Feb 21

What You Need to Know About Mortgage Insurance

House-White-Sky2Homeowners insurance and title insurance may not be the only kinds of insurance you need when you buy a home. Many buyers also have to purchase mortgage insurance, which lenders require for mortgages with a down payment of less than 20 percent. Take the time to understand what you’re buying and how long it will affect you.

Mortgage Insurance Protects the Lender

Most types of insurance will pay you if you make a claim. Mortgage insurance, though, is solely for the lender. If you were to stop making payments and the lender foreclosed on your home, the mortgage insurance would pay the lender the difference between the profit from selling your home and the amount you still owed on your mortgage.

Types of Mortgage Insurance

When you have a mortgage with a traditional lender, you get private mortgage insurance, often abbreviated PMI. This insurance is provided by a third party, although your lender will typically dictate who provides the insurance. When you get an FHA mortgage, the federal government provides the mortgage insurance and you pay mortgage insurance premiums, often abbreviated MIP.

Mortgage Insurance Amount

You can generally expect to pay 0.5 percent to 1 percent of your loan balance each year for private mortgage insurance. FHA mortgage insurance premiums are set by the federal government, and as of 2017, are 1.75 percent of the loan balance up front, plus 0.45 percent to 1.05 percent of the loan balance each year, depending on the type of loan.

How to Stop Paying Mortgage Insurance

FHA loans have mortgage insurance until the loan is paid off, either through regular payments or by refinancing. Traditional loans automatically cancel mortgage insurance when you have reached the point on your amortization schedule where the loan balance drops below 78 percent of the purchase price. You also may be able to apply to cancel mortgage insurance as soon as your loan balance is less than 80 percent of your home’s current appraised value.

How Can You Get Around Paying Mortgage Insurance?

When purchasing a home, the only way to avoid having to buy mortgage insurance is to get a mortgage for less than 80 percent of the home’s purchase price. However, the cost of mortgage insurance may be something you’re willing to pay for the opportunity to buy now without a down payment of 20 percent.

Feb 20

When Is the Right Time to Buy Your First Home? Use This Easy 4 Point Checklist

buying a brand new homeAre you growing tired of renting? Or perhaps you’ve recently graduated from college and are looking to set down some roots? Whatever the case, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. Let’s take a look at a quick and easy four-point checklist that you can use to determine if you are ready to buy your first home.

#1: Is Your Credit In Good Shape?

How is your overall financial health? Once you have your down payment saved up, you should turn your attention to your credit rating. If you are going to borrow a mortgage to help cover the cost of your home, your lender will be doing some digging into your credit history. It is best to ensure that you aren’t late with any payments and have cleared off any black marks from past credit problems.

#2: Can You See Yourself Living In This Community?

Do you love the area you live in? Or are you thinking about moving to a community that you like a bit more than your current one? Perhaps it’s the local shops, the amenities, the walking trails or just being closer to work. It is always best to ‘love where you live,’ so ensure that you are buying your first home in a community that you can call home.

#3: Is Your Job Situation Stable?

Another factor to consider is your job or career situation. Are you likely to switch companies or be transferred to another division within the next few years? Be sure to give some thought to this as it will be inconvenient to have to move shortly after buying and furnishing a home.

#4: Are You Planning To Have Children?

Finally, have you considered what your family might look like in the future? Are you planning to get married, or if you are already married are you planning to have a family? If you have children now, do you expect to have any more of them? Keep in mind that as your children grow older, they will need a bit more space. If you have a couple of young kids sharing bunk beds, each will need their own bedroom soon enough.

When you’re ready to buy your first home, our friendly mortgage team is here to help you find the perfect financing. Give our offices a call and we will be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs.

Feb 16

Down Payments 101: Is It Worth It to Put More Than 20 Percent Down?

calculatorAre you thinking of buying a new home this spring or summer? If so, you’re not alone. Many thousands of individuals and families alike will become homeowners this year. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned veteran of the housing market, you probably know there are significant choices to make. One of the big decisions you will have to ponder is how much you want to invest in your down payment.

With that in mind, let’s try to answer the question of whether or not it is worth it to put more than 20 percent of the home’s price in your down payment.

Ask Yourself: How Liquid Are You?

Before you can decide how much to put down, you first need to determine how liquid your finances are. That is, how much cash do you have access to? For example, if you are considering a $300,000 home, a 20 percent down payment is $60,000. If you have more than $60,000, fantastic. However, if you have less than that, you might have to do a bit of work to save up the remainder.

