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Good credit, good references and still one of 200 waiting for social housing

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Samantha Salter has been looking for a house to rent in Blenheim for more than a year.

She has been placed in transitional housing, but views rentals every week looking for something secure and permanent for her four children.

Salter said she knew Marlborough had a “housing crisis” before moving home from Australia in July last year, but she “didn’t think it was as bad as what people said”.

She is one of 200 people on Marlborough’s social housing register. In 2015, there were 13 people on the wait list.

“There’s not that many listings here in Marlborough, and they go so fast … they sometimes get 60 applications for a single house,” Salter said.

“And it’s kind of first in, first served, but people who offer more rent or more bond will always get the place. It’s crazy.”

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After breaking up with her partner, Salter and her four children moved back to Marlborough to be closer to family, sleeping in her sister’s lounge to begin with.

The young family then spent eight months at the Ministry of Social Development’s former motel in Springlands, now named the Blenheim Emergency Transitional Housing Service (BETHS), before one of the service’s individual homes became available.

“But it’s still transitional, they might still move us around, depending on who needs what,” Salter said.

“Every week I go to viewings, every week I get notifications on Trade Me for new places, and I apply for those … It’s a lot, driving to these houses every week, it takes up quite a lot of time.

“I’m only on a single income but I’ve got good credit and good references and all that. There are people out there with bad credit, they would have no chance.”

She believed high competition for rentals often encouraged landlords to charge high rents.

“It depends if you get nice people, who put up $400 a week for a three-bedroom, whereas some people ask for $500 or $600 because they know people will pay it. For a single mum with four kids, that’s a lot to spend on rent. But I would pay it, just for that stability.

The young family spent two weeks in a Blenheim motel, before moving to emergency housing. (File photo)

Scott Hammond/Stuff

The young family spent two weeks in a Blenheim motel, before moving to emergency housing. (File photo)

“Families are really getting the short end of the stick, because two people working can pay for a four-bedroom house if they want to, and just leave three bedrooms empty.”

The number of houses for sale in Marlborough had also plummeted in the last year, with 162 homes listed in August, down 36.3 per cent from August 2019.

It was a 13-year record low for Marlborough’s total stock, according to realestate.co.nz figures released on Tuesday. Eight other regions also had record lows.

Spokeswoman Vanessa Taylor said the country’s “cramped rental market” was likely to continue, given the country’s long-term housing shortage, a growing population surpassing 5 million this year, and more Kiwis returning home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Good credit and positive landlord references are no guarantee of finding a rental in Marlborough. (File photo)

Jim Rice/Stuff

Good credit and positive landlord references are no guarantee of finding a rental in Marlborough. (File photo)

Ministry of Social Development figures showed 132 people on the social housing register in June 2019, which rose to 200 in June this year.

Before 2016, the region’s register never rose above 30.

Christchurch Methodist Mission director Jill Hawkey, whose organisation helped run BETHS in partnership with Crossroads Charitable Trust, said homelessness in Blenheim barely existed 10 years ago.

Now the town had one of the country’s highest rates of homelessness per capita.

Christchurch Methodist Mission director Jill Hawkey says families, young people and beneficiaries struggle the most.

Scott Hammond/Stuff

Christchurch Methodist Mission director Jill Hawkey says families, young people and beneficiaries struggle the most.

She pointed to the FirstHomes initiative as a contributing factor, launched in Blenheim in 2013, which offered first-home buyers the opportunity to buy an “un-needed state house”.

At the time Marlborough was considered a low-demand area, and the programme was intended to free up capital, to invest in new state houses in high-demand areas like Auckland and Christchurch, Hawkey said.

Housing New Zealand’s stock in Blenheim decreased from 434 properties in 2012, to 405 by 2017.

The number of families seeking help started rising. People on the social housing register were assessed as eligible for social housing, but had not yet been placed in a state home.

As demand grew, so did the cost of renting, Hawkey said.

Marlborough’s median rent was $350 a week in 2016, but reached $420 in February this year.

