The Lending Coach

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

Category: Housing Market (page 1 of 9)

Forecast Shows That 2020 Will Be a Big Year for 1st Time Buyers

Next year should be a big one for first-time homebuyers.

I’m linking to an article by Aly J. Yale at The Mortgage Reports that shows that the 1st time buyer market is getting bigger.

According to new data, up to 9.2 million first-time buyers will hit the market between 2020 and 2022.

A New Frontier for First Timers

Says Yale, “according to a new analysis from credit bureau TransUnion, anywhere from 8.3 million to 9.2 million first-time homebuyers will enter the housing market between 2020 and 2022.

That’s up from just 6.67 million between 2013 to 2015 and 7.64 million between 2016 to 2018.”

Joe Mellman, senior vice president at TransUnion, the next couple of years should mark a turn-around for homebuyers.

“While we’ve recently seen a boom in refi activity, actual homeownership rates are down,” he said. “Challenges have included high home prices, sluggish wage growth, and limited housing inventory, but we may be starting to see daylight as slowing home price appreciation, low unemployment, increased wage growth, and low interest rates are helping affordability. As a result, we are optimistic that first-time homebuyers will contribute more to home ownership than at any time since the start of the Great Recession.”

Survey Results

TransUnion also surveyed potential first-time homebuyers on the perceived challenges that they face.

Interestingly, their results showed that most people are interested in buying a house for more privacy or the opportunity to build wealth.

Only about a quarter said they want to buy a home due to getting married or having children.

Per Yale’s article, “more than a third said they want a more steady job before buying a house. Another third said home prices are just too high.” 

Finally, the survey also found that many first-time buyers aren’t aware of their financing options.

“Many of our potential first-time homebuyer respondents don’t seem to be aware of the wide variety of financing options available to them,” Mellman said. “It suggests there’s a large opportunity for lenders to proactively identify consumers who are interested in becoming first-time homebuyers and then educating them on options they may not be aware of.”

Where to go for help

It would be my pleasure to help any first time buyers through the home buying process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for more information or to schedule a consultation.

Buying a Home Is the Most Affordable It’s Been in Almost 3 Years

Home prices have slowed a bit in some areas, but they continue to climb in the majority of markets in the U.S.  Inventory is stubbornly low in many parts of the country, but even with these factors, now is actually a good time to purchase.

Believe it or not, research shows that housing has actually become more affordable this year, despite home appreciation and tight inventory. Affordable homes are possible thanks to lower mortgage rates and greater purchasing power.

“Affordability is about the best it can be compared to what it is likely to be over the next few years. So, in that sense, it’s a good time to buy right now if you have the financial means.” –Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors

However, this positive development may not last for too much longer. That’s why it pays to hunt for homes and mortgage rates now, as waiting could prove expensive.

I’m linking to an article from Erik Martin at The Mortgage Reports – you can find the entire piece here…

What The Numbers Show

Martin highlights a Black Knight study (found here) that shows “housing affordability hit nearly a three-year high in September.” Other findings from the report include:

  • The drop in mortgage rates since November has been enough to amp up buying power by $46,000 while keeping monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments the same
  • The monthly P&I needed to buy an average-priced home is $1,122. That’s down about $124 a month from November 2018, when interest rates were near 5%
  • Monthly P&I payments now require only 20.7% of the national median income. That marks the second-lowest national payment-to-income ratio in 20 months

Martin writes “that last point may be the most important. For the average home buyer, month-to-month housing costs are lower than they’ve been at almost any point in the last three years.”

Why Is Housing More Affordable Now?

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, states that lower mortgage rates right now are helping to offset higher home prices.

“Assuming you put down 20% on a median-priced home, your monthly mortgage payment would be $1,070 at this time last year. That’s assuming a 4.7% mortgage rate at that time,” he says.

Today, your monthly payment on that same home could be down to $990 — $80 less — even though you would have paid more for the home thanks to rising real estate prices.

Will This Trend Continue?

Yun, and many other economists, believe that mortgage rates will likely remain attractive through 2020.

“But then they will rise, which will knock off many buyers from the pool of eligible purchasers,” predicts Yun. 

Should You Act Now?

