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Archive for ◊ March, 2014 ◊

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By Christin DiGangi

Credit scores are among the many things lenders review when you apply for a mortgage, because scores are designed to predict how likely you are to meet your debt obligations. After the mortgage crisis, lenders were hesitant to take on risky borrowers, and at the end of 2012, the average FICO credit score for a closed mortgage was 748, according to mortgage software company Ellie Mae.

A year later, that average has dropped to 727, which indicates increased loan access for homebuyers with lower credit scores. Having a great or poor credit score doesnt necessarily mean youll be approved for or denied a mortgage, but it plays a large part in the decision. FICO scores, the model used in Ellie Maes Monthly Origination Insight Report, range from 301 to 850, with good credit including scores between 700 and 749. Though the average score of someone who gets a mortgage went down in December 2013, the numbers suggest consumers with good or excellent credit still make up the bulk of new home loans.

You may not need a credit score of at least 727 to get a mortgage, but it could help. Credit scores remain a large obstacle for aspiring homeowners, even as other risk indicators become increasingly accepted by lenders. According to a CoreLogic report outlining originations in October 2013, mortgages with a high loan-to-value ratio (more than 90 percent) were being issued at normal (pre-housing bubble) levels, as were loans to borrowers with a high debt-to-income ratio. Borrowers with low credit scores havent seen the same rebound.

Figuring Out Where You Stand: It helps for consumers to get an idea of where their numbers fall before shopping for a house. For instance, you can calculate your debt-to-income ratio by adding up your monthly debt obligations and expected monthly mortgage payment and divide it by your monthly income. That way, you know if you should reduce your debt load before applying for a mortgage.

Similarly, you can check your credit scores and see if they need work. Its a good idea to periodically review your credit scores (Credit.com gives you two through the free Credit Report Card) as a motivator for keeping your finances on track, as well as spot potential identity theft, but it really helps to know where you stand when it comes time to apply for new credit.

Lenders consult different scoring models — there are lots of them — but the most helpful thing is to compare the same score over time as a way of measuring improvement in areas like payment history and debt usage. If you have a past littered with late payments and a tendency to max out your credit cards, lenders arent going to rush forward with mortgage offers. Focus on your existing credit before you ask for more.

More from Credit.com about homebuying:

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Here are the best credit cards for consumers with no or limited credit.

Seattle, WA (PRWEB) March 06, 2014

Today, Creditnet.com, a leading website on credit cards, announced the best credit cards for consumers with no credit. It can be hard for consumers with no credit, or even limited credit, to get approved for credit cards. Luckily, there are some credit card issuers that are willing to extend credit to these consumers in the hopes that they will become financially responsible. These credit cards are easy to get approved for and help consumers build, rebuild, or reestablish credit history quickly.

In creating their ranking of the best no credit credit cards, Creditnet experts analyzed approval rates, rewards programs, introductory offers, customer reviews, and expert opinions. According to their findings, here are the best no credit credit cards available to consumers today:

Credit One Bank Gas Rewards Credit Card

The Credit One Bank Gas Rewards Credit Card is one of the only unsecured credit cards with a rewards program for people with no or bad credit. Applicants can get pre-qualified for this card in less than a minute without affecting their credit score. This card offers 1% cash back on all gas purchases, and there are no limits to the gas rewards users can earn. There are no enrollment fees or over limit fees, and the annual fee is only $75 the first year. In addition, this card has automatic reviews to increase a user’s credit line and can easily help improve credit by reporting to all the major credit bureaus each month.

First Progress Platinum Prestige Secured MasterCard

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Secured MasterCard is a secured credit card designed to build credit. There is no credit history or minimum credit score required for approval, and consumers can fill out a quick and complete online application. Users can also receive their card fast with expedited processing and a low annual fee of $44. Members can set their own credit limit anywhere from $300- $2000 with a security deposit. The APR for purchases is a variable rate of 11.99%. Cardholders can easily rebuild credit with the card’s monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus.

