How to ‘Stress Test’ Your Finances For Peace of Mind

Worried About Future Mortgage Rate Increases? Here's How to 'Stress Test' Your Finances When it comes to real estate, there are always going to be upswings in the market that will have an impact on your mortgage payment and overall financial health. However, with a fluctuating market here to stay, you may be wondering how you can guard your biggest investment and your finances against rate increases. If you’re concerned about rates on the rise, here are a few tips to test out you’re fiscal well-being.

Calculate Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

It’s beneficial to determine your DTI ratio prior to purchasing a home. But since debt and housing costs are always fluctuating, calculating this number again can be a wakeup call. By adding up your monthly expenditures (including any debt), and dividing that number by your pre-tax income, you’ll be able to determine your DTI percentage. While it’s ideal to have a percentage of less than 28%, if your expenditures have risen above this number, it may be time to take a look at your monthly budget and see what you can cut out.

Do You Have Emergency Savings?

Many people make a habit of putting money into their retirement funds each paycheck, but it’s equally important to have emergency savings you can access in the event of car repairs, home maintenance issues or an unforeseen medical problem. While it’s often suggested that a person should have a minimum of 3 months of expenses at their disposal, saving more than this can make you better prepared in the event that a rate increase requires you to dive into other funds.

Review Your Budget

It’s easy enough to have a monthly budget, but the hard part for most people is sticking to it on a day-to-day basis. If you’ve veered off the trail a little bit in this regard, sit down to review your expenditures and determine what your financial outlook would be if you experienced an interest rate bump next month. In the event that there’s very little cushion and no money for savings, it may be worth your time to craft a new budget that gives you a bit more wiggle room.

Many people are uncertain about what the short-term economy will bring for their mortgage rates, but by reviewing your budget and maintaining emergency savings, you can be better prepared for the future.

If you’re currently considering purchasing a home,  contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

The 2017 Mortgage Rate Outlook: Here’s What the Experts Are Saying

The 2017 Mortgage Rate Outlook: Here's What the Experts Are SayingThe post-election period is often one of uncertainty. And the time since the 2016 election has been no different with regards to market force and the financial world. With a new administration taking office, there are many questions regarding how Donald Trump’s presidency will impact the market and your mortgage. If you’re wondering what the predictions are for the coming year, here are a few things the experts are considering.

An Increase In Rates

Due to an expected hike in rates by the Federal Reserve, it’s unlikely that potential homebuyers will be able to get the low interest rates of previous years. While higher rates are likely, the proposed tax plan and budget of Donald Trump may lead to increased inflation and could also have an impact on rates down the road. The low rates of previous years certainly made homeownership a more feasible option, but it’s still a good time to get into a home before they rise even more.

Less Red Tape

The money invested into regulations is something that Donald Trump was highly critical of in the run up to the election. This may mean many opportunities for home ownership that did not exist before. While a poor credit history can make or break a mortgage application, in a time of loosening regulations there will likely be more available mortgage products for those who have a less than stellar financial situation.

Privatizing Loan Programs

There is the possibility that government-sponsored home loan organizations like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will come under new ownership. While this may provide an opportunity for potential homeowners, because the risk will be taken on by private owners – and not the government – this may lead to higher rates. As Jordan Levin of the California Association of Realtors says, “I can say with a pretty good level of confidence that it will increase the cost of borrowing because there’s going to be more risk from those pools being borne by the private sector and they’re going to want to be compensated for that additional risk that they’re bearing.”

While the economic policy of the coming years has yet to take shape, mortgage rates are on the rise and the regulations surrounding home ownership are likely to loosen. If you’re currently waiting out the 2017 market and are considering your options for home ownership, contact us for more information.

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage?

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage? Let's Take a LookThere is always uncertainty in the market in an election year, but many people are wondering exactly what kind of impact Donald Trump’s election will have on their mortgage and the real estate options available. Whether you are still paying off your home or have been shopping around for the right one, here are some possibilities for the real estate market following the results of the 2016 election.

An Increase In Luxury Properties

With the release of President Trump’s tax plan, which provides the most sizable tax cuts to the wealthy, it could be the case that there will be an increase in the demand for high-end properties which may lead to less availability and a higher price point. As this kind of demand could also work to bump up the median price of real estate in urban areas, it could have an adverse impact on low-income earners who may see themselves priced out of a more expensive market.

Rising Mortgage Rates

Most people that have been perusing the market recently have heard about the low interest rates that make purchasing a home a good financial decision. However, following the uncertainty of the election, interest rates are on the rise. While the sense of instability may persist until potential homebuyers know more, this boost in the rates since the election may mean that many buyers will decide to hold off for a few months.

