A Comprehensive Guide to FHA Mortgage Loans

A Comprehensive Guide to FHA Mortgage Loans | Woodland Park CO

Saving up for a large down payment on a residential home can be a financial challenge that prevents first-time homebuyers with minimal savings from ever becoming homeowners. Fortunately, government-backed Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans can help potential homebuyers who want a home but struggle to save or source a large down payment. In 2018, more than 80% of FHA loans made were to first-time homebuyers, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This guide will cover the advantages and disadvantages of using an FHA loan to purchase a home, how homebuyers can begin the process of researching and getting approved for these loans, and how you may be able to utilize and FHA loan for refinance purposes.

What is an FHA Loan?

An FHA loan is a home mortgage insured by the government - specifically, by the Federal Housing Administration. The term “FHA loan” is actually somewhat of a misnomer because the FHA doesn’t actually lend money to would-be homeowners. Rather, it ensures the loans made by private lenders. So while we’ll use the term “FHA loan” for simplicity, an “FHA-backed or insured loan” is more accurate.

An FHA loan aims to put homeownership within reach for many Americans who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a conventional, non-FHA-backed mortgage. You may be able to get an FHA loan with a lower credit score, lower down payment, and a higher debt-to-income ratio than you could have for a conventional mortgage.

Types of FHA Loans

FHA mortgage loans come in several different configurations depending on your age, assets, income, current home equity, needs, and circumstances.

Fixed-Rate Purchase Loan.

Also known as a 203b mortgage loan, this is the most popular type of FHA purchase loan. Terms can vary, but 15 and 30 years are the most common. Interest rates tend to be lower than comparable conventional mortgages. 203b mortgage loans can be used on one to four-family residential homes.

Adjustable-Rate Purchase Loan (ARM).

Under the Section 251 Adjustable Rate Mortgage Program, the FHA insures ARMs whose interest rates can rise by no more than one percentage point per year and no more than five percentage points over the full term. Borrowers receive notice of pending rate increases at least 25 days prior to the increase.

Condominium Loans.

Known as Section 234c loans, FHA-insured condominium loans are 30-year fixed-rate products that finance the purchase of individual condominium units within developments larger than four units. There’s no strict occupancy requirement, so borrowers can use FHA-backed condo loans to earn rental income. However, in any given development, at least 80% of FHA-insured loans must be made to owner-occupants.

Secure Refinance Loan.

FHA Secure Refinance loans are designed to help borrowers with conventional mortgage loans refinance into fixed-rate, FHA-backed mortgages. Delinquency is not necessarily disqualifying, though it must result from higher monthly payments on a conventional ARM. Non-delinquent borrowers can refinance any type of conventional loan. Standard qualification requirements apply, including steady income, acceptable credit rating, and reasonable debt-to-income ratios.

FHA Streamline Refinance Loan.

An FHA Streamline is a refinance option for homeowners with existing FHA mortgages. This program is “streamlined” because it doesn’t have many of the income and appraisal requirements that are included with standard refinance programs. As a result, the streamlined program provides homeowners with a quick, simple way to make their mortgage more affordable.

The FHA guidelines state that a streamline refinance must provide a benefit to the borrower by either lowering the interest rate or converting the loan from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate. The program also allows for higher loan-to-value ratios than many refinance programs, so borrowers who have little or no equity in their home are still eligible.

FHA Loan Requirements

FHA loan down payment

With the FHA, the minimum down payment depends on your credit score. With a credit score of 580 or higher, the minimum down payment is 3.5%. With a score of 500 to 579, the minimum down payment is 10%.

FHA debt-to-income requirements

Lenders pay attention to your debt-to-income ratio, regardless of the type of mortgage you get. The debt-to-income ratio, known as DTI, measures the percentage of your pretax income that you spend on monthly debt payments, including mortgage, credit cards, student loans, and other obligations. You can use a debt-to-income ratio calculator to figure out where you stand.

The FHA requires a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less, according to Brian Sullivan, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which runs the FHA.

FHA loan income requirements

There is no minimum or maximum salary you can earn that will qualify you for or prohibit you from getting an FHA-insured mortgage. However, you must:

Have at least two established credit accounts. Examples: a credit card and a car loan.

Not have delinquent federal debt or judgments tax-related or otherwise or debt associated with past FHA-insured mortgages.

Account for cash gifts that help with the down payment. These gifts must be verified in writing, signed and dated by the donor.

