Archive for the ‘Mortgage’ Category

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Is Allowing Drive-by Appraisals Because Of COVID-19

April 3, 2020

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Is Allowing Drive-by Appraisals Because Of COVID-19The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has impacted every industry across the country. Many people are being asked to shelter in place and everyone has been asked to practice social distancing to try to curtail the spread of this deadly virus.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has asked both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to make some changes in the manner they conduct property appraisals and employment verification.

Shortly after the move by the FHFA, The Veteran’s Administration (VA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) followed suit by relaxing property appraisal requirements. Due to the unusual circumstances that are facing the country right now, these changes are necessary to keep people safe while minimizing the blow to the economy.

Exterior Inspection Appraisals

One of the critical parts that must happen during the purchase of a home is something called an appraisal. Typically, these appraisals involve an on-site inspection of the home, taking a close look at everything inside to try to make sure the price is as accurate as possible. Now, appraisals can be done on something that is called an exterior-only or “drive-by” basis. This means that appraisers might drive by to confirm that the property exists, but will not physically inspect it. 

In some cases, they might just use the computer, find comparable properties, and appraise it in this manner. This is normally referred to as a “desktop appraisal”. This is important for everyone, including those who are Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan borrowers.

Why Appraisals Are Needed Now

Even though fewer people may be currently looking at houses, there are other reasons why an appraisal might be necessary. Many people are looking for sources of emergency funding, particularly as hours get cut and people get laid off.

There are still bills that need to be paid, including utility bills and mortgages. Therefore, many people are looking at taking out a second mortgage as a source of immediate liquidity. Sometimes, an appraisal might be needed to make this happen.

Other Measures Are Being Taken By The FHFA

In addition to the notice about drive-by appraisals, the FHFA has also suspended any foreclosures and evictions in many cases. People who are facing hardship due to the pandemic can also apply for forbearance, which can take a lot of stress off of the shoulders of individuals and families.

If you have questions about your mortgage and financing options available to you during the Coronavirus pandemic, contact your trusted mortgage professional. They will be best able to analyze your personal situation and provide the most accurate feedback.

Building An Emergency Fund During An Emergency

April 1, 2020

Building An Emergency Fund During An EmergencyBy now, it should be apparent that this COVID-19 (Corona-virus) pandemic is going to be here for several months. It is already causing the market to plummet and is disrupting jobs all over the country. Many people who work as hourly employees (or are independent contractors) are starting to suffer. As people’s budgets start to feel the squeeze, this is exactly the time that people should be relying on an emergency fund; however, for those who don’t have one, it is time to start saving.

How To Create An Emergency Fund

Even though cash assistance from the government might be coming soon, this is not going to be enough to get people through the crisis. To start building an emergency fund, it is important to take a look at the regular income first. Try to figure out how many shifts are going to cut and estimate what money is left (unless you are a salaried employee).

After this, take a look at other possible sources of credit. Know the limits on the card and figure out to what extent these cards can be drawn out. If there is an income tax refund coming, plan for this; however, remember that the government might be behind.

Finally, try to cut spending where possible. Remember that vacations should be postponed, given travel restrictions. Most restaurants are going to close, so try to shop at the grocery store instead. Finally, consider asking the bank to put a stop on mortgage payments. These are all great ways to save immediate money.

Save What Is Left

Finally, after figuring out all of the expenses, subtract this from the expected monthly income over the next few months. Whatever is left should be socked away into an emergency fund. It is critical to have this fund put away in case a repair is needed on the house or if someone gets laid off. 

Other Ideas To Consider

Finally, while this is not advisable, people might be able to cut retirement contributions to help with the emergency fund. It is better to save for the future when possible, but this can help people save money in a pinch, if needed. Take these tips to heart over the next few months and build an emergency fund.

How To Retain Your Sanity While Working From Home

March 31, 2020

How To Retain Your Sanity While Working From HomeThere are a lot of people who enjoy working from home; however, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who are not used to working from home are forced into this new arrangement. It can be hard for individuals o stay focused when they are stuck in the environment at home. Particularly if the kids are home from school, it is easy to get distracted. Fortunately, there are a few ways people can retain their sanity as they work from home.

Get Into A Routine

One of the first steps people need to follow is to find a routine. It can be tempting to sleep in every day, procrastinate while watching TV, and take long breaks for meals; however, it is critical to remember that there is still a job to do. Try to wake up at the same time every day. Start work at a consistent hour. Take a consistent break for lunch. Finding a routine will make working from home feel more like a job than a vacation.

Take Advantage Of Technology

Even though working from home can feel lonely, it doesn’t have to be this way. With technology, it is easy for people to stay in touch with their partners from work. Use technology to talk to people. Check up on others and see how they are doing. Ask for help when it is needed. Communicate with multiple people at a time. This is incredibly important for those who work in a team. At the same time, those who typically work alone should make sure this doesn’t become a distraction. Talking to others can be a great way to break up the monotony of the day.

