The Lending Coach

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

Category: Mortgage (page 1 of 12)

FHA and Conventional Mortgage Options – Which is Better?

I’m often asked about the different types of loans available for those with a limited down payment.  The main options are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conventional mortgages or FHA loans.  But which one is best?

The FHA versus conventional analysis involves taking a look at your credit score, your available down payment, and your long-term financial goals.

Let’s take a look at all 3 issues:

1. Credit score – buyers with low-to-average credit scores may be better off with an FHA loan. FHA mortgage rates are generally slightly lower than conventional ones for applicants with lower credit, and FHA loans allow credit scores down to 580.

2. Down payment – borrowers can come in with a lower down payment with conventional products, at just 3% down. FHA requires 3.5% percent down.

3. Long-term goals – conventional mortgage insurance can be cancelled when the home achieves 20% equity. FHA mortgage insurance is payable for the life of the loan and can only be canceled with a refinance. Buyers who plan to stay in the home five to ten years may opt for conventional, as the FHA mortgage insurance can add up over time.

For a more, I’d invite you to visit the source at The Mortgage Reports and Dan Green’s post.

FHA Or Conventional – Which is Superior?

There are a multitude of low-down payment options for today’s home buyers but most will choose between the FHA 3.5% down payment program and conventional options such as HomeReady, Home Possible, and Conventional 97.

So, which loan is better? That will depend on your circumstance.

For example, in deciding between an FHA loan and a conventional option, the borrower’s individual credit score matters greatly. This is because the credit score determines whether the borrower is program-eligible; and, it affects the monthly mortgage payment, too.

FHA loans are available with credit scores of 580 or better. The conventional options, by contrast, require a minimum credit score of 620.

Therefore, if your credit score is between 580 and 620, the FHA loan is essentially the only available option.

As your credit score increases, though, the conventional options become more attractive. Your mortgage rate drops due to the lower score and your mortgage insurance costs do, too. This is different from how FHA loans work.

You can find out much more about mortgage insurance here….

With an FHA loan, your mortgage rate and MIP cost the same no matter what your FICO score.

Therefore, over the long-term, borrowers with above-average credit score will typically find conventional loans more economical relative to FHA ones.

In the short-term, though, FHA loans generally win out.

A Second Thought

One main consideration has to be the length of time you would expect to “keep” this mortgage. 

Borrowers should take into consideration that FHA MIP is forever but conventional mortgage insurance goes away at 80% loan-to-value. This means that, over time, your conventional option can become a better value — especially for borrowers with high credit scores.

It’s hard to know for how long you’ll hold a loan, though. Sometimes, we expect to live in a home for the rest of our lives and then our circumstances change. Or, sometimes mortgage rates drop and we’ve given the opportunity to refinance.

As a general rule, though, in rising-value housing market, if you plan to stay in the same home with the same mortgage for longer than six years, the conventional 97 may be your better long-term fit.

One other thing to consider is upfront charges.

The FHA charges a separate mortgage insurance premium at the time of closing known as Upfront MIP. Upfront MIP costs 1.75% of your loan size, is generally added to your balance, and is non-recoverable except via the FHA Streamline Refinance.

Upfront MIP is a cost. The conventional versions do not charge a fee.

FHA vs Conventional Infographic

 

Image Courtesy of  The Mortgage Reports

You can find out much, much more about low-down payment options, as well as the specifics of these loans here.

For today’s low down payment home buyers, there are scenarios in which the FHA loan is what’s best for financing and there are others in which the conventional option is the clear winner. Rates for both products should be reviewed and evaluated.

It would be my pleasure to help you find the version that’s most optimal for your situation, so please do contact me for more details!

3% Down Payment Options with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Home purchasing has just become a lot easier for a large number of potential buyers. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the country’s two main mortgage giants, now have programs for home purchases with just a 3% down payment.

 

If you’re shopping for a low down payment mortgage, there are options as low as 3% down!

By the way, that’s even lower than FHA requires.

A 20% down payment is considered ideal when buying a home, but saving up that much can be a challenge.  The good news is there are a number of low down payment mortgages available today.

Many homebuyers assume they need impeccable credit scores to qualify for a loan that requires just 3% down. That’s not the case, either.

Here are some of the programs available:

Fannie Mae’s HomeReady

With its new HomeReady mortgage, the giant mortgage backer looks to help first time homebuyers and repeat buyers alike.

