Mortgage 101: Understanding ‘PITI’ and What Goes in to Your Monthly Payments

Mortgage 101: Understanding 'PITI' and What Goes in to Your Monthly PaymentsAsk any friend or family member that owns a home and they will share that it takes a bit of management to keep all the expenses under control. Let’s explore the concept of PITI and why it is vital to have a clear picture of how much your home is costing you each month.

Just What Is PITI, Anyway?

PITI is an acronym that stands for “principal, interest, taxes and insurance,” which are the four main components that make up your housing costs.

Principal – this is the amount that you are paying against the total amount that you borrowed when you purchased the home. For example, if you used a mortgage to cover $200,000 of the home’s purchase price, the remaining balance of that $200,000 is the principal. A part of your monthly mortgage payment goes to paying down the principal.

Interest – this is the extra cost that the lender charges for the service of lending you the principal amount. For most mortgages, you will see this expressed as an “interest rate” which is a small percent charged on the loan. A portion of your monthly mortgage payment goes to paying down the interest owed.

Taxes – tax costs are not included in your monthly mortgage payment, but will be added by your lender as part of your yearly expenses when calculating your debt-to-income ratio (see below). Property taxes and other assessments will need to be paid each year.

Insurance – this is the cost of insuring your mortgage and your home. Like taxes, your mortgage lender will typically include some insurance costs in your DTI ratio calculation.

How Lenders Use PITI

Many mortgage lenders use some form of PITI calculation when determining your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio helps the lender understand your ability to manage your monthly mortgage payments without being at risk of missing one. The lower the ratio, the more likely you can afford all your monthly expenses.

Don’t Forget Your Other Monthly Expenses

Finally, don’t forget that along with PITI you will have a variety of other monthly expenses that need to be budgeted for. Leave some space for utilities, repairs and other renovations that need to be made throughout the year.

Once you have the full picture of what is coming in and going out each month, managing your expenses is easy. When you are ready to discuss or apply for a mortgage, get in touch with us. Our friendly team of mortgage professionals is happy to help.

How Do I Know If It’s a Good Idea to Refinance My Mortgage?

You Ask, We Answer: How Do I Know If It's a Good Idea to Refinance My Mortgage?Are you interested in paying less per month on your mortgage? Or perhaps you would prefer if your mortgage was paid off a couple of months – or years – faster? If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, one option that is open to you is refinancing.

How Does Refinancing Work?

In short, refinancing is a process in which you pay off your existing mortgage and borrow a new mortgage under a different set of terms. In most cases, homeowners will use the funds from the new mortgage to pay off the old one. Depending on the terms of your new mortgage, there may or may not be cash left over which you can use to invest, pay down debts, make renovations or for other purposes.

Refinancing To A Lower Interest Rate

Mortgage interest rates tend to fluctuate over time and because of this, refinancing to a mortgage with a lower rate is quite popular. If you initially borrowed your mortgage when interest rates were at 5%, you may be able to lock-in a new mortgage at a lower rate. Note that it can be tough to try to “time” the mortgage market, so check in with your mortgage professional to find out if the time is right.

Refinancing For Lower Monthly Payments

Another great use of refinancing is to reduce the monthly payment required on the mortgage. If you have ten years remaining on a 20-year mortgage, refinancing to extend the payments out to 15 years will lower the monthly payment.

Refinancing To Eliminate Other Debts

Finally, many homeowners will refinance their mortgage to use some of the home’s equity to pay off other debts. For example, a family might have $25,000 in debts that are being charged a higher interest rate than their mortgage. If they have built up enough equity, they can refinance and draw out $25,000 from the home’s value. This shifts the debt from the higher interest areas into the mortgage, where it can be paid off over time.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you might want to refinance your mortgage. To learn more about the refinancing process, or to discuss your options, contact us today. Our professional team of mortgage advisors is ready to help you choose the path that best suits your financial needs.

The Pros and Cons of a Large Down Payment When Buying a Home

The Pros and Cons of a Large Down Payment When Buying a HomeIf you are in the market for a new home, one of the considerations you will need to make is how much to invest in your down payment.

