Archives for January 2016

Who Is Exempt From The VA Funding Fee?

Who is NOT required to pay the VA funding fee?

This video could save some veterans thousands. VA loan applicants pay a funding fee – as of 2014, 2.15% of the total loan amount – which can be thousands of dollars. Some veterans and spouses are eligible for exemption.

Broadly speaking, veterans who received disability benefits – current or former and who are NOT currently in debt to the government may be exempt from the funding fee. Some spouses may qualify as well.

The key thing to understand is, exemption from the funding fee is NOT automatic! Borrowers must certify their veteran status, government debt, benefits and active service state on VA Form 26-8937.

It’s important to tell your mortgage company that they need to submit this form EARLY in your home-buying process – if they just look up your records without submitting the form the VA will not begin the review and approval process and your home purchase could be delayed by weeks. Who Is Exempt From The VA Funding Fee

Owning vs Renting: Why High Rents Are Worse Than a Mortgage over the Long Term

Owning vs Renting: Why High Rents Are Worse Than a Mortgage over the Long TermIf you’re at the stage in life where home ownership is nearly within your reach, you’re probably wondering whether you should start looking for a home or whether you should just keep renting. Renting is easier, people say, and it gives you more mobility. But over the long term, all that rent money can really add up – and it eventually reaches a point where buying a home is a better deal.

So why is paying a high rent a worse option than buying a house and getting a mortgage? Here’s what you need to know.

Renting Doesn’t Generate Equity

One of the single biggest sources of wealth in the United States is home equity – as you pay down your mortgage, you invest more and more of your money into your property, and it appreciates in value. When you eventually sell that home, you make a profit. The monthly payment is something you’d have to make anyway, whether you rent or own – but when you rent, your monthly rent money lines someone else’s pockets, while when you own, paying down your mortgage actually creates wealth for you.

Renting Doesn’t Give You Access To Homeowner Tax Credits And Deductions

There are all sorts of tax benefits available to homeowners that renters simply can’t access. As a homeowner, you can deduct your mortgage interest from your taxes owing, reducing your taxable income – but there’s no such deduction for renters. You can also deduct property taxes and some closing costs when you buy a home – there are no corresponding tax benefits for renters.

There are also several tax credits available to homeowners that aren’t available to renters. Things like renovations or simply buying a home for the first time can give you tax benefits that renters can’t access.

If You Can Muster Up A Down Payment, Owning Is Cheaper In The Long Run

One of the biggest hurdles keeping young people out of the real estate market is the down payment. It’s not easy, but if you can save up enough money for a down payment, you’re actually better off buying a home than continuing to rent.

According to Trulia, the median home price in metro Houston in Texas is just under $163,000, while the median monthly rent for an apartment is $1,550. That means renting would cost $18,600 per year, while buying a home (assuming a 20% down payment and 30-year term) would cost $9,384 per year in mortgage payments. In other words, owning is about half as expensive as renting in the long run.

Renting may be a good short-term solution, but over the long haul, owning is almost always better. Call a local mortgage professional to learn more.

Real Estate Terms: The ‘Debt to Income’ Ratio and How It Affects Your Home Purchase

Real Estate Terms: The 'Debt to Income' Ratio and How It Affects Your Home PurchaseThe real estate market is rife with terminology that can make a home purchase seem more than a little complicated. If you’re currently looking for a home and are considering your loan options, you may have even heard the term ‘Debt to Income’ ratio. In the interest of simplifying things, here are some insights on what this term means and how it can impact your home investment.

Determining Your ‘Debt to Income’ Ratio

It’s important to consider what exactly your DTI ratio is before your home purchase as this will quickly determine how much home you can actually afford. To calculate this number, take your monthly debt payments – including any credit card, loan and mortgage payments – and divide them by your monthly gross income to get a percentage. In the event that your monthly debt is $700 and you make $2800 in income, your DTI is 25%.

