FHA vs. Conventional Loans: Which Is Better?

When it comes to affording a new home, you have a few types of home loans to choose from. Prospective homebuyers often compare the FHA vs. the conventional loan when researching loans. Each loan type has certain stereotypes associated with them, but we are here to give you the facts about both FHA and conventional loans. This post will help you understand what each loan is, familiarize you with the differences between them, and provide some guidelines for how to pick which one is best for you.

What Is An FHA Loan?

An FHA loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These loans are issued by private lenders, but lenders are protected from losses by the FHA if the homeowner fails to repay. FHA loans are generally used to refinance or buy a home.

What Is A Conventional Loan?

A conventional loan is supplied by a private lender and isn’t federally insured. Requirements for obtaining a conventional loan vary depending on the lender. When used to buy property, conventional loans are typically known as mortgages.

What Is A Conventional Loan?

Differences Between FHA and Conventional Loans

The main difference between FHA and conventional loans is whether or not they are insured by the federal government. Conventional loans aren’t federally backed, so it’s riskier for the lender to loan money. On the other hand, FHA loans are protected by the government, and as a result of less risk, they can typically offer better deals.

This difference in federal insurance is the reason why FHA and conventional loans vary when it comes to the details of the loan. Keep reading to learn the differences regarding credit requirements, minimum down payments, debt-to-income ratios, loan limits, mortgage insurance, and closing costs.

FHA Loan Conventional Loan
Minimum Credit Score 500 620
Minimum Down Payment 3.5% 3%
Maximum Debt-to-Income Ratio Credit score of 500: 43%
Credit score of 580+: 43-50%
Credit score of 620: 33-36%
Credit score of 740+: 36-45%
Loan Limits Low-cost counties: $356,362
High-cost counties: $822,375
Contiguous US: $548,250
High-cost counties, AK, HI, and US territories: $822,375
Mortgage Insurance Mortgage insurance premiums required. Private mortgage insurance required with down payments less than 20%.
Property Standards Stricter standards, property purchased must be a primary residence. Flexible standards, property purchased doesn’t have to be a primary residence.

Sources: FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook | Fannie Mae 1 2 | Federal Housing Finance Agency | Freddie Mac | HUD 1 2 | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 1 2

Credit Score

Your credit score is a determining factor in your loan eligibility. Your credit score is measured on a scale of 300 (poor credit) to 850 (excellent credit). Good credit helps you get approved for loans more easily and at better rates. FHA and conventional loans differ in their credit score requirements and represent financial options for individuals at either end of the credit spectrum.

Minimum Credit Score for FHA Loan: 500

  • Accepts a credit score as low as 500, but usually with a 10% down payment
  • These loans accept lower credit scores because they are insured
  • Note: Some lenders may only issue FHA loans with higher credit scores

Minimum Credit Score for Conventional Loan: 620

  • Accepted score may vary from lender to lender
  • These loans are usually offered to individuals with strong credit because they present less risk to lenders

Minimum Down Payment

A down payment is the sum of money that is paid as a percentage of your purchase up-front.

Minimum Down Payment on an FHA loan:

  • 10% of your purchase with 500 credit score
  • 3.5% of your purchase with 580+ credit score

Minimum Down Payment on a Conventional Loan:

  • 3% of your purchase can be put down with good credit
  • 5% to 20% of your purchase price is typical

Debt-to-Income Ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio is the amount of money paid toward debt each month divided by your total monthly income. To be eligible for a loan, you must be at or below the maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

Maximum DTI Ratio Guidelines for FHA loans:

  • 43% with a credit score of 500
  • 43–50% with a credit score of 580

Maximum DTI Ratio Guidelines For Conventional Loans:

  • 33-36% with a credit score lower than 740
  • 36-45% with a credit score of 740 or higher
  • 50% highest allowed through Fannie Mae

Loan Limits

Both FHA and conventional loans have limits on the amount that you can borrow. Loan limits vary based on your location and the year your loan is borrowed. Find 2021 loan limits specific to your county through the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

2021 FHA Loan Limits

  • High-cost counties: $822,375
  • Low-cost counties: $356,362

2021 Conventional Loan Limits

  • Contiguous US (excluding high-cost counties): $548,250
  • Alaska, Hawaii, US territories, and high-cost counties: $822,375

Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage insurance is taken out to protect the lender from losses in case you fail to repay your loan. Whether you will pay private mortgage insurance or mortgage insurance premiums is based on your loan type and down payment percentage.

FHA Loan

  • Mortgage insurance is required for all FHA loans.
  • It is paid to the FHA in the form of mortgage insurance premiums and includes an up-front and monthly premium.
  • MIP payments last the entire life of your FHA loan.
  • To get rid of MIPs after paying 20% of your loan, you can choose to refinance into a conventional loan.

Conventional Loan

  • Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is only required when a down payment below 20% is made.
  • PMI comes in different forms: monthly premium, up-front premium, and split premiums.
  • PMI requirements stop once you have met one of three requirements:
    1. Principal loan amount is reduced to 80% before the loan term ends.
    2. At least 78% of the principal balance is scheduled to be paid down.
    3. The halfway point of your loan term has passed.

Property Standards

There are different property standards that must be met to use each loan. FHA loans have stricter requirements, while conventional loans have more flexibility.

