Posts Tagged ‘should I refinance’

Furloughs, layoffs, and low rates

June 9, 2020

The Covid-19 virus created a = interesting dynamic in the housing market (and also for those looking to refinance). The impact on the economy helped push interest rates down to record/near record levels. Covid also caused unemployment to jump for record lows to around 15% (before improving some from the May jobs report).

This combination is interesting for home buyers and home owners. Yes, rates are low (super low). Yet millions of people considering a home loan find themselves either temporarily furloughed and/or laid off from their jobs. The income needed to qualify to take advantage of these super low rates is now missing.

How does one qualify when furloughed/returning to work. It is not as bad as one may think:

  • for those who received a temporary reduction in pay, an updated pay stub showing the new income. Also an updated verification of employment from HR stating the new pay. As long as the buyer still qualifies at the reduced pay, then no need to wait for their salary go back to normal.
  • for those who are furloughed, so far all that is being required is an updated pay stub showing normal income and documentation from HR (such as a letter or an updated Written Verification of Employment) stating the employee is no longer furloughed and back to work full time.
  • for those laid off and finding a new job, if the new job is a W2 salaried position, the first pay stub at the new job.

One doesn’t need to worry about a job gap at this time. When out of work for 6+ months, additional requirements could apply. Considering furloughs/lay offs began in mid March, we are well inside of the 6 month time frame for being unemployed.

I’ve even helped someone buy a home who was furloughed and the brought back to work at 75% of their normal salary. As long as one qualifies at the reduced level, we are good to go.

Two areas I did not touch on that are very important – self employed and those who took advantage of mortgage forbearance. My colleague Rodney Shaffer posted on these topics last month, and you can find those posts here (for self employed) and here (for forbearance).

Covid-19 causing problems for your home buying plans? Impacted by being furloughed, laid off, or a reduction in pay? This doesn’t mean buying a home in 2020 is no longer an option. Contact me today! If buying a home in the state of Georgia, we can run some numbers and see where everything stands. You may be able to buy a home faster than you think!

More changes due to Covid

April 21, 2020

I know… I know…. we’ve had our fill of Covid related news. I hear you! I know your head is probably spinning trying to keep up. Mine too! To compensate, let’s get straight to the point!

A post from earlier in April detailed changes in the mortgage industry. One of the changes focused on the increased scrutiny of continued employment due to many layoffs/furloughs throughout the country. Since the post, we’ve experienced more changes.

  • Year to Date Profit and Loss statements are often being required for self employed borrowers. This is to show stable income in the time of Covid.
  • Those getting temporary or permanent salary reductions can still qualify for a home loan. So long as we can show the updated income (pay stub reflecting the reduced pay), and the borrower still qualifies for the loan with the reduced pay, then we can proceed as normal.
  • Investment accounts had a mandatory manual reduction of 50% from the statement balance due to the losses in the stock market (if an investment account shows $200,000, then we could only use $100,000 toward the loan). With the rebound in stocks, the manual adjustment is now 30%.

While the entire experience right now can be frustrating, underwriting has shown some flexibility:

  • P&Ls: I had a client closing where half of their income is earned in the 4th quarter. If you took the first quarter earnings and multiplied by 4 to get a yearly total, the pace would be way off! I had my client compile a P&L from the first quarter in 2019 to compare it to year to date 2020 to show income is similar when compared to the same time last year. The loan was approved.
  • Normally when there is a reduction of income/hours, we need to show the reduction has been in place for a period of time (not just one pay period). Well, we have successfully closed clients after one pay period of the reduced pay so long as they still qualify for the loan with the reduced pay.
  • Updates are happening in relatively real time as the investment account requirement updated as market conditions improved.

I feel underwriting is trying to work with us during this tough time while still meeting the agency guidelines. I’ll work with my clients to present the best case for continued stability of income for those who are in the loan process and being impacted by the fallout from Covid.

Thinking of getting a home loan right now? Rates are still low for those looking to refinance… people are still out looking for homes to purchase. The housing market is still very active. Contact me today, and we can talk about how Covid will impact your ability to purchase a home (if any impact at all). If you are looking to get the loan on a property in the state of Georgia, I can gladly help you with the loan!

Covid-19 creating more changes in mortgage industry

April 2, 2020

Covid-19’s reach extends everywhere in the world. The scope of the impact is staggering. It seems like every day there is something new. Lets try and cover some of the impacts to the mortgage industry.

If you are tired of Covid coverage, then how about something completely unrelated. Who can resist watching hamsters eat burritos!

