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Mortgage

Feb 11, 2019 If you’re young and you're looking to purchase a new home to live in, maybe you should consider turning your first home into an investment property. While most people wait until after they've bought their first or second home to begin investing in real estate, you could start much sooner than you think. We'll explain why jumping into the real estate investing game might be a good idea. Read More...

Apr 22, 2019 Paying off your mortgage ahead of schedule could be a good idea if you want to save money on interest. In the process of getting rid of your home loan just one or two years early, you could potentially save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. But if you're planning to take that approach, it's important to avoid the pitfalls that some homeowners run into. Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 First-time homebuyer programs throughout the country help hopeful homeowners even if they are low- to moderate-income individuals. These programs also assist Americans in securing  mortgages when they don't have the best credit scores. Some even cater to specific professions like those in law enforcement, education and the military. Read More...

Feb 13, 2019 The  debt-to-income ratio is one of the most important factors mortgage lenders use to evaluate the creditworthiness of borrowers. It measures the size of your monthly debt burden relative to the size of your monthly pay. And in addition to your credit score and other financial information, it helps lenders decide whether you're capable of taking on another loan. Worried that you have too much debt to buy a house? Let's look at what lenders have to say about the ideal debt-to-income ratio for mortgages. Read More...

Feb 13, 2019 It’s no secret that living in New York City is darn expensive. Before the average NYC resident’s paycheck even reaches the bank, she’s shelling out some of the highest income taxes in the country, with total rates ranging from 7% to 12%. After that, she’s facing some of the least affordable housing in the country, along with prices for every-day products that are up to twice the national averages. Read More...

Sep 20, 2018 Big-city living comes with quite a few perks. Grocery stores and shopping centers are often in walking distance and there are usually plenty of restaurants, bars and activities close by. But when you live in a city with a high cost of living, you have less purchasing power. You might spend a lot more on housing, food and healthcare than you would if you lived somewhere else. Read More...

May 27, 2016 Though the U.S. doesn't rank as the happiest country in the world (that honor goes to Denmark) Americans report high levels of life satisfaction. The U.S. ranked 13th in a recent World Happiness Report that looked at 156 countries. But how do individual counties within the U.S. stack up in the happiness stakes? Let's take a look. Read More...

Jun 19, 2018 Feeling the lure of the Windy City? Ready to make your home in the Jewel of the Midwest? We don't blame you. Chicago combines the features of a major city with a small-town feel and Midwestern friendliness. Here are 13 tips for anyone considering moving to Chicago.  Read More...

Aug 20, 2018 Alaska, also known as the Great Land, is on many people's travel bucket list. If you visit Alaska on vacation and fall in love with it, you may decide you want to move to the country's 49th state. While Alaska famously offers an annual check to each of the state's residents, the high cost of living may offset this perk.  We've also identified the top financial advisor firms in Anchorage to help you manage your assets. Here's what you need to know about expenses in the state, as well as what you can expect to pay in each of the following major expense categories. Read More...

Apr 05, 2017 In the wake of the housing crisis last decade, homeownership rates declined markedly. In 2005, more than 69% of American households owned the home they lived in. Today that rate is just 64%. The decline has been especially steep among young homeowners. At the end of 2015, less than 35% of adults under the age of 35 owned their home. Read More...

Feb 03, 2017 After reaching historic lows, mortgage rates are once again on the rise. But homeowners who are looking to refinance can still get a great deal. A mortgage refinance can certainly help you keep more cash in your pocket but you need to weigh the pros and cons before you sign on the dotted line. If you're wondering whether now's the time to take out a new home loan, here are three reasons why it makes good financial sense. Read More...

May 21, 2018 Do you owe more on your mortgage loan than what your home is worth? You're not alone. In the third quarter of 2013 6.4 million homeowners were similarly underwater on their homes. That comes out to 13 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage. Read More...

Apr 25, 2019 A VA loan could be a great financing option for a veteran looking to become a homeowner. These loans often give active and former service members the opportunity to buy homes without making a down payment or paying for mortgage insurance. The VA limits how much veterans can contribute to closing costs. But one cost most VA borrowers can’t avoid is the VA funding fee. This is a one-time fee for VA loan borrowers that must be paid before a veteran can close on a home. Read More...

Apr 25, 2019 A jumbo loan is a type of mortgage designed to finance luxury homes or those in highly competitive real estate markets. Limits for these loans vary by location but it typically hovers around $484,350 for most of the country. However, you can’t get these loans through government-sponsored entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But don’t worry. As you go about securing a jumbo loan, also known as a jumbo mortgage, consider connecting with a financial advisor for hands-on guidance throughout the process. Read More...