Learn Something New Every Day

Finally, take the time to learn something new! Those who no longer have a morning or evening commute are going to wind up with some extra free time on their hands. Take this opportunity to learn something new. Even though some people might feel like they are being forced to work from home, turn this situation into a positive one. use the extra time wisely and find a way to expand those horizons ever so slightly. Learning new skills can pay big dividends down the road.

Home Improvement Projects For The Quarantined

March 26, 2020

Home Improvement Projects For The QuarantinedIf you have paid attention to the news recently, you have probably heard about the coronavirus pandemic which also goes by the name COVID-19. Those who are exposed to the virus might be asked to place themselves in quarantine. Some states have even told their residents to shelter in place. While this infection has forced everyone to change the way they live their lives, there are still some home improvement projects you can tackle during quarantine to put your free time to use.

Jump On Spring Cleaning

One of the first home improvement projects people need to tackle is spring cleaning. Spring is right around the corner so it is time to sort through items that aren’t needed anymore. Start with the wardrobe closet and figure out what is going to be worn during the warmer months, what can be put into storage, and what can be donated. Then, move to the kitchen. Take a look at the drawers and see if there is anything that can be put away. Try to pull out the separators can clean the drawers as well. Finally, move to the living room and declutter anything that isn’t needed anymore. This is going to make the home feel more open, which is important during quarantine.

Repurpose A Room In The Home For A Gym

If you or your family are going to miss going to the gym, it is time to repurpose a room to act as an indoor space to exercise. Think about using the bonus room or basement as an athletic area. Furthermore, you can even save money on gym costs. Try to move chairs and coffee tables out of the way. If possible, put down some rubber flooring, an old mat, or even a few towels to prevent from staining the rug. If you are going to use a jump rope, make sure that nothing valuable is in the way. Try to shift items to make plenty of space for push-ups, sit-ups, jump rope, and free weights.

Home Improvement During Quarantine

It is important for people to follow the advice of medical professionals during the pandemic. Being quarantined is not an ideal situation, but these are only a few of many home improvement projects that can be accomplished during your time at home. 

Home Sales Are Spiking, Driven By Low Mortgage Rates

March 24, 2020

Home Sales Are Spiking, Driven By Low Mortgage RatesAccording to data from the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales increased by 3.6% in December 2019. That pace is the strongest month-over-month in almost two years, since February 2018. The sales figures were also up 10.8% from what they were in December 2018.

What’s behind this uptick? The biggest factor driving the surge in home sales is historically low mortgage interest rates. 

Plummeting Rates

During the last week of February 2020, mortgage rates fell to their lowest in three years and were hovering – just barely – above all-time lows. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was sitting at 3.45%, almost exactly one percentage point below the same week in 2019. Its lowest rate ever, 3.31%, was reached in November 2012 immediately following the recession.

Despite widespread uneasiness about the falling rates, this should come as no surprise. Mortgage rates typically follow the 10-year Treasury yield, and it’s been extremely volatile recently due to investor concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

Consumers are clamoring to take advantage of these low rates, particularly first-time homebuyers. New mortgage loan applications increased over 30% in December 2019 as compared to December 2018, while applications for refinancing rose a stunning 109%. 

Demand Is Outpacing Supply

Interestingly, this considerable spike in home sales comes at the same time as a national jump in median sales prices. January 2020’s median listing price was $299,995, a 3.4% year-over-year increase, and many large metropolitan markets saw increases of more than 10%.

With eager consumers applying for new mortgage loans at a dizzying pace, the supply of available homes simply can’t keep up. The number of previously-owned homes on the market decreased by 13.6% in January 2020 as compared to the year before, with some large cities experiencing decreases of over 14%. This is a classic case of supply and demand, and the current market is strongly favoring sellers.  

Looking Ahead

These upward home sales trends are predicted to continue throughout much of 2020, thanks to the “perfect storm” of incredibly low mortgage loan rates, a decreased supply of available homes, and an unemployment rate that’s settled into a 50-year low. 

If you’re in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

Paying Rent And Mortgages With A Credit Card

March 20, 2020

Using a credit card for mortgage or rent

When people purchase a house, they usually set up their mortgage payments as a direct draft out of a checking account. The same is typically true of rent payments; however, many people have wondered if there was another way to pay rent or mortgage. After all, there are credit cards out there that have fantastic rewards. It would be great to take advantage of these rewards by placing rent and mortgage payments on a card.

Sadly, there is no way to pay rent or mortgage with a credit card without a fee. There are bank interchange fees that would lead to a surcharge for banks and landlords. This prevents them from readily accepting credit cards without a fee. What if there was a better way?

