With most of the year under our belt, the holiday season is just around the corner. No matter what you celebrate, this season is full of food, celebrating and spending time with loved ones.
While you’re hard at work prepping for the holiday season, scammers are too. A survey conducted by Experian found that a full 1 in 4. Americans have been a victim of identity theft or fraud in the holiday season. If you’re worried about scammers this year, don’t worry—we’ve got tips on how to look for holiday shopping scams this season.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, COVID-19 scams became a popular method for criminals to get access to your information and steal your identity. However, the holidays are when these scammers go into overdrive, meaning it’s important to be extra cautious as you do your online shopping and holiday giving. Here are some of the most common holiday shopping scams to be aware of.
Many people use the holidays as a reason to be a bit more generous, but be careful before you make that donation. Many scammers create fake charities in an attempt to get you to donate. They get your money—and possibly access to your identity info—and no good ever comes from that generosity.
Check for social media presence, news stories, financial records and proof that any charity you’re considering donating to actually exists and has a good reputation.
I just watched a documentary on the dark web, and I will never feel safe using my credit card again!
Luckily I don’t have to worry about that. I have ExtraCredit, so I get $1,000,000 ID protection and dark web scans.
I need that peace of mind in my life. What else do you get with ExtraCredit?
It’s basically everything my credit needs. I get 28 FICO® scores, rent and utility reporting, cash rewards and even a discount to one of the leaders in credit repair.
It’s settled; I’m getting ExtraCredit tonight. Totally unrelated, but any suggestions for my new fear of sharks? I watched that documentary too.
…we live in Oklahoma.
Fake Online Stores
Online shopping is a convenient way to check off all the items on your list without having to actually brave the holiday crowds. However, it’s important to ensure that the sites you’re shopping from are actually legitimate. Scammers create fake online storefronts—sometimes even mimicking well-known retailers—and you don’t know it’s fake until the merchandise never comes or you start seeing evidence of identity fraud.
Empty Gift Cards
Gift cards are the perfect choice if you’re not sure what someone on your gift-giving list wants or if they like to pick out items themselves. But selling gift cards that have a $0 balance or have already expired is a common and remarkably easy scam. This happens most often on local sales sites, such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
Have you ever gotten an email about something you bought online—but you never actually purchased anything from that retailer? Maybe the email said you needed to reset your password or gave you a link to track your package. These are phishing email scams designed to get you to enter your personal info so scammers can use it for identity theft.
One of the biggest worries that comes with online shopping—especially with the supply chain issues that have come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—is whether the gifts will arrive on time. Criminals capitalize on this fear by sending out emails, texts and other communications letting you know there’s been an issue with your package. You’re asked to provide personal information such as your address, credit card info and birth date to confirm your order, but all you’re really doing is giving scammers the information they need to steal your identity.
While the holidays are a common time for shopping scams, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Learn what to look for and how to protect yourself from identity theft with these tips.
1. Pay Attention to Website URLs
Online searches can lead you to scammer-run websites that unleash computer malware or collect credit card numbers for identity theft. Carefully read website domain names. Watch for unfamiliar vendors or missing letters, misspellings or other tweaks to the name of a legitimate company. Pay special attention to the last letters. For example, tiffanyco.mn indicates a Mongolia-based website, not the legitimate website for Tiffany & Co., tiffany.com.
2. Make Sure the Site Is Legitimate
Before ordering, check the “Contact Us” page for a phone number and physical address and the “Terms and Conditions” link detailing return policies and such. Unlike legitimate vendors, bogus websites are less likely to post these—or they’ll provide them in a suspicious manner, such as via a faxed request only.
How do you know if a holiday website is legit? Check the Better Business Bureau as well as Facebook and Google reviews before you buy from a new place. If the business doesn’t have any social media or online presence other than the website, that’s a red flag.
3. Only Buy Gift Cards From Retailers
Buy gift cards directly from the retailer and avoid shopping for discount gift cards through local swap sites. You may also want to buy gift cards online or from the checkout instead of the display racks, which are less secure. Fraudsters can peel off stickers to glean gift card codes, replace them in envelopes and wait for an unsuspecting shopper to buy them. Once purchased and activated, they enter stolen codes at the retailer’s website to make online purchases—leaving the intended recipient with a useless card.
4. Look for HTTPS Sites
When buying online, check the URL to see whether the website starts with “http://” or “https://.” The “S” is for “secure” and is your best bet for safe shopping. Some legitimate retailers may use http sites, but your information is much more vulnerable to attack in this case because it’s easier for hackers to get to it. Even with a secure page, avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots for online shopping or other financial transactions.
5. Use Prepaid Gift Cards for Online Shopping
Consider buying prepaid cards for online shopping instead of using your actual debit or credit card. These cards are often reloadable for ease of use, and if your information does happen to be stolen, hackers will only have access to the amount on the card and not your entire bank account.
6. Take Care on Craigslist
On Craigslist or when answering local classified ads, deal only with sellers who provide a phone number you can verify. Don’t rely solely on email correspondence. Assume any request for wire-transfer payment is a scam, and be suspicious of prepaid debit card transactions. Using PayPal or a credit card is your safest bets.
7. Avoid Deals That Seem Too Good to Be True
Stay clear of prices from private sellers that seem too good to be true or are tied to hard-luck stories, such as a need to sell quickly because of divorce or military deployment. No one is selling the latest gaming console for only $50, no matter how hard up they are. These are common scams to get advance payment—and you’ll likely get no merchandise.
8. Don’t Open Holiday E-Cards From People You Don’t Know
Delete E-Cards or general holiday emails if you don’t know the sender. These mass-sent greetings likely contain malware. Legitimate card notifications should include a confirmation code to safely open the card at the issuing website.
9. Beware of Undeliverable Package Emails
Avoid emails claiming that FedEx, UPS, DHL or the U.S. Postal Service has an undeliverable package with links for details. The links will install malware that can log keystrokes to steal computer files and passwords. Unless you previously provided an email address, courier services won’t contact you this way. This scam baits you to call for details—at which point you’ll be tricked into making an expensive overseas call or revealing your personal and financial information. Look up the callback number yourself if you’re curious.
Gearing up for the holidays? Go ahead and enjoy your holiday shopping this year. Just be a little careful—keep an eye out for anything suspicious and make sure that any website you buy from is legitimate.
If you’re worried that you might already be a victim of identity theft or just want to keep a closer eye on your credit, ExtraCredit can help you know what’s going on with your credit report and spot identity theft as soon as it happens.
This article originally appeared on The Avocado Toast Budget.
This post is sponsored by Credit.com.
Here at the ATB, we are all about budgeting in a way that works for you and finding realistic ways to feel more confident with your money.
Now that 2020 is (finally) over, here are ways that you can start to take hold of your finances and build confidence with your money in 2021.
Write down your short, medium and long term financial goals
I’m a big believer that you don’t need to stress over how to maximize the value of every dollar you come across.
Much of personal finance is behavioral and relies on us finding value in how we navigate our money!
Because of this, I found it incredibly helpful to sit down and brainstorm short, medium and long-term financial goals to decide what I wanted my money to do for me.
Write down your short, medium and long term financial goals
Here’s how I break it up:
Short-term goals – less than two years
Medium-term goals – 2 – 10 years
Long-term goals – 10+ years
Feel free to dream big!
We want to make realistic and attainable goals, but we also want to allow ourselves to dream about what we really want our lives to look like, and how our money plays a role in that.
Get to know your credit score
Wanna know a secret? I avoided my credit score for the longest time.
Turns out, once I finally faced my credit score, I became more empowered to understand how my credit score affects my finances and what I could do to change it.
While free resources can give you a ballpark estimate of your credit score, that score isn’t very useful and certainly isn’t what creditors see!
Knowing your true score, and seeing your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus, gives you security and control over how to navigate your credit score going forward.
While it can be daunting, credit plays an important role in our lives from renting, to car insurance, to mortgages, to career opportunities and more.
That’s why it’s important that you stay informed of what your credit actually looks like that’s why I signed up for ExtraCredit’s free trial!
Set up automatic savings
Automating your savings is LIFE CHANGING.
Setting up automatic savings is often referred to as “paying yourself first” because you are prioritizing saving money for Future You.
There are tons of different savings goals that you can put this money toward, but the important part right now is to set up automatic savings so you can set it and forget it.
Trust me—you miss that money a lot less if you never see it in your account in the first place.
If you have automatic deposits at work, it’s super easy to add a savings account and have a certain % or dollar amount go into that account every month without it EVER hitting your checking.
In my opinion, this is the best way to go. Out of sight, out of mind.
You’re way less likely to touch this money, and you’ll be shocked at how much it grows over time!
If this isn’t an option for you, you’re not out of luck. You can set up automatic savings transfers into your savings account from your checking account through your bank.
Find a budget that works for you
Here at the ATB, we are all about budgeting in a way that makes sense for you and your life.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be stressful and restrictive. It should actually be freeing and allow you to feel more confident and in control of your money!
There’s no one right way to budget, and there are TONS of different types of budgets depending on your income and financial goals.
Personally, I use a zero-based budget which allows me to track and decide where every single dollar I have is going.
If you have big savings goals, low income or high debt, I definitely recommend checking out a zero-based budget.
Learn how to increase your credit score
Your credit score has a bigger impact on your life than just determining your eligibility for loans.
Credit can impact your ability to rent, job opportunities, car insurance rates and more.
Once you know what your credit score is, it’s important to understand what makes up your credit score, and what steps you can take to increase it.
There are five factors that influence your credit score:
Length of Credit History
Payment History makes up 35% of your credit score, so it is the most important factor.