First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card

Like the First Progress Platinum Prestige Secured MasterCard, the First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card is a secured credit card with no credit history or minimum credit score required for approval. Credit lines are secured with a fully-refundable deposit of $300- $2000. There is an easy online application, and payment history is reported to all major credit bureaus each month to help establish credit history. The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card has a low annual fee of $39 and a variable APR of 14.99%.

First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card

The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card is the last of First Progress’ secured credit cards designed to rebuild credit. With this card, there is also no credit history or minimum credit score required for approval and applicants can quickly register online. Progress is reported to all 3 major credit bureaus each month, so cardholders can build credit fast. There is a low annual fee of $29 and a variable APR of 19.99%.

From unsecured to secured, these are the best credit cards for consumers with no or limited credit to build credit fast. For more information regarding no credit credit cards, access Creditnet here: http://www.creditnet.com/credit-cards/no-credit-credit-cards

About Creditnet:

Creditnet is an authority credit card comparison site that offers innovative comparison tools to help users find the best credit card for their needs. In addition, the Creditnet Credit Talk Forum is a community of over 100,000 members that discuss credit cards, credit, debt, and credit repair daily.

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Fitch has prasied Telefónicas debt management policy, but its ratings outlook for the country remains negative for the time being due to headwinds including increasing competition in Spain and currency effects in Latin America.

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Feds put out false stats on mortgage fraud
Saturday, March 29th, 2014 | Author:

The inspector general for the Department of Justice examined probes into fraud such as borrowers or industry insiders falsifying data on home mortgage applications. Auditors also studied efforts to combat fraud against distressed homeowners, such as the foreclosure rescue scams Ive written about where con artists take money from people and promise to modify their mortgages but dont.

Auditors found the FBIs criminal investigative division ranked mortgage fraud as the lowest-ranked criminal threat in its lowest crime category. Some FBI field offices didnt list it as a priority at all, and the number of agents investigating mortgage fraud and the number of pending investigations decreased from 2009 to 2011, the peak of the foreclosure crisis, according to the report released a few weeks ago.

Then there was the statistical showboating Oct. 9, 2012. The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, led by the Department of Justice, held a news conference that day to announce its Distressed Homeowner Initiative. Officials boasted of criminal charges against 530 people and fraud that cost homeowners more than $1 billion within the past year.

Those statistics were a fraud.

A review of the numbers shortly after the news conference revealed numerous significant errors and inaccuracies in the data, the inspector general said. The correct figures: criminal charges against 107 people and estimated losses of $95 million.

I guess thats close enough for government work.

Whats not appropriate, even for government work, is that auditors said the feds continued to cite those statistics in other public announcements for 10 more months while knowing they were flawed.

In the departments written response to the audit, Deputy Attorney General James Cole did not dispute the findings but said the data misreporting does not detract from the successes that the department achieved.

He cited statistics in the audit showing mortgage fraud convictions and indictments doubled from 2009 to 2010 and increased again in 2011.

This set of statistics reflects a rapid mobilization of department resources to combat mortgage fraud during this period, and provides strong indicators of DOJs success in investigating and prosecuting mortgage fraud, Cole wrote.

The inspector general acknowledged finding some examples that supported the departments claims about mortgage fraud being a high priority.

However, we also determined during this audit that DOJ did not uniformly ensure that mortgage fraud was prioritized at a level commensurate with its public statements, the report says.

Stacy Wisser of Lehighton isnt surprised, based on her experience with other federal authorities that were supposed to investigate accusations of another type of mortgage fraud banks botching foreclosures.

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New index reveals debt anguish
Friday, March 28th, 2014 | Author:

Rent, council tax and utility bill arrears often have just as damaging an impact on people as payday loans, according to a new harm index designed to reveal the depth of the stress and anguish caused by debt.

