Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mortgage Loans -Refinancing Your Mortgage is on the Rise

Long term mortgages rates are remaining relatively low. The average rate for a thirty year loans is approximately 6.2%. Since home equity loans and lines of credit have their interest most often tied directly to the prime rate, they have gotten more expensive since the prime is now over eight percent.

Many customers prefer to have a fixed rate loan than risk their economic future on fluctuating rates that can continue rising in the future. Freddie Mac says 89% of the loans it owns that were refinanced in the third quarter of 2006 had amounts at least five percent higher than the original mortgage balances.

According to the American Bankers Association, the dollar amount of home equity loans has increased by an annualized 14.6% for the first three quarters of 2006. This includes both home equity loans and home equity lines of credit.

Before you consider refinancing, you should look for the most economical way to accomplish this. You should also consider if refinancing to take additional cash is a wise move. If refinancing gets you a better rate and it has been a long enough period of time since your last change, then perhaps it is a good move.

If you have credit card debt, it is often financed at a much higher rate than you can obtain with a loan connected to your real estate. Sometimes you can obtain a fixed rate loan for a home equity line that will help you reduce your loan expense.

Consider the fees it takes to accomplish new financing and the time for repayment of the new debt. I personally am working on paying off my current mortgage with a Mortgage Payoff program.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Identity Theft is an Ongoing Credit threat

Several months ago, the personal information of our veterans was compromised. There are approximately 26.5 million names in the database at risk. This means that they could become the victims of identify theft.

In 2005 the average loss experienced by identity theft victims was more than $6,000.00 as determined by a study completed by Javelin Strategy & Research. They indicate it cost the victims approximately $400 to remove inaccurate information, close or change their credit card accounts and complete all the necessary documentation.

There are a number of companies who help those with resolution of identity theft issues. They do some or most of the work to file police reports and gather pertinent information including making phone calls. Check with your bank, credit union, insurance company, automobile insurance as well as homeowners and renters insurance to see if there is a rider on your policy that will pay for the service. There are a few companies who offer services directly to the public.

Check out the information on http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ for relevant information that will help you. I suggest you check out the available sources including your creditors prior to having a problem. While caution with your credit information is a prudent choice, you should be prepared in the event you have a problem.

Since the problem of identity theft is ongoing, you must do what you can to protect yourself.
Use common sense when using your credit cards. I suggest you:

1. Don’t use your credit card and pin number with anyone too close to you.

2. Don’t leave carbon paper used for credit imprints. (While this is generally uncommon today, it does still occur.).

3. Keep your credit cards in a safe place.

4. Don’t carry unnecessary credit information on your person.

5. Don’t give out personal information unless you are certain that it is appropriate.

In general, just take care. Check your credit report once a year. Don’t make your credit information available to unauthorized individuals. Use the government site listed above for more information.

Nancy Woodward, better known as the million dollar referral lady, is a Real Estate and Mortgage Professional. You can discover how to achieve financial prosperity by subscribing to her online newsletter to help you better manage our mortgage and real estate properties.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Real Estate - Saving Money and Energy in Your Home

by Nancy Woodward

You can save some of both with a little effort. Energy bills rise as the rates move upward. So why not make an effort to conserve your hard earned money and as a byproduct, help the environment at the same time?

1. Reduce wasted energy

Limit showers. Use a simple timer - thirty minutes is the max. Since water heaters suck energy, this will help. Just maintaining the temperature of the water in the water heater drains your energy. When you empty it and refill, you just keep the clock on the meter moving upward.

There are systems on the market today that don't use tanks!! Bosch has a system that creates hot water on demand. These units start at about $500 but there is a tax credit available and the long term savings must be considered.

2. Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are more expensive to install but they are environmentally sound. They can reduce your heating and cooling bill by as much as fifty percent. Check out the websites of the manufacturers.

3. All those Lights

I researched this subject for myself. Using small fluorescent light bulbs consumes less energy overall.

4. Windows and Doors

Are your windows air tight? Cracks around the windows allows leakage. When it is time to replace your windows, consider double pain. The energy efficient windows today can cut costs by 15%.

Replacing doors and windows taking advantage of modern efficient models will curb energy costs. You can do this over time as your budge allows. I saw a window that allows you to tint them in the summer but lets all that winter sun flow though.

These are four areas I suggest you check out. There are many more areas you can research to help you make good choices that will save you money in energy costs in the future. Sites online will provide you with good research.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Homeownership -Pursuing the American Dream

Renting and apartment, condo, house might be the right thing for you to do at certain times in your life. Long term, homeownership provides more benefits and may outweigh the advantages of renting.

In general the house market is remaining strong. Real Estate investments are expected to double by the end of the decade. This is the best time to be in the real estate market and is one of the best for the housing market in general.

Consumers today are savvier today than ever. The total amount of information available about the process of real estate buying and selling is enormous. Real Estate Professionals abound and are very happy to assist you with your questions, including detailed information about the market you live in.

Online research provides unlimited information. Real Estate Agents and Brokers on listed on the Internet today. AAA has a Real Estate program in partnership with Cendant Mobility. Their connection is top-tier agents from members such as Century 21, Coldwell Bank, ERA, and Sotheby’s International Realty.

Franklin D. Rains, chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae stated “The American love affair with homeownership and the growing need for housing should power the housing sector and the economy at least for the rest of the decade. The best is yet to come.”

Wherever you are today in this process, look at the long term benefits of homeownership versus renting. List your pros and cons to make an informed decision. Ask trusted friends and relatives for their thoughts on this subject. Make a decision and move forward. The best is yet to come.

