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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. 
 
 

Please enjoy this quick update on what happened this week in the housing and financial markets.

 

A recent Reuters poll shows a majority of economists believe we will see a "U-shaped" economic recovery, in which the economy will stabilize a while before climbing to previous levels.

After the first round of paycheck protection funding disappeared quickly, Congress approved a new $484 billion relief package. It includes $310 billion for small businesses.

4.4 million workers joined the ranks of the unemployed last week, bringing total new jobless claims to 26.5 million in the last 5 weeks.

 

 

According to the FHFA, house price growth continued to accelerate through February, with the Housing Price Index posting a gain of 0.7%, which is a 5.7% increase year over year.

Existing home sales dropped 8.5% in March as sellers took properties off the market. Expectations for upcoming months' sales will be dictated by overall economic conditions.

New home sales also fell in March, as the coronavirus outbreak battered the economy. The 15.4% drop was the largest in more than 6 years.

 

College graduation is a huge accomplishment. It is also the first step of your adult life! That’s why it’s important to have good financial practices in place for a successful future.
 
To help kick start your future, here are 6 financial practices to start after college graduation.
 
#1 Build a Budget & Start Saving (NOW)
Create a budget for yourself that takes in account the following:
  • Your Savings Goals
  • Monthly Payments (rent, utilities, car payments, student loans, etc)
  • Weekly Spending (gas groceries, entertainment)
Tip: There are many mobile apps now-a-days that can help you get started with your budgeting goals.
 
Once you have a budget in place, you’ll have a good idea as to where your money is going and be able to build a realistic budget based on your needs. As a result, this will help you save money overtime!
 
#2 Keep Your Finances in Check
It’s important to set some time aside at least once a month to review your finances. By doing this, you’ll develop good money habits.
 
Tip: Set a reminder in your phone each month to review your finances
 
What should you review? Review your bank account and credit card statements to ensure your spending is in line with the budget you’ve set for yourself, along with any other accounts you save, spend and invest in. In addition, stay on top of your credit report to ensure your credit score isn’t being negatively affected by your financial habits. Click here to learn more about Credit Reports and Credit Scores.
 
#3 Prepare for Student Loan Payments
After graduating college, you usually have a grace period of 6 months in which you can prepare your finances before starting your student loan payments. If you prepare properly you won’t be surprised when it comes time to make your first payment.
 
Tip: Pay attention to the interest rate on your student loans. When you can afford to pay a little extra, you’ll save the most money by paying down the loan with the highest interest rate first. Set up automatic payments, too (sometimes you’ll get a discount by doing this). This is a great way to save money and build good credit.
 
#4 Have You Started Your Retirement Fund?
To sooner you start saving for your future retirement, the better! We promise! One of the most recommended ways to setting up a retirement fund is with a 401(K). This may be offered through your workplace or you can set up one as a personal account through your bank or a brokerage firm. Many workplaces offer 401(K) matching. This means that your employer contributes to your 401(K) up to a certain percentage or dollar amount. The best part… it’s essentially FREE money from your employer designed to encourage you to save for your future.
 
#5 Switch from A Student Card
If you own a student card it may be time to switch to a credit card that has perks and rewards.
 
#6 Start Investing
Invest a portion of our paycheck into individual stocks or mutual funds each month. This is a great financial practice especially if you start to invest early.
 
Bottom Line:
Saving early is key to a successful future. Getting into simple saving habits will benefit you long-term. It will even help you put a down payment on the home of your dreams some day. So, try putting these 6 financial practices into play now!
 

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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