Category Archives: Our Blog

Our blog is information and education concerning all aspects of helping our members achieve success in all areas of life. By becoming one of our many followers you to will receive daily updates on areas of business, credit, financing, real estate, buy a business, selling a business and building a business. We look forward to hearing from you and please comment on our post or add suggestions so we can become more of a value to your interest.

Executive Residential Home

This stunning and unique 5 Bedroom /3 Full / 2 Half Bath home is situated only (8) eight miles from the French Quarter of New Orleans, offering the best of two worlds!! One being the exciting convenience of the ‘Big Easy’, and the relaxed and quiet atmosphere of a private and secure home.

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As you enter the grand entrance of this 7,000 sq. ft. luxury home, you will be introduced to a large formal dining room with a sensational old world charm, exquisite décor, and magnificent curved staircase. Directly adjacent to the formal dining room is a butlers pantry adding to the convenience of formal dining if desired. As you stroll the beautifully decorated main hall to the rear of home, you will be engulfed in a magnificent great room with 32′ ceilings offering an abundance of lounging and seating arrangements surrounded by multiple large windows overlooking a pool, pavilion, outdoor kitchen, and golf course. Sunroom is at the very end of great room, allowing for additional lounging. A bar is also adjacent to great room with accommodating ice maker and wine cooler…great for entertaining! Large gourmet kitchen with commercial Viking cooktop, bar with barstools, and large breakfast area. This area alone will comfortably sit 10 people. Just past the kitchen is a large laundry room. Very cozy TV room is nestled in the back wing of home, with an exit door leading to private courtyard, as well as, and exit door to the pool area. This room serves very well as a separate entertainment area away from the main home for the perfect separate quiet time. Very large master bedroom downstairs with New Orleans custom designed chandeliers, built-in pullout refrigerator and freezer. Great accommodations for individual privacy. Large master bath with Jacuzzi tub, separate shower with steamer, double sink vanity, and a separate sit down vanity area. Upstairs are four large bedrooms, and three full baths.

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Creating A Successful Marketing Strategy

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How to Promote Your Blog Posts

While referrals are great, and will always be part of growing a business, many who have relied on referrals exclusively in the past have more recently needed to supplement these referrals with a more active marketing approach. And the world has changed – competition has increased, clients have become more discerning and social media has had a dramatic impact on the types of marketing activities that are the most effective.

In order for a marketing strategy to be successful, it must be multi-faceted, realistic and implemented consistently over time. The messaging should be focused on developing awareness of your brand and on building trust around that brand.

  • Detail specific activities you intend to undertake;
  • Identify the audience each activity is targeted to;
  • Specify how you’re going to measure success;
  • Be flexible enough to allow adjustments as necessary; and
  • Stipulate who on your team is responsible for each activity.

CLICK HERE to download the complete WhitePaper

Written by RPM in hopes to help other business owners grow their awareness.

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How Can You Qualify To Buy Your New Home? We Can Help?

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100 Questions & Answers About Buying A New Home

Dear Future Homeowner:

Homeownership is becoming a reality for more and more Americans. During 2000, the US homeownership rate reached 67.7%, the highest rate ever. Yet many Americans don’t realize that homeownership is within their grasp.

A home is a financial asset and more: it’s a place to live and raise children; it’s a plan for the future; it’s an investment in your community. That’s why we at Manfre and Associates Consulting Services have partnered  with companies that can HELP !!!!  We want all Americans to have an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of owning a home. And we are especially proud of our work to help first-time homebuyers: thanks to our special programs, resources and out of the box creative financing options.

Knowledge is said to open doors. This is literally true when it comes to buying a home. To become a first-time homebuyer, you need to know where and how to begin the homebuying process. The following questions and answers have been carefully selected to give you a foundation of basic knowledge. In addition to helping you begin, this brochure will give you the tools necessary to navigate the entire process – from deciding whether you’re ready to buy, all the way to that final proud step, getting the keys to your new home.

Calling for this brochure was your first step. Now you can use this information to determine if you’re ready to buy a home. if you are ready, contact Manfre and Associates Consulting Services, LLC.  They can help you decide your next step. (504)344-3317 or manfreandassociates@yahoo.com Visit Our Site: www.manfreandassociates.com

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Our partnership with a few new organizations are making dreams come true. Ask about FlexResidency !!!! See if you qualify.

HUD’s FHA has helped more than 30 million people become homeowners since 1934. We want to help you open the door to your own home. After all, HUD and FHA are on your side.

Good Luck!

GETTING STARTED

1. HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M READY TO BUY A HOME?

You can find out by asking yourself some questions:

 -   Do I have a steady source of income (usually a job)? Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3 years? Is my current income reliable?
 -   Do I have a good record of paying my bills?
 -   Do I have few outstanding long-term debts, like car payments?
 -   Do I have money saved for a down payment?
 -   Do I have the ability to pay a mortgage every month, plus additional costs?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you are probably ready to buy your own home.

2. HOW DO I BEGIN THE PROCESS OF BUYING A HOME?

Start by thinking about your situation. Are you ready to buy a home? How much can you afford in a monthly mortgage payment (see Question 4 for help)? How much space do you need? What areas of town do you like? After you answer these questions, make a “To Do” list and start doing casual research. Talk to friends and family, drive through neighborhoods, and look in the “Homes” section of the newspaper.

3. HOW DOES PURCHASING A HOME COMPARE WITH RENTING?

The two don’t really compare at all. The one advantage of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity, take advantage of tax benefits, and protect yourself against rent increases. Also, you may not be free to decorate without permission and may be at the mercy of the landlord for housing.

Owning a home has many benefits. When you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity. And that’s an investment. Owning a home also qualifies you for tax breaks that assist you in dealing with your new financial responsibilities- like insurance, real estate taxes, and upkeep- which can be substantial. But given the freedom, stability, and security of owning your own home, they are worth it.

4. HOW DOES THE LENDER DECIDE THE MAXIMUM LOAN AMOUNT THAT CAN AFFORD?

The lender considers your debt-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your gross (pre-tax) income to housing and non-housing expenses. Non-housing expenses include such long-term debts as car or student loan payments, alimony, or child support. According to the FHA,monthly mortgage payments should be no more than 29% of gross income, while the mortgage payment, combined with non-housing expenses, 4 should total no more than 41% of income. The lender also considers cash available for down payment and closing costs, credit history, etc. when determining your maximum loan amount.

5. HOW DO I SELECT THE RIGHT REAL ESTATE AGENT?

Start by asking family and friends if they can recommend an agent. Compile a list of several agents and talk to each before choosing one. Look for an agent who listens well and understands your needs, and whose judgment you trust. The ideal agent knows the local area well and has resources and contacts to help you in your search. Overall, you want to choose an agent that makes you feel comfortable and can provide all the knowledge and services you need.

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6. HOW CAN I DETERMINE MY HOUSING NEEDS BEFORE I BEGIN THE SEARCH?

Your home should fit way you live, with spaces and features that appeal to the whole family. Before you begin looking at homes, make a list of your priorities – things like location and size. Should the house be close to certain schools? your job? to public transportation? How large should the house be? What type of lot do you prefer? What kinds of amenities are you looking for? Establish a set of minimum requirements and a ‘wish list.” Minimum requirements are things that a house must have for you to consider it, while a “wish list” covers things that you’d like to have but aren’t essential.

FINDING YOUR HOME

7. WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN DECIDING ON A COMMUNITY?

Select a community that will allow you to best live your daily life. Many people choose communities based on schools. Do you want access to shopping and public transportation? Is access to local facilities like libraries and museums important to you? Or do you prefer the peace and quiet of a rural community? When you find places that you like, talk to people that live there. They know the most about the area and will be your future neighbors. More than anything, you want a neighborhood where you feel comfortable in.

8. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M FEELING EXCLUDED FROM CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOODS?

Immediately contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) if you ever feel excluded from a neighborhood or particular house. Also, contact HUD if you believe you are being discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, nationality, familial status, or disability. HUD’s Office of Fair Housing has a hotline for reporting incidents of discrimination: 1-800-669-9777 (and 1-800-927-9275 for the hearing impaired).

9. HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT LOCAL SCHOOLS?

You can get information about school systems by contacting the city or county school board or the local schools. Your real estate agent may also be knowledgeable about schools in the area.

10. HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT COMMUNITY RESOURCES?

Contact the local chamber of commerce for promotional literature or talk to your real estate agent about welcome kits, maps, and other information. You may also want to visit the local library. It can be an excellent source for information on local events and resources, and the librarians will probably be able to answer many of the questions you have.

11. HOW CAN I FIND OUT HOW MUCH HOMES ARE SELLING FOR IN CERTAIN COMMUNITIES AND NEIGHBORHOODS?

Your real estate agent can give you a ballpark figure by showing you comparable listings. If you are working with a real estate professional, they may have access to comparable sales maintained on a database.

12. HOW CAN I FIND INFORMATION ON THE PROPERTY TAX LIABILITY?

The total amount of the previous year’s property taxes is usually included in the listing information. If it’s not, ask the seller for a tax receipt or contact the local assessor’s off ice. Tax rates can change from year to year, so these figures may be approximate.

13. WHAT OTHER TAX ISSUES SHOULD I TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION?

Keep in mind that your mortgage interest and real estate taxes will be deductible. A qualified real estate professional can give you more details on other tax benefits and liabilities,

14. IS AN OLDER HOME A BETTER VALUE THAN A NEW ONE?

There isn’t a definitive answer to this question. You should look at each home for its individual characteristics. Generally, older homes may be in more established neighborhoods, offer more ambiance, and have lower property tax rates. People who buy older homes, however, shouldn’t mind maintaining their home and making some repairs. Newer homes tend to use more modern architecture and systems, are usually easier to maintain, and may be more energy-efficient. People who buy new homes often don’t want to worry initially about upkeep and repairs.

15. WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN WALKING THROUGH A HOME?

In addition to comparing the home to your minimum requirement and wish lists, use the HUD Home Scorecard and consider the following:

 -   Is there enough room for both the present and the future?
 -   Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms?
 -   Is the house structurally sound?
 -   Do the mechanical systems and appliances work?
 -   Is the yard big enough?
 -   Do you like the floor plan?
 -   Will your furniture fit in the space? Is there enough storage space? (Bring a tape measure to better answer these questions.)
 -   Does anything need to repaired or replaced? Will the seller repair or replace the items?
 -   Imagine the house in good weather and bad, and in each season. Will you be happy with it year-round?

Take your time and think carefully about each house you see. Ask your real estate agent to point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint.

16. WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK WHEN LOOKING AT HOMES?

Many of your questions should focus on potential problems and maintenance issues. Does anything need to be replaced? What things require ongoing maintenance (e.g., paint, roof, HVAC, appliances, carpet)? Also ask about the house and neighborhood, focusing on quality of life issues. Be sure the seller’s or real estate agent’s answers are clear and complete. Ask questions until you understand all of the information they’ve given. Making a list of questions ahead of time will help you organize your thoughts and arrange all of the information you receive. The HUD Home Scorecard can help you develop your question list.

17. HOW CAN I KEEP TRACK OF ALL THE HOMES I SEE?

If possible, take photographs of each house: the outside, the major rooms, the yard, and extra features that you like or ones you see as potential problems. And don’t hesitate to return for a second look. Use the HUD Home Scorecard to organize your photos and notes for each house.

18. HOW MANY HOMES SHOULD I CONSIDER BEFORE CHOOSING ONE?

There isn’t a set number of houses you should see before you decide. Visit as many as it takes to find the one you want. On average, homebuyers see 15 houses before choosing one. Just be sure to communicate often with your real estate agent about everything you’re looking for. It will help avoid wasting your time.

YOU’VE FOUND IT

19. WHAT DOES A HOME INSPECTOR DO, AND HOW DOES AN INSPECTION FIGURE IN THE PURCHASE OF A HOME?

An inspector checks the safety of your potential new home. Home Inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make you aware of only repairs,that are needed.

The Inspector does not evaluate whether or not you’re getting good value for your money. Generally, an inspector checks (and gives prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and Ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector that is qualified and experienced.

It’s a good idea to have an inspection before you sign a written offer since, once the deal is closed, you’ve bought the house as is.” Or, you may want to include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection t clause gives you an ‘out” on buying the house if serious problems are found,or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.

20. DO I NEED TO BE THERE FOR THE INSPECTION?

It’s not required, but it’s a good idea. Following the inspection, the home inspector will be able to answer questions about the report and any problem areas. This is also an opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the home you’d I like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general, maintenance questions.

21. ARE OTHER TYPES OF INSPECTIONS REQUIRED?

If your home inspector discovers a serious problem a more specific Inspection may be recommended. It’s a good idea to consider having your home inspected for the presence of a variety of health-related risks like radon gas asbestos, or possible problems with the water or waste disposal system.

22. HOW CAN I PROTECT MY FAMILY FROM LEAD IN THE HOME?

If the house you’re considering was built before 1978 and you have children under the age of seven, you will want to have an inspection for lead-based point. It’s important to know that lead flakes from paint can be present in both the home and in the soil surrounding the house. The problem can be fixed temporarily by repairing damaged paint surfaces or planting grass over effected soil. Hiring a lead abatement contractor to remove paint chips and seal damaged areas will fix the problem permanently.

23. ARE POWER LINES A HEALTH HAZARD?

There are no definitive research findings that indicate exposure to power lines results in greater instances of disease or illness.

24. DO I NEED A LAWYER TO BUY A HOME?

Laws vary by state. Some states require a lawyer to assist in several aspects of the home buying process while other states do not, as long as a qualified real estate professional is involved. Even if your state doesn’t require one, you may want to hire a lawyer to help with the complex paperwork and legal contracts. A lawyer can review contracts, make you aware of special considerations, and assist you with the closing process. Your real estate agent may be able to recommend a lawyer. If not, shop around. Find out what services are provided for what fee, and whether the attorney is experienced at representing homebuyers.

25. DO I REALLY NEED HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE?

Yes. A paid homeowner’s insurance policy (or a paid receipt for one) is required at closing, so arrangements will have to be made prior to that day. Plus, involving the insurance agent early in the home buying process can save you money. Insurance agents are a great resource for information on home safety and they can give tips on how to keep insurance premiums low.

26. WHAT STEPS COULD I TAKE TO LOWER MY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE COSTS?

Be sure to shop around among several insurance companies. Also, consider the cost of insurance when you look at homes. Newer homes and homes constructed with materials like brick tend to have lower premiums. Think about avoiding areas prone to natural disasters, like flooding. Choose a home with a fire hydrant or a fire department nearby.

27. IS THE HOME LOCATED IN A FLOOD PLAIN?

Your real estate agent or lender can help you answer this question. If you live in a flood plain, the lender will require that you have flood insurance before lending any money to you. But if you live near a flood plain, you may choose whether or not to get flood insurance coverage for your home. Work with an insurance agent to construct a policy that fits your needs.

28. WHAT OTHER ISSUES SHOULD I CONSIDER BEFORE I BUY MY HOME?

Always check to see if the house is in a low-lying area, in a high-risk area for natural disasters (like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.), or in a hazardous materials area. Be sure the house meets building codes. Also consider local zoning laws, which could affect remodeling or making an addition in the future. Your real estate agent should be able to help you with these questions.

29. HOW DO I MAKE AN OFFER?

Your real estate agent will assist you in making an offer, which will include the following information:

 -   Complete legal description of the property
 -   Amount of earnest money
 -   Down payment and financing details
 -   Proposed move-in date
 -   Price you are offering
 -   Proposed closing date
 -   Length of time the offer is valid
 -   Details of the deal

Remember that a sale commitment depends on negotiating a satisfactory contract with the seller, not just Making an offer.

Other ways to lower ins-insurance costs include insuring your home and car(s) with the same company, increasing home security, and seeking group coverage through alumni or business associations. Insurance costs are always lowered by raising your deductibles, but this exposes you to a higher out-of-pocket cost if you have to file a claim.

30. HOW DO I DETERMINE THE INITIAL OFFER?

Unless you have a buyer’s agent, remember that the agent works for the seller. Make a point of asking him or her to keep your discussions and information confidential. Listen to your real estate agent’s advice, but follow your own instincts on deciding a fair price. Calculating your offer should involve several factors: what homes sell for in the area, the home’s condition, how long it’s been on the market, financing terms, and the seller’s situation. By the time you’re ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take negotiation, which is very common when buying a home. The buyer and seller may often go back and forth until they can agree on a price.

31. WHAT IS EARNEST MONEY? HOW MUCH SHOULD I SET ASIDE?

Earnest money is money put down to demonstrate your seriousness about buying a home. It must be substantial enough to demonstrate good faith and is usually between 1-5% of the purchase price (though the amount can vary with local customs and conditions). If your offer is accepted, the earnest money becomes part of your down payment or closing costs. If the offer is rejected, your money is returned to you. If you back out of a deal, you may forfeit the entire amount.

32. WHAT ARE “HOME WARRANTIES”, AND SHOULD I CONSIDER THEM?

Home warranties offer you protection for a specific period of time (e.g., one year) against potentially costly problems, like unexpected repairs on appliances or home systems, which are not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Warranties are becoming more popular because they offer protection during the time immediately following the purchase of a home, a time when many people find themselves cash-strapped.

GENERAL FINANCING QUESTIONS:THE BASICS

33. WHAT IS A MORTGAGE?

Generally speaking, a mortgage is a loan obtained to purchase real estate. The “mortgage” itself is a lien (a legal claim) on the home or property that secures the promise to pay the debt. All mortgages have two features in common: principal and interest.

34. WHAT IS A LOAN TO VALUE (LTV) HOW DOES IT DETERMINE THE SIZE OF MY LOAN?

The loan to value ratio is the amount of money you borrow compared with the price or appraised value of the home you are purchasing. Each loan has a specific LTV limit. For example: With a 95% LTV loan on a home priced at $50,000, you could borrow up to $47,500 (95% of $50,000), and would have to pay,$2,500 as a down payment.

The LTV ratio reflects the amount of equity borrowers have in their homes. The higher the LTV the less cash homebuyers are required to pay out of their own funds. So, to protect lenders against potential loss in case of default, higher LTV loans (80% or more) usually require mortgage insurance policy.

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35. WHAT TYPES OF LOANS ARE AVAILABLE AND WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF EACH?

Fixed Rate Mortgages: Payments remain the same for the the life of the loan

Types

 -   15-year
 -   30-year

Advantages

 -   Predictable
 -   Housing cost remains unaffected by interest rate changes and inflation.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMS): Payments increase or decrease on a regular schedule with changes in interest rates; increases subject to limits

Types

 -   Balloon Mortgage- Offers very low rates for an Initial period of time (usually 5, 7, or 10 years); when time has elapsed, the balance is clue or refinanced (though not automatically)
 -   Two-Step Mortgage- Interest rate adjusts only once and remains the same for the life of the loan
 -   ARMS linked to a specific index or margin

Advantages

 -   Generally offer lower initial interest rates
 -   Monthly payments can be lower
 -   May allow borrower to qualify for a larger loan amount

36. WHEN DO ARMS MAKE SENSE?

An ARM may make sense If you are confident that your income will increase steadily over the years or if you anticipate a move in the near future and aren’t concerned about potential increases in interest rates.

37. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF 15- AND 30-YEAR LOAN TERMS?

30-Year:

 -   In the first 23 years of the loan, more interest is paid off than principal, meaning larger tax deductions.
 -   As inflation and costs of living increase, mortgage payments become a smaller part of overall expenses.

15-year:

 -   Loan is usually made at a lower interest rate.
 -   Equity is built faster because early payments pay more principal.

38. CAN I PAY OFF MY LOAN AHEAD OF SCHEDULE?

Yes. By sending in extra money each month or making an extra payment at the end of the year, you can accelerate the process of paying off the loan. When you send extra money, be sure to indicate that the excess payment is to be applied to the principal. Most lenders allow loan prepayment, though you may have to pay a prepayment penalty to do so. Ask your lender for details.

39. ARE THERE SPECIAL MORTGAGES FOR FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS?

Yes. Lenders now offer several affordable mortgage options which can help first-time homebuyers overcome obstacles that made purchasing a home difficult in the past. Lenders may now be able to help borrowers who don’t have a lot of money saved for the down payment and closing costs, have no or a poor credit history, have quite a bit of long-term debt, or have experienced income irregularities.

40. HOW LARGE OF A DOWN PAYMENT DO I NEED?

There are mortgage options now available that only require a down payment of 5% or less of the purchase price. But the larger the down payment, the less you have to borrow, and the more equity you’ll have. Mortgages with less than a 20% down payment generally require a mortgage insurance policy to secure the loan. When considering the size of your down payment, consider that you’ll also need money for closing costs, moving expenses, and – possibly -repairs and decorating.

41. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A MONTHLY MORTGAGE PAYMENT?

The monthly mortgage payment mainly pays off principal and interest. But most lenders also include local real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage insurance (if applicable).

42. WHAT FACTORS AFFECT MORTGAGE PAYMENTS?

The amount of the down payment, the size of the mortgage loan, the interest rate, the length of the repayment term and payment schedule will all affect the size of your mortgage payment.

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43. HOW DOES THE INTEREST RATE FACTOR IN SECURING A MORTGAGE LOAN?

A lower interest rate allows you to borrow more money than a high rate with the some monthly payment. Interest rates can fluctuate as you shop for a loan, so ask-lenders if they offer a rate “lock-in”which guarantees a specific interest rate for a certain period of time. Remember that a lender must disclose the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of a loan to you. The APR shows the cost of a mortgage loan by expressing it in terms of a yearly interest rate. It is generally higher than the interest rate because it also includes the cost of points, mortgage insurance, and other fees included in the loan.

44. WHAT HAPPENS IF INTEREST RATES DECREASE AND I HAVE A FIXED RATE LOAN?

If interest rates drop significantly, you may want to investigate refinancing. Most experts agree that if you plan to be in your house for at least 18 months and you can get a rate 2% less than your current one, refinancing is smart. Refinancing may, however, involve paying many of the same fees paid at the original closing, plus origination and application fees.

45. WHAT ARE DISCOUNT POINTS?

Discount points allow you to lower your interest rate. They are essentially prepaid interest, With each point equaling 1% of the total loan amount. Generally, for each point paid on a 30-year mortgage, the interest rate is reduced by 1/8 (or.125) of a percentage point. When shopping for loans, ask lenders for an interest rate with 0 points and then see how much the rate decreases With each point paid. Discount points are smart if you plan to stay in a home for some time since they can lower the monthly loan payment. Points are tax deductible when you purchase a home and you may be able to negotiate for the seller to pay for some of them.

46. WHAT IS AN ESCROW ACCOUNT? DO I NEED ONE?

Established by your lender, an escrow account is a place to set aside a portion of your monthly mortgage payment to cover annual charges for homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance (if applicable), and property taxes. Escrow accounts are a good idea because they assure money will always be available for these payments. If you use an escrow account to pay property tax or homeowner’s insurance, make sure you are not penalized for late payments since it is the lender’s responsibility to make those payments.

FIRST STEPS

47. WHAT STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN TO SECURE A LOAN?

The first step in securing a loan is to complete a loan application. To do so, you’ll need the following information.

 -   Pay stubs for the past 2-3 months
 -   W-2 forms for the past 2 years
 -   Information on long-term debts
 -   Recent bank statements
 -   tax returns for the past 2 years
 -   Proof of any other income
 -   Address and description of the property you wish to buy
 -   Sales contract

During the application process, the lender will order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 1-6 weeks.

48. HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT LENDER FOR ME?

Choose your lender carefully. Look for financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction. Be sure to choose a company that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable. A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable, since it will be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions. Plus, it’s beneficial when the lender knows home values and conditions in the local area. Do research and ask family, friends, and your real estate agent for recommendations.

49. HOW ARE PRE-QUALIFYING AND PRE-APPROVAL DIFFERENT?

Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you maybe able to borrow. You can be ‘pre-qualified’ over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.

Pre-approval is a lender’s actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling the financial records mentioned in Question 47 (Without the property description and sales contract) and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.

50. HOW CAN I FIND OUT INFORMATION ABOUT MY CREDIT HISTORY?

There are three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Obtaining your credit report is as easy as calling and requesting one. Once you receive the report, it’s important to verify its accuracy. Double check the “high credit limit,”‘total loan,” and ‘past due” columns. It’s a good idea to get copies from all three companies to assure there are no mistakes since any of the three could be providing a report to your lender. Fees, ranging from $5-$20, are usually charged to issue credit reports but some states permit citizens to acquire a free one. Contact the reporting companies at the numbers listed for more information.

If you are having questions about “How Credit Bureaus Operate Watch This”

CREDIT REPORTING COMPANIES

 

Company Name Phone Number
Experian 1-888-397-3742
Equifax 1-800-685-1111
Trans Union 1-800-916-8800

 

51. WHAT IF I FIND A MISTAKE IN MY CREDIT HISTORY?

Simple mistakes are easily corrected by writing to the reporting company, pointing out the error, and providing proof of the mistake. You can also request to have your own comments added to explain problems. For example, if you made a payment late due to illness, explain that for the record. Lenders are usually understanding about legitimate problems.

52. WHAT IS A CREDIT BUREAU SCORE AND HOW DO LENDERS USE THEM?

A credit bureau score is a number, based upon your credit history, that represents the possibility that you will be unable to repay a loan. Lenders use it to determine your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. The better the score, the better your chances are of getting a loan. Ask your lender for details.

53. HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY SCORE?

There are no easy ways to improve your credit score, but you can work to keep it acceptable by maintaining a good credit history. This means paying your bills on time and not overextending yourself by buying more than you can afford.

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FINDING the RIGHT LOAN for YOU

54. HOW DO I CHOOSE THE BEST LOAN – PROGRAM FOR ME?

Your personal situation will determine the best kind of loan for you. By asking yourself a few questions, you can help narrow your search among the many options available and discover which loan suits you best.

 -   Do you expect your finances to changeover the next few years?
 -   Are you planning to live in this home for a long period of time?
 -   Are you comfortable with the idea of a changing mortgage payment amount?
 -   Do you wish to be free of mortgage debt as your children approach college age or as you prepare for retirement?

Your lender can help you use your answers to questions such as these to decide which loan best fits your needs.

55. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO COMPARE LOAN TERMS BETWEEN LENDERS?

First, devise a checklist for the information from each lending institution. You should include the company’s name and basic information, the type of mortgage, minimum down payment required, interest rate and points, closing costs, loan processing time, and whether prepayment is allowed.

Speak with companies by phone or in person. Be sure to call every lender on the list the same day, as interest rates can fluctuate daily. In addition to doing your own research, your real estate agent may have access to a database of lender and mortgage options. Though your agent may primarily be affiliated with a particular lending institution, he or she may also be able to suggest a variety of different lender options to you.

56. ARE THERE ANY COSTS OR FEES ASSOCIATED WITH THE LOAN ORIGINATION PROCESS?

Yes. When you turn in your application, you’ll be required to pay a loan application fee to cover the costs of underwriting the loan. This fee pays for the home appraisal, a copy of your credit report, and any additional charges that may be necessary. The application fee is generally non-refundable.

57. WHAT IS RESPA?

RESPA stands for Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. It requires lenders to disclose information to potential customers throughout the mortgage process, By doing so, it protects borrowers from abuses by lending institutions. RESPA mandates that lenders fully inform borrowers about all closing costs, lender servicing and escrow account practices, and business relationships between closing service providers and other parties to the transaction.

For more information on RESPA, or call 1-800-569-4287 for a local counseling referral.

58. WHAT IS A GOOD FAITH ESTIMATE, AND HOW DOES IT HELP ME?

It’s an estimate that lists all fees paid before closing, all closing costs, and any escrow costs you will encounter when purchasing a home. The lender must supply it within three days of your application so that you can make accurate judgments when shopping for a loan.

59. BESIDES RESPA, DOES THE LENDER HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES?

Lenders are not allowed to discriminate in any way against potential borrowers. If you believe a lender is refusing to provide his or her services to you on the basis of race, color, nationality, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing at 1-800-669-9777 (or 1-800-927-9275 for the hearing impaired).

60. WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES DO I HAVE DURING THE LENDING PROCESS?

To ensure you won’t fall victim to loan fraud, be sure to follow all of these steps as you apply for a loan:

 -   Be sure to read and understand everything before you sign.
 -   Refuse to sign any blank documents.
 -   Do not buy property for someone else.
 -   Do not overstate your income.
 -   Do not overstate how long you have been employed.
 -   Do not overstate your assets.
 -   Accurately report your debts.
 -   Do not change your income tax returns for any reason. Tell the whole truth about gifts. Do not list fake co-borrowers on your loan application.
 -   Be truthful about your credit problems, past and present.
 -   Be honest about your intention to occupy the house
 -   Do not provide false supporting documents.

CLOSING

61. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I’VE APPLIED FOR MY LOAN?

It usually takes a lender between 1-6 weeks to complete the evaluation of your application. Its not unusual for the lender to ask for more information once the application has been submitted. The sooner you can provide the information, the faster your application will be processed. Once all the information has been verified the lender will call you to let you know the outcome of your application. If the loan is approved, a closing date is set up and the lender will review the closing with you. And after closing, you’ll be able to move into your new home.

62. WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR DURING THE FINAL WALK-THROUGH?

This will likely be the first opportunity to examine the house without furniture, giving you a clear view of everything. Check the walls and ceilings carefully, as well as any work the seller agreed to do in response to the inspection. Any problems discovered previously that you find uncorrected should be brought up prior to closing. It is the seller’s responsibility to fix them.

63. WHAT MAKES UP CLOSING COST?

There may be closing cost customary or unique to a certain locality, but closing cost are usually made up of the following:

 -   Attorney’s or escrow fees (Yours and your lender’s if applicable)
 -   Property taxes (to cover tax period to date)
 -   Interest (paid from date of closing to 30 days before first monthly payment)
 -   Loan Origination fee (covers lenders administrative cost)
 -   Recording fees
 -   Survey fee
 -   First premium of mortgage Insurance (if applicable)
 -   Title Insurance (yours and lender’s)
 -   Loan discount points
 -   First payment to escrow account for future real estate taxes and insurance
 -   Paid receipt for homeowner’s insurance policy (and fire and flood insurance if applicable)
 -   Any documentation preparation fees

64. WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO HAPPEN ON CLOSING DAY?

You’ll present your paid homeowner’s insurance policy or a binder and receipt showing that the premium has been paid. The closing agent will then list the money you owe the seller (remainder of down payment, prepaid taxes, etc.) and then the money the seller owes you (unpaid taxes and prepaid rent, if applicable). The seller will provide proofs of any inspection, warranties, etc.

Once you’re sure you understand all the documentation, you’ll sign the mortgage, agreeing that if you don’t make payments the lender is entitled to sell your property and apply the sale price against the amount you owe plus expenses. You’ll also sign a mortgage note, promising to repay the loan. The seller will give you the title to the house in the form of a signed deed.

You’ll pay the lender’s agent all closing costs and, in turn,he or she will provide you with a settlement statement of all the items for which you have paid. The deed and mortgage will then be recorded in the state Registry of Deeds, and you will be a homeowner.

65. WHAT DO I GET AT CLOSING?

 -   Settlement Statement, HUD-1 Form (itemizes services provided and the fees charged; it is filled out by the closing agent and must be given to you at or before closing)
 -   Truth-in-Lending Statement
 -   Mortgage Note
 -   Mortgage or Deed of Trust
 -   Binding Sales Contract (prepared by the seller; your lawyer should review it)
 -   Keys to your new home

HOW CAN HUD and the FHA HELP ME BECOME a HOMEOWNER

66. WHAT IS THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT?

Also known as HUD, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was established in 1965 to develop national policies and programs to address housing needs in the U.S. One of HUD’s primary missions is to create a suitable living environment for all Americans by developing and improving the country’s communities and enforcing fair housing laws

67. HOW DOES HUD HELP HOMEBUYERS AND HOMEOWNERS?

HUD helps people by administering a variety of programs that develop and support affordable housing. Specifically, HUD plays a large role in homeownership by making loans available for lower- and moderate-income families through its FHA mortgage insurance program and its HUD Homes program. HUD owns homes in many communities throughout the U.S. and offers them for sale at attractive prices and economical terms. HUD also seeks to protect consumers through education, Fair Housing Laws, and housing rehabilitation initiatives.

68. WHAT IS THE FHA?

Now an agency within HUD, the Federal Housing Administration was established in 1934 to advance opportunities for Americans to own homes. By providing private lenders with mortgage insurance, the FHA gives them the security they need to lend to first-time buyers who might not be able to qualify for conventional loans. The FHA has helped more than 26 million Americans buy a home.

69. HOW CAN THE FHA ASSIST ME IN BUYING A HOME?

The FHA works to make homeownership a possibility for more Americans. With the FHA, you don’t need perfect credit or a high-paying job to qualify for a loan. The FHA also makes loans more accessible by requiring smaller down payments than conventional loans. In fact, an FHA down payment could be as little as a few months rent. And your monthly payments may not be much more than rent.

70. HOW IS THE FHA FUNDED?

Lender claims paid by the FHA mortgage insurance program are drawn from the Mutual Mortgage Insurance fund. This fund is made up of premiums paid by FHA-insured loan borrowers. No tax dollars are used to fund the program.

71. WHO CAN QUALIFY FOR FHA LOANS

anyone who meets the credit requirements, can afford the mortgage payments and cash investment, and who plans to use the mortgaged property as a primary residence may apply for an FHA-insured loan.

72. WHAT IS THE FHA LOAN LIMIT?

FHA loan limits vary throughout the country, from $115,200 in low-cost areas to $208,800 in high-cost areas. The loan maximums for multi-unit homes are higher than those for single units and also vary by area.

Because these maximums are linked to the conforming loan limit and average area home prices, FHA loan limits are periodically subject to change. Ask your lender for details and confirmation of current limits.

73. WHAT ARE THE STEPS INVOLVED IN THE FHA LOAN PROCESS?

With the exception of a few additional forms, the FHA loan application process is similar to that of a conventional loan (see Question 47). With new automation measures, FHA loans may be originated more quickly than before. And, if you don’t prefer a face-to-face meeting, you can apply for an FHA loan via mail, telephone, the Internet, or video conference.

74. HOW MUCH INCOME DO I NEED TO HAVE TO QUALIFY FOR AN FHA LOAN?

There is no minimum income requirement. But you must prove steady income for at least three years, and demonstrate that you’ve consistently paid your bills on time.

75. WHAT QUALIFIES AS AN INCOME SOURCE FOR THE FHA?

Seasonal pay, child support, retirement pension payments, unemployment compensation, VA benefits, military pay, Social Security income, alimony, and rent paid by family all qualify as income sources. Part-time pay, overtime, and bonus pay also count as long as they are steady. Special savings plans-such as those set up by a church or community association – qualify, too. Income type is not as important as income steadiness with the FHA.

76. CAN I CARRY DEBT AND STILL QUALIFY FOR FHA LOANS?

Yes. Short-term debt doesn’t count as long as it can be paid off within 10 months. And some regular expenses, like child care costs, are not considered debt. Talk to your lender or real estate agent about meeting the FHA debt-to-income ratio.

77. WHAT IS THE DEBT-TO-INCOME RATIO FOR FHA LOANS?

The FHA allows you to use 29% of your income towards housing costs and 41% towards housing expenses and other long-term debt. With a conventional loan, this qualifying ratio allows only 28% toward housing and 36% towards housing and other debt

78. CAN I EXCEED THIS RATIO?

You may qualify to exceed if you have:

 -   a large down payment
 -   a demonstrated ability to pay more toward your housing expenses
 -   substantial cash reserves
 -   net worth enough to repay the mortgage regardless of income
 -   evidence of acceptable credit history or limited credit use
 -   less-than-maximum mortgage terms
 -   funds provided by an organization
 -   a decrease in monthly housing expenses

79. HOW LARGE A DOWN PAYMENT DO I NEED WITH AN FHA LOAN?

You must have a down payment of at least 3% of the purchase price of the home. Most affordable loan programs offered by private lenders require between a 3%-5% down payment, with a minimum of 3% coming directly from the borrower’s own funds.

80. WHAT CAN I USE TO PAY THE DOWN PAYMENT AND CLOSING COSTS OF AN FHA LOAN?

Besides your own funds, you may use cash gifts or money from a private savings club. If you can do certain repairs and improvements yourself, your labor may be used as part of a down 8 payment (called -sweat equity”). If you are doing a lease purchase, paying extra rent to the seller may also be considered the same as accumulating cash.

81. HOW DOES MY CREDIT HISTORY IMPACT MY ABILITY TO QUALIFY?

The FHA is generally more flexible than conventional lenders in its qualifying guidelines. In fact, the FHA allows you to re-establish credit if:

 -   two years have passed since a bankruptcy has been discharged
 -   all judgments have been paid
 -   any outstanding tax liens have been satisfied or appropriate arrangements have been made to establish a repayment plan with the IRS or state Department of Revenue
 -   three years have passed since a foreclosure or a deed-in-lieu has been resolved

82. CAN I QUALIFY FOR AN FHA LOAN WITHOUT A CREDIT HISTORY?

Yes. If you prefer to pay debts in cash or are too young to have established credit, there are other ways to prove your eligibility. Talk to your lender for details.

83. WHAT TYPES OF CLOSING COSTS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH FHA-INSURED LOANS?

Except for the addition of an FHA mortgage insurance premium, FHA closing costs are similar to those of a conventional loan outlined in Question 63. The FHA requires a single, upfront mortgage insurance premium equal to 2.25% of the mortgage to be paid at closing (or 1.75% if you complete the HELP program- see Question 91). This initial premium may be partially refunded if the loan is paid in full during the first seven years of the loan term. After closing, you will then be responsible for an annual premium – paid monthly – if your mortgage is over 15 years or if you have a 15-year loan with an LTV greater than 90%.

