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7 Things Your Estate Planner Wants You to Know Before You Die

DNY59/iStock Very few people would call estate planning fun. In fact, we’re pretty sure none would. It’s the perfect combo of everything terrifying: lawyers, taxes, and death. Yeesh. Unfortunately, estate planning is a legal necessity—unless you’re hoping to drive your beloved family members into a no-holds-barred catfight over assets after your death. In which case, drop lots …

How to Find Small Home Loans: Mortgage Advice for Real Bargains

simarik/iStock You might think searching for a small home loan is easy. Maybe you’re buying a foreclosure, or other bona fide bargain—or saved enough to make a larger-than-average down payment. So, all you need is just $30,000 or $40,000 to close this deal. Lenders will love you, right? Well, not necessarily. Problem is, lenders are often reluctant to give out small home …

How Your Mortgage Affects Your Credit and Vice Versa

Obtaining a home loan can have a variety of consequences for your credit score, and your credit score can have a variety of consequences on your mortgage. Here’s what you need to know about credit when shopping for a home. The Effect of Mortgage Applications and Inquiries When you apply for a loan or for …

When and How to Refinance a Home: A Primer for Homeowners

stevanovicigor/iStock Whether you’ve been a homeowner for a few years or more than a decade, you may consider refinancing your home loan when mortgage rates dip. If you’ve never refinanced before, there are a few basic facts you need to know about how to refinance a home before you can decide if it’s right for you. …

The Earnest Money Deposit: How It Helps Buy a Home

aydinmutlu/iStock What is earnest money? Depositing earnest money is an important part of the home-buying process. It tells the real estate seller you’re in earnest as a buyer, and it helps fund your down payment. The earnest money check is typically cashed and held in a title company trust account, or in the broker’s escrow account. You get a receipt …

New Rules Could Change Your Jumbo Mortgage Options

Jumbo loans—high dollar loans typically starting at $417,000 in most areas or as high as $625,501 in higher-cost markets—will see a lot of changes in 2014. In response to the housing crisis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, acting under the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, now requires the majority of mortgages to be “qualified” by specific standards. If you’re in …

7 Home Loans for Teachers (and How to Apply for Them)

photo: Monashee Frantz/Getty Imageshouse outline: Greg Chow People, we have a crisis on our hands: a teacher crisis. One reason for the squeeze: real estate. Rising housing costs and interest rates can prevent teachers from getting a mortgage and living in the districts they serve, creating a lack of teachers everywhere, from Seattle to San Francisco, …