Archives for November 2014

Refinancing Your Mortgage: Understanding the Various Types of Refinancing

Refinancing Your Mortgage: Understanding the Various Types of RefinancingWhether you’ve been thinking about ways that you can draw on your home equity to fund a renovation project or you want to take advantage of low interest rates before they rise again, refinancing your mortgage is an excellent option.

In today’s blog post we’ll introduce mortgage refinancing and discuss a few of the ways that you can use this tool to help accomplish your financial goals.

Cash-In and Cash-Out Refinancing

Many homeowners refinance their mortgage in order to take some of the home equity out for other purposes. In a “cash-out” refinancing, you take out a new mortgage loan which is greater in value than your current loan. After paying off the existing mortgage you’ll receive a check for the difference which can then be reinvested in home upgrades or put to use elsewhere in your financial portfolio. You may also be able to get a better interest rate in this type of refinancing, saving additional money over the long term.

Do you owe more on your mortgage than your home is currently worth but still want to take advantage of lower interest rates? If so, “cash-in” refinancing is an option that can help you to avoid the mortgage insurance costs that you may be facing when you refinance. As the name implies, cash-in refinancing will provide you with a loan that is for less than the amount that you currently owe, so you’ll need to add “cash-in” to make up the difference.

Home Affordable Refinance Program or “HARP” Refinancing

If you find that you’re unable to refinance your mortgage as the value of your home has declined, the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance or “HARP” Program may be an option. HARP was developed to assist homeowners in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the resulting instability that was caused in the real estate and mortgage markets. If you have been making your mortgage payments on time, have a mortgage guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and your current “Loan to Value” ratio is greater than 80% it’s likely that you’ll qualify for HARP refinancing.

The above are just a few of the ways that you can refinance a mortgage to better suit your needs and financial goals. Contact your local mortgage professional today to learn more about refinancing and to discuss how you can tap in to the home equity that you’ve built up over time.

How to Use a Mortgage Calculator to Determine Your Monthly Payments, Interest and More

How to Use a Mortgage Calculator to Determine Your Monthly Payments, Interest and MoreAre you thinking about using a mortgage to buy a new home? Buying your own piece of local real estate is a major financial investment and one that can require some pretty complex math to fully understand.

In this blog post we’ll discuss mortgage calculators and how to use one of these tools to determine your monthly mortgage payments, interest charges, amortization periods and more.

Determining Your Principal and Down Payment Amounts

To get started with a mortgage calculator you’ll need to know how the price of the home and how much you intend to contribute as a down payment. Generally speaking you’ll want to place a down payment of at least 20 percent in order to avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance and to give you access to better interest rates.

Choosing Your Interest Rate and Amortization Period

Now that you have an idea of the amount of mortgage financing you’ll need, the next step is to choose your interest rate and amortization period. Different lenders will offer different interest rates for every one of their mortgage products, so again you’ll want to play around with these numbers and run the calculation to see which combination of mortgage financing, interest rate and amortization period gives you a monthly payment that suits your budget.

Using a Mortgage Calculator for Refinancing

If you’re thinking about refinancing your current mortgage you can also use a mortgage calculator to help make the math a bit easier. Simply use your outstanding mortgage balance as the principal amount and then choose an amortization schedule that fits your financial goals. Be sure to keep an eye on your interest payments, as you may find that by refinancing to a longer amortization period your monthly payments go down but your total interest paid is quite a bit higher.

Don’t Forget the Closing Costs

Finally, don’t forget that there are numerous “closing costs” – fees, taxes and more – which you’ll need to factor in to your overall calculation. Closing costs will include everything from home appraisal fees to government filing fees and property taxes, and will vary depending on the home and the city or community you’re buying in.

While online mortgage calculators can handle the tricky math to determine monthly payments and interest costs you may still find that you have questions about your mortgage or some aspect of the process. For more information, contact your local mortgage professional and they’ll be happy to share their advice and expertise.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 10, 2014

Negotiation Tips: How to Ask the Seller to Pay the Closing CostsLast week’s economic reports contained mixed reports indicating that the economy continues to recover with occasional “blips” in its progress. Construction spending was lower than expected.