84. CAN I ROLL CLOSING COSTS INTO my FHA LOAN?

No. Though you can’t roll closing costs into your FHA loan, you may be able to use the amount you pay for them to help satisfy the down payment requirement. Ask your lender for details.

85. ARE FHA LOANS ASSUMABLE?

Yes. You can assume an existing FHA-insured loan, or, if you are the one deciding to sell, allow a buyer to assume yours. Assuming a loan can be very beneficial, since the process is streamlined and less expensive compared to that for a new loan. Also, assuming a loan can often result in a lower interest rate. The application process consists basically of a credit check and no property appraisal is required. And you must demonstrate that you have enough income to support the mortgage loan. In this way, qualifying to assume a loan is similar to the qualification requirements for a new one.

86. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CAN’T MAKE A PAYMENT ON LOAN?

Call or, write to your lender as soon as possible. Clearly explain the situation and be prepared to provide him or her with financial information.

87. ARE THERE ANY OPTIONS IF I FALL BEHIND ON MY LOAN PAYMENTS?

Yes. Talk to your lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency for details. Listed below are a few options that may help you get back on track.

For FHA loans:

 -   Keep living in your home to qualify for assistance.
 -   Contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency (1-800-569-4287 or TDD: 1-800-483-2209) and cooperate with the counselor/lender trying to help you.
 -   HUD has a number of special loss mitigation programs available to help you:
 -   Special Forbearance: Your lender will arrange for a revised repayment plan which may Include temporary reduction or suspension of payments; you can qualify by having an Involuntary reduction in your Income or Increase In living expenses.
 -   Mortgage Modification: Allows refinance debt and/or extend the term of the your mortgage loan which may reduce your monthly payments; you can qualify if you have recovered from financial problems, but net Income Is less than before.
 -   Partial Claim: Your lender maybe able to help you obtain an interest-free loan from HUD to bring your mortgage current.
 -   Pre-foreclosure Sale: Allows you to sell your property and pay off your mortgage loan ,to avoid foreclosure.
 -   Deed-in lieu of Foreclosure: Lets you voluntarily “give back” your property to the lender; it won’t save your house but will help you avoid the costs, time, and effort of the foreclosure process.
 -   If you are having difficulty with an-uncooperative lender or feel your loan servicer is not providing you with the most effective loss mitigation options, call the FHA Loss Mitigation Center at (877) 622-8525 for additional help.

For Conventional Loans:

Talk to your lender about specific loss mitigation options. Work directly with him or her to request a “workout packet.” A secondary lender, like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, may have purchased your loan. Your lender can follow the appropriate guidelines set by Fannie or Freddie to determine the best option for your situation.

Fannie Mae does not deal directly with the borrower. They work with the lender to determine the loss mitigation program that best fits your needs.

Freddie Mac, like Fannie Mae, will usually only work with the loan servicer. However, if you encounter problems with your lender during the loss mitigation process, you can coil customer service for help at 1-800-FREDDIE (1-800-373-3343).

In any loss mitigation situation, it is important to remember a few helpful hints:

 -   Explore every reasonable alternative to avoid losing your home, but beware of scams. For example, watch out for:
Equity skimming: a buyer offers to repay the mortgage or sell the property if you sign over the deed and move out.
Phony counseling agencies: offer counseling for a fee when it is often given at no charge.
 -   Don’t sign anything you don’t understand.

MORTGAGE INSURANCE

88. WHAT IS MORTGAGE INSURANCE?

Mortgage insurance is a policy that protects lenders against some or most of the losses that result from defaults on home mortgages. It’s required primarily for borrowers making a down payment of less than 20%.

89. HOW DOES MORTGAGE INSURANCE WORK? IS IT LIKE HOME OR AUTO INSURANCE?

Like home or auto insurance, mortgage insurance requires payment of a premium, is for protection against loss, and is used in the event of an emergency. If a borrower can’t repay an insured mortgage loan as agreed, the lender may foreclose on the property and file a claim with the mortgage insurer for some or most of the total losses.

90. DO I NEED MORTGAGE INSURANCE? HOW DO I GET IT?

You need mortgage insurance only if you plan to make a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price of the home. The FHA offers several loan programs that may meet your needs. Ask your lender for details.

91. HOW CAN I RECEIVE A DISCOUNT ON THE FHA INITIAL MORTGAGE INSURANCE PREMIUM?

Ask your real estate agent or lender for information on the HELP program from the FHA. HELP – Homebuyer Education Learning Program – is structured to help people like you begin the homebuying process. It covers such topics as budgeting, finding a home, getting a loan, and home maintenance. In most cases, completion of this program may entitle you to a reduction in the initial FHA mortgage insurance premium from 2.25% to 1.75% of the purchase price of your new home.

92. WHAT IS PMI?

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance or Insurer. These are privately-owned companies that provide mortgage insurance. They offer both standard and special affordable programs for borrowers. These companies provide guidelines to lenders that detail the types of loans they will insure. Lenders use these guidelines to determine borrower eligibility. PMI’s usually have stricter qualifying ratios and larger down payment requirements than the FHA, but their premiums are often lower and they insure loans that exceed the FHA limit.

FHA PRODUCTS

93. WHAT IS A 203(b) LOAN?

This is the most commonly used FHA program. It offers a low down payment, flexible qualifying guidelines, limited lender’s fees, and a maximum loan amount.

94. WHAT IS A 203(k) LOAN?

This is a loan that enables the homebuyer to finance both the purchase and rehabilitation of a home through a single mortgage. A portion of the loan is used to pay off the seller’s existing mortgage and the remainder is placed in an escrow account and released as rehabilitation is completed. Basic guidelines for 203(k) loans are as follows:

 -   The home must be at least one year old.
 -   The cost of rehabilitation must be at least $5,000, but the total property value – including the cost of repairs – must fall within the FHA maximum mortgage limit.
 -   The 203(k) loan must follow many of the 203(b) eligibility requirements.
 -   Talk to your lender about specific improvement, energy efficiency, and structural guidelines.

95. WHAT IS AN ENERGY EFFICIENT MORTGAGE (EEM)?

The Energy Efficient Mortgage allows a homebuyer to save future money on utility bills. This is done by financing the cost of adding energy-efficiency features to a new or existing home as part of an FHA-insured home purchase. The EEM can be used with both 203(b) and 203(k) loans. Basic guidelines for EEMs are as follows:

 -   The cost of improvements must be determined by a Home Energy Rating System or by an energy consultant. This cost must be less than the anticipated savings from the improvements.
 -   One- and two-unit new or existing homes are eligible; condos are not.
 -   The improvements financed may be 5% of property value or $4,000, whichever is greater. The total must fall within the FHA loan limit.

96. DELETED.

97. WHAT IS A TITLE I LOAN?

Given by a Lender and insured by the FHA, a Title I loan is used to make non-luxury renovations and repairs to a home. It offers a manageable interest rate and repayment schedule. Loans are limited to between $5,000 and 20,000. If the loan amount is under 7,500, no lien is required against your home. Ask your lender for details.

98. WHAT OTHER LOAN PRODUCTS OR PROGRAMS DOES THE FHA OFFER?

The FHA also insures loans for the purchase or rehabilitation of manufactured housing, condominiums, and cooperatives. It also has special programs for urban areas, disaster victims, and members of the armed forces. Insurance for ARMS is also available from the FHA.

99. HOW CAN I OBTAIN AN FHA-INSURED LOAN?

Contact an FHA-approved lender such as a participating mortgage company, bank, savings and loan association, or thrift. For more information on the FHA and how you can obtain an FHA loan, visit the HUD web site at http://www.hud.gov or call a HUD-approved counseling agency at 1-800-569-4287 or TDD: 1-800-877-8339.

100. HOW CAN I CONTACT HUD?

Visit the web site at http://www.hud.gov or look in the phone book “blue pages” for a listing of the HUD office near you.

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What is Timeless You?

Studies have shown that physical exercise, a healthy diet, stress-reducing activities such as yoga and meditation, and fulfilling relationships can have a lasting effect on the aging process. The problem is people don’t know exactly what to do or where to start.

That’s where Timeless You comes in.

Timeless You is an online course from holistic health expert Dr. Deepak Chopra. In his 6-part program, Deepak takes you on an interactive journey to discover your healthiest and happiest self. The course includes exclusive videos with Deepak, quizzes, guided activities and more.

 

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Why is Timeless You Successful?

The world loves Deepak Chopra. As the third most-followed influencer on LinkedIn (with 2.2 million followers), Deepak has a large and growing fan base. He is the author of 65 best-selling books as well one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People of the 20th Century. When people see Deepak’s name, they expect quality content.

Baby Boomers are a booming business. There are over 80 million Baby Boomers in the US alone. This generation has time, disposable income and an interest in life-long learning. And while Deepak partnered with Grandparents.com to make Timeless You easily accessible to this audience, make no mistake—this course is truly timeless and appeals to any adult looking to improve their lives.

Our customers are happy. Over 15,000 people have signed up since February, and so far our refund rate is less than 0.1%. We’re clearly giving people something they want and need. This course is designed to improve our customer’s overall health and happiness, and they clearly believe it does.

8 Ways to Improving Your Credit Scores

Easy ways to improve your credit score !!!!!

Need to boost your credit score?

Unfortunately, a credit score isn’t like a race car, where you can rev the engine and almost instantly feel the result.

Credit scores are more like your driving record: They take into account years of past behavior, not just your present actions.

In addition to making the right moves, you also have to be consistent. A few easy steps can push your score in the right direction.

Here are seven simple ways to improve your credit score.

