Forbearance of Foreclosure? How to Keep Your Credit and Homeownership Intact

The following is a guest post by Eric Lindeen, of Anna Buys Houses.

The second quarter of 2020 marked the highest U.S. mortgage delinquency rate (reported as 60-days past due) since 1979. Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, federal and state governments have made efforts to protect against the financial strain U.S. consumers are enduring—including mortgage payment forbearance of foreclosure. 

What Is a Forbearance?

Forbearance is the postponement of mortgage payments, or the lowering of monthly payments for a specified time period; it’s not loan forgiveness. Repayment terms are negotiated between the borrower and lender. Mortgage forbearance is one tool to help protect homeowners from foreclosure due to temporary hardships, such as a job loss, natural disaster, or pandemic. Some homeowners may opt for strategic forbearance, meaning they proactively enter a forbearance agreement just in case they lose their ability to make their mortgage payments.

As of October 25, data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that approximately 2.9 million U.S. homeowners are currently in forbearance plans. That number represents 5.83% of servicers’ portfolio volume. MBA data also shows that nearly 25% of all homeowners in forbearance plans have continued to make their monthly payment (perhaps an indicator of the use of strategic forbearance).

How Do Forbearance Plans Work?

Mortgage payment forbearance programs have come at a time when many Americans are losing their livelihood and others fear the potential fallout from the health and economic crisis. Not all forbearance plans are created equal. Therefore, it’s critical to understand how different plans are structured to protect your financial health and credit. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is one measure enacted to provide relief to consumers facing hardships due to the impacts of the coronavirus. One provision of the Act allows mortgage payment forbearance and provides other protections for homeowners with federally or Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) backed or funded (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) mortgage loans. 

If you have a federally or GSE-backed mortgage, no documentation is required to request forbearance, other than an assertion that you are facing a pandemic-related hardship. Borrowers are entitled to an initial forbearance period of up to 180 days. If necessary, an extension of an additional 180 days may be requested. Federally backed mortgages are protected against foreclosure through December 31, 2020. 

Recently, the foreclosure moratorium was extended yet  again to at least March 31, 2021 for GSE-backed loans (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Be sure you understand who owns your loan and the terms of your loan as these deadlines approach. Extensions are likely to continue to help borrowers keep their homes and lenders navigate the constant uncertainty that is 2020.

The CARES Act amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) with a provision that when a lender agrees to forbear an account of a consumer impacted by the pandemic, the consumer complies with the terms of the forbearance. Then, the mortgage issuer must report that account as current to credit reporting agencies.

How Your Credit Factors into Forbearance

On paper, knowing that your credit won’t be affected by forbearance seems like a good deal. There’s an important distinction here. Your loan doesn’t need to be current to qualify for forbearance under the CARES Act. However, any delinquencies on your account prior to entering a forbearance plan will impact your credit report. Make sure that your loan is current, and being reported as current to the credit bureaus, before you agree to a forbearance of foreclosure.

What about Private Mortgages?

Around 30% of single-family mortgages are privately owned. Many private banks and loan servicers have voluntarily implemented relief measures that don’t fall under the same protections of the CARES Act. Terms vary by institution and state of residence. And relief plans may not be structured in the same manner as federally-backed and funded loans. 

For example, borrowers with private loans may be required to pay back all missed payments in a lump sum as soon as the forbearance period ends. Lump sum payments are not required for GSE-backed loans. Additionally, if modifications are made to a privately funded loan, the new terms could impact your credit score depending upon how the lender reports the status of your loan to the credit bureaus.

The good news is that the three major credit bureaus (i.e., Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) are providing free weekly online credit reports through April 2021. Be sure to check these reports to ensure that the new terms of your loan are being reported as “paying as agreed” and not reported as late. Credit.com also has resources to help check and manage your credit.

It’s also important to understand the terms of your loan. Some homeowners who recently refinanced were asked to sign a form that was quickly described as “new COVID paperwork.” The fine print stated that their new loan was not eligible for forbearance relief measures. 

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Mortgage payment forbearance is one tool that can protect homeowners from defaulting on their loan, damaging their credit, and worst of all, losing their home to foreclosure. Key takeaways include, knowing who owns your loan, who services your loan, and what type of protections are available to provide relief if the current economic crisis is impacting you or you fear that it might. 

There are proactive steps to protect against foreclosure and determine the right path for your personal situation.

