What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 6, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on Case-Shiller home prices, construction spending, and consumer sentiment. Labor sector readings on private and public employment and the national unemployment rate were also released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

CaseShiller: Home Price Growth Approaches Record

Home price growth approached a record set in 2006 in August, but analysts said that affordability and the shortage of homes for sale could signal slower growth ahead. David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Index Committee, said that while home prices appeared to be “unstoppable,” signs of slowing momentum could signal the end of rapid home price growth.

Case-Shiller’s national home price index reported a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 6.10 percent as compared to July’s corresponding reading of 5.90 percent. The 20-City Index reading was 1.80 percent short of the record set in 2006. Seattle, Washington led home price growth with a reading of 13.20 percent year-over-year. Las Vegas, Nevada held second place with a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 8.60 percent and San Diego, California held third place in the 20-City Index with a reading of 7.80 percent.

While the West continued to post highest home price gains, some home price gains are leveling out. San Francisco, California, which posted double digit home price growth in recent years, posted 6.10 percent growth year-over-year and a negative reading of -0.10 percent in August as compared to July.

September construction spending rose due to public works projects and housing construction. This was good news as a shortage of available homes has daunted real estate sales in past months. Building more homes is the only solution to the ongoing shortage of homes for sale. Construction spending 4ose0.30 percent in September as compared to an expected reading of no change, which was based on August’s reading of 0.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported no change in the average rate of 3.94 percent. Average rates for a 15-year mortgage and a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were each two basis points higher at 3.27 percent and 3.23 percent respectively. Average discount points were 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types. The President is expected to announce the appointment of a new Federal Reserve Chair this week, which could impact interest rates either way.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 229,000 claims filed as compared to expectations of 235,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 234,000 new jobless claims. Private-sector employment grew by 235,000 jobs in October as compared to September’s reading of 110,000 new private-sector jobs.

The Commerce Department reported 261,000 new public and private-sector jobs in October. Analysts expected 325,000 new jobs, but September’s reading was adjusted to 18,000 new public and private sector jobs added. The national unemployment rate dipped to 4.10 percent as compared to an expected reading of 4.10 percent and September’s reading of 4.20 percent.

Consumer confidence grew to an index reading of 125.9 in October as compared to analysts’ expected reading of 121.3 and the prior month’s reading of 119.5.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 16, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included minutes of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September along with releases on inflation and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

FOMC Meeting Minutes Indicate December Rate Hike is No Sure Thing

According to minutes for the September 19 and 20 meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed has adopted a wait-and-see posture concerning a possible rate hike at December’s meeting. Although analysts previously indicated that additional rate hikes were expected by the end of 2017, the Fed chose not to raise the federal funds rate in September.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Impact Industrial Production

Hurricane damage was expected to slow industrial production in the short term. The impact of hurricane damage in Texas and Fl0rida are expected to be short term, but the full impact of the two hurricanes had not been fully assessed at the time of the FOMC meeting.

Labor and real GDP readings rose, but the year-over-year reading for inflation was lower than the two percent inflation rate set by the Fed as a positive economic indicator. The Fed’s dual mandate also includes achieving maximum employment as measured by the national unemployment rate. The Fed originally set a goal of 6.50 percent unemployment in the immediate aftermath of the recession, but the national unemployment rate has exceeded expectations and currently hovers near 4.30 percent. Strong labor markets help propel renters into housing markets as they have more confidence in maintaining long-term employment.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose last week. Freddie Mac reported an average rate of 3.91 percent, which was six basis points higher than for the previous week. Rates for a fifteen-year fixed rate mortgage also rose by six basis points to 3.21 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dipped two basis points to 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rates and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

New jobless claims fell to 243,000 as compared to expectations of 258,000 claims and the prior week’s reading of 260,000 first-time jobless claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims will also be released.

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream Home

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream HomeYou’ve scoured the new home listings, been to all the open houses and have finally found the home of your dreams. It is now time to draft an offer and begin the negotiation process. Below we’ll share four mistakes that you will want to avoid when making an offer on your dream home.

Mistake #1 – Not Working With A Professional

The first mistake that home buyers make is trying to buy a home without using the services of a real estate professional. Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and one where the seller and their agent are working hard to ensure they come out ahead. Having experienced representation on your side of the table ensures that you won’t be taken advantage of.