Watch those credit card balances

One of the major factors in your credit score: how much revolving credit you have versus how much you’re actually using. The smaller that percentage is, the better it is for your credit rating.

The optimum: 10 percent or lower, says Barry Paperno, consumer affairs manager with myFICO.com.

One of the best ways of boosting that score is “paying down your balances,” says Lauren Bowne, staff attorney with Consumers Union.

“Having the ability to use a lot of credit is good, but you have to have low balances,” she says.

What you might not know: Even if you pay balances in full every month, you could still have a higher utilization ratio than you’d expect. That’s because some issuers use the balance on your statement as the one reported to the bureau. Even if you’re paying balances in full every month, your credit score could still reflect your monthly charges.

One strategy: See if the credit card issuer will accept multiple payments throughout the month.

Eliminate ‘nuisance balances’

“A good way to improve your score is to eliminate nuisance balances,” says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for SmartCredit.com. Those are the small balances you have on a number of credit cards.

The reason this strategy can help your score: One of the items your score considers is just how many of your cards have balances, says Ulzheimer.

So charging $50 on one card and $30 on another, instead of using the same card (preferably one with a good interest rate), can hurt your score, he says.

The solution to improve your credit score: Gather up all those credit cards on which you have small balances and pay them off, Ulzheimer says. Then select one or two go-to cards that you can use for everything.

“That way, you’re not polluting your credit report with a lot of balances,” he says.

Leave (good) old debt on your report

Some people erroneously believe that old debt on their credit report is bad, says Ulzheimer. The minute they get their home or car paid off, they’re on the phone trying to get it removed from their credit report, he says.

Negative items are bad for your score, and most of them will disappear from your report after seven years. However, “arguing to get old accounts off your credit report just because they’re paid is a bad idea,” he says.

Good debt — debt that you’ve handled well and paid as agreed — is good for your credit. The longer your history of good debt is, the better it is for your score.

One of the ways to improve your credit score: Leave old debt and good accounts on as long as possible, says Ulzheimer. This is also a good reason not to close old accounts where you’ve had a solid repayment record.

Trying to get rid of old good debt is “like making straight A’s in high school and trying to expunge the record 20 years later,” Ulzheimer says. “You never want that stuff to come off your history.”

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Use your calendar

If you’re shopping for a home, car or student loan, it pays to do your rate shopping within a short time span.

Every time you apply for credit, it can cause a small dip in your score that lasts a year. That’s because if someone is making multiple applications for credit, it usually means he or she wants to use more credit.

However, with three kinds of loans — mortgage, auto and more recently, student loans — scoring formulas allow for the fact that you’ll make multiple applications but only take out one loan.

The FICO score, a score widely used by lenders, ignores any such inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. If it finds some that are older than 30 days, it will count those made within a typical shopping period as just one inquiry.

The length of that shopping period depends on the credit score used.

If lenders are using the newest forms of scoring software, then you have 45 days, says Ulzheimer. With older forms, you need to keep it to 14 days.

Older forms of the software won’t count multiple student loan inquiries as one, no matter how close together you make applications, he says.

“The takeaway is don’t dillydally,” Ulzheimer says.

Don’t slight bills in favor of a down payment

If you’re planning a big purchase (like a home or a car), you might be scrambling to assemble one big chunk of cash.

While you’re juggling bills, you don’t want to start sending bills late. Even if you’re sitting on a pile of savings, a drop in your score could scuttle that dream deal.

One of the biggest ingredients in a good credit score is simply month after month of plain vanilla on-time payments.

“Credit scores are determined by what’s in your credit report,” says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for Consumer Action. If you’re bad about paying your bills — or paying them on time — it damages your credit and hurts your score, she says.

That can even extend to items that aren’t normally associated with credit reporting, such as library books, she says. That’s because even if the original “creditor,” such as the library, doesn’t report to the bureaus, they may eventually call in a collections agency for an unpaid bill. That agency could very well list the item on your credit report.

Saving money for a big purchase is smart. Just don’t slight the regular bills — or pay them late — to do it.

 Don’t hint at risk

Sometimes one of the best ways to improve your credit score is to not do something that could sink it.

Two of the biggies are missing payments and suddenly paying less (or charging more), than you normally do, says Dave Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.

Other changes that could scare your card issuer, but not necessarily dent your credit score: taking out cash advances or even using your cards at businesses that could indicate current or future money stress, such as a pawnshop or a divorce attorney, he says.

“You just don’t want to do anything that would indicate risk,” says Jones.

Don’t obsess

The only time you really have to think about your score is when you know you’ll soon need credit, says Sherry. Otherwise, just take care of your bills responsibly and don’t worry about it.

Are you getting ready to make a big purchase, such as a home or car? At least a few months in advance, spring for a copy of your credit scores, Sherry says.

While the score you can buy may not be the exact same one your lender uses, it will grade you on many of the same criteria and give you a good indication of how well you’re managing your credit, she says. It will provide you with specific ways to improve your credit score — in the form of several codes or factors that kept your score from being higher.

If you are denied credit (or don’t qualify for the lender’s best rate), the lender has to show you the credit score it used, thanks to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Another smart move: Regularly keep up with your credit report, says Sherry.

You’re entitled to one of each of your three credit bureau reports (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), for free every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Smart consumer tip: Stagger them, Sherry says. Send for one every four months, and you can monitor your credit for free.

If needing additional help and services please contact:

Manfre and Associates Consulting Services 504-344-3317

Watch Our 8 Minute Video for Service Details:

www.united-credit.org

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5 ways to sell your business at a peak price in 2014

If you’ve been waiting for a healthy environment to sell a small business, 2014 may be your moment.

The BizBuySell Insight Report, published by the online business marketplace BizBuySell, found that the number of small-business deals that closed in 2013 increased by 41.7 percent in the third quarter compared to the same quarter in 2012, with restaurants and retail businesses seeing the most action. The median sale price for small businesses in Q3 of 2013 was $180,000—up 2.9 percent from the same time the previous year, though a little below the median asking price of $199,000. On average, selling prices were equal to 2.19 percent of cash flow.

The healthy selling climate seems likely to continue—which is good news for those who are eager to retire or cash out. Among mergers-and-acquisitions insiders, 68 percent expected the market to pick up strength in the 12 months following September 2013, according to a survey released in October by the law firm Dykema, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich.

With interest rates still low, experts say many buyers should be able to access affordable financing. “You’ve got a pretty good window in 2014 where rates will begin to start to rise but still stay at historically low levels,”said Mitch Davidson, managing director of Post Capital Partners, a New York City private equity firm focused on the lower end of the middle market. “Debt finances a significant element of these transactions.”

(Read more: Michelle Seiler-Tucker and Rene’ Manfre About Selling

Of course, the market for any small business can be unpredictable, so owners shouldn’t sell just because there’s momentum now, say experts. There need to be other compelling reasons to put a business on the market, whether that’s the desire to move on to a new venture or to slow down.

“Market timing is always tricky, so I’m not sure that anybody should be waiting for just the right time to sell,” said Kevin O’Connell, a partner in the corporate department at Boston-based law firm Posternak Blankstein & Lund, who works in mergers and acquisitions.

If you are considering selling a business at some point in the near future, it is important to get it into shape to reap the maximum return on your investment. Here are five strategies experts recommend. The best part: None of these will be wasted efforts if you reconsider selling, because all will make your business stronger.

1. Get your books in order.

A recent Citibank Small Business Pulse report found that 25 percent of small-business owners expect to sell their company to a competitor or third party as an eventual exit strategy. But many business owners keep sloppy books, which can scare away buyers—especially sophisticated ones, like private equity firms. They want to see evidence of profit and actual or potential growth, said O’Connell.

To give buyers confidence, Davidson recommends getting audited financials for several recent years, which can be costly but makes a business more attractive. “It is a great investment to make,” he said.

Don’t put off getting your financials in shape, even if you’re planning to wait another year or two to sell. Often, small-business owners have to put their business on the market unexpectedly due to health problems, accidents or a family member who needs care, said Bill Watson, a former CPA. As owner of Advanced Business Group in Nashville, Tenn., he helps business owners build the value of their businesses and sell them. “Make sure you’re ready to sell at all times,” he advised.

(Read more: Valuating Your Business by Rene’ Manfre

2. Protect your intellectual property.

This can help you amp up the value of your business, but it’s not always a speedy process, so plan ahead. “If you need to get a patent for something, that’s something you need to consider very early in the process,” said Tatiana Melnik, an attorney in Tampa, Fla., who works with both start-ups and established businesses. “Spend the time trademarking your company name. Get copyright protection for whatever you are developing. All of that has value.”

Sometimes owners who do this discover that they have been infringing on the trademark of another business unwittingly. You’ll be much better off if you find out early and fix the situation before you’re in talks with a buyer. “A lot of times people don’t find out until they’re considering selling,” Melnik said.

3. Make sure the business isn’t dependent on you.

A business that depends heavily on the presence of one person to succeed—such as a creative services business where clients are paying for your personal talent or expertise—can be very difficult to sell to another buyer. “Generally, if your business relies less on the owner, you get a higher selling price,” said Jock Purtle, a broker of Internet businesses who runs Digital Exits, a Sydney, Australia–based firm that does 90 percent of its deals in the U.S. “If the operations are managed by staff or systems or technology and there’s less day-to-day importance of the owner, you’re going to get a higher price.”

(Read more: Consulting On Your Business and How To Improve Value

One of Purtle’s clients, Travis Jamison, founder of Supremacy SEO, located a buyer within about a month when he recently decided to sell an ecommerce store he launched to sell guides telling consumers how to “jail break” iPhones, a growing craze among the tech savvy. The process, which is legal but is discouraged by Apple because it can lead to problems like security vulnerabilities, lets the phones’ owners unlock the code so they can download apps from outside the iTunes store.

