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New Site Launched for Client Referral to Housing/Credit Counselors



The first seminar for a pilot program that connects loan originators with housing counselors to assist challenged clients was presented on Jan. 23. The message from attendees: Provide simple steps for the referral process and explain the resources provided. The finishing touches are being put on a Web site,, made to do just that.


Pam Marron, a loan originator at Innovative Mortgage Services Inc.The “About the Site” section explains the three areas of help clients commonly need and how HUD credit and housing counselors can be the referral source to assist these clients for loan originators and real estate agents. Not all housing counseling agencies have the same services, but a great deal of time and work has been spent with one housing counseling agency (HCA), Neighborhood Home Solutions in St. Petersburg, Fla. with the focus on the top three areas of need that loan originators and real estate agents most encounter that prevent a client from purchasing a home:
1. Credit (and NOT credit repair)
2. Downpayment Assistance (DPA)
3. Home Budgeting


Tops on the list is assisting clients with credit issues

The correction of erroneous credit, the building of credit, improving credit scores and restructuring student loan repayments are all common issues that impede clients from getting a home. All HUD housing counselors are trained to assist clients with basic credit issues, but certified credit counselors are trained for in-depth credit counseling and debt management (not credit repair and debt settlement). Credit counselors can talk directly with credit reporting agencies and creditors with clients. They can also use credit tools that can determine how to improve credit scores, show what can be done to build credit and zero in on where a credit error exists.


Downpayment assistance program knowledge is second greatest need for clients and LOs

Keeping track of available downpayment assistance (DPA) programs, different underwriting criteria between the first mortgage and the second DPA mortgage, and a variety of other details that must be focused on can be daunting to most LOs.


Additionally, national mortgage wholesalers have realized the need for DPA programs for the independent LO side of business and have begun rolling out their own programs in the last few years. Wholesaler DPA programs are highly competitive with the existing city, county and state programs, offering DPA funds all year round.


In Florida, to streamline all DPA programs available, a matrix is being developed that will include the wholesaler, city, county and state programs and will start with city and county programs in Tampa Bay, Fla., expanding from there. Three wholesalers that provide proprietary DPA programs and a page that lists wholesalers that use Chenoa Funds will be included on the Web site and matrix spreadsheet. This spreadsheet provides specific information that LOs need, like maximum ratios, extra costs, income limits, etc. As more programs become available, they will be added. This document is being provided to ensure that all DPA options are available with pertinent information at-a-glance to assist LOs, real estate agents and housing counselors in determining what DPA a client might be eligible for in a particular area.


Home budgeting is third in client need

Many, especially Millennials, have never been taught how to properly budget for a home. Having a third-party look at your spending habits and put you on track for a home in your future provides hope for many who thought homeownership out of the realm of possibility. At an HCA event attended, a comment was made by a client receiving home budgeting education to their counselor that they were taking what was learned home to their parents who had never had budgeting education either!


To make the referral process as easy as possible, auto-fill forms to complete are located at Auto-fill documents, along with supporting documentation (if available), are needed to complete the handoff of a referral from a loan originator to the housing counselor.


If the documents are not completed and sent to the credit or housing counselor by the referring LO, there is nothing that connects you to the client to insure that your client is referred back to you when they are deemed “Mortgage Ready.”

Whether your client needs help with one or all three of the issues noted, Neighborhood Home Solutions can accommodate clients in Florida for services of this pilot program. There is a $275 Fee for Service and credit report cost of $20.18/single or $40.36/joint that must be paid upfront. Beverly Malina, credit and housing counselor, can be reached by phone at (727) 209-0131 or e-mail For more information or help outside of Florida, contact me directly at (727) 375-8986 or e-mail

Stay tuned.

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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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