A Federal Reserve survey of senior loan officers indicated that credit standards remain strict for mortgages and other types of lending. According to the survey, a “modest net fraction” of large banks had eased credit standards for prime mortgage lending.

First-Time Homebuyers Struggle as Market Share Hits 27-Year Low

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that first-time buyers’ share of home purchases has slipped to 33 percent, which was its lowest level in 27 years. According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, high home prices and mortgage insurance costs along with strict mortgage credit requirements continue to sideline first-time buyers.

In other news, the Department of Commerce reported that construction spending dropped by 0.40 percent in September as compared August’s reading of -0.50 percent and an expected reading of +0.70 percent. September’s reading represented a seasonally-adjusted annual construction spending rate of $950.90 billion.

Mortgage Rates: Average 30-Year Mortgage Rate Tops Four Percent

Average mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 4.02 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by eight basis points to 3.21 percent, while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose by three basis points from 2.94 percent to 2.97 percent. Average discount points remained at 0.50 percent for all three types of mortgages.

This is not altogether bad news, as higher mortgage rates are typically prompted by improving economic conditions. 2014 started with an average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages of 4.05 percent.

Labor Reports Suggest Stronger Jobs Markets

Last week’s economic news included several reports that indicated improvements in U.S. labor markets. The Department of Labor released its Non-Farm Payrolls report for October with a reading of 214,000 jobs added against expectations of 243,000 jobs added and September’s reading of 256,000 jobs added. While this appears contrary to stronger labor markets, analysts said that a new low in the national unemployment rate of 5.80 percent indicated that fewer new jobs were needed. October was the ninth consecutive month reporting 200,000 or more jobs added.

The ADP employment report, which tracks payrolls in the private sector, reported an increase of 5,000 jobs from September’s reading of 225,000 jobs to October’s reading of 230,000 jobs.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 278,000 against expectations of 285,000 new jobless claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 288,000 new claims filed. This reading supports a stronger jobs market and may compel would-be home buyers to enter the market as concerns about unemployment and jobs wanes.

The national unemployment rate reached a new low with October’s reading of 5.80 percent. In related news, Fed Chair Janet Yellen indicated in a speech on Friday that the target Federal funds rate will likely rise in 2015, but she gave neither a prospective date nor details about how much the benchmark federal funds rate may rise.

Negotiation Tips: How to Ask the Seller to Pay the Closing Costs

Negotiation Tips: How to Ask the Seller to Pay the Closing CostsYou’ve found the perfect new house or condo, and you are now preparing an offer that you believe the seller will find tempting enough to accept. However, you know that there are going to be thousands of dollars in closing costs that need to be paid before the sale is completed and you become the home’s new owner.

The question is, should you ask the seller to pay some or all of the closing costs? In today’s blog post we’ll address this question and list a few scenarios in which you may want to consider having the seller pick up the tab.

Ask if You’re Offering the Full Listing Price

If you’re prepared to offer the full asking price for the home you can certainly include the caveat that the seller assist with some or all of the closing costs. Many sellers will price their home slightly higher than they expect to receive as they believe that buyers will submit low initial offers which need to be negotiated.

For example, if a home is listed at $275,000 a seller might actually be expecting $260,000 or $265,000 for it. You can offer $275,000 but ask that they take care of the closing costs.

Ask if You’re Confident the Seller Has Few Other Options

If the home has been on the market for a number of months or if you’re fairly confident that the seller isn’t going to find much luck elsewhere you can ask them to pick up the closing costs as one of your purchase conditions. You’ll obviously want to negotiate in good faith, but if you’re coming from a position of strength you can leverage this in to some additional savings.

Ask if You’re Ready to Close Immediately

Are you ready to sign on the dotted line today? If you’re sure that this is the right home for you, let the seller know that as long as they’re willing to assist with the closing costs and accept your bid that you’ll start the closing process today. Nearly all sellers will be willing to make a small sacrifice to get the deal done.

As you can see, there are a number of situations in which it makes sense to ask the seller to shoulder some of the closing costs. If you have found a home that you wish to purchase and you’d like advice on how to proceed, contact a real estate agent today. An experience real estate professional can help you craft an offer that the seller won’t be able to refuse.

