What You Don’t Know About Your Credit Score… Could Cost You!

What You Don't Know About Your Credit Score Could Cost You! | Keeping Current Matters

Today we are excited to have Nabil Captan as our guest blogger. Nabil is a nationally recognized credit scoring expert, educator, author and producer. In today’s post, he explains how what you don’t know about your credit score could end up costing you. Enjoy!

Informed consumers considering a home purchase today want to do the right thing and plan ahead. Many do not seek immediate professional guidance from a Realtor or a mortgage loan officer. Instead, they hunt for hours online, looking at numerous websites for available homes for sale. They also consult websites to find the best interest rate and terms for future monthly mortgage payments. Many consumers feel betrayed, cheated and at times embarrassed to learn that the credit scores they counted on, to get that specific interest rate for their loan, are not used by mortgage lenders.

When shopping for a good mortgage interest rate, consumers also need to know their credit score, and utilize an online mortgage calculator to compute future monthly mortgage payments. A Google search for “credit score” will yield hundreds of results. The consumer accepts the provider’s terms and conditions to get a free credit score. Terrific! Unaware that in exchange they just received a meaningless credit score that lenders never use. They also handed over their Non-Public Personal Information (NPPI) to that credit score provider for life.

Before we go any further, let’s look at available credit scoring products available to consumers today:

  • FICO credit score from Fair Isaac Corporation/myfico.com, range 300 to 850
  • Plus Score from Experian, range 320 to 830
  • Trans Risk Score from TransUnion, range 300 to 850
  • Equifax Credit Score from Equifax, range 300 to 850
  • Vantage Score from all three bureaus, two ranges, 300 to 850 and 501-990

What is a FICO Score?

In 1958, Bill Fair and Earl Isaac, a mathematician and engineer, formed a company in San Rafael, California. They created tools to help risk managers make a better decision when taking financial risk. Today, 90 percent of all lenders use the FICO score, first created in 1989 by Fair Isaac, and it’s the only score Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Agency and Veterans Affairs will accept in underwriting loans they guarantee.

What is a Consumer Score?

The three credit bureaus, in their understanding of the credit scoring model created by FICO, decided to create their own scoring models, and in 2004 – 2006 they unveiled the “consumer” scores: Plus Score, Trans Risk Score, Equifax Credit Score, and Vantage Score. However, these are not genuine FICO scores, and mortgage lenders don’t use them. Consider this comparison: Would you buy a watch that gives the approximate time of day?

The three credit bureaus work with major financial institutions, professional organizations, comparison sites, personal finance businesses, clubs such as Costco, AAA, Sam’s Club, and many data-mining brokers to bombard consumers in the race of the free credit score mania, all with the enticement of a “consumer” score that is not used by lenders, in hopes of obtaining subscriptions or fees from consumers. Fees that are totally unnecessary!

Know Your Score

Gaining access to one’s own credit report and credit score prior to loan approval with no strings attached could be helpful, and at all times beneficial. With little effort, inaccuracy of information can be instantly corrected at the credit bureau level, and with a few simple steps, credit scores could be enhanced. For example, paying down revolving account balances before a creditor’s statement-ending date (the creditor later updates account information with the credit bureaus), thus reducing revolving account balances at a particular point in time, will positively add more points to a score. It’s priceless.

More Information

Consumers have a legal right to access their annual credit report at no charge once a year from annualcreditreport.com, a site sponsored by the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

These reports provide all the basic consumer data, but do not reveal a credit score. If you have a need for the FICO credit score that is actually used by mortgage lenders, myfico.com is the website to visit. For $19.95 per bureau, consumers can purchase a customized credit report with a genuine FICO score.

Additional websites to visit: the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (cfpb.gov) for true answers to questions about any financial concepts, financial products, dispute and complaint submissions, and much more.

Today’s homebuyer has instant access to answers. To be relevant in today’s market, real estate professionals need to know the absolute correct response to basic credit questions. It’s important.

Copyright 2014 Nabil Captan, Captan & Company. All rights reserved.

The Truth About Buying a Home: You DON’T Need 20% Down

The Truth About Buying a Home: You DON'T Need 20% Down | Keeping Current Matters

In a recent survey, How America Views Homeownership, it was revealed that 68% of Americans feel that now is a good time to buy a home and 95%said they want to own a home if they don’t already.

Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo home mortgageproduction, explains:

“Although the home buying process has changed in many ways in recent years, our survey found Americans still view homeownership as an achievement to be proud of and many believe that now is a good time to buy a home.”

Confusion Creates Paralysis

However, the survey also reported that many are afraid to purchase a home because of uncertainty about “qualifying for a mortgage or navigating the home buying process”. Though 74% said they “know and understand” the financial process involved in buying a home, they also gave answers that suggest otherwise. For example:

  • 30% of respondents believe that only individuals with high incomes can obtain a mortgage
  • 64% of respondents believe they must have a “very good” credit score to buy a home
  • 44% believe that a 20% down payment is required

In actuality many of these beliefs are unfounded. Let’s look at the question of down payment:

Freddie Mac, in a recent blog post addressing the issue, confirmed that there is misinformation regarding the amount necessary when determining the down payment for a home purchase:

“Did you know 40 percent of today’s homebuyers using mortgage financing are making down payments that are less than 10 percent? And how about this: since 2010, the number of people putting down less than 10 percent for conventional loans has grown three fold.  So, not only are low down payment options real, they represent a significant portion of today’s purchases.”

