7 Super Small-Cap Growth Stocks to Buy

Stocks with smaller market values are outperforming by a wide margin so far this year, and strategists and analysts alike say small caps should continue to lead the way as the economic recovery gains steam.

“The U.S. economy is currently trending toward high-single digit GDP growth in 2021 as COVID-19 vaccine distribution expands and we gradually emerge from the pandemic,” says Lule Demmissie, president of Ally Invest. “That environment favors small-cap names, which tend to have a more domestic focus than larger multinational firms.”

Small caps tend to outperform in the early parts of the economic cycle, so it should come as no surprise that they are clobbering stocks with larger market values these days.

Indeed, the small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 index is up 13.6% for the year-to-date through April 8, while the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added just 9.5% over the same span.

Keep in mind that small-cap stocks come with heightened volatility and risk. It’s also important to note that it can be dangerous to chase performance. But small-cap growth stocks – particularly in this environment – can offer potentially much greater rewards. 

Given the increased interest in these securities, we decided to find some of analysts’ favorite small caps to buy. To do so, we screened the Russell 2000 for small caps with outsized growth prospects and analysts’ highest consensus recommendations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Here’s how the recommendation system works: S&P Global Market Intelligence surveys analysts’ stock recommendations and scores them on a five-point scale, where 1.0 equals a Strong Buy and 5.0 is a Strong Sell. Any score below 2.5 means that analysts, on average, rate the stock as being Buy-worthy. The closer a score gets to 1.0, the stronger the Buy recommendation.

We also limited ourselves to names with projected long-term growth (LTG) rates of at least 20%. That means analysts, on average, expect these companies to generate compound annual earnings per share (EPS) growth of 20% or more for the next three to five years. 

And lastly, we dug into research, fundamental factors and analysts’ estimates on the most promising small caps. 

That led us to this list of the 7 best small-cap growth stocks to buy now, by virtue of their high analyst ratings and bullish outlooks. Read on as we analyze what makes each one stand out.

Share prices are as of April 8. Companies are listed by strength of analysts’ consensus recommendation, from lowest to highest. Data courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence, unless otherwise noted.

1 of 7

Q2 Holdings

Digital banking technologyDigital banking technology
  • Market value: $5.7 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 150.0%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.68 (Buy)

Q2 Holdings (QTWO, $103.06) provides cloud-based virtual banking services to regional and community financial institutions. The idea is to make it so that smaller firms – which are sometimes small caps themselves – can give account holders the same kind of top-flight online tools, services and experiences as the industry’s big boys.

To that end, Q2 recently announced the acquisition of ClickSWITCH, which focuses on customer acquisition and retention by making the process of switching digital accounts easier. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Q2’s business model and execution has Wall Street drooling over the small cap’s growth prospects. Indeed, analysts expect the software company to generate compound annual earnings per share growth of 150% over the next three to five years, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

“In the last year, the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation efforts and investments of the financial services industry, and we believe Q2 Holdings is well positioned to support and grow its customer base,” writes Stifel equity research analyst Tom Roderick, who rates the stock at Buy. 

Of the 19 analysts covering Q2 tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 10 call it a Strong Buy, five say Buy and four rate it at Hold. Their average target price of $152.25 gives QTWO implied upside of almost 50% over the next 12 months or so. Such high expected returns make it easy to understand why the Street sees QTWO as one of the best small-cap growth stocks.

2 of 7

BellRing Brands

A man drinking a protein shakeA man drinking a protein shake
  • Market value: $962.8 million
  • Long-term growth rate: 21.6%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.60 (Buy)

BellRing Brands (BRBR, $24.37), which sells protein shakes and other nutritional beverages, powders and supplements, is forecast to generate unusually healthy EPS growth over the next few years. 

Stifel equity research, which specializes in small caps, says BellRing offers a “compelling growth opportunity” thanks to its positioning in the large and fast-growing category known as “convenient nutrition.”

U.S. consumers are increasingly turning toward high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods and beverages for snacks and meal replacement, Stifel notes, and BellRing Brands, spun off from Post Holdings (POST) in late 2019, is in prime position to thrive from those changing consumer tastes. 

After all, the company’s portfolio includes such well-known brands as Premier Protein shakes and PowerBar nutrition bars. 

In another point favoring the bulls, BellRing’s “asset-light business model requires limited capital expenditures and generates very strong free cash flow,” notes Stifel analyst Christopher Growe, who rates the stock at Buy.

Most of the Street also puts BRBR in the small-caps-to-buy camp. Of the 15 analysts covering BRBR, eight call it a Strong Buy, five say Buy and two have it at Hold. Their average price target of $28.33 gives the stock implied upside of about 16% over the next year or so. 

With shares trading at just a bit more than 25 times estimated earnings for 2022, BRBR appears to offer a compelling valuation.

3 of 7

Rackspace Technology

Cloud technologyCloud technology
  • Market value: $5.3 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 21.8%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.50 (Strong Buy)

Rackspace Technology (RXT, $25.61) partners with cloud services providers such as Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) to manage its enterprise customers’ cloud-based services. 

And make no mistake, this sort of expertise is much in demand.

The pandemic accelerated many industries’ migration to cloud technology. As such, plenty of firms have discovered they need all the help they can get when it comes to transitioning and managing their operations – often with more than one cloud service provider.

“The prevalence of a multicloud approach has created integration and operational complexity that require expertise and resources most companies lack,”  writes William Blair analyst Jim Breen, who rates RXT at Outperform (the equivalent of Buy). “This creates an opportunity for a multicloud services partner to enable businesses to fully realize the benefits of cloud transformation.”

Breen adds that research firm IDC forecasts the managed cloud services market to grow 15% a year to more than $100 billion by 2024.

As the leading company in the field of multicloud services, bulls argue that Rackspace stands to benefit disproportionately from all this burgeoning demand. 

Speaking of bulls, of the 10 analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, five rate RXT at Strong Buy and five call it a Buy. The bottom line is that Rackspace easily makes the Street’s list of small-cap growth stocks to buy.

4 of 7

Chart Industries

Cryogenic technologyCryogenic technology
  • Market value: $5.3 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 34.2%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.50 (Strong Buy)

Shares in Chart Industries (GTLS, $146.76), which manufactures cryogenic equipment for industrial gasses such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), are riding the global secular trend toward sustainable energy.

The market certainly likes GTLS’ commitment to greener energy. The small-cap stock is up more than 410% over the past 52 weeks – analysts expect a torrid pace of profit growth over the next few years to keep the gains coming. Indeed, the Street forecasts compound annual EPS growth of more than 34% over the next three to five years.

Analysts say the company’s unique portfolio of technologies gives it an edge in a growing industry. To that end, they applauded its $20 million acquisition of Sustainable Energy Solutions in December because it bolsters the company’s carbon capture capabilities.

“In the context of the decarbonization megatrend, Chart is a one-of-a-kind play on the global shift to more gas-centric economies,” writes Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov in a note to clients. “There is upside potential from large liquefied natural gas projects. Notwithstanding the lingering headwinds from the North American energy sector, we reiterate our Outperform [Buy] rating.”

Stifel, which chimes in with a Buy rating, says GTLS deserves a premium valuation given its outsized growth prospects. 

“With potentially a decade or more of high single-digit to low double-digit revenue growth, more recurring revenue, accelerating hydrogen opportunities, and the potential big LNG surprise bounces, we expect shares could trade north of 30 times normalized earnings,” writes analyst Benjamin Nolan.

