Federal Reserve’s impact on rates

March 21, 2017 by

I feel like I spend a lot of time devoted to the topic of the Federal Funds Rate. The main reason is the misconception out there when it comes to the Federal Funds Rates. Last Wednesday, the Feds raised the Federal Funds Rate again. Every time this happens, I get calls and emails with people worrying about mortgage rates going up. That isn’t necessarily the case.

Mortgage rates are not determined by the Federal Funds Rate… car loans, credit card rates, second mortgages… those are impacted by the Federal Funds Rate.

Mortgage rates are determined by the value of Mortgage Backed Security Bonds (MBS bonds). As these bond values go up, mortgage rates go down. When these bond values fall, mortgage rates go up. Typically, when the Federal Funds Rate increases, it should help mortgage rates improve. Why?

MBS bonds hate inflation… I mean they can’t stand inflation. As inflation rises, MBS bond values plummet and make interest rates worse. As the Feds increase the Federal Funds Rate, it helps fight inflation. This, in turn, helps MBS bond values to rise, and mortgage rates to improve:

  • the Federal Funds Rate increased in December 2015. Over the next few months, mortgage rates improved by 0.500%. Rates stayed around these levels for all of 2016. Rates got worse at the end of 2016 after the election fueled a major stock market rally. That triggered another typical trend with rates… when stock values go up, bonds go down, and mortgage rates go up.
  • The Funds Rate was increased again in December 2016, and mortgage rates improved by 0.125% in the 6 weeks between Fed meetings.
  • We are about a week past the most recent rate increase by the Fed (third time since December 2015). So far, mortgage rates have improved by another 0.125%

What does this mean? When you hear a story about mortgage rates rising because of the Federal Funds Rate going up, don’t panic. The Funds Rate may go up, but mortgage rates could improve.

If you are looking to buy a home in Georgia, contact me today to get started. We have two tools to help you in an ever-changing rate market.

  • Float Down: Should rates improve after we’ve locked your rate, we can float it down at no cost to you one time during the loan process. If rates improve by 0.250% or more, we are within 30 days of closing, but 8 days prior to closing, we can float the rate down to current market value. That’s it. Easy! We have a three-week window to take advantage of this.
  • Lock-and-Shop: Worried that rates might go up? Don’t be. We can lock a rate for 60 days without being under contract to purchase a home. The rate is locked, find a home, and we start the loan process. The Float Down option as described above also applies to the Lock-and-Shop. So, you can get the protection of locking the rate, but also the opportunity to lower the rate should mortgage rates improve. The rate will not get worse so long as it is locked.

It is as simple as that!

Down Payments Basics for Home Buyers

February 23, 2017 by

Blog HeaderA recent home ownership survey showed that 3 times more first time home buyers than repeat buyers say they lack enough money for a down payment.  Perhaps this is due to folks not truly understanding down payment requirements.  Many people believe you must make a 20% down payment to buy a home.  That is a myth!! 

Home buyers can purchase a home with as little as 3.5% down for a FHA loan.  Depending on your credit score and available cash, you may be better off going with a 5% down conventional mortgage.  In certain cases, you may be able to qualify (depending on your income and geographic area) for the low interest rate, low cost mortgage insurance “HomeReady” program, for as little as 3% down.  (Certain geographic areas have no income requirements.)

So what if you don’t even have 3% – 5% available for a down payment?  Are there options?  The first question for you is, “Do you have a relative who can give you the down payment?”  If you do have a loving person who will give you the down payment, we can use that with the proper documentation.  Note that the giver must be a blood relative or a spouse.  Generous ex-spouses are not considered family members so they cannot provide a gift.

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If you lack the available cash and you don’t have a giving relative, do you have a 401K or similar retirement account?  Depending on your plan’s rules, you may be able to borrow against your account to help fund your down payment.  Talk with your plan administrator for the details.

If these options are not available to you, you may need to wait and save.  But the time needed to save 3% to 5% is much better than saving for the 20% many people think is required.  Note that you must have 20% to avoid mortgage insurance, but if you can handle the mortgage insurance included in your monthly payment, you can buy a home with much less than 20% down.

Do you need coaching on the best loan / down payment option for you?  That’s what I do!  Call me at Dunwoody Mortgage.  Together we will evaluate your situation, review your options, thus allowing you to make the best decision for you and your family.

