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Author Archives: Ryan Tufts

About Ryan Tufts

Ryan Tufts is a HomeOwnership Counselor at HOMEteam. Whether his clients are three months or three years from purchasing their home, Ryan assists clients in developing customized plans leading to home ownership. Ryan also conducts HOMEteam’s Home Buyer Seminars and Financial Capabilities Workshops, guiding clients towards mortgage affordability. He also conducts the Financial Capabilities Seminars and consults Individual Development Account (IDA) clients.

Thinking homeownership is out of reach? Think again.


Saving for a down payment and escalating home prices are two reasons that make it difficult for low income homebuyers to purchase a home.  Did you know that the USDA 502-Direct loan program solves these issues and more for homebuyers?  Designed for low income families purchasing homes in rural areas, this loan offers a 0% down payment, 33 or 38 year terms, and a possible subsidy reducing the interest.   In addition, USDA 502 Direct does not charge for mortgage insurance further increasing the monthly savings! This allows buyers to borrow considerably more than with other loan programs, so they can purchase a safe and quality home.  These amazing terms result in successful homeownership.

In 2016 NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire began accepting applications for this loan as a USDA Loan Packager.  Interested buyers are required to complete Home Buyer Education and Counseling through HOMEteam or a comparable entity. If you or someone you know could benefit from this program please contact Debbie Wheeler or Ryan Tufts at NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire at (603) 626-4663.

How does my credit score affect buying a home?


Tips to build the score you need for the mortgage you want.

Your credit score is an important factor in buying your new home. It helps determine the type of loan you qualify for, the interest rate you pay, how much you can spend on a home, and in some cases if you can buy a home at all.

What is a credit score?

A credit score summarizes the payment and balance information credit reporting agencies collect and intends to reflect your reliability as a borrower.  Credit scores generally range from 300-850.  35% of your credit score is determined by whether or not you pay your bills on time, and another 30% on how you manage balances on credit cards and other debts.  So, if you have a history of late payments or use more than 25% of your available credit, you may have a lower score.  You may also have a low score if you don’t have a long history of borrowing, or have recently opened many new credit accounts.

What credit score do I need to buy a home?

Many New Hampshire Housing lenders will accept applicants with a credit score of 620 or higher on an FHA loan. If you can increase your credit score to 660 or above your lender will have a wider variety of mortgage types to match you up with. This could result in better interest rates, lower mortgage insurance premiums, and lower monthly payments. Keep in mind that your credit score is only one factor in a loan application and the higher your score, the stronger your application. Aim for a score of 720 or higher to build a strong case for an approval.

How can I improve my credit or keep it high?

The best way is to make sure you are current on all your bills, including past debts, and to continue to pay your bills on time.  One $50 collection could have a dramatic impact on your score, so make sure to pay attention to all your debts, even the small ones.  Make an effort to keep credit card balances low.  A high credit card balance in relation to your limit will have a negative impact on your score even if you make your payments on time.

Before applying for a mortgage, request your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can request free reports from all three agencies at, though you will have to pay extra for your scores. Check your reports for inaccuracies and file disputes if necessary.  Also, take advantage of the free credit score estimator and tracker at Credit Karma.  You want to make sure you know what’s on your credit report before visiting a lender to avoid any surprises.

HOMEteam’s Common Cents in Uncommon Times goes even deeper into understanding credit and its impact on obtaining a loan. Sign up for April’s series in Nashua!

Any other ways you keep your credit score up? Leave tips in the comments section below!

All The Small Things


Whether you have long term plans like getting out of debt, creating an emergency savings fund, or buying a home, getting started can be the hardest part. All 14 participants in September’s Common Cents in Uncommon Times series came in with vague long range goals but left knowing exactly where to start. How did they do it?

They did it by setting realistic and specific goals. Instead of trying to complete their financial goals overnight, they uncovered the first steps to making and implementing realistic plans for themselves. For example, if you would like to create a savings account for emergencies, you might be tempted to say to yourself, “I’m going to save $100 a month.” An admirable goal, but is it realistic and specific enough? Not yet!

Consider starting small. Can you cut out $10 a week buying lunch each Thursday, and instead transfer it to a savings account? That’s $40 a month right there! $100 a month wasn’t realistic but $40 certainly is, and you know exactly where it’s coming from. That’s being realistic and specific. After five months of following your plan you have a $200 savings cushion.

By making lunch at home one additional day per week, you just created an emergency savings account stocked with $200. The money didn’t magically appear in your savings account. It only happened because Wednesday night you made your lunch for work the next day instead of getting takeout. Setting specific and realistic targets is what got you there! 14 of our program graduates are getting started today pursuing their goals. How will you get started?

Here are some or specific examples from our last Financial Capabilities Seminar:

“Stop spending $10 a week on lunch at work.”
“Get my credit report at”
“Set aside time to work on my budget once a week.”
“Put $15 extra on my car payment each month.”

