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What credit score do you need to buy a house?

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Want to buy a home? Make sure your credit score is in tip-top shape first. (iStock)

For many people, buying a home is the most expensive investment they’ll ever make. Preparing for the investment can take a bit of time and preparation. Spending time preparing for a home purchase can save money, so it’s worth trying.

One essential part of preparing to buy a home is understanding what happens to your credit score. Lenders use your credit information, specifically your credit score, to determine if you qualify for a home loan and how much they can lend you. Additionally, your credit score — whether you have poor credit or excellent credit — can affect your interest rate (which, in turn, affects your monthly payment).

Before you begin applying for a home loan, make sure you find the right mortgage rate for you. Credible can compare multiple vendors and provide you with personalized rates within just minutes — and it doesn’t impact your credit.

If you’re not pleased with the rates you’re given, take some time checking your own credit and make any changes necessary to increase your credit score. After all, credit scores change over time.

This is the average credit score you need to buy a home

The score required to qualify for a mortgage loan varies by loan type, location and lender — but some scoring models will help you estimate the minimum score you need to get a loan.

You can also use Credible’s free tool to see what kind of mortgage you can afford as you shop for homes.

To qualify for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loan, you need a minimum credit score of 500. If your score is between 500 and 579, you’ll need to provide a down payment of at least 10 percent. If your score changes to above 580, you may be able to qualify for an FHA loan with a down payment of 3.5 percent or less.

HOW NEW FICO SCORE CHANGES AFFECT YOUR CREDIT

If you need a jumbo loan (a mortgage for an amount that exceeds conforming loan limits), you’ll need an excellent credit score. Additionally, if you want to apply for a private loan (not FHA), the lender will likely require that you have a higher score. You should have a credit score of at least 680 before you apply for a jumbo loan and a score of 650 or higher to qualify for conforming loans not insured by the FHA.

Common credit information factors that impact your credit score:

  • Credit age
  • Credit utilization
  • Credit history
  • Mix of credit
  • Amount of debt
  • Length of credit history
  • New credit (and inquiries)
  • Payment history (i.e. paying your bills on time)

Your payment history and credit utilization make up most of your score, so these two areas will have the most considerable impact in helping or hurting your credit.

CAN YOU NEGOTIATE YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT?

To secure the best rates, aim for a credit score of 680 or higher, no matter what type of loan you seek (a personal loan, home loan, auto loan or beyond).

How to improve your credit score to get a mortgage

If you have a bad credit score, and you’re still interested in purchasing a home, there are a few things you can do.

Save for a higher down payment

Show lenders you’re serious about your purchase by providing a larger down payment. If you have poor credit, presenting a down payment of 20 percent or more can help shift the odds of approval in your favor.

Apply for an FHA loan

If your score is below 650, an FHA loan could be your best option. Borrowers with scores in the low 500s can qualify for a loan, though you will be required to provide a down payment of at least 10 percent of the total loan.

Improve your credit score

If you want to avoid higher interest rates and higher monthly payments, take time to improve your credit score by paying off debt and making bill payments on time every month.

HOW STUDENT LOANS AFFECT YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Is it possible to buy a house with bad credit?

You can purchase a home with poor credit, though your options will be limited and you may have to pay a higher interest rate. According to a report from the FHFA, only 19 percent of borrowers in 2016 had a credit score below 620. While it is possible to get a home loan with a lower score, it may be difficult. If your score is lower than 500, you won’t qualify for a home loan at all.

How fast can you raise your credit score?

Raising your credit score depends on the type of negative marks you have and the actions you take right now. For example, missed payments can affect your credit score for up to 18 months, whereas closing an old account affects your score for about three months.

Additionally, your lenders may only submit information to credit scoring companies once per month. Aim to check your score about once a month if you’re improving credit habits and seeking score changes. Plan for at least three to six months before you check your credit score for significant changes.

If you’re trying to improve your credit score reduce your debt-to-income ratio, make all your payments on time, earn more money, don’t close any accounts, and avoid applying for new credit cards or credit accounts for a few several months.