Please do reach out to me so we can analyze your current situation to see if a home purchase might be in your best interest.  Based on the data, now is really the time to get started…and it would be my pleasure to help you.

The Cost of Waiting to Purchase a Home and Trying to Time the Market

If you’re shopping for a home today, you know it can be hard work. You might not find something right away and it’s easy to become frustrated and fatigued.

Sometimes buyers get discouraged and say, “Let me take off a few months, maybe I’ll come back 6 months later.”

Some, on the other hand, think that the market might weaken shortly or that interest rates will fall even further…and are trying to essentially “time the market” Is that the right strategy?

The Cost of Waiting

Here’s the potential problem with that thinking…while you might want to take time off and away from your search, the market isn’t taking time off!

The cost of waiting to buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.

The market is quite good in terms of appreciation right now in California and Arizona. The forecasted growth in value is 2.4% in just the next 6 months; let’s quantify that.

The Numbers

A home worth $300,000 today would be worth $7,300 more in 6 months. Additionally, if you were planning on putting the same percent down, you would have to borrow more because the home is more expensive.

What about interest rates? Rates today are at very attractive levels, so does it make sense to wait for rates to go down further…and what if they don’t?

No, the monthly savings with a lower rate are nice but are dwarfed by the missed appreciation and amortization, and it would take many, many years to recoup what you would have lost.

One other thing to consider…if rates drop significantly after your purchase, you can always refinance in the future to take advantage of that lower rate.

Today’s Data

Here’s the data from FHFA – see how the forecast is for nearly 5% appreciation in the year ahead. The longer you wait, the more you miss out on appreciation and the more expensive you new purchase will be.

Stick with it, keep shopping, and you will find something. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions, as it would be my pleasure to help!

Know Your Down Payment Options: From 0% to 20%+

Coming up with enough cash for a down payment when buying a house is the single biggest roadblock for many hopeful home buyers.

But how much do buyers really need?

What is a down payment?

In real estate, a down payment is the amount of cash you put towards the purchase of home.

It is deducted from the total amount of your mortgage and represents the beginning equity — your ownership stake — in a house and property.

Down Payment Options

Many borrowers still believe that 20% is the minimum…and that’s just not the case.  There are options from 0% to 20%+ that can work for many would-be buyers.

For today’s most widely-used purchase mortgage programs, down payment minimum requirements are:

  • FHA Loan: 3.5% down payment minimum
  • VA Loan: No down payment required
  • HomeReady/Home Possible Conventional Loan (with PMI): 3%
  • Conventional Loan (with PMI): 5%
  • Conventional Loan (without PMI): 20% minimum
  • USDA Loan: No Down Payment required
  • Jumbo Loan: 10% down

PMI is “private mortgage insurance…and you can find out more about that here…

Remember, though, that these requirements are just the minimum. As a mortgage borrower, it’s your right to put down as much on a home as you like and, in some cases, it can make sense to put down more.

Benefits of a larger down payment

Conventional loans without mortgage insurance require a 20% down payment. That’s $60,000 on a $300,000 home, for example. There are a number of benefits to bringing in 20%:

  • No mortgage insurance
  • Lower interest rate, in most cases
  • More equity in your home
  • A lower monthly payment

As a reminder, the down payment is not the only upfront money you have to deal with. There are loan closing costs (you can find out more about those here…) and earnest money to consider as well. Before the dramatic music returns, let’s explore some lower down payment options.

Benefits of a smaller down payment

From Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports:

“A large down payment helps you afford more house with the same payment. In the example below, the buyer wants to spend no more than $1,000 a month for principal, interest, and mortgage insurance (when required).

Here’s how much house this home buyer can purchase at a 4 percent mortgage rate. The home price varies with the amount the buyer puts down.”

Even though a large down payment can help you afford more, by no means should home buyers use their last dollar to stretch their down payment level.

A down payment will lower your rate of return

“The first reason why conservative investors should monitor their down payment size is that the down payment will limit your home’s return on investment.

Consider a home which appreciates at the national average of near 5 percent.

Today, your home is worth $400,000. In a year, it’s worth $420,000. Regardless of your down payment, the home is worth twenty-thousand dollars more.