Checklist of Required FHA Loan Documents

Blank checklist with space for ticks on pad on office desk. Checklist for office worker, manager, businessman, chief on dark wooden background top view.

Individual mortgage lenders have different paperwork requirements. After all, they are different companies with different business models and procedures. But when it comes to FHA loans, there are certain documents borrowers must provide regardless of which mortgage company they are working with.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the government agency that manages this program: “The mortgage loan application package must contain all documentation that supports the lender’s decision to approve the loan.” This includes a wide variety of documents relating to the borrower’s financial situation, as well as those pertaining to the property being purchased.

Common FHA documents include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Loan Application
  • Form HUD-92900-A
  • SSN Verification
  • Credit Report
  • Verification of Employment
  • Tax Returns
  • Sales Contract
  • FHA Amendatory Clause
  • Real Estate Certification
  • Appraisal Report

It’s also worth noting that mortgage lenders cannot have borrowers sign blank documents to be “filled in later.” This is a violation of FHA documentation requirements and guidelines. The HUD handbook states this clearly enough: “Lenders may not have borrowers sign incomplete documents … or blank sheets of paper.” These reasons for this rule are fairly obvious — you need to know what you’re signing!

Pros and Cons of FHA Loans

Portrait Of Smiling Family Standing In Front Of Their Home

What are the advantages of an FHA loan?

One of the main advantages is that you don't need to make a very big down-payment (which can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price) for an FHA-insured loan. Most traditional loans require an initial payment of 20% of the property cost. College graduates, newlyweds, first-time homeowners and people with low income generally cannot afford a 20% down-payment.

Since an FHA-insured loan requires only a minimum cash investment, it is ideal for people who haven't been able to save enough money for the purchase. First-time home buyers and people who may have been denied for a conventional loan will definitely benefit from an FHA-insured loan. Also, if you can't apply for conventional loans because of bankruptcy or foreclosure, you may still be able to qualify for an FHA loan.

FHA loans are very popular since they allow greater flexibility in calculating payment ratios and household income. In general, to be eligible for an FHA loan, you must have a valid social security number, be a US resident, and old enough to get a mortgage in your state.

FHA loans - What's the catch?

First of all, the properties have to be appraised by an FHA-approved appraiser, and they must meet certain conditions. However, the biggest disadvantage is the mortgage insurance premium (MIP). There are two kinds of MIPS, and both are required: one is the upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP), which is financed into the mortgage (it increased from 1% to 1.75% in 2012), and the other is the annual MIP (which is actually paid monthly).

As of June 2013, mortgage insurance premiums must be paid for 11 years in loans which the original loan-to-value (LTV) is 90% or less. If the loan's starting balance is higher than 90% of the appraised value, the MIP will last the lifetime of a loan.

What are the disadvantages of an FHA loan?

Since an FHA has a very low down-payment (which can be as low as 3.5%), you will end up paying more interest than if you had a conventional loan with a 20% down-payment. This is a very important factor to consider when looking for a mortgage. If you are financially capable of paying 20% for a down-payment, then you should strongly consider opting for a conventional mortgage since it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Plus, on top of the 1.75% upfront that you'll have to pay in insurance, you can't cancel the annual mortgage insurance premium, like you could before June 2013. In contrast, conventional loans let you cancel the insurance policy when you have enough equity.

How does an FHA loan differ from a conventional mortgage?

An FHA loan is different from a conventional mortgage in important ways. A conventional mortgage is not insured by the FHA, so it’s harder for you to qualify if you’re not the type of ideal buyer lenders look for.

Some of the key differences between an FHA loan and a conventional mortgage include the following:

FHA loans have different down payment requirements. You can get an FHA loan with a down payment as low as 3.5%. Most conventional lenders require you to put at least 5% down, although a few lenders will let you get a mortgage with just 3% down.

You can get more down payment help with an FHA loan. The FHA permits financial gifts or down-payment assistance from an approved source to provide up to 100% of the down payment, while some conventional lenders restrict the amount of your down payment that can come from a gift.

You can qualify for an FHA loan with a lower credit score. Many lenders require credit scores of 640 or higher to obtain a loan, while the FHA allows loans with credit scores as low as 500.

FHA loans typically have lower interest rates. When interest rates are lower, your loan can cost less over time.

FHA loans have different insurance requirements. Borrowers who get an FHA loan must pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium and annual mortgage insurance premiums. With a conventional loan, private mortgage insurance is typically required if a borrower puts less than 20% down — but there’s just one premium paid on a monthly basis. There are also different rules for when you can stop paying insurance, and you usually have to pay insurance for longer with an FHA loan.

