Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 15

The Cost (And Benefit) of Home Ownership Today

by The Jana Caudill Team

Everyone generally knows one of the great benefits of homeownership is the mortgage interest write off come tax time every April.  The question is how does that benefit translate in real dollars?  Tough question.  The answer is, “It depends.”  Whether you saved a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars with the write off this past year there are many more factors involved for the home-renter considering becoming a home owner if you want a true picture of the bottom line benefit of homeownership.  Some of those factors already have dollar signs attached to them: current monthly rental payment, purchase price of home, mortgage interest rate, length of loan, etc.  There is a buying versus renting tool available here at the Ginnie Mae website to help you factor in all those numbers for a better picture of your specific situation.

Here’s a great article discussing those hard number factors as well as some of the more subjective dynamics like pride of ownership, dealing with landlords, long term plans, and the volatility of the real estate and mortgage markets.

Check our blog page for more informative personal finance articles, and happy house hunting!

Education and Preapproval, The First Step

by The Jana Caudill Team

Whether you’re a first time home buyer or you’ve been through the home buying process many times before, do yourself a favor.  Make speaking to a mortgage lender one of your first priorities when beginning your new house hunt.

Unless you have just come into a windfall of cash you’re probably like the rest of us and need to get a mortgage in order to move into that dream house.  There are many reasons for speaking to a mortgage lender or mortgage broker up front.  A professional who deals everyday in these types of loans will know what the current rates are.  They will take into consideration your credit scores, monthly income, available savings for a down payment, and best available interest rate based on all your information to come up with the loan amount you qualify for.

Please understand the primary benefit here: education.  This is a process not to be taken lightly.  The lender’s job is not to put you into the biggest house (and by association the biggest loan) possible.  Their job is to counsel.  Through the interview process they learn about your financial situation and determine your expected ability to repay the loan over the five, fifteen, and most common thirty year term.  The lender can also let you know whether there are some items on your credit reports that are getting in the way of your getting a better interest rate, or simply getting in the way of your qualifying for the loan altogether.

The mortgage market has changed over the last few years, and it has become more difficult to get that perfect loan.  Today you need more money for the down payment than you may have needed in the past, and guidelines for qualification are stricter than ever.  Speak to a mortgage professional you trust.  If you don’t have one, speak to friends, family and neighbors.  Ask who they have used in the past and what the experience was like.  Ask your friendly neighborhood Realtor® for a list of reputable candidates.  The last thing you want to happen is to find your dream home, write and have your offer accepted by the sellers, then discover you can’t get the mortgage to complete the purchase.  Get prequalified first, and house hunt with confidence.

This Month in Real Estate-February

by The Jana Caudill Team

Video-This Month in Real Estate

by The Jana Caudill Team

Affordability climbs as interest rates fall

by

Last week, the benchmark 30-year mortgage rate fell below 5 percent to reach an all-time low of 4.96 percent.

This rate is down from two weeks ago when it hit 5.01 percent.  "The outlook is very positive that these low mortgage rates will persist at least through the first half of the year. That is the timetable laid out from the Federal Reserve for pumping up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed bonds," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com.

Low interest rates mean more affordable mortgage payments. Act now and get into your dream home today!

 Click here to read the full article from Market Watch.

A Bad Wrap! by David Reed

by

We’ve all heard the term, “wrap around,” but what exactly does it mean? A wrap around mortgage, or simply a “wrap,” is an agreement where the buyer of a property makes monthly payments to the seller of a property, who then pays the original lender each month. This is perceived as a way of an owner “selling” a property to a buyer without the buyer obtaining conventional financing.

While a wrap can be viewed as a traditional sale, in reality it’s anything but.

All mortgage loans contain a “due on sale” clause. That means if the current owner of the property sells or otherwise transfers ownership then the lender can immediately call the loan in completely. In other words the lender says, “Okay, you sold the property, we want our money.” In the past, the due on sale clause was not as prevalent, but now all mortgage loans contain such language.