The stock currently trades at nearly 30 times estimated earnings for 2022, per S&P Global Market Intelligence. Small caps to buy often sport lofty valuations, but with a projected long-term growth rate of more than 34%, one could argue GTLS is actually a bargain.

Raymond James and Stifel are very much in the majority on the Street, where 12 analysts rate GTLS at Strong Buy, four say Buy, one has it at Hold and one says Sell.

5 of 7

NeoGenomics

Lab equipmentLab equipment
  • Market value: $5.5 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 43.0%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.33 (Strong Buy)

NeoGenomics (NEO, $47.87), an oncology testing and research laboratory, is still coming out from under the pressure of the pandemic, which led to the cancellation of legions of procedures.

But there’s been quite a lot of activity at the company, nevertheless, and analysts still see it as one of the better small-cap growth stocks to buy.

In February, the company said longtime Chairman and CEO Doug VanOort would step aside to become executive chairman in April. He was succeeded by Mark Mallon, former CEO of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD). The following month, NeoGenomics announced a $65 million cash-and-stock deal for Trapelo Health, an IT firm focused on precision oncology. 

All the while, shares have been lagging in 2021, falling more than 11% for the year-to-date vs. a gain of 13.5% for the small-cap benchmark Russell 2000.

Although COVID-19 has been squeezing clinical volumes – and bad winter weather is always a concern – analysts by and large remain fans of this small cap’s industry position. 

“We continue to find the company’s leading market share in clinical oncology testing and expanding presence in pharma services for oncology-based clients to be a very attractive combination,” writes William Blair equity analyst Brian Weinstein, who rates NEO at Outperform. 

Of the 12 analysts covering NEO tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, nine call it a Strong Buy, two say Buy and one says Hold. With an average target price of $63.20, analysts give NEO implied upside of about 32% in the next year or so. That’s good enough to make almost any list of small caps to buy.

6 of 7

Lovesac

A Lovesac storeA Lovesac store
  • Market value: $917.3 million
  • Long-term growth rate: 32.5%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.14 (Strong Buy)

The Lovesac Co. (LOVE, $62.47) is a niche consumer discretionary company that designs “foam-filled furniture,” which mostly includes bean bag chairs. 

Although it operates about 90 showrooms at malls around the country, revenue – thankfully – is largely driven by online sales. That’s led to a boom in business as folks, stuck at home, shop online for ways to spruce up their living spaces.

Shares have followed, rising about 45% for the year-to-date and more than 1,000% over the past 52 weeks. And analysts expect even more upside ahead, driven by a long-term growth rate forecast of 32.5% for the next three to five years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

Stifel, which says LOVE is among its small caps to Buy, expects the consumer shift to buying furnishing online to persist, and even accelerate, once the pandemic subsides.

“Lovesac is well positioned for continued share gains in the furniture category with its strong product, omni-channel capabilities and enhancements to the platform, many of which were initiated during the pandemic,” writes Stifel’s Lamont Williams in a note to clients.

The analyst adds that LOVE has a long ramp-up opportunity thanks to a new generation of home buyers.

“As the housing market remains healthy there is the opportunity to capture new buyers as more middle- to upper-income millennials become homeowners and increase spending on [the company’s] category,” Williams writes. 

Of the seven analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, six rate it at Strong Buy and one says Buy. That’s a small sample size, but the bull case for LOVE as one of the better small-cap growth stocks to buy still stands.

7 of 7

AdaptHealth

An elderly person using a walker during home rehabAn elderly person using a walker during home rehab
  • Market value: $4.3 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 43.0%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.11 (Strong Buy)

AdaptHealth (AHCO, $37.61) comes in at No. 1 on our list of small caps to buy thanks to their outsized growth prospects. The bull case rests partly on demographics and the aging of baby boomers. 

AdaptHealth provides home healthcare equipment and medical supplies. Most notably, it provides sleep therapy equipment such as CPAP machines for sleep apnea – a condition that tends to increase with age and weight.

With the majority of the boomer cohort of roughly 70 million Americans hitting their 60s and 70s, home medical equipment for sleep apnea and other conditions is increasingly in demand.

Mergers and acquisitions are also a part of the company’s growth story, notes UBS Global Research, which rates AHCO at Buy. Most recently, in February, the company closed a $2 billion cash-and-stock deal for AeroCare, a respiratory and home medical equipment distributor. 

“AdaptHealth exits 2020 with material themes of accelerating growth,” writes UBS analyst Whit Mayo. “In each quarter of 2022, we assume that AHCO acquires $35 million in annual revenues, closing these deals at the middle of the quarter. This drives estimated acquired revs from yet to be announced deals of $70 million.”

Small caps have been rallying in 2021, but not AHCO, which is essentially flat for the year-to-date. Happily, the Street expects that to change sooner rather than later. With an average target price of $47.22, analysts give the stock implied upside of about 25% over the next 12 months or so.

Of the nine analysts covering AHCO tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, eight rate it at Strong Buy and one says Buy. As noted above, they expect the company to generate compound annual EPS growth of 43% over the next three to five years.

Source: kiplinger.com

Helpful Guide to Reading Your Credit Report

Reading your credit reportReading your credit report

Your credit report contains information about your financial history including lines of credit and how you are settling them. It’s advisable to review your credit report at least once a year. This allows you to tell how you fair in the eyes of creditors. It also helps you to come up with ways to fix your report for the better.

That said, understanding the information contained in this report can be difficult, especially for first-timers. To ensure that you don’t miss a thing, here is a guide to reading your credit report.

Credit Report Breakdown

The format of these reports varies depending on the reporting bureau that you get the report from. The information is however similar and is broken down into several fields.

Subscriber or Personal Information- Consumer Demographics

Personal information includes any information that identifies you. Here, you will find your name, address, residence type, geographical code, social security number, current or former employers, date of birth and telephone numbers.

This field is used to identify you and does not in any way factor in your credit scoring. There could be variations in your name or addresses from different bureau which should not be a cause for concern. You should, however, make sure that each variation (if any) identifies to you and is not a case of identity fraud.

Credit Summary

This section contains your accounts and their balances. It’s a summary of bank accounts including current and delinquent accounts as they have been reported by creditors. This snapshot of your finances includes;

  • Mortgage accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans; car, student, and other loans apart from mortgages
  • Collection accounts
  • Any other accounts; lines of credit or trades

The accounts’ information captured in this section also touches on the total number of open and closed accounts. Inquiries made on your report for the last two years will also feature as part of the summary.

Credit summary also gives you a quick overview of monthly payments, balances and past due amounts. The summary will also contain any delinquencies which can be current or previous depending on what your creditor reported.

Account History

This forms the biggest chunk of your credit report. Each account is analyzed in the finest detail. This is where you need to concentrate on to weed out any inconsistencies. Each account is broken down into several fields;

  • Name of creditor
  • Account particulars (number, type, and ownership or responsibility)
  • The highest amount ever owed
  • Maximum credit approved
  • Balance owed
  • Past due amount
  • Monthly payment
  • Available revolving credit
  • Dates opened and date reported
  • Payment status

Account history also contains remarks to explain special conditions pertaining to the account. Remarks can also be from your creditors indicating delinquencies or simply the standing of the account- Open, Negative or Closed.

You may find some of the information contained in this section not to be up-to-date. This might include balances on credit cards or loans which you expect to be much lower. The reason behind this is that creditors might have reported the balances long before you had made your monthly installments.

Public Records

This is one section that should worry you if it’s highly populated. It contains information from public records pertaining to:

  • Bankruptcies
  • State and court judgments
  • Tax liens
  • Overdue spousal or child support- depends on specific state

Why should this worry you?