Here are few of the highlights of the HomeReady mortgage program:

  • As little as 3% down payment
  • Lower private mortgage insurance costs
  • Down payment sources include gifts, cash-on-hand, and down payment assistance programs.
  • Use income from non-occupant co-borrowers to qualify
  • Income from non-borrowing household members helps your approval.
  • “Boarder income” (income from a roommate) helps you qualify.

Fannie Mae’s HomeReady low down payment home loan allows for buyers to obtain loans up to $453,100 with as little as 3% down.

The borrower(s) must live in the home, so you can’t buy second homes or investment properties. You can buy two- to four-unit properties as long as you’re living in one of the units, but your down payment requirements will increase if you buy a two to four-unit property.

Income Limits for the HomeReady Mortgage

Income limits are set by geographical areas for this particular loan program. In underserved areas, there are no income limits. In more economically developed areas, Fannie Mae has limited the amount of money HomeReady applicants can make.

Essentially, this policy ensures the program is reserved for the ones who need it most. The following is a breakdown of income limits.

  • Properties in low-income census tracts: no income limit
  • Homes in high-minority areas and designated disaster areas: 100% of the area’s median income
  • Properties in any other area: 100% of the area’s median income

For instance, a home buyer in Los Angeles County finds a home within an area that limits income to 100% of the median income. The median income for Los Angeles is $67,200 so that is the most the buyer can make and still buy the home.

If the borrower makes more than this, he or she could find a home in an underserved area with no income limit. Upon a successful home search, he or she could use HomeReady.

Fannie Mae has published HomeReady eligibility maps for each state that detail each geographical area. It can be difficult to see the exact boundaries. Be sure to check the property address of the home you want to buy and your income by contacting me here….and there is a mandatory home counseling class that must be done online for a small fee.

Home Ready mortgages do require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is an extra fee on top of the monthly mortgage payment. You can find out more about mortgage insurance here….

For more, see Tim Lucas’ post at My Mortgage Insider

Freddie Mac’s Home Possible (and Home Possible Advantage)

Home Possible and Home Possible Advantage are two conventional loan programs created by Freddie Mac. They are affordable given their smaller 3% to 5% down payment requirement. The one that’s right for you will depend upon your income, the type property you wish to finance, and property location.

Both the Home Possible and Home Possible Advantage programs help primarily first-time home buyers. With that said, neither program restricts “move-up” buyers.

However, to use either program you cannot have an ownership interest in any other residential property.

For example, if you are a move-up buyer, you must sell your current home before taking on a Home Possible loan.

Both programs are used for purchases or refinances. In the case of refinances, no cash-outs are allowed. Refinances can only be used to change the interest rate or term, as would be the case when switching from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage.

Home Possible Down Payments

Many mortgage programs require that some of the down payment funds come from the borrower. Home Possible mortgages allow funds from a variety of sources to help you reach the 3% to 5% down requirement. Money used for your down payment can come from:

  • Family and friends
  • Affordable seconds programs (federal, state or municipal programs that provide down payment assistance)
  • Employee assistance programs

If family and friends help you with gift funds, you and your donors will need to sign a mortgage gift letter – a legal document that states all funds are truly a gift, not a temporary loan you’d pay back.

Home Possible Income Limits

Because the Home Possible loan programs are designed for low to moderate-income borrowers, income limits apply. To be eligible for either mortgage program, your income cannot exceed the Area Median Income (AMI) where the property is located.

There are a few exceptions to the income limit guidelines. The first exception is in high-cost areas, as you’d find near big cities. In more expensive areas, higher incomes are allowed. For example, 140% of AMI will still qualify in some parts of California.

Second, there’s no borrower income limit in rural or underserved areas. The easiest way to determine your local income limits and property eligibility (e.g. underserved area) are to search using Freddie Mac’s income and property eligibility tool.

Home Possible mortgages do require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is an extra fee on top of the monthly mortgage payment. You can find out more about mortgage insurance here…. and there is a mandatory home counseling class that must be done online.

Conventional 97

This low down payment home loan allows for first-time buyers to obtain a loan up to $453,100 with 3% down. It must be used for a primary residence, so this loan isn’t available for a 2nd home.

The difference between this program and Fannie’s Home Ready version, is that there are NO income limits or geographic restrictions.

You can use your own funds or gift funds from a family member for the down payment, and the home must be an owner-occupied single unit home (including condos).

Conventional 97 Loan Limits

Loan limits are the maximum loan amount available to borrowers who wish to take out a mortgage. Loan limits are set by county (and sometimes at a more granular level). A price adjustment is made so that the maximum loan amount reflects average home prices surrounding the property.

