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A lot of people I know have put off buying a house, but statistics show that a lot of millenials in particular are starting to change that trend. If you are going to buy a house and you have student loan debt it’s important to get your ducks in a row, and that should mean talking to the advisors you may have in your life. And advisor could be family or friends, but it’s important to talk to professionals about bit life moments like this so that you can set yourself up for success. I hope you enjoy this little article, and I’d love your feedback!
The majority of millennials don’t own a home — and many have student loans to blame for that. According to a recent survey from Bankrate, a whopping 61% of millennials don’t yet own a home, and nearly a quarter of them say student loan debt is the culprit.
Data from the Federal Reserve shows that 43% of college grads have taken on student loan debt, and as of 2018, the average debtor still owes between $20,000 to $25,000 on their balance.
These debts hold back potential homebuyers two-fold: first, through higher debt-to-income ratios that lenders steer clear of, and second, by making it harder to save for a down payment.
Fortunately, as difficult as it may seem, student loan debt doesn’t preclude you from buying a house. While it does make the process more challenging, there are ways to make it happen. And your financial foundation? That’s the first step.
If you’re looking to buy your first house, but student loan debts are holding you back, this guide can help you navigate the process and come out on top.
Step 1: Improve your debt-to-income ratio
One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of getting a mortgage loan is to lower your debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio(or DTI) is one of the most important factors a lender will look at when evaluating your application. They want to ensure you have the cash flow to handle your new mortgage payment, while also staying current on all your existing debts (student loans included).
For most mortgage loans, you can’t have a DTI higher than 28% on the front-end in order to be considered a good candidate. On the back-end, which includes your estimated mortgage and housing expense, 36% is the max. If you don’t fall under this threshold, then there are a few things you can do to improve it:
Pay down your debts where possible. Work on whittling down your student loan debts, credit card debts, and other balances. Use your tax refunds, holiday bonuses, or any extra funds you have to make a dent; even a small reduction in balances can help.
Increase your income. If you’ve been at your job a while, you may be able to ask for a raise. If not, a second job, side gig, or freelance work may be able to help supplement your income and improve your DTI.
Refinance or consolidate your student loans. By refinancing on consolidating your student loans, you can lower your monthly payment (and the interest you pay), improving your DTI in the process.
Enroll in an income-based repayment plan. Income-driven repayment plans allow you to lower your monthly student loan payments so that they’re more aligned with your current income level. These typically allow you to make payments as low as 10-15% of your monthly income.
Your credit score also plays a big role in your mortgage application, as it tells lenders how risky you are as a borrower. A higher score will typically mean an easier approval process and, more importantly, a lower interest rate on your loan.
Making consistent, on-time student loan payments is a good way to build credit and increase your score. Additionally, you can also:
Lower your credit utilization rate. Your credit utilization rate is essentially how much of your total available credit you’re utilizing. The less you’re using, the better it is for your score. (Credit utilization accounts for 30% of your total score).
Pay your bills on time. Payment history is another 35% of your score, so make sure to pay every bill (credit cards, loans, even your gym bill) on time, every time. Set up autopay if you need to, as late payments can send your score plummeting.
Keep paid-off accounts open. The length of your credit history matters, too, accounting for 15% of your score. Leaving long-standing accounts open (even once paid off) can help you in this department.
Avoid new credit lines. Don’t apply for any new credit cards or loans as you prepare to buy a home. These require hard credit inquiries, which can have a negative impact on your score.
Finally, make sure to check your credit report often. If you spot an error or miscalculation, report it to the credit bureau immediately to get it remedied.
Step 3: Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you house hunt
Hunting for that dream house is definitely the most exciting part of the process, but before you can start, you first need to get pre-approved for your mortgage loan. For one, a pre-approval lets you know how big a loan you’ll likely qualify for, which can help guide your home search and ensure you stay on budget. Additionally, a pre-approval can show sellers you’re serious about a home purchase and may give you a leg up on other buyers.
When applying for pre-approval, you’ll need to:
Provide information regarding your income, debts, past residences, employment, and more. You will also need to agree to a credit check.
You’ll need to know what down payment you can offer. If you’re going to use gift money from a loved one, you’ll need a gift letter (from the donor) saying it doesn’t need to be paid back.
You’ll have to provide some documentation. Your lender will need recent pay stubs, bank statements, W-2s, tax returns, and other financial paperwork in order to evaluate your application.
If you want your pre-approval application to go smoothly, go ahead and gather up your financial documentation early, and have it ready to go once your lender requests it.