Apr 24, 2019 Low- and middle-income families who want to buy homes may be able to get a bond loan. State and local authorities issue bond loans to subsidize the cost of becoming a homeowner for those who meet certain income requirements, either by lowering interest rates or offering cash assistance. Curious about how bond loans work? We've got you covered. We can also help you find a financial advisor to work with if you want to improve your finances to secure a conventional mortgage with favorable terms and rates.  Read More...

Apr 24, 2019 Scrounging up the money for a standard 20% down payment on a home can be a challenge for some. If you fall short of this prespecified amount, you will likely encounter private mortgage insurance, or PMI. PMI is there to safeguard lenders from the possible perils that a mortgage with a low down payment could induce. For those that prefer small down payments, though, PMI is virtually unavoidable. Below, we take a closer look at what PMI is, how much it'll cost you and how to cancel it. Read More...

Apr 24, 2019 Choosing a mortgage is an integral part of the home buying process. Opting for a 15-year mortgage term instead of the traditional 30-year term seems like a smart move, right? Not necessarily. Going with a shorter mortgage term does have some interest-saving benefits. However, if your income is too low for a 15-year term, a 30-year mortgage will be cheaper on a monthly basis. If you're on the fence about which type of mortgage you should choose, take a look below to figure out which one is right for you. Read More...

Apr 24, 2019 When you refinance a mortgage, you take out a new loan to pay off the old one. This time, you aim for a lower interest rate and better terms. However, refinancing a mortgage can be a risky process. It's important to be informed so you can make intelligent decisions throughout the process. It may also be a good decision to  find a financial advisor who can guide you through the entire refi journey. Read More...

Apr 16, 2019 To get preapproved for a mortgage, you'll need a few documents detailing your income, assets and debt obligations. This helps banks and other mortgagees determine exactly how much they're willing to lend you. Getting preapproved also helps you understand how much house you can afford, so you won't get your heart set on a home outside your budget. We'll walk you through this checklist. We can also assist you with  finding a financial advisor who can guide you through the entire home-buying process. Read More...

Apr 16, 2019 A subprime mortgage is a type of home loan issued to borrowers with low credit scores (often below 600) who wouldn’t qualify for conventional mortgages. They usually come with much higher interest rates and down payments than conventional options. Taking out a subprime mortgage is rarely a good idea. You may be better off working with a financial advisor to rebuild your credit before applying for a subprime mortgage. But if it’s your only option, there are some points you need to know. Read More...

Apr 23, 2019 Saving for a home can take years, which sometimes makes the idea of switching from renting to buying a daunting one even if you have some help. But if you’re on your own, buying a home can be even more challenging. Not only do you need to have enough money to make a down payment by yourself, but you need to make enough each month to afford  mortgage payments as well. That doesn’t mean you need to set aside this dream. With some thoughtful planning and detailed information, residents in many cities are successfully making the leap. Below, we look at the latest data to find the cities with the highest single homeownership rate. Read More...

Apr 11, 2019 With shows like "Flip or Flop" and "Property Wars" attracting TV viewers, Americans have become more interested than ever in how to buy a foreclosed home. If you can purchase an inexpensive home, your mortgage payments will be low for the life of the loan. Buying a foreclosure can seem like a complicated and potentially expensive process. But it's actually not so different from buying a regular home. Read More...

Apr 11, 2019 When you're buying a home, there are multiple ways that you can go about paying for it. You can secure a mortgage by finding a bank or credit union in your area that offers home loans. There are also plenty of online lenders, like Rocket Mortgage and SoFi. You also have the option of getting a loan through a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), such as Fannie Mae. Read More...

Apr 09, 2019 In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to borrow any money because you'd always have enough. In reality, there are times when you don't have the cash for your child's tuition bill, your own  student loan payments or other bills. To get some relief, it's possible to leverage the equity you've already built up in your home through your down payment and mortgage payments to secure a loan. That's called taking a home equity line of credit (HELOC), and to secure this loan from a lender, you are using your house as collateral.  Read More...

Apr 11, 2019 Buying a home can be both an amazing and stressful process at the same time. But tackling the huge expense of a home in one fell swoop is often difficult for an individual or family to handle. That's where mortgages come in. Typically in exchange for a down payment, a lender will grant you a mortgage loan to allow you to finance your home with an interest rate attached.  Read More...

Apr 09, 2019 Searching for the best rates and terms for your mortgage can be hard to do on your own. That's why some homebuyers opt to work with a mortgage broker, the middleman of the home loan market. Instead of going to each lender for a rate quote yourself, a mortgage broker does the legwork for you. Brokers generally receive compensation from the lender you end up working with or from fees you pay. If you decide to go with a particular mortgage broker, always be sure to calculate your prospective  mortgage costs to have a full understanding of what it could run you. Read More...