Source: credit.com

Retail: Sales Jump in January on Stimulus Checks

Retail sales jumped 5.3% in January, as $600-per-person stimulus checks hit pocketbooks early in the month. All major categories of spending rose. The biggest beneficiaries: Department stores, up 23.5%; home furnishings, up 14.7%; electronics, up 12.0%; nonstore (mostly e-commerce), up 11.0%; sporting goods and hobbies, up 8.0%; and restaurants, up 6.9%.

More stimulus is expected: The current Democratic stimulus proposal includes an additional $1,400 per person, though with income restrictions. With COVID-19 infections dropping this month, sales should continue to be strong as restrictions are eased and more people feel comfortable shopping or eating out in-person. The recent winter storms should ding February sales in Texas and certain other states, however.

Restaurants finally caught a break in January, doing better than expected despite a continuing pandemic surge. Falling COVID-19 infection rates in February also bode well for restaurants, though likely not until after the current winter storms subside.

Even though November and December sales showed monthly declines, holiday sales were still above last year’s level. Holiday sales of in-store goods were 4.9% above last year, though only 3.0% higher if building-store sales are excluded. E-commerce sales were roughly 26% higher than last year. Of course, not all stores have done well. Clothing, electronics and department stores have a lot of ground to make up to get back to last year’s sales level.

Source: kiplinger.com

How Shaquille O’Neal Become a Real Estate Investor

Shaq became famous as a basketball player, a very large basketball player! He was 7-1 and was well over 300 pounds when he was playing in the NBA. Not only is he one of the best basketball players of all time but is a real estate investor as well. He has also been a major part of many other businesses like Ring doorbells, Five Guys Franchise, and he was an early investor in Google. After leaving the NBA, he has become even more involved in real estate and been a part of some very large deals! It is hard to find the exact information on what Shaq has done real estate-wise, but he has given hints over the years in interviews on how he started and what he is involved in. From what I could find out he started by flipping houses with a partner in New Jersey. He has also been involved in low-income housing in Denver and done deals in Florida as well. He currently is focusing on large projects in the New Jersey area where he spent time as a kid.

Where did Shaq live growing up?

Shaq was born in New Jersey and his father was a basketball player as well. However, his father had drug problems and was never a part of Shaq’s life. Shaq did have a stepfather who was in the army and Shaq ended up living in Texas and Germany as a kid because of his stepfather’s career. Shaq ended up going to high school in San Antonio and leading his team to a state championship. Shaq was a always big kid. He was 6-6 when he was 13! I was 6-1 when I was 13, but I stopped growing at 13 and Shaw did not.

It is important to know where Shaq grew up because it impacted his real estate investing later on. He was not a real estate investing just to make money. As he said on CNBC Make It:

I don’t invest in companies just to try and get the big hit,”  “I [invest] because I know it’s going to change people’s ideas… change people’s lives.”

How did Shaq blow his first million?

Shaq had an amazing interview with Daymond John (The Shark Tank) about how he spent a million dollars the first day he made it. He spent $150,000 on a Mercedes for himself, then his dad wanted a car so he bought him one, and then he bought his mom a $100,000 car. He bought jewelry, suits, CD changer, went to Vegas, etc. Then his banker called him in to warn him about his spending. Shaq had no idea about taxes and that he had spent the entire million without realizing it!

From that point on, he made sure to take care of his money and learn from those who know about money. He credits Magic Johnson with helping him learn a lot about money and investing it instead of wasting it.

How did Shaq start his real estate investing career?

During Shaquille O’Neal’s long playing career, he earned an estimated $292,198,327! He definitely had a head start as an investor by earning so much money in the NBA. However, he did not start with huge projects although some of the articles you read will have you believe he did. In a 2002 article from the Denver Post about an affordable housing project he said:

“We started buying homes out of foreclosure and paying $10,000 or $12,000 for them, fixing them up, and maybe selling them for $25,000 or $35,000,” Shaq said.”It would be easy for me to develop a housing community around a golf course or buy strip malls, but that’s not how I want my book to go.”

He was talking about Mike Parris, who was his uncle and business manager, and mentioned that he was doing this 4 years ago, which would have been 1998 when he was 26. Shaq started small in his hometown. At the time he would have been playing with the Orlando Magic in Florida.

While he may not have been the one swinging the hammer, he was definitely investing in real estate at a young age.

