Factors To Consider When Applying For A Home MortgageOwning a home can be a sign of independence and success. It allows you to build up equity and the mortgage interest and property taxes are tax-deductible. What can you do to make a home affordable for you?

Reputable lenders look at a list of criteria to decide how much they’ll loan you. 

This List Includes:

  • Credit score
  • Existing assets including cash
  • Car leases or loans
  • Credit card balances
  • Debt consolidation loans
  • Home equity loans
  • Installment loans
  • Student loans
  • Other monthly debts
  • Size/source of your down payment

If you’d like to get an idea of what you can afford before talking to a lender, here are a few tools you can use to decide whether a home is within your budget.

Here Are Some Guidelines:

  • As a rule of thumb, your house hunting budget shouldn’t be more than 2.5 times your pre-tax annual income.  If you earn $50,000 a year, your budget for house hunting should be around $125,000.
  • Your Housing Expense Ratio, which is principal, interest, taxes and insurance shouldn’t be more than 25% to 28% of your pre-tax monthly income.
  • Your Debt-to-Income Ratio should be no more than 36% of your pre-tax monthly income.  This is the ratio between how much you owe and how much you earn.
  • Use an online calculator to figure how much home you can afford.

“Qualifying for” and “can afford” are two different things.  Shopping for a home within your budget will save you a lot of heartache now and in the future.

If you’d like help determining how much mortgage you can really afford, call your trusted mortgage professional today.

Are 50 Year Mortgages A Good Financing OptionWhen most people are taking out a mortgage on a property, they select either a 15 or 30 year mortgage loan. However, there is a new mortgage option that has been available to home owners since 2006 and that is the 50 year mortgage loan.

Although a half-century might seem like a very long loan term, there can be some advantages to taking out a five-decade mortgage. Here are some of the pros and cons to taking out a mortgage that you repay over 50 years.

Advantages

The main benefit that you will experience with a 50 year mortgage is the ability to take out a larger loan and buy a more expensive house that you might not have otherwise been able to afford. This means that you can enjoy a better standard of living with lower monthly payments.

A 50 year mortgage might also make home ownership easier to qualify for as a first time homebuyer. On a monthly basis, it means that you will have more room in your budget for paying for other expenses.

Disadvantages

Of course, the major disadvantage to a 50 year mortgage is that you will end up paying much more interest over the loan period. Also, you will build equity in the home very slowly and you will not gain back much equity if you sell the home a few years on.

Also, often 50 year mortgages will come with higher interest rates than their 30 year counterparts. You can usually expect to pay an extra 0.25% or more than you would if you took out a 30 year mortgage, which can really add up over time.

It might be advantageous to take a 50 year mortgage with low payments in the beginning, with the aim to refinance and reduce your term in the future when you are earning more money and can make higher mortgage payments.

A 50 year mortgage can sometimes be advantageous, but ask yourself if you really want to wait until you are in your 70s or 80s before owning your home! If a 50 year mortgage is the only way you can afford your mortgage payments, you might be considering a home that is beyond your price range.

To find out more about the right mortgage term for you on your property, call your trusted mortgage professional today. 

Recent Government Activity And Its Effect On Mortgage Interest RatesMortgage rates typically are tied more to the yields on the 10-year Treasury note more than any other indicator. With the government in flux as the shutdown happened and ended, mortgage rates are also changing.

Overall, mortgage rates have decreased because of a lack of confidence in the government’s ability to get its finances under control.

Although rates spiked in September when the Fed hinted that they would not be purchasing as many bonds, they quickly released an announcement that they would actually be maintaining their current purchasing habits.

The Time Is Ripe For Homeowners

Since then, mortgage interest rates have been dropping back down to their previous levels. With 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgage rates continuing at very low levels, the time is ripe for homeowners to purchase or refinance.

In the day following the reopening of the government, mortgage rates continued at their low levels, which surprised some economists. The stock market went down and yields on the 10-year Treasury note also decreased, which both suggest a lack of confidence in the government.

Despite their ability to come to an agreement, investors and economists note that it is just a temporary fix, and there will likely be anothershowdown looming. Rates may remain low for a little while, but as the government begins releasing more economic data, mortgage interest rates could increase if the data shows growth in the economy.

