Posts Tagged ‘prequalify’

A good time to buy a home!

November 6, 2019

The holiday season is upon us! We are on the other side of Halloween, headed toward Thanksgiving and then the month full of holidays – December. Guess it is time to stop looking at homes…

Not true!

This time of year is a great to both sell a home and purchase a home. Here are some reasons why someone should consider purchasing a home now.

  • There is less competition on the market for sellers during this time of the year. The same is true for buyers as there are fewer people looking to buy a home.
  • This means both buyers and sellers are serious about making a real estate sale – no tire kickers this time of year. Everyone is buys with holiday planning and events.
  • Thinking spring market? Well, a lot of buyers and sellers are thinking the same thought. Meaning, by the time the new year rolls around, there will be plenty of more homes and buyers out – more competition on both sides.
  • Rates are still low. Mortgage rates are lower now than last year and close to their yearly lows of 2019.

On a personal note, I’ve personally purchased a few homes. The time I purchased during the holidays was easier than when I’ve looked and bought homes during the spring/early summer. Less inventory means a more focused search for finding a home. Fewer buyers meant the seller only had a few offers to consider instead of a dozen or more!

While the year is coming to an end, the housing market never really does end. It just keeps going and going. Now is a great time to get out there and find that home. If you are buying in the state of Georgia, contact me today. You can get prequalified in a few minutes, and a pre-approval in just a few more minutes. You’ll be ready to make an offer on a home in no time at all!

Home Affordability at its Highest Point in Years

November 1, 2019

According to a recent report by Black Knight, Inc., home affordability reached its best level in years in August 2019.  This follows a consistent decline in home affordability from late 2016 through late 2018.  Home affordability hit a nine-year low in November 2018, as mortgage rates rose to the 5% range.  At that time, the national home payment to income ratio rose to 23.7%.  According to Black Rock, this led to an extended slow down in home price growth.

Since November 2018, mortgage rate declines plus this slower home appreciation has greatly improved home affordability.  The national payment to income ratio has dropped to 20.7%.  This ratio means that the monthly principal and interest (P&I) payment on an average-priced home now requires only 20.7% of the national median income.

Put another way, interest rate declines between November 2018 and August 2019 has increased home buying power by about $46,000. In August 2019, a home buyer would pay the same P&I amount on a $246,000 home mortgage as she would have paid on a $200,000 home mortgage in November 2018.

On the other hand, I found websites and recent articles showing that Atlanta-area rents have risen around 4% in the preceding 12 months.  In short, owning a home in Atlanta has gotten more affordable while renting has gotten more expensive.

Do you rent your home in Georgia?  Has your rent increased making money tight?  Give me a call and let’s talk about mortgage affordability.  You don’t need perfect credit to buy a home, and you will need only a minimum 3% to 3.5% for your down payment.  (Military veterans can obtain VA loans with a 0% down payment.)  With the current low mortgage rates, you might be able to buy more home than you thought you could, for a lower monthly payment than you thought you would have to make.  And with buying a home, you will get the equity / wealth benefits from potential home appreciation.  It’s a GREAT time to buy a home in Georgia!!

Home equity reaches all time high

October 8, 2019

The amount of equity in US homes now exceeds the levels seen before the housing crash. Available equity in the US is just over $6 trillion, which is 25% higher than the peaks seen during the housing boom.

Black Knight Inc uses data and analytics to provide forecasts for the mortgage and real estate industries. Their surveys indicate just over half of home owners have rates at 0.750% or higher than current rates. The average home owner has $140,000 in equity in their homes.

Meaning… homeowners have enough equity to avoid PMI (or get rid of PMI if currently on their loan) and lower their monthly payment by moving to a better interest rate.

With rates at yearly lows, and lots of equity in homes, it is the right environment for a refinance. So… should you refinance?

The main question I ask clients is “how much longer do you plan to remain in the home?”

  • If the homeowner is looking to move in the near future, then it rarely makes sense to refinance.
  • If the monthly savings begins to exceed $100 per month and a break-even point is around 2-3 years, then a refinances begins to make more sense.

Another question I get is “when should I consider refinancing?” It is a great question, and my answer is simple… if the current interest rate is 0.500% or higher than your rate, then at least have a conversation.