Even if you do have enough available cash now, you won’t have access to it once you take possession of the home. It is important to leave yourself with some cash in case of emergencies or for other uses.

Higher Down Payment, Lower Interest Rate

If you do choose to invest more than 20 percent in your down payment, it’s possible that you will gain access to a lower interest rate for your mortgage. Many lenders look favorably on homebuyers that are investing more of their own money and borrowing less. Be sure to check with your mortgage advisor to find out if you qualify for lower rates.

Lower Monthly Payments Await

Finally, choosing a down payment higher than 20 percent means that you will have lower monthly mortgage payments in the future. You are borrowing less so you will owe less. This can provide a nice boost to your monthly budget moving forward as you will have more free cash flow each month.

Try to keep in mind that there is no perfect answer to the question of how big your down payment should be. Choosing the best course of action means taking a good, long look at your current financial situation and deciding what your goals are. When you’re ready to discuss buying a new home contact us. Our professional mortgage team is happy to share our experience!

Feb 15

3 Reasons Why Buying an Investment Property May Help Build Your Net Worth

housing prices increaseWhether you have recently graduated from college or are getting close to retirement, it’s likely that you have given some thought as to how you can grow your net worth. You might have invested in stocks, picked up a few bonds or have a 401(k) plan set up to help fund your retirement. But have you considered buying real estate as part of your portfolio?

In today’s blog post we’ll have a look at three reasons why real estate investing is one of the most effective ways to grow your overall net worth.

Reason #1: It Generates Passive Income

One of the best reasons to hold real estate as part of your investment portfolio is that it can generate passive income in the form of rent. Whether you buy a single-family home or an apartment block, you can almost certainly find interested tenants who will live there. Part of the rent you receive each month will cover the costs of owning and operating the property. The rest of it is income which will continue to build over time.

Reason #2: It Increases In Value Over Time

Another great reason to invest in real estate is that in most cases, it increases in value over time. As long as you are maintaining the property and investing in its upkeep you have a decent shot at it being worth more in the coming years, should you decide to sell. Keep in mind that real estate is cyclical and that it’s not always going to be the right time to sell and realize your gains.

Reason #3: You Can Leverage Equity To Buy More Properties

Finally, our third reason that real estate is the best way to build your worth is your ability to use it as leverage to buy more real estate. For example, say you decide to purchase a house valued at $100,000 as an investment property. Once the mortgage on that home is paid off, you have an asset valued at $100,000 that you can then borrow against. So you can go out and acquire another $100,000 home without having to sell the first. As you can see, this can scale quite nicely over time.

If you are interested in learning more about real estate investing and how you can make use of mortgage financing to purchase properties, give our offices a call. We are happy to share our insight and expertise as well as advise you on the best mortgage products to help reach your financial goals.

Feb 14

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Ticks Upward in November Reading

rise in home equityHome prices increased in November, with national home prices up 0.70 percent month-to-month and 6.20 percent higher year-over year. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index rose by 0.70 percent in the three-month period ending in November; nationally, home prices grew 6.20 percent year-over-year.

Seattle, Washington held first place in home price growth with a year-over-year increase of 12.70 percent. Las Vegas, Nevada home prices followed with year-over-year home price growth of 10.60 percent. San Francisco, California home prices grew by 9.10 percent year-over-year. Slim supplies of homes for sale drove rising home prices and sidelined would-be borrowers as affordability remained out of reach.

Home Prices Get a Pre-Recession Do-Over in Some Cities

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that Los Angeles and San Diego, California along with Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami, Florida are repeating fast-paced price gains that they had prior to the recession.

Mortgage Rates, Building Costs Impact Supply of Homes and Affordability

Combined effects of high mortgage rates and rapidly rising home prices could dampen buyer enthusiasm over time, but the time-worn proclamation that what goes up must come down has not applied to home prices in high demand metro areas. Home buyers may rush to close their home loans before rates rise, but more buyers may delay buying a home due to few options, higher home prices and rising rates.

Lower taxes and rising wages may encourage renters to buy homes, but home prices continued to outstrip income for many potential buyers.

Building more homes is the only relief in sight for low inventories of homes for sale, but builders face rising materials costs, shortages of lots suitable for building and insufficient workers. Other factors impacting home building and buying homes include poor weather in some areas during December, and further shortages of homes caused by natural disasters in 2017.

2018 may see high-priced local areas develop affordable homeownership programs as current prices continue to rise above interested buyers’ financial resources.

