Refinance Window? 30-Year Fixed at 3%, But New Refinance Fee Added Soon

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Mortgage rates have hit another all-time low, with some 30-year fixed rate mortgages below 3% and 15-year fixed below 2.5%. I know that many folks have already refinanced successfully, but these lower rates may offer even more homeowners the ability to lower their payments and/or pay off their home sooner. Importantly, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced an additional 0.5% fee on refinances that was supposed to start on 9/1, but that was just delayed to 12/1. This could add thousands to your upfront cost. The fact that they ultimately buy 2/3rd of all refi loans and called this an “adverse market refinance fee” also suggests that they feel rates are so low that they don’t properly compensate for the risk involved.

Here is how mortgage rates have changed in just the last 12 months, per Freddie Mac. Would anyone who lived through the 2009 boom-and-bust have expected a 30-year fixed mortgage to cost the same as a 5/1 ARM?

You may not get these rates as they do assume some points, and it may actually work out better for your situation to pay less in upfront closing costs in exchange for a higher interest rate than 2.91%. You can calculate a breakeven point upon which your saved monthly payments completely offset your upfront costs, and also how far you are “ahead” at certain time periods like 3 or 5 years down the road.

Bottom line. Mortgage rates are even lower and many new homeowners will now able to lower their mortgage rates via a refinance. In addition, a new refinance fee that can add thousands to your upfront cost will be added on 12/1. From what I understand, it’s rather hectic right now and refi’s can take over a month, so you will need to start soon and “pack your patience”.

If you are serious, get an accurate full quote with all the costs involved with a reputable mortgage comparison site like LendingTree (tip: they will likely call whatever phone number you choose to enter) or go local and call up your neighborhood broker. You don’t have to provide your Social Security number to get a quote. If you like what you see, lock in the rate as they can change quickly.


My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

People Are Switching Homes Less Often, Housing Inventory At Historic Lows

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Tucked inside a WSJ article about Zillow and Opendoor cutbacks, there was a chart of the average tenure of US homeowners. I wasn’t aware of this trend. The average homeowner now stays put for 4 years longer than before the 2008 crisis (8.2 vs. 4.2 years).

A different WSJ article revealed that the amount of housing inventory available for sale is the lowest in 37 years on a per capita basis (the entire time this data series has been tracked). However, the two charts don’t fully match up. From 2000-2008, people consistently switched homes about every 4 years, but the inventory went up and up. After the 2008 recession, people both started staying in place and the inventory went down.

If the economy was improving from 2009 to 2019 (up until recently of course), why did homeowners move less and less often? Mortgage interest rates? Mortgage underwriting standards? Boomers choosing to age in place? Millennials preferring to rent, not buy? Lack of new housing construction? I feel like there is something meaningful behind all of this, but I don’t know what it is.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Special Coronavirus Relief: Paid Leave, Mortgage Payments, Student Loans, Credit Cards, and Unemployment

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Wow. I thought that I was prepared, but I must admit that I was still shaken by last week. For those facing severe financial emergencies right now, so I have tried to collect information and links to where you can hopefully find some help. Be prepared advocate for yourself; many of these will only be given to those who ask and are persistent. Everything is in flux as well, so if you don’t find success try again later. There will be more government stimulus coming.

Paid leave for small/mid-sized business employees, including part-time workers and self-employed. Eligible employees can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave for 12 weeks when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable. Business must have less than 500 employees (52% of workforce). This is done via refundable payroll tax credits. DOL press release. NYT article.

The act provided paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19 related reasons and created the refundable paid sick leave credit and the paid child-care leave credit for eligible employers. Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees that are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave under the act. Eligible employers will be able to claim these credits based on qualifying leave they provide between the effective date and Dec. 31, 2020. Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals based on similar circumstances.

