Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage Ready

Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage ReadyYou probably already know that qualifying for a mortgage can be the biggest hurdle — aside from actually finding that dream property — along the path to home ownership.

Rather than agonizing about it, however, there are some positive actions you can take in advance to help you realize your dream.

Take A Close Look At Your Budget

If you don’t currently operate with a comprehensive household budget, get started now to analyze your income and monitor your spending habits. There’s no better way to prepare for home ownership than by being realistic about how you spend your money. If you don’t have a regular savings program, or if you’re constantly short on cash prior to the next payday, take steps to remedy the problem. Plan for the future by getting the present in check.

Gather Employment And Earnings Records

Mortgage lenders want to see stability and commitment. Finding and organize your employment records to show a consistent earnings pattern and, hopefully, a record of growth, both in terms of income and responsibility. Simplify the task of gathering required documents by collecting all records in a binder or notebook that can easily be copies when it’s time to submit them to a lender. It’s a confidence-building step as well.

Organize Your Banking Records

Lenders will not only want to see employment records, but they will require copies of all bank and investment accounts as well. Again, by being organized and getting a handle on your dollar inflow and outflow, you’ll gain insights into your individual spending habits and make the job easier for a mortgage specialist.

Make Copies Of Your Tax Returns

Tax returns confirm and validate all the other financial information that you will be required to supply. Typically, returns for the past two or three years will be required. If you own a small business or have income in addition to that from paid employment, make copies of those records as well.

Put A Halt To Spending

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate your serious intent to purchase — and pay for — a new home is by curtailing your spending on impulse purchases and expensive entertainment. This is not the time to buy a new car, book an exotic vacation, purchase major electronics or even home furnishings, or commit to time payments of any sort. Frugality should become your mantra in the months leading up to loan qualification.

Monitor Your Credit Cards

If your credit rating is within acceptable limits, do what you can to make all payments on time, pay down balances, minimize new purchases and demonstrate your continuing ability to “live within your means.” Do not apply for new credit cards, no matter how tempting the offers, because increased account activity can adversely affect your FICO score. In addition, if you have a blip on your credit report, do what you can to repair it prior to making a mortgage loan application, or be prepared to explain the circumstances, in detail and in writing.

Applying for a loan need not be scary; understanding the financial reality, however, is a great benefit.

Contact your trusted home mortgage professional who will be able to assist you in organizing your documents and aligning you with your best financing options.

Is A Reverse Mortgage Right For You?

Is A Reverse Mortgage Right For YouImagine the bank depositing monthly premiums into your account instead of you writing a mortgage check. That’s basically how a reverse mortgage works.  

Traditional mortgages involve people paying down the interest and principal on a home loan. The goal is generally to pay off the property and cruise through retirement without that monthly installment eating at your budget. With your home paid off, those previously allotted finances can be used to relax and enjoy your retirement to the fullest. That’s the best-case scenario anyway.

But financial life has changed significantly over the past half-century. The formula for economic security has been chipped away by rising health care costs, tax increases, and other complications. Working hard and paying off your family home may no longer equal financial flexibility later in life. The valued elders in everyday American communities may require enhanced resources and the reverse mortgage has been a viable option for many.

How A Reverse Mortgage Works

The product was created to allow homeowners who are 62 and older to convert their home equity into cash payments. Rather than you paying the bank, the roles are reversed and the lender basically buys out your equity by paying you in monthly installments.  

Homeowners are required to stay up to date on things such as local property taxes, association fees and insurance. The lender receives reimbursement for the equity purchase when the home sells at the conclusion of the agreement. What was once money going out each much makes a full swing to cash coming into the home. That can be a remarkable financial boon.

Types Of Reverse Mortgages

The reverse mortgage products on the market can be broken down into three basic types. The overwhelming majority are federally-insured home equity conversion mortgages.

Industry insiders often refer to these products as HECMs and they are supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They reportedly comprise upwards of 90 percent of reverse mortgages. Other types include private loans and those with a single purpose. For example, a qualified homeowner may secure a reverse mortgage to make a necessary home improvement. State agencies and nonprofits often back these to help low-income families through adversity.

Benefits Of A Reverse Mortgage

When people discover that their pension, 401(k) and savings won’t necessarily carry them through a comfortable retirement, selling the family home and downsizing emerges as one of the solutions. But reverse mortgages can offer an alternative by providing the following benefits.

