Follow us on twitter @LendingladiesLR
Become a fan on Facebook www.facebook.com/TheLendingLadies
Re-defining LendingLadies: It is going to happen. I like to socialize and network more than I like actually working. So I have decided to do just that. Volunteering allows me to spend time giving freely of myself to others who need my talents more than I do. Good bye work and Mortgage Lending! Hello world!
This week I am volunteering at the 7th Annual, Women and Philanthropy, Power of the Purse HIGH TEA. This is what they will be doing:
United Way’s Women & Philanthropy will share the results of the
collaborative H.O.P.E. Project for foster girls. The goal of H.O.P.E.
is to empower these at-risk young women to reach their educational,
financial, and health-related goals. A lively panel discussion with
leading women in the field of youth service will inspire you to make a
difference from the moment you walk out the door.
I will be setting up then sitting at a booth, showing off beautiful clothes to wonderful woman who have invested in this United Way’s H.O.P.E. Project for foster girls. If they buy any of these high end clothes, then we will be donating proceeds to their cause. I just hope to meet some new friends and support these girls how best I can.
What can I do to improve my score?
Credit scoring models are complex and often vary among creditors and for different types of credit. If one factor changes, your score may change — but improvement generally depends on how that factor relates to other factors considered by the model. Only the creditor can explain what might improve your score under the particular model used to evaluate your credit application.
Nevertheless, scoring models generally evaluate the following types of information in your credit report:
• Have you paid your bills on time? Payment history typically is a significant factor. It is likely that your score will be affected negatively if you have paid bills late, had an account referred to collections, or declared bankruptcy, if that history is reflected on your credit report.
• What is your outstanding debt? Many scoring models evaluate the amount of debt you have compared to your credit limits. If the amount you owe is close to your credit limit that is likely to have a negative effect on your score.
• How long is your credit history? Generally, models consider the length of your credit track record. An insufficient credit history may have an effect on your score, but that can be offset by other factors, such as timely payments and low balances.
• Have you applied for new credit recently? Many scoring models consider whether you have applied for credit recently by looking at “inquiries” on your credit report when you apply for credit. If you have applied for too many new accounts recently, YOUR SCORE MAY BE NEGATIVELY AFFECTED. However, not all inquiries are counted. Inquiries by creditors who are monitoring your account or looking at credit reports to make “prescreened” credit offers are not counted.
• How many and what types of credit accounts do you have? Although it is generally good to have established credit accounts, too many credit card accounts may have a negative effect on your score. In addition, many models consider the type of credit accounts you have. For example, under some scoring models, loans from finance companies may negatively affect your credit score.
Scoring models may be based on more than just information in your credit report. For example, the model may consider information from your credit application as well: your job or occupation, length of employment, or whether you own a home.
To improve your credit score under most models, concentrate on paying your bills on time, paying down outstanding balances, and not taking on new debt. It’s likely to take some time to improve your score significantly.
What happens if you are denied credit or don’t get the terms you want?
If you are denied credit, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires that the creditor give you a notice that tells you the specific reasons your application was rejected or the fact that you have the right to learn the reasons if you ask within 60 days. Indefinite and vague reasons for denial are illegal, so ask the creditor to be specific. Acceptable reasons include: “Your income was low” or “You haven’t been employed long enough.” Unacceptable reasons include: “You didn’t meet our minimum standards” or “You didn’t receive enough points on our credit scoring system.”
If a creditor says you were denied credit because you are too near your credit limits on your charge cards or you have too many credit card accounts, you may want to reapply after paying down your balances or closing some accounts. Credit scoring systems consider updated information and change over time.
Sometimes you can be denied credit because of information from a credit report. If so, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the creditor to give you the name, address and phone number of the credit reporting agency that supplied the information. You should contact that agency to find out what your report said. This information is free if you request it within 60 days of being turned down for credit. The credit reporting agency can tell you what’s in your report, but only the creditor can tell you why your application was denied.