What Your DTI Means To The Bank

The DTI is a very important number when it comes to a home loan because it enables the bank to determine your financial situation. A DTI of 25% leaves some wiggle room, as most banks will allow a DTI percentage that runs between 36-43%. In the case of the above example, this means that the most debt this person could take on per month is about $1200. While banks vary on this percentage, credit history plays an important part in the DTI that will be allowed.

Paying Down Your Debt Or Purchasing A Home

In the event that you have a DTI ratio that exceeds what your bank will allow, you will need to consider your debts before moving on to investing in a home. If you’re planning on purchasing a home in the next year, it’s a good idea to tackle high-interest debt first. However, if you happen to have a chunk of money saved up that you’re planning on putting into a down payment, it’s worth considering that putting more than 20% down may slightly increase the DTI percentage your bank will accept.

There are many fancy terms that go along with the world of real estate, but it’s important to understand what they mean so you can make them work in your favor. If you’re calculating your DTI ratio and are planning a home purchase down the road, you may want to contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

Money Matters: Understanding How a Mortgage Loan Can Be a Productive Investment

Money Matters: Understanding How a Mortgage Loan Can Be a Productive InvestmentMost people tend to think of a mortgage loan as a necessary evil, an expense that has to be managed. But under the right circumstances, your mortgage can become a smart investment – something that makes you money instead of costing you money. With a little bit of ingenuity and a lot of hard work, you can turn your mortgage into a money-making investment that will pay dividends for years to come.

So how do you turn your mortgage loan into a productive investment? Here’s what you need to know.

A Mortgage Can Help You Buy A New Rental Property

One of the simplest ways that a mortgage can become an investment that adds value to your portfolio is by using it to buy an income property. For a first-time investor, the simplest arrangement is to buy a single-family home and rent it out. And if you live in a college town, you’ll find no shortage of students looking for housing – meaning you’ll never have a hard time finding renters.

In order to make this work, you’ll need to first have enough money saved up for a down payment. You’ll also need to have your rental rates high enough to turn a profit, but not so high that you have difficulty finding renters. And finally, if it’s possible, you’ll want to consider turning the home’s basement into a secondary suite, allowing you to max out your rental income.

A Mortgage Can Give You A Home To Flip

The second major way that a mortgage can be a productive investment is by using it to flip a home. House flipping has become very popular in recent years thanks to a number of television programs like Flip This House – and although flipping a home can result in a major windfall, it’s not easy. In order to make a house flip work for you, you’ll need to carefully plan out the flip and ensure that you buy the right property at the right time.

Beginning flippers should usually start with an older bungalow. You’ll need a solid credit score to secure the mortgage, and ideally, you should make your down payment in cash. You’ll also want to ensure the home is in a good neighborhood – this will make it easier to sell the home when you’re done renovating.

A mortgage is often thought of as an expense, but if you plan on buying a rental property or flipping a home, it’s actually a very smart investment. There’s always risk involved, of course, but with the right mortgage and the right home, you’ll have no trouble turning a profit. Call your local mortgage professional for help in getting the right mortgage for your investment property.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 11, 2016

You Ask, We Answer: 5 Ways That You Can Proactively Build and Improve Your Credit ScoreThe first week of 2016 was quiet concerning housing and mortgage related news, but reports on construction spending and several labor-related reports were released. Construction spending is connected to housing markets as it provides evidence of builder confidence and also future housing supply. Labor market trends provide a sense of economic performance in general and can influence potential buyers on decisions about buying or not buying homes.

Construction Spending Dips in November

According to the Commerce Department, construction spending dropped by 0.40 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual reading of $1.12 trillion. November’s reading was short of the expected reading of 0.90 percent, which was based on October’s original reading of a 1.00 percent increase in construction spending. October’s reading was later revised downward to 0.30 percent. November’s construction spending was 10.50 percent higher year-over-year.

While private construction spending decreased by 0.20 percent in November, it was up 12.10 percent year-over-year due to housing construction. Housing markets have been squeezed due to consistently short supplies of available homes. New construction is seen as an important way to ease the bottleneck as buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for homes to come on the market.