A Large Down Payment Has Its Benefits

If you have the funds available, you may find a bit of an advantage in a large down payment. The following are a few potential benefits that you may realize.

You Can Afford More ‘House’ – if you are aiming for a large, luxurious home a significant down payment can help you get there. As long as your credit is in line with your needs, a large down payment leaves more room in your mortgage.

You May Pay Less Interest – conversely, if you don’t need to carry a big mortgage you can choose a shorter amortization period for your mortgage. A shorter loan period means that you are likely to pay less in interest.

You Might Not Need PMI – if you can afford to invest more than 20 percent of the home’s value in your down payment, you may not be required to purchase private mortgage insurance.

A Few Of The Downsides

Of course, there are some potential downsides to using a large portion of your available cash as a down payment:

Do You Have The Money? – a large down payment doesn’t make a lot of sense if your finances can’t tolerate that hit right now. If you have your down payment and little else, you might want to reconsider.

You Will Be Less Liquid In The Short Term – keep in mind that once you sign the closing paperwork, your down payment cash is gone. This will leave you a bit less liquid in the short term since you would need to sell your home to get that cash back out.

You Can’t Invest That Money Elsewhere – you won’t be able to use these funds for other investment purposes. Of course, real estate is an investment itself so this may be less of a concern.

Still Have Questions? Get In Touch

Choosing the right amount for a down payment is a decision best made with professional help. Contact your trusted mortgage professionals and we will be happy to share our experience and insight.

Make 2018 the Year You Escape the ‘Rental Trap’

Make 2018 the Year You Escape the 'Rental Trap' by Buying Your Own HomeAre you growing tired of paying rent each month and not building your net worth? Being stuck in the ‘rental trap’ isn’t much fun, but if you are determined, you can break out. Let’s explore some of the steps that you can take to make 2018 the year that you become a homeowner.

Rent Money Is Lost Money

First – why homeownership? As you may already understand, money spent on rent is ‘lost’ money. Each month you pay your rent, but you do not build any equity, own any property or get any other benefits in return. When you own a house, the money you spend each month is being invested in the home. You are building value in the home over time which you can then realize if and when you decide to sell.

Choose Your Home And Location Wisely

Do you know where in the local area you want to live? And what kind of home you want to live in? If you are a single young professional, a condo or apartment might be the perfect starter home. However, if you are married and have a family, there will be other factors such as schools and amenities to take into consideration. Invest some time in going through local real estate listings and making a short list of communities that seem like a good fit.

Polish Up That Credit Score

Ask yourself: how is your credit score looking? Is it perfectly spotless? Or do you have some past issues that need cleaning up? It is worth checking in with one of the major credit reporting agencies to find out your credit score and if there are any blemishes that need to be taken care of. You can request a free credit report once per year, so take advantage today.

Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

Finally, if buying a home in 2018 is going to be realistic, you will need to ensure that you have your down payment saved up. Although it is possible to buy a house or condo with no down payment, there are pros and cons to this approach. If you can save 10 or 20 percent of the cost of the home, it will go a long way in helping to get your mortgage approved and the sale closed.

If you are ready to break out of the rental trap and start down the path to homeownership in 2018, contact us today. Our professional mortgage team is happy to share how we can assist you in becoming a homeowner.

Four Pieces of Mortgage ‘Advice’ to Take With the Proverbial Grain of Salt

Four Pieces of Mortgage 'Advice' That You Should Take With the Proverbial Grain of SaltAre you in the market for a new home? If you have been talking to friends and family or researching online, you have likely come across quite a bit of mortgage-related advice. As with anything, there is low-quality advice out there which is essential to avoid. In today’s blog post we will share four pieces of mortgage-related advice that you should take with the proverbial ‘grain of salt.’

#1: Only Get A Mortgage From Your Bank

Have you heard that you should only get a mortgage from the major bank that you use regularly? Many people believe that working with a large bank that you have a history with provides advantages, but this is not always the case. The right advice here is to seek out a mortgage lender offering products that fit your current and future financial needs.