If you’ve been denied credit, or didn’t get the rate or credit terms you want, ask the creditor if a credit scoring system was used. If so, ask what characteristics or factors were used in that system, and the best ways to improve your application. If you get credit, ask the creditor whether you are getting the best rate and terms available and, if not, why. If you are not offered the best rate available because of inaccuracies in your credit report, be sure to dispute the inaccurate information in your credit report.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to help ensure that CRA’s furnish correct and complete information to businesses to use when evaluating your application.
Your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act:
• You have the right to receive a copy of your credit report. The copy of your report must contain all of the information in your file at the time of your request.
• You have the right to know the name of anyone who received your credit report in the last year for most purposes or in the last two years for employment purposes.
• Any company that denies your application must supply the name and address of the CRA they contacted, provided the denial was based on information given by the CRA.
• You have the right to a free copy of your credit report when your application is denied because of information supplied by the CRA. Your request must be made within 60 days of receiving your denial notice.
• If you contest the completeness or accuracy of information in your report, you should file a dispute with the CRA and with the company that furnished the information to the CRA. Both the CRA and the furnisher of information are legally obligated to reinvestigate your dispute.
• You have a right to add a summary explanation to your credit report if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction.
What is a credit report?
Your credit payment history is recorded in a file or report. These files or reports are maintained and sold by “consumer reporting agencies” (CRAs). One type of CRA is commonly known as a credit bureau. You have a credit record on file at a credit bureau if you have ever applied for a credit or charge account, a personal loan, insurance, or a job. Your credit record contains information about your income, debts, and credit payment history. It also indicates whether you have been sued, arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy.
Yes, if you ask for it. The CRA must tell you everything in your report, including medical information, and in most cases, the sources of the information. The CRA also must give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year-two years for employment related requests.
What type of information do credit bureaus collect and sell?
Credit bureaus collect and sell four basic types of information:
Identification and employment information
Your name, birth date, Social Security number, employer, and spouse’s name are routinely noted. The CRA also may provide information about your employment history, home ownership, income, and previous address, if a creditor requests this type of information.
Your accounts with different creditors are listed, showing how much credit has been extended and whether you’ve paid on time. Related events, such as referral of an overdue account to a collection agency, may also be noted.
CRAs must maintain a record of all creditors who have asked for your credit history within the past year, and a record of those persons or businesses requesting your credit history for employment purposes for the past two years.
Public record information
Events that are a matter of public record, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, or tax liens, may appear in your report.
What is credit scoring?
Credit scoring is a system creditors use to help determine whether to give you credit. Information about you and your credit experiences, such as your bill-paying history, the number and type of accounts you have, late payments, collection actions, outstanding debt, and the age of your accounts, is collected from your credit application and your credit report. Using a statistical program, creditors compare this information to the credit performance of consumers with similar profiles. A credit scoring system awards points for each factor that helps predict who is most likely to repay a debt. A total number of points — a credit score — helps predict how creditworthy you are, that is, how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make the payments when due.
Because your credit report is an important part of many credit scoring systems, it is very important to make sure it’s accurate before you submit a credit application. To get copies of your report, contact the three major credit reporting agencies:
• Equifax: (800) 685-1111
• Experian (formerly TRW): (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
• Trans Union: (800) 916-8800
These agencies may charge you up to $9.00 for your credit report.
Why is credit scoring used?
Credit scoring is based on real data and statistics, so it usually is more reliable than subjective or judgmental methods. It treats all applicants objectively. Judgmental methods typically rely on criteria that are not systematically tested and can vary when applied by different individuals.
How reliable is the credit scoring system?
Credit scoring systems enable creditors to evaluate millions of applicants consistently and impartially on many different characteristics. But to be statistically valid, credit scoring systems must be based on a big enough sample. Remember that these systems generally vary from creditor to creditor.
