Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Happy Wednesday everyone! I had a great weekend and I hope you all did as well. Here’s to a great 2013!

The other day I received an e-mail from a reader who was wondering about pet insurance. I don’t have pet insurance, but it is something that I wonder about.

I’m writing this post more as a way to ask all of you: do you have pet insurance? What do you think of it? And also, how much does it cost?

I noticed that a vet near my house offers a “wellness plan.” It’s not exactly insurance but if your dogs are sick, then you are able to bring them in as many times in a year as you would like, and it also covers other things such as checkups and vaccinations.

The cost was around $300 per year I believe. At what point would this be worthwhile and when would it not be? Also, this is not insurance, so would you buy both or just have one of the other?

I love my pets and will spend whatever is necessary in order to ensure that they are in the best of health. One of our dogs is a French Bulldog and also a runt, so we do know that he has a TON of expected medical bills in the future.

I do see my dogs as a part of my family. I don’t care how many of you say that I am crazy. If pet insurance is truly worth it and the monthly costs are not excessive (in which just saving myself would be better) then I definitely plan on signing up. Sometimes procedures can cost thousands of dollars, and in the case that happens I would like insurance to lessen the burden.

Do you have pet insurance? What do you think of it?

And of course, how much do you spend each month on it?

The post Is Pet Insurance Worth It? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Happy Wednesday everyone! I had a great weekend and I hope you all did as well. Here’s to a great 2013!

The other day I received an e-mail from a reader who was wondering about pet insurance. I don’t have pet insurance, but it is something that I wonder about.

I’m writing this post more as a way to ask all of you: do you have pet insurance? What do you think of it? And also, how much does it cost?

I noticed that a vet near my house offers a “wellness plan.” It’s not exactly insurance but if your dogs are sick, then you are able to bring them in as many times in a year as you would like, and it also covers other things such as checkups and vaccinations.

The cost was around $300 per year I believe. At what point would this be worthwhile and when would it not be? Also, this is not insurance, so would you buy both or just have one of the other?

I love my pets and will spend whatever is necessary in order to ensure that they are in the best of health. One of our dogs is a French Bulldog and also a runt, so we do know that he has a TON of expected medical bills in the future.

I do see my dogs as a part of my family. I don’t care how many of you say that I am crazy. If pet insurance is truly worth it and the monthly costs are not excessive (in which just saving myself would be better) then I definitely plan on signing up. Sometimes procedures can cost thousands of dollars, and in the case that happens I would like insurance to lessen the burden.

Do you have pet insurance? What do you think of it?

And of course, how much do you spend each month on it?

The post Is Pet Insurance Worth It? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Mortgage rates remain at record-low levels

After falling to the lowest rate in Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey’s near 50-year-history last week, the average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan remained at a survey-low 2.67% this week.

Last week’s announcement of a 2.67% rate broke the previous record set on Dec. 3, and was the first time the survey reported rates below 2.7%.

The average fixed rate for a 15-year mortgage also fell this week to 2.17% from 2.19%. One year ago, 15-year average fixed rates were reported at 3.16%.

“All eyes have been on mortgage rates this year, especially the 30-year fixed-rate, which has dropped more than one percentage point over the last twelve months, driving housing market activity in 2020,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Heading into 2021 we expect rates to remain flat, potentially rising modestly off their record low, but solid purchase demand and tight inventory will continue to put pressure on housing markets as well as house price growth.”

Freddie Mac has reported survey-low rates 16 times in 2020, proving beneficial to borrowers looking to buy or refinance a home amid economic turmoil outside of the industry.

Mortgage spreads continue to compress, per Freddie Mac officials, with the 10-year Treasury yield remaining at or above 90 basis points through the beginning of December.

This week’s 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.71%, down from last week when it averaged 2.79%. That’s another sharp drop-off from this time last year, when the 5-year ARM averaged 3.46%.

The Federal Open Market Committee revealed earlier this month that the Federal Reserve plans to keep interest rates low until labor market conditions and inflation meet the committee’s standards. Overall, Fed purchases have helped to drive mortgage rates and other loan interest rates to the lowest level on record by boosting competition for bonds.