Buyers Expect An Increase Of Applications

The government shutdown did have an effect on the volume of applications for government mortgages, like FHA and VA loans. Both reached a six-year low, largely because there were no staff on hand to answer questions over the phone and the offices were running on skeleton crews.

As the offices are back up and running again, buyers are expected to increase their volume of applications because those who had been delaying their applications now need to get the ball rolling on their home purchases.

Amidst all of the uncertainty, one thing is quite clear. It’s unlikely that interest rates will drop significantly lower than they are now, so buyers looking to get a mortgage and homeowners looking to refinance may be best off locking a rate soon rather than waiting.

How Does An Interest-Only Mortgage Work?When you have been researching your different options for a mortgage on your home, you might have heard of an “Interest-Only Mortgage”. What exactly does this type of mortgage mean and how does it work?

Usually when you take out a loan, you must pay back the capital debt (the amount you borrowed) and the interest on that debt. An interest-only mortgage offers a cheaper option for purchasing a property, because you will only be making payments on the interest and not the capital.

Compared to a repayment style mortgage where you are paying down the principle of the loan, an interest-only mortgage will have much lower monthly payments.

However, when you reach the end of the mortgage term with an interest-only mortgage, you will not have paid off any of the original principle of the loan. This means that you will still not be any closer to owning the home than when you started, whereas with a repayment mortgage you would be in full possession of the property.

You will reach the end of the loan term, still owing the lender $250,000 or whatever the value of the house was. Also, if you do not pay off that lump sum at that point, the lender will charge you interest on the entire loan for the full time.

From the description of how it works, it seems like there would never be a good situation for taking out an interest-only mortgage. However, if you are stretched financially and you are desperate to get onto the property ladder it might be a viable option. Some people take on an interest-only mortgage so that they can buy their first home, then when their income goes up they switch to a repayment mortgage.

These types of mortgages are often used by buy-to-let investors, who are able to claim their tax back against the mortgage interest. If this is your goal, you might find this strategy advantageous.

To find out more about mortgages and determine the best option for your needs when buying a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

No More Confusion About Mortgage Jargon, Understand ItA recent study of US and UK home buyers, conducted by the London based Nationwide Building Society, found that more than 40% of people buying homes were confused by the jargon that lenders used to describe mortgages.

When it comes to taking out a mortgage on your home, could confusing mortgage jargon be costing you money and causing you to make ill-informed choices?

According to the study, only 31% of home buyers understood what the term “LTV” meant, an acronym that stands for “loan to value” and describes the ration between the amount of the mortgage and the value of the home.

Not only did the survey show that many mortgage borrowers were confused about what the terms meant, but they also were shy about asking for explanations of various words that they didn’t understand.

In order to make a wise financial decision and choose the right mortgage for you, it is essential to do your research and understand exactly what you are signing up for. If you are unsure of what a mortgage term means, don’t be afraid to ask your lender for clarification.

Here are a few of the common mortgage jargon words that many homebuyers don’t understand:

Adjustable Rate Mortgage

This is a loan that has an interest rate which will fluctuate over time, such as every three years or every year after the first five years. This type of mortgage can be advantageous if you plan to sell the home within the first few years of owning it. Another option is a fixed rate mortgage, which does not fluctuate.

Qualifying Ratios

This is a calculation that your mortgage lender will make in order to determine the largest mortgage that you could possibly afford to obtain. The calculation is made by looking at your income, your existing debt and other factors.

Stips Or Stipulations

If your mortgage lender mentions “stips” they are probably talking about stipulations, which are the requirements that are submitted in order to clear your mortgage to close. This includes verifications of your bank statement as well as proof of employment and rent. Verification of Rent and Verification of Employment are often abbreviated as VOR and VOE.

HUD

This refers to the US Department Of Housing Development Settlement Statement that you will be required to sign when taking out a mortgage. This document contains the details of the arrangement, including all fees agreed upon.

