Mythbusting: Understanding Mortgage Myths and Why They Shouldn’t Hold You Back

Mythbusting: Understanding Mortgage Myths and Why They Shouldn't Hold You BackWith the fluctuations in real estate and the increasing cost of home ownership, many people are entering the market with more trepidation these days. Fortunately, there are a number of myths associated with buying a home that may not adversely affect potential homebuyers. If you’re interested in purchasing a home but are unsure about whether it will get approved, here are a few things you may want to dispel.

No Approval With Less Than 20 Percent

While putting 20 percent down can help you avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance, this down payment percentage is still just a suggestion when it comes to mortgages. It’s necessary to put a certain percentage down and be able to drum up the money on your own, but if getting into the market is your priority, buying now may be worth the investment over time. It’s just important to remember that the cost of your monthly payment should be affordable for the long term.

Home Ownership Is Too Expensive

It’s certainly the case that the real estate market is always fluctuating and prices can go up or down, but generally speaking, a home will increase in value over time and that means your monthly payment will be something you can consider an investment. While monthly rent disappears as soon as the calendar month is over, the money you invest into a home month after month builds up your equity and ensures greater stability for your financial future.

You Must Have A Good Credit Report

While it will definitely help your mortgage application if you possess good credit, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker if you don’t. Each mortgage is assessed based on a combination of factors that can include your down payment amount and your debt-to-income ratio, so this means that if you have a higher down payment and a less impressive credit report, you can still be approved. It’s a good idea to pay your bills on time and get your debt down if you’re applying for a mortgage, but there are opportunities for potential buyers who have experienced credit issues.

Home ownership is an important dream for many people, and as a result, there are many myths associated with the mortgage process. However, even if you don’t have 20 percent down or perfect credit, there are still opportunities for improving your financial well-being and investing in a home. If you’re currently looking for a new home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Graduating Soon? Tips to Prepare You for Your First Mortgage

If you’ve recently graduated from college, or will be graduating soon, and plan to become a homeowner, you’re in a somewhat unique position. You’re about to embark on a great journey, but at the same time, you may also be taking on an awful lot of debt. That said, it is possible to successfully manage a high debt load if you’re careful.

So how can you make sure you can pay your mortgage, your student loans, and your mortgage expenses all without losing your mind? Here’s what you need to know.

Make Sure You Have An Emergency Fund

Managing a high debt load isn’t necessarily a challenge if you have a consistent income stream. But if interest rates rise on your adjustable rate mortgage, if your portfolio doesn’t do as well as expected, or if you lose your job, you may find yourself unable to pay your expenses without dipping into your savings. That’s why you’ll want to establish an emergency fund a spare supply of cash you can live on for 6 months or longer, if necessary.

Extra Cash At The End Of The Month? Attack High-Interest Debt

Mortgage rates are at a historical low right now, which makes now a great time to become a homeowner but if you’re going to carry a mortgage and student loans, you’ll need to be smart about how you repay your debts. High-interest rates can quickly add up and eventually crush you, which is why your debt with the highest interest rate should be your primary priority. This is most likely your student loan so if you have some extra money left over at the end of every month, put it toward your student loan first.

Never Roll Student Loans Into A Mortgage

Some young people seem to think that getting a mortgage is the answer to student debt. By rolling your student loans into a mortgage, you can worry about just one monthly payment instead of two. The problem with this thinking, though, is that your student loan is probably the size of the principal on a mortgage and you’ll have to stretch your loan term out farther in order to afford the monthly payments.

This means that you’ll pay more money in interest over the long term. Your mortgage loan is also a loan with more severe consequences for missing a payment. If you miss a number of mortgage payment, you could run the risk of losing your home but if you miss a student loan payment, there are lesser consequences. Paying off a student loan and a mortgage at the same time may seem like a daunting task, but it is possible.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 19, 2016

Housing news was boosted by the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, which posted its highest readings since July of 2002. In other news, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise the federal funds rate and Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a press conference. Mortgage rates rose and weekly jobless claims fell.

Home Builder Confidence Highest in 14 Years, Home Construction Lags

According to the National Association of Home Builders, builder confidence in housing market conditions reached its highest rate since 2002 in December. The NAHB Housing Market Index reading topped out at 70 as compared to November’s reading of 63. Analysts said that December’s high reading resulted from a post-election bump in builder confidence. While high builder confidence could bode well for supplies of new homes, construction rates continued to lag strong economic indicators such as low unemployment and high demand for homes. While builders gained confidence in current and projected housing market conditions, they continued to face shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Fed Raises Rate

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced it would raise the federal funds range by 0.25 percent to 0.50 to 0.75 percent. FOMC said strengthening job markets, lower unemployment and rising household spending supported the decision to raise the federal funds rate. Inflation, while below the Fed’s target of 2.00 percent, is gradually moving toward the Fed’s medium term goal. FOMC’s statement indicated that the Fed’s monetary policy would remain accommodative.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen held a press conference and cited “considerable progress” toward the Fed’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability as factors supporting the decision to raise the target federal funds range. Labor markets continue to improve; Chair Yellen said that the economy has added 180,000 jobs per month over the last three months. 15 million jobs have been added in the past seven years. Inflation is growing gradually, and the Fed expects to achieve its target inflation rate of 2.00 percent over the next two years.