A Loosening Of Regulations

The concept of the cost involved in regulation was something that President Trump brought up many times on the campaign trail, and this could be a sign that he is ready to make adjustments when it comes to housing regulations. While there may be little he can do at the local level, if regulation changes take hold, this could mean more loan opportunities for those with a poor credit history who may not have been a shoe-in for a mortgage previously.

With the fluctuations of the market dependent upon a variety of factors, it’s hard to say what will occur in the mortgage market in the next few months and years. However, with mortgage rates on the rise and the potential change in regulations, it could continue to fluctuate until there is more certainty on the horizon. If you’re currently on the market for a home and are curious about your options, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

The 4 Most Common Mortgage Questions Answered

The 4 Most Common Mortgage Questions, AnsweredMaking the decision to purchase a home is one of the most significant investments most people will make in their life, and this automatically means there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before putting any money down. If you’re considering making the leap, here are some insights into some of the common questions you might have.

How Much Should You Put Down?

While many homebuyers have the option of putting as little as 3% down in order to purchase a home, there are benefits to saving up for a down payment and putting in 15 or 20%. Because your interest rate will be higher with a lower down payment, putting more down can mean a lower overall price tag and monthly payment.

Fixed or Variable Rate Mortgage?

While a fixed rate mortgage can be good for homeowners who are new to the market due to its stability, a variable rate can be hard to rely on because it can change all of the time. Fixed rates can end up costing more than variable rates in the event of low interest rates, but it’s important to determine your comfort level with the market is before deciding on your mortgage type.

How Will The Lender Assess You?

There are a number of different factors that lenders will assess you on including your income, personal debt load, employment and credit history. While it’s important to be in the good books for these reasons, a lower credit score does not mean you will not be able to qualify for a mortgage; it simply means that you may need to provide a higher down payment.

What Will The Monthly Payment Be?

One of the conundrums of home ownership is being able to determine what you’ll actually be paying per month to purchase your home, but this number is dependent on the size of your mortgage, your interest rate, and the frequency of your payments. There are also many handy online tools you can use to provide some estimates but it’s best that you consult your mortgage specialist about this.

Most homeowners, particularly those that are new to home ownership, have many questions when it comes to purchasing a home, but by being aware of what a lender looks at and what you should put down, you’re well on your way to a healthy attitude towards ownership. If you’re currently considering buying a home, contact us for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 21, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 21, 2016Housing Starts Up in February

Shortages of available homes are a major factor in rising home prices; shortages also make it more difficult for buyers to find homes they want. Housing starts in February rose, which is good news for the peak spring and summer home buying season. Other housing related news released last week included the Fed’s decision not to raise the target federal funds rate and Housing Starts and Building Permits reports issued by the Commerce Department. Consumer Sentiment was also released along with regularly scheduled releases on mortgage rates and weekly unemployment claims.

Builder Confidence Holds Steady, Real Estate Pros Call for More Construction

According to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for March, home builder confidence held steady at a reading of 58. Analysts expected an uptick to 59 based on February’s reading of 58. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders have confidence in housing market conditions than those who do not. The overall HMI reading is based on three components including builder perception of current market conditions, market conditions within the next six months and buyer foot traffic in new home developments.

Builder confidence in current market conditions held steady at a reading of 65. Builder confidence in market conditions within the next six months dropped three points to 65. Builder confidence in buyer foot traffic increased four points to a reading of 43. Confidence in buyer foot traffic has not topped a reading of 50 since 2005.

High demand for homes coupled with a short supply of affordable suburban single family homes compelled NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun to comment, “Imbalances in supply and demand and unhealthy levels of price growth in several metro areas have made buying a home an onerous task for far too many first-time buyers and middle class families.” Mr. Yun called for builders to double their focus on building single family homes.

Housing Starts Hit 9-Year High in February

Reports on housing starts and building permits issued indicate good news for the shortage of available homes.

The Commerce Department reported that housing starts rose from January’s reading of 1.120 million starts to an annual level of 1.178 million starts. Analysts expected a reading of 1.153 million starts. Building permits also increased from January’s reading of 1.120 million permits to 1.167million permits issued. Analysts forecasted a reading of 1.210 million in February.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Fed Holds Interest Rate Steady

The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the target federal funds rate on Wednesday. The current rate is 0.250 to 0.50 percent. Policymakers cited concerns over global economic developments as a reason for their decision. This decision quickly showed an impact on Thursday. Freddie Mac reported average rates rose across the board. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.73 percent. 15-year mortgage rates averaged 2.99 percent, which was three basis points higher than the prior week’s reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.93 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50, 0.40 and.50 respectively.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 268,000 against expectations of 268,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 258,000 new jobless claims.

Consumer sentiment dropped to 90.00 in March against an expected reading of 92.10 and February’s reading of 91.70. Consumer outlook is important to housing markets as the decision whether or not to buy a home is typically based on potential buyers’ evaluations of job stability and affordability of available homes.

