Free Money Newsletter June 2015

June: soon a goodbye to spring and then hello summer! Lots of excitement in the sports world: NHL Finals, baseball in full gear and NBA Finals coming right up.

Will it be Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, who haven’t been to the finals in 40 years?! With players who have never been? Or the Cleveland Cavaliers with star LeBron James? LeBron makes his fifth straight appearance in the NBA finals so he knows what’s up!

But don’t underestimate Warriors Coach Steve Kerr and his team. Kerr is a first time coach but a previous NBA player with five championships. He is brilliant himself and has surrounded himself with smart, experienced, motivated assistant coaches with very different skill sets. And he knows how to teach his team the importance of focus.

That’s what we’re about this month: a focus on you and your home: how to get one, keep one and/or repair one. No one is just going to hand you money to make it happen, but with focus and effort in the right places you can overcome the odds and find the help you need.

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Free Money Highlights

Buy a House

Think it’s an impossible dream? It really, really isn’t! Whether you are a first time homebuyer or are looking to buy a better house there are amazing programs out there to help you.

Often the biggest stumbling block is finding a way to come up with the required down payment. A couple things have changed where that issue is concerned: (1) there are new loans with little (or even no!) down payment required and (2) there are groups whose mission it is to help you make that down payment!

In fact right now we know of at least one mortgage provider who requires zero down. If you or your spouse is or has been in the military you should definitely look into a zeros-down loan from the Navy Federal Credit Union. If you have no military service, there are mortgages available from the FHA with just 3.5% down. Other lenders are offering a requirement of just 3% down along with private mortgage insurance (which goes away once your balance is less than 80% of the house value.

Learn about more options as well as how to find organizations that will help make your down payment in Grants for First Time Homebuyers and Grants to Purchase a Home!

Keep Your House

If it’s tough to make your mortgage payments and your mortgage balance is higher than the value of your home, you may feel like you’re out of options. But don’t give up just yet! There’s still some time left to take advantage of the best deal that’s been out there for a while.

Advertisers are harping on HARP, so you may have tuned them out — especially if you’ve applied and been turned down before. But for a little while longer you can take advantage of much looser requirements for HARP eligibility. There’s no longer a limit to how “under water” you can be and you don’t usually even need to get an appraisal on your home. Sounds too good to be true but it’s a reality so don’t be afraid to talk to your bank about it. The catch is that it goes away later this year so don’t waste any time! Get some more info and tips about Assistance for HARP Eligibility.

Repair Your House

If you need some serious repairs but can’t afford them you have an amazing amount of company! We get constant inquiries from people who are desperate to fix roofs, leaks, foundations and more but are already finding it hard to get by on limited incomes. The sheer volume of the need seems to have attracted some attention because there are more options than ever available to help you. It can certainly be confusing though trying to find them. Our review of Grants for Home Repair has been a big help to many in terms of understanding what grants are and where they might find them. In addition, there are loans and programs offered by private organizations and by government at the federal, state and local levels. And at the local level there are special programs for emergency repairs that threaten health or safety, especially for seniors or families with children.

How to find them? Our newest feature is all about Home Repair Help and we would suggest you start there to find the money you need for repairs. In addition to grants there are some very attractive loans available that make this a good time to act. After all, it’s in the lender’s interest as well as yours if you can do something that will increase the value of your home.

A Warning

As the weather warms up the incidence of home repair fraud cases rises as well. Often targeting seniors, dishonest folks pose as repairmen and collect money for work that never gets done. Regardless of how urgent your repair need, don’t let yourself get talked into making a decision quickly — that’s one of the first signs that the person selling you is not on the up and up. Watch out for the following additional signs, listed by the National Association of Bunco Investigators:

  • person has no business card or id and no local contact information;
  • an unmarked van or truck or one with a license from another state, or an out of state driver's license;
  • a hurried sales pitch requiring you to act right away to get a special deal;
  • a requirement that you pay in cash, usually up front (i.e. before the work is done);
  • no availability of a contract or estimate in writing;
  • a “too good to be true” offer (always watch out for that - except regarding HARP!)
  • no evidence that the contractor has a license, permit, insurance or that he or she is bonded.

So be on your toes. Don’t let someone take advantage of you because of your situation, but be sure that you take advantage of the opportunities available to you!

Remember, focus and you’ll increase your odds of getting it done…

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