Unemployment insurance. Many states are expanding their eligibility rules for unemployment benefits. You might be eligible if you have to stay at home to care for children. You may not have to officially quit your current job (i.e. your employer temporarily shuts down). You might be eligible if you are under quarantine or have to take care of someone under quarantine or infected. Please visit the Department of Labor for your specific state. CNBC article. DOL.gov/coronavirus.

Mortgage payments. Contact your mortgage or home-equity loan servicer directly to ask about mortgage payment deferral options. Fannie and Freddie Mac have instructed their loan servicers to suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months if borrowers suffer hardship. In New York, the impacted can defer mortgage payments from any servicer for 90 days. Bank of America is allowing deferrals on a case-by-case basis, with the waived payments being added to the end of their loan term. CNBC article.

Student loans. President Trump announced that federally-held student loans would be set to 0% interest for at least 60 days in addition to being able to request forbearance for 60 days, but there has been a lot of difficulty in actually making the requests with loan servicers as they have cut back on call center hours. There will also be an automatic suspension of payments for any borrower more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, 2020, or who becomes more than 31 days delinquent. Press release. ED.gov. Studentaid.gov.

Credit cards and auto loans. Chase, Citibank, American Express, US Bank, Discover, Ally Bank, and Apple have all announced some sort of accommodation for coronavirus. The offers are often vague, but it can’t hurt to call and ask for details. For example, Discover says it won’t report late payment to credit bureaus, but what about late fees and penalty APRs? Chase says they might waive fees or extend payment due dates, but only on a case-by-case basis. Apple (if approved) will allow you to skip your March credit card payment without incurring interest charges. Ally Bank will allow deferral of auto loan payments for 120 days, but finance charges will still accrue. Some of these are rather lame, like offering up credit line increases that were always available anyway.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Coronavirus + Mortgage Rates at 8-Year Lows = Refinance Boom

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Update March 2020: 30-year fixed rates on 3/4 were at 3.0%-3.25%. If you’re looking for some good news to distract you right now, check out refinancing your mortgage. In November 2018, the average 30-year mortgage rate was nearly 5%. Right now, you can find 30-year rates at around 3.25% and lower with zero points. Mortgage rates are at all-time lows again, with the previous lows back in 2016 and 2012 (source):

At these lower rates, millions more homeowners can save money by refinancing rates, even after taking into account the loan fees (source). This is based on industry data on the rates of existing mortgages.

If you are refinancing, try to see if you can lower your rate, how much your lower monthly payment will be, and how long it will take to break even with the refinancing costs. Here is an example scenario from the WSJ:

WHEN IT IS WORTH REFINANCING
– Home buyer puts 20% down on a home worth $266,300, the median home price in January.
– No plans to move soon.
– Pays a 4% rate, resulting in a monthly payment excluding taxes, fees and insurance of $1,017.09, according to LendingTree.
– Dropping to a 3.25% rate would decrease the payment from $1,017.09 to $927.16. The homeowner would save around $90 a month, with exclusions.
– Assuming refinancing costs of $2,000, this homeowner would need to stay in the home for a little less than two years to make it worth the money.

If you are willing to take a slightly higher rate (negative points), you can even get a “no cost” refinance where the negative points cover your refinance costs. This way, your monthly costs go down with no upfront cost at all.

Bottom line. Due to coronavirus fears, interest rates are now at or nearing all-time lows. This also means that millions more homeowners may be able to lower their mortgage rate via a refinance. If you are serious, get an accurate full quote with all the costs involved with a reputable comparison site like LendingTree (tip: they will likely call whatever phone number you choose to enter) or go local and call up your neighborhood broker. If you are just curious, try an “instant quote” that doesn’t require any upfront information. If you do like what you see, lock in the rate as they can pop back up quickly.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Peerstreet Case Study #2: NJ Commercial Property Foreclosure Recovery

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I’ve invested over $50,000 of my “alternative” money into PeerStreet real estate notes because of the ability to diversify into 50+ different high-interest loans backed by physical real estate. Here is a case study of a commercial property loan where Peerstreet negotiated an exit when it was already very deep into the foreclosure process. You can find additional case study links and the most recent update to my overall portfolio performance in my Peerstreet review.

