Archive for the ‘ Loans ’ Category

Make the Most of Your Home’s Equity.


BEST WAYS TO USE A HOME EQUITY LOAN OR LINE OF CREDIT

As you continue to navigate through these unusual times, it could be the perfect time to tap into your home’s equity. You start building equity in your home with your down payment and your first mortgage payment.  Over time, you continue to build your home’s equity, which you can use to finance a variety of needs during these tough times. These funds can be used to finance several different things, such as home improvement projects, college and school expenses, debt consolidation, significant events like weddings and more. 

HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Spring is finally here and it’s the perfect time to tackle those spring projects!  Have you been wanting to spruce up your back yard or put in a pool?  Many of us now have extra time at home, so tap into your home’s equity and turn those dreams into reality.   Home equity loans and lines of credit are great ways to finance outdoor projects, kitchen remodels, renovations and other home improvements. 

COLLEGE AND SCHOOL EXPENSES

Do you have a child or family member headed off to college?  Are you worried about how to pay for it?  Home equity loans and lines of credit can be great alternatives to student loans.  Student loans can sometimes have higher interest rates than home equity loans and lines of credit.  These uncertain times may have you worried about your finances, but don’t stress.  Take a look at where your home’s equity could take your education funding.

DEBT CONSOLIDATION

Another great use for a home equity loan or line of credit is consolidating any high-interest debt you may have.  This will allow you to condense many monthly payments into one simple payment.  A home equity loan or line of credit may also have a lower interest rate than that of your credit cards and other loan options.  Tackling debt can be overwhelming but consolidating debt with a home equity loan may be the right solution for you.

LIFE EVENTS

Planning a major life event like a wedding or expecting a new baby?  Home equity loans and lines of credit are great ways to fund these sorts of milestones.  Take advantage of the equity you have built up in your home and use it to finance the wedding or nursery of your dreams!

What Costs to Expect When Selling Your Home


Just as with buying a home, selling also comes with its share of dues. You need to prepare your home for prospective buyers as well as pay part of the closing costs, which average around 3% of the home price. Here’s a breakdown of the types of costs you can expect.

Home repairs and inspections: Before the sale, you’ll probably want to fix up carpet stains, window cracks or other home features that have suffered minor damage over time. You also might decide to pay for an inspection for termites or other pests to avoid any unpleasant experience for prospective buyers checking the home.

Staging: To impress buyers, hiring a professional home decorator or stager can help you organize and make your home more appealing. You might also get higher bids on the home this way.

Settlement company fees: If you decide to use a third-party settlement company to ensure all documents and procedures between you and the buyer are correct, you pay the company for your portion of the closing costs and potentially an administrative cost. In return, the company will pay off your mortgage and those closing fees to the lender.

Real estate commission: Generally, you have to pay for the real estate fees for both your agent and the buyer’s agent. The cost can be negotiated, but it typically ranges between 5% and 7% of the home price, split between agents. The money goes to the agents’ brokerages, who will then pay them. This commission can be one of your biggest expenses.

Attorney fees: Lawyers can be certified as real property specialists and in some states might be required to help close a home sale.

Property taxes: Ideally, the buyer and seller pay their respective shares of the property taxes for when they lived in the home that year. Depending on when you sell, you might pay all taxes for that year and have the buyer reimburse you for the time he started living there. Additionally, if your home increased in value more than a certain amount, you might have to pay a capital gains tax.

Seller’s concession: If the buyer is having trouble paying for some of the closing costs, the seller can agree to pay a percentage of them. In exchange, that amount can be added into the home price the buyer pays.

Title search: Although the title search is generally the buyer’s responsibility, you might decide to pay for it as part of the deal. The title search involves a professional reviewing public records to confirm you own the property that you’re selling and that no unpaid dues interfere with your title of ownership.

Lien releases: From the title search, you might discover that some debt hasn’t been paid. If you owe any taxes, contractor costs, utilities or other bills on your home, you’ll receive a lien, or a record of any unpaid amount on your home. You must pay it off to clear your title and be able to sell your home.

Owner’s title insurance: If the title search misses something, a lien remains unpaid or the seller doesn’t actually own the property, this insurance protects the buyer from any financial loss. The seller generally pays for this.

Home warranty: As part of the negotiation with the buyer, you might decide to pay for a one-year protection plan on the buyer’s behalf. This will cover certain repair costs if needed. Knowing the possible costs when selling your home can keep the process straightforward. Despite being potentially expensive and time-consuming, selling at a good price and without complications can save you time and energy.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. For more information about buying a home, visit our Mortgage Services website.

How to Tell You’re Ready to Buy a House


Making the decision to become a homeowner is emotionally and financially complex. Here are some key things to ask yourself if you’re considering whether buying is right for you.