This information stays on your credit reports for 7-10 years. If your credit report is clear on this section then it’s advisable to ensure it stays that way!   

Credit Score

Some bureaus will also include your FICO credit scores on the report. This is a 3-figure scoring system that ranges from the lowest, 300 to the highest possible score of 850 points. It determines your creditworthiness in the eyes of creditors. It may also affect your chances of employment or even your rent terms.

Learn how Credit Absolute can help you increase your credit score.

Inquiries

This is a list of parties including institutions that have requested your credit report. Your report will include hard and soft inquiries: Hard inquiries are requests made by creditors after you have authorized them when applying for loans or credit cards. Soft inquiries are the ones made by creditors (without your knowledge) for promotional purposes.

The Take-Away

Credit reports can be difficult to read, leave alone understanding the entries. The above breakdown should guide you in identifying the important details contained in each section. Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for any inconsistencies that may point to errors originating from your creditors, the reporting bureau or as a result of fraud. Such errors could be lowering your credit score and should be disputed immediately.  

Source: creditabsolute.com

Get the Best Car Insurance Rates

  • Car Insurance

Car insurance premiums can cost you upwards of $1,400 a year if you opt for full coverage, and even more if you are a teen driver or have a history of claims and DUIs. But with a little research and some comparisons, you can shave hundreds of dollars off this cost and get the cheapest possible auto insurance quotes every time.

Find your best rate on Car Insurance!

Attention: Still Open During the Financial Crisis…

Tip: Act now to see if you qualify for lower rates!

Compare free personalized quotes from the nation’s top providers.

Which Providers Have the Best Insurance Rates?

There is no “best” or even “cheapest” car insurance provider, because it all depends on the user and their state of residence. 

The car insurance quotes you receive as a senior with a clean driving record living in California are likely to be much different from the quotes offered to a young Michigan-based driver with a blemished record. Car insurance companies offer very specialized rates and a company that excels in one area and for one type of driver may not provide the same benefits elsewhere.

Below, we have listed some of the most consistently cheap car insurance companies in each state, before highlighting specific companies and the reasons you should consider them:

  • Alabama = GEICO, Auto Owners, Allstate, and Safeway.
  • Alaska = State Farm, Allstate, and Umialik.
  • Arizona = GEICO, Safeco, CSAA and American Family are not too far behind.
  • Arkansas = GEICO, Safeco, and the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
  • California = CSAA, GEICO, and Amica.
  • Colorado = GEICO, Allstate, Esurance, and State Farm.
  • Connecticut = Amica, State Farm, and MetLife.
  • Delaware = State Farm, GEICO, Progressive, and Travelers.
  • D.C. = Erie and GEICO.
  • Florida = State Farm, GEICO, MetLife, and Direct Auto.
  • Georgia = Georgia Farm Bureau, and GEICO.
  • Hawaii = GEICO, Island Insurance, Liberty Mutual, and Allstate.
  • Idaho = GEICO and Safeco.
  • Illinois = GEICO and Safeco.
  • Indiana = Erie and GEICO.
  • Iowa = Auto Owners, IMT, and Farm Bureau Financial Services.
  • Kansas = Farm Bureau Financial Services, Allstate, and GEICO.
  • Kentucky = The Kentucky Farm Bureau and GEICO.
  • Louisiana = The Louisiana Farm Bureau and GEICO.
  • Maine = Frankenmuth, Concord Group, and MetLife.
  • Maryland = Erie, Travelers, and Progressive.
  • Massachusetts = Plymouth Rock and Hanover.
  • Michigan = GEICO, Allstate.
  • Minnesota = North Star, Auto Owners, and American Family.
  • Mississippi = Safeco, Direct Auto, and the Mississippi Farm Bureau.
  • Missouri = The Missouri Farm Bureau.
  • Montana = Farmers Union and Safeco.
  • Nebraska = Farmers Mutual of Nebraska, GEICO, and State Farm.
  • Nevada = GEICO and Safeco.
  • New Hampshire = Concord Group, State Farm, Amica, and MMG.
  • New Jersey = Plymouth Rock, NJM, and GEICO.
  • New Mexico = GEICO, Progressive, and State Farm.
  • New York = GEICO, Allstate, and The New York Central Mutual.
  • North Carolina = State Farm, and North Carolina Farm Bureau.
  • North Dakota = Nodak and GEICO.
  • Ohio = Grange and Erie.
  • Oklahoma = American Farmers & Ranchers and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.
  • Oregon = Country Financial, State Farm, and Progressive.
  • Pennsylvania = Penn National.
  • Rhode Island = GEICO and Travelers.
  • South Carolina = Auto Owners, Allstate, and GEICO.
  • South Dakota = Farmers Mutual of Nebraska.
  • Tennessee =  Erie, State Farm, and the Tennessee Farm Bureau.
  • Texas = Texas Farm Bureau, GEICO, and State Farm.
  • Utah = Safeco, Bear River, and Auto Owners.
  • Vermont = Union Mutual and Co-Operative.
  • Virginia = Erie, State Farm, and GEICO.
  • Washington = GEICO, Progressive, and Pemco.
  • West Virginia = Westfield, State Farm, and Erie.
  • Wisconsin = The Auto Club Group and Wisconsin Farm Bureau.
  • Wyoming = GEICO, MetLife, and Safeco.

Farm Bureaus: Better for Local Insurance

In the past, we published a guide looking at the Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in the US, in which we found the cheapest providers in each state. There were a few big providers in the mix for the majority of states, but in a handful, the Farm Bureaus came out on top and put the big providers to shame.

The Farmers Mutual of Nebraska, the Kentucky Farm Bureau, and the Texas Farm Bureau were all ahead of the pack in their respective states. And that’s not all, as there were many statewide and region-specific insurers leading the way, including Penn National in Pennsylvania (this company operates in other states but doesn’t have the cheapest rates outside of Pennsylvania) and American Farmers and Ranchers in Oklahoma.

They may not be as well-known on a national level or have the financial backing provided by the likes of Progressive and State Farm, but if it’s low-cost insurance coverage you need, you should never discount your local providers.

USAA: Better for Military Members

Current and former military members should always look into the USAA when applying for an auto insurance policy. Military discounts are offered by several other providers and if you’re on active duty these discounts can go as high as 90%. But you will struggle to find cheaper insurance costs outside of the USAA.

The coverage is great, the resources are abundant, and the customer support is second-to-none. The only downside to USAA insurance is that it’s limited to military members and their families.

Amica: Better for Discounts and Variety

Amica doesn’t have the cheapest auto insurance rates, but it does have a solid reputation, some great customer support, and a host of car insurance discounts. Once all these discounts have been taken into consideration and the benefits of its customer support, reputation, and features have been accounted for, it’s one of the most cost-effective providers out there.

The best rates are reserved for applicants with a good driving history and a high credit score, but discounts are provided for motorists who meet the following criteria:

  • Remain loyal to the company
  • Take out multiple policies or add additional cars to a policy
  • Remain claim-free
  • Pay the premiums in full
  • Complete a defensive driver course
  • Own their own home
  • Study away from home

The Hartford: Better for Older Drivers

In some states, The Hartford is one of the five cheapest auto insurance companies, but in the majority, it struggles to make it into the top ten. It’s a different story, however, if you increase the average age of the applicant.

The Hartford has a partnership with the AARP that allows it to offer very reasonable rates for drivers over the age of 55. It also has a wealth of online resources aimed at drivers in this category and considers discounts for:

  • Defensive driving courses
  • Anti-theft devices and safety equipment
  • Bundling of home-insurance and auto insurance

It has a new car replacement benefit and a lifetime guarantee on all car repairs. Those things are great if you’re an older driver and can benefit from the reduced rates and improved service, but young drivers and individuals seeking full coverage may struggle to make The Hartford work for them.