Month-to-month consumer spending readings held steady at 0.20 percent growth. Core consumer price index data, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose from 0.10 percent to 0.20 percent in November.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates were higher last week, but Freddie Mac said that its survey data was collected before FOMC raised the federal funds rate. Analysts at Freddie Mac suggested a wait-and see position on rate forecasts due to the changing political climate. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 4.16 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 2.37 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.19 percent. Average discount points for fixed rate mortgages held steady at 0.50 percent and dipped to 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

New jobless claims were lower last week at 254,000 claims filed. Analysts had expected a reading of 250,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 258,000 new claims filed. Volatility in weekly readings for new jobless claims can be expected due to seasonal hiring and layoffs.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s economic releases include readings on new and previously-owned home sales, inflation and consumer sentiment. Readings for mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Buying a New Home? Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in Order

Buying a New Home? Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in OrderBuying a home is a significant expense. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time buyer or have experience. Unless you have a large pile of cash, you’ll need to ensure your finances are in order before closing. In this post we’ll explore four financial items you’ll want to check off before buying a new home.

Figure Out Your Current Monthly Budget

First, you’re going to want to sort out your monthly budget. If you’ve never done a budget before, start with something basic. Open up a spreadsheet or take out a piece of paper. Make two columns: ‘income’ and ‘expenses’. Fill in each column with the amounts that you make or spend each month. Bank, credit card and other statements can help with this process. It’s a good idea to go back at least 3 months to ensure you’re capturing your true spending.

Make A Debt Management Plan

Do you have any debts? If so, you’ll want to make a plan for how you’re going to manage these when you buy a new home. For example, you may have a car payment, student loans, a line of credit or credit card debt. Write down your debts, how much you owe and when payments are due. If any debts are due monthly, make sure you include those in your budget.

Keep in mind that your outstanding debts may impact your ability to borrow for a mortgage as well. If you plan on taking out a mortgage to pay for your new home, it’s best to get your debts figured out beforehand.

Understand All Your Real Estate Costs

Next, you’ll want to determine what all your real estate costs are going to be. If you’re not yet close to the bidding or closing process, this might be a bit challenging. But ask your real estate agent for a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for a home in your price range.

Set Up An Emergency Savings Cushion

Finally, you’ll want to set up a financial cushion in case of emergencies. It’s not much fun to think about, but losing a job or having a health event is possible. Most financial experts recommend having at least six months of expenses saved up. Of course, this is always easier said than done. What’s important is that you have at least some cash tucked away, just in case. If you can, save a bit extra each month or from each pay check and add to this emergency fund.

When you’re ready to buy a new home, a professional mortgage agent is your best bet for success. Reach out to us today and learn more about how affordable a new home in your community will be!

Not so Fast: 3 Reasons Why You Might Want to Avoid Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

Not so Fast: 3 Reasons Why You Might Want to Avoid Paying Off Your Mortgage EarlyThe burden of debt, especially when it comes to the high price tag of a home, can be a significant worry to many people. However, what many homeowners may not be aware of is that paying your mortgage off early can actually have a negative impact on your financial health. Whether you’ve recently come into money or you’re working hard to bump up your monthly mortgage payments, here are some reasons you may want to hold off on paying it off too quickly.

Creating A Credit History

It can certainly be a weight off your mind to pay down your mortgage if you inherit a substantial sum of money, but your monthly payment actually has the added benefit of positively impacting your credit history. While paying down debt may free up your mind to think about other things, the month-to-month payment of your mortgage will prove your reliability to a lender and enables you to take advantage of the tax breaks associated with consistent mortgage payments.

A Limited Disposable Income

It may be fulfilling to pay down your debt by foregoing some of your monthly expenditures, but a very strict budget can be very limiting. Forcing yourself to save money on a consistent basis and sticking with a budget are good in the long run, but cutting back on all the things you love in order to pay off more debt can make for unhappiness and added stress. It’s important to find a balance between paying down debt and enjoying life.

