Posts Tagged ‘mortgage’

Is It Time to Refinance An FHA Mortgage?

October 11, 2019

As discussed previously, using an FHA loan to buy a home makes sense for home buyers with relatively low credit scores and limited down payment funds. FHA loans offer very attractive pricing for these home buyers.

Interest rates have now fallen to their lowest level in three years, so it may be time for current FHA mortgage holders to consider a conventional mortgage refinance. The interest rate savings may not be huge, but changing from FHA mortgage insurance to private mortgage insurance could bring significant financial benefits.

I’m working with a couple now (we’ll call them Jack and Diane) who bought their home in 2017.  At that time, their qualifying credit score was in the mid-600’s and they had just enough cash for the FHA minimum down payment.  This was an ideal scenario for an FHA mortgage.

Fast forward to 2019 – their credit scores have increased and home appreciation in their neighborhood has given them more equity.  A conventional loan now makes sense for their updated situation.  They can refinance to a new interest rate that is just 0.25% less than their current rate.  Normally such a small monthly savings, by itself, does not justify the cost of refinancing.

In addition to the interest rate savings, they will also save money every month with lower mortgage insurance payments.  Switching from their FHA loan to a conventional loan will lower the mortgage insurance monthly premiums by about $120.  Their total monthly savings equal $160, and their refinance has a break-even point of just over two years.  Considering the interest rate savings plus the mortgage insurance savings makes their refinance worthwhile.

An added benefit is that their new private mortgage insurance will cancel in a few years (unlike the FHA insurance which is permanent), increasing their monthly savings to about $200. So, Jack and Diane will realize this bonus savings in just a few years.

Ultimately, home buyers who used an FHA loan two or three years ago may reap big rewards from a conventional refinance now, assuming their property value has increased.

Ron moved into your neighborhood in the last three years or so. At the neighborhood Halloween party, ask Ron if he has heard of an FHA mortgage. If he replies, “Yes, that’s the type of loan I have,” ask him if he would like to lower his monthly payment.  Then connect Ron with me.  We will quickly determine whether moving to a conventional mortgage can help Ron financially.

American Homebuying Power Grows

September 26, 2019

Overall economic circumstances keep improving for potential homebuyers.  First American’s Real House Price Index (RHPI) shows that Americans’ homebuying power increased consistently from January through July 2019.  The index tracks single-family home price changes adjusted for mortgage interest rate changes and personal income changes.

Mortgage interest rates trended downward during the first half of 2019, and they are even lower now compared to mid-year.  First American reported mortgage rates in January were 4.5%, and rates moved into the 3’s over the summer.  Average household income increased over the same time period.

Decreasing mortgage rates combined with increasing household incomes provide a double boost to Americans’ home buying power.  The Index’s “house-buying power” for consumers increased roughly 10% from January through July.  According to First American’s Chief Economist, Mark Fleming, “House-buying power is at the highest it’s been since we began tracking it in 1991.”

That means now is a great time to buy a home!  Even though home prices have been increasing, the decrease in mortgage rates coupled with household income growth make right now the best time to buy a home in almost 30 years, based on the RHPI measures.

Do you have a Georgia friend who complains about a landlord who won’t fix problems?  Let them know that their homebuying power is stronger than it has been in decades, and connect them with me.  I’ll help them obtain the best home mortgage for their unique situation as quickly as possible.  I’ll help your friend take advantage of today’s really low mortgage rates before they increase to 2018 levels or even higher.  Together, we will fire their unresponsive landlord!

Millennial Home Ownership Survey

September 19, 2019

There are some interesting facts and observations in an August article documenting survey results from Millennial home buyers.  Here’s a link to the full study from lendedu.com.  1,000 people aged 23 to 38 participated in the survey.  Here are some survey results:

  • 58% of respondents say they own their own home.
  • 83% of these home owners obtained a mortgage to buy their home.
  • 75% of these mortgage holders obtained a FHA loan.
  • 16% is the average down payment percentage for the survey respondents.