Esurance: Better for Comparisons

Backed by Allstate, Esurance is a unique provider that processes everything online, with a site that’s full of helpful resources and an application process that can be completed in just a few minutes. With Esurance, it’s easy to compare coverage options and to get the best auto insurance for your needs.

Esurance offers discounts if you’re a safe driver, have good credit, and have completed driving courses, and there are coverage options for rental cars, roadside assistance, and more.

Allstate: Better for Bad Credit Applicants

Allstate is a good option for drivers with low credit scores and insurance claims, and it also has some good rates for teen drivers. Allstate is a huge name in the insuring game and alongside some very affordable bodily injury and liability insurance options, it offers the following discounts:

  • Good student discounts
  • Discounts for purchasing multiple policies
  • Discounts for new vehicles and “green vehicles”
  • Safe driving club and safety equipment discounts
  • Driving training and driver course discounts
  • Discounts for going paperless

Allstate also offers discounts for using the Allstate Drivewise application, including an initial reduction of 3% when signing up. This application uses telematics to track your driving patterns and determine key characteristics that the insurer can use to set more accurate rates in the future.

GEICO: Overall Provider

We have saved the best for last, as GEICO is one of the few providers that ticks most boxes and offers the lowest car insurance rates in most states and for most demographics. In particular, it’s a very affordable option for teen drivers and other young drivers, and it also has a great app that makes the application and claim process a breeze.

GEICO has insurance options for boats, ATVs, classic cars, motorbikes, and a host of other non-vehicle related policies (pet, travel, home, renters) and it also has a selection of accessible car insurance discounts:

  • Safety equipment and anti-theft devices (airbags, anti-lock brakes)
  • Driver education courses
  • Using a seatbelt
  • Good student 
  • Good driver
  • Multi-policy and multi-car
  • Federal employee and military members

GEICO is one of the better options for applicants with poor credit and a history of at-fault accidents, as well. It is also available across the United States.

The only real downsides here are that GEICO probably isn’t the cheapest option if you’re a senior driver or member of the military and it also falls short in states where local insurers head the pack.

What’s more, GEICO struggles a little with regards to customer support, but J.D. Power marks it as above average for customer satisfaction.

Bottom Line: The Best for You

When highlighting the best car insurance providers, we used the word “better” and not “best”, and in general, this is important, because while one provider may be better for a specific need or location, it’s not going to be the best for everyone.

The onus is on you, the applicant, to use all tools at your disposal to find the best car insurance rates. Read our guides on the subject, use comparison sites, speak with insurance agents, get only the coverage options that you need, and pay close attention to the type of car you’re buying. If you put in a little time and effort, you could save yourself hundreds of dollars and get the car insurance coverage you need.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Allstate Insurance Review: Cost, Coverage, and Customer Satisfaction

  • Car Insurance

Allstate is one of the biggest insurers in the United States and has a history that dates back to the 1930s. With a revenue of nearly $40 billion, it is one of the richest corporations in the country and insurers millions of individuals across all 50 states.

Find your best rate on Car Insurance!

Attention: Still Open During the Financial Crisis…

Tip: Act now to see if you qualify for lower rates!

Compare free personalized quotes from the nation’s top providers.

About Allstate Car Insurance Coverage

Allstate offers extensive car insurance and motorcycle insurance, with varied and affordable cover for all. In most states, you are required to have a specific amount of liability cover and everything else is optional. In others, however, you will need several more of these cover options to meet those minimum state requirements.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage protects you when you are responsible for an accident. If you do harm to another driver’s vehicle, property damage liability insurance will payout; if you have body injury cover, it will payout if the other driver or their passengers suffer any physical injuries.

Collision Coverage

Adding collision coverage to your insurance policy will cover you in the event of an accident with another car, a wall, tree or another object. Whereas liability coverage pays for the other driver’s bodily injury and property damage, collision insurance will pay for yours.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive insurance covers many of the things not covered by collision or liability insurance. For instance, it will cover you in the event that your car is damaged during a flood or severe winds. It will also cover you for animal collisions, which, surprisingly, are not covered by collision insurance.

Personal Injury Protection

Personal injury protection or “PIP” will cover you for most medical costs in the event of a serious accident. It will also pay out if your injury results in missed work and lost earnings. As a result, it is important for freelancers and other self-employed individuals who aren’t salaried and can’t rely on other forms of insurance or income protection.

Medical Payments Coverage

This type of insurance will cover you or your passengers for certain medical expenses. It’s often a cheaper and more limited insurance than personal injury protection, but it is required in a few states.

Roadside Coverage

Will cover you for common roadside services, including jump-starts and tows. If you’re stranded by the side of the road and need some assistance, this option can help.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

It has been estimated that as many as 13% of all US drivers are not insured. If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, they won’t have the cover needed to pay your costs. That’s where uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance comes in. This insurance will fill in the gaps and provide cover.

Rental Reimbursement Coverage

A type of insurance that covers the costs of renting a car (along with other transportation expenses) while your main car is being repaired. If your vehicle is undergoing serious repairs, it could be out of action for a while and this insurance will keep you on the road at that time.

Personal Umbrella Policy

The goal of an umbrella policy is to cover you beyond the limits of liability cover, essentially stepping in where other coverage options fail.

Sound System Insurance

If you have an expensive sound system, this insurance could be worth its weight in gold. It will cover you for damage and theft relating to that sound system, as well as all video equipment.

Allstate Car Insurance Cost

Allstate has some very competitive prices and is nearly always amongst the top 10 cheapest providers based on specific demographics and locations. However, GEICO and State Farm typically outperform Allstate when it comes to affordability.

In our research, we found that Allstate often ranks higher for bad credit drivers. Credit scores are a vital component of car insurance claims, but they are often overlooked by many applicants. If you have a low credit score, you may struggle to get the low prices quoted by the likes of GEICO, in which case you should get some insurance quotes from Allstate instead.

We also found that Allstate consistently ranked as one of the cheapest provides for safe/good drivers and good credit drivers in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, New York, and South Carolina.

Allstate Features

In addition to the usual coverage choices, Allstate offers the following features, benefits, and additional insurance options. Some of these come at an additional cost, others are offered free of charge to most Allstate members. In both cases, however, there are state restrictions and no guarantee that these features are available in your area.

