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New FHA max loan limit

December 12, 2019

In early December, I mentioned the maximum loan amount for conventional loans will increase from $484,350 to $510,400 in 2020. FHA followed suit and increase their maximum loan amounts.

One thing to remember about the maximum FHA loan amount is the amount varies from county to county. The max loan is based on the average home values in each market. The loan amount range across the US goes from $331,760 to $765,600.

To find your area, you can use the search tool created by HUD. Be sure to change the Limit Year from “CY2019” to “CY2020” in order to see the new maximum amounts.

For the Atlanta metro area, the new maximum FHA loan amount will be $401,350. This is about a 5% increase over the current limit of $379,500. With these increases, a buyer can now purchase a home in metro Atlanta:

As we celebrate the new year, it is also time to celebrate more buying power in the housing market!

Are you thinking about buying a home in 2020? Want to get a head start? I’m already working with clients who are ready to purchase home. The spring market has started! If you are buying a home in the state of Georgia, contact me today. You can be ready to make an offer on a home in no time at all.

Conforming loan limits rise again

December 3, 2019

For the fourth consecutive year, the conforming loan limit is rising for 2020!

Historically, this is the normal trend of conforming loan limits as the maximum conventional loan amount increased almost every year from 1980 to 2006. Then 2007 arrived…

From 2007 to 2016, the conventional loan limit remained steady at $417,000. With the housing crash and slow recovery, FHFA held the maximum amount steady for a decade. We experienced a modest increase in 2017 followed by more substantial increases for the next few years.

  • 2017 max limit was $424,100 (up from $417,000 for only about a 2% increase)
  • 2018 max limit was $453,100 (about a 7% increase)
  • 2019 max limit was $484,350 (another increase of about 7%)
  • the new 2020 maximum conventional loan limit will be $510,400, which is just over a 5% increase from this year.

Since one only needs a 3% down payment to qualify for a conventional loan, this means buyers can purchase a $526,000 home with only a $16,000 down payment! With 2020 just around the corner, we can begin using the new limits.

With the conforming loan limit increase, we can also expect the maximum FHA loan limit to increase as well (currently at $379,500 for metro Atlanta). Once FHA makes their formal announcement, The Mortgage Blog will update you on it too!

Ready to get a jump on the spring market for 2020? The spring market is already starting! If you are looking to purchase in the state of Georgia, contact me today. I can get you prequalified and ready to make an offer on your new home in minutes!

A good time to buy a home!

November 6, 2019

The holiday season is upon us! We are on the other side of Halloween, headed toward Thanksgiving and then the month full of holidays – December. Guess it is time to stop looking at homes…

Not true!

This time of year is a great to both sell a home and purchase a home. Here are some reasons why someone should consider purchasing a home now.

  • There is less competition on the market for sellers during this time of the year. The same is true for buyers as there are fewer people looking to buy a home.
  • This means both buyers and sellers are serious about making a real estate sale – no tire kickers this time of year. Everyone is buys with holiday planning and events.
  • Thinking spring market? Well, a lot of buyers and sellers are thinking the same thought. Meaning, by the time the new year rolls around, there will be plenty of more homes and buyers out – more competition on both sides.
  • Rates are still low. Mortgage rates are lower now than last year and close to their yearly lows of 2019.

On a personal note, I’ve personally purchased a few homes. The time I purchased during the holidays was easier than when I’ve looked and bought homes during the spring/early summer. Less inventory means a more focused search for finding a home. Fewer buyers meant the seller only had a few offers to consider instead of a dozen or more!

While the year is coming to an end, the housing market never really does end. It just keeps going and going. Now is a great time to get out there and find that home. If you are buying in the state of Georgia, contact me today. You can get prequalified in a few minutes, and a pre-approval in just a few more minutes. You’ll be ready to make an offer on a home in no time at all!

Changes to the VA Funding Fee

October 31, 2019

There are a few certainties in life… death, taxes, leaves changing colors in the fall, and loan guidelines changing. Well, we have some new changes with VA loans pertaining to the funding fee. 

Currently the VA funding fee is as follows:
– 2.15% of the loan amount for first time usage and 3.3% subsequent use when making less than a 5% down payment. 
– 1.5% of the loan amount for first time usage and subsequent use when making a 5% down payment. 
– 1.25% of the loan amount for first time usage and subsequent use when making a 10% (or larger) down payment. 

The funding fees are slightly higher if the buyer is part of Reserves/National Guard vs being part of the regular military. 

Beginning in November the fees change to:
– 2.3% for first time use and 3.6% for subsequent use when making less than a 5% down payment. 
– 1.65% fee when making a 5% down payment
– 1.4% fee when making a 10% down payment. 