Possibilities For Credit Card Payments

It is rare to find an apartment complex that accepts a credit card. It is even harder to find a bank that does this. It is helpful to ask about the different ways to pay rents and mortgages when talking to banks and landlords. It can be helpful to do the math on any fees that are charged and compare them to rewards. For example, if a credit card gives five percent cash back on rotating categories, it might be beneficial to take advantage of this five percent back and pay a two percent fee to use the card. This would still net three percent in savings.

Using Third-Party Payment Options

There are also third-party service providers that will allow someone to pay nearly any bill online with a debit or credit card. This includes rent and mortgage payments. These third-party sites still charge fees. Sometimes, it is a flat rate. Other times, it is a percentage of the total.

When To Use Credit And Debit Cards

The most appropriate time to use a credit or debit card to pay this bill is when a minimum spending requirement is needed to trigger a significant bonus. For example, if a card requires someone to spend $5,000 to trigger a bonus, it is easier to reach this number by using the card to pay rent. Otherwise, it is better to calculate the fee versus and points and see which option makes the most sense.

More Than 25% Of Millennial Homebuyers May Be Financially Unprepared

March 19, 2020

More Than 25% Of Millennial Homebuyers May Be Financially UnpreparedMillennials are the first generation in America that will probably not be able to do as well as their parents. In the United States, there is not as much upward mobility as there was in the past. What is the cause of this?

CNN reports that Millennials have more college degrees than their parents. They also have an enormous amount of student loan debt. Many millennials have lower-paying jobs than their parents had at the same age when adjusted for inflation. Spending patterns changed as well, due to the high cost of living.

Finding The Money

Saving is not easy. The net worth of Americans, who are from 18 to 35 years old, decreased by 34% since 1996. Even though millennials are financially savvy, the 2008 global financial crisis made it difficult to find jobs and made saving for many nearly impossible. Those who have been able to put aside some money in the last ten years are lucky if they have $8,000 in savings, which is the average for those millennials trying to save for a home purchase.

Soaring Home Prices

By 2018, the real estate market recovered from the 2008 collapse. In most American cities, housing prices are going up significantly. The home prices surpassed pre-crash levels and now continue to rise. Soaring home prices make buying a home very challenging.

What To Do?

For most millennials, the best choice is to continue to live with their parents and use the lower cost of living as an opportunity to put away enough money for the required down payment to buy a house. Many plan to live very frugally and to save for up to five years if they want to buy a home of their own.

For others, they are developing co-ownership plans, where millennials plan to share home buying with more than one person. In these deals, they become the landlord and the tenants of a multifamily property that they buy together.

The Math

The median home price in America is $226,800. First-time buyers, who qualify, can get FHA-backed mortgage financing with as little as 3.5% down. Still, that is $7,938 just for the down payment. There is also the need to have 2% to 5% of the loan amount for closing costs, which can add up to $10,943.

Financial prudence recommends having at least three months of living expenses in savings to cover any unexpected temporary emergencies, like losing a job. Add another $12,000 for this contingency. This means to safely buy a home at the median price, with a low-down-payment loan, a millennial may need to have as much as $30,881.

For conventional financing, with 20% down, the numbers are much higher. For that type of financing, a millennial needs about $66,432!

Summary

Millennials face significant challenges in homeownership that are unique to their generation. For these reasons, many are delaying homeownership for at least five years and living with their parents longer, to save more money, to make their dream of homeownership come true in the more distant future.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

The Long-Term Toll Of College Costs

March 12, 2020

The Long-Term Toll Of College CostsTaking out enormous student loans to get a college degree may be a terrible idea for some. The burden of paying off this debt can make it far more challenging to do other important things like buying a home.

Here are some common problems that come from taking out large student loans:

  • Not Worth It: The college degree may not help you land a high-paying job. Even high-paying jobs like being a dentist have extremely high educational costs as well. Aspiring dentists borrow, on average, over $500,000 to go to dental school and spend multiple decades paying it back.
  • Tuition Hyper-Inflation: Colleges and universities saw the easy money from student loans as a great reason to increase tuition. In many institutions, tuition increases, over the past 42 years, went out of control, especially for trade schools and private universities. College costs rose by 1,400% since 1978. That is five times more than the inflation rate over the same period.
  • OverBorrowing: The easy ability that students have in many cases to over-borrow for living expenses on top of college costs means that they take bigger loans than they need and wastefully spend the money.

In the olden days, they had a phrase for a person who sold themselves into a kind of work-slavery. They called these people “indentured servants.” By taking out student loan debt that may take decades to pay back, this is a form of indentured servitude, especially because it is difficult, if not impossible to get out of paying the student loans back. Even bankruptcy does not discharge student loan debt.

If your student loan goes into default, there is the possibility of a wage garnishment, which means up to 25% of your take-home pay will be deducted from your checks and used to pay off the student loan debt. This is like a modern version of being an indentured servant.