That down payment affected your rate of return.

  • With 20% down on the home — $80,000 –your rate of return is 25%
  • With 3% down on the home — $12,000 — your rate of return is 167%

That’s a huge difference.

However! We must also consider the higher mortgage rate plus mandatory private mortgage insurance which accompanies a conventional 97% LTV loan like this. Low-down-payment loans can cost more each month.

Assuming a 175 basis point (1.75%) bump from rate and PMI combined, then, and ignoring the homeowner’s tax-deductibility, we find that a low-down-payment homeowner pays an extra $6,780 per year to live in its home.”

Once you make your down payment, it’s tougher to get that money back

More from Green: “when you’re buying a home, there are other down payment considerations, too.

Namely, once you make a down payment, you can’t get access to those monies without an effort.

This is because, at the time of purchase, whatever down payment you make on the home gets converted immediately from cash into a different type of asset known as home equity.

Home equity is the monetary difference between what your home is worth on paper, and what is owed on it to the bank.

Unlike cash, home equity is an “illiquid asset”, which means that it can’t be readily accessed or spent.

All things equal, it’s better to hold liquid assets as an investor as compared to illiquid assets. In case of an emergency, you can use your liquid assets to relieve some of the pressure.

It’s among the reasons why conservative investors prefer making as small of a down payment as possible.”

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are a wide variety of down payment options for buyers.  Please feel to contact me to go over those choices, as it would be my pleasure to help you in financing your next home.

Economic Turbulence on the Horizon – Recession, Rates, and Real Estate

It does look like most economists are pointing to a recession (although most do think it will be relatively mild by historical standards) in the next 12 months.

A recession occurs when there are two or more consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, meaning GDP growth contracts during a recession.

When an economy is facing recession, business sales and revenues decrease, which cause businesses to stop expanding.

How do the economists know this?  And what does this mean for interest rates and real estate values?  Read on for more…

Recessionary Indicators

The Yield Curve

One of the major indicators for an upcoming recession is the spread between the 10-year US treasury yield and the 2-year US treasury yield.

While various economic or market commentators may focus on different parts of the yield curve, any inversion of the yield curve tells the story – an expectation of weaker growth in the future.

What does this inverted yield curve look like?  Here’s a good depiction:

Why does inversion matter?  Well, the yield curve inversion is a classic signal of a looming recession. 

The U.S. curve has inverted before each recession in the past 50 years. It offered a false signal just once in that time. 

When short-term yields climb above longer-dated ones, it signals short-term borrowing costs are more expensive than longer-term loan costs. 

Under these circumstances, companies often find it more expensive to fund their operations, and executives tend to temper or shelve investments.

Consumer borrowing costs also rise and consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, slows.

Unemployment

Unemployment is a recessionary factor, too – as economic growth slows, companies generate less revenue and lay off workers to cut costs.

A rapid increase in the overall unemployment levels—even if relatively small—has been an accurate indication that a recession is underway.

Here’s a chart that shows what happens when unemployment starts to trend upward – and notice that recessions follow shortly thereafter:

As you can see, when things in the economy starts to slow down, one of the first things business do is to reduce their labor force.  The curve is flatting now, and unemployment might be ticking up soon.

Mortgage Rates During Recession

When a recession hits, the Federal Reserve prefers rates to be low. The prevailing logic is low-interest rates encourage borrowing and spending, which stimulates the economy.

During a recession, the demand for credit actually declines, so the price of credit falls to entice borrowing activity. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of what mortgage rates have done during recessionary periods:

Obtaining a mortgage during a recession might actually be a good opportunity. As mentioned, when the economy is sluggish, interest rates tend to drop.

Refinancing or purchasing a new home could be a great way to get in at the bottom of the market and make a healthy profit down the road. A borrower should be market- and financially savvy when considering large real estate purchases in a recession

Real Estate During Recession

Believe it or not, outside of the “great recession” of 2007 (which was caused, in part, to a housing crisis), home values and real estate actually appreciate historically during times of recession.

That seems counter intuitive…but because interest rates generally drop during recessionary periods, homes become MORE affordable to potential buyers (even though property values are higher), due to the lower payments provided by those lower rates.

