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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

Beat the Rising Interest Rates!

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Mortgage Rates have risen to the highest level since 2014, with a likely hood to keep increasing through out the year. What does this mean for you? Acting sooner than later will make sure that you are locking in a lower rate.

Rates have already passed 4% in the last months, property economists have predicated that mortgage rates may rise to as high as 5.5% by 2018. This small percentage difference may not seem like a lot, but over the life of a mortgage, this can mean tens of thousands of dollars to the buyer. 

Following the increase in mortgage rates, home prices are predicted to see an equal increase in 2017. This means that home buyers will see a double hit in the cost of owning a home in the next year. Combining higher mortgage rates with home values going up, it will become more difficult to buy that home you are looking for. So beat the increase, go find your future home! 

The Benefits of a Pre-Approval

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Whether you are looking to buy a house soon, or buy a house in the near future, applying for a pre-approval is a great way to prepare for the right house at the right time. By getting pre-approved, possible buyers can have all their financial concerns and questions answered before the special time comes to buy a new home. There are many reasons to get pre-approved:

  • Understanding total monthly costs, not just a monthly mortgage cost. Including tax rates, insurance, mortgage cost, possible HOA, property tax, and (depending on down payment) Private Mortgage Insurance. This will help the buyer narrow down a price range of a home they feel comfortable buying. 
  • Planning for down payment, closing costs, and any fees that are involved in buying a home. There is more than just the down payment on a house, and being prepared for all the cots makes the real estate purchasing process that much more stress free. 
  • Getting all the paperwork needed to apply for a mortgage together. Buying a house can be time sensitive, and the last thing you want to do is not be able to provide the correct paperwork needed to buy a home. 
  • Helps the seller know that they are choosing a serious buyer who already knows they are ready to purchase a home. 

Among the listed reasons, pre-approval to a home mortgage makes sure you are serious buyer! 

Mortgage Renegotiation

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Foreclosures are everywhere and with the economy being strained, many homeowners are struggling to make the monthly mortgage payment.  The good news is that many lenders are more willing than to negotiate terms to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. By renegotiating their mortgage, homeowners may be able to get a lower finance rate as well as change your rate from a high fixed-rate mortgages or adjustable-rate.

Most lenders require that you have at least 10 percent equity in your home. You can easily check the value of your home on sites such as Zillow.com and I can provide you with a free and quick estimate of your home’s worth. Today's lenders typically will require that you have a credit score of at least 720 to qualify for good rates.

Lenders are aware of the many fiscal difficulties borrowers have in making their mortgage payments when hardships arise. However, they typically won't volunteer or advertise their help. So if you are struggling to make your payments on time, it is vital that you take the initiative and contact your lender and give them a heads up on your current financial hardship before you miss payments.  Keep in mind that lenders have more incentive than ever to work with you. Plunging property values mean they’re recovering less now on foreclosures. Plus, many that received cash infusions from the U.S. Treasury are under pressure to show that they’re responding to the housing crisis.

Assumable Mortgages

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Assumable mortgages are a unique lending instrument that allows someone else to take over the payments for you. The assumable mortgage is an alternative to the traditional financing most homeowners go with.

Assumable mortgages are very different and are also usually not very common today's market but depending on your situation, they may work for you. Below are the basics of assumable mortgages and what they can do for you.

How They Work

An assumable mortgage works in that another person can take over the loan that was originally issued to someone else. In order to assume the mortgage, the purchaser must qualify for the loan and pay closing fees, including the appraisal cost and title insurance. This can be beneficial for a piece of property that has been difficult to sell. A potential buyer can take over the current mortgage rather than obtaining their own financing. If you are in a situation where you need to sell a home quickly this can be an option.

Benefits of Assumable Loans

• The process of converting the original loan to an assumable mortgage, is relatively simple. Because the buyer will not need do go thru the closing process or obtain a property appraisal, the entire process can be completed quickly. 

•If the original loan was written during a time when interest rates were low, that is a big benefit to the buyer. The buyer is guaranteed the original interest rate, they do not have to take whatever rate the market is at currently. dictates to them.

•If you are the seller and need to sell the home quickly, offering an assumable mortgage is a big attraction to buyers. 

Disadvantages of Assumable Loans

• One risk for this type of mortgage can exist for the seller of the home. Some assumable mortgages can hold the seller liable for the loan itself even after the assumption takes place. Thus if the the buyer were to default on the loan, potentially the seller could be left responsible for whatever the lender is unable to recover. The homeseller can avoid this by indicating their release their liability in writing at the time of the assumption.

•Sometimes large down payments can be required and could be difficult for some buyers to obtain.

 

 

The Escrow Process Explained

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

During the process of purchasing a home you will need to enter into escrow. Many first time homebuyers have many questions about the escrow process. 

What exactly is an escrow?
An escrow is an arrangement in which a disinterested third party, called a escrow holder, holds legal documents and funds on behalf of a buyer and seller, and distributes them according to the buyer’s and seller’s instructions. The escrow becomes the depository for all monies, instructions and documents pertaining to the purchase of your home.

