Be Prepared for Your Mortgage Pre-approval Interview by Having Answers to These 4 Questions

Be Prepared for Your Mortgage Pre-approval Interview by Having Answers to These 4 QuestionsSo – you’ve completed an initial mortgage pre-qualification and now you’re ready to take the next step and meet with your lender or mortgage advisor for the pre-approval interview. Are you ready?

At this stage of the application process your lender will dig into your financial background to ensure that you’re fully capable of making your mortgage payments and that you don’t present too high a risk. Let’s take a quick look at a few questions you should know the answers to before you go in for a mortgage pre-approval.

Do You Have a Specific Home in Mind?

If you’ve already picked out the perfect new home, be sure to bring along some of the details when you meet with your lender. At minimum you’ll want to know the price range that you’re expecting to buy in so that your mortgage advisor can try to find a mortgage that allows you to purchase the home and still meet your other financial goals.

What is Your Current Income from All Sources?

Your income (and that of your spouse, if you have one) will be a major factor in the size of your mortgage, your payment terms and the interest rate that you qualify for. If you have a significant income and it’s clear that you will have little trouble making the mortgage payments you’ll likely qualify for a shortened amortization period that includes a lower interest rate. Conversely, if you can only afford to make a bare minimum monthly payment you’ll be facing a longer mortgage term.

Do You Have Any “Black Marks” on Your Credit?

If you have any negative spots in your credit history you’ll want to ensure that you’re able to answer for them, because your lender will certainly ask about them. Be honest and confident, and remember that the lender wants your business as much as you want to receive a pre-approval for mortgage financing.

What Are Your Plans in the Next Five to Ten Years?

Finally don’t forget that interest rates will continue to fluctuate and that may have an impact on your mortgage in the near future. Be sure to share any major financial plans that you have with your mortgage advisor as they can keep you appraised of any refinancing opportunities that come about.

Buying a home is an exciting time – one that will be far less stressful if you are fully prepared for the many steps along the way. Contact your local mortgage professional today to learn more about how you can get pre-approved for mortgage financing.

Understanding the Difference Between a Mortgage Pre-qualification and a Pre-approval

Understanding the Difference Between a Mortgage Pre-qualification and a Pre-approvalIf you’re in the market for a new home and you’ve been researching mortgages, you’ve likely come across the terms “pre-qualification” and “pre-approval”. While these terms are self-explanatory in some circumstances, they are quite different in regards to mortgage financing.

In today’s blog post we’ll explain the difference between a mortgage pre-qualification and a pre-approval.

Pre-qualification: an Initial Look at Your Mortgage Options

The first – and easiest – step on the way to receiving mortgage financing to buy a home is known as pre-qualification. During this process you’ll meet with a mortgage advisor or lender who will assess your financial history including your current income and any debts that you might have. Using these numbers they’ll perform a quick calculation that suggests how much mortgage financing you might qualify for when you’re ready to buy a home.

Your mortgage professional will also answer any questions that you might have about the process, including what interest rates you may qualify for, how much you’ll need to invest in your down payment and more.

Pre-approval: A Conditional Mortgage Commitment

After you’ve been pre-qualified for your mortgage and you’re ready to start looking for a new home you’ll go through the pre-approval process. At this time your mortgage advisor or lender will take a much deeper look into your current financial situation, including pulling a credit report to assess how much risk they will have in lending you money. You’ll also complete a full mortgage application as this will allow your lender to get a conditional approval for a certain amount or range. Finally you’ll be informed about the interest rate and the terms of the mortgage once you find your new home and complete the purchase.

The Final Step: Finding the Perfect Home

Now that you’ve been pre-approved and have received a conditional commitment from your lender, you’re ready to find that perfect new home. On top of having a better idea of your price range and what you can afford, you’ll find that sellers are far more receptive to your offers as having a pre-approval signals that you’re a serious buyer who is ready to make your move.

When you’re ready to buy your new house or condo, your local mortgage professional is ready to help. Contact them to learn more about pre-qualification, pre-approval and your financing options. Enjoy your new home!

Speeding Up the Close: Five Tips on How to Close Your Mortgage Loan Faster So You Can Start Moving In

Speeding Up the Close: Five Tips on How to Close Your Mortgage Loan Faster So You Can Start Moving InWhen a seller accepts an offer from a buyer, the process of obtaining the property has just begun. The buyer now has to conduct an inspection, get approval from an attorney and obtain a mortgage – all of which can be time consuming. Here are a few ways that you can speed up the mortgage process and close the deal sooner.