Sellers can help with closing costs for an FHA loan. The FHA allows home sellers to pay up to 6% of the closing costs for a loan. Many conventional lenders cap a seller’s contribution at 3% of closing costs, although some allow sellers to pay up to 6%.

Begin the application process.

If you believe you qualify for an FHA loan and are ready to apply, the first step is to get pre-approved with your lender of choice.

Get pre-approved for an FHA loan online now »

As you have read above there are many options to the versatile FHA loan. There are pros and cons of choosing an FHA mortgage. To help you navigate the FHA landscape and perhaps other loan options, we suggest you contact one of our mortgage advisors to answer all your questions. There is no fee nor obligation to do so. We are here to serve you and consult with you with complete transparency and your best interest in mind. Call us today!

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.

5 Things That Can Affect Your Housing Loan

housing loanEvery year, the number of new homeowners dwindles.

There are several reasons why. It could be due to outlying student debt or diminished general appeal. Or maybe it’s simply the daunting task of trying to get a housing loan.

Becoming eligible for a loan can seem difficult, but no home seeker should let that stop them. We’re here to help you learn the things that can affect the approval of your loan.

Let’s get into it.

Credit Score

Banks and other lenders will take a look at your credit score to know whether giving you a loan will be a risky investment on their part or not. The amount of income you make doesn’t have much of a say on this. You could make a lot of money and still have a bad credit score.

Your credit score can have an effect on how much of a loan you can get, as well as the interest rate.

Take some time to find out your own credit score before approaching any lenders. Be certain to check your credit report for errors or flaws. You don’t want any wrong information to affect your rates or chance to secure a loan.

Being Self-Employed Can Deny You a Housing Loan

Regardless of how much you make in a year through your self-employment endeavors, the fact remains that it can look poorly to banks and other lenders. Self-employment can look far too variable in their eyes and can make you seem like a risky investment.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this, but it is good to know about so that there aren’t any surprises coming your way.

A good thing would be to bring any pay stubs with you when meeting with your potential lenders. This could help you get a quicker approval.

Never Had a Loan

Strange as it may sound, sometimes being loan-free can be a bad thing. Because you’ve never taken a loan before, banks and other lenders can’t easily decide if you are a trustworthy client or not.

Are you the type of person to pay on time? They have no way of knowing and it’s likely they aren’t willing to take that risk.

One way around this predicament is to take out a small personal loan or credit card a year or two before. If you make the payments on time or are able to pay the loan back, you will build up your credit score and show banks that you can be trusted.

Debt to Income Ratio

A lot of the time, people will try to get a loan for far more than they can actually afford. This will, in turn, plummet their credit score and end up being more trouble than it needs to be.

Knowing your Debt to Income Ratio is a good way to figure out how to make a loan’s payment reliably with your monthly income, all while factoring in all of your other due payments as well.

Take a moment to look at your numbers before deciding how much to ask for your housing loan.

Being Dishonest

It could be tempting to try and hide a particular debt in order to get a housing loan, or maybe make a bad set of debt seem a little better. But honesty is definitely the best policy when it comes to dealing with banks and lenders.

Being dishonest in any of this will risk you being charged with fraud, and it will make it much more difficult to ever find a bank or lender that will want to work with you in the future.

Conclusion

We hope that this has helped you understand more about the process and that you’ll find it easier to expect what will affect your loan. We wish you all the luck in the world for the future.

The feeling of owning that perfect house is way too precious. And we want to help you!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us!

5 Essential Facts About USDA Home Loans

usda home loans

Buying a home or getting a mortgage loan may feel like it’s becoming increasingly harder as the years pass. Because of this, if you’re branching out, you may want to consider USDA home loans.

USDA loans come with their own sets of qualifications and are usually geared for rural or low-income buyers. However, there are a number of benefits to taking out this type of loan. Let’s take a deeper dive and explore 5 of those benefits!

Purpose

The purpose of USDA home loans is literally to assist low-to-moderate income buyers in rural areas in purchasing a home.

When you don’t have a lot of money, sometimes it can seem like actually owning a home is a pipe dream. USDA home loans help give people who aren’t wealthy a chance at affording a home.

This can help promote prosperity, according to the US Department of Agriculture. USDA loans exist to promote happiness, harmony, and improve the quality of life.