Mistake #2 – Skipping The Home Inspection

The second mistake – and one that is more common than you think – is skipping the home inspection. There are countless instances of home buyers thinking that the house looks great on the outside without realizing that there are issues with the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, inside the walls or some other area that’s tough to see. Having the house professionally inspected before tabling an offer ensures that issues are fixed up before the transaction is complete. Alternately, if you’re willing to move ahead regardless, you can ask for the price to be reduced as compensation.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Pre-Approved For Financing

The third mistake in our list is making an offer on a home without being pre-approved for the amount of mortgage financing you will need. Regardless of how good your credit is, the mortgage application process is one that can present challenges. Also, many home sellers will require evidence of financing pre-approval before accepting an offer, so it’s best to come prepared.

Mistake #4 – Taking On Other Debts

Once you’ve decided on the home you want to purchase, you will want to avoid taking on any other debts which can affect your credit score. Don’t buy a car, open any new credit cards or do anything else which will show up on your credit report. Once you are pre-approved for your mortgage, you’ll want to keep your credit as spotless as possible to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

If you’re prepared and clear-headed, the offer process will go smoothly and you’ll soon be moving into your dream home. When you’re ready to explore financing options, contact us today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 2, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included Case-Shiller’s Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and Freddie Mac ‘s weekly mortgage rates report. Weekly jobless claims and reports on inflation and core inflation were also released.

CaseShiller Home Prices Rise in July; New and Pending Home Sales Lower in August

According to Case-Shiller July Index reports, national home prices rose at a rate of 5.8

90 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to June’s reading of 5.80 percent. The top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index were Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Home prices are responding to high demand for homes and limited inventories of homes for sale. Although this trend has persisted in the last few years, lower readings for sales of new homes and pending home sales were lower in August. Analysts said this could indicate that home prices are topping out due to affordability and few homes for sale.

New home sales fell to 560,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in August as compared to July’s reading of 580,000 sales. While real estate pros and economists look to pending home sales as an indicator for future closings and mortgage originations, August’s reading slipped lower into negative territory with a reading of – 2.60 percent. July’s reading for pending home sales was – 0.80 percent.

Mortgage Rates Stay Flat, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported no change in average fixed mortgage rates. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.83 percent and 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates held steady at an average of 3.13 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.20 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 272,000 claims. Analysts expected 270,000 new jobless claims; 260,000 new claims were filed the prior week.

Inflation rose by 0.10 percent in August, which matched expectations and was lower than July’s growth rate of 0.30 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, was unchanged at 0.10 percent and fell short of expectations of 0.20 percent growth in August.

Consumer sentiment fell to an index reading of 95.10 percent and met analysts’ expectations based on August’s reading of 95.30

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending and labor-sector reports from ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate for September. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the WinterThe days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and the kids are back in school.  The question is – is your home ready? Break out your checklist and let’s run through five key maintenance tasks that will get your home prepared to face the winter.

Pack Up And Protect Your Outdoor Furniture

Unfortunately, the arrival of winter means that the patio has to be closed up for the season. It’s time to get chairs, tables and other furniture covered up or stored if you have space. The BBQ will also need to be covered or moved off to the shed or another dry area.

Get Your Windows Ready For Cold Weather

Next, take some time to inspect your windows for drafts, leaks and other issues. This can be as easy as shutting them tight on a windy day and using your senses to determine if any air is leaking in. Depending on where you live in the country, you might need to do some additional work on your windows to get them prepared for the cold.

Turn Down Your Garden, Plants And Flower Beds

Unless you have a garden full of robust, cold-loving plants, it’s likely that you will see most of them die off as we move from autumn into winter. Spend some time turning down your gardens and other areas. This can help to move nutrients into the soil where they’ll be ready to nourish new plants in the spring.

Check Your Furnace And Heating Ducts

If you haven’t used it in a few months, now is the time to fire up the furnace and check the home’s heating system. The last thing you want is to discover that your home isn’t heating on the first cold night!

Consider Giving The Roof And Gutters A Quick Inspection

Last but not least, don’t forget to check your roof for any damage or areas that might be prone to leaking. You will also want to check the gutters to ensure they are clear of debris. Keep in mind that this does involve climbing up a ladder and physically inspecting these areas. If you’re not good with heights or don’t own the proper equipment, don’t sweat it. Give a professional roofing team a call and have them handle the inspection instead.