Make Sure That You Have Money For Closing Costs

Do you have the money needed for a down payment and to pay other closing and prepaid costs? If not, you won’t be able to close until you find the funds to pay those costs – and this could delay the closing on your home indefinitely. Before you arrange the mortgage, make sure you have enough cash on hand to pay closing costs.

Get Conditional Approval Before Making The Offer

If you have not been conditionally approved for a loan before making an offer, you can’t be sure that a lender will give you a loan for the amount of the purchase price. In addition, starting the process from scratch could push back the closing timeline. Having your mortgage conditionally approved means the mortgage process is already underway when you make your offer, which saves you time.

Have Your Documents Together

Get your bank statements, pay stubs and other documents together before the seller accepts your offer. Having everything that the lender needs right away decreases the time needed for a lender to assess your application before extending the loan.

Work With An Experienced Mortgage Lender

Your mortgage lender may be able to move everything along by staying on top of the loan approval process. By ensuring that documents are being processed in a timely manner, an experienced lender can reduce the closing time from months to weeks.

Create A Timeline For Repairs The Seller Is Obligated To Make

It is not uncommon for a seller to be obligated to fix certain issues with the house before the new owner takes possession. However, it is important to put these repairs the contract along with a mandatory completion date. Otherwise, the seller could drag his feet with no contractual obligation to finish any repairs before he sees fit to do so.

Closing on a home loan can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days depending on work that needs to be done on the home and how well prepared a buyer is. Contacting and working closely with your mortgage lender or broker can result in a speedy and painless close. Contact an experienced mortgage professional today for more information about closing a mortgage.

The Basics Of A Mortgage

The Basics Of A MortgageThe vast majority of people who are interested in buying a home are not going to be able to pay cash for the home. Even for those who can buy a home in cash, they often would rather take out a loan to avoid pulling money out of their investments where they would have to pay capital gains taxes.

Those who take out a loan to buy a home will apply for something called a mortgage.

Simply put, a mortgage is a loan that someone uses to buy a home. Mortgages are very specific to the real estate industry; however, they are similar to other loans. People borrow money to cover the difference between the down payment and the cost of the house.

Then, they pay back the loan over a specified period of time with interest. For those who are buying a home, it is important to understand the basics of a mortgage.

Qualifying For A Mortgage

First, anyone buying a home has to qualify for a mortgage. Most lenders will have a set of criteria they use to approve someone for a loan. Some of the factors include:

  • Many borrowers will have to meet a minimum credit score which lenders see as a reflection of someone’s ability to pay back a loan on time
  • Lenders will also need to see that someone has a proof of income (or proof of assets) so that they know the individual can afford to pay back the loan
  • Finally, lenders will also want to see what other debts someone is carrying such as a car loan, student loans, or credit card debts

The lender is taking on risk by providing a mortgage to someone. They want to make sure the borrower is going to reliably pay the loan back.

The Terms Of The Mortgage

Once someone has been approved for a loan, they need to figure out what the terms of the mortgage will be. Some of the variables include:

  • The length of the loan
  • The size of the monthly payments
  • The total amount of the loan
  • The down payment required for the loan
  • The interest rate on the mortgage
  • The presence (or absence) of private mortgage insurance, or PMI

It is critical for everyone to talk with an experienced professional to make sure they understand the terms of the mortgage.

5 Ways To Proactively Build And Improve Your Credit Score

You Ask, We Answer: 5 Ways That You Can Proactively Build and Improve Your Credit ScoreIf you’re planning to buy a house or take out a business loan in the near future, you’ll want to work hard to boost your credit score well ahead of time in order to improve your likelihood of getting the loan you need. A great credit score can also make you more desirable to employers and help you to negotiate lower car insurance rates.

But what can you do in order to build your credit score over time? What are the best strategies for boosting that score as high as possible? Here’s what you need to know.

Dispute Errors On Your Credit Report

According to the FTC, 25% of Americans have significant errors on their credit report. Whether it’s a fully paid debt erroneously reported as still owing or even another consumer’s debt listed on your credit report, these errors can be costly. That’s why you’ll want to regularly review your report for inaccuracies.

If you find any inaccuracies, you can dispute them and have them removed from your credit report – which will increase your score.

Negotiate Your Debts Owing With Creditors

If you owe money to creditors and are past due on the balance, chances are they’ve reported the debt to the credit reporting agencies – and it’s on your credit report. The fastest way to have the debt removed from your credit report is to negotiate with your creditors for its removal. Get your lender to agree in writing that they’ll report the account as “paid as agreed” if you pay the balance.

