Have You Saved Enough for Closing Costs?

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There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that they need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that many loan programs allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan).

If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs.

Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:

“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage. These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

We’ve recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment.

Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services (insurance, search fees)
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting fees

Is there any way to avoid paying closing costs?

Work with your lender and real estate agent to see if there are any ways to decrease or defer your closing costs. There are no-closing mortgages available, but they end up costing you more in the end with a higher interest rate, or by wrapping the closing costs into the total cost of the mortgage (meaning you’ll end up paying interest on your closing costs).

Home buyers can also negotiate with the seller over who pays these fees. Sometimes the seller will agree to assume the buyer’s closing fees to get the deal finalized, which is known in the industry as ‘seller’s concession.’

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.

Why Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step

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In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

Student Loans = Higher Credit Scores

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According to a recent analysis by CoreLogic, Millennial renters (aged 20-34) who have student loan debt also have higher credit scores than those who do not have student loans.

This may come as a surprise, as there is so much talk about student loans burdening Millennials and holding them back from many milestones that previous generations have been able to achieve (i.e. homeownership, investing for retirement).

CoreLogic used the information provided on rental applications and the applicants’ credit history from credit bureaus to determine if there was a correlation between student loan debt and credit scores.

The analysis concluded that:

“Student loan debt did not prevent millennials from access to credit even though it may delay their homebuying decisions.”

In fact, those with a higher amount of debt actually had higher credit scores.

“Renters with student loan debt have higher average credit scores than those without; and those with higher debt amounts have higher average credit scores than those with lower student loan debt amounts.”

Bottom Line

Millennials are on pace to become the most educated generation in our nation’s history, with that comes a pretty big bill for education. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel:

“Despite the fact that student loan debt has grown into the nation’s second largest consumer debt, following mortgage, and has created a significant financial burden for millennials, it does not appear to prevent millennials from accessing credit.”

Want to speed up closings? 6 tips

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CHICAGO – Dec. 15, 2016 – Homebuyers anxious to move into their new house in a hurry may be discouraged to discover that the average time from contract to close is 50 days, according to Ellie Mae. But Realtors can help clients shorten that timeframe by encouraging a more focused home search and being proactive about paperwork, among other things.

An organized buying process is particularly important for relocation clients and customers who hope to sell one property before buying another. In both cases, buyers tend to be working against tight moving deadlines.

Tips to help buyers complete a transaction faster:

  • Get pre-approved, not just pre-qualified. A pre-qualification is just a quick conversation with a lender who may have only glanced at the borrower’s credit score. A pre-approval is a more thorough review of their credit history. A pre-approval “makes your offer look stronger,” says Adriana Mollica, a sales associate with Teles Properties in Beverly Hills, Calif. “It also minimizes any surprises that may delay or force a cancelation during escrow.”
  • Narrow down options. Buyers with have a long wish list of desired home features are rarely satisfied by the houses they see. Realtors should have a heart-to-heart talk if these buyers also hope to move in quickly and discuss whether their desires are plausible for the area and price range they’re searching in, says Michael Shaffer, broker-associate at LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwood Village, Colo. Buyers should narrow their wish list down to the top must-have features and look at only at homes that fit the criteria.
  • Look at homes that have lingered on the market. Homeowners who haven’t sold quickly enough are often the most motivated to negotiate a deal. Buyers should understand the leverage they have when making an offer on a home that has been on the market for a long time, but remember that “a long time” means different things in different various areas. “In some markets, that may be a week or two,” Shaffer says. “In others, it could be a year or more.”
  • Don’t make lowball offers. A strong offer doesn’t have to meet the full list price – but it may mean vowing to make a larger downpayment, offering up more earnest money or accepting an early closing date. Sellers who have a sense of commitment from a buyer may be more likely to accept an offer, particularly as the end of the year nears.
  • Waive contingencies – maybe. Contingency clauses notoriously spark delays, but buyers should weigh whether to give them up. Some contingencies may be worth fighting for. Clients shouldn’t suffer from buyer’s remorse later or land in financial trouble because they waived contingencies.
  • Put paperwork in order. Buyers should already have at least three months of bank statements, pay stubs and letters of explanation for any unusual expenses or financial gifts that are being applied toward a downpayment. Even with a pre-approval, buyers will need paperwork to finalize the transaction, and having it ready upfront could save time. “In most cases, things get held up because paperwork and information isn’t readily available,” says Raena Casteel of the Casteel Little Real Estate Group in Tucson, Ariz.

Source: “Got the Need for Speed? 10 Timely Tricks for Buying a Home in a Hurry,” realtor.com® (Dec. 12, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices?

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There are some who are calling for a decrease in home prices should mortgage interest rates begin to rise rapidly. Intuitively, this makes sense as the cost of a home is determined by the price of the home, plus the cost of financing that home. If mortgage interest rates increase, fewer people will be able to buy, and logic says prices will fall if demand decreases.

However, history shows us that this has not been the case the last four times mortgage interest rates dramatically increased.

