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Landis Raises $165M with Funding from Will Smith, Jay-Z



From left: Will Smith, Landis' Cyril Berdugo and Tom Petit, Jay-Z (Getty, Landis)

From left: Will Smith, Landis’ Cyril Berdugo and Tom Petit, Jay-Z (Getty, Landis)

Will Smith and a company backed by Jay-Z are betting on a startup that seeks to make homeownership easier to obtain.

Will Smith’s Dreamers VC and a company backed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation participated in a $165 million capital raise for Landis, which seeks to help renters become owners. The funding round was led by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and included debt and Series A equity financing.

Landis has now raised $182 million since its founding in 2018. Led by Cyril Berdugo and Tom Petit, the startup seeks to help aspirational homeowners purchase a home through its technology platform.

The company will often work with someone who cannot secure a mortgage because of bad credit or the inability to come up with a down payment, according to Petit. Landis will use its technology to determine whether the aspiring homebuyer can afford to qualify for a mortgage in the next 12 to 24 months. If they can, Landis will rent the customer the property and provide a coach to help the client secure the mortgage.

The goal is for the resident to start paying a mortgage instead of rent.

“People get really attached to the house, so they redouble the efforts to get that mortgage,” said Petit, explaining the premise of the business plan.

Berdugo said the platform has no upfront costs for participants and aims to not collect rent for long.

“We are not a landlord, we are a homeownership program,” said Berdugo. “We do not want to be perceived as a single-family rental fund.”

Landis’s capital raise comes at a time when institutional investors are betting that renting is an increasingly preferred option. Billions of dollars are being poured into the single-family rental space with institutional investors such as Blackstone and KKR are acquiring and building new homes to rent out.

The sector, however, has come under criticism over concerns that single-family rental operators have higher eviction rates than mom-and-pop landlords.

Renting makes sense for Americans who might not be in a home for enough years to justify the closing costs on a sale, or who are at risk of losing the home to foreclosure.

Petit, for one, is a believer that homeownership is superior for the majority.

“For most of America, homeownership is a better option and we want to make sure no one is left out of that,” said Petit.

Research on this topic is mixed. One recent study by LendingTree found that median housing costs were lower for renters than homeowners with a mortgage in all 50 of the largest U.S. metro areas.

But studies have also found that homeowners build more net worth over time.

Landis has been able to attract some big-name investors, including the actor Will Smith, whose venture capital fund, Dreamers VC, looks to invest in startups that address social problems.

“Landis is an innovative company that also has a social mission we are aligned with,” Smith said in a statement. “We are excited to be part of a journey that helps Americans achieve homeownership through financial education.”

Landis also said investors include some fintech founders, such as those of Plaid, Cash App and Ethos. The founders of Instacart, Front, Flatiron Health and Tango joined the funding round as well.

Investment has poured into proptech, where companies are seeking to modernize tech-averse real estate sectors such as construction, mortgages, title insurance and home buying. While some proptech companies have launched IPOs, others have failed spectacularly, most recently Katerra, a SoftBank-backed company that sought to streamline the building process but ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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