The Daily Mortgage Advisor

Practical Mortgage Advice for Valued Clients

Browsing Posts tagged Mortgages

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You Ask, We Answer: 5 Ways That You Can Proactively Build and Improve Your Credit ScoreIf you’re planning to buy a house or take out a business loan in the near future, you’ll want to work hard to boost your credit score well ahead of time in order to improve your likelihood of getting the loan you need. A great credit score can also make you more desirable to employers and help you to negotiate lower car insurance rates.

But what can you do in order to build your credit score over time? What are the best strategies for boosting that score as high as possible? Here’s what you need to know.

Dispute Errors On Your Credit Report

According to the FTC, 25% of Americans have significant errors on their credit report. Whether it’s a fully paid debt erroneously reported as still owing or even another consumer’s debt listed on your credit report, these errors can be costly. That’s why you’ll want to regularly review your report for inaccuracies.

If you find any inaccuracies, you can dispute them and have them removed from your credit report – which will increase your score.

Negotiate Your Debts Owing With Creditors

If you owe money to creditors and are past due on the balance, chances are they’ve reported the debt to the credit reporting agencies – and it’s on your credit report. The fastest way to have the debt removed from your credit report is to negotiate with your creditors for its removal. Get your lender to agree in writing that they’ll report the account as “paid as agreed” if you pay the balance.

Keep Your Credit Utilization Ratio Low

Credit utilization refers to the percentage of available credit you use at any given time. So if you have $1,000 in credit available to you and you use $500, that’s a utilization ratio of 50%.

Generally speaking, it’s best to keep your utilization ratio below 30%. If you’re constantly using a high amount of credit, lenders will assume you’re not a responsible borrower.

Pay What You Owe On Time

Paying your bills on time is one of the best ways to build your credit score. Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, so if you pay your bills on time and in full every month, your credit score will increase.

Make More Than One Payment Every Month

Using a large amount of credit at any given time doesn’t look good on a credit report. By making multiple payments every month, you’ll lower the amount owing that gets reported to the credit bureau and increase your score.

Building a credit score is a lifelong skill, which is why you’ll want to learn it early. Contact your local trusted mortgage professional to learn more about credit scores and mortgage finances.

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Understanding the CFPB's New Mortgage Rules and How They Might Affect YouIf you’re getting a mortgage, you’ll want to ensure you’re well versed in all of the government regulations surrounding mortgages and how they affect you. One government agency that dictates a number of the rules surrounding mortgages is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB has several regulations that lenders need to follow, some of which have only recently come into effect.

So how do the CFPB’s new mortgage rules affect you? Here’s what you need to know.

Know Before You Owe: Mortgages Just Got Easier To Understand

The CFPB’s new Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule has rolled four previous forms into two. You’ll now receive your Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure documents when you are about to close on a mortgage, making it easier to understand what exactly is in your mortgage. The new law also requires lenders to give you three business days to review your Closing Disclosure and pose questions before you sign the closing paperwork.

These forms are also standardized across the country – they are now shorter and written in simpler language, and all lenders are required to use the same forms. The forms must clearly state what your closing costs will be and what your monthly payment will be throughout the term of the loan.

More Power For Borrowers Who Are Behind On Payments

For decades, the mortgage system worked like this: If you run into trouble with your mortgage and find yourself behind on payments, your lender can foreclose on your home. But now, new rules state that lenders must take certain steps before they start the foreclosure process. Lenders must reach out to borrowers who are struggling and provide them with the opportunity to make a payment or work out an alternative arrangement.

The lender doesn’t have to give the borrower options that aren’t available, but if there is a non-foreclosure option on the table, the lender is now legally obligated to pursue it.

Mortgage Providers Will Need To Be More Transparent

The new rules also make the mortgage system much more transparent.

Under the new law, your lender is legally obligated to give you a mortgage statement with all of the information about your monthly payment in one place. If you run into trouble with payments, your lender is obligated to assign an employee to track your documents, answer your questions, and guide you through your options. There will be no more surprise foreclosures, no more administrative red tape, and no more debt traps.