What’s Ahead This Week?

This week’s scheduled economic releases include reports on new and existing home sales as well as usual weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 7, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 7, 2016Week in Review

Last week’s scheduled economic news included reports on pending home sales, construction spending and several jobs related readings including ADP Payrolls, the government’s Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Unemployment Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly report. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.64 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose five basis points to 2.84 percent. Discount points were consistent at 0.50 percent for all three types of home loans.

Weekly jobless claims also rose to 278,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of $272,000 new jobless claims. While an increase in new unemployment claims may seem discouraging, new claims for unemployment remain near pre-recession lows.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims dropped by 1750 claims to 270,250 and reached its lowest reading in three months. Analysts view the four-week reading as more reliable than week-to-week readings that can be volatile.

Pending Home Sales and Construction Spending

In other news, pending home sales fell by 2.50 percent as compared to December’s reading. Analysts expected an increase in pending sales of 0.50 percent; December’s reading was 0.10 percent higher than for November. Pending home sales represent sales contracts that have not yet closed and are considered an indicator of future closings and mortgage activity.

Home sales have been impacted in recent months by a shortage of available homes; this creates a backlog of would-be buyers who can’t find homes they want to buy and also causes rapidly escalating home prices in desirable areas. Bidding wars and cash sales can sideline buyers who can’t pay cash or are whose offers are outbid.

Analysts say that new home construction is a key component of easing the housing shortage. Construction spending increased by 1.50 percent in January, but month-to-month spending for residential projects was flat in January. Spending for residential projects was 7.60 percent higher year-over-year.

Labor Reports Reflect Stronger Economy

Federal and private sector reports on jobs indicate that job growth continues. The Department of Commerce reported that Non-Farm Payrolls grew by 242,000 jobs in February, which was higher than expectations of 195,000 new jobs and January’s reading of 172,000 new jobs. According to ADP, which tracks private sector payrolls, 214,000 new jobs were created in February as compared to expectations of 185,000 new jobs and January’s reading of 193,000 new jobs.

Improving jobs markets are a positive indicator for housing markets as stable employment is important to home buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgages. The National Unemployment Rate remained stable in February with a reading of 4.90 percent; the expected reading and prior month’s reading were also 4.90 percent.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the NFIB Small Business Index and February’s Federal Budget along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Mortgage Trends In 2016: How Will They Affect You?

Looking Ahead in 2016: Mortgage Trends That May Affect YouThe housing market is in a constant state of flux, and with the changing shape of real estate there will most definitely be notable trends to watch out for in the next year. Whether you’re approaching the market with caution or you’re ready to dive in without worry, here are some things to watch out for in 2016.

A Slow Growth Outlook

One of the most worrisome impacts of a slowed economic outlook is how it can affect people’s monthly payments, and this is slated to be a significant concern over the next few years. With the possibility of lowered global gains in 2016 and the job loss that can stem from this, it may be the case that many borrowers end up falling behind on their payments a little more this year. While this doesn’t pose a significant worry in the short term, it may become problematic in the event of a sustained downturn.

Bring On The Millennials

It’s definitely the case that few have struggled to make their way in the economic world as Millennials have over the last few years. However, according to Trulia.com, approximately 80% of those polled between 18-34 want to make a new home purchase before 2018. While many Millennials will be deterred by rising interest rates and will instead stick around their parents’ house a little longer, we will definitely see a few more wading into this market with growing savings and better job opportunities.

An Ever-Shifting Market

When it comes to real estate, prices on a day-to-day basis are constantly in a state of flux but that trend is expected to become even more extreme in 2016. While the rent and purchasing price for homes in metropolitan areas will continue to increase with demand, the prices of homes in smaller centers will actually diminish. So, while real estate prices are constantly on the rise and it may be a good time to get into the market, a home in a place a little less popular may provide a bit more bang for your buck in the coming year.

With the real estate market and the world economy experiencing significant fluctuations in the last few months, there are bound to be many ups and downs in the market this year. If you’re considering a new home in 2016 and would like to know more about your options, you may want to contact us for more information.

3 Reasons Why The Lowest Interest Rate Isn’t Always Your Best Option

3 Reasons Why the Lowest Mortgage Interest Rate Isn't Always Your Best Option One of the more common methods that home loan applicants use to find the best loan program available is to compare interest rates, but choosing the lowest rate possible is not always the best option available. In fact, in some cases, it may be one of the least advantageous options when all factors are considered. With a closer look, home mortgage applicants may decide to review other factors in combination with the interest rate to make a more informed decision when applying for a new loan.

The Closing Costs Impact The Rate

It is important to note that lenders can increase or decrease the interest rate with adjustments to closing costs, and this means that some of the lowest interest rates available may also have some of the higher closing costs. In some situations, choosing the lowest interest and paying more in closing costs is acceptable. However, a loan applicant should be aware of this and should compare interest rates along with closing costs in order to find the best loan program available.

