New Home Sales Dip Slightly in September, but Remain Strong Going Into Fall

Home construction in Park City, UTGeorge Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The numbers: Sales of new single-family homes fell in September, but the housing market remains poised to buck seasonal trends nonetheless.

New home sales occurred at a seasonally-adjusted, annual rate of 959,000, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Monday. That represents a 3.5% drop from an downwardly-revised pace of 994,000 homes in August. Compared with last year, new home sales are up 32%.

Last month, the government had reported that new-home sales had exceeded an annual rate of 1 million for the first time since 2006. The government uses a small sample size to produce the new-home sales report, which makes it prone to significant revisions like this.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected home sales to increase to a median pace of 1.033 million.

What happened: New home sales fell a staggering 28.9% in the Northeast, followed by much smaller declines in the Midwest and the South. Comparatively, the West was the only region to experience an increase in sales with a 3.8% jump.

The decline in September aside, year-to-date new home sales are running nearly 17% ahead of the pace set by this time last year.

The median sales price in July was $326,800, up from August’s median price. The inventory of new homes was 284,000, representing a 3.6-month supply at the current pace of sales. A 6-month supply is considered the benchmark for a balanced market.

The big picture: Although most economists anticipated sales to rise in September, that is an incredibly rare occurrence. An analysis of past sales data by Regions Financial Corp. chief economist Richard Moody found that since the government began tracking this data in 1963, new home sales have only increased between August and September on four occasions.

The number of homes sold but not yet started was up in September from the previous month, a sign that builders are struggling to keep pace with the demand for homes. The monthly decline aside, low mortgage rates continue to fuel demand among buyers. And with the inventory of existing homes for sale dropping to record lows, many buyers will be forced to turn to the market for newly-constructed properties.

By that same token, though, interest rates could come to represent a headwind for the market, Moody said. “Despite the recent strength of sales, affordability is a growing concern, even more so should mortgage interest rates follow yields on longer-term Treasuries higher,” Moody wrote in a research note.

The post New Home Sales Dip Slightly in September, but Remain Strong Going Into Fall appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

5 Tips Every Renter and Homeowner Should Know About Insurance

This week, I had to evacuate because of Hurricane Dorian. If you’ve ever experienced a natural disaster or had to evacuate your home, you know that insurance is a top concern. No matter where you live, there are common threats—such as California earthquakes, Oklahoma tornados, and Texas floods—that affect renters and homeowners.

Let's review five essential insurance tips that every renter and homeowner should know. You’ll learn the variety of protections you get from basic renters and home policies, mistakes to avoid when buying a policy, and ways to save money on premiums.

5 Tips Every Renter or Homeowner Should Know About Insurance

  1. Not every type of damage is covered
  2. Certain belongings have low coverage limits
  3. Know the difference between cash value and replacement cost
  4. There are special types of deductibles
  5. Don’t leave discounts on the table

Here’s more information about each insurance tip.

1. Not every kind of damage is covered

A basic homeowners policy pays for claims when a natural disaster—such as a fire, tornado, hail, or windstorm—damages your property. Personal belongings like your furniture, electronics, and clothing are generally covered up to specific limits for damage and theft.

Home insurance includes liability, which protects you from legal issues that could arise if someone is hurt on your property.

Homeowners coverage also pays "additional living expenses." That might include things like some amount of hotel and meal expenses if you can't stay in your home after a covered disaster.

If you’re a renter, you also need insurance, because your landlord is not required to cover you. Renters insurance gives the same protections as a homeowners policy. You get coverage for your personal belongings, liability, and additional living expenses. But it doesn’t cover damage to rental property because that’s your landlord’s responsibility.

Unfortunately, about half of renters don’t have renters insurance. Many mistakenly believe that their landlord would pay to repair or replace their damaged or stolen personal belongings. Or they mistakenly think a renters policy is too expensive. The good news is that a typical renters policy is quite affordable, costing just $185 per year on average across the U.S.

The good news is that a typical renters policy is quite affordable, costing just $185 per year on average across the US.

But what surprises many people is that a standard home or renters policy doesn't cover some natural disasters. These include earthquakes and flooding from groundwater.

If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you can typically add earthquake coverage to a home or renters policy. But flooding is a different category of insurance that must be purchased separately. Flooding is handled differently than other types of disasters because it’s the nation’s most common and expensive disaster. Floods can happen anywhere, and they don’t even have to be catastrophic to cause significant damage.

If your town or community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can buy a policy for your rental or your home. And if you buy a home in a designated flood zone, mortgage lenders typically require you to have flood insurance.

Most flood policies have a 30-day waiting period, so you can’t wait until a storm is bearing down on you to sign up. You'd be too late.

Even though the federal government backs flood insurance, it’s brokered by regular insurance companies or agents. You can learn more at floodsmart.gov.

Most flood policies have a 30-day waiting period, so you can’t wait until a storm is bearing down on you to sign up.

Remember that water damage from rain, high winds, or a tree that fell on your roof are covered by a standard home or renters insurance policy. But damages to your home or personal belongings that occur due to rising groundwater are never covered, except when you have flood insurance.

Also note that if you have a home-based business with inventory, specialized equipment, or customers who enter your property, you typically need a commercial policy. Likewise, if you turn your home into a rental, Airbnb, or a vacation property, you generally need additional coverage or a landlord insurance policy.