  • Accident Forgiveness (extra coverage): Your insurance rates won’t climb just because you have an accident. This is true even if you were at-fault for that accident.
  • Car Buying Service (free to members): Learn more about the type of car you want to buy and get a host of discounts. This type of service isn’t unique to Allstate and it’s something you can also get with insurance providers like GEICO, but it definitely has its benefits and can save you a lot of money when buying a new car.
  • Classic Car Insurance (extra coverage): Classic cars aren’t cheap to insure. They typically have fewer safety features and anti-theft features, and they also have rarer parts that may be harder to find and more expensive to replace. With classic car insurance, you’ll be covered.
  • Deductible Rewards (add for a cost): Every year that you avoid driving violations, you can get a $100 discount on your collision deductible, up to a total of $500.
  • Drivewise Program (free to members): The Drivewise app offers a 10% discount in the beginning and this can increase to 35%. The app keeps track of your speed and braking and also notes the times that you drive. The insurer uses this information to plot more accurate data points and make better predictions with regard to the likelihood of you being involved in an accident. If you’re a safe driver, you should consider using the Drivewise app.
  • Satisfaction Guarantee (free to members): If you don’t like the way Allstate handled your claim, you can collect a 6-month credit via their Satisfaction Guarantee.
  • Safe Driving Check Bonus (add for a cost): Allstate offers all policyholders a small bonus (sent via check) for every six months that they remain accident-free.
  • Milewise (free to members): The Milewise add-on is basically a pay-per-mile form of car insurance. It’s worth considering if you don’t drive a lot or have long periods of inactivity. When you spend less time on the road, your risk of being involved in an accident and making a claim drops significantly, and you can start reaping the rewards with programs like this.
  • New Car Replacement (extra coverage): If you have a new car, this option may appeal to you. It will give you a new like-for-like vehicle if you wreck your car within two years of the model release. Again, this is not unique, and some other companies offer better new car replacement coverage, but it’s still a good addition to your policy if you’re opting for Allstate auto insurance.
  • Roadside Assistance (extra coverage): You can get roadside assistance in several different forms, including pay-per-use and via the Allstate’s Motor Club, which works in the same way as AAA. You can also add it to your policy for an extra cost. However, as we have noted many times before, roadside assistance is not that hard to come by and if you’re part of a membership club or have a premium credit card, there’s a good chance you have it already.
  • Rideshare Insurance (extra coverage): Known as Allstate Ride for Hire, this service is designed for Uber and Lyft drivers. It’s an important service if you use these ridesharing apps. However, there are a number of limitations and you need to have the app and be carrying customers to get the full benefits. Still, as long as you have full coverage, your traditional policy will cover you the rest of the time.

Allstate Car Insurance Discounts

Like many other top car insurers, Allstate offers a wide selection of car insurance discounts. These discounts are performance and user-based. Generally, they offer you reduced premiums if you tick boxes that deem you to be a low risk or save the insurer money in other ways.

  • Multi-Policy Discount: Allstate offers discounts for policyholders who purchase homeowner’s insurance and other insurance products along with an auto policy. Also known as “bundling”, this discount is offered by the majority of big auto insurance companies and is a great way to shave some dollars off your monthly outgoings.
  • Safe Driving Bonus: If you have a safe driving record you can receive some big discounts from Allstate. A safe driving record generally means you have avoided accidents and violations and can prove that you’re competent behind the wheel.
  • Good Student Discount: Many states require insurers to offer good student discounts. This discount typically requires at least a B average and is a great way for young drivers (who often pay much more than older drivers) to save money on their insurance.
  • Safety Equipment Discount: If your car has anti-lock brakes, front-and-side airbags, and other safety features, you could be offered a much cheaper policy when compared to drivers without any of these features. Discounts are also offered for anti-theft features, such as car alarms, trackers, and passive disabling devices.
  • New Car Discount: New cars tend to be much safer than their older counterparts, leading to fewer crashes and fewer claims. As a result, Allstate gives all new car owners a discount. It also offers a Car Replacement add-on.
  • Early Signing Discount: Offered to policyholders that renew their policies early, this is Allstate’s way of encouraging you to re-sign and to avoid doing any of that pesky comparison shopping! But a discount is a discount, and if you’re re-signing it’s an easy way to save.
  • Discount for Going Paperless: Do your bit for the environment by going paperless. It limits paper waste and also saves Allstate a little time and money.
  • Discount for Paying Upfront: Pay for your insurance premiums upfront and you will pay less, albeit only slightly.

Other Types of Allstate Insurance

Allstate offers extensive insurance coverage in several different areas, with coverage across the United States. Contact an Allstate agent for more information about adding one of these policies, but make sure you compare them with other providers before you sign on the dotted line:

  • Home Insurance: Includes Renters and Condo insurance. Additional options allow you to secure your data and even your ID. If, for instance, your computer is stolen, not only will you get a like-for-like replacement, but you’ll also be compensated for your lost pictures and other data, assuming you have the add-on. Older homeowners can save more thanks to Allstate’s 55+ discount and retiree discount.
  • Term-Life Insurance: Get coverage for between 10 and 30 years. One of the benefits of Allstate life insurance is that you don’t need to choose five-year increments and can purchase term-insurance for any number of years between 10 and 30.
  • Business Insurance: Cover your business property and assets with Allstate Business Insurance. Allstate offers customized coverage to account for your business’s unique needs.

Allstate Customer Satisfaction

Allstate has an “above average” J.D. Power rating for most forms of insurance, with a low ratio of complaints when compared to other major insurance providers. The company also has very high user review scores and while there are a few bad experiences amongst them (to be expected) the majority are positive.

Allstate Insurance Review: Summary

Allstate is a large, hugely respected and highly-rated insurance provider. Allstate rewards good driving habits and behavior; it offers a unique claims satisfaction feature, a very helpful mobile app, and a smooth claims process. On top of this, Allstate has affordable and competitive car insurance rates and is one of the best car insurance companies for policyholders with bad credit.

There is a lot to like here, and we recommend adding Allstate to your comparison search. If this provider has the best coverage for the best price, go for it.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Progressive Insurance Review: Car, Motorcycle, Home

  • Car Insurance

The Progressive Insurance company was founded in the 1930s and currently has a revenue of over $30 billion. It supplies insurance policies to millions of Americans and, in some states, it’s one of the cheapest providers. In this Progressive insurance review, we’ll look at Progressive’s coverage options and rates to see if they’re the right choice for you.

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Progressive Insurance Coverage

Progressive offers all the traditional car insurance options, including bodily injury liability insurance, property damage insurance, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and underinsured/uninsured motorist cover. Policyholders can also choose from a number of optional add-ons and benefit from a host of other features, including:

Roadside Assistance

​With roadside assistance, you’ll get help when you’re stranded by the side of the road. Roadside assistance will cover you for services such as towing and tire changes, as well as other basic services.

Rental Car Coverage

Adding rental car coverage to your auto insurance policy will ensure your life doesn’t grind to a halt when your car is stolen or in the shop. You will be given a rental car for those few weeks, allowing you to continue your life as normal.

If you have another car or can make alternative arrangements, you can probably skip this.

Gap Insurance

Gap insurance steps in to cover the difference between the insurance payout and the value of the car. It is required when your car is financed and ensures that the full bill is covered, and you’re not left to pay the remainder.

With gap insurance from Progressive, you will get cover for up to 25% of the car’s value.

Custom Parts

A special auto policy addition that pays for custom equipment and parts. If you add anything of high value to your car, it might not be covered elsewhere with traditional insurance policies but will be covered with this addition from Progressive.

Cover for Other Vehicles

Progressive can insure new cars and old cars; sports cars and SUVs. But you can also get insurance for boats, ATVs, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles. In fact, Progressive is considered one of the best insurers of motorbikes and offers extensive and affordable cover.

Claim Free Deductible

If you choose to opt-in to this program, your deductible will drop by $50 every 6 months that you remain claim-free. If you continue to stay safe on the roads and avoid those costly claims, your deductible can go all the way down to zero.

Pet Injury Protection

This feature is offered free of charge to every policyholder with collision coverage. It will pay for vet bills if your pet is injured during a car accident. This is a rare but very welcome addition, as animals are just as exposed as humans during car accidents.

SnapShot

SnapShot is Progressive’s driver monitoring app. It monitors your driving habits and the insurer then uses this information to tweak your premiums. If you’re a safe driver and think you deserve better rates based on your driving habits, sign up for this program. 

SnapShot is offered in 46 states, with the exceptions being California, Alaska, Hawaii, and North Carolina. Similar apps exist with other insurance companies, albeit with different names, including DriveWise from Allstate, DriveSense from Esurance, and DriveEasy from GEICO.