Although you may think such a system is arbitrary or impersonal, it can help make decisions faster, more accurately, and more impartially than individuals when it is properly designed. And many creditors design their systems so that in marginal cases, applicants whose scores are not high enough to pass easily or are low enough to fail absolutely are referred to a credit manager who decides whether the company or lender will extend credit. This may allow for discussion and negotiation between the credit manager and the consumer.
What is RESPA?
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) contains information on the settlement or closing costs you are likely to face. Within 3 days of the time you apply for the mortgage, your lender is required to provide you with a “good faith estimate of settlement costs,” based on his or her understanding of your purchase contract. This estimate should give you a good idea of how much cash you will need at closing to cover pro-rated taxes, first month’s interest, and other settlement costs.
The act also requires lenders to give you an information booklet, Settlement Costs and You, written by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which discusses how to negotiate a sales contract, how to work with various professionals (attorneys, real estate agents, lenders), and your rights and responsibilities as a home buyer. It also shows an example of the uniform settlement statement that will be used at your closing.
One business day before you close, you are entitled to see a copy of the Uniform Settlement Statement with your figures on it so you will know just how much the final costs will be.
What is Truth in Lending?
Mortgage lenders are required to give you a Truth in Lending (TIL) statement containing information on the annual percentage rate, the finance charge, the amount financed, and the total payments required. For adjustable rate loans, the “total payments” figure is estimated as a “worst case” scenario. The figure represents the payments you would make if your loan adjusted upward to the maximum rate allowed by annual and lifetime caps and then stayed there for the duration of the loan.
The TIL statement may also contain information on security interest, late charges, prepayment provisions, and whether the mortgage is assumable or not. If you have an adjustable rate loan, it may outline the limits on the adjustments (annual and lifetime caps) and give an example of what your next year’s payment might be, depending on interest rates.
Finance and Lender Charges
Most people associate closing costs with the finance charges levied by mortgage lenders. The charges you pay will vary among lenders, You may have to pay the following charges:
Origination or application fees: These are fees for processing the mortgage application and may be a flat fee or a percentage of the mortgage.
Credit report: If you are making a small down payment (usually less than 25%), most lenders will require a credit report on you and your spouse or equity partner. This fee often is a part of the origination fee.
Points: A point is equal to 1% of the amount borrowed. Points can be payable when the loan is approved (before closing) or at closing. Points can be shared with the seller–you may want to negotiate this in the purchase offer. Some lenders will let you finance points, adding this cost to the mortgage, which will increase your interest costs. If you pay the points up front, they are deductible in your income taxes in the year they are paid. Different deductibility rules apply to second homes.
Lender’s attorney’s fees: Lenders may have their attorney draw up documents, check to see that the title is clear, and represent them at the closing.
Document preparation fees: You will see an amazing array of papers, ranging from the application to the acceptance to the closing documents. Lenders may charge for these, or they may be included in the application and/or attorney’s fees.
Preparation of amortization schedule: Some lenders will prepare a detailed amortization schedule for the full term of your mortgage. They are more likely to do this for fixed mortgages than for adjustable mortgages.
Land survey: Most lenders will require that the property be surveyed to make sure that no one has encroached on it and to verify the buildings and improvements to the property.
Appraisals: Lenders want to be sure the property is worth at least as much as the mortgage. Professional property appraisers will compare the value of the house to that of similar properties in the neighborhood or community.
Lender’s mortgage insurance: If your down payment is less than 20%, many lenders will require that you purchase private mortgage insurnace (PMI) for the amount of the loan. This way, if you default on the loan, the lender will recover his money. These insurance premiums will continue until your principal payments plus down payment equal 20% of the selling price, but they may continue for the life of the loan. The premiums usually are added to any amount you must escrow for taxes and homeowner’s insurance.
Lender’s title insurance: Even though there is a title search for any obstacle (liens, lawsuits), many lenders require insurance so that should a problem arise, they can recover their mortgage investment. This is a one-time insurance premium, usually paid at closing; it is insurance for the lender only, not for you as a purchaser.