Do you have a good reason to buy?

Sometimes switching from renting to buying is a no-brainer.  Maybe you live in a modern one-bedroom apartment in a chic part of town, but you have a baby on the way. If you want a place in a good school district, with more square footage and a yard, buying may well be your best bet.

Other times, the urge to buy is driven by emotion: You see a house you like and you “just know.” There’s nothing wrong with that reaction, but take time to check out the property before you make any commitments. If it’s too far from work, near a noisy road or the best house on a bad block, it may not be as good a deal as it first appears.

And remember: Houses go on the market all the time, and there are tens of millions of single-family homes and condos in the U.S., so there’s no need to worry if your first choice doesn’t work out; your home is out there.

Can you make the upfront investment?

Buying a home requires an initial investment that you can’t ignore.

First, many lenders require a down payment of 20% of the home price. That’s $54,000 for a home that costs $270,000, about the median price in America. You’ll also owe closing costs, which could include loan-origination fees, discount points, appraisal fees, survey fees, underwriting fees, title search fees, and title insurance. Those could total another few thousand dollars.

The expenses don’t end there. You’ll want to hire an independent inspector to look for defects in a home before you buy.  This will cost several hundred dollars, but could save you thousands in repairs. And then there are moving costs, state or city taxes, utilities installation and the costs of changes you might want to make to the home — such as new flooring or painting — that are easiest to do while it’s empty.

This isn’t meant to scare you off; buying a home is still a smart choice for many people, despite the costs. But it does take a lot of cash.

Can you afford the upkeep?

Your mortgage payment might be fixed for the next 30 years, but your property taxes and insurance rates can rise. And if you didn’t make a 20% down payment, you’ll have to buy private mortgage insurance, or PMI, until you have 20% equity in your home.

Once you’re a homeowner, you’ll also have to pay certain utility bills that might have been included in your rent. And you’ll be responsible for maintenance: double-pane windows one year, a new garage door the next, fixes to the roof five years up the road. It adds up.

These numbers are based on averages.  Plug your specific figures into a rent-or-buy calculator to find out if you’re ready for home-ownership. And know that there is no one answer that’s right for everybody. Whether you keep renting or buy, your decision should be right for you alone.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. For more information about buying a home, visit our Mortgage Services website.

4 Things to Do Before Buying a Home


As exciting as it is to buy a home, the lead-up can be a dizzying experience, especially for first-time buyers. But don’t fret. Breaking down the process into smaller steps can help ease your anxieties. Here’s a look at the kinds of questions you’ll want to ask yourself, as well as a few other practical tips.

Judge readiness for responsibility

Although the thought of home-ownership is generally a pleasant one, the reality can be much more stressful. That’s why it’s crucial to ask yourself whether you’re really ready for the hassles of buying and owning a home. Gone will be the days when you could simply call the landlord to fix a leaky faucet. Those chores will become your responsibility once you own your castle.

You’ll also want to think about how long you plan on living in the home you’re interested in, which will help determine the best mortgage for you. A fixed rate loan offers predictability: Once you take out your mortgage, your monthly payment will not change until you pay off the loan or refinance. An adjustable rate mortgage typically offers a lower starting interest rate if you plan to sell in a few years.

Determine what you can afford

Use a mortgage calculator to figure out how much home you can afford. It’s one of the most important steps to take. To start, think about your down payment, as well as the transaction costs. Although experts recommend having 20% of the price for a down payment, you may be able to put down as little as 3%, assuming your credit score is good and you’re willing to accept a higher interest rate and pay for private mortgage insurance, or PMI. To give you a better sense of what you might owe, consider that the median sales price of an existing home was about $270,000 in 2018. So 20% down amounts to $54,000.

Don’t forget the transaction costs, which can amount to 5% of the price, to cover things such as appraisal, title search and lawyer’s fees. When coming up with a home-ownership budget, factor in the monthly mortgage payment, maintenance costs and energy bills.

Clean up your credit

If you’re applying for a mortgage, you’ll want to clean up your credit to get the best possible interest rate on your loan. To lock in the best ones, shoot for a credit score of 700 or above. Over the course of a 30-year mortgage, higher rates stemming from a low rating when you borrowed can cost you thousands of extra dollars.

For starters, reduce your debt as much as possible. That includes slashing your credit card debt as well as any remaining student loans. To see what else needs fixing, order a copy of your credit report.

Stick with your current job

Financial planners agree that people should spend 28% or less of their gross monthly income on housing payments. The key to that, of course, is having a job. If you’re in between work, lenders are likely to view you as a greater risk when it comes to making mortgage payments. As such, the months leading up to purchasing a home are definitely not the time to make a sudden job or career change.