Borrowers get a little more headroom to the upside when buying in a big city than rural areas. So there are two core limits outlined below: the first one applies to most counties across the United States and second one applies to big metro areas. Fannie Mae provides a search tool to find conventional loan limits by property address. Conventional 97 loan limits are as follows:

  • $453,100 in most counties
  • $679,650 in high-cost areas

Conventional 97 mortgages are 30-year fixed loans, and do require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is an extra fee on top of the monthly mortgage payment. You can find out more about mortgage insurance here….

As you can see, there are plenty of low down-payment options available to borrowers today please do reach out to me for more information, as it would be my pleasure to help!

Rising Interest Rates and Increasing Property Values – Updated Forecast 2018-2019

The question asked to me most often over the last few months is “is now a good time to buy?”

Many potential buyers are concerned about rising rates and property values. And yes – both are going up.

My answer to their question might surprise you – as I truly believe now is a great time to purchase real estate.

Purchasing Today – Why Now?

It was clearly more advantageous to purchase real estate last year, when looking through the rear view mirror.  But I’m convinced that purchasing today will be MUCH better than this time next year.

Why?  Well, for one, property values are increasing at over 5% per year, so that home you are looking at today will most likely be 4-5% more expensive next year.

Secondly, the Federal Reserve has signaled 3 to 4 more interest rate hikes over the next 15 months, the next most likely coming in December of this year.

So, let’s be clear about the fact that most experts agree that both prices and rates will most likely be higher next year versus today.

Why the shift?  Read on for more….

First: The Good News – and There’s Lots of It

Unemployment is at it’s lowest level since 1969.

“This is the best job market in a generation or more,” said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at recruiting site Glassdoor.

Unemployment rates below 4% are extremely rare in 70 years of modern record-keeping. The two longest sustained periods came during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, when the combination of strong growth and the enlistment of young men from the civilian labor force helped to largely wring unemployment out of the economy.

Real wages were up nearly 3% in August of this year.

Per the Wall St. Journal, the Atlanta Fed’s “wage tracker” showed a 3.2% increase year-over-year for June. Most encouraging is the report of a bounce in labor productivity growth in the second quarter to 2.9%. That’s the best jump since the first quarter of 2015,

Home prices are rising steadily at over 5% year-over-year.

Home price gains are starting to decelerate (they are growing, but at a slower rate than last year)— but they’re still strong and are running well ahead of wage gains and inflation.

Inflation, the arch enemy of bonds and interest rates – is holding at the federal reserve target of 2%.

In a speech last week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell suggested he sees little urgency to accelerate the central bank’s pace of interest-rate increases or to signal a more restrictive policy path ahead, in part because inflation is so low and stable.

Rates Today – and What We Can Expect

The stronger than expected economic data released over the last weeks and months are actually bad news for mortgage rates, and rates reached their highest levels in many years.

Last Wednesday’s bond rout sent the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, a closely watched barometer of investors’ sentiment toward growth and inflation, to its highest level since July 2011. Risky assets rallied, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record and crude-oil prices to multiyear highs.

Together, the moves suggested investors are once again growing more and more about future growth, a shift from the more cautious outlook that many held for much of the year.

Interestingly, mortgage interest rates don’t necessarily move in step with the federal funds rate, as they are more closely tied to the 10-year Treasury Bond. So, borrowers today looking to get a mortgage aren’t directly affected by the latest Fed hike.

However, the federal funds rate does contribute to the longer-term trends of the 10-year Treasury, and long-term fixed mortgages as a result.

Here’s a little perspective on average mortgage rates since 2000:

Graph Courtesy MarketWatch

With the Fed likely lifting rates multiple times over the next year plus, the trend for long-term mortgage rates is up. It would not surprise me to see 6% interest rates in 2019.

Here’s a piece I wrote earlier this year that outlines more regarding rates and what we can expect in 2019…

The Bond Market and Interest Rates

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7%, its lowest level since 1969, the Labor Department reported Friday. Average hourly earnings, meanwhile, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% from August—the third straight month of solid, inflation-beating gains.

Fed officials raised their benchmark short-term rate last week and penciled in four more quarter-percentage-point increases through the end of 2019. That would lift the rate to a range between 3% and 3.25%. Until recently, many investors doubted the Fed would go that far.