Initial investment details.

  • Property: Commercial property in New Jersey.
  • Target Net Investor Rate/Term: 9.25% APR for 17 months.
  • Amount invested: $1,133 out of $1,700,000 loan.
  • Appraised at $4M = 43% LTV.
  • Loan secured by the property in first position.
  • Bridge loan to redevelop into a 179-unit apartment building.

Timeline.

  • May 2018. Loaned out $1,133, my share of $1,700,000 total.
  • June 2018. One single interest payment was made.
  • August 2018. No more payments.
  • September 2018. Legal notices sent.
  • November 2018. PeerStreet and the borrower agree to a forbearance agreement. The terms of the forbearance include, the borrower paying $8,500 and in return, PeerStreet will not file the foreclosure complaint until the end of November. The borrower states that they are in the process of refinancing the loan.
  • December 2018. The forbearance agreement has expired and the borrower has not cured or paid off their loan. The loan file has been sent to a local law firm to initiate legal proceedings against the borrower. Foreclosure counsel filed the foreclosure complaint on December 13, 2018. The complaint has been sent out for service.
  • February 2019. All parties have been Served. Once the time to answer expires, we will move for defaults.
  • June 2019. Foreclosure counsel filed the final judgment package and are waiting on the court to enter the same. Judgment should be entered in the next 3 to 6 weeks
  • July 2019. The foreclosure process continues and PeerStreet is in negotiations to sell the note back to the lender. On 7/31/2019, PeerStreet provided the originating lender with an updated payoff statement as repurchase discussions continue. PeerStreet continues to wait for the Court’s ruling on its Motion for Final Judgment in the foreclosure.
  • September 2019. The Escrow Agent advised that it has received the bulk of the funds for the repurchase of the loan at $1,850,000.00.
  • October 2019. PeerStreet has completed its sale of the note, and final proceeds have been distributed to investors. Proceeds from the sale were $1,815,227, net of costs and fees associated with the foreclosure. The cash-on-cash return on this investment, after taking into account interest and fees paid to investors, was positive at 107.7%.

Final numbers. I invested $1,113 in May 2018 and got paid $87.52 of interest and $1,113 of principal for a total of $1,265.27 as of October 2019. (This was an automated reinvestment which included whatever cash was in my account, thus the odd numbers.) This works out to a 7.86% total return over 17 months, which is roughly a 5.5% annualized return. My overall annualized return across my entire portfolio is 7.3%. These numbers are net of all PeerStreet fees.

My commentary. This loan is an example of Peerstreet negotiating a settlement, in this case getting my principal back and even a a small positive return. This loan was initially concerning because the lender made a single payment and then stopped. While you have collateral, if the loan goes into default, it takes a very, very long time to seize and sell that collateral. This is why you need to diversify your notes and never invest money you need anytime soon.

I can only assume that Peerstreet negotiated with the lender here because they just didn’t want it to drag out any further. They might have gotten more money if they foreclosed, but they would also have had to finish the foreclosure, prep it for sale, market it, and then wait for a sale of the property. The lender still took advantage of the situation, as they basically didn’t have to pay any interest for 17 months and then they ended up paying less interest than they initially promised. The borrower also likely had a bad mark on their credit report, which should hurt their ability to get future loans.

I’ve read many reviews of real estate crowdfunding sites done by new investors who haven’t had the chance to experience how it all works out. Some are overly positive because they haven’t had any late payments yet, while others are too negative because they have some really late loans and assume the worst. With Peerstreet, both of my loans that went “bad” took over a year to sort out, but in the end they had positive returns. Of course, that is not always the case and I have lost some principal on a single note from another now-defunct real estate site.