Extra Money To Invest

The feeling of being debt-free is a good one, but putting most of your money into your mortgage will likely leave you with nothing to invest or save. Many homeowners think that the savings will make up for the money that’s not being invested, but this is not necessarily the case. According to Elle Kaplan, CEO of LexION Capital Management, “A smart investment plan is very likely to outmatch any savings you’d get from paying off a home early.” Instead of putting all your funds into your mortgage, set some aside for saving and investing.

Many homebuyers think it’s a good financial move to pay down their mortgage early, but it can actually be better for your credit and bank balance to make consistent payments and start investing early. If you’re currently in the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Self-Employed? Here’s What You’ll Need to Get a Mortgage Approval

Self-Employed? Here's What You'll Need to Get a Mortgage ApprovalThere’s a lot of flexibility and personal freedom associated with self-employment that can be a great benefit to your lifestyle and your pocketbook. However, because of the somewhat unpredictable nature of self-employment, it can make acquiring a mortgage a little more difficult. If you’ve recently become self-employed or have been in the game for a while, here are some things you may want to consider before submitting your mortgage application.

Putting More Money Down

20% is often considered the magic number when it comes to the down payment because this will allow you to avoid homeowner’s insurance. However, if you’re self-employed, you may want to consider putting even more money down as this will be an even stronger signifier to lenders that you’re prepared for homeownership and in control of your finances. While your down payment will provide you with equity instantly, a higher payment will also lower your monthly cost and make your finances even more secure from month to month.

Minimizing Your Debt

The amount of debt a potential homeowner has can adversely affect any mortgage application, but in the event you’re self-employed, a high debt load means even more money is being paid out of a salary that is not necessarily predictable. By paying off the debts you can before applying for your mortgage, you’ll be able to invest that much more of your hard-earned money into your monthly payment without breaking the bank and cutting monthly expenditures.

A History Of Self-Employment

Being self-employed means you’ll have more to prove to your lender, but if you have a spotty self-employment history and long periods without bringing in any income, this will make it even harder. Instead of jumping into the mortgage market soon after becoming self-employed, try and have at least two years of successful self-employment behind you. By being able to prove this, the lender will see that you’re a solid financial bet and an experienced professional who will be able to find work when it’s required.

The nature of being self-employed and the fluctuations in income that can come along with it can make a mortgage lender nervous. However, by having a solid history of self-employment behind you and minimizing your debt load, you’ll be able to prove to the lender that you’re serious about home ownership. If you’re currently perusing the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Winter’s Coming: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other Landscaping

Winter's Coming: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other LandscapingFrom the approaching holiday season to the New Year, there are a lot of things to prepare for when it comes to the winter. It’s important, though, not to forget about the needs of your lawn for the upcoming cold season. If you’re wondering how to ready your trees, your plants and your yard, here are some tips for saving your vegetation until the springtime.

Fertilize For Grass Growth

It might seem like a waste of time to fertilize your grass going into the winter months, but this is actually the perfect time to prep it for spring. As fertilizer will provide much-needed nutrients to the grass in the months when there is less growth, it will actually stimulate improved growth down the road. It’s just important to ensure that you provide a consistent amount of fertilizer so a patchy-looking yard can be avoided. Since weeds scale back in winter, like most other varieties of plants, it can also be an ideal time to apply a herbicide.

Garden Plants And Perennials

While plant maintenance duties like pruning can be done in the spring or fall months, it can actually be a better idea to give your plants the summer months to grow before diving in. Cutting them back will enable the plant to focus its energy on maintenance through the cold winter months, so it’s a good idea to get to work in before the first signs of cooler air set in. If you happen to have plants that won’t last through the winter, you’ll want to compost them so they can be used for soil in the next gardening season.

Clearing Away The Wood

Beyond the garden and the lawn, it’s also worthwhile to provide a little care for your favorite trees before the winter hits. While you’ll want to be cautious about what you do and may want to consult with a gardening professional, clearing away dead branches can help your tree retain its health throughout the year. You may notice the difference in your trees when the spring rolls around again, as they’ll likely have a revitalized look and show signs of new growth.

Winter is a busy time for many people, but it’s important to make the time to fertilize your grass and prune your perennials so your yard will be ready for spring.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 12, 2016

As 2017 winds down, analysts are forecasting economic developments for 2017. Forbes identified three indicators that the U.S. housing market has recovered. Mortgage rates rose again last week; jobless claims fell and consumer sentiment jumped rose five points. The details:

Housing Market Recovery Complete: Forbes

Three conditions were cited by Forbes as evidence that the housing market has recovered:

Analysts said that homeowners are putting their homes on the market after years of waiting for home prices to peak. On the flip side, mortgage rates are expected to rise further and home buyers may be taking a “now or never” plunge into buying homes before market conditions and mortgage rates combine to make home prices unaffordable.