Getting a mortgage is a complicated endeavor, and the new rules that have come into effect are designed to simplify the process. Contact a mortgage professional near you today to learn more about how mortgages work.

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Three Tips to Ensure That a Reverse Mortgage Makes Sense for Your Financial SituationIf you’re having financial troubles, or if you need to free up a large sum in a short period of time, a reverse mortgage is a great way to get the money you need without having to take on new debt or make monthly payments. When you apply for a reverse mortgage – also known as a home equity conversion mortgage – you’re essentially borrowing money from the equity you’ve built up in your house. The great advantages of a reverse mortgage are that you don’t need to make any loan payments until you decide to move out of the house and that in spite of the interest rates attached, you’ll never owe more than the value of your home.

However, there are tight restrictions and requirements with respect to who can get a reverse mortgage and what needs to be done before you receive any money. In order to qualify, you must meet an age requrement and the property must be your primary residence. You also can’t owe more money on the property than it is worth.

So how can you tell if a reverse mortgage is a good solution for you? Here are three factors you’ll want to consider.

Will You Use The Money Responsibly?

In general, the high-cost, high-risk nature of a reverse mortgage makes it ideal for people who are having trouble meeting their everyday living expenses. That means you’ll need to ensure you use the money responsibly. Good uses of reverse mortgage funds include paying living expenses and medical costs when no other options are available, and paying for emergency care after a serious injury if you’re uninsured.

Have You Exhausted All Other Avenues?

A reverse mortgage can have significant upfront costs. The fees may be higher than other loans, which means even if you don’t actually use any of the credit you obtain through a reverse mortgage, you’ll still may be paying a large sum out of pocket. Furthermore, your lender has the authority to recall the loan if you let your home insurance expire, if you fall behind on your property taxes or home maintenance, or if you spend a full year in an assisted living facility.

These risk factors mean that a reverse mortgage is typically best used as a last resort. If you have other options – for instance, if you have stocks or investments you can cash out, or if you can sell your home to your children and then rent it back from them – you’re better off going down another route. But if you’ve already exhausted all other options, a reverse mortgage may make sense.

Are You Planning To Stay In Your Home For The Foreseeable Future?

A reverse mortgage generally works best for people who intend to stay in their homes for several years. When you get a reverse mortgage, you’ll need to take out insurance to protect against the possibility of your loan balance growing beyond your property value. That means you’ll need to pay monthly insurance premiums – and if you only plan to stay in your home for a short period of time before selling, it’s very unlikely that your loan balance will grow beyond the value of your home.

A reverse mortgage can be a convenient way to access emergency cash reserves – and when used responsibly, it’s a great tool that can help you to help you with otherwise unmanageable expenses. However, reverse mortgages can also be risky and complicated – and you’ll want to consult a professional before applying for one. Call your local mortgage expert to learn more about whether a reverse mortgage is right for you.

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Can You Refinance into a VA Mortgage from Another Type of Mortgage? Yes - if You Qualify VA mortgages stand out as one of the biggest benefits to men and women serving in the military. Although private lenders make the loan, the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees all VA mortgages, which is why these loans come with favorable terms and benefits not found with other mortgage types.

The Benefits Of Refinancing To A VA Mortgage

A VA loan may very well be the borrower’s only option for putting no money down, as many lenders will cover 100% of the value of the home, thanks to the backing of Veterans Affairs. There is a ceiling on the amount covered depending on the area of the country, so contacting a qualified VA mortgage professional is the preferred way to discover limits locally.

VA loans also require no mortgage insurance, cover many of the costs associated with closing or refinancing and, in many cases, have lower mortgage rates than comparable loans.

Veterans who had never considered a VA mortgage may wish to take advantage of the flexible terms and the favorable market to refinance their current mortgage into one that offers tremendous benefits.

Qualifying For A VA Mortgage

Veterans Affairs mortgages are limited to service men and women and their spouses, a benefit for serving their country. After a set amount of service time veterans are able to apply for a certificate of eligibility that will allow them to apply for the loan.

