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Cheat Sheet Q & A:
Underwater in a high interest rate mortgage:
Because I maintain a high credit score, I qualified for the best mortgage rates available which at the time was a conventional loan. Low and behold, this is the one loan type not addressed by the HARP program. Although I put 15% down when I purchased (at the peak), I am possibly 100K under water. I am not going to fork out that sum on a loss to refi. At the time, I didn't think much of the mortgage insurance cost since all of my life, I have always worked my way out of it in less then 5 years. Not now. In the end, I sit on a 7.5% fixed, will pay mortgage insurance until the house falls apart and need to fork out possibly 100K to resolve the condition.
Bottom Line: Today’s question provides an important opportunity to point out the differences in the assistance programs that are available. Given the information provided this gentleman, and others in his situation, are eligible to refinance under HARP 2.0. While I have shared the message of HARP 2.0 since it’s introduction late in 2011, I understand that not everyone who may benefit from the program is aware of it’s potential benefits for them.
HARP 2.0 is the program that’s designed for homeowners who are underwater and have been diligent in making their mortgage payments. Here is an overview of eligibility for HARP 2.0:
For this gentleman’s situation he’s most likely eligible. He’s current on his payments. With an interest rate of 7.5% at the peak it certainly was originated before May 31st of 2009 and if it’s a conventional loan, it’s backed by Fannie or Freddie (virtually all conventional loans – those loans originated with a balance of $417,000 or less are backed by one of them).
Here is a direct link to eligibility: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/programs/lower-rates/Pages/harp.aspx
Now the beauty of HARP 2.0 is that you can shop your loan to any lender. It’s generally best to start with your existing mortgage company to see what they’ll offer to you under HARP 2.0 but otherwise you have the ability to refinance with any provider of mortgages who’s participating in HARP 2.0.
If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who’s the smartest? Billionaires,
Bottom Line: Many feel that the reason most wealthy and/or highly regarded people achieve a high level of success and status because of fortune rather than aptitude. Is that true though?
While there certainly are some that are in the right place at the right time, or those that had circumstances helped them, in many cases – they really just are that smart.
Research from Duke shows that many Billionaires,
Billionaires are the smartest group of people. A larger percentage of Billionaires rank in the top 1% of cognitive ability meaning that for these individuals; their financial success likely was the result of their use of brilliance that led to extraordinary wealth.
Next up – a tie. Federal Judges and
So by definition only 1% of the population is in the top 1%. That indicates that billionaires are 45 times more likely to be exceptional (and the others accordingly). Maybe if we can raise the numbers for those in Congress above 50%...
For safe search not all search engines are created equal:
Bottom Line: German research firm AV-Test put the search results of the largest search providers to the test. The result? There are big differences between top and bottom search providers.
When you search you don’t want to have to worry about the sites offered to you under your search being compromised. While some anti-virus software companies will alert you to compromised sites in search results, not all will, and you still want viable results regardless. So the results…
Google was the best of the major search engines for screening out malicious sites. The worst was Bing. Bing provides 500% more malicious results in search than Google does.
Goldman Sachs says stocks will continue to rise through 2015:
Bottom Line: Despite the stock market continuing upward setting new highs in the process we’re generally a bit skeptical and even nervous with regard to the stock market and it’s near term prospects. It’s a reasonable concern given the lack luster economy, high unemployment, and sovereign debt issues of so many countries. If you’re looking for a reason to stay invested or add new money to the market. This is for you.
The most prestigious Wall Street investment bank, Goldman Sachs, has released its latest stock market projection report through 2015. Goldman suggests that the S&P 500 will be valued 20% higher by the end of 2015 than today.
Low money down mortgages are heating up in popularity:
Bottom Line: One of the welcomed changes for many in the mortgage industry has come in the form of easier lending standards. In the aftermath of the mortgage crisis we saw a dramatic pendulum swing on mortgage lending standards. We went from the absurdity of the no documentation, negative am, 120% loan products to required credit of 720 and 20%+ needed to obtain a loan from a traditional bank. Now we’re seeing a balance.
Lending standards have been loosened as banks as these positives have occurred:
All major banks and most smaller banks now offer mortgages with 10% or less down. Many are taking advantage of the lower requirement. Two years ago only 1% of mortgages being originated were with 10% or less down (most were FHA with only 3.5% required). Fast forward to the first quarter of 2013 and 20% of all new mortgages are being financed with 10% or less down.
While we don’t have the breakouts yet, this should also be an indication of increased 1st time home buyers which would also be a positive for the housing market.
ID theft on the rise – especially with credit cards and children but who’s the criminal?:
Bottom Line: We have new ID theft information from the ITAC (Identity Theft Assistance) firm indicating just have severe the theft of child ID’s has become. 2.5% of all minors have now had their ID stolen. We already know how difficult it is for young adults entering the real world. Now many face their ID’s being comprosmised as well. What’s worse is where its coming from.
70% of all child ID theft is coming from insiders. Family and friends of the child or family account for 70% of the theft… How sad is that? Literally selling out our kids. It’s important to inform our children about the threats that may exist with their friends. Don’t have any suggestions for the parents…
Big changes with Verizon service plans that start today:
Bottom line: In today’s technology driven world you may feel as though your smart phone is dated six months after you bought it. Many look towards their penalty free upgrade cycle as the moment that they’ll obtain a new device. For Verizon customers, that timeline has been a 20 months after a new two year contract. Verizon had that policy so that you’d lock into a new two year contract before the expiration of your existing contract. Well no more.
Starting today all new customers and those who renew will have to wait the full 24 months before they can upgrade to a new phone fee free.