Own a home in Georgia and your interest rate is at or over 4.500%? Wondering if now is a good time to refinance? Contact me today. In just a few minutes, we’ll put together some numbers to see if a refinance could make sense. A credit pull isn’t required for this conversation.

Mortgage rates are as low as they’ve been in a couple of years. There is more equity than ever in US homes. If you are planning on remaining in your home for 2+ years, now may be a great time for a refinance.

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.

Planning the move

September 10, 2019

At The Mortgage Blog, we talk often about making a plan for the mortgage. Today, let’s talk about a different type of plan – the move itself!

It makes perfect sense. I mean, we make plans to ensure the home loan goes smoothly. There is a plan for the home we look to buy (area of town, school districts, size of home, size of yard, etc.). I mean, why wouldn’t we tackle moving with the same concepts.

So here’s to planning the move! Where to begin? Let’s begin the same way we begin a home search, with a plan. Just like you’d sort potential homes by number of beds, baths, etc., let’s begin sorting our possessions into categories such as:

  • clothes
  • kitchen items
  • plates
  • glasses
  • decorative items
  • toys
  • important documents
  • toiletries
  • books

Looking at an entire house full of items is overwhelming. Sorting through each category becomes more manageable. With the categories in place, it makes the next step of sorting easier.

Once everything is sorted, it becomes obvious what to do with all of the possessions. Reviewing each category separately, you can begin to see what items you want to keep, what items to sell/donate/give away, and what items simply need to be recycled or thrown away.

The final step is to begin packing as soon as you are able to do so. Planning a summer move? Well, you don’t need winter clothes in the spring. Pack them up! Use the same logic for other items you don’t need access to all of the time. By getting a head start on packing, it will lessen the burden when it comes to packing up the entire house.

Still overwhelmed? Packing and organizing just isn’t your thing? No worries! Lots of people don’t like this stuff. If you want to consult a professional, how about Amber Blandford with Joyful Spaces. Amber owns and operates the professional organizing services provided by Joyful Spaces. When some people run screaming in fear of organizing, Amber feels a rush of joy! She’ll help you get going!

So there are some thoughts on planning a move. Still need to plan on how to pay for the home purchase? I’m always happy to help! Contact me today. If buying in the state of Georgia, I can get you prequalified in a few minutes and have you well on your way to making an offer on your new home!

Which Type of Mortgage To Use – Scenario 2

August 23, 2019

Now let’s change our buyer scenario. Both Jack and Diane want to make offers on a home, but this time they have 10% to put down. (Curious about a smaller down payment?  Take a look at the prior scenario with a 3.5% down payment.)  They still have the same 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 $1,514.30. For a FHA loan, his payment would be $1,452.29. Given Jack’s credit score – even with the 10% down payment – FHA still delivers a better price, even though FHA loans have the draw backs of the up-front MI and the permanent monthly MI (assuming Congress does not change the law).

In this scenario with Jack’s 10% down payment, the mortgage insurance falls off after 11 years (even if Congress doesn’t act). Meaning, the FHA loan becomes even more attractive now and into the future.

With Diane’s 795 credit score, her monthly payment for a conventional loan would only be $1,391.24. Her FHA loan payment would be $1,452.29. (Note that it is the same as Jack’s payment, even though Diane’s credit score is over 100 points better.) In this case, Diane can now save money by using the conventional loan. The conventional loan has the best pricing from the beginning, and it provides the PMI cancellation benefits mentioned in the previous post.

With this example, one can definitely see how FHA loans do not have the same impact when it comes to the interest rate, mortgage insurance, and monthly payment versus conventional loans. Even with such a large gap between the credit scores (680 versus 795), the payment on the FHA loan is the same.

Ultimately, every client situation is unique. For some borrower circumstances (e.g., self-employed, buying a condo, high debt to income ratio, etc.), we may recommend one loan option because the buyer has a better chance to win approval, even if the payment winds up being slightly higher.

Do you know someone planning to buy a home in Georgia?  If they have questions, connect them with me.  I love helping people understand their mortgage options and helping them determine the best approach to financing a home purchase.

More potential changes to FHA loans

August 6, 2019

I’ve thrown up a posts over the past couple of months (here and here) about potential changes for condo purchases using FHA loans. How about a change on FHA loans that is beneficial for everyone!

A new bill working its way through Congress would make mortgage insurance for FHA more like mortgage insurance for conventional loans.