ExtraCredit gives you the ability to report rent and utility payments, adding new tradelines to your credit profile. Adding payment history to your credit file.
And if you need help working to repair your credit, you can also use the Restore It feature to get an exclusive discount from a leading credit repair company. Remember: your best credit score is an accurate one.
Understanding how to increase your credit can take a lot of stress out of your finances and help you feel more in control of your credit future.
Make a debt payoff plan
I paid off $20k in CC debt in less than a year, and in order to do that, I needed a concrete plan of how I was going to tackle my debt.
Prior to that point, I had just been throwing a little bit here and there, hoping that my balance would eventually decrease.
Shockingly, that never happened.
Once I decided to use the debt avalanche to tackle my credit card debt, I was able to calculate how much extra money I could throw at my debt every month in order to make progress toward my debt free goal.
With this method, I paid the minimum payments on all of my debt except for the one with the highest interest.
With the highest interest debt, I put any extra money I had toward paying that down.
This gave my money more of a purpose than just throwing extra money here and there at my different debts.
It was also reassuring and motivating to see the loan amount decrease drastically as I threw the extra money I had towards it.
Lauren Gumport was en route to a vacation on the island of Chios, Greece, in July, where she was set to stay in an Airbnb for five nights with her best friend.
But upon her arrival in Athens to connect to her flight to Chios, she received a WhatsApp message from someone stating that their dad owned the Airbnb property, but that they managed it. The son said they’d be out of town — and that their dad didn’t speak English — but that Gumport would still be able to check in with the dad.
Gumport, who works for the travel insurance company Faye, is no stranger to stories of travel mishaps. She sensed something was off but forged ahead with the Chios flight. When she arrived at the meeting spot near the Airbnb, no one was there.
“It was hot and not in a touristy area, so it didn’t feel great,” she says. “We were exhausted from the flights and just wanted to drop our bags, so that was frustrating.”
She had an international cell phone plan, so after 15 minutes of waiting for the owner, she called Airbnb customer service. An hour later, an Airbnb customer service agent finally offered to rebook them elsewhere. But with no other suitable Airbnb listings, Gumport declined the offer. Airbnb then offered to pay for two nights at a hotel.
“Airbnb didn’t give any type of nightly cap on cost, and frankly the island didn’t have a ton of options,” she said. “We found a great hotel and sent Airbnb the receipt.”
The two-night hotel stay came out to $443.50, and Gumport received a reimbursement from Airbnb to her bank account in a few days. Airbnb also refunded the $434.22 cost of her original five-night reservation.
As for the other three nights they were supposed to spend in Chios? Gumport took the opportunity to check out another Greek island, where she booked a last-minute stay.
What happens if your host doesn’t show up?
Gumport contacted Airbnb as soon as she realized her host wasn’t there and says Airbnb appropriately compensated her for the inconvenience.
“Luckily, my friend and I have traveled so much that when things go wrong, we just quickly pivot and laugh it off,” she said. “We stayed two nights in the other hotel, had a great time, then hopped on a ferry to Samos, Greece, for the rest of our trip.”
But not all vacation rental companies have robust customer support, and not all will be as generous with compensation. Plus, not all travelers will be able to pivot like Gumport.
And it’s not just vacation rental companies, like Airbnb or Vrbo, where ghosting is a risk. It’s a challenge facing the ever-growing list of peer-to-peer travel platforms. That includes RV rental companies like Outdoorsy or RVshare, and rental car companies like Turo. There’s also a boat equivalent called GetMyBoat.
Each company has its own set of policies to mitigate mishaps. Some immediately rebook the closest alternative, which can often entail an upgrade. If the owner of the Toyota you booked through Turo doesn’t show up, the company might instead send a Tesla.
But even an upgraded Tesla might not come without some stress. Turo says you need to wait at least 30 minutes past the trip start time before you can contact customer support, according to a note on its help page. That’s 30 minutes you might be sitting on a curb in a foreign city, followed by the transport time hauling your bags to a different location once the company has found an alternative.
Also, the second option might not be exactly what you wanted. You may have to sacrifice features found in your initial vacation rental booking, like laundry or a kitchen, given the last-minute arrangement. Potential “upgrades” might not be much better, such as a larger car that just proves harder to park.
For what it’s worth, many sites that facilitate peer-to-peer rental services have increasingly cracked down on hosts who cancel reservations. In September 2023, vacation rental site Vrbo began instituting financial penalties for hosts. The amount of the fee is based on the overall cost of the listing, as well as how far out they cancel.
Have a plan in case you get ghosted
What if you make it to the check-in time and the host hasn’t canceled but also hasn’t materialized? Sometimes careful pre-trip research can’t prevent ghosting, but backup plans during the trip are critical.
Understand the booking company’s policies. For example, Airbnb promises to help rebook guests into a similar place if the host cancels, but the promise only applies to cancellations made by the host within 30 days of check-in. So, if the host cancels 31 days before Super Bowl Sunday for a home in the host city, good luck finding affordable alternative lodging.
Carefully read the reviews and only book listings that have plentiful, positive reviews. Previous guests might offer insights into the host’s reliability and help indicate which rentals to skip.
Have contact information handy for the host and customer support. Should you be abroad, consider purchasing an international phone plan or at least know where to find free Wi-Fi (such as train stations or cafes).
Research nearby alternatives, including other available listings. Be prepared to be flexible and change plans if necessary.
Take advantage of last-minute deals. Just as Gumport ferried to another Greek island for part of her stay, you could be similarly flexible. Hotels can often be cheaper when booked last minute anyway. Jamie Lane, chief economist at vacation rental data platform AirDNA, says the same holds true with lodging beyond hotels.
“Ask for last-minute deals,” Lane says. “Unbooked weeks or recent cancellations can lead to big discounts to fill open nights.”
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Collecting and trading Pokémon cards has been a popular hobby since the 1990s for both children and adults. In fact, as a kid, I was obsessed with Pokémon cards. I enjoyed opening new packs, collecting cards, and trading with my friends. And, I know I’m not alone. So many people have enjoyed Pokémon cards over…
Collecting and trading Pokémon cards has been a popular hobby since the 1990s for both children and adults.
In fact, as a kid, I was obsessed with Pokémon cards. I enjoyed opening new packs, collecting cards, and trading with my friends. And, I know I’m not alone. So many people have enjoyed Pokémon cards over the years as well.
As the value of certain cards continues to rise, finding the best places to sell your collection of Pokémon cards is more important than ever.
Whether you’re looking to make some extra cash, simply downsize your Pokémon card collection, or if you are decluttering everything you own and find a long lost box of childhood mementos, knowing where and how to sell your Pokémon cards can be important to make the most money.
In this article, I’ll discuss some of the best places to sell Pokémon cards online and locally and provide tips on how to price and present your cards in the best way.
Identify and evaluate the value of your Pokémon cards before selling. Some cards are worth way more than others. For example, one card may be worth $0.10, and another may be worth over $100,000.
Look at your different selling options to see how you can get the most money.
Learn effective selling tips and strategies for presenting your cards to potential buyers.
How To Sell Pokemon Cards
Selling your Pokémon cards can be an exciting and profitable way to make money, especially if you have rare, holographic, or near-mint-condition cards in your collection.
To help you make the most profit, follow these tips to find the best places to sell your Pokémon cards. Before starting your Pokémon cards selling journey, it’s important to know your cards’ condition, rarity, and type.
Related: How I Made $40,000 In One Year Selling Items
Near-mint cards with no creases, scuffs, or whitening edges tend to have a higher value. Also, rare and holographic cards, like the famous Charizard, are highly wanted by fans, collectors, and trading card game enthusiasts, making them valuable in the Pokémon card market.
To figure out how rare your Pokémon card is, look for the symbols in the bottom right corner of your card and if you have a lot of cards, then you should become familiar with the Pokémon card rarity indicators, as well as the different sets and booster packs in which your cards were released.
For more accurate valuations, you may even look for professional grading services, such as Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). They evaluate and grade cards based on their condition, ensuring buyers of their authenticity and quality.
If you’re selling Pokémon cards online, make sure to take clear, high-quality pictures that showcase your cards’ condition, as this will give potential buyers a better idea of what they’re purchasing.
By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be prepared to sell your Pokémon cards and get the most amount of money.
Best Places To Sell Pokemon Cards Online
There are many ways to sell Pokémon cards online. Here are some Pokémon selling sites to start with:
eBay is one of the most popular marketplaces for selling Pokémon cards due to its large reach of customers around the world.
I did a quick search on eBay and there are currently over 160,000 Pokémon cards for sale – so they definitely have a huge market!
You can choose to sell your cards through auctions or fixed price listings. When selling on eBay, be mindful of the seller fees and PayPal fees that will be deducted from your earnings. Shipping will also be another cost.
eBay is especially good for selling valuable cards, such as holographic cards or rare Charizard cards. To reach a wider audience and increase the chances of a successful sale, make sure you write detailed descriptions and add high-quality photos of your cards so that people are more likely to click on your listing.
2. Troll and Toad
Troll and Toad is an online store that specializes in collectible card games, such as selling Pokémon cards and they have been around for over 25 years.
They offer a buy list where you can sell your cards for cash or store credit. To sell on Troll and Toad, simply use their search bar to find the cards you want to sell, add them to your cart, checkout, and then ship your cards to them.
This is a great feature of Troll and Toad – the fact that you can see the exact cards they will accept and the exact amount that they will pay you for each Pokémon card. As you will learn below, many of the Pokémon card selling websites have this same feature, which is so helpful!
After you complete the list of cards that you plan on selling to them, you will print out an invoice that they give you, and then choose a payment method. Then, you will ship your box of Pokémon cards to them. Once they receive the package, they will verify the cards that you have sent to make sure they are in the correct condition as you stated. After that, they will pay you.
