Real Estate FAQs: Should I Avoid an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?

Financing Your Home Purchase

 

Mortgage Info

Q:  Should I Avoid an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?

A:  Because adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs, fluctuate with the market, they offer less stability than fixed-rate loans.  If an ARM is adjusted upward, monthly payments will increase, and for a lot of people that can be too big a risk to take.  On the other hand, should rates drop dramatically, homeowners can reap the benefits of lower rates without refinancing, thereby saving thousands of dollars.

Lenders first introduced ARMs in the 1980s when interest rates soared into the double digits, forcing many people out of the home buying market.  They tied the rate to a variable national index, such as U.S. Treasury bills.

Today, many first-time buyers who have difficulty qualifying for a home loan, still settle for adjustable rate loans because the initial, “teaser” interest rate of the mortgage is normally two or three points lower than a fixed rate loan.  ARMs are particularly attractive if you plan to be in your home a short time.  They tend to adjust yearly or every three years, usually within certain limits, or caps, that prohibit the interest rate from shooting up too high.  Make sure terms such as these are spelled out in any ARM agreement you choose.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

The Mortgage Professor: Can you Afford that House?

By Jack Guttentag

(MCT)–The house purchase season is now in full swing, and many would-be purchasers are wondering whether or not they can afford the price quoted on the house they would like to buy. Alternatively, they may not have started their house shopping and may be wondering what price range they should be exploring.

The availability of mortgage financing is obviously a critical feature of the affordability equation, and it is quite different today than when I addressed the issue before the financial crisis. Interest rates are lower for borrowers with good credentials, which may increase the amounts they can afford to pay. But rates are not necessarily lower for borrowers with less-than-stellar credentials, and more borrowers today are unable to qualify at all. In particular, the income used to qualify would-be purchasers today is not the income they believe they have but the income that they can document, which can be much lower.

Mortgage affordability must be calculated three times using three different rules. I call these the income rule, the debt rule and the cash rule. The final affordability figure is the lowest of the three.

When affordability is measured on the back of an envelope, which real estate brokers often do, usually it is based on the income rule alone, ignoring the other two. This can result in error.

The income rule says that the borrower’s monthly housing expense, which is the sum of the mortgage payment, property taxes and homeowner insurance premium, cannot exceed a percentage of the borrower’s income specified by the lender. If this maximum is 28 percent, for example, and John Smith’s documentable income is $4,000, monthly housing expense cannot exceed $1,120. If taxes and insurance are $200, the maximum mortgage payment is $920. At 4.5 percent and 30 years, this payment will support a loan of $181,572. Assuming a 5 percent down payment, this implies a sale price of $191,128. This is the maximum sale price for Smith using the income rule.

The debt rule says that the borrower’s total housing expense, which is the sum of the monthly housing expense plus monthly payments on existing debt, cannot exceed a percentage of the borrower’s income specified by the lender. If this maximum is 36 percent, for example, the total housing expense for Smith cannot exceed $1,440. If taxes and insurance are $200 while existing debt service is $240, the maximum mortgage payment is $1,000. At 4.5 percent and 30 years, this payment will support a loan of $197,361. Assuming a 5 percent down payment, this implies a sale price of $207,749. This is the maximum sale price for Smith using the debt rule.

The required cash rule says that the borrower must have cash sufficient to meet the down payment requirement plus other settlement costs. If Smith has $15,000 and the sum of the down payment requirement and other settlement costs are 10 percent of sale price, then the maximum sale price using the cash rule is $150,000. Since this is the lowest of the three maximums, it is the affordability estimate for Smith.

When the income rule sets the limit on the maximum sale price, the borrower is said to be income-constrained. Affordability of an income-constrained borrower can be raised by an increase in the maximum monthly housing expense, or by access to additional income — by sending a spouse out to work, for example.

When the debt rule sets the limit on the maximum sale price, the borrower is said to be debt-constrained. The affordability of a debt-constrained borrower (but not that of a cash-constrained or income-constrained borrower) can be increased by repaying debt.

When the cash rule sets the limit on the maximum sale price, the borrower is said to be cash-constrained. Affordability of a cash-constrained borrower can be raised by a reduction in the down payment requirement, a reduction in settlement costs, or access to an additional source of cash — a parent, for example.

Jack Guttentag is professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

©2013 Jack Guttentag

Distributed by MCT Information Services.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval: What You Need to Know before the House Hunt Begins

By Keith Loria

Planning ahead and being prepared is the name of the game when it comes to finding real estate success. Therefore, before you begin seriously shopping for a home, it’s always a good idea to go over your finances and determine what you can truly afford. Having an exact figure in mind from the beginning will go a long way toward making it easier for you and your real estate agent to seek out the best house in your price range.

