Posts Tagged ‘how much home can I buy’

Educating First Time Home Buyers

February 2, 2017

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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Q: How Do You Earn? A: Salary or Hourly

October 22, 2015

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If you saw my last post, you’ll remember that, in the mortgage world, how you earn your income is almost as important as how much income you earn.  See http://bit.ly/1KT9Snx for a quick refresher.

So let’s unpack how we underwrite the different types of income earning methods.  I’ll start with the easy ones first.

Salary Income:  If you earn a salary, we will need to know your gross monthly income.  That is, your monthly salary before taxes and withholdings.  We basically take your annual salary and divide by 12 months.

Underwriting will review your 2 most recent pay stubs and W-2 statements.  Don’t worry if you just started a new job.  So long as you are in a W-2 salaried job and you did not have a job gap of more than 6 months prior to your current job, you can qualify once you have 30 days of pay stubs.

Hourly Income:  If you are paid by the hour, underwriters will base your income on your average earnings over the last 24 months.  We will obtain a “Verification of Employment” (VOE) from your employer to document your income.  This employer-provided VOE is ultimately what underwriting will use when reviewing your application.

I know, it sounds confusing and very detailed.  That’s why it’s my job to know the details, understand the guidelines, and walk you through the process so you know exactly where you stand with underwriting.  I love handling the details and coaching my clients so that they can buy the home of their dreams.  If you are looking to buy in the State of Georgia and you want great mortgage service plus great rates, email or call me today.  We will make buying your dream home as easy as it can be.

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Should I consider a 15 Year Mortgage?

August 27, 2015

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Someone recently asked me, “Do you recommend a 15 year mortgage now since interest rates are so low?”  To quote a CPA friend of mine when asked if a business expense is deductible, “It depends.”  The question I will ask in response is, “How much can you afford to pay every month?”  The answer to the question depends totally on the borrower’s budget.

While getting a lower interest rate is a very good thing, amortizing a loan over 15 years instead of 30 means that you pay significantly more principal with each payment.

So let’s play with the numbers to put the question in perspective:

Your friend Sally is looking to get a $250,000 mortgage on a single family home.  She has excellent credit and will make a 10% down payment.  Let’s assume that Sally would have received a 4.0% interest rate on a 30 year mortgage and her monthly principal and interest (“P&I”) payment would have been about $1,194.  For a 15 year mortgage, let’s assume that Sally would have received a lower 3.25% interest rate, but her monthly P&I payment would have been much higher at $1,757.

Over the life of the 30 year mortgage, Sally would spend $179,674 in total interest payments.  Over the life of the 15 year mortgage, Sally would spend $66,201 in total interest payments.  Ultimately, Sally would save about $113,500 in total interest payments by selecting the 15 year loan.

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Saving that amount of money over the life of the loan is fantastic.  But, on the flip side, Sally would have to pay an extra $560 per month to “earn” the lower rate.  Only Sally can decide if that fits in her budget.  (And of course, Sally would have to earn an income high enough to support the larger payment based on our debt to income guidelines.)

So if your friend Sally, or anyone else you know, wants to buy a new home and thinks a 15 year mortgage is the way to go, have her contact me and I will run the numbers for her.  I’ll take the time to explain the details, and then let Sally make the decision that is best for her family.  There are other ways to reduce your total interest expense, even if you select the 30 year mortgage.  Curious?  Call my mobile phone or send me an email to start the conversation now.

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You Can Do It!! Part 3

July 27, 2015

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Let’s finalize our mortgage myth busting process right now.  We have previously exploded myths regarding the character and capital criteria in mortgage lending.  Now let’s deal with myths regarding your “capacity” to obtain a mortgage.

When it comes to loans, the term “capacity” is your ability to make your monthly payments.  To determine your capacity to pay your mortgage, underwriters will compare your monthly gross income (before taxes, retirement, and other deductions) to all of your monthly debt payments.  If your debt payments are not too high relative to your income, you are deemed to have sufficient capacity to obtain the loan.

A surprising percentage of people believe that if they simply have a student loan – regardless of the amount – they cannot qualify for a mortgage.  The TRUTH here is that you can still qualify for a mortgage even if you do have a student loan (or an auto loan, or an auto lease, or credit cards, or other types of debt).

