Archive for the ‘Home Loans’ Category

6 Creative Ways to Afford a Home

new home buyers - family
There are still various options to consider when purchasing a home:

1. Investigate local, state, and national down payment assistance programs. These programs give qualified applicants loans or grants to cover all or part of your required down payment. National programs include the Nehemiah program, www.getdownpayment.com, and the American Dream Down Payment Fund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, www.hud.gov.

2. Explore seller financing. In some cases, sellers may be willing to finance all or part of the purchase price of the home and let you repay them gradually, just as you would do with a mortgage.

3. Consider a shared-appreciation or shared-equity arrangement. Under this arrangement, your family, friends, or even a third-party may buy a portion of the home and share in any appreciation when the home is sold. The owner/occupant usually pays the mortgage, property taxes, and maintenance costs.

4. Ask your family for help. Perhaps a family member will loan you money for the down payment or act as a co-signer for the mortgage. Lenders often like to have a co-signer if you have little credit history.

5. Lease with the option to buy. Renting the home for a year or more will give you the chance to save more toward your down payment. And in many cases, owners will apply some of the rental amount toward the purchase price. You usually have to pay a small, nonrefundable option fee to the owner.

6. Consider a short-term second mortgage. If you can qualify for a short-term second mortgage, this would give you money to make a larger down payment. This may be possible if you’re in good financial standing, with a strong income and little other debt.

These creative strategies and more are covered in detail at our real estate seminars.  Find out your options and make sound financial decisions for you and your family.

Source: Realtor Magazine


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Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): How does it protect you and when to cancel

private mortgage insurance

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) provides protection to a lender in case you default on your home loan. Unless you make a 20% downpayment on a house, you’ll most likely be required to purchase PMI. PMI premiums on a median priced home ($198,100 in 2008) can run between $50 and $100 per month, according to the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America.

PMI might be unavoidable, but it isn’t eternal. Knowing exactly when you’re entitled to cancel coverage can save you a bundle. If you own a median priced home, you’ll pocket between $600 and $1,200 for each year’s worth of premiums you can avoid. That extra cash can be used to pay down your principal instead.

When PMI is cancelled automatically

Though often maligned, PMI plays an important role. Many aspiring homeowners, especially first-time buyers, simply can’t afford to put down 20% on a house. Without the safeguard offered by PMI, lenders would be reluctant to extend mortgages to low-equity purchasers.

For many borrowers, the coverage is short-lived. The Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, the industry trade group, estimates that 90% of homeowners are done paying PMI premiums, which are tax-deductible for some, within five years.

If you purchased a house since 1999 and are still paying PMI, you probably fall under the Homeowners Protection Act (HPA) of 1998. Your lender is required to automatically cancel your insurance once you’ve paid down your mortgage to a 78% (0.78) loan-to-value ratio, or LTV. Put another way, once you have 22% equity built up. Many lenders will treat pre-HPA loans in a similar fashion. Call to confirm.

To calculate your LTV, divide the outstanding loan amount by the original price of your home. If you have a $190,000 mortgage on a house you purchased for $200,000, the LTV is 95%. You’d need to get the mortgage balance down to $156,000—78% of the original value—to qualify for automatic cancellation of PMI.

When you need to request cancellation

You don’t necessarily have to wait for automatic cancellation. When your LTV hits 80%, you can petition your lender to end its PMI requirement. The process can take several weeks. Your lender isn’t obligated to grant your request, but you’ll bolster your case if you have a good payment history.

Start by calling your lender, not the PMI provider. You’ll probably need to make a formal request in writing and pay out of pocket for an appraisal. The average cost of an appraisal is $362, according to a 2009 Bankrate.com survey. Your lender will usually select the appraiser.

Although an appraisal is conducted primarily for the benefit of the lender to confirm that your property hasn’t declined from its original value, a high appraisal can work to your advantage. As your property value increases, whether due to a general uptick in real estate prices or specific home improvements, your LTV decreases.