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Using government loans after a derogatory credit event

February 21, 2017 by

blog-author-clayjeffreys3

Last week, we focused on using conventional loans to purchase a home after a major derogatory credit event such as a bankruptcy, short sale, foreclosure, etc. This week, we will focus on VA and FHA loans offered by the government.

In every instance, a government loan has a shorter waiting period after one of these events. It is the loan of choice to use if it will fit your needs. Let’s discuss the waiting periods:

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy: requires a 2-year wait
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy: requires a 1-year wait from the beginning of the payout period
  • Multiple bankruptcy filings: VA requires only 2 years, but FHA is a case-by-case basis
  • Foreclosure: VA once again is only 2 years, but FHA is 3 years.
  • VA Specific: in order the qualify for a VA loan (in addition to being a veteran), there must be a 1 year minimum of re-established after the judgement dates and other derogatory events paid/resolved
  • FHA Specific: If HUD has a claim against a borrower for a foreclosed/short sold home (and that home was financed using an FHA loan), a borrower isn’t eligible for a new FHA loan until after 3 years from the date of the claim being paid.

As anyone can read here, government loans have a much shorter waiting period than conventional loans. As low as one year, but mostly just a 2-year wait. An FHA or VA loan would be the preferred method for buying a home after one of these major events. That said, there a couple of situations that make conventional loans the way to go:

  • the borrower is not eligible for a VA loan (so you go FHA unless….)
  • the loan needed to purchase a home will exceed the maximum FHA allowed loan amount
  • there is a claim against the borrower from HUD
  • a borrower is not eligible for an FHA loan due to CAIVRS (a government credit monitoring tool to ensure people who take out government loans pay them back)

The last two on the list are not that common, so buying a home within the FHA maximum loan limits would be the way to go. In addition to a shorter waiting period, the interest rate tends to be better than conventional loans, the borrower only needs a 3.5% down payment, and the monthly mortgage insurance rate is lower. A borrower’s credit score will confirm those items, but in general, those are all reasons why FHA loans are the best way to go after a derogatory credit event.

Completed a bankruptcy two years ago, and ready to buy a home in Georgia? If so, we can get started today in the process. Contact me and we’ll make sure you qualify for a loan, and then send you out looking for your next home.

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Planning Your Home Purchase While Renting

February 16, 2017 by

A recent survey reported that 2.9 times more first time home buyers than repeat buyers expect a home purchase delay due to their current lease terms.  My first reaction to this statement is “No duh!”  I would expect most repeat buyers do not have a lease but own their home.  Lease terms definitely can affect a first time buyers’ purchase timeframe.  A lease is a written legal contract between the landlord and the lessee.  Note that I am not an attorney, but here are some common sense thoughts about leases and home purchases.

Firstly, plan ahead.  If you know your lease terminates in 6 months and you want to buy a house, go ahead and start planning now.  Submit a mortgage application and get prequalified.  Build a relationship with a Realtor.  Set aside more money for a down payment and closing.  Planning ahead may help you win loan approval and buy your dream home.  Waiting until the last minute will likely cause you stress and frustration.

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Secondly, know your lease terms.  What is the penalty for terminating your lease early?  Do you forfeit your security deposit?  Is there a different penalty?  Then evaluate the contractual penalty versus the home you want.  If you find and can buy your dream home, and the lease termination penalty is not too steep, you may want to go ahead and buy now.  The key here is to know the penalty so you can evaluate your opportunities.  Is missing the opportunity to buy the perfect home worth saving the security deposit you paid a few years ago?  Only you can make that choice.

Thirdly, talk with your landlord.  If your lease expires in 30 days and you still haven’t found the perfect house, perhaps you can negotiate a month to month lease or a 90 day lease continuation instead of signing a longer term lease.  Perhaps you could offer a slightly higher monthly rent to compensate the landlord for the shorter term lease, thus “buying more time” to search for and find the right home for you.

In short, planning ahead, knowing your lease details, and making an effort to negotiate with your landlord may give you the flexibility you need to find the perfect first home, without the stress of having a “deadline” hanging over you.  When you are ready to do your home purchase planning, call me.  I will give you as much time as you need to coach and counsel you, making sure you are truly ready to buy your first home.