Higher rates may be around the corner, as the calendar flips to 2021 and the promise of a second COVID-19 stimulus check along with a vaccine reaches consumers. The Mortgage Bankers Association has forecasted rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans rising to an average of 3.2% by the end of 2021.

But if the virus is not controlled in the new year, investors may remain cautious and consumer confidence could wane – keeping rates low, according to the MBA.

The post Mortgage rates remain at record-low levels appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: housingwire.com

2021 means new challenges for mortgage lending

For many of us, the start of a new year is usually synonymous with a renewed sense of professional self, focusing on new goals, new prospects for the year and, of course, the excitement for the upcoming spring real estate market. As we think about coming out of this first month of the year, we’ve quickly realized this year is going to be anything but planned or what we in the mortgage lending industry are used to.

While the mortgage lending industry has always been an ever-changing profession, we as loan originators have entered a very unprecedented market, with a new landscape paved by uncertainty and a level of anxiety that could easily cripple the most seasoned originator.

With the current global pandemic, we have found ourselves in an increasingly volatile financial system and quickly having to learn how to adapt to the changing environment from one day to the next. The current financial state of our country has caused us to now rely heavily on the opening exchanges and the market forecast to determine how our rates will be impacted, thus giving way to a new line of thinking – Where and how can we effectively close loans?

For some, the refinance “boom” has been their bread and butter over the past year and a way to build up their pipelines. But for others, low mortgage rates gave way to pre-approved borrowers struggling in a very competitive seller’s market. It is even more important then ever to stay in front of your borrowers and referral partners so that they understand the changes that ultimately affect us all.

The way we as mortgage lending originators conduct our business has quickly taken on a new form during these times of uncertainty. 2020 proved that we all need to work to find new ways to generate business. While working double time to save the business we had, it was very easy to find ourselves thrown into a game of what to do next? The country was paralyzed amid the current health crisis and many borrowers and sellers alike are frightened to enter purchase contracts and move forward with transactions already in progress.

We found ourselves acting as an empathetic ear to those who are on the verge of potential economic hardship and constantly reassuring those in process that we are all in this together.

Fast forward to 2021 and expanding our mortgage lending business has taken on a new form as the inventory in many markets have taken a sharp downturn during the pandemic, pushing it into some of the lowest availability in history. Buyers are being outbid, above asking price has become the normal in many areas and the trajectory of the market seems to be moving in a much different direction than many are used to.

Even some of the most seasoned real estate agents have had to slow down in their current business model. By acting in accord with our referral partners, we too as originators have had to find new ways to prospect for new business and remain relevant in a challenging environment. Marketing material has quickly evolved from our traditional “Why Rent When You Can Own” to educating on the effect of the Federal Reserve’s action of cutting interest rates and how this has impacted inventory.

This is now more than ever a time of understanding, patience and resilience.

The face of mortgage lending has changed from the recognition of the big-name banks to the individual brand that we have all built for ourselves. Many have established a presence within their markets by hosting local happy hours, attending networking events, and attending their closings. Face-to-face coffee meetings are a staple to beginning new relationships among referral partners, causing many loan originators to halt business dealings and struggle to stay relevant during this crazy time.

Zoom meetings have spiked across the country and even the most seasoned sales professionals have been taking advantage of the short face-to-face time to ensure their partners and clients keep them top of mind.

Business as usual has certainly taken on a new meaning as many of us try to keep up on borrower demands and field questions during the day while juggling working from home, which sometimes involves the occasional screaming child in the background.

It is a great time to revamp our CRMs, organize our past and current clients, and more importantly, try to find ways to slow down and reconnect with family and friends. The mortgage lending business has never been for the faint of heart, but I believe this will certainly separate the lions from the cubs. Buckle up lending community — this may be only getting started!

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire’s editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Tracy Chongling at tracy.chongling@rate.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Sarah Wheeler at swheeler@housingwire.com

The post 2021 means new challenges for mortgage lending appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: housingwire.com

Can You Buy a House if You Owe Taxes?