A way around PMI premiums

In search of a PMI loophole? Look for so-called piggyback loans, also known as 80/10/10 or 80/15/5 loans. Basically, the home lender finances 80% and immediately gives you a second loan for 10% to 15%. You put down 5% to 10%. No PMI is required.

This alternative has traditionally been available for homebuyers with minimal capital but excellent credit. In tight lending environments, however, this arrangement is harder to come by. And even when piggyback loans are available, the extra interest you usually pay on the second mortgage may actually cost more than PMI premiums. Do the math.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but is not intended to be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Readers should consult a tax professional for such advice, and are reminded that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

Source: Richard J. Koreto (HouseLogic.com) Koreto is a freelance writer. He has been editor of several professional financial magazines and is the author of “Run It Like a Business,” a practice management book for financial planners. He and his wife own a pre-Civil War house in Rockland County, N.Y.


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Homebuyers: Too Late for Tax Credit Extension, but still Find Market Ripe with Good Deals

happy-new-home-buyers

The three-month homebuyer limited tax-credit extension has helped many people.  However, it is too late for other home seekers to take advantage of the tax credit.

But Lucien Salvant, National Association of Realtors spokesperson, says that shouldn’t discourage interested buyers because the market is ripe with other opportunity. “The good news for people who didn’t take advantage of the tax credit is that the inventory is still plentiful, although it’s reduced significantly from what it was a year ago, prices are affordable, and the interest rates are the lowest they’ve been since the 1950s.” The low interest rates are, of course, a magnet for attracting buyers. However, Salvant says that while this is a good time to buy, he notes that the lending market isn’t operating the way it did before the housing crisis. This, he says, should make people understand that buying a house is a good option if you plan to stay in it a while—not play the flipping gamble, hoping for a quick profit.

“The average is about seven years. Homeownership is an investment in the future, not for a quick turnaround, which a lot of people abused in the earlier part of this decade,” says Salvant.

Salvant notes that the housing market’s recovery is being hampered by uncertain unemployment conditions which are causing some potential buyers to wait, possibly for more breaks.

But Salvant says don’t count on more tax incentives. “We have asked Congress now for three different tax credits and we’ve gotten them. The purpose of the tax credit was to give a quick start to the housing economy which was coming apart and sinking fast. We think it really helped. Now, it’s time for the housing market to stand on its own two feet,” says Salvant.

What’s the future hold?

Salvant says, “It’s like a baby standing on its own two feet. It’s going to be wobbly, it’s going to take a while for things to settle in, but the housing market needs to function on its own.” The housing market recovery is being hampered by the joblessness, says Salvant. “[People] are worried about how many people are going to lose their jobs. … ‘If I buy a house, am I going to be able to make the payments?’ That worry is on a lot of people’s minds and it’s beyond the housing market to solve that problem,” says Salvant.

He says the magnets are there to attract homebuyers: low interest rates, good inventory, and affordable prices. “We’re hoping that free enterprise—private industry—and the government can work together to create incentives for a hiring to help the jobless situation in this country,” says Salvant.

As the economic job forecast remains uncertain, sellers dangle a golden carrot which promises a way for buyers to purchase a home that will save them money. Now, more than ever, sellers are highlighting features such as the home’s energy efficiency and close walking distance to jobs, stores, schools, and other vital locations.

Find out options available for you when purchasing a home.  Real knowledge, creative strategies….know the facts.  Check out our upcoming seminars in Long Beach, CA.

Source: Phoebe Chongchua (RealtyTimes): Chogchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California.



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Homebuyers: Find out what you’re REALLY paying before you sign the papers to your new home.

sign contract papers

Three documents that are crucial to the homebuying transaction give both the seller and the buyer a better fix on virtually all costs they can expect to face during the ordeal.  This includes everything from the appraisal fee to the underwriter’s portion of the title insurance — as well as a sort of manual to understand how it all works — the documents make it easier to calculate, compare and question all the costs associated with the home buying ordeal.

“This is important because whether you buy a mansion or a cottage, you want to know how much your mortgage is going to cost — not just the interest rate but all the fees and charges you’ll have to pay to close the loan” as well as other homebuying costs, writes mortgage maven, Peter Miller, publisher of the Silver Spring, MD-based OurBroker.com.

