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How to Check If a Personal Loan Company Is Legitimate

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Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as “Credible.”

While there are plenty of honest personal loan companies, there are also personal loan scams to keep your eye out for. But don’t worry — there are several ways to double-check if a loan company can be trusted.

Here’s how to tell if a loan company is legitimate, plus what to do if you’ve been scammed:

How to check if a loan company is legitimate

If you’re looking to take out a personal loan, here are a few ways to vet a lender before giving them your personal information:

  • Look for online reviews: Online reviews can be a great way to gauge what others’ experiences with the company have been like. If a company has either no reviews or only a tiny amount of glowing reviews that all seem to be written by the same person, it could be a major red flag.
  • Make sure the company is registered in your state: Before a lender can do business in a state, they must first have licenses from state regulatory agencies. You can check with your individual state’s agency to see if the lender is able to work with you.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau: While the Better Business Bureau (BBB) isn’t a definitive source for checking if a loan company is legitimate, it can help you see if the company has a history of treating other customers fairly. Watch out for companies with zero reviews — these might be loan scams.
  • Make sure the company’s website is secure: Look for the padlock symbol in the URL bar of your browser and check that it starts with “HTTPS” as opposed to “HTTP.” Both of these indicate that communications between your device and the site are encrypted and therefore secure.
  • Check its contact details: If the company has a phone number, call and ask verifying questions. If there’s a physical address listed, look it up with Google Maps to see if the result is actually a business.

In addition to verifying the lender you’re interested in, it’s also a good idea to consider how much a new loan will cost you over time. You can estimate how much you’ll pay for a loan using our personal loan calculator below.

Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay

Total Payment
$

Total Interest
$

Monthly Payment
$

With a
$
loan, you will pay
$
monthly and a total of
$
in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of
$
over the life of the
loan.


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Are loan forgiveness companies real?

There are some companies and organizations that can help you manage your debt, such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

However, none of these companies can grant you loan forgiveness, regardless of the type of loan you have.

The only type of loan forgiveness available is for federal student loans. Generally, you’ll have to work in a certain field and make payments for a specific amount of time to qualify.

Keep in mind: You can pursue student loan forgiveness on your own without the help of a company. And you don’t have to pay for it. If a company tries to charge you fees for loan forgiveness help, run the other way — it’s a scam.

How do loan scams work?

Loan scams can show up in a variety of ways, but the basic idea is the same: They trick you into paying money and then don’t come through with the loan funds.

Some common tactics of scammers include:

How to spot a personal loan scam

As you shop around for a personal loan, ask yourself the following questions to detect any potential scams:

Do they ask for money upfront? You should never have to pay money before you get your loan funds. A scammer might also require unusual payment methods, such as a prepaid credit card that can’t be tracked. Keep in mind that many legitimate personal loans come with an origination fee, which is normal. But if the lender is demanding other fees before you get your money, it’s likely a scam.

Are they using high-pressure sales tactics? Claiming that it’s a “limited-time offer” and that you need to “act now” are just a couple of ways a scammer might pressure you to make a fast, uninformed decision.

Do they check your credit? Personal loan lenders typically use a credit check to determine your creditworthiness. While there are some no-credit-check personal loans (like payday loans, pawn shop loans, and car title loans), other companies promising not to check your credit are likely a scam.

Did they approach you about the loan? Some lenders do advertise by mail with preapproved loan offers. But if a company approaches you out of the blue with an offer for a loan, it could be a scam.

Do they have a physical address? A legitimate company should be able to provide a physical address that you can verify. If you can’t find location information for the supposed company, it could be a front for a scam.

Do you feel comfortable with the company? Go with your gut. If something feels fishy to you, it probably is.

Learn More: Where to Get a Personal Loan

What to do if you have been scammed

Even after taking all of these precautions, it’s still possible to fall victim to personal loan fraud. If you’ve been scammed, follow these steps:

Can you get your money back from a scam? Unfortunately, if you sent money to a scam company through a prepaid credit card or similarly untrackable method, you likely won’t get your money back.