Troll and Toad also accepts Pokémon cards in bulk.
Keep in mind that they may be selective about the cards they accept, so it’s important to research and determine the value of your cards beforehand.
Mercari is a site where you can quickly set up an account and start selling your used items, such as Pokémon cards. This site is not dedicated to just Pokémon cards, but they do have many listed and it is an easy option for Pokémon collectors.
There are well over 1,000 Pokémon cards listed on Mercari.
It’s important to create persuasive listings with photos and a relevant, detailed description, and include relevant keywords related to Pokémon cards. (Remember, they don’t just sell Pokémon cards, they also sell clothes and other items, so keywords are important!). Also, Mercari takes a minimum 10% fee from each sale you make on their platform.
TCGplayer is a popular site with card game collectors in the U.S. and Europe.
People love selling on this site because they say it’s easy to use and they have great customer service.
To sell Pokémon cards on TCGplayer, simply list your cards on the TCGplayer marketplace, set your prices, and wait for potential buyers to purchase them. The marketplace handles the transactions, making the selling process easy.
Note: You will have to pay a commission fee of around 12–13% for each sale you make on TCGplayer, and you might also have shipping costs.
Here’s a quick guide on how to sell Pokémon cards on TCGplayer:
Create a seller account – You will need an account to get started selling Pokémon cards.
Set up your inventory – Once your seller account is created, you can start listing your Pokémon cards for sale. Enter details like the card’s name, set, condition, and quantity available.
Pricing your cards – Decide on the prices for your Pokémon cards. You can either manually set the prices or use TCGplayer’s automated pricing tool to match the market rates. TCGplayer has a pricing algorithm to help sellers be competitive and adjust prices based on the market demand.
Shipping options – Decide on the shipping options you will have for buyers.
Receiving payments – TCGplayer usually collects payments from buyers, processes the orders, and then deposits the money into your seller account. From there, you can withdraw your funds.
Maintain your inventory – Keep your inventory up to date. Remove sold items and add new ones to reflect the current availability of your Pokémon cards.
5. Card Cavern
Card Cavern is an online store that specializes in buying and selling Pokémon cards.
They have a straightforward buylist system where you can quickly find the cards they’re interested in and the prices they’re willing to pay.
Then, you ship your cards to them (they recommend purchasing tracking and insurance).
If you choose to sell your cards to Card Cavern, you’ll receive payment through PayPal or receive store credit, depending on your preference.
Their buy rates only apply to near-mint, English, tournament legal cards. You can send as many or as little Pokémon cards as you want to Card Cavern.
6. Dave & Adam’s
Dave & Adam’s is an online store for trading cards, including Pokémon cards, and it has been around for over 30 years.
They offer a buy list where you can see which cards they’re currently interested in purchasing. If your cards match their buy list, you can submit a sell request, ship your cards to them, and receive payment via check, PayPal, or store credit.
If you have a big collection, they will even travel to you.
7. Pokémon Facebook Groups
Pokémon Facebook Groups are communities of Pokémon card collectors and enthusiasts who use the platform to buy, sell, and trade cards. Pokémon Facebook Groups are exactly what you think – Facebook groups for Pokémon card collectors.
This can be a great place to sell your Pokémon cards because these groups are filled with people who are very interested in buying Pokémon cards.
These groups allow you to talk directly with fellow collectors and cater to various interests, such as specific regions, sets, or rarity levels.
To sell your Pokémon cards in these groups, make sure you follow group rules, post clear photos, and respond quickly to potential buyers’ inquiries.
8. CCG Castle
CCG Castle is a website that specializes in games since 2007.
They buy Pokémon cards that you no longer need and have a buy list on their site that will tell you exactly what they are accepting and how much they will pay you for it. They pay in either PayPal cash or store credit.
Best Places To Sell Pokemon Cards Near Me
If you’re looking to sell your collection or particular Pokémon cards, there are several options near you to consider. This section will cover the best local places where you can sell your cards, such as Facebook Marketplace, comic book stores, pawn shops, and Craigslist.
9. Facebook Marketplace
A popular and easy way to sell your Pokémon cards is through Facebook Marketplace. Nearly everyone has a Facebook account, so it can be easy for you to get started, and it allows you to connect with local buyers who might be interested in your cards.
Posting on Facebook Marketplace is simple, and you can include photos, descriptions, and set your price. Also, you can communicate with potential buyers through Facebook Messenger, making it easy to negotiate and set up a meeting location.
There are no listing fees when selling on Facebook Marketplace, which means that you get to keep everything you earn. But, you do have to handle everything yourself.
10. Local comic book stores
Comic book stores, particularly those that specialize in trading cards, card games, and board games, can be a great place to sell your collection.
Many local comic shops are interested in buying Pokémon cards to stock their inventory for other gamers and collectors.
You can visit stores in your local area, ask if they purchase Pokémon cards, and provide the store owner with a list or photos of your cards. They may make an offer on the spot or ask you to come back later. Remember, each comic store is different, so it’s a good idea to try a few stores near you to compare offers and don’t stop at just one.
11. Pawn shops
Another option to consider is pawn shops.
Pawn stores are known for buying various items, including sports cards and collectibles like Pokémon cards. Take your cards to a few pawn shops near you and see if they’re interested in buying your collection.
Keep in mind that pawn shops usually offer lower prices than other options (this is because selling Pokémon cards is not their sole business), but they can be a quick and convenient way to sell more popular cards.
Craigslist is a site for buying and selling various items locally – I’m sure you’ve heard of it. You can create a detailed listing for your Pokémon cards, including pictures, descriptions, and asking prices.
Interested buyers in your area can contact you, allowing you to arrange a meetup in a safe and convenient location.
Craigslist is usually a little more difficult to sell Pokémon cards on and that is because this site does not specialize solely in Pokémon cards and is very localized.
Where to Sell Pokemon Cards in Bulk
Selling your Pokémon cards in bulk may be something that you are interested in if you simply don’t have the time to look each one up.
When selling your Pokémon cards in bulk, it’s important to find the right platform. In this section, we’ll focus on three popular options: Full Grip Games, Safari Zone, and Sell2BBNovelties. With their unique offerings and easy-to-sell process, these companies can help you get the most value for your collection if you simply don’t have the time or have too many cards to sort through.
13. Full Grip Games
Full Grip Games is a local game shop in Ohio that buys bulk Pokémon cards online and in person.
At Full Grip Games, they make it easy for you to sell your bulk cards in increments of 100 or 1,000. Also, they accept rares and other card types as well. To make things simpler for you, their website has a bulk buy list that breaks down all the packs and cards they accept along with individual prices.
To get started, follow these easy steps:
Click on the “Buylist Instructions” link on their website.
Choose their full singles buylist or their bulk buylist.
Select the cards in your collection according to the buylist.
Review the pricing and total value of the cards submitted.
Once done, send the cards following their shipping instructions.
Once they receive your bulk cards, it will take them around one week to go through them. For the cards they accept, you can get paid via PayPal, store credit (you will get a 30% bonus if you choose the store credit option), or check via USPS mail.
14. Safari Zone
Safari Zone is another great option to consider for selling your Pokémon cards in bulk. They accept a wide range of cards, but they do need to be in near-mint condition.
Here’s what you should do to sell your cards on Safari Zone:
Create an account on the Safari Zone website.
Review the cards they purchase on their buy list.
Enter the card details.
After submitting the card information, you’ll receive a quote for your collection.
Ship your cards to Safari Zone, and they will process your payment after validating the cards.
Safari Zone only pays via store credit.
Sell2BBNovelties is a website that has been around since 1999 that specializes in toys and collectibles, such as Pokémon cards.
They have an easy platform to sell your Pokémon cards in bulk and accept various card types, including rares, holographic, and common/uncommon cards.
To sell your Pokémon cards on Sell2BBNovelties, simply:
Go to their website and click on the “Buying Prices” tab.
Select the cards you’re selling according to their buying list.
When you’re ready, submit the form. You’ll receive a confirmation email with the total value of the cards and further instructions.
Ship your cards to Sell2BBNovelties, and they will process your payment upon receiving and verifying your cards.
You can receive payment for the cards they accept in either PayPal cash or store credit.
How to Make a Website to Sell Pokemon Cards
If you have the time and a lot of cards, you may even be interested in starting a website to sell your Pokémon cards.
Creating a website to sell your Pokémon cards is a great idea to reach a wider audience and have lower fees. Of course, there will be more work in this because you will be managing everything yourself.
Choose a platform and create your design – Look for an easy-to-use platform to build your website – my favorite is WordPress. You will want to pick a clean looking design that customers can look at on both computer and phone. Most platforms have a variety of premade themes that you can use. You can also personalize your website by adding your logo, choosing colors that represent your brand, and adding images.
Organize your products – Categorize your Pokémon cards by sets, rarity, or other criteria that make sense for your target audience. Clear product descriptions and high-quality images of each card will help potential buyers too.
Set up payment and shipping – Choose a payment gateway to securely process transactions. Options like PayPal, Stripe, or Square are widely used and reliable. Choose shipping options and rates based on your preferred carriers and shipping destinations.
Create valuable content – In addition to listing your Pokémon cards, consider creating helpful content such as blog posts or videos that add value to your website and attract more readers and buyers. Providing informative content will establish you as an expert in the field and help drive traffic to your site.
Promote your website – Use social media, search engine optimization (SEO), or even paid advertising to increase page views to your website.
Related: How To Start A Website Free Course
Pokemon Card Selling Tips and Strategies
Selling your Pokémon cards can be an exciting way to make extra money, but it’s important to have a little strategy so that you can make the most money and find the most buyers.
