The Lending Coach

Coaching and teaching - many through the mortgage process and others on the field

Category: Interest Rates (page 1 of 4)

Today’s Mortgage and Real Estate Environment – Early Summer 2018 Edition

Believe me, I understand that home inventories are tight across the country. And that is making home buying a bit challenging right now.

Nevertheless, I see a great opportunity in this market for first time buyers, investors, and existing homeowners who want to take advantage of rising equity.

Look at it this way….real wages are moving up, home equity is rising, and interest rates are keeping inflation at bay.

The Current Outlook

This is a recipe for a strong, long-term real estate market.

A decade ago, the housing market was the U.S. economy’s biggest weakness. Now, it offers crucial support.

The housing market has been trending on a path higher for some time now as it gradually recovered from the financial meltdown nearly a decade ago. Interestingly, it has even gained additional strength lately, despite broadly higher home prices.

This is due to the fact that owning a home right now is one of the better investments you can make.

Some analysts are saying that a rise in mortgage rates, prompted by higher Treasury yields and inflationary pressure, could eventually cut into demand for new homes.

The benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage hit nearly 5% at the end of April, its highest since early 2014, according to weekly data from Bankrate.com. As recently as September, it was right at 4%.

Still, the economy is much stronger than it was the last time rates spiked in 2013, which means the housing market has more ability to withstand higher mortgage rates than it used to, most analysts say.

As a matter of fact, real wages are up for the first time in 10 years, giving would-be buyers more purchasing power.

Couple that with expected equity increases in those home purchases, this looks to be a fantastic time to purchase.

The Data

Industry experts are also predicting an increase in purchases. Industry giant Zillow predicts that 2018 will shape up to be an even hotter real estate market than in 2017.

An analysis conducted by Zillow Research, a division of Zillow Group that operates the Zillow real estate marketplace, found that homes sold faster than ever in 2017 largely due to shrinking inventory.

Rising Rents Means It’s Time To Buy

The analysis has shown that rents have been increasing consistently the past three to four years. In the last year, for example, rents have over increased 4% nationwide.

That’s not necessarily a giant jump, but those increases year after year add up. If buyers can lock-in a monthly mortgage, that alone is a huge incentive to get into the home buying market.

Per Forbes Magazine: “according to an online survey of more than 1,000 active buyers conducted in early March by Toluna Research for realtor.com, 23% of millennials surveyed indicated that rising rent was a trigger for their home buying purchase.

Realtor.com reports that HUD data shows rents were up in 85 of the top 100 metro areas, including nine metros where rents were up by double-digit percentages from a year ago.”

More from Forbes: “These are the market dynamics and challenges Millennials face especially in urban areas where they naturally migrate.

Craig Furfine, clinical professor of finance at Kellogg School, Northwestern University thinks differently. ‘An alternative viewpoint is Millennials have been reluctant to enter the housing market having witnessed the effects of the housing collapse of a decade ago. Now they see interest rates rising and they think now may be a good time to buy’.

Interestingly, just like their baby boomer parents, many Millennials want that family home with a yard and in a good school system. It seems like the foundation of home ownership desire hasn’t really changed in a long time.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for more, as it would be my privilege to help!

Homeowners See Biggest Equity Increase in 4 Years – Another Great Reason to Buy or Refinance

Rising home prices might be a little frustrating for would-be buyers right now.

But let’s take a look what’s happening for those who already own a home to see the true benefits of ownership. Home equity increases are being seen throughout the country – and this bodes well for the economy – and those who purchase or refinance a home in the coming months.

According to new data from CoreLogic, the average homeowner saw their home equity jump by more than $15,000 last year alone – the biggest increase since 2013.

Aly Yale at The Mortgage Reports has put together a fantastic piece – see the entire article here.

It Pays to Own Your Home

According to CoreLogic’s recent Home Equity Report, American homeowners saw a 12 percent year-over-year jump in equity from 2016 to 2017. Though the average homeowner gained $15K in equity for the year, in some states, it rose as high as $44,000.

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s chief economist, credits rising home prices for the uptick in equity.