Feb 13

The 4-Step Financial Checkup to Get Ready for a Mortgage in 2018

buying a brand new homeAre you ready to join the ranks of homeowners in our local community? Congratulations – homeownership is a big step towards building your net worth and financial freedom. However, it is also a significant transaction that will affect your finances for the foreseeable future. Let’s take a look at a quick four-step checklist that will help you to get ready to buy a home with a mortgage in 2018.

Step 1: Set Up A Monthly Budget

It might sound a little basic, but the best first step is to commit to a monthly budget. After you buy a home using a mortgage, you will be responsible for making monthly payments for a period of time. The faster you get used to working inside of a budget, the better.

Your budget doesn’t have to be extravagant. Simply list your sources of income and your expenses. If you are spending more than you are making, you are going to need to cut back a bit.

Step 2: Start Setting Aside Your Down Payment

If you haven’t already, it is an excellent time to start gathering the funds necessary to make your down payment. This is the amount of cash that you put forward against the price of the home. The remainder of the purchase cost is covered by your mortgage, which you will pay off monthly in the future.

Note that the standard down payment amount is 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. If you have less than this available, you may be required to purchase mortgage insurance. But don’t let this deter you from starting the process now, especially if you have found the house that you want to buy.

Step 3: Check Your Credit Rating

Next, you will want to check your credit rating and FICO score to find out if you have any outstanding issues. You can access a free credit report from any of the major reporting agencies up to once per year, so be sure to take advantage.

Step 4: Meet With Your Mortgage Advisor

Last, but not least, you will want to schedule a meeting with your mortgage advisor. This is your opportunity to have all your mortgage-related questions answered by a professional who has your best interests in mind. If you decide that you are ready to move forward with buying a home, you can begin the pre-approval process at your convenience. We look forward to helping guide you down the path to buying your dream home!

Feb 12

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 12th, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserveJerome “Jay” Powell was sworn in as Chair of the Federal Reserve amidst wild fluctuations in U.S. stock markets. Analysts attributed sliding stock prices to fears over inflation.

Mr. Powell, who follows former Fed Chair Janet Yellen, introduced himself via a video clip on the Fed’s website. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

New Fed Chair Promises “Transparency“ in Video Introduction

In a video introduction posted on the Fed’s website, new Fed Chair Jay Powell promised that the Fed would explain “what we are doing and why we are doing it.” Mr. Powell did not address stock market volatility but said that monetary policy decisions would be made based on the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and price stability along with economic growth.

Mr. Powell took leadership of the Fed as the national unemployment rate dipped to 4.10 percent.

Mr. Powell is an attorney by profession and is the first Fed Chair not to hold a PhD in economics in more than 30 years.

Former Treasury Secretary Advises Against Raising Rates Too Fast

Former Obama administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers cautioned against raising rates too fast: “If the Fed raises rates sufficiently to assure financial stability, there is a risk that the economy will slow too much.

When the Federal Reserve raises its target federal funds rate financial institutions, mortgage lenders and retail lenders usually follow suit.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 10 basis points higher at 4.32 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 3.77 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage gained four basis points to 3.57 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent, 0.50 percent and 0.40 percent respectively.

New jobless claims fell to their lowest level since the 1970s. 221,000 first-time claims were filed as compared to 232.000 new claims expected and the prior week’s reading of 230,000 new claims filed.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s economic news releases include readings on inflation, retail sales and the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Indices. Readings on housing starts and building permits issued will also be released, along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Feb 09

What Is Mortgage Insurance and How Does It Benefit Me? Let’s Take a Look

rates-this-weekAre you in the market for a new home? If you are considering a mortgage, you may be curious about mortgage insurance, commonly referred to as PMI or MI. Let’s explore the topic of mortgage insurance, including how it works to reduce risk and how it benefits you as the mortgage borrower.

Mortgage Insurance = Risk Reduction

You might not know this, but the toughest part of the home buying process for many individuals and families is coming up with the required down payment. For example, if you were to buy a $200,000 home, you may want to invest $40,000 or $60,000 or more in the down payment. The remainder would be borrowed in your mortgage, which you would then pay off each month.

Most mortgage lenders require a minimum of 20 percent as a down payment. In the example above, this means having $40,000 cash on hand before you buy the home. If you can’t come up with this much, your lender may require mortgage insurance be purchased to protect them in case you default on the loan.