Those who are eligible include most military members in active duty, members of the National Guard, veterans both discharged and retired, military academy cadets as well as any spouse of a deceased serviceperson.

Eligible Homeowners Can Refinance Through Cash-Out Refinancing

The Department of Veterans Affairs considers a conventional mortgage to VA mortgage refinancing to be the same as cash-out refinancing and treats it accordingly.

This process is as intensive as an initial mortgage because it will replace the current mortgage altogether, so all applicants are expected to go through the standard credit and underwriting process.

VA loans are incredibly beneficial to current military members as well as retired veterans who may have never considered taking advantage of the program. Although the mortgage can cover 100% of the value of a home, the actual amount varies depending on the area. The only way to know for sure how much will be covered and whether it’s the right time to refinance is to contact a mortgage professional who has experience with VA mortgages.

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Retiring Soon? Learn How a Reverse Mortgage Can Add to Your Retirement SecurityIf you’re nearing retirement, you’re likely starting to think about your savings and retirement plan and how you can ensure a financially secure retirement. With your peak income-earning years largely behind you, you’ll need to work with what you have in order to ensure a livable retirement income. That’s where a reverse mortgage may be a sensible option.

How does a reverse mortgage work, and how can it help you to have a more financially secure retirement? Here’s what you need to know.

A Reverse Mortgage Is Tax-Free And Saves Your Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits offer a basic form of income for senior citizens, but if you tap into your Social Security too early in your retirement, you could use up your available benefits in a short span of time. Deferring Social Security until later on in your retirement means that you’ll get an extra 7 to 8 percent per year you defer, which is why you’ll want to save your Social Security for as long as possible. But in order to do that, you need another income source to live on.

A reverse mortgage is a tax-free income source that you can use to fund the early part of your retirement, allowing your Social Security benefits to mature. Best of all, a reverse mortgage frees up your budget so you can invest more of your funds and collect returns later.

You’ll Never Owe More Than Your Home’s Value – And There’s No Set Repayment Date

A lot of loans have high interest rates and fixed repayment periods. This means that if you use credit cards or take out a personal loan, for instance, you’ll be locked into a set repayment date or won’t have a high enough borrowing limit – or if you do have a high borrowing limit, you’ll find that interest charges quickly add up.

Reverse mortgages have no set repayment date, which means that you can use the money from a reverse mortgage as needed without having to worry about repayment. You’ll also never owe more on your reverse mortgage than what your home is worth, so you’ll never find yourself underwater.

A reverse mortgage is a great way to ensure that you have a safe, stable retirement – and it can add an extra layer of security on top of your social security benefits. Are you considering taking out a reverse mortgage on your home? A qualified mortgage advisor can help – contact a mortgage professional near you to learn more.

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The Pros and Cons of Refinancing Your Mortgage vs. Opening a Home Equity Line of CreditWhen it comes to a mortgage and the financial stability of your home, there’s no such thing as too much you can know in the case of keeping your biggest investment safe. If you’re looking at paying off debt and are considering using the equity in your home, here are a few things you’ll need to know about refinancing your mortgage and home equity lines of credit.

Fixed Second Mortgage vs. HELOC

Refinancing your mortgage to access equity (without changing the existing first mortgage)comes in two basic flavors: a fixed rate mortgage or a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). A fixed rate second mortgage is also known as a home equity loan. While you’re expected to pay the amount loaned back in monthly payments for a pre-determined number of years, you’ll receive this money at a fixed rate of interest. On the other hand, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is similar to a credit card where the amount you can borrow is determined by your credit history and income, and funds are withdrawn using this line of credit, can be paid down, and then drawn back on again.

All About The Interest Rates

When you refinance using a fixed rate second mortgage, the interest rate will be fixed so you won’t have to worry about any volatile increases down the road. Since this qualifies as a second mortgage, the interest rate on it will be higher than your typical first mortgage but lower than a HELOC. When it comes to HELOC’s, the amount of interest you’ll be paying will be linked to the prime rate and will fluctuate with the market, and this means you may end up paying a higher amount of interest than you bargained on.