Think-tank Demos, which compiled the figures, is pressing for a traffic light rating system, similar to those shown on food packaging to enable people to weigh up how good a meal is for their health, to be placed on all debt adverts and financial product descriptions.

This information could include, for example, the proportion of borrowers who default on or roll over their original loan, the average amount repaid per pound;100 borrowed and the risks of not repaying, according to its report, titled The Borrowers.

The think-tanks analysis also estimates that Britons are sitting on around a pound;5 billion black hole of hidden debt, or almost pound;200 per household, made up of unpaid rent and council tax and overdue gas and electricity bills, which is not included in formal figures.

It said these arrears, which have a high impact for consumers, are being ignored in official data.

The report said many people it interviewed said the burden of debt had left their emotional well-being in tatters and their problems will not necessarily be solved just by rearranging their finances.

The harm index was compiled by asking people to rate the negative impact of each of their debts, on factors including the damage they did to mental well-being, the legal and social consequences, the risk of ending up with multiple debts, how affordable the debt was and debt collection methods.

Each type of debt received an overall score out of 100. Illegal loans were ranked as causing the worst harm, with a score of 91, although this was based on a relatively small sample size of around 10 people.

They were followed by payday loans with a score of 68, council tax arrears which scored 62, rent arrears at 61, utility bills at 57 and upaid fines at 54.

The report said that while payday lenders are often considered to be the archetypal problem debt, people are actually affected in a very similar way when they fall behind with their rent, council tax and utility bills.

At the other end of the scale, student loans were deemed the least harmful, scoring 17 out of 100, followed by store cards at 20 and mortgages at 23.

The survey was carried out among around 2,000 adults representative of the population as a whole.

When the same questions were asked of people in smaller focus groups who were getting debt advice for unmanageable loans, store card debts were found to have the worst effects, with payday loans having less of a negative impact than mortgages, utility bills and credit card debt.

The report said this suggests that the negative impact of store card debt can vary widely from being very low if you pay off your balance, which is likely to be the experience of people in the wider survey, to very high if you miss payments, which is likely to be the experience of those in the focus groups.

The whole of the consumer credit market will come under the control of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) from next Tuesday, and the regulator has already revealed plans to toughen up on payday lenders and debt management firms.

The FCA charges levies to firms to fund money advice. Demos argues that the regulator should adopt a polluter pays model to calculating how much firms should are charged, meaning those firms which cause the most consumer harm should pay the most.

It suggested this could prompt some firms to improve the way they treat consumers. An index like the one used for the report could be the basis for this.

Jo Salter, author of the report, said: It is only fair that lenders whose practices cause the most harm to individuals should either contribute the most to funding debt advice or take steps to minimise their negative impacts.

Theres a pound;5 billion black hole in official debt statistics and our research shows just how arrears on rent, council tax and utility bills often have just as big a negative impact on people as payday lending.

Around nine in 10 (88%) adults in the population generally were found to be in some form of debt and the most common reasons for borrowing money were for a one-off purchase or an unexpected event.

However, the report said worryingly almost one quarter (23%) of people had dug themselves into debt to cover everyday living costs such as food, heating and clothing.

Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Consumer Finance Association (CFA), which represents short-term lenders, said: There is much in this report to welcome.

It puts payday loans into context of overall consumer debt and throws light on to the much bigger, but previously unseen, problem debts that are challenging UK families.

Payday loans make up less than 2% of the consumer credit market and borrowers come from all walks of life.

The diversity of their circumstances means that a traffic light system would be meaningless. One persons credit is another persons debt, so we will continue our efforts to protect borrowers by ensuring our members operate to high standards.