The Federal Reserve reported that U.S. mortgage debt increased by 1.90 percent in Q3 2016; this was the highest growth rate for mortgage debt since Q3 2008. While population growth and household formation are lower, the overall ratio of mortgage debt to disposable income is near historically low levels. Stricter mortgage qualification standards are keeping home buyers from borrowing mortgage loans that they can’t repay.

After years of high demand for short supplies of available homes, home builders are ramping up construction. Housing starts rose by 25 percent in October and matched construction rates not seen since mid-2007.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Dip

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 4.13 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.36 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also rose by two basis points to 3.17 percent.

New jobless claims fell last week to 258,000 new claims, which matched expectations and was lower than the prior week’s reading of 268,000 new claims. Job openings held steady in October with a reading of 5.50 million.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s economic calendar includes readings on retail sales and inflation along with the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee Statement and a press conference by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index will be released in addition to Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Home Equity Tips: 3 Upgrades That Will Make Your House Worth More When You Sell

Home Equity Tips: 3 Upgrades That Will Make Your House Worth More When You SellIt’s likely that your house is your biggest asset, so when it comes time to sell it you’ll want to do everything you can to maximize your profit. Good news the value of your home isn’t solely determined by the market, there are several ways in which you can increase its value by making upgrades before listing.

Let’s take a look at 3 top upgrades that will make your house worth more when you sell.

1. Make It Profitable

Not surprisingly, the number one way in which you can increase the value of your home is to add an income suite within the property. If your home has potential to earn buyers’ money it will inevitably be more valuable than a property that doesn’t have any potential cash flow for the owner. Whether it’s a basement suite or a floor that’s been made into a separate unit, income units are a huge bonus for buyers. Making money while paying off their home would be a dream come true for most people, and it’s a dream that buyers are willing to pay a high price for.

2. Kitchen Is Key

Kitchens are often the first area to become dated or worn out within a home, and they’re the most important part of the house when it comes to valuation. Make sure that your cabinets and countertops are updated before selling, and modernize the design with neutral fixtures that are current yet adaptable to many tastes. Having a fresh kitchen shows both function and fashion to buyers. After all, no one wants to see rusty old appliances and dingy lights when walking into the focal point of a home.

3. Beautify The Bathrooms

Besides the kitchen, bathrooms are the second most important aspect of a home when it comes to valuation. Having multiple bathrooms within a home automatically increases its value significantly, especially if at least two have at least three pieces within them, containing at least a sink, toilet, and either a shower or bath. Ensuring that your bathrooms are leak-free, look meticulously clean, and have a modern design is a fantastic way to make sure that buyers will be impressed during an open house.

Bonus tip: if installing a new toilet, consider purchasing one that is eco-friendly with dual-flush options. As people become more and more environmentally conscious, fixtures such as these will cater to a broad spectrum of lifestyle values.

If you’re ready to prepare your home for sale and are looking for more ways in which you can maximize its market value, contact your local mortgage professional today.

5 Ways That a Mortgage Can Be a Huge Benefit to Your Financial Future

5 Ways That a Mortgage Can Be a Huge Benefit to Your Financial FutureFor many people, investing in a house is one of the most important purchases they will make in their lifetime. However, alongside having the comfort of your own home, there are many financial benefits associated with buying in. If you’re currently perusing the market for opportunities, here are some reasons to consider investing a little sooner.

Get Away From Inflation

If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, your interest rates will certainly fluctuate from time to time, but owning a home actually allows you to guard against the reality of inflation, which can be a significant burden as a renter. While the price of housing and apartment rentals can rise considerably with inflation, your monthly mortgage cost will be relatively fixed.

Hold On To More Of Your Money

Renting may be an easier financial obligation than home ownership, but the money you invest into a home each month contributes to your equity, and this is a benefit for your financial future. While rent money will be gone when the month is over, equity provides a consistent means of building wealth.

Buy At A Lower Price

The cost of home ownership may vary around the country, and while it’s certainly climbing in many urban centers, home prices are lower overall. This means that, instead of having to scrounge for a down payment, you’ll be able to invest a little less and maintain a better bank balance.

Cue The Tax Breaks

Many people hold off on home ownership because of the costs of property tax and maintenance, but there are financial boons outside of the money you invest. When tax time comes, you can receive tax deductions for costs like mortgage interest, property taxes and even private mortgage insurance that make buying in a little easier to bear.

Own A Rental Property

Whether you are a first-time buyer or you’ve delved into the market before, having a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood can also be an option, as this will enable you to rent it out and reap the financial rewards. While this may be a more feasible option later on in life, it can be a means of substantial additional income.

Many people hold off on owning a home because of all the associated costs, but it can be of benefit to buy into the market earlier to reap the financial rewards. If you are currently considering home ownership, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.