Housing Optimism For Spring

With home loan rates falling for four straight weeks early this year, prospective homebuyers had an easier time purchasing new homes. Low rates also prompted a spike in refinance applications from many Americans pursuing lower monthly payments, which will help free up extra cash to spend or save.

sidebar_839According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), purchase applications are 3 percent higher than a year ago, with most of the gains coming from Federal Housing Administration (FHA) financing. Government-insured FHA loans provide low down payment and rate options and are typically sought after by first-time buyers.

A strong January Jobs Report also showed Non-farm Payrolls growing, and that many Americans have returned to the job search pool.

Builders Optimistic for Spring

Construction on new homes continues to grow; even though January’s numbers slipped slightly from December, they were up nineteen percent from a year ago. Builders began construction on 1.01 million new houses and apartments in 2014, the most in nine years and 8.8 percent more than in 2013, according to a January CoreLogic report.

At the end of December, builders had 218,000 homes listed for sale that were either under construction or completed, 17.2 percent up from a year earlier, according to Commerce Department data released in early January. The data indicated that builders are optimistic about the upcoming spring housing season, which can be seen from their commitment to building speculative, or “spec” homes. Spec homes are newly constructed homes built in the anticipation of buyers to sign purchase contracts.

According to a realtor.com report, last year’s total at 435,000 for new-home sales was an increase of only 1.4 percent from the 2013 total, and stands at roughly 58 percent of the annual average since 2000.

The spring selling season typically starts after the Super Bowl and hits its stride around March and April.

The Bottom Line

Low rates, new homes and demand for first-time home loans make this an exciting time for home loan activity. If you have any questions regarding housing or know of friends, family or colleagues who wish to discuss buying or refinancing a home, please get in touch.

4 Reasons To Consider A Refinance

It Pays Off To Refinance Your Mortgage To refinance a mortgage means to pay off your existing loan and replace it with a new one.

There are many reasons why homeowners opt to refinance, from obtaining a lower interest rate, to shortening the term of the loan, to switching mortgage loan types, to tapping into home equity.

Each has its considerations.

Lower Your Mortgage Rate

Among the best reasons to refinance is to get access to lower mortgage rates. There is no “rule of thumb” that says how far rates should drop for a refinance to be sensible. Compare your closing costs to your monthly savings, and determine whether the math makes sense for your situation.

Shorten Your Loan Term

Refinancing your 30-year fixed rate mortgage to a 20-year fixed rate or a 15-year fixed rate is a sensible way to reduce your long-term mortgage costs, and to own your home sooner. As a bonus, with mortgage rates currently near all-time lows, an increase to your monthly payment from a shorter loan term may be negligible.

Convert ARM To Fixed Rate Mortgage

Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages may want the comfort of a fixed-rate payment. Mortgage rates for fixed-rate mortgages are often higher than for comparable ARMs so be prepared to pay more to your lender each month.

Access Equity For Projects, Debts, Or Other Reasons

Called a “cash out” refinance, homeowners can sometimes use home equity to retire debts, pay for renovations, or use for other purposes including education costs and retirement. Lenders place restrictions on loans of this type. A refinanced home loan can help you reach specific financial goals or just put extra cash in your pocket each month – just make sure that there’s a clear benefit to you.

Paying large closing costs for small monthly savings or negligible long-term benefit should be avoided. Many lenders offer low- or no-closing costs options for refinancing. Be sure to ask about it.

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4 Tips To Save For That Down Payment

4 Tips To Save For That Down Payment In order to save up a huge amount of cash for the down payment on your first mortgage, you need a solid savings plan!

When you take out a mortgage on your new home as a first time homebuyer, the more you can pay as a down payment the better. The down payment on a mortgage reduces the principle of the loan and means that you will be paying tens of thousands less in interest payments over the life of the loan.

Most financial experts recommend that you should save up at least 20% of the value of the home as a down payment. Depending on the value of the home that you want to buy, this can be a serious chunk of money.

The conventional saving tricks of skipping your morning latte and eating dinner at home just aren’t going to cut it when saving up this much money! You will need some strategies for saving big.

Here are some tips to help you get closer to that down payment:

Make A Separate Savings Account

No matter how much you have already saved for your down payment, create a new savings account to put the money in. When the money is in your personal account it is so much more tempting to spend it on day to day expenses. Also, a savings account will give you a better rate of interest so that you can help you money grow.

Pay Off Your Credit Cards First

If you have credit card debt, you will be paying interest charges to the credit card company every month. These charges can really add up, especially if you are only paying the minimum on your loans. If you can pay down this debt you will have extra money every month to put into your savings instead.

Get A Part-Time Job

If you want to accelerate yourself towards having your down payment saved up, you could consider taking on a part-time job in addition to your full-time job on a few evenings and weekends.

It doesn’t have to be something that you do forever, but even sticking with it for six months to a year will give you thousands in extra income that you can put straight towards your down payment.

Make A Backwards Budget

Do you find that after you have paid all of your bills and your living expenses, there is nothing left over to save? Rather than calculating all of the money that you use on your monthly expenses and then saving whatever is left afterwards, why not make your budget the other way around?

Start off with how much you want to be able to save per month then subtract that amount from your net income. The number you have left is what you have to live off.

You will find that you naturally change your habits to make this amount of money work for you and if it if not enough you can increase your income by getting a side gig. These are just a few ways that you can save up for a down payment on your first home in order to save money over the years on your mortgage.