The Fed is raising rates to keep the economy from overheating. If the economy becomes “too strong”, that could send inflation higher, and the Fed doesn’t want that to happen. They combat inflation by raising interest rates.

In essence, the bond market is starting to believe the Federal Reserve.

Finally, I’d invite you to read this article on how rising interest rates are not deterring buyers in today’s market…

What About Another Bubble?

Many clients are talking about a potential bubble, and they don’t want to be on the wrong side of it, if it were to burst.

However, most economists are not the slightest bit concerned about this.

Why? It’s about supply and demand. And the supply is tight. It isn’t forecasted to meet demand until sometime in 2021 or beyond.

Actually, it’s the lack of supply and the accompanying home prices quickly rising are the sources of market headaches.   Remember your Economics 101 class on supply and demand? When supply is down and demand increases, prices move up.

In reality, the supply shortage is a much better problem to have, compared to a demand shortage. The current problem also portends no meaningful price decline nor an impending foreclosure crisis. Rather, there is a good possibility for solid home sales growth once the supply issue is steadily addressed.

As to new home building activity, housing starts did fall by a double-digit percentage in June, as mentioned above, but are up 7.8% year-to-date to June.

More will need to be built, as there is still a shortage. As more homes are built, an additional boost will be provided to the local economy along with more local job creations.

In Conclusion

So, it is safe to say that we will continue to see pressures in the bond market and mortgage interest rates overall. These increases do look to be gradual for the time being, but consistent and into 2019, for sure.

With that said, home prices are increasing nationally at over 5%, so the increase in interest rate will be more than offset by the increasing value of one’s home!

Secondly, home buying power is still extraordinarily high, despite rising home prices and rate hikes.

Find out more about that here.

In reality, now is a fantastic time to purchase. Contact me for more information, as it would by my privilege to help you.

References:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bond-investors-catch-up-with-feds-plans-1538767826

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lawrenceyun/2018/08/02/no-housing-recession-over-horizon/#3d8212a5f79c

https://www.wsj.com/articles/real-wages-are-rising-1536359667

VA Loans: Some Specifics and Fee Structures

Veterans Affairs mortgages, better known as VA loans, offer considerable benefits for eligible military veterans, service members and spouses who want to buy a home.

What makes the VA loan so attractive to veterans is that they offer no down-payment loans and more lenient credit and income requirements than conventional and FHA mortgages.

With that said, there is some confusion surrounding what can and can’t be charged to the veteran at closing. The article below will outline some of the benefits of the VA loan as well as the fee structure associated with the loan.

The Specifics

VA loans generally offer more competitive rates compared to conventional financing. In many cases, these loans consistently offer the lowest rates on the market, according to reports by mortgage software firm Ellie Mae.

VA mortgages are made through private lenders and are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, so they don’t require private mortgage insurance, known as PMI.

Most members of the regular military, veterans, reservists and National Guard are eligible to apply for a VA loan. Spouses of military members who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability also can apply.

The Details and Fee Structures

The seller is allowed to pay all of the veteran’s closing costs, up to 4% of the home price. So, it is possible to avoid paying anything out of pocket to close your home purchase.

If you have little or no funds available for closing cost, let your real estate agent know that you are purchasing your home with a VA loan. Your agent may be able to request that the seller pay for some or all of your closing costs.

Also, the VA limits the amount of fees the lender can charge. This is a great benefit to the VA loan.

Fees Not Allowed to be Charged to the Veteran

Some fees are not allowed to be charged, per VA loan guidelines. Here are the specifics:

Attorney Fee

An attorney fee cannot be charges unless it is for anything besides title work.

Escrow Fee/Settlement Fee/Closing Fee

The VA does not allow the veteran to pay an escrow fee. The escrow fee varies greatly and can be quite expensive, so this is a great benefit to the VA loan.

Application Fee

This is a fee the lender sometimes charges up front before the borrower takes an application. This is not allowed on VA loans.

Mortgage Broker Fee

Sometimes charged by mortgage brokers when they broker a loan out to the lender.

Closing Protection Letter (CPL)

The CPL fee is often included in the escrow fee but sometimes charged separately. It is a letter that makes the title company responsible if escrow does not appropriate loan proceeds correctly.

Document Preparation Fee

Fee charged by escrow for preparing final loan documents.

Lock-in Fees

Fees charged by the lender to lock the interest rate.

Courier Fee/Postage Fees

Sometimes there are original documents that need to be hand-carried or sent via overnight service, and can’t be emailed or faxed. In this case, the escrow company will often charge a courier fee to ensure these services are paid for. The veteran is not allowed to pay these fees.