There’s little denying that the process of buying a home can be stressful. In fact, that may serve as good preparation for some of the hassles related to actually owning a home. In both cases, though, the benefits of home-ownership tend to outweigh the occasional headaches.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. For more information about buying a home, visit our Mortgage Services website.

Is Fall the Best Time to Buy a House?


Sometimes it’s smarter to buy certain items according to the season, like sweaters near the end of winter and swimsuits in late summer. But what’s the best season for buying a house?

The answer: the fall. As temperatures cool and trees shed their leaves, enough factors break in the buyer’s favor to make it the No. 1 season for home-buying. Here’s why.

Less competition

Many home-buyers are families who want to minimize a move’s effect on their kids’ schooling. They want them to start at a new school on the first day, not midyear. And so if their spring and summer searching didn’t work out, they might well wait for the next go-round. This means fewer buyers bidding on the same houses you’re interested in and more negotiating power when you do.

Of course, this works both ways: Sellers might not want to uproot their families in the middle of the school year either. But while this brings housing inventory down, you might just find it easier to focus and pinpoint exactly what you really want in a home.

Sellers are more motivated

Spring and summer are the high seasons for home-buying: Days are longer, the weather’s nice, and open houses are well-attended. And that means sellers can sit back and be a bit choosier with offers.

But as Labor Day recedes in the rear-view mirror, sellers start to wriggle in their seats. The prospect of trying to sell during the holiday season or, more likely, waiting until the next year, is dispiriting. And so these sellers can become, in a sense, settlers — willing to reduce their prices and conditions. There is some variation by region, but overall in the U.S., prices have peaked by the end of August.

Buyers can use this increased motivation to their advantage, offering less and asking for more during negotiations.

Taxes and discounts

Buying a home costs a lot of money but comes with good tax breaks as well. The IRS allows deductions for the interest you pay on your mortgage, on the premiums you might pay for mortgage insurance, on property taxes and more, including some of these that went into your closing costs. Buying a home in the fall means seeing those tax breaks sooner, the following April.

Also, much like those motivated sellers, many homebuilders discount their inventories during this time of year to help them meet year-end sales goals.

The decision to buy requires serious consideration of where you are in life, what your goals are and how much you can afford. But if you are indeed ready, buying during the fall can be a good call. Just try to find time in between football games.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. For more information about buying a home, visit our Mortgage Services website.

Home Repairs. Vacation Oasis. College Tuition


With a Home Equity Loan, anything is possible!

At this very moment, there is something you need. If you’ve built up the equity in your home, you have just what you need to pay for those major purchases.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Repairing your home
  • Remodeling your home
  • Going green
  • Consolidating your debt
  • Paying for education
  • Purchasing a new car
  • Living your dreams

A Home Equity Loan is a fixed-rate loan based on the difference between your home’s equity and current market value. You’ll get your money all at once and then pay it back in predictable, fixed monthly payments.

Your home equity loan may be eligible for tax-deductible interest. You can use your loan to finance purchases or consolidate existing debts while retaining tax deductible status for the interest you’ve paid on your loan. Please consult your tax advisor.

Learn more about our Home Equity Loans and check out our rates now!

To apply now, click here. Or you may stop into any branch to apply.

 

 

Lose Some Debt Weight in 2015


So many bills!

 

Do you have multiple department store or gas cards that you never use? Do you pay annual fees for cards that never see the light of day?  Maybe it’s time to clean out your wallet and lose a little debt weight this year. Here are some tips:

PAY. If you have numerous credit card balances, tackle the one with the highest interest rate first and pay the minimum amount required on all of your other balances. When that one
is paid off, consider rolling that amount into the next highest credit card balance (old amount plus the minimum payment required).

TRANSFER. Consider transferring your higher rate credit card balances and loans to a Members 1st VISA®, which could save you money! Take advantage of our 1.90% APR VISA® Balance Transfer option. Call (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040, visit a branch or log into Members 1st Online » Card Services » VISA® Balance Transfer. This offer is available on balance transfers received through June 30, 2015.*

CHOOSE. Figure out which card you’ve had for the longest amount of time. Make sure to keep this card open, since lenders often see borrowers with short credit histories to be riskier than those with long credit histories. Determine one or two cards to utilize regularly and leave the rest at home. If you have a card that has a low-interest rate or offers rewards, it may be best to keep it open. It’s alright to close those credit cards that you’re no longer using, as long as they don’t have balances and you have other cards.

FOLLOW UP. If you choose to close a credit card, make sure to send a letter to the issuer sharing your decision. Double check your credit report to see if the card is reported as “closed.”