The better your home is prepared for winter, the less likely you are to have a nasty surprise waiting for you in the spring. If you would rather upgrade or check out a newer home than try to winterize yours, contact your local real mortgage professional to get started.

Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart Strategies

Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart StrategiesAs with any loan or line of credit, there are benefits to getting your mortgage paid down. You’ll pay less in interest, potentially saving thousands over the repayment period. Moreover, you’ll own your home outright that much quicker.

Let’s explore four money-smart strategies that will help you to pay your mortgage off faster.

Start With The Obvious And Increase Your Payments

It won’t come as a surprise that one of the easiest ways to get your mortgage paid off is to increase the amount you put towards your monthly payments. Most lenders will allow you to place any extra funds directly against the outstanding loan amount or “principal.” This is very efficient as it avoids having to commit any additional funds to interest.

One trick that many families use is to round the payment amount up to the nearest hundred-dollar figure. For example, if your mortgage payment is $652.32, you would pay $700 instead. This might be an easy burden on your wallet but still amounts to an extra seven percent of your payment.

Accelerate Your Payment Schedule

Another way to get your mortgage paid off as quickly as possible is to accelerate how frequently you make payments. For example, if you are currently making payments on a monthly basis, you can switch to bi-weekly payments instead. This means that instead of 12 large payments per year, you’re making 26 smaller payments. However, your interest will still compound on a monthly basis which means that over time you’ll end up paying less in interest. Not all mortgage products support this, so it is best to check with your mortgage professional to ensure it is an option open to you.

Dedicate Your Tax Refund To Your Mortgage

If you receive a tax refund or other large sum of money, consider using it to pay your mortgage down further. This is an excellent use for a spare block of cash as it gets you one step closer to owning your home, free and clear.

Refinance Your Mortgage To A Shorter Term

Finally, one last strategy is to look at a shorter term for your mortgage. For example, if you started with a 30-year amortization, you can refinance down to a 15-year loan instead. This will require having access to significantly more money to place against your payment, so be sure to carefully budget for this additional cost.

These are just four of the many ways that you can get your mortgage loan paid off faster. For more information or to inquire about a mortgage for your next home, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to share additional strategies that can have you owning your dream home in no time.

How to Get a First Time Home Buyer FHA Loan

first time home buyer fha loan

Are you looking to own your part of the American dream? Want to have a place to call your own?

About 32% of all residential sales in 2016 were first-time home buyers.

Buying a home is a huge step in life. As a first-time home buyer, chances are you’ve already started the search for your perfect house. But before you can purchase a home, you’ll need a lender.

One loan to consider is the first time home buyer FHA loan. FHA loans are attractive because of the low down-payment requirement. These loans also offer more flexible qualification requirements.

Want to apply and get approved for the first time home buyer FHA loan? If so, keep reading! We’ll cover 3 tips that will increase your chances of getting approved.

1. Know What’s Affordable

As a buyer, your mantra should be to buy a home that’s financial comfortable for you. While you may want a huge home with a lot of land, being strapped for cash because of your mortgage payment isn’t ideal.

With FHA financing, your mortgage payment cannot be more than 31% of your monthly income.

Before you start shopping, know what you can afford. Use a mortgage payment calculator to combine your existing expenses with a home payment.

When determining your price point, ensure you have money to set aside. As a homeowner, there’s always the risk of appliances breaking. Your monthly budget should allow you to set money aside in an emergency fund.

2. Know & Improve Your Credit Score

As with any mortgage loan, your credit score impacts interest rates. It will also impact down payment percentages as well as loan amount.

FHA loans can be approved with a down payment as low as 3.5%. But, to get approved for this percentage, your credit needs to be above 580. A score of 579 and below requires a down payment of 10% or more.

Before applying for an FHA loan, be sure that your credit is in good standing. To maintain or improve your credit score:

  • Pay down credit card balances
  • Pay bills on time
  • Fix any errors
  • Clear up any collection accounts

Once you’ve applied for a loan, you’ll want to avoid applying for any other loans or lines of credit. Otherwise, your score will drop.