Release fees: If the seller has worked with a contractor who has put a lien on the house and who expects to be paid from the proceeds of the sale of the house, there may be some fees to release the lien. Although the seller usually pays these fees, they could be negotiated in the purchase offer.
Inspections required by lender (termite, water tests): If you apply for an FHA or VA mortgage, the lender will require a termite inspection. In many rural areas, lenders will require a water test to make sure the well and water system will maintain an adequate supply of water to the house (this is usually a test for quantity, not a test for water quality).
Prepaid interest: Your first regular mortgage payment is usually due about 6 to 8 weeks after you close (for example, if you close in August, your first regular payment will be in October; the October payment covers the cost of borrowing money for the month of September). Interest costs, however, start as soon as you close. The lender will calculate how much interest you owe for the fraction of the month in which you close (for example, if you close on August 25, you would owe interest for 6 days). In some cases this is due at closing.
Escrow account: Lenders will often require that you set up an escrow account into which you will make monthly payments for taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and PMI (mortgage insurance, if required). The amount placed in this escrow account at closing depends on when property taxes are due and the timing of the settlement transaction. The lender should be able to give you a close approximation of these costs at the time you apply for your mortgage loan.
Other Up-Front Expenses
The major portion of other up-front expenses is the deposit or binder you make at the time of the purchase offer and the remaining cash down payment you make at closing. In addition to the deposit and down payment, other up-front expenses can include the following:
Inspections: In addition to inspections required by the lender, you may make the purchase offer contingent on satisfactory completion of some other inspections. These inspections might include: structural, water quality tests and radon tests. You and the seller will need to negotiate these fees.
Owner’s title insurance: You may want to purchase title insurance for yourself so that if problems arise, you are not left owing a mortgage on a property you no longer own. A thorough title search (going back to 1900 if necessary) is often assurance enough of a clear title.
Appraisal fees: You may want to hire your own appraiser, either before you sigh a purchase offer or after seeing the results of the lender’s appraisal.
Money to the seller: You will need to pay for items in the house that you want and that were not negotiated in the purchase offer. Such items may include appliances, light fixtures, drapes, or lawn furniture and also fuel oil and propane left in tanks.
Moving expenses: If you are changing jobs, your new employer may pay for your move. Otherwise, you must figure in the cost of moving, either truck rental and hired help or a professional mover. Shopping around for moving services can pay off. You will also need cash for utility deposits (phone, cable, and the like).
Escrow account funds: In the purchase offer, you can request that the seller set up an escrow account to defray any costs of major cleanup, radon mitigation procedures, house painting, or other items. Also, if you have not had a chance to try out some appliances (the furnace if you buy in the summer or the air conditioner if you buy in the winter), you may request an escrow account to cover repairs if necessary.
Depending on the purchase offer contract and contingency clauses, you may find you have some expenses immediately upon moving in. For example, suppose your purchase offer contract has a clause making the purchase contingent on a satisfactory structural inspection, and the inspector determines that the house will need a new roof. You could negotiate to have the seller arrange for the work to be done, but this will probably delay the closing date–and you may have to agree to a higher price for the house or to cover some of the expenses of the new roof. Or you and the seller may be able to split the cost of a new roof, put on after you move in, using estimates from a contractor of your choice, each of you putting funds into an escrow account for the new roof. Or the seller may be willing to reduce the sale price of the house by an amount you think is fair. In either case, shortly after moving into your new home, you will need cash for a new roof.
Time investment: An often overlooked major up-front cost in buying a home is the time investment. The average household spends about 4 months house hunting and looks at an average of 20 houses before closing a deal. In addition to shopping for a home, you also spend time trying to find the best mortgage terms and an attorney who will assist you with the legal issues in purchasing a home.
How much time you spend looking for a home, a mortgage, and an attorney depends on your location. You will spend less time if you know what you want in a house and know much you can afford, and working with real estate agents will help narrow the choices. How many mortgage lenders are in your area? You can reduce time costs in mortgage shopping by keeping an eye on advertisements and use the internet to search for the best deals.