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March Journal 2021


Down Payment Saving Tips

The average down payment is 20% of a home's selling price - a considerable chunk of change. Borrowers can use a mortgage calculator to determine how much they will need to save. They should choose a home price that is no more than 25% of their monthly take-home pay. They then know both how much of a home they can afford as well as the down payment amount. Next, cut expenses to accelerate savings; obvious places to start are subscriptions or shopping trips. Borrowers may also consider redirecting retirement savings into a housing fund for a time or investigating options to earn supplemental income.1



What Is Earnest Money?

During the home buying process, you are almost always required to provide funds that signal serious intent to buy a property, known as an earnest money deposit. When a seller accepts your offer, a third-party holds your earnest money, and the seller takes the house off the market. The buyer's and seller's agents negotiate the required amount of earnest money, which averages between 1% and 5% of the home's price. The amount can be applied toward closing costs or the down payment.2



Today's Credit Card Rates

Credit card interest rates vary widely based on the type of card, the issuer's risk-based pricing policies, and the applicant's credit quality. The higher your credit score, the better rate you stand to receive. The current average for several hundred of the most popular credit cards and their advertised rates is 19.24%. If you are in good standing with your account but pay well over this average rate, you can call the credit card company to try and negotiate a better rate.3



Home values will increase by 10.5% by December 2021.4



Best States for Retirees

Iowa and West Virginia are tied as the best states for retirees. While not known as beach-side retirement havens, both states score exceptionally high for various cost-related factors. Iowa offers retirees a strong economy with plenty of opportunities for part-time work and an extensive network of nursing care facilities. West Virginia leads in affordability - boasting living costs 9.1% below the national average - with the fifth-lowest average property tax and third-lowest healthcare costs in the country. The top ten states are Arkansas and Mississippi (tied for No. 3); Florida and Kentucky (tied for No. 5); Connecticut (No. 7); Missouri (No. 8), and Alabama and Rhode Island (tied for No. 9).5



Solar Panels - A Bright Idea to Add to Your Home's Value

Most buyers view solar panels on a home as a premium upgrade, knowing that it will help reduce their carbon footprint and lower their energy costs. A study found buyers are willing to pay an extra $15,000 for an average-sized solar array and that homes featuring solar capabilities sell more quickly than those without.6



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