Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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!

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Happy Holidays

December 17, 2018

Have a great holiday season!

Have a great holiday season!

Cash Out Refi or HELOC – Key Questions

October 25, 2018


 

 

In the last post we covered the fact that American households have over $6 trillion of accessible home equity and described the two main ways home owners can access that equity – a cash out mortgage refinance and a home equity line of credit (HELOC).  I promised to make my recommendations on which option is best for a home owner, based on a set of questions.  You will find my recommendations below:

Question #1:  Do I want a fixed payment, or can I live with changing interest rates and payments?  Recent economic conditions show rising interest rates.   HELOC accounts typically carry a variable interest rate that increases as market interest rates increase and decrease as the market decreases.  Borrowers obtaining a cash out mortgage refinance often secure fixed rate mortgages, so the payments do not change over time.  Which do you prefer?

Question #2:  Am I disciplined to proactively pay down my loan over time, or will I only make minimum payments?  HELOC accounts typically require interest-only payments.  If you only plan to make the minimum payments, you may be surprised in a few years when your HELOC account matures and the bank expects you to pay off the remaining account balance.  If you will proactively pay down the balance, you will not have this surprise.  Refi mortgage payments fully amortize over the loan term, so your monthly payment always includes a principal component.  And when you make the last payment, your original loan balance will be fully repaid.  Which option is best for you?

Question #3:  How much money do I need, $100,000 for a home renovation or $10,000 for a home repair?  In short, if you do make extra principle payments, how long will it take you to repay the loan balance?  The lower the amount and the faster you repay it, the less likely increasing interest rates will burst your budget.  If you need a renovation amount of cash, selecting the long-term fixed mortgage rate may be a better option since it provides a fixed payment over a long time period.

Question #4:  Why do I need access to my home’s equity?  In my opinion, home renovations, repairs, and debt consolidations serve as good reasons to tap home equity.  These are steps that ultimately increase your equity or improve your overall financial position.  To me, that’s a wise use of your home equity.  On the other hand, tapping home equity for expendable items or vacations may not be the best use of a home’s equity.

Do you have a friend pondering whether to access their home’s equity?  Please refer them to me.  I will ask them these questions (and more) and coach them to make the best decision for their own unique circumstances.

Study Shows Financial Benefits of Home Ownership – Part 3

May 8, 2018

Here is another conclusion from the homeownership study by Laurie S. Goodman and Christopher Mayer (https://www.urban.org/research/publication/homeownership-and-american-dream) – although homeownership carries risks, over time, homeownership correlates with strong wealth accumulation.  The wealth accumulation benefits show the strongest links to owners who maintain their homeownership during market fluctuations (page 53).  In my opinion, this is one of the strongest arguments for home ownership.

With every mortgage payment, the homeowner increases equity and wealth because each payment has a principal component.  If you want to keep your house, you must make your payments, and you grow your equity with each payment.  You grow your wealth by paying a bill.  This means that even folks with less financial discipline – who may not set aside money for “savings” – still build wealth with every mortgage payment.  So homeowners grow wealth first by making their regular payments.

 

Secondly, price appreciation also provides long-term wealth benefits.  The study notes that “Homes have generally appreciated in price over time,” (page 52).  So over time, the homeowner increases his / her ownership percentage of a generally appreciating asset.  Since we humans have to pay for a place to live, why not build wealth as you pay for housing as opposed to rent payments that are simply an expense?

The study also states that homeowners can increase their home’s value by making some improvements themselves.  The home owner’s “sweat equity” serves as yet another way to grow wealth through home ownership.

To wrap up, I’ll quote this statement, “There is little evidence of an alternative savings vehicle (other than a government-mandated program like Social Security) that would successfully encourage low-to-moderate income households to obtain substantial savings outside of owning a home” (page 43).  Like the regular Social Security contributions we make, mortgage payments serve like a “forced savings plan.”  Unlike Social Security, which is subject to the whims of politicians and bureaucratic calculations, homeowners own a specific asset which can appreciate and in which they can invest more.  What’s not to love?