To me, it is very surprising to me that such a high percentage of these home buyers used the FHA program, especially given the relatively high down payment percentage reported.  What I also find surprising is how the author treats FHA loans vis a vis the private mortgage insurance component of conventional mortgages.

Let’s look at the basics of FHA mortgage insurance (“MI”) vs. conventional (private) mortgage insurance (“PMI”).  FHA charges a 1.75% up-front MI.  On a $300,000 loan, that charge is $5,250.  Assuming a Millennial average 16% down payment, FHA charges a 0.80% monthly MI premium, which equals $200 per month.  And for this loan, the borrower must pay the monthly MI for 11 years.

For PMI on conventional loans, there is no up-front fee.  So our $300,000 mortgage holder is better off by $5,250 to start.  The PMI premium is based on the combination of down payment and the borrower’s credit score.  Let’s assume that a Millennial buyer (we’ll call her “Anna”) has a 680 credit score.  I calculate Anna’s monthly PMI premium at 0.26% or $65 per month.  In addition, the conventional loan PMI will cancel sooner than FHA MI, so Anna will pay conventional loan PMI for less than half the time she would pay FHA loan MI.

Summarizing this example, Anna with a 680 credit score would reap the following mortgage insurance benefits of choosing a conventional loan vs. FHA: (1) Anna saves $5,250 by not having the up-front FHA MI premium rolled into the loan amount; (2) Anna saves $135 per month with the lower PMI rate vs. the FHA MI rate; and (3) Anna stops making mortgage insurance payments way sooner.  And Anna’s PMI payment will be even lower if her credit score is in the 700’s.  From a mortgage insurance perspective, the conventional loan seems like a much better deal.

The author praises the use of FHA mortgages, then later makes the following statements about private mortgage insurance:

  • PMI should be avoided as it will usually cost the homeowner between 0.5% to 1% of the full mortgage amount….”
  • “…it is not great that so many are also paying for PMI as a result of less-than-optimal down payments…”

Such blanket negative statements about PMI concern me.  In our example, and many examples where the borrower has a strong credit score and can make a 10% or more down payment, the numbers often favor conventional loans.  FHA loans are often better when the borrower’s credit score is low or the borrower can only make a down payment of 10% or less.

The key lesson here is to consult a professional mortgage lender (I suggest that this guy for Georgia home buyers) to run the numbers for both FHA and conventional loans.  Then choose the best option given your circumstances.

Which Type of Mortgage To Use – Scenario 1

August 13, 2019

Now that everyone understands the basics of FHA and conventional loans, let’s do a buyer comparison. Both Jack and Diane want to purchase a $300,000 home. They both have $11,000 (3.7%) for the down payment and qualifying credit scores of 680 for Jack and 795 for Diane.

With Jack’s 680 credit score, his monthly payment for a conventional loan (principal, interest, and mortgage insurance “MI”) would be $1,820.82.  For a FHA loan, his payment would be $1,563.19. There’s no comparison. For Jack, the better deal is the FHA mortgage, even though it has the draw backs of the up-front mortgage insurance and the permanent monthly mortgage insurance payment.

With Diane’s 795 credit score, her monthly payment for a conventional loan would only be $1,582.61. Her FHA loan payment would be $1,542.47.  In this case, Diane is also better off, at least initially, with the FHA loan. One thing to keep in mind is the MI premium. If Diane chooses the FHA loan, that premium is permanent (assuming Congress does not change the law). If she chooses the conventional loan, the insurance will eventually be cancelled, dropping her payment to $1,442. The key question for Diane is, “How long will you stay in the home?” If less than 5 years, Diane’s best bet is the FHA loan. If longer than 5 years, Diane may want to consider the conventional loan.

Notice the FHA payments for these examples. They differ by only about $21 even though the credit scores are drastically different (680 versus 795). This shows why FHA is better for those making a purchase with lower credit scores. The buyer doesn’t see as steep of an increase in their payment.

