Let's Move In!
Congratulations on signing your lease! We are excited to have you in the program and look forward to working with you over the next 24 months! Before moving in, there are a few key things to make sure to do:
- Make sure you receive a copy of your lease. This will be uploaded to your portal upon closing so you'll always have a copy in case it gets misplaced.
- Take time to work with your real estate agent to do a final walk through of your new home with you prior to closing (make sure to document critical items like water shut off locations).
- Be sure to make your first month's lease payment no later than 5 days prior to closing. Making this payment late will likely delay your move in.
- After closing and your first payment is confirmed, you will receive your keys from your real estate agent. Once you have the keys, then you are all set to move in!
- After moving in make sure you're set up in Trio's payment portal. We encourage you to set up auto payments to ensure your monthly payments are paid on time.
- Remember, it's expensive to move. Make sure you've allocated enough funds for your first month's payment, HOA dues, utility setup, and any moving expenses you require.
If you think you may face some difficulties in making your first payment we would love to get you in contact with one of our servicing/counseling partners. Counselors are available to discuss any concerns, walk through potential missteps, or provide any other housing support needed and can be reached at 877-349-4447.
Before you move in, the team at MMI will be reaching out to you via phone to go over a few basics. If you miss their call, please call 877-349-4447 to speak with a counselor.
Staying ahead of the trouble is key to not getting behind.
Two months in and you are rocking it.
Let's check some updates to your progress
- First month's payment made on-time? Great!
- Enrolled in auto-pay? Even better!
- Prepared a budget? If not, then let's take a look together.
Now that you are in your home, let's take a moment to talk about the importance of a budget.
Learning how to effectively budget, plan, and manage your money is the single most important thing you will learn while being a Trio customer!
3 tips to help you budget successfully while being a Trio customer:
- Develop a budget where every dollar is accounted for each month. Keep track on a simple spreadsheet or use one of the many electronic apps (like Mint). It's easy to spend a few dollars here & there that end up adding up to hundreds of dollars by the end of the month.
- Start planning for big or unexpected purchases now. Ensure you think ahead and set aside funds for big expenses like braces for your child or gifts for the Holidays.
- Live by your calendar! Know what expenses are set for which times of the month and ensure you match these with your payroll deposits. This strategy will help you avoid costly bank fees.
It's month three and we'd like to hear from you.
You've been part of the program for three months now - let us know how you are doing!
There are millions of first-time homebuyers every year and they all share the same steps in your journey. We need your help to make the program better. Please share your newfound expertise with them (and with us) by filling out our brief survey using the button below.Take the Month 3 Survey
Check In Time!
Be on the lookout for a phone call from one of our dedicated Housing Counselors. We wanted to take some time to address any questions or concerns you have had throughout the leasing process. If you haven't received a call yet, please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
If we are unable to reach you, don't worry, our counselors will try again at another time.
Thanks so much for your time and effort. We will reach out to you again in a few months to touch base and see how you are doing!
Five Months Goes by Fast.
How are you settling in? Let's take a look at keeping up with home maintenance.
Trio's Home Care Guide posted to your portal provides all of the details, but it's never a bad idea to go over the highlights.
First and foremost, review your home warranty. This warranty is included with your Trio lease and covers most of the major items in your home.
To remind you how maintenance works with Trio, lets review maintenance categories and the areas you, as a Trio customer, are responsible for:
- General maintenance is your responsibility - just like owning a home. Check your follow up items noted in your home inspection and make sure to complete.
- If something stops working, like an A/C or appliance, call your warranty provider. You are likely covered for the repair less the warranty service charge. Review your warranty for details.
- For major damage to your home, contact Trio's maintenance center as its likely covered by the hazard insurance policy.
The team at MMI will be reaching out to you via phone to go over a few maintenance basics and help answer any questions. If you miss their call, please call 877-349-4447 to speak with a counselor.
In all cases, reporting maintenance concerns is your responsibility. As a general rule, the earlier the notice, the less costly the fix.
Month 6! A half a year!
That means 6 months of on-time lease payments. 6 months of getting to know your future home!Congratulations, that's a big deal.
Let's take a minute to review what you have learned so far.
- Getting into your home.
- Learning the importance of budgeting.
- Meeting your homeownership coach.
- Staying on top of maintenance issues.
These past few months have flown and before you know it, it'll be time to complete the purchase the home. There are a few key steps to prepare for the future purchase.
- Payments: Make them on time - 24 months of on time payments is what lenders want to see. If you have not already, sign up for auto-pay to help build a secure payment history.