Springlands emergency housing complex BETHS opens in 2018, after being converted from a motel.

Scott Hammond/Stuff

Springlands emergency housing complex BETHS opens in 2018, after being converted from a motel.

People on the register often competed with more than 15 other applicants for rentals, and found the few places advertised “routinely totally unaffordable”, she said.

“So why is Blenheim, which has the second highest non-metropolitan GDP per capita in the country, after Taranaki, unable to house its own families?”

Hawkey pointed to Marlborough’s growing population as a contributor.

The population increased by nearly 4000 people between 2013 and 2018, to 47,340, and the Government reclassified the region a “medium growth area”.

Marlborough’s population is increasing, and its housing supply is struggling to keep up.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Marlborough’s population is increasing, and its housing supply is struggling to keep up.

Hawkey said Marlborough’s expanding wine industry had resulted in an expanding labour force, with an estimated 2100 fulltime skilled workers and almost 1000 foreign seasonal workers joining the regional industry in the last few years, each needing somewhere to live.

The industry should have anticipated the impending housing crisis, Hawkey said.

“The market is not going to solve the housing crisis in Blenheim. While BETHS has been able to support over 50 homeless households to find permanent homes, most still struggle.”

A multi-agency response was needed and a regional strategy, bringing together the Marlborough District Council, Government agencies, iwi, and other housing organisations, Hawkey said.

“With all players around the table, to understand the drivers of this crisis and deliver strategies to resolve it. Only then will the most vulnerable families in Blenheim be able to find long-term secure homes where they can thrive.”

THE DETAIL/RNZ

On today’s episode of The Detail, Emile Donovan speaks to Stuff chief political reporter Henry Cooke and landlord Mark Todd about the reformed renting regulations and what they’ll mean for your tenancy, or tenants.

Developers, agencies and contractors had been discussing Marlborough’s housing problems at the Housing Group forum, which had been meeting since 2018.

Several projects hoped to ease the shortage were underway, including 12 seniors’ flats being designed for George St, 55 new Kāinga Ora homes to be finished by the end of next year, and new RSE lodgings being completed.

The Housing Group resolved at its July meeting to start forming sub-groups around areas of interest, so potential solutions could be developed and brought back to the main group.

Surveyor Vicki Nalder was drafting a Community Housing Action Plan to be tabled at the next Housing Group meeting in September, hoping an overarching vision for community housing would help to focus the group’s work.

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How to lower your credit card interest rate and save money

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Why pay high interest on your credit cards when you can simply bargain a lower rate? These tips can help you save big money on your bill.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A lot of people have struggled to pay their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic and many have turned to credit cards so they can kick the can down the road. Now the time has come to pay it down and some of the bills are eye-popping. 

Did you know you can bargain that interest rate down and save quite a bit of money?

You could ask for a lower rate, but according to a new study, you can bargain down 10 percentage points. So, if your interest rate is 24%, it could mean paying 14% instead. That’s still high but it’s a lot better than 24% interest. 

These numbers are staggering and can be a bit overwhelming. Americans have an average credit card balance of $5,300, totaling $807 billion across 506 million credit card accounts. Why are these numbers important? Because they want to keep you spending, which means you have leverage to bargain.

“It is absolutely possible to negotiate your rate down. In fact, your chances of doing so are better than you think they are. Close to 80% surveyed said they did just that,” Matt Schultz, an industry expert with LendingTree, said. “You can save serious money, especially if your balance is bigger.”

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You have to try, and you have to keep trying, even if the lender says no. Take it higher to a manager and keep pushing. Drops of 10% are possible and that could save you hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of dollars. 

RELATED: VERIFY: Can your stimulus check be seized by banks or private debt collectors?

“So, a lot of people have bad credit, some are thankful to have it at all. Is it possible for them too? Yes, absolutely it’s possible,” Schultz said. “Credit card companies are willing to talk with you because they want to keep your business. It benefits them to lower your rate to keep their card in your wallet.”

