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REACH Project assists with homeownership awareness, preparation | News



Buying a home can be a difficult process, especially if one isn’t well acquainted with financial and home-ownership knowledge.To make this process easier for the essential Aggies working on campus as support staff, the REACH Project, a charitable organization that helps Texas A&M’s essential workers, created a seven-step home ownership process, REACH’s founder and CEO Max Gerall said.

“The concept was a personalized, seven-step journey to home ownership, one that would be able to accommodate for each family’s various ability to own a home,” Gerall said. “We wanted to make sure that it would be something that was equitable.”

Steps one and two focus on education surrounding bank literacy, personal finance and credit repair with REACH’s partners American Momentum Bank and Junior Achievement, while the current step, the third one, focuses on the home ownership process, Gerall said.

Future steps four through seven will delve further into the details of home ownership, including obtaining pre-approval from REACH’s banking partners, working with REACH’s construction partner Doug French and Stylecraft Homes, finalizing bank negotiations and building and learning how to maintain one’s new home, Gerall said.

“We’ve actually had a couple of families, I’m very proud to say, that since that course and following that prescription if you will, have increased their credit score over 70 points,” Gerall said. “Taking someone from a very vulnerable place when going for a mortgage loan to a very competitive place was really awesome.”

The home ownership program has overall been successful for its first group, with many of the students taking advantage of the classes to work towards financing and owning a home, Gerall said.

“We’re really excited … we’re going to have about 3-5 families that we believe by the end of 2021 will actually be in their first home, which is truly, truly amazing,” Gerall said.

Cathy Robinson, an assistant unit director for the Corps of Cadets’ dorms, said she’s been involved since the program started several months ago and has found it very helpful.

“It’s been very helpful, it’s a lot of stuff that I didn’t know [about] that I learned. You know, how to get your credit together, all that, what you need to know about buying a house, closing costs. It’s been very helpful,” Robinson said.

While credit repair is one of the most significant changes she was able to make, the program has helped with savings management and other concerns in the home ownership process, Robinson said.

“I think I’m ready [to buy a house] … from the classes and stuff. My credit is on point, so [it will be] probably a couple or months or so, three months at the most,” Robinson said.

David Brower, a community development analyst with the City of College Station’s Community Services Department and a licensed loan originator, said he’s enjoyed teaching a homebuyer education course through REACH’s home ownership program. Buying houses touches on most aspects of financial life, Brower said, and with a comprehensive course like this it can be impactful to financial goals and understanding.

“From the beginning [REACH has] wanted to be able to help people … achieve the American dream and buy a house, and that’s where I come in,” Brower said. “There’s a lot of things about credit that are just kind of mysteries to people and the unknown tends to be scary, [so we want] people walking away with a good picture of … [a] path to take to fix credit issues.”

Gerall said one of the cool things about this program is that REACH worked with students to develop this whole program, including working with visualization and business students and professors from the Mays Business School.

“It’s been a really awesome community effort, really getting a broad brush stroke of the Aggie community involved, and so we’re really excited to see it develop and grow from here,” said Gerall. “I think that these first three to five [families] will kind of set the tone, if you will, and be a great example and a great motivational piece for the rest of our families.”

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Dave says: If you need a cosigner, you're not ready – Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal



Dave says: If you need a cosigner, you’re not ready  Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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How to improve your credit score in 2021: Easy and effective tips



If you’ve ever wondered “What is my credit score?” it’s probably time to find out. Having a good credit score can make life a lot more affordable. If you’re about to buy a house or car, for example, the higher your credit score is, the lower your interest rate (and therefore, monthly cost) will probably be.

Your number may also be the deciding factor for whether or not you can get a loan and ultimately determine if you are even able to buy something you want or need.

So, yes, the goal is to have the highest possible credit score you can, but increasing the number doesn’t just happen overnight. There are important steps to take if you want to increase your score, and the sooner you start working on it, the better.

“If you’re trying to increase (your credit score) substantially to accomplish a goal, you’re really going to have to have as much lead time as possible,” said Thomas Nitzsche, director of media and brand at Money Management International, a nonprofit financial counseling and education provider that advises people on how to legally and ethically improve their credit score on their own.