#2: Always Take The Lowest Interest Rate

The next piece of advice you might hear is to always take the mortgage product with the lowest interest rate. As you may know, rates vary based on a wide range of factors. Taking the lowest rate might mean that you miss out on some favorable mortgage terms. It is best to trust your mortgage professional to provide you with some options here.

Don’t forget that, over time, you will be able to refinance your mortgage if rates move in a way that is advantageous for you. So you can feel safe in choosing the right mortgage now and adjust later.

#3: Always Borrow As Much As You Can

Another questionable piece of mortgage advice is to always borrow as much as you possibly can. Keep in mind that a mortgage is a loan and that you are required to pay it back. The amount you borrow should be in line with your needs and financial goals.

#4: Don’t Bother With A Pre-Approval

Finally, you may have heard it suggested that you can avoid the mortgage pre-approval process. While it is possible, this is not a good idea. Many home sellers will require proof of your pre-approval before they will commit to selling their home. If there are other buyers trying to bid on that home, they are more likely to win the bid if they can prove their finances are in order. When you are ready to buy, a pre-approval can help.

These are just a few of the many bad pieces of mortgage advice that you might hear in conversation or read online. When you are ready to discuss your mortgage options with the experts, give our professional team a call. We would be happy to share our insight and experience to help you choose the best mortgage.

Man Vs. Machine: Why Using a Human Mortgage Professional Is Better Than Trusting an App

Man Vs. Machine: Why Using a Human Mortgage Professional Is Better Than Trusting an AppAre you currently house-hunting or plan to be in the near future? If you plan on using mortgage financing to pay for your home, you will soon discover that there’s no shortage of options available to you. You can meet with a local mortgage professional, apply for mortgages online and even download mobile apps that promise to set you up with a mortgage. However, is every option equal?

Let’s explore why, in the epic battle of man versus machine, you will want to place your trust in a human mortgage professional.

Human Mortgage Professionals Have Local Experience

The first and most important reason you will want to work with a human mortgage professional is their understanding of the local real estate market. While you are likely to be working with a real estate agent, your mortgage advisor is another pair of eyes-and-ears that can help to keep your home purchase on the right path. They are also working regularly with many local clients and can share insight and information that no website or app will be able to come up with.

A Human Can Appreciate Your Unique Financial Situation

Online and app-based mortgage technology is… cold. Algorithms are processing the math and other hard facts about your financial history, with little consideration of you and your family as people. When you meet with a human mortgage advisor, you’re speaking with someone who understands the challenges that regular people face. They have also worked with numerous other clients and can appreciate why certain circumstances may have come up in the past.

A Human Will Go To Bat For You If Needed

Finally, don’t forget that a human mortgage professional is invested in your success. A mobile app isn’t going to understand when it needs to go the “extra mile” to ensure that you get the financing you need. You can trust that a human will push for that extra bit of funding or those better repayment terms as they’re on your side.

The above are just a few of the many reasons that you will want to work with a human mortgage advisor rather than using a website or mobile app. Don’t believe us? Give our professional (and human!) mortgage team a call today. We will be happy to share our expertise and insight to ensure you get the best mortgage financing for your new home.

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.

5 Key Items for a Quick Mortgage Approval

Want a Quick Mortgage Approval? Come Prepared With These 5 Key ItemsAre you finally getting into the real estate market? There are a few key items you’ll need to prove your reliability to a mortgage lender.

Previous Tax Returns

To ensure the earnings information you’ve provided to the lender, you’ll need tax returns for the two years prior to your mortgage application. In addition, you may also be required to provide your W-2s as backup documentation.

Bank Statements

For your down payment, you’ll need to present bank statements to show you have a cushion in case interest rates increase. If you do get money gifted to you for your down payment, you’ll need a letter to prove you’re not indebted to the provider.

Recent Pay-stubs

It can be much more difficult to get approved for a mortgage if you have a patchy work history or happen to be self-employed. You’ll need 2 months of recent pay stubs to prove consistent employment. The pay-stubs provided should also be an accurate reflection of the salary you’ve provided on your application to ensure no discrepancies.