Did You Know That Your FICO Score Can Drastically Affect Your Mortgage? Here’s Why

Did You Know That Your FICO Score Can Drastically Affect Your Mortgage? Here's WhyAre you about to apply for a mortgage loan in order to buy a home? If so, you may be curious about your credit score and how this might impact your financing.

Let’s take a quick look at how FICO credit scores can affect your mortgage and share a couple of ways that you can boost your score to ensure your application is approved.

What is a FICO Score?

The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) is the country’s leading producer of credit scoring information and is the primary source that most lenders will check to assess how much risk you present. FICO combines information from credit bureaus such as TransUnion, Experian and Equifax and produces a score ranging from 300 to 850.

The higher your FICO score is, the better your credit history and the lower the risk you present to lenders. If you have a score above 750 you can expect that most lenders will offer you a mortgage and likely a very good interest rate. If you have a score below 620 or 630 you may find it challenging to get approved and below 500 it will be almost impossible.

How Does a FICO Score Affect My Mortgage?

Your FICO score will affect you in two main ways. First, as mentioned above your FICO score will help to determine whether or not you are approved for a mortgage. Second, you’ll find that the interest rates offered to you by various lenders will change based on your FICO score. An individual with a score of 800 and very clean credit presents much lower risk than someone with a score of 500, and thus a higher score generally means a lower rate.

How Can I Boost My FICO Score?

If you find that your credit score is a bit low and you’re concerned that it will have a negative effect on your mortgage application there are a few steps you can take. First, get a full copy of your FICO score and credit history so you can see who is reporting to the credit bureaus and what information they are providing. You may find that there are mistakes or old items that have not yet been removed which you can then challenge to have taken off of your credit report.

While your FICO score can certainly impact your mortgage and your interest rate you shouldn’t let a low score hold you back from applying. Contact your local mortgage professional today to discuss your options and to determine whether or not your credit will cause you to have any issues in securing a mortgage to pay for your new home.

You Ask, We Answer: What is a “Reverse Mortgage”?

You Ask, We Answer: What is a Reverse MortgageIf you’ve recently considered your options for taking some of the equity out of your home you may have heard about reverse mortgage loans. If you meet the requirements for a reverse mortgage it can be an excellent way to tap into the value of your home, freeing up that cash to be reinvested or used for other purposes.

In today’s blog post we’ll explore reverse mortgage loans, explaining how they work and whether or not you’re qualified to receive one.

How Does a Reverse Mortgage Work?

As the name implies, a reverse mortgage is the opposite of a traditional or “forward” mortgage in which you borrow a lump sum of money from a lender to buy a home, paying it back to them over time. With a “reverse” mortgage, instead of paying the lender you will receive money from them which does not have to be repaid until you are either no longer using that house or condo as your primary home or until you fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage contract.

Note that a reverse mortgage is still a loan, which means you will still be required to pay interest on it. As your loan balance increases with principal and interest each month the amount of equity you have in your home will decrease accordingly.

Do I Qualify for a Reverse Mortgage?

According to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, there are a number of requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for a reverse mortgage. You must be at least 62 years of age when you apply, the home you’re applying with must be your primary residence, and most or all of your outstanding mortgage debt on the home must be paid off.

If you still owe money on your original or second mortgage against the home note that part of the money from the reverse mortgage must be used to pay this debt off.

How Much Can I Borrow in a Reverse Mortgage?

Like any type of loan, the amount of money that you can receive with a reverse mortgage depends on a variety of factors. Your age, the value of your home, any outstanding mortgage debt, current interest rates and Federal Housing Administration requirements will all be taken into consideration when determining how much you will qualify for.

While a reverse mortgage isn’t terribly complex, there is certainly more to the process that can be covered in a single blog post. For more information, contact your local mortgage professional today and they can share the specifics of how you might qualify for a reverse mortgage and whether or not it’s your best option for making use of some of your home equity.

