Archive for the ‘Loan Programs’ Category

Differences between conventional loans

June 6, 2019

blog-author-clayjeffreys3

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer conventional loans. Their guidelines are almost completely identical, yet there are some unique differences that can come in handy under the right circumstances.

Here are some differences between Fannie and Freddie:

Freddie Mac:

  • Often only requires one bank statement (Fannie requires the two most recent bank statements).
  • When doing a refinance, the borrower can take the greater of 1% of the loan amount or $2,000. If the loan is $400,000, then the borrower could get up to $4,000 back and not be a cash out refinance (Fannie Mae has a $2,000 limit).
  • Employed by a family member? Only one year of tax returns are required (Fannie Mae requires 2 years).
  • Student loans in deferment have a payment calculated by taking 0.5% of the total balance (Fannie Mae is 1% of the balance).
  • Self employed buyers only need one year of tax returns if the business is over 5 years old. If less than 5 years, then two years are required (requirements for Fannie Mae are not as straight forward as Freddie Mac*).

Fannie Mae:

  • Higher likelihood of getting a Property Inspection Waiver using a Fannie Mae conventional loan.
  • If a buyer has a second job that loses money as shown on a filed tax return, the loss can be ignored with Fannie Mae so long as the job is not in the same line of work as their primary job (Freddie Mac counts all income losses from tax returns).
  • Student Loan Cash Out – a homeowner can do a cash out refinance to pay off student loans without taking the interest rate increase from doing a cash out refinance.
  • DACA recipients eligible to purchase a home with a Fannie Mae conventional loan (Freddie Mac does not allow DACA buyers).
  • Normally requires fewer months of reserves than Freddie Mac.

spot-the-difference-worksheets-pandaNext time you apply for a home loan and look to do a conventional loan, you may not think it matters if it is a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae loan. As you just read, choosing Fannie or Freddie under the right situation can make all the difference in the world. That’s why you want to work with a Loan Officer who is aware of these small differences.

Looking to get prequalified for a home purchase in the state of Georgia? If yes, contact me today.  I’ll ask very specific questions about your situation and make sure the correct conventional loan product is chosen.

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*With Fannie Mae, self employed buyers may only need 1 year of tax returns regardless of how long the business has been open. The default is two years of tax returns, but could be one year under the right circumstance (low debt to income ratio, high down payment, excellent credit, etc.). 

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Potential new rules for condos with FHA loans

March 12, 2019

While potential condo buyers aren’t on pins and needles waiting to hear from HUD like we would be for who wins an election, still, buyers would love to know the direction HUD will go with FHA loans and condos. Current loan guidelines for buying condos with FHA loans are tough. The condominium project must be pre-approved by HUD to use an FHA loan. Then during the loan process, the condo project is re-certified; meaning, the criteria needed to get pre-approved is double checked to make sure the condo is still within the guidelines for its pre-approval.

Basically, buying a condo with an FHA loan is a lot of work. The condo homeowner association (HOA) must go through the hoops to get the complex approved for an FHA loan. Most HOAs don’t want to deal with the burden. Then repeat the process for the loan itself – twice the work for the same payout. Hopefully this will change soon.

A proposal was made a few years ago to HUD that would open up the number of condo complexes eligible to use FHA loans. The loosening of guidelines would also reinstitute spot approvals (similar to what conventional loans do for condos). This makes buying condos WAY easier with FHA loans.

This change will benefit home buyers with average to below average credit making a smaller down payment. Currently, almost all condos are purchased using conventional loans. While someone can qualify for a conventional loan with a credit score of 620+, the mortgage rate and monthly private mortgage insurance rates (for loans with PMI) are significantly higher than an FHA loan. The difference is big – easily over a half a point higher in rate and almost double the monthly PMI (depending on the down payment being made). Home buyers with average to below average credit could be in a position soon to save a couple thousand dollars annually.

Seriously HUD…. What’s the latest?

Looking to buy a condo in Georgia? One program we could use instead of an FHA loan is the Fannie Mae HomeReady loan. This has some advantages over a normal conventional loan that helps those making a minimum down payment on a home purchase. Contact me today, and we’ll see if you qualify for HomeReady whether buying a condo or not.

Recasting a mortgage

February 25, 2019

My recent post discussed ways in which a buyer can make a non-contingent offer on a home in this competitive seller’s market. I mentioned recasting as an option to consider if a buyer could only make a minimum down payment on the new home if they don’t sell their current home. Having the mortgage recast later is a good way to get around not making a large down payment when going through the buying/selling process in reverse order (buying the new home and then selling the current home instead of selling then buying). What does recast mean?

