Did you have Monday off? Whether you did or not, the good news is that this short week is almost over. We hope you have fun plans for this weekend.
The housing market seems to be flat. The home sale report released this morning showed that existing home sales rose only 1%. November’s rate was revised down. And for all of 2013, sales were up 8% from 2012. The reason why it’s slowing is that fewer investors are buying.
5 Tools that Will Keep You Safe Online
In light of the news that personal and financial information were stolen from Target and Neiman Marcus, we found an article detailing five tools that will help protect your information while you’re online.
- McAfee Site Advisor – free software that adds safety ratings to your browser and search results whether you use Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, or Firefox.
- AVG Secure Search – Identifies which websites are collecting information about your online activities nd gives you the option to block it. It even has a Do Not Track feature.
- SurfEasy – Software sets up a virtual private network (VPN) that encrypts all of the Internet traffic on your smartphone, tablet and computer to protect your online privacy.
- Web of Trust – Considers themselves the Yelp of secure websites because it relies upon users rating sites and then provides you with that information as to whether it’s secure or not.
Which mortgage lender will save you the most money?
Do you know whether to use a national bank, online lender, or mortgage broker for your new mortgage or refinance? Here are some pros and cons to all of these options.
- National banks make their own guidelines for underwriting, and tend to be competitive on interest rates and fees. But because they’re so big, they are disconnected from regional differences. And the person who works with you on your loan application may be just a voice on the phone many states away. You lose that personal connection with this important choice.
- Direct Lenders – Act like big banks, and are often affiliated with national banks. While they have the freedom to make their own mortgage-qualifying guidelines, you will probably be treated as though you were going through a national bank. You may not get a personal connection, and you will probably be compared to big data rather than your particular circumstance.
- Credit Unions – Credit unions are structured to be not-for-profit, and so may have lower fees. But, you need to know that most credit unions are what is called correspondent lenders. They’ll help you get a mortgage but they are not the lenders and have to follow another lender’s guidelines.
- Mortgage Brokers – Like credit unions, mortgage brokers are not direct lenders. However, they work with many lenders and can help you find a niche loan if you need it. And they help you complete the paperwork. There may be more in upfront fees, however you’re gaining expert knowledge in the mortgage interest market as well as receiving personal assistance.
New Year’s Money Resolutions to Think About
The Wall Street Journal posted an interesting article to get you thinking about ways you can improve your financial health in 2014.
- Make a budget and stick to it
- Pay down debts
- Make an estate plan
- Get serious about retirement
- Get an insurance checkup
- Review your portfolio
- Create an emergency fund
Which will you start with?