This program is designed to allow sorority member, family, friends and the communities we serve to be trained on three phases of Home Ownership. Information is available on any one or all three phases

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Establishing Your Credit

Don't have credit, or would like to improve your credit? Building good credit doesn't have to be difficult, but it does require time and patience. Follow these tips and you're on your way:

  • Pay your bills on time. Credit scores emphasize your most recent payment record. Paying on time raises your credit score. If you've been late, start paying on time!

  • Pay at least the minimum amount required. You can always pay more - and it's a good idea if you can afford to. But you should never pay less than the minimum.

  • Keep your credit card balances low. Don't "max out" your credit cards - that can lower your credit score.

  • Don't apply for too many loans or new accounts. Applying for a lot of credit in a short period of time may concern lenders that you won't manage your debt well. Only apply for credit when you need it.

  • Keep your debt-to-income ratio at 20%. Generally, you should not have debt that's more than 20% of your net monthly income.

  • Establish credit if you don't have any. Open a free or low-cost checking or savings account and make regular deposits. Only write checks when you have money to pay for things. And apply for one or two credit cards, use them carefully, and pay them off each month.

What if I have nontraditional credit?

  • If you have nontraditional credit (no bank account or credit cards), your lender will work with you to use payment information such as rent and utilities to determine your creditworthiness.

  • But remember, a bank account is always a good idea and it’s never too late to begin to establish a traditional credit history.

Protecting Your Credit

Two of the most important things you can do to maintain a good credit history are protect your credit rating and protect your privacy.

How can you protect your credit rating?

You need to make careful decisions about how you use credit.

  • Separate your wants from your needs. Having credit can make it easy for you to spend above your means, so you need to set good spending habits.

  • Compare your income to your expenses and set priorities, goals, and limits. Create a budget and stick to it!

  • Pay yourself first; put something in savings every month.

  • Pay your bills, especially your mortgage, on time. Remember, on time means putting your payment in the mail 3 to 5 days before it is due.

  • Get in a routine. Schedule time each month for paying your bills. Use your computer to set up online payments or automatic payments for recurring bills.

  • Limit your number of credit cards and try to pay the balances in full every month. It is easy to treat credit cards like they are lay-away plans. Don't do it! It is an expensive way to pay for things.

  • Get credit counseling if you need it.

How can you protect your privacy?

Identity theft and credit fraud can damage your credit history.

  • Ask "why" when you're asked for personal information. It's your right to know why it's needed, how it will be used, and if you would like to provide personal information.

  • Don't use common passwords, such as your mother's maiden name. This information is not difficult to find and can be used by an identity thief.

  • Don't give out your Social Security or tax ID, PIN, bank account, driver's license, and credit card numbers unless you're absolutely sure how they'll be used. Most companies will allow you to create a password or phrase instead of providing your Social Security number.

  • Be wary of emails from your bank or other organization you do business with asking for you to verify your password. Most banks do not send these types of emails and it is likely the email is a fraud. Do forward the email to the bank or organization in question so they can research the possible fraud.

  • Sign your credit cards and debit cards immediately. If you lose them or they're stolen, anyone can sign and spend freely. In addition to your signature, add "Please Ask For ID" so your photo and signature can be verified.

  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately.

  • Take care when throwing away old bills or papers with private information. Shredding is your best option. Credit card offers and other financial offers should be thrown away with care, as well.

How To Avoid Predatory Lending

Most mortgage lenders and brokers have your best interests in mind. However, there are "predatory lenders" that may try to take advantage of you.

Although predatory lending is not defined by federal law and states define it differently, this type of lending usually involves loans with terms you can't meet – no matter how good the deal sounds – and practices that strip away the equity in your home.

Who do predatory lenders target?

Predatory lenders target elderly and low-income homebuyers, minorities and women, people with less-than-perfect credit, and people who know very little about home loans and mortgages.

These lenders usually tell you that you can get loans with very low monthly payments, refinance your existing mortgage, or take out a loan or second mortgage to help pay for expenses like medical costs and home-improvement work. There are legitimate loans that can help with these things but be sure to research your lender and ask questions. A reputable lender will not mind answering all your questions. If in doubt, go over the loan with a trusted advisor before signing anything.

How can you spot a predatory lender?

Predatory lenders usually offer loans with high interest rates; broker fees, unnecessary costs like pre-paid credit life insurance, and unaffordable repayment terms.

Be suspicious of anyone who offers you "bargain loans," whether they mail or email you an offer, call you on the phone, or come to your door. Avoid promises of "No Credit? Bad Credit? No Problem!" and beware of offers that are only "good for a very short time."

Avoid lenders who encourage you to borrow more than you need or more than the value of the home. Beware of terms that change at the last minute or offer next-day approval based on prepayments or up-front fees.

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