Bottom line. Out of the $50,000+ I’ve now invested into 51 loans at PeerStreet over 3+ years, 48 were paid back in full in a timely manner, while three have reached various stages of the foreclosure process. This is one example where we went pretty deep into the foreclosure process, but PeerStreet negotiated directly with the borrower to settle the debt and thus avoided another several months of waiting and selling the property. The annualized return for this loan was 5.5%, while my overall annualized return across my entire portfolio is 7.3%.

If you are interested, you can sign up and browse investments at PeerStreet for free before depositing any funds or making any investments. You must qualify as an accredited investor (either via income or net worth) to invest. If you already invest with them, they now sync with Mint.com.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Landed: Shared Equity Down Payment Program For Educators

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Home ownership continues to be a goal for many people, but downpayment requirements also keep rising with housing prices. I previously posted about Unison, which offers downpayment assistance in exchange for a percentage of any future upside (or downside) on your home. Their example states a 40% cut, although it will vary with the size of assistance. Unison also charges an origination fee of 2.5% of the downpayment assistance.

Landed offers a similar shared equity down payment program, but restricted to employees of selected school districts, colleges, and universities in high-cost areas. They also offer up to a 10% downpayment assistance (i.e. $50,000 on a $500,000 home), but they only ask for 25% of future upside (or downside). Instead of charging an origination fee, they ask you to use a real estate agent in their network, who have all agreed to pay Landed part of their commission (0.75% of purchase price). You can use your own agent, but you’d still have to pay that 0.75% fee. That’s a clever trick to avoid any upfront fees.

Here’s another important twist: You must agree to stay with your current employer for at least two years after buying your home. I believe that if you don’t, you will need to pay Landed back within 30 days (even if you don’t sell the home). You may also need a certain amount of time employed with the school. The idea is to improve employee retention in these high-cost areas.

Currently, Landed covers K-12 school districts, colleges, and universities in California (San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles Metro Area, and San Diego Metro Area), Colorado (Denver and Boulder metro areas), the state of Hawai?i, and Washington (King County Metro Area). Right now, you can get up to $120,000 in down payment support. They plan on expanding to other high-cost areas including the East Coast.

Unison vs. Landed fee comparison. Let’s say you have a $500,000 house. The Unison numbers are based on the stated example on their website. Unison might provide $50,000 assistance (“co-investment”) and you put in $50,000, and that is the 20% downpayment needed. If the house appreciates by $100,000 and is sold for $600,000, then Unison would get $40,000 of that appreciation (plus their original $50,000 back) and the homeowner would get $60,000. If over time the house doubles in value to $1,000,000, then Unison would keep $200,000 and (plus their original $50,000 back) and the homeowner would keep $300,000 of the gain. The upfront fee would be $1,250 (2.5% of $50,000).

Since Landed only asks for 25% of the upside, the numbers would be $25,000 on a $100,000 gain ($15,000 less than Unison), and $125,000 on a $500,000 gain ($75,000 less than Unison). There is no upfront fee if you use their real estate agent, but Landed will get $3,750 (0.75% of $500,000).

Here’s a separate breakdown example from Landed for a $600,000 home purchase, assuming you sell after 10 years of mortgage payments and either have a $100,000 gain or loss.

I know that some people will scoff at say “who would accept such a bad deal and give up all that home appreciation?”, but for many people the idea of scraping up $50,000 is many times more imaginable than coming up with $100,000. I’m not saying it’s a good idea, but I definitely understand the demand and think these programs will be popular as a result.

It is interesting that both “shared equity” companies have the same basic concept, it’s just the specific implementation that is different. Landed focuses on a group that tends to have stable employment and potentially solid retirement benefits but low base salary. It’s also a group that people want to see living in the neighborhoods that they work in, like firefighters and nurses, and thus can get cheaper funding from non-profit sources. However, this would also mean that if the concept gains traction, there is room for competition to lower the costs for everyone else.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Refinance Watch: Mortgage Rates May Drop Even Further

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If you have a mortgage rate above 4%, you should keep an eye on mortgage rates during August to see if there is an opportunity to refinance and save money. (Potential buyers should obviously also take notice, but they were probably paying attention already.) In November 2018, the average 30-year mortgage rate was nearly 5%. In July, the average 30-year mortgage rate was only 3.75%. There are a LOT of outstanding mortgages that become good opportunities for a refinance with even small drops from here. See this chart via @lenkeifer:

Today, the 10-year Treasury bond yield went down to 1.74%, the lowest value since November 2016. According to CNBC, the rate drop at this longer maturity was a result of both the recent Fed rate cut and trade war concerns.

