your credit card just doesn’t meet your needs anymore? Perhaps you have an airline or hotel rewards program that isn’t relevant anymore, you are paying annual fees that aren’t worth the benefits you receive, or you now qualify for a card with a better interest rate. If you are in
Santa was not so kind to your friends and relatives this year, so you felt the need to fill the gap. You overspent on holiday gifts, and now you are stuck with a significant amount of holiday debt. Gratitude from gift recipients is a great feeling, but gratitude is not going to pay off your
Are you preparing to enter the housing market in 2018? Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, 2018 is likely to be a year of both challenges and opportunities. Our crystal ball is just as cloudy as everyone else’s these days, but based on recent trends and events, we can make a few predictions for
How often are you asked at a retail outlet if you have a store credit card, and if not, whether you would like to apply for one and put today’s purchase on that card? These cards are examples of “instant approval” credit cards — cards that are approved or denied within a matter of minutes
Going over the fine print of a mortgage offer is about as enjoyable as a poke in the eye – or maybe both eyes. Even so, it’s important to ensure that any contractual offer that you make on a home has just the right terms you need before proceeding through the home-buying process. Consider these
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a higher credit limit on your credit cards? A higher credit limit could serve as a buffer for an emergency cash flow problem, saving you from searching for short-term loan options. Another advantage of a higher credit limit is a potentially higher credit score through lower credit utilization –
There’s no shortage of data on America’s housing market. Analysts constantly review new and existing home sales, building permits, available housing units, and other metrics to gauge the health of the market and to assess its likely direction. ATTOM Data Solutions, a national property data warehouse with information on 150 million U.S. properties, adds another
For the unprepared, the mortgage process can be a whirlwind of unfamiliar terms and procedures followed by stacks of confusing paperwork. Were you truly ready for the process when you bought your first home – or, if you are a prospective first-time homebuyer, are you ready now? A recent survey by FREEandCLEAR suggests that while
Costs Increase, Defaults Follow Americans owe the government approximately $1.37 trillion in student loans – and, according to recent information from the U.S. Department of Education, student loan debtors are having an increasingly difficult time paying back those loans. The Wall Street Journal reports that some $631 billion of the $1.37 trillion debt load is
Auto loan defaults have been on a steady decline, except for one segment – the subprime market of loan holders with credit scores below 620. According to the report on household debt recently released by the New York Federal Reserve, almost 10% of auto loans made to borrowers in the subprime market were delinquent by
Does your credit card bill contain a billing error? Did someone use your card fraudulently to rack up unauthorized charges? Have you tried and failed to resolve a credit card dispute with a vendor, such as a defective item that the vendor will not refund? These are situations where the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)
What is the best day of the month to close on your mortgage? Not everyone will have the same answer to that question, as it depends on your specific mortgage situation. Many homebuyers consider the end of the month to be the best time to close. Data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR)
By Kelly Hartog Is there anyone this side of a Supreme Court Justice who hasn’t signed off on a document without reading or understanding every single word and Latin phrase? When it comes to buying a house, it pays to know the phrase “lis pendens”. A lis pendens is the Latin term for a Notice
Does your Christmas season usually lead to the January blues due to excessive holiday spending? It doesn’t have to be that way. With a combination of planning and willpower, you can enjoy a festive holiday without starting the New Year in a big financial hole. Consider these nine ways to celebrate while staying fiscally responsible.
Billionaires and the impoverished have one thing in common – momentum. Once you achieve high levels of wealth or debt, it’s very easy for either one to continue to grow. A recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies highlights this point. The study found that three billionaires – Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill
Have you ever made payments only using your voice? Most people have at least given their credit card number out over the phone or have used automated phone payment menus – although the latter often leaves people shouting “REPRESENTATIVE!!!” at their phone attempting to interface with a human being. Significant advancements in voice recognition technology
Should I stay or should I go? With apologies to The Clash, that’s the question many homeowners are asking themselves. Does it make more sense to renovate your current home, or should you look for a home that is a better fit for your current needs? Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) suggests
Will your student loan debt put a dent in your holiday spending plans? A recent survey by Student Loan Hero suggests that while student loan debtors may try to save money during their holiday shopping runs, they will not let debt curtail their spending. According to the survey, one-third of consumers with student loan debt
What’s one of the easiest ways to end a friendship? Loan your friend a significant amount of money. According to a recent survey from Bank of America, money was the fourth greatest cause of stress in a friendship, behind jealousy, gossip, and disagreements. We would rather talk to our friends about family drama, weight, or
Stocks Outpace Housing Few can argue that the stock market has experienced great growth under President Trump. The “Trump Bump” consists of an approximate 20% increase in both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 during the President’s first year in office. Does the same Trump Bump translate to the housing market? A recent study by
If you are attempting to buy a home on a low or intermediate income, you need every bit of help that you can get. Mortgage credit certificates are one of the lesser-known ways that the federal government can help. A mortgage credit certificate (MCC) is essentially a form of tax savings. The mortgage interest that
Credit scores are somewhat like IRS tax codes: we know they’re important; few folks fully understand them; and failing to successfully deal with either can cost you a lot of money. While most of the factors determining your credit scores, such as payment history, number of open accounts, and type of accounts, take months or
Home sellers and their agents may be limiting their potential base of buyers by ignoring a growing pool of them. Inside Mortgage Finance recently noted that loans acquired through the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department are rapidly increasing, reaching a holding level of one-quarter of primary insured home loans. This tops the number of loans backed
Veteran’s Administration (VA) loans are invaluable for homebuyers. Their advantages include little or no money down, qualifying with a lower credit score, competitive interest rates, potentially lower closing and auxiliary costs, and no private mortgage insurance requirements. VA loans are administered through approved lending institutions, and backed through an entitlement of up to $36,000. This
College may be expensive, but a college degree allows you to recoup your investment by landing a higher-paying job that allows you to pay back your loans in a timely fashion… or does it? The skyrocketing costs of college in recent years, combined with a rough job market, have thrown that basic premise into question.
What’s the best time of the year to rent a home? That depends on what factors are important to you, and how much time you have to act. People don’t always have the luxury of taking their time in renting a house or apartment. They often have to assess a market in a fairly short
An Unexpected Increase The housing market received an unexpected surprise as new home sales rose to an annually adjusted rate of 667,000 homes in September 2017, far exceeding the slight decline predicted by experts. September’s new home sales value was the highest in ten years, and the 18.9% jump was the largest monthly increase since