So how would the lender ever know? First, if it’s a legal transfer of ownership, the sale would be recorded and therefore become public record. Lenders would receive notice from the companies they employ to monitor such transactions. The lender could also find out following the change of the original owner’s mailing address.

Now say the owner of the property tells you that they could “carry the note” for you if all you did was make monthly payments directly to him or her. If your agreement was to pay $2,000 per month, those funds could then be directly applied to their original mortgage payment.

Many wrap arrangements require a substantial down payment from the buyer along with the agreement to make a mortgage payment above and beyond what the real mortgage payment requires. Wraps are typically made because the buyer, the seller or both are unable to secure financing. While it may appear to be a solution to a tough problem, a wrap around mortgage is inherently problematic (and generally not worth the trouble).

For example, what would happen if the seller was notified by the lender that an illegal transfer of ownership took place and the lender activates the no-sale clause and wants all its money back?

First, the seller would have to immediately refinance the current note, which would be nearly impossible because the property would have been sold.  A new lender wouldn’t finance the new deal nor would the buyer, because the lender wouldn’t recognize the new owner.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, what if the buyer indeed made the monthly payments on a regular basis but the owner somehow fell behind and didn’t make the payments to the original lender? The lender would be forced to foreclose on the original owner, meaning that the new buyer would lose the down payment and payments to the original owner!

A wrap around isn’t a “last resort” method of financing, it’s a “no resort.”  Violating the terms of a mortgage, having the mortgage called in by the lender and the buyer losing his down payment and presumed equity with no legal ownership rights is a losing proposition for everyone!

Getting a gift in the form of cold, hard cash to buy real estate is a wonderful thing. Gift funds are a common way parents help their kids buy a home, but there are certain requirements to follow to ensure the gift transfer goes smoothly.

What exactly is a cash gift? Technically, it is a transfer of funds from one party to another without any expectation of being paid back. This non-repayment factor is a key element because lenders can’t accurately calculate debt ratios if the gift is in fact a loan. How do lenders determine this? The “givers” are required to sign an affidavit stating that the funds being given are a gift with no repayment expectations.

Who can give a gift? Gifts can come from family members (parents, siblings or grandparents), non-profit agencies, local or state agencies, churches, domestic partners and trade unions. 

The party that furnishes the gift must show an “ability to give”, which means they have the money available in an account they own. This is documented by providing account statements showing the funds are available. Finally, it must also be documented that the gift funds were transferred from one party to the next and the lucky recipients (and future home buyers) must provide a bank statement showing the gift was received.

While the need for documentation might sound heavy-handed, the truth is lenders need to take every precaution to make sure that the “gift” isn’t a “loan.” So if you know what the lender expects ahead of time, the gift transfer can be seamless. Just remember, financial gifts over a certain limit may have income tax implications, so be sure and consult with an accountant or tax specialist before getting the mortgage process underway.

One final note to consider. Conventional loans differ from FHA programs in their requirements for reporting gifts to be used toward the purchase of a home. Buyers using conventional financing need to prove that they have at least 5 percent of their own funds in the purchase transaction. However, that requirement is waived if the gift represents more than 20 percent of the purchase price. The FHA loan, on the other hand, merely requires the buyers have at least $500 of their own money at closing, regardless of the amount of the gift.

Five Year Increments by David Reed

by

Which is better, a 30-year or a 15-year fixed rate mortgage?  A common and important question which, when answered, affects both the monthly payment and the amount of interest paid on a mortgage loan. While paying less interest over a shorter timeframe seems to be the obvious answer, the difference in monthly payment is surprising to some.

For instance, on a $300,000 note at 6.25 percent over 30 years, the principal and interest payment is $1,847 per month. Whereas on that same loan amount over 15 years at 6 percent, the payment jumps to $2,531! It’s easy to understand why most choose a 30-year loan over a 15-year loan; not only is the payment lower but it takes less income to qualify.