“Home price growth has been the primary driver of home equity wealth creation,” Nothaft said. “The average growth in home equity was more than $15,000 during 2017, the most in four years.”

Though increased equity certainly spells good news for existing homeowners, it also bodes well for the country’s economy at large.

“Because wealth gains spur additional consumer purchases, the rise in home equity wealth during 2017 should add more than $50 billion to U.S. consumer spending over the next two to three years,” Nothaft said.

What This Means For Today’s Buyers

Owning a house provides the owner with a valuable asset and financial stability. By purchasing a home, you’ll have an asset that, in most cases, will appreciate in value over time. A $200,000 home today should see an increase in value to $250,000, $300,000, or more—depending on how long you plan to live there and market conditions.

This makes your home one of the best investments you can make and a way to establish a financial foundation for future generations (aka your kids).

A home can be the ultimate nest egg, providing you with a great investment for retirement. The longer you own your home, the more it should eventually be worth.

As you get older, you can sell the home and use the proceeds to purchase or rent something smaller. Another option: Rent out the house to maintain a steady income stream so you can travel or use for other recreational activities.

Why Now?

Despite rising home prices, American housing is actually quite affordable – and now is really a good time to make that purchase.

According to the latest Real House Price Index from First American Title, today’s home buyers have “historically high levels of house-purchasing power.”

And though real home prices increased 5 percent over the year, they’re still 37.7 percent below their 2006 peak. They’re also more than 16 percent below 2000’s numbers.

Because mortgage rates are lower than historical averages, home-buying power is up. Find out more regarding home affordability here….

The Refinance Market

As housing values across the country continue to steadily increase, homeowners now have access to a much larger source of equity.

With current mortgage rates low and home equity on the rise, many think it’s a perfect time to refinance your mortgage to save not only on your overall monthly payments, but your overall interest costs as well.

Since rising home values are returning lost equity to many homeowners, refinancing can make a good deal of sense with even a small difference in your interest rate. Homeowners now have options to do many things with the difference.

More home equity also means you won’t need to bring cash to the table to refinance. Furthermore, interest rates can be slightly lower when your loan-to-value ratio drops below 80 percent.  Find out more about the new refinance movement here…

It would be my privilege to help would-be-buyers or refinancers understand the current marketplace and the loan options that can help you own a part of the American dream!

That House Will Probably Cost More The Longer You Wait

Today’s potential home buyers have many questions about local real estate markets and how it relates to the purchase of a new home. The one I hear the most is:

‘Does it make sense to buy a house in now, or would it be better to wait until next year?’

Click on the video above to find out more,

Well, there are some things we just can’t predict with certainty, and that includes future housing costs….however,

most economists and forecasters agree that home values will likely continue to rise throughout 2018 and into 2019. Secondly, these same experts also predict that interest rates will continue to rise.

Houses Are INCREASING in Value and Are Getting More Expensive

As usual, it’s a story of supply and demand. There is a high level of demand for housing in cities across the country, but there’s not enough inventory to meet it. As a result, home buyers in who delay their purchases until 2019 will likely encounter higher housing costs.

According to Zillow, the real estate information company, the median home value for Arizona increased to over $233,000 – a year-over-year increase of 6.7%. In California, the median home value is over $465,000 – an increase of 8.8%. Looking forward, the company’s economists expect the median to rise by another nearly 5% over the next 12 months. This particular forecast projects into the first quarter of 2019.

Other forecasters have echoed this sentiment. There appears to be broad consensus that home values across the country will likely continue to rise over the coming months.

The Supply and Demand for Housing

It is the supply and demand imbalance that’s the primary factor in influencing home prices. So it’s vitally important for home buyers to understand these market conditions.

Most real estate markets, including California and Arizona are experiencing a supply shortage. Inventory is falling short of demand, and that puts upward pressure on home values.

Economists and housing analysts say that a balanced real estate market has somewhere around 5 to 6 months worth of supply. In both California and Arizona today, that figure is in the 2.5 to 3 month range. Clearly, these markets are much tighter than normal, from an inventory standpoint. This is true for other parts of the nation as well, where inventory levels are in the 4-month range.

