Posts Tagged ‘historically low interest rates’

Credit Score Basics for Home Buyers

February 9, 2017

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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How Could Fed Rate Increase Affect Mortgage Rates?

December 20, 2016

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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Interest Rates Jump

November 15, 2016

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One thing that I did not expect from this election was the change in interest rates.  Mortgage interest rates on November 14 were a half a percentage point higher than they were on November 7.  Rates are still close to their historic lows, and still lower than rates back in the second half of 2015, but they definitely have taken a quick upward turn in the last week.  And there’s really no way to predict how far rates may rise.  For a better understanding of what drives mortgage interest rates, take a look at these prior posts:  https://themortgageblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/interest-rates-lower-from-brexit/ and https://themortgageblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/feds-may-not-raise-rates-at-all-this-year/

While I don’t have a crystal ball to forecast interest rates, I will simply apply a bit of common sense.  Interest rates have been very, very low for multiple years now.  There really isn’t much opportunity for rates to go lower.  So logically, if rates are going to move, they will likely go up.  If you are ready to buy a house, how do you protect yourself from a rate increase?  Answer:  You lock your rate.

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When a home buyer goes under contract, I can lock rates for periods from 30 days up to 90 days.  The longer the rate lock period, the higher the price.  Locking your interest rate is the sure way to protect yourself against rate increases.  I locked a refinance on November 8, just before the close of business.  I hate to think that this client’s rate would now be 0.50% higher if we had delayed.  Because she locked for 45 days, her rate will not increase if we close the loan before the end of business on December 23.  As long as you can close before the lock expires, your rate will not change.  If something delays closing past the lock expiration, that might cost you.  (Moral of the story, quickly respond to any request from your loan officer.  Delays can cost you.)

Borrowers also want to know what happens if market rates decrease after they lock their interest rate.  Dunwoody Mortgage can also offer a free rate float down option on some loans.  If your qualifying rate drops by more than 0.25% and we can relock it (1) less than 30 days and (2) more than 7 days before closing, we may be able to do that at no charge.

So if you want to buy a home and you are worried about interest rate fluctuations, know that Dunwoody Mortgage can protect you regardless of which way the market moves.  Moving forward with a Georgia home purchase soon?  Call me here at Dunwoody Mortgage now, before rates go up any more.  We can answer your questions and offer the counsel to best protect you against interest rate changes.

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Feds may not raise rates at all this year

October 18, 2016


blog-author-clayjeffreys3

Well over a year ago, the Federal Reserve indicated they would begin raising the Federal Funding Rate. This started in December 2015 when the rate increased by 0.250% for the first time in almost a decade. While we didn’t expect a 0.250% increase each time the Feds met this year, surely there would be another increase at some point. Right?

The year is almost over, and the Feds have stood their ground. The comments from the most recent Fed meeting made it sound as if it is doubtful there would be an increase this year, but could be in 2017 as the economy continues to reach employment goals.

Does that mean potential buyers should panic as rates may go up in 2017? No, it doesn’t.

  • The Federal Funding rate does not impact mortgage rates. When the Federal Funding rate increases, rates go up on second mortgages, credit cards, car loans, etc.
  • Mortgage Rates go up and down along with the value of Mortgage Backed Security Bonds. To see plenty of previous posts on this topic, do a search for “MBS” in the “search this site” box in the upper right corner of the page.
  • The last time the Feds raised the Federal Funding Rate, Mortgage Rates improved. Rates are roughly 0.500% lower now than they were in December 2015.

So what to make of this? Don’t make home buying plans on what the Feds may or may not do. Don’t buy a home out of fear of rates going up. The best strategy is to get prequalified to buy a home, and purchase a home when the time is right for you… and not what the Feds or media dictates.

Looking to buy a home in Georgia? Contact me today. I’ll get you prequalified and get you ready for your home buying experience.

 

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Credit Reports and Qualifying for a Mortgage #2

October 12, 2016

The last post covered the credit score component of a credit report.  But remember, there is much more to a mortgage credit report than just the score.  After looking at a client’s credit score, I next review any public record filed against the client (let’s call him “Matt”) in a court of law.  These include liens, judgements, foreclosures, and bankruptcies.  How do these items affect Matt’s ability to win loan approval?