When more people can qualify for homes, the demand for housing increases – and so do home prices.

In Closing

Although no one likes to see recession, you can observe that it actually can be beneficial for homeowners and would-be purchasers to refinance or purchase during these periods.

If you have more questions and or would like to strategize about purchasing or refinancing, don’t hesitate to contact me, as it would be my pleasure to help you!

A True Mortgage Approval Before a Purchase – The “TBD” Underwrite

In today’s competitive real estate market, potential home-buyers need every advantage they can get.

One way to differentiate your offer from the myriad of others is a true “TBD underwritten” loan approval. 

I’m not talking about the typical pre-qualification letter that is a cursory overview of a borrower’s ability to gain an approval, but a fully underwritten approval that is only waiting for a contract.

This process is for the home-buyer who wants a solid, iron clad pre-approval that has been fully underwritten and signed off by mortgage underwriters. 

How does that work?

Well, it works very similarly to a full-fledged underwrite – except the address is left blank – or “TBD” (to be determined).  The underwriter analyzes the file as if it was a true loan – and provides the actual loan conditions that the borrower must meet.

What’s the downside?

The only real downside is time.  This process could take as long as a few weeks, because all documentation needs to be gathered (tax returns, W2s, pay stubs, bank statements, etc.) and then analyzed by the underwriter.

What’s the advantage?

There are a multitude of advantages.  First and foremost, the borrower will know the exact size of the mortgage that they will be able to qualify for.  They will have a very good idea of the monthly payment and be assured that the loan will go through.

Equally important, the offer you submit will essentially be like a cash offer.  The real estate agent presenting the offer will share with the seller’s agent that the mortgage approval is actually confirmed – not pre-qualified.  This will make your offer much more attractive to the sellers, as they don’t have to be concerned about mortgage approval.

Finally, the closing can take place more quickly than standard financed transactions.  Essentially all that’s needed is an appraisal to confirm the value of the property.  Instead of a 30 to 45 day close, these can be done in less than 20!

In Conclusion

If you know that you will be purchasing a home in the near future, ask your mortgage lender about a “TBD approval” to see if that’s an option.  If so, I highly recommend that you go through the process early – and in that way you will be miles ahead of your buying competition!

Please do reach out to me for more information, as I can absolutely help you with a “TBD” underwrite!

Using Gift Money for Your Down Payment

Saving for a down payment can be one of the most important and most challenging facets of buying a home. The larger the down payment, the lower your loan amount – and that results in a lower monthly payment, a lower interest rate in many cases, and it could help you to avoid mortgage insurance. 

But, there are some out there that can get around bringing in a large down payment. Many have family members or others who are willing to help them out – and that’s when “gifting” comes into play.

The Gift Letter

Borrowers can get help from parents or other people that care about them, but they will need to get a signed statement from that giver that the money is, in fact, a gift and not a third-party loan.

The mortgage gift letter must include the giver’s name, address and contact information, as well as the banking information of that particular account, as well as the recipient’s name and relationships to the giver and the dollar amount.

In most cases the lender will have a template letter that will help you with this step.

A Key Piece – Documenting the Gift

When putting together the gift letter, the giver needs to include documentation of where that gift is coming from – this is extremely important

For instance, the lender will most likely need to see a bank statement or other form of proof verifying that the donor has the money to provide that gift and/or paperwork showing an electronic transfer between the donor’s account and yours.

If the person gifting the funds is selling shares of stock or other investments to provide the cash for a down payment, the giver will need a statement from their brokerage account showing that transaction.

Most importantly, as a borrower, you don’t want to add the gift funds with any of your other finances. Doing so could complicate the paper trail and cause the lender to reject the gift altogether. 

It’s easiest to have the giver wire the money straight to escrow at closing – that way there are no issues with documenting the gift.

Rules and Limits On Gifts

You might assume that you can just use whatever financial gifts your loved ones give you for a down payment, but using gift money is not as simple as you might think. The source of the funds in your bank account, and the givers, will matter just as much as how much money you actually have.

Secondly, the amount of down payment funds that can be gifted depends on the type of mortgage loan involved. If you’re getting an FHA loan with a 3.5% down payment, for instance, the entire down payment can be a gift.