Paying down debt is liberating. Less debt is more buying power but you must advocate for yourself. If you don’t, the card companies are just as happy to take your money at the higher rate. 


LendingTree offers these suggestions if you plan to ask for a lower rate: 

How to ask for a lower APR

Before you make the call, come armed with ammunition in the form of other offers you’ve seen at a site like LendingTree.com or that you may have received in your snail mail. Take that offer and use it to frame the conversation: 

“I’ve been a good customer of yours for a long time and I like my card. However, the APR is 25% and I’ve just been offered one with a 19% APR. Would you be able to match it?” 

As survey data shows, they’ll likely be willing to work with you, at least to some degree.

RELATED: ‘ I was very grateful’ | WCNC Charlotte breaks through red tape to help woman get money she was owed

How to ask for a waived annual fee

Before you make the call, think about what you will accept. If you ask for a fee to be waived altogether and they only offer to reduce it, is that good enough? What if they offer you extra rewards points or miles or make some other counteroffer instead of a reduced fee? And perhaps most important, what if they say no? 

As with many negotiations, you have more leverage if you’re willing to walk away, so that could be an option. However, you shouldn’t make that threat unless you’re willing to follow through with it, and you shouldn’t follow through with it unless you’ve thought about what that would mean for your credit.

How to ask for a waived late fee

Just pick up the phone and be polite. If you’re a long-time customer with good credit and this is your first offense, the odds are in your favor. In fact, some card issuers will even waive a first late fee as a matter of policy. If you’ve been late multiple times in the recent past, however, your chances probably aren’t as good. Even so, it never hurts to ask.

How to ask for a higher credit limit

Start with a number in mind based on your current limit. The average increase reported in our survey was about $1,500, but your situation will vary. If your current limit is $500, a $1,500 bump might be asking too much. However, if your current limit is $5,000, that request might be just fine. 

Think about why you’re asking for the increase — for some extra spending power or to help your credit score — and then decide what to ask for. Just remember that it’s always better to start a negotiation by asking for a little too much. That way, when you negotiate, you can give a little bit and still get what you want.


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Can A Moving Loan Help Your Relocation? Find Out Here – Forbes Advisor

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Editorial Note: Forbes may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

Whether you’re relocating to another city or state, moving can be expensive. You might need money to pay for a moving van or movers, new furniture or your security deposit. If you don’t have money on hand to cover those expenses, a moving loan can help you fill in the gap.

Before you take out a relocation loan, learn what they are and how to compare your options to understand if it’s a good choice for your situation.

What Is a Moving Loan?

A moving loan—also referred to as a relocation loan—is an unsecured personal loan you can use to help cover your moving expenses. Unsecured loans don’t require you to use a personal asset to secure the loan. Because the loan is unsecured, lenders base your eligibility on factors like your credit score, income and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Like with other types of personal loans, you’ll have to repay your loan through fixed monthly installments.

When Should You Get a Moving Loan?

Although the answer varies based on your financial circumstances, it may make sense to get a moving loan if you can secure a good interest rate and can afford to repay the loan as promised. However, if you believe it might be hard for you to repay the loan, then it’s probably a good idea to avoid taking one out. Falling behind on payments can damage your credit score, making it harder for you to qualify for future loans.