  • Liens – A tax lien is a big red flag. The IRS doesn’t play around when it comes to collecting money you owe them.  And lenders don’t want to get in line behind the IRS when it comes to collecting payments.  If Matt has a tax lien, he will likely need to pay it off before we can win loan approval.  We may be able to win loan approval if Matt has a tax lien, but it will take some extra work.
  • Bankruptcies – Bankruptcies stay on a credit report for 7 years.  Matt cannot obtain a conventional loan for 4 years following the bankruptcy discharge date (the date when Matt was officially released from personal liability for debts included in the bankruptcy).  For FHA loans, the waiting period is 2 years after the bankruptcy discharge date.  There are some differences in how we treat Chapter 13 vs. Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcies.
  • Foreclosures – Foreclosures also stay on a credit report for 7 years.  It is possible to win loan approval even with a foreclosure.  For conventional loans, a 7 year waiting period is required.  For FHA loans a 3 year waiting period is required.  And note that the clock starts when the foreclosing bank sells the old house to someone else.  Not when the bank first takes the house.
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Gavel with money background

  • Short Sales – Once again, short sales stay on the report for 7 years. A short sale occurs when a loan servicer agrees to the sale of a property by the borrower to a third-party for less than the outstanding mortgage balance.  Waiting periods are 4 years for a conventional loans and 2 years for FHA loans.
  • Legal Judgments – Outstanding legal judgements must be paid off prior to or at closing.  Note that we can include payment of Matt’s legal judgments as part of the closing itself.

There is much more to a credit report than just the score.  When a lender pulls your report and quickly says “you qualify,” he or she might be doing you a disservice.  You want a lender who will take some time to look closely at your report, and deal with any potential issues up front.  If you plan to buy a home in Georgia and expect your lender to invest time in the details, call Dunwoody Mortgage Services.  We will help you avoid surprises.

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The Simplest Loan Around – Part 3

September 8, 2016

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Continuing the FHA streamline refinance theme… Here’s an example.  I’m currently talking with Confidential.  Confidential is self-employed.  Confidential’s spouse, Anonymous, recently took a new all-commission sales job. 

With a standard mortgage, the income and employment verification for Confidential and Anonymous would be very tedious at best, and they likely may not qualify.  Underwriters want to see a 24 month history of income for self-employed persons.  And they will average the 24 month income to determine the borrower’s current monthly income.  That hurts self-employed borrowers whose incomes are growing.  But those normal underwriting concerns do not apply to the FHA Streamline Refinance!

The interest rate on Confidential and Anonymous’ current mortgage is 4.75%.  That is high by today’s standards.  The good news is that they bought their home with a FHA loan several years ago.  I quoted Confidential and Anonymous a new FHA interest rate at less than 3.5%, and we expect to lower their monthly payment by over $220!  Given the closing costs for the loan, this refinance will pay for itself in less than a year.  After that, they are saving over $2,500 per year!

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I’m not worried about this loan being approved in spite of the fact that Confidential and Anonymous are self-employed and they cannot provide the standard 24 month income history.  And we don’t have to fret about an appraisal value.  They have made all FHA mortgage payments on time, and this refinance will reduce their payment by over 15%.  They qualify for what might be the easiest loan around – the FHA Streamline Refinance.

So how do you determine if a refinance is right for you?  There are many considerations, but we have a couple of rules of thumb:  (1) If you can lower your payment by $100 per month or more, and (2) if the refinance will “pay for itself”* in 36 months or less, then you may want to investigate refinancing options.  (*Divide the loan closing costs by the estimated monthly savings to calculate how many months will pass before the savings cover the entire cost of the refinance.  If this time period is 3 years or less, then refinancing may be a good option for you.)

If you want to lower your current monthly payment by taking advantage of current low, low mortgage interest rates, contact me here at Dunwoody Mortgage.  I will take the time to help you understand all of the options available to you, and I will coach you to make the best financial decision possible for you and your family.

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The Simplest Loan Around – Part 2

August 12, 2016

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In the last blog post, I introduced the FHA “streamline” refinance loan. These loans are the fastest, simplest way for FHA mortgage holders to refinance to today’s low, low rates.