Here are some tips for selling your Pokémon cards successfully.
Determine the value of your cards. You should research how rare the card is, the origin, and the condition of your cards, as these factors will affect their worth. Keep an eye out for rare and valuable cards (such as first edition cards and illustrations), as these will attract more interest from collectors. Grading your cards can help with this process – professional grading services can rate the condition of your cards and encapsulate them in a case, increasing their value.
Consider where to sell your cards.There are numerous platforms for selling Pokémon cards online, such as eBay, where you can list your cards as single items or in an auction format. There are also more specialized Pokémon selling websites which are dedicated to trading cards. These sites often have dedicated communities of potential buyers who are very interested in Pokémon cards.
Write clear and accurate descriptions of your cards.You should always be clear and honest about your card’s condition. For example, are there any scratches or bends? Is there a tear or water damage?
Ship your cards carefully.Carefully package your Pokémon cards to protect your cards from damage during transit. You will want to keep your cards waterproof and not use rubber bands (rubber bands can damage the cards). Also, consider offering a tracking number and insurance to your buyer as an additional layer of security. Many of the Pokémon selling sites above have a very exact way they want you to ship the cards to them to prevent any damage, so be sure to see what their rules are.
By following these Pokémon card selling tips and tricks, you can increase the chances of finding the best places to sell your Pokémon cards.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to common questions about selling Pokémon cards.
How do I know if my Pokemon cards are worth money?
So, how do you know if the Pokémon cards that you have are worth anything? Many people have Pokémon cards, probably stuffed in a box somewhere, or maybe you came across some.
Whatever your reason is, yes, your Pokémon cards may be worth something.
Knowing the value of your Pokémon cards is important before selling, and there are a few key things to think about.
First, look at the rarity symbols on your cards: a circle indicates a common card, a square represents an uncommon card, and a star denotes a rare card. These symbols help you determine the rarity of your cards and their potential worth.
The condition of your cards also plays a big role in their value. Cards in mint condition, meaning they have no visible wear or damage, are worth more than cards with minor imperfections. Holographic cards, especially in mint condition, can be more valuable.
To take it a step further, you could even get your Pokémon cards professionally valued and graded by a reputable company like PSA. Grading involves a professional inspection of your card’s condition, assigning a numerical grade based on factors such as centering, corners, edges, and surface. The higher the graded number, the better the condition and, often, the higher the value.
Keep in mind that while Pokémon cards typically have higher values, other trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh can also be valuable. Make sure to research the prices of similar cards sold recently, and compare the condition of your cards to decide if they’re worth selling.
How do I sell Pokemon cards for cash?
To sell your Pokémon cards for cash, first organize your cards by set and look for rare ones to see what you have. Once you’ve prepared your collection, follow the selling instructions on your chosen platform.
You can sell your Pokémon cards online, locally near you, and even in bulk.
Where can I find buyers for my Pokemon cards?
You can find buyers for your Pokémon cards on online marketplaces, local card shops, and social media groups. Websites like eBay and TCGplayer are popular places for selling Pokémon cards, as well as community forums and local collector’s events.
What are some reputable websites to sell Pokemon cards?
There are many reputable sites to sell Pokémon cards as we discussed above, such as:
Troll and Toad
Dave & Adam’s
Pokémon Facebook Groups
Full Grip Games
Where is the best place to sell Pokemon cards?
The best place to sell your Pokémon cards depends on your preferences. eBay gives you a worldwide market and you are probably already familiar with their platform.
TCGplayer and Troll and Toad specialize in trading card sales and have a lot of Pokémon cards for sale.
Pokémon Facebook Groups are a great way to connect with those interested in Pokémon cards, and there are no listing fees – but you would be dealing with people on your own and handling everything yourself.
Are there any local stores that buy Pokemon cards?
Some local stores, like comic book shops, game stores, and pawn shops, may buy Pokémon cards. You can call local stores to see if they buy cards before bringing your collection in person.
Can you sell Pokemon cards on Etsy?
Etsy is generally geared towards handmade and vintage items, so it’s not an ideal platform for selling Pokémon cards. It’s best to stick with platforms like eBay, TCGplayer, or Troll and Toad for selling trading cards.
I did a search for Pokémon cards on Etsy and it said there were 43,326 results, but I think many of these are for custom art, in that they would be turning a picture of you or your pet into a Pokémon card. So, not the same thing.
Can I sell Pokemon cards on eBay?
Yes, you can sell Pokémon cards on eBay. It is one of the most popular sites for selling Pokémon cards and it gives you control over pricing and listing options.
Can you sell Pokemon cards at GameStop?
GameStop typically does not buy or sell individual Pokémon cards.
Do pawn shops buy Pokemon cards?
Some pawn shops may buy Pokémon cards, especially if they are valuable or rare. Call your local pawn shops or visit them in person to inquire about their interest in buying Pokémon cards. Remember, they do not specialize in Pokémon cards and have a smaller market, so you may not get as much for your Pokémon cards at a pawn store.
What does TCG and CCG mean?
As you’re going through the sites above looking for one of the best places to sell your Pokémon cards, you may come across these two terms. CCG means collectible card game and TCG means trading card game.
How can I determine the value of my Pokemon cards?
Figuring out the value of your Pokémon cards involves considering factors like:
Websites like TCGplayer and Troll and Toad provide price guides and historical sales information to help you estimate the value of your cards.
How do I check the value of my Pokemon cards?
Check the value of your Pokémon cards by researching on websites like TCGplayer, eBay, and Pokémon Price. These platforms can give you a good idea of the current market value for individual cards.
Do you need a license to sell Pokemon cards?
You generally do not need a license to sell Pokémon cards, unless you’re planning to sell them by opening an in-person store. Check your local regulations to make sure you’re following any required guidelines.
How much is Charizard Pokemon card worth?
Charizard cards vary widely in value and can be worth anywhere from $25 to over $50,000. The Charizard Pokémon card that is worth the most is typically a mint condition 1st Edition from the base set.
What Pokemon cards are worth more than $100?
Some Pokémon cards worth more than $100 include rare Pokémon cards, such as first edition holographic cards from the original sets, high-grade cards, misprints, and promotional cards like the Pokémon Illustrator card.
What is the most expensive Pokemon card?
The most expensive Pokémon card varies over time; some examples include the Pokémon Illustrator card, the 1st Edition Charizard, or unique, one-of-a-kind promo cards handed out during official Pokémon events. The rarest Pokémon cards obviously cost more money and sell for more.
According to TCGplayer, the most expensive Pokémon cards include:
Pokémon World Championships No. 2 Trainer Promo
No. 2 Trainer Toshiyuki Yamaguchi (2000)
Neo Genesis 1st Edition Lugia (2000)
Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer (1999)
Family Event Trophy Kangaskhan (1998)
Test Print Blastoise Gold Border (1998)
Tsunekazu Ishihara Signed Promo (2017)
Trophy Pikachu No. 3 Trainer Bronze (1997)
Commissioned Presentation Blastoise Galaxy Star Holo (1998)
First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4 (1999)
Illustrator Pikachu (1998)
These were all sold for over $100,000 each.
Best Places To Sell Pokemon Cards – Summary
I hope you enjoyed this article on the best places to sell Pokémon cards and how to sell Pokémon cards for cash.
If you have Pokémon cards that you no longer want, there are many ways you can sell them. And, they may be worth a lot of money!
To figure out the value of the Pokémon cards that you want to sell, you’ll want to look at their rarity symbols, Pokémon card condition, grading (if applicable), and market comparisons. Understanding these factors will help you decide if your cards are worth selling and where to find the best prices.
Once your cards are sorted and evaluated, it’s now time to choose the best places to sell your Pokémon cards. Here are some popular options:
eBay – This site has millions of Pokémon cards sold every year. It’s a great place to find a worldwide audience, but remember to factor in shipping costs and eBay fees.
Facebook Marketplace and Pokémon Facebook Groups – Connect with local collectors or fans without worrying about shipping fees. This option may mean that you will meet the buyer in person.
Local comic shops – These stores can be an easy place to sell your cards, especially if they specialize in Pokémon cards or trading card games.
TCGplayer – Catering specifically to trading card game fans, this site has a dedicated space for buying and selling Pokémon cards.
Other options include Troll and Toad, Card Cavern, Dave & Adam’s, Sell2BBNovelties, pawn shops, and more.
Good luck selling your Pokémon cards!
What do you think is the best place to sell Pokemon cards for cash?
This state has it all, from bustling cities to cozy small towns, from beaches to mountains.
Looking for the best place to live in Maryland? You’re in luck. With its close proximity to Washington, D.C., and an ample coastline, Maryland offers something for everyone. Stick around as we dive into the best places to call home in this diverse state.
Average age: 42.8
Median household income: $178,370
Average commute time: 29.3 minutes
Walk score: 45
Studio average rent: $1,889
One-bedroom average rent: $2,631
Two-bedroom average rent: $3,501
In Bethesda, sleek office buildings stand like polite giants nodding at the encircling trees, while award-winning public schools promise futures written in Pulitzer ink. Within close proximity of the nation’s political pulse, jobs in consulting, biotechnology and the not-so-small universe of NGOs flourish like dandelions after a spring rain. This is a town where lab coats and pant suits sip fair-trade coffee side-by-side, leafing through the latest policy white papers or engrossed in a new bestseller.