FHA Loan

  • Property purchased with FHA loans must be your principal residence, meaning the borrower has to occupy the residence
  • FHA loans can’t be used to invest in property (e.g., renting out or flipping)
  • Title must be in the borrower’s name or name of a living trust

Conventional Loan

  • Property purchased with a conventional loan doesn’t have to be a principal residence — second or third residences are allowed
  • Conventional loans can be used to purchase investment properties

Pros and Cons of FHA vs. Conventional Loans

As a result of the various differences between FHA and conventional loans, each type has its respective pros and cons.

FHA Loan

Conventional Loan

Pros

  • Qualify with low credit and high DTI
  • Smaller down payments overall
  • More affordable with low credit
  • Lowest option for down payments with good credit
  • PMI cancellable
  • More affordable with good credit
  • Property doesn’t have to be your main home

Cons

  • Mortgage insurance premiums required for life of loan
  • Property purchased must be your main home
  • Need higher credit and lower DTI to qualify
  • Typically has larger down payments
  • PMI required with a down payment less than 20%

Pros and Cons of FHA Loans

FHA loans are government-regulated and insured to extend flexible opportunities for homeownership. They’re flexible regarding credit and DTI, but stricter about insurance and property standards.

Pros

  • Flexible qualification with low credit and high DTI
  • Smaller down payments overall
  • More affordable with low credit

Cons

  • Mortgage insurance premiums required for life of loan
  • Property purchased must be your primary residence

Pros and Cons of Conventional Loans

Conventional loans can also offer flexibility, but generally only if you have good credit and demonstrate reduced risk to the lender. These loans have stricter qualifications, but flexibility in other areas.

Pros

  • Lowest option for down payments (3% with good credit)
  • Private mortgage insurance can be canceled (must meet requirements)
  • More affordable with good credit
  • Property purchased doesn’t have to be a primary residence

Cons

  • Strict qualifications require higher credit and lower DTI
  • Larger down payments are typical
  • Private mortgage insurance required with a down payment less than 20%

Which Loan Is Better For You?

Both FHA and conventional loans have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some general guidelines for when to use an FHA loan or a conventional loan.

When To Use an FHA Loan

  • You have a low credit score (500–619)
  • Your DTI ratio is on the higher side (between 45–50%)
  • You can only afford a small down payment
  • You plan to use the property as your primary residence

When To Use an FHA Loan

When To Use a Conventional Loan

  • Your credit score is fairly good (620 or above)
  • Your DTI ratio is on the lower side (33–36%)
  • You can afford a larger down payment
  • You want flexibility with insurance and repaying your loan

When To Use a Conventional Loan

It’s important to thoroughly research your options before choosing a loan. A key takeaway when comparing FHA vs. conventional loans is that FHA loans are federally insured and conventional loans aren’t. This distinction results in different qualification and payment requirements for each loan.

Use the information in this post to carefully compare the differences in accepted credit scores, minimum down payments, loan limits, maximum debt-to-income ratios, mortgage insurance and property standards. In doing so, choose the loan that works for your circumstances and helps you best afford the home of your dreams.

Sources: FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook | US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development | Federal Housing Finance Agency | Freddie Mac

The post FHA vs. Conventional Loans: Which Is Better? appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Mortgage Rates vs. Fed Announcements

File this one under “no correlation,” despite a flood of news articles claiming the Fed’s rate cut directly impacts mortgage rates. Today, the Fed cut the federal funds rate by half a percentage point to a range of 1-1.25% due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, this despite a strong U.S. economy. That sent mortgage [&hellip

The post Mortgage Rates vs. Fed Announcements first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Prenup vs Postnup: What is the Difference?

couple on couch with laptop

They’re certainly not as romantic to discuss as your dream house or your honeymoon, but prenups and postnups can be a financial lifesaver in the event your marriage does come to an end.

Both prenups and postnups are about figuring out who gets what if you and your spouse get divorced.

But these two types of agreements have some important distinctions, and circumstances may make one better suited to your relationship than the other.

Here are some key things it can be helpful to understand about prenups vs. postnups, plus how to decide if you and your significant other might benefit from getting one.

What is a Prenup?

Short for “prenuptial agreement,” a prenup is a legally binding document set up before a couple gets married — hence the “pre” suffix.

These contracts typically list each party’s assets, including property and wealth, as well as any debts either soon-to-be-spouse might carry.

It then details how these assets will be divided in case the marriage comes to an end, either through a divorce or the death of a spouse.

Who Needs a Prenup?

Prenups may also be known as “antenuptial agreements” or “premarital agreements,” but the bottom line is, they’re contracts drafted before vows are made.

Couples who are getting married for the first time and are bringing little to no assets into the marriage may not need to bother with drawing up a prenup.

However, a prenup can be particularly useful if one spouse is coming into the marriage with children from a previous partnership, or if one partner has a large inheritance or a significant estate, or is expecting to receive a large inheritance or distribution from a family trust.

debt the other spouse brought into the marriage.

What is a Postnup?

A postnup, or postnuptial agreement, is almost identical to a prenup — except that it’s drafted after a marriage has been established.

They may not be as well known as prenups, but postnups have grown increasingly common in recent years, with nearly all 50 U.S. states now allowing them.

A postup may be created soon after the wedding, if the couple meant to do so but simply didn’t get around to it before the big day, or well afterwards, especially if some significant financial change has taken place in the family.

