Everything About Tri-Merge Credit Reports and How They Work

Everything About Tri-Merge Credit Reports and How They Work

Consumers may not know it, but financial institutions often rely on “bundled” credit reports to make more fully informed decisions before lending an individual money.

That process is known as a tri-merge credit report (also known as a three-in-one credit report.) The merged report can give the lender a more complete picture of an applicant’s financial situation, since each credit report may contain slightly different information.

You can’t request a merged credit report on your own but you can ask a lender to share their tri-merged report with you. Read on to learn more about what tri-merged credit reports are and how they can impact your chances of getting a loan.

What Is a Tri-Merge Credit Report?

A tri-merge credit report simply combines three credit reports from the three largest credit reporting bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and Transunion — and consolidates them into one credit report for creditors and lenders. They are most commonly used in the mortgage lending sector where more information is required to properly assess larger loans.

Creditors often rely on three-in-one credit reports because they want a thorough review of an applicant’s credit history, an outcome a lender may not get with input from just one credit reporting agency.


💡 Quick Tip: Need help covering the cost of a wedding, honeymoon, or new baby? A SoFi personal loan can help you fund major life events — without the high interest rates of credit cards.

How Do Merged Credit Scores Work?

A tri-merge credit report gives those lenders what they need – a comprehensive overview of a credit applicant using information from three credit reports, instead of one or two credit reports.

By combining all three credit scoring formulas and outcomes into a single credit report, creditors can get an expanded and more complete look at a credit applicant’s financial history (including payments and credit usage), based on the information included in the tri-merge credit report.

Recommended: Common Credit Report Errors and How to Dispute Them

Why Do You Have More Than One Credit Score?

Each credit scoring company has its own formula for calculating credit scores and one model may place more importance on one factor, such as payment history, while another may not. Also, different types of loans have different scoring methods.

The most commonly used credit scoring model is the FICO® Score, a base score that has a range of 300 (lowest score) to 850 (highest score). But within the FICO models, there are industry-specific ranges.

•   FICO® Auto Score Range is 250 to 900

•   FICO® Bankcard Score Range is 250 to 900

•   FICO® Mortgage Score Range is 300 to 850

VantageScore is another credit scoring model used by all three major credit reporting bureaus.

FICO Score and VantageScore base their calculations on different aspects of a person’s financial history.

•   FICO uses factors that are in a credit report, such as payment history of credit accounts, how much debt a person has, how long credit accounts have been open, how often new credit inquiries happen and how often new credit accounts are opened, and the mix of credit account types.

•   Vantage uses the same criteria as FICO, but places different levels of importance on each. Vantage also looks at additional factors that might not appear on a person’s credit report, such as rent and utility payments. Using factors such as these makes it possible for people who don’t have much of a credit history to have a credit score and be able to access consumer credit.

Lenders use credit scores and other information in the loan approval process.

What Does a Tri-Merge Credit Report Look Like?

Tri-merge credit reports offer creditors the same look and feel as a standard consumer credit report, with a few differences.

For starters, the third-party provider creating the three-in-one credit report culls the credit reports from each of the three primary credit-reporting firms (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and pulls the most pertinent information for use in the tri-merge credit report.

In its final form, the tri-merge credit report includes the following sections.

•   An upfront summary that provides information on the credit applicant in capsule form.

•   A full section on the credit applicant’s financial accounts, focusing on larger accounts like mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, and any types of personal loans.

•   Data on the applicant’s credit payments history, any open accounts, any history of late or no credit payments, any tax liens or bankruptcies, and the applicant’s credit utilization ratio (i.e., the applicant’s outstanding credit balance divided by the total amount of revolving credit the applicant has available).

A tri-merge credit report may also include a specific credit report from any of the three major credit reporting agencies, based on the specific credit analysis needs of the mortgage lender who uses the three-in-one report.

Why Do Personal Loan Lenders Look at Your Tri-Merge Credit Report?

Tri-merge credit reports are more commonly used in mortgage lending than personal loan lending. But if you’re applying for a large personal loan — some lenders offer personal loans up to $100,000 — the lender may look at a tri-merge credit report to get a comprehensive picture of your creditworthiness. The tri-merge credit report will include any current or past personal loans and your payment history on those. The lender will use that information to determine approval for the loan you’re applying for.


💡 Quick Tip: Choosing a personal loan with a fixed interest rate makes payments easy to track and gives you a target payoff date to work toward.

How Does a Tri-Merge Credit Report Affect Your Loan Application?

