You’re excited because you just found the perfect home. The neighborhood is great, the house is charming and the price is right.
But the asking price is just the beginning. Be prepared for additional – and often unexpected – home-buying costs that can catch buyers unaware and quickly leave you underwater on your new home.
Expect the unexpected
For almost every person who buys a home, the spending doesn’t stop with the down payment. Homeowners insurance and closing costs, like appraisal and lender fees, are typically easy to plan for because they’re lumped into the home-buying process, but most costs beyond those vary.
The previous owners of your home are the biggest factor affecting your move-in costs. If they take the refrigerator when they move out, you’ll have to buy one to replace it. The same goes for any large appliance.
And while these may seem like a small purchase compared to buying a home, appliances quickly add up – especially if you just spent most of your cash on a down payment.
You’ll also be on the hook for any immediate improvements the home needs, unless you negotiate them as part of your home purchase agreement.
Unfortunately, these costs are the least hidden of those you may encounter.
When purchasing a home, definitely hire a home inspector (this costs money too!) to ensure the home isn’t going to collapse the next time it rains. Inspectors look for bad electrical wiring, weak foundations, wood rot and other hidden problems you may not find on your own.
Worse still, these problems are rarely covered by home insurance. If an inspectorÂ discovers a serious problem, you’ll then have to decide if you still want to purchase the home. Either way, you’ll be out the cost of hiring the inspector.
Consider the creature comforts
Another cost is your own comfort. There are a number of smaller considerations you may not think about until after you move in.
Are you used to having cable? If so, is your new home wired for cable? It’s much harder to watch a technician crawling around punching holes in your walls when you own those walls.
And if you’re moving from the world of renting to the world of homeownership, you’ll probably be faced with much higher utility bills. Further, you could find yourself paying for utilities once covered by a landlord, like water and garbage pickup.
The best way to prepare for the unknown and unexpected is through research and planning. This starts with budgeting before house hunting and throughout your search.
Look at homes in your budget that need improvements, and then research how much those improvements could cost. Nothing is worse than buying a home thinking you can fix the yard for a few hundred dollars and then realizing it will cost thousands.
There’s really no limit to how prepared you can be. Say you find a nice home that’s priced lower than others in the area because of its age.Â You may save money on the list price, but withÂ an older house, you could be slapped with a much higher home insurance payment, making the house more expensive in the long run.
This is where preparation comes in. Research home insurance and property prices in the areas you’re considering to make more educated decisions before you ever make that first offer.
Clearly define how much you intend to put toward your down payment, and then look at how much cash that leaves for improvements and minor costs, like changing the locks. That way, when you find a house at the high end of your range, you’ll know to walk away if it requires a new washer and dryer or HVAC system upgrade.
Establish a rough estimate for as many costs as you can think of, and be extremely critical of homes at the top of your budget – otherwise, you could easily end up being house-poor.
Know your budget and plan ahead. Buying a home is a lot less scary when you know what you’re getting into.
Your wedding can be one of your biggest life expenses, depending on what you include in your ceremony and reception. The average expense for a wedding has consistently risen over time, to a point that now the average wedding costs in the range of $30,000. If you’re looking to get married soon, Mint can actually help you create a separate wedding budget to help you manage those costs.Â
In this article, we’ll talk about how you can use credit card rewards to help pay for a wedding. And while you’re unlikely to be able to pay for your entire wedding with credit card rewards, every little bit saved helps.
Planning a wedding
If you have a wedding coming up, the first thing that you’ll want to do is create a budget. Just like with your regular expenses, having a budget is an important step in keeping your costs down. Without a written budget, your costs have a tendency to go up and up without end.Â
One important thing to keep in mind is that a budget can be as strict or as loose as you want it. Some people prefer to handle cost overruns by reducing the budget in other categories to compensate. Others choose to just increase the budget if costs are higher than expected. No matter how you decide to handle it, having a written budget means that you’ll make a conscious decision about it rather than just having expenses rise without you realizing it.
