Posts Tagged ‘get prequalified’

Rents on the rise

December 11, 2018

Rents are still going up and just hit an all-time high, again. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that during the third quarter, the nationwide median asking rent topped $1,000 for the first time ever. According to the Census data, the median asking rent during the third quarter was $1,003, an increase of $52 over the second quarter and an increase of $91 over the same time period last year. That’s an increase of nearly 10% in just one year, when rents checked in at $912.

The increase has been dramatic over the last few years. Just three years ago, the asking rent was a full $200 less per month than it is right now.

Since we are a Georgia based company, I try and bring these topics back to the local area.

  • The Bad News: Rents are going up in Georgia.
  • The Not as Great News: So are home prices for buying.
  • The Good News: Metro Atlanta is a city where it is cheaper to own that rent.

A recent study by Trulia has Atlanta around the 60th cheapest metro area to rent (out of the top 100), and in the top 40 for cheapest metro area to own. While rents are going up, by living in the metro Atlanta area, you have the opportunity to own a home, build equity, and have your monthly housing payment go toward your financial goals (instead of your landlord’s).

Now here is the question – should I buy a home? To answer that question, ask yourself how long you plan to be in the home? Atlanta is a transient town, so maybe your time here is only for a year or two. In that case, renting could be the better option. If you plan to stay in a home for 3 years or more, that same Trulia article mentioned earlier says it is cheaper to buy than rent. Three years seems to be a good number for judging whether or not to consider buying a home or continuing to rent.

So… how long do you plan to stay in the home?

If you are looking to buy in the state of Georgia, contact me today! I can help get you prequalified for the home purchase. More importantly, we can discuss how much home you should buy versus how much home you qualify to buy. Often the amount one can qualify isn’t the amount one wants to pay each month as a mortgage payment. We’ll tackle those topics and more!

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Conforming loan limits rise (again!)

December 4, 2018

For the third year in a row, conforming loan limits are increasing.

  • In 2017, the limit increased from $417,000 to $424,100.
  • In 2018, the limit increased to $453,100.
  • In 2019, the new conforming loan limit will be $484,350.

Over three years, the max limit has increased by roughly 16%. This is quite a change as the limit stayed at 417,000 from 2006-2016. One thing though, I gotta say, what is the deal with no rounding up or down?!? I think it would be a lot easier to just say $453,000 or $484,000. Is the extra $350 going to make that big of a difference? Oh well…

Why the increase? Conforming loan limits are set by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act passed in 2008. This set the baseline loan limit of $417,000, and stated this baseline cannot increase until home prices return to pre-housing decline levels. With home prices still on the rise across the country, it is fitting the limit increased. Now a home buyer can purchase a $500,000 with roughly a 3% down payment. This opens up more homes for buyers who have stable jobs/strong income, but may be lacking in assets for a larger down payment. Congratulations!

We can also expect FHA mortgage limits to rise too. Currently for metro Atlanta, the limit is $359,950 (again, round up. Is $5 going to make that big of a difference :-). If we see a similar increase in 2019 as we did in 2018, expect the new FHA loan limit in metro Atlanta to be roughly $385,000. Expect a new blog post once FHA makes the official announcement.

Higher loan limits are great for consumers as housing prices continue to rise due to demand and low inventory levels. Looking to buy a new home in the new year? Is that home in Georgia? If yes, contact me today. I can get you prequalified in a matter of minutes and on your way to making an offer in no time!

Credit freezes are now free!

November 1, 2018

A new law recently took effect allowing consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit with the three main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The push for this changed started in 2017 with the the massive data breach at Equifax, which exposed the personal information of more than 145 million consumers to hackers.

What is a credit freeze? When a consumer “freezes” their credit, they have essentially locked their credit. No one (not a person, bank, car dealership, etc.) can access a consumer’s credit while frozen. This means new credit accounts cannot be opened, and is the surest way (not a 100% guarantee) to prevent fraud. Freezes can become problematic when a consumer needs to apply for credit as one has to go through the process of unfreezing their credit before applying.

The change was put in place by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act signed into law earlier this year. Before the change, every state had their own rules about credit freezes. It could cost as much as $10 to freeze (and throw on another $10 to lift a freeze) one’s credit. The days of fees are gone. Some other highlights of the new law:

  • As discussed, consumers can now freeze and unfreeze their credit for free.
  • Parents can put a freeze on their children’s credit for free (applies to children under 16).
  • Guardians, conservators, and those with a valid power of attorney can also get a free freeze for their dependents.
  • Fraud alerts placed on a consumer’s credit file will be extended from 90 days to one year.