A beige stucco house with light streaming through the windows

Looking for the perfect home on the real estate market? Unfortunately, it can be tricky if you have unpaid taxes. Failing to pay your federal income taxes can lead to the Internal Revenue Service placing a lien on your property or your assets. These legal tools protect the government’s ability to get its money. They also set off alarm bells for lenders.

Can you buy a house if you owe taxes? The good news is that federal tax debt—or even a tax lien—doesn’t automatically ruin your chances of being approved for a mortgage. But you do usually have to take steps to resolve the issue before a lender will look favorably upon your mortgage application.

Can You Buy a House If You Owe Taxes?

It’s still possible, but you could have to actively work on the tax debt before a bank will approve a home loan. It might be best to pay off the lien before you fill out a loan application. But if that’s not something you’re able to do, you still might be able to forge ahead, provided you’ve actually tried to make a dent in that debt.

The specific details of your situation come into play, though. And lenders typically have slightly different requirements and documentation needs, so you’ll need to work closely with your bank or mortgage lender. If you know you have tax debt you can’t pay immediately, be honest about it so the lender can let you know what you may need to accomplish to be approved.

Can You Get an FHA Loan If You Owe Back Taxes?

Yes, you may be able to get an FHA loan even if you owe tax debt. But you’ll need to go through a manual underwriting process to make this happen. During this process, the lender looks for proof that you have a valid agreement to repay the IRS. It also requires that you have made on-time payments on this agreement for at least the last three months.

Obviously, FHA loans aren’t only contingent upon your tax debt status. You’ll also have to meet any other requirements, including those related to income and credit history.

Can Military Borrows with a Tax Lien Get a Home Loan?

Lenders can view liens differently depending on the loan type and other factors. But in general, military borrowers with a tax lien may be able to obtain VA mortgage preapproval if:

  • They have an acceptable repayment plan with the IRS and have made on-time payments for at least the last 12 consecutive months.
  • They can satisfy all debt-to-income ratio requirements with that monthly tax repayment included.
  • They note their outstanding tax lien on the standard loan application.

Can You Buy a Home If You Owe Other Types of Tax Debt?

If you owe state taxes or property taxes, you could also put your dreams for homeownership at risk. The rules vary slightly for each situation, but any type of debt you owe can cause your lender to consider you a higher-risk applicant. Even if you’re approved for the mortgage, your interest rate may be higher.

The best bet with any type of tax debt is to pay it off as quickly as possible. And if you can’t resolve it before you apply for a mortgage, at least reach out to the agency you own to make arrangements.

Research and Preparation Are Important

Whether you want to buy a home while you owe federal taxes or you’re certain your credit report is squeaky clean, take time to prepare before applying for a mortgage. You may be surprised by an error or negative item on your credit report, for example. It’s better to fix credit issues before you try to buy a home than be side-swiped by them during the process.

After taking steps to pay off or make three to 12 timely payments on your taxes, check your credit reports. Then, use your score and other information to find out what types of mortgage rates you might qualify for. This helps you understand whether or not it’s the right time to apply for a loan and buy a new home. If you’re in the market for a mortgage loan, look at the options available from the lenders on Credit.com.

The Bottom Line on Buying a Home When You Have Tax Debt

So, if you’re a prospective homebuyer with a tax lien, a good first step is making sure your track record shows at least a year’s worth of on-time payments. Pay it off in full if possible, but if that’s a tall order, know that you might have diminished purchasing power and a rockier road until the slate is clean.

In the meantime, you should also be keeping tabs on your overall financial progress by checking your credit reports regularly. You can get these reports free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, and you can get your free credit score from Credit.com.

Monitor your credit scores for increases or drops. Taking an active role in your credit can help you get on track to buy a home, especially when you’re facing certain financial hurdles such as a tax lien.

The post Can You Buy a House if You Owe Taxes? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

8 Types of Home Loans Available for Homebuyers

Many people mistakenly believe they can’t afford to buy a home because they don’t really know what their options are. Fortunately, home loans are not one-size-fits-all. There are a variety of different mortgages available to…

The post 8 Types of Home Loans Available for Homebuyers appeared first on Crediful.