  • 1. Under the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), since Jan. 1, 2010, your mortgage broker or lender must give you the mandated Good Faith Estimate (GFE) within three days of accepting your application.  It shows the loan terms and the settlement charges you will pay if you decide to go forward with a given mortgage. It explains which charges can change before settlement and which charges must remain the same.
  • 2. At closing, the lender must provide borrowers with the new Settlement Statement HUD-1, the final line-by-line list of mortgage and closing costs.  It is a complete and final list of all your charges and credits. In addition to the cost of the property, your down payment, the financed amount, your monthly payment, and loan terms. It includes your loan type, annual percentage rate (APR), points, commissions, yield spread premiums, originating fees and other loan costs as well as title and escrow fees, closing costs, tax and insurance payments, inspection fees, attorney fees, and information and costs related to rate locks and prepayment penalties — the works.
  • 3. Along with the GFE, you’ll also receive the new “Shopping For Your Home Loan: HUD’s Settlement Cost Booklet” a guidebook to walk you through the other two documents.

Follow the links and get these documents online anytime, especially before you are in the thick of buying or selling a home in today’s market. Getting familiar with the documents now, can save a lot of headaches later.

You have the right under Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to inspect the HUD-1 Settlement Statement before settlement occurs.
You should set aside a full day to see your HUD-1 document at least a day before closing, so you have time to go over all costs, eliminate surprises and ask the lender or other professionals involved any questions that might arise.

Source:  Broderick Perkins (RealtyTimes)



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Top 5 Answers for Homeowners about Strategic Mortgage Default

walk away, strategic mortgage default

1. Should I intentionally default on my home mortgage?

Today, many people are ‘intentionally’ or ‘strategically’ defaulting because cash is more valuable than credit. Because many of the banks were unethical, some borrowers don’t feel the ‘moral obligation’ to pay, especially when the banks are being less than cooperative as buyers try to work things out. Rather than defaulting, the best thing to do is use the Section 702 program of the Obama act, which allows a qualified third-party buyer to take possession and make a ‘bona fide’ offer to the bank. This helps show the debt ‘settled’ on your credit and can eliminate the second mortgages completely. Walking away and allowing the bank to foreclose still allows the second lender to render a judgment—and possibly garnish your wages. You may also have to file for bankruptcy to recover from the credit nightmare.

In addition, it is always best to gain the most knowledge to make the best decision for yourself and your family.  There are great workshops and seminars that reveal the different programs the are available to homeowners and discuss the pitfalls people may encounter.  For specialized assistance in saving your home, consult a specialist and discover real options that fit your scenario.

2. As a borrower, what are some ways I can gain leverage with my mortgage holder?

One way to gain leverage with a lender is to establish a ‘substitute mortgage’—a security pledge that is offered to the seller’s lender, with a third party (lawyer or Escrow company) for a lesser amount of the current payment. Over time, this will result in a significant amount of collected funds that can be used as negotiating leverage to release the borrower from the debt, or dictate terms for a loan modification in the borrower’s advantage.

3. Why have loan modifications and foreclosures become the predominant answer for so many in distressed property situations, and why can this be problematic?

The reason why loan modifications and foreclosures have become the answer for so many is because many real estate professionals erroneously consider the short sale process to be too complex. Not knowing how to orchestrate the transaction and not having the correct forms and contact information with all the different parties is overwhelming for many Realtors, so they forego an option that would otherwise be in the owner’s best interest. The result is unnecessary spending of tax payer’s funds that are being used for the alternative solutions, when capital contributions from the ‘street level’ can be used to offset the losses and payoff the delinquencies without requiring such taxpayer contribution.

For specialized assistance in the short sale process, consider discussing your options and the entire process with a specialized short sale consultant.

4. Why is a short sale strategy more advantageous than a loan modification or foreclosure approach?

The reduced payoff in a short sale can release you from the debt obligation. This allows you to re-establish your credit faster and re-enter the market much wiser. A loan modification actually builds a debt trap around the borrower who is emotionally attached to a property, milking the borrower for every last nickel. A foreclosure ruins a homeowner’s credit and takes a much longer time period to recover from.