Rideshare Insurance

Rideshare insurance is designed for Uber and Lyft drivers and covers them when they have paying customers in their car. Whether you’re working for these ridesharing companies full time or just doing a few hours a week, it’s worth looking into this coverage.

Other Types of Insurance

Progressive offers homeowner’s insurance that covers your home, garage, and outbuildings. It also offers something known as Progressive HomeQuote, which encourages you to compare Progressive rates with those offered by other providers.

Not only can you take advantage of bundling discounts when getting your home insurance and car insurance together, you can also secure additional homeowners insurance discounts, such as:

  • Alarms and other safety devices designed to reduce the threat of theft and criminality.
  • Getting a quote at least 10 days before your policy ends.
  • Paying the policy upfront.
  • Going paperless.
  • Purchasing a new home or going from a renter to a homeowner.

Progressive Car Insurance Quotes

One of the best features about Progressive is something known as Name Your Price. The idea is simple, you set a price based on your budget and Progressive will tell you how much coverage you can get. It also has a comparison tool that makes it easy to check Progressive’s rates against those offered by other auto insurance companies.

Combine this with Progressive’s mobile app, which is equally feature-rich and helpful, and you have an auto insurance provider that makes it incredibly easy to find affordable coverage to meet your needs. 

Progressive is not quite as cheap as GEICO in the majority of states and for the majority of demographics, but it does have very competitive car insurance rates. What’s more, the nature of insurance and the fact there are so many variables at play, means it’s highly likely that Progressive will have the cheapest rates and the best coverage for some applicants.

Progressive Car Insurance Discounts

You can take advantage of a number of car insurance discounts to bring your insurance rates down and save huge sums across the board. Available discounts include:

Multi-Policy and Multi-Car

Car insurance companies want your business and will do everything they can to get it. Purchase a single auto policy from them and they will encourage you to add additional cars and drivers to the policy. If you own your own home, they may also offer you homeowners insurance.

By accepting these offers, you can save around 30% on your Progressive insurance. You’ll also simplify the application and claims process, as you only have to deal with one company and can familiarize yourself with their process.

Good Student Discount

Many states encourage insurance providers to offer discounts for good students, with these discounts typically offered for drivers who achieve and maintain at least a B average.

Discounts are also offered for students who live on campus and therefore spend less time at home and behind the wheel. These discounts are essential if you have a teen driver on your policy as they are some of the highest risk drivers and are forced to pay a huge premium as a result.

Payment Discounts

By opting to go paperless, paying upfront or using the Auto-Pay feature, policyholders can shave a few percentage points off their car insurance policies. The savings are minor when compared to other discounts, but they are also available to most customers and are easy to acquire.

Progressive Reviews and Claims Satisfaction

According to JD Power, Progressive has a rating of “Above Average” for insurance shopping and for claims satisfaction and customer satisfaction. Progressive also has stacks of great reviews from users and experts alike.

There’s nothing amazing here, nothing to suggest that Progressive is better than most other providers when it comes to customer support, claims, and ease-of-use, but it works both ways, as there’s also nothing to suggest that it’s one of the worst, either.

Bottom Line: Progressive Auto Insurance Review

Whether you’re a safe driver in New York or you have a bad driving history in Kentucky, we recommend comparing Progressive insurance premiums to what other insurers are offering. The more companies you include in your comparison search, the more likely you are to get the best cover at the most affordable price.

What’s more, if you need boat insurance or motorcycle insurance, Progressive should be near the very top of your list of priorities.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Sell Your Flip Faster With These Expert Tips

Time is money, so keep the profits coming with this advice from Christina El Moussa of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop.”

If you’ve been flipping for a while, you know that selling a flipped house takes patience, and that some houses sell faster than others. While many factors affect how quickly a house sells, Success Path has three tips to help you sell your flipped houses faster.

Make a good first impression

Like a job interview, your house needs to make a good first impression. Regardless of how great it is on the inside, the outside appearance matters, and it can be the deciding factor for whether or not the potential buyer bothers to inquire further about the house.

There are many ways to give your house a quick facelift:

  • Start with the house itself — add new paint to the shutters, trim, and front door for a quick and inexpensive fix.
  • If possible and necessary, replace windows and the front door, or add trim and shutters.
  • Make sure the roof, porch, and yard are clean and tidy.
  • Use an eye-catching and sophisticated mailbox that matches the style of the house.
  • Repair the driveway if necessary, filling in cracks and removing any weeds.
  • Add edging to create clean landscaping lines.
  • Keep the grass tidy and mowed, filling in any bare spots and removing weeds.
  • If you have a garden, consider adding an arbor as a focal point. If you don’t have a garden, place flower pots strategically on the edge of the driveway or the porch.

Use the reach of social media

Social media is no longer just a place to keep in touch with distant friends and family. It’s a powerful marketing tool for companies and a platform for connecting with customers — both current and potential.

Most social media platforms have special tools for connecting with specific target markets, narrowing the demographics to match your product or service. Use these tools to your advantage! People spend a fair amount of time on social media, so why not put your house right in front of the people looking for a house?

Start by posting on local real estate pages, or even create your own house-flipping page where you can create ads to show specifically to the demographic of your choice. Don’t wait for the right buyers to find your ad — let your ad find the right buyers.

Don’t skimp on major improvements

The ultimate goal may be making a profit, but you’ll quickly learn the hard way that cutting corners or trying to skip major improvements altogether will cost you more in the long run — and may ultimately put you in the red.

If you’re flipping a house that needs a new roof, but you don’t have roofing experience, don’t ignore the roof or attempt to do it yourself. These things take time and money, and doing it yourself will likely result in costly mistakes. Buyers will look at the bones of the house, so if they see a shoddy roof job, poor plumbing, or major renovations done haphazardly, they’ll be turned off.

Before you even buy a house to flip, budget for hiring out major renovations or projects. Even if the house you want to flip seems manageable for your skill set, always assume that you’ll discover hidden costs and jobs that require a professional.

Don’t give your potential buyers any red flags. Be upfront about the renovations, particularly the ones done by a professional. Squashing their concerns will leave a good impression and ease their minds as they explore the rest of the house.

Related:

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Source: zillow.com

Preparing To Buy a House in 8 Simple Steps

In life there are some situations a person simply can’t prepare for, like locking the keys in a car full of groceries or having a head full of shampoo when the smoke alarm goes off. Luckily, purchasing a home doesn’t have to be one of those moments.

Buying a house is probably one of the biggest financial decisions many people will make in their lifetime, and the process can be lengthy and complex. From getting a bird’s-eye view of their overall financial picture to calculating housing costs and securing loan pre-approval, there are many actions for home buyers to take as they get ready to purchase a home.

With the right resources and a solid strategy, however, purchasing a house can be a smooth process.

8 Steps to Prepare for a Home Purchase

1. Determining Credit Score

A home buyer’s credit score can impact their ability to secure a mortgage loan with a desirable rate. It can also affect how much they’ll be required to pay as a down payment when it’s time to close.

In a recent report from the National Association of Realtors , home buyers who had debt said it hindered their ability to set aside funds for a down payment by a median of four years.

Credit score can be influenced by a variety of factors, from payment history to amount of debt (a.k.a. credit utilization ratio) to age of credit accounts, mix of credit accounts, and new credit inquiries.

Payment history is the main factor that affects a person’s credit score, accounting for 35% of an overall FICO® score. Missing a payment on any credit account—from unpaid student loans to credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages—can negatively impact a person’s credit score.