A recast is a feature most loan servicers allow where remaining payments are recalculated based on the new principal balance. This is often done after a significant principal reduction takes place on the loan. A recast is a cheaper alternative than simply refinancing. If today’s mortgage rates are higher than the rate on the home owners current mortgage, then a recast would be a very good option should one make a large principal reduction and want to lower the monthly payment.

Here is an example of recasting. My client wants to purchase a new home without selling her current home. This way she makes a non-contingent offer to buy her new home. Ideally, my client would love to make a 20% down payment, but the money for the down payment is tied up as equity in her current home. All she could afford to do right now is 5% down. The purchase price is $400,000 with 5% down, so the loan amount is $380,000. This makes a monthly mortgage payment of $1,870 (not including taxes/insurance/PMI). My client buys the new home, then sells the current home. She now has an extra $100,000 to pay down the mortgage balance on her new home.

The new loan amount is $280,000, which is great! But… since this is a fixed rate loan, the monthly payment is still $1,870. Now she contacts her loan servicer and requests a recast of mortgage. The rate is the same, but the principal balance is much lower. When the loan is recast, now the payment drops to $1,377. This is how my client can purchase her new home without selling her current home first AND eventually get the payment to reflect the new loan amount.

Looking to buy a home in the state of Georgia, want to make a non-contingent offer, and recast later, contact me today. In just a few minutes, I can have you well on your way to make an offer on a home.

Also, a note to existing home owners who want to recast their loan. Be sure to contact your loan servicer before making the large principal reduction. You want to make sure the loan servicer will allow a recast. You also want to know the steps they want you to take to complete it. Perhaps they want you to complete a form and start the recast request prior to making the large principal reduction. Every loan servicer is different, so be sure to contact them to know exactly how they want you to go about it.

New FHA max loan limit

January 8, 2019

Just as conforming loan limits rose again this year, the maximum loan amount for FHA loans got a bit higher too.

Remember the maximum loan amount for FHA loans vary from county to county; meaning, the max loan amount is determined by the county in which the property resides.

  • The new FHA loan limit for 2019 is $379,500 for the metro Atlanta area.
  • The non-metro max loan amount also increased to $314,827.
  • Georgia also has some counties with max amounts between those ranges (for example, Clarke county is $341,550).

For those who want to see their specific county, use this lookup tool provided by HUD. Just choose your state and county then press “send” to get the exact amount.

The new limit for metro Atlanta counties means a buyer could purchase a $393,000 home and make just a 3.5% down payment. Buyers can look to purchase a home for more than $393,000, but they will need to make a larger down payment. For example, a person could buy a $400,000 home using an FHA loan. Since the max loan is capped at $379,500, the down payment will need to be about 5% instead of the minimum 3.5%.

I know what you may be thinking… why put 5% down and use an FHA loan? Wouldn’t a conventional loan be better? True. Maybe. Remember for those with credit scores under 680 who make a 5% down payment, the private mortgage insurance for a conventional loan is higher than the monthly mortgage insurance for an FHA. Also, the mortgage rate is higher for the conventional loan versus the FHA loan.

This is why it is imperative to speak with a licensed mortgage lender about the differences in loan programs instead of assuming an FHA loan is only for first time home buyers OR never consider an FHA loan if you can make a 5% down payment. The specific details of each client’s situation could make one program more attractive than the other even if it goes against what most people would consider normal.

Looking to purchase a home in the state of Georgia? Unsure of the loan program that is right for you? Contact me today. I can get you prequalified for a home loan in a few minutes, and we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each loan program to ensure the best fit for your situation.

VA Mortgage Volume Grows (Again)

December 28, 2018

For the seventh straight year, the number of homes purchased using VA mortgages has increased.  VA home purchase loan volume has increased dramatically in the last five years – up 59%.  610,000 VA home loans have been closed in the current fiscal year, generating $161 billion in loan volume.  According to Chris Birk, director of education at Veterans United, “More Veterans have used this $0 down loan in the last five years than in the prior dozen years combined.”  VA loans now comprise about 10% of the residential mortgage market.

Many experts consider the VA loan to be the “most powerful home loan on the market.”  One key reason – low interest rates.  Industry researchers report that VA loans have consistently had the lowest interest rates for 53 straight months.  A second key reason – veterans can obtain a loan with a zero down payment.  That enables many veterans to buy now instead of waiting several years while saving money for another loan program’s minimum down payment.  A third reason – VA loans require no monthly mortgage insurance payment.  Combining these three factors can make a home purchase much more affordable for American military veterans.

