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What is the best credit score?

December 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Everyone dreaming of having a good credit score. But what is a good credit score? Before we get to that, here are few things that you need to know about your credit score. When we talk about credit score we are talking about the FICO score not your credit report. Also, you have three scores each coming from three main credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. There may be a slight difference of scores you get from each one. The highest score one can get is 850 and the lowest is 300.

It may be impossible to get a perfect 850. Having a higher score may help in many ways if you are in the market for a mortgage loan or a new credit card. Those who are looking at your credit score, look at a range of scores. You may be able to qualify for a FHA loan with a 500 credit score. If you have a score of 620 your chances of getting a FHA loan goes to 97 percent. Many believe that having a score above 760 can help you in many ways including better interest rate. The average score for 25 to 34 years of age group is 628 and 55 and above is 697.

What First-Time Home Buyers Learn By Themselves

November 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Statistics show that people are waiting until later in life to get married, and that puts marriage and home buying right alongside each other. Most people tend to find stable careers later in life, and thirties seem to be the new norm for starting a family. The flip side is that there is a lot of growing up to do in a very short time span.

There are things first-time home-buyers easily get misled by, for instance, like the prevalence of pre-payment penalties (they exist, but brokers disclose this and you can ask about it). Another thing first timers learn on the fly is that cash buyers can quickly ruin the home of one’s dreams with a single phone call.

There are a ton of first-time home buying blues you can get if you let yourself get bogged down. It’s a process, and not always a pretty one. The important thing to keep in mind is that you will eventually find a beautiful home to improve and love as your own.

Foreclosures Are Not Always Deals

The media conditions us to associate foreclosures with deals, and that’s not always the case. In fact, most of the time a foreclosure means “trash heap.” There are certainly foreclosures offered far below market value, that happen to have the benefit of being in a good area. However, you have to be aware of all potential variables that could raise flags. Inspections are a must when purchasing a foreclosure, and not every deal allows for that, or grants enough time for something thorough and convenient. Investors purchase foreclosures on hard data, but individuals have little more than their personal experience and their eyes to judge. If the property is up to your standards, it’s worth considering. Just be aware that there a host of issues that could go wrong that you and your inspector may not notice. Things like electrical or plumbing issues might crop up only after the house is lived in.

By all means, look at foreclosures and be aware of the potential for the market. Just be open to the idea that not everything is a positive. You may find that saving for a higher down payment and moving to a nicer area are better ideas.

Pre-Approval is a Must

One of the best things you can do for your prospects is to pre-qualify for a loan by talking a broker and submitting some paperwork. Real estate transactions are all about speed. The faster you are prepared to move on a deal, the more likely that deal is to happen for you. Pre-approval is especially useful when you need to relocate, as your broker’s approval will extend to just about anywhere you move. In some cases, agents will advise you not to hunt for properties until you have pre-approval, just because it makes the process harder.

However, pre-approval comes with a few bullet points you need to be aware of. It’s not a guarantee of a loan at a certain rate, it’s just the bank saying that your documents seem to be ok at a cursory glance. Pre-qualifying may also mean that you don’t pre-qualify for the loan you thought you did. Typically, pre-qualifications are done before a credit check occurs.

Talk to your bank about getting pre-qualified and pre-approved for a loan. Starting the process now will be better for you in the long run.

Negotiate over Fixing Costs

Any home that you move into is going to have something that you’ll want to change to meet your tastes as the home owner. DIY is a great option for most projects around the house, but that doesn’t count fixes that need to be done prior to moving in. When your inspection is performed, the inspector will present a list of items he believes are in need of repair. Some common examples are things like electrical outlets or air ducts in a central air system. Most of these fixes are relatively inexpensive, but you should not have to pay for these as the new owner because they were not caused by you. When it comes time to negotiate on things like cost of the house, or costs to close, you can get a bit of wiggle room if you make a few phone calls to contractors and ask about pricing.

Also, don’t forget to check every outlet and every sink. Six months after your move-in date is the wrong time to discover you have a leaky faucet or pipe in the wall.

Acquire a Trustworthy Agent

A good real estate agent is someone who guides you through the process, and helps you to understand more about the investment you’re making. They will do their best to review your property suggestions, and make a few of their own. They should be knowledgeable in loans, but don’t expect too many specifics from them on that regard. What they will know is the area. They will help you find resources related to schools in the area, as well as fun things to do and a bit of history about the region. Behind the scenes, they also handle your negotiating for you. You give the agent an idea of what you want, and they help to communicate that between you and the seller. A trustworthy agent is someone advocating for you throughout the sales process. It’s not about commission, it’s about service.

