Archive for the ‘Loan Programs’ Category

Good News for (Some) Home Buyers!

July 16, 2020

As a loan officer, I really like the Home Possible and Home Ready conventional loan programs.  For eligible borrowers, these programs offer discounted interest rate pricing and discounted mortgage insurance premiums.  To qualify, home buyers must make a down payment between 3% and 20% and complete an online homeownership class.  Borrowers must also earn an income of 80% or less than the area median income for the census tract where they will buy a home.

I think these programs are such good deals that I have recommended (1) borrowers who planned to make a 20%+ down payment actually make less than a 20% down payment to qualify for the lower rate and (2) spouses or domestic partners put only one person on the loan application to keep income lower to qualify for the discounts (that’s perfectly legal and within guidelines, by the way!!)  The discounts are especially powerful for people wanting to buy condominiums, as these programs allow the buyer to avoid the expensive “condominium price adjustment” in the interest rate calculation.  The Mortgage Blog has covered these programs in the past.

So, what’s the good news?  On July 12, Freddie Mac updated its Home Possible Eligibility Tool to reflect the new 2020 area median income limits issued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FIFA).  Approximately 87% of counties will experience AMI increases in 2020.  That means that more home buyers can now qualify for these great loan programs.

I checked the tool for some addresses in the Atlanta Metro Area.  Before July 12, the Home Possible annual income limit in these areas was $63,360.  Now the annual income limit is higher at $65,760.  I also checked Fannie Mae’s Home Ready website and found the same adjustment.  While the income increases are not huge, every little bit helps, right?  Home buyers earning $64,000 to $65,000 now can take advantage of these great programs, whereas they could not before July 12.

I recently talked with a first-time home buyer.  She said another lender suggested she get an FHA mortgage.  I recommended that with her 740 credit score and qualifying income, the Home Ready / Home Possible programs would be much better for her.  She could get a similar interest rate with a 3% down payment, and she could avoid the FHA up-front mortgage insurance, which would cost her over $4,500.  She agreed with me.

Do you know someone who wants to buy their first home in Georgia?  They need to find a mortgage lender who will explore all loan options to find the loan that best fits their own unique situation.  Tell your friend or coworker to call me.  I’ll make sure we structure the loan and their application to take advantage of the best loan program available.

An isolated event or a trend?

April 14, 2020

More Covid related news… this week a large nation wide bank stated they were changing conventional loan requirements for buyers. Instead of using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, now buyers will need at least 20% down and a 700 (or higher) credit score.

Is this a growing trend in the mortgage industry? Is this bank acting alone?

The real question is “what are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac saying?” Fannie and Freddie have made no changes to their guidelines in terms of existing credit scores or minimum down payments.

  • 3% is still the minimum required down payment for conventional loans
  • 620 is the minimum required credit score

While there have been changes to credit score requirements on government loans, increasing the down payment and credit score on conventional loans is not in play. Until Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac change their guidelines, this is an isolated event and not a trend.

Wanting to purchase a home in the spring market? Needing to buy a home with below average credit or a small down payment? Those loans still exist! If you are looking to buy in the state of Georgia, contact me today. I can get you prequalified in a few minutes, and we can have a talk about the landscape of the mortgage industry in the time of Covid.

Changes to minimum down payment loans

January 10, 2020

It’s a new year! With a new year, always expect changes in the mortgage industry. This blog discussed some changes last month:

Why stop there?!? We will keep it going for a conventional loan programs with small down payments. I’ll touch base on the new guideline compared to the previous requirements.

NEW: When making less than a 5% down payment on a conventional loan, if all borrower’s on the loan are first time home buyers, one of the borrowers must complete a homeownership education course.

Previously there was no education requirement for those putting less than 5% down to purchase a home. Note if one of the buyers has previously owned a home, then there is no education requirement regardless of the down payment amount.

For those keeping score at home, a “first time home buyer” is defined as anyone who has never owned a home OR has not owned a home in the past three years. If the last home you owned was more than three years ago, then you are now a first time home buyer.

NEW: Home Ready loans no longer require the homeownership education course if one of the occupying buyers has previously owned a home (again, means has owned a home in the past 3 years).

Prior to the change, one borrower had to complete the education course even if they had previously owned a home.

NEW: The homeowner education course is free if the borrower’s use this link – https://educate.frameworkhomeownership.org . Note if using another accepted education course, there may be a non-refundable fee of $75.

Prior to this change, the cost of the course was $75 to everyone regardless of where the course was completed.

New years… new changes… a lot to keep up with… your head spinning? Don’t worry! It is my job to keep up with the changes.

The Spring Market is upon us. If you are ready to get out and purchase a home in 2020, contact me  today. If the property is in Georgia, I can get you ready to make an offer in just a few minutes. You can be well on your way to owning a new home faster than you’d ever expect!