On the other hand, if you’re using a conventional Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, the entire down payment can only be a gift if you’re putting down 20% or more of the home’s purchase price. If your down payment is less than 20%, some of the money has to come from the borrower. 

These rules are subject to change based on lending regulations, so check with your mortgage lender to make sure that you transaction qualifies for the use of gift funds.

Primary Residences

If a borrower is purchasing a primary residence, they can use gift funds for their down payment. These following regulations apply:

  • If it’s a single-family home, you can use gift funds without having to contribute any of your own money to your down payment.
  • If it’s a multi-family home, you can get a home without having to contribute to the down payment as long as the down payment is 20% or more. If the down payment is 20% or less on a multi-unit home, you have to contribute at least 5% of your own funds to your down payment.

Second Homes

For a second home purchase, the following regulations apply regarding gifts and gift limits:

  • If you’re making a down payment of 20% or more, all funding for the down payment can come from the gift.
  • If it’s less than 20%, then 5% of your down payment must come from your own funds.

Investment Properties

Gift funds cannot be used toward the down payment on any investment property.

Who Can Gift a Down Payment?

Depending on the type of loan, there are different regulations on who may give a down payment gift.

Conventional Loans (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac)

A conventional loan through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac means the gift must to come from a family member. Per their regulations, family is defined as:

  • Spouse
  • Parent (including step and foster)
  • Grandparent (including great, step and foster)
  • Aunt/uncle (including great and step)
  • Niece/nephew (including step)
  • Cousin (including step and adopted)
  • In-laws (including parents, grandparents, aunt/uncle, brother- and sister-in-law)
  • Child (including step, foster and adopted)
  • Sibling (including step, foster and adopted)
  • Domestic partner
  • Fiancé

FHA Loans

With FHA loans, the list is nearly identical to the conventional rules, including future in-laws. But, some restrictions do apply – so do check with your lender for details.

While cousins, nieces and nephews aren’t able to give your gift under normal family guidelines with an FHA loan, the FHA does allow for gifts from close friends who have a clear interest in your life. This can include extended family like cousins, nieces and nephews and even former spouses.

In addition to the ‘close friend’ guideline, the FHA also allows for gifts from the following:

  • Employer
  • Labor union
  • Charitable organization

Finally, you can receive funds from a government agency or public entity that provides homeownership assistance to low-to-moderate income or first-time home buyers.

In Conclusion

Please reach out to me for more information on gifts and mortgage qualification, as it would be my pleasure to help you!

Can I Purchase a House with No Closing Costs?

Let’s get this straight and right up front: every real estate transaction will have closing costs – title fees, origination fees for a loan (if you need to finance the property), and recording fees, just to name a few.

So, how can a buyer purchase a house without actually paying those closing costs? Well, read on for more!

What this really means is that the closing charges are folded into the loan balance — if the house can appraise for the selling price plus the closing costs.

And there are pros and cons to doing this, as will be highlight later.

It’s also likely that not every single closing cost can be rolled into your loan. The buyer will most likely still be required to pay some fees at the settlement table. Those specifics will vary by lender.

I’m linking to a fantastic article by Hal Bundrick at Nerdwallet – he’s a personal finance writer as well as a certified financial planner.  You can find the entire article here…but I’ve highlighted a few excerpts:

What Are Closing Costs?

 “Closing costs” is a collective term for the various fees and charges you’ll encounter when buying a home. Some of these fees come from the lender and others come from third parties that are involved in the transaction, like home appraisers, homeowner associations (HOAs), and title companies.

How much are closing costs usually?

On average, homebuyers pay closing costs ranging from 2% to 5% of the purchase price. Unfortunately, this is only a ballpark figure, as there are many variables in each individual transaction. You can find out more specifics on closing costs here…

Many lenders will require that you apply for a loan prior to receiving a more precise estimate of closing costs; however, some lenders are more transparent with their available options and will do the necessary legwork to provide you a better idea of those costs.

Can you buy a house with no closing costs?

The reality is that closing costs have to be paid one way or the other – and by some or all parties in the transaction. Your decision will be whether you pay them with cash when you sign your loan, or as an added expense in each monthly mortgage payment.