Types

There are two types of USDA loans: direct and guaranteed. Direct loans have more requirements to use. Your property has to qualify as “modest in size” for your area, and it cannot have a market value that exceeds your loan limit. There are also limitations put on your home itself.

Direct loans are aimed at low-income families, so the requirements can be strict.

Guaranteed loans are similar, but they open a few more doors and aren’t quite as strict.

Qualifications

Direct and guaranteed loans have different sets of qualifications. To qualify for a direct loan, you must not own a home. You also must not be able to obtain a loan elsewhere, and you have to legally be able to handle a loan.

If you’ve been suspended from participating in federal programs, you will not be able to apply.

Guaranteed home loans have income-eligibility requirements. To get a guaranteed loan, you must also be a US citizen or otherwise qualified, and you need to be able to pay your credit obligations in a decent amount of time.

Down-payments

The great thing about USDA home loans is that they don’t require a down payment.

If you’re a qualified borrower and have been approved for the loan, there’s no down-payment required. This can wind up saving you thousands in home-buying costs and upfront expenses.

Insurance

USDA loans do not have private mortgage insurance, also known as PMI. Instead, your USDA loan will have a premium for your mortgage insurance wrapped up in the cost.

Typically, this is about 2% of your entire loan cost. However, it’s also not a separate payment, and it’s included in the cost of your loan.

USDA home loans: the right choice

USDA loans are a great choice for people looking to purchase in rural areas. Additionally, if you’re a low-to-moderate income homebuyer, it’s very likely that you qualify for one of these loans.

A USDA loan can help you save thousands of dollars in homebuying expenses because they don’t require down payments. However, you do need to make sure that you qualify.

If you have questions regarding home loans and the home buying process, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

How to Determine Your Home Loan Eligibility

home loan eligibility

Are you looking to take that next step in your life? Have you finished browsing the net looking for that perfect place to call home?

Are you ready to become a homeowner?

Before you can actively start looking to purchase a property, the first sensible thing to do would be to check out your home loan eligibility.

Why?

Because knowing how much you can borrow not only helps you understand your own financial situation but also it stops you from getting your heart set on a place, only to find it out of your budget.

Let’s take a look at the best ways to check on your maximum home loan potential.

Calculate your Home Loan Eligibility Early To Set Your Search In the Right Area

When it comes to a home loan, the math is actually quite simple. You look at what you have coming in – your income – and you deduct your outgoings each month – your expenditure. The rest is just a matter of seeing how much you can realistically afford to pay back each month.

There are plenty of home loan calculators out there that can help you get a ballpark figure.

The main criteria that get looked at when applying for a home loan are:

Age – As harsh as it sounds, age plays a role in your home loan calculations.

Employment Status – if you are in a stable full-time job, then that is a big check in the plus column because a regular income shows the bank that you are in good standing to make your payments every month. The amount you are earning will also directly influence the amount you can borrow.

Credit Rating / Credit Card History –  If you have been living a debt free life, or at least maintaining your credit card by paying off your purchases in a simple large lump sum each month, then you score maximum points. The better managed your credit card history, the better image you produce for the banks looking to lend you money.

Choosing the Right Home Loan for You

There is more to finding a home loan than just understanding your home loan eligibility. Loan types and duration are also deciding factors.

The core loan types you should be looking at:

Fixed Interest –  The simplest loan. All you need to do is set your interest rate for 15-30 years and simply let your payments run. A great loan for those that are buying with the intention of staying put, and want to know exactly how much they will be paying for the foreseeable future.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages – If your credit rating is working against you, then you can counter balance this to some degree by taking a flexible interest rate loan. Here, the rate is set for a shorter period of time and will then be adjusted.

Federal Housing Administration Loan – For many people, being able to save the average 20% needed for a downpayment on a home, can be tough. With FHA home loans, you can put down as little as 3.5% on a down payment and move on with a fixed interest rate.

The only caveat with this is that you need to take out mortgage insurance, which you can spread over the life of the loan. This totals to approximately 1% of the full loan value.

Buying a Home is the Biggest Decision You Will Make

Making the decision to buy a home is one of the biggest things you will do in your life. To do so without due care and attention can be problematic.

By first understanding your home loan eligibility you can get yourself started on the next phase of your life with a clean conscience, knowing that you are not getting yourself into financial trouble.

If you need help with arranging your home loan or are looking for a quote, get in touch with us today. We are here to help.