Step 4: Consider down payment assistance
If your student loans are making it hard to save up that down payment (and you don’t have gift money coming from a family member or other donor), then you’re not completely out of luck. In fact, there are actually a number of assistance programs that can help you cover both your down payment and closing costs on your loan.
The assistance usually takes one of four forms:
A down payment grant. These are interest-free and do not need to be repaid
Forgivable second mortgages. These are technically second mortgage loans (on top of the one used to finance your house) but are forgiven if you live in the home for a certain number of years.
Traditional second mortgage. There are also programs that give you assistance via a low-interest loan. These need to be paid off monthly, just as your initial loan does.
Matched savings programs. These programs encourage you to save up funds in a dedicated down payment savings account. Then, the institution or agency offering the program matches those funds (usually up to a certain point).
Be a military member, veteran, or public servant (teacher, firefighter, EMT, etc.)
Commit to a certain level of savings each month
Agencies may also consider your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and other financial factors when evaluating your application for assistance. The location you’re buying in (and its median income) could also play a role.
Step 5: Look into first-time homebuyer loans and programs
In addition to down payment assistance programs, you can also leverage one of the many first-time homebuyer mortgage programs that are out there — both through the federal government and state-based agencies. All of these programs offer low interest rates, and several require no down payment at all. This can be hugely beneficial if you’re dealing with a heavy student loan burden.
Check out the table below for a list of federal first-time homebuyer programs and the specific requirements for each.
Another option: State first-time home buyer programs
Individual states also have their own first-time home buyer programs and assistance offerings. Many of these help with closing costs, down payments, and more. There are also state-backed loan programs that can reduce your interest rate, lower your monthly payment, and help you save significantly over the course of your loan if you qualify.
You’ll find a full list of state-specific resources at HUD.gov.
Step 6: Find a co-borrower
If you have a fellow grad or a friend or family member who also wants to get out of the rent race, teaming up to buy a house could benefit you both. In this scenario, they become your “co-borrower,” applying for the mortgage loan jointly with you.
The advantage here is that it would allow both of your incomes and credit profiles to impact the application. That could mean a higher loan balance, an easier approval process, or a lower interest rate if they have a solid financial foundation. You can also pool your savings for a bigger down payment — another step that will lower your monthly housing costs and save you big on long-term interest.
If you don’t want to outright purchase a house with someone else, you could also ask a friend or relative to become a co-signer or guarantor on your loan. This would allow lenders to consider their income and credit on your loan application, but it wouldn’t actually give them ownership of the property.
The bottom line
Student loan debt can be a drag, especially if you’re trying to buy a house. Fortunately, there are options. By taking advantage of the right loan programs, working on your credit and DTI, and teaming up with the right partners, you can improve your chances significantly (not to mention, lower the cost of buying a home — both up front and for the long haul).
The people I spend time with who have been the most successful financially have virtually all planned to get there. Sometimes it is important to remind yourself and those around you that making a plan and sticking to it is a very good idea. So if you are thinking about selling your house now is a good time to start making a plan, even if you aren’t selling for a few years. Plans can be changed, but making a plan in the first place is the part where people seem to get stuck. I’ve said this before, but Dave Ramsey and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, but I sure do appreciate how well he pushes people to plan. He is very aggressively against any and all debt, and there are pluses and minuses to that depending on how you would like to use your money to grow wealth. The average citizen is not an aggressive investor and thus should consider emplementing these ideas to attack debt in their life. I hope that you enjoy this article, and I’d love your feedback.
Almost every day, someone calls The Dave Ramsey Show to ask Dave if he thinks they’re ready to buy a home. But there’s another side of homeownership that doesn’t get as much attention: When are you ready to sell your house?It’s an important question to answer since selling at the wrong time can cause trouble for years to come.
7 Signs You’re Ready to Sell Your House
Should I sell my house? If you’ve been asking yourself this question lately, we’ve got good news: It’s a great market for sellers! Limited inventory continues to drive home prices up, and the latest data from the National Association of Realtors shows that nearly half of recently sold properties were on the market for less than a month.(1)
Of course, the decision to sell your house isn’t based solely on market conditions. You have to take your personal situation into account—and that’s where expert advice comes in handy.
Here are seven signs you’re ready to sell your house:
1. You’ve got equity on your side.
For most homeowners, being financially ready to sell your house comes down to one factor: equity. During the housing meltdown of 2008–09, millions of homeowners found themselves with negative equity, which meant they owed more on their homes than they were worth.
Clearly, selling your home when you have negative equity is a bad deal. That’s called a short sale. Breaking even on your home sale is better, but it’s still not ideal. If you’re in either situation, don’t sell unless you have to in order to avoid bankruptcy or foreclosure.