These are just a few examples of mortgage jargon that you might not be familiar with. If you have any more questions about taking out a mortgage on a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

What You Need to Know About Private Mortgage InsuranceIf you are on the verge of buying real estate, you’ve probably heard the term Private Mortgage Insurance. Mortgage professionals talk about it a great deal, but you may be asking, “What is it exactly? And why should I care?”

Private Mortgage Insurance Defined

PMI is required by lenders if the down payment of a purchase is less than 20 percent of the home’s value. It protects the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan.

It also makes the lender more apt to loan, even if the down payment is as low as 3%, because in the long run, the lender’s investment is protected.

You Pay For It

Unlike other types of insurance which you pay to protect your interest in an asset, you pay Private Mortgage Insurance to the mortgage company to protect its interest in your new real estate. (Note that PMI is not usually tax deductible. Check with a tax professional for details.)

Make It Go Away: PMI Can Be Terminated Once You’ve Paid Down Your Loan

Once you pay down your mortgage to the point where it hits the magical 80% of the original purchase price or appraised value, whichever is less, you can request cancellation of PMI. The Homeowners Protection Act requires that loans made after 1999 include notifications to the borrower when you arrive at this point in your payments.

Your PMI payments must be automatically canceled once you pay down your loan to 78%. At closing, and on a yearly basis, you should receive information from your lender about when you can request cancellation.

Whether you’re ready to buy real estate or need more information before taking the plunge, I can help. Contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

Read This Before Signing Your Reverse MortgageThere are many reasons people take out reverse mortgages. However, this option is usually considered by cash-strapped seniors who own their homes and are looking to ease the burden of their golden years.

The beauty of reverse mortgages is that you’ll receive money as long as you are current on property taxes and homeowners insurance.

While this seems like an appealing opportunity, it’s a decision that should not be made lightly. Not only is the reverse mortgage complicated in itself, but homeowners make all sorts of mistakes when they’re too quick to sign the dotted line. So if you’re considering one, be wary of the common pitfalls below.

Buying Into A Scam

With reverse mortgages becoming a more common option for those over 62, mischievous opportunists are searching for ways to solicit seniors in need of help. Scammers will take advantage by charging high fees, funneling off parts of payments, creating fake loans or committing identity theft. Ensure you use a lender approved by the Federal Housing Association.

Confusing Your Payment Options

Reverse mortgages come in many forms. You can get the amount in one lump sum. Tenure payments are another option that give you a certain amount each month until you die or move out. There are also term payments, lines of credit, and modified tenure and term payments. You need to take the time to research your options and decide which one will be best for you in the long run.

Compromising Government Assistance

There are several government assistance programs that set asset limits on your monthly spending. These programs provide aid for low-income and disabled individuals. If any assistance programs financially support you, then be sure to consult their advisers before determining your reverse mortgage plan.

Disregarding Other Options

Reverse mortgages are extremely expensive and many people see them as their only option. However, there are other alternatives. Consider taking out a personal loan, downsizing or even taking on roommates. The Golden Girls always seemed to have fun.

A reverse mortgage could be just the thing to give you the extra cash flow you need and ease your mind. However, make sure you’re consulting a trusted home financing specialist, reading the fine print and have carefully considered all your options.

Reasons to Think twice before paying off your mortgage too quicklyMost of the financial advice out there is focused on how you can pay off the mortgage on your home as quickly as possible, from making lump sum payments to switching to bi-weekly payments rather than monthly.

However, there are a few things that you might want to consider before you put all of your financial efforts into paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible.

Diversifying Your Investments

Of course, paying off your mortgage as fast as possible has a number of obvious advantages. You will be able to own your home a lot sooner and you will decrease the amount of interest you pay over the years. However, are you diversifying your assets?

Savvy investors know that they should decrease their risk by spreading their money into a number of different types of assets and investments so that they don’t have “all their eggs in one basket.”

If you have extra money and you want to invest it, you might want to make sure that you have a variety of investments including savings, stocks and bonds, rather than just investment in your home.

Liquid Assets

Another thing to consider is that having your money invested in your home means that it will not be a very liquid asset. If you needed the cash right away, you could have to sell your home or take out a home equity loan, which is a complex and time consuming process.

Before investing all of your money in your mortgage, consider creating an emergency fund as well so that you have some easily accessible money when you need it.