Residential construction was up 0.30 percent in November and increased 10.80 percent year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Weekly Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for mortgage rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped four basis points to 3.97 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.26 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 3.09 percent. Last week’s discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15 year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New weekly jobless claims fell to 277,000 as compared to expectations of 275.000 and the prior week’s reading of 287,000 first-time claims. Fewer first-time claims for jobless benefits point to stronger economic conditions in general as evidenced by expanding job markets. National unemployment held steady 5.00 percent, which mirrored expectations and the same as November’s reading.

Labor Department: 292,000 New Jobs Added in December

According to the Labor Department, 292,000 new jobs were added in December, which resulted in the fifth consecutive year where jobs grew by 2 million or more year-over-year. Upward revisions to jobs reports for October and November supported stronger economic conditions. October’s reading was adjusted from 298,000 new jobs to 307,000 new jobs; November’s original reading for new jobs was raised from 211,000 jobs added to 252.000 jobs added.

Last week’s positive jobs reports were released against a backdrop of market volatility due to fears that the Chinese economy is slowing. As the second largest global economy, China’s economy could influence global financial markets and economic conditions if it experiences serious difficulties.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include reports on job openings, retail sales and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book. In addition to reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims, a reading on consumer sentiment will round out this week’s news.

Dealing with an Empty Nest? 5 Great Reasons to Downsize into a New Condo

Dealing with an Empty Nest? 5 Great Reasons to Downsize into a New CondoThere’s a good chance if your children have recently moved out that your home is feeling a lot larger than it used to, and perhaps you’re re-considering the extra space. If downsizing to a condo is on your mind and you’re weighing the benefits of this kind of move, here are some that might make it worth the switch in size.

A Little Extra Money

With the additional money you should be making off the sale of your home, there’s a good chance that downsizing may provide you with extra assets to sock away for retirement, travel or whatever your heart fancies. If you don’t need the money, it might not matter, but in the retirement years a little extra can be of benefit for many.

Minimize Your Costs

Usually, there are many utility and heating costs that go along with home ownership, but by moving into a condo you can alleviate many monthly payments instantly. Instead of paying for every utility, condo living can help to simplify and minimize the amount you owe each month.

Free Up Your Retirement

Often times it may seem like home ownership is the dream, but many people approaching retirement would rather have the flexibility of renting. Because there are limited responsibilities with a rental, it means you can spend the winter months in Mexico without having to worry about who will take care of your home.

A Condominium Community

The great thing about many condo buildings is that they are built close to amenities like grocery stores, drycleaners and restaurants, so you don’t have to worry about venturing far out. It might not seem important if you’re used to driving to the store to make your purchases, but being able to walk might make you a convert to a different way of life.

Forget About The Maintenance

If you’ve gotten used to all of the maintenance that goes into a home, downsizing can be a great relief in terms of the time you’ll be saving. Instead of a lawn to cut or a multi-level home you’re responsible for, you’ll be able to rely on the building manager to do this for you.

It can be comforting to have a home you’ve bought and paid for that belongs to you, but by downsizing you may be able to save on time and significantly lower your living costs.

5, 10, 20 Percent or More? How to Determine How Big of a Down Payment You Need

5, 10, 20 Percent or More? How to Determine How Big of a Down Payment You NeedWhether or not you’re new to real estate, there’s little doubt that you’ve heard the term down payment as it relates to purchasing a home. There’s a lot of different information out there in regards to how much this figure should be and it can be hard to determine exactly what the importance of this payment is. If you’re trying to determine the ideal amount to put down, here are some things to consider.

Explaining Down Payments And Why They’re Important

The down payment is probably one of the largest single payments you’ll make for anything, and this is why so many people save for years. When you buy a home, the down payment is the amount of money that goes into the initial home investment, and this is taken off of the cost of the house. In essence, while this money qualifies as an asset, it is tied up in paying off the total cost of your home.

The Differing Amounts For Down Payments

It’s often the case that many figures are thrown around in regards to the ideal down payment percentage, and they generally vary from 3-20% of the home’s cost. If you are paying a percentage on the low side of the scale, this can unfortunately mean that you will have fewer mortgage options and will be stuck with an increased interest rate. The amount you should pay depends on your financial health and purchasing commitment, but the larger the down payment is, the more minimal your monthly payments will be.