As noted in the first paragraph, home owners must be able to hang on during market fluctuations.  Buying a home with a short-term horizon can decrease wealth.  We all endured a home price roller coaster from 2006 to 2013.  Although this period is fresh in our minds, remember that the only other time when we had home price swings of that magnitude was during the Great Depression.

In the next post, we will explore some other “pitfalls” of ownership, from a financial perspective.  For now, do you have a friend who expresses frustration about ever-increasing rent payments?  Ask them if they would like to increase their own net worth every month (instead of their landlord’s net worth).  Then refer them to me.  We at Dunwoody Mortgage will help them plan effectively for long-term ownership and wealth accumulation.  And we will take great care of them through the process.

 

Tools to Access Your Home’s Equity

January 11, 2018

Home owners often seek to use their home equity as a source of cash.  They can use this cash for renovations, paying off other high interest debt, funding college educations, etc.

Owners typically access their equity by either (1) paying off their current mortgage and obtaining a new, higher-balance mortgage using a “cash out” refinance or (2) obtaining a home equity line of credit (HELOC).  Each option has some pros and cons.  The new federal tax law somewhat changes the pro / con dynamic.

Under the 2017 tax law, mortgage interest paid on loan balances up to $750,000 remains deductible on your federal taxes.  However, the tax law eliminated the mortgage interest deduction on new home equity loans and lines of credit.  But note that this only affects home owners who itemize their taxes.  And with the doubling of the standard deduction under the new tax law, the number of households that itemize deductions is expected to drop from 34 million to 14 million.

So, if you are considering accessing your home equity, first think through whether this tax change will affect you.  If you are a single filer and your itemized deductions including mortgage interest would be less than $12,000, the interest deductibility will not affect your decision.  If you file jointly and your itemized deductions would be less than $24,000, interest deductibility will again not affect your decision.

Here is my list of benefits for each option:

Cash Out Refi:

·        You can obtain a fixed rate loan.  The monthly principal and interest payment will never change.  HELOC rates are variable and your payments will increase when market interest rates increase.

·        You can deduct all interest (on loan balances up to $750,000) as part of your federal tax calculations as described above.

·        You reduce your outstanding loan principal with every payment.  The monthly payments reduce your outstanding principal every month.  HELOC payments are interest only.  For people who don’t have the financial discipline to pay down HELOC balances, the cash out refi forces you to reduce the loan balance monthly.

HELOC:

·        You can access more of your home’s equity.  HELOC’s typically allow up to 85% loan balance (first mortgage plus HELOC) to home value or loan to value “LTV.”  Cash out refis only allow a maximum 80% LTV.

·        You pay less for the loan itself.  Closing costs are typically lower for a HELOC than for a mortgage.

·        You can pay less each month.  Required HELOC payments are interest only.  By not paying down part of the principal each month, your monthly payments will likely be lower with a HELOC versus a traditional  mortgage.   

Next post, we will cover some “rules of thumb” when choosing between a refi and a HELOC.  Own a home in Georgia and want to access some equity?  Give me a call at Dunwoody Mortgage and let’s review your options.  We can consider the advantages of each as we guide you to the best solution for your situation.

Happy Holidays

December 17, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Home Ready Example Case

June 6, 2017

So let’s take a look at a scenario where the Home Ready program can really help a home buyer, let’s call him “John Doe.”  John’s mortgage credit score is 680.  John wants to buy a house priced at $200,000 and he only has about $10,000 in cash.  In addition to his down payment, he will need to use some cash for closing costs and prepaid escrow, so he can really only afford a 3% down payment.

With a standard conventional loan, John would pay a “premium” for a loan with only 3% down.  His monthly principal and interest payment would be around $985.  And his private mortgage insurance (“PMI”) would be expensive at an estimated $226 per month.  So with the standard conventional loan, John would be looking at a mortgage payment of around $1,200, before we add in the escrow payments for homeowner’s insurance and property taxes.