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.

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. 

Millennial Home Ownership Survey

September 19, 2019

There are some interesting facts and observations in an August article documenting survey results from Millennial home buyers.  Here’s a link to the full study from lendedu.com.  1,000 people aged 23 to 38 participated in the survey.  Here are some survey results:

  • 58% of respondents say they own their own home.
  • 83% of these home owners obtained a mortgage to buy their home.
  • 75% of these mortgage holders obtained a FHA loan.
  • 16% is the average down payment percentage for the survey respondents.

To me, it is very surprising to me that such a high percentage of these home buyers used the FHA program, especially given the relatively high down payment percentage reported.  What I also find surprising is how the author treats FHA loans vis a vis the private mortgage insurance component of conventional mortgages.

Let’s look at the basics of FHA mortgage insurance (“MI”) vs. conventional (private) mortgage insurance (“PMI”).  FHA charges a 1.75% up-front MI.  On a $300,000 loan, that charge is $5,250.  Assuming a Millennial average 16% down payment, FHA charges a 0.80% monthly MI premium, which equals $200 per month.  And for this loan, the borrower must pay the monthly MI for 11 years.

For PMI on conventional loans, there is no up-front fee.  So our $300,000 mortgage holder is better off by $5,250 to start.  The PMI premium is based on the combination of down payment and the borrower’s credit score.  Let’s assume that a Millennial buyer (we’ll call her “Anna”) has a 680 credit score.  I calculate Anna’s monthly PMI premium at 0.26% or $65 per month.  In addition, the conventional loan PMI will cancel sooner than FHA MI, so Anna will pay conventional loan PMI for less than half the time she would pay FHA loan MI.

Summarizing this example, Anna with a 680 credit score would reap the following mortgage insurance benefits of choosing a conventional loan vs. FHA: (1) Anna saves $5,250 by not having the up-front FHA MI premium rolled into the loan amount; (2) Anna saves $135 per month with the lower PMI rate vs. the FHA MI rate; and (3) Anna stops making mortgage insurance payments way sooner.  And Anna’s PMI payment will be even lower if her credit score is in the 700’s.  From a mortgage insurance perspective, the conventional loan seems like a much better deal.

The author praises the use of FHA mortgages, then later makes the following statements about private mortgage insurance:

  • PMI should be avoided as it will usually cost the homeowner between 0.5% to 1% of the full mortgage amount….”
  • “…it is not great that so many are also paying for PMI as a result of less-than-optimal down payments…”

Such blanket negative statements about PMI concern me.  In our example, and many examples where the borrower has a strong credit score and can make a 10% or more down payment, the numbers often favor conventional loans.  FHA loans are often better when the borrower’s credit score is low or the borrower can only make a down payment of 10% or less.

The key lesson here is to consult a professional mortgage lender (I suggest that this guy for Georgia home buyers) to run the numbers for both FHA and conventional loans.  Then choose the best option given your circumstances.

Which Type of Mortgage To Use – Scenario 2

August 23, 2019

Now let’s change our buyer scenario. Both Jack and Diane want to make offers on a home, but this time they have 10% to put down. (Curious about a smaller down payment?  Take a look at the prior scenario with a 3.5% down payment.)  They still have the same qualifying credit scores of 680 for Jack and 795 for Diane.

With Jack’s 680 credit score, his monthly payment for a conventional loan (principal, interest, and mortgage insurance “MI”) would be $1,514.30. For a FHA loan, his payment would be $1,452.29. Given Jack’s credit score – even with the 10% down payment – FHA still delivers a better price, even though FHA loans have the draw backs of the up-front MI and the permanent monthly MI (assuming Congress does not change the law).

In this scenario with Jack’s 10% down payment, the mortgage insurance falls off after 11 years (even if Congress doesn’t act). Meaning, the FHA loan becomes even more attractive now and into the future.

With Diane’s 795 credit score, her monthly payment for a conventional loan would only be $1,391.24. Her FHA loan payment would be $1,452.29. (Note that it is the same as Jack’s payment, even though Diane’s credit score is over 100 points better.) In this case, Diane can now save money by using the conventional loan. The conventional loan has the best pricing from the beginning, and it provides the PMI cancellation benefits mentioned in the previous post.

With this example, one can definitely see how FHA loans do not have the same impact when it comes to the interest rate, mortgage insurance, and monthly payment versus conventional loans. Even with such a large gap between the credit scores (680 versus 795), the payment on the FHA loan is the same.

Ultimately, every client situation is unique. For some borrower circumstances (e.g., self-employed, buying a condo, high debt to income ratio, etc.), we may recommend one loan option because the buyer has a better chance to win approval, even if the payment winds up being slightly higher.