2. Certain belongings have low coverage limits

Just like not every disaster is covered, not every type of personal belonging is fully covered under a home or renters policy. Some belongings, such as cash, aren’t coved at all. Many others have coverage caps.

For instance, jewelry, watches, furs, silverware, electronics, and firearms are typically limited to one or two thousand dollars of coverage. If you have jewelry that’s worth $10,000 and it’s lost or stolen, you’d come up very short with just $2,000 of coverage.

If you have items worth more than the coverage caps, you can add an insurance rider for more coverage. This addition is known as “scheduling” your personal property. It costs more, but it gives your most expensive items separate coverage so they could be replaced.

Another often-overlooked protection you get with renters and home insurance is that your belongings are covered outside of your home.

Another often-overlooked protection you get with renters and home insurance is that your belongings are covered outside of your home. If your vacation luggage gets stolen, you lose valuable jewelry, or your laptop gets stolen from your car, your homeowners or renters policy covers it.

So, pay close attention to the insurance limits for possessions inside and outside of your home and consider adding a rider or property schedule to beef up coverage when needed for valuable items.

3. Know the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost.

It can be a little confusing to know exactly how much money you’d receive from a renters or home insurance claim. So be sure you understand the different types of policies you can buy.

Actual cash value coverage pays to repair or replace your property or possessions up to the policy limits, minus a deduction for depreciation. The calculation can vary from insurer to insurer. But what you need to know is that a cash value policy only pays a percentage of what it would cost you to go out and buy a new item.

Cash value coverage is the least expensive option. However, it means that if you experience a severe disaster, you probably won't receive enough to rebuild your home or fully replace personal belongings.

Replacement cost coverage pays to repair or replace your property and possessions up to the policy limits, without a deduction for depreciation. That means you would receive enough money to rebuild a home with materials of similar quality. Or buy new items to replace your damaged belongings.

Yes, replacement coverage costs more than cash value. But it would allow you to replace what you lost.

There are also guaranteed or extended replacement cost policies which give you even more protection. They pay to replace your home as it was before a disaster, even if costs more than your policy limit.

Remember that a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild your home and any outbuildings, not the amount you paid for the property or its appraised value.

Remember that a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild your home and any outbuildings, not the amount you paid for the property or its appraised value. You never include the value of your land in your home insurance. Depending on the age, location, and style of your home, the insured value could be much higher or lower than its market value.

4. There are special types of deductibles.

A deductible is an amount you’re responsible for paying for an insured loss. The higher your deductible, the more you can save on premiums. So be sure to get quotes for different deductible amounts when shopping for renters and home insurance.

As I previously mentioned, disasters such as windstorms, hailstorms, and hurricanes, are typically covered by standard renters and home insurance. However, in some high-risk areas, you may have separate deductibles for damage caused by these disasters.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, nineteen states and the District of Columbia have hurricane deductibles: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C.

These special deductibles are additional and separate from the regular deductible for all other types of claims, such as fire or theft. A hurricane deductible applies only to damage from hurricanes, and windstorm or wind/hail deductibles would apply to any wind damage.

Hurricane and wind deductibles are typically given as a percentage that may vary from 1% to 5% of a home's insured value but can be even higher in some coastal areas. The amount you must pay depends on your insured value and the "trigger" event.

For instance, if you have a 3% hurricane deductible and your home is insured for $200,000, you’d be responsible for the first $6,000 ($200,000 x 3%) in repair costs. That’s much more expensive than paying a standard $500 or $1,000 home deductible.

In some states, the triggering event for hurricane deductibles to apply is when a Category 1 storm causes damage whether it made landfall or not. Other states allow Category 2 to be the threshold. In others, a hurricane deductible applies from the moment a hurricane watch or warning gets issued until 72 hours after it ends.

A hurricane deductible can only be applied once each hurricane season, from June to November.

5. Don’t leave discounts on the table.

When it comes to the price of renters and home insurance, there are some factors you can control and some you can’t. Here are some ways to save and typical discounts to ask for:

  • Bundling insurance is when you purchase different types of policies, such as renters or home and auto, from the same insurance company. Buying two or more policies can help reduce your total cost. Just make sure that the combined price from one insurer is less than buying policies separately from different insurers.
  • Shopping around may seem obvious, but many people don’t do it. Prices can vary considerably from insurer to insurer. Be sure to compare the same coverage and deductibles to get the best deal possible.
  • Installing safety features in your home or rental, such as smoke detectors, alarm systems, deadbolts, storm shutters, shatterproof windows, or roofing, may allow you to qualify for discounts. Even being a non-smoker or being retired reduces the risk for insurers, so be sure to let them know any factors that could work in your favor.
  • Raising your deductible is an easy way to cut the cost of premiums. Just make sure that you could afford to pay it in the event of a claim. Also, the savings vary depending on where you live and your insurer, so get quotes with multiple scenarios.
  • Maintaining good credit is vital for many aspects of your financial life, including the rates you pay for home, renters, and auto insurance. Depending on where you live, having poor credit can cause you to pay double the premium compared to having excellent credit! The only states that currently prohibit home insurers from using credit when setting rates are California, Maryland, and Massachusetts
  • Being a loyal customer can pay off with a discount. However, don’t let that keep you from periodically shopping around to make sure you’re still getting a good deal.