If the scammers got ahold of your credit card information, you might be protected by your card issuer. Under the Fair Credit Bill Act, you’re liable for only $50 of unauthorized credit card charges. But depending on your card issuer, you might not be liable for any of the charges at all.

Credible lets you compare legitimate loan companies

If you decide to get a personal loan, it’s essential to make sure that the loan companies you’re considering are legitimate. One way to do this is to compare lenders through a reputable personal loan marketplace like Credible.

With Credible, you can compare your prequalified rates in two minutes from multiple lenders that have been thoroughly evaluated and vetted. Credible wants to help you find the right for you and will only recommend lenders you can trust.

LenderFixed ratesLoan amountsMin. credit score
avant

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9.95% – 35.99% APR$2,000 to $35,000**580
  • Rates: 9.95% – 35.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5*
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $35,000**
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except CO, CT, HI, IA, NV, NY, VT, and WV
  • Min. income: $24,000
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 580
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the next business day (if approved by 4:30 p.m. CT on a weekday)
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, emergency expense, life event, home improvement, and other purposes

Avant personal loans review

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.

axos

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6.49% – 29.99% APR$5,000 to $35,000740
  • Rates: 6.49% – 29.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $35,000
  • Fees: No prepayment penalty
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all 50 states
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 740
  • Time to get funds: Next business day
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Axos Bank personal loans review

best egg

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5.99% – 29.99% APR$5,000 to $35,000640
  • Rates: 5.99% – 29.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Loan amount: $5,000 – $35,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except DC, IA, VT, and WV
  • Min. income: None
  • Customer service: Phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 640
  • Time to get funds: As soon as 1 – 3 business days after successful verification
  • Loan uses: Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Best Egg personal loans review

discover

View details

6.99% – 24.99% APR$2,500 to $35,000660
  • Rates: 6.99% – 24.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Loan amount: $2,500 – $35,000
  • Fees: None as long as you pay on time
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all 50 states
  • Customer service: Phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 660
  • Time to get funds: Funds can be sent as soon as the next business day after acceptance
  • Loan uses: Auto repair, credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home remodel or repair, major purchase, medical expenses, taxes, vacation, and wedding

Discover personal loans review

freedomplus

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7.99% – 29.99% APR$10,000 to $35,000Not disclosed by lender
  • Rates: 7.99% – 29.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Loan amount: $7,500 – $40,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: Does not disclose
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except CO, CT, HI, KS, MA, ME, NH, NV, NY, ND, OR, RI, VT, WV, WI, and WY
  • Min. income: None
  • Customer service: Phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Time to get funds: As soon as 2 business days
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding, travel, medical expenses, and other purposes

FreedomPlus personal loans review

lendingclub

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10.68% – 35.89% APR$1,000 to $40,000600
  • Rates: 10.68% – 35.89% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $40,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except IA
  • Min. income: None
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 600
  • Time to get funds: Usually takes about 3 days
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, paying off credit cards, home improvement, pool loans, vacations, and other purposes

LendingClub personal loans review

Based on a majority of borrowers from LendingClub’s marketing partners who were issued loans between 1/1/19-12/13/19. The time it takes for your loan to be funded may vary.

lendingpoint

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15.49% – 35.99% APR$2,000 to $25,000585
  • Rates: 15.49% – 35.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $25,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except CO, CT, HI, MA, MD, NV, NY, VT, WV, and WY
  • Min. income: $35,000
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 585
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the next business day
  • Loan uses: Home improvement, consolidate debt, credit card refinancing, relocate, make a large purchase, and other purposes

LendingPoint personal loans review

lightstream

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3.99% – 19.99% APR$5,000 to $100,000660
  • Rates: 3.99% – 19.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (up to 12 years for home improvement loans)
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except RI and VT
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: No
  • Min. credit score: 660
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the same business day
  • Loan uses: Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

