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We frequently hear we’re supposed to regularly check our credit reports. And staying on top of this is especially important when starting to shop for a new home. There are three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These bureaus store consumer credit histories by the millions, and hundreds of thousands of businesses tap these bureaus for their data about you. Unfortunately, mistakes can happen. Especially if you’re not the only “Bob Johnson” or “Susan Smith” who lives in St. Louis. 

Let’s say you receive a copy of your credit report and find a mistake—what do you do?  What if there’s an old collection account showing as unpaid when you have the paid receipt and a letter stating that the account has been settled?

Your credit report will show which of the three credit bureaus are reporting the error, and you’ll get a toll-free number to call.  But if you have ever called one of these numbers, you know to expect anything but friendly service. You know the drill, “Press 1 for English, Press 2 if you are a consumer, Press 3 if you’d like to enroll in our...” and so on.  It’s likely you’ll either leave a voicemail or listen to some sales pitch for a credit protection service. But all you want is to get your credit fixed so you can clean up your report.

You’ll be asked to fax your documentation, fill out some forms and then wait for the bureau to fix the report and update your file. This can take time, sometimes weeks. Luckily, there is an easier way: let your loan officer handle it for you.

That’s right. You can give that very same documentation to your loan officer and they can  have the offending item removed from your credit report in minutes. How can they do it so quickly?

Mortgage lenders use credit reporting agencies. Often. And those same agencies hire customer service representatives to make sales calls to all those mortgage companies.  One of their services allows the lender to provide the corrected documentation showing the collection account as having been paid to the credit agency, who will then update the credit report almost immediately. What once showed up as an “unpaid” collection account now rightly shows as “paid.” It’s that easy.

It’s important to regularly check your credit, and if you do find yourself in a situation where your credit report has an error on it, don’t go to the bureaus directly. Instead, take advantage of the relationship your lender has with the credit agencies. Your mortgage specialist can fix things much quicker than you can.

Five Year Increments by David Reed

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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

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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 1-4 of 4

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