In a separate Executive Perspectives, Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac’s VP and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management explained further:

  • A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
  • Qualified borrowers can further reduce the down payment coming out of their own pockets to 3 percent by lining up gifts from family, grants or loans from non-profits or public agencies.

Education is the Key

Boyle talked about the importance of educating potential buyers:

“Letting more consumers know how down payments are determined could bring more qualified borrowers off the sidelines. Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 or 10 percent.”

Codel agreed:

“It is important for prospective homebuyers to feel empowered to ask lenders and real estate agents questions about available options, such as down payment assistance or FHA loan programs or VA loans for veterans.”

Bottom Line

If you are saving for either your first home or that perfect move-up dream house, make sure you know all your options. You may be pleasantly surprised.

A Homeowner’s Net Worth is 36x Greater Than A Renter!

Homeowner's Net Worth is 36x Greater Than a Renter | Keeping Current Matters

Over the last six years, homeownership has lost some of its allure as a financial investment. As homeowners suffered through the housing bust, more and more began to question whether owning a home was truly a good way to build wealth.

The Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances, every three years, and just released their latest edition this past week.

Some of the findings revealed in their report:

  • The average American family has a net worth of $81,200
  • Of that net worth, 61.4% ($49,856) of it is in home equity
  • A homeowner’s net worth is over 36 times greater than that of a renter
  • The average homeowner has a net worth of $194,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,400

Bottom Line

The Fed study found that homeownership is still a great way for a family to build wealth in America.

Home Sales Generate $52,205 Impact on Economy

Home Sales Generate $52,205 Impact on Economy

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) compiled data from research conducted by the Bureau of Economic Analysis & Macroeconomic Advisors on the economic impact of a home purchase.

After reviewing the data, they concluded that the total economic impact of a typical home sale in the United States is an astonishing $52,205.

Here is the breakdown of their report: 

Economic Contributions are derived from:

  • Home construction
  • Real estate brokerage
  • Mortgage lending
  • Title insurance
  • Rental and Leasing
  • Home appraisal
  • Moving truck service
  • Other related activities

When a House is Sold in the United States:

$15,912 income is generated from real estate related industries.

New homeowners spend an additional $4,429 on consumer items such as furniture, appliances, and remodeling.

It generates an economic multiplier impact. There is a greater sense of community associated with owning a home; therefore there is greater spending at restaurants, sports games, and charity events. The size of this “multiplier” effect is estimated to be: $9,764

Additional home sales induce additional home production. Typically one new home is constructed for every 8 existing home sales. Therefore, for each existing home sale, 1/8 of new home value is added to the economy, which is estimated in the U.S. to be: $22,100

When you add the numbers up it comes to $52,205!

FSBO’s Must Be Ready to Negotiate

FSBO's Must Be Ready to Negotiate | Keeping Current Matters

In a recovering market, some sellers might be tempted to try and sell their home on their own (FSBO) without using the services of a real estate professional. The real estate agent is a trained and experienced negotiator. In most cases, the seller is not. The seller must realize the ability to negotiate will determine whether they get the best deal for themselves and their family.

Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
  • The termite company if there are challenges
  • The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
  • The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
  • The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling.
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

The Two Things You Don’t Need to Hear from Your Listing Agent

Two Things You Don't Need to Hear From Your Listing Agent | Keeping Current Matters

You’ve decided to sell your house. You begin to interview potential real estate agents to help you through the process. You need someone you trust enough to:

  1. Set the market value on possibly the largest asset your family owns (your home)
  2. Set the time schedule for the successful liquidation of that asset
  3. Set the fee for the services required to liquidate that asset

An agent must be concerned first and foremost about you and your family in order to garner that degree of trust.  Make sure this is the case.

Be careful if the agent you are interviewing begins the interview by:

  • Bragging about their success
  • Bragging about their company’s success

An agent’s success and the success of their company can be important considerations when deciding on the right real estate professional to represent you in the sale of the house. However, you first need to know they care about what you need and what you expect from the sale. If the agent is not interested in first establishing your needs, how successful they may seem is much less important.

Look for someone with the ‘heart of a teacher’ who comes in prepared well enough to explain the current real estate market and patient enough to take the time to show how it may impact the sale of your home. Not someone only interested in trying to sell you on how great they are.

You have many agents from which to choose. Pick someone who truly cares.

How Interest Rates Impact Family Wealth

How Interest Rates Impact Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

With interest rates still in the low 4%’s, many buyers may be on the fence as to whether to act now and purchase a new home, or wait until next year.

If you look at what the experts are predicting for 2015, it may make the decision for you.

Mortgage Rate Projections | Keeping Current Matters

Even an increase of half a percentage point can put a dent in your family’s net worth.

Let’s look at it this way…

The monthly payment (principal & interest only) on a $250,000 home today, with the current 4.1% interest rate would be $1,208.

If we take that same home a year later, the Home Price Expectation Survey projects that prices will rise about 4% making that home cost $10,000 more at $260,000.

If we take Freddie Mac’s rate projection of 4.8%, the monthly mortgage payment climbs to $1,364.

Some buyers might not think that an extra $156 a month is that bad. But over the course of 30-year mortgage you have spent an additional $56,160 by waiting a year.