 Previous posts touched on how Covid impacts mortgage rates and changes for appraisals and foreclosures. Today, let’s touch on more changes.

  • Verification of Employment: there is no standard policy across the board right now. Just know with all of the furloughs and layoffs across the country, documenting continued paid employment is emphasized. This can range from providing additional pay stubs (even if the loan is already approved) to multiple verbal verifications of employment up to the closing date. One good thing is employers are allowed to be called on their mobile phones for these verbal verifications. This is a great change as many offices are closed and everyone is telecommuting.
  • Government loans experienced a change to qualifying credit scores. Most banks increased the minimum credit score for government loans (FHA, VA, USDA) from 580 to 660.
  • Some banks have put caps on the amount of equity that can be taken out during a cash out refinance. Not everyone has made this change. Those who implemented the cap set a limit of $50,000 maximum cash out.
  • Many banks stopped offering Jumbo loans (a Jumbo loan is a loan amount over $510,400).
  • Almost all banks offering non-Qualified Mortgages (non-QM) have stopped funding closings altogether. A non-QM loan is any loan not backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae (FHA/VA/USDA loans).
  • The CARES Act contained language and the option for home owners impacted by Covid to request loan forbearance on their mortgage payments from their loan servicers.

A forbearance is pretty much like deferring a student loan payment. Payments do not need to be made, but interest accrues. For example, let’s say the monthly interest on a mortgage payment is $750, and six mortgage payments are deferred. This means the principal balance of the home loan is increased by $4,500.

Who qualifies? It is designed for home owners who have been directly impacted by Covid. The forbearance provision isn’t really designed for people in this category. Given the increase to one’s principal balance, forbearance also isn’t something one should use unless desperately needed.

Do you qualify? There is so much misinformation out there, be careful when investigating. I cannot stress this enough. To see if you qualify, contact your loan servicer (who you make your mortgage payment to each month). They will let you know more about applying/qualifying.

So… that is a lot!… and that is only this week. Stay tuned as The Mortgage Blog will put up more information as things unfold.

Still looking to buy a home? People are still buying and selling real estate. Looking to take advantage of historically low interest rates? If the property is in Georgia, contact me today. In a few minutes, I can get you qualified and ready for your new home loan.

Made it this far? Need a laugh? Enjoy…

Mortgage rates all over the place

March 17, 2020

Based on the amount of calls and emails I’ve received, most of you know mortgage rates moved to historic lows in March. Rates also shot up about a full point during the middle of the month only to gain some ground back the following week.

What we are experiencing as a society with Covid-19 is unbelievable. All of us are being impacted in some way. There is enough commentary out there, so this blog will stick with what it tries to do best – impacts on the mortgage industry. Some of us are sick of the roller coaster ride with the markets.

Can we get off of this ride?!?

Again, it’s no secret rates are better. The mortgage industry is at an unprecedented level of refinancing home loans. This heavy loan volume is causing underwriting times to get longer than normal. Although purchase loans are not impacted as they get special access to an underwriter. Why? Purchase loans involve moving trucks and refinances do not. Purchases get priority.

So what is moving the markets? Well, it is a lot of things actually.

  • Covid-19: This is the easiest one to focus on because of the disruption to the economy of the world. Bad economic news is usually good news for mortgage rates. This is no exception. Covid-19 pushed stocks off of their all-time highs, and all of this money flowed into bonds pushing mortgage rates lower.
  • Covid-19 trend before cases in the US: International money flowed into US bonds in late 2019 and early 2020 as from an international stand point, there were fears of an economic slow-down. International investors began buying up our bonds and pushing rates slightly down. So the impact of Covid-19, while dramatic during March, was in play for the past several months.
  • Oil Wars: Saudi Arabia and Russia took off the gloves and went at each other. Russian didn’t want to cut back production to try and stabilize oil prices. Instead, Russia wants oil prices to go lower to hurt the US Shale industry (which needs higher oil prices to remain profitable). Since Russia decided to not play nice, Saudi Arabia is flooding the market with oil to gain back market share. Oil prices plunged. Part of the 2,000 point drop of the Dow on 3/9 was the start of the oil wars within OPEC.
  • The Federal Reserve: During the month of March, the Fed cut the Federal Funds rate to zero. With the Feds dramatically lowering rates, many people thought this would directly translate to mortgage rates. So far, it has not. The Federal Funds Rate lowers second mortgages/home equity lines. Mortgages rates are still determined by bond movement. When the Fed lowered rates the first time, mortgage rates actually increased. The second time mortgage rates improved from the previous week. Not because the Fed lowered rates but due to the Fed’s pledge to purchase bonds (specifically mortgage backed security bonds). Mortgage rates improved some after this announcement.