Dine globally without a passport; sushi bars and tapas joints are almost as commonplace as the strip of art galleries flaunting color like defiant peacocks. Walk the Capital Crescent Trail where nature seems to wink, uninterrupted, at the hurried lives just a few miles away. It’s a place for the young, the seasoned and the young-at-heart — because a social calendar here is as likely to brim with farmers markets and antique fairs as with indie film festivals. An orchestra of lives harmonizing in pursuit of personal crescendos, Bethesda stands as one of the best places to live in Maryland.
Average age: 38.7
Median household income: $111,278
Average commute time: 30.6 minutes
Walk score: 33
Studio average rent: $1,800
One-bedroom average rent: $1,691
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,947
In Columbia, winding pathways connecting neighborhoods feel like arteries of communal ambition. The schools are fortresses of academia, where young minds are not so much filled as they are ignited. The economy? It has enough horsepower to make a muscle car purr, driven by a gamut of industries from healthcare to cybersecurity.
Juxtapositions flourish in Columbia. Lakes and parks are as abundant as shopping centers and eateries, each offering solace or spectacle, depending on your mood. It’s where people kayak under the same sky that office buildings stretch toward. Cultural festivals mingle with farmers markets—life here is a curated menu of perpetual discovery.
Average age: 39.5
Median household income: $111,797
Average commute time: 30.3 minutes
Walk score: 56
Rockville residents understand the beauty of balance. The red and yellow lines of the Metro whisk them into the heart of D.C. in minutes, while the corridors of Rock Creek Park offer an immediate escape from the 9-to-5 grind. The job market isn’t just robust; it’s a kaleidoscope of potential, with opportunities ranging from biotech and software development to healthcare and federal services.
Rockville is a place where international grocery stores and boutiques stand unassumingly next to American big-box retailers. The town puts on cultural events that range from summer concerts to holiday parades, each inviting every strata of the community to mingle in shared celebration. In Rockville, you’ll find a gathering of people who aren’t just living but composing a narrative where ambition and relaxation co-author every chapter.
Average age: 41.5
Median household income: $136,234
Average commute time: 29.4 minutes
Walk score: 23
Studio average rent: $1,588
One-bedroom average rent: $2,207
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,545
In Ellicott City, historic landmarks sit comfortably beside modern retail spaces, like a multigenerational family enjoying a holiday feast. Consistently considered one of the best places to live in Maryland, Ellicott City offers not just exceptional quality of life but also an array of job opportunities in industries like information technology, healthcare and education, just to name a few.
Now, let’s talk nature. Patapsco Valley State Park is more than a lungful of fresh air; it’s an entire respiratory system of scenic trails, waterfalls and wildlife. But Ellicott City isn’t just a looker; it’s a doer. Community events like art festivals and outdoor concerts fill the calendar, drawing together a diverse and open-minded populace. Here, camaraderie doesn’t take a backseat: It rides shotgun, guiding both newcomers and long-time locals through a life that’s as rich in opportunity as it is in character.
Average age: 38.3
Median household income: $92,026
Average commute time: 29.7 minutes
Walk score: 48
Studio average rent: $1,698
One-bedroom average rent: $2,432
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,670
Annapolis is a unique city in that maritime culture and political pomp walk hand in hand to the beat of their own marching drum. This Maryland gem packs a punch with its waterfront ambiance, captivating history and modern-day amenities, making it one of the best places to live in Maryland. A haven for both boat enthusiasts and power-suit-wearing policymakers, the employment landscape is a diverse mix of opportunities in government, education, healthcare and maritime industries.
Life in Annapolis is scenic and social. It seems pulled from the pages of a well-written novel. You can enjoy a day by the Chesapeake Bay and then head downtown to meet friends at a café or catch live music at a local venue. From the red-bricked charm of its historic district to the energetic buzz of its contemporary lifestyle, Annapolis is both a tribute to its rich past and a living testament to the concept of one of the best places to live in Maryland.
Average age: 32.8
Median household income: $90,951
Average commute time: 26.3 minutes
Walk score: 50
Studio average rent: $1,599
One-bedroom average rent: $1,765
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,053
Think of Towson as the cosmopolitan cousin to Baltimore that’s carved its own distinct identity on Maryland’s cultural map. It’s like a dynamic, multifaceted character in a compelling novel, always ready for the next twist in the plot. A haven for students and seasoned professionals, this community stands tall as one of the best places to live in Maryland. Renowned educational institutions, including Towson University, provide a young, energetic vibe, while a robust job market in healthcare, law and information technology makes the town a magnet for qualified job seekers.
Life in Towson isn’t just about achieving, it’s also about relishing. Let’s talk natural beauty; think Loch Raven Reservoir and Cromwell Valley Park, where you can experience the great outdoors with the same convenience as grabbing a latte from the corner café. Speaking of which, Towson’s dining scene offers an international smorgasbord, from sushi spots to Italian bistros. The community pulse here is dynamic, too, defined by seasonal events like the Towson Farmers Market and the Festival of Trees.
Average age: 36.4
Median household income: $78,400
Average commute time: 31.9 minutes
Walk score: 47
Studio average rent: $1,800
One-bedroom average rent: $1,882
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,062
Acting as a savvy entrepreneur and a seasoned historian, Frederick emerges as one of the best places to live in Maryland. Job opportunities abound across sectors like healthcare, biotech and logistics. Meanwhile, education is equally ambitious, with schools that inspire students to look beyond the textbook, offering programs that harness creativity and analytical thinking alike.
But there’s more to Frederick than a well-rounded resume; this city knows how to kick back and enjoy the scenery. The great outdoors is right at Frederick’s doorstep, with the Catoctin Mountains offering a green expanse for hiking, picnicking and some good old-fashioned reflection.
Downtown Frederick is perfect for a leisurely Saturday stroll or a culinary journey through global cuisines. Throw in a dash of arts and culture and you’ve got a city that provides the best of what Maryland has to offer.
Average age: 34.6
Median household income: $91,970
Average commute time: 34.9 minutes
Walk score: 63
Studio average rent: $1,790
One-bedroom average rent: $1,963
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,248
Silver Spring is situated just a stone’s throw from D.C. This coveted enclave is on everybody’s lips when discussing the best places to live in Maryland or in the greater DMV area. A robust job market fueled by healthcare, media and technology provides plentiful opportunities for professionals of every stripe. Add to that a parade of excellent schools, where innovative teaching styles are the norm, and you’ve got an environment that molds future leaders as easily as it crafts neighborhood potlucks.
Silver Spring knows the art of balancing work and play like a tightrope walker knows the thrill of the high wire. The great outdoors beckon, whether it’s the nearby Rock Creek Park or the various local trails and green spaces perfect for a weekend jaunt.
And let’s not overlook the town’s eclectic palate; from food trucks to high-end dining, it’s a culinary carnival that tempts taste buds in all the right ways. Festivals, farmers markets and live performances add layers to the local color, making Silver Spring not just a place to live, but a place to live life to the fullest.
Average age: 36.0
Median household income: $80,255
Average commute time: 35.9 minutes
Walk score: 53
Studio average rent: $1,651
One-bedroom average rent: $1,817
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,112
Midway between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Laurel unfurls a red carpet of opportunities in fields like healthcare, government and education. A cluster of top-notch schools underscores the community’s commitment to academic excellence, cultivating young minds with both rigor and compassion.
Yet Laurel isn’t merely a grindstone against which to sharpen one’s professional and educational blades; it’s a banquet hall of experiences. Eateries and cafes serve a cornucopia of flavors, drawing inspiration from around the globe, while local shops sprinkle personality into every purchase.
Average age: 48.3
Median household income: $228,986
Average commute time: 30.0 minutes
Walk score: 62
Studio average rent: $1,550
One-bedroom average rent: $2,758
Two-bedroom average rent: $3,666
Chevy Chase is a destination worth your real estate dreams and categorically one of the best places to live in Maryland. On the edge of Washington, D.C., this suburban jewel attracts a cadre of professionals from industries as varied as law, healthcare and government. Educational aspirations are met with schools that not only excel in academia but also emphasize well-rounded growth, thereby churning out young minds equipped for the complexities of the modern world.
But life in Chevy Chase is not all spreadsheets and lesson plans. Think of it as a well-curated gallery of experiences. Tree-lined streets pave the way to an array of recreation options, from meticulously maintained parks to high-end shopping destinations. Imagine dining in restaurants where each dish seems to be plucked from a culinary magazine, or attending cultural events that resonate with intellect and soul.
Make your way to Maryland
So there you have it — a list of some of the top places to live in Maryland. Whether you’re a career-driven professional, actively raising a young family or just looking for a place that has a good mix of everything, Maryland has a spot for you.
The towns featured above aren’t just places to live; they’re communities where anyone can thrive. Now the ball’s in your court. Maryland’s got options; it’s up to you to choose your perfect fit. Find your Maryland apartment today.
This article is part of a series put together by the Total Mortgage marketing team that provides sales professionals with a crash course in marketing and self-promotion. To read other articles in this series, click here.
Video marketing is kind of having a moment right now.
In the past, using video to market to consumers was the m.o. of big companies with a lot of money and manpower to throw around. That is, not really in reach for your average loan officer or realtor. Now, however, it’s easier than ever to create simple videos and get them in front of potential customers on your own.
Why add video to your marketing strategy?
Interest in video is growing fast, and it won’t stop any time soon. Last year, Facebook’s video viewership doubled from 4 billion a day to 8 billion—in just 7 months. The experts at Syndacast, meanwhile, predict that a whopping 74% of internet traffic will be video by 2017. Basically, all signs say that the next big trend in digital marketing is video. Combine that with the potential to increase conversions by up to 30%, and it’s a trend you want to be a part of.
SEO (search engine optimization) benefits are another point to consider. Put simply, Google likes to feed people the best content they can. When their search algorithm sees a multimedia page, like an informative blog with an accompanying video, they’re much more likely to recommend your page to searchers.