Deciding The Perfect Percentage

Saving up 20% of a home’s total price may seem like a lot of time and effort, but this can be the ideal amount to put down. In addition to lowered monthly payments and a better interest rate, you’ll also be able to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which is required if you put down less than 20%. There is no right answer to the question of how much to put towards a down payment, but you may end up spending less in the long run if you can invest more in the beginning.

There are many figures thrown around when it comes to real estate, but the amount of a down payment should be economically feasible for you and enable you to make your monthly payments consistently. If you’re planning on purchasing soon and are looking for home options, you may want to contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Have You Been Denied for a Mortgage? Here Are 3 Reasons Why You’ll Want to Keep Trying

Have You Been Denied for a Mortgage? Here Are 3 Reasons Why You'll Want to Keep TryingIf you’re in the market for a new home, you’ll most likely need a mortgage in order to afford it. But for some home buyers, getting a mortgage isn’t easy. Banks and other lenders are often hesitant to lend money to certain consumers, often for good reason.

But sometimes, lenders’ reasons for declining you aren’t entirely valid. That’s why, if you’ve been denied for a mortgage, you’ll want to keep trying to get mortgage funds. Here are three factors that can influence the likelihood of approval on the second try.

A Second Appraisal Might Change Your Circumstances

Sometimes, a mortgage lender will deny a loan because the property value of the home in question isn’t large enough to back the loan. If your mortgage lender declines you because of a poor loan-to-value ratio, getting a second appraisal could help. A lot of appraisal companies will give wildly different appraisals on the same property, with some brokers reporting valuation differences of up to $1.3 million.

Bear in mind that you cannot get two appraisals through the same lender, so if you choose to have the home appraised a second time, you’ll need to find a new lender.

Cleaning Up Your Credit Report Can Work Wonders

What’s on your credit report will have a large role in determining whether or not you get the mortgage you want. If you’ve been denied because of entries on your credit report, you’ll want to take every step possible to correct those report issues. If you’ve been more than 30 days late on a payment in the past, it will show on your credit report and affect your score – but by calling your creditor and asking them to remove the negative, you can bring your credit report back into good standing.

You’ll also want to pay off any and all past due balances as soon as possible. If you can’t pay what you owe in full, you’ll want to negotiate with your creditor to pay part of the amount. This will result in the debt showing on your credit report as “paid as agreed”, which will boost your credit score.

An Extra Down Payment May Be A Good Idea

affect your scoreOftentimes, a lender will decline a borrower if the borrower is asking for too much money. If you’re pursuing a mortgage worth more than 95% of the property value, you’ll probably be declined. But if you make an extra down payment, you can lower your loan amount – which may incline your lender to approve your application.

If you’ve been declined for a mortgage, don’t give up. There are steps you can take to get approved. Call your local mortgage professional for more advice on mortgage applications.

A Quick and Easy Guide to Using an Online Mortgage Calculator

A Quick and Easy Guide to Using an Online Mortgage CalculatorIf you’re in the market for a new mortgage, using an online mortgage calculator is a great way to determine what kind of terms you can expect to see and how they’ll affect your home purchase. Visualizing what a 3.9% interest rate looks like can be difficult, which is why a mortgage calculator is so useful – it shows you exactly what a certain mortgage will do to your finances. Here are just a few ways that you can use an online mortgage calculator to learn more about your mortgage needs and find the mortgage that is best for you.

Start With A Solid Set of Sample Data

In order for your mortgage calculator to be of any use, you’ll need to start the calculations with a set of sample data that is a fairly accurate representation of what you can expect to find in the market. For example, if your gross annual salary is $30,000, you won’t want to look at mortgages for $1 million homes (unless you’re doing so out of idle curiosity). Instead, try to represent your actual take-home earnings and interest rates available to someone with your credit as faithfully as possible.