Apr 09, 2019 Owning a home is an important financial goal for many Americans. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that at the end of 2018, approximately 64% of people owned their homes. Whether homeownership is affordable for you is the first question to consider, and it’s often a tough one. That’s especially true for buyers in some of America’s biggest cities. While the costs of homeownership may make realizing this dream seem aspirational, it doesn’t have to be. With more information and some sound planning, you may be able to achieve homeownership sooner than you think. Using a down payment of 20% as a benchmark, we investigated where you would need to save the longest to afford a down payment. Read More...

Apr 08, 2019 Qualifying for a mortgage isn't easy. Some lenders have strict requirements and weed out applicants with poor credit or too much debt. A possible alternative for those determined to buy a house is something called "seller financing." This process, as its name implies, means the home's owner will finance the purchase for the buyer. But whether this is a good idea is something you'll need to consider carefully.  Read More...

Apr 08, 2019 Your balloon mortgage loan might have seemed like a good idea when you first applied for it. Maybe it meant that your monthly mortgage payments have been lower so they fit into your budget. But now your mortgage balloon payment is due and you can't afford to make it. Before you start panicking, it's important to keep in mind that you do have some options. Read More...

Mar 27, 2019 A mortgagee is a lending institution that issues mortgages. In most cases, the mortgagee is a bank or credit union. The mortgagee has special legal rights on the real estate that mortgages are tied to. This article will explain what a mortgagee does and how your mortgage works. We can also help you find a financial advisor in your area who can guide you through the entire home buying process. Read More...

Feb 28, 2019 Imagine this scenario: You work hard every day for years at a job you love. You put as much money as you can away for retirement, you support your family and live comfortably. After years of responsible behavior and sound financial planning, you decide to buy a dream vacation home. Maybe it’s nestled on some white sand or sitting atop a mountain in the Adirondacks. To make this all happen, you approach your bank to take out a mortgage on a second home. Before you make any major decisions however, make sure you break down the pros and cons of such an investment. Below, we'll explain some key factors you'd want to consider before buying a second home. Read More...