Keep Your Credit Utilization Ratio Low

Credit utilization refers to the percentage of available credit you use at any given time. So if you have $1,000 in credit available to you and you use $500, that’s a utilization ratio of 50%.

Generally speaking, it’s best to keep your utilization ratio below 30%. If you’re constantly using a high amount of credit, lenders will assume you’re not a responsible borrower.

Pay What You Owe On Time

Paying your bills on time is one of the best ways to build your credit score. Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, so if you pay your bills on time and in full every month, your credit score will increase.

Make More Than One Payment Every Month

Using a large amount of credit at any given time doesn’t look good on a credit report. By making multiple payments every month, you’ll lower the amount owing that gets reported to the credit bureau and increase your score.

Building a credit score is a lifelong skill, which is why you’ll want to learn it early. Contact us today to learn more about credit scores and mortgage finances.

Calculating How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

How to Calculate Your True Cost of Living and Determine How Much Mortgage You Can AffordA monthly mortgage can seem like enough of a financial responsibility on its own, but there are many factors involved in home ownership that affect its fiscal feasibility. If you’re in the market for a house and are wondering how your income will stack up against the rest of your expenses, here’s how to determine a home cost that’s reasonable for you.

Determine Your Down Payment

Before you start with anything else, you’ll want to determine the amount of money you can put down so you can estimate your monthly payments. The traditional amount for a down payment is 20% of the home’s purchase price, so if you don’t have anything close to this amount it might be worth waiting a little longer so you can minimize your payments and the amount of interest or mortgage insurance you’ll be paying in the long run. Each person’s situation is different, and there may be programs available with less than 20% down. With an FHA loan, the down payment can be as little as 3.5%.

Calculate Your Monthly Budget

If your mortgage cost already seems high, it will definitely be worth carefully calculating your monthly expenditures. Instead of a wild guess, take the time to sit down and calculate what your costs are including food, utilities, transportation and any other monthly necessities. Once you do this, it’s also very important to add any debt repayments you’re making to the mix. The total amount of your estimated mortgage costs, debt payments and living expenses should give you a pretty good sense of if your mortgage is viable in the long term.

Don’t Forget About The Extras

When it comes to purchasing a home, many people envision that they will be eating and sleeping their new home so don’t pay attention to all of the additional costs that can arise with living life. A new home is certainly an exciting, worthwhile financial venture, but ensure you’re realistic about what it entails. If you’re planning to go back to school or have children in the future, you’ll want to add a little bit of extra cushion in your budget so that you don’t have to put your other dreams on hold for the sake of your ideal home.

It can be very exciting to find a home you feel good about, but it’s important before making an offer to realize the amount of house you can afford so you don’t find yourself in a hole down the road. If you’re currently on the market for a new home, contact us today for a personal consultation.

3 Major Misconceptions About Mortgage Financing

Setting the Record Straight: 3 Major Misconceptions About Mortgage FinancingPurchasing a home is often considered an important step in one’s financial life, no matter what point you arrive at it. But there are things you should know about financing your home purchase before stepping into the fray. If you’re planning on buying a home soon and want to avoid some major missteps, here are a few tips that will set you up for success.

Taking The Lender You’re Offered

In the event that you’ve been pre-qualified for a certain amount, you’ll want to find a lender that will make the process towards a home purchase a little bit smoother. Instead of going with the first option that’s offered, do some research and come up with a shortlist of potential lenders that have good reviews and have been around the industry for a significant amount of time. The process will be a lot more comfortable if there’s someone on your side you know you can trust.

Keeping Your Credit History In The Dark

Without a doubt, the lender will be looking at your financial history in order to determine the amount of financing you will receive, but it’s still important to be prepared on your end so that you know what to expect. Start by acquiring your credit report so that you can correct any inaccuracies on it and be prepared for what this score will say about your financial viability. When it comes to the financing you’ll need down the road, the right information on your credit report will make a difference in the end result.

Forgetting About The Loan Officer

If you’ve already established who your lender will be, it’s still important to meet with the person who will be handling your loan and make sure they’re someone you can trust. Ensure that you are aware of their qualifications and that they have enough previous experience in their back pocket to provide you with insights that may come in handy. While having a reliable lender is certainly a good start, the right individual to handle your loan will be someone who is licensed and involved with a local, professional mortgage association.

All of the things involved with mortgage financing can be quite complicated, but by finding the right lender and preparing yourself for the tough financial questions, it can be a much easier experience. If you’re starting to consider your options for a home purchase, you may want to contact us for more information.