If you have fair credit and you’re trying to improve the number for a house purchase, for instance, you’ll want to start working on it at least a year in advance, he explained to TMRW.

But even though that sounds like a long time away, you can (and should!) start doing things right now to bump that number up. Below, see seven things you should do — and not do — to help improve your credit score:

1. Review your credit report

Review your credit report and look for errors that might be hurting your score. Morsa Images / Getty Images

The first thing you’ll want to do is pull up a copy of your current report so you know where you stand. You can get free reports from all three agencies — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — at Nitzsche said it’s important to take a moment and understand the financial snapshot of where you are today and where you want to be.

You’ll also want to take some time and look for any errors on your report, which could negatively impact your score. “If your name is misspelled, that’s not going to hurt your score,” he explained. “But if you see a late payment or missed payment (that’s in error), or maybe you have an account that should be reporting but isn’t, then that’s a problem and that will impact your score.”

If there is an error, you should dispute it and try to provide as much proof as you can.

One other thing: You can also ask a creditor to remove an issue if it’s been corrected (i.e., if you paid off a collection debt). Nitzsche said it doesn’t hurt to ask and the worst thing they could say is no.

2. Have good financial habits

“The biggest part of your credit score is payment history, so the most critical thing is never missing a due date,” Nitzsche said. Set up a monthly autopay or add all due dates to your calendar so you never miss a bill.

You can also achieve a higher score when you mix different types of accounts on your credit report. It may seem counterintuitive to get extra points for having debt in the form of student loans, mortgages and auto loans, but as long as you’re paying them off responsibly, it shows that you’re reliable.

3. Aim to use 30% or less of your credit at any given time

Know your credit limit and aim to only use 30% or less of it for a better credit score.Tim Robberts / Getty Images

Know your credit card limit, and try not to use any more than 30% of that number each month, otherwise your score could lose points for too much credit utilization.

Another thing you can do is ask your bank to increase your limit. “That will give you more flexibility to spend more,” Nitzsche said. You could also pay it off twice a month to keep the balance low. But he does warn that you never know when the balance is going to be reported to the bureau. It can happen at any point during the month, so it might be the day after you make the payment or the day before. “You don’t necessarily want to use the card and pay it the next day because that doesn’t give the bureau the chance to know that you’re using it,” he said.

4. Avoid requests for new credit

If you’re looking to increase your score around the time you want to buy a house or car, you won’t want to open up a new line of credit, like a retail card, credit card or loan. That’s because “hard” credit inquiries like those can lower your score, and sometimes it comes down to a few points over whether you’re approved or what your rate will be, Nitzsche said.

“Soft” credit inquiries, like when an employer checks your credit or when you pull your own report, won’t affect your score.

5. Keep all accounts open, even ones you don’t use anymore

Even if you don’t use that credit card from college, it’s a good idea to just keep it open because closing it could hurt your score. Nitzsche explained that you’ll be dinged some points for each account that is closed. If you want or need to mentally break up with a card, just cut it up instead.

6. Build your credit if needed

If you haven’t established credit yet, you might not even exist … in the credit report space, that is! “If someone has never fallen in delinquency on any subscriptions or utilities or never had collections on anything and they have not utilized credit cards or loans in the past seven to 10 years, they may not have a credit profile at all,” Nitzsche said. “That presents a challenge when you want to buy a home.”

If this sounds familiar, you may have to get a secured credit card where you put down a deposit, he advised. “You still have to make payments and use it responsibly. Not all banks offer them but you can usually check with your local bank or credit union.”

7. Reach out for help

If you want personal guidance on boosting your credit score, make an appointment with a credit counselor.kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

There are many apps and credit-monitoring services that can help you stay on top of your credit score. You could also reach out to a professional credit counselor who can help you navigate your specific situation. (Here’s a good resource about finding a reputable service.)

One last thing: Nitzsche warned that everyone should beware of credit repair scams that claim to be able to increase credit scores for an advance fee to get accurate negative information removed (even temporarily) from credit reports.


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Lifestyle News | ⚡How J&G Credit Recreations Assists Individuals to Gain Financial Stability Through Credit and Homeownership – LatestLY



Lifestyle News | ⚡How J&G Credit Recreations Assists Individuals to Gain Financial Stability Through Credit and Homeownership  LatestLY

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