No one enjoys paying for home or renters policy, but when disaster strikes, you’re the victim of theft, or you get involved in a lawsuit, having insurance can be a financial lifesaver.

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Source: quickanddirtytips.com

What to Do With a Childhood Savings Bond

savings bond

A savings bond used to be a common gift, though not always a welcome one. Well-meaning relatives gifted savings bonds for your birthday or the holidays. The goal was often to help you pay for college in the future. But for us kids, all we knew was it wasn’t the Pound Puppy or Care Bear we really wanted!

Nowadays 529 plans and other higher-interest earning options have replaced the savings bond. But that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared. In fact, they may be sitting at the back of your closet right now. But you are cleaning out your closet or your safe deposit box, and now this long-forgotten and unexpected savings bond can help you clean up your finances.

It’s Still Good

That savings bond is still worth something. That’s the good news. Savings bonds gain value over time by earning interest and keep earning interest for 30 years. They pay interest every six months until they mature. So depending on how long it’s been since you cleaned your closet, you may still be making money as you read this. Now there are some steps you have to take to get money in return.

What Type of Savings Bond

There are several kinds of savings bonds. So you much determine which kind you have in your possession. Savings bonds are a contract between you and the federal government. If it’s an old bond from your childhood it is probably either an EE or an I bond. It will be clearly specified in the title which one you have.

EE bonds are similar to savings accounts. Paper bonds used to be sold at half the face value (you paid $50 for a $100 bond) and the interest continued to increase even after the face value is reached, so your $100 savings bond is probably worth more than $100 now. Paper EE bonds are no longer available and digital EE bonds are purchased at face value.

I bonds are similar to EE bonds. The chief difference is that the interest earned on an I bond is determined by a combination of a fixed rate and an inflation rate.  So there is some cost-of-living protection for the bondholder.

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Find Out What It’s Worth

Before you decide to cash in the savings bond, you’ll probably want to know what it’s worth. The interest rates and even the way interest rates are determined have changed over the years so it matters when you got yours. The best way to determine the current value of your savings bond is to use the Treasury Direct website. Whether you want to cash in the bond or continue to let it mature is then up to you.

There are some penalties for cashing in the savings bond early. If you redeem the bond early, you will lose three months’ worth of interest during the first five years. There are no penalties after five years. The earliest you can cash in the bond is after one year. If the bond is more than 30 years old, it has stopped earning interest and you should cash it in.

While you will have to pay federal taxes on your bonds, you do not have to pay state or local income taxes. There are some exemptions – most notably when bonds issued after 1989 are cashed in to pay qualified higher education expenses at an eligible institution.

Visit the Bank

Most banks should be able to help you cash your paper bonds. If they aren’t, they should be able to direct you to a financial institution that can. You will have to prove your identity to cash in your old bonds. You will have to fill out an tax form either when you redeem the bonds or at the end of the year. Your tax preparer should be able to help you with this part of the process.

More Money-Saving Reads:

  • What’s a Good Credit Score?
  • How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Report
  • What’s a Bad Credit Score?
  • How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life

Image: iStock

The post What to Do With a Childhood Savings Bond appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

Nevada County, California VA Loan Information

Table of Contents

  • What is the VA Loan Limit?
  • How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?
  • What is the Median Home Price?
  • What are the VA Appraisal Fees?
  • Do I need Flood Insurance?
  • How do I learn about Property Taxes?
  • What is the Population?
  • What are the major cities?
  • About Nevada County
  • Veteran Information
  • Apply for a VA Home Loan
  • VA Approved Condos

FAQ

What is the VA Loan Limit?

2021 VA Home Loan Limit: $0 down up to $5,000,000* (Subject to lender limits) /2 open VA loans at one time $548,250* (Call 888-573-4496 for details).

How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?

This is a quick look at how to apply for a VA home loan in Nevada County. For a more detailed overview of the VA home loan process, check out our complete guide on how to apply for a VA home loan. Here, we’ll go over the general steps to getting a VA home loan and point out some things to pay attention to in Nevada County. If you have any questions, you can call us at VA HLC and we’ll help you get started.

  1. Get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
    • Give us a call at (877) 432-5626 and we’ll get your COE for you.
  2. Are you applying for a refinance loan? Check out our complete guide to VA Refinancing.
  3. Get pre-approved, to get pre-approved for a loan, you’ll need:
    • Previous two years of W2s
    • Most recent 30 days paystubs or LES (active duty)
    • Most recent 60 days bank statements
    • Landlord and HR/Payroll Department contact info
  4. Find a home
    • We can help you check whether the home is in one of the Nevada County flood zones
  5. Get the necessary inspections
    • Termite inspection: required
    • Well or septic inspections needed, if applicable
  6. Get the home appraised
    • We can help you find a VA-Certified appraiser in Nevada County and schedule the process
    • Construction loan note: Construction permit/appraisal info
      1. Building permit
      2. Elevation certificate
  7. Lock-in your interest rates
    • Wait until the appraisal to lock-in your loan rates. If it turns out you need to make repairs, it can push your closing back. Then you can get stuck paying rate extension fees.
  8. Close the deal and get packing!
    • You’re ready to go.

What is the Median Home Price?

As of March 31st, 2020, the median home value for Nevada County is $477,219. In addition, the median household income for residents of the county is $63,240.