It hopefully just got a little more difficult for scammers to abuse someone’s credit information! How to put a freeze on your credit? Consumers must contact each of the three major credit agencies independently to place a credit freeze on their accounts.

Mortgage rates rise again

October 16, 2018

Mortgage rates are on the rise (from the dead?!? 🎃🎃🎃Happy Halloween! 🎃🎃🎃) again in the month of October. Mortgage rates jumped sharply to yearly highs and to levels not see in over seven years. Mortgage rates for a 30 year fixed loan are nearing 5%. What is going on!?!

Mortgage rates rising can be scary!

A year ago, mortgage rates were just under 4%… that is about a full point lower than they are today. I know what a lot of people think… “it is because of the Federal Reserve raising rates.” Not exactly.

The Federal Reserve raised rates three times so far this year at 0.250% each time. That means the Federal Funds Rate is up 0.750% on the year, but mortgage rates are up almost 1%. Why the difference?

  • the Federal Funds rate directly impacts the rate on second mortgages, car loans, credit card rates, etc.
  • bond values – specifically mortgage backed security bonds (or MBS bonds)- impact rates for first mortgages. As these bond values decrease, mortgage rates increase.

That is what we’ve seen this year. Stocks are up on the year, the economy is better, and MBS bond values are down… meaning, higher mortgage rates. Remember the reason we saw all time historic lows for mortgage rates was two-fold.

First, the economy went through the Great Recession. In this environment, investors move money out of stocks and into bonds. The more money into bonds mean those values go up, and mortgage rates go down. As the economy improved, more money is going into stocks and out of bonds (bond values drop and mortgage rates rise).

Second, the Federal Reserve purchased bonds (quantitative easing or QE) to help push rates down to stimulate the housing market. The economy is now doing well, the Federal Reserve ended QE, and the Feds are now selling off some of the bonds they bought during QE. All of the factors pushing rates to historic lows are gone, and the current environment on rates is pushing them up. This trend doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.

What can we expect? Earlier this year, mortgage rates jumped 0.75%, but recovered about half of those losses. We can expect to see some market fluctuations, and possibly some positive improvements in mortgage rates. Those looking for rates to get below 4% again? Those days are long behind us now, and probably not returning anytime soon.

Worried about rates going up even more? Considering buying a home but waiting for the right time? If you are buying in Georgia, contact me today. Let’s talk about what buying a home would look like for you, and see how the current dynamics in play will impact your next home purchase.

The end of the seller’s market

October 2, 2018

I know it seems we are stuck in a seller’s market. It feels like an eternity at this point! I’ll be back to that theme in a moment, but right now… If you have been putting off buying a home because of fierce competition, now is a good time to look at the market again. Homes are staying on the market longer now than they have all year. There are fewer buyers out looking to purchase a home. This is the best opportunity for buyers so far in 2018!

Regarding 2018 as a whole though, and back to the theme of this post, there are too few homes on the market for the number of buyers wanting to own a home. Sellers tend to receive multiple offers, and can be picky when it comes to whom they choose to sell their home. According to a recent study by Zillow, the market will balance out in the near future.

Zillow’s study says there are signs that the inventory levels are beginning to get better (as I mentioned above), but the country is still dealing with the fallout of limited new construction over several years during the Great Recession. Expect to see conditions continue improving over the next year, and around 2020, Zillow expects the market to become a buyer’s market again. By then, Zillow expects new construction will have caught up to demand. As people move from their existing homes into the new construction, it will put more homes on the market for other people to buy/enter the home ownership market.

It is coming… not as quick as we may like it, but a more balanced market is on its way. In the meantime:

  • Remember there are a lot of myths out there when it comes to buying a home. For example, you do NOT need 20% down to purchase a home. For more on this, check out my previous post.
  • There are things buyers can do to make their offers more competitive. For more on this, check out Rodney Shaffer’s recent post.

Better days are coming, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait another year. If you are buying in the state of Georgia, contact me today. I can help you get prequalified to purchase your home, and we can discuss the variety of options to make your offer more competitive in this market.

 

How the Lender Can Help Win the Contract

August 14, 2018


The last post covered reasons why we have such a sellers’ market in Atlanta real estate.  Now let’s cover how a lender can help win a contract.  We lenders have a few ways to help strengthen our buyers’ offers relative to competitors.

Firstly, many listing agents prefer to work with local lenders rather than the national and online lenders.  The Realtors also like the ability to communicate with local lenders – they can call us with any issues or questions and often get a faster response than with a national lender.  I once had a Realtor who was listing a home tell me, “We chose your client’s offer because they had a letter from you, and we know that you would make the closing happen on time.”  Trust is important and we local lenders work hard to build that trust in our markets.