Different lenders approach the risk of lending money with different tolerance levels, just as they each have different credit score requirements. A loan applicant whose credit reports don’t include late payments and unmanageable debt loads will likely be approved for a loan with favorable terms and lower interest rates.

Alternatively, a loan applicant whose credit report shows a large amount of existing debt and a history of late or missed payments may be offered a high interest rate and less favorable terms.

Because lenders that use a tri-merge credit report to assess an applicant’s creditworthiness are looking at a comprehensive picture, it’s in the best interest of the applicant to clean up their credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus before they begin applying for a loan.

Recommended: Typical Personal Loan Requirements Needed for Approval

Is a Tri-Merge Credit Report a Hard Inquiry?

Any official lender review of a tri-merge credit report will be a hard inquiry and will temporarily impact your credit score. In general, each hard credit inquiry can decrease a credit score by five points.

The severity of any credit score decline due to a hard pull largely depends on the applicant.

A consumer with a strong credit report may see less of a credit scoring decline than one with a weak credit report. Multiple credit report hard inquiries can be a reason why a consumer with a weak credit history may see their credit scores decline moderately.

Recommended: Soft vs Hard Credit Inquiry: What You Need to Know

Can I Order My Own Tri-Merge Credit Report?

Tri-merge credit reports are available to lenders, but not generally to individuals. A lender may be willing to share with you the tri-merge credit report they pulled in your application process. A credit counselor who offers first-time homebuyer programs may also be able to pull a tri-merge credit report for you in a credit review process, but there may be a fee for that service.

However, you can — and it’s a good idea to do this — request a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.

You can request a free copy of your credit report once a week from each of the three major credit bureaus. Reviewing all three of your credit reports will give you much of the same information as is included in a tri-merge credit report.

The Takeaway

Tri-merge credit reports can prove highly useful to mortgage and other lenders looking for a comprehensive review of an applicant’s credit history.

By merging the credit report analysis of the three major credit reporting agencies, creditors and lenders are getting a fully-formed outlook they likely wouldn’t get by relying on a single credit reporting agency.

For consumers, the key takeaway on three-in-one credit reports is simple – take a disciplined and diligent stance on your credit, review your credit reports on a regular basis, and ensure key issues like on-time payments and credit utilization rates are in good standing.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

What is a tri-merge credit report?

A tri-merge credit report is a credit report combining information from the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Is a tri-merge credit report a hard inquiry?

When a tri-merge credit report is pulled during the formal loan application process, it will be a hard inquiry on the applicant’s credit report.

Can I pull my own tri-merge credit report?

No. Tri-merge credit reports are available to lenders, not individuals, and they’re mainly used in the mortgage loan process. If you’re working with a credit counselor, you may be able to have a tri-merge credit report pulled during a credit review process.


Photo credit: iStock/Irina Ivanova

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Should I Sell My House? Reasons to Sell (or Wait) in 2021

Should I Sell My House? Reasons to Sell (or Wait) in 2024

The housing market has been super-heated in recent years since the pandemic and the popularity of working from home sent ripples across America. After several months of hikes, mortgage rates are expected to fall in 2024, and an increase in home sales may follow.

You may be wondering if this is the year to sell your home, or would it be wise to wait another year or two? That’s not a simple yes/no decision. A variety of factors come into play when making a big lifestyle and financial move like this one.

Here, we’ll provide guidance on how to size up the pros and cons of selling now, including:

•   What is the housing market like in 2024?

•   What are good reasons to sell your house?

•   What are good reasons to wait to sell your house?

•   Should I sell my house now or wait? If so, what are selling tips?

•   Should I buy a house in 2024?

Examining the Housing Market in 2024

The coronavirus pandemic brought an unprecedented demand for housing as more people needed houses that would accommodate the shift to working from home as well as kids shifting to the remote-learning model. The housing market heated up, also fueled by low mortgage interest rates.

Fast forward to today, when many people are heading back to the office, children are back at school, and mortgage rates and the annual percentage yield (APYs) on mortgages have climbed. This has occurred in sync with the Fed raising their rates with an eye to slowing inflation.

What does that mean for the housing market in 2024? It may be softer than at its white-hot peak, but it is still largely a seller’s market, with home prices expected to continue slowly rising in many markets.

So to summarize: Houses were selling like hotcakes throughout the pandemic and demand remains strong in many areas. This could provide a good opportunity to sell your house in some situations. But if you’re selling so you can buy another house, there’s more to dig into local market conditions in order to answer the question, “Should I sell my house now?”