If you find out you need more work to fix your credit, consult with a credit repair specialist to discuss your options and find out what is right for you.

5. I’ve heard borrowers in default need a ‘General Public Disclosure?’ Why

Many people are not aware of the ‘alternatives’ when facing foreclosure. The state and the federal agencies do not provide any literature to default borrowers as a ‘preventative’ measure. Knowing your options, as detailed on a General Public Disclosure document, can make all the difference in establishing a deal that’s in the homeowners’ best interest.

Source:   Marian Anthony (RISMedia): Real estate finance expert, author and speaker, Marian Anthony is the President of Anthony Realty Group (ARG)–a San Diego-based consumer advocacy agency that helps educate real estate professionals throughout Southern California to better assist home buyers and investors. Anthony is also founder of the California Default Mortgage Hotline—a non-profit public interest group availing financially-stressed homeowners in mortgage default with validated information and industry resources.



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Mortgage Rates Drop to a New Low

mortgage rates drop

Mortgage rates fell for the second straight week to the lowest point in five decades.

But many people either don’t qualify for new mortgages or have already taken advantage of the low rates this year. As a result, the housing market and the broader economy may not benefit much from the lower rates.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 4.57 percent this week, mortgage company Freddie Mac reported Thursday. That’s down from the previous record low of 4.58 percent set last week.It’s the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971. The last time rates were lower was in the 1950s, when most long-term home loans lasted just 20 or 25 years.

Rates have fallen over the past two months. Investors, concerned with the European debt crisis, have poured money into the safety of Treasury bonds. Treasury yields have fallen and so have mortgage rates, which tend to track yields on long-term Treasurys.

Rates could go lower and still not budge the housing market, analysts say. That’s because a person without a job can’t afford a home and a person worried about losing their job is unlikely to purchase, too, said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com.

“And if an $8,000 tax credit didn’t get buyers to take the plunge, saving $50 a month on a mortgage payment probably won’t either,” he said.

To calculate the national average, Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to an average of 4.07 percent, up from 4.04 percent last week. That was the lowest on records dating to September 1991.

Rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.75 percent, down from 3.79 percent a week earlier. That was also the lowest on Freddie Mac’s records, which date back only to January 2005.

Average rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 3.75 percent from 3.80 percent.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. The nationwide fee for all types of loans in Freddie Mac’s survey averaged 0.7 a point.

Discover more resources on Home Loans and get PreQualified.

If you need to repair or improve your credit score, contact Backyard Credit Repair to find out how.

Source: J.W. Elphinstone (Associated Press)


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Congress Extends Home Buyer Tax Credit Deadline

tax credits

Congress late Wednesday night extended the deadline by three months of a popular home-buyer tax credit that has helped fuel the real estate market in recent months.

The extension is only for those buyers who signed a purchase contract by April 30 and need extra time to close their deals. The deadline to close was Wednesday and the extension will push that deadline to Sept. 30. The incentive offers up to $8,000 for certain buyers.

Real estate brokerage offices and mortgage lenders have been backlogged with the number of people trying to close their deals by the Wednesday deadline, according to the National Assn. of Realtors, a group that lobbied heavily for the extension. The group estimated that the extra time would assist some 180,000 people nationally and 17,700 Californians who qualify for the credit but did not appear as if they would meet the Wednesday deadline to close their deals.

The federal tax credit was created in 2008 by the Bush administration as a $7,500 incentive for first-time purchasers, who were required to repay the money in a series of installments. Congress increased the amount to $8,000 in February 2009 when it passed the economic stimulus package and waived the repayment requirement. As an initial deadline for the credit loomed last November, Congress extended and expanded it to include as much as $6,500 for some current homeowners.

The Realtors group in Washington estimates that a total of 4.4 million people have received the credit since it was made nonrefundable last year. That includes 2.9 million first-time buyers and 1.5 million repeat buyers, the group said.

Source: Alejandro Lazo (Los Angeles Times)


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