The streamline program simplifies home refinancing by waiving the documentation typically required for a mortgage, including income and employment verification, credit score verification, and an appraisal of the home. Homeowners can also possibly use the program to reduce their FHA mortgage insurance premiums (MIP).  Like an Olympic swimmer reduces friction by “streamlining” when underwater, the FHA streamline refinance offers much less resistance and effort than a regular purchase loan.

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Here’s a quick summary of the benefits:

  1. No appraisal is required – FHA will use your original purchase price as your home’s current value, regardless of what the house is worth today.
  2. No employment verification is required with the streamline refinance.
  3. No income verification is required.
  4. No detailed review of your credit report is performed. If your score is 600 or higher, you qualify.

So to sum up the benefits, you can be (a) out of work, (b) without income, (c) have a low credit score, and (d) be underwater on your home mortgage and you can still qualify for an FHA streamline refinance.

Now this sounds crazy.  Why would they do this?  Well remember, to qualify, you must already own the home and have an FHA mortgage.  We are not qualifying you to take on a new mortgage payment for a new house.  The FHA is already committed to insuring your home mortgage.

Therefore, it is in the FHA’s best interest to help as many existing mortgage holders as possible lower their payments.  By lowering payments, they will lower the default rate.  So this program helps the FHA, but it also helps the borrower who can lower his monthly payment.

In the next post, we will review example scenarios where this type of loan can really help the homeowner.  But for now, if someone you know in Georgia has a FHA mortgage with an interest rate of 4.00% or higher, have them call me to discuss a potential refinance.  We’ll run the numbers together to make sure it’s a good financial move for them.

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The Simplest Loan Around – Part 1

August 4, 2016

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It’s a fun time to be a mortgage lender.  Interest rates are hovering near their historic lows.  They’ve been close to rock bottom for a while, but this Brexit situation has pushed them back to almost the lowest level in history.

Right now, for borrowers with a credit score of 680 or higher, I can quote an interest rate in a range right around 3.25% for a 30 year fixed rate FHA mortgage.  To me that is amazing.

That rate applies to both purchases and refinances.  But it gets even better for refinances….if you have an existing FHA loan that you want to refinance, we can do a “streamline” refinance that is much easier than a standard loan.

So what is this awesome FHA streamline refi program?  Here are the details:

  1. It is only for people with an FHA mortgage.  If you have a conventional mortgage, this does not apply.
  2. It is only for people who are current on their FHA mortgage.  If you are behind on your payments, you don’t qualify.
  3. It is only for people who have no more than one late payment in the last 12 months.  If you have multiple late payments recently, you don’t qualify.
  4. It can only be used if it lowers your monthly payment by 5% or more.  And by monthly payment, we are talking about principal plus interest plus mortgage insurance.  Escrow is not considered.
  5. If you have previously refinanced an FHA mortgage on your home, 210 days must have passed from the date you closed your last refinance before you are eligible.

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So that’s what it takes to qualify, what’s the big deal?  What makes this streamline program so special?

In short, these loans are the fastest, simplest way for FHA mortgage holders to refinance to today’s low, low rates.

The streamline program simplifies home refinancing by waiving the documentation typically required for a mortgage, including income and employment verification, credit score verification, and an appraisal of the home. Homeowners can also possibly use the program to reduce their FHA mortgage insurance premiums (MIP).

I’ll provide more details in my next post, but keep this in mind for now, if you or a friend / family member bought a house before January 2012 or in the second half of 2013 / early 2014, ask yourself or the other person (1) do you have an FHA mortgage and (2) have you refinanced that mortgage?

If their answers are “Yes” and “No,” tell them you know a mortgage lender who might be able to save them thousands of dollars on their home loan, and can make the process really easy.

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Interest Rates lower from Brexit

July 12, 2016

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Interest rates have moved lower since the Brexit vote at the end of June sent stocks crashing, the Pound Sterling down to lows versus the Dollar it hasn’t seen in decades, and all of the politician who led the Brexit campaign quit. But how much have interest rates actually moved since the Brexit vote?