Why is this important? The 10-year rate and 30-year fixed mortgage rates tend to move together. The average 30-year mortgage in mid-2016 was closer to 3.5% (chart source).

Even before this most recent rate drop, mortgage originations had already spiked, per the WSJ). A swing from 5% back down to 3.5% will create even more.

Bottom line. If you got a 30-year mortgage between late 2016 and mid-2019, there is a good chance that you may be able to lower your mortgage rate via a refinance. Get an accurate full quote with all the costs involved with a online comparison site like LendingTree (tip: don’t enter a phone number if you don’t want them to call you) or go local and call up your neighborhood broker. You might also try an “instant quote” below that doesn’t require any personal information. If you can save money, lock in the rate as they can pop back up quickly.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Peerstreet Case Study #1: 90-Day Late Condo Near-Foreclosure Recovery

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

I’ve invested over $50,000 of my “alternative” money into PeerStreet real estate notes because of the ability to diversify into 50+ different high-interest loans backed by physical real estate. Here is a case study from one of my first loans where I was worried it was going to turn out badly, but it turned around. This was much different than my experiences with Prosper and LendingClub, where 90-days late almost always eventually results in a total loss. You can find additional case study links and the most recent update to my overall portfolio performance in my Peerstreet review.

Initial investment details.

  • Property: 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 975 sf condo in Salem, MA.
  • Net Investor Rate/Term: 8.50% APR.
  • Amount invested: $1,073.
  • Term: 24 months with extension option.
  • Total loan amount: $123,750 from Peerstreet and $13,250 from loan originator (10% “skin in the game”).
  • Appraised at $199,000 = 62% LTV.
  • Loan secured by the property in first position.
  • Stated goal is buy-to-rent.

Here is the Zillow listing. The buyer appeared to get a condo for a good price ($130k). The unit last sold for $155k in 2016.

Timeline.

  • May 2017. Loan originated. Maturity is set for June 2018.
  • May 2017 to June 2018. Interest-only payments made as agreed upon. (My portion was taken out July 2017.)
  • June 2018. Borrower requests extension.
  • August 2018. 6-month extension approved and extension fee paid.
  • November 2018. Borrower requests another extension. Additional 4-month extension granted.
  • April 2019. Payments stop coming in. Loan is late. Full balance of loan is due.
  • June 2019. Now 60+ days late. Still no payments. Demand letter sent. Foreclosure process initiated.
  • July 2019. At around 90 days late, the loan was suddenly brought current and paid off. All back interest (including default interest) and fees paid.

If you look at the MLS data, they tried to list it in March 2019 for $288,000 and then reduced to $249,000 in May 2019. The listed was removed, so I’m not sure who paid off the loan, perhaps the borrower or the loan originator somehow refinanced it elsewhere. The price wasn’t unreasonable, as the neighboring unit sold for $268,000 in May 2018 (2 bed/1 bath/1,000 sf). Notice that for this note, the loan originator put up 10% of the loan, so it had “skin in the game”. I don’t know if that made a difference.

Final numbers. I invested $1,073 in July 2019 and got paid $192.27 of interest and $1,073 of principal for a total of $1,265.27 as of July 2019. (This was an automated reinvestment which included whatever cash was in my account, thus the odd numbers.) This works out to a 17.92% total return over two years, which is 8.59% annualized return. The number was a little higher than the stated interest rate due the various penalty fees the borrower paid. These numbers are net of all PeerStreet fees.

