Last updated 8 days ago
If you’re a homeowner, chances are you have a growing list of tasks, repairs, and projects you’ve been meaning to tackle. Whether it’s reorganizing the garage, landscaping, a bathroom remodel, or even simply repairing appliances and fixtures around the house, finding the time and money for these projects can sometimes get in the way of completing them.
Amplify can’t add more hours to your day or more days to your week, but we can offer you some very simple financing options with low rates to make that part of the project easier.
Homeowners Express Loan and Line of Credit
If you need your funds quickly, a Homeowners Express Loan or Line of Credit from Amplify may be a great solution for you. Both options offer low, fixed rates, and you can borrow up to $50,000 without any equity requirements on your home. Funds are typically available within 48 hours of approval, and there are no prepayment penalties for paying the loan off early.
Home Equity Loan and Home Equity Line of Credit
For larger projects that require more than $50,000, look into a Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit from Amplify. Home Equity loan types have even lower rates than the Express Loans because the loan is secured by your homestead and must comply with the State of Texas’ Home Equity laws. The maximum loan amount (or line of credit limit) depends upon the available equity in your home, and the loan funding process can take up to 3 weeks. There are no prepayment penalties for paying the loan off early. Additionally, if this Equity loan will be your first lien, there may be escrow requirements. Check with an AMP for more information.
Compare Amplify’s loan rates.
Other Ways to Finance Home Improvement Projects
Your home improvement supply store may offer a "project loan" or credit card with 0% APR introductory rate, but if you consider it, be sure to read the fine print. Many 0% offers expire after a certain date or have other stipulations that must be met in order to qualify. It is important to also know what your interest rate will be after the 0% offer expires -- most credit card rates average 12- 14% APY which is much higher than what Amplify offers.
Home Equity Loans: The maximum amount you can borrow with a Home Equity Loan is 80% of the fair market value of your home, as long as the combined loan-to-value does not exceed 80% in cases where there is an existing first lien mortgage on the home. Interest on your equity loan may be tax deductible. Consult your tax advisor for details. Property insurance required.
Home Equity Lines of Credit: The maximum amount you can borrow with a Home Equity Line of Credit is 50% of the fair market value of your home, as long as the combined loan-to-value does not exceed 80% in cases where there is an existing first lien mortgage on the home. The state of Texas requires a minimum amount of $4000 for each advance made against a Home Equity Line of Credit. Maximum annual percentage rate 17.00%. Interest rate is variable. Interest on your equity line of credit may be tax deductible. Consult your tax advisor for details. Property insurance required.
Last updated 14 days ago
This article covers the advantages and how-tos of claiming a homestead exemption in the state of Texas (specifically, Travis County).
Why do homestead exemptions matter?
A homestead exemption will reduce your local property taxes. In Texas specifically, the property code “allows homeowners to designate their homesteads to protect them from a forced sale to satisfy creditors.” [Travis County Appraisal District FAQs] However, the law does not protect homeowners from tax foreclosure sales of their home in the event that taxes are not paid.
Do I qualify for a homestead exemption?
If you own your home and it is your principal residence (meaning you reside there for more than 50% of the year), you likely qualify for a homestead exemption in your county.
If you own multiple properties, you can only claim a homestead exemption on one of those properties – even if they are in other states.
How do I apply?
Complete and return the Application for Residence Homestead Exemption for the county you live in. Be sure to also read the FAQ page of your county’s Appraisal District website.
Other helpful tidbits
Your driver’s license address should match the property address for which you are applying for the exemption. You can include a copy of that driver’s license or a copy of the application for your new one.
If you are age 65 or older, disabled, or a veteran, you may qualify for additional exemptions. Read the full application for more details.
Owners of manufactured homes must provide additional documentation. If you live in Travis County, you must also have the affidavit at the end of the application notarized.
Last updated 1 month ago
Austin’s housing market and economy is booming right now. Countless sources are naming Austin as one of the top places in the United States to live because of the high quality of life and strong economy. It is estimated that as many as 110 people move to Austin every day, which is making our housing market extremely competitive.