How much are the VA Appraisal Fees?

  • Single-Family: $600.
  • Individual Condo: $600.
  • Manufactured Homes: $600.
  • 2-4 Unit Multi-Family: $850.
  • Appraisal Turnaround Times: 7 days.

Do I need Flood Insurance?

  • The VA requires properties are required to have flood insurance if they are in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
  • In Nevada county, the mountainous terrain reduces flood hazard areas to small areas surrounding bodies of water.

How do I learn about Property Taxes?

  • Sue Home is the Nevada county tax assessor. Her office can be reached at 905 Maidu Avenue Suite 290 Nevada City, California 95959. In addition, her office can also be reached by calling 530-265-1232.
  • The state of California offers various incentive programs that expand statewide for new, growing, and relocating businesses. Two of these programs are California Competes Tax Credit which offers qualifying businesses tax credit and the New employment Credit program which offers a tax credit for taxpayers who hire full-time employees. These and many other programs help in further diversifying the state’s economy.

What is the Population?

  • The county’s population of 99,755 is 84% White, 9% Hispanic, and 3% two or more races.
  • Most county residents are between 18 and 65 years old, with 17% under 18 years old and 28% older than 65.
  • In total, the county has about 40,904 households, at an average of two people per household.

What are the major cities?

The county has two cities and one town, including Nevada City which serves as the county seat. The two other cities in the county are Grass Valley and Truckee.

About Nevada County

Formed in 1851, 13 years prior to the neighboring state of Nevada attaining statehood, Nevada County was actually the first area of the United States to include the stand-alone word Nevada in its name. The term’s etymology is from the name the Sierra Nevada, Spanish for snow-covered. Nevada County is known for its involvement in the California Gold Rush. The early years of California are featured prominently throughout the county. The Nevada Theatre, built in 1865 making it the oldest theater in the state continues to operate to this day. Many notable figures have performed on the stage at the Nevada Theatre, ranging from Mark Twain to Motley Crue.

Further providing Nevada County notoriety is its place as the birthplace of Arcade Video games, with the inception of Pong. The creation of Pong led to the county being nicknamed the “Silicon Valley of the Sierras.” The first cell phone for commercial usage, with the capability of taking photos, was developed in the county seat of Nevada City. Currently, over 1,000 software designers and developers reside in the county.

Our nation’s 31st President, Herbert Hoover once lived in Nevada City, earning a living as a miner, fresh out of Stanford University.

The timber industry, government services, and tourism are the driving forces of the local economy.

Tourism based on the history of this country is reflected in many of the museums found in Nevada County. These museums put the history of the Gold Rush, mining, and the railroad at the forefront. The county is also home to numerous state parks including Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, Grass Valley’s Empire Mine State Historic Park, and Donner Memorial State Park.

A veteran property tax exemption exists for veteran homeowners in Nevada County, amounting to $4,000. A disabled veterans exemption which is for a far greater monetary sum is accessible for disabled veterans with a total disability, blindness or the loss of use of more than one limb. This exemption is also available for the surviving spouses of disabled veterans.

Veteran Information

The county is currently home to 8,319 veterans, and they all have access to:

  • Nevada County is home to one VFW post:
    • Post-2655 Banner Mountian: 415 North Pine Street, Nevada City, CA 95959.
  • County Veteran Assistance Information
    • Nevada County Veteran Services Office: 988 McCourtney Road Grass Valley, CA 95949.

Apply for a VA Home Loan

  • For more information about VA Home Loans and how to apply, click here.
  • If you meet the VA’s eligibility requirements, you will be able to enjoy some of the best government guaranteed home loans available.  
  • VA loans can finance the construction of a property. However, the property must be owned and prepared for construction as the VA cannot ensure vacant land loans.

VA Approved Condos

Name (ID): THE BOULDERS (000151)
Address: 
10844 CINNABAR WAY
TRUCKEE CA 96161
NEVADA
Status: Accepted Without Conditions
Request Received Date: 05/13/2015
Review Completion Date: 06/02/2015

Oregon VA Loan Information: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/oregon-va-home-loan-limits/

VA Loan Information by State: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/va-loan-limit-maximum-va-loan-amount/

The post Nevada County, California VA Loan Information appeared first on VA Home Loan Centers.

Source: vahomeloancenters.org

What Is a Stafford Loan and How Do You Qualify?

How do you qualify for a stafford loan?

If you’re in search of financial help for higher education, you may have explored different scholarships and grants to pay the way. Gifted money is a great way to pay for school without having to worry about paying it back after graduation. However, if you don’t have all your expenses covered through scholarships and grants, you might need to consider student loans to fill in the gaps. If you’re exploring federal aid, Stafford loans might be an option. Here’s what they are, how much they cost and how to know if you qualify.

What Is a Stafford Loan?

A Stafford loan is a federal student loan provided by the government to help pay for your education while you’re attending a university, community college, trade or technical school. 

Stafford loans are now referred to as direct subsidized loans or direct unsubsidized loans. The difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans is who pays for the accrued interest of the loan while you’re in school and how much you may be able to borrow.