Jamison’s secret to finding a buyer quickly: “I built it to sell from the get-go,” the serial entrepreneur from Ashville, N.C., said on a call from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, where he has been staying. From the time he started the business in February 2013, he used his expertise in search engine optimization to make sure the store ranked high in Google. He automated virtually every aspect of the business, from taking orders to providing outsourced customer service in the Philippines. And he hired an employee to run it while he travels around the world—a sign that someone else could run it. And he kept good written records on his procedures. “You want everything to be written down in a process,” he said. “Otherwise, there will be questions and uncertainty about it.”

Due to the terms of the deal, Jamison could not disclose the amount of the sale, but he said that the ease of running the ecommerce store made it very appealing to the entrepreneur who bought it.

(Read more: Getting a high sales price for your company)

4. Know what your business is worth.

One of the first steps Watson recommends to owners who seek his help in selling a business is to get several independent valuations done by reputable firms so his clients know where they stand. If they have the energy to make a push to increase the value of the business, he works with them to identify strategies that will help. Sometimes this may mean going after bigger contracts to increase the “sellable cash flow.” In other cases, it could mean making strategic investments in the business that will make it worth more.

“I had a client that needed a $60,000 computer upgrade,” he recalled. “They could have leased that product from someone, or they could go out and buy that product and depreciate it. As far as the cash they spent, it was about the same either way.” However, each route would have a different impact on the firm’s value. “On the market, if you lease it, it’s an expense of the business,” he said. “That $60,000 comes straight out of their cash flow. They increased value of $180,000 by buying the computer upgrade. It had a tremendous effect on their value.”

5. Don’t keep secrets.

“Buyers do not like surprises,” said Posternak Blankstein & Lund’s O’Connell. “Don’t hold back on that uncomfortable litigation that has been filed against you. Whatever skeleton you have in the closet, be prepared to talk about it early. The longer you wait, the more disappointed the buyer will be. The greater the likelihood you will spoil the deal.” If you’re involved in litigation, have toxic goo buried in the backyard or are grappling with employee unrest, you may need to resolve those problems to get the best selling price. Regardless of what the market does in 2014, it will be easier to sell a business that’s thriving.

By Elaine Pofeldt, Special to CNBC.com

Learn How To Make Money with Clickbank: Click Here!

Financing Your Future Business !!!!

wf_selling_business_lg

Most small business sales are financed, at least in part, by the sellers themselves. Offering seller financing puts the seller in a stronger position to get a better price and a faster sale.

Buyers nearly always need seller financing. Their advisors strongly recommend it. Seller financing acts like a bond for performance to assure that the seller will live up to the promises made to the buyer during the sales process. Seller financing is seen by most buyers as an indication that the seller has faith in the future of the business.

Buyers can expect, however, that sellers who offer seller financing must also act a lot like a bank! A buyer can expect to be asked to secure the loan and sign a personal guaranty.

What is Seller Financing?

Sellers of small businesses usually allow the buyer to pay some of the purchase price of the business in the form of a promissory note. This is what is known as seller financing.

Seller financing is particularly common when the business is large enough to make a cash sale difficult for the buyer (over $100,000), but too small for the mid-market venture capitalists (under $5 million). Seller financing is also common when the business, for any number of reasons, does not appeal to traditional lenders.

A rule of thumb is that sellers will typically finance from 1/3 to 2/3 of the sale price. Many do more than that. It all depends on the situation. Each transaction is unique. The interest rate of the seller note is typically at or below bank prime rates. The term of the seller note is usually similar to that of a bank.

For a service business which sells for $500,000, for example, the transaction might be structured as $150,000 down from the buyer and $350,000 in seller financing. The seller note might run for five to seven years and carry an interest rate of 8% to 10%. Monthly payments are the norm and usually start 30 days from the date of sale unless the payment schedule must be modified to allow for the seasonality of the business revenues. The seller note would also usually have a longer term if real estate were being financed.

When a seller offers seller financing, the price the buyer can afford to pay goes up as the amount of the down payment required by the seller goes down.

Why Would A Seller Offer Financing?

Sellers are nearly always reluctant to offer seller financing. Like all of us, they fear the unknown. Despite the advantages of playing bank, it is an uncomfortable role for them. They usually come around to seller financing only after some effort has been made to persuade them.

A seller’s first encounter on this issue might be with the business broker. In many cases, but not all, the business broker will bring up the issue. Most business brokers agree that sellers need to offer seller financing, but not all are willing to discuss the issue at the beginning of the listing. When the buyer is unknown, the seller’s fear of seller financing is greatest. Some brokers prefer to wait until the buyer prospect is known before suggesting the amount and terms of seller financing.

Offering seller financing up-front, however, can attract buyers and speed up the business sale. This is the major issue that usually persuades a seller to offer some type of financing.

Seller financing is seen by buyer prospects as comforting proof that the seller is not afraid of the future of the business. Buyers are more likely to believe a seller’s optimistic view of the business’ future when seller financing is offered. Some buyers can’t or won’t look at businesses for sale unless seller financing is a possibility. The more buyer prospects that look at a business, the better the chance a seller has to get an acceptable offer. A seller can also get a better price for a business that has financing in place. As in nearly all buying situations, buyers are often focused on achieving a purchase on terms that allow them to buy with as little ‘cash in’ as possible, even if the long-run costs are higher.

Seller financing can also lead to a speedier sale. If the seller plays bank, then the deal gets done more quickly. Applying for a bank loan takes a long time for some buyers, and the rejection rate for new acquisition loans is very high – sometimes as much as 80%! Banks also move much slower than sellers, even when they do approve a loan. A seller is more much likely to grant a loan request, approve a transaction, and close it as fast as the attorney can get the agreements prepared. Banks take anywhere from thirty to 120 days to approve and close a loan. There is also the possibility that the bankers will give the buyer negative feedback about the business, so that the buyer backs out.

A seller may also see tax advantages and profitability in seller financing, but these alone are not usually compelling reasons to offer seller financing. Capital gains from a small business sale can be reported in installments if seller financing is in place. This stretches out the capital gains tax into future years. Charging interest is also profitable. Sellers, however, are usually not as worried about tax liabilities as they should be until after the sale has taken place. They also usually believe they can get better interest rates from investments than from seller notes.

Why Should A Buyer Ask For Seller Financing?

Buying a business without seller financing is like buying a home without a home owner’s warranty. The seller note is a bond for performance. This is the major reason a buyer ought to ask for seller financing.

Beyond that, sellers have a strong motive to maintain the business goodwill if they have a remaining stake in its future ability to pay back the seller note. Without such an interest, sellers may choose to question the new owner’s skills and integrity. After a sale takes place, the seller and buyer frequently disagree about the future of the business. This disagreement is a natural outgrowth of their different positions and can become serious. If a seller note is in place, the seller has a motive to temper any irritation caused by the buyer with forbearance.

Even with a non-compete agreement in place with the seller, the fact that the business owes the seller a major amount of money may change the nature of the seller’s attitude. Instead of being indifferent or quarrelsome, a seller who is still owed money is more likely to be solicitous and genuinely helpful.

How Is Seller Financing Usually Secured?

Seller financing can be as creative as sellers and buyers want to make it. Most sellers, however, like to add security provisions in as many forms as possible. This can encompass personal guarantees as well as specific collateral, stock pledges, life and disability insurance policies and even restrictions on how the business is run.

The most common requirement is for a personal guaranty by the buyer and the buyer’s spouse. Sellers expect this. If a buyer objects, sellers immediately question their seriousness. A personal guaranty is not a specific lien on any particular buyer asset, but is the guaranty that the buyer is placing all assets at risk as needed to satisfy the loan. If the seller note payments are not made, the seller has to proceed with the long process of formal foreclosure. But, to satisfy the foreclosure, the seller will have access to all buyer assets. The spouse’s signature is required to prevent the transfer of assets to the spouse’s name to dilute the buyer’s net worth.

Specific collateral is the other common source of security. If no bank financing is involved, the seller wants a first mortgage on any real estate and first security agreements on all personal property involved in the sale. Sometimes, the seller will require that the buyer offer additional security in the form of additional mortgages and security agreements on real and personal property that the buyer owns. If a bank is involved, the seller must usually settle for second place in the line of secured creditors behind the bank.

A third type of security is the ‘stock pledge.’ The buyer is required to form a corporation and give the seller the rights to ‘vote the stock’ in case of seller note default. This allows the seller a speedier solution than foreclosure. If the terms of the seller note are not met, the seller can vote to require that payments be made and can even vote to replace management of the business. This threat is usually enough to guarantee seller note payments are not missed.

Life and disability insurance policies on key members of the buyer’s new management team are less frequently used methods of adding security to a seller-financed transaction. Term life insurance is available at rates which are relatively low, so this is most common. Disability insurance is used less often because it is more expensive. The seller will typically want the business to pay for these policies up to the amount of the seller note. These policies stay in effect until the seller note is paid.

Restrictions on how the business is run are sometimes added. These restrictions can be in the form of requiring that the new owner preserve certain account or employment relationships, that certain operating ratios of the business are maintained, that the new owner’s pay is limited, or that other important operating benchmarks are met until the seller note is paid. Most sellers won’t use this form of adding to their own security as a creditor. They usually readily identify with buyer objections to any controls placed on the new business owner.

How Can Both Buyer and Seller Benefit?

If you are a buyer or seller and this all seems a bit intimidating to you, take heart! It’s just as intimidating for the other party! Don’t lose site of the fact that this is just a normal transaction between two parties who must each benefit if a deal is to be struck.