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How To Find A Co-Signer For A Loan – Forbes Advisor

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If you need to borrow money and your financial situation isn’t the strongest, you might be able to boost your odds of approval by seeking out a co-signer. And on the flip side, if you have good credit and a strong income, it’s possible that someone might come to you and ask you to co-sign for their loan.

The truth is that co-signing on a loan can be a win-win for both parties, but it can also result in broken relationships, destroyed credit and financial hardships for the borrower and the co-signer. In order to forge a successful co-signer relationship, you need to know exactly what a co-signer is, how the arrangement works and how to dodge potential pitfalls.

What Is a Co-signer?

A co-signer is a secondary person who agrees to pay back a loan in case the primary borrower defaults (i.e., doesn’t pay it back). When you co-sign on a loan, the loan is recorded on both your credit report and on the main borrower’s credit report. As long as they make on-time payments, you’ll get the benefit of those marks too. However, if the borrower misses a payment or just stops paying on the loan entirely, you’ll be on the hook for the loan. And if you fail to pay up, the lender can actually take you to court for the money.

If you’re looking to borrow money, lenders generally require you to get a co-signer if you have bad credit or no credit, limited income or something else that makes you a lending risk. This is commonly the case for young people who are just starting to build their finances, and who may not have any credit history yet. For example, roughly 90% of all private student loans were made with a co-signer during the 2019/2020 school year according to MeasureOne, a data analytics company.

However, not all lenders accept co-signers, so if you have a limited credit history and think you’ll need help qualifying, it’s best to confirm with the lender before applying.

When a Co-signer Makes Sense

Using a co-signer on your loan can make sense in a lot of cases:

  • You have bad credit
  • You don’t have much income
  • You’re young and you don’t yet have credit in your name

Using a co-signer can help you overcome these barriers so you can get approved for a loan. You may even be able to get lower interest rates if you and your co-signer are approved.

But in order for this setup to work, you’ll need to have a few things in place:

  • Trust between the borrower and the co-signer. The borrower is asking a lot of the co-signer, and so you’ll want to make sure you trust each other.
  • The co-signer needs to have a good credit score. If the co-signer’s credit is the same as yours—or worse—they may not be approved to co-sign on the loan.
  • The co-signer needs to be able to pay the loan on their own. If the borrower defaults on the loan, a co-signer should be able to comfortably afford the payments on their own.

Co-signer vs. Co-borrower

A co-signer is someone who agrees to be a backup for the loan payments. A co-borrower, on the other hand, is someone who’s equally liable for each payment (i.e., before it’s past-due), and who typically also shares ownership rights for whatever the loan was for.

For example, a husband-and-wife team may be co-borrowers on a loan for a house and both listed on the title. This means they own the home equally, and are both responsible for making payments each month.

But if a parent co-signs on their kid’s car loan, they aren’t first in line to make the payments. The lender only contacts them for payment if their kid doesn’t pay up. They also don’t have any ownership rights in the car—even though they’re on the hook to pay for it.

How to Find a Co-signer

Just about anyone can be a co-signer. But since you both need to trust each other, it’s more common to use friends and family with whom you already have an existing and healthy relationship.

If you need a co-signer, make sure you consider who to ask carefully. This is a big ask of them. You’ll need to be open when discussing your financial situation, and they’ll need to be comfortable with disclosing their financial situation, too.

It’s entirely possible that your first choice for co-signer may not be able to comfortably take on the financial responsibilities. If that’s the case, you need to be able to let them off the hook gracefully. Even if they are financially able to co-sign for you, they may not want to take the risk, and you need to be understanding of that.

In fact, it’s entirely possible that you may not have anyone close enough to you who could be a good co-signer. In this case, it may be necessary to consider some popular alternatives to a co-signer arrangement.

Co-signer Alternatives

Not everyone is able to use a co-signer, and that’s OK. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Here are a few other options to try:

Shopping Around With Other Lenders

The world is full of all types of lenders, some of whom specialize in the types of loan applicants who traditionally need a co-signer. These “bad credit loans” can be a good (if expensive) alternative, but you’ll want to be careful here as there are a lot of shady lenders.