By making on-time payments, limiting the number of new inquiries on their credit file, and working to pay down outstanding balances, home buyers could potentially boost their credit score and qualify for a lower mortgage rate.

Is There a Credit Score “Sweet Spot?”

Many buyers wonder whether there’s a desired credit score range or “sweet spot” to obtain a mortgage. The 2020 Q1 Federal Reserve Report on Household Debt and Credit found that the median credit score of newly originating borrowers increased to 773 in the first quarter for mortgages—up 14 points from 2019.

That’s not necessarily to say a credit score of 773 is a must for securing a mortgage, but the difference between a credit score in the 600 range and one in the 700 range could amount to about half a percent less interest on a mortgage loan and add up to a lot of money over time.

Credit scores can also affect the amount of the down payment itself. Many mortgage lenders require at least 20% of the house’s sale price be put down, but might offer more flexibility if the buyer’s credit score is in the higher range. A lower credit score, on the other hand, could call for a larger down payment.

Whether home buyers have debt or not, checking credit reports is still a recommended first step to applying for a mortgage. Understanding the information on credit reports is invaluable in knowing whether time is needed to repair credit, which could potentially lead to a higher credit score and possibly lower mortgage loan rate.

2. Deciding how Much To Spend

Deciding how much to pay for a new home can be based on a variety of factors including expected and unexpected housing costs, up-front payments and closing costs, and how it all fits into the buyer’s overall budget.

Calculating Housing Costs

There are several housing costs for home purchasers to consider that might affect how much they can afford to offer for the house itself. The costs of ongoing fees like property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and interest—if the loan does not have a fixed rate—can all lead to an increase in the monthly mortgage payment.

Closing costs are fees associated with the final real estate transaction that go above and beyond the price of the property itself. These costs might include an origination fee paid to the bank or lender for their services in creating the loan (typically amounting to 0.5% to 1% of the mortgage), real estate attorney fees, escrow fees, title insurance fees, home inspection and appraisal fees and recording fees, to name a few. To get an idea on how this can impact your budget, use this home affordability calculator to estimate total purchase cost.

Last year, the average closing costs for a single-family property were $5,749 including taxes, and $3,339 excluding taxes, according to a recent report from ClosingCorp .

In addition to closing costs, expenses that potential home buyers might want to consider are repairs and updates they might want to make to a home, new furniture, moving costs, or even commuting costs.

Finally, unforeseen costs of a major life event like a layoff or the birth of a new child might not be the first expenses that come to mind, but some buyers could find themselves making a potential home buying mistake by not getting their finances in order to prepare for the unexpected.

Making a list of these estimated expenses can help home buyers calculate how much they can feasibly afford and create a budget that could help them avoid being overextended on housing costs, especially if they might be paying other debt or saving for other financial goals.

3. Saving for a Down Payment

Saving money for a house is one of the biggest financial goals many people will have in their lifetime. And how much they’re able to offer as a down payment can significantly impact the amount of their monthly mortgage payment.

A larger down payment can also be convincing to sellers who see it as evidence of solid finances, sometimes beating out other offers in a competitive housing market.

The average down payment on a house varies depending on the type of buyer, loan, location, and housing prices, but, according to Zillow’s 2019 Consumer Housing Trends Report , 56% of buyers put down less than the typical 20% down payment, 19% put down 20%, and 20% of home buyers put down more than 20%.

For first-time home buyers, 20% of the price of the home can seem like a daunting figure. Many buyers find that cutting spending on luxury or non-essential items and entertainment can help them save up the funds.

Other tactics could include getting gifts and loans from family members, applying for low-down-payment mortgages, withdrawing funds from retirement, or receiving assistance from state and local agencies.

For buyers who were also sellers, proceeds from another property could also fund the down payment.

4. Shopping for a Mortgage Lender

There are many mortgage lenders competing for the business of the 86% of home buyers who finance their home purchases. These lenders offer a variety of mortgages to apply for, with a few of the most common being conventional/fixed rate, adjustable rate, FHA loans, and VA loans.

Buyers might not realize they can—and should—shop around for a lender before selecting one to work with. Different lenders offer different variations in interest rates, terms, and closing costs, so it can be helpful to conduct adequate research before landing on a particular lender.

Mortgage lenders must provide a loan estimate within three business days of receiving a mortgage application. The form is standard—all lenders are required to use the same form, which makes it easier for the applicant to compare information from different lenders and make sure they are getting the best loan for their financial situation.

5. Getting Pre-Approved for a Loan

While it might seem like a bit of a nuance, getting prequalified for a loan versus pre-approved for a loan are two different things.

When a buyer is prequalified for a loan, their mortgage lender estimates—but does not guarantee—the loan rate, based on finances provided by the buyer.

When a buyer is pre-approved, the lender conducts a thorough investigation into their finances that includes income verification, assets, and credit rating. This pre-approval gives a guarantee to the buyer that they will be able to obtain the loan and breaks down exactly what the bank is willing to lend.

Having a pre-approval letter in hand can help some buyers get ahead by appealing to the seller as a serious intention of purchase and a lender’s guarantee to back that purchase up.

6. Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

According to the National Association of Realtors 2020 Generational Trends Report :

•  89% of all buyers purchased their homes through a real estate agent.
•  The primary method most used to find that agent was referral.
•  All generations of buyers continued to utilize a real estate agent as their top resource for helping them buy a home.

While the internet and popular real estate search websites have made it easier for home buyers to hunt for a house online, most buyers still solicit the help of a real estate agent to find the right home and negotiate the price and purchase.

Also, many realtors are experts in their particular housing market, so for buyers who are searching in a specific location, a real estate agent may be able to offer valuable insights that might not be revealed online.

7. Exploring Different Neighborhoods

By researching neighborhoods where they might want to purchase a property (both in-person and online), home buyers can get a better sense of what living in their future community could look like.

Many real estate websites provide comparable listings to help determine a reasonable offer amount in a given neighborhood.

Check out housing market
trends, hot neighborhoods,
and demographics by city.

They may also highlight nearby school ratings, price and tax history, commute times, and neighborhood stats like home value fluctuations or predictions, and walkability ratings.

All of this information can help paint a picture of life in the area a home buyer chooses to settle in. Doing a deep dive into a desired neighborhood can help inform a more realistic decision on where to buy a house.

8. Kicking off the House Hunt

Once the neighborhoods are whittled down, the loan is secured, the real estate agent has been signed, and the savings are set aside, the official house hunt can begin.

For 55% of buyers, the most difficult step in the home buying process was finding the right property. Some had to undergo a considerable process before making the final purchase, with most searching for 10 weeks and seeing a median of nine homes first.

With the help of a trusted real estate agent and a housing market with adequate inventory, most home buyers can begin to book showings, attend open houses, and formally put down an offer on a house they like.

In particularly “hot” markets, houses could receive several offers, so home buyers might want to be prepared to go through the bidding process with a few properties before they get to that glorious final sale.

Home buyers might wish they could snap their fingers and move into their dream house as quickly and painlessly as possible. While that is not realistic, SoFi can help simplify the mortgage loan process.

Without any hidden fees or prepayment penalties, a SoFi home loan could be the right option for many homebuyers. For questions about buying a home, SoFi offers home loan resources, guides, and tips to steer future homeowners through the process. There are a lot of steps, but managing them can be easier with a helping hand.

Learn more about how SoFi home loans make the mortgage process as quick and painless as possible.



External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’swebsite .
SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.

SOHL20008

Source: sofi.com

Credit Karma Review For 2021

Whether you’re working on repairing your credit or simply want to find out where yours stands, there are plenty of websites available that claim to offer free credit scores.