- Savings: Work on your budget and ensure you are saving enough to purchase.
- Credit: Use available tools like HLP.guru to monitor your credit and make on time payments for all your credit lines. Missing a credit card or loan payment can set you back quite a few points & take a few months to recover. If it happens - don't worry - there's always a way forward. Chat with our housing counselors to discuss options.
- Stability: Maintain a healthy home that increases your home's value. Taking care of minor leaks or small home issues can save you a lot of time & money later.
You're well on your way towards your homeownership goal! It will be here before you know it. But in the meantime, don't hesitate to reach out to your coach for any questions or discussions. Trio and HLP are here to help you be even more successful.
Seven Months - Resist the Urge to Buy
Now that you have lived in your home for a few months, you may have found yourself thinking about buying new furniture or upgrading your appliances.
While making your space perfect for you can be an exciting experience, be sure to keep your money savviness about you.
Here are a few smart ways to update your home without causing you trouble down the road:
1. Understand the difference between luxury and necessity.
It';s one thing to want that $3,000 purple velvet couch, but it's another to think you need it. Our advice? Start small, update accent pieces, and when you're financially ready, purchase one main housing item at a time. Additionally, 2nd-hand furniture can be a great source of good quality furniture at an affordable price.
2. You should not open new lines of credit or credit cards without talking to your coach.
Sometimes moving into a new home feels like everything is a necessity all at once. That feeling can lead you to contemplate opening a new credit card to refurbish your home. While this is an understandable feeling, making a big purchase on a credit card intending to pay it off soon is an easy way to accidentally find yourself in debt. Resist the urge & instead save up for those big purchases so that you can be financially ready.
If you have any concerns about your personal credit cars or budget, please reach out to the team at Money Management International and speak to a counselor. Email email@example.com or call 877-349-4447.
Month 8 - Check In Time!
Be on the lookout for a phone call from one of our trained and dedicated Housing Counselors. We wanted to take some time to check in and answer any questions or concerns you have had throughout the leasing process. If you haven't received a call yet, please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we are unable to reach you, don't worry, our counselors will try again.
Thanks so much for your time and effort. We look forward to speaking with you soon!
Month 9 - Savings, Seasoning, and a Survey.
If you haven't done so already, it's time to start saving! Setting aside funds is a process that pays off the sooner that you begin. At this point, you should be allocating a certain amount of your monthly income to your savings goal and recording that on your monthly budget.
In addition to the obvious ways to save, there are some other non-traditional ways to save that most people don't think about:
- Maintain and grow your home's market value. - Staying on top of repairs & taking care of your property is a great way to keep the home's value.
- Improve your credit score - With a better score you will qualify for better loan interest rates, which can save you a lot of money over time.
- Check out local down payment saving match programs - There's a lot of opportunities out there to receive additional down payment resources to help with the purchase of your dream home. Depending on your location there could be additional opportunities in your area.
Seasoning is the act of providing time to prove that either savings or your income is going to last and is not temporary. Lenders want to know that your savings has been in your accounts for a while and not just transferred in overnight. They also want to know that your income is stable.
Lenders do this by reviewing multiple years of income and consecutive months of bank statements. They look at average balances and large deposits to confirm the funds in the accounts don't have any signs of unusual activity. If you have new income or a second job, they want to know that you can rely on this income source to make your payments.Take the Month 3 Survey
Ten months in the books. Let's discuss credit card debt.
All of your bills are being paid on time and you've even managed to start an emergency fund. Now is the perfect time to take another look at credit card debt.
When it comes to your credit, it's important to know where you stand. What is your credit rating? Excellent credit? Poor credit? The importance of having a good credit score can't be understated. A swing of ten to twenty points can be the difference in qualifying for that low APR refinance and ultimately saving yourself thousands of dollars over several years. Here are some quick tips to keep up on your credit:Request a copy of your credit score report - and make sure it is correct.
Your credit report illustrates your credit performance, and it needs to be accurate so that you can apply for other loans - such as a mortgage. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy of his or her credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies, but you must go through the FTC's website at www.annualcreditreport.com
Set up automatic bill pay.
Payment history makes up roughly 35 percent of your credit score depending on the model used. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your score. Avoid missed payments by setting as many of your bills to automatic pay as possible. Minimum automatic payments are a great way to make sure you are covered even if you forget to pay the full balance that month.
Keep balances low on credit cards and 'revolving credit.'
Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your scores by limiting your charges to 30 percent or less of a card's limit. For example, if your credit limit is $1000, the best practice is to keep the card to under $300 in purchases per billing cycle.
Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.
Keep this in mind the next time a retailer offers you 10 percent off if you open an account. However, if you need a new line of credit, don't jump at the first appealing offer; compare rates and fees offered through mail solicitation, on the Internet or at your local bank.
And remember, talk to a credit counselor if you're in trouble.
Our certified, non-profit counseling agents that have been in contact with you can help you manage your debt and won't hurt your credit score. If you haven't spoken to us yet or heard from us, then please reach out to us at email@example.com and let us know your availability.
What steps are you taking to improve your credit score?
This month, the team at MMI will be reaching out to you via phone to go over best practices and help answer any questions. If you miss their call, please call 877-349-4447 to speak with a counselor.
Eleven months down - almost a year!
Now that you're familiar with soft and hard credit pulls, let's dive into credit scores in general.
Yes, the higher the number the better. But what does this number really mean? Does it really make that big of a difference? Especially when it comes to home buying?
Your score matters, but maybe not to the degree you've been told.
Investopedia proclaims a credit score is a "statistical number that evaluates a consumer's creditworthiness and is based on credit history." This basically means that you have a number assigned to you that tells potential lenders if you're likely to payoff the loan. The higher the number, the more likely (statistically) that you are to be able to pay back the loan and therefore, the less risk you are to the lender. This means more people will want to lend to you and with less safeguards, like higher interest rates.
In short, a higher credit score can lead to lower interest rates, which means money back in your pocket.
Don't let a number scare you. the average credit score of individuals below 40 is in the 630 range. The average credit score for approved borrowers is still well over 700. Fortunately, the mortgages that Trio uses accept credit scores down to 580 as long as other key indicators (like payment history) to be in great shape. That's why it is so important to have a steady payment history when it comes time to close.
Fortunately, you have time to build your credit score to help you be better qualified during your Trio lease.
Once you have a handle on how this credit score thing works, don't forget that you're going to need savings in this home journey as well. While it might be tempting to pay all your debt off right away, remember that savings will keep you from diving more deeply into debt if an emergency arises. Also, banks determine your mortgage eligibility by not only credit scores, but how much cash you have in the bank and your work history.
Our suggestion - raise your credit and your savings. Yes, both can be done! And we're here to help you do it.
If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations on your 1-year Anniversary!
You've gained an immense amount of knowledge in your first year and you are taking the right steps in planning for your future. The next big step is long-term financial security. Being secure enough to enjoy your life through retirement is usually the last thing on your mind. With the stress of all of the expensive "firsts" - like becoming a homeowner! - it's hard to think about long term saving. However, working toward financial security isn't nearly as hard as people assume. You've already started on the right path through this first year! Here are some tips to help you out:
Recognize Your Most Important Financial Asset: Yourself
Your skills, knowledge and experience are the biggest assets you have. Look at yourself as a financial asset. Investing in yourself will pay off in the future. Increase your value through hard work, continual upgrading of skills and knowledge and by making smart career choices. Efforts to improve your career can have a far bigger impact on your financial security than tightening your belt and trying to save more.
Become a Planner, Not a Saver
Research has shown that those who plan for the future end up with more wealth than those who do not. Successful people are goal oriented: they set goals and develop a plan to achieve them. For example, if you set a goal to pay off your largest credit card debt in a year, you'll have a better chance of achieving this goal than you would if you merely said you wanted to pay off all of your credit cards, but failed to set a timetable.
Even the process of writing down some goals will help you to achieve them. Being goal-oriented and following a plan means taking control of your life. It is an important step toward improving your financial independence and security.
Set Short-Term Goals - Long-Term Goals Will Take Care of Themselves
Life holds many uncertainties - and a lot can change between now and 30 years from now. As such, the prospect of planning far into the future is a daunting task for young investors. Rather than setting long-term goals, set a series of small short-term goals that are both measurable and precise. As you achieve your short-term goals, set new ones. The constant setting and achieving of short-term goals will ensure that you reach your longer-term goals.
How are you setting and meeting your long term goals?
What Does it Take to Qualify For a Mortgage?
We know time is valuable and completing our program is a commitment. You're over halfway there and hopefully you're feeling more confident in your home purchasing journey and overall financial understanding.
Talking about the home purchasing journey, it is time to start looking at your mortgage qualifiers and how you're stacking up.