How did Shaq’s real estate investing evolve?

Shaq started the O’Neal group in 2006 which invests heavily in real estate, but as we know he was involved in investing before that. In the article in the Denver Post from earlier, he was also involved in buying big projects before that as well. In 2002 Shaq said;

“My dream is to own $1 billion a year in affordable housing,”

  • He started by purchasing a $65 million affordable housing project in the Denver area that eventually cost $100 million after property improvements and other costs were factored in. The project consisted of 1,500 units and the seller would only sell to investors who were willing to keep the affordable housing aspect of the project.
  • In 2006 his company invested in The Met in Miami which was a highrise with 1,000 units.
  • He also recently opened an $80 million apartment complex in New Jersey and has plans for another $150 million high rise.

What is a little frustrating is the giant gap you see from 2006 to 2018! it is hard to find much information on the O’Neal group or his real estate investments during that time. There was another project he was involved in Atlantic City, but I could not find out if that project was ever completed. However, he was not just investing in real estate during his career. He has done many things!

What other businesses has Shaq been a part of?

Shaq has said he loves real estate and obviously has been a part of some huge deals but he has done many other things as well! Here are a few of them:

  • Pre-IPO Google stock: He bought into Google before it even went public.
  • He started a clothing line
  • He has owned 17 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants
  • He has owned 150 car washes
  • He has owned 155 Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises
  • He has owned 40 24 Hour Fitness gyms
  • He has been a partner in Las Vegas nightclubs
  • He has owned a movie theater
  • He was a partner with Muscle Milk
  • He was a partner with Vitaminwater
  • He was a partner with Loyal3
  • He has released albums with commercial success
  • He has been in movies and on TV
  • He is super involved with law enforcement

I am sure I am missing many other things he had done or been a part of! I have no idea how many of these things he has sold or still owns but he has sold many of his investments and business over the years. He is obviously very diversified!

How involved is Shaq in real estate investing?

I have no idea how involved Shaq is or was in real estate. He sounds very passionate about it when he talks about so he could be very involved. However, he has so many other things going on it would not surprise me if he is mostly the money guy and other people find the deals and put together the projects. There is nothing wrong with that as the best investors learn how to make money without doing a ton of work! If Shaq happens to read this and has some more information to add, I would love to hear from you! Mark @ Investfourmore.com

Source: investfourmore.com

What to Know Before Taking Out a Subsidized Loan

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Attending college or university is a dream for a ton of people. Yet higher education can be expensive, seemingly putting that dream out of reach for many students and families.

Tuition at American schools has steadily increased for decades, so it can be hard for your average student to afford it. But it’s not only tuition costs that you need to consider: fees, room and board, off-campus living, meal plans, textbooks, living essentials and other supplies all cost money.

Fortunately, there are many different types of financial aid available to help you meet the total costs of attending school.

Grants, scholarships and government programs can all be used to aid your pursuit of higher education. Student loans, including private and federal loans, are also commonly used to fund college. But taking on debt requires more financial planning than other types of aid.

If you’re ready to find the right loan for you and your unique financial situation, we’ve got you covered. We’ll go over everything and anything we think you need to know about subsidized student loans—the basics, how they’re different from unsubsidized loans and much more. 

Student Loans and Rising Education Costs

Having a plan for how you’ll pay for college is pretty important. That’s mostly because the tuition continues rise: 

  • According to The College Board, tuition and fees for a public four-year institution in the academic year of 1989–90 were $3,510, in 2019 dollars. 
  • For the academic year 2019–2020, those costs exceeded $10,000. In the same time span, tuition and fees for a private four-year institution rose from $17,860 to nearly $37,000. 
  • In the last 10 years alone, tuition and fees for four-year public schools have increased $2,020, while costs for four-year private schools have grown $6,210. 

But as we mentioned, total costs include a lot more than tuition, and these other cost items have shown the same upward trend:

  • Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows college textbooks costs increased 88% from 2006 to 2016.
  • Average dorm costs at all postsecondary institutions were $6,106 in 2017, per data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Boarding costs, including meal plans, were $4,765. A decade earlier those costs, respectively, were $4,777 and $4,009.
  • Costs rose 24% for students living off-campus at public four-year universities between 2000 and 2017, according to The Hechinger Report.