Interest Rates

There has been a slow increase in interest rates since September of 2017 – and a quicker jump in the last few months.  Bond markets haven’t seen pressures like this in over 4 years – and things are trending higher.

Many investors believe inflation is bound to tick up if the labor market continues to improve, and some market indicators suggest inflation expectations have been climbing in recent months.

This is a general reflection better economic data, rising energy prices and the passage of sweeping tax cuts.  Many think could provide a further boost to the economy – giving consumers more money at their disposal.

If positive labor and economic news keep pouring out (as most analysts believe things will continue to improve), then the prospect of inflation will put pressure on bonds and interest rates.

The Federal Reserve has suggested that they will have 3 to 4 interest rate increases in 2018, and most experts see a .5% to 1% overall increase in mortgage rates this year.

In Conclusion

So, let’s take a look at our original question: Does it make sense to buy a home in 2018, or is it better to wait until 2019?

Current trends suggest that home buyers who delay their purchases until later this year or next will most likely encounter higher housing costs. All of these trends and forecasts make a good case for buying a home sooner rather than later. Please reach out to me for more, as it would be my privilege to help!

Interest Rates in 2018 – Cause and Effect

There has been a slow increase in interest rates since September of 2017 – and a quicker jump in the last few weeks.  Bond markets haven’t seen pressures like this in over 4 years – and things are trending higher.

Many potential home buyers and investors are asking why – and what does the future hold?

First, let’s take a look at what the 10 year treasury note has done since September 2017. The 10-year Treasury note rate is the yield or rate of return, you get for investing in this note. The yield is important because it is a true benchmark, which guides other interest rates, especially mortgage rates.

Note the upward slope of the yield on the graph below…and mortgage rates have essentially followed:

OK – so we see the trend line.  So why has this happened?

Well, there are 3 main reasons – and all of them are pretty decent economic signs, as a matter of fact.

Increased Employment and Potential Inflationary Pressures

Many investors believe inflation is bound to tick up if the labor market continues to improve, and some market indicators suggest inflation expectations have been climbing in recent months.  This is a general reflection better economic data, rising energy prices and the passage of sweeping tax cuts.  Many think could provide a further boost to the economy – giving consumers more money at their disposal.

Rising inflation is a threat to government bond investors because it chips away at the purchasing power of their fixed interest payments. As mentioned earlier, the 10-year Treasury yield is watched particularly closely because it is a bedrock of global finance. It is key in influencing borrowing rates for consumers, businesses and state and local governments.

If positive labor and economic news keep pouring out (as most analysts believe things will continue  to improve), then the prospect of inflation will put pressure on bonds and interest rates.

‘Quantitative Tightening’ by the Federal Reserve

Between 2009 and 2014, the US Federal Reserve created $3.5 trillion during three phases of what was called “Quantitative Easing”.  It was the Federal Reserve’s response to help reduce the dramatic market swings created by the recession about 10 years ago.  It used that money to buy $3.5 trillion dollars worth of financial assets – principally government bonds and mortgage backed securities issued by the government-sponsored mortgage entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

When you really think about it, $3.5 trillion is a pretty large amount of money. When that much money is spent over a six-year period, it would no doubt change the price of anything, bond markets included.  By the way, this maneuver has generally been appreciated in the market and (at least at this time) appears to have been a success.

Well, the Federal Reserve has now begun to reduce its balance sheet as the necessity for investment has given way to the possibility of inflation. Over time, the plan is to reinvest less and less – as per the schedule reproduced in the table below – until such a time as it considers its balance sheet ‘normalized’.

Historically, when the bonds owned by the Fed mature, they simply reinvested the proceeds into new bonds.  It essentially keeps the size of the balance sheet stable, while having very little impact on the market. However, when quantitative tightening began in October of 2017, the Fed started slowing down these reinvestments, allowing its balance sheet to gradually shrink.

In theory, through unwinding its balance sheet slowly by just allowing the bonds it owns to mature, the Fed can attempt to mitigate the fear of what might happen to yields if it was to ever try and sell such a large amount of bonds directly.

Essentially, the Federal Reserve is changing the supply and demand curve and the result is a higher yield in the 10 year treasury note.