Have You Had Trouble Getting a Mortgage? Three Tips for Sprucing Up Your Credit Before Reapplying

Have You Had Trouble Getting a Mortgage? Three Tips for Sprucing Up Your Credit Before ReapplyingIf you’ve had some trouble getting approved for a mortgage recently, you’re not alone. Many individuals face mortgage challenges due to past blemishes on their credit reports or a personal financial crisis that resulted in bills not being paid on time.

In this post we’ll share three quick tips for sprucing up your personal credit before reapplying for a mortgage. With a bit of luck and hard work you can be on your way to purchasing that new dream home.

Pay Off Your Credit Cards And Lines Of Credit

The easiest way to improve your credit score and prove that you can afford your mortgage payments is to eliminate other forms of debt from your monthly budget. If you have outstanding credit card, student loan or other debts, get them paid off as quickly as possible.

You’ll also want to avoid taking on any new loans while you’re trying to get your mortgage approved as these are likely to show up on your credit report and can hurt your chances at approval.

Pull Your Credit Report And Look For Errors

If you haven’t seen your credit report recently, it might be worth investing in a copy so you can see exactly what your lender sees when they are evaluating you for a mortgage. You may discover that there are errors or inaccuracies that can be cleared off with a quick phone call, such as a past loan that was fully paid or a missed car payment that was reported in error. Every credit report error that you can fix will bring you one step closer to your mortgage approval, so spend a few minutes combing through your report.

Pay All Of Your Bills On Time

Did you know that every overdue bill can leave a negative mark on your credit report? With so many bills to juggle – credit cards, cell phones, utilities and more – it can be tough to keep them all organized and paid before the due date. However, if you’re working to secure a mortgage you must keep your bills paid to avoid being reported as a late or overdue payment.

If you’ve had some trouble getting approved for a mortgage in the past, take a few minutes to contact your local mortgage professional today to ask for their advice. You may find that they have additional tips and strategies that you can leverage to better your chances of being approved.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 3, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 3, 2014Last week’s economic news brought mixed developments as pending home sales moved to their second highest level of 2014.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced the expected end of asset purchases under its quantitative easing program. In its post-meeting statement, the committee noted improvements in overall economic conditions labor markets as indications of better than expected economic trends.

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for August showed continued slowing in housing price gains. Mortgage rates were higher, but consumer confidence exceeded expectations.

Pending Home Sales Rise, Case-Shiller Reports Slower Price Gains

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that pending home sales gained 0.30 percent in September for an index reading of 105 as compared to August’s reading of 104.7. Analysts said that lower home prices and more homes available likely brought more buyers into the market.

The S&P Case Shiller 10 and 20-city home price index reports for August showed further slowing in home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 5.60 percent as compared to July’s year-over-year reading of 6.70 percent.

This was the slowest price increase since November 2012. Home price growth is slowing as demand decreases. Tight mortgage qualification requirements are likely contributing to lower demand for homes.

FOMC ends QE, Mortgage Rates Rise

The Fed ended its asset purchases under its QE program according to a statement after the FOMC meeting on Wednesday. This move was expected, and the statement repeated its plan to leave the target federal funds rate unchanged for a considerable period after the QE program’s conclusion. Analysts interpreted that to mean that no rate change would likely occur until approximately June 2015.

Mortgage rates responded to the demise of QE with an across the board increase. Average rates reported by Freddie Mac on Thursday were 3.98 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, 3.13 percent for a 15-year mortgage and 2.94 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent for all three loan types.

New Jobless Claims Up, But No Big Deal

Housing market trends are connected with what’s happening in labor markets. Last week’s report for new jobless claims took an unexpected jump with 287,000 new jobless claims filed against predictions of 281,000 new claims and 284,000 new jobless claims filed the prior week. The four-week average for new jobless claims dropped to 281,000 and new claims remained below the 300,000 benchmark for the seventh consecutive week.

October’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to a reading of 94.50 as compared to the expected reading of 87.3 and September’s reading of 89.0. The Consumer Sentiment Index for October was also showed an increase of 0.50 percent with a reading of 86.9 against a predicted reading of 86.4 and September’s reading of 86.4.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes construction spending for September, Non-farm payrolls, national unemployment, and the ADP employment report. Regularly scheduled reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on Thursday.