LightStream personal loans review

LightStream disclosure

marcus

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6.99% – 19.99% APR1$3,500 to $40,0002660
(TransUnion FICO®️ Score 9)
  • Rates: 6.99% – 19.99% APR1
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Loan amount: $3,500 to $40,0002
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except MD
  • Min. income: $30,000
  • Customer service: Phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 660
    (TransUnion FICO®️ Score 9)
  • Time to get funds: Many Marcus customers receive funds in as little as five days
  • Loan uses: Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Marcus personal loans review

1Rate reduction available for AutoPay.

2You may be required to have some of your funds sent directly to pay off outstanding unsecured debt.

3After making 12 or more consecutive monthly payments, you can defer one payment as long as you have made all your prior payments in full and on time. Marcus will waive any interest incurred during the deferral and extend your loan by one month (you will pay interest during this extra month). Your payments resume as usual after your deferral. Advance notice is required. See loan agreement for details.

onemain financial

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18.00% – 35.99% APR$1,500 to $20,000None
  • Rates: 18.00% – 35.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Loan amount: $1,500 to $20,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must have photo I.D. issued by U.S. federal, state or local government
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: None
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the same day, but usually requires a visit to a branch office

OneMain Financial personal loans review

payoff

View details

5.99% – 24.99% APR$5,000 to $40,000640
  • Rates: 5.99% – 24.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $40,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except MA, MS, NE, NV, and OH
  • Min. income: None
  • Customer service: Phone, email, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 640
  • Time to get funds: As soon as 2 – 5 business days after verification
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation and credit card consolidation only

Payoff personal loans review

penfed

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6.49% – 17.99% APR$600 to $20,000
(depending on loan term)
670
  • Rates: 6.49% – 17.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Loan amount: $600 to $20,000 (depending on loan term)
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Does not disclose
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: No
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Time to get funds: 2 to 4 business days after verification
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, home improvement, transportation, medical, dental, life events

PenFed personal loans review

prosper

View details

6.95% – 35.99% APR$2,000 to $40,000640
  • Rates: 6.95% – 35.99% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Loan amount: $2,000 to $40,000
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except IA, ND, WV
  • Min. income: None
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 640
  • Time to get funds: On average, within 5 days of accepting your offer
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, home improvement, vehicles, small business, new baby expenses, and other purposes

Prosper personal loans review

sofi

View details

5.99% – 18.83% APR$5,000 to $100,000Does not disclose
  • Rates: 5.99% – 18.83% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except MS
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Time to get funds: 3 business days
  • Loan uses: Solely for personal, family, or household uses

SoFi personal loans review

upstart

View details

7.99% – 35.97% APR$1,000 to $50,000580
  • Rates: 7.99% – 35.97% APR
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,000 ($3,005 minimum in GA; $6,005 minimum in MA)
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except IA and WV
  • Min. income: Does not disclose
  • Customer service: Email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 580
  • Time to get funds: Within a day of clearing necessary verifications
  • Loan uses: Debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, home improvement, and other purposes

Upgrade personal loans review

upstart

View details

8.13% – 35.99% APR4$1,000 to $50,0005580
(in most states)
  • Rates: 8.13% – 35.99% APR4
  • Loan terms (years): 3 to 5 years4
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,0005
  • Fees: Origination fee
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Available in all states except IA and WV
  • Min. income: $12,000
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Min. credit score: 580
    (in most states)
  • Time to get funds: As soon as 1 – 3 business days6
  • Loan uses: Payoff credit cards, consolidate debt, take a course or bootcamp, relocate, make a large purchase, and other purposes

Upstart personal loans review

4The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 3-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 15% and 36 monthly payments of $33 per $1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.