 

 

Given the many VA loan benefits, any veteran considering a home purchase should investigate the VA loan option.  The first question a veteran should ask is, “Do I qualify for a VA loan.”  A prior Mortgage Blog post from 2016 addresses this question in detail.  See the post, VA Loans:  How to Qualify, by Clay Jeffreys.  The key update to this post is that the 2019 VA loan limit will be $484,350, as opposed to the $417,000 amount valid in 2016.  A quick summary is that VA loans are available to the following people:

  • People who were on active duty for 90+ days during wartime.
  • People who were on active duty for 181+ days during peacetime.
  • People who served 6+ years in the National Guard or Reserves.
  • Spouse of a service person who died in combat OR resulting from a service related disability.
  • Some people who have served as public health officers or in the Coast Guard.

To qualify, veterans must submit service related documents to the VA, which then provides a Certificate of Eligibility (“COE”) to the mortgage lender.  For example, active duty personnel submit the military form DD-214 to obtain the COE.  The VA requires different documents for National Guard and Reserves personnel.

Instead of standard monthly mortgage insurance, the VA charges a funding fee, based on the home buyer’s service record and down payment percentage.  The lender simply adds the funding fee to the loan balance.  See the post, VA Loans:  Funding Fee, by Clay Jeffreys for a more detailed funding fee explanation.

Do you know a veteran considering a Georgia home purchase?  We at Dunwoody Mortgage love helping veterans buy homes.  We deliver these great VA loan benefits with the excellence service all Dunwoody Mortgage customers receive.  Tell veterans you know to call me.  We will treat them with the honor, respect, and excellence they deserve.


Self-Employed Home Buyers – Helpful Loan Options

November 21, 2018


When obtaining a mortgage, self-employed home buyers face more detailed underwriting scrutiny regarding their income.  Conventional loans require analysis of the borrower’s net income as shown on their tax returns.  This can cause two challenges to self-employed buyers.

Firstly, underwriters compare year to year tax returns.  An income decline can cause loan denial.  As an example, one of my clients flips houses.  He wanted to buy a house in early 2016.  His 2014 tax return showed strong income.  He planned to sell two flipped homes in December 2015, but they were delayed about 3 weeks – until January 2016.  The income from those home sales did not appear on his 2015 income tax return.  Therefore, his income declined from 2014 to 2015, and he could not win conventional loan approval at that time.  He had to wait 12 months.  Then we won loan approval using a strong 2016 tax return.

Secondly, underwriters use the net income after business expenses to qualify a self-employed buyer.  Smart business owners expense as much as possible to lower their tax payments.  But the greater their expenses, the lower their net income, making it harder to qualify for a higher priced home loan.  Conventional loan underwriting guidelines work directly opposite to smart business tax strategy.  That can make it hard to qualify for the desired home.     

We can solve these problems by using a non-traditional mortgage that defines income using bank statements.  The underwriters determine income based on the statement deposit history.  The underwriters can specify income using 12 months of personal bank statements or 24 months of business bank statements.  Only 100% company owners can use business bank statements.  Qualifying for this loan requires that the borrower has been self-employed for at least 2 years.

So what’s the catch?  First of all, these loans typically require a 10% down payment – no 3% or 5% down loans.  Also, these non-traditional loans carry higher interest rates than traditional loans.  The borrower must decide if the higher interest payment is worth buying the house now.  For someone with significant tax write-offs, it may make sense to continue saving tens of thousands in tax payments in exchange for spending a little extra per year on mortgage interest. 

Do you know a self-employed friend or family member who wants to buy a home?  If you do, please connect them with me.  I will evaluate their ability to qualify for a traditional mortgage, and we will go that route if possible.  If tax savings or declining income becomes an obstacle, I can work to put them into a home sooner rather than later using a non-traditional loan.  With home prices and traditional mortgage rates rising, it may make financial sense to go ahead and buy now.

 

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.

My (FHA Loan) Christmas Wish List

December 19, 2017

FHA loans are great for certain borrowers.  I look to FHA loans when my clients have credit scores of say 680 or less, little available cash for a down payment, and want a 30 year mortgage.  FHA loans also can help a home buyer who has a higher level of other outstanding debt, as FHA guidelines allow slightly higher debt to income ratios.

FHA loans typically offer lower interest rates than conventional loans, but they do have some limitations.  But now there is some movement in Washington to change some of these limitations.  Let’s pretend that the federal government is Santa Claus.  Here’s my FHA mortgage wish list:

  • Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif has introduced the Making FHA More Affordable Act.  This bill would repeal the “life of the loan requirement” for FHA mortgage insurance.  Right now, if a borrower closes an FHA loan with a less than 10% down payment, the mortgage insurance is permanent – it never goes away.  In contrast, the mortgage insurance is cancelled automatically on a conventional (non-FHA) mortgage when the outstanding principal balance reaches 78% of the home’s original value.  In my opinion, this would be a good change for consumers who need FHA financing.  I don’t think they should have to pay the mortgage insurance after they have 22% equity in their home.
  • Under Ben Carson, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a report signaling an easing in FHA requirements for condominiums.  Currently, to close a FHA loan on a condo, the condo complex must be on the FHA approved list.  Condos apply for FHA approval based on a number of FHA-specified criteria.  If the complex is not on the FHA approved list, a buyer cannot obtain a FHA loan and must obtain conventional financing.  The National Association of Realtors reported that of the 614,000 condo sales in 2016, only 4% were closed with FHA financing. 
  • In addition to loosening FHA condo complex approval guidelines, the administration is also indicating that it wants to revive FHA’s “spot loan” program.  This program allows homebuyers to purchase a  condo in a complex that has not been approved for FHA financing.  Some estimates have claimed that without the spot loan program, 90% of condo projects cannot have buyers with FHA mortgages. 