A subsidized loan is only available to undergraduate students in financial need. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest that adds up on your behalf while you’re in school at least half-time, as well as during the six-month grace period after graduation and during deferment or forbearance periods. The limit on how much you can borrow is $3,500 for the first year, $4,500 for the second and $5,500 for the third and fourth years. The aggregate loan amount is capped at $23,000, which is lower than unsubsidized loans.

An unsubsidized loan is available for both graduate and undergraduate students and isn’t based on financial need. The student is responsible for the interest that builds up while in school. Payments could be more costly than those for a subsidized loan because of that accrued interest.

If a subsidized loan doesn’t cover all your college costs, you can take out an unsubsidized loan, too. The aggregate loan amount for unsubsidized loans is capped at $31,000 for undergraduate students considered dependents and whose parents don’t qualify for direct PLUS loans. Undergraduate independent students may be allowed to borrow up to $57,500, while graduate students may be allowed to borrow up to $138,500.

These types loans have fixed interest rates determined by the government, come with a fee and allow the student to borrow for up to 150% of the length of the program they’re enrolled in. For example, if you’re attending a four-year college, you would be able to borrow these loans for up to six years.

How to Qualify for a Stafford Loan How do you qualify for a stafford loan?

What you need to get a Stafford loan depends on your financial standing.

Students or parents of the student must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Next, you’ll receive an award letter that details if you qualify for a Stafford loan. Your financial need determines if you’ll get a direct subsidized loan. If you don’t qualify, then you may receive a direct unsubsidized loan.

If you do qualify for one of these loans and you’re ready to accept the federal aid, you’ll need to submit a Mastery Promissory Note (MPN). This is a legal document which states that you promise to pay back your loans in full, including any fees and accrued interest, to the U.S. Department of Education. The school of your choice will determine how much money you’re eligible to receive and the funds go straight to your school – not to you. Since you can receive money based on your need or school enrollment – not your credit score – only your application is required.

Stafford Loan Alternatives

If you’ve exhausted all of your financial aid options, it might be time to explore other means to pay for school.

Direct PLUS Loans

Direct Plus loans are federal loans that are available to graduate or professional students, or parents of undergraduate students. They require a credit check and you might be required to make payments while you or your child is in school. However, you could request deferment and make payments after you or your child graduates or drops below half-time.

Private Student Loans

If you can’t get any further federal aid, you may consider private student loans. Instead of coming from the U.S. Department of Education, these types of loans are issued from private issuers, such as banks, credit unions or online lenders.

If you’re not sure where else to look, contact your school’s financial aid office. It may have scholarships, grants or other small loans available that you might qualify for.

The Bottom Line

How do you qualify for a stafford loan?

College is expensive and not everyone can afford to pay for it out of pocket. Tapping into financial resources, including Stafford loans like subsidized and unsubsidized loans, as well as direct Plus loans and private student loans, may help. Don’t be afraid to contact your school’s financial aid office for even more resources to pay for school.

Tips for Student Loan Borrowers

  • If you’re not sure of the best strategy for securing student loans, consider working with a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. 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.
  • Interest rates for private student loans are often higher than those for federal loans. If you or your child is struggling to pay private student loans, consider student loan refinance rates available now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/William_Potter, ©iStock.com/utah778, ©iStock.com/BrianAJackson

The post What Is a Stafford Loan and How Do You Qualify? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

Benton County, Oregon VA Loan Information

Table of Contents

  • What is the VA Loan Limit?
  • How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?
  • What is the Median Home Price?
  • What are the VA Appraisal Fees?
  • Do I need Flood Insurance?
  • How do I learn about Property Taxes?
  • What is the Population?
  • What are the major cities?
  • About Benton County
  • Veteran Information
  • Apply for a VA Home Loan
  • VA Approved Condos

FAQ

What is the VA Loan Limit?

2021 VA Home Loan Limit: $0 down payment up to $5,000,000* (subject to lender limits) /2 open VA loans at one time $548,250 (Call 877-432-5626 for details).

How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?

This is a quick look at how to apply for a VA home loan in Benton county. For a more detailed overview of the VA home loan process, check out our complete guide on how to apply for a VA home loan. Here, we’ll go over the general steps to getting a VA home loan and point out some things to pay attention to in Benton County. If you have any questions, you can call us at VA HLC and we’ll help you get started.

  1. Get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
    • Give us a call at (877) 432-5626 and we’ll get your COE for you.
  2. Are you applying for a refinance loan? Check out our complete guide to VA Refinancing.
  3. Get pre-approved, to get pre-approved for a loan, you’ll need:
    • Previous two years of W2s
    • Most recent 30 days paystubs or LES (active duty)
    • Most recent 60 days bank statements
    • Landlord and HR/Payroll Department contact info
  4. Find a home
    • We can help you check whether the home is in one of the Benton County flood zones
  5. Get the necessary inspections
    • Termite inspection: required
    • Well or septic inspections needed, if applicable
  6. Get the home appraised
    • We can help you find a VA-Certified appraiser in Benton County and schedule the process
    • Construction loan note: Construction permit/appraisal info
      1. Building permit
      2. Elevation certificate
  7. Lock-in your interest rates
    • Pro tip: Wait until the appraisal to lock-in your loan rates. If it turns out you need to make repairs, it can push your closing back. Then you can get stuck paying rate extension fees.
  8. Close the deal and get packing!
    • You’re ready to go.

What is the Median Home Price?