💡 Quick Tip: An online property tracker can help you monitor your home equity over time. That’s important for understanding your net worth and finding sufficient insurance protection.

3 Reasons to Sell Your House

Now could be the smartest time to sell your house, depending on your specific situation. Here are some compelling reasons to sell your house in 2024.

Reason #1: Your House is Worth More Now

Housing prices spiked recently, and now they are dropping. In other words, your home is likely worth more than several years ago and possibly less than it will be in a year or two.

If, due to the spike in value, you discover that how much equity you have in your home is significantly higher, it could be a great time to cash out and buy something else. Or, if you know you want to sell within the next year or two, it might be wise to make a move now since property values may slip lower in the near future.

Recommended: How Much Is My House Worth?

Reason #2: A Few Minor Repairs Could Increase Value

Even if your home is already worth more than in the past, you can get even more value out of it if you make common home repairs like replacing pipes or a water heater.

Also consider revamping your kitchen or bathrooms, since those are big influencers for people looking for a new home. A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into your home and make it all the more appealing if you put it on the market.

Reason #3: Houses are Selling Fast

Looking to sell quickly? Now could be a good time. In 2024, the median time a home is on the market is 61 days, according to Fred Economic Data. By comparison, homes were typically on the market for 83 days in 2023.

At the start of the year, homes were typically on the market for two weeks longer than a year prior, but that still represents a quicker sale than pre-pandemic norms. So if you do decide to sell your property, be prepared to have to move out quickly and make sure you have a plan for where you’ll live next.

3 Reasons You Should Wait to Sell Your House

While there are some great reasons to sell your home right now, it may not be the right time to sell for everyone. Here’s why you might want to wait.

Reason #1: You Can’t Afford to Buy

Selling in a seller’s market is great…but not so great if you need to buy another house, especially if you’re staying in the same area. Buying a house may be cost-prohibitive for you, especially when you factor in closing costs on top of the inflated pricing.

Also, there’s no avoiding the fact that it has become more expensive to borrow money. As of mid-May 2024, the average mortgage rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 6.21% versus 5.89% in January of 2024.

That said, if you live in an expensive area, you could sell your home and move to another more affordable state. Or you might look into different mortgage loan products and options (for instance, buying down your rate by paying points) to make a move less cost-prohibitive.

Recommended: How Much House Can I Afford?

Reason #2: You Owe More Than You Could Sell For

If you are upside-down on your mortgage payments though, selling won’t provide a solution. Perhaps you took out a second mortgage or not have paid enough on your first mortgage to recoup the expense by selling, even at a higher price. That means you would still owe money on a house you no longer live in after selling.

If this is the case, it may be better to build equity over time before selling.

Reason #3: You’re Not Ready to Make Home Repairs

While making home repairs before selling could help you get a higher price for your home, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have $30,000 lying around to make those improvements. If you know that certain repairs would help you get more for your house but you can’t afford to make them right now, it may be better to wait to sell a house until you can afford to invest in those home improvements.

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Tips for Selling (and Buying) a Home

Before coming up with your own answer to the question of “Should I sell my house,” consider these points:

•   Figure out how much you can afford to pay to buy another. If you can only afford a house that’s smaller than your current one, or in a neighborhood you don’t want to live in, there’s not much point in selling only to end up worse off.

•   Look at comparables to understand market trends and how much homes are selling for in your neighborhood. Go to open houses to see what sort of updates and features sellers are offering so you have an idea of what to do to get your own house ready for sale.

•   Contemplate being represented by a real estate agent or doing it yourself. There are some great DIY sites that can cut down on the fees you pay to sell, but you will probably have to invest time, effort, and cash into marketing your property.

For instance, if you’re selling your house on your own, invest in professional photos rather than taking your own, and get the house staged (that means more than just removing all the toys and dog beds before a showing!). The better you present your home, the better the price you can command.

•   Remain patient if you’re also buying. It can feel frustrating to be outbid for what seems like the house of your dreams, but it can be a reality right now. Don’t force a decision — the right house will find you.



💡 Quick Tip: Planning a home improvement project? Some upgrades provide more value than others. A midlevel-budget kitchen or bath remodel, for example, can provide a decent return on investment.

The Takeaway

Selling your house this year could be a smart financial decision, but it’s important to make sure you’re looking at the bigger picture with your finances.

Take control of your finances with SoFi. With our financial insights and credit score monitoring tools, you can view all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.

SoFi helps you stay on top of your finances.


Photo credit: iStock/AlexSecret

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Building Generational Wealth Through Homeownership

How Homeownership Can Help Build Generational Wealth

One of the time-honored ways to build wealth and financial stability is by buying real estate. Properties typically appreciate over time and may provide cash flow as well.