Another factor adding to the rising market is the limited number of available homes in the Austin area. Home builders significantly reduced their activity during the Recession, and now they are playing catch-up, trying to provide inventory to the 110 people that are moving to Austin every day, as well as the people that already live here.
Tips to buy a home in Austin right now:
GET PREAPPROVED before you shop for homes – find a lender first, and get fully preapproved. You must be able to prove you can qualify for that house by already having the preapproval lined up, or a realtor will not present an offer on your behalf (and the seller probably won’t accept an offer). The market is too competitive right now, and other pre-approved buyers are anxious to make an offer as well.
Pick a lender that will help you close on time – the market is moving quickly, and no one is waiting for anyone. Make sure your lender is ready to move forward closing the loan as soon as your offer is accepted.
Improve your credit score – it is the key driver for your interest rate. A 680 credit score will pay as much as $28,000 more (over the life of the loan, assuming a 30-year term) for the same mortgage as someone with a 720 credit score. Improve your credit score before you get pre-approved to ensure you get the best interest rate possible.
Amplify Credit Union’s very own Sr. Vice President of Lending, Kendall Garrison, sat down with My Fox Austin to talk about Austin’s competitive housing market. Watch the full video here: http://bit.ly/MqoQWU
Last updated 1 month ago
Unless you have the cash or savings to pay your credit card balance off entirely, you may need to think about refinancing. Because credit cards are unsecured loans, meaning there is no collateral securing the loan (like a car), finding a lender to approve this new unsecured debt may be challenging. Additionally, unsecured loan rates tend to be somewhat high compared to other options that may be available to you.
Do you own your auto free and clear?
If so, ask your credit union or bank about doing a clear title loan to pay off your credit card debt. It may seem crazy to take out a car loan after you worked so hard to pay it off, but look at it this way – your credit card rate is likely upwards of 15% APR, but a car loan could be as low as 4% APR (or even lower, depending on your credit score). By turning your credit card debt into a car loan and making the same payment every month, more money is going to principal, and therefore you’ll get rid of the balance MUCH faster than keeping it on the credit card. Check out this video to see how it works: http://bit.ly/1aa1ri4.
Are you a homeowner?
If so, you have even more financing options available to you, such as a home equity loan or line of credit. Equity loans offer the lowest rates available, but they can take several weeks to fund, and they require a lien on your home. If saving money is the name of the game, this is your best option. If you need the funds quickly or don’t qualify for an equity loan, Amplify also offers a Homeowners Express Loan and Line of Credit that have lower rates than most credit cards. Check out our infographic that compares all four of these options: http://bit.ly/19Tad9J.
If you don’t have collateral to secure the loan against, talk to your bank or credit union about ways to tackle your balances the old fashioned way. There are countless strategies and philosophies you can research and adopt to fit your situation. The most important part of lowering your credit card balances is self-discipline. You must be able to stick to your payoff plan and commit to not adding additional money to the balance.
Last updated 1 month ago
If you’re like the majority of Americans, you may be carrying some credit card debt. Sure, it seems like a manageable amount, and maybe you even have a 3-year or 5-year plan to pay it off. However, if you’re carrying a credit card balance from month to month, you could be paying as much as 18% APR on that balance every month. And if you’re only paying the minimum amount due on your credit card bill, you could actually be digging yourself into an even deeper hole.
As a general rule of thumb, try not to allow your total credit card balances to exceed 30% of your cumulative credit card limits. In other words, if you have 3 credit cards each with a $10,000 limit (i.e. $30,000 total limit), the total balance of those 3 cards should not exceed $9,000. If it does, your credit score may begin to suffer, and your interest rates may start increasing. Check out this handy infographic that covers credit card basics: http://bit.ly/1aIv6yX.
In order to take full advantage of credit card rewards and offers without paying interest on a balance, only charge as much per month to your credit card as you’ll be able to pay off within 30 days. If you pay your balance in full without carrying it over to the next billing cycle, you can avoid paying finance charges while still racking up airline miles and other rewards.