*The 1.90% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on Balance Transfers using the specific form or online submission is a “Discounted” rate that will be in effect from the time of the posting of the balance transfer to your card account for six consecutive billing cycles afterwards, which will be considered the promotional period expiration date of that specific balance transfer. After the expiration of your “Discounted” rate the remaining unpaid portion of the original balance transfer request will be subject to your normal APR as outlined on your monthly statement based on the specific Members 1st FCU credit card selected. Consumer Cards (Business Cards are ineligible) may have up to 10 individual balance transfers open at any given time period. If you default through becoming 60 days or more delinquent we may increase your APR on the balance transfer and other balance amounts as defined within the cardholder agreement and disclosure, which is provided upon card issuance and available online at http://www.members1st.org. All payments received on your account in excess of your minimum payment requirement will be applied first  to the highest rate balances, secondly to the lowest rate balances and finally  to new purchases. All rates are effective as of January 1, 2015 and this offer may be withdrawn at any time. Other restrictions or conditions may apply. You may not pay off your current Members 1st loans or lines of credit by using this balance transfer option. For current rates, fees and other cost information, please reference the Visa Balance Transfer disclosure or contact the Members 1st FCU Card Services Group at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6035. We do business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law and Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

 

Visit us at the PA Auto Show!


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Heading to the PA Auto Show at the PA Farm Show Complex this weekend? Stop by our booth (M24 in the main hall) and ask us how we may be able to help you get pre-approved for a new ride with our Auto Shopper Loan.* It’s so much easier to shop when you know what you can afford. Make sure to enter to win a snow blower and a $200 VISA® Gift Card, too!

*Rates based on model year. Lock in your rate for 90 days until  you make a decision. Ask an associate for details.

How Can You Help Your Credit Score?


Stressed man with bills

Think of your credit report as your financial resume. It says a lot about you and how you manage your money. It’s a summary of all of your debts – those you’re currently paying on, those you’ve paid off and it shows payment history, debt amounts and more. It’s your ticket to being approved for a loan or being denied. It determines how much interest you pay when it comes to the amount of money you want to borrow.  Maybe you’ve had some financial issues due to job loss, illness, or maybe you simply developed some bad financial habits like having too much money going out for bills and not enough money coming in.

Whatever your situation is, there’s always a way to help improve your credit score. May we suggest:

Pay your bills on time. This is pretty much a no-brainer. If a situation comes up and you know you’re going to be late with a payment or can’t make it in full, pay something and/or call the creditor to work out an alternative payment arrangement and make sure it’s noted in your account. Consider using an online bill pay system to help you schedule payments.

Credit card usage. Use them lightly. Just because you have a $5,000 limit, doesn’t mean you need to go on a charging spree. Use less than 30 percent of your total available credit.

Pay off your installment loans  (mortgage, auto, student, etc.).  This can help your scores but typically not as dramatically as paying down — or paying off — revolving accounts (think about all of those store credit cards you signed up for to take advantage of that point-of-sale discount) and other credit cards.

Lenders like to see a big gap between the amount of credit you’re using and your available credit limits. Getting your balances below 30% of the credit limit on each card can really help; getting balances below 10% is even better. Pay off  your highest-rate card(s)/loans first and then put those payments towards other debts such as credit cards that  are really close to their limits.

Pay more. Anytime you can pay more than the minimum payment, do it. You’ll end up paying less interest in the long run. Remember, every little bit helps.

Lines of credit. Too many open lines of credit, whether or not you’re using them, may send a red flag up the pole to potential lenders.

Balance. Maintain a good balance of credit between your installment loans (car loans) and credit cards.

Old credit is good.  If you have charge cards you haven’t used in a while or have paid off, but still have open lines of credit, use them once in a while and pay them off in full each month.

Check your credit report. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Go there, order up your credit report, grab a cup of coffee and take a good, long hard look at it. Make sure you get it from all three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Dispute any discrepancies you may find. You don’t necessarily need to correct accounts you closed listed as being open or accounts you closed that don’t say “closed by consumer.” Closing an account may hurt your scores. If your goal is improving your scores, leave these alone.

Pay attention to significant errors. Sometimes life deals us a bad hand – you have financial issues due to job loss, medical issues, divorce, gambling problems, and so on. If you have any of the following on your credit report, it is worth your effort to correct these issues sooner rather than later:

  • Late payments, charge-offs, collections or other negative items that aren’t yours.
  • Credit limits reported as lower than they actually are.
  • Accounts listed as “settled,” “paid derogatory,” “paid charge-off” or anything other than “current” or “paid as agreed” if you paid on time and in full.
  • Accounts that are still listed as unpaid that were included in a bankruptcy.
  • Negative items older than seven years (10 in the case of bankruptcy) that should have automatically fallen off your reports.

Additional resources:

Members 1st FCU offers free access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath, a financial management program. Through comprehensive education and exceptional service, GreenPath has been assisting individuals for more than 50 years. As a member, you can receive assistance with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession

NerdWallet

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