Either way, a postnup, much like a prenup, does the job of outlining exactly how assets will be allocated if the partnership comes to an end.

Who Needs a Postnup?

Along with being drafted whole cloth, a postnup can be used to amend an existing prenuptial agreement if there have been big changes that mean the initial contract is now outdated.

And although it’s not fun to think about, if a couple feels they’ll soon be facing divorce, a postnup can help simplify one important part of the process before the rest of the legal proceedings take place.

A postnup, like a prenup, can help separate out assets that would otherwise be considered shared, “marital property,” which can be important if one partner obtains an inheritance, trust, piece of real estate, or other possession they want to maintain full ownership over.

Postnups can also be part of a renewed effort for a couple to commit to a marriage that may be facing some obstacles and challenges.

Prenup vs. Postnup: Which is Right for Your Relationship?

While it may be a difficult conversation to face with your fiance or spouse, creating a prenup or postnup can be an important step to help you avoid both headache and heartache later on.

If you don’t make a pre- or post-nup, your state’s laws determine who owns the assets that you acquire in your marriage, as well as what happens to that property in the event of divorce or death. State law may also determine what happens to some of the assets you owned before marriage.

While almost any couple can benefit from a frank discussion of who gets what in the worst-case scenario, here are the situations in which you might specifically want to consider a prenup vs. postnup.

Prenup:

•   If one or both partners have existing children from a previous partnership, to whom they want to lay out specific inheritances in case of death.
•   If one partner has a larger estate or net worth (i.e., if one spouse is significantly wealthier than the other).
•   If one or both partners want to protect earnings made and possessions acquired during the marriage from “shared ownership.”

Postnup:

•   If you intended to create a prenup but ran out of time or otherwise didn’t do so before the wedding.
•   If significant financial changes have made it necessary to change an existing prenup or draft a new postnup.
•   If divorce is looking likely or inevitable, and the couple wishes to streamline the process of dividing marital assets before undergoing the rest of the process.

In all cases, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can help simplify the division of assets in the case of either death or divorce—and in either of those extremely emotionally charged scenarios, every little bit of simplification can help.

However, prenups are sometimes considered more straightforward, since they’re made before assets are combined to become marital property.

Prenups may be more likely to be enforceable than postnups should one partner attempt to dispute it after a divorce.

How to Get a Prenup or Postnup

For a prenup or postnup agreement to be considered valid by judge, it must be clear, legally sound and fair.

Couples looking to save money may be able to use a template to create a prenup or postnup themselves.

It may still be a good idea, however, for each partner to at least have separate attorneys review the document before either one signs.

If your estate is more complex, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to draft the agreement.

Either way, having an attorney review the document will help protect your interests and also help ensure that a judge will deem the agreement is valid.

Reducing the Odds You’ll Ever Need to Use that Prenup or Postnup

While creating a prenup or postnup can be a smart move for even the most hopeful and romantic of couples, the ideal scenario is a happily-ever-after that leaves those contracts to gather dust.

Fighting about money is one of the top causes of strife among couples, and one of the main reasons married couples land in divorce court.

retirement account, can help partners feel empowered and able to focus on other important relationship goals.

Financial transparency, starting before and/or early in marriage, can also help mitigate marital tension over money.

To achieve more transparency, some couples may want to consider opening up a joint bank account, either after they tie the knot or before if they are living together and sharing household expenses.

While there are pros and cons to having a shared account, merging at least some of your money can help make it easier to track spending and stick to a household budget, while also fostering openness and teamwork.

For couples who’d rather not share every penny (or explain every purchase), having two separate accounts along with one joint account can be a good solution that helps keep money from becoming a source of tension in a marriage.

The Takeaway

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are both legal documents that address what will happen to marital assets if a married couple divorces or one of them dies.

A prenup is drafted before marriage, while a postnup can be drafted soon after or many years into marriage.

Both agreements can make divorce or the death of a partner significantly less traumatic.

These agreements can be particularly useful if one spouse has children from a previous marriage, has significant assets, and/or expects to receive a large inheritance or distribution from a family trust during the marriage.

It can be helpful to use an attorney to draw up or look over one of these agreements to make sure it’s legally sound.

For couples who are ready to integrate their finances, SoFi Money® makes it easy to create a joint account that gives couples shared access to their money.

Prefer to keep some (or all) of your finances separate? The SoFi Money app makes splitting bills and expenses easy by allowing you to send money directly from the app. If your partner is also a member of SoFi Money, he or she will get the money instantly.

Learn more about SoFi Money today.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOMN20116

The post Prenup vs Postnup: What is the Difference? appeared first on SoFi.

Source: sofi.com

Store Brand vs. Name Brand: How to Save Money on Everyday Stuff

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
A shopper at Publix would save .72 or about 35% by buying the store-brand version of these eight items over their name-brand alternatives. A shopper at Walmart would save .10 or nearly 45%.
Most store-brand products are made to closely compare to their name-brand products. If you check the ingredients, sometimes you’ll find they’re made of the exact same stuff — though the recipes may differ slightly. What the decision really comes down to is preference.
We often default to certain brands when shopping simply because of the name on the package — and the reputation that comes along with it, thanks to clever advertising.
“I will use generic for anything but my hair products,” said community member KellyFromKeene.”Otherwise, [with] food, clothes [and] household supplies, I will get the generic if the ingredients are the same.”
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Ultimately, the decision to buy a store-brand product or your favorite name brand is a subjective one. There’s trial and error involved, and in some cases you might land right back on the premium paper towels because you find that they really do pick more up, and quicker.