In the next blog post, we will make the same comparison with a 10% down payment.

Does your friend Scott talk about buying a house?  Does he understand which loan program is best for him?  If not, have Scott contact me. We Dunwoody Mortgage professionals understand the details of these mortgage programs, and we coach our buyers to make the best decision given their circumstances.  Often, with a slight change to their home purchase situation (change of down payment, paying down a credit card balance, etc.), we can help our clients save money with a better interest rate or a lower mortgage insurance cost.  Home buyers should consider all options before buying, and Dunwoody Mortgage offers the service and knowledge to help home buyers make the best decision possible.

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!

Streamline Definition

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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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.

Condo Photo

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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Time to Refinance?

March 3, 2015

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In recent weeks, interest rates dropped to their lowest levels since May 2013, causing the refinance business to jump significantly.  Interest rates have climbed a bit since late January, but for some people, now is still a great time to refinance.  So how do you know if refinancing may help you?  If any of these conditions apply to you, you may want to consider refinancing:

  1. If you have a conforming loan (not FHA and not jumbo) and you can lower your rate by 0.5%.
  2. If you have a FHA loan obtained between 2010 and January, 2015 – even if you obtain a new FHA loan, FHA mortgage insurance premiums have declined significantly – this may lower your payment significantly.
  3. If you pay mortgage insurance on your home loan, you can look to refinance to a lower rate and possibly drop your insurance payment depending on how much your home has appreciated since you bought it.
  4. If you have a jumbo loan and can lower your rate by 0.25%.

To refinance you will incur closing costs.  Even if the closing costs are rolled into the loan balance you still ultimately pay those costs over time.  So you need to determine if your monthly savings is worth the closing costs you will pay.  We calculate your breakeven point in months by dividing your refinancing costs by the savings on your monthly payments.

You need to ensure that refinancing will benefit you financially.  Consider this question first…”How long do you plan to stay in this home?”  If your breakeven point is after you think you will move out of the home, it’s probably best for you not to refinance.  If your breakeven point comes before the date you think you will move, then you should consider refinancing.

Not sure if refinancing is a good option?  That’s OK.  Contact us here at Dunwoody Mortgage.  We will ask you a few questions, and then we can determine your monthly mortgage savings and calculate your breakeven point.  We can discuss your options and, if refinancing makes sense for you, we will pursue it and give you the best possible rate, competitive closing costs, and outstanding customer service.  You have nothing to lose.

Don’t miss this opportunity.  Call us now before rates go back up!!

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MMMM….Mortgage Cake

June 5, 2014

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When you are looking to buy a home, one primary consideration is, “What interest rate will I pay for my mortgage?”  I’ll borrow the saying “have your cake and eat it too” in order to explain.

Truth is mortgage interest rates fluctuate daily, and can change multiple times in a single day.  So when do you lock the rate? Now you’re faced with a dilemma and must ask yourself:

  • “If I don’t lock and rates go up, my monthly payment will be higher.”
  • “If I lock today and rates go down, I will miss the chance to have a lower monthly payment.”

This is one case in life – when working with the right lender – you can actually have your cake and eat it too!  Get out your fork and napkin while I explain.

The base layer of your cake is a quick description of a rate lock.  You lock the interest rate for the period of time you need to close on your home.  Options include 15, 30, 45 days, etc.

The next layer of your rate lock cake is the fact that when you lock, your interest rate will not increase even if market rates rise significantly before you close.  You are locked in and won’t pay more as long as you close within your lock window.  You’ve just addressed the first horn of your dilemma.

Now the sweet icing on your rate lock cake…some lenders, like the ones we at Dunwoody Mortgage represent, offer interest rate “float down” options.  If rates improve before you close, you can have the opportunity to “float down” to a lower mortgage interest rate at no cost to you – dilemma solved!!

Financing your new home purchase with Dunwoody Mortgage can protect you against rate increases and decreases. Your dilemma is solved as you don’t have to worry about when to lock OR what if rates improve!  If you are looking to buy a home in the state of Georgia, and want this kind of interest rate security, then give me a call.  I would love you help you have your cake and eat it too.