Nov 12, 2018 Providing your Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, secure method of identifying yourself. However, even this method is susceptible to fraud, especially if your SSN falls into the wrong hands. In situations where you need to prove that the SSN you’re providing is the number assigned to you, you can use Form SSA-89. In this guide, we’ll discuss what the form is, who should use it, how to fill it out and how to send it in. Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 Between vibrant cities like Nashville and quiet towns deep in the Appalachians, Tennessee has something for everyone. Life in the Volunteer State means steeping yourself in history, culture and natural beauty. This all while enjoying below-average mortgage rates and some of the country’s lowest property taxes. Still, buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll make in your life. That’s why the federal government and Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) offer first-time homebuyer programs to help you navigate the process. Check out the below options and consider enlisting a Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 No matter where you hope to live in Louisiana, you’ll never be far from great music, delicious food and exciting activities. Unfortunately, picking a mortgage is much harder than picking a neighborhood, but  first-time homebuyer program could help. Both the federal and Louisiana state governments sponsor several first-time homebuyer programs that make home ownership easier and more affordable for all kinds of would-be borrowers. If you need help deciding, use the SmartAsset… Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 With expansive plains, bustling river towns and below-average mortgage rates, we don’t blame you for wanting to plant your own roots in the Missouri. The purchase of buying your first home can be intimidating, though. You will likely face several financial situations and big-ticket price tags you have never encountered. That’s why the federal and Missouri state governments created first-time homebuyer programs. There are options for every type of borrower, but each one makes homeownership more accessible and affordable. The  Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 Nevada is so much more than 24-hour parties in Las Vegas. In fact, it's one of the fastest-growing states in the country. But if getting a mortgage or paying a down payment is holding you back, check out the state and federal first-time home buyer programs that are available. Sponsored by the federal government and Nevada Housing Division, each one makes it easier and more affordable to achieve the American Dream. Best of all, they’re available to all kinds of Americans with different lifestyle and financial situations. Read up on your options, then consult a financial advisor through the  SmartAsset advisor matching tool to help… Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 Thanks to beautiful scenery, relatively affordable mortgage rates and robust economy, Idaho is an great destination for new homeowners. If you're thinking about settling in the Gem State, check out first-time homebuyer programs from the the federal and Idaho state governments. There are down payment assistance and tax credit programs in addition to homebuyer education and discounted mortgages. Best of all, nearly every would-be borrower will qualify for something. If all the options are overwhelming, consider working with a financial advisor to nail things down. The  SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool … Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 The federal government and the state of Montana run several programs for first-time homebuyers in Big Sky Country. Depending on your exact needs and circumstances, there are multiple types of loans that you have access to. Some loans require a cheap down payment and low credit score minimums. Some loans target specific demographics such as veterans and school teachers. In addition, a financial advisor can help you find the best Montana first-time homebuyer programs for you. An advisor is a professional who can examine your individual situation and goals to help you make informed financial decisions. Finding an advisor doesn't have to be a challenge. SmartAsset's  free financial advisor matching tool quickly links you to advisors in your area. Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 The South Dakota state government and the federal government both offer special programs for first-time homebuyers who need loans to purchase a home. Which loans you have access to will depend on your exact needs and circumstances, but there are many types of loans out there. For example, you can find loans that only require a small down payment or low credit score minimums. You can also find demographic-specific loans, such as those for veterans. If you want more personalized help throughout the home buying process, it may be worth talking to a financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 No matter where you hope to settle in Georgia, housing costs usually will be relatively affordable. Buying your first home can still be intimidating, of course. Georgia's Department of Community Affairs and the federal government have created  first-time homebuyer programs to help, though. Between sponsored mortgages and down payment assistance, Peach State settlers could save thousands. Since the options can be overwhelming, consider using the SmartAsset Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 According to some studies, Indiana is one of the most affordable states to buy a home. But buying your first home in the Hoosier State could be an intimidating process. Between the inspections and mortgage, it will likely include many financial situations you’ve never encountered. After all, this is probably the biggest purchase you'll make in your life. Luckily, the federal and Indiana state governments have created programs specifically for first-time homebuyers. Some cater to low-income individuals with less-than-ideal credit scores. Others are designed specifically for public servants like firefighters and teachers. No matter what your financial situation, they’re worth looking into. If you want some help deciding which of the below programs is right for you, the Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 Purchasing your first home in the Hawkeye State can be intimidating and expensive. It will likely include financial situations and conversations you’ve never encountered before. Luckily, the federal and Iowa state governments have created first-time homebuyer programs just for borrowers like you. Even if you don’t have much to put toward a down payment or can’t afford the interest rates your friends and colleagues pay, these loans and mortgage programs can make home ownership more accessible. And if you need help assessing your options, the Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Maine is a state of fresh lobster, beautiful fall foliage and 3,478 miles of coastline. If you're considering buying a home in the Pine Tree State, you should be aware of the special programs - from both the federal and Maine state governments - that make homeownership more attainable. You should also consider finding a financial advisor who can help guide you through the big financial decisions headed your way. Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 With just plenty of historic charm and seaside beauty, Delaware cracks SmartAsset's top 10 states for the middle class. If you’re hoping to buy a home there, be sure to check out the various homebuyer programs offered by both the federal government the state of Delaware. These include programs that provide down payment assistance and tax credits available to Delaware residents.  Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Both the federal and Oregon state governments offer loan programs in an effort to simplify the entire mortgage application process for newbies. There are a number of choices available, depending on your income, down payment amount and other typical factors.  Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Both the federal government and Utah Housing Corporation sponsor first-time homebuyer programs and down payment assistance to help Beehive State settlers achieve homeownership. Some cater to low-income individuals with less-than-ideal credit scores. Others are designed specifically for public service professionals like teachers, police officers and firefighters. Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Michigan’s economy has experienced its ups and downs over the last few decades. Population decline and the national housing crisis have driven prices and mortgage rates down, making it homeownership more attainable in the state. Some cities are even paying people to move there. Additionally, both the federal and Michigan state governments have created mortgage programs specifically for first-time homebuyers. When paired with grants and tax credits, these can make homeownership both cheaper and more accessible.  Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Buying your first home is an intimidating and expensive process, and one that will ultimately have a big impact on your financial plan. That’s why the federal and Washington state governments have created programs to help first-time homebuyers. Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Thinking about joining the eight million people who call Virginia home? Before you buy a home in Old Dominion, you may want to consider some of the mortgage programs that make it easier to get a mortgage. Many are specifically built for first-time homebuyers. Options from both the federal and Virginia state governments help make homeownership more accessible and affordable. Look over the options listed below and consider working with a financial advisor to decide which is best for you. Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Dramatic landscapes, mild winters and a relatively low cost of living are drawing an increasingly diverse population to the state of Arizona, including new parents and retirees. In fact, it’s one of the 10 fastest-growing states in the country. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the Grand Canyon State, we suggest looking into these first-time home buyer programs of the federal and Arizona state governments. Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 The Empire State and the federal government manage several New York first-time homebuyer programs. Some cater to specific groups like veterans, teachers or people with less-than-favorable credit history. But no matter your situation, you can find one that will help you achieve the American dream anywhere from the Big Apple to the scenic beauty of rural New York. But if you need some professional guidance, you can use our  SmartAsset matching tool. Based on your answers to simple questions, it recommends up to three local financial advisors who can guide you… Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 The state and federal government run several first-time homebuyer programs in New Mexico to help make homeownership a reality for all. So don’t feel discouraged if your income isn’t stellar or if your credit history isn’t superb. Several programs help New Mexicans purchase homes despite their circumstances. Some also cater to specific groups such as veterans, teachers and Americans who can’t find mortgages through traditional means. But the house hunting process can be complex. So if you think you need professional guidance, our SmartAsset Advisor matching tool can connect you with up to three financial advisors in your area who can help you find… Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 Filled with pristine lakes, rivers and state parks, Wisconsin can be a wonderful place to lay down roots. And a first-time homebuyer program in Wisconsin can help you make it a reality. Wisconsin and the federal government sponsor various first-time homebuyer programs designed for all types of would-be home owners. So read on to learn all about the benefits available as well as their qualifications. And if you want professional guidance in exploring these programs, you can use our SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool. It links you to up to three… Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 The state and federal government sponsor various Oklahoma first-time homebuyer programs designed to give everyone the chance to lay their roots here. So don’t feel left out because of low income or a lackluster credit score. Some of these Oklahoma first-time homebuyer programs are designed for people just like you. Others support specific groups like America’s military veterans, teachers and police officers. But if you need help finding the program that’s right for you, use our SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool. It connects you to local financial… Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Median home prices  in Illinois are 15% lower than the national average, which makes homeownership within reach in the state. And aspiring homeowners may also get a hand from the federal and Illinois state governments, which have created mortgage programs to make it more affordable. No matter your financial situation, these programs are worth exploring.  Read More...