Where are as of this post? Mortgage rates are still low, but not as low as they have been over the past few weeks. Why?

  • Part of this is bond yields improving from their historic low (making mortgage rates worse).
  • Another part is rates were at historic lows in March; meaning, there is way more room for rates to get worse than better.
  • Lastly, the industry is pretty much at capacity and cannot handle more loan volume; meaning, banks are not being as aggressive with mortgage rates as they have more business than they can handle.

Where do we go from here? Who knows! Expect mortgage rates to stay low during market uncertainty, and the market is anything but “stable” right now! I also expect rates will improve back to where they were before the week of March 9th when rates unexpectedly got much worse. Beyond being back to historic low levels, I am not sure rates would improve much more unless things got exceedingly worse with the economy and/or the capacity issue within the mortgage industry subsides.

I am currently advising my clients if they are happy with the rate and the numbers make sense, let’s get going! It is much easier for mortgage rates to get worse than better given where rates currently sit. If unhappy, I am setting target rates to contact clients if/when rates move lower and it makes more sense to refinance.

Looking to refinance while rates are super low? If the home is in the state of Georgia, contact me today. In a short phone call, we can determine if the numbers make sense to refinance today, and if not, set a target rate for when rates improve.

Mortgage Interest Rates Continue Falling

February 18, 2020

Mortgage rates – already at near historic lows – continue to improve.  Current interest rates are basically a full percentage point lower than this time last year.  I’ve recently locked clients into rates lower than I’ve ever had the privilege of doing in my entire career as a loan officer.    

What factors allow rates to continue improving?  One key component is the continuing spread of Coronavirus and the fears related to this public health concern.  In times of fear and uncertainty, investors typically move money to less-risky investments.  Given the fear and uncertainty related to coronavirus, investors have recently been doing this very thing.  Investors have been putting more money into US government bonds.  This drives bond prices up and interest rates down.  The US 10 Year bond trended upward from August 2019 until December.  Since then, the interest rate on this bond has moved consistently downward.

Investors consider mortgage backed securities to have a risk profile similar to US government bonds, so mortgage interest rates have declined along with rates on government bonds.  So mortgage rates now sit very close to historic lows.

How long will these low rates last?  That requires a crystal ball and I don’t have one.  If health officials can control the coronavirus spread and ease public concerns, perhaps rates will start moving higher again.  But looming over the entire situation is the 2020 Presidential and Congressional elections, which could bring more uncertainty to offset any positive news on the coronavirus front.

The bottom line is this:  Home owners who purchased or refinanced in 2017, 2018, or the first half of 2019 may have a great opportunity now to lower their interest rate by refinancing.  And home owners with FHA loans a couple of years old may be able to refi to a conventional loan now and lower or eliminate their mortgage insurance premiums.  Some of my clients have lowered their monthly payments by over $200 a month.  One even lowered her payment by over $300 a month.  Did I just describe you or a friend you know?  If yes, call me (or tell your friend to call me) to discuss refinancing now, before rates start increasing.  Don’t miss out on potentially large savings.

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.

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.

Should I Refinance Now?

June 20, 2019

As recently reported in The Mortgage Blog, mortgage interest rates have dropped to their lowest level in over two years.  The last time rates were consistently this low was just before the 2016 Presidential election.  For people who purchased homes since then, it may make sense to refinance now.  So how do you decide if a refinance is right for you?

I read one article from a major think tank stating you should refinance for a rate that is a specific amount lower than your current rate.  I believe that is a bit simplistic and you should crunch numbers in more detail.  I recommend comparing the financial benefits against the cost of refinancing – the total amount you can save each month versus the refinance cost.

With a rate / term refi, you will save by lowering your monthly interest payments and, possibly, by lowering or eliminating private mortgage insurance (PMI) payments.  I recommend you focus on the dollar savings.  A 0.5% interest rate change on a $100,000 loan will save you much less per month than the same interest rate change on a $400,000 mortgage.  Eliminating or reducing PMI payments can provide significantly lower monthly payments.  To eliminate PMI, you must must have 20% equity.  Perhaps your home’s value has increased since you bought it.  You can capture this higher value as equity in the new loan using a new appraisal value.  If the appraisal shows you have greater equity, even if it’s less than 20%, you may see your PMI payment reduced, perhaps substantially.