That’s why getting pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage is so valuable, especially in today’s competitive market. However, it’s important to understand the difference between these two terms, as they don’t mean the same thing.

When a homebuyer is pre-qualified, the lender determines how large a loan the buyer can afford by looking at basic information related to income, balances and payments on current debts, and how much money has been saved for a down payment.

From there, qualifying ratios are applied to the numbers and the lender offers an estimate of what percentage of your gross monthly income can be used to pay for the home loan and attached expenses.

The key thing to remember here is that the lender is offering an estimated amount it would approve, meaning there’s no guarantee. It’s merely an educated guess on the part of the lender based on a quick appraisal of the facts. And if you’re not honest when it comes to sharing your financial information, it could come back to hurt you in the end.

On the other hand, when a mortgage is pre-approved, it involves a much more stringent examination into your finances. During pre-approval, the lender examines and verifies your debt, income, savings, assets and credit report to ensure you can repay the loan amount. Taking the time to go through this process shows sellers that you have indeed been approved for a loan of a certain amount.

While pre-qualification is really just an educated guess of a homebuyer’s purchasing power, a pre-approval goes one step further, guaranteeing that the prospective borrower would be approved for the loan. That’s why sellers prefer to negotiate with pre-approved buyers because they already know the buyer is financially qualified to obtain the financing they need to close the transaction.

Going through the pre-approval process also lets your real estate agent know you’re serious about purchasing a home and won’t have any last-minute financial problems that could hold up a deal.

In the end, it’s important to remember that pre-qualifications simply provide a quick way to show a seller that you’re a viable candidate for buying a home. Additionally, a pre-qualification will get your mindset focused on gathering all the financials you’re going to eventually need. Once you’ve been pre-qualified for a mortgage, it shouldn’t stop you from taking the extra step and getting a pre-approval letter.

Contact our office today to learn more about pre-qualifications and pre-approvals.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Five Top Home Buyer Credit Score Facts


Home Buyer Credit Score Facts

With mortgage rates low and prices just about perfect for buying, Iʼve had a lot of  discussions lately with first-time home buyers about what it takes to get a loan these days at a good rate. Naturally, a good credit score is important. (Typically, weʼre seeing the best rates for buyers with scores above 740.) You may not be ready to buy soon, but if youʼre thinking about it in the next couple of years, now is a great time to work on your credit score. If youʼre not familiar with how credit scores work, hereʼs what typically goes into them:

• Your past payment history = 35%. The more paid on time, the better.

• Amount you owe = 30%. The less you owe relative to your total available

credit, the better.

• How long youʼve had credit = 15%. Longer is better.

• How much new credit = 10%. Lots of new credit lowers your score.

• Kind of credit = 10%. Itʼs better to have different sources of credit.

Of course, credit score is only one part of the picture. Having a down payment of

20% or more can also influence your shot at the best rate.

If you ever have any questions about the path to home ownership or the ins and

outs of financing, please feel free to get in touch.

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

New Opportunities Open Up for First-Time Homebuyers

In the coming year, more than 1.5 million consumers will purchase their first home. How do they do it — and how can you be one of them?

“First-timers now represent nearly 30 percent of all existing home purchasers,” said Ray Brousseau, executive vice president of a nationwide lender. “That’s a big percentage, but it could be a lot higher because there are many ways first-time purchasers can finance with little down and little hassle.”

Many of these buyers are able to afford a new home because they know that the mortgage marketplace has two separate ways to help them: First, there are traditional loan options. Second, there are more than 1,500 mortgage assistance plans for buyers purchasing a first home.

No Need For 20 Percent Down

The big barrier for many first-time buyers is cash. It takes cash for a down payment, and it takes cash to close. Lenders are generally looking for buyers with 20 percent down, but given that the typical home sells for more than $200,000, there are a lot of first-time homebuyers who have not accumulated the $40,000 or more that lenders prefer.

The good news: There are many ways around the 20 percent requirement with traditional loan options.

“It doesn’t take a lot of up-front cash to buy a home today,” said Brousseau. “FHA and conventional financing are all available with little down, while VA borrowers can qualify for mortgages that require no down payment.”

The way such programs work is that they substitute insurance for the 20 percent down that lenders would otherwise want:

• Conventional loans are available with as little as 3 percent down plus what is called “private mortgage insurance” or PMI.

• FHA mortgages require an up-front mortgage insurance premium (MIP), plus an annual MIP based on the outstanding loan balance. Mortgages backed by the FHA are available nationwide and typically require just 3.5 percent down.

