Homes for Sale in Harrison Township, MI
New Construction in Harrison Township, MI
Selling in Harrsion Township, MI
Values in Harrison Townhip, MI
About Harrison Township, MI

6 Financial Goals to Achieve Before You Die

(TNS)—At the end of life, your final thoughts won’t be on bad financial decisions—but before you approach the hereafter, you’ll likely have more than a few regrets about poor money management.

Fiscal distress often results from a lack of long-term planning. Failing to save enough for retirement—a decades-long endeavor—is the biggest financial regret among American adults, according to a Bankrate survey, followed closely by not having an adequately-funded emergency savings account.

Much like your physical well-being, financial health requires both good habits and a bit of luck. By setting up financial goals and working hard to accomplish them, you can focus your energy on the more meaningful parts of your life.

1. Maintain a top-notch FICO score.
You’re going to need to borrow a large sum of money at some point in your life. Want to buy a house? A car? Chances are you’re going to need to go to the bank first. The more creditworthy you appear to a financial institution, the less interest you’ll end up paying.

Guarding a super prime score, generally around 740, should be an important financial goal. Most Americans fall short. The average FICO score hit an all-time high last year, reaching 700. You should aim higher—although don’t stress over trying to get a perfect mark of 850. Life’s too short.

How do you improve? Pay off all your credit card bills in full every month, on time. Use no more than 20 percent of your available credit and keep your oldest accounts going even if you don’t need them.

2. Have a six-month emergency fund.
Amassing six months’ worth of spending in a high-yield savings account is really hard. Depending on where you live and how much you earn, you’re looking at a stash of somewhere between $20,000 and $50,000. Only 39 percent of Americans would be able to pay for a $1,000 emergency with cash, according to a Bankrate survey. Wages have mostly stagnated since the Great Recession, and low interest rates are a headache for savers.

An emergency fund is a hedge against disaster. If you were laid off, it would let you take your time picking your next role. If you got sick or the roof caved in, you wouldn’t have to go into debt. If you’re starting from scratch, place any windfall you receive into a savings account. You can even name the account “break in case of emergency.”

3. Become a 401(k) millionaire.
How much you need in retirement savings depends on your current standard of living, but you may face some adjustments after calling it quits. Half of all households are at risk of spending their golden years with less spending power than they are used to, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

The old rule of thumb suggests you need eight times your final income in retirement savings (there are more detailed measures you can use, or you can hire a financial planner). Still, retirement saving is relatively straightforward. Save 10 to 15 percent of your income, including a company match in your 401(k), and invest in low-cost diversified funds. One quick and easy way is to pick a target date fund that gets more conservative (i.e., more bonds) as you age.

4. Pay off your mortgage.
Even if you have a low mortgage rate—mortgage rates have been muted by historical standards since the onset of the housing crisis—owning your home outright is one of the most financially liberating steps you can take, and a sure way to save money.

Let’s say you put 10 percent down on a $262,500 home with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.88 percent. You’ll end up paying $164,000 in interest alone. Taking out a 15-year loan, instead, would save around $90,000.

Even if you stick with the average loan length, consider contributing extra to your monthly payment whenever possible, and join the 36 percent of mortgage-free homeowners.

5. Make a major purchase with cash.
Despite an improving jobs picture and stock markets ascending to new heights, Americans are struggling with savings and debt. The personal savings rate has dropped dramatically over the past few years, while the percentage of families with credit card debt jumped by nearly six percentage points to 43.9 from 2013 to 2016, according to the Federal Reserve. The average indebted household owes $5,700. With the Fed poised to raise interest rates multiple times in 2018, taking on debt is an ever more expensive proposition.

The next time you need to make a big purchase, like a family vacation or a new car, try to make it completely with cash; you’ll not only enjoy the thing you just bought, but you won’t face the anxiety that accompanies new debt. To ramp up your savings rate, automatically siphon a small percentage of your biweekly paycheck into an earmarked savings account. Saving automatically is the quickest way to build up your cache.

6. Pay off student loans.
Student loans afflict people of all ages. Nearly one in six Americans have student debt, with a median amount of $17,000. If you took on loans for post-grad studies, you owe $45,000. Meanwhile senior debt has quadrupled over the past 10 years, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If you’re already putting enough away for retirement—generally 10 percent of your pay, including any employer match—and have a fully-funded emergency fund, start working overtime to pay off your student debt. Put any raises, or your tax refund, to chip away at the mountain of debt.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post 6 Financial Goals to Achieve Before You Die appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

Borrower Beware: Soon It Will Be Tough to Unload College Loans

(TNS)—Here’s a good reason to think twice about taking out piles of student loans after watching a catchy TV ad for a for-profit college.