Comparing the Cost of Store Brand Vs. Name Brand

But on the shelves next to those items you can often find a comparable store-brand version that costs less — sometimes significantly less. We often refer to these as generic products. Sometimes these rival versions are even made in the same manufacturing facilities and have little to no noticeable differences.
The greater the grocery haul, the greater the savings by choosing the cheaper alternative. And since you likely go shopping more than once a month, you could see a significant difference in your monthly budget by swapping out name-brand items.

Product Store Brand at Publix Name Brand at Publix Store Brand at Walmart Name Brand at Walmart
Oreos $2.59 $3.89 $1.63 $2.72
Jif peanut butter $2.39 $2.72 $1.58 $2.22
Cheerios $1.93 $4.19 $1.23 $2.82
Kraft cheddar cheese $3.85 $4.19 $2.08 $2.38
Diet Coke, 2-liter $0.75 $2.19 $0.68 $1.74
Dove body wash $3.99 $6.81 $3.47 $5.58
Adult extra-strength Tylenol $6.99 $10.29 $1.98 $9.47
Children’s Motrin $4.99 $7.49 $3.94 $5.97
Total $27.48 $41.77 $16.59 $32.90

We buy Bounty paper towels because they’re the “quicker picker-upper” and Frosted Flakes because “they’re gr-r-reat.”
When deciding between store brand and name brand, keep these things in mind:
(Note: Prices were sourced on Feb. 19, 2020 at stores located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Sales tax was not factored into this example.)
But before your next shopping trip, it’s worth considering how much money you could save if you take a few name brand items off your list.

Store Brand Vs. Name Brand: How to Decide


“Recently, I tried my store’s brand of peanut butter,” Sthom continued. “I’m partial to smooth [Jif] but the store’s organic smooth brand was less than .00 — around .18, unbelievably — and was just as good if not better.”
“I definitely try to choose store brand, at least initially. Sometimes, I can tell the difference,” said community member Sthom. “For example, I tried my store’s brand of filters for my Brita: I could tell the difference immediately, so I switched back. That happens sometimes.
Sometimes going with the store brand is a matter of trial and error.
Community member Jobelle Collie said she’s partial to Dove bar soap, Olay moisturizer and Palmolive green dishwashing liquid but buys generic trash bags, office supplies and kitchen staples like salt, pepper and sugar.
Since store-brand merchandise costs less money than name-brand counterparts, a common perception is that they’re of lesser quality.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
What’s in a name? A lot actually.
Editor’s note:  This post was originally published in February 2020.
I visited two stores — Publix (a southeastern grocery store chain) and Walmart — to do a little price comparison.

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

Tips for Weighing Store Brand vs. Name Brand Products

Consider that I only used eight items in this example. When’s the last time you went to the grocery store and walked away with just eight things?

  1. Try swapping out the name-brand version of single-ingredient items — like flour, rice, milk and eggs — for the store-brand version. You may find there’s less variation in taste or quality than multi-ingredient items like cookies or soup.
  2. Use spices or other ingredients you have at home to dress up a store-brand product — for example, adding basil and garlic to a jar of pasta sauce.
  3. All store brands aren’t created equal. You may dislike the taste of store-brand cereal or the quality of store-brand toilet paper at one grocer, but another store’s products could be more on par with the name brands.
  4. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires generic medications (over-the-counter and prescription) to have the same active ingredient, strength and dosage form as the name-brand equivalent. Both products should be medically equal.
  5. Store sales and coupons can cause name-brand products to cost less than the store version. Store brands aren’t always the cheapest option. This is a great time to indulge in your preferred brand and save money.

One reason name-brand items are more expensive is because it costs money to market those products to the public. Consumers pay the price for those commercial jingles that stick in their heads.
But that’s not always true.
We asked The Penny Hoarder community members about buying store-brand items over name brand. Respondents said they often choose store-brand products to save money but still have name-brand preferences when it comes to certain items, despite any cost savings.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Storm Damage?

Your apartment comes with precautions like smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and alarm systems. But what about extreme weather events and natural disasters?

Your landlord’s insurance may only cover the building structure. But you’ve done your due diligence and signed up for renters insurance, insurance coverage that protects you and your belongings inside your rental.

But depending on the natural disaster, your policy could not be exhaustive enough and provide you with enough coverage. Sure, a tornado may be included, but not a big flood or landslide.

According to esurance, the average renter owns about $20,000 in personal property. That’s a lot of valuables, many of which are unable to be replaced.

Learn more about what kind of storm damage renters insurance covers — and what it doesn’t — and how to make sure you’re covered. If you’re not sure about your coverage, don’t hesitate to reach out to your insurance agent.

You’re covered for these

Most renters insurance policies cover damage from hail, lighting, windstorms, wildfires and the weight (think ceiling/roof) of ice, snow and sleet.

These perils, as they’re called by the insurance company, are often covered and you may receive a reimbursement to replace your damaged items.

If the wind breaks a window and your living room furniture gets ruined from the hurricane-force winds, you may be covered under your policy.

When speaking to your agent, depending on how bad the storm damage is, make sure that your policy covers alternative housing while repairs are ongoing. Your renters insurance may pay for you to stay at a hotel in the meantime.