Here are two important things to ask of any bad credit loan lender:

  • What are the rates and fees? Avoid short-term payday loans, which typically charge APRs of 400%, compared to the average two-year personal loan at 9.34% APR.
  • Do you report to the credit bureaus? This will help you build credit, so you don’t need to rely on these types of lenders in the future.

Use Collateral

You might not have a person who can guarantee your loan, but you might have property. Collateral refers to something you own that you agree to give to the lender in case you default on the loan. If a loan has collateral, it’s called a secured loan. Common secured loans include auto loans, mortgages and even some personal loans.

If your lender allows it, you may be able to qualify by agreeing to use something valuable you own as collateral. But remember, if you put up your car as collateral, for example, and fail to pay the loan, your lender can repossess your car.

Ask Friends and Family

If your friends and family are financially stable and willing to lend you the money but prefer not to co-sign on a loan, consider asking them for the money outright. You could ask for it as a gift, or better yet, a loan that you repay back to them.

If you opt for the loan route, make sure you draft up a legal agreement of your own. This reduces the likelihood that your relationship will sour over time if your co-signer feels like they aren’t getting paid back according to schedule. You don’t want to be that family member they’re always hounding for cash.

Go to a Credit Union

Credit unions are often more willing to work with you than banks or other lenders. Of course, it’s not a free-for-all and you will need to meet their loan requirements. But if you’re having a hard time getting approved elsewhere, it might be worth stopping by a credit union in your area to see if they can help.

The downside is that credit unions have their own membership requirements which you’ll need to meet before you apply.

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Fall 2020 Brings Increased Regulatory Focus on Financial Institution Detection of Human Trafficking | Moore & Van Allen PLLC

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On October 15, 2020, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of Treasury (FinCEN) released its Supplemental Advisory on Identifying and Reporting Human Trafficking and Related Activity (Supplemental Advisory). The last time FinCEN provided guidance on identifying trafficking in anti-money laundering (AML) processes was in Guidance on Recognizing Activity that May be Associated with Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking – Financial Red Flags on September 11, 2014. The evolving tactics of human traffickers and behaviors of victims required updated guidance in order for financial institutions to better meet Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) obligations to assist the government in detecting and preventing money laundering. 

The Supplemental Advisory focuses on four emerging tactics used by human traffickers to carry out and hide the proceeds from their illicit operations: front companies, exploitative employment practices, funnel accounts, and alternative payment methods. Front companies are lawful, licensed, and registered businesses which are used by traffickers to comingle the illicit proceeds generated from their scheme of human exploitation with that of a legitimate business. Examples include massage parlors, nail salons, even electrician services, and faith-based mission work. 

Labor trafficking can be harder to detect than sex trafficking for AML departments. FinCEN’s Supplemental Advisory alerts financial institutions to examples of exploitative labor practices, including visa fraud, wage withholding, and recruitment fee advances. Note that in 2019, the Federal Acquisition Regulation: Combating Trafficking in Persons was amended to address prohibited recruitment fees and broadened contractor responsibility for violative recruitment fees in supply chains. 

Funnel accounts continue to be a common tactic wherein a trafficker coerces a victim to open one or more bank accounts in their own name, and then directs them to deposit, transfer, wire, and withdraw monies in amounts below a reporting threshold, for the benefit the trafficker or the enterprise. Because the accounts are often held exclusively in the victims’ names, the trafficker remains anonymous. 

Such account activity may lead to an Unusual Activity Report or Suspicious Activity Report but that would erroneously target the victim, not the perpetrator. Accounts may be closed by the financial institution, or at the direction of the trafficker, following overdraft or low balances, which can cause victims to incur bad credit status and prevent them from accessing financial services in the future. 

The Supplemental Advisory further alerts financial institutions to the prolific use of prepaid cards, virtual currencies, smartphone cash applications, and third-party payment processors to advertise their sex trafficking business and receive payment. 