Notary Fees

Fees charged by escrow to send a notary to the borrower for a signing appointment outside escrow’s office.

Termite Report

The veteran cannot pay for a termite inspection or report in all but 9 states in the US.

Tax Service Fee

This fee is paid to the mortgage company to ensure they pay the real estate taxes.

The Fine Print

This list of allowable and non-allowable fees above is not all-inclusive and there may be other fees on your purchase transaction that are not mentioned here. In that case, it’s best to contact your lender to find out if the charge is allowable on VA loans.

Fees That Can Be Charged to the Veteran

VA Upfront Funding Fee

This fee goes directly to the Veteran’s Administration to defray the costs of the VA program. This is not a fee that is generally paid for in cash at closing – usually VA homebuyers opt to finance it into their loan amount. If the fee is wrapped into the loan amount, it does not increase the total amount of cash needed to close the loan.

Appraisal Fee

The appraisal is paid by the veteran and is usually paid at closing.  For more regarding appraisals, go here….

Origination Fee

The VA limits the lender’s compensation on VA loans to 1% of the loan amount. This fee is meant to compensate the lender in full. Fees for items such as processing and underwriting may not be charged if this 1% fee is charged to the veteran.

Third Party Fees

Companies involved in the transaction other than the lender are called third parties. Examples are title and escrow companies, credit reporting agencies, and appraisers. Their charges are called third party fees. Common fees are title insurance policies, recording fee, credit fee, and flood certifications.

Prepaid Items

Prepaid items are items the buyer has to pay in advance. Lenders require insurance policies and taxes to be paid in advance. Not paying for taxes and insurance can jeopardize the integrity of the collateral for the loan, which is the house.

More Information Available

For more information regarding VA loans and eligibility, don’t hesitate to contact me – as it would be my pleasure to help!

Rising Interest Rates Aren’t Deterring Buyers

Mortgage interest rates have risen consistently over the last year-and-a-half. At that time, rates for the 30-year fixed were just under 4%. Lately, the average is closing in on 5% percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Let’s take a look at the facts and crunch the numbers. You’ll likely find that minor rate fluctuations won’t affect a buyer’s ability to purchase a home

Despite these rising mortgage rates, there’s good news:

  • Rising mortgage rates don’t have to stifle the buyer’s dream of owning
  • In fact, a new study by Redfin shows that rising rates aren’t scaring off many shoppers
  • Rates remain historically very affordable, even if they are a bit higher today

Source: You can find out more here – by reading Erik Martin’s entire piece at The Mortgage Reports

What the research found on interest rates and purchasing patterns

A recent survey of potential buyers by Redfin reveals some interesting findings:

  • Only one in 20 would call off their search if rates rose above 5 percent
  • One in four said such an increase would have no impact on their search
  • Nineteen percent would increase their urgency to find a home before further rate increases
  • Twenty-one percent would look in other areas or search for a more affordable home
  • One-third would slow down their search to see if rates came back down

This means that many buyers understand the environment today – and realize the long-term benefits of home ownership.

How to read the data

Taylor Marr, senior economist at Redfin, says these results are telling.

“Only a small share of buyers will scrap their plans to buy a home if rates surpass 5 percent. This reflects their determination to be a part of the housing market,” he notes.

Marr says buyers are well aware that rising mortgage rates mean slightly higher monthly payments. Yet buyers are willing to make compromises, as they understand that actual wages are higher today, making the purchase more affordable. Also, they know that real estate generally appreciates.  Finally, today’s rates remain very low, compared to historical norms.

“By historical terms, 5 percent mortgages are not that high. A rate below 7 percent is really a good deal on long-term money,” Joshua Harris, clinical assistant professor of real estate at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, says. “Plus, rents are generally high. So even at 5 percent, many buyers will still be saving money on monthly housing costs.”

What buyers can do now

Most experts recommend the following steps:

Buy now if you can afford it – “While rates are going up, so are home prices in most markets,” says Harris. “The job market is great. Many are seeing wage growth in many sectors. These forces will push rates up and give people more money to spend on a house. So waiting can be a very costly decision if you need a house and don’t want to rent.”

Get your financial house together – start the pre-approval process and get qualified for a loan. “Ask questions and understand the monthly payments you’ll need to make,” suggests Suzanne Hollander, real estate attorney, broker and Florida International University instructor. Will your income be able to cover the principal, interest, taxes and insurance? Will it provide enough money to live the lifestyle you prefer?”

