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Staying at home doesn’t mean your search for a new place needs to come to a standstill. 

Check out these tips on how to explore other neighborhoods virtually in the homebuying process. You may find a spot that better suits your needs without ever leaving your living room!

 

#1 - Check out neighborhood publications and local social media

An active neighborhood community will sometimes have a print publication or local social media groups that connect residents. These can provide information on local events and activities that will give you a better feel for the neighborhood. In addition, you can also browse Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for groups or accounts that document what's going on in the neighborhood where you're interested in moving. Try interacting with locals in the community who can give you their opinions of their locale.

#2 - Take a Walk with Google

Stroll around your potential new neighborhood without leaving the couch! It's easy. Google street view is a great way to view the street and neighborhood virtually. You can access Google Street View by clicking here. Each listing on realtor.com features a link to the Google Street view for that address as well. 

#3 - Browse Websites with Neighborhood Data

Gather as much information as you can on your next neighborhood. There are many websites that can help you! City-Data provides detailed city profiles about everything from cost of living to weather to average home prices. Plug in your ZIP code to AreaVibes to get a livability score. This will he you narrow down the best places to live. Yelp provides not only reviews on local cafes, restaurants, and nightlife, but also unfiltered reviews from local residents.

#4 - Search other Real Estate Listings 

If you want to learn about the typical architectural styles and ages of home in a neighborhood, browse online listings on sites like realtor.com. 

#5 - Call a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can help by using technology to test-drive the neighborhood for you. Once you've found a home you're interested in, get in touch with your agent for more information on the neighborhood. They will have a insider's perspective on the area and knowledge on home there too. 

#6 - Investigate Schools & Educational Data 

Areas with good schools typically maintain property values, and its neighborhoods are high coveted. 

#7 - Check Crime Rates

Safety is a priority for both buyers and renters, and crime rates can give you a picture of how safe or dangerous a neighborhood is. Low crime rates are not only safer but can also help keep property values high.

8- Plan Daily Commute

Get a feel for the neighborhood by monitoring traffic and your work commute. You can use tools like Waze or Google Maps which will help predict the level of traffic during your commute hours. 

 

A real estate professional can help you with all of the additional steps along the way, so you’re ready to make your next move. Be sure to get in touch with Greenway Mortgage for all your home financing needs.

 


 
It's common belief that when you make your mortgage payment to a bank or other large mortgage servicing company, they are the ones earning the interest you pay each month. While this would seem like simple common sense, it's actually much more involved, and the truth may surprise you.
 
Follow the steps to see where your payment may really end up.
 
First, you pay your loan servicer.

Next, your servicer takes a small fee for the administration of your loan and escrow account, then sends your payment off to Fannie, Freddie, Ginnie Mae, or other large aggregators of loans.

These agencies have pooled your loan with others to create Mortgage Backed Securities. They send your payment and others off as interest to the investors that bought that security.

These investors are usually large pension or mutual funds. The interest earned goes into those funds as earnings on the original purchase of the mortgage security.

Surprise. If you have any kind of pension or retirement account with investments in bonds and mutual funds, etc., you may very well be earning that interest yourself. Mortgage Backed Securities are a common part of balanced funds.
 
 
Do you have more questions about the home financing cycle? Reach out, and we'll be happy to help!
 
To help you find the most accurate information as it relates to your mortgage, personal finances, the home buying process, and more, visit our Incident Resource Center here. 
 

 

Your credit is one of the most important items when it comes to your financial health. Even in the best of the times, maintaining healthy credit can be an overwhelming task, let alone during the economic uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What can you do to protect your credit in the months to come? Keep reading to learn what you can do on your own to prepare.

 
Need Assistance? Find Out Who to Call:
First, figure out where you have accounts and what you owe. If you haven’t pulled your free credit report in a while, getting one now will give you a baseline for your accounts and balances. Where can you get a free credit report?  You can visit annaulcreditreport.com for a free credit report. They allow you to get one report from each of the three credit bureaus per year.
 
Don’t Worry About Your Credit Score
If you arrange for deferment or forbearance on your credit accounts, it’s extremely important you understand the terms of agreement, as each lender has their own policy. Make sure to ask a lot of questions such as:
  • How long will my arrangements last?
  • Can it be renewed?
  • Will interest continue to accrue on your account?
You can learn more about mortgage forbearance here.
 
Your credit score will not go down if you take any of the accommodations offered by your creditors. In March, the CARES act was passed, which stipulates that your credit history cannot be negatively affected by any coronavirus assistance programs your creditor or lender provides, provided your account was current before you asked for help. That means you can defer payments, make partial payments or modify a loan without seeing your score drop.
 
Also, any relief received either from a stimulus check or expanded unemployment benefits will not be reported to the credit bureaus.  Learn more about mortgage relief here.
 
What Steps Can I take To Avoid Falling into Debt During COVID-19?
 
Use Credit But Only If You Need To
There are some factors that could cause your credit score to drop. For instance, if you need to use credit to get by, a decrease shouldn’t be a surprise.  In addition, if you happen to pause payments on your accounts but still need to use credit to pay bills and buy essentials, your credit utilization ratio is likely to increase. In turn, this could lower your credit score.
 