  • Steady Home Life: Reverse mortgages allow homeowners to stay in their home and receive payments on the equity rather than sell, move and squirrel away the profit. The key benefit is remaining in the family home that is rich with memories.
  • Relieve Burden: The increased costs of taxes, insurance, utilities and other living expenses may eat away at the financial relief gained by paying off a home. Reverse mortgages infuse elders’ budgets and help overcome financial shortfalls.
  • Eliminate Mortgage: For those who still have a monthly mortgage payment, a reverse mortgage can pay off the outstanding balance. The product allows homeowners to subtract money owed and still receive monthly installments. That can be a substantial financial swing.

Reverse mortgages can be an excellent tool to improve your quality of life during retirement. However, it’s important to have a realistic long-term financial plan in place.

If you are considering a reverse mortgage, speak with an experienced mortgage professional about options that best meet your needs.

What To Ask About How Loan Application Data Is Kept Private

What To Ask About How Loan Application Data Is Kept PrivateAfter hackers breached Equifax and stole vital financial records of 145 million Americans, people have a right to be afraid of disclosing personal information. That’s why it’s imperative that lending institutions to do everything in their power to protect your privacy.

When a prospective home buyer submits a loan application, defining information such as date of birth, home address, social security number, credit cards, bank accounts, and pay stubs are included. Basically, everything a hacker needs to penetrate an individual’s financial world is disclosed on a loan application.

If you are applying for a mortgage, get answers to these and other questions before handing over information. Hackers are too skilled at breaking into computer systems and the financial risk is too high to take any chances.

Does The Lender Take Submissions Via Email?

With the flurry of high profile email hacks making headlines, it may surprise borrowers that some lending institutions continue to take data via email.

Some estimates say that upwards of 70 percent of lending institutions routinely use email during the application process. When an applicant doesn’t have a bank account or credit card number handy, some lenders will take it electronically to complete the process. This is a major misstep.

Despite efforts to protect email, it continues to be a doormat for hackers to breach systems and steal data.

Does The Lender Use Encryption Software?

Although there is no perfect method to protect online data, many companies enlist the help of high-level IT personnel to maximize security. One of the better standards is the use of encryption.

When files are encrypted, the data enjoys two-tier protection. First, the hacker would need to breach the system to lift financial and personal information. Even if the internet criminal manages to steal data, they will be tasked with decoding it.

Breaking encryption software acts as a strong protection and future deterrent. Hackers tend to go after the low-hanging fruit. Ask about encryption protocols when applying for a loan.

Does The Lender Share Information?

The days of lenders sharing and selling personal information without consent are over. Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, banks must provide applicants with a disclosure form that states information sharing policies.

Don’t be startled that the form lists third parties who will review your information. Banks often reach out to businesses in their network when making a determination about loan approval or rejection. Nothing happens in a vacuum so to speak.

But take the time to review this form carefully. If you do not feel comfortable with some of the outfits on the list, trust your instincts and walk away.

Ask About The Lender’s Data Protection Policy

Data protection has emerged as a significant problem. For every new protection program a hacker will find away to breach it.

Cybersecurity has grown into a major business sector and borrowers would be wise to ask about a lending institution’s policies, protocols and investment into data protection. Compare how each company addresses threats and make an informed decision about who can be entrusted with critical personal and financial information.

Your trusted mortgage professional is an essential part of your home buying experience. Be sure to ask these questions to increase your confidence in this important partnership.

4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage Rates

4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage RatesSecuring the best conventional mortgage rate possible can pose a challenge for even veteran property buyers.

Your mortgage rate will be determined by a variety of factors that pertain to your unique financial portfolio as well as economic forces. While no one has full control over all of the things that influence the process, understanding the manageable aspects can improve your negotiation position when securing a conventional mortgage.

Consider these four things that impact how conventional mortgage rates are determined.

1: Credit Is King

A borrower’s credit score has a tremendous impact on the final mortgage rate. The general rule is that the higher the score, the lower the rate. The opposite generally holds true as well.

Lenders usually require a minimum credit score of at least 620. Some will dip as low as 580. If yours falls lower, qualifying for a conventional loan may not be an option. But the good news about credit scores is that this is an element you have control over.

A credit report details your repayment history, previous loans, credit card and financial bandwidth, so to speak. Before mortgage shopping, get a copy of your credit report, clean up any blemishes and amp it up as high as possible.

2: Economic Growth Matters

The average home buyer has zero control over the economic forces that impact mortgage rates. But you do have choice about when to buy.