Stock Market Increases – Pressuring Bond Markets

Generally speaking, stock markets and bond markets move in different directions. Because both stocks and bonds compete for investment money at a fundamental level, most financial analysts believe that a strengthening equity (stock) market attracts funds away from bonds.

By all measures, 2017 was a stellar year for the stock market. As we enter a new year, experts are cautiously optimistic that stocks will continue their hot streak in 2018.

Stocks soared last year on excellent corporate profits and positive economic growth. The Dow Jones industrial average shot up by 25%, the S&P 500 grew by 19% and the Nasdaq index bested them both with a 28% gain.

There is clearly more evidence of excitement among investors in 2018. This has everything to do with a strengthening economy and record corporate revenues…and profits that that have been bolstered by the new tax law.

In the short run, rising equity values would tend to drive bond prices lower and bond yields higher than they otherwise might have been.

What It All Means

So, I think it is safe to say that we will continue to see pressures in the bond market and mortgage rates overall. These increases look to be gradual, but consistent.

With that said, home prices are increasing nationally at nearly 6%, so the increase in interest rate will be more than offset by the increasing value of one’s home! Now is a fantastic time to purchase. Contact me for more information, as it would by my privilege to help you.

Tips on Interest Rates and Mortgage Shopping

During the home buying process, one key component for borrower consideration is the mortgage interest rate. As many know, rates vary widely from lender to lender.

You might wonder if the lowest rate is the best way to go…but please know there are other factors to take into consideration besides an advertised rate.

With that in mind, here’s a list of tips to help give the buyer confidence as they enter down the path of home ownership or refinancing a current home loan. The single best thing a potential borrower should do is to reach out to a trustworthy mortgage lender!

Do Your Research as You Compare Lenders

Be wary of rates that seem too good to be true. If a rate is far lower than most others, there may be significant extra costs involved – remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch!

Be skeptical of lenders that have little to no reputation. Check the web for testimonials, run some Google searches and find out mor about them and the firms they work with. Consider how many years the lender has been in business and any complaints or bad reviews online.

If your lender can’t provide you with a solid list of references and referrals, they might not be the right one for you!

Education is Key: Learn About Loans and Rates in Order to Compare Them

It’s important that buyers decide what their goals are regarding that home purchase and whether you need a fixed or adjustable interest rate. A fixed interest rate means that the rate stays the same throughout the life of the loan. An adjustable rate starts off lower and then increases gradually, usually annually, but not beyond a maximum amount.

Talk to trusted industry experts, then with family or friends about what types of home loans they have had and what their experiences were with each type of loan and lender to get a better idea of what might work well for your situation.

Look Beyond the Actual Percentage Rate

Learn about the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and points. The APR is the cost of credit, expressed as a yearly rate including interest, mortgage insurance, and loan origination fees.

With that said, the APR isn’t necessarily the best benchmark to utilize – find out more about that here….there really are other factors that weigh into this equation.

It’s important to know whether points are included with the APR as it will affect your costs of the loan. A rate may be lower, but may include points, which you will pay for and should account for when comparing home loan interest rates.

Look into other fees that are included with the loan. These might include Lender Fees, Appraisal Fee, and Title Services Fee to name a few.

In Conclusion

Taking the extra step to educate yourself on interest rates and your potential lender will really help you gain a better understanding of the process and options available.

I would be happy to give you the tools and information you need to make wise choices during your home buying journey. Got questions?  Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, as I’d be happy to answer any questions as you might have!

FHA Loans – Closing Costs and Down Payments

One of the reason FHA home loans are so popular is their low down payment requirement. As long as your credit score exceeds 579, you are eligible for 96.5 percent financing, with a 3.5 percent down payment.

The big question is….how much will your down payment and closing costs be?

Source: The Mortgage Reports – Gina Pogol

FHA Down Payment: Higher Is Better For Bad Credit

If your credit score is 580 or higher, your minimum down payment for FHA financing is 3.5 percent. If your FICO is between 500 and 579, you are eligible for financing with ten percent down.