Source: crediful.com

Working with Mortgage Brokers: Tips and Advice

The process of finding and buying a home can be complicated and stressful, but you don’t have to go it alone. A real estate agent can help you to find the right house; a mortgage broker can help you get the best deal. 

Everyone understands what the former does and why they need them, but many first-time buyers often overlook the services of a mortgage broker.

The question is, what is a mortgage broker, what services can they provide you with and should you work with one?

What is a Mortgage Broker?

A mortgage broker acts as an intermediary between you and the mortgage lender. The broker has your best interests at heart, working with the lender to help you secure the home loan you need at an interest rate you can afford.

Mortgage brokers are fully licensed and regulated. They know enough about mortgage companies to understand what makes them tick and help you secure the best rate from the many different lenders out there.

The broker will pull your credit report, gather documents pertaining to your income, creditworthiness, and affordability, and work as the middleman throughout. Once you find the best mortgage lender for you, the broker will help you file the loan application and work closely with the mortgage underwriters to ensure everything runs smoothly.

As a first-time homebuyer it can be very helpful to have someone like this on your team. It can feel like you’re entering the home loan process blindfolded, with little more than references and advice from friends and family to guide you. 

It’s not a hugely complicated process, but when it’s your first time, a lot of money is at stake, and you’re trying to juggle your everyday life with all these new demands, it can feel overwhelming.

How do They Get Paid?

A mortgage broker can be paid by the borrower, but more often than not they are paid by the lender. The mortgage lender pays the broker anywhere from 0.50% to 2.75% of the total mortgage amount on average. This means that on a $100,000 loan, the broker could be earning $500 to $2,750.

It can seem like a lot of money for one mortgage acquired for one buyer. However, once you consider all the work that goes into this process and the length of time it takes, as well as the fact that mortgage brokers are highly specialized individuals, it begins to look like a bargain. More importantly, you’re not the one paying the fees, so you don’t need to worry about them.

If you have any experience with affiliate companies or lead generation, it’s kind of the same thing, but on a much grander scale. Simply put, the mortgage lender needs customers and they get those customers through the broker, rewarding them with a small share of the profits in exchange.

Are Mortgage Brokers Fair?

You could be forgiven for thinking that mortgage brokers are only interested in earning money and will steer you down whatever path earns them the highest share. However, their only goal is to find the right mortgage rates for you and as long as you get a mortgage in the end, they won’t care. 

They’re getting paid either way and it doesn’t benefit them to focus on a single lender. They’ll look at all mortgage products and loan options; they’ll compare all lenders, and they’ll remain with you throughout the mortgage process. That’s all that matters, and you don’t need to worry about favoritism.

Mortgage Brokers vs Loan Officer

The main difference between a mortgage broker and a mortgage loan officer is that the former works as a middleman between you and the lender, while a loan officer works directly for the lender and is paid a salary by them.

A loan officer is also employed by just one mortgage lender, while a mortgage broker works with multiple lenders. 

Do I Need a Mortgage Broker?

The mortgage process can take a lot of time and it’s time that you might not have. If you’re busy and you’re going into this process blind, we recommend working with a mortgage broker or at least looking at ones in your area to see what sort of benefits they can provide you with.

In any case, whether you’re working directly with big banks and credit unions or going through a mortgage broker, it’s important to study the interest rates and closing costs closely. Are you getting cheaper rates but paying huge closing costs? Are you paying over the odds for your origination fee just to get a few fractions shaved off elsewhere?

A mortgage is something that may stay with you for several decades, and if you make a bad decision now, you could pay thousands or tens of thousands extra in that time. 

Always check the loan terms before you sign on the dotted line and commit to the home purchase. It’s also important to understand the house prices in your area and to have a good grasp of the current housing market. If there is any doubt that the market is about to go into freefall, you may be better off waiting for a year or two. 

Real estate is usually a sound investment that increases in value over time, but if you buy at the height just before a crash, that house may lose a lot of its value in a short space of time and take years to recover.