How to Get a Moving Loan

  1. Search for lenders: To find lenders that offer relocation loans, search for the best personal loans online. A good place to start might be a lender comparison website. While there, carefully review the terms, minimum credit score requirements, fees and annual percentage range (APR) range of each lender. In addition, you can check with your local bank or credit union to see if it offers personal loans for moving.
  2. Prequalify with multiple lenders: Once you narrow down your list of the best lenders, prequalify with each one of them (if available). This allows you to see what terms and APR you might receive if approved. Make sure the lender does a soft credit check to protect your credit score from any pitfalls.
  3. Determine the amount you need to borrow: Estimate your moving or relocation expenses to see how large of a loan you need to take out. Different lenders have different minimum loan amounts. Also, some states have rules about the minimum amount you can borrow, which may affect the size of your loan.
  4. Apply for your moving loan: After you select the lender that matches your needs, complete the application process. Prepare to provide the lender with personal information, such as your income, date of birth and Social Security number (SSN). Some lenders will require you to provide W2’s, pay stubs or bank statements to confirm your income.
  5. Wait for the lender to make a loan decision: After you apply, wait for the lender to review your application. Some lenders might approve you within seconds, while others may take longer. If a lender denies your loan, ask them for an explanation. Applying with a co-borrower or co-signer, improving your credit score, reviewing your credit report for errors or requesting a smaller amount may improve your chances of approval.
  6. Sign the loan agreement and receive funds: Once approved, the lender will send you a loan agreement to sign. After you sign the agreement, the lender will most likely deposit your funds directly into your account. The time of funding varies for different lenders—some lenders can issue the funds the same day while others may take a week or longer.
  7. Repay your loan: Finally, repay your loan as promised. Making late payments or defaulting on the loan can damage your credit score. Setting up autopay is one way to ensure you’ll never miss a payment.

Pros of Moving Loans

  • Quick access to funds: If your loan application is approved, some lenders may deposit your funds into your bank account the same day or within a week.
  • Flexible loan terms: Some lenders allow you to take out personal loans for moving with loan terms as short as 12 months and as long as 84 months. A long-term loan may have a lower minimum monthly payment, which might better suit your budget. However, the downside is that you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan.
  • Lower interest rates than credit cards: The average interest rates for personal loans are usually lower than those for credit cards. If you have a good credit score (at least 670) and a stable income, you may be able to secure a good interest rate—an interest rate that’s lower than the national average.
  • No collateral required: Since loans for moving typically require no collateral—an asset that secures the loan—you won’t have to worry about a lender taking your asset (at least without a court’s permission).

Cons of Moving Loans

  • Fees: Some lenders charge origination fees between 1% and 8%—these fees can be a huge drawback since the lender usually subtracts them from your loan amount. Other common personal loan fees include application fees, returned check fees, late payment fees and prepayment fees.
  • Potentially high interest rates: If you have less-than-stellar credit or minimal credit history, your lender may charge you high interest rates. Some lenders have APRs above 30%.
  • Missed payments can damage your credit score: If you miss a payment or default on the loan, it can damage your credit score. This will make it more difficult for you to qualify for future loans.

Moving Loan Alternatives

If you want to avoid the potential cons of a relocation loan, consider these alternative options to help cover your moving expenses or rent.

0% APR Credit Card

Borrowers with good to excellent credit scores (at least 670) can avoid paying interest and high fees with a 0% APR credit card. These cards come with interest-free promotion periods, which can last for up to 21 months. If you pay off your balance before the promotion period expires, you won’t have to worry about paying interest. However, providers will charge interest on unpaid balances once the introductory period ends.

Family Loan

Family loans are another way to avoid paying interest or to pay minimal interest when it comes to your relocation expenses. With this option, you can also avoid the formal loan application process. The loan agreement between you and the family member should spell out the terms and conditions of the loan. Repay the loan as promised to avoid causing damage to your relationship.

Payday Alternative Loan

If you can’t qualify for a relocation loan or have trouble finding moving loans for bad credit, consider using a payday alternative loan. Some federal credit unions offer these loans, which are designed to help you avoid the high-interest charges of payday loans. You can borrow up to $2,000; loan terms range from one to 12 months and the maximum interest rate is 28%. To use this option, you must be a member of a federal credit union or be eligible for membership.

Savings

Instead of using a personal loan for moving, it might be better to use your savings, if possible. If you know how much it will cost, then create an automatic savings plan to cover most or all of your relocation expenses.

Relocation Package

If you’re moving for a new job, ask your new employer if it will cover some of your relocation expenses. Some employers offer this to employees as an incentive to accept the job offer. Even if the employer doesn’t offer this, you can ask for a relocation bonus or try negotiating a higher salary.