Now let’s assume that John qualifies for Fannie Mae’s Home Ready program.  John can therefore win approval for a 3% down conventional mortgage without having to pay the “premium price” for the low down payment.  He simply must take the $75 online class and pass the quiz at the end.  In this case, John’s monthly principal and interest payment would be around $940.  And John’s PMI would be an estimated $186 per month.  By taking the class and paying $75, John has used the Home Ready program to reduce his mortgage payment (before escrow) to about $1,126.  If John qualifies for the program, Home Ready will save him about $74 per month in this scenario.

Ultimately John will recoup his $75 online class investment in about one month.  That’s a pretty good return, in my opinion.

Now this is just one example using the assumptions provided, but it provides a realistic picture of how the Home Ready program works.  Do you want to buy a house in Georgia soon?  Do you have average to below average credit and not much money for a down payment?  If so, the Home Ready program might be a great way for you to buy that home you want.  Call me at Dunwoody Mortgage and we can review the Home Ready program and other options that could work for you.

Happy Holidays

December 17, 2016

Welcome to the Winter Wonderland. Happy Holidays!

Welcome to the Winter Wonderland. Happy Holidays!

Declining Asset Loan Option

May 16, 2016

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In the last post, I commented on a situation where a retiree with over half a million dollars in a brokerage account could not count his $4,000 monthly withdrawals from that account as “income” for a mortgage qualification.

So here’s what he can do with his current assets….I represent an investor who will do a “declining asset” loan for this retiree.  (Not all lenders will do this type of loan.)  We start with his account balance and multiply by 70%.  This is to adjust the balance for potential stock and bond market fluctuations.  That gets him to $350,000.

Then to fit this amount into a 10 year monthly income forecast – I divide by 120 months.  That yields about $2,915 per month in available income.  And that is all the “income” I can use based on his assets.

Retirement Income

This retiree told me that he had been “prequalified” by another lender for the full $4,000 “income” that he withdraws every month.  I asked, “Did that lender ask you any questions about HOW you earn your income?”  His response was, “No.”

We at Dunwoody Mortgage are trained to ask important questions up front.  By digging in just a little bit, we might discover potential underwriting road blocks early in the process.  Then we can either determine a way to work through the road blocks or stop the process early, before the buyer and the Realtor waste a lot of time and the buyer’s money (for home inspections, appraisals, etc.) on starting the home purchase process when they cannot win underwriting approval.  His Realtor was very appreciative that I helped him avoid wasting a lot of time searching for houses that this retiree could not afford.

If you know a retiree who is thinking about buying a home in Georgia, tell them to carefully consider how their assets are allocated and how they receive their income.  Not all assets and income are treated equally.  Have them call or email me at Dunwoody Mortgage Service.  We will discuss their options and we can even help them coordinate with their financial planner if necessary.  I can help them structure the deal right the first time – without wasting their time on homes that they cannot buy using their current asset accounts.

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When You Can’t Use Assets as “Income”

May 9, 2016

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I’ve been talking this week with Don (not his real name), a retiree from the Northeast who wants to move to Atlanta to be closer to family.  Don has over $500,000 in an investment account and takes out $4,000 every month for living expenses.

And I cannot count these previous monthly distributions as “income” for mortgage purposes.  Don holds his money in a standard brokerage account.  Lending guidelines will not allow use of historical withdrawals from that type of account as a basis for “income.”

Piggy Bank #2

If Don held these funds in a retirement account – an IRA or 401K account – then we might be able to use his historical distributions as a basis for income.  (More about that in a future post.)

Don has found a house that he really likes, but his allowable income will not support the mortgage payments.  I may have to recommend that he buy the house with cash.

If you know a retiree who is thinking about buying a home in Georgia, tell them to carefully consider how their assets are allocated and how they receive their income.  Not all assets and income are treated equally.  Have them call or email me at Dunwoody Mortgage Service.  We will discuss their options and we can even help them coordinate with their financial planner.  I can help them structure the deal right the first time – without wasting their time on homes that they cannot buy with using current asset accounts.

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