Why You Can’t Trust Online Mortgage Comparisons

Yesterday, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau revealed the results of their investigation on those online mortgage shopping platforms. Here’s what the CFPB found about many of them:



This reinforces what I’ve been saying since 2007: Stop clicking on those mortgage ads you see online!

Federal law states that it is illegal to coerce anyone to use a particular lender. Federal law also states that receiving “anything of value” (even one penny) in exchange for recommending a particular lender is illegal. (Real Estate Settlement Procedures ACT, known as RESPA)

So how are the online shopping platforms violating the law, according to the CFPB?

When they present to you the list of so-called best priced lenders, they are not actually giving you best priced lenders nor are they giving you highest quality lenders for service. They are giving you the lenders who pay them KICKBACKS.

It’s all quite deceptive and maddening!

Did you know that I pay a fee to WordPress every year to keep ads off my blog? I do. I pay so that you don’t have to see ads from deceptive companies that look like your friend but actually charge more.

Plus, don’t you hate it when you’re trying to read an article online and there are ads interrupting and popping up all over the place? I find that really annoying. So I pay in order to maintain a clean space for you to read.

Here’s some good news:

I am almost finished with the book so many of you have been asking for. It’s back from the editor and proofreader, and the title was approved yesterday. As soon as the formatting and cover design are done, it will be released for purchase.

Let me know if you like the title:
Get a Mortgage Loan Like the Pros
Subtitle: A Guide for Homebuyers and Realtors

There is not another book quite like this one on the market. The way it’s laid out makes it a great, easy-to-use resource. But it also contains insider information, because my experience of 23 years in the business includes working for a broker, a direct lender, a national bank — and on both the retail and wholesale side. It is highly unusual for one person to have the diversity of experience, to have seen what goes on in the field and what goes on behind closed doors in the underwriting offices where the secrets are told and the magic happens.

I will announce when the book is available for purchase. Meanwhile, stop clicking those ads on the Internet!!! They are not your friend.

The “21-Day” Falsehood Exposed

A so-called statistic that people like to quote is, “It takes 21 days to build a habit.” But that’s NOT TRUE, and here’s why.

I know it sounds encouraging. Fast and easy. Quick and done. A new habit in place in less than a month–wow! We read that and we think, I can do it.

Then after 21 days pass, and the behavior we were working toward is still not a habit, we feel disillusioned with ourselves–when we should be disillusioned with the falsehood.

There is nothing wrong with you if a new habit doesn’t take hold in three short weeks.

The misunderstanding occurred because of confusing the time it takes to build a long-term memory with the time it takes to create a habit. Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Who Switched Off My Brain tells us the real timeline:

  • It takes 21 days to build long-term memory if you deliberately work on it daily.
  • It takes an additional 42 days to turn that memory into a new habit.
  • Thus, it takes at least 63 days of work to form a new habit.

If you want to create new financial habits, realize that it takes 63 days, at least. Don’t quit after 21 days because it is still difficult. Of course it is! That is normal.

Three Tips to Help You Create a New Habit

  1. Check your triggers
    We all have things that trigger certain behaviors. Some people call it “pushing my buttons.” If a particular person in your life speaks disparaging remarks toward you, that could be a trigger to go spend money in order to treat yourself well and compensate for the unfair accusations.
    Instead of spending money, what could you do?
    Go for a walk or engage in another form of exercise? Play music that lifts your spirits? Work on your fun hobby?
    Give some serious thought to your triggers, because you don’t need to be a victim of negative outside influences.
  2. Create mini milestones with rewards.
    This is the fun part, both to plan and to do. Decide at what intervals of your journey you deserve to celebrate, and then schedule a reward for yourself. A reward could be something as simple as a walk along the lake or a movie you’ve wanted to see. If you work a lot, it could be a lazy day off. Or maybe an at-home spa experience, a new book, a new recipe, a game day with friends. Anything that is motivating, fun, but without sabotaging your goal will work.
  3. Journal your journey.
    Scientists who study the brain tell us the benefits of keeping a journal. “When you write your thoughts down, you are analyzing the pattern of your behavior, which activates the basal ganglia in your brain, along with a rush of dopamine and serotonin, which promotes cognitive fluency and flexibility in your thinking and helps you problem-solve!” (Dr. Caroline Leaf)
    The point is that doing a journal helps you analyze your thoughts and change your behavior to get to your goal. If you don’t already have a journal, may I suggest Credit Repair Mindset JOURNAL? It is a place to organize your thoughts, and it includes snippets from my own life’s journey from being a mom on food stamps to starting a new career and then becoming an author. It’s pack with encouragement. You can take a closer look here.