I haven’t had a Peerstreet loan go through the entire process of foreclosure yet, but will write another update if/when that happens.

Bottom line. The vast majority of my Peerstreet loans have been paid back in full in a timely manner. Some of them end up with issues like late payments, sporadic payments, and/or repeated loan extensions, like this one. This one ended up as an example of an investment that looked like it was heading for foreclosure at nearly 90 days late with little communication, but bounced back and ended up being paid in full.

If you are interested, you can sign up and browse investments at PeerStreet for free before depositing any funds or making any investments. You must qualify as an accredited investor (either via income or net worth) to invest. If you already invest with them, they now sync with Mint.com.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Unison: Your Home Has a ~30% Chance of Being Worth Less in 5 Years

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Unison is a “home co-investment” start-up, which means it wants a share of the equity of your home. If your home value goes up, then it wants some of the gain. If your home value drops, then it will absorb some of the loss. In exchange, the benefit to the homeowner is either an increased upfront home downpayment or the ability to cash out your home equity with no monthly payments. Unison is betting that over the long-term, your home value will go up and they will profit when you eventually sell (or when 30 years is up). In addition, they charge a one-time transaction fee at the time of closing (2.5% of proceeds) or at home-equity cash-out (3.9% of proceeds).

That’s the basic idea, although they aren’t technically a co-owner of your home. The arrangement is structured as an options contract with a secured lien on your home, as laid out here (click to enlarge):

In this example, when your home appreciated in value from $500,000 to $600,000, you would only keep 60% of that gain ($60,000), while Unison would take 40% ($40,000). Add in their original $50,000 back, and you get the total of $90,000 back on Unison. This is in addition to the 2.5% upfront ($1,250) you paid as an origination fee.

Unison’s business model depends on home prices going up over time in a reasonably-predictable manner, so they’ve done some research about the reliability of rising home prices. Using their data, Felix Salmon at Axios created this volatility chart that illustrates their conclusion that home price volatility is roughly the same order as S&P 500 volatility:

I don’t know if the average consumer really understands what “20% volatility” means (I don’t), so this statement is much more meaningful:

Any given home has roughly a 30% chance of ending up being worth less in five years’ time than it is today. If you can’t afford that to happen, you probably shouldn’t buy.

That’s an interesting statistic to keep in your head. Of course, it also means that you have a 70% chance of having your home price increase in 5 years, which is probably why many experts recommend that you expect to stay in your house for at least 5-7 years before buying. The odds are in your favor, but not overwhelmingly over a 5-year period.

Bottom line. I predict Unison will become successful, as long as they have patient sources of funding. Customers get a much bigger home downpayment upfront, and the payback is not until later and only taken out of profits (less pain). That’s a pretty brilliant idea in the context of behavioral finance. As a homeowner, you are paying a fee to sell off a piece of future upside (or downside) potential, but anything that makes it possible for people to buy a nicer house now is going to be popular.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Navy Federal Membership Open to Veterans and Family Members

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Navy Federal Credit Union is the nation’s largest credit union and has recently surpassed $100 billion in assets as reported by DepositAccounts. I can understand their growth, as many of their financial products have very competitive rates, including certificates of deposit specials and mortgage rates. If the recent rate drops have you looking to refinance, I would definitely compare their rates against the major rate quote sites like LendingTree, especially if you are looking for a jumbo loan or other non-standard mortgage type.

You can now join Navy Federal without serving in the military. It is true that until 2017, it was hard to become a member of Navy Federal unless you were active military, Department of Defense worker, or a military retiree. Even honorably discharged veterans couldn’t join! However, the current membership rules are more open. Here is their eligibility tool.