Some notes on this:
1. The increase is roughly 0.15 across the board. 
2. There are still funding fee exemptions for disabled veterans. 
3. There is now no difference between being in the regular military, reserves or national guard. 

Now I know a thought that may be going through the reader’s mind… the funding fee is going up. What is a funding fee?… great question!

VA loans do not have a monthly mortgage insurance payment. They do have an up front premium for obtaining the loan (similar to FHA loans). VA loans still do not have monthly mortgage insurance payments, the the funding fee (required on all VA loans unless the borrower is considered disabled) is going up. 

Are you a veteran living in Georgia looking to buy a home? Never considered using your VA eligibility? Maybe it makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t.  To find out, contact me today. There’s only one way you’ll know which loan program makes the most sense for you – asking the question. 

Home equity reaches all time high

October 8, 2019

The amount of equity in US homes now exceeds the levels seen before the housing crash. Available equity in the US is just over $6 trillion, which is 25% higher than the peaks seen during the housing boom.

Black Knight Inc uses data and analytics to provide forecasts for the mortgage and real estate industries. Their surveys indicate just over half of home owners have rates at 0.750% or higher than current rates. The average home owner has $140,000 in equity in their homes.

Meaning… homeowners have enough equity to avoid PMI (or get rid of PMI if currently on their loan) and lower their monthly payment by moving to a better interest rate.

With rates at yearly lows, and lots of equity in homes, it is the right environment for a refinance. So… should you refinance?

The main question I ask clients is “how much longer do you plan to remain in the home?”

  • If the homeowner is looking to move in the near future, then it rarely makes sense to refinance.
  • If the monthly savings begins to exceed $100 per month and a break-even point is around 2-3 years, then a refinances begins to make more sense.

Another question I get is “when should I consider refinancing?” It is a great question, and my answer is simple… if the current interest rate is 0.500% or higher than your rate, then at least have a conversation.

Own a home in Georgia and your interest rate is at or over 4.500%? Wondering if now is a good time to refinance? Contact me today. In just a few minutes, we’ll put together some numbers to see if a refinance could make sense. A credit pull isn’t required for this conversation.

Mortgage rates are as low as they’ve been in a couple of years. There is more equity than ever in US homes. If you are planning on remaining in your home for 2+ years, now may be a great time for a refinance.

Planning the move

September 10, 2019

At The Mortgage Blog, we talk often about making a plan for the mortgage. Today, let’s talk about a different type of plan – the move itself!

It makes perfect sense. I mean, we make plans to ensure the home loan goes smoothly. There is a plan for the home we look to buy (area of town, school districts, size of home, size of yard, etc.). I mean, why wouldn’t we tackle moving with the same concepts.

So here’s to planning the move! Where to begin? Let’s begin the same way we begin a home search, with a plan. Just like you’d sort potential homes by number of beds, baths, etc., let’s begin sorting our possessions into categories such as:

  • clothes
  • kitchen items
  • plates
  • glasses
  • decorative items
  • toys
  • important documents
  • toiletries
  • books

Looking at an entire house full of items is overwhelming. Sorting through each category becomes more manageable. With the categories in place, it makes the next step of sorting easier.

Once everything is sorted, it becomes obvious what to do with all of the possessions. Reviewing each category separately, you can begin to see what items you want to keep, what items to sell/donate/give away, and what items simply need to be recycled or thrown away.

The final step is to begin packing as soon as you are able to do so. Planning a summer move? Well, you don’t need winter clothes in the spring. Pack them up! Use the same logic for other items you don’t need access to all of the time. By getting a head start on packing, it will lessen the burden when it comes to packing up the entire house.

Still overwhelmed? Packing and organizing just isn’t your thing? No worries! Lots of people don’t like this stuff. If you want to consult a professional, how about Amber Blandford with Joyful Spaces. Amber owns and operates the professional organizing services provided by Joyful Spaces. When some people run screaming in fear of organizing, Amber feels a rush of joy! She’ll help you get going!

So there are some thoughts on planning a move. Still need to plan on how to pay for the home purchase? I’m always happy to help! Contact me today. If buying in the state of Georgia, I can get you prequalified in a few minutes and have you well on your way to making an offer on your new home!

More potential changes to FHA loans

August 6, 2019

I’ve thrown up a posts over the past couple of months (here and here) about potential changes for condo purchases using FHA loans. How about a change on FHA loans that is beneficial for everyone!

A new bill working its way through Congress would make mortgage insurance for FHA more like mortgage insurance for conventional loans.