Nancy Woodward better know as the Million Dollar Referral Lady strives to provide you with Real Estate Tips to improve your financial interests.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Credit Card Companies offer More Cards

Credit Offers – Credit companies offer more cards
By Nancy Woodward

Credit companies have stepped up the pace. I thought it was just my imagination until I read a recent article on the subject. I receive an offer a day for new credit cards or increases in credit lines.

In the past year, credit companies have mailed more than 6 billion solicitations. This is a record event. Approximately .3 percent of these offers were actually accepted. This represents 18 million offers.

The offers are being sweetened with freebies, rebates and rewards. There are now cards that rebate five percent of the money you spend on gasoline purchases. A card issued by American Dream Card is matching your spending with lottery tickets. Spend $100 and get the same amount in lottery tickets.

Of course, this provides an enticement to use your card. When the month is over, you must pay the balance or begin incurring interest. Since many companies charge eighteen percent interest, you have lost more than your rebate and lottery tickets while incurring an ongoing debt.

According to Mail Monitor, a unit of Synovate, a consumer research company, last year fifty eight percent offered rewards worth several pennies on the dollar. Many companies are now aggressively promoting cards with the images consumers love – such as sports teams, colleges and more. Studies have shown that consumers care more about rewards than interest rates.

In the event you are in the group of consumers who pay their bill in full at the end of each month, then take advantage of the rewards and rebates. If you are not in this group, then take care. Your bill is due in full at the end of your billing cycle, or you will find yourself making payments for some time to pay off the bill. Use due diligence in investigating the offer before you accept it and start spending your future earnings.

Nancy is a Real Estate Professional and Business Writer. Register for her newsletter on this site for email updates.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Credit Scores – Understanding and Improving Your Credit Score

Since your financial health revolves around the quality of your credit score, it is important you understand what it is, how it works and ways to improve it over time.

When you apply for a loan, lenders try to determine what your risk level is. They are deciding if you can afford the loan, the terms, and what their potential risk is should they extend you credit.

Lenders look at your debt versus your current income, how long you have been employed on your job, and how you have paid your debts in the past. The better your credit score, the chances are you will get the best possible terms for your loan. You can get lower interest rates and faster approvals when you have an excellent credit score.

Your credit report is accessed by the prospective lender to determine if you are credit worthy. This report shows your credit history:

1. The type of credit you use.
2. How long your accounts have been open.
3. How timely you pay your bills.

The lender can also see how much credit you are currently using and how many potential lenders are looking at your report.

You should verify the information on your credit report. You can subscribe to services to receive your report at set intervals or you can annually obtain a free credit report. Derogatory information will affect the interest rates you obtain and the fees you pay. You can be declined for credit based on erroneous information in your credit report.

After obtaining a current report, verify all of the information in it. If you find an error, the credit reporting agency must investigate the potential error. They also must reply to you within thirty days. If this happens while you are applying for credit, you should inform your lender of the inaccuracy.

A few ways you can improve your credit score over time are:

1. Pay your bills on time.
2. Get current and stay current.
3. If you are in trouble making payments, get help. This will take time to turn around your score, but it will work.
4. Reduce the amount of credit you are using ie keep it low on credit cards.
5. Don’t close accounts to raise your score. Generally this may lower your score.

Well, this is a good beginning to understanding your credit and ways to improve your credit score over time. Everything worth having takes time so just work at it consistently.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Real Estate Ownership is the American Dream with Large Debt Attached

Real Estate Ownership is the American Dream with Large Debt Attached

The heart of the American Dream is home ownership. You begin by making a conscious decision toward home ownership. This is just the first step in the process.

Of course, for you to reach this goal, you must find a way to pay for your asset. Since most people are unable to save enough to pay for their first home outright, they must find a means of financing it. There are several things you should consider before you start this process:

1. How long have you been employed.
2. Have you created a good credit history.
3. Do you pay your bills in a timely manner.
4. Can you afford to increase your debt level at this time.
5. Have you obtain a current credit report, reviewed the information, and believe it is accurate.

After you find your first property, you must consider how to finance it. Generally you need a Mortgage. This is a loan from a bank or other lending institution. The loan will consist of a principal and interest payment. The principal you pay monthly reduces the balance of your loan. The interest is your cost of borrowing the funds and will decrease slightly each month.

The cost of this debt is truly huge. If you borrow $120,000 with a thirty year fixed rate mortgage at a modest seven percent, you will pay $167,000 in interest over the life of this loan. While it is true you will pay some of the interest with future dollars when the dollar will be worth less (inflation), you still have committed to paying an enormous amount of interest for the privilege of home ownership.

Do your due diligence when choosing your mortgage vehicle. There are two basic choices – fixed rate and variable rate mortgages. Within these categories are other options for you to consider. The amount of interest you actually pay varies while your expenses are continuing to rise.

Weigh the pros and cons of each mortgage type before you decide. I suggest you take the time to do this research and reach a tentative decision before you find the property you just must have. Once you find the property, emotion takes over and you may not make the best decision in your excitement.

Two issues to consider before moving forward are:

1. Fixed or adjustable rate mortgages
2. How much financial risk are you willing and able to take on?

If you take an adjustable rate mortgage, you are gambling more than someone who stays with a fixed rate mortgage. You need to consider :

1. Job stability
2. Income stability
3. Interest rates
4. Can you afford the maximum payment based on the lifetime cap on the adjustable rate mortgage.
5. Your stress level. Only take on what you can deal with comfortably.

Be conservative in your choices for your first property and the vehicle you use to finance it. When you are ready, you can use a Mortgage Payoff vehicle to eliminate your debt much sooner. This will put you in a position to buy more/larger properties in the future.

Nancy Woodward is a Real Estate Professional and business writer. Her online newsletter provides Mortgage and Real Estate Information, Resources and products for your financial prosperity.