The U.S. Department of Education is on a path to make it far tougher to get federal college loans forgiven using the argument that the school cheated you out of a good education by misleading you about job prospects or engaging in fraud.

The new rule—now under a public comment period—would apply to students seeking loans after July 1, 2019.

Consumer watchdogs, of course, charge that bad actors are getting a pass here. It would be up to students to prove that the school knowingly made false statements. What’s most troubling is that we’re often talking about low-income students, minority students or military veterans who have taken out loans to attend for-profit schools as they seek to build a better life and get training for a good-paying job.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said the proposal lays out clear rules schools must follow, while protecting students from fraud. The administration maintains that the current rules had been too broadly interpreted, leaving taxpayers on the hook and opening the door for frivolous claims.

Yet many borrowers could be burned here. We’re looking at yet another reminder of why it’s savvy to be skeptical when costly for-profit colleges aggressively recruit you and make breathless promises about grants and financing.

All graduates don’t get good jobs.
Some schools do go out of business unexpectedly; others provide misleading claims and don’t provide a degree that employers really value.

Two years ago, for example, ITT Tech shut its doors following sanctions by the U.S. Department of Education. The sudden shutdown meant that students were able to seek a discharge of federal student loans—but not private student loans—from the federal government. For-profit Corinthian College closed its campuses in 2015, leaving students unable to complete their programs.

Often consumers find the pitch surrounding some for-profit programs very appealing. They’re looking to get on the fast path to a new, more promising career. Yet many students borrow heavily—too heavily—to chase those dreams.

Robin Howarth, senior researcher for the Center for Responsible Lending, says there’s growing concern that students attending for-profit schools can end up owing a great deal of money but only have limited potential for obtaining a job with a substantial paycheck in return.

The consumer watchdog group released a report in June that indicated, for example, that students face very high tuition and fees at for-profit colleges in order to receive training for healthcare support jobs. Many students borrow most of the money, but the jobs they find don’t pay enough to cover their living expenses and all that debt.

“Students need to pay very close attention to what kind of earnings are achieved,” Howarth says.

It’s important to look beyond average salaries in the medical field and look at the kinds of jobs obtained by students who attended that program.

Many times, Howarth says, earnings for similar programs are less when the student has attended a for-profit school than if the student studied a similar program at a public or private nonprofit college.

Often, Howarth says students may be better off obtaining training at a community college at a far lower cost.

Proving fraud isn’t easy for student borrowers.
Kurt O’Keefe, a Grosse Pointe Woods attorney who has a blog called “Discharge Student Loans,” says student borrowers would still face significant challenges under the new rules, if they want to try to get loans forgiven if they claim they were defrauded by the schools.

“Failing to deliver requisite skills and knowledge is a tough one to litigate,” O’Keefe says. “The schools will say the student just failed to learn.”

In addition, he noted that many who find themselves in such circumstances are from lower-income families and cannot afford to take legal action.

“A right that costs money to exercise, legal fees for your lawyer, does not help much when you are talking about people who cannot pay their loans to begin with,” O’Keefe says.

O’Keefe says the real problem is one that he refers to as “the triangle.”

“The schools get the money whether the student gets value or not, the government (usually) lends the money and chases the borrower for repayment. The schools have no skin in the game,” he says.

Part of the draft rules would allow the Department of Education to seek reimbursement for forgiven student loans from the institutions and that is good, he says.

“It would hurt scam schools and schools with scam programs, and could be used against any institution, public or private,” O’Keefe says.

Under a current regulation, borrowers with federal student loans might be able to get debt relief when they claim they were misled about the cost and quality of the education. It’s called the “Borrower Defense to Repayment” rule.

The Education Department notes students may be eligible for borrower defense regardless of whether your school closed or you are otherwise eligible for loan forgiveness under other laws.

Consumers with questions or pending claims regarding borrower defense may call the Department of Education’s hotline at 855-279-6207 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. As of January, the Department of Education has received 138,989 claims—and 23 percent had been processed. The bulk of the claims processed were associated with Corinthian and ITT.

New rules would save the government billions.
The proposed change in regulations would significantly limit the situations under which borrowers could qualify for financial relief, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of Research for Savingforcollege.com.

“The changes appear intended to primarily reduce costs to the federal government,” Kantrowitz says. “While the previous regulations may have been too permissive—allowing cancellation of debt based on just accusation of wrongdoing—the new regulations go too far in the opposite direction. As the lender, the federal government should have some responsibility to the borrower.”

It’s estimated that the new proposal could save the federal government nearly $13 billion over the next decade.

It’s a substantial savings, given that the Education Department had put a $14.9 billion price tag over the next decade for the program under the more-broadly defined regulations.

