Banking

How to Avoid Home Foreclosure

Foreclosure is a potentially devastating problem that faces homeowners. When a homeowner is not able to pay the mortgage loan, the bank will reclaim the mortgage property. This is the beginning of a foreclosure proceeding. Foreclosure can occur suddenly. If the financial situation of the homeowner changes, he could be facing the real danger of losing his property.

Before foreclosure happens, it is important that the homeowner takes steps to avoid this problem. Here are some steps to prevent this from occurring:

1. Get a fixed interest rate.

A variable interest rate on your mortgage is highly unstable. If changes in the economy occur, the rates could shoot up in an instant especially during economic recession. When this occurs, the monthly payments that the homeowner has to pay will rise drastically to the extent that the he could no longer afford it.

To avert this potential disaster, it is a good idea to get a fixed rate on the mortgage loan. A fixed rate will remain the same even if market situation changes. This means you know exactly how much monthly premium you need to pay each and every month. And, you need not worry about fluctuations in the economy because your interest rates on loans will be unchanged.

2. Dialogue with lender.

If you lose your job and you think you cannot make monthly payments anymore, it is good to arrange a dialogue with the lender or bank before the problem becomes full-blown. Talk to the creditor about your financial situation. And give him a satisfactory and valid reason explaining why you cannot pay monthly premiums. The lender might take into consideration your reason and give you a grace period, enough time for you to secure the money for payment.

3. Debt forgiveness.

This is one option that a debtor may resort to if he has a very considerate lender. A lender might waive your missed payments once he hears your reason. This is called debt forgiveness which seldom happens but it is a possible solution. However, you must agree to pay the monthly premium after the missed payments are waived.

4. Loan repayment plan.

This is another option that a homeowner can request from a lender. In this plan, the payments that the homeowner missed will be divided into easy to pay monthly plan. This way, he can catch up with the monthly premium payments.

5. Loan modification.

This is another option available for homeowners to evade foreclosure. In this process, the homeowner will negotiate with the bank for lower interest rates or lower monthly premiums. This will make the payments more affordable for the homeowner who is in a temporary financial bind.

6. Short sale.

The house is sold before reaching the point of foreclosure. This way, the homeowner is able to pay the debt in full. Sometimes, the sale price of the home could be lower than the actual mortgage. It is good to discuss this with the bank. The bank might accept the amount and forgive the unpaid balance.

7. Foreclosure mediation.

An arbitrator acts as the mediator between the homeowner and the bank. The meeting between the debtor and lender will focus on the reduction of principal or interest or issuing deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

An Introduction to Online Banking

Online banking has many online benefits and may be one of the best financial moves a student can make. John Schickedanz, a personal banker and consumer lender for MidWestOne Bank in Iowa City, has given his insight and advice when it comes to this new mode of banking. Online banking establishes many benefits. “After you establish your online banking account,” Schickedanz explains, “you can transfer funds between accounts, set up automatic payments and transfers, access Bill Pay, view all statements within the last 18 months, view images of the checks you’ve written, and place a hold on a check you’ve written.” The account holder is able to check their account 24 hours a day. This allows you to better protect yourself against fraud. In his professional opinion, Schickedanz believes this to be one of the best features of online banking.

One common misconception of online banking is that it will be difficult to maneuver. College students, however, tend to find the process extremely easy and usable due to their advanced knowledge of new and different forms of technology. Schickedanz highly recommends online banking to all college students. College students are busy; there is no denying that. Between work, classes, exams, social lives, we can hardly find time to breathe, let alone make it to the bank. “Online banking gives them a resource to review their banking history from the convenience of their own homes,” Schickedanz says. MidWest One bank also offers Mobile Banking Services. Through this program you can view your account through a smart phone as text message, downloadable application, or mobile webpage. This service even has a built in protection plan, allowing you to access your account safely while on the go.

As an avid user of online banking, I discovered just how much I need my online account when my debit card was stolen out of my car three years ago. By checking my online account, I was able to see where my card had been used and how much was spent. After cancelling the card over the phone, the thief was no longer able to use the card and the rest of my money was safe. If I had not had my online banking account, I would not have realized my card had been stolen as soon as I had and would not have been able to take the steps that I did to protect myself.

Through my online account, I take advantage of the automatic withdraw that comes along with online banking. After transferring a specific sum into a new savings account, I set up a monthly $25 withdraw from my checking account into my savings account. I can view the growth of both accounts through my online banking account. This route of savings also comes highly recommended by Schickedanz.

“We have become a society that finds it very difficult to save money. Let’s be honest, we all enjoy going on shopping sprees and don’t have time to come in to the bank to set aside money. By establishing a free, recurring, automatic transfer, you can ensure that money is automatically put aside for a rainy day. In addition, if you establish Bank Your Change at MidWestOne, each transaction made using your debit card is rounded up to the next whole dollar. Then the rounded amount is transferred to your savings free of charge. By creating this type of transfer, you save money without even thinking about it.”

As a college student, my online banking account has not only saved me time, it has also saved me money. It is a feature that all students should look for when choosing and opening a bank account.

Banks vs. Credit Unions

Before starting a savings account, making investments, and making your own financial plan, you have one choice to make. Should you put your trust in a bank or a credit union? From the outside, the two financial institutions appear the same. What you do not know, however, could be the difference between becoming a member of a local bank or the local credit union.

Charles Funk, president and chief executive officer of MidWestOne Bank in Iowa City, Iowa delves into the subject.

“From the outside, banks and credit unions look basically the same,” Funk says of the two financial institutions. However, there is one distinct difference. Credit unions were created with the goal and mission to serve the under served. Taking a quick look at how credit unions have grown into a large brand shows how the original goal has been strayed from.

Banks have common stock and shareholders, whereas credit unions have members instead of shareholders. This also means that, unlike banks, credit unions do not pay income taxes. This allows them to use more of the money the collect for profit.

Banks and credit unions both offer similar services, from checking to savings accounts but how they operate on the inside is not as similar as the outside appears.

When it comes down to it, the choice between using a bank or credit union is up to the student. The thing to remember is to check all available options and find the one that works best for you.