The Loan Term Affects The Rate

Generally, a shorter loan term will have a lower interest rate. However, even with the lower interest rate, the mortgage payment may be higher due to the shorter term. A higher mortgage payment can impact affordability as well as loan qualification in some cases, but there are instances when the higher interest rate associated with a longer term is most desirable.

The Interest Rate May Adjust

Adjustable rate mortgages typically have lower interest rates than fixed rate mortgages, but the interest rate with an ARM may adjust higher in the future. For those who only plan to own the home or to retain the mortgage for a short period of time, this may be acceptable and even desirable. However, for those who plan to own the home or retain the mortgage for a longer period of time, the potential for a rate adjustment in the future may not be preferable.

For individuals who are shopping around to compare interest rates and to find the best deal on a mortgage, there may be a desire to opt for the lowest interest rate, but this is not always the best strategy. The interest rate can reflect many aspects of the loan, and each of these points should be analyzed to find the best loan program. A mortgage broker can provide assistance comparing loan terms and helping loan applicants determine which is the best solution for their needs. Call us today!

Variable-Rate or Fixed-Rate: Which Mortgage Is Better For Your Financial Situation?

Variable-rate Vs. Fixed-rate Mortgages - Which is Better for Your Financial Situation? When applying for a new home mortgage, many loan applicants initially consider applying for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. This is perhaps the most common and traditional type of mortgage available. It allows you to enjoy the opportunity to pay for your home over the course of 30 years with equal payments every month.

While this is one option, there are actually multiple choices available. For some applications, a variable rate mortgage may be more advantageous. If you are comparing the options between a fixed rate and a variable rate mortgage, you may consider a few points.

A Lower Initial Interest Rate

When you compare the fixed rate and variable rate options, you will immediately notice that the variable rates have a lower start rate. The interest rate will influence the mortgage payment amount. Because of this, you will benefit from a lower initial mortgage payment with a variable rate. However, it is important to understand that the interest rate on a variable rate mortgage will adjust periodically over the life of the loan. This means that the mortgage payment will also adjust.

Managing A Potential Rate Adjustment

The true benefit of a fixed rate mortgage is the ability to better control your budget and manage your funds. A mortgage payment can be a large expense item in your budget, and it may be the largest single expense you have by far. An increase to your variable rate and therefore your mortgage payment can be difficult to bear if you have a tight budget with no wiggle room. In some cases, the rate may go beyond what is affordable for a homeowner to endure. If you do take on a variable rate loan, it is important that you understand what the highest possible interest rate adjustment is and what your payment may be with that rate. If you can manage that payment, then you may confidently apply for a variable rate mortgage.

If you are thinking about applying for a mortgage, it is important that you consider all of the options carefully and that you understand the key differences between them. You can speak with a mortgage loan officer or lending representative in detail to get more information about the options available to you. This can help you to make a better decision about your mortgage application and to better plan and budget for your future as a homeowner.

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Key Factors That Influence Your Mortgage Interest Rate

Understanding the Key Factors That Affect Your Mortgage Interest RateWhen you initially start shopping for a home mortgage, you may be drawn to advertisements for ultra-low interest rates. These may be rates that seem too good to be true, and you may gladly contact the lender or mortgage company to complete your loan application. However, the unfortunate truth is that all too often, mortgage applicants are unpleasantly surprised and even disheartened to learn that they do not qualify for the advertised interest rate. By learning more about the factors that influence your interest rate, you may be able to structure your loan in a more advantageous way.

Your Credit Rating

One of the most important factors that influence an interest rate is your credit score. Lenders have different credit score requirements, but most have a tiered rating system. Those with excellent credit scores qualify for the best interest rate, and good credit scores may qualify for a slightly higher interest rate. Because of this, you may consider learning more about your credit score and taking time to correct any errors that may be resulting in a lower score.

The Amount Of Your Down Payment

In addition, the amount of your down payment will also play a role in your interest rate. The desired down payment may vary from lender to lender, but as a rule of thumb, the best home mortgage interest rates are given to those who have at least 20 to 30 percent of funds available to put down on the property, and this does not include subordinate or secondary financing. If you are applying for a higher loan-to-value loan, you may expect a higher interest rate.

The Total Loan Amount Requested

In addition, the total loan amount will also influence the rate. There are different loan programs available, but one of the biggest differences in residential loans is for very large loan amounts. The qualification for a jumbo loan will vary for different markets, but these loans qualify for different rates than conventional loans with a smaller loan amount.

While you may be able to use advertised interest rates to get a fair idea about the rate you may qualify for, the only real way to determine your mortgage rate will be to apply for a loan and to get pre-qualified. Contact us today to request more information about today’s rates and to begin your pre-qualification process.