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While insterest rates on the majority of Chase’s (NYSE:JPM) mortgage loans are holding firm on Wednesday, March 26, we noticed improvements on a few loan packags offered by the lender. Individuals, who are interested in refinancing over 30 years, can see Chase’s 30-year fixed mortgage being traded at an interest rate of 4.500%. This is a lower rate level compared to the previous 4.375% from yesterday. Contrary to the 30-year FRM, the 15-year fixed refinance mortgage hasn’t seen any changes today at this lender, as the mortgage rate still hovers at 3.625%, just like a day earlier. Heading over to more flexible refinance loans, the 7-year ARM retained its level, according to the latest mortgage information. Chase offers this type of mortgage for refinancing purposes at a rate of 3.625%. The same can be said about the 5/1 ARM, as the mortgage interest rate looks stable at 3.375%.

Besides home refinancing options, the lender also advertises some home purchase loan solutions for potential customers. Presently, the standard 30-year home mortgage is listed at a rate of 4.375% at Chase. The shorter, 15-year home loan alternative can be locked in at a rate of 3.625%. No changes were made to 7/1 ARM home loans this mid-week, as they have a daily low rate at 3.500%. One of the more attractive adjustable rate home loans is the 5-year ARM, which has seen a slight improvement today and now it’s published at a rate of 3.250%. Check the details below for additional information on the bank’s current mortgage interest rates.

? Compare Todays Mortgage Rates and Find The Best Loans


Chase offers excellent mortgage rates under both its home purchase and refinance programs, so those who are looking to invest either in a new / used home or to refinance an existing mortgage, may find some ideal loan solutions at this financial institution.

Chase Home Purchase Rates

30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage: 4.375%, 1.375 discount points, 4.492% APR
15-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage: 3.625%, 1.000 discount points, 3.771% APR
7/1 Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM): 3.500%, 1.125 discount points, 3.255% APR
5/1 Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM): 3.250%, 1.125 discount points, 3.094% APR

Chase Refinance Rates

30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage: 4.500%, 1.500 discount points, 4.629% APR
15-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage: 3.625%, 1.125 discount points, 3.789% APR
7/1 Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM): 3.625%, 1.125 discount points, 3.314% APR
5/1 Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM): 3.375%, 1.125 discount points, 3.138% APR

It should be noted, that the current mortgage interest rates may vary without prior notice from the lender and are subject to change based on location, geography and other terms and conditions. The annual percentage rates (APR) were made based on discount points, origination fees, average loan fees and closing costs.

As far as US mortgage applications are concerned, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) published the results of its latest weekly mortgage survey on Wednesday. According to the MBA’s data, mortgage application activity in the US fell 3.5% in the week ended March 21. Less Americans decided to file applications for mortgage refinancing, as the Refinance Index dipped 7.7% in the said period. With regards to home purchase applications, the Purchase Index improved 2.8%. The refinance share of total mortgage applications declined to 53%, the MBA said.

In other news, national average mortgage rates improved last week, according to Virgina-based mortgage finance company, Freddie Mac. The 30-year fixed mortgage averaged a rate of 4.32% last week, a decrease of 5 basis points compared to the previous 4.37% that it held in the prior week. The 15-year FRM averaged 3.32% last week, tumbling by 6 basis points since the previous data, Freddie Mac reported on Thursday.

More details on Chase’s latest mortgage interest rates, as well as information on loan assumptions and borrowing terms and conditions can be found on the bank’s website.

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4 Ways Credit Unions Help Raise Credit Scores
Thursday, March 27th, 2014 | Author:

CheckingCredit Union How Credit Unions Help Raise Credit Scores

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many consumers are still regaining their financial footing.

To help, credit unions are offering more tools aimed at rebuilding tarnished credit scores. These tools include low-cost secured loans, free credit counseling and online debt management courses. And since credit unions are member-owned, theyre usually eager to help their members improve their scores or establish credit.

For the best credit union checking accounts, go to Bankrate.com.

To accomplish this, credit unions are taking a consultancy approach to debt rather than trying to generate high fees for these services, says Paul Gentile, an executive vice president of the Credit Union National Association.