As of August 31st, 2020, the median home value for Benton County is $385,002. In addition, the median household income for residents of the county is $58,655.

How much are the VA Appraisal Fees?

  • Single-Family: $775.
  • Individual Condo: $825.
  • Manufactured Homes: $825.
  • 2-4 Unit Multi-Family: $950.
  • Appraisal Turnaround Times: 10 days.

Do I need Flood Insurance?

  • The VA requires properties are required to have flood insurance if they are in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
  • In Benton County, most flood hazard areas are located along the Willamette River which borders the county to the east. Several other creeks within the county are also prone to flooding. However, one of the most significant flood hazard areas is Marys River which floods areas within the city of Corvallis.

How do I learn about Property Taxes?

  • The Benton county tax assessor’s office is located at 4077 S.W. Research Way Corvallis, Oregon, 97333. In addition, the office can also be reached by calling (541) 766-6855
  • Oregon offers businesses that invest and hire within enterprise zones the option to be exempt from property taxes for at least three years. In addition, the Oregon Investment Advantage encourages new businesses to start and relocating to the state. For example, the program offers income tax subtraction, and it can also eliminate state income liability for new businesses for many years.

What is the Population?

  • The county’s population of 93,053 is 79% White, 7% Hispanic, and 7% Asian.
  • Most county residents are between 18 and 65 years old, with 16% under 18 years old and 17% older than 65.
  • In total, the county has about 35,056 households, at an average of two people per household.

What are the major cities?

The county has five cities, including the city of Corvallis, which serves as the county seat. In addition, there are four other cities Adair Village, Albany, Monroe, and Philomath.

About Benton County

Benton County is located in western Oregon and is home to a friendly local community and excellent dining options. Fun in the Oregon wilderness is waiting at any of the beautiful outdoor spots in the county. Many fun and interesting attractions can be found all over the area, including museums, art galleries, golf courses, and much more. Don’t miss out on any of the exciting festivals held in the county, where you can truly celebrate like a local! Benton County was officially founded on December 23, 1847, and was named after Thomas Hart Benton, who served as a U.S. Senator. The current population of the county is 90,951.

Enjoy all the beauty of the Oregon landscape at any of the scenic outdoor spots in Benton County. The E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area is the perfect place to get away from it all, featuring beautiful hiking trails and scenic campsites. For some of the best hiking and rock-climbing opportunities, be sure to check out Mary’s Peak, which offers majestic lookout points. Bring your friends and family to Riverfront Commemorative Park, which features walking paths, picnic areas, and much more. Other scenic outdoor spots in the county include the Alsea Falls Recreation Site and the Beazell Memorial Forest.

A great time is waiting at any of the amazing attractions in Benton County. The Arts Center is a can’t-miss for art-lovers, featuring a huge variety of paintings and sculptures made by talented artists. The Arts Center also hosts workshops, rotating exhibits, and special events. If you are interested in local history, then be sure to visit all the amazing exhibits and artifacts housed within the County Historical Museum. Check out the beautiful Darkside Cinema, which is independently owned and showcases both independent and art films. Other great attractions in the county include the Majestic Theater, Art in the Valley, and the LaSells Stewart Center.

A fun time for the whole family is waiting at all the exciting events held in Benton County. The County Fair and Rodeo bring out most of the local community to enjoy carnival rides, fun games, and delicious local food. Try a multitude of delicious drinks at Corvallis Beer Week. Other great events held in the county include the Corvallis Fall Festival and the Red Blue and Riverfront Festival.

Veteran Information

There are about 5,249 veterans currently living within Benton County, which offers assistance to veterans through:

Benton County is home to one VFW post:

  • Post 3957 Monroe Post – 605 Main Street, Monroe, Oregon 97456.

VA Medical Centers in the county:

  • Benton County VSO – 777 NW 9th Street, Suite 202, Corvallis, Oregon 97330.
  •  

VA Home Loan Information

  • For more information about VA Home Loans and how to apply, click here.
  • If you meet the VA’s eligibility requirements, you will be able to enjoy some of the best government guaranteed home loans available.  
  • VA loans can finance the construction of a property. However, the property must be owned and prepared for construction as the VA cannot ensure vacant land loans.

VA Approved Condos

There are currently no VA approved condos in Benton County, Oregon. However, if you’re interested in getting a condo through the approval process give us a call at (877) 432-5626. We can help you through the condo approval process.   

Oregon VA Loan Information: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/oregon-va-home-loan-limits/

VA Loan Information by State: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/va-loan-limit-maximum-va-loan-amount/

The post Benton County, Oregon VA Loan Information appeared first on VA Home Loan Centers.

Source: vahomeloancenters.org

New-year optimism reflected in mortgage applications jump

Mortgage applications jumped 16.7% after a 4.2% drop last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The jump underlines the seasonality behind last week’s decrease in mortgage rates, as well as the expectation of additional fiscal stimulus from the incoming administration, per MBA Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting Joel Kan.

“Booming refinance activity in the first full week of 2021 caused mortgage applications to surge to their highest level since March 2020, despite most mortgage rates in the survey rising last week,” Kan said.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate climbed two basis points to 2.88%, but the 15-year fixed rate fell to 2.39% — a survey low. The refinance index increased 20% from the previous week and was 93% higher than the same week one year ago.