Mortgage Insurance Can Help You Qualify

Since mortgage insurance reduces the lender’s exposure to risk, it can help you in a number of ways during the qualification process. First, you can put less in your down payment than you had initially intended, which can increase your buying power and the size of home you can afford. Mortgages backed with a private insurance policy tend to be approved a bit faster than those that aren’t. Also, if you decide that you don’t need it later, many mortgage insurance policies can be canceled, which saves you a bit of money.

Look For Supplemental Benefits

Finally, don’t forget to ask your mortgage lender about any supplemental benefits offered with your mortgage insurance policy. Some policies protect you in the event that you lose your job or provide a partial claim advance if you can’t pay your mortgage. Note that not all policies have these benefits, so be sure to ask.

While it is true that mortgage insurance provides benefits to lenders, it also offers significant benefits to you as the borrower. To learn more about mortgage insurance or to get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can buy a home, give us a call today. Our friendly team of mortgage professionals is happy to help.

Feb 08

The Mortgage Helper: How to Find the Perfect Tenant for Your Basement Suite

making a down paymentDo you have an empty basement or separated suite in your home? If you have a suite sitting empty, you are missing out on collecting some extra monthly income in the form of rent. Let’s take a look at a quick four-step process that will help you find the perfect tenant to rent out your basement suite.

Step 1: Play By The Rules

Is this your first time renting out a home or suite to a tenant? If so, you will want to do a bit of research first. Read up on Fair Housing Rules and other regulations as these will inform you of your responsibilities as a landlord. Keep in mind that you cannot discriminate in any way when it comes to race, religion, gender, family status or disability. Anyone who applies must be given a fair chance.

Step 2: Be Specific In Your Advertising

When you place a rental listing, be as specific as possible in what you are looking for in a tenant. If you are a single, quiet person, you may want someone similar as you will be compatible. Conversely, if you are a young couple, you may clash with a retired senior or someone older. Be as specific as possible but remember that you cannot be discriminatory.

Step 3: Meet Potential Tenants In Person

Be sure to take the time to meet with every short-listed applicant in person. If you are not comfortable with having so many strangers over to your home, consider meeting at a local coffee shop. An in-person meeting will allow you to visually assess the person and determine if your personalities are a fit for living in the same home.

Step 4: Don’t Skip The Checks

Finally, don’t take any shortcuts when performing background, credit and other checks. Ask your tenant for at least one or two references that you can call to verify their rental history. Investing in a credit check will help to assess their risk of missing monthly rent payments. And if necessary, a criminal records check can let you know if they have been in trouble with the law.

As long as you are well-prepared and diligent, finding a suitable tenant for your basement suite can be a painless process. To learn more about mortgage products are perfect for rentals, contact us today. Our mortgage team will be happy to help you!

Feb 07

Spring Is Coming: Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning and Breathe New Life into Your Tired Spaces

detached garage improves valueSpring is almost here – and with it, the need to clean out the clutter and freshen up your home. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you to get a jump on your spring cleaning so that you can get outside and enjoy the nice weather later.

Need It? No? It’s Got To Go!

Do you consider yourself a bit of a ‘hoarder’? Is there furniture, appliances and other items in your home that have been collecting dust since the ’90s? If so, it is time to minimalize your lifestyle. A great rule of thumb is the one in bold above – if you don’t need it, it’s time to get rid of it. Consider listing anything you don’t need up for sale on a local resale marketplace as you may find an interested buyer willing to give your old stuff a new home. Once you have the clutter kicked out, the actual cleaning can begin.

Your Garage Is Not A Storage Locker

If your garage is so full of miscellaneous junk that you can barely get your car door open, it’s time for a thorough cleaning. Again, the first mission is to get all of the stuff you don’t need either thrown out or otherwise disposed of.

Letting go of your old possessions can be tough, but you will be amazed at how much space you have once it’s all gone. And that space can be put to better use – once it’s cleaned.

Consider Hiring Help For The Deep Clean

Finally, don’t be afraid to enlist professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Having a couple of cleaners come into your home for a few hours is a cost-effective way to speed up the spring cleaning process. Note that it’s best to have cleaners join you after the clutter has been removed, so they aren’t wasting their time trying to move old furniture and other items you are going to dispose of anyway.

Unless you absolutely love washing walls and cleaning out closets, spring cleaning is rarely fun. However, it is necessary to ensure that your home stays in tip-top condition. If you have decided that you are in need of more space, or are looking to downsize your home, contact us today. Our friendly team of mortgage professionals are happy to show you some financing options that will perfectly suit your needs.

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