Paying for your wedding with credit cards
One way that you can help offset some of the costs of a wedding is via credit cards and credit card rewards. If you average a 2% return in credit card rewards on a $30,000 wedding, that’s $600 back. Of course, the easiest way to save money paying for your wedding is to have a smaller wedding, but that may not be an option for you, depending on your specific situation.
There are a few things that you’ll want to consider if you are talking about paying for your wedding with credit cards. The first is that paying for everything with credit cards does make it much easier to lose control of your spending. Just like with anything else, you should only spend money on credit cards that you have in the bank. That way you can always make your credit card payment in full, each and every month.
The other thing to consider when paying for a wedding with credit cards is that not every vendor might accept credit cards as a form of payment. This is especially true for individuals or smaller businesses. And those that do take credit cards may charge a processing fee. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to pay a 2.9% credit card processing fee to get 2% back in rewards. In those cases, it’s better to pay with cash, a check, or aÂ payment service. You might also ask if there would be a discount for paying in cash â again, that could be more lucrative than any rewards you get from paying with a credit card.
Getting signup bonuses with all that spending
One option for making the most out of your credit card rewards that you might want to take advantage of is signing up for new credit cards that offer attractive welcome offers. Many credit cards offer signup bonuses for new applicants with a value of hundreds of dollars or more. These offers usually have a spending requirement associated with them, which isn’t a problem if you’ve got all those wedding expenses. Just remember to watch out for the many overpriced wedding items that you might want to avoid.
Using credit card rewards to pay for your honeymoon
Another way that you can use credit card rewards is to help pay for your honeymoon. Many credit cards offer rewards such as airline miles, hotel points or other types of travel rewards and benefits. Signing up for a few key credit cards can be a great way to splurge on a honeymoon to remember at a fraction of the cost. Flying in first class or staying in luxury resorts is something that may be much more in reach by using miles and points than if you were to try to pay for it with cash.
The Bottom Line
Smart usage of credit card rewards can be a great way to help pay for a wedding or, at the very least, get a rebate on all of the spending you’re doing. Make sure to set a budget to help stay out of wedding debt and use credit cards as part of your spending strategy. Following these simple steps can help you maximize your credit card rewards without hurting your overall credit score. Watch out for vendors that charge credit card processing fees and don’t use your credit card as an excuse to spend money that you don’t have.
The post 4 Ways To Use Credit Card Rewards To Help Pay For A Wedding appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Buying a house is a big decision, but it can feel especially overwhelming to place an offer on a home less than 24 hours after seeing it for the first time. Plus youâre under pressure to outbid several other buyers â or risk losing the house.
While these circumstances might sound extraordinary, theyâre not. With housing inventory nationwide at an all time-low â down 22% from last year according to the National Association of Realtors â itâs no wonder buyers are competing for the same few houses.
I was in this exact position last fall. Here are seven key takeaways from my experience buying in a sellerâs market.
Get a Pre-Approval Letter
In order to be competitive in a hot sellerâs market, you will need to line up your financing in advance.
Besides all the usual suspects, like saving up for a down payment and improving your credit score, youâll also want to get a pre-approval letter from your bank. It states that a bank would approve you for a mortgage of a certain amount, and acts as a guarantee to the seller that you can actually afford to buy their house.
This is where it helps to know your budget up front.
âItâs important to understand that the strength of financing is a key consideration a seller takes into account when selecting an offer,â said real estate developer Bill Samuel.
No seller wants to risk accepting an offer that might fall through. Aand since pre-approval letters can take some time to get, have one ready before you find your dream house.
Be Friendly With Neighbors
This might sound crazy, but making a good impression on your new neighbors can actually make a difference when it comes time for a seller to review offers.
Since youâll likely be visiting the home at least once before making an offer, be prepared to talk to any neighbors you might run into. In close-knit neighborhoods, or ones where people share resources (like an HOA), sellers might care a bit more about the type of person they sell the house to.
If you happen to meet a neighbor when visiting the home, introduce yourself and make a good impression. You never know how much their opinion of you might factor into any final decisions.
Submit an Offer Quickly
After youâve seen a house, and decided you love it, be prepared to submit an offer quicklyâÂ as in, ASAP.