How a no closing cost purchase works – it’s all in the financing

Per Bundrick in his article: “lenders can structure no closing cost loans in two ways. The differences between them are subtle, yet the result is the same.”

  1. You finance the closing costs. In this case, the lender will add your closing costs to your total loan balance. Your monthly payments will be slightly higher, and you’ll be paying these closing costs, with interest, for the full term of your loan — so, for example, over a period of 15 or 30 years.
  • The lender will absorb the closing costs in exchange for a higher interest rate. Again, you’ll pay a bit more each month, and your total interest cost will be greater over the life of the loan.

Either way, your monthly payment rises slightly. You’ll pay less at the closing table, but more over the long term.

Is a no closing cost mortgage a good idea?

The answer is….it depends!

If you are a little low on cash and have found your dream home, then yes – rolling $4,000 to $8,000 into your mortgage is a good idea.  It won’t increase your monthly payment by much and generally doesn’t impact qualification.

Also, if you plan on moving, selling, or refinancing in the short term, wrapping your closing costs into the balance can be a good strategy.

However, if you’re going to live in your new home for the long-term, you will pay more over the life of the loan by financing your closing costs or accepting a higher interest rate.

So if this is your forever home and you plan on keeping the mortgage for 7+ years, it’s probably best to pay the closing costs up front.

The Top 10 Mortgage Questions a Borrower Should Ask

It’s a good idea to put together a list of questions to ask potential lenders in order find out which one will be best for you. These and other questions should help you choose the right lender and the best home loan.

How do I obtain pre-approval?

One of the best ways to ensure a smooth home buying process is what you do before you begin your home search.

Mortgage pre-approval, without the pressure of a closing date, is easier than trying to engineer a full approval from the ground up. And having a pre-approved mortgage means you can close faster when you’re ready to buy.

Ask the lender what documentation they need and what processes they have in place to secure and automated underwriting approval.  If they can’t provide that information, find another lender!  You can find out more about the pre-approval process here….

Which type of mortgage is best for me?

This question will help you know if you’re talking to someone who wants to sell you a loan quickly — or a trusted loan advisor who will be looking out for your best interest.

When you ask, “What are my options?” for a particular type of loan, the mortgage lender should dive deeper into your situation and ask YOU questions about your financial goals.  You can really gauge the professionalism of the lender by the questions he/she asks.

What’s your communication style?

Mortgage lenders can communicate with you in multiple ways – including by phone, email and text. Some are tech savvy and others prefer traditional methods.

The point is to be clear about what you prefer.

If you respond more quickly to text messages versus voicemail – tell your loan officer. Often times, there are time sensitive issues that arise during the loan process, so it will make everyone happy if your loan officer knows how to get questions answered, additional documentation etc. in a timely manner.

How often will I be updated on the loan’s progress?

You should be introduced to all parties that will be involved with your loan – from the originator, to the processor, and any other assistants.  Have their contact information handy during the loan process.

And how will you be updated on the progress: by email, phone or an online portal?  How often?

I recommend that you share your service expectations upfront, and check to see if the lender you are working with has these types of processes in place that meet your requirements.  If not, move on!

How much down payment will I need?

A 20% down payment may be nice, but borrowers have multiple choices. Qualified buyers can find mortgages with as little as 3% down, or even no down payment, depending on the property location.

Again, there are considerations for every down payment option and the best lenders will take the time to walk you through the choices, based on your stated goals. You can find out more about down payment requirements here….

Will I have to pay mortgage insurance?

If you put down less than 20%, the answer will probably be “Yes.” Even if the mortgage insurance is “lender paid,” it’s likely passed on as a cost built into your mortgage payment, which increases your rate and monthly payment.

You’ll want to know just how much mortgage insurance will cost and if it’s an upfront or ongoing charge, or both.  You can find out more about mortgage insurance here….

Are You Equipped to Approve Loans In-House?

Underwriters review loans and issue conditions before approving or rejecting a loan. Ask if the lender handles its own underwriting and does their own approvals.  This can be a make or break proposition if you need to close the loan in a timely fashion.

What other costs will I pay at closing?