5This offer is conditioned on final approval based on our consideration and verification of financial and non-financial information. Rate and loan amount are subject to change based upon information received in your full application. This offer may be accepted only by the person identified in this offer, who is old enough to legally enter into contract for the extension of credit, a US citizen or permanent resident, and a current resident of the US. Duplicate offers received are void. Closing your loan is contingent on your meeting our eligibility requirements, our verification of your information, and your agreement to the terms and conditions on the www.upstart.com website.

6If you accept your loan by 5pm EST (not including weekends or holidays), loan funds will be sent to your designated bank account on the next business day, provided that such funds are not being used to directly pay off credit cards. Loans used to fund education related expenses are subject to a 3 business day wait period between loan acceptance and funding in accordance with federal law.

Compare rates from these lenders without affecting your credit score. 100% free!
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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | LightStream disclosure | Read more about Rates and Terms

About Rates and Terms: Rates for personal loans provided by lenders on the Credible platform range between 4.99-35.99% APR with terms from 12 to 84 months. Rates presented include lender discounts for enrolling in autopay and loyalty programs, where applicable. Actual rates may be different from the rates advertised and/or shown and will be based on the lender’s eligibility criteria, which include factors such as credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history, and vary based on loan purpose. The lowest rates available typically require excellent credit, and for some lenders, may be reserved for specific loan purposes and/or shorter loan terms. The origination fee charged by the lenders on our platform ranges from 0% to 8%. Each lender has their own qualification criteria with respect to their autopay and loyalty discounts (e.g., some lenders require the borrower to elect autopay prior to loan funding in order to qualify for the autopay discount). All rates are determined by the lender and must be agreed upon between the borrower and the borrower’s chosen lender. For a loan of $10,000 with a three year repayment period, an interest rate of 7.99%, a $350 origination fee and an APR of 11.51%, the borrower will receive $9,650 at the time of loan funding and will make 36 monthly payments of $313.32. Assuming all on-time payments, and full performance of all terms and conditions of the loan contract and any discount programs enrolled in included in the APR/interest rate throughout the life of the loan, the borrower will pay a total of $11,279.43. As of March 12, 2019, none of the lenders on our platform require a down payment nor do they charge any prepayment penalties.

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Loans Bad Credit Online – Loans Bad Credit Online – Reforming India’s deposit insurance scheme | Fintech Zoom | Fintech Zoom

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Loans Bad Credit Online – Loans Bad Credit Online – Reforming India’s deposit insurance scheme | Fintech Zoom

Loans Bad Credit Online – Loans Bad Credit Online – Reforming India’s deposit insurance scheme | Fintech Zoom



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Loans Bad Credit Online – Reforming India’s deposit insurance scheme | Fintech Zoom

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The government’s incentive to step in and bail out depositors when banks fail is clear from past experience.

By Anusha Chari & Amiyatosh Purnanandam

The failure of the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank (PMC) in September 2019 shone a light on the limitations of India’s deposit insurance system. With over Rs 11,000 crore in deposits, PMC bank was one of the largest co-op banks. That the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) insurance covered depositors, provided little solace when the realisation hit that the insurance amounted to a mere Rs 1 lakh per deposit.

The predicament of PMC depositors is, unfortunately, not an anomaly. Several bank failures over the years have severely strained RBI and central government resources. While co-operative banks account for a predominant share of failures, other prime examples include the Global Trust Bank and Yes Bank failures. These failures entail a direct cost to the taxpayer—the DICGC payment or a government bailout. More importantly, bank failures impose long-term indirect costs. They erode depositor confidence and threaten financial stability, presenting an urgent need for deposit insurance reform in the country.

A sound deposit insurance system requires balancing two opposing forces: maintaining depositor confidence while minimising deposit insurance’s direct and indirect costs. At one extreme, the regulator can insure all the deposits, which will undoubtedly strengthen depositor confidence. But such a system would be very expensive.