Don’t sweat a minor rate hike – “So long as you intend to hold the home for at least five years, these small fluctuations shouldn’t affect your decision to buy,” Harris adds.

With economic gains outpacing mortgage rate interest rates in many markets, you may be better able to buy a home today than at any time over the last 10 years. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me and find out more!

The Top 5 Down Payment and Mortgage Insurance Myths

For first-time home buyers, it can be more than overwhelming to hear all the stories from friends and colleagues about getting their first home loan.

Many times they are led to some false conclusions.

If they don’t know the real facts about the loan qualification process, it can keep them from taking the necessary steps toward owning the home they’ve been dreaming about.App form

Let me clear up some facts and make sure the correct information is out there.

The Top 5 Down Payment and Mortgage Insurance Myths

Number 1: Borrowers need a 20% down payment

According to the National Association of Realtors, the majority of first-time home buyers believe they need at least a 10% to 20% down payment. However, that’s simply not true with all of today’s different loan types and programs. Across the US, today’s average down payment is generally in the range of 5-10%. Even so, there are loan programs that allow as low as 3% and even a few no-down loan options.

Number 2: Mortgage Insurance (PMI or MIP) is required on all home loans with less than 20% down

Mortgage insurance is generally required by the lender when a borrower purchases a home using conventional financing with less than a 20% down payment. But there are dollar house questionmarkloan programs available that don’t require PMI. VA Loans do not require PMI, for instance. There are other loan programs with possible reduced mortgage insurance, so be sure to check in your mortgage lender to find out what might fit your particular situation.

Number 3: Mortgage Insurance is Permanent

Mortgage insurance is in place to protect the lender when there is less than 20% equity built up. Once more than 20% equity is in place, this insurance can be removed. Believe it or not, PMI will automatically be terminated when the principal balance reaches 78% of the original value. You can also request cancellation sooner in writing if your home value has increased enough (contact your lender for exact requirements and instructions).

For those with FHA loans, borrowers can refinance into a conventional loan to eliminate the insurance when your loan-to-value reaches 80%.

Number 4: Mortgage Insurance Protects the Borrower

Interestingly, many borrowers make the mistake of thinking that PMI is insurance that either protects the home or protects them if they end up in a foreclosure situation.House_key_digital

Actually, mortgage insurance is in place to protect the lender from default on the loan, which enables lenders to help more borrowers get loans. It does not provide protection for the borrower if they go into foreclosure.

Number 5: No Gifts Can Be Used for a Down Payment

It’s common for today’s U.S. buyers to receive cash down payment gifts. First-time home buyers are most likely to receive a cash gift among all buyer types, but repeat- and move-up buyers receive them, too.

The down payment gift rules are (1) the gift must be documented with a formal “gift letter”; (2) a paper trail must be shown for the gifted monies as they move from the giver’s account to the home buyer’s account; and (3) the gift may not be a loan-in-disguise. You can find out more about the specific of gifts from Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports here.

Now that you know more of the facts about down payments and mortgage insurance, let me know how I can help you begin your home ownership journey!

Tom Title Bar

The Ever-Changing Mortgage Lending Landscape – Alternative Options Included

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Historically, mortgages in the U.S. were traditionally financed by banks. Interestingly, these institutions also operate other lines of business, like offering deposit accounts, safe deposit boxes, and insurance products.

But today, mortgage lending is anything but old-fashioned, and as buyers are looking to lenders other than banks to fill the void. home loan tiles

Fortunately, these newer financial institutions continue to create innovative mortgages that fit the diverse needs of borrowers, rather than forcing consumers to conform to rigid standards. The end result is more people with the financing to afford the home they need, rather than being shut out of homeownership entirely.

The trend away from banks and toward nontraditional lenders is a relatively recent development that is reshaping the financial landscape in the U.S. This can be seen in a report of the top U.S. mortgage lenders by market share in 2011 compared to 2016. Get this, in 2011, 50 percent of all home financing was underwritten by the five biggest banks in the country.

interest-rateJust five years later, however, six of the top 10 mortgage lenders by volume were considered “non-bank lenders” that focus on home loans almost exclusively.”

Explaining the shift in the mortgage market

Why are more homebuyers choosing non-bank lenders over traditional banks?

Much of the shift has to do with the increasingly strict standards that banks adhere to when vetting mortgage applications. Prospective homebuyers were expected to have stellar credit scores, high income and significant net worth already established before being approved for a traditional loan.