You’re not covered for flood damage

Nearly 41 million Americans currently live in flood zones. But renters insurance does not cover flood damage, just water damage caused by appliances.

If there’s a high risk of floods in your area, consider an umbrella flood policy to protect yourself and your belongings. First, use the FEMA Flood Map to identify your area and its risk of flood.

If you need protection, the National Flood Insurance Program, a community program insurance policy, offers access to participating flood insurance providers. Before signing, ask how soon until the policy goes into effect — 30 days is the standard.

The flood policy will help you return your property to pre-flood conditions, according to FEMA.

flooding

Or earth movement

Half of U.S. residents are at risk for damage from an earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS). Most people think of California and the Pacific Northwest. But there are many spots around the country that exhibit earthquakes with enough magnitude to cause damage. Just last December, scientists recorded a 4.4 earthquake in Tennessee.

Earth movement doesn’t only include earthquakes, but also landslides and volcanic eruption. None of these events are included in your renters insurance coverage.

Depending on your home’s location, you may consider buying an additional policy for earthquake, landslide or earth movement protection. According to USAA, there are grants available in California to discount the price of earthquake insurance.

For landslides, an additional policy is required. It’s based on the property’s slope, house value, closeness to nearby mountains and hills and frequency of landslides. It’s expensive so be sure that your home needs it before pulling the trigger.

Choosing reimbursement

The main issue will be replacing your valuables after the storm damage. When looking for the best policy for you, talk to your agent about the benefit of replacement cost coverage vs. actual cash value coverage.

Depending on your items, one may be better than the other. Replacement reimbursement gives you the value amount for the item as if it was purchased today. The actual cash value is the depreciated value of it before the damage occurred.

How can your property manager help?

After the incident, follow up with your landlord or property manager to confirm the timeline of repairs. If the storm damaged the outside of the structure and deemed your home less than optimal for living, inquire about reimbursement for alternative living costs.

Inventory all damaged belongings once it’s safe to do so after the storm. Let your landlord know that you’re coordinating as well with your renter’s insurance. You’ll be glad that you have an up-to-date policy to help you get back on your feet during this scary time.

The post Does Renters Insurance Cover Storm Damage? appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

10 Questions to Ask about Parking Before You Rent an Apartment

So, you think you’ve found the perfect apartment.

Did you remember to ask about the parking situation? If not, stop! Don’t sign that lease until you have at least considered how you and your guests can park hassle-free. Because no matter how fabulous the view or the living space, if you rely on a car and parking isn’t convenient, it’ll likely put a damper on your living experience.

If you’re planning to live downtown in a city with excellent public transportation and bike accommodations, including bike-sharing programs, you need to consider if you even need a car. Many people don’t want the hassle and are happy to rent a vehicle on the occasions when they want to get out of the city.

But if you plan to have a car or are considering having a car, we’ve compiled a list of 10 questions you need to ask about parking before you sign the lease.

1. What kind of parking does the building offer?

apartment parking

Depending on an apartment’s location, parking will vary. Perhaps there’s an indoor parking garage under the building (most likely in a downtown high-rise or mid-rise building).

If you’re looking at a garden-style apartment, parking may be right outside your front door. If it’s outdoors, and you live in a cold climate, you need to think about inclement weather. Come winter, will you be shoveling four inches of snow off your vehicle before you can head off to work?

And speaking of snow, do you need to observe special parking rules to accommodate the snowplow (such as moving your car from certain parking areas)? Know what’s expected of you.

2. Is parking on-site or is it all street parking?

For some of you, street parking will be a deal-breaker. Others will accept that as a necessary evil that goes with keeping a car in the city.

If there’s street parking, find out if you need a permit from the city or local government to park on the street. Keep in mind that it may be difficult to find a spot when you return if there’s only street parking.

3. How is parking managed?

Once you know that the building supports a parking plan, you need to inquire about the details. For example, are you able to self-park? In many city high-rises, you can’t self park and may have to rely on a parking valet.

Is the parking valet reliable? Are there designated spaces for compact and full-size vehicles? If you have special needs and would like to park closer to the elevator or front door, can you make this request?

4. Reserved or unreserved — that is the question!

reserved parking spot

If there’s plenty of parking, you may not need reserved space(s). But it can be nice to know that you have a dedicated spot to come home to, regardless of your schedule. Ask about this policy.

If there’s on-site parking, find out if the lot is usually full at peak times or if there are usually empty spaces. If spaces are reserved, can you get parking near your unit?

5. How many spaces are you allowed?

If you have a roommate or if you and your significant other have vehicles, will there be designated parking spots for both of you?

6. How much will parking cost?

This is an important question because if your space(s) is not part of your monthly payment, you have to factor parking costs into your budget. It becomes a line item just like internet service, cable and utilities.

If your building doesn’t have parking but has a formal arrangement with a parking garage nearby, ask about the cost. Perhaps your parking will be comped or discounted. Similarly, if parking is included in the rent, and you decide to forego having a car, do you receive a discount?

Be sure to inquire about cost differences for covered spots (also known as garage parking) vs. uncovered spaces (also known as surface parking).

7. Where do my guests park?

guest parking

If parking in and around your building is challenging and there are no spaces reserved for guests, it may put a damper on social activities. Not all rentals have the luxury of extra space for visitors, so you need to decide just how important that is or come up with creative alternatives, such as carpooling.