A bank with full deposit insurance has minimal incentive to be prudent while making loans. Taxpayers bear the losses in the eventuality that risky loans go bad. Depositors also have little incentive to be careful. They can simply make deposits in the banks offering high interest rates regardless of the risks these banks take on the lending side.

Boosting depositor confidence and reducing direct and indirect costs require careful structuring of both the quantity and pricing of deposit insurance. Some relatively quick and straightforward fixes could help alleviate the public’s mistrust while improving the deposit insurance framework’s efficiency.

India has made some progress on this front over the last couple of years. First, the insurance limit increased to `5 lakh in 2020. Second, the 2021 Union Budget amended the DICGC Act of 1961, allowing the immediate withdrawal of insured deposits without waiting for complete resolution. These are very welcome moves. Several additional steps could bring India’s deposit insurance system in line with best practices around the world. Even with the increased coverage limit, India remains an outlier, as the accompanying graphic shows.

The government’s incentive to step in and bail out depositors when banks fail is clear from past experience. However, these ex-post bailouts are costly. The bailout process also tends to be long, complicated, and uncertain, further eroding depositor confidence in the banking system. A better alternative would be to increase the deposit insurance limit substantially and, at the same time, charge the insured banks a risk-based premium for this insurance. Under the current flat-fee based system, the SBI pays144 the same premium to the DICGC—12 paise per 100 rupees of insured deposits—as does any other bank!

A risk-based approach will achieve two objectives. First, it will ensure that the deposit insurance fund of the DICGC has sufficient funds to make quick and timely repayments to depositors. Second, the risk-based premia will curb excessive risk-taking by banks, given that they will be required to pay a higher cost for taking on risk.

India is not alone in trying to address the issue of improving the efficiency of deposit insurance. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recognizes that the regulatory framework governing deposit insurance is far from perfect and the United States is moving towards risk-based premia. The concept is similar to pricing car insurance premia according to the risk profile of the driver. The FDIC computes deposit insurance premia based on factors such as the bank’s capital position, asset quality, earnings, liquidity positions, and the types of deposits.

In India, too, banks can be placed into buckets or tiers along these different dimensions. The deposit premium can depend on these factors. It is easy to see that a bank with a worsening capital position and a high NPA ratio should pay a higher deposit insurance premium than a well-capitalized bank with a healthy lending portfolio. The idea is not dissimilar to a risky driver paying more for car insurance than a safe driver.

Risk-sensitive pricing can go hand-in-hand with the increase in the insured deposit coverage limits bringing India in line with its emerging market peers. In a credit-hungry country like India, these moves would build depositor confidence, possibly increasing the volume of deposits and achieving the happy result of the banking system channeling more savings to productive use.

Chari is professor of economics and finance, and director of the Modern Indian Studies Initiative, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Purnanandam is the Michael Stark Professor of Finance at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

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5 Signs You’re Not Ready to Own a Home, According to a CFP

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If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

The housing market has boomed over the last year, despite a global pandemic and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet. 

Many people are spending less on entertainment, clothing, travel, and other discretionary purchases during COVID. Federal student loan borrowers have seen temporary relief from their loan payments. These expenses will most likely rise again after the pandemic, and many people who committed to a new home with a large mortgage will struggle to keep up. 

I often speak with clients and prospective clients who want to buy a home before they have a strong financial foundation. Buying a home is not only one of the largest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime, but it’s also a huge commitment that’s extremely hard to undo if you have buyer’s remorse

It’s important to make a thoughtful, informed decision when it comes to a home purchase. Before you take the plunge into homeownership, check for these signs that you’re not quite ready to buy. 

1. You have credit card debt

Credit card debt can be a drain on your monthly budget, and when combined with student loans and a car loan, it can lead to high levels of stress. 

Generally, more debt means higher fixed expenses and little opportunity to save for long-term financial goals. Your financial situation will only get worse with the addition of a mortgage. I always recommend that clients be free of credit card or other high-interest debt before they consider buying a home. 