If you have ever served in the military, you are now eligible to join. This includes:

  • Active Duty Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard
  • Army or Air National Guard
  • Delayed Entry Program
  • Officer Candidate / ROTC
  • Reservist
  • Veteran, Retiree or Annuitant

Beyond that, if one of your immediate family members serves or has EVER served in the military, you are also eligible for membership. Immediate family members include:

  • Parents and grandparents
  • Children and grandchildren
  • Siblings and spouses

This applies even if they are not a NavyFed member themselves. You may need some form of identifying document that shows your family member’s military relationship. Call NavyFed at 1-888-842-6328 and they should be happy to assist you.

This change greatly opens their field of membership, which I am sure has contributed to their impressive growth in assets. We have never served, but we do have both past and current family members in the military.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Rates Drop Under 4% = Refinance Check! 7 Million People Can Lower Mortgage Rate By 0.75%+

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A mortgage broker once told me that he didn’t care if rates were high or low. He just wanted them to change. As long as interest rates move enough in either direction, more mortgages will be created. He’s probably getting a lot of calls right now, as the average 30-year fixed mortgage has dropped down to 3.82% from nearly 4.5% over the last 3 months (source).

The result? Nearly 7 million Americans can now refinance and potentially lower their existing rate by at least 0.75% according to mortgage analytics company Black Knight (source):

According to Axios, the average principal and interest payment would be reduced by $268 per month. Your number may differ, but still that’s every month! If you are looking for opportunities with a high return-on-time-invested, this could be a big one.

Bottom line. If you have a mortgage, now is a good time to compare your existing rate with what is available. Get an accurate full quote with all the costs involved with a online comparison site like LendingTree (tip: don’t enter a phone number if you don’t want them to call you) or go local and call up your neighborhood broker. You might also try an “instant quote” below that doesn’t require any personal information. If you can save money, lock in the rate as they can pop back up quickly.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

The Personal Finance Index Card: Book Version Differences

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After rediscovering the young adult versions of fitting personal finance advice on an index card, I decided to go back and read the book The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack. (I was able to find it via library eBook.)

I noticed that the book version of the “index card” was slightly different. The original card had 9 items, but two of them were merged away into each other (401k/IRAs) and (Pay Attention to Fees/Buy Index Funds). I bolded the new additions below. (You can see all chapters on the Amazon page.)

  1. Strive to Save 10 to 20 Percent of Your Income
  2. Pay Your Credit Card Balance in Full Every Month
  3. Max Out Your 401(k) and Other Tax-Advantaged Savings Accounts
  4. Never Buy or Sell Individual Stocks
  5. Buy Inexpensive, Well-Diversified Indexed Mutual Funds and ETFs
  6. Make Your Financial Advisor Commit To a Fiduciary Standard
  7. Buy a Home When You Are Financially Ready
  8. Insurance – Make Sure You’re Protected
  9. Do What You Can To Support the Social Safety Net
  10. Remember The Index Card

Here again is the original:

Here are my notes on the newly-addressed topics of home-buying and insurance.

Home-buying. This will always be a hard topic because it mixes in emotion, personal history, peer pressure, and all that fuzzy stuff. If you want to own a home, you need to make sure the purchase won’t blow up your overall financial picture. Nothing really surprising, but still good advice.

  • Get your debt under control first.
  • Save up as close to a 20% down payment as you can.
  • Stick with a 15 or 30 year fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Prioritize what you really want and need in a home. Stay within your budget.
  • Location, location, location.

Insurance. There are low-probability events that can destroy decades of hard work, and that’s why humans invented insurance to spread the risk. Here are their cut-to-the-chase bullet points:

  • Emergency fund – Maintain one!
  • Life insurance – If you’re young(ish), just buy 30-year level term insurance.
  • Property insurance – Raise your deductible as high as you can handle.
  • Health insurance – Always sure you stay in-network.
  • Liability insurance – Coverage for at least twice your net worth.

I’m glad that this book still retained its “quick-and-dirty” nature. No single rule will cover every scenario, but it’s good to have a clear and concise collection of the big points along with just enough explanation that you understand the basic reasoning behind it.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.