How do I analyze the savings?  I estimate a new monthly payment based on the lower interest rate and potential PMI changes and compare this rate versus their current payment.  Then I divide the refi closing cost by the monthly savings to get a “break even” point.  If the monthly savings break even on the closing costs in three years or less, I typically recommend that the client pursue the refinance.  Why three years?  It seems most people have a general idea of their plans for the next three years or so.  Anything further than that becomes a little murkier.  I’m currently working with a client who has a $335,000 loan.  I estimate a refinance will save her $150 per month and will “break even” in about 22 months.  That seems like a wise financial move to me.

 

Another option to consider is a cash out refinance.  Is there a home project you want to do?  Perhaps a kitchen or bathroom renovation?  I have clients using their home equity and lower interest rates to take cash out for a project, and still have the same payment (or even a better payment) than they have now.

Do you know someone who bought a Georgia home in 2017 or 2018?  Ask them what they would do with an extra $100 per month.  Then refer them to me.  I’ll run the numbers to determine whether refinancing is a wise move.

 

Interest rates move lower

June 18, 2019

Interest rates/Mortgage rates (same thing) moved to a two year low earlier in the month. While rates have since rose a bit, they are much lower than the start of the year.

Rates are well over a half point better since the start of the year. This decrease is beneficial for two reasons. First, it is helpful for those out looking to buy a home right now. Let’s say someone was looking to get a loan for $250,000. With the improvement in rates, a buyer can now get a loan for $265,000 and have the same payment. More buying power!

The other is for existing home owners. The Chief Economist at Freddie Mac said with rates dipping below 4%, “there are over $2 trillion of outstanding residential loans eligible to be refinanced – meaning the majority of what was originated in 2018 is now eligible”

So… should I refinance? A couple of questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Did I purchase a home in 2018? If yes, then rates are definitely lower than when you bought. It would be worth looking into what a new payment could be with a lower rate.
  2. Are current 30 year fixed rates of at/below 4% better than a half a point or more than your current rate? If yes, then it is worth looking at the numbers.
  3. Considering taking some equity out for a home project? I am working with several clients doing a cash out refinance. With the drop in rates, these clients are getting a lower rate, cash out for home maintenance, and keeping a similar payment to what they are making now.

Do you fit into any of those questions? If yes, it might be time to review the numbers for a potential refinance. If you are a homeowner in the state of Georgia, contact me today! In a short phone call, we can decide if the time is right for a refinance. If rates aren’t low enough for it to make sense, we can set a target rate and I’ll contact you when rates move lower. It is that easy. If nothing else, it is worth inquiring to make sure you don’t miss out on this drop in mortgage rates!

Trade wars and mortgage rates

May 14, 2019

Last week was to be the culmination of negotiations between the US and China about a trade deal. Then came some finger pointing, blaming, and honestly tactics you see as negotiations come to an end. What is all of this doing to the market? I’m glad you asked!

Stocks were all over the place last week and this week… down 500 points to open one day only to rebound and finish the day flat… down a few hundred points… down over 600 points Monday… up 350 points as I write this post. Stocks are all over the map.

Brace yourselves!

Mortgage rates are in a similar position. The talk toward the end of the year (slowing economy, trade wars, bad economic news) pushed mortgage rates lower. In fact, rates are well over a half a point lower today than they were this time last year. The many months of tariffs and speculation pushed stocks lower and rates higher.

What happens with the trade negotiations:

  • If a trade deal is reached, one would expect stocks to rebound back to their all-time highs. Obviously this depends on the final details of the trade agreement, but overall expect to see rates get a little worse.
  • If both sides walk away from the negotiating table, then expect stocks to get worse and mortgage rates continue to improve.

What to do? If considering a refinance, this is a good time to move forward. Mortgage rates are as low as they’ve been in over a year. If considering a refinance to lower one’s rate OR take equity out of a home, there hasn’t been a better time in quite some time to do it. If you’ve been sitting on the fence about buying a home hoping rates could go lower, this angle is trickier. On the one hand, sure, mortgage rates could improve should trade negotiations fail. On the other hand, rates were much higher than they are now when stocks were at all-time highs. If a trade deal is finalized, we could see stocks jump back up to or surpass the all-time high. If that happens, expect mortgage rates to rise. It’s no coincidence that mortgage rates improved towards the end of 2018 as stock values fell. The same will happen should stocks take off again.

With rates sitting as low as they’ve been in over a year, now is the time to take advantage of them whether you are looking to purchase or refinance. If you are in need of a mortgage in the state of Georgia, contact me today. I can have you ready to move forward on a purchase or refinance is a little over 10 minutes. It’s that easy!