Work with your real estate agent to determine how many other offers the seller already has (or expects to get) and then be prepared to draft something up that day. In our case, we toured our home for the very first time at 11 a.m. on a Monday â it came on the market the evening before â and made an offer by 4 p.m. that same day.
If that sounds fast, it is. But by the time we submitted our offer, the seller already had three others. This is where it helps to have a great real estate agent on your side.
âHaving a realtor who can get your offer submitted quickly is crucial,â said Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers. âYou want to get your offer in front of the seller first, and make it strong. Purchase price is the obvious factor and in a competitive market, houses often go for over asking price. However, a strong offer has several factors and it depends on whatâs most important to the seller.â
Work with your real estate agent to find out what matters most to the seller â is it money, closing quickly, something else entirely? Then make sure your offer addresses their needs.
Minimize Your Contingencies (Within Reason)
Another way to win over your seller (and prevail in any bidding wars) is by keeping your contingencies to a minimum.
Contingencies are the contractual stipulations buyers and sellers must meet before the deal can close. Unsurprisingly, sellers donât like to have too many of them to deal with. Contingencies can include such things as requesting a seller to make certain repairs, getting a home inspection, or even the fact that youâll need to sell your old house before being able to buy the new one.
âIn a really aggressive sellerâs market, a home buyer who has to sell a current property should do so before placing an offer on another home,â said Jason Gelios of Community Choice Realty. âDonât always assume that the seller will take the highest price. Other conveniences can play a factor in gaining the sellerâs attention, especially things like faster closing times and less restrictions.â
While my partner and I didnât make the highest offer on our house, we did have the fewest contingencies âÂ mainly, we didnât ask too much of our seller in the way of repairs, or have another house to sell in order to afford the new one.
All that said, there are certain contingencies you should never forgo, and a home inspection is one of them. Getting your home inspected is hugely important, since inspectors will often find things even the sellers werenât aware of. No matter how much you love a house, donât be afraid of exercising your right to an inspection.
According to buyer protection laws in most states, sellers are required to report any findings in home inspections to subsequent buyers. In other words, if an inspector finds something wrong with the house, the seller will have to deal with it one way or anotherâÂ either with you, or the next buyer should you choose to drop out of the deal.
FROM THE HOME BUYING FORUM
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Make a Generous Earnest Money Deposit
When trying to woo your seller in a competitive market, it helps to make a generous earnest money deposit. An earnest money deposit is a good-faith deposit requested by the seller when you enter into a contract to buy the house and typically run anywhere from 1% to 3% of the sale price of the home.
When deciding how much of an earnest money deposit to include in your offer, keep in mind that whatever amount you give comes off the price of the home (and is returned to you if the deal falls through). In other words,Â thereâs no reason to be cheap. If you can, go slightly above the sellerâs requested deposit amount. Even if itâs just a little more than what theyâre asking, that gesture of good faith might just be what gets you the house.
Offer Above Asking Price
Wait. Why would anyone make an offer thatâs above asking price? Because the competition did it first, and in a hot sellerâs market, offering above asking price is often what it takes to even be considered.
Upping your offer may not break the bank as much as youâre fearing. âWith interest rates so low these days, offering more than what the seller is asking may not make a drastic difference in your overall monthly payments,â real estate agent Pavel Khaykin of Pavel Buys Houses said.
Letâs say the listing price on your dream home is $320,000 and youâre able to put down a 6% down payment. That leaves you with a mortgage of roughly $301,000. For a 30-year fixed mortgage at an interest rate of 3%, that translates into $1,269 monthly payments. Now letâs say you decide to bid a little higher on the home and offer $10,000 over asking price. This would only bump up your monthly payment (assuming you qualify for that low interest rate) by $42.
Lace Up Your Running Shoes
In a hot sellerâs market, youâve got to be ready to move fast. Often this is more of a change in mindset than anything else. When my partner and I first started looking at homes, we considered ourselves casual buyers â that is, until our dream home came on the market late one Sunday night. From there, things moved quickly. We saw the home, made an offer, were under contract by morning, and spent the next month and a half going through the process of closing on the house.