Finding a Mortgage Broker

We usually don’t advocate asking friends and family for advice when it comes to things like this. After all, the internet exists, and you can “ask” millions of people for their opinions at the press of a button, so why would you focus on one person?

However, when it comes to local mortgage brokers, this is one of the best tactics. You trust your friends and family to give you an honest opinion and when you don’t have a lot of reviews to read through and a lot of information to check, that opinion could be invaluable.

This works best if you have multiple people to ask. The problem is, many of them probably had a good experience and as they likely only worked with one mortgage broker, they’ll probably only gave that one recommendation to make. So, compare recommendations from different friends, see if any of them match, and pay more attention to the friends who have worked with several different mortgage brokers.

Working with Mortgage Brokers: Tips and Advice is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Should You Roll Your Student Loan Debt Into Your Mortgage?

More students have student loan debt, and their total debt is larger than ever before. Would it be worthwhile to roll student loan debt into a mortgage?

The post Should You Roll Your Student Loan Debt Into Your Mortgage? appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Melissa. Copyright © Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Best Places to Celebrate Halloween in 2020

Image shows a carved and lit jack-o-lantern wearing a medical mask and sitting on some steps outside, surrounded by fallen leaves. SmartAsset analyzed various data sources (taking into account COVID-19) to find the best places to celebrate Halloween in 2020.

Halloween typically scares up a major boost in U.S. consumer spending, to the tune of $8.78 billion in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. Though this year’s celebration will be scaled down in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade group still projects that Americans will shell out $8.05 billion on things like candy, costumes, decorations and greeting cards. Despite the fact that many city governments are discouraging trick-or-treating and the CDC is recommending extensive safety guidelines, it’s still possible for families to get in the spirit of the holiday with the proper protocols in place. Whether you’re planning to don costumes and go house to house with your pod or attend a Zoom masquerade, not all locations are equally conducive to enjoying the festivities. That’s why SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find the best cities in the U.S. to celebrate Halloween in 2020.

To do this, we analyzed data for a total of 210 cities. We considered a range of metrics that we grouped into four categories: family friendliness, safety, weather and candy & costumes. For this year’s study, we included metrics like internet connection and recent COVID-19 infection rates to account for the different ways Americans will celebrate the holiday as a result of the pandemic. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s 2020 study on the best places to celebrate Halloween. Read our 2019 study on the best places to trick-or-treat here.

Key Findings

  • California cities take a number of hallowed spots at the top. Cities in the Golden State dominate the top 10 of this study. Five California cities – Vacaville, Fremont, Livermore, Oceanside and Menifee – are in the top 10, and there are four more in the top 15. The major factor driving a lot of these California cities to the top is their safety rating. Two of the above cities, Livermore and Fremont, rank in the top five for safety. The three other California cities finish within roughly the top 15% of the study for this category.
  • Halloween towns without frightening housing costs. A person who is burdened by housing costs is spending at least 30% of income on housing, with the threshold for “severely housing cost-burdened” at 50%. All the cities in our top 10 have housing costs below that 30% threshold, with residents of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina spending just 17.99% of income on housing costs (ranking first in the top 10 and fifth overall for this metric). The city in the top 10 with the highest housing costs as a percentage of income is Menifee, California, at 28.32% – still coming in below the 30% threshold. The average figure for this metric across all 210 cities in the study is 23.58%, so many families may still have some money left over – no doubt a “boo-n” for their costumes and candy budget.

1. Vacaville, CA

The best place to celebrate Halloween in 2020 is Vacaville, California. There are a study-topping 13.94 candy stores per 10,000 total establishments in Vacaville, which ensures trick-or-treaters will have plenty of sweet options to stick in their pumpkin pails and pillowcases. This, combined with a ranking of 38th out of 210 for the 34.84 costume shops per 10,000 total establishments (a top-quintile ranking), puts Vacaville at ninth in the candy & costumes index for this study. The city also finishes 32nd overall for the safety index, which includes a daily COVID-19 infection rate of 8.27 per 100,000 residents, 58th out of 210.