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Mortgage life after a derogatory credit event

February 14, 2017 by

blog-author-clayjeffreys3

An unforeseen event takes place… a medical event, job loss, divorce, death of a spouse… before you know it, bills are piling up and they never seem to end. Eventually this buildup could result in a bankruptcy, foreclosure, short sale… a major derogatory credit event. Once it is over, will you ever be able to buy a home again?

The answer is yes. During the housing boom, someone could apply for a loan the day after completing a bankruptcy. Let’s just say guidelines are different now, but not insurmountable. Most people assume there is a 7-year wait after something as big as a bankruptcy or foreclosure. That is true if you are looking to qualify for a Jumbo loan (any loan amount over $424,100). On the other hand, if you are looking to buy a home for say $350,000 with the minimum down payment, is it still a 7-year wait?

No, definitely not.

This post will focus on conventional loans. Next time, we’ll discuss government loans.

What are the waiting periods? Using today’s guidelines*:

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy: requires a 4-year wait
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy: requires a 2-year wait from the discharge date, but 4 years from the dismissal date if the Chapter 13 bankruptcy application isn’t accepted by the courts
  • Multiple bankruptcy filings: 5-year wait
  • Foreclosure: 7 years unless the home was included in a bankruptcy filing. In that case, it drops from 7 to 4 years
  • Other: There is a 4-year wait for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, short sale, or the sale of a home during the foreclosure process

*Those are Fannie Mae guidelines. Technically, Freddie Mac does not have minimum waiting period. Underwriting goes by the Automated Underwriting Services findings from Freddie Mac. That said, the “findings” often mirror the guidelines of Fannie Mae. 

In only one of these instances is there a 7-year waiting period. That would be if there was a foreclosure on a home that was not included in a bankruptcy. In every other situation, one could be ready to purchase a home much sooner than 7 years. Government loans are much more forgiving, but conventional loans are to be used in situations where a borrower doesn’t qualify for a VA or FHA loan (more on that next week). Also, the maximum loan amounts on FHA loans are lower than conventional loans, so the purchase price could also play into determining which loan program to use.

Have you filed a bankruptcy, but want to own a home again? You don’t have to wait seven years. If you have re-established credit to a qualifying score, buying a home can come sooner than you think. Unsure of your situation? Purchasing a home in Georgia? If yes to both, contact me today. We can start the prequalification process and see how quickly we can get you into a new home.

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Credit Score Basics for Home Buyers

February 9, 2017 by

A recent survey reported that 2.7 times more first time home buyers than repeat buyers believe they must improve their credit scores before buying a house.  First let’s dispel credit score myths.  A home buyer can possibly win mortgage approval with a credit score as low as 620.  If your score is 620 or higher, you can possibly win loan approval.

If your score is less than 620, you need to work to improve it before you can qualify.  If your score is 620 or higher, you may want to take steps to increase your score as better scores tend to lower mortgage costs.  Note that I am not a credit score repair specialist, but here are some basic, fundamental tips to improve your credit score:

Pay down your credit card balances:  You get the best score on each credit card account when your balance is less than 1/3 of that account’s credit limit.  Your score drops when your balance is more than 1/3 of the limit.  And your score drops even further if your score is more than ½ of the credit limit. 

Pay your bills on time:  Late payments lower your score.  The later the payment, the more your score is penalized.

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Time heals all wounds:  The more time that has elapsed since your last late payment, the less those late payments will affect your current score.  Some credit issues have mandatory waiting periods.  For example, if your credit report shows a bankruptcy, 2 years must elapse before you can obtain a FHA mortgage, and 3 years must elapse before you can qualify for a conventional mortgage. 

Resolve account disputes now:  Mortgage underwriters hate account disputes.  If you have disputes on credit accounts, go ahead and resolve them prior to applying for a mortgage.

Be aware of collections accounts:  Note that I didn’t say to pay them off.  Sometimes, paying off a collection account will actually lower your credit score.  If you want to buy a home in the next 12 months or so, it may be best to just know about the collections accounts – you may have to deal with them as part of your mortgage process.  In some cases, we require the borrower to bring enough cash to close and to pay off collections account balances as part of the mortgage closing process.