How do you plan to reach your goal? Share below in the comments section!

What can I be preapproved for vs. what I can afford.


Everyone answers a simple question at the onset of each Home Buyer Seminar: “How much are you prepared to spend on your monthly mortgage compared to your rent?” The question is simple enough, and answers typically range from $150 less, to about the same, all the way up to whatever it takes. While the whatever it takes responses scare me a bit, most say they are prepared to spend about $200 more on their future mortgage than they are currently paying for rent. $200 seems reasonable enough, right? Let’s take a look.

While ultimately you need a lender’s approval to obtain a mortgage, knowing what you can afford to spend monthly and how that payment fits into your spending plan (or budget) is the best place to start. If you are currently spending $1,000 on rent and you feel you can afford to pay $1,200 on you future mortgage, where is the $200 increase in payment coming from? If you plan on “buckling down” when you move into your new home, why not start now?

Start making those practice payments by saving the difference between your projected mortgage payment and your current rent. If this comes easily, then you know your future payment is truly affordable. If it’s a struggle, consider scaling back your payment limit to something more comfortable. You also have to take into account possible increased utility costs, increased transportation costs if you are increasing your daily commute, and home maintenance and repairs. The last thing you want is to bite off more than you can chew and commit to too large of a monthly payment. The key is to be honest with yourself and the payment you are comfortable with. You don’t want to be “house poor!”

Making practice payments also help you save towards your down payment and closing costs. Not to mention, the habits you’re developing in the meantime will serve you well as a home owner. How are you going to pay for that untimely roof leak? You guessed it, through a rainy day saving account.

Remember to ask the right question, and that you set your own limit. Buying the nicest house on the block has its benefits, but can you truly afford it? Don’t ask your lender “how much will you lend me to buy a home?” First find the answer to “how much can I truly afford?” then go for that preapproval. Having trouble finding where to start? Attend a First Time Home Buyer Seminar, and we will help you get theere!

Seven questions to ask yourself before buying a home


Why do you want to purchase a home?

People buy homes for many reasons: freedom, space, and stability to name a few.  Buying a home takes a considerable amount of your time, energy, and money; you may even feel like you have a new part time job.   There are many ups and downs, but if you are determined, committed, and realistic you will be able to reach your goal.


How much can I afford?

Where you live and the kind of house you purchase depends on what you can truly afford to spend on your monthly mortgage payment. Consider what you are paying for rent now.  Is it manageable?  If you are planning on paying $1,200 a month on your mortgage and your rent is $900, try to make “practice payments” by saving the extra $300 each month.  If this proves difficult, you may need to scale down to a more affordable amount.  Avoid becoming “house poor:” unable to afford anything in life but your mortgage and monthly bills.  There are many mortgage calculators to help determine the monthly cost of home ownership, and determine what price range of homes you find affordable.

Is your financial house in order?

Can you afford to pay all of your monthly bills?   Do have a savings account… with money actually in it?  Have you established a good credit history?  In order to obtain a mortgage preapproval lenders evaluate these three criteria to ensure you have the means not only to purchase the home, but stay in it.  Unsure of where to start?  Attend the next HOMEteam Financial Capabilities seminar to start getting your financial house in order.

Where do I want to live?  What type of house do I need?

There is a great deal of research required before buying a home.  Even if you have a sound budget, make more than you spend and have established a savings, you still need to be aware of how much the right home will cost.  Part of that is deciding what is important to you in buying a home. Do I need a garage? Is the school district important? How many bedrooms do I need for my family? In order to properly answer these questions make a list of wants and needs, find a real estate agent you trust, and start browsing properties online.

Have you considered the hidden costs?

Your mortgage, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes are all expenses you can plan for, but they are not the only costs associated with owning your own home.  The increased cost of utilities in a larger space and the cost maintaining a house can come as a shock to first-time home buyers.  As the owner, you can’t call your landlord when your toilet stops working.  You either have to do it yourself or hire a plumber.  Make sure factor in increased utility costs and include savings in your home owner budget to ensure a smooth transition.

Is now the right time for me to buy a home?

Have you ever heard anybody say “you have to buy now, the market is great” or “it’s a great investment, you have to buy!”  Regardless of what friends, family, and TV talking heads tell you, the best time to buy a home is when you are ready.  It is likely the largest purchase you will ever make, and you want to do it right!

Have you attended a Home Buyer Seminar and met with a Home Ownership Coach?

HOMEteam offers a no cost, comprehensive Home Buyer Seminar available in Nashua, Manchester, or Concord.  In this day-long seminar you’ll learn the steps involved in preparing to purchase a home and meet the professionals who will help you along the way.  After completing the course, return to HOMEteam for personalized Home Ownership Coaching where you will receive a free copy of your credit report with a score, and develop a customized plan leading you to homeownership.   We will work with you through preparing a household spending plan, credit repair or credit building, comparing loan options, and answering all of your questions up through your closing.  If you’d like we can even attend your closing with you!