* The above is taken from Credit Repair Mindset, Chapter 14.

Income You Can’t Use on a Mortgage Application

If you plan to buy a home in the near future, it’s best to know ahead of time what type of income is not allowed to be used on a loan application.


  1. Any temporary income that will not continue for at least 3 more years. This would be things like spousal maintenance, child support, L & I, temporary disability income, etc. However, if you will receive any of this type of income for 3+ years more, then it DOES count. (If it ends in four years, it counts.)
  2. Any part-time job or income that is less than 24 months. (Must work part-time for at least 2 years to count.)
  3. Income tax refund. That is one-time income, so it doesn’t count. (Even if you get a refund every year, it doesn’t count.) However, you CAN count it for a down payment.
  4. Inheritance. It’s not income, but you can use it for your down payment.
  5. Any “under the table” money that cannot be verified either by a W2, a 1099, or on your tax returns. If you don’t tell the IRS about the income, then you can’t tell your mortgage lender either.


There is a loan designed for people who work at cash-paying jobs, and for self-employed people who have too many tax deductions to show a sufficient Adjusted Gross Income on their tax returns.

You can get a loan through a mortgage broker (not a bank) that allows bank statements to serve as your income verification. It’s called a “Bank Statement Loan.” You show 12 – 24 months’ bank statements and the deposits are counted as income.

Expect to take a higher interest rate for this type of loan, because it is riskier for the lender.

You will need a down payment of at least 10%.

If you have a question about income qualification, I am happy to answer.

Credit Repair: It’s More Than Fixing the Past

An important part of repairing your credit is how you manage your credit and finances today.

It’s not enough to clean up mistakes of the past. What you do now and going forward is of top importance.

I was speaking with a credit repair business owner recently, and he told me that about half of their clients accrue a new late payment — while they are in the credit repair program! That makes no sense!

If you are paying someone to clean your house, would you bring new mud into the house at the same time?! That’s what it’s like when you fail to make a payment on time while you’re trying to work a credit repair program.

Here are 5 things you must do AT THE SAME TIME you are working on repairing your credit profile:

  1. Pay your bill the same day you receive it. That way, you don’t risk going late. But also, it helps to keep your balance lower on an ongoing basis, which can improve your score. (Based on your balance-to-limit ratio, credit points will vary.)
  2. If you aren’t good at bill paying or dislike the task, set up automatic payment. That way, you will never be late.
  3. Monitor your auto-pay account so that a so-called late payment doesn’t pop up due to something like an annual membership fee or the payment date falling on a Sunday when your bank is closed.
  4. Don’t purchase more than what you can afford to pay in full when the bill comes in. This applies to all your “wants.” Don’t use credit to buy fun tech toys and pretty things you cannot honestly afford. This does not apply to an emergency, such as your water heater going out or your car breaking down.
  5. Prioritize your loans and credit cards OVER medical bills. Medical bills don’t go on your credit report until they are six months past due, giving you a lot of time to work out a payment plan if needed. Never let your loans or credit cards slide because of a medical bill.

    Building good financial habits is worth the effort. Educating yourself about how credit works is worth the time.

    Part of self-respect is having respectable credit.

    Thank you for reading. Your comments and questions are always welcome.

Two Biggest Reasons for a Low Credit Score

I read a complex, detailed analysis explaining why more people in The South and certain other counties in California, Nevada and a few other random counties in North and South Dakota, etc. have the lowest credit scores in the United States.

It has nothing to do with race (which was super analyzed every which way).

Here are the two main reasons, with the first reason being the greatest and most common one:

    The inability to pay large medical bills that turn into collections and then devastate the credit score is Number 1.

    But wait, didn’t the credit bureaus remove unpaid medical bills from credit reports?

    Yes, but only those bills not over $500. More folks in The South have large medical bills exceeding that amount than people in the North. With the North getting this advantage and the South not, the gap becomes even greater. OUCH!

    Now we ask, why are the Southerners hit with more and larger unpaid medical bills?

    Could it be a combination of unhealthy eating and lack of physical exercise?