Mar 07, 2019 Buying your first home can be an intimidating and expensive process. That’s why the federal and Ohio state governments have created loan and mortgage programs specifically for first-time homebuyers . No matter what your financial situation, they can make homeownership both more accessible and more affordable. Read More...

Mar 06, 2019 The state of Kansas and the federal government sponsor several first-time homebuyer programs. Some cater to low-income individuals with less-than-superb credit scores. Others support public service professionals like teachers, police officers and firefighters. One even assists people who already have a mortgage. So glance before the scenic beauty that is Kansas, and get ready to embark on your journey of becoming a homeowner. But if you want professional help along the way, our Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 Purchasing your first home can be intimidating. In Maryland, where there’s no county with an average list price under $100,000 , it can be expensive, too. As you go through the homebuying and mortgage process, you'll encounter both big price tags and unfamiliar situations. Luckily, both the federal government and the Maryland state government offer programs to help first-time homebuyers  navigate and afford this major purchase. Since it can be challenging to decide which mortgage is right for you, check out our detailed breakdowns of each program. And if you need more help understanding how… Read More...

Aug 15, 2018 Making a down payment for a new home can be expensive, even for those with decent income. If you're eyeing a particular home but don't know whether you can afford to make a down payment to secure a mortgage, don't worry. Down payment assistance programs are widely available to home buyers who need an extra leg-up. Read More...

Aug 14, 2018 It's important to understand the distinction between the annual percentage rate (APR) and interest rate when financing your property with a  mortgage or taking another kind of loan. Both detail the rates associated with borrowing money, but the terms do differ. APR highlights the overall costs of taking out a loan. The interest rate, however, shows you how much money you'll spend monthly for financing your purchase. Therefore, the APR vs. interest distinction is the cost each entails. Read More...

Oct 31, 2018 Tech jobs are some of the hottest in the country. And the increasingly available opportunities to work in tech deliver high salaries, to boot. But because some of the traditional tech hubs are clustered in the cities with the highest cost of living, like New York or San Francisco, that tech pay may not always go so far. There are, however, plenty of nontraditional tech cities where pay is still high and where workers don’t need to worry about whether or not they can afford their mortgage. Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 Between breathtaking natural beauty, a burgeoning craft beer scene and a plethora of job opportunities, there are plenty of reasons to move to Colorado . Unfortunately, home prices in the Centennial State have grown exponentially since Colorado rebounded from the 2008 recession. Prices don't show signs of slowing down,  but that doesn’t mean first-time home buyers should steer clear of securing a mortgage. The federal and Colorado state governments have created loan and mortgage programs to  help make the process a bit… Read More...

