Posts Tagged ‘mortgage rates’

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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Credit Reports and Qualifying for a Mortgage #1

October 5, 2016

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This news may shock you – mortgage underwriters actually look at a borrower’s credit report.  Notice I said, credit report, not credit score.  The score is only one component of the full report.

When we pull a credit report, the first thing we do review is the credit score.  If the score doesn’t qualify, there’s no need to spend time on the report details.  My lending guidelines state that minimum qualifying credit scores for my clients are:

  • 620 for FHA and VA loans.
  • 620 for conventional loans.

Mortgage credit scores are different from consumer credit scores people get from websites like credit karma.  Issues pertaining to past mortgages carry more weight on a mortgage score than a consumer score.  So your mortgage score may differ significantly from a consumer score given to you by a credit card company or a website.  I’ve had clients with mortgage scores higher than their consumer scores and other clients with scores less than their consumer scores.  You never know for sure until you actually pull the mortgage report.

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We look at scores from all three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experion, and Transunion.  We are required to use the borrower’s middle score for loan qualification.  And if there are multiple borrowers, then the lowest middle score is the score we use to qualify the application.  When I pull a report, if the score is less than 620, the client and I will discuss ways that they can improve their score, which may be simply waiting for their score to rise while they pay their bills on time, or contacting a credit counselor who might be able to help improve their score.

Regardless of how good the score is, I will look carefully at additional report details.  Sometimes these details can cause some underwriting questions or challenges, even if the score qualifies.  It’s usuaully best to deal with any credit questions proactively.

Home buyers deserve to know as early as possible whether they can realistically win loan approval.  There’s no need for them to waste their time or a Realtor’s time searching for a home when they cannot qualify for a mortgage.

We will review other key credit report details in future blog posts.  But for now, if you know someone looking to buy a home in Georgia, and this person may have a few “skeletons” in their “credit closet,” (hey Halloween is approaching!), refer them to me.  I’ll take the time to look at all the details, giving them the level of service they truly deserve.


 

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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 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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VA Jumbo Loans

April 25, 2016

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The VA program for jumbo loans is excellent.  A quick definition here – a jumbo loan in Georgia is defined as a loan with a principal amount of more than $417,000.

The first benefit is that you can get a VA jumbo loan with a lower down payment than a conventional jumbo loan.  The minimum down payment for a conventional jumbo is 10% of the total loan amount.  The minimum down payment for a VA jumbo is 5% of only the amount above the jumbo threshold of $417,000.

So if your veteran friend David wants to buy a house priced at $517,000, his minimum down payment options are (1) $51,700 for a conventional loan or (2) only $5,000 for a VA loan.

(Anybody else remember this catchy recruiting jingle from the early 1980’s?)

And veterans like David can get a VA jumbo loan with a credit score as low as 680.  Our minimum credit score for a conventional jumbo is 720.

Lastly, David can get a much lower interest rate on a VA jumbo – perhaps even ¾% lower than with a conventional loan.  Interest rates on VA jumbo loans are comparable to conventional non-jumbo mortgage rates.  So David will save a lot of money every month by obtaining a VA jumbo loan.

Note that VA jumbo loans still require paying the VA funding fee.  But even with the fee, VA jumbo mortgages are a great product – they make buying a house more affordable than most other jumbo loan alternatives.  If you are a veteran or if you know a veteran friend or family-member who wants to buy a high-priced home in Georgia, call or email me at Dunwoody Mortgage Services.  We can discuss loan options and help you obtain all the great VA loan benefits you have earned with your service.  We love serving military veterans.  Delivering great loans with excellent service is a small way that we can say “thank you” to those who have served.

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The Fed holds, but rates went up?!?

November 5, 2015

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The Federal Reserve announced last week that it would not raise the Federal Funding Rate (again), which keeps the rate near 0% as it has been for years now. Guess that means mortgage rates won’t rise.

Well, a funny thing happened since the Fed’s announcement. Mortgage rates have gotten worse. Say what?!? If the Feds didn’t increase rates, why are mortgage rates going higher?

The answer is this – the Federal Funding Rate does not determine mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are determined on the value of mortgage-backed securities. These are a type of bond that trade every day like stocks. Their values can go up (and lower mortgage rates), or their values can go down (and increase mortgage rates). If mortgage-backed security bonds have a dramatic shift during the day, just like the Dow can, then we may see mortgage rates change more than once a day.

This means mortgage rates, like stocks, are driven by the market and not by the Federal Funding Rate. Remember the Quantitative Easing (QE) program from a year or so ago? This was the Federal Reserve purchasing mortgage-backed security bonds to increase their value, and lower mortgage rates. The Fed attempted to influence the rate market, and it couldn’t do that by simply lowering the Federal Funding Rate.

So what does the Federal Funding Rate actually impact? Great question! The Federal Funding Rate impacts car loans, home equity lines, credit cards, etc…. not mortgage rates.

Remember, next time you hear a news article about “rates going up,” it may not have anything to do with mortgage rates. Those can increase at any time depending on the market. More questions? Contact me today and I can answer them for you. If you live in the state of Georgia, I can also help you purchase your new home!

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Relaxing Criteria for Condo Mortgages

June 19, 2015

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Considering buying a condo now?  Your timing is good then.  In recent months, mortgage market makers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have loosened the lending requirements for condo purchases.  You can buy a condo with a credit score as low as 620 and a down payment of 5% or more.