If youâre serious about finding your dream home in the next few months, the best thing you can do is know what you want from the outset, and get your ducks in a row to make a compelling offer when you find it. Maybe this means making a list of your must-haves in a house, and working to improve your credit score. It might also mean reaching out to a real estate agent before you need one, and getting that pre-approval letter in place.
Although inventory is low, new houses come on the market all the time.
Larissa Runkle is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
People may often imagine that when they reach their milestones, there will be fireworks and party buses along with a huge celebration. And while sometimes there are, most wins are simply small steps you take every day until one day you wake up where you visualized you would be. That is why it is important to celebrate it all â the ups, the downs, the wins, the steps forward, and sometimes even backward. Without awareness and reflection, you might miss out on celebrating how much progress you have made in your financial life. By acknowledging even the so-called small things, you can keep the momentum alive and feel good about yourself.
Here are some ways I celebrate my money wins, no matter how big or small:
Tell my family and friends.
By sharing my money wins and even challenges with my closest friends and family, it opens me up to receive the love and support that is needed to sustain the financial journey. I think because money is still a topic most do not feel comfortable talking about, getting vulnerable with close family and friends allows them to do so with me in return. That kind of give and receive is part of living an open, abundant life. If you’re comfortable, you can even share on social media about your wins, which could inspire others. Sharing your money goals and personal finance journey also helps you stay out of the âI am all aloneâ mindset, which is not true and can actually hold you back from receiving more in your financial life.
Pause and feel proud of myself.
There are so many specific times in my life where I felt my money wins viscerally and just paused to take a moment to feel proud of myself for doing it. Whether it was saving a certain amount of money, negotiating a specific compensation package, or changing a mindset pattern holding me back from living abundantly, I can recall the memories specifically and feel great about them and myself. I remember years ago when I sold my first business and received the payment in my bank account, I felt amazing to know that I actually did it. I had finally reached my financial goal. It was just a regular workday and I was alone doing my weekly money date. And I distinctly remember feeling all the excitement and joy knowing I had accomplished something I worked on for years. The irony is when we reach our financial goals such as buying a home, paying off our student debts, or reaching our cash cushion goal, there aren’t actually big fireworks. Instead, you feel a deep understanding within yourself that you finally reached a goal you may have been striving toward for years.
Remember I can keep doing what it takes.
When celebrating my money wins, it also reminds me that I have the power to do and create what I want in life. By using my real-life experiences of achieving something I have worked for, I am reminded that I can continue doing so to achieve whatever next financial goal I have. When I reached my cash cushion goal years ago, I remembered that I have the power to keep creating my financial life as I desire and have the discipline to save for my goals. These reminders are key because no matter where we start financially, we all have the power to create our lives as we want, and choose how we show up, behave, think and act with our money. We are not victims. When I feel that and know that in my being, I feel anything is possible and am able to stay in the positive, âI can,â mindset.
Buy something memorable to acknowledge my hard work and effort.
This does not always have to be something major but can even be something that you have been wanting for a significant amount of time. When I reached my own financial goal last year of making a certain amount of business revenue for the year, I decided with one of my larger incoming checks to my business, I would take a portion and buy myself a designer handbag I had wanted for a few years. It was a gift to myself that I could enjoy and remember my hard work to achieve it. But you donât always have to spend a lot. I also treat myself to smaller things like a massage or treating my family or friends out to a nice dinner. I just try to take time to celebrate by enjoying something nice whether it is a material item or a nice experience with my loved ones.
Journaling my accomplishments.
Every year, I take time to reflect on my total accomplishments for the year by journaling them out. This activity is solely for me to remember all I have achieved and to feel good about my accomplishments. By reflecting, I am able to connect to the positive aspects and blessings in my life to acknowledge how incredible I am. We tend to focus on what we are lacking or what we are not. By doing this activity, you are shifting your mindset and balancing the scales in a sense.
It’s common to look internally and criticize ourselves. Our mind jumps to comparing, thinking, “I donât have this or that or I didnât do this or that” or even feeling like a failure. With that mindset, you can get stuck only focusing on what you are not and have not, instead of embracing all that you are and all that you have. Having an attitude of gratitude goes a long way, especially with money. So take time to celebrate and feel grateful for what you have and all that you have accomplished. I truly believe this will also help you continue to attract more in your life.