If your building can accommodate guest parking, do you need to reserve in advance? And how easy will it be for your visitors to come and go?

8. Is the parking lot well lit at night?

If the parking lot is indoors, is the garage only accessible via fob access or in a controlled manner. While there’s never a guarantee of safety, and much of it is based on the specific neighborhood, consider visiting the parking lot yourself to make your own determination.

9. How is designated parking enforced and disputes resolved?

It happens. Sometimes it’s a neighbor who decides to flout the rules and do as he or she wants. Most times, however, it’s a misunderstanding. In either case, situations do arise, and you need to know there is a system in place.

Remember, you also have to be a good neighbor and respect apartment parking etiquette.

10. Can you sublet your parking space?

tenant parking only sign

This question is more important than you might think as it could offer a source for a little extra income each month. If your lease includes a parking space, and you don’t have a car, but your neighbor has two vehicles and only one designated spot, you may be able to make a deal. But check your lease first to determine that you have the legal right to sublet.

Avoid parking problems

Go ahead and look for that perfect apartment with the view, amenities and conveniences you desire. But don’t overlook the parking accommodations or you could be driving into a headache that never goes away.

The post 10 Questions to Ask about Parking Before You Rent an Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

What is a Conventional Loan?

A woman sits on the floor with her laptop in her lap.,

This year you’re finally ready to buy your home. But where to start? Where it’s your first time or you’re an experience home buyer, all the mortgage options out there can be overwhelming. 

If you’re on the hunt for a mortgage, you might want to consider a conventional loan. But there are a ton of different types of conventional loans, so which is the right one for you? We’re here to break down conventional loans so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you.

What Is a Conventional Loan?

A conventional loan—also called a conventional mortgage—is one that’s not guaranteed in part or fully by the government. Conventional loans are offered by private lenders and may be secured by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mac. And while those might sound like government entities, they’re actually government-sponsored entities. We know it’s confusing—but stick with us. We’ll break it down for you.

Conventional Loan vs. FHA Loan

Now that you know what a conventional loan is, you might be wondering about FHA loans. And what’s the differencebetween the two? An FHA loan is backed by the government. So if you don’t make your payments, the lender can recoup some of its losses. Because of that, FHA loans come with less rigorous credit requirements than most conventional loans do.

Types of Conventional Loans

Conventional loans come in a wide range of types. Here are the more common ones:

  • Conforming mortgage loans. These are loans that meet the standards of Freddie Mac or Fannie May. One of the major requirements is that the loan isn’t more than a certain amount. The agencies announce conforming loan limits annually. In most locations, it’s $510,400 for 2020, with allowances for up to $765,600 in high-cost areas.
  • Jumbo mortgage loans. These are mortgages that exceed conforming loan limits. Typically, you need higher credit scores and income to be approved for these bigger loans.
  • Subprime conventional loans. These mortgages may be available for those who don’t quite meet credit and financial requirements for a conforming mortgage loan. To make up for the greater risk, lenders may charge higher interest or fees.

Within every category of loan there are options, including fixed or variable interest and terms. You will need to decide, for example, if you want to pay your mortgage off over 15 years or 30 years. The former comes with cost savings related to interest while the latter offers a lower monthly payment.

Advantages of Conventional Loans

If you have good credit, conventional loans may offer you the best deal depending on what current interest rates are. This is especially true if you can afford to put 20% down—then you can avoid paying for private mortgage insurance in many cases.

Conventional loans can be more flexible than FHA or other government-backed loans. Lenders who offer these loans don’t have to follow specific government guidelines, which means they may be able to work with borrowers who don’t fit those requirements. They can also provide mortgages for properties that are more expensive.

Disadvantages of Conventional Loans

Conventional loans generally come with a higher bar for approval. That’s because they’re not guaranteed, and the lender is taking on all of the risk. You may need a higher credit score and stronger debt-to-income ratio to qualify for these loans.

While you can get a conventional loan with a relatively low down payment, you usually won’t get the best interest rate and will have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). Conventional loans typically work better for those who can put a decent amount down.

Conventional Loan Requirements

Requirements for conventional loans vary by lender, but you typically need to demonstrate credit-worthiness and the ability to make your payment every month. Here are some things that conventional mortgage loan lenders might look at:

  • Your credit score. In many cases, the bottom cut-off for conventional loan approvals is a credit score of 620. Though depending on other factors, such as the amount of the mortgage and your income, you may need a higher score to qualify.
  • Your credit history. Mortgage lenders may look more in-depth at your credit than other lenders, and you may be asked to clear up old accounts or negative items before final approval.
  • Your income and debt. The lender wants to ensure that you’re able to pay the required monthly amount. They’ll look at how much you make, as well as how much debt you already have—the ratio of your debt to your income. If your debt is already taking up a large chunk of your income every month, you’re less likely to be able to pay a mortgage and less likely to get approved.
  • The value of the home. Typically, banks won’t approve a loan that’s for more than the value of the home in question. You usually have to get a property appraised before a mortgage can be finalized for this reason.

Shop for a Conventional Mortgage Loan Online

Start your mortgage journey by ensuring your credit is in order. You can get your credit report free at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you want to see some of the same credit scores mortgage companies are likely to check, consider signing up for ExtraCredit, which provides access to 28 of your FICO®Scores from different models.