• VA financing is available for those with qualifying service, such as military personnel, as well as officers in the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). VA loans are available with nothing down. There is an up-front “guarantee” fee, but no annual insurance cost.

“Instead of $40,000 for a down payment, many borrowers can get a $200,000 loan with $6,000 or $7,000 down, or even nothing down if VA-qualified,” Brousseau said. “That means qualified first-time homebuyers can buy a house today instead of waiting years to save 20 percent down.”

Mortgage Assistance Plans

According to DownPaymentResource.com, there are more than 1,500 assistance plans administered by more than 1,000 agencies nationwide for would-be buyers, many aimed specifically at first-time purchasers.

In looking at these programs it’s important to understand what the term “first-time buyer” means. It typically does not mean someone who has never owned a home; instead the usual definition for program qualification purposes is someone who has not had title to a home during the past three years.

This definition is important because it provides a way for people to re-enter the housing marketplace. For instance, suppose the Smiths owned a home and sold it to move to a job in a new community. Three years later they are “first-time” purchasers under the guidelines used by most assistance plans.

“Another important point about mortgage assistance programs is that many are specifically designed to encourage local home purchases by public-sector employees such as teachers, police, firefighters, nurses, and corrections workers,” said Brousseau. “There are millions of people who qualify for such assistance.”

The benefits available through mortgage assistance plans vary. For instance, borrowers may be able to get financing at below-market interest rates. Down payment grants may be available, essentially meaning that little or nothing down will be required. Another approach includes programs that offer tax credits.

Mortgage interest is generally deductible, but a “tax credit” is arguably more valuable. With what are called “mortgage credit certificates” or MCCs, borrowers can deduct directly from their actual tax bill. For instance, if you have $8,000 in mortgage interest you might be able to directly reduce your taxes by $1,600 while the remaining $6,400 can be treated as an itemized deduction.

“Given low interest rates and a firming housing sector, this is a terrific time to consider entering the real estate market,” said Brousseau. “With today’s financing choices, many buyers can own their own home a lot quicker than they might have thought.”

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Five Inside Credit Secrets for Getting a Great Mortgage

Five Inside Credit Secrets for Getting a Great Mortgage

With home prices rising and interest rates well below historic norms, many potential buyers would like to get into the marketplace but are stymied by one hurdle: credit.

“The credit process mystifies many borrowers,” said Ray Brousseau, executive vice president of a nationwide lender. “They worry that their credit may be imperfect or that a late payment from long ago will doom a loan application, when the reality is different.”

Brousseau explained that “lenders and borrowers have similar goals. They both want the mortgage application to go through. The lender will create a package to provide a full picture of the borrower’s financial status. In many cases, borrowers will be surprised that their credit standing is stronger than expected.”

So, how do you make sure you have tip-top credit when applying for a mortgage? Here are five strategies that can lead to a faster – and better – mortgage credit review.

First, prepare for your mortgage application.
Since 2010, most real estate financing has been in the form of “qualified mortgages,” loans that meet the standards outlined by Wall Street Reform. A qualified mortgage – or QM – must show that the borrower has the ability to repay the loan. To meet QM requirements, you can expect lenders to want signed tax returns or W2s for at least the past two years, year-to-date pay stubs from the past 30 days, plus complete copies of all financial statements, usually for at least the last two months. If self-employed, a lender might also want a balance sheet as well as a profit-and-loss statement. Having such information in hand can greatly speed the mortgage review process.

Second, check your credit report in advance.
The better your credit report, the better your credit score, thus the reason to check credit reports for errors and outdated items.
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), consumers can get one free copy of their credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies every 12 months. This can be done in a few minutes by going to the official website, AnnualCreditReport.com. Print out your report or save it as a PDF.

Third, know how credit scores work.
In basic terms, credit scores weigh the answers to five questions:

Have you paid bills on time?
How much of your credit is now in use?
How long have you had credit and when was the last time you used selected accounts?
What is your mix of credit card debt, auto loans, student debt, mortgages, etc?
Have you recently opened additional lines of credit?

“Once a loan application is made, most lenders will automatically provide borrowers with a free copy of their credit score,” said Brousseau. “A good credit score can greatly help in the application process, and a lower score can often be overcome by selecting a certain type of mortgage product.”

Fourth, a lower credit score does not always mean no credit.
Borrowers can readily finance and refinance with an 800 credit score, but it’s also true that mortgages are available with lower credit scores. For instance, more than 40 percent of recent FHA borrowers had credit scores between 620 and 680.

Fifth, beware of surprise credit snags.
It used to be that lenders checked credit reports when a loan application was first made and then again just before closing. Now lenders have the ability to even check for daily credit report changes. When new debt or credit lines show up, lenders re-calculate the ability of borrowers to qualify for financing.