Buyers are just looking for a fair chance to buy a job and a reasonable return on investment. They usually have modest goals about what they need to earn for the job they are buying. They are usually fair about how they define what they need to receive as a return on investment for the business risks they are assuming.

Sellers are mostly just ordinary people who once bought or started a business and now want to sell it. They want to get the most they can, but they have learned to be practical. They are usually persuaded by fairness and reasonableness. If not that, then they are at least eventually persuaded by the reality of what’s possible.

If you are a buyer, seller financing can offer you better terms and a friendlier lender. You will be able to buy the business quicker because you won’t have to wait a month for the bank’s loan committee to meet. There are no loan processing or guarantee fees and, usually, no invasive lender controls or audits.

If you are a seller, I would advise an early commitment to seller financing. It will save you a lot of time. You’ll get a better price because you’ll see more buyer prospects. There are many more buyers who can afford to take a chance when the admission price is reasonable.

Seller financing, properly understood and employed, can really benefit both buyer and seller.

Protecting Your Business Expert Center:

Search For Your Dream Business Click Here

http://dicenter.com/insurance/

 

Call : Rene’ P. Manfre for details 504-344-3317

wf_selling_business_lg

 

Most small business sales are financed, at least in part, by the sellers themselves. Offering seller financing puts the seller in a stronger position to get a better price and a faster sale.

Buyers nearly always need seller financing. Their advisors strongly recommend it. Seller financing acts like a bond for performance to assure that the seller will live up to the promises made to the buyer during the sales process. Seller financing is seen by most buyers as an indication that the seller has faith in the future of the business.

Buyers can expect, however, that sellers who offer seller financing must also act a lot like a bank! A buyer can expect to be asked to secure the loan and sign a personal guaranty.

What is Seller Financing?

Sellers of small businesses usually allow the buyer to pay some of the purchase price of the business in the form of a promissory note. This is what is known as seller financing.

Seller financing is particularly common when the business is large enough to make a cash sale difficult for the buyer (over $100,000), but too small for the mid-market venture capitalists (under $5 million). Seller financing is also common when the business, for any number of reasons, does not appeal to traditional lenders.

A rule of thumb is that sellers will typically finance from 1/3 to 2/3 of the sale price. Many do more than that. It all depends on the situation. Each transaction is unique. The interest rate of the seller note is typically at or below bank prime rates. The term of the seller note is usually similar to that of a bank.

For a service business which sells for $500,000, for example, the transaction might be structured as $150,000 down from the buyer and $350,000 in seller financing. The seller note might run for five to seven years and carry an interest rate of 8% to 10%. Monthly payments are the norm and usually start 30 days from the date of sale unless the payment schedule must be modified to allow for the seasonality of the business revenues. The seller note would also usually have a longer term if real estate were being financed.

When a seller offers seller financing, the price the buyer can afford to pay goes up as the amount of the down payment required by the seller goes down.

Why Would A Seller Offer Financing?

Sellers are nearly always reluctant to offer seller financing. Like all of us, they fear the unknown. Despite the advantages of playing bank, it is an uncomfortable role for them. They usually come around to seller financing only after some effort has been made to persuade them.

A seller’s first encounter on this issue might be with the business broker. In many cases, but not all, the business broker will bring up the issue. Most business brokers agree that sellers need to offer seller financing, but not all are willing to discuss the issue at the beginning of the listing. When the buyer is unknown, the seller’s fear of seller financing is greatest. Some brokers prefer to wait until the buyer prospect is known before suggesting the amount and terms of seller financing.

Offering seller financing up-front, however, can attract buyers and speed up the business sale. This is the major issue that usually persuades a seller to offer some type of financing.

Seller financing is seen by buyer prospects as comforting proof that the seller is not afraid of the future of the business. Buyers are more likely to believe a seller’s optimistic view of the business’ future when seller financing is offered. Some buyers can’t or won’t look at businesses for sale unless seller financing is a possibility. The more buyer prospects that look at a business, the better the chance a seller has to get an acceptable offer. A seller can also get a better price for a business that has financing in place. As in nearly all buying situations, buyers are often focused on achieving a purchase on terms that allow them to buy with as little ‘cash in’ as possible, even if the long-run costs are higher.

Seller financing can also lead to a speedier sale. If the seller plays bank, then the deal gets done more quickly. Applying for a bank loan takes a long time for some buyers, and the rejection rate for new acquisition loans is very high – sometimes as much as 80%! Banks also move much slower than sellers, even when they do approve a loan. A seller is more much likely to grant a loan request, approve a transaction, and close it as fast as the attorney can get the agreements prepared. Banks take anywhere from thirty to 120 days to approve and close a loan. There is also the possibility that the bankers will give the buyer negative feedback about the business, so that the buyer backs out.

A seller may also see tax advantages and profitability in seller financing, but these alone are not usually compelling reasons to offer seller financing. Capital gains from a small business sale can be reported in installments if seller financing is in place. This stretches out the capital gains tax into future years. Charging interest is also profitable. Sellers, however, are usually not as worried about tax liabilities as they should be until after the sale has taken place. They also usually believe they can get better interest rates from investments than from seller notes.

Why Should A Buyer Ask For Seller Financing?

Buying a business without seller financing is like buying a home without a home owner’s warranty. The seller note is a bond for performance. This is the major reason a buyer ought to ask for seller financing.

Beyond that, sellers have a strong motive to maintain the business goodwill if they have a remaining stake in its future ability to pay back the seller note. Without such an interest, sellers may choose to question the new owner’s skills and integrity. After a sale takes place, the seller and buyer frequently disagree about the future of the business. This disagreement is a natural outgrowth of their different positions and can become serious. If a seller note is in place, the seller has a motive to temper any irritation caused by the buyer with forbearance.

Even with a non-compete agreement in place with the seller, the fact that the business owes the seller a major amount of money may change the nature of the seller’s attitude. Instead of being indifferent or quarrelsome, a seller who is still owed money is more likely to be solicitous and genuinely helpful.

How Is Seller Financing Usually Secured?

Seller financing can be as creative as sellers and buyers want to make it. Most sellers, however, like to add security provisions in as many forms as possible. This can encompass personal guarantees as well as specific collateral, stock pledges, life and disability insurance policies and even restrictions on how the business is run.

The most common requirement is for a personal guaranty by the buyer and the buyer’s spouse. Sellers expect this. If a buyer objects, sellers immediately question their seriousness. A personal guaranty is not a specific lien on any particular buyer asset, but is the guaranty that the buyer is placing all assets at risk as needed to satisfy the loan. If the seller note payments are not made, the seller has to proceed with the long process of formal foreclosure. But, to satisfy the foreclosure, the seller will have access to all buyer assets. The spouse’s signature is required to prevent the transfer of assets to the spouse’s name to dilute the buyer’s net worth.

Specific collateral is the other common source of security. If no bank financing is involved, the seller wants a first mortgage on any real estate and first security agreements on all personal property involved in the sale. Sometimes, the seller will require that the buyer offer additional security in the form of additional mortgages and security agreements on real and personal property that the buyer owns. If a bank is involved, the seller must usually settle for second place in the line of secured creditors behind the bank.

A third type of security is the ‘stock pledge.’ The buyer is required to form a corporation and give the seller the rights to ‘vote the stock’ in case of seller note default. This allows the seller a speedier solution than foreclosure. If the terms of the seller note are not met, the seller can vote to require that payments be made and can even vote to replace management of the business. This threat is usually enough to guarantee seller note payments are not missed.

Life and disability insurance policies on key members of the buyer’s new management team are less frequently used methods of adding security to a seller-financed transaction. Term life insurance is available at rates which are relatively low, so this is most common. Disability insurance is used less often because it is more expensive. The seller will typically want the business to pay for these policies up to the amount of the seller note. These policies stay in effect until the seller note is paid.

Restrictions on how the business is run are sometimes added. These restrictions can be in the form of requiring that the new owner preserve certain account or employment relationships, that certain operating ratios of the business are maintained, that the new owner’s pay is limited, or that other important operating benchmarks are met until the seller note is paid. Most sellers won’t use this form of adding to their own security as a creditor. They usually readily identify with buyer objections to any controls placed on the new business owner.

How Can Both Buyer and Seller Benefit?

If you are a buyer or seller and this all seems a bit intimidating to you, take heart! It’s just as intimidating for the other party! Don’t lose site of the fact that this is just a normal transaction between two parties who must each benefit if a deal is to be struck.

Buyers are just looking for a fair chance to buy a job and a reasonable return on investment. They usually have modest goals about what they need to earn for the job they are buying. They are usually fair about how they define what they need to receive as a return on investment for the business risks they are assuming.

Sellers are mostly just ordinary people who once bought or started a business and now want to sell it. They want to get the most they can, but they have learned to be practical. They are usually persuaded by fairness and reasonableness. If not that, then they are at least eventually persuaded by the reality of what’s possible.

If you are a buyer, seller financing can offer you better terms and a friendlier lender. You will be able to buy the business quicker because you won’t have to wait a month for the bank’s loan committee to meet. There are no loan processing or guarantee fees and, usually, no invasive lender controls or audits.

If you are a seller, I would advise an early commitment to seller financing. It will save you a lot of time. You’ll get a better price because you’ll see more buyer prospects. There are many more buyers who can afford to take a chance when the admission price is reasonable.

Seller financing, properly understood and employed, can really benefit both buyer and seller.

Protecting Your Business Expert Center:

Search For Your Dream Business Here

http://dicenter.com/insurance/

Call : Rene’ P. Manfre for details 504-344-3317