Think you’re on board with video? Great. In this guide, we’re going to assume you’re working on some kind of short informative video, but that isn’t the only option available to you.
Types of marketing videos
Filming without pinning down a format can set you up for a lot of wasted time in front of the camera. These are a few of the most common kinds of videos you’ll see.
FAQs address specific problems or questions a viewer might have, and are usually short, semi-scripted, and informative. You can also use a similar format to highlight certain products or give a demonstration.
Interviews involve a conversation, either between multiple people on camera or between one person speaking to another off camera. They work best when you have access to someone with a skill set or experience level that entices your audience.
Testimonials put your customers on screen to advocate for you. These sometimes have an interview-like format, though they may require more scripting.
Culture videos put you (and your company) front and center, giving customers a taste for who you are and why you do what you do with the help of dynamic music, candid footage, and smart voice-overs, interviews, or graphics.
Ads require a tight focus, careful scripting, and a clear beginning, middle, and end. They often cost more than other video options and will probably require the help of an outside production company.
Marketing video basics
Whether your video team is just a neighbor with a camera or a whole marketing department, it helps to have a firm handle on what goes into making a marketing video. While it can be a complex process, ultimately, you really only need a few basic things to get started:
A decent camera and microphone
Someone knowledgeable to man the camera for you
Access to video editing software
A quiet, non-distracting place to film
Of course, there are plenty of ways to step up your game. That can mean getting better equipment, springing for a green screen, or shooting b-roll (that is, relevant secondary footage you can cut in to demonstrate ideas or give viewers a break from primary footage).
If you’re just starting out and don’t have a large budget for video, keep it simple. There are plenty of services that help you make the most of the devices you already have and integrate easily with email. Bombbomb and Talk Fusion are two good places to start.
Where to use your video
Before you even start putting together a script, you need to decide where this video is going and how you plan to showcase it. That’s because what you put around the video needs to have some impact on the content of it—and vice versa—if you want to engage people.
Here are some common areas where companies use video (a few of which we’re already using at Total Mortgage):
Email. If you have any sort of email campaign in place, be it an extensive drip campaign set in motion by first contact or simple check-ins as a customer hits milestones, adding relevant and helpful videos can make your emails go farther. A lot farther. Video can increase email click-through-rate by up to 300%.
Home page. If your home page is lacking personality, a video can help add a human touch. Typically, these take the form of about us or product highlight videos, but don’t let that limit you. Just keep in mind one thing: your home page is prime real estate. It’s what potential clients and others interested in your business will see first. Whatever you choose to put here should be well-done and relevant.
Testimonial pages. If you have a great relationship with a satisfied borrower who has an interesting story to tell, a customer story video can be a helpful addition to your testimonial page.
Social media. If your video is informative, funny, or short and ad-like, you would do well to add sharing it on social media to any other plans you have for it. And that doesn’t mean throwing your video up on YouTube just in case. As we’ve already mentioned, Facebook is making moves to become a major player in the video content game, and with all that targeting data at their fingertips, it’s not hard to see why. Other social options, like Snapchat and Twitter can also help boost your signal.
Ad campaigns. If your business in on the larger side and you’ve already dipped your toes into the video pool with good results, it might be time to consider going bigger. You can use an ad pretty much anywhere–on your homepage, your about us, your social pages. If the quality is high enough, you can even look into advertising online or on tv.
Writing your script
To film a video right, it really helps to know in advance what the whole thing is about. That’s where a script comes in. Scripts help you plan out the dialogue of your video. They are also important for blocking out a video and deciding where your cuts and footage would make the most sense. Often, you’ll need to go through several drafts to find one you’re happy with. Here are a few more tips to help you get it right:
Start with your audience. You may have an idea for a great video, but unless someone wants to watch it, you’re out of luck. Before you settle on one idea, make sure you know who your audience will be. If you’re in the housing industry, this can mean anything from hesitant first-time buyers to satisfied past buyers willing to refer others.
Similarly, don’t try to appeal to everyone. This is fairly standard marketing advice, but it’s something you should still keep in mind when you’re coming up with a video concept. Even though the whole point of video may seem to be racking up that view count, you’re more likely to get leads from a small but targeted audience. So instead, tailor your video to fit a specific demographic.
Personality is important. If you’re going to go through the effort of putting yourself on camera, a vital part of doing the job right means giving viewers a feel for who are. Make sure you write the same way you speak with clients in person.
Getting in and out is the hardest part. Think about some of the low budget, small business videos you’ve seen over the last few years. Where do you always end up cringing the most? Yep, the beginning and the end, where awkward intros and abrupt fades-to-black reign. It’s easy to spend most of your time polishing the meaty parts of your video, but to avoid ruining an otherwise strong video, don’t forget about the transitions.
Keep your videos short. No matter how much footage you take, remember that viewers have short attention spans. Depending on the video, you should aim for between 30 seconds to 2 minutes—but shorter is always better.
Don’t worry too much about what you put on paper. Scripts change all the time. Sometimes what you have written down just doesn’t end up fitting. In some types of videos, like a Q&A session or a short interview, you’re probably going to want to skip the script all together and stick to some pre-chosen questions. This is especially true if you think you’re going to have difficulty speaking naturally on camera.
Tips for filming day
If you’re new to this whole video thing, you may not realize how much work goes into the filming alone. Here are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind before you get in front of the camera.
Wear a solid-colored, non-green shirt. Patterns can be distracting on camera, and green may interfere with editing later on if you’re using a green screen.
Practice reading your script aloud before you start filming. As we’ve already mentioned, you want to sound as natural as possible in front of the camera. A read-through will help you pick out the places that trip you up and get used to speaking conversationally—that is, not too fast or too stilted.
Decide where you’re looking. Generally you’ll want to look directly at the lens, but depending on the video, you may need to look at an interviewer or something on screen.
Relax. The tenser you are, the more it’s going to show up in your voice and face. Try to pretend the camera is a person and talk to it, not at it.
Take a look at your takes as you finish each one. You’ll be able to see what you need to tweak in your next take.
If you’re working with a videographer, talk to them the day before. It’s likely they have some other tips and requirements that are more specific to the material you’re filming.
Next steps: editing your marketing video
Once you have all your footage, it’s time to edit.
Ideally, you’d have the help of whoever manned the camera, be they hobbyist neighbor or full-time videographer, but that’s not always an option. If you’re planning on editing your video yourself, this Hubspot post offers a breakdown on several free options for video editing software. This blog post from Wordstream also has some helpful knitty-gritty tips when it comes to things like lighting, editing, and music on the cheap.
You can learn more about what the Total Mortgage marketing team does for our loan officers by checking out other articles in this series. If you’re in the housing industry, stop by our career portal to learn more about us as a company.
While negative equity levels keep drifting lower, there is still a large group of homeowners that must remain patient.
And by patient, I mean waiting another four years or so before simply breaking even, assuming home price forecasts hold true.
In Zillow’s latest Negative Equity Report, which I suppose has plenty more editions to come, the company noted that 23.8% of all borrowers with a mortgage were underwater as of the end of the second quarter.
While still elevated, that number is down from 25.4% in the first quarter and 30.9% a year ago, the fifth straight quarterly decline thanks to rapidly ascending home prices.
It’s expected to drop to 20.9% by the second quarter of 2014, freeing another 1.96 million homeowners from negative equity.
During the second quarter, roughly 800,000 homeowners were finally able to see the light of day, with the total number of underwater homeowners dropping from 13 million to 12.2 million.
A year ago, 15.3 million homeowners couldn’t get a breath of fresh air.
For the record, about one-third of all homes do not have a mortgage, so the negative equity rate for ALL homeowners is significantly lower at just 16.7%.
Not Everyone Is Sitting So Pretty
While the numbers are clearly improving steadily, there is still a large group of homeowners that have a ways to go before getting back in the black.
In fact, 57% of homeowners have a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or more, so with home values expected to rise 4.8% annually over the next year, it would take another four years to simply get back to even (assuming appreciation keeps up).
Even worse, one in seven negative equity borrowers still owes more than twice what their home is worth. You might think it’s amazing that they’ve stuck around this long…I do.
For this group, it will take many more years to break even, and that’s still not enough to actually part with the home.
Zillow defines those with less than 20% home equity as being part of the “effective” negative equity group because listing a home and buying a new one generally requires that amount for expenses, commissions, and down payment.
So it will be a very long road for these homeowners to go from 200% LTV to 80% LTV. It also means that a lot of inventory will essentially be locked up for years to come, even a decade or longer.
Las Vegas Still the Negative Equity King
Despite being the home price leader in the nation over the past year, Las Vegas still leads in negative equity as well.
Kind of a symbolic way of summing up Sin City, where there are big winners alongside those down on their luck.
In the desert oasis, 48.4% of homeowners with mortgages remained underwater as of the end of the second quarter, down from 54.3% a quarter earlier. By the end of the second quarter in 2014, it should fall to a slightly healthier 41.3%.
The second worst metro in the U.S. was Atlanta, where the negative equity share dipped to 44% from 47.6% a quarter earlier.
Third was Disneyworld (I mean Orlando, Florida) with negative equity of 39.8%, down from 41.8% in the first quarter.
In these three hard-hit regions of the country, the “effective” negative equity rates were 66.9%, 61.3%, and 55.4% as of the end of the second quarter, respectively.
Nationwide, the “effective” rate is still 41.9%, meaning we’ve got a lot longer to go before the crisis abates.
If you peruse real estate listings on Realtor.com, you might come across a new Airbnb integration.
This week, the two companies announced a collaboration that lets homeowners see how much they could fetch to rent out a room, or the entire house.