3. Save Towards a Down Payment

With the first time home buyer FHA loan, you’ll need to come to the table with a down payment. The amount will depend on the total cost of the home as well as the approved percentage.

As an FHA borrower, you can use various funds as part of your down payment. For example, you can use money from your savings account. Aside from your own money, you can also use funds from:

  • A state or local grant
  • Cash gifted from a family member or close friend
  • A charitable organization

With gifted funds, a letter must be provided. The letter has to state that there is no expectation of repayment. The letter must also disclose the nature of the relationship.

First Time Home Buyer FHA Loan: Wrap Up

The FHA first time home buyer loan is an attractive option. To best position yourself to get approved, follow the tips above.

Of course, you don’t want to go through the home buying process on your own. You’ll need a real estate agent to show homes. You’ll also need a lender who can help you throughout the mortgage loan process.

If you want a committed team of mortgage professionals, look no further than Benchmark Mortgage.

We’re experienced in FHA loans as well as VA, USDA, and conventional loans. As a first-time home buyer, we know how confusing the process can be.

Our team will make home buying easy!

Now’s your chance to start your American dream. Contact our team today to discuss your needs.

10 Documents Needed for a VA Loan (for Fast Approval!)

documents needed for a va loan

Getting approved for a loan is a stressful process. It often feels like the bank is digging into your personal life. Which they are, but for good reasons.

But the good reasons don’t assuage the need for more documents than you ever need for any other life situation. And while the VA loan process is less stringent than your typical loan process, it still requires a stack of papers.

If you can have your stack of papers ready before you even apply, the process will go that much faster. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the documents needed for a VA loan.

Scroll onward to read the list.

The Always Necessary Documents Needed for a VA Loan

While your record of service is probably stored in a filing system somewhere, your bank won’t have access to it. You need to prove you’re a U.S. Veteran with documentation.

Certificate of Eligibility

This certificate is the formal document declaring your loan entitlement. Most lenders can actually obtain this for you. But some won’t.

You can find the certificate of eligibility at the va.gov website.

Proof of Income

The bank needs to know you’re getting paid. If you’re not getting paid, you can’t pay your mortgage.

Find two-three months worth of paystubs. If you are self-employed, you may need more proof of income than two months as your income might not be the same month to month.

Estimated Monthly Debt

Your debt-to-income ratio is exactly how it sounds. It’s all your credit card and other loan debt you have to pay each month compared to your income each month.

If you have multiple credit cards, be sure to track down each one and find out how much you owe each month. And you will need to provide other debt information such as student loans, car payments, and child support.

Credit Report

Most people just authorize the bank to run a credit report. But if you’ve had multiple credit checks, you might want to take advantage of your free credit checks assigned to each person each year.

This will also show your current debt to the lender.

Recent Bank Statements

With online banking, you no longer need to go to the bank in person to get your bank statements. But be sure you print your statements and not the summary shown on your online banking first page.

It’s good to have the last six months of your bank statements in hand when applying for a loan.

W-2 Statements

Most lenders want to see your annual income as well. They do this because they want to know your income is steady.

W-2 statement will also clue a lender into whether you retain jobs. If they didn’t ask for W-2 statements, they would have to rely on your word or have to call around for employment references.

Not Always Necessary Documents Needed for a VA Loan

Only one document may not be necessary for a VA loan application. And that’s your bankruptcy history.

If you’ve never filed for bankruptcy, then this document isn’t necessary.

If you need a mortgage today gather your documents needed for a VA loan and apply now for our VA mortgage program.

How to Pay off a Mortgage in 10 Years

how to pay off a mortgage in 10 years

Purchasing a home is an exciting part of life. But, home ownership means taking on a lot of debt.

About 80% of home buyers choose a 30-year fixed rate loan. While 15-year loans are available, expanding the term of the loan means smaller monthly payments.

But, what most people don’t realize is that the longer the loan, the more interest you pay.

If you purchase a home for $250,000 with a 4.5 interest rate, you’ll pay more than $206,000 towards interest. As a homeowner, you want to pay your mortgage off as quickly as possible.

Looking for tips on how to pay off a mortgage in 10 years? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Continue reading for tips to paying off your mortgage quickly.

1. Purchase Wisely

The first step to paying off your mortgage early is to make a wise purchase.