The new regulations would permit the U.S. Department of Education to provide partial relief instead of cancelling all of the borrower’s loans, depending on the level of harm suffered, he says.

Under the new rules, borrowers would need to prove that the college intended to defraud—a very difficult standard.

Also significant: Only borrowers already in default could apply for relief under the proposed rules. As a result, a borrower who was actively repaying the loans wouldn’t get help.

“This might lead some borrowers to intentionally default on their federal student loans,” Kantrowitz says.

Defaulting can seriously harm your credit score, and drive up borrowing costs when you want to take out a car loan, home mortgage or open up a credit card. A default will be reported to credit bureaus.

Most often, you do not want to go into default. If you default on student loans, you will be subject to collection charges and wage garnishment, and the government can seize your income tax refund, too.

©2018 Detroit Free Press
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Borrower Beware: Soon It Will Be Tough to Unload College Loans appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

Borrower Beware: Soon It Will Be Tough to Unload College Loans

(TNS)—Here’s a good reason to think twice about taking out piles of student loans after watching a catchy TV ad for a for-profit college.

The U.S. Department of Education is on a path to make it far tougher to get federal college loans forgiven using the argument that the school cheated you out of a good education by misleading you about job prospects or engaging in fraud.

The new rule—now under a public comment period—would apply to students seeking loans after July 1, 2019.

Consumer watchdogs, of course, charge that bad actors are getting a pass here. It would be up to students to prove that the school knowingly made false statements. What’s most troubling is that we’re often talking about low-income students, minority students or military veterans who have taken out loans to attend for-profit schools as they seek to build a better life and get training for a good-paying job.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said the proposal lays out clear rules schools must follow, while protecting students from fraud. The administration maintains that the current rules had been too broadly interpreted, leaving taxpayers on the hook and opening the door for frivolous claims.

Yet many borrowers could be burned here. We’re looking at yet another reminder of why it’s savvy to be skeptical when costly for-profit colleges aggressively recruit you and make breathless promises about grants and financing.

All graduates don’t get good jobs.
Some schools do go out of business unexpectedly; others provide misleading claims and don’t provide a degree that employers really value.

Two years ago, for example, ITT Tech shut its doors following sanctions by the U.S. Department of Education. The sudden shutdown meant that students were able to seek a discharge of federal student loans—but not private student loans—from the federal government. For-profit Corinthian College closed its campuses in 2015, leaving students unable to complete their programs.

Often consumers find the pitch surrounding some for-profit programs very appealing. They’re looking to get on the fast path to a new, more promising career. Yet many students borrow heavily—too heavily—to chase those dreams.

Robin Howarth, senior researcher for the Center for Responsible Lending, says there’s growing concern that students attending for-profit schools can end up owing a great deal of money but only have limited potential for obtaining a job with a substantial paycheck in return.

The consumer watchdog group released a report in June that indicated, for example, that students face very high tuition and fees at for-profit colleges in order to receive training for healthcare support jobs. Many students borrow most of the money, but the jobs they find don’t pay enough to cover their living expenses and all that debt.

“Students need to pay very close attention to what kind of earnings are achieved,” Howarth says.

It’s important to look beyond average salaries in the medical field and look at the kinds of jobs obtained by students who attended that program.

Many times, Howarth says, earnings for similar programs are less when the student has attended a for-profit school than if the student studied a similar program at a public or private nonprofit college.

Often, Howarth says students may be better off obtaining training at a community college at a far lower cost.

Proving fraud isn’t easy for student borrowers.
Kurt O’Keefe, a Grosse Pointe Woods attorney who has a blog called “Discharge Student Loans,” says student borrowers would still face significant challenges under the new rules, if they want to try to get loans forgiven if they claim they were defrauded by the schools.

“Failing to deliver requisite skills and knowledge is a tough one to litigate,” O’Keefe says. “The schools will say the student just failed to learn.”

In addition, he noted that many who find themselves in such circumstances are from lower-income families and cannot afford to take legal action.

“A right that costs money to exercise, legal fees for your lawyer, does not help much when you are talking about people who cannot pay their loans to begin with,” O’Keefe says.

O’Keefe says the real problem is one that he refers to as “the triangle.”

“The schools get the money whether the student gets value or not, the government (usually) lends the money and chases the borrower for repayment. The schools have no skin in the game,” he says.

Part of the draft rules would allow the Department of Education to seek reimbursement for forgiven student loans from the institutions and that is good, he says.

“It would hurt scam schools and schools with scam programs, and could be used against any institution, public or private,” O’Keefe says.

Under a current regulation, borrowers with federal student loans might be able to get debt relief when they claim they were misled about the cost and quality of the education. It’s called the “Borrower Defense to Repayment” rule.