It comes at a time when short-term rentals, or STRs for short, are somewhat under-fire given their immense growth.
The Airbnb story also happens to coincide with a residential housing shortage, with some critics blaming STRs on the lack of supply.
In any event, if you’re interested in seeing your Airbnb earnings estimates, you’ll need to add your property to Realtor’s My Home dashboard first.
How to Find Your Airbnb Host Estimate on Realtor.com
To get started, you’ll need to head over to the My Home dashboard on Realtor.com and add your property if you haven’t already.
This will also entail creating an account on Realtor.com if you don’t have one. It’s fairly simple and seems to only require an email and password.
From there, you’ll see a variety of information pertaining to the property added, including its RealEstimate, which is the site’s take on a Zestimate.
You’ll also see a tab titled “Host or rent,” which will contain your Airbnb host estimate. It provides both an entire home estimate and a room estimate.
A sample of the entire home estimate can be seen in the screenshot above. The single room estimate can be seen below.
It defaults to a 7 nights out of a month to give you a rough estimate of what you could earn via the Airbnb platform for renting it out for part of the month.
The estimates, which are provided by Airbnb, consider factors such as the zip code and bedroom count.
Airbnb reviews booking data over the past 12 months from the top 50% of similar listings (based on earnings) in the area where your home is located.
Then it computes nightly earnings, which are defined as the price set by each Airbnb Host minus the Airbnb Host service fee.
Note that Airbnb doesn’t subtract cleaning fees, taxes or other hosting expenses you might charge/incur when calculating the nightly estimate.
At the moment, these estimates are only available for U.S. addresses and do not factor in the number of guests a listing might accommodate.
And while they may strive to provide an accurate estimate, it’s just an estimate and no guarantee of what you’d actually earn.
Actual earnings can depend on a variety of factors, such as availability, listing price, and demand in the area.
Lastly, and here’s the biggie, the ability to host your property may also depend on local laws.
In other words, it may not actually be permitted to list your property as an STR in your city.
Is the Airbnbust Finally Upon Us?
There have been rumblings for a while now about a so-called “Airbnbust,” the premise being that too many first-time landlords purchased homes with the express purpose of making them STRs.
And now that there are so many of them, the hosts may encounter buyer’s remorse.
This could be due to unforeseen problems, a lack of experience being a host, complaints from neighbors, or simply that the earnings just aren’t there.
Throw in the fact that some hosts acquired multiple properties and these problems could be exponential.
Of course, some hosts might be raking in the dough, depending on how cheap they got in and how much demand their property has.
After all, many of these properties were purchased when 30-year fixed mortgage rates were 2-3%. And when home prices were half what they are now.
So even if competition rises, or they run into issues like unexpected refunds or cancellations on the platform, they may still do just fine.
But the real doomers out there think these STRs will be the first shoe to drop, setting off a panic and an eventual wider housing crash.
Critics on the other side say there aren’t enough of these properties to make a major impact, but in certain vacation areas there are larger concentrations.
Another issue is lack cities are beginning to ban STRs, with New York City being the latest to impose major restrictions.
This week, they launched new rules that only allow sub-30 day rentals if hosts register with the city.
And they “must commit to being physically present in the home for the duration of the rental, sharing living quarters with their guest.”
In other words, you can only rent out a room, like a traditional Bed and Breakfast, assuming it’s for less than a month.
And no more than two guests are allowed at a time, meaning larger families are effectively out of luck.
Obviously, sweeping changes like this could lead to a flood of sales if a long-term rental isn’t feasible (or simply as lucrative).
But it all remains to be seen. Many of those critical of Airbnb and other STR platforms such as VRBO, feel many of these properties could be going to families, instead of being rented out for a profit.
Especially first-time home buyers looking to lay down roots and start a family.
The STR gold rush may have also inadvertently sent home prices even further out of reach for the average person just looking to realize the American Dream.
Whoa, have you seen what just happened to interest rates!?
Suddenly, after at least fourteen years of our financial world being mostly the same, somebody flipped over the table and now things are quite different.
Interest rates, which have been gliding along at close to zero since before the Dawn of Mustachianism in 2011, have suddenly shot back up to 20-year highs.
Which brings up a few questions about whether we need to worry, or do anything about this new development.
Is the stock market (index funds, of course) still the right place for my money?
What if I want to buy a house?
What about my current house – should I hang onto it forever because of the solid-gold 3% mortgage I have locked in for the next 30 years?
Will interest rates keep going up?
And will they ever go back down?
These questions are on everybody’s mind these days, and I’ve been ruminating on them myself. But while I’ve seen a lot of play-by-play stories about each little interest rate increase in the financial newspapers, none of them seem to get into the important part, which is,
“Yeah, interest rates are way up, butwhat should I do about it?”
So let’s talk about strategy.
Why Is This Happening, and What Got Us Here?
Interest rates are like a giant gas pedal that revs the engine of our economy, with the polished black dress shoe of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell pressed upon it.
For most of the past two decades, Jerome’s team and their predecessors have kept the pedal to the metal, firing a highly combustible stream of easy money into the system in the form of near-zero rates. This made mortgages more affordable, so everyone stretched to buy houses, which drove demand for new construction.
It also had a similar effect on business investment: borrowed money and venture capital was cheap, so lots of entrepreneurs borrowed lots of money and started new companies. These companies then rented offices and built factories and hired employees – who circled back to buy more houses, cars, fridges, iPhones, and all the other luxurious amenities of modern life.
This was a great party and it led to lots of good things, because we had two decades of prosperity, growth, raising our children, inventing new things and all the other good things that happen in a successful rich country economy.
Until it went too far and we ended up with too much money chasing too few goods – especially houses. That led to a trend of unacceptably fast Inflation, which we already covered in a recent article.
So eventually, Jay-P noticed this and eased his foot back off of the Easy Money Gas Pedal. And of course when interest rates get jacked up, almost everything else in the economy slows down.
And that’s what is happening right now: mortgages are suddenly way more expensive, so people are putting off their plans to buy houses. Companies find that borrowing money is costly, so they are scaling back their plans to build new factories, and cutting back on their hiring. Facebook laid off 10,000 people and Amazon shed 27,000.
We even had a miniature banking crisis where some significant mid-sized banks folded and gave the financial world fears that a much bigger set of dominoes would fall.
All of these things sound kinda bad, and if you make the mistake of checking the news, you’ll see there is a big dumb battle raging as usual on every media outlet. Leftists, Right-wingers, and anarchists all have a different take on it:
It’s the President’s fault for printing all that money and running up the debt! We should have Fiscal Discipline!
No, it’s the opposite! The Fed is ruining the economy with all these rate rises, we need to drop them back down because our poor middle class is suffering!
What are you two sheeple talking about? The whole system is a bunch of corrupt cronies and we shouldn’t even have a central bank. All hail the true world currency of Bitcoin!!!
The one thing all sides seem to agree on is that we are “experiencing hard economic times” and that “the country is headed in the wrong way”.
Which, ironically, is completely wrong as well – our unemployment rate has dropped to 50-year lows and the economy is at the absolute best it has ever been, a surprise to even the most grounded economists.
The reality? We’re just putting the lid back onto the ice cream carton until the economy can digest all the sugar it just wolfed down. This is normal, it happens every decade or two and it’s no big deal.
Okay, but should I take my money out of the stock market because it’s going to crash?
This answer never changes, so you’ll see it every time we talk about stock investing: Holy Shit NO!!!
The stock market always goes up in the long run, although with plenty of unpredictable bumps along the way. Since you can’t predict those bumps until after they happen, there is no point in trying to dance in and out of it.
But since we do have the benefit of hindsight, there are a few things that have changed slightly: From its peak at the beginning of 2022 until right now (August 2023 as I write this), the overall US market is down about 10%. Or to view it another way, it is roughly flat since June 2021, so we’ve seen two years with no gains aside from total dividends of about 3%.
Since the future is always the same, unknowable thing, this means I am about 10% more excited about buying my monthly slice of index funds today than it was at the peak.
Should I start putting money into savings accounts instead because they are paying 4.5%?
This is a slightly trickier question, because in theory we should invest in a logical, unbiased way into the thing with the highest expected return over time.
When interest rates were under 1%, this was an easy decision: stocks will always return far more than 1% over time – consider the fact that the annual dividend payments alone are 1.5%!
But there has to be some interest rate at which you’d be willing to stop buying stocks and prefer to just stash it into the stable, rewarding environment of a money market fund or long-term bonds or something else similar. Right now, if a reputable bank offered me, say, 12% I would probably just start loading up.
But remember that the stock market is also currently running a 10% off sale. When the market eventually reawakens and starts setting new highs (which it will someday), any shares I buy right now will be worth 10% more. And then will continue going up from there. Which quickly becomes an even bigger number than 12%.
In other words, the cheaper the stocks get, the more excited we should be about buying them rather than chasing high interest rates.
As you can see, there is no easy answer here, but I have taken a middle ground:
I’m holding onto all the stocks I already own, of course
BUT since I currently have an outstanding margin loan balance for a house I helped to buy with several friends (yes this is #3 in the last few years!), I am paying over 6% on that balance. So I am directing all new income towards paying down that balance for now, just for peace of mind and because 6% is a reasonable guaranteed return.
Technically, I know I would probably make a bit more if I let the balance just stay outstanding, kept putting more money into index funds, and paid the interest forever, but this feels like a nice compromise to me
What if I want to Buy a House?
For most of us, the biggest thing that interest rates affect is our decisions around buying and selling houses. Financing a home with a mortgage is suddenly way more expensive, any potential rental house investments are suddenly far less profitable, and keeping our old house with a locked-in 3% mortgage is suddenly far more tempting.