The post How a CFP Celebrates Her Money Wins appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Sound money management is an important part of a solid financial strategy. Youâll want to have some of your money set for retirement in a traditional or Roth IRA. Still, other money might be saved for your kidsâ college, a down payment on a house or other longer-term goals. And then you might have an emergency fund as well as a checking account that you use to pay your monthly bills and expenses. Each of these buckets of money can be in a different kind of account. In this article, weâll look at some of the best checking accounts.
What makes a good checking account
Before we look at some of the best checking accounts, itâs a good idea to talk about what makes for a good checking account. A checking account is an account that you would typically use to pay your ongoing monthly expenses. It is more and more rare to actually write paper checks, and instead, you would typically use a debit card or cashless payment account linked to your checking account.Â
With a checking account, some features to look for include no monthly or maintenance fees, a low minimum amount to open an account, the rate at which they pay interest, and any account opening bonus they might offer. The interest rate that checking and savings accounts pay is tied to the federal funds rate and usually varies over time. As of 2020, the interest rates are quite low, and many checking and savings accounts do not pay any interest at all. Also keep in mind that even if your account pays you 1% interest, youâre still losing money to inflation. So you wouldnât want to keep any long-term investment money in a checking or savings account.
With all that being said, letâs take a look at some of the top checking accounts available.
Discover Cashback Debit
Discoverâs checking account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month, which is one of the few debit cards that offer a reward on ongoing purchases. The Discover Cashback Debit account also comes with no monthly maintenance or other fees, no fees to withdraw at over 60,000 ATMs worldwide and no fees for insufficient funds.
CapitalOne 360 Checking
The CapitalOne 360 Checking account has no account minimums or fees. It currently offers a 0.10% APY on balances, though you can also open a no-fee CapitalOne 360 Performance Savings account which offers 0.65% APY as of the time of this writing. CapitalOne also has thousands of branch offices nationwide, so you can do your banking online or in-person. The CapitalOne 360 Checking account offers three different options if you happen to overdraft your account – Auto-Decline, Next Day Grace and Free Savings Transfer.
Fidelity Cash Management Account
Fidelityâs Cash Management Account also offers no account fees or minimum balances. It also reimburses ATM fees nationwide, though only offers 0.01% APY on account balances. Fidelity makes it easy to transfer money between your checking account, savings accounts and any retirement accounts you have with Fidelity. Plus, the Fidelity Rewards Visa offers 2% cash back on all purchases, which you can redeem into your Fidelity Cash Management Account or any other Fidelity account.
Wealthfront Cash Account
Wealthfrontâs Cash Account offers a high-interest checking account (0.35% APY as of this writing) with no fees. And Wealthfrontâs convenient account dashboard lets you easily move money between your checking account and any investment or retirement accounts that you have with them. They also offer a service where you can get access to your paycheck up to two days early if you direct deposit into your Wealthfront Cash Account
HSBC Premier Checking
HSBCâs Premier Checking account also offers no fee on ATMs nationwide or for everyday banking transactions, but does charge a monthly maintenance fee if you donât have at least $75,000 in combined accounts or direct deposits of at least $5,000 monthly. They are currently offering a promotion where you can earn 3% as a welcome bonus, up to $600. Youâll get 3% on qualifying direct deposits, up to $100 per month, for the first six months of having your account.
Chase Total Checking
Chase Total Checking is currently offering a welcome bonus of $200 when you open a new account and have a direct deposit made to your account in the first 90 days. Also, there is a $12 monthly maintenance fee which can be avoided if you either:
Have direct deposits totaling $500 or more
Have a balance at the beginning of each day of $1,500 or more
Have an average beginning day balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of all of your Chase accounts
The post Best Checking Accounts 2020 appeared first on MintLife Blog.
When I first connected with Julia and John, the Queens, NY couple was expecting their first child and grappling with some debt, a lack of savings and income prior to the baby’s arrival. The couple was basically living paycheck to paycheck and in need of some advice to break through that cycle.
We reconnected this month to see how they’ve been doing. Julia is now nearing the end of her third trimester. The baby is due to arrive in two months.