For the last several years, home values have been on the rise—by leaps and bounds in many cases—and that means most homeowners are building equity. Their homes are now worth more than they owe on them, and that trend will persist as they pay down their mortgages and home values continue to increase.
Figuring out how much equity you have may sound complicated, but the math is actually simple. Here’s how it works:
First, grab your latest mortgage statement and find your current mortgage balance.
Next, you’ll need to know your home value. While it’s tempting to use figures from online valuation sites to determine how much your home is worth, they’re not always accurate. Ask an experienced real estate agent to run a free comparative market analysis (CMA) for the best estimate.
Once you have those two numbers in hand, simply subtract your current mortgage balance from your home’s estimated market value. The difference will give you a good idea of how much equity you have to work with.
So how much equity is enough? At the very least you want to have enough equity to pay off your current mortgage with enough left over to provide a 20% down payment. But if your sale can also cover your closing costs, moving expenses and an even larger down payment—that’s even better. Additionally, putting 20% or more down on a home keeps private mortgage insurance (PMI) at bay. That could save you hundreds of dollars each year!
2. You’re out of debt with cash in the bank.
If you didn’t have all your financial ducks in a row your first time around the home-buying block, you probably learned a few things the hard way. Like the fact that Murphy can smell “broke” from miles away. If it can go wrong, it will! Put those lessons to good use and be a money-smart home buyer the next go-round!
Start by taking a hard look at your finances. If you’ve paid off all your nonmortgage debt and have three to six months of expenses in your emergency fund, that’s a good sign you’re financially mature enough to purchase a home again.
3. You can afford to buy a home that fits your lifestyle better.
Another factor to consider is how well your home meets your everyday needs. Perhaps you could use another bedroom (or even two) to accommodate your growing family. Or maybe your kids have all moved out and you’re ready to downsize. Empty nesters can really benefit from selling while rates are low. It’s freeing to sell a large home, pay cash for a smaller one, and invest the rest for your retirement.
Whether you’re sizing up or down, make sure your mortgage fits your budget. Dave recommends keeping your monthly payment to 25% or less of your take-home pay on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.
4. You can cash-flow the move.
Don’t get so carried away by the excitement of your next home that you forget to account for the cost of leaving your current one. Hiring professional movers? Save up cash to cover the cost of packing up and hauling your stuff away.
You should also invest a little to get your current place ready for prime time. Focus your home improvement dollars on paint, curb appeal, plus kitchen and bath upgrades. A little bit of fresh paint and elbow grease can go a long way into making a great impression—and getting your home sold fast!
Want a bonus tip that doesn’t cost a dime? Clear out the clutter. Neat closets and tidy shelves make your home look larger!
If the numbers show you’re financially ready to make a move, great! But don’t forget—selling your home is an emotional issue, too. Before you plant the “For Sale” sign in the front yard, take a minute to answer just a few more questions:
Are you ready to put in the work to get your house ready for house hunters?
Are you committed to keeping it ready to show for weeks or months?
Are you ready to hear the reasons why potential buyers believe your home is not perfect?
Are you ready for honest—and sometimes hardball—negotiations over what buyers are willing to pay for your home?
Are you really ready to move out and leave the place where your family has made memories?
Don’t get us wrong; we’re not trying to talk you out of selling your home! We just want you to be completely ready when you do decide to move on to the next stage of your family’s life.
A qualified real estate agent will give you a clear picture of what it’s like to sell your house, and also help you discern if now is the right time for you, both financially and emotionally.
6. You Understand the Market (a Little Bit)
No one can predict how the housing market will perform. But the National Association of Realtors expects modest growth for existing homes in 2018. Despite the possibility of rising mortgage rates, home sales in 2018 are forecasted to grow around 7% percent, with the median price increasing 5%.(2)
Home Values Are Riding High
With rents up and mortgage rates down, many renters are looking to buy their first home. There’s just one problem: They’re having trouble finding homes for sale within their price range.
According to Trulia, there are 20% fewer entry-level homes on the market today than there were this time last year.(3) A lot of investors snatched up bargains on entry-level homes when the market was down and turned them into rental properties.
If you took economics in school, you learned all about supply and demand. When supply is down and demand goes up, prices trend upwards as well. That means your home might be worth more than you think. Consider the numbers:
According to the National Realtors Association, U.S. homes are on the market an average of only 34 days, that’s four less than last year.(4)
Recent listings of starter homes are 8% less than searches, which means there are more house hunters than homes available for sale (5).