Do you know someone planning to buy a home in Georgia?  If they have questions, connect them with me.  I love helping people understand their mortgage options and helping them determine the best approach to financing a home purchase.

Which Type of Mortgage To Use – Scenario 1

August 13, 2019

Now that everyone understands the basics of FHA and conventional loans, let’s do a buyer comparison. Both Jack and Diane want to purchase a $300,000 home. They both have $11,000 (3.7%) for the down payment and qualifying credit scores of 680 for Jack and 795 for Diane.

With Jack’s 680 credit score, his monthly payment for a conventional loan (principal, interest, and mortgage insurance “MI”) would be $1,820.82.  For a FHA loan, his payment would be $1,563.19. There’s no comparison. For Jack, the better deal is the FHA mortgage, even though it has the draw backs of the up-front mortgage insurance and the permanent monthly mortgage insurance payment.

With Diane’s 795 credit score, her monthly payment for a conventional loan would only be $1,582.61. Her FHA loan payment would be $1,542.47.  In this case, Diane is also better off, at least initially, with the FHA loan. One thing to keep in mind is the MI premium. If Diane chooses the FHA loan, that premium is permanent (assuming Congress does not change the law). If she chooses the conventional loan, the insurance will eventually be cancelled, dropping her payment to $1,442. The key question for Diane is, “How long will you stay in the home?” If less than 5 years, Diane’s best bet is the FHA loan. If longer than 5 years, Diane may want to consider the conventional loan.

Notice the FHA payments for these examples. They differ by only about $21 even though the credit scores are drastically different (680 versus 795). This shows why FHA is better for those making a purchase with lower credit scores. The buyer doesn’t see as steep of an increase in their payment.

In the next blog post, we will make the same comparison with a 10% down payment.

Does your friend Scott talk about buying a house?  Does he understand which loan program is best for him?  If not, have Scott contact me. We Dunwoody Mortgage professionals understand the details of these mortgage programs, and we coach our buyers to make the best decision given their circumstances.  Often, with a slight change to their home purchase situation (change of down payment, paying down a credit card balance, etc.), we can help our clients save money with a better interest rate or a lower mortgage insurance cost.  Home buyers should consider all options before buying, and Dunwoody Mortgage offers the service and knowledge to help home buyers make the best decision possible.

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.

Types of Mortgages – Conventional

July 30, 2019

Now let’s take a look at conventional mortgage details.  (Click here to review FHA loan details.  And here is a link to the Home Ready program changes.)

In general, conventional loans are less forgiving of credit issues than are FHA loans.  Conventional loans require longer wait times after derogatory credit events like foreclosure or bankruptcy.  And the borrower’s credit score has a much greater impact on conventional loan pricing versus FHA loans.  The lower one’s credit score, the higher the interest rate.  In some cases, a credit score 100 points lower could cause the borrower’s interest rate to increase by almost one percentage point.

Ultimately, this makes conventional mortgages less attractive to borrowers with lower credit scores and more attractive to those with higher credit scores.

Conventional loans do not require up-front mortgage insurance, but private mortgage insurance (“PMI”) is required for down payments less than 20%.  PMI rates vary based on the borrower’s credit score and down payment.  For the same loan amount, the monthly PMI will be dramatically different for a 690 credit score borrower making a 5% down payment vs. a 780 credit score borrower making a 15% down payment.  PMI is not permanent.  It automatically terminates when the borrower’s loan balance reaches 78% of the original contract price or appraised value (whichever is lower).  And, in certain circumstances, the borrower can request PMI cancellation prior to reaching the 78% threshold.

Borrowers can obtain a conventional loan with a minimum 3% down payment.  This often only makes sense when the borrower’s credit score is 720 or higher.  With a lower score, the PMI cost for a 3% down loan can get pretty expensive.  We often recommend that conventional buyers make a 5% or more down payment to keep PMI costs lower.

Another advantage of conventional loans is the maximum loan amount.  While FHA caps out at a purchase price of around $390,000 using the minimum down payment, conventional loans can go higher.  How much higher?  How about a $500,000 purchase price with a 3% down payment.  That is about 25% higher than the FHA maximum.

In the next posts, we will compare some hypothetical home buyer scenarios to determine which loan is best – conventional or FHA.  Do you know someone who wants to buy a Georgia home?  Please refer them to me.   We Dunwoody Mortgage professionals ask important questions to determine if we can help our clients make slight changes (down payment amount, paying down a credit card balance, etc.) that help them save money with a better interest rate and / or lower PMI premium.  We work hard to deliver excellent service and pricing to our customers, and our consistently positive reviews show our clients are pleased with our work.