This approach to rebuilding credit can be crucial, since a big chunk of our credit scores are linked to our payment histories. Getting back on track credit-wise raises FICO scores, which lenders use to calculate credit risk. Better FICO scores can translate into lower loan fees, says Randy Hopper, assistant vice president of credit card lending at Navy Federal Credit Union.

However, rebuilding your score is no slam dunk. It takes patience and discipline. But to take advantage of a credit unions tools, you must be a member, he says.

Here are four ways that some credit unions nurture your credit back to health.

Polish damaged scores with credit builder loans

Credit builder loans, which are usually given out in small amounts, help members rebuild their credit over time, says Ben Rogers, research director at the nonprofit Filene Research Institute. The number of credit unions offering these loans has increased since 2009, and they number almost 1,200 as of September 2012, according to Callahan and Associates.

For example, Digital Federal Credit Union in Massachusetts offers credit builder loans in amounts from $500 to $3,000 at a 5 percent interest rate. The loan amount is deposited into a savings account as collateral, and it cant be touched. When the loan is repaid, the member gets the balance in the account, including dividends. Monthly payments are reported to credit bureaus.

Other credit unions such as Texas-based Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union and Virginia-based Langley Federal Credit Union also offer credit builder accounts. But loan rates can vary widely, so it pays to check the fine print.

Get free credit counseling

Many credit unions offer free credit counseling without advertising it, Rogers says. For example, North Carolina-based Charlotte Metro Credit Union started its free credit counseling program two years ago. Some of our members need help managing their finances, says Susan Coughlin, electronic delivery and member retention manager at Charlotte Metro Credit Union.

As part of the program, Charlotte Metro Credit Union members are usually offered at least three credit counseling sessions, focusing first on cash flow analysis.

Most people dont understand their full financial situation, Coughlin says. We provide a good overview. This is a safe space.

Members that take the program do eventually see increases in their credit scores, she says. The counseling helps create a more financially healthy member, she says.

Some other credit unions like Santa Cruz Community Credit Union in California partner with nonprofit agencies to offer free one-on-one counseling via phone or in a face-to-face meeting.

Take advantage of online tools

Credit unions offer many credit-building tools, says Sue Knott, a branch manager at Nebraska-based SAC Federal Credit Union. Her credit union has free online resources, such as a blog on credit repair that anyone can use. Theres also a free, downloadable e-book called The Building Blocks of Credit on the SAC site that covers the basics of building or rebuilding credit.

Its an online teaching tool, Knott says.

Other credit unions like North Carolina-based Self-Help Credit Union have partnered with Balance Financial Fitness to offer free educational tools, such as online financial management, along with help from a toll-free information hotline staffed by certified counselors. And Madison, Wis.-based Summit Credit Union, along with others, links to a free online tool for paying off debt called SavvyMoney Checkup. By plugging in your financial data, you can set payment goals and get out of debt faster, says Rogers.

You get a score and a road map, he says.

Establish credit with secured cards

A secured credit card can be a creditworthy tool for people with little or no credit histories. Typically, a savings account is used as collateral against a credit card loan. Your borrowing power builds over time, as you make more deposits into your account. Many credit unions offer secured credit cards, so there are lots of choices. Some even waive annual fees and give you free credit scores.

Secured cards are the first step for people who wouldnt qualify for a regular credit card, Rogers says. However, credit unions usually dont promote them. So youll have to check your credit unions website.

For example, Navy Federal Credit Union has its nRewards card. The minimum deposit to get the card is $500. After that, the card works like a normal credit card. Members earn rewards, and theres no annual fee. The credit union also reports to all three credit reporting agencies.

Lots of other secured cards can be expensive, since people with low credit scores are typically charged higher interest rates and fees than people with good credit, says Navy Federal Credit Unions Hopper.

Some credit unions like Utah-based America First Credit Union even offer secured credit cards with high limits. Its Visa card has credit limits of $200 to $15,000 and no annual fee. Still, there are some downsides to any secured card. Funds usually cant be touched, and interest rates can vary widely.