The critical question here is not IF you have a student loan, instead it is, “How large are your payments relative to your income?”  Underwriters will scrutinize your “back ratio,” which is the sum of all your monthly debt payments – student loans, auto loans, the new mortgage payment on that house you want, etc. – divided by your monthly gross income.

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As long as your back ratio is not too high, say 45% or less for a conventional loan and 50% or less for a FHA loan, you will likely have your loan approved (assuming no other underwriting “issues,” of course).

So let’s summarize the mortgage myth destroying logic with this:  if your credit score is 620 or higher, and you have (or can get from relatives) enough cash for a 3% or more down payment, and if your current monthly debt payments are not excessive, and you want to buy a house, then remember, “You can do it!”

Actually, I’ll correct this as you will need help from someone licensed to originate loans, so let’s just say, “We Can Do It!”  If you dream of owning your own home in the state of Georgia, give me a call and let’s discuss your situation.  I’ll be honest and tell you what the real situation is.  Don’t believe the myths and then wait to take action.  The TRUTH is we might be able to get you into your dream home sooner than you think.

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You Can Do It!! Part 2

July 21, 2015

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In my last post, we reviewed the fact that a high percentage of Americans want to own their own homes, and we looked at the first (“character”) of three primary criteria that lenders evaluate when underwriting loans.

The second important criteria you need to qualify for a mortgage is “capital.”  You must have some cash available to make a down payment.  The lender wants you to have some equity, some “skin in the game” when you purchase a new house; therefore, the requirement for a down payment.

But there are myths about down payments.  For example, a high percentage of recent survey respondents think that you must make a down payment of at least 20% to buy a house.  That is one big, FAT myth.  The TRUTH is that you can purchase a home with down payments as low as 3.5% for an FHA loan and 3% for a conventional loan.

Now keep in mind that, with conventional loans, larger down payments can earn you a better interest rate and a better premium on your mortgage insurance.  But you can obtain a mortgage with the low down payments mentioned above, you will just pay a little more for your lower down payment.

You will need to provide bank statements showing that you have the cash available for your down payment and the other cash you will need to close your loan – things like closing costs and prepaid escrow items.  In some cases, you may have to show “reserves,” extra cash available to cover future mortgage payments.

You can get these funds from your bank account, investment accounts, gifts from relatives, and, in some cases, you can borrow funds from retirement accounts (e.g., 401K).  Your Realtor can also negotiate for the home seller to contribute cash to help cover the closing costs and prepaids.

We’ll look at “capacity” and myths related to it in my next post.  But for now, if your credit score is 620 or higher, you have enough cash for a 3% or more down payment, and you want to buy a house, just remember, “You can do it!”  If you dream of owning your own home in the state of Georgia, give me a call and let’s discuss it.  Don’t believe the myths.  We might be able to get you into your dream home sooner than you think.

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You Can Do It!! Part 1

July 20, 2015

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A high percentage of Americans believe that owning your own home is a good thing.  A recent study of 2,000 adults showed that 65% of Americans believe that owning your own home is an accomplishment that would give them pride.  Another study from late 2014 showed that almost 90% of Americans wanted to own their own home.

As desirable as home ownership is in America, many people don’t investigate buying a home because they believe the many myths telling them that homeownership is not within their reach.  Let’s look at the truth here, and debunk some of those myths.

First of all, here’s a quick summary of what mortgage lenders look for when evaluating your loan application:  (1) character, (2) capital, and (3) capacity.  Some people call this this “the Three C’s.”  Let’s look at the myths regarding (1) character today.

When you obtain a loan, the lender wants to trust that you will have the character to repay the loan.  How do they measure your character?  They look at your credit score.  Your credit score serves as your track record, your history, of repaying your financial obligations.  Lenders believe your credit score serves as the strongest indicator of whether or not you will repay your mortgage.  Therefore, your credit score is very important to lenders.

Now for the credit score myth:  A high percentage of Americans believe that they must have a very good credit score to qualify for a mortgage.  What is a “good credit score” anyway?  I just ran an Internet search using “what is a good credit score?”  Answers I received ranged from 660 up to 720.