On the other hand, more money goes to interest on a 30-year loan compared to a 15-year loan. Using those same figures, the 30-year note yields $364,920 of interest, most of it in the first 10 years of the loan, while the 15-year loan only requires $155,580. That's less than half the interest that a 30-year loan produces!

So, which is better? Maybe neither.

While few lenders advertise this, there’s a compromise available to you. Loan payment periods can actually be acquired in five year increments. You don’t have to choose between a 30 and a 15-year loan! You can select a 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 year mortgage. Some lenders even offer 40-year loans. Now it’s possible to both keep monthly payments manageable and save on interest charges.

Here are the payments for these additional amortization periods on $300,000:
Term(yr) Rate  Payment
10 6.00% $3,330
20  6.25% $2,132
25 6.25% $1,979

                                            

Since these five year increments aren’t advertised you’ll typically have to ask your loan officer for a quote. Don’t be shy, you’ll find out that you just might be able to have the best of both worlds: lower payments with reduced interest charges!

Government Grants by David Reed

by

For first-time buyers, often the first thought that comes to mind is, “I need a down payment.” This is often followed by the question, “Now, where do I get that down payment?”

Depending upon the loan type, a home mortgage typically requires 3 to 5 percent down. If you have the money, then you’re set. But what if you don’t?  What if you’re renting? You can afford a mortgage within your means, but coming up with the down payment money needed to begin the transaction can be challenging. So, where can you turn?

One of the most overlooked sources of down payment funds is likely right under your nose—in the form of government bonds and local grant programs.

These programs either provide outright monetary grants for down payment or money to buyers in the form of a forgivable loan. In essence, the government will help you buy your home and you typically only have to pay back the money if and when you sell that same property.

In the past it was challenging to find these special programs, but now all you need is your agent, a computer, an Internet connection, and a search portal such as Google or Yahoo.  Enter the search terms “down payment assistance (followed by your city, state or province)” and see what pops up! It might just be the answer to helping you buy your first home.

Numerous closing costs come with any mortgage. There's a fee for an appraisal and a fee for a credit report... and the lender has its fees, too. And don't forget about the attorney fee, title insurance and escrow charges. Closing costs can vary from state to state and province to province, but you really don't have much choice of whether you want a survey or if title insurance is right for you. There will be a variety of services performed and records searched by different companies, and none of these come free of charge.

But there is one closing cost that you can control: discount points or, more simply, points.

A discount point reduces the interest rate on your mortgage. One point is equal to 1 percent of your loan amount, so on a $200,000 loan one point equals $2,000.

Why do some lenders charge points? In reality, all lenders pretty much have the same rates; it's just that sometimes a lender will advertise a rate with a point or a rate without a point. But the decision to pay a point is yours alone.

A point will typically reduce your interest rate by a quarter of a percent on a 30-year mortgage. If your lender offers a 6.5 percent rate with no points, then you may also get 6.25 percent with one point. So how do you decide?

It's simple. Just take the difference in monthly savings gained with the lower rate and divide that into the point. The result equals how many months it will take to "recover" the amount

you paid in points. Let's look at an example.

A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage of $200,000 at a 6.5 percent interest rate would mean a monthly principal and interest payment of $1,264.14. By paying an additional $2,000 in the

form of a point, your rate would drop to 6.25 percent and the resulting payment would drop to $1,231.43; saving you $32.71 each month. When you divide that $32.71 monthly savings into $2,000 you get 61.14, or about 61 months. Your recovery

period is slightly over five years. That's a little long in my opinion and I've never been a big fan of paying points. Instead, I'd encourage you to take that same amount and pay down your principal.

Remember: The quarter percent difference in interest rates when paying a point is an imprecise, general mortgage rule of thumb. Whichever rate you get, be sure to divide the savings into the points paid to see how long it will take to recoup the difference.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 15

Contact Information

Photo of The Jana Caudill Team Real Estate
The Jana Caudill Team
Redkey Realty Leaders
503 East Summit St., Suite 2
Crown Point IN 46307
219-661-1256
Fax: 219-663-5949