It’s no secret that the country is in the midst of tremendous GDP growth, historically low unemployment, improved consumer confidence and rising wages. This may seem like a good time to buy. Not necessarily when it comes to conventional mortgage rates.

Prosperity tends to create an uptick in consumers vying for home loans. That demand seems like a good thing. But the Fed often responds to high levels of consumer confidence by raising rates across the board. The theory behind this unfortunate environment stems from the idea lenders have limited resources.

It may seem counterintuitive, but weak economies often enjoy lower rates. For practical buying purposes, the U.S. economy looks like a juggernaut right now. You may want to buy sooner rather than later. Rates could go up again.

3: Price And Down Payment

Another set of facts that you have control over are the down payment amount and price of the home.

Conventional mortgages require a minimum down payment of 20 percent or higher. Like credit scores, the higher the down payment to better positioned you will be to secure the lowest possible rate. The basic concept trails back to the level of risk the lender takes by writing the loan.

For example, borrower defaults often force banks to take losses upwards of 30-60 percent of the loan. That 20 percent shows that you have real skin in the game and are less likely to stop paying the monthly premiums. Big down payments often correlate to lower mortgage rates.

Although 20 percent remains the industry standard, borrowers can secure a loan with less down. If you qualify for a conventional loan with less than 20 percent down, expect a less than desirable rate and the additional cost of private mortgage insurance. It’s kind of a double whammy.

4: Loan Types Differ

There are several variables in the loan-writing process that directly impact rates.

Most loans have terms of 15-30 years and lenders are more apt to offer lower rates on shorter term mortgages. Fixed- or adjustable-rate types are also profoundly different. Adjustable mortgages tend to enjoy lower rates in weak economies. But when the country ramps up, so does your interest rate and monthly premium.

Fixed-rate conventional mortgages are static throughout the life of the loan. The rate may be slightly higher at the closing. However, you won’t be betting against the economy.

Lastly, borrowers have the ability to buy points. This practice allows borrowers to pay more upfront costs and enjoy lower mortgage rates for the life of the loan. It’s one method some people use to overcome less-than-perfect credit scores.

As always, contact your trusted mortgage finance professional to discuss the best plan for your individual circumstances.

Does Private Mortgage Insurance Make Sense For You?

Does Private Mortgage Insurance Make Sense For YouIf you are reading this article, it’s entirely possible that you are considering buying a home. It’s also likely that you are weighing certain financial options between a sizable down payment or taking on the expense of mortgage insurance.

It’s important to understand that private mortgage insurance (PMI) helps mitigate the lender’s risk. It has little benefit to the homeowner, other than help facilitate the mortgage approval process. Home buyers would be well advised to understand the complexities of PMI because not everyone needs or can afford the additional cost.

Do You Need PMI?

PMI reduces the lending institution’s loss in the event a borrower cannot make payments. Homes that fall into foreclosure reportedly cost lenders upward of 60 percent of the remaining loan’s balance. That’s a significant amount of red ink in any ledger.

This reality prompts lenders to require buyers to purchase PMI when they cannot offset any potential loss with a 20 percent down payment or more. But keep in mind, the “20-percent” standard can be a bit misleading.

When a mortgage company considers your application, there are several factors at work beyond the size of your down payment. Banks scrutinize credit scores, repayment and bankruptcy history, as well as the types of mortgage programs that may be suitable. 

Those who are required to purchase PMI should also keep a close watch on the repayment process. Once the mortgage balance dips below 80 percent of the home value, you may be able to end the PMI requirement.

Consider someone buying a home below market value. If you purchase the property at 90-percent of its value and put 10 percent down, the 80-20 threshold may be met in the lender’s eyes more quickly. In some cases the PMI can be eliminated after meeting the 80% loan to value, usually after a period of time in the loan.

The flipside is that a lender can require PMI even after the 80-20 measure if the borrower is considered high risk or has poor credit history. Yes, it’s complicated and you would be wise to sit down with a home loan professional.

What Is PMI And What Does It Cost?

In many respects, PMI functions like many other types of insurance. The purchaser makes payments and the insurance company pays out in the event of a loss, meaning loan default.

Just like the factors that go into the PMI requirement, the method of arriving at a cost can also be complex. Down payment amount, home value, credit score and history will all be considered. Home buyers can often lower rates by increasing their initial down payment. In most cases, PMI premiums generally run between 0.3 and 1.5 percent.