Although the indicators list addended to the Supplemental Advisory is not significantly different than past iterations, it adds a set of case studies. Specific perpetrator and victim vignettes are effective in modernizing detection tools as they allow financial institutions to keep their pulse on real life examples relayed by law enforcement and survivor advocates. The Supplemental Advisory also reminds financial institutions that they are protected from liability for information sharing afforded under Section 314(b) of the USA Patriot Act. Traffickers often implicate multiple financial institutions and only through a wider lens and open communication can otherwise lawful-appearing activity be identified as suspicious.  

Finally, the Supplemental Advisory notes FinCEN’s Customer Due Diligence Rule, promulgated in 2018, which generally requires some financial institutions to identify beneficial owners of commercial customers. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, “whoever knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value” may be subject to criminal and civil liability. Therefore, diligence and monitoring processes are to include potential third-party participants in an exploitive scheme.  

FinCEN’s advisory on human trafficking is timely. In the last few months, regulators have signaled increased attention on financial institution responses to human trafficking. This past summer, Deutsche Bank was fined $150M by The New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) for compliance failures related to client Jeffrey Epstein, his sex trafficking enterprise and correspondent banks. In the Consent Order, NYDFS found the Deutsche Bank “conducted business in an unsafe and unsound manner [and] failed to maintain an effective and compliant anti-money laundering program.” This September, Westpac Bank was fined $920M USD by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Australia’s financial intelligence, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism regulator) for failures in AML reporting, record keeping and detection, including transfers indicative of child sex trafficking. This fine is the largest paid to an Australian regulator for violation of money laundering laws to date. Also in September, the United Kingdom announced that the U.K. Modern Slavery Act of 2015 will be strengthened to (i) allocate more funding to enforce its requirements and (ii) mandate that companies’ modern slavery statements cover certain topics ranging from due diligence to risk assessment. 

Increased regulatory focus on financial institution responses to human trafficking deserves attention.

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Can I Negotiate a Bad Credit Auto Loan?

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Yes, you can negotiate your deal on a bad credit car loan, though you may not have the same leverage as someone with a better credit score. Without the strength of a high credit score behind you, you may not be able to qualify for as low of an interest rate or monthly payment as you’re looking for. But a lot of things associated with an auto loan can be negotiated.

Preparing to Negotiate a Bad Credit Auto Loan

Before you go toe-to-toe with a dealer, make sure you know what kind of power you have in this arena. This means knowing your credit score and what’s on your credit reports. Without this information, you’re powerless to push back against a lender’s assessment of your credit situation.

Auto Credit Express Tip: Remember, you’re most likely going to be interacting with the special finance manager at a dealership, who talks to the lender on your behalf. The dealer isn’t responsible for the rates and terms you qualify for, and the lender can’t determine how much a dealership is willing to cut a deal.

The only way to know you deserve better terms than you’re being offered is to do your research. Find out what the average car loan looks like for people in similar situations. You don’t want to go into a dealer with unrealistic expectations.

  1. First, get your credit score and credit reports. Now is a great time to do this, because the three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax – are offering U.S. consumers free weekly access to their credit reports. This deal only lasts until April 2021; you can request a copy of your reports by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
  2. Next, look online for some national averages on auto lending interest rates and see where you fall on the FICO credit scoring model. Knowing where you stand enables you to prepare for the next steps in your car loan: your budget.
  3. The final step to getting ready to negotiate on your auto loan is to plan your car buying budget. If you don’t know what you have to work with, or how to accurately calculate the out-the-door and overall costs of your auto loan, then you won’t have a leg to stand on when talking to a dealership.

What Are You Negotiating For?

Without a plan or a budget to refer to, you can’t have a goal to negotiate for. When it comes to a bad credit car loan, there’s no point in negotiating just because you can.

You should have a set goal in mind, whether it’s a target interest rate, a specific loan term, or a set monthly payment amount. Don’t give these things away to the dealer, though. Keeping your numbers close to the vest is what gives you the power to make a deal on your terms.

