Financing

Found 32 blog entries about Financing.

Pile of money

By: Donna Fuscaldo
Source: HouseLogic

Energy tax credits on select improvements available through the end of tax year 2016.

If you upgraded one or more of the following systems last year, you may be eligible to take a tax credit -- up to $500 -- on your return.

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning
  • Insulation 
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights

The energy tax credits are small, but at least a credit is better than a deduction:

  • Deductions just reduce your taxable income.
  • With a credit, you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.

Limits on IRS energy tax credits besides

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Trading money for a key

Be prepared and know who's responsible for the variety of fees and expenses at the closing table.

  Buyer Cost Seller Cost Other
Down Payment      
Loan origination      
Points paid to receive a lower interest rate      
Home inspection      
Appraisal      
Credit report      
Mortgage insurance premium      
Escrow for homeowner's insurance
(if paid as part of the mortgage*)
     
Property tax escrow
(if paid as part of the mortgage*)
     
Deed recording      
Title insurance policy premiums      
Land survey      
Notary Fees  
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Couple standing in front of house

The tax deductions you’re eligible to take for mortgage interest* and property taxes greatly increase the financial benefits of home ownership. Let’s work through a hypothetical situation to see how it works.

If we assume the following:

$9,877 Mortgage interest paid (a loan of $150,000 for 30 years, at 7 percent, using year-five interest)
+$2,700  Property taxes (at 1.5 percent on $180,000 assessed value)
=$12,577 Total deduction

Then, multiply your total deduction by your tax rate.**

For example, at a 28 percent tax rate: $12,577 x 0.28 = $3,521.56

$3,521.56 = Amount by which you have lowered your federal income tax

*Mortgage interest may not be deductible on loans over $1.1 million. In addition, deductions are decreased when total

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Property tax folders

It’s natural for the sale price of a home to loom large in your mind. But don’t forget to look at what your property tax bill might be.

What is the assessed value of the property?

Assessed value is generally less than market value. A recent copy of the seller’s tax bill will help you determine this information.

How often are properties reassessed in this area?

In general, this will happen annually, but properties in areas of slower growth may be reassessed less often.

When was the last reassessment done on this property?

Most significant tax increases on an individual property can be linked to when that property was last reassessed.

Will the sale of the property trigger a tax increase?

Depending upon where you live, the

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Woman reviewing financial documents

Develop a budget: Use receipts and your banking transaction history to create a budget that reflects your actual habits over the last several months. This approach will better factor in unexpected expenses alongside more predictable costs such as utility bills and groceries. You’ll probably spot ways to save, whether it’s cutting out a Starbucks run or eating dinner at home more often.

Reduce debt: Lenders generally look for a debt load of no more than 36 percent of income. This figure includes your mortgage, which typically ranges between 25 and 28 percent of your net household income. So you need to get monthly payments on the rest of your installment debt—car loans, student loans, and revolving balances on credit cards — down to between 8 and 10

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Man holding credit score card

Credit scores play a big role in determining whether you’ll qualify for a loan and what your loan terms will be. So, keep your credit score high by doing the following:

Check for errors in your credit report.

Thanks to an act of Congress, you can download one free credit report each year at annualcreditreport.com. If you find any errors, correct them immediately.

Pay down credit card bills.

If possible, pay off the entire balance every month. Transferring credit card debt from one card to another could lower your score.

Don’t charge your credit cards to the max.

Pay down as much as you can every month.

Wait 12 months after credit difficulties to apply for a mortgage.

You’re penalized less severely for problems after a year.

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Credit Report

Credit scores range between 200 and 850, with scores above 620 considered desirable for obtaining a mortgage. The following factors affect your score:

Your payment history.

Did you pay your credit card bills on time? Bankruptcy filing, liens, and collection activity also affect your history.

How much you owe and where.

If you owe a great deal of money on numerous accounts, it can indicate that you are overextended. However, spreading debt among several accounts can help you avoid approaching the maximum on any individual credit line.

The length of your credit history.

In general, the longer an account has been open, the better.

How much new credit you have.

New credit—whether in the form of installment plans or new credit

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Woman holding a piggy bank

Investigate local, state, and national down payment assistance programs.

These programs give qualified applicants loans or grants to cover all or part of your required down payment. National programs include the Nehemiah program, Getdownpayment.com, and the American Dream Down Payment Fund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Explore seller financing.

In some cases, sellers may be willing to finance all or part of the purchase price of the home and let you repay them gradually, just as you would do with a mortgage. A similar option is the assumable mortgage, where a home buyer takes over the seller’s existing loan (with bank approval). This can be especially helpful when interest rates are on the rise.

Ask your family for

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Money changing hands

Term.

Mortgages are generally available at 15-, 20-, or 30-year terms. In general, the longer the term, the lower the monthly payment. However, shorter terms mean you pay less interest over the life of the loan.

Fixed vs. adjustable interest rates.

A fixed rate allows you to lock in a low interest rate as long as you hold the mortgage and, in general, is a good choice if interest rates are low. An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) usually offers a lower rate that will rise as market rates increase. ARMs usually have a limit as to how much and how frequently the interest rate can be increased. These types of mortgages are a good choice when fixed interest rates are high or if you expect your income to grow significantly in the coming years.

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Appraiser inspecting a property

Once you are under contract, your lender will send out an appraiser to make sure the purchase price is in line with the property’s value.

Appraisals help guide mortgage terms.

The appraised value of a home is an important factor in the loan underwriting process. Although lenders may use the sale price to determine the amount of the mortgage they will offer, they generally only do so when the property is sold for less than the appraisal amount. Also, the loan-to-value ratio is based on the appraised value and helps lenders figure out how much money may be borrowed to purchase the property and under what terms. If the LTV is high, the lender is more likely to require the borrower to purchase private mortgage insurance.

Appraised value is not a

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