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refinance Q and A podcast

August 10, 2010

Interest rates are at historic lows and many home owners are looking to take advantage of these rates. So, did you refinanced your mortgage before rates dropped to their current levels? Are you considering refinancing your mortgage now?

If so, then this recent podcast I recorded might be helpful for you. Below is a brief transcript of the Q & A interview, but listen to the entire podcast for more of details on when to refinance and options that are available.

Q: When is a good time to refinance a mortgage?

A: There is no exact rule of thumb because it depends on a client’s specific situation. That said, once the interest rate is a half point lower than their current rate, it is worth the time to make a call to learn about available options.

Q: What factors should one consider when refinancing?

A: The primary determining factor will always be how long one plans to remain in the home. If a refinance could save you $200 a month BUT the break even point (closing costs / monthly savings) is 24 months AND you plan to move in a year, then the numbers indicate it might not make sense to refinance. I have found that most clients can safely estimate the next 3 years, so if the break even point is 36 months or less, people tend to move forward with the refinance.

Q: Please explain no closing cost loans?

A: In truth, no closing cost loans do not exist. There are always closing costs, it just depends on how one wants to pay them. Here are some of the options:
– pay closing costs at the table (only happened once in my career)
– roll closing costs into the loan amount (most common way to refinance)
– agree to a higher than market value interest rate and “pay no closing costs”

By agreeing to a higher interest rate, the lender will provide the funds to cover the closing costs for the refinance. The borrower may not pay for the closing costs at the closing table, but will pay more each month over the life of the loan because they agreed to a higher rate for the refinance. In some shape or form, the borrower will “pay” for closing costs – either up front OR every month they make a mortgage payment.

Q: Should one go with an ARM or Fixed mortgage?

A: The answer goes back to how long someone plans to stay in the home. ARMs are currently in the mid to low 3’s. If you only plan to stay in the home another, say 4 years, a 5 year ARM would be fixed for all the years this person plans to remain in the home and might be a better option (and today a better rate) than going with a fixed mortgage.

In short, answer the question “how long do you plan to remain in the home?” and it is easier to find the loan program that is best for you!

Q: Any loan programs available for home owners underwater on their mortgage?

A: Yes, the US government passed a bill called Making Homes Affordable for home owners who acquired their current mortgage prior to February 2009. There are some specific items a borrower must meet to qualify, but is a great program for those that do qualify. I’ve blogged about this loan program in the past, and will be glad to answer any questions about the Making Homes Affordable program.

For more information on getting prequalified to refinance your existing mortgage (if you are in Georgia), don’t hesitate to contact me!

Beware if your Adjustable Rate Mortgage is LIBOR Based!

May 26, 2010

Everyone has read it in the newspapers and heard it on the television, the debt and banking problems of Greece, Spain and Europe. Everyone wonders how it will affect the United States or more importantly, me! The affect has been positive on the United States mortgage rates because everyone is moving their money to US debt since it looks to be much more stable than European debt.

If you are a homeowner and enjoyed the wonderful low rate of an adjustable rate mortgage, be very careful. If your ARM is a LIBOR arm, all indications is your rate will be increasing very soon. The LIBOR is Europe’s equivalent of the Treasury. As the European banking system continues to struggle, the LIBOR will continue to increase to take into account the risk associated with the potential of default of debt. In the short-term, borrowing costs are climbing faster for European banks than American and the cost of insuring against default on debt issued by European financial firms is climbing.

The possibility exists this event could have significant upward pressure on the LIBOR rates which will result in you LIBOR based ARM to increase in the next adjustment period. If we have a catastrophic event occur in Europe’s banking system, it will significantly affect your LIBOR based ARM. Do miss out on the opportunity to refinance your home on a fixed rate mortgage while rates are low. A storm looks to be brewing in Europe that could affect your payment.