I was hoping that with a baby on the way the couple would have found some ways to chisel away their debt or bulk up savings. Unfortunately, fie months later, they’re more or less still in the same money boat.
But they did act upon a couple of my tips and are benefiting from the goodness of New York and their parents, which has their futures looking brighter.
First, John, who lacks a college degree and was struggling to find full-time work, is going back to school. Not to a college or university, but to a 9-month software boot camp in New York that’s going to give him the skills and network to become a software developer. His potential earnings in the first year in the market could be as much as $75,000 (based on some people I know who’ve gone through similar programs in New York.)
The program will be about $15,000, a fraction of what it would cost to earn a bachelor’s degree. John’s parents have agreed to loan him the money. The couple’s decided to place that $15,000 family loan in savings and, instead, take out a small student loan to pay for John’s school. I agree with that strategy, given that their family is about to increase in size and having some cash on hand will be very important.
Once John completes school and finds work, I’d recommend the couple prioritize the credit card debt by paying at least double the minimums each month. Be most aggressive with the highest interest credit card debt first. Their student loan will likely have a smaller interest rate and can be paid over a 10-year period, making the monthly minimums relatively manageable. Automate those payments as soon as possible and benefit from a 0.25% interest rate reduction when they do.
While they’re taking on more debt, I’m okay with it. Investing in John’s education is one of the best ways this couple can get ahead and better secure their finances in the future – so long as they commit to earning more and paying it down.
Ahead of that program starting, John’s also taken on a side hustle (per my advice). He’s been working a few shifts here and there at Julia’s company, working with special needs patients as a social aide, taking them to community and outdoor events.
Some other good news that’s developed since we last spoke is that New York State has enhanced its Family and Medical Leave Act by implementing Paid Family Leave. In the past, certain employers were only required to provide workers with their jobs back after taking a leave of absence for up to 12 weeks. Now, qualifying private employers must provide paid time off and a continuation of health insurance for 8 weeks in 2018.
This came as a surprise bonus for Julia, who was preparing for zero paid time off from her employer.
It would be my recommendation to use part or all of that extra money to pay down their high-interest credit card debt.
Once Julia returns to work after her maternity leave, her mother-in-law will be the go-to caretaker during the day, another huge help.
They’re fortunate to have free childcare from a trusted, loved one. With that very big expense covered and John’s schooling about to start, I feel confident that the couple’s future is a financially bright one.
The post Check-In: Expecting Couple Struggling with Debt, But Future Looks Bright appeared first on MintLife Blog.
After years of building a stellar credit history, you may have decided youâre finally ready to invest in that vacation home, but you donât have quite enough in the bank for that eye-catching property just yet. Maybe you want to begin your investment journey early so you donât have to spend years bulking up your lifeâs savings.
If an aspiring luxury homeowner canât sufficiently invest in a property with a standard mortgage loan, thereâs an alternative form of financing: a jumbo mortgage. This mortgage allows those with a strong financial history who may not necessarily be a billionaire to get in on the luxury property market. But what is a jumbo mortgage (commonly known as a jumbo loan), and how exactly does it work?
Jumbo Loan Definition
A jumbo loan is a mortgage loanÂ whose value is greater than the maximum amount of a traditional conforming loan. This threshold is determined by government-sponsored enterprises (GSE), such as Fannie Mae (FHMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC). Jumbo loans are for high-valued properties, like mansions, luxury housing, and homes in high-income areas. Since jumbo loan limits fall above GSE standards, they arenât guaranteed or secured by the government. As a result, jumbo loans are riskier for borrowers than conforming mortgage loans.
Jumbo loans are meant for those who may earn a high salary but arenât necessarily âwealthyâ yet. Lenders typically appreciate this specific group because they tend to have solid wealth management histories and make better use of financial services, ensuring less of a risk for the private investor.
Due to the uncertain nature of a jumbo loan, borrowers need to present an extensive, secure credit history, as well as undergo a more meticulous vetting process if theyâre considering taking out a jumbo loan. Also, while jumbo loans can come in handy for those without millions in savings, potential borrowers must still present adequate income documentation and an up-front payment from their cash assets.