Aug 03, 2018 When you take out a mortgage and have a down payment of less than 20% of the home's value, you typically have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). But if you're securing a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, you're not off the hook. In this case, you'll have to pay FHA mortgage insurance. This helps the lender lower its risk in case you default on the loan. But how much does it cost, what are the terms and is it canceable? Below, we explain the ins and outs of FHA loan insurance. Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 Both the Texas state government and the federal government offer special programs for first-time home buyers. These programs may allow you to get a loan with low down payment and credit score requirements. There are also programs designed for specific demographics, such as veterans or school teachers. If you want financial help during the homebuying process, we recommend using SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor matching tool to find an advisor. Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 The process of purchasing your first home can be daunting and expensive, and it will likely include many financial situations you’ve never encountered. Luckily, the federal government and Florida state government have stepped in and created programs specifically for first-time home buyers. Even if you don’t have much to put toward a down payment, or you need a low interest rate, these loans and mortgage programs are great options that are worth looking into. If you want some help ensuring that you’ve made the right mortgage choice, the SmartAsset matching tool can… Read More...

Mar 05, 2019 While it may seem like an intimidating process, purchasing and owning your first home is an attainable goal. It's made even more attainable through mortgage programs specifically geared toward first-time homebuyers. There are programs offered by both the federal government and the California state government. If you find the process of buying your first home confusing, it may help to speak with a professional. The SmartAdvisor matching tool can connect you with as many as three fiduciary financial advisors in your area. Read More...

Oct 17, 2018 One of the most important decisions young families make is deciding where to raise their children. Families need to balance priorities like finding a city where they can get an affordable mortgage and living somewhere with access to first-class public schools. Below we look at these and other factors to rank the best cities for children. Read More...

Jul 30, 2018 With homeownership comes home equity. Both home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) use the equity you've built up to help you pay off big expenses. You can use these loans to tackle credit card debt, tuition payments or a kitchen renovation. In addition, you can use these loans essentially as another  mortgage to pay off debt you owe on your home. You just use your home as collateral and and pay monthly payments with different interest rates on the loan. So in the HELOC vs. home equity loan decision, which is best for you? We explain the nitty-gritty below and let you decide. Read More...

Jul 27, 2018 When you take on a mortgage loan, you may be so laser-focused on reducing your debt load that you get overeager and make payments ahead of schedule. But your exuberance and diligence can actually have a negative effect. If you pay off your mortgage too quickly, you'll contend with a prepayment penalty. Here's the lowdown. Read More...

Jul 26, 2018 Trying to find an affordable apartment is almost a full-time job for renters in America’s largest cities. But the housing crisis ranges in severity, depending on which city you consider. In Columbus, Ohio, for example, the average renter spends 28.1% of their income on rent. In New York City that figure is 32%, and in Detroit the average renter spends nearly 37% of income on rent. With such a high percentage of income needed to pay for rent, renters are often unable to save up for a down payment and are locked out of the mortgage market. Read More...

Jul 24, 2018 Just under 70% of U.S. households have a pet, according to the National Pet Owners Survey. It probably comes as no surprise that the survey also found that dogs were the most popular pet for American households. Of the 85 million pet-owning households, 60.2 million of them opt for a pooch. But as any dog-owning family knows, the quality of life for you and your dog can be heavily dependent on where you live. Dog-friendly cities contain walkable streets, runnable parks and access to affordable mortgages. Read More...

Jul 17, 2018 When it comes to owning a home, shouldering the burden of a hefty down payment and  paying off your mortgage over many years can be daunting. For that reason, it would be pretty hard to turn down a generous cash gift a few months prior to securing your mortgage. But how do you take this cash and use it specifically to cover your down payment or mortgage payments? You need to convince lenders this money is not a loan but a gift to use on your house. Gift letters solve that issue. Here's our guide to them. Read More...

Aug 09, 2018 Taking out a mortgage to buy a home can be a great investment (as long as you are buying a home you can afford, of course). Just take a look at the average American home. The median home in America increased in value by $10,500 between 2015 and 2016. That's only an increase of around 5% but for the average household in America, which took home $57,617 last year, an extra $10,500 would be worth 18% of their annual income. Read More...

Jul 16, 2018 If you're looking to build your dream house or tackle a renovation, you may want to secure a construction loan. This describes a sum of money you receive to help finance your building costs. But borrowing money in this way differs from getting a standard  mortgage. Read on to find out the requirements for a construction loan. Read More...

Sep 19, 2018 Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a grizzled veteran of the home-buying experience, you want to make sure you are taking out a mortgage you can afford. Homes can be good investments and the best home purchasers are those who taken on mortgages they can afford while buying an undervalued home. If you’re not a real estate expert, trying to figure out the true value of a home can be difficult. Below we analyzed data to find the most undervalued cities in the U.S in 2018. Read More...