How The Interest Is Calculated

While refinancing your mortgage can seem like a great opportunity since you’ll be able to deal with a fixed interest rate, it’s worth noting that the way you’ll be charged is different. A mortgage refinancing will charge you interest on the total amount of your loan while a HELOC will only require you to pay interest on the money you’ve withdrawn from it, so you’ll want to consider which option works best for you.

When it comes to getting a second mortgage or opening a HELOC, there are pros and cons to both that should be considered before delving into either. As these can risk the security of your most important investment, you’ll want to carefully weigh what will work best for you. If you’re curious about other homes in your area or are thinking of downsizing, you may want to contact one of our local mortgage professionals for more information.

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The FHA Mortgage Minimum Credit Score Has Been Reduced. Here's What You Need to KnowCredit is of considerable concern when it comes to buying a home, but if you’re on the market for a new place in the next few months there may be some timely news that applies to you. If you haven’t heard about the changes to the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) credit score minimum, here’s some information on the recent reduction and how it may impact your home purchase.

Information On The FHA

Started in 1934, the FHA is the organization responsible for insuring the loans that are available to homebuyers in the United States. These loans are not provided directly by the FHA, rather the FHA serves as the insurer for the loans that are leant by financial institutions of the United States. While there are a number of guidelines that must be met by borrowers in order to ensure the FHA will back their loan, a lowered mortgage minimum credit score means that those with a less-impressive credit profile may have a better opportunity for home ownership.

The Minimum Credit Score Reduction

The strength or weakness of your credit history has a significant impact on whether or not you will qualify for a mortgage or even pre-approval, so for those whose credit has suffered the recent drop in the minimum will be good news. Previously, the FHA required a score of 640 so that a borrower could be approved for a mortgage, but the reduction by 60 points to a credit score of 580 means greater possibility for those who might fit into a lower credit category.

A Lower Mortgage Minimum And The Market

With the opportunity for home ownership that will be opened up to potential buyers, there is a strong possibility that the market will experience a noticeable shift. Many millennials are poised to enter the real estate market this year, and with more people considering a house as a result of a reduction, there could be an increased demand in housing purchases. While the prices in rural areas have been dropping off, the housing in metropolitan areas may experience a sizeable upsurge.

With the reduction of the mortgage minimum credit score by the FHA, there are likely to be some shifts in the real estate market in the coming year that will affect demand and price. If you’re on the market for a new home and are interested in a purchase that will align with your finances, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

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If There's One Mistake That You Make with Your Mortgage... Don't Make This OneThere is so much to know when it comes to home ownership that even wading into all of the information can seem overwhelming, but if there’s one thing you need when the time comes to purchasing a home, it’s to be prepared. Here are a few ways that you can ensure you’re ready for what a mortgage entails so that buying your dream home will be a positive experience you won’t regret.

Consider All Of Your Options

Instead of accepting the mortgage that your bank is offering you, it’s very important to do some research and determine what some of the best options out there are for you. While it’s entirely possible that the option pushed forward by your bank will work out, in the days of so much information online it’s silly to go into your biggest purchase blindfolded. Take some time out and read about the products available so that, when the time comes, you can make an educated decision.

Know Your Credit History

Lenders will most definitely be digging through your finances and credit history for anything that might make them leery of your financial state, but you’ll want to be aware of your own standing so that you can be prepared for what this might entail. By getting your credit report and score before going through the process of acquiring a mortgage, you can fix any errors that might be on your credit report so that you’ll be prepared for the result when the time comes for pre-approval.

Plan For The Future Possibilities

If the mortgage amount you are planning on paying seems feasible on a month-to-month basis, it’s certainly a good place to start, but with the ever-fluctuating state of interest rates, you’ll need to prepare for this reality at the same time. It’s important to base the amount you’ll be spending each month off of the income and expenditures that you’ve worked out in a budget, but you’ll want to add in some wiggle room so that a jump in the rates won’t sink your dream of home ownership.