But You Need A College Degree To Succeed, Right?

For many, earning a college degree that teaches skills and knowledge, which help get a high-paying job, is a reasonable idea. However, not all degrees are equal in their influence over getting a job. Many degree certificates are not worth the paper they are printed on. Moreover, some do better than those who have degrees.

Conclusion

What do Bill Gates, Coco Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Rachel Ray, Mark Zuckerberg, Sean “Diddy” Combs, James Cameron, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, Larry Ellison, Ted Turner, and Wolfgang Puck all have in common? They all do NOT have a college degree and still became immensely successful. Many are billionaires, who simply started their businesses and did not have time to finish college, so they dropped out.

Before you saddle yourself with student debt for a huge portion of the rest of your life, think carefully about the ramifications. Then, if you must borrow, borrow as little as possible and make sure you get a degree that helps get a high-paying job.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

Wealthy Seniors Can Benefit From Jumbo Products

March 11, 2020

Wealthy Seniors Can Benefit From Jumbo ProductsIndividuals who own their homes with a considerable amount of equity should consider looking into proprietary jumbo reverse mortgages. These can be helpful tools that may allow seniors to either pay down an existing mortgage or fund their retirement. 

These tools are particularly helpful in areas of the country that have high property values, such as California and New York. In these states, jumbo reverse mortgages may provide seniors with up to $4 million in potential loan proceeds. These funds can be applied to a variety of possible purposes.

A Changing Thought Process Surrounding Reverse Mortgages

In the past, mentioning reverse mortgages was seen by many as an option of last resort; however, it seems like this reputation was largely gained because they were new and unfamiliar to most people. Over the past few years, financial experts have done a tremendous amount of research into reverse mortgages and have uncovered their potential to help someone’s financial portfolio.

There are numerous ways that reverse mortgages can help someone’s retirement portfolio ride the ups and downs of the market. Reverse mortgages can even be used to help someone postpone the claiming of Social Security benefits. 

A Potential Use Of Reverse Mortgages

One potential use of reverse mortgages follows a simple formula. The goal of this formula is to buy low and sell high. When the market goes up, draw on the retirement account for income. After all, the market is high, so shares of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are going to be at their greatest value.

When the market starts to drop, avoid using the assets in the retirement account. Wait for those assets to come back up before using them. During this time, it is better to use a reverse mortgage and draw on the equity in the home instead.

A Mountain Of Untapped Equity

Proprietary reverse mortgages are becoming more popular in locations that have high housing values. In these locations, retirees might be sitting on a large amount of equity and might not even know it. In these locations, jumbo reverse mortgages can help individuals and families who might be short in their incomes. For this reason, retirees should consider using a jumbo reverse mortgage to help cover their living expenses and long-term care needs.

If you are interested in refinancing your property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

Most Renters Are Paying Far More Than Their Landlord’s Mortgage

March 5, 2020

Most Renters Are Paying Far More Than Their Landlord's MortgageIn the overwhelming majority of the 50 largest cities across the U.S., monthly rent is more than the mortgage payment for single-family homes. In several cases, much more. 

Global answering service and chat support company Moneypenny compiled data from Zillow on median rent and mortgage payments from July 2014-July 2019.

In order to calculate the monthly mortgage payments, Moneypenny took the median home sale prices during the same time period and in the same major cities and then used nationally-average mortgage terms: 30-year fixed rate at 4% with approximately 6% down. 

Once the two figures — median monthly rent and median monthly mortgage — were calculated for each city, they were compared side-by-side. The data may surprise you. 

From Less Than Half To More Than Triple

In just seven of the 50 cities analyzed, tenants pay less rent than the owner’s mortgage payment each month. In 28 of the cities — well over half, tenants are paying more than 150% of their home’s mortgage. The city with the highest rent-to-mortgage ratio, Miami, shows that renters pay more than 300% of their landlord’s monthly mortgage payment on average.

Rounding out the top five are New York (276%); Riverside, California (231%); Boston (230%); and San Diego (221%). At the opposite end of the spectrum is New Orleans, where tenants pay just 49% of their home’s mortgage each month, followed by Richmond, Virginia (57%), and Kansas City, Missouri (82%). 

An interesting data point is that the median monthly mortgage payment in Miami is $720, while in New Orleans it’s $2,857. 

Not-Necessarily-For-Profit

While it makes perfect sense that rent prices in hot real estate markets are higher, some may still be surprised by the disparity between rental amounts and monthly mortgage payments. However, it’s important to note that even in the cities with the biggest gap, landlords are not necessarily pocketing the excess and enjoying a nice profit. While it’s certainly possible that they may be, homeowners are more likely putting some of that money back into the house in the form of improvements and maintenance, as well as setting some of it aside for large emergency repairs. 

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss financing options.