If you want to buy a house in Georgia, get a good idea of your credit score and your monthly debt payments.  Then call me to discuss your loan options.  I’ll invest time coaching you on the best ways to help you win loan approval. 

More mortgage questions?  Check out our home buyer educational videos.

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Educating First Time Home Buyers

February 2, 2017 by

A recently published survey of 2016 home buyers shows that first time buyers (“FTBs) comprised a larger percentage (35%) of all home buyers than in 2015 (32%).  FTBs face greater challenges than buyers who have previously purchased homes.  In addition to the uncertainty and stress in making such a major financial decision for the first time, FTBs face additional financial challenges, some real and some more perceived.  For example:

  • 2.7 times more FTBs than repeat buyers believe they must improve their credit scores before buying a home.   
  • 2.9 times more FTBs than repeat buyers expect a home purchase delay due to their current lease terms.   
  • 3 times more FTBs than repeat buyers say they lack enough money for a down payment.

In short, first time buyers need significant education, advice and support.  In future blog posts, we will address each of the above challenges in more detail.  For now, let’s take a quick look at some ways Dunwoody Mortgage Services (“DMS”) helps to educate home buyers.

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The DMS staff has created a series of home buyer education videos published on our website:  http://dunwoodymortgage.net/custompage-view.aspx?id=9.  These videos are concise and to the point, each covering a key mortgage process topic, such as cash to close, monthly payments, mortgage insurance, and more. 

We encourage our clients to plan early – last year I closed a loan for I client with whom I had been talking for 2 years.  My boss’ record is 7 years.  In short, we will take the time to listen, to coach, and to help our clients plan for a future home purchase.  And sometimes, it may take a few years to save enough money, to improve credit scores, or to meet tax return guidelines for self-employment.  Helping our clients plan for mortgage success is something the DMS staff enjoys doing.  

Also, we coach our clients to plan a home purchase that best fits their financial situation.  Oftentimes, a home buyer can qualify for a mortgage payment that is so high, they would have to change their lifestyle to live with the payment.  Such high payments can lead to significant financial stress – we call that being “house poor.”  We consult with our clients about how a mortgage payment will fit into their budget and lifestyle.  We encourage discipline and budgeting, with the goal of helping the client buy a home that they love, and that they can comfortably afford.

Know a first time home buyer who needs financial coaching and counsel?  Tell them about us here at Dunwoody Mortgage — we will invest a lot of time in them, so their first home investment will be successful, and with minimal stress. 

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Volatility Reigns

January 31, 2017 by

blog-author-clayjeffreys3

Market volatility is going to be the theme for 2017… or at least the theme for the foreseeable future. Basically, I am picking up where I left off a couple of weeks ago. As discussed last time, Wall Street seemed to embrace the idea of a Trump administration as stock values soared after the election… well, so did interest rates. Rates rose over a point in the roughly 2 months after the election. Rates did begin to improve some until…

Stocks hit 20,000 for the first time ever. Rates went back to their higher levels since the election. Then something unexpected happened… Trump signed the executive order for the immigration ban. The Dow is off about 200 points from its all time high, and interest rates improved by 0.250% in the last few days. It is going to be a bumpy ride. If this is too much, then take a deep breath, keep calm, and…

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In addition to keeping calm and loving our pets, is there anything else that can help when buying a home in this volatile market? Yes, there is!

As briefly mentioned in my last post, there is a one time FREE rate float down on locked interest rates with Dunwoody Mortgage Services. After we lock the rate, should rates improve by 0.250% or more, then we can float the rate down to the current market for the home purchase. The rate will NOT increase while locked; it can only improve while it is locked.

Looking to buy a home in Georgia? Like the idea of locking to protect your rate, but having the option to lower should rates improve? If so, contact me today? I can get you prequalified to make an offer, and explain all the details of the float down process.

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Economic Uncertainty and Mortgage Rates

January 17, 2017 by

blog-author-clayjeffreys3

How does economic uncertainty impact mortgage rates? I’m glad you asked!

In general, when the economic outlook is good, investment dollars go into stocks. As money goes into stocks, there is less money available to go into bonds. This flow of money causes stock values to rise, and bond prices to fall. As mortgage backed security bonds (or MBS Bonds) values fall, interest rates rise.