However, this is not the financial reality for millions of Americans. The new lenders can be a better alternative for families that have imperfect credit for one reason or another and just need a second chance.

Secondly, the new mortgage lenders are much more in tune with their customers and provide a far better experience. There is a much greater level of personalization, With the larger banks, on the other hand, customers can just become a number.magnifier-inspection-house

These new lenders have dramatically increased their market share purely on the basis of the superior service and support they provide.

Finally, the speed in which mortgage lenders can close transactions is much quicker than those of traditional banks. There are fewer layers in these organizations decision making can be made at a faster pace.

Traditional banks are not known for their efficiency, and the result for mortgage applicants is a long, drawn-out process of signing paperwork and enduring waiting periods

Many mortgage lenders can close loans in under 25 days, where that is not the case with larger institutions.

Non-Prime Lending Options

The need for non-prime products is growing, as conforming loan rules have tightened.  Working with a lender that can only provide standard, conventional products will limit a legitimate and legal funding resource for many customers.

Approved_pagadesignA bank statement loan or a loan on a non-warrantable condo are examples of “non-prime” products.  A bank statement loan, among other things, can support the private business owner who has significant expense associated with their business and can still satisfy credit and ability to repay. These are individuals who will not qualify under the conventional guidelines of Fannie/Freddie but still have the ability to service a mortgage on time.

For investors, there are products that utilize the rent from the property to qualify for a loan. In this option, the debt coverage ratio measures the ability to pay the property’s monthly mortgage payments from the cash generated from renting the property.

Lenders use this ratio as a guide to help them understand whether the property will generate enough cash to pay the mortgage expense.

The debt coverage ratio is calculated by dividing the property’s month net operating income (NOI) by a property’s monthly debt service. The monthly debt service is the total of the mortgage principal and interest payment, taxes, insurance, and any HOA fees.

Contact The Right Lender

When you are shopping for you lender, make sure that he/she has a wide variety of products available and takes the time to understand your individual needs. That will make all of the difference – and it would be my pleasure to help!

Tom Title Bar

The Latest on Interest Rates for 2018 and 2019

The Federal Reserve lifted the federal funds rate last month by a quarter percentage point to a range of 1.75 percent to 2 percent. The Fed has indicated that there will most likely be two more rate hikes this year.

Most financial experts expect the Federal Reserve to raise rates at least 3 times in 2019, as well.

Mortgage interest rates don’t necessarily move in step with the federal funds rate, as they are more closely tied to the 10-year Treasury Bond. So, borrowers today looking to get a mortgage aren’t directly affected by the latest Fed hike.

However, the federal funds rate does contribute to the longer-term trends of the 10-year Treasury, and long-term fixed mortgages as a result.

With the Fed likely lifting rates multiple times over the next couple of years, the trend for long-term mortgage rates is up. 

Many experts are forecasting that mortgage rates could move near the 6% range sometime in 2019.

Why is the Federal Reserve raising rates?

Well, it’s a bit complicated, but there are some very good reasons – and they are all designed to help foster stable, economic growth.

‘Quantitative Tightening’

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.

This seems to have helped the economy avert disaster, but their impacts were far from ideal. Nonetheless, the economy slowly lifted off as consumers rebuilt their balance sheets and asset values rose.

Today, the Fed is slowly reversing this stimulus program. They’re raising short-term rates and shrinking their bond and mortgage back securities portfolio.

The consensus thinking is that the Federal Reserve members fear that inflation will take hold if they keep interest rates artificially low.

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.

Inflation and Interest Rates

Inflation is beginning to inch up as the labor market continues to improve. Most indicators suggest inflation has been climbing in recent months. If you look at both the Producer Price Index and the Consumer Price Index, you will see the trends.

This is a general reflection better economic data, rising energy prices, and increased employment.

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.

Positive labor and economic news keeps coming in (as predicted over the last 6 months), and the prospect of inflation will put pressure on bonds and interest rates.

What It All Means

So, it is safe to say that we will continue to see pressures in the bond market and mortgage interest rates overall. These increases do look to be gradual for the time being, but consistent and into 2019, for sure.

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!

Secondly, home buying power is still extraordinarily high, despite rising home prices and rate hikes. Find out more about that here.

In reality, now is a fantastic time to purchase. Contact me for more information, as it would by my privilege to help you.

Home Buying Power Still High, Despite Rising Prices and Rates

I’m receiving calls and questions all the time regarding mortgage qualification and home buying in today’s changing interest rate and price appreciation marketplace.