Consider these shocking changes just over the past two years as typical rates have gone from about 3% to 7.5%.
Assuming a buyer comes up with the average 10% down payment:
The monthly mortgage payment on a $400k house has gone from about $1500 at the beginning of 2022 last year to roughly $2500 today. Even scarier, the interest portion of that monthly bill has more than doubled, from $900 to $2250!
For a home buyer with a monthly mortgage budget of $2000, their old maximum house price was about $500,000. With today’s interest rates however, that figure has dropped to about $325,000
Similarly, as a landlord in 2022 you might have been willing to pay $500k for a duplex which brought in $4000 per month of gross rent. Today, you’d need to get that same property for $325,000 to have a similar net cash flow (or try to rent each unit for a $500 more per month) because the interest cost is so much higher.
And finally, if you’re already living in a $400k house with a 3% mortgage locked in, you are effectively being subsidized to the tune of $1000 per month by that good fortune. In other words, you now have a $12,000 per year disincentive to ever sell that house if you’ll need to borrow money to buy a new one. And you have a potential goldmine rental property, because your carrying costs remain low while rents keep going up.
This all sounds kind of bleak, but unfortunately it’s the way things are supposed to work – the tough medicine of higher interest rates is supposed to make the following things happen:
House buyers will end up placing lower bids which fit within their budgets.
Landlords will have to be more discerning about which properties to buy up as rentals, lowering their own bids as well.
Meanwhile, the current still-sky-high prices of housing should continue to entice more builders to create new homes and redevelop and upgrade old buildings and underused land, because high prices mean good profits. Then they’ll have to compete for a thinner supply of home buyers.
The net effect of all this is that prices should stop going up, and ideally fall back down in many areas.
When Will House Prices Go Back Down?
This is a tricky one because the real “value” of a house depends entirely on supply and demand. The right price is whatever you can sell it for. However, there are a few fundamentals which influence this price over the long run because they determine the supply of housing.
The actual cost of building a house (materials plus labor), which tends to just stay pretty flat – it might not even keep up with inflation.
The value of the underlying land, which should also follow inflation on average, although with hot and cold spots depending on which cities are popular at the time.
The amount of bullshit which residents and their city councils impose upon house builders, preventing them from producing the new housing that people want to buy.
The first item (construction cost) is pretty interesting because it is subject to the magic of technological progress. Just as TVs and computers get cheaper over time, house components get cheaper too as things like computerized manufacturing and global trade make us more efficient. I remember paying $600 for a fancy-at-the-time undermount sink and $400 for a faucet for my first kitchen remodel in the year 2001. Today, you can get a nicer sink on Amazon for about $250 and the faucet is a flat hundred. Similarly, nailguns and cordless tools and easy-to-install PEX plumbing make the process of building faster and easier than ever.
On the other hand, the last item (bullshit restrictions) has been very inflationary in recent times. I’ve noticed that every year another layer of red tape and complicated codes and onerous zoning and approval processes gets layered into the local book of rules, and as a result I just gave up on building new houses because it wasn’t worth the hassle. Other builders with more patience will continue to plow through the murk, but they will have less competition, fewer permits will be granted, and thus the shortage of housing will continue to grow, which raises prices on average.
Thankfully, every city is different and some have chosen to make it easier to build new houses rather than more difficult. Even better, places like Tempe Arizona are allowing good housing to be built around people rather than cars, which is even more affordable to construct.
But overall, since overall US house prices adjusted for inflation are just about at an all-time high, I think there’s a chance that they might ease back down another 25% (to 2020 levels). But who knows: my guess could prove totally wrong, or the “fall” could just come in the form of flat prices for a decade that don’t keep up with inflation, meaning that they just feel 25% cheaper relative to our higher future salaries.
When Will Interest Rates Go Back Down?
The funny part about our current “high” interest rates is that they are not actually high at all. They’re right around average.So they might not go down at all for a long time.
Remember that graph at the beginning of this article? I deliberately cropped it to show only the years since 2009 – the long recent period of low interest rates. But if you zoom out to cover the last seventy years instead, you can see that we’re still in a very normal range.
But a better answer is this one: Interest rates will go down whenever Jerome Powell or one of his successors determines that our economy is slowing down too much and needs another hit from the gas pedal. In other words, whenever we start to slip into a genuine recession.
In order to do that however, we need to see low inflation, growing unemployment, and other signs of an economy that’s not too hot. And right now, those things keep not showing up in the weekly economic data.
You can get one reasonable prediction of the future of interest rates by looking at something called the US Treasury Yield Curve. It typically looks like this:
What the graph is telling you is that as a lender you get a bigger reward in exchange for locking up your money for a longer time period. And way back in 2018, the people who make these loans expected that interest rates would average about 3.0 percent over the next 30 years.
Today, we have a very strange opposite yield curve:
If you want to lend money for a year or less, you’ll be rewarded with a juicy 5.4 percent interest rate. But for two years, the rate drops to 4.92%. And then ten-year bond pays only 4.05 percent.
This situation is weird, and it’s called an inverted yield curve. And what it means is that the buyers of bonds currently believe that interest rates will almost certainly drop in the future – starting a little over a year from now.
And if you recall our earlier discussion about why interest rates drop, this means that investors are forecasting an economic slowdown in the fairly near future. And their intuition in this department has been pretty good: an inverted yield curve like this has only happened 11 times in the past 75 years, and in ten of those cases it accurately predicted a recession.
So the short answer is: nobody really knows, but we’ll probably see interest rates start to drop within 18-24 months, and the event may be accompanied by some sort of recession as well.
The Ultimate Interest Rate Strategy Hack
I like to read and write about all this stuff because I’m still a finance nerd at heart. But when it comes down to it, interest rates don’t really affect long-retired people like many of us MMM readers, because we are mostly done with borrowing. I like the simplicity of owning just one house and one car, mortgage-free.
With the current overheated housing market here in Colorado, I’m not tempted to even look at other properties, but someday that may change. And the great thing about having actual savings rather than just a high income that lets you qualify for a loan, is that you can be ready to pounce on a good deal on short notice.
Maybe the entire housing market will go on sale as we saw in the early 2010s, or perhaps just one perfect property in the mountains will come up at the right time. The point is that when you have enough cash to buy the thing you want, the interest rates that other people are charging don’t matter. It’s a nice position of strength instead of stress. And you can still decide to take out a mortgage if you do find the rates are worthwhile for your own goals.
So to tie a bow on this whole lesson: keep your lifestyle lean and happy and don’t lose too much sweat over today’s interest rates or house prices. They will probably both come down over time, but those things aren’t in your control. Much more important are your own choices about earning, saving, healthy living and where you choose to live.
With these big sails of your life properly in place and pulling you ahead, the smaller issues of interest rates and whatever else they write about in the financial news will gradually shrink down to become just ripples on the surface of the lake.
In the comments:what have you been thinking about interest rates recently? Have they changed your decisions, increased, or perhaps even decreased your stress levels around money and housing?
* Photo credit: Mr. Money Mustache, and Rustoleum Ultra Cover semi gloss black spraypaint. I originally polled some local friends to see if anyone owned dress shoes and a suit so I could get this picture, with no luck. So I painted up my old semi-dressy shoes and found some clean-ish black socks and pants and vacuumed out my car a bit before taking this picture. I’m kinda proud of the results and it saved me from hiring Jerome Powell himself for the shoot.
I’ve written about the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) on this blog many, many times.
Most of the posts have focused on possible extensions and expansions for the popular program, which like any other assistance program has a number of restrictions.
Perhaps the most significant one is that only those with loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are eligible to take part.
As a result, those with private-label mortgages are out of luck, or at least have to turn to their own loan servicers for possible assistance.
Another major roadblock is the HARP cutoff date, which is currently set firmly on May 31, 2009, despite many pleas to push it out another year.
Those have thus far fallen on deaf ears, ostensibly because borrowers who purchased homes or refinanced after the mortgage crisis aren’t the targets of relief efforts, whether “fair” or not.
New HARP Cutoff Date, Kind Of
Anyway, the hitch with the current cutoff date is that it isn’t based on when the loan actually closed, but rather when Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac acquired the original loan.
So borrowers may have closed their loan on May 30th, 2009, but their loan didn’t make its way over to one of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) until after that crucial cutoff date.
This time lag, which could vary from a few days to a few weeks or longer, could have unintentionally shut out a lot of borrowers. It’s unclear how many, but it could be material.
And so Fannie and Freddie are revising their policies to use the note date of the mortgage as opposed to the securitization date.
Freddie Mac said it would make the change effective October 27, 2013 in order to make its “eligibility requirements more transparent to borrowers.”
By more transparent, they mean you probably know when your loan closed, but have no idea if and when it was sold off to Freddie Mac.
In accordance with this change, the Freddie Mac Loan Look-Up Tool will be updated by October 27.
Over at Fannie Mae, it’s a similar story, though there are a few unique details to take note of.
Come November 16, when they make their other major underwriting changes, including the new minimum 5% down payment, the May 31, 2009 eligibility date for the Refi Plus will be based on the note date of the original loan.
Again, they are opting for the note date in a bid to be more transparent. And they’re encouraging lenders to resubmit loans that might be eligible based on the rule change.
So it’s not HARP 3 by any means, or HARP 2.5, but it is a slightly better HARP, no? That’s why I’m referring to it as HARP 2.1.
It’s a little boost that comes at exactly the right time, seeing that long-term fixed mortgage rates are inching back toward the 3% range again, something many thought wouldn’t happen again.
If you think you might be on the cusp, speak to a lender soon to see if you’re eligible based on the new guidelines.