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The 10 Biggest Car Buying Mistakes to Avoid With Poor Credit

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Many poor credit borrowers worry about financing a vehicle, and they may be worried about making a big mistake in the process. Getting an auto loan can be a lengthy and stressful affair, but we’ve got ten tips to help you avoid making a car buying mistake when your credit score isn’t great.

10 Car Buying Mistakes

When you have bad credit, the details of your auto loan are very important. Since bad credit borrowers may qualify for higher interest rates than borrowers with good credit, getting a good deal takes on a new meaning. Not only should you look for a good selling price on a vehicle, but you should also be mindful during the entire process to avoid missteps that could cost you in the long run.

Avoid these ten mistakes while buying a car with bad credit:

1. Choosing the Longest Loan Term Possible

When you’re financing, it can be easy to make the mistake of financing for a long time. Longer loan terms equal a smaller car payment, but it’s not a great idea financially. Auto loans typically have terms that can range from 48 to 96 months, and almost always use a simple interest formula. Your interest charges are based on your loan term, interest rate, and loan balance. The longer you stretch your loan, the more you’re going to pay for that vehicle.

If you have bad credit, you may qualify for a high interest rate. And if you have a long loan term on top of that high interest rate, it could mean paying more for the vehicle than it’s worth.

It’s recommended that you choose a loan term that doesn’t exceed more than 84 months (especially if you finance a used car with poor credit). If you have a high interest rate, it’s a good idea to shop for a vehicle that you can comfortably pay off within 48 to 72 months.

2. Ignoring the Interest Charges

Try not to get into the mindset of “worry about those later” when it comes to your interest charges. It’s easy to get excited about your next vehicle, but don’t forget to take a hard look at your interest charges – it’s a large part of your total cost.

You can ask your lender to see an amortization schedule of your car payments, which outlines how much interest you pay each month and your total interest charges by the end of the loan (if you stay current and don’t pay extra). If you notice that you’re paying thousands of dollars more than what the vehicle is actually worth, it may be wise to either apply with a different lender, negotiate for a lower rate, consider a cosigner, or shop for something less expensive.

3. Being a Payment Shopper

Often, when you shop at a dealership, the dealer may tell you “If you buy this car, we can get the payment down to so-and-so.” While shopping for a vehicle around a monthly payment sounds like a good idea on the surface, it may not be the best way to go about it.

If you find a car you like but the monthly payment is too high, a dealer may say they can change some terms to make the payment lower. This often means extending the loan term to get a lower payment making the car easier to afford each month. However, extending a loan’s term without lowering the interest rate means paying more for the vehicle over the course of the loan.

Instead of shopping around based on monthly payment, shop based on the car’s selling price and loan term you can afford instead. Stick to your maximum budget and loan term, and try to find a vehicle that has a monthly payment you can afford.

4. Only Worrying the About Vehicle’s Selling Price

Many borrowers are most concerned about the actual selling price of the car and do their best to get the lowest possible price. While this is important, you have to remember that the selling price of a vehicle is only the starting point of the total cost.

Don’t forget about other dealer docs, taxes, titling and licensing fees, and extra dealer add-ons. Typically, you can either pay these fees upfront or roll them into your loan – but paying them upfront means a lower loan balance, a lower monthly payment, and fewer accrued interest charges. There’s also the cost of regular maintenance and auto insurance that you need to budget for, too! Remember that there are only a few things that are non-negotiable at a dealership – taxes, registration, and titling fees are some of the only things you can’t haggle on.

5. Skipping the Vehicle History Report

If you’re buying a used car, make sure to look up its history. You can request a vehicle history report. There are also many sites out there that offer reports on used cars before you sign the dotted line.

Additionally, make sure to take a good look at the car’s title. Some branded titles include: flooded, reconstructed, fleet, or lemon. Dealerships don’t typically have vehicles with branded titles, but if you do come across a car with a branded title, it may be more costly to insure and can have a higher risk of mechanical failures. Aim for a used vehicle with a clean title and clean history.

6. Not Rate Shopping

Rate shopping is applying with multiple lenders (of the same type) within a short window of time. It minimizes the impact of hard pulls on your credit score.