Avoid opening new lines of credit, making big purchases or getting more credit in the middle of the application process. When your credit reports are re-checked, and new credit activity shows up, that activity can sometimes scuttle a once-solid mortgage application.

Source: Carrington
This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Using Your IRA to Buy Investment Properties | Zillow Blog

AUTHOR:PROFESSORBARON.COM

With taxes going up for most people, you might be paying more attention to your tax-deferred retirement investing options, such as your Individual Retirement Account (IRA). And with property prices going up, you might ponder whether you can invest those IRA funds in real estate to both defer (or eliminate) taxes and earn a fair rate of return.   Read more

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Mortgage Rates Continue Upward Trend

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey(R) (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates trending higher for the third consecutive week and putting pressure on refinance momentum. Regardless, mortgage rates remain low helping to keep home-buyer affordability high, which should further aid home sales and construction in coming weeks.

The survey showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.59 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending May 23, 2013, up from last week when it averaged 3.51 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.78 percent.

Additionally, the 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.77 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.69 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.04 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.63 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.62 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.83 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.55 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, the same as last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.75 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for the Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

“Fixed-rates moved up for the third consecutive week, with the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage about a quarter-percentage point higher than three weeks ago,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “While this may slow some of the refinance momentum, rates are nonetheless low and home-buyer affordability high, which should further aid home sales and construction in coming weeks. For instance, in April, single family housing permits rose to the strongest pace since May 2008 while existing home sales for the same month grew the most since November 2009. Moreover, the National Association of REALTORS® reported that the median number of days on the market for these sales fell from 62 to 46 days, the fewest since it began collecting the data in May 2011.”

For more information, visit www.FreddieMac.com.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Choosing Your Most Sustainable Mortgage Option

By John Voket

Your RIS Consumer Confidant recently ran across some good advice from Scott Sheldon (bayarearealestatetrends.com) who blogs about how the shrinking inventory of available housing is taking some home buyers’ focus off the bottom line.

Sheldon says pre-approved buyers typically focus on purchase price, when in most cases, it’s the monthly payment over time relative to the purchase price that dictates whether or not that particular property can be identified as an opportunity.

He says consumers are beginning to place more emphasis on sustainable payment over time considering they could be paying more for the property than anticipated. And today’s real estate market conditions are causing many buyers to switch mortgage loan programs during the pre-approval phase and well into after they’ve gotten they have gotten into contract.

While qualifying for the mortgage is the end result, to perform on a purchase contract, Sheldon says the appropriate loan program promoting long-term payments sustainability becomes next critically important piece of the puzzle.

In his blog, Sheldon details the following borrowing options:

  • Conventional loans represent the lowest cost combination of rate and payment over time. This type of financing represents the cream of the crop, available in the market today. 20 percent down to avoid monthly mortgage insurance, with the lowest possible payment being 3 percent is common.
  • FHA Loans/Including first-time home buyer options are typically geared towards consumers entering the real estate market for the first time. This type of financing however, is eligible for anyone and is not solely a first-time home buyer program.
  • Fannie Mae’s Homepath.com program offers two main advantages, those being no appraisal requirement and no monthly mortgage insurance requirement. The cost of these two advantages comes in the form of a higher risk based pricing, an inherently higher cost loan.
  • VA Loans for military families through the US Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees loans for veterans looking to purchase real estate. The program allows for 100 percent financing and no money down and does not contain any monthly mortgage insurance.

Source: www.bayarearealestatetrends.com

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Mortgage Rates Virtually Unchanged

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates virtually unchanged and remaining near their record lows amid growing concerns around the fiscal cliff. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged below 4.00 percent all but one week in 2012, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged below 3.00 percent since the last week in May.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.32 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending November 29, 2012, up from last week when it averaged 3.31 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.00 percent.

Additionally, the 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.64 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.63 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.30 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.72 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.74 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.90 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.56 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.78 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

“Mortgage rates were virtually unchanged this week amid growing concerns around the fiscal cliff. Although low mortgage rates failed to boost new home sales in October, year-to-date sales are up 20 percent compared with 2011 volumes, and there are growing signs of a turnaround in house prices,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “The S&P/Case-Shiller® national home price index (seasonally adjusted) rose 5.2 percent over the first three quarters of this year. In addition, all 20 of the city indices (seasonally adjusted) had positive growth over the first 9 months, led by a 17.9 percent increase in Phoenix. More recently, the Federal Reserve’s November 28th regional economic review, known as the Beige Book, noted that 10 of the 12 districts reported the market for single-family homes continued to improve leading into mid-November.”

For more information, visit www.FreddieMac.com.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.