There are two standard methods of paying the annual PMI. In most cases, it simply gets rolled into the monthly mortgage installments. In some instances, the sum can be paid upfront. This may open the door a crack to lower annual pricing.

The true value of PMI to a borrower remains its ability to help gain loan approval when you might otherwise be rejected. If you are considering purchasing a home, it’s important to speak with a mortgage professional about your options.

Top Uses Of A HELOC

Top Uses Of A HELOCHomeowners who have equity built up in their homes can tap into that equity using a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. This financial tool can be a great way to accomplish a number of financial goals.

Here are four excellent uses of a HELOC for homeowners to consider.

Consolidating Costly Debts

Credit card debt and other types of consumer loans are costly, unless a debtor is lucky enough to have a no-interest card. Borrowers can consolidate that debt into a HELOC, which is much more affordable because it is a secured debt.

This advantage only works if the borrower stops adding to the debt problem. A HELOC becomes a valuable tool to get rid of debt quickly when used properly.

Create An Emergency Fund

Most people do not intend to end up in credit trouble, but emergencies happen. Emergency home repairs, job loss, or car repairs can quickly add up to unwanted debt.

A HELOC provides homeowners the option to have an emergency fund. Should one of these emergencies pop up, the homeowner can use the HELOC for an affordable source of funds.

Home Repairs That Add Value

Some home repairs add value to the property, but are also expensive. A HELOC can provide a source to fund these repairs. Because they put value back into the property, homeowners may be making wise use of their equity when using the HELOC in this way.

To make this work well, homeowners should choose repairs that do add to the home’s value. Since the cost of the repairs comes from the equity, the home’s owner should recoup the costs later when selling the home.

Funds For Investing

Finally, homeowners can use funds from a HELOC to get started in investment. This is risky, because the loan is paid regardless of how successful the investment is, but it can give a homeowner the chance to start investing for the first time.

Similarly, retirees can sometimes use HELOC funds to supplement retirement income if investments are struggling. This is a temporary solution to give investments a chance to recover, but for those living on a fixed income it is very helpful to have this option.

The HELOC is a valuable tool for homeowners that allows them to tap equity when it is needed. Since they have spent years building up this equity, homeowners should not fear using it when it can help with their financial goals.

Contact your trusted loan professional to find out if a HELOC may be right for you. 

Seller-Paid Closing Costs In A Seller’s Market? Yes, It’s Still Possible

Seller-Paid Closing Costs In A Seller's Market Yes, It's Still PossibleFor first-time home buyers, closing costs are a major hurdle for home ownership. Coming up with a down payment and several thousand dollars for closing costs can be hard without home equity to tap.

To help, buyers often ask sellers to cover all or some of these costs. In markets favoring buyers, this is a common habit, but when the market switches to favoring sellers it becomes harder. Sellers who know they may get multiple offers are less likely to say “yes” to this request.

Yet even when the market favors sellers, buyers can still ask for this help. It all depends on how the offer is presented. Here’s how to potentially make it look appealing, even with other offers on the table.

Buyers Need To Consider The Total Amount

Many sellers build negotiation room into their asking prices. This means they anticipate some offers coming in that are lower than their asking price.

Buyers asking for closing costs can offer the full asking price or more than the asking price to make the offer more appealing.

For example, if the buyer needs $2,000 in closing costs, and offers $2,000 more than the asking price, the seller won’t stand to lose money and will find the offer more appealing. This, in effect, rolls the closing costs into the loan.

On the flip side, if a buyer makes an offer well below the asking price, then also asks for closing costs, the seller is likely to say no.

Buyers Should Consider Other Components Of Their Offer

Sometimes the problem the buyer faces is a lack of cash to cover the closing costs, particularly when using a no- or low-down payment loan option. To make the offer more appealing, buyers should look at the rest of the offer’s terms.

For example, a buyer may ask for closing costs but overlook other contingencies, such as non-urgent repairs. This makes the offer appealing, because the seller’s costs even out.

Buyers Can Offer To Close Quickly

Another way to make seller-paid closing costs something a seller will accept is moving the closing date up. Most sellers want to sell quickly, so the faster the buyer can close, the better the offer may look.

For buyers in a seller’s market who need closing cost help, the key is to make all other aspects of the offer appealing. By doing so, these buyers may just get the closing cost help they need to move forward with their home purchase.

One of the best things to do before entering into negotiation is to have your mortgage funding pre-approved. Contact your trusted home loan professional to get started today.