The agent is paid at closing, so you shouldn’t have to pay upfront to see a home. Sellers will sometimes pay agents to market their home in other ways, but most of the money they make comes from the sale of the home itself.


A first time home buyer has a lot to worry about. It can be difficult to deal with the financial reality of buying a home while you’re trying to browse for something that meets what you want out of life. The two sometimes cloud each other, and can obfuscate what you really want. The important thing is to go with your gut, read documents carefully, and communicate openly with your agent and your spouse.


Bio: Realty ONE Group is owned and operated by Kuba Jewgieniew, a former stock broker with experience in data-driven sales. Realty ONE Group is a lifestyle brand that manages Realty ONE Group Cares, a charity foundation that strives to better the communities served by Realty ONE Group and its agents.

Yes, there are options for credit cards

November 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Avoiding credit card use is hard to do. One big reason to avoid them is the interest rate. The interest rate on your credit card depends on many factors, but many of us are subject to hefty rates closer to 20 percent. But, if you are trying to kick the habit, here are some options for you.

  • Use other methods such as prepaid charge cards. They work like credit cards but the money comes out of funds you already put in. When money runs out, you can add more to it.
  • Use charge cards that bill you every month and the balance due at the end of each month. This force you to charge only manageable amount to the card that you can pay off every month. Your charges are gets reported to the credit bureaus and they add to building a credit history for you.
  • If you are using a credit card to build a credit history, consider other types of loans for the same purpose. These lines of credit get reported to credit bureaus and you may be able to get a lower interest rate than a credit card. Many of these lines of credit can run for years.

What affects your credit rating?

October 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

We all know that credit cards generally affect your credit score which is measured as FICO. But do you know to what extent your credit cards affect your credit rating?

  • Without a credit card, it may be difficult to start a credit history. But having a credit card could lead to multiple cards sooner than you think. Having multiple cards may produce the same result of having a credit card when it comes to establishing a credit history.
  • Having a credit card is also needed to establish a credit rating. Without a credit rating, you may not be able to buy a home or purchase that LCD LED flat-screen TV that you always wanted.
  • Many financial institutions, especially banks, consider you as a risk if you have multiple credit cards even if they carry zero balance.
  • Carrying a balance on each of your credit card may help your rating rather than having no balance. Companies love to collect interest from you for extending credit to you. What is the healthy balance to carry on each credit card? Many thinks it should be around halfway mark of your credit limit. But you may want to pay off your balance on store credit cards as soon as possible.
    • Restoring lost points on your FICO Score

      September 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

      Many simply fail to pay a bill on time and some completely forget that they have a small balance on their credit card and similar revolving account to settle. Sometimes if the amount is small, the creditor may forgo the balance and send you a cancellation notice of the credit line. This can affect your FICO Score and you may see it go down closer to 100 points. Many wonder whether there is a way to get it back. Some have tried with the creditor but were unable to reestablish the credit line or to restore FICO Score.

      There are few simple things you can do to avoid such disasters in the future. You can setup automatic payments for credit cards and other lines of credit with your bank. If you don’t trust the system, write payment due dates on a monthly calendar and make payments on time. If you can limit the use of your credit card limit to about 30 percent and use your credit cards more often, it will help you to improve your FICO Score. Other bills such as unpaid medical bills can be forwarded for collection and if it happens it can affect your credit score. Make sure to pay them on time.

      Don’t repeat these mistakes

      August 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

      Don’t repeat these mistakes that others have done. Whether it is an impulse buying decision or calculated and much thought out decision to buy a home, we all make mistakes that we later regret. They can impact your financial health and haunt you for years.

      Not clearly understanding your credit profile is one of the biggest mistakes we all make. The biggest item in your credit is your credit score that is called FICO score. What is considered as higher credit score could result in lower interest rate on your new mortgage or a credit card. If you are in the market for a home loan or to get a new credit card you need to master your credit before you contact a lender or card issuer. Each one looks for a different benchmark when they consider extending credit or approving a loan to you. Often time your credit report comes with your FICO score or you may have to obtain the report from one of three major credit bureaus. Experts advise that you should review your credit report more often for mistakes and promptly take action to correct them. If you are in the market for a FHA loan to buy a home, poor credit as well as lower credit score could result in paying for expensive mortgage insurance.