Owning your own home not only gives you a great place to live, but it will likely turn out to be a good investment, one that can help build generational wealth for your family.

What Is Considered Generational Wealth?

Generational wealth refers to assets passed on from one generation to another within the same family. Assets is a broad term that includes cash; stocks, bonds and other securities; a family business; and real estate, including the family home.

Because of the high rates of appreciation in the past several decades, real estate can be one of the most valuable assets passed down from one generation to another.


💡 Quick Tip: SoFi’s award-winning mortgage loan experience means a simple application — we even offer an on-time close guarantee. We’ve made $7.5 billion in home loans so we know a thing or two about what makes homebuyers happy.‡

How Does Homeownership Build Wealth?

Homeownership can help build wealth directly through price appreciation. When the value of a home rises, owners are able to sell for that higher price, sometimes moving into a new, larger home. For homeowners who aren’t selling, price appreciation adds to their home equity and overall financial assets.

Of course, if home values decline, as they did in the 2007-2009 Great Recession, the opposite can happen and owners may find they owe more than the home is worth. But real estate has proved to be one of the most reliable assets in the long term.

The bottom line: A person’s home is often their largest financial asset, the benefits of which are often passed on to the next generation.

If you’re just getting started, know that a first-time homebuyer can be anyone who has not owned a principal residence in the past three years, some single parents, and others. The prospective purchasers can often get assistance (such as low or no down payment) as they progress towards buying their first property. Programs such as these can be a stepping stone to building generational wealth.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Direct and Indirect Building of Wealth

Next, consider different ways of building wealth over the generations.

Inheritance

Inheriting appreciated capital assets like real estate, stocks, bonds, ETFs, or a small business can have a big tax benefit, thanks to the “step-up in basis.” The value of the inherited asset is “stepped up” to the fair market value on the date the original owner dies.

If the heir sells the property, the step-up in basis will greatly reduce capital gains taxes due or make them moot if there is no gain. Any capital gain from the sale of inherited property is considered long-term. Current long-term capital gains taxes are 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your income and filing status.

For married couples, the death of one spouse results in a partial step-up in most states, but here’s a simplified example. Let’s say you inherit your grandmother’s home, purchased in 1940 for $10,000. The home is valued at $450,000 on the date of her death, which is the stepped-up basis. If you sell the home for $450,000, you’ll pay no capital gains tax. If you sell for a higher sum, capital gains tax will apply only to the amount over $450,000.

Imagine using the stepped-up basis provision over more than one generation of a family. An heir could sell a phenomenally appreciated asset and pay a minimal amount in capital gains tax or none at all on their inheritance, as long as the asset was included in the decedent’s estate.

Indirect Benefits

Heirs of homeowners may well inherit the actual real estate, but generational wealth can also be more indirect. Consider these points:

•   Homeowners are often more financially secure than renters, passing that security on to children.

•   Homeowners are able to borrow against the equity to improve the home (and often boost its value) or take care of other financial needs.

•   Many homeowners are located in districts with high-performing schools, enhancing overall opportunities for their children.

•   Down the line, the equity in a home can help finance retirement and health care needs, shielding adult children from that financial burden.

All of these factors can positively affect the next generation and add to their wealth.

How Discrimination Can Affect Generational Wealth

When housing discrimination occurs, it can keep people of color, women, and families with children, immigrants, and people with disabilities from living in the place they want. Importantly, it can also have a serious impact on generational wealth.

Considering the following statistics from the Fed for the fourth quarter of 2023:

The homeownership rate for non-Hispanic white households overwhelmingly led the pack, at 73.8%. Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander families came a distant second, at 63%. Hispanic families of any race had only a 49.8% homeownership rate, and African American households logged in at 45.9%.

A number of factors have contributed to the race gap in homeownership; not the least is the legacy of race-based discrimination in the housing market.

When homeownership lags among a certain group because of housing discrimination, so does the possibility for generational wealth.


💡 Quick Tip: Your parents or grandparents probably got mortgages for 30 years. But these days, you can get them for 20, 15, or 10 years — and pay less interest over the life of the loan.

Understanding Home Appreciation and Home Equity

To understand how homeownership can build wealth, it’s important to understand the concepts of home appreciation rates and home equity. These are some key points:

•   The increase in the value of a home over time is known as appreciation or the appreciation rate.

•   Home equity is the property value minus the outstanding balance of mortgages, liens, or other debt on the property.