Like conforming loans, jumbo loans are available at fixed or adjustable rates. Interest rates on jumbo loans are traditionally much higher than those on conforming mortgage loans. This has slowly started shifting over the last few years, with some jumbo loan rates even leveling out with or falling below conforming loan rates. For example, Bank of Americaâs 2021 estimates for a 5/1 adjustable-rate jumbo loan were equivalent to the same rate for a 5/1 adjustable conforming loan.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has set the new baseline limit for a conforming loan to $548,250 for 2021, which is an increase of nearly $40,000 since 2020. This new conforming loan limit provides the new minimum jumbo loan limits for 2021 for the majority of the United States. As the FHFA adjusts its estimates for median home values in the U.S., these limits adjust proportionally and apply to most counties in the U.S.
Certain U.S. counties and territories maintain jumbo loan limits that are even higher than the FHFA baseline, due to median home values that are higher than the baseline conforming loan limits. In states like Alaska and Hawaii, territories like Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and counties in select states, the minimum jumbo loan limit is $822,375, which is 150 percent of the rest of the countryâs loan limit.
Ultimately, your jumbo loan limits and rates will depend on home values and how competitive the housing market is in the area where youâre looking to invest.
Jumbo Loan vs. Conforming Loan: Pros and Cons
The biggest question you might be asking yourself is âdo the risks of a jumbo loan outweigh the benefits?â While jumbo loans can be a useful home financing resource, sometimes it makes more sense to aim for a property that a conforming loan would cover instead. Here are some pros and cons of jumbo loans that might make your decision easier. Pros:
Solid investment strategy: Jumbo loans allow the investor to get a solid jump-start in the luxury real estate market, which can serve as a beneficial long-term asset.
Escape GSE restrictions: Jumbo loan limits are set to exceed those decided by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, so borrowers have more flexibility regarding constraints they would deal with under a conforming loan.
Variety in rates (fixed, adjustable, etc.): Though jumbo loan rates differ from conforming loan rates in many ways, they still offer similar options for what kinds of rates you want. Both offer 30-year fixed, 15-year fixed, 5/1 adjustable, and numerous other options for rates.
Usually higher interest rates: Though jumbo loans are known for their higher interest rates, the discrepancies between those and conforming loan rates are starting to lessen each year.
More meticulous approval process: To secure a jumbo loan, you must have a near air-tight financial history, including a good credit score and debt-to-income ratio.
Higher initial deposit: Even though jumbo loans exist for those who are not able to finance a luxury property from savings alone, they still require a higher cash advance than a conforming loan.
How To Qualify for a Jumbo Loan
As we mentioned before, jumbo loans require quite a bit more from you in the application process than a conforming loan would.
First and foremost, most jumbo lenders require a FICO credit score of somewhere around 700 or higher, depending on the lender. This ensures your lender that your financial track record is stable and trustworthy and that you donât have any history of late or missed payments.
In addition to the amount of cash you have sitting in the bank, jumbo lenders will also look for ample documentation of your income source(s). This could include tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and any documentation of secondary income. By requiring extensive documentation, lenders can determine your ability to make a sufficient down payment on your mortgage, as well as the likelihood that you will be able to make your payments on time. Usually lenders require enough cash assets to make around a 20 percent down payment.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, lenders will also require that you have maintained a low level of debt compared to your gross monthly income. A low debt-to-income ratio, combined with a high credit score and sufficient assets, will have you on your way to securing that jumbo loan in no time.
Furthermore, you will also likely need to get an appraisal to verify the value of the desired property, in order to ensure that the property is valued highly enough that you will actually qualify for a jumbo loan.
Jumbo loans provide a solid alternative to those with a steady financial history who want to invest in luxury properties but donât have enough in the bank yet.
A jumbo loan qualifies as any amount exceeding the FHFAâs baseline conforming loan limit: $548,250 in 2021.
Jumbo loan rates are typically higher than those of conforming loans, although the gap between the two has begun to close within the last decade.
To secure a jumbo loan, one must meet stringent financial criteria, including a high credit score, a low DTI, and the ability to make a sizable down payment.