In other words, the market’s hot for just about any home seller—but especially if you’ve got a starter home to sell.
7. You Have a Real Estate Agent
The reasons already mentioned are essential to consider before selling your home this year. But remember, your real estate market is unique—and so is your financial situation. Consult an experienced real estate agent to find out how the 2018 housing market is shaping up in your area so you can decide if a sale makes financial sense for your family.
Partner with a pro you can trust to provide honest advice so you can do what’s best for you and your budget. A good agent puts service before sales—but knows how to get things done when it’s time to sell.Selling your home is a big deal. A real estate agent does more than just schedule showings of your home. They bring experience and confidence to the table when they handle their many job duties, which include:
Giving you advice about updates or repairs that will make your home more attractive
Helping you set a price for your home
Marketing your home so it receives as much exposure to potential buyers as possible
Scheduling showings with potential buyers
Advising you as you negotiate offers
Handling all the required paperwork
We can put you in touch with several agents in your area who have earned Dave’s recommendation as a real estate Endorsed Local Provider (ELP).
When it comes to selling homes, our ELPs rise to the top. According to a six-month survey of home buyers and sellers who used an ELP versus those who used other real estate agents, our ELPs are twice as fast at selling homes and twice as likely to sell your home above asking price.
Don’t trust an amateur with one of your biggest financial investments. Work with a high-octane agent who knows your market
An experienced real estate agentcan help you navigate the search for your next home, too. Be sure to have some backup options ready in case your home sells quickly and you can’t find a new place you love right away. You don’t want to rush into a home you can’t afford or don’t really like just because it’s available.
I’ve had multiple conversations with people who did not think that this was true, but in large part this is a conversation that we’ve been having in Norman about Norman more specifically. I anecdotally believe that graduates and those just older are leaving town, and the state. So, if that’s true what might change this trend? I would love to hear feedback from others though!
Oklahoma’s population growth rate is at its lowest since 1990 according to new study from the Kansas City Federal Reserve. That’s because Oklahoma lost more residents to other states than it gained over the past three years, with college graduates leading the way.
“Even in the best times we’ve had in 30 years, still we’re slowly bleeding folks with bachelor’s degrees,” said economist Chad WIlkerson, who led the research.
Oklahoma’s economy has rebounded since the the 2014-15 oil bust, but the state still lost thousands of working age residents from 2015 to 2017.
“The people who left, on net, were between age 25 and 54, so prime working age, Wilkerson said.“It has to do with the job opportunities here relative to other places. It’s not just total job availability, but the kinds of jobs relative to the skills people have.”
The decrease in overall domestic migration marks a reversal from the previous ten years, but the loss of highly educated workers is an acceleration of an ongoing pattern. The study found Oklahoma lost about 10,000 more college graduates than it gained in the ten years from 2005 to 2015. The pace increased significantly from 2015 to 2017, resulting in a net loss of over 11,000 in just three years.
Wilkerson suspects the energy industry may be driving the change. He pointed to a previous study showing the industry can now produce more with fewer workers. Wilkerson said cuts to state services, like education, could have something to do with it also.
The two outliers were young people and those with limited education. Unlike the other groups in the study, people ages 25 and under and those with a high school diploma or less continued moving to Oklahoma.
What Happens to You and Your Stuff if You Don’t Make It Back from Spring Break?
By Claire Carter Bailey of the Law Offices of Bailey & Poarch
Morbid? Maybe, but Benjamin Franklin was right, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yes, you too will die. And most likely, before then, you’ll be incapacitated for some period of time.
So, who will make your medical decisions? What factors will impact that person emotionally, financially, and relationally during that time? Who will live in your house? Who will pay the bills? What will happen to your family? Does anyone know the location of the courthouse? How much is all this going to cost?
What you think will happen:
You may have considered these questions and have a plan in mind. However, absent proper legal documents, your wishes may not come to fruition. A common misconception is that your property will pass automatically to your loved ones or that they will be able act on your behalf.
What will actually happen:
If you haven’t considered these and other issues in awhile, someone else has on your behalf—the Oklahoma legislature. And with the help of a judge, many months, and thousands of dollars, all these decisions will be made without your consultation.
Not what you had mind? Yeah, me either.
Now that we’ve gotten the bad news out of the way and before you panic, imagine that instead of worrying about it or passing your problems on to your loved ones and your decisions on to someone you’ve never met, you have an instruction manual, often called an estate plan, with everything needed to handle your legal and personal affairs. One of the best gifts you can give your loved ones during an already difficult time is the space to grieve free from difficult decisions, fights, and a costly drawn out process. By preparing an estate plan, you protect your health, home, assets, and family.