In order to get an auto loan deal you can live with, you have to know what you can afford. To find this out, you can do a few simple calculations that the lender does when determining if your budget can handle a car loan. This is your debt to income (DTI) ratio.

Your DTI ratio lets you know how much of your monthly finances are already being used by your existing monthly bills, including an auto loan and car insurance. If you’re using more than 45% to 50% of your monthly income, a lender may not be willing to add to that burden.

To see how much auto loan you could qualify for, and to find out if those monthly payments fit into your budget, you can check out our car loan and monthly payment calculators.

Know What You Can Negotiate

In order to negotiate on your bad credit auto loan, you have to know what you can and can’t change your lender’s mind on. Not everything on a car loan contract is negotiable.

Here’s a look at what you can have a crack at negotiating:

  • Can I Negotiate a Bad Credit Car Loan?Vehicle selling price – The first thing you should know you can negotiate on when it comes to an auto loan is the price of the car. The sticker price on a new vehicle typically lists the MSRP, or manufacturer suggested sale price, and may list a dealership price, too. You can ask for any price you want, but the dealer may not agree to honor it.
  • Your interest rate – Your APR is likely to be a bit higher than you’d like with bad credit, but you can always ask a dealership or lender if what they’re offering is the best rate you qualify for. Often it’s not, there’s no rule that says dealers have to offer you the lowest rate or best deal that you’re qualified for by a lender. With that said, you don’t have to accept a deal that stretches you too thin, either.
  • Your loan term – Shorter loan terms mean higher monthly payments, but stretching your loan too long means a higher overall cost. Being a payment shopper, only looking at the monthly payment and ignoring the overall loan cost, isn’t the place to be with poor credit.
  • Down payment amount – When you have credit challenges, you generally have to meet a down payment requirement set by your lender. However, it may not be set in stone. Depending on your other rates and terms, you may be able to negotiate the amount you need up front.
  • Your trade-in – If you’re using a trade-in to cover some of your down payment amount, you may be able to negotiate what you’re getting out of it. It also helps to know the value of your trade-in before you head to the dealership so you can have more leverage in negotiation.
  • Prepayment penalties – If you have to take on a longer term to get a more favorable monthly payment, you can save money in the long run by paying more on your loan whenever possible. Look over your contract carefully to make sure you aren’t penalized for this, or ask the lender to remove the clause if you are.
  • Optional features and equipment – Some features on the vehicle you’re choosing could be optional, and carry additional fees which can be negotiated on. Things like window tinting, fabric protection, and certain optional packages like wheel protection or cargo nets could be charges coming from the dealer. You don’t have to agree to these. This also goes for extended warranties and GAP insurance coverage.
  • Dealership documentation fees – A “doc fee” on any auto loan contract, which dealers charge for preparing your paperwork and talking to the lender on your behalf, is pretty standard, but the amount varies. There’s no reason to pay through the nose for this, and many states cap the amount you can be charged. Expect a minimum doc fee, but try to lower it as much as possible.

With all these things to haggle over, there are three main things that are non-negotiable when it comes to a car loan (which are set by the state, so there’s no getting around them):

  1. Taxes
  2. Title fees
  3. License fees

Ready to Negotiate Your Next Car Loan?

If you’ve tried negotiating on a bad credit auto loan in the past and were unsuccessful, don’t give up! Just because one dealership isn’t willing to work with you doesn’t mean that others aren’t.

Remember to keep your search for a car loan to a two-week window. If you apply for multiple loans of the same kind with different lenders within that time frame, you stop multiple hard credit inquiries from affecting your credit score.

Additionally, when you have bad credit and need an auto loan, it’s in your best interest to make sure you’re applying with a subprime lender at a special finance dealer. These lenders are able to help people in many tough credit situations, such as bad credit, no credit, and even bankruptcy.

Here at Auto Credit Express, we’ve cultivated a nationwide network of special finance dealerships, and we want to get you matched to one in your area! We’ll get right to work for you after you fill out our fast, free, and zero-obligation car loan request form.

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