There are many things to be aware of when starting the process of purchasing a home, but delving into your credit history and doing the necessary background research can make for a smoother experience. If you’re looking for advice on purchasing a home, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

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How to Calculate Your True Cost of Living and Determine How Much Mortgage You Can AffordA monthly mortgage can seem like enough of a financial responsibility on its own, but there are many factors involved in home ownership that affect its fiscal feasibility. If you’re in the market for a house and are wondering how your income will stack up against the rest of your expenses, here’s how to determine a home cost that’s reasonable for you.

Determine Your Down Payment

Before you start with anything else, you’ll want to determine the amount of money you can put down so you can estimate your monthly payments. The traditional amount for a down payment is 20% of the home’s purchase price, so if you don’t have anything close to this amount it might be worth waiting a little longer so you can minimize your payments and the amount of interest or mortgage insurance you’ll be paying in the long run. Each person’s situation is different, and there may be programs available with less than 20% down. This is an excellent question to pose to your trusted mortgage advisor.

Calculate Your Monthly Budget

If your mortgage cost already seems high, it will definitely be worth carefully calculating your monthly expenditures. Instead of a wild guess, take the time to sit down and calculate what your costs are including food, utilities, transportation and any other monthly necessities. Once you do this, it’s also very important to add any debt repayments you’re making to the mix. The total amount of your estimated mortgage costs, debt payments and living expenses should give you a pretty good sense of if your mortgage is viable in the long term.

Don’t Forget About The Extras

When it comes to purchasing a home, many people envision that they will be eating and sleeping their new home so don’t pay attention to all of the additional costs that can arise with living life. A new home is certainly an exciting, worthwhile financial venture, but ensure you’re realistic about what it entails. If you’re planning to go back to school or have children in the future, you’ll want to add a little bit of extra cushion in your budget so that you don’t have to put your other dreams on hold for the sake of your ideal home.

It can be very exciting to find a home you feel good about, but it’s important before making an offer to realize the amount of house you can afford so you don’t find yourself in a hole down the road. If you’re currently on the market for a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for a personal consultation.

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HARP Refinancing Ends in 2016: Here's How to Take Advantage Before It's GoneMany homeowners are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments on a monthly basis, and it can often seem like there are limited options for remedying the situation. If you haven’t heard of HARP refinancing and you’re a homeowner who’s looking for a lower interest rate, this may be the right solution to your payment woes. Instead of letting the opportunity blow by, here’s all you need to know before this option ends in 2016.

The Details On HARP Refinancing

Known as HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program was created in 2009 following the economic crash that was brought on by the housing crisis. In the wake of hard economic times, the program was devised as a means of streamlining the process for those who couldn’t refinance their mortgage. Instead of reliable homeowners being stuck with a rate because they don’t qualify for refinancing, HARP enables them to acquire lower interest rates.

Some Of The Requirements For HARP

In order for you to be able to apply for a HARP refinancing, you must have a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac that was provided to you on or before May 21, 2009. While you’ll want to check with your mortgage holder to determine if you are eligible for this refinancing option, you’ll have to be up-to-date on your mortgage payments with a loan-to-value ratio that is above 80%. For more information on a HARP refinancing, you can visit their website for all the details.

Carefully Consider The Closing Costs

While refinancing your mortgage and acquiring a lower interest rate may sound like instant money savings, it’s important to find a lender that can offer HARP without any closing costs, or at least costs low enough they’ll balance out in your favor. HARP refinancing can certainly be an option worth serious consideration, but if you have lowered interest rates and a high closing cost, it’s possible that you will not be able to re-coup the extra money you’re paying.

HARP refinancing is set to end in 2016, but if you’re a homeowner who is looking to refinance you may want to look into this program for saving money on your mortgage. By familiarizing yourself with the requirements and determining if the closing costs balance out, you may have an easier monthly payment on your hands. If you are paying off your home but are interested in what’s available on the market, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional for more information.