How does the escrow process work?

The escrow is a depository for all monies, instructions and documents necessary for the purchase of the home, including  funds for the down payment, lender’s funds and documents for the new loan. The duties of an escrow holder include: following the instructions given by the principals and parties to the transaction in a timely manner; handling the funds and/or documents in accordance with instructions; paying all bills as authorized;  closing the escrow only when all terms and conditions have been met; and, distributing the funds in accordance with instructions.

Do I need documentation?
Receipt of your deposit is generally included in your copy of your purchase contract. Your funds will then be deposited in your separate escrow or trust account and processed through your local bank.

What information will I have to provide?
Typically you will be asked to complete a statement of identity as part of the necessary paperwork. Because many people have the same name, the statement of identity is pucused to identify the specific person in the transaction through such information as date of birth, social security number, etc. This information is kept confidential.

How long is the escrow?
The length of an escrow is determined by the terms of the purchase agreement and can range from a few days to several months. Typically an escrow often takes an average time of 30 to 45 days.

When does the escrow process end?

The escrow process ends when you actually close on the home, during the closing procedure. This is when all funds are transferred accordingly, when all documents are signed, and when you get the keys to your new home.

 

Common Mortgage Terms

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

If you are purchasing a new home, most likely you will be researching a mortgage as well. This can be a confusing process, especially if you are first time homebuyer. You will hear many different terms when dealing with lenders, agents and brokers. Below are some of the common terminology used so you can become familiar when going thru home buying process.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The APR for your home loan is an annual cost that includes the interest rate quoted by your mortgage company plus additional home loan costs such as origination fees and points.  Required by law, this amount is to be disclosed to the homeowner by the lender under the federal Truth in Lending Act. This amount includes up-front costs paid to obtain the loan but does not include the PMI,  title insurance, appraisal, and credit report.

Closing Costs: These are the expenses aside from the price of the property that are incurred by buyers and sellers when transferring ownership of a property.  These costs include origination fees, property taxes, charges for title insurance, escrow costs, appraisal fees etc.  Many times these costs are shared by the buyer and the seller.

Escrow: During the home loan process, a neutral third party known as Escrow holds documents and money (including earnest money deposits) for safekeeping until the real estate transaction is complete.

Points: The amount paid either to maintain or lower the interest rate charged. Each point is equal to one percent (1%) of the loan amount. This means that, to lower your interest rate by one point on a $300,000 mortgage, you’ll need to pay an additional $3,000 at closing.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI):  If you are purchasing a home and you do not have a the traditional 20 percent down payment,  lenders will require you to carry private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance will usually require an initial premium payment and may require an additional monthly fee depending on your loan’s structure.

Title Insurance: This type of insurance protects both the buyer and the seller against legal issues that may arise with a  home’s title. If a problem occurs, the title company pays the associated legal fees to correct the situation.   

There are  many different terms out there that will come up when you buy a home and apply for a loan. If you are ever confused or have any questions about a particular term or contract be sure to ask your realtor or real estate attorney for clarification before signing any legal documents.

Avoiding Loan Scams

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

One of the major things you will need to do if you are purchasing a new home, is to obtain a home loan. Unfortunately with the difficult economy and the availablity of loans more difficult, loan scams are on the rise. People with bad credit and the elderly are the most vulenderable and often targeted. Below are some tips to help you from being a victim.


Avoid Being A Victim

  • Avoid Unsolicited phone calls. Be wary of any phone call offering remarkably low interest rates on loans, especially if you have registered your phone number with the Do Not Call Registry. Most major nationwide lenders do not solicit business over the phone. Never give out personal information over the phone unless you are absolutely sure who you are speaking with.
  • Don't agree to anything with a too-high interest rate
  • Don't buy insurance from a lender without shopping around first.
  • Watch the terms for reinforcing. They might end up worse than what you've got now.
  • Don't sign anything that's been given to you as a surprise! If the terms aren't what you'd agreed on, do not sign the document.
  • Avoid bad credit mortgage rates when looking for a loan.
  • Many loan scammers use high pressure sales tactics, so if you feel pressured or uncomfortable in anyway, never sign anything. It is a good idea to contact a real estate lawyer if in doubt to review the documents. If the company is legit, they should have no objection to a lawyer looking over the loan agreements before you will sign them.

Warning Signs

  • Do business with reputable companies, stay away from unsolicited calls, e-mails or letters offering you a loan.
  • Never do business with anyone who asks for money to be sent in advance to cover "processing", "application", "insurance", or the "first month's payment". Legitimate lenders never ask for these things to be paid before a loan is disbursed.
  • Requests that you "wire" or "send" money, as soon as possible to a large U.S. city or to another country, such as Canada, England, or Nigeria, by Western Union, Moneygram, or similar means.

What To Do If You Think You Have Been Scammed?

If you feel that you have been scammed or the company you have been in touch with is suspicious, contact the below agencies.