The truth is, you can get a home mortgage if your qualifying credit score is as low as 620.  The web sites I reviewed put a 620 score in the “poor” to “fair” categories.  The bottom line is you can still qualify for a mortgage when your credit score is “less than good.”

We’ll consider other mortgage myths in my next blog post.  But for now, if your credit score is 620 or higher, and you want to buy a house, just remember, “You can do it!”  If you dream of owning your own home in the state of Georgia, give me a call and let’s discuss it.  Don’t believe the myths.  We might be able to get you into your dream home sooner than you think.

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Creating a budget

October 23, 2014

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Here is another one of our educational videos. Today’s discussion involves creating a budget.

To contact any of us at Dunwoody Mortgage Services, click here!

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Loan Prequalification – Income

June 17, 2014

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Today is the third part of a four part series on the prequalification process. We started with credit scores, continued on to down payments, and today will focus on income. Generally speaking, I’ll divide income into three types – W-2 salaried employee, all other employment income, and other. We’ll start with the easy one.

W-2 salaried employees only need to provide pay stubs covering a 30 day period to qualify for a loan. Even if you just changed to a new job, as long as a 2 year continuous work history is established AND you have 30 days of pay stubs from the new job, you can qualify for the loan. Note that the loan process can start without the 30 days of pay stubs of pay stubs from the new job. Until the pay stub is available, an offer letter can be used for the initial underwriting of the loan.

What about “all other employment” income? Maybe the easiest way to separate the two is this… if you are a W-2 salaried employee working for a non-family member, 30 days of pay stubs are needed. If income from your job comes from anything else, chances are tax returns may be required. Examples would include W-2 employees who are employed by family member, rely on commission, or bonuses. The “all other” category would also include 1099 contract employees, full commission income, and self-employed borrowers. When tax returns are required, with today’s underwriting guidelines, you could not use year to date income to buy a home. The income that can be used is the amount filed on previous years tax returns. Since we are 2014, the tax returns for the years 2013 and 2012 could be used. In order to use income from 2014, those returns will need to be filed (meaning the earliest 2014 income can be used is the Spring of 2015).

The “other” category would include non-employment income such as social security, child support, alimony, investment income, retirement income, pensions, etc. Each of these are underwritten with different guidelines. Some of these, such as investment and retirement income, could have their own loan program. When planning to use income from a source other than current employment, definitely let your mortgage professional know.

I would be a great resource for the home buyer who is using income outside of the W-2 salaried category. For years, I would pre-underwrite my loan files prior to submitting them to underwriting. I know the differences between using investment income for buying a home versus the amount of investment assets that can be used for reserves. By knowing specifically what to look for when reviewing tax returns, bank statements, divorce settlements, etc., we should know prior to underwriting if there could be a problem with the loan. If you are buying in Georgia, contact me today to get going!

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The end of short sales?

November 8, 2012

Homes being sold as “short sales” have increased over the last few years. A short sale is when a bank agrees to sell a home for less than what is owed on the current mortgage. It has been a driving force for some homeowners to get out of an underwater situation on their current home.

What many people do not know is that going through a short sale could result in additional income on your taxes. Let me explain. If you sell a home for $100,000, but you owed $150,000, you will receive a 1099 showing “income to you” at $50,000. The debt is forgiven by the bank (in most cases) on a short sale, but the IRS views the difference as taxable income. Depending on your tax bracket, this could result in taxes owed in excess of $10,000.

This scenario has NOT been a problem since 2007. Homeowners selling their homes as a short sale property have not needed to report the difference as income on their tax returns. Why? The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act allows homeowners to be exempt from taxes on the difference between the purchase price and amount owned on a home when selling their homes as a short sale.

The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act expires at the end of the year. If it isn’t extended, homeowners will be required to file their taxes with the difference as taxable income. This will cut down on the number of short sales as homeowners may turn to foreclosure and/or bankruptcy.

It will be interesting to see how this works itself out between now and the end of the year.

If you are selling a home as a short sale, you need to work now to do whatever you can to ensure the home closes before the end of the year as their is no guarantee of an extension to this act.