The Education Department notes students may be eligible for borrower defense regardless of whether your school closed or you are otherwise eligible for loan forgiveness under other laws.

Consumers with questions or pending claims regarding borrower defense may call the Department of Education’s hotline at 855-279-6207 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. As of January, the Department of Education has received 138,989 claims—and 23 percent had been processed. The bulk of the claims processed were associated with Corinthian and ITT.

New rules would save the government billions.
The proposed change in regulations would significantly limit the situations under which borrowers could qualify for financial relief, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of Research for Savingforcollege.com.

“The changes appear intended to primarily reduce costs to the federal government,” Kantrowitz says. “While the previous regulations may have been too permissive—allowing cancellation of debt based on just accusation of wrongdoing—the new regulations go too far in the opposite direction. As the lender, the federal government should have some responsibility to the borrower.”

It’s estimated that the new proposal could save the federal government nearly $13 billion over the next decade.

It’s a substantial savings, given that the Education Department had put a $14.9 billion price tag over the next decade for the program under the more-broadly defined regulations.

The new regulations would permit the U.S. Department of Education to provide partial relief instead of cancelling all of the borrower’s loans, depending on the level of harm suffered, he says.

Under the new rules, borrowers would need to prove that the college intended to defraud—a very difficult standard.

Also significant: Only borrowers already in default could apply for relief under the proposed rules. As a result, a borrower who was actively repaying the loans wouldn’t get help.

“This might lead some borrowers to intentionally default on their federal student loans,” Kantrowitz says.

Defaulting can seriously harm your credit score, and drive up borrowing costs when you want to take out a car loan, home mortgage or open up a credit card. A default will be reported to credit bureaus.

Most often, you do not want to go into default. If you default on student loans, you will be subject to collection charges and wage garnishment, and the government can seize your income tax refund, too.

©2018 Detroit Free Press
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Borrower Beware: Soon It Will Be Tough to Unload College Loans appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

What Are the Worst Invasive Plants—and How Can You Stop Them?

Invasive plants can ruin a perfectly functioning ecosystem, creating issues for years and potentially changing landscapes forever.

The key to controlling invasives is to be sure they don’t get where they don’t belong, according to The Nature Conservancy (nature.org).

The environmental nonprofit says that the best way to fight invasive species is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Every consumer can play a role in stopping the introduction and spread of invasive species.

The Conservancy says everyone can help protect native plants and animals by following these six easy guidelines:

  • Verify that the plants you’re buying for your yard or garden are not invasive. Replace invasive plants in your garden with non-invasive alternatives. Ask your local nursery staff for help in identifying invasive plants.
  • When boating, clean your boat thoroughly before transporting it to a different body of water.
  • Clean your boots before you hike in a new area to get rid of hitchhiking weed seeds and pathogens.
  • Don’t “pack a pest” when traveling. Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry pests or become invasive themselves. Don’t move firewood (it can harbor forest pests), clean your bags and boots after each hike, and throw out food before you travel from place to place.
  • Don’t release aquarium fish and plants, live bait or other exotic animals into the wild. If you plan to own an exotic pet, do your research and plan ahead to make sure you can commit to looking after it.
  • Volunteer at your local park, refuge or other wildlife area to help remove invasive species. Help educate others about the threat.

So what are some of the most invasive species? The Smithsonian says purple loosestrife is one of America’s most pervasive invasives. Purple loosestrife can become dominant in wetlands, producing as many as two million wind-dispersed seeds annually with underground stems growing at a rate of one foot per year.

Japanese honeysuckle is another aggressive vine prolific throughout much of the East Coast that smothers, shades and girdles other competing vegetation, the Smithsonian says.

In the Southeast, kudzu grows at a rate of up to one foot a day and 60 feet annually, smothering plants and killing trees by adding immense weight, girdling or toppling them.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post What Are the Worst Invasive Plants—and How Can You Stop Them? appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

Ask the Expert: How Can I Assist My Buyers in a Seller’s Market?

Thumbnail for 209758
Steward_Dan_132px

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: When guiding clients through the real estate process, how can I ensure that they’re prepared to find success when in the midst of a seller’s market?

A: Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® enjoys a leading position in its category. As such, we have nearly 600 franchisees performing thousands of home inspections, and we gather a myriad of great tips from them. Here are some of their best tips for making sure your buyers are prepared—and positioned to be the most attractive bidder in a competitive seller’s market.