  • The FTC
  • The FBI
  • File fraud alerts with each of the three credit bureaus. This is important if you have provided the scammers with your sensitive information, such as your Social Security Number and information on your driver's license. They can use this to obtain credit in your name.

Reverse Mortgages

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Reverse mortgages are becoming more popular as a alternative for senior citizens who are homeowners. A reverse mortgage provides a way for seniors to borrow against the equity in their home with no repayment due until the homeowner dies, moves or sells. Any remaining equity after repayment goes to the borrower or the estate.  

 If you are considering a reverse mortgage, it may be of benefit if:

•You need cash assets or income and have no other source available.
•You are unable or unwilling to sell your house.
•You do not care what the costs are to get the income or assets you need. (Recent law has helped limit the outrageous costs of reverse mortgages.)
•You have no concern about which assets are left to your heirs.
Make sure you thoroughly scrutinize all costs and provisions.

The amount of money you can borrow depends on your age, the current interest rate, and the appraised value of your home or FHA's mortgage limits for your area, whichever is less. Generally, the more valuable your home is, the older you are, the lower the interest, the more you can borrow. You can use this online calculator on the AARP website to get an idea of what you may be able to borrow.

There are some cost involved, many of the same costs that someone pays to obtain a home purchase loan, or to refinance their existing mortgage, apply to reverse mortgages too. You can expect to be charged an origination fee, up-front mortgage insurance premium (for the FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM), an appraisal fee, and certain other standard closing costs.In most cases, these fees and costs are capped and may be financed as part of the reverse mortgage. If a reverse mortgage sounds like it might be a solution for your situation, visit this website to locate a lender in your area.

Is an FHA-Insured Mortgage Right for You?

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

The days of putting little money down to buy a home aren’t over.

After years of risky mortgages backed up by small down payments, most lenders aren’t underwriting mortgages without a significant sum up front and a high credit score. But a decades-old loophole can still put home buyers in a house for next to nothing. Mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) allow borrowers to get approved with a down payment as small as 3.5% of the agreed selling price of the house and don’t require a high credit score.

As millions of Americans have come to realize, getting into a house for little money down has its disadvantages. Borrowers who’ve pumped little equity into their home are often more willing to walk away from it during lean times that keep them from making payments; this risk is further elevated when home values are in decline and troubled borrowers are unable to refinance or sell the home at a price that covers their losses.

Still, FHA-insured mortgages are far less risky than the subprime mortgages that lenders originated before the housing bust. FHA-insured mortgages require documentation and verifiable proof that the borrower is capable of making their monthly payments. (Most subprime mortgages didn’t require such proof.)

The looser terms of FHA-insured mortgages have helped make them more popular. Today, FHA-insured mortgages make up about 25% of the mortgage market, up from 3% in 2006, FHA commissioner David Stevens said in a speech earlier this month. In June, the FHA insured 194,000 loans – the highest monthly total in the agency’s history, according to Stevens. For fiscal year 2009, the dollar amount of FHA-insured mortgages is likely to reach 30% of mortgage originations, up from around 4% in 2005 and 2006, says Stu Feldstein, the president of SMR Research, a mortgage-data tracking firm.

“FHA-insured mortgages are one of the only games in town, especially if you can’t qualify for a traditional mortgage,” says Gibran Nicholas, the chairman of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based CMPS Institute, which trains and certifies mortgage lenders and brokers. “Now that the subprime market is gone, FHA is filling the gap.”

Home Buyer Loan Process - What You Need

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Once you have selected the type of loan you prefer and qualify for, the lender will ask you to complete a loan application, which will require a great deal of personal and financial information, including the following:

1) Your residence history
• Your previous addresses for the past two years
• The length of time you’ve lived at each address
• If you currently rent, your landlord’s name and addresses (for past 12 months)

2) Your employment history
• The names and addresses of all your employers for the past two years
• The dates you worked at each place of employment
• If there have been any gaps in your employment, explain why

3) All outstanding loans and credit cards
• The creditor’s name(s) and address(es)
• Your account number(s)
• The current total balance you owe and the months left to pay
• The amount of the monthly payment

4) Savings, checking or investment accounts
• The names and addresses for each financial institution
• Your account numbers • The current balance or value

5) Real estate you currently own
• The property address(es)
• The estimated market value
• The outstanding loan balance
• The amount of your monthly payment (including taxes, insurance, homeowner’s association dues)
• The amount of your rental income (if applicable) 6) Personal property you own • The net cash value of your life insurance
• The make, year and value of your automobile(s)
• The value of your furniture, jewelry and other personal property 7) Tax records • Some lenders may require copies of your tax records from the previous two years

If you would like to discuss the loan process and to become a pre-qualified buyer, please call us or request a loan analysis.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

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Contact Information

Photo of Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR Real Estate
Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR
Iowa Realty
3521 Beaver Ave.
Des Moines IA 50310
515-240-2692
Fax: 515-453-6404
 

 

 

Licensed in the State of Iowa