The tools in the toolbox:
An estate plan is nothing more than a collection of documents that address the specific medical and financial issues of the person for whom they are prepared. It is a way to opt out of Uncle Sam’s one-size-fits-all approach.
Determining which documents belong in each estate plan and what those documents say is like selecting and using the correct tools and materials to build a house. A house must be built with the occupants in mind. A ruler is sufficient to build a dollhouse but is too small to build a
doghouse; a handsaw works for a birdhouse but is inadequate to build a house for people. (Although I recommend saving the hassle of building your own house and calling your boy Grady!)
Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all process. Some estate planning tools are universal like durable powers of attorney which give others the authority to act on your behalf in the event you are unable to handle your own affairs, wills which set out your wishes for the court to direct absent a fully funded trust, and payable on death designations which transfer funds in your bank accounts. Other tools, like specialty trusts, are used in cases with unique needs such as large estates with generation skipping gifts or special needs children who rely on government aid.
The swiss army knife of estate planning:
The revocable living trust is a basic trust that transcends death and has complex features that address both financial and medical issues. It can be changed or revoked, hold assets, direct that funds be dispersed to a beneficiary on a specified schedule, allow for a trustee to step in during times of incapacity, save money through avoiding a guardianship and probate, protect your privacy by preventing your affairs from being published in public online records, and so much more.
There was a day in which trusts were primarily used as tax avoidance tools for the wealthy. But trusts are no longer only for the rich and famous. In fact, for most people, they are a means of saving money.
Setting up an estate plan is a phone call away:
Determining your specific needs and seeing around the corner to what you’ll need in the future requires more than a google search. We have an estate planning toolbox and know how to use each tool. Let us explain your options and provide a custom instruction manual for your loved ones with everything they will need to address the legal and logistical issues to your specifications.
With a large number of people expecting an economic downturn sometime in the next year it’s important that we keep an eye on global markets. Places like Oklahoma won’t be affect as severely when crashes happen, but we will be affected. There are people who would disagree with Mr. Rattner, but I tend to agree with him, and I think it’s worth sharing this information to my clients/friends. Rattner was the Car Czar during the auto-bailout, and he’s been in the trenches. I happen to appreciate him a little extra due to his focus on trimming the debt – he’s very involved with the group Fix The Debt, and if you are interested in geo/national economics that is one corner of the ring that would be worth keeping an eye on. I hope you get something out of this article.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, Steven Rattner presented charts showing the failure of Trump’s tariffs to shrink the trade deficit with China while at the same time inflicting substantial pain on American farmers and other targeted sectors.
President Trump is pushing hard for a trade deal with China and it’s not hard to see why: his trade war is not going well. Last week, the government reported that the United States’ trade deficit (in goods) hit a record $891 billion last year, as imports grew faster than exports.
To date, the tariffs that Mr. Trump has imposed on imports from China have had no significant impact. Since Mr. Trump began imposing his tariffs, imports from China have risen by $19 billion to a record $540 billion as Americans kept purchasing cellphones, computers, clothing and the many other items that China makes better and cheaper than we do (or used to do). All told, imports from China amount to 22% of what comes into the United States from foreign countries each year.
With imports rising and American exports to China falling, our trade deficit (in goods) with China rose last year to $419 billion, 24% above where it was just a year earlier.
Contrary to what Mr. Trump says, his tariffs are not paid by China; they are paid by American companies and consumers in the form of higher prices.
Part of the rising trade deficit results from retaliatory tariffs that China has imposed on exports from the United States. Indeed, Chinese exports from the United States declined 7.4% last year. China has been extremely clever about targeting its own tariffs to items that are disproportionately exported from “red states” that Mr. Trump carried in 2016. Texas faces tariffs on its exports of propane, sorghum and cotton. For Michigan, Alabama and South Carolina, the issue is autos. (Smaller retaliatory tariffs have been imposed by Mexico, Canada and the European Union).
China has also taken aim at American exports of soybeans; before it imposed a 25% tariff on imports from us, China purchased about one-third of our entire soybean crop. As this chart shows, soybean prices collapsed last spring as rumors of the Chinese action began to circulate and the country began to dramatically scale back its purchases. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Trump won eight of the 10 states that are the biggest producers of soybeans. Another way to look at it: soybean-producing counties went for Mr. Trump by a margin of more than 12 percentage points.
While soybean prices have recovered somewhat from their lows, even if China resumes its purchases, it may be a good while before prices fully recover; soybean stockpiles in the United States are currently about twice their historic average.