Your home buying power is the result of several variables – but there’s great news today when you consider increased income and historically low mortgage rates.

I’m linking today to an article by Amy Hale of The Mortgage Reports that really nails the answer. Go here for the entire article – and I’ve highlighted the key pieces below.

Are home prices really that high?

It might seem like home prices just keep rising, but according to the historical numbers, today’s housing is actually very affordable. “Real” home prices—those adjusted for income and interests rate changes—are currently 32.5 percent below their housing boom peak from 2006.

Home buyers still hold the power

According to the latest First American Real House Price Index, which aims to measure overall housing affordability by considering changes in income, interest rate and actual home prices, consumer home buying power is still strong.

“While unadjusted house prices have been on the rise since the end of 2011, nearly a seven-year run, consumer house-buying power has also increased by 14.3 percent over the same period,” said Mark Fleming, First American’s chief economist.

“House-buying power, how much one can buy based on changes in income and interest rates, has benefited from a decline in mortgage rates since 2011, and the more recent slow, but steady growth of household income.”

Buying power is actually up significantly from 2011 because real wages have actually increased over that time – household income has risen nearly 20% over the last 7 years. Also, mortgage lenders have relaxed some of the tight requirements and ratios for qualification. This combination makes it a great time for buyers and borrowers.

The real story on home prices

Overall, “real” home prices aren’t even close to their historical peak. In fact, according to Fleming, they’re currently 32.5 percent below July 2006’s prices and 9 percent lower than in January 2000.

Don’t let sticker prices fool you. American home buying power is still high. Want to get in on the market? Reach out to me for some answers, as it would be my privilege to help!

Rents Continue To Rise – Is It Time To Consider Purchasing Instead?

According to a new report, if you’re renting a house in hopes of saving money, you might want to re-think that strategy. Amy Yale at The Mortgage Reports shows that single-family rents are up significantly over the year –particularly on lower-end properties.

You can access Amy’s article in its entirety here….

According to industry expert CoreLogic and their Single-Family Rent Index, rents on single-family properties are up 2.8 percent over the year.

On lower-priced properties (those with a rent lower than 75 percent of the regional median), rents have risen nearly 4 percent in the same period.

The Reason

Molly Boesel, CoreLogic’s principal economist, says growing demand for entry-level homes is the single largest factor:

“Single-family rent price growth remained solid in January,” Boesel said. “High demand and low supply for entry-level properties drove lower-priced rentals to have faster price growth than higher-priced rentals, revealing affordability pressures in this segment of the rental market.”

Hale also states that Phoenix showed over-4 percent gains in rent over the year.

The reason for these regional increases? Per Hale and CoreLogic, it’s strong economic growth, low levels of new construction, and increasing employment opportunities.

“Phoenix experienced 4.5 percent year-over-year rent growth in January 2018, driven by employment growth of 2.7 percent,” CoreLogic reported. This is compared with the national employment growth average of 1.4 percent, according to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This nationwide problem threatens to get worse before it gets better. Apartment builders are building more units, potentially creating supply that is beginning to crest. With that said, demand still exceeds the supply, especially for affordable housing.

Continuing The Trend

The relentless shortage of housing has lead to dramatic increases in rental rates – and the implications of high rent, and declining home ownership, could be profound over time.

“Almost all the housing demand in recent years has been filled by rental units,” says Sara Strochak, a research assistant with the Urban Institute. She also states that single-family rentals have gone up 30% within the last three years.

The trend began with large firms buying up cheap homes during the recession and turning them into cash-generating rentals—often rented by families who’d lost their own homes or who could no longer qualify for mortgages.

As is always the case with the supply and demand curve, high number of renters has caused rents to increase significantly – in many places, high enough for buying to become the better option.

The Solution

With rents continuing their upward climb, it might be time to consider buying or building a home.

One of the great underlying opportunities here is that buying a home can actually be  cheaper than renting. Renters interested in reducing expenses and collecting tax benefits should absolutely talk to a mortgage lender prior to signing that rental contract.

Current market trends this summer really should encourage home ownership – find out more here….

Mortgage uunderwriting guidelines have been slowly loosening and those that were denied for a mortgage last year may qualify this year.  There are also multiple down-payment assistance programs for borrowers with little to no down payment available.

Again, the first step should be contacting your local mortgage professional and work on pre-qualification.  Next, contact your real estate agent and begin your home search!

 

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