The growth in college costs has occurred rapidly, outpacing wagegrowth. This has made a degree unaffordable for many. That’s where student loans come in.

The biggest source of these loans is the federal government. According to Sallie Mae, more than 90% of student loan debt today is tied to federal student loans. While the government offers several loan types, often based on financial need, private lenders such as banks and credit unions also make student loans available.

What is a Subsidized Loan?

To better understand your loan options, let’s explore the specifics of one of the government’s most popular offers: the subsidized student loan.

Officially, a subsidized loan is a type of federal loan offered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program and referred to as a Direct Subsidized Loan. They are made exclusively to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need and can be used to pay for college, university or a career school.

Subsidized loans work like most other student loans. They allow college goers to borrow money as they learn, paying the principal and interest back later. Most loans don’t require repayment while you attend school, and provide a grace period of six months after graduation for you to find a job. 

The most notable feature of subsidized loans is that the government pays the interest while you attend school at least part time. This is a quality that’s pretty much unique to federal subsidized loans. 

The government will also pay the interest during the grace period and during periods of loan deferment. You eventually assume responsibility for paying the interest, and principal, once you enter the repayment plan. 

The bottom line for subsidized loans is they carry a lower lifetime cost, because the government pays interest while you’re at school.

Who’s Eligible to Take Out a Subsidized Loan?

Subsidized loans aren’t available to everyone, however. In addition to meeting basic requirements for getting a loan from the federal Direct Loan Program, applicants for subsidized loans must:

  • Demonstrate financial need.
  • Be an undergraduate student.
  • Be enrolled at least half time.

Anyone considering a subsidized loan must fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This is how the government will establish whether you demonstrate financial need that is sufficient for taking out a subsidized loan.

What Else Should You Know?

There are two other main points to discuss about subsidized loans—loan limits and time limits. Ultimately, your school will decide how much you can borrow. But there are annual limits to what you can borrow through subsidized loans, as well as a maximum for the entirety of your college career.

  • In your first undergrad year you can borrow up to $5,500 through federal loan, no more than $3,500 of that amount can be through subsidized loans.
  • In your second year you can borrow up to $6,500, no more than $4,500 through subsidized loans.
  • In your third year you can borrow up to $7,500, no more than $5,500 through subsidized loans.
  • The limits for your third year apply to your fourth year, and any year after that for which you are eligible to borrow through federal subsidized loans.

Factors influencing what you can borrow include what year you are in school and whether you are a dependent or independent student. 

Importantly, you can only receive subsidized loans for 150% of the published time of your degree program. That means if you attend a four-year bachelor’s program, you can only receive a subsidized loan for six years.

What’s the Difference Between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans?

Unsubsidized loans are the other type of loan the government offers. While unsubsidized loans and subsidized have some similarities, unsubsidized loans have some major differences.  

Interest rates for both subsidized and unsubsidized loans are controlled and set by Congress. This makes the interest rates for government student loans among the lowest you will be able to find.

While the federal government pays interest on subsidized loans, you’ll be solely responsible for paying interest on unsubsidized loans. You’ll have to pay interest while you’re in school and during the grace/deferment period.  Here are some other key differences:

  • Unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate students, as well as graduate and professional students.
  • Students don’t need to demonstrate financial need to apply for an unsubsidized loan.
  • There is no maximum time limit for how long you can receive unsubsidized loans (compared to the 150% rule for subsidized loans).
  • Annual and aggregate loan limits are generally higher for unsubsidized loans.

Private Loans vs. Federal Student Loans

Interested in how private loans stack up to government loans? In a nutshell:

  • Private loans can have variable interest rates, which may make them lower in some cases than even fixed interest rates on government loans.
  • Annual loan limits don’t apply to private loans, as you and your lender will work out a package that is best for you.
  • Being approved for a private loan means submitting to a credit check, or having a parent as a consigner.
  • Often, private loans require payment while you attend school, and may not have the allowance for forbearance and forgiveness as government loans do.

Taking the Next Steps Toward Taking Out a Student Loan

If you or your child is nearing college age, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll pay for higher education. It’s a good idea to look into a few options, including student loans, scholarships, grants and other sources. 

If you want to get started on applying for a subsidized loan, get started on your FAFSA form. And if you’re taking a closer look at private student loans, you can find help here.

Infographic outlining what to know about subsidized loans, including their structure, requirements, and qualifications.


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Source: credit.com