A Complete Guide to VA Loans For Veterans

loans for veterans

I’m sure it comes to no surprise to you that today’s economic climate is difficult to navigate when looking to buy a home, perhaps especially for veterans.

It can be overwhelming considering that many types of loans for veterans that are out there.

We know what to do and what not to do when buying a home. A VA mortgage loan can be a great option for veterans and their families, and we’ll help explain why.

What are VA Loans for veterans?

A VA (Veterans Administration) Loan is a mortgage loan provided to American veterans of the armed forces.

This loan is popular amongst other types of loans for veterans because there is no required down payment as well as no private monthly mortgage insurance.

This loan can be used towards:

  • purchasing a home
  • building a home
  • refinancing an existing mortgage

Benefits of a VA Loan

I’ve briefly mentioned a couple of the benefits of VA loans, but let’s look at those benefits a little more in depth.

No required down payment

Down payments can often amount to 5% of the loan, which can be extremely costly to provide upfront.

No required down payment is a great option for veterans and military families who cannot afford to provide a down payment on a mortgage, or who might want to save that cash for something else.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t provide a down payment (in fact, if you do anyway it could decrease the funding fee), but it’s a great option for those looking to own without a lot of cash on hand.

No required mortgage insurance

Many conventional loans require borrowers to have expensive private mortgage insurance.

Instead of this, VA loans have an upfront funding fee that goes to supporting the VA Loan program.

Low interest rates

VA loans have a lower average interest rate than other types of loans, which will save you money in the long run.

Limited closing costs

“Closing costs” is a general term for a myriad of extra charges you can face as a loan borrower as you are finalizing a loan.

The great thing about VA loans is that the VA loan program actually limits the amount of closing costs you as the buyer would have to pay (even not allowing certain fees to be paid by VA loan borrowers).

Getting Approval

Once you’ve reviewed all the information and have decided this is the loan for you, it’s important that you are both eligible and are able to get approval for the loan.

First, you should get a certificate of eligibility from the VA. You should also have a sufficient, steady income as well.

Finally, they will check your credit score.

Be careful to not spend too much right before you apply for the loan, as this can negatively affect your credit: stay away from other large purchases (like a car for example) until after you’ve secured the loan.

Conclusion

VA loans can be an excellent option for veterans looking to own a home, especially considering this program’s success.

We understand that loans and mortgages can be daunting and overwhelming.

Hopefully this information has helped you to understand one option for you and your family.

Share this article if you found the information helpful, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us!

Existing Home Sales Report Shows Highest New Home Inventory Since January 2012

Existing Home Sales: Highest New Home Inventory Since January 2012The National Association of REALTORS reported that existing home sales for July came in at 5.39 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. July’s reading exceeded both expectations of 5.21 million existing homes sold and June’s reading of 5.06 million homes sold.

This suggests good news for home buyers who’ve been constrained by limited supplies of homes for sale.

As home prices continue increasing in many areas, more homeowners are likely to list their homes for sale. Existing home sales for July rose by 6.80 percent year-over-year.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency Home Price Index reported a 7.70 percent year overyear increase in prices for homes financed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

This reading was slightly higher than May’s year-over-year reading of a 7.60 percent increase in home prices.

New Home Sale Inventories Also Growing

New home sales for July dropped by 13.40 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual reading of 394,000; this was lower than expectations of 485,000 new homes sold, but this expectation was based on June’s original reading of 497,000 new homes sold. June’s reading has been adjusted to 455,000 homes sold, which likely would have resulted in a lower expectation.

New home sales were lower in all four U.S. regions:

-16.1 percent in the West

-13.4 percent in the South

-12.9 percent in the Midwest

– 5.7 percent in the Northeast

While this isn’t great news for developers and home builders, supplies of new homes for sale jumped from a 4.30 month supply of new homes in June to a 5.20 month inventory of available new homes in July. This was the highest inventory of available new homes since January 2012.

Monthly New Home Sales Continue Upward Trend

Month to-month sales of new homes tend to be volatile, but July’s year-over-year home sales were 6.80 percent above new home sales in July 2012.

Higher mortgage rates likely stifled sales, but slower sales would increase inventories of available homes. More homes available would help ease constraints on buyers and level then playing field for home buyers who have been competing for few homes in strong seller’s markets.

Rising mortgage rates could continue, especially if the Federal Reserve begins tapering its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, a program known as quantitative easing. The Fed has announced that it may start reducing the QE program before year-end.

When QE purchases are reduced, securities prices can be expected to fall due to less demand, and mortgage rates can be expected to rise.