Secondly, when my clients make an offer, sometimes the listing agent will call me to verify the information provided in the prequalification letter.  I’m always happy to talk with the agents, and I use this as a chance to actively promote my client’s strengths.  I once took a call from a Realtor on the Saturday of a holiday weekend.  When I answered she immediately responded, “Oh thank goodness!  A lender who works Realtor hours not bankers hours.”  We can be available on weekends and in the evenings to help our buyers.  I have volunteered to proactively call listing agents on my client’s behalf.  It helps to promote my client’s strengths.

The most powerful way a lender can help a buyer win a contract is to underwrite the buyer with a “to be determined” property — before the buyer actually makes an offer.  We fully underwrite the buyer, but without the property-specific details.  So there’s no appraisal, no title work, etc. (until a house is under contract).  This gives the ability to provide a letter stating that underwriting has already approved the borrower.  It also allows us to shorten the closing timeframe (since we don’t have to underwrite the buyer again) and potentially eliminate the financing contingency, which is standard on most home purchase contracts.  Having underwriting approval positions the buyer strongly relative to other offers with only prequalification letters.  The only offer stronger is a cash offer.  In competitive markets expecting multiple offers on listed homes, this approach can position the buyer to better win.

If you have a friend or family member who has been making home purchase offers and is frustrated about not winning, have them contact me.  We at Dunwoody Mortgage will do everything possible (from a lender perspective) to help them win.

 

Government impact on housing

August 7, 2018

Sometimes the government gets involved in areas, and things get worse. Here is one area where inaction would be really bad – flood insurance.

On the last possible day, Congress avoided a lapse in the federal flood insurance program when the Senate voted to extend the program through the end of November. The National Flood Insurance Program would have expired July 31 without this action. So the program has been extended, but still doesn’t include any reforms to the program. Despite years of debate and proposals to reform the program, reforms have stalled. In lieu of any changes, Congress has kicked the can down the road another few months. We’ll get to do all of this again in a few months.

This isn’t a case of “they’ll do anything to prevent a lapse of flood insurance coverage.” Congress has let the national flood insurance program lapse some in the past few years. Here is hoping the next change/extension/reform won’t be at the very last minute, but something tells me it will be.

In other mortgage news from the government, it appears the current set up for FHA mortgage insurance will remain the same. There will be no decrease in the monthly premium AND the insurance will still be permanent for the life of the loan.  FHA’s insurance program works differently from private mortgage insurance, which typically falls off after a certain amount of time.

The FHA’s policy wasn’t always this way. The FHA’s previous policy required borrowers to pay mortgage insurance premiums until the outstanding principal balance reaches 78% of the original home value, but the FHA instituted the life of loan policy back in 2013. This action was part of the effort to improve the status of their mortgage insurance fund. While there were some good years of rebuilding the fund, the decline of the funds balance in 2017 caused FHA to pause in potential changes to mortgage insurance.

Currently, the mortgage insurance is so high on FHA loans that it rarely makes sense for a borrower to consider using an FHA loan unless they have really low credit and/or a very high debt threshold. Good credit, low debt, but short on the down payment? Conventional loans allow only a 3% down payment (compared to FHA’s 3.5% down payment). Hopefully FHA can update their mortgage insurance policy in the near future to provide more options for well qualified borrowers.

Looking to buy a home before the end of the year? Ready to have a new home for the holidays?!? If you are purchasing in Georgia, contact me today. I’ll get you ready to make an offer in one quick phone call.

A Seller’s Market – Thoughts on Why

July 26, 2018


The seller’s market continues on in the Atlanta area.  I have recently heard Realtors talking about their clients making offers on homes that have 12 – 15 competing offers.  One Realtor friend told me about a home that he listed last December.  The Realtor did painstaking research on the neighborhood and comparable properties.  The analysis said a fair price was $299,000.  The winning offer was $355,000!  That’s about 18% over the asking price.

So how did we get to this point?  According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, one key factor is that for over 10 years now, home construction has not kept pace with US population growth.  The article stated that current home construction per household is close to its lowest level in 60 years – since the late 1950’s.  In years past, this lower construction level was somewhat offset by the number of foreclosed homes available for purchase.  But that is no longer the case as foreclosure rates have decreased dramatically since the Great Recession.