      One strategy that can help to get your credit score high

      July 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

      Here is a strategy that you can be employed to improve your FICO score. Pay your credit card balance in full and on time. You can do this by planning and timing your purchases on credit cards. This strategy may help you to delay your payments for 60 days without incurring any interest too.

      How do you do that? You need to time your purchases right after your billing cycle ends. For example, if your billing cycle end on 20th day of the month, charge any new purchases on the 21st day of the month. That billing cycle ends on the 20th day of the following month. This charge will appear on your next bill that comes due in another 30 days after you get your monthly statement giving you additional 30 days to pay. This strategy can especially work to your advantage if you are planning to buy large purchases.

      This is why it is so important to learn the habits of your credit card company as well as your terms of the card. If you follow their billing cycle, you should be able to easily identify the pattern and use it to your advantage.

      Avoid these factors that can affect your credit score

      June 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

      Three main credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, use different factors to calculate your credit (FICO) score. However, there is a common theme that can be identified. They include the following factors:

      On-time payment history: One of the criteria that can heavily influence your credit score. It is critical that you pay your bills on-time and one or more late payments on your credit history will negatively affect your credit score.

      Utilization of credit: This tells lenders whether you are dependent on credit or not. Try to keep the balance on your credit card around 20 percent of your total credit limit in order to get a higher score.

      Age of open credit lines: Creditors look at your open credit lines and how long they have been opened in order to determine your creditworthiness and come up with a credit score.

      Adverse (derogatory) comments: They could come from various sources. Bankruptcy, tax liens, foreclosures, judgments against you and your properties and accounts in collection negatively affect your credit score.

      Number of open credit lines and inquiries: Your credit lines including credit cards, auto loans, other loans and mortgage and they can influence your score. Hard inquiries made by financial institutions also increase suspicion and may affect your score.

      The History of Groupon

      May 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

      This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

      Groupon is a daily-deal website that has been both universally praised and scorned for its dealings. The idea began in 2006, when Andrew Mason was attempting to get out of a cell phone contract. At the time, Mason was working on his venture “The Point.” He was headed toward failure and scrambling to cut costs and salvage what he could from the business.

      The goal of The Point was to help organizations build their fundraising process into something more efficient. This early form of Kickstarter outlined what the founders called “the Tipping Point,” or the amount of money it would take to actually get a plan off the ground. This helped to alleviate the issue of giving money to a cause that would not produce, and it also helped donators see that they were not alone during this process.

      Unfortunately, The Point couldn’t get to the point.

      It was on the heels of that failure that Mason noticed something crucial: the most successful campaigns gave the contributors buying power.

      So Mason combined the idea of the tipping point with group buying power to create Groupon. The site would feature incredible deals, but those deals would only kick in if there were a specified number of users who participated in it.

      Mason managed to grow the customer base aggressively by allowing consumers to sign up for a newsletter that broadcasted future events. The belief was that users would find a deal they wanted and be more active than those who were forced to check the site every day.

      However, since Groupon went public the company stock has been a disaster. The email list stopped being productive for the company since Google’s changes to Gmail, and it is currently struggling to turn a profit.

      Samuel Phineas Upham

      About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Twitter page.

      A Brief History of Airline Mergers

      May 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

      This article was written by Phineas Upham

      The past 15 years of American commercial aviation has been wrought with mergers. Reasons range from consolidation to fierce competition. Whatever the reason, these mergers have fundamentally altered the landscape of air travel for both businesses and consumers. Here are a few highlights of noteworthy mergers that have taken place.

      US Airways and American West

      The terrorist attacks on September 11th had put US air travel in a bind. People still needed to get from point A to point B, but there weren’t many vacationers in the air. US Airways had already been experiencing difficulty when the attacks hit, and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2002. It took two years for US Airways to find a buyer. They found American West, who pumped cash into the company and kept the branding.

      Delta and Northwest

      On the heels of a merger between Southwest and ATA, the merger of Delta and Northwest briefly created the world’s largest airline. It took a full two years for integration of both companies to be complete, and by the end there was no more Northwest. Today, you can easily book a Delta flight to just about anywhere in the world.

      Continental and United

      Mere months after Delta became the world’s largest airline, Continental announced it would merge with United Airlines. The deal took months to close and the airline took the United name, creating the largest airline in passenger traffic by 2011.

      Phineas Upham

      About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Twitter page.

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