Existing Home Sales: Second Highest Level Since 2009

Existing Home Sales Second Highest Level Since 2009

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, national sales of existing homes in June came in at 5.08 million.

June’s reading was reported to be the second highest since November of 2009; this should calm concerns about a lapsing recovery in housing markets.

Summer typically produces the highest prices for existing homes sold, as families seeking larger homes frequently move during summer months.

The June inventory of existing homes improved by 1.90 percent to 2.19 million homes or a 5.20 month supply. June’s number of available homes was 7.60 percent lower than in June 2012.

The shortage of available homes has been causing buyers to turn from existing homes to new homes in areas where both available homes and/or land for new construction are in short supply.

Average Home Prices Continue Their Climb Nationally

So the news of more existing homes for sale is good news for home buyers and housing markets that have been held back by an excess of buyers seeking a short supply of available homes.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted that inventories of existing homes are expected to “broadly favor sellers and contribute to above-normal price growth.”

This trend was supported by June’s national average price for existing homes at $214,200, which represented a year-over-year increase of 13.5 percent. Rising home prices and mortgage rates continue creating financial challenges for first-time buyers and others seeking affordable home prices and mortgage loans.

Distressed home sales were down from 18 percent in May to 15 percent in June; this is the lowest market share since tracking began in 2008. June sales of distressed homes were significantly lower than in June 2012’s reading of 26 percent of existing homes sold.

The National Association of REALTORS® noted that falling levels of distressed sales are contributing to higher prices for existing homes.

FHFA Reports Home Prices Rise In May

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported Tuesday that prices for homes financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose by 0.70 percent in May as compared to April’s downwardly revised 0.50 percent increase in home prices.

According to the FHFA Housing Price Index (HMI), home prices were up by 7.30 percent year-over-year in May, and are roughly equal to home prices reported for January 2005. May’s home prices remained 11.20 percent below peak prices reported in April 2007.

May’s FHFA data demonstrated steady growth of home prices for all nine census divisions on a year-over-year basis with home prices increasing from 2.70 percent to 15.80 percent in May.

Four Quick Tips To Buying Your Next Colorado Springs Home

Buying a home doesn’t have to be stressful! Here are four quick tips to make the process stress free!

1. Find a reputable, experienced real estate pro. Today’s Realtor will not only help you find a home, but also guide you correctly through the whole buying process.

2. Understand the process. Research as much as possible and know what to expect from beginning to end.

3. Know how much you can afford – Eliminate surprises by establishing a budget.

4. Don’t wait to buy real estate…. buy real estate and wait. Real estate is a long-term investment so take your time and find the right home for you and your family!

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How to Qualify for a USDA Loan

If you are planning to buy a home in a rural area, ask your real estate professional whether or not the area qualifies for USDA Home Loans.  For properties that qualify, you may be able to finance 100 percent of the purchase price of the home on a 30 year fixed interest loan.
Because the USDA loan program does not require a down payment, you can hold onto the money you would have put down on another property outside the USDA loan area. Or, you can use the down payment funds to repair or improve the property.  It’s your call under the terms of a USDA home loan.

How does it work?

USDA home loans are originated by the federal government, but serviced through direct lenders.  The repayment of the loan is guaranteed by the United States Department of Agriculture.  This means you can use any traditional mortgage lender, but the loan must meet the USDA loan guidelines in effect at the time of the mortgage origination.

The application process for a USDA loan is essentially the same as any other loan, but the lender must ensure that you and the property both qualify for the USDA program.  Eligibility of the property itself is determined not by the potential buyer, but by the location of the property.

Will you qualify?

Your ability to get a USDA loan is determined by your financial history. If you are a United States citizen and have a solid credit history (the usual qualifying score is between 620 and 640) and meet the usual income requirements, you can be qualified for USDA loan (presuming the home is located in a rural area covered by USDA loans). A steady job with a reasonable income is generally required for a loan approval.

You cannot qualify for a USDA loan if you have had a bankruptcy in the previous three years.  You won’t need perfect credit, to get financing through USDA, but the more you pay attention to your financial record, the more likely you are to get a USDA loan approved.

If you are first time home buyer or if you simply want to purchase a property that qualifies for a USDA home loan by virtue of its rural location, now is the perfect time to talk to your real estate professional about starting the qualifying process.  USDA home loans offer you the flexibility, stability and economy you need to make your plans for a new home a reality.