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.

A Guide to Financing Home Improvements

A Guide to Financing Home Improvements and How Mortgage Refinancing Can HelpIf you’re planning to remodel or renovate your home in the near future – whether to provide a better living environment or as part of a house flip – you’ll need to find a way to pay for your home improvements. There are several different possible sources of renovation money, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. One option that is gaining popularity is mortgage refinancing.

How does mortgage refinancing work, and how does it compare to other renovation financing options? How can you use a mortgage refinance to get the most out of your renovation? Here’s what you need to know.

Home Improvement Investments: Which Renovations Generate The Best Returns?

If you’re considering a mortgage refinance in order to fund your home improvements, you’ll want to concentrate on doing renovations that increase your home’s value. Otherwise, you’ll be taking on more debt without gaining anything in return.

If you want to max out your return on investment, re-finishing your kitchen is your best strategy. Remodeling Magazine’s annual cost-to-value renovation analysis shows that new appliances, a new coat of paint, and new surface finishes in the kitchen generate the biggest returns. Meanwhile, swimming pools and home offices tend to generate the lowest returns because they appeal only to a select group of buyers.

Your Options For Financing Home Improvement Projects

Financing for a home improvement project is a critical consideration. Unless you can afford to pay $20,000 out of pocket for a remodeling project, you’ll need to secure financing of some sort.

Your options for home improvement financing include home equity lines of credit, renovation mortgages, and refinancing. A HELOC may not be an ideal solution, as repayment requires discipline, while a renovation mortgage (or home renovation loan) is typically used only for foreclosures and other properties requiring major renovation work.

Mortgage Refinancing: A Smart Option For Savvy Borrowers

If you’re looking to simply make improvements to your existing home, a mortgage refinance is likely your best option. A straight refinance gives you a lump sum of cash that you can use to pay for renovations upfront.

There’s also a “refinance plus improvements” arrangement, which can provide you with extra capital as you need it. Under this model, you can get up to 80% of your home’s post-renovation appraisal value – however, you’ll only get the money as the renovations are completed and inspected. With a straight refinance, you’re not out of pocket for any length of time.

Making smart home improvements is a great way to boost your home’s value and improve your living conditions. An experienced mortgage professional can help you to find financing for those renovations without a hassle. Contact us to learn more.

Owning vs Renting: Which Is Most Beneficial Over The Long Term?

Owning vs Renting: Why High Rents Are Worse Than a Mortgage over the Long TermIf you’re at the stage in life where home ownership is nearly within your reach, you’re probably wondering whether you should start looking for a home or whether you should just keep renting. Renting is easier, people say, and it gives you more mobility. But over the long term, all that rent money can really add up – and it eventually reaches a point where buying a home is a better deal.

So why is paying a high rent a worse option than buying a house and getting a mortgage? Here’s what you need to know.

Renting Doesn’t Generate Equity

One of the single biggest sources of wealth in the United States is home equity – as you pay down your mortgage, you invest more and more of your money into your property, and it appreciates in value. When you eventually sell that home, you make a profit. The monthly payment is something you’d have to make anyway, whether you rent or own – but when you rent, your monthly rent money lines someone else’s pockets. When you own, paying down your mortgage actually creates wealth for you.

Renting Doesn’t Give You Access To Homeowner Tax Credits And Deductions

There are all sorts of tax benefits available to homeowners that renters simply can’t access. As a homeowner, you can deduct your mortgage interest from your taxes owing, reducing your taxable income – but there’s no such deduction for renters. You can also deduct property taxes and some closing costs when you buy a home – there are no corresponding tax benefits for renters.

There are also several tax credits available to homeowners that aren’t available to renters. Things like renovations or simply buying a home for the first time can give you tax benefits that renters can’t access.

If You Can Muster Up A Down Payment, Owning Is Cheaper In The Long Run

One of the biggest hurdles keeping young people out of the real estate market is the down payment. It’s not easy, but if you can save up enough money for a down payment, you’re actually better off buying a home than continuing to rent.

According to Trulia, the median home price in metro Houston in Texas is just under $163,000, while the median monthly rent for an apartment is $1,550. That means renting would cost $18,600 per year, while buying a home (assuming a 20% down payment and 30-year term) would cost $9,384 per year in mortgage payments. In other words, owning is about half as expensive as renting in the long run.

Renting may be a good short-term solution, but over the long haul, owning is almost always better. Call us today to learn more.