Copyright 2014, Bankrate Inc.

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The common accepted theory is that to maintain a positive reputation on local evaluation sites is almost impossible for the ordinary little business owner. Those that accept this theory allow their companies to have a hard time with an unfair set of rules. This permits the minority who are either miserable with a company or an unethical competitor to identify exactly how this company will be seen.

In this short article you will discover 6 means to construct and maintain an excellent online track record against individuals determined to damage your business. You will learn to take control of your online brand name and track record with these 6 sure-fire techniques.

My Citizen Company Ranking

Often times a person’s mental reasoning will either create a mountain out of a mole hillside or bill miss out on the indicator that says cliff ahead. When the ordinary companyentrepreneur looks at is online track record and sees the unfavorable remarks of one or twoa couple of individuals, they have a tendencyhave the tendency to think that their business is doomed. While others will attempt to decrease the effect, they will bury their heads in the sand, neglecting the risk signal for their company. The fact is someplace between these 2 points. It is at this time that the company owner need to get crystal clear about exactly how they will fightresist.

Exactly what do I imply by fighting back? The large majority of company owners have a lot of people who like them. 15 years ago we would say that a happy consumer would inform one personsomeone. A furious consumer would inform a 100. Today the delighted client does not have time to inform anybody and the upset consumer goes online and actually mentions to billions. CompanyCompany owner today have to discover how to take advantage of the customers that like them. As a companya company owner, do miss out on the possibility to have someone inform the world about how great you actually are.

If you are not tracking your online reputation today, your business is not yours to decide the fate of. It only takes a few minutes to check out a few of the regional online search engine or to even use a ranking review website to determine exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are in your online company track record. The resource box below consists of the site that I make use of.

Make A List Of Things To Change

No company should have a perfect reputation online. What this usually indicates is that you have too few evaluations or it is unethically being controlled to stay clear of the adverse evaluations. With the very first case, possible customers will see that as an indicator your company does not develop enough interest from its clients to obtain a feedback. In the later, clients will see the manipulation and react appropriately, knowing no company is ideal.

To obtain your clients included in providing you assesses is that you build a funnel (system) to make it simpler for them to leave their Find Reputation Marketing Experts input online. Many do not wantwish to take the time to identify howthe best ways to do it. Make it easy for them as well as fun.

Do You Know What Individuals Like About You

Your company is never going to be the ideal business for everybody. Your task as a companyan entrepreneur is to identify exactly what your strengths are and shut them on the net. This means getting blogs and interviews with pleased customers. Treat a great client to a dish and finddiscover why they enjoy you. Compose a blog about it and try to encourage others like them to try your company. If you are not an expert at writing employ a reputation advertising expert to construct the blog sitepost for you. The little price you pay will be more than balanced out by growing your business.

Your company could not be blessed with a person on staff who is a reputable designer or author however there are numerous offered to carry out agreement work for you. The finestThe very best track record marketing companies constantly have whatever staff you require to develop your business image online.

With Apple’s new iPhone 5 anybody can quickly develop a 90 2nd online video that you can post on your business blog. It requires veryhardly any effort and some consumers will enjoy to do it with you. Make it a true meeting design format.

Have A Plan

OK, so I am not going to inform you that “if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” However … Most of us as companycompany owner have hundreds of strategies in the back of our head. Till we compose that planplan in information, we will not have the ability to hold ourselves accountable. Make it very information and they make it so you can easily choose if you are on track. To boldy grow your online credibility you need to have an aggressive plan.

When your plan is weak you will look puzzled about exactly what you are trying to accomplish. In this case the information are exactly what will decide if you make things better or if you just muddy up the water even more with the quality of your business.

As Nike States “Simply Do It”.