•   Your first contribution to home equity is your down payment.

•   Every time you make a monthly mortgage payment, you are paying down the amount you owe and slowly paying part of the principal on your loan, which builds equity.

•   Price appreciation and home improvements can also add to home equity.

Most people purchase real estate with the expectation that their home will increase in value over time. But many things come into play when it comes to home appreciation and the amount of home equity you can build. Some you can control and some you can’t.

Recommended: How Much Is a Down Payment on a House?

The Economy

Housing prices can be affected by several economic indicators. When a recession hits, unemployment rises, or inflation jumps, the real estate market often declines.

Interest rates are also vitally important. Low mortgage interest rates can fuel demand, which can increase home prices in many areas. Conversely, a rise in mortgage rates can have a cooling effect on buyer demand.

The correlation between the housing markets and the rest of the economy can be surprising at times. For instance, during the initial stages of the pandemic, when economic indicators were showing signs of trouble, the nation saw a giant rise in home prices. This was particularly true in rural and suburban areas as urban dwellers sought more space and fewer crowds.

Recommended: How Rising Inflation Affects Mortgage Interest Rates

Laws and Regulations

Federal legislation can have a big effect on the U.S. housing market. Government tax credits, deductions, and subsidies aimed at certain homeowners can fuel the housing markets.

Local policies and regulations can also affect housing appreciation. Local investments in infrastructure or new schools and parks can increase your home’s value. Local zoning laws can also have an effect, positive or negative.

Home Improvements

This encompasses everything from an extensive addition to a fresh coat of paint. All kinds of improvements can add to the resale value of your home and, importantly, enhance your life while you’re living there.

Whether you decide to remodel a kitchen, a bathroom, or a remodel a living room, updated appliances and décor and energy-efficient improvements are often valuable upgrades.

To fund them, some homeowners use home improvement loans.

Is Homeownership a Smart Investment?

The answer to that question isn’t always straightforward. First, your home is the place where you live, of course, and hopefully you derive happiness from that. In that sense, the costs associated with your home and your mortgage payment can be considered living expenses, not necessarily an investment.

On the other hand, appreciation and home equity can be seen as the return on your investment in your home.

The sweet spot is often a combination of the two: a great place to live and a profitable investment.

Still, homeowners’ net worth far outpaces renters’. Every three years, the Federal Reserve issues the Survey of Consumer Finances, which compares the net worth of homeowners and renters. The latest report shows that homeowners had a median net worth of $396,200; renters, $10,400.

Keeping your expectations realistic can effectively put your home value into the context of your overall financial wellness and estate planning. To do that, you may need to keep in mind the total costs of owning and maintaining real estate. Too often, people subtract their purchase price from the expected sale price and figure the difference is the return on investment. But there are many more costs involved in homeownership.

To calculate your true return, you’ll want to add up the following:

•   Down payment

•   Closing costs

•   Mortgage points

•   Any mortgage insurance

•   Home maintenance expenses

•   Home improvements

•   Total mortgage payments

•   Taxes

•   Any homeowners association fees

•   Estimated selling costs (such as the real estate agent’s fees and staging charges).

That total is the number you want to compare against home appreciation to determine your actual return.

The Takeaway

How does homeownership build generational wealth? In direct and indirect ways. The real estate itself can likely grow in value, and the homeowner may enjoy such benefits as raising a family in a good school district. Buying real estate can build a foundation for a family today and for generations ahead.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


Photo credit: iStock/Capuski

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi On-Time Close Guarantee: If all conditions of the Guarantee are met, and your loan does not close on or before the closing date on your purchase contract accepted by SoFi, and the delay is due to SoFi, SoFi will give you a credit toward closing costs or additional expenses caused by the delay in closing of up to $10,000.^ The following terms and conditions apply. This Guarantee is available only for loan applications submitted after 04/01/2024. Please discuss terms of this Guarantee with your loan officer. The mortgage must be a purchase transaction that is approved and funded by SoFi. This Guarantee does not apply to loans to purchase bank-owned properties or short-sale transactions. To qualify for the Guarantee, you must: (1) Sign up for access to SoFi’s online portal and upload all requested documents, (2) Submit documents requested by SoFi within 5 business days of the initial request and all additional doc requests within 2 business days (3) Submit an executed purchase contract on an eligible property with the closing date at least 25 calendar days from the receipt of executed Intent to Proceed and receipt of credit card deposit for an appraisal (30 days for VA loans; 40 days for Jumbo loans), (4) Lock your loan rate and satisfy all loan requirements and conditions at least 5 business days prior to your closing date as confirmed with your loan officer, and (5) Pay for and schedule an appraisal within 48 hours of the appraiser first contacting you by phone or email. This Guarantee will not be paid if any delays to closing are attributable to: a) the borrower(s), a third party, the seller or any other factors outside of SoFi control; b) if the information provided by the borrower(s) on the loan application could not be verified or was inaccurate or insufficient; c) attempting to fulfill federal/state regulatory requirements and/or agency guidelines; d) or the closing date is missed due to acts of God outside the control of SoFi. SoFi may change or terminate this offer at any time without notice to you. *To redeem the Guarantee if conditions met, see documentation provided by loan officer.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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Business Cash Management Explained