Keep in mind that being eligible for financing is not the same as being approved for financing. You can apply, but very few people with the minimum scores get approved for FHA home loans. So if your credit score is marginal, consider coming in with a higher-than-required down payment.

With that said, with credit scores over 620, buyers should generally be OK regarding credit and FHA loans.

Down Payment Gifts

With FHA homes loans, you can get your entire down payment as a gift from friends or family. Your employer, church or other approved organization may also gift you down payment funds.

Gift funds must come with no expectation of repayment. The loan applicant must show that the giver intends the funds to be a gift, that the giver has the money to give, that the money has been transferred to the applicant, and that the funds did not come from an unapproved source.

If you’re lucky enough to be getting a gifted down payment, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Get a signed “gift letter” from the giver, indicating the amount of the gift, and that it is a gift with no expectation of repayment.
  • Document the transfer of funds into your account — a deposit receipt or account statement is good.
  • Get a copy of the most recent statement from the giver’s account, showing that there was money to give you.

The reason for all this documentation is making sure that the gift does not come from the seller, real estate agent, or anyone else who would benefit from your home purchase.

Help From Sellers

As noted above, you can’t get a down payment gift or loan from the home seller, or anyone else who might benefit from the transaction. However, you can get help with your closing costs from a motivated seller.

FHA loans allow sellers to cover closing costs up to six percent of your purchase price. That can mean lender fees, property taxes, homeowners insurance, escrow fees, and title insurance.

Naturally, this kind of help from sellers is not really free. If you want six percent of the sales price in concessions, you’ll have to pay six percent more than the price the buyer is willing to accept.

That’s okay, as long as the property will appraise at the higher price.

FHA Closing Costs

Closing costs for FHA loans are about the same as they are for conventional loans, with a couple exceptions.

  • The FHA home appraisal is a little more complicated than the standard appraisal, and it often costs about $50 more.
  • FHA requires an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) of 1.75 percent of your loan amount. However, most borrowers wrap that charge into their loan amount.

If you wrap your FHA insurance into your loan amount, your mortgage starting balance looks like this:

  • $200,000 purchase with 3.5% down = $193,000 loan with $7,000 down
  • Add 1.75 percent of $193,000 = $3,378
  • Total loan amount: $196,378

Note that you can wrap the FHA MIP into your new loan amount, but not your other closing costs. When you refinance, if you have enough equity, you can wrap all your costs into the new loan.

Help From Your Lender

If your seller isn’t interested in covering your closing costs, your lender might be. Here’s how that works.

There are many ways to price a mortgage. For instance, here’s what you might see on a rate sheet for a 30-year fixed mortgage:

The rates with negative numbers have what’s called rebate pricing. That’s money that can be rebated to the borrower and used for things like closing costs.

So if you have a $100,000 loan with a three percent rebate (the 4.125 percent rate in the chart above), you get $3,000 from the lender to cover your closing costs.

How can lenders do this? They do it by offering you a higher interest rate in exchange for an upfront payment now. So, you’d get 3.75 percent if you paid the normal closing costs, while 4.125 percent would get you a three percent rebate. If you only keep your loan for a few years, you can come out ahead with rebate pricing.

Contact me to find out more about FHA pricing and options – it would be my privilege to help!

 

Understanding Discount Points – A Primer

There is a fair amount of confusion from prospective buyers about mortgage “points”.  What are they? Why do they exist?

Discount points are a one-time, upfront mortgage closing costs, which give a mortgage borrower access to “discounted” mortgage rates as compared to the market.

In general, one discount point paid at closing will lower your mortgage rate by 25 basis points (0.25%).

Do they help or hurt they buyer?

The answer, of course, is “it depends”.

Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports does a fantastic job in highlighting the definitions and costs/benefits of the paying points. You can find out more here….

By the way, the IRS considers discount points to be prepaid mortgage interest, so discount points can be tax-deductible.

What Are Mortgage Discount Points?

When your mortgage lender quotes you the interest rate, is typically quoted in two parts.

The first part is the mortgage rate itself, and the second part is the number of discount points required to get that rate.

You’ll notice that, in general, the higher the number of discount points you’re charged, the lower your mortgage rate quote will be.

Discount points are fees specifically used to buy-down your rate.