Investment Statements

It’s certainly a good sign to the lender if you have a healthy balance in your checking and savings accounts. But you’ll also need to provide any statements for mutual funds and other investments. While they may not be necessary to prove financial soundness, they will help with approval if you have a lot of money squirreled away.

A Listing Of Debts

A lender will also want to know about any outstanding debts like auto loans, credit card payments or student loans. This will give the lender a good sense of your honesty and your ability to manage your mortgage.

Mortgage approval may seem like a time-consuming process with no certain end. By having the appropriate documentation and being upfront about your debts, you may be able to speed up the timeframe. If you’re currently perusing your mortgage options, contact us for the inside scoop.

What You Need To Know About Getting Your Next Mortgage

Yes, It's Getting Easier to Get a Mortgage. Here's How You Can Take AdvantageIt can be hard to stay on top of the changing real estate market from day-to-day. As a matter of fact, there are more available mortgage products out there than ever before for many kinds of homebuyers. If you’re wondering how you can take advantage of easier lending opportunities and strike while the iron is hot, here are some things to consider.

Take Care Of Your Credit

While many regulations on mortgage applications may have been loosened in recent years, having a better credit score will still enable you to qualify for a mortgage much easier. Instead of risking it, ensure that you’ve obtained a copy of your credit score and are aware of where you stand as a financial risk. By working on your credit and correcting any errors on the report, it will be that much more likely to have your mortgage application approved.

Saving For A Down Payment

It’s often said that 20% is the ideal amount to put down in order to avoid private mortgage insurance, but it’s not the required amount in order to invest in a home. While it may save money in the long run to put more money down, there are many opportunities for putting a lot less down and still being able to purchase. You may want to hold off until you can save up for your down payment, but possibilities do exist for mortgages with as little as 3.5% down.

Dealing With Closing Costs

Saving up for a down payment and deciding to invest in a monthly mortgage payment is a significant commitment. Adding mortgage closing costs to that can be a bridge too far for many potential homebuyers. Fortunately, many lenders are offering the opportunity for closing costs like origination and attorney fees to be included in the total cost of the loan. While this will bump up the amount of your monthly payment, it can make a mortgage more feasible from the start.

For many people, there’s a lot of stress that goes along with applying for a mortgage, but with lower down payments required and closing costs included in the total price, getting approved has become a lot easier. If you’re currently in the market for a new home, contact us for more information.

Til’ Debt Do Us Part: How to Get a Mortgage If One Spouse Has Poor Credit

Til' Debt Do Us Part: How to Get a Mortgage If One Spouse Has A Terrible Credit ScoreA poor credit history is a reality for many people, but it can be particularly daunting when it comes to investing in a house. Simply because you or yours have experienced bad credit doesn’t mean that you should be penalized in the future. If your spouse has struggled with bad credit in the past but you’re both preparing to move forward and invest in a home, here are some tips for getting it together financially.

Face The Music

Many people who have bad credit are too scared to look at their credit report and broach it honestly. But it’s important to come to terms with the problem so that it can be fixed. Instead of ignoring it, get a copy of the credit report and review it for any errors so that you can update these if needed. It’s a good thing to be aware of the issues impacting your credit score. While there may not be any inaccuracies on the report, knowing what you’re dealing with will give you a place to start.

Make Your Payments

At some point, most people have missed a credit card payment, but the first step involved in improving your finances and your credit is ensuring you pay your bills on time. While this won’t require paying the complete balance each month, it’s important to pay the minimum balance before the due date, and stick with it! It may seem like a small step, but in time it will improve credit and say a lot to mortgage lenders!

Save Up For Down Payment

20% is the amount that’s often suggested when it comes to a down payment, but if your spouse has terrible credit, it may be worth your while to save up more. Having good credit for both you and your spouse is important in getting approved for a mortgage, but by having extra for your down payment and paying your bills on time, you may be successful at convincing lenders you’re a solid bet.

It can be a lot more difficult to get your mortgage approved if your spouse has bad credit, but there are steps you can take to improve your financial outlook and give lenders a better impression. If you’re planning on investing in a home soon, contact us for more information.