Business Cash Management: Tips for Managing Cash

If you’re running a business, you probably know that managing cash is critical to your success — so let’s share some tips on doing that even better. Solid cash flow is vital to keep a business thriving, whether you’re a sole proprietor or the head of a larger enterprise. Even businesses with strong earnings can struggle with cash flow. That’s why cash flow can be a sure sign of how healthy a business is — or is not.

So let us help you optimize that cash flow. We’ll share some smart insights and helpful tips on:

•  What cash management for business is

•  Why it’s so important

•  Ways you can improve your business cash management

Let’s get started.

What Is Business Cash Management?

Simply put, business cash management is basically the way you track and manage the money coming into and going out of your business – usually on a cash flow statement. Positive cash flow means more money is coming in through revenues or borrowing than is being used to pay expenses, such as payroll and rent.

That said, good cash management also means not having too much cash on hand. In that scenario, business owners, while cautious, may be missing out on future earnings growth when they neglect to invest cash back into the business.

Here’s another way to frame this principle: Take a look at your business’s balance sheet and check the ratio of current liquid assets to liabilities. A ratio that’s greater than one indicates good health (you’re not losing money), but if that ratio gets too high, you could be holding onto too much cash or other assets that could better be invested elsewhere.

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The Importance of Cash Management for Businesses

Cash flow is the essence of all businesses. Without cash, a business will struggle to meet expenses, pay suppliers, repay any investors, and, often most importantly, grow the business through marketing and/or new opportunities.

Strong cash management strategies can help business owners avoid taking on debt. It also gives them more control over everyday activities, decisions, and growth opportunities. What’s more, smart cash management is the best way for owners to fulfill their vision for their enterprise while meeting both their short, intermediate and long-term needs. There’s certainly a lot riding on cash management, so let’s dive into ways to optimize it.

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6 Tips for Managing Cash Flow

Cash management can be especially challenging for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Yet it is one of the most important financial strategies business owners must master. These six tips can help.

1. Learning Your Cash Flow Cycle

A cash flow cycle is the time it takes to purchase your supplies and materials (or prepare the work that goes into providing a service), transform them into a product, sell your offering, and collect payment that can go into your business bank account. Sounds simple but a lot can go haywire during that process.

That’s why it’s important for business owners to constantly update and monitor their balance sheets and profit and loss statements. Ideally, you want to know at any given time what happened in the cash-flow cycle last month. Also important: Knowing your projections for what’s going to happen next month.

Understanding your cash flow cycle can help identify and address inconsistencies such as a late-paying customer or a build-up of inventory. If your business is seasonal or cyclical, you want to be well-prepared for both the intensely busy times…and the lulls.

Recommended: How to Track Your Monthly Expenses: Step-by-Step Guide

2. Getting Payments on Time

Reminding customers to pay on time is one of the easiest but most necessary ways to manage cash flow. Late payments are a fact of life; common, even. Having receivables come in even a day or two past the due date can wreak havoc with your cash flow cycle and your bank account.

Consider setting up email reminders to all customers ten days, seven days, and two days before payment is due. Technology today makes it a snap to pre-schedule email blasts. If the payment is still late or only a partial payment was made, don’t hesitate to follow up with a personal note or phone call.

This simple solution can really work. Customers will pay more attention to timely payments when they know you are paying close attention.

3. Turning Over Inventory Quickly

Having an abundance of inventory on hand at a given time means that a bundle of cash is tied up in that unsold stock. That could be an issue, because those funds might otherwise be working to pay for operations and expenses. What’s more, if all of that inventory bought upfront doesn’t sell as expected, it could mean losses on top of that lack of cash. That could hurt your growth and business valuation.

Many small business owners have learned that, in terms of cash, it’s better to turn inventory more quickly. Of course, this will vary widely depending on your business – perhaps your product is handmade jewelry, perhaps its reconditioned air conditioners. As an example, you might want to boost inventory turn-over from twice a year to five times. More targeted marketing could contribute to this acceleration.