Currently, FHA mortgage insurance is permanent unless the buyer makes a 10% down payment. When making a down payment as large as 10%, often buyers use a conventional loan. Maybe there is a case where someone still wants to do an FHA loan (for example, a foreclosure 3 years ago is OK on FHA loans but not OK for conventional loans), but often 10% down means a buyer is using a conventional loan for their purchase.

With FHA’s current permanent monthly mortgage insurance, it makes FHA loans much less competitive with conventional loans. The new bill looks to change this situation.

If passed, the bill would change the cancellation date on FHA mortgage insurance from “until the loan is paid in full” (meaning permanent for the life of the loan) to when the loan balance is 78% of the homes original value. Meaning, the mortgage insurance is no longer permanent.

The current set up with mortgage insurance on FHA loans really isn’t fair to the home buyer. They are way over charged paying mortgage insurance for the life of the loan, and the change could make FHA loans are more viable alternative for buyers making the minimum down payment on a home purchase.

Can’t decide if an FHA is right for you? Contact me and we’ll find out! If you are buying a home in the state of Georgia, I can also get you prequalified and ready to make an offer on your new home.

Flood insurance program extended

August 1, 2019

Not many people seem to agree on anything in D.C. right now, but there is one thing receiving praise from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and National Association of Realtors (NAR) – flood insurance.

Democrats and Republicans worked together to reauthorize flood insurance through most of 2024. The NAR President praised the bipartisan agreement to provide some stability for national flood insurance for years to come. A strong flood insurance program helps stabilize the housing market and provide affordable housing in areas at a higher risk of flood damage.

It wasn’t that long ago some people thought the flood insurance program wouldn’t receive more funding, and now we have five years authorized – an eternity in politics these days!

Flood insurance isn’t just for the coasts. Sure we think of places like Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans, but there are plenty of places in the metro Atlanta area in flood zones. Without this program, large areas of residential homes in the US would be at risk causing a housing shortage and creating more issues in the housing market (especially when it comes to affordability).

A job well done on a program impacting millions of families in the U.S.

The mysterious case of home ownership

July 9, 2019

Home buyers continue to make assumptions (most of which are bad) when it comes to buying a home. Meaning, the options for education for buying a home are not as good as they should be.

That is why you have The Mortgage Blog!

This misinformation is undoubtedly holding some back from even looking to try and purchase a home. Let’s take a look at a recent survey by Fannie Mae to see some of the false assumptions buyers have about purchasing a home:

  • most buyers assume the minimum credit score is higher than what is actually required to qualify
  • most buyers assume the down payment is higher than what is actually required as a minimum down payment
  • few home buyers are aware of low down payment programs such as Fannie Mae Home Ready requiring only 3% down

Under these assumptions, many potential buyers assume home ownership isn’t even an option and therefor do not do any further investigating into possibilities of buying a home.

The Mortgage Blog has covered all of these topics and more:

The Mortgage Blog has your back! Reading over these, one will learn a large down payment is not needed to buy a home (as little as 3% down on a conventional loan and 3.5% on an FHA loan), perfect credit is not required (down to 620 on FHA and conventional and sometimes as low as 580 on FHA), and there are programs out there for first time home buyers.

Been wanting to own a home but confused at all of the misinformation out there? Just want a straight answer or two? Contact me! I will be happy to answer your questions about home ownership. If you are looking to buy in the state of Georgia, I can get you prequalified and on your way to owning a home!

Changes coming to Home Ready

July 2, 2019

Fannie Mae has a great loan product called Home Ready. Potential home buyers can qualify even if not a first time home buyer. The blog covered the details of Home Ready in the past. Check out those posts:

One aspect to pay attention to is the income limit. To qualify for Home Ready, a potential buyer’s income can’t exceed 100% of the area median income (AMI) for the area. There are also some areas with no income limits. These areas are determined from the census track (where household income and people are counted in geographic areas).

Here is a handy website where one can look up a property to see about qualifying income limits:

https://homeready-eligibility.fanniemae.com/homeready/

Starting July 20, 2019, Fannie Mae will implement changes to the program. Gone are the no income limit areas. Another change is the qualifying income reduces from 100% of the AMI to 80%. What does this mean:

  • some metro Atlanta areas have no income limits, so a buyer could have an income of $200,000 and still use Home Ready. After July 20th, that will no longer be the case.
  • If an AMI is $80,000, the qualifying income will be now $64,000 (80% of the AMI) instead of the $80,000.

It seems Home Ready is narrowing the pool of potential buyers who can use the program. If you are looking to use Home Ready, talk to your loan officer to see if these changes could impact your home search.

Looking to buy in the state of Georgia, if so, contact me today. We can get you ready to make an offer on a new home in minutes, and see if Home Ready is a program you could take advantage of with your home purchase.