Next, you may want to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This can help you understand what your buying power might be and what type of interest rate you might qualify for. It’ll also show sellers that you’re a serious buyer.

Finally, start searching for a mortgage that’s right for you online. Check out rates and potential mortgage options right here on Credit.com.

The post What is a Conventional Loan? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

Have You Met Mr. Market?

Do you know the allegory of Mr. Market? This useful parable—created by Warren Buffett’s mentor—might change everything you think about the stock market, its daily prices, and the endless news cycle (and blogs?!) built upon it.

The Original Mr. Market

The imaginary investor named “Mr. Market” was created by Benjamin Graham in his 1949 book The Intelligent Investor. Graham, if you’re not familiar, was the guy who taught Warren Buffett about securities analysis and value investing. Not a bad track record.

Graham asks the readers of his book to imagine that they have a business partner: a man named Mr. Market. On some days, Mr. Market arrives at work full of enthusiasm. Business is good and Mr. Market is wildly happy. So happy, in fact, that he wants to buy the reader’s share of the business.

Thestreet GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

But on other days, Mr. Market is incredibly depressed. The business has hit a bump in the road. Mr. Market will do anything to sell his own shares of the business to the reader.

Nyse GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Of course, the reader is always free to decline Mr. Market’s offers. And the reader certainly should feel wary of Mr. Market. After all, he is irrational, emotional, and moody. It seems he does not have good business judgement. Graham describes him as having, “incurable emotional problems.”

How can Mr. Market’s feelings fluctuate so quickly? Rather than taking an even emotional approach to business highs and lows, Mr. Market reacts strongly to the slightest bit of news.

If anything, the reader could probably find a way to take advantage of Mr. Market’s over-reactions. The reader could buy from Mr. Market when he’s feeling overly pessimistic and sell to Mr. Market when he’s feeling unjustifiably euphoric. This is one of the basic principles behind value investing.

But Mr. Market is a metaphor

Of course, Mr. Market is an imaginary investor. Yet countless readers have felt that Mr. Market acts as a perfect metaphor for the market fluctuations in the real stock market.

The stock market will come to you with a different price every day. The market will hear good news from a business and countless investors will look to buy that business’s stock. Will you sell to them? But a negative headline will send the market tumbling. Investors will sell. Please, they plead, will you buy my shares?!

Don’t like today’s price? You’ll get a new one tomorrow.

Is this any way to make rational money decisions? By buying while manic and selling while depressive? Do these daily market fluctuations relate to the true intrinsic value of the businesses they represent?

“Never buy something from someone who is out of breath”

Burton Malkiel

There’s a reason why Benjamin Graham built Mr. Market to resemble an actual manic-depressive. It’s an unfortunate affliction. And sadly, those afflicted are often untethered from reality.

The stock market is nothing more than a collection of individuals. These individuals can fall prey to the same emotional overreactions as any other human. Mr. Market acts as a representation of those people.

“In the short run, the stock market is a voting machine. Yet, in the long run, it is a weighing machine.”

Benjamin Graham

Votes are opinions, and opinions can be wrong. That’s why the market’s daily price fluctuations should not affect your long-term investing decisions. But weight is based on fact, and facts don’t lie. Over the long run, the true weight (or value) of a company will make itself apparent.

Warren Buffett’s Thoughts

Warren Buffett is on the record speaking to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders saying that Mr. Market is his favorite part of Benjamin Graham’s book.

Why? Because:

If you cannot control your emotions, you cannot control your money.

Warren Buffett

Of course, Buffett is famous for skills beyond his emotional control. I mean, the guy is 90 years old and continues his daily habits of eating McDonalds and reading six hours of business briefings. That’s fame-worthy.

Warren Buffett

But Buffett’s point is that ignoring Mr. Market is 1) difficult but 2) vitally important. Your mental behavior is just as important as your investing choices.

For example: perhaps your business instincts suggested that Amazon was a great purchase in 1999—at about $100 per share. It was assuredly overvalued at that point based on intrinsic value, but your crystal ball saw a beautiful future.

But Buffett’s real question for you would be: did you sell Amazon when the Dot Com bubble burst (and the stock fell to less than $10 per share)? Did Mr. Market’s depression affect you? Or did your belief in the company’s long-term future allow to hold on until today—when the stock sits at over $3000 per share.

The Woefully Ignorant Sports Fan

I know about 25 different versions of this guy, so I bet you know at least one of them. I’m talking about the Woefully Ignorant Sports Fan, or WISF for short.

The WISF is a spitting image of Mr. Market.

When Lebron James has a couple bad games, the WISF confidently exclaims,

“The dude is a trash basketball player. He’s been overhyped since Day 1. I’m surprised he’s still in the starting lineup.”

Skip Bayless: ESPN's different rules for me and Stephen Smith
Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless: Two Gods of the WISF world

Wow! That’s a pretty outrageous claim. But when Lebron wins the NBA finals and takes home another First-Team All-NBA award, the WISF changes his tune.

“I’m telling you, that’s why he’s the Greatest of All Time. The GOAT. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny he’s the King.”

To the outside observer, this kind of flip-flop removes any shred of the WISF’s credibility. And yet the WISF flip-flops constantly, consistently, and without a hint of irony. It’s simply his nature.