Credit Karma

Credit Karma offers its members free credit score updates, monitoring services, and personalized advice on how to improve your credit score. It’s currently one of the most popular “free credit score” sites on the Internet.

So how does it stack up to other sites? And is the information truly reliable? We dug deep to find out exactly what they bring to the table and whether it’s worth taking the time to sign up. Read on for our full Credit Karma review.

How does Credit Karma work?

Unlike other sites, you never have to enter your credit card information, so you don’t have to worry about hidden charges, fees, or trial periods that end suddenly.

How does Credit Karma make money?

Credit Karma makes money by offering promotions and financial services to its members from partner companies.

For example, if you apply for one of the “personalized credit card offers” using their link, they’ll get a kickback from that credit card company. While you can easily opt-out of emails at signup, you’ll still get offers when you visit the website.

Some of the recommended credit cards Credit Karma offers include:

  • Balance transfer credit cards
  • Cashback credit cards
  • 0% and low-interest credit cards
  • Rewards credit cards
  • Travel credit cards
  • Hotel credit cards

Each credit card recommended on their list of “best credit cards” is based on your credit profile.

Is Credit Karma safe?

Credit Karma prides themselves on keeping your personal information safe, and part of their success in doing so is that they don’t request that much.

As mentioned above, they don’t ask for a credit card number and you only have to enter the last four digits of your social security number to get started. Even that information isn’t stored permanently, so there’s no risk of someone hacking in and stealing part of your social security number.

Additionally, Credit Karma doesn’t sell or rent your information to any third parties. This includes both your contact information and your credit information. Your information is safe on the website because they use encryption services to protect online users.

Credit Karma Complaints

Credit Karma’s BBB rating is currently a B+ which is partially due to the 330+ complaints filed within the last three years. However, with more than 50 million members, that’s quite a drop in the bucket, and the company resolved all complaints.

The Better Business Bureau also cites a slow response time to complaints as part of the reason behind their rating. Still, a B+ is an improvement over the last couple of years. It demonstrates that they’re taking clear steps to improve their customer service.

The FTC sued credit Karma in 2014 for security risks in its mobile app, but those issues have since been addressed.

What You Get with a Credit Karma Account

Once you’re ready to open an account, what benefits do you receive?

The website primarily centers around breaking down your credit information and analyzing the information to help you make financial decisions and gauge what areas might need attention. One of the most appealing features for many users is access to their free credit score.

Here’s everything you’ll get with your membership:

  • VantageScore 3.0
  • TransUnion credit report, credit score, auto insurance score
  • Equifax credit report and credit score
  • Free credit monitoring
  • Credit report card to help identify weak areas in your credit report
  • Credit score simulator shows how certain actions could potentially raise or lower your credit score

All of this information is displayed in easy-to-use dashboards. You can look at what factors impact your credit score. Credit Karma breaks down each weighted category in the scoring system to show how you rate in each one.

This helps you know what areas of your finances you should focus on to improve your credit score. If you noticed any errors or possible signs of identity theft on your credit report, you can take action by disputing them with the major credit bureaus.

Credit Karma dashboard

For example, you might have an “excellent” rating under your credit utilization, but only score a “fair” for payment history. So you know that your best potential for future growth lies in making regular, on-time payments for your bills each month.

You can also click each category to go into further detail about how different ratios are calculated and what statistics have changed since last month. They also show you how you compare to other Credit Karma users with similar demographics as your own.

It’s quite an in-depth breakdown of all the factors that go into your credit score. This can be very helpful if you’d like a full analysis of what you need to do to help improve your credit score.

New Features from Credit Karma

Credit Karma has recently rolled out a few extra features to offer members. The first is called Unclaimed Money. You can perform a free search to see if you qualify. When companies owe you money but can’t reach you, for example, they’re required to turn that money over to the state.

Credit Karma members can search a free database to see if they have any outstanding money to claim from the government.

The second new member feature is a free tax return service. It’s similar to Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software services, with a maximum refund guarantee. Plus, both the federal and state returns are free to file, as are additional forms you may need.

See also: Top 5 Credit Monitoring Services of 2021

Is Credit Karma free?

It’s true that Credit Karma is completely free and the company claims that they will remain so indefinitely. That’s great news for users, but it’s still important to be cautious when browsing the website.

It might be tempting to take out a loan or get a new credit card that you might not otherwise consider when you see all the various financing offers available to you.

Perhaps that is a good thing for some people; after all, everyone needs some sort of financing at some point in their lives. Or maybe your credit has improved and you are eligible to refinance a current loan at a better interest rate and save some serious cash.

Why is Credit Karma free?

One minor complaint from some users is that the user dashboard has many ads and offers from third parties — maybe too many for some.

Of course, these ads and offers are how they make money and can provide members with a totally free credit score. However, you shouldn’t take out a credit card or loan that you don’t need just because you’re being offered what seems like a good deal.

Because Credit Karma has access to so much of your personal and financial information, they are able to make extremely targeted individualized offers to each member.

Be sure to use your judgment wisely before committing to any product you’re offered. But hopefully, if you’re using Credit Karma, you’re already determined to use your credit responsibly so you can achieve all of your financial goals.

How accurate is Credit Karma?

The free credit score you receive from Credit Karma comes straight from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three credit bureaus. It is not your FICO score, the scoring model used by the vast majority of lenders. In the credit industry, these credit scores are referred to as “FAKOs.”

If you’re interested in getting your real FICO scores for free, check out our article, 13 Credit Cards Offering Free Credit Scores. Some of the credit card companies don’t even require you to be a customer.

VantageScore

While VantageScore 3.0 was actually created by all three major credit bureaus, it’s still not as popular as the FICO model. When it comes time to apply for a loan, your FICO score may be quite different from the free credit score you’ve been tracking through Credit Karma.

There’s no way to tell how big the difference may be; in fact, member reports vary in all different directions. Some users claim that their credit scores from Credit Karma are much lower than their FICOs. It leads them to wonder if the website purposefully reports lower credit scores to keep customers coming back.

Other people are disappointed when they find out that their FICO score is lower and that they don’t qualify for as competitive interest rates as they had hoped for.

Still, others say that their FICO and Credit Karma credit scores had negligible differences. It seems like personal experiences can vary widely, so it’s best to take your personal information with a grain of salt.

Does Credit Karma hurt your credit score?

Many people ask if getting your credit score from Credit Karma will damage your credit. The answer is no. Viewing your credit history or free credit score at CreditKarma.com does not affect your credit at all.

Bottom Line

Using their service to track and analyze your free credit score can be a big help when you’re in the process of looking for a loan. Just remember that when you are shopping for a loan, you should always talk to several lenders and compare offers before choosing one.

If you’re unsure of how accurate your Credit Karma credit score is compared to the number your lender will pull, wait until you are ready to actually take the loan out. That way, you can batch all of your credit inquiries together and find out your credit score during the application process.

By doing so, you won’t risk hurting your credit score with multiple hard pulls on your credit reports from different lenders. Even if most lenders use a FICO score instead of the VantageScore 3.0 provided by Credit Karma, they still offer a useful service.

So does Credit Karma prepare you for the loan application process? Yes, they provide a free credit score that comes directly from the information (and formulas) furnished by the three credit bureaus.

If you’re looking for a free, reliable credit monitoring service, Credit Karma provides real-time updates and personalized advice to help you raise your credit score.

But nothing is an exact science and you can’t rely solely on Credit Karma’s credit scores to determine how likely you are to get approved for a loan. However, more information is always better than none, especially when it’s free.