  • If your client isn’t going to be a cash buyer, make sure they get a pre-approval for a mortgage before looking for homes in their price range.
  • When putting together an offer, it helps if there are no contingencies involved, such as waiting for the client’s home to sell first. In the event that multiple offers are involved, it pays to be flexible in many areas, including—but not limited to—move-in date.
  • Work with your client to determine what they really need in a home versus what they really want. If inventory is tight, they may need to compromise.
  • Show your client that you’re committed to being in their corner and take the time to educate them in regard to everything they need to know as they make their way through the process.
  • Encourage your client to act quickly, as they’re bound to run into others who will not hesitate to make a move in a competitive market.
  • Be sure your client has all their documentation ready in case of a quick close. It’s also important to make sure they know exactly what they need to have in order, should they encounter a tight timeline.
  • Line your client up with the most reputable home inspector you can find so that they’re ready for the inspection. While there’s typically a period that ranges from 7-10 days to complete the inspection, be sure to remind your client that the tighter market may have sellers expecting an even quicker turnaround.
  • A home inspection is a prospective buyer’s most powerful negotiation tool, as well as the most valuable insurance one can ever get on a property, which is why the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires a special form entitled “For Your Protection: Get a Home Inspection” with every contract. More often than not, there won’t be much to see on the inspection report, but if your client happens to write an offer on a home with an issue that needs to be addressed, you may save both yourself—and your client—a lot of heartache with this simple report.

For more information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Ask the Expert: How Can I Assist My Buyers in a Seller’s Market? appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

Disruptor Roundup: Divvy Takes on Rent-to-Own

Thumbnail for 209756
Dominguez_Liz_60x60_4c

Editor’s Note: The Disruptor Roundup analyzes companies implementing unconventional models.

Divvy
This tech-powered, rent-to-own platform was launched at the end of 2017, and provides consumers with the ability to transition from renting to homeownership with a three-year program that amasses a down payment within its required monthly payments. Currently available in Atlanta, Cleveland and Memphis, Divvy is looking to expand to other markets.

Divvy purchases homes on behalf of consumers. There are, however, restrictions. Divvy cannot purchase and lease condos, non-bank approved short sales, auction properties, manufactured or mobile homes, undeveloped lots, homes in pre- or mid-construction or properties with problematic conditions that require extensive maintenance.

How does the program work? Applicants must first be preapproved and undergo a thorough underwriting process that requires photo identification, tax returns, recent bank statements and a credit check. This process typically takes between 24 hours and three business days, according to the Divvy website.

In addition to rent, Divvy also charges “equity credits,” which make up about 25 percent of the monthly payment and are used as down payment funds at the end of the leasing period. Additionally, 5 percent of the monthly payments go toward maintenance funds, to be used for any home repairs, which applicants must address themselves, as Divvy does not function as a traditional landlord.

The qualifications? Candidates must:

  1. Have been employed for the last 12 months
  2. Have an average monthly income of at least $2,300 per month
  3. Be able to comfortably afford a Divvy monthly payment (rent, equity credits, maintenance funds)
  4. Have a credit score of at least 550
  5. Have had any bankruptcies discharged at least 12 months prior to applying
  6. Have at least $1,300 saved for a down payment

The cons? First, Divvy customers may only use partnered agents, which highly limits buyers. How are these agents chosen? Divvy does not provide guidelines on its website, and was not available for comment.

Additionally, while this incentivizes homeownership for prospective buyers who have trouble building up a down payment, the leasing program is more of a forced savings program in which they risk losing out on funds if they break the lease and choose not to purchase the home. Divvy will only refund 50 percent of the total dollars of equity credit if the three-year lease is broken, and, at closing, deducts 1.5 percent of the applicant’s equity credits in order to cover its own selling costs.

Buyers might also be wary of Divvy’s static home value projection, which estimates how much the property will be worth in three years. It can be difficult to ascertain whether buyers are truly leasing to buy at fair market value three years prior to the actual time of purchase.

As Divvy does not provide mortgage services, buyers will still need to be approved for a loan at the end of the lease period, which brings up additional questions regarding the home’s value and appraisal conditions. Divvy can report on-time rental payments to the credit bureaus during the three-year lease in order to help applicants who wish to increase their credit score before purchasing, improving their chances of being able to qualify for a home loan.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Disruptor Roundup: Divvy Takes on Rent-to-Own appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

Disruptor Roundup: Divvy Takes on Rent-to-Own

Thumbnail for 209754
Dominguez_Liz_60x60_4c

Editor’s Note: The Disruptor Roundup analyzes companies implementing unconventional models.

Divvy
This tech-powered, rent-to-own platform was launched at the end of 2017, and provides consumers with the ability to transition from renting to homeownership with a three-year program that amasses a down payment within its required monthly payments. Currently available in Atlanta, Cleveland and Memphis, Divvy is looking to expand to other markets.

Divvy purchases homes on behalf of consumers. There are, however, restrictions. Divvy cannot purchase and lease condos, non-bank approved short sales, auction properties, manufactured or mobile homes, undeveloped lots, homes in pre- or mid-construction or properties with problematic conditions that require extensive maintenance.