On the settlement statement, discount points are sometimes labeled “Discount Fee” or “Mortgage Rate Buydown”. Each discount point cost one percent of your loan size.

Assuming a loan size of $200,000, then, here are a few examples of how to calculate discount points for a mortgage loan.

  • 1 discount point on a $200,000 loans costs $2,000
  • 0.5 discount points on a $200,000 loan costs $1,000
  • 0.25 discount points on a $200,000 loan costs $500

Discount points can be tax-deductible, depending on which deductions you can claim on your federal income taxes. Check with your tax preparer for the specifics.

How Discount Points Change Your Mortgage Rate

When discount points are paid, the lender collects a one-time fee at closing in exchange a lower mortgage rate to be honored for the life of the loan.

The reason a buyer would pay discount points is to get the mortgage rate reduction; and, how much of a mortgage rate break you get will vary by lender.

As a general rule, paying one discount point lowers a quoted mortgage rate by 25 basis points (0.25%). However, paying two discount points, however, will not always lower your rate by 50 basis points (0.50%), as you would expect.

Nor will paying three discount points necessarily lower your rate by 75 basis points (0.75%)

As outlined by Dan Green in his Mortgage Report article, here’s an example of how discount points may work on a $100,000 mortgage:

  • 3.50% with 0 discount points. Monthly payment of $449.
  • 3.25% with 1 discount point. Monthly payment of $435. Fee of $1,000.
  • 3.00% with 2 discount points. Monthly payment of $422. Fee of $2,000.

You’ll note that when you pay discount points come, it costs at a cost, but it also generates real monthly savings.

In the above example, the mortgage applicant saves $14 per month for every $1,000 spent at closing. This creates a “breakeven point” of 71 months.

Says Green, “Every mortgage loan will have its own breakeven point on paying points. If you plan to stay in your home beyond the breakeven and — this is a key point — don’t think you’ll refinance before the breakeven hits, paying points may be a good idea.”

Otherwise, points can be waste.

“Negative” Discount Point Loans (Zero-Closing Cost)

Green highlights another helpful aspect of discount points is that lenders will often offer them “in reverse”.

“Instead of paying discount points in order to get access to lower mortgage rates, you can receive points from your lender and use those monies to pay for closing costs and fees associated with your home loan,” he says.

The technical term for reverse points is “rebate”.

Mortgage applicants can typically receive up to 5 points in rebate. However, the higher your rebate, the higher your mortgage rate.

Here is an example of how rebate points may work on a $100,000 mortgage:

  • 3.50% with 0 discount points. Monthly payment of $449.
  • 3.75% with 1 discount point. Monthly payment of $463. Credit of $1,000.
  • 4.00% with 2 discount points. Monthly payment of $477. Credit of $2,000.

Homeowners can use rebates to pay for some, or all, of their loan closing costs. When you use rebate to pay for all of your closing costs, it’s known as a “zero-closing cost mortgage loan”.

When you do a zero-closing cost refinance, you can stay as liquid as possible with all of your cash in the bank.

Rebates can be good for refinances, too, as loan’s complete closing costs can be “waived”. This allows the homeowner to refinance without increasing its loan size.

When mortgage rates are falling, zero-closing cost mortgages are an excellent way to lower your rate without paying fees over and over again.

Please do reach out to me to find out more about how utilizing discount points can help you in your next transaction!

Home Buyers Should Know These 5 Things for 2017-2018

There’s a lot of advice online for homebuyers these days. But, hey, who’s got the time to do all of that research. So I’ve selected five things prospective buyers should know about purchasing your house in the next 18 months.

The real estate market is getting more competitive by the day, due to limited inventory. On the other hand, mortgage qualifications have loosened a bit and rates are still near historic lows.

Home prices have risen steadily in recent years, and they continue to do so. Mortgage rates are expected to inch upward in the coming months. Most analysts are predicting a rate increase by the fed in the fall of 2017.

With those things in mind, let’s take a look at 5 key issues:

Mortgage rates are expected to slowly climb into 2018

The Federal Reserve will be reducing the amount of mortgage-backed securities in their portfolio relatively soon – and they have hinted at another rate increase or two over the next 6 months.