“Even with the rise in mortgage rates, refinancing did not slow to begin the year, with the index hitting its highest level since last March,” said Kan. “Both conventional and government refinance applications increased, with applications for government loans having their strongest week since June 2012.”

The seasonally adjusted purchase index increased 8% after a 0.8% decrease from last week.

The FHA share of total applications decreased to 9.6% from 10.1% the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 15.8% from 13.6% the week prior.

“This is a positive sign of more lower-income and first-time buyers returning to the market,” Kan said.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of this week’s mortgage application data:

  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) increased to 2.88% from 2.86%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) increased to 3.17% from 3.08%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 2.93% from 2.90%
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to a survey-low 2.39% from 2.40%
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 2.66% from 2.63%

The post New-year optimism reflected in mortgage applications jump appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: housingwire.com

How COVID-19 is Affecting Mortgages

Coronavirus cases are increasing at a phenomenal rate and sending the economy into free-fall. Every industry will be affected in some way, but the housing market could be one of the hardest hit. Borrowers are struggling to pay their mortgages, lenders are seeing far fewer applications, and we could be just around the corner from a housing crisis akin to the decline of 2008.

So, what’s happening here, how is COVID-19 affecting mortgages and are we likely to see any major issues on the horizon?

How Will COVID-19 Impact Mortgages?

In early March, mortgage rates dropped to an all-time low, hinting at things to come. The rate for a 30-year fixed-term mortgage fell to 3.29%, compared to March of 2019 when rates were 4.14%. That may not seem like much of a difference, but the difference between 3.29% and 4.14% on a $200,000 30-year mortgage is around $35,000.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg; the start of the problem.

Experts predict that rates will continue to fall as we progress through 2020 and COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the US economy.

As noted in our recent guide to Coronavirus Mortgage Relief, lenders are already providing lenders with debt relief options to help them manage their mortgage in this difficult time. Foreclosure is expensive and it’s an expense that banks and credit unions can’t afford right now. They want homeowners to pay their bills and keep their homes and they will do everything they can to make that happen.

The federal government is also lending a helping hand by way of the CARES act, and we could see more significant moves on behalf of lenders and the government before the year draws to a close.

In other words, although big moves have been made and huge changes have taken place, all of this could pale in comparison to what happens when the pandemic is eradicated and the rebuilding process begins.

Can You Benefit from this?

If you’re a homeowner tied to a high-interest rate, you could benefit from the current reduced interest rates by refinancing your mortgage. You could do that now and capitalize on the all-time low rates mentioned above or wait to see what happens in the next few months.

In any case, you can get a much lower rate than what you already have and potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

It’s not about profiting from a bad situation, it’s about making life easier for yourself so you can navigate through this chaos. If your monthly mortgage payment is reduced, you’ll have more money in your pocket every month, which means you can put more cash towards unsecured debts and your monthly grocery bill.

It also reduces your chances of defaulting and being foreclosed upon in the future.

COVID-19 and the Housing Market

In the spring of 2019, the housing market was booming. It was a good time to invest in bricks and mortar and it seemed like there were some bright years ahead for homeowners and investors. 

In 2020, the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic fell on the country and now, a year on from that boom, the housing market has ground to a screeching halt. No one is selling because no one is buying. The market hasn’t necessarily crashed, but it has paused, and that could cause some huge problems in the near future.

What happens to all the homeowners who were selling their homes before this crisis and wanted to sell during? As soon as the pandemic fades away, they’ll all list their homes at the same time, and they’ll no doubt be joined by countless other homeowners who are selling because of the pandemic.

Once the market reopens, it will be flooded with homes for sale. At the same time, homeowners once ready to buy will now be struggling to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, while others will be hesitant of buying and will want to bide their time. Sellers will get desperate, prices will drop, and it will be a buyer’s market.

It’s hard to predict just how far house prices will fall or even if they will fall at all, but if the last few months are anything to go by, it’s fair to assume that the damage will be considerable.

Could it be a Seller’s Market?

While it seems most likely that post-pandemic USA will be a buyer’s market, it could also go the other way. Millions of Americans could be looking to purchase homes in 2020. If all of them are waiting for the end of the pandemic in the hope that the prices will be lower and the interest rates more favorable, they could overload the market.

Buyers may also be desperate to sink their money into bricks and mortar, believing it to be a safe investment and protection against any future economic issues. After all, when you rent, you’re always at the mercy of the landlord and have few guarantees that your home will still be your home months down the line.

That’s a scary thought in the middle of a pandemic, where it may be difficult, and in some cases impossible, to move into another property on short notice.

To remedy this, renters may be desperate to buy and may jump into the housing market as soon as the chaos dies down. A sudden rush of buyers will send the market in the opposite direction, allowing sellers to jack up their prices. 

COVID-19, Mortgages, and the Future of the Housing Market

Most of which we discussed above is speculation. We can predict the likelihood of it being a buyer’s market and of interest rates falling based on everything that has happened thus far, but we can’t say that it will happen for certain.

COVID-19 has made life very unpredictable. In December 2019, when word of the first Chinese cases began to filter to our shores, few could have guessed that just 3 months later, the world would be in lockdown, everyone would be going crazy for toilet paper, and people would be dying in their droves. 

At the beginning of the outbreak, when Europe was on its knees, President Trump was dismissive of the risks and suggested that everything would be okay, the US would be safe, and the virus would be fleeting. A few weeks later, the United States became the worst affected country and fatalities entered double figures.