Try Adjusting The Settings And Terms

Once you have your sample data and have done a quick initial calculation, you’ll want to play around with some of the settings and terms to see how minor changes in your mortgage arrangement can affect your finances.

For instance, what happens if you keep your monthly payment the same but increase your interest rate? What happens if you change your 15% down payment to 20% and you suddenly don’t have to pay mortgage insurance? When you understand how all of the different variables impact both each other and your monthly payments, you’re in a better position to judge what kind of mortgage is a good fit for you.

Survey Multiple Lenders And Input Their Terms

When you use your mortgage calculator, you’ll want to avoid simply using one mortgage plan from one lender. Different lenders can vary in their mortgages available and can offer you different terms, which will impact your monthly payments and possibly even what kind of home you can afford. So shop around and use different terms from different lenders – this has the dual effect of both helping you understand how mortgages work and saving you some rate shopping time later.

Online mortgage calculators are an easy way to learn how mortgages work, but you’ll want to enlist the help of a professional mortgage advisor when it comes time to choose a mortgage and a lender. Contact your local mortgage professional today to get expert home buying advice.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 04, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 04 20162015 said farewell with reports on Case Shiller home prices, pending home sales, and consumer confidence. The details:

Case-Shiller Home Prices Post Double Digit Gains in October

According to Case-Shiller’s 20 City Home Price Index, Denver, Colorado, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California tied for the highest home price gains in October with year-over-year home price gains of 10.90 percent. Lowest annual price gains were posted by Chicago, Illinois at 1.30 percent followed by Washington, D.C with a year-over-year –reading of 1.70 percent. Home prices rose at their fastest rate since August 2014 according to Case-Shiller.

Month-to-month home prices showed mixed results in October. Miami, Florida posted the highest month-to-month gain of 0.70 percent. San Francisco, California posted a gain of 0.60 percent; Phoenix, Arizona and Portland, Oregon posted month-to-month home price gains of 0.60 percent.

Cities posting month-to-month declines in home prices included Chicago, Illinois where home prices declined 0.70 percent, Cleveland Ohio and San Diego, California posted month-to-month declines of 0.40 percent, Washington, DC home prices dropped 0.30 percent month-to-month. Home prices in Boston, Massachusetts and Las Vegas, Nevada were unchanged in October from September readings.

While Case-Shiller’s 20-City Index remains 11 to 13 percent below 2006 peak home prices, the index is approximately 36 percent higher than lowest home prices posted in 2012.

Pending Home Sales Dip in November

According to the National Association of Realtors®, pending home sales dipped 0.90 percent in November after posting a gain of 0.20 percent in October. Analysts expected a 1.0 percent gain in pending sales for November. Pending home sales peaked in May 2015, but short supplies of available homes and rising prices have caused home sales to slow. Pending home sales are defined as homes for which a sales contract is signed, but aren’t yet closed. November’s pending sales were 2.70 percent higher than for October and represented the 15th consecutive month of annual gains in pending home sales.

Regional results for November’s pending sales were mixed. The Northeast reported a reading of 91.8, which was nearly three points lower than October’s reading. The Western region posted a reading of 100.4, a decline of nearly 6 points. The Midwestern region posted a gain of one point to a reading of 104.9. The South had the strongest reading for pending home sales in November with a reading of 119.9, which represented an increase of 1.50 percent.

The National Association of Realtors® expects sales of pre-owned homes to top out at 5.25 million for 2015, which would be the highest reading since 2006. The national median home price for pre-owned homes is $220,700, which is six percent higher than in November 2014.

Mortgage Rates, Consumer Confidence Rise

Freddie Mac reported that the average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 4.01 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also rose two basis points to 3.08 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.6, 0.6 and 0.4 percent respectively.

On a positive note for year-end, consumer confidence increased to a reading of 96.5 in December as compared to November’s upwardly revised reading of 92.6 and an expected index reading of 93.50. Analysts were relieved to see increasing consumer confidence after an unexpected decline in November.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, the government’s Non-farm Payrolls report and ADP’s payroll reports. Labor reports act as potential indicators of future housing markets as steady employment is typically a major factor in home-buying decisions.