Budgeting
Budgeting is helpful to keep credit card debt down, where possible. Take a look at how much you’re making and what you’re spending. Identify places where you may be able to trim usual costs. Come up with a plan to pay off debts after the pandemic is over. Eventually, your score will go back up. Remember, don’t overuse your credit; use it for things you need the most.
 
Call your Lenders/Creditors
Like we mentioned earlier, talk to your lenders and creditors to discuss any and all options. 
 
Pay What You Can
Ideally, you’ll pay your credit card bill in full every month. If credit cards aren’t paid in full every month, added interest payments can prolong debt. If you’re not able to pay in full, then aim to pay whatever you can, at least the minimum payment if possible. Not making a payment at all could further impact your credit standing.
 
Use Your Stimulus Check
For those qualify, you could use this check to pay your monthly payments, pay down your debt, or use the money to cover your day-t0-day essentials so you don’t need to use revolving credit accounts which increase the amount of debt you now.
 
Be Wary of Scams
Be alert when receiving strange phone calls, emails and text messages. If something doesn’t look right, don’t open it. If you receive a message regarding a financial account, it’s best not to click on any links or give out your personal information. Look on the back of your billing statement or card for a customer service number where you can call to ask about the message you received. They will be able to tell you if it was indeed legitimate and they will be able to provide more information.  
 
You can also help protect your identity by going to trusted sources for information. Experian has a list of coronavirus customer service links for financial institutions, and TransUnion offers a directory of additional services you may be looking for at this time. If you’re applying for unemployment, make sure you’re accessing the legitimate unemployment application for your state by going through benefits.gov, which has a state directory.
 
Falling victim to a scam can have long-term implications for your credit and can even result in identity theft. Learn more about the most common types of scams and what you can do to protect yourself here.
 
Bottom Line:
Ask for help if you need it, pay what you can, stay up-to-date on your credit reports, and watch out for scammers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
We understand the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty about the future. To help you find the most accurate information as it relates to your mortgage, personal finances, the home buying process, and more, visit our Incident Resource Center here. 
 

 
Let's set the record straight first—there's no such thing as "skipping" mortgage payments. 
 
The recently announced mortgage payment relief through the CARES Act provides mortgage forbearance for those who have lost a job or are suffering financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic and whose loan is federally owned or backed by a federal agency.
 
Reach out using the contact info on your loan statement to determine what help may be available to you. It’s vital that you discuss the options based on your situation. If assistance is available, be sure to get your agreement in writing.
 
Please Remember:
 
A forbearance is not a holiday. A forbearance allows you to pause or reduce your payments for a limited time. Deferred payments may be due in full at the end of the forbearance period. Sometimes, these payments may be stretched over a short time period or perhaps added to the end of your loan term.
 
If you have an escrow account, deferring payments will mean you will also have to make up the shortage as part of your repayment plan.
 
The CARES Act intends to prevent negative impacts to your credit if you undertake a forbearance for your government backed loan. However, changes to reporting between servicers and credit agencies may not occur seamlessly. If you do pursue a forbearance, you will need to monitor your credit report to catch and report any errors.
 
Think it through. A forbearance is not forgiveness. It does not eliminate payments; it only delays them. If you have emergency savings, available lines of credit or other means to pay, these may be better options to get you through these difficult times.
 
We cannot help you with forbearance arrangements directly, but we’re here for you if have questions or would like further guidance. Reach out if you need us. 888-616-9885.
 

For up-to-date information on the developing situation visit Greenway's Incident Resource Center. 

 


 

It's important to know the different mortgage relief options so you can make the best choice. Take a look at some of the options here:

Forbearance
This is the plan everyone is talking about since the passage of the CARES Act. It’s an agreement with your lender to reduce or delay regular payments for a set time. When the forbearance period ends, the postponed payments will be due all at once. Learn more about Forbearance here.
 
Modification 
This is a legal process that alters the terms of your loan. For instance, a modification could lower your monthly payments by lengthening your loan term.
 
Deferment
This is a plan that allows you to postpone your payments for a set time then pay them at the end of your regular loan term. “Deferments” and “forbearances” are often used interchangeably, but they are different. A deferment is more beneficial for many because it eliminates the need to make up multiple payments at the end of a short postponement period. Deferments are not available from all servicers.
 
Payment Assistance Program
This is an arrangement that allows you to make up your postponed payments at the end of a forbearance period by spreading the cost over a period of time. Payment Assistance Programs are not available from all servicers.
 
Cash Out Refi or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
If you still have enough income to qualify, accessing equity in your home by refinancing or obtaining a secured credit line may be a good option for lowering your payments, consolidating other debts, and/or creating a cash cushion. A refi will be especially beneficial if current rates are lower than those on your existing financing. Learn the difference between a HELOC and a Cash-Out Refi here.
 
If you want to discuss your options for a refinance or HELOC, please contact us directly.
 
To set up the other options listed here, please reach out using the contact information on your monthly loan statement. Document all calls and agreements, then check your monthly statements and credit reports to assure that changes are reported correctly.
 
We hope this helps you understand the available options. If you have questions, please reach out.
 
Helpful Resources:

 

 

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