In its latest forecast, the Mortgage Banker’s Association economists predicted that the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage loan would rise to 4.5% by the fourth quarter of 2017. Looking beyond that, they expect 30-year loan rates to rise above 5% by around the middle of 2018.

With that said, these rates are still extraordinarily low compared to historical standards.

Home prices are rising

According to Zillow, the real estate information service, the median home value across the US has risen by over 7% in the last year – and many experts see that pace staying consistent. Most economists expect prices to rise by another 6% over the next 12 months, extending into the summer of 2018.

As a result, homebuyers will encounter higher housing costs than those who purchased over the last couple of years. So be sure to research the market ahead of time, work with the right real estate agent, and go into it with a realistic view of what you can afford.

Mortgage qualification is easier today

The mortgage industry has loosened up a bit over the last two or three years. Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have relaxed debt-to-income ratios. As a result, it’s slightly easier to qualify for a mortgage loan today than it was in the past.

For example, many first-time homebuyers think they must have 20% or more ready for a down payment. But that isn’t true at all. Today, there are mortgage programs available that allow for down payments as low as 3%, or even 0% if you’re military or live in rural areas.

Don’t make assumptions about your ability to qualify for a home loan. Reach out to me, and we’ll review your situation to determine if you’re a good candidate for a home loan.

Housing inventory is getting tighter

The reason why home prices are rising has to do with inventory – or the lack of it. It’s just supply and demand at work, really.

In most cities across the west, the current supply of homes is falling short of demand.

What does this mean to the homebuyer? It means you should be prepared for some competition, and be ready to move quickly when the right house comes along.

It’s a sellers market right now

Due to the lack of inventory, this will directly impact you as the buyer. In 2017, most of the major cities across the state are experiencing sellers’ market conditions. In short, there aren’t enough homes for sale to meet the current level of demand.

This is an important factor to remember when it comes time to make an offer and negotiate with sellers. This is where the right real estate agent can really help.

The reality is that current real estate market conditions favor sellers over buyers.

My opinion is that it isn’t worth your time to haggle with the seller over the small stuff. When you find a home that meets the majority of your criteria and falls within your budget, you should move quickly with a legitimate, competitive offer.

In conclusion

With that said, this is my reading on current trends in the real estate and mortgage marketplace. The continuation of rising home prices and more-than-likely mortgage rate increases makes a compelling argument for buying a home sooner rather than later.

As always, please do contact me for more, as it would be my privilege to help you!

Cash Out Refinances for Student Loans

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae has once again re-tooled some of their guidelines. This time it is regarding student loans and how they are treated in debt-to-income ratios for qualifying for a mortgage. This really is fantastic news.

It gets even better for homeowners who have student loans, as Fannie Mae is offering improved pricing on cash out refinances for paying off student loans.

The Big News

Effective immediately, Fannie Mae will waive the “loan level price adjustments” (LLPA), or rate increase adjustment, on cash-out refinances when student loan are being paid off. LLPA’s are intended to adjust for the “risk based” pricing and they directly impact mortgage rates.

Here’s a practical example: a cash out refinance with a loan to value of 80% and credit scores of 740 or higher, has a price adjustment of 0.875 points! This is typically factored into the cost of the rate. (you can click here for Fannie Mae’s LLPA matrix).

The lower your credit score, the higher the adjustment is because of the anticipated higher risk for the loan.  Get this….if student loans are being paid off, the extra cost of the LLPA is waived!

The Specifics

In order to qualify for the new special student loan cash-out refinance, the following must take place:

  • at least one student loan must be paid off;
  • loan proceeds must be paid directly to the student loan servicers at closing;
  • only student loans that the borrower (home owner) is personally obligated are eligible;
  • student loan must be paid off in full with the proceeds from the refi. No partial payments are allowed;
  • property may not be listed for sale at the time of the transaction.

Homes in the California and Arizona area have appreciated at a solid rate over the last few years. Now may be a great opportunity to eliminate student loan debts…especially with the preferred lower mortgage rate!  Please do contact me for more regarding this program.