How does the program work? Applicants must first be preapproved and undergo a thorough underwriting process that requires photo identification, tax returns, recent bank statements and a credit check. This process typically takes between 24 hours and three business days, according to the Divvy website.

In addition to rent, Divvy also charges “equity credits,” which make up about 25 percent of the monthly payment and are used as down payment funds at the end of the leasing period. Additionally, 5 percent of the monthly payments go toward maintenance funds, to be used for any home repairs, which applicants must address themselves, as Divvy does not function as a traditional landlord.

The qualifications? Candidates must:

  1. Have been employed for the last 12 months
  2. Have an average monthly income of at least $2,300 per month
  3. Be able to comfortably afford a Divvy monthly payment (rent, equity credits, maintenance funds)
  4. Have a credit score of at least 550
  5. Have had any bankruptcies discharged at least 12 months prior to applying
  6. Have at least $1,300 saved for a down payment

The cons? First, Divvy customers may only use partnered agents, which highly limits buyers. How are these agents chosen? Divvy does not provide guidelines on its website, and was not available for comment.

Additionally, while this incentivizes homeownership for prospective buyers who have trouble building up a down payment, the leasing program is more of a forced savings program in which they risk losing out on funds if they break the lease and choose not to purchase the home. Divvy will only refund 50 percent of the total dollars of equity credit if the three-year lease is broken, and, at closing, deducts 1.5 percent of the applicant’s equity credits in order to cover its own selling costs.

Buyers might also be wary of Divvy’s static home value projection, which estimates how much the property will be worth in three years. It can be difficult to ascertain whether buyers are truly leasing to buy at fair market value three years prior to the actual time of purchase.

As Divvy does not provide mortgage services, buyers will still need to be approved for a loan at the end of the lease period, which brings up additional questions regarding the home’s value and appraisal conditions. Divvy can report on-time rental payments to the credit bureaus during the three-year lease in order to help applicants who wish to increase their credit score before purchasing, improving their chances of being able to qualify for a home loan.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Disruptor Roundup: Divvy Takes on Rent-to-Own appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

Experts Weigh In: Here’s When You Should Reach Key Financial Milestones

(TNS)—Maybe you have an idea of when you’d like to buy your first home or retire from the workforce—but just how realistic are your expectations?

We recently asked Americans to tell us the ideal ages for accomplishing certain financial goals. Then, we ran their responses by 10 certified financial planners living in different parts of the country.

Americans’ expectations overall were fairly realistic—but some experts argue that when it comes to hitting key milestones in life, age is arbitrary. What’s more important is whether you’re financially ready to make certain decisions, says Jennifer Faherty, founder of Financial Wealth-Being.

Getting Your First Credit Card
The ideal age to open a first credit card is 22, Americans say, but according to many financial planners, the sooner you start building credit, the better.

“I think 22 is a little late,” says Dana Twight, a certified financial planner based in Seattle. “I think you want to help your kids or your independent kids and support them in opening a card when they’re young enough to benefit from a parental safety net, if that’s possible.”

Parents who want to teach their children how to use credit cards responsibly at a young age can help them sign up for a secured credit card. These types of cards require you to make a cash deposit that becomes your credit line. With time, you should have the opportunity to trade in your secured card for a traditional, unsecured credit card.

Another option is to make a teenage child an authorized user on a parent’s account—but any mistakes that are made can impact the parent’s credit score.

Lucas Casarez, founder of Level Up Financial Planning in Fort Collins, Colo., used to help clients open their first credit cards when he worked at a credit union. Many of the people he helped were 18 and 19 years old. He sees nothing wrong with someone that age having a credit card, as long as they have someone showing them the right way to use it.

Quentara Costa has a different opinion. She’s seen too many college kids with credit cards getting themselves into trouble. Waiting until you’re 22 to open a credit card is a safer bet, says Costa, a certified financial planner in North Andover, Mass.

Waiting to Buy Your First Home
While there may be benefits to getting a credit card at a younger age, postponing the purchase of your first home may be advantageous.

Americans, on average, say 28 is the ideal age to become a homeowner, but many experts recommend waiting until you’re in your early 30s to take the plunge.

Once you graduate from college, Helen Ngo thinks it’s best to wait at least 10 years before buying a home. That way, you have a better idea of where you stand financially and whether you can take on a mortgage.

“At 28, to me that’s still a very young age,” says Ngo, CEO and founder of a financial planning practice in Atlanta. “I think those who are able to buy a home at 28 are married at that age and they have dual income to be able to afford a house at age 28.”

Unless you’re in a stable financial position and you have access to a lot of cash, it’s probably best to avoid buying a home until you’ve paid off your student loans, says John Piershale, a wealth adviser in Crystal Lake, Ill.