Credit goal: 660+ minimum FICO credit score
Income: Documented income supported by pay stubs and tax returns for 2+ years
Savings: Cash or investments equal to your down payment and closing costs
Housing History: 24 months of on-time payments on your Trio lease
No Big Gotchas: 3 years past any bankruptcy, housing event or big negative credit action
Purchase Assistance: Pay your payments to Trio on time and earn down payment funds
Based on the above, do feel like you are on track to qualify for a mortgage? If not, reach out to us and we can connect you with the right resources.
If things are still a little fuzzy or you think you're not going to qualify by the end of your lease, now is a good time to call your counselor or coach and discuss your concerns with them 877-349-4447.
Check in Time
It's check in time! How's your credit progress going?
Need a refresher on credit topics we've discussed?
Review month 6 - Steps to Prepare for Future Purchase.
Review month 10 - Credit Card Debt
Review month 12 - Goal Setting
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do I know my credit score?
- Have I reviewed the details of my free credit report? Is everything accurate?
- Do I understand how my credit rating will impact my ability to qualify?
- Do I know what to do to improve and/or maintain my score?
- Do I know what not to do to negatively impact my score?
If the answer to any of these questions is 'no', then discuss with your coach on your next call.
That's it for this month!
This month, you get to inform us!
Instead of sharing with you, it's your turn to share with us! Please take a quick 5 minutes and answer the following questions at the link below. Your answers are confidential and will not be used outside of training purposes.
Income Tax Review
"Taxes" and "Internal Revenue Service" provoke universal dread. Don't let this be you! Filing your taxes the right way is as important as your credit score - especially if you have a second job or a business.
This month, we're taking the scary out of taxes and putting the power of knowledge in your hands - yes, we're talking to you, whether you earn a paycheck each month or are self-employed!
The key line on your tax return is your Federal Adjusted Gross Income. Cross check this against your W2 earnings if it's greater than your W2 total, no worries. If it's less, talk to your coach and have them review sooner than later.
If you have your own business and file more than one type of tax return, it gets more complicated. For self employment income or new careers, you will need 2 years of consecutive income for it to count toward your mortgage qualification. Your net income from self-employment plus your other earnings is whats used by mortgage companies to qualify you for a mortgage.
For most of you, the critical item is filing your taxes on time and ensuring your tax bill is paid each year. Because, if you owe the IRS and they have a collection action against you, you won't qualify for a mortgage until the issue is settled.
Act early and act often if you have any concerns about your taxes. If you are self-employed or have 1099 income you will need more documentation than a W2 earner.
This year, take tax season by storm as you prepare for filing and your upcoming mortgage.
Purchasing from Trio
As you work toward your mortgage qualification, let's take this month to discuss your two main options in purchasing your home from Trio.
The three ways you can purchase your home include:
- Paying cash (most of us don't have a few hundred thousand sitting around...)
- Financing with a traditional mortgage
- Financing by assuming the OwnOption Mortgage
Purchasing with cash is quick and easy, but since most of us don't have a few hundred thousand sitting around, let's focus on traditional mortgage financing and assuming the ownoption mortgage.
Under either scenario, before Trio will begin working on your purchase, you must first work with your coach to confirm your likelihood to qualify. Then you must make application with our preferred lender who is the only provider that can work with you on an assumption. See your lease details under purchase option and assumable mortgage for details.
A new mortgage will have today's interest rate and include an entirely new set of closing costs. It is going to be more expensive than assuming, but if interest rates have gone down since your lease started, it may be a good option. Use your earned Home Purchase Assistance from Trio to help.
Assuming the existing loan is the most cost effective and least timely option. A new appraisal is not required and our lenders agreed to fix their costs as low as possible. Plus, the interest rate and term transfers to you at assumption. Ask us if your lease is eligible for down payment assistance.
Once you are ready, let your coach know.
Review Budget vs Goals
Goals are a powerful motivator that empower us to reach our bigger aspirations. They help us work towards something in the future, give us something to celebrate when we've reached them, and remind us what we choose today will make a difference tomorrow.
Overall, goals are the keys to hitting our long-term dreams.
However, let's not get them confused with the weekly and monthly action steps of budgeting. Budgeting is not just a goal, but a tool that we must use in order to make our goals become reality.
While yes, we can factor goals into our budget - we should consider maintaining our budget as law, as an essential life requirement.
Planning is great! Doing is better. Think of budgeting as action and goals as vision.