Raise Your FICO Score by 100 Points In 2017

How To Increase Your Credit Score Fast

You can raise your FICO and reduce what you pay for a mortgage, automobiles, and credit cards. And it’s not that hard to do.

Gina Pogol at The Mortgage Reports has put together a step-by-step guide to get your credit score up and start paying less for everything you finance. Below is a sampling from her article that you might find very useful….

How Much Can You Save?

Per Pogol and MyFICO.com, improving your score by 100 points can save you thousands per year – although that’s not enough to make you rich overnight, it certainly is enough to improve your life.

The average home purchase mortgage, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), was $324,844 in May 2017.

MyFICO says that you’d pay 5.15 percent with a 620 credit score, and 3.78 percent with a 720 credit score.

The difference in payment for an average loan amount and a 30-year fixed mortgage is $264 a month. And that’s really just the start.

The First Step – Assessment

Your first task, when raising your FICO, is to see what you’re up against.

You can get a copy of your credit report from all three major bureaus for free at the government’s site, annualcreditreport.com. Pay the small charge to obtain your FICO scores as well.

Your “representative” score is the middle score of the three. So if your scores are 598, 602 and 623, your representative score is 602. Note that there are many variations on the FICO score, and not every lender uses the same one.

What’s The Reason For Your Low Scores?

Your plan of action depends on the reasons for your low FICO score.

If the cause is inaccurate information, you can clean up your report yourself by contacting all three credit bureaus, Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax, and the company reporting inaccurately, providing proof that you paid on time.

This can take weeks to fix. If you have a mortgage in process, your lender can bring in a rapid re-scoring company to expedite the process at a reasonable cost.

There is no guarantee that correcting information will raise your score by any specific amount.

Know The Codes

If your report is accurate, your scores have “reason codes” you can use to determine the biggest factors bringing your score down. The most common, according to Equifax, include:

  • Serious delinquency.
  • Public record or collection filed.
  • Time since delinquency is too recent or unknown.
  • Level of delinquency on accounts is too high.
  • Amount owed on accounts is too high.
  • Ratio of balances to credit limits on revolving accounts is too high.
  • Length of time accounts have been established is too short.
  • Too many accounts with balances.

Note that the most often-used word in those codes is “delinquency.” If your credit history looks like a rap sheet, littered with late payments, charge-offs and judgments, you’ll need to put some time between your mistakes and your next loan application.

You might even want to reach out to an expert for credit repair.

You won’t be able to start the process until you bring your accounts current. However, your creditors may be able to help you out.

Make Sure You Pay On Time

Next, get a system to ensure on-time payment. It takes about six months of on-time repayment to make a meaningful difference in your credit score, so start as soon as possible.

Set your accounts up on autopay from a checking account. Choose a payment date that follow your paydays and make sure money is there to cover your debts.

If you can’t afford your payments, enlist the help of a non-profit credit counseling service. They can possibly lower your monthly payments, bring accounts current, get penalties waived and help you toward debt-free status.

This may be called a debt-management plan, or DMP. A DMP is not a debt settlement plan, which you should probably avoid.

Some experts recommend that you consider bankruptcy if a DMP won’t pay off your unsecured debts within five years.

High Balances on Existing Debt

The other main category of reason codes concerns the amount of debt you’re carrying. FICO looks at the amount of credit you have with the amount used (utilization ratio), the balances and number of accounts with balances.

Credit bureaus look for spending patterns that are unsustainable. For instance, if every month you spend more than you earn, your payments increase each month, leaving even less disposable income.

Eventually, you have no more available credit and you can’t make your payments.

Fortunately, fixing this changes your score almost immediately. If you have savings to pay off your accounts, consider using it. It’s a safe bet that the interest you’re getting is a lot less than what your creditors are charging.

If you don’t have savings to cover this, you may be able to improve your score by paying off your credit card balances with a personal loan or home equity loan. Lowering your revolving (credit card) account balances drops the utilization ratio.

Don’t do this unless you are 100 percent confident that you will not use your credit cards until the new loan is repaid.

If you have more questions regarding your FICO score and getting into a home loan, please contact me, as it would be my privilege to help!

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