Now think about the WISF alongside Mr. Market. What does the WISF actually tell us about Lebron? Very little! And what does Mr. Market tell us about the true value of the companies on the stock market? Again, very little!

We should not seek truth in the loud pronouncements of an emotional judge. This is another aphorism from The Intelligent Investor book.

But I Want More Money!

Just out of curiosity, I logged into my Fidelity account in late March 2020. The COVID market was at the bottom of its tumble, and my 401(k) and Roth IRA both showed scarring.

Ouch. Tens of thousands of dollars disappeared. Years of saving and investing…poof. This is how investors lose heart. Should I sell now and save myself further losses?

More articles about investing & COVID

  • Ayy! Corona: the stock market and coronavirus
  • What’s Next?
  • Viral Stock Market Strategies

No! Absolutely not! Selling at the bottom is what Mr. Market does. It’s emotional behavior. It’s not based on rationality, not on the intrinsic values of the underlying businesses.

My pessimism quickly subsided. In fact, I began to feel silver linings. Why?

I’m still in the buying phase of my investing career. I buy via my 401(k) account every two weeks. And I buy via my Roth IRA account every month. I’ve never sold a stock. The red ticks in the image below show my two-week purchasing schedule so far in 2020.

Buy when high, buy when low. That’s the Lazy Portfolio way!

If you’re investing for later in life, then your emotions should typically be the opposite of the market’s emotions. If the market is sad and prices are low and they want to sell…well, great! A low price for you increases your ability to profit later.

And Benjamin Graham agrees. He doesn’t think you should ignore Mr. Market altogether, but instead should do business with him only when it’s in your best interest (ooh yeah!).

“The intelligent investor shouldn’t ignore Mr. Market entirely. Instead, you should do business with him, but only to the extent that it serves your interest.”

Benjamin Graham

If you log into your investment accounts and see that your portfolio value is down, take a step back and consider what it really means. You haven’t lost any money. You don’t lock in any losses unless you sell.

The only two prices that ever matter are the price when you buy and the price when you sell.

Mr. Market in the News

If you pay close attention to the financial news, you’ll realize that it’s a mouthpiece for the emotional whims of Mr. Market. Does that include blogs, too? In some cases, absolutely. But I try to keep the Best Interest out of that fray.

For example, here are two headlines from September 29, 2020:

Just imagine if these two headlines existed in another space. “Bananas—A Healthy Snack That Prevents You From Ever Dying” vs. “Bananas—A Toxic Demon Food That Will Kill Your Family.”

The juxtaposition of these two headlines reminds me of Jason Zweig’s quote:

“The market is a pendulum that forever swings between unsustainable optimism (which makes stocks too expensive) and unjustified pessimism (which makes them too cheap).”

Jason Zweig

More often than not, reality sits somewhere between unsustainable optimism and unjustified pessimism. As an investor, your most important job is to not be duped by this emotional rollercoaster.

Investing Based on Recent Performance

Out of all the questions you send me (and please keep sending them!), one of the most common is:

“Jesse – I’m deciding between investment A, investment B, and investment C. I did some research, and B has the best returns over the past three years. So I should pick B, right?”

Wonderful Readers

Great question! I’ve got a few different answers.

What is Mr. Market saying?

Let’s look at the FANG+ index. The index contains Twitter, Tesla, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon, NVIDIA, and the Chinese companies Baidu and Alibaba. Wow! What an assortment of popular and well-known companies!

The recent price trend of FANG+ certainly represents that these companies are strong. The index has doubled over the past year.

Mr. Market is euphoric!

And what do we think when Mr. Market is euphoric?

How do you make money?

Another one of my favorite quotes from The Intelligent Investor is this:

“Obvious prospects for physical growth in a business do not translate into obvious profits for investors”

Benjamin Graham

You make money when a company’s stock price is undervalued compared to its prospects for physical growth. You buy low (because it’s undervalued), the company grows, the stock price increases, you sell, and boom—you’ve made a profit.

I think most people would agree that the FANG+ companies all share prospects for physical growth. But, are those companies undervalued? Alternatively, have their potentials for future growth already been accounted for in their prices?

It’s just like someone saying, “I want a Ferrari! It’s such a famous car. How could it not be a great purchase?”

The statement is incomplete. How much are you paying for the Ferrari? Is it undervalued, only selling for $10,000? Or is it overvalued, selling at $10 million? The product itself—whether a car or a company—must be judged against the price it is selling for.

Past Results Do Not Guarantee Future Performance

If investing were as simple as, “History always repeats itself,” then writing articles like this wouldn’t be worthwhile. Every investment company in the world includes a disclaimer: “Past results do not guarantee future performance.”

Before making a specific choice like “Investment B,” one should understanding the ideas of results-oriented thinking and random walks.

Farewell, Mr. Market

Mr. Market, like the real stock market, is an emotional reactionary. His daily pronouncements are often untethered from reality. Don’t let him affect you.

Instead, realize that only two of Mr. Market’s thoughts ever matter—when you buy from him and when you sell to him. Do business with him, but make sure it’s in your best interest (oh yeah!). Everything else is just noise.

If the thoughts of Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, and the Best Interest haven’t convinced you, just look at the financial news or consider the Woefully Ignorant Sports Fan. Rapidly changing opinions rarely reflect true reality.

Stay rational and happy investing!

If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, I’d suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

Source: bestinterest.blog