I’ve kept up with interest rates daily since 2009. Since the Brexit vote toward the end of June, interest rates have only improved by 0.125-0.250%. Based on the number of “low interest rate” stories out there, you’d think interest rates would have dropped by at least a half point and have set new all time historic lows since the vote. Why all of the stories? I think it has to do with several factors:

  • yields on treasury bonds have experienced some major change, but treasury bonds don’t impact interest rates. As discussed countless times on this blog (do a search for “MBS” or “mortgage backed security” in the search box at the top right of the main page of this blog), interest rates are impacted by the movement of mortgage backed security bonds. Those prices haven’t changed near as much as the treasury yields.
  • the big move on interest rates was back in January of this year when interest rates dropped by over a half point from the start of the month until the end of the month. Interest rates have been about at this level for most of the year.
  • why the “low rate” stories now? Well, in January, stories were focusing more on the Spring market, home sales increasing, new construction startups increasing, etc. By the time we approach July, the Spring Market is over, there is a natural lull in home sales (everyone goes on vacation in July), and something is needed to fill the 24-hour news cycle. The Brexit vote along with rates improving some since that vote provided the needed stories.
  • since this is a normal “lull” period in the housing market, marketing efforts can now be turned to potential refinances.

Are interest rates low? Yes, absolutely.

Should one consider refinancing? Of course!

But don’t get swept away by it. You want to talk with an experienced mortgage loan officer who can give you the pros and cons of refinancing. For example, this morning I spoke with someone who wanted to refinance using a 15 year mortgage and pay discount points to get the rate into the 2’s. After running the numbers, his “break even” point on the monthly savings versus the closing costs for the new loan increased when he paid discount points to lower the rate! That wasn’t a typo… by paying discount points to get a lower rate, the amount of time needed to break even increased.

In the frenzy to secure a low rate, be sure to ask questions. Work with a mortgage loan officer who watches for trends and doesn’t hop onto the bandwagon of recent events. Someone who will discuss loan options with you instead of just quoting a rate and asking you if you are ready to get started. If the home you are looking to refinance is in the state of Georgia, contact me today. I can help you get going!

Besides… interest rates aren’t at their historic lows yet. That means there is still room for interest rates to improve.

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Jumbo Loan FAQs

June 7, 2016

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Now that we’ve talked about having the best of both worlds when it comes to Jumbo rates, let’s discuss some other questions people have about Jumbo loans.

Q: What is a Jumbo loan?
A: Any loan amount over $417,000.

Q: How large can Jumbo loans get?
A: There really isn’t a limit, but our office focuses on loan amounts up to $2,000,000.

Q: How much money do I need for a down payment?
A: You can apply for a Jumbo loan with as little as 10% down. The rate is higher, so ideally you’d want to make at least a 20% down payment.

Q: Are the closing costs higher for Jumbo loans?
A: The short answer is yes. The longer answer is this… while Jumbo loans, VA loans, FHA loans, and Conventional loans have some of the same fees associated with the loan program, some of these fees are based on the loan amount such as title insurance, discount points, and in the state of Georgia, the transfer taxes. For example, one transfer tax is 0.001% of the purchase price. That means on a Jumbo purchase of $1,000,000, the fee is $1,000. If it is a conventional loan purchase of $400,000, then the fee is $400. If an FHA purchase of $225,000, then the fee is $225. So while the fees are essentially the same name, some are just much higher than others due to the purchase price/loan amount differences.

Q: Are Jumbo loans harder to qualify for if you are self-employed?
A: No, they are not. The same basic documentation is needed for the loan application. The main parts of underwriting are to ensure the income is stable for all borrowers. This is just looked at more closely for self-employed borrowers, but not any different than applying for a conventional loan.

Q: Are reserves needed for Jumbo loans?
A: Yes.

Q: Ok then, how much reserves are needed?
A: It depends on the loan program. Some require 6 months on the subject property. Others require 12 months. Some even require 6 months on all properties owned. The key is asking your Loan Officer the specifics of the reserve requirements up front so there are no surprises later in the loan process.

Q: Can the reserves be from retirement or other non-liquid accounts?
A: Yes, retirement and other asset accounts can be used. That said, some Jumbo loan programs limit the amount of reserves that can be used from those accounts. Again, ask your Loan Officer for these details.

Looking to buy a home that will require a Jumbo loan? Buying in the state of Georgia? If yes, I can help you get started. Contact me today and we’ll discuss these questions and more.

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