That said, finding the right inventory management to fit with your cash flow cycles takes some time and experience. Recent supply chain issues have shown how challenging inventory management can be. Again, constant monitoring of the cash flow cycle can help guide how you tweak things.

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Start a Business?

4. Understand Invoice Financing

Let’s say you hit a cash management hitch. If you do find yourself in a position where you have too much inventory on hand and you need cash to cover expenses, there is a path forward. Invoice financing companies will advance a full or partial amount of your outstanding invoices. You repay that amount plus interest after the invoice is paid.

This generally should only be considered as a stop-gap measure. Like credit cards, interest payments on invoice financing can add up fast and quickly get out of control. Consider the fact that annual percentage rates for invoice financing products can reach as high as a jaw-dropping 64%.

5. Cutting Costs

Monitoring and cutting costs on expenses is another tool for managing cash flow. After all, if less cash goes to pay overhead, more can be invested in the business. A few suggestions: Relying on online marketing efforts that can be less costly than traditional methods, outsourcing tasks that take too much time and money in-house, and reducing energy costs. You might also want to renegotiate outdated contracts and prices with suppliers. These are all areas business owners can consistently monitor to keep costs low.

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6. Comparing Loans

Sometimes, a business could use a helping hand to smooth out its cash flow. Let’s say you have outstanding accounts receivable — in other words, you know money is due but you don’t have it yet — and you need the cash now. In this situation, taking a business loan can be an option to help bridge the gap.

Cash flow loans (like invoice financing explained above) are short-term loans or lines of credit. These are often used to cover expenses or to take advantage of opportunities that can increase revenue.

A working capital loan is another option that can be used to finance everyday business operations such as rent, payroll, or restocking inventory. These loans are not designed to finance long-term assets or investment. Companies with seasonal or cyclical sales often rely on working capital loans to provide relief during slow periods.

One caveat: Working capital loans are often tied to your personal credit, so missed payments or defaults will affect your credit score. Consider that carefully before you sign on.

In addition, there are a variety of small business loans available that are used to finance long-term expenses such as real estate, equipment purchases, or business expansion. These include SBA loans, business lines of credit, and term loans.

Whatever type of loan you choose, be sure to compare your options carefully. Look at terms, APR, and how much lending you qualify for among several lenders before taking on any short or long-term debt. Spending some time and energy on research will help ensure you get the right form of financing.

The Takeaway

Cash flow management is an essential part of running a successful business of any size. Carefully monitoring cash flow, and learning some simple strategies to maximize it can take your small business to the next level.

Whether your business is a full-time job or just a side gig, it’s important to keep your business cash flow separate from your personal cash flow. In both cases, you’ll want to find a bank account that pays a competitive rate, charges no or low fees, and makes it easy to access your money.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What Is an Exponential Moving Average (EMA) in Stock Trading? How Does It Work?

What Is Exponential Moving Average (EMA)?

An exponential moving average (EMA) is a commonly used average price calculation done for a specific time period that places more weight and importance on the most recent price data. Since it is weighted this way it reacts faster to recent price changes than a simple moving average (SMA) which is a type of average price calculation, which equally weights all data points within a time period.

Moving averages are technical analysis trading indicators used by traders to help them understand the direction, market trend, and strength of price movement of an asset. They measure the average price of a security by taking averages of the prices of the security over a specific period of time, and can be used to show traders the location of support and resistance levels. Read on to learn more about the meaning of EMA in stocks, the EMA formula, and how to calculate EMA.

What is EMA?

An EMA, exponentially weighted moving average, is a type of moving average (MA) used by traders to evaluate the potential trajectory of a financial security. Using the EMA calculation, the most recent price data has the greatest impact on the moving average, while older data has a lower impact. The previous EMA value is included in the calculation, so the current value includes all the price data.

As noted, it reacts faster to price changes than a simple moving average, which may be helpful to some investors.

EMA Formula

The formula for calculating EMA is:

EMA = (K x (C – P)) + P

Where:

C = Current Price

P = Previous Period’s EMA (for the first period calculated the SMA is used)

K = Exponential Smoothing Constant (this applies appropriate weight to the most recent security price, using the number of periods specified in the moving average. The most common smoothing constant is 2, but the higher it is the more influence recent data points have on the EMA)

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How to Calculate EMA

Technical analysts follow three steps to calculating an EMA.