Some recent recent examples:

  • Brexit Vote: when the UK voted to leave the EU, that sent shockwaves through the world financial markets. Stock markets around the world pulled back, and bond prices went up. Mortgage rates improved until…
  • US Presidential Vote: Mortgage rates soared as stocks soared after Trump was elected president of the United States. Seems stocks felt Trump’s election would be a boon for business in the US. Stocks flirted with all-time highs day after day once Trump won the election. With this much money going into stocks, bond prices dropped, and mortgage rates increased by over a full point (from low 3’s to mid 4’s) in the weeks following the election.
  • US Presidential Inauguration: as the nation gets ready for the 45th President of the United States, there are signs the honeymoon period is over. A recent article said Trump would have the lowest approval rating of any President at inauguration. The gains in stocks have slowed, and there is growing concern about the “trade war” rhetoric. Maybe a trade war works out in the long run, but the short run in hurts business, hurts investments, and can cause a recession. With these thoughts in mind, we’ve seen stocks pull back over the past couple of weeks, and mortgage rate have improved.

What does the future hold? For those wanting to see lower rates, economic uncertainty is a main contributor to rates improving. It is no coincidence that all-time lows in mortgage rates occurred during the Great Recession. It is also no coincidence that mortgage rates haven’t dramatically improved since the economic recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and painful for many. And there in-lies a great dilemma… the quickest way for mortgage rates to improve (outside of Governmental influence such as Quantitative Easing) is from economic hardship. While low rates are great, in the long run, a sluggish economy isn’t great either.

Looking to buy or refinance a home? If refinancing, sitting and waiting isn’t a bad idea. I am currently watching rate for several clients in hopes they continue to drop. Once we hit our target rate, we get started. If buying, this is trickier as you can’t sit and wait for a long time on rates when there is a closing date involved! This is where our FREE one time rate float down comes in handy. Ask me about it! If the home is in the state of Georgia, contact me. We can get started today on your loan.

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How Could Fed Rate Increase Affect Mortgage Rates?

December 20, 2016 by

For the first time in a year, the United States Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by 0.25%.  How will that impact mortgage interest rates?

Here’s a history lesson:  The last time the FED raised the federal funds rate was in December 2015.  By the end of January 2016, mortgage interest rates actually improved by about a half point.  Mortgage rates then stayed flat (for the most part) until June and July, when they continued to improve.  Mortgage rates stayed at this very low level until election day.  From election day through December 15, 2016,  mortgage interest rates increased about 0.75%.

When trying to analyze mortgage interest rates, it makes sense to look at a mortgage loan as an investment.  Here’s why…Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase most of the conforming mortgages originated in the USA.  They “pool” these mortgages into mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) which are bought and sold on Wall Street just like other investments.  MBS provide investors with regular, predictable income (from the interest payments on the mortgages), so they are considered less “risky” than stocks and mutual funds.

But ultimately, MBS must compete with all other investments for investors’ dollars.  In the recent, post-election period, stock values have increased making equity investments more attractive.  To compete, lenders had to raise mortgage interest rates to provide a greater return and compete with the high-flying equities.

 

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In addition, China has been selling large amounts of its US government debt holdings.  As China sells, that creates pressure to raise interest rates on US government debt.  Again, government debt competes with MBS for investor dollars.  As interest rates on government debt increase, mortgage rates may have to rise to remain attractive to investors.

So what is a home buyer to do?  If you plan to buy soon, you can relax knowing that, once you get a home under contract, your lender can lock your interest rate through your closing date.  This means that if market interest rates rise between the time you lock your rate until closing, you still pay the lower rate specified in your lock.  You are protected against rate increases.

In addition, Dunwoody Mortgage offers a free interest rate float down on some mortgage products.  This means that, if market mortgage rates drop after you lock your rate, we might be able to lower your rate before closing.  With the free float down, after you lock your rate, you are protected should interest rates increase, and you may still be allowed to benefit if market rates decrease.

Ultimately, we at Dunwoody Mortgage are working in the best interest of our borrowers.  If you are looking to buy a house anywhere in Georgia, and mortgage interest rate changes make you nervous, contact me.  We can set you up with a loan program that can help protect you against the ups and downs of mortgage interest rate changes.

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