For any financially responsible individual, itâs important to always maintain that responsibility in any investment. Each decision made should be carefully thought out, and you should keep in mind any future implications.
While jumbo loans can be a valuable stepping stone to success in competitive real estate, always make sure your income and budget are in a secure position before deciding to invest. You always want to stay realistic, and if you arenât interested in spending a few more years saving or financing through a conforming loan, then a jumbo loan may be for you!
Sources: Investopedia | Bank of America | Federal Housing Finance Agency
The post What Is a Jumbo Loan? Finance Your Property in a Competitive Market appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Although many people start New Yearâs resolutions in January, thereâs nothing magical about January with regards to self-improvement. Still, the best time to make a change or set a goal is today, so if youâre ready to level up in your life, thereâs no time like the present. Here are five financial habits that you might consider starting this year.Â
Commit to a written budget (and review it often)
The very first thing that youâll want to do is commit to a budget. Having a budget is the cornerstone and foundation for financial success. Knowing where your money is going (and not going) can help you understand where youâre at. If youâve had trouble making or keeping a budget, resolve to start a budget this year. A tool like Mint can be a great way to put your budget on autopilot.
Remember that a budget is just a tool to help you to not spend money on the things you donât find important so that you have money to spend on the things that you do find important. If you already have a budget, make it a habit to review your budget, at least monthly. That can help you identify where you might be able to make improvements.
As you start or recommit to your budget, make sure that it is written down. Budgets that are not written down, like goals, tend to fall by the wayside easily.
Start (or build) your emergency fund
Another great habit to get into in 2021 is starting an emergency fund. An emergency fund should be one of the very first things you do with any extra money you have in your budget. Even before working on eliminating your debt or saving for retirement, it makes a lot of sense to set aside money for emergencies.
A good rule of thumb is to start with a $1,000 emergency fund. It may not cover catastrophic emergencies, but it can help you to avoid having to spend on your credit cards when the unexpected happens. After youâve started that basic emergency fund, then you can continue to build it up while also starting to pay off debt or invest for the future. If you can, itâs a good idea to have a couple of months of expenses in your emergency fund. That way youâre covered for a while in case you lose an income source or have a major emergency.
Make a plan to eliminate your debt
The next habit to start or continue this year is to eliminate your debt. Depending on how much debt you currently have, it may not be realistic to pay off all of your debt in 2021. But no matter what, you should have a plan in place. There are a variety of different debt repayment strategies – the debt snowball and the debt avalanche among many. Itâs important to pick a debt payoff approach that works for you, and that you can stick to. Make it a habit to spend less than you earn and work towards becoming debt-free.
Spend with a purpose
Another great habit that can help you live within your means is to spend with a purpose. Spending with a purpose means that you are conscious with your spending. If you ever find yourself wondering where all your money has gone, you may benefit from being more deliberate with your spending.
Many people find success by setting a rule about any non-essential spending. For example, before you make any purchases besides essentials like rent, utilities, and debt payments, you must write it down. Just the act of writing it down (or taking a picture of it) is enough for many people to be more deliberate and conscious about what they choose to spend their money on.
Pay yourself first, and make sure to give yourself a raise
If youâre like many people, you may have good intentions of saving money each month, but at the end of the month, you find thereâs nothing left over after all the bills are paid. One habit that people who are successful financially have is to pay themselves first. Put your savings money aside at the BEGINNING of the month. Itâs a bit of a mental trick, but many people find that having that money out of sight helps them to save more.
Another financial habit to start is to always give yourself a raise. Whenever you get a raise at work or come across any âextraâ money, IMMEDIATELY put it either in your emergency fund or use it to pay down your debt. Putting any raise or extra money towards your savings (instead of increasing your standard of living) is a great habit to start.Â
This is a great habit to start, especially if you are young or just starting out in your professional life.Â Of course, paying yourself first and giving yourself a raise, doesnât mean that you have to only eat ramen or canât have nice things. But thanks to the magic of compound interest, the sooner you start to save and invest, the better off youâll be.
The post 5 Financial Goals to Start in 2021 appeared first on MintLife Blog.