Jul 03, 2018 When you're securing a loan for a particularly expensive house, a regular mortgage may not suffice. If what you borrow exceeds a certain amount, you may need to get a jumbo loan. Jumbo loan limits describe the dollar thresholds that require you to explore a jumbo loan should you exceed them. So do you need to get a jumbo loan and should you take on the burden of buying a house that requires one? Read below to find out and gain a comprehensive understanding of jumbo loan limits.  Read More...

Apr 03, 2019 Typically when you buy a home and can't afford to pay the full price up front, you get a mortgage. You make a down payment first, and then you'll make loan payments every month over a number of years based on a particular mortgage rate until the balance reaches zero. But a balloon loan works in the inverse fashion. You start off making regular loan payments and then put down a lump-sum at the end to get fully square. Why would you opt for a balloon loan and how does it work? Read on to find out. Read More...

Sep 12, 2018 Sometimes renting can be just as difficult as homeownership. The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the average renting household spends 29.9% of its income on rent. Over 10 million renting households spend at least 50% of their income on housing. But those are not the only struggles renters face. The threat of eviction looms for renters struggling to cover costs and many renters, especially in the most expensive cities, are forced into long commutes to find affordable accommodation. This leaves many renters unable to save for a mortgage or for retirement. Read More...

Sep 06, 2018 Buying a home is no small decision, but when it comes to building a home, the stakes are even higher. Between finding the right contracting company and figuring out your mortgage payments, building your home can quickly become a daunting task. But a construction loan, essentially a sum of money you get to finance your building costs, can help you manage this large financial undertaking. Whether you're putting up a house from scratch or renovating, construction loans have quirks that differentiate them from a traditional mortgage. So before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you're up to date on the basics of construction loans and how they work in practice. Read More...

Aug 10, 2018 Homeownership is a hallmark of American society. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows that 64.2% of homes in America are owner-occupied, and a Pew Research survey from 2016 found that 72% of renters would like to own a home at some time in the future. But the benefits to home ownership are different based on which state you live. Some states have seen fast-growing home values while others offer affordable mortgages, thanks to low property tax ratesRead More...

Sep 06, 2018 With summer starting to heat up it's time for families to start planning their summer vacations. This can be a stressful period, especially for families whose budgets are already stretched trying to afford their mortgage and saving for retirement. But while a dream trip to a distant country may be off the table, there are plenty of affordable U.S. destinations which families can enjoy without breaking their savings accounts. Below we rank the most affordable U.S. travel destinations. Read More...

Sep 06, 2018 Most people are faced with a trade-off when choosing where to live. You could move closer to the city center where most of the jobs are but face a more expensive mortgage and more cramped housing options or move outside of the city and enjoy more space but endure a longer commute. For every city and metro area, the math breaks down a little bit differently. In some city centers the cost of living is not much higher than the outlying metro area while some outlying metro areas have excellent commute options.  Read More...

Jun 12, 2018 According to Pew Research Center estimates there are around 71 million millennials in America and they are expected to surpass the number of baby boomers in 2019. That makes millennials a coveted generation for cities looking to bolster their workforce and tax base. But millennials are notorious for their quixotic preferences and figuring out where they will head to next can be difficult. It's a worthwhile undertaking though: where millennials decide to move has enormous impact on local markets, from the cost of a mortgage to whether or not you will be able to find a good avocado toast in your neighborhood. Read More...

Jul 02, 2018 The average home increased in value from $194,500 in 2015 to $205,000 in 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That is an impressive return of nearly $11,000, or about 5%, for American homeowners. Relative to income that extra $11,000 is equivalent to the average American household receiving a raise of 19% on their annual income. But when it comes to investing in the real estate market, location is everything. Some cities are better bets when it comes to buying an investment property, thanks to more affordable mortgages or lower property taxes. Read More...

Jun 11, 2018 Millions of American families struggle to pay mortgage payments. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, nearly 7 million American households were severely housing cost-burdened in 2016, meaning they spent over 50% of their income on housing costs. When households spend so much on housing not only are they less able to afford day-to-day expenses but they are also unable to hit financial milestones, like saving for retirement or investing with a financial advisorRead More...

Apr 15, 2019 A quitclaim deed, sometimes referred to as a non-warranty deed, is a document used to transfer interest in a property. Common terms utilized alongside quitclaim deeds are "grantor" and "grantee." In this context, a grantor is the one transferring the interest and a grantee is the one receiving the interest. For the most part, family members use quitclaim deeds in real estate transfers. They are also often included in wills. Read More...