2. Sparks, NV

Trick-or-treaters who don’t have warm or waterproof costumes can rejoice: Sparks, Nevada has the fifth-best ranking for the weather category in this study. That includes a precipitation probability of just 1.0% on Halloween (ranking ninth out of 210) and an average temperature that is just 3.4 degrees off the ideal Halloween temperature of 60 (ranking 44th out of 210). Nearly 22% of the population in Sparks is younger than 14, the 33rd-highest percentage for this metric in the study and an indication that youngsters will have many in their demographic available to participate in some spooky fun.

3. Fremont, CA

Fremont, California ranks fourth in our study for the safety category. It is tied for the third-lowest rate of new COVID-19 infections in the study, at 3.31 each day per 100,000 residents. Fremont also finishes 24th out of 210 in terms of its relatively low violent crime rate, with just 211 cases per 100,000 residents each year. What’s more, the city finishes 16th in the family friendliness index, buoyed by a population where 95.07% of homes have internet access, seventh-best in this study and helpful for those who want to take their Monster Mash online.

4. Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, Virginia also scores well in the safety category – ninth-best in the study out of all 210 cities. The violent crime rate in Virginia Beach is particularly low, ranking eighth overall, with just 117 incidents per 100,000 residents each year. In terms of COVID-19 cases, Virginia Beach falls just outside the top quartile, finishing 55th, with 8.16 new cases per 100,000 residents each day. The city also ranks 37th of 210 for its relatively large concentration of costume shops, at almost 35 per 10,000 total establishments.

5. Livermore, CA

The third California city in our top 10 is Livermore, located on the Bay Area’s eastern edge. Livermore ranks third in the safety category, on the strength of being tied for third-fewest new COVID-19 infections, at just 3.31 per 100,000 residents each day. Livermore also has the 21st-lowest rate of violent crime overall (ranking in the best 10% of the study), at 203 incidents per 100,000 residents each year. Furthermore, the city has the 14th-best family friendliness index in the study, powered by an eighth-place ranking for the percentage of homes with internet access, at 95.00%, making it that much easier to use the World Wide Web to show off that homespun spider web decor.

6. Elgin, IL

Elgin, Illinois ranks 11th out of 210 in the family friendliness category of our study. Housing costs represent just 19.87% of income on average, the 24th-best percentage for this metric overall. The population is 22.61% children under the age of 14, ranking 26th out of 210. Elgin is also a fairly festive place for Halloween. There are 12.29 candy stores per 10,000 establishments, the fourth-highest rate for this metric in the study.

7. Mount Pleasant, SC

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina ranks 12th overall for the candy & costumes category out of all 210 cities we analyzed. That includes having 52.93 costume shops per 10,000 establishments, the sixth-highest rate in the study for this metric. Mount Pleasant is also a relatively affordable place to live, having the fifth-lowest housing costs as a percentage of income overall, at just 17.99%.

8. Oceanside, CA

Although housing costs in Oceanside, California make up 28.02% of income (ranking 193rd out of 210), this coastal city near San Diego has the 14th-best weather index score in the study, which is great news for trick-or-treaters who don’t want to be soaked and shivering while they’re participating in contactless candy pickup. There is just a 1.4% chance of precipitation on Halloween in Oceanside (ranking 19th of 210). Plus, the average temperature there, at 8.2 degrees away from 60 degrees, ranks in the top half of the study.

9. Dearborn, MI

Dearborn, Michigan finishes in the top 45 for all four data categories we considered, including ranking 33rd of 210 (a top-quintile ranking) for the candy & costumes category. There are 34.57 costume shops for every 10,000 establishments, the 40th-best rate for this metric in the study. Dearborn is also a very young city: It has the fifth-highest percentage of residents younger than age 14, at 24.87%, which might help costumed kiddos feel a little less like the pandemic’s gotten everyone stuck in a real ghost town.