We mortgage lenders must work within the rules defined by the regulators – we don’t make the decisions.  But I think the above changes would be very positive, as they would make home and condo ownership less expensive and more realistic for buyers who need the FHA loan program. 

If you know a potential home buyer in Georgia who wants to know if they are on Santa’s, sorry, FHA’s, “good list,” have them contact me at Dunwoody Mortgage.  We will work within FHA guidelines (and explore other potential loan options) to make sure they get the best deal on their mortgage, and hopefully enjoy some FHA guideline “gifts” from Washington soon.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Georgia’s TV and Film Industry is Booming. Forget Hollywood! Put Down Roots Right Here.

October 26, 2017

On your commute today, you probably passed a yellow TV or movie production sign – they are that common around Atlanta these days.

Look at the numbers:

  • FilmLA says Georgia is the #1 filming location in the world.
  • 320 film & TV productions will be shot here in 2017, generating $9.5 billion in direct spending.
  • The Motion Picture Association of America reports that more than 28,600 Georgians are directly employed by the film industry, while an additional 12,500 people work in production-related jobs.

The movie business may be kind to Georgia, but the mortgage industry traditionally hasn’t been kind to movie makers.

Film and TV studio workers may earn great livings, but they often have irregular employment schedules. Their employer of record can change with each project, and that’s a big red flag for mortgage underwriting. When it comes time to get financing for a home, regularly employed studio employees may be denied because they can’t demonstrate the stable income underwriters demand.

Until now.

I have access to a new loan program that can ease the way to home ownership for film & TV union members. The qualification requirements are simple.

Union members:

  • Who receive W-2s as salary employees
  • Who have two full years of filed tax returns in the film & TV industry

Underwriting will view the union as the employer, rather than the studio, and the union will be able to verify length of employment. The qualifying income will be based on the monthly average income. The borrower will still produce pay stubs to document current year earnings.

If you know someone in the film & TV industry who complains about renting or apartment life, please forward this email.  They may finally be able to put down roots in the new movie mecca.

 

Helping Relatives Buy a Home – Cash Gifts

September 19, 2017

Our recent posts have debunked home buying myths and reviewed tools that can help young adults (or any other home buyers) buy a home.  To recap, buyers can often win mortgage approval with down payments of 5%, 3.5%, and even 3%, if the buyer qualifies.  If the buyer is short on cash to close, there are multiple ways to help cover the cash shortfall.  In this post, let’s review how a home buyer can receive a cash gift from a relative.

First and foremost, the gift must come from a current relative such as a spouse, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.  I have encountered a situation where an ex-spouse was willing to give money for closing, but that is not allowed.  The ex-spouse is no longer considered a “relative” so that will not work.

Secondly, the cash provided must be a gift given to the home buyer.  This cannot be a loan.  Both the giver and recipient must sign documents declaring that the cash is truly a gift and no repayment is expected.  We call this the “gift letter” and it specifies details about the giver, the recipient, the relationship, the gift amount, the gift date, and the source of the gift funds.

Thirdly, we must document a “paper trail” to win underwriting approval.  The documents required depend on HOW the gift is delivered to the recipient.  In all gift situations, the giver must submit their most recent bank statement showing that they have the funds to make the gift and that the account truly belongs to them.  In addition, other documents can be required depending on the gift delivery, as shown below:

  • The giver can wire the funds directly to the closing attorney.  In this case, only the gift letter and the bank statement described above are needed.
  • The giver can electronically transfer the funds to the recipient’s bank account.  In this case, the giver must show a bank account activity listing showing the funds transfer and the recipient must show a bank account activity listing showing the deposit, in addition to the gift letter and bank statement.
  • The giver can write a check to the recipient.  In this case, the borrower must submit a copy of the gift check in addition to all other gift documents described above.

The key here is advance planning to make sure all documents are ready and submitted in a timely manner so the loan can close on time.

Do you know a parent of an adult child who wants to help that child buy their first home?  Refer them to me at Dunwoody Mortgage. We will make sure document the gift right the first time, so everyone can be happy with an on-time closing.