Homeownership Is a Long-Term Commitment
Generally, buying a home at any age isn’t a good idea if you’re not planning to stay there for at least five years. That’s particularly the case if your goal is to build home equity, Ngo says.

“If you’re purchasing a home, how much time are you going to live in there in order to get the actual equity value out of it? Unless you buy a fixer-upper and you put more money into it, and then you’re able to sell it real quick and you might make $100,000 extra out of it…but most people aren’t doing that,” Ngo says.

Even if homes seem affordable where you live, think beyond the cost of the mortgage when deciding whether to become a homeowner. Factor in the cost of property taxes, home repairs and unexpected expenses. Think about the costs involved with selling the home, too, like paying closing costs.

You’ll also want to consider market conditions. Percy Bolton, founder of a financial planning company in Pasadena, Calif., says he wouldn’t buy a home right now because it’s a seller’s market.

“You don’t ever buy in a market like this. You wait,” Bolton says. “If I was advising a client right now, it’s cheaper to rent.”

Saving for Retirement
Americans say the ideal age to start saving for retirement is 22. According to the financial planners we polled, it’s best to start saving as early as possible. The average age the experts suggested was 21.

Costa says it’s important to start saving money at a young age, but starting to save for retirement as a teenager isn’t necessary.

“When you’re younger, you do need to save for things like a car and a down payment and college,” says Costa, founder of a company called Powwow. “I think there’s plenty of time to catch up. I’ve seen plenty of people turn the corner where they haven’t had much savings because they’ve had all these milestones and at 40 they’re finally able to get serious about retirement and they’re fine.”

Lauryn Williams, a four-time Olympian who founded her own financial planning company, says you can start saving as early as age 19 in a Roth IRA. The stereotype of the broke college student is misleading, she says. Even college kids have money that they could be saving.

“Once you get in college, that first year get settled, but then also get saving,” Williams says. “Automate that saving from the very beginning, create that habit and you’ll finish college with a little nest egg for yourself and a little nest egg for retirement.”

Another recent Bankrate survey found that millennials prefer cash over stocks, but when it comes to preparing for the future, having mostly cash investments will ultimately cost you.

“A far as long-term savings, that’s not a viable strategy to me,” says Donovan Brooks, a certified financial planner in Saint Joseph, Mo. “Based on probably the retirement lifestyle that they have in their mind, cash likely isn’t going to get them to where they need to be long-term, unless they have a large income and they’re putting away a ton of money and they envision a very minimal, inexpensive retirement lifestyle.”

The Ideal Age to Retire
Americans say the ideal retirement age is 61, but the financial planners we surveyed agreed that retiring at 61 wasn’t realistic for most people. What’s more, the way people think about retirement is changing.

“I think if you redefine what retirement means, you can retire at different stages in your life,” says Ngo, founder of Capital Benchmark Partners.

Ed Leach, a certified financial planner in Wayne, N.J., says he has clients who are executives and business owners. They sell their businesses and “semi-retire” by doing consulting work.

Other financial experts say their clients are retiring later by choice. Sixty percent of her clients would list 70 as their ideal retirement age, Williams says. If you love what you do, you don’t have to stop working.

Working until you’re 70 or 80 may be more possible today than in the past now that more people today have white-collar jobs, Leach says.

“As we become less of a manufacturing, production-type of country, and jobs transition into more of, ‘Hey, I can work from home and do computer coding,’ I can do that until I’m 80 years old if my mind allows me to do it.”

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Experts Weigh In: Here’s When You Should Reach Key Financial Milestones appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

Challenged by a Down Payment? The Easiest Markets to Save For

Thumbnail for 209751
DeVita_Suzanne_60x60

One of the biggest challenges for first-time homebuyers is saving.

Coming up with a down payment is a hurdle for the majority of millennials, shows study after study—but, there are areas where the average earnings are enough to save sufficiently, according to an analysis recently released by RealEstate.com. The easiest market? Chicago, where the average first-timer can save 20 percent for a starter in just over three years.