10. Menifee, CA

Menifee, California ranks 22nd out of 210 for the candy & costumes category. It has 6.78 candy stores per 10,000 establishments, ranking 32nd overall for this metric. It’s also unlikely your Halloween will be rained on in Menifee – there is a 0.6% chance of precipitation on Oct. 31, the best rate for this metric across all the cities we examined.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities to celebrate Halloween in 2020, we analyzed 210 cities in 10 metrics across four categories:

Family Friendliness Metrics

  • Percentage of residents 14 years or younger. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of income. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of households with internet access. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.

Safety Metrics

  • Violent crime rate. This is the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting database as well as NeighborhoodScout.com.
  • Property crime rate. This is the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting database as well as NeighborhoodScout.com.
  • Daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. This is the seven-day moving average of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 17. Data comes from Halloween2020.org.

Halloween Weather Metrics

  • Precipitation probability. This is the chance it rains 0.5 inches or snows 0.1 inches on Halloween. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • Average temperature. This is the average maximum temperature on Oct. 31, from 1981 to 2010. We compared the average maximum temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which we think is the perfect temperature for trick-or-treating. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Candy & Costumes Metrics

  • Concentration of candy stores. The number of candy stores (including confectionary and nut stores) per 10,000 establishments. Data comes from the 2018 County Business Patterns survey
  • Concentration of costume shops. The number of costume shops (including clothing accessory stores, other clothing stores and formal wear and costume rental stores) per 10,000 establishments. Data comes from the 2018 County Business Patterns survey.

First, we ranked each city in each metric, assigning equal weight to every metric except for the two crime metrics, which each received a half-weight. Then we averaged the rankings across the four categories listed above. For each category, the city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0. We created our final ranking by calculating each city’s average score for all three categories.

Tips for Managing Your Money to Avoid Spooky Surprises

  • Save yourself the toil and trouble. Organizing your finances doesn’t need to be a nightmare. A financial advisor can help make your life much easier. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Make sure your mortgage doesn’t haunt you. If you want to buy a home in one of these great Halloween cities, which are also fantastic locations to lay down roots as a family, consider using SmartAsset’s free mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payment might be.
  • Budgets don’t have to be blood-sucking. A budget can help you get on track to be able to spend a bit extra in October to enjoy Halloween properly. Use SmartAsset’s budget calculator to avoid vampiric bites to your savings account.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

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FHA Loan Requirements – Guideline & Limits

FHA loan requirements are simple; they’re different than conventional loan requirements. For a conventional loan, for example, you will need a good credit score. However a FHA loan credit score is only 580.

If you’re a first time home buyer and need a first time home buyer loan to purchase your dream home, then keep reading to find out how an FHA loan is right for you.

Click here to compare the rates if you’re thinking of applying for an FHA loan. It’s totally FREE.

In this article, we will cover several topics around the FHA loan requirements. As a first time home buyer, you will need to be aware of these requirements so that your home-buying process can go as smoothly as possible.

Here’s what we will cover: FHA loan limits, FHA loan rates, FHA loan credit score, FHA lenders, and so many others. In addition, we will address the difference between conventional loan requirements versus FHA loan requirements.

Click here to apply for a FHA loan.

FHA Loan Requirements – Guideline & Limits:

Buying a house through an FHA loan, while exciting, can be daunting, especially as a first time home buyer. Taking a few moments to familiarize yourself with the FHA loan requirements can save you from costly mistakes during the home buying process. Below is an overview of FHA loan process

FHA loan definition

What is an FHA loan? Simply stated, an FHA loan is a loan that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. These type of loan are popular among first time home buyers because they allow them to put as low as 3.5% down payment and require a very low credit score.

So if you’re a first time home buyer with a bad credit, then an FHA loan makes more sense.


Feeling Overwhelmed With Your Finances?, You have options and there are steps you can take yourself. But if you feel you need a bit more guidance, simply speak with a financial advisorSmartAsset’s free tool matches you with fiduciary advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you are ready to meet your goals, get started with Smart Asset today.


FHA loan limits

FHA loan limits refers to the maximum amount of loan the FHA will give you. For 2019, for example, in low cost areas, FHA loan requirements have been set in place allowing the maximum amount for a single family home to be $314, 827. Whereas for a four-plex, the maximum amount is $605,525.