Fees that are charged by third parties, such as for an appraisal, a title search, property taxes and other closing costs, will be paid at the loan signing. These costs will be detailed in your official Loan Estimate document and your almost-time-to-sign Closing Disclosure.

Your lender should be absolutely upfront regarding this. You can find out more about closing costs here….

How long until my loan closes?

Of course, you want to know what your target closing and move-in dates are so you can make preparations. And just as important: Ask what you should avoid doing in the meantime — like buying new furniture on credit and other loan-busting behavior.

Is there anything that can delay my closing?

Well, buying a home is a complex process with many stages and requirements. While delays are normal, the best way to avoid them is to stay in touch with your lender and provide the most up-to-date documentation as quickly as you can.  If you have any past credit issues or job related changes, let your lender know immediately to avoid any last minute delays.

5 Things Real Estate Agents Should Know About Mortgages

Unless all of your clients are cash buyers, mortgages are an integral part of any real estate agent’s business. Knowing some basics about mortgages will make you a better adviser to your clients and a more effective agent.

With that in mind, here’s a brief list of topics that real estate agents should understand in order to best help and advise their clients.

Although it is by no means necessary to become a mortgage expert, the following five mortgage insights will increase your value as a real estate professional.

The minimum down payment is not 20%

Most agents already know this, but a 20% down payment is the amount necessary for a buyer to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (referred to as PMI) on the loan.  There are many conventional loan programs require as little as 5% down.

For first-time homebuyers, recent conventional loan programs introduced to the market allow buyers to get a loan with only 3% down. If you work primarily with first-time homebuyers, you should also be aware of down payment assistance programs offered by local governments and municipalities.

You can find more about down payment options here….and here

Even move-up buyers should get a mortgage pre-approval

Many of the first-time buyers I work with get pre-approved so they know how much they can afford to spend on their new home. But not all realtors encourage move-up buyers to seek pre-approval, and I think they should.

The situation may have changed from the time their clients originally took out a mortgage. Even if they’ve built up a lot of equity, it may not help the buyer if their income or credit is not aligned with the price of the property they hope to buy.

Oftentimes, people who have qualified for a mortgage at one time are surprised by new and current restrictions and underwriting standards. For this reason, real estate agents should encourage their clients to speak with a mortgage broker even if the client thinks they already know the ropes.

This can help avoid surprises or disappointment further down the line and save time for agents and their clients.

Shopping around for a mortgage will not hurt your credit score

Shopping around for a mortgage with multiple lenders is highly recommended, and even though credit inquiries do impact a borrower’s credit score, there is an exception when it comes to credit inquiries from mortgage lenders.

All such inquiries made in the 30-day period prior to scoring your credit are usually ignored. Furthermore, inquiries outside of that 30-day period that fall within a typical shopping period are counted as only one inquiry.

You can find out more on multiple credit pulls here….

Condos have special underwriting requirements

If you’re working on a condo deal, it is in your and your client’s best interest to work closely with the mortgage loan officer to make sure the property meets the lender’s underwriting criteria. This is typically done through a condo questionnaire.

If you are the seller and state on your listing that the property can be conventionally financed, I highly recommend that you have the HOA documentation ready for the prospective buyer.

Among other things, they will be looking out for things such as pending litigation against the condo association, the percentage of units that are owner-occupied and whether any part of the building is used for commercial activity.

Many condo transactions are either seriously delayed or completely derailed by last-minute surprises that should have been discovered early in the process.

You can find out the specifics about condo warrantability here

Advertised rates aren’t always available

Some realtors encourage their clients to shop around for rates at the last minute or promise mortgage interest rates to clients that they have seen online. This can often lead to frustration because not everyone will qualify for those advertised, ultra-low promo rates and there may be additional stipulations such as a quick closing or mortgage insurance.

That’s why I personally don’t promise rates until I have a completed application and all supporting documents. No two files are the same, so it’s best not to promise something over which we have no control.

There is a lot more to know when it comes to mortgages – and like I stated early, there’s no reason to become a mortgage guru! With that said, these five tips will help you look like a more that capable advisor in the eyes of your clients.

If you have other questions or would like to dive deeper into any of these topics, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

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