Buying a home shouldn’t put you in a financial bind. Your mortgage should take up no more than 28% of your total monthly take home.

Set yourself up for success by buying a home that fits into your budget. Otherwise, the chances of paying off your mortgage early are slim.

2. Pay More Than the Minimum Monthly Payment

Your monthly payment is determined by the total loan amount as well as the interest rate. Other costs can also be wrapped into the mortgage including:

When making your payment, be sure to put extra money towards the principal amount. This money will go towards the loan without any going towards interest or escrow.

The extra principal amount will depend on the total value of the loan.

If you purchase a home at $200,000, you’ll want to put at least an extra $1,000 towards principal.

3. Pay Down Smaller Debts

If you’re wondering how to pay off a mortgage in 10 years, start focusing on other debt.

Chances are you pay other loans each month. If you have a car loan or credit card debt, pay them off quickly.

By paying off other loans, you’ll have more money to put towards your mortgage.

4. Cut Costs

To pay off your mortgage early, you’ll need to cut costs where possible.

Take a look at your spending habits. What services can you do without for a little while? Where can you spend less or not at all?

The average American spends more than $1,200 on cable each year. But this is just one way to save money. You can also:

  • Avoid eating out and cook all meals at home
  • Reduce cell phone bill
  • Spend less on clothing and shoes
  • Eliminate consumable habits like drinking and smoking

By cutting costs, the money you save can be put towards your principal mortgage balance.

How to Pay Off a Mortgage in 10 Years: Wrap Up

Paying off your mortgage early seems like a daunting task. But, with a little financial planning, you can achieve your goal.

The key is to set a budget, create a plan, and stick to it!

If you have any questions about mortgage loans or home buying, you’ll want to talk to a professional.

At Benchmark Mortgage, we have the expertise needed to guide you in the right direction. Contact our team today.

5 Secrets to Getting a Mortgage After Bankruptcy

mortgage after bankruptcy

If you’ve had to file for bankruptcy, you know how much of a toll it takes on your financial reputation. It can seem impossible to rebuild your credibility, and it’s easy to feel like you’d need a miracle to buy a new home.

The good news? You can still become a homeowner even if you’ve had to file for bankruptcy in the past. You just have to learn how.

We’ve put together 5 secrets to getting a mortgage after bankruptcy.

1. Wait

No matter what you filed under, you’re going to have to be patient before you can apply for another mortgage after bankruptcy.

The length of time you’ll have to wait varies. The most common period of time is around two years, which usually applies to anyone who filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, though, you’ll have to play the waiting game for 3 to 5 years instead.

2. Open New Credit Accounts

While you’re waiting, you can work towards making yourself a good investment for a bank or lender.

Step one should be to start rebuilding your credit score. It took a hit after you applied for bankruptcy, so you’ll need to build it back up before filling out any new applications.

It might seem counterintuitive to open new lines of credit, but you need to resurrect your credit score. While you’re at it, make sure you’re paying all of your bills on time and saving money for a down payment.

3. You Can Still Get An FHA Loan

An FHA loan is a great option for people who are applying for a mortgage after bankruptcy. Since it’s financed by the government, the restrictions aren’t nearly as strict as they are for a conventional loan.

It doesn’t require perfect credit, which makes it a perfect option in this situation. Plus, non-conventional credit like paying your rent on time will work in your favor.

If you haven’t been able to save a lot of money, don’t worry. With FHA loans, you only need to put 3.5% down.

4. Find A Conventional Mortgage With Low Money Down

One downside of FHA loans is that their interest rates tend to be a little bit higher. If that’s something you want to avoid, you can still apply for conventional mortgages.

Your credit has to be better to do this, but in some cases you can find conventional mortgage loans with low interest rates and low money down.

5. Apply For A USDA Loan In Rural Areas

If you’re looking to live in a rural community and don’t make a lot of money — think low-income or lower middle class — you can apply for a USDA loan.

If you can’t qualify for other loans, this option doesn’t require a lot of money down and is low-interest. In some cases, you might not even have to wait the full two years. That varies from person to person, though, so be sure to check what the guidelines are for your situation.

Are You Ready to Finance Your New Mortgage After Bankruptcy?

Our team of mortgage consultants is ready to help you navigate through this confusing process. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you bounce back and secure a mortgage for the house of your dreams.