Currently, FHA mortgage insurance is permanent unless the buyer makes a 10% down payment. When making a down payment as large as 10%, often buyers use a conventional loan. Maybe there is a case where someone still wants to do an FHA loan (for example, a foreclosure 3 years ago is OK on FHA loans but not OK for conventional loans), but often 10% down means a buyer is using a conventional loan for their purchase.

With FHA’s current permanent monthly mortgage insurance, it makes FHA loans much less competitive with conventional loans. The new bill looks to change this situation.

If passed, the bill would change the cancellation date on FHA mortgage insurance from “until the loan is paid in full” (meaning permanent for the life of the loan) to when the loan balance is 78% of the homes original value. Meaning, the mortgage insurance is no longer permanent.

The current set up with mortgage insurance on FHA loans really isn’t fair to the home buyer. They are way over charged paying mortgage insurance for the life of the loan, and the change could make FHA loans are more viable alternative for buyers making the minimum down payment on a home purchase.

Can’t decide if an FHA is right for you? Contact me and we’ll find out! If you are buying a home in the state of Georgia, I can also get you prequalified and ready to make an offer on your new home.

Flood insurance program extended

August 1, 2019

Not many people seem to agree on anything in D.C. right now, but there is one thing receiving praise from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and National Association of Realtors (NAR) – flood insurance.

Democrats and Republicans worked together to reauthorize flood insurance through most of 2024. The NAR President praised the bipartisan agreement to provide some stability for national flood insurance for years to come. A strong flood insurance program helps stabilize the housing market and provide affordable housing in areas at a higher risk of flood damage.

It wasn’t that long ago some people thought the flood insurance program wouldn’t receive more funding, and now we have five years authorized – an eternity in politics these days!

Flood insurance isn’t just for the coasts. Sure we think of places like Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans, but there are plenty of places in the metro Atlanta area in flood zones. Without this program, large areas of residential homes in the US would be at risk causing a housing shortage and creating more issues in the housing market (especially when it comes to affordability).

A job well done on a program impacting millions of families in the U.S.

Types of Mortgages – Conventional

July 30, 2019

Now let’s take a look at conventional mortgage details.  (Click here to review FHA loan details.  And here is a link to the Home Ready program changes.)

In general, conventional loans are less forgiving of credit issues than are FHA loans.  Conventional loans require longer wait times after derogatory credit events like foreclosure or bankruptcy.  And the borrower’s credit score has a much greater impact on conventional loan pricing versus FHA loans.  The lower one’s credit score, the higher the interest rate.  In some cases, a credit score 100 points lower could cause the borrower’s interest rate to increase by almost one percentage point.

Ultimately, this makes conventional mortgages less attractive to borrowers with lower credit scores and more attractive to those with higher credit scores.

Conventional loans do not require up-front mortgage insurance, but private mortgage insurance (“PMI”) is required for down payments less than 20%.  PMI rates vary based on the borrower’s credit score and down payment.  For the same loan amount, the monthly PMI will be dramatically different for a 690 credit score borrower making a 5% down payment vs. a 780 credit score borrower making a 15% down payment.  PMI is not permanent.  It automatically terminates when the borrower’s loan balance reaches 78% of the original contract price or appraised value (whichever is lower).  And, in certain circumstances, the borrower can request PMI cancellation prior to reaching the 78% threshold.

Borrowers can obtain a conventional loan with a minimum 3% down payment.  This often only makes sense when the borrower’s credit score is 720 or higher.  With a lower score, the PMI cost for a 3% down loan can get pretty expensive.  We often recommend that conventional buyers make a 5% or more down payment to keep PMI costs lower.

Another advantage of conventional loans is the maximum loan amount.  While FHA caps out at a purchase price of around $390,000 using the minimum down payment, conventional loans can go higher.  How much higher?  How about a $500,000 purchase price with a 3% down payment.  That is about 25% higher than the FHA maximum.

In the next posts, we will compare some hypothetical home buyer scenarios to determine which loan is best – conventional or FHA.  Do you know someone who wants to buy a Georgia home?  Please refer them to me.   We Dunwoody Mortgage professionals ask important questions to determine if we can help our clients make slight changes (down payment amount, paying down a credit card balance, etc.) that help them save money with a better interest rate and / or lower PMI premium.  We work hard to deliver excellent service and pricing to our customers, and our consistently positive reviews show our clients are pleased with our work.