In the Atlanta metro area, this housing “shortage” is compounded by population growth.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in June that the metro area’s recent annual population growth of 1.5% exceeds the rates for eight of the top ten US metro areas.  With this growth rate, Atlanta is on pace to surpass the population of Philadelphia by 2022, becoming the eight most populous city in the country.

See the source image

All of this affects the mentality of a big group of potential home buyers.  They currently own a home, and they want to move to meet the needs of a growing family or shorten their commute.  But their income level will not support two mortgages, so their offers must be contingent on selling their current home.  That creates two problems.  The first is that sellers can choose from multiple offers and they are much more likely to choose a non-contingent offer than a contingent one.  Secondly, these would-be home buyers are very reluctant to list their current home without having a new home under contract.  And it makes sense – they don’t want to sell their current house and not be able to buy a new one.  Let’s face it…moving stinks, and having to move twice stinks twice as much.  So many would-be home buyers are “sitting on the sidelines,” waiting for the market to get less competitive before they seriously look for homes.

Dunwoody Mortgage can actually help our clients better position themselves to win competitive home purchase situations.  You ask, “How can the lender help the buyer win a contract?”  I’ll tell you…in the next blog post.  If you or someone you know wants to buy a house and doesn’t have time to wait for the next post, call me.  I would love to tell you how Dunwoody Mortgage can help home buyers win in this sellers market.


Education is the key to home ownership

July 10, 2018

My colleague, Rodney Shaffer, is putting together a series on the advantages of home ownership. There are four posts as of this entry. They all focus on how home ownership, over time, provides a solid return in investment along with stabilizing/increasing the home owners own net worth.  Those are very good reasons to consider home ownership, but there is still on major hurdle for potential home buyers.

Many potential homebuyers are not aware of the realities of getting a mortgage and may be putting off their purchase because of it.

A new survey from FDIC-insured bank Laurel Road asked college-educated Americans about their homebuying plans. The poll found many misconceptions about the housing market and arranging financing, with down payments, interest rates, and affordability all weighing on potential buyers. The survey found that almost half of respondents are unaware of alterative down payment requirements; instead, believing that 20% down is barrier to their homeownership dreams. This is fundamentally untrue. Conventional loans require as little as 3% down and this is not limited to first time home buyers. FHA loans only require 3.5% down.

There is also a misconception about interest rates with many thinking they will hit 6% by year-end and believing they’ve missed out. This is also untrue. The Mortgage Bankers Association forecast for year end is just 4.6%, which is about where rates sit now. Why do people think mortgage rates will continue to rise? While mortgage rates can rise, most believe they will rise exponentially due to the Federal Reserve raising rates. The Federal Reserve raising rates doesn’t directly impact mortgage rates (it does impact home equity lines, car loan rates, credit card rates, etc.). This blog has discussed ad nauseam the fact that mortgage rates are not directly tied to the Federal Reserve raising rates. Recent examples can be found here, here and here. For the full list of entries dealing with this topic, check out this link. It is a lot of posts.

In reality, you STILL do not need 20% down in order to qualify to purchase a home. While rates are higher in 2018 versus previous years, they are not anywhere close to 6%. Don’t get mortgage rates confused with prime rate (that is over 5% and will be closer to 6% by the end of the year. Prime rate and mortgage rates are not the same thing!

Wanting to buy a home in Georgia but don’t have 20% down? Not a problem! Contact me today, and I can help you toward owning your new home!

Feds raising rates again?

June 12, 2018

This week the Federal Reserve meets again with the prospects of another hike in the Federal Funds Rate. While there seems to be positive sentiment for an increase, the excitement for an increase is lower than it was a few weeks ago. There are concerns in the markets with events overseas, increased prices in oil, and a sluggish first quarter of economic growth in the US.

If the Fed raises rates, it would be the seventh increase within the past 30 months. That said, rates would still be well below where they were at the start of the recession. Whether they raise rates or not, analysts will be watching carefully for the Fed’s statement which will be released on Wednesday along with the rate decision. This statement may give us a clue of what the Fed is thinking about rate increases for the rest of the year and perhaps even into next year. A major question to answer will be at what level will they consider rates “normalized.”

In terms of mortgage rates, the last several times the Feds have raised the Federal Funds Rate, mortgage rates have either improved or at least stayed the same. Why? The higher the Federal Funds Rate, the more inflation is kept in check. Since mortgage rates hate inflation, this can help push mortgage rates down. Considering mortgage rates have increased by 0.750% this year, any relief would be welcomed. So don’t worry about hearing the Feds are raising rates because that may actually help mortgage rates improve.

Looking to get prequalified to buy a home in Georgia? Contact me today today and I can help you toward owing your new home!