Understand that the underwriting process is still different for a condo purchase, but the standards are being relaxed now.  As with single family home purchasers, underwriters will review the credit score, available assets, income, and debt of condo purchasers.

In addition, underwriters review the financial stability of the complex in which the condo is being purchased.  Condo complexes assess HOA (home owners association) dues to fund expenses such as maintenance for buildings and common areas, utilities, insurance, reserves for replacing large items like roofs and parking lots, etc.  When the economic crisis hit, owners at many condo complexes became delinquent on their dues payments, causing financial difficulties for the complexes themselves.  In reaction to this, lenders imposed tighter restrictions on condo underwriting.  Now lenders are relaxing these standards.

When underwriting the condo complex, the lender will require documentation from the complex management as follows:

  1. A completed condo questionnaire reporting details about the complex.
  2. Current year HOA budget.
  3. Master insurance policy.

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Below are some key condo criteria that the underwriters consider.  The underwriters will likely deny your condo loan if the complex fails to meet any one of these items:

  1. At least 10% of the annual HOA budget set aside for reserves.
  2. No more than 10% of the units owned by a single individual or corporation.
  3. No more than 20% of the units used for commercial space.
  4. No more than 15% of the homeowners more than 60 days past due on their monthly HOA dues.

Bottom line, if you want to buy a condo in a well-managed complex that meets the above criteria, it has a good possibility of being approved; but it will require some extra work as compared to buying a single family home.  I have financed multiple condos in the last few months and we have not experienced any issues with underwriting.  If you are looking to buy a condo in Georgia, I can help you get started!

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Jumbo Loan Alternatives

May 28, 2015

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In my previous blog post, I reviewed recent home price increases and how they can lead to jumbo loans.  We also covered how jumbo loans typically have higher interest rates and down payment requirements as compared to conventional loans.

So what do you do if you need to borrow more than the $417,000 conventional loan limit and you don’t have enough cash to make the 20% down payment required for a jumbo loan?  Under certain circumstances, you can obtain a conventional first mortgage of up to $417,000 and then acquire a second mortgage for the remaining balance.  The second mortgage will have a higher interest rate than the first loan, but you may pay less in interest as compared to a jumbo loan.

Dunwoody Mortgage Services will only provide the first mortgage, but we have lending partners who work with us to deliver this type of secondary financing.  One key criterion is that the borrower must have an excellent credit score.  For example, one of our partner lenders can allow total liens (first plus second mortgage) of up to $750,000 when the borrower has a minimum 740 credit score.  This lender can allow total liens of up to about $917,000 when the borrower has a minimum 760 credit score.  In each case, the borrower must make a 10% down payment – less than the 20% down payment required for a jumbo loan.  But if your credit score is less than 740, you will not qualify.

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Clear as muddy water?  Here is an example to better explain.  Let’s assume (1) you have a 775 credit score, (2) you want to buy a house with a price of $835,000, and (3) you have $85,000 of available cash for a down payment.  So you must borrow $750,000 to buy the house.  To get a jumbo loan, you would have to have $167,000 in cash for the down payment.  And your interest rate (on the day I’m writing this) on your jumbo loan would be about ½ a point higher than a conventional loan rate.  But with only $85,000 available to you, the jumbo loan just won’t work.

But with the second loan strategy, you might be able to make an $85,000 down payment, obtain a first mortgage of $417,000 and a second mortgage of $333,000, bringing your total amount borrowed to $750,000.  Your interest rate (today) on the first mortgage would be about ½ a point lower than a jumbo rate, and you may be able to get a rate on the second loan that is comparable to the jumbo loan rate.

If you want to buy a more expensive home and you need to explore your financing options, give me a call at 770-634-0992.  Comparing different financing scenarios is just a part of the outstanding service we deliver to our customers every day.  I look forward to talking with you.

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Bigger Houses Equal Jumbo Loans

April 28, 2015

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I just read an interesting article by Nick Timiraos in the Wall Street Journal (click here to read the article).  The article focuses on a key reason why new home prices have increased in recent years – Americans are buying bigger new homes.  There were a few points that caught my attention:

  • More than half of the new home price increase in recent years is caused by changes in the size and quality of new homes.
  • Average new home sizes have increased while the size of the average American household has decreased.
  • Government policies (such as mortgage interest deductibility) may encourage the trend of larger new homes.
  • While new home prices have increased more than 100% since 1970, if you adjust for the home size, the price increase is only 23% after adjusting for inflation.

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As home prices rise, this pushes more buyers into the jumbo loan category.  So what is a jumbo loan, you ask?  A jumbo loan is defined by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a mortgage amount greater $417,000 in most areas of the country.  (The limit is higher in certain high-cost locations like Hawaii and Alaska.)  Our lenders will process jumbo loans in amounts up to three million dollars.

So what does it mean to you if you need a jumbo loan?  First of all it affects your down payment.  With conventional loans, lenders will allow you to put as little as 3% down on your purchase.  With jumbo loans, the minimum down payment is significantly larger.  Secondly, obtaining a jumbo loan often means that you pay a higher interest rate.  On the day I am writing this, with all other lending criteria being equal, the difference between a jumbo and conforming loan is about one half of one percent for one of our lenders.

So as are looking to move up to a larger home, remember the rules for a jumbo loan differ from those you had when obtaining your current conforming or FHA loan.  Give me a call to discuss your options and loan pricing.  And keep an eye out for my next blog post where I will discuss ways to stay within conforming loan limits to avoid the higher cost jumbo mortgages.

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