1.    Calculate the simple moving average (SMA) to find the initial EMA data point. The SMA is used as the previous period’s EMA for the first calculated data point of the EMA. To calculate the SMA of the last 20 days, a trader would add the amounts of the last 20 closing prices of the security and then divide that sum by 20.

2.    Calculate the weighting multiplier for the number of periods that will be used to calculate the EMA. The number of periods used for the EMA has a significant impact on the value of the weighting multiplier.

   The formula for finding the weighting multiplier is:

   EMA(current) = ((Price(current) – EMA (prev)) x Multiplier) + EMA(prev)

3.    Calculate the EMA using the formula described above.

Some traders also use the open, high, low, or median price instead of the closing price for the EMA calculation.

Example of EMA

Taking the above into consideration and following the three steps to calculate EMA, here’s an example of how it might all come together.

Again, here’s the EMA formula: EMA = (K x (C – P)) + P

We’ll assume that the previous period’s EMA is 50, and that the current price is 60. We’ll also assume that our smoothing constant is 2, for simplicity’s sake.

So: EMA= (2 x (60 – 50)) + 50 = 70

What Does EMA Show You?

An EMA follows prices more closely than a SMA since it puts more weight on recent data points. This is helpful for determining when to enter and exit trades. EMA is a lagging indicator that shows market trends and directions and the strength of price movements. It’s best used in trending markets.

By looking at past trends traders can gain an understanding of what might happen with a security’s price in the future, which may help them identify investment opportunities. Although past performance is no guarantee of future performance.

Limitations of Using EMA

Although EMA is a very useful trading tool, it does have some constraints.

•   Spotting trends and directions using EMA is difficult in a flat market.

•   The EMA shows present market trends but is not a predictor of future trends and prices. It also doesn’t show exact highs and lows or precise entry and exit points.

•   The EMA can show false signals and can show more short term price changes that aren’t trading indicators.

•   Even though it is weighted toward recent prices, the EMA does rely on past price movements, so it is a lagging indicator. Because of this the optimal time to enter a trade may have already passed by the time the trend direction shows up in an EMA chart.

How Investors Can Use EMA

Usually traders look at the direction the EMA is going in and they trade in the direction of the trend. In addition to spotting market trends and direction, EMA can also identify spot reversals that occur when a security is overbought or oversold.

The EMA is a fairly accurate tool because stock prices typically only stray so far from the average before returning to test the average, creating support or resistance and continuing to rise or fall. Even beginning investors can use EMA to spot trends and gain an understanding of what direction the market is heading.

Like other indicators, It’s best to use EMA in conjunction with other tools such as relative strength index (RSI) and moving average convergence divergence (MACD) to get a more comprehensive and accurate picture of the market. There are a few ways investors can use EMA:

Trend Trading

Traders can use the EMA to discover and trade primary market trends. When the EMA rises this is a bullish indicator, a trader may buy when the stock price dips to hit the EMA line or just below it. When EMA goes down, a trader might sell their position when the stock price goes up to hit the EMA line or just above. If the stock has a closing price that crosses over the average line, the trader closes out their trade.

Support and Resistance

EMA lines can track support and resistance levels, another useful way to track price movements and trends. If EMA goes up, this is a support indicator, while if it goes down this shows resistance to the security’s price movement.

Buy and Sell Signals

Traders can set up fast and slow moving averages and then find buy and sell signals when the two lines cross each other.

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The Takeaway

EMA is a useful tool for both advanced and beginner traders to understand market trends and directions. It’s a technical indicator that evaluates a stock’s price trend with a greater emphasis on recent price levels.

Whether you’re planning to use in-depth technical analysis or not, a great way to get started building a portfolio is by opening an investment account on the SoFi Invest® stock trading app. It lets you research, track, buy and sell stocks, exchange-traded funds, and other assets right from your phone.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

Which EMA is best?

Day traders often use 8- and 20-day EMA periods, while long-term investors use 50- and 200-day EMA. Indicators such as the moving average convergence divergence (MACD) and percentage price oscillator (PPO) use 12- and 26-day periods. If a security passes over a 200-day EMA this is a technical sign that a trend reversal has occurred.

What’s the difference between EMA and SMA?

Both simple moving average and exponential moving average are used by traders to measure market trends. They both create a graphical line that smoothes out price fluctuations using calculated averages. But they weigh price data differently, and may have different sensitivities to price changes.

What is 5 EMA and 20 EMA?

There are different EMAs referring to different time periods that can identify trends. In that sense, 5 EMA and 20 EMA refers to the 5-day and 20-day EMA, a shorter and longer-term EMA measure.


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