Earning More With Better Investments

Before investing all of your money in your mortgage, find out whether you would be able to earn more by investing it into other opportunities such as interest-bearing bonds. Sometimes stocks, bonds and mutual funds have better returns over time than the typical mortgage interest rates.

Perhaps paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible is the best option for you. However, make sure that you consider all of the factors before committing to this decision.

To find out more about mortgages and your home, contact trusted mortgage professional today.

7 Tips On Getting A Mortgage After BankruptcyYou have found your dream home and you are eager to get a mortgage, move into the property and start enjoying life there. However, there is only one problem standing in your way – the fact that you have been through some hard financial times in the past.

If you (or your partner) have been bankrupt previously, will this affect your chances of being able to buy the home you want?

The good news is that it is still possible to obtain a mortgage even if you have been bankrupt before.

Here are some tips that will help you to increase your chances of mortgage success:

  • Choose the right lender. Some lenders may not approve your new mortgage if a bankruptcy shows up on your credit history. However, there are some that do as long as you are able to prove that you have the income to make your payments.
  • If your bankruptcy was caused by factors that are beyond your control, it may be easier to get a new mortgage as opposed to a bankruptcy that was caused by poor money management. Explain the circumstances of your credit history to your mortgage loan officer.
  • When you are buying a home after bankruptcy, try to save up as much of a down payment as possible. Your lender may want to see a minimum of 10% as a down payment, but more is better.
  • Build up your credit again by always paying your credit card bills each month along with any other debt. The higher your credit score, the better chance you will have of being able to obtain a mortgage.
  • Avoid writing checks that you think might bounce, as this shows up poorly on your credit report as well. Any retirement plans or 401 K assets will make your credit look good, so if you can set these up it may help you to obtain a mortgage.
  • Don’t switch jobs right before applying for the mortgage, the lender wants to be able to see that you have a reliable source of income and that you have been at the same line of work for a good amount of time.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you to obtain a mortgage even if you have been bankrupt before.

For more information about buying a home and securing your next mortgage please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

It's Important To Follow These Specific Steps When Using Gift Funds For Your Down PaymentAs lenders tighten mortgage guidelines for San Jose home buyers, minimum downpayment requirements are increasing.

Several years ago, you could finance a home with nothing down. Today, most conventional mortgages require at least 5 – 10 percent.

Incidentally, these guideline changes have led to an increase in the number of home buyers accepting cash gifts from family.

Gifts are allowed in most cases but the problem is, if you don’t accept the gift in a “lender-friendly” way, the mortgage underwriter could reject it, and negate it.

Three Steps To Success With Your Down Payment Gift Funds

You can’t just deposit a cash gift into your bank account. You have to follow a series of steps and keep records.

  1. Provide an acceptable gift letter signed by all parties
  2. Provide documentation of the gifter’s withdrawal of funds via teller receipts
  3. Provide documentation of the giftee’s deposit of funds via teller receipts

Lenders require these 3 steps for two basic reasons.  First, they want to make sure that the cash gift is “clean” (i.e. not laundered).  Second, they want to make sure the gift is really a gift and not a loan-in-disguise. It’s why lenders typically require that the loan application be accompanied by a signed, dated letter.

For example:

I am the [relationship to recipient] of [name of recipient] and this letter serves as evidence that I am gifting [name of recipient] [amount of gift] to be used for the purchase of the home at [complete address of property]. This is a gift — not a loan — and there is no expectation of repayment. Signed, [Signature of gifter]

Keep The Cash Gift Funds Separate From Your Other Money

As an additional step, home buyers receiving cash gifts should make sure that gifted funds are not commingled at the time of deposit.

If the cash gift is for $10,000, therefore, the bank’s deposit slip should indicate that a $10,000 deposit was made — nothing more, nothing less. Don’t add a random $100 deposit to the transaction, in other words. The $100 deposit should be a separate transaction.

It’s also worth noting that gifting funds between family members can create both legal and tax liabilities.

If you’re unsure about how donating or receiving a gift may impact you, call or email me directly. If I can’t help you with your questions, I can refer you to somebody that can.