Posts Tagged ‘credit reports’

house on a hill with a tree

Have you been thinking about buying your own home? It’s the American dream, right? Well, if you are not prepared, that dream can become a nightmare. Buying a home may well be the single largest purchase you ever make, so ensure you are making informed decisions throughout the homebuying process. You may be asking yourself “what process?” It is not as simple as picking a home and moving in. There are things you can do before you ever begin looking for a house, and some of them can save you money in the long run. Here are 3 items that should be on your “to do” list prior to purchasing a home.

Identify your reasons for wanting to become a homebuyer, then examine the advantages and challenges.

Advantages may include:

  • A place of your own
  • Financial incentives
  • Scheduled savings
  • Stable housing costs
  • Increased value
  • Tax benefits

Challenges may include:

  • High cost of home ownership
  • Decreased mobility
  • Repair and maintenance
  • Possibility of foreclosure

Get your credit in shape.  Lenders use your credit score to determine your ability to make timely payments, manage credit limits and utilize different types of credit. The higher your score, the better chance you have at a lower interest rate, which can mean thousands of dollars over the course of your loan. Did you know you can receive a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion)?  Visit annualcreditreport.com to order a copy. If you notice a mistake, you should report the discrepancy to have it removed.

Determine your budget and then shop around. When determining your budget there are a few things to consider. In addition to the money that you borrow (principal), you will pay homeowner insurance, and taxes (escrow), and interest. These items are often added together to make up the total monthly payment. You should also budget for other household expenses such as utilities, homeowner association fees, and general upkeep and repairs. A good place to start is to calculate your debt to income (DTI) ratio. Your DTI is all your monthly debt payments divided by your gross (before taxes and other deductions) monthly income. A general rule of thumb is to keep DTI under 36% (this number can fluctuate). 

Once you have your budget, shopping homebuyer assistant programs can pay off. The Ohio Housing Finance Agency has programs available for first-time buyers, veterans, college graduates, and first responders just to name a few. These types of programs often help with down payments, closing costs, or other pre-closing expenses.

You may also want to consider getting pre-approved with a reputable lender. Being pre-approved means you qualify for a loan, tells sellers you are a serious buyer, and helps you better understand your housing budget.

The journey to homeownership can be exciting. It builds wealth, increases stability, and even produces health benefits. When you are ready, visit the Homebuyer Education page through The Ohio State University Extension website to learn more.

Written by: Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Butler County.

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Darke County.


“Homeownership Costs: PMI, Taxes, Insurance and Hoas.” My Home by Freddie Mac, https://myhome.freddiemac.com/owning/homeownership-costs.

Healthy Homes – Habitat for Humanity. http://www.rchfh.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Healthy-Homes.pdf.

“Homebuyer Education.” Homebuyer Education | Family and Consumer Sciences, https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/healthy-finances-0/homeownership/homebuyer-education.

“The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA): Home Page.” The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) | Home Page, https://ohiohome.org/.

“Your Credit Report and FICO® Score-All Free.” Experian, https://www.experian.com/.

“Credit Scores, Credit Reports & Credit Check.” PERSONAL, 25 Jan. 2022, https://www.transunion.com/.

“Equifax: Credit Bureau: Check Your Credit Report & Credit Score – United States – Evo Prod.” United States, https://www.equifax.com/.

“Home Page.” Annual Credit Report.com – Home Page, https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action.

“Common Questions from First Time Homebuyers.” HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), https://www.hud.gov/topics/common_questions.

Read Full Post »

COVID-19, social distancing and recent stay at home orders have impacted all aspects of life, including our finances. Protecting health has been a top priority in recent times.  We all need to be following guidelines and making our best efforts to stay physically and mentally healthy to prevent disease. Maintaining financial health during these times is also critically important. Financial wellness is an aspect of wellness that focuses on the successful management of finances. Improve your financial wellness today with these tips:

  • Create a budget. Take a close look at your spending and adjust your budget accordingly.  Saving wherever possible will help your budget in the future.
  • Establish an emergency fund. If you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. If you have money set aside for non-essential spending or travel, consider using these monies for emergencies instead. Any amount you can put aside to help support you and your household during an emergency will make an impact on your finances.
  • Pay down high-interest debt. If you have any high-interest debt (besides credit card debt) a personal loan or similar and your income has not yet decreased, consider paying off that debt now. The benefits of reducing debt are immense as this provides financial freedom.
  • Consider a balance transfer. Transferring any credit card balances to a 0% for 12-18 months is an option.  Look for no- or low-fee transfers and do your research on any new credit cards before committing. This will give you time to pay down the balance interest free which will free up more cash on hand for the unexpected and add to an emergency fund.
  • Look at your investments. Fight the urge to take a loss and withdraw all your money from the market. For mid-long-term time, it is important to stay the course.  No one can predict what will happen short term, yet over the long run, the economy and markets will come back.
  • Consider insurance options. Some insurance rates may have dropped offering discounted rates. Contact your insurance providers to see if you are eligible for a discount or lower rate. Compare rates with different providers.
  • Talk with your family about money. Discuss how market fluctuations are normal and be open about any negative impacts on your finances. Discuss ways you can save money as a family.
  • Get your credit reports.  AnnualCreditReport.com provides a yearly free credit report.  Read over your reports carefully for any suspicious activity.  If your reports reveal negative borrowing habits from your past, brainstorm ideas to correct them and improve your score.

Practicing financial wellness can have positive mental health benefits, including boosted self-confidence. Take charge of your finances today and be prepared for the future.

For free financial assistance, contact us at:  go.osu.edu/FinancialAssistance

Written by: Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County. lobb.3@osu.edu


Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/

Ohio Line, Ohio State University Extension. Preparing a Net Worth Statement. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5245

Ohio Line, Ohio State University Extension. Some Options for Resourceful Living. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5248


Read Full Post »