And if you're needing a reminder or a little motivation to get back into the budgeting habit, review your written budget. Better yet, sign up for Mint or Every Dollar and watch the money game every day from your own smartphone.
It's almost 2 years since you took the first step of starting your lease-to-own journey with us. And, it's been almost 2 years of participating in our counseling program.
This is no easy thing. It has required commitment, financial awareness, and steadfastness in your decision to become a homeowner. Basically, you're winning the own-your-home race and have come a long way, bravo!
To keep you motivated to the finish line, we would like to share with you Trisha's story.
Grab yourself a hydrating drink and keep up the pace, you're almost there!
Lookout for a Call From Us
This month we will be contacting you to discuss your overall progress toward your goal of home ownership. Expect a call from your coach. We are here to help you make your home yours!
If you have not heard from us already, then call 877-349-4447 & schedule a time.
Keep making your payments on-time and avoid any major purchases or increasing your credit card debt. Every month counts!
Healthy Home Checkups
Time brings wisdom. And wisdom reminds you to review your Home Care Guide and do a walk through of your home for any obvious maintenance items. If you haven't taken a look for a while, your Home Care Guide is in your online portal.
We are all so accustomed to scheduled maintenance for our cars, we should do the same for our homes. Preventative maintenance is critical in increasing your home's value and avoiding costly repairs in the future.
Use your Healthy Home Checkups wisely. Ask questions of these maintenance experts. Find out answers to any of your questions about maintenance or just best practices in helping prevent costly repairs.
With scheduled maintenance checks and a lot of love, your home can remain close to new for many years to come. Now, if only our Aunt Betsy would age as gracefully...
Last Checkpoint: Ready?
Are you excited? Nervous? Ready to purchase now? Or, wishing you had a few extra months?
This is an excellent time to have an honest talk with yourself and realize where you're at in your home purchasing journey.
The goal of Trio and MMI is to help our customers thrive. Not just at purchasing a home, but also in life in general. While we are sure you've been keeping up with our program and finalizing all remaining items to move into a mortgage, we also know sometimes life happens.
If you're feeling nervous or not quite ready, be sure to call your coach, and they will be happy to help you realign and find a plan to get you back on track - even that means extending your counseling time.
This is a big decision, and we want you to know you don't have to do it alone. Let your counselor know your questions or concerns.
If you're good to go - take a breath and look forward to next month where we will cover all the requirements of a mortgage.
Getting ready for you...
Preparing for your Mortgage Application
This month it's time to prepare you for the final step in your path with Trio - transitioning from a lease to a mortgage.
Fortunately, with Trio, you will have the option to qualify to assume Trio's OwnOption Mortgage and utilize the equity you have been building in your home; or, you can use a new mortgage to purchase. We are here to help you with your options and help you make the best decision for you.
So you are prepared when you are ready to begin the qualification process, here's some of what you'll need to apply:
- 2 months pay stubs, 2 months bank and investment statements, W-2 for most recent year.
- Bank and/or investment statements that document the source of your down payment
- Verification of employment, employer contact information
- 24 months housing payment history (will be provided by Trio)
We are here to help you make the right decision for you when you are ready. Your lease has a total of 36 months built-in so you have the time to be prepared with the best options. Trio includes an OwnOption Mortgage with every lease that you can qualify to assume when you purchase. If interest rates have gone up, we have you covered.
For additional information on Trio's OwnOption Mortgage, review our website.
For additional tips on mortgages in general.
Working with your Lender and Closing Procedures
Well, 24 months of work is complete. We are here for you as you work through the last months of your lease toward purchasing your home.
Now, to help you get ready to purchase, here are a few final tips on working with a lender and what to avoid before you are officially qualified to buy and take ownership.
- Keep up on your on-time monthly payments
- Don’t make any significant purchases
- Keep your balances low on your credit cards
- Maintain your home for lender appraisal to maximize value
- Save, save, save
- Know how much Trio home purchase assistance you have earned
- Start working with our lender early
- Fix any last minute credit issues
- Avoid changes in employment or career changes
- Keep cash in your bank accounts to backup any required down payment
On behalf of all of us at Trio and MMI, it has been our honor and pleasure to serve you in your homeownership journey. We are thrilled to see another community member on their way to becoming a home owner. We look forward to staying connected with you during your last year of your lease or then again after you purchase.
Trio includes 12 months of additional counseling once you buy. Your team at Trio and MMI are here to assist you on your path. Call us anytime at 877-349-4447.
Congratulations for finishing our 24th month of counseling. Nice work!