The biggestThe best of strategies are absolutely nothing however dreams if you do not follow through on the execution of the strategy. In sports, most coaches can produce a great game plan however it is the group that performs that game plan the bestthe very best that wins the game. Due to the fact that the majority of company owners are so concentratedconcentrated on what is taking place at their traditional location they commonly over look the digital world that manages their street front company.

Delegate – Delegate – Delegate.

As a company owner you can not do everything. No matter exactly how little your company is. Prior to you disagree, how difficult do you work at developing the power that switches on the lights? You entrust that to the electrical company. Why not discoverdiscover what else you can delegate to get the outcomes you desire? Exactly what you do finest is “shake hands and kiss infants.” Invest time energy and effort structure up the relationships that someoneanother person can report on for you.

To discover out more about howthe best ways to find a great reputation advertising business checktake a look at the links in the resource box below.

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Investors Home Mortgage, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Investors Bank, is committed to competitive loan products to fit the needs of a wide variety of homeowners. If youre considering buying or refinancing a home or investment property, please contact one of our Professional Mortgage Consultants at 862-754-1353 for more details.

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Investors Home Mortgage provides exceptional customer service and competitive loan products to those in NJ, NY, CT, DE, PA, NC and FL. If youre considering buying or refinancing a home or investment property, please contact one of our Professional Mortgage Consultants at 862-754-1353 for more details.

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Home mortgage help for middle class buyers
Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 | Author:

South Carolina has a gift it would like to give to middle-income homebuyers that could smooth the path to a mortgage.

SC Housing, the state#x2019;s housing authority, is offering up to $2,000 a year that buyers can use as a tax credit, down payment assistance or a way to reduce the monthly payment, said Clayton Ingram, the authority#x2019;s director of marketing.

The agency also has a program aimed at lower-income home buyers, but the $2,000 is available to people in Horry and Georgetown counties where household income is as much as $20,000 above the area#x2019;s per person median income. Ingram said a one- or two-person household in Horry County can have an income up to $66,000 and still be eligible. Households with three or more people can have a $77,000 per year income.

Borrowers further can count the $2,000 a year as a part of their income, which could influence the ability to get a mortgage at all.

The median income in Horry County is $42,183 a year, according to the US Census Bureau.

The program is valid on homes that cost up to $225,000.

Ingram said the $2,000 can#x2019;t be used if the borrowers are getting a loan from SC Help, the housing authority#x2019;s lending arm. Borrowers who get loans through SC Help could get up to $8,000 in down payment assistance.

He said that borrowers in the program during 2013 had an average income of $44,000 a year and got loans that averaged $105,000.

The $2,000 payment is for people who#x2019;ve never owned a home in South Carolina, but Ingram said the program can be used by those who haven#x2019;t owned a home in South Carolina for three years or who don#x2019;t own a home at the time they close on their new home loan.

Ingram said that while SC Housing is a department of state government, it gets no state funding.

The agency sells bonds that are repaid by borrowers#x2019; mortgage payments. The mortgage payments also fund the daily operations of the agency.

For more information, go to www.schousing.com.

Stemming the tide

The SC Association of Realtors has launched a lobbying effort that it hopes will lead to more affordable homeowner insurance rates.

The Competitive Insurance Act was introduced in the state Senate last year and now is in its Committee on Banking and Insurance. According to the association, the bill would protect homeowners from insurance cost fluctuations, regardless of the location, according to the association. Further, it will:

bull; Reduce risks by luring more insurance companies to the state, which could lead to #x201C;much-needed competition.#x201D;

bull; Create greater transparency by requiring the state insurance director to hold an annual coastal meeting and to submit an annual report to the General Assembly.

bull; Create incentives for more insurance coverage for coastal regions.

bull; Help homeowners better prepare for storms.

bull; Make insurance companies give consumers a recap of coverage provided, summary of discounts and options to increase deductibles.

The association is asking homeowners to get involved by visiting supporthomeowners.org and by contacting their state legislators.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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