1. Chicago, Ill.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $50,500
Annual Millennial Savings: $10,821
Median Starter Value: $177,300
Down Payment (20%): $35,460
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 3 months

2. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $50,600
Annual Millennial Savings: $10,843
Median Starter Value: $185,400
Down Payment (20%): $37,080
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 5 months

3. Detroit, Mich.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $43,100
Annual Millennial Savings: $5,388
Median Starter Value: $96,700
Down Payment (20%): $19,340
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 7 months

4. Baltimore, Md.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $54,300
Annual Millennial Savings: $11,636
Median Starter Value: $214,000
Down Payment (20%): $42,800
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 8 months

5. Indianapolis, Ind.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $39,400
Annual Millennial Savings: $6,567
Median Starter Value: $122,500
Down Payment (20%): $24,500
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 9 months

6. Pittsburgh, Pa.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $41,700
Annual Millennial Savings: $5,212
Median Starter Value: $103,600
Down Payment (20%): $20,720
Savings Timeline: 4 years

7. Cleveland, Ohio
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $42,900
Annual Millennial Savings: $5,362
Median Starter Value: $109,600
Down Payment (20%): $21,920
Savings Timeline: 4 years, 1 month

8. St. Louis, Mo.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $43,200
Annual Millennial Savings: $5,400
Median Starter Value: $119,900
Down Payment (20%): $23,980
Savings Timeline: 4 years, 5 months

9. Austin, Texas
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $50,700
Annual Millennial Savings: $10,864
Median Starter Value: $249,700
Down Payment (20%): $49,940
Savings Timeline: 4 years, 7 months

10. Washington, D.C.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $67,900
Annual Millennial Savings: $14,550
Median Starter Value: $343,000
Down Payment (20%): $68,600
Savings Timeline: 4 years, 9 months

The analysis factored in first-time homebuyers’ household income (median), plus the cost of a down payment on a median starter. (Twenty percent is ideal, but not a requirement.)

“Contrary to popular belief, millennials want to buy homes, but high home prices, low inventory and stagnant wage growth are some of the many factors that may be driving would-be buyers into delaying homeownership,” says Justin LaJoie, general manager of RealEstate.com. “However, in certain U.S. housing markets first-time buyers can find some relief; they just need to know where to look.”

RealEstate.com is part of Zillow Group.

For more information, please visit RealEstate.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Challenged by a Down Payment? The Easiest Markets to Save For appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →

Challenged by a Down Payment? The Easiest Markets to Save For

Thumbnail for 209749
DeVita_Suzanne_60x60

One of the biggest challenges for first-time homebuyers is saving.

Coming up with a down payment is a hurdle for the majority of millennials, shows study after study—but, there are areas where the average earnings are enough to save sufficiently, according to an analysis recently released by RealEstate.com. The easiest market? Chicago, where the average first-timer can save 20 percent for a starter in just over three years.

1. Chicago, Ill.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $50,500
Annual Millennial Savings: $10,821
Median Starter Value: $177,300
Down Payment (20%): $35,460
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 3 months

2. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $50,600
Annual Millennial Savings: $10,843
Median Starter Value: $185,400
Down Payment (20%): $37,080
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 5 months

3. Detroit, Mich.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $43,100
Annual Millennial Savings: $5,388
Median Starter Value: $96,700
Down Payment (20%): $19,340
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 7 months

4. Baltimore, Md.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $54,300
Annual Millennial Savings: $11,636
Median Starter Value: $214,000
Down Payment (20%): $42,800
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 8 months

5. Indianapolis, Ind.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $39,400
Annual Millennial Savings: $6,567
Median Starter Value: $122,500
Down Payment (20%): $24,500
Savings Timeline: 3 years, 9 months

6. Pittsburgh, Pa.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $41,700
Annual Millennial Savings: $5,212
Median Starter Value: $103,600
Down Payment (20%): $20,720
Savings Timeline: 4 years

7. Cleveland, Ohio
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $42,900
Annual Millennial Savings: $5,362
Median Starter Value: $109,600
Down Payment (20%): $21,920
Savings Timeline: 4 years, 1 month

8. St. Louis, Mo.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $43,200
Annual Millennial Savings: $5,400
Median Starter Value: $119,900
Down Payment (20%): $23,980
Savings Timeline: 4 years, 5 months

9. Austin, Texas
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $50,700
Annual Millennial Savings: $10,864
Median Starter Value: $249,700
Down Payment (20%): $49,940
Savings Timeline: 4 years, 7 months

10. Washington, D.C.
Annual Household Income for Millennials: $67,900
Annual Millennial Savings: $14,550
Median Starter Value: $343,000
Down Payment (20%): $68,600
Savings Timeline: 4 years, 9 months

The analysis factored in first-time homebuyers’ household income (median), plus the cost of a down payment on a median starter. (Twenty percent is ideal, but not a requirement.)

“Contrary to popular belief, millennials want to buy homes, but high home prices, low inventory and stagnant wage growth are some of the many factors that may be driving would-be buyers into delaying homeownership,” says Justin LaJoie, general manager of RealEstate.com. “However, in certain U.S. housing markets first-time buyers can find some relief; they just need to know where to look.”

RealEstate.com is part of Zillow Group.

For more information, please visit RealEstate.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Challenged by a Down Payment? The Easiest Markets to Save For appeared first on RISMedia.

Continue Reading →