Jun 12, 2018 The U.S. ranked as the 18th-happiest country in the world in 2018, according to the World Happiness Report, released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the U.N. That's down four spots from the 2017 ranking. But while the U.S. may not be the happiest country in the world, there are some parts of the country that are doing exceptionally well. Thanks to factors like affordable homes, low unemployment rates and high life expectancy, some counties are happier than others. Below we look at these and other factors to rank the happiest places in America. Read More...

May 15, 2018 From 2012 to 2016, the median home in the U.S. increased in value by roughly $33,000, from $172,000 to $205,000. That is great news for all the homeowners in the country. However those home investment returns have not been spread uniformly across the country. Some cities are experiencing faster than average home value growth due to the number of new residents moving to a city outpacing the number of new homes. This puts upward pressure on home values and mortgage costsRead More...

Jul 09, 2018 Many renters don't enjoy living with roommates, but in order to live alone you need to find an affordable home. This can be challenging, especially with rents on the rise across the country. However, there are some cities where living alone is within reach for a large number of workers. Below we look at these and other factors to rank the cities where you can afford to live alone. Read More...

Jun 25, 2018 It is difficult to come up with any one definition for the American Dream that every American will agree on. But certainly for many people, it includes homeownership, economic opportunity and diverse communities. For these people, they need to live in a city where homes, and mortgages, are affordable and where it’s possible to climb the economic ladder. Below we look at this special combination of traits to rank the best places for living the American Dream. Read More...

May 07, 2018 The largest purchase most Americans will make in their life is their home. With so much on the line buying a home can be a stressful and difficult process, especially for first-time homebuyers. However, thanks to local economic factors like a stable mortgage market and affordable homes, some cities are better for first-time homebuyers who are hoping to make the change from renting to buying. Read More...

Apr 25, 2018 These days having a college education is not enough to ensure a financially secure future. According to data from the Census Bureau, over 30% of Americans over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree. That means college graduates looking to get a professional edge need to move to the right cities. Cities that have plenty of jobs, low mortgage costs and a variety of entertainment options are good fits for new college grads.  Read More...

Apr 11, 2019 In order to get preapproved for a mortgage, you need to provide your lender with extensive documentation proving your income, assets and debt obligations. If you qualify, you’d get a preapproval letter indicating how much you can borrow to purchase your new home. This article will explain mortgage preapproval step-by-step. We can also help you find a financial advisor who would guide you through the entire house hunting process. Read More...

Apr 19, 2018 Over 80% of renters have a desire to own a home, according to a 2015 survey from the National Association of Realtors. One big hurdle for many renters who are hoping to buy a home and take on a mortgage is saving for a  down payment. In some cities, the average home is worth so much more than the average income it can take over a decade of saving to have enough for a down payment. Below we rank the cities where the average workers need to save the longest to afford a down payment. Read More...

Apr 18, 2018 Nearly 83% of renters have a desire to own their home, according to a National Association of Realtors poll. However with mortgage costs on the rise, it is difficult to switch from renting to buying. And buying a home can be even more difficult if you are single. However, there are some places where singles are bucking the renting trend and buying homes. Below we look data to find the cities with the highest single homeownership rate. Read More...

Apr 12, 2018 The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues loans with low interest rates and zero down payments to thousands of low-income Americans, so they can finance homes in rural and suburban areas. Meeting the requirements for these loans is far more manageable than those for conventional mortgages. Read on as we explain everything you need to know about USDA loans, including how to qualify and apply. Read More...

Sep 20, 2018 In 1948, only 32% of women were in the official labor force, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. As of February 2018, that number had almost doubled to 57%. Today in some American cities, women are earning large salaries, running their own businesses and handling their mortgages with ease. With this in mind, SmartAsset decided to find the U.S. cities where women are succeeding the most. Read More...

Apr 11, 2018 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 61% of two-parent households, both parents work outside the home. But not all cities are equally suited for this family structure. In some cities,  mortgage costs overwhelm earnings. In other cities, childcare costs are so high it makes getting by on even two incomes difficult. Below we look at these and other factors to rank the best cities for working parents. Read More...

Apr 04, 2018 New York real estate has an estimated market value around $1.26 trillion as of 2018, according to the New York Department of Finance. Some New York neighborhoods are more popular than others, putting upward pressure on home values and  mortgage costs. Below we look into the phenomenon to find the New York City neighborhoods with the fastest-growing home values. Read More...

Apr 04, 2018 Nearly 17 million people competed in 30,400 U.S. road races in 2016, according to data from Running USA. But for Americans who are truly passionate about getting their daily steps in, not all cities are equal. Some cities are better for runners who prefer to run outdoors. While others are better for those who value access to competitive races. Below we look at these and other factors to rank the best cities for runners. Read More...

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