You may know that when you apply for a car loan, a lender is very likely to do a hard inquiry on your credit reports. One hard inquiry hurts your credit score – typically around five to 15 points for up to 12 months. However, if you apply with multiple auto lenders within a two-week period, only one hard pull impacts your credit score. All are reported, but only one carries the impact because the credit scoring models can tell when a borrower is looking to take on new credit and they don’t punish them for looking for a good deal.

When you have poor credit, it’s important to look for a low interest rate and a good deal. It can be harder for borrowers with credit challenges to get a low interest rate. By applying with multiple lenders within two weeks, you can get a better idea of what rates you qualify for and choose the right loan for your situation and wallet without having to worry about drastically lowering your credit score.

7. Skipping a Down Payment

The 10 Biggest Car Buying Mistakes to Avoid With Poor CreditHere at Auto Credit Express, we’re often asked by readers if it’s possible to get an auto loan without a down payment. And the answer is yes, it’s possible, but bad credit borrowers are typically required to have one.

If you have poor credit and you haven’t planned for a down payment, it could mean getting turned down for auto financing. Subprime lenders – lenders that assist borrowers with credit challenges – usually require a down payment of at least $1,000 or 10% of the vehicle’s selling price.

Even if you qualify for an auto loan that doesn’t come with a down payment requirement, down payments have many benefits. They lower your vehicle’s selling price which leads to a lower loan amount, fewer interest charges, and a smaller monthly payment. Having a down payment also increases your chances of getting approved for auto financing.

8. Not Getting a Reported Auto Loan

Some auto lenders don’t check your credit when you apply for a car loan, usually catering to borrowers with credit challenges. But while skipping the credit check is tempting, this usually means that the auto loan isn’t going to be reported on your credit reports.

A loan that isn’t reported to the credit bureaus means that your on-time payments don’t do anything to improve your credit score. When you have poor credit, a priority is often to get a loan that can improve your credit for future auto loan opportunities. If you want your credit score to see an improvement from the auto loan, ask the lender about their reporting practices.

If you decide to go with a car loan that isn’t reported, know that while the timely payments aren’t going to boost your credit, any missed/late payments are likely to be reported.

9. Taking the Car Home Before the Loan Is Approved

Some dealerships allow for spot deliveries, which is when the borrower gets to take the car home before the financing is finished. This is also called yo-yo financing, and it can cause some stress for you.

If you take a vehicle home before the financing is done, you may get a call and be told that your application was denied – and you have to bring the car back to the dealership to figure something out. Three things usually happen in this scenario: you can return the car and walk away; change the loan terms so you qualify; or find a different lender that can approve you.

Spot deliveries can create inconvenient situations, and possibly create the need for you to return to the dealer multiple times before the vehicle is officially yours. To avoid falling into yo-yo financing, don’t take home a car until the financing paperwork is completely done and you know that you’re approved for the loan.

10. Forgetting About Car Insurance

When you’re financing a vehicle, the lender requires that you have full coverage auto insurance. The car is the lender’s property until you complete the loan, so they require that it’s fully covered.

Full coverage insurance typically carries a higher premium than just a personal liability and property damage (PLPD) coverage plan, so be sure to budget it. You can usually call an insurance agent, tell them the type of vehicle you plan to finance, and they can give you an estimate over the phone.

To compare costs, be sure to call a few different insurance companies before you complete the financing paperwork. Many dealers require that you have proof of auto insurance, or an insurance binder before you can drive the car off the lot!

Ready to Find a Dealership With Bad Credit Options?

Since the car buying process can be long and stressful for borrowers with bad credit, we want to offer some help. At Auto Credit Express, we’ve created a nationwide network of dealers that are signed up with subprime lenders who specialize in assisting borrowers with credit challenges.

Instead of looking all over town hoping to run into a dealership that’s signed up with bad credit lenders, start right here with us instead! Fill out our free auto loan request form, and we’ll look for a dealer in your local area – no cost and no obligation.

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