    In King County, Washington state, where I live, we are known for hiking, biking, outdoor sports and recreation, as well as healthy eating habits. (People here eat whole wheat bread, brown rice, steamed veggies, and avoid fried foods. I’ve never seen a restaurant menu that includes poutines, paczki.) Maybe that’s a clue for better health and fewer medical bills.

    The other factor is that states in the South have not adopted expanded Medicaid to take care of medical bills like most Northern states. This makes for a double-whammy: less healthy lifestyle results in more medical issues and then not as much help receiving financial assistance.


    According to people who live in the South, in certain areas, it’s common to see three, four, and five vehicles for one household. That adds up to a lot of automobile loans. But even worse…

    These people feel like they need to sport expensive vehicles. You’ll see someone in a mobile home with a $70,000 car or truck. It’s horrifying!

    Why do they feel the pressure to be seen in a fancy ride they truly cannot afford and that is (1) ruining their debt ratio and lowering their credit scores, and (2) disqualifying them to purchase a home which would increase their wealth and credit rating?

    I’ll tell you something personal.

    I would be embarrassed to own a vehicle that costs $50,000; $70,000; or higher. Why? Because it would be like wearing a sign that says I care more about social status than about caring for others. Why should I throw away money to puff up my own ego and then ignore the poor? My 7-year old Honda gets me places just as well as someone else’s $100,000 Tesla.

    If I were a multi-millionaire, which I am not, I don’t think I would want to flaunt my money anyway. I would think about how many more children in Ethiopia I could send to school so they break the chain of poverty.

    I would love it if you would weigh in on this topic by hitting the Comment button.

    If you would like to read the original article and see the map regarding low credit scores in the South and other random counties, see The Washington Post article, “Why the South has such low credit scores” by Andrew Van Dam here

    For a guide on how to repair your credit like the pros, see here.

Grants for Homebuyers (and what happened to that $25,000 first-time homebuyer grant)

What you need to know about government funding for a new home:

  • The federal government does not give housing grants directly to individuals. The funds are given to states and certain municipalities, who in turn, distribute the funds to the mortgage closing agent or attorney handling the close of sale.
  • No grant will coverĀ 100%. There is no such thing as a free house. Instead, a grant covers the down payment (and sometimes closing costs, so you still need to get a loan for the rest of the price of the home.
  • The government will not give a grant to anyone who isn’t using it toward buying a home; therefore, you must qualify for a mortgage (often an FHA loan) to receive the grant.
  • To apply for a grant, you go through your local mortgage broker or mortgage lender. Your loan officer will get you qualified for the loan and the grant at the same time.
  • Federal grants for home buying require that you attend a homebuyer’s class. The classes are usually available online and your loan officer will give you the details on how to access it.
  • Many grants are not actual grants (not free money with no payback), but are down payment assistance programs. (DPA). The down payment is provided for you, but when you sell the property or refinance the loan, you must pay it back. The best DPA programs don’t charge any interest on the money, so you pay back the same amount you received — which can be done with the proceeds from the sale.
  • A down payment provided by a a DPA program shows up on your credit report and on title as a loan with no monthly payment.


The tricky thing about qualifying for a grant or DPA is that you can’t make too much or too little money. If your income is above the median income for your area, then it’s probably too high. But you must have the income needed to qualify for the main mortgage.


You must be employed for two years (or have college plus employment for two years). If you’re self-employed, it must be for two years. If you have a part-time side gig, you must have had it for two years and declare the income on your tax returns. Under-the-table cash earnings don’t count.

Your credit must qualify also. Often that means a middle credit score that is 620, with the lowest score of the three ignored.

What Happened to the $25,000 First-Time Homebuyer Grant?

The Downpayment for Equity Act of 2021, commonly called “The $25,000 First-Time Homebuyer Grant” was introduced as a bill in April 2021. It received a ton of publicity with articles by pretty much every financial writer.

However, the bill never made it out of Committee for voting by Congress. From what I can tell, the bill was not fully developed. It included nothing about how the federal government would get the funds to the individual states to pass on to mortgage closers. You can’t eat a pie if the ingredients are not stirred together and baked, right? So then when 2023 arrived, the bill automatically expired.

A new bill for a grant will need to be written and introduced, then passed into law. Hopefully, next time, it will be better written so that it doesn’t stall forever and then die.

To find out what specific programs are available in your own state, you can reach out to a local mortgage broker.