FHA loan limits – low cost areas
Single Duplex Triplex Fourplex
$314,827 $403,125 $487,250 $605,525

 

For high cost areas, the FHA loan limits for a single family home is $726, 525 and for a duplex, the FHA limit is $930, 300. Those limits, of course vary depending on your states and they are update annually. So visit your state to determine what the FHA mortgage lending limits are.

FHA loan limits – high cost areas
Single Duplex Triplex Fourplex
$726,525 $930,300 $1,124,475 $1,397,400

Click here to compare current FHA loan mortgage rates

FHA loan vs conventional

When it comes to get a home loan for presumably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your life, you certainly have to know the key differences between an FHA loan and a conventional loan. While it’s easier to get approved for an FHA loan, it’s important so that you can make the best decisions.

FHA loan requirements

fha loan requirements
FHA credit score loan requirement

The FHA loan requirements are fairly simple and straightforward. Here’s what they require: 1) You must have a credit score of at least 580.

2) A 3.5% down payment is required. (*note, if your FICO score is between 500 and 579, then you will have to put 10% down payment). 3) You will have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI);

4) Your debt to income ratio must be < 43%. Your debt to income ratio is the percentage of your income that you spend on debt, including mortgage, car loan, student debt, etc..

5) The home you intend to purchase must be your primary residence. You must also occupy the property within 60 days of closing.

Click here to shop for FHA mortgage rates in your area

It can’t be an investment property. However, you can buy a duplex or triplex, live in one unit and rent the other units. As long as you reside in the property, you will satisfy that requirement. Also, the house must meet FHA loan limits (see above).

6) Finally, and of course, you must have a steady income and proof of employment. I will discuss later whether a FHA loan is better than a conventional loan. For more information about FHA loan requirements in general, visit the FHA website.

Conventional loan requirements

The requirements for a conventional loan, however, are much stricter. By the way a conventional loan or traditional loan is not insured by the Federal Housing Administration. But instead it is guaranteed by a private lender such as a bank, credit union, mortgage companies, etc…

Of course whether you will qualify for a conventional loan vary from lenders to lenders, but the following are required:

1) A credit score of at least 680 (of course the higher the score is, the more likely you will get qualified, and the lower your interest rate on the loan will be.

2) A down payment of at least 20% of the house purchase price. If you have less than 20%, you still can get the loan. But the problem is, you will have to take out private mortgage insurance, pay its premiums until you achieve at least 20% equity in the house.

3) Your debt to income ratio needs to be around 36% and no more than 43%.

Should you apply for an FHA loan or conventional loan?

As you can see above, the FHA loan requirements are less strict than the conventional loan requirements. However, which one you choose to apply to depends on your personal circumstances.

But if you are a first time home buyer, there are a lot of good reasons why an FHA loan would seem more appealing to you. For one, the down payment is only 3.5% (compare that with a 20% down payment a conventional loan requires). A down payment is the upfront money you need to to make when buying a home.

As a first time home buyer, saving for a 20% down payment on a house can be a big burden. Homes are expensive. For example, saving for $450,000 home can take you years to accomplish, especially if you have other debt like student debt, credit card debt, car loan, etc… So a 3.5% down payment makes it easier for you to buy your own home.

Second, the FHA loan credit score is only 580. Although, you should always take steps to raise your credit score, sometimes certain changes in your life may leave you with a low credit score. Perhaps, you had to file for bankruptcy which resulted in a low credit score.

Or maybe you never had a credit card, which means that you don’t have an established credit history. Or maybe you’re a victim of identity theft which lowered your credit score. So there are several reasons why you could have a low credit score.

However, that shouldn’t mean you can’t buy a house. That’s why the FHA loan requirements make it easier for folks who otherwise would not have been qualified for a conventional loan.

Related Articles:

5 Signs You’re Not Ready To Buy A House

The Biggest Mistakes Millennials Make When Buying a House

How Much House Can I afford

Buy a home with the Right Financial Advisor

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals. Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

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