It’s a novel pandemic that few predicted, and no one was prepared for, and as things stand it’s less about fighting the disease and more about avoiding it. 

As a result, we can’t be certain that the housing market will decline or that mortgage rates will drop. We just have to wait and see and hope that we all get through this with our lives, properties, and professions intact.

How COVID-19 is Affecting Mortgages is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

I Dropped Out of College: My Student Loan Repayment Options

No one intends to drop out of college. If you show up to campus for your freshman year, chances are you plan to graduate in four years and use your degree to land a job. Maybe you even have the whole thing mapped out, step-by-step.

But then life happens. Whether it’s a family emergency, deteriorating health, stress burnout, or just the realization that college isn’t the right choice, plenty of people choose to drop out of their university every year. The problem is, your student loans don’t go away just because you never ended up with a degree.

So how should someone in this position approach student loan repayment? Are there any unique considerations to take into account? Here’s what you need to know.

Choose an Income-Based Repayment Plan

If you have federal student loans, you’re eligible for the same repayment options available to borrowers with a degree.

You may currently be on the standard 10-year repayment plan, which will have the highest monthly payments and the lowest total interest. You have the option of switching to a less expensive option if you’re struggling with those payments. Use the official repayment calculator to see which plan lets you pay the least.

When you choose an extended, income-based, or graduated repayment plan, you’ll pay more interest overall than if you stuck with the standard plan. If you’re not working toward a specific forgiveness program, then it’s best to switch back to the standard plan as soon as you can afford it to minimize the interest.

Refinance Private Loans

Private student loans have fewer income-based repayment options than federal loans, and they rarely offer deferment or forbearance options. But you can refinance private loans for a lower interest rate, even if you dropped out.

There are a few lenders that service borrowers with uncompleted degrees.

These may include:

  • MEF
  • RISLA Student Loan Refinance
  • EDvestinU
  • PNC
  • Wells Fargo
  • Purefy
  • Discover Bank
  • Advance Education Loan
  • Citizens Bank

To be a good candidate for a student loan refinance, you must have a high credit score and no recent bankruptcies or defaults on your credit report. You also need a low debt-to-income ratio, and some lenders may have income requirements.

Financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz of SavingforCollege.com said borrowers are unlikely to be good refinance candidates immediately after college because lenders usually require a minimum amount of full-time employment.

If you dropped out recently, you may want to wait a year before trying to refinance private loans. During that time, check your credit score through Mint, pay all your bills on time, avoid opening new loans or lines of credit, and pay your credit card bill in full every month.

Explore Deferment and Forbearance

Once you leave school, you’re eligible for a six-month grace period where federal student loan payments are put on hold. You won’t accrue interest during this time if you have subsidized loans, but you will if you have unsubsidized loans.

If you still need more time after the grace period has expired, you can apply for deferment or forbearance. Borrowers have to apply for deferment and forbearance manually and wait to be approved.

Deferment and forbearance are both federal programs that let borrowers avoid paying their student loans while still remaining current. The main difference between the two options is that interest will not accrue on your loan balance during deferment, but it will accrue during forbearance. For that reason, it’s harder to qualify for deferment.

Be careful about putting your loans in deferment or forbearance for a long time. The interest that accrues will capitalize, meaning it will be added to your loan’s principal. This will increase your total monthly payments and could delay your debt payoff timeline.

Apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a program that encourages borrowers to choose a non-profit or government job. In exchange, your remaining loan balance will be forgiven after 10 year’s worth of payments, which do not have to be consecutive. It’s even available to borrowers who dropped out and never finished a degree.

“PSLF is always an option because it’s employer-dependent,” said student loan lawyer Joshua R. I. Cohen.

PSLF is only available for federal loans, and only those loans that are part of the Direct Loan Program. If you have FFEL or Perkins loans, you’ll have to consolidate them as part of the Direct Consolidation Program. This process will render them eligible for PSLF.

Be sure not to consolidate loans that are already part of the Direct Loan Program. If you’ve already been making payments, consolidating loans will restart the clock on PSLF, and you could lose credit for eligible payments you’ve already made.

The employer you work for must also be an eligible non-profit or government entity. Only full-time employees qualify for PSLF, which excludes part-time workers and independent contractors.

To be eligible for PSLF, you should fill out the employment certification form every year. This form asks for your employer’s contact information, your employment status, and more.

Once you submit the form, you should receive a notice verifying your employer and how many eligible payments you’ve made. Doing this every year will make it easier when you apply for forgiveness after your 120 payments have been made.

“It also gives borrowers an opportunity to dispute any errors or undercounts well before they reach eligibility for loan forgiveness, giving them plenty of time to address disputes,” said student loan lawyer Adam S. Minsky.

Borrowers can save money while working toward PSLF by choosing an income-based repayment plan instead of the standard 10-year plan. They also won’t owe taxes on the forgiven amount, so it’s best to choose the least expensive monthly option.

Try to Discharge Your Loans

If you couldn’t complete college because the department you were studying in closed, or your school committed fraud, you may be a good candidate for discharging your student loans completely. If this happened to you, contact a student loan lawyer who can help you file a case.

 

The post I Dropped Out of College: My Student Loan Repayment Options appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com