If you want to become a homeowner but you can tell from the information above that you don’t qualify, don’t give up. Make a plan for getting your credit and income on track, then stay true to your plan. If you could benefit from a big dose of inspiration and a lot of great financial tips, then I recommend Credit Repair Mindset, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

Available on Amazon

Insight from a Credit Bureau Agent

I had the opportunity to communicate with a former representative of one of the big three credit bureaus who is now working in the mortgage business. Our conversation turned to credit, of course.

I asked about a scenario where the person had good credit but one 30-day late payment had plummeted their credit score.

The person hadn’t meant to be late, but mistakes happen.

As a representative who read dispute letters and made judgment calls every day, how would she handle a letter that said the late payment was in error, that they paid their accounts on time, and that their credit was very important to them?

“How likely would it be for you to delete that late payment?” I asked.

Her reply: “Whenever I saw that the person had a good history of paying on time and there was only one late payment? Yes, I would delete that all day long!”

She went on to say that a low score due to one late payment was not indicative of the person’s credit habits, and that it was unfair to penalize them in a situation like that.

This is interesting, because the person who has a 750+ credit score, who accidentally accrues one 30-day late payment, is penalized much more severely than the person who has multiple late payments scattered all over their credit history. How is that fair?

The system thinks that if a person with stellar credit suddenly misses a payment, then a financial catastrophe has happened (like getting fired from their job with no savings to tide them over) and they are on the brink of many more late payments.

Is that assumption fair? I don’t think so, but that’s the way the system is set up. And not only that…

If a person with perfect credit has a late payment with one credit card, then their other three credit card companies may see that and assume the absolute worst. “Horrors, this person is about to go into complete default on our account! Quick, let’s send them out a notice of an increased interest rate asap!”

Friends, watch your credit. If you accidentally go one day past due, call the creditor immediately and ask them not to post the late payment on your credit report. They will usually charge you the late fee but agree to forego posting to the credit bureaus.

And if you happen to have a 30-day late payment on your otherwise beautiful credit report, send a customized dispute letter directly to the creditor pointing out how you like doing business with them and have always paid on time. If your letter reaches the right person, you have a very high chance of getting that late payment removed.

When the creditor instructs the credit bureau to delete a late payment, it happens pronto without verification required.

For more information on how to Repair Your Credit Like the Pros, see here.

Thank you for reading and recommending this blog,
Carolyn Warren

Credit Repair Law Change & My Intimidation

Credit repair specialists have been working tirelessly to get for-profit credit repair legalized in the state of Georgia. Details are below, but first, I have a confession.

I was intimidated, anxious, and worried about having an award-winning therapist and counsellor who holds a doctorate degree in psychology read and review my book, Credit Repair MINDSET. I mean, how could I possibly deserve an accolade from a woman who was voted “Best Mental Health & Counseling” for two years in a row? Who was featured in Psychology Today Magazine?

Wouldn’t she think my writing was so simplistic it deserved zero to one stars? I’ll admit I was scared when she got my book.

Here’s what she wrote on Amazon:

I am humbled and very grateful, to say the least!

Would you do me a favor? If you like this review, would you please go to the Amazon page here and click the HELPFUL button? It would mean so much to me to have her review upvoted.

BREAKING NEWS! Georgia Credit Repair Law

Yesterday, February 1, 2023, bill H.B. 187 was introduced into the Georgia House of Representatives. The House Bill is to legalize for profit credit repair in the state of Georgia. The bill is in the hopper and will be assigned to committee shortly. The bill was sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats making it a bi-partisan effort this year.

First, the bill must pass the house by March 6, crossover day, to be moved to the Senate. Second, the bill must pass the Senate by March 29, the last day of the session for this year.

To track the bill, here is the link: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/63879

Many thanks to Matt Liistro, Georgia Credit Repair Trade Association, for this pertinent news!

The Perfect Credit Dispute Letter

If you want to see a real life example of the perfect response to your dispute letter, look below.

This letter was sent to me by one of my readers who used the Debt Validation Letter in Repair Your Credit Like the Pros to remove an old and unfair collection account.

The account had been sold by his former apartment landlord to National Credit Systems, Inc.

They could not provide the specific items requested in the Debt Validation Letter, so this was their response.


What’s Changed About Credit Card Rates (and what to do about it)

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Kathleen Doler, a writer for Investors online. With the information she gathered from several experts, she put together an excellent article that was published this morning.

The last half of the article is where she quoted from our conversation. I thought you would be interested in the statistics and in the advice. Who wouldn’t want to save $7,000 in credit card interest payments?!

To read, click here.