Here is a graph showing what actually happened:

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices? | MyKCM

Last week, in an article titled “Higher Rates Don’t Mean Lower House Prices After All, theWall Street Journal revealed that a recent study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting Inc.found that:

“[P]rices weren’t especially sensitive to rising rates, particularly in the presence of other positive economic factors, such as strong job growth, rising wages and improving consumer confidence.”

Last week’s jobs report was strong and the Conference Board just reported that the Consumer Confidence Index was back to pre-recession levels.

Bottom Line

We will have to wait and see what happens as we move forward, but a decrease in home prices should rates go up is anything but guaranteed.

Why Are Mortgage Interest Rates Increasing?

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According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate jumped up to 3.94% last week. Interest rates had been hovering around 3.5% since June, and many are wondering why there has been such a significant increase so quickly.

Why did rates go up?

Whenever there is a presidential election, there is uncertainty in the markets as to who will win. One way that this is noticeable is through the actions of investors. As we get closer to the first Tuesday of November, many investors pull their funds from the more volatile and less predictive stock market and instead, choose to invest in Treasury Bonds.

When this happens, the interest rate on Treasury Bonds does not have to be as high to entice investors to buy them, so interest rates go down. Once the elections are over and a President has been elected, investors return to the stock market and other investments, leaving the Treasury to raise rates to make bonds more attractive again.

Simply put, the better the economy, the higher interest rates will go. For a more detailed explanation of the many factors that contribute to whether interest rates go up or down, you can follow this link to Investopedia.

The Good News

Even though rates are closer to 4% than they have been in nearly 6 months, they are still slightly below where we started 2016, at 3.97%.

The great news is that even at 4%, rates are still significantly lower than they have been over the last 4 decades, as you can see in the chart below.

Why Are Mortgage Interest Rates Increasing? | MyKCM

Any increase in interest rate will impact your monthly housing costs when you secure a mortgage to buy your home. A recent Wall Street Journal article points out that, “While still only roughly half the average over the past 45 years, according to Freddie Mac, the quick rise has lenders worried that home loans could become more expensive far sooner than anticipated.”

Tom Simons, a Senior Economist at Jefferies LLC, touched on another possible outcome for higher rates:

“First-time buyers look at the monthly total, at what they can afford, so if the mortgage is eaten up by a higher interest expense then there’s less left over for price, for the principal. Buyers will be shopping in a lower price bracket; thus demand could shift a bit.”

Bottom Line

Interest rates are impacted by many factors, and even though they have increased recently, rates would have to reach 9.1% for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

FHA found financial footing – ready for more buyers

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WASHINGTON – Nov. 16, 2016 – The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) latest actuarial report finds that it’s on firm financial footing after its reserves fell below federally mandated levels during the Great Recession. As a result, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) released a statement saying it’s on solid ground and a continued resource to help buyers secure their dream home.

Since the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) is on a steady financial trajectory, NAR “believes is an opportunity to make FHA’s low-downpayment mortgage option available to an even broader swath of borrowers.”

“The fund has indisputably found its footing,” says NAR President William E. Brown. “That’s good news for taxpayers, and a reflection of FHA’s sound stewardship. It’s clear from this report that FHA can continue taking responsible steps to manage their risk even as they take action to make homeownership more affordable for lower- and middle-income buyers.”

FHA’s MMIF is the pot of money that pays lenders if a homeowner defaults on his mortgage. FHA’s 2016 Annual Report Shows report found that the fund’s “seriously delinquent” rate is at a ten-year low, and the overall economic value of the fund increased by $3.8 billion.

Last year, the MMIF also achieved a capital reserve ratio higher than 2 percent, the minimum mandated reserve ratio under federal law; it now stands at 2.32 percent. It’s only the second time since 2008 that the MMIF exceeded the congressionally required threshold. FHA also reported a 3.2 percent reserve ratio for the “forward” program, which encompasses FHA’s non-Home Equity Conversion Mortgage portfolio.

NAR believes the report would have appeared even stronger if not for weaknesses in its reverse mortgage program – Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM.

In light of the MMIF’s increasingly good health, NAR is encouraging FHA to reduce mortgage insurance premiums to better reflect the risk in the marketplace and fulfill its mission of serving low- and moderate-income borrowers.

According to NAR, the 50-basis-point premium cut announced in January 2015 provided an annual savings of $900 for nearly 2 million FHA homeowners. A recent Federal Reserve study also found that the January 2015 reduction in mortgage insurance premiums had a quick and significant effect on FHA mortgage volume.

However, NAR also recommends additional changes to FHA’s lending program. One major recommendation: Eliminate the “life of loan” mortgage insurance that borrowers must continue to pay until the loan is extinguished or refinanced. Conventional mortgage products traditionally require mortgage insurance only a home reaches a specific level of equity, but FHA loans have no similar mortgage-loan-insurance cutoff date.

“FHA mortgages are an important option for buyers, but high premiums and lifetime insurance requirements can take that option right off the table,” Brown says. “By lowering premiums and eliminating life of loan mortgage insurance, FHA can expand on their work to serve a broad population of homebuyers. We look forward to working with them in the months ahead to bring these changes to light.”

© 2016 Florida Realtors®