To rid yourself of credit card debt, take some time to get a good handle on your cash flow. Take an inventory of your spending over the last six to 12 months and see where you can cut back. From there, develop a realistic budget that includes aggressive payments to your credit cards. 

There are several strategies to help you knock out credit card debt fast. Regardless of the method you choose, stick with the plan and track your progress along the way. Once you pay off your credit cards, you can allocate your debt payments to savings, which can help you avoid this situation in the future.  

2. You have bad credit

Bad credit is not only a sign that you may not be ready to take on a mortgage, it can also signal a high risk to

mortgage lenders
. A high-risk status results in higher interest rates and more strict requirements to qualify for a loan. A mortgage is one of the largest loans you’ll take out in your lifetime, and if you get behind on payments, you could lose your home. 

Just as with credit card debt, bad credit could be a result of past financial mistakes. Dedicating the time to repair bad credit and improve your credit score will help you beyond purchasing your dream home. 

Start by pulling a recent credit report from each of the three credit bureaus so you can review it for errors. Dispute any errors, address past-due accounts, and bring your overall debt balances down. It’s helpful to learn what has a negative effect on your credit score so you can avoid these mistakes in the future. 

3. You don’t have an emergency fund (or an inadequate one)

If you’re unable to save for a rainy day, you probably don’t have enough money to buy a house. Owning a home is a big responsibility, and unexpected expenses pop up all the time. In addition, you could lose your job, have a medical emergency, or another unexpected expense unrelated to the home. Maintaining an emergency fund is a good sign that you have discipline and are prepared for the responsibility of homeownership.

Many financial experts recommend saving at least six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. If you have variable income, own a business, or own a house, you should save more. To build an emergency fund, set money aside from each paycheck and automate transfers to make the process easier. Give your emergency fund a boost when you receive lump sums such as bonuses or tax refunds. Start by saving one month of living expenses and build from there. 

4. You don’t have separate savings for your home

I always advise clients to set aside savings for a home in addition to an emergency fund. It’s a bad idea to start homeownership with no savings. Whether you have unexpected expenses related or unrelated to the home, having no emergency fund after a home purchase will lead to unnecessary stress — and possibly more debt. 

When purchasing a home, you’re responsible for a down payment and closing costs. While a 20% down payment is ideal to avoid private mortgage insurance, a down payment of at least 3.5% is typically required. Closing costs can range from 2 to 5% of the home’s value. 

Also, you will have moving costs, costs to spruce up your new place (like new furniture or light cosmetic updates), and any initial maintenance and repairs. Be sure to budget for these items to know how much to save on top of your emergency fund. It doesn’t hurt to boost your emergency fund, too, in preparation for homeownership. 

5. You have a low savings rate

It’s much easier to develop good savings habits before you have a lot of responsibilities. To get on track for financial independence, several studies show that you should save at least 15% of your income. The longer you wait, the more you’ll need to save. 

If your savings rate is low before you purchase a home, it will most likely worsen after becoming a homeowner. Even if your mortgage is similar to your rent, ongoing maintenance and repairs, higher utilities, and homeowners association fees can wreak havoc on your budget. 

Take a look at your current savings rate and see if you’re on track for financial independence. If you’re saving less than 15 to 20% of your income, work to improve your savings rate before you consider buying a home. A strong savings habit can help you build your home savings fund faster and ensure that a home purchase doesn’t impede your long-term financial goals. Finally, understand how much house you can afford so you can avoid being house poor. 

Buying a home can be rewarding, and when done the right way, it’s a way to build wealth. Before you decide to buy a home, it’s important to understand your numbers and ensure that you’re ready for the commitment. Without preparation, your dream home could be detrimental to your long-term financial goals.

Chloe A. Moore, CFP, is the founder of Financial Staples, a virtual, fee-only financial planning firm based in Atlanta, Georgia and serving clients nationwide.

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